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President Obama controls NASA's destiny, as the U.S. space agency needs at least $3B more per year

A 10-member government panel released a new 157-report that indicates NASA should consider ditching its new rocket, saying its findings can be considered options, not recommendations.

After construction of the International Space Station is completed in 2010, the three space shuttles that make up NASA's fleet will be retired.  The shuttle fleet retirement opens up a several year gap that will force the U.S. space agency to rely on the Russian space program to transport supplies and astronauts to the ISS.

"It's human spaceflight activities are nonetheless at a tipping point, primarily due to a mismatch of goals and resources," according to the Human Spaceflight Program Worthy of a Great Nation report.  "Either additional funds need to be made available or a far more modest program involving little or no exploration needs to be adopted."

The U.S. space agency has put high hopes on its Ares I rockets and Orion spacecraft, but the project severely lacks funds, which has led some to speculate the next-generation launch capsule is a mistake.  The timing of the report's release has proven to be interesting -- Ares is expected to make its first test flight later this month.

Essentially, the future of NASA is now squarely in President Barack Obama's hands, with the president's staff calling on space experts to share their thoughts and ideas.  Congress and the president will now meet to discuss the possibility of boosting NASA's $18.7 billion annual budget to $21.7 billion.

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RE: NASA is inefficient
By 91TTZ on 10/23/2009 9:55:44 AM , Rating: 2
Winglets. NASA research found that a vertical wing tip improves thrust and reduces fuel consumption.

You mean lift, right? Thrust is generated by the engines.

RE: NASA is inefficient
By HotFoot on 10/23/2009 10:22:30 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, no. Winglets will produce a small amount of thrust when they're designed right. Simply, there's wasted energy in the wingtip vortices and the winglets tap into it. They're a lifting surface, but it works out that a portion of their lift is forwards - by definition: thrust.

Wasn't it Dr. Whitcomb that pioneered winglets? I was sad to hear of his passing last week. Career wise, the man was my hero.

RE: NASA is inefficient
By Chernobyl68 on 10/23/2009 12:42:55 PM , Rating: 2
I thought they reduced drag?

RE: NASA is inefficient
By stromgald30 on 10/23/2009 12:48:48 PM , Rating: 2
Technically, not correct. Winglets reduce drag, which acts against of thrust. So, you could say that it increases thrust, but it would be more appropriate to say that it increases net or effective thrust (after drag is subtracted out) of an aircraft. Wings/winglets don't generate forward motion by themselves.

Lift from an aircraft standpoint is just what counteracts gravity. Lift from an airfoil view is whatever force the wing (or winglet in this case) generates perpendicular to the flow.

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