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NASA still unsure how to end Constellation and move forward

NASA has been plagued with financial issues and a continued lack of innovation, but now faces the equally daunting task of leaving behind the Constellation program.

President Obama and numerous space observers have been appalled at how poorly operated NASA has been in the past, with internal struggle and political opposition expected to make change even more difficult.  NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has garnered support from some politicians who said the White House is doing whatever it likes instead of working with experts.

As part of the agreement to end Constellation, NASA is expected to pay $2.5 billion to contractors already working on the Ares Rockets, Altair lunar lander, and Orion space capsule.  However, it's unknown how accurate the $2.5 billion estimate is, even though NASA relied on its own analysts and industry analysts to calculate the price.

NASA originally hoped to return to the moon by 2025, as other space nations plan to send lunar spacecraft and manned missions in the same time frame.  China, Japan, Russia, India, and several other developing space programs have expressed interest in landing on the moon by 2030 -- space industry observers think China will be the next country to reach the moon.

The 2011 budget has likely ended any chance of NASA returning to the moon, with private companies expected to help transport astronauts into space.

President Obama must now try to limit ongoing bickering as he works with NASA, private contractors, and legislators during his presidency.  The U.S. space agency will now rely more on the private contractors until current funding problems are sorted out in the future.

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RE: The moon
By porkpie on 3/1/2010 3:54:38 PM , Rating: 2
" what pushes it up to the half billion mark is having to amortize the $2+ billion a year in infrastructure and standing army costs whether you launch or not.."

That's just the point. The Shuttle scratches a majority of its launches due to its massive complexity. The on-time launch rate for some RLVs is 5 times or more higher.

" Even reusing the Shuttle SRBs is no better than a break even with using expendable SRBs"

That's because our "reuseable" SRBs have to be essentially rebuilt after every launch.

RE: The moon
By CheesePoofs on 3/1/2010 5:21:37 PM , Rating: 2
Just because the shuttle is currently the only RLV doesn't mean all will behave the same and will be equally complex. See SpaceX.

RE: The moon
By porkpie on 3/1/2010 5:37:33 PM , Rating: 2
I meant to say ELVs there. You're correct, the failings of the Shuttle are not a blanket condemnation of RLVs in general.

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