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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 3/2/2010 7:50:08 AM , Rating: 2
So far you've done nothing but talk wildly, gotten several basic facts incorrect, and misrepresent the supporting data I've given -- all without giving any of your own.

A huge number of noted physicists and aerospace engineers have concluded that nuclear propulsion offers far more promise than chemical. It doesn't take much intelligence to understand why...even the worst nuclear engine we can build offers twice the performance of the best chemical one. With a little additional engineering, nuclear rockets can best chemical ones by an 8:1 or better Isp ratio, which calculates into payload:fuel ratios a thousand times higher.

It's easy to understand why The Space Shuttle never achieved a high flight rate. Look at the design -- strap on boosters, an external tank, tens of thousands of incredibly fragile thermal tiles...in 7 different flavors, no less. All sitting on top a pile of the most highly explosive fuel you can imagine, and tied to thrusters that can't be shut off once started. It's a nightmare.

None of that is necessary with a nuclear SSTO. The design is far simpler...and the massive performance advantage allows you to build a much stronger frame that doesn't ride so very near its design limits.

The Shuttle, for instance, experiences g forces of slightly over 3, and is only designed for a limit of 5g. That right there violates the basic "2:1 or more" safety factor engineers prefer to design around. The Shuttle also experiences heats of up to 3000F, which causes a multitude of maintenance, degradation, and safety issues. Again, this would not be necessary on a high-performance NTR.

Now, do you have anything from a reputable source to counter anything I'm saying?


"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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