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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 randomly on 3/2/2010 3:06:59 PM , Rating: 2
If you check the very first paper YOU cited you'll find they quote the exact same 900 sec isp limit I mentioned.
The 972 isp LANL engine was a design proposal not an actual engine and the figure didn't include the isp hit from the 15% residual fuel needed to cool the engine core after shutdown to keep it from melting from the residual decay heat.

The magical Fission Fragment Heated NTR with the 2,000-4,000 isp (that large range should make you suspicious from the get go) is a theoretical concept with no assurances that it can actually be made to work. You do realize that FFHNTR spews the radioactive fuel and waste out in the exhaust. The original concept is also a low thrust designs for in space use.

I quote from your report:
In order to design such a reactor, highly fissionable nuclear fuels such as Americium (Am) or Curium (Cm) must be used.These fairly rare fuels are produced from reprocessed spent nuclear fuel (via the extraction of
Pu-241 and Am-241), which is a very expensive multistep process.

If you look into that I think you'll find the costs and problems involved are considerable.

The FFH NTR, Gas core, and Light bulb designs besides all being hypothetical engines suffer from the same problem of radioactive fuel loss into the exhaust stream. This doesn't help the NIMBY problem.

This is the same techno-masturbation that results in people thinking Shuttle launch costs would only be $10 million, or that Tokamak fusion will become a cost effective energy source any day now. These wildly optimistic paper concepts almost never survive the process of actual implementation and never without becoming a shadow of it's former promise.

Remember how nuclear power was supposed to promise energy too cheap to meter?

Unfortunately Samim Anghaie is not fantasy, he was front and center in NASA's gas and vapor core reactor research. The studies I was referring to were Anghaie's on the characteristics and performance of Gas and Vapor core reactors. His work was often cited by others in the field. It doesn't completely discredit the field but it should be a reminder not to take everything you read as gospel.

Is Russia doing NTR development for LEO access? No. They abandoned their efforts long ago. Is China working on NTR? No. Is any space agency in the world doing NTR research for LEO access? No.

Maybe they know something you don't.

RE: The moon
By porkpie on 3/2/2010 6:39:51 PM , Rating: 2
"Is Russia doing NTR development for LEO access? No."

Is Russia doing ANY development for LEO access at present? No. They shut down Energia after a couple launches because they couldn't afford it. Attempting to portray this as some sort of failure of the technology itself is just nonsense.

NASA and the US military has repeatedly put forth proposals for nuclear propulsion. They are just as repeatedly shut down for budgetary and political reasons.

But you know better than all those aerospace engineers and physicists, don't you?

You keep spewing the same mantra, without ever giving one single source to back up your claims. Now its time to put up or shut up. Show just ONE reputable source that claims a nuclear SSTO is technically infeasible. I've given you plenty of sources that demonstrate otherwise.

"His work was often cited by others in the field. It doesn't completely discredit the field but it should be a reminder not to take everything you read as gospel."

This is your most laughable bit yet. Because one person who once did some NTR studies diverted some funds for personal use, that's supposed to not only invalidate all his own research-- but reflect on everyone else in the world's research as well?

Did you spin the little propeller on your hat before you typed that little gem? I'm done here. With illogic like this, I can see debate is futile.

"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer
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