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Orion may live on in simpler design

America has been the leading spacefaring nations on the planet since the early days of space travel. The U.S. put the first man on the moon and continued to lead the world in exploration and space travel. President Obama unveiled a new budget for NASA in February that dealt many of its space flight programs a serious blow including ambitious plans for putting American's back on the moon.

Obama has already cut funding for the Constellation program along with the funding that would allow for the completion of the Orion crew capsule that would take astronauts to the ISS after the space shuttle fleet is retired. Many in Washington and at NASA have been calling for Obama to clarify his plans for NASA.

Obama is going to talk at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida about his plans for NASA and human spaceflight. The 
New York Times quotes an unnamed Obama administration official saying, "[The president will describe a plan] that unlocks our ambitions and expands our frontiers in space, ultimately meaning the challenge of sending humans to Mars."

Obama is reportedly going to propose a simpler version of the Orion capsule to be used as a lifeboat for the ISS. Obama is also expected to announce a commitment to choosing a design for a heavy-lift rocket by 2015. The official added, "This means major work on the heavy-lift rocket at least two years earlier than Constellation."

One of the big concerns is that the budget cuts will mean thousands of people working in the space industry in Florida and other states are facing layoffs. The 
Wall Street Journal reports that 7,000 workers at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida are facing layoff with the new budget. Concessions made to allow for a simpler version of Orion will allow 2,000 of those jobs to be saved.

NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver said, "He's [Obama is] putting a lot of political capital into it. Human spaceflight is a huge priority of this president."



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Doublespeak
By Mclendo06 on 4/14/2010 1:16:01 PM , Rating: 2
If Obama is so pro-space, then why does he want to toss 4 years and ~$8-10 billion worth of work on Constellation in the trash, taking the timetable for regaining manned space-launch capability out of NASA's hands? Orion is scheduled to be ready to fly in 5 years (call it 7 to be safe), and concrete progress has been made as evidenced by the ARES I tests that have occurred. If I were to WAG how long it takes for LM or Boeing to develop a launch vehicle for NASA (unless LM just continues with development of Constellation on their own) I would say 10 years. In any case, that is time that our nation's space-ops workforce is essentially out of work. Not to mention right now it looks like a bunch of people involved in spacecraft development are going to be out of a job as well, which is a problem when our country needs a new space launch platform. Am I crazy, or does the left seem to be largely anti-aerospace?




RE: Doublespeak
By Bateluer on 4/14/2010 2:05:50 PM , Rating: 2
Not only this, but how will US astronauts get to the ISS? This is a massively expensive project and we're about to be dependent on foreign nations to get us to the station that we built. It'd be laughable if it wasn't so pathetic.


RE: Doublespeak
By Mclendo06 on 4/14/2010 2:18:53 PM , Rating: 2
Make that one foreign nation. Who will have a monopoly on the ride to the ISS. Tell me that isn't going to get really expensive really quick starting next year.


RE: Doublespeak
By cmdrdredd on 4/14/2010 4:55:29 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Make that one foreign nation. Who will have a monopoly on the ride to the ISS. Tell me that isn't going to get really expensive really quick starting next year.


Starting at $55,000,000 A seat. That means if you want 2 astronauts to go to the ISS you pay $110million. We could do it for less if we extend the Shuttle program a few more years. yes I know it's old tech and whatnot, but it's still better than anything anyone else has currently.


RE: Doublespeak
By HotFoot on 4/14/2010 5:15:39 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt extending the shuttle programme would result in cheaper seats-to-orbit. Typical crew of 5 for a $800M-$1B launch cost, no?


RE: Doublespeak
By Mclendo06 on 4/14/2010 5:28:25 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget about the cargo bay. The shuttle isn't just a people-mover, so one must consider the cost of an additional launch to transport whatever cargo could be carried on the shuttle. Still, I wouldn't recommend extending the shuttle's lifetime. Based on how things have gone so far, each mission has a 1.5% chance of resulting in the loss of the crew.


RE: Doublespeak
By delphinus100 on 4/15/2010 4:19:03 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If Obama is so pro-space, then why does he want to toss 4 years and ~$8-10 billion worth of work on Constellation in the trash...


To be 'pro-space' is not to be pro everything space.

If a given project is clearly on the road to costing a great deal, to give us little more capability than we had with Apollo, and budget projections show it'll run into a financial wall in a few more years regardless, then yes, you cut your losses, stop throwing good money after bad, and look for a different approach to achieve your goals.

Nothing new here...see the same reaction whenever a military project isn't paying off, either.

...Except that when you cancel 'X' anti-aircraft gun, or 'Y' missile, no one claims you're canceling ALL United States defenses.

There IS more than one way to go to the Moon and elsewhere than Constellation.


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