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Obama expects to be around to see man walk on Mars

The U.S. manned space flight programs were dealt a serious blow when Obama announced plans to go back to the moon were being shelved due to budget cuts and cost overruns. The budget cuts meant that the Constellation program would be cancelled.

The outcry against the President's plan was swift from space program supporters and NASA. Obama quickly began to take steps to alter his plans and called for the Orion crew module originally planned as the shuttle replacement to be scaled back and used as a lifeboat for the ISS. Obama had announced that he would talk about his plans for NASA and the space program in Florida earlier this week.

Obama has now aired his plans, clarifying some points and helping to dress wounds caused when he originally announced his plans for NASA. Obama's plan still calls for a scaled back Constellation program that would see the program continue, but only as a shadow of its former self. The changes still mean thousands in the space industry will be left jobless.

The shuttle fleet is set to retire this year with only three more scheduled flights remaining for the fleet with the last scheduled for September. Obama has promised additional funds to allow NASA padding if a launch has to be rescheduled due to weather. Some hope that the extra funds can instead be used to fund an extra mission.

Once the shuttle fleet is retired, getting astronauts to and from the ISS will be left to the Russian Soyuz spacecraft at a cost of about $50 million per round trip.

Obama sees the future of U.S. space flight in the hands of private companies. Obama wants a new industry that will see private companies offering transportation services to NASA rather than the vehicles themselves.

Obama said, "The new plan is to harness our nation's unparalleled system of free enterprise (as we have done in all other modes of transport), to create far more reliable and affordable rockets."

San Francisco Chronicle reports that Obama foresees manned missions to near Earth asteroids and perhaps even Mars in his lifetime.

Obama said, "[By 2025 the U.S. will have a new spacecraft] designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the moon into deep space." He continued saying, "We'll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history," he said. "By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it."

Obama said of a return trip to the moon, "We've been there before." Obama's plans for the space program still need the approval of Congress. Many lawmakers still plan to fight to keep the jobs that Obama's new budget will cut in their home districts. Obama's plans would see 2,500 jobs added in the Florida "Space Coast" by 2012. Thousands will still be unemployed due to the budget cuts.

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RE: Lost all faith
By randomly on 4/16/2010 7:03:38 PM , Rating: 0
Your ignorance is painful.

Low gravity in this case can be a very useful feature. It allows you to easily land an interplanetary spaceship and take off again. It also makes possible space elevator and tether momentum transfer mechanics possible using currently available materials like Kevlar. If there is ISRU potential for Phobos the low gravity well makes this extremely useful.
The low energy required to land on Phobos makes this radiation shielded location extremely valuable. Any manned mission to Mars will need to leave the Earth-Mars transfer vehicle in orbit around Mars, this would best be left on Phobos for protection since it would probably be manned.

RE: Lost all faith
By porkpie on 4/16/2010 8:37:17 PM , Rating: 2
You're the chap who was claiming Plutonium-240 wasn't fissionable, right? What part of "we're not going to Mars" do you not understand? I'm not even going to mention the building a space elevator silliness. You think Obama's proposing we do that?

A shallow gravity well is helpful only if you intend to land. And why do we want to do that? There's nothing down there you actually want. Landing is basically a stunt, so it looks like you've done something productive.

As for your overblown "radiation shielding" aspect, you don't need to land for that either. Just put yourself in a retrograde orbit around it, and you're getting the same benefit.

But that's moot. Radiation shielding isn't a goal in's just a way to allow you stay longer. It doesn't explain why you're going in the first place? If you're not intending to land on Mars-- what's the goddamn point?

All you've done is explain why a Phobos mission would be easier than Mars. You haven't said anything about why we'd want to go in the first place. The ONLY reason you'd want to do that is in conjunction with a manned Mars mission...and that's the ONE THING WE AREN'T DOING.

Get it now?

If we want a real Mars mission, we should have a crash program to get VASIMR or some other high dV alternative working, so the mission time is workable. A three year (or even the mini 2 year Phobos alternative NASA is proposing) is most of the reason the mission is so difficult. VASIMR could get us to Mars in a few weeks. No need for years of consumables, no need for massive shielding, no need for sleepy Hohmann transfer orbits. Just the beginnings of an actual, USEFUL interplanetary vehicle.

RE: Lost all faith
By randomly on 4/16/10, Rating: 0
RE: Lost all faith
By porkpie on 4/17/2010 1:15:20 AM , Rating: 2
Well, I don't know I'm explaining to someone who said plutonium isn't fissionable, or (even worse, if you really believed that) that you could still build a fission weapon out of a non-fissionable substance like Pu-240.

But since you've managed to mangle half my statements, we'll take your list one by one.

- That plutonium was used in gun type assembly weapons.

Mangled. What I said was that, though its never been done, its not impossible.

- That there was some kind of energy budget relevant in nuclear weapons.

Yep. The basic form of the equation is = (epsilon)(rho_0)(RF)(TF)(Lamba_sub1)(Lambda_sub2)

The first four are usually calculated as a constant for a specific geometry, and in nuclear reactor design, we call them the four-factor equation. Together with your escape probabilities, we call it the neutron multiplication factor...the nuke designer call it their "budget". They like cutesy little terms like that.

- That building a Pu239 device was trivial but more than trace amounts of Pu240 made it impossible.

Mangled. Its trivial w/ supergrade Pu. It's tough with reactor grade. It's utterly impossible with a 35% 240Pu sample.

- That Pu240 would require several times the critical mass.

You got that one right. Calculate the bare sphere size of a prompt critical 240Pu sample, versus one of 239Pu. Using a perturbation method, you get about 5X the mass.

- Thermal neutrons were relevant in nuclear weapons.

They're not irrelevant. (Though we thought so till we could run sims in the 1970s.) I'll give you a hint why, K? The urchin is beryllium, right? Now, remember your basic physics on kinetic energy and conservation of p. A neutron hitting a massy nucleus like U-235 loses little energy....a neutron hitting a light nucleus loses much more per collision. Take it from there.

Of course we don't use urchins any more, but a proliferating state will...or something very similar .

- That somehow increasing the neutron flux to address this imaginary problem was a cause of premature fission.

This one is so mangled I can't even tell what you pulled it from. A higher neutron flux will solve your k factor problems. It has nothing to do with spontaneous fission.

- That a 1 Kiloton fizzle yield was just a pop

It is. To a weapon designer, at least.

That fizzle yield was just some vague term and not the minimum yield energy

I already explained quite clearly why there is no theoretical minimum yield. Look up the history of radiological accidents. Our smallest "fizzle" on record was measured in watts , not kilotons. Want to hear about it?

(ok, watt-hours to be precise...but the watts sounded better)

RE: Lost all faith
By sigilscience on 4/17/2010 2:32:02 AM , Rating: 2
It scares me to think random internet geeks know this much about nuclear weapons.

RE: Lost all faith
By tookablighty on 4/17/2010 3:02:19 PM , Rating: 2
The urchin is beryllium, right? Now, remember your basic physics on kinetic energy and conservation of p
What the heck is an urchin, mate?

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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