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NASA's Orion crew vehicle  (Source: UPI)
Senate and White House compromise

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee terminated NASA's plan to send astronauts to the moon by 2020 by approving the construction of a new rocket for a new mission.

Originally, NASA wanted to send astronauts to the moon through the Constellation moon-rocket program, which is a human spaceflight program that aims to develop technologies and gain experience needed for space travel. In February of this year, U.S. President Barack Obama wanted to cancel the program through a proposal that would be effective with the 2011 fiscal year budget, but in April, he announced changes to this proposal during a speech at the Kennedy Space Center.

Obama's reconstructed plan was to rely on commercial rocket companies to help send cargo and astronauts to space for cheap in hopes of NASA being able to focus on developing more futuristic types of rockets. But Obama's proposal was shot down because of the importance of protecting home-state jobs, and also the strong distrust of commercial companies. 

Now, the Senate panel has settled on a compromise between what the White House wants, which is to see the commercial space industry grow, and what Congress wants, which is to see NASA built its own rocket. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee agreed by unanimous vote that NASA is to both build its own rocket, and plan a future undefined flight at some point. 

There are still large concerns associated with this new compromise, though. Many are afraid that it will end up like the five-year Constellation program, which was cancelled after spending $9 billion because of financial and technical problems that prevented any chance of there being a 2020 landing on the moon. In addition, there is substantial fear surrounding the fact that NASA is stuck having to build a new rocket without the proper resources needed to make it happen.

"The only big-picture question, in my mind, is whether or not the funding is adequate to perform this plan," said Leroy Chiao, a member of the presidential panel last year.

This new bill ensures the continued development of the Orion crew capsule, which began under the Constellation program, while also building the new rocket, which could potentially carry Orion to the International Space Station sometime before 2016. The bill plans to budget "more than $11 billion" over the next three years to set all of this in motion.

According to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), a liaison between the White House and Congress, the state of Florida would benefit from the new compromised bill because 2,000 jobs would be made for development of the new rocket and an extra 1,000 would be created for new commercial efforts. With 9,000 expected job losses from the Kennedy Space Center "after the shuttle's final mission" that would occur "sometime next year," this is a bit of a relief and an advantage that the new plan presents.

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Space Exploration
By JohnStClair on 7/18/2010 1:48:38 PM , Rating: -1
I was reading Dr. Kip Thorne's book about wormholes. The wormhole can be opened with negative energy. It has two openings which can be moved around. If we build an elevator and surround the shaft with one of the wormhole's openings, and then build a second shaft on the Moon for the second opening, then the elevator will rise into the first wormhole, experience a soft wavy space-time as it traverses the throat, and then emerge through the second shaft on the Moon. In fact, Andy Basiago describes something similar to this when he went to Mars where the US already has the underground MEPI Mars Experimental Planetary Institute there. If this is the case, then launch rockets and astronauts are obsolete.

RE: Space Exploration
By delphinus100 on 7/18/2010 6:55:31 PM , Rating: 4
Recipe for Rabbit Stew:

First, you catch a rabbit...

You got ant exotic matter/negative energy laying around? Who is Andy Basagio? Does he?

And I've read my share of Kip Thorne and Robert Forward, too. You don't need anything as fancy as 'elevator' structures, if you can do this at all. Just go into the damn thing, re-appear at the other. The 'other' could be sent to Mars (or wherever) by a leisurely slow ship (or a relativistic near-light starship*), where re-supply and re-fuel is simple, and everyone aboard could just 'step' back to Earth at the end of their shift, replaced by someone else.

(* And the traveling end of the wormhole is attached to that ship's frame of reference. If it's going to a star 50ly away, but close enough to lightspeed for time dilation to make, say, only 5 years pass on the can use this method to step directly from here to that distant star system, only 5 years after the ship has departed. Thorne has said this, too.)

But first catch that rabbit. Make and maintain a traversable wormhole, if you can. And though I'm not from Missouri, you really need to show me. 'Extraordinary claims' and all that.

Wake me when you have it.

"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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