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SpaceX Dragon capsule  (Source: dailytech.com)
According to NASA, there is a bit of testing where hardware, software and certain procedures are concerned

NASA announced that all is well with SpaceX's Dragon capsule, and that an April 30 flight to the International Space Station (ISS) is possible.

SpaceX, which is expected to be the first private company to send a spacecraft to the ISS, has been preparing its Dragon capsule for the flight. However, it delayed the Dragon's first launch to the ISS, which was set for February 7. The company wanted to conduct more tests before the cargo capsule took off for space.

"Everything looks good as we head toward the April 30 launch date," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations. "There is a good chance to make the 30th."

The Dragon capsule will be expected to carry 1,148 pounds of cargo to the ISS, which will consist of supplies needed for the space lab, and will return 1,455 pounds of cargo back to Earth.

The private company's Dragon has become an important part of the future of American space travel. Last year, NASA retired its space shuttle fleet, which U.S. astronauts depended on for delivering supplies to the ISS. Since that retirement, American astronauts have been forced to depend on Russian Soyuz rockets to make their way to the ISS -- and the cost of one seat on the Russian spacecraft is expected to increase to $63 million by 2015.

The U.S. knew it had to find another way to travel to space without depending on Russia. Funding was a major complication, where NASA urged Congress to provide $850 million for commercial crew vehicle development last year.

SpaceX arrived on the scene with its Dragon capsule, which is intended for both manned and unmanned missions. While Musk has been working hard on his Dragon, the spacecraft hasn't had an easy road up to this point. The February delay caused a bit of disappointment, and then American space heroes Neil Armstrong (the first astronaut to step foot upon the Moon on Apollo 11) and Gene Cernan (the last man to step foot upon the moon on Apollo 17) both publicly criticized Musk's inexperience with space-related vehicles. They even said that leaving the future of American space travel to SpaceX could lead to safety issues and cost the taxpayers at some point.

However, the Dragon has prevailed and even passed the first NASA Crew Trial last month. Musk defended his company and his Dragon, saying that the work accomplished until now and the road to the ISS ahead have not been easy.

"I think it is important to appreciate that this is pretty tricky," said Musk. "The public out there, they may not realize that the space station is zooming around the Earth every 90 minutes, and it is going 17,000 miles an hour. So you have got to launch up there and you've got to rendezvous and be backing into the space station within inches really, and this is something that is going 12 times faster than the bullet from an assault fire. So it's hard.

"I think we have got a pretty good shot but it is worth emphasizing that there is a lot that can go wrong on a mission like this."

But Musk said even if the Dragon doesn't succeed the first time, he will try again.

The final announcement regarding whether April 30 is the exact date of launch is expected April 23.

Source: Google



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RE: good luck
By Solandri on 4/17/2012 5:08:28 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
The USA has has over 900 bases in 150 different countries, why is the US in South Korea for half a century?
South Korea can look after themselves and they have Japan as a close ally.

Technically, the allied UN forces and North Korea are still at war. There was never a formal peace treaty, just an armistice (cease-fire) which has stood to this day. The U.S. troops based on South Korea call themselves speed bumps. They know their job in a North Korean attack is to die so there will be no impediment to US (if not UN) reprisal.

Japan's peace treaty with the U.S. following WWII prohibits them from creating a military which can operate outside of Japan (their military is called the Self Defense Forces, which you may have heard in some anime). In exchange, the U.S. agrees to provide for Japan's national defense. That's why the U.S. has bases in Japan.

The troops in Japan and Korea are about half of U.S. troops stationed abroad.

Most (all?) of the U.S. bases in Europe are NATO bases, formed to counter the threat of Soviet invasion. The vast majority of U.S. troops in Europe are in Germany, as a vestige of when it was split between East and West Germany. I agree most of these bases could be shuttered.

quote:
Or hows about the thousand of troops in my home country Australia?

The U.S. only has 198 troops in in Australia. If there are a thousand Americans stationed there, it's mostly their families and non-military support staff like restaurant workers.
http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/MILITARY/his...

quote:
Australia has never been invaded by a foreign enemy, they too can look after themselves and they have New Zealand right next door as a very tight military and economic partner.

Australia narrowly escaped being invaded during WWII. The battle of the Coral Sea was a tactical victory for Japan, sinking one U.S. fleet carrier and nearly sinking a second. At the time, those two carriers were half the U.S. main Pacific battle fleet. But it was a strategic victory for the Allies because Japan's losses forced them to abandon plans to invade Port Moresby in southern New Guinea to secure the south Pacific from Australian planes. In fact that was the reason the U.S. gambled half its fleet at that battle - like the U.K., Australia could not be allowed to fall. Japan's plans to conquer southern New Guinea had to be thwarted.

Had the battle gone differently and Japan had gone ahead with their plans for New Guinea, the Australian air bases in Townsville and Cooktown would surely have been bombed regularly. And there's no telling what the fate of northern Australia would have been.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Coral_S...

quote:
The money saved by pulling your asses out of other countries, could be used for things like Nassa Programs or enhancing the border protection between the US and Mexico to stop illegal immigration.

Afraid not. You could completely eliminate U.S. military spending - reduce it to zero - and we'd still be running a $700+ billion budget deficit. The 2011 budget deficit is nearly twice as large as U.S. military spending.

The fiscal problems of the U.S. the last decade has been caused by growth of entitlements due to an aging population, primarily medicare/medicaid (those combined with social security are projected to consume 100% of government revenue by about 2050). Unfortunately one side of the debate refuses to believe this and staunchly opposes any cuts to entitlements. They cling to the 1960s-era belief that all our budget problems can be solved by cutting military spending. That was true in the 1960s when military spending was nearly 60% of the Federal budget. It's not true anymore as military spending is only about 20% of the Federal budget, while the deficit is about 40%.

Read the latest CBO long term budget outlook if you don't believe me. I've been reading them since 2001 and they've basically been saying the same thing over and over for a decade: Entitlements will continue to grow, squeezing out other budget items, until we address them and make changes to reduce entitlement spending.
http://cbo.gov/publication/41486


RE: good luck
By TSS on 4/17/2012 8:36:39 PM , Rating: 2
Some good info there. And mainly i agree, however i do belive japan and south korea bases could be shuttered. World war 2 was a long time ago, trade relations are completly different now, Japan could once again be allowed to have a militairy strong enough to protect it's foreign as well as domestic affairs. The rising might of china will keep it in check, as well as in reverse.

And i see no reason why south korean troops can't serve as their own speed bumps. This does not mean i say close all bases, nor lessen any support for the south koreans (or japanese). Just saying that they are the better people when dealing with a zerg attack.

That said, this is not a budget sollution. Nor is reforming your entitlement system. I do agree it should (and will) be reformed, i'm just not of the opinion that the current people in power will reform it into anything that will actually save you money. Either it will decrease the ability of the population to pay taxes to the degree it costs you money, or it will be reformed into a system even less efficient, also costing you more money but for the same services.

That's because it's these people that allowed mandatory spending to get above tax revenue. Since fiscal 2010 you'd be able to not only erase the DoD, but cut discretionary spending in it's entirety, and still come up short (i thought $20 billion in 2010, it'll be more now).

It's also these people that ran up interest on the national debt to $450+ billion yearly. Both sides of the isle, bush hit it at 5% rates and obama managed to hit it at 0,25% rates.

And just look at the news. Campaign news for elections that won't be for another 7 months. Everybody already knows, it'll be obama vs romney and everybody can pretty much guess their views on things. Even the republican primaries where over in a week, romney is the most sane of everything the republicans put foward (but man was it funny).

Other news involves europe, that despite being in a debt crisis for 3 years now, still hasn't fallen over. Actually had a very ordily greek default, considering what it could've cost. It's likely other nations will follow a same path, lots of bickering but in the end orderly writedowns over a prolonged period of time. Won't solve everything, but if the past 3 years have shown anything, europe is slow. Slow to rise, slow to fall.

Meanwhile, there isn't a single peep about the debt ceiling debate, due in only 5 months, and last time cost you your AAA credit rating. You do realise that Europe (essentially germany), despite a 3 year crisis, STILL has that triple A rating?

Nor is anybody talking about the real issue, monitary reform. Well, yes, ron paul is. He's advocating a gold standard while the banks are the ones who own all nigh all the gold, by his own word since he wants to audit fort knox since he knows what he will find. And who caused the credit crisis again? Even if that's not the case and the US still owns gold like Geithner has said, i belive he said it was around $450 billion, or enough to pay the interest on your national debt for a year. Or to cause deflation of a few thousand percentages.

Mathematically it's not entirely hopeless. Just realistically, with the people in charge combined with the likelyhood of other people being put in charge, it is pretty hopeless.


RE: good luck
By StevoLincolnite on 4/18/2012 2:30:05 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Technically, the allied UN forces and North Korea are still at war. There was never a formal peace treaty, just an armistice (cease-fire) which has stood to this day. The U.S. troops based on South Korea call themselves speed bumps. They know their job in a North Korean attack is to die so there will be no impediment to US (if not UN) reprisal.


I'm aware of that, but common. South Korea aren't incompetent, they are a successful technologically advanced nation.
Their is a massive technological gap between South and North Korea, which should help in making up for South Korea's smaller military size.

Not to mention if South Korea was attacked, a large portion of the world would be ready to assist, their is no need for the US to station troops there and continue to waste money.

quote:
In exchange, the U.S. agrees to provide for Japan's national defense. That's why the U.S. has bases in Japan.


Again why? Since WW2 Japan has been a great, peaceful trading partner.
Let the Japanese protect themselves! I believe as a sovereign nation that they should have that right.

Again, that would save money.

quote:
The U.S. only has 198 troops in in Australia. If there are a thousand Americans stationed there, it's mostly their families and non-military support staff like restaurant workers. http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/MILITARY/his...


Wrong.
Recently the US president and our Prime Minster got together and announced that the US will be stationing a couple hundred troops and then building up to about 2,500 troops on rotation.
And the US and Australia have also been in talks to build an Airbase on one of Australia's islands.

We don't need the US here, this is our land, our country, I doubt the US would be too pleased if another country stationed troops on US soil for "defense" purposes.

quote:
Australia narrowly escaped being invaded during WWII. The battle of the Coral Sea was a tactical victory for Japan, sinking one U.S. fleet carrier and nearly sinking a second. At the time, those two carriers were half the U.S. main Pacific battle fleet. But it was a strategic victory for the Allies because Japan's losses forced them to abandon plans to invade Port Moresby in southern New Guinea to secure the south Pacific from Australian planes. In fact that was the reason the U.S. gambled half its fleet at that battle - like the U.K., Australia could not be allowed to fall. Japan's plans to conquer southern New Guinea had to be thwarted. Had the battle gone differently and Japan had gone ahead with their plans for New Guinea, the Australian air bases in Townsville and Cooktown would surely have been bombed regularly. And there's no telling what the fate of northe


I don't dispute the large part the US played in World War 2.
However... It's regarded that it still would have been highly unlikely the Japanese would have invaded Australia.

The Japanese were already stretched incredibly thin, Australia is a vast continent, full of dangerous flaura and fauna and even if the Japanese blockaded Australia's imports and exports we can be self sufficient.

Conversely... If we didn't have a large chunk of our troops off in Europe we would have had more at home to defend our nation. - However, those were different times, Australia was young, we believed when the British went to war, so did we.
These days, we think for ourselves.

quote:
Afraid not. You could completely eliminate U.S. military spending - reduce it to zero - and we'd still be running a $700+ billion budget deficit. The 2011 budget deficit is nearly twice as large as U.S. military spending.


But it would still be one way to reduce spending, if you could find all the ways to reduce the spending, it adds up.
It's not really an excuse to keep spending yourselves into oblivion.
The US almost went bankrupt last year for instance, don't you think things should change?
All that debt... That will end up as taxes that the US citizens have to pay. No way around it.

I think Ron Paul is probably correct on allot of these issues.


RE: good luck
By Solandri on 4/18/2012 2:47:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Their is a massive technological gap between South and North Korea, which should help in making up for South Korea's smaller military size.

Technology is good when you can stand back where it's safe and lob missiles (or fire them from drones) onto the enemy. Seoul is within artillery range of North Korea. Any new war there is going to be bloody, urban, hand-to-hand, with millions of civilian casualties.

Deterrence is also another big factor. The U.S. troops are not especially popular in Korea. But most Koreans see the value of the additional deterrence of having U.S. troops in the line of fire of a North Korean attack.

quote:
Again why? Since WW2 Japan has been a great, peaceful trading partner.
Let the Japanese protect themselves! I believe as a sovereign nation that they should have that right.

Oh I agree. But doing so would involve renegotiating the treaty with Japan. The former Japanese colonies (mainly China and Korea, but also much of the Indies and Indochina) have very personal experience of Japanese atrocities during WWII. They very much would like to see Japan remain defanged and declawed.

There's a lot of hubris in the West about the U.S. being evil. But in the East they've got strong memories of what real Evil is like, and they see that the U.S. pales in comparison. Germans at least treated the citizens of France, Belgium, and Poland semi-humanely (aside from Jews and undesirables). The Japanese saw themselves as the rightful rulers of the East, and other races were mere servants, akin to cattle. The East likes the arrangement between the U.S. and Japan just fine, and would strongly oppose any change.

quote:
Recently the US president and our Prime Minster got together and announced that the US will be stationing a couple hundred troops and then building up to about 2,500 troops on rotation.
And the US and Australia have also been in talks to build an Airbase on one of Australia's islands.

Then that is something you have to ask your government to stop. If my business partner is negotiating a deal with Microsoft that I don't like, I don't go to Microsoft and ask them not to make the deal. I tell my partner I don't like the deal.

From what you've described, it sounds like the U.S. and Australian governments see some value in coordinated training and operations, enough to warrant a U.S. base in Australia. You happen to disagree, but instead of blaming your government you are blaming the U.S. Ultimately each country bears responsibility for its own actions and choices. The U.S. has removed bases from countries which have asked it to do so. It's not like we keep them there against the wishes of the host nation.

quote:
But it would still be one way to reduce spending, if you could find all the ways to reduce the spending, it adds up.
It's not really an excuse to keep spending yourselves into oblivion.

The point was that this isn't a problem which can be solved by reducing military spending. It's a problem which needs to be solved by reducing entitlement spending. It's like being locked in a room with rising water. Yes you can stand on a chair or table to keep your head afloat a little longer. But the fundamental problem is that the room is going to fill up with water and you're going to drown. You need to address the problem (rising water/entitlement spending) first and foremost - everything else is a distraction. Yes you've manged to put a chair on top of a table by cutting military spending some more. Good for you. But you're still gonna drown when the water reaches the ceiling - you are still no better off than before.

quote:
The US almost went bankrupt last year for instance, don't you think things should change?
All that debt... That will end up as taxes that the US citizens have to pay. No way around it.

I completely agree. But the U.S. debt to GDP ratio is about 100% (used to be about 65% prior to the housing bubble bursting). Most of the EU survived for decades with 100%+ debt to GDP ratios, and Japan has been at 200%. So maybe we're wrong.

I cast my vote for more fiscal responsibility. But I cannot control how my fellow citizens vote. They seem unfazed by the reckless spending, so I guess that's the route we'll be going.


RE: good luck
By char2010 on 4/18/2012 9:08:36 PM , Rating: 2
I just have to say how refreshing it is to find an intelligent conversation on both sides of the Nasa issue. I almost forgot I was on the internet. Thanks to Solandri, StevoLincolnite and the rest of the writers!

I loved the Shuttle as much as anyone, but, in the end, I would have to say it was a drag on Nasa's budget and human resources. It was kind of akin to Nasa running a cargo airline (FedNasa?), repeatedly ferrying stuff up, at a cost of over $450 million a launch, to the Space Station (ISS). I frankly got sick of astronauts sitting up there in ISS for months growing crystals, or watching how bees fly in "microgravity" or floating their food into their mouths or whatever. It was all good science but we have not seen seen any true advancement in MANNED EXPLORATION since the Apollo moon program which ended almost FORTY years ago! In fact, we couldn't even duplicate the moon landing anytime soon.

Nasa flew astronauts 250 THOUSAND miles to the moon six times. The farthest our astronauts have been from Earth since has been about 500 miles. That''s right. The Moon is over 500 times farther away than the ISS. Forty years ago Nasa made going to the moon look almost routine over the six landings. The TV networks didn't even have live coverage of the later launches.

I'm old enough to remember the glory years of Nasa and I really think that's where Nasa belongs. On the frontier, going new places, doing amazing things. Their best space science lately has really been done by the Hubble Space Telescope and the various space and planetary probes. All unmanned.

We need revolutionary propulsion technologies to reduce trip times between the planets if we are to ever seriously consider manned exploration. A trip to Mars with present technologies would probably involve 3-5 crew living in a small cramped space for 3 years for an on-the-ground exploration time of around 6 months. Imagine the psychological testing we'd have to do on potential crew! Like, first question would be "Why on Earth would you want to DO this? Are you CRAZY? Imagine travelling for over a year, in a vehicle smaller than a school bus, to get to an essentially airless desert. Then tramping around for a few months before your over one year long return."

For a truly useful purpose for Nasa, how about missions to asteroids to test methods of deflecting them so when we eventually find one that is a threat to civilization on Earth we can do something about it.

Repeatedly flying the same design since 1981 to the same low earth orbit is not a lot of progress in over 30 years of manned flight. Nasa had to get rid of the shuttle in order to advance.


RE: good luck
By Aries1470 on 4/19/12, Rating: 0
"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher














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