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  (Source: NASA)
Fly me to the moon...

Last week, DailyTech reported that the Obama administration was thinking long and hard about going with some of the recommendations of the Augustine Panel with regards to funding NASA. Two of the recommendations that the administration was reported to implement were the elimination of the Ares program and diverting funds to bolster space vehicles developed by the private sector.

President Obama's budget request for 2011 confirms these previous reports [PDF], and anyone that was hoping that the U.S. would head back to the moon at some point will have to instead set your sights on a further target: Mars. NASA will not be receive the estimated $3 billion yearly boost in funding needed to head back to the moon which effectively kills off the Constellation Program (the Ares I/Ares V booster rockets and the Orion crew capsule).

The following comes from the fiscal 2011 budget guidance:

The Administration proposes to cancel the Constellation Systems program intended to return astronauts to the Moon by 2020 and replaces it with a bold new approach...

In place of Constellation, the President’s Budget funds a redesigned and reinvigorated program that focuses on leveraging advanced technology, international partnerships, and commercial capabilities to set the stage for a revitalized human space flight program for the 21st Century. The President’s Budget will also increase NASA’s funding, accelerating work -- constrained for years due to the budget demands of Constellation -- on climate science, green aviation, science education, and other priorities.

The Obama administration instead will fund research into technology that would be used for a manned mission to Mars. An estimated $6 billion will be dispersed to the private sector to develop "space taxis" to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) and back.

The reaction to the Obama's administrations decision to 1) axe a return trip to the moon in order to focus on Mars and 2) look to the private sector for reusable space vehicles has brought swift and furious reaction from some of those with close ties to the American space program.

"I, for one, intend to stand up and fight for NASA, and for the thousands of people who stand to lose their jobs," said Senator Bill Nelson (Democrat, Florida). Nelson served as a captain in the U.S. Army during the late 60s and early 70s -- he also participated in a 1986 space shuttle mission (STS-61C) as a payload specialist.

"It means that essentially the U.S. has decided that they're not going to be a significant player in human space flight for the foreseeable future," said former NASA chief Michael Griffin. "The path that they're on with this budget is a path that can't work."

Griffin also lambasted the move to use commercial space vehicles, exclaiming, "One day it will be like commercial airline travel, just not yet. It's like 1920. Lindbergh hasn't flown the Atlantic, and they're trying to sell 747s to Pan Am."

Not all reaction to the move has been negative, however. Not surprisingly, Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) president Bretton Alexander championed the move, stating, "NASA investment in the commercial spaceflight industry is a win-win decision. Commercial crew will create thousands of high-tech jobs in the United States, especially in Florida, while reducing the spaceflight gap and preventing us from sending billions to Russia."

The CSF is an industry association committed to promoting the development and safety of commercial human spaceflight. Some of the big names involved with the CSF include SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Spaceport America.

Perhaps more poignantly, CSF executive director John Gedmark remarked, "The Defense Department began using commercial rockets a long time ago to launch priceless national security satellites, that our troops' lives depend on. If the Pentagon can trust private industry with this responsibility, we think NASA can, too."



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I agree with this decision
By Cogman on 2/1/2010 8:15:36 AM , Rating: 4
Don't get me wrong, I think it is pretty neat to send someone out to the moon. It is probably the coolest thing ever for the guys that get to walk on the moon.

The thing is, What can we learn from landing on the moon that we didn't already learn in the 60's and couldn't learn from sending a rover up there ala the mars rovers? Not a whole lot. It is more a novelty thing now then anything else.

Yes, I do believe that the first lunar landings provided some pretty good benefits to mankind. However, similar jumps just wouldn't be realized by putting a man on the moon.

Perhaps putting a man on mars/a colony on mars would be pretty interesting. It would require the tech to get off a planet with a significantly higher escape velocity then the moon, something I don't think our current rockets are capable of accomplishing (the landing is a bit rough as well).

Other then the gee-whiz factor, what is there to be gained?




RE: I agree with this decision
By dark matter on 2/1/10, Rating: 0
RE: I agree with this decision
By sam1174 on 2/1/2010 9:10:55 AM , Rating: 5
Bad example. It's more like a family chosing to stop spending money on college for its children (the space program) while continuing to blow money on Twinkies, cable TV, 20 inch spinners, and "grillz". Why on earth would be cancel the space program while we continue to waste money on teapot museums, bridges to nowhere, free digital TV converters, and tunnels for turtles?

Unfortunately the stupid people in America are breeding faster than the smart people. The stupid people can now outvote the smart people. Apparently the stupid people don't care about the future. They live in the moment. And they don't want to have to spend their cigarette money on a $40 digital TV converter. So they have the government take my money so they can get a converter for free.


RE: I agree with this decision
By SilentSin on 2/1/2010 10:01:27 AM , Rating: 5
Those "smart people", while maybe becoming an endangered species based on your Idiocracy theory, are still around and many of them run successful businesses.

Where NASA once stood at the forefront of the US's PR push to be the best country in the world, that time has come and passed. In order to get to the moon in the 60's it required unimaginable costs and investments, something no single commercial entity could provide at that time besides the US/Russian government. It brought with it technological innovation at an astonishing pace.

Those technological innovations seem archaic in this day and age and stand to be improved upon immensely. It no longer requires a government organization with a country's entire GDP at its disposal. Corporations (even some individuals in SpaceX) have since become wealthy enough to tackle something of this magnitude because of technology advances and the possibility of huge profits from space tourism and sat launches.

I have to agree with Alexander in thinking that this might cause a rash of layoffs inside NASA, but has the possibility of opening up a 5 fold increase in job openings in the commercial space flight industry. Competition inside of a non monopolistic more free-market based space program stands a chance to revitalize that same sort of awe and sense of progress that people had with space in the 60s because it will be a completely different type of space flight. It will be aimed directly at Americans and other people of the world and not just scientists. Kids who grew up always wanting to be an astronaut might actually get their wish.

Many comments continually refer to the spin off products that came out of NASA. Do you think that having 2 or 3 other companies devoted to solving the same sort of problems that NASA faced will result in fewer innovations or more? Will that result in more efficient designs or less? I just have a hard time believing the mantra "NASA or bust". Is it really so unbelievable that someone else can possibly do it better?

I think the aim of these budget changes is fairly on target. The ISS should be a main priority and having a US taxi to get to it is of utmost importance. Relying on Russia to get there would do much more to hurt the country's pride in space flight than axing some programs at NASA that will be supplanted by commercial entities.

The moon won't disappear when China and Japan and India wind up getting there. The history books won't be re-written to say they were there first. I think it's time some people grew up and realized that there's much more to be gained in space than being the only country who can play CTF on the moon.


RE: I agree with this decision
By kyp275 on 2/1/2010 10:44:23 AM , Rating: 4
and just exactly what is the commercial incentive for the private sector in space travel now? oh yea, that's right, nothing. The only thing they've managed to achieve is barely making it to low orbit, hardly something that matches the capability of NASA.

In the recession-wracked economy of today, where exactly is the market for space travel? especially those that have the capability of traveling to the moon and beyond?


RE: I agree with this decision
By clovell on 2/1/2010 11:20:51 AM , Rating: 2
The market is in $5 billion + in government contracts that will be appropriated in the new plan, courtesy the largest budget deficit in history. Beyond that, idk.


RE: I agree with this decision
By s d on 2/2/2010 12:08:55 AM , Rating: 2
In this dailytech review the two persons quoted in support of this communist Obama are turnkeys for the communist party.

Bretton Alexander

quote:
Not all reaction to the move has been negative, however. Not surprisingly, Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) president Bretton Alexander championed the move, stating, "NASA investment in the commercial spaceflight industry is a win-win decision. Commercial crew will create thousands of high-tech jobs in the United States, especially in Florida, while reducing the spaceflight gap and preventing us from sending billions to Russia."


http://www.campaignmoney.com/political/contributio...

and

John Gedmark

quote:
Perhaps more poignantly, CSF executive director John Gedmark remarked, "The Defense Department began using commercial rockets a long time ago to launch priceless national security satellites, that our troops' lives depend on. If the Pentagon can trust private industry with this responsibility, we think NASA can, too


http://www.campaignmoney.com/political/contributio...

draw your own conclusions as to if they are speaking for mankind and the pursuit of knowledge/advancement or just a paycheck for their businesses!


RE: I agree with this decision
By Mitch101 on 2/1/2010 11:35:54 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
In the recession-wracked economy of today, where exactly is the market for space travel?

Thats like someone asking where is money for them to buy a new car while they are unemployed?


RE: I agree with this decision
By kyp275 on 2/1/2010 2:50:19 PM , Rating: 2
sure, if the car you're talking about is a Veyron :P


RE: I agree with this decision
By SilentSin on 2/1/2010 12:09:50 PM , Rating: 3
This really isn't about the recession-wracked economy of today. Economy works in cycles, recessions are to be expected and there are a lot of industries that have gotten a really nice start right in the middle of recessions. When the recession ends they are firing on all cylinders and ride the wave of economic upturn.

For long term projects such as commercial space flight there are a lot of reasons to try and get a foot in the door now regardless of what the economy looks like today. You want to be the first company that can mine an asteroid; to own that first space hotel charging $100,000 a night (yes believe it or not there are people out there who can afford that even in such dire times). In order to do that in the future, you have to take risks now.

NASA has no real interests in such ventures because that's not where it gets its funding, it'd be too risky. So, who do you think stands the best chance at doing any of those things? Is it the company that built a taxi shuttle for NASA to use to get to the ISS now and knows its way around, or the company that sat on its hands until it was "safe" and has to start from scratch? The government startup funds suggested here that are taken out of NASA's cut and dispersed elsewhere would help enormously with some of those initial risks. There is definitely a motivation to get out there, and any little push in the right direction will only help that cause.

As an aside, low orbit flight is actually one of the more potentially profitable markets out there. How much do you think a company could charge if they offered a sub orbital flight from Tokyo to London in ~2 hours? Can't do that in a 747. IIRC, the XPrize wasn't even enough to cover the cost of building the rocket that won. It was about more than that check. Let the people who want to make a profit find a way to do it. It obviously can be done, but you gotta start somewhere.


RE: I agree with this decision
By kyp275 on 2/1/2010 2:48:52 PM , Rating: 1
No it's not just about today's economy, because even in the best of times the idea of investing in space ventures is substantially more risky than most companies are willing to accept, especially ones that involve going outside of low earth orbit, given the massive cost that it involves.

What I'm getting at is that at present there is just about zero incentive for any private venture to foot the R&D bill on interplanetary capabilities. It's one thing to set up a space hotel in low orbit, which is something we can already do and hardly requires much in the way of new technology, but it's something else entirely to setup a lunar outpost/shipyard, and viable transportation to other planets in the solar system.

Just name one company who's capable and willing to spend tens or hundreds of billions of dollars to develop those capabilities, with the profit projection of "???"

yea, that's what I thought.


RE: I agree with this decision
By HighWing on 2/1/2010 4:20:34 PM , Rating: 2
you really can't see past today can you! It's all about planning for the future, ie when this recession ends!

Now to answer your query, have you not heard of Virgin Galactic? They certainly have the money and have already shown the willingness to take the risk. Oh and guess what they even found a way to profit from it!! While it is true that they are primary doing sub-orbital flights, if you think that is all they plan to do, then you really have no foresight for future planning. Plus sub-orbital flight is a key step to moving further. It is after all one step NASA did on the way to the moon.

And that is just "ONE" company! There were several others that were competing for the Ansari X Prize. Why did they do it when it's pretty clear the prize money was no where near the production costs? Do you really think all those other competitors just quit after the first prize was won? Hell no, many of them are still out there and working towards the next prize. You tell me, what is "their" incentive, because they are out there and already working towards goals of space flight and moon travel. Obviously they see something you don't!

I also have to say I find your examples proof of how little you really understand things. You say it's nothing to set up a Space Hotel, but it would be a big deal to set up a lunar outpost/shipyard which you explain to mean a "Space Hub" for travel further into space..... Seriosuly!! How is a space hotel really different from a Lunar outpost?

In fact the "hotel" seems like a bigger deal than a lunar outpost. Think about it, for a hotel, there would be more regular traffic than an outpost. Thus causing more advances in Space Taxi Flight, much like Airplane travel. Also, do you really think they would stop at just "one" hotel? eventually they would be working towards putting one on the moon and further. Thus creating the first lunar colony and further "hotels" would continue to push our abilities at Space Flight. Think about it, what are hotels used for other then vacation?

Yeah that's what I thought!

And that is just "one" example of known profitability. Ever think about Zero G amusement parks? What about a rehab clinic? Wouldn't have to worry about contraband in a clinic that is hard to get to.

Point is, just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it's not there!


RE: I agree with this decision
By JediJeb on 2/1/2010 5:19:08 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. Just think about sea travel to the Americas 400+ years ago. It started with someone thinking they might be able to make money if they found a shortcut to India. Then government sponsored expeditions looking to benefit the governmental treasuries. But the real boom in travel came when the trading companies found a way to make money at it.

We had our Columbus when we had the early Russian and US programs like Gemini. Our second wave was Apollo, Skylab, Meir, ISS and the Shuttles. Now it is time for the third wave of commercial ships to go to space.

For the eco groups out there, just imagine if we could move manufacturing off planet, that would help reduce pollution here. For a lot of processes zero gravity could make things more efficient. Imagine how much power solar cells would generate on the Moon with no atmosphere to interfer with the sunlight coming to them. Since you would need solar or nuclear for power there would be a new surge in research in those areas, because it would be too inefficient to ship fossle fuels up there. Someone might find an asteroid that is loaded with Lithium for batteries, or Platinum to use as catalyst, or many other materials that would make the first ones there new billionairs.

Right now it is prohibitive for companies to do much more than plan, but given a contract for shuttling astronauts that will pay the bills while they do research would be a big boost to the companies interested in pushing out into space. When IBM started selling commercial computers everyone though they were crazy, but look at where that has brought us to now. If they had not taken a risk, we probably would not be having this discussion on a website right now, or at best probably on some simple monochrom monitor in a text only bbs. You never get ahead until some risks are taken, it just comes down to who will take them. I think the government has taken all the risks it is going to, so why not give the private sector a good shot at it.


RE: I agree with this decision
By kyp275 on 2/1/2010 10:27:45 PM , Rating: 2
No one is saying that the private sector's effort should be stopped, all we're saying is that there is still a need for government lead efforts in development, especially in the area outside low earth orbit.

Asking the private sector to spearhead that effort right now would be akin to asking those trade companies to spearhead trips to the Americas... with kayaks


By delphinus100 on 2/5/2010 12:21:05 PM , Rating: 2
Of course. The question is, was Constellation as we knew it, the best way to achieve that? It wasn't.

And unfortunately, far too many people equate 'the end of Constellation' with 'the end of US plans to return to the Moon,' or even 'the end of US manned space flight altogether.'

Anyone who believes either one has not been paying attention...


RE: I agree with this decision
By kyp275 on 2/1/2010 10:18:44 PM , Rating: 2
It's not that I can't see past today, it's YOU who lacks an understanding of how the real world works, or even how space travel works.

A space hotel would be nothing more than a low orbit station, much like the ISS, which is nothing new to build, it's merely a matter of cost. A permanent lunar outpost/shipyard is far larger in scale, and the cost and material required, not to mention the technological barriers, is on a completely different level than a mere low orbit station. This is such a no-brainer that I don't know why I even have to explain it to you. It's like comparing a sail boat to a nuclear aircraft carrier.

You can't hope to use space tourism to act as the main drive for expansion in space travel. Sure, it'll work for easy, low cost, low orbit stuff, but there is no practical mass market appeal for it to go beyond a niche market in the foreseeable future.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not dissing the private industry's efforts, but the fact remains that it is still in its infancy, and is in no position to spearhead development effort for interplanetary travel any time soon.


RE: I agree with this decision
By porkpie on 2/1/2010 10:56:32 PM , Rating: 2
"You can't hope to use space tourism to act as the main drive for expansion in space travel"

While I agree with your basic philosophy, you have to remember the old saying that "once you're in low earth orbit, you're halfway to anywhere in the solar system". If private industry can lower the launch costs of reaching NEO, it will certainly drive expansion outward.


RE: I agree with this decision
By kyp275 on 2/2/2010 1:19:12 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, but as long as space tourism remains the main focus for commercial space venture, I don't think they'll expand much beyond basic small scale LEO orbiters, as that's more than capable of meeting the demand of space tourism.

Not to say that cheap LEO orbiters aren't useful, but to take advantage of that, you need a staging point at or beyond LEO from where to drive the outward expansion, and the moon provides an ideal place for a permanent outpost to serve that purpose, and to create one, you'd need substantial heavy lift capability from Earth, something I don't see the private sector will be going in for awhile.


RE: I agree with this decision
By porkpie on 2/2/2010 9:15:32 AM , Rating: 2
That's just the point. A "small scale LEO orbiter" is all we need...IF it can deliver a payload cheaply and efficiently. The massive expense of a lunar mission is almost entirely launch costs to lift the hardware.

The hard part is getting into orbit. Once there, you could outfit a derelict '57 Chevy with oxygen tanks, and fly it to the moon.


RE: I agree with this decision
By kyp275 on 2/2/2010 2:13:34 PM , Rating: 2
and that's what I'm skeptical about, whether a LEO orbiter developed by the private sector to ferry small number of passengers will have the ability to deliver sufficient payload.


RE: I agree with this decision
By porkpie on 2/2/2010 2:24:30 PM , Rating: 2
If it can deliver 6 passengers plus baggage, it can deliver a couple of tons. Two trips without passengers would deliver 4 tons of fuel...enough for a trip to the moon for a ship already in orbit.


By SilentSin on 2/2/2010 9:22:20 AM , Rating: 2
It can meet the demand for space tourism now maybe, but people tend to have an insatiable appetite to visit exotic locales. Once we do get infrastructure on the moon and a way to get there "cheaply" and safely there will be a boon for moon tourism and settlements as well. I would liken it to the flood of people that came with the railroads finally making it to the western US after the gold rush had started to take off.

I agree with you that government control is still necessary for a large portion of what is done in space. Nobody else has the experience or resources to do what NASA can at the moment (billions of dollars a year without worry for profits helps a tad there ;). I do, however, believe that we must foster the newcomers to an industry that will eventually become a top priority for the human race as a whole. Why not start now? Tackling the problems from multiple angles and approaches can only serve to better our progress in the long run, no matter if the intention is for science or pleasure. Small steps can lead to giant leaps.

Heavy lift capability is one of the areas you hit on that still needs to be under NASA and it would actually be under government control in this new budget plan. In fact, you could say it has a better outlook than it did previously because more funds are allocated towards it sooner. I'll point you towards ars, which has a much better analysis of the changes than presented here: http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2010/02/nasa-r...

The private sector will eventually get there, but there will be a lot of questions of national security and red tape before we let Virgin Galactic develop a Saturn V (or at least I hope).

I wish that the administration would simply increase the budget by $15 billion in order to get the best of everything. On the other hand, I do understand a need to save funding for other areas, even if it doesn't seem like a billion here or there is that much money anymore. Could US money be allocated better? Sure, but that's for another discussion.

Working within constraints is never easy, something invariably has to get cut. The Constellation program is(was?) a leech on NASA's side, and while it had promise it just wasn't feasible under the current budget in any meaningful time frame. We'll see what the rest of DC thinks about the plan, though, as they still have to approve it. This will be a very interesting area to watch over the next couple of decades.


RE: I agree with this decision
By jabber on 2/2/2010 6:55:41 AM , Rating: 2
Thing is you can have a meeting pretty much instantaneous without the need for travel already.

It'd call video conferencing and if done properly it works really well and costs very little once installed.

Unfortunately, execs like their travel jollies and expenses accounts.


By stromgald30 on 2/1/2010 2:19:33 PM , Rating: 2
For the most part, I'd agree with you. However, I believe NASA does produce more new innovations than several companies (or one) with the same R&D funding. Why? Because of the culture of innovating and getting things right with less concern for the bottom-line. In a corporation, R&D departments are always fighting to obtain and justify their $$. NASA simply allows for better innovation.

Now, I'm not arguing that NASA should continue to maintain a space taxi system like the Shuttle or Ares I. Those should've been handed off to commercial ventures back in the late 80s. Many NASA engineers and managers pushed for handing it off to industry (much like what was done with COMSAT's communication satellite business in the 70s). NASA is an innovation house, they are ill-equipped culturally and personnel-wise to run an efficient long-term operation. However, at the time, the government thought it was prudent to wait.

Now that the NASA supported space taxi systems have overstayed their welcome, the government is prematurely axing the Ares I and leaving the US with no orbital space flight capability or ISS access. As much as SpaceX and other small aerospace companies have come along in space flight, they have yet to even attain orbital velocity, much less access the ISS. This move should've been done when the Shuttle was still operational. But, the government has botched things again with the timing of this move.

My biggest fear is that this axing and putting off of the Moon/Mars missions will simply be perpetuated by later administrations. Twenty or thirty years from now, China/India/Russia will be launching to Mars, and we'll be playing catch-up. It'll be another debacle, just like what social security has become from administrations pushing the issue off to a later administration.


RE: I agree with this decision
By mforce on 2/1/2010 10:03:19 AM , Rating: 4
Even though I'm not from the US I completely agree with this point of view. It's not just a problem in the US though, it's a problem everywhere. People live too much in the present and don't seem to care about the future.

I suppose it's easier to think about what you're going to have for lunch tomorrow than getting to Mars or space exploration.

The US is spending very ,very much money with its military while spending very, very little for space exploration. I don't think this is smart. Not even from a commercial point of view.

I'm sure the Chinese will go ahead with their plans for the moon and later for Mars. If they will succeed it won't be just the bragging rights but also the resources and the commercial exploration which will probably be theirs for the taking. I know space belongs to all and such but if you can't even get there it's not really yours , is it ?

If you don't invest money into the future you will eventually have a problem. The US is not doing well as it is , investing now in the space program might give it some hope for the future. Right now with the things US invest in I for one don't see a bright future.

Having a powerful army is nice but these days even North Korea can nuke a country into oblivion so what's the use ?


RE: I agree with this decision
By porkpie on 2/1/2010 2:26:25 PM , Rating: 3
"Having a powerful army is nice but these days even North Korea can nuke a country into oblivion so what's the use ? "

Good philosophy...why even try to protect ourselves from annihilation?

Fortunately both your morality AND your facts are unsound. North Korea can possibly reach Alaska with missiles...and even the current miniscule US missile defense shield could shoot down anything they lobbed our way.


RE: I agree with this decision
By WinstonSmith on 2/1/2010 10:03:38 AM , Rating: 2
The Twinkies, cable TV, 20 inch spinners, etc. are manned spaceflight and the ISS. HUGE expense, MINUSCULE real science return.

Robotic missions, period. Much lower cost, vast science returns, no one killed if something goes wrong, develop highly useful technologies for practical use like robotics and AI.


RE: I agree with this decision
By porkpie on 2/1/2010 2:32:48 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, but you're wrong. If robots were as good as people, we'd be using them as workers everywhere from your local barbershop and McDonalds up to doing open heart surgery.

For many pure science missions, robots are better. But did robots fix the Hubble telescope? Can robots build a moon base that will eventually become a major industrial center?

Even remote controlling a robot on Mars is next to impossible, given speed of light delays in communication. Did you really not wonder why it took 2 days to move those rovers a few feet up a hill? Every time you give a command, you have to wait several hours to get a response. A manned mission would have done five times the science in one fifth the time.


RE: I agree with this decision
By SPOOFE on 2/1/2010 2:37:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If robots were as good as people, we'd be using them as workers everywhere from your local barbershop and McDonalds up to doing open heart surgery.

Those are situations in which using people is more COST EFFECTIVE than robots. They are also situations in which weight is not a significant factor, and thus is fundamentally different than space travel. The thousands of extra pounds necessary to support a person cost far more in space than a sophisticated robot would. Unmanned space exploration is far cheaper than manned.


RE: I agree with this decision
By porkpie on 2/1/2010 2:44:43 PM , Rating: 4
"The thousands of extra pounds necessary to support a person cost far more in space than a sophisticated robot would"
As I already pointed out, the only problem is that our "sophisticated robots" of today are about as intelligent as a flea. And even the best have the manual dexterity of your average cerebal palsy victim.

No one is disputing robots are CHEAPER. The problem is there are countless tasks are robot CANNOT perform. No matter how much we spend to build it.


RE: I agree with this decision
By Reclaimer77 on 2/1/2010 2:46:49 PM , Rating: 2
Plus they are incapable of innovation, random thought, and complex problem solving.


RE: I agree with this decision
By thurston on 2/1/2010 8:35:32 PM , Rating: 5
I knew you were a robot.


RE: I agree with this decision
By jonmcc33 on 2/1/2010 10:06:33 AM , Rating: 2
Very true but this isn't against the space program as much as it is against exploring the moon. The moon is nice and all but cannot support life and we pretty much understand what it is at this point.

We do need to continue space exploration for the future to find life beyond our solar system.


RE: I agree with this decision
By The0ne on 2/1/2010 10:39:45 AM , Rating: 3
I couldn't agree more; that's why I love the movie idocracy. Funny but fcking scary at the same time.


RE: I agree with this decision
By gwzubeck on 2/2/2010 1:45:21 PM , Rating: 2
Got any gatorade? I need to water my crops with sports drinks! LOL


RE: I agree with this decision
By clovell on 2/1/2010 11:18:49 AM , Rating: 1
Don't even get me started on this year's budget - what a tragic joke, that we'll all be paying for in the decades to come.

Privatizing our nation's spaceflight program is a mistake - but, I suppose it's more popular to funnel government contracts to your buddies in commercial spaceflight than to your buddies at Haliburton.

When the government of the rich & powerful has subsidized the majority of the electorate, and raised taxes that all but prevent new wealth from forming and contesting their power, we no longer reside in a democracy. We may not be quite there yet, but believe me, it's happening.


RE: I agree with this decision
By guy642002 on 2/1/2010 11:18:20 AM , Rating: 2
Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that. George Carlin


RE: I agree with this decision
By HotFoot on 2/1/2010 11:57:01 AM , Rating: 2
... I can't tell if the wrong math term 'average' is part of the joke or something that Mr. Carlin didn't get himself.


RE: I agree with this decision
By porkpie on 2/1/2010 2:16:31 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I can really see Carlin trying to explain the difference between mean, median, and mode to a drunken audience.


RE: I agree with this decision
By Bonesdad on 2/1/2010 11:57:23 PM , Rating: 2
Who said anything about canceling the space program? In fact, from what I read, NASA budget is increasing over the next 5 years. They are just shifting their priorities. Maybe going back to the moon is a good idea, but we should have a valid REASON for going back before we spend a ton of $$ on it.


RE: I agree with this decision
By dxf2891 on 2/2/2010 1:21:44 PM , Rating: 2
I try to avoid these political rants, but you guys keep pulling me in. Why is it that when the political winds don't blow in the directions that YOU want, America is in the toilet. As you and your kind are so fond of telling immigrants, "If you don't like it, there's the door." You have no compunction about YOUR government spending YOUR money on things that YOU approve of, but you do not want MY government to spend MY money on things I approve of. I am well aware that the monies collected are by no means limitless, but if one more person says that my childrens' or my grandchildrens' future is mortgaged, I think I'm going to wretch. Your grandparents paid taxes, your parents paid taxes, you pay taxes, your children will pay taxes and your grandchildren will pay taxes. I don't foresee the cycle ending anytime soon. Why is okay to spend our tax dollars on blowing up some foreign country, only to use our tax dollars to rebuild it and not do some of that rebuilding here? There are areas in this country that are worse off than some of the countries we have fought in. I'm not talking about Socialism either. But our country is only as strong as the worst of us. Let's clean up our own house before we attempt to police the world. Military might does not always make right.


By dark matter on 2/1/2010 12:06:51 PM , Rating: 1
For some unknown reason to me I was voted down royally for that comment.

The point was that it is a lot of money to visit somewhere you have been before. Especially as there was nothing much there the first time.

Surely it would be better to save a bit more and try somewhere else.

Perhaps it was the part about the debt that got to people. *shrugs*


RE: I agree with this decision
By Mitch101 on 2/1/2010 8:55:46 AM , Rating: 4
As another posted stated the US has other problems with the economy and war. And I agree we have other things to worry about right now than giving NASA a few billion dollars to send a person to a place we have already been to.

To me NASA is embarrassing itself by not acknowledging the people that fund it in the first place need help more than they need to send someone to collect rock samples from a place we have already been. Looks like NASA needs some management/priority changes as well.


RE: I agree with this decision
By Reclaimer77 on 2/1/10, Rating: -1
RE: I agree with this decision
By Mitch101 on 2/1/2010 11:02:43 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Obama has destroyed the economy


Really? Its wasn't falling apart when he took office?

Tell me exactly how much more in taxes your paying as a direct result to the increased deficit? How much more exactly is coming out of your paychecks as a direct result of the Obama administration?


RE: I agree with this decision
By nct on 2/1/2010 11:20:08 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Tell me exactly how much more in taxes your paying as a direct result to the increased deficit?


Nothing yet, because he's still racking up the charges. He'll be out of office when the bill comes due, but I'll still be paying (substantially higher) taxes. At this rate, so will my children, and my children's children...

Not that it has much to do with space exploration. My concern about privatization of the space industry is IP issues. It seems likely companies will try to patent anything and everything remotely related to space travel, and then sue each other endlessly.


RE: I agree with this decision
By goz314 on 2/1/2010 11:37:52 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
Nothing yet, because he's still racking up the charges.


Keep in mind, the final say on the budget comes from congress. They are the only body that has the constitutional power to formulate the actual budget as it will be enacted. Sure, they can take the president's inputs as a guideline, but it is still just a roadmap. Granted, the president could always veto any budget bills that come down the pike, but like any other president, he would likely sign it -even if it doesn't match his budget proposals to the letter.

American's have a skewed view of where responsibility primarily lies with our three branches of government. Sure, all three branches are meant to balance one another. But which branch is mentioned first in the constitution? Which one has the sole power to levy taxes and to delare war? If you don't know the answer to this question automatically, please spare us and go look it up.



RE: I agree with this decision
By nct on 2/1/2010 3:59:48 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Which one has the sole power to levy taxes and to delare war?
So the Making America Work tax cut had nothing to do with Obama, that was solely Congress, right? The "war" in Iraq, that was Congress' idea too, Bush had no say in that action, yes? Your assertion that the legislative branch has the sole authority is technically correct, but if the majority party is in control of both offices, they take their lead from the President. His lead is to spend money like it's going out of style, and they're signing the check.


RE: I agree with this decision
By tdawg on 2/1/2010 4:36:38 PM , Rating: 3
The fact that Congress doesn't act as a true balance of power, but rather as a rubber stamp (majority party = president party) or a immovable roadblock (majority party != president party) is unfortunately a product of the shift in our political climate. Representatives should be there to rationally weigh issues in front of them, calmly explain the issues to their constituents, and vote for or against issues based on the issue's merit and their reasoned and intellectual study of the issue.

This is why Congress always has a piss-poor approval rating. They treat each other like infants, sneak bills through Congress rather than negotiating and hashing out quality legislation, senselessly spend taxpayer money on useless pet projects, and trade rational thought for lobbyist kickbacks and talking points.


RE: I agree with this decision
By Mitch101 on 2/1/2010 11:37:48 AM , Rating: 5
My Property taxes nearly doubled before Obama ever took office but I guess that's his fault.


RE: I agree with this decision
By porkpie on 2/1/2010 2:24:11 PM , Rating: 3
"My Property taxes nearly doubled before Obama ever took office but I guess that's his fault"

Partly, yes. Property taxes exploded because of the real estate bubble. The real estate bubble existed because the federal government allowed Fanne Mae and Freddie Mac into the subprime mortgage market, which allowed millions of people to buy houses they couldn't afford. With couples making $50K a year buying houses $800K houses with zero money down, the market understandably exploded....then collapsed, as all those payors defaulted.

Obama voted for all those programs in Congress..and he was one of the top three recipients of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. So much so that his own campaign advisor was former head of Fannie Mae.

Oh, and before Obama became a congressman, he was an attorney that sued Citibank, in a landmark settlement that forced major banks to increase loans in low-income areas, under the CRA program:

http://iusbvision.wordpress.com/2008/09/30/obama-s...


RE: I agree with this decision
By zmatt on 2/2/2010 7:00:51 PM , Rating: 2
The current IP system is pretty much broken as it is. Until a better one is found don't expect that to change.

IMO privatization of space is where all of the major advancements will come from in this century. NASA is a joke. The vast majority of their failures have been on this side of 1980 and most of them have been silly ones. incorrectly programming telemetry computers and whatnot. I think they dropped the ball when they made the space shuttle. Sky Lab was mars prep, we needed to know how people would react to long term space flight. Then we shifted our focus to a pointless spacecraft. if it wasn't for the space shuttle we would have been on Mars in 1995.

The first people to get there will either be privateers or the Chinese. We simply can't afford it anymore. And to the naysayers about private space companies, there are endless ways to make money. At first it will be LEO flights around the world, then space station hotels, and before you know it, vacation to the moon and industry on the moon. if you can get factories on the moon or in orbit you can greatly lower the cost of spaceflight and production of many products. The moon can be mined for fuel and heavy metals and the same can be done for mars. Not to mention how man y precious metals reside in the asteroid belt.

Getting that far will probably take 200 years or so, but once it becomes cheap everybody will be doing it. Look at the colonization of America. First there were a few explorers, then privately funded ventures. As soon as the corporations got in you saw ships leaving for America all the time. Now a days, it's pretty routine to fly to Europe. Nobody said ti will be cheap, safe or fast, but we are running out of space on earth, so even if we don't want to mine asteroids we will have to leave eventually.


RE: I agree with this decision
By porkpie on 2/1/10, Rating: 0
RE: I agree with this decision
By VaultDweller on 2/1/2010 12:18:42 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Obama has destroyed the economy, and he promised that we would be out of the war as of his first year in office.

Really? So the whole world wasn't already diving deep into recession already when he took office? Huh. I guess the endless news coverage of the economic collapse in 2008 was a figment of my imagination.


RE: I agree with this decision
By Reclaimer77 on 2/1/10, Rating: 0
RE: I agree with this decision
By retrospooty on 2/1/2010 7:38:43 PM , Rating: 5
Just curious, since from what I see here at AT/DT you are a "blame the libs at all cost" type. I dont agree with a lot of what the dems do, but at least I can remain objective about it...

Serious question... What part of this do you put on the 8 years of Bush admin and 14 years of republican controlled Congress? 5% 20%, 80% - or was this whole thing casued by the dems that took office in Jan 2007 t (Keep in mind the economy was already headed south at that time)

Also, to poitn out - You said "Obama has destroyed the economy," that was total BS and you know it. You may not agree with what he is doing now, but it was at its lowest as he took office.


RE: I agree with this decision
By Reclaimer77 on 2/1/10, Rating: -1
RE: I agree with this decision
By retrospooty on 2/2/2010 7:15:14 AM , Rating: 2
Nice!!!

You get an A + for evasion. You would do well in Washington

I repeat... What part of this do you put on the 8 years of Bush admin and 14 years of republican controlled Congress ?


RE: I agree with this decision
By Reclaimer77 on 2/2/2010 12:28:45 PM , Rating: 2
First off, there hasn't been 14 solid years of a Republican controlled Congress. Where are you getting that from ?


RE: I agree with this decision
By retrospooty on 2/2/2010 1:57:06 PM , Rating: 2
http://uspolitics.about.com/od/usgovernment/l/bl_p...

My mistake... Check the link. They had 10 of the last 12 years prior to the meltdown 1995-2007 sessions, they had total control from 1995 to 2007 except for Senate from 2001 to 2003.

Regardless, what part of the blame do you give hte party that had the VAST MAJORITY OF POWER? It cant ALL be dems, they only took over in 2007 when the damage was already done - bad loans were already out there. Granted they didnt help matters, but they didnt cause it.


RE: I agree with this decision
By porkpie on 2/2/2010 2:29:19 PM , Rating: 2
"..when the damage was already done - bad loans were already out there."

Glad you finally admit the entire problem revolves around those hundreds of billions in bad loans. Now, look up who authorized Fannie and Freddie to make all those loans. The voting records are 100% Democrat for, Republicans 70% against.

So yes, it is partially the Republicans fault. With a little more solidarity, they could have shot down these Democratic proposals early on. Instead, we all had to pay the price.


By retrospooty on 2/2/2010 3:10:24 PM , Rating: 2
Why dont you show me the link to the voting record, and DONT make it something that happend in 2007, that is too late for them to have changed anything. These loans existed before the dems were in power. I repeat this again and again and you refuse to see it. You want SOOOO badly to make it the dems fault and you just cant. they werent in power when this all happened.


RE: I agree with this decision
By porkpie on 2/1/2010 8:19:21 PM , Rating: 2
" What part of this do you put on the 8 years of Bush admin and 14 years of republican controlled Congress?"

Get your facts straight. The Senate was controlled by Dems the last four years of Bush's term, and the House for the last 2 years. Republicans had control of both houses only from 1994-2000, then again for two years 2002-2004. That's eight years, not 14...and they didn't have control of EITHER house in the crucial years leading up to this disaster.

The real estate meltdown began in one place, and one place only: the Senate Banking Committee. This is the group who (after extensive lobbying and campaign contributions) allowed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to get into the risky subprime market. This is the group who passed rules requiring private banks to make risky loans to low income lenders. This is the group who-- even when advised by the GAO and CBO that a meltdown was coming -- refused to take any action to reign in Fannie Mac.

Who ran that banking committee? Chris Dodd. Democrat. Who were the top four recipients of campaign contributions from these failed organizations? Chris Dodd- Democrat. John Kerry- Democrat. Barack Obama- Democrat. Hillary Clinton- Democrat. Each of these four voted for EVERY SINGLE MEASURE that opened up the nation's entire home mortgage market to financial disaster, and each of these four voted AGAINST every proposal to reign it in:

http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2008/07/top-senate...


RE: I agree with this decision
By retrospooty on 2/2/2010 7:20:15 AM , Rating: 4
I think you need to get your facts straight on both counts. The real estate crash was a perfect storm of mistakes made all over the place , the sentate being ONE of them. Even the most partisaned hack of hacks fully admits its not dems or reps, it's both sides that did this (Bill O'Rielly)

And as for time, lets go back farther. Reps have had the white house for 20 of the past 28 years and have also had much of the congress in that period. You cant blame this ALL on the dems. They havnt had any Power at all until VERY recently.


RE: I agree with this decision
By retrospooty on 2/2/2010 7:25:04 AM , Rating: 4
BTW, its YOU that needs to get your facts straight.

http://uspolitics.about.com/od/usgovernment/l/bl_p...
Dems took control of House AND Senate in Jan 2007, we were already WAY too late into it to stop it , but nice try at Fox news twisted facts


RE: I agree with this decision
By porkpie on 2/2/2010 9:19:54 AM , Rating: 2
Lol, you can't even understand your own link. Dems DID take control of both houses in 2007 (just as I said) but they had the Senate for two years before that. As I said.

As for your "perfect storm", that's a copout and you, I, and every single person in the real estate industry knows it. There's nothing hard to understand about housing bubbles. They happen when too many people are buying too few houses...exactly what happens when a few pudding-headed Senators pass laws allowing tens of millions of people to buy houses they couldn't afford.


RE: I agree with this decision
By retrospooty on 2/2/2010 9:25:49 AM , Rating: 2
No, numbnuts, look again with your own eyes this time, and not your jaded blame dems at all cost mental block... the 109th congress was elected in 2004, entered office in Jan 2005 and had 55 reps and 45 dems. Dems took over barely on the 110th congress in Jan 2007 with 50 dems, 49 reps and 1 independent that voted with dems.


RE: I agree with this decision
By porkpie on 2/2/2010 9:43:52 AM , Rating: 2
Why not face the facts instead of shifting the blame? Who authorized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to enter the subprime market? Who passed banking laws forcing private banks to lend to risky, low-income recipients? Who rejected call after call for additional oversight on the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars Fannie and Freddie were spending?

Who? The same people who benefitted from millions in campaign contributions from Fannie and Freddie. Chris Dodd. John Kerry. Barack Obama. Hillar Clinton.

Had the Republicans shown more solidarily in 2005, they could have overriden the Senate Banking Committee, yes. But though the writing was on the wall, things didn't begin to look really serious until 2007...and by then, the people running the Banking Committee were running the entire show.


RE: I agree with this decision
By retrospooty on 2/2/2010 9:49:38 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry, you cant just put it all on the party that had the lambs share of power in the past 2 decades. The Dems took over in 2007, by then the loans were already out there, we were crashing at the end of 2007, you think regulating something in 2007 would stop this? IDIOT! The bad loans were out there for years already. You cant regulate a loan after the fact. IF they passed regulation in 2007 whent he dems took over, it would have started on new loans in 2008 at the earlierst. We were already gone by then.

YOU CANNOT give a "pass" to the reps that had FULL CONTROL of the oval office and congess for the WHOLE TIME THESE LOANS WERE BEING FUNDED.

I am not saying that the dems arent partially to blame for this, but the reps had TOTAL control while this ship was sinking. Dems took over in 2007 and couldnt have stopped any of this even IF they were smart enough to have tried. Agreed, they arent making things better now, they are spending way too much, but this isnt their mess.


RE: I agree with this decision
By retrospooty on 2/2/2010 1:58:47 PM , Rating: 2
Porkpie - "<crickets>"

thats what I thought you would say =)


RE: I agree with this decision
By porkpie on 2/2/2010 2:32:28 PM , Rating: 2
I answered you in the other thread. Instead of snide remarks, why not answer some of the actual facts here? Like the four Democrats who were the biggest recipients of funding from Fannie and Freddie...the same four who lobbied for (and the one who led the Banking Committee) that passed the laws that led to this nightmare.

How about the former head of Fannie Mae, who made $100M PERSONALLY off our tax money, even as Fannie Mae went bankrupt...and who then quit to go work as a personal advisor to Barack Obama?

How about Barney Frank who EVEN AS Fannie Mae was going down, gave interview after interview saying "everything is perfectly fine, there's no need to regulate them"?

How about it, huh?


By retrospooty on 2/2/2010 3:08:00 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, that may well be true... they all suck rocks, but it was all after the fact. None of that happened until after January 2007 when they came into power. The loans were already funded and nothing, I repeat NOTHING they did could have stopped it.

What makes you not see the plain truth and facts and what makes you give the reps that were in power when all this went down a pass while you blame dems that werent in power???

The truth is it was mostly the banks... they approved loans they shouldn't have because they wanted to foreclose. The way prices were going up constantly for the past 20 years, if the homeowner couldn't pay, they would foreclose and the house would be worth more money than it was when purchased so they went with it. THAT is the real cause of all this, not congress... the economy took a crap and home values went south. Then banks couldn't recover the loan money becasue hte value dropped, casuing the whole meltdown and values to drop more and economy to crap out more. How is any of that the fault of the dems that werent in power when it all happened? HOW?

I dare you to answer that question.


RE: I agree with this decision
By kyp275 on 2/1/2010 10:50:14 AM , Rating: 4
To me you're just embarrassing yourself by not understanding what a return to the moon, or indeed space travel represents.

Without a way to return to the moon, there's no hope of eventually establishing a lunar outpost, without which the cost of interplanetary travel will be exponentially higher. And if you don't understand why space travel is important, well, there's nothing I can do for you.


RE: I agree with this decision
By Mitch101 on 2/1/2010 11:23:40 AM , Rating: 2
Care to provide a more in depth answer because I fail to see the value added from the information you provided? A moon base wouldn't be free and while it may make interplanetary travel cheaper is there something on another planet we really need to see or get?

How does it benefit us to visit other planets that we currently do not posses the ability to transform the planet into a viable alternative to our existing planet? Its not economically feesable to go there with the existing technology and costs of our current organization. You want to go to the moon fine send a probe something we don't need to return. Humans are fragile I would be more open to sending robots than something we need to return to the planet.

Space travel with our current technology is not economically feesable.

I'm very open minded but just because we can get somewhere doesn't mean we should waste a ton of money and go.


RE: I agree with this decision
By kyp275 on 2/1/2010 3:11:40 PM , Rating: 3
The biggest value to setting up a Lunar outpost/shipyard, outside of the raw resources such as helium-3, is simple - the moon's gravity. Once in place, it would be much cheaper to build/launch ships from a lunar outpost than it is to do it from Earth, since you require a whole lot less fuel to reach terminal velocity from the moon. A lunar outpost is essential if any sort of real, continuous travel within the solar system is to be realized.

But most of your problem is not about the validity of a lunar outpost, but space travel itself. Not to be rude, but I think you're a perfect example of the mentality of "what's in it for me NOW!?", and of wanting to fly before you can even crawl.

How do you propose we develop terraforming technology on Earth? how do you propose we develop the knowledge and technique and the infrastructure for interplanetary travel and resource extraction, and refine them so they become "commercially feasible", without ever actually go out and do any of them?

You have to start from somewhere, what you're proposing is that we can somehow armchair-science our way from horse carriage to the 747.


RE: I agree with this decision
By Mitch101 on 2/1/2010 4:12:16 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for a more detailed reply.

Im not sure how it could be cheaper to assemble such items in space there are no manufacturers in space and flying up engineers/aseemblers to build it would be costly/dangerous especially when something doesnt fit or work properly. Not like you can walk down the hall and get it remanufactured. All those materials parts would still need to break gravity to be put into space because they arent available on the moon.

While I believe we have made great strides in technology I dont believe we have excelled far enough in technology that makes running a moon based manufacturing facility a reality to harvest our own resources from the moon or any other planet.

Its ok to ground us and let science dream up ways to break the problem of gravity in a more cost effective manner. I dont feel we need to go to the moon just because we can. I think we should go to the moon when we have figured out better methods. The space shuttle was something that should have been much more cost effective and in turn it cost significantly more to maintain. If no one pushes NASA with a NO every now and then they stop innovating.

These are supposed to be the best and brightest minds in the world aka Rocket Scientists. I would hope that with thier combined knowledge and with the help of universitities they could in a few years time solve the issue of gravity. I know Im asking a lot. Maybe if they put down sending people up for a few years and concentrated on some other methods and analyzed some of the private sectors accomplishements then NASA could deliver something that isnt just an oversized bottle rocket.

If private sources can accomplish it on severly reduced budgets than NASA isnt doing isnt trying. Its like the mentality that if you throw enough money at something you can make it go away. They need to be smarter not costlier.


RE: I agree with this decision
By porkpie on 2/1/2010 4:34:22 PM , Rating: 2
"Im not sure how it could be cheaper to assemble such items in space "

Anything we build on earth for launch has to be able to support not only its own weight, but the stresses of a high-g launch. Plus, you're severely limited on size and total mass, by what you can cram into a single launch. (currently the US can't even launch most of the modules for the ISS: Russia has the only heavy-lift capability)

But there's no gravity in space. We can build spacecraft there that would be impossible on Earth, regardless of cost. Smaller, lighter, cheaper, and (because of the vastly reduced mass) with far greater ranges and/or accelerations. There are also things that can be made with a much higher quality in space (such as computer chips) due to the zero-g, hard vacuum conditions there.

From an energy perspective, when you're in earth orbit, you're halfway to anywhere in the solar system. Orbital assembly and manufacturing -- fed with raw materials mined on the moon and launched from railguns right on the lunar surface -- would open up an era of prosperity and plenty on earth that you can't possibly imagine.

"I dont believe we have excelled far enough in technology that makes running a moon based manufacturing facility a reality "

And without a permanent moon base, we never will, either.


RE: I agree with this decision
By kyp275 on 2/1/2010 10:43:51 PM , Rating: 2
porkpie addressed most of the questions you raised in the post below, I just want to answer some of your other points.

quote:
I would hope that with thier combined knowledge and with the help of universitities they could in a few years time solve the issue of gravity.


gravity isn't an issue that can be "solved", unless you're suggesting that we somehow invent some sort of anti-gravity device. Without going into the realm of pure science fiction and breaking the laws of physic, setting up a lunar outpost is actually one of the best and easiest attainable method of overcoming the limitations posed by earth's gravity.

quote:
If private sources can accomplish it on severly reduced budgets than NASA isnt doing isnt trying. Its like the mentality that if you throw enough money at something you can make it go away. They need to be smarter not costlier.


The only thing the private sector has been able to do is low earth orbit stuff, they're not even remotely close to being able to match NASA's capability today, much less anything outside suborbital flights. (If there is, please do drop me a link, I'd love to see something on it).

Ultimately, like I said, you can't arm chair-science your way to interplanetary travel without actually doing any of it, and it isn't going to get any cheaper to do without practical experimentation and application.


By delphinus100 on 2/5/2010 12:50:16 PM , Rating: 2
There are many good reasons for a permanent human presence on the Moon, but the ones you emphasize are nonsense.

1. Forget He3 until there are commercial fusion reactors that can use it. There is NO MARKET until then.

2. Build spaceships on the moon? From what? Do you really propose recreating an entire manufacturing infrastructure there, from mining through electronics manufacturing (what of petroleum-derived plastics?) and everything else, just to build a handful of spaceships?

We have all that down here. Space assembly is what LEO is for. Yes, it takes less fuel to get from the Lunar surface to LLO, than to get from Earth's surface to LEO...but fuel is not what makes spaceflight expensive, and you have far more fuel resources on this planet as well.

(Try to produce hydrocarbon-based FOSSIL fuel on the Moon...go ahead, I dare you. Break water there into hydrogen and oxygen? I believe the Lunar polar ice content is small enough that it'll be far more valuable for life-support purposes right there, and not blowing out nozzles into vacuum. Earth? Most of its surface is covered with the stuff. It may be worthwhile to get oxygen from the Lunar regolith and send it back to LEO and the Lagerange points for those rockets that need it as an oxidizer [as well as for life-support and some space industrial purposes in those locations]. If you tried to 'build spaceships on the Moon,' most of the material would still have to come from Earth [as will the construction workers and crews , BTW], so why, after having left Earth for LEO, would you go down into another gravity well to make something that must climb out of it to go yet somewhere else again?)

I'm all for ISRU, by the way, but it matters at your destination . Notions of 'refueling' at the Moon (except, as noted, the prospect of sending Lunar derived liquid oxygen to LEO) shows a misunderstanding of how things move and work in spaceflight as well.

Do that stuff in Low Earth Orbit.

As described by Heinlein and others, once you get there, you're 'Halfway to anywhere in the solar system.'


RE: I agree with this decision
By rcc on 2/1/2010 4:10:15 PM , Rating: 2
So, if we don't spend money to learn the technology, how do we ever get the ability to do these things?

Frankly your arguments reminded me of Europeans trying to talk people out of going to the "New World" centuries ago.

After all, what's over there that we can't get here? I guess we won't really know until we get there.


RE: I agree with this decision
By drank12quartsstrohsbeer on 2/1/2010 8:56:05 AM , Rating: 5
What can we learn by taking that money and spending it on something else? That money WILL be spent, just not at NASA.

Obama is adding an extra 100 Billion to the budget for unemployment. (I guess the NASA folks will be able to get in on that.) That money will be spent and gone and it will have no lasting effect on anything. Nothing will be invented, nothing will be made that will improve life for mankind. It will buy beer and cigarettes.

The government cannot bring itself to reduce spending. So if the govt must spend money, I'd rather see it go to projects that have some sort of payback to mankind.


RE: I agree with this decision
By SPOOFE on 2/1/2010 12:07:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What can we learn by taking that money and spending it on something else?

Devote it to unmanned space travel and we can learn a lot more with the same money. People need air and water and food and a place to sleep and a place to stretch out and a place to piss and crap and something to entertain them, etc. etc. That's a lot of weight to carry around just to look at some rocks and collect soil samples, and in space travel, weight essentially equals money.


RE: I agree with this decision
By piwolf on 2/1/2010 8:56:24 AM , Rating: 5
http://techtran.msfc.nasa.gov/at_home.html

Smoke Alarms, Home Water Filters, TV Satellites, Cordless power tools, Laser Surgery, Those ear thermometers, LEDs, UV sunglasses, Stadium roofing, Football Helmet Padding, Golf Ball Technology, Tons of technology for earthly flight safety systems, GPS navigation and imagery.

All these things and tons more are the benefits of the Space Programs. It's extremely short-sighted to dump what is miniscule compared to "shovel ready" projects that have no useful purpose. Even a 10th of those would fund what NASA was looking for.


RE: I agree with this decision
By Cogman on 2/1/10, Rating: -1
RE: I agree with this decision
By Reclaimer77 on 2/1/2010 10:41:04 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
Now, a manned mission to mars might be a completely different story, however, the moon is conquered, lets move on.


A Man's foot hasn't touched another planet or planetary body since the 1960's, and you suggest going straight to Mars without field testing any of the new equipment we have developed since the Moon landings ??

Yeah, you know what, you go first pal. I'll be riiight behind you on that one.


RE: I agree with this decision
By goz314 on 2/1/2010 11:44:05 AM , Rating: 1
Apollo 17 was in December of 1972. Field testing techniques for putting equipment on Mars, consequently, has been going on since 1976.

Please read and comprehend a bit of NASA's history before making comments that just make you look uniformed.


RE: I agree with this decision
By porkpie on 2/1/2010 3:33:13 PM , Rating: 5
"...the moon is conquered, lets move on. "

Imagine how different the world would be today if Queen Isabella would have said that about America as soon as Columbus returned from his first voyage.

We haven't even begun to conquer the moon. A permanent base there would be a start, and give us incalculable returns on the initial investment.

Or, we can be just another has-been society, spending all our spare cash on free dentures for the masses.


RE: I agree with this decision
By yyonlyyou on 2/1/10, Rating: -1
RE: I agree with this decision
By kattanna on 2/1/2010 10:57:44 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Perhaps putting a man on mars/a colony on mars would be pretty interesting. It would require the tech to get off a planet with a significantly higher escape velocity then the moon, something I don't think our current rockets are capable of accomplishing (the landing is a bit rough as well). Other then the gee-whiz factor, what is there to be gained?


while i applaud the shift to commercial for getting into low earth orbit, i am worried over the dropping of the moon and instead looking again at mars.

while it is true we have been to the moon, we in no way know how to live there. its like taking a weekend boat trip from LA over to one of the channel islands. we will learn a lot about that island, but in no way can we say we know how to live off that island.

man has never spent any long term time outside of the earths protective magnetic field. we in no way know how to live off the land locally.

and then there is the time factor.

putting a colony up on the moon will allow us to test a great many thing about living on a non earth body. dealing with radiation. closed environmental systems. building and working long term. growing food. etc. now doing all of this on the moon will field test systems to the point where we know they will work and can have confidence in them long term. and on the moon, if something critical failed, its a 3-4 day ride home. without any wait to leave.

on mars.. if something fails, its a 6-9 month journey back.. and you are stuck there for over a year before you can even think about leaving and starting the journey back because of the orbits of earth and mars.

im completely for exploring the great unknown out there, but i want to do it in a sustainable way that builds infrastrucure to make such things continuous.

we do not need another mission to simply plant a flag on mars.



RE: I agree with this decision
By porkpie on 2/1/2010 2:02:01 PM , Rating: 2
"What can we learn from landing on the moon that we didn't already learn in the 60's and couldn't learn from sending a rover up there "

We can learn how to build and operate a moon colony, for one. A base on the moon would be invaluable for countless reasons. Solar power actually makes sense there, for one (at the poles, you can get it 24x7, unfiltered by atmosphere or clouds, and with no weather to degrade the panels). You have a very weak gravity which makes certain types of construction easy, unlimited free vacuum (priceless for many industrial uses) and an entire world of untouched resources.

In 50 years, some country or countries will be getting rich off lunar resources. Too bad it looks like the US won't be one of them.

Mars? Except for the PR factor, Mars is worthless. It's too far away and (more importantly) too much like Earth to be valuable. Mars is like some really inhospitable areas of Antarctica, with bad air thrown in to boot.


RE: I agree with this decision
By tayb on 2/1/2010 4:07:45 PM , Rating: 2
If you want to go to Mars a logical first step would be to build a permanent base on the moon from which you launch to Mars.

Besides that, the knowledge isn't gained from actually landing on the moon. That's just a bonus. The engineering comprehension gained from trying to get back to the moon would be substantial. There were no benefits from landing on the moon the first time around either. We didn't discover any magical fuel up there but we did exponentially further our technology. Modern rockets, satellites, jets, and a slew of other modern technologies came about from the challenge to reach the moon.


RE: I agree with this decision
By porkpie on 2/1/2010 4:37:26 PM , Rating: 2
"If you want to go to Mars a logical first step would be to build a permanent base on the moon from which you launch to Mars."

By some studies, it would actually be cheaper to build a moon base, then launch a Mars mission from there, rather than go direct from Earth. Plus, with that approach, you're left with a fully functional lunar base, complete with manufacturing and assembly capabilities, making future missions to Mars (or anywhere else) much cheaper still.


By LongTimePCUser on 2/1/2010 10:31:53 PM , Rating: 2
I agree too.
You can do more good scientific discovery with $100 doing unmanned missions than you can do with $1 million spent on manned missions.


How stupid
By pdljmpr on 2/1/2010 8:44:28 AM , Rating: 2
This is an important program and it needs to continue.




RE: How stupid
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 2/1/2010 8:50:16 AM , Rating: 2
I'll bite. Why is it important?


RE: How stupid
By Kurz on 2/1/2010 9:28:15 AM , Rating: 2
Coming from a government that loves to spend money its not important. They wont spend money on a program that is a critical longterm investment in making sure if anything happens to our little island of blue we at least have other places to go. Instead they want to make sure everyone has third rate social programs.

Though besides I wouldn't mind paying a space tax.
Its a enterprise that requires signficant investment with little to no recoup in the short term. Because of this no one in their right mind would spend money on it. Though if advances are made in space travel it would be possible one day for it to be a profitable business.

Its a long term investment into research, development, survival and advancement of the species.
I guess I have dreams of a Starfleet.


RE: How stupid
By mellomonk on 2/1/2010 9:55:54 AM , Rating: 4
It is important to maintain our technological leadership and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. The Apollo program is still one of the more inspirational things the United States has ever done. It did not make sense from a dollars and cents perspective. Or even a science perspective. Some might even call it more or less a stunt. But the process of putting folks on the moon and returning them safely to earth challenged and inspired America and it's industry like few things that we have faced.

The Constellation program with all of it's warts and flaws would have had a similar effect. We were not going back to repeat what had already been done. We were going back to the moon for good. To do real science, and more importantly to develop the tech and techniques to go further out. The Mars run has tremendous hurdles to overcome. Constellation was the first step on the path.

To date, since 2004 some $9 billion has already been spent. It has already revitalized and challenged a new generation of engineers and scientists. New five segment solid boosters, new engines, test stands, friction stir welders, the list goes on and on. So I guess those dreams are dashed and those jobs are gone. No shuttle after five more flights, nothing being built save for planning for some nebulous Mars mission in the distant future. The civilian space industry is at least a decade away from having a viable orbital man rated capability. I guess until then we pay for rides on russian rockets to do a tiny bit of science on an already compromised space station. It all sounds so inspirational.

It is extremely short sighted to get caught up in the dollars and cents when it comes to manned spaceflight. The payoffs come from the challenge of the doing. It is not the destination but the journey.

I guess we Americans will have to draw our pride and inspiration from our mighty military-industrial complex. Or our rebuilding of Iraq and Afghanistan. The winning of the hearts and minds of those peoples and the rest of the world. Or maybe our world beating Auto industry or mighty banking industry......you get my point.


RE: How stupid
By nafhan on 2/1/2010 10:19:20 AM , Rating: 2
It's important for the same reason that it's hard to say why it's important: we aren't sure what we are going to get out of it. This is also why pure research and space exploration usually aren't financed by corporations. Any benefits are usually years or decades away. Imagine where we'd be at if the only research or exploration was into things that clearly lead to short term benefits!


RE: How stupid
By johnr81 on 2/1/2010 9:24:31 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. NASA is one of the more altruistic things the government finances. They're funding research for the sake of learning new things that may or may not provide tangible benefits. Even this situation is an example of that, NASA is still getting like ~250 million more than last year in this budget. Obama is just tweaking what they feel should be our long term goals, whether or not we agree with him.

I don't agree with it, but I hope they're right and I'm wrong. Maybe freeing NASA of the cargo ferrying business and letting them concentrate on what they want to accomplish post orbit will prove both more economical and produce advances faster.


RE: How stupid
By R3T4rd on 2/1/2010 9:34:38 AM , Rating: 1
Pardones mois silvousplait mais,

We (the US as a family) need to get our feet back on solid ground, financially first. Once that has been achieved, we can then look to pursue advancements in women hygiene products and going to the moon.

At the rate Obama is going....stock up on can foods, guns, gold, and hunker down and get ready for civil war II.

...sorry for my scaremongering - really, I mean it.


RE: How stupid
By SPOOFE on 2/1/2010 12:14:39 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
We (the US as a family) need to get our feet back on solid ground, financially first.

Cutting funds to NASA won't do that. NASA is a drop in the bucket. If you're worried about financial stability, there are much bigger fish to fry. I'd start with Social Security, because none of our Congress-critters - scared to death of the Elderly vote - ever will.


RE: How stupid
By Steven Morgan on 2/1/2010 9:45:18 AM , Rating: 2
Why are so many people upset about this? It's not as if we're shutting down NASA. We're still funding research into a trip to Mars. Why is the the moon so important to revisit?


RE: How stupid
By goz314 on 2/1/2010 12:01:30 PM , Rating: 1
That's what I'm wondering too. How many people (not just the folks on this thread) really cared so much about NASA's manned spaceflight program that they actually watched the last mission on TV? How many average American's even realize that the next shuttle mission is slated to launch early next week -or that the last scheduled mission is in September?

The public is disinterested in the program. It has become rote and routine to them. It's an abstract idea that, while inspiring on some level, does not make one bit of difference in their daily lives at the moment.

I am not proposing that the US manned program be canned altogether, but rather it should change it's focus. If you had the chance to read the Augustine commission's report you will know that when the Bush administration proposed the plan to return to the moon back in 2004, Congress didn't fund it then. That is why it's behind schedule and it had to compete for what little budget NASA had appropriated to it. If Constellation were continued unabated as originally proposed, then it would mean: 1.) Abandoning the ISS in 2015 -barely 5 years after it's completion. and 2.) hobbling other un-manned projects that provide much more scientific benefit and that NASA does so well.

The Augustine report went on to also propose that if Constellation is canceled as currently proposed, it would allow the manned program more freedom to focus on new noteworthy targets like a near earth asteroid or Mars. An important thing to also note is that canceling the Constellation program does not mean that work will just completely stop on development of replacement launch vehicles which are needed to actually go to Mars or a NEO. Think project Direct which is much more cost efficient and practical than the pencil (Ares I) or penis envy (Ares V).


RE: How stupid
By kattanna on 2/1/2010 12:23:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
How many people (not just the folks on this thread) really cared so much about NASA's manned spaceflight program that they actually watched the last mission on TV?


i for one, watch every launch, and watch bits of every station mission while docked. but im odd that way.

the average american didnt even bother to turn into apollo 13, our only 3rd moon mission, until it became "exciting" with its disaster.

quote:
It's an abstract idea that, while inspiring on some level, does not make one bit of difference in their daily lives at the moment


and thats the way i feel about sports on TV. and once again, that makes me a very odd male.


RE: How stupid
By SPOOFE on 2/1/2010 12:30:00 PM , Rating: 3
There is (and has been, for a while) a growing attitude of resentment towards the way NASA is treated. The perception is that the money we spend on the space program is peanuts compared to stuff we waste on social welfare programs and government bureaucracy, and that the potential gains in the long haul outweigh any benefit we might get from devoting that money to essentially buy votes for socially liberal politicians.

There's also the attitude that space travel is cool, which is true, but it'd be a lot cooler if every launch wasn't several thousand pounds overweight with all the crap you need to support a human crew.


RE: How stupid
By Reclaimer77 on 2/1/2010 2:10:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Why are so many people upset about this? It's not as if we're shutting down NASA. We're still funding research into a trip to Mars.


For 8 years all I heard on here from Liberals was that Bush was anti-science and pro-war. And that he didn't fund NASA enough. Even though in reality he increased NASA funding more than Clinton.

Now Obama is cutting funding and all I hear, from some of the same posters, is excuses and backsliding.

Getting sick of this double standard personally.


RE: How stupid
By maven81 on 2/1/2010 6:38:12 PM , Rating: 2
Obama is not cutting funding, he's cutting the constellation program. NASA's budget as a whole will probably increase ever so slightly. That means that they will likely use the billions of dollars earmarked for that program to say buy rides from SpaceX to the ISS. (assuming SpaceX manages to pull it off of course).

The main problem here isn't that he's killing constellation. Sure, this will mean the loss of thousands of jobs at NASA but it will also mean the gain of thousands of jobs in the private sector. It's a wash. The former NASA people could even work for the private sector, I believe some already do. But it doesn't really replace constellation with anything significant. Oh I'm sure they will claim to do some Mars research, but will anyone be building actual hardware?

Where is a crash program to build a heavy lift booster? We aren't going anywhere without one. I don't have a problem with killing one program, if you fund a worthwhile replacement. Where is it!


RE: How stupid
By porkpie on 2/1/2010 7:03:37 PM , Rating: 3
"Now Obama is cutting funding and all I hear, from some of the same posters, is excuses and backsliding."

You know me...and you know my opinion of Obama. However, in all honesty, after looking more carefully at this budget proposal, I'm more upbeat on it. I'm not happy about the death of Ares/Orion...but if Obama REALLY does mean to give those same funds to private launch firms instead, then it will be an overall net positive. It will begin the road to semi-privatize NASA which, all in all will be a good thing.


There was a time...
By eddieroolz on 2/1/2010 8:08:01 AM , Rating: 3
There once was a time when the US had an arch rival to compete against; to improve its technology against; to one-up the rival was of significant importance. The technological innovations that followed were just icing on the cake.

Now, that time has gone. The United States is burdened with the strain of fighting2 wars and an economy that went down the drain. National debt grows larger by the second.

What the US needs is another potent rival to kick its brains back into gear. As long as no one challenges the technological might of the US, it won't innovate.

/rant.




RE: There was a time...
By dark matter on 2/1/2010 8:30:26 AM , Rating: 1
As an example, Microsoft and IE6.


RE: There was a time...
By therealnickdanger on 2/1/2010 8:31:05 AM , Rating: 2
I just watched the documentary "For All Mankind" over the weekend. Twice. It was made in 1989 and I'm not sure why I never heard of it before. It was simply incredible, inspirational, and moving. Obama should watch it. While "beating the Russians" may have pushed us to the Moon, we continued going back. In my opinion, America (and to a larger extent, humanity) has never learned more about itself or its abilities than during those years.

Sure, today we have fancy technology, iPads, and other advanced feminine hygiene products, but we don't have a moon base. We don't have commercial flights to the Moon. We don't have missions to Mars. The saddest part is that we would if we had kept pushing.


RE: There was a time...
By hiscross on 2/1/10, Rating: -1
RE: There was a time...
By Lord 666 on 2/1/10, Rating: -1
RE: There was a time...
By hiscross on 2/1/10, Rating: 0
RE: There was a time...
By Lord 666 on 2/1/2010 10:56:44 AM , Rating: 1
Its actually a line from an Otep song thats quite catchy.


RE: There was a time...
By hiscross on 2/1/10, Rating: -1
RE: There was a time...
By bupkus on 2/1/2010 3:38:38 PM , Rating: 2
I think the OP had an interesting point, but for hiscross to hijack his post is not a polite introduction to his religious beliefs.

Still, I will not denigrate your beliefs even if I find them self serving as I do most religions. The peace that religion brings comes from a comforting certainty of what your future will be in the hereafter. I often feel a sense of pride in the voice of believers as if anyone's angst is a silly self indulgence perhaps also in a pride of one's free will. Yet, it may be just that yearning that keeps us asking the important questions about life, the kinds of questions that bring us to pursue an ethical existence.

I am not a philosopher or expert in comparative religions, and I apologize to any reader if I seem like I'm trying to pontificate, but I find religion to be a very personal experience and not one to impose on others except in the proper venue.


RE: There was a time...
By hiscross on 2/1/2010 10:13:38 PM , Rating: 1
I'm pointing out the word of GOD and nothing more. If you want to believe or not is not my concern. That is your free will.


RE: There was a time...
By Kurz on 2/2/2010 10:00:52 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe you should take your doctrine to those of need and give them hope.

We in the know have to make our own hope and fix our problems ourselves.


RE: There was a time...
By retrospooty on 2/2/2010 11:27:40 AM , Rating: 2
"I'm pointing out the word of GOD and nothing more"

Oh MY God... You are an idiot.


RE: There was a time...
By Steven Morgan on 2/1/2010 9:39:59 AM , Rating: 1
lol


RE: There was a time...
By thekdub on 2/1/10, Rating: 0
RE: There was a time...
By hiscross on 2/1/10, Rating: 0
RE: There was a time...
By rcc on 2/1/2010 4:16:52 PM , Rating: 2
Really, I thought the bible said God made everything.

But then, it's been awhile


RE: There was a time...
By hiscross on 2/1/2010 10:09:23 PM , Rating: 2
Jesus is GOD in human form.


RE: There was a time...
By rcc on 2/2/2010 1:44:27 PM , Rating: 2
Much as I hate to feed the trolls, or do bible quotes.

Genesis 1:27

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him.......


RE: There was a time...
By edyhku on 2/1/10, Rating: -1
Two thoughts
By siuol11 on 2/2/2010 2:18:46 AM , Rating: 2
I had two thoughts that ran through my head as I read this article.
1) How pathetic is it that the last competent engineer at NASA (who designed the shuttle, arise, and Orion rockets) was a Nazi scientist who died ~30 years ago?
2) Obama didn't fire 80% of the current NASA staff, a step that is clearly needed if we ever want to get anywhere in the next century or so without spending half our GDP.

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of space flight and fully support our nation's efforts, but I think NASA is currently one of the most expensive boondoggles that is breaking the back of the good ol' USA. I think we should just burn it all and start over- with NEW MANAGEMENT!




RE: Two thoughts
By Mohaa on 2/2/2010 10:13:49 AM , Rating: 2
return to the moon ? did american went to the moon on the first place ??


RE: Two thoughts
By siuol11 on 2/2/2010 12:05:17 PM , Rating: 2
Oopse, that's supposed to read "Aries", and scratch it from the list.


RE: Two thoughts
By porkpie on 2/2/2010 1:13:54 PM , Rating: 2
It's "Ares" actually...and you're more than half-right about NASA complacency. I will never forget my amusement at hearing then-administator O'Keefe say in 2002 that NASA couldn't possibly return to the moon in less than 15 years...despite our having done it from scratch in under 10, with 1960s-era technology.

And Obama's pick for NASA administrator (Charles Bolden) looks to be one of the worst yet. It used to be that NASA administrators had doctorates in physics or aerospace engineering...Bolden is nothing but a mediocre astronaut, and "virtual host of the Space Shuttle Experience" visitors center, picked simply so Obama can say he put a black man in power at NASA.


RE: Two thoughts
By delphinus100 on 2/5/2010 1:04:50 PM , Rating: 2
Please tell me how Wernher von Braun (engineer, not scientist, died 1n 1977) could possibly have had a hand in Ares or Orion design?

I don't think he had much to do with the Shuttle, either. He never liked the idea of humans on solid fuel rockets...

And any 'new management' would still be beholden to the same status quo in Congress. Shelby, Nelson and others are already fighting the cancellation of Constellation, not because they believe it's the Best Way(tm) to reach the Moon, but because it means a loss of jobs among their electorate...

Nothing more.


By KingofL337 on 2/1/2010 8:06:44 AM , Rating: 3
It would incredibly funny if a private company purchased the two space shuttles and sold flights out on them to NASA.




By Trisagion on 2/1/2010 8:26:18 AM , Rating: 1
In a way, yes, but I think NASA would be glad. They would only have to pay for the flight and it would be up to the private company to maintain the shuttles and bear the associated costs.


By namechamps on 2/1/2010 8:49:12 AM , Rating: 3
Um the rented flights would be MORE than the amortized costs of maintenance & equipment plus profit margin.

Unless some for profit company is going to buy them only to sell a service below cost.


Return to the Moon
By Hymag on 2/1/2010 8:59:09 AM , Rating: 1
If the US is looking for a new, yet proven launch technology, try maglev. Maglev, in the form of a hypersonic launch-assist system, is the only viable method to replace pure rocket systems for achieving low earth orbit. Using what we learned from the NASA X-30 program, in addition to integrating a hypersonic maglev booster, will give the mass-fraction needed to achieve orbit with a substantial crew and payload.




RE: Return to the Moon
By porkpie on 2/1/2010 2:41:43 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sorry but I don't think a linear maglev system will be practical anytime in the next 100 years. The tracks are are just too long, and the required forces (and resultant stresses) too high.

Now what I DO think holds major promise are the circular launch systems, the so-called "launch rings". They can fit within a square mile (rather than the 100+ miles your typical linear system requires) and, by spinning a payload repeatedly around the same section of track, require far fewer of those pricey superconducting magnets. You can also evacuate air from the launcher, which further reduces the energy needed. You can get DIRECT to orbit with one of these babies...no secondary booster required.

The only drawback is you can't launch a human crew, due to the G forces involved. But such a system could launch everything else at a cost less than 0.01% of current launch systems.


RE: Return to the Moon
By Hymag on 2/1/2010 5:29:56 PM , Rating: 2
They are already constructing a maglev launch system (upgrade) at Holloman AFB, NM. That track is 10-miles in length, and will probably have vehicles reaching Mach-10 when it is completed. They have already launched projectiles from the Track at Mach-8. At present, the sleds are rocket propelled, but will eventually use magnetic levitation. Only this type of launcher can reduce the cost to reach LEO for manned systems. The length of track/guideway for manned systems would be 30-50 miles in length - figuring 3-g maximum acceleration. It would take 10-miles of track just to reach a hypersonic launch velocity.


RE: Return to the Moon
By porkpie on 2/1/2010 6:02:58 PM , Rating: 2
To date, they haven't gotten a sled to even 250mph at Holloman...a far cry from the 25,000 mph we need for orbital velocity. It's a *very* long range project, and frankly by the time we have the ability to actually build one of these, we'll probably be able to build a space elevator...an even better system for manned launched.


Misleading
By downix on 2/1/2010 11:03:23 AM , Rating: 2
I have checked, this is about cancelling the Ares rockets, not about killing our ambition to go to the moon. Ares has proven too expensive, and too late due to bad design decisions made by the previous administration, when management selected the design rather than the engineers. Instead, in its place, we are hearing reports that NASA is going to ressurect the Regan-era National Launch System, a design which has already undergone most of the final design review, which can be made ready by 2012. Stretch out the shuttle flight manifests, and you can easily have this "Jupiter" rocket ready to fly as the last shuttle lifts off. Utilize the three surplus external tanks and the new 5-segment solid rocket boosters, and you can add 3 more shuttle flights to boot. That means no gap in production, no gap in flight, which means fewer job losses, *and* we'd be ready to go back to a lunar orbit before 5 years is even out.

Check out the NASA engineers proposal, based on the NLS, here:

http://www.directlauncher.com




RE: Misleading
By mmatis on 2/1/2010 6:32:52 PM , Rating: 2
NLS doesn't work. It was looked at VERY CAREFULLY by ESAS. As were vehicles based on Atlas V and Delta IV. NONE OF THEM came close to the cost-effectiveness or safety of the architecture they chose. Yes, there was some politicking in ESAS. THAT'S how they came up with the can, instead of a lifting body. But on the launch vehicle side, it won because it was significantly better than the alternatives. Nothing else even came close. Not on cost. Not on schedule. And especially not on Loss of Crew.

As for flying 5-segment SRBs on shuttle, do you even have a CLUE as to how much engineering and testing you need to do in order to SAFELY fly anything like that? ETR would never let that launch without several years work.

It's just amazing how some people who claim to be technically oriented will suck up PowerPoint engineering like it's AGW or something!


RE: Misleading
By randomly on 2/3/2010 11:10:03 PM , Rating: 2
The safety evaluations in ESAS were based solely on probabilistic risk assessment. Unfortunately historically 90% of launch failures are due to aspects that aren't modeled by PRA, such as human error and design errors. This means that actual risks are always much worse than the PRA numbers calculated and that at best PRA numbers only give you an indication of risk within a factor of 10.

You should also remember that the Ares I/V configuration evaluated in ESAS is very different from the Ares I/V configuration we ended up with. None of the rocket engines in the ESAS design survived into the current incarnations. The SRBs were changed, the rocket diameter changed, all new engines designs were needed.
A much better assessment of risk can be obtained by actual hardware flight history. It's debatable if Ares I is actually safer since a number of features such as radiation shielding and safety systems had to be eliminated due to the under performance of lift capacity of the rocket, and the much harsher and more stressful launch environment due to the first stage solid rocket motor. An Air Force study concluded that there was about a 30 second window during launch that would kill the crew if an abort were necessary during that time.

The Ares I/V architecture is vastly more expensive than other architectures and it is not clear at all that it provides any significant safety advantage. You might want to review the Augustine commissions report and the projected budgets.

Downix was referring to the use of 5 seg SRBs on an NLS type launch vehicle, not the shuttle. The 5 Seg SRBs that were being designed for the Ares I first stage are fairly well on their way to completion and would be ready for use in an NLS type launch vehicle.

I believe Downix is much better informed on this subject than you are.


instead
By cludinsk on 2/1/2010 2:23:18 PM , Rating: 2
NASA will be refocusing its budget to build an electronic thumb so our astronauts can hitch a ride from more advanced civilizations.




RE: instead
By porkpie on 2/1/2010 3:02:39 PM , Rating: 2
Like China and India you mean? We're already having to hitch rides from the Russians.


RE: instead
By delphinus100 on 2/5/2010 1:15:46 PM , Rating: 2
China isn't even up to one launch per year to LEO yet. (Their next one is planed for 2011,) India doesn't plan its first manned space flight until 2016.

Only the Russians can really get out there for now.


ONE WORD
By Screwballl on 2/3/2010 1:04:58 AM , Rating: 2
one word: PRIVATIZATION

Take NASA off the taxpayers bill and privatize it but with regulations to keep it safe. Not only will the technology and projects expand but it will not be limited by how much money the current socialist prez can steal from us to pay the bureaucratic fat cats sitting behind some desk not really doing anything, but under the pay of FASA




RE: ONE WORD
By wwwcd on 2/3/2010 1:23:15 AM , Rating: 2
Privatization is a big mistake! Look what doing in Bulgaria from the final of 20TH century !


RE: ONE WORD
By porkpie on 2/3/2010 12:46:05 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, it was a big mistake for Bulgaria:

quote:
(AP) Bulgaria's economic growth will remain among the highest in the EU...

http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=92699


Obamanomics
By vcolon on 2/4/2010 12:00:17 AM , Rating: 2
OBAMA IS A DAMN IDIOT!
OVERSPENDS ON ENTITLEMENT PROGRAMS, AND THEN, THE LEFT WONDERS WHY THERE'S NO MONEY LEFT FOR TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS IN SPACE.
RED CHINA IS WATCHING THIS VERY CLOSELY.




RE: Obamanomics
By wwwcd on 2/4/2010 7:24:10 AM , Rating: 2
For the new program for manned flights to the moon already spent $ 9 billion! These are actually lost money because when eventually, after several years of the program is thawed, the other space powers - China and India will have more advanced technology! Even if the EU will be ahead of the USA!


RE: Obamanomics
By delphinus100 on 2/5/2010 4:36:34 PM , Rating: 2
Screw that. China will do whatever it planned to do, anyway. They didn't need any change in US space policy for that.

(Remember [and I do, even if you can't] that in the six years [and it wasn't expected to be that long] between Apollo-Soyuz and the first Shuttle flight, the then-Soviets didn't exactly 'take the opportunity' to run out and conquer the solar system during that time, either. Indeed, they have YET to go beyond LEO with people. And yet you worry about China, who can't even launch one flight per year, yet...)


jobs
By thinkingof on 2/1/2010 8:53:10 AM , Rating: 2
If jobs are so important to this admin. what would be the cost be job in cutting NASAs 3 billion. This admin. spends that much in is personal travel and showmanship or should i say entertainment. I think keeping NASA is better spent money then cash for clunkers and the bailout. How much success in those program compare to the success and knowledge found through NASA. Very bad idea about the same as them putting there interest in the BCS. Please may the government stay out and quit medaling. Leave NASA ALONE> more job loses are coming from this administration. They put there nose where it doesn't need to be. NASA creates job and the towns around them need those jobs. Don't be a job killing, town killing white house "please think"




RE: jobs
By delphinus100 on 2/5/2010 4:26:36 PM , Rating: 2
Remember this, the next time someone bemoans how much we spend on 'the military' and 'war,' and know that the same song is sung whenever the Department of Defense itself decides to shut down a weapons program or military base that it decides it no longer needs...

When a private business scales back or closes down, the surroundings are often similarly hurt (it's happened here in Rochester, NY, home of Eastman Kodak), but sometimes there's no choice.

(About 10 years ago, I had a temp job there that, among other things, involved making the plastic 35mm film cans, I moved on before it mattered, but today, that whole building no longer exists. And if you have a digital camera, you have part of the reason why. Should government agencies not also be expected to rationally change when the time comes? Should it do things inefficiently [which happens too much already] only because many others have become accustomed to the status quo? No one ever promised them an eternal free ride.)

News flash: More jobs doesn't necessarily mean more government jobs.

(And I don't say this lightly. I know someone at JSC whose job may be in jeopardy because of the end of Constellation as we know it.)


By namechamps on 2/1/2010 8:55:05 AM , Rating: 2
The cost to expand NASA to fully pay for Orion and prepare for eventual trip to mars would still be substantially less than 1% of federal expenditures.

All the money the US wastes (including spending more on weapons than every other country on the planet combined) Obama needs to axe a major program from a dept that received half a percent of the budget.

BTW: I am for a strong defense but more money on weapons than every nation on the planet combined. Lets get realistic if we want to get our budget in line. You know like maybe only 8 SSBNs instead of 12 or 9 supercarriers instead of 11.




By Spectatohead on 2/1/2010 4:18:17 PM , Rating: 2
One of my favorite statistics regarding Apollo is that American women spent more on cosmetics over the same period than NASA spent getting to the moon.


By randomly on 2/1/2010 9:34:36 AM , Rating: 3
The Ares I and Ares V weren't going to get us back to the moon by 2020 anyway. The extremely expensive development of 2 completely new rockets that used almost none of the available legacy hardware, manufacturing, and support infrastructure was just way too expensive to survive congressional budgets. Ares I wouldn't have even flown till 2017 at the earliest (2019 by some estimates) let alone the gigantic Ares V which wouldn't be operational till well into the 2020's.

The development programs of these two rockets has been so expensive that it cannibalized other NASA projects like the Altair Lunar lander which has been completely unfunded. Even when the rockets were completed there would be nothing to fly on them since there was no money left to develop the mission equipment or spacecraft. As the Augustine Commission remarked earlier this year, even if Santa delivered these rockets already completed and working to us today the first thing we would have to do would be to cancel it since we can't afford to operate them.

I'm very much in favor of NASA's Human spaceflight program, but one in which we actually accomplish something. Not a program like the Ares I/V constellation architecture that is so expensive that it chokes itself to death before it even gets off the ground.

Hopefully Obama will announce a more economically efficient and realistic program to replace the cancerous bloat monster that was Constellation. I would actually like us to get somewhere in space in my lifetime and not just pour money down a hole. Here's hoping some life gets breathed back into NASA.




By cmdrdredd on 2/1/2010 4:28:57 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
The extremely expensive development of 2 completely new rockets that used almost none of the available legacy hardware, manufacturing, and support infrastructure was just way too expensive to survive congressional budgets.


As has been mentioned numerous times that people seem to miss or ignore. It's because Congress doesn't give a shit about anything that doesn't vote for them. They'll help some homeless dude on a park bench vote for them before they'll advance science in a significant way. They care about helping out their unions, wellfare programs, and handouts more than they do about anything that is viable long term. I'm waiting for the day China is on Mars, refining metals and usable fuels and the US is stuck in the dark ages. Who's third world now?


"Returning"
By blowfish on 2/1/2010 4:01:24 PM , Rating: 2
I love the title - but if you return somewhere, does it not imply that you have already been there?

Even if you assumed all the previous nonsense to be for real, what is the point of having a few people jump around a bit on the moon? Totally pointless, all the money far better spent on education, health care, social security and so on.

Oh, and it seems that the private sector can achieve what NASA can for a tiny fraction of the budget too, just to add insult to injury.




RE: "Returning"
By mmatis on 2/1/2010 6:22:14 PM , Rating: 2
This was going to be more than "having a few people jump around a bit on the moon". This was long-term basing and exploration, both equatorial and polar, near-side, and eventually far-side. And "the private sector can achieve what NASA can for a tiny fraction of the budget"? Yeah, righto! Yes, they did finally win the X-Prize a few years ago, although they were not that far from augering in on those flights. Which were SIGNIFICANTLY suborbital, by the way. Yes, they plan to offer commercial suborbital flights in the near future. NASA is not stopping them from doing that. But there ain't NOBODY commercial out there anywhere near safe transport to LEO. And the Head Nanny What's In Charge has stuffed our capability and instead plans to shovel $$$ to our Russian friends. The new NASA craft was designed to significantly reduce the risk of Loss of Crew. But then, I guess the loss of a few astronauts ain't much when you have a chance to shovel $$$ to the Russians.


Budget..
By rippleyaliens on 2/1/2010 4:08:00 PM , Rating: 2
This is only a small setback.. IT is not like we have the extra money lying around.. a 4-5 year pause in space travel\R&D will not hurt NASA.. Same projects continue, new ones are on hold. Space Travel takes a back seat towards getting the USA in the black..




RE: Budget..
By porkpie on 2/1/2010 4:46:17 PM , Rating: 2
"IT is not like we have the extra money lying around"

Then why does Obama's new budget propose trillions of dollars in new spending? Why are Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid saying we need to 'spend our way out' of the recession?

"a 4-5 year pause in space travel\R&D will not hurt NASA"

Restarting a program after cancelling it adds billions in extra costs. This "pause" means we won't be back to the moon till 2030 at the very soonest...a full SEVENTY YEARS since we were last there.


Invest in Sci-Fi tech
By Belard on 2/1/2010 11:49:06 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah!

Develop some sort of warp / hyper / tach drive that can take us to Mars and back in a day. That would be faster, safer and cheaper than using the same-ole 50 year old rocket tech.

Of course, we may already have such tech... and just don't know about it publicly. :)

But in reality, it was known from the beginning at the "retutn to the moon" was not going to happen. Not enough in the budget and many of other issues.

Still not sure what we can learn from Mars (in person - until it can be done cheap) that would be helpful. Terraforming the planet is a fantasy. We sure aren't doing a great job on ours.




RE: Invest in Sci-Fi tech
By delphinus100 on 2/5/2010 4:53:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Develop some sort of warp / hyper / tach drive that can take us to Mars and back in a day. That would be faster, safer and cheaper than using the same-ole 50 year old rocket tech.


You don't know that.

You don't know that it's physically possible, and you don't know that it's safer or cheaper (or practical) if it is. You can say anything about completely unknown physics.

On the other hand, we do know of ways to get the travel time down to weeks. With rockets. Just not chemical ones. No new physics. Basic technology already demonstrated on the ground. And NASA is also getting serious about using them now.

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=33356

http://nextbigfuture.com/2010/01/vasimr-plasma-roc...


Financial motivation isn't there now
By Geola on 2/1/2010 8:50:54 AM , Rating: 1
Until someone discovers a valid motivation to go to the moon it will probably never happen again. Tourism isn't a strong enough reason in my opinion because of the limited number of people that could actually afford the price.

Unless they discover gold, plutonium or "unobtainium" I just don't see it happening. I'd like to see it happen. Maybe when the debt gets paid off, everyone has a job and no one is hungry we can focus on more esoteric things like space exploration.




By namechamps on 2/1/2010 8:55:29 AM , Rating: 2
Helium3?


Good plan
By shujinko90 on 2/1/2010 3:20:10 PM , Rating: 1
Imo, this is a good plan.

This is from an unbiased perspective ( living in the UK ) and I think that putting it in the hands of the private sector is the way forward.

It will stimulate innovation and new, better technologies will come of this.

I think NASA has been backpeddling for years and lacks any real enthusiasm any more. This is power to the people, we should be rejoicing. :)




RE: Good plan
By knowom on 2/1/2010 4:50:12 PM , Rating: 2
I completely agree NASA has become too complacent they aren't as gun ho as they once were. The private sector on the other hand has every incentive to be. A mission to Mars is a better direction NASA anyway and will result in more innovation.


Private spaceflight
By ZachDontScare on 2/1/2010 4:39:17 PM , Rating: 3
I dont mind them cutting the budget, and focusing on private spacecraft. imo, if there's going to be a future in space travel, spaceflight needs to move beyond the exclusive club of 'government' run space programs and into the world of private businesses. NASA had its heyday, but nowadays its primarily a welfare system for scientists. If I had to speculate, I'd say the next person to walk on the moon will be an employee (or customer) of Virgin, or SpaceX, or perhaps one of the private Japanese spaceflight companies, and not a government employee.

What really peeves me, though, is that they're going to not only continue to spend, but increase, the money they're pissing away on 'global warming' research and 'green' tech. Seems to me NASA is way out of whack in terms of its priorities. And besides, if 'global warming' is now considered a 'fact', why are we spending more money researching it? If there is 'consensus' among scientists that its real, it seems like its a complete waste of money to keep funding research into whether or not its real. I kid, of course, because its pretty clear now its a giant fraud, which means there's even less reason to keep spending money on it.




Jerbs
By elpresidente2075 on 2/1/2010 8:22:54 AM , Rating: 2
"I, for one, intend to stand up and fight for NASA, and for the thousands of people who stand to lose their jobs,"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RomPjp3ydek

Seems to me that they will find a new place in a different program either in the private sector or another part of NASA given the redirection rather than elimination of the funds that are necessary.




MOON OVER CHINA
By heidilee2 on 2/1/2010 9:40:34 AM , Rating: 2
We already KNOW we can go there. Our satellites have SO much more accuracy to veiw space now, WHY do we NEED to even go to the moon? WHY? This has so much to do with MACHISMO and the 'I am better then you are' mentality! Grow up, people. Read some NEW science books. Get over it.




Not about the moon or Mars
By nafhan on 2/1/2010 9:55:53 AM , Rating: 2
"We'll bypass the moon and go straight to Mars!" sounds a lot better than "We're going to cut a significant portion of NASA's budget". This is purely aboug budget cutting, and NASA is just popular enough that they have to make up some BS to minimize backlash over cutting the budget.




By AggressorPrime on 2/1/2010 10:09:33 AM , Rating: 2
If we don't start again with the moon, we will never get to Mars in our lifetime.




Breaking News: USA Sold to China
By MarkN on 2/1/2010 11:29:25 AM , Rating: 2
Little by little the US is being sold out to China and the other minor techno-players.

I am sure the children around the world will look to the sky in awe and wonder - expressing their thoughts on what it took to conquer space - and exclaim how well the Chinese did it.

The USA is - maybe has become, a non contender.
Too broke to play with the big boys anymore.

What an underwhelming disappointment. Maybe there will be enough of a country left to save by the time the next election comes around.

I guess you get what you pay for, don't you.(Obama)

I suggest that American parents start learning to read and write Chinese soon and teach their children.




By The0ne on 2/1/2010 11:59:55 AM , Rating: 2
I'm pretty sure NASA was dead even before this. They never had the budget like they used. Correct me if I'm mistaken though. All I remember is working for a fck-up aerospace company whom wanted me to sign off on selling Boeing and NASA defective actuators. Fck the pay, Fck the company. I'm not going to be responsible for killing people lol.

Gotta love the cheapest bidding company out there NASA, way to go!




recession-wracked economy
By Uncle on 2/1/2010 1:57:01 PM , Rating: 2
:In the recession-wracked economy of today, where exactly is the market for space travel? especially those that have the capability of traveling to the moon and beyond?:
What recession-wracked economy. It only took one year of taxpayers money for the companies to brag about their record profits. Read the financials instead of watching Fox news and the reading the local rag.




HOPE AND CHANGE!!
By mezman on 2/1/2010 2:58:45 PM , Rating: 2
We all still have hope and change, right? ...oh... :(




Space Exploration
By Blackbird1996 on 2/1/2010 3:36:51 PM , Rating: 2
I believe that in this point in time, only scientists should be navigating space. I know that sounds unusual, but consider the ramifications. We know so little about space I'm not sure what point commercialization would serve. If we have to limit who is in space and how much debris we put out there, then I think we should leave it to those who will benefit the most in analyzing and studying what's out there. I don't want Halliburton running things up there. I'll trust NASA before I trust Virgin. Anyone who has worked with the professionals at NASA understand that their intentions are genuine and for the benefit of humanity. I'm not sure I could say the same for private industry.




By tayb on 2/1/2010 4:00:24 PM , Rating: 2
Like, $10 billion per month to accomplish absolutely nothing in Iraq.

I won't make the argument that there is much to gain from returning to the moon but at least it would spur scientific development and get an entire generation of kids excited about possibly becoming scientists or engineers.

It really is quite sad that of all the worthless things we've been wasting billions of dollars on over the years the one thing that DOES manage to get a budget cut is NASA. $800 million for DTV, $1 billion for the census, $180 billion for the banks, $20+ billion for the auto industry, $5+ billion for all the remote airports, $120 billion/year in Iraq, $0 for NASA to return to the moon.

Yeah, let's be fiscally responsible when it comes to NASA. Everything else? Spend spend spend baby.




USA gouverment missing
By wwwcd on 2/2/2010 1:59:11 PM , Rating: 2
USA missing, they out of science, but attended with trillions of dollars in military action!




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