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NASA Turns 50

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the make-a-wish dept.

NASA 160

phobos13013 writes "Fifty years ago yesterday, in 1958, President Eisenhower signed the United States Public Law 85-568, National Aeronautics and Space Act to create NASA. In the fifty years since its creation, NASA has made manned missions landing on the Moon, put a space station in orbit, launched numerous unmanned missions to the Moon, Mars, the solar system, and beyond, as well as launching reusable manned spacecraft in orbit. Some of the failures included the loss of two manned spacecraft and their crews as well as the loss of the Apollo 1 crew during a training mission. Although the future of the organization is in question, Americans, and the world, are looking forward to another fifty years of progress including a return trip to the Moon and an eventual manned mission to Mars."

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Wowzers! (3, Interesting)

chebucto (992517) | more than 6 years ago | (#24392205)

Am I seeing things, or does this story have no comments attached to it five hours after it was posted to slashdot?!?!

That's got to be some record, at least post-1998.

I guess that means I can say... First Post!

Also, Go Nasa! Keep the orbiting observatories coming!

Re:Wowzers! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24392319)

damn it to hell...your post was good until the "Nasa" error...it is spelled "NASA". Never post again.

Re:Wowzers! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24398033)

You failed to capitalize the first word of your sentence. Never post again.

Re:Wowzers! (2, Interesting)

chebucto (992517) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398165)

Never post again.

OK, if you insist!


Science: NASA Turns 50
Posted by kdawson on Wednesday July 30, @04:19AM


Re:Wowzers! (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 29, @06:34PM (#24392319)

Strange, though, that the article was posted to Slashdot's front page on the correct date (the 29th [wikipedia.org] ), retracted, and then reposted a date late (today). I smell a conspiracy...

Re:Wowzers! (2, Interesting)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 6 years ago | (#24399707)

Am I seeing things, or does this story have no comments attached to it five hours after it was posted to slashdot?!?!

Actually, according to the time stamps I can see, you posted your comment 9 1/2 hours before the story was posted... funky.

Re:Wowzers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24400047)

I posted on a topic yesterday, and it didnt have any reply, about 3 hours later i couldnt find my post (it should have been the first one) ...
NASA turns 50!! congrats! old stinkers!

ah, for a moon landing flame war... (3, Funny)

Digitus1337 (671442) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398013)

I'll go ahead and start us off.

We obviously didn't land on the moon, check out the alleged videos, the astronauts jump but don't fly away. Learn some science, you people are sheep.

That should do it, please discuss.

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (4, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398045)

Exactly. The moon landing was obviously filmed in a studio in the Hollow Earth. Gravity is lower inside the Earth, since there is more mass on all sides, so it was the perfect location to fake the landing. It was also filmed inside the largest vaccuum chamber ever built to replicate the lack of air on the moon. I don't understand why more people haven't realized these obvious truths.

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (5, Funny)

rarel (697734) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398073)

i ve seen the space shuttle ass hole it definetly landed on the moon do some research...

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24398111)

i ve seen the space shuttle ass hole

It has one of those?

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (2, Informative)

ChoboMog (917656) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398155)

i ve seen the space shuttle ass hole it definetly landed on the moon do some research...

Actually it was the Apollo Lunar Lander which landed on the Moon, after being launched with a Saturn V rocket.

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398211)

I know you are responding with correct information but, really, I hope the parent of your post (the GP) was just joking in saying that the space shuttle landed on the moon. I hope... I really really hope.

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (5, Informative)

TorKlingberg (599697) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398223)

It's a classic xkcd strip: http://xkcd.com/202 [xkcd.com]

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (3, Informative)

rarel (697734) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398239)

Indeed. -1 Troll! Geez, I thought you guys would get it...

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (0)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398283)

I love xkcd but hadn't seen that particular strip. The Louis Armstrong line had me giggling like a little schoolgirl at work.

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398505)

I'm feeling a lot better now. I'd *hoped* you were joking. Damn am I glad you were.

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (2, Interesting)

rarel (697734) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398517)

Hehe I too shudder to think that some actually believe that :)

Too bad it ended nuking my karma. Ah well, I promise, I'll be less subtle next time ;)

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398551)

Karma is for whores anyhow. ;)

I, really, say what I have to say regardless of the karma hit that I'll take and yet I still seem to be as high as /. will let me be.

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24399169)

I, really, say what I have to say regardless of the karma hit that I'll take and yet I still seem to be as high as /. will let me be.

Yeah, me too. For example: I would like to pickle my nutsack in a brine consisting of holy water, vinegar, salt, and yak semen.

-Shitcock

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (1)

SirShmoopie (1333857) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398655)

Ah the giggles, they burst forth.

Karma's overrated, it gets boring when 'excellent' karma means your posts always show up, so I get a new one from time to time and start over.

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398795)

You must be new here.

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (1)

SirShmoopie (1333857) | more than 6 years ago | (#24399099)

Those pictures on your website from out of your window look like a level from counterstrike.

I'm new, for a given value of new. Actually where new == 4 years. This account is a baby one, bless it.

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (2, Funny)

initialE (758110) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398411)

This'll larn you for making jokes w/o a citation - http://xkcd.com/202/ [xkcd.com]
Mod back up pls

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (1)

Blitz22 (1122015) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398677)

C'mon mods, parent is an XKCD reference, not a troll... (http://xkcd.com/202/ [xkcd.com] )

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (2, Funny)

OneMadMuppet (1329291) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398863)

Nope, they filmed it on Mars, using the lower gravity to save money.

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (2, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 6 years ago | (#24399021)

That's just ridiculous. Mars has an atmosphere. You can clearly see the dust immediately settling after the astronauts step, indicating there is no atmosphere. Am I expected to believe they built a huge vaccuum chamber on Mars? What kind of fool do you take me for...for which you take...that for which...For what kind of fool do you take me?

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (1)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398101)

The Earth too is flat.. It's so obvious that it's a fake much like Discovery channel's I love.. song.

If the Discovery channel's song is true, are you proposing that they would send someone up there just to sing and float away? Absurd isn't it? My point exactly...

That's no moon! (1, Informative)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398285)

That's a halucination caused by so called flouridization of the water driven by a military industrial complex conspiracy to exploit the common man and subvert democracy for the establishment of a new world through globalisation and unilateral foreign poli...

Wait, sorry, it is a moon. My bad.

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (2, Interesting)

3waygeek (58990) | more than 6 years ago | (#24400303)

The real reason the astronauts didn't fly away is because they were wearing heavy boots [milk.com] .

Re:ah, for a moon landing flame war... (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 6 years ago | (#24400653)

Of course we went to the moon. They were going to fake it in Area 51, but then that spaceship crashed. So President Truman told his generals that: "we'll have to really land on the moon. Invent NASA and tell them to get off their fannies."

NASA is 50. And a big disappointment. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24398061)

I grew up reading classic scifi like Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Heinlein, Asimov..... That stuff really got my hopes up. I read that years ago and thought that by now, we should have interstellar travel, contact with extraterrestial entities, faster than light travel, vacations to the moon, colonies on Mars and on and on. But we have none of that. NASA doesn't do anything interesting. It hasn't improved our living conditions. IMHO, NASA is a waste of money and should be abolished. Fsck NASA.

Re:NASA is 50. And a big disappointment. (5, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398153)

Hmm, that might be because reality is different from science fiction. We don't have intelligent humanoid robots either or even flying cars (you'd think that one would be easy), so are those NASA's fault as well? Increase NASA's budget to more than the current fraction on one percent of the national budget and maybe we'll see some more progress

Re:NASA is 50. And a big disappointment. (1)

Goffee71 (628501) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398527)

YOU don't have intelligent humanoid robots, we're doing fine with ours thanks - and maybe one day we'll share. Love, the Japanese, British, Italians and Sumatrans.

Re:NASA is 50. And a big disappointment. (0, Troll)

darjen (879890) | more than 6 years ago | (#24399949)

if you want NASA to have more money, please feel free to donate your own cash. I want no part of it. Don't force others to fund your desires.

But what comes next? (4, Interesting)

Smivs (1197859) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398083)

NASA has accomplished some trult amazing feats during the last 50 years, the pinnacle surely being the moon landing of Apollo 11, which I remember watching as an awe-struck 13 year old. But where does it go from here?
With many countries now seriously into spaceflight and a burgeoning private sector (Virgin Galactic et al) it's hard to see how NASA will stand out as it has done previously.
However in a much more space-focussed world, NASA's vast experience should allow it to take the lead heading-up collaborative ventures with other space-faring nations, particularly for the 'Big One', a manned trip to Mars. A firm commitment to this within a set timescale could re-ignite the public's interest in space exploration like the Moon landings of the early 70s did.

Re:But what comes next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24398123)

NASA has accomplished some trult amazing feats during the last 50 years, the pinnacle surely being the moon landing of Apollo 11, which I remember watching as an awe-struck 13 year old. But where does it go from here?

It needs new NAZI rocket scientists.

Re:But what comes next? (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398151)

NASA has always had this mentality of trailblazing.. the assumption has always been there that someone else will follow once they lead the way. This is lost on many people who look for NASA to build cities on the Moon or whatever.

Re:But what comes next? (4, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398225)

NASA has accomplished some truly amazing feats during the last 50 years, the pinnacle surely being the moon landing of Apollo 11

But that was 40 years ago, which is exactly what the problem is. NASA's budget has been going down ever since (as a percentage of the nation's budget) all the way from 4% to 0.7% and falling. The only way things are going to change in a dramatic way is if somebody figures out a genuine commercial interest in space exploration, which would lead to an increase in NASA's budget and more competition from private sector and from other nations.

Re:But what comes next? (1)

Squapper (787068) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398369)

Is it just me, but doesn't 4% seam like a ridiciously high figure when reflecting upon the problems that still exists down on US soil?

Re:But what comes next? (2, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398445)

If you think that's a lot then I don't think you want to know how much money the US is spending on its military.

/Mikael

Re:But what comes next? (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 6 years ago | (#24399319)

If you think that's a lot then I don't think you want to know how much money the US is spending on its military.

/Mikael

If you think the percentage of the budget we're spending on the military right now is a lot, you should have seen what percentage we spent on the military before WW2!

Re:But what comes next? (5, Insightful)

icebrain (944107) | more than 6 years ago | (#24399059)

I'm tired of this "but there are poor people!" argument. We could dump every spare cent in the budget into welfare programs, and you'll still have poor people.

If you want to look at it this way, a space program is a jobs program. It's not like all the money spent on it is thrown away in space, or burned in a giant pit... that money all goes into the economy. It pays all the small contractors that make electronics, valves, pumps, etc.; it pays all the mechanics and technicians that build and maintain the systems; it pays all the engineers that design the spacecraft... and all those people have to live and eat somewhere. Make the program interesting, and kids will think "hey, I want a part of that", and they'll stay in school, get science and engineering degrees, and have a better future. I think that's much more beneficial than just handing out welfare checks.

We need to change the focus of the space program, too. No more of this focus solely on science; it's good and all, but it doesn't directly solve practical problems. The focus should instead be on preserving the human race--ie, developing defenses against planet-killer asteroids and spreading out over many worlds (redundant off-site backups). And you know that, if something happens (like a large asteroid coming at us), the public will be screaming "do something, save us!" And I'll just be sitting there saying "well, I told you so, but nobody listened."

Re:But what comes next? (5, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398701)

Or, people in this country stop acting so anti-government and commit to a space program on the scales you're talking about. Personally, I don't see commercial interests EVER besting NASA as far as milestones go. Sure, they can use the technology that national space programs develop, but no way a corporation is going to sink $100 billion into getting a man on the Mars.

Everyone keeps talking about how NASA is in danger as if Microsoft is going to take over space exploration. NASA hasn't hit the same scale of milestones as the moon shot, but I've been impressed with what they've been getting done. Now, I want to see more but we live in a country full of intellectually disinterested American Idol fans.

Re:But what comes next? (3, Insightful)

icebrain (944107) | more than 6 years ago | (#24399799)

Sure, they can use the technology that national space programs develop, but no way a corporation is going to sink $100 billion into getting a man on the Mars.

Even if a corporation was willing to spend that much money... there's no way it would happen. Almost everyone (politicians, executives, shareholders, and the general public) is pretty much incapable of long-term thinking. Hell, most companies don't even seem to think beyond this quarter, much less this year--just look at all the dumb decisions that boost quarterly profits at the expense of long-term ones. Something like the space program could have an enormous benefit twenty or thirty years down the road... but nobody's willing to invest the cash required if they have to wait that long for their return.

That's why, despite my general leanings toward less government involvement and private industry, I believe governments (ie, not just the US) need to commit to long-term heavy space funding. The potential benefits, like survival of the species, efficient technology that can help reduce environmental impact, space-based power transmission to remote areas, better satellite navigation, asteroid impact avoidance, etc. are benefits to everyone; and while private industry may have a role, only a government has the necessary funds and the longevity to run something like this.

Re:But what comes next? (1)

darjen (879890) | more than 6 years ago | (#24400053)

yeah, those terrible anti-government people. If only we could get rid of them, NASA would be a huge success!

Private funding of commercial space flight is the only way you will see substantial improvement in space exploration.

Re:But what comes next? (2, Insightful)

elwinc (663074) | more than 6 years ago | (#24399131)

Add to this the fact that NASA's current mission, Moon+Mars is unfunded, and NASA has to cut left and right just to study the mission. Bush essentially gave NASA a huge unfunded mandate. Mars will never get a manned visit in the current budget climate, so the study just steals money from the other missions.

And then there's the inconvenient truth that almost all the good science is being done by unmanned craft. Try and list scientific accomplishments that have come out of the International Space Station. With the dubious exception of crystal growth, most of them have to do with acclimatizing humans to space, or bringing some simple plant or insect to LEO to see what happens. Basically no interesting science has happened except with the robot explorations.

Finally, there's the canceling in 2006 of the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) due to "competing priorities." This to me is the final proof that Moon+Mars is killing space science. My conclusion: Either we should actually separately fund Moon+Mars or we should kill it and re-allocate the money to unmanned projects (like the Mars Rovers & DSCOVR) that are doing actual science.

DSCOVR was a victim of ideology, not budgets... (2, Informative)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 6 years ago | (#24400215)

The current administration has zero interest in funding anything to do with studying climate change, particularly a satellite first proposed by Al Gore.

It was built, but never launched. It now sits in storage (at a cost of $1M/year), awaiting a less hostile administration.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triana_(satellite) [wikipedia.org]

WMD seen on the moon and mars (2, Funny)

nexttech (1289308) | more than 6 years ago | (#24400871)

There, That should help them get funding. George please take note.

What is NASA for? And what is it worth? (0, Offtopic)

Richard Kirk (535523) | more than 6 years ago | (#24399493)

I am not convinced that the ultimate end of all NASA's work (investment?) has got to be a commercial sector development. Most of space is pretty hostile - too cold, too empty, too expensive, too far go go back if something goes wrong. There are spin-offs but they are pretty tiny when compared to the actual cost. Perhaps what NASA does is worth doing, just because it is fun, and makes us feel good about ourselves?

We have already had the obligatory rants on how (a) the money could be better spent on the starving or (b) how much smaller the NASA budget is than the military. Perhaps we could equate what NASA does to entertainment. I believe the costs of the Apollo program were the equivalent to a cinema ticket for every US adult and child per year. Or, the other way around, when the film "2010" was produced, people considered shooting the spacewalk sequences in space itself: it was more expensive, but not by a silly ratio.

The Apollo program has been likened to a modern building of the pyramids. This is probably a fair analogy: Egypt had a seasonal surplus of labor. The costs did not seem to have harmed them at the time. The Easter Islanders, on the other hand, destroyed their economy and ruined their island putting up those stupid heads. The Great Wall of China was a huge investment, but provided no real protection.

I don't think we can come up with a conventional financial justification for going into space. There is no need for a 'space race' any longer: we don't need to develop heavy missile weapons, and who gets there first is not an issue. Space will be there, much the same in ten years or a hundred. If we are going to do something in space, then let it be purely for the fun of finding out. Budget the thing at about a cinema ticket per adult per year.

Bread and circuses. That's what the people want.

Re:But what comes next? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24398721)

After the first FAILED private sector spaceflight, I think the billionaires will rightly leave space to the experts.

There is ZERO justification for a moon base at this time. We HAVE a space station. The shuttle is a ridiculous contraption at the moment. By the way, have you seen the national debt lately?

I think NASA is doing EXACTLY what it should be doing, which is unmanned robotic missions. Imagine what we could gather from an array of hubble telescopes... and what little more we could learn from an expensive manned moon shot.

Re:But what comes next? (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398991)

Don't you have a sense of adventure? Sending a hundred probes to accurately measure everything you can imagine about the moon and its surface just isn't the same as actually setting foot on the moon. Sending a probe to a distant star and taking pictures of the little green men living there just wouldn't be very fun, would it? Would anyone watch Star Trek if it was about sending thousands of probes while the humans all sat in front of screens back on Earth?

/Mikael

Re:But what comes next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24399675)

Would anyone watch Star Trek if it was about sending thousands of probes while the humans all sat in front of screens back on Earth?

Me thinks this person does NOT know Trekkies...

oh look ! a tribble!

Re:But what comes next? (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 6 years ago | (#24400531)

After the first FAILED private sector spaceflight, I think the billionaires will rightly leave space to the experts.

Define failure? Like what happened with the aviation industry [wikipedia.org] ?

By the way, have you seen the national debt lately?

How is this relevant - why pick on space flight, and not all the far bigger wastes of Government money?

Re:But what comes next? (2, Insightful)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 6 years ago | (#24399011)

They get their NOAA remote-sensing licence?

Re:But what comes next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24400099)

Here at NASA, the "burgeoning private sector" you speak of is not seen as competition or "overshadowing" NASA... it is viewed as one of the successes you were listing off.

NASA has reaffirmed it's commitment to pioneering the most difficult parts of spaceflight and the associated logistics so that private industry can follow behind it and free NASA up to move on to other things. The COTS program is perfect example of this.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commercial_Orbital_Transportation_Services

Selling you yesterday's future today (5, Insightful)

Eukariote (881204) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398119)

50 years, and we are still stuck in low Earth orbit. 50 years, and still no cost-effective launch system.

Re:Selling you yesterday's future today (3, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398481)

50 years, and we are still stuck in low Earth orbit. 50 years, and still no cost-effective launch system.

If all goes well, we'll have one this weekend:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SpaceX#Upcoming_launches [wikipedia.org]

Re:Selling you yesterday's future today (1)

florescent_beige (608235) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398605)

...still no cost-effective launch system.

That will require airline-type operations. That will require higher design margins. That will require higher payload mass ratio. That will require air breathing. That will require SCRAM.

At the end of WWII Boeing was already making modern pressurized semi-monocoque airplanes just like we have today (the B29). All that was needed was the jet engine to create the air transportation system we have now.

We know NASA can make space planes. They lack the engine.

Unfortunately even HRH (His Royal Hairness) Branson doesn't have the checking account to fund the development of one of those. I believe the US government could do it just like they did with the jet engine. Why don't they?

Because of the fear that, were LEO to open up like atmospheric air travel has, then just anybody (read Iran, N. Korea, a wealthy individual) could zip their little spaceships over the continental United States at will, unannounced, any time, with anything on board.

The way things are now, only the big boys get to play astronaut. Why do you think the US recently announced a policy position that would allow them to shoot down anything in space they felt like?

Re:Selling you yesterday's future today (1)

Octorian (14086) | more than 6 years ago | (#24399329)

Not sure if you implied this or not, but the US didn't develop the jet engine. It was simultaneously invented by independent teams in Great Brittan and Germany, around the timeframe of WWII. Of course the first operational jet fighter was the German ME-262, which even had a modern swept-wing design.

Re:Selling you yesterday's future today (1, Insightful)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398695)

um, why would they want a cost effective system? That just means that will get less money.

Re:Selling you yesterday's future today (0, Troll)

savuporo (658486) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398717)

Its about time to send this 50-year agency to retirement. There are good proposals to restructure government-sponsored space activities, with way more focus on development of space, focussed avionics and space technology research and handing pure science over to science organizations. In essence a return to NACA model for aeronautics research, science organizations being in charge of science and then some organizations working as catalysts to commercial space development activities. This, of course, would mean an end to government-run space trucking business ( Shuttle and any other government-operated and built launchers ) which currently takes up better part of a half of the entire space budget. There are gazillions of ways to spend this money better.

Why can't engineers think of these things??? (-1, Troll)

Mick Malkemus (1281196) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398929)


A lot of the initial thrust is wasted on air that gets pushed out of the way, creating an ineffective surface to push against.

IDEA #1

Why not dig a hole about 1000 meters deep (arbitrary for sake of illustration).

Lower the launch vehicle into this hole.

Instead of just allowing the vehicle to push itself out of the hole (much like a cannonball with a controlled burn), augment the launch by attaching a cord to the top of the vehicle to pull it by.

This scenario should greatly decrease the size needed for the primary launch vehicle, and allow cost effective launches.

A parallel hole build next to this one, in which a large container the same weight of the launch vehicle is allowed to cancel the weight of the launch vehicle.

IDEA #2

We've all heard of the proposed tunnel across the Atlantic that will be a vacuum tube, allowing the tube train to travel at extremely high speeds.

Clue: make a vacuum tube in the ground. Pressurize the bottom, making the launch vehicle to rapidly accelerate. Once the vehicle reaches the end of the tunnel, blow the top, and fire the rockets. Viola.

IDEA #3

Create air scoops on the side of the primary launch vehicle, which would force air below the rocket circumferentially , creating a firmer 'platform' upon which to rise. Thus counteracting the loss of thrust to the side.

I should have been an engineer.

Re:Selling you yesterday's future today (1)

RawGutts (879317) | more than 6 years ago | (#24399003)

I just want to see some business minded people reply to the OP.

What is the return on the American investment here? What has been done to benefit the American population. All the Trillions of dollars the American tax payer has sent to NASA over the years.

Re:Selling you yesterday's future today (1)

k_187 (61692) | more than 6 years ago | (#24399533)

We beat the god-damned commies, that's your ROI. More recently, not so much.

Re:Selling you yesterday's future today (1)

RawGutts (879317) | more than 6 years ago | (#24399563)

LOL, beat them into space? Naaaw we took second.

But in the cold war maybe, if you call that NASA's doing so by launching CIA/NSA spy satellites to help out.

Re:Selling you yesterday's future today (3, Insightful)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 6 years ago | (#24400581)

This post [slashdot.org] put's it well. In short, NASA has given us

I wonder if we subtracted a great percentage of things like weather forecasting, satellite communications, planetary geology, solar technology, aerospace and commercial aviation advancements, awesome pictures of our Universe and other worlds, a growth in understanding of the Universe....

Secondly, I'm not American but if you asked me to list the things I thought were best about your country, NASA high up, if not top of the list; I'll bet it's the same for many other non-Americans, so NASA also buys you good PR. That's something that your country badly needs at the moment. There is far too much unjustified anti-americanism in the world, programs like NASA do more to counter it than your diplomats and politicians could ever do.

Great things will happen in the next 50 years (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24398195)

But they won't be done by NASA. NASA has become too politicized, too corporate centered, and above all too risk adverse. The upcoming Orion system is just a rehash of the Saturn-5 with reused Shuttle parts. It breaks no new ground and does not push the envelope in any way. If we've learned anything in the last 50 years it is this: 1) When NASA is not pushing the envelope and taking risks it stagnates, gets sloppy, and then a mission fails. 2) You cannot explore space on the cheap.

NASA is now not pushing the envelope in any way and they are trying to come up with a new launch system, go to the Moon, and on to Mars without spending any more money. They will fail and people will die.

I expect to see people walking on the Moon again and possibly Mars within my lifetime. They will be European and Chinese. America will be remembered by history as the Portuguese of the 20th century. Portugal was the first nation to push out and explore the world by ship. Columbus was Portuguese. The first European to round the southern tip of Africa was Portuguese. Then they stopped and Spain, England and the Dutch took up the effort and built globe spanning empires. The US and NASA are following this same path.

Re:Great things will happen in the next 50 years (2, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398275)

...Spain, England and the Dutch took up the effort and built globe spanning empires.

Not exactly something to be proud of, considering how they did it and all. It just means that the Chinese will be enslaving little green men to toil in their underground sugar cave. And I for one...

Re:Great things will happen in the next 50 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24398859)

"...welcome my new Chinese overlords"? PROOF!

Re:Great things will happen in the next 50 years (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#24399765)

If we've learned anything in the last 50 years it is this: 1) When NASA is not pushing the envelope and taking risks it stagnates, gets sloppy, and then a mission fails. 2) You cannot explore space on the cheap.

Ah sweet irony. That won't be the lessons of the next 50 years. Space development is going to require space travel that is mundane, doesn't push the envelope of that future time, and is fairly cheap. I think we can get there. As it is, I think NASA spends more than enough for genuine space exploration. If it can't spend the current money in an effective way (I'm thinking of the manned program here), then why expect it to spend considerably more in an effective way?

Re:Great things will happen in the next 50 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24399937)

NASA is still in the lead. If you take the current batch of moon probes as an example; the LRO to be launched in 2009 will study the moon with greater resolution than any system ever. Even the probes sent by China and Japan will not have better data. The LRO will also orbit the moon at a very low altitude which is a challenge due to the moon's irregular shape (gravity field is irregular). A great example is that the LRO will be the only moon probe capable of resolving images of the Apollo landers.

The plans for returning to the moon that NASA is working on now are focused on developing the ability to stay for long periods of time (say 6 months), and have moon rovers and other surface systems that will last for 7 years. This is a huge leap in difficulty beyond what was done in the Apollo program where astronauts stayed on the moon for comparatively short periods of time and never reused any lunar surface equipment from mission to mission.

Just because everybody focuses on the rockets, they lose sight of the interesting stuff; the part that happens once we get to the lunar surface.

NASA will do exciting and amazing things, and it will take a while to do them. They will blaze trails for others to follow. NASA's leaders are aware of the importance of commercial space activity and it is part of the strategy. Programs like Centennial Challenges are a great example of this mindset being put into action right now.

Re:Great things will happen in the next 50 years (1)

jbburks (853501) | more than 6 years ago | (#24400973)

NASA was formed 50 years ago when a small group of people willing to make huge sacrifices of their time (and possibly careers) to leave a large, stodgy, 50-year old organization involved in arcane research to actually do something new and interesting. Now NASA has become the NACA of 50 years ago, and, if we want to succeed at space, take a core of committed, visionary people out of NASA to a new place and start over. Of course, we need a national commitment like Kennedy generated, but I don't see that coming any time soon either.

Space cake! (2, Funny)

Mister Liberty (769145) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398241)

Happy anniversary!

The cost of continued exploration. (1)

blattin (1335585) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398247)

For the 1/3 of Americans who support cutting or eliminating NASA's budget, how about you vote for a someone who can properly manage the economy instead.

Celebrating by reading... (1)

Jesrad (716567) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398325)

I'm celebrating those 50 years by reading "Kings of the High Frontier" by V. Koman.

to all those bagging NASA.. (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398377)

.. how many spacecraft have YOU put into orbit? that's right, silence.

Re:to all those bagging NASA.. (2, Insightful)

rarel (697734) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398401)

I'm sorry, but this is irrelevant... Not being a rocket scientist doesn't prevent us from recognizing that NASA has some serious flaws, most of them being in the heavy bureaucracy and CYA mentality. We can appreciate all their successes, which were tremendous and awe-inspring, the Moon landing, the space station, but we can criticize just as well and some of these criticism are justified. The shuttle may be a marvel of technology but it never delivered and it ended up being a money blackhole. Not to mention the inherently unsafe strap-on design. So yeah, they did good things, things that the majority of us cannot accomplish. But they're not perfect, and we oughta remind them of that. (Especially since they use your tax dollars...)

Re:to all those bagging NASA.. (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398577)

while it's true they aren't perfect, i'm aiming this at all the nay sayers who use this as an oppertunity to attack NASA on their 50th when they would be lucky to understand 1/10th of what goes into the agency's activity's.

Re:to all those bagging NASA.. (1, Offtopic)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398885)

Not to mention the inherently unsafe strap-on design.

And their notoriously unreliable vibrators. [slashdot.org]

Re:to all those bagging NASA.. (0)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398709)

None, how many billions of dollars have I flushed straight down the toilet? None!

Re:to all those bagging NASA.. (1)

shoemilk (1008173) | more than 6 years ago | (#24399287)

Bonus question: How many of you have billions of dollars at your disposal? That's right, silence.

Soviet Russia put spacecraft in orbit, so I guess they were perfect, too.

Re:to all those bagging NASA.. (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 6 years ago | (#24400193)

.. how many spacecraft have YOU put into orbit? that's right, silence.

To all those bagging GW Bush...how many wars have YOU started?

To all those bagging Microsoft...how many billions of dollars have YOU earned?

Samuel Johnson said a long time ago that you don't have to be a carpenter to criticise a badly made table.

A Socialist space agency (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24398459)

in the heart of america!

They plan, you pay, like it or not.

NASA continues to be undervalued. (5, Insightful)

GreggBz (777373) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398675)

I just think it's been a self destructive downward spiral.

Cut funding for NASA, NASA stops doing amazing things, people stop caring about NASA, the peoples representative stop caring about NASA, cut more funding from NASA, rinse, repeat.

I wonder if we subtracted a great percentage of things like weather forecasting, satellite communications, planetary geology, solar technology, aerospace and commercial aviation advancements, awesome pictures of our Universe and other worlds, a growth in understanding of the Universe.... if people would start to care.

NASA was a catalyst behind so much stuff that everyone now takes for granted. They are the root of a giant science and technology tree.

The flaws and bureaucracy were always there. If NASA had funding and direction the flaws wouldn't be the biggest thing we notice.

To bad.

NASA retirement party anyone? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24398835)

Is NASA going to retire, or is it going to do the standard boomer thing of working until it dies because of no retirement plans.

Happy Birthday NASA (2, Informative)

Neuropol (665537) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398841)

Annual US war budget: $480Bn USD

NASA US Annual budget: equal to about 1 day of war budget.

Real Science! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24398853)

IAAA (I am as astronomer), and I have to point out that contrary to popular belief here, NASA is largely responsible for the current golden age of astronomy, as well as the renewal of particle physics. With the Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra space telescopes all currently returning awesome data, we're making huge gains in our basic astronomical understanding, from extra-solar planets to galaxy evolution to cosmology. HST supernova studies led to the discovery of dark energy, which has brought particle physics back to life. Future missions, including the imminent Herschel, Planck and WISE satellites, and the next great observatory, JWST, will continue this excellence in true scientific exploration far into the future. And don't forget the rovers, the phoenix and cassini. The general public tends to dramatically overestimate the importance of the manned program. While we /.ers understand the star trek appeal of that, we should be smart enough to remember the science!!

Thank you, Captain Obvious (3, Funny)

6Yankee (597075) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398857)

"Fifty years ago yesterday, in 1958"

I presume this was for the benefit of any NASA engineers who can't convert between metric and Imperial years?

toast (3, Insightful)

phrostie (121428) | more than 6 years ago | (#24398915)

*raises glass*

to the next 50 years

Re:toast (1)

thedistrict (1327685) | more than 6 years ago | (#24399755)

We seem to be in the minority but I think it's astounding the amount of things that we have today and take for granted that NASA is responsible for putting together. I hope as many things come in the next 50 too.

Space shuttle is a problem (2, Insightful)

soldeed (765559) | more than 6 years ago | (#24399045)

NASA's problem; The @$#%#^%* space shuttle Gee. they said space travel sure is expensive! what can we do? Hey, let's build a re-usable space ship! We can operate it like an airliner and launch it every two weeks! (cough!) It will be cheap and economical! (cough!) We can get rid of all our expendable launchers! (cough!) And it will be safe, we can even take school teachers up for rides! (CHOKE!) Inefficient, bad compromise between a cargo ship and crew launcher, Inherent design flaws that make it vulnerable to catastrophic failure, huge operating costs that make it more expensive to launch than a saturn V, and has completely put an end to all manned exploration. Sorry, dicking around in orbit doing science experiments is NOT exploration! I will be glad to see them sitting in museums.

Re:Space shuttle is a problem (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24400041)

Yeah, but they only ever got 1/4 of the funding they said it would take to build a shuttle to do all of the things they said it would do. The fact that it was ever built for 1/4 the funding is amazing all by itself.

NASA's biggest problem is that they continue to be underfunded after decades of being underfunded, and expectations have never been adjusted to match. NASA has kept up with expectations quite well, despite low funding.

I turn 50 in a couple of months and if I was... (1)

croftj (2359) | more than 6 years ago | (#24399067)

given as much money as they, I could've accomplished just as much. Probably would've have, but that's not the point.

Re:I turn 50 in a couple of months and if I was... (1)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 6 years ago | (#24399157)

Of course you would have, I mean if only you'd been given the billion dollar budget on your FIFTH BIRTHDAY you'd have had people on the moon by the time you were 11.

If it was all about money then Paris Hilton wouldn't be worthless.

NASA not dead! (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 6 years ago | (#24399463)

Just smells funny.
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/09/18/nasa_smells/ [theregister.co.uk]

Re:NASA not dead! (2, Insightful)

Sun.Jedi (1280674) | more than 6 years ago | (#24400541)

The stench first appeared at 6.23am Houston time. The source is still unknown.

Whoever smelt it, dealt it.

NASA is M$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24399839)

NASA put a man on the moon for one reason only, and that was because of the soviet union.

Since there is no competition taking place now, there is no need innovation.

Congrats NASA on 15 years of incredible progress! (2, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#24400319)

...and 35 years of wasting my money.

And not to forget... (2, Insightful)

Lincolnshire Poacher (1205798) | more than 6 years ago | (#24400413)

50 years of aeronautics research on a steadily declining budget:

http://www.aeronautics.nasa.gov/technical_excellence.htm [nasa.gov]

Just $750 million in aerospace funding for FY2007; perhaps it is time to split the ``NA'' from the ``SA'' and give the aeronautics directorate the freedom to pursue its own budget and agenda outside the bondoogle that is the US space programme.

In other words, just turn the clock back those 50 years...

Every dollar in we get 9 dollars back. (1)

tecker (793737) | more than 6 years ago | (#24400817)

I find it truly interesting that people seem to dog upon the space program and NASA. What many do not realize is that much of the technology that we enjoy today was developed by NASA and its partners to solve a problem in space. It is when they realized that it had practical applications on earth they were able to make back profits.

I have heard from others that "For every dollar put into nasa we get 20 dollars back in new tech." Searching around lead me to find that it is actually around 9 dollars back. Still 9:1 return is not found even in the riskiest markets.

As for tech. Someone told me Velcro was invented to help secure things in zero gravity. Memory Foam (the basis for the Tempurpedic "Swedish Sleep System") was made for beds in space so they would conform. This is all second hand stuff from my parents when I was young so I am going to guess there may be some element of conspiracy to make me interested in science.

Now my only question is, will NASA make it to 60?
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