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Pieces Coming Together For NASA's New Spacecraft

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the fly-me-to-the-moon dept.

NASA 78

Matt_dk points out an update on the progress of development for NASA's Ares I launch rocket, excerpting: "NASA is using powerful computers and software programs to design the rocket that will carry crew and cargo to space after the space shuttle retires. But those computers will have their work checked the old-fashioned way with the first of several uncrewed demonstration launches beginning in 2009. Ares I-X, the first Ares I test rocket, will lift off from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. in the summer of 2009. It will climb about 25 miles in a two-minute powered test of Ares I first stage performance and its first stage separation and parachute recovery system." Reader coondoggie notes that NASA is also looking further afield, putting out the call for ideas on moon colonization. They'll be offering a variety of grants for projects which facilitate human activities that are "not reliant on Earth's resources."

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Another one? (0, Troll)

Luke727 (547923) | more than 5 years ago | (#26012779)

I just logged in right now and lo and behold, frosty piss!

and That is exactly how they will come apart (0, Flamebait)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 5 years ago | (#26012795)

In pieces.

Re:and That is exactly how they will come apart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26013655)

Where's the "-1 Uncomfortable Truth" moderation when you need it?

Will it actually happen? (5, Informative)

takane (1277990) | more than 5 years ago | (#26012827)

According to this [slashdot.org] it may not actually happen, in fact it may just be the beginning of the budgetary death spiral for the whole manned space program.

You clowns voted for him... (-1, Flamebait)

mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013013)


...and now you're just gonna hafta sleep in that bed you made for yourselves.

Welcome to the 21st [washingtonpost.com] Century [mcclatchydc.com] - party on, dudes!!!

Re:You clowns voted for him... (0, Flamebait)

hitmark (640295) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013171)

i dont thing it would change much no matter who it was that took office, except maybe that the other one would want to channel the money into warmongering rather then attempt to kill the deficit...

but this is all from a ignorant european...

but lets face it, space exploration is a blue sky research thing, and thats a area thats been in decline since the 1980's...

if it cant make a buck, scrap it...

Barack Obama will gut NASA. (-1, Troll)

reporter (666905) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013757)

In late 2007, Barack H. Obama proposed suspending the moon-to-Mars space program [cjr.org] . Then, in 2008 August, at a town-hall meeting near the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Obama reversed himself and promised to fully fund NASA and its programs [spaceflightnow.com] .

On November 4, engineers and scientists throughout NASA and academia scratched their collective heads and asked, "Which Obama is the real Obama?"

Now, we have the answer. Obama recently returned to the idea of sacrificing NASA programs [foxnews.com] in favor of his political agenda.

As Obama dismantles the American space program, perhaps we Americans should look to Japan [telegraph.co.uk] for leadership in the peaceful development of space.

Re:Barack Obama will gut NASA. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26014127)

Economic realities have to be addressed before anything else, you fucking angry frustrated partisan shill.

Meet Sigmund Freud. (0, Offtopic)

mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014531)


fucking angry frustrated partisan shill

Mr Coward, kindly allow me to introduce you to Mr Freud [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Barack Obama will gut NASA. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26015147)

You forgot to blame Russia [slashdot.org] on this one.

Re:Will it actually happen? (1)

terraplane (898379) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021055)

At last... maybe the utter failure that is the space program will be shut down for ever. It's brought nothing but death, misery, moral depravity, secularism and other preversions.

Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (4, Interesting)

ZosX (517789) | more than 5 years ago | (#26012859)

While the 20 some year old space shuttle (that was kind of funny, I mistyped it shittle the first time) ages not so gracefully, we need a replacement to move people and objects to the ISS. Obama is already talking about scaling back the most massive projects at NASA, and in today's econopolitical climate I doubt there is going to be a great deal of support behind new huge expensive rockets. For the amount of raw materials and fuel expended (yes, I know rockets can be relaunched) it doesn't strike me as a very efficient way to get into space. Where are the sleek little ships that we hop into and are in orbit in minutes? I know its science fiction (orbit takes a great deal of velocity and acceleration from 0 to such lofty speeds might take a bit of time), but we should be pouring a lot more of our money and time into finding better sources of energy and ways to harvest them. I mean, liquid fuel rockets are like whawt, 60-70 year old technology now? Nuclear technology....60 years roughly? All these advances happened at or near the end of World War II. Computers....oh wait...that was also about 60 some years ago. Sure every technology has been advanced, but when you look at the overall progress (transistors, notwithstanding) it has all been an evolution from these earlier examples, but nothing so revolutionary as they were in the first place. The combustion engine was developed over 100 years ago. Where is the Edison of the new age? Where is the Tesla of the 21st century? Could I be totally wrong in thinking that while our rate of knowledge is increasing at an exponential rate, our actual technology is increasing on a much, much flatter curve, if it is a curve at all.......?

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (5, Insightful)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26012973)

The ISS is a white elephant and a distraction to NASA. It should be abandoned for real scientific and research pursuits.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (0, Flamebait)

mR.bRiGhTsId3 (1196765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013477)

Hey, at least for the future, they learned how not to run a space station. I'm sure NASA and all the other space agencies have smart enough people to not fail so abysmally next time.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015357)

You'd think that, but the ISS was station number 3.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26013001)

While the 20 some year old space shuttle (that was kind of funny, I mistyped it shittle the first time) ages not so gracefully, we need a replacement to move people and objects to the ISS. Obama is already talking about scaling back the most massive projects at NASA, and in today's econopolitical climate I doubt there is going to be a great deal of support behind new huge expensive rockets. For the amount of raw materials and fuel expended (yes, I know rockets can be relaunched) it doesn't strike me as a very efficient way to get into space. Where are the sleek little ships that we hop into and are in orbit in minutes? I know its science fiction (orbit takes a great deal of velocity and acceleration from 0 to such lofty speeds might take a bit of time)

It's not science fiction, it takes a couple of minutes to reach orbit with those big rockets. The fact that you don't even know this makes me think you're talking out of your arse.
  What we need are more dense fuels, which basically means nuclear (either fission or fusion), otherwise we're stuck with the ridiculously tiny ratio of payload to launch mass.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1)

ZosX (517789) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013321)

Gotta love nasa:

Alexandria from Orlando
How long does it take for the Orbiter to get in to orbit?
Very good question, it only takes 8 and half minutes. It's quite a wild ride when you consider that they have to go from that standing start to 17,500 mile per hour. In the initial acceleration, right off the launch pad going straight up it's faster than a Corvette, I do believe. And the amazing thing is that the whole shuttle stack weighs about 4 and half million pounds, not just 3,000 pounds like a Corvette.

Its true that it takes less than ten minutes. It still is not the speed that science fiction depicts it as being, where a space ship just zooms out of a planet instantly, though I suspect our g force limitations would keep us from going much faster. It was more just a comment, and yes, I am just talking out of my ass =). It is true that nasa has tough times ahead. It is also true that we need some massive technological leap forward to make space travel all that feasible.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013329)

Other than exploding a series of bombs under the rocket, how could nuclear be used as a propellant? Making steam from water?

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (4, Informative)

Nit Picker (9292) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013783)

Back in the 50's, 60's, and 70's several experimental nuclear rocket engines were built and static tested They were reactors that had liquid hydrogen forced through the core. One of the projects went by the acronym NERVA if you want to look it up. My understanding is that the engines had specific impulses well above those obtainable with chemical rockets, but no one liked the potential impacts of a launch failure.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26014489)

The problem was that the nuclear heavy water would eat through the piping (remember, it's a rocket so things have to be lightweight. The shielding seen on nuclear power plants and even), spewing a radioactive cloud behind it.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1)

NotmyNick (1089709) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014917)

no one liked the potential impacts of a launch failure.

The fact is, no one like(d/s) the impacts of a launch success. Do your own search for the reality.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26019537)

These actually used the exhaust to blow past the core and cool it to keep it from going critical. Worked but the exhaust was then radioactive. Also you had to keep a minimum amount of thrust or the cooling effect wasn't sufficient and it would explode.

A good science experiment but completely useless for human space travel.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014091)

By using either alpha particles or neutrons as a replacement for ions in a basic mass reaction engines, just nuclear powered!

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014581)

While you are in the atmosphere, you can make hot air out of cold air.

There isn't all that much atmosphere to work with, but I suppose you could make a launch platform a la S.H.I.E.L.D., and you could always try to accumulate velocity while going sideways.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015259)

Sounds like it may be plausible for LEO missions (IANARS*), but it won't be taking us to the moon (and definitely wouldn't bring us back).

* - I Am Not A Rocket Scientist

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015349)

I'm not a rocket scientist either, but if it were viable, it might chop off enough of the bottom of the fuel pyramid to make other missions easier or cheaper.

For hand-wavy reference purposes, a 3 million kg Saturn V launches about 47,000 kg into lunar vicinity, and about 118,000 kg into leo:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn_V [wikipedia.org]

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (4, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015697)

Other than exploding a series of bombs under the rocket, how could nuclear be used as a propellant? Making steam from water?

Yes, exactly. That's how most nuclear reactors work. When you get a stable chain reaction going, it generates a lot of heat. In a basic nuclear power plant, that heat is used (indirectly) to turn water into steam, which is used to turn turbines and generate electricity. Currently, the reactor is fueled with solid uranium pellets. The problem is, with solids, if you don't cool the reaction properly, the fuel gets so hot that it melts through the floor of the reactor. There is a gas, uranium hexafluoride, which is also radioactive. If you get the density of the gas right, it undergoes a chain reaction and generates heat. The bonus with using a gas is that by depressurizing it, you cause the reaction to stop. The hotter the gas gets, the more it wants to expand and the more it expands the slower the chain reactions. It becomes self regulating. It will never melt down because it is already a gas.

Okay, so you take this Uranium hexafluoride, and put it into a silica glass chamber and you spin the gas like a mini tornado. This gives you the proper pressure. The silica glass is thick, but transparent to infrared, so the heat gets out but the gas stays in. You let water flow around the glass chamber and it becomes steam. The steam is ejected out the back of the rocket. The steam is never in contact with the uranium, so there is no radiation. The energy density is three to ten times what a chemical rocket can do.

Google up nuclear light bulb rockets, and NERVA.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1)

kvezach (1199717) | more than 5 years ago | (#26020025)

"Exploding a series of bombs under the rocket" actually works. It's called Project Orion [wikipedia.org] , and you feasibly could send city-sized ships to Saturn with it. Later proposals used conventional explosives for the first blast, so there would be little fallout. Unfortunately, the thing's illegal (by the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963). The fallout would also kill ten people (globally) per launch, on average.

So that leaves internal engines. Yes, it's possible to make a nuclear rocket. It can either be solid core, liquid core, or gas core.

Solid core is your basic nuclear reactor mounted to a rocket. Heat the reactor up, pass hydrogen (or some other gas) through it, it heats up and goes faster out the other end. The problem is abrasion, and there's also a temperature limitation - if you run it too hot, the reactor melts and that's no good. The temperature limitation means that the rocket's limited to about 1000 seconds of specific impulse.

A liquid core reactor takes that lemon and makes lemonade. The reactor can't melt because it's already molten. With some sophistication, it's possible to make the reactor stable (spinning the mass in some way; I know too little about the details). Put hydrogen in one end, get superheated hydrogen out the other. But now that hydrogen drags with it some uranium too, and you get fallout galore.

The gas core rocket exists in two forms. The open gas core reactor is like the liquid core reactor, except now the uranium is gaseous. Even more uranium mixes with the hydrogen. This leads us to the closed gas core reactor, where the nuclear inferno is trapped inside a "light bulb" of quartz, which is almost transparent to the blackbody radiation in the temperature range in question. Still, that reintroduces temperature limits, but they're far more generous than solid core limits. Hydrogen (or the propellant, whatever it is) is introduced so that it flows on the outside of the quartz, gathering heat and speeding up.

According to this nuclear engine page [projectrho.com] , closed gas core reactors have specific impulse ranges of 1500 to 3000 seconds, and open gas core reactors have specific impulse ranges of 1800 to 7000s. In contrast, the Space Shuttle has a specific impulse of 450 seconds, and a jet about 2000 seconds. Note that I've only mentioned high-thrust engines; it's possible to make ion engines with extremely high specific impulse, but they'll be no good getting you to orbit, and it takes forever to accelerate in space using such engines.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1)

Atiniir (1344623) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021001)

If the ships are city-sized, does that mean that we can build cities into them, like the cover of Boston's Don't Look Back?

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26013355)

Or of course we could always use something that at least reduces the amount of energy that must be held as fuel, for example using a few miles of track and a sled as the first stage.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1)

Hawthorne01 (575586) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013395)

Or of course we could always use something that at least reduces the amount of energy that must be held as fuel, for example using a few miles of track and a sled as the first stage.

Which comes with g-forces that would squish any astronaut into the consistency of strawberry jam.

Like it or not, until we get a beanstalk up and running, we're stuck with chemical rockets for a while when it comes to manned missions.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26014701)

The thing is that our current model is to send crew and supplies together. For a long duration mission. Since supply weight far exceeds crew weight, why not use a huge rocket for just the crew (low mass -> high velocities) and send equipment for, say, T+1 week by a sled-launcher?

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (2, Insightful)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013505)

Damned if I get modded flamebait for saying it, but do you really want to see NASA as it currently stands have nuclear engines in their ships?

They've lost, what, two manned craft in the last 30 years (Challenger and Columbia)? That's sad, yes, but it's a small portion of their overall manned operations in that time. What if "only" two U.S. tactical nukes were accidentally dropped while they were being flown over some American land during training exercises in the last 30 years?

If one of those ships goes down and sprays radioactive waste everywhere, it's going to be bad. That means NASA is going to have to be extra careful and require a boatload more money than it currently has in its budget.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (2, Informative)

Zibblsnrt (125875) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014047)

What if "only" two U.S. tactical nukes were accidentally dropped while they were being flown over some American land during training exercises in the last 30 years?

Only dropping two of them by accident would be a fourfold improvement over the eight (that I know of) from 1966 and 1968.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014599)

Coal power spews radium and uranium into the atmosphere. It isn't visible or concentrated, so it doesn't receive all that much attention.

A few kilograms from a reactor incident would make a huge mess, but it wouldn't be devastating to much of anything.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (3, Insightful)

aurispector (530273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015039)

Good point. IIRC coal fired power plants have spewed more radioactive material into the atmosphere than nuclear plants ever did, including the accidents. The greenies really shot themselves (and everyone else) in the foot by confusing nuclear power with nuclear weapons in all the "no nukes" bullshit they used to peddle. God save us from ignoramus do-gooders. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 5 years ago | (#26017941)

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

Actually, that's a common misconception. It's paved with frozen door-to-door salesmen.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015417)

Coal power spews radium and uranium into the atmosphere. It isn't visible or concentrated, so it doesn't receive all that much attention.

That's my point.

We're exposed to tons of harmful radiation. The Sun, emissions from power plants, that creepy guy with the lazy eye at Starbucks, etc. But when it happens in one big chunk like this, there's a public outcry.

This is also why there isn't as much complaining about the general emissions from power plants but a huge complaint when some organization dumps a few tons of toxic waste into the river.

If a shuttle blows to bits, well, it's a national tragedy but there's no real lasting damage to the environment. Maybe a chunk of heat shielding will take out a 200 year old oak tree at worst. But if a nuclear reactor - even a small one - impacts on the earth, than the environmentalist nutjobs are going to be up in arms about how NASA can't keep using a "dangerous alternative" to power like that. What the Hell would they expect us to use to get into orbit? Wind power?

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015655)

Damned if I get modded flamebait for saying it, but do you really want to see NASA as it currently stands have nuclear engines in their ships?

It's not flamebait, it's plain old fashioned ignorance.

Hint: They already do... On a routine basis. RTGs are the only real alternative when solar power is not practical, and every mission (American or Russian) going out past Mars uses them extensively. The Apollo missions carried them onboard, and Apollo 13's RTG is currently chugging away in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. There have been dozens of other incidents as well (mostly Russian, but a few via NASA), and yet we all remain, shockingly, NOT-DEAD.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1)

usul294 (1163169) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013095)

The problem is that the few ideas that are out there for better engines have things like little nuclear reactors on top, and the public doesn't want that. Also, in terms of technology being 60 years old, the tubes that pushes your data around online are ~30 years old. Also, its pretty ridiculous to say that anything with a transistor is "evolutionary" or that anything that can do math is "evolutionary". If you're looking for today's Edison's and Tesla's I'd point you to the USPTO and ask them how many patent applications they get a year.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (2, Interesting)

Meumeu (848638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013345)

Also, its pretty ridiculous to say that anything with a transistor is "evolutionary" or that anything that can do math is "evolutionary".

Of course it's evolutionnary, I mean a Core i7 is not that different from the Antikythera mechanism [wikipedia.org] ...

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013201)

people are no longer interested in blue sky research, as the military-industrial complex is not buying any longer...

hell, even the big pharma-corps are no longer interested in antibiotica and similar as the expense of r&d is to big vs the number of years they get to sell the product...

those pesky bacteria adapts to quickly, for modern economics of scale...

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1)

aurispector (530273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015055)

we are just starting to live with that particular can of worms.

Saturn V (0)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013217)

I bet those rocket designers from the 50's to the early 70's are laughing their butts off. They tell them in the mid 70's, we are going to abandon a PERFECT launch vehicle, and replace it with a glider. If the shuttle had been build AS DESIGNED, it would have been much safer than strapping a couple solid rocket motors and millions of gallons of hydrogen/oxygen. Now some 30 years after the last Saturn V launch, they are building a crew module/escape rocket that looks like a grown up version of the Apollo Command/Service module. a "triangle shaped" reentry vehicle is a cheap, perfect design to get people into & out of space. If they REALLY want to get into space faster, just have James T. Kirk do another time warp and bring the Enterprise back with him. Now that "transparent aluminum" is coming to reality, it's time that the warp engine come into being.

Re:Saturn V (1)

ZosX (517789) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013361)

There's a good bit about this in wikipedia. Pretty interesting. The cost and heat shield parts are almost ironic.

Even before the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, NASA began early studies of space shuttle designs. The early studies beginning in October, 1968 were denoted "Phase A." Further studies resulted in "Phase B" in June 1970. These plans were much more detailed and more specific.

In 1969 President Richard Nixon formed the Space Task Group, chaired by vice president Spiro T. Agnew. This group evaluated the shuttle studies to date, and recommended a national space strategy including building a space shuttle.[1]

In October 1969, at a space shuttle symposium held in Washington, George Mueller (NASA's deputy administrator) presented opening remarks:[1]

        The goal we have set for ourselves is the reduction of the present costs of operating in space from the current figure of $1,000 a pound for a payload delivered in orbit by the Saturn V, down to a level of somewhere between $20 and $50 a pound. By so doing we can open up a whole new era of space exploration. Therefore, the challenge before this symposium and before all of us in the Air Force and NASA in the weeks and months ahead is to be sure that we can implement a system that is capable of doing just that. Let me outline three areas which, in my view, are critical to the achievement of these objectives. One is the development of an engine that will provide sufficient specific impulse, with adequate margin to propel its own weight and the desired payload. A second technical problem is the development of the reentry heat shield, so that we can reuse that heat shield time after time with minimal refurbishment and testing. The third general critical development area is a checkout and control system which provides autonomous operation by the crew without major support from the ground and which will allow low cost of maintenance and repair. Of the three, the latter may be a greater challenge than the first two.

The 1972 NASA/GAO REPORT TO THE CONGRESS, Cost-Benefit Analysis Used In Support Of The Space Shuttle Program states:[2]

        NASA has proposed that a space shuttle be developed for U.S. Space Transportation needs for NASA, the Department of Defense (DOD), and other users in the 1980s. The primary objective of the Space Shuttle Program is to provide a new space transportation capability that will:

                * reduce substantially the cost of space operations and
                * provide a future capability designed to support a wide range of scientific, defense, and commercial uses.

Re:Saturn V (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013377)

The Saturn V was not the "perfect launch vehicle". There were only a dozen or so launches, and we were lucky that none of them failed. It is very likely that if we had used it 100-150 time it is very likely that there would have been fatalities. The Saturn V has achieved a bit of a mythical status, but it was always an experimental vehicle and never really left the test flight stage of development. Yes, we do have the blueprints to start building them again, but I do not see how that would help us because they are still largely untested vehicles.

Re:Saturn V (4, Informative)

Detritus (11846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013633)

It was hardly perfect. It was expensive and took a small army of engineers and technicians to prepare and launch. If it was magically resurrected from its blueprints, we probably couldn't afford to operate it without a massive increase in NASA's budget.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26013733)

I think your observation is correct. The way I've looked at this is macro vs micro developments. Most progress has been in the world of small. Moving large things over large distances has seen little change. Another example of missing progress would be the commercial airplanes we use. 45 years ago I flew in a Boeing 707 at 500 miles an hour and today you climb into a plane that looks much the same and flies the same speed. We definitely need the breakthroughs you mention. Compare that progress to the computer world built upon semiconductors and integrated circuits.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 5 years ago | (#26036473)

I've said it before, but it bears repeating.

A computer only concerns itself with moving signals back and forth. Cars, airplanes, and space vehicles concern themselves with moving actual matter around. The former is bound by Shannon's Law, but the actual signals can be made smaller with more sensitive electronics. Accelerating a body of mass a given amount will require a specific force, and there is no way to reduce that force.

To improve a rocket, you have to extract more energy from the fuel it carries. This is limited by the energy contained in the fuel's chemical makeup and your ability to handle said chemicals and the energy it contains.

To make a signal transmitter and reciever smaller/more energy efficient/faster, you have to improve manufacturing preciseness.

We hit the theoretical physical limits of known materials early in the space race. Barring some unknown element or catalyst being discovered, there isn't much new to be discovered, so there won't be any radical improvements.

We knew the limits of making integrated circuits smaller in the early 70's, but we couldn't image transistors that small. We've been slowly engineering manufacturing technologies to make the process more precise, and thus transistors smaller. Notice that processors haven't been doubling in speed every two years lately. We've about reached the limits of that road two, which means you'll stop seeing 'drastic' improvements in processor technology. Improvements will start to be small, incremental, and spaced much further apart.

Edison & Tesla of the 21st century (1)

Narnie (1349029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014311)

Where is the Edison of the new age? Where is the Tesla of the 21st century?

Edison and Tesla of the 21st century are tied up in the patent office trying to prove their concepts and in court rooms trying to win litigation battles with patent trolls.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (4, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015177)

Where is the Edison of the new age? Where is the Tesla of the 21st century?

Here's some people who combine Edison and Tesla in varying degrees, either through novel technologies or (more importantly) utilizing already-existing technologies more cost-effectively to try to reduce the cost of spaceflight by orders of magnitude:

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015211)

While the 20 some year old space shuttle (that was kind of funny, I mistyped it shittle the first time) ages not so gracefully, we need a replacement to move people and objects to the ISS.

Sure, but there's plenty of already-existing or under-development rockets capable of lofting people to orbit with relatively little additional work, like Lockheed Martin's Atlas V, Boeing's Delta IV Heavy, and SpaceX's Falcon 9 Heavy. Both Lockheed and SpaceX are already pursuing plans for placing manned capsules on their rockets.

It's simply absurd for NASA to spend several billion dollars on the Ares I to try to compete against what these companies already have (or will finish before the Ares I is ready). I realize retaining jobs in Space Shuttle congressional districts is all-important, but surely there must be a more productive thing for them to work on than the Ares boondoggle. NASA should, you know, actually try to push the frontiers of research and technology instead of trying to compete against commercial solutions.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015611)

but we should be pouring a lot more of our money and time into finding better sources of energy and ways to harvest them. I mean, liquid fuel rockets are like whawt, 60-70 year old technology now? Nuclear technology....60 years roughly? All these advances happened at or near the end of World War II. Computers....oh wait...that was also about 60 some years ago. Sure every technology has been advanced, but when you look at the overall progress (transistors, notwithstanding) it has all been an evolution from these earlier examples, but nothing so revolutionary as they were in the first place.

Almost NOTHING is ever revolutionary, pulled out of a void into existence. It is all the meticulous and seemingly-small refinements that make existing inventions (with little or no practical purpose) into revolutionary products.

While Thomas Edison was busy "inventing" the light BULB

, the streets outside his offices were lit with electric lights (specifically, carbon ARC lamps). And truth be told, it wasn't the light bulb that brought electric light to the world, it was the slightly later development of the florescent lights that led to the artificial illumination of the vast majority of the world.

The steam engine was around for centuries before Watt was born, and thereafter made numerous improvements to become the most practical power source for most uses for the next couple centuries.

Nuclear power was indeed a revolution... but that revolution was humanity becoming able to harness a fundamental force of nature. No amount of R&D is going to come up with a new force of nature... So, unless you've got a "gravity power" plant in the works, or an easy source of antimatter up your sleeve, don't hold your breath for fundamental breakthroughs.

As far as internal combustion engines are concerned, the next step is obvious, and available right now... The same fossil fuels we burn right now can be directly converted to electricity at extremely high efficiency in a fuel cell, finally getting us past the fundamental Carnot heat exchange limit that has been the rule for the past 3 centuries.

As far as nuclear, everybody knows about fusion, and its potential to fundamentally change the modern world. What remains is for someone like Watt to come along and figure out how to make it practical. And before you ask, yes, plenty of funding has been going towards the development of fusion, but breakthroughs are not forthcoming, and it's not just a question of throwing more money at the problem.

Still, none of this has ANYTHING to do with rocket propulsion... They're already nearly at maximum theoretical efficiency, and technology isn't going to change the equation of getting 1g of material into orbit in a self-contained craft.

What CAN make waves, however, is the less glamorous changes in kind, rather than technology. The space shuttle, for instance, is already designed to piggy-back on a Jumbo Jet... Substantial fuel savings could be offered by launching a spacecraft from high in the atmosphere, already moving at supersonic speeds, by atmosphere-bound means.

Similarly, NASA most certainly is continally funding the development of fundamental improvements to space flight, such as the infamous "space elevator" and supersonic ramjets. Still, neither is a revolution, but an incremental improvement over what we already had for decades.

Re:Still more tough times for NASA ahead..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26019245)

Let me quote Ben Rich who headed up Lockheed Skunk Works. Before his death he said:

"We already have the means to travel among the stars, but these technologies are locked up in black projects and it would take an act of God to ever get them out to benefit humanity" he also went on to say "anything you can imagine we already know how to do."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Rich [wikipedia.org]

ATTENTION MODS!! DO NOT MOD DOWN!! +5 INFORMATIVE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26012913)

I submit David Hasselhoff is the AntiChrist

And I have the proof

How can one explain the phenomenal global success of one of this country's least talented individuals? There are only three ways.

        * Mr. Hasselhoff actually is talented, but this goes unnoticed in his own country.

        * Mr. Hasselhoff has sold his soul to Satan in return for global success.

        * David Hasselhoff is the AntiChrist.

            I vote for the latter -- and perhaps, after seeing the facts involved, the rest of the world will agree.

The Facts First, the obvious. Add a little beard and a couple of horns -- David Hasselhoff looks like the Devil, doesn't he? And the letters in his name can be rearranged to spell
fad of devil's hash.

What does this mean? Well, Baywatch is David's fad. David is the devil. The Hash is what makes Knight Rider popular in Amsterdam.

(I was actually hoping to make the letters in his name spell out he is of the devil, which would be possible if his middle name was "Ethesis," which it might be. I'm sure his publicist would hide such a middle name if it were true.)

Second -- and most importantly -- David Hasselhoff and his television series were foretold in the Bible. Biblical scholars worldwide may quibble over interpretations, but they all agree on this. For a few telling examples let's skip to the end of the Bible. If any book of the Bible will tell us who the AntiChrist is, it's the Revelation of Saint John, which basically describes the AntiChrist and the Armageddon He causes. I'll just give you the verse, and the current theological interpretation of that verse.

Who is the Beast?

Rev 13:1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns The Beast, of course, is David Hasselhoff. The Heads are His separate television incarnations. Young and the Restless, Revenge of the Cheerleaders, Knight Rider, Terror at London Bridge, Ring of the Musketeers, Baywatch and Baywatch Nights.
The ten horns represent His musical releases: Crazy For You, David, David Hasselhoff, Do You Love Me?, Du, Everybody Sunshine, I Believe, Looking For Freedom, Night Lover and Night Rockers.
Not only does Mitch The Lifeguard literally "rise out of the sea" on Baywatch, but David's musical career has mostly occurred in Europe, a metaphoric rise to fame from across the sea.
Rev 13:3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. Of course, this is a reference to his third head: Knight of the Phoenix, the first episode of Knight Rider. In this episode, "Michael Long, a policeman, is shot and left for dead. The shot is deflected by a plate in his head, but ruins his face. He is saved and his face reconstructed. He is reluctant, but agrees to use K.I.T.T. to help the Foundation for Law and Government fight criminals who are 'beyond the reach of the law'. " Knight Rider has been shown in 82 countries.
Rev 13:5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. The following blasphemies are actual quotes from David Hasselhoff -- I read these while he was 42 years old.

"I'm good-looking, and I make a lot of money."

"There are many dying children out there whose last wish is to meet me."

"I'm six foot four, an all-American guy, and handsome and talented as well!"

"Before long, I'll have my own channel -- I'll be like Barney."

"(Baywatch) is responsible for a lot of world peace." which the Hoff said at the Bollywood Oscars. Don't believe me? Read the original article!

And here's a blasphemy that came from David's recent (Feb 2004) visit to the Berlin Wall museum. I couldn't have made something this great up by myself. He was upset that the museum didn't spend more time devoted to his personal role in the fall of Communism. You can read more about it here, if you don't believe me.

The Second Beast: Television

Rev 13:11-13And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,

        The Second Beast, with it's dual antennae, is obviously the Television -- merely a pawn in Hasselhoff's underworldly regime. His stereo speaker (the dragon's voice) spews forth the blasphemy of Baywatch until He has caused all people of the earth to worship and watch Baywatch and Baywatch Nights. How well has he done? Baywatch is now seen by about one billion viewers in 140 countries -- the most watched series ever.

You probably never knew this, but the entire historical purpose of television has been to attract a worldwide audience for the eventual syndication of Baywatch. And how does it accomplish this global distribution? Via satellite - from heaven to the Earth.

Rev 13:15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. How does television work? By giving life unto Hasselhoff's image. I'm pretty sure the second part hasn't happened yet.

Lifeguards: Denizens of the Underworld

These biblical revelations will show that the lifeguards on Baywatch are foretold as servants of the Devil. (Need I say who that is again?)

Rev 20:11And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them

Rev 20:13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them...

        Doesn't this sound like an exact description of what the lifeguards on Baywatch do? They sit on their big white wooden throne, and watch out over the sea -- waiting for a dying person to get cast up.
Rev 9:6 And in those days shall men seek to find death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.

        One word: CPR

Rev 10:2 And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, Sounds like a lifeguard, eh? Standing on the beach reading a paperback?

Rev 17:3-5 ...and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

    and if that wasn't enough, try
Ezekiel 23:17 And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom, and she was polluted with them, and her mind was alienated from them.

        The fabled "Whore of Babylon." Well, people have been calling Hollywood "Babylon" since long before I was making web pages. And of all the women in Hollywood, whose wedding night video is the most popular? Hmmm.... Did someone say "Barb Wire?"

Rev 18:11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more Do you know any merchants who invested heavily in the acting career of this "whore of Babylon?" I've seen that "VIP" show of hers, and I'd be weeping if I had spent money on the merchandising rights.

Rev. 18:21 ... a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea,...

        Speaking of lifeguards chucking rocks at innocent people, listen to this excerpt from a recent lawsuit against his Hasselness: "while Plaintiff was in the audience of the Rosie O'Donnell Show, Defendandt DAVID HASSELHOFF came on stage and threw a stack of cards depicting himself into the audience, striking Plaintiff in the eye. . . [he] should have known that throwing cards into an audience could cause injury to the audience."

Rev 18:14 And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all. He stands to lose money in this lawsuit -- or maybe even all those dainty and goodly things he bought.

The Number of the Beast

The Bible shows us another way to prove a person is the AntiChrist, namely through numerology. Rev 13:18 says: "Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six."

That's a bit cryptic, to be sure. One score is twenty, so threescore is 60, the number of the beast is 666.

Now, the way biblical scholars and numerologists usually convert the names of men into their numbers is through a simple numerical code. Let's assign the 26 letters of the alphabet the numbers 1 through 26. It looks like this:

a 1 i 9 q 17 y 25

b 2 j 10 r 18 z 26

c 3 k 11 s 19

d 4 l 12 t 20

e 5 m 13 u 21

f 6 n 14 v 22

g 7 o 15 w 23

h 8 p 16 x 24

Now, we take the letters from Mr. Hasselhoff's name, assign numbers to them, and calculate his number.

D A V I D H A S S E L H O F F

4 1 22 9 4 8 1 19 19 5 12 8 15 6 6

Now, since thirteen is such a fitting number for evil, let's multiply the first 13 numbers together. The total (65,874,124,800) is approximately 6.6 billion. Tack on the remaining 6's from the end of his name, and you've got yourself the mark of the beast.

Another tactic you could use would be to add the letters in "David" (I think you should get 40) and the letters in Hasselhoff (99) and then multiply them together. 40 x 99 = 3960. Now, 3960 is 660 x 6. And of course, 660 plus 6 is -- again -- the mark of the beast.

Not enough proof for you? Well, let's see what else the winning combination of the Bible and numerology have in store for David.....

As he explains it in his interview, David Hasselhoff first decided to act at the age of 7 when he saw a local production of Rumplestiltskin. His acting debut was in Peter Pan. Knight Rider ended its run in 1986, when Hasselhoff was 32. Baywatch debuted in 1989, when Hasselhoff was 35. His first televised role was as Snapper Foster on the Young and the Restless at the age of 19. If we look at the 37th chapter of the 19th book of the Bible (Psalms) -- at verses 32 and 35, we notice an interesting phenomenon. Take a look:

32. The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him.

35. I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.

Viewers of Baywatch may have thought they were watching the good leader Mitch Buchannon -- whose main job as head lifeguard is to watch over the righteous babes at the beach, and save them. According to the Bible, he is really trying to slay them. But can we be sure that the show in question is actually Baywatch? Well, count the number of letters in Rumplestiltskin and Peter Pan. 15 and 8, right? Now look at those bible verses again. Find the 15th word of verse 35 - and the 8th word from the end of verse 32. Put them together.

35. I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.
32. The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him.

Re:ATTENTION MODS!! DO NOT MOD DOWN!! +5 INFORMATI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26012975)

What? You mean it's not Xenu who'll destroy the world? I call you an SP.

"New" rocket. (2, Insightful)

Lost Penguin (636359) | more than 5 years ago | (#26012981)

1970 called, they want their technology back.
When are we getting rail gun launch systems?
Single Stage to Orbit?
Aurora?

Re:"New" rocket. (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013387)

1970 called, they want their technology back.
When are we getting rail gun launch systems?
Single Stage to Orbit?
Aurora?

1950 called, Heinlein wants his plots back. Or maybe it's that 1865 telegraphed and Jules Verne wants HIS plot [wikipedia.org] back.

Come ON you guys, this is SCIENCE FICTION. Fiction. You guys watch too many instructional videos [imdb.com] for your own good.

Rocket Science is HARD. No easy way off this planet. No pony.

Re:"New" rocket. (1)

mR.bRiGhTsId3 (1196765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013517)

We'll get a rail gun launch system when the laws of physics no longer apply. Do you want to build a 30 mile high charged tower to accelerate human occupants safely and power it?

Re:"New" rocket. (1)

lenehey (920580) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013653)

we should be focusing on a space elevator [wikipedia.org] . This is technology that is feasible, and would really open up the solar system for human habitation.

Re:"New" rocket. (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014117)

Somehow the idea of dragging a near super-conducting space elevator cable through a tropical thunder storm or hurricane seems like on with a low probability of success.

Re:"New" rocket. (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 5 years ago | (#26015439)

That's why it goes at the equator -- no tropical storms to worry about there, as those that form even near the equator will move away from the equator.

Re:"New" rocket. (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 5 years ago | (#26016629)

I'd imagine that the air convections caused by any storm within a 100 miles would easily cause static potentials in the 10-50Kv range on the cable. Also there was an experiment with the space shuttle designed to determine how much electricity would be generated by dragging a tethered satellite [iki.rssi.ru] which ended when the tether cable burned out. while a space-elevator cable wouldn't be vulnerable to the same currents, all it would take is one good CME [wikipedia.org] and its bye bye cable.

Re:"New" rocket. (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014113)

When you, the taxpayer, decide that you do want to pay the taxes to actually build those things, and you will be astute enough to vote the right people in to ensure that your tax dollars go to education and research, and not to wars that noone can win!

Re:"New" rocket. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014653)

Most voters are only taxpayers in a nominal sort of way. If you pretend that entitlement program taxes aren't really taxes, the skew is even worse.

NASA is trying a new approach... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26012991)

...which is almost exactly opposite the approach that has caused problems with the vehicles of the past.

Verifying Analysis Tools (1)

amori (1424659) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013033)

"the flight of Ares I-X will be an important step toward verifying analysis tools and techniques needed to further develop Ares I, NASA's next launch vehicle." A prototype I see. Makes sense. It's not an easy task to model and compute everything given the state of supercomputers. Helps to know some old school validation still works.

Helium-3 Harvesting? (1)

1336 (898588) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013059)

"The space agency is offering about $1 million grants under the Ralph Steckler/Space Grant Space Colonization Research and Technology Development program that has been established to help support a broad range of human activity in space that, for the most part, is not reliant on Earth's resources NASA said."

I wonder if that will include harvesting lunar Helium-3 for fusion research...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium-3 [wikipedia.org]

pieces coming togethr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26013481)

Pieces Coming Together For NASA's New Spacecraft

lets hope they stay together this time

Sid Meier (2, Funny)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013485)

Sid would be pleased. Once NASA assembles all of the pieces of the spacecraft we'll win a space race victory.

Just gotta get our scientific advances in Lasers sorted out to build the party deck.

Space Race Victory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26018769)

Has just been handed to the Russians last week:
http://rescommunis.wordpress.com/2008/12/03/nasa-extends-contract-with-russia-for-iss-transportation/

Too bad Obama is cancelling it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26013669)

Too bad, Obama is cancelling the Ares and new crew vehicle project "in these troubled times." Hope the russians keep building those Soyuz things.

When I read the blurb I thought... (1)

rnturn (11092) | more than 5 years ago | (#26013829)

``... those computers will have their work checked the old-fashioned way ...''

Oh, does that mean the NASA engineers still have their old slide rules in a drawer somewhere? Or that they'll hire a bunch of people to sit at rows of desks doing calculations by hand?

(Fortunately, the article was a little more informative.)

Re:When I read the blurb I thought... (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 5 years ago | (#26014183)

Oh they wouldn't use those old crusty slide-rules, they'd need modern slide-rules made out of carbon-fiber reinforced composite materials, with laser etched makings and a sapphire crystal slider; oh yeah don't forget one version in metric and one in English measure and an instruction Manual in English, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Chinese and Russian!

slide rules Re:When I read the blurb I thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26015383)

Better hope they've got slide rules in the desk drawer (I do).. you can't buy new ones any more, nobody makes them. When the power fails, and you need to calculate by candle light, the slide rule keeps on going, and it's a lot lighter weight than the CRC math table book, and easier than Napier's bones.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26014133)

Am I the only one wondering why they don't use what they already have? They have spent untold billions on the shuttle program and they know it works. Why not take the existing shuttle plans and work on a on a new version using new technology? You already know where the major issues are from launch to landing so see if new tech can help eliminate them. You'd have to be able to reduce the weight of the thing at the very least - just by using new computer systems and using composite materials. I'm all for taking a fresh approach to things because I think that's where you get novel ideas, I also think you can take the same approach in a more limited fashion with ideas that have been proven to work. Why cram astronauts into a small pod when they could cruise aboard the shuttle? Imagine how much stuff they could take with them on just one mission. While I think a heavy lift rocket system is useful and needed for support purposes I think abandoning shuttle technology for manned missions is a step in the wrong direction.

What the fuck is a "software program"? (1)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 5 years ago | (#26020007)

Is it somehow different from a software tricycle or a software bikini wax?

"Software program" is redundant and the sign of a journalist with his head up his ass.

Private Sector. (1)

terryjamesduffy (1427281) | more than 5 years ago | (#26056497)

They should just sub-contact to thoes people already building the newest spaceplane system.
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