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NASA Moon Launch May Be Delayed After 2020

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the underpromise-vs.-underdeliver dept.

NASA 261

krou writes "The Guardian is reporting that NASA is quietly revising its internal estimates of a 2018 launch for its Ares V rocket. Although publicly the date given for the launch was 2020, the internal launch date was set for 2018. The shift in dates seems to be linked to 'growing budget woes,' and 'engineers say that means the public 2020 date to send humans back to the moon is in deepening trouble.' NASA administrator Mike Griffin blamed the White House, and the previous Bush administration, saying funding for Ares V and other projects fell from $4bn through 2015 to just $500m. 'This was to be allocated to early work on the Ares V heavy-lifter, and the Altair lunar lander. With only a half-billion dollars now available, this work cannot be done.'"

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Hmm. (4, Funny)

Sillygates (967271) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697267)

Maybe, this time, we will make it to the moon!

Re:Hmm. (4, Funny)

nschubach (922175) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697279)

I'm still trying to figure out how and where they are launching the Moon... ;)

Shhhhh!! Don't tell anyone, but... (4, Funny)

rts008 (812749) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697443)

From a secret launch site in the Florida Everglades, with a really big trebuchet. They are rounding up alligators as we speak, to fill the counterweight basket. It's gonna take a lot of gators!

Re:Shhhhh!! Don't tell anyone, but... (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697731)

From a secret launch site in the Florida Everglades, with a really big trebuchet. They are rounding up alligators as we speak, to fill the counterweight basket. It's gonna take a lot of gators!

It'll only take 1/6th as many alligators as you'd normally need though.

Re:Hmm. (3, Funny)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697699)

That's no Moon!

If we cared enough to make the hard choice (2, Funny)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697721)

If we were willing to spend the money, to dare the risk, America might one day find she has what it takes to get an American to the moon and return safely. What lessons we must learn from that mission: the physics, the materials science, the computer and communications technology might drive a surge in American eminence in science and engineering. Yes, it is not easy. We should go to the moon and do these other things not because it is easy but because it is hard. It is an opportunity to prove that we have the grit, the intelligence and the skill that others do not, and we'll reap the benefit of taking that journey for a generation.

Or maybe we could just get ILM to do it in CGI and save budget. Is Bruce Willis available? Think of the product placement opportunities!

/Co-channeling JFK and Spielberg.

Re:If we cared enough to make the hard choice (2, Funny)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698163)

We choose to go to the Moon not because it is easy,
but because we might get there someday if we have extra money left over from the meetings, all those Earth-navel-watching things, and paying companies to invent stuff that they can sell. Yeah, we'll get there someday.

You know, if we can send a man to the Moon, maybe we can send a man to the Moon.

Re:If we cared enough to make the hard choice (0, Troll)

tsa (15680) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698167)

I hardly dare think about how long it would take, how much it will cost and how it will be organized eventually when Europe decides to go to the moon. Look at the way the Airbus A380 is built...

May I be the first to say (5, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697277)

Re:May I be the first to say (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27697395)

I thought you were going to say something like:

"The answer to your question? Hindsight is 2020. The moon launch is 2023."

Why does NASA suck so much? (4, Insightful)

schnell (163007) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697641)

This sounds like flamebait but I swear it's not. I would love to hear someone knowledgeable explain to me why (at least as it seems to a layman like myself) NASA did amazing things for so long then hasn't done anything to capture the public's imagination for decades. I understand how massive the funding was in their heyday, but every other technology sector seems to do more with less over time - is NASA's mission just impossible to accomplish for less than 3% of GDP? Or did they hire worse and worse recruits over time? Or did the wrong people get put in charge? Or does this stuff just get harder to do?

This has baffled and saddened me for years. I really do want to hear an answer from someone who has some insight...

Re:Why does NASA suck so much? (0, Troll)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697817)

Or did the wrong people get put in charge?

Yes, Jimmy Carter.

Re:Why does NASA suck so much? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697839)

I think it's largely the natural progression of technology. When you break into a new field, discoveries come fast and furious for a while, then they tend to become less significant. Look at medicine, for instance... you start off discovering penicillin, how to fill cavities... things that save millions of lives and drastically extend life expectancy. Now thousands of devoted professionals spend their lives looking for treatments, and there are innumerable small discoveries but few breakthroughs. Aerospace was the same way. From Kittyhawk to the moon in just 70 years. Nobody would have guessed in 1969 that commercial airliners would still look exactly the same 40 years later.

Re:Why does NASA suck so much? (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697903)

> Nobody would have guessed in 1969 that commercial airliners would still look exactly the same 40 years later.

And they will look exactly the same in another 40 years. Minor cosmetics and incremental differences in size not withstanding.

Airplanes look the way they do because that is how something needs to look to do the job it does at the price we are willing to pay.

Oh, I know, some people still think moon rockets would not look so much like like a phallus if they were designed by women.

But Horatio Greenough had it right. Form follows function.

Re:Why does NASA suck so much? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27697921)

But going to the moon AGAIN isn't a new breakthrough. That would be like discovering penicillin, saving a million people, and then 50 years later not being able to make penicillin again.

NASA, as currently directed, just sucks.

Re:Why does NASA suck so much? (5, Insightful)

Allicorn (175921) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697929)

It's the public's imagination that's at fault if that really is the case. NASA continues to do spectacular, amazing things.

The NASA current missions page:
http://www.nasa.gov/missions/current/ [nasa.gov]

Does the Cassini-Huygens mission do nothing for you?
That Hubble Telescope doodad not honking your horn?
Spirit and Opportunity are things that make you go "meh"?

If you (or rather some notional "member of the public") would rather be watching tonight's new episode of "The Apprentice" than reading about one of these missions, then where does the lack of vision lie?

Re:Why does NASA suck so much? (1)

PapayaSF (721268) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698131)

All bureaucracies tend to become less efficient over time: see the Peter Principle [wikipedia.org] , Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy [jerrypournelle.com] , Parkinson's Law [wikipedia.org] , etc. They grow sclerotic with timeservers and brownnosers, work more for themselves and less for their supposed goals, and the highest-quality employees retire or leave for greener pastures. And if you are more or less a government-authorized monopoly you don't worry much about the competition.

Here's how I'd get back to the Moon: 1) Give Burt Rutan $10 billion. 2) Tell him to get us back to the Moon. 3) Stand back.

Re:Why does NASA suck so much? (1)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698195)

Burt Rutan needs (and probably wants) to get his $10B from someone other than the government.

the rest of the world should chip in (-1, Troll)

meow27 (1526173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697301)

China Russia and Iran are supposedly stealing all of our secrets and technologies, why should the US be funding all of this if the rest of the world gets it free of charge(via theft)?

Re:the rest of the world should chip in (3, Funny)

ElSupreme (1217088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697369)

For the last time it isn't theft. It's copyright infringement.

Well... (2, Insightful)

mc1138 (718275) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697335)

I'd rather dates get pushed back a bit, and we do this right, than go off half assed and mess up. The moon isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and as much as I love the idea of space exploration, and think it is the single greatest thing we can do as a race, I think we also need to look to our own backyard and clean that up as well.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27697431)

Nah, we can just trash the backyard and move to another planet and do the same. But until that's possible, can we please stop killing everything with pollution?

Re:Well... (2, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697519)

I'd rather dates get pushed back a bit, and we do this right, than go off half assed and mess up.

Forty years ago we managed to do it in eight years from the time Kennedy called for it. Including designing the Saturn V pretty much from scratch.

Now, we won't be able to manage it in twelve-plus years, even using as many off-the-shelf components as possible.

Which is really kind of pathetic.

Re:Well... (2, Insightful)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697661)

Cheap, fast, and reliable. Pick two—and reliable is a required option, meaning we can either get to the moon cheap or fast. In the 1960s they picked fast; this time we went for cheap.

But hey, Congress has corporate bailouts, Social Security, and national healthcare to pay for instead of useful projects. *rolls eyes*

Not exactly "From Scratch" (5, Informative)

gbutler69 (910166) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697689)

There was a MASSIVE infusion of technology and expertise from German Scientists that had been working on the "Rocket Problem" since the '30's. Also, there was significant military research in the U.S. before, during, and after WWII as well.

Re:Not exactly "From Scratch" (1)

Hucko (998827) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698089)

and it didn't help that Wilson died...

Re:Well... (4, Informative)

frieko (855745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697729)

It comes down to money. Adjusted for inflation the 60's NASA budget was double or triple today's. And Gemini/Apollo was basically all they were working on. Of course, it was all just a fraction of the cost of an Iraq war or a bailout.

In a nutshell, this SUX (3, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697353)

If you ask me, We should have focused on Ares V and Orien first. We could have use EELV for human launch and later develop the Ares I.

FOLLOW ON (2, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697389)

just thinking about this. Musk wanted to figure out a way to fund a monster rocket. My guess is that if Falcon 9 and heavy are successful, he will get his chance. The reason is that congress will probably want to kill all funding for Ares V. It is possible that Direct will get a chance, but I do not think so. The reason is that it will be the same set of ppl and companies that did Constellation. As such, I could easily see Congress saying enough is enough.

Focus? The focus doesn't matter. (4, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697915)

In 1961 the Apollo program [wikipedia.org] was founded when US President John F. Kennedy announced a goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the decade. On July 20, 1969 it was accomplished when Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. It took eight years. I was four years old at the time they landed. I watched breathlessly each launch, each landing, and all the reports in between. I actually recall trying to convince some of the adults in my life the significance of these events. The Moon! That ball in the sky! Men are walking on it! I failed miserably. I lived in Watts at the time. They didn't care then and they don't care now.

It had never been done before. Practically none of the necessary materials science, engineering and physics were even understood at the time. They performed orbital vector calulations sometimes using computers, and sometimes using banks of people operating calculators.

40 years later we carry computers in our pocket that have more power than all the computers in the world at that time. Our cars have better navigational equipment. It has been done before. The problem has been solved - we've done it many times. The physics, mechanics and materials are well understood. But now we can't figure out a way to do this again in under a decade. It's over. We're officially sliding into decay.

Now I point to that ball in the sky for my son [bayqongyr.com] who's five, and I say "That ball in the sky! We knew how to get there once. My parents did it, but we forgot how when I grew up. If you study hard - if you really want it - you might go there too." And then we point the telescope at Mars.

/And it's Orion. Try and spell it write, ok?

Re:Focus? The focus doesn't matter. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698023)

First, I was 10. I remember Apollo 1. Second, My parents were INTO this and pushed me. Third, my 5 y.o. knows the planets, and can tell the difference between Mars and Moon via pics. Fourth, my 2 y.o knows some of the planets. And finally, spelling can go to hell when putting a 2 y.o. to bed who is too tired and very fussy.

Re:Focus? The focus doesn't matter. (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698101)

My posting suffers too when the littles want to bang on the keyboard. I understand that.

I was actually just using your post as a launching point for my own rant because it was neutral, short, and properly positioned. I barely read it. I'm sorry if I came off as too critical. Try not to take my post as a personal thing, because I really was being a bad person and not replying to the thread at all.

But it's beautiful prose, isn't it? C'mon - read it again.

Re:Focus? The focus doesn't matter. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27698199)

In the late 40's Arthur C Clark was writing stories about the British going to the moon. He thought that Britain was still enough of a superpower to be able to do it. Nowadays, we look back at his writings and say 'You've got to be dreaming. Britain is too poor to afford anything like that.'

I venture to say that in about 40 years time we will look back to NASA's pronouncements about going back to the moon (much less going to Mars) and we'll say 'You've got to be dreaming. The US is too poor to be able to afford anything like that."

Re:In a nutshell, this SUX (2, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697931)

Rockets are so 60's.

Its time to break out of that sandbox and fly into space like pilots instead of spam in a can.

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

Re:In a nutshell, this SUX (2, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698007)

And the WK2 gets you how far? What takes you up to leo? Only rockets.

I know nothing about this subject. (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698215)

I agree with this post in every particular. I have no insight to add. The detail is outside the scope of my experience and training.

Due to economic realities.... (2, Insightful)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697363)

As more people want things at home, mission to moon and the entire manned space programme shall be delayed indefinitely.

Once the shuttles are retired, I have my doubts whether the entire manned program doesn't get canned.

Re:Due to economic realities.... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697577)

Any manned government mission. There is no doubt that Virgin Galactic and other similar companies will start doing things reminiscent of the golden days of NASA as soon as they can produce a few flyable spacecraft. It is rare to have government-based research that does anything that starts the flame for a better, cheaper, more effective version by a few competing private firms.

Re:Due to economic realities.... (2, Funny)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697891)

It is rare to have government-based research that does anything that starts the flame for a better, cheaper, more effective version by a few competing private firms.

That's why I'm holding off on this Internet thing... my capitalist bible says GEnie Online and CompuServe will crush it any day now.

Re:Due to economic realities.... (5, Insightful)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697663)

As more people want things at home, mission to moon and the entire manned space programme shall be delayed indefinitely.

Once the shuttles are retired, I have my doubts whether the entire manned program doesn't get canned.

Makes for a sort of depressing answer to the Fermi Paradox. Why haven't the thousands of advanced species conquered the universe yet? Oh, they will. It's just not practical right now. Maybe during the next budget period they can establish a group to consider returning to space. It'll happen eventually. They've been meaning to do another manned orbital mission for the last few thousand years. They'll get to it as soon as some immediate priorities are sorted out.

Re:Due to economic realities.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27697827)

One could also argue that a space race (US vs. China, for example) would be one heckuva stimulus package, much better than spending equivalent money on pork barrel projects because 1) it would foster technological and manufacturing innovation; and 2) it gives entrepreneurs a robust long-term target, as opposed to lots of one- and two-year earmark type programs. Not to mention that it would encourage lots of kids to pursue scientific careers.

Reagan's "Star Wars" defense buildup helped blast the US out of the deep 1981-82 recession, although admittedly there is still plenty of debate about whether that was a good idea or not.

(Big) Business as Usual (2, Insightful)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697391)

Planning a project and then cutting the budget is a common tactic used to divert more of the work and cash to contractors. In this case the intention was to cut the booster program and use already available hardware such as the Delta Heavy instead. This sort of behavior was an epidemic during the previous administration, but the present one showed signs of staying the course. Not long ago Obama was (mis)quoted as saying that possibly we should use available "military" hardware. The misquote, or possibly misstatement on his part, was in the fact the the hardware is used by the military, but comes from civilian sources that already supply the same to NASA.

Re:(Big) Business as Usual (0, Offtopic)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698041)

It's gratifying to know that /. allows people with no background in the subject matter and no understanding of the classifications in mods to have an editorial voice in moderating, as well as giving them the freedom to not pay attention to the guidelines and definitions in "Moderation Help".

A troll is a false statement. What I said about both the administrations as well as the incestuous relationships between governance, agencies and business are a matter of public record. Several stories regarding NASA with just this plot line are included in the single most complete independent web site covering space program history, Encyclopedia Astronautica http://www.astronautix.com/ [astronautix.com] The statements I made are echoes of project managers and staff from axed programs over the last half century quoted in books, articles and personal interviews. There is no shortage of them because there are far more axed programs than successful ones. To support my assertions, look up the proposals NASA rejected for what has become the Constellation system and Ares launcher -- the early proposals from BigAero were based on existing or planned boosters such as upgraded Delta and Atlas.

So America has given up? (5, Insightful)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697429)

So America has given up on the space race, huh?

I guess it's up to China and India now.

Re:So America has given up? (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697459)

Only one nation can win the race because there is only water ice in one place on the moon and he who gets their first wins.

Re:So America has given up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27697979)

Wrong. He who gets there with the biggest guns wins. Let the chinese and indians spend all their money getting there first. We then steal their technology, build a bigger fucking gun, and take what we want.

Re:So America has given up? (1)

Entropy2016 (751922) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697505)

Uh, hopefully this isn't news or anything, but well, we already won that race. Several decades ago. When the available technology was crappier. In fact, we went more than once, so we've lapped them multiple times.

Frankly, I think NASA's better off moving on to one of the next two big space-race checkpoints:
1) Mars (I'm sorta "meh" about that one).
2) Find a way to clean up all of our orbital debris. (While not glamorous, this is going to be a prerequisite for us becoming a space-faring species).

Re:So America has given up? (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697833)

3) Somehow related to (2). Dust off those ol' Reagan papers and make a DeathStar. Make it dispose of debris efficiently by lasers (might be more pieces to float though) or grab them to feed what's in its internal trash compactor (sans Solo, Skywalker, and Leia).

Also, shoot at anything/anyone determined to beat the U S of A at the space race, but maybe that's just me.

So America has given up? Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27697939)

We thought we won it, then we scrapped all the equipment we won it with. Now China will repeat what we did, cheaper, before we're able to.

Re:So America has given up? (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697989)

Nah, bullshit to that. America got there a few times, then turned tail and gave up. If you can't get to the moon till 2020, what makes you think you have a chance in hell of getting to Mars?

Seriously. China's already got better technology, and India's not far behind.

Re:So America has given up? (4, Interesting)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698001)

It is? The Chinese would need to multiply their space budget 34 times, and India would have to multiply their budget by 13 times to match ours. Even if you don't include our military space budget, which is larger than the NASA budget, we have a larger budget for space exploration than every other country on the face of the earth combined. We should stop spending, entirely, until other countries have a chance to catch up. There is no need for the American taxpayers to subsidize their substandard space programs any more than we already have.

I call bullshit (5, Funny)

Seriousity (1441391) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697433)

NASA administrator Mike Griffin blamed the White House, and the previous Bush administration, saying funding for Ares V and other projects fell from $4bn through 2015 to just $500m.

Okay, the cost of the entire Apollo program was $25.4 billion dollars. That's 25,400,000,000 1969 dollars - about $135 billion in today's dollars. So why is it so much cheaper this time around?

I put it down to the fact that technology has advanced quite a lot since 1969* - The film industry in particular, if you're making a movie there's a heck of a lot more you can do with that kind of money than you could have in 1969.
-
*Disclaimer: All sly remarks on the redundancy of this sentence being used on slashdot are hereby inherently redundant.

Re:I call bullshit (2, Insightful)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697677)

It's cheaper because we're spending money over a longer time; there's not so much a "race" aspect this time.

Re:I call bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27697951)

I saw the three members of the Apollo 8 mission at UT's LBJ library tonight for a great talk on Apollo, Gemini, and towards the end future moon shots. They kept going back to how "stimulative" the Cold War was for the space program. Frank said he was in the program basically to whup the Russians.

In the 60's the government found and spent $25b mainly to accomplish goals that simply aren't present today. The political and economic will was present in a way that it simply isn't (and possibly cannot be) now.

Re:I call baloney (2, Interesting)

samcan (1349105) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698073)

But in 1969, we were in an arms race with the Soviet Union at the time, so we not only spent a gazillion dollars on nuclear missiles, we also managed to get to the Moon?

Either we need to pay more taxes, or we need a more efficient use of our money.

Can't we do ANYTHING anymore? (5, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697447)

We went from having no rocket program of any kind in 1945, to deciding to put a man on the moon in 1960, to actually doing it in 1969. Now, we decide we want to go to go back, and can't make any progress at all.

Our national labs are filled with nothing but bureaucracy and useless political management. There's no sense of urgency, there's no focused direction.

Seriously, we can't do in 20 years today what we did in 10 half a century ago? Come on. This shit's just sad.

Iraq? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27697521)

Bringing a semblance of a Republic to a nation of 25 million is more impressive than putting a man on the moon in my opinion. Of course, there has been big mismanagement and could have been done faster and for less, but that could be said of almost all government projects.

I don't give s*** about the Iraqis and would much rather have the >$1 trillion. I don't know how the rest of the US feels about that...

Re:Can't we do ANYTHING anymore? (3, Insightful)

bronney (638318) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697557)

It's not just that, if we compare ourselves to our parents, and to our grandparents, you'll see that the more you go back in time, the more things get done.

It is "this" generation that is uberly educated, creative, analytical, that is doomed to procrastination, and nothing ever gets done. I love to be in it.

Re:Can't we do ANYTHING anymore? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27697735)

We went from having no rocket program of any kind in 1945, to deciding to put a man on the moon in 1960, to actually doing it in 1969. Now, we decide we want to go to go back, and can't make any progress at all.

Our national labs are filled with nothing but bureaucracy and useless political management. There's no sense of urgency, there's no focused direction.

Seriously, we can't do in 20 years today what we did in 10 half a century ago? Come on. This shit's just sad.

In 1945 you went from having no rocket program to having the German rocket program packed up and shipped back to America. Maybe that's why you can't make progress anymore, all the scientists from countries you invaded are dead. If only Iraq really had WMDs eh, you could've had their scientists and knocked together another "American" scientific landmark.

Re:Can't we do ANYTHING anymore? (5, Informative)

iamangry (1463943) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697753)

Give NASA the amount of money the morons in Congress gave AIG over the last year and they'd get you to the moon next week sometime.

Seriously... the formerly private company got over 10 times as much money as NASA did.

Finance... it isn't rocket science. Ares V... well it is.

Risk averse culture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27697815)

How many died so that we (and the Russians) could do that?

Look at how much the loss of Columbia set back the shuttle program. The public have forgotten that every space shot involves strapping frail humans to a few thousand tons of explosives and lighting the fuse. People sue when their kid falls over in the mall and gets a scratched knee.

If they said "fuck the safety" I am sure they could have something as safe as the 60's-70's space program ready to go in 2-3 years.

Re:Risk averse culture (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698019)

Weren't the shuttle accidents caused by long-term damage associated with maintenance and aging of a system that wasnt intended to last as long as it has? If you asked any of the original designers back then, i doubt they would have expected their work to still be used today.

Re:Can't we do ANYTHING anymore? (1)

Howitzer86 (964585) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697961)

The urgency died along with the Soviet Union.

Re:Can't we do ANYTHING anymore? (5, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698039)

The brave men who went up in 1969 had no idea whether they would even get there let alone whether they would get home. There was no record, no experience. There were over a thousand volunteers. They went and they came back, some of them several times. I don't doubt offered a return trip they would to a man abandon all that they hold dear without hesitation to blast off for far horizons.

A colony on the moon plus a colony on Mars plus self-sufficient habitats in Earth orbit and a pair of L5 orbits all together would cost less than TARP, the auto bailout and the Fed's increased balance sheet - and would pay better returns. If we gave a damn about the survival of the human race we'd have insured it by now.

Americans were once better Men.

But the good news is that the US Justice department is now a RIAA wholly owned subsidiary.

Why so long? (5, Insightful)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697479)

From the time JFK announced his challenge to go to the moon it took us eight years to actually do it. Now we have all the technology from all of our space research for the past 40 years, we have five years sunk into the current plan to return, and they are saying they can't finish it in another nine years? This is the fruit of our lousy political and education systems!

Re:Why so long? (4, Insightful)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697533)

funding for Ares V and other projects fell from $4bn through 2015 to just $500m

In other words, the amount cut from the NASA budget for the next six years is about the amount spent on the Iraq war every two weeks.

U-S-A! U-S-A!

Or the amount allocated to stimulus every two days (1)

xmark (177899) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698149)

or the amount paid in interest alone on the national debt every four days (although that amount is on its way up very soon).

We each have a different lens through which to observe the expenditures of government. Personally, I'd rather see space money increased, and re-allocated toward unmanned probes and robotics. Extraordinarily more bang for the buck...but less emotionally satisfying for some. Either way, I prefer spending money learning about black holes than pouring it into black holes.

Take a look at the stimulus bill broken out by line and I'll bet you can find a dozen ways some of that money could be better "re-purposed" toward creating and maintaining high-quality aerospace jobs building spaceships, probes, and engineering infrastructure.

http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=pV-c6t5fOVmNorqMpHvnCMw [google.com]

First rule of Engineering: (1)

shbazjinkens (776313) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697603)

Good Fast Cheap (Pick two)

Re:Why so long? (2, Informative)

j-stroy (640921) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697695)

Nowadays, seemingly its all about optimization and minimums through re-inventing... The taste of the dev plan for ARES seems thin. Regardless of specifics, The Jupiter Direct [youtube.com] plan has a more likable production dynamic as far risk management on the deliverables. IANARS

Re:Why so long? (5, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697889)

This is the fruit of our lousy political and education systems!

No. This is the fruit of our new Project Management philosophies.

Last time they did this, they asked the engineers "hey, how do you want to build a big rocket?" The engineers answered "strap five of those smaller engines together, and we'll be good to go."

Now it seems like they have to put together a project plan to create each and every nut, bolt and washer. Then they have to have a nut, bolt and washer design document inspection. Don't forget they have to invite the nut, bolt and washer quality control team to the nut, bolt and washer design document inspection. Then they have to create the nut, bolt and washer master test plan. And they have to have another document inspection of the nut, bolt and washer master test plan. ...

I could go on and on about nuts, bolts and washers, but I'm bored typing all this project management crap already, and it's only been one paragraph. Repeat this process for three million parts, and 20 years seems like a bargain.

Re:Why so long? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697907)

Did you really expect any different when Bush announced the goal? The problem is it was a political goal, intended to make Bush look good. There was no real scientific motivation behind it. Do you think Bush went to Nasa and said, "Look, I want to know what projects we can have that will push science forward the most." No, of course not. He sat there in his office and then decided, "Let's do it. We haven't been in a long time." That's just not a good enough reason to go.

If we had focus, and decided it's what we wanted to do, we could go to Mars. No doubt about it. It's just that most people don't really see a reason.

It was all a lie. (4, Insightful)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697545)

For all its grand announcements and associated fanfare the United States government has no intention of going back to the moon. The reason. There are no people, that is no eligible voters on the moon, so there is not point in going there.

However, China does not care whether there are possible eligible voters there or not they just want the high ground. So they will go.

Mike Griffin's Fault (4, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697609)

First off, Griffin isn't NASA Administrator anymore, since Obama accepted his resignation as Obama was being inaugurated.

Next up, I don't notice Griffin taking any responsibility himself for leaving NASA in disarray after years running it. Even though he messed up its budget [wikipedia.org] . Yes, Bush deserves blame for messing up NASA, including by putting a CIA Star Wars hack in charge of it, who wasted our time suppressing climate change research results. But Griffin doesn't have any standing to criticize anyone else until he owns up to his own bad work setting back our space program, now apparently by decades.

They should have destroyed the world economy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27697637)

Then they'd get a $3 trillion bailout like Wall Street did.

Time (5, Funny)

lord_sarpedon (917201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697653)

Look, guys. Got to face this sometime.

America just isn't as young as it used to be.

Forty years ago? Sure. We could get a rocket up, in little time at all. And though we'll certainly never forget that first time - we were ready to go again just a few short years later.

But face the facts, people. The country isn't a spry 193 anymore. Let's just have hope that NASA is trying its best, Although its worrisome that the launch date doesn't seem very firm, just keep in mind - nothing would be worse than a premature launch.

We don't intend to disappoint.

Re:Time (1)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697935)

Fortunately, this is the 21st century, and we now have modern science to thank for assistance in that area. If NASA opts for the "blue capsule" approach, we should be able to set a hard date that will last long enough to satisfy the entire scientific community.

If we, the people had a vote... (3, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697683)

If we had a vote between spending whatever was needed to get to the moon again and bailing out another banker, I'll bet we'd vote to go to the moon. At least then we'd see some results from the spending.

perhaps it's time... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697701)

...for a privately funded moon shot.

Re:perhaps it's time... (1)

j-stroy (640921) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697713)

thank you for saying that

lol, 1/2 Billion seems like a fortune still (1)

jamessnell (857336) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697703)

Well I completely completely sympathise for NASA having difficulties with the gov't - I think for $0.5B, I could get a gang together to pull all this off.. lol - of course, NASA probably has a lot of that money allocated to non-Aries, etc related projects, perhaps such as maintenance

Re:lol, 1/2 Billion seems like a fortune still (1)

Seriousity (1441391) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697895)

Well I think for $0.5B, I could get a gang together to pull all this off.. lol

Excellent, and then you can use the spare change to transform the poverty of third-world countries into the sheer elegance of the western world!

Re:lol, 1/2 Billion seems like a fortune still (1)

jamessnell (857336) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697917)

Hah, as if that'd be allowed. All those victimised people are what helps produce the disparities that let war-driven economies emulate thriving.

Private mon landing (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697725)

WE may see a private enterprise moon landing before NASA can be bothered to go back.

What... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27697727)

What the HELL is taking so long?

G1 USA. (3, Insightful)

M0b1u5 (569472) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697747)

When these things are delayed, the true cost escalate massively.

It's mind boggling to me that Obama is shit-eating happy to hemorrhage 2 Billion a week at Iraqistan, for nothing and no one, but the space program gets fucked up the ass.

This isn't about going to the moon at all: it's about retaining the expertise that America paid dearly for in the 60s! The huge sums invested (yes, "invested") in the space program kept US aeronautics and engineering at the top of the world for 50 years.

But now the Euros make better planes, and US engineering is being rapidly eclipsed.

As expertise is lost, so the budgets escalate, and the delays get bigger, further escalating costs.

Pretty soon the USA is an "also ran" in space, and shortly thereafter it becomes an "also ran" on Earth. The writing is on the wall: only massive investment in science, technology and expertise can save the USA from utter collapse under the weight if 53 trillion dollars in entitlements.

While space investment (under NASAs most specific commission - to provide all their data to any US firm) return well in excess of a dollar for every dollar invested, there are a couple of things that the USA simply MUST do in order to avoid total melt down.

1) Don't start any more wars, and finish the ones you got going on now.

2) Invest heavily in space technology

3) Secure the supply of energy to the world for the entire future.

Number 3 can be achieved by singlehandedly getting Fusion power tamed. I'm not talking about that ridiculous ITER thing - because the only thing which will come from that fiasco is a pile of Ph.D.s about 10 metres tall - and most of them won't be 'merkin Ph.D.s!

No, the small-scale, tiny fusion efforts like Focus Fusion and Bussard's Polywell reactor - if practical will yield results for sums under a billion - while the potential payoff is measured in the hundreds of trillions of dollars in this century.

It'll be done... (2, Funny)

Landshark17 (807664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697779)

It'll be done when they can play Duke Nukem Forever on it.

Billions of Dollars !?! (2, Interesting)

j741 (788258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697785)

If it really costs 4 billion dollars to put a man on the moon, is it worth it? What resources can be economically gained from going to the moon? Is the moon made of pure Gold? If so, the shuttle's 22,700Kg cargo capacity full of pure, refined, 24 karat gold 22 would need to have a value of $1,762.12 per gram in order to make the trip economically break even. With today's gold value somewhere under $100 per gram, and the fact that the moon is not made of refined 14 karat gold, I think it will be a long time before a trip to the moon is economically viable at a cost of 4 billion dollars. ;)

Re:Billions of Dollars !?! (1)

saiha (665337) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697965)

Its abosolutely worth it. You are looking at pure mineral gains from the moon itself when a lot of the real gains could come from asteroids or further celestial bodies. 4 billion dollars is absolutely nothing at the moment so it would be a perfect time to invest in creating a base of operations on the moon.

I haven't, and am not prepared to do the calculations but i would guess that fuel costs alone would cover any operation we make to set of a secondary stage (the first being earth) on the moon to recover all costs within 50 years.

In addition we wouldn't use the shuttle for mining operation, well at least no earth -> wherever. We could transport the mining "ships" in bulk with cheap unmanned rockets and the crew in bulk with more expensive and safe rockets. The crew would then take the mining ships to wherever and gather the minerals, bring them to another launch point on the moon and send them unmanned back to earth.

Re:Billions of Dollars !?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27698147)

sounds more viable than giving 700 billion to a bunch of Wall Street assholes...

Re:Billions of Dollars !?! (1)

myrdos2 (989497) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698171)

The moon is abundant in Helium 3. If we had fusion generators, a single shuttle load of helium 3 could supply the entire energy demands of the US for an entire year. Helium 3 is incredibly rare on Earth. Maybe in 50-75 years, we'll have a working fusion generator that can take advantage of it. In the meantime, it makes sense

One of many sources: http://www.wired.com/science/space/news/2006/12/72276 [wired.com]

Re:Billions of Dollars !?! (1)

myrdos2 (989497) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698191)

...it makes sense to ensure we have the capability to harvest it.

Never post while dead tired.

It should only take 2 years max (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27697857)

Why can't we just dust off the rocket we have and make it run again. Surely it can't be that hard. We did it the first time on computing power that is a fraction of a 486. Wal Mart still runs a lot of their operations on 1970's technology. Why are we re inventing the wheel ???

Re:It should only take 2 years max (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27697913)

SO, Let me get this straight. We can reverse engineer an alien spacecraft that landed here in 1947 and get technology like transistors from it, but we can't even reverse engineer a space craft the WE built to go to the moon. Something does not add up here.......

Let me be the first (0, Flamebait)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697987)

To thank the scumbags in the Bush administration and the cadre of Wall Street sycophants in Congress who've leveraged our futures to bankrupt the American nation so that I will not live to see humans walk on the Moon again in my lifetime.

NASA Needs to Die.... (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698027)

Don't get me wrong, NASA has done an absolute wonderful job in helping move mankind into the stars thus far. From their original moon landing missions to the continued effort to probe space via advanced optics platforms and missions to other planets, it has been a wonderful help in getting mankind past the boundaries of its own planet.

Nonetheless, keeping a space program under the thumb of the U.S. federal government is doing little more than holding back the field at this point. When space programs (and technology) were just starting to blossom, it was important to monitor them due to their potential military uses as well as the safety issues involved in working with such experimental technology.

Nowadays, however, companies such as SpaceX, Bigelow Aerospace, Blue Origin, and a plethora of others are showing that space exploration is capable as a commercial entity (granted, none of these organizations are sending probes past Earth orbit yet, but the potential is there). That being said, there is very little reason to continue to spend federal money on an entire space program. NASA employs some of the most intelligent and capable people in this industry. They have a plethora legacy and in-house knowledge that could benefit the public sector endlessly. It seems that, at this point, the NASA entity should be closed entirely while a private sector entity is set up to absorb most of, if not all of, its employees. If NASA were to break free of the federal government (and all of the political staging and pressures and general BS) it could perform unimaginably well in the private sector.

It seems to me that it is time for the government funded (and unfortunately, controlled) entity of NASA might as well be dissolved and a private equivalent PASA (Public American Space Agency or some other such acronym) could thrive better in its place. Of course, I am not a business major so I can't say I know much about a potential business model, but from a science and engineering standpoint, it would behoove progress greatly if NASA could get free of the government.

Keeping NASA under government control would be like keeping a booming computer company like Microsoft under government control during the early years of the computing industry, it would have just hampered progress and the dissemination of computer technology. Similarly, federal control of one of the most (if not THE most) advanced space exploration entities is just hampering the progress of mankind's expansion into the stars.

This Is How Hubble Was Sent Up With Blind (4, Insightful)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698055)

Congress messed up the Hubble Space Telescope project a few decades ago by similarly setting unrealistically low budgets. The scientists agreed to the budget because that was the only way to go forward. Perkin Elmers, the prime subcontractor for the lens, had to take all sorts of shortcuts to meet that budget. They had to skimp on quality control. Instead of multiple tests, they used the same system that guided the polishing of the lens to verify the polishing was correct. It turns out that a bolt was inserted backwards in the measuring laser. Of course, this meant that the mirror was wrongly-ground and that the error was not caught.

The Ares Project is more important not only because it represents the next generation of American rocketry, but also because lives will be depending on the rocket. The early Apollo and Shuttle projects claimed lives because of shoddy work. History is in danger of repeating itself.

Congress and NASA should either do it right, or not do it at all. Astronauts assume the risks at every launch, but we should not let them take that risk if it is too significant. NASA should just put the ball down and walk away if it believes that the project cannot be done correctly on the current budget. Not for political gamesmanship, but to protect astronauts.

That's a ways off... (2, Funny)

John Pfeiffer (454131) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698087)

By the time they get there, they'll find a Chinese flag, an Indian flag, a Canadian flag, some monument to commercially-sponsored space travel, and a McDonald's.

Do you want fries with that?

Work smarter, not harder. (1)

Merakis (959028) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698095)

They should have enough intelligent people working at NASA to figure out how to get a man to the moon for 500 million dollars.

Misleading cost quote, more like $50 billion (2, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698109)

NASA administrator Mike Griffin blamed the White House, and the previous Bush administration, saying funding for Ares V and other projects fell from $4bn through 2015 to just $500m.

It doesn't mention it in the summary, but people need to keep in mind that figure's only for the Ares V, which is supposed to be building on the Ares I. The GAO (which is certainly historically better in its cost estimates than NASA) has estimated that the Ares I and Orion capsule will cost more along the lines of $40-50 billion [hobbyspace.com] .

For comparison, funding SpaceX to finish developing commercial crew transport to the space station [spacepolitics.com] would cost $500 million. SpaceX would need to have a 100x cost overrun to cost as much as the Ares program.

Contradictio in terminus (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698129)

Somehow seeing the words 'only' and '0.5 billion dollars' in one sentence gives me a strange feeling in my stomach.

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