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Stacking of New Space Vehicle Begins At KSC

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the note-that's-an-artist's-impression dept.

NASA 121

Matt_dk writes "For the first time in more than a quarter-century, a new space vehicle will begin stacking on a mobile launch platform (MLP) at Kennedy Space Center. The Ares I-X aft skirt, which was mated to a solid fuel segment in the Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility at KSC, rolled over to the 528-foot-tall Vehicle Assembly Building today, where it will be lifted and placed on the MLP in High Bay 3. On that platform, workers will secure the aft booster and continue adding segments of the first stage rocket, the upper stage simulators, the crew module mockup and the launch abort system simulator, taking the vehicle to a height of 327 feet."

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Spaceship modules (4, Funny)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 5 years ago | (#28640831)

Dudes, the game ends at 2020. There's around 10 years to go, and the trip to alpha centauri takes way more turns. All the modules should had been installed by now and the space vehicle should be on its way already! I mean, I did take my extra time to build the better modules and prioritized production in all cities to do it, but I would had never left it this late in game to actually launch it.

Aah, Civ2 times.. All the lost weekends, while still learning so much from it.

Re:Spaceship modules (3, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#28641265)

All the modules should had been installed by now and the space vehicle should be on its way already!

Not if you plan on winning by global conquest. People actually launched the ship in that game? I always paid on bloodlust -- or if I wanted a challenge I'd allow spaceships and race to conquer my enemies before theirs reached Alpha Centauri.

Why pour resources into exploration when you can pour them into global conquest instead? ;)

Re:Spaceship modules (4, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 5 years ago | (#28641345)

I actually found the technological way a lot better. It made it a little boring during early/mid -game, but I always had technological advantage to enemies because I pushed for it. Because of that the optimal winning tactic was launching the spacecraft to alpha centauri. Usually after it went there and I won, I would continue playing and totally crush the opponents who still were so much behind me in tech. I always found it hard to develop your army during game and still keep up with technology and city building.

Re:Spaceship modules (3, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#28641575)

I could never do it because I always got sucked into a war. Even when I had an entire island/continent to myself, an NPC would invariably land a settler and found a city within the radius of one of my cities and start stealing my developed land. A few dozen turns later and that particular NPC would be lain waste.

I didn't fall real far behind in technology while fighting wars because the computer players would usually switch to fundamentalism to keep up with your war machine. If they didn't and started to pull away in the tech race there's always the possibility of espionage to keep up. You did fall behind in the city building race though.

Re:Spaceship modules (2, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28642361)

Even when I had an entire island/continent to myself, an NPC would invariably land a settler and found a city within the radius of one of my cities and start stealing my developed land.

That is preventable, at the cost of a bit of food and production time. Simply ring your continent with your own small cities; your ZoC around your cities will prevent them from founding their own cities there. Same thing for spots you aren't currently using in your large cities. Found a small city to use up the excess production, and as your large city grows, you can move the small cities' workers off to allow your large city the use of that square. As your large city gets huge, you'll end up killing off your small city. No big deal -- you've prevented interlopers from invading your continent by settlement. As a bonus, when your city is down to size one and you raze it (rush settler production), you get a settler/engineer with zero upkeep cost.

Note that the interior cities are necessary to keep allies (who ignore your ZoC) from placing cities on your continent. For large continents, the interior cities method is more efficient than the ring-of-cities method.

I used this strategy on all difficulties except Emperor, which I was only able to beat by sticking to some of the published strategies out there (no science development until late in the game, rely on espionage and the Tech-sharing wonder to stay close to your rivals).

Re:Spaceship modules (3, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28643575)

Ah, how far the mighty have fallen.

Where once that post sailed above the masses in the +3 thermocline, now it languishes at the bottom of score:0 canyon.
It is no longer its privilege to soar and swoop among the updrafts and downdrafts over the score:2 threshold, now it must crawl, penitently, through the scrubgrass.

Oh worthy moderators, how had he offended thee?
Was it his wanton brashness in posts of yore?
Was it his disagreement with your politics?

Oh, my keyboard for the knowledge of why, why, why
his off-topic post gleans deserved moderation, while its off-topic parents receive continued adulation.

Consistency, please.

Re:Spaceship modules (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 5 years ago | (#28642723)

I could never do it because I always got sucked into a war. Even when I had an entire island/continent to myself, an NPC would invariably land a settler and found a city within the radius of one of my cities and start stealing my developed land.

That's why my FIRST major goal is always to develop Flight. Keeps a nice radius clear from any city.

Re:Spaceship modules (2, Interesting)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28641565)

Maybe you spent too much time, moving your units "around" the north and south pole.

Or your 500 sq. mile "cities" were too big, and you could not build enough onto that small map?

Re:Spaceship modules (2, Informative)

Drone69 (1517261) | more than 5 years ago | (#28641711)

If you played Sid's follow-up classic Alpha Centauri/Alien Crossfire then you would have been there already!

Re:Spaceship modules (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28641877)

Lol, shaddap you mind worms, this is a serious discussion about the new KFC stacker. Pipe down or I'll nerve staple you.

AERQWEDF (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28640887)

KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN!

Actually a plausible scenario (3, Funny)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 5 years ago | (#28641053)

They do have that "Chicken Gun." I can imagine a test where they see what happens if you fire a chicken at 600 MPH into the 1st stage exhaust plume. Not that they'd ever have a good reason to do it, just that they could -- to have KSC Friend Chicken.

Maybe this is a one for the Mythbusters? How do we incorporate C4?

Re:Actually a plausible scenario (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28641849)

Not that they'd ever have a good reason to do it, just that they could -- to have KSC Friend Chicken.

That's the game where they align two launchers to point at a spot equidistant from both launch sites, then enter the codes for simultaneous launch and see which of two friends hits the 'abort' button first?

Or is that the game where they piggy-back identical rockets on top of each of two other rockets, and see which top rocket can knock the other rocket into the Gulf of Mexico?

Re:Actually a plausible scenario (2, Funny)

wooferhound (546132) | more than 5 years ago | (#28641859)

You would want to have the KSC fried chicken for your Launch break . . .

Re:AERQWEDF (2, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28641607)

Did you mean Florida Fried Bat [slashdot.org] ?

Will it be... (1)

Drone69 (1517261) | more than 5 years ago | (#28640903)

...built just in time to intercept the oncoming Meteor of Doom?

Maybe next year (1)

proslack (797189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28640937)

Too bad they don't have a webcam or something like that aimed at it...would be interesting to watch.

Re:Maybe next year (5, Informative)

krswan (465308) | more than 5 years ago | (#28641117)

Not live but recent images here: http://mediaarchive.ksc.nasa.gov/search.cfm?cat=4 [nasa.gov]

Re:Maybe next year (1)

krswan (465308) | more than 5 years ago | (#28641147)

Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the lower part of the rocket!

Answered my other question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28641465)

Thanks for the link. It also answered my other question about the launch date. The answer is "Launch is targeted for no earlier than Aug. 30 from Launch Pad 39B"

That's a low ceiling.. (3, Funny)

theelectron (973857) | more than 5 years ago | (#28641055)

327 feet? I was hoping it could fly higher than that...

Re:That's a low ceiling.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28643821)

The thing that amuses me is that 327 feet is about 100m and 528 feet is about 160m. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the planned figure was *exactly* 100m, and they're just translating into retarded u.s. or imperial feet.

Re:That's a low ceiling.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28644047)

No, they're still working in retarded units.
Thank you Mr. Reagan.

Just one question (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 5 years ago | (#28641057)

Does this mean I can soon buy a retired space shuttle? (I'm sure the shuttles will go to museums or stay with NASA, but I can still hope... I just need that winning lottery ticket still.)

Re:Just one question (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 5 years ago | (#28642099)

Cowboy Bebop Episode 19 [wikipedia.org]

Space Shuttle Columbia rescues the Spike. Outrageously unrealistic but fun to think a hobbyist could actually get and fly one in the future...

This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (4, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28641073)

I know a lot of other people might be down on NASA. They say its too much of this, or too much of that, should be privatized, etc.. but...last time I checked:

NASA was the only organization to put a man on the moon, land a couple of rovers on Mars, fly by Jupiter, Saturn, and the outer planets, build and operate a space plane and a space station.

Everyone says NASA is expensive, but, I think the value is just tremendous.

I cannot reiterate my support for NASA, enough.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28641145)

Well, actually, the russian equivalent is built and operate the ISS didn't they? We did put up skylab, so we can say we did one, but not the only one.

CAPTCHA: thwart

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28641347)

Well, actually, the russian equivalent is built and operate the ISS didn't they?

Yeah, I guess I got carried away and forgot about that whole Mir thing, didn't I?

Woops!

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1, Funny)

Siberwulf (921893) | more than 5 years ago | (#28641531)

In Soviet Russia... Mir forgets YOU!

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (2, Informative)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 5 years ago | (#28642069)

The construction of the ISS was pretty evenly split between the U.S. and Russia. You're probably thinking of Mir (the first space station designed for long term occupation) or Salyut 1 (the first space station, beating Skylab by two years).

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (4, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 5 years ago | (#28641725)

I know a lot of other people might be down on NASA. They say its too much of this, or too much of that, should be privatized, etc.. but...last time I checked:

NASA was the only organization to put a man on the moon, land a couple of rovers on Mars, fly by Jupiter, Saturn, and the outer planets, build and operate a space plane and a space station.

NASA's done a lot of great things, but the Ares I-X isn't one of them. It's just a suborbital rocket model being put together mostly for political reasons, and has almost nothing in common with the Ares I rocket it's supposed to be a test for. It's been designed to specifically avoid all the big problems and question-marks which are threatening to doom the Ares I, making it almost useless as a test. I feel really bad for all the skilled NASA engineers whose time has been wasted on this make-work project instead of something more fruitful.

Like another commenter, I'm quite a bit more impressed by the SpaceX Falcon 9 [spacex.com] rocket which is already at Cape Canaveral, even if it isn't using the MLP. That's going to be quite a bit more important to the future of spaceflight than the Ares I-X.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (2, Insightful)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 5 years ago | (#28642113)

Agreed. Why NASA bothered with the Saturn I [wikipedia.org] or the Saturn IB [wikipedia.org] when they could have just waited until the Saturn V was built and then done everything after that shows what a waste of tax dollars NASA is.

(Yes, this is sarcasm)

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (2, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 5 years ago | (#28644235)

Why NASA bothered with the Saturn I [wikipedia.org] or the Saturn IB [wikipedia.org] when they could have just waited until the Saturn V was built and then done everything after that shows what a waste of tax dollars NASA is.

Do you seriously think the Saturn I or IB are at all comparable to the Ares I-X? I mean, I'm certainly not against flight tests in general -- I think the Ares I-Y [blogspot.com] is useful, as it will test the 5-segment booster, one of the biggest question-marks about the Ares I. The Ares I-X is almost entirely PR, though. Ironically, it's looking like the Ares I-X schedule slips may result in the Ares I-Y being postponed/canceled.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28644583)

Maybe you should ahve read this part:

"(Yes, this is sarcasm)"

Of course if he ended the sentecne with a ~, you wouldn't have needed to state it was sarcasm. Just sayin.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 5 years ago | (#28645509)

Yes, I did read that part. I'm assuming that because of the sarcasm, he's implying that he believes the Ares I-X has a role similar to the Saturn I, which it patently does not.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (2, Informative)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#28645415)

Not at all the same. The Saturn 1B could have been used in place of the Shuttle for cargo flights. The Ares-1X has no purpose outside of some testing.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

flitty (981864) | more than 5 years ago | (#28642167)

Ares I-X is being made just to answer those "question marks" you infer, not build around them. Most of the Boosters will be very similar to the ones used For Ares I. Most of the test is to test separation and instruments to gather data on how the flight performs. The parachute, RSRM motors, Launch abort Motor, and other instruments have already been tested independantly, this is just to test all the systems together.
I know it's a site built by the Ares group, but here's more info. Linky [safesimplesoon.com]

The purpose of Ares I-X is to provide data that can be used to design Ares I, reduce risk to the Ares I project and Constellation Program, and provide experience with ground processing and flying a vehicle similar to Ares I.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 5 years ago | (#28645499)

Ares I-X is being made just to answer those "question marks" you infer, not build around them. Most of the Boosters will be very similar to the ones used For Ares I.

Besides the fact that it'll use a solid rocket, what similarities are there? The Ares I-X will have the well-understood four-segment SRB which has already flown on the Shuttle hundreds of times, instead of the brand-new and unproven five-segment SRB. The Ares I-X will also have the Shuttle SRB's grain design, nozzle, fuel type, and internal pressure, all of which are drastically different with the Ares I. It'll also have a non-functional (e.g. no fuel sloshing around and entirely stiff) upper stage, which removes much of what could have been learned from doing a stage separation test. It'll also have an entirely different flight control package.

In fact, I can't think of a single piece of flight hardware that the Ares I-X and Ares I will have in common. Pretty much the only similarity is that the two rockets look vaguely similar on the outside to the untrained eye, which I guess is all you need from a PR perspective.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#28645519)

It won't test most of the Ares I: the first stage, the second stage, and the thrust oscillation mitigation strategies. We also don't yet know if the Ares I will be able to perform the duties that it has been designed for.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (4, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#28642001)

while I agree. i also don't want them to completely mothball the shuttles either. There is a handful of missions that only a shuttle can accomplish that would be worth every penny in keeping one on hand.

My personal favorite goal. When the Hubbel is finally dying And beyond repair, Send up a 2-3 man crew retrieve it and return it to earth safely. That is what the shuttle were meant to do with old satellites. retrieve them for proper disposal on earth. It is one mission not yet attempted. Besides how cool would it be to have the Hubbel space telescope setting in the Smithsonian? heck the majority of the shuttle launch could be financed by donors. It would be risky, but for that honor, i bet you get lots of volunteers.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28642555)

That's a total waste of money, considering the shuttles require something like a quarter-billion dollars to launch, aren't exactly the safest spacecraft invented (two have blown up already, and the remaining ones aren't getting any younger), and require lots of money for maintenance.

Here's a better strategy if you want to spend a little money to put old spacecraft/satellites into museums: just leave them in orbit, or maybe make some small/cheap/unmanned craft (launched on other missions) to push them into more stable orbits. Then, years later, when we have a space elevator working, we can use it to bring these old satellites back to Earth for basically free.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

Cheeko (165493) | more than 5 years ago | (#28642821)

Or you could try killing 2 birds with one stone. Why bother with sending it up empty. I'm sure they have some Satellite that they will need to put up, or some other project, maybe an ISS mission.

They can send it up to do whatever the prescribed job is, and then grab the hubble and bring it back.

The only issue might be the orbits. Would take significant fuel to change orbits if they are far apart.

Might be a cool mission to test some robotic recovery systems. Fire a capsule up and use a robot to place it inside the capsule and then return it.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28642987)

With the space elevator, they'd probably never send it up empty. There's lots of stuff that people want to send to space, and not so much they want to bring back (at least until they snag some mineral-rich asteroids or something). And with the space elevator, all the energy is used sending cars up, not down. Bringing cars down is free (gravity), and actually generates energy which can be reused for sending cars back up. So if you can bring an old telescope or other satellite to the in-orbit way station, it wouldn't cost anything to bring it to the surface. Even now, thanks to gravity, it doesn't cost anything to de-orbit a satellite and bring it to the surface, except that it won't arrive in one piece; with the space elevator, the descent is more controlled and the cargo preserved.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28643161)

considering the shuttles require something like a quarter-billion dollars to launch, aren't exactly the safest spacecraft invented (two have blown up already, and the remaining ones aren't getting any younger),

Note that the only other spacecraft that has flown anywhere near as many times as Shuttle (Soyuz) has lost two crews also. And then there's the one that blew up without killing the crew. So, what is this "safest spacecraft" of which you speak?

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (0)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28643275)

Soyuz has flown many more times than the Shuttle, IIRC, so two losses is statistically much better for the Soyuz.

Plus, the Soyuz costs about 1/10 as much as the Shuttle to fly, and it's disposable (i.e., they don't waste hundreds of millions repairing it after every trip, they just build a new one).

The Shuttle was nothing but a big military boondoggle. The Pentagon wanted a way to transport military satellites to orbit and bring them back without spies seeing them. There was never a good reason to make something as large and complex as the Shuttle for the missions it was really used for.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (4, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28643805)

Soyuz has flown many more times than the Shuttle, IIRC, so two losses is statistically much better for the Soyuz.

Umm, no. Soyuz 102 manned flights. Shuttle has done 126. So its two losses are statistically worse for Soyuz (1.96% Soyuz, 1.58% Shuttle).

I know there are people who have been indoctrinated into believing that the Shuttle is the worst vehicle to ever fly into space, and the Soyuz is the best. But, fact is, the numbers support the reverse position.

Shuttle has had 126 missions. 124 of them reached orbit and returned.

Soyuz has had 102 missions. 98 of them reached orbit and returned.

Of the 124 Shuttle missions that reached orbit and returned, 122 completed their intended missions, two had to abort due to non-lethal technical difficulties.

Of the 98 Soyuz missions that reached orbit and returned, 91 completed their intended missions, seven had to abort due to non-lethal technical difficulties. Note that one of the 91 "successful" missions included accidentally ramming Mir.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 5 years ago | (#28646261)

Note that one of the 91 "successful" missions included accidentally ramming Mir.

And thus led to improvements in the docking system used on ISS now, plus that wasn't the only purpose of that paticular mission. It's cool or whatever to be patriotic in front of your countrymen but think of what it sounds like to others that really care more about space exploration than who does it.
If I hadn't already read about the incident the above "ramming" comment would have led me to ask which of the two vehicles was destroyed or even damaged to the point where some form of repair was required.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28644053)

None of the shuttles have blown up.

1. Challenger disintegrated due to wind sheer. The solid rocket booster tore itself from the spacecraft and the other one turned it. This caused the liquid fuel tank to implode and disintegrate and then the Shuttle fell apart as it was forced into the wind. Nothing exploded there.

2. Columbia also disintegrated but on re-entry due to a hole in the one of the wings. Again, nothing exploded.

So, none of the shuttles have blown up. They just disintegrated like a subsonic only plane will disintegrate when it tries to fly faster than sound.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28644207)

Way to split hairs there.

Besides, I thought a faulty O-ring was the cause of the Challenger disaster.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (2, Informative)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 5 years ago | (#28644821)

It was - the original design never had the O-rings expanding quite so much to seal the gaps, but it worked well, so they kept the design as it was. theye did know well before the disaster that the colder the rings were, the longer it took them to seal and the more damage was done to the SRB joint and ring itself, so they put a lower limit on the safe launch temperature.

On the day of the Challenger launch, it was below freezing (or close to it), way below any previous launch of the Shuttle. When the SRBs were lit, the O ring disintegrated immediately, but rocket fuel slag plugged the gap in the SRB joint. This held in place until the wind shear at Max Q dislodged it, allowing the hot gases out, which destroyed the rear support, allowing the SRB to swing out, pivoting around the upper support, causing the nose to break the main fuel tank.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28644611)

Actually, they are some of the safest spaceships ever built. I suggest you read up on the history of rockets.

We will ever ahve a space elevator. Even with all the technology in place, the political, practical, and danger issues are far to onerous.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28644665)

There are no "danger" issues with a space elevator. Try reading about it sometime.

There's no practical issues either; the materials technology for the ribbons is very close at hand. The practicality of building it is more more outlandish than the practicality of landing men on the moon. Obviously, it wouldn't be easy, but it's certainly doable.

The only thing that could conceivably hold us back are political issues, just as those hold us as a species back in many other ways besides space exploration.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#28642621)

>heck the majority of the shuttle launch could be financed by donors.

Donors? We're looking at 600 million or so dollars. Yeah, good luck finding someone willing to donate that much. A mock-up works just as well in the museum. I'd rather see that kind of money used for food security, healthcare, or education. Or at least a new space mission that isnt for museum bragging rights.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#28643277)

There is $350 million people in the USA alone. That's $2 a piece. Figure $20 since half are kids, and not everyone will do so. Plus the money can be gathered now slowly for the 2015 ending of the Hubbel. also i was figuring $2 billion. Prices always goes up.

Instead of worrying about the exact dollar figures try to put it into perspective. It is something that is sorely needed as the people of the USA have no clue on how much is spent/earned, and moved around this country every day let alone every year.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#28644107)

>There is $350 million people in the USA alone. That's $2 a piece. Figure $20 since half are kids, and not everyone will do so.

So? I dont need a tax increase. If every politician who thought "Hey its only 20 dollars each" stopped thinking like this then I would be paying much less in taxes. A $20 tax adds up over the long term. I just looked at my cellphone bill and Im paying $18 in taxes for one line. Yep, almost 1/3rd of my bill is taxes. So how about we start looking at programs to cut and things to make more efficient instead of pork like youre proposing.

>Instead of worrying about the exact dollar figures try to put it into perspective.

Try to lower taxes, not increase them.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (3, Informative)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 5 years ago | (#28644169)

There was at least one mission that returned satellites to Earth. STS-51A returned two satellites that had malfunctioned; these were later repaired and successfully relaunched. I thought there were one or two others that did the same (and perhaps they were military missions), but I can't immediately find them.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28644593)

"It is one mission not yet attempted"
Becasue generally it's lame.
The exception would be the Hubble because of it's historical value.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#28645495)

My personal favorite goal. When the Hubbel is finally dying And beyond repair, Send up a 2-3 man crew retrieve it and return it to earth safely. That is what the shuttle were meant to do with old satellites. retrieve them for proper disposal on earth. It is one mission not yet attempted. Besides how cool would it be to have the Hubbel space telescope setting in the Smithsonian? heck the majority of the shuttle launch could be financed by donors. It would be risky, but for that honor, i bet you get lots of volunteers.

You need at least a billion dollars to fund the mission (somewhere between 250 and 450 million in marginal costs for the flight and up to a billion to employ the Shuttle workforce for up to six months). Better get to work. My view is nothing, including a retrieval of the Hubble justifies that cost.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

questionableswami (1595159) | more than 5 years ago | (#28646031)

Using the shuttle to retrieve the Hubble is a moot point anyway. The only shuttle capable of retrieving it was the Columbia -- all the other shuttle bays were reconfigured with equipment to enable them to dock with the ISS. The telescope won't fit with into the reconfigured bay.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (2, Interesting)

cetialphav (246516) | more than 5 years ago | (#28642193)

Everyone says NASA is expensive, but, I think the value is just tremendous.

When you look at the scientific value of the various unmanned programs, you are right. As a percentage of the nation's GDP, it is quite small and we can make tremendous discoveries.

The manned programs are a different story. They are hugely expensive, dangerous and provide little scientific value. Apollo, the Space Shuttle, ISS are not much more than engineering exercises that answer the question of "Can we build this?" Even the goal of putting a man on Mars is an engineering exercise. How many remote probes with specialized instruments can we send there for the cost of a single manned mission? There is no question that the science value is better with unmanned missions.

This is where I think NASA is fairly criticized. They want manned missions because they are cool and sexy, but they use science to justify the outrageous costs involved. Now I'm not saying the engineering problems are unworthy of being solved. But NASA needs to be honest about why things are being done. If they want to pursue engineering challenges, then they also need to pursue the relatively unsexy challenges of taking things we already know how to do and making it cheaper and more reliable. I just don't see where they have that commitment.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28642851)

Wrong. You're not going to learn how to put humans out in space, without actually putting humans out in space. Launching a bunch of unmanned probes is great for learning about other celestial bodies (slowly) without risking lives and costing too much, but when your ultimate goal is to get humans out into space doing things (such as constructing solar power stations on the moon, constructing large moon-based telescopes, mining asteroids, or whatever), these probes aren't helping much.

Plus, if you actually send real humans to places like Mars to study it, you'll get your scientific results FAR faster than having some little rover wander around at 1mph, under control of humans who are a 30-minute round-trip radio signal away.

Of course, some fool is probably going to respond saying how we need to concentrate on developing better AIs to do all this work for us. We've been trying to develop AI for decades and it hasn't gone very far, and besides, it's a lot easier to simply figure out how to send real humans out there, who actually want to go, instead of creating a race of slaves. Other than expense, there's no real downside to sending humans into space. It's not like we have a shortage of humans on this planet. There's loads of people who'd love to go, even if they knew it was a one-way trip.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (-1, Troll)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 5 years ago | (#28643117)

NASA was the only organization to put a man on the moon [...]

Yes, but NASA wasn't much help during Katrina. And it never saved a single farm. And they have utterly failed to implement auto safety standards.

-Peter

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (0, Offtopic)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 5 years ago | (#28645817)

Huh. I guess my point was lost on the moderator. It was that whether or not they have put a man on the moon is not a very useful general metric for the success of government organizations.

Does it not seem silly to anyone else to point out that the only organization whose purpose is to achieve some goal was the only organization to achieve that goal?

Was that really not obvious? Is that really trolling?

-Peter

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#28645461)

There's a two word rebuttal: "opportunity cost". Imagine if you will, if that trillion plus dollars spent on NASA over its lifetime were instead spent on space exploration and development. That's a lot of money. We could have space colonies, massive surveys of asteroids and the surface of all major bodies in the Solar System, a huge economy in space, etc. Instead, we got "put a man on the moon, land a couple of rovers on Mars, fly by Jupiter, Saturn, and the outer planets, build and operate a space plane and a space station". Ho hum.

In other words, that "tremendous value" came at a larger tremendous hidden cost.

Re:This is the way to spend taxpayer money! (2, Interesting)

demachina (71715) | more than 5 years ago | (#28646043)

"NASA was the only organization to put a man on the moon"

That was 40 years ago, completely different organization now. They for the most part don't even remember how they did it since all nearly all the Apollo veterans have retired.

"and a couple of rovers on Mars, fly by Jupiter, Saturn, and the outer planets"

These are more JPL than NASA. JPL manages to operate in a little cocoon that has prevented it from being infected by the pointless bureaucracy in the rest of NASA

"build and operate a space plane and a space station."

Soviet Union/Russia operated Mir long before ISS came along and they actually did it on a reasonable budget and actually did stuff on it. NASA has spent way over a $100 billion, 30 years on ISS and its still not doing much useful science or anything else. They mostly spend all their time repairing and maintaining it. They NASA time line has them pretty much abandoning it as soon as they finish building it. No one will even be able to get there without the Russian's and Soyuz if the the Shuttle retires next year.

Soviet Union did build and fly a space plane but only to keep up with the U.S. I think they quickly realized it wasn't reusable because it had to be practically rebuilt between every flight, was staggeringly expensive to fly, and was very unreliable. It was common sense on their part they killed it and stuck the affordable Soyuz which is basically what NASA is coming back to with Orion. ISS and Space Shuttle weren't really NASA's finest hour. They justified the space shuttle because they needed it for the ISS. They needed the ISS so the shuttle would have a place to go. It was a circular firing squad.

The fundamental problem with the manned spaced division in NASA is that since Apollo they have never really had a mission. They just create the barest minimum mission they can think of to keep themselves employed. They know the President and Congress will never fund them to do anything amazing like put a colony on Mars, so they ask for missions that they can get funds for but they are kind of stupid and pointless. ISS and space shuttle were just so they had something safe for astronauts do in LEO and then they squander large amounts of money doing next to nothing. It was mostly a jobs program and the return to the Moon isn't really any better. Bill Nelson, Senator from Florida in particular insures NASA keeps getting funded just so he keeps the jobs in Florida.

NASA either needs to figure out manned missions that are compelling and useful or they need to stop wasting money and fall back on robotic mission until they find a reason for men to work in space. They only manned mission I can really see at the moment is a colony on Mars, everything else seems better done with robots and it would be a lot cheaper.

Buzz Aldrin, second man on the moon, wrote a piece a few weeks back about how silly it is for NASA to just repeat Apollo again forty years later. He proposed NASA partner with China, India, Russia and EU and let them lead the lunar mission because it would be new and exciting to them, while NASA focused on going to Mars and do something really exciting and with a point. He advocated my position is that Mars should be a one way trip for colonist and not another stunt like Apollo where we go, pick up rocks, and leave. I would be inclined to say the U.S. is too broke to do Mars but when you see us squander trillions of dollars on corrupt bankers, Iraq and a brain dead stimulas a colony on Mars almost seems pretty good by comparison.

zharko (-1, Troll)

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Note the "mobile launch pad" disclaimer (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28641177)

"For the first time in more than a quarter-century [...] on a mobile launch platform (MLP)"

Good thing they had that little disclaimer. SpaceX's Falcon 9 showed up there earlier this year. From the pictures, the Falcon's launch platform doesn't look like it's going anywhere.

http://spacex.com/updates.php

Re:Note the "mobile launch pad" disclaimer (3, Informative)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 5 years ago | (#28641391)

The important part of that statement is the MLP is what goes into the high bays for assembly of the craft and moving the vehicle to the launch site. In other words it is officially the successor NASA rocket by following in the footsteps of the Saturn rockets and space shuttle.

Re:Note the "mobile launch pad" disclaimer (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#28645385)

The Ares-IX is a one time prototype. It will never launch again. It can't be a successor vehicle as a result.

!chicken, !kfc ??? (0, Offtopic)

CaseCrash (1120869) | more than 5 years ago | (#28641371)

these tags are ridiculous, how many stories does slashdot have about Kentucky Fried Chicken?

is anyone really so stupid as to think that the Colonel is making a space ship?

Re:!chicken, !kfc ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28642553)

these tags are ridiculous, how many stories does slashdot have about Kentucky Fried Chicken? is anyone really so stupid as to think that the Colonel is making a space ship?

Calm down, Francis. Just having a bit of fun.

wrong macro engineering again (2, Insightful)

Max_W (812974) | more than 5 years ago | (#28641759)

Again, cool shape, just for the sake to make it look cool and non-Russian. But there are certain things in physics, which are fundamental and cannot be made different.

NASA should make a rocket with the right architecture. It means it shall look like Soyuz vehicle. No other way exists.

It is like with Sylvester Stallone's Rocky. He did boxing with hands down in movies. Many boxers in real sport got traumas and spoiled their careers because they wanted to look as cool as Rocky on the ring.

And while I am on it, no vehicles should be built at all until the scientific metric system of measurement is introduced and imperial medieval system is banned. It should be forbidden, I do not know, by the Geneva convention. Due to pseudo-patriotism the complicated systems are built with archaic feet, elbows, inches, etc. All would be fine, but alive people are to fly it.

Re:wrong macro engineering again (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28641977)

Yeah, I'm just holding my breath until England stops using the pint.~

Re:wrong macro engineering again (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 5 years ago | (#28643353)

I dunno about the Mother Country but here in Her Majesty's Antipodean Dominions the 'pint' has officially been precisely 600 millilitres since around the 1960s.

Metric beer: the drink of the future, today!

Re:wrong macro engineering again (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28641993)

Please stop mangling English. I know there are very few interesting forums available in your native tongue and I'm sorry about that, but please stop posting that engrish gobbledygook.

Re:wrong macro engineering again (4, Insightful)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 5 years ago | (#28642161)

Aerodynamics, last I checked, is not a completely solved problem (granted, it's in better shape than the more general fluid dynamics, but still not solved), nor are a large number of other design decisions involved with producing spacecraft. I somehow doubt that aesthetics are trumping science in the look; rather, they're probably guiding the selection among a number of similarly efficient designs.

As for imperial vs. metric, I think the big hurdle isn't patriotism, it's inertia. People were born and raised on imperial, and it's hard to reprogram them later in life. And teachers start with imperial because you encounter it more often. It's Catch-22; you can't switch until people are comfortable with it, and you can't get comfortable with it until you switch. The U.S. is slowly starting to switch the teaching to metric, so I suspect we'll try the transition again in the next decade or two, once the majority of the population can deal with it. Otherwise, you get smartasses/idiots driving 100 MPH on every highway.

Re:wrong macro engineering again (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#28645645)

As far as engineering goes, the real problem with the Ares I is the solid motor first stage. In addition to it being responsible for the odd shape and poor aerodynamic characteristics of the Ares I, it also limits the capabilities of the vehicle (the first stage is already as large as it can be), introduces thrust oscillation, a vibration problem that takes mass and performance margin to fix, has poor acceleration and safety characteristics (you can't throttle a SRM, it has lower ISP, it has high max Q or maximum aerodynamic force and high acceleration at burnout even with some control over propellant burn rate, the motor has a historical failure rate in operation of roughly 1 in 300, and crew escape need higher acceleration to escape a disintegrating SRM than corresponding liquid propellant stages), and you need to move those heavy, dangerous SRMs to the launch pad while liquid propellant fueling can happen right on the spot when you are ready to go.

Re:wrong macro engineering again (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28642915)

And while I am on it, no vehicles should be built at all until the scientific metric system of measurement is introduced and imperial medieval system is banned. It should be forbidden, I do not know, by the Geneva convention. Due to pseudo-patriotism the complicated systems are built with archaic feet, elbows, inches, etc. All would be fine, but alive people are to fly it.

Don't be retarded. The English system is better for many things, like pints for beer and Fahrenheit for telling people what the weather is like today.

For scientific work, it sucks, and that's what just about all science (even in the USA) is done with metric units. Yes, NASA probably should be standardizing on metric units. But what scientists use for their daily work has nothing to do with what common people use in their daily lives.

Use the right tool for the job.

Re:wrong macro engineering again (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 5 years ago | (#28643109)

The English system is better for many things, like pints for beer and Fahrenheit for telling people what the weather is like today.

Huh? Celcius makes way more sense. 0=melting point of ice. Anything less is freezing. 100=boiling point of water. Anything in the lower teens is cool enough to warrant a jacket, anything in the 20s is warm, 30 and above and it's uncomfortable heat. How's Fahrenheit better?

Re:wrong macro engineering again (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28643227)

Because temperatures are frequently below the freezing point of water in many parts of the world. 0C isn't all that cold. With Fahrenheit, if it's below 0, then it's really really cold. And if it's above 100, then it's really hot.

When is it ever going to be anywhere near 100 on the Celcius scale? Never, unless you travel to Venus.

Lastly, Celcius doesn't have enough resolution. Your thermostat has to allow for half-degrees for Celcius, which is pretty stupid. With Fahrenheit, your thermostat only needs to display two digits, as humans can't tell half-degrees (F) apart, but 2-degree increments are too coarse.

Celcius is, IMO, a completely useless scale and should be eliminated. There's only two scales needed: Fahrenheit for talking about the weather (and maybe cooking), and Kelvins for scientific work.

Re:wrong macro engineering again (1)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 5 years ago | (#28643931)

Uh-huh...

Stop being so stubborn. I was raised on Celsius temps, so I know weather and cooking temps in Celsius.

I know Celsius temps in the 20s are hot weather (at least for England), and in the 200s is typical cooking temps. I have no clue where hot begins in a Fahrenheit scale. I know freezing point is somewhere around (exactly?) 32F, but no idea what human temp is (~37C), boiling point is (100C) and so on in Fahrenheit.

If someone tells me how hot it is somewhere in Fahrenheit, I won't understand. 78F, is that hot? And you want to get rid of Celsius in favour of Fahrenheit? Yeah, that's a sensible plan. - Sarcasm -

Re:wrong macro engineering again (2, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28644653)

So your argument boils* down to "It's better because it's what I'm used to"? Nice.

*Yes I did.

Re:wrong macro engineering again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28645553)

You think 20-29 Celsius is hot weather? That covers a range from slightly cool to modestly warm. You Brits have no sense of weather, no wander you don't see the point of the Fahrenheit scale for weather reporting. :)

Re:wrong macro engineering again (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 5 years ago | (#28646339)

Celcius and Kelvin have the same resolution. The rest of your post is rubbish too. When Fahrenheit was first devised, zero was at the hot end of the scale, ie. boiling point of water. That makes sense :p

Wrong o' (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28644635)

Your example explains very clearly on how neither is better, it's just training.

It is also flawed becasue it doesn't take pressure into account, so those are just two arbitrary points that are only correct a sea level.

I mean, we should go metric, but the only reasons is that in a global enviroment, we should have a standard measuring system.

Fahrenheit is also has a finer degree of accuracy.
You tell somone it's going to be 75, and it's off a few degrees, it's not a big deal.

Re:Wrong o' (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 5 years ago | (#28646355)

Fahrenheit is also has a finer degree of accuracy.
You tell somone it's going to be 75, and it's off a few degrees, it's not a big deal.

So that's accuracy is it ?

Re:wrong macro engineering again (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 5 years ago | (#28643415)

"But what scientists use for their daily work has nothing to do with what common people use in their daily lives."

Except for us here in the rest of the world, who've been using Centigrade temperatures since before I was born.

Mid 20s is nice and warm. 30 is hot. 0 is precisely freezing. Right now it's a chilly 4 degrees at Christchurch Airport.

Works just fine for us.

Re:wrong macro engineering again (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28643667)

Fahrenheit works just fine for us. Why should we change? Just because others think we should? No thanks.

Re:wrong macro engineering again (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28644681)

we should change so we have a global measuring system.

Both sides of this discussion are about what someone is used to.

Re:wrong macro engineering again (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28644707)

Why exactly do we need a global measuring system? What's wrong with people using units they prefer?

Do you advocate having a single global government too?

Re:wrong macro engineering again (1)

sirsnork (530512) | more than 5 years ago | (#28644951)

Because international projects get royally screwed when someone using the metric system gives someone using the imperial system a measrement of any kind without specifying the unit, and even then having to convert from one unit to another is just one more step where mistakes can be made. I recall something exactly like this happening at NASA not too long ago

Re:wrong macro engineering again (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28645025)

Yes, that's why scientific work should be (and usually is, except when dealing with USA military contractors as happened in that incident you refer to) done in metric units. But don't try to tell Suzy Homemaker or Bob the Plumber that they need to switch to metric units for telling the outdoor temperature or driving their car or using their bathroom scale because of scientific or engineering work and unit conversions, which are not something that normal people do in life, ever. Non-scientists/engineers don't even KNOW what "unit conversion" is.

BTW, that that incident you refer to was not an "international project", it was a domestic one. The JPL (NASA) received some data from some military contractor (Lockheed Martin I believe), and the stupid defense contractor used imperial units without saying so, and NASA assumed they were metric (which was also kinda stupid; they should have asked). Apparently, even NASA uses metric units, at least for its scientific stuff. (But apparently, they still use imperial units for their spacecraft hardware design, according to an article I read recently about them sticking with imperial for the Ares rocket because all their older stuff was in imperial and it'd cost too much to switch.)

Re:wrong macro engineering again (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 5 years ago | (#28645545)

But don't try to tell Suzy Homemaker or Bob the Plumber that they need to switch to metric units for telling the outdoor temperature or driving their car or using their bathroom scale because of scientific or engineering work and unit conversions, which are not something that normal people do in life, ever.

Easy sell for Suzy. Tell her that instead of weighing 250 lbs, she'll only weigh about 114 if she switches to kilograms. The chubbies will eat it up.

Re:wrong macro engineering again (1)

Man Eating Duck (534479) | more than 5 years ago | (#28644851)

...and Fahrenheit for telling people what the weather is like today.

I guess that depends on who you're talking to [wikipedia.org] . In the case of Belize I would guess that "too damn hot" would suffice most of the time anyway, eliminating the problem. The rest of the world is not perfect either, I frequently hear people make the common off-by-273.15 error :)

Re:wrong macro engineering again (3, Informative)

TheRocketMan (191650) | more than 5 years ago | (#28643943)

And while I am on it, no vehicles should be built at all until the scientific metric system of measurement is introduced and imperial medieval system is banned. It should be forbidden, I do not know, by the Geneva convention. Due to pseudo-patriotism the complicated systems are built with archaic feet, elbows, inches, etc. All would be fine, but alive people are to fly it.

It's not patriotism as much as infrastructure for fabrication and test. I'm thinking of propulsion here, but this is true of other areas as well. Raw materials required/needed are only available in the USA in English units (5/8in tubing for prop lines, etc), for that to become metric would require all the suppliers to support metric as well: it's not just NASA. Also, machining and test equipment in many facilities (again, not just NASA) are non-metric: again this infrastructure could be converted but would be expensive and nobody has ponied up the bread to do the conversion and re-cert required.

All certainly do-able but there is a cost: not arguing against metric as I work only in metric, switching to all metric would make my life easier.

Re:wrong macro engineering again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28645201)

pretty sure nasa is standardizing all new designs on metric units. the main reason they have not done so with the ares system is that it is based on a lot of shuttle technology. I remember somewhere, sometime, some article stated the cost of converting all the schematics to metric was in the tens of millions. If I had a choice, I'd spend money on more exploration before I spend money on updating schematics.

Frist 'psot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28645343)

AMERICA) is the Baby take my come Here but now VITALITY. LIKE AN *BSD has lost more BSDI is also dead, consistent with the brilliant Bplan

Vertical Assembly Building (1)

gfim (452121) | more than 5 years ago | (#28645503)

I heard a story once (no idea of the truth) that the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) used to be called the Vertical Assembly Building. But they got tired of dumb tourists asking "What's a vertical?".

KFC? Wait... what? KSC? (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28646157)

When I first read the title I thought it read "Stacking of new space vehicle begins at KFC", and I'm thinking to myself "KFC is making sandwiches outta rockets now?"

Then I read it more carefully. It's weird because I eat at KFC maybe once a year, so why is "KFC Stacker" embedded in my brain?

Re:KFC? Wait... what? KSC? (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28646171)

I mean, "Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility" definitely sounds like something KFC would be doing to chicken, right?

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