Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Panel Advises Longer Life For Space Station

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the if-it-isn't-broke dept.

Space 237

suraj.sun writes "A presidential panel reviewing the US space program has found that the United States needs to boost NASA's budget by $1.5 billion to fly the last seven shuttle missions and should extend International Space Station operations through 2020. The panel also proposed adding an extra, eighth shuttle flight to help keep the station supplied and narrow an expected 5-7 year gap between the time the shuttle fleet is retired and a new US spaceship is ready to fly."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28877287)

ladies, get your pussies ready!

Re:fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28877593)

For what? That thing you have there wouldn't even touch the sides. Come back with no less than eight inches or GTFO.

Re:fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28877655)

LOL. Says the person who's dick gets eclipsed by a toddler's.

Rob is a manwhore (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28877323)

Rob Malda has a loose asshole.

I got my pussy ready! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28877327)

"I'm fucking your ass!" he yelled.

There's not a lot between me and my upstairs neighbors, and if I can hear the pitter-patter of their little Chihuahua's claws on their hard wood floors, then they surely--at three in the morning--heard this jagoff yell, "I'm fucking your ass."

To his credit, it was a true statement, that he was having sex with my ass. It was also true to our situation about thirty seconds prior--the situation of the various parts of him that were in the various crevices of me--when he yelled, "My finger is in your ass!" Indeed, his finger was in my ass. His thumb, I guessed. I don't know. You can't really see what's going in and out of your ass on your hands and knees. You have to make a guess, or sleep with a douche like this, who will tell you exactly what's in your ass. Shortly after, when he yelled, "I can feel my finger in your ass on my dick!" I imagined it was because he could probably feel his finger or thumb through my ass on his dick.

But why yell these things out, really? Is it necessary? No, and it's not sexy, either.

To begin this entry, I must explain that I'm balls deep in recovery right now, and I find it absolutely exhausting. Every day is the same bullshit: trying to feel, trying not to let anger rule me, trying to detach from all the things that keep me...me. I can't drink or do drugs. I have to abstain from them, and I'm doing only sort of okay at that, and while I'm abstaining from those vices, I've got to figure out how to manage quitting sex, too. I can't do that. I'm too horny. Sex will have to be the vice I get around to quitting once I've figured out how to abstain from the rest of the nonsense. Perhaps I'll procrastinate on that forever. I am a very sexual person. That's why they call me Bunny, for christ's sake. I'm always humping.

So while I'm procrastinating about sex and allowing myself to have it, I'm also having a difficult time finding it. It's hard to get a good lay in a town where everyone's batshit, lives-in-the-woods crazy or over sixty. There are three attractive single guys in town who bathe, and I've done two of them already.

The first of them went missing, which was not fun. I was sort of into him, but he stood me up and it was a rather embarrassing outcome, not because he did it while I was in public sitting by myself over a glass of wine and a bread basket, waiting for him to show while everybody in town looked at me piteously, but because of who he is, which is a slacker. He does some sort of construction job for a living, can't keep a conversation going, has no college education, is divorced or separated with a kid and isn't particularly good looking. I've never had great taste in guys, but even for me, it was a stretch. He had nice eyes--a cuteness, a quirkiness--and there was something really naughty about him. He had a devious smile. He was a troublemaker; I like that.

He ended up being very good in bed, and I rather enjoyed being with him. Not just sleeping with him, but being around him too, in his presence. I don't know if my being "into" him was desperation so much as a clicking, or a chemistry. Some people...well, you really just ought to have sex with them. It's the right thing to do. You have compatible pheromones. It wouldn't be appropriate to maintain the distance between, according to the rules of nature.

But then he went poof, so what can I say but whatever?

After him came a few trysts with some lesbians. One on vacation with her girlfriends. A girl from New Zealand I wasn't the least bit attracted to. She was very pretty, but I wasn't into her, and I had sex with her anyway, for a reason I'll get to in a bit. It was the wrong and selfish thing to do, and I regret it, because it's not like you can have sex with someone without them figuring out you're apathetic about the act mid-act, and you're faking the moans and the pleasure, and if you do fake it, isn't it irresponsible? You can't just say, in passing, that you entered another body because there was just something interesting about her soft hair and pink lips, and the way girls are so very pretty. That's part of why I did it, though. They are so pretty. They're like cupcakes. Don't you want to eat a cupcake? It's not the most satisfying of meals, but so attractive, pink, pretty, sweet. You have to bite it, you know?

After that was a Mexican girl with short blonde hair and amazing breasts. Bulbous. They defied gravity, too big to be so firm. I fucked her on her boyfriend's pergo flooring while he jerked off on the couch. Here's a tip: don't fuck on pergo flooring. My elbows and knees were void of skin when I was done. I was a real mess.

After the Mexican girl was the guy who works the bar at the Italian restaurant down the street.

Now, this guy is right up my alley: aggressive as hell, bald (too much testosterone) and brutal in bed. He threw me face first up against a building and violated me, and dammit, that sort of aggression makes me happy in my special areas, fills me with a certain warm feeling of comfort and of coming home. Say you were a normal person, and you slept with this bald guy--it would be disturbing. But I'm not normal. For me, there was a sort of drifting back, like revisiting a lover long gone, one who broke your heart but still lingers in your memory, and for the life of you, you cannot forget him, though "him" is not really a man; its the pain itself. I find myself so unable to dissociate pain from pleasure, and though I've really tried to get the two going separately, this dipshit really pressed my buttons, and I can't seem to stop myself from thinking about him, the parts of him and how well he chokes while fucking--just the right amount of pressure so that it hurts but doesn't hurt too much and doesn't put you out. It's good for me. I know...I know...

I'm actively working to avoid him and all the others like him. I feel as if, with enough work, I can make a fissure there, and force it to stick. He's the past and the past was a shitshow. I don't want more of the past. Men who live here, they're the past. They're like me: fucked in the head. This seems to be the place you go to escape whatever abusive situation you were either in, or caused. These people are polarized. Dazed. They drug and drink or they're straight edge, and everyone has a dogma that's either completely out of touch with reality or unreasonably close-minded. It's a place for contrarians, people who who are different for the sake of being different, whether its reasonable or based on biases or no, and sometimes I'm disturbed I fit in here so well. God, what does that say about me, that I've entrenched myself in a little squirrel hole filled with loops and managed to blend in?

So, I decided after baldy to stick to vacationers to get my kicks. I didn't feel I needed to invite into my life the drama of the men who lived here, the baggage, the projection of so many succubae that weren't me onto me, evil she-ghosts I've got nothing to do with and probably don't even resemble much.

I fell into a bachelor party Thursday night with the intention of picking off the best man. I didn't know why him. Same with the girl from New Zealand, there wasn't much attraction, but my reasoning for having sex right now is this: I guess I feel, that if someone doesn't touch me, put their hands on me and define the limits of my body, the places where my skin ends and the rest of the world begins, then I don't exist at all. I can't begin to tell you how disconcerting that feeling that you're not real is. Fucking helps.

The bachelor party chose a bar, and we went to it, and naturally, the bar they chose was the Italian restaurant where the bald guy works. The universe, it seems, is merciless with its tests of our fortitude. I got plastered on bourbon, tried to maintain focus on the best man, because, really, he was the best man for me, though my body didn't want him at all. I figured I could force my body into it, like I could force a fissure. He ran his hands up and down my legs, saying they were soft, pulling my knee into his crotch and asking me if I felt how hard his penis was. I did. He was a talker, of course. I didn't need all the talk. Wouldn't it have been sexier to pull a girl's knee to your penis while talking about politics or some random shit, than to narrate the act? I felt like the bald guy would've known that.

This scenario was frustrating. I cannot tell you a single thing about the way the best man looked. I simply did not care. I wanted to have sex, and badly, but not with him. With the guy who sure to choke me, which I knew was wrong for me and a step back toward the shitshow, but I couldn't stop myself from wanting it, either. It was instinctual.

Sex is something, that when wrapped around and through violence enough, you'll have a bitch of a time unraveling the mess to its pure state and form again.

"Can you feel my penis? It's really hard." Yes, it was hard. It was, indeed, erect. There really wasn't a need to discuss it. "Do you want to fuck me? You're going to fuck me, aren't you?" It got to the point where I was ready to walk out and go home.

You see, there's this interesting thing happening to me, lately. Sometimes I find myself in a situation like this, where there's drama, and there's the destructive thing I'm supposed to do, faithfully--according to training and history--I ought to fall right in and end me, and then there's the overly moral voice opposing it critically, and instead of going with either voice, something in me rises up, detached and unemotional about it all and it says, "Meh. Go get a taco and watch some Arrested Development." That's the new voice, the middle ground voice. The voice that prefers solitude to violence, and doesn't really give a crap about anything, about drugs, sex or alcohol. It's a voice of reason. I've never had that voice before, and its still sort of weak in me, so while I heard it, and it's musings about tacos and Arrested Development, I went to bed with the best man anyway, and it happened to be one of the worst lays of my life. He was bumbling and awkward. He kissed with his teeth, and the talking didn't stop after we left the bar. He narrated everything, loudly. "Oh you're putting a condom on me. Now you're riding my dick. You're riding my dick. I'm feeling your tits. You're fucking me. Are you gonna cum? Huh? Are you coming?" I had to put my hand over his mouth to muster an orgasm, and I'm almost positive a taco and some Arrested Development would have been the better ending to my night. I drove him back to his hotel and he sat in my car, with lovely intent, telling me something about how I should really follow my dreams, a thing I don't have and never have had a problem doing. I wanted to tell him to dream big about getting the fuck out of my car and then go for it, chase that dream the fuck away from me, I'm tired.

On the way back to my house, 4am or so, I stopped at a convenience store for some Gatorade. An Estonian man with a black guitar was sitting on a bench outside, strumming and singing. He shouted something at me. He was bald and very pretty. Blue eyes, big muscles; cute smile. "You beautiful," he yelled. "You beautiful girl." I smiled, thanked him and went inside to buy my Gatorade. He followed me in and introduced himself as "Maximus Fedor Emelianenko," beating his chest somewhat hilariously while doing it.

"Come here and listen," he said, pulling me from the register to an open laptop perched in the corner, atop a stack of Sierra Mist. He put big black headphones--the leather-covered foam kind with the cord that spirals--on my head. Russian hip hop came through them. It was mellow and put me in a good mood, though I hadn't a clue about what was being said. The language sounded smooth and velvety. His computer began displaying a slide show of photographs, brilliantly taken. African men with great white beards in direct sunlight, against teal paint weathering off the wall of a taco stand, almost macro, so that every wire of fur on their faces had a story to tell. "You take these?" I asked. He nodded, yes, and smiled. I watched and listened, and Maximus Fedor Emelianenko began to knead my hip in a very telling way. "What are you doing tonight?"

It wasn't night. The sun was about to rise. I reeked of latex already, and I wasn't sure how I'd feel about myself tomorrow if Maximus Fedor Emelianenko and I did anything Sapphic after I'd done so many not very enjoyable Sapphic things with the best man for no reason. Could I really be that girl? A part of me was certain I could, the same part that wants the bald guy who works at the Italian restaurant. It said, "Go for it. He's incredible." The other part--the very judgemental, very critical part--said, "Are-you-crazy-it's-four-o'clock-he'll-prolly-take-you-to-his-car-and-rape-you-and-leave-you-bleeding-in-a-ditch-you-stupid-bitch!"

I decided I didn't want to listen to either of those voices. Instead, I gave Maximus Fedor Emelianenko a big hug, and told him he was very talented. Then I went home with my Gatorade to watch some Arrested Development. While the sun rose, I lay in my very soft bed, under my very soft covers and hugged my own body, for some reason. Probably because waiting for others to do it for you, when it is needed so badly, is a recipe for disaster.

Re:I got my pussy ready! (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous CowHardon (1605679) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877359)

Please stop posting excerpts from Dick Cheney's autobiography. Thank you.

No they didn't. (5, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877339)

The Shuttle/ISS subcommittee headed by Dr Sally Ride has presented three options:

1. Do nothing, let the shuttle stop flying at the end of 2010 and let the station be de-orbited at the end of 2016.
2. Fly 1 more mission, and still de-orbit the station at the end of 2016.
3. Extend station operations through to the end of 2020 and fly more shuttle missions to support it.

The options explain how to do it, what funding will be required, and the consequences on other programs.

The President and the new NASA Administrator will take these options and decide which to implement, depending on what funding they can get from Congress.

The committee is not chartered with making any recommendations, and the options are not final until the report is released, around Aug 31.

You can give your opinions to the committee via the website: http://hsf.nasa.gov/ [nasa.gov]

Re:No they didn't. (2, Insightful)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877399)

Isn't there a fourth option? Namely- use Soyuz to transport people from now on until NASA develops something else that can dock with the station. I'm still pissed off that they canceled the habitation and gravity research modules- both after the modules had already been assembled!

Re:No they didn't. (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877411)

Umm.. that's all 3 options. Even if the shuttle gets extended, it will only be extended up until Orion is flying. And if COTS-D comes along, that will change things too.

Re:No they didn't. (4, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877511)

Of course, designing and assembling the modules is nothing compared to the cost of getting thousands of kilograms more than 300km straight up against gravity and accelerated to 7700 meters per second...

Re:No they didn't. (1)

Kagura (843695) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878047)

Of course, designing and assembling the modules is nothing compared to the cost of getting thousands of kilograms more than 300km straight up against gravity and accelerated to 7700 meters per second...

Wow. Even LEO spaceflight is interesting when put like that.

Re:No they didn't. (3, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878113)

No, those modules probably cost significantly more than a single shuttle launch (even as stupid expensive as that is). In fact a quick search shows Japan sunk more than $700M into the CAM unit with about another $100M from NASA for experiment modules to be placed within it. Even without any other involvement we are up to $800M in sunk costs, the incremental cost for a shuttle launch is ~$60M.

space shuttle cost (4, Informative)

David Jao (2759) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878435)

the incremental cost for a shuttle launch is ~$60M.

NASA says the cost per shuttle launch is $450 million [nasa.gov] .

Re:No they didn't. (1)

SlashWombat (1227578) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878757)

Exactly!. Why do they insist it needs de-orbiting in 2016? This seems to be the ultimate stupidity! (Sell it to Hilton as the ultimate (for now) tourist destination!)

Re:No they didn't. (4, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877701)

Isn't there a fourth option? Namely- use Soyuz to transport people from now on

Without Shuttle to provide the cargo upmass and reboosts - there isn't a fourth option. Soyuz and Progress can't do it, ATV won't fly often enough, and HTV is still largely in the vaporware category (and even if it was flying, wouldn't add sufficient performance).

option 4: the US quits participating (2, Informative)

tlambert (566799) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877527)

option 4: the US quits participating, and they leave it in orbit and other countries continue to fly to it and to use it, as they currently do.

-- Terry

Re:option 4: the US quits participating (2, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877569)

The US has the responsibility to deorbit it. Whether they do that in 2016 or 2020 is a question of budget. The only way to not deorbit it would be transfer ownership and the new owner would have to be ITAR-compatible and be able to prove that they could deorbit it when they are done with it.

Re:option 4: the US quits participating (4, Interesting)

karstux (681641) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878401)

Why deorbit it at all? They could attach an ion drive to the station and slowly raise the orbit until it won't decay for another 500 years or so. The station can withstand that much acceleration. There's certainly space enough up there, it's not like it takes up valuable room... also, lifting all that mass into orbit has been so stupidly expensive, they should at least reserve the option to use it at some point in the future. Anything else is irresponsible.

At the very least, it would be an interesting machinery longevity experiment. Re-visit the station in 50 years or so, just to see how it has stood up to the environment up there. Also, at some point in the future it will be an archaeological artifact, and valuable to future historians.

Re:option 4: the US quits participating (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878567)

I mentioned this in another post (or two):

1. There's no ion engine that can do the job.
2. The US put it up, they're legally required to bring it down.

And finally:

3. The station barely functions now, it will not function after even 2 years of neglect, let alone 50.

Smarter people than you are working on this program, give em some credit.

Re:option 4: the US quits participating (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878695)

We spent billions on the parts and on putting the thing up there. If nothing else break apart the truss and stick smaller motors (ion, rocket, or otherwise) on the individual pieces and boost them up to a higher orbit.

Maybe the first stage of a Mars mission would be grabbing a spare module or two and a couple of big solar panels.

Re:option 4: the US quits participating (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878715)

What part of this don't you understand? The space environment is hard. Anything stored up there for too long deteriorates. Parts are made to last a certain amount of time. In the case of the ISS, the parts were made to last until the end of the program.

Re:option 4: the US quits participating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28878635)

Also, at some point in the future it will be an archaeological artifact, and valuable to future historians.

That's bullshit. Archeological artifacts are only useful to know more about their time. I'm not saying we should go out of our way to destroy it but preserving everything because it might at some point in the future be somewhat valuable to someone who hasn't even been born yet doesn't makes practical sense.

Re:option 4: the US quits participating (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878657)

Great idea! Ah... got a spare ion drive on you? I left mine at home.

Headed by Sally Ride? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28877631)

You do mean former Lockheed Martin CEO Norm Augustine, right? You know, where it says "CHAIRMAN" [nasa.gov] , it lists his name and everything.

Secondly, they haven't presented any options, yet. The report isn't done. This article pretty clearly states some of the constraints under which they've working, but some Slashdot Editing Magic(TM) has turned the panel's statement that ~"NASA needs a bigger budget and slightly longer timeframe to fly the flights already on schedule now" into what you see at the top of your browser.

Re:Headed by Sally Ride? (-1, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877641)

reading comprehension, you failed it.

Nope (-1, Flamebait)

SetupWeasel (54062) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877363)

The ISS is, was, and will continue to be a complete waste of money. As much as I love watching astronauts masturbating in space, we should decommission the station tomorrow and build a new one--a new station that can actually do something for a change. We need a space station that can be used for construction, even if it is only rudimentary, so we can start building the infrastructure necessary to use space travel for more than photo ops.

Re:Nope (4, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877457)

The ISS is the most amazing laboratory ever built. Vast amounts of awesome science is done on it. Thing is, NASA is so completely inept at communicating this to the public that even space geeks, like myself, have no idea what the hell they do up there.

The ISS program people will occasionally say "I could talk to you all day long about the great science we're doing on the ISS" and THEN THEY DON'T. Maybe if they talked "all day" about it now and then people wouldn't refer to their project as "busy work" for the space program.

But if you don't care about science, maybe you only care about exploration, then I guess you have to go with the argument that the lessons we've learnt about maintaining space systems on the space station will be invaluable for going to Mars.. and we're definitely not ready yet.

Re:Nope (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28877667)

Bob Park and the American Physical Society disagree.

Bob Park's testimony before US Senate re: ISS [spaceref.com]

 

"It is the view of the American Physical Society that scientific justification is lacking for a permanently manned space station in Earth orbit."
APS, 20 January 1991

The APS recently reaffirmed its statement, but the ISS, though still unfinished, is now in orbit. The question is, what do we do now?

Re:Nope (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877711)

I think all the people who's lives have been saved by the medical research done on the ISS would disagree.

You've gotta understand.. every scientist will say that the research of every other scientist is unworthy of being funded, because they want the funding for themselves.

There's vast amounts of work being done on the ISS.. and on the Shuttle for that matter.. but you've gotta dig to find it. Why? Because the media has repeatedly told NASA that it is boring and they don't wanna hear about it.

Science is boring.. yeah.. that's the society we live in.

Re:Nope (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28877779)

"What" live-saving medical research has been done on the Shuttle or ISS?

From the link above:

"No serious contributions to knowledge of protein structure or to drug discovery or design have yet been made in space." ASCB, July 9, 1998

"The enormous investment in protein crystal growth on the Shuttle and Mir has not led to a single unique scientific result." NRC, 1 March 2000

Don't get me wrong, I am very interested to hear about anything useful going on up there other than the super-cool factor (I am a big fan of NASA TV and watch often), but as you say it's just not being reported. Wait a sec, not being reported anywhere? Nobody's talking? Not even NASA? Not the scientists? Pardon me, but could you help an AC out with a few links? (/. won't let me log in to science.slashdot today for some reason even though the front page is no problem.)

aside: the preview of this post looks like crap. does AC not get any html formatting options? My apologies.

Re:Nope (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28878551)

To be fair, your quotations are a decade old, and the second one doesn't even mention ISS.

I'm not claiming to know anything to the contrary, but 10-year-old sound bites are not exactly strong evidence.

Re:Nope (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877877)

I think all the people who's lives have been saved by the medical research done on the ISS would disagree.

Such as?

Re:Nope (-1, Troll)

tetrahedrassface (675645) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877679)

the ISS sucks.

unNope (4, Insightful)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877681)

Well, vast amounts of science, as you say, could possibly be done on it. Thing is, not much of the possible science really started. The substantial delays in construction meant that the crew required to do the science, and many of the modules, didn't arrive until recently. That's why dumping the thing in a few short years is such a crime. $100 Billion, twenty years, and the lives of seven astronauts were given to build the ISS, and NASA wants to dump it to make room in their budget for an unfunded Mars stunt. The very plan is criminal.

Re:unNope (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877811)

The program ends in 2016. They *want* more money from Congress to extend that to 2020.. whether or not Congress will *give* them more money is the question..

I'd go into detail about all the fantastic research that is being done on the ISS, but I simply don't have the facts.. NASA doesn't make them publicly available, so all I can say is that if fantastic research is being done on the ISS then NASA should let us all know about it.. otherwise opinions like yours are perfectly reasonable.

As for science on Mars.. It's not a stunt, it's simply the case that putting humans on Mars is the best way to do science there. All the research that has been done by probes to-date will be exceeded in the first month of a ground mission (which, btw, will necessarily involve 18 month ground stays). The only possible argument you could make is that this research isn't necessary.. or that it doesn't matter whether it takes hundreds of years to do - which is much the same argument.

2016 (1)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878035)

Actually the program end is in 2015, with the de-orbit in 2016. This end, however, was pulled out of the previous NASA administrator's ass, when they realized the Bush administration wasn't going to come through with promised additional funding for Constellation / Orion / Aeries and flights to the Moon and Mars. NASA cancelled the ISS early, flushing the potential science down the toilet in anticipation of reallocating the projected funding to the Moon and Mars flights. They seriously annoyed their international partners (Japan, Europe, Russia) in the process. Don't let them fool you. I'm all in favor of expanded manned exploration, but I want it done right. Get the science we paid for out of the ISS. Build a launch system to reduce the cost of payload delivery to orbit, so that we can return to the Moon, and explore Mars and beyond with regular, sustained flight rates, not a political stunt once every fifty years or so.

Re:2016 (1)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878263)

You missed a few contributors... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iss [wikipedia.org]

Re:2016 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28878593)

Speaking of international partners, next time we build a space station, let's leave Russia out, or at least get them to agree to a reasonable orbit -- something we could use as a jumping-off point for more distant missions (manned or otherwise). The current ISS orbit is unwieldy for just about everyone, fairly expensive to reach (in terms of fuel), and totally unsuitable for use as an orbital launch point -- all to accommodate launches from silly places like Kazakhstan.

Re:unNope (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877815)

That's why dumping the thing in a few short years is such a crime. $100 Billion, twenty years, and the lives of seven astronauts were given to build the ISS, and NASA wants to dump it to make room in their budget for an unfunded Mars stunt. The very plan is criminal.

Read this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunk_costs#Loss_aversion_and_the_sunk_cost_fallacy [wikipedia.org]

Obama's Administration has been especially keen to cut projects that are supposedly too large to kill. That isn't to say I disagree with you, it's just that years ago Bush set in motion a bureaucracy that is committed to removing the shuttle and ISS programs.

fallacious analogy (2, Interesting)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878003)

This isn't an issue of sunk costs. It's an issue of entirely failing to capitalize upon the investment made, failing to do the science that the ISS was designed to do, the science that the public expected to happen when they funded the construction of the science platform. I merely enumerate the costs to demonstrate the magnitude of the crime that NASA and the Bush administration committed when they suddenly announced, without consulting their international partners, that the ISS would be de-orbited in 2016, far short of its original planned lifespan as a research platform. It was originally intended to be operational for 10 to 20 years, not four or five years, after it was completed.

Re:unNope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28877995)

Actually, those seven astronauts died coming home from a non-ISS mission.

Re:unNope (2, Informative)

diamondsw (685967) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878045)

> the lives of seven astronauts

Hey now, don't drag Columbia into this. If anything, it was abundantly clear that mission had NOTHING to do with the ISS - it wasn't even vaguely in the same orbit.

Your other points are good, and are immediately dismissed by this hyperbole.

Re:Nope (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28878041)

Also don't forget, the ISS *is* the main experiment. Going to Mars or building a real permanent station are orders of magnitude harder than going to the moon, and we need this experience in everything from design and material choices to international collaboration. Every time something breaks in the station, it's not a failure - it's value, because we sure as hell don't want the same thing breaking on a trip to Mars.

Re:Nope (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878377)

The ISS is the most amazing laboratory ever built. Vast amounts of awesome science is done on it. Thing is, NASA is so completely inept at communicating this to the public that even space geeks, like myself, have no idea what the hell they do up there.

If you don't know what the hell they do up there, how do you know "vast amounts of awesome science" is done in it? I have yet to hear of one little tiny bit of actual science (awesome or not) they've done that couldn't have been done in a much cheaper way.

Re:Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28878455)

No one is going to Mars. We have such massive problems on this planet, that our not solving these problems will get us in trouble soon. And no Mars program of any nation will survive these crises. India will not be able to do it, Russia, China, Europe, Japan, and USA have to decide if they are willing to get their primary energy system shifted from fossil energy and nuclear energy to renewable energy sources, also they have to look into world feeding, reacting to climate change etc. They are not doing anything right now so the problems grow. And yes most parts of these problems are not technical issues, nevertheless they are complicated and will eat up any resources for nice extra tours like ISS or Mars. Don't get me wrong I like space programs, but honestly they are the most expendable project in any budget beside new military hardware. Oh wait the US will not but that many Raptors and the EU will not by that many A400M, Eurofighters etc.

One has to wonder... (1, Interesting)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877425)

Why no other country had succeeded yet in developing technologies that could mimic what the space shuttle could do in order to supply the "International" Space station after the United States retire the shuttles. (with the exception of Russia)

In reality the United States space programs are still quite advanced than most of the world (even with such old technologies) and yet you guys are neglecting it.

Re:One has to wonder... (2, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877581)

Because going from "we should build a space rocket thingy" to getting into that kind of orbit is extremely expensive. We've built NASA over 50 years of continuous research and have veterans running the administration that have worked there their entire career. You can't just stuff a bunch of engineering grads in a building with calculators and piles of money and let them cook like we did, unless you want to give them 50 years and several horrible disasters. And once you have the thing designed and built, it has to be extensively (expensively) refitted and repaired after every launch.

And what are the material gains? Nothing, because you could have just let America pay for it and give you the research for free anyway.

getting to orbit cheaper, X-33 (VenturStar) (4, Insightful)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877869)

That's one of the major problems with the current Constellation / Orion / Aeries I / Aeries V / Moon / Mars plan. Although it's likely to be quite a bit more reliable (e.g. safer) to fly, the Constellation program doesn't do much to increase access to space. Constellation re-uses the Apollo/Shuttle launch infrastructure, with only two launch pads and two (or possibly 3, there is an unfunded plan to build one more) crawlers, and the constraints of the Vertical Assembly Building (with a limited number of assembly bays, one of which is used for storage of rocket parts). This means the flight rate to orbit tops out at something like a dozen or 18 launches a year, maximum. Flight rates for the heavy lift Aeries V are likely to be so low that the vehicle will never achieve a reasonable per-flight cost, because too few vehicles will be built to get the cost of flight hardware down.

NASA has abandoned the goal of building a reliable, cheaper transportation system. They were hot on the trail with the X-33 / VentureStar [wikipedia.org] program. Like nearly all R&D programs, it went over the original budget and behind schedule. However, the program had the right goals, and the right basic plan for getting to them. If NASA had stayed on course, we would have had a replacement for the Shuttle by now. The planned VentureStar production flight vehicles would be flexible enough to sustain the ISS. It would have a capacity high enough (in terms of payload per flight, which was similar to the Shuttle) and flights per year (which could scale with the addition of vehicles, without the constraints of the expensive and limited Apollo-era launch systems). The modernized vehicle design (lifting body airframe, engines with fewer moving parts, substantially more durable thermal protection system, simplified container-paradigm-based payload integration) would yield shorter turn-around of a single vehicle, from days to a couple weeks, compared to a few months to several months for the Shuttle).

Instead, NASA dabbles in scramjets, with a million here and a million there in loose change. Scramjets are a technology with great potential, but even if aggressively funded (which they are not) they won't be ready for a long, long time. A more modest program like the X-33 / VentureStar could get us to higher flight rates with Shuttle-like capacity and reduction in cost of payload delivery which would be substantial enough to stimulate the space economy. We could get to the Moon and Mars a lot cheaper, and go there more often with a rational approach to building a transportation system. (NASA needs to rethink the in-space transfer vehicles, too. VASIMR is a technology within our reach, and if developed as the inter-planetary engine, can dramatically reduce flight times to Mars, from many months to 1 month.)

Re:getting to orbit cheaper, X-33 (VenturStar) (2, Insightful)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878629)

NASA has abandoned the goal of building a reliable, cheaper transportation system. They were hot on the trail with the X-33 / VentureStar program. Like nearly all R&D programs, it went over the original budget and behind schedule. However, the program had the right goals, and the right basic plan for getting to them.

I was with you right up until you mentioned the X-33. The X-33 would've tested some really neat technologies, but the way to test previously-untested new technologies is NOT to cram them all into one spacecraft which relies on all of them working to succeed. Rather, one creates a number of simple spacecraft which test all the technologies individually. The X-33 approach was just asking for failure.

That, and I'm rather more partial to the DC-X [wikipedia.org] approach to single-stage to orbit. It relied on already-existing technologies, cost a fraction of the X-33 and actually flew a number of test flights, until it was canceled so NASA could focus more on the X-33.

Re:One has to wonder... (2, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878687)

Why no other country had succeeded yet in developing technologies that could mimic what the space shuttle could do in order to supply the "International" Space station after the United States retire the shuttles. (with the exception of Russia)

Sally Ride mentioned this in her Augustine Committee presentation, but other countries do have this tech, and will have it ready to service the ISS in a few years. There's also the COTS options as well. I thought it was kind of bizarre when Sally Ride immediately said afterwards that she didn't think they would be able to reduce the gap, without explaining her rationale.

Anyways, here's the options:

* Russian Soyuz
* ESA's ATV [wikipedia.org]
* Japan's HTV [wikipedia.org]
* SpaceX Dragon [wikipedia.org]
* Orbital Taurus II [wikipedia.org]

There's also the EELVs (Delta IV and Atlas V), but the designs for delivering to the ISS haven't been funded yet. The estimates are that those would be ready for delivering humans to the ISS in 3-4 years, and could presumably deliver cargo much earlier.

Decommission Shuttle at the station (2, Interesting)

crow (16139) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877427)

If they're going to decommission a shuttle, why not leave it at the station? It would provide some redundant facilities, extra living space, and most importantly, engines to boost the orbit periodically (one of the main things the shuttles do now besides delivering supplies and new components).

Re:Decommission Shuttle at the station (5, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877491)

It'd stop working about about a month or two and that'd just be more facility for the Russians to spend time repairing.

The Shuttle simply isn't speced for long term exposure to space. The fact that it doesn't fall apart for the 14 days that it is typically on-orbit is a result of constant care and attention on the ground.

Re:Decommission Shuttle at the station (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877981)

Wow. And I thought I was cynical about the shuttle....

Re:Decommission Shuttle at the station (3, Funny)

beckett (27524) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878269)

sometimes, all you need is a working toilet.

Re:Decommission Shuttle at the station (0)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877547)

The problem is, with any luck and without a repeat of Columbia, there is going to be a shuttle-sized crater somewhere. The ISS is not designed to survive re-entry, the shuttle is. To ensure a safe re-entry for people on the ground, it would require either the removal of tiles (would require a separate mission) or the intentional crippling of the shuttle before launch (could be unsafe).

Re:Decommission Shuttle at the station (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28877663)

why not just guide it to hit the atmosphere upside down?

Re:Decommission Shuttle at the station (2, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877757)

If they're going to decommission a shuttle, why not leave it at the station?

Because it will die twenty odd days after docking if used as redundant facilities, forty odd days if nearly completely powered down. Even if ISS could power Shuttle (which it currently cannot), the Shuttle uses canisters to scrub CO2 from the atmosphere rather than a molecular sieve. (And ventilation hoses cannot be run through the hatches for safety reasons.)
 
There's more problems than those, but those are the biggies.

Re:Decommission Shuttle at the station (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878093)

How many hundred canisters could you stack in the cargo bay? I think if I were trying to solve this, I'd take the shuttle, build an empty SpaceLab module, fill half of it with fuel cells and half of it with additional tanks for the OMS engines. Fill all the sleeping quarters with filter canisters since nobody would be sleeping on the shuttle anyway. Add power connectors on the outside of the module so you could crack the CBDs and use it as an auxiliary power source for the station if things went wrong....

Re:Decommission Shuttle at the station (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878153)

What about leaving it attached as a large life boat with remote control of the telemetry system for orbit adjustments? Would the shuttle take much power if it wasn't supporting life support systems but just keeping itself in the right temperature range for systems to function?

Re:Decommission Shuttle at the station (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878305)

Absolute maximum power down still only buys you (IIRC) fifty to sixty days before the Shuttle dies.

Re:Decommission Shuttle at the station (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877845)

How exactly do you think the astronauts will get back to earth *alive* then?

Re:Decommission Shuttle at the station (3, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878105)

Soyuz capsules, of course. Same way everybody else on the station gets back to Earth.

VASIMR ion engine to be tested at ISS (1)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877901)

I don't know how they plan to get this to the ISS, but Ad Astra and NASA agreed to test VASIMR ion engine at ISS [spacefellowship.com] . Assuming they can resupply the engine, and the engine parts designed life is sufficient, even this test article could work to keep ISS on station for quite a while. The Russian resupply vehicles (Progress) periodically boost the station, too.

They forgot the eBay option (3, Funny)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877431)

Almost New - In orbit. Space Station. NR

Shipping - no delivery options. Get there yourself.

Re:They forgot the eBay option (2, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877463)

Actually, there's ITAR restrictions on selling the station to anyone who would conceivably want it.

Can you believe that? The Russians have daily access to the ISS but selling it to them would be an ITAR issue.

Not that there's any evidence they are willing or able to buy it.

Can you believe that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28877957)

Yes.

No matter how bad anarchy may be, "the rule of law" can be far worse, with the organization to back it up.

Re:They forgot the eBay option (1)

ppanon (16583) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878183)

If anybody would want to buy it, it would be the Chinese. They have the dollars to spare these days.

WTF isnt a space station permanent? (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877461)

Can someone please explain to me why they're spending such vast sums and not taking the necessary steps to insure permanence?

You don't settle something by building tents, you build crude wooden structures, add to them, modernize them, then one day you look around you and its a bustling township.

Space will not become commercially viable until the government funded projects provide permanent way-points.

Imagine building a second ISS nearby, anchoring the two together, and setting them spinning to provide artificial gravity. Then you would have a healthier permanent environment with the capacity to add zero-g modules at the central point for research.

Re:WTF isnt a space station permanent? (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877501)

Every space station is temporary. Eventually things start to fail (see MIR) and end up becoming very expensive to maintain or unsafe to keep sending missions.

Re:WTF isnt a space station permanent? (3, Interesting)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877657)

Every space station is temporary. Eventually things start to fail (see MIR) and end up becoming very expensive to maintain or unsafe to keep sending missions.

This is not how commercially viable megastructures work though! and that's my point!

Modern commercial structures are bipartite, consisting of a permanent shell and a modular interior. Think of any modern office building or strip mall. When one company moves out its a matter of simple retrofitting to get the next tenant company at home and functioning.

This is how a space station SHOULD work. It should have a permanent shell capable of containing life support, modular, easily replaced apparatus for essentials (air and water supply/purification), and an interior which is easily fitted and re-fitted as necessary.

Doubleplusgood points for artificial gravity through rotation to prevent bone loss of employees for future commercial tenants.

Re:WTF isnt a space station permanent? (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877703)

Nice idea, but it won't get off the ground. Literally. Too many payload constraints to really do that sort of thing. Everything pushed into space has to be really thought about, weighed, tested and re thought about.

You're reading too many Science Fiction novels again. No Russian scrubbers piloted by stoned Rostas. No shuttle tanks parked in orbit.

At least for a while. Let's get Mr. Fusion working and then look at these issues.

Re:WTF isnt a space station permanent? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877725)

There are a few problems with that.

A) Space currently is not a commercial venture in 2009. The fact that Virgin Galactic doesn't have a base on the moon is proof of that. Currently you need a ton of funding to even get a single person in space.

B) It currently costs a -ton- of money to get someone to a stable orbit that won't decay in a few years. Even the space shuttle can't even make it that high.

C) You also fail to see that what you consider "permanent" generally isn't. Even a simple thing such as a broken hose can be a matter of life or death. Eventually things start to wear out and they aren't easy to replace.

Space stations are designed for one thing, for scientific experiments. They are a huge labyrinth of wires, hoses, scientific instruments, etc. And the fact that they can't be cleaned is another big difference. You can't exactly just decide one day to bring it back and scrub it out.

Re:WTF isnt a space station permanent? (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877887)

There are a few problems with that.

A) Space currently is not a commercial venture in 2009. The fact that Virgin Galactic doesn't have a base on the moon is proof of that. Currently you need a ton of funding to even get a single person in space.

B) It currently costs a -ton- of money to get someone to a stable orbit that won't decay in a few years. Even the space shuttle can't even make it that high.

C) You also fail to see that what you consider "permanent" generally isn't. Even a simple thing such as a broken hose can be a matter of life or death. Eventually things start to wear out and they aren't easy to replace.

Space stations are designed for one thing, for scientific experiments. They are a huge labyrinth of wires, hoses, scientific instruments, etc. And the fact that they can't be cleaned is another big difference. You can't exactly just decide one day to bring it back and scrub it out.

A - America is not a commercial vendor in 1492, the fact that the dutch east india company is not trading there is proof of that.

B - it currently costs a TON of money to establish a colony in america that can actually become sustainable in the next decade.

c - you also fail to see that what you consider "permanent" generally isn't. It takes a long time for a colony to reach the point it can become truly independent, and we, the spanish crown, simply can't afford that.

see the parallels i'm trying to illustrate now?
without initial government intervention to establish real footholds in space, there will NEVER be commercial activity or viable colonization.

If the attitude which prevails today were the norm in 1492 the US would still belong to the indians and hitler would rule the rest of the world.

Re:WTF isnt a space station permanent? (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877977)

I would like to point out that the Spanish got jack all for their empire. They blew all the gold and silver they could dig out of the ground on the 16th century of hookers and blow (hookers and soldiers), and then left the colonies to rot. There's a reason Latin America was such a political basket case for the first 150 years following Independence.

The British by comparison just kept sending people to die until they overwhelmed any problems with sheer numbers. That seemed to work much better. Moral: Don't bother with expensive ships or soldiers. Just ship poor dumb hicks who sold themselves into indentured servitude there and wish them luck. They'll figure it out on their own, then we can tax them until they revolt!

Re:WTF isnt a space station permanent? (1)

mano.m (1587187) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878301)

Normally, this would be a Straw Man argument. But in the honour of the scale you have employed, I hereby nominate this a Straw First Lord Admiral of the Ocean Sea argument. It didn't cost a ship's weight in gold to reach America. It didn't endanger entire ships to have one mast malfunction, nor were they being torpedoed every minute of the way (see also, micrometeorites). Space isn't a vast, fertile land which already supports hundreds of humans, as well as acres thriving with game. Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence, as McCoy would say. And if your analogy must be used, building space stations isn't the equivalent of founding a colony in the Americas. It is the equivalent of lashing together planks to build an enormous island smack in the middle of the Pond.

Re:WTF isnt a space station permanent? (3, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878717)

The modular approach you describe is more-or-less what Bigelow Aerospace [wikipedia.org] is doing with their private space stations. It'll also be flying at a higher orbit than the ISS, so should suffer less from atmospheric drag problems.

Re:WTF isnt a space station permanent? (2, Interesting)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877669)

Everything starts to fall, except those things that aren't actually falling. Geosynchronous Orbit is incredibly stable, e.g. Satellites that fail in GEO are just pushed higher, simply because it'd cost so much in the way of energy to push them down into the atmosphere.

Which leads us to the real reason we aren't aiming for permanency yet. Those orbits are very high. While other vehicles could reach it reasonably, our main space construction workhorse, the Space Shuttle, couldn't. It's too heavy and doesn't have a way to propel itself to such a high orbit, and most likely would never survive it.

So great, you can stick a space station way up there. Just don't expect the people in it to be coming home any time soon (or on the other side of things, be prepared to spend a new hundred billion to half trillion dollars over twenty years developing a vehicle that can get you there and back).

Re:WTF isnt a space station permanent? (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877523)

It has a mass of 303t.. and it is in such a low orbit that atmospheric drag is still a major effect.. so you've got to boost that vast mass back into its orbit every couple of months.

The "permanent" adjective applied to the station means that it is "permanently manned" - as in, there is always someone on-board for as long as the station is up there.

People are often talking about moving the ISS into an orbit that is more useful for exploration.. say, an orbit that crosses the inclination of the Moon now and then. Basic calculations though, show that any attempt to "move" the ISS would cost as much delta-v as launching a brand new station.. and as launch costs remain the major dominating factor in space activities, you might as well make a new station.

Re:WTF isnt a space station permanent? (2, Interesting)

radtea (464814) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877743)

and as launch costs remain the major dominating factor in space activities, you might as well make a new station.

Piffle.

There are dozens of ways of moving the ISS into a higher orbit. Let's start experimenting with them today.

The only reason for decommissioning it in 2016 (or 2020) is the routine inability of the American government to actually do anything, coupled with the imperialist need to prevent anyone else from doing anything.

Launch costs are spread nicely across the various states, giving a political incentive to support the ISS while the shuttle is flying. Once it isn't, the political incentive dies and with it the support of the dysfunctional American government.

Oh, and does anyone believe that that same dysfunctional government is going to get a shuttle replacement flying with a 5 - 7 year gap? I'd like to hear RIGHT NOW from every self-righteous asshole who is waiting to tell us seven years from now that OF COURSE EVERYONE KNOWS that EVERY PROGRAM goes VASTLY over-schedule. If you know it right now, then put the correction factor in now. I'm betting 13 years for the shuttle replacement to fly, based on past NASA incompetence. Anyone who knows different, speak now or shut the fuck up in seven years when the program is still seven years from flight.

Re:WTF isnt a space station permanent? (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877999)

He wasn't talking about a higher orbit. He was talking about an orbital plane change.

Say it with me now: Plane changes are expensive.

Re:WTF isnt a space station permanent? (2, Insightful)

markringen (1501853) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877579)

particles in space will eventually destroy everything. the Russian mir was full of holes at the end of it's life. but till date it was the safest space station ever created by man, the same people also made 75% of the ISS :P (Russians yup)

Re:WTF isnt a space station permanent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28877589)

You build crude wooden structures, then you tear them down and build brick structures, then eventually you tear them down and build skyscrapers.

In orbit, there's tons of space, so you won't need to tear the old one down to make room, but still at some point, it won't be worth upkeep as-is, and ROI will be better on building a new one than upgrading the old one. Knowing this level of non-permanence exists, you can save money by deliberately designing a temporary structure, based on the approximate lifetime, instead of a "permanent" structure that you know won't be needed

Re:WTF isnt a space station permanent? (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877607)

Atmospheric drag brings the ISS down 2km per month according to the wikipedia infobox.

Unless you want to pay ten times as much to get it into a much higher orbit, you're not going to have "permanence". But I definitely agree; it doesn't really make much sense to be decommissioning it in a few years when it's still under construction..

Re:WTF isnt a space station permanent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28877621)

One thing watching the History Channel teaches me is that...maintenance is constant. It is not possible to just put a space station up there and it continue to work without spending further money. All things decay and need to be repaired.

Now consider, a space station is far far beyond the reach of the vast majority of the planet's capacity.

Turns out it's simpler to just decide at some point you're better off writing off the old place and building new. Given that it happens here on Earth, why is it a surprise that it happens in Space? Yes, believe it or not, some people buy homes and then bulldoze them because they want the location, but not the house.

the persistent myth of the way-points in space (1)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877927)

Although a space station as a "construction shack" might be useful for really large projects, the ISS isn't in the right orbit to be used as a way station to anywhere interesting. Smaller projects can be assembled easily in whatever orbit happens to be convenient for the mission. A mobile construction shack with an ion engine and appropriately outfitted for such duty would make more sense and cost less than retooling ISS for this new mission. The real issue is the cost of getting to orbit. It's way too high. If we don't do something to bring the cost down (something realistic like X-33/VentureStar, not over-reaching like NASP et. al.) then we will not see anything other than a series of changing plans, and missions aborted at a succession of funding crises. We might, maybe, see a return to the Moon for a few flights, which would then be terminated prematurely to make room in the budget for a series of flights to Mars, which are then cancelled before flown.

How about... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877521)

How about using Russian-made spacecraft to do resupply missions and to ferry people back and forth from the station. The Shuttle fleet is unsafe, every mission becomes closer to failure. And honestly, they are becoming quickly obsolete, they were released what, over 20 years ago? We need a replacement. However, the ISS seems to be doing its job pretty well without any major errors. But really, NASA needs to hurry up to make a new spacecraft fleet, the Space Shuttle relies on a flawed design that seems to only get reviewed after a major disaster (see Challenger and Columbia). Plus, despite how much of it is re-usuable, it is terribly expensive to maintain them compared to other methods of resupply, etc.

Re:How about... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877557)

The problem is down mass. The shuttle has it, no other vehicle does, and the station was designed to require it.

Say something breaks on-orbit that can't be fixed there.. do you just send up a new part? That will cost a lot more than sending the part down, having it repaired, and sending it back up.

Re:How about... (3, Insightful)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878265)

do you just send up a new part? That will cost a lot more than sending the part down, having it repaired, and sending it back up.

I suspect it will cost insignificantly more. The launch is usually the expensive part, not the construction of whatever it was that broke.

The Space Shuttle was designed to be able to capture and to return to Earth satellites in orbit. It even did so a couple of times. Just enough to demonstrate that it wasn't worth doing, and that it was far more cost-effective to let dead satellites go and just put up a new one.

Re:How about... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878559)

What can I say? Dr Sally Ride disagrees with you.. and who the hell are you?

Put ya ego aside for a moment.

Re:How about... (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878733)

The problem is down mass. The shuttle has it, no other vehicle does, and the station was designed to require it.

Honest question: How many times has that down-mass capability actually been used? I don't know of any time the "bring broken ISS equipment back to the ground" scenario you describe ever occurred, although I might just be unaware.

Re:How about... (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878217)

The space shuttle fleet met the design spec (1% failure) almost perfectly, Challenger was not a technological failure but a bureaucratic one. The design spec and the engineers said not to launch Challenger but the boneheads who wanted to look good decided to force the issue and launch over the objection of the people who are paid to analyze such things.

Ion engine? (3, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877771)

Couldn't they attach an ion engine and let the solar panel's power keep it in orbit if by chance it becomes unmanned for a while?

Re:Ion engine? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877829)

There's no ion engine that can lift 303t. Maybe VASIMR will be operational one day.. but it's been in development since 1979, so don't bet on it.

VASIMR (5, Informative)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878051)

Near the end of 2008, Ad Astra and NASA signed an agreement to build a 200kw flight article and test it at ISS.

Re:VASIMR (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878101)

ya.. and we'll see how well it goes.

They've taken 30 years to go from TRL1 [wikipedia.org] to TRL5(ish) and meanwhile the rest of the community have focused on actual attainable thrusters.

It's provided many a great PhD thesis (or ten) but I wouldn't expect anything operational soon..

Remember the ultimate goal is nuclear.. fission, then fusion.

Re:Ion engine? (5, Funny)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878055)

There's no ion engine that can lift 303t.

then use two.

I'm temped to suggest a beowulf cluster of ion engines, but I don't want to take the karma hit.

Honestly, the answer is so simple! And I'm just a normal person who can't even do long division. How is it that I know all the answers to solving the ISS problems when these NASA engineers can't seem to figure it out? for serious...

Re:Ion engine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28878561)

There's no ion engine that can lift 303t.

There's no ion engine that can lift even 1 kg against Earth's gravity - which is why they're useless for launchers. But for keeping the ISS in orbit, it doesn't matter if your thrust is tiny, so long as you can maintain it.

China Help? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877817)

China had been eager to participate in the ISS, but the Bush admin felt it was a military-technology risk to let them. Maybe upon review it's not risky anymore due to time making technology used less sensitive or because the Bush admin was perhaps unnecessarily paranoid. Russia probably sold China all the ISS secrets anyhow.

Re:China Help? (1)

caladine (1290184) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878107)

Or they just stole it from us directly [bbc.co.uk] (or from /. here [slashdot.org] )...

Third (and final) meeting being broadcast Thursday (3, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878573)

For those interested, the third and final meeting will be broadcast Thursday, running from 8am - 4pm EDT:

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/NASA-TV-HD [ustream.tv]
http://www.hobbyspace.com/nucleus/index.php?itemid=14237 [hobbyspace.com]
http://twitter.com/search?q=%23nasahsf [twitter.com]

I think the Thursday meeting will be the most interesting one, as it'll include the presentations from the "Exploration Beyond Low Earth Orbit" [slashdot.org] subgroup. Some options the subgroup is studying include not just the "Moon Base" plan, but also plans for going directly to Mars ASAP, as well as a "Flexible path" option which would involve manned trips to destinations in shallow gravity wells, like L1, asteroids and Phobos.

The videos from the Tuesday and Wednesday meetings aren't available yet, but you can find out much of what's been discussed already at the following links:

HSF Committee Public Meeting in Alabama - Reviews [hobbyspace.com]
HSF Committee Public Meeting in Houston - Reviews [hobbyspace.com]
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=17962.0 [nasaspaceflight.com]

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?