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Cool NASA Tech That Will Never See Space

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the best-garage-sale-ever dept.

NASA 324

coondoggie writes to tell us that with the "new and improved" NASA budget on the way it looks like many of the cool projects NASA has in the works will never see the light of day, let alone space. The biggest cut looks to be the Ares heavy lift rocket but other cuts include a new composite spacecraft, deep space network, inflatable lunar habitat, and an electric moon-buggie.

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324 comments

NASA needs more budget. (4, Insightful)

hayd (1734904) | more than 4 years ago | (#30981672)

It's sad really and NASA is definitely who should get more budget. It's the idiotic short-sighted quick-profit thinking again. We are draining Earth resources and should try to expand to space. If it wasn't for NASA we wouldn't ever have visited or learned so much more about Earth. This way we never get intergalactic flights nor can live on other planets.

Re:NASA needs more budget. (-1, Troll)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30981760)

Republicans may have it right on this one..
Use up all the resources we have in the USA, thus space will be more inviting
Scorched earth baby, WOO!

FACEBOOK AND TWITTER!!!!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30982330)

Oh lol look on every article lulz haha see lets make a tweet and send it 2 all R friendz lol.
 
What a frelling waste now. Slashdot == Digg DIE IN A FIRE SLASHDOT

Re:FACEBOOK AND TWITTER!!!!!! (0, Offtopic)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982612)

Doesn't really bother me too much, but it has these stupid link underlines on Opera [yfrog.com] . While a tiny thing, it's incredibly annoying looking.

Re:NASA needs more budget. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30982664)

While your mom and the rest of the democrats are living in bunkers going for "Survival of the dumbest and richest".

Re:NASA needs more budget. (0)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30981856)

It's sad really and NASA is definitely who should get more budget. It's the idiotic short-sighted quick-profit thinking again.

Quick-profit? The budget cuts were done to make us slightly less in the red, not to make "profits."

Re:NASA needs more budget. (1)

Jhon (241832) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982560)

Because we all know that no private sector profit ever came from manned space exploration...

Re:NASA needs more budget. (5, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 4 years ago | (#30981940)

Maybe NASA could sell or license some of this "cool tech" to private industry. The private sector would have more to work with and the space agency would get more money for the projects they are left to focus on. And maybe some of the specialists at NASA could fork their own companies with the technology, keeping more people employed.

Maybe they already do this. But the tone of the post makes it sound like they don't.

Re:NASA needs more budget. (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30981992)

Bigelow Aerospace works on some cool tech that was previously under NASA umbrella. So it's certainly possible.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bigelow_Aerospace

Re Bigelow Aerospace. (1)

thomst (1640045) | more than 4 years ago | (#30983220)

Bob Bigelow is a Las Vegas slumlord. His minions are notorious for abrogating rental agreements on whim, evicting tenants without notice, and generally behaving as if they're above the law.

His vision is to build slums in space. The guy is a swine.

Re:NASA needs more budget. (2, Insightful)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30983112)

Maybe NASA could sell or license some of this "cool tech" to private industry. The private sector would have more to work with and the space agency would get more money for the projects they are left to focus on. And maybe some of the specialists at NASA could fork their own companies with the technology, keeping more people employed.

Maybe they already do this. But the tone of the post makes it sound like they don't.

The problem is that there's little immediate return on investment.

Sure, give it a few years and we get nifty things like GPS and freeze-dried ice cream... But in the short term it's just pure science. And nobody likes pure science anymore.

Re:NASA needs more budget. (4, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30981958)

...If it wasn't for NASA we wouldn't ever have visited or learned so much more about Earth....

Hmmm...
1st object in space - Germany
1st Earth satellite - Soviet Union
1st human in orbit - Soviet Union
1st photograph of far side of the Moon - Soviet Union
1st landing on the Moon - Soviet Union
1st rover on another body - Soviet Union
1st large biological specimens outside LEO (around the Moon, in a Zond version of Soyuz...turtles ;p ) and brought back safely - Soviet Union
1st landing on Venus - Soviet Union
1st landing on Mars - Soviet Union
1st space station - Soviet Union (BTW, the Russian part of ISS was supposed to be called "Mir 2")

And so on. In the meantime Europe could afford to play the game and they ended up being the biggest, I think, commercial launch operator(?). Or of the biggest anyway. With their ATV they are a small step from having manned spaceflight capability. China has one already, India is working on it, Japan has some plans too, and all are quite active in Solar System exploration. Plus you have private companies.

I think we'll be fine

Re:NASA needs more budget. (2, Funny)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982210)

Plus you have private companies.

I think we'll be fine

I'm kinda concerned about Weyland-Yutani's business practices though

Re:NASA needs more budget. (5, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982356)

I'm kinda concerned about Weyland-Yutani's business practices though

I dunno, their motto isn't all bad: "Do no evil. On Earth."

Re:NASA needs more budget. (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982480)

Exactly, I wouldn't worry too much about them. What worries me more is the Umbrella Corporation, and they're doing some serious shit on earth.

Re:NASA needs more budget. (2, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982712)

Exactly, I wouldn't worry too much about them. What worries me more is the Umbrella Corporation, and they're doing some serious shit on earth.

Yeah, but I hear they're about to go IPO...

Re:NASA needs more budget. (4, Informative)

qmetaball (1645933) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982422)

That's all well and good you see, but it was the competition with the US that drove them to do those things, it was called the "space race" for a reason.

Re:NASA needs more budget. (4, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982444)

Sorry, Mr Checkov, you are mistaken. The Soviets neither landed on nor put a rover on the moon before the US (we landed manned moon buggies), and the Germans weren't the first to put an object in space, that was in fact the Soviets. The US went to the edge of space with the X-15 plane, but the Soviets beat us (and the Germans) to space proper.

The Soviets also put the first satellite in space.

"Interesting" would have been an accurate mod, but informative it was not. More like misinformative.

Re:NASA needs more budget. (2, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982586)

and the Germans weren't the first to put an object in space, that was in fact the Soviets

I think he was referring to the V2.

Re:NASA needs more budget. (3, Interesting)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982600)

The German V-2 was capable of reaching space in a vertical launch with a light payload. Whether any ever did or not is not clear. The many thousands that were launched were generally not vertically launched.

Re:NASA needs more budget. (2, Informative)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982876)

Yes they were [youtube.com] (44sec). Ballistic trajectories for long range are basically vertical at the surface.

Check your info... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982628)

Look up the altitude of some A-4 flights, a very German rocket. "Space" doesn't mean orbit, it simply means, well, space.

Also, look up Luna 9, the first moon landing. And Lunokhods (yeah, I somehow subssribe to "rover = unmanned", as you said yourself US ones were moon buggies)

Re:NASA needs more budget. (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982654)

The Germans put a V2 in "space".
The Russians put Luna 2 on the moon 10 years before Apollo 11.

1st photographs from space ... USA. (they were pictures of the Earth)

Re:NASA needs more budget. (3, Informative)

jbezorg (1263978) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982708)

The Soviets also put the first satellite in space.

But they didn't put "the first object in space". The first "Man made object in space" by all official records is the German V2 Rocket test number V-4 made on 3 October 1942.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_V-2_test_launches [wikipedia.org]

As for the rest of your facts, I would suggest you check them. They may or may not be correct but I'm short on time to fact check them all.

Re:NASA needs more budget. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30982730)

The only reason why the US didn't put a satellite in orbit first was because of a bureaucratic nightmare. The Navy and not the Army was the agency that was awarded the contract to build "vanguard". Jupiter could have put an object into orbit quite a bit sooner but the DoD had a pissing contest. Plus to Eisenhower it wasn't deemed that important. Also, Korolev saw what he thought were failed Jupiter launches and pushed up his schedule for Sputnik.

Re:NASA needs more budget. (1)

oh2 (520684) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982740)

You are wrong, Sir. German A-4 rockets, better known as v-2, reached outer space as early as the forties, making them first man made objects in space. The Soviet Lunokhod 1 landed on the moon in november 1970, the first use of a lunar rover. Apollo 15 was the first American use of a rover on the moon, nine months later. In fact, the soviet space program landed a probe on the moon in 1959, the Luna 2.

Re:NASA needs more budget. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30983164)

The first lunar rover was Lunokhod 1, which landed on November 17, 1970:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunokhod_1

  The first Apollo rover landed a few months later with Apollo 15:

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

  The first object in space was the V-2:

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_was_the_first_man-made_object_in_space

  The X-15 didn't reach space until 1963, while Yuri Gagarin's flight was in 1961:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-15#Operational_history
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuri_Gagarin

  Your remark about the Soviets putting the first satellite in orbit is the second statement of the grandparent, so, really, you didn't even reach line 2?
  Everything else you said was plain wrong.

Re:NASA needs more budget. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30982550)

Hmmm...
1st object in space - Germany
1st Earth satellite - Soviet Union
1st human in orbit - Soviet Union
1st photograph of far side of the Moon - Soviet Union
1st landing on the Moon - Soviet Union
1st rover on another body - Soviet Union
1st large biological specimens outside LEO (around the Moon, in a Zond version of Soyuz...turtles ;p ) and brought back safely - Soviet Union
1st landing on Venus - Soviet Union
1st landing on Mars - Soviet Union
1st space station - Soviet Union

Its so WEIRD man, I could have sworn he was talking about what we learned about earth! not the moon, or Venus.. or Mars... so weird man

Re:NASA needs more budget. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30982798)

As long as we learn to speak another language and follow the communist doctrine.

Only point I'd like to make... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30982856)

is that the list of 'Soviet firsts' should really be 'captured German engineers working for the Soviets firsts'.

And the later 'American firsts' ought to be 'captured German engineers working for the Americans firsts'.

I can't think of any early space-flight that did not depend on lots of German know-how and support. Perhaps the British 'Black Knight' and 'Blue Streak' programs, which were pretty well entirely home-grown. But even they only did this because the Germans had shown that it could be done first....

Re:Only point I'd like to make... (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#30983118)

This is so true it's sad that your AC status lends it no score...

Re:NASA needs more budget. (4, Interesting)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982860)

People often forget that there are other history books being written in other languages and in other countries, and they emphasize slightly different achievements.

In North America, you've got to be a history or space buff to know this stuff. Or a commie!

Re:NASA needs more budget. (1)

Peter H.S. (38077) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982132)

It's sad really and NASA is definitely who should get more budget. It's the idiotic short-sighted quick-profit thinking again. We are draining Earth resources and should try to expand to space. If it wasn't for NASA we wouldn't ever have visited or learned so much more about Earth. This way we never get intergalactic flights nor can live on other planets.

The basis for a good space programme with adequate long term funding is a good economy. The US have been borrowing like there is no tomorrow and is heading directly into the economic abyss of despair if the US government doesn't change direction from the economic policies of the past. It makes sense to cut NASA's budget now to afford a decent space programme in the future. Not cutting NASA's budget now will make its budget much worse in the future.

--
Regards

Re:NASA needs more budget. (-1, Troll)

WhiteWolf666 (145211) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982400)

And by "change economic direction of the past", you mean, vote out the democrats who have been in power since 2006, and return the Republicans to power, right?

An unpopular sentiment on Slashdot, but the "new" democrats, epitomized in Obama, have put this country on the fast track (within a decade) to national bankruptcy.

Mark my words, without a change in direction, we will end up close to 100% debt-to-GDP, and then China will start a trade war with the view that a trade war will hurt them less then us. Thankfully, however, it seems that the American voter has tired of the democrats, and we'll safely have the adults back in charge this November. Better yet, Obama will remain president, and given that the job market won't recover till 2013+, we'll have another Reagan revolution in 2012.

And Republicans will be around to take the credit for the recovery.

Say what you will about Bush's pre-2006 economic policies, he left the national debt situation better off than Clinton did [optimist123.com] .

Re:NASA needs more budget. (1)

Khisanth Magus (1090101) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982756)

Are you implying that the republicans are better than the democrats at balancing the national budget? Because to my knowledge the last time the national budget was balanced was under the Democrats, and the republicans under Bush and co. just added more and more to the national debt with their expensive and never ending wars in the middle east.

Re:NASA needs more budget. (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982866)

We're going to be at 100% Debt to GDP by the end of this fiscal year most likely. And that's a GOOD thing, because it was the only way to halt the slide into depression that was already in motion when the Dem's came to power, thanks largely to the laissez faire regulation policy of the Replublicans. Putting people who believe that the government is incapable of helping in power just allows them to prove their own hypothesis by doing everything they can to make sure that it doesn't function. If they actually shrunk the government instead of just sabotaging it I might give them credit for at least sticking to their principals, but the last administration to actually shrink government was vilified for it (Carter) and his "conservative" followers all greatly increased the size of government while simultaneously decreasing its ability to actually help the American people and removing taxes on the top 1% of earners to actually pay for it. Every single rich person whos advice I consider worth listening to thinks it's stupid how small a tax burden they have. Warren Buffet for one has publicly stated that it's insane that his marginal tax rate is almost half that of his secretary.

Re:NASA needs more budget. (3, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982188)

Are you sure that if it wasn't for NASA, we wouldn't ever have visited Earth?

Re:NASA needs more budget. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30982370)

It's sad really and NASA is definitely who should get more budget. It's the idiotic short-sighted quick-profit thinking again. We are draining Earth resources and should try to expand to space. If it wasn't for NASA we wouldn't ever have visited or learned so much more about Earth. This way we never get intergalactic flights nor can live on other planets.

If he thought Massachussetts was a 'Disaster' wait til November, 2010. He will become a LAME DUCK for the rest of his term. Without Florida, Alabama, Texas and California he will not stand a chance at passing 'ANYTHING!' And guess what, those states will go red because they are the one's with most to loose as a result of this 'stupid' decision.

Re:NASA needs more budget. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30982590)

>> If it wasn't for NASA we wouldn't ever have visited or learned so much more about Earth

I was following you until here. Sure, we've learned more about Earth via the space program, but it seems like we visited Earth long before...

Re:NASA needs more budget. (3, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982652)

>It's sad really and NASA is definitely who should get more budget. It's the idiotic short-sighted quick-profit thinking again.

How come Bush's promises of massive explorations with no funding backing isnt stupid, but when Obama has to clean up Bush's mistakes and bring Bush's BS promises to a real budget, then suddenly he's the bad guy?

Re:NASA needs more budget. (0, Flamebait)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30983184)

How come Bush's promises of massive explorations with no funding backing isnt stupid, but when Obama has to clean up Bush's mistakes and bring Bush's BS promises to a real budget, then suddenly he's the bad guy?

Because a large number of slashdotters, while declaring themselves "libertarians," are really closet republicans, though they oftentimes won't even admit it to themselves.

Re:NASA needs more budget. (2, Insightful)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982680)

The political consequences of cutting NASA are trivial compared to cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicate or defense. In fairly short order every discretionary program is going to be cut to the bone in order to put off the day when the big entitlement programs have to be dealt with.

Philosophically inclined geeks (5, Interesting)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30981798)

reflecting on how this kind of tragedy can happen, and how it relates to our very rational, ends-oriented world, should read Horkheimer and Adorno's (in)famous Dialectic of Enlightenment and its much heralded account of how the very nature of rational Enlightenment thinking carries the danger that we'll fail to enter into "a truly human state" as a world, instead descending into "a new age of barbarism" marked by things like anti-intellectual mass culture, multiplying high-tech wars, short-sighted exploitation, and other modern ills that appear to destroy society and the planet.

It was written back during the Nazi+Emerging Cold War era, but it remains as relevant a warning today as ever.

Re:Philosophically inclined geeks (1)

Desmanthus (1579357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982372)

Whine whine, cry cry. People who respond to these threads have the outraged attitude of eight year olds denied a toy. Tell me me how you intended to pay for bubbles on the moon and maybe I'll take the "tragedy" rhetoric seriously.

Re:Philosophically inclined geeks (2, Insightful)

Gunnut1124 (961311) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982896)

I've never fully understood this point-of-view. I am a capitalist and generally a moderate with regard to politics, so I don't stand on the platform of one or the other established parties. That said, both sides seem to be "anti-intellectual" in their policy making. They directly remove educational/research funding in order to inflate the pork budgets of projects in their region. That's a problem of serious proportions. How do you justify ANYTHING within this POV that leads to equal gain for all parties on a global scale (cancer research, space exploration, subatomic physics...)? These are no one's "pork" but at the same time, they are everyone's.

Re:Philosophically inclined geeks (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982604)

Wow, dramatic much?

You know what other path there is to barbarism? Spending yourself stupid so we cant fund schools, healthcare, business investment, etc for the sake of a moon base or two.

Not to mention, the pork politics of maintaining aging systems and cost runaways like Constellation.

Turns out smart sometimes means taking a cut from dramatic projects and trying something different like private enterprise and more robotic missions.

Jumping to Conclusions Mat? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30981814)

This article is a small Jumping to Conclusions Mat. Let's postulate that their NASA tech won't see space. That doesn't mean that tech won't see space by being used by different countries, which is most probably the case. Just because the USA doesn't care about space tech doesn't mean other countries aren't chomping at the bit to lead humanity.

Commercial interests ftw (0)

Lillebo (1561251) | more than 4 years ago | (#30981816)

Virgin Galactic will save us... I... I know they will. God, I hope they will...

Re:Commercial interests ftw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30981944)

Yay, LEO for everyone! (do they even achieve orbit? and just wait till the TSA gets ahold of them)

bah, rest in peace NASA.
You got us to the moon, had the most successful mars missions ever and sent probes past every planet in the solar system.

Oh well, time to give China a chance...?

Good! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30981842)

With the cut of Ares and other international status seeking nonsense, NASA can concentrate on their roots of science, exploration, and aeronautics.

Re:Good! (0, Offtopic)

tomhath (637240) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982848)

NASA can concentrate on their roots

No, under Obama administration's plan NASA will manage some outsourced projects with the end goal of privatizing space technology. They will not have or develop expertise in house.

This is different from how the administration is throwing money at NIH. They will be funding projects (or, more likely given their history, consuming huge amounts of money while having not a whole lot to show for it). But it's a big first step toward the end goal of crushing private pharmaceutical companies so the government can take over drug development and manufacturing.

Re:Good! (1)

rayharris (1571543) | more than 4 years ago | (#30983210)

With the cut of Ares and other international status seeking nonsense, NASA can concentrate on their roots of science, exploration, and aeronautics.

Actually, this pretty much kills the exploration part.

FY2011 NASA Budget (5, Informative)

cyberfringe (641163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30981848)

An overview "Fact Sheet" on the proposed FY2011 budget for NASA has been published by the OMB at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/factsheet_department_nasa/ [whitehouse.gov] The Constellation program is cancelled, and this could mean thousands of jobs lost in Florida, Alabama and Texas at the major human space flight centers. The savings from the cuts will be reinvested in new R&D for future exploration.

thousands of jobs lost in Florida, Alabama and Tex (0, Troll)

wiredog (43288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30981912)

and Texas

That's OK, they're all Republicans anyway.

Re:thousands of jobs lost in Florida, Alabama and (4, Interesting)

huckamania (533052) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982322)

Unfortunately it is the whole country that loses in this case. I can remember well the day that Al Gore announced the shuttle replacement. The two finalists were a craft that had already been built and flight tested and another that existed as a powerpoint presentation that relied on technology that is still not feasible. The finalists that actually had built and tested their craft were passed over so that Bill and Al could provide a big fat payday to their wing nut allies in California.

This from the party that always cries about Republicans some how manipulating science for their own nefarious purposes.

Re:FY2011 NASA Budget (1, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982270)

That is one thing they don't seem to look at when looking at how much something in the space program costs.
Almost everything built is built in the US by US workers. Thousands of good paying "MANUFACTURING" jobs will be lost.
It will also hit Mississippi, and Louisiana as well as Florida, Texas, Alabama, and yes California.
Hey Obama kept his campaign promise as was posted in Slashdot.

Electric? (1)

buravirgil (137856) | more than 4 years ago | (#30981850)

Was not the first lunar rover electric? Deep Space Network? Sounds like Microsoft. Inflatable habitats? Yeah, I guess it packs well, but damn. In the shape of a clown?

Re:Electric? (5, Interesting)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982114)

The inflatable structures are able to handle projectiles better than the stiff walled structures since they have some give to them and can disperse the energy across a larger area. The fact that they pack well is just bonus.

Nothing left? (2, Insightful)

spammeister (586331) | more than 4 years ago | (#30981854)

So really NASA is just supporting the ISS and launching satellites into orbit? Oh if Sagan was alive today!

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

Re:Nothing left? (1)

insufflate10mg (1711356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30983046)

wikiFail...

Wolowitz!!! (1)

nomorecwrd (1193329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30981890)

Anyhing with "Wolowitz" in it's name?

FUCK THIS SHIT (-1, Troll)

BrowncoatJedi (1006665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982024)

The Obama administration is a JOKE!

I don't think he was (intentionally) trolling . . (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982458)

I'll point out that Browncoat is merely expressing an inability to understand why our current president's priorities differ so greatly from his own.

To be sure, I also find the current administration's stance on this subject incomprehensible. It reminds me of the first shuttle disaster (Challenger). I was in Berkeley and a (hyper-)liberal associate of mine was thrilled at the Challenger disaster. He thought this was just the thing to get the US to stop spending money in space and instead spend it on our own homeless and poor. Too bad the poor sap couldn't see that any money which this freed up was almost certainly destined to end up in the military budget, not social services.

That said, the current administration has tried to make good on some of its promises, abandoned others. Nothing new here. Best we get used to the idea that for the forseeable future, the United States of America has given up on manned spaceflight. When we get good and embarassed by no longer being a spacefaring people, we'll vote in a new administration which will (hopefully) listen to the well thougtht-out and carefully phrased arguments in favor of continuing to explore more than just our little planet.

Why use never? (-1, Offtopic)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982046)

Cool NASA Tech That Will Never See Space

In my adult life, I have learnt never to use the word never otherwise our president would never be, and Microsoft's had in software technology would never get challenged.

Question: Why use "never?"

What does this mean for manned exploration? (5, Interesting)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982146)

The shuttle is retiring. There's no stopping that. No more external fuel tanks are being manufactured, the rest of the parts chain is shutting down. When the shuttle is gone, America loses manned access to space. And it appears we can't even manage to cobble together a bloody capsule to put atop a normal rocket. This leaves only Russia with manned space capabilities. (I don't know if the Chinese really have anything they'd consider flight-worthy right now.) The Indians and Japanese have their own programs but I don't see much happening in the near future.

The Constellation program sounded like a real soup sandwich. Canceling it would be a good thing if it paved the way for something done right. But that's not happening. Every shuttle successor program we've ever looked at has ended in cancellation. Obviously, we have the technology to get into space but it looks like we don't have the organizational ability to make that sort of thing happen.

You don't have to be much of a science fiction fan to appreciate the opportunities created by a serious presence in space. Even if we teleoperated everything from the ground, orbital power is a winner. Asteroid mining to prevent the destruction of our own environment down here is a winner. And human history has proven time and time again that opportunities can be opened up by endeavors and scientific discovery that we couldn't even begin to imagine at the outset.

There's so much more we should be doing up there. The shuttle was just farting around in LEO. We should end it to do something better, not end it to abandon a manned presence in space. If we're not going to move forward up there, other nations will. And we will have ceded the high frontier.

Re:What does this mean for manned exploration? (2, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982276)

The main problem, I think (admittedly, among others), is that unless you're doing an all-out, money-is-no-object sort of thing like the 60s moon race, major projects take more time than changes in political leadership are willing to stand still for. So NASA ends up dithering back and forth every 3-6 years with a new project: manned mission to mars, shuttle replacement, low-cost capsule system, probe-focused unmanned space exploration, etc. I mean, Constellation was only proposed in 2005, with bids chosen by 2006--- then reviewed for cancellation in 2009.

Re:What does this mean for manned exploration? (1)

sl0ppy (454532) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982358)

If we're not going to move forward up there, other nations will. And we will have ceded the high frontier.

we will have ceded the high frontier to other ... humans? why must there still be a space race? we've already run that sprint. why not a more of a space marathon where we work together as a team, not direct competition?

Re:What does this mean for manned exploration? (1)

jstults (1406161) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982490)

No more external fuel tanks are being manufactured, the rest of the parts chain is shutting down. When the shuttle is gone, America loses manned access to space

There are still enough residual ETs to do some interesting prototyping things, such as a shuttle derived heavy.

The Constellation program sounded like a real soup sandwich. Cancelling it would be a good thing if it paved the way for something done right. But that's not happening

The shuttle was just farting around in LEO.

See SpaceX's first Falcon 9 in the hangar at the cape, at least it's got the possibility of farting around in LEO more cheaply. Diverting money from Constellation to COTS is paving the way.

Here's a round-up of the recent news [blogspot.com] with links describing that stuff.

Re:What does this mean for manned exploration? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30982504)

Privatizing space doesn't take america out of space. It's actually a change in the right direction. Hell... I'm sure many had the same arguments when manned flight was first discovered and only used by the government.

Re:What does this mean for manned exploration? (4, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982548)

>If we're not going to move forward up there, other nations will. And we will have ceded the high frontier.

They'll go broke putting meatbags in space and learning the same lessons we have, while we're focused on robotic missions and investment into private enterprise, instead of a purely government approach.

On top of that, the Mars mission is still on. While China or India attempts to put a meatbag on the moon, the US will most likely be on its way to Mars. The US isnt ceding anything, its just spending its money more wisely along with the "trophy" of Mars. Turns out Bush's incompetence wasnt limited to just economies and wars, but to also signing checks his ass couldnt cash.

Funny how the "fiscally responsible" Republicans want my tax dollars to keep subsidizing useless jobs in Florida and Texas and keep a runaway project like Constellation going to the tune of an extra 3 billion a year in cost overruns! Dont confuse the politics of pork with space exploration. Meatbags are too expensive to ship around all the time and moon base fantasies turn out to be too expensive in real life.

Re:What does this mean for manned exploration? (1)

WhiteWolf666 (145211) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982660)

*shrug*

I'm all for the commercialization of Space. NASA was/is a waste of time and money.

You don't have to be much of a science fiction fan to appreciate the opportunities created by a serious presence in space. Even if we teleoperated everything from the ground, orbital power is a winner. Asteroid mining to prevent the destruction of our own environment down here is a winner. And human history has proven time and time again that opportunities can be opened up by endeavors and scientific discovery that we couldn't even begin to imagine at the outset.

There's so much more we should be doing up there. The shuttle was just farting around in LEO. We should end it to do something better, not end it to abandon a manned presence in space. If we're not going to move forward up there, other nations will. And we will have ceded the high frontier.

The reason for this is simple. The energy requirements of achieving orbit are simply too high given that mankind is mired in the chemical-energy age. A real human presence outside of LEO cannot be achieved without nuclear propulsion. There simply is no other way around the energy requirements.

Why do I say this? Because mankind has already given up [wikipedia.org] a 60 year old technology capable of boosting entire cities anywhere in the solar system, and even for achieving low relativistic velocities.

Cost estimates projected that for 1% of the US GDP (a paltry $130 billion, not even 10% of the dual stimulus and bank bailouts) we could build an operate an 8 million ton vehicle in the solar system. This is an estimate based on using 1958 materials, and a craft designed with modern, strong materials (carbon fibers and the like) could be significantly heavier.

It is *simply impossible* to fathom that this $130 billion dollar investment would not achieve greater dividends than, say, Obama stimulus. It may have even been superior to the economic effects of the TARP.

And I'd hazard a guess that it would improve both the economy and health care (through technological advances) if we spent the $900 billion Obama is allocating for HCR on Orion vessels (we could build a fleet of ships the size of Star War's Star Destroyers!).

Space Factories. Space Farms. Fleets of Solar Power Satellites. High Energy Risk Free Research Stations. Cities on the Moon. Cities on Mars. Massive Scale Asteroid Belt Mining. Construction and operation of additional vessels outside the Earth's magnetosphere.

So we have to detonated some nuclear explosives in the Earth's atmosphere to get it going. Mankind did this for years, and old for war purposes, not science/economic. Not to mention, the launching of Solar Power Satellites would probably result in a net reduction of radiation emissions due to man's activities.

Even then, the total fallout from an Orion program would be minimal:

But the main unsolved problem for a launch from the surface of the Earth was thought to be nuclear fallout. Any explosions within the magnetosphere would carry fissionables back to earth unless the spaceship were launched from a polar region such as a barge in the higher regions of the Arctic, with the initial launching explosion to be a large mass of conventional high explosive only to significantly reduce fallout; subsequent detonations would be in the air and therefore much cleaner. Antarctica is not viable, as this would require enormous legal changes as the continent is presently an international wildlife preserve. Freeman Dyson, group leader on the project, estimated back in the '60s that with conventional nuclear weapons, each launch would cause on average between 0.1 and 1 fatal cancers from the fallout.[14] Danger to human life was not a reason given for shelving the project - those included lack of mission requirement (no-one in the US Government could think of any reason to put thousands of tons of payload into orbit), the decision to focus on rockets (for the Moon mission) and, ultimately, the signature of the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963. The danger to electronic systems on the ground (from electromagnetic pulse) is insignificant from the sub-KiloTon blasts proposed.

It's dishearting, isn't it? Makes chemical rockets like the shuttle seem like glorified children's toys

Re:What does this mean for manned exploration? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982946)

Has anyone ever actually tested what happens when you detonate a nuclear bomb in the upper ionosphere? My understanding is that it could charge it to the point of disruption of propagation of radio signals for days, which would have a severe economic effect. Supposedly it can be drained to ground via HAARP... or so says the guy who wrote the patent upon which it is based.

More importantly, it is not even necessary to lift so much mass from Earth. The technology almost exists today to mine asteroids using robot probes and unfolding mylar solar smelters. If you want lots of mass in orbit and at LaGrange points, it makes the most sense by far to take up asteroid mining. Since the average asteroid is believed to be typically made up of nickel and iron, finding useful materials should be relatively trivial. It would make far more sense to develop these technologies than find new ways to waste energy lifting things out of a gravity well that can already be found in space.

Orion is a really neat idea, but actually using it is the opposite of practical. I would prefer to lift as little mass from Earth as possible until we can build a Space Elevator — and since nothing in modern physics suggests that it cannot be done, I suspect it's only a matter of time.

Re:What does this mean for manned exploration? (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30983230)

The new plan seems to be to strengthen America's commercial launch vehicle systems. As things stand, America sucks at expendable launch vehicles. The Europeans and the Russians have bigger and more reliable ELVs than we do. If you construe this as a way to get NASA to off-load the design of rockets to private industry and to concentrate on space exploration, this is a good though very ballsy move. Private industry can lobby effectively while NASA cannot. If NASA had to design a rocket, it would have to please all sorts of political bosses. Look at what happened to ARES. Private companies are not only free of these measures, they can go out and harass Congress in their favor.

I don't know if this is the right move. I understand the justification for it, and again, it is a fucking ballsy move. But this is not a surrender of manned spaceflight by the United States, just a delay.

It needed saying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30982226)

Insensitive clods.

That's disappointing, but... (4, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982288)

If I made more money, I'd probably have a set of new golf clubs on my wish list for this spring. As it is, I don't have an unlimited budget, and there are other priorities which are higher, such as food, healthcare, and DirecTV. I mention that last one intentionally, by the way.

You see I could do without DirecTV and save myself enough to get a new set of golf clubs every year. Thing is my wife an daughter really like the programming. They don't begrudge me my greens fees or my high power rocket purchases. Each of us gets something from the family budget, though perhaps not all we want. We simply don't have the unlimited funds for that.

It's interesting what happens when you must have a balanced budget - certain choices have to be made.

Re:That's disappointing, but... (1)

PmanAce (1679902) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982544)

I am sure your budget has funds for your future (yours and your daughter), I know mine does. NASA is important for our future.

Re:That's disappointing, but... (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982754)

Absolutely. I usually try to save some of my spending money for a couple of golf lessons. I don't see Butch Harmon every week.

NASA isn't being closed, it's being scaled back in light of the budget. Now, if you were to believe Ronald Reagan, all you have to do it let a few contracts go dark to save the money - they're contractors. Keep the real expertise in house and work on the projects you do have. That won't happen, of course - the expertise has mostly migrated to contractors, with managers keeping the seats warm at NASA (not everywhere, but in too many places).

I don't necessarily agree that scaling NASA back is a good idea, but there are too many programs for the current revenue. No matter how badly I need to replace my siding (and trust me - it needs it), it's not going to happen again this year. It's time for Congress to grow some balls and make some decisions.

If I were the president, I'd have taken the opportunity at the state of the union address to call out every single senator and congressperson to come up with 2.6 Billion dollars of federal spending in their state/district that had to be cut. If not, I would make the decision about which project gets cut. If you do the math, that's $1.4T. Sort of a Sophie's Choice for legislators. Even if you only got half of that, it would be an enormous victory. You could even make it cut-throat - for every $500M in your district you cut, you can choose $50M in any other district in the country to cut. Talk about some back room deals and serious game theory. But I digress...

Re:That's disappointing, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30982702)

maybe we should let useless people and morons die

just take safety labels off stuff and stop paying people for nothing and we could probably set up a base in Mars in ten years

Re:That's disappointing, but... (0, Flamebait)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982720)

If I made more money, I'd probably have a set of new golf clubs on my wish list for this spring. As it is, I don't have an unlimited budget, and there are other priorities which are higher, such as food, healthcare, and DirecTV. I mention that last one intentionally, by the way.

You see I could do without DirecTV and save myself enough to get a new set of golf clubs every year. Thing is my wife an daughter really like the programming. They don't begrudge me my greens fees or my high power rocket purchases. Each of us gets something from the family budget, though perhaps not all we want. We simply don't have the unlimited funds for that.

It's interesting what happens when you must have a balanced budget - certain choices have to be made.

You fail at comparisons, if you think a family is analogous to a nation of hundreds of millions. It isn't. Canceling a space program that could bring mankind to the moon, mars and beyond would produce a shitload of useful science and technology, it would inspire the whole nation, energize it and contribute to pulling it out from the doldrums. Your comparison of such a program with a set of golf clubs tells a lot about your contempt for science and space exploration.

Commercial air travel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30982298)

"One day it will be like commercial airline travel, just not yet," Griffin said. "It's like 1920. Lindbergh hasn't flown the Atlantic, and they're trying to sell 747s to Pan Am."

The first commercial airline was founded in 1909. The first regular commercial flight in the US was in 1914. KLM was founded in 1920.

Don't blame me (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30982352)

Don't blame me - I voted for the American!

wrong (2, Interesting)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982404)

it's all speculation until someone reads the budget and the new policy is announced. Now that that's out of the way...

Heavy Lift: There's an understanding that we need heavy lift. It looks like a 200mT launcher is out of the question for now; but, we have plenty of experience, thanks to the ISS, in assembline large structures in space. So, the question becomes what form does an HLV take: A Shuttle Derived (Jupiter) derivative or an amped up Atlas / Delta derivative? Either could ultimately reach the 100-150mT range. The Shuttle Derived gets there faster using existing tooling.

Composite launch vehicle: Let's assume, for argument sake, that ULA is one of the suppliers of the "taxi" service. Lockheed, who is one of the two ULA parent companies, and who supplies the Atlas 5 launch vehicle, is building the Orion CEV for NASA. If ULA does supply the launch vehicle, what crew vehicle do you suppose they'll use? Perhaps the one they already have the tooling for? The one that's already a NASA approved design? I think so.

Inflatable structures: That technology was sold by NASA to Bigelow Aerospace, who then developed it further and did some limited testing in space LEO. NASA was going to incorporate Bigelow's work into their habitats. If NASA drops it, for now, Bigelow appears to have plans to continue the work. They've booked a Falcon 9 flight for 2014.

Lunar descent engine: What made that engine interesting was the use of LNG/LOX as a fuel. It worked. Well. That's likely to find further use down the line; but, I can't speculate where.

The lunar specific stuff is toast.

funny (1)

pydev (1683904) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982424)

I read the "electric moon buggie" as an "electric boondoggle". It might as well be :-)

This looks like a job for the private sector. (1)

Higaran (835598) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982436)

Looks, like the private sector is going to be pickup up the slack, with space ship one and so on. I love NASA and its whole legacy, but I do think that is time for some change with our space program, maybe it should just get absorbed into the airforce, beause that's who is putting most of our sattelites into orbit anyway.

time for markets to show the way (1)

m0llusk (789903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982438)

Government development of space is holding back commercial development. The time for initial investment has ended now that we know the basics. This article is full of good examples of this. The robot mower highlighted here is already being provided by the marketplace. Private ventures are preparing more forward thinking launch vehicles than the big rocket talked about in the article. There is always going to be some role or collective action, but government is no longer needed as the primary driver.

It is critically important to keep markets on Earth functioning in order to extend ourselves into space. The idea that we can have our economic activities melt down in chaos while reaching for our future in the stars is questionable. Some of the same people here who want more space development also pushed an ideologically driven view of economic activity which played a big part in this global financial implosion.

Solution (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982452)

Put the moon rover up on Craigslist for $20M, with a 1 month limit on pickup time before the buyer loses their money and NASA re-lists the rover. It will be a win-win: either they raise the needed money to keep all of their programs, or someone will develop a vehicle to get to the moon and back so NASA doesn't have to.

Spendorama... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30982474)

...is really gutting useful projects.

Maybe the Air Force and/or Navy will pick up the Ares V as they'll be needing heavy lift capacity outside of commercial corporations(and Deltas), along with some of those other projects.

Modern Libs have always hated NASA (0, Flamebait)

pease1 (134187) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982572)

This isn't surprising at all and was completely predictable. Even during Apollo, post modern liberalism has always been lukewarm-cold towards space exploration, a fact I always found interesting since many NASA supporters at the grass root level are Democrats. The whole global warming thing has pushed not only the liberals against NASA, but brought along the environmental movement as well. "How can we afford to rape another world when we can't take care of..." and "How can we afford to provide jobs to highly paid engineers when there are poor..."

That NASA screwed up the engineering of some of new hardware didn't help. That NASA could only look at and award to the normal fat-cat defense contractors didn't help either.

The combination of the two and NASA's own problems are all quite deadly when it comes to this administration.

Amazingly hope for American humans in space will now rely on Republicans and the US private sector, assuming we just don't try to contract it out to other countries (and lose yet another technology base).

Just as amazing is a lack of understanding by the liberals and environmentalists that the destruction of human space flight dooms the long term prospects for robotic exploration; which is a key tool to understanding the environment and natural resources on Earth. When the over all size of NASA is reduced, it's ability to innovate across programs is gone and the technology stales over time.

Finally, you could assume that even the environmentalists could start to see the only viable long term solution to maintaining Earth's ecosystem is expansion to other worlds, but clearly they don't have that kind of vision.

Re:Modern Libs have always hated NASA (1)

Improv (2467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982854)

Postmodernists are only one strand of liberals, just as theocrats are only one strand of conservatives. You'd be mistaken to say that they're either leading the coalition or defining it, and you are mistaken in your later paragraphs when you suggest that they are "the liberals" or that all environmentalists are the "we should live naked in the woods" sort.

I'm not a democrat, but I'm a liberal (one committed to environmental causes), and I'd love to see more funds go to interesting NASA projects (and DARPA projects, for that matter). I don't actually care that the humans in space are American, but i do think we have the funds and infrastructure to contribute meaningfully towards the scientific and engineering challenges of the day.

If you'd be willing to demonise less, you might find it easier to help people (even people very different from you, presumably including me) cooperate with you on topics of mutual interest.

Ares is no loss. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30982666)

Having read that engineers inside NASA have criticised Ares and would prefer other alternatives, I'm not crying about this one.

Re:Ares is no loss. (1)

rayharris (1571543) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982996)

It's not so much that he's killing the Constellation program (which includes Ares), but that there's nothing to replace it. This is going to set us back by decades. We may not go back to the moon until the next century, if ever.

Smell the coffee (1)

grikdog (697841) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982710)

Who owns the coffeepots at NASA? Dimes to tiddlywinks, the job is contracted out.

other fishes (1)

karlzt (1410199) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982736)

"there are other fishes in the sea"

This is why. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30982918)

Electric moon buggies and inflatable habitats are nothing new. Both were developed in the 1960s. (The inflatable habitat wasn't used, of course, although a version of it featured in the film "Moontrap".)

Re-inventing the wheel over and over again -- without actually doing anything with it -- is one big reason why NASA's projects are being cut.

Print the money...no problem (1)

Danathar (267989) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982948)

Don't really see what the problem is. The U.S. is not going to pay off the debt. It's like worrying about the fact that you don't have a parachute AFTER you have jumped out of the plane; it just ruins the enjoyment of the ride down.

The amount of money NASA is asking about is trivial compared to the whole Federal Budget. Heck, the the U.S. government prints (via the proxy Federal Reserve) and borrows to pay the interest on what they have already borrowed. Worrying about the debt/deficit at this point is tilting at windmills.

If the U.S. is going to default (and the U.S. will, I guarantee) then its things of REAL physical value that should be bought. The Chinese are not going to repo a concrete road or a fleet of spaceships. So I say spend, spend, spend. Buy all the stuff that will improve infrastructure and long term growth so that when the U.S. does default at the very least there will be decent roads.

Re:Print the money...no problem (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | more than 4 years ago | (#30983102)

This, regrettably, is both naive and wrong.

The interest rates at which the US borrows money reflects the lender's belief that they'll be paid back. Meaning they're pretty darned certain they're going to get their money back or they wouldn't lend it. If some hair brained politician followed your recommendations, you'd see this nasty little thing called hyperinflation rear its ugly head and your life would become rather more unpleasant than it is now.

Not to say it hasn't been tried, but the countries that do it tend to spiral in rather quickly after. Contrary to popular opinion, people, governments, and institutions who loan on this scale are not idiots.

What do we need NASA for now? (0, Troll)

rayharris (1571543) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982958)

What gets me is not so much the fact that we'll be using commercial rockets to get to the ISS, but that we now have no strategy for getting back to the Moon and/or going to Mars.

When I told my 10-year-old daughter that Obama had killed the program that was her best chance to travel to the Moon or Mars, she literally started crying. How am I supposed to keep her interested in math and science in school when the only thing she's ever wanted to do has been taken away from her?

Yes, I know her actual chance of going was pretty slim, but at least there was a chance. And that was enough to encourage her to work hard in school. Now what? Now she doesn't know what she wants to do and that means a higher chance of her ending up flipping burgers instead of pursuing her dreams.

Fuck you, Obama, and your nearsightedness.

Whither the plans? (1)

ondigo (1323273) | more than 4 years ago | (#30982968)

So what will NASA do with the results so far for all these plans and ideas? My hope, as a taxpayer, is that they will make it available to all and sundry (or at least American all and sundry, if they want to be parochial about it). It would be a disservice to the scientists and engineers who have labored on these projects for their work to be put away on some shelf or to have it all dribbled into the bit bucket.

Stop spending so much on the military... (5, Insightful)

fantomas (94850) | more than 4 years ago | (#30983050)

The US military is something like ten times larger than the next country's military spend for goodness sake. How about easing off on the military spend and using the money for peaceful exploration of space.

Do you really need a military budget that big?

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