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Senate Bill Adds Shuttle Flight, New Shuttle-Derived Vehicle

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the jobs-for-my-district dept.

NASA 230

simonbp writes "The Senate Commerce Committee this morning marked up a compromise NASA Authorization Act that rolls back some of Obama's plans for NASA, while keeping others. The bill adds at least one more shuttle flight, keeps Obama's technology demonstrators and commercial access to ISS (albeit at reduced funding), restores the Orion crew capsule, and replaces the Ares rockets with a Shuttle-Derived 'Space Launch System' for going to the ISS and Beyond, which could be ready as soon as 2015."

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230 comments

first trout! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32920600)

A am a Fish

Proven delivery system (0)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920622)

needs to be refined and kept. Why spend billions debugging new stuff? N

Re:Proven delivery system (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920738)

Why spend billions debugging new stuff?

Because the 'old stuff' is very expensive to maintain, is inherently dangerous and the only thing it's good for is barking around in LEO.

If you want NASA to push out of LEO, you need some better systems. If you had enough money, then sure, you could keep the Shuttle and start on the Shiny New Thing but we don't have enough money, so it was felt that it is better to cut your losses and start over. Keeping the Shuttle pieces parts going is mostly a make work project for a couple of Senators and their constituents. It has no scientific or engineering value.

Re:Proven delivery system (3, Interesting)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920808)

Plus, as has been discussed somewhere the Senators evidently were not around to hear, the Shuttle program is dead. It's been dead as a program for about five years. Production lines are closed, staff fired, supplier contracts ended. Anything beyond the one additional mission that parts exist for would be hugely expensive, as the production would need to be started up again from scratch. (Consequently, that last one won't have any rescue shuttle on standby.)

Re:Proven delivery system (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921466)

Not to mention the ONLY reason the congress keeps kicking that dead horse is a little word called PORK. That is why on every single suggestion NASA has come up with for a new vehicle they have been hamstringed by the demand that X% of the craft be made of "Shuttle Derived parts" even though the shuttle was an absolute failure (look up the original statement: It was to be a "space truck" with about 1/3rd more carrying capacity and MUCH quicker turnaround for a lower cost per pound. It failed every goal it was designed for) so that they can keep parceling out cash to their districts.

Hell congress has turned NASA into such a fucked over pork generating clusterfuck we need to set up a WPA style "please fuck off" fund so when some congressman demands a stupid waste of cash like "shuttle derived parts" we can say "Here is a work project for your district. Please fuck off now" and get NASA back on track. Although personally I think NASA will be deader than Dixie in 5 years and it'll be other nations and commerical ventures that will take over. With two Viet Nam style clusterfucks on our hands and an economy that is starting to develop reigor mortis we just ain't got the funds for much of anything anymore. Doubt that will stop congress from writing checks as long as they can though.

I've got a dumb question (3, Interesting)

mollog (841386) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922024)

I've got a dumb question. Why do they return the shuttle back to Earth? Or, why not build a part of the space station out of shuttles; you design the vehicle to serve as the body of the launch vehicle, and as part of the ISS. You could leave off a lot of those tiles if you weren't planning to return.

The crew returns to Earth via a reentry vehicle. Fill the vehicle with supplies, send it up there, and the crew comes back on a specialized reentry bus.

Re:Proven delivery system (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920874)

Well, if there's a time gap between when the shuttle retires and when its replacement arrives, you will want to keep some spare parts laying around. What if someone spots an big-ass asteroid hurtling our way? We will need something that can fly Bruce Willis up there and save the day.

j/k

Re:Proven delivery system (2, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921286)

Well, if there's a time gap between when the shuttle retires and when its replacement arrives, you will want to keep some spare parts laying around. What if someone spots an big-ass asteroid hurtling our way? We will need something that can fly Bruce Willis up there and save the day.

I know you're joking, but FYI the US already has quite a few commercial launchers available which could send up Bruce Willis and Steve Buscemi to the incoming asteroid:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlas_V [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta_IV [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcon_9 [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taurus_II [wikipedia.org]

Re:Proven delivery system (2, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921080)

If you want NASA to push out of LEO, you need some better systems.

If we want to get out of LEO, then we need to make getting to LEO cheaper and easier, and develop technology that will let us go from there as a separate step. Lifting everything we need for a manned moon or (ha!) Mars mission from the surface of the earth one one giant rocket is foolish and will just mean the mission scope is cut down to the point of, well, pointlessness.

Keeping the Shuttle pieces parts going is mostly a make work project for a couple of Senators and their constituents. It has no scientific or engineering value.

Don't forget it also apparently keeps prices down on ICBM parts, because the DOD is so strapped for cash they need NASA to subsidize their equipment(?!)

Oh well. At least the pointless moon mission is dead. Hopefully this compromise doesn't cripple the actual useful and new projects that will expand our capabilities. And hey, maybe we'll actually find a good use for our HLV to LEO, and not just find arbitrary ways to justify its existence.

Re:Proven delivery system (2)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921460)

I'd say that pretty much all manned spaceflight from NASA is dead. I'd be very, very surprised if they get anything completed at all, considering their mandate seems to change every time you turn around.

Re:Proven delivery system (1)

cmowire (254489) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921748)

It turns out that in business school classes on running defense contractors teach a fairly simple concept:

If your project isn't far enough along to survive cancellation when the power shifts in the white house, you fucked up.

Thus, NASA's problem isn't changing political whims, it's that the Constellation program was so far behind, overbudget, and mismanaged in 2009 that it got canned by the incoming administration.

Re:Proven delivery system (3, Insightful)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921842)

Considering the last manned spaceflight program to actually make it into orbit was started under the Johnson administration (the Space Shuttle), I would say that the established record for getting into space is pretty dismal indeed. Every single manned spaceflight vehicle that has ever been proposed since then (and in particular since the Nixon administration) has been systematically killed either the the subsequent or even current administrations involved. The question isn't why did this particular program (Constellation) die, but why did any succeed in the past at all?

Re:Proven delivery system (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921684)

If we want to get out of LEO, then we need to make getting to LEO cheaper and easier, and develop technology that will let us go from there as a separate step. Lifting everything we need for a manned moon or (ha!) Mars mission from the surface of the earth one one giant rocket is foolish and will just mean the mission scope is cut down to the point of, well, pointlessness.

True enough, but using the Shuttle (or parts thereof) doesn't appear to be the way to go. Nothing about the Shuttle is cheap or easy. Sure, take your lessons learned, improve on the technology that we've developed (the Shuttle engine is pretty impressive and seem to have the bugs worked out of it).

But as we've flogged to death on many a post here, the entire premise of the Space Shuttle was falsified from the beginning. Personally, I would be in favor of keeping it going as a servicer for the ISS until the next generation of craft is actually up and running. However, since (as has been pointed out), the production lines are dead AND the money isn't there, we have to scramble a bit for a decade or two. IMHO, for the foreseeable future, I'd stay in LEO and work out the nuts and bolts engineering of keeping people alive in space for extended periods of time. When you take six months to plan each space walk, you're not quite ready to venture out of the Van Allen belts.

Re:Proven delivery system (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921860)

The largest problem with the Space Shuttle is that the era is now over anyway. No more will be built, the production line for external tanks and SRBs has been killed, and the tooling for even putting up another flight simply can't happen. It would cost almost as much as simply finishing the Constellation program now as it would to restart the Shuttle program again... including building a new shuttle or two to replace the Columbia. Ideally if the Shuttle program was to continue, it would need six to eight orbiters and a whole bunch of effort that neither NASA nor Congress really want to get into doing.

Re:Proven delivery system (2, Interesting)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921812)

Don't forget it also apparently keeps prices down on ICBM parts, because the DOD is so strapped for cash they need NASA to subsidize their equipment(?!)

Oh well. At least the pointless moon mission is dead. Hopefully this compromise doesn't cripple the actual useful and new projects that will expand our capabilities. And hey, maybe we'll actually find a good use for our HLV to LEO, and not just find arbitrary ways to justify its existence.

The Moon mission was dead a couple of years ago... it just took Congress this long to recognize that fact and a change in the presidency (or rather a new NASA administrator to wake up to the fact). Constellation, as it was proposed, was simply unsustainable and required federal spending on spaceflight to be proportional to what NASA got in the 1960's to get it to happen. There is no possible way that Congress would have ever forked out that kind of money for a sustained effort that would have lasted decades.

In terms of orbital rocketry being similar to ICBMs, it should be pointed out that they are two very different engineering regimes and they don't really support each other... except for perhaps rocket nozzles and some minor parts like what would be in common between a farm tractor and a semi truck. They may technically do the same thing, but really are designed for very different tasks and aren't nearly as common as you would think.

The largest argument that seems to be in favor of NASA having continued development of the shuttle boosters and the Ares I is that it would act as a consumer for Ammonium Perchlorate.... the "solid" rocket fuel that is used in the SRBs. For myself, I think it would be far and away more profitable and perhaps even do better for public support of NASA to use the same money, consume even more rocket fuel, and simply make some fireworks for a really awesome 4th of July party. It would actually involve more workers to make the stuff and at least be something that ordinary Americans appreciate. Either that or cancel the program and save the money altogether... but if the money is going to be spent on merely keeping people employed and to keep this particular industry (the solid rocket fuel manufacturing companies) going at least it could be for something that will actually fly up into the sky. $10 billion USD will buy one heck of a lot of fireworks and put on a display that would be impressive as hell.

It might just help advance the development of rocketry at the same time... something that the Ares I simply won't do.

left over parts (4, Insightful)

buback (144189) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921882)

The big caveat here is that there are enough parts sitting around for at least another 3 flights of shuttle hardware. We already paid for it to be built, so we should try to find a way to use it, and as cheaply as possible. Doing it cheaply means bolting on a payload with an engine instead of a shuttle.

The same budgetary things happened with Apollo. We had the hardware for Apollo 18, 19, and 20 ready to go, but funding got cut for them and that was that.

Re:Proven delivery system (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921096)

That's fine and all, but the fact is that the STS systems are already developed and in production. New, better systems are only on the drawing board. It seems obvious that a sensible approach would be to use the existing systems (albeit in a new configuration) during a transition period until you're done designing and testing the new systems, and are able to transition to them.

The current idea, of simply abandoning the old STS systems and not replacing them with anything at all, and not having any capability to put humans into orbit at all (and relying on other countries for this), is absolutely stupid.

Keeping the Shuttle pieces parts going is mostly a make work project for a couple of Senators and their constituents. It has no scientific or engineering value.

How do you propose sending humans into LEO, without Shuttle pieces? Your choices seem to be 1) don't do it, or 2) ask the Russians for help. Stupid.

Re:Proven delivery system (2, Informative)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921488)

"That's fine and all, but the fact is that the STS systems are already developed and in production"

No, the STS systems are developed and were in production. It's no longer the case that they are in production. The launches remaining will be flown with parts on hand.

NASA was directed to close down the project several years ago and has faithfully executed its orders to do so. Now the supply chain is broken and scattered. (Staff fired, tooling scrapped, etc etc.) There is no reviving it without costs approaching well within a magnitude the development of a new system. The time to revive the shuttle (if ever there was one) passed no later than a year after Bush first killed it.

Re:Proven delivery system (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921130)

If we wanted RAPID technology development, we'd skip passengers for a few decades and perfect remote-manned systems first. We would not be trapped by the glacial pace dictated by protecting politically valuable astronauts.

Back in The Day, men and wooden ships were literally expendable. Now, humans are too valued to risk, and robots are required for practical space exploitation in any event. Humans don't "explore" anything, they are along for the ride. We can leave them on Earth and greatly speed development of exploratory machines instead.

Re:Proven delivery system (1)

chaboud (231590) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921604)

Don't forget communication latency. Human-driven robots need to either be semi-autonomous or be slow. At its closest to Earth, you're looking at about six minutes of round-trip latency for Martian control.

Re:Proven delivery system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32921184)

bzzzt, nice try.

This program has amazing engineering value - the engineering has already been done, it's very safe and reliable, and still quite useful. This program does not throw the baby out with the bathwater. It's not pork - it's just not a shiny new toy from Mr. Musk and SpaceX. I can respect the desire to throw out an old regime in favor of something new. Fine, lets just demonstrate the something new before we literally throw it all out and try to start over, mmmkay?

Here's an analogy for you: You are pissed at your GM car because it's a piece of shit. It needs a new battery and radiator. Instead of getting a jump start and pouring in some water, going to the parts store, and installing a new battery, pour in some more water, then driving to a repair shop, you opt to push the car off a cliff. Then you walk 27 miles to the dealer for auto maker X. Auto maker X has a few prototypes, but no organizational structure, no support structure, just... prototypes. After you've walked your 27 miles to this new dealer, he tells you he'd be happy to haul your stuff to your office (the space station), but he won't be able to take you or any passengers along for a few more years. Maybe 2, maybe 7.

Wouldn't it have been a better idea to just buy the new battery & radiator, deal with the issues from your GM POS, and KEEP GOING TO THE OFFICE with what you have, until company X has a product that will really do what you want?

This is the direction that NASA engineers tried to go down years ago. Instead, Nasa bureaucrats and congress went the Aries route. Amazingly, in the face of having NOTHING and after wasting billions, the advice of the engineers is finally being listened to.

Re:Proven delivery system (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921876)

The Space Shuttle is the Edsel of the space industry. It looks cool, is real shiny, and when you really get down to brass tacks it sucks big time. The Edsel is the very definition of a lemon of a vehicle. The Space Shuttle is a spacecraft designed by committee, incredibly dangerous for its crew, and could have done a much better job had there not been so many compromises on its design that it couldn't really do any of the missions it was intended to accomplish. It was also a system drastically overbudget and way, way behind schedule even when it launched, and that never really improved on subsequent flights.

Re:Proven delivery system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32921392)

I'll bet you're under 30 LOL

Re:Proven delivery system (1)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920802)

Which delivery system is proven? The space shuttle is expensive, slow, and unsafe. Solid rockets are good for cargo, but not for people. Can't we just buy rockets from the russians to launch our people up and use older technology for cargo?

Re:Proven delivery system (2, Insightful)

tsotha (720379) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920950)

We could if the goal of NASA was to accomplish something. It's not. The goal of NASA is to steer contracts to campaign donors and to create jobs. That's why we're going to get a shuttle-derived program no matter what happens. Most likely it will end up like VentureStar or NASP - lots of money spent with nothing to show for it. But all that money is going somewhere.

Your tax dollars. Providing jobs for senators since 1788.

Re:Proven delivery system (3, Informative)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920984)

oddly enough the shuttle has the same safety as soyuz with roughly 2% failure. Of course no one wants to actually say that. We have lost 2 shuttles, but have launched 2.5 times more shuttles/people than russia has 3 man capsules.

No a new smaller reusable capsule for personnel launches, and then a larger heavy lift rocket for equipment combined with a manned space station would be a far better option. Instead of launching the lab up with every launch.

Re:Proven delivery system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32920826)

Because hopefully we've learned some things in the past 30 to 50 years about how to do things better.

Also, it's going to cost billions anyway, so why not invest some in new technology?

Re:Proven delivery system (1)

nlinecomputers (602059) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920828)

Right keep the system that cost us 14 lives and two expensive launch vehicles. Keep the system that never could do what is was originally advertised to do. It was a waste of money and resources that could have been better used for unmanned missions or even maned ones with better equipment and real goals.

KILL IT (2, Insightful)

CajunArson (465943) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920626)

Preface: I'm firmly in the camp that believes that Bush wasn't as bad as we were all told and that Obama is nowhere as great as we've been all told but, Obama got the idea of privatizing LEO work 100% right. I'm getting tired of the rest of the weasels (in both parties) trying to shove even more pork into NASA instead of letting it do its job..
Hell I think the whole "foremost mission of NASA is to make Muslims feel like they are smart" is something that proves that the characters in Atlas Shrugged actually do exist in the real world, but if it means that NASA actually stops actually sabotaging private companies getting into orbit faster & better, I'm all for it! It would be a bonus if NASA actually kept doing the really out-there stuff that's way beyond Earth, but right now I'm not asking for much.

Re:KILL IT (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32920670)

The moment you mention "Atlas Shrugged" you marked yourself as a retard.

Your point is invalid.

Good day.

Re:KILL IT (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32920804)

A judgment based solely on a single literary reference marks YOU as a bigot and several other derogatory terms.

Re:KILL IT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32921060)

I'm pretty sure the "I'm firmly in the camp that believes that Bush wasn't as bad as we were all told" part of his post marked him as a retard well before that.

Re:KILL IT (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32921104)

Have you read the book? Sure, it sucks, but the fact is, that line about "NASA's foremost mission" being one of outreach to the Muslim community could have come straight from one of its villains.

Only a fool rejects wisdom because of its source.

Re:KILL IT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32921332)

The moment you mention "Atlas Shrugged" you marked yourself as a retard.

Not quite - at least the retards have a biological reason for their behavior. Randroids, on the other hand, are just dicks for the fun of it.

And if he doesn't like the Muslim outreach, he must *hate* these liberty-destroying commie-loving fucks: Nixon and Reagan use NASA to build bridges with Soviets [nasa.gov].

Re:KILL IT (1, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921122)

I'm firmly in the camp that believes that Bush wasn't as bad as we were all told and that Obama is nowhere as great as we've been all told

Nope. Bush was just as bad as we were all told, maybe worse. And Obama is just as bad, maybe worse (just in different ways).

As a gun enthusiast and 2nd Amendment supporter, however, I have to hand it to Obama. At least with Obama, I can now carry my handgun in National Parks. I couldn't do that for the whole time Bush was in power, even during the 6 years he had a Republican-controlled Congress working with him.

Re:KILL IT (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32922212)

I'm of the opinion that every president that is elected is worse than their predecessor.

Wrong Direction (5, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920700)

A bill that kills NASA entirely would be a better direction for space research and the United States. Unfortunately the department is too big a political pork football between various state representatives for it to ever be effective. Until we can structure a space organization that won't be a political football - and that's going to take a really radical change - we're only shooting ourselves in the foot.

Re:Wrong Direction (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920742)

Until we can structure a space organization that won't be a political football

Short of a war that includes activities in space I really don't see how that's going to happen. There's no way to involve the Federal Government in anything remotely related to appropriations that won't become a political football.

Re:Wrong Direction (3, Funny)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920834)

ARPA did a better job. If we have the will to define and stick to a mission, we can structure independence into it. If we don't have the will, maybe it's best left to non-government entities.

Re:Wrong Direction (2, Insightful)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920952)

And that falls under "short of a war", Bruce. ARPA was a DoD entity, not a civilian entity.

Re:Wrong Direction (5, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921382)

Uh-huh. I had a nice grant from ARPA at Pixar to work on movie-making software. Why, because they wanted to make 3D technology in the states economically viable. That way, they'd have it if they needed it for war. Unfortunately, not even I could keep SGI afloat with my one little grant.

So, that was my military mission. I don't really mind more like that happening.

Re:Wrong Direction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32921840)

ARPA was a DoD entity, not a civilian entity.

DoD is a "civilian entity".

Re:Wrong Direction (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920930)

A bill that kills NASA entirely would be a better direction for space research and the United States.

Why? With what would you replace NASA so that the space research can continue?

Until we can structure a space organization that won't be a political football...

Oh, I see... So, replacing NASA is not because of the research it does, but because is done in a "political football" fashion?
If this is the problem, then why demolish demolish the stadium (i.e. NASA) if you actually blame the game played on the stadium?

Insurance: (5, Insightful)

Hartree (191324) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920944)

The phrase "baby with the bathwater" comes to mind here. NASA does some things that no other US entity currently does.

We're about to rely on a foreign country as our sole source supplier for manned access to the ISS for at least several years. We don't have a backup. Just as you say NASA is a political football, international relations can be just as unpredictable. Right now we have a shortage of Pu-238 for RTGs in part because we felt we could buy what we needed from the Russians. That's fine. It's a good source for it. But, we didn't move ahead with funding for getting DOE ready to produce more. There's a contract dispute with the Russians that no one anticipated, and that's left us looking for other alternatives.

I prefer to keep a couple of shuttles around and launching at a low rate rather than just relying on Soyuz. Expensive, and hopefully unneeded, but most insurance is like that.

It gives us a backup that won't take years to be ready. Ultimately, a man rated Falcon 9 or some other private launcher would be a good solution. But, we don't have it yet.

Re:Insurance: (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921192)

We have no need to put humans in space urgently, nor a need to use the ISS. Those are dispensable projects.

Hand off the space program to the military, and stick to remote-manned missions. There is plenty of time to send tourists in the future.

Re:Insurance: (2, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921210)

The phrase "baby with the bathwater" comes to mind here. NASA does some things that no other US entity currently does.

Completely agreed but none of the things I care about are tied to the shuttle or derived vehicles.

We're about to rely on a foreign country as our sole source supplier for manned access to the ISS for at least several years.

It gives us a backup that won't take years to be ready. Ultimately, a man rated Falcon 9 or some other private launcher would be a good solution. But, we don't have it yet.

Except it will take years to be ready. The new schedule has the new HLV's first launch in 2015. SpaceX has claimed they could have their first manned launch in 2013.

Frankly I don't expect either schedule to hold, but I still think it's likely that SpaceX will be delivering crew to the ISS before the shuttle-derived launcher can, and at a greatly reduced cost too.

There is no circumstance under which we aren't dependent on the Russians for some period of time, so what is this plan getting us exactly?

Re:Insurance: (1)

Hartree (191324) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921428)

I wasn't particularly arguing in favor of the congressional plan as far as the shuttle derived vehicle. I'm largely agnostic as to what sort of manned access we end up with. I just want to continue to have it. Private launchers would be great. They aren't ready yet. Neither is this proposed HLV based on shuttle tech.

What I was arguing for was a reduced shuttle program as a backup regardless of what we end up deciding to develop for the next launcher. The shuttles are aging, but they currently work. Use Soyuz as a bridge for access to the ISS, but don't rely on it as a sole source. Fly an occasional shuttle flight to keep the team practiced and the facilities checked out. Fully retire the shuttles when you actually have the next launch system ready.

If you don't have the money to develop the next launcher without completely shutting down the existing program, that indicates to me you probably just don't have the money, period. And that requires different aproaches, and gets us into the polical football arena that Perens mentioned.

Re:Insurance: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32922244)

What do you want this reduced shuttle program to do? There are currently no real payloads for the fleet to fly once the current flight manifest is complete. And using the shuttle for ISS crew rotation is overkill, particularly when Soyuz is so much better at it.

Re:Insurance: (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921220)

We're about to rely on a foreign country as our sole source supplier for manned access to the ISS for at least several years

No, we are about to rely on a private company, Space X [spacex.com], to ferry astronauts to the ISS. That seems reasonable to me, with the Russians as a backup / lifeboat.

Re:Insurance: (2, Insightful)

Hartree (191324) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921528)

Well, I'm sure that Elon Musk et al would like to present that as a done deal. But, they don't have a man rated rocket fully operational yet. I do think that ultimately it's a good solution.

Their latest test was very impressive. But, it's just one step on a several year track to being able to provide manned access to the ISS.

Both Soyuz and the shuttle are fully operational now. Not just likely to be in the future. I've watched a lot of projects that looked good not work out for whatever reason. And it's usually not purely technical. (American Rocket, anyone? It can be argued that mostly failed due to an automobile accident.)

Re:Insurance: (3, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921830)

No, we are about to rely on a private company, Space X, to ferry astronauts to the ISS.

Actually, even SpaceX's Elon Musk has stated that SpaceX will probably be a smaller provider, with the United Launch Alliance's Atlas rockets getting more of the commercial crew funding. For those unfamiliar with them, the ULA has had 40 consecutive successful launches in 40 months, often carrying multi-billion dollar DOD payloads critical to national security, so it's pretty indisputable that they have proven rockets. This produces a competitive market in commercial spaceflight, which is of the utmost importance to avoid all the problems inherent with monopolies.

Re:Insurance: (3, Funny)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921434)

Well, ISS is more part of the problem than it is a program we need to support until some future date. What's it for? Not research, that is done better by other programs. It and the shuttle seem to have been designed to justify each other. And unlike interplanetary research, we actually do have free enterprise building near-earth capability.

Use what you got in creative ways: (1)

Hartree (191324) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921784)

Well, regardless of the scientific merits, continuing access to ISS is one of the main points that can sell putting money into SpaceX and other private ventures in the near term. Once again, it may not be what we wanted, but it's what we've got.

Virgin Galactic and some others are gearing up for non-orbital tourist work on their own dime at the moment, but there aren't a whole lot of other manned projects I'd consider advanced contenders at the moment that don't in part rely on providing services to the government. The push for a man rated Falcon 9 certainly does.

I'd go more along with your ideas of doing away with NASA if I thought they had a lot of chance of working. The money saved likely wouldn't be spent on space at all if you didn't have an existing (and politically workable) space related entity to put it toward. That won't change without massive change of the whole government budget process which is, to say the least, a pretty ambitious goal. I'll settle for smaller ones.

Right now the political process is, again, not what we want, but what we've got. And I advise using it shamelessly to get something more to our liking.

(Odd how the discussions never change at some level. This is pretty much the same discussion that was happening in the 1980s on usenet. It's now SpaceX rather than AmRoc/Conestoga, etc.)

Re:Wrong Direction (4, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920964)

A bill that kills NASA entirely would be a better direction for space research and the United States.

Without NASA there would be virtually no space research in the United States, which is only "better" if you aren't in favor of space exploration to begin with. Nobody but NASA is going to launch missions like LISA, Cassini, Deep Impact, Mars Science Laboratory, etc etc. The only people on earth that are doing things like that are other governmental space agencies. Much like NSF, NASA serves a vital function of providing funding for projects that are infeasible for universities and unprofitable for private industry, with basic research that advances the state of knowledge and technology for the future.

The problem with NASA, the thing that makes it a political football, is the huge in-house rocket projects. The shuttle (and now derivatives) represent $billions/year all going to a single project and a small number of contractors. A giant target like that is tempting to get rid of, and nearly impossible for those profiting from it to let go of. Thus the political stalemate.

Yet all the interesting projects I mentioned, and all the technology programs that Obama wanted to have happen and which I pray to God won't be crippled by this compromise, are individually much cheaper. No single constituency has such a stake in them that they will fight tooth and nail to keep them, nor are they such tempting targets for cuts. They're more flexible, and also more broadly addressing the needs of future space exploration.

The shuttle-derived HLV, that does nothing but keep a contractor in business and let NASA have a rocket with its logo on the side, is the problem. Other than that, NASA is fine and does great work and saying it should be killed is the worst idea ever.

Re:Wrong Direction (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921238)

Don't you understand? The moment you kill NASA, private industry will rise to the space research and exploration challenge and do a better job for less money!

Re:Wrong Direction (3, Funny)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921512)

Caltech does just fine building MSL, without all that much help from NASA other than signing checks. You don't need NASA to give Caltech a grant.

Re:Wrong Direction (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921978)

I'm not sure you understand how many NASA employees there are. It's less than 20,000 about 1/5 of the IRS or USDA. The purpose of NASA is to be the National Aeronautic and Space ADMINISTRATION. That means NASA is supposed to take the tax dollars from Congress and figure out how to use that to further the goals stated in the NASA Act. NASA doesn't have enough employees to build anything. They are there to figure out the projects needed, how much to fund them, and make sure the contractors are doing what they are supposed to do. So you are right that Caltech does fine on their own. NASA is really just there to write the specs and the checks. They do keep some technical employees at NASA just because you don't MBA's writing the technical specs and determining if the contractor met them. They are also there to keep some institutional knowledge to help younger companies out.

Re:Wrong Direction (2, Funny)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922120)

They do keep some technical employees at NASA just because you don't MBA's writing the technical specs and determining if the contractor met them.

Yes, but all the reports I hear are that MBAs running the show is indeed happening. And folks with less qualification than MBAs in congress.

It needs to be run by scientists, and with independence.

Re:Wrong Direction (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921208)

A bill that kills NASA entirely would be a better direction for space research and the United States.

That's great. Instead of what we have now, which is some very successful robotic missions (to Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, space telescopes, the Sun, etc.), and a space station that's somewhat useful for microgravity research and research on the effects of weightlessness on humans over long periods, we get nothing, and rely on ESA and JAXA to do all our space science for us. Space research isn't going to happen in the USA without NASA. Private companies certainly aren't going to do it, because there's no profit to be made gathering data about the moons of Saturn.

Until we can structure a space organization that won't be a political football - and that's going to take a really radical change

I don't see why it would be that hard. All we have to do is pass a law giving NASA far more autonomy in its operations, provide guaranteed funding that can't change without 5 years' notice, and merely give it specific goals to accomplish, any way it wants to. The problem is that Congress is too intimately involved in the details of NASA's operations, which is why there's NASA operations in so many states (because it's a political favor to the Congresscritters from those states), and this is also why NASA's mission keeps changing before it has time to even finish them, unless they're small missions (like robotic probes) that it can do in 2 years, before a new crop of Congresscritters takes office.

Re:Wrong Direction (2, Funny)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921546)

Well, today NASA to a great extent relies on Caltech to do the pure science programs for them. Mars Science Lab, etc. Why not cut out the middleman?

Re:Wrong Direction (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921652)

Maybe I'm missing something, but doesn't NASA design and build all the equipment necessary? Yes, I realize a lot of University professors analyze the data brought back by NASA, but getting that data requires physical probes, which must be designed and constructed by engineers and technicians.

Even if NASA outsourced a lot of its work (which it always has--the Apollo rocket engines were built by Rocketdyne, not by NASA, for instance), there still has to be a government agency in place there to coordinate projects and handle funding and dealing with suppliers and putting it all together. Simply sending checks from the Treasury Department directly to some private companies under orders from Congress isn't going to accomplish much.

Re:Wrong Direction (2, Funny)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921946)

Maybe I'm missing something, but doesn't NASA design and build all the equipment necessary?

No. They subcontract that.

Re:Wrong Direction (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921758)

Well, today NASA to a great extent relies on Caltech to do the pure science programs for them. Mars Science Lab, etc. Why not cut out the middleman?

JPL is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center [wikipedia.org] (FFRDC) operated by Caltech, the only one NASA has. Other government agencies use the FFRDC approach to a greater extent, e.g. the DOE's national labs, and they tend to operate much more efficiently than government-operated centers. One of the really great recommendations of the 2004 Aldridge Commission [wikipedia.org] was to evolve the existing NASA Centers into the FFRDCs, although Congress put this idea in the grave pretty quickly as it tends to make pork much more difficult.

Bruce, YOU are the wrong direction (1, Flamebait)

DanDD (1857066) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921336)

Bruce, you've always had a problem dealing with the establishment - HP, GNU, etc. You like to be in the limelight and run your own show. You don't play well with others, especially not on teams. You don't have the right kind of engineering background to comment intelligently on anything NASA does, although any warm blooded primate can fairly criticize the vast ineptitude of congress.

I think perhaps your dislike of congressional bumbling has spread a bit too far in your anti-establishment bashing of NASA. Bathwater analogies are very appropriate in this case. You rightly criticize the stupid directions NASA has been forced down, but your criticism goes a bit overboard here.

Congress (2, Funny)

Machupo (59568) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920714)

They should just mandate that NASA builds a space elevator by 2020 and be done with it...

Re:Congress (1)

the gnat (153162) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920836)

They should just mandate that NASA builds a space elevator by 2020 and be done with it...

Are you being sarcastic, or just delusional?

Re:Congress (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920938)

Are you being sarcastic, or just delusional?

It's about as likely to happen as NASA getting a new heavy lifter off the ground by 2015; not that it matters since they have no use for it.

Re:Congress (3, Funny)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921580)

Heavy lifters might be safer for people on the ground than space elevators. Think about what happens if the belt breaks.

Re:Congress (1)

RandomAdam (1837998) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920978)

Got to be sarcasm, there is no way we have the tech to build the fibre yet.....let alone get it into space in a controlled way.

Bad, bad mistake. (4, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920734)

What we've got here is the worst of both worlds, reducing the effectiveness of both robotic and manned spaceflight, with no meaningful budget to pay for either. Adding one more Shuttle flight won't bridge any gap whatsoever, but to get an alternative launch vehicle any time soon is going to require ploughing in ten times the resources that had been allocated to the task. The new capsule plus the extra shuttle launch will, however, bleed cash away from other projects, making them far less likely to yield useful results. Thus, what you get is a lot of money wasted with no possibility of return, all for the sake of helping out some poor rocket provider who is running out of death merchants to sell to.

This is worse than bailing out the banks. At least the government was honest enough to say that it was the banks they were giving the money to. It was dishonest about everything else, sure, but at least there was at least one bullet point you could claim was sincere. In this case, there is a clearly defined effort to obscure who is getting the money and why. Perhaps because nobody is going to believe that this rocket vendor is too big to fail.

NASA gets nothing from this compromise. Let us understand that right from the start. NASA will lose. The only way NASA can win is if they get sane objectives AND the backing to make those objectives possible. Almost anything could be made "sane", if it were clearly stated and adequately funded and was likely to remain adequately funded from start to finish and was not going to be tortured into oblivion for political reasons. (The Space Shuttle should have been twice as good as it was, and even the Russians had a better space shuttle, but it was crippled in order to serve the selfish desires of politicians who put their popularity over not only the space program itself but also over the lives of those who would put that program into action.)

Re:Bad, bad mistake. (5, Insightful)

BearRanger (945122) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920772)

I agree completely, it's a bad mistake. But you have to learn to think like a Congress-person. The money isn't being wasted. It's buying jobs in your constituency just before an election. The good of the organization or the country be damned. It's all about self preservation-- and by self preservation I mean re-election.

Re:Bad, bad mistake. (2, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921066)

But you have to learn to think like a Congress-person

Errr, maybe the word you are looking for is "bribe"?

Re:Bad, bad mistake. (1)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921656)

Well, that's the intrinsic downside of democracy. Your political leaders have an incentive to whore for votes in the next election, and virtually no incentive to do what's best for the country in the long term.

I suppose there's an argument in there for monarchy - a king isn't subject to the fickle whims of the electorate, and since his offspring are going to inherit his throne, he has some incentive to leave them a country that's in fairly decent order.

Re:Bad, bad mistake. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32922174)

there's an argument in there for monarchy - a king isn't subject to the fickle whims of the electorate

Why am I not surprised that a member of a white supremacist group would argue for the upside of a monarchy.

[NOTE: "Third Position" is a white supremacist, nativist group trying to pass itself off on community-based websites like this one as part of the mainstream. Don't be fooled.]

Re:Bad, bad mistake. (2, Insightful)

steve buttgereit (644315) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920990)

Just wait till this same sensible decision making acumen of the political class is more powerfully governing our banking system, our health care system and our energy policy.

Re:Bad, bad mistake. (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921176)

The DoE has managed the energy policy for decades. Since the Federal Reserve is selected by Congress, they've run the banking system for forever. Since the FDA controls the supply of meds and the CDC controls the demand, they've also had control of the parts of the health care system that really matter.

At the end of the day, though, corrupt politicians can be replaced. Corrupt businessmen cannot. It is not the fault of the system that voters deliberately and knowingly keep picking corrupt politicians to replace other corrupt politicians, that is purely the fault of the electorate. Indeed, even if they are being bribed, it is still their fault. They chose to accept the bribe and they chose to return the favour. The electorate needs to accept personal responsibility for the flaws in government because the electorate selected it.

(I would be greatly in favour of a change in the rules which allowed class-action lawsuits against voting districts that vote to re-elect any politician where that politician is later convicted of a serious crime and where it can be proven in court beyond reasonable doubt that the majority of people in that voting district re-elected that politician with the intent that said crime take place. The restrictions I'm suggesting are such that you'd almost never get such a case, but if there's no other way of getting voters to accept responsibility for where they cast their vote, anything that discourages abuse of the ballot box for personal gain has to be a good thing.)

Re:Bad, bad mistake. (1)

steve buttgereit (644315) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922054)

Lets see...

DoE: You're right and they have managed it for decades... and what was their mission? Oh yeah.. oversee the end of U.S. dependence on foreign oil in the wake of OPEC embargo of the 70's. They've done a stunning job, so now we want to given them greater influence in energy policy and to do it with greater power and money than before. I'm only sure you want them to be as successful in their future as they have been in their past.

The Fed: Yes, to a large degree you're right there, too. They have been managing the banking system for decades. And over the years they have been incredibly destructive. The Fed's cheap money monetary policy of the 90's helped inflate the .com asset bubble... which popped as soon as the Fed began tightening. They brought the rates back down, of course, and in conjunction with stimulus (in the form of the Bush tax breaks, without spending cuts) they helped to change the risk picture of real estate investing. Indeed, I'll have to dig up the quote, but Greenspan himself was urging the use of ARMs to finance housing... never mind the other financial regulatory policies from other areas of the Government (my favorite was Barney Frank's desire to "roll the dice" with looser Freddie Mac & Fannie Mae standards... I guess he crapped out). Boy that worked out real good. And Bernanke can't figure out why Gold is up? HA! But we're content to give more over to the Fed. I'm sure you want them to keep up their stellar track record worked out so well for us up to now.

See, I'd take 1000 corrupt businessmen over a corrupt politician any day of the week. There is nothing a corrupt businessman, by himself, can do to force me to do business with him. But a corrupt politician... he can force me to under threat of force, to do his will.

Re:Bad, bad mistake. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32921534)

I agree it's a mistake, but I think the mistake stems from trying to keep Orion going after it was discovered that each launch would cost ~$1 billion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orion_%28spacecraft%29#Funding_and_expected_cost). Part of the reason for developing Orion was to provide cheaper access to space, and in creating a new launch system with costs that are basically inline with a Shuttle launch, NASA has simply failed and should give up before wasting more money. Especially with the possibility of the commercial sector (which already does the s lot of NASAs engineering work) to step up and provide cheap access to space.

Help me with the timeline (1)

Cyclloid (948776) | more than 3 years ago | (#32920898)

???: Ares; Constellation; Phase out shuttle

Obama: Privatize LEO; No moon; Heavy lift rocket for Mars & asteroids

Armstrong: Denounces Obama's space plans

NASA: Scales back Constellation program (against a congressional ban)

Senate: Heavy Lifter using old tech(Atlas)

NASA: 5 Million for robot prizes

Senate: Add 1+ shuttle flight(s?); Ares rocket replaced by shuttle rocket + Orion capsule

Accurate?

Re:Help me with the timeline (1)

Normal Dan (1053064) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921042)

I have no idea. I've been wondering this myself.

It seems as though our politicians keep changing things. I'm not really sure how I would feel as a NASA employee, or what to work on. Obama says, "Screw the moon, I'm setting up a 20 year project to go to Mars." A few years down the line the next president will say, "Screw Mars, I'm setting up a 20 year project to go to the moon." Meanwhile congress flip flops back and forth on all kinds of things.

We ought to just pick a few projects and STICK TO THEM!

Re:Help me with the timeline (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921134)

Exactly. NASA is the Microsoft of government agencies. The engineers are capable of building great things, but any project worth doing is worth doing right, and any project worth doing right will probably take longer than the tenure of whatever politician or administrator sponsored it. When the new head honcho comes in, or the next election is held, the old administration's pet projects are put in a box and gassed.

Re:Help me with the timeline (1)

Cyclloid (948776) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921214)

I agree to the "STICK TO THEM" policy in most cases(there are times when project sap vast amounts of money and still make little to no progress).

However, that being said what I would like to see is a set of 5-10 well outline projects with goals and have the people vote on the projects. No need for the easily influenced politicians to be involved when technology allows you to go directly to the people.

Also these projects could have a built in rule/law that the project could not be canceled until X number of years after started and only if it had missed 50% or more of its deadlines/milestones/goals during that time(allows cancellation for those money sapping unfeasible projects, but protects projects making progress).

Yes we don't want to have the people voting on every little project, but they could easily vote on the "lofty goal" of NASA every 8-10 years.

Re:Help me with the timeline (1)

Normal Dan (1053064) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921346)

I have mixed feeling about letting people vote on individual projects, people don't always vote for what's best. Voting on the "lofty goal" however might be an idea.

This however:

Also these projects could have a built in rule/law that the project could not be canceled until X number of years after started and only if it had missed 50% or more of its deadlines/milestones/goals during that time(allows cancellation for those money sapping unfeasible projects, but protects projects making progress).

I would support 100%. Other than hashing out the details I can't really think of anything to say to this except "I agree".

Re:Help me with the timeline (4, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921442)

Obama says, "Screw the moon, I'm setting up a 20 year project to go to Mars."

But that's not what he said. He said "I'm creating projects to develop technology that could enable a mission to Mars in 20 years", and that's a huge difference. He's talking about developing general technologies and capabilities that would be useful for a wide variety of missions outside of Mars, and if nobody wants to pull the trigger on the Mars mission in 20 years, we still have all the technology and capabilities. Mars was only mentioned to make the people who think we must have a specific mission happy (and it's not a bad policy to at least have a practical application in mind).

Whereas a definite "Mars in 20 years" would mean lots of development of tech designed for that mission and only that mission. 20 years to have enough technology in place that a Mars mission doesn't require that much specific development is a much more sensible, useful, and future-proof plan.

But hey, I guess having a giant expensive rocket that can't do anything rockets of 30 years ago couldn't do is nice too. :/

Re:Help me with the timeline (1)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921700)

I'm not really sure how I would feel as a NASA employee, or what to work on.

The same way you feel when you're the employee of a large company that keeps initiating and canceling projects and can't seem to figure out what direction it's headed in. You find a way to look busy, and continue to collect your check without working too hard, since you know anything you put any effort into will never see the light of day, anyway. Guess what NASA's employees are probably doing?

We ought to just pick a few projects and STICK TO THEM!

Well, you've convinced me - try telling it to the government.

Re:Help me with the timeline (2, Informative)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921166)

You missed :

Aldrin : Strongly supports Obama's space plans.

Re:Help me with the timeline (4, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921694)

Let me try, using your timeline as a base (feel free to modify/copy/reuse):

2003: Space Shuttle Columbia accident

2004: Bush announces Vision for Space Exploration [nasa.gov] for sustainable human presence on the Moon starting in 2020 as testbed for Mars exploration and expansion into the solar system, calls for shuttle retirement in 2010 and replacement crew capability in operation by 2014, calls for commercial cargo/crew to ISS and no new launch vehicles developed unless absolutely necessary, NASA solicits plans from industry for best ways to achieve these goals

2005: Sean O'Keefe resigns as NASA administrator, Bush appoints Michael Griffin and gives him free reign with NASA, Michael Griffin throws out industry studies and NASA releases ESAS study which has NASA design two rockets in-house instead of utilizing commercial rockets (The Ares I and V, coincidentally based on old designs Michael Griffin came up with), ostensibly because they're "safe, simple, and soon" compared to alternatives

2005-present: Ares I development slips in schedule a year for every year that it exists, costs balloon from a few billion dollars to tens of billions of dollars, 2020 lunar date becomes increasingly unachievable

2009: NASA and White House appoint Augustine Committee, consisting of best and brightest from aerospace and astronaut community, to evaluate Constellation's progress and come up with options for future of
human spaceflight at NASA; they release a report [nasa.gov] presenting a number of viable options for NASA's beyond-Earth exploration plans

February 2010: White House calls for boost to NASA's budget (but not as large as Augustine Committee presented) releases plan similar to Augustine Report's option 5B [spacepolicyonline.com], calling for investments in commercial crew and long-neglected space technology and cancellation of Ares I, delays building of heavy-lift launcher until 2015 since it won't be needed until then; a lot of congressmen in space states freak out

March-July 2010: lots of back and forth discussion and congressional hearings, Armstrong and Cernan come out against White House Plans, Buzz Aldrin comes out in favor; NASA scales back Ares/Constellation program without congressional approval, ostensibly to comply with termination liability laws

June-July 2010: NASA announces a bunch of new space technology initiatives (contingent on White House funding plans coming through), including new Centennial Challenge [nasa.gov] prize competitions (Nanosatellite launch, night rover, and sample return robot challenge) , revived NIAC to research experimental concepts, in-space technology demonstrations/missions utilizing in-space refueling, inflatable modules, electric propulsion, and inflatable reentry shields, all launched on existing commercial rockets

Today (July 15): Senate comes out with compromise bill, adding 1+ shuttle flight using existing equipment (no backup rescue shuttle if there's a problem, though); immediate development of 75mt shuttle-derived rocket quite similar to the one proposed by the DIRECT project [directlauncher.com], more commercial crew, robotic precursor mission, and space technology funding than 2010 but much less than Obama requested (over three years $1.6B vs. $3.3B for commercial crew, $244M vs. $1.33B exploration robotic precursor missions, $2.1B vs. $8B space technology development/missions); White House and Congress potentially both support the compromise, though

why spend money on this? (1)

gamecrusader (1684024) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921052)

time to spend our money on teleportation a much faster way of transfering things and transport any size thing any weight think about how much resources could be saved if we just built the space station on the ground then teleported it to space.
we could travel to the end of the universe in seconds
we wouldn't run out of room on the planet we could just teleport to the moon or mars or anyother part of the universe and live there.

Shuttle : No spare parts (2, Informative)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921186)

I was told by people who work on the Shuttle that a decision to run another shuttle flight should have been made 1-2 years ago, that there are not enough spare parts to do this, and that this is basically throwing good money after bad.

Too late (4, Insightful)

S-100 (1295224) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921250)

It's too late now to go back to the Shuttle. It should have been retired over a decade ago, and its only utility at this point is as a man-rated LEO transporter and (uneconomic) heavy lift booster The die is cast, so just pay Russia for the manned spaceflight services. It will be much cheaper, and no more dangerous.

But discontinuing Aries/Constellation is a mistake. Any accommodation for a Mars mission for those craft should be dropped as premature and uneconomic. Orion should be limited in scope to earth/moon shuttle visits and no more - and the timeline appropriately accelerated. With just sliderules and pencils we went from Mercury to Apollo in fewer years than the Constellation program has taken to do next to nothing. We're stuck in a cycle of increasing the capabilities of the program in order to make it "sexy", and by the time it's approved it's much more costly to build and will take much longer to develop.

So task Aries/Constellation with a moon mission, and leave LEO to private industry or contracting with the Russians. Instead of spending $2 billion on another shuttle flight, give 10 space start-ups $200 million each, and a free hand - I guarantee that in the end we will have much more to show from it.

Re:Too late (2, Funny)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921606)

What is really wild is that this discussion goes on while X-37B is over our heads. Why not declassify it and leave it in the hands of DOD?

Re:Too late (1)

S-100 (1295224) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921796)

X-37B is too small. We were already working on a bigger manned version: the X-38:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-38 [wikipedia.org]

Development was unceremoniously dropped in 2002 due to "budget cuts". All they needed was a shroud and a booster like they now use for the X-37B and there ya go, instant shuttle replacement. As for cargo, there's no reason to send up cargo on a man-rated craft. Need special handling in orbit? You have a crew already just hanging out in the ISS.

Re:Too late (2, Funny)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921936)

Well, X-37B and X-38 seem to share a lot other than size, and the program's been in development all of that time.

Re:Too late (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922112)

Well, X-37B and X-38 seem to share a lot other than size, and the program's been in development all of that time.

SpaceDev's (now Sierra Nevada's) Dream Chaser is an upgraded version of the X-38 and planned to launch on an Atlas V, and is one of the top contenders for commercial access to LEO under the White House's plans for NASA:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SpaceDev_Dream_Chaser [wikipedia.org]
http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=awst&id=news/awst/2010/02/22/AW_02_22_2010_p53-204735.xml&headline=Sierra%20Nevada%20Building%20On%20NASA%20Design [aviationweek.com]

Re:Too late (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922272)

With just sliderules and pencils we went from Mercury to Apollo in fewer years than the Constellation program has taken to do next to nothing

Von Braun's body is a moulderin' in the ground and we aint got the moon no more.
Apollo was pretty well the payoff of continuing work from a growing group of experts since about 1940, a different group from those that worked on Mercury and they had the some groundwork for Apollo established before Mercury flew.
Aries/Constellation is surrounded by so much politics that it's hard to burrow down to what is real and if it's about being a pointless pork project. If care isn't taken a project could end up being far worse of a compromise that fails at it's initial objective than the shuttle was, paticularly since funding doesn't appear to be about need or merit - there's little to stop the worst solutions from winning since so little is decided on technical grounds.
Pork politics has killed astronauts and will kill again unless it is removed from the process.

The Attleboro Moon website (-1, Offtopic)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 3 years ago | (#32921712)

A month later the Attleboro Moon website appears, courtsey of all the attled people pissed at the newsPAPER acting like such a dick.

    This website has local classified, blog spots where people can write to, local historical information (and there's a lot in a town 20 miles away from where the Pilgrims landed), grocery store ads, lost dog and cat pleas for help, road closure updates, legal notices, and, if they're really lucky, a MILF exchange.

    Basically what the newspaper is supposed to be doing. With a 25 cents per posted message fee (1 word or a book length submission, all 25 cents a message), where you can pay in $10 or $25 dollar blocks through PayPal.

    Newspaper people are complete lame-o's. They have been for the past twenty years. The bigger the paper, the bigger the fools running it.

    Has anyone noticed that the towns that right next to each other in New England (like Attleboro and Taunton and Brighton) are on completely opposite ends of the country in merry-old-England? Tell people in England that you grew up in New England and rode your bicycle every day between Taunton and Attleboro and watch their mouths drop.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32922140)

Why on earth dosent the US just put the up half the money as a prize for the first global business that can provide them a safe launch vehicle for, i dont know, a tenth of the cost of the space shuttle for a similar lift capacity...

NASA just seems to have the goal of continuing its current level of employment for the next 20 years, from my australian perspective anyway, not like my country has done anything space related...

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