×

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

Thank you!

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

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

NASA's Commercial Plans for Kennedy Space Center

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the free-tang-for-everyone dept.

NASA 106

coondoggie writes "Whether or not NASA launches two or three more shuttle missions, NASA's venerable hub of operations, the Kennedy Space Center will need a new mission. That's why NASA today said it was looking to morph the center's unique space rocket facilities into a new more commercial role after the shuttles stop flying. While its facilities would likely rise far above others, NASA could find some competition in any commercial launch venture."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

106 comments

Third world people = third world country (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34998366)

Yes, the United States is turning into a third world country. We won't actually send any spacecraft into space any more, just turn the bones of the Kennedy Space Center into Disneyland.

How sickening.

But I keep forgetting, blacks are just as intelligent as whites, that explains, oh, I don't know, the last five hundred years of human history, with whites inventing virtually EVERYTHING and blacks doing nothing but ruining our lives.

Anybody got anything FACTUAL to rebut this?

Re:Third world people = third world country (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34998420)

You know, the first half of your comment was reasonable. Why did you have to go and ruin it?

Re:Third world people = third world country (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34998458)

Anybody got anything FACTUAL to rebut this?

You're a moron, and a troll.

Re:Third world people = third world country (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34998728)

Wow, nice let out. I see that the Slashdot 'intelligent' crowd have well and truly drunk the Kool-aid.

In other words, you are clinging onto your insane (i.e. unreal) view of the world, in order to avoid facing reality.

Non-whites are destroying white countries. Everybody knows it.
Calling people "trolls" doesn't stop that from being the truth.

Your children are going to hate you so much for landing them in hell on earth, living as a white minority, surrounded by hundreds of millions of hate filled, demanding non-whites, most of whom think that whites owe them something, for some strange reason.

I see that none of the Slashdot idiots could rebut a single word I said - yet still delight in telling ME I'm in the wrong!

Re:Third world people = third world country (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34998794)

No one rebuts your posts because doing so would dignify their existence. Much like if someone claimed that the earth was flat, I wouldn't bother citing a few thousand years of empirical evidence to prove them wrong. The fact is, you can't fix stupid, so sometimes it just makes more sense to ignore it.

Re:Third world people = third world country (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34999492)

If you'd just admit that you really want to suck on a non-white cock, you'd be a lot happier.

It's OK to be gay, look how well it turned out for your dad.

Re:Third world people = third world country (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998736)

Yea, the US just launched a rocket on 1-20-11 from Vandenberg.

Re:Third world people = third world country (1)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999510)

Yea, the US just launched a rocket on 1-20-11 from Vandenberg.

Florida condos just in time for the housing bounce-back!

So they're openining a theme park? (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998370)

All the tourists going there will finally have space-o-rama roller coasters and extraterrestial-terror-haunted-space-shutte train ride?

Re:So they're openining a theme park? (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 3 years ago | (#35000080)

All the tourists going there will finally have space-o-rama roller coasters and extraterrestial-terror-haunted-space-shutte train ride?

Houston has already gone that route. I was there last summer and the main attraction was a giant Clone Wars playset. At least they still had the actual historical artifacts available off in a corner.

Rust (3, Insightful)

emkyooess (1551693) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998388)

Hopefully they don't intend it to continue on simply as a history tourist attraction. When I visited last summer, the "rocket garden" left me sad. Everything was terribly rusted and so on.

Re:Rust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34998748)

Most of the people working at NASA are over 50 years old. Nobody new was hired for the past 15-20 years.

Re:Rust (1)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999522)

Most of the people working at NASA are over 50 years old. Nobody new was hired for the past 15-20 years.

I think they were talking about the displays, not the employees.

Re:Rust (3, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999518)

Maybe it was meant to be symbolic of the agency itself.

I mean, let's face it, man may one day set foot on Mars. But the odds that he'll be wearing a NASA patch on his suit has been dropping pretty steadily ever since the early 70's.

Re:Rust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35004970)

This interests me very little - tell me when I can bid for Kennedy on eBay.

Re:Rust (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34999588)

JSC has a SATURN V (complete with Apollo CSM) as a fucking LAWN ORNAMENT. It don't get much sadder than that.

Re:Rust (2)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001758)

actually the Saturn V is not a lawn ornament, it is housed inside a tourista building. It is (or was) a flight-qualified vehicle, and a sci-fi movie used it in their story. Situation was hostile space aliens have a few "forward air controllers" as part of plans to launch an invasion of earth but how could NASA launch some guys to the moon, "hey, we already got a launch vehicle at KSC!" So off they go and successfully put a stop to the invasion. OK so offtopic, somewhat entertaining movie. It also starred Walter Koenig (name? same actor that played Chekov in Star Trek). There was another scene while traveling on the moon in a lunar rover, rover batteries die. One astronaut says, "So what do we do now?" Other answers, "We walk." First guy says, "Wow astonishing concept!"

Re:Rust (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999750)

I wonder if the plan is to convert NASA sections from centralized-commercial into outsourced commercial, undercover-military to overt-military, and research.

Re:Rust (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999952)

the could always reposition it as a elder engineer's retirement village. The sad fact is that NASA's mission for space was hijacked by politics. The Future in space looks like it will be more like Firefly: Mandarin speakers.

Re:Rust (2)

blincoln (592401) | more than 3 years ago | (#35000124)

Hopefully they don't intend it to continue on simply as a history tourist attraction. When I visited last summer, the "rocket garden" left me sad. Everything was terribly rusted and so on.

In all fairness to the staff there, that's what happens to any metal that's left outside for very long in that environment. So their options are:

Recycle it instead of displaying it.
Display it outside, and clean it up every once in awhile.
Spend a bunch of money building an enclosed space for it, like they did with the Saturn V.
Ship it somewhere else, like the Air Force museum in Dayton.

That's why if you take one of the extended tours, a lot of it is just verbal "this is where X used to be" kind of stuff.

Space camp and amusement park (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34998404)

Let's face it, we, the US of A are a declining power and can't afford our former glory as a space pioneer.

Let's take Kennedy Space Center, turn it into an amusement park with the over priced tickets and food, get some sort of mascot like an alien, market it towards kids, and make some money. I think if they hire an ex-Disney exec it could work! And if they follow Disney's lead, then thy could sue other countries space programs for some sort of copyright infringement or something, they could make even more money - even actually do some spacey type of exploration to make it look like they're doing some sciency type of stuff.

It'll work!

Re:Space camp and amusement park (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34998452)

Actually, the planet can't afford it. There's actually nothing to pioneer in space, it's empty.

Re:Space camp and amusement park (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34998614)

Yes, there is no moon, no other planets, no sun, no stars in the sky, and the stars that don't exist certainly wouldn't have planets if they did...

Re:Space camp and amusement park (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34999180)

Please compute the energy required to get there, compared to staying here. For all practical purposes, with our energy and technology, yes, space is empty. Telling you the ocean is full of gold and uranium does you no good if you can't breathe underwater or have no technology to process vast quantities of seawater. Why do otherwise sane and rational people, who ostensibly are technical, scientific and engineering-based, suddenly lose all perspective and turn into religious fundamentalists when it comes to space??

IT'S EMPTY. There is uncountably more NOTHING in space than the few planets and stars! WHY DO YOU FORGET THIS!?

Re:Space camp and amusement park (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34999404)

You seem to have a different definition of the word "few" than I do.

Re:Space camp and amusement park (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34999696)

Again, you miss the point. There is so much MORE NOTHING in space than something. It's dilute, and FAR away. Our furthest "spaceship" has taken decades and is still "local". How much nothing has it passed, and how many pebbles? The ratio of something/nothing in space is very much against you. And the price of ores is far too low to make it worth anyone's time to mine even the Moon. And if ores got expensive, how could we afford to build the massive infrastructure needed to mine another celestial body? And where would the energy come from?

You seem to have different definitions for sane, rational, feasible, practical and reality than I do.

Re:Space camp and amusement park (2)

dingfelder (819778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35000918)

what does the ratio have to do with anything?

if I take some gold and put it in a huge tank of air, I could then say there is so much more air in there than the gold, that the gold is not relevant. That is obviously false. The only thing that matters is the cost effectiveness of going and getting it.

Along those lines, there is a *lot* more stuff, just in our local solar system than there is on earth itself. So drop the "ratio" argument.

Now is it cost effective to go get it?

*That* is a reasonable question.

There are of course other possible reasons to go to space (other than getting stuff to make profit) such as science experiments, perceived need to colonise, etc but I sense that those are out of scope for your argument.

Re:Space camp and amusement park (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35002052)

Let's say the tank is the size of a planet. Furthermore, it's completely empty, a vacuum. The amount of gold is, say, a ton. It's floating around in there. You have no air, so no aircraft of any kind will work. You'll need to bring everything along, fuel, oxidizer, fail-safe machines, etc. Assuming it's unmanned. OK, now what? I can just dig a hole here on Earth, hire a few third-worlders at slave wages, mistreat them, and get them to dig it out.

On team B, we have you, who has to not only invent a whole slew of technological marvels, but then to build them, power them, and FINANCE them. To get what? A ton of gold that some schmuck in a hell hole on Earth can get you next week?

The same applies to any element.

There is no need to go into space. The so-called "science experiments" are nothing more than stunts to get type-A astronauts to float around in a tin can for a few days. Then what? So what.

Look, it's over. Deal with it. We do not have the technology or the energy to mine space. It's utterly delusional to think we can, or that it's somehow urgently needed.

Re:Space camp and amusement park (2)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998876)

except for all the raw materials that we will need to continue onward. all those rare earth metals? guess what they can be found on other planets too.

For all we know there could major deposits of the rare minerals on mars. The real trick is getting it, and getting cheap enough to be useful.

Re:Space camp and amusement park (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34998890)

Space has a lot of stuff. We're somewhat insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Here's some perspective [wikipedia.org] . Yes, that is a scale image of our sun next to another star. Yes, that star is within our area of this galaxy. The concept of affording things or not needs to be thrown out. If US unemployment is 10%, that's over 10 million people that could be doing something else in life.

Re:Space camp and amusement park (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998486)

Don't forget the southern baptists claiming there are hidden sex messages in the moon landing videos!

Re:Space camp and amusement park (1)

Megahard (1053072) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998954)

The Vehicle Assembly Building could be turned into a Thunderdome kind of entertainment. If they're really serious about making some big money.

Re:Space camp and amusement park (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34999232)

Can't afford or chose not to afford? If we used half the money which was spent in Iraq to do something productive.... And don't tell me that isn't a choice, America certainly didn't have to go there nor did Americans have to elect the crooks who sent them. TWICE!

Re:Space camp and amusement park (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34999932)

Uhhhhh... "Can't afford or chose not to afford" are pretty much equivalent. But it's worse than that: we just don't have the technology or the energy for these delusional and grandiose plans, despite what the Space Nutters say.

Proposals to restore a country (2, Interesting)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999296)

Open immigration to large numbers of people able to work, with strong preferences for those with higher levels of education, while there is space and infrastructure to fit more people. Create free or low-cost public knowledge-level tests for all subjects, and create a public record of all documented skills. Campaign for reduction of imports of everything, balanced trade levels, and for self-reliance, for all countries. Create lots of stimulus for people to study constantly throughout life. Promote the idea that you should consume only what you need, not be wasteful or greedy, and produce as much as you can. Create neighborhood citizen councils, with large powers to decide on what happens in their neighborhoods, emphasizing communications, work, health and education, and excluding only the promotion of violence or discriminatory actions. Propose laws requiring all government employees, officials and their families to use only public services, especially in health and education, available to all people of all income levels. Require everyone to participate in some level of civic life. Create tax laws balancing property levels to a max proportion of 1000-to-1 for wealthy-to-poverty levels.

Re:Proposals to restore a country (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34999814)

You got a five year plan for that, Comrade?

Re:Proposals to restore a country (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001028)

You should google "immigration gumballs" to see how increasing immigration will do nothing to solve the problems of the world. It also addresses how trying to attract even more of the "best of the best" from other countries can cause more harm than good when you consider the effect of the drain on their home country.

You are better off trying to help those developing country "help" themselves through increased international trade and providing aid for development of infrastructure in those other nations.

Following that approach is a "win-win" since you are developing another potential market for your country's products and services.

Re:Space camp and amusement park (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999826)

Let's face it, we, the US of A are a declining power and can't afford our former glory as a space pioneer.

Let's take Kennedy Space Center, turn it into an amusement park with the over priced tickets and food, get some sort of mascot like an alien, market it towards kids, and make some money.

They're already doing it.

Re:Space camp and amusement park (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 3 years ago | (#35002114)

What we can't afford are two wars, one utterly baseless, and the other having been dragged on way too long.

NASA's total budget is less than Northrup Grumman's (the THIRD largest US defense contractor).

Commercial space missions alone can't quite cut it (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998432)

I'm all for it, but I have my doubts that anyone is going to invest several million to launch a Mars exploration mission with no profits whatsoever in the forseeable future.

Re:Commercial space missions alone can't quite cut (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34998866)

I'm all for it, but I have my doubts that anyone is going to invest several million to launch a Mars exploration mission with no profits whatsoever in the forseeable future.

If you or anyone else has even the rough outline of a workable plan to get to Mars for anything close to several million I expect you'd have to beat investors off with a stick, many would do it just for the publicity, without any expectation of direct ROI. The trouble is getting a man to Mars would likely cost more on the order of several Billion and that's to do it badly.

Re:Commercial space missions alone can't quite cut (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998960)

I think there's less reason for doubt than is generally believed. There's been a fair bit of interest in resource extraction. Primarily for the moon, but likewise for Mars. The present players seem fairly comfortable with the engineering aspects [ieee.org] . The main concern relates more to legal title to the resources once extracted. The wealth locked up in NEOs is unfathomable and the private sector is in a far better position to leverage it than government.

Re:Commercial space missions alone can't quite cut (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999092)

The main concern relates more to legal title to the resources once extracted. The wealth locked up in NEOs is unfathomable and the private sector is in a far better position to leverage it than government.

The Outer Space Treaty pretty much makes it clear that legal title to the resources of the rest of the solar system won't be available to any private individual or corporation.

Which means that there's no incentive whatsoever to bother developing the capability to go there and extract said resources....

Re:Commercial space missions alone can't quite cut (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999716)

Given parties with enough cash/clout, any treaty can be set aside. I'd bet that if a party well-heeled enough to get a mining system set up to get rare minerals from the moon to Earth on a fairly inexpensive basis (perhaps with a space elevator), the Outer Space Treaty would be shelved or amended to nothingness by at least one country.

Re:Commercial space missions alone can't quite cut (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999786)

Given parties with enough cash/clout, any treaty can be set aside. I'd bet that if a party well-heeled enough to get a mining system set up to get rare minerals from the moon to Earth on a fairly inexpensive basis (perhaps with a space elevator), the Outer Space Treaty would be shelved or amended to nothingness by at least one country.

Given that you'd have to spend a buttload of money first, convincing people to invest in an operation that can't ever make a return on investment without overturning a Treaty, I suspect it'll be a bit harder than you might expect.

TREATY?! We don't need no steenkin' TREATY! (2)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#35000008)

Don't like us strip mining the moon? Well come on up and do something about it beeotches!


And realistically, at this point in the game, I foresee absolutely nothing that would be exported back to Mutha Eurth except information and energy. Anything you build out there is most likely going to be local support infrastructure or outward looking.

Re:Commercial space missions alone can't quite cut (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35000312)

a fairly inexpensive basis (perhaps with a space elevator),

Only in a Space Nutter thread will non-existent fairy tale technologies that don't have a single shred of physical reality to them, and even if they did, they would require the GNP of the entire planet (GPP?) for the next few decades to even start getting built, be considered "fairly inexpensive".

Tell me, if we did build one, wouldn't that prove we have ALL the resources, energy and technology we need, RIGHT HERE????

Re:Commercial space missions alone can't quite cut (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35000926)

Tell me, if we did build one, wouldn't that prove we have ALL the resources, energy and technology we need, RIGHT HERE????

Building a space elevator is more a matter of finding a material which actually works than finding energy and resources... and right now I'm not aware of one.

In any case, a space elevator would be pointless for bring material _down_ from the moon since you can just drop it into some empty part of the planet and process it there. A space elevator would be good for taking bulk cargo up, and delicate things like people and manufactured products down, but if you have a kilometer-sized asteroid or lump of moon rock that you want to bring down to Earth then just deorbit it and hope you don't hit New York.

Of course in the real world the cost of bringing that material to Earth would make pretty much any resource unaffordably expensive anyway. No-one's going to spend untold billions of dollars building massive space infrastructure in order to extract iron from the moon or asteroids when they can dig it out of the ground.

Re:Commercial space missions alone can't quite cut (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35002366)

"Building a space elevator is more a matter of finding a material which actually works than finding energy and resources... and right now I'm not aware of one."

I think you overestimate how much energy we actually have at our disposal. It's not that much. Can you imagine the environmental impact when the space elevator fails or gets attacked? That's called "reality", and it's like Kryptonite to Space Nutters. And yeah, there's no physical basis for a Space Elevator. It's on the same level as Larry Niven's Ringworld. Completely fantastical and unscientific.

Re:Commercial space missions alone can't quite cut (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999758)

No one is proposing that NASA disappear. Well, a few people are, but they're mostly ignored as the fringe.

Commercialization means that for a potential Mars mission, or Asteroid mission, or anything else, most of the lifting from the surface to LEO would be done by commercial providers where possible. Some people still think a customized NASA-specific heavy lift vehicle would be necessary, so I'll go with that. However, imagine if you could just launch all the heavy stuff on that, and then put the people up in a light and cheap Falcon-9/Dragon combo, or Dreamchaser/EELV, or Orion-lite/EELV, whichever is cheaper for the number fo people you need. Thats the vision.

I'm heavily involved in groups that support the commercialization process, but I also work at JPL, and as such I recognize that there are some things (well-defined, profitable, with quantifiable risks) tasks that fixed-price commercial contracts are better for, while others (unprofitable, expensive, very risky, and ground-breaking) that government development is necessary for. A manned Mars mission definitely falls in the second category -- but it can be helped along by doing some parts, namely launch-to-LEO, using systems in the first category.

Re:Commercial space missions alone can't quite cut (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001216)

Some people still think a customized NASA-specific heavy lift vehicle would be necessary

Not necessary, but potentially a lot cheaper if done properly. Sadly, NASA is being prevented from doing it properly.

The terrible writing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34998472)

I really wondered as I read the article if this was truly the best source of information. The writing is so bad that I hardly made it past the second paragraph. Now I'm just wondering how Michael "coondoggie" Cooney was not too embarrassed to post this trash.

one small step (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998498)

Adding a coffee shop with free wifi would be a good start.

Re:one small step (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998760)

Uh, Starbucks has had a couple shops on the moon for a least a few years now. Although the four second ping sucks.

Re:one small step (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999364)

They took out the coffee shop? When did that happen? (I haven't been there since 1985)

Makes sense ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998510)

I guess it makes sense it should continue to be used ... isn't it's location fairly optimal in terms of placement within the US for take-off? I see to recall reading that anyway.

Sad that NASA is being squeezed out of the game to a certain extent, glad to see they can still play a role.

Re:Makes sense ... (5, Informative)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998592)

Yes. It is prime for launching because among all spots in the continental United States, it is: 1. Close to the equator - good to achieve equatorial orbits 2. On the eastern seaboard. Orbits typically go from West to East. So from there, they can launch to the east, and be going over the ocean, so if anything goes wrong, well, it's over the ocean Probably also because of mild weather, year-round, too.

Re:Makes sense ... (2)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998710)

Probably also because of mild weather, year-round, too.

Well, except for the hurricanes.

But the weather, at least, is generally pretty warm, so you don't usually have to watch out for frozen o-rings. Usually.

Re:Makes sense ... (4, Informative)

Megane (129182) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998828)

It is also located along Buckminster Fuller's "Dymaxion Equator", a great circle which passes over minimal land area, primarily North America and Africa. This means minimal land area over which an "oops" can fall onto inhabited areas when a launch fails to reach orbit.

Re:Makes sense ... (1)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999066)

Very interesting point! I'd never heard of that - and it took a bit of time and visualization for me to confirm that! Very scarcely documented - even in a Google search! Although, I do not believe many of the actual launches actually follow that path.

Re:Makes sense ... (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35000974)

It is also located along Buckminster Fuller's "Dymaxion Equator", a great circle which passes over minimal land area, primarily North America and Africa. This means minimal land area over which an "oops" can fall onto inhabited areas when a launch fails to reach orbit.

Doesn't mean as much as it seems on first sight. If the flight fails badly, the equipment will fall within a few hundred miles of the launch site. Otherwise, it will reach orbit and then the earth is rotating away from the orbit plane. You don't need a full great circle to abort a mission.

The key point here is that orbital velocity is the main factor. In order to be reasonably efficient, a rocket must reach orbital velocity as soon as possible. If a rocket isn't in orbit within about 500~1000 miles from the launch site it will never reach orbit, so that's the most open space you will need for any launch site.

Re:Makes sense ... (4, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998796)

NASA is no more geared to commercial spaceflight than Red Bull's Formula 1 team is geared to making SUVs. NASA is, however, geared towards research and design, non-terrestrial physical sciences, deep space communications, etc.

Specialists are capable of going further in a specific field than any generalist. It would be suicide for them to try and compete with fly-by-night rocket groups that can launch satellites from disused oil rigs. It is seriously doubtful they could seriously battle for the LEO passenger market, or even with the Russians on the millionaires-in-space front. Frankly, I don't think they should.

NASA should not go commercial. They should invest more on ion drive research (how else will we get TIE fighters?), more on reliable landers (reusable spacecraft and/or colonies won't be possible until we improve the reliability aspect), more on deep space missions (commercial vendors won't bother mining asteroids until we find asteroids that we can profitably reach and mine - nickle isn't nearly valuable enough), more on alternative launch technologies (turbine-assisted ramjets, ski-jump ramps, cannon-assisted ramjets - all areas NASA is working on or have done), more on computational fluid dynamics (it's bad enough designing aircraft for atmospheres you can actually test in).

These are areas where the commercial value is next to zero until AFTER the results are in. The private sector won't invest in this stuff. Or if it does, not nearly enough. But the private sector can do bugger all until those results are indeed in.

NASA should be devolved from the Government, much in the same way the BBC is devolved from the British Government (via charter and as a source of funding but not under the control of nor under the sole funding of), but it should not be privatised or seek to use commerce to make the gap between what it needs and what scraps the politicians will give it after funding military escapades.

Re:Makes sense ... (2)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001106)

I agree with everything you wrote, and I must add that Florida is absolutely not the best place for a commercial launch site.

The most interesting orbit for commercial launches is the geosynchronous orbit over the equator. The highest cost, by far, in a launch for GEO is inclination control. The added fuel a satellite needs to compensate for inclination in a launch from Florida costs about as much as a complete launch from an equatorial position. Launching from Florida doubles the cost, it's as simple as that.

Okay, this might be flamebait, but the most economic way for the US to get into the commercial space business would be to invade Somalia. That would mean great savings in insurance against piracy for shipping in the Indian Ocean and would allow for the construction of a nice space center right on the equator with thousands of miles of eastwards ocean range. Why not a combined NASA/Pentagon operation?

Re:Makes sense ... (1)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001442)

NASA should not go commercial. They should invest...

Yeah, I stopped here.

NASA has no money, because Congress doesn't fund them for crap. What they would do if they had money is immaterial. They can't invest in blue sky (or starry sky) research when they are barely keeping up with existing research programs--and indeed many valuable programs have been cut in the past few years because of it.

The move to put NASA in a role supporting commercial spaceflight is entirely a cost- and/or face-saving measure by politicians. Nobody at NASA needs to hear it. Talk to your representatives.

Kennedy Space Center Bed & Breakfast (4, Interesting)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998598)

If you RTFA, it sounds like how cash-strapped British Lords open up parts of their country estates to provide a little cash-flow to finance maintenance and repairs. Or like some kind of NASA garage sale. At any rate, it doesn't sound like NASA is planning on launching anything there real soon.

So if you want to get yourself into space, learn Russian. Ha! It's like the Tortoise and the Hare Space Race . . . congratulations, Russia, in the long run, you have won.

Sad (4, Insightful)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998724)

It's a shame that NASA has to play into commercialism to stay afloat. Back in the 60's when we were racing to the moon NASA got all the money they needed, but once that was won the well dried up. Like Tom Hanks said in Apollo 13 answering a question about why funding should continue after having already beaten the Russians: Imagine if Christopher Columbus came back from the New World, and no one returned in his footsteps.

NASA needs a new mission alright, but it needs to include more trips into space and not selling toy shuttles and rides on roller coasters.

Re:Sad (3, Interesting)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998902)

The problem with the analogy for the Moon and Spanish exploration in the New World is simple.

There was money to be had, hand over fist in the New World, going back and forth to the Moon was a money sink. Even if Apollo 19-20 had been funded and Saturn V production had continued, the Oil Crisis of 1973 would have killed the funding.

NASA needs to get out of manned spaceflight and back to what it was founded for, developing technologies for civilian aviation and aerospace applications.

Re:Sad (2)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998922)

The difference between Columbus vs the Apollo crews is that Columbus brought back gold/ Silver/ spices with him.

The spices not so much but there should be decent quantities of raw minerals out there that we need on a regular basis. The problem becomes how much does it cost to setup mining out there and return. (rememebr the moon has lower gravity so you can send more back easier)

Re:Sad (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 3 years ago | (#35000384)

We need to convince people that you can get high off snorting moon dust......

The moon will then be colonized by drug cartels....

Re:Sad (2)

The O Rly Factor (1977536) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998946)

Ehh not that good of an analogy. Now, if North America was nothing more than a useless ball of dusty iron, and Columbus went there just solely as a dick-waving act toward a person/country he openly hated a whole lot rather than a search for wealth, then maybe your analogy would stand.

Re:Sad (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999104)

Imagine if Christopher Columbus came back from the New World, and no one returned in his footsteps.

There isn't gold and half-naked hot Indian women on the moon.

Re:Sad (0)

celle (906675) | more than 3 years ago | (#35000314)

"There isn't gold and half-naked hot Indian women on the moon."

Darn!!

Maybe not on the moon, but how about on Slashdot.org? ("Hea-hea-hea." -- Igor - Dracula - Dead and Loving It or was it Love at First Bite? Ah well.)

hea - way it sounded.

Re:Sad (3, Insightful)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999310)

You're misinterpreting what commercial space transport means. It doesn't mean that NASA tries to sell what it has to any millionaire looking for a joy ride.

What it means is that rather than designing and using one-off vehicles for its own uses, NASA will instead try to purchase launches from commercial companies where possible. It already does this in fact -- all unmanned NASA missions, as well as all DOD missions, are launched on commercially acquired Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles, mostly purchased from ULA (i.e. Lockheed/Boeing). Now it is just moving a step further and providing a framework to do the same thing for manned spacecraft. In addition to reducing the abuses inherent to cost-plus contracts, it also opens up some reduced savings by letting other customers subsidize the development costs. For other customers, don't let the 'space tourism' thing get you down. While there may be some of that, the most likely 'other customers' would be other countries looking to do their own research without being as dependent on the whims of NASA.

NASA will continue to be on the forefront of exploration for the near future, funding missions and designing the hardware to do what hasn't been done before. What the commercialization proposals do is try and make the first step (getting to LEO) a little cheaper. Going with your Columbus analogy, he didn't have to design and build the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria himself, he bought them with the funds provided by the crown, and we can hope this provides NASA with the same opportunity.

Re:Sad (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35000292)

It has more to do with NASA's shifting its focus from space exploration and science to race quotas and muslim outreach.

http://www.google.com/search?q=nasa+muslim+outreach&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&safe=active

Stop acting like NASA has been choked of funding.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Budget

The Air Force is getting it done now because they can do it without as much left-wing drag.

"best and brightest" (?) - driving us into a ditch (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#35000986)

Nice how that shows everything coming together at 1-to-1 in 1996 with the actual dollars vs CPI adjusted dollars. And then crosses over, with each subsequent year dollars buying less. Thanks for the assfucking Wallstreet, would you like another bailout?

Re:Sad (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35000368)

Imagine if Christopher Columbus came back from the New World, and no one returned in his footsteps.

It's more like when Captain Thomas Bladen Capel came back from Rockall [wikipedia.org] in 1810, and no one returned until 1896. Somebody made another visit in 1955, and put up a plaque. There was another visit in 1985. Someone is planning a visit in 2011 as a promotion for a charity.

we testing the private space market now (2)

peter303 (12292) | more than 3 years ago | (#35000908)

Plenty of S-Prize type competitions happening now. They may have some creative and efficient approaches to the space industry. Then they may not beat NASA. I fear the 2% astronaut fatality rate will sour private space travel when the first disaster happens.

Re:we testing the private space market now (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35000946)

I fear the 2% astronaut fatality rate will sour private space travel when the first disaster happens.

Only a government could get away with building a space vehicle that kills the crew one time in fifty; any private space vehicle will have to be much safer than that.

So this is what its come to...? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34998852)

The lack of leadership in this nation is amazing, and its only gotten worse with every election.

Re:So this is what its come to...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34999664)

You're right!... Hmm.... With a bit of extrapolating... OMFG Palin IS going to be president!! Who else could it be?

This comment will not be saved until you click the Submit button below. You must wait a little bit before using this resource; please try again later.

Kennedy space center does more than (1, Flamebait)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998970)

just launch the shuttle.

Shuttle or not, other space operations will go one at Kennedy space center, its a nice spot at a low latitude for the US so its got a good amount of speed already built in.

The main pads will just no longer be set aside for the shuttle. Eventually they'll recycle them for something else. Same with the buildings. We'll need them for something else crazy in a couple years.

Hotel (-1, Troll)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999022)

Convert it to the BOBHHB, the "Barak Obama By the Hour Hostel and Bordello". For many years the government has screwed the taxpayers, and now the taxpayers can screw the government.

As a geek... (1)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999154)

This is all incredibly depressing. Outside of launching satellites, space is not profitable short term. Businesses are only interested in the (relative) short term.

If we stop publicly funding space research, there will be a lot less space research. Period.

Re:As a geek... (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999574)

No one is stopping funding space exploration. Commercialization in this sense means purchasing launch vehicles for people from commercial providers, just as we do for unmanned vehicles.

This should in theory free up *MORE* money to allow real exploration, technology development, and all the things NASA is good at. The commercialization policies proposed by the administration included an overall increase in the NASA budget.

Publicly funded space research is going nowhere, don't worry.

Most of you are SO wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35002256)

In the mid 90's, NASA came up with the idea of doing commercial space launches. Their reason was because they were far too dependent on ONE architecture (lose a mission and then all launches stop) AND on a CONgress that has done huge damage to NASA. While many will look at the current CONgress as being disastrous, I would say that the CONgress from 1994-2006 was the real disaster.
The reason is that from 1996-2000, CONgress forced NASA to divest anything that could be used for going BEO. They were told to NOT develop a SHLV. They were told to not do an inflatable because it was called TRANSHAB. They were told to not do laser drilling (it was to be used in exploration of Mars). They were told to not do VASIMR.
The ONLY thing good out of that CONgress was that Clinton spoke against it, and then had NASA sell off the tech to private business.

Now, with commercialilization of space, it will enable NASA to have CHEAPER AND RELIABLE ACCESS TO SPACE, THE MOON, and MARS. Seriously. Once private space is doing launches AND doing multiple space stations in LEO, they will want to go to the moon and mars. Bigelow wants to be ON THE MOON BY 2020. Musk wants to have a human mission to Mars before 2025. If CONgress will get out of the way, quit treating NASA as a GD job's bill, then NASA will return to what they used to be and will help these companies to get us all over the moon and mars.

In addition, it will create a monster new economy similar to what the privatization of the net did.

Re: (1)

clint999 (1277046) | more than 3 years ago | (#35002722)

Yes. It is prime for launching because among all spots in the continental United States, it is: 1. Close to the equator - good to achieve equatorial orbits 2. On the eastern seaboard. Orbits typically go from West to East. So from there, they can launch to the east, and be going over the ocean, so if anything goes wrong, well, it's over the ocean Probably also because of mild weather, year-round, too.

The name: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35004032)

In 1963, the installation was renamed Cape Kennedy Air Force Station after the geographic feature's name was changed from Cape Canaveral. In 1973, both names reverted to Canaveral.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...