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NASA Buys 12 Seats On Soyuz

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the i-can-see-my-house-from-here dept.

NASA 236

jamax noted that NASA has announced the purchase of 12 seats on Soyuz for 2014 to 2016. The price tag was $753 million — just a stitch over $62M per chair to the ISS.

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236 comments

Value? (2)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490116)

Seriously, isn't this cheaper than we can do ourselves? Granted, we need our own program for national security and all that, but this still sounds cheaper than what we have been doing, with the Shuttle program.

Re:Value? (1, Flamebait)

Stradenko (160417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490184)

In what way do manned space missions contribute to "national security?"

Re:Value? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35490226)

Not letting prying eyes see the big-ass CIA satellites that won't fit on anything but a shuttle? Remember, almost all astronauts are from a military background.

Re:Value? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35490486)

the delta iv heavy can carry anything the shuttle ever could. and its not the CIA -- its the NRO who handles space assets. and they gave up using the shuttle to launch anything ages ago anyway.

Re:Value? (1)

Afell001 (961697) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490584)

The military (surely with some help from CIA and NSA) has their own reusable unmanned space plane [cbsnews.com] . They aren't entirely reliant on NASA, though they do need to use them for the launch vehicle.

They did just complete a 228 day mission, according to the article. Who needs a satellite when you can just keep an orbiter up there for the better part of a year and then retask it on occasion to take snapshots of your favorite terrorist camp or what that country is doing with their nuclear research that they swear has no military application.

Re:Value? (1)

click2005 (921437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490240)

Its harder to launch secret spy satellites from other people's rockets.

Re:Value? (1)

darjen (879890) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490442)

In what way do secret spy satellites contribute to national security?

Re:Value? (5, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490476)

In what way do secret spy satellites contribute to national security?

If I told you that I'd have to shoot you.

Re:Value? (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490552)

With space lasers?

Re:Value? (1)

dragonhunter21 (1815102) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490498)

They let us keep tabs on our enemies and their behaviors. Intel saves lives, you know.

Re:Value? (1)

Tigger's Pet (130655) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490526)

Only Intel? Are you one of those fanboys? Don't AMD saves lives too?

Re:Value? (1)

darjen (879890) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490560)

Ok, well what lives have been saved in the past by intel from the CIA's super secret satellites? Please be specific.

Re:Value? (1)

dragonhunter21 (1815102) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490612)

Beings as we're talking about the CIA, I imagine it'd be pretty difficult to be specific. Just spitballing, I'd say at least a handful of soldiers' lives were saved by satellite intel in each conflict since they hit orbit.

Re:Value? (1)

darjen (879890) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490780)

Beings as we're talking about the CIA, I imagine it'd be pretty difficult to be specific.

That's pretty convenient, isn't it? To say we need NASA for national security, then not be able to justify it with specific examples?

Just spitballing, I'd say at least a handful of soldiers' lives were saved by satellite intel in each conflict since they hit orbit.

They could save far more soldiers lives by not involving them in pointless armed conflicts and military occupations around the globe...

Re:Value? (1)

dragonhunter21 (1815102) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490976)

Yeah yeah yeah, war is bad, all that happy jazz. Fact of the matter is, we are engaged in an armed conflict with enemies. I personally don't agree with it, but your and my opinions matter little to the joint chiefs of staff. If Joe Average is going to get sent off to war, I'd like to have the best intel assets available to make sure he get home alive.

Re:Value? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35491006)

They could save far more soldiers lives by not involving them in pointless armed conflicts and military occupations around the globe...

The only way to stop that shit is to get the citizenry turned around to the point where they don't think that it's a triumph for freedom when their kids join the military and get exported to some other nation to bomb brown people.

Familial military tradition is one of the worst blights on peace the world has ever known.

Re:Value? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35490726)

Someone you know, now shut the hell up.

Re:Value? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35490772)

Once upon a time there was an evil empire known as the Soviet Union. The United States and the Soviet Union had lots of nuclear bombs that were pointed at each other that could be launched at any time and kill all of the human race. So the United States launched lots of secret CIA satellites to watch the Soviet Union's missiles. The Soviet Union, seeing this, decided it also had to launch super secret satellites. It launched so many satellites it became broke, went into foreclosure, and sold itself to a bunch of oil companies. The nuclear missiles were dismantled and the entire human race was saved from destruction.

Oh yeah, and Dr. Manhattan went to Mars.

PS: the more intel a country has, the less likelihood of a war.

Re:Value? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35490546)

Awww, you're so cute with your earnest naivete...

Could you say "you can't hug your children with nuclear arms!" for me, too? I love that one.

Re:Value? (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490898)

The Air Force has a parallel launch facility in California designed for launching polar orbit satellites. You can't launch polar orbit rockets from Johnson Space center due to large population centers immediately north and south of the launch site. They launched some sort of spy satellite into polar orbit earlier this year in mid January. In theory they could retool the CA launch center for manned spaceflight inside of a year, since that's what it was originally designed for (up until 1994?).

Re:Value? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490254)

Good place to set up lasers and kinetic bombardment platforms?

Re:Value? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35491054)

Logic detected in Space Nutter thread!
Please remove yourself from this thread. Here we will say that launching tin cans to LEO is "exploring", and orbiting the Earth the same exact way since half a century is "science", and that because someone put two carbon rings together in a lab we will build space elevators. Obey or die.

Re:Value? (1)

Jhon (241832) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490218)

I recall (and I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong) that it runs somewhere around $450-$550 million per shuttle mission.

On the high end with a smallish crew (6 on the last mission), thats about $91 million per seat (assuming zero-cost for cargo).

On the low-end with a larger crew (8 is on the high side), that's about $56 million per seat.

Add cargo on that and this doesn't sound so cheap -- even on the high-end (assuming my numbers are correct).

Re:Value? (1)

bberens (965711) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490362)

I would assume our "seats" include at least some cargo space going back and forth from the ISS.

Re:Value? (3, Funny)

malraid (592373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490410)

No, there's a fee per checked bag. Only carry-on satellites that can fit underneath the seat in front of you are allowed for safety reasons.

Re:Value? (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490818)

No, there's a fee per checked bag. Only carry-on satellites that can fit underneath the seat in front of you are allowed for safety reasons.

Don't you just hate it when your flight is full of Russians and they stick their satellites under the seat in front of YOU?

$1.3 billion per mission (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490678)

http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/6356 [answerbag.com]

Simple math - even back in 2004, the shuttle program had already cost $145 billion. So even if all the subsequent flights had been free, it would still have beenover $1 billion per mission.

Part of this is due to the shuttle never achieving any of its design goals. It was supposed to have a rapid turn-around time (2 weeks), and a usable service life of between 100 and 125 flights per shuttle. The turn-around time obviously was never met, and obviously, the shuttles (Atlantis, Challenger, Columbia, Discovery, Endeavour - I'm leaving out the Enterprise test vehicle, which never made it into space), didn't even average 25% of the original number of missions per vehicle. It was because of these failures that fleet production was stopped at 4, rather than 8, and never did achieve 50 launches per year - it didn't even average 50 launches per decade.

Re:Value? (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490244)

>>>isn't this cheaper than we can do ourselves?

It's nearly impossible to do anything (launch a rocket, build a car, build an airplane) in a low-cost fashion due to the regulations and massive amounts of paperwork the engineers have to fill out.

I know in my job I've become less of an engineer, and more of a Microsoft Word jockey typing tons and tons of redundant documents to reassure the Government that things are safe. But in Russia, ironically, they've eliminated that bureaucracy and can do things cheap. Ditto India and China.

Re:Value? (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490370)

It's nearly impossible to do anything (launch a rocket, build a car, build an airplane) in a low-cost fashion due to the regulations and massive amounts of paperwork the engineers have to fill out.

If you honestly believe that it's almost imposible for any US engineer to do any work at reasonable cost (it may be time-consuming, but is it really that expensive to fill out a form?), what alternative do you propose?

Answer in a way which maintains the occupational safety and environmental standards required of the US, rather than one which gives us the safety and environmental records of India and China.

Re:Value? (0)

davev2.0 (1873518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490720)

How about getting rid of redundant forms and regulations?

You speak of occupational safety, but have you ever worked in a real job? Many safety regulations are ignored by WORKERS because they just get in the way. OSHA regs strive for 100% safety, but that is an unobtainable goal. I have worked in positions where it was required to wear glove by OSHA, but wearing gloves made the job just about impossible. Construction workers are required to wear hard hats at all times, including when they are working in a position or space that prevents one from wearing a hard hat. Often OSHA regs run up against the Pareto principle [wikipedia.org] where 90% of the cost is for the last 10% of the effect. That is where the problem lies. I say we make safety rules REASONABLE using input from WORKERS, not government bureaucrats.

You speak of environmental standards, but which ones? Federal, state, local? The most restrictive? And, environmental standards run up against the Pareto principle [wikipedia.org] . Then, there are the environmental laws that are counter-productive.

This is really the problem with many of the occupational, business, and environmental laws in the U.S. They aim for 100% safety and end up spending 80% to 90% of their funds trying to get that last 10% with no flexibility in implementation.

Re:Value? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35490810)

is it really that expensive to fill out a form?

Yes. Opportunity cost [wikipedia.org] .

P.S. No occupational safety and environmental standards are required of the US. They are self imposed.

Re:Value? (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490858)

>>>(it may be time-consuming, but is it really that expensive to fill out a form?)

It is when you are paying me $64 an hour, times 65 hours a week, times half a year (or more) doing this paperwork, plus tons of government audits. And no I don't have an answer.

I was just observing that it's cheaper overseas, and therefore that's where the work will move. I fully expect my job to be shipped to India by 2015, and then we'll just buy the final assembled product (like we do with iPhones, Cars) rather than build it ourselves.

Re:Value? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35491214)

It's polite troll day today, hooray!

Re:Value? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35490316)

The price depends on the competition... If the buyer had any alternative, bargaining would commence. But now that NASA has (apparently) nowhere else to turn for scheduled flights, the Russians can ask virtually any price. Don't be surprised if they set it just a tiny bit below the cost of re-activating & maintaining shuttle fleet.

It may have been cheaper to outsource it at the pricepoint back then, but now that the provider learns of the 100% dependence of the buyer, the price rises. It's trading 101.

Re:Value? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490344)

That's about the price of a single shuttle launch. It may wound NASA's pride, but there is little doubt it will indeed save us a considerable amount of money (even if you factor in all the arguments people will no doubt make about all the great experiments you can do on a shuttle mission).

Re:Value? (3, Interesting)

Xest (935314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490834)

The thing to bear in mind with this sort of calculation is the fact that when you pay overseas for such a thing then that's money straight out your economy, whilst if you in house then even if it costs a little more much of that will come back as income and corporate tax, as well as maintaining highly skilled engineers and perhaps in some sections of such a programme even fostering an export market for certain items which in itself leads to greater tax income.

It's a similar point with military contracts- many in the UK criticise the expense of the Eurofighter programme for example, but ultimately when you factor in tax returns from workers, and factor in the export market it's not a terribly unreasonably priced project overall with added benefits of maintaining skillsets and avoiding independence on too many outside factors. Certainly we'd be far worse off economically and politically here in the UK had we chosen to simply buy in say the French Rafale, or a US or Russian alternative even if the initial price per plane was lower.

Re:Value? (2)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35491146)

Seriously, isn't this cheaper than we can do ourselves?

Well it would be if America would have won the space race. But they declared victory half-way through and decided not to compete anymore. Soon the US will not even have a manned space program at all. Reminds me of a certain fairy tale involving turtles and hares...

Math problems (1)

Corf (145778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490118)

More like just a stitch under $63M, yes?

Here's hoping Dragon rolls out smoothly...

Re:Math problems (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490222)

For large values of "stitch" And I consider $750,000 a very large stitch.

Russia better than India? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490166)

At least we're not outsourcing our space program to India just yet... give it a few years.

Re:Russia better than India? (1)

kmdrtako (1971832) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490290)

Why not outsource to India?

Anything we can do to raise pay and standard of living there will ultimately make it harder to outsource skilled jobs from here. The faster that happens, the better.

Re:Russia better than India? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490620)

Why not outsource to India?

Because the countdown would sound funny.

rewind 40 years (5, Interesting)

eobanb (823187) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490174)

Around 1971, could anyone have imagined this is where we would be in 2011? Having no ships of our own and hitching rides from the Ruskies' spacecraft originally designed in the 1960s?

Re:rewind 40 years (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35490230)

Hey, we wanted them to go capitalist, and now they're capitalists!

Re:rewind 40 years (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490454)

The question is why didn't the US.

Re:rewind 40 years (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490266)

I was thinking something similar. I see it as quite a nice thing, it shows a real improvement in international relations, though I can imagine a lot of Americans (especially in "the South") being outraged or embarrassed.

Re:rewind 40 years (2)

bberens (965711) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490400)

I don't know that I'm embarrassed, but certainly disappointed. I'm not old enough to really have any hate for the Russians, but it really makes me sad that we're dismantling our country's ability to participate in one of the coolest things human beings do.

Re:rewind 40 years (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490636)

It's only temporary, sounds like NASA still have plans for their own platform in the future. And even if that didn't happen, why do you care in the end whether it happens in your own country or not? Especially in the context of something like space exploration, we should be focusing on humanity as a whole and not just individual countries. I can understand slightly being proud of your own country, but in the end it makes about as much sense as supporting sports teams.

Re:rewind 40 years (0)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490712)

You've got to change your frame of thinking, that's all.

TIRED: Massive, fascist-chic, state-run, bureaucratic space "agencies."

WIRED: Privately owned space travel.

Remember, private space ventures were always the end goal (remember the "Pan American" spacecraft in 2001?) for routine access to space. And interestingly enough, the U.S. is already the private spaceflight capital of the world, and booming fast. Mark my words, the next decade is going to see a lot more U.S. spaceflight activity than you think.

Re:rewind 40 years (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35491072)

Progress costs downtime. Apollo ended in 1975 and the STS started in 1981. That's 6 years of downtime. Thats how you pay for these projects. You don't have funding to launch and build a new system.

The "precious snowflake" generation should be able to handle some downtime in US launches just like the baby boomer generation before them. Making this out to be some huge discrepancy and unique event in US spaceflight is wrong and being overly dramatic.

Re:rewind 40 years (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35490856)

Wow, a cheap swipe at an entire half of the US. How surprising that anybody who might not agree with your point is prejudicially labeled an ignorant redneck - and, may we presume, also a bible thumper?

"I had eggs for breakfast this morning, though I can imagine a lot of Americans (especially in "the South") being outraged or embarrassed by my avoidance of grits."

"I had a wonderful bowel movement this morning. I can imagine a lot of Americans (especially in "the South") being outraged or embarrassed at my use of fiber."

"I went to a wedding at a synagogue this weekend, though I can imagine a lot of Americans (especially in "the South") being outraged or embarrassed by my failure to praise Jeebus 24x7."

To "a lot of Americans" - regardless of which side of the Mason-Dixon Line they live - this is a non-event. They simply don't give a shit. I think you'd be surprised to find that most of the people with any strong opinion about this issue are space nutters, who generally happen to be liberals in the tech industry.

"I'm posting as an AC, though I can imagine a lot of Slashdotters (especially "the Space Nutters") would love to trash my excellent karma."

Re:rewind 40 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35490364)

In Soviet Russia, NASA flies YOU!

Re:rewind 40 years (1)

kmdrtako (1971832) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490382)

We couldn't build another Saturn V even if we wanted to, right?

Using our own 60s tech isn't even an option. And the Ares 1 was going to cost $40B to build, not counting the launch costs.

I'm glad we won the space race.

Re:rewind 40 years (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490644)

Well, technically, we probably could. But safety and environmental concerns probably would not allow it.

Re:rewind 40 years (1)

TimSSG (1068536) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490940)

The problem is technically we can not build an Saturn V; the project was not documented well enough on what was done and for what reason. To much knowledge was only in people heads and never written down in one single place.

Tim S.

Re:rewind 40 years (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490890)

We couldn't build another Saturn V even if we wanted to, right?

Using our own 60s tech isn't even an option. And the Ares 1 was going to cost $40B to build, not counting the launch costs.

I'm glad we won the space race.

The only reason why not is political (as in NASA politics). Contrary to rumours, all the plans are intact, and many of the engineers are still around - they went on to work on the shuttle program.

Of course, having a launch vehicle that cost $100 million per launch and with more than 5x the payload makes the shuttle program look ... stupid. Looking at payload to orbit, the shuttle program's total cost of 170 billion for 135 missions could have been replaced with 25 Saturn V launches. Even if the Saturn V were to cost 10x as much due to inflation, it would still have been only 1/7 the cost.

Re:rewind 40 years (1)

lehphyro (1465921) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490550)

Hey, the Russian went to space first anyway, it's not like americans were at the bleeding edge.

Re:rewind 40 years (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490648)

That "Ruskie spacecraft originally designed in the 1960s" is proven, economical, and has a nearly spotless safety record. Can you say the same of your beloved space shuttle?

Re:rewind 40 years (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490896)

Could anyone in 1971 predicted the expensive and dangerous boondoggle that the STS turned out to be and how we held onto it for at least 10 more years than one can sanely justify? Or how the whole 'reusable' spacecraft didn't pan out economically? Or how a modular capsule design was, in the end, superior to a monolithic shuttle design?

Or that private enterprise is building capsules and rockets for human spaceflight? Or how NASA's budget is a paltry 30 billion while our defense and war budgets along with our black military budgets hover around 1 trillion?

Its a lot more complex than "OMG RUSSIANS!!"

Re:rewind 40 years (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35491030)

Not to mention that the first shuttle launch was in 1981 and previous to that the last time the US was in space was in 1975. So that's 6 years of downtime. If those people can handle it then then we can certainly handle it now.

Re:rewind 40 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35491240)

So what? The 747 had its maiden flight in 1969 and it still flies today. At least it transports paying passengers to go to a *destination*. Space is empty.

American pride aside (2)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490216)

I actually think this sort of cooperation is a good thing. The space race and Cold War have been over for a long time. It's about time we started acting like it.

Re:American pride aside (5, Interesting)

click2005 (921437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490324)

Agreed. Wouldn't it be much better & cheaper to create a global space agency. Use the best technology from all the member countries.
We are one people and its about time we started acting like it.

Re:American pride aside (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490570)

It wouldn't hurt to have another space race, albeit one without space-based weapons being threatened. A little competition goes a long way towards developing tech faster and better. Maybe have a few space alliances competing... the US, Russia and India together, the EU together, China and North Korea together...

Re:American pride aside (1)

FlapHappy (937803) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490706)

In principle, yes. In practicality, probably not.

If the politics can be put aside (always the gotcha with international bodies) it could work but I doubt will happen unless there is a clear unifying goal that adds some level of urgency (i.e. "some impending disaster that necessitates us going to space").

Re:American pride aside (1)

Digicrat (973598) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490826)

That's been my thought for a while. But in reality, I suspect we won't see an "Earth Space Agency" until we encounter some sort of global space-based event (alien first contact or a large asteroid on a confirmed collision path). I'd hope for the former not because it's more probable, but because if we wait for the latter it might be to late.

Re:American pride aside (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35490840)

One reason they are doing this is to keep Russia out of China's grasp. Imagine a common axis between these two?

World govt can wait until after the final war has been won.

Re:American pride aside (1)

Crucial (97001) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490902)

We are one people and its about time we started acting like it.

I whole-heartedly agree with this statement and the leaps and bounds we as a human race would take working WITH each other instead of AGAINST each other would be amazingly huge. Alas, we cannot seem to manage to break ourselves from the ridiculous desire of always trying to be richer and more powerful than the next guy.

Shamefull (1)

m0s3m8n (1335861) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490250)

I for one find it shameful that politics (both sides are at fault) has resulted in this situation. Give NASA the means (funds) needed but don't restrict them to a preset supplier list or technology. Then sit back and let them do the job. Yes, there needs to be specifications, lets say deliver 4 people to LEO with X KG supplies, but otherwise leave them alone. I do hope that Dragon can ramp up faster since it now appears NASA will not be able to do so.

Re:Shamefull (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490270)

This is already happening with COTS and programs like SpaceX. It's just it's going to be another 5 years or so before it's ready.

Re:Shamefull (2)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490396)

What exactly is so shameful about international cooperation in regard to the *international* space station? The Cold War has been over for a long time now, you know. And I'm more than a little sick of the residual pride of some of my fellow Americans. To be honest, it was bad enough to put up with all the cocky nationalism DURING the Cold War, much less 20 years later.

Re:Shamefull (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490974)

The cold war is over, yet the US and Russia are still the two primary arms suppliers of the world, and IIRC, we raised a big stink over France selling bleeding edge naval technology to Russia. The "Cold War" might be over, but that's only because we haven't come up for a new name for it yet. 20 years is a blink of the eye when it comes to imperialist global war.

Depending on Putin (2)

Danathar (267989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490252)

More disconcerting is the fact that ANY serious dispute with Russia will need to be taken into account as they could refuse to launch to the ISS (or let our astronauts down) in a diplomatic crisis.

Depending on another country that you are not the best friends with to provide you with the ONLY transportation to your space station does not sound like a good idea.

so what ? (1)

Zurk (37028) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490412)

and achieve what exactly ? whats so disconcerting about it ?
yay we dont shuttle your half assed astronauts to low earth orbit so they can sit there and stare out at the earth from the ISS portholes for six months at a shot.
big whoop.
its not like the ISS is doing anything critical or military related. the military stuff will still launch on delta iv heavy boosters off vandy or the cape.
the ISS can also sit there parked in orbit for years with no one on board. its not like its going to fall down cuz joe blow astronaut was not up there to go out and shove it back up the gravity well or something. hell there were plans to shut the whole stupid lame ass project down anyway. its a white elephant. no commercial value, minimal scientific value compared to robotic probes and basically worthless for long term space exploration due to its placement in low earth orbit.
now build a tanking platform with robotic spacecraft construction/assembly/food production/power generation/roid mining gear at lagrange points l1/l2 for staging earth/moon/mars/europa missions and that makes much more sense.

Re:so what ? (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490626)

...no commercial value, minimal scientific value .... basically worthless for long term space exploration

There were plans to do all of that. Cut to save money of course.

now build a tanking platform with robotic spacecraft construction/assembly/food production/power generation/roid mining gear at lagrange points l1/l2 for staging earth/moon/mars/europa missions

Hmm. Lets see how that would play out. Well, we had to bail out a banker whom was a major campaign donor, so there goes the cash for the storage tanks. Add an expensive unwinnable permanent land war in Asia, so we had to cut the robot arm and food production bay to buy ammo. Social security is running out of cash so we'll cut the asteroid mining mission too.

Leaving us, yet again, with:

... they can sit there and stare out at the earth from the ... portholes for six months at a shot ...

Mix and repeat...

Re:Depending on Putin (1)

Kosi (589267) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490520)

While I agree 100 percent that this is not a clever idea, I have to nitpick that this thing up there is named the ISS and not the USSS for a reason. It's our all, not your space station. :)

Re:Depending on Putin (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490802)

Erh... let's be sensible and can the anti-Russian sentiments for a moment?

Let's see... diplomatic struggles between Russia and the US. And they refuse to let the astronaut return. First of all, how? The "escape pod" that's by default docked can be used under any circumstances whatsoever, by anyone able to use it (which, I'd assume, every astronaut gets training in by default. Everything else is just plain dumb). So telling him "no" will probably result in an "up yours, undocking NOW!".

And second, why? What's the gain of stranding an astronaut in orbit? Diplomacy is first of all a game of convincing the others, not your opponent. It's like a political debate where you argue against your opponent, but not to sway him but rather everyone listening because you know that you won't sway him. Do you think it would endear Russia to anyone when they strand an astronaut for no good reason? And I can hardly see ANY good reason.

So if you say that they might refuse to launch Astronauts, ok. I could see that. Again, they'd first of all have to find a good, a very good, reason, after all it's an international project and refusing the US access is not really a good move in international politics and diplomacy. But letting them return is a non-issue.

Re:Depending on Putin (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35491052)

There is no such thing as "best friends" between countries. There may be countries controlled by a common force but that is not the same thing at all.

spacex (2)

strack (1051390) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490274)

if nasa funded manned falcon 9s, they are what, 50 million a flight, and 7 seats? so, thats a saving of at least half a billion dollars, using an american launch system to boot.

Re:spacex (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35490554)

Falcon is supposedly at least 5 years out, so we're looking at 2016 or so. The last shuttle flies in 2014, the project isn't going to be funded after that, and nothing else will be ready by then.

We need a few manned missions between the times the shuttle program gets shitcanned for good and something like Falcon is ready to take humans up so we can take advantage of our investment (and fulfill our commitments) to the ISS.

What do we do between those times? Perhaps there's someone who we can buy tickets from? Someone who has a viable space program that can fill the gap for us.

Oh, wait... could it be possible that was the whole point of buying these seats? Ya think?

America's space car is in the shop, and we're carpooling.

Re:spacex (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490594)

Or to put it another way, if NASA bought flights from SpaceX at the Russian rates, they're essentially saying they can afford to pay $400m for a 7 seat flight, or $190m for a 3 seater.

And there are fucktards in Congress specifically trying to prevent NASA buying commercial crew flights. Why? (I'm from a different country and that offends me. You guys should be setting things on fire.)

'friendlier', 'more tolerant' form of censorship.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35490298)

as was promised. distraction? unclear motives? whatever, it's working? thanks mr. stallman for continuing to bother.

back to the queen's 'comments' on algorithmic certainties, titled; the 'natives may not have survived without us?'

'just who gave them their spirits, taxes etc,,, so when we taught them to be poor, they had something to 'fall back' on? are we socially inclined or what. same with those canadians? are they daft? unable to count? what?' it goes on..

that said; we're ?thinking?, that it would be nice for rob to ask janet et al back to do a Q&A for /.? & as a sign of our good intentions (always toutng that), we would be more than pleased to supply janet with a full version of the creators' newclear powered kode. it's absolutely bug free (you may still surveil, but find that the need to do so has disappeared). sleek huh? it has no kill command (always on, speed of right), so that takes care of that. it does prompt, & intervene, towards amicable co-existence, & total permanent extension of life, for all of us. like some kind of a 'gremlin' (not a bug, definitely not a bug) in there somewhere?

flooding the news with palatable nitrogenous waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35490430)

could possibly tend to distract one's vision & attention from the oncoming sphere, or some other crap. thanks.

Re:'friendlier', 'more tolerant' form of censorshi (1)

Kosi (589267) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490490)

You should sue your pusher for selling you some really bad dope, man!

feigned/frivolous litigation; why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35490702)

so long as there's no personal contact, it's just #s. you don't get a cut, but it looks like that's maybe better for right now, for you.

Ouch (1, Funny)

FlapHappy (937803) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490300)

That is a lot to pay for economy class. Do they at least get an in-flight movie or a boxed lunch?

i'd rather they spend the money on a new spaceship (3, Interesting)

jsepeta (412566) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490312)

NASA needs to get their shit together, and develop their own damned spacecraft so we don't have to borrow Russia's ships. If Congress can bail out the evil, lying, fraudsters called BANKS, they can fund science and technology research.

Re:i'd rather they spend the money on a new spaces (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490852)

Science does not hold your country hostage. It can't say "Nice mortgage you have there, shame if someone had to foreclose it to cover his own losses".

Re:i'd rather they spend the money on a new spaces (2)

TrAvELAr (118445) | more than 3 years ago | (#35491110)

With less than 1/2 of one percent of the annual federal budget, this isn't going to happen any time soon. Maybe if we can stand down the war machine for a while....

Anyway, Constellation was looking like a viable option. Unfortunately, it was way over budget. With the scrapping of Constellation, I think we're going to see some commercial partnerships forming where the launch vehicles will be owned and possibly operated by the contractor.

What kind of safety record? (1)

Mr. Maestro (876173) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490350)

How is the safety record for the Soyuz? If an accident winds up with some astronauts dying can you image the media $hit storm?

Re:What kind of safety record? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35490450)

Three dead in 1971.

In Soviet Russia, Soyez Launches YOU! (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490360)

launching 12 to 14 chairs ... Steve Ballmer likes that!

Quite a raise in prices (1)

Kosi (589267) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490458)

Who negotiated that, Madoff?. Tito paid only 20 megabucks, and that included the stay on the ISS, not only the transport up and down. Taking a little volume discount into the equation, everything over 15 M$ is plain ripoff.

btw, someone got a spare hundred M$ for me? I wanna go to the moon!

FTA (1)

FlapHappy (937803) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490504)

"NASA has efforts underway to develop an American-made commercial capability for crew transportation and rescue services to the station following this year's retirement of the space shuttle fleet."

Seems like a lot of people missed this part, but is there any real information on these efforts? I know there have been private-sector developments in space flight (Virgin for example), but are there any examples, prototypes, or even a rough napkin-sketches on what these new "crew transportation and rescue services" will look like?

Re:FTA (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490774)

Yes, see spacex.com. [spacex.com] I don't know how you missed the launch last year. It was big news.

Re:FTA (1)

FlapHappy (937803) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490860)

"I don't know how you missed the launch last year."

Thanks. I was very busy...under my rock.

Overreliance on Russia for taxi flights is bad (2)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490528)

Getting taken to the cleaners by the criminal gangsters and thugs otherwise known as the Russian government, is bad enough without worrying about what will happen if some kind of diplomatic crisis happens, and the Russian government starts using the prospect of the ISS crashing in the South Pacific as leverage in their rather cynical and thuggish foreign policy.

Here I thought my airfare was bad... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490732)

I just got some email about fancy new fully-reclining bed-seats on flights from NYC to Germany. I don't actually have plans to take that flight but I was curious what those seats cost and I balked at the idea of paying $3600 for round-trip airfare. I would have instead gone steerage class on the same flight for $600 round-trip.

NASCAR Solution (2)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35490876)

Put US Flag stickers all over the exterior of the craft like the advertising on NASCAR vehicles. Our fragile ego is saved, problem solved.
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