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Can the US Still Lead In Space Despite Shuttle's End?

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the with-one-hand-tied-behind-our-back dept.

NASA 365

Hugh Pickens writes "NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden says that the future is bright and promises that one day humans will land on Mars. 'American leadership in space will continue for at least the next half-century because we've laid the foundation for success,' the nation's space chief said in a speech at the National Press Club. 'When I hear people say that the final shuttle flight marks the end of U.S. human space flight, you all must be living on another planet. We are not ending human space flight. We are recommitting ourselves to it.' Bolden says within a year private companies can take over the process of sending cargo shipments into orbit and by 2015 industry can take over astronaut transport, freeing NASA to focus on the long-term goals of reaching beyond Earth's shadow. 'Do we want to keep repeating ourselves or do we want to look at the big horizon?' says Bolden. 'My generation touched the moon today, NASA, and the nation, wants to touch an asteroid, and eventually send a human to Mars.' A group of former astronauts and other critics have blasted the agency and the Obama administration for ending the 30-year-old shuttle program, once the cornerstone of NASA. 'NASA's human spaceflight program is in substantial disarray with no clear-cut mission in the offing. We will have no rockets to carry humans to low-Earth orbit and beyond for an indeterminate number of years,' write Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan. 'After a half-century of remarkable progress, a coherent plan for maintaining America's leadership in space exploration is no longer apparent.'"

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I'm not a nationalist, so I really don't care. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647332)

Besides, what does NASA do for me anyway? Why does 'our nation' have to put a gun to my head and force me to fund the intellectual curiosity of others?

"NASA, and the nation, wants to touch an asteroid." I can think of at least 9.1-15.8% of 'the nation' that would prefer we spend that money some place else, like productive jobs that contribute to reality.

Why don't one of you smarmy assholes head over to Compton and take a poll on how many people in this part of 'the nation' give a flying fuck about landing on an asteroid.

Re:I'm not a nationalist, so I really don't care. (4, Insightful)

Lanteran (1883836) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647342)

I do believe that the majority of americans, myself included, support space travel and exploration. If you don't like your tax money funding that, move to another nation that doesn't do research (as that's what you seem to be against). Good luck. Also, you'll have to check all your nasa created technology at the gate.

Re:I'm not a nationalist, so I really don't care. (2, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647428)

The US seems to lean more and more into creationism and don't want interest in science and where the wold and Universe really is going.

Probably because they are afraid that science will say "There is no God".

As for the whole space program - a lot of it has been created for military reasons, and when the competition with the USSR ended then there's no longer a need for the "My Dick is bigger than Your" competition, which is sad. A lot of the science done has been done by tagging along.

Re:I'm not a nationalist, so I really don't care. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647698)

Creationism? Hahaha!

Michele Bachmann =/= U.S.

Re:I'm not a nationalist, so I really don't care. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647866)

Please don't diss Michelle. She's doing great work for the Democratic Party.

Re:I'm not a nationalist, so I really don't care. (3, Funny)

anagama (611277) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647748)

There's anti-science out there, but there's also budget constraints. For example, we have important work to do blowing up people in the middle east and we can't afford to use drones to blow up innocents and advance science. So science has to go.

Re:I'm not a nationalist, so I really don't care. (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647810)

I have a feeling that the people in the middle east are doing a pretty good job themselves blowing each other up.

Re:I'm not a nationalist, so I really don't care. (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647522)

I do believe that the majority of Americans also support free speech. If you don't like people having another opinion move to another nation(as that's what you seem to be against). Good luck. Also you'll have to check all your own opinions at the gate.

Re:I'm not a nationalist, so I really don't care. (1)

Wansu (846) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647554)

I do believe that the majority of americans, myself included, support space travel and exploration.

Hell yeah and I'd rather see tax money spent on space exploration than thrown down a rat hole on these wars.

Re:I'm not a nationalist, so I really don't care. (5, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647348)

"Why does 'our nation' have to put a gun to my head and force me to fund the intellectual curiosity of others?"

You pay already more than the complete NASA budget just for the fuel to run the AC in the tents in Afghanistan.

Re:I'm not a nationalist, so I really don't care. (2)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647716)

To be fair to the other guy, he didn't say he supported the war[s] either.

Personally, I'd rather we allocated considerably more to NASA and perhaps more importantly, gave them a clear and consistent mission. It seems like our political machine changes its mind every few years about what NASA should be working on.

Build out Constellation and put us back on the moon. Why are we stuck using the shuttle for short jogs, decades later?
No, nevermind, that's getting expensive... use commercial options for manned flight, scrap that program and focus on research.
Hey, we should have a manned flight program, how else are we going to get to mars?

I can't help but wonder if the folks over there get a little peeved about starting and stopping programs on fleeting political whims. But maybe I've got it wrong and it just looks that way to the casual observer.

Re:I'm not a nationalist, so I really don't care. (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647732)

The percentage of tax revenue spent on NASA is pocket change when you consider what else takes the lion's share.

If you don't want to have your money spent on space or any other research for that matter, then I suggest you turn off you computer and any other technology you may have. Chances are government sponsored research helped contribute to the lifestyle you have today.

Space is what I would describe of itself 'indirect research', in that the technology that you and I benefit from was a result of something done in space research, even if that wasn't the initial intent.

Re:I'm not a nationalist, so I really don't care. (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647784)

Space is what I would describe of itself 'indirect research', in that the technology that you and I benefit from was a result of something done in space research, even if that wasn't the initial intent.

If that's the only argument you can come up with for funding NASA then you're screwed, because you could have done those things far more cheaply by, you know, funding research into them and forgetting the whole space thing.

Re:I'm not a nationalist, so I really don't care. (2)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647370)

"Besides, what does NASA do for me anyway?"
Don't ask what NASA can do for you, but what you can do for NASA.

But to seriously answer your question: the aqueduct, sanitation, irragation, education, medicine, roads and peace.

Re:I'm not a nationalist, so I really don't care. (5, Informative)

JohnRoss1968 (574825) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647634)

"Besides, what does NASA do for me anyway?"
Wow, I know they say there are no stupid questions but there sure seem to be a lot of inquisitive idiots.
You want to know what NASA and the space race has done for you....Look down at your keyboard, its attached to a computer.
Microprocessors were derived from the space race. As well as the satellite communications that you may use to connect with other idiots.
Not enough for you...heres some more things that were by-products of the space race and the space age.
Kidney dialysis machines
Computer-Aided Tomography (CAT) scan
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Freeze-dried food
Cordless power tools & appliances
Disposable diapers
Rotary blood pump
Fiber optics
Satellite dish
Bar codes
Ear thermometer
Fire-resistant fabrics
Smoke detector
Thermal gloves and boots
New techniques for machining and casting exotic metals like magnesium and titanium.
Carbon fiber epoxy, and all kinds of composite materials
CNC machining.
Microwave communications.
Huge improvements in photovoltaics (solar cells to generate electricty).
Solid state memory
Satellite photography
velcro.
And about 1,400 documented NASA inventions that have benefited U.S. industry.
Oh yeah did I mention TANG!!!!

I called you an idiot several times above. I may be wrong. You may just be an ungrateful, unimaginative Luddite. But I'm betting your both an an ungrateful, unimaginative Luddite and an idiot.
If you dont like it, you can always turn off your computer since NASA and the space race never did anything for you any damn way.

Re:I'm not a nationalist, so I really don't care. (1)

JohnRoss1968 (574825) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647638)

Damn....I just fed a troll. :(

Re:I'm not a nationalist, so I really don't care. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647756)

Unimaginative is believing that only a government entity can invent things. The ROI on NASA is so low that no private enterprise would operate on their insanity. The majority of the money spent on NASA has nothing to do with R&D. I also challenge you to investigate the claims that all of those things you list are NASA inventions. I randomly selected two items, CNC machining and microprocessors, and the Wikipedia articles state nothing about NASA (and, in fact, the article on the microprocessor states that it was developed based on demand for calculators). Years ago I visited the museum at Intel's headquarters and I don't recall anything there about NASA. That's as far as I need to go to know that you are full of shit.

Re:I'm not a nationalist, so I really don't care. (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647704)

That is a little narrow minded, I believe. With this type of thinking there would never be the USA, since Columbus would never have got the funding to go and set sail.

The space program is part of government sponsored research, providing means to keep the country at the forefront of science and technology. It is also a long term goal, with short term returns at certain levels. It also provides a means of political influence.

While you could simply make a military program out of it, there are plenty of scientists which would not sign up if that was the focus. If we stop funding things like the space program then you risk giving other countries an advantage in the future.

We can't delegate all this to the private sector either, since some points of research would bankrupt a company before it even stands the chance of providing a return on investment.

How would you feel if Russia, China or the European Union were the first to land on Mars, while the USA has lagged back into a creationist backwater with little input into the future of mankind.

Re:I'm not a nationalist, so I really don't care. (1)

DRJlaw (946416) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647768)

Why does 'our nation' have to put a gun to my head and force me to fund the intellectual curiosity of others?

As republican as I tend to be, the "all money is fungible" meme needs to die a quick, very ugly death. The modern republican party needs to get its act together and stop with this nonsense -- I can and have voted for 'the lesser of two evils' where the lesser evil was a democrat and the greater idiot was an ultraconservative, evangelical zealot.

You are not forced to fund the intellectual curiosity of others. You are forced to pay taxes to a government which represents a pluralistic society that is reasonably evenly split politically, and quite fractured philosophically.

That government engages in compromise. Nobody get everything they want, some causes that you oppose get something because a good fraction of the population wants it, and some worthy causes get nothing because of insufficient support.

Grow up. Deal with it.

Why don't one of you smarmy assholes head over to Compton and take a poll on how many people in this part of 'the nation' give a flying fuck about landing on an asteroid.

Because Compton is not the entire nation. Why don't you head over to the Cape or Houston or Seattle and ask them? How big a group do you have to be to get a veto? How does anything get done if it only takes 15% of the population to veto something? Make that the standard, and I guarantee that the people of Compton won't be getting anything from the government either.

Science is good but we need more research. (-1, Offtopic)

Dr.Bob,DC (2076168) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647334)


I "get" the whole space program, I really do. But why doesn't the governments of the world spend more time and research money on the more esoteric sciences, alternative medicine and the like?

An excellent example of a victim of no cash would be the (once) superb Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research [journalofs...search.com] . This peer reviewed journal contained endless examples of vertebral subluxation causing everything from cancer and heart disease to colic and bed wetting. It had countless articles from practicioners of Chiropractic who cured all the of the above and more by careful manipulation and adjustment of the spine. Doing that reduces or eliminates the subluxation which cures the underlying issue. The symptoms are gone.

I'm not anti-science and Big Med: if my family was in a car accident and had their arms torn off, no amount of spinal manipulation could fix that. The Chiropractic community, in fact the whole of the alternative medicine caregiving world, would love just 5% of the money that goes to this type of big science to trickle down to us. That won't happen though. Big Pharma and Big Insura control medicine. There's no money in having an autistic child being cured with chelation therapy. Nor is there profit in curing cancer, that's why they marginalize alt-med.

Take care,
Bob

Re:Science is good but we need more research. (2, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647352)

Oh, look, it's the chiro-troll again. (Other readers should look at his posting history to understand -- and dismiss -- the point he makes.)

Re:Science is good but we need more research. (-1, Offtopic)

Dr.Bob,DC (2076168) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647366)

I would love to educate you, but I only am allowed a couple of posts a day thanks to the closed minded folks who automatically dismiss anything I write.

Friend me on Facebook. Link is in my journal.

Re:Science is good but we need more research. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647454)

This has already been posted on your journal. It's all you should know:

Yeah, you're going to do have to better than blanket label half the people here as big pharma shills. That would be a start.

You can also help your self out by not plugging your profession with every single post you make.

Try this for an experiment: Keep your proselyting to the journal and keep your comments on front page stories on point and you'll find your ability to post will increase. Honestly, you could be manufacturing the greatest geek gadget know to man, and people here would still get pissed of with the blatant self-promotion. You and your profession aren't particularly special in this equation.

Re:Science is good but we need more research. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647518)

Wow, I thought that you wre just being a jerk, but that is entirely correct. His page is nothing but "seeing a chiropractor cures everything!", "you are an industry shill!", and "slashdot won't let me post very often because I'm a troll".

Re:Science is good but we need more research. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647482)

There's a reason "alt-med" is despised by medical community. It's the simple fact that any "alternative medicine" that's been proven to work is called...medicine.

Re:Science is good but we need more research. (3, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647526)

>I'm not anti-science

One thing is for damn sure...

You're a loonie and a quack. Anyone who purports to cure cancer, colic, asthma, etc, with spinal manipulation is a fraud. And chelation therapy does not cure autism, no matter how many chemicals you pump through a kid. It just doesn't fucking work, you fraud. It's child abuse and defrauding the parents. And to suggest that it works either says you are a cynical liar, or you're "friggin retahdid" as we say here in the Northeast.

I don't know what psychoactive drugs you're taking, but increase or decrease the dosage, because whatever it is you're taking, it's incorrect.

--
BMO

One Era Ends To Make Way For Another (4, Interesting)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647354)

SpaceX's Dragon Capsule is going to be on display until July 10th at the Kennedy Space Center Air Force air/space museum, right down the street from the last shuttle launch (disclaimer: I'm going to see the last shuttle launch, and to see the Dragon capsule that has been to space and back). This is no accident.

The shuttle has been NASA's workhorse for the last 30 years, but its time for it to make way for the next generation of orbital launch vehicles. Goodbye Shuttle, and thanks for all the hard work.

Re:One Era Ends To Make Way For Another (4, Interesting)

impaledsunset (1337701) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647430)

They are asking the wrong question. The question is "Can the US lead in space thanks to shuttle's end?" The Shuttle program was too expensive for what it actually brought on the table, and it was already too old. Replacing it with something like the Dragon capsule (and the other lifting capabilities in development by private companies) would only be an improvement. It's going to be more efficient, it will allow for more space project to be done with the money that would be saved, it will fund the private industry to develop space-faring technologies. The end of the shuttle will be good for the US space program and the human space program in general. Will the US lead? I doubt it, my bet is on China, but the shuttle going away is the biggest improvement.

Re:One Era Ends To Make Way For Another (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647752)

I keep hearing this, like for the past 10 years. So now that the shuttle is dead, will these other so-called competitors finally make real commercial space flights? The only reason Apollo and the shuttle were successful is because the government poured the tons of money it took into them, trillions in todays dollars. It's a tall order to ask private investors to make it happen even with lower costs, and so far the timeline is much longer. I guess it's ok if no one is in a hurry to go anywhere.

Re:One Era Ends To Make Way For Another (5, Insightful)

Artifice_Eternity (306661) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647446)

Yep. SpaceX and Dragon are clearly the emerging future of American human spaceflight. This video [youtube.com] is a pretty cool demonstration of how the system is evolving.

Armstrong, Lovell, and Cernan are -- knowingly or unknowingly -- lobbying for an old, failed model of government contracting, not for the continuation of the American space program.

The program continues -- it's just being done in a different (and from everything I can see, better) way.

Re:One Era Ends To Make Way For Another (1)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647536)

Armstrong, Lovell, and Cernan are -- knowingly or unknowingly -- lobbying for an old, failed model of government contracting, not for the continuation of the American space program.

Yup, what I was going to say, but better said.

Re:One Era Ends To Make Way For Another (5, Interesting)

queazocotal (915608) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647456)

The shuttle was not a shining example of the US doing well.
It was a shining example of how much pork you can pack into one project and have it stumble along and achieve a bare fraction of the aims at huge cost.

For example.
Do you know why the shuttle has large wings?
It's largely so that it can take off, launch a military satellite into a polar orbit, and land back in the continental united states, without overflying russian territory.

Needless to say, it's never actually needed to do this.
But the requirement to do so meant the need for SRBs, and the complex thermal protection system. This was so that the DOD would kick in some funding into the project early on.

A shuttle launch costs a really, really large slice of a billion dollars.

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy is currently selling twice the amount of payload to low earth orbit, for well under a quarter of the price.

Yes, it's not quite as nice, as you need a few percent of that to be able to push it around a bit to match orbits you can reach with the shuttle.

And you need a bit more payload sacrificed if you actually want anything of significant weight recovered.
But the shuttle has only done that task perhaps half a dozen times, for payloads where in many cases it was debatable as to the value of doing so.

The shuttle has basically been the shining light akin to the caver that finds his way by periodically lighting his hair on fire.

Re:One Era Ends To Make Way For Another (2)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647658)

It's largely so that it can take off, launch a military satellite into a polar orbit, and land back in the continental united states, without overflying russian territory.

I enjoyed your post, but I'm a little fuzzy on this. The only place I can see that you could do a polar orbit starting on US territory and not end up overflying former Soviet territory would be from Hawaii, and the only proposed military launch location I know of was Vandenberg AFB. Would you mind explaining?

Re:One Era Ends To Make Way For Another (2)

rerogo (1839428) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647694)

The idea wasn't to not overfly the Soviets, it was to only overfly them once.

Any second orbit would have been extremely predictable and run the risk of being intercepted.

Re:One Era Ends To Make Way For Another (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647710)

>Do you know why the shuttle has large wings?
It's largely so that it can take off, launch a military satellite into a polar orbit, and land back in the continental united states, without overflying russian territory.

I don't know where you picked this up from, but this is bullshit.

The precedent for flying over a country with a spacecraft was established with Sputnik. Go torrent the Nova episode "Sputnik Declassified."

--
BMO

Re:One Era Ends To Make Way For Another (1)

queazocotal (915608) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647830)

The precedent - yes.
However in times of war you don't want to overfly as for one that'll give them a really accurate position on where the satellite is.

Re:One Era Ends To Make Way For Another (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647734)

[citation needed]

Re:One Era Ends To Make Way For Another (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647776)

Whatever the issues the shuttle may have had, it certainly helped fuel the public imagination. When conceived it was ahead of it's time and we were dealing with the a cutting edge which no one had explored before.

I also wonder how much the contractor oriented obligations NASA has hurt the shuttle.

It is a shame no direct funding has been given to focus on single stage to orbit space vehicles, that can be put back into service within a week. The lifting body is certainly a sound idea, but while we need to depend on replaceable heat tiles, then it will be difficult to achieve the quick turn-around.

With the way funding is organised today, it will be a skunk works military project that will provide us the real successor to the shuttle. NASA has it's hands tied in too many ways - such as the obligation to involve every state in a project.

Re:One Era Ends To Make Way For Another (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647782)

The shuttle is in it's current form because:

  SRBs are used because the fly-back booster (think bigger shuttle to carry little shuttle to altitude and Mach 6) cost too much.

    The large delta-wings are to give the shuttle the 1500 mile cross range it needed to land at it's point of launch from a single polar orbit, from Vandenburgh (KSC is only suitable for conventional orbits as these launch over water).

    The 60 foot long cargo bay was to accommodate military satellites - think HST looking down. The shuttle was to take all of the military payloads in order to get sufficient payloads to reduce the cost-per-flight.

  The space shuttle concept existed as a low cost shuttle to and from orbit. It's mission was to service a couple of 50 man space stations in low orbit, interplanetary vehicles and a space tug, servicing geosynchronous and the moon space station and colony. With the cancellation of these missions (inc. Saturn & Skylab), it fell back on delivering all other payloads. This also mandated the 15 foot diameter payload bay to accommodate space station sections sufficiently large to be habitable.

The shuttle's main failures were:
    The turnaround time for an orbiter was supposed to be 14 weeks. Unable to do that, costs skyrocketed.
        To illustrate, the original mission rate would have meant more missions that have ever flown in the past 30 years would have been flown in the first three years.
    Its original mission came late - the space station. Rather than appearing towards the end of the shuttle's life, it should have been at the beginning.

The programme's main failures were:
    Its requirements were skewed just so that the US would have something for manned spaceflight. This compromised the overall vehicle.
    The space shuttle was only to be small, although necessary, part of the manned space programme. It didn't make sense to be all of it.
    Not enough active development was done, Arguably the shuttles should have been developed and replaced with better concepts as experience was gained. This was done to some extent with upgrades and newer shuttles.
    The major, major failing was with the shuttle operations. The shuttle should not be operated when it is too cold, and it should have been grounded when it was behaving in ways that weren't tested. i.e. foam shedding was something the TPS was never designed to cope with. They should have redesigned and tested.

  The Space Shuttle is a spectacularly impressive piece of engineering, it will be missed. To be properly replaced there have to be missions that the US is willing to commit to seriously, with the appropriate levels of funding. Without the appropriate missions, and hence requirements, there is the risk of producing another compromised vehicle.

To conclude, we shouldn't focus on the vehicles, it is the missions that are important.
   

Re:One Era Ends To Make Way For Another (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647872)

And you need a bit more payload sacrificed if you actually want anything of significant weight recovered.
But the shuttle has only done that task perhaps half a dozen times, for payloads where in many cases it was debatable as to the value of doing so.

Nice try, but most of us don't share your dismal assessment of the Hubble Space Telescope.

keep dreaming (3, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647376)

'American leadership in space will continue for at least the next half-century because we

- aha, keep dreaming.

The US bond crisis is coming, followed immediately by the currency crisis. I bet there will be more pressing needs, like more weapons to start resource wars against multiple countries much before the US will once again be able to go far into space in its new ships, never mind having humans on board there....

Re:keep dreaming (2)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647542)

Can't start wars without money, and after the abovementioned, who would lend it?

Re:keep dreaming (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647590)

Oh, it's easy. You just have to do what USSR did - use the people as slave labor, then you need much less money, as long as you are OK sacrificing large numbers of people...

Re:keep dreaming (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647788)

Isn't this what we call the prison system in the USA? ;) Okay, it not slave labour, but it is close enough in principle.

Re:keep dreaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647742)

Conscripting people into the army is something the government can technically do. You don't need much money for that. You won't get the most willing of soldiers that way either in most cases but throw enough propaganda on the fire and the american people will believe anything the government tells them. Even if it completely contradicts what they told them a month ago.

Other than that, the nuclear warheads are already bought, and the "hardware" is always being supplimented from the hundreds of billions of dollars the department of defense receives every year prior to any crash occurring.

As soon as those crashes happen, the crunch will be on and the government will start picking targets that will become the scapegoats for the hardships regular americans will be forced into thanks to corporate and government corruption/greed. (These are the reasons why the crashes will actually occur. It's happened several times before already.)

Re:keep dreaming (3, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647596)

'American leadership in space will continue for at least the next half-century because we

- aha, keep dreaming.

The US bond crisis is coming, followed immediately by the currency crisis. I bet there will be more pressing needs, like more weapons to start resource wars against multiple countries much before the US will once again be able to go far into space in its new ships, never mind having humans on board there....

While you may well be correct, remember that the percentage of the GDP that the US expends for space exploration is pretty much a rounding error [thespacereview.com] . We can afford it.

Re:keep dreaming (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647778)

There's an alternate view presented by some professor of foreign affairs [googleusercontent.com] that I have been pondering since I read it.

Basically he says, yeah, America faces some crisis in the near future, but so does every other country, and a lot of them are worse. China for example, will face the fallout of the bond/currency crisis, and on top of it they face the constant 'threat' of the populace demanding democracy, and a rapidly aging population that results with a one-child policy.

He suggests that the thing of most importance in the next century is change.....the world will be drastically different in a decade than it is now, and that Americans are very good at dealing with change.

His first point makes a lot of sense, but the most interesting point is his second, and I'm not sure what I think about it. Is America really that good at adapting to change?

Re:keep dreaming (1)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647844)

'American leadership in space will continue for at least the next half-century because we

- aha, keep dreaming.

The US bond crisis is coming, followed immediately by the currency crisis. I bet there will be more pressing needs, like more weapons to start resource wars against multiple countries much before the US will once again be able to go far into space in its new ships, never mind having humans on board there....

While everything you say is true... there IS an economic storm coming... it's coming everywhere, not just the US. China has some very structurally deep financial problems that are obscured by all of the trinkets they sell abroad. There's a reckoning coming, but the US will probably be better off than most when it comes.

Wait a minute (0, Troll)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647400)

What do you mean "still"?

Re:Wait a minute (3, Insightful)

murdocj (543661) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647574)

Riiiiiiiiiggggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhtt,the Chinese are way ahead. After all, they have rovers on Mars, orbiters at Mercury & Saturn, a probe heading to Pluto. and two probes entering interstellar space.

Oh wait, whups,sorry about that

Stop or Go? (1, Interesting)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647402)

It's underwhelming to slowly, ambiguously plan for maybe going to an unspecified asteroid someday. There won't be much excitement from the general public for such a plan, especially with the way it's been marketed so far. Say "in 10 years we'll have people on the way to Mars [or to a lesser extent, the Moon] to build a permanent base" and it becomes a different story.

We're in a budget crisis right now though, with fundamental moral, legal and philosophical disputes over the proper role of the US government. We already have a majority of the states openly challenging federal authority, and the federal government openly scoffing at the idea that there are limits to its lawful power. (Pelosi: "Are you serious?!") It's hard to justify any new government programs while that dispute is unresolved, even as relatively small as the funding would be. Figure out first whether it's okay to have a self-proclaimed "radical communist" serving as a White House adviser, for instance, before deciding relatively minor things like whether to increase one agency's funding. Otherwise we'll just be arguing past each other from completely different premises.

I'm definitely not taking the common position, "Let's solve our problems on Earth before we go to space." This is more like, "Let's figure out what we're trying to accomplish before we set out."

Re:Stop or Go? (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647850)

I hear this a lot, and I think the destination-oriented approach to the problem is the wrong way. As part of the Frontier movement, who whole-heartedly argue that settlement is the only economically justifiable reason for human exploration, we don't just want to go to the Moon, or an asteroid, or anywhere else. We want to go to all of these places, and more.

Destination-oriented approaches aren't going to open the solar system to us. They may ramp up public excitement a bit, but lets be honest, public excitement never got us very far. Don't fall for the myth that Apollo happened because of overwhelming public support, or because Kennedy really believed in it, or anything else -- it served a geopolitical agenda of demonstrating the superiority of the American model during the struggle to win the allegiances of the third world. As advocates of opening the frontier we need to learn to take what we're given and do the most we can with it.

And quite frankly, the ambiguous flexible path approach is the best way to do that. More than anything else, it doesn't require the critical step of "Get more money from congress." If we rebuild a solid infrastructure of multiple launch vehicles to get to LEO (with competitive pressures to improve performance and reduce cost) then in 5 years when a new administration may point in a new direction, they'll have a good starting point from which to redirect the program to accomplish something within 4-5 years (a new administration won't cancel something thats almost done). If in the process we find more new and profitable things to do further away from the Earth's economic sphere, then all the better, because commerce is always going to form a more stable base than the fickleness of feel-good politics. If our systems aren't designed only for the Moon, or for Mars or anywhere else, then we can go wherever it makes the most sense to go at the time.

30-year programs and custom one-off systems for a single mission are far more detrimental to human spaceflight than the passing political pressures or the vagaries of public opinion.

Yes it is the end ... (4, Insightful)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647408)

Space exploration may be a technological feat, but it is also a wonder of human intellect. By abandoning the shuttle, that human intellect is being dumped on the streets with nothing but promises for the future. Promises to the nation, though there will be very few promised to the people who will be pursuing other careers.

Even if things did start up again: within a year, most of those people would need to refresh their training. Within a decade, you would be training most of the workforce from scratch. Within 50 years, even most of the documentation would be lost or incomprehensible.

Don't believe me, just look at Apollo.

If you're a Canuck and don't believe me, look at the Avro Arrow.

Nations loose technical capabilities because those capabilities depend upon the people behind them.

Re:Yes it is the end ... (2)

shess (31691) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647488)

And yet ... with all that awesome technical know-how, we were unable to replace it with a next-gen manned launch vehicle before end-of-lifing it.

I'm not saying your wrong about knowledge bit-rot, but it is entirely possible that the vast experience we had developed was hindering future developments rather than helping them. It's also likely that expecting coherent development from a political program is expecting too much.

Re:Yes it is the end ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647494)

Yeah, that would possibly be true if it weren't for the private sector catching up and still having more momentum than NASA. Doom and gloom is what I hear, you lose your job replacing expensive foam tiles on the schoolbus to space?

Re:Yes it is the end ... (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647684)

We're not quitting space exploration, last I checked there was plenty probes and rovers and telescopes on the drawing board that'd go into space or observe space. The question is the cost/benefit of sending humans out there to do the exploring. To make an analogy, does submarines bring us any closer to building underwater cities? Or are we just really travelling around in a big tin can burning resources to make the submerged life like surface life? In the same way I don't think we'll get any closer to a Mars colony just doing more loops in a shuttle. Obviously a manned mission to Mars can do more than the rovers we have there today, but for the cost we could probably send a hundred more with various instruments.

Most the hard tech challenges are the same for improving robot exploration.as they are for manned exploration, we want better instruments, better communication, better solar panels, reliable rockets, lighter spacecraft, better propulsion and so on. The challenges of adding a crew section with low g-force launch/entry, radiation shielding, breathable air composition and pressure, livable temperature, food and water is not fundamentally different from the Apollo days and won't change in the foreseeable future. What we will miss is the technology that'll eventually result in a colonization of space, but there we lack a lot of earth-based research. We need to learn how to make an ecosystem in a can, a small self-sustained system that'll function over time.

Once we have that, once we can say "if only we had the technology to place this on the Martian surface, we'd have an extraterrestrial colony" then we should pick up that thread again. Right now my impression is not that the humans would enhance the robots, but rather that pretty much the whole mission would exist to sustain the humans. I guess there's a point to doing it to prove that we can, but we've sort of already proved that. If the conditions on the inside are right, it doesn't matter if it's on a submarine or a research base in the Antarctic or on the Moon, people will survive and so they will on Mars too. It's just a matter of how strong the shielding must be.

Quite frankly in my opinion the most interesting part of space exploration happening right now is something we haven't got a snowflake's chance in hell of exploring with current technology, manned or not. By finding exoplanets we're really mapping unexplored territory, getting closer and closer to finding planets like Earth. The only thing that'd come close in this solar system is if we found traces of life (extinct or otherwise) on Mars. Don't get me wrong, the rovers are really cool but the planet is still just a big barren, lifeless rock until proven otherwise. Or until we learn terraforming, but that's a long ways off.

Re:Yes it is the end ... (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647838)

Space exploration may be a technological feat, but it is also a wonder of human intellect. By abandoning the shuttle, that human intellect is being dumped on the streets with nothing but promises for the future.

No-one would build another rocket like the shuttle, and NASA hasn't designed a new rocket in forty years; most of the people who designed it retired years ago.

If that 'intellect' was so valuable, private space companies would be lining up to hire them, yet in reality they seem to avoid hiring NASA's cast-offs. Probably because NASA engineers spent about as much to put a fake upper stage on top of an SRB and launch it into the sea as SpaceX did to build two new launchers from scratch and fly them into orbit.

Not the end of HUMAN spaceflight...just AMERICAN (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647410)

It's not the end of HUMAN spaceflight...just AMERICAN spaceflight. You can't lead anyone anywhere if you have to hitch a ride to get there yourself.

Re:Not the end of HUMAN spaceflight...just AMERICA (5, Informative)

Artifice_Eternity (306661) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647464)

SpaceX has already sent an unmanned Dragon capsule into orbit around the Earth [wikipedia.org] . They have a contract with NASA for cargo flights to the ISS, and are developing the manned version of the Dragon with an integrated abort system (see this video [youtube.com] for a demonstration).

American spaceflight is NOT coming to an end. It's just not going to be a NASA monopoly any more.

Provided it is given it the means to stay ahead (2)

youn (1516637) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647416)

_ Chinese are planning multiple mir like station, yes at first they will suck but with big budgets, they could have their sputnik moment
_ if aerobreathing engines like the one planned on the skylon are operational, they too could be a game changer. yes it is unmanned but drastically decreases costs
_ jaxa is planning a robotic base on the moon... and japanese definitely know their robots
_ if multiple changes mid programs don't cause nasa to redevelop the wheel, it will fall behind ....

maybe it can stay ahead... and I really hope it will get a big boost but I don't see that happening, especially with cost saving measures in budget... nasa is definitely not a priority

What I would love is all space faring countries to combine efforts and launch some big ass missions and really get the space race going... but because of pride never gonna happen :(

Re:Provided it is given it the means to stay ahead (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647860)

if aerobreathing engines like the one planned on the skylon are operational, they too could be a game changer. yes it is unmanned but drastically decreases costs

If I remember correctly, Skylon's estimated cost per kilo is about the same as Falcon 9 Heavy, which should be flying soon for far less than the tens of billions of dollars required to build Skylon.

Skylon used to look like a great idea, but now that governments are getting out of the space business and leaving it to private corporations, it's starting to look like another expensive white elephant designed around 'cost no object' government funding.

Space is too big for one nation (1)

hackertourist (2202674) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647418)

The 'next big thing', manned missions to Mars and beyond, is going to be so expensive no single nation can afford to do it. International cooperation is IMO the only way forward. The ISS was a decent first effort in that direction, but also shows the problems that will crop up in such a cooperation. The weird orbit dictated by the requirement that it can be reached from both Canaveral and Baikonur, different docking systems being used, etc.
Nations will have to put the cooperative effort above petty nationalism if these missions are going to succeed.
Even then, we're stuck to our local neighborhood unless there's a quantum leap in space technology.

Re:Space is too big for one nation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647474)

Space is too big to fit in the American imagination.

Re:Space is too big for one nation (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647796)

The 'next big thing', manned missions to Mars and beyond, is going to be so expensive no single nation can afford to do it.

Bollocks. Spaceflight is expensive because governments will pay a billion dollars a time to fly seven astronauts and a few tons of pizza and toilet paper to a space station which serves no purpose that anyone can adequately explain.

I'd bet $10 that the first human to walk on the surface of Mars will be a billionaire tourist, not a government bureaucrat.

The people of the US of A are good at one thing .. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647424)

and one thing only. War. They all will perish in their own misery.

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647434)

"'When I hear people say that the final shuttle flight marks the end of U.S. human space flight, you all must be living on another planet"
If we were living on another planet, the shuttle would still be going.

Not having a Nasa rocket != not having a US rocket (4, Interesting)

phayes (202222) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647468)

How is the coming hiatus any different that that between the end of Saturn V & the first Shuttle or for that matter the multi-year launch stoppage after Columbia? Why MUST it be a NASA developped rocket? Is it because parts NASA have turned into the aerospace work assurance administration?

I'm a manned space exploration fan but I have come to the conclusion that it would be better off for Manned space explorattion were Nasa to get out of the development of it's own launchers & buy from SpaceX or whoever else develops a reliable launcher without falling into the trap of growing a self justifying administration.

Human space flight is one part of space exploratio (3, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647506)

The US is changing its HUMAN space exploration program, but the space exploration program is returning far more knowledge than it ever has. We've sent robots to almost every planet. We've been to Mars many many times. That may not be as inspirational as landing on the moon, but it's produced a hell of a lot more knowledge than did putting people on the moon.

Re:Human space flight is one part of space explora (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647644)

Good point. Tends to get lost in the discussion.

we have more probes on mars then any other (5, Informative)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647508)

we have more probes on mars then any other nation.

And look at mars rover that lasted for YEARS longer then planned.

Re:we have more probes on mars then any other (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647802)

No Britain has that honour - it's just unfortunate the million smithereens werent designed to function as a swarm.

Re:we have more probes on mars then any other (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647856)

Than. THAN.

Joyriding astronauts != space exploration (4, Interesting)

yesterdaystomorrow (1766850) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647528)

*Real* space exploration these days is performed by robots. Humans have the wrong senses, the wrong body form, and needs that are very difficult to satisfy in space. But we're very good at building and directing robots, and getting better very fast.

The shuttle? Absolute garbage engineering. Sold as the cheapest way to get to space, it wound up the most expensive of all time. It was supposed to be as safe and easy to operate as an airliner, but it proved extremely dangerous. It proved the capability of the USA only in the sense that no other entity could possibly have thrown enough resources at it to make it work at all. NASA has finally come to its collective senses and decided to quit "throwing good money after bad", a decision that's about 35 years too late.

Human beings will have a future in space when the resources and infrastructure to support them can be gathered, constructed, and maintained by robots. But we have proven beyond any reasonable argument that using human beings as "space laborers" is hyper-expensive and counterproductive.

Re:Joyriding astronauts != space exploration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647804)

Real space exploration has always been done by robot - humans just come along later.

Can the US Still Lead In Space? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647532)

Can the US Still Lead In Space Despite Shuttle's End? - Yes
Will the US Still Lead In Space Despite Shuttle's End? - Answer unclear. Ask again later

The parties over (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647534)

Too many idiots and assholes on BOTH sides of the aisle to continue. One side wants to spend all of the money on unsolvable problems like poverty while the other side wants to keep all of the money literally for themselves. Given the volume with which each side whines, the congress kritters will use both to make themselves look good. So far the well outer space, we hardly knew ye...

USA: best science for the buck (0)

farble1670 (803356) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647544)

i could care less if the US is seen as the "leader" in space exploration. what i do care about is getting the best science for the buck. let nations like china prove themselves and simultaneously ruin their economy by putting a man on mars. let the US focus on robotic / unmanned missions.

Re:USA: best science for the buck (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647648)

i could care less if the US is seen as the "leader" in space exploration.

Why do you hate America?

Re:USA: best science for the buck (1, Informative)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647712)

i could care less if the US is seen as the "leader" in space exploration.

That would imply you do care about how the US is perceived. Looking at the context within the rest of your post, though... the correct phrase would've been "I couldn't care less".

Signed,
Your Friendly Neighborhood Grammar Nazi

Ending the Shuttle program is a good thing (4, Interesting)

drgould (24404) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647586)

The Shuttle and ISS are black holes in NASA's budget sucking all the money away from almost every other project. Everything at NASA has been secondary to maintaining the Shuttle and ISS.

The best thing that could happen is that shutting down the Shuttle program will free up budget money to develop better, cheaper, faster manned and unmanned space programs.

The worst thing that could happen is that NASA decides to create another white elephant space program simply to keep the massive army of NASA employees and contractors who worked on the Shuttle program employed.

Rockets are just too inefficient (1)

Rande (255599) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647588)

We need to come up with a way of keeping most of the fuel for lift on the ground instead of carrying it up too.
There's several ways.
Space Elevator - awaiting the materials tech. Also be a terrorist attack target.
Lasers - awaiting laser tech.
Magnetic acceleration - This would work now. Except that to launch people at a acceptable Gs would require a track 3 miles long. It would also be politically problematic because the same tech could be used to drop a bomb anywhere on the planet and be a terrorist target.

Re:Rockets are just too inefficient (3, Informative)

farble1670 (803356) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647610)

we can drop a bomb anywhere on the planet now, it's called an ICBM.

Re:Rockets are just too inefficient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647670)

Wait. A space elevator wouldn't be an epic terrorist target?

Re:Rockets are just too inefficient (1)

isorox (205688) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647750)

Also be a terrorist attack target.

When did Americans become such pussies?

Re:Rockets are just too inefficient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647806)

Lasers, really? You might as well have said:

Marshmallows - awaiting marshmallow tech.

Either that or a link to something explaining how lasers will launch a vehicle.

Well, can they? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647604)

Yes. No. Maybe. I don't know. No-one does. No story.

50 years?? (1)

chiph (523845) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647612)

Following my usual policy of dividing any optimistic-sounding number quoted by a government official in half, I give it 25 years before someone else (Russia? China? Uzbekistan?) takes the lead.

Re:50 years?? (1)

farble1670 (803356) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647642)

russia has massive natural resources and a good base in the technology, but they will never be as razor focused as they were during the cold war. decision makers in russia now have to worry about things like getting votes and political upheaval, like the US and other western nations.

china on the other hand is ripe for political revolution. do you expect chinese citizens to put up with longer work hours in poorer conditions with less compensation than other countries, with less political and personal freedom, for the next 25+ years? those are the things that are driving china today.

Takes the lead (2)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647660)

I give it 25 years before someone else takes the lead.

I suppose it depends which lead you mean. There are several.

Sure, the USA is about to give up it's manned flight capabilities - though whether the scuttle represented a lead in that field is open to question. However, it still has a lot of capabilities in military launches (the military space budget is at least the size of NASA's - that's not going to be cut) and civil satellite operations.
You probably can't assign the non-governmental space business as "american" as it's, well, non-governmental so doesn't really carry a national identity.

Personally I doubt that there's going to be much manned activity past LEO for at least 100 years, as there's no real need for it. There might be some "gestures" by the chinese, but there's no need for a permanent manned base, or manned expeditions - unless it's for reasons of prestige and few people are willing to pay for that any more.

We have no money for space flight. (1, Interesting)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647622)

We're too busy bombing democracy into people in foreign lands and spending billions of dollars per month to do so.

You got an 8 year old girl that wants to go into space?

Have her study her math, physics, *RUSSIAN* and *MANDARIN CHINESE*

Because the only way she's going to get there is with the countries that have the launch facilities and vehicles. We have *nothing* man-rated after STS-135. We don't even have spam-in-a-can on top of a fucking Titan, or Atlas like Gemini to get to the ISS.

But we sure have fucking cash to bomb the Afghanis, Pakistanis, Iraqis, Libyans, and Yemenis. Did I miss anyone there? I'm not entirely sure. Have we been bombing Somalia? What about Syria? Are we going to go there too? We certainly had plans as far back as 1991.

We certainly don't have money to subcontract it out to fucking Space-X. The bombs are worth more.

Fuckit. US space exploration is done. Throw dirt over the casket.

--
BMO - whose internal 7 year old is going to go cry in a corner because he'll never see anything inspiring like Apollo again.

Re:We have no money for space flight. (-1, Offtopic)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647724)

>modded troll within 5 minutes

I must have angered a PNAC member/war criminal.

Why more people are not angry about these fucking wars is beyond me. Fuck you guys.

Go ahead, mod this down too. I've got more karma than you have mod points.

--
BMO

FUCKIN' A YOU KOMMIE BASTARDS CAN SUCK IT !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647646)

China ?? Haha !!
France ?? Which way are the showers !!
Russia ?? Hm... is there a Russia ??
England ?? Hm... Maybe !! Imagine all the money available by avoiding dental care !!

Private industry taking some of the cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647664)

Private industry is taking some of the cost of deploying satellites and putting payloads of materiel into space. In a few years, they will be putting people up too. The space shuttle mission had to end, the shuttles are old. In general, they worked very well. A lot was accomplished with them. They have gone to museums because its time for them to retire. I didn't own a computer 30 years ago, but I owned one 25 years ago. It had a membrane keyboard, 4k of internal memory, and 16k of external memory. It ran at 1.77 MHz. My current computer has 12GB of memory (not including any support hardware or video memory), and runs at 2.66 GHz. I have 64 times as much memory in my L1 cache as my first computer had in its main memory (the 4k internal ram was disabled when you plugged in the 16K ram pack). My first computer came along 5 years after the space shuttles began service. I have never kept the same car for over 30 years. In the glory days of the Apollo program, it had an unlimited budget. America was surging. American was the engine of the world. Today, America produces very little. The dollar is flagging on world economies. The intellectual property drum is the only thing left to beat. America needs new cheap means to get into space. Rockets are expensive. Shuttles were reusable, and cheaper than rockets. Now something must come along that is cheaper than shuttles. The days of unlimited budgets are over. Welcome to space 3.0.

NASA forced to end the Shuttle Program (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647668)

In 2006, the decision was made to end the Shuttle program by 2010 and put focus on Orion. NASA Administrator Griffin was not in favor of ending the Shuttle, but he had no real choice. The politicians in Washington made the call and Griffin nodded in return.

The ambitious goal of Orion was to launch in 2014, four years after the end of the Shuttle. Technical hurdles, over-promises, political jostling, and financial limits put Orion far behind schedule and it was apparent that the project had to make major changes or be scrapped. NASA can get back on track, but not without necessary funding, which has been made much more difficult thanks to an expensive and ill-advised war, overspending by Democrats and Republicans, and an economic recession caused by greedy bankers and investors.

Sure, we can send a human to the moon again or to Mars, but just like the first moon program, people will pay attention for the first few flights, then lose interest. Americans are more interested in American Idol, reality TV, smartphones, and YouTube than they are about human space flight today.

p.s. Sorry about the mindless rant.

Re:NASA forced to end the Shuttle Program (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647774)

In 2006, the decision was made to end the Shuttle program by 2010 and put focus on Orion.

I don't believe that's true. If I remember correctly, the committee said that the shuttle had to be recertified or stop flying and there was no requirement that it be followed by another pork-barrel program to keep shuttle contractors employed.

PAY YOUR DAMN BILLS AMERICA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36647676)

then go joy riding

End of a disastrous era (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647762)

The Shuttle program set back access to space and kept it from recovering. It's [oocities.com] been [oocities.com] a decades [wired.com] -long [wikipedia.org] effort [wikipedia.org] to get NASA out of the space transportation business but it may finally be happening due in no small part to the fact that NASA is perceived by the Obama administration, however inaccurately, as competing for minority preference civil service jobs.

Obama didn't cancel the Shuttle, Bush did (5, Informative)

The Bad Astronomer (563217) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647832)

Oh for Pete's sake. Obama did NOT cancel the Shuttle program, George W Bush did! Obama canceled Constellation, the rocket program to followup on the Shuttle, but he did so because it was overbudget and behind schedule. I have a long-ish article about this in the New York Post today [nypost.com] . NASA has some serious problems right now, mostly due to lack of a strong vision and the ridiculous turf wars between the White House and Congress. Most of these problems aren't hard to solve in theory, but in practice, with the rabid partisonship going on right now? Hmph.

Leadership in space (1, Interesting)

Myopic (18616) | more than 3 years ago | (#36647870)

Uh, America hasn't led in space since around the time I was in third grade, in the 80s. Sorry to burst your bubble NASA, but you've been irrelevant and anachronistic since the end of the Apollo program. America hasn't led in space since that time because nobody has led in space since that time.

If America wants to lead in space, it should remember: HUMANS ON OTHER WORLDS, OR NOTHING. Low-earth orbit doesn't count. Telescopes don't count. Robots on Mars, though cool, don't count.

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