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Dragon Capsule Heads Home From ISS

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the homeward-bound dept.

Space 70

An Anonymous Coward sent word that the SpaceX Dragon capsule is heading home from the International Space Station. From the article: "The unmanned Dragon space capsule set off from the International Space Station Sunday for the cargo-laden return trip to Earth after successfully delivering its first commercial payload, NASA said. Using a robotic arm, an astronaut aboard the floating laboratory detached and released the capsule at 1329 GMT after an 18-day mission to resupply the space station, the first ever by a privately-owned company, SpaceX. The next step will be to bring the capsule out of orbit by intermittently firing its onboard engines to slow its speed. It is then supposed to parachute into the Pacific Ocean off the California coast at 1920 GMT."

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Niggatastic! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41798155)

It's like a nigga, who's in the hole,
It's like a nigga, he's on the dole!

It's like a nigga, he's fantastic,
It's like a nigga, he's niggatastic!

Re: Niggatastic! (1)

FRAKK2 (166082) | about 2 years ago | (#41802191)

You do know that they are storing IP now? Enjoy your freedom while it lasts ;)

Follow the descent online (5, Informative)

janek78 (861508) | about 2 years ago | (#41798249)

Space X is posting updates here: http://www.spacex.com/webcast/ [spacex.com] , unfortunately there is no live video feed, only status updates.

Re:Follow the descent online (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#41798507)

What would there be live video feed of? A bunch of folks sitting around staring at computer screens?

Seriously, the world keeps turning even without a meaningless video feed.

Re:Follow the descent online (0, Troll)

chill (34294) | about 2 years ago | (#41798567)

Pix or it didn't happen.

Re:Follow the descent online (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 2 years ago | (#41799777)

turn on your web cam take a picture and submit it to moronswithcamerasandinternet.com

Or Facebook,

Same thing really.

Re:Follow the descent online (0)

janek78 (861508) | about 2 years ago | (#41798927)

Ever watched a Shuttle returning?

Re:Follow the descent online (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#41799931)

Watching the Shuttle is watching something *actually happening*. It's the difference between watching a baseball game, and watching a bunch of sportswriters write about a baseball game.

Re:Follow the descent online (1)

Requiem18th (742389) | about 2 years ago | (#41808125)

Your link tells me I'm not using a modern browser, apparently the latest bluid of Firefox on Linux is not modern enough for them.

Re: loss of focus (3, Insightful)

menno_h (2670089) | about 2 years ago | (#41798291)

Of course I like the fact that space travel is becoming a commercial matter, with more opportunities for us civvies, but here we also see the decline of NASA. They used to build one cool thing after another and launch greater and greater mission (Gemini, Apollo, Pioneer, Mariner, etc), but now the NASA is losing it's momentum and budget.
One cause of this is because it doesn't set any real goals any more. In the good ol' days NASA had goals; put a man on the moon, put a robot on Mars, send a satellite to the edge of the solar system, etc, but now it's primary occupation is the ISS, where they do research which might one day be useful. (in the far future)
Yes, curiosity was cool, but it wasn't new. It wasn't groundbreaking research and technology. According to Robert Zubrin [youtube.com] who explains this far better than I can, we could have people on Mars by now.
The reason we don't is because the NASA has become unfocused.
Dragon, to me, symbolizes this.

Re: loss of focus (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41798373)

What blows my mind is that people think landing a science tank on mars demonstrates a mundane lack of goals.

Re: loss of focus (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41798447)

It demonstrates some really good people doing the best they could with what little they were given to work with.

The same people who put Curiosity on Mars could have put you or me there instead, if they were given half of the funding that George Bush spent blowing up brown people for lulz.

Re: loss of focus (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 years ago | (#41800597)

The same people who put Curiosity on Mars could have put you or me there instead, if they were given half of the funding that George Bush spent blowing up brown people for lulz.

There's also the small question if we're sending stuff out there for science or for chest-thumping of how great we are. While I'm not disputing that a Mars mission is very difficult, it's also not revolutionary different from we did with Apollo - yes humans can survive space, land on another rock and do moonwalks... err, marswalks. Yes, there's more radiation issues, landing on Mars is harder and they'll be staying longer but nothing really fundamentally sets it apart from what we've done before. Are they going to contribute anything useful we couldn't have done better with hundreds of billions in robotics? Will it bring us any closer to a permanent settlement? Or it will it be like the Apollo program: Show it's possible, not just theory but then don't do it again for 40+ years. That'll just be the world's most expensive tourists.

Re: loss of focus (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | about 2 years ago | (#41800347)

The skycrane was the very essence of "ground-breaking". A bigger one could set down safely the equipment we'd need to perhaps sustain life for a bit.

Re: loss of focus (3, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 2 years ago | (#41798401)

The benefits of the of the Space Station are not only research into the things we might need to know for human space travel.

Much more valuable in the short term are advances in material sciences in zero and near zero gravity.

Also, although there would be some "ethical" issues, we need to understand the possibilities of human reproduction in space - it's going to happen, especially if they do something stupid like a multi-year mission to Mars, there will be sex.

Re: loss of focus (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41798547)

No, the value of the ISS is much, much more mundane. How to keep a gigantic pile of junk working in space. Short term flips around the moon or earth orbit are one thing, but you really have to be able to do stuff like fix something when it breaks.

The human reproduction thing will probably have to wait a while, but we can practice in the mean while.

Re: loss of focus (1, Interesting)

menno_h (2670089) | about 2 years ago | (#41798815)

No, the value of the ISS is much, much more mundane. How to keep a gigantic pile of junk working in space. Short term flips around the moon or earth orbit are one thing, but you really have to be able to do stuff like fix something when it breaks.

ISS has been up there for 14 years now. The trip to Mars only takes a few years.
I think we've had enough time to collect data by now. It's time NASA does something, or it will be superseded and made obsolete by commercial spaceflight companies.
These companies will probably only be interested in profit, not in pure science, and might not even publish the results of their extraterrestrial surveys. This would lead to a horrible fragmentation of human knowledge of space, where the employees of companies will know about what's out there, NDAs will prevent them from spreading that knowledge. (What if the competitors find out that certain asteroids are full of palladium?)

Re: loss of focus (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#41798613)

At this point, it would be completely irresponsible to put fertile men and women on a long-term trip. Chances are the woman and her baby would die.

Re: loss of focus (5, Insightful)

menno_h (2670089) | about 2 years ago | (#41798845)

At this point, it would be completely irresponsible to put fertile men and women on a long-term trip. Chances are the woman and her baby would die.

If we don't have gravity (or centrifugal imitations of gravity) other bad things could happen.
Even if the baby survives, imagine the shock of encountering gravity after more than a year in space. It will not be familiar with gravity, which might lead to it jumping of an object, expecting to fly, but falling instead.
The child's muscles might also be very underdeveloped and it's bones would be way too high on collagen and not strong enough for a gravitational environment.

Re: loss of focus (2)

mjr167 (2477430) | about 2 years ago | (#41802961)

Small children jump off things even when they were born on Earth.

Re: loss of focus (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41798941)

Yeah, because babies always died before there were doctors... *facepalm*

I bet you also say other similar things, like "I buy my meat at the supermarket, where no animal is harmed!"...

Re: loss of focus (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41799079)

I do not think he is talking about the absence of doctors being a problem, but rather two issues inherent in the space environment namely increased amounts of radiation interfering with proper development of the child and the absence of gravity which might or might not be needed for various biological processes.

Re: loss of focus (-1, Troll)

Kittenman (971447) | about 2 years ago | (#41799241)

At this point, it would be completely irresponsible to put fertile men and women on a long-term trip. Chances are the woman and her baby would die.

Any chance we could put (say) one man and twenty or so fertile, attractive women on a long-term trip? If so, where do I sign?

Re: loss of focus (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about 2 years ago | (#41800743)

At this point, it would be completely irresponsible to put fertile men and women on a long-term trip. Chances are the woman and her baby would die.

Any chance we could put (say) one man and twenty or so fertile, attractive women on a long-term trip? If so, where do I sign?

You have to prove you are more worthy than the president, Dr. Strangelove, and Buck Turgidson for the honor.

Re: loss of focus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41804873)

STFU you trolling 1 line posting karma-whoring little imbecile.

Re: loss of focus (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about 2 years ago | (#41812131)

Hey look, they did an article [slashdot.org] about you today.

Re: loss of focus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41817395)

You only further prove that you're a 1 line posting karma whoring troll.

Re: loss of focus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41817453)

gmhowell proves he's a 1 line posting karma whoring troll yet again.

Re: loss of focus (3, Interesting)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#41800931)

Every time I see a statement like this, I ask: Where is the science to back up any statement of any kind about any mammalian reproduction?

Hint: There isn't any at all... at least any sort that would tell you about what will happen to somebody conceiving a child in space and carrying that baby full term to birth. I'm not talking just humans here but any kind of mammal, including rats, mice, or even monkeys.

This is also an experiment that to me is long overdue to be conducted on the ISS or some other space platform. To me it is a travesty that it was never done earlier. The main reason why such studies haven't been done is because NASA is too prudish about sex and has either rejected or dismissed such proposals in the past... even when there have been mixed genders of small mammals that have gone into space before.

There have been some experiments done with mammal ovum and sperm done in a "simulated microgravity" environment... but they really aren't really anything more than a little past the basic embryo stage when that was done and powerful magnetic environments are a lousy simulation of microgravity. There was a pregnant rat which gave birth on the Space Shuttle...where the mom and the babies seemed to have done just fine, although that was limited to just a couple of weeks due to the limitations of the Space Shuttle itself for long-term missions. Some mice and rats have gone up to the ISS, but they have been explicitly separated by protocol from attempting reproduction during those experiments.

Chances are likely that the first "experiments" will be done with humans before it is done with any other mammal... something I consider a travesty simply because such clueless statements like this one are repeatedly made and sentiments about sterilization of spaceflight participants is made through assumptions rather than any sound understanding of what is actually happening based upon real science. Assumptions can be made, but that is all they are.

Some sort of artificial gravity (aka a spinning torus) may be necessary... and certainly there have been almost no long terms studies about what happens in a partial gravity environment to almost any living thing. There was going to be a centrifuge added to the ISS, but that module is one of the items cut from the design when budget considerations started to be applied. About the only significant partial gravity environment studied was the experience the dozen Apollo astronauts experienced while on the Moon... and the most any of those astronauts spent on the Moon was just three days. That coupled with the fact they were in a microgravity environment going to and from the Moon sort of negates the experience as well from serious consideration of determining any long-term health complications from living in a partial (say Mars-like) environment.

It is best to simply say "we don't know" and end it at that.

Re: loss of focus (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 2 years ago | (#41801973)

Finally someone who sees that the king is naked. Thank you Teancum! As far as I'm concerned, they should have sent a couple to ISS long ago, and has them stay there until the baby is born (assuming uncomplicated pregnancy). Yeah, there would be risks, yada yada. There are always risks. That's why they're considered the elite :)

Re: loss of focus (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#41803449)

Nobody's worried about the sex. Development of the child in space and possible complications of pregnancy are a bigger concern because of what it does to a woman's circulatory system.

But those are relatively minor risks. The big risk is complications of childbirth.

Your attitude tells us one thing very clearly. You have never been in the room when a baby was born. Humans have the most difficult deliveries of any animal, with a very high potential for loss of life. Every obstetrician knows this, and I doubt you could find one who thinks it is a good idea to try delivering babies in space anytime soon, because FIRST you have do demonstrate that you can do surgery safely in space because there's a high risk whenever a baby is born that some surgery will be required.

And that demonstration pushes the bounds of medical ethics. You can't demonstrate it on humans first. You have to start with sending surgeons and animals to space, just to do unnecessary surgery for the sake of demonstrating whether it can be done and developing safe techniques. You'll probably kill a lot of those animals. Won't THAT be a PR bonanza?

So for the time being we only put people in psace who are either not going to get pregnant or who can be brought down in plenty of time to ensure that their kids can be born on Earth.

Re: loss of focus (2)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#41808997)

Considering I have several children.... you had better believe that I have been in the delivery room for the birth of every single one of my children. One of them even spent some time in the neo-natal unit of the hospital with some complications due to the birth. I had one of my children saved from nearly certain death because of a very skilled obstetrician... although a very skilled and mature mid-wife likely could have done the same thing in the same situation. While I did talk with my wife about home deliveries, it was the "just in case" situations that we didn't know that caused us to go to a hospital.

I also witnessed an obstetrician do some things on my 3rd child that likely could have resulted in a malpractice lawsuit if I had cared to bother with the issues. He still has some long term health consequences from that incident that my wife and I are dealing with, so you had also better believe I've seen the whole range both good and bad what the medical profession can dish out in this situation.

Don't go presuming something you know nothing about, particularly about another person. My attitude is that something should be done with watching what mice will do first in space, since we have that ability and capability. My concern is that the first experiments will be done on humans because of callousness and a total disregard for human life. I find that a horrible thing to see particularly because there are other options available.

Considering the other kinds of experiments that are done with mice here on the Earth, seeing what happens to a bunch of mice over the course of several generations in the ISS wouldn't be all that bad and in fact might give some amazing insights into the life cycles of what we might expect when that happens to people. Is there a problem with bone development in the womb? Can there even be multiple generations of any mammal be born in space? Does living in a partial gravity environment mitigate any of the problems that arise from a microgravity situation?

My point is that you can't answer a bloody single one of those questions because the science hasn't been done. Do not confuse this thinking that it is impossible to do the science (unlike studying rock formations on Mars that only now Curiosity is just barely able to get started on) but rather because the powers that be who decide what is going to be studied simply refuse to do this kind of research. I would also dare say that knowing the long-term health consequences of gestational development as well as even adolescent growth and development in space are things that we need to know about now, as there will soon be kids going into space sooner or later where intelligent decisions about how they are to be treated and what problems they may encounter are very legitimate concerns to mission planners.

I do agree this isn't much to do with sex, but the gestational development of children in the womb is something that really does need to be investigated. I also think it is irresponsible to be making blanket statements saying that people need to be sterile or at an age where conception is not really an option if they are going to be traveling into space. Find out first what is the problem and then go from that point forward.

My point about doing human experimentation first is that I'm suggesting that the callous and prudish behavior on the part of the decision makers is going to make human experimentation on the subject what will end up happening... by default. If no other legitimate scientific studies are done to really examine the issues involved, the first time it will become an issue to worry about will be due to the fact it will be a human child or embryo that will need to be a part of the statistical universe. If you think that is unethical, I would have to agree... other than the fact that ample opportunity to perform this kind of study has been made available in the past on non-human subjects first but that the policy makers who could make a difference in this situations have deliberately chosen to wait until it is a human trial first so they can decide if it is safe to bring up rabbits and mice later on. That is ass backward and something that needs to be pointed out to those engaged in mission planning.

Re: loss of focus (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41799527)

Much more valuable in the short term are advances in material sciences in zero and near zero gravity.

What advances? Last I looked most of that research could be done on Earth, but without the considerable cost multiplier of the station. For example, they've made gas-metal foams on Earth, by enclosing the gas in beads first.

Also, although there would be some "ethical" issues, we need to understand the possibilities of human reproduction in space - it's going to happen, especially if they do something stupid like a multi-year mission to Mars, there will be sex.

Which could easily be prevented by making one or both sexes sterile, say through routine surgeries.

Re: loss of focus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41798405)

Actually if you where to point any fingers it would be the squarely on elected officials lack of setting and or sticking a plan. Every administration seems to either abandon the previous ones initiatives or ignores them completely and just let's funding die.

Say what you want about bush but at least there was a plan and a destination.

Re: loss of focus (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#41798599)

But W did not fund it. Therefore it was WORTHLESS. And the plan was a disaster.

O's real plan is to get private space to take over Commercial Launches, AND have them do the space stations as well. Basically, he is trying to back CONgress, esp. you neo-cons, into a corner. You ppl will have no choice but to either kill off NASA (not fucking likely), OR to finally allow NASA to do what it wants to do, which is go BEO with both ppl and robotics.

Re: loss of focus (2)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#41801043)

W. Bush funded Constellation, although that funding was supposed to continue on past the end of his term. It didn't. I'm not saying that I think Michael Griffin's NASA was really into going to some place beyond low-Earth orbit either, but at least a serious effort was made toward that end and something more than I can say of the Obama administration. The last president to offer any sort of substantive support for NASA was the Johnson administration, which is sort of why the center in Houston, Texas bears his name.

Constellation was a disaster in part because it was only half-way into what was needed to pull the thing off. It really did need a larger budget and much more commitment to getting done, not to mention that there were other problems that the program really didn't address including the fact that up to that point in time launch costs were going up faster than inflation... indeed still are if you consider traditional launchers.

SpaceX offers a glimpse that perhaps the cost of spaceflight can be a fair bit cheaper, but I'm not convinced that SpaceX will be successful at making a meaningful drop in price in the long term. At least if SpaceX becomes a "traditional launch company" and gets in on the gravy train of government launch contracts, I expect that their prices will eventually get up to what the other "big boys" are currently charging for launches.

Re: loss of focus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41801767)

G. W. Bush "half-funded" constellation. Like his daddy's NLS program he didn't give a shit after the photo-op, and he neglected to secure the program enough money to succeed.

After wasting a $5 billion on an entirely pointless "look we're doing something" 4-segment solid motor test, which tells NASA nothing about the behavior of Ares I's 5.5 segment motor, Ares I was cancelled, Ares V was renamed and reworked, and all design work started again. Then Obama came to office and renamed the mess SLS to demonstrate leadership.

Re: loss of focus (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#41814181)

If NASA's budget had doubled and a serious effort to go to other extra-terrestrial destination was a major objective of a presidential administration along with a supportive congress... Constellation could have worked. The dirty little secret of Constellation is that the program was set up with the notion in mind that it would be "too big to fail" and that fairy god-senators would come to its rescue to keep it from getting cancelled.

If it wasn't for companies like SpaceX and other "new space" companies, I dare say that would likely have been the situation too. That was pretty much the way that the Space Shuttle was organized, with early start-up costs of the program low enough to not draw congressional ire but a gradual ramping up of costs until it wouldn't even be considered for cancellation because of all of the money that was spent. That seems to be the attitude towards the James Webb Space Telescope too, even though I consider it in either case to be fallacious logic.

Apparently these guys have never heard about the Superconducting Super Collider either. Science projects are never considered "too big to fail" in the long run, which was one of the problems that even Werner Von Braun had to face at the end of his career.

NASA engineers really didn't like the Constellation design anyway, as it was being designed by committee for political considerations that had absolutely nothing to do with aerospace engineering. Then again that same sort of mentality of design by committee is what has given us the Senate Launch System (usually called just SLS).

Re: loss of focus (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41798635)

Say what you want about bush but at least there was a plan and a destination.

Ok, I will say what I want about Bush.

He is a liar and he should be in prison for getting the US involved
in a war which he and his cronies would profit from, while at the same
time the US took giant steps toward becoming a police state during the
Bush regime. I call it a regime instead of "leadership" because a sack of
shit like Bush is not qualified to lead anyone anywhere at any time.

And now the US might be about to get more of the same with Romney.
If you vote for Romney, you are the enemy of every thinking person in the
US and the rest of the world, and you are a naive fool if you actually believe
Romney will improve the US economy. Romney doesn't care about the average
person, he cares about himself and his wealthy buddies.

Re: loss of focus (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#41798581)

Actually, it is NOT NASA's fault. It is CONgress's fault. NASA was gearing up to go to the moon in the 90's and again in the 00's. In the 90's, CONgress gutted them, and then in the 00's, the same CONgress underfunded them.

And I disagree with Bob in that I think that Commercial space will FORCE CONgress to quit trying to stop NASA. NASA really will have no choice but to either go 100% robotic (horrible idea), OR to go BEO. Note, that the majority of the neo-cons are the real culprits. ANd the tea party ppl, along with their advanced ages, are slowly forcing that kind of scum out.

Re: loss of focus (1)

menno_h (2670089) | about 2 years ago | (#41798907)

If NASA would propose a plan to send humans to Mars, think it out really well, sell it to the people via press conferences and YouTube videos and _then_ propose it to congress and ask for a 'small sum' of money, the overwhelming public opinion would force any reasonable politician who wants to be reelected to vote in favor. If NASA adds some stuff about 'cracking down on the Chinese' who are already planning trips to the Moon and 'glory to America' the nationalists and some of the neocons would also be convinced.
There would be some small opposition for Akin-esque and Broun-like politicians, but not too much.
(Assuming the average American thinks spaceflight is cool.)

Re: loss of focus (2)

Hadlock (143607) | about 2 years ago | (#41799503)

Wind back the clock about two decades. Congress killed the highly successful NERVA engine in the early/mid 70's because it was way too successful and had they let the project finish we would have been going to mars in another ten years, which was way too expensive at the time after the Apollo program.

Re: loss of focus (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#41871483)

I have wondered about that in light of what the neo-cons have done to NASA. Do you have any links of that? I have always thougth that it was because of the anti-nuke attitude that so enviros have pushed.

Re: loss of focus (2, Informative)

Tim the Gecko (745081) | about 2 years ago | (#41799179)

Yes, curiosity was cool, but it wasn't new. It wasn't groundbreaking research and technology.

Unlike Beagle 2? (I'm British so maybe I'm allowed to joke about this!)

If you are not inspired by spacecraft currently exploring Mercury [wikipedia.org] , Mars [wikipedia.org] , and Saturn [wikipedia.org] , and spacecraft on the way to Pluto [wikipedia.org] , Ceres [wikipedia.org] and Jupiter [wikipedia.org] , then you may be an expensive person to please.

Re: loss of focus (1)

menno_h (2670089) | about 2 years ago | (#41799407)

Yes, curiosity was cool, but it wasn't new. It wasn't groundbreaking research and technology.

Unlike Beagle 2? (I'm British so maybe I'm allowed to joke about this!)

If you are not inspired by spacecraft currently exploring Mercury [wikipedia.org] , Mars [wikipedia.org] , and Saturn [wikipedia.org] , and spacecraft on the way to Pluto [wikipedia.org] , Ceres [wikipedia.org] and Jupiter [wikipedia.org] , then you may be an expensive person to please.

I agree that NASA has some cool stuff going, but I'm talking about sending people up there. If we don't do any of that very soon, NASA will stop sending anyone past LEO.

Re: loss of focus (2)

harperska (1376103) | about 2 years ago | (#41799865)

It's pure cost benefit analysis. Sending people out to do planetary science costs a lot more than sending robots out to do science. If science is the goal, then for every manned science mission to a single destination, they could send ten robotic missions to multiple destinations. A manned mission has to carry all the stuff to keep people alive as well as carrying all the science stuff, and the more you carry, the more it costs.

Re: loss of focus (2)

thrich81 (1357561) | about 2 years ago | (#41800737)

It is unfair to compare NASA of the '60s to the agency since then. NASA in the '60s had practically a blank check for a few years. Mercury, Gemini, Apollo were part of the Cold War and got military style commitments from the populace and the government. Even with that, Apollo was a flukey and unlikely thing -- before he died Kennedy had gotten cold feet about the dollar cost of his moon goal and was considering asking the Russians to "join together" in going to the moon. Kennedy's assassination made Apollo politically untouchable for just long enough to finish the project. Notice that NASA did not set the moon goal -- it was set by Kennedy and that was only because he needed a goal ambitious enough that the US had a good chance to overtake the Russians' space lead and beat them to it. And most Americans at the time were more concerned with "beating the Russians" than the "noble goals" of space exploration. Give NASA a '60's style goal, budget, and national priority and we will be on Mars in 10-15 years, but I don't see the confluence of events which created Apollo in the '60s ever happening again.

Re: loss of focus (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800765)

"we could have people on Mars by now. The reason we don't is because the NASA has become unfocused."

OK two issue in that statement.
Issue one. "we could have people on Mars right now." Well maybe, if you can figure out how to provides sufficient air, water and food for them over that period of time with the mass limits of current boosters and rockets. Oh and if you can figure out a sufficient shielding to protect them from the radiation levels they will encounter for a close to two year round trip journey. Not a trivial task. The bigger question however. is Why we want to send them in the first place? Mars is a bleakly inhospitable place with no mission for people to do that our robots can't do for far less hassle and money. Robot crashes who cares! Build another. People crash, three year investigation and hand wringing symposium while everyone second guesses everyone else. And for what? So we can get cool television pictures? So we can claim "we went there!" For the glory of the good old USA or Humanity or whatever? Sorry mate but we've done this one before. We went to the moon, everyone ohhhed and awwed and then we did nothing next. No long term colony, no scientific outpost, no radio telescope on the dark side to take advantage of the lunar radio shadow, no H3 mining, no .. Well you get the picture. No more stunt missions OK? If you can elucidate a solid scientific or Technical mission plan that is worth the massive cost that wouldn't be accomplished better by the dozen robotic rovers we can launch for the same price, then I'm ready to listen, until then No Sale. For what that hypothetical mission would cost We can probably build a full scale bio fuels plant, Build several miles of high speed rail transport, repair a couple of bridges, fund a new school or two (or repair some old ones) We do not have infinite money. Be happy we're sending robots.
Which brings me to issues two. "The reason we don't is because the NASA has become unfocused" Wrong. The reason we don't is because NASA is a governmental agency tasked with exploring space as directed by and funded by our political leadership. NASA doesn't call the tune, the people paying the piper do. And for better or worse our elected leaders actually have far more important problems then starting a huge new space program with no clear goals then "Boy wouldn't that be cool!'. And they have only limited resources to satisfy those goals with. Fighting crime and terrorists, trying to stabilize the economy, attempting to clean up our air, water, and land, making medicines safer and cheaper. repairing ailing infrastructure and most importantly handing out enough gelt that they get reelected. Big splashy space projects don't interest the American voters and taxpayers therefor they don't interest our politicians. To be honest I can't even argue they're wrong. We do have bigger fish to fry. There are more immediate and impacting problems and no matter how much I love space or depend on it for sustenance (and understand this is a cutting my own throat argument because I work under contract for NASA and am putting myself out of a job if the powers that be ever listen to me) I can't even justify to you our current manned flight program, let alone an expansion of it. I simply can't give you any good reason to send people into space at all. Not for exploration and discovery anyway. Now if we're talking about exploiting space resources and actively claiming territories and land grabbing and stealing the high ground and commercializing it and losing the stupid "for the good of all mankind" garbage, well now that's different.
And that's how I see it

Re: loss of focus (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 2 years ago | (#41801957)

Sorry to burst your bubble, but you're repeating the tired old fantasies. NASA has never really been in the business of building anything. The contractors did the building, and much of the design as well. NASA was really about project management and engineering, mission control, and, um, science. Go and read about who designed and built various pieces of Gemini, Apollo, etc.

If Elon Musk can pull thi off... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41798327)

... then Tesla should eventually be successful too.

FUCK GMT! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41798481)

subject says it all

payload? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41798491)

Ice cream up, feces down?
Hope the contents are well braced for splash down.

Re:payload? (2)

WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#41798553)

Actually, blood, urine and feces down. And these are IMPORTANT. VERY IMPORTANT. They will help with the 1yr mission that is coming up.

It landed already. (4, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#41798543)

Splash down already occurred.

Re:It landed already. (1, Offtopic)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 2 years ago | (#41798785)

yes but the speed of light is different on Slashdot, we are just getting the news that the Falcon launch is a success.

18 day mission? (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 2 years ago | (#41798735)

I suppose getting to orbit and docking and stuff took some time, so the Dragon was attached to the space station for about 14 - 15 days?

What was it doing up there for 2 weeks? O_o Sightseeing?

Even with union labor it should take no more than a day to unload a thousand pounds of cargo. Russians don't even have a union actually... so if you make the cosmonauts do the work, they could probably get it done in a couple of hours.

Ok joking aside, this is a fantastic achievement for SpaceX, kudos -- their first paying gig! Yeah cue the naysayers and their "NASA did similar shit in the mid 60's with Gemini, blah blah". Well the fantastic achievement is not getting to orbit with cargo, it's how cheaply it can be done now. SpaceX is pioneering a whole new paradigm in the space industry, designing a launch system from the ground up with a laser focus on getting it done simply and CHEAPLY [airspacemag.com] .

Back to the 18-day mission. Right now the launches are still few and far between, and there's no hurry, so I say why not leave it docked with the ISS for a couple months? It can serve as a backup lifeboat in the event of a disaster on the ISS. I know it's not man-rated yet but if the choice is between breathing vacuum and using the Dragon, I'd jump into the Dragon in a heartbeat.

Re:18 day mission? (2)

Macrat (638047) | about 2 years ago | (#41798993)

Right now the launches are still few and far between, and there's no hurry, so I say why not leave it docked with the ISS for a couple months? It can serve as a backup lifeboat in the event of a disaster on the ISS. I know it's not man-rated yet but if the choice is between breathing vacuum and using the Dragon, I'd jump into the Dragon in a heartbeat.

The lack of seats or restraints would affect the surviveablity of splashdown.

Re:18 day mission? (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#41799667)

The lack of seats or restraints would affect the surviveablity of splashdown.

True, but it wouldn't necessarily preclude the survivability of a splashdown.

Re:18 day mission? (2)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#41801101)

The lack of seats or restraints would affect the surviveablity of splashdown.

Why would a simple hammock not work to help increase survivability? I don't think it would necessarily be that hard, as a scuba tank + hammock may be all you would really need. The capsule already needed to be "man-rated" simply to dock to the ISS in the first place and certainly would contain air pressure.

I'd certainly want to try and find as many "soft" items to survive re-entry in even the current Dragon capsule as opposed to trying to re-enter the way that the Columbia astronauts attempted re-entry.

Re:18 day mission? (2)

Hadlock (143607) | about 2 years ago | (#41799535)

Astronauts regularly claim unused cargo containers as private bedrooms. Apparently they're the quietest parts of the station by a wide margin (cooling the ISS is a noisy job, apparently) and thus make sleeping a lot easier.
 
The Soyuz is a better option as a lifeboat (That's what it's designed to do) but you'll note today the undocking was completely automated. Eventually these will carry humans and possibly will carry the last humans off the space station when they deorbit the ISS in 10-20 years.
 
Finally, there's a Soyuz craft that will be docking there at the end of the month, so they need to clear the spot in time to avoid a delay in Russia's launch schedule.

Re:18 day mission? (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#41799881)

... but you'll note today the undocking was completely automated. Eventually these will carry humans and possibly will carry the last humans off the space station when they deorbit the ISS in 10-20 years.

I may be wrong, but I think the cargo Dragon's hatch needs to be closed and locked from the outside. Besides, SpaceX's feed says

At 6:29AM PT, astronauts released Dragon, which is now on its way home to Earth. Over the next few hours, Dragon will complete a series of engine burns that place the spacecraft on a final trajectory to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere. The final deorbit burn is expected to occur at approx. 11:28AM PT, with splashdown targeted for 12:20PM PT.

The Fancy Article says:

Earlier Sunday, an astronaut aboard the floating laboratory detached and released the capsule using a robotic arm, kicking off its return to Earth.

So they still had people on board the ISS operating the Canadarm. Where did you get the impression that the undocking was automated?

Re:18 day mission? (1)

Hadlock (143607) | about 2 years ago | (#41800319)

[blockquote]So they still had people on board the ISS operating the Canadarm. Where did you get the impression that the undocking was automated?[/blockquote]My source comes from the SpaceX employee who was narrating the live video feed of the automated undocking. They may have pushed the actual button for the final detach, but the process of moving the five ton spacecraft to it's final release location was automated. Astronauts were on hand to make sure nothing went awry.

A three hour tour (1)

Narrowband (2602733) | about 2 years ago | (#41799963)

Leaving it for a while as a lifeboat might be an idea for the future, but it might not be a bad idea either to go ahead and let it return its first time out, as a test.

Plus, it's not like it's returning empty. I gather they're using it to ship some stuff back, and I expect they'd rather go ahead and get it landed.

Slashdot: edited by lolcats (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41798779)

An Anonymous Coward send word

I are very happy to hear it.

Satellite? (2)

Captain_Chaos (103843) | about 2 years ago | (#41802325)

What happened to the satellite it was supposed to bring into orbit, but couldn't because one of the engines failed during lift off? Did they manage to get that in its proper orbit?

Re:Satellite? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41802641)

No: Since boosting it would cross the orbit of the ISS, there were some rather though rules on going ahead with the boost. The second stage had only enough fuel to guarantee with a probability of 95% that it would succeed, which was not enough according to the ISS rules. So the first stage did have enough fuel, it just didn't have enough to guarantee success in some failure modes. Normally they would have boosted the sat as high as they could, which would likely have been enough for orbcomm, but one of the problems with catching a ride with a ISS bound rocket is that everything has to be perfect, not "good enough".

Re:Satellite? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41807577)

It had an uncontrolled deorbit a few days ago - http://spacenews.com/satellite_telecom/121011-orbcomm-craft-falls-out-orbit.html

Dragon in lot of hurricane Sandy pictures (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 2 years ago | (#41804467)

The stock TV news image of Sandy is from the ISS with the Dragon sticking off to one side.

Is commercial really cheaper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41807779)

I want to know if the private sector is really better and cheaper at space travel than NASA. That certainly hasn't been shown to be the case in other sectors. Is this push to privatize space travel based on facts, or religion that "government doesn't do anything as well as the private sector"? Has any reliable study been done?

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