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Sarah Brightman's ISS Trip In Peril

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the no-space-for-you dept.

ISS 105

RocketAcademy writes "Actress/singer Sarah Brightman's trip to the International Space Station may not happen in 2015 as scheduled. Space Adventures works with the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) to fly private citizens like Brightman on Soyuz taxi flights. Those taxi missions normally last eight days, but NASA and Roscosmos are considering a plan to extend the 2015 taxi flight to one month, so it can carry a scientist to perform some additional research aboard ISS. If that happens, Brightman will lose her seat. This situation points to the need for more flexible transportation options and new orbital facilities which are not subject to the same operational restrictions as ISS. SpaceX, Boeing, and Sierra Nevada are working on the transportation problem, while Bigelow Aerospace expects to begin launching its Space Station Alpha in 2015. So, the era of citizen astronauts visiting ISS may be drawing to a close."

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105 comments

Darn (0)

SoulNibbler (2194576) | about a year ago | (#43202047)

Darn,
no more people coming back and thinking science is sexy.

Re:Darn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43206521)

please, could you tell me why would you come here if you want to talk about science?

this site is a lively forum for the discussion of consumer electronics - especially the kind of equipment that is not really about tinkering and 'nerdy stuff' such as learning - e.g. Apple computers and other media jukeboxes.

With good reason (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43202049)

ISS is a research platform.
Flying privately should only be done at great expense as it is since time and space is limited there.

And in other news, thinking of starting Space Flight Auction house.
Coming soon to a theatre near you!

Re:With good reason (0)

delt0r (999393) | about a year ago | (#43202121)

What research?

Re:With good reason (2)

thegarbz (1787294) | about a year ago | (#43202175)

Really? What kind of a question is that?

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html [nasa.gov]

Re:With good reason (0)

delt0r (999393) | about a year ago | (#43202253)

I see a lot of brochure science and very little research. For the billions that its cost I would expect at least a few peer reviewed papers. Well really for that kind of money i would expect something either equivalent to the Higgs or a lot more than a few papers.

After all the Higgs discovery was delayed for 2 decades for that orbital white elephant. And it cost a lot more and is still a money suck.

Re:With good reason (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43202769)

I see a lot of brochure science and very little research. For the billions that its cost I would expect at least a few peer reviewed papers. Well really for that kind of money i would expect something either equivalent to the Higgs or a lot more than a few papers.

Some are linked to here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_research_on_the_International_Space_Station#References

After all the Higgs discovery was delayed for 2 decades for that orbital white elephant. And it cost a lot more and is still a money suck.

The ISS and LHC are funded from entirely separate budgets, and the LHC wouldn't have been built significantly faster even if more money had been thrown at it. It takes time to design and build a collider of the required size. Even if funding hadn't been withdrawn from the Tetravon it would've been detected by the LHC at about the same time. Certainly there wasn't a delay of 2 decades.

Re:With good reason (2)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#43204393)

Certainly there wasn't a delay of 2 decades.

I think he's referring to the Superconducting Super Collider [wikipedia.org]. It would have cost $12 billion, which was the same as the estimate for the US portion of the ISS at the time. The two projects were commonly discussed at the same time. It's probably a bit of an exaggeration to say it delayed Higgs by 20 years - maybe it was only 15. But it was designed to do around 2.5x the energy of the LHC, so we won't know what other science was delayed until we build a 40 TeV collider someday.

Re:With good reason (2)

Teancum (67324) | about a year ago | (#43202919)

In spite of links like the one above that seems to treat the International Space Station as a research platform, its real purpose was hardly to conduct research in weightlessness.

Keep in mind that the actual purpose of the structure is to perform two important tasks:

  1. 1) To keep rocket engineers gainfully employed on a major engineering project.... especially engineers from the former Soviet Union so they don't sell their services to countries like North Korea and Iran.
  2. 2) To act as a "vehicle" to transfer knowledge gained by Russia over the past several decades of doing elaborate construction projects in space (especially from Mir) and thus have American astronauts understand the difficulties and problems with large scale construction projects in space.

As to if that was worth the $100 billion spent on the International Space Station, that could certainly be debated. Note that has nothing at all to do with actual scientific research.

If anything, some really odd modules were cut from the design of the ISS that could have made it a viable research platform, but haven't flown (including a couple that were built and then mothballed because it couldn't be put on the manifest of the Space Shuttle). Since it is in orbit, I think it is a crying shame to let it go to waste and especially to threaten that it be dismantled and splashed into the Pacific Ocean.

I do agree with you though that for all of the money even to maintain the ISS there should be not just a bunch of peer reviewed papers, but a regular quality journal that would be eagerly reviewed from all of the research that is happening there. Definitely there should be roughly monthly papers based on some of the research that is happening there. Then again, there should also be more people up there doing research rather than the current skeleton crew that barely keeps up with the maintenance of the ISS (getting back to some of the modules that were cut that would have housed those researchers).

It doesn't help that America lacks a vehicle to even get to the ISS, with the possible exception of the Dragon capsule by SpaceX. Even that could only be used in a real emergency at the moment.

Re:With good reason (0)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year ago | (#43203645)

You seem to have some very weird ideas. Even worse you seem to believe in them. You definitely should look for a psychiatrist.

Re:With good reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43204905)

Your well-cited rebuttal is extremely convincing.

Re:With good reason (1)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year ago | (#43205211)

I don't need to rebut claims that have nothing to sustain them. I can just call them bullshit and wait for the person who claimed them to try and fail to prove his absurdities.

Re:With good reason (1)

kaatochacha (651922) | about a year ago | (#43205049)

Your comment makes no sense to me, other than perhaps as trolling. I see nothing wrong with the Parent's statement, and sometimes maintaining knowledge is expensive, but far less expensive than relearning it.

Re:With good reason (1)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year ago | (#43205191)

His comment is a conspiracy theorist bullshit, which absolute no factual evidence to support it. It is just fantasies from a troubled mind.

Re:With good reason (1)

Teancum (67324) | about a year ago | (#43206795)

Since you seem to have a strong command of what went into the building of the International Space Station and its history, perhaps you could come up with something that is a proper rebuttal rather than a bald personal attack?

I suppose it was just a fantasy that there ever was a Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States of America? Something made up out of whole cloth and the work of conspiracy theory nuts?

Re:With good reason (1)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year ago | (#43206937)

The Cold War was very true, but the fantasy resides in associating it with the ISS. That is the conspiracy theorist bullshit.

And I don't need to rebut claims that have nothing to sustain them. It would be a waste of my time. I can just call them bullshit and wait for the person who claimed them (in this case you) to try and fail to prove his absurdities.

Good luck!

Re:With good reason (1)

Teancum (67324) | about a year ago | (#43207099)

I should point out that the point of the Shuttle-Mir spaceflights prior to the construction of the ISS was a part of this technology transfer I was talking about. I suppose that was a fantasy too that never took place, just like the Apollo flights were just a hoax perpetrated in some Burbank studio?

My point was that the ISS was not really constructed to be primarily a research laboratory, which was ultimately a sort of afterthought. Ditto for much of the manned spaceflight program as a whole I might add, as much of it had to do with national pride and engineering rather than scientific research. Much of the early literature during the Clinton Administration about why the ISS was being built was seen as a subsidy of the Russian space program. So much so that members of congress in congressional testimony in the 1990's were complaining about more or less footing the entire bill for building the ISS in the first place. In those very same hearings there was some very deep concern about what would happen if the ISS program wasn't going on with Russian engineers, and more than a few members of congress and people testifying in committee suggested that they would indeed be building missiles for North Korea, Iran, and/or "terrorist organizations".

I know it isn't worth your time to go back into the congressional record of that time period, which is too bad as you might learn a thing or two about how reality works. It isn't really a conspiracy either, as it was done out in the open and was a part of the actual purpose and mission of the ISS. The scientific research lab aspect of the ISS was something for it to be doing once it was built and to give it a purpose instead of splashing the station shortly after it was built.

I should note that since completion of the ISS that there have been several very serious proposals to have the ISS decommissioned precisely because its original goals and purpose has been met. Arguably much of the research that is being done on the ISS could be done in other ways at a much cheaper cost. If it was so valuable as a research platform, why would decommissioning even be seriously considered?

Re:With good reason (1)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year ago | (#43207651)

Your point is that you think the ISS was not really constructed to be primarily a research laboratory, which is not substantiated by anything you were capable of providing until now.

The fact that there was cooperation between US, Russia (and many other countries) after the cold war was over does not imply in any way that there was a significant technology transfer or that the ISS was made to this end (which would be a very expensive and stupid way of transferring technology, by the way).

And please, the congressional records do not say anything of the sorts, well except for the words the little men only you can see keep speaking to you .

Last but not least, people wanting to cut funds from space projects is something very common and the ISS is no different than many other projects, valuable or not. People and especially governments seldom think in long term and space projects are long term investments without any assurances of success.

You can believe in whatever absurdities you see fit, but I ask you to refrain from bothering us with your ridiculous and nonsensical theories.

Re:With good reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43202991)

Although geeks purport to be all about critical thinking and science, that all goes away when you talk about space. It's an atheist religion, and you can get into trouble for saying that space is a dead end, an empty deadly vacuum, or for saying that technology came before we went into space.

Here is what you need to say to be accepted: space is the species' destiny, it's full of easily accessible riches and we only have computers/jets/technology/whatever because of NASA. Oh, and the ISS is generating tons of vitally important and cutting-edge science.

Re:With good reason (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43202203)

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer is the biggest experiment up there, but you could reasonably claim that it doesn't need a human presence. The only reason it was bolted to the ISS was that the station had enough solar panels to power it and a convenient comms link already in place. The spectrometer is an energy and bandwidth hog.

There are a LOT of experiments done of the type "pack some of this stuff in a box and see how it reacts to being in freefall". Sometimes the stuff in the box needs prodding, or activating, or feeding. It's things like biological models for development and growth in low gravity, or manufacturing techniques, or fluid handling, and so on.

The ISS is serving as a test rig to prove that our spaceships don't have to be leaky deathtraps, while also trying to figure out ways that life support can be improved even further (e.g. growing crops in space, fully closed recycling loops, and so on).

It has a big impact in making space travel easier. SpaceX would not be able to dream of Mars if the only experience they could draw on for living in space was flying scrapheaps like Skylab or Mir. You'd have to be insane to want to go to Mars onboard something like Mir.

Re:With good reason (1)

tibit (1762298) | about a year ago | (#43202555)

Mir wasn't all that different from ISS in terms of underlying principles. It was to ISS like a cheap motel is to a mid-tier chain hotel. Sure ISS is roomier and less smelly, but it's no interplanetary spaceship. It won't go to Mars just as Mir wouldn't.

Re:With good reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43202807)

Mir had problems that go a long way beyond merely smelling bad. Its coolant systems leaked into the life support areas, with no way to filter out the coolant. It had fungal growth so bad that sections of it had to be sealed off. It had onboard fires and losses of pressure.

Any ship built to fly to other planets could not afford to have these kinds of problems. There wouldn't be any rescue or escape. The ISS is immobile, but it has proved that long term life support can work.

Re:With good reason (3, Interesting)

tibit (1762298) | about a year ago | (#43203463)

Sure, but that's all engineering, not issues inherent in a particular class of technology. Fungus, for example, needs both moisture and food to grow, there's no magic there. Either they had some organic surfaces that were edible by fungus, or there were deposits of human-origin dust (skin, hair, snot) over condensation. Those same problems are faced in regular buildings down on Earth. Im no Mir apologist, sure it was less pleasant AFAIK than even Skylab, but let's not pretend that Mir's problems were somehow special.

Re:With good reason (1)

Teancum (67324) | about a year ago | (#43202995)

Some of the modules on the Russian side of the ISS were even intended to be either placed on Mir or on a scheduled "Mir II" spacecraft that was going to be built before the idea of the ISS was put forward in a serious proposal. Indeed Russia is still thinking of taking their modules away from the ISS and using them as the core of a new space station.... especially if the U.S. government wants to splash the American modules.

Essentially, the ISS really is just an upscaled Mir, which is in turn based on technology developed under the Almaz program that the Soviet Union ran. It does include some knowledge gained from Skylab as well, but the Soviet Union had many iterations of space stations while America had just the Skylab (and possibly the Spacelab modules on the SpaceShuttle) previously.

uh, no (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year ago | (#43203915)

There is a lot more on the ISS than what was on MIR. Both ideas from USA and Russia went into it. For example, much of the solid communication comes from USA. And then you have the bathroom which was done cheaply by the Russians. And Life support via Russians was cheap and MOSTLY reliable, but it has had plenty of issues. OTOH, the new water recycling and life support systems from USA appears to be doing a good job. There is a great deal on the ISS that comes from western tech.

Re:With good reason (2)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about a year ago | (#43202131)

I wonder what the future of ISS will be, when Bigelow and others are making space less expensive and more accessible. I haven't heard of too many "earth shattering" breakthroughs from the ISS program, and lately all the excitement has been in the private sector. (Sarah Brightman doesn't have anything to worry about, she'll just have to wait a couple more years and then get a much cheaper ride.) On the one hand, cheaper access to space will make it cheaper to maintain the ISS, but OTOH they may soon be outshone by private sector efforts.

I'm beginning to see the ISS in a similar light to the Shuttle... more time wasted in LEO, when we should be going places.

Re:With good reason (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year ago | (#43202223)

I haven't heard of too many "earth shattering" breakthroughs from the ISS program, and lately all the excitement has been in the private sector.

So it's no different from any other government research?

I've been out of the research scene for a few too many years, but as I understand it, most of the research done about the ISS is fairly mundane stuff that can't be done on Earth - growing crystals in low gravity, testing materials' resistance to radiation, and the like. There's nothing inherently earth-shattering about knowing that this particular material survived slightly better than that particular material. When the discoveries from the ISS do finally make their way back to earth, they're simply "new technology" rather than "new technology developed in space".

Those new technologies, with their slightly-better lifespans and their slightly-lighter weight, will be part of the spacecraft that will actually let us go places. Thus far, we've done a fairly impressive job of not killing ourselves when venturing forth into the hostile environment outside our home, but we've seen how harsh the environment is. We know that we'll need better technology to make a human trip to Mars (or elsewhere) safely, or even to make unmanned trips to other planets cheaper and more reliable. Now's a good time to slow down, improve our abilities, then run off to extraterrestrial destinations again.

The race is exciting, but we still need a pit crew.

Re:With good reason (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about a year ago | (#43202697)

So it's no different from any other government research?

Hm... yes and no. As /. readers, we get a steady trickle of "gee-whiz" news from various kinds of research, much of it government funded. But when was the last time you saw a story even on this site about a new discovery from ISS? Judging by the topic listing [slashdot.org] it's been quite a while.

I get your point that research can be useful and worthwhile even if it doesn't make headlines. I just think they could be doing more. (And part of the reason might be that the ISS costs so much just to keep flying that they don't have enough money left to take on more ambitious projects.) For example, after all these years we still don't have any experiments to see whether centrifugal "simulated gravity" would be helpful in mitigating the health effects of long-duration flights. Not even with mice! That would seem like a no-brainer.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad we have the ISS. I just wish we were doing more with it.

Re:With good reason (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year ago | (#43203141)

But when was the last time you saw a story even on this site about a new discovery from ISS?

It's been about as long as it's been since I've seen Slashdot have decent editing. Slashdot's a digest site, though, so it only reports what people submit, so it only reflects what's famous now.

For example, after all these years we still don't have any experiments to see whether centrifugal "simulated gravity" would be helpful in mitigating the health effects of long-duration flights. Not even with mice! That would seem like a no-brainer.

Close. Running an experiment like that would indeed require several people to have no brains. Sure, we can put people (or mice) in a centrifuge and spin them, but that doesn't really teach us much that's useful. How much force is actually needed to mitigate what effects? How much of the energy budget should be allotted to spinning, rather than propulsion? Does the spinning need to be constant (mandating a ring-shaped spaceship), or is a spinning sleep chamber sufficient? How does diet affect the effects?

Hollywood's depiction of science as a series of groundbreaking epiphanies doesn't actually work. Sure, once in a while we stumble on amazing things, but more often it's just a long slow process of observations. That's what they're doing now [nasa.gov] on the ISS. There's a lot of experiments regarding cellular growth and function, and several for figuring out exactly how to counter those adverse health effects. The experiments aren't as headline-inducing as sticking mice in a centrifuge, but they're more helpful in the long run.

Re:With good reason (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about a year ago | (#43204121)

Close. Running an experiment like that would indeed require several people to have no brains.

Now you're just being silly. You list all the unknowns and cite this as a reason NOT to do the experiment. Isn't that what basic research is supposed to be about in the first place? If they'd spent the last few years on ISS finding answers to those questions, I would have nothing to whine about. Instead, this whole line of research has hardly been touched by NASA. That seems like a glaring omission to me, especially when microgravity health effects are so crucial to the success of long-duration flights.

The notion of centrifugal "simulated gravity" has been around for a long time, but NASA has almost completely ignored it. Why? Seems like a much more simple and "elegant" solution to the problem than tinkering with cellular processes. (Besides, who ever said that mouse experiments would induce headlines?)

In any case, the question remains... whither ISS? Within a few years there will be cheaper options available. ISS is the single most expensive object ever created by humans. Are we really getting our money's worth?

Re:With good reason (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year ago | (#43204521)

You list all the unknowns and cite this as a reason NOT to do the experiment. Isn't that what basic research is supposed to be about in the first place?

No, it's not. Basic research is supposed to be about finding knowledge, not doing cool things. What I list are some of the variables in the trial (because it can't really be called an "experiment") that make it a bad candidate for spending the ISS's expensive time. A perfect experiment has only a single variable, so a fact can be conclusively determined. If a single variable cannot be isolated (as is often the case), statistical methods must be used to separate the effects of each variable, but the accuracy gets worse with each additional variable.

The notion of centrifugal "simulated gravity" has been around for a long time, but NASA has almost completely ignored it. Why? Seems like a much more simple and "elegant" solution to the problem than tinkering with cellular processes.

Those cellular processes are the actual cause of the health problems that prohibit long-term trips. If we understand them better, we will understand what to do to prevent them. For instance, by finding out that a particular protein only folds correctly with at least 1 m/s^2 acceleration, we'd know that to survive in space long-term, we need to have that much force, so any centrifuge must spin fast enough to produce that much acceleration for the astronauts to remain healthy.

That would only resolve one variable, though... we also need to better understand how circadian cycles and diet affect those cellular processes, to name a few. There are so many variables that even a successful test in a centrifuge wouldn't mean much. It would give us one particular system that worked once, but we wouldn't know why it works. A failed test with a centrifuge would be equally useless. We'd know one particular system that didn't work, but we wouldn't know what part failed. Maybe the centrifuge was spinning fast enough, but the lighting used caused psychosomatic effects.

What we're working on now is figuring out enough to make centrifuge tests worthwhile. Give it time.

Re:With good reason (1)

hierophanta (1345511) | about a year ago | (#43203569)

I haven't heard of too many "earth shattering" breakthroughs ...

Ironic pun is ironic. I think the research being done on the ISS is to further our abilities in space vs. on earth. For example measuring half life's / radiation to see if there is a difference when in space might yield a different decision on what type of fuel is usable for spaceships.

The race is exciting, but we still need a pit crew.

Yes, but the pit crew needs trained for the space race :( my pun isnt as good as yours, tho)

Re:With good reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205979)

Bigelow? You mean the company that laid off half its workforce and has nothing to show? And please, tell me of these "places" we should be going? Space is vastly larger than you think, and our technology and energy sources are far too small to matter. Space is empty, it's not a "place". The few places we have in our Solar System are wildly uninhabitable, hostile radiation-blasted rocks, either far too cold, too hot or with too little or too much.

You seem to have a Star Trek/ European explorer mythology in mind. Time to grow up, look at the numbers and come to the conclusion that space is a dead end. It will never be the paradise depicted in NASA propaganda or in sci-fi daydreams.

So sorry. And there's no Santa Claus either.

Re:With good reason (2, Funny)

tgd (2822) | about a year ago | (#43202155)

ISS is a research platform.
Flying privately should only be done at great expense as it is since time and space is limited there.

And in other news, thinking of starting Space Flight Auction house.
Coming soon to a theatre near you!

No, the ISS is, was, and was always intended to be a corporate welfare platform to keep defense contractors in business during the waning period of the cold war.

As the old joke went, "What is the purpose of the space shuttle? To build the space station! What is the purpose of the space station? To give the space shuttle somewhere to go!"

The real problem with space tourism going to the ISS is that the Russian space agency is getting the money, not the US taxpayers.

Re:With good reason (4, Informative)

thegarbz (1787294) | about a year ago | (#43202187)

No, the ISS is, was, and was always intended to be a corporate welfare platform to keep defense contractors in business during the waning period of the cold war.

Yes. Except for all the actual research that goes on. It's actually been quite a while since I've seen a webpage quite as long as the list of experiments they've carried out: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/experiments_by_expedition.html#1 [nasa.gov]

Re:With good reason (4, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43202391)

It's actually been quite a while since I've seen a webpage quite as long as the list of experiments they've carried out

That's because NASA isn't breaking articles up into pages to increase impressions.

Re:With good reason (1)

blind biker (1066130) | about a year ago | (#43204645)

It's actually been quite a while since I've seen a webpage quite as long as the list of experiments they've carried out

That's because NASA isn't breaking articles up into pages to increase impressions.

A large amount of frappuccino left my body through my nostrils.

Re:With good reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205293)

Except for all the actual research that goes on

Actual research results in published [lbl.gov] papers [google.com] with [lbl.gov] high impact factors. NASA allocates about 1.7 billion per year to ISS, while Lawrence Berkeley National Lab uses 800 million for it's entire budget. If you want to make the claim that ISS research is cost-effective, I'd like to see your numbers.

Old Joke?! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43202219)

As the old joke went, "What is the purpose of the space shuttle? To build the space station! What is the purpose of the space station? To give the space shuttle somewhere to go!"

I was at this NASA museum in the Daytona,FL area and there was this old guy (76-80ish) who had a shit load of pictures of him from the Apollo days with astronauts.

He said the above with all seriousness. And to him, the Space program made this country great. He went on about the need for a Mars mission and continued exploration. BUT the space station was necessary for that mission - and even a Moon base.

Every time a little kid came in, his eyes would light up and he'd hand out toys and do his damnedest to get them interested in space and rockets. And he was really in favor of Space-X and those guys!

He was a curmudgeon - not just a cranky old guy with a two bit opinion - but an old guy with an educated-been there-knows WTF he's talking about-get on my lawn and here this - attitude!

If we had more old guys like that, we'd have been to Mars, probably have a booming high tech economy, no wars, and be on our way to a World like in Star Trek.

Re:With good reason (0)

sosume (680416) | about a year ago | (#43202157)

The ISS is paid for by tax payers worldwide. Taxying rich individuals would therefore be akin to them calling a police car to get a ride downtown.

Re:With good reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43202775)

Take your meds before you post, please.

Re:With good reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43202453)

We need to pay for "other orbiting space platforms" because we can't have tourists bothered by those damn scientists and military guys.

And now a word from Reality (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#43202831)

You boys know what makes this bird go up? FUNDING makes this bird go up. No bucks, no Buck Rogers.

Re:And now a word from Reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205361)

You boys know what makes this bird go up? X-20 Dynasoar FUNDING makes this bird go up.

To quote Wash: Are we caring? (0)

Gothmolly (148874) | about a year ago | (#43202063)

Aren't we supposed to be focused on Virgin and Elon Musk these days? Isn't space tourism and ISS so last year? Tell me what to think is cool, I can't keep it straight anymore!

Re:To quote Wash: Are we caring? (1)

muon-catalyzed (2483394) | about a year ago | (#43202177)

The interesting part is that the soprano outbid NASA, so her overprivileged ass will be rocketed into space instead of some NASA instrument or satellite.

subject (5, Insightful)

Legion303 (97901) | about a year ago | (#43202133)

A singer/tourist might have to give up a spot to someone who will do science. What's the downside, again?

Re:subject (1)

feedayeen (1322473) | about a year ago | (#43202169)

But, but... Sarah Brightman's vacation plan's in 2015 are in peril!

Dear samzenpus,

You are about to receive a butt load of hate from us.

Your's truly,
The Internet

Re:subject (5, Funny)

thegarbz (1787294) | about a year ago | (#43202197)

Well in space we wouldn't be able to hear her sing.

Actually on second thoughts, can we launch the entire pop music industry up there?

Re:subject (1)

blind biker (1066130) | about a year ago | (#43204621)

Sarah Brightman is primarily a classical music singer. Though her large fortune and fame come from her pop-ification of the more famous classical pieces.

Re:subject (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43206627)

But she's Fallen In Love With a Starship Trooper....

Re:subject (1)

owlnation (858981) | about a year ago | (#43202885)

A singer/tourist might have to give up a spot to someone who will do science. What's the downside, again?

Sending Sarah Brightman into space would benefit mankind. Bringing her back from space... not so much...

Re:subject (1)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | about a year ago | (#43203073)

A singer/tourist might have to give up a spot to someone who will do science. What's the downside, again?

Sending up tourists isn't really a bad thing for science. They pay money to go, which gets used to fund a small portion of the science. It's a net gain.

I don't find any problem with her giving up the spot for a researcher for this trip because they need it, but I also don't see any issue with the fact that the Russians send up tourists to the ISS. Sounds like a good idea to me, and back when we had the shuttle, my guess is the only reason NASA didn't do it was the fear of expensive lawsuits if someone got hurt.

Heh...I meant to say that last part jokingly but it sounds too damn plausible to be funny.

Re:subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43204481)

It's even less bad than that:

A singer/tourist might have to postpone her holidays in favour of someone who will do science. What's the downside, again?

I dunno... ask a patent lawyer, they're probably able to tell us how this hurts us.

"This situation points to the need..." (5, Insightful)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a year ago | (#43202213)

Need? Because ISS's most important mission is giving rich people a place to float around in microgravity. That this is even an issue that a celebrity is getting bumped in favor of a scientist is absurd.

Re:"This situation points to the need..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43202859)

Need? Because ISS's most important mission is giving rich people a place to float around in microgravity. That this is even an issue that a celebrity is getting bumped in favor of a scientist is absurd.

If only we could find a way so that the rich could pay enough to fund the creation of additional seats (e.g. building another spaceship). Seriously though, imagine the sort of private fund raising a Sarah Brightman could do to get more people (scientists) into space.

Re:"This situation points to the need..." (1)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | about a year ago | (#43203135)

Need? Because ISS's most important mission is giving rich people a place to float around in microgravity. That this is even an issue that a celebrity is getting bumped in favor of a scientist is absurd.

There's a market to send rich people up to the ISS to float around in microgravity. Doesn't that mean it's extremely important? If you can make money off them, then sending them up is a way to fund some of the science. What's the problem with that?

Re:"This situation points to the need..." (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a year ago | (#43203357)

Need? Because ISS's most important mission is giving rich people a place to float around in microgravity. That this is even an issue that a celebrity is getting bumped in favor of a scientist is absurd.

There's a market to send rich people up to the ISS to float around in microgravity. Doesn't that mean it's extremely important? If you can make money off them, then sending them up is a way to fund some of the science. What's the problem with that?

Because we are sending rich people up there instead of doing science.

Re:"This situation points to the need..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43203899)

Easy. Let's first do science related to sending people up there so this becomes a non-issue, then you can do all the science up there you can dream of...

Re:"This situation points to the need..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43203405)

Why? Let them use their money to build their own space station.

Re:"This situation points to the need..." (1)

Seedy2 (126078) | about a year ago | (#43207331)

Why? Let them use their money to build their own space station.

If you send up enough of them, that's exactly what they will have done.

Re:"This situation points to the need..." (1)

Beorytis (1014777) | about a year ago | (#43203493)

That's exactly what I thought. I think it would be more correct to say: "This situation points to a demand for more flexible transportation options..."

Re:"This situation points to the need..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43207031)

What's even more absurd is that a scientist "needs" to go to about 0.1 Earth radii up to do something that should be automated.

My Opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43202261)

I don't care.

Good (0)

rmdingler (1955220) | about a year ago | (#43202287)

Until we develop the technology and generate the will to access off planet resources, these finite things on earth that are being squandered for the amusement of the few need to be rationed responsibly. The incredibly burdensome task of putting each bit of weight into space should not be sold to the highest bidder, but to the highest science.

True cost... (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year ago | (#43202361)

I understand the cost of flying a tourist there, but shouldn't they also be charged a portion of the cost of actually keeping them there? It cost a lot of money to develop the international space station. It costs a lot of money to maintain the international space station. And it costs a lot of money to operate the international space station. If I fly to Disneyland for a vacation, the flight is just one part of the cost of the trip. Likewise, to the ISS. For these space tourists, shouldn't they be paying for the full cost of their trip, particularly since almost all of it was funded by taxpayers of various countries?

Re:True cost... (4, Interesting)

Teancum (67324) | about a year ago | (#43203199)

That is a fair question, and it should be pointed out that the cost to travel to the ISS has been steadily going up faster than inflation (at least faster than the CPI). I'd say that those space tourists are more than paying for their share of the costs for getting into space.

Keep in mind that the point of these flights is to swap "emergency escape" vehicles in the form of Soyuz capsules. These are the lifeboats of the ISS where the people on the ISS can escape and return to the Earth if something really bad happens.... like a core module getting hit by a meteor. The Soyuz spacecraft have a limited amount of time they can be used in space, and to be safe they are replaced at regular intervals.

Since only two cosmonauts are needed to fly this spacecraft, there is really an "extra" seat in all of these flights.... hence the reason why Russia was willing to sell the flight opportunities to a company like Space Adventures. Previously (in the Soviet Union era) this "extra seat" was often used as a public relations tool where "guest cosmonauts" were offered a ride from mainly countries with good relations with the Soviet Union. In other words, these "tourists" have been going up for several decades now. People flying on the Soyuz are still expected to know how to operate the spacecraft, which is why even the "tourists" still have to spend six months or longer in a training program at Star City before they are allowed to fly.

This is no Disneyland vacation. Spacecraft capable of flying genuine passengers has yet to be built. Well, the Space Shuttle could have done that, but it was so expensive to operate that mere passengers weren't a viable option on that spacecraft either. Perhaps once the SpaceX Dragon is fully crew certified you might see some real tourists with much more limited training in spaceflight operations that are more completely "paying their own freight" to go into space. How many people do you know that in order to fly to Europe on a 747 need to be certified on that airframe as a commercial pilot (with multi-engine and instrument landing endorsements) before making the trip?

There's the element of uncertainty (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43202369)

In 2015, they don't know if they'd be shipping the fat Sarah or the skinny Sarah up there, and they can't calculate the fuel requirements.

The "need"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43202535)

It's a thrill ride for bored rich people. If you need a thrill ride for more normal people, it already exists.

http://www.skyandspacetravel.com/included_sky.html [skyandspacetravel.com]

For my money that's far more interesting and thrilling than strapping myself to a giant firecracker, go straight up with no control, and then float around in free-fall while my body dissolves itself.

This space crap is just a thing for rich people to outcompete each other, oh look, I can afford THIS, what can YOU afford? And do it as publicly as possible.

WhoTF is Sarah Brightman? (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about a year ago | (#43202563)

WhoTF is Sarah Brightman? Seriously - I may not watch E! News, but there are a few celebrities who register some name recognition...just not this one.

Re:WhoTF is Sarah Brightman? (2)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about a year ago | (#43202591)

If only there was some way of using the power of the interweb to look up someone by name and find out more about them. But true, E! News is the most relevant source about who's who.

Re:WhoTF is Sarah Brightman? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43203789)

She starred in the Phantom of the Opera:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Brightman

Sarah who? (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about a year ago | (#43202817)

I had to look this person up to see that she was a singer. Never heard of her before so I'm presuming like many others on here that if I haven't heard of something or someone, they can't be important.

Which begs the next question, so what? Someone who can afford to spend their money on a trip to space can't go. What's the story other than they have the money to go to space?

Now, if the story had been about Stephen Hawking being bumped from a space flight, THAT would have been important.

Re:Sarah who? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43203013)

Now, if the story had been about Stephen Hawking being bumped from a space flight, THAT would have been important.

Why, what could he do in space that he can't do on the ground? Besides, you know, be weightless.

Re:Sarah who? (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about a year ago | (#43203419)

More because he's actively (so to speak) involved in matters regarding space and for him to be as close as anyone can get to space without going to the Moon or Mars would be a highlight of his career.

Who knows, maybe he would pick up on something that no one else has noticed.

Dear god (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43202845)

Oh dear god, save us all!

year-long space test opened seats (1)

peter303 (12292) | about a year ago | (#43203249)

Spare Soyez are kept as lifeboats in case space station become uninhabitable. But these lifeboats must be recycled within seven months due to lifetime of fuels and gases aboard. There are apprixomately three astronauts launched every 3 months for a six month rotation in fit these parameters. The plan to keep two of astronauts up for a whole year opened some short-term trip opportunities the private space touring group was hoping to purchase.

Piracy is to blame! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43203839)

Excuses! The problem is that everyone keeps pirating her music and she can't afford to buy food let alone a ticket to ISS.

This points to the need (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43203983)

for more space transportation options for kajillionaires.

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