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Chris Kraft Talks About The Decline of NASA

Unknown Lamer posted about 8 months ago | from the lockhead-grumman-northrop-death-grip dept.

NASA 262

schwit1 writes in with a link to a recent interview with Chris Kraft, founder of Mission Control, discussing the impracticality of the SLS, and why the best and brightest are slowing leaving NASA. From the article: "The problem with the SLS is that it's so big that makes it very expensive. It's very expensive to design, it's very expensive to develop. When they actually begin to develop it, the budget is going to go haywire. They're going to have all kinds of technical and development issues crop up, which will drive the development costs up. Then there are the operating costs of that beast, which will eat NASA alive if they get there. ... You go talk to the guys who were doing Constellation (NASA's now-scuttled plan to return to the moon), and the reason they came to NASA was to go back to the moon. They're all leaving now. The leaders are leaving for a lot of other reasons also, but they're leaving because there's no future that they want to be involved in. And that's unfortunate."

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262 comments

Can't fund NASA (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44744511)

Didn't you hear? There are brown people on the other side of the world!

We need to invest in killing them before they kill each other, because if they kill each other and we don't save them from killing each other by killing them then

And we've also got to invest in storing everyone's email, because

And, you know, the IRS needs to buy more ammo so they're ready to

Did I mention they're Muslim? The brown people!

Re:Can't fund NASA (-1, Flamebait)

benjfowler (239527) | about 8 months ago | (#44744623)

This is a variant of hysterical refrains of "ZOMG there are hungry brown people! Can't send anything in space until we abolish hunger, pain, war, shin splints, whatever".

Of course, if you ask said idiots what time frame they have in mind for this, they can't tell you.

Re:Can't fund NASA (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44744899)

The thing is, it's really hard to stop poverty and famine. It's not at all hard to not go somewhere and shoot people.

Re:Can't fund NASA (1)

Salgak1 (20136) | about 8 months ago | (#44744963)

Well, that's because shooting people requires almost no training and can run on long-ago created stocks of weapons and bullets.

Of course, I should talk: my favorite gun was made by the Soviets in 1943. And my latest can of ammo for it was made in 1978. . .

Re:Can't fund NASA (1)

imikem (767509) | about 8 months ago | (#44745031)

So you go and shoot the hungry brown people. Presto, they're not hungry and in poverty anymore.

Re:Can't fund NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44745263)

It's the only humane thing to do. (tm)

Get PETA on it right away!!!

Re:Can't fund NASA (2)

tgd (2822) | about 8 months ago | (#44745221)

The thing is, it's really hard to stop poverty and famine. It's not at all hard to not go somewhere and shoot people.

You mean impossible.

Re:Can't fund NASA (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 8 months ago | (#44745069)

Didn't you hear? There are brown people on the other side of the world!

We need to invest in killing them before they kill each other, because if they kill each other and we don't save them from killing each other by killing them then

... we don't get to control a country strategically important for our access to petroleum that's not ours.

And we've also got to invest in storing everyone's email, because

...otherwise we can't fight those who oppose us and want us out of government.

Re:Can't fund NASA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44745115)

Did you hear its a brown (white) African American, killing them and wants to KILL more of them? Go f*ck yourself jerk off.

Re:Can't fund NASA (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44745253)

Well actually the muslim brown people are NASA's big new charter, or didn't you hear? Obama scaled back our goals, deciding we don't need to go back to the moon and that what NASA should really do is make Muslims feel good about Islam's contribution to science and technology.Going to the moon is just colonialist hubris, America needs to be downsized and subsidize the rest of the world to pay for the colonialist era. Watch Obama's 2016 to see why Obama is working so hard to destroy the US and the west.

Re:Can't fund NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44745477)

Didn't you hear? There are brown people on the other side of the world!

We need to invest in killing them before they kill each other, because if they kill each other and we don't save them from killing each other by killing them then

And we've also got to invest in storing everyone's email, because

And, you know, the IRS needs to buy more ammo so they're ready to

Did I mention they're Muslim? The brown people!

Sadly the Americans are not the good guys anymore.Out of fear for your national security you start war with countries accross the world ? WTF ?

Obama, Bush. all the same since the 1960's. What are you waiting for a second revolution ? America has been lost to war mongering corporations. Retake your country back. The American people should not tolerate this. There is a place for you good people as good citizen of the world. America (see the leaders) you ARE sick and neurotic. America (the people) WAKE UP! The U.K. and the Canadians did the good thing. Please stop the pissing contest.

But but but...... (2)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | about 8 months ago | (#44744531)

Neil deGrasse Tyson says only the government can do Space.

Re:But but but...... (5, Informative)

benjfowler (239527) | about 8 months ago | (#44744609)

Lacks nuance.

There's no business case for Mars sample return, for instance.

The private sector certainly produces services that could be useful running such a mission. And by this, I mean rather than designing a massive white elephant in-house, contracting out the manufacturing, and operating it in-house -- instead, line up multiple bidders for a contract to get "x" amount of payload into "y" orbit. That's effectively what's already happening with access to LEO, and I'm sure this approach will be vindicated.

The government provides the mission and funding, the private sector does what it does best.

The ONLY exception to this, is where the private sector is completely incapable of doing something economically, like super-heavy lift and expensive deep-space vehicles.

Like it or not, NASA are broadly on the right track. Unfortunately, with sequestration and what not, the money isn't going to be around to build and operate SLS.

The choice is very simple -- if the private sector can't "cut it" (as is the case with the missions the SLS is meant for), NASA needs the cash to do the work itself.

Re:But but but...... (5, Insightful)

Daemonik (171801) | about 8 months ago | (#44744823)

The government provides the mission and funding, the private sector does what it does best.

Bribe senators & congressmen for contracts, inflate the costs to double or triple original estimates, deliver 20 years after spec while milking every dollar they can from the government? So, you want to turn NASA into the Defense Industry II?

Re:But but but...... (5, Informative)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 8 months ago | (#44744985)

The government provides the mission and funding, the private sector does what it does best.

Bribe senators & congressmen for contracts, inflate the costs to double or triple original estimates, deliver 20 years after spec while milking every dollar they can from the government? So, you want to turn NASA into the Defense Industry II?

At least the defense industry gets a workable budget.

2013 Estimated NASA budget : $17,000,000,000 - http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/632697main_NASA_FY13_Budget_Summary-508.pdf [nasa.gov]

Estimated cost of one year of the afghan war: $109,500,000,000 - http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gNQ3JbWwd6t-PzkuECkRJvsAlNkA [google.com]

FY 2013 Intelligence Budget: $52,000,000,000 - http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/national/inside-the-2013-us-intelligence-black-budget/420/ [washingtonpost.com]

DHS 2013 Budget: $54,807,277,000 - http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/mgmt/dhs-budget-in-brief-fy2013.pdf [dhs.gov]

We spend about 3 times as much on intel and spying on our own citizens than space research and capability

When you add in DHS it is 6 times.

A year of one war is almost 9 times the NASA budget.

This does not include all the other crazy defense spending. Even if NASA were completely axed today, it would not take even a tiny dent out of our national deficit. Cutting 'unnecessary' NASA spending is just a way to please ill-informed constituents, and make it look like our elected legislators are working to reign in spending. They are NOT.

Re:But but but...... (2)

delt0r (999393) | about 8 months ago | (#44745385)

What about the DEA, FBI or CIA? How do they compare. I know the NSA budget is never disclosed.

Re:But but but...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44745481)

The DHS budget is not largely about spying. It's more about FEMA, the Coast Guard, Customs/Immigration/Border Security. But you're right that' it's 3x the size of NASA.

But you're begging the question. Why should the NASA budget be as large as those other government operations?

Re:But but but...... (3, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | about 8 months ago | (#44745309)

Why don't you guys look up the wikipedia pages for the bits of Saturn V and the lander then get back to us. The private sector built that stuff for NASA.
Also the sort of games you describe were the direct cause of the Challenger disaster - a part introduced due to a design change to spread around the pork failed and killed seven.

Re:But but but...... (1)

delt0r (999393) | about 8 months ago | (#44745369)

NASA is the defense industry II. You described it to a tee. It that how you say it, "tee" or T or say tea.s

Re:But but but...... (1)

RoverDaddy (869116) | about 8 months ago | (#44744915)

Lacks nuance.

The ONLY exception to this, is where the private sector is completely incapable of doing something economically, like super-heavy lift and expensive deep-space vehicles. ... The choice is very simple -- if the private sector can't "cut it" (as is the case with the missions the SLS is meant for), NASA needs the cash to do the work itself.

Well I guess Elon Musk hasn't gotten the memo yet, that there's no way he can do heavy lift, because he certainly seems hell-bent on trying. Now do I know whether or not designs like the Falcon 9 Heavy or Falcon X Heavy can ever get off the drawing board? No I don't. But I'd love to see Musk try, instead of bowing to 'prevailing wisdom' that only the government can do this.

Re:But but but...... (4, Interesting)

benjfowler (239527) | about 8 months ago | (#44745041)

Elon is _not_ the kind of guy to bow to conventional wisdom. SpaceX is one giant experiment to reevaluate 'conventional wisdom' about access to space, from the ground up. They're learning that while certain corners cannot be cut, there _are_ ways to economise.

Tom Markusic has come right out and said that they can develop Merlin 2 (engine for their super-heavy lift vehicle) in three years for $1b. I don't know the odds of a company the size of SpaceX getting their hands on that kind of money any time soon.

Re:But but but...... (4, Interesting)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 8 months ago | (#44745175)

Elon is _not_ the kind of guy to bow to conventional wisdom. SpaceX is one giant experiment to reevaluate 'conventional wisdom' about access to space, from the ground up. They're learning that while certain corners cannot be cut, there _are_ ways to economise.

Tom Markusic has come right out and said that they can develop Merlin 2 (engine for their super-heavy lift vehicle) in three years for $1b. I don't know the odds of a company the size of SpaceX getting their hands on that kind of money any time soon.

The thing about SpaceX is that it would be really great if NASA could get out of the business of getting access to low-earth orbit, and focus instead on the types of platforms that get us from LEO to the moon or other planets. The best way forward I can see for the immediate future of manned exploration is definitely going to be figuring out what can be done with SpaceX platforms - and Elon Musk at least seems super onboard with anything involving sending people to Mars.

Re:But but but...... (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 8 months ago | (#44745459)

"There's no business case for Mars sample return, for instance."
There is no business case for an aircraft carrier, tank, or F-16.
I think the idea is that NASA and the government would say we need to do x and then give a contract or contracts for the project. The problem I see is that the idea is that commercial companies can do it cheaper than bloated government. The problem is that I am not so sure that is true. Back in the 1960s Navy shipyards often built Navy ships that were in large part designed by the Navy. Commercial yards also built ships. Back in the day if you went to a military base the guards where military, as where the cooks, and most of the support personnel. Today most of that is turned over to commercial firms. The problem is that I do not think we are saving any money. I feel that we have this strange almost government but commercial companies that cost as much as old way if not more.

Re:But but but...... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 8 months ago | (#44744709)

Neil deGrasse Tyson says only the government can do Space.

What about all the Helium 3 on the moon? That could be very profitable.

Re:But but but...... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44744745)

How do you figure? I'm really curious about this geek fantasy that will never, ever die.

Re:But but but...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44745185)

Everyone knows 3He is better than old Helium, and you can easily charge 50% more since it has 50% more subatomic nucleus bits. It's just basic business sense.

Re:But but but...... (5, Funny)

delt0r (999393) | about 8 months ago | (#44744825)

We can burn DT which is 100x easier, so its not useful as a fuel. Its also very rare, at between 1ppb to 50ppb, so even if you could burn it you need a mining operation bigger than anything on earth just for a power station. Oh and if you can burn 3He then you can burn DD, which produces 3He.

3He is not a reason to go to the moon. Its proof that even proponents can't come up with a good reason to go there at all.

Re: But but but...... (2)

Rational (1990) | about 8 months ago | (#44745227)

Well, it still makes more sense than going to Mars. Satisfying scientific curiosity aside, the only point of Mars is a balls-out terraforming effort; otherwise you're better off bringing asteroids to Earth orbit and constructing habitats there.

Re: But but but...... (1)

delt0r (999393) | about 8 months ago | (#44745333)

What if find strange is that the obvious reason is never stated. Tourism. Right now how much disposable income is spent on traveling for no other reason than just to be there? Its a lot.

Of course if that is the market then NASA has no business doing it. And commercially it won't be done till the technology catches up a bit. That is cheaper .. and it will get easier/cheaper as we progress. Intended or not.

Re:But but but...... (3, Informative)

petermgreen (876956) | about 8 months ago | (#44745135)

The main proposed use for He3 has been as a fusion fuel but while the fusion reaction involving He3 does have the advantage of being aneutronic it is unlikly to be used in practical fusion for two reasons. The reactions involving He3 requires much higher energy levels than the fusion reactions being investigated currently. This implies two things.

1: He3+D fusion is going to be much harder to pull off than D+T or even D+D fusion (where D is duterium and T is tritium).
2: The He3+D fusion reaction will always be accompanied by a side D+D fusion so the overall reaction wouldn't be aneutronic.

There is also apparently a He3+He3 reaction that would be aneutronic but is even harder to pull off.

Re:But but but...... (1)

delt0r (999393) | about 8 months ago | (#44745417)

The 3He as a fusion fuel from the moon is directed at the 3He+3He reaction. Its a bit harder than DD or HeD fusion and of course a lot harder than DT and they have much lower power densities.

All in all if you can burn pure He, you can burn DD with more power density and hence its cheaper. Neutrons are not that impossible to deal with. DT of course has something like 60x more power density again! But a much harder neutron spectrum.

Re:But but but...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44744817)

And the one still doing it is a government, just not the American one.

Re:But but but...... (2)

Trepidity (597) | about 8 months ago | (#44744849)

Is there any privately-funded space travel? About the largest I can think of was Armadillo Aerospace, which folded. SpaceX claims they want to go private in the future, but they're currently mainly funded by government grants and contracts.

Re:But but but...... (1)

smpoole7 (1467717) | about 8 months ago | (#44745145)

> Neil deGrasse Tyson says only the government can do Space.

He may be the current media darling, but that doesn't make him always right.

All it will take is for the first asteroid with significant platinum group deposits to be discovered, close enough to make mining the materials profitable over a 10-20 year time frame, and all of a sudden, space will become quite appealing. :)

NASA likes the big, impressive launches, complete with dramatic countdown. Dozens of smaller launches that then meet in orbit don't make good television.

Re:But but but...... (2)

Peter H.S. (38077) | about 8 months ago | (#44745173)

Neil deGrasse Tyson says only the government can do Space.

That is simply a lie. In fact he found it scandalous that the private commercial space program was delayed so many years. RTFA.

Re:But but but...... (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 8 months ago | (#44745353)

Go on then. Tell us who else is going to put up the money for more than a few comsats and why they will do it. We're listening. Surely you've got some kind of obvious answer since you are calling another a liar - let's see it.

Re:But but but...... (3, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | about 8 months ago | (#44745225)

Neil deGrasse Tyson says only the government can do Space.

NdGT is neither a politician or a businessman. He's a wonderful speaker and an astrophysicist.

Its an error to attribute to him greater insight than those bring. (And, FWIW, I'm a BIG fan of his... but his statements there start tiptoeing pretty close to the line where really smart and successful people in one field start thinking that holds true in others.)

Re:But but but...... (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 8 months ago | (#44745361)

Neil deGrasse Tyson was mostly right. Private companies aren't going to do big, ambitious projects or manned missions without the government(s).

Doesn't surprise me at all (4, Insightful)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about 8 months ago | (#44744545)

In fact, I'm surprised this didn't happen a lot sooner. The way the politicos screw around with NASA's budget and direction year after year, how is NASA supposed to get anything done? One can only take so much before you throw your hands up in the air and say "screw this".

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all (5, Interesting)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about 8 months ago | (#44744635)

Absolutely right. Not only that, but politics forced NASA to behave stupidly, pushing giant missions that would be popular with the public, rather than multiple smaller missions that make more sense. The Space Shuttle practically killed NASA, but because it looks and lands like a plane, it was very popular. Congress also gave NASA a monopoly on space launches. SpaceX would have been illegal up to a few years ago, which is why American companies couldn't get a satellite into space cost effectively, and had to use services from other countries instead. American companies developed most of the technology that put men on the moon, but they were forced to scrap it, and were banned from using that technology for anything but NASA approved projects and weapon systems, which of course were screwed up by politics.

I hate to say it, but it's a good thing, IMO, that NASA is being pushed to the side. A lot of those bright people leaving NASA are joining companies like SpaceX, and they're finally getting the chance to make a difference. If NASA had gotten out of the way decades ago, I think we'd be a lot further along.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all (3, Insightful)

benjfowler (239527) | about 8 months ago | (#44744639)

Be aware of the distinction between routine access to LEO, and science and exploration in deep space.

NASA is getting out of the former -- and rightly so.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all (1)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about 8 months ago | (#44744827)

For unmanned missions, LEO is the first step. Once you have a craft in LEO, it can use massively more efficient propulsion to get where it needs to go, so long as you're not in a hurry. If you put a man in it, every day becomes critical and you're forced to continue burning fuel inefficiently, but if it's just a robot, even a few years in space is no biggie. If you want to get 1000 tons of stuff to the Moon, I doubt we'd want to do that in a hurry. Instead of a few SLS launches, in reality, we'd do a lot more small launches to LEO and let the cargo take it's time getting to the Moon.

Even for manned missions, is it clear that we want to launch to deep space directly from the ground? How much complexity would it add to use Russian rockets to get people to the Space Station, and cheap unmanned rockets to get the deep space craft and it's fuel there? I'm sure NASA looked at all of the options, but I'm not convinced that they settled on the SLS because it's the best idea. I think politics is involved. It seems like they like they prefer huge line items with many billions funding, like "Space Shuttle", rather than a bunch of little projects. That keeps it simple for all those morons in congress, who have to sell the idea to an even dumber public.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all (3, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | about 8 months ago | (#44744723)

NASA's been doing too many "reruns" albeit with better tech. Probes to Mars, Man on the Moon 2.

They should start working towards building better space stations that have artificial gravity, radiation shielding and all the stuff that makes it possible to actually live in space, rather than die faster than normal.

Talking about sending humans to Mars without doing this first is like trying to jump far before even being able to stand.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44744829)

The same applies for sending bigger and bigger probes to Mars. There's no chance of any human landing on the planet if we can't deliver the mass needed, which is why continued probe missions are a good way of developing bigger rockets and perfecting heavyweight landing.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44744863)

What's the point? How do you get the humans back from Mars?

I only see a real benefit if we get to vote on which politician/person gets sent to Mars one-way.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all (0)

CRCulver (715279) | about 8 months ago | (#44745167)

They should start working towards building better space stations that have artificial gravity, radiation shielding and all the stuff that makes it possible to actually live in space, rather than die faster than normal.

If the Singularity is near, expending so much effort to make space stations "livable" is unnecessary. Machine bodies won't have the same demands for gravity, water and food.

If the Singularity is not near, then it's still not worthwhile, as a resource-collapsed Earth would not be able to continue expansion into space. A collapsed Earth would still be more livable than any other planet.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44745409)

Just need to find a few suitable asteroids and you'll have plenty of resources.

Space stations with 1g will be better suited for humans than any other planet (other than Earth) or moon in our system.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all (3, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about 8 months ago | (#44744855)

The space shuttle wasn't just for popularity, but a military boondoggle. A whole bunch of its requirements were basically imposed on NASA by the Pentagon, because they wanted it to be dual-use.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all (2)

khallow (566160) | about 8 months ago | (#44745199)

The dual-use thing came only because the plans were for more Shuttle than NASA could afford by itself. If they had started with a smaller, less ambitious, and of course, less costly Space Shuttle, then they wouldn't have needed DoD money or gotten those DoD strings attached. The DoD in turn could have just developed their own launcher or contract that out to private companies's launch vehicles. They ended up doing both despite the Shuttle.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all (0)

El Puerco Loco (31491) | about 8 months ago | (#44744663)

NASA is a cold war era propaganda program.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all (2)

dmbasso (1052166) | about 8 months ago | (#44744747)

If all propaganda programs delivered as much technology as this (allegedly) one, I wouldn't mind them at all.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all (1)

msauve (701917) | about 8 months ago | (#44745165)

And exactly what technology would that be? Tang or Velcro? Seriously, name a single technology (useful for other than NASA purposes) which wouldn't have appeared within a few years anyway.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all (2)

dbIII (701233) | about 8 months ago | (#44745395)

You are using it now.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all (2)

msauve (701917) | about 8 months ago | (#44745439)

What do you think you're talking about? The Internet - that was DARPA, not NASA. WWW? That was CERN. Integrated circuits? Nope. Microprocessors? Nope. LDCs? Nope. LEDs? Nope.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 8 months ago | (#44745471)

Small and powerful microprocessors and similar electronics from places like Texas Instruments which resulted in very rapid development. Your "nope" is just ignoring reality. Without such a financial kick such things would have stagnated, remained expensive, and most likely not ended up in the home yet.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 8 months ago | (#44745485)

Oh, they'd be in the home now, they'd just be less advanced and the OSs sould be FAR more geek oriented. That's a bad thing, by the way.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all (1)

Daemonik (171801) | about 8 months ago | (#44744831)

Those same politcos screwing with NASA's budget will get on TV and scream how bloated government can't get anything done.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all (1)

imikem (767509) | about 8 months ago | (#44745093)

Those same politcos screwing with NASA's budget constantly get on TV and scream how bloated government can't get anything done.

FTFY.

Screw them all! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44744959)

The capability to venture outer space and eventually terraform and colonize other planets is far more important than other crap we care about everyday - Iran, Syrian war, AIDS in africa etc etc. It's the future of all humans (assume you're not living in Syria, but who cares?)

Privatization is NOT the solution. No private company can or can be allowed to have so many resource to wield to do space projects.

Hate to say it, but manned space travel is over (3, Interesting)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 8 months ago | (#44745423)

I think it's time to accept the harsh reality that the era of manned space travel is pretty much over. It was a nice, brief blip in modern history--fueled by the politics of the Cold War. But it's been in decline since the early 70's, and with the end of the Cold War in the early 90's, the writing was on the wall. A few more countries will send men up as a point of national pride (like China), and the ISS and Russian manned program will limp along for a little while longer. But we're never going back to the way it was.

What Goes Up (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | about 8 months ago | (#44744547)

Must Come Down.

Re:What Goes Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44744629)

Must Come Down.

Except budgetary requirements, development costs and maintenance costs. Those never come down.

Re:What Goes Up (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about 8 months ago | (#44744637)

Yep, performance and payload capability always goes down. Mass and costs always goes up. That's part of what doomed Ares.

Re:What Goes Up (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44744877)

Unless it reaches escape velocity.

Where's a Wernher von Braun when you need one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44744553)

Back to the moon, without help. *snicker*

ONE WORD !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44744563)

Space Elevator !!

Going Dooownnnn !!

Hippies and their expensive toys in the attic !!

Good luck with that (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 8 months ago | (#44744567)

Article mentions it's nicknamed the Senate Launch System, and in any case, they can cut it and lose fewer votes, not to mention later politicians love to cancel earlier one's big projects.

Few remember the previous big launch system was cancelled by Obama when he came into office. It's all a cynical game.

Re:Good luck with that (0)

benjfowler (239527) | about 8 months ago | (#44744619)

The previous systems (Areas I and V) had big, big technical issues that were becoming increasingly difficult to solve as the design progressed through the engineering lifecycle.

SLS is faring much better.

Re:Good luck with that (2)

Fuzzy Viking (1140767) | about 8 months ago | (#44744799)

Article mentions it's nicknamed the Senate Launch System

Launching the senate seems like a great idea to me. No reentry vehicle or parachutes are necessary. If they reenter the athmosphere they will filibuster gravity while arguing whether it is communist since it affects everyone.

Tinfoil Hat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44744627)

NASA ... drop the Aeronautics from the acronym what you have... EXACTLY!!!

My experience (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44744687)

I did a bit of work for NASA and can confirm that the politics can be insanely frustrating. I busted my ass for 12, 14 hours a day for a year and a half and do not regret it; I quit when it became apparent that the guy making the powerpoint slides describing my work was making more than me.

I recommend to work there for a bit as it's a cool experience, but couldn't imagine it as a career.

Re:My experience (3, Funny)

tgd (2822) | about 8 months ago | (#44745235)

I did a bit of work for NASA and can confirm that the politics can be insanely frustrating. I busted my ass for 12, 14 hours a day for a year and a half and do not regret it; I quit when it became apparent that the guy making the powerpoint slides describing my work was making more than me.

I recommend to work there for a bit as it's a cool experience, but couldn't imagine it as a career.

If I had to make PowerPoint slides instead of producing real results with my hands, I'd be wanting a lot more money, too.

The SLS? (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 8 months ago | (#44744733)

So if the SLS is the one thing killing NASA, don't do it. I wouldn't have the slightest idea what the SLS is (redaction?) but it sounds like a no-brainer to me.

Re:The SLS? (5, Informative)

jonwil (467024) | about 8 months ago | (#44744763)

The SLS is basically a big boondoggle forced on NASA by a bunch of congressmen who have factories in their districts that used to make Space Shuttle parts. These congressmen have basically forced NASA to produce some sort of space launch vehicle in a way that requires these Space Shuttle parts and therefore keeps the factories in their districts in business.

Re:The SLS? (2)

tgd (2822) | about 8 months ago | (#44745261)

The SLS is basically a big boondoggle forced on NASA by a bunch of congressmen who have factories in their districts that used to make Space Shuttle parts. These congressmen have basically forced NASA to produce some sort of space launch vehicle in a way that requires these Space Shuttle parts and therefore keeps the factories in their districts in business.

Its more insidious than that -- the Space Shuttle (and the ISS) largely existed to keep money pouring into defense contractors in those districts to maintain the skillset and brain trust around aerospace technologies. NASA would never be allowed to fund a lower-cost, more streamlined system to replace the STS program because the whole reason congress pumps that money into NASA is predicated on "big". Why do you think the NASA mission changed to the Moon and then Mars? As the cost and complexity of systems to get to the moon was coming down, the big project couldn't be justified. Mars had to be the target. If SpaceX actually figures out how to inexpensively get someone to Mars and back -- and starts making any progress at all towards it -- you better believe a manned mission to Jupiter or something will be the next NASA drum being beat.

Re:The SLS? (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 8 months ago | (#44745421)

If SpaceX actually figures out how to inexpensively get someone to Mars and back

Aldrin worked that one out and would be famous for it even if he'd never been to the moon. There's a lot of very hard work after that but shaving vast amounts off the time required makes a massive difference.

nasa as an institution: it hasnt evolved. (3, Interesting)

nimbius (983462) | about 8 months ago | (#44744785)

the problem with nasa is its inception was intended to combat the USSR on a number of fronts. It advanced technologies like ICBM which were used to further the doctrine of mutually assured destruction. It also worked to advance american scientific achievements and progress in the face of a scientific juggarnaut that invented magnetic resonance imaging, staged rocket launches, the luna 1 space probe, the satellite, and had launched the first man into space. Space as it was tasked to NASA was in many respects propaganda. this definition is validated today when considering almost every commercial satellite, from Iridium to XM, has been launched by a former soviet launch site (Baikonur) and on a proton or similar Soviet/Russian vehicle. We just needed to prove to ourselves and the world that "Murica is still number one"

It wasnt until 2010 that an american corporation was successful in delivering the same level of satellite delivery service as its russian counterparts (SpaceX) but my point remains: NASA kept engineers and physicists busy because it didnt try to commercialize its endeavors. NASA has it been proposed this year would be lambasted as a clandestine socialist program to waste federal money in the pursuit of junk science that does nothing to validate jesus. NASA as it was 50 years ago was the dream on the heart and mind of every school child, whereas today its mostly a clearinghouse for different politically motivated, nearly schitzophrenic technological endeavors that occasionally backfire hillariously and produce scandalous outcomes like validating climate change or evolution.

its not a happy conclusion, but 50 years ago russia 'did science' while america chest-thumped and grand-standed until people conceeded.

Re:nasa as an institution: it hasnt evolved. (3, Interesting)

Daemonik (171801) | about 8 months ago | (#44744873)

I think you're painting things a little dishonestly on the Soviet side there. Nobody at NASA ever got sent to Siberia because their project failed, you know.

The politics of Soviet space launches were just as convoluted as ours, and created problems of it's own. They were "doing science" to prove their own political and military points. Sure, NASA was a counterpoint to that, but don't act like both sides weren't playing a game against each other with their space programs and captured Nazi scientists.

Re:nasa as an institution: it hasnt evolved. (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 8 months ago | (#44745191)

Nobody at NASA ever got sent to Siberia because their project failed, you know.

Nor did they in the Soviet Union. The Russian space expansion took place after the death of Stalin, when people were no longer sent to gulags for professional failures. (Repression certainly continued in the USSR, but it was of a different stripe.)

Re:nasa as an institution: it hasnt evolved. (4, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 8 months ago | (#44745009)

NASA is, to be honest, mired in congressional directives. They have very little actual control over their programs and budgets primarily because Congress sees it as a way to funnel money to their own state/district as pork. There's no logical reason why you would spread their mission development out over such a huge geographic area.

The other problem: starting (mostly) with Reagan, NASA ceased to be a research institution and transitioned to a contract management organization which directed commercial contractors to do work for them. The contractors then get patents on everything and NASA just kept paying them by the hour. The idea was that you coulc fire contractors with impunity but you had to keep civil servants for life. The former is not as true as the theory since the government essentially had to guarantee performance of a contract to a minimum basis (pay whether you need them or not), and the latter is sadly true in the case of deadbeat employees thanks to the byzantine HR system in the government. The few *actual* engineers and scientists at NASA are still very good, but if you have to fight management and congress all the time then, yeah, you're going to look for more exciting work elsewhere.

Disclaimer: I used to work for NASA, and we did cool stuff - earth sensing, expendable rocket sats, secondary shuttle science payloads. That whole division has since been dissolved, afaik. I left for non-work reasons; I never had to butt heads with top brass.

Re:nasa as an institution: it hasnt evolved. (4, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | about 8 months ago | (#44745207)

Ironic that this spin-authored piece claims that NASA was "just about propaganda".
Each of the points made here could have been written by a TASS staff writer. Not sure if tendentious, or just ignorant?

"...Nasa (was to) advance american scientific achievements and progress in the face of a scientific juggarnaut (sic) (the Soviets)..." Yes, the Soviets had the lead in space in just about every category one could imagine...in the 1960s. And since then (really, even then) Russia has turned into a barely-first-world country?

"... almost every commercial satellite, from Iridium to XM, has been launched by a former soviet launch site...(and/or on Soviet/Russian hardware)" This would be because NASA has been nearly SHUT DOWN since the Columbia crash in 2003.

To compare US (private) space business to Russia's is laughable. Why does Russia even have a allegedly-commercial launch system? Because the Russian government imploded and some opportunist pretty much found it sitting there with the keys in it. This wasn't a "policy choice" any more than a car crash is. The reason the Russian system is commercialized is because IT HAD TO BE to continue functioning.

Arguably, such would be a healthier future for NASA as well (privatization). But it's one thing to completely inherit a space program cost-free, and another thing to build one from scratch.

To point out the health of the Soviet/Russian launch organizations today vs NASA is as shallow (and misleading) as asking "why are all the German factories and infrastructure so much newer than the US's?". I'm not sure a lot of people would argue that what Germany went through in 1945 was worth it to have a more advanced industrial infrastructure today?

I wouldn't even disagree with some of your criticisms that NASA is overpolitical, schizoid, and overexpensive (although the "Jesus" comment is...bizarre?). Then again, I'd ask how many Russian programs have gone past Earth orbit lately? Meanwhile a massive, magnificent orbiter continues to generate terrific data from Saturn, probes are all over, and NASA rovers are trundling all over and above Mars. Heck, a US-private launched satellite is leaving an entirely new launch site in Virginia headed for the moon this week.

50 years ago THE SOVIETS 'did science'. 40-30-20-10 they were busy trying not to become a 3rd world country. Congrats? Your mom certainly used to be the prettiest decades ago, but now she just invites strange men to stay overnight so she can pay the electrical bill.

Re:nasa as an institution: it hasnt evolved. (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 8 months ago | (#44745437)

It wasnt until 2010 that an american corporation was successful in delivering the same level of satellite delivery service as its russian counterparts

Um ... guys ... who do you think built the parts of the Saturn V for NASA? There's a thing called wikipedia now which makes it much easier to read about the cool stuff in science and technology than it used to be.

NASA is a lost cause. (3, Interesting)

felrom (2923513) | about 8 months ago | (#44744883)

I worked at JSC from 2006 until 2010 when I volunteered for a layoff and left. The real drain that NASA causes is not the ~$18,000,000,000/year it spends, but tens of thousands of talented engineers who are wasting away their careers there waiting for something exciting to happen. Those engineers could be somewhere else doing something valuable.

Working in private industry now, everything is better: the pay, the management, an executive leadership team with vision and drive to make it happen. NASA is a mess, and no amount of motivational speakers, presidential mandates, or pie-in-the-sky dreams is going to fix it.

The way I sum up my time as NASA when I talk to people about it is this: "I'm very glad I got to work at NASA, and I'm even happier that I don't work there anymore."

It is sad but obvious (2)

ioconnor (2581137) | about 8 months ago | (#44744969)

You can not expect to make a career out of NASA. The best you can hope for is a temporary alignment on a particular project. If you want a long term career you must go private and work for SpaceX or start your own company. It is all about adjusting your expectations...

Get Government Out of it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44744995)

NASA is only a train wreck because of the meddling hands of Government that, in addition to being the sole source of funds, insists on micro-managing every aspect of the development process.

For example, let's say I have to sit down and develop a computer module to monitor some system on the vehicle. I can't just design something that works using commodity parts. I have to choose parts from preferred contractors, which are determined not by the quality of their product, but by the gender or race of the company's owner, and of course how much money that company gave to some Congressman's re-election campaign during the prior election cycle. It has nothing to do with the product.

Then, I have to adhere to certain rules regarding cultural sensitivity, meaning that for example I can't use parts from an Israeli company if we are developing a replacement part for a space vehicle we sold to, say, a Muslim country.

There are hundreds upon hundreds of such rules in NASA that necessarily lead to an unnecessarily complex design.

THAT'S why I got out. I was sick and tired of dangling from political puppet strings.

I like (1)

Dereck1701 (1922824) | about 8 months ago | (#44745045)

I like where this guy's going, less focus on big n' bad new launch systems and more focus on our current ones. I think more than a few studies have suggested that his concept of a "Cape Canaveral in the sky" fuel & spacecraft depot in orbit has merit. That said our current choices on LV's need some work. None of them are even partially reusable and a few of them I don't think anyone in their right mind would want to use for human spaceflight. I watched the footage from the recent Delta IV launch, I know its got a good launch record (only one failure out of 24 launches) but the thing spends half of its accent with its engine covers on fire after cooking its its lower bits on the launchpad.

So whats new? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44745049)

A microcosm of the country.

SLS = Space Launch System (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#44745051)

Editors, it's never a bad idea to define less-than-ubiquitous acronyms.

Re:SLS = Space Launch System (1)

tgd (2822) | about 8 months ago | (#44745321)

Editors, it's never a bad idea to define less-than-ubiquitous acronyms.

Are you really hypothesizing that there is anyone who knows who Chris Kraft is, and/or cares in the least what he thinks, who doesn't know that?

KIWF (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 8 months ago | (#44745329)

NASA is just another government handout program for well-connected contractors and campaign supporters. Kill it with fire already and let the private industry that has far surpassed its technical ability take over space exploration and utilization.

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