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As NASA Seeks Next Mission, Russia Holds the Trump Card

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the catbird-seat dept.

NASA 250

Geoffrey.landis (926948) writes "After the space shuttle retired in 2011, Russia has hiked the price of a trip to the International Space Station, to $71 million per seat. Less well recognized is the disparity in station crews. Before the shuttle stopped flying, an equal number of American and Russian crew members lived on board. But afterwards the bear began squeezing. For every two NASA astronauts that have flown to the station, three Russians have gone. Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this?"

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250 comments

Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47040487)

Easy. We've shipped enough engineering jobs overseas that we, as a Nation, no longer possess the expertise required to design and build an occupied space vehicle.

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47040499)

It does not help that a certain administration has turned NASA, and to a great extent NOAA, into political mouthpieces for the global warming, sorry climate change, sorry climate disruption agenda.

NASA has not been focused on the "space" part in a great many years.

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47040583)

Only in your imagination maybe. NASA and NOAA have been doing global warming/climate change research long before Obama was even a senator. But don't let facts get in your way.

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (2)

e3m4n (947977) | about 2 months ago | (#47040617)

regardless if it was the last 5 years or the last 14 years, its fairly obvious that they are a shadow of what they used to be.

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 months ago | (#47040663)

Which has nothing to do with climate research. I can't think of organisations in a better position to do atmospheric research than NASA and NOAA.

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 months ago | (#47040679)

And that little fact is almost entirely due to Congress' inability to think past pork and the next re election cycle. Yes, NASA has some internal issues (as does every human endevour with more than one person involved) but yo-yo funding and put-it-here thinking have really trashed the agency.

You reap what you sow. /grump

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (1, Insightful)

mc6809e (214243) | about 2 months ago | (#47040705)

And that little fact is almost entirely due to Congress' inability to think past pork and the next re election cycle.

So much of the budget is off-limits (social security and medicare) that the only areas left vulnerable to cutting are things like NASA.

The USA has locked itself into forced spending in some areas and it's squeezing other areas.

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (5, Insightful)

meglon (1001833) | about 2 months ago | (#47040881)

Yes, as it should be. What those who bring up SS and Medicare never seem to want to say is that there is a specific tax collected to pay for those items, and until the recent collapse a few years ago, that tax brought in a SURPLUS every year. Even with a few years of no surplus from revenue (it's reserves are still growing, however), the fund will be in the black for the next 20+ years. Try blaming something that isn't affecting the budget with a negative.

Here's an idea, lets gt rid of the F-35 program, a plane we don't need, is behind schedule, is massively over budget, and still can barely get off the ground. The cost projection for that one useless pork program, if given straight to NASA, would double their budget for the next 80 years.... of course, that's ignoring any MORE cost overruns that the F-35 will have in the future. It's odd, i don't find the phrase "create and maintain a global military hegemony" anywhere in the Constitution.

The answer to the question put forth, though, is pretty simple: congress has been inundated with complete fucking idiots who couldn't think their way out of a wet paper bag even if they had instructions. The complete idiots who are anti-science, anti-education, anti-intelligence... these people who rail against progress, all the while using and abusing their positions for their own political power. That's why we're in this situation. Every time you see someone on these boards who complain NASA isn't needed, or hasn't done anything useful.... those people exemplify is the reason why we're at this point: pure, unadulterated, stupidity.

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47041039)

Wish I could mod you up more than once. Great analysis. I get tired of the ignorance on these subjects. Thanks for the post.

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (5, Informative)

njnnja (2833511) | about 2 months ago | (#47041099)

that tax brought in a SURPLUS every year.

Only by a very limited definition of surplus, used by what is called pay-as-you-go accounting. Under accrual accounting ("generally accepted accounting principles"), which the government does not have to follow, SS and Medicare did not run surpluses. The difference is this: under pay as you go, as long as the cash that you pay to beneficiaries during the year is less than the cash taken in by the taxes taken in during the year, you are balanced. However, under accrual accounting, the things that must be balanced are not the cash flows, but rather, the promised benefits and the promised taxes.

As an example, If you get a $1000 paycheck at the end of the week, and you spend $900, then you have $100 at the end of the week, and under any definition you had a surplus. But if you get a $1000 paycheck, and you spend $1050, you did not run a surplus (and probably depleted some of your bank account). Lastly, if you get a $1000 paycheck, then you spend $1050, and you borrow $150 from a friend, you have $100 cash left over at the end of the week. But because you have promised $150 to your friend, which is more than the $100 cash you have left over, you have not run a surplus. That is the situation SS and Medicare have found themselves in - sound from a pay as you go basis, but not promising to tax enough/promising too many benefits to be sound on an accrual basis

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 months ago | (#47041513)

Oh, for a mod point.

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (1)

jdschulteis (689834) | about 2 months ago | (#47041121)

So much of the budget is off-limits (social security and medicare) that the only areas left vulnerable to cutting are things like NASA.

The USA has locked itself into forced spending in some areas and it's squeezing other areas.

We could double NASA's budget and pay for it with a 3% cut to the military.

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47040925)

but , but they told us the magic hand would pick up the slack,

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (5, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 2 months ago | (#47040949)

Because for the second time in my life the US has retired a working manned system long before the replacement was ready.
Can you imagine the Have retiring all the nuclear subs in service before the next generation was in service? We did it with Apollo and we did it with STS.
It just shows that manned space flight and space flight in general are not priorities which IMHO SUCKS!!!!!!!

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 months ago | (#47040643)

Translation: I hare science that makes me feel bad.

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (5, Funny)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about 2 months ago | (#47040701)

Translation: I hare science that makes me feel bad.

You wascawy wabbit!

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (-1, Flamebait)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about 2 months ago | (#47040693)

It does not help that a certain administration has turned NASA, and to a great extent NOAA, into political mouthpieces for the global warming, sorry climate change, sorry climate disruption agenda.

NASA has not been focused on the "space" part in a great many years.

You may think it's flamebait, but it's 100% truth.

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47040997)

It's about as "truthful" as calling Obama a Kenyan Muslim.

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 2 months ago | (#47041013)

NASA's Earth Observing System [nasa.gov] produces a lot of data. NASA's landsat program began in the early 1970s, so the notion of launching satellites to observe the earth's surface is not especially new.

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (5, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 months ago | (#47040515)

Nonsense! Dragon is beginnning its Man-Rating this year.

It should be qualified by the end of next year, unless NASA gets a big helping of "Not Invented Here" and decides to kill the man-rated Dragon in favour of its own design (which won't be ready this decade, if ever).

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (4, Interesting)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 2 months ago | (#47040639)

Dragon is already reusable, and Falcon 9R first stage looks like it's gonna be reusable soon. (reusable 2nd stage seems more doubtful considering the enormous reentry speeds involved)

If or when they start doing regular launches with the reusable Dragon and F9R, how low do you think they can get the price per seat down to? Russians are charging $71m per seat, can SpaceX get it down to $1m per seat?

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (3, Informative)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 2 months ago | (#47040841)

Reusable and Man-Rating are different concepts here.

However reusable will cut the costs down dramatically. The Falcon 9 booster itself is less than 60m a launch. ISS resupply missions on Dragon are around 100m (I believe, I couldn't find the number.) Obviously a man-rated Dragon is going to cost quite a bit more. This means they could literally throw away the dragon capsule every time it flies and be cheaper than Soyuz.

Also, keep in mind that Dragon seats 7, Soyuz seats 3.

Also I would say that any cost savings from SpaceX have more to do wtih how efficient they are compared to how horrifically inefficient NASA contractors are. [policymic.com]

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 2 months ago | (#47040901)

Reusable and Man-Rating are different concepts here.

However reusable will cut the costs down dramatically.

Quite true. Reusable, for non-manned launches, can set a lower threshold for system failure resulting in mission failure; or in plain language reusing a part and blowing up a rocket and it's non-human payload is more acceptable than killing a crew.

Of course, risking destroying an expensive satellite because to save a few bucks on launch costs may be unacceptable a swell. Personally, I wouldn't base my launch cost model on reusability but view any cost savings from reuse a bonus.

However reusable will cut the costs down dramatically. The Falcon 9 booster itself is less than 60m a launch. ISS resupply missions on Dragon are around 100m (I believe, I couldn't find the number.) Obviously a man-rated Dragon is going to cost quite a bit more. This means they could literally throw away the dragon capsule every time it flies and be cheaper than Soyuz.

Also, keep in mind that Dragon seats 7, Soyuz seats 3.

Right now, your choice is Soyuz or don't go. Supply and demand dictates Russia can set prices as high as the market will bear, not on what it really costs.

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47041027)

In my last 37 years of experience in the space industry, "reusable" means "costs more per launch" in every single example. I haven't worked man-rated programs directly, but the goals are often similar between the two, but the Design Assurance Level for man-rated prevents re-use of components.

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (4, Insightful)

MildlyTangy (3408549) | about 2 months ago | (#47040879)

I dont think the issue is how much money it costs sending US astronauts on Russian rockets, the issue is that the Russian rockets are the only option right now.

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 months ago | (#47041229)

Russians are charging $71m per seat, can SpaceX get it down to $1m per seat?

Why would they do that? They will charge $69,999,999.95 and throw in a few airmiles. Seriously, do you really think price is determined by cost + margin, or "what the market will stand"?

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 months ago | (#47041441)

And yet they're charging considerably less than their nearest competitor for unmanned launches. It's not really all that hard to find out how much SpaceX and Orbital Sciences are charging for CRS missions.

Hint: Orbital Sciences is being paid rather more for eight launches ($1.9B) than SpaceX is for twelve launches ($1.6B).

Even though a Dragon can loft ~50% more payload than a Cygnus can.

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (3, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 months ago | (#47041373)

If or when they start doing regular launches with the reusable Dragon and F9R, how low do you think they can get the price per seat down to? Russians are charging $71m per seat, can SpaceX get it down to $1m per seat?

Hmm, Dragon seats seven in manned-mode. $133M per launch (which is what NASA is paying SpaceX now for flights to ISS. Double that for no other reason than that we can...

Hmm, $40M per person sound reasonable.

Of course, if Dragon and Falcon 9R are each good for, say, five flights, we can reduce the cost per flight by half easily (F9R first stage is 70% of the cost of the Falcon all by itself). Which could leave you at $20M per seat.

By and by, Falcon 9R's second stage will also be reusable. If they can get five launches out of that, we're talking an 80% reduction in cost of a Falcon/Dragon combo, which might let you put a man up for $4M per seat....

And that's assuming five launches per bird. Ten reduces cost by half again.

Yes, prices above (except for the base $133M that NASA is paying SpaceX now) are highly speculative. Point is that SpaceX can probably boost men for considerably less than Russia charges without even finishing up the "Reusable" part of Falcon-9, much less after they get Falcon 9R fully reusable.

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 months ago | (#47040823)

Funding, not expertise. We spent so much on the shuttle, that "space" doesn't have good connotations anymore. It means waste and no results.

Re:Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47041187)

I'm not the original AC and I don't agree with the opinion (I think that it's more "He who pays the piper..."), but it's ridiculous to mark it as flamebait.

Trump (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 2 months ago | (#47040497)

Maybe we can persuade The Donald to invest in space exploration.
Then no Russians would be needed.

Re:Trump (4, Informative)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 2 months ago | (#47040871)

Maybe we can persuade The Donald to invest in space exploration.
Then no Russians would be needed.

In dollars, Musk [google.com] is worth 5x Trump [google.com] . Musk has made more money this year than Donald Trump's entire portfolio is worth.

In value to society, it is incalculable.

A Contest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47040503)

Why is this a contest? Isn't it the International Space station, not a pissing match.

Re:A Contest? (2)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | about 2 months ago | (#47040517)

Access to space has always been a pissing contest. You would even be in space if it wasn't.

Re:A Contest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47040959)

A pissing contest and a military/colonial contest.

He/she who has control over space can rain down destruction on their enemies. They can also glean new scientific discoveries from the new environment. It's been like this since before the conquistadors.

On the other hand, I will bet you right now that there will always be at least one US astronaut on the ISS, to mitigate the risk of an attack. I'm sorry if this sounds tinfoil-hattish,but politics is politics.

Re:A Contest? (1)

tiberus (258517) | about 2 months ago | (#47040641)

Hmm, what part of the male anatomy does a rocket resemble? 'nuff said

Re:A Contest? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 2 months ago | (#47040793)

Hmm, what part of the male anatomy does a rocket resemble? 'nuff said

The nothing? Go look at your penis. Then go look at a rocket. If they look alike to you, please see a urologist / plastic surgeon.
You may as well claim all spheres look like breasts.

Re:A Contest? (1)

fuzznutz (789413) | about 2 months ago | (#47040825)

You may as well claim all spheres look like breasts.

They do if you squint hard enough.

Re:A Contest? (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 2 months ago | (#47041055)

Does the definition of the word "resemble" escape you?

And since female breasts are sometimes referred to as "melons", "mosquito bites", "scoops of vanilla ice cream", and so on, the literal comparison between a penis and a rocket is quite stupid.

Re:A Contest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47040803)

The ISS has outlived its usefulness. Just give the Russians the keys to it and NASA can use the saved money on new projects. Then it will be their albatross instead of ours.

Lets get more rovers to the planets and moons. Mass produce the suckers already. NASA can land them and provide tech support, but outsource the daily tasks to universities that will do it for free. In less than a decade the greatest era of space exploration will be in full swing. Seriously, guys, lets stop trying to send men into space until there is a compelling reason. Driven by science, not politics.

Space X, you're up. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47040505)

Russia being Russia is the best thing that can happen to Space X if they have what it takes.

Re:Space X, you're up. (2)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | about 2 months ago | (#47040953)

The undercover fomenters in Kiev were Space-X agents!

they were unaware they were characters in a book (3, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | about 2 months ago | (#47041051)

I would put it past them. "Elon Musk" is a monocle and a white cat away from being a Ian Flemming villain. Youse guys really ought to hire a better quality script writer for your reality down there.

Re:Space X, you're up. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47041119)

I agree. At the very least, let this be a lesson to us, never to trust another country to be such an integral part of our space program.

Going to space is easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47040529)

We did it in the 60s. We landed on the moon. ...unless we didn't do those things.

Re:Going to space is easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47040569)

Why not stay at home and say you went?

Achieve both ends.

Re:Going to space is easy (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 2 months ago | (#47041171)

Scientific journals frown on fraud. Of course, manned missions tend to produce less important data than unmanned ones

Re:Going to space is easy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47041231)

We did it in the 60s. We landed on the moon. ...unless we didn't do those things [emphasis added].

You get a punch in the face from Buzz Aldrin!

make up for proton losses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47040551)

increase revenue to make up for the loss of proton rockets. the situation is quick... awkward... for all parties involved.

I blame consumer product safety laws (0, Flamebait)

Thud457 (234763) | about 2 months ago | (#47040555)

Not enough idiots killing themselves, now we have a surplus of lawyers overrunning our gubbamint. Simple cause and effect.

BRING BACK JARTS TO PROTECT THE FUTURE OF THE REPUBLIC!

How could it not come to this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47040557)

Who thought this was a good idea in the first place? Fortunately I love saying I told ya so!

How did it come to this? (0)

Banichi (1255242) | about 2 months ago | (#47040565)

Same way it did every other time NASA failed in a major way.
Corruption, Incompetence, and Bureaucracy.

Re:How did it come to this? (1)

CanadianMacFan (1900244) | about 2 months ago | (#47041457)

I would also include the politicians changing the direction that NASA is supposed to take every two to four years. They just get started on their priorities and their masters in Washington change bringing new orders that makes all of their previous work obsolete. It also doesn't help when NASA is also trying to be used as a jobs program so politicians try to create/keep positions in their ridings.

NASA jobs program (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47040577)

The ISS has been nothing but a poorly disguised jobs program to keep a lot of NASA employees wealthily with huge salaries while accruing fabulous retirement benefits.

Re:NASA jobs program (3, Informative)

deadweight (681827) | about 2 months ago | (#47040863)

Normally I would not even look at AC comments, but WTF? I know plenty of NASA people and no one is getting rich over there.

Re:NASA jobs program (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47040919)

Private government contractors, not NASA employees.

Re:NASA jobs program (1)

gatkinso (15975) | about 2 months ago | (#47041149)

I worked as a NASA contractor for a while, and there was not any getting rich on the green badge side of things I can assure you.

So many mistakes. (5, Insightful)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 2 months ago | (#47040591)

1. The ISS was a mistake in and of itself. The science its done wasn't worth the money. There were cheaper ways to attain the same knowledge. That money could have been better spent on other NASA projects.

2. Never trust the Russians. By all means do whatever in the name of diplomacy. But NEVER trust them. It goes back to the policy under Reagan... Trust but Verify... which really means we DO NOT trust them but we do business with them in a safe and sustainable way.

3. Allowing the US to lose its ability to go to space while the ISS remained active.

4. Not cultivating alternatives from spaceX etc that offered to fill the gap.

It goes without saying that the US is run badly these days. The politics being what they are about half the population will never admit it but such is the reality. As a people, we need to grow beyond our factionalism, find common ground, and hold our leaders to some reasonable standards. Otherwise, we'll just bounce between one faction's incompetents and the other's. Each side giving the profound incompetence of its own candidates a blind eye until they're out of political capital and then it shifts to the next guy. Back and forth.

Re:So many mistakes. (2)

Bodhammer (559311) | about 2 months ago | (#47040635)

Well said, wish I had mod points.

Re:So many mistakes. (4, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 months ago | (#47040699)

The point of the ISS wasn't really to do science in space, but rather to learn the problems and solutions of long term habitation.

Re:So many mistakes. (4, Interesting)

ArcherB (796902) | about 2 months ago | (#47040733)

The point of the ISS wasn't really to do science in space, but rather to learn the problems and solutions of long term habitation.

Right. And that is science!

I'm not disagreeing with you. The ISS is the only place to do that kind of science, which the parent you were responding to seems to think there is some cheaper way of doing.

Re:So many mistakes. (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 2 months ago | (#47040899)

I would call it more engineering than science. Learning how to build large structures in space is the only really going to be accomplished by getting up there and doing it.

Re:So many mistakes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47040963)

And all those problems turned out to be ground-based political ones...

Re:So many mistakes. (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 months ago | (#47041063)

And to learn to cooperate with other countries. Remember that most of the ISS wasn't built by the US. Why shouldn't Russia send as many cosmonauts there as it likes, if the US is unwilling to pay the price any more?

It seems like the US wasn't really all that serious about cooperation from the start. From petty squabbling over the name of the core module (which was built by Russia) to blocking China.

Re:So many mistakes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47041521)

. . . the core module (which was built by Russia)

The Russians barely met their obligations. In fact, NASA had to build their own control module [wikipedia.org] because it didn't look like the Russians were "really all that serious" in building and launching theirs. Also, NASA pushed hard to make it an international station because, quite simply, they couldn't foot the bill themselves. However, nobody else gave a shit either so NASA basically had to spend the lion's share to get it built.

Re:So many mistakes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47041371)

That's revisionist history. It is easy to say that now, after decades of failure for doing any substantive science. However, it was sold over and over and over again as the great science platform in the sky, promising cure what ails us all with the wonderful world of zero-G research. Since we had the "space bus" to rocket to orbit (every week because it would be so cheap and routine), we needed the ISS to have somewhere for the space bus to go. STS justified the ISS, and the ISS justified STS.

Re:So many mistakes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47041403)

Actually the point was to keep all those Russian rocket scientists employed so they wouldn't be off developing weapons systems for the highest bidders.

Re:So many mistakes. (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 months ago | (#47040713)

1. The ISS was a mistake in and of itself. The science its done wasn't worth the money.

The same can be said for any large, multi national project - science, engineering, 'sports'.

There were cheaper ways to attain the same knowledge.

Always. Especially in hindsight and especially before a project is started.

That money could have been better spent on other NASA projects.

See previous.

2. Never trust the Russians. By all means do whatever in the name of diplomacy. But NEVER trust them.

Don't trust ANYBODY. Including ourselves.

 

3. Allowing the US to lose its ability to go to space while the ISS remained active.

4. Not cultivating alternatives from spaceX etc that offered to fill the gap.

It goes without saying that the US is run badly these days.

Yep, Stupid. Stupid. Even for the US, it was stupid.

The politics being what they are about half the population will never admit it but such is the reality. As a people, we need to grow beyond our factionalism, find common ground, and hold our leaders to some reasonable standards. Otherwise, we'll just bounce between one faction's incompetents and the other's. Each side giving the profound incompetence of its own candidates a blind eye until they're out of political capital and then it shifts to the next guy. Back and forth.

While your goals are laudable, they are not likely achievable. Look back at the 10000 year history of 'modern' man and you see the same thing over and over again.

Might as well get used to it.

What are they doing up there? (3, Insightful)

sweatyboatman (457800) | about 2 months ago | (#47040593)

Maybe the reason more Russians are going up than Americans is because it costs $71Million to send an American.

NASA's 2014 budget is ~$17.5B, and they do a lot of really good stuff, the ISS is kinda low on that totem pole, if you ask me. There's a lot more to space exploration than sitting in the ISS, babysitting experiments, chatting with school kids and waiting for your ride

Re:What are they doing up there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47040859)

NASA's 2014 budget is ~$17.5B, and they do a lot of really good stuff, the ISS is kinda low on that totem pole, if you ask me.

I know if I had my way the IIS money would have been spend on the Alan Shepard Exo-Planet Resolver space telescope instead. But that would have probably required an Ares V to launch it....... so no. Not this lifetime I guess. SLS is a paper rocket and we'll have blown up our currency before that gets built.

And no, the JWST isn't it. Nice mission and all, but lacking the resolution and other features needed to characterize the atmospheres and surfaces of exo-planets.

So fuck it. It's China's problem now. At least until they self-inflict their own decline by reverting China to a nature preserve.

Re:What are they doing up there? (5, Insightful)

MildlyTangy (3408549) | about 2 months ago | (#47040895)

17 bil? is that all? 17 measly billion dollars a year for all of NASA?

Shit guys, get your act together. You spend more money a year on air conditioning for the US Army ( ~$20bil )

Nice set of priorities you have there.

seriously, wtf!?

Re:What are they doing up there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47041025)

Hey, goofy, why don't you do something about it? Just setup a kickstarter project and give the funds to NASA. Have a new one each year "2014 NASA Fund", "2015 NASA Fund". Any interested individual or group can then give as much as they want. Hows that for easy? But you would rather complain and try to get more tax money.

Re:What are they doing up there? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 2 months ago | (#47041153)

Still, the FY 2015 request is 3.051 billion for the ISS.

Simple (3, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | about 2 months ago | (#47040637)

Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this?

I think this one's pretty friggin' obvious. We discontinued our man-rated means to low earth orbit before we had a working replacement. It's the exact same way we lost Skylab, except we were theoretically cooperating with Russia this time, while last time we weren't. Obviously our degree of cooperation was misunderstood, and they have chosen to exploit our weakness.

Mind you, our man-rated means to low earth orbit was ridiculously inefficient compared to what it was supposed to cost, and the turnaround on our pretty little space planes was orders of magnitude worse than the week-or-two expected between launches. It was so expensive that our politicians wouldn't push for a small, inexpensive (relatively speaking) method to reach space for when we didn't need a crew of ten and a payload of ten tons. Had we spent the money to either refine the Saturn-series to make them less expensive and more efficient or started on a new project after the Shuttle finally got going then we probably wouldn't be in this predicament now.

At least it'll be good for a relative up-and-comer in SpaceX and to a lesser extent to Orbital/ATK.

This hopefully will be a lesson for not discontinuing one's own abilities before being ready with a new program, but you'd think that Skylab falling from orbit and burning up would have taught us that lesson.

Re:Simple (2)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 2 months ago | (#47041083)

Had we... started on a new project after the Shuttle finally got going then we probably wouldn't be in this predicament now.

We did. Over and over again, in fact. They all got killed off / restarted / killed off again due to politics and bureaucratic in-fighting.

Re:Simple (1)

cavreader (1903280) | about 2 months ago | (#47041401)

The X-37 program run by the Air Force has delivered a re-usable but unmanned stealth vehicle that has been undertaking military missions for almost 4 years now with little fanfare and the manned version is close to being ready for testing. I am surprised that Russia or China isn't raising a stink over this vehicle that renders damn near every satellite in orbit vulnerable to being destroyed.

Re:Simple (1)

Zorpheus (857617) | about 2 months ago | (#47041613)

China already showed that it can destroy satellites too. They left a big mess behind, but that won't be their problem if the USA decides to block their access to space anyway.

Paypal (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about 2 months ago | (#47040677)

Why do we need Russia if we now successfully can use Paypal?

Errr... I mean SpaceX.

Re:Paypal (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 2 months ago | (#47041113)

We tried to but we kept getting a popup that tried to force us to sign up for "Launch me Later"

probably related to current events. (4, Insightful)

nimbius (983462) | about 2 months ago | (#47040685)

But afterwards the bear began squeezing.

Bull. Shit. During the Russia Ukrane conflict America had a few choices.
1. Not our monkeys, not our circus. Avoid international diplomatic and military actions that may exacerbate the situation.
2. Military intervention.
3. Diplomatic intervention.

we avoided 1 entirely because this hasnt been our style since 1910. We avoided 2 because we have a 25 year track record of failed wars and coups, not to mention king georges debacle in iraq. we also dont pick fights with countries that possess a nuclear fleet or long range bombers. Three works, and it works because we're beholden as members of NATO to protect our allies. because we rely on russia very little (as does russia us) we expect to get away with what basically amounts to a great deal of symbolism.

If russia were sending more than just a shot across the bow for America to stop with the sanctions and rhetoric, it could...
1. categorically deny access to Baikonur for american companies who rely on inexpensive satellite lift services
2. gift Iran with a host of technical engineers and troops to help complete a functional nuclear powerplant.
3. Re-value or cease export of oil to the united states...its just 5% of our total consumption, but they could offer incentives to Venezuela who provide 10% of american oil to refuse service as well. still, 5% would be enough to send our stockmarkets into a brisk panic.

I very sincerely doubt Russia wants any part of a sincere challenge, so dicking with astronaut counts and the cost of a space toilet seems reasonable.

self-imposed sanctions (2)

mbkennel (97636) | about 2 months ago | (#47040715)

| I very sincerely doubt Russia wants any part of a sincere challenge, so dicking with astronaut counts and the cost of a space toilet seems reasonable

The Russians are imposing sanctions on themselves, to pre-empt the embarrassment of US doing it to them first.

"Oh, so you are thinking of ordering Lockheed to stop buying our RD-180 engine for hard currency? Nyet! We'll ban it first!"

Re:self-imposed sanctions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47041047)

Lockheed has already bought rights to build the RD-180; their profit goes up if the russians stick with this, and russia comes out behind without hard currency.

How did we get there? Washington DC bovine product (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47040723)

The X34 was working. There were some issues with the fuel tank, but the engines worked great.

Smaller, easy to maintain, fewer moving parts...

Scrapped.

It must have worked too well.

Re:How did we get there? Washington DC bovine prod (1)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 2 months ago | (#47041091)

More likely that its construction wasn't spread across enough (or the right) Congressional districts.

Re:How did we get there? Washington DC bovine prod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47041625)

The X34 was working. There were some issues with the fuel tank, but the engines worked great.

Smaller, easy to maintain, fewer moving parts...

Scrapped.

It must have worked too well.

I think you mean the POS X-33 [wikipedia.org] . It was nowhere near "working".

Ask a stupid question... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47040759)

Simple... Americans are more interested in FPS than they are in SIMS

We already know the answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47040795)

Killing people, a whole industry and entire cities/towns built from it, and its population thoroughly dependant on it with current 15year olds not knowing anything else, as if War is the norm.

Only Americas society could spend trillions in resources in War and say it was a step forward civilisation of any measure, imagine if they applied such dedication to space and generally not being a douche :)

"We choose NOT to go to the Moon..." (2)

theodp (442580) | about 2 months ago | (#47040811)

JFK: We choose to go to the Moon [wikipedia.org]

Re:"We choose NOT to go to the Moon..." (2)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 2 months ago | (#47041101)

Somewhat more inspiring than Nixon's "You know what, this whole moon thing is overrated. Let's scrap it" speech.

Re:"We choose NOT to go to the Moon..." (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 2 months ago | (#47041503)

Of course we absolve LBJ from any of this considering he had to curtail most of NASA's activities to pay for Vietnam the Great Society. [thespacereview.com] Even back in the mid 1960s Johnson's administration was looking for a way out and even contemplated doing joint missions with the Soviets. After the 1967 Outer Space treaty NASA's budget was cut, which was before old RMN was in office. Yeah, LBJ he fostered NASA for years in congress and nearly killed it in his own presidency.

How did it come to this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47040821)

New budgets every 4 years, cuts. You get what you pay for - the Russians did not cut back as much. Outsourcing seems cheap - in the beginning. Then you come to depend on it, then the prices go up and up. In space industry as in any other industry. It is the reason why outsourcing always is a loss - the other side will only work for you if they gain . . .

Americans seems to neither want the expense of developing a new rocket - or the expense of reviving older pre-shuttle designs. Fortunately, space will be explored. With or without Americans. . .

Stupid question (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 2 months ago | (#47040887)

It came to this because American politicians are short-sighted assholes who cut budgets.

Re:Stupid question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47041369)

Well, Americans voted them in, so Americans in general are probably a bit stupid in general.

A better question is ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47041019)

Why would anyone want to send anybody to the ISS, including th Russians? The article sounds like another piece of russophobia but, seriously, who cares about the ISS. Is this just a lack of imagination on NASA's part. And enough with the praises to SpaceX already. It remains to be seen if what they do is cheaper or better, right now it is just a well substantiated pile of good intentions. Sustantiated, not proven yet.

To $71million (2)

meerling (1487879) | about 2 months ago | (#47041265)

They increased the price to $71 million.
From what?
If it was previously $70 million, so what. Sure that's a lot of money to use, but maybe it was justified.
On the other hand, if it was from something like $22 million, then some big flags should have been raised in the fraud dept.

Actually in 2006 is was $22 million, but if the article is going to use the new prices as a point, it needs to mention what the previous price was, otherwise it's just an unqualified statement. Speaking of which, why didn't anyone start yelling when they more than tripled the price?

Re:To $71million (4, Informative)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 2 months ago | (#47041415)

From NASA's inspector general [nasa.gov]

After NASA retired the Space Shuttle in 2011, the Russian Soyuz became the only vehicle capable of transporting crew to the ISS. Between 2006 and 2008, NASA purchased one seat per year. Beginning in 2009, NASA started purchasing six seats per year. The price per seat has increased over the years from $22 million in 2006, to $25 million in 2010, to $28 million in the first half of 2011. During the second half of 2011, the price per seat jumped to $43 million.4 The price has continued to increase. For example, the price of purchased seats for launches in 2014 and 2015 are $55.6 million and $60 million, respectively. In April 2013, NASA signed another deal with Russia valued at $424 million for six additional seats to carry NASA astronauts to the Station during 2016 through June 2017, and the price per seat has increased to $71 million.

Re:To $71million (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47041431)

When NASA agreed to the tripling of the price, the click through agreement required no negative reviews.

Why do they call it a Station (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 2 months ago | (#47041491)

When it is not Stationary?

Russian or American? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 2 months ago | (#47041577)

Rogozin stated:

"The Russian segment can exist independently from the American one,” Rogozin said. “The U.S. one cannot."

The Russian boosted segments-- Zarya, Zvezda, Poisk Pirs total about 45,000 kg

The US boosted segments--mostly trusses, laboratories, docking modules, etc total 240,000 kg...

Now, the US paid for Zarya (the very module that enables Rogozin to claim operational independence) and the Europeans and the Japanese and the Canadians paid for various components that were lifted by NASA's shuttles. , but I'm thinking that the Russian ISS will be very much a Rump ISS.

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