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Scientists Debate Robotic Hubble Mission

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the world-wars-lead-to-medical-breakthroughs dept.

Space 172

An anonymous reader writes "Some scientists are questioning whether the robotic mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope is worth the risk and cost. After the Columbia disaster, NASA cancelled its shuttle mission to Hubble, and replaced it with a robotic mission. However, the price tag of the robotic mission is between $1 billion and $2 billion, almost the cost of a new space telescope. Optics expert Duncan Moore is unsure whether the mission will bring the most scientific return per dollar spent. Hubble director Steven Beckwith says the mission will lead to breakthroughs in space robotics."

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*BSD is dying (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940962)

It is now official. Netcraft confirms: *BSD is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered *BSD community when IDC confirmed that *BSD market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all servers. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that *BSD has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. *BSD is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last [samag.com] in the recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.

You don't need to be the Amazing Kreskin [amazingkreskin.com] to predict *BSD's future. The hand writing is on the wall: *BSD faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for *BSD because *BSD is dying. Things are looking very bad for *BSD. As many of us are already aware, *BSD continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

FreeBSD is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core developers. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time FreeBSD developers Jordan Hubbard and Mike Smith only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: FreeBSD is dying.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

OpenBSD leader Theo states that there are 7000 users of OpenBSD. How many users of NetBSD are there? Let's see. The number of OpenBSD versus NetBSD posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 NetBSD users. BSD/OS posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of NetBSD posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of BSD/OS. A recent article put FreeBSD at about 80 percent of the *BSD market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 FreeBSD users. This is consistent with the number of FreeBSD Usenet posts.

Due to the troubles of Walnut Creek, abysmal sales and so on, FreeBSD went out of business and was taken over by BSDI who sell another troubled OS. Now BSDI is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that *BSD has steadily declined in market share. *BSD is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If *BSD is to survive at all it will be among OS dilettante dabblers. *BSD continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, *BSD is dead.

Fact: *BSD is dying

All science is good science (4, Interesting)

Amsterdam Vallon (639622) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940965)

I worked for NASA for 8 years straight out of MIT undergrad.

Though I left the rocket science "business", I have no regrets. It was a great company to work for and we did some amazing things.

That said, all science is good science, even this robotic HUBBLE mission. I helped with deployment of spacecraft and nothing was more satisfying.

This mission MUST go on else we will fail as scientists.

Re:All science is good science (4, Insightful)

InfiniteWisdom (530090) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941039)

That said, all science is good science
While true, the real question if whether that $1-2b could be spent on doing better science. Of course, merely because $2b can purchase a new telescope doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile to do a robotic mission if the science and engineering aspects involved are new and exciting enough, or if the robotic equipment could be used for future time/money saving work.

If its going to be a relatively routine job, then maybe its better to say a fond farewell to Hubble and build a new space telescope drawing on all the lessons learnt from Hubble's shortcomings.

Re:All science is good science (1)

hfis (624045) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941465)

That said, all science is good science

Well, if we disregard the whole "chemical weapons research" thing, then yeah, I guess so. Oh, and that little hiccup with the Auschwitz 'improvement' doctors.

NASA could.... (-1, Troll)

cartzworth (709639) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940968)

..try to launch a new telescope for 2 billion bucks and then watch it asplode because they forgot to do metric/imperial conversion.

Re:NASA could.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10941097)

I think there's NASA engineers in here moderating you down. Truth hurts.

Re:NASA could.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10941365)

Or maybe spend 1-2 billion converting the US to metric?

Re:NASA could.... (1)

nick-less (307628) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941468)

try to launch a new telescope for 2 billion bucks and then watch it asplode because they forgot to do metric/imperial conversion.

Well they could just replace their old crap telescope with a new one they bought from a local wal-mart for 1000 bucks.

oh wait, maybe Moores Law doesn't apply here...

Critical problem with this argument (0, Redundant)

Chairboy (88841) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940977)

When they argue that the price of the repair mission is almost that of a replacement telescope, implicent in the assumption is "If we don't do this repair mission, then we can spend the money on a replacement".

The current state of the scope is that there is NO money for new telescopes other then the Webb telescope, but it's a radio scope and not an optical one (even though it's being sold as a Hubble replacement).

Either the money is spent on repairing the Hubble or.... it gets spent on paying interest on the national debt, stays in general fund, etc etc etc.

Pick your battles. Either the money goes to astronomy in the form of repair, or it goes where all the rest of the money goes.

Webb/NGST is NOT a radio telescope! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940986)

Its a visual/IR telescope. Hubble is for shorter frequencies (visual to UV), but both are definitely optical devices.

Re:Critical problem with this argument (1)

BottleCup (691335) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940987)

Actually I would think that the robotic Hubble mission wont be a total waste if they can somehow keep those robots in orbit and reuse them whenever they need to fix Hubble again (or anything else in orbit for that matter.

Re:Critical problem with this argument (2, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941085)

Well, it is most likely that the robots will be pretty single minded about this mission. But, unlike the early apollo missions, NASA does a better paper trial and documents much better. In addition, this mission will enable us to test al sorts of new control systems for doing robotics. Some will be total manula, some semi-autonomous, and others full-autonomous. If we can get to the point where we can give instructions to robots to preform a task and not worry about how it does the task, than it allows us to send robots to future remote mission. Such as building a base on Mars. Or exploring Pluto. Or walking on a comet, mining it, and sending back chunks of it. etc.

Re:Critical problem with this argument (1)

Zeebs (577100) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940993)

or it goes where all the rest of the money goes

Well thats great, I'm all for throwing more money into blackhole research.

What do you mean there was a typo on that line of the budget?

Re:Critical problem with this argument (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941017)

The current state of the scope is that there is NO money for new telescopes other then the Webb telescope

I don't see why we can't just dust off the original Hubble blueprints and make an exact copy (but this time check the focus). There would be next to zero development costs. It would be just parts and labor.

If artificial barriers like budget classifications for "new telescope" vs "repair mission" is a problem, just say that this is a field service mission that happens to be replacing 100% of the Hubble's parts.

Re:Critical problem with this argument (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10941030)

Even with the original blueprints, some of the original parts, manufacturing processes, and even suppliers DO NOT EXIST ANY MORE.

Re:Critical problem with this argument (2, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941088)

Even with the original blueprints, some of the original parts, manufacturing processes, and even suppliers DO NOT EXIST ANY MORE.

Then FIND THOSE BLUEPRINTS TOO.

Re:Critical problem with this argument (2, Insightful)

metlin (258108) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941018)

Well said.

And besides, it's science. Who cares whether or not the money gets spent on some piece of lens up in the sky.

If the Hubble gets repaired, the money spent on the robotics can be reused and the development will not go waste. But if we were to rebuild the Hubble, there is no real progress - we're just reinventing the wheel.

And another idea is the idea of organizing a contest on the redesign of Hubble -- cheapest guys get X% of the amount as the prize money. Or something.

Re:Critical problem with this argument (4, Informative)

Bootsy Collins (549938) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941024)


The current state of the scope is that there is NO money for new telescopes other then the Webb telescope, but it's a radio scope and not an optical one (even though it's being sold as a Hubble replacement).

This was modded insightful? The Webb/NGST will be a near-IR telescope, not a radio telescope. As such, it is a partial replacement for the Hubble, as there is significant overlap in the wavelengths for which each were/will be used. If you consider perhaps the main purpose of the Webb/NGST to be high-z observations, then it's even more clearly a replacement for the Hubble.

Re:Critical problem with this argument (2, Informative)

levell (538346) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941327)

For non-sciencey types, the light from a long way away (high-z in the jargon) gets "stretched" (red-shifted by the expansion of the universe) as it travels so light that was visible when it set out on its journey has a longer wavelength ("near infra-red") when it arrives here.

Re:Critical problem with this argument (2, Interesting)

bitingduck (810730) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941164)

If there's a real desire to have a Hubble class visible-wavelength telescope in space, it's probably cheaper and lower risk to build a new one. As it is, the Hubble repair is going to eat into the budgets of other missions that are already well into development, delaying them and increasing their costs. The money to fix Hubble is going to come out of other astronomy missions (at least in part).

Repairing Hubble is fairly high risk-- not all the technology is in hand, there are unknowns on Hubble (will the robot arm have to have a hand free to bang on the door?) and there is a very real possibility that Hubble will suffer a fatal failure (battery or gyro) before the mission is launched, but after a great deal of money is sunk.

If you were to build a replacemant today, it would probably have a much lower mass mirror, possibly with a better surface quality, and there would likely be some kind of deformable mirror downstream to improve the image even more. It could also be at L2, where it would have much higher throughput than HST, and very likely could cost quite a bit less than servicing, depending on the set of instruments on board.

(and as mentioned elsewhere, JWST is infrared, not radio)

Cheaper to replace? (1, Interesting)

tonsofpcs (687961) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940982)

With all the money that goes into sending the spacecraft up, getting the robot out, having him do whatever, then having him either blow up or come down burning, wouldn't it just be easier to make a new one, add in a robotic arm or two so it can do self-repairs, and send that up?

Re:Cheaper to replace? (3, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941045)

... add in a robotic arm or two so it can do self-repairs

And of course, if it's the arms that need repairing...

Re:Cheaper to replace? (2, Funny)

tonsofpcs (687961) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941057)

Thats why it has 2, one to repair the other if it dies.

Re:Cheaper to replace? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10941178)

This wasn't supposed to be funny. It's perfectly logical.

Re:Cheaper to replace? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10941059)

Just put a second arm to repair the first.

Re:Cheaper to replace? (1)

Gentlewhisper (759800) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941317)

and a third to replace the second...

Re:Cheaper to replace? (1)

piquadratCH (749309) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941157)

Any idea how long it takes to develop a new telescope? The JWST [wikipedia.org] is in development since a few years and still it can't be launched before 2011.

Re:Cheaper to replace? (1)

tonsofpcs (687961) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941204)

I didn't say develop a new one. They can use the plans they have for the existing one (with minor modifications to allow for the advances in digital imaging technology). Also, the JWST is not a traditional optical reflecting/refracting telescope, but an infrared reflecting telescope with a very specific purpose, with custom sensors, requiring custom cooling methods (as your wikipedia link states).

Just do it (2, Insightful)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940983)

There's nothing to lose.

1) The Shuttle is a waste of time and money. It should be grounded, and the remaining shuttles given to the Smithsonian.
2) The Space Station is useless too. Time to just declare victory in the War against low Earth orbit, and bring it down.
3) The replacement vehicles suggested for the Space Shuttle are scaled-up and enhanced Apollo capsules. We should just be buying Soyuz from the Russians. It works, it's safe. We'll never use it because it was Not Invented Here. Stupid. In case you missed it, I said not using Soyuz is stupid.
4) Going to Mars in the short term is dumb. GW Bush likes the idea, and that's a bad sign, because he's a fuck stick. But besides that, it's just too soon to go. There's a tremendous amount to learn by robot right now, and that's what we are doing.
5) So, we may as well save Hubble. It's not like we have anything else that is better to spend the money on.

Re:Just do it (-1, Offtopic)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940989)

Whoever modded me troll, you obviously didn't read my post. You're a partisan, and that affects your judgement. Read the arguments, they are good ones.

Let me repeat myself: NASA seriously has a lack of direction in just about everything, and they don't have anything better to spend the money on than saving Hubble.

Re:Just do it (1)

CmdrTaco (troll) (578383) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941015)

With the defeat of John Kerry, it is now official. Headcraft confirms: *BEHEADING is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered *BEHEADING community when Headcraft confirmed that the total number of executions by *BEHEADING dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all executions worldwide. Coming on the heels of a recent Headcraft survey which plainly states that *BEHEADING has dropped dramatically after the US invasion of Iraq, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. *BEHEADING is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last in the recent Ruthless Dictators comprehensive execution test.

You don't need to be a Jailed Dictator [floogie.org] to predict *BEHEADING's future. The hand writing is on the wall: *BEHEADING faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for *BEHEADING because *BEHEADING is dying. Things are looking very bad for *BEHEADING. As many of us are already aware, *BEHEADING continues to lose market share. Rivers of blood no longer flow from headless corpses..

Ruthless dictator *BEHEADING is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core dictators. The sudden and unpleasant deaths of long time *BEHEADING evangelists Uday and Qusay Hussein only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: *BEHEADING is dying.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

*BEHEADING leader Qusay stated that 500,000 Iraqis 'dissappeard' during Saddam's regime. How many of them died by *BEHEADING? Let's see. Executions were generally carried out by hanging, bullet to the head, or *BEHEADING. With *BEHEADING being to most difficult to clean up after, let's conservatively estimate that only 5% of the Iraqis that 'disappeared' were *BEHEADED, so 500,000 / 20 = 25,000 deaths by *BEHEADING during Saddam's regime. Saddam took power in 1979, meaning his regime lasted 24 years. Therefore there were (25,000 / 24) ~ 1041 *BEHEADINGS PER YEAR during Saddam's regime. This is consistent with human rights reports. Since the US invasion, there have been approximately 50 *BEHEADINGS. Therefore there have been (50 / 1.5) ~ 33 *BEHEADINGS PER YEAR after the US invasion. Clearly, the terrorists are not as efficient at *BEHEADING. *BEHEADINGS have dropped 97% in the past 18 months. Clearly *BEHEADING is dying.

Due to the troubles of Saddam's Regime, what with it being gone and everything, massive amounts of *BEHEADING stopped and was taken over by a dismal few but high profile *BEHEADINGs that were carried out by nothing but cowardly terrorists Now *BEHEADING is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that *BEHEADING has rapidly declined in market share. *BEHEADING is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If *BEHEADING is to survive at all it will be among terrorist networks. *BEHEADING continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, *BEHEADING is dying.

Fact: *BEHEADING is dead.
Fact: *.slashdot.org is dead.

© 2004 CmdrTaco (troll)

Re:Just do it (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10941012)

Mod that parent up! (even though I only partly agree)

1) Yep.
2) Not quite, but we should finish the ISS using no more than 8 more shuttle flights, then all soyuz and USA/ESA expendable rockets. Hey, invite the Chinese to the party, too. Is it the INTERNATIONAL space station, or not? Snubbing the Chinese is a profoundly stupid thing to do; we'd be well served to have parts of the ISS coming up from China, Europe, Japan, Brazil, Russia, Canada, the USA, and anyone else with the mettle to fly vehicles there.
3) We should seriously consider buying soyuz from the russians even as we develop further launchers. Apollo had a -LOT- of things right, shame we scrapped it.
4) Going to Mars is only dumb if we don't plant roots there and establish a manned presence.
5) I wholeheartedly agree that hubble should be extened robotically. Worst case, we fund R&D for some kickass robotic technology that we can use elsewhere in space or even down here. The problem is that the max price for the robotic mission is projected at $2 BILLION (2,000 x 1,000,000). Sending a shuttle to fix it with carbon based units is a $900 Million proposition. I say take volunteers for a risky shuttle flight and fix it with humans, then spend a smaller budget on a robotic grand finale that would enhance hubble one last time followed by a remote controled electrodynamic tether that would bring hubble in to its inceneration.

Re:Just do it (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941101)

Partly agree is OK. Now, your points that I have questions about:

2) Your information is good, but I ask what purpose will the ISS serve? Without the space shuttle, we can't keep it fully manned, which is essential to science. You solution of inviting the Chinese is interesting, but still a long ways off.
3) Apollo also had a lot of things wrong, and it doesn't have the flight testing that Soyuz has. Shame we scrapped it, but we shouldn't develop a new one. The Russians already have a scale-up of Soyuz ready to build. We probably agree mostly on this point.

Re:Just do it (0, Troll)

dapyx (665882) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941123)

So, your idea is:

"Why waste money on developing science? The money would be better spent on invading another country"

Re:Just do it (1)

RWerp (798951) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941177)

You didn't read the guy's argument, did you?

Re:Just do it (1)

dapyx (665882) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941211)

Actually, no. :-)

Our eye in the Sky ... (4, Interesting)

Gopal.V (532678) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940994)

Stupid question, If it costs as much as another hubble up there , why are we not building another one and send it up again ?.

Secondly, why isn't ISS going anywhere in comparison ?. Also that's a more international project for space. I hated the canadian reference ... Also sadly the guy in charge wants to last out till Sept 2005 (you know nothing good or bad happens in the last months of retirement).

Last century, most of the world (with notable exceptions), expected america to do the Right Thing. That's past now (see the Thermonuclear reactor project) and in 4 short YEARS.

Re:Our eye in the Sky ... (1)

bitingduck (810730) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941180)

If it costs as much as another hubble up there , why are we not building another one and send it up again ?

Politics.

It's probably less expensive to replace than to repair, but replacement seems to have been pretty low on the radar. Part of that is because repair money could come out of the manned/exploration program, while a replacement would probably come out of the space science budget.

Re:Our eye in the Sky ... (2, Insightful)

apanap (804545) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941229)

There's also the fact that a robotic repair mission would serve as an excellent opportunity to learn a lot more about robotics in space, something that is very valuable in it self. Both NASA and ESA have sent up missions that do basically nothing but test new technology. This would be new technology that does something very useful other than "being new".

Re:Our eye in the Sky ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10941315)

Secondly, why isn't ISS going anywhere in comparison ?

Because the ISS is an inherently flawed project.

But think of how cool it would be... (5, Funny)

f4llenang3l (834942) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940996)

... to have robots with hands in orbit! I mean, we could make giant shadow puppets on the Great Wall of China!

Re:But think of how cool it would be... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10941077)

Just imagine the possibilities, it could...

- Knock on the door of Space Station Mir, then fly off.
- Play Rock'em Sock'em robot with the satellites.
- Give the finger to Canada when orbiting overhead (I kid, I kid...)
- Play air guitar...in space!
- Combine with other robots to make one gigantic super robot.

etc.

Re:But think of how cool it would be... (1)

databyss (586137) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941104)

silly silly AC, you can't play air guitar in space!

Re:But think of how cool it would be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10941116)

Mr. AC:

The Space Station Mir burned up into little (and some big) pieces years ago. Please try to keep up.

Why not build a new Space Telescope? (4, Interesting)

WarPresident (754535) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941001)

However, the price tag of the robotic mission is between $1 billion and $2 billion, almost the cost of a new space telescope.

Heck, you could shave a few hundred thousand off that pricetag if you built a new HST around the "backup" primary mirror made by Kodak [kodak.com] (which was figured and tested correctly). NASA would just have to get it from The National Air and Space Museum [si.edu] .

Simple, cheap solutution... (0, Flamebait)

tuxR0x (684378) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941002)

Outsource it! just send some poor soul from the third world to do the job, if the mission goes to hell...

NASA should wait (1)

NaCh0 (6124) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941003)

Robotics is too immature of a field to send into space for such a project. They would be far better off to let robotics mature on earth and put up a newer set of optics for the same cost.

Why not contract it out? (5, Interesting)

Bill_Royle (639563) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941004)

I'd suggest that the folks at SpaceShipOne could do it for a lot less money. Heck, set up a contest for it - then you're encouraging innovation in the field. With the savings you could garner you could probably divert that to other projects... or buy more $10k toilet seats.

Re:Why not contract it out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10941011)

With the savings you could garner you could probably divert that to other projects... or buy more $10k toilet seats.

Dude, get a new example. Those toilet seats were worth $10k. There's no economy of scale in space flight now, and those went above and beyond the normal toilet seat.

Re:Why not contract it out? (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941061)

No one else has the capability right now except perhaps the Russians. Scaled Composites isn't an option at this time. They don't have the skill set or the technology. From what I hear, this thing needs to get done by 2007.

Re:Why not contract it out? (1)

Bill_Royle (639563) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941100)

I'm not saying Scaled Composites specifically, but they're a good example of a company that achieved a goal that would have cost a lot more if it had been done through NASA.

Technology? No, they (being the contract-winner) probably wouldn't. But I'll bet Boeing, Lockheed or others would be happy to subcontract.

Skillset? Pay more than NASA. Noone gets hurt but the dead weight, and the intelligent engineers that get it done get rewarded much better than they would at NASA.

Yes, NASA would have a jump-start in terms of infrastructure. However, they still would have to start the project and make the product, just like a private company would. In terms of a 2007 deadline, I don't know how realistic that is timewise, even for NASA.

By encouraging competition, you get better design, better ideas and better execution. NASA hasn't seemed to have been incredibly enthused on this project to be begin with, so why not give it a try with a company that was?

Re:Why not contract it out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10941069)

You have it totally wrong. It is completely out of the scope of Scaled Composites' capabilities to fly a robotic servicing mission to hubble.

Also, remember the telescope will be dead most estimate by 2007, leaving any prospective savior zero time to design a mission. If you don't start building the hardware -now- you are not going to succeed.

Now, if you want to do something with scaled, how about giving Burt the $2B and see what kind of telescope his gang could come up with and subsequently fly...

Re:Why not contract it out? (3, Interesting)

bhima (46039) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941098)

In order to reach the Hubble a Soyuz would have to be launched from the equator rather than Kazakhstan (where they are now currently launched). As it so happens, the Russians have signed a deal with the European Space Agency to allow them to launch Soyuzes from French Guiana starting in 2006. Additionally the costs of launch are so low, that 3 missions to Hubble could be planned for less than the one mentioned here, or two shuttle missions.

Still I'd like to see James Webb Telescope in place...

Re:Why not contract it out? (2, Insightful)

Bill_Royle (639563) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941105)

Another good point.

Since when is it an acceptable project or endeavor only if a US space agency takes part? If it can be done by the Russians, good for them.

The sentence "It's good for science" isn't exclusively a US phrase.

Re:Why not contract it out? (1)

dasunt (249686) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941248)

...or buy more $10k toilet seats

Googling, I find that you are off by about two orders of magnitude on the price.

I'm seeing a range of $150-$650 for the seats.

Still spendy, but if you consider the costs of an engineer for a few hours, the requirements of said seat, and the small volume manufactured, it make a lot of sense, and seems reasonable.

Consider, you need an engineer.

You need to do a bit of research (a toilet designed for one G doesn't work the same in zero G).

You need to figure out what materials will work (NASA probably has strict tolerances for flammability, weight, and strength, for obvious reasons.)

You need to figure out how it will interface with the rest of the system (attachments, clearences, etc).

You need to build a prototype or mockup and test.

In the end, you have a very small production run and sell a small quantity to NASA.

Now do you understand the cost?

Re:Why not contract it out? (2, Insightful)

jjn1056 (85209) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941300)

What do you think NASA does? They do outsource HUGE amounts of work to various companies to build stuff, they don't build it all themselves.

Gosh, everytime we have some sort of problem in goverment, why do so many people think that simply shutting down the goverment agency and handing out huge wads of cash to companies will solve it?

Look at what Haliburton did in Iraq. Arguable the Army Corp of Engineers could have done a lot of that work for less.

It will be years still before commerical interest and technology improvements will allow a non government sponsered agency to pull something like this off. I'm not discounting the amazing achievement of the SpaceShipOne people, but a short, suborbital flight was something NASA was doing back in the 1960's.

Someday technology improvements will push costs down to the point that something like this will be some kid's high school science experiment. But that is not today.

$2 billion for a repair mission? (1)

TheShadowHawk (789754) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941005)

Wow.. that's a lot of money for a repair mission!

Surely there could be some money savings if they examine exactly what that money is all going towards? (ie less admin costs)

I know it would cost a lot to get it in and out of the lower earth orbit, but $2 billion?

Just smells a bit fishy to me...

$2 billion?? (2, Interesting)

Joel from Sydney (828208) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941006)

I have difficulty comprehending how something can cost that much.

How urgent are these repairs to Hubble? Realistically speaking, if NASA is only debating to whether to spend $2,000,000,000 now, it's going to be several years before anything gets off the ground. So clearly the repairs aren't that urgent. Wouldn't it then make more sense to spend the cash and resources on improving/fixing/replacing the shuttles, so that we can safely send humans to do the job?

Re:$2 billion?? (1)

Aquillion (539148) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941166)

You have to understand that virtually every part of every item you're sending into space has to be custom-designed and custom-built; and they all have to work perfectly the first time or the entire mission could be at risk. 2 billion is a lot, sure, but it's not that much when you realize that they're going to have to basically build entire new industries from scratch just to get some of the parts they'll need.

Re:$2 billion?? (5, Interesting)

eclectro (227083) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941253)

Wouldn't it then make more sense to spend the cash and resources on improving/fixing/replacing the shuttles, so that we can safely send humans to do the job?

I really think that NASA has a lot of dirty little secrets that no one on the outside knows about, and after this last accident they probably looked close and hard and realized that the number of places the shuttle could catastrophically fail is more than they originally thought.

If there was another shuttle failure (even if it did not result in the loss of life) I suspect that there would be a noticeable chorus to dismantle the agency, that cannot produce very much more than kitsch science and photo ops with school children on the ground.

Though unspoken, I think the three strikes and you're out rule may be in place here. NASA since apollo has always been an agency with self-survival first in mind, so I would not be surprised if they find a way to retire the shuttles to museums.

So much as replacing the shuttles - I do not think that this will even be considered for the next decade as the cost is too steep. It was hard to justify the shuttles when they were first built (and the reason that the space station was built) in the seventies.

But as can be seen, the space station can work with cheap Russian rockets that are more reliable than the shuttle.

The Hubble was designed so it could be serviced by the shuttle (the other justification for the shuttle). But if the Hubble was designed so that parts could be replaced by dockable unmanned rockets, we would not be in this position we are today with it. For an instant, if the power supply and gyros were on a small module that could dock using conventional rockets. But it is not.

When O'Keefe said that a repair mission to Hubble was "too dangerous," people should have recognized that that was code words for "we need to ground the shuttle permanently now."

The fact is that there are earth based telescopes that are catching up in performance to the Hubble. Add to that the fact that the Hubble is old technology, it's pretty obvious that it's time to move on.

It truly would be a better decision to take the many lessons learned from Hubble design and repair and put those in a new telescope, and send it to orbit on a unmanned rocket.

Engineers, not scientists (3, Interesting)

fuzzy12345 (745891) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941008)

I'd say that the people doing cost/benefit analyses and robotic repair feasibility studies are engineers, not scientists. The guys that got hung out to dry by the early mirror troubles, the ongoing gyroscope troubles and the recent "drop everything: We're going to Mars" troubles, they're scientists.

I can see de-orbiting an old, useless analog comsat as being sensible. But for stuff which would otherwise continue to usefully function for years or decades, write-off due to non catastrophic failure ought not to be the natural option. The US space program suffers from an attention deficit disorder.

Re:Engineers, not scientists (2, Interesting)

johansalk (818687) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941044)



Here's my conspiracy theory of the day; "drop everything: We're going to Mars" is just a distraction to screw those atheist astrophycists who are dabbling in things they shouldn't (origin of universe etc).

Shut them up, those big bangers.

Re:Engineers, not scientists (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941264)

Here's my conspiracy theory of the day; "drop everything: We're going to Mars" is just a distraction to screw those atheist astrophycists...

The problem with that is that it implies intelligence. I think that pure stupidity is to blame here.

Re:Engineers, not scientists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10941397)

The US space program suffers from an attention deficit disorder.

Must be the President.

Get Dick Cheney to cover it. (2, Funny)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941016)

He's got plenty of money, what with all the billions Halliburton has bilked the American public out of. What is the tab now? About 200 BILLION?? So what's a billion??

Re:Get Dick Cheney to cover it. (1)

Shut the fuck up! (572058) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941026)

Shut the fuck up, you hand-wringing liberal faggot.

Money Pits in Space? (1)

MrNybbles (618800) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941020)

"If the cost hits $2 billion, that's three to four times what it would cost to send astronauts to do the job as they have four times before and as NASA planned before the Columbia disaster."

Although we have got a lot of good from NASA and the technology they developed, the shuttle seems to be a giant money pit sucking up money that could be spent on maybe a replacement for the current shuttles. Sure the current shuttles are reusable, but after the Colombia disaster they were used a lot less than what they were going to be.

NASA does seem to like hanging on to everything and I just hope the Hubble Space Telescope doesn't become a moneypit like the shuttles or an excuse to keep the shuttles in service.

(Yes, there was that event where some private people went into space, but currently that's not even close to replacing the shuttle.)

Oh well, that's just my opinion and like Dennis Miller I could be wrong.

A funny parallel (3, Funny)

LucidBeast (601749) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941027)

I have an old Toyota thats about 16 years old and I kind of have the same dilema...

Though, on the second thought, this problem doesn't involve robots.

Re:A funny parallel (1)

cablepokerface (718716) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941226)

Though, on the second thought, this problem doesn't involve robots.

Yeah? You'd be surprised how hard-headed those car mechanics can be.

You gotta hand it to Toyota though, they sure build cars to last.

We should outsource... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10941033)

the mission to India [slashdot.org] , it would be way cheaper.

send the shuttle up there (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941040)

If there's anything currently in orbit worth the risk of a space shuttle mission, it would be the servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA's administration hasn't put forth a compelling reason why they should be much more risk adverse than they were before. Frankly, it appears to me that the Hubble Telescope is just a pawn in some political game.

Re:send the shuttle up there (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941076)

NASA's administration hasn't put forth a compelling reason why they should be much more risk adverse than they were before.

It's not really the administration. I'm sure they care about the astronaut's, but if the money, the approval, and the astronauts informed consent are there I'm sure most of them would happily send them up.

It's the American People, and our reaction to losing people (no matter whether they wanted to be there or not) that is the source of the fear. If NASA screws up again soon and anybody dies, they probably fear they will be dissolved. Don't know if that's a real problem... I consider it more likely they would simple be emasculated such that they were still a huge money sink, but too underfunded to actually do anything, a sort of "worst of both worlds" scenario.

The perceived value of a single human famous enough to show up on television continues to rise. This has obvious implications in other domains I won't spell out. It is also instructive to compare how our rapidly our society is increasing the valuation of people who can get on the evening news, vs. those who can not. Food for thought; I wish I could just feed you unquestionable conclusions on these subjects but I'm no more capable than anyone else.

(Sarcasm: The solution is obvious. Astronauts who die show up on TV and cause too much negative publicity. Therefore, staff the space shuttle with, oh, say battered husbands or some other group of people that just gets largely ignored. Then, even if the Space Shuttle kills everyone aboard, it'll be just a blip on the CNN scroll bar, if that...)

*chuckle* astronaut's [OT] (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941081)

A swing and a miss. During preview I noticed the phrase "astronaut's consent" needed an apostrophe, but I hit the wrong instance of "astronauts". Oops. I should know better than to post at 2:30am local time.

I found your lost apostrophe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10941257)

You left it here:
I'm sure they care about the
astronaut's, but if the money, the approval, and the astronauts informed consent are there I'm sure most of them would happily send them up.
;)

Why crash it into the ocean? (5, Interesting)

mykepredko (40154) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941047)

If they're not going to fix it, I'd like to understand why they must crash it down into the ocean? If they're going to send a propulsion module up there, why don't they move the Hubble to a Lagrange point between the Earth and moon?

I realize that it will probably take years to get there but I've seen a few proposals for future space stations being placed at the Lagrange points - wouldn't it be nice if they had a high-quality (maybe not as good as when launched) set of optics waiting to be used in a station observatory? I realize that there is a (very) good chance of this never happening, but it seems a damn sight better than crashing Hubble into the Pacific.

myke

Re:Why crash it into the ocean? (1)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941139)

Sorry baby but I had to crash that Hubble.

-Butch

Re:Why crash it into the ocean? (2, Insightful)

bitingduck (810730) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941145)

I'd like to understand why they must crash it down into the ocean?

Because the stuff on it that's not expected to totally disintegrate has too large of a footprint and is statistically dangerous. The primary is going to come down as a big hunk of hot glass, propellant tanks will probably survive, as well as some other bits.

It's also cheaper to build a new telescope than it is to try to figure out a way to get the existing HST into a station in some other orbit.

Re:Why crash it into the ocean? (4, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941197)

1) It's unsafe to all the other things (including people) to leave unneeded space junk up there.

2) The propulsion module needed to deorbit is much smaller and therefore cheaper to build and launch than one to move it.

3) Moving it then requires keeping it in place and also repairing it, if it's to be useful.

4) After moving it, it would still be nice to be able to dispose of it once it's no longer worth maintaining.

5) You do realize there's a plan to put the replacement [wikipedia.org] at the (Earth-Sun) L2 point, right?

What's the debate? (3, Insightful)

dshaw858 (828072) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941049)

I don't quite understand what the debate is. Even if the mission fails and billions of dollars are "wasted", it will not all be in vain. Using robotics like this are exploring a new frontier of space exploration. The first few manned shuttle orbits weren't risky? Of course they are! The Columbia accident proves that they still are today. Money is valuable, but exploring new scientific frontiers is much more valuable.

- dshaw

Re:What's the debate? (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941202)

NASA is always short of cash, and I think we could probably learn a lot more by sending up 4 replacement hubbles and using them than trying a robotic repair mission that leaves us without any telescope at all.

It's not the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10941058)

the price tag of the robotic mission is between $1 billion and $2 billion

That's really a drop in the bucket for them. They just fear that after they do it, they'll issue the repair command sequence and the damn thing will retort "I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that..."

Put on the space elevator... (2, Interesting)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941060)

What they ought to do is put the money towards designing a space elevator. They could stick a telescope...or somehow get the hubble...onto the mass that would hold the carbon fiber ribbon taunt. Then they could just climb up and down the elevator to make repairs. This would be cheaper (per trip...not as a whole project), and a heck of a lot more innovative than making robots to fix Hubble.

"If it works.... (1)

hkht (828161) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941080)

"If it works, it provides the agency another inspirational victory -- perhaps as amazing as the astronauts' first flight to repair Hubble's flawed mirror in the early 1990s, opening the way to an endless stream of science breakthroughs. It could mean Hubble gets to fly through at least 2013, another decade or so of discovery." - these statements are enough reason enough to move ahead with the mission. nasa needs to get the public, especially the kids excited about such a mission. get the public to endear this robot and we will all be inspired.

Cake and eat it too... (0, Redundant)

djupedal (584558) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941083)

Why not spend the monies on a robotic mission to build a new 'scope.

C'mon people...we don't always have to choose between lowering the water or raising the bridge.

That said, I'm puzzled why the Hubble guy is pushing robotics. That's like a popsicle sales manager suggesting the company start selling hotdogs, instead of finding a way to improve sales of raspberry 'sicles.

I cant help but think that... (4, Insightful)

deft (253558) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941093)

This money might be better spent on terrestrial research right now.

Look a story down at the hydrogen development... this could change the world on a much bigger scale than anything...effecting us right here ont eh ground right away. 2 billion can do so much good right here.

Yeah, I sort of hate the idea of not looking toward the stars even for a moment, but look around here, things are pretty messed up, and I dont like the dependence on gas and oil. 2 billion could go towards alot of infrastructure for hydrogen cars.

Re:I cant help but think that... (1)

Graymalkin (13732) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941238)

What is not needed is hydrogen powered cars but a viable means to generate the power to make hydrogen (energy) readily available for everyone. Molecular hydrogen as demanded by the "hydrogen economy" is very simply a medium with which energy is physically transfered. Gasoline is as much of an energy transport medium as hydrogen.

Both hydrogen and gasoline can be used to generate electrical energy, gasoline and its hydrocarbon cousins however release the carbon part of their hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons can be an excellent source of hydrogen and can be manufactured and transported relatively cheaply. If they're originally generated via a renewable process you can get a carbon-neutral system. The carbon pumped into the air will be used in photosynthesis by plants used to make more hydrocarbon fuels.

Two billion dollars is a lot of money but it would get used in a lot of inappropriate ways if it went towards deconstructing our oil economy. There is enormous vested interest in the status quo of the oil industry. Those interests far exceed a relatively paltry two billion. Any research funded by said two billion would be met with ten times that amount in sabotage (FUD, physical sabotage, political chicanery) by groups threatened by such research. The money being spent to further the sum of human knowlege would end up in the long run being more effectively used. The research in robotics and telepresense could be used immediately on the ground to help normal every day people.

Weening our society and economy off oil is going to take a lot more than two billion dollars. It will require not only research dollars but also a great deal of social and cultural change. Meaningful conservation efforts would go a long way to make our current energy generation and transport system more effective and longer lasting without needing fancy new technologies. Fancy new technologies would then serve to make those meaningful conservation efforts even more meaningful and effective.

Re:I cant help but think that... (4, Insightful)

wass (72082) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941302)

This money might be better spent on terrestrial research right now.

Yeah, and all the research money Faraday, Maxwell, Marconi, Rutherford, Bohr, Watson+Crick, etc wasted on mere 'science' would have better been spent perfecting metal bearings for carriage cartwheels, right?

Look a story down at the hydrogen development... this could change the world on a much bigger scale than anything...effecting us right here ont eh ground right away. 2 billion can do so much good right here.

Umm, you might want to take a look at the projects funded by DOE. Many of them are in the realm of better energy resources, including hydrogen power, as well as fusion.

I dont like the dependence on gas and oil. 2 billion could go towards alot of infrastructure for hydrogen cars.

Apples and oranges, 2 billion for funding 'hydrogen car infrastructure' doesn't necessarily have to come from Hubble. Besides, if Hubble were cut, chances are that the money 'saved' would just be diverted to Iraq or otherwise be lost in a myriad of other government pork.

Anyway, you're pretty short-sighted. Like I said before, if the world were populated with people like you, than today we'd have highly-optimized horse-drawn carriages and cobbled roads, without the money-wasting inconveniences of digital electronics, for example.

for $2,000,000,000 ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10941110)

can't we just go dust off that buran thingy [wikipedia.org] ? It was fully robotic in 1988, yes?

If the robots are ocean-bound anyway... (3, Funny)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941128)

If, as I understand it, the robots would be brought down and destroyed after the mission anyway, why couldn't NASA get some more use out of them?

Put cameras on them with a feed to Earth, this is not that hard to do. Have the two robots slug it out in orbit over the Pacific, maybe with the moon as a backdrop, and drop 'em into the Pacific after that.

It probably strikes as a bit off-the-wall, but could have several benefits...the sale of advertising during the program could pay a decent bit of the bill, and hey, we need to do SOMETHING to get people aware that yes, there actually is something out there past the atmosphere. Might raise support for funding in several ways...for one, not needing so much of it (the advertisers), and for another, raising public awareness.

Yes, I'm advocating a publicity stunt. That's what seems to get people's attention.

Re:If the robots are ocean-bound anyway... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10941143)

This is really stupid, wouldn't work and will never happen.

Re:If the robots are ocean-bound anyway... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10941151)

We should crash the damn thing into Celine Dion's house, there is a publicity stunt for ya.

Re:If the robots are ocean-bound anyway... (1)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941163)

That works too, wonder if they'd let me run the controls?

Re:If the robots are ocean-bound anyway... (1)

anum (799950) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941261)

Now that's a fund raiser.

About time... (3, Interesting)

ca1v1n (135902) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941174)

It's about time we had robots that could fix orbiting devices. Two billion is a bargain. Oh, yeah, and it might just save one of the most scientifically energizing pieces of space hardware ever flown.

mod Up (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10941189)

a conscious stand the project one 0r the other dead. It is a dead Hand...don't

Large Binocular Telescope (4, Interesting)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941219)

The University of Arizona is currently working on the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT)- see: http://www.nd.edu/~science/core/binocular/index.sh tml [nd.edu] . The thing has twin 8.4 meter mirrors- their light gathering power is equivalent to a single 11.8 meter telescope, and their resolving power is equivalent to a 22.8 meter telescope. It is supposed to have more light gathering power and much sharper images than Hubble http://www.nd.edu/~science/core/binocular/lbt_othe rtelescopes.shtml [nd.edu] . Supposedly the LBT is be able to get around the blurring from the atmosphere by using adaptive optics- deforming the secondary mirrors to correct for distortions. They claim that the construction costs are $80 million. So, an order of magnitude more resolution for an order of magnitude less money. If it performs even close to specifications, it sounds like a good deal. The dedication ceremony has already taken place and the thing is supposed to be operational in 2006.

Re:Large Binocular Telescope (1)

Shag (3737) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941291)

80 million seems a little low, perhaps, since I think I've seen single 8-meter-class telescopes up on Mauna Kea cost more than that. But then, there's the cost of getting stuff up Mauna Kea, too. :)



Anyway, yes, there are certain advantages to terrestrial facilities - being far cheaper is one of them. That derives largely from the absence of the cost of getting them into orbit, of course. You can also make things so big they won't fit on a rocket, etc.



Of course, there are limitations, as well. Want to observe ultraviolet-wavelength energy? Head for space - the atmosphere absorbs most of it. Things past UV on the spectrum might also be easier to observe there.



Oh, and Hubble doesn't care about terrestrial weather. I can assure you the LBT is going to get a lot more grief from high thin cirrus clouds than Hubble does. :)

Re:Large Binocular Telescope (4, Insightful)

wass (72082) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941357)

Supposedly the LBT is be able to get around the blurring from the atmosphere by using adaptive optics- deforming the secondary mirrors to correct for distortions.

Hmmm, yet another post that assumes telescope resolution is the one parameter that determines which telescope is best. A quick analogy would be to claim which is better - a monitor resolution with 1024x768 at 24 bit color, or 3200x2400 resolution with 1 bit color. The answer, of course, is that it depends on your application.

Questions about this project:

  1. Adaptive Optics (AO) usually need a reference star nearby, or an artificial star produced w/ laser. What limitations will this produce in the images?
  2. How does this limit the area of the sky they can look at?
  3. What is the wavelength 'bandwidth' of the telescope, accounting for atmospheric absorption as well as sensor design?
  4. A good deal of astronomical science is done with spectra. What artifacts are introduced into the spectra through absorption and emission lines of the atmosphere?
  5. What artifacts are introduced to the spectra through artificial star for the AO?
  6. How long are the integrations that this telescope observe for? Hubble Deep Field was integrated for 150 orbits (10 days). Can this project integrate for a similar time, observing similar magnitude faint galaxies (sometimes individual photons), while maintaining a similar SNR?
  7. What is the limit for observing faint objects with this groundbased scope? Ie, the noise floor of a ground-based scope is much higher due to scattered 'light pollution', and it would be harder to see fainter objects.
So basically, image resolution is only one of several important factors and limitations in doing astronomical science.

I work at NASA (but do not speak for NASA) (4, Insightful)

Audacious (611811) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941254)

The problem is which way will people whine about the most. When astronauts are lost NASA is bombarded with "Save the Astronauts!" slogans. Lots of BS about why we should send robots instead of people.

Then when the price tag for sending robots into space is talked about people start screaming "Why are we doing that? Send astronauts instead! It's cheaper."

It is decisions by committee and it works in the same way as if you were driving a bus down a multilane freeway at the beginning of rush hour with a cloth tied over your eyes. Your only method of knowing what to do is what everyone on the bus is trying to tell you. So everyone gets to scream out what they want the bus driver to do and then he tries to react to the orders. And just like the bus - NASA is going willy-nilly down the freeway trying not to hit anyone, trying to apease each and every person on the bus, and to reach the destination each and every one on the bus is screaming at them to go to. It is a thankless, almost impossible task to perform.

The people of America need to realize just how stupid their over-the-top reactions to problems with space travel are. This isn't Star Trek, BattleStar Galactica, Star Wars, or any of the other truly great (IMHO) space shows. The physics alone are no where near the same. Yet these TV/Movie shows are what are held up as being totally correct and truthful. Further, when someone dies (as in Star Wars when trying to take out the Death Star) no one goes "Wait! Oh my GOD! Think about the insurance! Oi-vey! What about the children? His/Her wife/husband? Friends, relatives, and countrymen? Who's going to pay for all of this?" Everyone goes "Oh Wow! Did you see that? His head flew off into the window next to where Luke was trying to save Obiwan!"

So what am I trying to get at? The country needs to decide, once and for all, whether it is worth the lives of our astronauts to send people into space. If it is - stop complaining and start supporting that way of going into space. If it isn't - stop complaining about the cost and lend your support to the cause. The main thing is - you can't have it both ways. Either people are going to die up there or we are going to probably bankrupt the country trying to build a robot capable of doing everything a human can do.

And don't think that just because businesses are starting to get into the space business that things are going to change for the better. The problem isn't going to go away just because you've changed who is going into space. It doesn't work like that. You are still going to have people dying up there if you send them up there. You just will have more of them dying at one time. Just like in an airplane crash.

So come on America! Make up your mind! People or robots?

Re:I work at NASA (but do not speak for NASA) (1)

runningonair (834528) | more than 9 years ago | (#10941353)

I agree with most of what you are saying but unfortunately America is not a person but a mob and what do mobs do? Believe what ever they are told on TV, the popular press etc.
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