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Astronauts Face Bleak Odds For Spaceflight

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the convert-them-into-aquanauts dept.

Space 359

Abhishek writes "According to a Space.com report, Astronauts at NASA fear that they won't be able to fly until 2015 and that, for some, would be too late. The space shuttles that NASA have are almost at the end of their lifetimes and any shuttle can take years to be built. Though almost everybody is involved in some way or another in looking after a shuttle, only a lucky few actually gets the chance for a ride."

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Begs the question... (5, Interesting)

tabkey12 (851759) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868321)

What do they do every day? They are unlikely to be training for a specific mission at the moment with no shuttle...

Re:Begs the question... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868361)

No it doesn't. At most, it /raises/ the question, not beg it.

Re:Begs the question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868377)

The ironing is delicious.

Re:Begs the question... (1, Funny)

christopherfinke (608750) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868364)

Duh, they form beer drinking teams [app.com] . (Official US Beer Drinking Team website [usbdt.com] )

Re:Begs the question... (1)

tabkey12 (851759) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868372)

legendary That is all I have to say

Lol... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868367)

"Begs the question..."

Re:Begs the question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868369)

They go on speaking tours to promote NASA. No seriously, that is how astronauts spend most of their time.

While waiting for specific mission assignments... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868376)

... astronauts serve other duties at NASA.

They help with planning and ground support for other missions, help with long-term planning, and serve other tasks often depending on their pre-astronaut background.

Currently, there are some working on the Crew Exploration Vehicle and Moon/Mars plans.

Re:Begs the question... (5, Informative)

Dashing Leech (688077) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868399)

"What do they do every day?"

Most of them have other jobs at NASA when not in prep for a flight, such as running a lab, program manager for a particular system, performing various analyses or engineering work, etc., plus all the PR (trips to schools, educational programs). Basically their technical/leaderhship skills are used within the program.

Well, if they want to go into space they can always take one of the new private rides which will probably get them there faster than 2015, though not for as long a stay.

Re:Begs the question... (1)

randomiam (514027) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868494)

Seriously, how long before astro-headhunters prowl the halls at NASA facilities?

Re:Begs the question... (4, Funny)

harrkev (623093) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868786)

I hear that India and China are hiring. ;)

Re:Begs the question... (1)

colmore (56499) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868624)

Wanna bet those private shuttles will be crewed by ex-NASA astronauts?

Re:Begs the question... (0, Troll)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868743)

I doubt that private enterprise would be stupid enough to build a shuttle. Burning fuel to carry all that weight to the edge of the atmosphere when you can fly it to the edge of the sky and launch it from there is pretty dumb...

Re:Begs the question... (3, Informative)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868413)

They are also engineers. Design, test, evaluate other aspects of spaceflight and operations in space.

Re:Begs the question... (4, Insightful)

buddahfool (123287) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868415)

My cousin got offered a place is the Space Program. He choose to design satelittes rather than the astronaut position. (Better money, and he later went to the private sector. Obviously he is not a geek... :)
These are highly trained and educated individuals, I am sure they being employed gainfully...

Re:Begs the question... (4, Informative)

paranode (671698) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868574)

Suppose there is not another space shuttle built by the time some of these astronauts retire. It is given then, that these astronauts will never fly again and should be fired.

That is begging the question. ;)

2 jobs (4, Informative)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868576)

"Although flying in space is the highlight of an astronaut's career, little time is actually spent in orbit. In fact, during a 10- year assignment with NASA, an astronaut will probably fly in space only three times. There is much more to being an astronaut than time spent in orbit. An astronaut's ground duties can be broken down into two major categories: training for space flight and serving as a technical expert in some portion of the space shuttle or space station programs. "

Excerpt from RedNova [rednova.com]

Re:Begs the question... (-1, Troll)

selectspec (74651) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868597)

They find more fucking useless ways to spend our money here on Earth. Taxpayers should be allowed to opt out of having to foot the NASA bill. Thank God for space debris! It only costs $600,000,000 every time they launch the shuttle.

Re:Begs the question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868745)

God forbid they try and advance the human race...

What would you have them spend the money on? And if you can opt out of paying for NASA, can I opt out of paying for anything I don't agree with?

Re:Begs the question... (2)

harrkev (623093) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868829)

And how STUPID of Queen Isabella to fund that goofy Columbus guy when Spain had other, more pressing concerns. And don't even get me STARTED on Lewis & Clark.

Re:Begs the question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868684)

Smoke bowls, listen to Black Sabbath, spank to pr0n, rinse, repeat.

Re:Begs the question... (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868751)



Well... they are more likely to make it to planet caravan with some dank nug and Sabbath than to make it to Mars with NASA

That one's easy. (0)

jd (1658) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868791)

Somebody has to staff the Macdonalds and Burger Kings around there. You think someone earning minimum wage could afford to live close enough to do that?

This has always been the case (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868324)

Since the 60s.

What really sucks... (5, Funny)

BackInIraq (862952) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868328)

...is that there isn't much need for Astronauts in our new service-based economy, so they're gonna have a hell of a time finding a new job.

Re:What really sucks... (1)

DarkMantle (784415) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868358)

Actually, with Virgin backing a commercial space flight service they could find jobs working there.

Re:What really sucks... (4, Funny)

PhotoBoy (684898) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868461)

Buzz Aldrin: Sir, please make sure your tray table and seat is returned to its upright position.
Passenger: No! Where the hell's that beer I ordered???
Neil Armstrong: It won't be a minute, sir. I just need to make one giant leap to reach the cupboard where the beers are.

Re:What really sucks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868409)

But how are Americans going to get to the moon to flip burgers in the Chinese moon base?

Re:What really sucks... (4, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868466)

...is that there isn't much need for Astronauts in our new service-based economy, so they're gonna have a hell of a time finding a new job

Well, then there hasn't been a need ever, if that's how you look at it. But try this instead: these are some of the smartest, most physically and intellectually hardy, well-rounded people on the planet. Every one of them is better equipped to teach than most teachers, better able to fly than most pilots, better able to handle stress than most soldiers/firefighters/police, better able to understand and work with complex systems than most engineers... somehow I think that someone with those skills is hardly going to be working at, well, Disney's Space Mountain ride. There are plenty of systems engineers I know making six figures that would love to have one of these folks as a boss. Just the aerospace defense area alone could gobble up the entire astronaut-trained team in any one month's hiring cycle.

Now... does holding analysis review meetings quite measure up to flying to the moon? No. Does grading orbital mechanics term papers have quite the same panache as shrieking into LEO with a billion dollar payload? No. Is my job boring? Most of the time. They'll deal with it just fine.

So you're saying... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868833)

They'll learn chinese and go work overseas?

Re:What really sucks... (1)

Tenebrious1 (530949) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868506)

is that there isn't much need for Astronauts in our new service-based economy, so they're gonna have a hell of a time finding a new job.

They could get jobs at Space Camp, you know, inspire kids to reach for the stars and end up like themselves...

Re:What really sucks... (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868682)

...is that there isn't much need for Astronauts in our new service-based economy, so they're gonna have a hell of a time finding a new job.

India and China are expanding their space program. Maybe they can become visa astronauts (B1H?). With all the damned visa workers India sends over here, at least give our astronauts some reciprical opportunities.

Re:What really sucks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868722)

in our new service-based economy

We are not even service based anymore. Services are offshored too. I don't know what the hell our economy is right now. Bullshit based? Bullshitting seems to be our comparative advantage.

Useful contact info (5, Insightful)

novakane007 (154885) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868338)

Hey NASA, I suggest you contact this guy named Burt Rutan [scaled.com] . Apparently he's pretty good at putting together elegant solutions for a relatively low cost.

Re:Useful contact info (1)

Tyler Eaves (344284) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868355)

It's rather ironic I think. NASA does things "rigoursly" in the name of safety, but in the end I think safety is compromised because systems are so complex. No one person can have a high level view of such as system.

Re:NASA does things "rigorously" (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868567)

I think that they couldn't do things that are risky because of the political effects when there are fatalities. The sad part is that they do lots of research into launch vehicles but never get the funding to build and fly the 'prototypes'. Okay, so anything that has been in planning for a few years will look old hat by the time you build it, but test flying the things and eventually remote piloted destruction testing has got to yield useful data.

Re:Useful contact info (5, Insightful)

wes33 (698200) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868394)

tell Rutan to call NASA when he knows how to put something into orbit (there is a difference between 100 km up and mach 2 and 500 km up and around and mach 25)

If Rutan had NASA's budget (4, Insightful)

RealAlaskan (576404) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868551)

tell Rutan to call NASA when he knows how to put something into orbit (there is a difference between 100 km up and mach 2 and 500 km up and around and mach 25)

If Rutan had NASA's budget, the question would not be ``Will they get into orbit?'', but ``Which planet will they orbit next?''.

Re:If Rutan had NASA's budget (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868566)

enough with the rutan idolization. it's ridiculous.

they even did the ss1 with more money than they won from winning the challange. the project is in minus.

Re:If Rutan had NASA's budget (1)

NaruVonWilkins (844204) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868701)

Minus, yes. Minus ten million. NASA is minus ten BILLION, three orders of magnitude greater.

Re:If Rutan had NASA's budget (1)

TheViffer (128272) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868671)

Exactly, you beat me to it.

FYI. NASA's proposed 2006 Budget Request is just $18 Billion and change.

But in defense of NASA, only $10.3 Billion is to be spent on exploration and operations.

Re:Useful contact info (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868453)

for a satellite launcher or a way to get to iss the shuttle is a LOT more elegant than something that can't make it up there.

yes cool stuff rutan's made... but if you want to get on the orbit on the cheap reliably better call up the russians(hell, why not just buy the whole russian space program).

hmm (4, Interesting)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868340)

Don't mistake my sarcasm for flamebait, but does this then mean that ex-commies will have to ferry our capitalist asses to space?

Re:hmm (5, Informative)

JeffTL (667728) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868403)

You don't need the future tense. Without the Shuttle, when we send someone to the ISS, we already have to let the Russians do the transportation.

Re:hmm (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868455)

Heh...Funny way to put it:-) I can see it now. "Go Soyuz, and leave the launching to us." In truth, the vehicle seems fairly safe and reliable. May as well use it. For now, it's the cheapest way to go. I bet their ontime record is better than some airlines. At least Russian airlines(I kid).

Re:hmm (5, Insightful)

FunWithHeadlines (644929) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868482)

"Don't mistake my sarcasm for flamebait, but does this then mean that ex-commies will have to ferry our capitalist asses to space?"

Why not? Current commies (China) make almost all our clothes, our toys, our machines....

Re:hmm (1)

lowrydr310 (830514) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868804)

Don't forget about our iPods...

"designed in California, assembled in China"

Re:hmm (2, Interesting)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868762)

And the genius of the Russian programme is that they took an engineers approach to the whole thing of "if it ain't broke don't fix it". So they built simple, and built to last. The mechanics are miles simpler, and are a major reason for the Russians keeping going despite budget reductions.

Maybe NASA should be made to concentrate on basic engineering rather than fancy shuttles.

What do you call an astronaut who won't fly? (4, Interesting)

FunWithHeadlines (644929) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868341)

Right, an astronot.

OK, more seriously, I think the era of NASA is in decline and the era of private spacecraft is in ascent. Some of those astronauts may yet fly, but they might have to retire from NASA to do it.

Re:What do you call an astronaut who won't fly? (2, Informative)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868717)

e and the era of private spacecraft is in ascent.

Uh, first, we have to have private spacecraft. Burt Rutan's project is about at the level of the second Mercury flight, which was suborbital.

Need to hurry up and get back out there (5, Insightful)

virex (562720) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868344)

It's amazing how far we've come in the past 36 years. We were once going to the moon, now we can't even go to space! We need to get up there, no matter how we get there. Be it spaceshipone, or the shuttles, or something new. What NASA really needs to do is stop canceling all the good ideas for vehicles. They'll let the planning and testing go on for 8+ years and then nothing comes out of it.

Re:Need to hurry up and get back out there (5, Insightful)

smashin234 (555465) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868535)

Although you are correct that it appears we are going in reverse, by not actually adopting new things, and not going to the moon or doing big missions (such as Mars.) NASA has been doing things.

Since the 70's, NASA's budget has not been the top issue (it has gone down steadily since we stopped going to the moon.) And we also no longer wanted to beat the Soviets in space (since we already did that.)

We still have the technology to go to the moon, and I would even hazard to guess the technology is there to go to Mars as well, but the money is not there.

And the testing money NASA is spending, well think about that as trying to get itself to Mars on a limited budget. If something will not work to accomplish NASA's probable main mission, why stick with it?

NASA has accomplished several smaller probe missions. But the fact is, that with such a smaller budget and the fact that we are still the main financier's for the international space station; NASA has issues with its budget right now. So, write to your congressman if you want to go out to Mars or goto the moon again, because right now its those people who decide whether we go or not. (Think oversight committee as well.)

Not only a money issue... (2)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868725)

"We still have the technology to go to the moon, and I would even hazard to guess the technology is there to go to Mars as well, but the money is not there."

I would argue to you that we have no WILL to go back to the Moon...or Mars...or anywhere else that requires putting men any farther than low orbit.

We know that no one else is likely going to another planet soon, so we go "What's the rush? Why spend the money now? It's not like anyone else is going". Doing it for science, and frankly, for history and adventure's sake alone doesn't seem to motivate us.

But let China start a manned Lunar or Martian mission; oh boy, watch how fast we send people back up then.

Re:Need to hurry up and get back out there (1)

Neurotoxic666 (679255) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868831)

It's amazing how far we've come in the past 36 years

Yes. We've lost 3 entire crews and risked the lives of others. Apparently, the missions do not justify the risks involved nowadays. NASA cannot afford to make another mistake so the costs can only go up while paranoid security measures and fear of doing something wrong make it harder to send anyone into space.

Besides, Joe Sixpack is entertained enough with the unmanned missions and the high-res pictures they send back. So why should the well-paid people at NASA want to risk their jobs? The issue is not scientific exploration vs the risks involved, but how to not risk anything. And unfortunately, the curiosity that pushes man to accomplish heroic things involves risk and always will. It's just that a public-funded organisation will never have the balls to do that, to take the risks.

Fortunately, there are people with money, and other people with huge balls that have nothing to lose. That is the future of space exploration. Private companies will risk losing personnel while NASA is busy cancelling every project due to lack of budget and high risks involved. That's how far we've come in the past 36 years.

private sector (3, Insightful)

53cur!ty (588713) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868352)

They need to move to the private sector where there are still some with the balls to boldly go...

Nasa is defunct and crippled, if it were a pet we'd put it out of its misery!

split infinitive nazi here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868444)

to GO BOLDLY!

Dammit, Jim!

...and Russia marches on! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868356)

good job USA!

Armadillo anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868371)

Couldnt armadillo aero and virgin galactic use these guys? The pay has GOT to be better than NASA!!!

First Ninnle Post! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868374)

Batman!

Blast! (1)

dustinbarbour (721795) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868375)

There goes my hopes of being the first man on Mars! I honestly think it'll be 50 years before we put a man on the red planet.. which really blows. Well, NASA won't make it happen until we axe the whole organization and rebuild it with young whipper-snappers ala the '60s. Hopefully Zubrin can convince a commercial outfit to go there.. perhaps Scaled Composites?

Are we supposed to feel sorry for them? (5, Insightful)

no parity (448151) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868380)

It's our money they spend, and it's not meant for their personal pleasure.

Is there some reason not to have human feelings? (4, Insightful)

ianscot (591483) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868534)

The answer is: Yes, we're supposed to feel some sympathy for people who spend their lives training for an extraordinary and meaningful experience, but who may not see their dream fulfilled. No, we're not supposed to be completely callous to their aspirations.

I'm a much bigger fanboy for robotic space exploration, and not much of an advocate of the shuttle program. (Nixon basically pimped the shuttle by exaggerating how cost effective it could be, in a spectacular example of how much government largesse the 'Publicans are capable of when the military industrial complex stands to benefit. IMHO, of course.) That doesn't keep me from sympathizing with astronauts who are, by all accounts, pretty impressive people.

Putting yourself in other people's shoes isn't a weakness.

Wow, only a few ever get to ride? (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868381)

That's shocking! I figured everyone at NASA took turns hopping on board and rocketing off to Saturn and back on weekends. /sarcasm
Is it REALLY part of the story that only a blessed few get to ride in the shuttle?

Work Wanted (2, Interesting)

chowdmouse (155597) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868382)

They should apply to the privatized space flight companies. I'm betting they'll have a better chance to to get into space with them than NASA.

So? (2, Interesting)

glrotate (300695) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868391)

The space program doesn't exist for their personal egos. There are a heck of a lot of things I'd like to do but will never get the chance, and it doesn't merit a /. story.

Re:So? (2, Insightful)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868668)

The point is that it's going to be hard to maintain a pool of qualified astronauts if they have no incentive to train for it because of no chance to actually go into space. You don't just pick these guys out a few months before launch.

What were they thinking? (4, Interesting)

christopherfinke (608750) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868392)

Didn't NASA realized that their shuttles were becoming obsolete? Shouldn't they already be building to next shuttle in order to avoid 15-year downtimes?

Re:What were they thinking? (2, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868508)

yes, but without budget.. no dice.

stupid management yes, mostly just about being shortsighted because of not having money. they've had dozens of plans for a replacement, but without budget to order one they remain as concepts.

Re:What were they thinking? (2, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868521)

They were thinking that the post Regan era slashing to their budget means that it's awfully hard to complete all of their mandates: scientific satelites, unmanned missions, manned mission using current (expensive to maintain) equipment, and designing and testing next generation equipment. Today the US uses the smallest percentage of their wealth for exploration of any large world power in history, heck even at the height of our spending on the Apollo program we barely matched what the Spanish did with Columbus. I think that NASA needs to do some overhauling to their PR machine if they aren't able to convince the public that they are worth more money then is currently being spent on them.

Re:What were they thinking? X-33/X34 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868536)

But they were both canceled.

Re:What were they thinking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868582)

Well they aren't building anything yet. However, they are working with several possible desings for the Crew Exploration Vehicle:

http://exploration.nasa.gov/centennialchallenge/cc _index.html/ [nasa.gov]

As was previously discussed on Slashdot:

http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/11/0 6/1950230&tid=160&tid=103/ [slashdot.org]

Launching: NASA Virgins (3, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868406)

With all their paid training they've received, they're perfect for landing jobs in the private sector. In the last year, we've seen a huge initiative for private ventures to go into space. Who better to be the vehicles' operators than existing astronauts? Throw in some stock options, and I think they'd do quite well for themselves. Richard Branson wouldn't hesitate to hire them, not just for their experience but also for the PR value it would have.

sell space station on eBay (4, Funny)

peter303 (12292) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868422)

If you could get ten cents on the dollar for the $90 billion International Space Station you could keep manned space flight going for some time.

Why does this make me want to cry instead of laugh?

Re:sell space station on eBay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868530)

Similar for the multi billion dollar slaughtering in the mid-east. Makes the ISS look great.

Re:sell space station on eBay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868673)

And where would you send those astronauts if not to the ISS? D'Oh.

Re:sell space station on eBay (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868709)

Man, I hope the buyer uses my referral link for that purchase!

Why is space flight so difficult politically? (5, Interesting)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868429)

All face an uncertain future and development of the next-generation space vehicle could take until 2015.

Why is that?

The first shuttle was built in the 70s using decades old know-how. Why has it taken so long to produce its successor?

Is it the technological challenge, or is it just politics that keeps the manned space exploration down?

Pentagon procurement (1)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868827)


This is how the procurement works, and no doubt the new craft will have some "anti-terrorism" purpose as well (to get extra budget).

a) We could just go for a low cost solution that does the job, like the russians

b) But this would mean that we couldn't give large subsidies to the R&D programmes at folks like Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

c) And it might not even be more expensive than what those pesky Europeans are doing with Ariane.

So the end result is a massive white elephant of a programme that aims at huge complex problems and will either fail, delivery 1/10th what was predicted or just massively over-run.

But this is the BEST option for the Pentagon and NASA is the massive, multi-year project on which they can all retire to the contractors who are building it.

Is it any suprise that the US still doesn't have a modern integrated Air Traffic Control system ?

steps of plan. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868454)

1. scrap current plans
2. buy Soyuz rockets from the Russians
3. invest the billions you save out on other projects like lunar colonies, exploration drones and advanced propulsion systems.

Astronaught Meeting at NASA (0, Troll)

selectspec (74651) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868458)

For many of you the goals of going into space has been a dream since childhood. Well, unfortunately, you're fired. Go get a real job. These Lego mindstorms make better astronaughts than your sorry asses. If your dream had been to be a media mogul, you might have earned enough doe to catch a flight on Branson's Virgin Rocket. But on NASA severance pay, you won't be able to afford the rent on your trailer home.

why don't they build a couple more copies? (3, Interesting)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868472)

The current design is proven, it's not like they'd have to go through the whole design process/testing again.

Just order the same parts, new, and put them all together.

Re:why don't they build a couple more copies? (4, Insightful)

ebrandsberg (75344) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868540)

a) I actually doubt they could build another, like the Saturn V rockets
b) Much of the cost of building something like this is figuring how to build the parts to spec, and chances are, they don't have the tooling in place anymore
c) The only thing the current shuttles have problem is that it is too complex and too costly to send on missions.

While politically impossible, it would be far cheaper to buy launches from the Russians to put these guys into space.

Re:why don't they build a couple more copies? (5, Interesting)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868763)

Do you really think that we lack the capability to make something that was made in the 1960s? Yes, there might be a large start up cost since many of the tools are no longer in use, but we also have technologies and automation that was unimagined in the 60s.

I have heard this argument time and again - we can't make the parts anymore, we don't know how. I am waving the BS flag on that. I challenge you, or anyone else, to point to a part used on the Saturn V rockets that can no longer be made. I am not saying that it can be made inexpensively or mass produced in a factory, but point to something that absolutley cannot be made.

Also, do you need something made to spec? What size? I'll measure it with my laser. Need to examine it for flaws? I can use my PC and a camera to look it over for you. Need an X-Ray of it? I can do the same thing. Need to check calculations? Forget your slide rule, I've got a TI-92.

In short, I doubt there is anything technologically impossible about creating more Saturn V rockets. I doubt there is even a financial reason it can't be done - NASA declaring they are spending billions to buy a new "fleet" of Saturn V rockets will motivate companies to produce what is needed for a reasonable cost (in most cases). What we really need is the political will to say this is important and we need to fund it.

No bucks, no Buck Rogers.

Re:why don't they build a couple more copies? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868588)

The current design is inefficient, expensive
(because it's inefficient,;), unsophisticated, unsecure and uneconomic. Even spare parts are rare
(remember the NASA's search for used i8086 and i8088...).

Not that easy. (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868650)

Just order the same parts, new, and put them all together.

A lot of the original tooling is probably gone. And each one is more or less a custom job, not an assembly line duplicate.

Re:Not that easy. (1)

Albigg (658831) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868729)

The tooling is gone, but the know-how is also disappearing. I read somewhere (don't have the link right now) as the engineers retire we are losing much of the knowledge that got us into space since we didn't write everything down.

postponed from fatal events that occurred? (2, Insightful)

dmf415 (218827) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868499)

The postponement could be due to past fatalities that occurred, including the 2003 incident. Maybe NASA has to develop a new machine for flight.

1 February 2003; Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-107), over northeast Texas: Columbia was in the re-entry phase of flight after a 16-day mission and its intended destination was the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Communications with the shuttle were lost at about 9 a.m. local time. At the time of the most catastrophic phase of the breakup, the spacecraft was at an altitude of about 203,000 feet (approx. 39 mi. or 63 km) and was traveling at about mach 18 (roughly 12,500 mph or 20,000 kph). While most of the debris landed in northeast Texas and western Louisiana, especially the area around the town of Nacagdoches (Knack-a-doe-chess), the breakup very likely began further west, possibly before the spacecraft passed over California. All seven astronauts on board the spacecraft were killed. The crew members were:
Michael Anderson (STS-89), David Brown,
Kalpana Chawla (STS-87), Laurel Clark,
Rick Husband (STS-96), William McCool, and Ilan Ramon.

http://www.airsafe.com/events/space/astrofat.htm

And to think when I was a kid... (5, Funny)

BHAX (865190) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868500)

When my fourth grade teacher asked me what I want to be when I grow up, I told her, "I want to be an ASTRONAUT Mrs. King". She told me I could do it, if I apply myself. Never before have I been as grateful for chronic drug abuse and not living up to my potential as I am today. It's not like the title says, "Network Tech's Face Bleak Odds for Hooking up Patch Cables"

Just the American ones? (2, Interesting)

PxM (855264) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868502)

Maybe they could jump ship and try for one of the proposed manned space programs in other countries. The pilots and engineers shouldn't have a problem finding jobs in the private sector as it begins to take off (no pun intended) since there will be a need for people who know how to get a hunk of metal moving at 7km/s on the ground in once piece. The scientists and other mission personal would have trouble finding spots in the private sector unless it becomes profitable. This would require something like feasible zero-gee engineering that NASA has always been looking at. Maybe one of the big biotech or chemical companies would pay for a science team to spend some time in orbit to do some material engineering research. However, it would be harder to get private science crews into space who can't show short term profits. This would probably require a government for funding.

--
Free iPod? Try a free Mac Mini [freeminimacs.com]
Or a free Nintendo DS, GC, PS2, Xbox [freegamingsystems.com]
Wired article as proof [wired.com]

Deke Slayton waited 14 years to fly (1)

theurge14 (820596) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868516)

He was part of the Original Seven Mercury astronauts, but they pulled him that year for a unforseen "heart condition" in 1959. 14 years later he finally flew, in the joint Apollo-Soyuz docking flight in 1975. 2015 is only 10 years away. Qwitcherbitchin'...

Lucky? (1, Flamebait)

UranusReallyHertz (567776) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868545)

I wonder if the two dead crews would consider themselves lucky?

Re:Lucky? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868618)

I wonder if the two dead crews would consider themselves lucky?

I know that comment was supposed to be a crass and cynical joke. However, given we all are going to die anyway; who is luckier someone who just dies, or someone who dies while working towards a goal they believe is worthwhile?

almost at the end of their lifetimes... = false (2, Insightful)

kulakovich (580584) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868600)

"The space shuttles that NASA have are almost at the end of their lifetimes "

This isn't quite right. The remaining shuttle fleet isn't even to the halfway point of its life expectancy. In other words, the flight-hours remaining on the airframe is greater than 50%.

Yes, we could use a more advanced vehicle, with less risk and more efficiency. But let's not go spreading rumors - the shuttle fleet is actually not old, the design is.

kulakovich

If I was rich like Bill Gates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868606)

I would start a company to created basic space capsules (3 and 6 man) that could be strapped on anybody's rocket. Then sell them to the US, Europe, Japan, China, and India.

Seems everyone wants one and only russian has one.

Private Companies (4, Interesting)

randall_burns (108052) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868615)

Odds are the Bigelow space prize [space.com] will be won well before 2015. That means a private space shuttle will be available for purchase. The best thing nasa can do is focus on scientific missions and provide a market for the contestant in that prize-instead of trying to compete against them.

Astronauts wanted... (1)

dazza101 (828114) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868619)

... in Japan [space.com] , China [guardian.co.uk] , and possibly openings soon in the European Union [esa.int] and India [indiatimes.com] ...

What happened? (2, Funny)

beforewisdom (729725) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868686)

Did NASA outsource to India?

( there go my karma points )

Move to industry (1)

lesburn1 (93956) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868704)

In keeping with "Bush's" "downsizing" of the government they could and probably should move to private industry. Having an astronaut on staff would be a big leap in credibility for most budding spacecraft makers.

Y5UO FAIL IT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11868727)

Give other peoplE PLATFORM FOR THE

If they can't get to space through NASA... (1)

Xaroth (67516) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868780)

maybe they should just enter this [promotionexpert.com] !
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