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NASA Hopes Discovery's Move Is Not The Last

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the go-go-rocketship dept.

NASA 81

An anonymous reader wrote to mention the movement of the space shuttle Discovery. The upcoming mission, if it launches, is crucial to the future of American manned space flight. From the Washington Post article: "A successful flight will allow NASA to resume construction of the half-built International Space Station and possibly extend the life of the beloved Hubble Space Telescope, which has allowed humans to peer into far galaxies. But with the shuttle fleet due to retire in 2010, any serious problems during July's mission likely would bring a premature end to the shuttle program and disrupt NASA's plans to keep its skilled work force intact while a replacement spacecraft is being developed."

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The Fingers-crossed-crew (1, Insightful)

Wolf von Niflheim (945658) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371379)



Imagine being part of the crew of that new flight when the article says: "HOPING to leave behind problems exposed by the 2003 Columbia disaster". I would certainly have my fingers crossed...

Re:The Fingers-crossed-crew (1, Offtopic)

Decker-Mage (782424) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371469)

I'd volunteer in a heart-beat whatever the dangers are. The Shuttle, despite NASA stupidity, is far safer than taking the freeway on our side of the pond. Hell, get me up to the ISS and you'd need armed guards and crowbars to pry me out of there. To insure the continuation of the race, and by that I mean the whole human race we need to get off this fragging planet. NASA ain't gonna do it, near as I can tell. I hope someone does.

Re:The Fingers-crossed-crew (1)

JonathanR (852748) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371733)

Why the imperative to continue the human race? What would it really matter if the species homo-sapien became extinct? I'm sure other species would celebrate.

Re:The Fingers-crossed-crew (1)

cnettel (836611) | more than 8 years ago | (#15373663)

Exactly what species are you thinking about that would:

a) care
b) be able to celebrate (considering what our extinction might also mean for the rest of this planet)
c) have the cognitive abilities to celebrate?

Re:The Fingers-crossed-crew (1)

gorilla_au (912640) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374248)

The Apes would take over.

Re:The Fingers-crossed-crew (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15371745)

Two of the five shuttles have been lost. I don't think two of every five cars is catastrophically lost on the freeway.

Re:The Fingers-crossed-crew (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374420)

Hell, get me up to the ISS and you'd need armed guards and crowbars to pry me out of there.

I know the feeling - I've put on weight the past few years as well

To insure the continuation of the race, and by that I mean the whole human race we need to get off this fragging planet.

Who is offering this insurance?

Who gets the payout in the event of a claim?

But in all serious, no. The earth is currently supporting 6 billion human beings - there are some problems - we are running low on soil nutrient, and clean water. And for some reason we like to burn the remains of our long dead ancestors (and the forests they lived in) as a way of generating energy, which cause numerous problems - climate change and reliance on a limited resource for both manufacturing and energy. But these are issues of behaviour and habit, a lack of self reflection on the part of those who want to leave rather than address the problems does not change the underlying cause - habit. A little like destroying your marriage by refusing to wash the dishes. And notably, these things (soil nutrient, water, balanced atmosphere) aren't present anywhere else.

So you can rail against the Earth if you like, I think the Earth is heart wrenchingly beautiful, full of promise and memory, plenty large enough for a lifetime of discovery, learning and reflection. I suspect that anybody who thinks otherwise probably hasn't seen enough of it, or thought enough about it to form a valid opinion.

Re:The Fingers-crossed-crew (2, Insightful)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374443)

To insure the continuation of the race, and by that I mean the whole human race we need to get off this fragging planet.

Right. And the goldfish in that bowl on the table needs to leap up out of the water, too.

Get real. The human race is based in and of this 'fragging' planet, and inseperably part of the earth's biosphere. We cannot 'run away' from the problems here. The planet Earth would need to be replicated to a higher degree than we are even yet capable of understanding before we can 'run away.'

A human being is not a discrete individual being, there are countless symboitic organisms that must travel with us.

The dogma that drives your hysterical need to 'get off this planet' is just a further extension of the old 'Manifest Destiny' thing. Modern, intelligent people know that we have to solve our problems here and make this planet a better place to live, we can't just bumble off to find new living spaces to foul. Hell, this is the best suited biosphere we will ever find to live on. We just need to stop fucking it up, to be blunt. And the vapour trail of tons and tons of rocket blasts people like you insist on blowing off ain't gonna do it.

I didn't RTFA (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15371400)

It's about money and _not_ fighting terrorism?

Ah... I'm bored. Hate you, americans. This site sucks ass.

A humble suggestion to NASA (4, Interesting)

helioquake (841463) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371405)

Abandon the ISS now and channel all its investiment to the next generation space shuttle.

If you don't want to kill the ISS completely, then focus on maintaining the ISS in orbit while developing the new generation vehicle (you could do this with a conventional booster). The use of the current shuttle should be restricted to non-ISS issue only.

Building something that cannot be used until the next generation space shuttle becomes available (for supply and emergency evacuation, etc) isn't exactly a smart thing to do.

Have courage and let go the ISS for now.

Re:A humble suggestion to NASA (2, Interesting)

salle_from_sweden (896798) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371429)

The European and Japanese can ship the parts for the ISS. If NASA isn't going to continue with their shuttle program the Indian and Chinese space programs will have more time to catch up to the US and I guess Europeans too.

Re:A humble suggestion to NASA (2, Interesting)

helioquake (841463) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371454)

The European and Japanese can ship the parts for the ISS.

No they cannot. They do not have the proper means to deliver right now (both Arian and H-II are wrong for the size of the ISS payload, nor do they have experience in rendezvous maneuver with a station).

But if they want to, they should be definitely welcome to that.

the Indian and Chinese space programs will have more time to catch up to the US

No. If the NASA keeps its focus on the ISS only, then these nations would have time to play a catch-up (they are still about two decades behind NASA, mind you...but that doesn't mean it would take two decades to catch up, btw). If the NASA wants to stay on top, the next generation space vehicle is the place to put the money on.

And at this time, the NASA'd better do it right. And the congress shouldn't interject its stupidity into the new shuttle program like they did in 1960s.

Re:A humble suggestion to NASA (2, Interesting)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 8 years ago | (#15372023)

Take a look at the Automated Transfer Vehicle [wikipedia.org] . It's ESA (So not affected by NASA), and specifically designed to move stuff to the ISS and then burn up on re-entry with the waste. It launches on an Ariane 5, which has more than enough raw lifting capacity.

Re:A humble suggestion to NASA (2, Insightful)

Keebler71 (520908) | more than 8 years ago | (#15372779)

Wrong... the ATV (and HTV) are cargo vessels only - akin to Russia's Progress vessels. By cargo we are talking food, water and underwear - and in the case of the HTV a small quantity of external payload. Neither can come remotely close to carrying an ISS module. The Space Shuttle is the only spacecraft currently capable of this.

Re:A humble suggestion to NASA (2, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 8 years ago | (#15372444)

Congress did NOT cause the shuttle program. That was a pure nixon program in the early 70's. NASA fought against it, but accepted it in the end.

Re:A humble suggestion to NASA (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374432)

The European and Japanese can ship the parts for the ISS.
No, they can't.

They have no experience with automated rendezvous, and the payloads are designed to 'hang' in the Shuttle's cargo bay as opposed to 'sitting' on the payload ring of a conventional booster. (Not to mention they depend on the shuttle for power, cooling, communications, etc...)

One could develop an adapter to handle these problems - but such development would take years.

Re:A humble suggestion to NASA (2, Interesting)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371446)


Building something that cannot be used until the next generation space shuttle becomes available (for supply and emergency evacuation, etc) isn't exactly a smart thing to do.

Do you really think NASA is that stupid? The ISS is supplied and evacuated by Russian Progress vessels. It's always been the plan to use the Shuttle to build the space station, and use Progress vessels to supply and man it after it's built. What do you think has been being used to keep ISS going for the past 3 years?

Re:A humble suggestion to NASA (4, Interesting)

helioquake (841463) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371466)

The NASA's guideline for the use of the ISS facility is this: the ISS can be staffed to the maximum number of astronauts that can be evacuated off the station in case of emergency.

With a Soyuz pod, the maximum number of staff is limited to three. And currently there are only two ports available on the ISS (so theoretically they could go up as high as six today).

In a fully configured mode, the ISS should hold at least three international teams (US, Europe and Japan, say). Each team has about 5 -- 6 staff scientists on board to conduct a variety of experiments. So it needs to staff about 15 or more people. There is no conceivable way to achieve that right now, because of the next generation shuttle problem (or a lack of thereof).

That is what I meant by my original post. I think others got it, though.

Re:A humble suggestion to NASA (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371487)

If that's the case, then I don't see how having the shuttle available is a whole lot better. NASA doesn't have a shuttle just sitting around waiting for launch for a rescue mission.

Re:A humble suggestion to NASA (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371983)

NASA is pretty stupid, yeah. They've been using the wasteful, fuel inefficient beast with the tendency to explode and drop shit for a long time with no justification, after all.

Re:A humble suggestion to NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15372259)

Russian Progress vessels.

Actually, that would be Russian Progress wessels.

Re:A humble suggestion to NASA (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15371462)

Yes, NASA gave us advances in computer tech, metallo-organics and composite materials, that SleepNumber thingie... But that's about it, nothing new is EVER going to come out until we get ~light-speed travel, no matter how much cash we dump on NASA.

Time to stop wasting money on outdating hardware to throw up into the sky, and start spending on research. We milked that cow dry, now let's move on!

I would suggest we invest those billions of $$$ in IT/quantum computing, neuroscience, and molecular genetics. And stop wasting our tax dollars on sending oudated junk into space.

Re:A humble suggestion to NASA (1)

helioquake (841463) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371498)

Time to stop wasting money on outdating hardware

Not "outdated", it's called "absolutely reliable" and "radiation hardened".

Humble? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15371562)

Hardly humble, that's an arrogant American centric suggestion. It's the INTERNATIONAL space station. Not America's space station. Not NASAs. Other nations have a say in this you know.

Re:Humble? (1)

flobberchops (971724) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371936)

You mean like the Intarweb is International? (claimed ownership and regulated - IANA - by the US) Like space is International? (militarised by the US). Like the polar regions is "international"? (militarised by the US mostly). Like international countries is "international" (Invaded and listening posts and army bases by the US). There is no such thing as "international" its all USA biased.

Re:Humble? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15372300)

Like space is International? (militarised by the US).

Actually, USSR was the first with military-use sats. But is space militarized? well, notbody is suppose to have anything up except for spy sats. If that is all, I would not call that militarized

Like the polar regions is "international"? (militarised by the US mostly).

You have to be kidding. The antartica has not US mlilitary presense except for pure research. In the artic, we still patrol with subs and ice breakers the same as Russia, Britain, France, China, Japan, etc. And we certainly have no more presence there than anybody else.

Get a grip. There are things that we do that is wrong (invasion of Grenada, Panama, and Iraq comes to mind; certainly W's approach to IANA, but that will change with the next president), but simply trying to heap crap on us is ridiculus and invalidates your arguments.

Re:Humble? (0, Troll)

jhylkema (545853) | more than 8 years ago | (#15372355)

certainly W's approach to IANA, but that will change with the next president

You mean when the ignoramus Americans elect the next neocon fruitcake that Fox News and Rush "Oxy" Limbaugh tell them to vote for?

Re:Humble? (0, Offtopic)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 8 years ago | (#15372486)

McCain would have won it hands down. Now he is pandering to the far right wing. In particular, he is now pushing Intelligent Design as well as suggesting that perhaps these deficits are not so bad. From where I sit, I now have to wonder how easily he can be bought.

That also makes me wonder what exactly was his role in the keating5. We have had a string of immoral, unethical and/or illegal presidents (nixon, reagan, clinton, and W). In addition, we have had 2 that have no concept of deficits (reagan and w). We do not need more.

At this point, I would no longer say that McCain is an easy shoo-in.

Re:Humble? (1)

Reverend Raven (135361) | more than 8 years ago | (#15372524)

Ha ha. We are not told who to vote for, there are just more Americans that support the right than the left. This country is more than the vocal fringe elements on the coasts.

Re:Humble? (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 8 years ago | (#15372794)

You mean more "Americans supported the right than the left." Have you noticed how the policies of the left always take hold and become the new middle over the course of a few years? The heartlands do what the coasts tell them to do. All your media are belong to us.

Re:Humble? (1)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 8 years ago | (#15372522)

Hardly humble, that's an arrogant American centric suggestion. It's the INTERNATIONAL space station.

I know that if *I* buy and pay for something, I consider it to be *mine*.

Re:Humble? (1)

Kelerain (577551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15373075)

I don't believe NASA, or most Americans would have much trouble with any other nation stepping up and keeping the progress going on the space station while NASA works on internal issues. Other nations don't realy have a say, if you mean in forcing NASA to single-handedly continue development of the space station.

Cheers!

Re:Humble? (1)

iamlucky13 (795185) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374677)

So you're suggesting that the rest of the countries actually pay for it?

Ok, my above words would be flat out flamebait if I didn't qualify them a little further. The US is by far the biggest investor in the ISS. Some of the modules and components come from Canada, ESA, Japan, and Russia, but most of the operational expenses come out of NASA's budget, with I suppose Russia second. If any of the above, except Russia, pulled out today nothing would happen. If the US or Russia pulled out of the project it would be leaning over the brink. If both did, the thing would hit the ground within a couple years.

A very large part of the reason NASA is committed to keeping the shuttles running until 2010 is to finish the station and make good on the international commitment to the project. We're not backing out on this. Not that I agree with what the grandparent proposed, but keep in mind what the US has put into this project next time you feel like getting indignant at someone for forgetting to be fully inclusive in their speech.

Re:A humble suggestion to NASA (1)

Rxke (644923) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371703)

Nonsense. There are no plans at all for a next generation shuttle in the near to intermediate future.

For now (semi)expendable boosters are the way to go, shuttles are technically too complex hence not cost-efficient. I'd think the current line of shuttles has proven that more than adequately, no?

SSTO, real reusable shuttles are quite a way off.

Re:A humble suggestion to NASA (2, Insightful)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371761)

***Abandon the ISS now and channel all its investiment to the next generation space shuttle.***

Regretably, that's more easily said than done. The I in ISS stands for International. It's International because when Reagan's misbegotten "Space Station Freedom" predictably ran out of schedule and funding simultaneously along about 1993 we sold a bunch or suckers on making this useless and rather silly project an International effort. So, the US doesn't own the thing any more.

As far as I can see, it really doesn't matter very much. The Bush league fantasies about going to Mars via the space station and the moon are probably going to flounder sometime just before or after we get back to the moon for a day or two. Reason -- cost overruns and the fallout from Bush's nutty fiscal policies.

In the meantime, these man in space projects are going to continue to drain resources from real science.

The only bright spot is that George W seems possibly to have somehow put someone competent in charge of NASA -- quite possibly for the first time ever. Griffin is an advocate of men in space and human settlement of space. But he also appears possibly to have some sort of tenous grip on reality. If the politicians will just leave him alone, maybe he can come up with a realistic plan to back up to 1970, forget the last 35 years of floundering, and set up a space program that has some remote chance of eventual success. But don't expect the path from where we are today into space to be quick, easy, or cheap. (And don't expect the free market to somehow fix everything).

Re:A humble suggestion to NASA (3, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 8 years ago | (#15372411)

put someone competent in charge of NASA -- quite possibly for the first time ever.

Yeah, James webb who got us to the moon in 8 years, was incompetent

As far as I can see, it really doesn't matter very much. The Bush league fantasies about going to Mars via the space station and the moon are probably going to flounder sometime just before or after we get back to the moon for a day or two. Reason -- cost overruns and the fallout from Bush's nutty fiscal policies.

Actually, if the USA can get heavy lift rockets and our own mission to their working, we will probably be ok. The reason is that private enterprise is not really interested in going to space for spaces sake. They want to go to the moon/mars and start exploration. They will also build small hotels to help fund it, but all this requires heavy lift capablities running at least once a month (or more) to be low cost enough.

Re:A humble suggestion to NASA (2, Interesting)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 8 years ago | (#15373337)

Utter nonsense. We've got a 747SP sitting in a hangar, victim of a budget cut. The plane was modified with an infrared window, a large infrared telescope, and named SOFIA. That was an international project too. It's also COMPLETE. As in, it needs to be run through trial tests and it's operational.

We cut SOFIA and fucked the German partners. Why not just cut the ISS? SOFIA was going to give us IR astronomy results that would have blown our socks off, just like we all collectively ejaculate whenever Hubble produces another piece of good science and pretty pictures. The ISS has barely even given me solid wood - it's clear which mission should be cut.

Re:A humble suggestion to NASA (1)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 8 years ago | (#15376624)

***We cut SOFIA***

Don't blame me. If it had been my call, we'd be spending money on science, not bizarre experiments in imperialism. (Wrong century for that). The bad news is that you can expect a lot more of this in the out years when the results of the current administration's fiscal whackiness come home to roost. I suppose there could be all sorts of reasons for delaying/cutting SOFIA and that some of them might be valid. But on the surface it looks like a worthy project.

***and fucked the German partners.***

Dumb bastards. That'll teach those sauerkraut slurping ninnies to try to talk us out of sailing into Iraq with guns blazing.

***Why not just cut the ISS?***

Because that would require some leadership and sound decision making? If I recall correctly, Michael Griffin is not a fan of the ISS. Having a NASA head who will actually say publically that the space shuttle and ISS were mistakes is surely a step in an unfamiliar direction that looks like the right direction to me. But it'll take more than one guy to turn our space program around.

2010 (5, Funny)

DJTodd242 (560481) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371445)

Well of course Discovery is going to retire in 2010. It'll be destroyed when Jupiter is imploded by the Monolith.

ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE. USE THEM TOGETHER. USE THEM IN PEACE.

Re:2010 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15371824)

Goodbye HAL, we hardly knew ya.

Re:2010 (1)

blugu64 (633729) | more than 8 years ago | (#15372106)

that was a great book.

Re:2010 (2, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15372196)

ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE.

That was totally a marketing bluff from the aliens, and we all know this really means "SHIT, FORGET EVERYTHING AND COME TO EUROPA RIGHT NOW."

Plus, why not land there. Are they hiding weapons of mass destruction or somethin'?

I have to agree (2, Insightful)

briancnorton (586947) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371451)

The ISS serves no purpose other than international good-will. It is scientifically irrelevant, ridiculously expensive, and not safe for the inhabitants if we can't rely on the space shuttle to get up there. Fuel it up, pull the people and keep it in orbit as long as possible or until we need it for something.

Re:I have to agree (4, Insightful)

rackrent (160690) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371463)

My understanding is that both the concept and design of the ISS were contingent on the Space Shuttle offering convenient flights to help build the thing. It wasn't uncommon to have one Shuttle flight each month back in the so-called heyday.

What's failed is that the international, co-operative vision of the ISS kept on going even while the Shuttle fleet was realized to be an aging dinosaur, at best. Had the Shuttle been more reliable over the past decade, the ISS would be vastly different than it is now.

Re:I have to agree (3, Informative)

vondo (303621) | more than 8 years ago | (#15372393)

We go through this every time with you shuttle fan-boys:

What is this hey-dey you speak of where we were launching shuttles to ths ISS every month:

2002: 5 missions, 4 to ISS
2001: 6 missions, all to ISS
2000: 5 missions, 4 to ISS

NEVER have we sent a mission a month (for more than thre months) to the ISS.

Look it up for yourself.

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlem issions/list_main.html [nasa.gov]

Re:I have to agree (2, Informative)

DoktorTomoe (643004) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371493)

and not safe for the inhabitants if we can't rely on the space shuttle to get up there.
Deaths in manned spaceflight since beginning of the Shuttle Program] USA: 14 [STS-51-L and STS-107] RUSSIA: 0 (last confirmed death: Komarov, Soujuz 1, 1967... ) Really, no way to get inhabitants up there safely ;)

Re:I have to agree (2, Informative)

DoktorTomoe (643004) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371510)

Correction: Last confirmed Russian death is those of the cosmonauts of Soyuz 11 on June 30th 1971

However ... Sojuz seems a lot more reliable to me...

Re:I have to agree (2, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374492)

However ... Sojuz seems a lot more reliable to me...
You are right, Soyuz seems to be a lot safer.

Mostly it seems so because it's numerous failures and problems (with the exception of Soyuz 1 and 11) are little known outside of Russian space program. (During the Soviet era they told niether the US, nor their own people.) However an account [jamesoberg.com] of just the re-entry and landing problems makes for frightening reading - and leaves out the two launch accidents and multiple loss-of-mission accidents/incidents.

The next argument people make is usually the same one that you did, "Soyuz hasn't killed anyone... lately". Let's put that in perspective shall we? Between STS-26 (Return To Flight post Challenger) and STS-107 (the loss of Columbia) the Space Shuttle flew more flights than the Soyuz has in it's entire history.

Finally, we have the current Soyuz model, the TMA. It's flown eight missions to date, with accidents or serious incidents on four of those eight flights.

The moral? When you have a spacecraft with an ongoing history of problems - it's not a safe spacecraft, no matter whose flag is on the side, and even if it hasn't killed anyone 'lately'.

Re:I have to agree (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371919)

Not only has the shuttle failure highlighted the reliability of Russian conventional booster technology, the political situation seems to be helping the ESA align themselves more with Russia than the U.S. And that makes some geographical sense.

Re:I have to agree (3, Interesting)

wertarbyte (811674) | more than 8 years ago | (#15372503)

That's because the science related modules [wikipedia.org] have to wait for the shuttle (or an equivalent). There is no other way to lift the european Columbus module - where "real science" could take place - into orbit.

Re:I have to agree (1)

iamlucky13 (795185) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374713)

"Scientifically irrelevant"...I'm sorry, what other platform allows direct monitoring and control over long-term microgravity and exo-atmospheric experiments? Perhaps the benefit/cost ratio of the experiments is questionable, but there is not currently anything equivalent to the laboratory capabilities it offers.

The ISS has supported several hundred past and present science experiments [nasa.gov] and the numbers will pick up fast once the remaining modules are added and the crew is increased to a standard full complement of 6.

Star Wars (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15371453)

"A successful flight will allow NASA to resume construction of the half-built International Space Station and possibly extend the life of the beloved Hubble Space Telescope, which has allowed humans to peer into far galaxies. But with the shuttle fleet due to retire in 2010, any serious problems during July's mission likely would bring a premature end to the shuttle program and disrupt NASA's plans to keep its skilled work force intact while a replacement spacecraft is being developed."


Zoom to Yoda: In danger, international space station is.

bad link (0, Troll)

FOSSguy (971853) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371524)

On digg.com they have a function to mark a story 'bad link'. We need that here, since the link to TFA in this instance requires a login :-/

Re:bad link (1)

WoodieR (860635) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371785)

login with bugmenot ;)

Jerry Pournelle has the answer YET AGAIN! (4, Interesting)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371525)

--------
http://www.jerrypournelle.com/topics/gettospace.ht ml#prizes [jerrypournelle.com]

Jerry Pournelle Wrote:

"I can solve the space access problem with a few sentences.

Be it enacted by the Congress of the United States:

The Treasurer of the United States is directed to pay to the first American owned company (if corporate at least 60% of the shares must be held by American citizens) the following sums for the following accomplishments. No monies shall be paid until the goals specified are accomplished and certified by suitable experts from the National Science Foundation or the National Academy of Science:

1. The sum of $2 billion to be paid for construction of 3 operational spacecraft which have achieved low earth orbit, returned to earth, and flown to orbit again three times in a period of three weeks.

2. The sum of $5 billion to be paid for construction and maintenance of a space station which has been continuously in orbit with at least 5 Americans aboard for a period of not less than three years and one day. The crew need not be the same persons for the entire time, but at no time shall the station be unoccupied.

3. The sum of $12 billion to be paid for construction and maintenance of a Lunar base in which no fewer than 31 Americans have continuously resided for a period of not less than four years and one day.

4. The sum of $10 billion to be paid for construction and maintenance of a solar power satellite system which delivers at least 800 megaWatts of electric power to a receiving station or stations in the United States for a period of at least two years and one day.

5. The payments made shall be exempt from all US taxes.

That would do it. Not one cent to be paid until the goals are accomplished. Not a bit of risk, and if it can't be done for those sums, well, no harm done to the treasury."

------------

The problem is our GOVERNMENT DOESN'T WANT TO DO IT

Re:Jerry Pournelle has the answer YET AGAIN! (2, Insightful)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371548)

Interesting idea, but as you say, the US Govt doesn't want to do it.

So how about the UN, EU, China, and Middle East step up and do something like that? Middle East money is plentiful, Chinese production is cheap, Japanese technology is excellent, European engineering is suberb.

We'd get it done in no time... if it wasn't for effing politicians.

Re:Jerry Pournelle has the answer YET AGAIN! (3, Funny)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 8 years ago | (#15372073)

Middle East money is plentiful, Chinese production is cheap, Japanese technology is excellent, European engineering is suberb.

Of course, politics would ensure we'd get Middle East technology, Chinese engineering, Japanese money and European production costs.

Re:Jerry Pournelle has the answer YET AGAIN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15377171)

... and American arithmetic

Re:Jerry Pournelle has the answer YET AGAIN! (2, Informative)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374399)

Chinese production is cheap,

Every day at work I evaluate parts made at our Chinese manufacturing facility that is 'cheap Chinese production.' There is this strange myth that processes and capital can just be airlifted to China and the machines turned on and the quality will be the same. That is a myth, and a frightening myth when it comes to anything that will be flying overhead.

I am sure there is (expensive) high quality Chinese production. I know firsthand that the cheap Chinese production is terrible. When there are problems and the memos start flying across the timezones, it becomes obvious that the highly regimented culture in China isn't going to foster innovative technology anytime soon.

Re:Jerry Pournelle has the answer YET AGAIN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15371923)

It sounds like a good concept, but thst is too risky for any public company to attempt. If they fail, they will have lost millions or billions of dollars.

I think that the government would have to pay a few million to each viable team, and even let them borrow NASA engineers for a little while.

Re:Jerry Pournelle has the answer YET AGAIN! (2)

AusIV (950840) | more than 8 years ago | (#15372004)

I agree whole heartedly. NASA, back in its early days, was a great program. Today, it needs to be scrapped. We keep funneling taxpayer dollars into a system that has been going backwards since before they space shuttle program was ever even started. I can't even begin to fathom why our government wants to keep dumping money into this system, when they could just promise rewards as Pournelle suggests, and watch the ingenuity of competitive industry take its course.

Re:Jerry Pournelle has the answer YET AGAIN! (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375602)

I agree whole heartedly. NASA, back in its early days, was a great program. Today, it needs to be scrapped.

NASA is what it has always been, an organization burdened by various politicians abusing it to boost their careers. Scrapping it would simply make those creeps take another target.

I can't even begin to fathom why our government wants to keep dumping money into this system, when they could just promise rewards as Pournelle suggests, and watch the ingenuity of competitive industry take its course.

Well, to build a Lunar base requires money, and lots of it. Small companies simply don't have the resources to attempt it, and the large ones aren't really that different from any other large bureuacracy.

You just can't put a spacecraft together in someone's garage with a shoestring budget, as early airplanes were; the sheer amount of fuel needed keeps that from happening. That's one of the reasons why we haven't seen much improvement in space technology in recent decades: it just costs too much to develop and use.

Other reasons are that the rest of the technology (material science, computer science, engines, aerodynamics, etc.) had to catch up. Sooner or later the other fields of technology will pull spacecraft construction forward with them. That's how technology advances: rapid advancement in one field starts to slow as it gets ahead of other, supporting fields, making further advances are more and more difficult and cost more and more, then attention turns into those other fields fields, giving them a boost, and eventually they're so far ahead that they slow down and attention turns back to the original field.

Re:Jerry Pournelle has the answer YET AGAIN! (2, Interesting)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 8 years ago | (#15372535)

There's a small matter of the companies surviving long enough to accomplish the task and collect the reward money. I know that I'd have trouble finding billions of dollars in my couch to fund such a project with no guarantee of ever collecting the reward or of costs not soaring way beyond the reward amount.

Re:Jerry Pournelle has the answer YET AGAIN! (1)

grozzie2 (698656) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374667)

Did you ever stop to think and consider maybe that's the reason you dont run a large corporation ?

Re:Jerry Pournelle has the answer YET AGAIN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15373013)

Your #5 is useless. The amount of debt accumulated to achieve any of these would be greater than the prize. Thus no net profit thus no taxes.

Oh, and also no takers.

HINT: You DO NOT need to pay anything if the job is profitable. Since it is not, paying anything to "private" company is equal to paying to NASA. Well, at least NASA's research is public domain and not riddled with patents. So I'll take NASA.

Re:Jerry Pournelle has the answer YET AGAIN! (1)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 8 years ago | (#15373639)

"So I'll take NASA."

That's working out SO well, isn't it?

Re:Jerry Pournelle has the answer YET AGAIN! (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374510)

The problem is our GOVERNMENT DOESN'T WANT TO DO IT
No, the problem is that Jerry Pournelle, like a lot of Space Cadets, has this fixed idea in his head the somehow the US Goverment is responsible for making their dreams reality. The idea that commercial developments are generally funded by the market - and the lack of realistic profit opportunities, doesn't bother him one bit. Apollo, done by the goverment, provided him and his ilk with decades of masturbatory fantasies - and he and others like him now view it as their birthright to have their fantasies fueled at taxpayer expense.

SM4 needed (2, Informative)

tonymtdew (976074) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371868)

This is regarded by folks at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD (where they design and engineer the Hubble and parts for it) as Servicing Mission 4. When I was last there in March, the scientist the designed and built the mass spectrometer for it told me that its current one is no longer working. It had actually outlived its expected age by around 50% I believe. Furthormore, this will be the last servicing mission for the Hubble. After that, the hopes is to have the new and much more powerful telescope flying. Some facts- GSFC is just on the outside of Washington, DC- it is a HUGE campus. I was lucky enough to be able to get a behind the scenes tour from where the build the hubble's twin for parts in an enormous clean room, to where they test satellites for launch, etc. They handle unmanned space missions here. They control Hubble in Baltimore from Johns Hopkins University.

Re:SM4 needed (3, Interesting)

Jubedgy (319420) | more than 8 years ago | (#15372235)

"They handle unmanned space missions here."

They handle *some* unmanned space missions here. JPL out in Pasadena, handles quite a few unmanned missions as well. There used to be a fairly strong rivalry between the two, in fact, but I believe that that has started to go the way of the Hatfield vs McCoy rivalry.

The GSFC campus *is* huge, by the way, and the JPL campus is relatively small and on a hill.

One of the best things about the JWST (James Web Space Telescope, the follow-on to Hubble) is that it will primarily detect infrared frequencies (iirc) so it will be much more suited to do cosmological observations than Hubble. Will we finally nail down the true value of the Hubble Constant? Can we determine the values for the constants of integration from solutions to Einstein's Field Equations? Will Snakes on a Plane truly be the summer blockbuster movie that its name implies?

Re:SM4 needed (1)

LooseChanj (17865) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374759)

NASA's just manifested a placeholder for another hubble mission, which would be STS-125. It depends how tests go on this next flight, but I've heard both the astronauts and NASA administrator would really like to see it happen regardless.

Re:SM4 needed (1)

quarkscat (697644) | more than 8 years ago | (#15376027)

Yes, SM4 is needed, but not the one originally scheduled. The original SM4 was the EOL (End Of Life) mission, which would handle the decommissioning (removing solar panels, installing retro rockets, etc.) The dream of stowing HST into the SST cargo bay and bringing it home had long been abandoned. SI upgrades have already been built, as well as platform maintenence modules (gyros, etc.) So a real servicing mission SM4 is really needed, as well as an EOL SM5 in 2010. The SST program is in too much turmoil to count on for either mission. Politics, bad management, and lackidasical Congressional funding has all but killed off the SST program, and by default the HST AND (eventually) the ISS. (Thanks, GOP!)

I had the pleasure and privilege to work at Goddard SFC for nearly five years, related to HST control center software as well as support of SI testing programs. I have never seen such a talented group of dedicated personnel, before or since. At this juncture, even NASA itself is at risk of survival, given the current (and enduring) political environment.

Hurricanes? (2, Interesting)

jginspace (678908) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371895)

I just read about this on the BBC and they say it isn't due for lift-off until early July. So they expect to have it standing out there for nearly two months? What's the situation re the likely chance of a hurricane sweeping through the neighbourhood during that timeframe? Or is it safer there than where it was?

Re:Hurricanes? (1)

hazee (728152) | more than 8 years ago | (#15373677)

Even if there aren't any hurricanes, it seems crazy to leave it parked outside, right beside the sea for a couple of months. Salty sea air is a corrosion nightmare.

Plus simple rain of course, and cold nights, etc...

I can't for the life of me imagine why they wheeled it out now, rather than keeping it safe and warm in the vehicle assembly building until the last possible moment - say, the day before launch.

Dubious Assumptions (4, Interesting)

Bombula (670389) | more than 8 years ago | (#15371984)

A successful flight will allow

That's a pretty big leap, in my opinion. I honestly don't mean to be a troll, but the shuttle has more or less proven to be a dangerously unreliable machine. So saying that a single successful flight will, ergo, guarantee subsequent successful flights is a bit like playing Russian roulette and figuring everything will be fine in the future as long as there's no bullet in the chamber this time. It just isn't very sensible.

Maybe it's just the wording, but it seems to me that it would be better to say something like, "despite the very high risk of catastrophic failure involved, NASA will attempt to continue to fly the space shuttle in order to maintain the ISS," since that would at least be honest and accurate.

Re:Dubious Assumptions (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15372314)

The shuttle isn't all that dangerous. What is dangerous is when the management folks won't listen to concerns the engineers have and allow potentialy fatal problums to remain unchecked. You can trace the root cause of BOTH shuttle accidents back to that.

Is the shuttle perfectly safe? No... But neither is getting up out of bed everyday and walking out your front door. It's a risk but an acceptable one if the management will do their jobs and put reasonable safety first, innovation second and go from there.

Re:Dubious Assumptions (1)

cornface (900179) | more than 8 years ago | (#15372788)

That's a pretty big leap, in my opinion. I honestly don't mean to be a troll, but the shuttle has more or less proven to be a dangerously unreliable machine.

How safe should strapping yourself to giant rockets and shooting yourself out of the earth's atmosphere be?

Just curious.

Re:Dubious Assumptions (1)

Arimus (198136) | more than 7 years ago | (#15379202)

Hm, walking to work carries a number of risks, drinking beer ditto, flying on a normal plane ditto.

You can never avoid risks and when you consider the extreme conditions which the shuttle is designed for the risks, when put into perspective, are there but they are manageable.

Face it, the end of US spaceflights is near! (2, Interesting)

malsdavis (542216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15372094)

People who think NASA is going to replace the Space Shuttle with an entirely new system allowing regular manned trips to space are kidding themselves. US based manned space flight will be a rare thing in the future, there's simply no political will to continue it anymore.

A sad end to a once great US endeavour which was the envy of the world, but hey there's always the war on terror, look how popular that is making us, and at only 20 times the cost!

If you're an astronaut, DON'T READ THIS (1)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 8 years ago | (#15372496)

NASA rolled the space shuttle Discovery onto a launch pad on Friday hoping to leave behind problems exposed by the 2003 Columbia disaster and begin a final round of flights

The posted article is, um.... not a confidence booster for astronauts. So if you're an astronaut click here [whitehouse.gov] for a more politically correct article.

Re:If you're an astronaut, DON'T READ THIS (1)

tonymtdew (976074) | more than 8 years ago | (#15372667)

If you are an astronaut, you know whether or not the problem has been fixed. You also know the risks involved.

It all went bad when ... (1)

Evil Pete (73279) | more than 8 years ago | (#15373768)

It all went downhill after that fault was found in the AE-35 unit [everything2.com] .

Hmmmm. Check this [2001spacesuit.com] . Not sure if I'm more impressed or saddened.

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