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ISS Construction Resumes

ScuttleMonkey posted about 8 years ago | from the old-meets-new dept.

125

avtchillsboro writes "The NY Times has an article detailing new construction on the International Space Station (ISS) and the additions via coming Space Shuttle missions through 2010. From the article: 'For more than three years, the International Space Station has floated half-built above the Earth. Maintained by a skeleton crew, the station — an assemblage of modules and girders — has not come close to its stated goal of becoming a world-class research outpost. But now construction, which has hung in limbo since NASA's space shuttle fleet was grounded after the 2003 Columbia disaster, is scheduled to resume. The shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to lift off next Sunday carrying a bus-size segment of the station's backbone that includes a new set of solar-power arrays.'"

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GNAA campaign against PHP and ZEND bears fruit (0, Troll)

verbam (996671) | about 8 years ago | (#15946087)

GNAA campaign against PHP and ZEND bears fruit

Impi - Diplomatic Corp, South Africa

The ongoing war against PHP by the GNAA has finally produced results that are a step in the right direction. GNAA have been aggressively involved in a campaign to educate the public at large about the tremendous control that MOSSAD has over the development of PHP and the subsequent clandestine information gathering technology that has been implemented by Jewish developers.

The co-founders of Zend, the PHP Company, Zeev Suraski and Andi Gutmans are known Israeli MOSSAD agents; they were recruited by MOSSAD during their formative years at the Israel Institute of Technology.

On Friday, 28 July 2006, Jani Taskinen, aka _sniper_ resigned from the PHP development team. FYI: I don't care at all what anybody thinks about me. I'm going to be openly anti-Israel from now on. This was the last straw for me. Fuck you Jews. I will also quit this project. As long as it's backed by some Israel company, I don't want to have anything to do with it. Good bye.

This was a direct result of the ongoing war against Hezbollah which has been backed by the USA and primarily been driven by the information gathering technologies embedded in PHP by Zend.

Several GNAA members who were also part of the PHP development team have also resigned in solidarity with Jani Taskinen.

timecop, the glorious president of the GNAA has reacted in the wake of these events by extending an invitation of honorary lifetime GNAA membership to _sniper_, for having courage in his convictions.

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About Zend

Zend is an Israeli funded body that is controlled by MOSSAD.


About PHP

Crap.


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Re:GNAA campaign against PHP and ZEND bears fruit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15946096)

hey, klerck.org has been overtaken by a domain squatter. You might want to update your files.

Cost Versus Utility (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 8 years ago | (#15946091)

The International Space Station is a novel idea and I've always supported countries working together. After reading the Wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org] on its costs, I have to question its utility versus the cost. The European Space Agency estimates it to be around 100 billion Euros [esa.int] which isn't cheap.

According the Wikipedia entry, NASA spends $5 billion annually on the ISS. I guess I hope to hear more news of discoveries from ISS and scientific advancements once it nears completion but I have not seen much in the news as of late. In fact, Hubble seems to be the best investment we've made next to the ISS. Is this just a proof of concept that we can work together with other nations on space exploration? What do we envision for the ISS in our future?

I know that this is an easy thing to complain about and I'm not the first to ask if it's really worth it. But can anyone tell me what $5 billion of our tax payer dollars has done for us? And why is it that construction grinds to a halt when only one of the member nations involved grounds its shuttles? Is this really an "international" space station? Also, doesn't this leave the United States eternally committed to developing this project? Will we ever be able to opt out of this even after its completion?

With the current administration in the United States, spending doesn't seem to worry them [cbsnews.com] at all. And with the National Debt Clock [brillig.com] ticking at around $8.5 trillion these days, I guess I should expect nothing more. Why is it that "small government conservatives" have the knack to make that clock jump by large percentages?

Re:Cost Versus Utility (-1, Flamebait)

LordoftheLemmings (773163) | about 8 years ago | (#15946122)

Because we voted in a conservative not a libertarian?

Re:Cost Versus Utility (1, Offtopic)

70Bang (805280) | about 8 years ago | (#15946366)



really funny. There's been an Independent of times of late and Lieberman's only hopes are a tragic accident taking someone's life at the wrong time, and getting in on someone's termination, but get Lieberman in office and you'll hear just what you did with Vermont: "bi-partisan". If there are three parties represented in Congress, how can it be two?

It's obviously a means to make people think in terms of two parties, and only two parties.

A zero-sum game with two participants makes it real easy to know whom your opponent is. Scores of x and 100-x are the only values you have to know. Create an oligo* model (e.g., from the business world) and you'll find it can be done, but it's considerably more complex. And it wreaks havoc no those wanting to predict what's going to home. They don't want that to happen. For now, they'll be content to start spamming everyone and telemarketing (which is valid in most states).

Re:Cost Versus Utility (5, Insightful)

Wizarth (785742) | about 8 years ago | (#15946134)

There are some things that just should be done, and damn the cost. That is what a government is for, to do the things that are not profitable, that are not returning on investment, to get the ball rolling to get the basics in place, until it does become reasonable to make a profit, for a company to step up and say, yes, we'll foot the initial outlay because NASA has done the boring, unprofitable grunt work, they have tried the thousand ways to do it wrong, and now we know which way will work.

It is the government's job to finance the future potentially useful tasks. To drag out a tired example, it's a modern Columbus. It is a cost that is most likely going to return nothing, but if it does, the potential rewards will make it all worth it.

That really ran on.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (3, Insightful)

rde (17364) | about 8 years ago | (#15946188)

There are some things that just should be done, and damn the cost
You're right, of course. Thing is, the space station isn't one of those things. It may have been had it been built as originally planned, but it's a mere shadow of its aspirational self. When you evicerate a project the way this one has, you're left with a huge bill and no return. If the original plan was to build somewhere for millionaires to holiday while waiting for Branson to get is arse in gear (and, indeed, space), then fine. However, it was build as a science station, and the science it's doing - and will do for the foreseeable future - is negligible.

I'm not a fan of using starving etheopians/national debts/shambolic foreign adventures/whatever to cavil about the cost of any particular project, but there are many, many ways NASA and ESA and everyone else could've spent the money. It's nearly forty years since the moon landings; we should be going to war with Mars now as it declares independence. Instead, we're left with a freefalling white elephant that's got all the utility of a fingerless campanologist.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (3, Insightful)

Wizarth (785742) | about 8 years ago | (#15946214)

I agree, you're right. It is not being used the way it was designed, and has turned in to a white elephant.

But, in todays society, if they scrapped the ISS, I could never see them starting a new one. At least, with this white elephant, the bean counters could possibly be swayed with the "we've invested this much, lets invest some more and get something out of it" argument, where I cannot see this mentality starting from nothing. Especially since they will have the "failed white elephant" of the ISS to hold up as an example of why it will never work.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (4, Informative)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | about 8 years ago | (#15946323)

Maybe, but a number of scientific projects have been canceled after a lot of money was invested. The superconducting super collider was canceled after it was partially built, and at least one NASA mission that was nearly ready to fly just recently got killed to cover the cost overruns in the manned space program.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (1)

ctr2sprt (574731) | about 8 years ago | (#15946334)

Instead, we're left with a freefalling white elephant that's got all the utility of a fingerless campanologist.

Behold rde, the new BadAnalogyGuy!

"fingerless campanologist" (3, Funny)

_Ludwig (86077) | about 8 years ago | (#15946402)

Quasimodo wants to go on vacation, so he gets his clumsy brother to fill in for him at Notre Dame. The brother's first day up in the tower, he loses his footing and falls forward, smacking his forehead against the carillon as he falls to his death. Two priests gather around the fallen corpse; one says "This isn't Quasimodo at all! Who was this man?" Other priest says "I don't know... but his face sure rings a bell."

Re:"fingerless campanologist" (4, Funny)

EqualOrLesserValue (900442) | about 8 years ago | (#15946505)

A dead ringer for his brother?

Re:Cost Versus Utility (2, Interesting)

LuxMaker (996734) | about 8 years ago | (#15946560)

There are some things that should be done, but the cost should be carefully considered to see if there is not something better in which the money may be spent. I personally believe the money would be much better spent on a lunar base and to use that as a launching platform to other planets. My reasoning is as follows:

The moon has plenty of He-3 and we should work on the best possible way to mine this even though we have not produced a viable fusion reactor yet. With plenty of He-3 available it should then be easier to do research on a commercially viable fusion reactor. With a viable fusion reactor, we could then use it to power a spacecraft to other planets. One day we may look back at oil being used as a primary source of energy and laugh. There are other planets that are rich in rare earth materials and that alone could be worth the cost benefit, not to mention in low-g environments, it is easier to bond elements together that are usually repulsed by each other. (e.g Aluminum+1 Magnesium +2) With these currently rare materials it should be easier to make better, lighter, and stronger spacecraft.

Just remember folks, the science fiction of today is quite often the science reality of tommorrow. One day I hope we can move planets to make them more conducive to life , use nanotechnology to terraform and mine an entire planet, and make modifications to the human genome, all to ensure future expansion of the human race.

I hope that politics does not get in the way of our future progess. Someone's pet project usually takes precedence despite all rationality that the money may be spent better elsewhere.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (-1, Troll)

Spruitje (15331) | about 8 years ago | (#15946737)

What a load of BS.
Like everybody knows almost all of the ISS is build in Russia.
And most of the parts went up with Russian rockets.
Why not send the other modules up with Russian rockets?
It's cheaper and the Russians have a better launch record than the US.
They have the experience to get the modules there.
And secondly, they build the modules.

MOD PARENT TROLL... PLEASE!!!! (1, Informative)

RockClimbingFool (692426) | about 8 years ago | (#15946848)

Wow, what a bunch of bullshit. You sir know jack about shit. Hate to break it to you, but the Space Shuttle is the heaviest lift launcher available today. Nothing today can lift as many tons at one time. All most all of the modules were designed and built with this fact in mind. That is the main reason only the Space Shuttle can finish construction. We don't have any other vehicles to put the modules up there. Period. And btw, Boeing built almost every module and truss in the good ol US of A. So fuck off with your condensending bullshit and get a life.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (0, Troll)

Andrzej Sawicki (921100) | about 8 years ago | (#15946859)

Why not send the other modules up with Russian rockets?
Politics, obviously. It's the American president who needs the PR, not the Russian one.

Columbus was financed for conquest (4, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 8 years ago | (#15946569)

There are some things that just should be done, and damn the cost.

That's an emotional argument, not a logical one. It's little better than "the end justifies the means", and it is very cliche; all the time, the answer to "why are we doing this" is "because it's there!" That's great if you're spending your own bucks to go climb Everest- I wish you the best of luck. But if you're going to spend trillions of dollars, I need something much more concrete. Go google "waggonauts" some time, and read for an INSIDER's view of how stupid human space exploration is. Seriously- it was written by NASA people...

You need to stop and realize that most space exploration hasn't been for research or the betterment of mankind. It's all a bragging rights/land grab game between nations, while lining the pockets of defense contractors. Why do you think Kennedy put people on the moon? Because the Russians were the first to put people in space- dozens of them- before the US put Glen up. The race to put a man in space also helped quite a bit with refining nuclear missile technology. Why do you think Bush got interested in the Moon and Mars? Only because China got interested in the moon, and "the world's greatest superpower" can't be outdone...

Did you ever notice that countries that were not involved in the space and weapons races have remarkably better socities and infrastructure, because they devoted resources to taking care of their people?

To drag out a tired example, it's a modern Columbus. It is a cost that is most likely going to return nothing, but if it does, the potential rewards will make it all worth it.

Spain financed Columbus because he was in search of conquest; gold, shorter trade routes, etc. It was a bit of a crapshoot, but they figured that if he came back at all, they stood a great chance of making a killing, and they were right. The difference here is that we have nothing to gain from exploration of Mars or the Moon; it's a childish pipe-dream to think we'll find anything practical in terms of natural resources on either planets. Putting a couple hundred people on 3 ships for a few months PALES in comparison to the challenges involved in a manned trip to Mars. There is no giant cache of gold on the moon or mars, and even if there was- the economics just don't add up, and they don't get better as you throw more money at the problem. People with a space exploration fetish concoct the most amazing chains of "if we..." arguments to justify exploration...

It's also a common fallacy that space exploration brought us wonders like zero-g pens, velcro, orange tang, and remote medical monitoring. All existed before the manned space program. I know slashdot readers hate to think it, but we've gotten very little out of space "exploration", especially the manned kind.

Re:Columbus was financed for conquest (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15948245)

Just an aside, but which countries have better societies and infrastructure than the US? France? The state-subsidized economy there is in shambles (witness Airbus), the populace is breeding itself out of existence through self-absorption and ennui, and the arrondisments (sp?) are being overrun by immigrants. The UK? Horrible crime, same immigrant problem as France, same ennui (though to a lesser degree), and the state is still being bled white by welfare, plus, while the roads and bridges are still ok, the government has become incredible pervasive/intrusive. You can't go anywhere or do anything without some aspect of the state monitoring you. Germany? The population problem is even worse, they too are being bled white by welfare, and they too are having problems with unassimilated immigrants, not to mention a resurgence of home-grown mindless violence. The scandinavian states have slightly stronger societal identities, and their unassimilated immigrant problem is less aggressive, but their tax burden is crushing to say the least, leading to a horrible business climate.

We won't even mention the societies and infrastructure of South America, Africa, Central and Southwest Asia, and other non-space-race nations, or Japan, whose economy like that of Germany had a huge hand for decades from the US.

Further, "Infrastructure" is an incredibly broad term, so it is hard to point at any one physical element and say "this is where the US fails" or "this is where other countries surpass the US", as both sides have easily-listed points of refutation. The main failing of Europe, Russia, China, and to a lesser degree South America and others, is that they "take better care of their people", which is usually read as "Welfare". As any economist can tell you, if you subsidize something, you get more of it, whether it is funding development of biofuels, carrying part of the cost of planting particular crops, or paying people to sit on their ass and not work. The US does far less of that than any other country that can afford it, and as a result has pretty much the only national economy that is still thriving and expanding. Society is slightly different, but with a little study, you will probably find that the parts of US society that are the least positive and productive are the same parts that get the most subsidies (excluding corporations, which function differently than individual people).

Re:Columbus was financed for conquest (3, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | about 8 years ago | (#15948686)

Spain financed Columbus because he was in search of conquest; gold, shorter trade routes, etc. It was a bit of a crapshoot, but they figured that if he came back at all, they stood a great chance of making a killing, and they were right. The difference here is that we have nothing to gain from exploration of Mars or the Moon; it's a childish pipe-dream to think we'll find anything practical in terms of natural resources on either planets. Putting a couple hundred people on 3 ships for a few months PALES in comparison to the challenges involved in a manned trip to Mars. There is no giant cache of gold on the moon or mars, and even if there was- the economics just don't add up, and they don't get better as you throw more money at the problem. People with a space exploration fetish concoct the most amazing chains of "if we..." arguments to justify exploration...

First, let me point out that I agree with your original premise - the ISS is a boondoggle.
The comparison with Columbus is flawed; more accurately one would ask if the 'Columbus' venture would have made sense had they outfitted him with gold-plated ships, silken sails, the highest-paid crew...and then asked him to 'test the capability for long term voyaging' by floating 100 miles offshore for a month. You are right that the investment is staggering and gross, for a mission that's tentative and whose value is questionable.

However, I'm going to take serious issue with your rationale. You question the value of space exploration; really? Are you prepared to live in a Logan's Run world where people are terminated at the end of their useful age? Or perhaps a Soylent Green world? Because, I think it's an unquestionable fact that the earth is a closed system. Resources are finite. However, population keeps increasing, the standard of living for everyone is also increasing, and people's lifespans are increasing. Where are you willing to impose the brake? Have any idea what sort of governance and enforcement will be required to STOP people from having children?
Personally, I see it as a Hobson's choice: either we accept that there are limited resources on the planet and resign ourselves to being trapped here. Or, we spend huge sums of money NOW in the hopes that will parlay into someting akin to the discovery of the New World of the 15th century. Can we bank on it? No, obviously not. But I don't see much of an alternative, maybe you prefer a police-state existence.

Is space exploration hideously expensive? Yep. But you trivialize the challenges of the 15th century mariner when you say that "Putting a couple hundred people on 3 ships for a few months PALES in comparison to the challenges involved in a manned trip to Mars." - that's a joke. We can calculate with a reasonable degree of certainty what's involved, they had ABSOLUTELY no idea. They had a significant expectation that they would NOT be coming back, at least of them surely WOULD die on the trip. You might think it's insignificant that a bunch of dirty, uneducated sailors risked their lives but I assure you it mattered to THEM. Welcome to 2006 - we substitute money for risk.

And finally, your 'comparison' is specious: "Did you ever notice that countries that were not involved in the space and weapons races have remarkably better socities and infrastructure, because they devoted resources to taking care of their people?"
Did you ever notice that the countries that were not involved in the space and weapons races spent the last 40 years being protected by the countries that DID? Duh. Although I can sense behind your words that you probably thought the Cold War was just a trivial dispute between esoteric philosophies.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (4, Insightful)

niktemadur (793971) | about 8 years ago | (#15946618)

There are some things that just should be done, and damn the cost.

In proyects such as the ISS, there are always inventions and advances that are not cost effective in the foreseeable future, but that benefit mankind tremendously in future generations.

To drag out a tired example, it's a modern Columbus.

FWIW, the King of Portugal invested in one fruitless expedition after another to circumnavigate Africa, but sailor's superstitions got in the way every time. I believe it was in the fourteenth attempt that the crew was caught up in a nasty storm and, after it had abated, discovered to their surprise that they were way south of Cape Bojador, according to legend, ends of the Earth. This was the turning point. Every single expedition after that progressed fearlessly further and further, bringing back paydirt each time. In the early XV Century, the King of Portugal set the stage for Columbus.

Here's another example: In medieval times, the alchemical process of creating lenses, perfecting the techniques of polishing them so that they would be as near perfect as possible. Meanwhile, all around, plagues and misery bedeviled society, which made lenses a pointless and costly exercise in trivial matters, according to the pundits of the age.
Little did the pundits know that from this work, among other things, the microscope would come to being, the discovery of the source of diseases was only a matter of time.

For the majority, things always make much more sense in retrospect. For now, in the matter of the ISS, we need faith in the future fruits of peaceful labor on an epic scale.
Yes, bureaucracy inflates expenses so that these things seem like pork barrel proyects. However, isn't the cost still a fraction of the money that goes down the black hole known as the Military Industry, which needs to invent wars in order to dispose of aging weaponry and keep the money-go-round in motion? For the time being, this is what we need to question, instead of peaceful endeavours of knowledge.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (3, Interesting)

Wizarth (785742) | about 8 years ago | (#15946657)

Here's another example: In medieval times, the alchemical process of creating lenses, perfecting the techniques of polishing them so that they would be as near perfect as possible. Meanwhile, all around, plagues and misery bedeviled society, which made lenses a pointless and costly exercise in trivial matters, according to the pundits of the age. Little did the pundits know that from this work, among other things, the microscope would come to being, the discovery of the source of diseases was only a matter of time.
Oh that is a great example, much better then Columbus.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (4, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | about 8 years ago | (#15946939)

A good example, but still flawed. It's one thing for a few eccentrics (or even a few dozen dozen eccentrics) to play with optics on their own dime. It's quite another to be involved in a massively expensive boondoggle of a concentrated space-lab whose main goal seems to be to be done jointly by several nations rather than to actually advance mankind's knowledge by any amount. All of the experiments proposed for ISS could be done far more cheaply (at least an order of magnitude) separatly on automated mostly independant launches. Eliminating the need for rendezvous would cut that much from the cost by itself.

Someone once said that building things like the supercollider have nothing to do with the defense of the nation, except to make it worth defending. This may be true, but we must not send good money after bad. The superconducting supercollider project was cancelled. If even one superconductiong supercollider project, or space telescope, or very large array of telescopes, or interplanetary space probe at the edge of the solar system is cancelled to provide funding for an excercise in political futility, well that's just sad.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 8 years ago | (#15947288)

I don't know.... what was described in the parent post was precisely a good example of government boondogles as you are describing, and comparable proportions of government wealth being spent on apparent (for the day) crazy ideas.

There were several government pork projects that would certainly be comparable to the SCSC that existed during the middle ages. I could go into several of these, but one in particular below:

Perhaps one of the most notable was the astronomical observatory [wikipedia.org] that Tycho Brahe [wikipedia.org] built on the island of Hven (then in Denmark), which was being funded by the king of Denmark. This was certainly a scientific research lab that had all the markings of a pork barrel project as you have described and more. And we are talking 14th Century science here, when there certainly were other more pressing matters.

The #1 product of this observatory is that the measurements of planetary orbits were recorded to sufficient accuracy ( 1/2 degree). Johannes Kepler was an assistant of Brahe and used these observations specifically to demonstrate that Mars had an eliptical orbit. This raw data is also used to document historical positions of major stars and the planets, because it was accurate enough to still be scientifically useful even today.

BTW, in your remark about how the supercollider was canceled to avoid spending "good money after bad" seriously misses the mark. We will never know exactly what could have been had that project been completed, although I will admit it was a very good example of "big science". Unlike the ISS, it was very much built to do scientific research at a scale that would produce very basic scientific knowledge that could otherwise not possibly be obtained. I very much consider the cancellation of that project to be a textbook case of scientific illiteracy in American society.

I also strongly object to those who argue for manned vs. unmanned space missions as a zero-sum game. Even though I will admit the scientific value of the ISS is practically nil, the key product of the ISS is the transfer of knowledge and engineering skills from the Russians to the USA on how to effectively build large scale structures in orbit, such as MIR and other Russian space stations. This knowlege (if preserved) can and will be used in the future for building other space structures. The ISS is also so huge that it will have to be a permanent structure in space, and will become in effect the first extra-terrestrial musuem. It will never be de-orbited like Skylab or Mir unless the governments of the world completely collapse.

Now what to do with the ISS after 2010 is certainly something that can and should be debated.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15947719)

There were several government pork projects that would certainly be comparable to the SCSC that existed during the middle ages.

How about the building of cathedrals? Those were engineering projects on an epic scale. They were also useless (other than to show your wealth), but nowadays they attract lotsa tourists ;) (You can't argue that they are not comparable because nowadays it is states and back then it was the church, because the church was into politics a lot more back then (I'm talking the Roman Catholic church)).

Let's hope not.... (0, Troll)

woolio (927141) | about 8 years ago | (#15947807)

To drag out a tired example, it's a modern Columbus.

Yikes. I hope the ISS doesn't become a tool to wipe out entire nations whose way of life differs greatly from our own.

Exotic Projects Capturing the Public's Imagination (4, Insightful)

reporter (666905) | about 8 years ago | (#15946139)

My perception of NASA (and other space agences like JAXA [www.jaxa.jp] ) is that it focuses solely on run-of-the-mill projects seeking incremental but significant advances in technology. That sort of research is useful but does not capture the imagination of young adults contemplating a career in science and engineering.

When President Kennedy pledged that Washington would put an American on the moon, the pledge captured our imagination [wikipedia.org] . We Americans would do something that had never been done in the past. Further, putting an American on the moon was not an incremental advance in technology but was a huge leap that faced a high risk of failure.

NASA should go back to its adventurous roots by devoting 25% of its budget to exotic, high-risk projects. The remaining 75% would go to run-of-the-mill projects.

NASA, not the American military, should be splurging money on building a prototype of a hyperdrive, enabling faster-than-light travel [newscientistspace.com] . Even if the prototype does not work, it would significantly facilitate the breakthroughs that will be necessary for a successful hyperdrive,.

Re:Exotic Projects Capturing the Public's Imaginat (3, Interesting)

M0b1u5 (569472) | about 8 years ago | (#15946482)

Exotic High Risk Projects?

Clearly you are NOT American, because it is very obvious to any outsider looking in that the USA will no tolerate any reasonable level of risk at all. Look at the stink when just 7 people die, and only a 2 Billion dollar shuttle is lost? Hell, 7 people is nothing - and Dubya it chucking a billion a week at Iraq - and ALL of those lives and dollars are completely wasted. I don't see anyone reviewing the Military budget (450 Billion) because people keep dying.

Hell, servicing Hubble - arguably the most successful space craft ever - was cancelled because people might die. I bet if you asked ANY rated astronaut if they're prepared to take the risk of servicing Hubble you'd get a 100% affirmative "We'll go!" answer.

No - the USA has turned its back on the pioneering spirit - and the whole "Earth, Moon, Mars and beyond" thing is a joke. It's going to be a debacle of the greatest kind: even worse than the ISS. Jebus, it's no even clear how to build a BDB (Big Dumb Booster) any more. The "Stick" so eloquently argued for is a multibillion dollar development, and not even remotely "using existing hardware" as advertised.

Don't get me wrong, I love the ISS, and if it costs 2 Billion dollars a shot to get my pretty 2560 x 1024 wallpaper - then that's a cost I'm willing for US tax payers to pay! Even if the ISS ends up costing 100 billion Euros, the experience of actually having worked together in space (and yes, many contries HAVE contributed) and the knowledge gained by assembling the thing probably almost justify the expense.

See the thing most of you have forgotten, is that you learn more from your failures than you do from your successes: and NASA has had plenty of failures in recent years. The problem is that NASA isn't being driven by an agenda which requires those lessons to be turned into conventional wisdom, and success!

Hell, it might cost a Trillion US dollars before there's any conventional wisdom about getting to LEO, and how to do things beyond LEO - and if it costs a trillion - or two trillion - or a hundred trillion dollars, then that's the price it costs to buy our way into this galaxy. No one is standing by, watching us, and they don't have a "Key To The Galaxy" waiting for us when we set foot on Mars. Escaping the doomed Earth, and populating the Solar System is going to be the most expensive venture ever undertaken by man. The effort may well cripple the Earth for a long time.

One thing is clear: whatever the cost, we need to know how to get off the planet reliably and cheaply.

Personally, I think sitting atop a million kilos of rocket fuel is the dumbest idea ever!

The future isn't rocket powered: it's laser powered: http://lightcrafttechnologies.com/ [lightcraft...logies.com] or its via space elevators. It most certainly does not make sense to burn 95% (or 99%!) of your payload just toget into orbit! If you're gonna burn fuel, the burn it on the ground.

Re:Exotic Projects Capturing the Public's Imaginat (1)

niktemadur (793971) | about 8 years ago | (#15946694)

Personally, I think sitting atop a million kilos of rocket fuel is the dumbest idea ever!

For your future reference, sir, what you are describing is better known as Spam In A Can.

Re:Exotic Projects Capturing the Public's Imaginat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15948337)

Clearly you are NOT American, because it is very obvious to any outsider looking in that the USA will no tolerate any reasonable level of risk at all. Look at the stink when just 7 people die, and only a 2 Billion dollar shuttle is lost? Hell, 7 people is nothing - and Dubya it chucking a billion a week at Iraq - and ALL of those lives and dollars are completely wasted. I don't see anyone reviewing the Military budget (450 Billion) because people keep dying.


ASSUMING that New Zealand is where you're from, this is priceless coming from a person living in a nation that cannot assert air superiority over its own territory and has no space program.

Don't get me wrong, I love the ISS, and if it costs 2 Billion dollars a shot to get my pretty 2560 x 1024 wallpaper - then that's a cost I'm willing for US tax payers to pay! Even if the ISS ends up costing 100 billion Euros, the experience of actually having worked together in space (and yes, many contries HAVE contributed) and the knowledge gained by assembling the thing probably almost justify the expense.


Yeah, and I'm all for those without a valid US vote shutting their fucking mouths with respect to our budget. Asking us not to be imperial little bastards? Sure, you can do that. Other than that we're not your welfare program, your protector, or your big brother.

Love the post, but ... (4, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | about 8 years ago | (#15946509)

it is not totally practical.
First off, W. is running up a defict like there is no tomorrow. This will force us to cut back at some point.
Second, at this time, we have to rebuild our launch capacity. That means that we need to be able to launch what we had back in the 60s. Nixon killed that capability. W. is restoring it. While I know that many folks hate the CEV (and some hate even the launchers), we will have the same launch capacity that Kennedy got us 40 years ago.

Once we have Oriion, I agree with you that it will be time for NASA to return to the interesting ideas that a commercial company can not and will not do. Of course, I have said for a decade the right thing to be doing is a one-way trip to Mars for colonizing. And the only thing that comes back are goods ; Now, Musk is pushing that concept. That is where the real money will be.

Re:Love the post, but ... (2, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 8 years ago | (#15946924)

Second, at this time, we have to rebuild our launch capacity. That means that we need to be able to launch what we had back in the 60s.

The launch capacity we had in the 60's (the Saturn V) was as expensive as the Shuttle - we don't need expensive shipping, we need cheap shipping.
 
 
Nixon killed that capability. W. is restoring it.

No, Congress killed it back during the Johnson administration. Nixon inherited a fait accompli - a Congress that wasn't interested in funding NASA's ever more grandiose and expensive dreams.
 
 
While I know that many folks hate the CEV (and some hate even the launchers), we will have the same launch capacity that Kennedy got us 40 years ago.

The CEV has nothing to do with launch capability - launchers do. And President Bush is indeed getting right back we were in the 60's with regards to launch capacity: launchers that are too expensive to use but rarely.
 
The whole scheme as outlined as President Bush is an utter disaster for space exploration. The contracts are going to the Usual Suspects doing Business as usual.

Re:Exotic Projects Capturing the Public's Imaginat (2, Insightful)

niktemadur (793971) | about 8 years ago | (#15946675)

Putting an American on the moon was not an incremental advance in technology but was a huge leap that faced a high risk of failure.

That's because of the approach that was chosen. If the US government had listened to Von Braun, there would have been a permanent space station in orbit since the sixties, a platform for ongoing moon missions by the seventies. We would be reaping the benefits of this today.
Instead, they went for the most expensive, dangerous and least permanent route. Because JFK made the most ridiculous statement, not a man in the Moon in the next fifteen years, but an american by nine. But anyway, what the hell did anyone know back then? Caught in the grip of an ideological travesty known as the Cold War, throwing around buzzwords like evildoer, freedom...oh, wait.

NASA should go back to its adventurous roots by devoting 25% of its budget to exotic, high-risk projects. The remaining 75% would go to run-of-the-mill projects.

I second that motion. But first, NASA should again have a feasible operating budget.

Re:Exotic Projects Capturing the Public's Imaginat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15947326)

NASA, not the American military, should be splurging money on building a prototype of a hyperdrive, enabling faster-than-light travel.

Yeah, we'll just power it with a Cold Fusion drive, or perhpas pixie dust.

Even if the prototype does not work, it would significantly facilitate the breakthroughs that will be necessary for a successful hyperdrive.

The only breakthrough that will do that is one where evil bearded Cartman breaks through from the alternate universe and gets the underpants gnomes to explain the physics to us:

1) Wave hands
2) ...
3) Faster than light travel
4) Profit

Re:Cost Versus Utility (2, Informative)

halibatsuiba (638034) | about 8 years ago | (#15946155)

"And why is it that construction grinds to a halt when only one of the member nations involved grounds its shuttles?"

There is only one member nation with shuttles...
Nasa's shuttle is the only vehicle able to carry big enough loads up there.

That's why.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (1)

korbin_dallas (783372) | about 8 years ago | (#15946222)

WTF have you been smokin? Can I have some?

The Ariane V outclasses anything we have thought of building.
Russia, China, India and Japan have launch vehicles.

ISS stops when the Shuttle is grounded because the US won't pay for those launches, makes us look bad and all.

Also I will remind all the gentle readers, that the USSR launched more space stations than the number of times we landed on the Moon. I really rather think the Russians know a thing or two about launching, assembling and running an orbital platform.

This 'We're 'mericans and we know more than anybody' attitude really ticks me off. ISS was a disaster when they were planning it over 30 years ago.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (5, Informative)

korbin_dallas (783372) | about 8 years ago | (#15946264)

OK self-correcting my comment.

Heres a nice table of vehicles:
http://www.tbs-satellite.com/tse/online/thema_lanc eur.html [tbs-satellite.com]
STS is the heavy lifter currently to LEO.

What I cannot find is size and weight tables of each part of ISS. Not that it matters, the whole ISS plan is DESIGNED around the STS. If it were instead designed around the Proton D1...or Energia.

Anyway STS is not the only game in town.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (2, Insightful)

terrymr (316118) | about 8 years ago | (#15946600)

Thats the biggest problem, every piece was designed with the space shuttle in mind - to reconfigure it to fly on another rocket even if one was available would probably mean redesigning a lot of it.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about 8 years ago | (#15946204)

But can anyone tell me what $5 billion of our tax payer dollars has done for us?


Arguably not so much so far, other than give us half a permanently manned outpost in space. But it would be stupid to abandon the project now, when it's so far along -- better to finish it up and make the best of it. If nothing else, it gives us more experience living and working in space.


And why is it that construction grinds to a halt when only one of the member
nations involved grounds its shuttles? Is this really an "international" space station?


Presumably because it was designed to be built using Space Shuttles, and the cost of redesigning everything to be lifted by (say) Russian rockets was high enough that it was considered better to just wait for the shuttles to come back on line. It's still "international" because it's still being developed by multiple nations. "international" doesn't mean "fully redundant space agencies".


Also, doesn't this leave the United States eternally committed to developing this project?


Probably, unless we want to abandon it. But why would we want to do that? Once it's set up, the costs of maintaining it are minimal -- they are dwarfed by what the US spends on other things. Putting all that stuff up there and then not amortizing the costs by actually using it would be extremely cost-ineffective; no doubt it would be held up as an example of the government wasting money.


Why is it that "small government conservatives" have the knack to make that clock jump by large percentages?


The people running the current US government have one set of principles they use for PR, and another set that they implement as policy. Their trick is to get the voting population to confuse the two -- which is not so difficult to do when the press willing repeats everything they say without ever checking it for accuracy.

intangibles (4, Insightful)

Quadraginta (902985) | about 8 years ago | (#15946215)

But can anyone tell me what $5 billion of our taxpayer dollars has done for us?

Maybe it's a subtle thing. But there is a practical difference between a crabbed, pessimistic, Can't-Do defeatist culture and a culture full of ambition and daring that does impractical but spectactular things with a spare 0.1% of its GNP: one produces living descendants a thousand years later, and the other merely produces elegant, sardonic essays written in a dead language that are closely studied by scholars of the future.

Man does not live on bread alone, to paraphrase Moses, but perhaps also on dreams that inspire his best efforts and give him a sense of wonder and hope for the future. I mean, if you don't think this way -- if you're not much interested in things unless there's something in it for Number One -- then you don't have children and your genes get edited out of the species. This is perhaps why clever cynicism is more noteable among societies (and individuals) in decline than in ascendacy.

Re:intangibles (1)

SetupWeasel (54062) | about 8 years ago | (#15946577)

I have a dream: a dream of a space program with vision. Sadly, it's only a dream.

As NASA continues to spin its wheels and waste money, Americans see less and less reason for its existance.

Re:intangibles (2, Insightful)

niktemadur (793971) | about 8 years ago | (#15946794)

Bravo, Sir!

A sense of joy in life, the spirit of an explorer, the heart of a child, always ready to stand in awe.

However, there is strong reason for disillusionment among the current living generations. When growing up, we saw marvelous representations of climate-controlled, domed cities in harmony with nature, grand space stations rotating in Earth orbit, colonies on the Moon. We were told that we could very well be living in space with our children once we reached...the age we are now.

These and other wonderful visions, we were told, were not only within our grasp, but inevitable and imminent. Instead, what have we gotten? Ozone holes, global warming and the threat of nuclear winters. Bearing witness to the extinction of species on a mass scale. The decimation of rain forests, with plants that may hold untold secrets yet will never speak to us. More wars, same armies, new enemies.

In this sense, attitudes of cynicism and pessimism are a reflection of the profound failure by both our public and private institutions, which hold an overwhelming majority of society's resources, could channel these to create something positive, yet have shown again and again that they are only looking out for Number One, be it for personal gain of those in power or an overriding need to cling to some 'ism'.

Re:intangibles (3, Insightful)

Quadraginta (902985) | about 8 years ago | (#15947122)

Oh I dunno. I'm part of that generation. I remember listening to the radio when Neil Armstrong first set foot on the Moon in the summer of 1969. I was glued to the TV for every Apollo launch. I also remember thinking, in the mid 80s or so, that the Moon colonies and regularly scheduled commuter trips to Mars were sure taking their time coming.

But I don't think it's our "institutions" that failed. I think we did. The aerospace engineers didn't turn stupid, or lose heart. They just lost our interest, and we stopped paying their salaries. In the 70s and 80s the country turned its attention back inward to indulge in twenty-five years of narcissist navel gazing. We told ourselves we needed to "fix" things on Earth first, things like poverty, prejudice, war, pollution. I suppose it escaped our attention that these things are as much fixtures of life as bad luck, death and taxes, and we can no more fix them for good than we can make it so all the children are above average. But we had a lot of fun spending all that money, marching, and making fine speeches. And it was actually a lot easier than building spacecraft, and a lot less dangerous than trying to live on an airless minor planet.

So it goes. I suppose I'm disappointed. But I don't think I'm cynical about the years since then. They weren't devoid of miracles. We may not live on the Moon, but we do have amazing electronic widgets, and we've done remarkable things in medicine. I'm not even disgusted with all the money we spent standing on the brink of nuclear annihilation. We guarded half the world's freedom for 50 years, and, amazingly, without having to fight the appalling war everyone thought was coming any moment. That's something remarkable, actually.

In this sense, attitudes of cynicism and pessimism are a reflection of the profound failure by both our public and private institutions...

Maybe. But maybe attitudes of cynicism and pessimism are not the result of, but a major cause of, failures in public and private institutions. I mean, why exactly should we expect our institutions to be more courageous and dedicated than we are as individuals?

Re:intangibles (1)

tomato (66378) | about 8 years ago | (#15947284)

"We told ourselves we needed to "fix" things on Earth first, things like poverty, prejudice, war, pollution. I suppose it escaped our attention that these things are as much fixtures of life as bad luck, death and taxes"

Those things are very fixable with 450 billion of funding. That's the size of the US military budget, which is larger than the next n countries put together (n slowly increasing in size).

Fixing them in the USA alone would be a good start.

OT WAS Re:intangibles (1)

sgtrock (191182) | about 8 years ago | (#15948132)

Umm, no, they're not. You /cannot/ change people's attitudes by throwing money at problems. Nor can you "fix" war if your military budget is zero and people's attitudes remain unchanged.

So, prejudice and war still exist if the US military budget is zero. What's next? How about poverty? Poverty is a function of so many variables that we have yet to completely eliminate it after tens of thousands of years trying. I will assert, though, that we are far closer today than at any time in history. In any case, it hasn't been money necessarily that has helped reduce poverty. Education, science, technology, reducing prejudice so people outside the privileged group(s) get a hand up (/not/ a handout), and a sense of wonder about the world have done far more to increase the well being of all people living today than any other combination of factors.

Finally, there's pollution. I'm willing to stipulate that as a general rule we can always do more to reduce pollution. However, doing so the way that Greenpeace and other groups would like us to means a drastic reduction in one of the very factors that are helping to reduce poverty; the use of technology. I would argue that increased funding in cleaning up pollution, combined with funding to produce energy and material goods cleaner are far more useful ways of dealing with pollution while still allowing us to tackle poverty.

I'm even willing to stipulate that if we weren't quite so wasteful in how we spent that $450 billion, we would have funds available to spend on ways to resolve pollution issues. However, I don't think we have to reduce it by much to have an immediate, long term affect on pollution, as most funding that we would get from the Feds should probably be spent in two ways; more tax credits for industry to use technology already designed, and basic research in to cleanup and cleaner fuels.

Heck, IMO a good chunk of that cash should be spent instead on developing bio-diesel from algae (sp?) breeding plants similar to what some town in New Zealand is doing. That would have the long term goal of weaning us off oil, which would have the long term impact of starving the money pipeline from the Saudis to the crazies in the Moslem world. That would have been a far healthier response to 9/11 than anything else. Well, that, combined with taking out Al Queada on the ground in Afghanistan instead of letting the leadership escape.

Re:intangibles (1)

irablum (914844) | about 8 years ago | (#15948637)

See, that's the problem. No amount of money can "fix" poverty. No amount of spending can remove "prejudice, war, or pollution". The problem is that all four of these issues involve "fixing" people's attitudes.

"Fixing" poverty means making everyone above average. In any world where there are rich people, there will be poor people. The reality is that poor people in the US have more real property than average income people throughout the world. On the other side, "fixing" poverty throughout the world means making poor nations richer. 'Cept that doesn't work, because any country that really wants to be richer, as opposed to just having rich rulers, seems to get richer. Mostly, they (other countries) don't want the US meddling in them, and see that as more important than being rich.

"Fixing" prejudice obviously means changing attitudes. Its happening, though slowly. But will it happen faster if we throw money at it? I doubt it.

"Fixing" war? see poverty.

"Fixing" pollution means not polluting. In one way, this could solve the whole "poverty" thing. If the US would stop driving their cars, and running their power plants, and their barbeque grills, and heating their homes, and using plastic, and refining chemicals, then that would solve pollution. It would also sort of solve "poverty" by making the US not so rich, thereby making all other nations less poor. Of course, that $450 billion to spend on "fixing" anything will disappear, since the US won't have it anymore. But, of course that won't stop other companies from polluting. Kyoto gives a free pass to any "developing" nation, like China. China is a developing nation? Since when do developing nations have 100 million men armies and nuclear weapons?

so, what are we left with? I personally hope that one day, we'll see poverty, prejudice, war, and pollution in space. Because that will mean that there will be people there. Real people, not just astronauts and heroes.

Ira
 

Re:Cost Versus Utility (3, Insightful)

CheeseburgerBrown (553703) | about 8 years ago | (#15946229)

And why is it that construction grinds to a halt when only one of the member nations involved grounds its shuttles?

I think the answer lies in recognition that just because an effort is collaborative doesn't mean any given area of responsibility is equally divisible between contributors. Similarly, it doesn't follow that since an operation didn't take place when the chief surgeon was delayed that the chief surgeon operates alone.

Take for instance my own country -- which is folksy, grease-loving and boreal. We make robot arms that crawl around a fix stuff. Our tax base is smaller than that of the United States, so our humble contribution is proportionately nearly as dear as NASA/JPL's costs to the Americans. Would we be justified in saying, "Why should we continue working on this crumb-bum spacestation when the Yanks can't even do their part and keep the shuttles flying?"

Re:Cost Versus Utility (4, Insightful)

StikyPad (445176) | about 8 years ago | (#15946243)

First of all, Wikipedia says:
the Space Shuttle program, which as of 2006 nearly costs $5 billion annually, is normally not considered part of the ISS budget

As for the ISS expenditures:
NASA's 2007 budget request [12] lists costs for the ISS (without Shuttle costs) as $25.6 billion for the years 1994 to 2005. For each of 2005 and 2006 about $1.7 to 1.8 billion are allocated to the ISS - this sum will be rising until 2010 when it is calculated to reach 2.3 billion and then should stay at the same level, however inflation-adjusted, until 2016, the defined end of the program.

Nontrivial, but less than half of the $5B you incorrectly reported.

And while the utility is certainly important, it's not the only measure of value. The experience itself is a value, in that the people involved are gaining experience with constructing things in orbit, and having a continuous human presence in orbit furthers our knowledge of the physiological effects of living in space.

The ISS may be a small step, but it's a step, and that's ultimately how humanity progresses for the most part -- in steps, not in leaps and bounds. The ISS may only be an incremental progression, but it's progress nonetheless.

That's not to say the ISS hasn't been somewhat disappointing, but that's at least in part due to several modules being cancelled due to complaints about cost. It's the typical bureaucratic Catch-22: People want to see results before upping the ante. Unfortunately, it's not rarely possible to work like that. If you fund everything except the wheels of a car, all you've got is a nice air-conditioned box.

And even if you consider the ISS a failure, it's important to remember that science is progressed by failure just as much as success -- at the very least we should have ideas on what to do, or not to do, the next time.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (1)

khallow (566160) | about 8 years ago | (#15947989)

And even if you consider the ISS a failure, it's important to remember that science is progressed by failure just as much as success -- at the very least we should have ideas on what to do, or not to do, the next time.

Not really. This reminds me of the currently popular saying by Pauli, "It's not correct, it's not even wrong." If the ISS were doing something novel (construction techniques are somewhat novel, but the ISS doesn't do enough of that), if it weren't taking money that could be better spent on unmanned space probes, funding some coherent plan to develope a competitive launch industry in the US, or even just returned to the taxpayer. This is the sort of failure that doesn't aid science.

Nor does it aid commercial activity in space, while is a higher priority of NASA.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15946259)

Its unfair to say $5 billion etc etc without putting it in context. In terms of the federal budget, $5 billion isn't alot and for NASA, this is a important goal not only for scientific research but also for manned mission to the moon and mars. Like you say its easy to step back and question whether or not if the money is well spent but like all research there is a risk associated with it. The transportation is done primary done by the US and occasionally by the Russian for supplies, while the construction of the module is spread around the globe.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (0, Offtopic)

mapmaker (140036) | about 8 years ago | (#15946307)

NASA spends $5 billion annually on the ISS.

That sounds like money better spent than the $19 billion in farm subsidies [cnn.com] the government pisses away each year.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (2, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 8 years ago | (#15946384)

According the Wikipedia entry, NASA spends $5 billion annually on the ISS. I guess I hope to hear more news of discoveries from ISS and scientific advancements once it nears completion but I have not seen much in the news as of late.

Why do you expect any science/discovery from any facility or instrument that isn't completed?

Re:Cost Versus Utility (1)

achurch (201270) | about 8 years ago | (#15946449)

The European Space Agency estimates it to be around 100 billion Euros which isn't cheap.

I dunno . . . if the US can spend several hundred billion dollars to kill people in the Middle East, then a mere hundred billion or so for potential scientific advances doesn't seem all that bad.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15946738)

"The International Space Station is a novel idea and I've always supported countries working together."

I'd be willing to bet you haven't done anything to support any such thing, accept roll over, pay taxes, and say you do.

Even NASA doesn't want the space station (0)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | about 8 years ago | (#15946760)

I have no references to back this up, but NASA has stated that as soon as the ISS is completed, they will mothball it and the shuttles. That puts paid to the lie about doing useful science on it.

NASA's goal since Apollo had been to further NASA's goal; see recursion, specifically tail recursion.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (2, Insightful)

Naelphin (599415) | about 8 years ago | (#15947260)

It has a simple purpose. To stop unemployed Russian rocket scientists from going to Iran or North Korea for money. Think of it is as a welfare program.

Re:Cost Versus Utility (1)

hlavac (914630) | about 8 years ago | (#15947727)

spending doesn't seem to worry them at all
Why would it? They are the ones printing the money! A few billion more is nothing, it just costs the paper ;)

Awesome! (2, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | about 8 years ago | (#15946094)

I didn't know they were hiring! So where do I email my ISS construction résumé?
 

Re:Awesome! (2, Informative)

revolu7ion (994315) | about 8 years ago | (#15946118)

prayitdoesntexplode.thistime@nasa.org

Someone fill me in... (5, Insightful)

Digitus1337 (671442) | about 8 years ago | (#15946110)

If the station "has not come close to its stated goal of becoming a world-class research outpost," then what is in said world-class?

Re:Someone fill me in... (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 8 years ago | (#15946156)

More to the point, which world?

Re:Someone fill me in... (1)

EsonLinji (723693) | about 8 years ago | (#15946232)

Well, all the stuff that's actually on the world, as opposed to floating way up above it.

Re:Someone fill me in... (1)

dogbreathcanada (911482) | about 8 years ago | (#15946524)

Out-of-this-world Class.

Re:Someone fill me in... (1)

khallow (566160) | about 8 years ago | (#15947927)

The original plan as I understand it was that the station would have six people, half which were doing scientific research full time. When they had three people, they had one person work half time on scientific stuff, getting about 20% of that output. During the time they had two people, they had virtually no scientific output (except maybe learning a bit more about why zero gee is not good for you). Due to the many delays, they are producing far less scientific activity than promised.

International Space Station? (1)

Kamel Jockey (409856) | about 8 years ago | (#15946126)

Wow... the headline had me confused. I thought they were talking about this ISS ship [memory-alpha.org] instead.

That's no moon... (1)

slapyslapslap (995769) | about 8 years ago | (#15946142)

...That's a space station.

Re:That's no moon... (1)

Ruie (30480) | about 8 years ago | (#15946292)

That's no moon...That's a space station.

Not Mars either.

About time (1)

LarryLong (899387) | about 8 years ago | (#15946152)

I submitted my request for the disco ball years ago!

but... (-1, Flamebait)

Net_fiend (811742) | about 8 years ago | (#15946170)

You know what is the funniest part...the whole construction was basically put on hold because the US space shuttle wasn't in use. How the hell can this thing be world built if we're the only freak'n people putting shit into space? How's about the rest of the world waste some of their cash to build rockets to pick up the slack? You know what will happen. The US will be the first major country to populate space and everyone will bitch about how we own this and that in space. We can never win. Yeah, I know some other parts are built by other countries, but it'd be nice to see other space shuttles actually get up there and help out. This thing would be a little more useful if it was getting various visits on a constant basis. Yes, making it that more dangerous...nothing happens without practice/risk.

Re:but... (4, Informative)

Decaff (42676) | about 8 years ago | (#15946190)

How's about the rest of the world waste some of their cash to build rockets to pick up the slack?

They have been. Since the Columbia disaster the station has been largely serviced by Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Re:but... (0)

QuantumG (50515) | about 8 years ago | (#15946355)

That's a bit of a straw man isn't it? Why don't they build some heavy lift vehicles?

Re:but... (3, Informative)

Decaff (42676) | about 8 years ago | (#15946539)

That's a bit of a straw man isn't it? Why don't they build some heavy lift vehicles?

They have. Several pieces of the ISS have been launched by Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets. The problem is that the entire launching strategy was pre-planned, with some parts launched and deployed by Shuttle, some by other vehicles.

Re:but... (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 8 years ago | (#15946646)

Well, first, the Japanese and the ESA are working on it. You also need to be able to maneuver the payload to be somewhere near the ISS. At the moment, the Russians are the only one with a proven heavy-lift capacity.

But, yes, others are working on this as well.

mod 0P (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15946172)

Snakes in the ISS (5, Funny)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | about 8 years ago | (#15946175)

In space, no one can hear the rattlesnake.

Re:Snakes in the ISS (1)

darkitecture (627408) | about 8 years ago | (#15946474)

In space, no one can hear the rattlesnake.

"Enough is enough! I want these motherfuckin' pieces of foam insulation off this motherfuckin' shuttle!"

Got to put some there first. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15946597)

send GWB up there.

Sorry - I had to.... (5, Funny)

EchoBinary (912851) | about 8 years ago | (#15946182)

"..through 2010.." I hope HAL keeps the pod bay door open.

Just like in the movies ... (1)

sk999 (846068) | about 8 years ago | (#15946183)

"For more than three years, the International Space Station has floated half-built above the Earth"

Anyone remember "2001, A Space Odyssey?" Heywood Floyd is rocketed from Earth to an orbiting space station, which is ... half-built. http://dayton.hq.nasa.gov/IMAGES/SMALL/GPN-2003-00 093.jpg [nasa.gov]

Re:Just like in the movies ... (1)

solitas (916005) | about 8 years ago | (#15946362)

> Anyone remember "2001, A Space Odyssey?" Heywood Floyd is rocketed from Earth to an orbiting space station, which is ... half-built. (http://dayton.hq.nasa.gov/IMAGES/SMALL/GPN-2003-0 0 093.jpg)

Maybe so: but compare the size of it and its apparent utility (what the movie showed taking place on it) to this orbital version of'Dogpatch' (http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/136653main_s11 4e7221_high.jpg).

It seems like all they're ever doing is fixing it and waiting for the next food/oxygen delivery (and someone's impending ride home).

Re:Just like in the movies ... (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 8 years ago | (#15946732)

It seems like all they're ever doing is fixing it and waiting for the next food/oxygen delivery (and someone's impending ride home).
Yeah, you gotta hate that reality thing.

In the movies, everything is so much easier. We've solved that pesky zero-G thing (no matter how damaged the ship is, the gravity always seems to work), they never have to deal with the mundane tasks of fixing stuff and getting supplies or anything. It's all action, adventure, and no matter how big the problem is, it gets solved in--at most--two or three hours.

Y'know, maybe we should contract all this space stuff out to Hollywood. Not only would it be cheaper, it'd be a lot more entertaining.

I am bender... (1)

jarg0n (882275) | about 8 years ago | (#15946245)

I am bender please insert girder.

Moon base! (3, Funny)

BigZaphod (12942) | about 8 years ago | (#15946272)

Screw ISS. Let's bring on the moon base! Space stations have been done before, anyway. There's no need to build a giant floating structure - there's already one there! No need to bring food, either. The moon has all the cheese you can eat! (See: A Grand Day Out with Wallace and Gromit)

Re:Moon base! (2, Insightful)

Wizarth (785742) | about 8 years ago | (#15946363)

The thing is, the trip from the surface to Low Earth Orbit (where the ISS is) is quite a different trip then from LEO to the moon.

AFAIK, the current plan (or one of) is to launch docking stations up to LEO, using existing lifters (such as the Soyez rockets), then launch vehicles from there to moon orbit. A similar floating dock will be put up in moon orbit, and landers will be launched from there to the surface.

Of course, this all has to be lifted from earth, but I reckon they get better utility using craft customised for each leg of the trip, then trying to make a fleet of ships that tries to do the whole lot.
Especially when you think of reuse. A heavy lift can splash land and be reused (or recycled), a transport once already in "space" can be reused many times. Current designs that go all the way in one vehicle do a lot of throwing away.

Re:Moon base! (3, Interesting)

heptapod (243146) | about 8 years ago | (#15946392)

The International Space Station would be a good idea if they put it at L4 or L5. Sadly the Russkies can't make it that high with their equipment so humanity is stuck piddling around in LEO with no chance of going any further in the near future.

Re:Moon base! (2, Insightful)

fbjon (692006) | about 8 years ago | (#15946812)

Are you talking about a permanent station at Earth's L4/5?? Wouldn't we run into the same problems as with a Mars trip then? Ditto for the Moon's L4/5. Putting your first manned station with it's ass hanging in the (solar) wind doesn't seem sane to me.

Oh thank God! .... (2, Funny)

rune2 (547599) | about 8 years ago | (#15946302)

For moment I thought they were talking about a new version of IIS! Noooo!

Think about it. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15946309)

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_of_the_Unite d_States [wikipedia.org] :

The military expenditure of the United States Department of Defense for fiscal year 2006 is:
Total Funding $441.6 Billion
Operations and maintenance $124.3 Bil.
Military Personnel $108.8 Bil.
Procurement $79.1 Bil.
Research, Development, Testing & Evaluation $69.5 Bil.
Military Construction $12.2 Bil.
Department of Energy Defense Activities $17.0 Bil.

ISS doesn't sound very expensive to me. If you want to stop wasting money, stop spending it on lining the pockets of your defense contractors and causing untold grief in the middle east.

And to those who say 'Why are we doing it all? Why aren't there any other countries contributing $$$, vehicles etc?' Think about this:

1. Russia put up the first module.
2. Many countries are constructing ISS modules.
3. The shuttle was designated to transport said modules to ISS. Modules were designed specifically for transportation to ISS -BY_ the shuttle.
4. Many countries supply tech/hardware/people etc. .robot

Re:Think about it. (2, Insightful)

HansieC (861856) | about 8 years ago | (#15946356)

I would have argued that the ISS is part of military expenditure, particularly if Saddam actually has built a WMD factory in heaven disguised as a chocolate chip factory.

Re:Think about it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15946741)

Just file it under "U.S. Space Forces" and you've got plenty of support. It's all in

Re:Think about it. (1)

generic-man (33649) | about 8 years ago | (#15946748)

It's all in this helpful pamphlet. [newamericancentury.org]

Re:Think about it. (4, Insightful)

theantix (466036) | about 8 years ago | (#15946730)

That's a logically incoherent answer. If you're caught robbing a store, saying "but I just stole the candy bars, jimbo stole the safe" -- yeah well you still stole the frigging candy bars now didn't you?

Just because the USA spends a lot on military doesn't mean that the unrelated expenditure of the ISS isn't excessive compared to any other uses of the money. What you are REALLY saying is just that from your political perspective, those military expenditures are ones you don't respect and would prefer to see them cut first. That's a red herring from the issue of how much is the correct amount of money to spend on orbiting space station research.

If you cut the spending on the ISS, the gov't could spend that very significant amount money in any number of places or simply return it to the citizens via debt repayments or even tax cuts. Not _just_ the agencies you love to hate. If those agencies are overfunded their budgets ought to be cut, but again this has nothing to do with the funding of the ISS -- once those would be cut the question of how much to fund the ISS still remains.

Fact is, I agree with your implied position that the amount of money the US spends on defense is truly insane, while the amount of money to support the ISS is justified. But the argument you used to support that is total bull.

ISS Recipe (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15946348)

Ingredients:

1 Bottomless Pit
1 Endless Supply Of Cash

Method:

Being careful to ensure all cash disappears, begin feeding your Endless Supply Of Cash into your Bottomless Pit, making sure to maintain a consistant stream (otherwise someone may notice what's happening and interfere with the integrity of your Endless Supply Of Cash).

Re:ISS Recipe (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15946380)

Public: "But what does the ISS actually do?"

NASA: "What ever do you mean?"

Public: "You know, what is its purpose?"

NASA: "Purpose? Oh, right. Ahem, well, me and my buddies get a nice salary, a steady job and we get to play with model rockets sometimes which is really cool...."

Public: "Huh?"

NASA: "Oh. Erm. Oh yes! Research. There's lots of research involved. Of the non-specific kind. Well, mainly about how to prevent space stations breaking apart whilst in orbit. You know - technical stuff. You wouldn't understand, but it's VERY IMPORTANT!"

Public: "Have some more of our cash"

--
IBG

who cares (-1, Offtopic)

frankenheinz (976104) | about 8 years ago | (#15946379)

. . . more interesting is the US Gov't's crackdown on cell phone hackers as terrorists. Lots of news about that lately but nothing on/. ?

What happened to the ISS sinking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15946744)

Did they ever rectify the problem of the ISS sinking too much? I never heard anything more about that.

Will private space station be finished before ISS? (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | about 8 years ago | (#15946797)

Any bets on whether or not Bigelow Aerospace's [space.com] private space station(s) will be completed before the ISS is finished? Granted, part of the reason Bigelow Aerospace has been able to get so much done so quickly is because they bootstrapped on the TransHab technology abandoned by NASA.

a bleak day for science (2, Insightful)

m874t232 (973431) | about 8 years ago | (#15947167)

Sooner or later, we will have manned space stations. But the ISS and shuttle fleet are a bottomless pit, draining resources from all the great things we should be doing for space exploration. Well, soon all of that is going to be eclipsed by something even worse: premature attempts at manned trips to Mars.

The ISS, The Shuttle, and World Peace (1)

darrenadelaide (860548) | about 8 years ago | (#15948203)

Hey Guys,

I think that many people looking at the ISS are missing the big picture in all of this.

The Alternate purpose of the ISS is to bring many nations together to do something BIG where we all contribute as a planet and invest, not in the thing itself but invest in the relationships between the various partners, afterall twenty years ago who would have suggested to have the US and the former members of the USSR working together on a project designed to have a leapfrog to the planets and beyond..

What if the former soviet scientists who were unpaid for many months went to work for countries where theyre expertise would have been used to create weopons systems (yes I know many did go) instead of building something which proves the inter-dependance of all of us on this planet regardless of race, religion or nationality.

We face a time on this earth where the planet and our misconduct to it is about to get even.. you only have until 21st December 2012 then its all game over, so the best thing is to live in peace as much as we can until the time where events will test our human fellowship and endurance. The only real good points to us which will last for time in memorial are that our voices and a gleam of our civilisation is slowly floating away about the voyagers.

Yes the ISS costs a lot of money, but comparing it to the budgets of the war machines (especially the US military) the cost is a drop in an ocean, and if it brings us together as a leap of faith, the monetary figure is totally irrelevent.

We Need more of such events (iss), just astral travelling to the other planets and solar systems isnt enough, theres so much to see out there. Just watching the dark clear sky from Myponga (South Australia - 50miles south of Adelaide, a very high glowing energy place to those like myself who are highly intuitive) we can all see the satellites and our interstellar travellers out (often) there but its important that we do have more meaningful contact on our terms.

In order to survive we must do more, this planet has had many generations of civilisations on it before, we werent the first and we wont be the last but still lets leave a legacy to the next group as we received from the ancient egyptians/atlantians civilisation who gave to us, maybe then we may rise from our level zero civilisation (see http://mkaku.org/article_physicsofextra.htm [mkaku.org] for description of level 0-4 civilisations) that we may sew the seeds so we do finally make it to eternity, to become a creator ourselves.

Live in Peace everyone
Darren

tricky homographs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15948569)

I was thinking they were looking to fill some jobs...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homographs [wikipedia.org]

$30 billion dollars a bed (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 8 years ago | (#15948607)

Expensive space dorm in my opinion: $90 billion for three inhabitants. (It was cut to two after the Columbia accident to lessen re-supply needs, but is back to three. Two are needed for minimal maintenance.)
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