To be honest, when I heard John Young report, "Houston, Columbia is out of Flight Level 4500 at Mach 25!" on the re-entry of the first Shuttle Flight, I thought we finally had a less expensive, reliable access to space. Obviously, time and circumstances proved that to be a false hope! <img src="/images/icons/frown.gif" /><br /><br />Now, I would hope to be optimistic, but frankly, given the American public's short attention span (which applies to 9/11 visa vis Iraq, and other things that would have held our attention during WWII, etc.), and the political climate today, I'm hopeful, but somewhat guarded in my outlook on the future of American human space exploration.<br /><br />The most bothersome thing is the amount of negative comments coming from previously ardent supporters of almost ANY manned space effort (prior to there being much of anything beyond LEO). Sure, we'd like to see some dramatically new crewed spaceship! It would be wonderful if we had a SSTO that was inexpensive, reliable and POSSIBLE! Sure, we'd like to have fast access to Mars and research bases on the Moon. Sure, we'd like to have warp drive, etc. But right now, none of those things are realistically possible.<br /><br />So we have the choice of either accepting what we can build, based on PROVEN previous technology AND what we can AFFORD! So, for right now, it is either "Apollo on steroids!" or NOTHING! And I guarrantee that if we kill human space exploration and try to substitute robotic probes exclusively, within one or two Congressional and perhaps the next administration change, there will BE NO UNmanned space program. And if that happens, America will lose our technological lead in the world economy!<br /><br />We also have a problem in interesting young people in getting into science and technology fields, much less getting into aerospace fields. This has a potential for a real debacle down the line!!! We MUST develop programs (such as I have started) to reach kids as early as possible
<i>We also have a problem in interesting young people in getting into science and technology fields, much less getting into aerospace fields. This has a potential for a real debacle down the line!!!</i><br /><br />I went into the aerospace field to hopefully work on groundbreaking programs like NASP or VentureStar, not to help resurrect old designs to re-create Apollo.
VSE is not an Apollo recreation. (although Apollo is certainly worth recreating imho)<br /><br />What's the problem? The use of rocket engines? A pointy capsule? A separate lunar lander? <br /><br />VS and NASP were both Earth orbiters. That's been done. Let's get out there again! <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" />
If the alt.space is going to create this space nirvana then what difference does it make what NASA does? Why do you even care if these little start ups will be selling tickets to Mars next week?<br /><br />
I haven't felt this good about the space program since Apollo. For the first time in 33 years we have a realistic chance to escape from the LEO rut and get back to some real manned space exploration. It isn't assured, it isn't a done deal, but it's actually a reasonable chance that we will see something more than endless repetitions of what Mercury and Gemini accomplished 40 years ago.<br /><br />
> <i><font color="yellow">I haven't felt this good about the space program since Apollo. For the first time in 33 years we have a realistic chance to escape from the LEO rut and get back to some real manned space exploration.</font>/i><br /><br />I generally agree. (1) I think NASA has the most realistic plan with the most competent leader in decades. (2) A reinvigorated Russia and the introduction of an ambitious China will probably keep NASA's feet to the fire and reduce the chance of Congress from backing away. Finally, (3) private enterprise is finally getting serious about space, and (4) there is a real possibility that even I will see the black skies of space and the curve of our planet, even if only on a suborbital flight.<br /><br />A lot has changed since Columbia.</i>
<i> there is a real possibility that even I will see the black skies of space and the curve of our planet, even if only on a suborbital flight. </i><br /><br />That is an exciting prospect, moreso than the prospect of sending 4 elite astronauts to the moon a couple of times per year! Not that I don't think there should be professional astronauts doing real exploration, but fwiw the possibility of opening up space to "normal" people excites me more. <br /><br />One thing that is clear to me is that if I am to even hope to afford a suborbital flight during my lifetime, I'd better get the hell out of engineering! Want to know why more young people aren't going into engineering? Why would they want to work their ass off in an academically demanding engineering program, only to be treated like slaves in the workforce, working for some company run by overpaid business or finance people with inflated egos, and always worrying about the next RIF or having their job shipped to India or China?! Sure, sometimes work sucks no matter what field you're in, but I'm thinking that business or law school at least seems like it will lead to a more financially rewarding career than sticking with engineering will.
I am just waiting for the big games companies - Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, to get robotic droids onto the moon that i can purchase for no more than 4 figures and which i can control from my pc, and see through cameras which are the robots eyes.<br /><br />I want to ride around and work with other players and build little solar cells or bricks which a commercial company might purchase for a few dollars in their own private moon missions (imagine if you could buy all the material to build a very basic lunar base for like $10 million which is paid to 1,000s of computer gamers across the world?). <br /><br />I also want to engage in battles on the moon for fun, having wars with other robots, but we would be watched by more powerful Overlord bots that are operated by the company employees.<br /><br />Imagine - millions of normal people with a small robot (maybe only half a foot tall or weighing less than 5lbs), they could not do much by themselves, but united they could really do some amazing feats.<br /><br />Fact - barring some anti gravity device or a very lucky employment, us regular joes are not going to step foot on the moon, so the next best thing is to have an Avatar so we can experience and explore the moon privately as we wish in our own time.<br /><br />The robots could be sent up in batches on Falcon rockets and be controlled via a moon - earth internet. Yes there would be a time delay but it isn't that bad. <br /><br />And i heard there is even a prospect in the future of faster than light communication.
<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>has there been a time, since apollo, that has made you more optimistic about humanity in space than now? <p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />My life never overlapped with Apollo, but I remember watching Columbia's first flight as a little kid. I was so optimistic and excited. However, time taught me that manned space flight is incredibly expensive and difficult for any nation to sustain. Since I let go of my little fantasy to jump around on the moon, I've gotten excited by so many things:<br /><br />- The Hubble space telescope, in my opinion the flagship program of the entire space age<br />- The Mars exploration program<br />- Galileo<br />- Cassini Huygens<br /><br />But the most optimistic time for me was with the announcement of Project Prometheus and the related JIMO. Finally, I thought, we'd be able to really explore our solar system. We'd be able to rapidly visit a multitude of celestial objects with enough instruments and power to make meaningful discoveries. Perhaps, given enough time, Prometheus would even make manned spaceflight economically feasible.<br /><br />Then JIMO was canned. Now Prometheus is all but dead. Right now my optimism is at an all time low.
> <i><font color="yellow">One thing that is clear to me is that if I am to even hope to afford a suborbital flight during my lifetime, I'd better get the hell out of engineering!</font>/i><br /><br />Business and law school are fine, but don't be too down on engineering. The key to acquiring wealth is to live below your means so you have plenty of money to invest early and often. If you get a chance, read "The Millionaire Next Door" and/or "The Millionaire Mind".<br /><br />Engineering, especially in computer science and bioinformatics, can still make a lot of money. Today's Wall Street Journal had an article about a new bidding war for engineers, driven to a great extent by Google.</i>
"For those who have been around long enough to remember apollo, has there been a time, since apollo, that has made you more optimistic about humanity in space than now?"<br /><br />Absolutely! Not only is NASA once again outward bound, China is now out in space, Europe and Russia have ambitious plans and even private citizens and private companies are taking the plunge.
>>Houston, Columbia is out of Flight Level 4500 at Mach 25<<<br /><br />He actually said "Mach 10.5". This is about the speed where entry-interface ends. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p>One Percent of Federal Funding For Space: America <strong><em><u>CAN</u></em></strong> Afford it!! LEO is a <strong><em>Prison</em></strong> -- It's time for a <em><strong>JAILBREAK</strong></em>!!</p> </div>
Bush's Space Plan in Danger<br /><br />http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/23/AR2005112301970.html<br /><br />Okay, I will concede that if budgets are going to be tight and our government will not increase its investment in human spaceflight, then maybe a simple capsule design is the best way to go. I can't fault NASA for being realistic, I guess. But I do fault this nation for not striving to do better. We can afford to do so much more in space...
I think this has been planned all along to speed up the Shuttle 's demise (which is good because the Shuttle is a drain that accepts only $$$) while allowing the US to save face with its ISS partners, i.e. having an excuse to stop spending money on the ISS because republicans don't like to cooperate with other countries cause they think the US of A is too good for those eurotrash (they have topless beaches...they be damned) and asians (remember, they bombed us in 1941, they be sneaky small yellow people). <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>http://asteroid-invasion.blogspot.com</p><p>http://www.solvengineer.com/asteroid-invasion.html </p><p> </p> </div>
I was very optimistic in 2004 when all this started. Now that everything's wrapped up in the political red tape and uncertainty, I'm a lot more cautious, but still hopeful. Unfortunately, I've lost a lot of faith in NASA's ability to do anything without freaking out and grounding the program every time anything happens, but I still want to believe that there's a chance. I'm not about to join the crowd who says that manned spaceflight isn't useful for anything, or that robots are so much more exciting, because that simply isn't the case, for me. Still, I would be a lot more excited if nasa actually did something, like launch the shuttle :- ... I realize they need to get their foam issues fixed, but did they not spend 2.5 years doing it? The foam is either going to fall off, or it isn't. Just launch the thing, or retire it, I say. But, I'm not an aerospace engineer, so I guess I don't fully understand the complexity involved. <br /><br />I suppose "Cautiously optimistic" describes my mood right about now. Or hoping that if this plan doesn't work, something will come along and MAKE it work <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" />
<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>I realize they need to get their foam issues fixed, but did they not spend 2.5 years doing it? The foam is either going to fall off, or it isn't. Just launch the thing, or retire it, I say. But, I'm not an aerospace engineer, so I guess I don't fully understand the complexity involved. <p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />I agree with your sentiment. I find it so ironic that in the eighties and nineties a lot of work was done to develop a backup spacecraft in case the shuttle got grounded to ensure we have access to space. Unfortunately it seems we haven't learnt our lesson. We're spending billions on one spacecraft, with no sign of a backup system.
Army Delays SpaceX Launch 24 Hours<br />SpaceX Falcon Launch Delayed by 24 Hours<br /><br />"SpaceX was just informed that "in order to facilitate preparations for a missile defense launch", the Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) has bumped the SpaceX Falcon 1 maiden flight from its officially scheduled launch date of Friday, November 25 at 1 p.m. PST (9 p.m. GMT). The new launch time is Saturday, November 26 1 p.m. PST (9 p.m. GMT)." <br /><br />How about Saturday?<br />Dang government conspiring to shut down private space access. lol <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>I'm not a rocket scientist, but I do play one on the TV in my mind.</p> </div>