Kerry and NASA

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bretl

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I am kind of new to the boards, but I am a volunteer for the Planetary Society and we are going to be putting on some events pretty soon discussing the differences between Bush and Kerry when it comes to NASA. I am not a straight out Bush supporter so dont get me wrong.<br /><br />I must admit with all the politics going on I have not heard Kerry really say anything about what he plans to do about NASA's future. That I think is a critical issue that should be addressed. I am currently researching the subject but I just wanted to know what all of you thought about the matter.
 
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arobie

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Kerry's Stance on the Space Program is a thread that you might find very interesting.<br /><br />Space.com Article: Kerry Interview about Space.<br /><br /><br />Kerry is definitely not good for space. He does not support expanding past LEO. He would prefer us to continue going around in circles around Earth. Also his voting record on space issues is disguting.<br /><br />Kerry's Voting Record on Space:<br /><br />1991: Kerry Voted To "Reduce Funding For The Space Station From $2 Billion To $100 Million," And Transfer Funds To Other Programs. (H.R. 2519, CQ Vote #132: Rejected 35-64: R 3-40; D 32-24, 7/17/91, Kerry Voted Yea) <br /><br />1992: Kerry Voted To Terminate Space Station "Freedom" Project. (H.R. 5679, CQ Vote #194: Rejected 34-63: R 4-39; D 30-24, 9/9/92, Kerry Voted Yea) <br /><br />1993: Kerry Voted "To Terminate The Space Station Program."(H.R. 2491, CQ Vote #272: Motion Agreed To 59-40: R 36-8; D 23-32, 9/21/93, Kerry Voted Nay) <br /><br />1993: Kerry Voted To Terminate Space Station Program And Divert Funds To Tax Cuts. (H.R. 3167, CQ Vote #335: Motion Rejected 36-61: R 10-32; D 26-29, 10/27/93, Kerry Voted Yea) <br /><br />1994: Kerry Voted To Cut $1.9 Billion From Space Station Program And Terminate Program. (H.R. 4624, CQ Vote #253: Rejected 36-64: R 6-38; D 30-26, 8/3/94, Kerry Voted Yea) <br /><br />1994: Kerry Unsuccessful In Cutting Space Station Funds Due To International Opposition. ("Space-Station," The Canadian Press, 2/22/94) <br /><br />1995: Kerry Introduced Legislation To Eliminate Space Station And The National Aerospace Plane Program. (Kathy Gambrell, "Aide: Kerry Supports NASA, But Not Bush Space Program," Aerospace Daily, 5/4/04) <br /><br />1995: Kerry Voted To Reduce NASA Funding By $400 Million. (H.R. 889, CQ Vote #105: Moti
 
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bretl

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Everything that I have come up with so far has not been very flattering for Kerry, thanks for the post Arobie with some more information.
 
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phaedrus

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Not flattering from the point of view of a NASA cheerleader. Technological development builds step by step and throwing money into the system doesn't change that. I live near Marshall Space Flight Center, and I can tell you a lot of the arrogant entrenched bureaucrats you want to write blank checks to couldn't cut it in the private sector.<br /><br />Maybe you're just into welfare for the aerospace industry or maybe this has nothing to do with space .... ?
 
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commander_keen

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>1993: Kerry Voted To Terminate Space Station Program And Divert Funds To Tax Cuts. (H.R. 3167, CQ Vote #335: Motion Rejected 36-61: R 10-32; D 26-29, 10/27/93, Kerry Voted Yea) <p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />Now thats just really ironic right there.
 
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bretl

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Well in the long run I really do support the privatization of NASA, well I actually support the privatization of many government organizations. Call me a libertarian all you want but it just makes sense to stop throwing money into a pork barrel which isn't always completely devoted to what they should be doing. Instead you could privatize the organization which would force them to compete in the real world markets and we all know that competition is what drives the economy (if you don't beleive that you need ecenomics).<br /><br />The main problem with this is still that there wouldn't be that much competition in the space program AT THE MOMENT. And that is why the coming century with the new Bush initiative is so exciting, because it also gives the opportunity for competition to start building in the space industry.
 
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rogers_buck

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When Kerry was a senator he voted for the interests of his state and for his world view. For that he can be proud of voting to axe the ISS. The ISS is a drain on the space program with no scientific value and little operational value. Even the so called Bush plan begins with the end of the ISS.<br /><br />Kerry voted against the "global clipper." That was a big money project without legs. <br /><br />Kerry has not come out against the agenda of a return to the moon. China's announced goals for lunar exploration has pretty much set the agenda for American's return to the moon. Kerry has come out for lowering the cost to orbit. Few who care to have a practical space based future can dispute the merits of that position. Kerry has critisized the so called Bush plans financial basis. Given his insights into the global clipper and the ISS I think he should be taken seriously there. Kerry has indicated that NASA needs more money to do the jobs it must do going forward.<br /><br />The anti-NASA play is just election spin. As with many things you can be for a goal and kill a goal by bad management. You can state lofty goals like Bush Sr. but if you do not follow through with funding and support they will not materialize.
 
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bobvanx

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I'll be supporting Kerry, but with reservations. The main one is he doesn't seem to understand just how powerfully useful space can be.<br /><br />He wants to generate jobs in the tech sector. Well guess what? Those can be space jobs! He wants to promote energy self sufficiency. Amazing! These two goals dovetail right in with space expenditure, in this way:<br /><br />Solar Power Satellites.<br /><br />It's a technology that only waits for us to have the courage and persistence to see it through. It would free us from dependence on foreign energy, and also free us from burning coal here at home.<br /><br />Also, it would cost less than the war in Iraq to build. In fact, the first system to demonstrate its feasibility would cost as much as California overspent for electricity during their energy crisis.<br /><br />I would dearly love to sit and talk with him about how realistic it is, as a goal, and how many benefits would flow from its realization. But I don't have the ear of the senator. So he'll probably never know what a wonderful opportunity Space Solar Power really is.
 
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spayss

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Sit down a hundred space keeners and you'll get a hundred ideas where to spend space resources.<br /> <br /> Your 'realistic' goal isn't someone else's realistic goal. Especially not the goal of those not interested in space.<br /><br /> If it's so 'realistic', then you should be able to convince private individuals to invest their pay checks in it.
 
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bobvanx

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Yeah, you're right. But one thing that engineers and entreprenuers are good at, is accepting new information and letting it change their perception.<br /><br />I've gone a long road to understanding just how vital Space Solar Power is, and the truth is that when you take the time to look at the Really Big Picture, and you define the problem as carefully as we currently can, Space Solar Power simply leaps off the page.
 
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mrmorris

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<font color="yellow">"...Space Solar Power simply leaps off the page."</font><br /><br />I'm well into the 'extremist' category on pushing the exploration of space and the use of extra-terrrestrial resources. However -- what I've read of space-based powersats makes them impractical for a <b>long</b> time to come (and perhaps forever).<br /><br />Space-based solar only gains three advantages over ground-based solar: <br /><br />1. Continuous or near-continuous sunlight<br />2. Ability to maintain a 90-degree angle to the sun.<br />3. Higher energy levels above the atmosphere.<br /><br />However -- in gaining those advantages, powersats encounter a significant number of downsides:<br /><br />1. Power must be beamed down to earth <br /> - ~50% loss of power negates most of the benefit of 2 & 3 above.<br /> - Rectennas must be constructed groundside.<br /> - The microwave beams spearing down from space are a significant hazard for people, planes, and wildlife.<br />2. The cost of sending the powersat mass to orbit makes each powersat cost **many** times what an equivalent solar array on the ground would.<br />3. Servicing the sats is several orders of magnitude more difficult and expensive than equivalent service on a groundside array.<br />4. Conditions in orbit will degrade the equipment faster than earth -- especially compared to the arid conditions of the American southwest where solar is considered most ideal for.<br />5. A powersat system would be <b>much</b> more complicated than an equivalent ground-based solar power farm, shattering the KISS principle into tiny pieces.<br /><br /><br />The only things that would make Powersats practical in my mind is if they occur after we have a significant, permanent manned presence in space <b>and</b> can build them in orbit from extraterrestrial resources (possibly lunar regolith or asteroidal material). This will still leave the beamed power problems, but will mitigate the rest. <br /><br />As for the beamed powe
 
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bobvanx

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I'm not sure where you get your numbers from.<br /><br />The "losses" of terrestrial solar power, since it's in shadow at least 50% of the day, and might require cleaning, and might be in shadow sometimes, are close to 60% even in the best locations.<br /><br />The "losses" of space based PV, assuming photocells of similar efficiency (which is cheating, since a space system is going to lag behind a terrestrial system by a few percent, since it's tougher to upgrade; but bear with me) are far less.<br /><br />First though, I have to clear up the myth about the microwaves: they aren't as hazardous as people fear. The system should be tuned so that they are 1/4 the power of raw sunlight, and they cover a rather small area, and their energy is absored by the rectenna so that the space under is less hazardous yet.<br /><br />Sulfur emissions from coal power is a much larger concern. Nuclear waste is a much larger concern. Greenhouse gasses are a much larger concern.<br /><br />Anyway, the rectenna operates at better than 80% efficiency with 25% less energy, 24 hours of the day, as oposed to terrestrial solar cells, operating at 20% to maybe 30% efficiency from 100% sunlight, less than 12 hours each day. So energy delivered into the grid is roughly double with the space-based system.<br /><br />And that'll stay true, no matter how much PV improves. You'll always get more electricity delivered if you bring the energy down from space.<br /><br />PS I'd like super-conducting tethers, too. Solar cells at the space end, power grid at the bottom. But we don't have to wait for that.
 
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pizzaguy

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<b>First though, I have to clear up the myth about the microwaves: they aren't as hazardous as people fear. The system should be tuned so that they are 1/4 the power of raw sunlight,..."</b><br /><br />HUH? So, what do you "tune" them to? I mean, at what frequency are you going to send the energy down so that it's not dangerous? I can't wait for this one.<br /><br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1"><em>Note to Dr. Henry:  The testosterone shots are working!</em></font> </div>
 
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bobvanx

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Whoops!<br /><br />Pizzaguy, I'm guilty of using the word poetically. Shame on me. I don't mean that there's a magic frequency in the EM that's less hazardous than another. Any part of the spectrum is deadly at high enough power.<br /><br />That's the point I want to make: that we already use microwaves for communication and in radar systems, so we have lots of data regarding this risk. Microwave radiation at 25% of sunlight's strength is benign.
 
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bobvanx

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BTW, even though I used it poetically, I was following common usage as I wrote of tuning the entire system.<br /><br />Follow-up on risk: I would rather live within a mile of a rectenna than a coal-fired powerplant, a nuclear power plant, a solid-waste gassification power plant...<br /><br />And finally, the only two types of power that have less impact on the environment are hydro and geothermal. And they have their own not inconsiderable impacts, too.
 
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mrmorris

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<font color="yellow">"I'm not sure where you get your numbers from. "</font><br /><br />I read it sometime ago -- couldn't tell you the source to save my life. However -- a few quick Googles found one source to support my number of ~50% and a second to support yours of ~85%. Most lieky the book I read had dated information (although the 85% was only over a distance of 1.3 kilometers -- a fraction of a percent of the distance to a GEO powersat). Of course a third link brought up a point I'd forgotten. Namely that the transmitting rectenna has to be 1/2 mile in diameter. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br /><font color="yellow">"The "losses" of terrestrial solar power..."</font><br /><br />True enough. However -- you can build a terrestrial plant twenty times the size of a space based one for the same cost. With an adequate storage system, it can provide more continuous energy than the powersat.<br /><br /><font color="yellow">"First though, I have to clear up the myth about the microwaves..."</font><br /><br />It's not a myth -- it a hypothesis. You can't clear it up because you don't know the answer -- you just have an opinion. <b>Nobody</b> knows the answer because no one has done sufficient testing to determine it. The technology has <b>never</b> been used to trasmit megawatts of power -- much less the hundreds of megawatts generally planned of powersats.<br /><br /><font color="yellow">"Sulfur emissions from coal ..."</font><br /><br />Granted -- but these don't make space-based solar better than terrestrial-based... which is what the discussion is about.<br /><br /><br />
 
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mrmorris

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<font color="yellow">"And finally, the only two types of power that have less impact on the environment are hydro and geothermal. "</font><br /><br />You missed the best one -- wind. It's actually the lowest impact <b>and</b> the lowest cost per megawatt renewable energy form in use today. Installed costs on utility scale windmills are right at $1/watt at this time (close to an order of magnitude below the cost of PV).
 
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bobvanx

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<font color="yellow">You missed the best one -- wind.</font><br /><br />D'oh!
 
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strandedonearth

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What about PV-coated windmills above a PV farm? Multi-modal power farms! Throw in a geothermal loop or 10! <img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" />
 
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mrmorris

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<font color="yellow">"What about PV-coated windmills above a PV farm? "</font><br /><br />Unfortunately -- the locations are seldom ideal for both (at least in the US -- I can't speak globally). Ideal solar sites are the American southwest (Arizona, Nevada, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, and parts of California). Major wind sites are a strip down the center of the US (North & South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas) and certain mountain and seaboard locations. Texas, is one of the exceptions to the rule, having good solar and wind resources.<br /><br />North Dakota alone supposedly has enough high-quality wind energy sites to supply 30% of the electrical needs of the US. And this was from a study done in the late 80's, when wind power was considerably less efficient.
 
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bobvanx

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http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99991470<br /><br />Air Force scientists helped set the present skin safety threshold of 10 milliwatts per square centimetre in the early 1990s, when little data was available, says Louis Slesin, editor of Microwave News. <br /><br />A study published last year in the journal Health Physics showed that exposure to 2 watts per square centimetre for three seconds could damage the corneas of rhesus monkeys.<br /><br /><hr /><br /><br />The strength of sunlight is .13 watt per cm^2. The Airforce set safe exposure at 0.01 watt for microwaves (unknown frequency). Testing on monkeys show damage occuring at 200x that level, in 3 minutes.<br /><br />The beam of the SPS system is 25% of sunlight, so it's 0.033 watt per cm^2, which is just 3x the exposure level set by the Airforce, and 60x less than the exposure on the monkeys.<br /><br />You're right, there's not a whole lot of data. It's wonderful that we are cautious. But we weren't cautious when it mattered, with wood, coal, oil and nuclear, so it's sort of like closing the barn door after the animals have escaped to be cautious now.<br /><br />And we need to get the good data to show what frequency and exposure is "safe enough." Maybe we'll find out that the exposure can be higher, and then the rectenna can be smaller. Maybe we won't. The beam will transmit about 1200 megawatts to yield a 1000 mw power station, but we can spread that beam very thin if needed.<br /><br /><font color="yellow">but these don't make space-based solar better than terrestrial-based... which is what the discussion is about. </font><br /><br />I'm still discussing why John Kerry needs a space program, and why SPS needs to be a national goal. Explaining the shortfalls of terrestrial PV is part of that.
 
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bobvanx

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What about PV under the rectenna, over a geothermal field?<br /><br />One thing is, the power companies want the plants to be in the 500mw to 2500mw range, and they love 1000mw facilities. The reason is the transmission lines: if a 1000mw plant drops off, the lines can take it. But if a 5000mw or a 10mw plant drops off the grid, it can cause a cascading power outage.<br /><br />So setting aside for the fact that there are only about five places on earth with enough geotermal heat and sunlight, your three-tier plant would be very cool!
 
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bobvanx

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Also, do you know about the PowerTube for Geothermal? By far the niftiest "save the planet" power technology that has come along on decades.
 
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bobvanx

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<font color="yellow"> North Dakota alone supposedly has enough high-quality wind energy sites to supply 30% of the electrical needs of the US.</font><br /><br />Space Based Solar has enough high-qualilty sites to provide the U.S. with 300% of its electricity needs.<br /><br />There's the part of the equation that, in my analysis, trumps all the others: cost, feasibility, risk...<br /><br />When you look at the growth of prosperity over a historic timescale, how wealthy we are (the wealth in the world) is directly related to how much energy we have to use. Not cheap energy, just energy. The wealth you see around you exists because oil is so damn powerful and useful. The U.S. is built on Texas oil.<br /><br />The U.S. is the wealthiest country in the world, but the world wants to catch up. They think they need oil to do this. And we think we need oil, too. We're wrong: we need <b>energy.</b> For the world to live at near U.S. levels, requires 3 Earth's worth of energy resources.<br /><br />The only way you're going to do this, to provide the tools the world wants to keep its babies from dying from lack of clean water, its farms full of good food, its cities humming with industry, is with SPS.<br /><br />If we invent it and develop it, then we can sell it.<br /><br />If the Japanese invent and develop it, then we will buy it from them.<br /><br />Either option is ok, just in one we get to be top dog of a bigger pile of wealth, and in the other, some other energy strapped nation gets to.
 
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mrmorris

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<font color="yellow">"The beam will transmit about 1200 megawatts to yield a 1000 mw power station, but we can spread that beam very thin if needed. "</font><br /><br />Using .01 watts/cm2, you'd need a rectenna on the ground that encompassed 12 square kilometers.<br />Using the .033, you'd still need one encompassing 3.63 square kilometers.<br /><br /><br />The power density of sunlight at the surface of the Earth is approximately 100 mW/cm². Using multijunction cells, efficiencies in the range of 35% are possible. Figure a 70% PV-farm utilization of the two areas in question (12 and 3.6 square kilometers) the same area used by the rectenna could generate about:<br /><br /> .035 W/cm2 * 120,000,000,000 cm2 *.7 = 2940 megawatts.<br /> .035 W/cm2 * 36,363,636,363 cm2 *.7 = 891 megawatts.<br /><br />While it's certainly true that the 0.033 watt per cm^2 figure will yield a larger energy return from the area in question than a solar farm -- it does so at an enormous cost. Unless I've made an error in the figures (certainly possible) -- the figures as shown would seem to clearly indicate that a ground-based PV farm is the better investment. For the price of the powersat and rectenna -- a truly massive farm could be built groundside, and eliminate all need for beaming the power or potential downsides thereof.<br /><br /><font color="yellow">"I'm still discussing why John Kerry needs a space program, and why SPS needs to be a national goal."</font><br /><br />It only <b>needs</b> to be a goal if it not only makes sense but makes <b>more</b> sense than possible alternatives. *I* don't think that it does. The case I've presented seems to be a fairly good indicator that my thinking isn't totally off base. The only things you've argued are that powersats generate considerably more power for a given area of PV (granted) and that large scale beaming of power via microwaves isn't dangerous, you <i>think</i>. You've ignored the cost issue, and that is the death kne
 
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