NASA's Top 3 Priorities

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rickm99

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I would like to poll everyone who is interest on what they feel NASA's top 3 priorities should be. I will start it off:<br /><br />1) CATS - Cheap Access to Space<br />2) Promoting spin-off’s and the commercialization of space<br />3) Exploration & science.<br /><br />I feel that NASA should devote most of its resources to opening up space for the rest of us. The best and only way I can think of doing this is through the development of CATS technology. Now granted private industry is making headways in this area with the X-Prize but I feel there should be government incentives and support.<br /><br />There is historical precedence for this. The America's were not discovered and colonized until it was made easily accessible to private industry. Queen Isabella helped Columbus by funding his venture. Look at this as one of the first entrepreneurs seeking and getting venture capital with government help.<br /><br />The second example is the American West. Two things made the colonization of the west explode: 1) Discovery of gold, 2) and the transcontinental railroad. The railroad is an excellent example of CATS.<br /><br />Once orbital space is conquered, NASA should refocus to just exploration and to continue to support industry where needed.<br /><br />I truly believe (like it or not) that business is the dominant institution in the world and the only one most capable of taking humanity to the next level and government should support it in the best tradition of free eneterpise.<br /><br />Thank you,<br /><br />Rick<br />
 
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jcdenton

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<i>"For NASA, space is still a high priority."</i> - Dan Quayle<br /><br />Sorry I couldn't help it <img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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Leovinus

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This is just space-related priorities since NASA is 1/2 aeronautics:<br /><br />1) Get the Pluto probe going before that planet's atmosphere re-freezes onto the surface.<br />2) Make access to space cheaper by replacing the aging space shuttle with BDBs for cargo and small simple crew ships.<br />3) Finish the darned ISS.<br />4) Figure out how to protect humans from space radiation for multi-year flights<br />5) Return to the Moon to stay which will perfect building biohabitats which are self-sustaining without constant resupply from Earth<br />6) Go to Mars. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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lunatic133

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I disagree. I think that, with the flight of SS1 and the possibility of space tourism, the private industry should handle CATS and opening space to the masses while NASA, at the same time, handles exploration and science. But that is just me.
 
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spacester

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Excellent post, rickm99. We are on the same page. <br /><br />Just a nitpick, though: NASA should keep its focus on exploration; it's what they do well. <br /><br />The gummint can support private development of CATS by simply paying for the delivery of payloads. If you don't have to pay for resupply for the next ten years, you have a pretty nice start on a winning business plan.<br /><br />All it takes is money to support CATS development. The feds could sign contracts with rocket builders to pay $X for Y tons upon successful delivery to a private space station or ISS. Presto! You just leveraged taxpayer dollars into a privately funded, multi-pronged CATS development program.<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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yurkin

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1) CEV<br />2) ISS/STS finish/RTF<br />3) Martian exploration<br />4) JIMO "Prometheus"<br />5) Lunar exploration<br />6) Hubble/James Webb/TPF<br /><br />and the list goes on
 
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CalliArcale

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>"For NASA, space is still a high priority." - Dan Quayle<br /><br />Sorry I couldn't help it <p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />FYI, space is indeed a high priority for NASA, but it is not its sole domain. It is, after all, the National <i>Aeronautics</i> and Space Administration. We tend to forget the aeronautics part. NASA spends a great deal of effort on stuff to improve civil aviation and related fields within the Earth's atmosphere. For instance, they recently developed a cool fly-by-wire system that allows a pilot to steer a twin-or-more-engine commercial airliner with thrust alone, giving them the ability to land in the event of a complete hydraulics failure.<br /><br />I have no idea what the context of Quayle's comment was, and frankly, I do think he's enough of an idiot to have said that in the wrong context, but he might have been responding to somebody wondering if NASA was going to be ditching space entirely to focus on aeronautics, or he might have been responding a context where he would have been understood to be talking about manned endeavors. It would be a fair question, and a fair answer, either way. Or he might have just been acting like an idiot. Sometimes it's hard to tell with politicians. <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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jcdenton

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Well one can never forget the 'aeronautics' part of Nasa, not with the flight of the X-43A earlier this year. Quayle's statement just sounds like one of those "the sky is blue" statements, as if the only thing he knows about Nasa is that its a space agency. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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blacknebula

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I still look up Quayle quotes when I need a laugh <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" />.
 
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thecolonel

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1) Return Shuttle to Flight<br />2) Finish ISS<br />3) Get out of LEO
 
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blacknebula

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1) Get rid of the Shuttle/ISS<br />2) Return to the moon<br />3) Go to Mars
 
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rickm99

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I am pleased with the positive and well-thought responses this posting has received from many of you. This is the type of discussion I like seeing albeit the jokes.<br /><br />Many have you have made some very interesting comments as to what you see as NASA's top 3 priorities but have not explained why. I think that would add value to your postings.<br /><br />Those of you who have pointed out the "Aeronautics" in NASA... Bravo. The X-43 is a good case in point.<br /><br />For you who have pointed out that NASA's job should be exploration, I totally agree but with the limited resources NASA has, I think there should be a reallocation towards making sure we get easy access to space and also out of LEO. I believe this will greatly enable all types of exploration, manned and unmanned.<br /><br />What do you think?<br /><br />Cheers!<br /><br />Rick<br />
 
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spayss

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Manned space: Reset the clock to the end of the Apollo program and start fresh.<br /><br /> Unmanned space: Continue on with incredible dicoveries. <br /><br />
 
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radarredux

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> <i><font color="yellow">I would like to poll everyone who is interest on what they feel NASA's top 3 priorities should be. I will start it off: <br /><br />1) CATS - Cheap Access to Space <br />2) Promoting spin-off’s and the commercialization of space <br />3) Exploration & science.</font>/i><br /><br />Generally I agree, but for this discussion I am going to take a more extreme position.<br /><br />I think the US should continue to spend $15-16 billion for space and related science (I am less inclined to support aeronautics), but it should get rid of NASA!<br /><br />Over several Q&A sessions at NASA facilities recently I have heard a lot of employees complain about the commercialization, the FFRDC plans, etc., and ask "Why can't they just give us the money and let us get to work?"<br /><br />My response is that if the employees think they are the best ones to get the job done (whatever the job happens to be), they should quit NASA, form a company, and compete for dollars on the open market.<br /><br />Also, the US space program should avoid monolithic efforts like the ISS and shuttle that suck up virtually all the available resources.</i>
 
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rickm99

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Shuttle Guy thank you for the correction. You sound informed. By the way, I do not remember if you commented on what you think NASA's top 3 priorities should be. If not do you mind sharing?
 
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propforce

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What???? no Shuttle?<br /><br />What would become the Shuttle_Guy when there's no shuttle left? <img src="/images/icons/shocked.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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propforce

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Hmmm... CG .... I guess that would have double meaning <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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Swampcat

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Retired_Guy ? <img src="/images/icons/cool.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="3" color="#ff9900"><p><font size="1" color="#993300"><strong><em>------------------------------------------------------------------- </em></strong></font></p><p><font size="1" color="#993300"><strong><em>"I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government."</em></strong></font></p><p><font size="1" color="#993300"><strong>Thomas Jefferson</strong></font></p></font> </div>
 
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flynn

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1) Support a X-Prize plus+ range of competitions<br /><br />I'm not talking a million bucks to whoever can build a better microgravity pen, I'm talking real goals to push back boundries and drive down costs. Goals that offer real economical rewards other than the prize (such as lucrative contracts, space tourism, commercialisation, exploration).<br /><br />2) Drive down launch costs via DDB and get a way getting people into orbit safely and cheaply. Once there get them into the ISS and onwards to the moon<br /><br />3) Don't let unmanned exploration suffer at the hands of manned exploration, good science costs money. Look at Cassini, but its a drop in the ocean to the manned flight program. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font color="#800080">"All God does is watch us and kill us when we get boring. We must never, ever be boring" - <strong>Chuck Palahniuk</strong>.</font> </div>
 
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erauskydiver

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I have to look at NASA as a whole since it only has one budget...<br /><br />1. Commercial and General Aviation Air Safety<br />2. STS RTF<br />3. Finish ISS<br />4. Develop CEV<br />5. CATS<br />6. Assist with the privatization of space
 
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vgeric

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I agree with Leovinus....<br /><br />The Pluto mission I think should be first priority right now. I mean, have we even got a "decent" surface picture with detail? I want to know what it REALLY looks like... There is so much we don't know about Pluto and what is beyond it. Pluto all the way! I also agree with the Mars mission. There should be plans to go there in the near future. <br /><br />Eric
 
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Swampcat

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<font color="yellow">"I cann't retire....too may ex wives (2)"</font><br /><br /><img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" /><br /><br />Yeah, I know where you're coming from. I have just one ex-wife and that was one too many. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="3" color="#ff9900"><p><font size="1" color="#993300"><strong><em>------------------------------------------------------------------- </em></strong></font></p><p><font size="1" color="#993300"><strong><em>"I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government."</em></strong></font></p><p><font size="1" color="#993300"><strong>Thomas Jefferson</strong></font></p></font> </div>
 
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radarredux

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> <i><font color="yellow">Right and the majority of the Shuttle missions were NOT military, either. ...</font>/i><br /><br />I did not fully understand the purpose of your post, but (not surprisingly) I have some thoughts on the military wrt NASA.<br /><br />Certainly there have been and continue to be many close ties between the military and NASA. From the beginning they have both shared launch and space technology needs (early manned rockets were modified ICBMs), pilots for manned space exploration largely came out of (and still do) military efforts, and DOD, primarily led through Space Command (SPACOM) has been trying to raise the importance of space (e.g., protecting satellite assets) to the rest of DOD and Congress.<br /><br />Also, there was generally a policy in the late 70s or early 80s to make the shuttle the <b>only</b> launch vehicle, so the DOD would need to use it. In fact, the DOD was trying to develop their own shuttle, the so called "blue shuttle", that would launch out of Vandenberg, CA. One major problem was that the DOD likes polar orbits, and the shuttle doesn't really have the power to do that effectively. I think the Challenger accident finally killed off the blue shuttle idea and brought back expendables for the DOD.<br /><br />There have also been some close relationship on the science side. For example, the shuttle had one (or more) mission(s) that mapped the elevation of the Earth to a very high degree of accuracy. The military could use this to help program cruise missiles, fly attack simulations, etc. I think the data was "dumbed down" before being released to a wider scientific audience.<br /><br />And of course there are synergies with respect to synthetic aperture radar (SAR) to get high resolution "images" of planets or military battlefields, radiation hardened computer components (you just cannot put an unmodified Pentium into space with radiation issues), communications technologies (e.g., using lasers instead of radio s</i>
 
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radarredux

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> <i><font color="yellow">The Pluto mission I think should be first priority right now.</font>/i><br /><br />I believe the current strategy for the Pluto mission is to do a flyby using existing rocket technology. No orbit. With the low level of sunlight out there, I wonder how much detail you could pick up.<br /><br />An alternative approach might be to invest in new engine technology for a decade (e.g., nuclear electric propulsion), then launch the mission at a later date but take a faster, more direct path with your souped up engines. You could still arrive at the same time. Also, with better engine technology you might be able to slow down and orbit.</i>
 
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