Obama withdraws funding for constellation

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EarthlingX

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So, what would you guys do on the Moon, during those two-three days, every couple of years ?
Something amazing, good for TV, i guess ? Giant leaps, but small steps ?
 
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pathfinder_01

Guest
edkyle99":3q33hhlg said:
pathfinder_01":3q33hhlg said:
Trading 4-6 flights in LEO for 2 flights to the moon a year is a really dumb trade. If constellation could have enabled flights to the moon at a similar rate as the shuttle I would have supported it. I for one am glad this foul up of program is shut down and I am a space flight fan!
Seriously? You would rather see quarterly repetitive LEO flights to nowhere rather than see astronauts on the Moon?

I would take one lunar landing every two or three years over *any* flights to LEO.

- Ed Kyle
I view Apollo as like Lindbergh's flight. Awesome, inspiring, useful but not practical in the everyday sort of sense. I think Lindbergh's flight was inspiring. Like Apollo it showed what can be done if you work at it. However like Apollo it was not practical. One person with no crew one way is not the best use of time and money. Spending enough money to build a university, staff it, and endow it for ten years in one moonshot is not the best use of money.

I think people are very impatient. People have been capable of flight for over 200 years, however being able to buy a ticket somewhere and use it for moving stuff has only been possible for barely 100. People have been building tall structures since the time of pharo. Skyscrapers are a far more useful and recent invention. Just because you can do something does not mean you should and awe inspiring turns to boring very quickly.(i.e. How many Great pyramids are there.....).

The focus should be practical spaceflight. Going BEO at the expense of LEO is not practical. Lowering cost of flight to the point where we can afford BEO flight is. Repeating Lindbergh flight across the Atlantic is not practical. Getting airplanes that are faster, safer, and have longer ranges is even if the plane is only ten miles an hour faster, slightly safer, and can only travel 50 more miles. Such a plane may not be enough to repeat Lindbergh's flight with any regularity, but it is moving in the right direction.

The ISS has done more the enable BEO than Apollo. A moon mission launched today could carry less water, not need to carry co2 scrubbering canisters. There are even plans to recycle oxygen in the station. Getting there may be half the fun, but being able to stay there and support it is also important. Working at that is a lot easier in LEO where than at a Lagrange point or the moon.

I am not against BEO, but let be real. If the ISS had been a mars bound craft, the first crew would have been killed. Items that were supposed to last for years died in months. Computer crashes, Life support systems that need spare parts sent from earth. Going to mars when you have not figured out how to live on the moon is like an ancient tribe deciding to go further out into the ocean without settling or at least exploring any nearby islands.Learning our limits is just as important as expanding them.

A flight to the moon is a lot more possible, but unless you are capable of going there with much more regularity then the payback is limited.

What constellation needed to do was lower the cost of spaceflight such that NASA could afford 6-8 flights of it to LEO. NASA could then support LEO missions with some of those flights and trade some of them for BEO sorties or something else. The ISS or other station in LEO might need 4 flights a year, not 8 going to the same destination. If the craft is capable of BEO but cheaper than the shuttle in LEO then NASA could use the funds from the extra flights to buy missions BEO.

Instead it raised the cost of spaceflight to the point where NASA could not afford it at all. It locked future administrations into a moon program that they may or may not have supported and it did not deliver a product anywhere near on time. The shuttle did not lock furture adminstrations in quite as badly. Small steps are just important a big ones and perhaps more so.
 
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Polishguy

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pathfinder_01":749b0rrl said:
What constellation needed to do was lower the cost of spaceflight such that NASA could afford 6-8 flights of it to LEO. NASA could then support LEO missions with some of those flights and trade some of them for BEO sorties or something else. The ISS or other station in LEO might need 4 flights a year, not 8 going to the same destination. If the craft is capable of BEO but cheaper than the shuttle in LEO then NASA could use the funds from the extra flights to buy missions BEO.

Instead it raised the cost of spaceflight to the point where NASA could not afford it at all. It locked future administrations into a moon program that they may or may not have supported and it did not deliver a product anywhere near on time. The shuttle did not lock furture adminstrations in quite as badly. Small steps are just important a big ones and perhaps more so.
Except the current approach is doing no better. No matter how you build an expendable rocket, prices will remain tied to the costs of fuel and structural materials. Maybe an SSTO would reduce costs to a thousand dollar per kilogram to LEO, but Obama's approach isn't building that either. And your baby-steps approach has been tried since 1980, in the form of the Space Shuttle. That program has achieved no significant technological breakthrough's in thirty years, as opposed to the Apollo program, which brought the USA from ICBMs to heavy-lift rockets. During the Apollo Program, NASA developed nuclear reactors in space, life support systems, space suits, and other technologies important to the expansion of humanity into space. No similar developments have taken place during the Shuttle-ISS era, except perhaps the urine recycler aboard Station. If we actually develop a plan to go somewhere, for example the moon, provided we have political will, we will develop the technologies necessary to sustain a base on the moon. If we choose to go to Mars, we will develop the technologies necessary to live on Mars. If we continue to float around LEO, we learn nothing. We've already learned how to sustain humans in earth orbit.
 
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pathfinder_01

Guest
Polishguy":3rlzadbc said:
pathfinder_01":3rlzadbc said:
What constellation needed to do was lower the cost of spaceflight such that NASA could afford 6-8 flights of it to LEO. NASA could then support LEO missions with some of those flights and trade some of them for BEO sorties or something else. The ISS or other station in LEO might need 4 flights a year, not 8 going to the same destination. If the craft is capable of BEO but cheaper than the shuttle in LEO then NASA could use the funds from the extra flights to buy missions BEO.

Instead it raised the cost of spaceflight to the point where NASA could not afford it at all. It locked future administrations into a moon program that they may or may not have supported and it did not deliver a product anywhere near on time. The shuttle did not lock furture adminstrations in quite as badly. Small steps are just important a big ones and perhaps more so.
Except the current approach is doing no better. No matter how you build an expendable rocket, prices will remain tied to the costs of fuel and structural materials. Maybe an SSTO would reduce costs to a thousand dollar per kilogram to LEO, but Obama's approach isn't building that either. And your baby-steps approach has been tried since 1980, in the form of the Space Shuttle. That program has achieved no significant technological breakthrough's in thirty years, as opposed to the Apollo program, which brought the USA from ICBMs to heavy-lift rockets. During the Apollo Program, NASA developed nuclear reactors in space, life support systems, space suits, and other technologies important to the expansion of humanity into space. No similar developments have taken place during the Shuttle-ISS era, except perhaps the urine recycler aboard Station. If we actually develop a plan to go somewhere, for example the moon, provided we have political will, we will develop the technologies necessary to sustain a base on the moon. If we choose to go to Mars, we will develop the technologies necessary to live on Mars. If we continue to float around LEO, we learn nothing. We've already learned how to sustain humans in earth orbit.
Actually accounting for inflation the price to orbit has decreased from the 1960ies to today. It still isn't cheap to get to LEO but it is cheaper. The shuttle failed to reduce the price, but the choice at the time was between a reusable space plane and nothing(Production of the Saturn V ceased when the government did not order a second round of rockets in 1968.).

Anyway as with anything the big cost isn't materials(your car only has about $2000 worth of materials in it). It is in man power and in facilities. Reduce the need for those and you have made progress no matter if it is reusable or disposable. The shuttle's flaw perhaps is that it was flown too long. A space shuttle built today would require less man power to refurbish. It still might not be cheaper than disposables but it would be cheaper than the late 70ies technology of the shuttle.

Ok just to keep things simple, I will limit it to ISS life support vs. Shuttle/Skylab/Apollo life support. The famed urine recycler is part of a water recycling system that can reduce the water needs of the crew by up to 85%.

Shuttle and Apollo life support are great for sorties while Skylab used the might of the Saturn V to solve it's life support problems.Skylab carried all the supplies needed to support nine men for 140 days. In fact when it was lost it only had about 20 days worth of supply remaining and that was due to careful rationing of the previous crews. Skylab was not designed to be resupplied.

If all you need to do is spend about two weeks in space and you need to return back home in the same craft Shuttle Apollo systems are probably better. However if your trip is going to go on for months ISS is better.

The first killer is CO2. This is what will kill if trapped without fresh air. Apollo, Skylab and Shuttle use disposable lithium cartridges. The trouble is your spaceflight is limited by the number of cartridges. Shuttle and Apollo just carry enough for their missions. Hence the Apollo 13 problem of not having enough Cartridges in the Lunar module for the trip back to earth and needing to find a way to fit the CM ones. The ISS has a regenerative CO2 scrubber. It needs no cartridges. It just vents the CO2 out into space.

The second problem Oxygen. Shuttle and Apollo use fuel cells, since the fuel cells need oxygen anyway you can use that for the crew. However fuel cells are an inappropriate way to power any long duration mission. Fuel cells require oxygen and a source of hydrogen. The shuttle would run out of power if left in orbit too long.

The primary oxygen generating system on the ISS uses water. Oxygen canisters are heavy and pose a danger to the crew(i.e. it can explode due to pressure). The ISS has some but only as a back up. The ISS systems break water down in to hydrogen and oxygen and vents the hydrogen. Another handy thing about using water is that the shuttle's fuel cells can supply the ISS with water when it visits.

Right now discovery is carrying equipment that will react the CO2 with the Hydrogen to produce water and methane. This will reduce the need of the ISS for oxygen since water used for both drink and breathing.

The ISS(and the research needed to get it) has reduced the NASA's need for life support and given experience of operating said systems in the safety of LEO.(i.e. I would trust a system in space more than a system in a lab). Future missions will require much less water and Oxygen to be sent nor will be limited by the number of C02 scrubbing cartridges. This reduces the amount of mass that needs to be sent to a moon base or mars or future stations.

In addition the ISS is studying the radiation problem. How much radiation and of what type.

Using this technology an moon mission today could leave behind an extended duration module in L1 or LLO and stay at the moon much longer than Apollo with out needing to carry as much mass.I would say that that much alone makes the ISS worth it. Not counting all the other research that goes on at the station and experience with working with international partners.

--Correction Nasas Develped the CO2 scruber as an upgrade to the shuttle to allowit to stay in orbit long enough to build space station freedoom.
 
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neutrino78x

Guest
If NASA goes the "system integrator" route for BEO, they don't need to develop anything in house, other than specifying what commercial products are to be used for each mission. I think the ideal situation would be for NASA to have a fleet, just as the Navy has a fleet, but the systems integrator approach is probably cheapest.

Mars for Less is a modification of Mars Direct which can be done with existing commercial rockets.

--Brian
 
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neutrino78x

Guest
rockett":usieokaf said:
Need a booster and crew capsule to do that.
Booster = Falcon 9 or EELV, Capsule = Dragon

If anything, you would want to bring back the Orion capsule...but there is certainly no need for Ares I. Rather than Ares V, the Direct launcher is preferred.

--Brian
 
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rockett

Guest
neutrino78x":22po6f04 said:
Booster = Falcon 9 or EELV, Capsule = Dragon

If anything, you would want to bring back the Orion capsule...but there is certainly no need for Ares I. Rather than Ares V, the Direct launcher is preferred.

--Brian
Falcon 9 - Unproven, still on the pad, not man-rated, maximum lift capacity 23,050 lbs
http://www.spacex.com/falcon9.php

EELV - not man rated
Atlas V to LEO - 21,490–64,860 lbs
Delta IV to LEO - 18,900 - 56,800 lbs

Dragon Capsule - cargo only, crew variant undeveloped

Orion Capsule - Gross liftoff weight 21,400 lbs
Service Module - 19,418 lbs
Total: 40,818 lbs
http://www.scribd.com/doc/14687293/Main-Orion-Crew-Expl-Vehicle

Conclusions:
1. Even if the Falcon 9 were man-rated, it could not loft the Orion+SM
2. Dragon Capsule is untested even for cargo, man-rating + escape system only on drawing board, so it's far from a player yet
3. While either the Atlas V or Delta IV would have the lifting capacity in some configurations, those would have to be man-rated first (a lengthy process) There are also problems with the flight profile:
Why NASA Isn’t Trying to Human-Rate the Atlas V or Delta IV Rockets
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/07/why-nasa-isnt-t/
There is a little hope for the Delta IV Orion stack, however:
Study Finds Human-rated Delta IV Cheaper
http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=space&id=news/Study061509.xml
4. Direct Launcher - While some configurations could lift the Orion+SM, again, it's not man-rated, and you could only launch 4 at 3 SSME's each (only 14 of those engines exist, even raiding the STS Orbiters). Anything else would require starting up production again, a long and involved process. While you could substitute RS-68's for the SSME's, why bother building it when the Delta IV is already using them?

In other words, we don't have a booster currently to loft it, except maybe the Delta IV with man-rating, even if we finished Orion.
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
RS-68B, i think, is almost out of the HR process, it can replace SSME gently when they run out.
It can also be used on boosters, but for that there are other options too - don't let me cite a half page list ..

I'm not so sure about HR of upper stages, but there are a couple with reliability record, which might help.
 
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edkyle99

Guest
pathfinder_01":1ph96fbs said:
The ISS has done more the enable BEO than Apollo. A moon mission launched today could carry less water, not need to carry co2 scrubbering canisters. There are even plans to recycle oxygen in the station. Getting there may be half the fun, but being able to stay there and support it is also important. Working at that is a lot easier in LEO where than at a Lagrange point or the moon.
ISS has taught lessons, but at great cost. A focused lunar program could learn the necessary lessons for less money.
A flight to the moon is a lot more possible, but unless you are capable of going there with much more regularity then the payback is limited.
Why does exploration have to have a fast tempo? The real science payback, after all, happens slowly on Earth after astronauts leave experiments and return with photos and samples.

What constellation needed to do was lower the cost of spaceflight such that NASA could afford 6-8 flights of it to LEO.
....
Instead it raised the cost of spaceflight to the point where NASA could not afford it at all.
Cutting launch costs would be good, but large reductions are not in the cards in the near-term. At any rate, launch costs are only a part of the equation. The spacecraft and the mission cost more than the launch. The truth is that if we want to send astronauts into deep space, we have to pay - billions of dollars per mission. The way to deal with high mission costs is to space the missions out in time so that they can be afforded in reasonable annual budgets. Low rate missions implies using existing launch systems rather than new, purpose-built systems.

Constellation's problem was that it tried too hard, to do too much too fast given the available money. It would have worked if Congress had been willing to allocate the funding.

- Ed Kyle
 
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pathfinder_01

Guest
edkyle99":otpjg25x said:
pathfinder_01":otpjg25x said:
The ISS has done more the enable BEO than Apollo. A moon mission launched today could carry less water, not need to carry co2 scrubbering canisters. There are even plans to recycle oxygen in the station. Getting there may be half the fun, but being able to stay there and support it is also important. Working at that is a lot easier in LEO where than at a Lagrange point or the moon.
ISS has taught lessons, but at great cost. A focused lunar program could learn the necessary lessons for less money.
A flight to the moon is a lot more possible, but unless you are capable of going there with much more regularity then the payback is limited.
Why does exploration have to have a fast tempo? The real science payback, after all, happens slowly on Earth after astronauts leave experiments and return with photos and samples.

What constellation needed to do was lower the cost of spaceflight such that NASA could afford 6-8 flights of it to LEO.
....
Instead it raised the cost of spaceflight to the point where NASA could not afford it at all.
I would question that. The needs of a lunar mission are much stricter than a LEO one. Now your life support system needs not just to be small enough in mass to get to LEO but small enough in mass to get to the moon. The cost of sending mass of any kind to lunar is much higher. I think we would be stuck with Apollo style developments. Useful for short periods of time not longer missions. I view Apollo as skipping steps. Sometimes a smart thing to do (Apollo got to the moon on time), sometimes not (but could only stay a few days). I also think the science and exploration was likewise limited due to those stricter requirements. A space station is somewhere just as much as the moon or a lump of rock in space.

The slower the pace the slower the science. Found something interesting and want some more samples, well now you are going to have to wait years to get it. There is a certain pace that makes sense. NASA has a lot of fixed infrastructure and employees if the rate is too slow and you are doing nothing else with them it makes no sense. It would be like maintaining a train station for a train that stops twice a year or an airport only used by one plane every three years. Not worth it. One flight to the moon while doing other things makes sense. No flights at all except those going to the moon every couple of years does not. Also slow pace does not equal cheap. There are still costs to keep employees and faculties. I think either a pace of one flight a year or every other year while doing other things in LEO is deal able or at least 4 flights a year to the moon. If you can only get to moon less than 3 times a year on your budget maybe you should be doing other things with the money. I mean would it make sense to buy a vacation house that you only used once every three years or a car?

My view is constellation gave too much up to get to the moon. The shuttle and the ISS. It is not a good replacement for the shuttle. The shuttle can act like a temporary space station for two weeks. It has enough space plus the cargo bay to so science. Orion did not. Now if you were willing to give up the down mass of the shuttle and use a station it was not as hopeless but they wanted to dump the station. It would have reset HSF back 30 years. We know we can get to LEO and the moon. We want to be able to get there longer and do more when we are there. Two weeks on the moon is great, but if you have to give up the ability to spend months in LEO to do it, it is not worth it. It is like eating Ramon noodles and living cheaply in order to do a once a life time trip that lasts two weeks. Not worth it, when you could have done many smaller more affordable vacations and had some steak dinners too.
 
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edkyle99

Guest
pathfinder_01":q3aguul6 said:
... NASA has a lot of fixed infrastructure and employees if the rate is too slow and you are doing nothing else with them it makes no sense. It would be like maintaining a train station for a train that stops twice a year or an airport only used by one plane every three years.
One way around that is to build a cheap "train station". Instead of a fancy marble terminal, pour some gravel next to the tracks to make a platform.

An even better way would be to use the "train station" for other things. Fly on existing rockets, from existing pads, using systems that also fly other missions for other "customers". Since these rockets aren't as big and grandiose as the now canceled Ares V, they'll have to fly multiple times for each lunar landing mission. The rockets and pads and crews will have steady work. Three EELV Heavies per year could support one lunar landing every other year, for example.

A slow-rate mission architecture does mean downsizing NASA and its contractor chain, forcing it to become leaner, but that is going to happen regardless.
Two weeks on the moon is great, but if you have to give up the ability to spend months in LEO to do it, it is not worth it.
A slow-rate lunar mission would require a LEO presence, though largely consisting of an unmanned presence. One or more TLI stages serving as propellant depots would have to park in LEO for months at a time.

- Ed Kyle
 
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docm

Guest
http://nasawatch.com/archives/2010/04/i ... -spac.html

A "compromise":

Shuttle C heavy lifter

Commercial crew = "Merchant 7"

Orion continues as Orion Lite

Fly shuttle 2 flights a year until Merchant 7 is available. This also keeps the STS jobs, parts and capabilities available until Shuttle C's pod etc. are ready.

etc. plus;

While keeping Orion alive, NASA will also seek to develop a human-rated exploration spacecraft that only operates in space. The initial version will likely use unused ISS modules (enhanced MPLMs, Node X, Hab Module, ISS ECLSS) and Constellation systems. Its component parts would be launched by the Shuttle/Shuttle-C. The exploration vehicle will be assembled on-orbit at the ISS. This exploration spacecraft will be a pathfinder for more complex systems that will be able to traverse cis-lunar space on a regular basis.

These ideas will be voiced by various participants at the Space Summit. It is anticipated that NASA will be called upon to do a routine 30-60 study following the summit and that formal White House approval would come some time during the Summer.
"Hab module" = Bigelow hab? Perhaps a Sundancer or one purpose made?
 
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rockett

Guest
docm":qgjilk18 said:
"Hab module" = Bigelow hab? Perhaps a Sundancer or one purpose made?
I believe the reference is to the cancelled U.S. Hab Module built by Boeing.
http://space.skyrocket.de/index_frame.htm?http://space.skyrocket.de/doc_sdat/hab.htm
This was cancelled in favor of TransHab, an inflatable hab module. This too was cancelled as the ISS evolved, and the design was the basis of the Bigalow Hab modules.

I believe this is one of the "leftover" ISS modules Buzz Aldrin is proposing to use for his Exploration Module or XM.
http://news.discovery.com/space/buzz-aldrins-path-to-mars.html
 
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vulture4

Guest
The truth is that if we want to send astronauts into deep space, we have to pay - billions of dollars per mission.
That is true now, but the reason it is true is that the entire Reusable Launch Vehicle program was eliminated between 2000 and 2004 under the administration of George W. Bush. This was a mistake of immense importance, eating our seed corn. It set practical human spaceflight back by at least a decade.

Humans can do useful work in space, but that work is simply not worth billions of dollars per flight. As a result, today there is no scientific mission which can be accomplished more effectively by human spaceflight than by robotic systems. Flying fewer missions is not a solution since this will produce even fewer useful results. This was why Nixon canceled Apollo to invest what funds were available for human spaceflight in reusable launch systems.

The US had a substantial budget surplus in the sixties and led the world economically by a wide margin. Today much less is available, and the US is deeply in debt. Taxes for people at higher income levels are just a fraction of what they were in the Sixties, but not even the most ardent space supporters are willing to pay a dime more in taxes to support human spaceflight. So these billion-dollar missions would be paid for by more borrowing from China and would produce more debt and no exports.

Face it. Human spaceflight is much too expensive to be practical. Only the geopolitical goal of the ISS, keeping former nuclear adversaries working together toward a common goal, keeps even it supported by Congress. We can either go back to where we started in 1973, recognizing this and working to develop and test practical reusable vehicle technology, or we can spend all our money on a few billion-dollar flights that will leave us with nothing of practical value.

If you can find private capital for a manned flight to Mars, by all means go for it. But I've seen valuable medical research that could save thousands of lives on earth go unfunded. People will die as a result. So it would be hard to convince me that we have billions of tax dollars for expensive missions that don't produce practical results.
 
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Tritium

Guest
vulture4":zbgn9ljq said:
The truth is that if we want to send astronauts into deep space, we have to pay - billions of dollars per mission.
That is true now, but the reason it is true is that the entire Reusable Launch Vehicle program was eliminated between 2000 and 2004 under the administration of George W. Bush. This was a mistake of immense importance, eating our seed corn. It set practical human spaceflight back by at least a decade.

Humans can do useful work in space, but that work is simply not worth billions of dollars per flight. As a result, today there is no scientific mission which can be accomplished more effectively by human spaceflight than by robotic systems. Flying fewer missions is not a solution since this will produce even fewer useful results. This was why Nixon canceled Apollo to invest what funds were available for human spaceflight in reusable launch systems.

The US had a substantial budget surplus in the sixties and led the world economically by a wide margin. Today much less is available, and the US is deeply in debt. Taxes for people at higher income levels are just a fraction of what they were in the Sixties, but not even the most ardent space supporters are willing to pay a dime more in taxes to support human spaceflight. So these billion-dollar missions would be paid for by more borrowing from China and would produce more debt and no exports.

Face it. Human spaceflight is much too expensive to be practical. Only the geopolitical goal of the ISS, keeping former nuclear adversaries working together toward a common goal, keeps even it supported by Congress. We can either go back to where we started in 1973, recognizing this and working to develop and test practical reusable vehicle technology, or we can spend all our money on a few billion-dollar flights that will leave us with nothing of practical value.

If you can find private capital for a manned flight to Mars, by all means go for it. But I've seen valuable medical research that could save thousands of lives on earth go unfunded. People will die as a result. So it would be hard to convince me that we have billions of tax dollars for expensive missions that don't produce practical results.
You seek to save lives.How about preserving the entire human race?
 
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vulture4

Guest
You seek to save lives.How about preserving the entire human race?
That was the prime rationale for Apollo; not to escape the earth, but to divert the ideological conflict between the US and the USSR away from the perilous race in nuclear arms. While I would like to see self-sustaining space colonies, preserving earth and avoiding billions of deaths carries a somewhat higher priority.

Moreover even a minimal colony that could sustain itself without help from earth would require the resources of a small country, which means that without practical large-scale transport to establish. Again the first requirement is an order of magnitude reduction in cost. Constellation is, unfortunately, a dead end. By consuming all the available resources to operate obsolete solid-fueled boosters with capsules, would increase costs and delay the data when there might be self-sustaining colonies on the moon or Mars.
 
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edkyle99

Guest
vulture4":18aa2rg1 said:
The truth is that if we want to send astronauts into deep space, we have to pay - billions of dollars per mission.
That is true now, but the reason it is true is that the entire Reusable Launch Vehicle program was eliminated between 2000 and 2004 under the administration of George W. Bush. This was a mistake of immense importance, eating our seed corn. It set practical human spaceflight back by at least a decade.
Consider that it costs NASA nearly $250 million annually to test and operate SSME, a fully reusable engine. The Agency gets about 15 engine-flights for that sum, which works out to more than $15 million per engine per flight - for a fully reusable engine. NASA could do as well flying expendable engines.

RLV is worthy of basic R&D funding, but many years will pass before the world will be able to cut costs with practical RLVs. We can go to the Moon now for less money with expendables than it would cost with RLVs.
Humans can do useful work in space, but that work is simply not worth billions of dollars per flight.
Each Shuttle mission costs more than one billion dollars. Are those flights worth it? I would rather spend the money putting astronauts on the Moon.
As a result, today there is no scientific mission which can be accomplished more effectively by human spaceflight than by robotic systems. Flying fewer missions is not a solution since this will produce even fewer useful results. This was why Nixon canceled Apollo to invest what funds were available for human spaceflight in reusable launch systems.
LBJ, not Nixon, made the decisions that ended Apollo. Apollo/Saturn was designed to get to the Moon at all costs by the end of the 1960s. The program was sized too big to work as a low-rate mission program. That also was not Nixon's doing - JFK set that stage.

What exactly are "useful results" when it comes to space exploration? National prestige, a form of national technology business advertising, seems to be the most obvious benefit. How often do astronauts have to walk on the Moon to gain that benefit? Once every one or two years, on missions that extend for a couple of weeks at least, sounds plausible to me.
The US had a substantial budget surplus in the sixties and led the world economically by a wide margin. Today much less is available, and the US is deeply in debt. Taxes for people at higher income levels are just a fraction of what they were in the Sixties, but not even the most ardent space supporters are willing to pay a dime more in taxes to support human spaceflight. So these billion-dollar missions would be paid for by more borrowing from China and would produce more debt and no exports.
A news story today claimed that nearly half of U.S. citizens, the lower-income half, do not pay *any* federal taxes. Many actually get refunds even though they pay no taxes! Since the U.S. will soon make the so-called "rich" pay more, maybe it should also call on the so-called "poor" to chip in a few lousy bucks!

As for China, note that China is expanding, not shrinking, its space program, including its human efforts. China must be expecting "useful results" for its efforts.

- Ed Kyle
 
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menellom

Guest
edkyle99":8ppjji93 said:
As for China, note that China is expanding, not shrinking, its space program, including its human efforts. China must be expecting "useful results" for its efforts.
But also note that China has a history of 'dropping' space programs at the first sign of political wavering or economic trouble. Their first attempt at a space program only lasted a year before it was canceled, the second program was canceled after two. The Shenzhou program has fared better than its predecessors, but public and government support for the program is still marginal at best. Any political or economic hurdles, or (god forbid) an accident with one of their manned launches and the program would be shelved if not canceled altogether.
 
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edkyle99

Guest
menellom":16ttpfzf said:
edkyle99":16ttpfzf said:
As for China, note that China is expanding, not shrinking, its space program, including its human efforts. China must be expecting "useful results" for its efforts.
But also note that China has a history of 'dropping' space programs at the first sign of political wavering or economic trouble. Their first attempt at a space program only lasted a year before it was canceled, the second program was canceled after two. The Shenzhou program has fared better than its predecessors, but public and government support for the program is still marginal at best. Any political or economic hurdles, or (god forbid) an accident with one of their manned launches and the program would be shelved if not canceled altogether.
China attempted 15 orbital flights during the 1980s, 39 during the 1990s, and 64 during 2000-2009. In recent years China's launch totals have surpassed Japan's and have begun to creep close to U.S. totals [see Note 1]. Soon, with the departure of Delta 2 and Shuttle, and with the opening of a new launch center on Hainan Island for its new CZ-5 rocket, China may pass the U.S. - making the U.S., quite literally, a "third-rate" space power. [see Note 2]

Looks like long-term, steady growth to me.

- Ed Kyle

[Note 1] In 2008, China performed 11 successful orbital launches while the U.S. performed 14.

[Note 2] U.S. launch totals for the past three decades were 177 (1980s), 299 (1990s), and 194 (2000-2010). Only 55 of the 2000-2010 launches were performed by systems that will still be flying as of 2012. Not long-term steady growth for the U.S..
 
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vulture4

Guest
China has no intention of engaging the US in a moon race. If they lost, they would look incompetent. If they won, they would irritate their biggest customer. They would much prefer to be invited to join the ISS program, though Griffin rejected them rather insultingly. The purpose of China's human spaceflight program is to show they are in the first rank of industrial countries and to promote their commercial space industry. These goals are more compatible with a program that works in partnership with other countries than one that is competitive. As Ed points out regarding the moon, absent an invitation to join the ISS, China's goals can be achieved with only about one flight per year.

What exactly are "useful results" when it comes to space exploration?
Any tax-funded program must produce either 1) geopolitical benefits, 2) commercial benefits, or 3) new science, of sufficient value to justify its cost.

The moon landing was of immense geopolitical value in 1969 because the moon race had, as Kennedy intended, diverted the conflict of ideologies between the US and USSR away from the nuclear arms race that was on the verge of leading to nuclear war. But this is not the Sixties, and another moon race would serve no purpose. Going to the moon for science and tourism would be reasonable, but both goals are cost-sensitive and the reward is proportional to the number of people that go; there is little or n benefit to one flight every few years. So cost per flight must be vastly reduced.

Regarding the cost of operating the SSME, reducing such costs was one of the primary goals of the RLV program. This was, other than the XLR-99, our first ever attempt at a reusable rocket engine that could actually carry humans into space, and little was known about operational costs when it was designed. To assume that reusable rocket engines could not be made more practical would be like flying only the Wright "A" Flyer for 30 years, assuming all aircraft would have the same limitations, and giving up and going back to balloons.
 
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menellom

Guest
edkyle99":2uc13v20 said:
China attempted 15 orbital flights during the 1980s, 39 during the 1990s, and 64 during 2000-2009.
And of all those attempts quite a few failed and all but three were unmanned. Shenzhou 5 in '03, Shenzhou 6 in '05, and Shenzhou 7 in '08 are China's only manned flights so far, and the next isn't planned before 2011 at the earliest, and that's only if they finish Tiangong 1. And even then, China will most likely just ask to be involved in the ISS and we'll just tack Tiangong onto it.

One manned launch every couple of years and the possibility of a lab being added to the ISS may put China's space program a bit ahead of something like JAXA, but they've got a long ways to go before they can hold a candle to the RSA or NASA.
 
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edkyle99

Guest
menellom":3ijyddsr said:
edkyle99":3ijyddsr said:
China attempted 15 orbital flights during the 1980s, 39 during the 1990s, and 64 during 2000-2009.
And of all those attempts quite a few failed ...
Not really. During that time span China's launch failure rate was only 7.63% (9 failures in 118 attempts) and its primary Long March series only failed seven times in 116 flights (6.03% failure rate). During the same period U.S. launch vehicles suffered 42 failures in 670 attempts for a 6.27% failure rate.
One manned launch every couple of years and the possibility of a lab being added to the ISS may put China's space program a bit ahead of something like JAXA, but they've got a long ways to go before they can hold a candle to the RSA or NASA.
They won't have very far to go at all. Beginning next year, and for the foreseeable future, China will have a human launch capability and NASA will not. NASA won't hold any candles whatsoever!

- Ed Kyle
 
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neutrino78x

Guest
edkyle99":3vjx282p said:
They won't have very far to go at all. Beginning next year, and for the foreseeable future, China will have a human launch capability and NASA will not. NASA won't hold any candles whatsoever!
NASA may or may not, but either way, the USA will. We will have a commercial space program.

SpaceX is a US company, that makes its rockets in the USA, hiring Americans. I would like to know how that results in the USA not having human launch capability. These are all US Flag vessels, which can be ordered by the USN into military service in time of war, but they are not USN commissioned vessels or US Maritime Administration; they are US Flag commercial shipping vessels.

Don't we all want the future depicted in movies like Star Wars?? Hans Solo was not a Navy officer, he was a Merchant Mariner/Privateer. The main characters in Star Trek are all Navy officers, but the background characters are often Merchant Mariners. :)

NASA should not be launching men into space for science. That is the purpose of space probes/robots. Astronauts (NASA or military) should only go into space for colonization, national defense, emergency assistance of merchant vessels, and other things which only humans can do. If it is for science, send robots!!!! :)

--Brian
 
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pathfinder_01

Guest
neutrino78x":1fg3mwm3 said:
edkyle99":1fg3mwm3 said:
They won't have very far to go at all. Beginning next year, and for the foreseeable future, China will have a human launch capability and NASA will not. NASA won't hold any candles whatsoever!
NASA may or may not, but either way, the USA will. We will have a commercial space program.

SpaceX is a US company, that makes its rockets in the USA, hiring Americans. I would like to know how that results in the USA not having human launch capability. These are all US Flag vessels, which can be ordered by the USN into military service in time of war, but they are not USN commissioned vessels or US Maritime Administration; they are US Flag commercial shipping vessels.

Don't we all want the future depicted in movies like Star Wars?? Hans Solo was not a Navy officer, he was a Merchant Mariner/Privateer. The main characters in Star Trek are all Navy officers, but the background characters are often Merchant Mariners. :)

NASA should not be launching men into space for science. That is the purpose of space probes/robots. Astronauts (NASA or military) should only go into space for colonization, national defense, emergency assistance of merchant vessels, and other things which only humans can do. If it is for science, send robots!!!! :)

--Brian
Science is a good enough reason to launch people. Machines are not the best way to explore. They just are the only way without billion dollar missions that risk human life. I don't think NASA should do colonization. They might do the R/D for it but at the moment there is no compelling reason for folks to stay in space. What I think will happen is that over time there maybe compelling reasons to stay if space flight goes commercial. If more tourist can afford to vist, it might make sense for some staff members to live there rather than commute back to earth. Those staff members could be come a market to itself if there are enough of them. In addition if the price declines way more then some people might choose to spend months there, making a bigger market and so on. Might be a long time before space is more populated than the antarctic, but as the saying goes Rome was not built in a day.
 
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edkyle99

Guest
neutrino78x":2akmd279 said:
edkyle99":2akmd279 said:
They won't have very far to go at all. Beginning next year, and for the foreseeable future, China will have a human launch capability and NASA will not. NASA won't hold any candles whatsoever!
NASA may or may not, but either way, the USA will. We will have a commercial space program.

SpaceX is a US company, that makes its rockets in the USA, hiring Americans. I would like to know how that results in the USA not having human launch capability. These are all US Flag vessels, which can be ordered by the USN into military service in time of war, but they are not USN commissioned vessels or US Maritime Administration; they are US Flag commercial shipping vessels.
Commercial crew launch is going to take years to enter service, assuming the effort is successful [1]. During those years, the United States will not have a crew launch capability.

[1] (U.S. aerospace hasn't had a very good record of success on big projects like this in recent years. When they've been able to get the technology to work the costs have ballooned or the schedules have slipped by many years. When they've tried to cut costs, the technology has failed. See Boeing 787 and Lockheed Martin F-35 for examples.)

SpaceX is a U.S. company working on a cargo, not crew, hauling contract for NASA. It may or may not bid on the commercial crew launch project. If it bids, it may not win. Dragon has yet to fly, and even when and if it does, it has has not yet been developed to carry crew. No company, SpaceX included, has announced plans to launch humans into orbit on non-NASA missions.

By ending Shuttle without a contracted crew-carrying replacement, NASA has taken a step off a cliff while hoping that someone builds and delivers a parachute before it hits the ground. Until that "parachute" opens, years from now, the United States will not have a human space flight program, commercial, government, or otherwise.

- Ed Kyle
 
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