POLL: What Do You Think About NASA's New Direction?

POLL: What Do You Think About NASA's New Direction?

  • Awesome. Let’s go boldly and put the moon in our rearview mirror.

    Votes: 19 27.9%
  • Big mistake bypassing the moon, which would serve as a practice target and a launch point.

    Votes: 23 33.8%
  • Phhhht. Given all the indecision in recent years, we’ll likely still be stuck right here in 2030.

    Votes: 26 38.2%

  • Total voters
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I think it's a good direction, but I still think that a lot more money should be invested in space exploration. Especially a private sector should be given the upper-hand by the Government. If we invest a lot in Defense, space program shouldn't be an exception. :)


I don't know that this really precludes the moon as a destination. I suspect that will be our next stop, orbitally, at least before we go any further. I think this is better than the plan we had before the legislation was passed. I'm not sure it precludes any particular destination.


The current NASA plans presupposes two things that can not be safely assumed:

1. That the commercial ventures are on track to replace existing NASA space transport methods.
2. That we can assume that all the lessons from the Apollo program are still remembered AND sufficient to cover the new issues involved with a manned Mars mission.

There is no evidence to support that commercial ventures are on track to replace NASA's existing transport methods. In fact evidence indicates that they are no where near ready.

To think that the lessons learned from Apollo are still remembered after so many years is just stupid and to think that those brief stints on the Moons surface could have provided us with enough information to prepare us for an extended stay on Mars (or any other celestial bodies) surface is ridiculous. If we land on Mars and then realize that we did not prepare properly the astronauts will be at best 6 months away from rescue if we go to the Moon and can survive there for 2 years then it is much less likely we will be surprised on the surface of Mars. If we get surprised on the Moon rescue is a lot closer.


This is a good plan.

But there were so many plans and so many people backing them, that any plan agreed to is good and non will have a majority that will like it.

That's the problem with being in a fork in the road of the space adventure.


I suppose I'm having trouble seeing why an asteroid is a more attractive target than the Moon is. The President & his band of verbatim voice boxes have continually spouted that tired old line of 'been there/done that' regarding a new Moon mission. Of course, letting Bolden speak on his own didn't exactly work out too well for them--remember the Muslim/science comments. But we all know a Moon mission today would be signifacantly different than it was back in the day. The entire purpose of a new Moon mission would be different. Regardless, Mars has to be the ultimate goal. And if there is valid reasoning as to why landing on an asteroid would better prepare us for planting our boots on Mars, then yes, let's do it. I guess I'm just not seeing it at this point. I am willing to be enlightened, however.

"To the Moon, Alice!"

Good day, all.


The problem with Apollo was that it was defined as a race, and provided no purpose for the destination other than to get there first. Once we won the race the public had no vested interest in colonizing the moon and staying there. This new direction appears to suffer from the same lack of vision. It chooses some new destinations because it provides no substance as to why we should be living and colonizing space in the first place. The "been there/done that" slogan is more proof that the current administration just doesn't get it, and unfortunately if they don't have a dream in their minds already, they aren't ever going to.

A new vision for colonizing the moon as a permanent and growing colony would re-energize the American people and it would provide a unifying effect on an entire new generation of youth from all nations. There are a lot of things we could do there, such as turning the moon into a giant solar power generator to beam power back to earth, as just one example. The moon colony could pay for itself if they were generating power. Why a capitalist country can't or won't define these things in terms of money and profits is beyond me. The new colony can trade with Earth, power generation for supplies. They can then start building their own ships to go to Mars and Asteroids and other destinations. Think of a 10 thousand person work force living on the moon and maintaining the solar array farm there, and then also developing space related technologies with 10% of their workers and resources. That would be far more effective at achieving a 50 year vision than any of these current plans which aren't sustainable, aren't funded, and have little to no support from the voting public. A bankrupt nation is more likely to support something if it has a chance of providing real revenue and profits over time.


I'll admit a lot was wrong with the ESAS architecture in fact it was fundamentally flawed.
But should this mean by passing the moon no not at all.
We should still go to the moon but with a cheaper and faster plan such as the Oasis or ELA architectures.
http://spacecraft.ssl.umd.edu/design_li ... XEC_97.pdf
Oasis could be a drop in replacement for Constellation and the commercial sector can play a big part.
Much of what is nearly finished on Constellation such as the Orion can be directly applied with very few changes.
Most cargo can ride SEP tugs the technology is proven and it will drastically cut costs.
With a SEP tug your TLI payload becomes close to your LEO payload.
8tons of Xeon or Argon does the work of 60 tons of liquid hydrogen and oxygen.
This is with older hall thrusters with an ISP of 3000 sec.
In short a Delta IV-H with ACES or F9-H with Raptor "these are 45 to 50T upgrades "ends up having an equal or larger TLI payload then a Saturn V for cargo missions.
If they still build an simple shuttle derived HLV think the Jupiter 130 you could send double to mass the Saturn V or 30% more then Ares V to the moon if high ISP is used for the cargo end.

Unlike Constellation you end up developing a lot of the hardware required to visit many NEO vs a few and to go on the Mars or even the Asteroid belt.


The "new direction" per NASA Authorization Bill 2010 (soon to be law) is a great one.

Constellation was killing NASA -- too much time, too much $$ for a system that would surely lose funding sometime before completion. Constellation HAS TO BE stopped. The bill does that, sort of.

Commercial space is the only way to accelerate human expansion off planet. The bill encourages that, at an adequate level.

The bill authorizes a lot of other good things.

The fundamental direction of building capability adds more politically survivable robustness to the program.

No new president will want to achieve a major space milestone and credit her predicessor. Presidents and legislators will always cancel, re-imagine and re-name their predecessors' space programs. A capability focused program allows continuity of capability while whoever is the sitting president or majority party during a particular achievement can politically claim that achievement without cancelling infrastructure.

Awesome direction! Unanimous Senate, large majority in the House: best compromise our society can make at this time.

Commercial space will take us back to the moon while NASA takes us beyond.



doublehelix":2dy7zizq said:
Congress gave NASA the OK to shift focus from sending astronauts back to the moon by 2020 and instead aim for an asteroid by 2025 and then Mars by 2030. You like? Vote in our poll and tell us what you're thinking.

I voted Big mistake bypassing the moon. However I don't see it as a launching point for other destinations, nor as practice for other destinations.

There are likely massive ice deposits at the poles. Chandrayaan-1 and LRO have detected what seem to be sheets of relatively pure ice at least two meters thick. Water can be used for drinking, radiation shielding, a source of oxygen to breath, and a source of hydrogen and oxygen for propellent.

This propellent is much closer to LEO and EML1 than earth. Using aerobraking, lunar propellent is about 3 km/sec from LEO. Lunar propellent could be delivered to LEO with reusable vehicles, earthly propellent must be delivered to LEO with disposable rockets.

Launching for Mars or NEOs from the moon would take more delta V than launching from LEO. So the moon would not be a launching point for other destinations. This is often used as an erroneous argument against using lunar propellent. Lunar supplied propellent depots at LEO and EML1 would be the launching points for other destinations.

An upper stage with empty propellent tanks would be a much less massive payload to LEO. At LEO it can use lunar propellent to get to EML1 where it can refuel again. From EML1 it has a 2.4 km/sec advantage over LEO. Lunar supplied propellent depots would be a major game changer for reaching Mars, NEOs or any deep space destination in our solar system.

The ice sheets at the poles are likely layers that have accumulated over billions of years. This could be a record of our solar system's history just as the fossils in sedimentary rock are a record of life's history on earth. So far as scientific interest goes, the moon is a better destination that Mars or NEOs.

Further, launch windows to the moon open every two weeks, trip time is a few days. Launch windows open every two years for Mars and every few decades for a given NEO. Trip times to Mars or NEOs would be months to years. Building infrastructure on the moon is doable. Rarity of launch windows and long trip times make building permanent martian or NEO bases much more difficult. Given $19 billion a year, I see it as flags and footprints sortie missions vs building a permanent base.

I like the Senate bill in that it at least throws a few scraps to commercial space. Although a high flight rate would be very helpful in getting commercial space off the ground. Rare Martian or NEO launch windows can't offer the flight rate lunar development could.

The senate seems to be ditching Ares I - V which I like. Although a HLV SLS would not be necessary for lunar missions. With the ULA architecture, Atlas Vs and propellent depots do the job.


Thanks for the good, fundamental information HopDavid. Hopefully people will read that before making their arguments.

I like what NASA is doing here. Encouraging commercial space, focusing on LEO, ending Constellation. Those are all good things. I was pretty excited when I first heard about Constellation, going back to the moon and all of that. But sadly it is just not the type of program that will do what needs to be done in its time limit or get the appopriate funding. But with this bill we can have a strong space infrastructure in LEO, which should be our main priority.

What I do disagree with is going to an asteroid in favor of a return to the moon. That I just do not understand. Who knows, maybe the next president will shift direction back to the moon. We'll see.


These polls are really silly. They tell us more about the opinions of the poll designer than anyone else.

I am far more interested in the Moon than a NEO rendezvous, but the previous plan was not going to get us there, whereas the president's plan had significant money for many moon related projects such as a lunar precursor mission and ISRU research. I think what we have actually got now is the Senate plan? If so it still has moderate (if much reduced) funding in these areas but also has a lot of funding for an HLV. Im a bit worried about that HLV but while money is going into an HLV it is still going to pretty much the same place as it was going under the previous moon-oriented plan anyway, where all the money was being eaten by the HLV(s) as opposed to landers or ISRU research anyway.


Its both good and bad.

The good:

Its a new target, new destination to explore(a NEO). That might inspire some people. Its useful to be able to go to a NEO, because if we ever found on a collision course with the earth, we need to know how to get there to do anything about it. Also will likely give us new insight into how the solar system evolved.

The bad:

If we really wanted to go out in to space. I mean really do it. This is not the way... This is a flags and boots directive.


What we should be doing...

Step 1: Research.

Dump 100-200 billion dollars over 5-10 years into propulsion and energy research. Think 100,000 scientists working on nothing but propulsion ideas. From refining existing tech, to evolving promising but not yet realized tech, to working on wacky far out ideas that might not work at all.

As well as sufficient funding for nuclear reactors for space/moon/mars/etc.

There are 2 big show stoppers to practical space access. Propulsion and power. We can go there with what we have now but its FAR too expensive to ever be more then flags and boot prints missions.

Honestly id say dump another 500 billion over those 5-10 years on fusion research. Weve been trying to crack that nut for a very long time now. It would mean so much for the world if we did crack it. Not just for space but here on the ground too. But if we could do it in space it would be huge both as a generator and a form of propulsion.

Step 2: Moon with the goal of a manufacturing base.

Spend at least 2 trillion dollars over 20 years with the goal of putting a large scale mining operation, refinery and machine shop on the moon. Im talking a MASSIVE effort, hundreds to thousands of launches of equipment to set up a real base.

The point being to use local sourced materials to build future spacecraft. You want to build the big heavy pieces of a craft on the moon. As well as fuel it from the moon. Then outfit the hull with the complex stuff(think computers etc) from earth. You could easily source 95% of the mass off the moon.

The first 5-10 years would be on the design of a heavy lift with tech you learn in step 1. And design of the moon base. After that mass assembly of hundreds of copies of the heavy lift, and start shooting up a ton of equipment.

Step 2.5: More propulsion research.

While building your moon base, another research effort should be underway on lower thrust levels HIGH ISP engine designs. Such as ion, plasma, etc.

Step 3: Build multiple large scale freighter style ships with your assets developed above. Something with a design life of 50+ years, designed to never land anywhere. Just carry large masses around the solar system. Be that people or supplies or whatever. Design of which would start during the 2nd half of step 2, and be ready once your manufacturing base is finished.

Step 4: Go explore and colonize the solar system.

Its not pretty for the first 20 years or so, you dont go anywhere......but its what we really need to do if we want to be serious about space.

How to pay for it.....well for one we could stop spending trillions on blowing up and then rebuilding other countries all the time... And of course don't try to do it alone. Pull in the world not just the USA.


Politics continues to become uglier by the minute. Our space program id going nowhere while the politicians are running it.

--- CHAS


If we cede the Moon to other nations, our children will wonder, "What were they thinking?" We will be shamed.


From the Wayne Hale's blog :

waynehale.wordpress.com : Until the Fat Lady Sings
Posted on October 1, 2010

by waynehale

There is a poignant story told about a poor immigrant family when the eldest son tells his father that he wants to go to college. His father ponders this request for a few minutes then replies: “You have my permission.”

That is authorization.

The United States Congress has just passed an authorization bill for NASA. In the finest tradition of the American leadership this was a compromise at the last minute before the end of the fiscal year and the adjournment of the House and Senate

As with all compromises, no faction got everything they wanted, some got nothing; no one is entirely happy, most are glumly resigned. And so, I too, am not happy – but not for the typical reasons.

The authorization bill asks NASA to do, once more, more things than there is money to do them with. Several of the directives, both old and new, have woefully underestimated budgets attached. Unfortunately this is not a new phenomenon; it has been going on for decades. More than one blue ribbon commission report has emphasized the need to have NASA’s appropriated budget match the authorized mission. This authorization bill fails to heed that advice.

Expect in a couple of years there will be speeches made on capitol hill by congressmen who are shocked, shocked that some of NASA’s projects are behind schedule and over budget. There is not enough in the authorization budget estimates to make them successful. What is that definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The US Congress is setting NASA up again, just like it has over and over again for failure.

To add to the problem, the Republicans – who by every poll are forecast to take control of the House in the upcoming election – have pledged to roll back Non-Defense Discretionary Spending (e.g., NASA) to the 2008 funding levels. Whether or not you think this is a good principle in general for the US Government, it would strangle many of the new initiatives proposed by the freshly passed NASA authorization bill.

The next move in the grand American system is up to the appropriators in Congress. They will decide what money is actually given to which programs. Since there is not enough money to go around, there will be a furious fight over scarce resources at the appropriations committees – nothing new there.

Happy New Year! Today is the first day of the new US Government Fiscal Year 2011. Much of the government does not have a real budget but is being funded by a Continuing Resolution – in other words, keep doing what you were told to do in FY 2010 at the same spending level you were given in 2010. Sometime after the election, probably after January, Congress will get around to approving an appropriations bill for FY 2011 for NASA. Not all the programs that have been authorized will get the money they expect. Some few lucky programs will get a pittance more; most will have to make do with reductions from the estimates the authorizers made. Estimates which were generally inadequate in the first place.

So the fight continues. As I said in the title, it ain’t over . . . .


Just build a really big rocket out of Shuttle technology that will put at least 200 tons into LEO and then we can go anywhere that we want, Moon, Mars or whatever!! Lets get on with it!!!


I do think that we should go back to the moon, and take advantage of it as much as possible, but I don’t think the time is now. The idea of going to the Asteroid belt before we go back on the Moon is that in the Asteroid Belt are all the resources needed to make anything possible on the Moon. I do not think it’s wise to degrade the Earth by taking its resources to the Moon to build anything because the Moon is unsustainable. A colony on the Moon would require a continuous supply from Earth to keep it going, and that my friends is unacceptable. Let's go to the asteroid belt to map it, to locate its valuable resources, and find way to easily access what's needed in there. Once that is achieved we can then plan for anywhere else in the solar system. I’m all for going to LEO, NEO, Moon, Mars, Venus… but above all planet Earth must stay strong and healthy. :D


The way I see it, nothing much is going to happen unless someone with goals and money decides to do their own thing. NASA had no goals after Apollo for 30 years, and nothing very interesting happened. Then Bush gave NASA a goal, but not enough money to fund it. Now Obama and congress send NASA mixed messages still with no real money to fund it.

This reminds me of trying to navigate LA in rush hour with the traffic option on my GPS turned on. First it sends me one way because traffic on one HW is getting too heavy, then it changes it's mind because the traffic in the direction I was going got to heavy and tries to send me back. Only to change it's mind again and try and send me a third way. Eventually I just turned the feature off and I finally started getting somewhere.


Amadamerican":1yufp68c said:
I do think that we should go back to the moon, and take advantage of it as much as possible, but I don’t think the time is now. The idea of going to the Asteroid belt before we go back on the Moon is that in the Asteroid Belt are all the resources needed to make anything possible on the Moon.

Main asteroid belt?! Do you have any idea what the delta V would be? Trip times? Launch window frequency?

The most precious resource in space is water. The moon has that.


I can't vote in this poll as any choice is encumbered by beliefs I do not necessarily share.

However, the legislation just approved by a Congress of the American people, I do believe to be a step in the right direction and will enable a greater evolution in space access and achievement than could have been achieved through any other proposal made in government. It is my hope that the appropriations process doesn't send America backward to the original House proposal, that would be as fiscally irresponsible as the continued funding of Ares I.

...and of course, will next years Congress try to initiate another "new" direction if it gains a different leadership?


I predict that 8 years from now we will be EXACTLY where we are today.....

1) Congress will never provide NASA with all the promised money.
2) NASA will be criticized for over running a budget that never meets what was promised, as such the program will be constantly "over budget."
3) Due to being constantly 'over budget' as a result of congressional under funding, the programs will be canceled just as the first few test flights are done.
4) A "new" program will be announced that will get us 'there' faster better cheaper and the process repeats again.
5) Rinse wash and repeat.

What we need is for the Congress and the President to DELIVER the budget as promised and to get the HELL OUT OF THE WAY and let the program develop. Unfortunately NASA will always be at whims of the then current political agenda.


SDC : Voices: Experts and Analysts Weigh In On NASA's New Direction
By Denise Chow
SPACE.com Staff Writer
posted: 01 October 2010
07:04 pm ET

A NASA authorization bill that will pave the way for several NASA projects – including an extra space shuttle flight and the development of a heavy-lift rocket for future missions to an asteroid and Mars – was passed by Congress late Wednesday (Sept. 29).

The bill, S. 3729, which was approved by the House, includes a $19 billion budget in 2011 for the U.S. space agency, and a total of $58 billion through 2013.

It also allows NASA to extend its role in the International Space Station through at least 2020 and sets aside $1.3 billion over three years to support the development of commercial spacecraft.

SPACE.com asked several experts, analysts and stakeholders about their thoughts on NASA's new direction. Here are their responses and statements:
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