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

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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
    68
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sgood360

Guest
Like all of Obama's programs the only new direction for nasa is backwards.
 
7

747Whaledriver

Guest
First of all, if you will please indulge me, permit me to tell you a little about that experience that lends itself to the discussion about NASA budgets and the problems I see that we must solve before going to Mars.

One: I was a mathematics major and physics minor in college. Following school, I went out and flew around the world for a time. Some time later, I was employed by a major aerospace contractor and worked in their Space and Strategic Missile Systems Division as a Cost Analyst -- not a bean counter -- but someone whose job it was to determine the BEST way to design and build spacecraft or launch vehicles, to develop the best product of form, fit, function and cost with the fewest product mistakes and cost overruns.

So that you can understand some of the problems we face in our space program, consider this: Congress wants the American people to get their money's worth, so the contractor builds $1.00 hammers and has to subject each one to $20,000 of quality assurance and reliability testing that procurement regulations demand contractors to do to assure compliance with product specifications. When it is time for someone to get re-elected, they leak to the press that the aerospace contractor is selling $21,000 hammers to NASA; the public is outraged and after the Congressperson gets re-hired, they wink at NASA and say that they were just kidding, no harm meant. Just for show, NASA loses 2-3% of its budget so that congress looks good. NASA staff gets laid off and go out the door to find another paycheck. The experience of those engineers, etc, goes out the door with them. Schedules slip because there aren't enough people to do the work and those people who are left are often shuffled around to re-staff departments that were hardest hit by budget cuts. Transferring people in new jobs means those people have to learn what their predecessors had previously learned but took with them when they left. Those people transferred to new jobs are paid while learning and further cost overruns and schedule slips occur. Once a certain amount of learning is lost, you can't solve the problem of the knowledge lost simply by adding more people. (Think of it this way -- if it takes one woman 273 days to have a baby, then putting 273 women on the job can make a baby in one day, right?) The loss of experience, cost overruns and schedule slips mean that errors are made, tests are not conducted properly, are combined with other tests or not done at all. These are exactly the conditions under which compromises of design and testing occur to compensate for budget cuts, cost overruns and schedule slides. (This is a simplified version of just one of the typical ways in which our elected leaders interfere with NASA and our space program. For example, Richard Nixon loathed the space program, but he was certain to have all the world's press listen in as he congratulated Armstrong and Aldrin while they were on the surface of the Moon; later, he grabbed the spotlight to personally greet the Apollo 11 astronauts after their return: once he arrived back in Washington from Honolulu, having wrung all the political capital he could from Apollo 11's success, he set plans in motion to cut three of the later scheduled Apollo flights so that he could show a budget surplus to the public when it was time for him to run for re-election.)

A very painful lesson I learned is that when someone from the White House or Congress begins to talk about trimming NASA budgets for cost-savings, a great deal of talent and program growth is lost forever. Seemingly no one in Congress understands that when we set out to take on bold new initiatives in manned spaceflight, there is often little or no basis of comparison to make when estimating costs and project length: Gemini was different than Mercury; Apollo was different from Gemini; and there was literally nothing to compare the Space Transportation System (STS) to when NASA first wanted to build a reusable vehicle for LEO flight. Congress and its pork-barrel meddling forced NASA to accept a design for the orbiter, external fuel tank and strap-on solid boosters that the space agency did not want, and as a result, we have lost 14 astronauts to design flaws that likely would have never occurred had NASA built the spacecraft and launch vehicles it wanted in the first place. And once again, just as we approach a mature design in the STS, the fleet is retired: we are put into the position of pouring billions of dollars for hitching rides into space to the ISS, and have NO expendable heavy-launch vehicles in our inventory with which to do other work that the shuttle was capable of doing; some of the launch vehicles or payloads we do have sit idle in storage areas (or outside in the elements) awaiting their inclusion into the ever-changing schedules -- if they fly at all.

Two: many of the programs I worked on as new business products went into space, one way or another. I take pride as an American to say that.

Drawing upon my experience, allow me please to say that going to Mars is NOT just about the fuel and materiel sources.

We had an excellent start in exploring our solar system with Apollo but lost our way: all too many problems were brought about by having temporary occupants of the White House and Congress meddling in space programs they supported in word only, who had hidden agendas that resulted in severe cost-cutting in the name of efficiency to create political capital for themselves. The goal of space exploration is not arbitrary cost-saving: it is about having the national resolve to explore space -- then doing it.

Going to the Moon and living there for extended periods before we make our first manned flight to Mars is a vital step that we MUST make. We have far too much to learn about living in space on the Moon before we can hope to survive a mandatory longer stay on Mars. Imagine an emergency that threatens our ability to produce water, air and/or power at a lunar colony, when earth is approximately four days away (depending upon the transportation system in place between the Earth and Moon that exists later in the future); now compare that to the same emergency on Mars. We must learn how and where to live on the Moon before we can do the same on Mars, using designs proven on the Moon, while other specialists work to develop and refine mature propulsion designs that we will need for the trip to Mars and back.

Presidential and congressional incompetence, graft and myopia aside, the one thing that we cannot do is to send astronauts to Mars before we have a myriad of compelling human physiological/psychological problems and vehicle technical challenges solved -- and have mature extraterrestrial habitats designed for living on the Martian surface. Here again, there is little or no basis for comparison between the experience we have now in manned spaceflight and that which we will have to successfully prove mastery in before attempting our first manned flight to Mars. There is a veritable encyclopedia of propulsion designs that must be built, tested and proven before we can embark on the first manned flight to Mars. We have no laboratory on Earth where a spacecraft, needed for the journey to Mars and back, can sit cold-soaked in part within the windy, dusty environment such as that of Mars -- and withstand the many hazards it will encounter in the Martian environment: such a laboratory can be furnished on the Moon with some modifications to simulate that environment. In short: we have to get there, live there and get back -- and we have no experience that lends itself to facing and meeting all the challenges that we will encounter.

John F. Kennedy spoke of making the commitment to go to the Moon and return safely to Earth, not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter allowed the space program to languish, killing the Apollo program altogether and permitting our first research station in space, Skylab, to re-enter Earth's atmosphere and burn up. The next bold program in space, announced by Ronald Reagan, was to utilize space in part for the defense of this nation with the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) -- a program which we may yet regret having canceled. George W. Bush proposed our next bold step in space with a program to return to the Moon and, in time, proceed further out into space with a manned flight to Mars.

Our current president seems intent on turning back the calendar 50 years or more in most everything that he involves himself in-- including laying waste to NASA. In 2005, Congress mandated by law that NASA should find and track 90% of all of the dangerous asteroids and comets that may threaten the Earth by 2020. While obama has directed that NASA should land on an asteroid, he has allowed the office that is searching for NEOs (that pose a risk to earth) to run out of funds.

Go figure...
 
S

SteveCNC

Guest
I have to agree with pretty much everything you had to say 747Whaledriver , although there is a difference between the 60s-80s engineering and now . With the advent of cad systems capable of all sorts of things from applied motion to finite element analysis the information required to build a rocket is far less dependent on the minds of individuals . Proper procedural notes regarding processing and assembly prevent mistakes no matter who is doing the work . I will admit that not just anyone can preform that type of work but there are still a lot of us that can . I work with cad/cam systems for a living so I do know what they can do and I also did work almost exclusively for Lockheed Martin for 15 years so I know how the system works including the R&D side . But these days computers have lessened the dependency on individuals to perform work , whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is a subject for another debate but that's reality .
 
H

HopDavid

Guest
747Whaledriver":3h344ip3 said:
While obama has directed that NASA should land on an asteroid, he has allowed the office that is searching for NEOs (that pose a risk to earth) to run out of funds.
That's terrible news!

Do you have a cite? Not that I doubt you but for me learning more about this.
 
O

OmegaOm

Guest
Since this world is all about control. It would be unwise for the Americans to by-pass the moon. Jumping over a stream without landing on the rock first.
Basically, whoever controls the moon, controls the Earth.
because, anything can be launched from the moon more easily. Satellite, spacecraft, nuclear missiles.
 
T

therios

Guest
I think it is a good idea. We landed on the moon with something comparable to cart and horse. We don't need to do it again. We don't need to waste the time.

Just because we are not focusing on the moon does not mean that we won't be utilizing it. I can see in the near future, a new dark side telescope on the surface of the moon. Just a matter of time until astronomers really want something better than we can float around in orbit... just a matter of time.

Also, the moon still has other uses that the private sector can utilize. And through this, we might get them involved in space and they might even see the commercial benefits to asteroids.
 
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neutrino78x

Guest
therios":1w1j7b3c said:
Just because we are not focusing on the moon does not mean that we won't be utilizing it. I can see in the near future, a new dark side telescope on the surface of the moon. Just a matter of time until astronomers really want something better than we can float around in orbit... just a matter of time.

Also, the moon still has other uses that the private sector can utilize. And through this, we might get them involved in space and they might even see the commercial benefits to asteroids.
I completely agree. The moon is for automated telescopes on the far side, colonization is for other places in the Solar System, like Mars.

Also, to those who want a space program which is not subject to politics, that's easy: SpaceX et al. Private enterprise will colonize Mars and exploit space regardless of what Congress decides.

--Brain
 
H

HopDavid

Guest
therios":v12rj1sp said:
I think it is a good idea. We landed on the moon with something comparable to cart and horse. We don't need to do it again. We don't need to waste the time.
Sure. After Columbus set foot on the new world, there was no reason to "waste time" doing it again.

We still have a lot to learn about the moon and it has a lot to offer us.
 
B

bdewoody

Guest
nobidon":1pywpao8 said:
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.
What he said. Abandoning the previous plan to set up a base on the moon in favor of a grand stand stunt to an asteroid is a monumental mistake.
 
3

3DBME

Guest
Twenty five years from now, after the Chinese have tested and perfected their nuclear pulse rocket technology (launchable from the lunar surface) and are going to inner solar system destinations in a few months instead of years, and after they have perfected their nuclear powered beam weaponry to use against any target on the Earth's surface or near-Earth space, and after they have perfected their superconductor based rail gun technology that can deliver a single non-explosive kinetic energy projectile to any sea based target and generate a local tsunami that will decimate any fleet, then we can thank these government officials for our 'new direction' in space.
 
M

MeteorWayne

Guest
3DBME":hoa0ylw5 said:
Twenty five years from now, after the Chinese have tested and perfected their nuclear pulse rocket technology (launchable from the lunar surface) and are going to inner solar system destinations in a few months instead of years, and after they have perfected their nuclear powered beam weaponry to use against any target on the Earth's surface or near-Earth space, and after they have perfected their superconductor based rail gun technology that can deliver a single non-explosive kinetic energy projectile to any sea based target and generate a local tsunami that will decimate any fleet, then we can thank these government officials for our 'new direction' in space.
Hmmm, somebody's a little optimistic about progress and a bit paranoid, eh?
 
E

EarthlingX

Guest
http://www.orlandosentinel.com : NASA technology chief: We'll decide what rocket we want to build
By Robert Block, Orlando Sentinel Space Editor

6:14 p.m. EDT, October 4, 2010

NASA engineers -- not Congress -- must determine the design of America's next big spaceship to take humans beyond the moon, according to the agency's top technology official.

Robert Braun, NASA's chief technologist, told the Orlando Sentinel that even though Congress last week passed legislation demanding that NASA use parts of the space shuttle and its now-defunct Constellation moon-rocket program to make a new heavy-lift rocket, sound engineering and not politics should ultimately determine the way to go.

"I think it remains to be seen what heavy lift will be," Braun said. "I would like to believe now that we are making progress in Washington towards the 2011 plan that the engineers…will weigh in and that we will move towards the technically correct choice."
...
"I know there's been a lot of discussion about shuttle-derived [rockets] and how derived from the shuttle will it be. There are other options from a technology perspective," he said, without providing details.

However, he did suggest that a brand-new launcher did not need solid-rocket boosters – a move that would likely draw the ire of Utah lawmakers and ATK.
...
"A lot of that depends on what we need to go to an asteroid or Mars," he said. "And a lot of that depends on our technology investments." He said advances in in-space technology – propulsion, communications, orbiting fuel depots – may enable the use of smaller, less-advanced rockets to launch from Earth.

Braun praised the bill for proposing to invest $600 million in technology in 2011, saying it would help create more jobs all around the country – though not necessarily in Florida. He said it would also attract a whole new generation of students back to working in the space program.

"We are going to begin to invest in technology to go beyond low Earth orbit, and we weren't making those investments at any level before," he said.
 
E

EarthlingX

Guest
www.thespacereview.com : Milestones and transitions
by Jeff Foust

Monday, October 4, 2010

If the Space Age has a birthday, then today would be it. Fifty-three years ago today—October 4, 1957—an R-7 rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in present-day Kazakhstan and placed the first satellite, Sputnik, into orbit. That launch also triggered a space race between the United States and the Soviet Union, a frenzied, hyperkinetic period of firsts that culminated nearly 12 years later with the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon.

Since then, it seems, space advocates have been attempting to recapture the magic of that era, with little success. The latest effort has been the Vision for Space Exploration, the program announced by President George W. Bush in January 2004 to return humans to the Moon by 2020 as a prelude for human missions to Mars and beyond. Last week, though, the Vision died quietly on Capitol Hill with the passage of a NASA authorization bill that charts yet another new direction for the space agency. Another effort to harness the energy and enthusiasm—and funding—first tapped 53 years ago had failed.
...
 
P

planetling

Guest
I don't know what will happen as a result of the budget, nor do I know what will happen when the next administration takes over.

What I do know is this:

With all of the discussion, lobbying, compromises and votes, and for as many letters, words, paragraphs, pages, time and multiple billions of dollars that were put into this so-called authorization, it is unbelievable, imo, that it lays the solid foundation for nothing other than another guessing game.

If the authorization bill, on the other hand, clearly defined established time lines and concrete destinations, I am certain that the general population would be once again excited and cheering as did when man first set foot on the moon.
 
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neutrino78x

Guest
HopDavid":133xon8k said:
Sure. After Columbus set foot on the new world, there was no reason to "waste time" doing it again.

We still have a lot to learn about the moon and it has a lot to offer us.
I would argue that The New World is Mars and Beyond; Mars is like North America, whereas the Moon is like Antarctica, and the asteroids are like the West Indies.

The asteroids are good to get minerals and return on investment for space, the Moon is a good place for automated scientific devices like telescopes, and a destination for tourists, but Mars is where you colonize. :)

--Brian
 
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neutrino78x

Guest
EarthlingX":1zclorhi said:
Destinations are not important if you can go anywhere, it would just bring one-purpose solution, very expensive at that. Asteroid mission could fly in 2016, it's just 44t all together to LEO.
I agree, modularity is key. You need hardware that can go multiple places. That way it is not a choice between the Moon and asteroids; one year, you go one place, the next year, the other. The next year, one of the first two. The year after that, a third place. :) If all uses most of the same hardware, it works well. :)

I think Orion is a good thing to keep, not so much Ares I and V. :)

--Brian
 
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Gravity_Ray

Guest
NASA's direction is unfortunately dependant on the flavor of the day administration that is in office that year.

Neither the Bush nor the Obama administrations really care about real human space flight and exploration of our solar system. They both have failed miserably in coming up with a valid direction for NASA.

One came up with a Moon, Mars, and beyond direction at the end of his term without any funding. The other came up with Asteroids, then the moons of Mars without any sort of logic.

The best thing is to get NASA to simply fund private enterprise with some seed money to do basic work in LEO. Getting cargo and then astronauts to LEO first. Then fund them with additional seed money to get them into cislunar space while NASA continues to fund scientific endeavors to increase our abilities with engines, and robotic missions to map out our solar system so private sector will know what is where.

Then get the heck out of the way so the private sector will do the job cheaper and faster.
 
E

EarthlingX

Guest
www.spaceref.com : NASA chief technologist to speak on future of deep space missions
Source: Iowa State University

Posted Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dr. Robert Braun, NASA chief technologist, will visit Iowa State's College of Engineering to discuss the future of human space travel. His presentation, part of the T.A. Wilson Lecture series, will be held on October 20 at 11:00 a.m. in the Alliant Energy-Lee Liu Auditorium in Howe Hall.

Through "Investments in Our Future: Exploring Space through Innovation and Technology," Braun will provide an overview of NASA's planned research, innovation, and technology investments that focus on robotic and human exploration throughout the solar system.

Braun believes NASA's new Space Technology Program will provide vital development in new technologies to the future of space travel. The program has been focusing on advancements in deep space missions for humans, as well as creating benefits for these new innovations on Earth. These technologies will allow humans to venture beyond low Earth orbit more safely and efficiently, while providing real-life applications and benefits.
...
 
E

EarthlingX

Guest
spacecoalition.com : Americans Embrace Space Exploration, Believe Shuttle a Good Investment, Rasmussen Poll Reveals
October 08, 2010

A Rasmussen Reports poll unveiled this week reveals some rather dramatic shifts in public opinion this year in favor of NASA and the agency’s endeavors in human as well as robotic space exploration.

The changes unfolded during a on going debate among lawmakers and policy makers over the agency’s future. The catalyst for the sometimes contentious give and take has been the looming retirement of NASA’s shuttle program. Two scheduled flights remain, with a good possibility of a third “final” flight in mid-2011. Each of the flights is intended to bolster the future of the NASA-managed International Space Station, which is likely to receive a four-year extension of operations — until at least 2020.

Last week, Congress delivered road map legislation to the White House that calls for a new human deep space exploration capability by 2017. Destinations include the asteroids and eventually Mars. The measure, which also invests in new commercial human orbital transportation capabilities, awaits President Obama’s signature.

Eighty percent of adult Americans express a favorable opinion of NASA, up from 64 percent in January, according to the Rasmussen poll, published Tuesday. Fourteen percent have a negative outlook, down from 20 percent in January. Those in favor include 32 percent, who view NASA very favorably.

The telephone survey of 1,000 adults conducted Oct. 1-2 includes a 3 percent plus or minus margin of error.

Sharply divided over future exploration

In spite of NASA’s rising respect, Americans remain remarkably divided in their support for future exploration. Forty one percent of those polled would invest, 41 percent would not. Those unsure represent a hefty 17 percent. In January, 50 percent believed a cutback was warranted.

As the shuttle program nears retirement, 52 percent believe the 132 missions launched so far have been worth the expense, up 12 percent from January. Twenty-eight percent believe the shuttle program has been a poor investment, 20 percent are unsure.

In light of those numbers, it’s especially interesting to note that 72 percent believe human space flight, a capability about to move off shore for at least a few years, is important to the nation. Just 21 percent believe the opposite. Thirty-five percent of those in the supportive category believe the capability is “very important.”

Seventy-six percent believe robotic exploration is important, including 29 percent who say it’s very important. Sixteen percent believe robotic missions are not important.

Who Should Pay?

So, who should pay? The outcome reveals a lack of consensus. Forty percent believe space exploration is an appropriate government expenditure. Thirty-two percent would rely on private investors to lead the way. Twenty-eight percent are undecided on this significant issue.

www.rasmussenreports.com : 52% Say Space Shuttle Program Has Been Worth The Cost
Tuesday, October 05, 2010

NASA just received the budget go-ahead for one last manned shuttle launch, but most Americans think the historic shuttle program has been well worth the money.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 52% of Adults say the space shuttle program has been worth the expense to taxpayers. Twenty-eight percent (28%) disagree and feel the program has not been worth the expense. Twenty percent (20%) are not sure.
...
 
W

wispacegirl

Guest
We have to grow out of this belief that our bodies need to leave Earth in order for us to explore space. Sending a few humans bodily to Mars or asteroids is NOT interesting enough to justify the expense, bureaucracy, and endless waiting. Rather than an "I came/saw/conquered" reality show (like the Apollo missions were), I would love to see advanced probes drilling through the Europan ice, diving into the methane lakes of Titan, bringing back samples from Mars, and traveling to another STAR SYSTEM. Mars is a miserable environment for people. Let's LEARN things, and save the human travel for somewhere we'd actually like to live.
 
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HopDavid

Guest
neutrino78x":11hlw63l said:
HopDavid":11hlw63l said:
I would argue that The New World is Mars and Beyond; Mars is like North America, whereas the Moon is like Antarctica, and the asteroids are like the West Indies.
No, the moon has a very valuable resource - Water.

Unlike the asteroids and Mars, the moon also has frequent launch windows and short trip times.
 
D

DarkenedOne

Guest
wispacegirl":2kbu5ifv said:
We have to grow out of this belief that our bodies need to leave Earth in order for us to explore space. Sending a few humans bodily to Mars or asteroids is NOT interesting enough to justify the expense, bureaucracy, and endless waiting. Rather than an "I came/saw/conquered" reality show (like the Apollo missions were), I would love to see advanced probes drilling through the Europan ice, diving into the methane lakes of Titan, bringing back samples from Mars, and traveling to another STAR SYSTEM. Mars is a miserable environment for people. Let's LEARN things, and save the human travel for somewhere we'd actually like to live.
Well first of all human spaceflight does not explore space. It has not done so for many decades now because it has been restricted to LEO. All the exploration is done by robots. All of these people who cling to the idea of human spaceflight exploration is ridiculous at least in the short term. We have no problem sending probes to any object in the solar system for a fraction it costs human spaceflight to make it to the moon.

That being said the purpose of human spaceflight should be to expand humanity into space. It is already painfully obvious that Earth is just to small for us now.
 
D

DarkenedOne

Guest
Gravity_Ray":2nm3brwl said:
NASA's direction is unfortunately dependant on the flavor of the day administration that is in office that year.

Neither the Bush nor the Obama administrations really care about real human space flight and exploration of our solar system. They both have failed miserably in coming up with a valid direction for NASA.
I cannot stand it when people use exploration and human spaceflight in the same sentence. Human spaceflight has not explored anything in decades. It should not be about exploration.[/quote]
 
B

brandbll

Guest
HopDavid":3qhcmemk said:
neutrino78x":3qhcmemk said:
HopDavid":3qhcmemk said:
I would argue that The New World is Mars and Beyond; Mars is like North America, whereas the Moon is like Antarctica, and the asteroids are like the West Indies.
No, the moon has a very valuable resource - Water.

Unlike the asteroids and Mars, the moon also has frequent launch windows and short trip times.
Seriously, what if you found something valuable on the asteroid anyways? Whoosh, it's gone and you aren't going to have a chance at extracting those minerals anytime soon anyways. Not to mention in order to extract those minerals you'll need to test tools for doing so. How do you plan on testing those tools when the asteroid is long gone? Then you have the possibility you get there with some tools you think will work and they don't. There goes a big waste. Oh and not to mention the window you'd have to extract what you needed to and get off the ateroid in order to make it back. The safety aspect doesn't even need to be mentioned because the the huge risks are so obvious.

Manned flights to asteroids is just pissing our money down the crapper and what would we have to show for it? Nothing. We'd have some pictures of us sticking a flag in the thing and a shovel full of asteroid dirt, whoopee!

The whole purpose of manned spaceflight is for putting in work. Real labor and science that a robot can't do. That type of work is best done on the moon. It's always there. We've been there and back. We have an orbiter that would be invaluable in aiding such missions; and we can begin to eperiment with setting up a base of operations there. The potential scientific findings are seemingly endless, the potential for mineable minerals, WATER, the safety of the missions; i just don't understand why people would want to skirt that to go plant a flag in an asteroid the size of a football field.
 
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