Thank you Gravity Ray for a very concise,well written response which was direct and just about perfectly summed up the situation.Gravity_Ray":pf8obiaj said:Tritium
Good questions and let me answer some of them.
We here at this forum want to go to the Moon and establish a base (and some scientist and engineers too), but we the American people do not want that. Most Americans are busy with their lives and don’t know a Moon base from a Moon sandwich. Frankly they are easily swayed by one liners like “why spend money on the Moon when you can buy sandwiches for hungry people" or some such nonsense.
There is nobody that will disagree that Apollo got us to the Moon, but at what cost? Do you know that NASA was spending something like 5% of the federal budget to get to the Moon and that was just a boots and flags program. Right now, NASA budget is around 0.5% of the budget and the Congress still cuts them whenever possible. Cant blame them, they are trying to get re-elected by the people that want to buy sandwiches for hungry people.
The problem with the Space Shuttle is not funding, although it is amazingly expensive to get 7 people into space with some hardware per flight. The problem is that the Shuttle is side mounted on a tank that sheds ice and damages the tiles of the Shuttle. The shuttle is a very complex system and has a failure rate of 2%. Imagine if you sit in your car or a plane and 2% of the time you are going to die! And these shuttles are expensive so its not you can just buy another plane or another car.
The United States still has a can do attitude. But that attitude like you said comes more from the car manufacturers or the airline industry, not from the government. So the right choice now is to move most of this lifting to LEO to private companies instead of NASA and let NASA do the harder research. As the se private companies get better at LEO and a small market develops (from getting NASA to LEO, or from getting paid customers to LEO, or even point to point travel through sub-orbital flights) they will get better and cheaper; exactly like the airline industry or the car industry.
NASA is a well managed government organization, they are very good at what they do, but they have to dance to the tune of a Immoral and Crazy Congress that changes its mind at a drop of a dime or a vote.
Lets give private industry a chance here, and see how they are doing. I have been watching NASA since the late 70s and because of budget issues they are still in LEO. If the private companies cant cut it, then what do we lose? I mean the Constellation program wasn’t going to get anybody to the Moon until around 2030 anyway.
My hope is that we keep the ball rolling and through cooperation between the private companies and NASA,as well as ESA and the Russians,that humanity gets the mission accomplished,which should be achieving a Lunar and Martian colony which are both self sufficient as soon as possible in the near future.
So,I can only hope that NASA will manage what funding it does get to brainstorm the new technologies,such as VASMIR and the use of nuclear reactors to provide the energy requirements for the plasma production for propulsion and the life support systems for a Martian cruise ship to get us there and back much more quickly than chemical rockets.As well as figuring out the game plan for the exact developmental stages of both the Lunar and Martian colonies,the L5 station,the orbital fuel stations and manufacturing facilities which would allow the Mars ships to be assembled in space,receiving materials and supplies from both the Earth and Lunar sources.
I am getting old,and I'm kind of saddened that I now realize I probably won't get to go to the Moon,or to Mars in my lifetime.There is a glimmer of hope that I might get to ride to LEO,or a sub-orbital hop,and it's on my "bucket -list".To see the Earth from an altitude where I could see the whole planet from space,with my own two eyes has always been a dream of mine.And back in the late 60's I really thought that I might be whacking a golf ball into an amazing trajectory on the surface of the Moon.But the whole NASA/space thing died down due to economic restraints(the we might be able to buy a sandwich for somebody thinking) and we have cell phones and personal computers,but no flying cars,and no space cruise ship vacations....(sigh).I keep hoping some kid at MIT or the University of Texas ,or someplace will grab a piece of chalk and write the mathematical formula for anti-gravity so I can back out of my garage and rise to a few hundred feet and zip down to the coast for an afternoon,and then boogie on back home before dark.But I digress.The point is,it seems as though our technological brealthroughs have slowed down to a crawl,when I expected them to increase exponentially,building one upon another.Now I'm really getting off the track and thinking that this could be a great subject for a new topic... :lol: