So is NASA having a hard time hiring youth?

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RonMaverick

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<p>Not just NASA but is the generation that was obsessed with Apollo missions and the space race having a hard time convincing the youth? My generation?&nbsp; I am 19 now and for the most part it is extremly rare I find anyone with the interest of going into space or working for NASA.&nbsp; Add the fact that I'm African-American and the chances are slim to none.&nbsp; I'm guessing with the many distractions of MTV, MP3s and the internet burst it would be easy to see why.&nbsp; I've gone to several of my local Astronomy Club meetings and I was shocked to see the members were older than my mother, by far.&nbsp; It was like having a pre schooler sit in a high school class.&nbsp; I understood every thing fine and all but really how severe is this gap? </p><p>I also attended NASA's Anniversary that was open to the public and it made me proud to attend I loved everything I saw, but again this crowd was either toddlers or adults in their early to mid 30s.&nbsp; I told this to one of the workers he also seemed a bit upset so he told me to go to some of the "hangers" and there were the moon hab prototypes!!&nbsp; At this rate will NASA have to change their perception towards Gen Y? Our counselor at school was able to get three guys to sign up for the army yet I was the only one out of any of her classes for the day to say astronaunt or space related sciences.&nbsp; </p>I am not trying to put down my gen but I was just wondering if this issue was as wide spread as it appears to be.&nbsp; Does NASA and other equals have enough young talent at the moment as people from the space race begin to retire? Is it "just enough" or at a constant rate of applicants? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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qso1

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<p>This is a different time and generation, but first off. I don't think race, creed or color has anything to do with it exept in situations where you might be interviewed by some racist.</p><p>Like the military, NASA began breaking down the color barrier before much of society was breaking it down. That doesn't mean there are no racists employed at NASA, it just means that for the most part. NASA is not interested in a persons skin color, creed or Nationality. Look at the shuttle crews that have flown compared to Mercury thru Apollo.</p><p>Its been my experience that those interested in human spaceflight have always been thought of as "Nerds". I noticed it in my junior high years which was 1969-70. A time you'd think people with space interests would be part of the in crowd. I wasn't even part of the out crowd! I was a space nerd to cool kids white or black.</p><p>And it only got worse in high School. Because by that time, space being uncool was more the in thing than it was in my Jr High years.&nbsp;</p><p>I think its largely the same today. Most, but not all teens and young adults are far more interested in whether Britney Spears wears underwear or how much Howard Stern paid for his digs than almost anything space or science related.</p><p>Those that worked for NASA and its contractors in the day appear in larger numbers and tend to be retirement age because at one time, NASA had as many as 25,000 people at KSC alone. Almost half a million employed at the height of Apollo. Today KSC employs something like 16,000 IIRC.&nbsp;</p><p>I'd say gen "Y" has to change its perceptions towards human spaceflight, NASA or any science related field of endevour. To some extent, this is occuring in the world of computers but thats mainly due to computer games, I-pods and such. But when it comes to whats cool, Gen "Y" is not much different than my generation. </p><p>I'm sure there are more than enough applicants only because there are more people interested in space careers than NASA can hire. Does NASA have enough people? They say they are concerned about loosing the experience base they have so I suspect they would welcome those such as yourself that have an interest in space and science.</p><p>Unfortunately, it was the generation I was in that ultimately made spaceflight so unpopular. The idea that we could spend tax money better on earthly problems instead of moon landings has done more to dampen enthusiasm for human space flight in America than anything else.</p><p>Never mind those earthly problems were with us all along. Never mind government wouldn't actually use any saved NASA money to go towards earthly problems such as poverty, disease. Never mind this has been proven by NASA budget cuts that have kept NASAs budget where its at today and yet, where are the improvements in poverty and cures for diseases? </p><p>But gen "Y" continues the tired old argument as evidenced by politicians calling for NASA cuts from time to time when NASA has been cut by as much as 50% (Early 70s) and left at about that rate since.</p><p>Because of this, I'm sure NASA has more than enough people. Especially when the shuttle is retired and layoffs will take place. But by no means, do not let that discourage you from a career in space. The upside is that NASA hopefully will be hiring personell for the upcoming Constellation program. There are also increasing opportunities in space careers with private sector companies such as "Scaled Composites" Or "Space X". Companies working to pick up where NASA will eventually be leaving off.</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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erioladastra

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Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Add the fact that I'm African-American and the chances are slim to none.</DIV><br /><br />Huh?&nbsp; Why?&nbsp; This is not true.&nbsp; Just work hard and pursue space and you could easily get a job at NASA and maybe be selected as an astronaut.
 
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RonMaverick

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Hello I thank you for both of your replies!&nbsp; I would like to say I am not trying to implay any racism!&nbsp; What I was saying is that the majority of my African-American friends were not interested in Astronomy and that the chances of them changing their minds were slim to none.&nbsp; This does not just apply to them directly I talk to all kinds of people my age and none of them are really interested either.&nbsp; I had thought about them ending the shuttle program, however I was wondering would the Orion Missions cause more job openings.&nbsp; I'm sure most will transfer over but NASA seems to be starting several new projects at once, this will be an entirely new generation of staff for the most part. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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qso1

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<p>Shuttle program layoffs are immenent as we approach the shuttles retirement. Orion wont really kick into high gear, especially at KSC until probably a year or so after the shuttle is retired. Orion is scheduled for a 2015 first flight.</p><p>Hiring on at KSC will probably be difficult until around the 2012-15 time frame, and assuming Constellation will be supported by the new President and his/her Congress. You mentioned being 19, I would say maybe go to college if your not doing so already. Get your degree in mechanical, electrical or aerospace engineering, basically any degree would be okay but those three are ideal for spaceflight related work, including becoming an astronaut.</p><p>Good luck.&nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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Swampcat

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<p>I'd like to just reiterate something qso1 said earlier...don't ignore private space companies. Getting a job at NASA may be very difficult over the next half dozen years or so. The private spaceflight industry is growing.</p><p>There are a number of private companies working on various aspects of space exploration and exploitation. Most of them are in the early stages of developing their products and capabilities so should be exciting places to work with lots of opportunities and more chance of getting your hands on real hardware.</p><p>Another suggestion...find out about High Power Rocketry. Join the NAR and learn something about rockets. Hang out with the rocket guys. They'll teach you. Even if you don't end up working for NASA or a private space company you can still be a rocket scientist on the weekends <img src="http://sitelife.space.com/ver1.0/content/scripts/tinymce/plugins/emotions/images/smiley-smile.gif" border="0" alt="Smile" title="Smile" /></p><p>Oh, and college is a very good idea. </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="3" color="#ff9900"><p><font size="1" color="#993300"><strong><em>------------------------------------------------------------------- </em></strong></font></p><p><font size="1" color="#993300"><strong><em>"I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government."</em></strong></font></p><p><font size="1" color="#993300"><strong>Thomas Jefferson</strong></font></p></font> </div>
 
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Hockey07

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<p>I'll be graduating high school in 2009 and then will be attending college for aerospace engineering.&nbsp; I plan on doing a 5-year program to get a bachelors in Aerospace and a masters in Mechanical, so that puts me at about 2014-15 when I start looking for a job.&nbsp; I'm definitely enthusiastic about the up and coming private companies, and have researched many of those.&nbsp; Do you think that will be a good time for the aerospace industry, and a good time for getting a job?</p><p>I wish there were more people interested in aerospace, but most of today's kids go where the money is... medicine, law, business.&nbsp; Engineer salaries start out pretty high for undergraduate students, but I hear that they peak quickly.&nbsp; People in the petroleum industry make a lot of money for obvious reasons, but once space exploration is really starting to take off again toward the end of the next decade, how do you think salaries will be affected?&nbsp;</p><p>I love space :) </p>
 
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ariesr

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<p>But gen "Y" continues the tired old argument as evidenced by politicians calling for NASA cuts from time to time when NASA has been cut by as much as 50% (Early 70s) and left at about that rate since.</p><p></p><p>&nbsp;I hope that the US governemtn will at some stage cut military spending and focus more on it's own. And Follow frances lead to cut down it's Nuclear "White elephant" of an Arsenal.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The savings would more than fund more Nasa related progams and issues close to home.</p>
 
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qso1

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<p><font color="#800080">I wish there were more people interested in aerospace, but most of today's kids go where the money is... medicine, law, business.</font></p><p>As unfortunate as the current interest, or lack thereof, is in space careers by todays youth. There is another way to look at it...less competition to get into a space career which despite the lack of interest, is still highly competitive.&nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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doubletruncation

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>... There is another way to look at it...less competition to get into a space career which despite the lack of interest, is still highly competitive.&nbsp; <br /> Posted by qso1</DIV></p><p>This is a key point. I don't know how things are on the engineering side, but on the science side finding a career is still very competitive. The supply of Ph.D. astronomers exceeds the demand for professional astronomer positions. This situation was a lot worse back in the mid-90s (I remember seeing a statistic that there was ~7 astronomers on the market for every open position), now if I remember right it's more like 2 to 1 which has more to do with increased funding for space science than a decreased number of PhDs. </p><p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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qso1

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<p>I'm sure its the same on the engineering side. It all boils down to what people would like to do and what they get stuck doing because of not preparing themselves educationally. Education wont guarantee getting a premium job but it will give one the edge.&nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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RonMaverick

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<p>Yes this is what I am talking about.&nbsp; Those main fields are very full right now but what about future fields like <strong>areology</strong> and other studies?&nbsp; Right now new science fields are being created left and right.&nbsp; Would it be worth studying/gambling a certain "field of tomorrow" and assume NASA will incorperate it towards their manned mission to moon and mars? </p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The astronaunts and such that now work on the ISS will retire or settle for stations in command but then those fields seem to be coming to a close.&nbsp; What is the future of NASA? How will they compensate?&nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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qso1

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<p>Best bet as I see it is get your general degree before majoring in a specific field and by the time you complete your required courses, you will probably have a better idea what field to enter. An example might be to purrsue an aerospace engineering degree then when you have a better idea of whats out there NASA jobwise, start deciding what field you want to work in and go for that. </p><p>As for how NASA would compensate, too early to be able to tell for certain.&nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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l3p3r

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<p>Hi RonMaverick,</p><p>I am 21 and about to finish my mechatronic engineering degree, to go into masters in aerospace.&nbsp;</p><p>Destination: The private space industry.&nbsp;</p><p>In our working lifetime I am convinced we'll be seeing massive progress in space flight - privately funded and privately operated. Because when you're a private operator, efficiency is the key, every dollar counts, and it must be in some way self sustaining. All the things that NASA and other public agencies, unfortunate though it may be, are not. A possible exception to this in the future will be China; I would gladly get involved there if the opportunity arose! But my ambitions are centered on having more control over what I do.</p><p>Also, I know exactly what you mean; it's a depressing fact but there are VERY few people in our generation who can see past the born-> get job-> get family-> retire early-> die model of life to the incredible challenges and opportunities for discovery that lie in space. In a sense, it is also very encouraging, because there will be less people to get in our way :)&nbsp; </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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EJ

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<p>I was tasked with an assignment to find a website that brings together entertainment and education aimed at overcoming an overt behaviour.&nbsp; It was fortuitous that I landed in this forum that encircles this very topic.&nbsp; Albeit a geologist and environmental scientist by training, I have always had an ardent interest in space education.&nbsp; As a lay-person when it comes to astronomy and without even doing much research, it had become apparent to me over the last couple decades that the interest among this generation,&nbsp;in things extraterrestrial had been falling at a precipitous pace.&nbsp;While NASA's budget and staff declines, China, India and Europe ramps up their space programs.&nbsp; We were the first to the moon, we cannot afford to be surpassed.</p><p>So how can this decline be reversed?&nbsp; I believe we should have a multi-pronged approach.&nbsp;starting first with law makers and their constituents.&nbsp; Bringing the element of profitability to any endeavor seems to exponentially magnify the interest.&nbsp; Of course the common man would rather universal healthcare, lower college tuition, and other social services instead of investing tax dollars in space programs.&nbsp; I believe there&nbsp;are limitless possibilities in terms of the profitability of space, let's just consider the private space program, space tourism, the many satellites that now orbit earth, beaming&nbsp;TV into our homes, navigating our cars by global positioning.&nbsp; By demonstrating to Americans the economic potential for private space industry I strongly believe they would support government creating and providing the seed capital necessary for these potentially very profitable endeavors to flourish.</p><p>Our intellectual base has shown how innovative and prolific we can be when it comes to computer and communications technology. We need to channel that creative energy through government and privately funded incentives, such as the recent "$10 million prize" for the repeated sub-orbital flight.&nbsp; As we develop these envisioned space industries and increase the demand side of the economics equation our youth will see the promise of the future and opportunities in studying astronomy and aerospace engineering and science.&nbsp; But we don't want to grow our demand to the point that it outstrips our ability to supply the necessary trained expertise; no point in building an industry that will have to be staffed by expatriates.&nbsp; Let's start to implement meaningful astronomy and space program awareness&nbsp;clasess in the core curriculum from the primary school level.&nbsp;&nbsp; Let's have a Space.com period during IT classes in the computer labs.&nbsp; </p><p>There are endless amounts of ways we can enhance space education through academic and entertainment mediums like Space.com.&nbsp; We have seen a lot of innovation and industry develop around our attempts to move away from our dependence on fossil fuels.&nbsp;&nbsp;Accordingly, can we pioneer innovations&nbsp;that vastly expands our private space industry.&nbsp; </p><p>Your feedback and participation in this discussion would be greatly appreciated.&nbsp; Let's be the people that make it happen.</p>
 
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Swampcat

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>I was tasked with an assignment to find a website that brings together entertainment and education aimed at overcoming an overt behaviour.&nbsp; It was fortuitous that I landed in this forum that encircles this very topic.&nbsp; Albeit a geologist and environmental scientist by training, I have always had an ardent interest in space education.&nbsp; Blah-blah, blah-blah-blah...Posted by EJ</DIV><br /><br />Hi EJ, and welcome to SDC. I just hope all your posts aren't going to be this long <img src="http://sitelife.space.com/ver1.0/content/scripts/tinymce/plugins/emotions/images/smiley-tongue-out.gif" border="0" alt="Tongue out" title="Tongue out" />&nbsp;.</p><p>I'm not sure what this has to do with this thread. You might consider starting a new thread to discuss your ideas.</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="3" color="#ff9900"><p><font size="1" color="#993300"><strong><em>------------------------------------------------------------------- </em></strong></font></p><p><font size="1" color="#993300"><strong><em>"I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government."</em></strong></font></p><p><font size="1" color="#993300"><strong>Thomas Jefferson</strong></font></p></font> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Hi EJ, and welcome to SDC. I just hope all your posts aren't going to be this long &nbsp;.I'm not sure what this has to do with this thread. You might consider starting a new thread to discuss your ideas. <br />Posted by Swampcat</DIV></p><p>Welcome EJ.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>It's kind of on topic, yes, it was a long post, but it was readable.</p><p>I think a lot of thought went into&nbsp;it.</p><p>A agree with many of his points, still have to read it again to digest it all.</p><p>That's kind of the long post&nbsp;concern you were speaking of, but a well written, coherent long post ain't necessarily a bad thing....</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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RonMaverick

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<p>That was a nice post, but I was trying to stay away from the political stuff.. that can take you all kinds of places like religion and that is never good on a Space forum :p.&nbsp; </p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Anyways I did some more research.&nbsp; I found more about Spaceport America.&nbsp; In such a fragile start of such a program is it safe to assume they would not consider a kid out of college over a guy that's spent 43 years at NASA?&nbsp; I can't find a single company starting off like that, that are willing to hire such young people.&nbsp; You said you are attending one could you please list the organization?&nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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ariesr

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<p>While NASA's budget and staff declines, China, India and Europe ramps up their space programs.&nbsp; We were the first to the moon, we cannot afford to be surpassed.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>I would say that being surpassed is inevitable. But as missions become more ambitious, the collaboration may become even more intimate, as opposed to a race.</p>
 
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l3p3r

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we seem to only become an efficient species when it's a <em>race</em> :) <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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KosmicHero

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<p>&nbsp;</p><p>This is a great thread.&nbsp; Wanting to be part of the space community is an ambitious goal.&nbsp; I am an aerospace engineer who recently graduated from ASU and I'm currently working for a space and defense contractor.</p><p>First of all, there are tons of reasons that the US has fallen behind in science and technology and young people aren't that excited about space.&nbsp; Politics is a necessary evil here and cannot be avoided.&nbsp; Aerospace is probably the most 'political' of all engineering fields. &nbsp;</p><p>A few comments about finding work: if you want to be an engineer you will need to get a bachelors degree in engineering (aerospace, mechanical, electrical are good places to start) and you'll probably have to get a masters.&nbsp; If you want to be a scientist (geology, bio/chem, astrophysic, astronomy, etc.) you'll have to get a PhD and it will be very competitive and you probably won't work with a lot of hardware. &nbsp;</p><p>There are lots of opportunities to get 'cross training' in these fields even if you're an engineer.&nbsp; For instance, I'm an aerospace engineer (working and going to grad school) but I'm also 'cross-training' in technology from bio, mechatronics, astronomy, etc.&nbsp; Also, I'm working on several enhancing skills that they will want in future astronauts such as 'Wilderness First Aid', SCUBA, etc.&nbsp;&nbsp; There are lots of opportunities.</p><p>As for your peers and their lack of enthusiasm they are going to be left behind and I guess we're lucky right now that the labor market isn't flooded with people so its relatively easy to find jobs right now.&nbsp; I think the reason is because the general public doesn't find space sexy anymore.&nbsp; They think of engineers as geeks instead of supermen.&nbsp; We need to make space sexy again.&nbsp; The only way for that to happen is to market it.&nbsp; We need to lose our risk averse attitude and start taking some chances (not unnecessary ones).&nbsp; When the shuttle launched a few months ago and the computers all crashed and Griffin said "nothing to worry about, the astronauts are perfectly safe" not only was he lying (space is NEVER space) he was hurting NASA.&nbsp; If space is safe and we've done this already... why aren't we doing something new?&nbsp; I thought we were exploring, isn't there risk in that?</p><p>&nbsp;Okay, I'm getting off the soap box.&nbsp; Excuse the lengthy message. </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> kosmichero.wordpress.com </div>
 
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EJ

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>That was a nice post, but I was trying to stay away from the political stuff.. that can take you all kinds of places like religion and that is never good on a Space forum :p.&nbsp; &nbsp;Anyways I did some more research.&nbsp; I found more about Spaceport America.&nbsp; In such a fragile start of such a program is it safe to assume they would not consider a kid out of college over a guy that's spent 43 years at NASA?&nbsp; I can't find a single company starting off like that, that are willing to hire such young people.&nbsp; You said you are attending one could you please list the organization?&nbsp; <br />Posted by RonMaverick</DIV><br /><br />Unfortunately Space Exploration and NASA funding cannot be extricated from politics.&nbsp; We need to mold the political landscape, and public and private industry in the ways I ruminated about in my prior posting or at least start a conversation that leads us to achieving our objectives.&nbsp;</p><p>Regarding your disbelief that you could get employment at start-ups like Spaceport America, I don't believe any company private or public can only rely on 43 year old veterans.&nbsp; Innovative companies are always looking for fresh talent that brings enthusiasm to their endeavors.&nbsp; If you have the necessary training, be optimistic and confident.&nbsp; Always approach a company with the mindset that you have something that they want, tailor your pitch around what you can bring to their organization.&nbsp; I hope my words provide some encouragement.</p><p>Regarding your last sentence, my organization is not related to the Space industry.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>
 
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EJ

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>&nbsp; I think the reason is because the general public doesn't find space sexy anymore.&nbsp; They think of engineers as geeks instead of supermen.&nbsp; We need to make space sexy again.&nbsp; The only way for that to happen is to market it.&nbsp; We need to lose our risk averse attitude and start taking some chances (not unnecessary ones).&nbsp; When the shuttle launched a few months ago and the computers all crashed and Griffin said "nothing to worry about, the astronauts are perfectly safe" not only was he lying (space is NEVER space) he was hurting NASA.&nbsp; If space is safe and we've done this already... why aren't we doing something new?&nbsp; I thought we were exploring, isn't there risk in that?&nbsp;Okay, I'm getting off the soap box.&nbsp; Excuse the lengthy message. <br />Posted by KosmicHero</DIV></p><p>Well said...to promote and market anything we have to demonstrate profitability.&nbsp; I firmly believe, although not having the exact blueprint, that the space industry can become extremely profitable.&nbsp; We have lost most of our traditional manufacturing jobs and they will not be coming back.&nbsp; We have to think out of the box and&nbsp;move to grand ambitious projects to reclaim our superpower and economic status.&nbsp; "We need to&nbsp;make space sexy again" is hitting the nail on the head.&nbsp; We have to include space education in our curriculum.&nbsp;&nbsp;We need to rally the techno companies, similar to the way Google has embraced space&nbsp;with their&nbsp;recent endeavor (GoogleUniverse?).&nbsp; How about Apple having a Space.com link on iphones for example, just like there is a YouTube link...just some ideas.<br /></p>
 
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DrRocket

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<p>A government prize of $10 million is really kid stuff in the industry.&nbsp; That level of money doesn't justify, not nearly, the R&D expenses needed to design and develop a space vehicle.&nbsp; And in the end all it does is foster shoe-string stunts.&nbsp; In point of fact there are too many space launch systems in existence now to serve the limited market.&nbsp; Yes, they are expensive, but they are expensive for a reason.&nbsp; The reason is that two things are demanded of launch systems.&nbsp; First they must be extremely high in performance in&nbsp;order to put a payload into orbit or beyond.&nbsp; That means very high thrust with very efficient propellant (high Isp for you rocket scientists) and minimal inert weight.&nbsp; Secondly, they must be very, very reliable because of the extremely high value of the payload -- human or otherwise.&nbsp; The combinatin of those two factors requires extensive and expensive analysis and testing.&nbsp; Attempts by shoe-string operations to short-cut the process have resulted in notable failures.&nbsp; We simply are not yet smart enough to make and operate space launchers cheaply yet.&nbsp; I doubt conventional approaches will succeed improving things much.</p><p>What is really needed is a good sound economic reason for going to&nbsp; space.&nbsp; If the payoff is sufficiently attractive money will be available to cover the high costs.&nbsp; So, if you really want to see a robust space industry in the near term, focus your attention on finding a good commercial reason for going to space and not on finding a cheap taxi cab to get you there.&nbsp; What we lack at the moment is that reason.</p><p>I wish I could give you such a reason.&nbsp; I cannot, but I can tell you what it might look like.&nbsp; First, it must be light in weight.&nbsp; For instance information is weightless and perhaps information gained in space might be sufficiently valuable.&nbsp; That is why communication satellites exist.&nbsp; They produce high revenue and don't weigh much.&nbsp; Unfortunately that market is saturated and well-served with existing launch systems.&nbsp; The same attributes and comments apply to earth surveillance satellites (including military intelligence satellites).&nbsp; If you could find a manufacturing process for some lightweight commodity -- maybe very sophisticated integrated circuits -- that could only be performed in the zero-g environment of a space station that might be a winner.&nbsp; Perfect steel ball bearings might sound good, but they are too heavy and not valuable enough.&nbsp; If you could find a cancer vaccine that could only be made in a weightless environment that would be a winner.</p><p>&nbsp;Or, for the far&nbsp;longer term, we can go back to the cheap taxi and if you could find a technology that could launch heavy payloads (say 40,000 lb or greater) into low earth orbit at low cost (current costs are generally in excess of $3000/lb) that would be a winner.&nbsp;&nbsp; But the cost has to&nbsp;be low enough to make doing mundane things in space (like ball bearings or mining asteroids) economically attractive.&nbsp;I am pretty confident that a big cost reduction (at least a couple orders of magnitude) will require something other that chemical propulsion and traditional rockets.&nbsp; Lots of wild ideas have been proposed, but nothing practical is on the horizon -- yet.&nbsp; Maybe something nuclear.&nbsp; Maybe something electric.&nbsp; Maybe something else.&nbsp;(Just for your information we do have some pretty exotic and exotic propulsion systems -- like ion propulsion and arc jets -- but they are not useable for lift from the Earth's surface).</p><p>&nbsp;If you want to attack problems like this, get a good education -- engineering , physics or chemistry.&nbsp; Then have at it.&nbsp; What it takes is interest and drive on your part.&nbsp; </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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neuvik

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<p>It is unfortunate that the public is really turning their backs on the space program.&nbsp;&nbsp; Unless its a mishap or an explosion you almost never read about it in the papers.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I go to NASAs site for the video feeds since you can't find them anywhere, its a shame too.&nbsp;</p><p>NASA will definatly be set on the back burner politically since our energy problems are just running rampant.&nbsp; With budget cuts that leaves less incentives for engineers to debate joining NASA. &nbsp;&nbsp; And private space industry is still realativly undeveloped. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Honestly theres just too much happening in the world today for ordinary people to show interest in space exploration and space industry. &nbsp;&nbsp; With the shakey stock and bond markets of late;&nbsp; there is no way investors would consider the risk of industries with space explotation as their focus. &nbsp;&nbsp; Rising fuel and energy costs, war, and just apathy are really adversly affecting peoples will to show support for endevours which take time and money.</p><p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp; A while back Space.com had a interesting article on the militaries look into a orbital solar array. &nbsp;&nbsp; That is something we need. &nbsp; It will probably never be mentioned officialy again, but I know we have the technology to make it work. &nbsp; It even is realitly cheap compared to the ISS,&nbsp; and will pay itself off in less time if it was used for terrestrial power generation. &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;&nbsp; What we really need is a platform or lunar base for the detection and tracking of objects&nbsp; that could potentially hit Earth. &nbsp;&nbsp; I know there is a variety of radio telescopes and other machinery that already do this in a sense. &nbsp;&nbsp; But a lunar or orbital base has a better can radius, can operate near 24/7. &nbsp; &nbsp; But thats probably to Sci-Fi for most.</p><p>&nbsp;&nbsp; For now there are just to many problems on Earth, even though they can potentionally be solved by looking upwards, everyone is too busy staring at the ground hopeing someone else will find the answers for them<br /> </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><strong><font color="#ff0000">I don't think I'm alone when I say, "I hope more planets fall under the ruthless domination of Earth!"</font></strong></p><p><font color="#0000ff">SDC Boards: Power by PLuck - Ph**king Luck</font></p> </div>
 
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