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Another Media Hoax... or is this happening?

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doxiedog315

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How about we finish the space station,and move it to mars orbit, just as likely to happen :)
 

Justy

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I would dearly love to believe it's true... but I'm also afraid that the only "valid" excuse for the government to back such a return to space is to militarize it... cislunar space makes for some pretty sweet high ground, and I'd rather see it made into a suburb than a fortress.
 

illini

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Here's the latest word from the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A2311-2004Jan9.html

Permanent manned settlement on the moon, then on to Mars. Unfortunately, I think this is DOA for a number of reasons. Not the least of which are cost and purpose.

NASA's current budget is ~$15B. Congress isn't likely to go for an increase of more than $5B, and I don't think that would be enough to pull this off.

Congress and future presidents will sustain an increased NASA budget ONLY if there is a well defined reason to maintain a settlement on the moon. The Space Station boondoggle is proof positive that sending humans to space to study the effects of space on humans is not sufficient reason. Once we've built this outpost and put people there, what will they do? What is the purpose?

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for it, but don't believe it will happen unless these questions are answered. It's starting to look more like a political move (like Apollo) than a scientific one.
 

astronboy

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Yes, I firmly believe that political motives are the only thing that will get us there.

My personal guess is that the only way this will happen.... even the Moon base is: 1) If a 'Space Race' mentality with the Chinese is a political advantage to anyone. or 2) If the US Military feels that the Chinese Moon missions are a potential threat, and therefore we need to be there first, or at least not leave it all to the Chinese. In fact, the whole 'Mission to Mars' concept can be a cover for the real goal of a US Lunar base to counter any Chinese space goals.

I need to go read Heinlein's 'The Cat Who Walks Through Walls' again.....
 

illini

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Okay, I think I understand the plan a little more now. This is the best article I've seen. The new program will be paid for by 5% annual increases in NASA's budget for the next 5 years, which will get them up to around the $20B mark. The Space Shuttle will be retired as soon as ISS construction is completed, giving them an additional $3.5B per year to play with. And NASA will pull out of ISS once the first lunar landings begin early next decade, freeing up even more money. Looks like the money is there as long as they can sustain the $20B budget.

Still lacking a purpose to maintain focus. According to the Washington Post, the Bush administration is thinking of this in terms of a jobs program. That won't be enough to sustain it, in my opinion.
 

Prowler901

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Originally posted by astronboy
Yes, I firmly believe that political motives are the only thing that will get us there.

My personal guess is that the only way this will happen.... even the Moon base is: 1) If a 'Space Race' mentality with the Chinese is a political advantage to anyone. or 2) If the US Military feels that the Chinese Moon missions are a potential threat, and therefore we need to be there first, or at least not leave it all to the Chinese. In fact, the whole 'Mission to Mars' concept can be a cover for the real goal of a US Lunar base to counter any Chinese space goals.

I need to go read Heinlein's 'The Cat Who Walks Through Walls' again.....
I must agree with you on this one Astro. Personally I don't think there'd be a policy change like this if it weren't for the success of the Chinese Space Program, and the fact that it is an election year. But, I'm all for it. Personally, I feel that if we are to survive as a species, we must reach for the stars.

Regards,
Todd
 

illini

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Without question, the political stars aligned on this one. Columbia's failure and China's success ultimately brought this about. The problem is that pretty soon this program will have to justify its existence on its merits, be they political, scientific, or otherwise. Political winds shift quickly (NASA support vanished after Apollo 11). To sustain this will require a firm scientific and technological foundation. What is the benefit? If the only answers are "jobs program" and "beat the Chinese," then this isn't going to last long, and may not even start.
 

illini

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Continuing my previous thought....

I work in a company of nothing but Ph.D. scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. Everyone in my company is laughing about this and asking the same question: "why?" The best I can come up with is that it won't cost much more than the current budget, will eliminate the Shuttle and ISS boondoggles, and will at least be building new technology (rather than sustaining old technology for the sake of studying honeybees in space). Frankly, my answers are inadequate.
 

astronboy

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Hmmm... PHDs, Scientists, etc are asking why have a Moonbase? Why go to Mars? This is a problem in and of itself. :(

Exploration is the reason for mankind's existance.

Is that enough for them?
 

illini

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No.

Just to be clear, I'm in favor of this. I think exploration is a reasonable goal in and of itself. What we've done for the last 30 years is far from that. The scientific mindset is inherently cynical of anything that doesn't have a clear purpose...no room for idealism here. The political mindset is even worse and exhibits tendencies toward undamped oscillations. For this to happen, there must be a clear goal, and it starts by answering this question: once the moon base is established, what will the residents of this base be doing?


Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing -- Wernher von Braun

I do lots and lots of research! -- illini868891
 

astronboy

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I totally agree with you Illini.... Space Exploration is a must. The problem is as always, the cost. Spaceflight MUST take that leap to the private sector for the earth orbit level at least... A Moonbase will cost big bucks though, and someone does need to come up for a reason for it. I do not really care what reason is used, as long as it is done.

My true fear is the Beaurocratic philosophy that has emerged at NASA over the years. Engineers need to have the final say about safety and quality, not politicians. 'Good enough' does not cut it in space. 'Good enough' has cost us two shuttle crews so far.....
 

Justy

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Originally posted by illini868891
And NASA will pull out of ISS once the first lunar landings begin early next decade, freeing up even more money.
Um... hey? Can NASA *do* that? Does this mean the other ISS member nations have to buy Soyuz capsules to get our astronauts up to it? If Canadians become cosmonauts or even taikonauts -- that means giving Russia or China money -- in order to take advantage of the space station that we made an admittedly tiny but important contribution to, will America be okay with that?
 

illini

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I don't think its a complete withdrawal from ISS. Can't remember the words they used in that article, but it implied that NASA would cease to be the primary player there. Don't see any reason why the US should have any problems with Canadians or anyone else flying with the Russians or Chinese. We're currently flying Soyuz, American space tourists are paying $20M to fly Soyuz, and the new plan is for us to continue flying Soyuz until the "Crew Exploration Vehicle" is ready.
 

Chilly

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Oh boy is there a lot to discuss here!
I think backing out of ISS after we've built it is tacitly admitting that it is, in fact, useless. Let our partners have their way with it and make it a truly "international" station, while we spend our money on something more worthwhile. And by the way, let them all keep the Soyuz program finacially viable. Pretty shrewd.

There is an alarming military component to the Chinese space program that should not be underestimated, considering our everyday reliance on orbiting capital. My industry alone (commercial aviation) would be in chaos if they managed to cripple the GPS constellation, for instance. Our military would be even worse off. And make no mistake, the Chinese changed their strategic position on the US several years ago and believe we are a threat to their long-term interests. I want cislunar space to become a suburb too, but somebody's got to protect it!

Finally, exploration is a good thing in and of itself and I believe a proper role for government - as long as they're paving the way for private industry. The "jobs program" comment in the Washington (bleep) Post is garbage, IMHO. They have been notorious for completely missing the point on this all along, and are not above editorializing in a news story. Bush is not a "space guy" but neither was JFK. What he does believe in is getting our money's worth, and if we're going to have a space program then let's stop literally going in circles and DO something. This is the end result from a presidential commission on human spaceflight that was started two years ago. I wouldn't call it either "election-year pandering" or a "jobs program".
 

shockwaveriderz

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before we go anywhere how about we create the transporation system first? like a single step to orbit space plane...? or a space orbital tug type vehicle ( a 2 seater?) like the little shuttle craft in the star trek series.... and a earth to moon shuttle craft like from 2001: A space odyssey? I would rather they concentrate on creating a reliable cheap space propulsion transportation systems....that would also us easy access to orbit, the moon and the entire solar system....the analogy is the push west during the 1800's.... we need trails and reliable transportation to get from point A to point B and C......
 

Chilly

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Yes, but there's an awful lot to do out there and just concentrating on one piece at a time will get us nowhere. There's a lot of room for private enterprise, and they are sure to make their presence known over the next decade. Before we return to the moon I fully expect someone to be offering suborbital rides on a regular basis - and if NASA gets out of the LEO business, then stand back! I think that may be part of Bush's strategery...:D

P.S. For that matter the transportation system needs to be designed for specific purposes, otherwise we're just chasing our tails. Look at the Space Shuttle.
 

illini

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Originally posted by Chilly
The "jobs program" comment in the Washington (bleep) Post is garbage, IMHO.
The "jobs program" comment in Pravda....errr....the Washington Post was made by Bush aides, not Post reporters. So jobs appears to be at least part of the motivation.
 

illini

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Originally posted by shockwaveriderz
before we go anywhere how about we create the transporation system first? like a single step to orbit space plane...? or a space orbital tug type vehicle ( a 2 seater?) like the little shuttle craft in the star trek series.... and a earth to moon shuttle craft like from 2001: A space odyssey? I would rather they concentrate on creating a reliable cheap space propulsion transportation systems....that would also us easy access to orbit, the moon and the entire solar system....the analogy is the push west during the 1800's.... we need trails and reliable transportation to get from point A to point B and C......
I say let the objective establish the technological requirements and not the other way around. To maintain a base on the moon (purpose of which has not yet been established) will require reliable access and a cislunar infrastructure. Note that the Russians have had reliable access for years with nearly prehistoric capsules. If we've learned anything from the Shuttle, it should be that we need to avoid complex concepts and keep things as simple as possible in order to achieve reliable, low cost access.
 

rstaff3

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IMHO. jobs, especially technical ones, would be an important offshoot of any Moon initiative. And one that will occur naturally.

My worries (or at least one of them) are that the approach that is being taken will just doom this to be the next NASA boondoggle. Every legislator will want their share of the jobs which will tend to structure the program for politcal/geographic reasons instead of mission goals.

Plus there is an election coming and this whole progeam will most likely change beffore it starts.

Sorry for the repetition and rambling.
 

shockwaveriderz

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illini868891 sounds good to me...how about we marry a soyuz craft with modern day throtable motor and thruster package, so you can zoom around in orbit? cheap, off the shelf technology....sorta like a volkswagen for space?

but we are going back to the past....the "orbital space plane" is 1960's apollo techology with a 21st century flair added to it..... and use deltas and atlas for the heavy lifting ..............
 

illini

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Not much detail on it yet, but I think the idea of the Crew Exploration Vehicle that is part of this initiative is to build exactly that: a modular crew vehicle that can be adapted to its need, LEO to lunar. Compare and contrast that with the shuttle approach that tried to be all things for all requirements and failed at meeting any of them.
 

gladiator1332

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From what I have heard, the CEV will be a expanded version of the OSP. This spacecraft will mostly take the form of a capsule. Go to www.slinews.com and go to the OSP page to see what the capsule looks like. Boeing also released a design about a month ago and it was on space.com for awhile. I am guessing the Soyuz will be used in the time after the shuttle is retired and the before the OSP/CEV is built. I guess the same goes for using the Ariane V, maybe a more powerful version of the Delta IV Heavy will be ready.

And you can't just abandon the ISS, it is very large and it needs orbit boosts and maintenance. NASA can't just shut off the lights and leave it up there, "what goes up, must come down" and the ISS will fall without orbital boosts, I don't think you want something the size of the ISS crashing down onto a city. The current plan is getting the best of everything. The OSP gets developed, crews go to the ISS and back, probes go to the Moon and the Mars to explore, from the OSP we get the CEV and crews go back and forth to the Moon and we have a base, from the Moon we go to Mars and have a base there, so you are getting Manned Exploration out of LEO, un-manned, and you still have a manned presence in LEO.
 

Chilly

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The same day we hear that these rumors are true, our five-year-old told my wife he wants MicroMaxx rockets for his birthday!

Little does he know there's already a starter set in our closet...:D

I pray that this program is successful and that we follow through with it, so that when my boys are grown they will have the opportunities denied to those of us who were first inspired in the 60s & 70s.
 

illini

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Originally posted by gladiator1332
And you can't just abandon the ISS, it is very large and it needs orbit boosts and maintenance...
I don't believe the intention is complete abandonment, but rather to end NASA's "substantial involvement" with ISS at that time. Keep in mind we're talking about 2013 at the soonest here. It is still the International SS, so I'm presuming all that means is that NASA will no longer maintain a permanent manned presence on ISS at that time. Other nations may choose to sustain it, or we could choose to deorbit. ISS is a political boondoggle, so only the politicians will be shedding a tear when that time comes.
 

rstaff3

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Originally posted by illini868891
I don't believe the intention is complete abandonment, but rather to end NASA's "substantial involvement" with ISS at that time. Keep in mind we're talking about 2013 at the soonest here. It is still the International SS, so I'm presuming all that means is that NASA will no longer maintain a permanent manned presence on ISS at that time. Other nations may choose to sustain it, or we could choose to deorbit. ISS is a political boondoggle, so only the politicians will be shedding a tear when that time comes.
When I saw a panel of space exploration-types briefing Congress, I thought I remembered hearing that the US's use of the ISS could be tailored to support a Mars mission.

Anyway, I find it hard to believe we won't support it at some level if for no other reason to promote the other team-members efforts. It might be harder to encourage participation in future efforts if we abandon the ISS and leave them holding the 'bag'. I haven't read all the recent articles, but it sounded like part of NASA's plan was to use an international team. But then that participation may not be that important. Or maybe the partners will be equally happy to get out of the ISS. Or....
 

KermieD

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Originally posted by illini868891
I say let the objective establish the technological requirements and not the other way around. To maintain a base on the moon (purpose of which has not yet been established) will require reliable access and a cislunar infrastructure. Note that the Russians have had reliable access for years with nearly prehistoric capsules. If we've learned anything from the Shuttle, it should be that we need to avoid complex concepts and keep things as simple as possible in order to achieve reliable, low cost access.
Exactly. I think this is part of why NASA's accomplishments have been diminished lately. It's been about technology for technology's sake and trying to create something for everyone. Technology has always been developed more quickly, more efficiently and more completely when it has been designed for a specific mission or objective. If you throw a goal on the table and say "show me how we can do this", you will get a lot farther than saying "let's build a table to put this stuff on and see what it can hold". Once you've achieved the goal, someone will inevitably shout out "HEY!! Look what else I can do with this!!!"
 

illini

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Washington Post has an article today that fleshes out the CEV a bit more. Apparently the Apollo capsule is the model (not the precise design, but the general capabilities).
 

Chilly

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They were dropping an awful lot of hints about returning to the Apollo CSM concept. The Bushies aren't the types to float a lot of trial balloons unless they really plan to do something with it.

As far as this ISS discussion goes, don't forget that it will be next to useless as a waystation to the moon or Mars. The orbit has a very high inclination. There's been some speculation that NASA may shift it over time to something more accessible. I would certainly hope so.

Can't remember who said it, but the old saw is that being in orbit is "halfway to anywhere". Well, almost - if you have to expend an unreasonable amount of energy to reach it, then maybe it's only a third of the way there...
 

illini

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Yeah, gotta admit the Bushies seem to have done their homework on this one. The objectives seem feasible. The technological approach is sound. The funding approach is reasonable. The schedule is reasonable. Still missing a clear statement of purpose that could doom it, but the overall plan is more sound than any other space initiative I've seen in the last 30 years.
 

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