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Time To Get Serious About Space Again
PJMedia ^ | June 24th, 2012 | Rand Simberg

Posted on 06/27/2012 11:30:04 AM PDT by NonZeroSum

In December of 1968, America won the moon race.

NASA didn’t actually accomplish JFK’s goal of sending a man to the moon and returning him safely to earth until eight months later with the historic Apollo 11 mission, but on that fateful Christmas Eve, when the Apollo 8 astronauts read from Genesis to an awestruck planet, as they circled our nearest neighbor, the Soviets knew that they weren’t going to win, and they not only quit, but also pretended they’d never been racing.

It was a very risky flight, the first one to send an Apollo capsule beyond earth orbit, and the first manned flight of the Saturn V rocket, after an almost-disastrous first flight in which the vehicle had several premature engine shutdowns and almost shook itself to pieces. There was no second unmanned test flight to see if it had been fixed.

Does anyone imagine that NASA could do that flight today? Not just because they don’t have the hardware to do it. Even if they did, the agency, indeed the nation itself, no longer has the courage to do bold things in space.

(Excerpt) Read more at pjmedia.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: nasa; safety; space
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We are utterly irrational when it comes to safety in space.
1 posted on 06/27/2012 11:30:12 AM PDT by NonZeroSum
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To: KevinDavis

Space Ping.


2 posted on 06/27/2012 11:35:48 AM PDT by Army Air Corps (Four Fried Chickens and a Coke)
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To: NonZeroSum

Manned space flight from NASA? It’s a no go because Obama knows it evokes too much patriotic nationalism. He’s busy stomping that out!


3 posted on 06/27/2012 11:44:26 AM PDT by GeorgeWashingtonsGhost
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To: Army Air Corps

The house can do anything it wants as long as Obummer is in power and Harry Reid has the Senate there will be no achieving great things. Everything is stopped by Harry (Mr. No anything the house puts out is DOA in the Senate) Reid. Harry Reid is the real MR. NO. He is a one man party of NO!
Remember also that the Center Directors and the NASA Administrator serve at the pleasure of the President so they function to his, not Congresses, priorities. Obummers priority is to give away our national security to the Russians and the Chinese.

Ravenstar


4 posted on 06/27/2012 11:45:56 AM PDT by Ravenstar (Reinstitute the Constitution as the Ultimate Law of the Land --Cain 2012)
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To: NonZeroSum

“As an example, fast forward to this past fall, when two successive failures of the Russian launch system on which NASA is now dependent to get the astronauts to the International Space Station since last summer’s retirement of the Space Shuttle had the agency contemplating abandoning the ISS, in which the nation has invested almost three decades and around a hundred billion dollars.”

Obama killed the Space Shuttle Program and not only put the USA behind in the Space Race, but made us dependent on the Russians to travel to out Space Station.


5 posted on 06/27/2012 11:49:38 AM PDT by Uncle Slayton
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To: NonZeroSum

Well, if we were to try again it would have to be a Private firm to do it, because gov’t hasn’t the will, or the money to do it. We have a myopic turd in the Oval Office who thinks the only good gov’t accomplishment is making more people dependent upon the government teat. He is as deep as a puppy pee on a sidewalk on a summer’s afternoon. And lastly, after Apollo program finished, all the data and mission tapes were erased and re-used for other gov’t work.

Even if Romney tried it, Congress would not let it thru.


6 posted on 06/27/2012 11:50:05 AM PDT by theDentist (FYBO/FUBO; qwerty ergo typo : i type, therefore i misspelll)
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To: NonZeroSum
The most important war is the one between the US and Obama and the fostering of an entitlement, totally risk adverse, population. We are not going to be bold and lead in human space flight unless a miracle happens in the leadership and culture of the US.
7 posted on 06/27/2012 11:51:22 AM PDT by Truth29
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To: NonZeroSum

But we are going to build trains!


8 posted on 06/27/2012 11:53:25 AM PDT by Species8472 (Stupid is supposed to hurt)
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To: Uncle Slayton
My daughter was born that Christmas Eve. There was a flu eiepidemic and I sat at hone waiting for the Doctor's call. It was 3:00AM and the drew of Apollo 8 had read from Genesis and then signed off. The doctor callled and it was a baby girl!

Then next day I was allowed into the maternity ward. MOM was fine and daughter was great but when I suggested the name Apollonia I had to duck when the badpan came flying at me.

9 posted on 06/27/2012 11:55:16 AM PDT by Young Werther (Julius Caesar said "Quae cum ita sunt. Since these things are so.".)
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To: theDentist

i think a private company could do it using off-the-shelf poarts

The ‘computer’ they used was no more powerful than a digital watch.

Dig up the original blueprints, fix them up wherever you can with modern stuff, and GO!


10 posted on 06/27/2012 11:55:37 AM PDT by Mr. K (I AM WRITING-IN PALIN/GINGRICH)
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To: Uncle Slayton
Obama killed the Space Shuttle Program and not only put the USA behind in the Space Race, but made us dependent on the Russians to travel to out Space Station.

The decision to retire the Shuttle was made in 2004 by the Bush administration. And we have always been dependent on the Russians, because the Shuttle couldn't act as a lifeboat, as the Soyuz does.

11 posted on 06/27/2012 11:58:01 AM PDT by NonZeroSum
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To: theDentist

RE: The tapes.. You are correct, I was a manager in the JSC Tape library back in 1972. On slow night shifts we would listen to the audio tapes from everything from Mercury to Apollo, interesting stuff.


12 posted on 06/27/2012 11:58:55 AM PDT by Robe (Rome did not create a great empire by talking, they did it by killing all those who opposed them)
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To: NonZeroSum

The Space Shuttle Fleet was retired in 2011 long after George W. Bush left office and Obama seized power.

In the Obama years, we have lost the Space Shuttle, NASA is pandering to Muslims, we have not been to Mars or even back to the Moon.


13 posted on 06/27/2012 12:08:30 PM PDT by Uncle Slayton
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To: Uncle Slayton
The Space Shuttle Fleet was retired in 2011 long after George W. Bush left office and Obama seized power.

The program was planned to end in 2010. It was being shut down when Obama took the oath of office, and many of the facilities and manufacturing needed to support it had already ended. He (or rather, NASA) extended the program an additional year to allow completion of the ISS. Not everything is Barack Obama's fault.

14 posted on 06/27/2012 12:12:17 PM PDT by NonZeroSum
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To: Mr. K
I think that Elon Musk's Space-Xcompany would be able to do it well within a decade. This is the company that recently berthed a Dragon spacecraft to the ISS on its second flight. He is also working on Saturn class launchers, one of which. the Falcon Heavy, is due for a test launch in Mid 2013 , and will be boosting a satellite for Intelsat shortly thereafter.
15 posted on 06/27/2012 12:19:31 PM PDT by jmcenanly ("The more corrupt the state, the more laws." Tacitus, Publius Cornelius)
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To: NonZeroSum
I was told that by now we'd be having Howard Johnson's in Earth orbit space stations, not to mention cracka-lackin' Aeroflot space stewardesses.


16 posted on 06/27/2012 12:19:50 PM PDT by The KG9 Kid (Semper Fi)
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To: NonZeroSum

We could’ve gotten a candidate who is interested in space: Newt Gingrich. But everybody laughed at him - and now it seems that the entire world is talking about going back to space and has discovered this wonderful idea.

So instead we got Romney, who doesn’t have an original bone in his body and is just a non-Democrat, non-Muslim version of Obama. Bye-bye, space program.


17 posted on 06/27/2012 12:23:40 PM PDT by livius
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To: NonZeroSum

[ We are utterly irrational when it comes to safety in space. ]

All the ninnies want to make flying in space safer than crossing the street before we do ANY space exploration.....

Even the astronauts themselves admit that even if space travel was 1000X riskier they would do it on a drop of a dime.

Nanny state safety mentality has ruined the government space program, wonder how bad it will hurt the private space program.


18 posted on 06/27/2012 12:41:51 PM PDT by GraceG
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To: Robe

[ RE: The tapes.. You are correct, I was a manager in the JSC Tape library back in 1972. On slow night shifts we would listen to the audio tapes from everything from Mercury to Apollo, interesting stuff. ]

Any interesting UFO-y stuff in those tapes?


19 posted on 06/27/2012 12:42:57 PM PDT by GraceG
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To: livius

[ We could’ve gotten a candidate who is interested in space: Newt Gingrich. But everybody laughed at him - and now it seems that the entire world is talking about going back to space and has discovered this wonderful idea.

So instead we got Romney, who doesn’t have an original bone in his body and is just a non-Democrat, non-Muslim version of Obama. Bye-bye, space program. ]

The best jusification of a space program ever: To escape the Planet of the Liberals or to ship Liberals off planet.

I dare anyone to top that!


20 posted on 06/27/2012 12:45:16 PM PDT by GraceG
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To: theDentist
Even if Romney tried it, Congress would not let it thru.

Nor should they.

A government program is still a government program, no matter how noble or inspiring its motives.

Politicians won't base their decisions on practical or econonic feasibilities. They will base their decisions on vote-buying.

Today's civilian NASA is nothing like the semi-military NASA of the 1960's.

Government has demonstrated over and over again...they can't do nonmilitary things properly.

.

21 posted on 06/27/2012 12:48:31 PM PDT by repentant_pundit (Sammy's your uncle, but he behaves like a spoiled rotten kid.)
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To: GraceG

It isn’t just the space program. NASA has become risk averse.


22 posted on 06/27/2012 12:51:55 PM PDT by shorty_harris
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To: NonZeroSum
If I understand the authors thesis..." Does anyone imagine that NASA could do that flight today? Not just because they don’t have the hardware to do it. Even if they did, the agency, indeed the nation itself, no longer has the courage to do bold things in space."

Response: The author is wrong NASA' has only two functions to provide jobs and to make sure those jobs are filled in a "Diverse" fashion. This means that the ability of NASA to successfully enter space is deteriorating and will continue to deteriorate. The process of deterioration is slow and can only be measured over years-(5 to 10 years).

To put it another way NASA no longer has the ability, the quality management and personnel that it did in the early space programs. We "ain't got no Von Braun no mo!"

As of today NASA can only show off its "Diverse" staff on TV for the emotional satisfaction of the egalitarian minded public.

23 posted on 06/27/2012 12:54:08 PM PDT by AEMILIUS PAULUS (It is a shame that when these people give a riot)
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To: NonZeroSum

NASA was born from an entirely different generation. Today in this generation of Power-Point engineers & scientists coming out of degree-mill universities with low academic standards, you need ask the question: “Can we do it again?”.

With most of the Apollo blue-prints in need of reverse engineering, budget cuts, it is remarkable anything substantial can be accomplished. But it does. There are many competent engineers & scientists up for the opportunities that lay ahead.

Three NASA pillars remain: Up-lookers (extrasolar), Down-lookers (terrestrial) & Education. But NASA is still in a search of a mission statement that will re-vitalize it from it’s previous vision.

Those that think commercialization is the way to go, are guessing that this will be an enabling method. They are partially if not completely incorrect. Corporations can take short term risks, sometimes with billions involved. But unless they can sustain these levels of expenditure, they are doomed to failure.

Commercialization of space can only be accomplished if we can develop a means of going beyond Earth orbit that is significantly cheaper than $20K per pound of payload.

Therefor, if NASA is to progress under a currently dwindling budget, resources & manpower, it is necessary to focus it’s attention more towards “non chemical” propulsion system solutions.

It will be a hard pill to swallow, because of all of the infrastructure already in place. It was proven to Dr. Vonn Braun many years ago that NASA cannot sustain it’s budget indefinitely. Making NASA “Pay for itself” cannot get there if getting beyond Earth’s orbit costs 20K, 10K, or even 1K per pound.

Warp drive is a fantasy. But we need to invest in a practical means of inexpensive propulsion, making space flight cost effective. When an inexpensive means of propulsion is attainable, the private sector will be less at risk and therefor more of an attainable concept.

One of Dr. Von Braun’s memorial quote’s, encapsulates marching orders needed to succeed: “Research is something I do, when I do not know what I’m doing”. Thus we need to invest in research that will enable more of a solution set towards inexpensive space travel, rather than sending balloons to Mars! Easier said than done. NASA’s earlier mantra is in need of further exploration back to it’s Apollo roots: “We do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard...”.

This is my opinion, and not of NASA’s.


24 posted on 06/27/2012 12:55:27 PM PDT by seraphim (NASA Engineer - Will work for food...)
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To: Uncle Slayton
we have lost the Space Shuttle ... we have not been to Mars or even back to the Moon.
So what? What the hell did we the taxpayer get for hundreds of billions of dollars spent during the 30 years of space shuttle mission?
You want to go to Mars - you pay for it. Like the moon, there's nothing there.
25 posted on 06/27/2012 1:02:59 PM PDT by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: NonZeroSum
I disagree. There is little payback, and we can afford to keep the lights on.

Space is a luxury. We have no money.

26 posted on 06/27/2012 1:26:24 PM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: seraphim
Corporations can take short term risks, sometimes with billions involved. But unless they can sustain these levels of expenditure, they are doomed to failure.

Corporations will find ways of making it cheaper and ways of making it pay off. That is a totally different motivation than NASA.

27 posted on 06/27/2012 1:34:45 PM PDT by Dan Cooper
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To: oh8eleven
You want to go to Mars - you pay for it. Like the moon, there's nothing there.

The reason you know so much about the solar system and it's planets is because of those billions spent. Otherwise we would still be thinking there were canals on Mars etc. Someone with imagination will find a reason to go to Mars and make it pay. Maybe they will go beyond and mine the asteroid belt and use Mars and it's moons as a mining base/industrial base. The age of big government space projects with all the attendant politics and waste may be over, but there are plenty of ways to use space resources for the free market.

28 posted on 06/27/2012 1:43:54 PM PDT by Dan Cooper
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To: NonZeroSum

The Shuttle program was crippled back in the 1970s by then-Senators Fritz Mondale and William Promire, who first separated the Shuttle project from the Station project, then killed the totally re-usable design for the Shuttle, and THEN prevented NASA from taking the External Tanks up to orbit and parking them there.

Structures that could handle pressure (i.e. the External Tank) would have been invaluable for building and expanding a permanent space station, and a permanent foothold in orbit. . .


29 posted on 06/27/2012 2:01:21 PM PDT by Salgak (Acme Lasers presents: The Energizer Border. I **DARE** you to cross it. . . .)
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To: redgolum

This is short sighted. The space program technological payback was multifold, and the domino-like propagation of this technology to all parts of our lives is phenomenal. Many of the conveniences we take for granted had their beginnings in products or technologies developed through NASA/DARPA. (Yes - you really need to include DARPA - which is REALLY the US premiere technology research agency).

One simple example: electronics miniaturization was driven by the needs of the space program!

In my mind - we can’t afford NOT to invest in the space program.

As for whether a private company can move forward where NASA has stumbled. SpaceX is proof it can. I believe another poster, a NASA engineer, has to much skin in the government game to have an objective view point. He neglects the fact that there are a few people that are as rich as countries that CAN afford this type of effort. Add that to industry’s efficiency and you have a winner. I DO believe that the current idea of NASA helping with seed money is a good expenditure of my tax dollars!

To compare Commercial versus Government development models - let’s look at the F-35 versus the development of the Predator. The F-35 has suffered multiple overruns - both due to technological issues & congressional meddling. The Predator was developed by General Atomics THEN offered up for sale - they had something the US Government could use, and the rest is history. Note that the few times that GA has tried to work as a Government contractor, i.e modify designs to a government specification - it didn’t go so well! Both points should be used as lessons!

The SpaceX involvement with NASA seems to be producing results too. NASA has put out requirements & paid some money - SpaceX has thrown private capital into the mix, with the result being multiple successful launches. NASA has mostly stayed out of their way, and helped expedite some regulatory issues. SpaceX had done in a few years what up until now only the US, USSR & Chinese Governments have managed to do - and they’ve done it in record time for a fraction of the cost.

QED - commercialization of space is the only real way forward, but we need to continue to push the envelope through NASA, etc as well.


30 posted on 06/27/2012 2:04:05 PM PDT by fremont_steve
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To: GraceG
Well if you mean “did they see object or things they couldn't ID"... yes.
Most turned out to be out-gassing from the Service Module. But there was one flight, I think it was a Gemini, or early Apollo, they saw and filmed an object that looked like a three dimensional Chrysler logo, I don't think they ever found out what it was though
31 posted on 06/27/2012 2:19:27 PM PDT by Robe (Rome did not create a great empire by talking, they did it by killing all those who opposed them)
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To: Mr. K

“Dig up the original blueprints...”

That’s one problem. They’re gone, either lost or destroyed. We couldn’t build a Saturn V today without re-engineering the whole thing.


32 posted on 06/27/2012 2:33:47 PM PDT by Boogieman
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To: NonZeroSum

btt


33 posted on 06/27/2012 2:42:56 PM PDT by markman46 (engage brain before using keyboard!!!)
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To: seraphim
It will be a hard pill to swallow, because of all of the infrastructure already in place. It was proven to Dr. Vonn Braun many years ago that NASA cannot sustain it’s budget indefinitely. Making NASA “Pay for itself” cannot get there if getting beyond Earth’s orbit costs 20K, 10K, or even 1K per pound.

Warp drive is a fantasy. But we need to invest in a practical means of inexpensive propulsion, making space flight cost effective. When an inexpensive means of propulsion is attainable, the private sector will be less at risk and therefor more of an attainable concept.

Launch costs aren't high because we need "an inexpensive means of propulsion." SpaceX vehicles have lox/kerosene gas generator engines. Falcon Heavy, which should fly in a couple years, will be a thousand dollars a pound. Falcon 9, which just flew to ISS, is about $2500.

34 posted on 06/27/2012 2:53:25 PM PDT by NonZeroSum
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To: Boogieman
“Dig up the original blueprints...”

That’s one problem. They’re gone, either lost or destroyed.

That's an urban myth. They're all still available on microfiche.

35 posted on 06/27/2012 2:57:23 PM PDT by NonZeroSum
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To: jmcenanly
I think that Elon Musk's Space-Xcompany would be able to do it well within a decade. This is the company that recently berthed a Dragon spacecraft to the ISS on its second flight. He is also working on Saturn class launchers, one of which. the Falcon Heavy, is due for a test launch in Mid 2013 , and will be boosting a satellite for Intelsat shortly thereafter.

You're right. We are at the beginning of an exciting new era, yet some people are whining about the good old days when the federal government led the way, and space travel was so expensive and inefficient that only a few could go.

Spacex tested a new engine yesterday that is the most efficient booster engine ever built by anyone, the Merlin 1D.

36 posted on 06/27/2012 3:12:22 PM PDT by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
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To: NonZeroSum

Yes, there is a lot on microfiche, but not all the technical details that would be required to build it. There is a lot missing, so there would be quite a bit of re-engineering to be done if we wanted to recreate it.


37 posted on 06/27/2012 3:31:36 PM PDT by Boogieman
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To: Dan Cooper
there are plenty of ways to use space resources for the free market.
Key words - "free market" - I agree 100%.
(BTW - is your middle initial B? :)
38 posted on 06/27/2012 3:56:15 PM PDT by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: Dan Cooper

Dan, your assertion is in need of some clarification. Yes, it is true that corporations may find ways of making things more cost effective. But there are areas of technology that overwhelm these same limited corporations. If you remember (from personal memory or from history), it took many hundreds of corporations working together in order to develop the Apollo project. Only a government with sufficient GDP may be capable of sustaining such a venture. Initial innovations are usually managed by a few (people or corporations); But, the first step towards that goal must be met. An unknown, that ultimately may require tremendous financial resources.

The innovation of such a new propulsion technology may require resources greater than what is available in any one or group of corporations. But once that discovery is developed & understood, the innovation steps necessary to improve and make it more cost-effective may kick in. Depends on what scale is required.

Also remember, it took over 60 years from the Wright Flyer to Apollo. The US Government became an enabler to this initial innovation by applying a need for improving the Mail delivery system. Unfortunately it took several World Wars that also aided in the development of this technology by necessity. Again it took many corporations subsidized by the US Government, making this technology flourish.

Some suppose that cheap space flight will enable us to mine the asteroid belt for precious metals & materials that will justify and allow the technology to progress commercially. No one corporation or corporations could progress towards cooperative standards necessary for such an innovation becoming universally practical. Commercial international pilots use the English language as a means of communication during flights. A standard still used today. Standards must be regulated through a common source E.G. Federal Government. It took cooperation on a massive scale. Someone some thing needed to coordinate those enabling standards. Whom do you suppose that was?

First comes the innovation enabler. A sigma innovation step not yet realized. If the innovation may be exploited in such a manor as to make it cost effective, step-wise improvements may be performed (your assumption with respect to corporations making things cheaper). There is a big If. This kind of breakthrough may not be possible in Steve Job’s garage, or by a Bell Labs graduate student, etc... But as will be the case, someone or some group will discover this new technology. Also remember Edison took several thousand experimental attempts before he invented the simple light bulb.

Virgin took the first steps, but it is only a first step, not unlike the first step developing the Wright Flyer. The Wright Flyer proved the concept, but it took several decades before we had anything commercially useful. And it payed for itself by the innovative steps allowing larger payloads being transported, making it cost effective. Virgin still uses a chemical means of propulsion & is still too expensive making it practical.

Your implication: “That is a totally different motivation than NASA” is not completely on target. Because of increasing budgetary constraints, Can assure you that there is a “make do with what you got” mentality. Successful researchers have found the fine art of scrounging necessary. Every research $ is accounted for in an attempt to make thing cost effective. But you can’t put a price on a new technology until it is realized! Yes, there are NASA projects that are over budget; but, if you knew what the Manhattan Project cost in 2012 $’s, NASA’s budget would represent “chump change”. It all boils down to necessity. And these arguments are and will be discussed by Congress, the Executive branch & ultimately by voters.

NASA’s motivation is focusing some of it’s resources towards that inexpensive propulsion goal. But due to it’s current budgetary limitations and current work-load involvements, such research is limited. A bad economy certainly does not help these efforts.

Lastly, your assumption “Corporations will find ways of making it cheaper...” is slightly flawed in that “it” you have implied with respect to a new propulsion technology, is not yet discovered. Chemical propulsion is too expensive regardless of any step-wise corporate improvement to a chemical based propulsion systems making it cheaper. We will need a propulsion system more robust, durable & cost effective not requiring a limited “one time use in flight” chemical reaction.

If by chance you have that “next step” in propulsion innovation, my hat’s off to you! You will become richer than avaricious can imagine. But you may find that such a technology may require resources only available through a Government’s GDP. So an organization such as NASA may ultimately be an enabling focal point after-all.

This is my opinion, and not of NASA’s.


39 posted on 06/27/2012 4:02:59 PM PDT by seraphim (NASA Engineer - Will work for food...)
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To: NonZeroSum

I love this......Crank it up......

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnoNITE-CLc&list=PL580518584C03377D&index=30&feature=plpp_video


40 posted on 06/27/2012 4:05:50 PM PDT by geege
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To: NonZeroSum

“Launch costs aren’t high because we need “an inexpensive means of propulsion.”” ?

Chemical propulsion is too expensive. The expense is a function of the actual cost of the chemical propellant & infrastructure enabling it’s use. And most of all, what do you do after the chemical reaction is used up?

If we go beyond a “low Earth orbit”, where are the gas stations beyond that? You will need a “Space Station” like vehicle in orbit to send the “extra fuel”. -OR- have a means of producing fuel going beyond Earth orbit.

Ion drive may be used to accelerate, but you may need more power either chemical or other means to overcome gravity of a destination planet & return (if required).

Different set of logistics are required if the mission is simply a mining expedition. In either case, if we can develop a means of propulsion not needing a chemical reaction, that will greatly reduce the cost required for any chemical reaction device for thrust.

The concept being any chemical propulsion system has cost attributed to massive containment & limited use in acceleration time. Not to mention infrastructure necessary to “create” more chemical fuel on route.

SpaceX vehicles are a first step, but keep in mind they are heavily subsidized through NASA. Without U.S. Government intervention, how long do you suppose they would remain in business? Maybe through China, their program is progressing.

No, we need to get away from chemical propulsion systems, if space travel is to be less expensive in monetary costs. But cost has many faces.

This is my opinion, and not that of NASA.


41 posted on 06/27/2012 4:58:04 PM PDT by seraphim (NASA Engineer - Will work for food...)
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To: seraphim

Good info; thanks.

Bump.


42 posted on 06/27/2012 11:07:40 PM PDT by brityank (The more I learn about the Constitution, the more I realise this Government is UNconstitutional !!)
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To: NonZeroSum
The question is, is this an emergency? If the ISS isn’t important, why did we spend so much time and treasure on it?

The ISS was always a waste. We had Skylab 40 years ago. We never needed another low earth orbit space station.

43 posted on 06/27/2012 11:25:14 PM PDT by iowamark
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To: geege

Great stuff. Some people will never have the exploration spirit. Our president is one of them. Some on this thread are the same.


44 posted on 06/28/2012 12:52:25 AM PDT by Monty22002
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To: seraphim
Commercialization of space can only be accomplished if we can develop a means of going beyond Earth orbit that is significantly cheaper than $20K per pound of payload. Therefor, if NASA is to progress under a currently dwindling budget, resources & manpower, it is necessary to focus it’s attention more towards “non chemical” propulsion system solutions.

Got some news for you -- space is already "commercialized." Where do you think DirecTV comes from? Or global telephone calls? We've been making money from space applications since 1962.

The idea that some new magic space transportation system will come along is pure fantasy -- such requires not new engineering, but new physics. Simply because of the magnitude of Earth's gravity and the rocket equation, we're stuck with rockets for the foreseeable future, at least to get from Earth's surface to low Earth orbit. And basically, those cost numbers (dollars per pound to LEO) may come down a factor of two or three or four, but not by an order of magnitude.

Making NASA “Pay for itself” cannot get there if getting beyond Earth’s orbit costs 20K, 10K, or even 1K per pound.

It's getting to Earth orbit that's the problem, not "beyond" it. NASA could be made to "pay for itself" -- it doesn't require financial break-even, only that its returned value is perceived to be higher than the money spent on it. Thus, it should focus on creating value for tax dollar spent, not conducting public relations stunt missions, such as astronauts to asteroids.

45 posted on 06/28/2012 1:41:13 AM PDT by Cincinatus (Omnia relinquit servare Rempublicam)
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To: Moonman62
You're right. We are at the beginning of an exciting new era, yet some people are whining about the good old days when the federal government led the way, and space travel was so expensive and inefficient that only a few could go. Spacex tested a new engine yesterday that is the most efficient booster engine ever built by anyone, the Merlin 1D.

Typical New Space propaganda crockery. Some bozo replicates what is basically a Soviet-era "Progress" mission to the ISS and suddenly he's Zephram Cochrane unveiling the warp drive.

46 posted on 06/28/2012 1:45:24 AM PDT by Cincinatus (Omnia relinquit servare Rempublicam)
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To: Monty22002

That’s because all of a sudden we have some liberal drones on this site....


47 posted on 06/28/2012 5:13:18 AM PDT by geege
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To: Cincinatus

Thank you Cincinatus, for illustrating a very important concept with respect to the phrase: “The problem with thinking outside the box is, you forget what is inside the box”. The news inside, or “focus” if you will, is inside the box with respect to this discussion; in an attempt to meander towards next steps, “Getting Serious” about space.

The corrective purpose of your “news”, has a sent of bitter satire in it. If true, sorry that my short treatise has caused some kind of negative reaction in you. If false, can assure you that current “commercial applications” are understood.

Yes, we have communication, surveillance & to a very limited extent, manufacturing in zero-G commercial applications. We begin the concept of teachable innovation, by the questions we ask, rather those that have been answered. Will leave that concept for your off-line contemplation.

Also, please, be assured magic has absolutely nothing to do with science & engineering. Some would assert, things not understood are “magical”. One ignorant of truth, in and of itself may use that concept as a crutch. There is a better way.

Suppose seeing long boats for the first time, hundreds of years ago, may be thought of as “magical”. Those seeing long boats for the first time, may have used canoes and understood the concept of water travel; so they may have been in awe & possibly able to glean some purpose of long ships. But, had virtually no idea as to the exact technology of actually building one.

Please allow the concept of progress, entering into discussion. You may be surprised of your own growth.

Since the late 60’s, NASA has been wrestling with the concept of “paying for itself” and came to the realization that based on current technology, it had its limitations towards that goal. You could build Earth observing technology that would monitor weather, land characteristics, identify natural resources, etc... But no individual could afford this capability.

Yes, taxing spreads out the cost so that individuals or organizations can exploit valuable information. So maximizing tax resources should be of concern. Attempting this noble effort is “taxed” itself, by those who decide what intermediate goals are necessary. Remember, failures and successes both come at a cost. And much is learned by failure. Understanding our planet was the justification regardless of cost. But we sometimes benefit from success. We all benefit from more accurate weather forecasting, identification of natural resources, and instantaneous communications, etc...

Problems pertaining an evolving progression towards continued commercialization of “space”, goes beyond simple Earth related ingress & egress, off the planet. Like those who saw long boats for the first time, had little idea of global commerce. Those long boat explorers did. We as “spectators” into emerging technological advancements are not unlike those observing long boats for the first time. Propulsion advancements such as “ion drive” are small steps towards chemical propulsion alternatives. And can assure you, this is not magical.

If we limit our horizons with Earth related excursions, we are not unlike those who observed long boats for the first time, just familiar with canoe trips between islands for commerce.

This is my opinion, and not of NASA.


48 posted on 06/28/2012 7:34:40 AM PDT by seraphim (NASA Engineer - Will work for food...)
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To: seraphim
Propulsion advancements such as “ion drive” are small steps towards chemical propulsion alternatives

I don't have the faintest idea what you're talking about. The only "ion drive" I am familiar with is solar electric, which has been around for years -- high Isp with continuous, low thrust. That won't hack it for getting stuff from Earth into low Earth orbit.

49 posted on 06/28/2012 8:08:47 AM PDT by Cincinatus (Omnia relinquit servare Rempublicam)
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To: Boogieman
There is a lot missing, so there would be quite a bit of re-engineering to be done if we wanted to recreate it.

There is no reason to want to recreate it. It was canceled for a reason -- it was horrifically expensive.

50 posted on 06/28/2012 12:28:19 PM PDT by NonZeroSum
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