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The race into space - Is the U.S. in it?
Washington Times ^ | May 29, 2003 | Robert S. Walker

Posted on 05/29/2003 3:07:05 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife

Edited on 07/12/2004 4:03:25 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

Are the Chinese serious about human space flight? Most definitely. And they are interested in doing more than simply going to low Earth orbit. They are headed for the moon.

For most of last year, the Commission on the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry looked at our nation's position relative to our global competition. Clearly, the Europeans are determined to challenge our preeminence in commercial aviation, and the challenge to our leadership in space is coming from the Pacific Rim.


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


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: china; nasa; nationalsecurity; space; spaceexploration
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November 2001 - China Announces 2005 Space Plans --Say space arms race has begun
1 posted on 05/29/2003 3:07:05 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
NASA became to big and bureaucratic. The more administrators you get involved, the slower a program proceeds , and the more chance of a failure. We need to scale down the size of the entity, and zero in on one project at a time . In that type of setup projects will be completed .
We fumbled the ball by not staying with the new payload design system initiated soon after the first shuttle launch. They should have foreseen the limits of the present STS craft due to the material stresses put on the spacecraft.( or did they, and wanted this to happen for some predetermined reason ??)
2 posted on 05/29/2003 3:13:59 AM PDT by Renegade
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To: Renegade
I think NASA is big enough to handle more than one program. What they need is a strategy and a mission. Searching for life just doesn't cut it. Routine access to space and a lunar base is where you focus your talent. It's a mission to build an infrastructure for space access, and where we'll learn to live in outerspace. The defense implications are obvious.
3 posted on 05/29/2003 3:22:39 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
It should be not too difficult to damage the heat shield so that these moon-travellers cannot return. /black humour off
4 posted on 05/29/2003 3:26:06 AM PDT by Michael81Dus ("Wer will, was er muss, ist frei" (Schiller) ("Who wants, what he has to do, is free!"))
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To: Cincinatus' Wife; brityank; XBob; bonesmccoy
Let's not forget the tourist industry.
5 posted on 05/29/2003 3:26:44 AM PDT by snopercod
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
"Scientists have acknowledged the usefulness of H3 in helping achieve nuclear fusion success. The moon appears to be a large source of naturally occurring H3, a commodity that would be of such value that the transport back to Earth would be economically feasible."

ARRRGGHHH!!!! Journalists "never" get it right. It ain't H3 (tritium)--tritium is easy to make by bombarding other light elements with neutrons. The isotope in question is He3, the rare light isotope of helium (normally He4).

The sun pumps out a lot of He3 in the solar wind--which impacts and is trapped on the lunar surface.

To quote from (http://exn.ca/apollo/Future/):

"Unlike the Earth, which is insulated by its atmosphere, the Moon is continuously buffeted by solar winds. These carry substances into the lunar soil that wouldn’t be found on Earth. One of the most important of these is Helium 3, a helium isotope which is very rare on Earth. Helium 3 (or He3) has been proven in limited experimental conditions to work in fusion reactions, and is a promising fuel for fusion power generation because, in contrast with other fusion fuels, it isn’t radioactive itself, and when it is fused, releases no radioactivity."

6 posted on 05/29/2003 3:47:01 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel)
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To: Wonder Warthog
Using solar power seems easier.
7 posted on 05/29/2003 3:52:31 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: snopercod
Space tourism. So many things are just waiting........and waiting......and waiting.
8 posted on 05/29/2003 3:53:31 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
"the fact remains that the Chinese are devoting resources and gearing up to do something that we are no longer technologically capable of achieving in the immediate future."

I like Bob Walker but this is a disingenous statement. We can establish a lunar campsite within five years, technologically speaking. Mr Walker knows this. What we lack is the political will and commitment to do it.

You are absolutely dead on in your allegation that we need a framework in which to move forward. This lack, more than anything, has contributed to NASA's aimless drifting for three decades.

9 posted on 05/29/2003 3:59:16 AM PDT by Movemout
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To: Movemout
I believe he means, most Americans believe we could go to the Moon tomorrow if NASA was given the green light.
10 posted on 05/29/2003 4:03:59 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Movemout
What we lack is the political will and commitment to do it.

What will it take? A few of our comsats "disappearing?"

11 posted on 05/29/2003 4:05:17 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Wonder Warthog
The sun pumps out a lot of He3 in the solar wind--which impacts and is trapped on the lunar surface.

True enough, except that not much 3He is present in the lunar soil -- the highest concentrations are on the order of one part per billion.

12 posted on 05/29/2003 4:06:47 AM PDT by Cincinatus (Omnia relinquit servare Republicam)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
No, I don't believe that at all. I have participated in briefings to Mr Walker when he was still in the House. He is an afficianado of efforts to explore and commercialize space. He is also pretty clever. He made that statement to prick our competitive spirit. Remember that Sputnik roused our sense of competition with the USSR. JFK could have cared less about putting people in orbit until the Soviets blindsided us with the Sputnik launch. In a grand gesture of one-upmanship, he decalred that we would be on the moon within the decade. The prospect of the Chinese establishing a lunar base before the USA might just be the catalyst we need to reinvigorate our space exploration program (non-existant as of now).
13 posted on 05/29/2003 4:10:07 AM PDT by Movemout
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
So why are the Chinese using Russian space technology? Just because the Russians could launch a manned rocket every other week if they wanted to? Some of their technology is so OLD it has been used without major incident for YEARS. I bet the Russians can't afford to throw money at problems the way we can! We have five modern space shuttles... we have four modern space shuttles... okay, we have three modern space shuttles...

All sarcasm aside, that might be a good way to quickly start a space program -- a combination of proven Russian rockets with the latest Chinese electronics. Maybe in forty years we will finally have an economical and safe space plane that will make all of that obsolete, but until then...

14 posted on 05/29/2003 4:16:21 AM PDT by Wilhelm Tell (Lurking since 1997!)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
"What will it take? A few of our comsats "disappearing?" "

Comsats are the least of our worries. If DoD space based assets were at risk from the Chicoms because they held the high ground, then that would be news of the first order. I hate to root for China but in this case I will make an exception.

As for the He3 situation. Former astronaut, former Senator, Harrison Schmidt has been on a long campaign to go after He3. I don't think he has made an adequate business case to support his position. It is conceivable that we could build enough earth-lunar infrastructure over years to make it an ecomically viable proposition.

15 posted on 05/29/2003 4:16:55 AM PDT by Movemout
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To: Cincinatus
"True enough, except that not much 3He is present in the lunar soil -- the highest concentrations are on the order of one part per billion."

Ah, but since fusion energy doesn't require a whole lot of mass, and the He3 is not strongly bound to the lunar soil, even a ppb level is economically feasible.

16 posted on 05/29/2003 4:17:58 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel)
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To: Movemout
I agree but I believe his statement about our technology and returning to the Moon is as I stated. I have no doubt we need a kick in the pants (communists in space) to get off the dime.
17 posted on 05/29/2003 4:18:28 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: snopercod; Cincinatus' Wife; XBob; bonesmccoy
Let's not forget the tourist industry.

NASA has already [TWICE] thrown that baby out; indeed they had such a snit they forbad the tourist access to 'thier side' of the space station.

Even if we started today, I doubt we could have a functioning base on the Moon in ten years -- but damnit, we should try.

18 posted on 05/29/2003 4:18:36 AM PDT by brityank (The more I learn about the Constitution, the more I realise this Government is UNconstitutional.)
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To: Wilhelm Tell
Your tongue in cheek is eye-opening.
19 posted on 05/29/2003 4:20:02 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Wonder Warthog
and the He3 is not strongly bound to the lunar soil, even a ppb level is economically feasible.

That's highly debatable, but suppose for a moment I grant you that. What are you going to do with the 3He you harvest?

20 posted on 05/29/2003 4:27:12 AM PDT by Cincinatus (Omnia relinquit servare Republicam)
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To: brityank
Even if we started today, I doubt we could have a functioning base on the Moon in ten years -- but damnit, we should try.

We can have a lunar campsite in five years. We can have a permanent outpost within ten years with a nuclear power source buried in lunar soil. With a nuke propulsion system we could be on Mars within twelve years. These are not my opinions. These are the conclusions of three major aerospace contractors twelve years ago. The estimated costs ranged from about $100B-$120B (1991 dollars) up to and including the first Mars mission.

21 posted on 05/29/2003 4:29:21 AM PDT by Movemout
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To: Movemout
Heck; we can't even get a net new nuclear power plant sited in this country -- you think that we could 'contaminate' the Moon with one, let alone fly it through the skies to get one up there?
22 posted on 05/29/2003 4:42:46 AM PDT by brityank (The more I learn about the Constitution, the more I realise this Government is UNconstitutional.)
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To: Cincinatus
"That's highly debatable, but suppose for a moment I grant you that. What are you going to do with the 3He you harvest?"

Uh, you did catch the part about fuel for fusion reactors?? Fusion between He3 and H1 (protons) to yield He4 is one of the "easier" ones to initiate, with the benefit that the product of the reaction isn't itself radioactive.

23 posted on 05/29/2003 4:44:05 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel)
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To: Wonder Warthog
Fusion between He3 and H1 (protons) to yield He4 is one of the "easier" ones to initiate

Nope. Deuterium-3He fusion is an order of magnitude more difficult to initiate than deuterium-tritium fusion; it requires much higher confining pressures and temperatures. And we haven't even reached break even (power in = power out) on D-T fusion yet! This is the part that Schmitt always leaves out of his spiel.

24 posted on 05/29/2003 4:50:59 AM PDT by Cincinatus (Omnia relinquit servare Republicam)
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To: brityank
"Heck; we can't even get a net new nuclear power plant sited in this country -- you think that we could 'contaminate' the Moon with one, let alone fly it through the skies to get one up there? "

Funny you should mention that. About the time we asked Baechtel to tell us what kind of heavy machinery could be modified to operate in a lunar environment, we started getting letters from various enviro-weenies alleging that we would pollute the moon with our efforts to explore the solar system. I'm still not sure how you can pollute a lifeless landscape but they seemed earnest.

25 posted on 05/29/2003 4:51:05 AM PDT by Movemout
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Does anyone know what is the military/strategic value of a moon base? Can things be done from the moon that can't be done from Earth orbit?
26 posted on 05/29/2003 5:18:47 AM PDT by doc30
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To: doc30
It's strategic value is primarily as a logistics depot. We now know that water ice exists at the poles of the Moon (in considerable quantity). We can use that water to manufacture rocket propellant in space. Getting propellant off the Moon is six times easier than launching it from Earth. The propellant can be used to fuel various spacecraft for a variety of missions of strategic value.

Although the water is priority one, the Moon also contains abundant metals (for building large structures in space) and the plain soil has value as bulk mass for things like shielding from radiation. Also, energy can be collected on the Moon for solar electric arrays made on the lunar surface and beamed (by laser or microwave) to a variety of locations in Earth-Moon space.

27 posted on 05/29/2003 5:32:10 AM PDT by Cincinatus (Omnia relinquit servare Republicam)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Dear China:

Please go into space. Please go to the moon.

Please try to knock out some of our communications satellites.

(steely) (born too late to participate in our first space race)

28 posted on 05/29/2003 5:37:40 AM PDT by Steely Tom
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To: Steely Tom
That's one way. I'm glad Donald Rumsfield has such a great background and concern for this aspect of our national security.
29 posted on 05/29/2003 6:27:22 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: brityank
Even if we started today, I doubt we could have a functioning base on the Moon in ten years -- but damnit, we should try.

I hope everyone interested in putting a U.S. flag up on the moon again writes personal checks and sends them to NASA with a memo what it's for. Personally, I can't afford your pipe dreams, I have some debts here on earth to take care of before shoveling more money into the bureaucracy to feel better about the accomplishments of the tribe.

30 posted on 05/29/2003 6:27:38 AM PDT by Gunslingr3
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To: brityank
re: tourism--NASA has already [TWICE] thrown that baby out; indeed they had such a snit they forbad the tourist access to 'thier side' of the space station. Even if we started today, I doubt we could have a functioning base on the Moon in ten years -- but damnit, we should try.)))

Market has dried up. There has been space tourism for quite a while now, which has done little but give the Russians some pocket money while a few aviation-addled have made some commissions and consultation fees. There just aren't enough millionaires who want to ride, these days. Costs 15M a pop. Although you can fly a mig for a couple ten grand...

The whole focus has been on riding. Why? The probes accomplish much more, bring us much information. The thinking is that the public will not get excited without the rides. That shows a severe lack of imagination. And if NASA does not want to explore, but just wants to be the Master of the Great Ride, I don't want to pay for it. Shut it down, if its mission is no longer science.

31 posted on 05/29/2003 6:33:13 AM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: Mamzelle
The thinking is that the public will not get excited without the rides.

It's also reality. Remember the human repair of Hubble? People couldn't get enough of it. People need to go, people always need to go. Robots can be useful but they won't replace human ingenuity and imagination.

32 posted on 05/29/2003 6:47:53 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus
"Nope. Deuterium-3He fusion is an order of magnitude more difficult to initiate than deuterium-tritium fusion; it requires much higher confining pressures and temperatures."

I stand corrected. I was recalling that there is/was supposed to be some particular advantage to that fuel combination--it may have be that the reaction yields non-radioactive final products.

33 posted on 05/29/2003 7:01:11 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
The hangup about riding gave NASA lots of funding and publicity, but it's not working anymore. Even the rides don't get the attn. Then they blow up, and the program is stuck for months and years in anguished debriefings. A helicopter full of park rangers crashed in Texas, killing all inside, just looking for debris from the Columbia. Waste, waste--

If they used their imaginations, they could find a way to make the probes more exciting to the public, if that's so very essential to continued exploration. And if it is, perhaps we ought to rethink the whole thing. This isn't Hollywood, and I'm sick of the spacemen celebrities.

Besides, given the recent accounts of Columbia, looks to me like very little human ingenuity and imagination were used. Looks to me like they gave up mighty quick.

34 posted on 05/29/2003 7:02:19 AM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: Mamzelle
"The whole focus has been on riding. Why?"

Because people "on site" can do much more in a shorter time than any possible robotic probe. What the US needs to be focussing on right now is an advanced system for reaching LEO (i.e. "Shuttle II") that is less expensive to run and more reliable thatn Shuttle I.

35 posted on 05/29/2003 7:03:45 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel)
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To: brityank
Remember after the loss of the Challenger, Rockwell offered to pay for a replacement Orbiter if they could rent it out?

NASA (of course) refused. They will never release their death-grip on the U.S. manned space program.

36 posted on 05/29/2003 7:05:51 AM PDT by snopercod
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To: Mamzelle
You give humans so little credit and are so ready to dump on the manned program. Good thing you won't be going.
37 posted on 05/29/2003 7:06:36 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Wonder Warthog
Do much more? What do they DO? They maintain the Space Ferry and the Ferry Dock. Mostly they get rewarded for ethnicity, nationality, or contribution to the Clinton White House Corruption Coverup--with a ride, a la John Glenn.

The exciting stuff is not this interminable, dangerous FERRYING.

Go to the Jet Propulsion Lab site, out of Palo Alto, for some real eye candy! And, thankfully, not a wannabe, egotistical jockey in sight, just engineers and physicists and the cool stuff they're building.

Cut out the seats and the life-support supplies, and see what we could send. Why send a probe to Mars, just a probe?

Why not send an ARMADA of probes to Mars, en masse, to disperse and return data? Such a lack of inspiration...

38 posted on 05/29/2003 7:10:12 AM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: Wonder Warthog
Do much more? What do they DO? They maintain the Space Ferry and the Ferry Dock. Mostly they get rewarded for ethnicity, nationality, or contribution to the Clinton White House Corruption Coverup--with a ride, a la John Glenn.

The exciting stuff is not this interminable, dangerous FERRYING.

Go to the Jet Propulsion Lab site, out of Palo Alto, for some real eye candy! And, thankfully, not a wannabe, egotistical jockey in sight, just engineers and physicists and the cool stuff they're building.

Cut out the seats and the life-support supplies, and see what we could send. Why send a probe to Mars, just a probe?

Why not send an ARMADA of probes to Mars, en masse, to disperse and return data? Such a lack of inspiration...

39 posted on 05/29/2003 7:10:14 AM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
The manned program exist for the men, and the vicarious aviators. It is wasteful. Given the advances in robotics just in the last ten years, if all focus was turned to taking advantage of those advances--what we could find out, where we all could go, electronically.

Instead, resources will go to trying to maintain that lucky celebrity who gets to ride.

All evidence points to the inability of humans to live long-term in space, anyway, no matter how many zillions we spend to manage that fact.

40 posted on 05/29/2003 7:13:47 AM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
First, a nation with the technological capacity to do a sustained moon program would have achieved an ability to build, integrate and utilize spacecraft.

The "human" interest side of space exploraiton is undeniable. But early space pioneers like Werner Von Braun knew that the technology came first and the "monkey" came later.

NASA is the first government organization to successfully implement ISO 9000 quality standards. NASA broadcasts this fact and supporting documents on their quality website. The manpower needed to implement ISO standards is mind boggling for a government entity.

The fixation on bureacracy and bureaucratic procedure needed to successfully implement ISO 9000 quality control standards has pre-empted the NASA mission to put men into space and bring them home again - ALIVE!
( I like to use the term MEN since ts traditional usage is inclusive of women and is not exclusive to one gender)

NASA's primary mission is that of a social experiment - to show how a diversified crew of marginally qualified engineers can do "just as good" as did the older white boys who put American men on the moon.

My point is that NASA is not about space exploration, technology or pioneering efforts, it is about diversity, quality control and bureaucratic political correctness.

A private or military (army, navy, airforce, marines) sponsored/supported enterprise would be head-over-heels more successful than the current bureaucracy.

41 posted on 05/29/2003 7:18:06 AM PDT by Podkayne
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To: Mamzelle
"Do much more? What do they DO? They maintain the Space Ferry and the Ferry Dock. Mostly they get rewarded for ethnicity, nationality, or contribution to the Clinton White House Corruption Coverup--with a ride, a la John Glenn."

Maintain equipment, build new equipment, take data, design and re-design experiments, run experiments, and fix any of a thousand unexpected problems, any one of which would kill a robotic probe dead in its tracks.

Add to that the "little tiny" problem with using robotic probes---TIME LAG--imposed by that un-impressive phsical law called "the speed of light". Robotic probes now (and for the foreseeable future) are not sufficiently autonomous to work completely without human intervention--and the further away from earth they are, the worse the problem gets.

As to "sending and ARMADA of probes"---a combined manned/robotic approach would actually be cheaper--to wit--with a permanent manned presence in LEO, you actually build the probes in and launch them from space.

And no, Virginia, I don't suffer from "a lack of inspiration". I think that's YOUR problem.

42 posted on 05/29/2003 7:18:29 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel)
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To: Gunslingr3
Beats paying taxes for food stamps. Or diversity training. Or abortions.

NASA's budget is less than one half of one percent of the US annual budget. Luddites like you just don't get it.

43 posted on 05/29/2003 7:23:37 AM PDT by buccaneer81 (Plus de fromage, s'il vous plait...)
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To: Wonder Warthog
re: Maintain equipment, build new equipment, take data, design and re-design experiments, run experiments, and fix any of a thousand unexpected problems, any one of which would kill a robotic probe dead in its tracks.)))

The program is dead in its tracks, right now, because a group of human "probes" were killed.

The nice thing about robot probes is that they only cost money. Nobody's heart breaks if they fail and collapse. For what we spend providing rides, we could develop lots and lots of probes, most of which would fail. Then we'd need more and more probes. Every one would be better than the last. Probes don't need to breathe, and they don't have to come home.

And astronauts are not exactly perfect. I seem to recall a camera burnt to a crisp moments upon making a moon landing.

Think of the spinoffs, the technology that would be developed.

And, we'd actually get to see and hear Mars, for ourselves, not vicariously.

44 posted on 05/29/2003 7:23:50 AM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
I hope they get their act together soon or I won't live to see the first human footprint on Mars .
45 posted on 05/29/2003 7:25:59 AM PDT by Renegade
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To: Podkayne
My point is that NASA is not about space exploration, technology or pioneering efforts, it is about diversity, quality control and bureaucratic political correctness.

And that must change.

A private or military (army, navy, airforce, marines) sponsored/supported enterprise would be head-over-heels more successful than the current bureaucracy.

Nothing like competition to spur things along.

46 posted on 05/29/2003 8:22:19 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Renegade
I hope they get their act together soon or I won't live to see the first human footprint on Mars .

Beyond that, if we as a superpower can't finance exploration (which always gives cutting edge technology), as a nation we will falter.

47 posted on 05/29/2003 8:27:12 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: buccaneer81
Beats paying taxes for food stamps. Or diversity training. Or abortions.

I do not support that largesse either.

NASA's budget is less than one half of one percent of the US annual budget. Luddites like you just don't get it.

A Luddite is a person who worked to destroy technological achievements of private enterprise in order to maintain the status quo of employment opportunities. Why do you think government bureaucrats are superior at determining what should be researched than private individuals, spending money they either earned, or were voluntarily entrusted with? You act is if because I'm against the state squandering money on space research, I'm against space research.

"Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all."

"We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain." -Frederic Bastiat

48 posted on 05/29/2003 8:30:26 AM PDT by Gunslingr3
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To: Gunslingr3
Why do you think government bureaucrats are superior at determining what should be researched than private individuals, spending money they either earned, or were voluntarily entrusted with? You act is if because I'm against the state squandering money on space research, I'm against space research

Because for better or worse, they're all we've got right now. As a conservative, I would much rather see private enterprise take the lead. But it's just not happening. The private sector doesn't operate aircraft carriers either, but I'm happy my tax dollars build and operate them.

49 posted on 05/29/2003 8:45:00 AM PDT by buccaneer81 (Plus de fromage, s'il vous plait...)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
The Chineese space rockets are different than all the others on Earth...

When launched they spin and whirl up to space while spraying a shower of sparks.
50 posted on 05/29/2003 8:46:17 AM PDT by Georgia_JimD
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