Skip to comments.The race into space - Is the U.S. in it?
Posted on 05/29/2003 3:07:05 AM PDT by Cincinatus' WifeEdited 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 ...
Once the effect of gunpowder was established, the Chinese used gunpowder to ward off evil spirits. It was only when it was taken back west in the 15th century that its military uses were recognized, and the musket and cannon were made.
You assert there is no private research of space?! Do you also not see that government expenditure in this area also crowds out private research by forcibly directing limited funds, and by consequence committing a portion of the limited pool of scientists, as the bureaucrats see fit? My question remains, why do you think the bureaucrats know better how to allocate resources than individuals spending their own money, or money voluntarily entrusted to them?
The private sector doesn't operate aircraft carriers either, but I'm happy my tax dollars build and operate them.
Red Herring. An aircraft carrier is purchased with tax dollars to provide for the defense of our nation, from which all benefit, and is, as an exercise of power, an expenditure of funds authorized by the Constitution.
As a goal, it is bogus or dufus. 'Our dufus space program,' has a certain ring. Let the Euros search for life, we have real things to do.
I do. They were exciting adventures. They were also miserable expenditures: it would have been better, faster and cheaper simply to build a whole new telescope every time, and to launch it into orbit via unmanned rocket.
The repairs did capture the public imagination, but I'm not sure they did so more than the arresting images from Hubble itself. And then there are the images and data from the planetary probes, which were obtained for a tiny fraction of what the manned space program costs, and whose scientific value far outweighs anything that has ever come out of the manned space program.
Entertainment and inspiration are valid aims for the space program, but even on that score the unmanned program delivers far more for far less expense.
As you mentioned..other gases are R and D for Plasma drive.
Boeing is working on a deep space Ion drive engine...I am not sure what Gas they are commiting to for it.
I used to operate a Cryogenic Nitrogen Plasma table..for big steel underwater cut..oilfield.
Ion stream requires special containment devices and parameters must stay constant in plumbing..deterioration leads to violent Kaboom.
In the little here and there that I have been able to glean from research..the deep space engine design is not really the hold up to manned flight..but shielding.
From crew compartment..to sheilding from various engine applications..this is the next threshold to overcome.
Magnetic field sheilding.....they will get it mastered eventually : )
Hughes' Ion Engine Serving as Primary Propulsion to NASA's Deep Space 1
In 1995, Hughes Electron Dynamics, today known as Boeing Electron Dynamic Devices, Inc., located in Torrance, Calif., was awarded a $9.2 million contract to design and manufacture the NASA Solar Electric Propulsion Technology Application Readiness (NSTAR) 30-centimeter system for validation on the New Millennium Deep Space 1 project. This would be the first time an ion engine would be used as the primary method of propulsion in a deep space mission. The system consists of an ion thruster, power processor, and digital control and interface units.
Deep Space 1 was launched on Oct. 24, 1998 from the Cape Canaveral Air Station, the first mission in NASA's New Millennium Program. The purpose of the New Millennium Program is to test and validate new technologies in a series of deep space and Earth-orbiting missions. This is the first deep space NASA mission to focus on technology, rather than science.
As one of the 12 new technologies being tested on Deep Space 1, the ion engine performs the critical role of spacecraft propulsion. It is the primary method of propulsion for the 8-1/2-foot, 1,000-pound spacecraft, and its use is preparing it for possible inclusion in future NASA space science missions.
Still on its planned 11-month technology validation mission, as of the end of February 1999, the Deep Space 1 spacecraft has traveled more than 28 million miles from Earth.
An ion engine relies on electrically charged atoms, or ions, to generate thrust. Xenon, an inert, noncombustible gas, is electrically charged and the ions are accelerated to a speed of about 62,900 miles per hour (30 kilometers per second). The ions are then emitted as exhaust from the thruster, creating a force, which propels the spacecraft in the opposite direction.
The primary advantage of electric propulsion is efficiency. An ion engine is 10 times more efficient than its alternative, a chemical propulsion system. With xenon, it is possible to reduce propellant mass onboard a spacecraft by up to 90 percent. The advantages of having less onboard propellant include a lighter spacecraft, and, since launch costs are set based on spacecraft weight, reduced launch cost.
Unlike its chemical counterpart, the ion engine produces a gentle thrust, but for a very long duration. The Deep Space 1 spacecraft carried about 81.5 kilograms of xenon propellant, which will provide about 20 months of continuous thrusting, more than enough to propel Deep Space 1 throughout its entire mission. The 30-centimeter ion thruster on Deep Space 1 will eventually change the spacecraft's speed by 4.5 kilometers per second, the equivalent of 10,000 miles per hour.
Hughes and NASA began investigating the use of xenon as a propellant alternative back in the early 1960s. Other materials, such as cesium and mercury, were also investigated, but xenon was preferred because it would generate the greatest thrust and, as an inert gas, would not be hazardous to handle and process.
The NSTAR engine was designed for operation in deep space. Prolonged periods of operation in low levels of sunlight required a unique design for deep space missions. The NSTAR engine is remotely programmable from the ground, enabling ground stations to adjust the thruster's operation as needed. The spacecraft's on-board autonomous software can also adjust the operation of the thruster.
Boeing Electron Dynamic Designs also produces a commercial xenon ion propulsion system, XIPS, for use on Boeing 601HP and Boeing 702 spacecraft in geosynchronous orbit. The first satellite to fly with an onboard XIPS system was PAS-5, which was launched in August 1997.
Boeing Electron Dynamic Designs is a world leader in the design and manufacture of microwave, traveling wavetube amplifiers, and ion thrusters for commercial and military applications.
Deep Space 1 Ion Drive Engine
No problem. You go through your lifestyle, and eject anything that had any help or development from NASA's myriad programs.
Start by shutting down your computer. Then your home appliances; car; office, hospitals, ... the benefits you use every day have some relationship to the science and technology developed and improved by the space community.
Even Luddites have more intelligence than you show.
Ask John Glenn. The political whores are the primary cause of the deterioration of the 'can-do' attitude in NASA's early days.
True. So obviously, we use more than one rocket. The NASA Exploration office has devised an architecture to get people to the Moon using existing launch systems -- it takes three Delta-IV heavy and two Shuttle launches to get cargo and people to the Moon and back, using the Earth-Moon L1 point as a staging area.
I was not aware of that. Pitiful.
Hey; I liked that stuff! ;^)
Maybe the unmanned program needs to hire some PR jerks. When I visit the jpl site, I'm just blown away and excited by all that's going on. Right now, only one probe goes out at a time. What if we sent a *team* of probes, to land on either the moon or Mars, which would then fan out in a grid. Wow. Think of the pics we'd get before they keeled over in a ditch somewhere. Maybe anthropomorphise a robot, a la C3PO.
Somehow, we've got to ditch the celebrity-naut culture or we may as well live for the funerals. The Retired Ones sit on non-profit boards, give speeches, and basicaly obstruct as much as possible to protect their legacies.
So, without government no one would try to make better consumer goods? If the government space program is responsible for all of these fantastic consumer items, why didn't Soviet citizens have them too? Didn't their bureaucrats dictate resource allocation, or are ours just better? You can't imagine how society would get this far without bureaucrats directing resources, I see the Soviet Union and realize how much farther along the U.S. would be without bureaucrats directing resources. I do not share your view that human progress and American prosperity is largely consequence of farsighted decision making by government bureaucracies. If anything, it's in spite of them.
However, you ought to challenge those who use this argument to justify unthoughtful further expenditures whether these benefits will necessarily continue. They'll be hardpressed to be specific. Perhaps all the low cherries have been picked off this tree...
Unmanned space exploration has enormous potential spinoff benefits, because robotics have taken such a dramatic turn in development. From the space program, to medicine and mfging, back to the space program for another likely leapfrog...
Punctuation is for users of English, but I'll let you share.
I don't have the inclination nor time to educate you. If you will do a little homework you will find that Saturns aren't required for these missions. If you don't believe me get a hold of Doug Cook down at Johnson Space Center.
On the face of things -- true. However, the drive from NASA and it's external munufacturers to make things smaller and lighter to fit into the allocated parameters did a great deal to drive the miniaturization and technology that is so well represented in the PC. You think Big Blue would have downsized it's mainframes on their own?
The main drive for Blue in the late 60's / early 70's was computer room floor-space -- so much so that they had empty frames as joiners to convey a dozen cables that could as well be draped beneath the raised floors. Blue went all out to 'kill' Andahl/Fujitsu; Magnusson; ITEL/NatSemi; et al; from placing/keeping their mainframe clones in the shops. I installed a high-end mainframe at a bank in March, and Blue bought it out and sent it to the crushers in September, mainly due to the lowered cost of the [bundled] software licensing on their box compared to others for which the customer had to pay full price.
While I agree with some others that think the eventual outcomes would have been the same [but in the next millenium], I believe that the technology impetus driven by the overall space program is NASA's greatest legacy -- and I resent NASA's management and the godgov throwing it away.
I hope so.
The launch of the Pioneer I rocket on September 16 at north China's Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center makes China only the third country capable of developing such rockets, after the United States and Russia, a spokesman for China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC) told Xinhua.
The rocket is capable of putting payloads of up to 100 kilograms (220 pounds) into orbit around the earth to help with resource exploration, environmental monitoring and surveys, the spokesman said.
The announcement comes just weeks ahead of China's planned manned space mission, which is widely expected to take place next month, based on media reports.
The Xinhua report did not say whether the rocket had any connection to the launching of space flights or whether it could launch satellites for military use.
The People's Daily website said the rocket would be convenient for short-term, short notice use, such as to launch satellites to monitor sudden natural disasters or to broadcast sports events.
"Compared with powerful launch vehicles that use liquid fuel, the solid-fuel launch vehicle, popularly known as Pioneer I, requires much less preparation time to launch, and is much easier to operate," the spokesman said.
It takes 12 hours or less to prepare for the launch of a satellite using the Pioneer I rocket, whereas about three months are needed to prepare the traditional liquid-fuel launch vehicle, including the time for shipping, installation and testing, and filling it with liquid fuel.
The Pioneer I also can be launched from a mobile pad, the spokesman said.
Regardless of whether launch vehicles are used for commercial or military purposes, experts said China's capability in producing launch vehicles was posing competition for other space powers, such as the United States.
"On the commercial side, Chinese space launching capability presents a very competitive alternative to Americans and Europeans," said Robert Karniol, Bangkok-based Asia-Pacific editor for Jane's Defense Weekly.
"The Chinese have been launching foreign satellites for some time, and have launched about 20 to date."
Other countries are also alarmed by the potential military challenges China's space and satellite capabilities can pose for them, Karniol said.
"The Chinese military, like many militaries in other countries, have communication satellites, reconnaissance satellites, and have been developing navigation and global positioning satellites," Karniol said.
"Communication satellites significantly improve the command and control of the armed forces. Reconnaissance satellites provide imagery for military action to follow and global positioning satellites, among other things, significantly improve the guidance systems of missiles."
Karniol was unaware of the specific capabilities of the latest rocket.
Officials at the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC) could not be reached for comment. [End]
The CCP refers to the Chinese Communist Party. China has cloaked its space program in secrecy, ostensibly to avoid embarrassment in the event of failure.
Stung by a string of failed satellite launches in the 1980s and '90s, China has kept recent lift-offs quiet, announcing them only after success was confirmed.
The date of the launch of the next Shenzhou -- meaning "Divine Ship" -- is a state secret but is expected around the October 1 National Day holidays. Repeated requests to interview space officials have been rejected.
China's first astronauts -- dubbed "taikonauts" from "taikong," the Chinese word for space -- are faceless. China has yet to tell the world who they are, other than they were plucked from the ranks of top fighter pilots.
There are no public details on the launch's budget, though it is believed to be a fraction of U.S. manned space flight costs and is covered under rapidly expanding military outlays.
The launch by China is going ahead despite the loss of the U.S. space shuttle Columbia, which disintegrated in February while re-entering the atmosphere. Seven astronauts died.
Experts said China's space program had no big technology breakthroughs but would incrementally improve existing space technologies such as computers, materials, electronics, rockets, guidance and life support.
It comes as no surprise that China's space program may have military applications.
"As the Soviet Union used its Soyuz capsules and Salyut space stations in the 1970s and 1980s to spy from space and carry out other forms of military research, so will the Chinese," said Curtis of Space Today Online.
Yu of the U.S. Naval Academy said: "This project may boost China's R&D on strategic missile programs, but the cost will be enormous for China."
China has hinted at more starry-eyed space plans. State media have reported on designs for a lunar probe that would be a step toward sending Chinese to the moon. ***
You still need to "deliver the goods" so to speak. It would take a huge ground infrastructure and communications system.
I still advocate both approaches, manned and unmanned.
Leave it to America to achieve such milestones as the FIRST Lesbian in space, the First Transgender and the First Homosexual in space.
Because the minute we stand still, we get left behind.
Not quite. It was a combination of NASA and the military that helped push for miniaturizations of electronics. The Apollo had an onboard computer.
We replaced the 'core' (using magnetic 'donuts' from the early 1950's) computers in the orbiters equivalent to the 80-386 in the early 90's.
One of the nice things about "core" is that it is non-volatile. It still works fine as memory, however, it is difficult to make, slow, and bulky.
Personal Computers came from Video Games, such as the 'Pong" game, Atari game machines, and Commodore PET, and the first PC was an Altair, which did not even have a keybord.
The first microprocessor (I4004) was designed for a calculator (the Busicom). Hobbyists are what helped drive the early PC market. A keyboard was quickly made for the Altair (or any S-100 bus computer). I know I have one. Video games were an offshoot and both kind of developed in parallel.
If it were up to NASA we would still use main-frames with dumb terminals.
I don't buy this for a second. Remember the cost of replacing an entire infrastructure. PCs came into their own (70s) when NASA was between Apollo and Shuttle. Money was tight. When I was at JPL, we looked continuously at technology options vs. cost and upgrade viability.
I got my first PC (a Commodore) in 1980. In the late 80's, and early 90's (10 years later) while working at KSC, I tried for years to get a PC to help with my work, and just couldn't even get an authorization for one, so I ended up bringing in my own PC from home.
WOW! I had a Sun Workstation on my desk clear back in the 80s. However, I was at JPL, not KSC.
I agree completely.
For those who accept that premise, it is vital that we get the space shuttle flying again as safely and as quickly as possible. Our very future may depend on it.
To not understand or acknowledge that Earth is but a stepping stone for humankind is to ignore history, reality and Manifest Destiny. Through age, natural catastrophe or by our own hand, life on Earth has a finite amount of time left. For the human species to go on, we must go out into the far and promising reaches of space. We will do this, or we will eventually perish on the stepping stone adjacent to endless possibilities and salvation.
....Human space flight is not a luxury, and the People's Republic of China, above all others, seems to recognize that. The PRC is poised to launch its first astronauts, and with them launch potentially the most ambitious plan ever for humans in space.
They have their eyes on the moon, Mars and beyond. The question for our country is: Do we cede the future of human space flight, and the future in general, to them or another nation?***
Such weapons would directly threaten what many believe would be America's best form of ballistic-missile defense: a system of space-based surveillance and tracking sensors, connected with land-based sensors and space-based missile interceptors. Such a system could negate any Chinese missile attack on the U.S. homeland.
China may be a long way from contemplating a ballistic missile attack on the U.S. homeland. But deployment of American space-based interceptors also would negate the missiles China is refitting to threaten Taiwan and U.S. bases in Okinawa and Guam. And there's the rub, as far as the PLA is concerned.
Clearly, Beijing's draft treaty to ban deployment of space-based weapons is merely a delaying tactic aimed at hampering American progress on ballistic-missile defense while its own scientists develop effective countermeasures.
What Beijing hopes to gain from this approach is the ability to disrupt American battlefield awareness--and its command and control operations--and to deny the U.S. access to the waters around China and Taiwan should the issue of Taiwan's sovereignty lead to conflict between the two Chinas.
China's military thinkers are probably correct: The weaponization of space is inevitable. And it's abundantly clear that, draft treaties and pious rhetoric notwithstanding, they're doing everything possible to position themselves for dominance in space. That's worth keeping in mind the next time they exhort "peace-loving nations" to stay grounded.***
China's PLA Sees Value in Pre-emptive Strike Strategy [Full Text] WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 2003 - The military strategy of "shock and awe" used to stun the Iraqi military in the opening campaign of Operation Iraqi Freedom might be used by the Chinese if military force is needed to bring Taiwan back under communist control.
According to the released recently The Annual Report on the Military Power of the People's Republic of China, the country's military doctrine now stresses elements such as "surprise, deception and pre- emption." Furthermore, the report states that Beijing believes that "surprise is crucial" for the success of any military campaign. Taiwan, located off the coast of mainland China, claimed independence from the communist country in 1949. The island has 21 million people and its own democratic government.
China, with 1.3 billion people, claims sovereignty over the tiny island, sees Taiwan as a breakaway province and has threatened to use military force against Taiwan to reunify the country. And China's force against Taiwan could come as a surprise attack.
But "China would not likely initiate any military action unless assured of a significant degree of strategic surprise," according to the report.
The report states that Lt. Gen. Zheng Shenxia, chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army's Air Force and an advocate of pre-emptive action, believes the chances of victory against Taiwan would be "limited" without adopting a pre-emptive strategy.
The report says that China now believes pre-emptive strikes are its best advantage against a technologically superior force. Capt. Shen Zhongchang from the Chinese Navy Research Institute is quoted as saying that "lighting attacks and powerful first strikes will be widely used in the future."
China's new military thinking has evolved over the past decade. PLA observers have been studying U.S. military strategies since the first Gulf War, when they noticed how quickly U.S. forces using state-of-the-art weapons defeated Iraqi forces that in some ways resemble their own.
Since then, the report states the PLA has shifted its war approach from "annihilative," where an army uses "mass and attrition" to defeat an enemy, to more "coercive warfighting strategies."
The PLA now considers "shock power" as a crucial coercion element to the opening phase of its war plans and that PLA operational doctrine is now designed to actively "take the initiative" and "catch the enemy unprepared."
"With no apparent political prohibitions against pre- emption, the PLA requires shock as a force multiplier to catch Taiwan or another potential adversary, such as the United States, unprepared," the report states.
Ways the PLA would catch Taiwan and the U.S. off guard include strategic and operational deception, electronic warfare and wearing down or desensitizing the opponent's political and military leadership. Another objective would be to reduce any indication or warning of impending military action, the report states.
Preparing for a possible conflict with Taiwan and deterring the United States from intervening on Taiwan's behalf is the "primary driver" of China's military overhaul, according to this year's report. Over the course of the next decade the country will spend billions to counter U.S. advances in warfare technology, the report states. [End]
Yes. The earth is round and wet, so it's more like being left on this mudball.