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Which direction should NASA head

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posted on Apr, 13 2005 @ 12:01 AM
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With the cold war behind us and no true space race to motivate, which direction should NASA choose for the future? In a recent article in the USA today this question garnered some interesting replies from some of the top minds in the field. Many feel that we should put more effort into protecting our planet from near earth objects and the threat of global warming, etc. These scientists believe that these activities should be paramount at NASA for the betterment of man kind.
Some feel that we should head in the direction of brining in more involvement from the business sector. They believe that we should continue to sponsor programs that encourage private development which would obviously help with costs. We could help support the costs of these private ventures and benefit from data that would be collected on these missions. It’s an interesting concept but NASA would have to learn to work well with these private corporations in order for it to have any success.
Finally, many feel that we should give up on manned space flights and concentrate on robotic missions. They believe that the Shuttle program has become to costly and that the data collected by programs such as the Mars rovers or the Hubble telescope far out weigh any thing that a manned flight could bring. It’s simple, they point out that robotic missions are more reliable, cheaper, and can provide the same results, if not more, that a manned mission could bring.
It’s an interesting time at NASA as they seem to be at a cross roads and are struggling to find their place in today’s world. Should they involve private interests to help defray costs? Should we follow the Presidents suggestions and move towards further exploration or should we concentrate more on our own planet? Interesting questions, what are your thoughts?

www.usatoday.com...




posted on Apr, 13 2005 @ 08:41 AM
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Robots are all good and well... To help us learn stuff, but if it is really going to work in space we neet to make money and lots of it to make it worth going into space. Sending robots to learn things I going to give us information but unless you build a robots that can mine and build things on the same level as humans then your going to have problems with funding for as long as we are going into space.

I like the idea of bringing large astroyeds into orbit around the moon and mining them then sending them back to earth by ion drive into earth orbit and brought back to earth. Or mineing the moon and using mass drivers to shoot the minded rock into orbit where it is picked up and shiped back to earth or used in orbit to construct ships/miners.



posted on Apr, 13 2005 @ 09:54 PM
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I'd like to see a few things.

One is a general trend towards thinking about the future. This means starting to develop more powerful engines, energy sources, long-term plans, and the like. We don't need to start colonizing, but it should definitely be on people's minds.

Another is a greater focus on the pure science aspect of things. It's very nice to have a new mattress, but I'd like to see a concerted effort towards finding out more about the universe we know pitifully little about. This includes the Earth.

Thirdly, I'd like to see NASA more involved with the community. They're done a great job, especially lately, and they should continue this trend. Not only to revive interest in the public, but also to help spread knowledge of NASA and space. Some people go their whole lives without even thinking about it. That's a tragedy.

Finally, they need to think about perserving the Earth. Ways to prevent problems from global warming to asteroid collisions to space-ship explosions. Basically, to improve the planet that is to serve as a base for anything and everything that ever has, does, and will take off.

It's a lot. But, hey, I demand a lot, and not all of it needs to be done to the fullest extent immediately, but I'd certainly like that.



posted on Apr, 13 2005 @ 10:42 PM
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What Amorymeltzer Said plus I'd like to add that in addition to that revival Amorymeltzer is talking about I'd like to see a very concerted effort to include small developing spacefaring companies like Scaled to bring costs down and involved the private secord more thoroughly. There's lots of money to be made we just gotta convince them! Another thing is MORE PRIZES! Modeled off of the X-Prize. I know it's already in the works, but I'd love to see a billion dollar moon prize for the first Corp to set foot on the moon and come back! That would be something now wouldn't it!



posted on Apr, 14 2005 @ 12:31 AM
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Originally posted by skychief
Finally, many feel that we should give up on manned space flights and concentrate on robotic missions.


Spin. Spin is the subtle but lethal jab in the back. As in 'many feel'. Heap many? This subliminal suggestion that the US should roll over and play dead in manned space is unsupported by proof, hard numbers, statistics, or reproducible polls. Making 'many' undefinable: 100? 1000? 1,000,000? And even if it meant 51%, so what? Man must endure. Man must explore. The spectacle of teenage radio control toys on Mars NASA has been serving up is a discouraging, demoralizing admission of institutional impotence.



[edit on 14-4-2005 by Chakotay]



posted on Apr, 14 2005 @ 12:52 AM
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My opinion is that we should stick to cheap missions for the next say..50 years or so until we settle down here on Earth. Then we should spread humanity across the Heavens.



posted on Apr, 14 2005 @ 02:27 AM
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I feel that NASA never had any proper direction to begin with, it was basically a tool to satisfy our juvenile fantasies of Star Trek (remember the naming of 'Enterprise'!) and to beat the Soviets to space/moon. They never thought about how it would help mankind and about how it could be sustained (the momentum). Now after the cold war when their are enough satellites in space to host communications for two planets they look at the sky and wonder what next. Mars being the next closest body after the moon is naturally the next destination (their are asteroids which are closer but that’s not spectacular!). This is absolutely juvenile in my opinion, what will we gain from actually putting a man on mars? Probably good TV ratings and some very good pictures but that’s about it! We waste tens of billions of dollars to satisfy our vanity while people in other parts of the world are gripped with poverty and the lack of basic amenities. Forget the rest of the world, even in America their are many people who don't have a roof over their head and can't get two square meals a day! Will going to Mars get that person a job or ease their life in anyway? The answer is beyond doubt is a big -NO!


NASA needs to be scaled down and made more efficient; we need more scientists working to make science more affordable. NASA over the years has churned out many remarkable innovations and these need to go down the chain to the general public. Only through innovation can our nation grow in these times of Asian growth and NASA has been for many decades lethargic at best. For space to be viable it need to be treated as an industry, just as the military is. This can be achieved if NASA can make space more competitive and useful to the general public, right now its only source of income is through space-based communication, remote sensing and navigation. NASA needs to find more uses for space and make the existing market more affordable. Through research that only NASA can do, new technologies must be made available to the private industry which through better mass production techniques could reduce the cost of these technologies and make these technologies more useful to mankind as a whole.
These technologies advancements could range from leaps in Earth monitoring systems, improved Tele-communications, faster and more efficient transport on Earth through sub-orbital flights and even methods of power generation.
These kinds of technologies can be developed by NASA alone as it has the infrastructure and the expertise to do this and much more.
This is not to say that we forget Space and our ultimate dream of space colonization, but we put it off till we have the necessary tech required to do so. We were on the moon nearly fifty years ago and have not been able to make any further advancement on the moon since then, this shows that we rushed into it without fully understanding our purpose. This can be compared to Columbus setting foot in North America and never returning. The whole exercise would have been futile if they had not the capability to use these new lands fruitfully. Thus any extra-terrestrial adventure shold be planned only when we are capable of utilizing it to better mankind .



posted on Apr, 14 2005 @ 08:10 PM
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sardion2000's totally right. Prizes are a GREAT way to invigorate the system, and bringing in private groups with new ideas, methods, and funding is a great idea. Right on man.



Originall posted by IAF101
NASA needs to be scaled down and made more efficient; we need more scientists working to make science more affordable....For space to be viable it need to be treated as an industry, just as the military is.


Excuse me if I'm wrong, but these seem to be in opposition with each other. Yes, space is a possibiity for near-endless profits, but we can achieve so much more if we go after it with the first mindset you express. Science, after all, has no limits, no boundaries. Money is tied down like no other.


This is not to say that we forget Space and our ultimate dream of space colonization, but we put it off till we have the necessary tech required to do so. We were on the moon nearly fifty years ago and have not been able to make any further advancement on the moon since then, this shows that we rushed into it without fully understanding our purpose.


This is very well said, I agree with this a lot. We went too far too fast, and while it was a good thing we did, we're currently paying for it. We (NASA) really need(s) to sit and think about this sort of thing objectively and look to the future. Really look.



posted on Apr, 14 2005 @ 09:54 PM
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I think NASA should stay with launching robot exploration missions. Manned missions should be done by corporations. The competitions of corporations and the profits are what is going to drive the colonization of space.

Space exploration won't provide a return on investment but will advance scientific knowledge. That is where NASA should come in to play.

Imagine being the first company to establish a settlement on the moon. You would send people there for mining or whatever and make a profit from their labor. You'd also profit from selling them food, water, O2, etc. You'd have a complete monopoly. Like it or not, that is what will drive space colonization.



posted on Apr, 14 2005 @ 11:06 PM
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Originally posted by IAF101
what will we gain from actually putting a man on mars?

Chakotay: Species continuity and economic growth.

Will going to Mars get that person a job or ease their life in anyway?

Yes. Without aerospace projects, there are no aerospace jobs. These include such mundane tasks as mopping the floor, so I am assuming that person will qualify.

NASA needs to be scaled down and made more efficient


Nasa needs to be scaled up and made more efficient. Its lonely having a degree in Economics. I buy when other people sell, sell when they buy, and I understand from Keynes that without projects (capital spending) there is no hiring (employment) so there is no consumption (purchasing) so there are no sales and the economy implodes.

That is the economic argument.

As for species continuity, ask the Mammoth. They didn't have a Moon base when the climate changed. Ask the dinosaurs for that matter. And if you don't care if our species continues, well, get out of the way of those of us who do. Or get stepped on.



posted on Apr, 14 2005 @ 11:15 PM
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And if you don't care if our species continues, well, get out of the way of those of us who do. Or get stepped on.


Amen to that! Allthough I believe the mammoth was a bad example I see what you're getting at.



posted on Apr, 15 2005 @ 10:26 AM
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Originally posted by Amorymeltzer


Originall posted by IAF101
NASA needs to be scaled down and made more efficient; we need more scientists working to make science more affordable....For space to be viable it need to be treated as an industry, just as the military is.


Excuse me if I'm wrong, but these seem to be in opposition with each other.


I think you have misunderstood me Amorymeltzer, by scaling down I mean that we need to get those thousands of technicians and hundreds of Astronauts that lie in wait for some miracle to revive the good old days of shuttle flight and space races need to be utilized more productively, send them to JPL or Lockheed where their services maybe better employed than merely trophies of the cold war! Also all the aeronautical engineers and physicists, cosmologists, astronomers, chemical engineers etc etc can be put into work that is more relevant to our everyday lives. Problems like ozone regeneration, asteroid detection, bettering propulsion systems etc. If we can't take care of our planet that is naturally favorable to us than the idea of turning a hostile planet, such as MARS into earth, reeks of ludicrous



posted on Apr, 15 2005 @ 11:00 AM
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Originally posted by Chakotay

Originally posted by skychief
Finally, many feel that we should give up on manned space flights and concentrate on robotic missions.


Spin. Spin is the subtle but lethal jab in the back. As in 'many feel'. Heap many? This subliminal suggestion that the US should roll over and play dead in manned space is unsupported by proof


I didn't think it was subliminal. It's a pretty direct suggestions.

I think that manned exploration right now is an unproductive use of resources. We need a tryly reliable and cheap reusable platform. Shuttles need to be redesigned and replaced. Before we build a tractor-trailer, lets learn how to fix a Honda Civic.

And, comparing the Mars robotic missions to teenage toys... Sorry man but all you have shown is (a) zero knowledge of engineering (b) pure contempt for people who designed this wonderful system, simply because it was not manned. Obviously, manned would easier fit with your Star Trek understanding of the Cosmos. Beam me up, Scotty.

If anything, the Mars mission is a success. Next time they'll bring bigger and better drills and other gear, and we'll learn even more about this planet. The fact that they relaiebly established that previously Mars had water is in itself an amazing thing!



posted on Apr, 15 2005 @ 11:07 AM
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Originally posted by Chakotay

Originally posted by IAF101
what will we gain from actually putting a man on mars?

Chakotay: Species continuity and economic growth.

If you have not noticed Chakotay, our species has been multipling at a faster rate than ever before[8-9 billion at present!] and even if we face a major ecological change man will adapt and thrive again; 'Cave man' withstood the Ice Age and I am sure 'Mordern man' can withstand global warming.

It is not hollywood and man is in no immenent danger, even if we are we should be able to gain mastery over our own planet first before we have to 'gal' to terraform and colonise other planets, what is to say some natural catastrope won't befall the next planet we move to. Only if we can ensure our survival on earth can we even begin to survive on other hostile worlds.
The Earth was made for us and pur best hope of survival anywhere in the universe in right here on Earth if we can't survive here we wont be able to survive anywhere else! That my friend is a FACT!!


Originally posted by Chakotay

Originally posted by IAF101
Will going to Mars get that person a job or ease their life in anyway?

Yes. Without aerospace projects, there are no aerospace jobs. These include such mundane tasks as mopping the floor, so I am assuming that person will qualify.

Even if NASA was selling doughnuts they would still employ a janitor !

But Seriously, My point is not to put people out of their jobs but to redistribute them across the board, the number of aerospace engineers today in NASA twidling their thumbs is shocking; also aerospace engineers need not work only in building space vehicles they can work in almost anywhere from construction[not as a foreman! but as a design engineer for structures subjected to high winds etc] to automobiles[again in the design dept] and many other feilds( I know I just graduated in aeronautics) .

Originally posted by Chakotay
...I buy when other people sell, sell when they buy, and I understand from Keynes that without projects (capital spending) there is no hiring (employment) so there is no consumption (purchasing) so there are no sales and the economy implodes.

Tell me, who would buy a mars rover or a lunar module?? What possible use would it be to any private individual? and how would it help him improve his current economic standing by any significant margin other than displaying it ?
Also what consuption? IS NASA making toothpaste?
They are the producer and the consumers(military also included here!) It is blatantly obvious that by concentrating the efforts of NASA on more 'Earthly' projects, the technology could be used to make our lives easier and can also be sold to companies that would spurt innovation and the economy. Also the people of NASA would have greater enthusiasm if they get a share of the returns!

Originally posted by Chakotay
As for species continuity, ask the Mammoth. They didn't have a Moon base when the climate changed.

Why don't you ask ' MAN ' whether he hibernated on the moon when the climate changed on Earth during the Ice Age? The answer is obvious, just because its too cold or too hot doesn't mean the moon is going to be shangrila, just work your AC!
Also about the dinosaurs extinction theory of Comets etc, what is to say that when your on the planet of your choice it won't be bombarded with cosmic stragglers??



posted on Apr, 15 2005 @ 06:52 PM
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Originally posted by Aelita
I think that manned exploration right now is an unproductive use of resources. We need a tryly reliable and cheap reusable platform. Shuttles need to be redesigned and replaced. Before we build a tractor-trailer, lets learn how to fix a Honda Civic.


If you take out the engineering oxymoron 'cheap reusable' we already have two reliable systems in America, one operational, one in mothballs. Both wingless gifts of Von Braun and his team. Two in Russia, and one in China. Reusable rockets are like reusable tampons: seemingly cheap, nightmarish in practice. Winged rockets are an ignorant insult to the omnipotent goddess Drag.


And, comparing the Mars robotic missions to teenage toys... Sorry man but all you have shown is (a) zero knowledge of engineering (b) pure contempt for people who designed this wonderful system, simply because it was not manned.


a) I am a certificated test pilot and instructor.
b) You are correct.


IAF wrote: Why don't you ask ' MAN ' whether he hibernated on the moon when the climate changed on Earth during the Ice Age?


We are.

[edit on 15-4-2005 by Chakotay]



posted on Apr, 16 2005 @ 04:27 PM
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Some great responses here! First off, I think it’s important to state that by no means do I consider myself an expert on NASA, or space exploration in general, but that my points come from just my observations and from, what I believe common sense.
To start, I believe that above everything else we need to concentrate our efforts on preserving our planet and bettering the lives of it’s billions of occupants. We can explore every corner of the known universe but without a “home base” we have nothing. It can be such a bad human trait that we are always dreaming of greater and better things but at the same time neglecting that and those which are closest to us. We need to concentrate on the real dangers that our planet faces such as the environmental and “alien” issues. Alien objects, such as asteroids and comets, pose a real threat to our planet, or at least to those that inhabit it, and we need to do more to be prepared. For the first time in history, man is close to having the technology to avert an asteroid impact and I hope we can “get it together” before it is too late. It is not a matter of if but a matter of when an asteroid the size of California will decide to pay us a visit. Sure, we have the technology now to detect it early on but at this point what else could we do short of falling to our knees and praying. We need to protect and preserve our home before we move on to try and colonize other areas in our solar system. This will be a huge task and I believe that it is unrealistic for one organization to have to deal with the preservation of our planet and the exploration of space. I believe that we should actually have in a sense two distinct organizations, one that deals with preserving and protecting our planet and one that explores the universe. Sure these two would have to work closely together but they could still remain completely separate. I believe that it is imperative that we keep exploring the universe but we need to take a long look at our priorities before we continue on.
This is a very simple look at this current issue and I’m sure one that could be ripped apart by those that are more knowledgeable in this area. Sometimes though, the simplest approach turns out to be the best approach. What are your thoughts?



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