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Is this the end for human space flight?

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posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 12:18 PM
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20 November 2009

SO WE won't be going to Mars, not in my lifetime anyway. And not back to the moon either, not for decades. Buzz Lightyear fantasies are dashed. Don't believe the spin - the dream is over.

OK, the Augustine panel's review of NASA's human space-flight plans outlines several options. Mars may be out, but the moon is still in with a shout, and plans to go to the Lagrange points and even the asteroids are mooted. Technically, all this is probably doable. But it won't happen, and here's why.




www.newscientist.com...



There certainly was audacity in 1961, when John F. Kennedy made his lunar pledge. The key line was not the crazy bit about landing a man on the moon, it was the hubristic promise to do so by 1970. If Wernher Von Braun had insisted the moon was unreachable before 1975, they probably would never have gone. Why? Because by 1975 Kennedy's presidency would be ancient history. Some other guy would get all the glory as Old Glory was hammered into the lunar regolith.

Of course that happened anyway, but Kennedy's reasoning must have been that, even in 1969, he would be able to bask in the glory of a successful moon shot.


If Kennedy had lived we wouldn't be in this fix.....he would have done joint ventures with Russia and other countries and it wouldn't have cost us the farm, I would have liked to see us go to Mars in my lifetime but it isn't going to happen.




posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 12:24 PM
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That is, after all, an op ed. I tend to agree with the second opinion.


Politics aside, there is a subset of the science and technology community that simply will not let human space flight die. If governments abandon their programmes these individuals will keep the dream alive as a private venture. Perhaps not surprisingly, they include some of the brightest young minds on the planet. Earth will always be too small for them, and the conviction that humanity should and will one day reach the stars too strong.

To be sure, the desire to fly in space and journey to other worlds is impractical and risks becoming an escapist fantasy. Yet there is a deeper force at work. Space calls to us, as a species, to be more than we have been. It is a call we have, so far, proved wonderfully incapable of ignoring.

www.newscientist.com...

I have hopes that I will see Man on Mars. Maybe even my daughter.



posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 01:04 PM
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reply to post by Aquarius1
 

I read the Augustine Commission report (officially called Seeking a Human Spaceflight Program Worthy of a Great Nation) when it came out back in October, and while it was a sobering look at NASA's goals -vs- NASA's budget, I was not completely demoralized by the report's message as you and the authors of that NewScientist article were.

I saw this part in the Executive Summary that gives me hope that they will find a way to get to the Moon relatively soon and on to Mars in 30 years or so:

Pathways to Mars: Mars is the ultimate destination for
human exploration of the inner solar system; but it is not the
best first destination. Visiting the “Moon First” and following
the “Flexible Path” are both viable exploration strategies.
The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive; before
traveling to Mars, we could extend our presence in free
space and gain experience working on the lunar surface.

Perhaps the "pathway to Mars" will not be a purely-NASA venture. Perhaps the realization of the extreme cost of such a venture will force the U.S. to work together with other space-faring nations to share those costs --- share the costs of the first step (getting back to the Moon and learning how to live there for long durations), and the ultimate step of going to Mars.

The Augustine commission did not have too many faults with NASA's space program goals or even the technical aspects for reaching those goals. They DID find 'fault', however, in trying to reconcile those goals with the reality of NASA's budget. The bottom line as to what's keeping us from Mars is one thing -- MONEY.

The Augustine Commission report is non-binding, but I'm sure it will weigh heavily with congress when it comes time for them to make the ultimate decisions on the future of the U.S. space program.


[edit on 11/30/2009 by Soylent Green Is People]



posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 01:11 PM
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political agendas come and go but dreams, especially grand ones that have entered the popular conscious, will never die. Someone from somewhere by some means will physically land on Mars at some point if we are still a functioning world. we may never see it but those that do will be as blessed as those that had the privilege of watching the moon landings live.

And maybe it will be Phage's daughter.



posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 01:49 PM
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reply to post by Soylent Green Is People
 


I also read the Augustine report. Here is an interesting quote from it:



• Human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit is not
viable under the FY 2010 budget guideline.


At one point it says that even if NASA gets the budget increase to do the things the commision evaluates it still will not send people beyond low Earth orbit for another 25-30 years!!!

Even if things go well it will be another decade before we even build the rockets to take us beyond LEO. But there are plenty of factors that would delay this even further, like extending the life of the space shuttle.

I was kind of excited when reading the report. All the possibilities are really cool to think about. But after I was done I was more dissapointed than excited. It could be another 30 years before we do anything, and that's if things go well! Besides, what does it matter if Obama decides to go for the flexable path or the Moon first or any of the variations? By the time we are able to do anything Obama will be long out of office. I realise that it's a good idea to have a goal and know where you are going, but we could change the goal 3 or 4 times over the next 30 years and it wouldn't make much difference because we won't have the ability to act on those goals for quite some time.

I hope you've got more than 30 years left on your life Phage because otherwise you won't be seeing much of anything in the way of human exploration.

And as for Soylent Green, I wouldn't hold your breath about the private industry beating NASA to a places like Mars or maybe even the Moon. I'm excited about what's going on with the private industry, but at this point it's a real gamble as to whether these companys can even reach LEO. They need to make a profit before they can do things like going to the Moon and setting up outposts or hotels. That's something NASA doesn't even have to think about. In other words the real exploration and science that needs to be done in order to accomplish a goal like reaching Mars (the singular goal of the Augustine commission) would take much longer if a prerequisite was that the mission needed to make a profit... or even brake even.




posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 01:55 PM
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Actually I was wrong in the last post where I said it would take another decade to develope the rockets that would take us beyond LEO.

It will take us a decade to build the rockets we need to take us to Low Earth Orbit but, to go beyond LEO will take another 2 or three decades




posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 02:06 PM
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Develop true anti-gravity propulsion. Then you can have an affordable space exploration program.



posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 02:11 PM
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reply to post by fieryjaguarpaw
 

I must disagree.




posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 02:32 PM
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Originally posted by Larryman
Develop true anti-gravity propulsion. Then you can have an affordable space exploration program.

This is like saying that all of our world's energy needs could easily be met by developing a cheap source of fusion power...

...i.e., it's an obvious statement that's easier said than done.

[edit on 11/30/2009 by Soylent Green Is People]



posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 02:43 PM
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reply to post by Phage
 



Didn't the Russians say they wouldn't take any more space tourists a few years ago? I'm not sure how good an idea it is to reley on them. I'd rather we put some money into Space X and use the Dragon instead of Soyuz.

The Russian space agency isn't covered much in the west so I don't know nearly as much about their program as I would like to, but none of those are human rated launchers that have the required lift capacity, are they?
How long do you think it would take Russia to send humans beyond LEO?

We could team up with the Russians and other countries, and this was something the Augustine commission said we should do, but I'm not sure how much time it would save. The commission suggested that NASA develope all the vehicles and the other agencys could design habitats and what not, so the time line still seems pretty firm even if we team up with other countries.

Plus look at ISS. 25 years to create and it's still not done. Once it is finished then what? I never hear about the great science that they are suppossedly doing up there. Nope. It's just article after article about how a space walk ended early or how a mission is cut short, or the recent focus was on the baby that an astronaut's wife had while he was in orbit... But never a story on what we are actually doing. In other words I'm not sold on the idea of co-operation between countries speeding up the time table or accomplishing things we couldn't have done on our own. In some ways I think co-operation will just lead to more red tape and further delays.



posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 02:49 PM
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reply to post by fieryjaguarpaw
 

You said no LEO vehicles for 10 years. Incorrect.

Yes, I expect a timeline of 25-30 years to Mars at the very least. I just might be able to see it happen.

The ISS is complete. That is one of the factors involved with ending the shuttle program.
news.softpedia.com...
If you have to be spoon fed information about what's being done on the station you will have a long wait. There are other resources than mass media.



[edit on 11/30/2009 by Phage]



posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 03:07 PM
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Originally posted by Larryman
Develop true anti-gravity propulsion. Then you can have an affordable space exploration program.


You know, I want my daily commute to work to include a chocolate-colored stretch limo, studded with 4 carat diamonds, and full of supermodels and Cristal champagne. I know that's not very likely to happen, but still vastly more realistic than what you wrote here.



posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 03:30 PM
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Originally posted by Larryman
Develop true anti-gravity propulsion. Then you can have an affordable space exploration program.

If it were already developed it wouldn't make a difference as long as big oil controls everything, they say it cannot be controlled, not buying that.



posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 04:21 PM
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Originally posted by Phage
reply to post by fieryjaguarpaw
 

You said no LEO vehicles for 10 years. Incorrect.

What I was saying is that NASA wouldn't have those vehicles for another 10 years. Sorry if this wasn't clear.


Yes, I expect a timeline of 25-30 years to Mars at the very least. I just might be able to see it happen.

According to the Augustine commission no matter which path we take it will be 25-30 years before we leave LEO. To reach Mars would be much longer. Infact it is so far out that the commission doesn't even speculate as to when it would happen.



The ISS is complete.

No it isn't. The Russians still have docking births to put up. But you are basically correct. But if it's done Why do we still have five or six shuttle missions remaining? We were supposed to retire the shuttle after the compleation of ISS but we still have a handfull of flights left.


If you have to be spoon fed information about what's being done on the station you will have a long wait. There are other resources than mass media.

Well I guess that was an insult?
I read the report, and If I knew where to find large platters of info I'd love to eat it up. NASA's website is laughable... talk about bite sized bits of info.

Any suggestions as to where I should go for more info?

As to what they are doing on ISS... Well, I don't think there are anything other than bite sized spoonfulls to be had anyway. I just read an article saying that after finally making it possible for large crews to inhabit the ISS we have just reduced the number of people on board down to two. TWO! The article says the astronauts will spend most of their time doing basic maitinance and won't have much time for science. WTF!?



posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 04:24 PM
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Originally posted by Larryman
Develop true anti-gravity propulsion. Then you can have an affordable space exploration program.


How do you know that anti-grav would be affordable? Maybe it would be really expensive.



posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 04:29 PM
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We know NASA won't go for anything other than a moon mission for the next 30 years..

We know the ESA are only interested in Robotics, satellites, probes and tracking.

But, with the explosive growth of China & India (Especially China).. how do we know they won't try it?

How do we know that in the next 10 years an agreement between the ESA, NASA and Chinese/Japanese/Indian Space agencies wont unfold that will send people to Mars in 20 years time..

Its very possible.. with all the global governance and unprecedented global cooperation and tight relations, how long before all the space agencies start to pool resources?



posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 04:37 PM
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Manned space flight is sexy and gets the public's attention, but from a strict scientific point of view it doesn't get much bang for your buck.

Telescopes - both on the ground and in space - get you so much more info, and for anything further than the moon robots make much more sense. The engineering and technology spin-offs you get from these are huge as well. AI, communications, precision robotics, all sorts of neat stuff that we can use straight away.

The only problem with this is that it doesn't capture the headlines like a manned mission to Mars, and if the public lose interest in space flight and science in general, we get less funding and less bright young minds picking a scientific career. Which sucks.



posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 04:47 PM
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reply to post by fieryjaguarpaw
 

Call me an optimist.

There are five more shuttle launches planned. All five flights will be to the shuttle. They will carry spare parts, some non-critical components and some instruments.

No, it was not an insult (wasn't meant to be one, anyway). You said

Nope. It's just article after article about how a space walk ended early or how a mission is cut short, or the recent focus was on the baby that an astronaut's wife had while he was in orbit... But never a story on what we are actually doing.
I was trying to point out that a little bit of research will provide quite a bit more about what science is and will be done on the station. Don't get the idea I'm particularly entranced with the station, I'm not. But it is the only place in space with people on it and there has been and will be more good science done on it (much of it having to do with humans in space). It's just that a lot of the science is not very sexy so you're just not going to see a lot of articles about it.


Here's some spoon feeding.

www.nasa.gov...

[edit on 11/30/2009 by Phage]



posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 05:05 PM
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Originally posted by fieryjaguarpaw

Originally posted by Larryman
Develop true anti-gravity propulsion. Then you can have an affordable space exploration program.


How do you know that anti-grav would be affordable? Maybe it would be really expensive.


I guess we'll find out it's cost... if we ever have the nerve to try it.


jra

posted on Dec, 1 2009 @ 02:57 AM
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Originally posted by fieryjaguarpaw
Why do we still have five or six shuttle missions remaining?


Just take a look for yourself to see what's left. List of Shuttle missions


I just read an article saying that after finally making it possible for large crews to inhabit the ISS we have just reduced the number of people on board down to two. TWO! The article says the astronauts will spend most of their time doing basic maitinance and won't have much time for science. WTF!?


It's just for a short time. When the three remaining expedition 21 crew leave, that will leave the two who are apart of expedition 22. Then on Dec. 21 Soyuz TMA-17 will launch and bring three more astronauts up to allow then to continue to dedicate more time to the various experiments going on.



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