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Americans, how do you feel about the demise of NASA?

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posted on Jul, 26 2011 @ 03:05 PM
Well, whatever you 'mine' on the moon or elsewhere, it better be very valuable stuff, (we already know gold, platinum, uranium, and diamonds are not there), because the amount of money it will take to propel carrier vessels there and back and fuel them is extraordinarily much more expensive than launching 500 kg satellites in earth orbit.

You only need to go about 17,500 mph to reach orbit, a bit faster for higher orbits, but you need to exceed 24,500 mph the earth escape velocity, then you need to find a way of getting your mining haul (whatever miniscule amount of 'precious cargo' it might be) back to earth without burning up in the atmosphere on reentry. You need a huge kind of reentry vehicle, (two entire Soyuz's fit in the Space Shuttle bay). The Shuttle never flew beyond LEO.

I suppose from the moon you could just fire off in some big cannon your cargo of rocks or whatever, strap little hydrazine rockets to them for trajectory corrections, and construct a giant net at some uninhabited atoll in the Pacific to catch your cargo instead of all of those costly heavy lift cargo rockets, but that sure sounds like a lot of investment and logistics.

I think the last three Apollo spacecrafts to attain earth escape velocity were around 100,000 pounds. Only about 10,000 pounds of that returned to earth, of that maybe 100 kgs was actual cargo, besides the craft and men. Entire Saturn V mass at launch, 6,699,000 pounds. That's 6.7 million pounds to return 77 pounds of cargo, (apollo 15). You can do the math.

Your cargo would need to be very valuable.

posted on Jul, 26 2011 @ 03:25 PM
reply to post by Illustronic

The cost of taking a ship into space can be nullified virtually by building, Carbon nano-tube space to earth elevators. If we could build ships in space, that would pretty much decrease the cost of going from earth to orbit by 80-85%.

Now finding the men and women brave enough to ride such an elevator would be an immense task on its own. I can fly in an airplane, ride across cury roads on mountaintops, but to have myself on an elevator going into space would scare the life out of me. 20 miles doesnt seem that far on land, but going up and out its scary.

posted on Jul, 26 2011 @ 03:30 PM
The scientific community has lost out. The conspiracy theorist in me says this is not the end of the USA in space, just the doing away with any public access. Earth orbit is too strategically important to abandon so I expect military/intel agencies or corporate/government contractors to be given sole access to secret launch facilities (if not being done already) so they can continue to make space an important theater in the next war.

posted on Jul, 26 2011 @ 03:53 PM
reply to post by lonewolf19792000

20 miles? You need to go quite a bit higher to reach 'space'. the low altitude recognized by NASA (you get official astronaut wings) at 50 miles up (80 km), international recognition of space is 100 km, (62 miles up), and the ISS never goes below 200 miles up. I don't believe a space elevator is feasible from earth, (like nothing will ever hit it).

posted on Jul, 26 2011 @ 03:58 PM

Originally posted by 2012srb
I'm embarrassed for my country.

We're throwing away our legacy.

We are going to rely on our enemy to transport us to the space station we spearheaded.

Yes, I said enemy.

You want to preserve your country's legacy?

Take all the money out of your wallet, go in to the bathroom and flush it down the toilet.

That is what the government has been doing with taxpayers money for 50 years or so.

Even some of the experiments done on the ISS have been nothing more than high school science projects.

Colonize the moon? If we could have, we would have already.

The human body cannot survive outside the earths atmosphere for a very long time.

Stop listening to daydreamers and watching those SciFi fantasy movies and learn to live in reality.

You want to travel through space?

We all are already!

posted on Jul, 26 2011 @ 04:31 PM
I think the bigger question we should be asking ourselves is how they are going to introduce the (not so new) new tech. The last administration flubbed big time withthe Columbia disaster. If the public had found or finds out they had better technology all along, the pitchforks would be sharpened, and heads would roll. I find it odd that the majority seem to the think the shuttle was the end all of our space exploration program. That program had long outlived its service life. The signs were there, the stage was set, and boom the Columbia burns up on reentry due to lax protocol. I believe the American public would be calling for blood if they knew it was essentially a side show to keep us ignorant. Do yourselves a favor and do as I did (thanks to a poster here) and look up one word, err acronym NERVA. Then you might see why we are hitching a ride for a short while to the space station. The shuttle program and the bad taste it left needs some time to mellow.

For what it is worth. I was doing a sound job for a private place and one of the presentations was listed as nothing more than “a photographic presentation” and if it didn’t show terraforming on mars, then I have no clue what it was showing, it had no narration only music. It was so awesome it brought tears to my eyes (and I am no softy). I was 19 when the first shuttle lifted off and feel it is past time to put it rest.

posted on Jul, 26 2011 @ 05:39 PM
It was my understanding when I posed the question to our team bidding for the operational management of the ISS National Laboratory back in March that NASA is going to use developments of the ESA and the French Arianespace agency before we put our people in the Russian Soyuz machines. The Soyuz is 60's technology though credited with the most launches. The problem is the tiny craft has a two crew capacity (emergency 3 occupant capacity and one 3-crew tourist media frenzy escapade), and next to zero cargo capacity. It takes two guys to the ISS and two back from the ISS and next to nothing else. In a deal with the ESA the Soyuz is planned to launch from the Arianespace base in the French Guiana later this year. The question was quickly 'brushed over' and not discussed. We aren't the Prime vendor in the proposal and my part is minor so I wasn't in many meetings, still it was met with grumbling and eye rolls, (but no facepalms).

Manned space flight for a while is going to be a simple taxi to relieve two astronauts from the ISS.

When Russia puts satellites into orbit they are from unmanned spacecrafts. Soyuz in Guiana

posted on Jul, 26 2011 @ 11:18 PM
reply to post by Fiberx

Thanks for that. I thought I’d missed some news announcement about the closure of NASA.

With regard to getting big payloads and human beings comfortably into low Earth orbit, NASA has done all the heavy lifting (both literally and theoretically) and all private enterprise needs to do now is build on and exploit the agency’s work for commercial purposes. Which it will certainly do, as soon as it believes it can turn a profit from it.

Frankly, the idea of consumer capitalism reaching out to the stars repels me. The pursuit of money as an end in itself devalues everything it touches, impoverishes human life and has significantly damaged our very planet; we can only speculate what it will do to the rest of the Solar System. But money has its own momentum, which is more than sufficient to attain orbital and even escape velocity. I’m afraid there will be no stopping it.

Meanwhile, NASA will continue to exist and do its job, which is to provide humanity with spiritual and cultural gifts of inestimable value. The cultural oxygen of discovery and adventure, the nobility of knowledge sought for its own sake, the courage and boldness it assures us our culture still possesses.

NASA is one of the noblest enterprises ever created by the American people and it has achieved magnificent things. The Space Shuttle was one such achievement, but its day is done. The space buses and lorries that will replace it in the future will be funded by private firms. They will operate for profit. There will be far too many of them. They will further impoverish the quality of our Earthbound lives in ways cannot now imagine. We will loathe them.

May NASA live long and prosper.

edit on 26/7/11 by Astyanax because: the gremlins are swarming again.

posted on Jul, 26 2011 @ 11:28 PM
reply to post by Illustronic

Currently, a working space elevator is a problem in materials science.

You can forget about your hundred- and two-hundred-mile estimates. A space elevator can only be hung from a satellite in geostationary orbit, a whopping 22,236 miles above the equator.

So high-tensile steel won’t do it. Carbon nanotubes might, not that anyone yet knows for certain. But whatever it takes, it will happen eventually, simply because of its profit potential. Money is the closest thing I know to an irresistible force.

posted on Jul, 27 2011 @ 02:48 AM

Originally posted by geraldcole
Sure we could transform Mars to fit our wants and needs, but having a base setup there in 40 years I don't buy it. We have no need to teraform Mars unless we run out of room here.
Actually, we do have a need. If something causes mass extinctions on Earth, like an asteroid impact, we need to be a 2-planet race so at least we will survive on one planet.

We have the ability to prevent our own extinction, that the dinosaurs lacked. We ought to use this ability, instead of becoming extinct.

Since there's no imminent impact known, the need isn't urgent, but if we wait until it is urgent, we probably won't have enough time to pull it off and people will fight about who gets to go. It's better to set it up sooner rather than later.

Regarding the OP, NASA isn't dead, quite the contrary, the ongoing budget for NASA is quite large. It's just that all the money that was being spent on the shuttle missions, will now be spent on other things. We hope the other things will have better efficiency, higher productivity, etc. Part of that depends on how well NASA is managed, and part depends on how much the budgeteers in Washington yank around the priorities of NASA like they have with the cancellation of constellation program.
edit on 27-7-2011 by Arbitrageur because: clarification

posted on Jul, 27 2011 @ 02:58 AM
While I feel dismantling the shuttle program without a viable replacement was a mistake, I'm pretty sure that NASA is still there.
Ending the shuttle program is not the same as ending NASA itself, and while for much of the last 30 years the shuttle was a major part of NASA, it was by no means the whole of it.

They do and have done a lot more than just sub-orbital puddle jumping and were around for quite a while before the shuttles ever were.

Consider that some of their more impressive feats did not involve shuttles, such as the mars rovers among other things.

To call this the demise of NASA is a bit premature.

posted on Jul, 27 2011 @ 05:55 AM
The demise of NASA? What demise of NASA? It hasn't happened and as far as we know isn't going to either. The shuttle needs to be replaced and because of poor leadership on part of NASA and congress there is no replacement that is ready at the moment. Some launches to the ISS will be contracted out to private companies, but this has nothing to do with the demise of NASA.
edit on 27/7/11 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 27 2011 @ 09:45 AM
Interesting and related:

NASA is alive and kicking. I have a good friend who works for NASA and he is just as busy today as he was when there was a space shuttle program.

posted on Jul, 27 2011 @ 09:52 AM
As for going to the moon, been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. Its a big rock. If Russia and India want to spend the money to confirm its a big rock, go for it.

Americans have been told for years that the space program could go private. This isn't a sudden revelation. That in order for the space program to survive, it will have to go private. Many of the technologies that revolutionized our knowledge of space were by donations, such as the Hubble.

The focus will now be put on deep space exploration. Not manned flights. I believe it will continue to be a compromise between both the public and private industries, with benefits to both.
The public will continue the deep space searches that no longer need to be manned. And the private will revolutionize technology as they compete for business, and to make it cheaper and more accessible.
Its a win-win.
edit on 27-7-2011 by nixie_nox because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 27 2011 @ 10:25 AM
We will continue to have the Naval Space Command. They have nearly unlimited budgets, and probably quantum-field propelled antigravity (triangle) spacecraft.

posted on Jul, 27 2011 @ 03:52 PM
reply to post by woodwardjnr

I couldn’t agree with you more. The space program picked right up with Manifest Destiny where the pioneers who expanded our country to the Pacific coast left off. It was glorious run we had, but as with all good things, it had to end. I do not support the end, but as you stated, with the endless wars and corporate bailouts, something had to be cut.

reply to post by ohioriver

While I agree with you that this is an excellent opportunity for the private sector, the government’s control over the heavens has hardly been relinquished.

The government still has the authority to regulate and control what the payloads are and how they can be launched. On top of that, while the United States may have lost its only way of placing humans into orbit, there are still dozens of rockets capable of launching payloads into orbit and beyond.

reply to post by geraldcole

If you feel that humanity will visit Mars within the next 40 years, then you must understand the logistics presented by the situation. It would be rash and uneconomical to visit Mars and not construct a base of operations. Due to the orbits of the planets and the sheer amount of reaction mass needed for a direct route versus a transfer orbit, once arriving on Mars, they would be stuck there for a longer period of time.

reply to post by lonewolf19792000

Your gumption for the prospect of terraforming Mars is admirably naive. Unfortunately, we do not have the slightest practical idea how this would be accomplished. Also, most plans for terraforming the Red Planet require there to be substantial reservoirs of liquid or frozen water beneath the surface – something which has yet to be proven to this day.

While I cannot argue that in the past 175 years we have made several paradigm shifts in all areas that took us from bloodletting to open heart surgery, from compound bows to automatic weapons, from vacuum tubes to transistors, we still lack the capability to drastically modify the weather patterns here on our home planet, much less another, less hospitable one.

reply to post by Illustronic

You are absolutely correct in stating that it will be very difficult for a private company to turn a profit. It will be a very long time before the industry of space tourism really takes off. In the meantime, space entrepreneurs need to take a look at how expanding regions were taken advantage of in times past. Of course, you would be surprised at the amount of resources and potential of all of the “big dead space rocks.”

When the United States was first expanding west it happened in waves. First, there were the explorers. An example would be Louis and Clarke (or Edwards and Hunt if you prefer.) Following them were the traders, trappers, guides and others who made a living by harvesting the natural resources and turning a profit. Following them were the first settlers, and then they came in droves. Once settlements had been established, tourism began. Unfortunately, modern day space entrepreneurs are attempting to make the jump from early explorers to tourism. As a society, we need to go to the Moon, Mars and especially the asteroids to exploit their resources. Despise that statement as you will, but that is the inherent way mankind acts.

The Moon would essentially be a trailhead for further out. Minerals and ore can be refined and shipped cheaply back to Earth – 2.38 km/s is not too hard to achieve. More importantly is the farming potential for Luna. We ship our waste products; they recycle it and send it back as food.

Mars would be important, especially if there is liquid or frozen water. Water is possibly the most important thing when it comes to space exploration. Aside from being essential to human life, it can be used as a reaction mass and to shield the ship from radiation.

Beyond Mars, lay the asteroids - essentially the biggest, most abundant of the “big dead space rocks.” Despite this, within the main belt is more untapped, virgin resources than Earth has ever known. With mining of the main belt we will be able to end (though probably incite more) wars. There would be very little need for “conflict minerals.” Diamonds would be common place, as would all of the other minerals we hold so dearly today.

It’s all out there, just waiting for us to make use of it.

reply to post by Illustronic

As I typed these replies out while reading the thread, this post amused me. It was as if you responded to my last comments directed at you before I even knew I was going to type them!

All soliloquys aside, I feel you’re not thinking of a grand enough scheme here, despite having the right idea.

While it is true that you need a voracious velocity to escape our Blue Planet, not so much Luna. Build the ships to mine the asteroids on the surface or in Lunar orbit (even less escape velocity needed!) and problem solved. In fact, the asteroids need not even be mined in their orbits. Build smaller drones which can kick them out of orbit in the main belt, sending them into a Lunar orbit. Mine them there.

As far as reentry, heat ablative materials surely could be manufactured in Lunar orbit or on the surface, Break the body into manageable pieces, attach the ablative materials and send the chunks on down to Earth. You wouldn’t even need to use a net or something to catch. Using parachutes or retro rockets there are several land based locations that could be used much more safely. In fact, I can think of several off the top of my head: The Australian Outback, Russian Siberia, China’s Gobi Desert, the African Sahara, North America’s Sonoran Desert and even land in the Arctic and Antarctic could be utilized.

At first it would be expensive. Usually the first few times anything is accomplished it is, but with repetition and quantity comes reductions in price. For example, five hundred years ago it was too expensive to send people across the Atlantic. It took royalty to finance the expeditions, and even they were hesitant. Today, getting from New York to London is a pretty routine affair.

reply to post by lonewolf19792000

The concept of the space elevator is a beautiful one, but not very economically feasible. You said it yourself, in order to build it we will have to wait for the technology to be developed. We would be better off using an electromagnetic catapult to get from Earth to space, but this would be more effective for use on Luna due to the lack of an atmosphere. Also, this type of launching facility could be made with technology available today.

Building space craft in Lunar orbit would be far cheaper. Besides, if we currently have the capability to launch nearly 1000 kg to Mars (the Mars Science Laboratory is about the size of a modern Mini Cooper and weighs about 900 kg), we should be able to get the manufacturing equipment to Luna.

reply to post by monkcaw

There is still public access to space. NASA is not going anywhere, just suspending launching of current manned expeditions. Earth orbit is not being abandoned, as we still have several methods of launching probes into Low Earth Orbit. As far as American militarization of space, no weapons will be placed there, but spy installations (Keyhole, X-37B, etc) will continue. While they are an important facet of intelligence gathering, orbits are predictable. It’s easy to figure out where and when a body will be overhead, so don’t expect these satellites to replace drones and other flying aircraft anytime soon.

reply to post by IamJustanAmerican

The ISS experiments performed by schoolchildren and high school students are quite amazing. These experiments go through a rigorous selection program and have yielded real world, applicable results. Also, the fact that a child has something in space has to be a real high for the kids, their parents, their teachers and school. Getting kids today interested in the sciences is one of the most difficult challenges faced by our educators today.

There is no need to be so dismissive.

reply to post by Illustronic

So what if Soyuz is based off of 1960’s technology? The car you drive is based off technology even older. Trains? Older still. Boats? Even more dated! Though, just as with these methods of transportation, they have been constantly updated and improved. The most recently launched Soyuz is part of the newest generation and even has a digital computer and avionics. As far as reliability, the last Soyuz to fail was in 1983, and the crew all survived. While the Soyuz lacks cargo capacities, do not overlook the Progress craft which has a payload of over 2000 kg.

posted on Jul, 27 2011 @ 04:45 PM
reply to post by Astyanax

Love your stuff BTW, but the question remains, how do you keep things from hitting that 'space elevator'? Or how do you keep Jack from chopping the beanstalk down?

posted on Jul, 28 2011 @ 07:50 AM
reply to post by Illustronic

How do you keep things from hitting that 'space elevator'? Or how do you keep Jack from chopping the beanstalk down?

The elevator itself will be a miniscule target – probably just a couple of skinny cables. The elevator ‘cars’ would be no more at risk than a spacecraft climbing to orbit. As for the station at the orbital terminus of the elevator, the threat from space junk will be negligible in such a high orbit. Meteoroids will always be a problem, just as they are for the ISS and other spacecraft. The elevator could and probably should be fully automated, minimizing the number of people who have to spend long periods aboard it.

Jack will always be a problem. He doesn’t seem to have deterred the builders of the Burj Khalifa any.

Incidentally, would any science-minded reader care to speculate on what happens if the elevator cable does get cut? What will happen to the lower part – would it wrap itself round the equator? Or would it all fall in a lump on top of the earth terminus and smash it to atoms? What about the upper part, and the orbital station at the top? What would happen to them? And – oo, scary scary – what would happen to someone in a car that was ascending or descending the cable just as it was cut?

posted on Jul, 28 2011 @ 11:10 AM
reply to post by Astyanax

It would depend on where the cable was broken.

A cut closer to the ground would send the orbital terminus up, up and away into an unstable orbit. It could potentially drag the cable around the planet at some points in the orbit. A cut closer to the orbital terminus would cause the cable to fall down to Earth, while the orbital terminus again drifted out into an unstable orbit. While chances are slim that it would drape itself around the equator, it could happen. More likely it would simply pile up eastward of the cable base location. Neither of these scenarios would pose much threat, as the cable's mass would be so low that it couldn't damage anything too badly or on a global scale.

Being a passenger if the cable broke would not something I'd wish upon anyone. Surely, there would be safety mechanisms to provide for this, but for the sake of argument, let's say there aren't. If the cable car was below 20000 km, it will have a perigee intersecting with the planet's atmosphere. Its orbit will shortly degrade and it will burn up in the atmosphere. If it were between this altitude and geostationary it would enter an elliptical orbit with less degradation due to atmosphere. It would be able to return to its same altitude repeatedly, though in a different place over the planet. This could provide for an easy rescue mission. If the cable car were at geostationary orbit heights, it would simply float, relatively motionless, along with the orbital terminus.

posted on Jul, 30 2011 @ 11:59 AM
"Robots vs. Humans: Should we cede solar system exploration to the robots? Do humans have a place beyond low Earth orbit?"

Until we are able to access outer space without rockets... I think we should use mass-produced humanoid robots (like Robonaut) for space exploration. As pointed out in the linked article, it is a much cheaper method to explore. Only small rockets are necessary for robots to begin their exploration missions, as compared to those intended to maintain human life. Humanoid robots would give us the 'feel' of being at the destination, by communication.

A side benefit (spin-off technology) of mass-produced humanoid robots - they would also be very useful to human civilizations on Earth.

Human expansion into space, should await the availability of hyperspace technology.

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