What do you guys think of the new NASA mission?

Discussion in 'Lounge' started by Adrian Wong, Feb 3, 2010.

  1. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    Looks like the new US budget will give NASA more money but in return, kills their efforts to head back to the moon... and consequently, put the Mars mission on hold. What do you guys think?

    Is it a good idea to kill the Constellation program and let private companies develop rockets for NASA to use? Is it really better to do more research and development, than to actually work on sending more manned missions to the moon or Mars? :think:

  2. karhoe

    karhoe Newbie

    US can't affort it anymore, have a JV with China la
  3. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    LOL!!! I guess not, not with the economy in such a bad shape. Stocks are up, but unemployment is still very, very high.

    The thing is they are not cutting NASA's budget. They are actually increasing their budget. But in return, they want to cut Constellation off and buy commercial rockets, instead of building their own.
  4. Ishtim

    Ishtim Super Moderator

    THe current administration has NO clear cut objectives in terms of space. What they don't mention is the HUGE amount of $$$ lost if the constellation program is ditched. :nuts: I can't wait for a new leader with some b@||s. :snooty:
  5. belikethat

    belikethat Just Started

    don`t really give a damn. all i can say is better but money into other stuff
  6. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    Sigh... That's what I thought too... If you kill Constellation, then you will have to rely on the private sector to get you up into space. That means Mars is scraped for sure, and so is a return to the moon.

    With that said, they did say they would be increasing NASA's funding for serious research into better technologies. Would that be a better "long term" plan? Or would it be better to use it to at least finance a return to the moon?

    For certain, setting an aim to send a man to Mars in the near future will be far more exciting than just researching new technologies for some undefined "future" mission... :think:
  7. Brian

    Brian Newbie

    I actually think that what NASA is doing is a good thing for the science it does. Human spaceflight involves considerably more resources than robotic missions, and cancelling Constellation should allow for more robotic missions which will be able to explore many more places in the Solar System.
  8. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    That's true... but robotic missions are harder to sell to the public. There is still a desire for most people to see a man actually step foot on Mars (or whatever planet we aim to "conquer"). It's just something we "must" do before we can say we were "there".

    Robert Zubrin seems to think we already have the capability to go to Mars. So I guess people will be wondering why aren't we putting a concrete plan to land on Mars?

    With that said, America's economic troubles make this about the worst time possible to expand the space program. Still, I don't see why building rockets should be left to commercial interests...

    What do you guys think?
  9. Brian

    Brian Newbie

    Put it this way: Getting men to Mars isn't impossible, but world peace isn't impossible either.

    Why? Let me list the technical challenges:

    1) Time taken to travel to Mars from Earth: 6 months with current tech, reduced to approximately 6-8 weeks if ion thrusters, which are currently operational on small engines, and medium sized prototypes (VASIMR) have only recently come into fruition, and they're a far cry from whatever's needed to propel a medium sized craft to Mars

    2) Shielding is going to be a massive issue on the journey. Apollo astronauts had mission times of about a week in total, and a significant amount of time was spent in the Earth's magnetosphere, so while shielding from radiation was required, it could be reduced, saving weight, and of course the short mission times also helped. You would need a heck lot more shielding when you're on your way to Mars, precisely because the journey times are much longer, and the Earth's magnetic field isn't shepherding the solar wind/particles from the flares onto the poles. Mars also has an extremely weak magnetic field, about 1/10000 of Earth's magnetic field, so that doesn't help things much either. As a consequence the spacecraft is going to have to be much much heavier, and consequently much much more expensive to provide adequate shielding, even if you limit it to 'panic rooms' when there's some directed flare or something.

    3) The trip will be counted in months, not weeks. Any mission will, at the very least, take 2.5-4 months. The ISS is a great step in creating something resembling a semi-self sustaining spacecraft, except that it gets supplies quite regularly from the Soyuz spacecraft. This won't happen with the Mars mission, and again comes at the cost of increased weight, which increases costs again.

    Bottom line: Going to Mars is technically feasible, but no country (not even China with their warchest - I'm not even sure if their current warchest can fund the whole program) is going to want to do it by their own considering the costs of such a thing.

    But there are enabler technologies that can help make the costs significantly lower: space elevators for example.

    As to what I think about man going to Mars, well, let's put it this way, I probably view it with the same scepticism I viewed our Angkasawan going to space. There are better things to work on that'll make such journeys much more sustainable, because I don't want to see another Apollo moment where man goes to the moon a few times in a span of 3-4 years, and then abandons it for the next half century or so because the costs didn't justify the results from the successive missions, bar the first one.

    But of course I'm biased. I'd love to see them go up there with a much bigger Hubble (one's in the planning stages, but with all NASA projects, not all projects ultimately end up getting the green light), missions to Jupiter's moons, especially Europa.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2010
  10. Falcone

    Falcone Official Mascot Creator

    Honestly I'm a bit disappointed with the current administration, seems lack of direction... and b@||z.

    The JSF project is way out of hands as well.
  11. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    Yeah, I do agree with that. The challenge of providing sufficient supplies and the challenge of shielding the astronauts would be daunting using current technology. IMHO, any astronaut heading to Mars in the near future would have to take considerable risks to their well-being...

    But what I think is the problem is a perceived lack of direction. NASA doesn't seem to have been given a target to shoot at, just some vague references to developing new technologies.

    I know... shooting for Mars isn't like shooting for the moon. But it might be better if they actually said... "We will conquer Mars by 2040. NASA is hereby ordered to develop new technologies in the coming years so that Man will step foot on the red planet by 2040."

    And what's with the dropping of the Constellation project? I mean, its budget is running out of control (which NASA / military project isn't??), but why leave rocket building to commercial interests???
  12. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    Sigh... The Joint Strike Fighter. Why do they always run way out of budget??? :roll:

    Robert Gates is right in firing the general in charge of the program, and withholding money from Lockheed. It's time to put the foot down!
  13. Brian

    Brian Newbie

    That's what Bush had said, the Moon by 2020 with a view to building a base there to go to Mars. The thing is, he didn't fund it completely, but instead added a little bit, and expected NASA to reorganise its budget to prioritise this mission to the Moon using the Constellation program. This means taking out money from the smaller programs, e.g. new observatories, which is what really advances sciences like cosmology, advances our understanding of things like dark matter, gives us wonderful pictures of galaxies, stars, star clusters, nebulas, supernova renmants. For example, it's estimated that Hubble's total cost over the past ~20 years is about 10 billion USD, today's dollars.

    Constellation on the other hand has cost 8 billion USD in the 4-5 years since it was announced, and estimates are that it'll cost about 98-100 billion USD till 2020, not including the manned mission parts. You can imagine how much more costly it is, and of course, taking money away from other scientific programs that advance our understanding of not only the Solar System, but the Universe.

    Leaving rocket building to commercial interests is an interesting idea, and I think it'll actually work, and here's why: There is already a market for rocket launches to low Earth orbit for satellites, and even the ISS is in low Earth orbit, and their vision is that commercial interests will handle the low Earth stuff, leaving more NASA resources for concentrating on more powerful rockets to go beyond LEO.

    Human exploration isn't worth the cost compared to the science gained, being 10-100x the cost of what robotic missions can do. It's another bloody Angkasawan case IMO, one that's made for pride and little else, and while I understand the 'niceness' of knowing that Man stepped foot on the Moon, the cost differential right now isn't worth it, and it's much better to concentrate on projects that'll reduce this cost differential before we go on to send people to Mars.
  14. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    Hmm.. I thought they are going to leave all rocket building to commercial interests? I didn't know NASA was going to be doing any serious rocketry after this... :think:

    Yeah, Constellation would definitely cost a BOMB. The thing is... if we leave it to commercial interests to build future rockets, what's there to assure us that it won't be as bloated as Constellation... if not even worse? After all, they would be trying to maximize profits, instead of concentrating on safety.

    Hahaha.. I agree. Sending any human to anywhere in space will definitely cost many, many times more than pure robotic missions. However, I think many folks do not quite understand these robotic missions, or why we should spend so much money on these missions when the economy is in such a bad shape.

    It would be hard to sell such expensive missions to the people unless there's a human element to the project. Robotic missions are just too "detached" for most people. Given a choice between spending 100 billion dollars to send 20 robotic probes to Mars, or 1 trillion to send just one man to Mars, I believe most people will opt to send the one man.

    PS. I think we should still send someone to the moon so we can prove once and for all that the Apollo missions to the moon were not a hoax! :haha:
  15. Brian

    Brian Newbie

    For manned missions, there's the ever dependendable Soyuz capsules (which have been used as a transport to the ISS, except that it has a much lower profile than the shuttle).

    For commercial launches, there's the Russians, Ariane, Delta rockets by the DoD in the US (separate from NASA), etc, etc.

    It's not much harder to sell robotic missions, because they're simply just so much cheaper. 500million to 2 billion per project, vs. 200 billion? Consider the popularity of the Mars robotic missions too, that did inspire a lot of people.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2010
  16. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    Oh yeah, the Mars rovers were a major hit! :thumb:
  17. Dashken

    Dashken Administrator!

    And also the Stargate Command program. :shifty:
  18. Trinity

    Trinity Little Kiki Staff Member

    I've noticed that you like stargate over the last few years.:) I wonder, Did you ever watch Babylon 5? You like it? I have been rewatching it all again lately.:)
  19. Dashken

    Dashken Administrator!

    Yup, I watched Babylon 5 before. Like a girl there... forgot what's her name. :mrgreen:

    But Stargate SG1 is somehow different, longer... 10 seasons... plus 2 movies. Stargate Atlantis was not bad as well, although need some warm up initially. :D

    As for Stargate Universe, wow... this one need a lot of warm up. 1st season finished, and I'm still warming up. :faint:
  20. Trinity

    Trinity Little Kiki Staff Member

    Wow ten seasons... I was just gonna say you would need some SERIOUS hdd space... then looked at your siggi...

    :shock: :haha: :haha: :haha: :haha: :haha: :thumb:

    "Like a girl there... forgot what's her name. :mrgreen:"

    My favorite girl from Babylon 5 is Susan Ivanova.:)
    Susan Ivanova - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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