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Thread: The United States is OUT OF THE SPACE BUSINESS

  1. #21
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    Default Re: The United States is OUT OF THE SPACE BUSINESS

    OMG... increase NASA's budget by 6 billion dollars over the next 6 years.....
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    Default Re: The United States is OUT OF THE SPACE BUSINESS

    Ramp up robotic missions

    Mars missions

    bigger telescope

    INCREASES EARTH BASED OBSERVATION (to understand global warming of course)

    Extend the space station....

    PRIVATE sector to get into space more affordable....

    hmmm sounds like the Orion effort will come BACK online...
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: The United States is OUT OF THE SPACE BUSINESS

    3 billion more invested in a heavy lift rocket.

    2015 finalized rocket design, then build it.....

    Other ground break technology (whatever that means).

    (he mentioned harnessing resources on other worlds).

    "Leap into the future!"

    Boy, I can tell when this guy is lying.... wow. He made a comment about harsh words with people he high respect for, and stuck his tongue FIRMLY in his cheek for the camera.

    Amazing.


    Constellation program is canceled.

    (Personally, I can't see ANY private companies going to invest in this.... the government is taking more out of them than they can give).

    2025... we will return to space.

    Too late for most of us.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: The United States is OUT OF THE SPACE BUSINESS

    I am severely disappointed in him. In more than taxes, and socialism. Of all things I thought he would go on with space exploration (ramping up NOW, rather than another 30-40 years from now) and push America onward, upward.

    Obama just broke his very last hold he might have had on America by doing this.

    The Chinese will be on the moon in less than 5 years. The Russians will get there sooner now. And they will use OUR money to do it.

    The "Final Frontier" is closed to the United States now unless American COMPANIES can get us up and out there.

    I am a 53 year old man who sat and watched with bated breath as Alan Sheppard went into space, and later John Glenn orbited the planet. The Cold War was going on, but we had COMPETITION, a REASON.

    Obama gives us no reason to go on. For me, the science fiction future I read and enjoyed as a boy has died today. The last remaining "frontier" for me is the sea.


    "Sea-Fever"

    I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
    And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
    And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
    And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

    I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
    Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
    And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
    And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

    I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
    To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
    And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
    And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

    By John Masefield (1878-1967).
    (English Poet Laureate, 1930-1967.)
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: The United States is OUT OF THE SPACE BUSINESS

    Sheppard Smith is all giddy like a school girl.

    He makes me ill. I wish MSNBC would hire him.
    Libertatem Prius!


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  6. #26
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    Default Re: The United States is OUT OF THE SPACE BUSINESS

    Man on TV with Smith now, Homer Hickman:

    http://www.homerhickam.com/cgi-bin/blog.cgi

    Dear Astronauts... - 2010-04-12 17:42:31

    Dear Astronauts of the Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas:

    I just had to write you. I know I said I wasn't going to comment on NASA anymore in my last blog titled "Homer Shrugs," but the bad news keeps getting worse so I'm driven to the computer.

    In case you haven't been paying attention, it appears that the Obama Administration simply is not going to listen to anyone and is going to proceed on its plans to shut down NASA's human spaceflight program. That means you have a target on your back (and your front, too). President Obama will be making a quick touchdown at Kennedy Space Center to announce this plan on Thursday, probably couching it in obtuse, meaningless inspirational language including a vacuous call to send Americans to Mars. He also will announce an increase to NASA's budget, then leap back onto Air Force One to go to Gloria Estefan's Miami mansion for a $30,000 a plate fundraiser.

    Of course, he won't mention that most of that increase is going to be used to shut down NASA facilities, pay the Russians off, and create study after endless study that will go absolutely nowhere. You do realize that, don't you?

    Mars? If we can't go to the moon, we sure can't go to Mars. It's idiotic to think we will without a real plan and there is no real plan except to use NASA as a slush fund to try to prove global warming. John Holdren, the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is a climate change loon who now has his hands on all the levers to make NASA into his image. In more serious societies, John Holdren would not be allowed anywhere near the center of power. He would be the daffy professor on the old bike teetering to his class where his students would snicker at him and throw spitballs when he turned his back. What have we come to in this country to put such a man over our space and science programs?

    So listen to me carefully, all you in the CB Office of JSC, i.e. astronauts. Make no mistake. The Obama/Holdren plan means no more of you are going to fly into space except for maybe a few every year (for a little while) as passengers with the Russians. For those few of you who get to play spam in the can, we taxpayers get to pay through the nose to the tune of fifty million dollars for each seat you occupy. What you get to do, besides fly (don't touch anything, now), is to pretend that those smirks on the faces of your Russian trainers aren't because you are the representatives of a once great space power now reduced to the capability of, I don't know, say, Belgium.

    Right now, there are around 120 of you in the Astronaut Office at Johnson Space Center. Most of you are now out of a job whether you are willing to admit it or not. You are NOT going to fly into space. You ARE going to be allowed to wear your blue suits and go around and pretend to be astronauts. Space campers are going to laugh at you since the kids will have better training facilities than you do. The Obama/Holdren plan is going to end up with Johnson Space Center tagged with a great big placard that announces: ABANDON IN PLACE.

    The only way to head all this nonsense off, in my opinion, is for at least ONE of you to stand up and announce you have had it and you aren't going to take it any more. Is there not one of you willing to resign in the face of this treachery by NASA Administrator (and former astronaut) Charlie Bolden? Or at least voice a dissenting opinion?

    You have your jobs because of the courage of men like Alan Shepard. What do you think Admiral Shepard would have done if the likes of John Holdren prissed himself up and said he was going to shut down the space program? After Herr Professor picked up his teeth, Shepard would have announced to the world he was no longer going to be a part of a hollow program and was going back to flying jets for the U. S. Navy. Just about every astronaut of the old breed would have done the same. How about you?

    In my opinion, the only people left who can derail the end of NASA are you, the astronauts. During my entire time at NASA, every engineer, manager, technician, and janitor deferred to you. We treated you like gods. Nothing you said was ever wrong. How about giving a little back now? Stop this thing. Stand up and tell the world the emperor isn't wearing any clothes, that the space program he touts will destroy your hopes and dreams, not to mention all those who have supported you so well. What are you waiting for? Are you afraid it will keep you from flying? Get over it. You're not going anywhere unless you lower yourself to kowtow to your masters to crawl aboard the Russian Soyuz leaving the rest of your buddies still stranded on Earth. That's demeaning. You're better than that. Aren't you? The Right Stuff, remember?

    So, there it is, my challenge to all the residents of the Astronaut Office. Let the powers that be know what you think. Show all deference to the President or the Administrator or even John Holdren but after you're through shaking their hands or saluting them, whatever is proper, turn your back on them. And you might also want to hold up a single finger showing that you believe the United States should still be the #1 space power. The choice of finger is up to you.

    Your former colleague,

    Homer Hickam
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: The United States is OUT OF THE SPACE BUSINESS

    Homer Shrugs - 2010-04-07 07:19:40
    http://www.homerhickam.com/cgi-bin/blog.cgi?id=48

    Dear Readers:

    Well, here it is April, 2010, and the dust still hasn't quite settled on the Obama's Administration's 2011 budget proposal which cancelled NASA's plan to return Americans to the moon, recommended increased reliance on commercial firms to carry Americans into low earth orbit, and a smorgasbord of baffling, nonspecific ideas for going into deep space.

    As many folks know, I wrote a series of blogs posted on www.homerhickam.com that reflected my opinion of this new plan—commercial companies, si, everything else no—plus some particularly harsh and unhappy commentary directed at NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden who I consider at best inept, over his head, and the poster child for the Peter Principle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Principle). Otherwise, he's a nice guy.

    In a few days, President Obama, Charlie Bolden, John Holdren (head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy) and other minions, sycophants, and gadflies will descend on Kennedy Space Center to make a number of announcements and pronouncements concerning the future of the American space program.

    Quite honestly, at this point, I don't much care what they announce and pronounce. I do not think any of them are capable of organizing a DAR scrap drive. This includes Senator Bill Nelson who is about a mile wide and a millimeter deep when it comes to almost any intellectual pursuit. Am I being unkind to all concerned? I don't care. They've made me lose sleep, worrying about their erratic drive toward spaceflight mediocrity.

    With this crowd, all I can do is hope they won't screw things up so much it can't be fixed later. My guess is after they're done talking, we still won't know what's actually going to happen, mainly because they don't know, either. These are folks who, in more serious times, might be considered, well, loons. President Obama operates at about 110,000 feet (e.g., he still can't tell anyone what's in his health care plan after all these months of angst), Charlie Bolden would rather be home with his grandkids (great idea), John Holdren is a radical "global warmer" (which requires a suspension of intellectual curiosity), and Bill Nelson is a space who needs to be filled (with someone else). The rest make Lady Gaga look smart.

    Recognizing the futility of worrying any more about all of this, I have other things I need to do. For one thing, I'm behind on my next novel which is due this summer. Writing is what I do for a living and my passion so I need to meet my deadlines. I also have two other books (My Dream of Stars out now, and The Dinosaur Hunter out this November) that I need to market. I also have a beautiful wife—and a family (OK, they're cats but I love them) I need to pay more attention to. For the last few days, I've been wall to wall on radio and television in support of my beloved coal miners in their hour of need after a horrendous accident. So, therefore and consequently, I'm going to stop fretting about our space program and wait until there's someone in charge who (a) has a scintilla of sense, and (b) might actually listen. In effect, when it comes to space policy, this Atlas is going to shrug.

    With that said, I make these last (for now) comments, suggestions, and facts concerning the future of the United States in space:

    • The most important events of this spring or early summer isn't anything President Obama is going to say or propose. It is:

    — The launch of the X-37, a prototype space plane by the United States Air Force.

    — The launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9.

    • The X-37, if successful, could be the basis for a crew and cargo reusable launch/reentry vehicle. NASA should embrace this technology. Buzz Aldrin is correct that the American people don't want our astronauts to be spam in the can and land in the ocean. They want to see them glide to a landing. Fair enough.

    • The Falcon 9 and its Dragon payload (just a mockup on the first flight) could hold the key to a relatively inexpensive option for Americans and especially our cargo to fly into low earth orbit. I've been following SpaceX from its very beginning and am very impressed with this little company. I hope it gets to fly humans into low earth orbit, too. But since Dragon uses parachutes to land, I still want us to have the winged option (i.e. a scaled-up X-37).

    • To continue to fly the space shuttle would be a great mistake. I have described this vehicle as the USA's space equivalent of Vietnam. It is a grand effort that is too expensive and relies on a design that is inherently flawed (see here for more: http://www.homerhickam.com/books/other.shtml. Read especially my editorial "Not a Culture But Perhaps A Cult"). Bottom line, we need to get the shuttle behind us, grand though the program may have been. God knows, I loved working with those old girls even if they were too expensive and often dangerous (sort of like Penelope in my novel The Ambassador's Son. Lovely to look at and to hold but she might cut off your head).

    • A heavy lifter based on the space shuttle stack design is a pretty good idea. This is the old Shuttle-C concept. I recall seeing a full scale mockup with wiring harness in a Marshall Space Flight Center hangar back in the 1980's. I would recommend that one or two be launched every year. Doing what? Space telescopes are great ideas. So are tether systems. I'd also like to see a Buzz Aldrin Cycler launched (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_cycler). Why not build a spacecraft that will allow us (or anyone who pays for it) to hitch a ride to the moon? They could be built with the ISS crews playing blue collar construction workers. What a concept! I think the American people (and the world) would be thrilled by one or more of these spacecraft out there, ready for occupation.

    • Let's not forget the Delta IV and Atlas V. These are very capable heavy lifters. And they work! And we own them! Let's use them everywhere it makes sense.

    • It's just silly to think we can send humans to Mars right now based on our presently available technology. To go now, we'd have to use chemical rockets. Chemical rockets are quite energetic but they have to operate quickly as they burn their propellant in prodigious gulps. This means a Mars-bound crewed spacecraft is going to be boosted to escape velocity and then, in effect, leisurely drift to Mars. One thing we know about space and micro-gravity. It is dangerous to the health of human beings. It is simply too dangerous to drift out to that far-away planet. Crews would arrive radioactive and with atrophied muscles and wasted bones. To send humans to Mars would also require a huge national and international effort building a vastly complex spacecraft with (probably) nuclear engines (go here for more on that: http://www.homerhickam.com/about/interviews.shtml and click on the nuclear rocketry interview). Since I think this bunch in the White House and NASA Headquarters couldn't organize a boy scout jamboree, it is laughable to imagine them leading such an effort. If the Obama Administration announces it's going to Mars, you can bet what it really means is it's going to study going to Mars, only to abandon the idea later (probably announcing it on a Friday evening). Sad, sad, but true. Trust me.

    • The moon is the obvious destination for spacefarers with our present technology. So much can be done there. I've said my piece on this, both in my blogs (http://www.homerhickam.com/cgi-bin/blog.cgi) and in my novel Back to the Moon (http://www.homerhickam.com/books/moon.shtml). I'm not trying to convince anybody at this point. Read them if you wish. Or opt for Mars. Good luck on that. Let me know how you made out.

    So, OK, that's it for now. My hat's off to all those who continue to toil along the pathways to space even with all the unnecessary obstacles put in your way. You are a special people and I'm proud of you. The rest of you—Bolden, Holdren, Obama, Nelson, et al, fie on you and everyone who think like you. Go away as soon as possible, please.

    Shrugging - Your Faithful Writer,

    Homer Hickam
    www.homerhickam.com
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: The United States is OUT OF THE SPACE BUSINESS

    Buzz Aldrin's Roadmap To Mars - A PM Exclusive

    So far, NASA's plan to reach the red planet has been short on detail. Here, in a PM exclusive, Apollo astronaut BUZZ ALDRIN unveils his own step-by-step proposal for mankind's next giant leap.



    By Buzz Aldrin with David Noland



    In 1961, NASA was mulling over two possible flight plans to put a man on the moon. While agency officials argued the merits of Earth Orbit Rendezvous versus Direct Ascent, John C. Houbolt, a little-known engineer at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., came up with a daring and ingenious alternative: Lunar Orbit Rendezvous. LOR, which would require two spacecraft to link up a quarter-million miles from Earth, initially struck many people—me included—as dangerously complex, even bizarre. But Houbolt stubbornly kept pushing his plan, and the elegant logic of LOR eventually won over the skeptics. On July 20, 1969, thanks to Houbolt's persistence, Neil Armstrong and I walked on the moon.

    More than three decades later, as NASA debates how to send humans to Mars, it's time once again to invoke the outside-the-box spirit of John Houbolt. NASA's latest thinking for a manned Mars mission is basically the Apollo program writ large: a massive disposable spacecraft that must be boosted from Earth to interplanetary velocity, and then slowed back down to alight on Mars. This flight plan has a huge energy requirement that translates directly into size, complexity and cost. Because each mission would be so extremely expensive, it's all too likely that such a program will lead to the kind of short-term "footprints and flagpoles" thinking that eventually killed Apollo.

    We can do better this time. My blueprint for manned travel to Mars, based on reusable spacecraft that continuously cycle between Earth and Mars in permanent orbits, requires much less energy over the long term. Once in place, a system of cycling spacecraft, with its dependable schedule and low sustaining cost, would open the door for routine travel to Mars and a permanent human presence on the red planet. Its long-term economic advantages make it less susceptible to cancellation by congressional or presidential whim. In effect, this system would go a long way toward politician-proofing the Mars program.





    FORWARD MOTION
    The key advantage of a permanently orbiting spacecraft, or Cycler, is that it must be accelerated only once. After its initial boost into a solar orbit swinging by both Mars and Earth, the Cycler coasts along through space on its own momentum, with only occasional nudges of thrust needed to stay on track. This dramatically reduces the total energy required for a Mars mission. Because conventional chemical rockets are so thirsty—the mass of the Apollo 11 craft that carried us to the moon was more than 90 percent fuel on takeoff—every pound saved pays a huge dividend in the form of less propellant and smaller, cheaper boosters.

    Once established in orbit with the long-term human survival systems, radiation shield and artificial gravity mechanism necessary for a lengthy space journey, the Cycler swings by Earth and Mars on a predictable schedule. Astronauts piloting "taxi" spacecraft, such as NASA's planned Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), rendezvous and dock with the Cycler as it passes Earth, using only the propellant necessary to accelerate the smaller craft. As the Cycler swings by Mars, the taxi casts off and brakes into Mars orbit, like a commuter stepping off a train. The Cycler, meanwhile, speeds on beyond Mars and eventually loops back toward Earth, ready for another passenger pickup.

    The idea of a Mars-Earth Cycler has been around since the 1960s. In one early scenario, space habitats called CASTLEs circled the sun in eccentric orbits that passed by both Earth and Mars. However, a Cycler using those orbits would take as long as 7-1/2 years to complete a round trip between the two planets, and the planetary encounters would be irregular. A reasonable Mars mission schedule would have required up to six such Cyclers in staggered orbits.

    It seemed to me there must be a more efficient way. Using techniques of orbital mechanics I'd developed at MIT during my Ph.D. studies, as well as firsthand insight gained by my flights on Gemini 12 and Apollo 11, I calculated that the time could be significantly reduced by using gravity assist from Earth to slingshot the Cycler into a better orbit.

    "Gravity assist" is a well-proven technique for interplanetary flight, routinely used on unmanned probes like Voyagers 1 and 2, Cassini-Huygens and Galileo. If a spacecraft flies close enough to a planet, its orbit will be bent by the planet's gravitational field. The process can be likened to a ball (the spacecraft) bouncing off a wall (the planet). If the wall is moving toward the ball, the rebound speed will be higher than the speed prior to impact. Similarly, if the wall is angled, the ball will change direction. In either case, a great deal of energy can be added to the spacecraft with no expenditure of propellant.

    By taking advantage of gravity assist from Earth, and to a lesser extent from Mars, I was able to plot a Cycler orbit with a round-trip period of just 26 months. The Cycler would take only five months to reach Mars, comparable to the fastest transit times that NASA is now considering.

    A downside of the gravity-assisted Cycler concept, however, is that the vehicle flies by Mars at quite a high speed, up to 27,000 mph. This velocity is not a showstopper on the outbound leg, where the CEV taxi craft would aerobrake, relying on the friction of the Martian atmosphere to slow down without using any propellant. But departing Mars for the leg back to Earth, the craft would need a large amount of propellant to catch up with the speeding Cycler.

    To circumvent this problem, I envision a hybrid craft called a Semi-Cycler for the return leg. Like the Cycler, the Semi-Cycler would shuttle between Earth and Mars in a gravity-assisted orbit. But it would use aerobraking in the Martian atmosphere to slow down, interrupt its cycle and loiter for four months in a wide, lazy orbit around Mars, waiting to pick up the next Earthbound taxi. With a flyby velocity as low as 5000 mph, the Semi-Cycler would be an easy target for a low-propellant taxi rendezvous. Once it discharged the spacecraft to aerobrake into the Earth's atmosphere, the Semi-Cycler would be slingshot on a circuitous 14-month route back to Mars for another run.

    One drawback of the Semi-Cycler is its need for propellant to accelerate out of Martian orbit back toward Earth. But compared to a direct flight in a conventional rocket, the overall savings are still substantial. A second drawback is a longer transit time back to Earth, about eight months. But with the help of top engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Purdue University and the University of Texas, I am continuing to refine Semi-Cycler orbits to achieve optimum transit times, orbital periods and flyby velocities.



    TECH SUPPORT
    The Cycler itself is only the capstone of a long process of space development. NASA's proposal to revisit the moon using a CEV is a first step in the right direction. A second step would include exploratory flights to Mars's moon Phobos, which would serve as an early launchpad to the planet's surface. Creating a sustainable Mars transportation system, though, would require a huge support infrastructure.

    A permanent base on the moon would use lunar ice to produce liquid oxygen and hydrogen fuel for the taxi's sprint to catch the Cycler. NASA's Clementine and Lunar Prospector missions in the 1990s discovered tantalizing hints that ice might exist deep inside craters near the lunar poles.

    Liquid oxygen and methane fuel for the outbound taxis, Semi-Cycler and a Mars lander/ascender would be manufactured at a permanent base on Mars. The propellant plant would combine a feedstock of liquid hydrogen with carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere. If frozen water can be mined from under the poles, where recent Mars rover missions have detected it, hydrogen could also be produced.

    A fleet of unmanned freighters would resupply the Cyclers and surface bases on Mars and the moon. Because they can be launched years in advance, instead of chemical rockets the freighters could use the efficient, low-thrust ion-drive engines, too slow for manned travel, that were tested on NASA's Deep Space 1 probe in 1998.

    OUTBOUND JOURNEY
    How would the Mars Cycler System work on a practical level? Fast-forward to the year 2040, and climb aboard for a five-year hitch in the Red Planet Corps.

    You and your fellow astronauts (I envision a crew of about eight) launch from Earth in a CEV-type taxi spacecraft fueled by a high-performance hydrogen booster. While in low Earth orbit, your CEV docks with a Mars lander and a propulsion module previously launched from Earth. Linked up in this Apollo-style triple unit, you burn into a highly elliptical six-day "marshalling" orbit around the Earth that takes you roughly halfway out to the moon. There, you join up with a resupply ship carrying a load of liquid oxygen and hydrogen fuel manufactured on the moon. You top off the tanks of your propulsion module so that you can catch up with the Cycler, which is now fast approaching Earth.

    The Trans-Mars Injection burn lasts about 7 minutes at an acceleration of about 2 g's. If you've done it right, you rendezvous with the Cycler about 10 days later, a million miles out from Earth. The CEV and Mars lander separate from each other and dock at the hub of the Cycler (see lead illustration), which is spinning lazily to simulate Mars's gravity—38 percent that of Earth's. You transfer from the CEV into the habitation module, which is stocked with food, water, a radiation shield and all the necessities for a long-term journey. Here's your chance to finish War and Peace; there's not much to do for the next five months.

    As you approach Mars, it's back into the CEV for the descent to Mars orbit. Wave goodbye to the Cycler and, with lander still attached, enter the Martian atmosphere for a few minutes of aerobraking before you skip back out into a low orbit. Here, you transfer into the lander—just like Neil Armstrong and I did on Apollo 11—undock from your faithful CEV and fire the lander's retrorockets for the descent to the surface. Using aerobraking, a parachute and precision rocket braking, you touch down at the main base.

    Expect a champagne welcome from the crew that's still there from the previous mission, which landed 26 months earlier. They're already looking forward to using your Mars lander/ascender to head for home 18 months from now. You, however, have to wait substantially longer than that for your own rotation back to Earth.



    RETURN TRIP
    For the next 44 months, you explore the Martian surface, monitor a number of research projects and manage the all-important fuel-making plant. In Month 18, you send off your compatriots. Month 26 brings the arrival of the next crew and the lander/ascender you'll be using to start your eventual journey home. You then launch a refueling rocket to top off the tanks of the CEV the arriving crew left in orbit. Around Month 38, the Semi-Cycler arrives and aerobrakes into its four-month Mars orbit; you might see the bright streak as it hurtles through the upper atmosphere. As departure time draws near, the Semi-Cycler drops down into low orbit to link up with the still-orbiting CEV. You send up an unmanned rocket with fuel for the Semi-Cycler.

    When it's time to go, your crew fuels up the lander/ascender and lifts off into Martian orbit to rendezvous and dock with the Semi-Cycler, now joined with the CEV. After a modest return-to-Earth burn, your Semi-Cycler departs Mars orbit for the eight-month trip home.

    Once on the proper trajectory, you float in zero-g; the Semi-Cycler doesn't spin. I believe that artificial gravity won't be necessary on the homebound leg because the effects of long-term weightlessness (see "The Challenges of Interplanetary Travel," page 6) aren't as problematic upon returning to Earth's full gravity. Restorative exercises, in fact, will provide a fine opportunity to reflect upon your epochal journey.

    As Earth closes in, the CEV detaches from the Semi-Cycler and aerobrakes into the Earth's atmosphere. The recovery chute deploys as you descend to a final touchdown, either into the ocean next to a waiting recovery ship or on land. The Semi-Cycler, meanwhile, whizzes on by Earth and gets slingshot back onto its return trajectory.

    LOOKING AHEAD
    The Cycler system alters not only the economics of a Mars program, but also the philosophy behind it. It makes possible the dream of regular flights to Mars and a permanent human presence there. Instead of a wasteful, short-term, "let's just get there as soon as possible" approach, the Cycler sets the stage for long-term thinking, planning and commitment. That's the only way we'll ever succeed in taking mankind's next giant leap: a subway-in-the-sky between our planet and our future second home.



    MARS EXPLORATION ALREADY UNDER WAY
    IN ORBIT: The Mars Global Surveyor arrived in orbit in 1997, and has since mapped the entire surface of the planet. Four years ago it was joined by 2001 Mars Odyssey (1), which detected huge reserves of frozen water beneath the Martian poles and tested radiation levels to prepare for future astronauts. The European Space Agency's first Mars mission, the Mars Express, entered orbit in January 2004.

    ON THE SURFACE: Spirit (2) and Opportunity, the two Mars Exploration Rovers, landed on the surface in January 2004. Equipped with cameras and an array of spectrometers, the rovers set out to examine rocks and soils for signs of past activity by water. Designed to last 90 days, both vehicles are still beaming back information in late 2005.

    EN ROUTE: The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (3), launched in August 2005, will reach Mars in March 2006. The high-resolution camera it carries will zoom in on objects only 3 ft. wide, and its high-speed communications—10 times faster than that of any previous orbiter—could help beam back data from future Mars missions.

    COMING SOON: Next to touch down on Mars will be the Phoenix (4), scheduled for launch in 2007. It will land at the planet's northern pole and, using a robotic arm, dig for the frozen water detected by the Odyssey. In 2009, NASA will send another rover to Mars, twice as long and three times as heavy as the current rovers. This one will analyze terrain in more detail, vaporizing rock surfaces with a laser to search for the building blocks of life.—Alex Hutchinson



















    THE CHALLENGES OF INTERPLANETARY TRAVEL
    Even with a route mapped out, getting to Mars presents extraordinary difficulties. The Cycler's artificial gravity will ease the zero-g problems of muscle atrophy, bone loss and heart arrhythmia, but space travel is still an ordeal for the body. Another obstacle: how to propel payloads to support a Mars base. A Cycler system reduces the amount of propellant required, but improvements to propulsion may make it even more practical.—A.H.


    RADIATION: Cosmic radiation and deadly solar flares could be the greatest risk to Mars-bound travelers. The concrete blocks used for shielding in nuclear plants are too heavy to bring along, but certain plastics, along with plain water, can block some particles. A more futuristic approach would be to surround the spaceship with a magnetic shield, which would deflect radiation like a miniature version of Earth's magnetic field.

    STRESS: Cabin fever will be a problem for long-haul space travelers, possibly leading to boredom, depression and even violent disputes. Disrupted sleep cycles make it worse: With no 24-hour light cycle, astronauts sleep an average of 6 hours a day. A successful crew will need to be fully alert and cooperative, so scientists are researching ways to fool circadian rhythms with artificial sunlight and drugs. Sensors able to read facial expressions might predict when an astronaut is in a poor emotional state. And, of course, potential astronauts will be rigorously screened to make sure they are stable from the start.

    INFECTIONS: Other potential dangers in a tightly sealed spaceship include drug-resistant microbes and chemical leaks, like the antifreeze seeping from an air conditioner that caused breathing problems for cosmonauts aboard the Mir space station in 1997. Scientists at Boston University are developing a biosensor that will recognize the surface shape of harmful microbes, allowing the air quality in the crew's quarters to be continuously monitored with extreme sensitivity.


    Aldrin's plan calls for both chemical rockets (for the CEV) and ion drives (for unmanned freighters); the Cycler simply coasts along in high-speed orbit. The downside of high-thrust chemical rockets is that they burn a lot of propellant. The ion drive (left) is extremely efficient, but takes a long time to pick up speed. To get there faster, engineers can squeeze 100 times more power from an ion drive by using nuclear fission. Or they can skip the ion drive and use nuclear thermal propulsion, in which a nuclear reaction heats a gas and expels it from the rocket. Both methods have potential, but budget cuts have put the future of NASA's nuclear research program, Prometheus, in doubt.





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    Default Re: The United States is OUT OF THE SPACE BUSINESS

    Buzz Aldrin's Roadmap To Mars - A PM Exclusive

    So far, NASA's plan to reach the red planet has been short on detail. Here, in a PM exclusive, Apollo astronaut BUZZ ALDRIN unveils his own step-by-step proposal for mankind's next giant leap.



    By Buzz Aldrin with David Noland



    In 1961, NASA was mulling over two possible flight plans to put a man on the moon. While agency officials argued the merits of Earth Orbit Rendezvous versus Direct Ascent, John C. Houbolt, a little-known engineer at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., came up with a daring and ingenious alternative: Lunar Orbit Rendezvous. LOR, which would require two spacecraft to link up a quarter-million miles from Earth, initially struck many people—me included—as dangerously complex, even bizarre. But Houbolt stubbornly kept pushing his plan, and the elegant logic of LOR eventually won over the skeptics. On July 20, 1969, thanks to Houbolt's persistence, Neil Armstrong and I walked on the moon.

    More than three decades later, as NASA debates how to send humans to Mars, it's time once again to invoke the outside-the-box spirit of John Houbolt. NASA's latest thinking for a manned Mars mission is basically the Apollo program writ large: a massive disposable spacecraft that must be boosted from Earth to interplanetary velocity, and then slowed back down to alight on Mars. This flight plan has a huge energy requirement that translates directly into size, complexity and cost. Because each mission would be so extremely expensive, it's all too likely that such a program will lead to the kind of short-term "footprints and flagpoles" thinking that eventually killed Apollo.

    We can do better this time. My blueprint for manned travel to Mars, based on reusable spacecraft that continuously cycle between Earth and Mars in permanent orbits, requires much less energy over the long term. Once in place, a system of cycling spacecraft, with its dependable schedule and low sustaining cost, would open the door for routine travel to Mars and a permanent human presence on the red planet. Its long-term economic advantages make it less susceptible to cancellation by congressional or presidential whim. In effect, this system would go a long way toward politician-proofing the Mars program.





    FORWARD MOTION
    The key advantage of a permanently orbiting spacecraft, or Cycler, is that it must be accelerated only once. After its initial boost into a solar orbit swinging by both Mars and Earth, the Cycler coasts along through space on its own momentum, with only occasional nudges of thrust needed to stay on track. This dramatically reduces the total energy required for a Mars mission. Because conventional chemical rockets are so thirsty—the mass of the Apollo 11 craft that carried us to the moon was more than 90 percent fuel on takeoff—every pound saved pays a huge dividend in the form of less propellant and smaller, cheaper boosters.

    Once established in orbit with the long-term human survival systems, radiation shield and artificial gravity mechanism necessary for a lengthy space journey, the Cycler swings by Earth and Mars on a predictable schedule. Astronauts piloting "taxi" spacecraft, such as NASA's planned Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), rendezvous and dock with the Cycler as it passes Earth, using only the propellant necessary to accelerate the smaller craft. As the Cycler swings by Mars, the taxi casts off and brakes into Mars orbit, like a commuter stepping off a train. The Cycler, meanwhile, speeds on beyond Mars and eventually loops back toward Earth, ready for another passenger pickup.

    The idea of a Mars-Earth Cycler has been around since the 1960s. In one early scenario, space habitats called CASTLEs circled the sun in eccentric orbits that passed by both Earth and Mars. However, a Cycler using those orbits would take as long as 7-1/2 years to complete a round trip between the two planets, and the planetary encounters would be irregular. A reasonable Mars mission schedule would have required up to six such Cyclers in staggered orbits.

    It seemed to me there must be a more efficient way. Using techniques of orbital mechanics I'd developed at MIT during my Ph.D. studies, as well as firsthand insight gained by my flights on Gemini 12 and Apollo 11, I calculated that the time could be significantly reduced by using gravity assist from Earth to slingshot the Cycler into a better orbit.

    "Gravity assist" is a well-proven technique for interplanetary flight, routinely used on unmanned probes like Voyagers 1 and 2, Cassini-Huygens and Galileo. If a spacecraft flies close enough to a planet, its orbit will be bent by the planet's gravitational field. The process can be likened to a ball (the spacecraft) bouncing off a wall (the planet). If the wall is moving toward the ball, the rebound speed will be higher than the speed prior to impact. Similarly, if the wall is angled, the ball will change direction. In either case, a great deal of energy can be added to the spacecraft with no expenditure of propellant.

    By taking advantage of gravity assist from Earth, and to a lesser extent from Mars, I was able to plot a Cycler orbit with a round-trip period of just 26 months. The Cycler would take only five months to reach Mars, comparable to the fastest transit times that NASA is now considering.

    A downside of the gravity-assisted Cycler concept, however, is that the vehicle flies by Mars at quite a high speed, up to 27,000 mph. This velocity is not a showstopper on the outbound leg, where the CEV taxi craft would aerobrake, relying on the friction of the Martian atmosphere to slow down without using any propellant. But departing Mars for the leg back to Earth, the craft would need a large amount of propellant to catch up with the speeding Cycler.

    To circumvent this problem, I envision a hybrid craft called a Semi-Cycler for the return leg. Like the Cycler, the Semi-Cycler would shuttle between Earth and Mars in a gravity-assisted orbit. But it would use aerobraking in the Martian atmosphere to slow down, interrupt its cycle and loiter for four months in a wide, lazy orbit around Mars, waiting to pick up the next Earthbound taxi. With a flyby velocity as low as 5000 mph, the Semi-Cycler would be an easy target for a low-propellant taxi rendezvous. Once it discharged the spacecraft to aerobrake into the Earth's atmosphere, the Semi-Cycler would be slingshot on a circuitous 14-month route back to Mars for another run.

    One drawback of the Semi-Cycler is its need for propellant to accelerate out of Martian orbit back toward Earth. But compared to a direct flight in a conventional rocket, the overall savings are still substantial. A second drawback is a longer transit time back to Earth, about eight months. But with the help of top engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Purdue University and the University of Texas, I am continuing to refine Semi-Cycler orbits to achieve optimum transit times, orbital periods and flyby velocities.



    TECH SUPPORT
    The Cycler itself is only the capstone of a long process of space development. NASA's proposal to revisit the moon using a CEV is a first step in the right direction. A second step would include exploratory flights to Mars's moon Phobos, which would serve as an early launchpad to the planet's surface. Creating a sustainable Mars transportation system, though, would require a huge support infrastructure.

    A permanent base on the moon would use lunar ice to produce liquid oxygen and hydrogen fuel for the taxi's sprint to catch the Cycler. NASA's Clementine and Lunar Prospector missions in the 1990s discovered tantalizing hints that ice might exist deep inside craters near the lunar poles.

    Liquid oxygen and methane fuel for the outbound taxis, Semi-Cycler and a Mars lander/ascender would be manufactured at a permanent base on Mars. The propellant plant would combine a feedstock of liquid hydrogen with carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere. If frozen water can be mined from under the poles, where recent Mars rover missions have detected it, hydrogen could also be produced.

    A fleet of unmanned freighters would resupply the Cyclers and surface bases on Mars and the moon. Because they can be launched years in advance, instead of chemical rockets the freighters could use the efficient, low-thrust ion-drive engines, too slow for manned travel, that were tested on NASA's Deep Space 1 probe in 1998.

    OUTBOUND JOURNEY
    How would the Mars Cycler System work on a practical level? Fast-forward to the year 2040, and climb aboard for a five-year hitch in the Red Planet Corps.

    You and your fellow astronauts (I envision a crew of about eight) launch from Earth in a CEV-type taxi spacecraft fueled by a high-performance hydrogen booster. While in low Earth orbit, your CEV docks with a Mars lander and a propulsion module previously launched from Earth. Linked up in this Apollo-style triple unit, you burn into a highly elliptical six-day "marshalling" orbit around the Earth that takes you roughly halfway out to the moon. There, you join up with a resupply ship carrying a load of liquid oxygen and hydrogen fuel manufactured on the moon. You top off the tanks of your propulsion module so that you can catch up with the Cycler, which is now fast approaching Earth.

    The Trans-Mars Injection burn lasts about 7 minutes at an acceleration of about 2 g's. If you've done it right, you rendezvous with the Cycler about 10 days later, a million miles out from Earth. The CEV and Mars lander separate from each other and dock at the hub of the Cycler (see lead illustration), which is spinning lazily to simulate Mars's gravity—38 percent that of Earth's. You transfer from the CEV into the habitation module, which is stocked with food, water, a radiation shield and all the necessities for a long-term journey. Here's your chance to finish War and Peace; there's not much to do for the next five months.

    As you approach Mars, it's back into the CEV for the descent to Mars orbit. Wave goodbye to the Cycler and, with lander still attached, enter the Martian atmosphere for a few minutes of aerobraking before you skip back out into a low orbit. Here, you transfer into the lander—just like Neil Armstrong and I did on Apollo 11—undock from your faithful CEV and fire the lander's retrorockets for the descent to the surface. Using aerobraking, a parachute and precision rocket braking, you touch down at the main base.

    Expect a champagne welcome from the crew that's still there from the previous mission, which landed 26 months earlier. They're already looking forward to using your Mars lander/ascender to head for home 18 months from now. You, however, have to wait substantially longer than that for your own rotation back to Earth.



    RETURN TRIP
    For the next 44 months, you explore the Martian surface, monitor a number of research projects and manage the all-important fuel-making plant. In Month 18, you send off your compatriots. Month 26 brings the arrival of the next crew and the lander/ascender you'll be using to start your eventual journey home. You then launch a refueling rocket to top off the tanks of the CEV the arriving crew left in orbit. Around Month 38, the Semi-Cycler arrives and aerobrakes into its four-month Mars orbit; you might see the bright streak as it hurtles through the upper atmosphere. As departure time draws near, the Semi-Cycler drops down into low orbit to link up with the still-orbiting CEV. You send up an unmanned rocket with fuel for the Semi-Cycler.

    When it's time to go, your crew fuels up the lander/ascender and lifts off into Martian orbit to rendezvous and dock with the Semi-Cycler, now joined with the CEV. After a modest return-to-Earth burn, your Semi-Cycler departs Mars orbit for the eight-month trip home.

    Once on the proper trajectory, you float in zero-g; the Semi-Cycler doesn't spin. I believe that artificial gravity won't be necessary on the homebound leg because the effects of long-term weightlessness (see "The Challenges of Interplanetary Travel," page 6) aren't as problematic upon returning to Earth's full gravity. Restorative exercises, in fact, will provide a fine opportunity to reflect upon your epochal journey.

    As Earth closes in, the CEV detaches from the Semi-Cycler and aerobrakes into the Earth's atmosphere. The recovery chute deploys as you descend to a final touchdown, either into the ocean next to a waiting recovery ship or on land. The Semi-Cycler, meanwhile, whizzes on by Earth and gets slingshot back onto its return trajectory.

    LOOKING AHEAD
    The Cycler system alters not only the economics of a Mars program, but also the philosophy behind it. It makes possible the dream of regular flights to Mars and a permanent human presence there. Instead of a wasteful, short-term, "let's just get there as soon as possible" approach, the Cycler sets the stage for long-term thinking, planning and commitment. That's the only way we'll ever succeed in taking mankind's next giant leap: a subway-in-the-sky between our planet and our future second home.



    MARS EXPLORATION ALREADY UNDER WAY
    IN ORBIT: The Mars Global Surveyor arrived in orbit in 1997, and has since mapped the entire surface of the planet. Four years ago it was joined by 2001 Mars Odyssey (1), which detected huge reserves of frozen water beneath the Martian poles and tested radiation levels to prepare for future astronauts. The European Space Agency's first Mars mission, the Mars Express, entered orbit in January 2004.

    ON THE SURFACE: Spirit (2) and Opportunity, the two Mars Exploration Rovers, landed on the surface in January 2004. Equipped with cameras and an array of spectrometers, the rovers set out to examine rocks and soils for signs of past activity by water. Designed to last 90 days, both vehicles are still beaming back information in late 2005.

    EN ROUTE: The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (3), launched in August 2005, will reach Mars in March 2006. The high-resolution camera it carries will zoom in on objects only 3 ft. wide, and its high-speed communications—10 times faster than that of any previous orbiter—could help beam back data from future Mars missions.

    COMING SOON: Next to touch down on Mars will be the Phoenix (4), scheduled for launch in 2007. It will land at the planet's northern pole and, using a robotic arm, dig for the frozen water detected by the Odyssey. In 2009, NASA will send another rover to Mars, twice as long and three times as heavy as the current rovers. This one will analyze terrain in more detail, vaporizing rock surfaces with a laser to search for the building blocks of life.—Alex Hutchinson



















    THE CHALLENGES OF INTERPLANETARY TRAVEL
    Even with a route mapped out, getting to Mars presents extraordinary difficulties. The Cycler's artificial gravity will ease the zero-g problems of muscle atrophy, bone loss and heart arrhythmia, but space travel is still an ordeal for the body. Another obstacle: how to propel payloads to support a Mars base. A Cycler system reduces the amount of propellant required, but improvements to propulsion may make it even more practical.—A.H.


    RADIATION: Cosmic radiation and deadly solar flares could be the greatest risk to Mars-bound travelers. The concrete blocks used for shielding in nuclear plants are too heavy to bring along, but certain plastics, along with plain water, can block some particles. A more futuristic approach would be to surround the spaceship with a magnetic shield, which would deflect radiation like a miniature version of Earth's magnetic field.

    STRESS: Cabin fever will be a problem for long-haul space travelers, possibly leading to boredom, depression and even violent disputes. Disrupted sleep cycles make it worse: With no 24-hour light cycle, astronauts sleep an average of 6 hours a day. A successful crew will need to be fully alert and cooperative, so scientists are researching ways to fool circadian rhythms with artificial sunlight and drugs. Sensors able to read facial expressions might predict when an astronaut is in a poor emotional state. And, of course, potential astronauts will be rigorously screened to make sure they are stable from the start.

    INFECTIONS: Other potential dangers in a tightly sealed spaceship include drug-resistant microbes and chemical leaks, like the antifreeze seeping from an air conditioner that caused breathing problems for cosmonauts aboard the Mir space station in 1997. Scientists at Boston University are developing a biosensor that will recognize the surface shape of harmful microbes, allowing the air quality in the crew's quarters to be continuously monitored with extreme sensitivity.


    Aldrin's plan calls for both chemical rockets (for the CEV) and ion drives (for unmanned freighters); the Cycler simply coasts along in high-speed orbit. The downside of high-thrust chemical rockets is that they burn a lot of propellant. The ion drive (left) is extremely efficient, but takes a long time to pick up speed. To get there faster, engineers can squeeze 100 times more power from an ion drive by using nuclear fission. Or they can skip the ion drive and use nuclear thermal propulsion, in which a nuclear reaction heats a gas and expels it from the rocket. Both methods have potential, but budget cuts have put the future of NASA's nuclear research program, Prometheus, in doubt.





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  10. #30
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    Default Re: The United States is OUT OF THE SPACE BUSINESS

    Doctor Aldrin;

    I personally see you as an American hero. I'm sorry that none of this will now come to pass in your time. Here is the exact flaw in your plan that killed it;

    "In effect, this system would go a long way toward politician-proofing the Mars program."

    Best wishes,

    A once-upon-a-time-wannbe space groupie
    Last edited by American Patriot; April 15th, 2010 at 19:43.
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    Creepy Ass Cracka & Site Owner Ryan Ruck's Avatar
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    Default Re: The United States is OUT OF THE SPACE BUSINESS

    I think I can sum up 0's speech from earlier fairly easily...



    More empty promises that will never be delivered on.

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    Creepy Ass Cracka & Site Owner Ryan Ruck's Avatar
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    Default Re: The United States is OUT OF THE SPACE BUSINESS

    Harrison Schmitt laying the absolute smack down on 0!

    Former Astronaut Blasts Obama’s Plans For Space Program
    April 18, 2010

    Former astronaut Harrison Schmitt, one of the last men to walk on the moon, has nothing good to say about President Barack Obama’s plan to all but ground the Constellation program, which calls for a return to the moon by 2020 and human landings on Mars by the middle of the century.

    I’m afraid what the president and his administration want is for the United States to no longer be preeminent in space flight,” Schmitt, an honorary fellow in the UW-Madison College of Engineering, says in a phone interview from Albuquerque, N.M., where he lives. “And that has very, very serious consequences.”

    Schmitt, a geologist with a Ph.D. from Harvard and the only person without a military background to ever walk on the moon, will be in Madison on Monday to make his case for continuing human space exploration. Schmitt, who taught several graduate-level seminars at UW-Madison from 1996 to 2004, will speak at 6:45 p.m. in room 1610 of Engineering Hall, 1415 Engineering Drive. The free talk is open to the public and sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and its UW-Madison chapter.

    Speaking at the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, Obama explained his decision, made earlier this year, to scrap the Constellation program. Obama insisted he still is “100 percent committed to the future of NASA,” but believes a new approach to human spaceflight is needed. Part of Obama’s vision includes a larger role for private industry.

    For many who viewed the grainy black-and-white television image of Neil Armstrong making his “giant leap for mankind,” it hardly seems possible that more than 40 years have passed since a person first stepped foot on the moon. What’s even harder to believe, says Schmitt, is that no one has returned since he and Gene Cernan left the lunar soil in December 1972 as part of the Apollo 17 mission, and there are no plans for the U.S. to go back.

    “Frankly, it’s disheartening to me that there’s going to be at least a 50-year gap between trips to deep space for America,” says Schmitt, who claims to be the person who took the iconic “Blue Marble” photo, which features a brilliant shot of Earth hanging in the black void of space.

    In 2004, former President George W. Bush called on NASA to retire the space shuttle and return humans to the moon and beyond with the unveiling of the Constellation program. The idea was to eventually set up a moon base, which would allow astronauts to practice living on another planet before someday shooting for Mars. But the Bush administration and Congress never added the necessary funding to NASA’s budget for such an endeavor to stay on schedule.

    When Obama unveiled his proposed budget for fiscal year 2011 on Feb. 1, essentially shelving Constellation and the space shuttle’s successor, the Ares 1 rocket, it disheartened many.

    “There’s disappointment because there were a lot of people who devoted their careers to getting us back to human space exploration, and that now looks like it’s gone by the board,” says Gerald Kulcinski, a UW-Madison associate dean of research in the College of Engineering who has worked with Schmitt since the mid-1980s.

    Schmitt, who stayed on at NASA after the moon landings before serving as a Republican senator from New Mexico from 1977 to 1982, says there are two motives behind the president’s moves.

    The secondary motive is to make sure that we’ve canceled everything George Bush wanted to do, whether it’s the right thing to do or not,” says Schmitt, who served as chair in 2005-08 of the NASA Advisory Council, which oversees plans for America’s future in space. “The other thing is the Obama administration, including the president, is made up of people who do not really like what America has been. And our prowess in space is part of what America has been. And I think they would just as soon see us take a second- or third-rate status in that.

    Schmitt, who turns 75 this summer, says Obama may not want to see the United States succeed because the “president never grew up as an American; he grew up in Indonesia for the most part. His whole formative years were outside of America. I also think he has a very strong feeling, and he makes it quite evident, that he does not like what America has done in the past.” (Obama actually spent just four years in his youth living in Indonesia, from ages 6 to 10.)

    The former astronaut’s connections to UW-Madison date to the mid-1980s, when researchers at the university were searching for possible sources of fusion fuel and stumbled across literature in the Lunar and Planetary Institute, which noted there were significant quantities of the isotope Helium-3 on the moon. This potentially potent nuclear fusion fuel, which can only be found in extremely low quantities on Earth, is non-polluting and has almost no radioactive byproducts. Scientists have stated one space shuttle full of Helium-3 could supply the energy needs of the United States for a year.

    Kulcinski, who previously was a researcher in UW-Madison’s nuclear engineering department, started working with Schmitt in 1986, and the two eventually developed a graduate-level course called “Resources in Space,” which Schmitt termed a “broad revue of space science and energy engineering.” Schmitt, who specializes in economic geology, which includes the study of ore deposits, and Kulcinski taught the course six times between 1996 and 2004.

    Much of the subject matter in that course ended up in Schmitt’s 2006 book, “Return to the Moon: Exploration, Enterprise, and Energy in the Human Settlement of Space,” which examined the economic benefits of returning to the moon and exploiting the potential of Helium-3.

    But U.S. astronauts never got back to the moon, and now Kulcinski says the Chinese may have the best chance of making the trip to harvest Helium-3. “Unfortunately, we may be sitting on the sidelines while they accomplish this,” he says.

    Many believe NASA’s glory days of Apollo can never be recaptured, mainly because there is no Cold War with the Soviet Union to drive the country to action. But Schmitt doesn’t see it that way.

    “The Cold War II opponent on this planet right now is China, and the United States -- if it wishes to continue to protect liberty and the Constitution and other rights that we have -- must not only be competitive, but preeminent in space flight,” he says. “I am very much of the mind that America can’t afford to be second-best in space. It’s the new ocean. It would be as if the United States decided in the last 200 years or so not to have a Navy. The oceans were where the competition between nations existed, and now that competition has moved into space. We should not be afraid of it. We should embrace it.”

    As for Schmitt’s past, he says he could talk about his trip to the moon for eight hours a day, seven days per week. The Apollo 17 voyage was the 11th manned space mission in the Apollo program and marked the sixth and last lunar landing mission. It was launched in the early morning hours of Dec. 7, 1972, and ended Dec. 19. Schmitt says there is no highlight that stands out in his mind.

    “The trip was 13 days, and every day had its high points,” he says. “It was just a magnificent opportunity for me, personally, but it was also an opportunity to be at the tip of a sphere that was held by 450,000 other Americans. People don’t realize how directly involved so many Americans were in the Apollo program. Astronauts just happened to be at the right place at the right time to be at the front, but we couldn’t have done it by ourselves, that’s for sure.”

  13. #33
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    Default Re: The United States is OUT OF THE SPACE BUSINESS

    I moved to Kentucky when I was very young, about 6 and lived there until I was about 11 or 12.

    When I moved back to Detroit, I used to get called a "Damned Hillbilly". Even though I was born in Detroit.

    I don't think I was a hillbilly (still don't think I am one) but I learned a lot on those formative years - like what a "redneck" really is. *I* am NOT one.

    I guess the comparison the author was making there of obama only living there for four years is kind of ridiculous. Those are some of the most formative years of a boy's life.
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    Default Re: The United States is OUT OF THE SPACE BUSINESS

    Obama’s NASA Blueprint Is Challenged in Congress

    By KENNETH CHANG

    Published: April 22, 2010







    WASHINGTON — President Obama may have hoped that a speech a week ago at the Kennedy Space Center would sway skeptics to his proposed space policy, but a Congressional hearing on Thursday gave little signs that the lines of contention have shifted yet.

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    Opponents like Richard C. Shelby, the Republican senator from Alabama where NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has been leading the design of the Ares I rocket that the Obama administration would like to cancel, continued to denounce Mr. Obama’s plans.


    Those plans call for ending NASA’s current Constellation program that was to send astronauts back to the moon and turning to private companies for transportation into orbit.


    At a hearing of an appropriations subcommittee, Mr. Shelby said that the proposal would abdicate the United States’ leadership in space.


    “Future generations will learn how the Chinese, the Russians, and even the Indians took the reins of space exploration away from the United States,” said Mr. Shelby, the ranking minority member of the commerce, justice and science subcommittee.


    Mr. Shelby called the $6 billion that the administration would like to spend to develop commercial rockets to take people to space “a welfare program for the commercial space industry.”


    He criticized the space agency for not researching whether a commercial market existed beyond NASA to support the companies.


    Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr., the NASA administrator, repeated many of the same points he had made to other Congressional committees: that NASA would ensure the safety of any and all rockets that astronauts would ride on and that the current Constellation program was unsustainable.


    But in response to a question from Mr. Shelby about the safety of the different rocket options, General Bolden said, “My gut tells me that Ares would be safer than anything else.”


    It is unclear whether Congress is leaning to the views of Mr. Shelby or to those of Mr. Obama. Except for Barbara A. Mikulski, the Maryland Democrat who is chairwoman of the subcommittee, all the senators attending the hearing on Thursday represent states with businesses or NASA centers heavily involved in the current Constellation program.
    Ms. Mikulski gave little indication of which path she might ultimately choose. “I need to know more,” she said.


    She added, “I want to know if this is the program that the Congress and the American people are going to support from one administration to the next. We cannot reinvent NASA every four years.”


    In a sign that the Ares I might evade the administration’s ax, Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota and chairman of the Senate budget committee, unveiled a version of the 2011 budget that increased NASA’s 2011 budget to $19.7 billion from $19 billion in the president’s budget request.


    The added money would pay for more launchings of prototypes of the Ares I, an idea suggested by Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida. Mr. Conrad cited national security concerns that abandoning the Ares I, which uses a stretched version of the space shuttle’s solid rocket booster, would drive up the cost of solid rocket motors used for ballistic missiles.


    “There are classified discussions we can’t go into here with respect to this initiative,” Mr. Conrad said, “but I say to my colleagues, this is absolutely essential, for the national security, that this go forward.”


    If that proposal succeeds, then essentially all of the components of Constellation will be resurrected, albeit in less ambitious versions.


    In his Florida speech, Mr. Obama announced that the Orion crew capsule, which was to take astronauts to the International Space Station and then the moon, would be continued as a stripped-down lifeboat for the space station. Meanwhile, other members of Congress have introduced bills to extend operations of the space shuttles beyond their planned retirement this year.



    A version of this article appeared in print on April 23, 2010, on page A16 of the New York edition.
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    Default Re: The United States is OUT OF THE SPACE BUSINESS

    Obama's riskier space goal: Mission to asteroid

    By Seth Borenstein
    Associated Press


    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Landing a man on the moon was a towering achievement. Now the president has given NASA an even harder job, one with a certain Hollywood quality: sending astronauts to an asteroid, a giant speeding rock, just 15 years from now.

    Space experts say that such a voyage could take several months longer than a journey to the moon and entail far greater dangers.
    "It is really the hardest thing we can do," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said.


    Going to an asteroid could provide vital training for an eventual mission to Mars. It might help unlock the secrets of how our solar system formed. And it could give humans the know-how to do something that has been accomplished only in the movies by a few square-jawed, squinty-eyed heroes: saving Earth from a collision with a killer asteroid.


    "You could be saving humankind. That's worthy, isn't it?" said Bill Nye, TV's Science Guy and vice president of the Planetary Society.


    President Obama outlined NASA's new path during a visit to the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday.


    "By 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the moon into deep space," he said. "We'll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history."


    On the day the president announced the goal, a NASA task force of scientists, engineers, and former astronauts was meeting in Boston to work on a plan to protect Earth from a cataclysmic collision with an asteroid or a comet.


    NASA has tracked nearly 7,000 near-Earth objects that are bigger than several feet across. Of those, 1,111 are "potentially hazardous asteroids." Objects bigger than two-thirds of a mile are major killers and hit Earth every several hundred thousand years. Scientists believe it was a six-mile-wide asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.


    Landing on an asteroid and giving it a well-timed nudge "would demonstrate once and for all that we're smarter than the dinosaurs and can avoid what they didn't," White House science adviser John Holdren said.


    Experts don't have a particular asteroid in mind for the deep-space voyage, but there are a few dozen top candidates, most of which pass within about five million miles of Earth. That is 20 times more distant than the moon, which is about 239,000 miles from Earth on average.


    Most of the top asteroid candidates are less than a quarter-mile across. The moon is about 2,160 miles in diameter.


    Going to an asteroid could provide clues about the solar system's formation, because asteroids are essentially fossils from 4.6 billion years ago, when planets first formed, said Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near Earth Object program at the Jet Propulsion Lab.


    And an asteroid mission would be a Mars training ground, given the distance and alien locale.


    Also, asteroids contain such substances as hydrogen, carbon, iron, and platinum, which could be used by astronauts to make fuel and equipment - skills that would also be necessary on a visit to Mars.


    While Apollo 11 took eight days to go to the moon and back in 1969, a typical round-trip mission to a near-Earth asteroid would last about 200 days, MIT astronautics professor Ed Crawley said.
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    http://video.foxnews.com/v/4165591/o...ylist_id=87249

    (I really HATE this shit, not being able to see SOME videos at work/... GRRR)
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    Default Re: The United States is OUT OF THE SPACE BUSINESS

    Washington (CNN) -- The Obama administration's vision for the future of manned space flight will bump the United States to "second or even third-rate" status as a space-faring nation, the commanders of three U.S. moon missions warned Wednesday.


    The letter was signed by the first and last men to walk on the moon -- Neil Armstrong from Apollo 11 and Eugene Cernan from Apollo 17 -- and James Lovell, who commanded the heroic Apollo 13 flight.


    "Without the skill and experience that actual spacecraft operation provides, the USA is far too likely to be on a long downhill slide to mediocrity," the letter said. "America must decide if it wishes to remain a leader in space. If it does, we should institute a program which will give us the very best chance of achieving that goal."


    President Obama is scheduled to announce his space plans Thursday during a visit to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the White House announced. The White House said the five-year strategy involves a $6 billion increase in NASA's budget and additional support for new space technologies.
    What do you think of the proposed space plan?



    Video: Bill Nye talks future of NASA



    Video: Space workers look at the future



    Video: NASA veteran frustrated



    Video: Life after NASA
    RELATED TOPICS




    Armstrong, Lovell and Cernan praised Obama's increase in total funding for space exploration, which includes money for research, the international space station and a heavy-lift rocket. But the astronauts said the decision to cancel the Constellation program for manned space flight "is devastating."


    "America's only path to low Earth orbit and the international space station will now be subject to an agreement with Russia to purchase space on their Soyuz (at a price of over 50 million dollars per seat with significant increases expected in the near future) until we have the capacity to provide transportation for ourselves," they wrote.


    NASA's space shuttle fleet will be retired at the end of this year, leaving the Russian Soyuz capsules as the only avenue into space until commercial ventures are ready to do the job, expected to be years away. Obama's proposal to use commercial transport to reach orbit "cannot be predicted with any certainty, but is likely to take substantially longer and be more expensive than we would hope," the astronauts said.
    Cernan, Lovell and Armstrong said the more than $10 billion spent so far on Constellation -- including the Orion space capsule and the Ares rockets to boost it into space will be wasted by the cancellation "and, equally importantly, we will have lost the many years required to recreate the equivalent of what we will have discarded."


    NASA's future, as outlined in the White House documents, would include a multibillion-dollar modernization of Kennedy Space Center, expansion of private-sector and commercial space industries, creation of thousands of jobs and eventually human travel to Mars.


    But Allard Beutel, news chief at the Kennedy Space Center, told CNN that layoffs at the center will likely reach the 7,000 range with the end of the shuttle and the cancellation of the Constellation program.


    The president's plans would shift some funding away from NASA's costly human space flight program to NASA's scientific programs, including robotic missions to other planets.


    During a briefing in early April, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden praised the new future being charted for the agency.


    "This budget provides an increase to NASA at a time when funding is scarce," Bolden said. "It will enable us to accomplish inspiring exploration, science and (research and development), the kinds of things the agency has been known for throughout its history."



    CNN's Dan Lothian and Sarah Baker and CNN Radio's Dick Uliano contributed to this report.
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    Default Re: The United States is OUT OF THE SPACE BUSINESS

    NASA order may force shutdown of Constellation moon-rocket program

    By Robert Block Orlando Sentinel Space Editor



    CAPE CANAVERAL – In a surprise move, NASA has told the major contractors working on its troubled Constellation moon rocket program that they are in violation of federal spending rules — and must immediately cut back work by nearly $1 billion to get into compliance.

    As many as 5,000 jobs from Utah to Florida are expected to be lost over the next month.

    The effect of the directive, which went out to contractors earlier this week and which Congress was told about on Wednesday, may accomplish something that President Barack Obama has sought since February: killing Constellation’s system of rockets, capsules and lunar landers that has already cost at least $9 billion to date.

    The decision caps a bitter, three-month behind-the-scenes battle between aerospace giants and NASA managers over who is responsible for covering the costs of dismantling the Constellation program. The fight has dragged in members of Congress and the White House — and has dramatically raised the stakes in the struggle over the future of the country’s human spaceflight program.

    At issue is the federal Anti-Deficiency Act that requires all federal contractors to set aside a portion of their payments to cover costs in case the project is ever cancelled.

    New NASA calculations say contractors are $991 million short of what they must withhold – and the agency has ordered the companies to find that money from the roughly $3.5 billion they’re budgeted to get for Constellation projects this year.

    In a letter to Congress released Wednesday, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said: “Given this estimated shortfall, the Constellation program cannot continue all of its planned … program activities [this year] within the resources available. Under the Anti-Deficiency Act (ADA), NASA has no choice but to correct this situation.”

    The biggest loser is Utah-based Alliant Techsystems Inc, or ATK, which is building the first stage of the Ares I rocket – Constellation’s centerpiece that was supposed to take astronauts to the International Space Station and ultimately the moon.

    According to NASA, the company’s termination costs total $500 million – the most for any contractor working on the program – and will result in the immediate cutoff of any funds going to Ares I.

    Other large companies affected include Lockheed Martin ($350 million); Pratt Whitney Rocketdyne ($48 million); and Boeing ($81 million). “Many of these reductions will be implemented via reductions in workforce … primarily affecting Texas, Alabama, Colorado, Utah, and Florida,” NASA told Congress, but it did not include a breakdown by state of job losses.

    “It is the responsibility of the contractor, not the government, to ensure its costs and obligations are managed appropriately,” said NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs. “NASA has no choice but to take this corrective action.”

    Contractors, especially ATK, have maintained to NASA and to members of Congress that historically NASA has not required them to withhold termination money and that therefore they should not be forced to cover the shortfall.

    Members of Congress from states that will be hardest hit, including Utah and Alabama, support ATK and other contractors. They accuse the administration of using the federal spending rules to undermine a congressional prohibition – passed last year – that blocks NASA from holding back any contract payments for Constellation in this fiscal year.

    “This latest attempt by the administration to force an early termination of the Constellation program is nothing more than a disingenuous legal maneuver to circumvent statutory language that was put in place to prevent this very type of action,” said U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah.

    “Hurting our national defense capabilities and industrial base are examples of the long-term collateral damage that will come as a result of this administration’s destructive and dangerous political agenda.”

    NASA spokesman Jacobs rejected charges that the decision was a backdoor effort to cancel Constellation, saying that the agency is legally compelled to cut back spending now, no matter what happens to the program.

    The Obama administration has wanted to cancel most of Constellation since last fall when a White House blue-ribbon commission concluded the program was “unsustainable,” well over budget and as much as a decade behind schedule.

    The administration seeks instead to outsource rides to the space station to private rocket companies while revamping NASA to focus on longer-term technology development. Following Obama’s budget proposal in February, the agency ordered the program’s main contractors to show proof they had had set aside termination costs as required under law.

    According to NASA officials, Bolden has prioritized the areas of the program that should not be cut. These include advanced technology work on the Orion space capsule, the J2X rocket engine that was to power the Ares I second stage and any hardware that could be used for other programs.

    NASA chief financial officer Beth Robinson told members of Congress that contractors had “erroneously assumed” that they didn’t have to set aside any funds to cover the program’s cancellation and instead put everything they had into production of the various systems. But she also admitted that NASA did not manage the contractors properly.

    Privately officials are pointing fingers at former NASA administrator Michael Griffin, the architect of the Constellation program, for turning a blind eye to termination liability requirements in order to try to sink as much money as possible into the program to make it harder to cancel.

    NASA officials said they assume there will be investigations ordered by Congress in coming months.

    Mark K. Matthews of the Washington Bureau contributed to this report. Robert Block can be reached at rblock@orlandosentinel.com or 321-639-0522.

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    Default Re: The United States is OUT OF THE SPACE BUSINESS

    Obama's NASA Plan: Boosts foreign, private space projects

    Irene Klotz
    CAPE CANAVERAL
    Mon Jun 28, 2010 6:14pm EDT

    Related News




    CAPE CANAVERAL Florida (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Monday outlined a space policy that offers an expanded role for foreign governments including possibly China and private companies in monitoring Earth's climate, tracking and removing orbital debris and protecting satellites.


    The strategy follows President Barack Obama's blueprint for NASA that cancels the space shuttle follow-on program to return to the moon, hires private space taxis to fly crews to the International Space Station and seeds promising technologies for future human and robotic missions into deep space.

    The new policy envisions collaboration with other countries -- including possibly China -- and with companies on new initiatives, administration officials said.

    These include tracking and removing derelict spacecraft and debris from orbit and developing backups for key space technologies threatened by natural hazards such as solar storms or intentional interference, administration officials said.

    "We want to be able to maintain those capabilities no matter what the conditions were," White House National Security Council space policy director Peter Marquez told reporters in a conference call.

    "Bringing enhanced stability to space is a goal. We're trying to encourage responsible action," added Barry Pavel, the National Security Council senior director for defense policy and strategy.

    INDUSTRIAL BASE
    In addition to national security, scientific research and civil space programs, the Obama directive is intended to help "sustain and reinvigorate the U.S. industrial base," Pavel said.

    Obama's initiative will impact plans and spending proposals beyond the space agency NASA, including the departments of defense, commerce and transportation and other entities that operate or use space-based equipment and services, officials said.

    "It is clear to us now that our opportunities and responsibilities have changed," Pavel said. "We recognize that space is now more important than ever for the economy and national security, but also for the environment."

    Pavel said the State Department will unveil "confidence-building" measures with other countries in the coming weeks.

    The new policy "doesn't direct arms-control proposals, but it allows for our consideration of arms-control proposals," Pavel said.

    Pavel added that the government is looking for new contracting, purchasing and "nontraditional" public-private partnering arrangements with companies.

    "This is a very broad and over-arching policy and we will follow it up in coming months with more specific policies," Pavel said.

    Removing debris from space could pose daunting challenges. The U.S. government's Space Surveillance Network tracks more than 20,000 objects in orbit around Earth, 94 percent of which are classified as debris.

    The issue of space debris gained prominence in 2007 when China intentionally blew up a defunct satellite as part of a weapons test and with the collision last year of two satellites in orbit.

    (Additional reporting by Alister Bull in Washington, Editing by Will Dunham)

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    Default Re: The United States is OUT OF THE SPACE BUSINESS

    NASA Chief: Next Frontier Better Relations With Muslim World


    Published July 05, 2010 | FoxNews.com




    Shown here is NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. (YouTube)

    NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a recent interview that his "foremost" mission as the head of America's space exploration agency is to improve relations with the Muslim world.

    Though international diplomacy would seem well outside NASA's orbit, Bolden said in an interview with Al Jazeera that strengthening those ties was among the top tasks President Obama assigned him. He said better interaction with the Muslim world would ultimately advance space travel.

    "When I became the NASA administrator -- or before I became the NASA administrator -- he charged me with three things. One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science ... and math and engineering," Bolden said in the interview.

    The NASA administrator was in the Middle East last month marking the one-year anniversary since Obama delivered an address to Muslim nations in Cairo. Bolden spoke in June at the American University in Cairo -- in his interview with Al Jazeera, he described space travel as an international collaboration of which Muslim nations must be a part.

    "It is a matter of trying to reach out and get the best of all worlds, if you will, and there is much to be gained by drawing in the contributions that are possible from the Muslim (nations)," he said. He held up the International Space Station as a model, praising the contributions there from the Russians and the Chinese.

    However, Bolden denied the suggestion that he was on a diplomatic mission -- in a distinctly non-diplomatic role.

    "Not at all.

    It's not a diplomatic anything," he said.

    He said the United States is not going to travel beyond low-Earth orbit on its own and that no country is going to make it to Mars without international help.

    Bolden has faced criticism this year for overseeing the cancellation of the agency's Constellation program, which was building new rockets and spaceships capable of returning astronauts to the moon. Stressing the importance of international cooperation in future missions, Bolden told Al Jazeera that the moon, Mars and asteroids are still planned destinations for NASA.

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