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Russia Aims Towards Mars

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the red-planet-rising dept.

Mars 161

Iddo Genuth writes "Russia's Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) has announced its intentions to build a low-orbit space station which, according to the agency, will support future exploration of the moon and Mars. There's also a suggestion to extend the operational lifespan of the International Space Station by five more years, resetting its retirement date to 2020. The project proposal is already on its way for review by the Russian government. Some Russian sources also reportedly proposed the (rather ludicrous) idea of converting the ISS into some kind of an interplanetary transport vehicle, which would serve as the 'ultimate mother ship' in manned planetary missions to the moon or even Mars."

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In... (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860677)

In post-soviet Russia, you build space station.
Now that State Communism got kicked out, 2 decades later, things are finally starting to change back to normal

Perfect! (5, Funny)

russlar (1122455) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860681)

The Reds are going to the Red Planet!

Re:Perfect! (5, Funny)

SIR_Taco (467460) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860737)

Didn't realize that Cincinnati was having trouble with their franchise... a shame the team had to leave the country and an even bigger shame they had to leave the planet.

Re:Perfect! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26861169)

Mmm, at least we can get some Cincinnati-style chili on our hot dogs at the ultra-secret Mars base I am posting this from now.

Re:Perfect! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26861779)

holy shit unfunny

Re:Perfect! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26860953)

In Soviet Mars, aliens steals YOU!

Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (5, Interesting)

eagl (86459) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860713)

Moving the ISS is not such a crazy idea at all, and it's been proposed already by some smart people as a way to increase moon mission payoffs and reduce mission risks. A series of orbit boosts could eventually lead to a transfer orbit and lunar orbital insertion. Once in lunar orbit it would be at reduced risk of damage from orbital trash. Yes, sending up resupply and crew swapouts would be more difficult, but remember we would already be doing that for manned lunar operations so it's really not that much of a stretch.

Moving it to mars... Now that's a bit of a stretch but it might be possible with a propulsion efficiency breakthrough that could be powered by existing solar arrays or a bolt-on reactor. Still though, I think the idea of using it to support lunar operations might be an interesting idea especially as an alternative to letting it die after such a slow and expensive build-up with gross under-use as a science platform since it's been manned due to problems with the shuttle program.

The big question is: Once the shuttle is out of the picture, why keep the ISS where it is? Why not just put it wherever it is the most useful?

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (5, Informative)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860779)

Moving the ISS is not such a crazy idea at all

You're right, it's not crazy. They have actually gone "plaid" instead. Sure, most of what you are saying is interesting and insightful. It just overlooks the fact that the ISS has been plagued with malfunctions and other serious problems. Quite frankly, it's the Yugo of space stations. Yeah, its "gets us there", but it is not something we want to "drive" across the Solar System.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (2, Interesting)

markoresko (1465965) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860827)

It is better to use ISS in any way, but destroying it burning down the Earth atmosphere.

Send around moon with full systems working and fulled with fuel etc,
it can serve as life boat or even one of the stations supporting Moon exploration.

If it could be sent to Mars orbit, it could be used upon human arrival on Mars orbit.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (5, Interesting)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861009)

It is better to use ISS in any way, but destroying it burning down the Earth atmosphere.

Send around moon with full systems working and fulled with fuel etc,
it can serve as life boat or even one of the stations supporting Moon exploration.

If it could be sent to Mars orbit, it could be used upon human arrival on Mars orbit.

It's just not a good idea. I can see that you value efficiency and find waste distasteful. However, you are just not considering the situation carefully.

Let's say you are some place near the U.S and Canadian border where it gets near freezing. You have an older space heater and a bunch of blankets and warm clothes. Generally, the space heater is serving you well. It's malfunctioned a couple of times, but you were able to use more blankets and some warmer clothes. In short order you were able to use some tools and some parts obtained from a local supply store and fix your "trusty" old space heater. One time you were just too tired and went over to a friend's house for the night.

Now, let's say you are are lot farther north of the equator. You are literally 1,000 miles away from the nearest warm shelter and local hardware store. If the space heater breaks down, you cannot find another heat source before you freeze and die.

In space, this situation is thousands of times worse. Reliability and redundancy are not just mission critical considerations, but life critical situations. This MUST be your primary consideration at all times. My tax dollars paid for parts of the ISS and I would want it to get the greatest amount of use before it is decommissioned. However, I don't want to risk the lives of astronauts just to keep using a piece of equipment.

AFAIK, there have been problems with the ISS where the situation could have been far more serious had it been orbiting around the Moon, or worse Mars.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (5, Insightful)

raistlinwolf (1365893) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861105)

It's just not a good idea. I can see that you value efficiency and find waste distasteful. However, you are just not considering the situation carefully...

Well, consider how much refined materials cost in space, what is wrong with sending it to the moon or to Mars? Somebody might want a bolt or some wire one day, aboard whatever ideal craft they follow up with.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (1, Insightful)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861823)

Well, consider how much refined materials cost in space, what is wrong with sending it to the moon or to Mars? Somebody might want a bolt or some wire one day, aboard whatever ideal craft they follow up with.

That's actually rather insightful. Make sure they put a bag of Cheetos onboard, too.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (1)

TheCybernator (996224) | more than 5 years ago | (#26862221)

Somebody might want a bolt or some wire one day, aboard whatever ideal craft they follow up with.

Now! that explains an orbiting

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (3, Insightful)

tftp (111690) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861125)

AFAIK, there have been problems with the ISS where the situation could have been far more serious had it been orbiting around the Moon, or worse Mars.

So far no crew was forced to return to Earth after an emergency, and no spacecraft had to be launched up there on emergency basis. We know now what pieces of ISS are reliable and what pieces of it are not. Why building a completely new vessel and launching it first time to the Moon or Mars will be safer? Even if certain systems on that new vessel are done in triplicate, they still can fail and crew can perish - especially because these systems haven't been tested enough.

I do not dispute that a trip to Mars will be hard from survival POV. It can be only compared to sending a group of people to North or South pole; in all these cases loss of some essential supplies like food, fuel [and air] results in painful death, and if you need help it won't be coming. Some polar explorers died. I do not expect Mars to be kinder than coldest places of this planet. The only way to prevent deaths on other planets is to never go there; but it's too much like the guaranteed recipe of avoiding death at old age (die young.)

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861223)

Just keep in mind that many fires are started from "repaired" space heaters getting too hot or bursting into flame. Of those fires, some of them take human lives with them.

I don't see anything wrong with fixing broken stuff and making them work again. However at some point in time, the efficiency or repair needs to be considered with replacement as well as the potential to cause more damage. A $50 space heater starts looking mighty cheap when it costs $20 to fix it twice a year or you have to replace a $100,000 home and pay rent on top of that for a year while waiting.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26861605)

The station is no more life-critical in lunar orbit than it is in earth orbit. The outcome of any catastrophic failure is the same - get in a vehicle and return to Earth. The only difference is the length of time the return journey takes.

And that is a problem for the vehicle, not the station.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861817)

AFAIK, there have been problems with the ISS where the situation could have been far more serious had it been orbiting around the Moon, or worse Mars.

Just look at the recent broken toilet on the ISS. Imagine that you are in a zero-G environment without a working toilet! Earthlings have a hard time grasping the difficulties untethered interplanetary travel pose.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (1)

AaronLawrence (600990) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861295)

What makes you think the next space station will be any better?

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (1)

tenco (773732) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861477)

Because it will be designed for this mission profile?

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (2, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 5 years ago | (#26862215)

...and every single piece built by the cheapest bidders.

You forget one thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26861641)

The Yugo of space stations was previously the Mir, it worked for decades without any serious accident. Tell me again what happened to the cadalacc of space vehilces? Twice?

Near-accidents and dealt with malfunctions are the order of the day for all high tech. It don't mean shit. The only thing that counts is if they become true accidents resulting from malfunctions that aren't dealt with.

You are making the same mistake the americans made with the space shuttle. You want things to look nice rather then just work well enough. The ISS is good enough. Sure, with enough will you could get something better but who is going to pay for that? The US goverment? That would be the same US goverment that totally screwed up the shuttle and then cut the program down to such an extent that a test model became the one single vehicle to be used in roles it was never designed for.

like linux 0.99 was that perfect (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 5 years ago | (#26862335)

As any new project, first version/beta has problems, unknown faults and work in progress solutions. Its doing well. Now I also bet if you give china the plans, they could manufacture 10 of the things, each component in a different city, in one year flat. Who needs 2 billion mp3 players. Make 10 ISS clones.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26862501)

Why not just upgrade?
Hell, go one further, build AROUND the current space station, then when the environment around it is sealed, fill it with air, then dismantle IN space and re-use components elsewhere.

Doesn't exactly take rocket science here space agencies.
Get to work. (and employ me too, i'll get shit done!)

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (2, Interesting)

geckipede (1261408) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860789)

I've wanted to see the ISS moved to a higher orbit for a long time now, preferably to an equatorial orbit. It could be very useful as a place to store and assemble components of a Mars mission spacecraft if it were in an orbit that is in the same plane as the planetary-solar orbits. The problem is that to put it significantly higher it would either need very effective radiation shielding for the slow move through the van allen belts, or evacuation for the move followed by replacing all the electronics. A slow transit through high radiation belts is a painful thing for any hardware. You get the same problems using it for a Mars mission mothership too, but with the added irritation of it being an extremely heavy monster of a station, probably needing more fuel to shift it than you would save by it already being in space.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (3, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861227)

've wanted to see the ISS moved to a higher orbit for a long time now, preferably to an equatorial orbit. It could be very useful as a place to store and assemble components of a Mars mission spacecraft if it were in an orbit that is in the same plane as the planetary-solar orbits.

Note that those two sentences are mutually exclusive. Equatorial orbit is NOT the plane of the ecliptic.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (3, Informative)

ColaMan (37550) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861859)

Never mind the fact that getting to an equatorial orbit from where the ISS is now is not easy.

You can't easily turn your orbit 'left' or 'right'. Taking the extreme example, say you wanted to do a 90 degree left turn from the ISS's current orbit. You have to do two things simultaneously :

- Lower your current forward velocity from it's current value of approx 7 kilometres/sec to zero.
- Increase the velocity in the direction you want to travel from zero to 7 kilometres/sec.

Let's just say that you're not going to be doing that with an ion thruster any time soon.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (2, Informative)

Paua Fritter (448250) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861971)

You can do a left turn with an ion thruster. It's just that you have a very, very, wide turning circle.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (4, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860851)

The hard part of moving it to Mars, is not the propulsion system. Rockets work well.

The issue is moving it without structural damage. You have to make sure that each module gets JUST the RIGHT amount of thrust relative to the others, so that the whole thing wants to move at the same delta. If one part's delta is off to much... crack!

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (1)

imasu (1008081) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861091)

Might not be so bad. The thrust required to get it into a transfer orbit might not be so large, and it is not too difficult to think of ways to mitigate the modular asymmetry. For example, put the thruster on one side of the station CG, and on the other side, build out a boom that then supports all the individual modules via guy wires or cables. Not trivial, but probably easier than building a second station in the location you would want to move the ISS to.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26861211)

Not much friction on the ISS... so as long as its not a giant burst of thrust(which it wouldnt get anyway)... there is no need for individual thrust for each compartment. Basically.. out of all the problems with taking the ISS out of earths orbit.... this is one of the lesser concerns.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861235)

Can't one just accelerate really slow?

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861441)

You can accelerate more or less as slowly as you want; but Mars is a long way away, and astronauts have all sorts of whiney demands like "I need air" and "ionizing radiation makes me a sad panda" which make getting there as fast as possible attractive.

Unmanned Transfer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26861571)

Big deal, just get it to Mars slowly without having a crew onboard it in the meantime.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26862165)

...which make getting there as fast as possible attractive.

With reasonable technology, we're not going to do much better than a Hohmann minimum-energy transfer orbit - and for that, it doesn't make much difference whether the thrust is instantaneous or delivered over several weeks. It'll still take over a year to get to Mars.

So, say that we get 5 km/s of delta-v over 5 weeks. 1 km/s/week = 1000 m/s/week = 0.001 m/s/s = 0.0001 gravities. That's pretty light thrust - the ISS should be able to stand up to that, despite how puny its structure is.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26862413)

As Sam and Max [armory.com] would say:

"I guess those candy-butt astronauts didn't have the stones to try it." ;)

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (1)

ridgecritter (934252) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861313)

Ion engines. Low thrust, super high ISP. No structure failures.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (2, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861453)

Ah, but you have to stop or slow down on approach to Mars, if you plan on staying very long. Ion engines might not cut it - and anything more powerful (as above) could be problematic.

As well, the ISS doesn't have the shielding required for interplanetary travel - so we either need to shield it, or move it as quickly as possible (unless you don't mind dead astronaughts and damaged materials)

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (1)

imikem (767509) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860909)

I agree with pretty much all of this. We've spent tens of billions on it, learned a lot, and to abandon all that and watch the thing burn up is surely a far sillier idea than boosting the orbit.

Radiation would presumably be the biggest problem outside Terra's magnetic field. I'm not sure how we could address this, but there must be a way. It would be an easier place to learn and practice than a mission to Mars with no chance of rescue or abort.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (2, Interesting)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860929)

Or even this [aip.org]

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (1)

imasu (1008081) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860965)

I was just about to post this. Putting the ISS into a transfer orbit to move it to the moon has been discussed before and actually seems like an excellent idea to explore if we are planning for prolonged lunar missions in the future.

Actually, it is crazy. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861075)

It was designed to do science in low orbit. It has shields, more Solar Cells, etc. It is far cheaper to send Bigelows to these various places, since it is much lighter. In addition, it would have higher efficiency solar cells, limited shielding (via water as well as more shields around quarters. In the end, it is far better to keep the ISS right where it is, keep testing our parts there as well as doing science, and then push new tech to Moon/Mars based on the lessons from ISS.

Re:Actually, it is crazy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26861241)

You mean, like, use it for actual Science? Pity they haven't done this yet, instead of posturing it as some sort of celestial gunboat with cardboard tubes where the barrels are gonna go someday.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (5, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861139)

Moving the ISS is not such a crazy idea at all, and it's been proposed already by some smart people as a way to increase moon mission payoffs and reduce mission risks. A series of orbit boosts could eventually lead to a transfer orbit and lunar orbital insertion.

You're right - it isn't a crazy idea. It's a barking-at-the-moon freakin' lunatic idea, proposed only by folks who are either crazy themselves or (being kind) utterly innocent of any acquaintance with the facts.
 
To start with, the ISS isn't designed to be operated unmanned. Next, the electronics onboard ISS aren't shielded against the radiation in the Van Allen Belts. Lastly, it's thermal controls are designed for the warm conditions of LEO not the arctic icebox of lunar orbit.
 
So yeah, in theory you could boost about 500 Shuttle loads of fuel and move it to Lunar orbit... In practice, it'll arrive there dead.
 
 

Moving it to mars... Now that's a bit of a stretch but it might be possible with a propulsion efficiency breakthrough that could be powered by existing solar arrays or a bolt-on reactor.

Sure, it's a stretch. Kind of like saying it's a stretch for me to fly from Seattle to New York by flapping my arms - though it might be possible for with a propulsion efficiency breakthrough, like strapping a 747 to my back.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (1)

ColaMan (37550) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861869)

Lastly, it's thermal controls are designed for the warm conditions of LEO not the arctic icebox of lunar orbit.

I'm curious. Apart from the altitude, what's the difference between a 90 minute polar orbit around the moon as opposed to a 90 minute polar orbit around the earth?

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26861187)

Moving the ISS is not such a crazy idea at all, and it's been proposed already by some smart people as a way to increase moon mission payoffs and reduce mission risks. A series of orbit boosts could eventually lead to a transfer orbit and lunar orbital insertion. Once in lunar orbit it would be at reduced risk of damage from orbital trash. Yes, sending up resupply and crew swapouts would be more difficult, but remember we would already be doing that for manned lunar operations so it's really not that much of a stretch.

Moving it to mars... Now that's a bit of a stretch but it might be possible with a propulsion efficiency breakthrough that could be powered by existing solar arrays or a bolt-on reactor. Still though, I think the idea of using it to support lunar operations might be an interesting idea especially as an alternative to letting it die after such a slow and expensive build-up with gross under-use as a science platform since it's been manned due to problems with the shuttle program.

The big question is: Once the shuttle is out of the picture, why keep the ISS where it is? Why not just put it wherever it is the most useful?

Right now the ISS is protected from Solar radiation by earths magnetic field.... they do not have the technology on board to leave earths magnetic field and still be safe from radiation. We would have to send up tons and tons lead to help protect it or increase the size(or an entire new compartment) to house a magnetic generator to shield(which i do not believe is available) the crew.... What i would like to see is an actual spacecraft designed for just this sort of thing(interplanetary travel)

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (1)

PachmanP (881352) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861311)

Actually, when you do the math, moving the ISS is pretty crazy. The mass of the fuel needed to move it any where useful and the amount of trips needed to move all of the stuff up there is pretty ridiculous. Although, if I remember correctly that's with rockets, and if you use some theoretical/experimental higher thrust electric stuff you are only "take away the scissors" crazy vs "lock up and throw away the key" crazy.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (1)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 5 years ago | (#26862375)

NERVA (Nuclear) rockets are the way to go.

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861797)

Moving it to mars... Now that's a bit of a stretch but it might be possible with a propulsion efficiency breakthrough that could be powered by existing solar arrays or a bolt-on reactor. Still though, I think the idea of using it to support lunar operations might be an interesting idea especially as an alternative to letting it die after such a slow and expensive build-up with gross under-use as a science platform since it's been manned due to problems with the shuttle program.

Please tell me what will protect the humans onboard from cosmic radiation once they leave the Van Allen belts. Or do you propose wrapping the whole thing in a meter of lead?

Re:Moving ISS not a crazy idea at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26861967)

I'm mostly worried about radiation.

The ISS is designed to operate inside Earth's magnetosphere, and it has next to no protection from solar wind and cosmic radiation. You would need some pretty heavy modifications to make it Moon-worthy, and bolting life-critical stuff on something that never was designed to have it bolted on is always a bit risky and problematic.

Still, I sort of like the idea. At least they should salvage the ISS for useful parts before de-orbiting it; I'm sure many of the modules could be used for other spacecraft or later stations, and how about those solar panels?

Take the people off it first. (1)

BeaverCleaver (673164) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861987)

There's an AC buried somewhere above who makes this point too: an UNMANNED transfer. Send the ISS slow as you like, minimising fuel consumption and mechanical stress on the structure, to its future destination, then later, think about putting people on it. Even if it turns out that the station has become uninhabitable, at least now you have several tons of spare parts up out of the gravity well, and much faster to be retrieved should future astronauts need it.

Another bright/stupid idea... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860723)

If they turn the ISS into a space transport, they can reuse the engines when the space transport shuttle program is retired.

Re:Another bright/stupid idea... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26860817)

Not usefully, the specific impulse is too low.

In general you have a choice between high thrust and fuel efficiency, for the shuttle you need high thrust to boost that huge mass out of the gravity well and up to orbital velocity (Actually really two problems), once you are in orbit, you normally want maximum specific impulse even at the expense of high thrust to minimise the amount of fuel mass you have to carry.

The transfer drive is an interesting trade off between fuel mass and mission duration (with its implied life support mass issues).

The key thing to realise about any space drive is that only two numbers matter: The exhaust velocity and the initial propellant mass fraction, know those and you trivially define the maximum mission delta V you can produce.

The ISS as a ship rather then a platform also has the issue that it can only accommodate very low accelerations simply because of structural issues, I would have thought that ion drives producing small single digit newton thrust levels would be the way to do it, together with a large tank of high atomic mass reaction mass. You might want to use something relatively high thrust to move to a higher initial orbit first simply to cut down on atmospheric drag - maybe stuff an ATV full of fuel and use its thrusters for an initial boost? I don't know, I have not run the numbers.

Thinking about it, boost a series of ATVs on a set of carefully calculated trajectories and have them serve as re supply depots for in flight resupply en route.....

And yea, I know that rocket does not have the thrust to put the things where they would need to be for a mars shot!

Finally, I would note that a lunar orbiting station would inherently require quite a lot of fuel to maintain a stable orbit as all lunar orbits decay over time.

Obligatory.. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26860747)

On soviet mars, space station probe you!

Bets are on (-1, Flamebait)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860749)

How many times russian spacecraft will go broken before it fails to reach Mars ?

i say 6.

Re:Bets are on (1)

ani23 (899493) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860823)

English please

Ludicrous? (3, Interesting)

sweet_petunias_full_ (1091547) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860763)

I suppose *some* people would be upset if a Russian booster rocket took the ISS out of orbit without telling anyone, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it ludicrous. If the U.S. doesn't pay Russia to boost the ISS during the shuttle's downtime, Russia may have no choice but to pull a repo job on it.

In space, no one can hear you... nevermind.

Re:Ludicrous? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860887)

I was wondering why the OP says that too. It's already got about everything you'd need for an extended stay in space, and it's a proven technology. The only serious problem I see for it is it's not designed to be rapidly accelerated for a fast trip, structurally wise. But having all that gear already in orbit surely would give things a head start. Getting an interplanetary ship into earth orbit is the majority of the time and expense involved and we already have a lot of that done if we try to recycle the ISS.

Re:Ludicrous? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861049)

Who needs rapid acceleration? Slow and steady. ISS can already withstand the sort of thrust used in stationkeeping maneuvers, which should be plenty. Perhaps they could even use something like a larger version of VASIMR for the cruise stage -- 50-100N thrust (current version is ~5N).

Since ISS wouldn't be able to withstand aerocapture, and humans wouldn't be up to slow, multi-month aerobraking maneuvers, you'll need a braking stage. Same for Earth departure, return, and insertion -- but nothing with a huge amount of thrust. And you'd need to have a docked vehicle for landing and return come along for the ride.

Quite the opposite of ludicrous, I think this is a great idea. You know how much it costs to build and loft a craft with the sort of facilities as ISS has? Obviously it's not going to be able to go in its current state, but I can't imagine that retrofitting it would be *more* expensive than building and launching a whole new craft.

Re:Ludicrous? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861401)

Since ISS wouldn't be able to withstand aerocapture, and humans wouldn't be up to slow, multi-month aerobraking maneuvers, you'll need a braking stage.

If you planned the trajectory right, couldn't you just fall into orbit around mars or the moon? Since gravity accelerates (or decelerates) all parts of the station equally, there would be no strain on it.

Re:Ludicrous? (2, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861437)

You need to lose the energy you used to get there. Technically it's possible to be captured without burning any energy except for course correction maneuvers and leaving Earth orbit, but you want to be going far faster than that. Generally things going to Mars are either aerocaptured or aerobrake, sometimes in addition to a kick stage. Aerobraking would take too long for humans, and ISS can't be aerocaptured. You need a kick stage.

Re:Ludicrous? (1)

sweet_petunias_full_ (1091547) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861163)

"it's not designed to be rapidly accelerated for a fast trip, structurally wise"

No, but an orbit that would be helpful for lunar exploration wouldn't require jarringly fast acceleration. For Mars it would be more tricky because you would probably want to send the people in a fast spacecraft to minimize the radiation exposure. The ISS could still be used as a conveniently large cargo container sent ahead of time. Of course, it would have to take the slow track to Mars, IIRC, a slingshot [wikipedia.org] that uses Venus to accelerate to a higher solar orbit.

In all seriousness, I don't think any of the countries have a sufficiently strong economy for a *manned* trip to Mars at the moment. It's just too much tonnage whether the ISS is used or not, and the unmanned trips have been risky enough without adding the human equation to it.

Actually (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861053)

Russia is suppose to boost it AND pay for it. But, America DOES have options. In particular, we have the ability to use a simple 5 mile cable to pull it up electrically. Of course, that would mean taking power away from the Russian side. Likewise, I suspect that if Russia were to not uphold that end, we would just pay EU to launch a few more of their ATVs which can last at least 6 months and have plenty of boost.

Finally, I suspect that L-Mart, Boeing, Orbital and SpaceX can come up with quick ability to do this with a several billion contract.

Re:Actually (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861247)

I wouldn't be to surprised if the air force didn't have something capable tucked away somewhere. Sure, it would be a last ditch, I finally got to let people know about it scenario but they already mirror a lot of what NASA does.

Re:Ludicrous? (1)

Venik (915777) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861319)

Dude, where's my space station?

Re:Ludicrous? (1)

nametaken (610866) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861451)

"In space, no one can hear you... nevermind."

Steal a space station? :)

And then (5, Funny)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860765)

Mars, ever eager to fight, aims right the fuck back.

Re:And then (0, Redundant)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860859)

This is even more hilarious, as Mars is/was the God of War.

Right? Or am I thinking of something else?

Re:And then (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861113)

Mars, ever eager to fight, aims right the fuck back.

Just say the magic word: K'Breel [slashdot.org] .

Re:And then (1)

shma (863063) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861665)

Well of course they want to destroy us, we obstruct their view of Venus [youtube.com] .

Stop misunderstanding Russian space announcements (5, Interesting)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860781)

Russia is ALWAYS announcing things like this - Klipr, manned Mars missions, etc. I've lost track of how many times they've "announced" they're going to Mars, or some other huge project.

The reason why this keeps happening is because in part we in the west are misunderstanding the way the Russian space program works.

They don't announce plans in the way for example NASA would. In Russia, they continually plan these things, then float out the ideas to see if they can get support and funding - and in the last 20 years or so, international investment.
If they DON'T get funders to sign on, it goes nowhere, and in a year or so they trot out another proposal.

This is NOT an announcement of a plan, it's a marketing pitch. They're saying "we could do this, anyone out there wanna pay for it?"

Re:Stop misunderstanding Russian space announcemen (2, Funny)

Artraze (600366) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860867)

It's just as well though. Think of how disappointing it would be if they did launch something all that way only that have it collide with the polar orbiter upon arrival...

Re:Stop misunderstanding Russian space announcemen (2, Insightful)

drolli (522659) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860919)

Thats pretty much the same for space programs in the west.

Hookers in space part 3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26861889)

the movie made in orbit

Weird... (4, Funny)

Nicopa (87617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860797)

In soviet space, you can hear no one screaming...

(!)

Re:Weird... (1)

binaryseraph (955557) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861177)

In soviet planet there is no 'you' there is only 'we'

Russia aims towards Mars, ... (3, Funny)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860809)

but sometimes they hit Georgia.

Russia Saves US Manned Spaceflight? (4, Interesting)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860877)

It's quite ironic that it looks like the only thing that will save US manned spaceflight & planetary exploration from becoming a sacrificial lamb on the altar of pork & payoffs by short-sighted, corrupt US politicians may well be a re-emerging, hostile, and aggressive Russia.

It looks like it may be more effective for US citizens who are in favor of NOT letting our manned spaceflight capabilities die from neglect to, rather than contributing money to any US politicians or organizations, donate money to the Russian spaceflight program instead.

It seems that US politicians have so abandoned any pretense of doing the will of the people, of upholding & defending the US Constitution, and acting in the countries' best interests, that we may in future find it much more effective to donate money to our various enemies and rivals like Russia, Al Queda, and Ahmadinejad to preserve our freedom and prevent our politicians from doing things like de-funding NASA and the US military to fund their pork-filled, quid-pro-quo/payoff-laden, "bridge to nowhere" projects and social-engineering experiments designed to increase their voter-base.

Cheers!

Strat

Re:Russia Saves US Manned Spaceflight? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26861007)

Projects which might be considered farsighted to one voter would be pork/special interest to another. With that caveat in mind, reviving the manned space program would be ideal for a stimulus project, just like Reagan's defense buildup in the helped pull us out of a deep recession in the early '80s (almost as bad as today's). Yes, the resulting budget deficits were huge, but with tax revenues pouring in they eventually became manageable.

Just think of the tech spinoffs. And our students would have a real motivation for learning math and science, other than needing good grades to get a ticket punched for law or med school.

Re:Russia Saves US Manned Spaceflight? (4, Informative)

imasu (1008081) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861253)

Actually the budget deficits were not manageable; they were simply pushed back.

This is not a partisan issue at all; increases in the national debt are public record and there for anyone to see, be it on wikipedia or .gov websites.

The Reagan administration borrowed more money than all the presidents before him, combined. Basically, it was the same idea as living "well" by maxing out credit cards and getting new ones when you fill up the old ones. Fun while it lasts, but someone has to pay for it eventually.

So, we get to where we are today, with the interest on the national debt being more than 20 times NASA's annual budget. Granted, a lot of that came from both presidents Bush too, especially the latter. GHWB kind of inherited a problem there from Reagan.

Anyway, remember that when you look back to the Reagan years as some kind of boon for the space industry. Short term, definitely; long term, not so much.

Re:Russia Saves US Manned Spaceflight? (2, Interesting)

imasu (1008081) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861527)

Why not let (extraorbital) US Manned Spaceflight die for now?

Before you reply, consider for a moment the relative gains we have gotten from things like Hubble, Cassini, the mars rovers, Japan's Hinode solar satellite, etc, to what we have achieved with the ISS and the projected goals of Orion, versus the costs of the programs.

I have a strong knee-jerk reaction against letting manned spaceflight die too; dammit, I *want* people to walk on Mars. But the fact is, we are learning a hell of a lot from unmanned missions at a tiny fraction of the cost.

We can resurrect the idea of extraorbital manned missions at any time; would it make sense to shelve them for now though?

Also, I wouldn't frame the argument for manned spaceflight as "will of the people" if I were you; what you and I want in this respect is likely quite different than the (general) "will of the people".

Re:Russia Saves US Manned Spaceflight? (4, Insightful)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861677)

We can resurrect the idea of extraorbital manned missions at any time...

Respectfully, this is where you are wrong.

The learned skills and experienced personnel will not wait around. If they aren't used, they will be lost and have to be entirely re-learned and replaced again with the attendant costs in wealth, time, and lives. The engineers with the necessary skills and experience will have to find other employment and careers, which they won't simply drop to return whenever it again becomes politically expedient to start up extra-orbital manned spaceflight again.

A manned spaceflight program, and especially an extra-orbital manned spaceflight program, can't simply be put on 'hold' for years and have any hope of retaining viability without almost starting completely over from scratch again. This has already been proven by our inability to build a modernized Saturn V again. Heck, we can't even *find* all the old plans anymore!

Young people choosing education and career paths won't be choosing those that provide the skills necessary if there's not a viable career waiting for them. It will require a whole new generation of people to be educated and then more years to re-gain all the experience and learned skills lost.

We will, out of pure necessity, *have to* eventually have an extra-orbital manned spaceflight program. We can choose to do it now, or we can procrastinate and raise the inevitable eventual costs in lives and treasure, and possibly cost ourselves our species' ultimate survival.

Not trying to be insulting, but don't be penny-wise and pound-foolish. For a tiny fraction of the treasure wasted in the "stimulus" package just passed (and assuming that only a fraction of the total package is "waste"), we could have *both* types of programs fully-funded and running in parallel, each benefiting and complimenting the other. The combined economic, technical, and societal benefits of which I guarantee will dwarf anything this stimulus package could ever hope to do.

Cheers!

Strat

Re:Russia Saves US Manned Spaceflight? (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861793)

It's quite ironic that it looks like the only thing that will save US manned spaceflight & planetary exploration from becoming a sacrificial lamb on the altar of pork & payoffs by short-sighted, corrupt US politicians may well be a re-emerging, hostile, and aggressive Russia.

I don't find that strange at all. Competition breeds innovation.

2 things in the way (4, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860897)

  1. Prices of Oil have plummeted, though at this moment, EU is screwed and paying top dollars for Natural Gas. But EU will be working hard to get themelves unhitched from the Russian Pipeline over the next couple of years. But Oil will remain low.
  2. At the moment, it appears that NASA is going to fund RSA by the ridiculusly high price of ~50M/seat (when they were getting 20M). But more likely than not, NASA is going to fund SpaceX and try to get SpaceX to carry the bulk of the humans for less than half the price.

Basically, RSA is already not well funded. It is not likely that they will get funding for more when Russia is losing money and their economy is crashing HARD.

Re:2 things in the way (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 5 years ago | (#26862625)

But EU will be working hard to get themelves unhitched from the Russian Pipeline over the next couple of years.

By doing what -- buying natural gas from Middle East and paying even more?

At the moment, it appears that NASA is going to fund RSA by the ridiculusly high price of ~50M/seat (when they were getting 20M). But more likely than not, NASA is going to fund SpaceX and try to get SpaceX to carry the bulk of the humans for less than half the price.

They will have their own vehicle before SpaceX will produce anything -- however neither is going to be cheaper to operate.

studies say.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26860947)

A study was recently published showing that the amount of money spent in the last twenty years on studies of how to get to the moon cheaper would have gotten us to the moon twenty years ago using the most expensive plan then proposed.

Meanwhile, on Mars... (4, Funny)

bitrex (859228) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861059)

"Podmates! A new threat from the wretched third planet has presented itself!" roared K'breel, Glorious Elder Speaker of the High Council, the his gelatinous tendrils quivering with excitement. "The detestable ape-people of the Northwestern Continent, having failed pitifully in their invasion of our homeworld with their pathetic wheeled war vehicles, have now attempted to enslave the population of an old adversary to construct their monstrous interplanetary weapons of destruction. Fortunately for our cause, due to the design faults of their primitive neurological systems, and in no small part the assistance of our hidden operatives, their economies have collapsed as a result of their insatiable lust for accumulating worthless structures of planetary rock and decayed photosynthetic matter! They have turned against one another in their uncomprehending rage, bringing the hour of our ultimate victory within sight!"

When one journalist timidly asked of K'breel to confirm the rumors that a new Great Speaker had arisen among the citizens of the Northwestern Continent, who had been prophisized to lead the ape-people to final victory in the interminable conflict, K'breel ordered his gelsacs to be pierced on the spot.

Using ISS for research, finally (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861065)

Some Russian sources also reportedly proposed the (rather ludicrous) idea of converting the ISS into some kind of an interplanetary transport vehicle, which would serve as the 'ultimate mother ship' in manned planetary missions to the moon or even Mars.

It does sound like the submitter has some better use of ISS in mind. He should share it with the rest of the world, especially considering that the warranty on ISS expires 5 years from now, and no new scientific discoveries were reported so far. Most of the ISS's benefits are in the sphere of organizing such a project and building a few unique, new robotic arms, and gaining a better understanding how things break and how to fix them up there (mostly by replacing, which I could have told anyone even before ISS launched :-)

Re:Using ISS for research, finally (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861335)

The ISS is sort of like the Ford Pinto or Chevete Citation of spacecraft in terms of convenience for a long term space flight. It's great for short trips around town and possible to the next town but it start taking it's toll on the passengers when you go much further then that.

Basically, there are some issues with taking it to mars. It would be packed with so much stuff that most of the room would be gone and you would basically be putting it on a trailer and hauling it behind another space vehicle that gas the appropriate thrust and such. Seriously, think about it, Imagine throwing enough stuff for a 6 month trip including food into a pinto or chevete then loading it on a trailer and riding in it from LA to NYC and back for 6 months in a row. Now imagine doing that with a Winnebago and not relying on the trailer. It's just not built for that kind of space travel. And by the time you start putting thing in to counter the effects of gravity, to back up the stuff that already breaks down regularly, and perhaps extra fuel in case someone makes a piloting error when the power system takes another crap and your literally cramming your life into an economy car and attempting to move to some place far away. It can be done but I don't think we should try it.

Re:Using ISS for research, finally (1)

uniqueUser (879166) | more than 5 years ago | (#26862539)

Maybe the retirement of the ISS in 2020 can be a good thing? I wonder how likely it would be for a non-governmental group take take ownership? It would be a ridiculous cost just to get an equivalent amount of mass up there again. I hope we can take advantage of it and not let the ISS's fate be that of Mir.

Bout time. (0, Redundant)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861101)

Russia decided to nuke mars.
I'm going to blindly assume this is the point of the article and see no need to actually read it.

Go Russia!

Re:Bout time. (1)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861285)

I think you're unaware of the proper meaning of Redundant.

Great idea, but the ISS wouldn't be very useful (2, Informative)

Skyth (1477907) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861281)

the ISS needs the earths magnetic field to protect it from solar radiation... the 2 most reliable defenses against it are 1.. about 6 feet of lead to shield from it or 2. create a magnetic field large enough to protect the ISS once it out of earths magnetic field, i am not sure if we have this technology yet and if we did... it would be HUGE so not very likely to fit on the ISS anyway. Another problem assuming the first is fixed.. is fuel... rockets would be a waste of money... would be better off with a newer technology(like deep space one had, ion propulsion) might take a bit to get up to speed but if you are only going to stick it in an orbit around the moon it wouldnt take much with a slingshot from earth. its only about 200k miles anyway.(also dont forget how much fuel you would need for each type of propulsion system... rocket fuel isn't very efficient for long distances and it would take up a LARGE LARGE LARGE amount of space and add weight that you just cant have for this type of thing) It would be more effective to build a spacecraft thats actually designed for interplanetary travel and use the ISS as a "hub" for the spacecraft or something... there are plenty of uses for the ISS beyond 2020, but having it be a manned interplanetary spacecraft just doesn't seem like a viable one.

Re:Great idea, but the ISS wouldn't be very useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26861415)

Any craft send to Mars will need one of those 2 defenses, so I'm not sure why the ISS is any different?

Weight??? You mean mass?

Any ship you build that has sufficient living quarters for a group of 5-10 astronauts and food over a period of at least 2-3 years will have a similar mass, if not more and rocket fuel will be required. Ion drives accelerate too slowly to be useful for this.

Re:Great idea, but the ISS wouldn't be very useful (1)

Skyth (1477907) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861725)

because the ISS was not designed for any of the defenses OR travel like has been mentioned, and yes i meant mass. i was refering to the ION drive as a newer propulsion system, i didnt specifically say they should use it.. but something with better efficiency.. why waste mass on rocket fuel when something lighter and more efficient is available. Rockets are a smart idea for this.

Re:Great idea, but the ISS wouldn't be very useful (1)

Skyth (1477907) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861767)

i meant to say Rockets are NOT a smart idea for this

We have the ISS - let's use it to teh MAXX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26861421)

Well, teh amount of science done on the ISS so far really is minimal and little of it is something that couldn't have been done without having a space station at all (namely longterm exposure to null gravity and such) - on shuttle missions and unmanned craft. In this respect a followup mission for the contraption would make a lot of sense.

I am surprised to hear that the ISS would be taken out in 2020, which would give it only half of operational lifetime completed, after the first half is made of construction, but the use period of all previous space stations has been extended, so I think it's the norm really and will most likely happen with the ISS as well, but we shall see how it'll play out...

A suggestion for power... (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861617)

After the little fiasco this last week, they should design their station with lots of little paddles wheels attached to small generators. That way when the debris clouds from their crashing satellites cause their platform to be continuously pelted by fast moving debris, they can use it to generate power...

EVOLUTION! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26861709)

"Some Russian sources also reportedly proposed the (rather ludicrous) idea of converting the ISS into some kind of an interplanetary transport vehicle, which would serve as the 'ultimate mother ship' in manned planetary missions to the moon or even Mars."

this should have always been the main goal for a project like ISS (INTERNATIONAL space station).
even if it would not have been used (no funding)
to make the acctual trip to moon or mars, it
would have been able to do anything the ISS is
doing currently.
there have been many many orbiting outposts (space
stations) so far.
the next step should definitely be a
interplanetary SPACESHIP. a ferry. a mothership.
grand idea! go for it! something that can make
the trip to moon, mars, Lagrange points multiple
times.
just from an economic perspective, a regular
approach to interplanetary travel ala apollo,
throws away / discards 96% of the mass that is
heaved into orbit.
if there were a permanent structure in orbit, a framwork of some sort, one would only need to
send up a engine / fuel and the passengers/astro-cosmonauts. if the engine were re-usable , then just fuel and passengers.
so fellow slashdoters, a a sure-tell sign, that
a mission to mars will just be a pride thing ("plant the flag already fred and let's go home")
will be the fact that it will be a apollo style
mission, with 98% of the engineered and launched
mass discarded.

re: ISS --- ITV? (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861763)

Neat... it will become a movable feast [imdb.com] for our Martian overlords and space aliens, then?

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26862275)

"Get your ass to Mars"

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