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NASA Rejoins Space Race With Manned Deep Space Craft

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the taking-a-long-trip dept.

NASA 179

Laura K. Cowan writes "NASA is back in the future-tech space race with a new manned deep space craft called the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, which aims to take astronauts on longer missions to deep space, eventually to planets such as Mars where only unmanned crafts have previously traveled. The MPCV holds 4 astronauts, is currently capable of 3-week missions, and not only could take mankind to new frontiers but is billed as being '10 times safer... than the current space shuttle.' Maybe there is hope for space travel outside the X Prize."

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179 comments

capable for 3 week missions (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36244654)

Going to mars with a vehicle capable for 3 week missions is a bit of a stretch.

Re:capable for 3 week missions (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36244770)

"currently capable of 3-week missions" is what they claim. Looks to me like the first step of many in the right direction. Go NASA!

Re:capable for 3 week missions (0)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36244798)

Look!

Let's retread Apollo Command and Service modules.

Yawn. I guess this IS a step forward, from doing nothing at all.

Re:capable for 3 week missions (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36244888)

So you want to replace something that works with something shinier?

Apollo did it right, the space shuttle can now hopefully be forgotten. Let us all remember the people go on top of the fiery bits, not next to them.

Re:capable for 3 week missions (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245104)

Yep, the Space Shuttle existed only for the cold war. It was to let the Soviets know that we could put a nuke delivery system into space. The Soviets even made one of their own, complete with a launch system. The USSR collapsed before that program was ever completed but they did send it on one unmanned space flight.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buran_(spacecraft) [wikipedia.org]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6WHjQ3Y3Uo [youtube.com]

Re:capable for 3 week missions (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245016)

And what would you replace them with?

Re:capable for 3 week missions (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36246374)

X-Wings!

Really, how about any of the craft in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odessey. He was working with Bob McCall and Willy Ley and all of that crew - who were tasked with imagining the post-Apollo vision of space exploration. The PanAm shuttle was eerily like the configuration of the Rockwell NASA shuttle...

But it were not to be...

Re:capable for 3 week missions (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245020)

So, pray tell, Mr Space Expert, what big improvements would you have made? Nice simple capsule concept, with well-understood characteristics, and adequate for the job. Very similar to something that was close to an operational system and known to be nicely adaptable. Seems like a pretty good idea to me, but please, do wow us!

Re:capable for 3 week missions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36245124)

Space Nutters have no real concept of engineering and physical reality. They took all their engineering from Star Trek and add a bunch of romantic nonsense about "exploring"... "Deep space" and "three weeks" also don't really go together...

Re:capable for 3 week missions (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245414)

There are no more engineers at NASA.

Just bureaucrats with technical degrees.

Re:capable for 3 week missions (1)

Strider- (39683) | more than 3 years ago | (#36246060)

Nonsense... In my previous job, I worked with several excellent Engineering types from NASA. Aside from the backroom guys who build the equipment that flies, the Astronauts themselves are very much Engineers. Mario Runco, for example, was responsible for the design and testing of the large window that exists on the Destiny lab.

Re:capable for 3 week missions (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245114)

Where should we start? We have to start at the end of Apollo because we wasted all that time and money with the useless shuttle.

Next, some one should come up with a rocket that has at least the lift capacity of the old Saturn V. None of the proposed launch vehicles even come close.

We have been out of the space business for a long time. We have to start somewhere, like where we left off.

Re:capable for 3 week missions (3, Interesting)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245176)

Next, some one should come up with a rocket that has at least the lift capacity of the old Saturn V. None of the proposed launch vehicles even come close.

Can someone in the know tell me what was wrong with Ares V (other than it was proposed by the previous Administration)? Ares 1 was a clusterfuck, but Ares V looked like a decent heavy lifter.

Re:capable for 3 week missions (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245152)

    I was excited by the story title, and depressed when I read the rest.

    We are at KSC for the STS-134 launch. While we were there, we toured the visitors center. You can look at the mockups of various capsules, and walk inside a cutaway of the STS orbiter. It was all exciting stuff, except when you consider their great Orion capsule.

    No offense to the astronauts who have, and may go up in the future. I'd have to believe you'd rather be in a bigger, better ship, than crammed into something smaller than a VW bug for a month in space. Come on, a capsule that size, for a month long mission? They can't even stand up. Well, stretch to full extension, since "up" doesn't exactly work, unless you're saying it relative to the floor of the capsule. :)

    Orion would be what I'd see as an emergency transport system. If all else fails, you can get someone up or down in one, but that's about it. Or as I was telling my girlfriend, "Look at the distance from the bottom of the seat, to the bottom of the capsule. I wouldn't want my ass that close to plasma burning away at the hull."

   

Re:capable for 3 week missions (1)

rednip (186217) | more than 3 years ago | (#36246378)

What do you want? A space liner with a lido deck? Bigelow space is working on an inflatable space habit, which I'm sure would be perfect for asteroid interception. However if you want real luxury, you'll need to wait another 10 - 100 years.

Re:capable for 3 week missions (1)

wxjones (721556) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245170)

In an era where all space science is done by unmanned probes and robots, I think it says a lot that we are willing to preserve our heritage in manned space flight. These selfless men and women in their period costumes, devote their careers to re-enacting history, so that we can enjoy the spectacle. Very much like the royal family in the UK. I'm so happy that the US taxpayers are willing to spend billions of dollars each year to keep this history alive. It is almost as good as civil war re-enactments!

Re:capable for 3 week missions (1)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 3 years ago | (#36246050)

In an era where all space science is done by unmanned probes and robots, I think it says a lot that we are willing to preserve our heritage in manned space flight. These selfless men and women in their period costumes, devote their careers to re-enacting history, so that we can enjoy the spectacle. Very much like the royal family in the UK. I'm so happy that the US taxpayers are willing to spend billions of dollars each year to keep this history alive. It is almost as good as civil war re-enactments!

One day in the (hopefully) distant future, the human race will be forced by overpopulation to colonize other planets. If we don't spend any time developing ways to get PEOPLE into space, then that will never happen and we will all be fucked here on Earth.

Re:capable for 3 week missions (1)

Stoutlimb (143245) | more than 3 years ago | (#36246408)

Historically war and famine have been much cheaper alternatives to overpopulation. For a more humane way, the Chinese seem to be doing fairly well.

I can't imagine any launch and colonization effort would come within several orders of magnitude for any form of affordability. There are plenty of very good reasons to colonize in space, but I can't imagine solving overpopulation as being one of them. Not with the current level of technology, or anything remotely feasible on the drawing board.

Re:capable for 3 week missions (1)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 3 years ago | (#36246478)

Space travel is still in its very infancy. This is mostly due to the fact that it's only been explored by governments. In the last few years, though, private enterprise has taken a liking to it and I'm sure that very soon we will see an explosion (pun not intended) in new technologies and especially new efficiencies. When cars were still new, they were completely unaffordable to most everybody. When air travel was still new, it was completely unaffordable to most everybody. When computers were still new, they were completely unaffordable to most everybody. The major difference between those industries and space travel is that those industries were STARTED by private enterprise looking to make oodles of money so things progressed much faster.

Re:capable for 3 week missions (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36246414)

To paraphrase Charles Bukowski, "What's it matter? A guy is an asshole on the Earth, he's still an asshole on the moon."

Change yourself.

Re:capable for 3 week missions (1)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245324)

Yeh, because what they've been using more than the shuttle is so much more advanced.

Funny thing is, THIS IS ROCKET SCIENCE. Stupid comments like this betray one's inability to understand why the shuttle was a REALLY bad idea.

If a shuttle has a bad launch, everyone dies. If a Soyuz has a bad launch, the command module ends up in Siberia. I know what I'd prefer to fly.

Re:capable for 3 week missions (1)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 3 years ago | (#36246058)

If a Soyuz has a bad launch, the command module ends up in Siberia. I know what I'd prefer to fly.

The shuttle? I'd rather die than spend a day in Siberia.

IN SOVIET RUSSIA (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36246424)

Siberia spends a day in YOU!

At last! (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 3 years ago | (#36244716)

Back to real rockets, and rocketmen! (women also).

The sooner the Shuttles can be put on display in museums, the better.

Re:At last! (1)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245298)

I think it's going to be a long long time..

Re:At last! (1)

Medevilae (1456015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36246298)

July isn't that far away...?

Believe it when its built (2)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 3 years ago | (#36244726)

How many "concept art" drawings have we seen from NASA regarding anything deep space?

Stop talking about it and start doing it.

Re:Believe it when its built (2, Insightful)

dmgxmichael (1219692) | more than 3 years ago | (#36244822)

Built hell. I'll believe when the sucker is launched... with a crew.

Re:Believe it when its built (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36245272)

It's being built just a few miles from where I sit. NASA is just re-branding the Orion capsule, currently being manufactured in Lockheed-Martin's Denver facility. Nothing really new about it but the name.

Dissapointing (2)

socz (1057222) | more than 3 years ago | (#36244734)

Why do they insist on capsules? Why not take the advice of someone from FPA; build it at the space station and design it to refuel/load from there, eliminating the need to return to earth? We still have to get things up to the ISS, but that'll be left to the Russians and their superior rockets. We can take over 'space exploration' by just skipping that part. "Oh but what if they don't want to help us shuttle our crew/items up to the ISS one day?" No worries, Virgin and Japan/other countries are working on that! So we'll find one way or another to get to the ISS.

Re:Dissapointing (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36244796)

The continuation of the space station is very uncertain... unless it is converted to a military base

Re:Dissapointing (3, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245286)

    Don't worry, there will be military bases up there. It'll happen shortly after private organizations make their own spacecraft for deep space travel.

    Consider what would happen if a private company found asteroids made of precious metals. Like, bringing home a metric-fuck-ton of gold would devalue the gold commodities market so much, it would be worth just about as much as fine grain silicon dioxide. You think these wars for oil are rough? They'd look like a little border skirmish compared to what they'd do to the people saturating the precious metals market.

Re:Dissapointing (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245722)

Mass on orbit is worth more then gold on earth.

Gold would make good shielding.

Re:Dissapointing (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36246016)

Mass on orbit is worth more then gold on earth.

Unless it isn't. Then it's just dangerous space trash.

Gold would make good shielding.

I agree. It could be an important component in our fully automated solar powered self replicating asteroid farming robots...

Re:Dissapointing (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36246210)

Not a chance, really. You're seriously underestimating the production volume of precious metals on Earth, if you think any conceivable spacecraft could bring enough of it in to make a dent in the prices. You're also vastly underestimating the effort it would take to mine an asteroid. Just developing and building the energy infrastructure required for refining ore in space is going to be a multi-decade endeavor if it ever happens. It could potentially be useful for something exceedingly rare, like some rare earth elements and platinum group metals, but generally if the element occurs naturally on Earth it will never be economically viable to bring it back from the outside.

Asteroid mining will most likely only be viable for in-space uses, such as building spacecraft and infrastructure in zero-g. Iron is particularly plentiful in asteroids, useful for building robust space stations and moon bases, and heinously expensive to launch from Earth but could be shipped cheaply if slowly across the solar system along "free-transfer" paths.

Re:Dissapointing (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 3 years ago | (#36244854)

An AC three posts down from your answered it quite well:

Gotta keep the boys at Lockheed Martin in pork

I don't think there was much in the way of "campaign contributions" from Russians or Japanese.

Re:Dissapointing (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245100)

How can they "build it at the space station"? The ISS has no construction or testing hardware, everything you built at the ISS would have to be launched from Earth anyway.

Re:Dissapointing (3, Interesting)

tyrione (134248) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245146)

Why do they insist on capsules? Why not take the advice of someone from FPA; build it at the space station and design it to refuel/load from there, eliminating the need to return to earth? We still have to get things up to the ISS, but that'll be left to the Russians and their superior rockets. We can take over 'space exploration' by just skipping that part. "Oh but what if they don't want to help us shuttle our crew/items up to the ISS one day?" No worries, Virgin and Japan/other countries are working on that! So we'll find one way or another to get to the ISS.

We'd first have to actually build a large scale Space Port, not to mention more advanced large assembly equipment and space suit assembly equipment for the staff before we can pull a Star Trek.

Re:Dissapointing (3)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245288)

OK. Let's do that.

Re:Dissapointing (1)

socz (1057222) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245418)

I agree. Why couldn't we? We don't need to build a huge 'space port,' we can build something that is sufficiently large enough to get it done. We can ship up parts and assemble while docked or in a 'port.' It'd be lego assembly easy.

@wyatt

Everything has to be sent up anyways, but why try to send anything up in its entirety every time? That's where the station could really shine!

Re:Dissapointing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36245578)

Maybe because it takes 2000 times longer to assemble things up there?

Re:Dissapointing (1)

caseih (160668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245332)

I don't know of anyone who's not insisting on capsules for manned flight. What else would you suggest?

Re:Dissapointing (1)

OctaviusIII (969957) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245778)

Well I like the concepts in this thread: build a ship that stays in-orbit. Ship up fuel but not the beast itself. I can see problems, though: 1) Huge rockets yield huge thrust that grants the craft escape velocity; any spacecraft that remains on-orbit would need to perform sufficient thrust to push it out of our gravity well. 2) It would need to be cheaper to launch the fuel for the aforementioned thrust than just doing it all in one go with a capsule. Often, it's the fuel and not the spacecraft that makes up the bulk of the launch mass. Solar sailing or ion thrust, although obviating the need for much of the fuel shipments, adds significant cost in terms of time spent en route to a given destination. Gotta circle the globe for a month or so before you can go anywhere. 3) Maintenance would be a pain in the ass. The ISS functions reasonably well, but it isn't shuddering to life and blasting off to deep space every few months. Making a ship that's servicable on-orbit by a nonspecialized crew of 6 instead of thousands of techs could be exceedingly difficult.

Re:Dissapointing (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36246476)

Often, it's the fuel and not the spacecraft that makes up the bulk of the launch mass.

Often??

Actually, since mass ratio to reach LEO is about 10, it's fairly safe to say that fuel is "the bulk of the launch".

Hint: Mass ratio is the number you multiply the empty mass of a launch vehicle (or any other spacecraft) by to get mass with fuel. So typical launch vehicles are more than 90% fuel....

Re:Dissapointing (3)

Macgyveric (879573) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245822)

Why do they insist on capsules? Why not take the advice of someone from FPA; build it at the space station and design it to refuel/load from there, eliminating the need to return to earth? We still have to get things up to the ISS, but that'll be left to the Russians and their superior rockets. We can take over 'space exploration' by just skipping that part. "Oh but what if they don't want to help us shuttle our crew/items up to the ISS one day?" No worries, Virgin and Japan/other countries are working on that! So we'll find one way or another to get to the ISS.

I think for the same reason the Space Shuttle can't visit BOTH the Hubble Telescope and the Space Station in one trip is the same reason why you wouldn't ever have a ship from beyond low earth orbit return to dock at the Space Station...the necessary changes in velocity would require too much fuel. Picture this: the ISS is orbiting earth at 17,000 mph, while the Apollo craft had to reach speeds of 25,000 mph to go to the moon. You don't just get to slow down for free in space, so would you rather launch your rocket from earth to bring more mass (computers, moon buggies, test equipment, etc.) to your destination? Or would you rather use fuel as that mass so you can slow down from deep space to dock at the station?

Re:Dissapointing (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245848)

Why do they insist on capsules? Why not take the advice of someone from FPA; build it at the space station and design it to refuel/load from there, eliminating the need to return to earth?

Because that takes considerably more lift capacity, more life support capacity, more time, and is much higher risk. Not to mention that the ISS is in an orbit that is difficult to get to from the US (imposing a large cargo penalty) and not very good for getting to anywhere from (imposing yet more of a cargo penalty).
 

We still have to get things up to the ISS, but that'll be left to the Russians and their superior rockets.

If Russian rockets were superior, you'd have a point. But when it comes to reliability, they're in pretty much the same 98-99% ballpark as everyone else. (Including the Shuttle.)
 

"Oh but what if they don't want to help us shuttle our crew/items up to the ISS one day?" No worries, Virgin and Japan/other countries are working on that! So we'll find one way or another to get to the ISS.

Virgin is building a suborbital amusement park ride, not an orbiter. Japan is building an umanned cargo vessel, not a manner orbiter.

Re:Dissapointing (4, Interesting)

john.r.strohm (586791) | more than 3 years ago | (#36246358)

There's an outfit called SpaceX. They build a booster called the Falcon 9. They build a BMF version of it, called the Falcon 9 Heavy.

NASA recently took all the data on the Falcon 9, and shoveled it into their cost model system. Done as a NASA project, Falcon 9 estimates out at something like 7 billion dollars. Done as a Commercial project, with NASA supervision, it still costs out at 1.5 billion. The problem with those estimates is that SpaceX did the whole shebang for about 300 million.

When your cost model system says it will cost five times as much as it actually did, either your cost model system is utter bullstuff, or you've shoveled in a HUGE amount of gold-plating and featherbedding. Probably both.

Re:Dissapointing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36246364)

Building rockets that can escape earth's gravity is more than just space exploration, there are military uses for this technology and it helps justify the expenses.

Beyond X Prize (2)

Ashenkase (2008188) | more than 3 years ago | (#36244760)

"Maybe there is hope for space travel outside the X Prize" I guess the author hasn't been following the private space race at all over the last couple of years. SpaceX's accomplishments alone puts us far past X Prize days and into a new frontier, especially with SpaceX Heavy slated for 2014/2015.

10x safer (1)

yotto (590067) | more than 3 years ago | (#36244778)

So only one out of every 500 or so will explode? /but I don't wanna explode!

ka ching! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36244788)

Gotta keep the boys at Lockheed Martin in pork

Not really noteworthy news (1)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 3 years ago | (#36244790)

Everyone following NASA even remotely knew that Orion was going to be the MPCV.

Re:Not really noteworthy news (2)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 3 years ago | (#36244894)

No, Orion was going to be the most awesome thing humanity has ever produced. Then they cancelled it.

Re:Not really noteworthy news (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245122)

Indeed, to call this thing Orion is disgusting.

Re:Not really noteworthy news (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245178)

Constellation was canceled, Orion is still alive as it is the very vehicle. Orion is officially known as the MPCV (Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orion_(spacecraft) [wikipedia.org]

"As of 11 October 2010, with the canceling of the Constellation Program, the Ares program has ended and the Orion vehicle is now planned to be launched on top of Space Launch System, an intended cheaper alternative to the Ares series."

Re:Not really noteworthy news (1)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245368)

No it was not. This announcement is about rebranding Orion as the MPCV.

Let's see... (1)

milbournosphere (1273186) | more than 3 years ago | (#36244812)

how SpaceX and the like can fill the heavy lifting gap left by the shuttle. I think it'd be awesome to commoditize (not sure if that's a word) the act of getting equipment to LEO and the ISS, while letting NASA concentrate on far-flung missions and manned and probe-based exploration. That said, NASA really needs to work on a better name for that module.

Re:Let's see... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36244954)

SpaceX will be sending up their heavy in 2014/2015. If you can get rid of the political keep the Beoing and Lockheed in pork BS prices can come down.

Re:Let's see... (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245240)

Because the US doesn't have any heavy lift rockets, oh wait!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta_IV [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlas_V [wikipedia.org]

Re:Let's see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36245402)

Far more expensive than anything SpaceX offers. SpaceX will have those replaced in 2 years, if not less...

Re:Let's see... (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245724)

I didn't know that SpaceX was in the ICBM business. These are rockets that we have now, and we do not even need to human rate them in order to use them for launching cargo into space, although man ratings are under way.

Political Maneuvring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36244814)

MPCV is the new way to say Orion [nasawatch.com] . The Constellation program became politically radioactive, so they renamed it's flagship project.

Re:Political Maneuvring (0)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 3 years ago | (#36244922)

MPCV is the new way to say Orion [nasawatch.com] . The Constellation program became politically radioactive, so they renamed it's flagship project.

No, Obama canceled Orion, renamed it and the relaunched it with his name on it.

Re:Political Maneuvring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36245192)

The Obama?

Re:Political Maneuvring (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245668)

Orion was never canceled, try keeping up with the facts.

Nothing new here; just politics (5, Informative)

cyberfringe (641163) | more than 3 years ago | (#36244820)

This is simply a rebranded Orion capsule. I worked on Constellation (from inside NASA) for years and helped the program get started. There is no rocket to launch the capsule. There is no mission for it. Nothing on the books, nothing remotely near ready for approval. Just how "deep" into space will it go with a mission time of 21 days? Hint: The Moon is not "deep space". Mars is deep space. Mars is at least 6 months away - one direction. Finally, how many times (altogether now) have we heard "advanced avionics"? That means they are up to Web 0.42 now, maybe. Bottom line: This is pure pork for Lockheed-Martin (Lockheed HQ is in Maryland; Dem. Senator Mikulski is on the Appropriation Committee). It is a multiple billion dollar gift. It will never fly. Ever. I'll bet a fair share of the related jobs go to Houston and to Huntsville, AL (Rep. Sen. Shelby, also on the Appropriations committee).

Re:Nothing new here; just politics (1)

harperska (1376103) | more than 3 years ago | (#36244892)

And SpaceX will be launching a deep space exploration craft from the Bigelow Space Station long before the MPCV gets a single test flight.

Re:Nothing new here; just politics (1)

clutch110 (528473) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245194)

Actually quite a few of the jobs will be in Colorado according to this Denver Post article http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_18132552 [denverpost.com] .

Re:Nothing new here; just politics (2)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245378)

In defense of TFA, the summary isn't accurate. The article's author even says

missions lasting upwards of 21 days (so, no Mars landings just yet),

And the "deep space" designation I'm willing to bet is just to get public support (although I don't know why you wouldn't just say "Let's go back to the moon."). Take it from NASA Admin Charles Boldin

We are committed to human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and look forward to developing the next generation of systems to take us there.

"Deep space" sounds, and is easier to understand to laymen than "outside low-earth orbit"

Re:Nothing new here; just politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36246004)

Since you worked CxP..you should know the avionics network refers to TTGbE...covered here in the past. [slashdot.org]

21 days powered on, the 210-day loiter requirement stays. Orion will be attached to a Hab, powered down for "the drive" on NEO\ Mars type missions.

2013 Flight test on a Delta IV Heavy.

FUD from a former worker...sad.

Re:Nothing new here; just politics (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#36246244)

This is so sad. No rocket, no mission, and they point out how many different states are building it. Space welfare no more and no less.

Re:Nothing new here; just politics (2)

cratermoon (765155) | more than 3 years ago | (#36246472)

Allow me to say it more colorfully:

NASA announced Tuesday that they will continue to blow wads of cash on a failed design for a spacecraft.

The Orion capsule, now dubbed "MPCV", in development since 2005 but not even ready for first launch, will continue to suck up money that could go to efforts that have a chance of producing something tangible well before 2015.

The bloated, overweight, and complicated capsule that has already made $5 billion disappear into a black hole will continue as a contract to fill prime contractor Lockheed Martin's coffers.

Amusingly, the PR materials show the as-yet-nothing-but-a-ground-test-article spacecraft in Mars orbit, even though it only has a 21-day mission span.

Idiotic Waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36244830)

Of PRECIOUS Eath Resources for NOTHING

Re:Idiotic Waste (1)

basketcase (114777) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245014)

You think we get nothing from exploring beyond our tiny little insignificant spec of space?

Re:Idiotic Waste (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245046)

One could say the same about you...

Manned, Schmanned: +1, Helpful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36244938)

and requires Soyuz [energia.ru] launch services.

Go Energia !!!!

Yours in Miami,
K. Trout

Vapor-where? (1)

bwohlgemuth (182897) | more than 3 years ago | (#36244962)

Isn't "Deep Space" supposed to be outside the influence of the Earth's Gravitational Field? Because three weeks of spaceflight probably won't get you there unless someone has packed a VASIMR engine and a nuke power plant inside of the Lego set NASA is calling a deep space vehicle.

Re:Vapor-where? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36245092)

Gravity's effect has infinite distance. You must define a significance cutoff value to have an "outside the (significant) influence of Earth's gravity".

Re:Vapor-where? (1)

ZankerH (1401751) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245102)

Strictly speaking, the Moon is outside the Earth's sphere of influence. The only reason it's orbiting us is because the sum of the gravitational forces of both the Earth and the Moon are somewhat greater than the Sun's gravitational influence.

Deep Space starts where? Politics, once again. (5, Informative)

cyberfringe (641163) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245460)

So here is the story: inside NASA, "Deep Space" used to mean (prior to 2003) anything beyond the orbit of the Moon. This was intended to be the domain of work for science and telecommunications ops of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), an FFRDC operated by Caltech as a NASA center. Inside the Moon's orbit was the domain of scientific work for NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). This included Earth observing science and telecom as well as astrophysics spacecraft. During the Constellation program, when simply returning to the Moon was not enough justification for the program and seeking a way to justify control of the design of deep space telecom for manned spaceflight, the Constellation Program Office at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) and NASA GSFC sought to redefine deep space as anything beyond HEO. This was also an attempt by GSFC to put JPL's Deep Space Interplanetary Network (aka "DSN) on the sideline of the design process for Constellation deep space telecom. (Furthermore, GSFC at the time was lobbying to get new Earth orbiting telecom spacecraft launched and needed additional justification, ergo "they are good for Constellation"). I don't think the issue was every resolved one way or another as far as "official" definitions go and in the end, not much changed before Constellation was cancelled. The lesson is this: Words like "deep space" can mean a lot when government research centers are fighting to protect their charters and business base. I'm glad I'm out of that biz!

Re:Deep Space starts where? Politics, once again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36245958)

Wow. And I thought deep space was simply outside the Alpha Quadrant...

Re:Vapor-where? (1)

the_enigma_1983 (742079) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245568)

I thought "sphere of influence" meant that, in your example, the Moon is not influenced by Earth at all (or at least, significantly). As in, even if the Earth were not there, the Moon would still be there and in its present orbit?

The way you wrote it, it sounds like the Earth does have an effect on the Moon, which I thought meant that the Moon was inside the Earth's sphere of influence?

Re:Vapor-where? (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245132)

My guess is that they're defining "Deep Space" as "Anything above LEO"

Makes you think... (1)

stalky14 (574130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36244998)

"The year is 1987 and NASA launches the last of its deep space probes. Fleeing the Cylon tyranny, a young loaner, captain William "Buck" Rogers is on a quest to champion the innocent, the helpless, the powerless, from a world of criminals who operate above the law. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. These are their stories. *BUM-BUM*"

New definition of "current"? (2)

Platinum Dragon (34829) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245028)

This thing isn't even out of the design phase, so it's a bit... i dunno... presumptuous to state it's "currently" capable of anything.

On top of that, 21 days doesn't let you get very far from Earth into "deep space", unless LM is sitting on a revolutionary propulsion system for the capsule, which given the budgets and proposals involved doesn't seem likely. Moon missions are possible, which would be neat to get back into, but until NASA gets the budget of their dreams while DoD has to hold a fundraiser to pay for those new aircraft carriers (or a non-gubmint concern cooks up something awesome), I just can't get too excited over these press releases.

Not so safe (1)

suitti (447395) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245074)

The Shuttle has a 1 in 50 chance of failure. That's not exactly the right benchmark. 1 in 500 isn't particularly good.

Re:Not so safe (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245316)

No, it does not have a 1 in 50 chance of failure.

And for space flight, 1 in 500 is remarkable.

Imaginary Spacecraft (1)

WoollyMittens (1065278) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245094)

Because making far fetched plans is cheaper than actually doing manned spaceflight.

SpaceX Dragon Capsule is far less expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36245108)

The SpaceX Dragon Capsule is far less expensive and has already been tested in Space. They are also retrofitting it with thrusters so that it can have controlled landing. Why NASA is wasting their time and money with Lockheed is beyond me... *waves goodbye to his tax money*

Sad, just sad (1)

arikol (728226) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245188)

It's sad to see that NASA has been reduced to this. A modern recreation of their 1960's glory-day technology. The Russians have Soyuz which is an evolved an mature version of their old tech, tremendously improved over the original, and NASA wants to field something which is pretty much an upgraded Apollo system.

Ask the Russians for the ride up and down, make something cool for deeper space exploration which doesn't need to make the huge trade-offs of aerodynamic braking and stability but rather is optimised for longer times of habitation (i.e. bigger, doesn't require massive heat shields or a cone shaped body).

Bloody bureaucracy killing space exploration :(

10x safer? (0)

esme (17526) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245208)

So they think this will only kill 1.4 people?

About Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36245262)

Please, if you arrive to Mars, bring back the Spirit, the sad alone robot.

2x safety advantage is built-in (1)

TwineLogic (1679802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245362)

Because it holds 1/2 as many astronauts as shuttle did...

Outside the X-Prize? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36245472)

Maybe there is hope for space travel outside the X Prize.

Surely you mean "maybe there is hope for American space travel outside the X Prize"...

10 times safer .. (1)

n5vb (587569) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245476)

"10 times safer than the current [now obsolete] space shuttle" is probably barely safe enough .. the "current space shuttle" has a record of 2 actual LOVC's in flight, which is 2 more than anything else we've ever flown in space. (The only LOVC the Apollo program suffered was the Apollo 1 fire, and Apollo 13 survived a catastrophic LOX tank failure late in the lunar transit.)

4 crew for a mission time of 21 days isn't that big an advance over 3 crew for 10-14 (?) days, which is what the CSM was capable of around the time of 17 and ASTP. If it still has solar power, and has the ability to be shut down on-orbit while docked to ISS, then that's an improvement over the CSM whose fuel cells couldn't be shut down and safely restarted, but those are evolutionary, not revolutionary.

Is this really the future of manned spaceflight? China has this level of tech .. :/

Deep space? (1)

dicobalt (1536225) | more than 3 years ago | (#36245682)

I wouldn't consider anywhere inside the solar system as being deep space.

Does this look disturbingly like the Orion? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36246024)

Seriously.

This seems to be the Orion with a new background pic. Four astronauts, 3 week mission.

And where are they going with a three week mission? The moon again?

Progress? (1)

Wolfling1 (1808594) | more than 3 years ago | (#36246052)

Cue the "Magic Carpet Ride"

Infinity times safer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36246274)

...because it will never get off the ground.

New Big Rockets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36246352)

How come no one mentions SpaceX in all these discussions? A Falcon 9 can certainly handle a large capsule and so much more.

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