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NASA Chief Tells the Critics of Exploration Plan: "Get Over It"

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the ask-me-if-I-care dept.

NASA 216

mknewman (557587) writes "For years, critics have been taking shots at NASA's plans to corral a near-Earth asteroid before moving on to Mars — and now NASA's chief has a message for those critics: 'Get over it, to be blunt.' NASA Administrator Charles Bolden defended the space agency's 20-year timeline for sending astronauts to the Red Planet on Tuesday, during the opening session of this year's Humans 2 Mars Summit at George Washington University in the nation's capital."

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Just say no to NASA (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46830689)

NASA, these days, is nothing but an organization designed to enrich top managers and engineers. It's a jobs program designed to pay out huge paychecks and accrue great retirement benefits.

Re:Just say no to NASA (1)

MorbidBBQ (1453553) | about 5 months ago | (#46831665)

Interesting point. Back it up with some data, and get modded out of flamebait?

Re:Just say no to NASA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831803)

Will this do?

http://www.amazon.com/Dragonfl... [amazon.com]

Re:Just say no to NASA (1, Redundant)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 5 months ago | (#46831915)

You can mod the AC down if you like, but it's true. NASA basically does just enough to justify its budget each year. But it's really more of an employment program and funnel for government leech contractors than anything resembling what it was during the Space Race. So they play along with whatever fictional promises the latest President makes, send up some probes, and piddle around on ISS. But they know damn well that they aren't ever going to put a man on Mars (probably not ever even the moon again). Shit, they can't even put a man in LEO right now.

So every President makes his obligatory "We're going to Mars!!" speech. And every year we not only don't get any closer to that goal, we get further away.

A man may one day set foot on Mars, but he won't be wearing a NASA patch on his spacesuit.

Re:Just say no to NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46832059)

Great, more batsh*t crazy nonsense from you.

Ok (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46830691)

Ok.

What a monstrosity posing as a webpage (-1, Offtopic)

Arker (91948) | about 5 months ago | (#46830695)

NBC News really needs to either figure out WWW technology, or die.

Re:What a monstrosity posing as a webpage (1)

_merlin (160982) | about 5 months ago | (#46830869)

lol coming from a guy posting in monospaced font

Re:What a monstrosity posing as a webpage (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46830921)

Hey, dumbass!

Browser settings. On your computer. Not his.

Re:What a monstrosity posing as a webpage (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46830983)

Hey, dumbass!

Browser settings. On your computer. Not his.

Hey, dickhead!

I like to allow people to post code samples in monospace format. Arker abuses this function on this site by choosing the "code" option when he should not. There's no discriminator option in the browser for "Fix only Arker's jackass choice of posting format while leaving responsible users' posts alone".

I would settle for simply having his comment threads excised from the entire forum, but that's not an option in Slashcode.

Re:What a monstrosity posing as a webpage (1, Insightful)

rioki (1328185) | about 5 months ago | (#46830995)

Who the hell uses the tt tag?!

On that note, why is my browser even interpreting the tt tag...

Re:What a monstrosity posing as a webpage (2)

Flentil (765056) | about 5 months ago | (#46831615)

Who the hell uses the tt tag?

Arker does, every time he posts. He likes his posts to look different from everyone else, then he tries to convince people it's their browser settings that make his posts look strange and not his deliberate intent. He gets a lot of attention for it. He's getting it right now, again. It's tiresome. It's trolling.

Re:What a monstrosity posing as a webpage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831685)

Either that or he is deep in Asperger's Syndrome. He should read "Look me in the eye" by Robison and "Journal of best practices" by Finch.

Re:What a monstrosity posing as a webpage (1)

brunes69 (86786) | about 5 months ago | (#46831413)

Most highly read sites are using layouts like this now because they adapt well to both Mobile and Tablets, which is how more and more people are viewing the web nowadays. Browsing the web with a keyboard and mouse with a monitor is going the way of the dinosaur very rapidly.

Re:What a monstrosity posing as a webpage (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 5 months ago | (#46831567)

I fail to see how taking up 40% of the screen real estate in landscape mode on a cell phone is "adapted well to mobile".

The asses who do this do not even give an optional close box on these overlays. I look forward to urinating on the grave of the software engineer who invented this monstrosity.

Re:What a monstrosity posing as a webpage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831611)

Your user name is misspelled, or it's an obscure reference...

Re:What a monstrosity posing as a webpage (1)

brunes69 (86786) | about 5 months ago | (#46831705)

The layout is adaptive. Load it in your phone and see what it looks like. It will look at lot like browsing articles on Flipboard.

Get over it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46830717)

What do you think is gonna happen, some engineer is gonna want to scrub the mission because something is out of tolerance and some managers are gonna override them?

Proposal. (1, Flamebait)

freeze128 (544774) | about 5 months ago | (#46830731)

Can the astronaut be dead BEFORE they send him to Mars? ...because he certainly won't last long there.

Re:Proposal. (-1, Redundant)

pahles (701275) | about 5 months ago | (#46831013)

Him? He? This is 2014...

Re:Proposal. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831045)

"He" is gender neutral in almost every other language, and this being 2014, English no longer gets to dominate the way humans do things. Like the NASA guy said: get over it.

Re:Proposal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831081)

Yeah, but it ain't gender neutral in English. Ya know - the language you are using..

Re:Proposal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831343)

The language we are using (and you are using poorly) uses "he" as a default when the sex of the person is unknown. Yes, some people are using "they" or "he/she", but they are politically correct and not grammatically correct.

Re:Proposal. (2)

Trepidity (597) | about 5 months ago | (#46831911)

The claim that "he" rather than "they" is the correct gender-neutral singular personal pronoun is mainly an innovation of 19th-century grammarians, not traditional English usage. Prior to the 19th century, both constructions were in use, depending on the preference of the author. Nowadays, they are again both in use, after a brief interlude in which "singular they" suffered a decline in usage.

Re:Proposal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46832097)

"19th-century grammarians." Were these the same idiots that decided that splitting infinitives in English was bad because you can't do it in Latin?

Re:Proposal. (2)

Trepidity (597) | about 5 months ago | (#46832211)

Yeah, same people generally. There was a period in English prescriptivist grammar when people authors of grammar books would attempt to "rationalize" the language, often using Latin as a model (other times just using rules of their own invention).

Re:Proposal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46832359)

Thanks!

Re:Proposal. (4, Insightful)

asylumx (881307) | about 5 months ago | (#46832179)

Yeah, but it ain't gender neutral in English. Ya know - the language you are using..

Actually, it technically is the gender neutral preposition. It is not, apparently, politically correct but it *is* grammatically correct.

Wikipedia Reference [wikipedia.org]
Also, "Man" and "Mankind" still refer to all humans, not just male humans.

Re:Proposal. (1)

asylumx (881307) | about 5 months ago | (#46832193)

Pronoun, not preposition. Sorry. Need more coffee.

Re:Proposal. (1)

alex67500 (1609333) | about 5 months ago | (#46831145)

It ?

Re:Proposal. (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about 5 months ago | (#46831881)

It's a shame people don't use the gender neutral it more often. Instead they feel they must come up with their own new unique methods of being gender neutral.

Re:Proposal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46832175)

The problem is that 'it' is considered disrespectful to *both* traditional genders, and even more so to the less traditional ones. In modern English, 'it' is reserved for the inhuman (plants, animals, etc.), and inanimate (desks, rocks, etc.).

How the west wasn't won (2, Informative)

terjeber (856226) | about 5 months ago | (#46830757)

This is a good analysis [spacefuture.com] of NASA. It's a good oldie, but it should be read more often.

Re:How the west wasn't won (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46830893)

It's a junk argument. NASA is not this fictional NAFA and last time I checked people didn't need spacesuits or multi-billion dollar wagons to cross the desert. Too many differences for the analogy to be in any way valid. It's just a rant.

Re:How the west wasn't won (2)

rioki (1328185) | about 5 months ago | (#46831097)

I think the example of SpaceX begs to differ. How can SpaceX operate so much cheaper for the same payloads? Even cheaper than the Chinese? Granted some of the technology developed by SpaceX is based on NASA research, but why can't NASA come even close to SpaceX's operating costs?

Re:How the west wasn't won (5, Informative)

TwoUtes (1075403) | about 5 months ago | (#46831269)

Of the multitude of reasons SpaceX can operate more cheaply I can think of, the biggies are: -NASA is a Government agency, beholden to the congress and the congress loves its pork, so only certain big-name contractors get NASA contracts. -SpaceX is not a federal agency and doesn't have to play by the same onerous, costly sets of rules as a federal agency (i.e purchasing requirements, safety requirements, etc.) -SpaceX has negotiated some sweet deals to use existing government facilities already paid for by NASA (taxpayers). -SpaceX has received a lot of seed money from NASA. There's more, but you get the idea. I'm not here to take away from what SpaceX are trying to accomplish, but they certainly have an advantage over a bloated government bureaucracy.

"only big-name contractors"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831513)

Bullshit. Congress is beholden to small business. We have to justify anythign that doesn't have a "small business set-aside". However, our experience is that there are only a few compenies with enough infrastructure, pooled experience and process controls to succeed at complex projects. We certainly entertain bids from all responsive bidders, but if you're bidding for a satellite design, you've got to convince us that you have a reasonable chance of succeeding. We're not paying to repeat your KSP experience; we did that in the 60's.

Re:How the west wasn't won (0)

dcw3 (649211) | about 5 months ago | (#46831529)

NASA doesn't have to compete, or show a ROI. NASA doesn't have to be accountable to anyone (except congress...ha, ha, ha!). NASA doesn't have to hire the brightest minds.

Re:How the west wasn't won (1)

sycodon (149926) | about 5 months ago | (#46832017)

Because Space X doesn't have to dole out government dollars to various entities in the congressional districts of the appropriations committee members.

Re:How the west wasn't won (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46830999)

Governments solve problems by throwing money at it, that's the only thing they can do really. Problem with space technology is that it costs too much, throwing more money at it wont solve the issue.
Inherently to the problems nature governments cant solve it, they can only get in the way. Should be obvious.

Re:How the west wasn't won (4, Insightful)

cyber-vandal (148830) | about 5 months ago | (#46831133)

And yet without governments there would be no space technology.

Re:How the west wasn't won (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831525)

Shhh! You'll ruin his Star Trek/Ayn Rand sci-fi world view!

Re:How the west wasn't won (1)

murdocj (543661) | about 5 months ago | (#46831629)

Damn... where are my mod points to mod you up when I need them :(

Re:How the west wasn't won (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831921)

Oh i wont argue that governments did a wonderful job at cold war pissing contest and got the space technology rolling. But that was half a century ago. What has happened since days of Gagarin and Apollo? Where are the huge developments you would expect to see in 50 years? Where is my lunar vacation? As development matures you would expect cost to drop, it hasn't.

Re:How the west wasn't won (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46832273)

What happened? Apollo 13 happened. Sure, we sent a few manned missions up to the moon after that, but the emotional experience of nearly loosing the Apollo 13 crew in space pretty heavily soured the nation on the prospects of sending people to other worlds.

Re:How the west wasn't won (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#46832439)

And yet without governments there would be no space technology.

We don't know that. We can't rewind history, and try again without government involvement. But it is possible that we would be even further along if governments had never gotten involved. Up until about 1970, NASA made rapid progress, and had resources that no private enterprise could hope to match. But, then for the next 40 years, NASA lost its way, and drifted. No private company would or could have done that.

Re:How the west wasn't won (4, Informative)

MickLinux (579158) | about 5 months ago | (#46831155)

Not to overly criticrise your analogy, but I prefer nonfiction to fiction in my decision-making process.

This is a good analysis [nasa.gov] of NASA. It's a good oldie, but people should read it more often.

I would note that it was valid then, when it was written, it was valid when Columbia fell apart, and it is valid now.

And it is an EXCELLENT reason why Nasa shouldn't be messing with asteroid capture. Fortunately, it is more likely that our country will be glowing embers, than that NASA will see this accomplished. And I view that glowing embers bit as a negative, brought about by similar egos by similar wackos in OTHER government offices (including Putin's Russia).

But yes, I am very glad that other problems are likely to make this problem a moot point.

Re:How the west wasn't won (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831267)

If you wanted a better fictional story about why it was a bad idea, I might pose the story of a day when intelligent dinosaurs were living in Pangea, and a space agency went to 'get' an asteroid. whether through malfunction or deliberation doesn't matter, because the asteroid crashed into the southern part, and punched obliquely into the mantle right where there was a collection of Uranium-calcium georeactors. It pushed one to the center, causing a massive explosion that blew out the Scotia plate (below) and the Karoo (above), and like a bullet through glass also produced a 950-mile radius ring of Kimberlite dikes in one of the most spectacular explosions ever seen.

Meanwhile, a third of the way around the globe, under what would later become the New England Plume, the shock waves triggered another such explosion, blowing out the Hudson Bay (above) and the Carribean plate (below), and making it's own 850-mi radius ring of kimberlite explosion. (kimberlite explosions are violent enough to launch material into orbit, and bring diamonds up from below).

And on the line between the two explosions, the supercontinent split in two, with the break cutting over just where the two shatter rings intersected. 90% of the sea life died, the ground around both explosions was contaminated with extreme nuclear radioactivity... and the dinosaur civilization died as well.

Of course, that's just fiction. If it weren't there'd be evidence in the georecord. Indeed, our geologists would know to look for diamonds in an 850-mile ring around the Hudson, or on the west coast of Greenland...

Re:How the west wasn't won (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831569)

You know what else has a doomsday scenario and promises a solution? Religion.

Re:How the west wasn't won (2)

terjeber (856226) | about 5 months ago | (#46832207)

Moron.

Re:How the west wasn't won (2)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 5 months ago | (#46831341)

You can watch the speech on YouTube [youtube.com] . It's 29 minutes with Q&A. The "blunt" remark comes around 25:40.

On, to Mars! (5, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 5 months ago | (#46830799)

I have one thing to say. Hurry the fuck up.

When I was a kid, there was so much "by the year 2000". Space stations. Moon bases. Mars colonies. Mining asteroids. Deep space missions. Fleets of spacecraft. Hypersonic travel around the earth.

The only thing resembling a real space ship has been retired. 1960s tech is back as the best thing anyone can come up with, and it's totally owned by the Russians.

I am impressed by probes. They are cool toys. But they can't replace a person standing there, making decisions. Asking "what if..." We learn from being and doing. The rover we have on Mars now has a mostly busted wheel. A wheel that a human could have riveted a patch over in a few minutes. Or maybe some duct tape. You know, what the Apollo astronauts did, because they were there. Where humans can improvise, and grab a roll of tape.

If we hadn't given up on the space race, maybe we'd have most of those things. So we slacked for 20 years, lets get back on track.

Re:On, to Mars! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46830879)

go play kerbals and get to duna then you will understand why it takes time.

Re:On, to Mars! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46830897)

News Flash: real life ain't Star Trek. If it's cheaper to send a probe/rover and it can accomplish most if not all of the same things as a human crew, then by all means. I'm a lot more concerned about finding and reaching a habitable world, since we're bound to fuck this one up.

Re:On, to Mars! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831005)

I'm a lot more concerned about finding and reaching a habitable world, since we're bound to fuck this one up.

I see what you mean, why not fuck another one up? Eventually, we'll run out of habitable worlds within our reach, ... oh wait!

Re:On, to Mars! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831421)

I would mod you up, but I'm a freakin AC too. Which is my point. I'm to lazy to hit the login button! Really. In the 23rd century, people work because they want to.and energy production is virtually limitless and everone speaks english.
Even the fuckin klingons speak english.
Nope, we may never get to mars. Not while we still have heteros, and illegal aliens and aids and pro lifers. We need to get our priorities in order. Can't be sending our spacemen to mars without life insurance, cause, well, you know, THEY ARE GOING TO FUCKIN DIE!
Nope, I'm afraid we're going to have to hold off on our little plan, at least until Brazil decides to ge5 on bon board, and the Indians switch the Nokia plant over to radiation shield production. Oh, and the last white man on earth commits suicide. - that's the big one.
dammit haven't had my first cup of coffee and I'm already trolling.

Re:On, to Mars! (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 5 months ago | (#46831985)

What you don't understand is how close we came to all the things the parent post was talking about, every time a game changing technology shows up funding gets cut, or an accident occurs, or it doesn't work quite as well as expected in the trials (but still pretty darn well) so it gets shelved as too risky. NASA had plans drawn up for nuclear powered rockets when the space age started winding down (to be clear, this would be a rocket using a nuclear pile to heat exhaust, the exhaust itself would be non-nuclear). They had plans for a round trip to Venus using the cleaned out fuel tanks for living space. They had plans to boost the expended shuttle external fuel tanks into low earth orbit and join them up to create a space station (a single fuel tank would more than double the living space of the ISS).

Then comes the host of long burn engine technologies that are only just leaving the lab and getting set to space: ion engines were invented decades before they were used in flight, VASMIR has been in development since the 90's, Aerospike engines almost as long. My point isn't that all these technologies would have worked out at the time, my point is that we didn't get them anything like enough funding to find out.

Re:On, to Mars! (5, Funny)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 5 months ago | (#46830901)

On a similar note, I saw Star Wars and I'm really disappointed that we still don't have hyperdrives or laser guns or even translator droids! It's been all of 35 years!

Re:On, to Mars! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831009)

translator droids! It's been all of 35 years!

Oh, switch off.

Re:On, to Mars! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46830991)

> Hurry the fuck up.

How many extra tax dollars are you willing to spend on that?

Ah. Thought so.

Re:On, to Mars! (5, Insightful)

Sarius64 (880298) | about 5 months ago | (#46831029)

Every single one of the dollars we don't charge billionaire sports team owners. How about that?

It doesn't take much (5, Insightful)

bradley13 (1118935) | about 5 months ago | (#46831079)

Provide incentives for private industry, and get the fsck out of the way.

Promise $5 billion to the first company to send the same spaceship to orbit 10 times and return. $10 billion to the first company to send the same spaceship to geo-sync orbit 3 times. $20 billion to the first company to bring an asteroid above size X to a lagrange point. $50 billion to the first company to have people live on the moon for two weeks. Change the goals and figures to suit. Total cost will be a fraction of having the bloated NASA bureaucracy do the same things.

Then get rid of all possible regulations, and eliminate most liability. Space is hazardous - let's assume participants are adults who know what they are getting into.

Then get out of the way.

Re:It doesn't take much (3, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 5 months ago | (#46831609)

The problem with "winner takes all" competitions like that is that unless you are fairly certain of winning there isn't much incentive to spend billions trying. The NASA model of creating a spec and then asking for tenders to do it is better, assuming you can resist cancelling or downsizing everything year to year.

Re:It doesn't take much (4, Insightful)

Required Snark (1702878) | about 5 months ago | (#46831843)

"Provide incentives for private industry". Really? I've never visited that universe.

Over here in the real world, "private industry" acts like the United Launch Alliance: an intrenched monopoly with zero incentive to bring down launch costs. The same for the other long time players, like ArianeSpace and the Russians.

The only disruption to this cozy international cartel is SpaceX and the like. Note that these are all privately funded by technocrats who made huge fortunes in software. No one had to go out and raise money for these ventures. The investors are the founders, and they have very deep pockets.

It is impossible to raise money for this kind of business in capital markets because it's easier and more profitable to make money the old fashioned way: steal it.

Just look at the example of the FCC deciding to squash net neutrality. Hire regulators via the revolving door, pay out some bribe/campaign contributions, get legislation that you wrote passed as laws: instant profit!!! Why waste time and money on something as iffy as outer space?

So real innovation and risk taking is not the product of "private industry", it's a hobby of a few individuals who succeeded in the past. They could have as easily bought a major league sports franchise like Mark Cuban.

Is it likely that the next generation of successful entrepreneurs will have the space bug? Because if they don't then the only way we'll get to Mars, or make use of space resources is through governments. Any near term profit in space comes from satellites at synchronous orbit or below. No profit or incentive for long term capital investment any further out.

The only other reason to go is nationalism. That's why the Chinese are going to the moon. The US will opt out because none of the entrenched "private industry" players see sufficient guaranteed profit in their pig trough. It's so much easier to raise prices for Netflicks.

Re:It doesn't take much (1)

asylumx (881307) | about 5 months ago | (#46832223)

let's assume participants are adults who know what they are getting into

What about the American public makes you think this is a reasonable assumption? We can't even assume that people who order hot coffee are adults who know that coffee is hot.

Re:It doesn't take much (2)

T.E.D. (34228) | about 5 months ago | (#46832235)

Provide incentives for private industry, and get the fsck out of the way.

That actually makes a lot of sense for things that actually hold some promise of being a profitable business in the near future, like near-earth orbit launch vehicles.

However, it makes no sense whatsoever for things with no possible commercial market at the forseable end of them, like pure space exploration. Since there will (most likely) be no commercial pot of gold at the end of these tasks, any "incentive" offered would have to cover the entire cost of the endeavor, plus some extra for profit. If taxpayers are going to be footing the entire bill, we might as well have (I'd say damn well ought to have) a big say in how the money is spent and things are run. If not, these so called "private companies" will have all the negative incentives of a government bureaucracy, but none of the positive incentives to keep them in line.

If we're paying the entire bill, we ought to have the ability to fire the "CEO". Otherwise its just corporate Welfare.

Re:On, to Mars! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831019)

"Space stations. Moon bases. Mars colonies. Mining asteroids. Deep space missions. Fleets of spacecraft. Hypersonic travel around the earth."
We have technical capabilities to do all of it, so why aren't we? Problem is cost, starting from orbital launch costs. Before orbital launch cost problem gets solved you will see none of it. Meanwhile NASA keep on dreaming about space stations, Moon bases, Mars colonies, mining asteroids, deep space missions, fleets of spacecraft, hypersonic travel around the earth etc without doing anything about the main reason why we cant have any of it.
Remove the cost barrier and everything else will follow, not a major leap of logic.

Re:On, to Mars! (2)

bradley13 (1118935) | about 5 months ago | (#46831093)

Orbital launch cost is a red herring; it's expensive, and this isn't going to change. We live in a whopping big gravity well.

The goal has to be building an infrastructure. Get mining and production infrastructure up there. That's going to be a huge investment, but once it's in place you can produce ever more of what you need directly, without having to haul it out of the well.

Re:On, to Mars! (1)

bored (40072) | about 5 months ago | (#46831203)

You mean like ~$180k? Because that is how much the fuel costs are for a falcon 9. If space-x can make the whole thing reusable and get the launch rate up to a couple times a week, the raw cost to put a human in orbit could be just a few times the cost of a first class intercontinental flight.

If the fuel costs is 30% of the total launch costs (about the same as the airline industry) then the expected 6 people per launch would be ~$100k per person, which matches the roughly $500/lb numbers musk has been quoting.

Its not at the level of buying a bus ticket, but its less than many corps are spending for their private aircraft to fly C level execs around.

Re: On, to Mars! (1)

mknewman (557587) | about 5 months ago | (#46831489)

SpaceX is going to radically change launch costs with reusable fly-back boosters.

Re:On, to Mars! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46832441)

Orbital launch cost is a red herring; it's expensive, and this isn't going to change. We live in a whopping big gravity well.

The goal has to be building an infrastructure. Get mining and production infrastructure up there. That's going to be a huge investment, but once it's in place you can produce ever more of what you need directly, without having to haul it out of the well.

Yes, it will always be expensive, but there is room for significant improvement. If it costs a trillion dollars to launch mining and production infrastructure, then it might make sense to spend some time and effort reducing launch costs by 50%. Half of expensive is still expensive, but half a trillion dollars is worth some consideration.

comparison is out of whack (5, Insightful)

aepervius (535155) | about 5 months ago | (#46831263)

Those comparison human ability versus rover crack me up. The problem is that they are comparing one single rover against one human. What they should compare is the energy and material resource expanded to 1) launch a human 2) make sure it arrives alive 3) stay alive long enough to do stuff 4) we are not even considering it coming back alive 5) we are not even considering the horrendous cost of setting up a colony (when we aren't even a step nearer to do one on moon) 6) and we will also ignore that rover are expandable I.O.W. if the first rover crash and burn, resend another one. If you DO the comparison, then it is much cheaper to make a serie of automated vehicule which can gather stuff analyze it, and if you see you are missing info or one break, send another one.

Human on mars is only a question of fulfilling a dream, a dream which is completely cut off from the reality of cost. it is nice for you to have a dream, but some of us prefer practical solutions.

Re:comparison is out of whack (5, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 5 months ago | (#46831405)

That's funny that you express that there's no reason to put people on Mars, but you quote Carl Sagan in your tagline.

I ran across this a few days ago.

http://io9.com/5932534/carl-sa... [io9.com]

Maybe you're there because we've recognized we have to carefully move small asteroids around to avert the possibility of one impacting the Earth with catastrophic consequences, and, while we're up in near-Earth space, it's only a hop, skip and a jump to Mars. Or, maybe we're on Mars because we recognize that if there are human communities on many worlds, the chances of us being rendered extinct by some catastrophe on one world is much less. Or maybe we're on Mars because of the magnificent science that can be done there - the gates of the wonder world are opening in our time. Maybe we're on Mars because we have to be, because there's a deep nomadic impulse built into us by the evolutionary process, we come after all, from hunter gatherers, and for 99.9% of our tenure on Earth we've been wanderers. And, the next place to wander to, is Mars. But whatever the reason you're on Mars is, I'm glad you're there. And I wish I was with you.

*shrug* (0)

aepervius (535155) | about 5 months ago | (#46832041)

Me quoting the demon-haunted-world does not mean I would agree 100% on everything Sagan Said. I am not sure why it is surprising. I recommend the book as introduction of science, rational thinking and skepticism. Not because Sagan made a nice prosa on a Pale Blue Dot.

Re:On, to Mars! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831537)

I'm sorry you fell hook,line and sinker for the defense/military propaganda of the time. I was also told about the leisure society and life extension. What about those?

If we hadn't given up on the space race, maybe we'd have most of those things.

Has it ever occurred to you that none of these things made any sense? Do you also look at 1890s futurism and bemoan the lack of Victorian dirigibles? It was all just daydreaming. Space is hostile, empty, deadly and mostly useless.

Re:On, to Mars! (2)

MacTO (1161105) | about 5 months ago | (#46831917)

Mildly off topic:

Until we can make vast improvements in launcher reliability, perhaps we should stick to 1960's technology for that aspect of space exploration. Getting off of and back onto Earth's surface is an extraordinarily difficult task and it will remain so for the decades to come.

Rather, in my opinion, we should be focusing upon building infrastructure in and beyond Earth orbit so that we can get people into space for longer durations. The infrastructure that we do develop needs to be fully repairable and upgradable in space, rather than retired after a relatively short duration. Simply put, it is too expensive (in terms of energy and dollars) to transport materials into orbit only to dump those materials back into Earth's atmosphere a decade or two later.

Once we get the foundations in place, developing reusable launchers will be necessary. Hopefully they will also be much more viable by that point in time.

Re:On, to Mars! (1)

nine-times (778537) | about 5 months ago | (#46832125)

When I was a kid, there was so much "by the year 2000". Space stations. Moon bases. Mars colonies. Mining asteroids. Deep space missions. Fleets of spacecraft. Hypersonic travel around the earth.

We were also supposed to have flying cars and hoverboards. Or depending on which movie you're going on: time machines, androids that could pass for human, and FTL travel.

But are you really getting angry at NASA because science fiction isn't a reality?

I am impressed by probes. They are cool toys. But they can't replace a person standing there, making decisions. Asking "what if..." We learn from being and doing. The rover we have on Mars now has a mostly busted wheel. A wheel that a human could have riveted a patch over in a few minutes.

I think you're overestimating the ease with which humans can do things. A human could have fixed the rover if he had all the right tools and replacement parts, assuming that we could get him to Mars, surviving the trip there in good health, surviving the years it takes for one of those rovers to break down. He would also need the mobility to go around on the surface of an uninhabitable landscape over distances long enough to find the rover, and then have the flexibility in his suit to enact the repairs without danger to himself. All of that stuff is hard.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not opposed to working on all of those problems, and trying to figure out how we can put a man on Mars. It's just that I don't think it's as simple as loading a guy into a rocket, pointing it at Mars, and hoping for the best. The fact that we've gotten the rovers there safely is an achievement in itself, and is paving the way for a potential manned mission. So I'd say let's figure it out, plan it out, and send a person to Mars when we feel semi-confident that we can do that.

US and Science (2)

Spiked_Three (626260) | about 5 months ago | (#46830853)

Look a few articles down, and you will see one about FIRST robotics. Robotics is absolutely a requirement of any future space program.

Yet, slashdot, a web site for geeks, has a comment post count of 6.

This by itself is hugely important - there is little to no interest in a fundamental technology of the future.

Couple that with the US's current anti-science sentiment, and NASA being a science department of a funding challenged government, and the US days of space exploration is done for a while. Close NASA, sell the assets to the Chinese, let someone else take their rightful place as leaders.

Radiation... (5, Insightful)

jklappenbach (824031) | about 5 months ago | (#46830867)

If I were planning a trip to Mars, solar and cosmic radiation would be one of my main concerns. And to date, I have not seen designs for a delivery system that would adequately protect crew members from what could be a catastrophic situation. We do not want to lose the first expedition to something like this. However, the shielding required dramatically alters the economics of the mission (lead's not cheap to shoot into orbit, let alone Mars). And that's just getting there. If we want to enjoy any duration of exploration or colonization, we should be looking for caves. Without a magnetosphere, it's going to be tough.

Radiation Rules Exploration [astrobio.net]

Re:Radiation... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46830979)

Hollowing out asteroids was/is one proposed way to solve the shielding problem – no need to launch all mass up. Of course, we're far from being able to do that, but the asteroid redirection mission is a first step in that direction.

Re:Radiation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831327)

Hollowing out asteroids was/is one proposed way to solve the shielding problem

Another suggestion was to decide that the extra cancer risk is small compared to everything else and ignore the problem.

Re:Radiation... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46830981)

If I were planning a trip to Mars, solar and cosmic radiation would be one of my main concerns.

Cosmic radiation is only a problem if you aim for zero tolerance.
The data given by Curiosity [63.131.142.246] show that a Mars mission only increases your risk of cancer by 5%. That means that there are plenty of other hurdles far more dangerous when it comes to takeoff and landing.
To put that in perspective 5.5% of former smokers and 15.9% of active smokers get lung cancer. (24.4% for those who smoke more than 5 cigarettes a day.)

Unless you intend to set up a permanent base or have a mission where the astronauts stay more than two years on the surface the radiation can be handled by informing the astronaut of the danger and have them sign a paper.
If people should be allowed to smoke then I think people should be allowed to risk cancer with a Mars-trip too.

Re:Radiation... (1)

beheaderaswp (549877) | about 5 months ago | (#46831035)

A high energy electromagnetic field will do just fine. Works on earth... it will work in space.

You just need a fusion reactor. At the moment- we don't have one. Or some other high capacity, small size, energy source not yet envisioned.

NASA, while not saying it, is probably waiting on an energy technology.

Where is element 115 when you need it? Someone call Bob Lazar!!!

Re:Radiation... (2)

bored (40072) | about 5 months ago | (#46831257)

A high energy electromagnetic field will do just fine. Works on earth... it will work in space.

You just need a fusion reactor.

I don't think electromagnetic shielding is that far fetched anymore. http://physicsworld.com/cws/ar... [physicsworld.com]

Seat of the pants calculation says, its probably smaller than an MRI machine and could be powered with with a similarly sized fission reactor.

Not small by any standard, but completely doable with today's technology.

Re:Radiation... (1)

oic0 (1864384) | about 5 months ago | (#46831485)

If the magnet is super conducting, you can fire it up on earth and then just keep the cooling system going through the trip.

Re:Radiation... (1)

mknewman (557587) | about 5 months ago | (#46832101)

True, or a plasma jet (highly charged) coming out the back toward the sun. Brussard Polywell Fusion http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org] reactors that the Navy is building for next generation of ships (electromagnetic catapults and rail guns) would build a nice infrastructure not only for the interplanetary ship but also for the on-planet outpost.

Re:Radiation... (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 5 months ago | (#46831321)

Someone must find out how to cheaply put lead in orbit.

I propose catapults.

Or Hitachi elevators.

Re:Radiation... (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 5 months ago | (#46832027)

(lead's not cheap to shoot into orbit, let alone Mars)

GIven the infrastructure, lunar regolith would be relatively much cheaper to get to LEO (deltaV required to reach LEO from the lunar surface is considerably less than half that required to reach LEO from the ground.

And lunar regolith is quite usable as radiation shielding. Hell, you can use it as reaction mass for a mass-driver to push off to Mars orbit.

Re:Radiation... (1)

Herder Of Code (2989779) | about 5 months ago | (#46832351)

Like another poster mentioned, normal radiation levels are an "acceptable risk". So most of the designs Nasa or others came up with simply include a storm shelter design. Many such designs put the shelter in the middle of the water tank for the crew. To quote a website: "The only way to protect against radiation (besides magnetic shielding and other things that don't exist yet on the scale of a spaceship) is by putting as many atoms as you possibly can in between you and wherever that radiation is coming from."

Bravo! (3)

negablade (2745981) | about 5 months ago | (#46830915)

Bravo, Mr Bolden! NASA does exceptional work. Sometimes the armchair critics should just STFU and let NASA get on with the fun stuff.

The real problem is rockets. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831111)

I take issue with the fact that NASA is not trying to seriously replace rockets or acknowledge that they need to be replaced. Rockets, are simply too delicate, too error prone, too slow, too heavy, too unforgiving, and just too impractical. Rockets will never allow for routine industrial or civilian spaceflight beyond Earth orbit. In this year 2014, half of NASA needs to be a physics based research organization dedicated to the development of new types of propulsion. Instead NASA seems to be more like a glorified rocket club dedicated to maintaining a death grip on an impractical method of propulsion. NASA should have its fingers in everything from nuclear reactor design such as MSRs to particle accelerators for manipulating the Higgs field. Lack of true vision.

I think NASA should go to Uranus! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831411)

Got a problem with that?

Get Over It

Re:I think NASA should go to Uranus! (1)

imikem (767509) | about 5 months ago | (#46831519)

Ur already there.

Too bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831425)

"For years, critics have been taking shots at NASA's plans to corral a near-Earth asteroid before moving on to Mars ...

Too bad there's no nearby celestial body they could practice building a base on without going to all the effort and expense of corralling an asteroid.

Oh, I don't know, like a moon or something.

Renewable Energy Low Carbon Footprints (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831585)

NASA, what have you done for the world that really adds up to a hill of beans?

Re:Renewable Energy Low Carbon Footprints (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46832173)

Freeze dried Ice Cream and those shiny blankets? =p

The Starship Enterprise had a five year mission (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831613)

The Starship Enterprise had a five year mission, to seek out new life and new civilizations.

NASA has a 20 year mission to go to Mars - the equivalent of going down to the local convenience store. Way to go, guys!

Bold words (1)

RetiredMidn (441788) | about 5 months ago | (#46831653)

Bold words from someone who probably be long gone from the job before NASA even tries to get someone into low earth orbit again.

Hail ceaser (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831805)

Seems consistent with Emperor Obama. I thoguht I was voting for change, not Bush3

Agreed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46831677)

I'm actually astonished that NASA would have the balls to do this asteroid mission. It's exactly the right move at the right time, and honestly I expected far less from NASA, given that it's one giant Sisyphean mess of bureaucracy and ass-covering.

Mind you, Elon will still probably beat them to it!

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