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NRC Human Spaceflight Report Says NASA Strategy Can't Get Humans To Mars

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the not-going-to-happen dept.

Mars 206

MarkWhittington (1084047) writes 'The National Research Council issued its report on the future of space exploration. The report stated that the "horizon goal" for any program of space exploration in the near term (i.e. the next two decades) is a Mars surface expedition. It also stated that the current NASA program, which includes a mission that would snag an asteroid, put it in lunar orbit, and visit it with astronauts is inadequate to meet that goal.

The report gave two reasons for its critique of the current NASA program. First the asteroid redirect mission would not create and test technologies necessary to conduct a crewed Mars mission. Second, NASA projects essentially flat budgets for the foreseeable future. Any space exploration program worthy of the name will cost considerably more money, with five percent increases in NASA funding for a number of years.'

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Sorry... (3, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 2 months ago | (#47168073)

It doesn't work to do this with a democratic government. We need a monarchy :-(

It seems to me that SpaceX is on the path to a solution that might be affordable by a single administration, though.

Re:Sorry... (4, Insightful)

The New Guy 2.0 (3497907) | about 2 months ago | (#47168241)

There's no such thing as a Physics Congress... the laws of physics are unrepealable!

Late-breaking news: PATHWAYS TO VICTORY! (4, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | about 2 months ago | (#47168247)

It doesn't work to do this with a democratic government. We need a monarchy :-(

Or perhaps a font of sage wisdom? You know, like a Council? Composed of wise people, you know, like one's Elders? Something any sentient species ought to be able to figure out. Speaking of which, I feel another press release coming on...

K'Breel, Speaker for the Council, addresses the publication of the new report thusly:

"WE HAVE TRIUMPHED! Our skilled operatives from the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Propaganda; Planetary Research Council have successfully infiltrated the blueworlders' technological and informational systems. One notable document, Pathways to Exploration makes clear the disarray in which the blueworlders' long-term invasion plans lie, drawing on the history of meat-controlled spaceflight to justify future programs in organic space exploitation. Although the report promotes the invasion of our world as the horizon goal for the program, it takes into account funding levels necessary to maintain a robust tempo of execution, current research and exploration projects and the time/resources needed to continue them, and intertribal cooperation that would be required to further oppress the citizens of our fair red world."

"And its conclusion? Although the mechanized threat remains, and we salute those still fighting pitched battles with the two active land-based invaders, Pathways to Exploration makes it clear that it is not possible for the blueworlders' organic-based self-replicators to invade our world, at least not without a sustained commitment to funding at a higher level than their own tribal leaders are currently providing."

When an intern from the defense engineering board suggested that improving the capabilities of the blueworlders' EDL systems, radshielding, and propulsion and power systems were ultimately matters of engineering and not physics, and could ultimately be addressed if the tribals of the blue world ever get it into their oxygen-addled brains to work together to achieve a common goal (as, the intern suggested, the way any sentient species does), K'Breel had the intern's gelsacs addled by immersing them in a suitably-merciful quantity of liquid oxygen.

Thus spake K'Breel, Speaker for the Council of Elders, Committee on Native Spaceflight; Arenautics and Defense Engineering Board; Defense Studies Board; Division of Blueworlder Social and Physical Sciences; Committee on Gelsacular Statistics.

Re:Sorry... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168291)

It doesn't work to do this with a democratic government. We need a monarchy :-(

It seems to me that SpaceX is on the path to a solution that might be affordable by a single administration, though.

Why? We already have President who ignores the law.

Re:Sorry... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 months ago | (#47168317)

Yep, we could never do any space program under a Republic form of government.

Re:Sorry... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168427)

It doesn't work to do this with a democratic government.

The first human to stand on another solar body was the citizen of a liberal democracy. And liberal democracy isn't a prerequisite either. You need the will, the wealth and technological competence. The rest is political bullshit.

The nation that build Saturn V's is gone. Of the three above requirements the US can still claim but one; the technological competence. The US forfeited the other two when it became a declining, balkanized welfare state.

It's up to the Chinese now. Maybe India.

Re:Sorry... (1)

msauve (701917) | about 2 months ago | (#47168703)

You should have probably said "classical liberal democracy." In current parlance, the connotation is completely different.

(Sorry if you're non-US, but this is a US site, where "liberal" means something different than it does in the rest of the world.)

Re:Sorry... (2)

murdocj (543661) | about 2 months ago | (#47168837)

The Chinese. Right. Because they have rovers on Mars... uh... because they have orbiters around Saturn... uh... because they have probes in interstellar space... uh... because they have space telescopes... uh... because they have a mission to Pluto... uh...

Try again.

Re:Sorry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168933)

The Chinese. Right. Because they have rovers on Mars... uh... because they have orbiters around Saturn... uh... because they have probes in interstellar space... uh... because they have space telescopes... uh... because they have a mission to Pluto... uh...

Try again.

The US of 1960 had none of those, either. Yet in 1969 Neil Armstrong was standing in the Sea of Tranquility.

Re:Sorry... (4, Insightful)

savuporo (658486) | about 2 months ago | (#47168429)

So lets see. This is an NRC report that ONLY considered using SLS as the launch vehicle, and concluded that you cannot get to Mars with that, something has to be done differently.

How about _trying_ something different then for a change, stop trying to build redundant launch vehicles, we already have plenty, and actually invest in enabling technologies that DO get us to Mars.
Like, putting spacecraft together from modules like was done with ISS and other stations before that - except without involving costly human ops. How about refuelling the spacecraft on orbit. How about doing research on partial-g environments, and launching a centrifuge. How about sending some rats en route to Mars to study different radiation shielding approach effectiveness. The list is endless. Actually, NRC PRODUCED all the enabling technology roadmaps, they are available here :
http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oc... [nasa.gov]
How about actually fricking following these roadmaps ( SLS is NOT in there ) and getting some stuff done ? Advanced radioisotope stirling generator that was outlined as the CRUCIAL enabling technology piece for future exploration ? Cancelled ! Funds are required to build a monster rocket to nowhere instead ...

But, if you keep doing the same thing over and over, no reason to expect a different result. Kill the waste, and start investing in future.

Re:Sorry... (1)

CanadianMacFan (1900244) | about 2 months ago | (#47169025)

Of course the report is only about using the SLS as a launch vehicle. That's all NASA is allowed to look into by it's political masters. The SLS isn't being used because it is superior technology. It's used because it maximizes the number of jobs across a number of districts for the politicians.

And NASA could actually reach a goal if it's goals weren't changed every couple of years by Congress or the President.

Re:Sorry... (1)

NotSanguine (1917456) | about 2 months ago | (#47169293)

How about actually fricking following these roadmaps ( SLS is NOT in there ) and getting some stuff done ? Advanced radioisotope stirling generator that was outlined as the CRUCIAL enabling technology piece for future exploration ? Cancelled ! Funds are required to build a monster rocket to nowhere instead ...

But, if you keep doing the same thing over and over, no reason to expect a different result. Kill the waste, and start investing in future.

Sorry. Couldn't resist [youtube.com] .

Just build spaceships and forget "Muslim outreach" (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168471)

Charles Bolden [aljazeera.com]
The Nasa administrator and astronaut in conversation with Al Jazeera's Imran Garda.

Mr Bolden said: "When I became the Nasa administrator, he [Mr Obama] charged me with three things.

"One, he wanted me to help reinspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering."

Oh, goodie. NASA's job under Obama - explore space? Nope, make " Muslim nations ... feel good".

Guess that explains why Obama traded five top Taliban leaders for one weasel deserter.

Re:Sorry... (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 2 months ago | (#47168507)

[sarc]It would work if we gave asteroids a vote, you carbon-based life form chauvinist H8er![/sarc]

Re:Sorry... (2, Insightful)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about 2 months ago | (#47168567)

It doesn't work to do this with a democratic government. We need a monarchy :-(

Well, we're getting close ... one party wants to amend the Constitution so that it can ban the other's speech.

Re:Sorry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47169043)

I have a great deal of respect for you and your accomplishments/contributions to the world at large, so I'm going to attempt to be civil instead of quite so frothy at the mouth.

Hierarchical power structures do goal-oriented functions extremely well. However, we can do this at a lower level (the commercial) than the government level.

Re:Sorry... (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 2 months ago | (#47169313)

have a great deal of respect for you

Sorry, I should have made it more obvious that I was writing tongue in cheek about the monarchy. Not about SpaceX though. I'm pretty impressed.

Re:Sorry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47169253)

It doesn't work to do this with a democratic government. We need a monarchy :-(

It seems to me that SpaceX is on the path to a solution that might be affordable by a single administration, though.

What we 'need' is the Star Kingdom of Manticore.

Re:Sorry... (2)

sillybilly (668960) | about 2 months ago | (#47169333)

Or we need to include NASA in the military budget, and assuming outer space is gonna get divided up into smallscale Star Trek-like micro quadrants (alpha quadrant, beta quadrant) by whoever occupies it first and sticks a flag down with a rotating space station, with some minimum distance rule by these things, so conquest of areas close to Earth as space territories is important if they are more valuable than the ones farther away, even if there is a lot of room up there. But before anything else comes the Moon, and I say whatever country can go up there and stick a flagpole down and "claim it", they can get it as national territory. You could have something like the United States of America, and Puerto Rico and Sectors 3,5,31,15 on the Moon, and quadrants alpha(all), beta 4, gamma 3. But, indeed, such long titles sound better when appended to monarch's names, such as the oldtime Habsburgs, Emperor of Holy Roman Empire, prince of Bohemia, etc., prince of Lunar sectors 3, 5, 31, 15. Once you show new territory to Monarch's, they are greedy and wanna conquer it, should they have enough science and military power to do so.

Settle down, nerds (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168083)

How about "never" for your horizon goal? That work for you? Well, it's gonna have to.

Get used to it.

Well... (4, Insightful)

oldhack (1037484) | about 2 months ago | (#47168095)

I think it's most people's impression that NASA is just going through the motion, making empty noises wrt Mars human exploration. There simply is no viable plan nor adequate budget to come up with a viable plan.

Re:Well... (1)

Kardos (1348077) | about 2 months ago | (#47168125)

That's the point. It can't be done on the current budget levels.

Re:Well... (0)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 months ago | (#47168305)

I think it's most people's impression that NASA is just going through the motion, making empty noises wrt Mars human exploration. There simply is no viable plan nor adequate budget to come up with a viable plan.

There WAS, until Obama got hold of it and redirected resources toward asteroid capture instead, 6 years ago.

I'm not sure, but I think Obama is a long-time sufferer from assterhoids.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168409)

Yeah, at this point, we'll NEVER learn ANYTHING about Mars!

http://www.space.com/12404-mar... [space.com]

Thanks, Obama!

Re:Well... (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 months ago | (#47168473)

Yeah, at this point, we'll NEVER learn ANYTHING about Mars!

http://www.space.com/12404-mar [space.com] ...

Thanks, Obama!

This is 100% irrelevant to the point that was being made: long ago Obama publicly directed NASA to cease any significant efforts toward manned missions to Mars. (Which was the subject under discussion here: human exploration.)

Yes, thanks, Obama! Indeed. /sarcasm

Re:Well... (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 2 months ago | (#47169061)

Given what he was getting through congress, even an asteroid capture is probably overly optimistic. Mind you, it's not clear to me that he as actually trying to get to Mars, despite his stated committment.

OTOH, I also consider that an asteroid capture mission might easily be more valuable than a "lets visit Mars like we did the Moon" mission. I have found the US space program to be a profound disappointment. Most of it isn't NASAs fault. But factories in orbit might just be the way to get people to take space seriously. (Naturally, they mainly, perhaps exclusively,would be for producing goods to be used in space. Transport down isn't cheap either.) But automated factories need to get considerably better before that's a reasonable scenario, even if we hope it would eventually lead to colonies in space.

Re:Well... (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 2 months ago | (#47168621)

What is on Mars, that the Moon is the second best location?

Re:Well... (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 2 months ago | (#47169073)

Volatiles.

Given how poorly we can manage a closed ecosystem, permanent habitation on the Moon is currently out of the question. With Mars it might be possible.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47169299)

Um, no it wouldn't?? The answer you are looking for is "no". Simple.

Re:Well... (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 months ago | (#47169459)

There simply is no viable plan nor adequate budget to come up with a viable plan.

Maybe the problem is that we need a new organization that can come up with a viable plan on the very ample budget NASA receives. It always amazes me how low expectations are for NASA and similar organizations.

Why go to another gravity well? (4, Insightful)

ubergeek2009 (1475007) | about 2 months ago | (#47168101)

There's no reason to go to the bottom of another gravity well. We should be travelling to, learn from, and eventually exploit the asteroids. It makes more sense for the long term viability of the human race.

Re:Why go to another gravity well? (2)

CRCulver (715279) | about 2 months ago | (#47168185)

Why go anywhere else at all? As the pace of technology accelerates, it may well be that the future of the human race is staying put right here, moving into a virtual reality instead of expanding outward through the cosmos. Defense against asteroids could be automated, and while the sun would eventually expand into a red giant and engulf the Earth, we still have a few billion years, so there's no rush.

It is curious that this possibility is rarely considered in nerd circles, as it has been proposed by science-fiction writers. In his future history starting with Harvest of Stars [amazon.com] , the late Poul Anderson foresaw much of the human race and its AI successors content to remain on Earth and turn their attention to mathematical explorations. Vernor Vinge too speculated in his early musings on the Singularity that it could involve a civilization moving into a computer mind buried deep underneath the planet's surface instead of exploring space.

Re:Why go to another gravity well? (1)

KillAllNazis (1904010) | about 2 months ago | (#47168205)

If we could digitize our consciousness it would simplify space exploration a lot.

Re:Why go to another gravity well? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 months ago | (#47168345)

Because we need resources, and we can get those resource from asteroids. Also, we need to expand for the survival of the species.

Ironically the tech to make what you speculate to happen will only come about as a spin off from space exploration.
People in VR? we need to put them some place, we need them to be able to be still for large amounts of time, we need complete automated systems, and so on.

Re:Why go to another gravity well? (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 2 months ago | (#47168401)

Because we need resources

A trans-human society may be able to make do with the resources available on Earth. Assuming technology exists to transmute materials, the only thing needed is more energy, and research in fusion is going ahead regardless of the scaling back of space exploration. Even if we went up into orbit to create a system of beamed solar power as is often discussed, that's not the same as moving into space.

Ironically the tech to make what you speculate to happen will only come about as a spin off from space exploration.

What tech? Again, while automated asteroid defenses would necessitate putting some technology into orbit, that is not the same as exploring the solar system. The rapid technological advances of our time are moving ahead just fine without a new space race.

Re:Why go to another gravity well? (2)

CanadianMacFan (1900244) | about 2 months ago | (#47169033)

Don't worry if we wait long enough an asteroid or two will come to us. :)

Re:Why go to another gravity well? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 months ago | (#47168353)

There's no reason to go to the bottom of another gravity well. We should be travelling to, learn from, and eventually exploit the asteroids. It makes more sense for the long term viability of the human race.

There are ALL KINDS of legitimate reasons to go to the bottom of another gravity well. Especially the Moon's.

If we can figure out efficient ways to extract them, resources such as minerals, and even oxygen, are abundant. Moon rocks have lots of oxygen... and why do you think Mars is red?

But perhaps more to the point: we have learned that construction in microgravity is intolerably slow and tedious. Precisely because there is no gravity. BUT... in a shallow gravity well, such as Mars and even more so the Moon, most of those problems go away. And so does the difficulty of launching from a deeper gravity well.

So if we ever DO manage to harness resources from space, where should they go to maximize further space exploration? Very obviously to Mars, or to the Moon. Anything else would be just dumb.

Re:Why go to another gravity well? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 months ago | (#47168627)

But perhaps more to the point: we have learned that construction in microgravity is intolerably slow and tedious.

No, we haven't learned that at all. And construction on Earth is tedious too. I suppose stuff can some day magically build itself overnight. But in that case, it'd be able to do that in space as well.

So if we ever DO manage to harness resources from space, where should they go to maximize further space exploration?

Earth orbit is a more obvious location.

Re:Why go to another gravity well? (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 2 months ago | (#47168765)

There's another excellent reason for a Moon colony: we can learn how to build, maintain and live in an environment where there's little or no atmosphere and is close enough to Earth that extra supplies can be shipped there on fairly short notice. Once we know how to build a self-sufficient lunar colony, we can use what we've learned there on Mars, the largest asteroids and possibly some of the Jovian or Saturnian moons.

Re:Why go to another gravity well? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 2 months ago | (#47168655)

I think I can debate this on point. Why is looking a ball of ice, and nickel more significant than a colony on the Moon? Why not put a telescope on the Moon? Why not pick up the H3 that is litteraly on the ground there and use it for Fusion technologies? ISS works, now put one around the moon, an on the surface of the moon. If you're interested in a Trillion dollar business model, sell Senior Living on the moon, where ones weight is about an eighth, and less phyical demands on an aging angry Tea Party member. That alone should cause whole economies to look upward with hope, and some change.

NRC (2)

Fallen Kell (165468) | about 2 months ago | (#47168111)

Am I the only one that saw NRC and was wondering why in the world was the Nuclear Regulator Commission talking about human spaceflight?

Re:NRC (1)

SumDog (466607) | about 2 months ago | (#47168161)

YES! That's exactly what I thought (my dad worked in nuclear power for my entire life, and one of my good friends works for the NRC)

Re:NRC (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 2 months ago | (#47168203)

Yeah, I thought maybe they were considering nuking them astronauts from Earth to Mars. You know, just to be sure.

B U T (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168123)

It can spend billions trying anyway.

get your ass to Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168127)

get your ass to Marsget your ass to Marsget your ass to Marsget your ass to Marsget your ass to Marsget your ass to Marsget your ass to Marsget your ass to Marsget your ass to Marsget your ass to Marsget your ass to Marsget your ass to Marsget your ass to Marsget your ass to Marsget your ass to Marsget your ass to Marsget your ass to Marsget your ass to Mars

  Lameness filter encountered.
Your comment violated the "postercomment" compression filter. Try less whitespace and/or less repetition.

Simple Solution (1, Insightful)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 2 months ago | (#47168133)

Militarize NASA and make the liberation of the Solar System from the enemies of FREEDOM priorities of National Security. At that point Congress will be tripping over themselves put the US an additional 15 Trillion in debt in order to invade Mars and install a puppet dictatorship that is friendly to US and Israeli interests.

Re:Simple Solution (1, Insightful)

SumDog (466607) | about 2 months ago | (#47168171)

If one rover discovered a massive reserved of oil on mars, we would be there yesterday.

Re:Simple Solution (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about 2 months ago | (#47168207)

Along these lines of thinking, all someone would need to do is convince the government that there is a drug trade or nuclear refinement program going on on Mars, and the money to get there would materialize nearly instantly.

Re: Simple Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168399)

There's a massive natural gas reservoir on Titan. Let's go there.

Re:Simple Solution (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 2 months ago | (#47168667)

I believe that Chevron already has the oil rights, they're just waiting until oil is $10,000 a barrel. Maybe in 6 years from now.

Re:Simple Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168239)

Militarize NASA and ...

That's the problem, not the solution. NASA has always been a branch of the military. This administration is taking all available cash to fund socialized medicine and green energy.

Snagging an asteroid is cooler anyway! (4, Insightful)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about 2 months ago | (#47168139)

Seriously, forget Mars. It's like Utah, but cold, and even more boring. We know Mars.

Now, rearranging big chunks of our solar system to get our grubby hand on some sweet sweet platinum, that's the sort of crazy shit that our parents hoped we'd be doing by now. In any case, that's what we should be doing, imo.

Re:Snagging an asteroid is cooler anyway! (1)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about 2 months ago | (#47168293)

Its not really an "asteroid", its a rock and not a very big one. We are talking about moving something the size of your living room, not a dinosaur-killer certainly not Ceres. . We have lots of fragments from meteors already.

Its OK, but it seems like a lot of work to move the entire rock here rather than just collect interesting samples and bring them back.

As the article said, it doesn't seem to really develop much interesting technology.

There is some Pt in asteroids, but no where near enough to pay for this type of effort.

Re:Snagging an asteroid is cooler anyway! (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 months ago | (#47168387)

It develops the a lot of tech. Creating a machine that has to make decisions and course correcting the 3d is a great challenge. Plus, we learn how to do it better so we can move up to big rocks.
The more we understand that, them better a solution we will \have when a big one is headed are way.

"There is some Pt in asteroids, but no where near enough to pay for this type of effort."
and there never will be. they more you get, the bigger the drop in value. Still, there is a lot of use for platinum, so it being cheap is a good thing for industry.(except Pt commodity people, but too damn bad)

Re:Snagging an asteroid is cooler anyway! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168343)

Why is it important what your parents thought? In the 19th century your parents would have thought of bigger and better steam locomotives.

It's a stunning lack of imagination and insight to cling to the delusions of your parents.

Re:Snagging an asteroid is cooler anyway! (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 months ago | (#47168365)

"We know Mars."
no we don't.

"sweet sweet platinum,"
I agree, but lets not forget it would loose value as a commodity immediately after bring one of these back. So it needs to be a government mission

And it's not that crazy and completely do able. In fact we should do a few, some to gather resource for earth, and others to gather resource for mars.

Re:Snagging an asteroid is cooler anyway! (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 2 months ago | (#47168669)

Well, maybe not as boring. The drinking laws on Mars are more favorable to exploration.

Re:Snagging an asteroid is cooler anyway! (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 months ago | (#47168899)

All it needs is some greehouse gases.

As Elon Musk noted it's a fixer-upper planet.

Re:Snagging an asteroid is cooler anyway! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 2 months ago | (#47169273)

Seriously, forget Mars. It's like Utah, but cold, and even more boring.

Hell no! On Mars you can drink on Sundays.
     

Re:Snagging an asteroid is cooler anyway! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47169415)

Seriously, forget Mars. It's like Utah, but cold, and even more boring.

Our ship went off course, landing in Utah. The Mormons greeted us a Kolobians.

Humans unnecessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168151)

Currently there is no real reason to be sending humans to Mars, especially considering the cost. Robots can do the same job at vastly cheaper rates.

This is a America, we believe in capitalism, what we really need to be doing is figuring out a way to commercialize the area beyond LEO and Geosynchronous orbit. Asteroid mining is probably the best bet there, so it seems like NASA is probably on the right track.

Re:Humans unnecessary (1)

The New Guy 2.0 (3497907) | about 2 months ago | (#47168253)

While Mars data is currently interesting... why are we still gathering the data and what does it lead to? A new human habitat, or habitat for anything that exists on Earth doesn't work.

Re:Humans unnecessary (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 2 months ago | (#47168675)

And this is based on your personal observations?

Re:Humans unnecessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168603)

There's no real reason to mine asteroids either, bud. It's a non-starter.

Just give the NASA budget to Elon Musk (1)

Ecuador (740021) | about 2 months ago | (#47168153)

or his clone and watch it produce 100x the results it would otherwise. Ok, if you can't how about diverting a little of the defense budget to NASA? Just 1% is enough. It will still be rather wasted compared to what the likes of SpaceX could do, but compared to the complete waste of warfare it is still great...

Re:Just give the NASA budget to Elon Musk (2)

Kardos (1348077) | about 2 months ago | (#47168183)

SpaceX doesn't have the R&D hurdle that NASA had to achieve LEO. SpaceX first to mars? That seems unlikely. Perhaps if we gave them a sustained budget comparable to mid-60s NASA levels for a couple decades. Or, we could just fund NASA, they are quite competent.

Re:Just give the NASA budget to Elon Musk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168299)

You'll notice that Tesla and SpaceX build everything themselves from the ground up. For example, when most other companies at most copy old Soviet rocket engines (or just refurbish existing stock), SpaceX built their own very competitive engine, which is not a knock-off of a 60's engine model. Same with Tesla, after building their first car on a Lotus chassis, they built everything for their second gen, from engine to driving train, to battery controller they made a lot of advancements in the way. SpaceX first to mars does not sound like a bad bet. No, they would not need mid-60s NASA budget, but NASA would need that to get there first.

Re:Just give the NASA budget to Elon Musk (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 months ago | (#47168641)

Or, we could just fund NASA, they are quite competent.

Yea, their successor to the Space Shuttle is quite the amazing vehicle, especially for being made of paper.

Re:Just give the NASA budget to Elon Musk (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 months ago | (#47168929)

NASA to Mars under any circumstances seems unlikely. They haven't made any progress since what 1969?

Give the money to Musk. NASA and their contractors are mostly a pile of bureaucrats milking the public teat.

Re:Just give the NASA budget to Elon Musk (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 months ago | (#47168395)

So you think 177 million is enough for Elon Musk to get people to mars?

Please, Elon Musk hasn't done anything that hasn't been done before.

Re:Just give the NASA budget to Elon Musk (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 months ago | (#47168649)

So you really think that 17.7 billion is enough for NASA to fly anyone to Mars? Seriously?

Re:Just give the NASA budget to Elon Musk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47169065)

I am sure that 100x was an exaggeration, but it is more than 10x+ if you think about it: 17 billion/year on NASA won't get us to Mars, but just 1.7 billion/year to SpaceX would probably get us there in a decade or two.

Re:Just give the NASA budget to Elon Musk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168417)

Or you could write him a check yourself. Free market, dude!

Re: Just give the NASA budget to Elon Musk (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168549)

SpaceX and NASA are not in competition. NASA pays SpaceX to move stuff up to the ISS, just like they'll be more than happy to for Mars. The issue is NASA doesn't have enough money to pay SpaceX (or lockheed etc.) to go to Mars.

SpaceX has done well with LEO launches because that's a 50 year old problem. Ferrying people to mars is a new problem that SpaceX doesn't currently have a business model for that can make a profit.

People have this strange idea that NASA hates private businesses and doesn't want to compete with them, when in fact they've been contracting with private firms (Lockheed, Northrup Grumman, etc.) since the Apollo days.

Re: Just give the NASA budget to Elon Musk (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 months ago | (#47169131)

People have this strange idea that NASA hates private businesses and doesn't want to compete with them,

This "strange idea" is called "experience". For example, prior to the days of contracting with private firms for launch services, it was illegal for US payloads to go up on anything other than a Shuttle. Even afterward, NASA would still price their launches well below cost. NASA isn't the only cause of such problems (for example, the aerospace businesses are not above using US regulation and bogus safety concerns to mess each other up), but they haven't helped.

SpaceX has done well with LEO launches because that's a 50 year old problem.

No, SpaceX has done well because they have a very good solution to that 50 year old problem. NASA doesn't have and never had a good solution that same problem.

Re:Just give the NASA budget to Elon Musk (1)

Earthquake Retrofit (1372207) | about 2 months ago | (#47169071)

I'm going to go out on a limb and say we will NEVER be able to explore/exploit/colonize space unless we do away with war. It's dangerous out there. Very dangerous. Even just a fistfight in the ISS could destroy the whole thing.

Steve

ice cream sandwich in my anus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168155)

i'd have sex with a johnny cab character

          get your ass to Mars get your ass to Mars get your ass to Mars get your ass to Mars get your ass to Mars get your ass to Mars get your ass to Mars get your ass to Mars get your ass to Mars

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Re:ice cream sandwich in my anus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168261)

That's cool I'd take the chick with three boobs.

Re:ice cream sandwich in my anus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168807)

That's her belly Beavis.

Slightly misleading.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168265)

They suggested 3 roadmaps to mars, one of which included the ARM roadmap currently being pursued. The other 2 roadmaps add a few other goals to mars, one is a lagrange outpost and another is a moon base, with additional goals of possible bases on demos of phobos.

The undertone is we should be pursuing all 3 roadmaps if we want a successful/reasonably sustainable mars base to work. Not that one roadmap is better than the other.

Maybe they'll get some traction... (4, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | about 2 months ago | (#47168271)

I'm glad the National Research Council has published this... maybe now it will get some traction. Having said that, it does not take a rocket scientist to see that the program is underfunded and will not be able to meet any of its goals. Frankly, this is true of not just NASA, but science in general. Too many in Congress talk about the importance of STEM; but, when push comes to shove are unwilling to fund R&D and large scale engineering programs.

Kickstarter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168309)

maybe NASA needs to do a kickstarter?

Re:Kickstarter? (1)

agm (467017) | about 2 months ago | (#47168339)

Funding NASA by voluntary payment instead of compulsion is the only ethical way.

Ok, maybe not the whole human ... (2)

Krishnoid (984597) | about 2 months ago | (#47168315)

Maybe they could just get a donkey to Mars?

Re:Ok, maybe not the whole human ... (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 2 months ago | (#47168721)

I'm thinking of the use of mice, and or rats. Just to see what's in store for humanities future?

Currently there are too many distractions (4, Interesting)

mrflash818 (226638) | about 2 months ago | (#47168355)

I do not think humans will get into expanding our civilization past Earth's atmosphere until there is a single global government. Currently the nation-states divert too many resources against each other (arms, trade wars), that instead could be used into expanding us beyond Earth.

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

Re:Currently there are too many distractions (2)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 2 months ago | (#47168723)

The "Space Race" between the USSR, and USA would be a difinitive choke point to your logic. But a world government would be useful for Parking tickets.

Re:Currently there are too many distractions (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 months ago | (#47169149)

I do not think humans will get into expanding our civilization past Earth's atmosphere until there is a single global government. Currently the nation-states divert too many resources against each other (arms, trade wars), that instead could be used into expanding us beyond Earth.

That point of view only makes sense, if governments are the only source of industry and innovation. They aren't.

Re:Currently there are too many distractions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47169329)

I do not think humans will get into expanding our civilization past Earth's atmosphere until there is a single global government.

Because a single world government would never be co-opted by corporations, lobbyists or power-hungry groups or individuals like our current nation-states are.

Re:Currently there are too many distractions (2, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 months ago | (#47169445)

Ah, yes, one world government. Because there isn't nearly enough tyranny on this planet already. Surely, a global government would concentrate resources on space and advancing the cause of humanity instead of large-scale theft for their own tribe and armed response to anyone who disagreed.

Why should we care? (4, Interesting)

SoftwareArtist (1472499) | about 2 months ago | (#47168413)

Why is sending humans to Mars supposed to be such a great thing? It's incredibly expensive, incredibly dangerous, and doesn't accomplish much of anything useful. Once you've sent them, the next trip will be almost as expensive as the first one.

I'm much more interested in building up a meaningful, sustainable space program. That means building up an industrial base in space. We need to be able to manufacture things in space out of raw materials that were mined in space. That's the only way that human space travel will ever be economically sustainable. So that asteroid mission sounds like exactly the right approach to be taking.

Re:Why should we care? (1, Interesting)

slew (2918) | about 2 months ago | (#47168527)

Why is sending humans to Mars supposed to be such a great thing? It's incredibly expensive, incredibly dangerous, and doesn't accomplish much of anything useful. Once you've sent them, the next trip will be almost as expensive as the first one.

Well, since you asked...

"Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

Of course if the challenge of sending humans to Mars is something we are unwilling to accept, or willing to postpone, or intend to lose...

Industrializing space may sound like a meaningful thing, but industrializing areas of our own earth hasn't been the most ecological of pursuits. Nothing like the chants of "drill-baby-drill" being replaced by "launch-and-mine-baby-launch-and-mine"... It seems like it was also meaningful thing Yellowstone was the first national park, although I'm sure there's someone out that could make an argument that exploiting sustainable geo-thermal energy in old-faithful will help build up our oil independence...

Re:Why should we care? (1)

Dzimas (547818) | about 2 months ago | (#47168619)

A politician's speech is the best you can come up with to explain why we need to reach Mars? Oh, my. JFK was all hot and bothered to reach the moon because it would upstage the Soviets, not because it was a noble or even sensible endeavor. There are a number of good reasons why a mission to mars would be desirable: (1) it requires the development of long-range manned spacecraft, (2) it gets us out of low earth orbit, (3) (in the long term) it encourages the development of new forms of long-range propulsion and an important emphasis on interplanetary life support systems. I could scrawl down a few dozen more, but the *important* bit is that it encourages us to make tentative steps into the larger solar system. And -- once we can reach other planets and moons -- perhaps there's an economic opportunity to be found that drives further advances.

Why Sputnik? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168817)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-schneider/why-sputnik_b_814967.html [huffingtonpost.com]

President Obama was doing what politicians do all the time. He was trying to create a mood of crisis in the country. And for a reason: That's the only way we get things done.

Re:Why should we care? (1)

SoftwareArtist (1472499) | about 2 months ago | (#47169275)

(2) it gets us out of low earth orbit

But that's exactly the problem: it doesn't get us out of low earth orbit. Or rather, it gets precisely one ship out of low earth orbit, but the next one we send out will have to start all over from ground level. Sending anything from the earth's surface into space is incredibly expensive. As long as we have to rely on that, we will never be able to do more than a handful of one-off missions involving a handful of people.

I want to see humans colonizing space. I want to see permanent habitats where people live for years at a time. And not just a few people, but millions. Sending a few people to Mars doesn't get us closer to that. Developing asteroid mining facilities does get us closer.

Re:Why should we care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47168865)

Seriously? The answer is why not? Comments are such a joke when it comes to space topics. Can't you say anything meaningful? What's NASA's take? If they don't want to unless there are good SCIENTIFIC reasons to do so, would you be open to replacing them with one that takes needless risks to help idiots live their fantasies? If they don't want to do it, someone else will have to. Tough titties, move on. BTW NASA plans to have capabilities to begin leaving the solar system in about 100 years. Is that why you're so feverish to do dumb things now? Because you just want to live to see it?

Re:Why should we care? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 months ago | (#47169159)

Industrializing space may sound like a meaningful thing, but industrializing areas of our own earth hasn't been the most ecological of pursuits.

OTOH, what sounds to me to be a particularly meaningless thing is ecologizing sterile space. Completely taking apart an asteroid for its resources is just as ecological as leaving it alone.

Re:Why should we care? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 2 months ago | (#47168737)

Good point, but after a few moments of considering to your logic; "Where do I sign up to be the first to go?"

Who said we should go to Mars? (5, Insightful)

fma (71738) | about 2 months ago | (#47168465)

Setting up shop at a Lagrange point is a whole lot more interesting and likely profitable. Unless you really want little green men.

A Damning Appraisal of NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47169001)

The NRC report is STUNNING in its damning of NASA and Washington D.C. group think and policy.

In essence the NRC report finds:

1) The chemists, engineers and physicists needed to design and build a Mission to Mars have not been born.

2) The educational system to educate the chemists, engineers and physicists needed does NOT exist now nor will in 30 years.

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