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Getting the Most Out of the Space Station (Before It's Too Late)

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the remember-when-we-let-our-space-program-die dept.

ISS 155

bmahersciwriter writes: NASA administrators are strategizing a push to do more science on the International Space Station in the coming years. The pressure is on, given the rapidly cooling relations between the U.S. and Russia, whose deputy prime minister recently suggested that U.S. astronauts use a trampoline if they want to get into orbit. Aiding in the push for more research is the development of two-way cargo ships by SpaceX, which should allow for return of research materials (formerly a hurdle to doing useful experiments). NASA soon aims to send new earth-monitoring equipment to the station and expanded rodent facilities. And geneLAB will send a range of model organisms like fruit flies and nematodes into space for months at a time.

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Mother Russia... (4, Interesting)

mlw4428 (1029576) | about 2 months ago | (#47205929)

Ol' Mother Russia should not forget that NASA pays them good monies to send our astronauts into space. Space X is slowly becoming a viable option and American commercialized companies will carry far more weight with NASA than Russia will. Putini should also strongly consider the effects of the US (and US's allies) in implementing trade sanctions and embargos on his nation and how quickly things can go south without a single bullet needing to be fired.

Re:Mother Russia... (0, Troll)

johnsie (1158363) | about 2 months ago | (#47205979)

Chinese and Russians will be able to do it cheaper. It costs too much to employ Americans and purcjase American made products.

Re:Mother Russia... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206109)

The kiddies have a hardon for anything SpaceX and anything to do with Thorium. Don't bother arguing with them, their devotion is religious and not based in fact.

Personally, I do think that SpaceX has a good thing going at the moment but they're a failure or two or a political fuckup or two away from never launching again. The state of Russia has more experience, more expertise, more infrastructure and endless seas of funds in comparison. Add to that, smart money is not patriotic. Smart money goes where you launch the cheapest with the greatest successrate. Some times that will be Russia, some times that will be SpaceX... I doubt China will ever be a major player, personally, but I hope I'm wrong.

Re:Mother Russia... (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 months ago | (#47206421)

Personally, I do think that SpaceX has a good thing going at the moment but they're a failure or two or a political fuckup or two away from never launching again.

Just like the three failures that kicked off SpaceX's program ended SpaceX? And how does this really differ from Russia? I'd say Russia is a political fuckup away from ending its primary meal ticket, the launches to ISS. That would have much the same effect.

The state of Russia has more experience, more expertise, more infrastructure and endless seas of funds in comparison.

How many rockets and engines has Russia developed in the last ten years? How can it have and retain such experience and expertise, if it's not actually doing the sort of things any more that generate experience and expertise? Russia may have more funding, the only thing I'm willing to grant on your list, but they aren't willing to spend that on development either of existing platforms or new ones. Their program is stagnant and not going anywhere.

OTOH, SpaceX has developed two new rockets, at least three new rocket engine lineages (perhaps four by now), a spacecraft, and vertical landing technology in a bit over ten years. Even if they fail, say due to the gambles they are taking, it's still a solid and remarkable demonstration that their approach works far better than anything else out there. That means other such companies can fill in the vacuum and take SpaceX's place, using the same strategies.

Re:Mother Russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206727)

Just like the three failures that kicked off SpaceX's program ended SpaceX?

Which of those failures ended in death?

That's what we're talking about here.

Nobody gives a damn if a payload of dehydrated beans explodes. When a human dies horribly in a gigantic fireball, though, oh yes - there will be cries for blood.

Re:Mother Russia... (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 months ago | (#47207009)

I think that's a pretty thin hope to pine for. Everyone knows people will die in space and that has already happened before. And once we pass through the original hubbub, nobody is going to care any more, just like they don't care when a family wraps their car around a tree.

Re:Mother Russia... (0)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 months ago | (#47207073)

You do not know what you are talking about. They recently developed the RD-191 and RD-0124 staged combustion engines. They are developing the Angara rocket to replace Proton. Russia is one of the largest launch services providers in the world.

The largest problem they have had by far has been funding. The main reason for the delays in Angara has been lack of funding and lack of a launch pad because they have had no funding to build one. The first stage of Angara was launched rather successfully with the South Korea Naro rocket (the part of Naro that failed was the South Korean 2nd stage the Russian 1st stage worked perfect).

Re:Mother Russia... (5, Informative)

khallow (566160) | about 2 months ago | (#47207313)

You do not know what you are talking about. They recently developed the RD-191 and RD-0124 staged combustion engines. They are developing the Angara rocket to replace Proton. Russia is one of the largest launch services providers in the world.

In other words, they upgraded the labels on rocket designs from the 1960s and 1970s. The RD-0110 was first flown in 1964 and the RD-170 was first developed for the Engergia rocket in the late 70s.

If instead, we're going to compare apples to apples. we'll also have to note that SpaceX has similarly upgraded its rocket engines during the same period. For example, there are three substantial upgrades of the original Merlin 1 rocket engine (the rocket used on the Falcon 9) and a second upgrade to the Draco rocket engine (a in-space rocket engine used for maneuvering). So

And while Russia claims to be developing Angara, as you already noted, they aren't due to the "delays" attributed to funding (which is actually the easiest part of the puzzle for Russia to fix - just add money).

So to summarize the current count: SpaceX has developed four rocket engine designs from scratch and upgraded these four times in the same sense that Russia has upgraded the RD-170 and the RD-0110. Then they developed two launch vehicles while Russia has experienced delays in its alleged development of the Angara. Finally, SpaceX developed a new spacecraft and vertical landing technology while Russia did neither. I think you see where I'm going with this.

Re:Mother Russia... (1)

sneakyimp (1161443) | about 2 months ago | (#47207399)

Mod parent up.

Elon musk's spaceship (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47207103)

It takes 60 days for a seller on ebay to get paid by paypal. Yes 60 whole days. By the time the seller can be paid, they are probably on the streets and homeless, while Paypal collects all that nice interest on the seller's money, that they can't have for 60 days.

But Elon Musk has a spaceship!

Re:Mother Russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206283)

Father Russia

trampoline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47205931)

Sounds like a great name for the SpaceX crew capsule

Re:trampoline (0)

myth24601 (893486) | about 2 months ago | (#47206037)

XKCD should do a what if? for how a trampoline could be used to get to the space station.

Re:trampoline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206159)

Oh, it's simple, but it'd cost a ton.

Step 1. Dig a second Kola Superdeep Borehole to give the trampoline enough room to compress.
Step 2. Build trampoline over Kola #2
Step 3. Calculate approximate weight of Russian deputy prime minister.
Step 4. Send in a black ops team to kidnap said minister, followed by extraordinary rendition to the US.
Step 5. Put weight on the trampoline such that if the weight of the deputy prime minister is added, the trampoline will collapse into Kola #2.
Step 6. Dangle deputy prime minister over trampoline until he offers to fly astronauts into space again, at a greatly reduced price.

Re:trampoline (1)

Sketchly (1354369) | about 2 months ago | (#47206979)

We'd need a Skynet for safety

Re:trampoline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206191)

Well you would have to jump from a height exceeding the height of the ISS, (completely ignoring terminal velocity here too). You would have to accelerate yourself into the trampoline at great speed, and who knows how far the trampoline would have to extend using modern elastic fabrics and polymers. And would the impact from hitting this trampoline at speed be survivable by a human? I guess it would be a good chuckle if they did the maths.

Mistake to go in with the Ruskies (1)

myth24601 (893486) | about 2 months ago | (#47205933)

It always seemed like a mistake to get involved in such a venture with the Russians. Any joint venture with two co-equals with somewhat cold relations seems destined to lead to problems as each side has conflicting goals (sometimes unrelated to the joint venture).

Re:Mistake to go in with the Ruskies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206033)

It always seemed like a mistake to get involved in such a venture with the Russians. Any joint venture with two co-equals with somewhat cold relations seems destined to lead to problems as each side has conflicting goals (sometimes unrelated to the joint venture).

Yes.. we should have continued to fight them at every turn and paid for the space station ourselves with the money we saved...

???

Relations were OK until Obama undermined Ukraine (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206123)

Ukraine had a government sympathetic to Russia until Obama fomented a rebellion that ousted it. Remember the "Fuck the EU" comment [theguardian.com] ? That was about the EU not wanting to destabilize Ukraine because they weren't willing to go to war over it. Obama fomented the rebellion anyway.

Imagine Russia blatantly intervening in Canadian politics - for example in Quebec, getting English-speakers kicked out into the US and the rest of Canada - and what that would do to US attitudes towards Russia.

Of course, in another perfect example of "smart power", after fomenting rebellion and damn near starting a war with a nuclear power - a crisis that's still simmering to this day - we got hashtags from the Obama admin. #RedLine.

I guess Obama must have promised the Russians that if they liked the original Ukrainian government they could keep it.

Re:Relations were OK until Obama undermined Ukrain (1)

worldthinker (536300) | about 2 months ago | (#47206163)

So are you suggesting that it was up to the Americans and Russians to determine the choices a sovereign people should make? How about if someone made those choices for you? Oh Wait, they already do...

Re:Relations were OK until Obama undermined Ukrain (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206459)

So are you suggesting that it was up to the Americans and Russians to determine the choices a sovereign people should make? How about if someone made those choices for you? Oh Wait, they already do...

First, sovereignty isn't an absolute, especially when Russia and Ukraine were in fact a single sovereign country until very recently. Crimea is historically Russian and was only part of "Ukrainian" territory in the USSR because of an internal administrative boundary change.

Hell, throwing your "choices a sovereign people should make" back at you: what about the parts of Ukraine that are heavily Russian and WOULD rather be part of Russia?

Obama didn't just allow the Ukrainians their own choice - he actively supported the rebels against the pro-Russian government. Given Russian interests in the Ukraine, especially in the Crimea where Russia maintains a significant military presence, and the clearly stated [aljazeera.com] importance Russia placed in Ukrainian status, Obama still helped topple the government there.

That's the mess Obama needlessly stepped into. And made worse. Then walked away from spouting hashtags while people died.

But it gets worse - after fomenting a rebellion everyone in Europe knew the Russians would respond to militarily (which is why they didn't support Obama, resulting in the "Fuck the EU" comment), Obama seemed surprised by the Russian response. Hmm, exactly like Obama was surprised by the reaction to his deserter-for-five-terrorists deal. (Is "Chuck Hagel did it!" [go.com] our fifth excuse for that PR disaster now?)

Re:Relations were OK until Obama undermined Ukrain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47207347)

No, it was up to the "sovereign people" of Ukraine, who chose a president in the most free and fair elections they've had since their country's creation 24 years ago. But then certain neocons decided that this wasn't good enough, so they fomented street protests to depose him.

Re:Relations were OK until Obama undermined Ukrain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206197)

Sure dude, what other Russian conspiracy theories are you believing?

Maybe they should tell you about the rebellion in Utah, and how those poor persecuted Mormons are being oppressed! Or that dude in Nevada!

Re:Relations were OK until Obama undermined Ukrain (1)

guises (2423402) | about 2 months ago | (#47206261)

It's nice to see that even the Russian conspiracy theorists take a "blame Obama" approach to politics. It's a small world.

Re:Relations were OK until Obama undermined Ukrain (1)

TWX (665546) | about 2 months ago | (#47206589)

"Blame Obama" has been popular for a long time, all the way back to about 2001 or so, so far as I can tell...

Re:Mistake to go in with the Ruskies (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206155)

It never was really a science project, it was a diplomatic venture. Precisely because of the cold relations between the USA and Russia, the ISS was to showcase how antagonistic nations could set aside their differences to work together for the good of humanity. The ideal was that such a display would encourage other nations and tribes to see their personal conflicts as a little less important in the grand scheme of life. As an observation of wars since the launch of the ISS can show you, it didn't have much of an effect outside the nations that were already getting sick of open warfare.

If Russia goes through with effectively confiscating the whole project, the RSS (too bad they're not claiming the title "Soviet" like before, "SSS" has a fun ring to it) will change from a sign of cooperation to a sign of Russian ascendency and peerlessness. What, if anything, that changes on the ground is hard to guess at. I'm not even sure most nations or people would notice, it would just be mentioned whenever someone thinks it can be used to shame an opponent in an argument (debate hasn't been the rule of politics in quite some time).

Re:Mistake to go in with the Ruskies (1)

sabri (584428) | about 2 months ago | (#47206319)

It never was really a science project, it was a diplomatic venture. Precisely because of the cold relations between the USA and Russia, the ISS was to showcase how antagonistic nations could set aside their differences to work together for the good of humanity. The ideal was that such a display would encourage other nations and tribes to see their personal conflicts as a little less important in the grand scheme of life. As an observation of wars since the launch of the ISS can show you, it didn't have much of an effect outside the nations that were already getting sick of open warfare.

And this is why the Vulcans haven't contacted us yet. It's not about warp drive, it's about a society being civil and evolved beyond internal disputes.

Re:Mistake to go in with the Ruskies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206431)

The Vulcans haven't evolved yet. We are the Ancient Humanoids.

Re:Mistake to go in with the Ruskies (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 2 months ago | (#47206653)

We will never evolve beyond internal disputes. heck 60% of all marriages end in failures do you really think we can cooperate on a national level over the long term?

The thing is over time our disputes are getting less violent. we will still have them but in another one or two hundred years we will talk them out instead of shooting. well unless we fall completely back.

I am not convinced that even aliens attacking us could get current leaders to work together.

Re:Mistake to go in with the Ruskies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47207321)

Exactly right. If aliens invaded, half of the world's leaders would side with them in the hope of gaining advantage over their political opponents. Why? Because people still see anything other than the self, family or tribe as alien.

Re:Mistake to go in with the Ruskies (1)

sneakyimp (1161443) | about 2 months ago | (#47207461)

Just wait til the internet hive mind evolves. A little bit of right wing facism for some genocide and extermination of minorities, prisoners, and the poor. Then they'll wind up the left-wing nanny state factor gradually to slowly erode any concept of privacy, individualism, liberty, or meritocracy. Nobody will know it's happening, they'll all be grooving out to Nicki Minaj, Justin Beiber, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Kesh, Katy Perry, Rihanna, One Direction, Korn, uhh.....or watching 'Real Housewives.'

Re:Mistake to go in with the Ruskies (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206189)

With the constant pettyness and renegging on agreements by the US government, it seems like a very risky business to go into such a venture for the Russians as well.

Re:Mistake to go in with the Ruskies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206317)

Co-equals? They can get there all you can do is ask them to be a taxi service or threaten to shoot it down if they refuse.

Re:Mistake to go in with the Ruskies (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 months ago | (#47206451)

I disagree, as it is prompting us to work together despite current tensions, and has saved a lot of money. (If we had a cheaper option on hand we'd be doing it by now!)

This is similar to how people disagree on the Olympics, or the UN as a whole. Some people say "the UN is a sham if Country X is on the human rights committee." I say "what, you think Country X would have better human rights if they weren't on the comittee?"

Re:Mistake to go in with the Ruskies (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 months ago | (#47207227)

"what, you think Country X would have better human rights if they weren't on the comittee?"

No, I think they'd have exactly the same (lack of) human rights, but they'd spend a lot less time telling the rest of us that they're a paragon of human rights, what with being on the Human Rights Committee and and all....

Re:Mistake to go in with the Ruskies (1)

sneakyimp (1161443) | about 2 months ago | (#47207473)

If we had a cheaper option on hand we'd be doing it by now!

How do you figure? I'd say that's a tautology, but it can't be because it's just not true.

Needs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47205947)

More, bigger and better, hamster tubes!

Have to laugh at the stupid Russia (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | about 2 months ago | (#47205955)

Have to laugh at the stupid Russia Deputy prime minister, as if we cant get to space on our own.

Re:Have to laugh at the stupid Russia (1)

johnsie (1158363) | about 2 months ago | (#47205997)

You can't

Re:Have to laugh at the stupid Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206071)

Yep, and they can't either. It should be a team effort. Instead, we're bickering and backstabbing instead of getting off this rock... humanity at its usual...

Re:Have to laugh at the stupid Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206271)

The universe is better off without humanity.

Re:Have to laugh at the stupid Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206137)

Pray tell. How would you?

Also, please note that even when SpaceX gets a man-rated capsule and launch system, it will be a commercial for-profit entity not beholden to any state.

Thirdly, kindly stop patting yourself on the back for things you had no part in. Nationalism is for monkeys.

Re:Have to laugh at the stupid Russia (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 2 months ago | (#47206293)

Pray tell. How would you?

The Space Launch System [wikipedia.org] , which expected to be ready to fly in 2017.

Granted, using that to put people on the ISS is absurd overkill. It would be like commuting in an 18-wheeler.

Re:Have to laugh at the stupid Russia (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 2 months ago | (#47206361)

So you are expecting to use future technology that doesn't exist to put people in space now.

Well done.

Re:Have to laugh at the stupid Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206375)

which expected to be ready to fly in 2017.

So in other words, you can't. Thankyou for playing.

Re:Have to laugh at the stupid Russia (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 months ago | (#47206481)

which expected

The Ares V was expected [flightglobal.com] to fly in 2018 and put something in orbit around the Moon in 2019. Expectations have a way of not happening in the aerospace industry. Congress can expect the SLS to fly any time they want, but that doesn't mean it actually will do so.

Re:Have to laugh at the stupid Russia (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 months ago | (#47207131)

Don't joke man. The SLS is a white elephant which will probably never fly in the final configuration.

If you said SpaceX Falcon 9 or Boeing Delta IV Heavy I wouldn't laugh.

Have to laugh at the stupid Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206209)

"as if we cant get to space on our own"

That depends, either on our willingness to pay off a bunch of aerospace/defense contractors tens of billions of dollars to recreate technology from the 60s (SLS). Or our ability to keep the corruption in the federal government from sabotaging some of the halfway reasonable attempts to bring down launch costs (SpaceX, Bigelow, etc).

Direct economic confrontation with Russia (3, Informative)

sinij (911942) | about 2 months ago | (#47206011)

In any direct economic confrontation with Russia US will get impacted a lot less than Russia. This was true during cold war days, this is more so true today. Russia's refusal to provide orbital delivery will only serve one purpose - channel money away from Russian space program toward NASA or Space-X.

Now, if Russia wanted to negatively impact US, then they'd mass produce tech and sell to anyone/everyone willing to pay. This would remove technological edge from US and enrich Russia.

Re:Direct economic confrontation with Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206679)

In any direct economic confrontation with Russia US will get impacted a lot less than Russia. This was true during cold war days, this is more so true today. Russia's refusal to provide orbital delivery will only serve one purpose - channel money away from Russian space program toward NASA or Space-X.

And how far does a "direct economic confrontation" go? When you damage an economic system, you kill people - the system has less resources to expend on food and medical care. Are you really advocating that type of confrontation between two nuclear-armed powers?

Now, if Russia wanted to negatively impact US, then they'd mass produce tech and sell to anyone/everyone willing to pay. This would remove technological edge from US and enrich Russia.

You think the reason Russia isn't doing that already is because why, exactly? If it would "enrich Russia" they'd ALREADY BE DOING IT IF THEY COULD. Jeez. Anyone on the planet who can do that is already doing that.

Not when Europe is dependent on Russian gas. (3, Interesting)

Uberbah (647458) | about 2 months ago | (#47206879)

And that's gas that isn't traded in Russian currency. The U.S. can huff and puff its imperialistic hypocritical fascist coup supporting chest as much as it wants, but it can't do anything of significance as long as giving up Russian energy supplies would throw the continent into a depression. That, and Russia still has it's Security Council veto pen, and recent American efforts to make another round of "regime change" have stalled everywhere but Ukraine.

Re:Not when Europe is dependent on Russian gas. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47207107)

Russia is a criminal kleptocracy run by a handful of people that are buddies with Putin. The state exists to serve those people and that's about it. This is the literal uncut truth and if you don't understand this then you don't understand how the world works. You're either stupid, or a shill.

  It's a bad place run by bad people the world would frankly will be better off not if but when the current regime collapses under the weight of it's own inadequacy.

That said, Russia is never going to cut off gas supplies. They need the money more than everyone needs Russian gas. Sure, it will suck in the short term but all It's going to do is send everyone running full tilt in to the arms of the EU. The last thing Russia wants.

Re:Not when Europe is dependent on Russian gas. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47207365)

As Im not Russian nor American it seems to me large chunks of your statement are valid about either nation.

Get rid of NASA (-1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 months ago | (#47206043)

I hate to say it, but the space program was going along great while under the Airforce. As soon as NASA got involved in the late 50's we had a mess. The Shuttle program was an unmitigated disaster. It set us back decades, if we'd stuck with the Apollo program we'd have been much better off.

Speaking of the airforce, anyone know how they're getting their mini-robot spy shuttle into orbit? You'd think people would notice the launch. Or are they doing it from the ocean?

Re:Get rid of NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206083)

Strangely uninformed questions from someone willing to make such a bold claims of fact.

Re:Get rid of NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206153)

And you sure showed him he wrong he was. Didntcha?

Re:Get rid of NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206259)

Just like you. Well done. Capital argument. Flawless victory.

Enjoy your fedora.

Re:Get rid of NASA (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 2 months ago | (#47206095)

the space program had disasters under air force too. you must be young. plenty of successes under NASA for 1960s until now

Re:Get rid of NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206165)

The mistakes in the Space Shuttle design was made for the Air Force:

"This led to an effort to interest the US Air Force in using the shuttle for their missions as well. The Air Force was mildly interested, but demanded a much larger vehicle, far larger than the original concepts. To lower the development costs of the resulting designs, boosters were added, a throw-away fuel tank was adopted, and many other changes made that **greatly lowered the reusability and greatly added to vehicle and operational costs. With the Air Force's approval, the system emerged in its operational form.**"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_design_process

Re:Get rid of NASA (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 months ago | (#47206491)

The mistakes in the Space Shuttle design was made for the Air Force:

Only because NASA made too much rocket and had to get Air Force funding to cover the funding gap. One bad decision lead to another.

Re:Get rid of NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206551)

The mistakes in the Space Shuttle design was made for the Air Force:

Only because NASA made too much rocket and had to get Air Force funding to cover the funding gap. One bad decision lead to another.

"The Air Force was mildly interested, but demanded **a much larger vehicle**, far larger than the original concepts."

Re:Get rid of NASA (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 months ago | (#47206809)

"The Air Force was mildly interested, but demanded **a much larger vehicle**, far larger than the original concepts."

Nonsense. NASA would have been able to fund a small vehicle without Air Force involvement. Note that the current Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] you quote (which incidentally asserts the above without citation) also claims that NASA had already designed a vehicle too large for existing funding and only went to the Air Force to get additional funding.

Also we have original concepts mentioned in the Wikipedia article like launching a reusable launch vehicle on a Saturn V. Do you really think the final Space Shuttle is larger than a Saturn V launch?

So here's a summary of my arguments - NASA already had the ability to fund a small RLV, the cooperation with the USAF was voluntary, and they already had other huge original concepts in mind before they approached USAF. I think there's a simple explanation for this particular claim - historical revisionism.

Re:Get rid of NASA (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 months ago | (#47207221)

No man. The DoD wanted Shuttle to be a lot larger so they could launch big reconnaissance satellites with it. The USAF also wanted the ability to do polar launches from Vandenberg plus a lot of cross-range capability so it could fly back to where it launched from. Both those features made the Shuttle immensely expensive and bloated.

The original Shuttle proposals by Max Faget were supposed to launch only astronauts not humongous cargo.

Re:Get rid of NASA (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 months ago | (#47207333)

So what? Again, NASA could have solved this problem, with money to spare, by scaling down the Max Faget vehicle till it fit in the budget.

Re:Get rid of NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206205)

Um, plenty of countries have military "space programs". LEO and communication satellites is all they got too.

There is no magical fairy-tale to be had in space. It's huge, it's empty, it's hostile.

Deal with it.

Re:Get rid of NASA (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 2 months ago | (#47206305)

The Apollo Program showed it was capable of getting people to the moon, but the point of NASA isn't just getting people to the moon over and over, the point is to eventually establish a permanent, expanding presence in space. Pointing a V-2 rocket up at the sky is effective but is also a dead end.

And of course the space program had problems under the Airforce.

Re:Get rid of NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206619)

"he Apollo Program showed it was capable of getting people to the moon,"

No, it was mostly to show up the USSR at the time. That's all. It was an empty symbolic gesture.

" Pointing a V-2 rocket up at the sky is effective but is also a dead end."

Space is a dead end. It's great to put some cameras and radios floating up there, but that's it. No one's going to camp on the Moon or buy a condo on Mars.

Deal with it.

Re:Get rid of NASA (2)

MShield (743683) | about 2 months ago | (#47206821)

I would camp on the Moon in a heartbeat... and I would bring my kids,... and a telescope. And we would marvel at the wonders of the Earth and eat freeze-dried ice cream sandwiches.

Re:Get rid of NASA (2)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 2 months ago | (#47207091)

If we want to continue to have an expanding economy sooner or later we're going to have to use the resources available off planet. The human race is built for expansion and until we get into space in a big way we will continue to be vulnerable to all sorts of things. If we don't expand into space we have no real future in the long run.

Re:Get rid of NASA (1)

CanadianMacFan (1900244) | about 2 months ago | (#47206357)

The problem of NASA is the politicians coming in and changing the direction of it's primary focus every couple of years. Plus they see it as a job stimulus project which would exist even if it was moved back into the military (for example, tanks that the military doesn't want).

Re:Get rid of NASA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206401)

You're blaming NASA.

Why don't you blame who is in charge of NASA?

Let me hint who it is: They're the opposite of Progress

Re:Get rid of NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206665)

Corporations?

The shuttle's failings were largely (3, Insightful)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | about 2 months ago | (#47206417)

the fault of the USAF!

The USAF demanded the ability to launch, retrieve/deploy a payload, and return to earth in a single orbit. They also wanted the ability to get into a polar orbit, which required a huge cross-range capability not in the original design.

After forcing all this crap into the design (and sinking billions on a shuttle launch/landing facility at Vandenberg AFB), they gave up on the project entirely, leaving NASA stuck with a vehicle that was no longer optimized for what NASA wanted to do with it.

Re:The shuttle's failings were largely (1)

sysrammer (446839) | about 2 months ago | (#47207357)

I largely agree with you. A caveat, though, is the fact that shuttle *needed* USAF funding to get off the ground. Whether or not it was a good thing that it got off the ground is a topic for another thread.

Re:Get rid of NASA (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about 2 months ago | (#47206471)

I hate to say it, but the space program was going along great while under the Airforce. As soon as NASA got involved in the late 50's we had a mess.

Uh, what great successes did AF have before the "late 50's"? Launching captured existing German rockets?
   

Re:Get rid of NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206703)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_X-20_Dyna-Soar
They were 20 years ahead of NASA before they got the funding axe because the US needed only one space program.

Re:Get rid of NASA (2)

thrich81 (1357561) | about 2 months ago | (#47206775)

The USAF did develop the Atlas ICBM (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SM-65_Atlas) in the late 50's which had little to do with the Germans. The Germans were over in Huntsville working for the Army where they developed the Redstone IRBM and its successors, which included the Saturn line of boosters. But in the meantime the USAF developed the Titan line of boosters independently of the German/NASA/Huntsville team.
In the early space program the Huntsville team had the first visible successes with their derivative of the Redstone launching the first US satellite and the first US astronaut. However the first US manned orbital mission was launched aboard an Atlas and the two-man Gemini missions after that were launched aboard Titans, though all the manned programs were funded and managed through NASA. Of course it was Saturns which launched all the Apollo missions.
The OP's contention that NASA messed up the space program is an ignorant crock, though. On the other hand, the USAF certainly screwed up the Space Shuttle with their requirements for the vehicle.

Re:Get rid of NASA (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 2 months ago | (#47206851)

I generally meant space missions. Perhaps they made great rockets, but there is more to space exploration than rockets. Military projects usually get deeper pockets than civilian projects, I would note. Civilian programs tend to get more scrutiny, in part because the military understandably has to keep most things secret, and second because Republicans are more critical of civilian projects than military ones for some reason.

Re:Get rid of NASA (1)

thrich81 (1357561) | about 2 months ago | (#47206961)

Ah, you're right. USAF didn't do squat for space exploration as we usually define it. Their boosters were great enablers though. I guess I jumped on your, "captured existing German rockets" statement which doesn't credit the enormous amount of rocket development done in the 40's and 50's independent of the Germans. I read a fascinating recent bio of von Braun, however, which concludes that the V-2 probably pushed rocket development ahead by10 years over the natural progress of technology in the mid-20th century. A lot of interacting factors led to the rapid development of the 40's, 50's, and 60's though.

Re:Get rid of NASA (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 2 months ago | (#47207311)

The US launched a captured V-2 into space (but not orbit) in 1946 with a camera. Perhaps there were USAF-built rocket space missions after these V-2 experiments, but I am not aware of any until the "Sputnik scare" pushed military rockets into space use for a brief time until NASA took that over.

Re:Get rid of NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206785)

Eh, don't worry about it, I think Charlie's Haloperidol IV got disconnected somehow. You gotta dose Space Nutters very hard otherwise the hallucinations come back real quick.

Re:Get rid of NASA (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 months ago | (#47207167)

The X-37? It has been launched into orbit by Lockheed Martin Atlas V rockets that use Russian RD-180 engines.

This effort has really NOTHING to do with Russia. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206059)

Our position on the space station is only remotely related to our temp work around of riding up with them to get there.
They can't "run it" with out our cooperation.

Its much more complicated that it seems to the laymen.

The life span of the station has not been impacted in anyway I have heard about.

Re:This effort has really NOTHING to do with Russi (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 months ago | (#47207249)

AFAIK the US controls most of the electrical power supply panels and the Russians do orbital reboosts and have most of the toilets. So it cannot run 100% without both.

Getting the most out of Slashdot classic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206121)

Slashdot Beta will be the death of this site. Trade email addresses with your favorite geeks now before Slashdot burns to a cinder on re-entry.
 
Boycott Dice!
Boycott ThinkGeek!
Boycott Beta!!!

Somebody should tell NASA (1)

dkman (863999) | about 2 months ago | (#47206133)

Fruit flies don't live for "months". It's 8 weeks in case you were interested.

Nematodes last about 2 months, so that one's ok.

Re:Somebody should tell NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206173)

2 months is approximately 8 weeks. Not sure why a life span of "2 months" means "months" is accurate, but a life span of 8 weeks (2 months) is not "months".

Either way, it's the life span of the *population* that matters for the experiments duration, not the *individuals*, so "months" works just fine, even for values larger than 2.

Re:Somebody should tell NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206657)

8 weeks is 56 days.
There are no two consecutive months that have a combined total of 56 or less.
So at best they live for a month and a bit, or close to two months.

Re:Somebody should tell NASA (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 months ago | (#47206771)

Fruit flies don't live for "months".

Normal Earth fruit flies, yes. But on the Space Station, their Space Station fruit flies apparently live much longer. It looks like they have slipped up, and lets us know what they are *really* experimenting on up there. Obviously, a secret space station longevity serum.

Because they are doing the experimenting up in the Space Station, it probably means that there are still some bothersome side effects, like turning folks into zombies and stuff like that.

The most? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206183)

The most? Get everyone out of the space station before it's too late!

Getting the most out of the Space Station - easy (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 months ago | (#47206195)

Easy. Just open all the doors. That'll get just about everything that isn't tied down out.

Time to consider another Skylab? (1)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | about 2 months ago | (#47206257)

Remember Skylab? [wikipedia.org] It was America's first space station, and lasted 1973-1979 (before it burned up on re-entry). We got a lot of good science out of that station, and maybe it's time we do it again.

Re:Time to consider another Skylab? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206359)

maybe this time they can hit the target so I can get my damn taco...
http://freebies.about.com/cs/foodfreebies/l/bltacobell.htm

Getting the "most"? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47206393)

Most what? Earthworm and fruit fly "science" flown by high school students?

Or most pork/state?

The space program is a high tech welfare program for engineers.

Deal with it.

ACME ACYOU (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about 2 months ago | (#47206815)

and Russia whose deputy prime minister recently suggested that U.S. astronauts use a trampoline if they want to get into orbit. Aiding in the push for more research is the development of two-way cargo ships by SpaceX...

What about aiding the push for better trampolines?

Purity Of Engagement (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 months ago | (#47207135)

"Well, cancelling our programs to save billions better-spent, votewise, on social programs, and paying Rooskies to ferry us up there to build goodwill and keep their scientists and engineers employed in non-terrorist jobs seemed like a good idea at the time."

better start now (2)

k6mfw (1182893) | about 2 months ago | (#47207147)

before we have a trampoline gap!

But seriously we can find ourselves in a situation with no space station. Like there is no Shuttle, Orion is decades away, we are depended on Musk to make Dragon2 work. After Apollo there was concern at the time if US would have a manned space program in early 1970s when still debating Shuttle, and it could have been no Shuttle meaning Apollo-Soyuz in 1975 could have been the last time US put people in space. Hear Dale Myers talk about this per MIT OC course in 2005, https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

Everyone is spending a lot of time arguing budgets. That's a big chunk of hardware in orbit, c'mon you guys it may not be ideal but it's something.

Pushing the envelope (1)

amightywind (691887) | about 2 months ago | (#47207163)

A rodent lab. Now that's pushing the envelope of space technology. Is this really the space program you want? Marooned on a space station with an enemy (Russian or Chinese)? Watching with awe while a crony capitalist (Elon Musk) rediscovers the technologies of the 60's and calls them his own?

Re:Pushing the envelope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47207195)

What other technologies are there in the physical world? The Boeing 747 first flew in 1969 and it still looks and acts the same today.

The only technologies that progressed a lot are about information processing. The rest? Just coasting.

Space is done and finished and over.

Centrifugal gravity (4, Informative)

werepants (1912634) | about 2 months ago | (#47207241)

The most useful and relevant modules would have been those that can provide artificial gravity - everybody is banking on this for enabling long term space habitation but we have just about zero on-orbit experimental data. If they only do one more thing with the ISS, that would be it. Japan even built a module for this, but it didn't get deployed so it is now just a museum piece.

For your reading enjoyment:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N... [wikipedia.org]
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