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A Look At NASA's Orion Project

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the bruce-willis-approved dept.

Space 108

An anonymous reader writes "People in north Iowa got a first-hand look at NASA's Orion Project. Contractors with NASA were in Forest City to talk about the new project and show off a model of the new spaceship. NASA has big plans to send humans to an asteroid by 2025. The mission, however, will not be possible without several important components that include yet-to-be-developed technologies, as well as the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion spacecraft to fly astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit. In fact, Orion's first flight test later this year will provide NASA with vital data that will be used to design future missions."

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Speaking of the future... (0, Flamebait)

djupedal (584558) | about 4 months ago | (#47497091)

About those 'future missions'. They will be conducted by firms in the private sector, so why do we even need NASA, other than a place for research money to go to die.

Re:Speaking of the future... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47497129)

since the work is STILL being done by private contractors, the only thing NASA really brings to the table is an insane procurement policy that gives priority for no reason to "minority, women owned, small business" and ball-point pens made by blind people for 5 times the cost of normal pens. Oh.. and muslim outreach.

considering NASA will be buying domestic rockets from private contractors instead of Russian rockets from private contractors.... I gues this is a... win? For unionized fat fucks making 50 bucks an hour and getting paid for 40 years because of 20 years worth of work.

You forgot something. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47497357)

Congressional pork for their respectve states.

Thanks for your BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47497679)

Ah, so very nice of you to troll both anti-affirmative-action and anti-union.

Were you born wealthy and privileged, or did you somehow fail to realize as you bootstrapped yourself that you'd have been working 16-hour days at the age of 10 if not for unions and the labor movement?

Re:Thanks for your BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47497755)

yea but what have they done in the last 100 years other than legalized racketeering

Re:Thanks for your BS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47497783)

Increased productivity eliminated child labor and shortened the work day.... unions had nothing to do with it.

Re: Thanks for your BS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47498041)

Child labor is needed! Who's going to make sneakers?

Re:Thanks for your BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47500671)

Unions have had and may still have a part in protecting workers rights but don't fool yourself. They didn't eliminate child labor, they only moved it off shore.

Re:Thanks for your BS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47497833)

Ah, so very nice of you to troll both anti-affirmative-action and anti-union.

Were you born wealthy and privileged, or did you somehow fail to realize as you bootstrapped yourself that you'd have been working 16-hour days at the age of 10 if not for unions and the labor movement?

you sound like a nigger lover

Re:Thanks for your BS (2)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#47499869)

100 years ago you would be correct.

Federal regulations would not allow that to happen even without the unions today

I thank the unions for what they did, I loathe the unions for what they currently do. For example the UAW was told to beat it by a factory in the south. Now dont forget the union came in talking about how it respects the worker, and the workers choices...

well when the workers tell the union to pound sand, they keep pushing for unionization.... Now if the unions actually cared about the worker, they would stand by the workers vote to keep them out, not keep trying to get in (so they can get their cut of course) but no, thats not what the UAW does, the UAW is directly responsible for the collapse of the american auto industry.

Re:Thanks for your BS (2)

Stan92057 (737634) | about 4 months ago | (#47500747)

To place all the blame on the union is really a false statement. Corporate America outsourced jobs to make MORE money they do not care 1 ounce for workers as they are just numbers. Or replacing jobs with robots who don't pay tax's don't buy cars don't do anything but make stockholders money we shouldn't blame CEO for raping corporations they never had I ounce of sweat in building. American cars were the best cars in the world up until the day Corporations started buying already made car parts from Communist country's Like China who doesn't give a fuck about Americans period. Are there bad union officials hell ya and there assess should be in jail but they are not the reason for the collapse of our auto industry.1 one people to blame are our elected officials for allowing cooperate America to outsource our tax paying jobs to slave labor communist country's like China.

An industry that doesn't have the protection laws our UNIONS lost real life's to get. They live in filthy because there government doesn't force company's to provide safe and clean working areas. Something our Unions and Unions workers had fought for to get . Nope lets blame the Unions, that the easy scapegoat to blame. Takes the blame where it really belongs and that is corrupt government officials and greedy corporate America who will sell out an American worker in a heart beat. That is IMO based on everything I've lived through the last 56 years

Re:Speaking of the future... (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 months ago | (#47498587)

Funny. I don't recall seeing any Boeing pens last time I was there. I did see a number of pretty attractive female engineers and pilots.

Maybe Lockheed makes the pens.

Re:Speaking of the future... (2, Insightful)

Xac (841406) | about 4 months ago | (#47497143)

You know this how? Science fiction?

Re:Speaking of the future... (5, Insightful)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 4 months ago | (#47497955)

NASA, other than a place for research money to go to die.

NASA still produces excellent research. PICA heat shield and the FasTrac experimental rocket which SpaceX developed into PICA-X and Merlin 1. HL-20, which became Dreamchaser. Transhab, became Bigelow. And so on.

It's on the operations side that they suck. Shuttle. ISS. Constellation/Area. SLS. Orion.

NASA would be an amazing place if you could divert the $3b from SLS/Orion and the $3b from ISS into aerospace research and competitive programs like COTS/Commercial Crew.

Re:Speaking of the future... (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#47500221)

Better still if you could divert the 3b to planetary science such as the Europa mission... The problem is that NASA is run by ex-pilots and ex-astronauts and they need to keep the manned spaceflight pork train running and to hell with real science.

Re:Speaking of the future... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47500335)

but Congressional Jobs!

if NASA payed for missions that they require, and offered it for different things (we need a man to tend for this garden of plants for bio research), It would give private space stations a reason to exist, and 3 billion a year could build a really awesome station. This, coupled with the ISS's future up to debate because of Russian behavior, could be for the best.

6 Bieglow modules, with full solar arrays, a full crew to run it, experiments and astronomical gear to give it a purpose, ground support, and transport and resupply 4 times a year would still be cheaper then even the American part in a year, and that gets you a whole new station to boot. it would also be in an orbit useful for inorbit refueling, and cislunar/interplanetary missions. If the Russians want in, they can pay the standard commercial rate. same for the Chinese.

no special treatment, no diplomatic negotiation, and no political wrangling. just science.

Re:Speaking of the future... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47500799)

NASA would be an amazing place if you could divert the $3b from SLS/Orion and the $3b from ISS into aerospace research and competitive programs like COTS/Commercial Crew.

And your thinking is exactly why NASA's research is dying. A bunch of idiots competing over scraps. "Cancel X so they can fund my pet project instead!".

At least the EU has their science funding much better structured than the US. Slightly less politics in the process is always a good thing.

How about lobbying for increased funding to NASA for the things it needs, not bullshitting on one project and pretending it will suddenly make your pet project fundable?

PS. Your idea sucks anyway. ISS funding *is* funding your COTS/Commerical Crew anyway. SpaceX doesn't need more funding - it needs to keep building things now and gain experience.

Re:Speaking of the future... (0)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 months ago | (#47498347)

Apollo was built largely by private contractors also.

Re:Speaking of the future... (0)

davester666 (731373) | about 4 months ago | (#47498605)

we need nasa to do all the development work using gov't funds, so once everything works, big corporations can swoop in and use the technology relatively cheaply to go to these asteroids and "own" them [as countries cannot do so].

Re:Speaking of the future... (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#47501685)

We need NASA (JPL specifically) for its highly-successful unmanned probes such as the Mars rovers, the Cassini Saturn orbiter, Voyager, etc. We do NOT need a manned spaceflight program; it is an almost total waste of money

Old dreams (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47497115)

I can't help but feel naming the module Orion was a throwback to the system they wish they had built:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Orion_(nuclear_propulsion)

Old dreams (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47497169)

I'm glad they didn't build a ship that propels itself by exploding hydrogen bombs out it's ass.

Re:Old dreams (4, Funny)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 4 months ago | (#47497221)

Well, if it tries to explode them out its nose, it doesn't go in the right direction.

Re:Old dreams (2)

Cryacin (657549) | about 4 months ago | (#47497589)

Be one hell of a sneeze.

Re:Old dreams (1)

lq_x_pl (822011) | about 4 months ago | (#47497451)

No joke. When I first saw the headline I thought they had resurrected the atom-bomb-propulsion idea.

Re:Old dreams (1)

Rei (128717) | about 4 months ago | (#47502111)

Of course, the old Orion design has been significantly surpassed by a number of newer designs. Medusa, for example, is much better than Orion - the bombs explode in front of the craft behind a gigantic "parachute", which captures far more of the energy and the long cords on the parachute allow for a much longer, smoother acceleration pulse. The bombs are also able to be detonated much further from the craft, and the craft may be made a lot smaller.

Nuclear thermal - the first version that was being developed called Nerva - allows for "clean" (to varying degrees) fission propulsion from the surface. Or if what you want is high ISP in space, then a fission fragment rocket goes much higher than an Orion or Medusa design (and scales down a lot better)

Re:Old dreams (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#47499877)

that is exactly one of the reasons i remember reading when it was first announced.

Re:Old dreams (1)

macson_g (1551397) | about 4 months ago | (#47500253)

I too regret that such a cool name is wasted for slightly enlarged Apollo CM, which looks outdated even in comparison to SpaceX's Dragon.

One small step..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47497137)

Until the next administration replaces the asteroid mission with something else or congress cuts the NASA budget.

One small step..... (1)

jordanjay29 (1298951) | about 4 months ago | (#47497817)

Unfortunately, I fear that's a distinct possibility.

give nasa, pentagons budget (0)

cheekyboy (598084) | about 4 months ago | (#47497869)

Pentagon has wasted 2-3 trillion dollars, tell em give it back or get zero. And give nasa a 500b/year budget.

So depressing. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47497151)

These timelines are fucking pathetic.

Look at your military expenses. Fuck.

Re:So depressing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47497185)

Alternatively, look at Ukraine. Or Israel. Or North Korea. Or any one of a number of places in Africa. Then call me back if you find the pink unicorns you seem to think exist in the world today.

Re:So depressing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47497773)

Alternatively, look at Ukraine. Or Israel. Or North Korea. Or any one of a number of places in Africa. Then call me back if you find the pink unicorns you seem to think exist in the world today.

You seem to think that the US should be poking their nose into ever fucking thing on the planet...

USA World Police mentality at its best..

Re:So depressing. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47498461)

I'll preface this by saying I'm a libertarian and we tend to prefer the US government staying within its constitutional bounds. That means none of this post-WWII world police shit.

That said, most of these other countries where we have bases have "outsourced" their defense to us. When the US is mocked for the insanely high levels of spending on military vs these other countries, don't forget to adjust for the fact that countries allied with us have an artificially low defense budget. Take, for example, the UK. They couldn't even manage to mount an air campaign against Libya without US logistical support. That campaign was against an opponent who couldn't even fight back against their air strikes. There are plethora examples of this if you research it.

US government foreign policy prefers it this way, because then these other countries are beholden to us if they want to act militarily. It's hegemony.

I would prefer if we stopped subsidizing the world's defense, returned to operating within our constitutional framework (no standing army, motherfuckers!), and left the rest of the world to sort out their own problems. No one is going to fuck with us; I strongly support retaining our nuclear deterrent.

Re:So depressing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47499051)

Unfortunately I agree with this. And I'm not American. I always wonder what would happen to the world if US would go isolationist like North-korea...
I think we are still better of with US being a world police... and until there are freedom fighters like Snowden who can keep check on the US power, the world is a better place.

Re:So depressing. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47500879)

Complete isolation is a bit harsh, a healthy dash of non-interventionism would be more than enough. Our current problem is that our government likes to meddle. They generally do it with (at least on the surface) fairly reasonable intentions, but it as become abundantly apparent that we're terrible at "helping" others militarily. When you go into a country to "save" a few hundred/thousand people and end up causing (directly/indirectly) tens/hundreds of thousands of deaths and still claim "mission accomplished" you've got a major problem.

Re:So depressing. (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 4 months ago | (#47500233)

I get what you're saying, but in the time when the Constitution was written, a standing army wasn't necessary because you had a good month of lead time before someone else's army could get here to do something untoward.

The technology of flight changes that. There should be a smaller standing army specifically for defense of the nation restricted to North America, and then a reserve contingent that can only be activated by Congress (emergency resolution, war declaration, etc.).

All the hundreds of bases on foreign soil should be liquidated, and the foreign countries that get those back should start footing the bill for their own defense. Then we'll see how much they want to cry about American expansionist policies and so on.

Re:So depressing. (2)

the gnat (153162) | about 4 months ago | (#47500583)

All the hundreds of bases on foreign soil should be liquidated, and the foreign countries that get those back should start footing the bill for their own defense. Then we'll see how much they want to cry about American expansionist policies and so on.

In fairness, it's generally not the South Koreans (to pick one obvious example) complaining about American expansionism.

Re:So depressing. (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about 4 months ago | (#47501711)

US government foreign policy prefers it this way, because then these other countries are beholden to us if they want to act militarily. It's hegemony.

Plus, military weaponry is just about the only US export still bringing in money. Civil wars or border disputes crop up, and the US companies get to sell to both sides. Of course, I'm sure State Department advisers would NEVER do anything to encourage those conflicts...

Re:So depressing. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47497327)

space has been up (or down, or over) there for... ever. and to be honest, going up there isn't something we HAD to do for any real reason.

don't get me wrong, space exploration has given us all kinds of things, technologies, sciences, pushing the boudries... communications, materials... blah blah blah, yeah, it's totally aweome! i get it. I'm all for pushing NASA all the way...

but to be honest, you NEED a military. You LIKE a NASA. Wars happen, and they aren't all created by some bullshit shadow uberfamilies of elite blah blah bullshit. When you need a military, it's sort of like a parachute... nothing else will do. When you need a military, you can't really WAIT for it to be created ex nihilo. The other guy doesn't wait.

Space, on the other hand... has always been up (etc) there, and you can go explore it on your own timeline.

You wanna pare down the military? Start with all the shit in the military that has nothing to do with warfighting. You'll find some pretty good money that can be used for space there.

Re:So depressing. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47497433)

I'm going to assume you are from the US. So why does the US NEED such a large military? At first glance it only seems to be used for blowing people up in countries that were never a military threat.

Re:So depressing. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47497845)

The main purpose is to let other countries know that if they mess with us they'll get blown up. Of course that strategy doesn't work so well when religious fanatics who think there is a heaven blow themselves up.

Re:So depressing. (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 4 months ago | (#47500245)

We don't need it. However, all our allies need it, and we choose to keep footing the bill and helping them out.

Note: I do not agree with this policy, but that's what's going on.

That's not an Orion... (5, Informative)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 4 months ago | (#47497161)

... this is an Orion. [princeton.edu]

Get back to us when you can take a crew of 200 to Mars and back. In a month.

Re:That's not an Orion... (0)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 4 months ago | (#47497549)

+1, Footfall reference

Build it over some brown country, light the fuse, and we're off to the stars.

Re:That's not an Orion... (3, Interesting)

gijoel (628142) | about 4 months ago | (#47497763)

An awesomely hilarious demonstration of said Orion pulse drive [youtube.com]

Re:That's not an Orion... (1, Insightful)

aberglas (991072) | about 4 months ago | (#47497815)

-1. What, exactly, would that achieve? Better to send some better robots to Mars that can actually dig some decent holes and look for life. Humans are obsolete technology for space exploration.

Re:That's not an Orion... (1, Insightful)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about 4 months ago | (#47497885)

Mod parent +1 awesome.

I'm particularly amused that people seriously considered nuclear bomb pulse propulsion for EARTH TAKEOFF. And to think modern wimps complain about airport noise.....

A noble effort by NASA, but (4, Insightful)

Beck_Neard (3612467) | about 4 months ago | (#47497205)

It's currently being done in a way that makes in inseparable from the SLS rocket, an out-dated and over-budget project enabled by government inertia and congressional pork. Also, the Orion MPCV itself doesn't represent much of an upgrade over existing manned space capsules; if it's to go anywhere outside of Earth orbit it's going to need a much larger and more complex space habitat attachment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D... [wikipedia.org] which has yet to be developed.

Re:A noble effort by NASA, but (2)

CanadianMacFan (1900244) | about 4 months ago | (#47497381)

Well of course it's got to be tied to a project enabled by government inertia and congressional pork. The only way politicians will let the money be spent is when there's tons of jobs spread out over many districts. And of course you know that in two years after the next set of elections the dynamics between the Congress, Senate, and the new President will have changed which will mean a completely new mission for NASA. Which in turn will mean everything that they have been working on will have to be scrapped and they will begin from point zero on their new priorities.

Reconfigurable like Space Lego's (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 months ago | (#47498375)

What we really need is something like a space Lego set that can be reconfigured for multiple kinds of missions. But, maybe that's not entirely realistic. As software people know, making something generic is not without trade-offs and usually extra complexity.

NASA has become small indeed... (5, Insightful)

xmark (177899) | about 4 months ago | (#47497247)

It took 8 years from Kennedy's speech in 1961 to a human on the moon in 1969. Not only did NASA get a moon rocket designed, tested, and launched in that time, it also got an intermediate rocket program (Gemini) designed, tested, and launched prior to the moon program.

From scratch.

Now we're looking at (maybe) 11 years to develop a working rocket to go to an asteroid. Oh boy, journey to an, umm, space rock. Really stirs the heart, doesn't it? And this after willingly withdrawing from manned spaceflight capacity altogether for at least six years, and counting. Yep, just folding the cards and walking away from the table.

Sure, go ahead and tell me how technically challenging the space rock odyssey will be. But the call of space comes from the same place the call of the sea arose from in the past. To Terra Incognita, where "Here Be Dragons." Sorry, there be no dragons around the space rock.

The technical wizardry missions could and should be handled by robots. Humans should be reserved for missions which stir the soul, or the people who pay for such things (you and me) will stop paying.

It's hard to think of a better demonstration of how the US used to get things done, and how it does things now, than to compare the space program we had 50 years ago to the current version.

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood, and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Re:NASA has become small indeed... (5, Insightful)

danheskett (178529) | about 4 months ago | (#47497361)

From scratch is a term of art. Not a real description. We had been sending stuff into space before Kennedy's speech. We had been working on rocket and control systems for a bit. NASA didn't fall from the sky into existence, but was the culmination of a long-effort.

I am perfectly content at this point to just stop it all. If private individuals want to fund a non-profit organization to do the work of NASA go for it. I am all for a few regulatory changes to let it happen within a few broad parameters.

The challenges are different now, and I think well more than twice as a complex.

BUT you have a point about America:

"We used to make stuff in this country. Now everyone's just got their hand in the next guy's pocket." -- Frank, Season 4, The Wire.

Even the government can't get out of the government's way anymore. There is nothing happening that's not part of a graft racket.

Re:NASA has become small indeed... (2, Insightful)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 4 months ago | (#47497391)

From SCRATCH?!??!?!

You mean besides the technological base from WWII and the 1950s Cold War ICBMs, sure, "from scratch"...

Commence eye roll sequence, eye roll sequence initiated.

Hold for half an hour.

"From scratch"... They weren't baking a cake.

Re:NASA has become small indeed... (4, Interesting)

xmark (177899) | about 4 months ago | (#47497799)

I will join you in the eye roll, but directed to your post.

I assumed anyone reading my OP would understand I was talking about a specific engineering and exploration *project* rolled up from scratch (which is a colloquial term, with the literary license customary for such usage). Take the logic of your post far enough, and I would have to credit Australopithecus for the discovery of fire.

We all, to paraphrase Newton, stand on the shoulders of giants. So too did the engineers at NASA. This should not require further explanation.

Meanwhile, judging by the serial explosive failures of the 50s rocket tech you mentioned, and the weak tea served up by Mercury vs. the superior Russian tech, Apollo did not have the kind of technological base you've implied, anyway.

If you read a good history of the Apollo effort, you'll find that the engineers *desperately* wanted a clean sheet approach. And they got it. Along with a government that cut red tape and cleared the way for them to do what they were there to do.

Those days are gone.

Re:NASA has become small indeed... (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 4 months ago | (#47497929)

A "clean sheet" from what? All the stuff that happened before.

Hardly "from scratch".

Still joining me in the eye roll?

Re:NASA has become small indeed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47498593)

Tony Stark built this in a cave! With a box of scraps!

Re:NASA has become small indeed... (3, Interesting)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 4 months ago | (#47500273)

When Kennedy gave that speech, we had all of 15 minutes of manned spaceflight experience from putting a single manned capsule on what was essentially a V-2 rocket imported from Germany. Alan Shepard could have held his breath through most of that flight.

So yeah, the later Mercury flights, the Gemini flights, and the Apollo program were essentially from scratch.

Re:NASA has become small indeed... (3, Insightful)

CanadianMacFan (1900244) | about 4 months ago | (#47497431)

But in the 1960's NASA was involved in a massive dick waving contest which made them take risks that management today would be scared of even contemplating yet alone taking. If there was the money available we could easily go to Mars within a decade. It would be risky but there would be people willing to take those risks.

Re:NASA has become small indeed... (1)

itzly (3699663) | about 4 months ago | (#47499419)

Mars will still be there in a 100 years. There's no rush.

Re:NASA has become small indeed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47499713)

But you or me won't be here.

Re:NASA has become small indeed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47501579)

The planet will probably still be there, but will our knowledge of how to get there? We don't like to admit it but history has shown us that very basic knowledge can be lost with disastrous consequences. Greek Fire, The Antikythera Mechanism, indoor plumbing, were all invented long ago, but due to war, economic failure, persecution, & lack of interest those knowledge-sets were lost for hundreds or thousands of years to the detriment of our civilization. The Antikythera mechanism was an analog astronautical computer invented over two thousand years ago, Its basic functions weren't recreated until almost 1500 years later. Indoor plumbing was used extensively by the Roman Empire, after their collapse it fell out of use resulting in wave after wave of disease. Even more recent related endeavors, The Apollo program for example, once they fell out of use the knowledge of how to build such systems was lost. Even if we wanted to build a Saturn 5 rocket today we couldn't, we would have to re-research and redevelop the systems, components, and manufacturing capabilities.

Re:NASA has become small indeed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47500303)

You're not kidding. Apollo 8 happened because NASA was afraid that the USSR was going to return a robotic probe from the moon with surface samples, so they needed to do something to capture the public imagination.

So they sent 3 guys to the moon to orbit it 10 times, take some sweet pictures, and survey future landing sites. At Christmas in 1968. And we got one of the most iconic photos ever taken in the history of humankind.

Re:NASA has become small indeed... (4, Insightful)

Beck_Neard (3612467) | about 4 months ago | (#47497469)

> Now we're looking at (maybe) 11 years to develop a working rocket to go to an asteroid.

It's worse than that. There will be no deep-space journey to an asteroid. Instead, a near-Earth asteroid would be selected or a small asteroid will be moved to near-Earth orbit using unmanned robotic craft. The 'manned asteroid mission' will not go any further than the Apollo missions did. And it would not do anything other than just take some samples and bring them back to Earth. Little in-situ science, and definitely no in-situ resource extraction. It really raises the question of why we're sending up humans in the first place.

There _may_ be deep-space (i.e. anything outside of Earth orbit) missions in the 'future', but they would need big and complex manned spacecraft that have yet to emerge from the drawing board.

We're not going outside of Earth orbit any time soon, not if we're to rely on NASA.

Re: NASA has become small indeed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47497793)

If we wait long enough, maybe Earth will capture a nice, big asteroid for us, so we don't have to go find one.

Re:NASA has become small indeed... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47497621)

Sure, go ahead and tell me how technically challenging the space rock odyssey will be.

It's actually not technically challenging at all, we've had the technology for at least a decade, if not longer. Instead it's politically challenging. NASA keeps getting its budget slashed so the NSA can build more data storage facilities in which to store their illicit espionage. Congressmen keep infighting over each space buck in order to make sure his state gets the most pork, even to the detriment of the project's goals.

Face it, space exploration is expensive. Back in the 60's it was a matter of National pride so damn the cost, full speed ahead. Today it is a matter of figuring out how to get OTHER people to pay for it while still reaping the benefits.

Re:NASA has become small indeed... (1)

BZ (40346) | about 4 months ago | (#47498057)

It's a matter of funding.

Looking at the chart at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F... [wikipedia.org] and in particular the inflation-adjusted line there tells you pretty much what the story was: at the peak of the Apollo program NASA's budget was about $40 billion/year in today's dollars (the red line in that graph is in 1996 dollars). NASA's budget today is less than $18 billion/year.

Or to put it in relative-to-the-economy terms, in 1966 NASA was 4% of Federal budget expenditures. 4% of the 2013 US expenditures (actual, not requested) would be $138 billion, according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2... [wikipedia.org]

I bet if you funded NASA at that level (even just the inflation-adjusted one; I understand that the overall budget structure is quite different now from what it was in 1966, so the $138 billion number is pretty much meaningless), I bet it could produce results a lot quicker than it can at current funding levels...

Re:NASA has become small indeed... (4, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 4 months ago | (#47498345)

It took 8 years from Kennedy's speech in 1961 to a human on the moon in 1969. Not only did NASA get a moon rocket designed, tested, and launched in that time, it also got an intermediate rocket program (Gemini) designed, tested, and launched prior to the moon program.

From scratch.

Other than the part about Gemini... you're completely wrong. Development of the F1 engine started in 1956. The J-2 got started in 1959. Engineering studies and development of what would become the Apollo spacecraft and the Saturn V booster were well underway by 1960. There was also a ton of other R&D projects and nascent technologies from NASA and DoD programs then under way. (Apollo relied on chips developed for the DoD and a guidance system borrowed from a SLBM.) That's part of why Kennedy chose the moon landing as a goal over his other options we already had many of the pieces under development.
 
And you can't discount another critical factor - during the crucial startup period Apollo had a massive budget.
 

Now we're looking at (maybe) 11 years to develop a working rocket to go to an asteroid.

Space programs are like women, when you compare a fantasy (your massively romanticized and largely factually incorrect version of Apollo) to reality... it's unsurprising that reality doesn't measure up.
 

But the call of space comes from the same place the call of the sea arose from in the past. To Terra Incognita, where "Here Be Dragons." Sorry, there be no dragons around the space rock.

Nope. The call of the sea was "here there be PROFIT".

Re:NASA has become small indeed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47500209)

Oh you and your hard-nosed reality. That doesn't belong in a space thread! We want romantic space posters and fantasies!

Real history is more interesting than the fiction (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47498767)

that somebody apparently taught you.

Werner Von Braun's team of Germans were working for the US Army Ballistic Missile Development organaization in the 1950s where they used their WWII experience with the V2 in conjunction to the experience of their new American colleagues to develop the Redstone and Juno rockets. While Eisenhower was still president in 1958, they began the development of a giant experimental rocket called the "Juno V". The first stage comprised of a Juno rocket body (used as a fuel tank) with 8 redstone bodies clustered around it (half of them used to hold fuel, the others used as oxidizer tanks) with a cluster of Redstone H-1 engines at the bottom. This project was well underway as was construction of launch facilities in Florida (NOT complex 39 yet, rather LC34 and LC37 further south), plans for a liquid hyrdogen-fuelled upperstage, and studies on civilian uses of this rocket (including for possible moon missions) before John F Kennedy even started running for President and before Eisenhower joined with then-Senator Johnson to create NASA.

When NASA was created from NACA in response to Sputnik, the Von Braun team and their projects, including the Juno V, were transferred to NASA and this rocket was renamed to "Saturn I". John F Kennedy won the 1960 election and was sworn-in in January of 1961. He gave his moon speech to congress in May 1961 (and his famous space speech at Rice University in 1962). The first Saturn I flew from Cape Canaveral in October of 1961 (only 5 months after telling congress he wanted to go to the moon). My point is not to take anything away from Kennedy (he had the singular vision to challenge the nation to aim for the goal, and the managerial wisdom to put the right people in place to get the job done) but rather to say that it actually took more than 8 years to get to the moon... it was actually about 11 years from the time the first work started on the Saturn rockets to the time Neil Armstrong planted his boot.

 

Incidentally, it has now been a decade since the Columbia broke-up on reentry and the Bush Administration set in motion plans to replace the shuttle with Orion sitting atop an expendable rocket for missions to the Moon and Mars, so it's fair to be upset by the sluggish progress on this retro-future path back to the 1960s

Re:NASA has become small indeed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47499327)

The technical wizardry missions could and should be handled by robots. Humans should be reserved for missions which stir the soul, or the people who pay for such things (you and me) will stop paying.

"Stop paying"?? Uh this is government we're talking about. They just decide you owe them the money. If you attempt to avoid paying it, they just take it from you by force. They call this "taxation". There is no "stop paying" really. The illusion that there ever was occurs because NASA is run by politicians, not engineers.

Re:NASA has become small indeed... (1)

daid303 (843777) | about 4 months ago | (#47499689)

Go play KerbalSpaceProgram.

It's much easier to land on a moon then to get to an asteroid. Moons are quite large, have their own (significant amount) of gravity. Asteroids are small, have eccentric orbits.

Re:NASA has become small indeed... (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 4 months ago | (#47500379)

Rendezvous with an asteroid is about the same as rendezvous with another small orbital body, like a space station. You match your orbital plane, and then you plot a point of intersection between your orbit and the target. You match velocity and orbit with a maneuver when you get close. You then get nice and close, and do what you're gonna do (take pictures, grab on, etc.).

As with all things, the devil is in the details. But we've gotten really good at rendezvous - we've been doing it in orbit since the 1960s in Gemini, we've done it in lunar orbit. There's no reason to say that rendezvous with a giant lump of rock would be any different - it's just crunching the math on how much delta-V is necessary, and then building hardware to get it done.

They're going to miss the target date (2)

confused one (671304) | about 4 months ago | (#47497457)

OMB reviews, independent budget reviews and internal NASA reviews all say that at the current funding rate, the system will not be ready for such a mission for a decade beyond 2025.

Orion is NOT carrying astronauts to Mars (4, Interesting)

ErnoWindt (301103) | about 4 months ago | (#47497683)

There is absolutely zero possibility that astronauts are going to be travelling to Mars in Orion which is basically Apollo + 1 extra seat. NASA has been misleading the general public about this for years. Oh yeah, astronauts are going to stay strapped to their seats for 18 months...in a capsule with almost no room to move. Major components of the project - including room to live and move around, along with mild gravity provided by a centrifuge - haven't been even designed yet, let alone price spec'd. No one has any idea how they will work or how they will protect astronauts from radiation from the Sun. I'm betting it's 2100 before we ever get to Mars, at least under NASA.

Re:Orion is NOT carrying astronauts to Mars (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 months ago | (#47498355)

NASA has been misleading the general public about this for years.

Can you provide evidence for that? I've only heard it referred to as a "stepping stone" or the like for bigger missions.

Re:Orion is NOT carrying astronauts to Mars (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 4 months ago | (#47500387)

Because there's absolutely no way for Orion to dock with something else that has yet to be developed, launched separately, meant to support a longer mission.

Right?

The one good feature of ARM (4, Interesting)

gman003 (1693318) | about 4 months ago | (#47497695)

NASA's vaunted "Asteroid Redirect Mission" is now widely regarded as crap. It doesn't give us any new knowledge, it's not a good intermediate step for human colonization of space, and it's been mismanaged so badly that you could tell me it had been infiltrated by Russians intent on destroying America, and I wouldn't much doubt it.

But it does have one saving grace: it's our best shot if we ever find an asteroid headed for Earth impact.

I found this out sort of by accident - I was playing Kerbal Space Program, which has a NASA-sponsored module for doing asteroid redirects. I had a ship designed for that in orbit, and was looking for a good target.

I found one. On a direct intercept course. About a week out.

To make things worse, it was at like 80 degrees inclination. To cut a very long story short, I managed to redirect it to aerobrake, then stabilized the orbit so it wouldn't eventually deorbit.

Now, I fully realize that was a game, and that rocket science is actually a lot more complex than strapping a shitload of boosters to everything (my standard design). But the basic principle remains - something that can redirect an asteroid to enter lunar orbit is also something that can redirect an asteroid off of an impact course.

I don't know if that fully justifies the program - it's an absurd expense for what we get. On the other hand, what price can we put on avoiding extinction?

Re:The one good feature of ARM (0)

spiritplumber (1944222) | about 4 months ago | (#47497779)

Obligatory: http://xkcd.com/1244/ [xkcd.com] Jokes aside, it's true that if you want to redirect an asteroid a robotic mission makes the most sense.

Re:The one good feature of ARM (3, Funny)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about 4 months ago | (#47497829)

"what price can we put on avoiding extinction"

sounds like someone's got a great idea for a kickstarter campaign!

Re:The one good feature of ARM (1)

green is the enemy (3021751) | about 4 months ago | (#47498191)

Can you point to good criticism of the Asteroid Redirect Mission? I can't think of a better way to kick-start in situ space resource utilization, which is what we need for sustained human presence in space. Perhaps you mean the manned portion of this mission? The redirection of an asteroid into a close orbit is a very good idea by itself. Of course, spacecraft sent to study this asteroid and try extracting resources from it should mostly be unmanned (and will be).

Re:The one good feature of ARM (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 months ago | (#47498415)

NASA's vaunted "Asteroid Redirect Mission" is now widely regarded as crap.

ALL suggested manned missions seem contrived. We don't really need space humans at this point; robots do raw space exploration cheaper.

It's better to think about it as preparing for future colonization when technology catches up someday to make self-sufficient colonies viable. Issues related to astronaut health and emergency rescues are probably the most important lessons to be gained.

Another possibility is an orbital lab, away from Earth. If we bring back Mars samples, we probably don't want to risk contaminating or infecting Earth with Mars "bugs" until we know more. Thus, the sample analysis labs should probably be in a wide orbit.

The ARM is a PR scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47498807)

When the Obama administration cancelled all of our manned space plans congress went NUTS and did so in a bi-partisan way (you KNOW you've screwed-up when EVERYBODY is mad at you). As a result, the Obama people insisted they actually DID have a plan (about like Nixon's infamous plan to "win in Vietnam") but they had no documentation for it and no destinations (they called it a "flexible path"). When pressed for details and faced with a Senate that basically forced them to continue building a version of the big rocket Bush's people and two congresses had previously agreed to build, the administration announced that it was going to pave the way for a future mission to fly men to an asteroid aboard Orion; they insisted that this mission was better than a moon mission (which they dogmatically insisted was an unacceptable destination) because it was a deep space mission that would prepare the agency for an eventual Mars mission (which they were not willing to plan for because it would be too expensive and too far out in time). Note: The main point of the mission was to have an Orion crew spend months in deep space aboard Orion going to an asteroid, exploring it and getting samples from it and then returning to Earth. When congress pressed for details however, none were available and eventually the mission appears to have been deemed too risky and expensive, so now the administration wants to send an automated probe to go grab a tiny asteroid and bring it to orbit around the moon, where a future Orion crew can spend 3 days flying to it, and another 3 days returning. This will be LESS of a mission than the Apollo 8 mission to orbit the moon for the first time and will not do ANYTHING to prepare for a future Mars (or even Moon) mission. This asteroid faux mission keeps getting smaller and smaller and has been stripped of all value.

Re:The one good feature of ARM (1, Redundant)

itzly (3699663) | about 4 months ago | (#47499459)

On the other hand, what price can we put on avoiding extinction?

The next extinction event is much more likely to come from human activities than from an asteroid.

Re:The one good feature of ARM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47502743)

The next extinction event is already coming from human activities, not from an asteroid.

FTFY

The one good feature of ARM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47502107)

Have they integrated some realism into Kerbals aerobrake maneuvers yet? I was attempting to get into Jool orbit a while back (with a neat little dual lander probe rig) but burnt far more fuel on getting there then I had anticipated, I had little fuel left and was moving at quite a clip. All I know is the aerobraking maneuver I needed to use to get into even an eccentric orbit was FAR from survivable. The Kerbalnauts that I had in a stations/craft in Kerbal orbit probably wondered why their system had a second sun for a few minutes.

aw hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47497699)

I thought they meant the real Orion, not Gemini/Apollo redux.

Everything that is old, is new again. Bah.

Is Your Antivirus Tracking You? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47497875)

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        "Your antivirus software is watching you. A recent study shows that popular antivirus applications like Avast assign your computer a unique identifier and send a list of all web addresses you visit to the manufacturer. If the antivirus finds a suspicious document, it will send the document to the antivirus company. Yes, your antivirus company might have a list of web pages you've visited along with your sensitive personal documents!

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God damn it, apk! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47498481)

Stop with the hosts spam.

Oink, Oink (2)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#47499733)

Manned spaceflight pork and a pointless mission to an asteroid. The money would be much better spent on unmanned robotic probes to Europa and other places of interest.

Iowa is a nice place, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47500509)

unless the rocket is fules with corn, it doesn't come to mind as the first place to think about space vehicles.

What was the Iowa connection here?
      A former astronut or fickle funding?

Needs a Mission, not politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47500619)

Given how the US Congress funnels money, NASA has to make due what they can get unfortunately.

Asteroid mission is President Obama's only option right now due to lack of money. Notice that a Landing Craft for SLS isn't among the innovations they're touting? Can't land if you don't got the ship to do it. If its not in development right now, it will be longer till we land.

Honestly, I'm tired of Congress playing their games in order to keep themselves in power, cater to people who vote for them and keep their respective state industry going at cost of being able to accomplish anything. Were suppose to be one country, not co-op fighting each other.

Personally, I would have like them to built a reusable interplanetary vessel with Nuclear-Pulse or refuellable Ion-Drive in orbit. Which could be have modules like ISS to plug in for whatever mission and leave orbit for its mission. It does the deed, and comes back. Just make sure it has enough shielding for cosmic rays from messing with the crew. Were still learning the effects on the body, so its always going be gamble.

Private efforts, I'm all for it as long their responsible. Industry only looks to make money and opportunity. if its not cost effective, they don't do it unless their paided too. Thats why I don't have a lot good feelings on them being able do a manned trip unless its non-profit sort deal.

Re:Needs a Mission, not politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47500637)

Additionally, SLS can be made useful However, it will be while till something comes up they are able to. Hopefully, NASA can make this flying white elephant into something more than it is. Next administration may scrap it and tout one their own projects instead. Were back square one. Its been happening for decades.

Focus on SpaceX (2)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | about 4 months ago | (#47500807)

Frankly, I think NASA should be working with SpaceX to get the DragonRider off the ground as fast as possible and work on the Falcon Heavylift. This is basically a pork project to keep the people who where making the solid rocket boosters in business.

Re:Focus on SpaceX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47501097)

I agree with you there. Solid Booster people aren't or can't switch over to a new technology, they'll fight new methods just stay alive.

Only problem is keeping the Congress from underminding those efforts. SpaceX may go it alone, I believe beyond the political administration, NASA wants to go too and help. Politics is ruining dream of going to space.

For those who want robotic missions, yes it cheaper. Yes it cost effective, but do common people give a darn in the end? No. We get pretty pictures. Maybe some data for scientist. Call it pork if you want, but people in space makes people want go. Unless you can dramatically, fix things on earth, people need get out of here. The darn environment of the planet Earth is going down the tubes, least if we had place to go, we can save some of us in the long run.

Orion for beyond LEO? (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | about 4 months ago | (#47501119)

I find something lacking, a habitat module. I see lots of articles, PPT, etc. describing how Orion will go beyond but yet I haven't found much on additional space for food, supplies, tools and parts (yes, things can break down needing replacements and repairs), exercise equipment. Maybe there is but I haven't seen anything consistent (I admit I'm not involved in Orion or other HSF programs, and haven't fully searched the internet for references). I see lots of articles about Orion and SLS launch vehicle but that's it. Perhaps a little here and there for habitat modules but no major development program like someone getting a big contract to design and build modules.

I view Orion as a high speed entry vehicle when screaming back into earth's atmosphere but other than that it is limited. It carries only four people, has no airlock, no toilet, not much space for supplies, and has less room per person than the Shuttle Orbiter.

NASA's budger, or management (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47501731)

It took us not even 10 years to go from a standing start to the moon. Why is it taking 3 or more years to launch humans now? Is it NASA's management (the structure of which should be flattened, preferably by a sledge hammer), and don't hire more managers while there are unfill tech and engineering jobs), or is it that they're budget, now, is what it was during the moon race... in UNadjusted dollars, meaning it's about a sixth or less of what it was then.

                  mark

Move over NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47502481)

The future is not NASA and their bloated bureaucracy, but with private companies like SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, etc. As one poster already said, the present daty NASA is not capable of space operations of the magnitude of the past. I live close to KSC and it represents everything that is wrong with NASA - overpaid people with no real mission doing meaningless work that was overcome by entrepreneurs. SpaceX went from zip to orbiting their first recoverable capsule in less then 8 years and with $278 million in tax dollars. NASA spent an estimated $5 billion on Constellation/Ares over seven years and had one partially successful test launch.

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