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Space Science

Proposed Next-Generation Space Station 153

Posted by timothy
from the one-ticket-for-5/6ths-of-the-way-to-the-moon dept.
WallytheWalrus writes "This NewScientist.com article discusses the proposed next generation of telescopes and space stations. The concept presented with little fanfare by the NASA Exploration Team (NEXT) consists of placing a space station about 5/6ths of the way to the moon at one of a handful of local Lagrangian Points. This station would act as a springboard for constructing new telescopic mirrors, maintaining the telescopes that use them, and as a haven for future manned exploration missions. If only NEXT's budget was more than $4 million a year...."
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Proposed Next-Generation Space Station

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  • Space Cowboys (Score:2, Insightful)

    by frank249 (100528) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @04:02PM (#4538164)
    OK this is the same story as a couple days ago but I just remembered that in the movie Space Cowboys, a character wants to take the russian satelite with the nukes to the moon. Somebody says that that is a long way but someone else says that he only has to get half way and then the gravity from the moon will take him the rest of the way. Well now I know thatyou would have to get 5/6s of the distance before the moon's weaker gravity would capture you. Oh well, if you can suspend disbelief long enough to beleive they would send Clint Eastwood and James Gardner into space, I guess you can overlook the physics too.
  • Seen it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GrouchoMarx (153170) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @04:03PM (#4538171) Homepage
    Hm. Can we moderate stories as Redundant [slashdot.org]? :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 26, 2002 @04:08PM (#4538196)
    Yes, and this is the point of the article isn't it?
  • Re:Raise Taxes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tremblay99 (534187) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @04:15PM (#4538231)
    In other words: raise taxes.

    No, you can also slash "defense" spending. How many more third world countries are left to invade / bomb?

  • by jerde (23294) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @04:52PM (#4538368) Journal
    I really wish Slashdot's editors would READ SLASHDOT!

    I can understand reposts that are a couple weeks apart.

    But these few-days-apart repostings are increasingly common, and it's getting really irritating. Back in the days of five-digit usernumbers, this almost NEVER happened.

    Can't the editors of Slashdot be expected to have read all the Slashdot stories for at least the past week, so as to recognize obvious duplicates? I think it would be reasonable to expect them to search for duplicates for the past year, but that's just me.

    How long before moderators can act on the stories themselves? Add a "-5 Repost" option... :)

    - Peter
  • by sterno (16320) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @05:27PM (#4538562) Homepage
    In an era where government seems to be doing everything in it's power to render itself meaningless, a project like this will never happen. Our government has has lost any reason to pretend to have an interest in further the future of humanity now that we have no cold war competition. So, NASA will slowly shrivel away into insignificance. Until private companies develop an interest in space, there will be no going forward for us.

    The sad thing is that with this development, the short term financial return will be what all space exploration is measured by. A private corporation isn't going to put the risk into a decade or longer effort to develop a space station or any sort of space travel because the risk involved in such a venture isn't worth it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 26, 2002 @07:57PM (#4539218)
    I think this would be just another short sighted adventure and waste of money (ie providing very little in return). What I would like my tax dollars spent on in this area is to like a previous poster suggested, was to mine asteroids. Or my true desire to see the Orion space craft built. With this kind of space ship we could expand a human presence throught the solar system fairly quickly and relatively cheaply. Just a thought ;)
  • by Peahippo (539266) <{peahippo} {at} {mail.com}> on Saturday October 26, 2002 @08:01PM (#4539238) Homepage
    The article talks up the usual myth of sending people into the unknown. I stopped buying into this crap a long time ago. Putting equipment, people and resources anywhere in cislunar space is the very definition of a known exercise. Another poster mentioned about objects drifing away if put into L1, 2 or 3 points. Gee ... if you're drifting ... use attitude thrusters ... and it is now time to pun: it's not rocket science, folks.

    Having figuratively seen Skylab and Mir tumble and burn while the Apollo gantries rusted in the sun, I now know their game. The $8 billion spent before 1 kilogram of the ISS made it into orbit more than illustrates the game. The game is to remain well employed and supplied with cool aerospace toys. As for the return of value to the taxpayer ... well, some mumbling of "benefits from technological research" has seemed to silence rumblings of dissent in the past. It'll probably work again.

    The article talks critically and comparatively about "politically motivated Apollo missions of the 1970s, or the aimless, cash-guzzling International Space Station". This reminds me of the push for Network Computers some years ago, in which the very providers of software and hardware used their own high cost-of-ownership as a marketing reason for changing the installed plant over to NCs. If Apollo, the ISS, and the (implied and obvious) Space Shuttle were such fiascos, then of what good is NASA's next project? Irony abounds from this; irrelevant politics and outrageous expenses are the invisible bywords written into NASA's mission statement.

    "This time the science will come first, promises Gary Martin, NASA's Future Technology Architect and head of NEXT." Oh, god! That's the very problem about the American space program: Science comes 1st; politics comes 2nd; and economics is in a very distant 378th place. The average Kuiper Belt object is nearer to NASA than considerations of economics and ROI.

    Don't you think that we should put an end to this "jobs program for PhDs"? Don't you think that we should get manufacturing and energy returns from the public investment in a space program? Why do we continue to explore space without making real plans to go there to exploit the resources we find?

    I have an idea. NASA should stop being some sort of "research agency on crack". It should be trimmed down to be a rocket agency, devoted to tranportation only, and more cheaply than what we have now. Its mission will be to lift cargo off the Earth, into 5 standard deliveries in increasing order of expense:
    • Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is for temporary satellites.
    • HEO is for long-term sats.
    • Geosynchronous is for sats that require such a position.
    • Cislunar is for reaching the Lagrange positions and Luna herself.
    • Escape is simply a push beyond about 7 miles per second, in order to escape the Earth and reach all other points beyond (although to escape Sol requires about 618 km/s).
    Once NASA is there to transport stuff according to rate sheets and schedules, then we'll see what private industry can do to make a buck off of manufacturing and energy.

    ... Oh, who am I fooling? No idea works in America unless is revolves (orbits?) around two central cultural ideas:
    • how much money can I steal this quarter?
    • how many poor people can I put into jail?
    Reducing NASA to a cheap launcher has nothing to do with promoting white-collar crime and blue-collar imprisonment. The future of Humankind in space is Chinese. They will probably get it done before their empire surrenders to the inevitable self-immolation.
  • Re:Space Cowboys (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kst (168867) on Saturday October 26, 2002 @08:24PM (#4539318)
    The distance actually matters less than the delta-v (fuel requirements). In those terms, Low Earth Orbit is probably about halfway to the Moon, or to just about anywhere in the Solar System. (I don't know the exact figures; perhaps somone else can provide more details.)

    Oh well, if you can suspend disbelief long enough to beleive they would send Clint Eastwood and James Gardner into space, I guess you can overlook the physics too.

    Why not? They sent John Glenn, and he's older than either of them.

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