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Space Science

Brazil Successfully Launches Its First Rocket To Space 309

Posted by timothy
from the nasa-will-keep-making-spaceporn dept.
thatshortkid writes "The Washington Times is reporting on Brazil's first successful space launch. Since it is closer to the equator, the task of getting up to space is easier, meaning much more cargo room over fuel. Hello commercial launch market! With this development, along with China's expanding space program, India making moves to space, and our own homegrown (ok, still growing) private space industry, where does this put NASA? Does it take a load off of them to pursue bigger endeavors, or will NASA slowly decline in relevance?"
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Brazil Successfully Launches Its First Rocket To Space

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2004 @04:52PM (#10615681)
    It turned out they were just Brazil nuts.
  • Confused (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rand Huck (821621) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @04:52PM (#10615686) Homepage
    ...can anyone tell me how being close to the equator makes it easier to get to space?

    Anyway, great for Brazil! Hopefully the US won't look down on them like they did the Chinese.
    • Re:Confused (Score:5, Informative)

      by thorndt (814642) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @04:55PM (#10615708)
      You get a bigger boost from the rotation of the earth near the equater. Sort of a slingshot effect.
      • Re:Confused (Score:2, Funny)

        by falcon5768 (629591)
        sept without McCoy and Scotty telling you about transparent aluminum or having to shuttle whales back and forth...
      • Re:Confused (Score:2, Insightful)

        by eclectro (227083)
        Escape velocity is going to be the same anywhere on earth.

        The earth does not impart energy to the rocket as it heads to orbit.

        Rather, launching near the equator makes it easier to reach a more convenient orbit, esp. on the return to earth.
        • Re:Confused (Score:3, Informative)

          by dustman (34626)
          If you're standard directly on the earth's axis of rotation (at the north or south pole), then you are not moving with respect to the center of the earth (although you are rotating once per 24 hours).

          If you stand on the equator, then you are moving at speed ((circumference of the earth) / 24 hours), which is roughly 1000mph, with respect to the center of the earth.
          • Re:Confused (Score:5, Informative)

            by Dinosaur Neil (86204) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:45PM (#10616302)

            Actually, the advantages are there, but not huge... In order to achieve a typical LEO, you need (ideally) a delta-v of not quite 8000 m/s. Launching from the equator provides ~470 m/s of that delta-v, if you're shooting for an equatorial orbit, rather than pole-to-pole. Launching from Florida means you only get ~400 m/s plus the sinusoidal trajectory relative to the surface (the orbit is circular, but the axis is not the same as the Earth's). The dry-mass (empty) to wet-mass (fully fueled) ratio is a logarithmic function, so that 70 m/s translates to a percent or two of additional payload mass, but that's all.

            Caveat: the actual delta-v needed is closer to 10000 m/s because of various factors. Atmospheric drag and other stuff contribute, but mostly launching straight up then kicking over means a highly eccentric orbit and the extra delta-v means not hitting the atmosphere at perigee.

            Hey, I finally got some use out of my graduate level orbital mechanics class!

        • Re:Confused (Score:4, Informative)

          by NarrMaster (760073) <dfordyce@mix[ ]u.edu ['.wv' in gap]> on Sunday October 24, 2004 @05:16PM (#10615800)
          Narr [northwestern.edu]
        • Re:Confused (Score:5, Informative)

          by WolfWithoutAClause (162946) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @05:23PM (#10615828) Homepage
          No, the rotation (rpm) of the earth is the same everywhere, but the diameter varies- the equator is further from the axis than nearer the pole. So it rotates in the same time, but has further to go- so it is going faster- about 300 m/s faster.

          Now, the escape velocity is the same everywhere, but you get a headstart.

          It is also true that launching nearer the equator helps with orbits- it's only possible to launch to an orbit that passes over the launch site (without doing a 'dogleg' which wastes lots of fuel.) All orbits cross the equator, so it's the best place to launch from that point of view. However, the equatorial orbits don't pass over, say, Kazakhstan or New York, so you can't as efficiently launch from there to Geosynchronous orbits or other near-equatorial orbits.

        • Re:Confused (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Nobody's trying to escape earth these days. We're also not shooting things into orbit with slingshots. Instead we pretty much continuously propel our objects until they reach the desired orbit, and yes, since the angular speed of the earth is the same everywhere on earth, resulting in lower linear speed for smaller surface "orbits", a launch vehicle has a head start at the equator.

          Don't believe me? Try an experiment: Sit on an office chair so that rotational friction is minimal. With your arms pointing to
      • Re:Confused (Score:5, Informative)

        by Turing Machine (144300) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @05:23PM (#10615830)
        Yes. Note that almost all existing spaceports are close to the equator (or as close as is practical given national boundaries). The United States launches from Florida. Russia launches from Baikonur in Kazakhstan (not all that far south, but about as far as you can get and still be in the boundaries of the former Soviet Union). The European Space Agency launches from French Guiana in South America.
      • Re:Confused (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Chocolate Teapot (639869) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @05:26PM (#10615846) Journal
        Which makes me wonder why NASA doesn't launch from Guam, which at only 12 degrees 75 minutes north is, as far as I know, the closest US territory to the equator. They already have two air force bases there (Anderson and another which I can't be bothered to look up). Do you think it is because of environmental concerns or simply the logistical effort required to ship all the hardware to the midle of the Pacific?
        • by ArsSineArtificio (150115) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:48PM (#10616328) Homepage
          Do you think it is because of environmental concerns or simply the logistical effort required to ship all the hardware to the midle of the Pacific?

          Most likely the latter. Consider the logistical difficulties not merely with the space hardware itself, but with the fuel for the vessel, trans-shipping (for example) the Space Shuttle back from one of the continental landing strips, the accommodations for the large ground control and maintenance crews, the food and supplies for the personnel, etc. Florida is just easier to get all the stuff to.

    • Re:Confused (Score:5, Informative)

      by HeghmoH (13204) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @04:59PM (#10615725) Homepage Journal
      Most of the effort in getting into space is not in getting up, but in getting enough speed. You have to be going several km/sec to stay in low earth orbit. The Earth spins pretty fast, about 0.4km/sec at the equator, and getting less and less as you get farther away, finally resulting in zero speed at the poles. Every bit of speed you gain from the Earth's spin is a bit of speed you don't have to provide with your rocket. This means you need less fuel, can carry greater payloads, etc.
    • Re:Confused (Score:4, Insightful)

      by marktaw.com (816752) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @04:59PM (#10615726) Homepage
      Because the closer you are to the equator, the faster you're moving already. Once you leave the ground, the fact that the Earth is spinning has little to do anything you might be doing, but the fact that you were spinning faster when you left means you have more momentum already and it's easier for you to achieve escape velocity

      Think of an ice skater spinning on the ice. If they held their arm out and dropped a ball, it would go flying. If it fell off of their head it would just drop to the ground. That same force created by the spin of the earth slingshots the spacecraft into space.

      Someone with more of a scientific background may be able to fill in the technical bits.
    • The Earth is taller than it is wide, that is, the circumference is less along the equator than pole to pole. What this is means is there is more stuff underneath you the closer you are to a pole, so gravity is higher. It's actually enough to be measured by a conventional scale. At a pole, Earth's gravity pulls at 9.83 m/s^2. At the equator it pulls at 9.78 m/s^2.
      This isn't the only reason, however.
    • ...can anyone tell me how being close to the equator makes it easier to get to space?
      Obviously it's because you're closer to the sun, ignore all those other posts.
    • sea launch (Score:3, Informative)

      by edbarbar (234498)
      A not so well known company actually makes a floating platform that can launch rockets. It's heavily funded by Boeing, and advertises equatorial launches:

      http://www.sea-launch.com/ [sea-launch.com]

      Another interesting note is that there are a lot of complaints on the net about how the US government, according to some at the behest of NASA to keep the shuttle viable, has stiffled commercial launches. Here is an interesting site discussing the affect of the laws:

      http://www.spacefuture.com/archive/barriers_to_spa ce_en [spacefuture.com]
  • Argentina (Score:2, Informative)

    by Beuno (740018)
    Over here in Argentina there have been numerous atempts to do this, having the same advantage as Brazil. Our goverments havent been able to succesfully do anything, so congrats to Brazil!
  • by Letter (634816) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @04:53PM (#10615692)
    Dear Slashdot,

    Brazil has certainly taken over Orkut. NASA is clearly the next logical step.

    Letter

  • by xlyz (695304) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @04:56PM (#10615714) Journal
    ... to search for the missing WMD?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2004 @04:56PM (#10615715)
    "...or will NASA slowly decline in relevance?"

    Maybe NASA will actually acquire enough technology from private enterprise to actually put a man on the moon!

    • Re:NASA relevant? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @05:16PM (#10615798)
      You mean like all the Apollo and Mercury and Gemini gear that was built by NASA didn't...wait, that all was private enterprise at work there too.

      Do people really think all that stuff was built by NASA? Well, if you do, it wasn't. Boeing, Lockheed,North American, and the list goes on. IIRC the LEM had over 4000 subcontractors sending things into Lockheed for the assembly of it.

      Look here
      http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP -4009/ v1p3a.htm

      "In addition, the Apollo Project Office, which had been part of the MSC Flight Systems Division, would now report directly to the MSC Director and would be responsible for planning and directing all activities associated with the completion of the Apollo spacecraft project. Primary functions to be performed by the Office would include:

      Monitor the work of the Apollo Principal Contractor NAA and Associate Contractors."

      Principal contractor NAA, well that means North American Aircraft, because they were building it and developing the technology.

      Sorry to snap, but wow it's annoying when people accuse NASA of falling behind because they've not outsourced, when in fact, that's what NASA does to get stuff built.

      http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-420 4/ ch9-1.html

      List of big contractors and agencies.

  • Cash (Score:4, Insightful)

    by the grace of R'hllor (530051) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @04:59PM (#10615724)
    Talk about a growth market. Poor country, cheap ground for large launch facilities, decent tourist(y) spots along the coast... If they can attract the market, they're in to make some money.

    Whose stock do I buy?
    • Re:Cash (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sapgau (413511) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:44PM (#10616292) Journal
      Being the second largest economy in Latin America does not exactly qualify it as "poor". I've seen quite a few posts comaring developing nations being equal to a dirt poor african nation.

      It's just plain ignorant to bundle all non-developed countries in one bunch. Don't act surprised when these "poor" countries start buying up companies from the "prosperous" countries.

      CEMEX (Mexico) [bloomberg.com]
      EMBRAER (Brazil) [bloomberg.com]
      TELEVISA (Mexico) [reuters.com]
      WIPRO (India) [bloomberg.com]
      KOLA REAL (Peru) [216.239.57.104]
      • When I think of a developing nation, I think of nasty apartments with the sheetrock peeling off, rooms with like 5 kids running around, and streets full of filth. If I think of the country side of a nation like that, I think of house held up my cinderblocks in mud, and siding coming off and about to fall over. I also think of bad power and telephone systems. I always want to see pictures of what the places and cities actually look like.
    • What about the rest [jonbales.com] of that huge and scenic country?
    • Re:Cash (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Cyberhawk (716151)
      I just need to say this. How can one of the top ten biggest economies in the world [brazil.org.uk] be considered poor?

      I am brazilian. And it's hard to explain that the worst issue in Brazil is not about poverty, but rather the distribution of wealth. Middle/upper class does have a lifestyle that compares to any "developed" country. Yeah, maybe 15% percent of our population can't even read, or 30% live below poverty level, but that is not the absolute situation. Thing is, it doesn't matter how much growth Brazil has. It ma
      • Re:Cash (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cdsr (791348)
        " I just need to say this. How can one of the top ten biggest economies in the world be considered poor?"

        From the page you linked: 2000 GDP per capita == $4060; that is how.

        The CIA factbook ranks Brazil 94th overall at $7600 GDP per capita, below the world average of $8200. Brazil is the 6th most populous nation in the world which accounts for the large GDP. This is similar to China, they have a massive economy yet my government (Canada) sends them millions of dollars of my taxes for humanitarian aid ev
  • Poor NASA (Score:4, Funny)

    by Cat9117600 (627358) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @05:00PM (#10615733) Homepage
    Looks like NASA's relevance is going the way of NASA's funding! Ooh. Zing!
  • by Dance_Dance_Karnov (793804) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @05:04PM (#10615754) Homepage
    ...to the list of those on pace to beat the US in sci/tech within 30 or so years.
    • by Temporal Outcast (581038) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:05PM (#10616067) Journal
      Hmmm, I do not quite understand the preoccupation that the US needs to be numero uno in everything.

      Yes, I'm from the US myself - but I would much rather see humanity go somewhere, than just this country.

      Germany was once the world's leading hub of sci-tech for a while, then it was Russia and now it is the US. We may be the number one, or we may not - nobody knows yet. However, that does not mean we have to look at it from the perspective of the US being beaten by someone or the US beating someone.

      It's all for science's sake and humanity's sake!

      So here's three cheers for Brazil :-)
      • by protomala (551662) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @09:49PM (#10617391) Homepage
        I fully agree with that.
        Imagine someone on Africa discovers the cure of AIDS/HIV. Should we be sad because we wheren't the ones who did it or make a party because millions of lifes would be saved and earth would be a better place to live?
        It just make us wonder again why we waste so much money on weapons instead of just advancing science for our own sake.
  • by marktaw.com (816752) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @05:08PM (#10615770) Homepage
    While it may affect NASA, I doubt it will cripple them. Commercial flights are going to focus on getting people in to space (for large sums of money). NASA will focus on sending large, heavy payloads in to space, like communications satellites. It may actually be beneficial for NASA to partner with, say, Brazil to get the advantages of their location (though transporting all those sensitive things would be a royal PITA), but I don't think the advantage will be so large that they'll do it.

    Plus, NASA has a research focus, sending things to Mars or the Moon, which simply isn't commercially interesting right now. Maybe when we discover oil on mars (because, you know, they had dinosaurs) or some benefit that would intrigue the medical research corporations, Mars or the Moon may become interesting, but until then, nobody is going to sponsor all the research NASA does. And since experimentation in a weightless environment wasn't too terribly fascinating for them, I don't think Mars would be either.

    So I think NASA will pretty much stay put, but the competition will 1) make them step up their game a bit, and 2) allow them to focus their resources on the things nobody else is currently doing.
    • by SysKoll (48967) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:43PM (#10616626)
      While it may affect NASA, I doubt it will cripple them. Commercial flights are going to focus on getting people in to space (for large sums of money). NASA will focus on sending large, heavy payloads in to space, like communications satellites.

      As you said, NASA's focus should be on research. Sending a load to orbit is a trucking job best left to private companies. Each time NASA launches a commercial or military satellite (that is, not a science mission), they waste money twice:

      • 1. by using Federal fund for a mundane trucking job;
      • 2. by competing against the private sector and depriving them from the commercial satellite launch market, thus slowing down their growth.

      A NASA focusing on science would allow a private launch industry to take off (literally) and decrease the cost of access to orbit per kilogram. Which in turn would make science missions cheaper. Everyone wins.

      So why doesn't NASA just do this? Because they inherited an army of 20.000 engineers from the Appolo program, and like in every bureaucracy, feeding the troops and sustaining the status quo takes precedence over the Good of Mankind. It's only human to want to keep one's job. Meanwhile, the space program is dead.

    • NASA will focus on sending large, heavy payloads in to space, like communications satellites.

      Huh? Where have you been? The private market is more than capable of providing the satelite launching service. NASA hasn't been in the business of sending communications satelites (military or commercial) into space for many many years. NASA's current purpose is to continue the space exploration (which it has been doing in a quite wasteful way in the last 20 years given the inefficiency of the shuttles)
  • ESA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mchinand (22369) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @05:15PM (#10615794)
    The European Space Agency has been taking advantage of an equatorial launch site for 40 years in French Guiana [esa.int]. NASA has managed to remain relevant during those 40 years, so I don't foresee Brazil's recent launch changing that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2004 @05:20PM (#10615812)
    I have heard a lot about how you can save on fuel by flying an airplane as high as possible and launching a much smaller rocket from the air into space. If you recall, this is exactly what the Space Ship One team did to win the X Prize. Would anyone happen to know why we don't see more nations investing on this technology? It sounds like a better solution for commercial launches. Why China, India, and Brazil insist on investing on this "land-to-space" type of rockets?
    • I would guess a leo or higher orbit would be hard to calculate frome a moving airplane. On a fixed launch platform, you can set a windows for a launch that will not slam your new super duper seeformiles spy satellite into HBO1 or MTV7. ( made up satellite names). In a plane, you would need some pretty nifty navigational computers, plus acurate time, altitude, longitude, latitude, wind direction, and whatever else would be required to put a bird into orbit. On the ground you just have to worry about the wea
    • by cjameshuff (624879) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:16PM (#10616497) Homepage
      Orbital rockets are big, heavy, and fragile, and launching one from a stable ground platform is hugely easier than launching from a flying aircraft. The heavier structure required to survive launch from an aircraft probably outweighs any fuel savings, and the heavier structure and first stage aircraft together would almost certainly cost more...fuel is cheap.

      For the X Prize, it's a big deal because all they needed is altitude...they could get about halfway to the goal on an ordinary aircraft. Orbit is a lot harder to reach, not only do you need altitude, you need a great deal of speed that no airplane can come close to achieving. Aircraft simply aren't very helpful for getting to orbit.
      • Orbital rockets are big, heavy, and fragile, and launching one from a stable ground platform is hugely easier than launching from a flying aircraft.

        Tell that to Orbital (http://www.orbital.com/SpaceLaunch/) They've been launching to orbit for a while with the Pegasus system that drops a rocket from the bottom of an L-1011.

        • Thank you! I was about to post the exact same thing.

          Sometimes it amazes (or amuses) me how knowledgeable the /. crowd acts about space, while actually being fairly ignorant about the whole thing. I make a habit of clicking on the link to any space-related story just to see what kind of idiot stuff will get posted. :)

          • Yeah-- I'm just finally learning Perl for my own entertainment, but I spent part of the summer shopping for launch vehicles... I got to see an X-34 fuselage up close and personal (within a few feet) a couple days after the program was cancelled. (I was out there for a meeting unrelated to X-34).

            I have to put something in my /. journal about why the moon is a suboptimal place to build a space telescope-- I've already had to answer that about 3 times.
    • He's already pretty much recouped the money from that already via the Ansari prize and Richard "I can make money off that" Branson's interest, so expect Burt Rutan, designer extraordinaire to take the cash flow from that and the follow-up projects (space mini-buses) and make maybe a fibreglass kit build-in-your-garage Shuttle replacement or a LEO commuter plane that flings out a space-bus/space-truck at apogee while amortising the cost with Dallas-to-Europe or New-York-to-Australia passengers on the launch vehicle.

      Speaking of Branson, the whole SpaceShipOne experimental program so far has cost less than one single regular passenger jet. I'm expecting Richard to notice that and wonder if Burt can turn his hand to larger aircraft, and sponsor him to do so. It wouldn't shock me to see Burt slash the cost of an airliner and make it intrinsically safer, more economical and more visually interesting all in one hit. I'd expect him to start with a cargo plane and work out, but I think there's room for an immense amount of cross-pollination between his air-breathers and what he's learned from his space work.
  • by squoozer (730327) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @05:22PM (#10615822)

    NASAs biggest problem is that it took its eye off the ball and lost direction. I think after they got to the moon they didn't really know what to do next so they just went to the moon a few more times rather than expanding their horizon and maybe trying to push on to Mars. They had something that captured the publics imagination with the HST but have now cocked it up to the point where the average person is just confused.

    I admit you have to do some science to justify the expense of space missions but Jo Public only understands pictures and the science leaves him bored. Jo Publics attention span is also only just longer than that of the average goldfish so you have to keep the thrills coming. People will wait maybe a year for something amazing but they won't wait 10 years. NASA has got to remember that the public are funding them so they had better put on a good show.

    • by NOLAChief (646613) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:33PM (#10616230)
      I think after they got to the moon they didn't really know what to do next[...]

      Thing is, NASA absolutely knew what to do next. There was a huge vision of permanent moon bases, orbiting space stations and manned trips to Mars as a follow on to the Apollo program. All of this would be built with a reusable "space truck." Thing is, Nixon and Congress refused to fund everything but the space truck (which now had little to do), which became the highly politicized design of the space shuttle and things started going downhill from there.

      I suggest reading the first couple chapters of the CAIB report. (It's available online.) They basically went back to the very beginning of the Shuttle program in order to trace everything that went wrong. It's very enlightening.

  • Boom in Brazil (Score:3, Insightful)

    by daperdan (446613) * on Sunday October 24, 2004 @05:24PM (#10615832)
    I'd love to see a technology boom in Brazil. What a perfect place to live. Beautiful country. Beautiful weather. Perfect beaches. I'd never choose a position in Brazi over India. Brazil wins hands down. Let's hope technology continues to boom in Brazil! I'd relocate in a second if the opportunity existed. Beleza Pura!
  • ...did Sam Lowry escape on the rocket?
  • by praedictus (61731) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @05:27PM (#10615851) Journal
    As I had commented earlier today in another story, what's more impressive is the rapid recovery from last year's explosion. Funny the Brazilians are fond of conspiracy stories about that. (Quite a few think the CIA had something to do with it - leftover distrust from the era of military rule) This launch was not as ambitious as the craft which was destroyed, but at least Brazil didn't stay paralyzed after the tragedy. Hopefully they can keep up the momentum - without attracting too much attention. Certain parties might view the recent nuclear developments (new enrichment technology) in association with the rocket program and start thinking Brasil is developing ICBM's

    Off topic aside - I had thought about posting this story but I had submitted one about Operacao Cavalo de Troia II - 53 phish scammers busted for over 30M in bank fraud -19 of them in the interior city where I work, I had some relatively inside information on the bust. But no I'm not bitter :P
    • I wondered about that too, sort of. WHether or not Brazil thinks they could build a nuclear ICBM, what's the chance that they would accept a contract to launch someone else's payload?
  • by georgewilliamherbert (211790) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @05:31PM (#10615869)
    This wasn't a launch to orbit. It was a large suborbital rocket, just going up and down again.

    The US calls these sounding rockets.

    Hopefully Brazil will get its satellite launch program back up and running. It was severely damaged when one of the solid rocket motors ignited in a rocket being set up on the pad for launch, which destroyed the pad and killed the technicians working to set it up.

  • by Brett Buck (811747) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @05:48PM (#10615949)
    The summary is pretty bizarre. Brazil's launch is to a viable commercial launch system what the Wright Flier is to a 747. It was quite an accomplishment (coming after the previous accidents) but hardly anything more than a promising start along a 15-20 year road, with optimism. RTFA.

    Additionally, the development of more commercial launch capability is essentially absurd - given that there is a huge overcapacity in commercial launch capability.

    Moreover, NASA has had very little or nothing to do with commercial launch for many, many years. Private companies have been doing this essentially on their own for a long time. They use the same launchers and use Cape facilities. But NASA pays just like everybody else, when they use expendable vehicles. So the relevance of even more commercial launch capability would have no effect in any way on NASA - even assuming that this was what the Brazilians were doing - which they are not.

    As far a "looking down on the Chinese" - well, given that they have had exactly one manned launch with capabilities similar to a Gemini flight from 40 years ago, (and an incredible string of accidents including dropping fully-fueled boosters into innocent villlages, destroying them almost completely, and then doing theor utmot to cover it up, and crashing a film return capsule into someone's house just last week) I thought that NASA's reaction was quite charitable. Given the problems in trying to run an international program with the highly-experienced Russians, and the apalling technology-transfer implications, it's hard to see how it would be a wise idea to jump on the Chinese bandwagon with the ISS or other international cooperation projects.

    Other than that, excellent summary of the original article.

    • Additionally, the development of more commercial launch capability is essentially absurd - given that there is a huge overcapacity in commercial launch capability.

      Correction, there is a huge overcapacity in expensive commercial launch capability and not enough $100 per kg launch capacity. I'm hope that this overcapacity results in a big drop in launch costs.

  • I've reached a point where I don't think NASA should be in manned space flight or commercial launches.

    I think that it should either be shut down or just focus on unmanned scientific missions and some basic materials and propulsion research.

    Let the commercial sector do what it does best, take risks in money making ventures. Though we do need to keep the tort lawyers out.

    Fold manned space flight and other such ventures back into the DOD where they make sense to pursue in national defense. They will take
  • by kaalamaadan (639250) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:20PM (#10616156) Journal
    India is not "making moves" into space. India's space programme, though hitherto modest, is technically over 35 years old. See the ISRO [isro.org] webpage.

    In fact Werner von Braun [nasa.gov] took some interest in the Indian space programme, in the 60s.

    India's first satellite was launched 30 years ago, called Aryabhata-I [nasa.gov] named after the 6th century Indian mathematician, Aryabhata [wikipedia.org].

    Also, the launching station at Thumba is right on the Magnetic Equator. A story covering this can be seen here [hindu.com]. Also, [braeunig.us]

    A map of the world's space centers [braeunig.us] is available.

  • by Goldsmith (561202) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:37PM (#10616253)
    NASA has a bunch of different responsibilities:

    basic scientific research
    commercial launches/coordination
    military launches
    big space projects

    The way I see it, the basic scientific research area of NASA will eventually be handled if not by the NSF, by something very much like it. The various NASA research centers are pretty much like the national labs already.

    The commercial launches may one day be handled by private enterprise, but there will always be regulation which goes along with them. This area could more easily be handled in the future by something like the FAA.

    The military launches really should be handled by the military.

    That leaves the big space projects. This really can't be taken away. There has to be someone out there who will coordinate the truly crazy space projects. Who exept NASA (working with other government space agencies: ESA, etc) will build gigantic orbiting particle accellerators? Helping to coordinate multinational projects is really going to be the role of NASA and other governmental space agencies in the future.

    Right now, one of the biggest impediments to big science projects (ITER comes to mind) is getting all the parties involved simply to agree on what they are doing.
    • The commercial launches may one day be handled by private enterprise, but there will always be regulation which goes along with them. This area could more easily be handled in the future by something like the FAA.

      Actually, at this point even NASA launches are handled by private enterprise. You may want to read up about United Space Alliance [unitedspacealliance.com]. Commercial launches tend to be managed by the launch vehicle contractor, although the actual pad management and launch operations may be run by the Air Force in some c

  • This sounds intersting, i bet they use samba to communicate with it.

    No really, seriously now, NASA would never pahse off as u suggested, first of all i think NASA has a million other things to do rather than flying rockets.They use rockets only to achieve other goals they have, while on the other hand, Brazil, India, China or whatever are yet only thinking on how to get the damn thing to fly.

    I met a few ppl who used to work at NASA, damn these people are so damn smart, they make me feel as if i am a rooki
  • Brazilian ICBM ...? (Score:4, Informative)

    by handy_vandal (606174) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:44PM (#10616288) Homepage Journal
    In 1971 a joint civilian-military committee, the Brazilian Commission for Space Activities (Comissão Brasileira de Atividades Espaciais--Cobae), was established and placed under the CSN (National Security Council). Cobae was chaired by the head of the Armed Forces General Staff (Estado-Maior das Forças Armadas--EMFA) and was in charge of the Complete Brazilian Space Mission (Missão Espacial Completa Brasileira--MECB). The MECB, created in 1981, was an ambitious US$1 billion program with the aim of attaining self-sufficiency in space technology.

    The potential military applications of Brazil's MECB center around the Sonda IV and its VLS, which could be used for a ballistic missile. Sonda IV has a range of 600 kilometers and can carry a 500-kilogram payload, and is therefore subject to MTCR restrictions. The transformation of the Sonda IV into an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) would require several more successful launches and a major technological leap, especially in payload shielding and guidance.

    The government of Brazil has stated that it supports the peaceful applications of space technology and denies any intention of developing a ballistic missile.


    Link [globalsecurity.org]

    Google "brazil icbm" [google.com]

    -kgj
    • Brazil is one of the world's largest arms exporters to the Third World. Its first three space rockets, the Sonda I, II, and III, were all developed into surface-to-surface missiles that Iraq, Libya, and Saudi Arabia purchased right off the production line.

      Link [wisconsinproject.org]
  • by gustgr (695173) <rondina@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:52PM (#10616348) Homepage
    I am glad this finally happened. I am Brazilian and I know that our country can (and it does) produce great brilliant minds and top scientists. Even NASA has numerous Brazilian scientists.

    The problem have always relied on the government support. Brazilian Govt. is very very corrupt, and most of the money that should be spent on science and technology ends in Switzerland, at some ilegal bank accounts from our beloved politicians.

    That accident that ocurred a while ago is a proof. The crew involved with the project have donnated money from their own pockets to buy equipment and pieces of the VLS (Satellite Launcher Vehicle) that exploded.

    I sincerely hope that this achievement will be the first of many others.

    Congratulations to all Brazilian scientists that have been involved with this project.
  • If only Brazil could manage to use all this ingenuity and excellence to find a way for their police death squads, and professional hired killers to stop murdering and torturing their street children (aged between 5 to 18 years). Considering that there are estimated between 7 to 17 million children living on their streets, one would think that they would look at the ground occasionally whilst they reach for the stars.

    "More than 18% of Brazil's population is illiterate, and 35% of children between ages 7 an
  • by Detritus (11846) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:33PM (#10616567) Homepage
    With the exception of the Shuttle and some sounding rockets, the launch vehicle market has been privatized for years. If you want a Delta or Atlas launch, you negotiate a contract with Boeing or Lockheed-Martin, not NASA.
    • Mod parent up--

      NASA is actually a pretty small part of the customer base for the launch vehicle makers. LV development is driven much more by DOD and commercial needs than by NASA needs.

      With the exception of the shuttle and subsidizing development of high-risk new LV technologies (mostly leaning toward reusables) NASA really isn't in the launch business. NASA does run KSC, but the people who handle launches on all the expendables are all Boeing and Lockheed (I don't know if Orbital launches out of KSC at
  • Brazil's [www.cbc.ca] possible [theglobeandmail.com] nuclear [turkishpress.com] capability [reuters.com]. It is likely that this capability means that Brazil is capable of delivering a nuclear payload a much longer distance than either Iran or North Korea.

    I am not claiming that Brazil should be lumped in with either of these two nations, however it is an interesting opportunity to test a dual purpose launch vehicle and perhaps reflect the first of the 'developing' countries probable intercontinental capabilities.

    Given recent trade tensions between Brazil and the USA I h
  • Does it take a load off of them to pursue bigger endeavors, or will NASA slowly decline in relevance?

    Sort of like how other delivery companies caused the USPS to decline? (ignore for a moment the monopoly given the USPS... :-)

    At most, NASA may more tightly focus its efforts, but at the end of the day NASA and private companies will serve different customers and different missions/purposes.

    Not only will private companies be unable to compete with NASA at its own game, they don't want to do what NAS
  • Guess this means (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @08:37PM (#10616954) Homepage
    That we'll be invading Brazil next. They have a delivery vehicle and the ability to manufacture weapons of mass destruction and the US is within range of their missile.

    Hey, they're a bigger threat than Iraq was before the invasion and it's not as far to drive. Plus the scenery is better. We should've invaded those pesky Canadians first, they could deliver WMD's into the states in their sneaky submarine. Then go after Brazil second. Secure this part of the world before we start dorking around on the other side of the planet.

    Why not? We can invent an imminent threat from any country we want, why settle for the dirty, crapass countries half-way around the world? The facts have no bearing on this administration, so let's invade the countries with the best looking women first.

  • Israel has had LEO capability for about a decade using their Shavit launcher. Moreover because of where Israel is they have to launch TO THE WEST which requires a bigger than normal booster and a more complex launch profile.

Little known fact about Middle Earth: The Hobbits had a very sophisticated computer network! It was a Tolkien Ring...

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