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NASA Space

First Details of Manned Mars Mission From NASA 329

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the martian-rocketship-looking-for-cone-shaped-head dept.
OriginalArlen writes "The BBC has a first look at NASA's initial concepts for a manned Mars mission, currently penciled in for 2031. The main vehicle would be assembled on orbit over three or four launches of the planned Ares V heavy lift rocket. New abilities to repair, replace, and even produce replacement parts will be needed to provide enough self-sufficiency for a 30 months mission, including 16 months on the surface. The presentation was apparently delivered at a meeting of the Lunar Exploration Management Group, although there's nothing on their site yet."
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First Details of Manned Mars Mission From NASA

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  • 2031?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @05:51PM (#21510383)
    Just think, when Kim Stanley Robinson released Red Mars [amazon.com] he settled the first Mars mission in the late teens and colonization in 2024, intending to be on the safe side in his future chronology compared to much science-fiction. And now our lack of vision as a nation and bureaucratical hassles have pushed the date even beyond that. It's a sad time to be an American. If only we had the drive of the Apollo era.
  • by ravenspear (756059) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @05:53PM (#21510423)
    We could have been going in 5 years instead of 25 if we as a species/world community had better priorities.

    (example: 500 billion in Iraq, more than enough to fund the complete development and production of everything that would be needed)
  • Re:2031?! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smashin234 (555465) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @05:56PM (#21510463) Journal
    NASA does not have the funding it had during the apollo era, so they are doing the best they can on low budgets.

    On the other hand, I am just glad to see that instead of sending teachers and other non-astronauts into space they are actually trying to go forward and do something productive. The mission more resembles what was seen in the movie Red Planet where everything was made to be self-sustainable and there was really not much room for problems.

    Of course, the plot to that is much different then this is going to be, but whatever.
  • Re:2031?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:00PM (#21510539) Journal

    If only we had the drive of the Apollo era.

    We were kinda missing a fully-committed competitor for prestige and bragging rights, like we had when we were pushing to the Moon in competition w/ Russia.

    Also, nothing (aside from a metric assload of money to go with the initiative) is stopping private interests from giving space a shot. Although there is a lot of work being done in that direction (Scaled Composites, Armadillo Aerospace, etc), I fear that most will stop cold or die off before they really get things going full-time, and some appear to be stopping short just on what they've done - e.g. Scaled Composites may become just a neat-o space tourista thingy to get into sub-orbit, but otherwise won't bother any further.

    But then, I'm prepared to be pleasantly surprised and proven wrong when it comes to this ideal.

    (Hell, the only reason NASA appears to be getting back into the manned-mission-to-space thing again is because the Chinese got one of their own into space, and Russia+India want to put folks on the Moon... kinda sad that it takes ego just to get people working towards what should be a solid ideal in the first place).

    All that said - someone call me when an average guy can get into space without spending a shitload of cash or his whole career kissing bureaucratic arse.

    /P

  • 2031? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mmcuh (1088773) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:03PM (#21510573)
    If NASA aren't planning to get there until 2031 I can almost guarantee that they wont get there first.
  • Robots (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:04PM (#21510575)
    The funny thing is, the longer they wait to launch a human mission to Mars, the smaller will be the advantage compared to a robotic one. Spirit and Opportunity can already do a lot of exploration on their own but, currently, humans, could do a lot better, faster, etc. I'm not so sure that this will still be true in the 2030-2035 time frame. Regardless of the state of AI then, robots will be a lot more autonomous, capable of fairly advanced decisions and exploration capabilities. And they will be immensely cheaper to deliver to Mars (and anywhere else for that matter). So, the longer they put a human mission off, the least sense it makes.
  • by wardk (3037) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:10PM (#21510631) Journal
    those astronauts will be hungry when they arrive on the "red" planet
  • by cowboy76Spain (815442) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:13PM (#21510683)
    I read in a book about curious annecdotes (supposed to be true) that, in the Middle Age, an astronomer told the Pope that the Antichrist was born in Sicilia. The Pope asked what age he might have at that moment, and was told that about three or four years. Then the Pope thougt about it, and said: "Then it will be my successor's trouble!" and it was the last time it was heard about that problem

    A program that completes in 25 years gives all of the top staff at NASA time enough to retire and leave the details to the people to come (who will blame his predecessors :-) )
    It would be more credible if there was a middle step (what about a long -3, 4 months- to the Moon, to check that the technology is improving and see what is still lacking?)
  • Re:2031?! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:24PM (#21510811)

    What I find telling is that I am reading about the proposed mission on a British news site, not an American one. The American people really don't care.

    Now, what makes more sense to me than sending a manned mission to Mars is one [space.com] to an NEO [space.com]. There's some neat science to be had from a manned mission to Mars, but there's not a whole lot of practical benefit.

    A near-Earth object is a different story. There's a real chance of a large object hitting Earth in the near future; we need to get our hands dirty studying the composition of these objects if we want to be able to deflect them if they come near. Not only that, but these things have some serious economic potential; a large asteroid can contain many millions of dollars' worth of metals--and they are within reach of commercial mining within the next few decades. They have the added bonus of not being trapped in a gravity well, so you don't have to pay to launch your new satellite into space after you finish building it.

  • by dick johnson (660154) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:35PM (#21510937)
    I'm a huge space proponent...

    But it is not like the U.S. Government won't have all sorts of other debts to pay when the Afghan/Iraq wars end.

    Let's try Social Security and Medicare to start.

    These two programs are all slated to start running in the red decades before any Mars mission.
  • Re:2031?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kaiser423 (828989) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:37PM (#21510959)
    No, we did not go there because we thought that the Russians would go there first.

    We were getting our asses handed to us with regards to the space race. They put satellites orders of magnitude larger than we could into orbit. They were hitting the moon with objects and sending objects around the moon. We could do none of those things.

    So, when the brass came down and said "Let's beat the Russians!" We had to pick something that was an order of magnitude harder than what the Russians were currently doing. Anything less, and they would have had too much of a head start. But if we chose a goal that required much more advanced technology than was available at the time, then we might be able to catch up. That's where the moon landing came into play. And catch up we did.
  • Re:Competition (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:42PM (#21511027)
    You worship the free market. Guess what: private industry isn't God.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:51PM (#21511147)
    And if 3,000 people hadn't died on September 11th, we might be there. GW certainly wouldn't have been able to drum up support for massive military action. Heck, if everybody had shaken hands and gotten along in 1918...or 1945, we'd be in great shape. Even better shape if they'd done it thousands of years ago.

    I don't see what relevance singling out spending on the Iraq fiasco has.
  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:58PM (#21511229)
    If we as a species/world community had better priorities.

    It is an unfortunate reality that not everyone has the same priorities. The priorities of a person living in the first world for example are very different from those of a person living in the third world. For example, 98%+ Americans do not spend much time worrying about where their next meal is going to come from, but in large parts of Africa this a serious and growing concern. That is why it is so important to bring sustained economic growth to those areas because sustained economic growth is the difference between a modern first world existence where things like a mission to mars are within our reach and living in a mud hut and trying to scrape together enough food to feed your family. As long as these economic problems remain unsolved we will continue to have lots of wars, lots of violence, and plenty of terrorism to act as a sink for our time, money, and resources.
  • by OriginalArlen (726444) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:00PM (#21511265)

    Can someone please explain to me (and this is NOT meant to be a troll-post) why someone can't volunteer for a manned mission to Mars, raise funding from private companies/organizations and just go to Mars?
    Because no private organisations have $250-400 billion in spare cash lying around to fritter on a quixotic dream for no better reason than neo-imperialist flag waving?

    hey, don't shoot the messenger. You did ask.

  • Re:2031?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OriginalArlen (726444) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:03PM (#21511295)

    And now our lack of vision as a nation and bureaucratical hassles have pushed the date even beyond that. It's a sad time to be an American
    Yeah, because my sense of self-worth is inextricably bound up with whether my country goes to Mars in this decade or that decade. Look how the US is being left behind by all those other manned Mars missions being run by the Russians, the Europeans, the Japanese, Chinese and Indians. oh wait -
  • Give me a break... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RichardtheSmith (157470) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:09PM (#21511365)
    It would have been an interesting article if it had gotten into how this "cryogenic" propulsion system will actually work. The biggest problems are (1) fuel for the outbound and return trip (2) how to land the craft that has humans in it and (3) how to get off the planet again. Mars' atmosphere is too thin for parachutes, and the gravity is too heavy to use conventional chemical thrusters to brake the landing all the way down (which isn't possible anyways due to the mass of the fuel you would have to haul all the way from Earth with those "cryogenic" thrusters).

    No one has an answer to this question yet. There may not be one. It's not just engineering, there are basic scientific barriers. This is why SF always invents Warp Drive or some other back door - the constraints imposed by Newton's Third Law and the limitations of chemical propulsion make this whole thing a big pain in the ass. Funny how all these articles never bother to review the basics before launching into all the speculation.
  • by Joebert (946227) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:11PM (#21511375) Homepage
    I think allowing someone to go on a suicide mission to Mars defeats the entire purpose of going to Mars in the first place.
    Mars isn't a war to be won, it's a quest for humanity.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:11PM (#21511379)
    this is the same guy from the 'what a lie' comment. WE HAVE VERY ADVANCED PROPULSION TECHNOLOGY THAT DOES NOT REQUIRE CHEMICAL ROCKETRY. I am not referring to Ion thrusters. This kind of thing is happening in many fields, for instance, the combustion engine for civilian transportation has not changed in 50 years, and perhaps it is the most important technology we have in use today. I suspect that at the most simple level they are trying to keep advanced weaponry secret, perhaps it gets a bit more complicated than that, but that would require some (relatively) outlandish speculation.

    do not believe all the 'pop science' concerning physics. Most of what the average joe recognizes as physics is a very elaborate game designed to keep the general populace OUT OF THE PHYSICS FIELD. Just look at the numbers. In America, Physicists make a pittance. Meanwhile sports stars and actors make millions. People take notice of this and they put up sham programs designed to get people 'interested' in science. Meanwhile any candidates for research in this country are typically foreigners. There is clearly an 'insider' physics group and an outsider group.

    Any attempt to relate the bulk of known physics to gravity is instant anathema. Many scientists who want to publish papers on this topic are met with derision and their careers are instantly destroyed. It would appear that only the most abstruse and ridiculously complicated postulates are accepted as possible candidates for relating physical forces and gravity. For instance the recent buzz about Garret Lisi's theory, its so ridiculously complicated its almost a joke. It requires the most complicated geometric shape known to man, whose shape was JUST RECENTLY COMPUTED and involves gigs of data. Anyone who knows anything about physics wonders how the hell this paper was ever taken seriously.

    believe me when I say, the story you are given with regards to physics research in this country is an elaborate theatrical performance. They have advanced knowledge of physics that is not accessible to the average person.
  • Re:2031?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bignetbuy (1105123) <r0ck&operamail,com> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:15PM (#21511439) Journal
    "Last time I checked the situation in Iraq has improved substantially. It appears that it's time for you to bark up some other tree."

    After almost a trillion dollars and 4000 US deaths, it damn well better have.

    What did we get out of it? Gas is more expensive then ever. There are now 25,000+ soliders who are crippled. Country can't even see the top of the hole we buried ourselves into financially.

    Imagine what all that money could have done for the space race.

    And you complain about social security. Did your parents not accept social security checks when they retired? I bet they did -- which makes them a part of that "ponzi scheme." And when you retire, will you not accept social security checks? After all, you don't want to be associated with a ponzi scheme.

  • Re:2031?! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by david_bonn (259998) * <davidbonn@mac . c om> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:27PM (#21511577) Homepage Journal
    There's probably more to it than lack of will.

    I think the major problem is that everyone has massively underestimated the cost and technical complexity of building reliable launch systems. We have even more massively underestimated the technical complexity of building inexpensive launch systems. Yes, there are some smart people working on the problem, both in the private and public sector. Yes, there could be more money spent on development of better launch systems. Yes, NASA has turned into a somewhat lame organization (and at least part of the blame is that smart geeky dudes (almost always dudes) who used to gravitate to working for NASA usually end up working for high-tech companies and retiring young).

    Absent some really spectacular breakthroughs in materials science, propulsion systems, and the engineering of complex systems, though, I think we're kind of stuck. There is a glimmer of hope that nanotechnology might get us really high-efficiency fuels that are stable at room temperature and really lightweight and strong materials for building a spacecraft -- or for that matter building and handling a really enormous solar sail. The complexity problem is a lot tougher. Building a big clanking machine that is reliable enough to keep people alive in a viciously hostile environment for years isn't going to be easy. It isn't easy on the South Pole (comparably an idyllic environment as opposed to the surface of Mars, much less interplanetary space). As far as I can tell, the major accomplishment of the folks on ISS is keeping themselves alive. No doubt a worthy prospect but not what we were sold on.

    Yes, you could build a space elevator. If you had those cool materials and a cheaper launch system.
  • Re:2031?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:40PM (#21511753)
    Just think, when Kim Stanley Robinson released Red Mars he settled the first Mars mission in the late teens and colonization in 2024, intending to be on the safe side in his future chronology compared to much science-fiction.

    Well, he was wrong. I don't know that you can compare speculative fiction to reality in this manner and I certainly don't think you can use any writer's vision of the future as a benchmark for progress. After all no matter how educated and imaginative the writer is, he is still creating his own world in the end, one where present-day technological problems have been conveniently solved.

    Think about it, even if we were gung-ho from the Apollo days do you think full-scale colonization of another planet by thousands of humans would really be possible in 2024? He made assumptions about breakthroughs and advancements that may be a century away in a best-case scenario.
  • Re:2031?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sloppy (14984) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:41PM (#21511771) Homepage Journal

    And now our lack of vision as a nation..

    Dude, what the fuck are you talking about? There's no lack of vision. You sound like you have plenty of it.

    It's lack of desire to make the tradeoff, pay the cost. How much are you personally willing to pay, to send someone?

    Ok, maybe you decided to chip in a few thousand dollars out of your own pocket -- you're willing to eat Ramen for 3 months every year, or give up internet access, or otherise bear that cost at expense to your life style. But now imagine you're not a science-valuing nerd. How much are you willing to pay then?

    Answer: as a non-nerd, you're willing to pay about as much as a nerd is willing to pay for $USELESS_GOVERNMENT_PROGRAM. (Fill in that var with something you don't like. Maybe it's the war in Iraq. Maybe it's cancer cure research. Maybe it's tobacco farm subsidies. Surely there's something the government spends money on that you don't feel is worth the expense.)

    We have plenty of vision. What we don't have, is consensus on what things are worth. Going to Mars is "cool" but it's not worth the same amount of sacrifice to everyone. And that's a pretty good reason to keep government out of this. Let people pay what they want to pay. Now go write your check and eat your Ramen.

  • Re:2031?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:42PM (#21511813) Homepage Journal
    "And you complain about social security. Did your parents not accept social security checks when they retired? I bet they did -- which makes them a part of that "ponzi scheme." And when you retire, will you not accept social security checks? After all, you don't want to be associated with a ponzi scheme."

    You know....if they would let me out of the system, even at my age...I'd sign away any and all benefits I have coming to me though SS (if it last long enough)....I'd do it if they'd let me take all that money and invest it on my own.

    I'd be more than happy to take my chances in retirement with what I can do with that money vs what the gov. is doing with it in a heartbeat.

  • Re:2031?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @07:59PM (#21512047) Homepage Journal
    "It's nice to think about, but the government knows full well that the bulk of Americans would not properly invest the 14-odd percent and would piss it away on stuff like tobacco, booze, candy bars, videos, and other toys and non-essentials."

    You know....freedom also means freedom to fail, and freedom to fuckup. I dunno what happened to personal responsibility, such things are what grew the US to greatness (although I sadly think we're now on a downhill slope). I think if you wanna take drugs and blast your mind out...feel free brother. If you wanna blow all your money on 'bling' and live beyond your means, go ahead brother. In a free country, you SHOULD be allowed to do that, but, alas we're not.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem really...with taking a little aside, for the truly infirmed, and those that can't work, but, if there are those that don't wanna work or whatever, well, life is tough.

    But really...when the hell did it become the US governements place to 'take care' of us in spite of ourselves? That's not what the country was built on....ingenuity, and self motivation and personal independence, those are what drove the country. Now...we're just all getting soft....

  • Re:2031?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcrbids (148650) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @08:01PM (#21512091) Journal
    And now our lack of vision as a nation and bureaucratical hassles have pushed the date even beyond that. It's a sad time to be an American. If only we had the drive of the Apollo era.

    It's in a bold step of aggressive direction that the 'Prez has led us to this great vision of greatness, to reach Mars sometime in about 15 years! Children not even born yet will be in Junior High when we make it!

    Er, not.

    This is just political posturing. The lame-duck President gets kudos for being "visionary" without actually doing anything but talking out his arse. NASA gets some (much needed) press, and the Chinese get a message that maybe we aren't completely out of the race to space round II.

    But it means nothing, the administration will change, priorities will change LONG before we even get a prototype ANYTHING constructed, and the "vision of the trip" to Mars is half-hearted, even if its proponents aren't.

    Personally, this hurts all involved since NASA will end up with ANOTHER black eye of "Well, you didn't get us to Mars, either, did you!" while the real underlying problem, which is that NASA gets about 1/2 of 1% of the budget that the US Military gets. [thespacereview.com]

    But most people think of NASA as this huge, labyrinthine gubbmint agency with nearly unlimited dollars. But when you look at it, we spend 200 times as much money killing people as we spend putting anybody in space.

    And yet, space projects have had an amazing ROI. For example, the amount of money spent deploying the GPS system is dwarfed by the taxes earned by all the products and services based on the GPS system, notwithstanding its original military-oriented benefits. Research that went into solar panels, rechargeable batteries, materials research, etc. continue to provide incredible economic benefits today, year after year.

    It's like somebody upstairs is intentionally shooting us all in the collective foot - just pisses me off to no end.
  • Re:2031?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by earthforce_1 (454968) <earthforce_1@yaho o . com> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @08:03PM (#21512101) Journal

    What is sad, is that we could be on the ground there before 2015 if it was budgeted like the Iraq war.
  • Re:2031?! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Simonetta (207550) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @08:43PM (#21512485)
    Actually 2231 is more like it. We have some prescheduled things arranged for 2031 that don't include billions of dollars spent on a trip to a red dot in the night sky. Which is all that Mars is. To us. Here. On earth.

        Earth that is running out of oil. Earth that is on the verge of massive climatic change due to massive CO2 overproduction in the 20th century and the first quarter of the 21st. Earth that is so overpopulated in regards to the local economies that major religions are putting aside spirituality in order to replace it with mass suicide-warrior cults. Earth where melting ice caps threaten to disrupt ocean currents to the point of creating new ice-ages for our most productive regions.

        Are these problems solvable? Sure. Will they be solved? Not a fucking chance! This is where some bozo jumps up and says that this is the exact reason that we need a space program to preserve the earth's civilization and science because the earth is doomed.

        But with all that will be on the plate by 2031, there isn't going to be enough resources left to entertain such fantasies as Mars travel.

        Basically, Mars travel fantasies for 2031 are what flying-car fantasies by 2007 were in the 1960's.

        Realistically, by 2031, we'll be lucky to get the broken windows at the local McDonald's fixed. By 2031, there will be another three billion people wanting to come to your town and either kill you for some idiot god or take your job. By 2031, all the new cardboard and sheet-rock $750000 new McMansions built in the early 2000's will be rotting slums. And all the people who bought them will be bankrupt. Which means they aren't going to be paying taxes for fantasy space voyages. Because all the money that they do manage to pay in taxes will be going to pay for the Iraq war, which will be by then just a distant memory. But the 30-year notes will be due, and no one is going to buying the new US Treasury notes that were expected to replace them. With US dollar so worthless that it takes a hundred of them to buy a loaf of bread.

        Mars voyages by 2031? Absurd. Try 2231. Start thinking of the 1000 year future.
  • by sethstorm (512897) * on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @09:41PM (#21513019) Homepage

    You know....freedom also means freedom to fail, and freedom to fuckup
    That is how violent unrest forms. That is, the kind that says "believe in the Holy Market or be punished heavily for your blasphemy". When you can easily engineer permanent values of "fuckup", that is why there are said safety nets.

    I dunno what happened to personal responsibility, such things are what grew the US to greatness
    For the larger part, that mostly happened with your hated regulations in place.

    (although I sadly think we're now on a downhill slope)
    Repeal "Right to Work" laws, and remove Taft-Hartley permanently. Barring people from collective bargaining does you no good.

    But really...when the hell did it become the US governements place to 'take care' of us in spite of ourselves?
    When it has been proven that self interest is too fickle to rely upon.

    That's not what the country was built on....ingenuity, and self motivation and personal independence, those are what drove the country. Now...we're just all getting soft..
    That same independence can also be interpreted the other way as well.
    Indeed we are getting soft, it is due to prostituting this nation's sovereignty with globalization(in its current form).

  • Re:2031?! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by breagerey (758928) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @09:54PM (#21513117)
    Answer: as a non-nerd, you're willing to pay about as much as a nerd is willing to pay for $USELESS_GOVERNMENT_PROGRAM. (Fill in that var with something you don't like. Maybe it's the war in Iraq. Maybe it's cancer cure research. Maybe it's tobacco farm subsidies. Surely there's something the government spends money on that you don't feel is worth the expense.)

    We have plenty of vision. What we don't have, is consensus on what things are worth.


    Actually, your illustustration of different people valuing different things is the perfect argument FOR government to engage in things like space exploration.

    If we all waited for the dust to settle over whether we should have a highway between points X and Y, or for sewage service to be provided in the *whole town, or any number of other things, the progress of our society would slow to a crawl.

    A principle function of govt is to provide infrastructure that benefits the growth of society... even when the majority of society doesn't see that infrastructure as worthwhile.
  • Re:BVLLSH1T! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @10:00PM (#21513165)


    "NASA does not have the funding it had during the apollo era, so they are doing the best they can on low budgets"


    The whole manned space program from mercury to apollo cost $25 billion.


    Each Saturn 5 cost $100 million.


    Contrast that with the "reusable" space shuttle that has to be pretty much rebuilt from the ground up after every mision - $500 million dollars a flight.


    Add to that that the Saturn 5 has 5x the payload capacity (125,000 kg into LEO) of the shuttle (25,000 kg) and this doesn't add the posibbility of increasing the Saturn 5 payload capacity with SRBs, to between 250,000kg and 350,000 kg)... even taking into account inflation, the shuttle is what has been bleeding NASA. A modified Saturn 5 would need a lot fewer missions to assemble shit in orbit, like the ISS.

    You are completely full of bullshit.

    * Each Saturn V would cost around $500 million today due to inflation. That is for the rocket alone.
    * Comparing the payload capacity of the Saturn V to the Space Shuttle is misleading. You are comparing an empty rocket to a spacecraft. If you compared the Apollo stack, they you would realize that the Apollo stack only had a few tons of payload ability outside of the spacecraft itself while each Shuttle mission has over 20 tons of payload ability. If you are talking about total mass put into space then you would note that the orbiter weighs over 60 tons.
    * The Saturn V wasn't the only spacecraft that had upgrade options that were never used. There were payload and heavier lift upgrades to the Space Shuttle that were never implemented.
    * You don't double or triple the payload capacity of a vehicle the size of the Saturn V with a couple of strap on boosters. It would take a complete redesign. You might be able to add something like 50 tons to its LEO payload capacity, but you aren't going to add 250 tons to a 100 ton rocket.

    I'm not a big fan of the Space Shuttle. But I am an even smaller fan of people who make shit up.
  • Re:Ares V? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bluesman (104513) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @10:28PM (#21513371) Homepage
    I guess the reason we stopped making such things is that they didn't really serve any purpose anymore.

    I'm kinda torn on this whole thing. I love NASA and the cool stuff they do, but the reason to put men on Mars is just gone. In the good old days, we wanted to show the USSR that we could rain nuclear hell on them from the fucking moon if we wanted to, and that served a significant purpose. But guys on Mars? Why? There's no economic, scientific, or otherwise reason other than being able to say, "hell yeah, we did it!"

    That might be reason enough, but why Mars then? Why not colonize the moon, which would be just as cool and probably less costly? How about exploring the ocean, which is nearly as difficult but would probably have a much greater impact?

  • by MrKaos (858439) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @11:42PM (#21513843) Journal

    that manned spaceflight is going to take a VERY long break. Perhaps a century or more.
    Let's hope not, because whether you realise it or not you are talking about the survival of our civilisation as we know it, and it won't be some benign "oh well we didn't make it into space, so lets just do something else". I hope you're wrong, so so wrong, because at best you are talking about a decline into orwellian nightmare and at worst a die-off of people NEVER seen in human history and thats presuming we don't get slugged by a space rock in the meantime. You won't be talking a century you are talking a millennia for us to recover from it - we need the resources, we need the redundancy, we need the energy, we need them now because our planet cannot sustain the human race in this mode of expansion - it's time to secure our survival.

    Want a taste of the reality your gripping there? If we don't build a space infrastructure Darwin's "survival of the fittest" will apply to our civilisation, which appears to be rotting from the inside out, because the idealogical structures we had put in place would not let us adapt. We will rapidly reach the capability of this planet to sustain us and the change to our civilisation will make it unrecognisable, then the decline will begin.

    If you are right future archeologist's will discover our remains and mourn the potential of what could have been, the remains of our architecture and industry. They will wonder why we didn't choose to go into space whilst we had the opportunity and resources, instead of crawling on our knees. Humanity will be reduced to a shadow of what it is today, and perhaps when there is a only a few hundred million of us left and we forget who we were - they eventually will go to the moon themselves, set themselves up and they will find us there to, and maybe on mars and they will expend a great deal of energy trying to understand WHY didn't we choose to advance beyond what were are today, why we chose to suffer.

    How interested do you think people will be in creating a Space infrastructure when our survival depends on it? Yes, I mean WHEN. The key issue at hand is whether we still have the capabilities and resources to make those choices when the realisation becomes reality.

    They are the very frightening facts that you overlook - we either get of this rock or we die.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:17AM (#21514081)
    War has cost $1 TRILLION over just a few years, and hasn't produced anything of value, whereas the space program has produced all kinds of spin-off technologies and economic benefits.

    Rose-colored glasses: military R&D technology is "waste", NASA R&D technology has "economic benefits".

  • Re:2031?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Peeteriz (821290) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @03:44AM (#21515397)
    Well, it won't happen - because a lot of people, when given this opportunity, would fail in securing their social security; and then when they are in need and without income, what happens? Does the goverment let them starve or offer euthanasia, since no SS funds are available for them?

    The successful, healthy, and able people would opt out, since it would benefit them. And the less successful would either die or come to rob your house. (I am exaggerating, of course, but it would greatly increase the social differences, and this would hurt society a lot.)

When the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the plane, the plane will fly. -- Donald Douglas

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