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NASA Government Space News Politics

Obama Moves To Link Pentagon With NASA 491

Posted by Soulskill
from the thought-they-wanted-to-save-money dept.
Amiga Trombone sends this quote from the beginning of a story at Bloomberg: "President-elect Barack Obama will probably tear down long-standing barriers between the US's civilian and military space programs to speed up a mission to the moon amid the prospect of a new space race with China. Obama's transition team is considering a collaboration between the Defense Department and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration because military rockets may be cheaper and ready sooner than the space agency's planned launch vehicle, which isn't slated to fly until 2015, according to people who've discussed the idea with the Obama team."
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Obama Moves To Link Pentagon With NASA

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  • Story Inaccuracies (Score:5, Informative)

    by olafva (188481) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @10:02AM (#26319991) Homepage

    Check NASAWatch [nasawatch.com] to see some inacuracies in this Bloomberg story.

  • Re:Fourth Branch? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Timosch (1212482) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @10:14AM (#26320053)
    6) NOAA Corps
    7) PHSCC

    Uniformed services of the United States [wikipedia.org]
  • by Mordant (138460) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @10:23AM (#26320109)

    What's maddening is that nobody involved in this debate seems to realize that:

    1. We solved resonance and pogoing issues in the 1960s vis-a-vis the Saturn V stack.

    2. We can simply dust off the Apollo 18-20 J-series mission plans and the Apollo X/ALSS/AES/LESA studies, and execute them.

    3. All we need to actually get back to the Moon is a Saturn V stack updated with newer materials and automation technologies.

    4. SRBs are insanely dangerous due to their non-throttalability, and should not be man-rated beyond the poorly-designed Shuttle stack.

    We knew all this *more than 40 years ago* (we ignored the SRB issue back then, which led directly to Challenger); how can these people be so ignorant?!

    Here's a link [si.edu] to just a few of the studies which were done of follow-on missions. Here are links to Apollo X [astronautix.com], ALSS [astronautix.com], AES [astronautix.com], and LESA [astronautix.com].

    Stephen Baxter's Voyage [amazon.com] is an interesting alternate history based upon some of these mission plans (although he's way too hard on the Germans, IMHO).

    The bottom line - if NASA want to go back to the Moon (far better to offer a $20B X-Prize for the first organization to put 30 men on the Moon for a year and a day, and return them safely to Earth), all they have to do is to start building modernized Saturn Vs, Apollo CMs, SMs, & LMs.

  • Re:hallelujah ! (Score:5, Informative)

    by hardburn (141468) <hardburn@@@wumpus-cave...net> on Sunday January 04, 2009 @11:39AM (#26320605)

    What I found odd in this story is that the DoD's space budget is $22B. NASA requested a $17.6B budget for FY2009 [nasa.gov]. WTF? Does the DoD even do anything past LEO/polar orbits?

  • by qbast (1265706) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @11:41AM (#26320629)

    The government always needs a boogeyman to keep us off-balance. The cold war with Russia carried it for a while.

    I don't think the populations of the countries that were effectively annexed by the Soviet Union thought of them as a mere bogeyman. The Cold War came about when the Soviet Union refused to honor her wartime agreements and decided to annex Eastern Europe.

    Funny, but it is not how it is remembered in those countries. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Betrayal [wikipedia.org] . It was Roosvelt and Churchill who sold whole Central and Eastern Europe to Stalin in Yalta. 'Refusal to honor wartime agreements' is just an attempt to rewrite history.

  • Re:yay.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by thermopile (571680) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @11:41AM (#26320631) Homepage
    To add to that "influenced enormously" comment...

    The whole reason the Space Transportation System (STS, or just "space shuttle") looks the way it does is entirely due to now-defunct military requirements. When they were designing the shuttle, the DoD had a requirement to be able to place a payload in polar orbit and return to Earth in one orbit, in order to "secretly" deploy spy satellites. This is hard. No, really, this is very hard. The earth is spinning "sideways" and it takes a tremendous amount of impulse (read: fuel) to change your orbit from sideways to vertical. Then you have to land again.

    NASA, dutiful organization that it was, came up with the idea of "tacking" the orbiter on the side. And they gave it wings. This was the only way they could get the crew-carrying module to safely glide back to its original destination.

    About 5 years into the design, the DoD said, "No, thanks, we don't want that system anymore," and left NASA holding the bag. So, we're stuck with this design where the re-entry surface is exposed to the outside during launch (nobody else does that). The engines on the orbiter remain the highest energy-dense engines ever developed.

    For more trivia, see here [wikipedia.org].

  • by durdur (252098) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @12:04PM (#26320829)

    Sucks for the people who were going to retire soon but if they were going to retire next year why the hell did they have so many investments in equities?

    That's a good question. The general answer is that most retired investors need their portfolio to generate a return at least equal to inflation, over time. Historically cash has a negative return after inflation and bonds are maybe break-even at best. But last year all that went out the window. Stocks have had a 1-year negative return that's almost unprecedented and even high-grade bonds have taken a hit. Plus markets over the world are down, not just the U.S. So, while generally cash is a bad place to be, long-term, last year nothing else was any good. That still doesn't mean, though, that you should keep your nest egg under the mattress: over the long term you'll see no net growth and your retirement income will shrink, net inflation.

  • Re:Fourth Branch? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Xolotl (675282) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @12:36PM (#26321071) Journal
    Wkipedia disagrees United_States_Armed_Forces [wikipedia.org]
  • by witherstaff (713820) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @12:36PM (#26321079) Homepage

    I like the story of gamma rays first being detected because we were looking for evidence of the Soviets using Nukes on the Moon [spacedaily.com]. DoD projects that help develop tech for NASA projects could be a good thing.

    As long as they don't start developing plans for bringing liberty to the hydrocarbon rich [universetoday.com] populace of Titan.

  • Re:hallelujah ! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dolphinzilla (199489) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @12:40PM (#26321117) Journal

    truth be known - NASA and the DoD have had a pretty close relation ship over the years - in fact virtually all the planetary exploration missions have been launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station - the only pads operating from Kennedy Space Center proper are the shuttle pads. There have also been DoD specific missions on the space shuttle and on past Skylab missions. I think the move to put the space program under DoD auspices would serve more to share engineering, management, etc. as well as put the technology under better control from industrial espionage perspective. personally I don't think its a bad idea at all...

  • dod (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 04, 2009 @12:54PM (#26321229)

    The DOD black budget is over 30 billion per annum now, as of 2007 figures I just looked at. Do you know what is in it? I don't. And it has been in the billions going all the way back, so add it up, half a trillion and change over the past few decades. That's enough to keep a little advanced space R and D going in there some place. Nasa for 2008 is 17 billion, and I would presume that any black budget efforts in space wouldn't have to be totally sourced within the black budget, a whole lot of the tech that could be used could just be schlepped over, they don't have to "develop" every single rivet or engine, etc in the black budget, just the interesting bits. A regular adapted airliner or b-52 can haul another craft, so something smaller than the shuttle but larger than the old x series of planes could be hauled up to drop point with off the shelf airframes. If Scaled Composites can get to suborbital for mere millions in a few years and a small handful of techs, the DOD could certainly already have something that could get to NEO given their budget and *half a century* lead time using similar mothership to dropship tech. Anyway, we have leaked names, aurora, brilliant buzzard, tr-3b. I say where's there's smoke, there's fire, and they certainly would have the motive and intent, plus the means as regards funding and secret facilities, plus a past track record of not only developing one off advanced prototypes, but actually deploying small fleets before it got released to the public, sometimes even at multi years level. How long were the nighthawk and spirit flying before they admitted to owning them, or the sr-71?

    What I said, don't dismiss the notion out of hand, look at all the tantalizing clues plus the obviousness of how much they would want something like that as part of their total package. Robots and computers are damn useful, but sometimes there's no substitute for having a meat sack on the job someplace.

  • Re:hallelujah ! (Score:2, Informative)

    by brezel (890656) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @12:59PM (#26321257) Homepage

    star trek is also a tv show. ^^

  • Unlawful (Score:3, Informative)

    by Baldrson (78598) * on Sunday January 04, 2009 @02:23PM (#26321859) Homepage Journal
    TITLE 42--THE PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELFARE

    CHAPTER 141--COMMERCIAL SPACE OPPORTUNITIES AND TRANSPORTATION SERVICES

    SUBCHAPTER II--FEDERAL ACQUISITION OF SPACE TRANSPORTATION SERVICES

    Sec. 14731. Requirement to procure commercial space transportation services

    (a) In general

    Except as otherwise provided in this section, the Federal Government shall acquire space transportation services from United States commercial providers whenever such services are required in the course of its activities. To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers.

    http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=105_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ303.105.pdf [gpo.gov]

  • Re:Fourth Branch? (Score:4, Informative)

    by jmauro (32523) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @03:32PM (#26322405)

    USCG is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and not currently part of the DoD since we are actually at "war".

    The USCG was also transfered from the Department of Transportation and not Commerce on the creation of the DHS.

    It is also considered one of the five (5) armed services under the US Code with the Marines as well (even though the Marines are administrated under the Department of the Navy due to historical reasons).

  • Re:hallelujah ! (Score:3, Informative)

    by jmauro (32523) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @03:36PM (#26322427)

    Dude. It's all on the TV [wikipedia.org] ever week. There is no secret here, so spill the beans.

  • by Thing 1 (178996) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @03:53PM (#26322585) Journal

    Hi Shakrai,

    I have a couple things to share. I'm a decade older than you, and wished I had know what you have expressed so far when I was your age so good for you! I've also learned a few other things which might help you.

    First, an answer to your question: the reason I would choose the 30-year mortgage over the 15-year mortgage is that the payment is lower, so if I've fallen on hard times one month and can make the lower payment but not the higher payment, then I'm ahead. (Of course times could be so tough that I can't make the lower payment as well, but that's always the case and this way gives me some buffer.) Then, I'd pay the 15-year payment amount towards the 30-year mortgage whenever I can, so that best-case I'll still pay it off in 15 years, and will also have some buffer if I need it. I've also sold the bi-weekly mortgage package back in college, where they collect every two weeks and then pay a 13th payment at the end of the year (because there are 52 weeks in a year = 26 collections every two weeks, divide that by 2 and 13 months' worth of payments). Many people are paid weekly or every other week, so this mortgage payment setup would align better in terms of cash flow. This didn't sell well, of course, because as soon as I described it they asked, "couldn't we just make the payments ourselves?" So now I'm in software. :)

    You mentioned individual stocks. I have just begun to invest using the VectorVest toolchain. This is not an ad for them and I'm in no way associated, other than as a very happy customer. I've been following the company for 7 or 8 years, have done their 5-week trial twice, but never had money to invest. Since the beginning of November, I have begun investing. I've had returns of approximately: 20%, 30%, 25%, a loss of 10%, and am in the middle of a trade that's up over 20%. Each "trade" is a set of 5 or 10 stocks or contra ETFs (exchange-traded fund, like a mutual fund for the Dow or S "contra" means they short the exchange's stocks, so you make money when the market goes down even though you're still taking a "long" position, so someone who cannot qualify for a margin account (necessary in order to short stocks) can still make money in a down market). Each of the trades has a different time-frame; the 30% was two days, but generally they have been over a week or two, sometimes three. I'm not in the market every market day, perhaps half of them since 11/1/08. And, after some time invested learning the system and tools, I tend to spend a half hour or so a day managing these investments.

    It looks like we've entered a market upswing. According to their indicators, we will be able to know for sure on Wednesday.

    Debt is a vicious cycle and I am still working to eliminate mine. I'm glad that you've learned at such a comparatively young age that it is important.

  • by evilviper (135110) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @04:52PM (#26323077) Journal

    So, while generally cash is a bad place to be, long-term, last year nothing else was any good.

    Certificate of Deposit
    Money Market Accounts
    Individual Retirement Accounts
    etc.

    As long as you don't have more than the FDIC insured amount in any one bank, it's an EXTREMELY safe investment (even if there are rumors of your bank going under)... Safer than cash under your mattress, in fact. While interest rates weren't high this past year, by any means, (historic lows, really) it was easily better than the ZERO return you get with cash. Over the past year, I've been getting just shy of 4% at several different banks...

    Of course, now that the Fed is almost literally giving away free money, I'm sure rates are going to be drastically lower next time I check...

  • by quibbler (175041) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @05:11PM (#26323229)

    "I will not weaponize space." [youtube.com] (and technically, weaponize [merriam-webster.com] doesn't mean what his puppeteers think it means)

  • Re:hallelujah ! (Score:2, Informative)

    by icebrain (944107) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @06:46PM (#26324095)

    The shuttles are a bust, as unfortunate as that is.

    Irony: The shuttle is a bust, in part, because NASA whored itself out to the Air Force to get funding. The large delta wings, fragile thermal-protection system, extra-large payload bay, and heavy bringback capability all stem directly from USAF requirements. Had NASA gone with its own specs, the shuttle might have been cheaper, smaller, and safer. And to rub salt in the proverbial wound, the Air Force never used all the capability it asked for.

  • by khallow (566160) on Monday January 05, 2009 @02:26AM (#26327063)
    Please read up on this. The "military technology" (that is, the Atlas V and Delta IV rockets) is owned by the United Launch Alliance, a spin off from Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The DoD does not own any part of the ULA. NASA already uses [wikipedia.org] Atlas V launches for some of its space probes (New Horizons probe to Pluto and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter). And numerous commercial satellites have been launched on the Atlas V.

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