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Mars Space Science

Russia Aims Towards Mars 161

Posted by kdawson
from the red-planet-rising dept.
Iddo Genuth writes "Russia's Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) has announced its intentions to build a low-orbit space station which, according to the agency, will support future exploration of the moon and Mars. There's also a suggestion to extend the operational lifespan of the International Space Station by five more years, resetting its retirement date to 2020. The project proposal is already on its way for review by the Russian government. Some Russian sources also reportedly proposed the (rather ludicrous) idea of converting the ISS into some kind of an interplanetary transport vehicle, which would serve as the 'ultimate mother ship' in manned planetary missions to the moon or even Mars."
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Russia Aims Towards Mars

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  • Perfect! (Score:5, Funny)

    by russlar (1122455) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @11:07PM (#26860681)
    The Reds are going to the Red Planet!
  • by eagl (86459) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @11:16PM (#26860713) Journal

    Moving the ISS is not such a crazy idea at all, and it's been proposed already by some smart people as a way to increase moon mission payoffs and reduce mission risks. A series of orbit boosts could eventually lead to a transfer orbit and lunar orbital insertion. Once in lunar orbit it would be at reduced risk of damage from orbital trash. Yes, sending up resupply and crew swapouts would be more difficult, but remember we would already be doing that for manned lunar operations so it's really not that much of a stretch.

    Moving it to mars... Now that's a bit of a stretch but it might be possible with a propulsion efficiency breakthrough that could be powered by existing solar arrays or a bolt-on reactor. Still though, I think the idea of using it to support lunar operations might be an interesting idea especially as an alternative to letting it die after such a slow and expensive build-up with gross under-use as a science platform since it's been manned due to problems with the shuttle program.

    The big question is: Once the shuttle is out of the picture, why keep the ISS where it is? Why not just put it wherever it is the most useful?

    • by EdIII (1114411) * on Saturday February 14, 2009 @11:31PM (#26860779)

      Moving the ISS is not such a crazy idea at all

      You're right, it's not crazy. They have actually gone "plaid" instead. Sure, most of what you are saying is interesting and insightful. It just overlooks the fact that the ISS has been plagued with malfunctions and other serious problems. Quite frankly, it's the Yugo of space stations. Yeah, its "gets us there", but it is not something we want to "drive" across the Solar System.

      • What makes you think the next space station will be any better?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by geckipede (1261408)
      I've wanted to see the ISS moved to a higher orbit for a long time now, preferably to an equatorial orbit. It could be very useful as a place to store and assemble components of a Mars mission spacecraft if it were in an orbit that is in the same plane as the planetary-solar orbits. The problem is that to put it significantly higher it would either need very effective radiation shielding for the slow move through the van allen belts, or evacuation for the move followed by replacing all the electronics. A sl
      • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @01:34AM (#26861227)

        've wanted to see the ISS moved to a higher orbit for a long time now, preferably to an equatorial orbit. It could be very useful as a place to store and assemble components of a Mars mission spacecraft if it were in an orbit that is in the same plane as the planetary-solar orbits.

        Note that those two sentences are mutually exclusive. Equatorial orbit is NOT the plane of the ecliptic.

        • by ColaMan (37550) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @05:03AM (#26861859) Homepage Journal

          Never mind the fact that getting to an equatorial orbit from where the ISS is now is not easy.

          You can't easily turn your orbit 'left' or 'right'. Taking the extreme example, say you wanted to do a 90 degree left turn from the ISS's current orbit. You have to do two things simultaneously :

          - Lower your current forward velocity from it's current value of approx 7 kilometres/sec to zero.
          - Increase the velocity in the direction you want to travel from zero to 7 kilometres/sec.

          Let's just say that you're not going to be doing that with an ion thruster any time soon.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Paua Fritter (448250)

            You can do a left turn with an ion thruster. It's just that you have a very, very, wide turning circle.

          • Never mind the fact that getting to an equatorial orbit from where the ISS is now is not easy.

            You can't easily turn your orbit 'left' or 'right'. Taking the extreme example, say you wanted to do a 90 degree left turn from the ISS's current orbit. You have to do two things simultaneously :

            - Lower your current forward velocity from it's current value of approx 7 kilometres/sec to zero.
            - Increase the velocity in the direction you want to travel from zero to 7 kilometres/sec.

            Let's just say that you're not

    • by X0563511 (793323) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @11:48PM (#26860851) Homepage Journal

      The hard part of moving it to Mars, is not the propulsion system. Rockets work well.

      The issue is moving it without structural damage. You have to make sure that each module gets JUST the RIGHT amount of thrust relative to the others, so that the whole thing wants to move at the same delta. If one part's delta is off to much... crack!

      • by imasu (1008081)
        Might not be so bad. The thrust required to get it into a transfer orbit might not be so large, and it is not too difficult to think of ways to mitigate the modular asymmetry. For example, put the thruster on one side of the station CG, and on the other side, build out a boom that then supports all the individual modules via guy wires or cables. Not trivial, but probably easier than building a second station in the location you would want to move the ISS to.
      • by aliquis (678370)

        Can't one just accelerate really slow?

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        You're already adding rockets, and you can't see your way to adding some superstructure to keep the thing from disintegrating at the seams when it's moved? I don't think you've had enough coffee this morning.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by iminplaya (723125)

      Or even this [aip.org]

    • by imasu (1008081)
      I was just about to post this. Putting the ISS into a transfer orbit to move it to the moon has been discussed before and actually seems like an excellent idea to explore if we are planning for prolonged lunar missions in the future.
    • It was designed to do science in low orbit. It has shields, more Solar Cells, etc. It is far cheaper to send Bigelows to these various places, since it is much lighter. In addition, it would have higher efficiency solar cells, limited shielding (via water as well as more shields around quarters. In the end, it is far better to keep the ISS right where it is, keep testing our parts there as well as doing science, and then push new tech to Moon/Mars based on the lessons from ISS.
    • by DerekLyons (302214) <`fairwater' `at' `gmail.com'> on Sunday February 15, 2009 @01:10AM (#26861139) Homepage

      Moving the ISS is not such a crazy idea at all, and it's been proposed already by some smart people as a way to increase moon mission payoffs and reduce mission risks. A series of orbit boosts could eventually lead to a transfer orbit and lunar orbital insertion.

      You're right - it isn't a crazy idea. It's a barking-at-the-moon freakin' lunatic idea, proposed only by folks who are either crazy themselves or (being kind) utterly innocent of any acquaintance with the facts.
       
      To start with, the ISS isn't designed to be operated unmanned. Next, the electronics onboard ISS aren't shielded against the radiation in the Van Allen Belts. Lastly, it's thermal controls are designed for the warm conditions of LEO not the arctic icebox of lunar orbit.
       
      So yeah, in theory you could boost about 500 Shuttle loads of fuel and move it to Lunar orbit... In practice, it'll arrive there dead.
       
       

      Moving it to mars... Now that's a bit of a stretch but it might be possible with a propulsion efficiency breakthrough that could be powered by existing solar arrays or a bolt-on reactor.

      Sure, it's a stretch. Kind of like saying it's a stretch for me to fly from Seattle to New York by flapping my arms - though it might be possible for with a propulsion efficiency breakthrough, like strapping a 747 to my back.

      • by ColaMan (37550)

        Lastly, it's thermal controls are designed for the warm conditions of LEO not the arctic icebox of lunar orbit.

        I'm curious. Apart from the altitude, what's the difference between a 90 minute polar orbit around the moon as opposed to a 90 minute polar orbit around the earth?

        • by wes33 (698200)

          I'm curious. Apart from the altitude, what's the difference between a 90 minute polar orbit around the moon as opposed to a 90 minute polar orbit around the earth?

          Good question! But I doubt the OP will have the chutzpah to try to reply.
          I wonder what could make the lunar space environment so cold compared to
          the Earth space environment? Magic lunar icecubes? But why polar orbit?
          Approximately equatorial makes transfers easiest.

        • by DerekLyons (302214) <`fairwater' `at' `gmail.com'> on Sunday February 15, 2009 @01:31PM (#26864193) Homepage

          Lastly, it's thermal controls are designed for the warm conditions of LEO not the arctic icebox of lunar orbit.

          I'm curious. Apart from the altitude, what's the difference between a 90 minute polar orbit around the moon as opposed to a 90 minute polar orbit around the earth?

          Well, somewhat simplified they can be compared this way: 90 miles above the Earth, the ISS 'sees' (thermally) the warm Earth beneath it. (Think of how it feels standing near a bonfire.) 90 miles above the moon, the moon fills much less of the sky, and while warmer on the day side is much (much) colder on the night side. (Think standing in front of a small electric heater.)
           
          People are used to thinking only in terms of the sun when it comes to thermal environment of space, but that is the result of years of journalistic simplifications. (I know you've heard it too - "blazing hot in the sun, freezing cold in the dark".) In reality, its a bit more complicated than that.

    • by PachmanP (881352)
      Actually, when you do the math, moving the ISS is pretty crazy. The mass of the fuel needed to move it any where useful and the amount of trips needed to move all of the stuff up there is pretty ridiculous. Although, if I remember correctly that's with rockets, and if you use some theoretical/experimental higher thrust electric stuff you are only "take away the scissors" crazy vs "lock up and throw away the key" crazy.
    • Moving it to mars... Now that's a bit of a stretch but it might be possible with a propulsion efficiency breakthrough that could be powered by existing solar arrays or a bolt-on reactor. Still though, I think the idea of using it to support lunar operations might be an interesting idea especially as an alternative to letting it die after such a slow and expensive build-up with gross under-use as a science platform since it's been manned due to problems with the shuttle program.

      Please tell me what will protect the humans onboard from cosmic radiation once they leave the Van Allen belts. Or do you propose wrapping the whole thing in a meter of lead?

  • If they turn the ISS into a space transport, they can reuse the engines when the space transport shuttle program is retired.
  • Ludicrous? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sweet_petunias_full_ (1091547) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @11:28PM (#26860763)

    I suppose *some* people would be upset if a Russian booster rocket took the ISS out of orbit without telling anyone, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it ludicrous. If the U.S. doesn't pay Russia to boost the ISS during the shuttle's downtime, Russia may have no choice but to pull a repo job on it.

    In space, no one can hear you... nevermind.

    • by v1 (525388)

      I was wondering why the OP says that too. It's already got about everything you'd need for an extended stay in space, and it's a proven technology. The only serious problem I see for it is it's not designed to be rapidly accelerated for a fast trip, structurally wise. But having all that gear already in orbit surely would give things a head start. Getting an interplanetary ship into earth orbit is the majority of the time and expense involved and we already have a lot of that done if we try to recycle t

      • by Rei (128717)

        Who needs rapid acceleration? Slow and steady. ISS can already withstand the sort of thrust used in stationkeeping maneuvers, which should be plenty. Perhaps they could even use something like a larger version of VASIMR for the cruise stage -- 50-100N thrust (current version is ~5N).

        Since ISS wouldn't be able to withstand aerocapture, and humans wouldn't be up to slow, multi-month aerobraking maneuvers, you'll need a braking stage. Same for Earth departure, return, and insertion -- but nothing with a hu

        • by timeOday (582209)

          Since ISS wouldn't be able to withstand aerocapture, and humans wouldn't be up to slow, multi-month aerobraking maneuvers, you'll need a braking stage.

          If you planned the trajectory right, couldn't you just fall into orbit around mars or the moon? Since gravity accelerates (or decelerates) all parts of the station equally, there would be no strain on it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Rei (128717)

            You need to lose the energy you used to get there. Technically it's possible to be captured without burning any energy except for course correction maneuvers and leaving Earth orbit, but you want to be going far faster than that. Generally things going to Mars are either aerocaptured or aerobrake, sometimes in addition to a kick stage. Aerobraking would take too long for humans, and ISS can't be aerocaptured. You need a kick stage.

      • "it's not designed to be rapidly accelerated for a fast trip, structurally wise"

        No, but an orbit that would be helpful for lunar exploration wouldn't require jarringly fast acceleration. For Mars it would be more tricky because you would probably want to send the people in a fast spacecraft to minimize the radiation exposure. The ISS could still be used as a conveniently large cargo container sent ahead of time. Of course, it would have to take the slow track to Mars, IIRC, a slingshot [wikipedia.org] that uses Venus

      • by nizo (81281) *

        Take it apart again? Send up the rocket parts, some structural parts, and rip off bits of the ISS and reassemble. Seems plausible anyway, and better than watching the whole thing burn up.

    • Russia is suppose to boost it AND pay for it. But, America DOES have options. In particular, we have the ability to use a simple 5 mile cable to pull it up electrically. Of course, that would mean taking power away from the Russian side. Likewise, I suspect that if Russia were to not uphold that end, we would just pay EU to launch a few more of their ATVs which can last at least 6 months and have plenty of boost.

      Finally, I suspect that L-Mart, Boeing, Orbital and SpaceX can come up with quick ability to do
      • by sumdumass (711423)

        I wouldn't be to surprised if the air force didn't have something capable tucked away somewhere. Sure, it would be a last ditch, I finally got to let people know about it scenario but they already mirror a lot of what NASA does.

    • by Venik (915777)
      Dude, where's my space station?
    • by nametaken (610866)

      "In space, no one can hear you... nevermind."

      Steal a space station? :)

  • And then (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kingrames (858416) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @11:28PM (#26860765)
    Mars, ever eager to fight, aims right the fuck back.
  • by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @11:31PM (#26860781) Homepage Journal

    Russia is ALWAYS announcing things like this - Klipr, manned Mars missions, etc. I've lost track of how many times they've "announced" they're going to Mars, or some other huge project.

    The reason why this keeps happening is because in part we in the west are misunderstanding the way the Russian space program works.

    They don't announce plans in the way for example NASA would. In Russia, they continually plan these things, then float out the ideas to see if they can get support and funding - and in the last 20 years or so, international investment.
    If they DON'T get funders to sign on, it goes nowhere, and in a year or so they trot out another proposal.

    This is NOT an announcement of a plan, it's a marketing pitch. They're saying "we could do this, anyone out there wanna pay for it?"

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Artraze (600366)

      It's just as well though. Think of how disappointing it would be if they did launch something all that way only that have it collide with the polar orbiter upon arrival...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drolli (522659)
      Thats pretty much the same for space programs in the west.
  • Weird... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nicopa (87617) <nico.lichtmaier@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Saturday February 14, 2009 @11:34PM (#26860797)

    In soviet space, you can hear no one screaming...

    (!)

  • by speedtux (1307149) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @11:40PM (#26860809)

    but sometimes they hit Georgia.

  • by BlueStrat (756137) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @11:52PM (#26860877)

    It's quite ironic that it looks like the only thing that will save US manned spaceflight & planetary exploration from becoming a sacrificial lamb on the altar of pork & payoffs by short-sighted, corrupt US politicians may well be a re-emerging, hostile, and aggressive Russia.

    It looks like it may be more effective for US citizens who are in favor of NOT letting our manned spaceflight capabilities die from neglect to, rather than contributing money to any US politicians or organizations, donate money to the Russian spaceflight program instead.

    It seems that US politicians have so abandoned any pretense of doing the will of the people, of upholding & defending the US Constitution, and acting in the countries' best interests, that we may in future find it much more effective to donate money to our various enemies and rivals like Russia, Al Queda, and Ahmadinejad to preserve our freedom and prevent our politicians from doing things like de-funding NASA and the US military to fund their pork-filled, quid-pro-quo/payoff-laden, "bridge to nowhere" projects and social-engineering experiments designed to increase their voter-base.

    Cheers!

    Strat

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by imasu (1008081)

      Why not let (extraorbital) US Manned Spaceflight die for now?

      Before you reply, consider for a moment the relative gains we have gotten from things like Hubble, Cassini, the mars rovers, Japan's Hinode solar satellite, etc, to what we have achieved with the ISS and the projected goals of Orion, versus the costs of the programs.

      I have a strong knee-jerk reaction against letting manned spaceflight die too; dammit, I *want* people to walk on Mars. But the fact is, we are learning a hell of a lot from unman

      • by BlueStrat (756137) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @03:58AM (#26861677)

        We can resurrect the idea of extraorbital manned missions at any time...

        Respectfully, this is where you are wrong.

        The learned skills and experienced personnel will not wait around. If they aren't used, they will be lost and have to be entirely re-learned and replaced again with the attendant costs in wealth, time, and lives. The engineers with the necessary skills and experience will have to find other employment and careers, which they won't simply drop to return whenever it again becomes politically expedient to start up extra-orbital manned spaceflight again.

        A manned spaceflight program, and especially an extra-orbital manned spaceflight program, can't simply be put on 'hold' for years and have any hope of retaining viability without almost starting completely over from scratch again. This has already been proven by our inability to build a modernized Saturn V again. Heck, we can't even *find* all the old plans anymore!

        Young people choosing education and career paths won't be choosing those that provide the skills necessary if there's not a viable career waiting for them. It will require a whole new generation of people to be educated and then more years to re-gain all the experience and learned skills lost.

        We will, out of pure necessity, *have to* eventually have an extra-orbital manned spaceflight program. We can choose to do it now, or we can procrastinate and raise the inevitable eventual costs in lives and treasure, and possibly cost ourselves our species' ultimate survival.

        Not trying to be insulting, but don't be penny-wise and pound-foolish. For a tiny fraction of the treasure wasted in the "stimulus" package just passed (and assuming that only a fraction of the total package is "waste"), we could have *both* types of programs fully-funded and running in parallel, each benefiting and complimenting the other. The combined economic, technical, and societal benefits of which I guarantee will dwarf anything this stimulus package could ever hope to do.

        Cheers!

        Strat

        • Not trying to be insulting, but don't be penny-wise and pound-foolish. For a tiny fraction of the treasure wasted in the "stimulus" package just passed (and assuming that only a fraction of the total package is "waste"), we could have *both* types of programs fully-funded and running in parallel

          There is no "fully funded" in unmanned space exploration. There are hundreds of targets we should be exploring and that we are technologically ready to explore, and we should be working our first interstellar probe.

          • by BlueStrat (756137)

            There is no "fully funded" in unmanned space exploration.

            There's actually never any "fully-funded" for any type of research or exploration. There are always more things that could be done.

            There are hundreds of targets we should be exploring and that we are technologically ready to explore, and we should be working our first interstellar probe.

            This is not an either/or problem. There's no reason other than political posturing and pork-barrel spending why both manned and unmanned programs couldn't be seriousl

            • This is not an either/or problem. There's no reason other than political posturing and pork-barrel spending why both manned and unmanned programs couldn't be seriously pursued.

              Yes, there is: every dollar we spend on manned space exploration is more effectively spent on unmanned exploration right now; the resulting scientific and engineering insights will accelerate both unmanned and manned space exploration.

              If you're that much of a monster that you're ok with sentencing a whole new crop of poor schmoes to r

              • by BlueStrat (756137)

                It's people like you that condemned us to a failed space shuttle program and "space stations" and that have held back space exploration by decades. If it weren't for your irrational insistence on constantly putting men into tin cans, we probably would have orbiting space habitats and manned interplanetary travel right now.

                So, tell me O wise one, how the frak do you expect to keep anyone alive in a space habitat or how do we insure men would be able to successfully survive & complete an interplanetary mi

                • by jipn4 (1367823)

                  We've already progressed past '60s tech...or did you miss the shuttle program? If we let what we've learned atrophy from disuse

                  We have learned little that is relevant to the future of manned space flight because developments in material science, propulsion, biotech, and AI are making the technologies that our manned space program has been built on so far obsolete.

                  In 50 years, manned space flight will be easy even if we don't invest a dime in it until then, because a lot of necessary technologies will have b

                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    by BlueStrat (756137)

                    In 50 years, manned space flight will be easy even if we don't invest a dime in it until then, because a lot of necessary technologies will have been developed for other uses.

                    What you're overlooking here is that it isn't *just* hardware & tech that's involved here. It's learning how humans themselves react to long periods in space and how best to make sure the people not only arrive at their destination, but arrive alive, healthy, and sane. There is no way to reliably model or simulate how humans may re

                    • by jipn4 (1367823)

                      What you're overlooking here is that it isn't *just* hardware & tech that's involved here. It's learning how humans themselves react to long periods in space and how best to make sure the people not only arrive at their destination, but arrive alive, healthy, and sane.

                      What you're overlooking is that these human factors are being worked out as part of medical research anyway. And it's going to take a few decades whether or not we have a manned space program.

                      [Unmanned space probes] cannot think outside t

                    • by BlueStrat (756137)

                      Me: I'm quite familiar with the history and science of spaceflight, and how knowledge and skills in this area are gained. I worked in aerospace for many years.

                      You: You really have no clue about robotics or technology. Go back to reading science fiction novels and leave science and engineering to people who actually know something about it.

                      I guess reading isn't fundamental for you, eh?

                      Add to that I've also been in the technical side of the automation & robotics industry for many years. I'm very aware of

    • It's quite ironic that it looks like the only thing that will save US manned spaceflight & planetary exploration from becoming a sacrificial lamb on the altar of pork & payoffs by short-sighted, corrupt US politicians may well be a re-emerging, hostile, and aggressive Russia.

      I don't find that strange at all. Competition breeds innovation.

  • 2 things in the way (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @11:57PM (#26860897) Journal
    1. Prices of Oil have plummeted, though at this moment, EU is screwed and paying top dollars for Natural Gas. But EU will be working hard to get themelves unhitched from the Russian Pipeline over the next couple of years. But Oil will remain low.
    2. At the moment, it appears that NASA is going to fund RSA by the ridiculusly high price of ~50M/seat (when they were getting 20M). But more likely than not, NASA is going to fund SpaceX and try to get SpaceX to carry the bulk of the humans for less than half the price.

    Basically, RSA is already not well funded. It is not likely that they will get funding for more when Russia is losing money and their economy is crashing HARD.

    • by Alex Belits (437) *

      But EU will be working hard to get themelves unhitched from the Russian Pipeline over the next couple of years.

      By doing what -- buying natural gas from Middle East and paying even more?

      At the moment, it appears that NASA is going to fund RSA by the ridiculusly high price of ~50M/seat (when they were getting 20M). But more likely than not, NASA is going to fund SpaceX and try to get SpaceX to carry the bulk of the humans for less than half the price.

      They will have their own vehicle before SpaceX will produce anything -- however neither is going to be cheaper to operate.

      • The vast majority of Natrual Gas for EU goes to home heating. They are now moving towards geo-thermal HVAC. I think that it will speed up this year.

        Let me ask something? WHy do you trash them? THey are already close to doing this. They have the FULL backing of NASA and DOD. What do you KNOW that real experts say that you are wrong about? Please, where is your resume on being a rocket scientists. In addition, please let me know WHAT SpaceX is doing that will prevent them from being up there soon with Drago
  • by bitrex (859228) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @12:50AM (#26861059)

    "Podmates! A new threat from the wretched third planet has presented itself!" roared K'breel, Glorious Elder Speaker of the High Council, the his gelatinous tendrils quivering with excitement. "The detestable ape-people of the Northwestern Continent, having failed pitifully in their invasion of our homeworld with their pathetic wheeled war vehicles, have now attempted to enslave the population of an old adversary to construct their monstrous interplanetary weapons of destruction. Fortunately for our cause, due to the design faults of their primitive neurological systems, and in no small part the assistance of our hidden operatives, their economies have collapsed as a result of their insatiable lust for accumulating worthless structures of planetary rock and decayed photosynthetic matter! They have turned against one another in their uncomprehending rage, bringing the hour of our ultimate victory within sight!"

    When one journalist timidly asked of K'breel to confirm the rumors that a new Great Speaker had arisen among the citizens of the Northwestern Continent, who had been prophisized to lead the ape-people to final victory in the interminable conflict, K'breel ordered his gelsacs to be pierced on the spot.

  • Some Russian sources also reportedly proposed the (rather ludicrous) idea of converting the ISS into some kind of an interplanetary transport vehicle, which would serve as the 'ultimate mother ship' in manned planetary missions to the moon or even Mars.

    It does sound like the submitter has some better use of ISS in mind. He should share it with the rest of the world, especially considering that the warranty on ISS expires 5 years from now, and no new scientific discoveries were reported so far. Most of th

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      The ISS is sort of like the Ford Pinto or Chevete Citation of spacecraft in terms of convenience for a long term space flight. It's great for short trips around town and possible to the next town but it start taking it's toll on the passengers when you go much further then that.

      Basically, there are some issues with taking it to mars. It would be packed with so much stuff that most of the room would be gone and you would basically be putting it on a trailer and hauling it behind another space vehicle that ga

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        The ISS is a prototype. As our (humanity's) first modular space station it has been a roaring success in that it has not yet killed anyone.

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          Sure it's been a success at what it was "indented" for. How likely do you think that success rate for the death toll will be once it has been redesigned from within space and re-purposed for a mission it was never intended to carry out.

          It's just not the ideal craft for going to mars.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            It's just not the ideal craft for going to mars.

            it's not the ideal craft for doing scientific experiments in orbit, either.

            the argument is that the mass is already in orbit. we should have been saving the orbiter main tanks, which are ideal containers for a number of reasons.

            there is no argument that just attaching some rockets to it wouldn't work. but adding some kind of structure as well might result in a workable package.

  • the ISS needs the earths magnetic field to protect it from solar radiation... the 2 most reliable defenses against it are 1.. about 6 feet of lead to shield from it or 2. create a magnetic field large enough to protect the ISS once it out of earths magnetic field, i am not sure if we have this technology yet and if we did... it would be HUGE so not very likely to fit on the ISS anyway. Another problem assuming the first is fixed.. is fuel... rockets would be a waste of money... would be better off with a n
  • After the little fiasco this last week, they should design their station with lots of little paddles wheels attached to small generators. That way when the debris clouds from their crashing satellites cause their platform to be continuously pelted by fast moving debris, they can use it to generate power...

  • Neat... it will become a movable feast [imdb.com] for our Martian overlords and space aliens, then?

  • Why send men to where there is no air? Something like this will do the job better: http://www.draganfly.com/ [draganfly.com]
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I tried to send a quadrocopter to where there is no air, but it had problems...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Max_W (812974)
        I realize that this particular robot cannot fly without air. What I meant is that small robotized machines can research hostile places better, cheaper and faster. They can be sent to the planet by rocket 100 times smaller that needed for a human to fly. And they do not need air to breath.
  • ... you do the flight unmanned, don't mind several decades in transit and are able to mothball the station in a way that you can reliably unfreeze and reactivate it after many years in space. That way, you might be able to use low thrust, low energy, solar or nuclear powered high specific impulse ion or plasma drives to haul the station there.

    A pioneer mission can then try to reactivate the station and if successful, you already have habitat, life support and scientific equipment in place for subsequent mis

  • Low orbiting space station would be also useful for watching over the american military forces. I think it's the main reason. Cold war never ends! And as for me cold war is good for technical progress
  • I said this along time ago, keep stuff made for space in space, so that we can use their metal and pieces to put together more stations in the future, like all those orbiting sats, could they not be used for parts, they are already up there, have the shuttle scoop up all of them and bring thenm to the space station, and use their thrusters and cameras and satcoms etc....for the station, if they are broken, they can be fixed, along with someone who can stay longer up there to head up the
    inventory.

    This is not

Is a person who blows up banks an econoclast?

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