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Mars NASA Space

NASA Shows Off Mock-Up of Mars-Capable Spacecraft 247

Posted by timothy
from the kick-the-tires-check-the-fluids dept.
N!NJA writes with this snippet of a report from Reuters: "NASA gave visitors to the National Mall in Washington a peek at a full-size mock-up of the spacecraft designed to carry US astronauts back to the moon and then on to Mars one day. The design of Orion was based on the Apollo spacecraft, which first took Americans to the moon. Although similar in shape, Orion is larger, able to carry six crew members rather than three, and builds on 1960s technology to make it safer." They're still working on the parachute.
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NASA Shows Off Mock-Up of Mars-Capable Spacecraft

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  • Nuclear? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Doches (761288)
    Is this the same 'Orion' as the old atomic bomb powered Project Orion?
    • Re:Nuclear? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Ruie (30480) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @07:52AM (#27400583) Homepage

      Is this the same 'Orion' as the old atomic bomb powered Project Orion?

      No - this is a derivative of the 1960s Apollo capsule. But look at the bright side - all the relevant patents have expired by now.

      • Re:Nuclear? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @07:59AM (#27400661) Homepage Journal

        Current Unixes (Mac OS X, FreeBSD, Darwin, Solaris, etc.) are also a derivative of 1960s technology. And if we were talking about that, the Unix and most of tne Linux guys, at least, would all be saying "yeah, but it's stable because it's so mature."

        what's the difference then, with a 1960s Apollo-derived capsule, then?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by noundi (1044080)
          It would be the case if they had continued working on that model, but they didn't. So basically you would be saying that Windows is stable because Unix is old, which doesn't add up.
          • It would be the case if they had continued working on that model, but they didn't. So basically you would be saying that Windows is stable because Unix is old, which doesn't add up.

            From the summary:
            "...and builds on 1960s technology to make it safer."

            So, apparently, they did!

          • by rbanffy (584143)

            So, the Orion/Unix analogy doesn't work.

            Anyway, I was expecting something bigger ;-)

            I only hope they pick up people who are claustrophiles.

      • "No - this is a derivative of the 1960s Apollo capsule. But look at the bright side - all the relevant patents have expired by now."

        I like the idea of an open source Apollo Rocket. Although for home build, I'm guessing finding a big enough garden shed for it, is going to be the least of the technical problems, so to speak.
    • No, apparently coming up with a new name was too complicated for Nasa. I don't have much faith in the ability of an air and space agency which can't name two constellations to produce a working Earth-Mars vehicle...
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by JustOK (667959)

        They were going to name it SpaceShip Colbert, but their plans were ruined.

  • Better watch out for Predator drones.
  • by Dystopian Rebel (714995) * on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @07:53AM (#27400591) Journal

    Would that be the large, unmarked banks of blinking square lights, the female voice that always says "Insufficient Data" followed by a dramatic orchestral chord, or the engine that the chief engineer can only repair 10 seconds before destruction?

  • I'm confused (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ChienAndalu (1293930) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @07:54AM (#27400595)

    "Although similar, it builds on 1960s technology"? While the old one was build on 1860 technology? I don't get it.

    • by Shrike82 (1471633)
      NASA - Improving safety by employing designs from over 4 decades ago. You know those astronauts are in safe hands...
      • You're assuming they still have the designs from 4 decades ago - which they don't.
        • by Shrike82 (1471633)
          So what you're saying is that they're piecing it together from guesses and the original notes written on the back of cigarette packets?

          Good lord, NASA need to get their act together.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      1860's tech was pretty reliable. I'd feel more comfortable trusting my safety to it in most cases with a few exceptions such as:

      Explosives, Medicine, Air/Space Travel.

      • Re:I'm confused (Score:4, Insightful)

        by rbanffy (584143) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @09:04AM (#27401459) Homepage Journal

        There is really not enough data to attest Apollo spacecraft were much safer than the shuttles. There were less than two dozen Apollo manned launches with one nearly (because the crew got really, really lucky) catastrophic accident and more than a hundred shuttle launches done by a small fleet that went to space a couple times each with two very serious mishaps.

        The best one can do is to extrapolate on data from about a hundred Soyuz missions. Soyuz seems to be slightly safer than shuttle and has in common with the Orion both the 60's tech and the mostly expendable architecture (IIRC, some systems are transferred from a used Soyuz to a new one after being recertified).

        • Re:I'm confused (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Fzz (153115) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:57AM (#27403131)
          I agree that overall safety can only be assessed based on a large enough statistical sample, and we don't have that. But there are several known failure modes of the Shuttle that Apollo and Orion either don't have, or have backup safety systems that the Shuttle doesn't have:
          • A launchpad (and post launch) escape system that can pull the re-entry vehicle clear of an exploding launch vehicle.
          • The potential to abort a mission after launch before reaching orbit.
          • Re-entry heat shield is protected from impacts from ice/foam during launch.
          • Re-entry vehicle is statically stable during re-entry.
          • Propellant tanks and fuel for fuel cells stored outside the re-entry vehicle.

          All of these seem to argue in favor of Orion being safer than Shuttle. There are two obvious downsides:

          • Parachutes have potential failure modes shuttle does not have.
          • Re-use has the potential to reduce risks (most of the parts have already been test-flown). There's no way to test-fly a non-reusable vehicle.

          On balance, I tent to like the KISS approach, so favor the capsule. But you're correct; actual safety comes down to how well all the systems are actually designed and implemented. A simpler approach, poorly implemented, is no safer than a complicated approach implemented well.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by goodEvans (112958)

          "with one nearly (because the crew got really, really lucky) catastrophic accident"

          Actually, Apollo 1 went on fire on the launch pad, killing all three astronauts on board, so that makes one-and-a-half catastrophic accidents

    • No, they're replacing the obsolete 1980s technology (shuttles) with modern, 1960s technology. It's progress.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by coolmoose25 (1057210)
      There is an apocryphal story about how the SRB's on the Space Shuttle are directly related to the width of a horse's ass... Snopes [snopes.com] has called the story "false" when in fact it is the case that the SRB's are limited in their size by the width of a horse's ass... The simple fact is that all technology is based on the technology that came before it. The computer industry is rife with examples... most of us are still using x86 technology is one... Why should rocketry be different?
      • Re:I'm confused (Score:4, Interesting)

        by History's Coming To (1059484) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:50AM (#27401255) Journal
        Indeed, good example. Although lot of the 1960's stuff wasn't exactly rocket science....for example, the Saturn V's had a problem with instabilities building up on the face of the combustion plate due to the pattern of holes that the fuel/oxidiser was sprayed through. In the end they got a bunch of blank combustion plates and drilled holes at random until they found one that worked without blowing the rocket to smithereens....or at least worked for the eight minutes or so that it took to get to orbit.
        • Re:I'm confused (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mike1086 (188761) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @09:48AM (#27402083)

          No....I think you'll find it *WAS* rocket science.

        • Re:I'm confused (Score:4, Informative)

          by moogsynth (1264404) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:19AM (#27402575)

          Indeed, good example. Although lot of the 1960's stuff wasn't exactly rocket science....for example, the Saturn V's had a problem with instabilities building up on the face of the combustion plate due to the pattern of holes that the fuel/oxidiser was sprayed through. In the end they got a bunch of blank combustion plates and drilled holes at random until they found one that worked without blowing the rocket to smithereens....or at least worked for the eight minutes or so that it took to get to orbit.

          People forget that the Apollo project killed off the much more reasonable X-plane [wikipedia.org] development, one of which by 1962 was already flying at an altitude of sixty miles. Progression to space travel was seen as the logical next step. But when JFK decided "HOLY FUCK WE GOTTA GO TO THE MOON!", and the developers told him it might be possible to do deep space stuff by the seventies, he opted to kill the project and go for Wernher von Braun's batshit insane rockets instead.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Sperbels (1008585)

            People forget that the Apollo project killed off the much more reasonable X-plane development, one of which by 1962 was already flying at an altitude of sixty miles. Progression to space travel was seen as the logical next step. But when JFK decided "HOLY FUCK WE GOTTA GO TO THE MOON!", and the developers told him it might be possible to do deep space stuff by the seventies, he opted to kill the project and go for Wernher von Braun's batshit insane rockets instead.

            Um, reasonable in what way? It certainly wasn't useful for putting cargo in orbit. The most efficient and practical way (currently) to put anything into space is an engine strapped to gigantic gas tank strapped to a little bit of cargo. Adding additional stuff like wings, landing gears, rudder (and a frame to support it all) only detracts from the amount of cargo you can launch and seems to have negligible reuse benefits as demonstrated by the space shuttle.

            • Re:I'm confused (Score:4, Interesting)

              by moogsynth (1264404) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:06AM (#27403263)

              Um, reasonable in what way? It certainly wasn't useful for putting cargo in orbit. The most efficient and practical way (currently) to put anything into space is an engine strapped to gigantic gas tank strapped to a little bit of cargo. Adding additional stuff like wings, landing gears, rudder (and a frame to support it all) only detracts from the amount of cargo you can launch and seems to have negligible reuse benefits as demonstrated by the space shuttle.

              For the X-15 series, you might just be right. But the proposed X-20 was the plane that eventually got the chop. This one had a rocket too, which essentially made it a prototype space shuttle. Reusable. What's more, the Titan rockets they wanted for it had 2.5 million pounds of thrust (11,100,000 force newtons) compared with the Mercury-Atlas' 367,000 (1,600,000). What made them cut the project was that the Atlas rockets were already available whereas the more powerful Titan rockets were still four years away.

    • Re:I'm confused (Score:4, Interesting)

      by vlm (69642) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:35AM (#27401063)

      "Although similar, it builds on 1960s technology"? While the old one was build on 1860 technology? I don't get it.

      You have to realize these guys are journalists. Its big, and vaguely cylindrical, therefore its "the same technology". Rest assured they aren't using discrete transistors and core memory.

  • Mock-up! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Thanshin (1188877) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @07:57AM (#27400619)

    "Hey! I just touched it and this piece fell off!"

    "Hmm... It's... a Mock-up?... Yeah! It's a Mock-up!"

  • Yeah well. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrKaos (858439) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @07:59AM (#27400653) Journal
    I know you'll probably mod me a troll but I have a sinking felling that me and actually many of the people reading slashdot will never see a real push into space by humanity. I really want to remain optimistic about it but for me this whole orion project is like a reminder of where we *could* have been at the completion of the Apollo launchers.

    Don't get me wrong I hope we get off this rock and have a *real* space program but I suspect that I am not the only person reading this that thinks they were born before their time.

    Good luck NASA, I hope it all goes well, this time.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shakrai (717556)

      I know you'll probably mod me a troll but I have a sinking felling that me and actually many of the people reading slashdot will never see a real push into space by humanity

      We'll see a real push into space by humanity when there is an actual economic incentive for doing so. When Earth becomes completely overpopulated and/or runs into resource shortages, that's when we'll see space flight really take off. As much as I love NASA, as a Governmentally funded agency they are always going to be held hostage to political considerations -- and you just know some Congressman needs some pork^Weconomic development back home more than NASA needs to go to Mars.

      • Re:Yeah well. (Score:5, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:27AM (#27400963) Journal

        Space flight is not going to be a solution to overpopulation for a really long time. The cost of getting something to LEO is around $20,000 per Kg, maybe as low as $4,000 / Kg if you go with something with a fairly high failure rate. The cost with a space elevator would be around $220/Kg, just for the marginal costs, assuming that the magical space pixies built the elevator for free, or closer to $2,000/Kg for the full cost.

        Assume a person plus their life support equipment (no possessions) weighs around 100Kg, and you've got a cost of $200K to get someone into orbit (using wildly optimistic figures based on technology that doesn't exist yet). Getting them to somewhere where they can live, and including the cost of actually building that habitat, is likely to at least double this cost and more likely add another order of magnitude.

        The people who can afford this kind of expense (probably around $2m, more for anything much above subsistence living) are going to be the ones who can already afford a very comfortable life down here. The people who will most want to leave Earth will be the ones who can't afford to.

        • by Shakrai (717556)

          I didn't claim it was a solution. Only that external economic factors will drive space exploration. IANARS (I am not a rocket scientist) but my hunch would be that resource shortages will drive the initial commercialization of space. Over time as the spaceflight components become standardized and mass produced it would stand to reason that the costs will come down.

          • by rbanffy (584143)

            Not until it becomes much cheaper.

            For the current prices, it's probably cheaper to extract metals from thin air than it is to mine an asteroid for it.

            • Re:Yeah well. (Score:4, Informative)

              by ColdWetDog (752185) * on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:48AM (#27403003) Homepage
              You know, 3/4 (or 70.1% according to a recent test) of the earth is currently uninhabited. It would be much cheaper to build underwater / on water habitats than dump people in space. But we're not doing it because it's still too expensive. An enormous amount of the human population is living at essentially, baseline survival levels or quite near it. They have no spare cash for anything, including Starbucks.

              I have this sneaky suspicion that the overpopulation of humans will 'take care of itself' before we get any significant population in outer space....
    • by rotide (1015173)
      Unfortunately, starting a new civilization on another planet is prohibitively expensive.

      Think about the support structure needed to really START a new civilization.

      You need the basics first.
      Water
      Food
      Electricity
      Healthcare (doctors and basic equipment for emergencies)

      After that you're going to need places to live and work. I mean, when you're out there, someone has to be making a profit to make it worth even going (yes, that's the world we live in). So you have to assume there is something to mine/c

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kurt555gs (309278)

      We could be a lo further if we had taken just a fraction of the war budget and let Nasa keep going to the Moon. There is no reason we couldn't have a permanent base by now.

      2030 to Mars? Where does this come from. We could have 1 way manned missions to mars right now. Ill bet there would be volunteers.

      No, I think Nasa has just become a cash register for the usual defense contractors with no vision.

      I am truly sorry we couldn't have had just a little less war, and a little more science.

      • by MBGMorden (803437)

        We could have 1 way manned missions to mars right now. Ill bet there would be volunteers.

        I'm sure there would be, but in general, the public outcry would be huge. When the inevitable question of returning gets asked by a journalist and NASA admitted that "Yeah, we're not actually planning on bringing them back." there would be uproar and demands that such a barbaric organization lose funding immediately. It's not about the handful of volunteers willing to go - it's about the masses that will refuse to fund a suicide mission.

        • by jschen (1249578)
          Would it still be a suicide mission if you're sent with sufficient resources (possibly through intermittent resupplying) to live out the rest of your normal lifespan on Mars? And by the time round trips are realistic, you might even someday get to come back!
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Well sure, but you are the one planning to live less than 500 years
  • Wow, all these years of working on the new moon/Mars project, and they hit upon the ingenious idea of making an Apollo splashdown pod slightly bigger. My tax dollars at work.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mdwh2 (535323)

      Good point, yes, obviously making a spacecraft to carry six people to Mars is as simple as just coming up with the idea "make it bigger". It's not like it's rocket science, is it. They should have just read your comment here on Slashdot, we'd be there by now.

      What a waste of those tax dollars, if only we hadn't spent all that money funding NASA this past five years we could have had enough for, I don't know, almost an extra year of war in Iraq ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Budget [wikipedia.org] ). And it's not like t

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      It also screams failure to me. The ride to the moon was a sunday drive in a car, the trip to mars is quite a bit longer. Cramming 6 guys in a soupcan for that long is a BAD IDEA. why cant we build something larger? Yeah, yeah launch capacity.. who says it has to be assembled here on the planet, why cant they make the parts screw together in space? We launched skylab, and that was larger than this. use 3 launches. 1 for the engine and spacionics pack, 1 for the crew cab, and 1 for the mars lander. a

      • by beejhuff (186291) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:56AM (#27401327) Homepage

        I (for once) RTFA, and from what I gathered, they've developed this module and updated launcher to provide an effective round trip mechanism for Moon expeditions, where they will practice the operations that will be required when a full scale Mars mission is executed (sometime around between 2020-2030). I think the important point is that NASA is realizing that the shuttle is not an effective mission system for the next generation of Moon missions, which are a pre-req for any future Mars missions.

        To me, this actually sounds like a sober assessment - and one that is long overdue.

        • by elwinc (663074) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:46AM (#27402959)
          What they don't bother to mention in TFA is that

          * Moon-Mars is basically unfunded. NASA has to steal from other missions just to study Moon-Mars
          * The moon is a lousy steppingstone to Mars. Think about it: to land on a planet with an atmosphere, you can slow down with a parachute. To overcome your delta-V for a moon landing, you need to carry enough fuel to decelerate and to re-launch! If you just skip the moon entirely, you don't have that horribly expensive deceleration phase followed by that expensive acceleration phase.

          Face it, most of the actual science done in space has been done by robots and will continue to be for the forseeable future. Humans in space is not a bad idea, but Bush didn't fund Moon-Mars and it's unlikely to get funded any time in the forseeable future. Personally, I've always thought Moon-Mars was a cynical political ploy to win a slice of the nerd vote. But that's just me.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Cheeko (165493)

        The capsule will only be for the trip to/from orbit.

        Similar to the moon missions any Mars mission will have at least 1 and likely 2-3 other modules that will rendezvous in orbit and make the trip to Mars as one craft.

        You'll note the heavy lift rocket portion of Constellation can carry far more weight than any US rocket to date. The whole reason for that is lifting large modules for a larger craft. (lunar lander, mars lander, mars transit habitat, whatever).

        The Orion capsule is just one part of the entire C

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      I would submit that tax dollars spent at NASA are rarely wasted.

      Imagine, for a moment, that someone proposes to drive across the desert. A company spends millions of dollars and debuts a 5 wheeled car. Why? The 4 wheeled car is proven and safe.

      THAT is what is most important to NASA - proven, and safe.

    • Wow, all these years of working on the new moon/Mars project, and they hit upon the ingenious idea of making an Apollo splashdown pod slightly bigger. My tax dollars at work.

      I'm more worried about my tax dollars - the ones wasted on your education.
       
      In real world engineering, form follows function. Just like the Airbus 380 [wikipedia.org] is basically an enlarged Boeing Dash 80 [wikipedia.org], the Orion is an enlarged Apollo. For both functions there's only so many forms that work, and no particular reason not to choose something proven. This isn't fad and fashion driven product design (like the latest iCoolthing), but something people's lives will depend on.

  • by That_Dan_Guy (589967) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:05AM (#27400715)

    "You came in that thing?, Youâ(TM)re braver than I thought"

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      "You came in that thing?, Youâ(TM)re braver than I thought"

      Iuâ(TM)m brave, youuâ(TM)re brave, Weuâ(TM)re all brave, brave.

  • 1960s safety? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekmux (1040042) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:06AM (#27400719)

    "...and builds on 1960s technology to make it safer."

    Ah, am I the only one reading this and questioning just exactly what the hell we have been paying NASA Engineers millions of dollars for over the last 45 years?

    I mean, I'm all for K.I.S.S. methodology and all, but damn, 40+ years worth of advances should not be completely looked over for "tried and true". Even that is questionable, given Apollos not-so-perfect track record.

    Hell, how many "safety" features are still in use today from the 60's in automobiles?

    Guess I better start buying stock in vacuum tube manufacturers...

    • by mbrod (19122)

      It is just marketing to make people think they are using pre-existing tech to keep things cheap.

      If they came out and said they were working on a shape shifting liquid metal clokeable craft for the Mars mission it would die in five minutes because people would know it would cost a gazillion dollars.

      The current path will still cost a gazillion dollars, just not scare the public in to rejecting it before it gets off the ground.

      • by Shrike82 (1471633)

        The current path will still cost a gazillion dollars, just not scare the public in to rejecting it before it gets off the ground.

        Some would say that's an unfortunate choice of words given the past "failures to launch".

    • Re:1960s safety? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Timberwolf0122 (872207) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:17AM (#27400847) Journal
      Well seat belts came in around the late 60's... I think what they mean is the fundamental craft was sound (in the same way that cars are still fairly car-shaped) however they are now adding ABS, Air bags and a musical horn.
    • by Shrike82 (1471633)

      Hell, how many "safety" features are still in use today from the 60's in automobiles?

      Anti-lock brakes and head restraints are the two most prominent.

      Car seat belts were invented in the 50's. Wouldn't want a car without those.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      Hell, how many "safety" features are still in use today from the 60's in automobiles?

      This is purely off the top of my head, so I might have things a bit mis-placed... but I know that these were in use during the 60s:
      Dual-chamber master cylinder
      Disk brakes
      Seat Belts
      Padded dash
      Breakaway steering column
      Unibody construction
      Crumple zones
      Halogen Headlamps
      Protected passenger area

      There is no doubt that cars are safer and more reliable today - but you are very wrong if you think that they aren't "built upon" 1960s technology.

      • by Shrike82 (1471633)

        Breakaway steering column

        Wait, wait, wait. You're telling me that my car's main control instrument is based on a design that is preceeded by the verb "breakaway".

        I'm off to buy a bicycle.

        • by MBGMorden (803437)

          A joke, yes, but IIRC, the breakaway steering column is meant to keep the steering column from being pushed straight up into the driver's chest in a frontal impact. A huge column a metal hitting you at high speed just isn't good. There are some things that you WANT to break in a car in certain circumstances. Imagine it as a non-electrical equivalent of a safety fuse of sorts.

  • by Big Hairy Ian (1155547) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:22AM (#27400901)
    Sets some interesting challenges never mind the amount of time to get there but simple landing and taking off again will be horrendous. Bear in mind that to achieve even Low earth Orbit you kneed some pretty impressive ordinance. Getting back from the moon will be a piece of piss in comparison at only 16.6% earth gravity but Mars's gravity is 38% earth gravity which means any escape mechanism is going to kneed orders of magnitude more impulse in order to achieve marsion orbit compared to to same feat on the moon. I'm not sure it could be achieved with a single stage rocket although I admit it's a possibility. But what about Launch a pad???? Will it be Liquid or Solid propellant???? Many many questions of which I'm sure even NASA hasn't even started to look for answers yet.
  • by H0p313ss (811249) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:34AM (#27401057)
    Why are you all still in the '90s?

    http://blogs.nasa.gov/cm/blog/Constellation/ [nasa.gov]
  • How about starting from scratch and learning from our mistakes instead of using duct tape on it. Reference 1960's material, don't build on it.

  • ... builds on 1960s technology to make it safer.

    Can you imagine a car manufacturer throwing out a line like that? "Our new car builds on 1960s tech to make it safer." Boy, that inspires me with all kinds of confidence.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      You'd prefer they lie? The fact is that the safest configuration has been shown to be a capsule that can re-enter more or less ballistic in a pinch. It might bang the astronauts up a bit, but at least they'll live to talk about it. And if the rocket malfunctions at launch, they are way up at the top where shrapnel can't hit them.

      A shuttle-like craft is great if you need to bring stuff back home, and this presumed to be a requirement in the 70s, but hasn't really been used much in practice. In the future, an

    • by Chelloveck (14643)

      Because when you're selling something that looks like a used Edsel, you've gotta make up some flimsy excuse to get people to buy it.

      "Sure, it's ugly and it looks like something from 40 years ago but... Safety! Yeah, that's it! Boy, they sure don't build 'em like they used to, do they? Well now they do! Yessiree, built like a tank with none of that 'computerized fuel injector' stuff to break down. God bless America."

  • by JerryLove (1158461) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:59AM (#27401383)

    The vehicle in question is an ascent/re-entry craft. It might be sufficient for the trip to the moon (though certainly landing and relaunching will require a second craft as it did for Apollo), but this vehicle is not up to the task of providing suitable living conditions for a trip to Mars.

    For a Mars trip this is at best a way to get up to the interplanetary vessel and return to Earth from it. Given that, I can't imagine why you would bother to cart it all the way there just to cart it back.

  • The only realistic approach to space travel in our solar system is to build a good nuclear-driven space ship in orbit, big enough so as that people can live many years in it, with rotating sections to simulate gravity. This spaceship will never land onto planets, but it would contain pods that could land and take off.

    It could take a few trillion dollars, but if all the major countries co-operate, it is feasible. All the money spent in weapons could be spent for space exploration.

  • Being stuck in a capsule for minimum 6 months to Mars?? Fine if your a gerbil, not so fine if your a human being.
  • by stuntpope (19736) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @09:04AM (#27401455)

    Is it too much to ask for people who read a supposedly tech site actually read, and perhaps think, before pounding their keyboards with things like "how's that little thing going to get 6 astronauts to Mars?", "NASA is stoopid", and the like?

    Its proposed use is to carry up to 6 astronauts to the space station, and from there, 4 to the Moon. For the Moon missions, Orion will travel along with the Altair lunar lander.

    For Mars missions, "Orion could rendezvous in low Earth orbit with vehicles that will take explorers to other destinations in our solar system such as Mars." http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/306407main_orion_crew%20_expl_vehicle.pdf [nasa.gov]

    These Mars-bound vehicles will be assembled in low Earth orbit. There is no reason to believe that 4 or 6 astronauts would be confined to the small Orion capsule for the duration of a Mars voyage.

    On a side note, I was 5 years old when I watched the first manned landing on the Moon. It's amazing to me that a manned Mars mission may happen when I'm in my 70's. Certainly not how I imagined things when I was young.

    • I remember the moon landings well, was only 8 myself, but when an article supposedly shows the spacecraft mock up that will take us to mars, you have to question, if this wasn't it then where is the mock-up? So far NASA has not published a single design for spacecraft that would get to Mars.
      • by stuntpope (19736)

        From reading the NASA pdf's, it appears that a Mars mission isn't planned at this point, just blue-sky. A return to the Moon seems very much in the works, whereas the descriptions about Mars were couched with words like "possible", "one day", etc.

  • Conspiracy? (Score:2, Funny)

    by 2gravey (959785)
    This mock up will come in quite handy when they fake the Mars landing.
  • They'll arrive on Mars completely insane.

    RS

  • How is this going to be able to lift off from the surface of Mars again?
  • Really, is this the best they can do? Building of 1960's tech?

    And this part got me too:

    Trips to the moon are scheduled for 2020, while a journey to Mars is believed possible by the mid-2030s.

    GUH, wtf happened to our ability to explore space, to do cool stuff, to take damn risks?

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?

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