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NASA Moon Space

NASA Moon Launch May Be Delayed After 2020 261

Posted by timothy
from the underpromise-vs.-underdeliver dept.
krou writes "The Guardian is reporting that NASA is quietly revising its internal estimates of a 2018 launch for its Ares V rocket. Although publicly the date given for the launch was 2020, the internal launch date was set for 2018. The shift in dates seems to be linked to 'growing budget woes,' and 'engineers say that means the public 2020 date to send humans back to the moon is in deepening trouble.' NASA administrator Mike Griffin blamed the White House, and the previous Bush administration, saying funding for Ares V and other projects fell from $4bn through 2015 to just $500m. 'This was to be allocated to early work on the Ares V heavy-lifter, and the Altair lunar lander. With only a half-billion dollars now available, this work cannot be done.'"
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NASA Moon Launch May Be Delayed After 2020

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  • Hmm. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sillygates (967271) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @10:23PM (#27697267) Homepage Journal
    Maybe, this time, we will make it to the moon!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 23, 2009 @10:41PM (#27697395)

      I thought you were going to say something like:

      "The answer to your question? Hindsight is 2020. The moon launch is 2023."

    • by schnell (163007) <me@schnell.REDHATnet minus distro> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:16PM (#27697641) Homepage

      This sounds like flamebait but I swear it's not. I would love to hear someone knowledgeable explain to me why (at least as it seems to a layman like myself) NASA did amazing things for so long then hasn't done anything to capture the public's imagination for decades. I understand how massive the funding was in their heyday, but every other technology sector seems to do more with less over time - is NASA's mission just impossible to accomplish for less than 3% of GDP? Or did they hire worse and worse recruits over time? Or did the wrong people get put in charge? Or does this stuff just get harder to do?

      This has baffled and saddened me for years. I really do want to hear an answer from someone who has some insight...

      • by timeOday (582209)
        I think it's largely the natural progression of technology. When you break into a new field, discoveries come fast and furious for a while, then they tend to become less significant. Look at medicine, for instance... you start off discovering penicillin, how to fill cavities... things that save millions of lives and drastically extend life expectancy. Now thousands of devoted professionals spend their lives looking for treatments, and there are innumerable small discoveries but few breakthroughs. Aeros
        • by icebike (68054) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:54PM (#27697903)

          > Nobody would have guessed in 1969 that commercial airliners would still look exactly the same 40 years later.

          And they will look exactly the same in another 40 years. Minor cosmetics and incremental differences in size not withstanding.

          Airplanes look the way they do because that is how something needs to look to do the job it does at the price we are willing to pay.

          Oh, I know, some people still think moon rockets would not look so much like like a phallus if they were designed by women.

          But Horatio Greenough had it right. Form follows function.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          But going to the moon AGAIN isn't a new breakthrough. That would be like discovering penicillin, saving a million people, and then 50 years later not being able to make penicillin again.

          NASA, as currently directed, just sucks.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by R3d M3rcury (871886)

            When you look back at the lunar missions, it was done with the idea that we need to get their before the end of the 1960s. Because we did it with one big rocket, we were limited in how much we could take in both people and equipment. But the idea was to beat them rooskies and if we could plant an American flag on the surface first, we won.

            Now, we're trying to do this with more than one rocket. We're trying to stay longer than we did in Apollo. And we're trying to do it on a budget, rather than spending

      • by Allicorn (175921) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:59PM (#27697929) Homepage

        It's the public's imagination that's at fault if that really is the case. NASA continues to do spectacular, amazing things.

        The NASA current missions page:
        http://www.nasa.gov/missions/current/ [nasa.gov]

        Does the Cassini-Huygens mission do nothing for you?
        That Hubble Telescope doodad not honking your horn?
        Spirit and Opportunity are things that make you go "meh"?

        If you (or rather some notional "member of the public") would rather be watching tonight's new episode of "The Apprentice" than reading about one of these missions, then where does the lack of vision lie?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by schnell (163007)

          To your point, NASA continues to do great, worthwhile things. But "spectacular?" No. Not in the same way their early triumphs were. Cassini-Huygens is great but does it compare with Mercury, Apollo, Voyager, Skylab or the Shuttle? No.

          Maybe it's okay, we just aren't trying to do anything that catches the public imagination in the same way those older things did. But I think that's also the reason that if you ask Joe Public - who through public opinion has a great impact on NASA's funding - what NASA has done

      • by PapayaSF (721268)

        All bureaucracies tend to become less efficient over time: see the Peter Principle [wikipedia.org], Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy [jerrypournelle.com], Parkinson's Law [wikipedia.org], etc. They grow sclerotic with timeservers and brownnosers, work more for themselves and less for their supposed goals, and the highest-quality employees retire or leave for greener pastures. And if you are more or less a government-authorized monopoly you don't worry much about the competition.

        Here's how I'd get back to the Moon: 1) Give Burt Rutan $10 billion. 2) Tell hi

      • by tiger32kw (1236584) on Friday April 24, 2009 @01:06AM (#27698295)
        We are still doing things. Quite a bit of things. The only difference is we don't really need human beings up there to do these tasks, thus you don't hear about the missions and discoveries. It's not big news unless a human is physically involved, generally.
      • Politics is, of course, the answer to your question; specifically the fear caused by the cold war. The cold war was going full swing and the space race was about much more than just bragging rights. I don't know how accurate it is, but I've had it explained to me that getting a person into space meant you could put a nuke anywhere within 5000 miles of territory you control. Putting a man into orbit was equivalent to being able to drop a nuke onto the heartland of you enemy, not necessarily accurately. B

  • Well... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mc1138 (718275)
    I'd rather dates get pushed back a bit, and we do this right, than go off half assed and mess up. The moon isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and as much as I love the idea of space exploration, and think it is the single greatest thing we can do as a race, I think we also need to look to our own backyard and clean that up as well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'd rather dates get pushed back a bit, and we do this right, than go off half assed and mess up.

      Forty years ago we managed to do it in eight years from the time Kennedy called for it. Including designing the Saturn V pretty much from scratch.

      Now, we won't be able to manage it in twelve-plus years, even using as many off-the-shelf components as possible.

      Which is really kind of pathetic.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Cheap, fast, and reliable. Pick two—and reliable is a required option, meaning we can either get to the moon cheap or fast. In the 1960s they picked fast; this time we went for cheap.

        But hey, Congress has corporate bailouts, Social Security, and national healthcare to pay for instead of useful projects. *rolls eyes*

      • by gbutler69 (910166) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:21PM (#27697689) Homepage
        There was a MASSIVE infusion of technology and expertise from German Scientists that had been working on the "Rocket Problem" since the '30's. Also, there was significant military research in the U.S. before, during, and after WWII as well.
        • by Hucko (998827)

          and it didn't help that Wilson died...

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          There was a MASSIVE infusion of technology and expertise from German Scientists that had been working on the "Rocket Problem" since the '30's. Also, there was significant military research in the U.S. before, during, and after WWII as well.

          From scratch. They didn't even START the design work on Saturn V till the year after Kennedy called for the moon landing. At the time they started, "state of the art" was the Atlas, for god's sake!

          The Saturn V was designed specifically for the moon missions, and pretty

      • Re:Well... (Score:5, Informative)

        by frieko (855745) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:29PM (#27697729)
        It comes down to money. Adjusted for inflation the 60's NASA budget was double or triple today's. And Gemini/Apollo was basically all they were working on. Of course, it was all just a fraction of the cost of an Iraq war or a bailout.
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @10:35PM (#27697353) Journal
    If you ask me, We should have focused on Ares V and Orien first. We could have use EELV for human launch and later develop the Ares I.
    • FOLLOW ON (Score:3, Interesting)

      by WindBourne (631190)
      just thinking about this. Musk wanted to figure out a way to fund a monster rocket. My guess is that if Falcon 9 and heavy are successful, he will get his chance. The reason is that congress will probably want to kill all funding for Ares V. It is possible that Direct will get a chance, but I do not think so. The reason is that it will be the same set of ppl and companies that did Constellation. As such, I could easily see Congress saying enough is enough.
    • by symbolset (646467) * on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:56PM (#27697915) Journal

      In 1961 the Apollo program [wikipedia.org] was founded when US President John F. Kennedy announced a goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the decade. On July 20, 1969 it was accomplished when Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. It took eight years. I was four years old at the time they landed. I watched breathlessly each launch, each landing, and all the reports in between. I actually recall trying to convince some of the adults in my life the significance of these events. The Moon! That ball in the sky! Men are walking on it! I failed miserably. I lived in Watts at the time. They didn't care then and they don't care now.

      It had never been done before. Practically none of the necessary materials science, engineering and physics were even understood at the time. They performed orbital vector calulations sometimes using computers, and sometimes using banks of people operating calculators.

      40 years later we carry computers in our pocket that have more power than all the computers in the world at that time. Our cars have better navigational equipment. It has been done before. The problem has been solved - we've done it many times. The physics, mechanics and materials are well understood. But now we can't figure out a way to do this again in under a decade. It's over. We're officially sliding into decay.

      Now I point to that ball in the sky for my son [bayqongyr.com] who's five, and I say "That ball in the sky! We knew how to get there once. My parents did it, but we forgot how when I grew up. If you study hard - if you really want it - you might go there too." And then we point the telescope at Mars.

      /And it's Orion. Try and spell it write, ok?

      • First, I was 10. I remember Apollo 1. Second, My parents were INTO this and pushed me. Third, my 5 y.o. knows the planets, and can tell the difference between Mars and Moon via pics. Fourth, my 2 y.o knows some of the planets. And finally, spelling can go to hell when putting a 2 y.o. to bed who is too tired and very fussy.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        In the late 40's Arthur C Clark was writing stories about the British going to the moon. He thought that Britain was still enough of a superpower to be able to do it. Nowadays, we look back at his writings and say 'You've got to be dreaming. Britain is too poor to afford anything like that.'

        I venture to say that in about 40 years time we will look back to NASA's pronouncements about going back to the moon (much less going to Mars) and we'll say 'You've got to be dreaming. The US is too poor to be able to af

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by icebike (68054)

      Rockets are so 60's.

      Its time to break out of that sandbox and fly into space like pilots instead of spam in a can.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scaled_Composites_White_Knight_Two [wikipedia.org]

  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @10:36PM (#27697363)

    As more people want things at home, mission to moon and the entire manned space programme shall be delayed indefinitely.

    Once the shuttles are retired, I have my doubts whether the entire manned program doesn't get canned.

    • Any manned government mission. There is no doubt that Virgin Galactic and other similar companies will start doing things reminiscent of the golden days of NASA as soon as they can produce a few flyable spacecraft. It is rare to have government-based research that does anything that starts the flame for a better, cheaper, more effective version by a few competing private firms.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by timeOday (582209)

        It is rare to have government-based research that does anything that starts the flame for a better, cheaper, more effective version by a few competing private firms.

        That's why I'm holding off on this Internet thing... my capitalist bible says GEnie Online and CompuServe will crush it any day now.

    • by forkazoo (138186) <wrosecransNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:19PM (#27697663) Homepage

      As more people want things at home, mission to moon and the entire manned space programme shall be delayed indefinitely.

      Once the shuttles are retired, I have my doubts whether the entire manned program doesn't get canned.

      Makes for a sort of depressing answer to the Fermi Paradox. Why haven't the thousands of advanced species conquered the universe yet? Oh, they will. It's just not practical right now. Maybe during the next budget period they can establish a group to consider returning to space. It'll happen eventually. They've been meaning to do another manned orbital mission for the last few thousand years. They'll get to it as soon as some immediate priorities are sorted out.

      • by daveime (1253762)

        Let's assume that we limit ourselves to conditions that *we* consider suitable for life, i.e. Sunlight, Oxygen, Water, and Carbon in abundance, and a similar development from complex molecules to single-celled organisms, all the way up to intelligent life as we know it.

        What makes you think that any other civilization, on any other planet, doesn't have exactly the same problems as we do i.e. overpopulation, scarcity of basic resources such as food and clean water, lack of funding for their space program etc

  • by DynaSoar (714234) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @10:40PM (#27697391) Journal

    Planning a project and then cutting the budget is a common tactic used to divert more of the work and cash to contractors. In this case the intention was to cut the booster program and use already available hardware such as the Delta Heavy instead. This sort of behavior was an epidemic during the previous administration, but the present one showed signs of staying the course. Not long ago Obama was (mis)quoted as saying that possibly we should use available "military" hardware. The misquote, or possibly misstatement on his part, was in the fact the the hardware is used by the military, but comes from civilian sources that already supply the same to NASA.

  • by MrMista_B (891430) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @10:47PM (#27697429)

    So America has given up on the space race, huh?

    I guess it's up to China and India now.

    • Only one nation can win the race because there is only water ice in one place on the moon and he who gets their first wins.
    • Uh, hopefully this isn't news or anything, but well, we already won that race. Several decades ago. When the available technology was crappier. In fact, we went more than once, so we've lapped them multiple times.

      Frankly, I think NASA's better off moving on to one of the next two big space-race checkpoints:
      1) Mars (I'm sorta "meh" about that one).
      2) Find a way to clean up all of our orbital debris. (While not glamorous, this is going to be a prerequisite for us becoming a space-faring species).

      • 3) Somehow related to (2). Dust off those ol' Reagan papers and make a DeathStar. Make it dispose of debris efficiently by lasers (might be more pieces to float though) or grab them to feed what's in its internal trash compactor (sans Solo, Skywalker, and Leia).

        Also, shoot at anything/anyone determined to beat the U S of A at the space race, but maybe that's just me.

      • by MrMista_B (891430)

        Nah, bullshit to that. America got there a few times, then turned tail and gave up. If you can't get to the moon till 2020, what makes you think you have a chance in hell of getting to Mars?

        Seriously. China's already got better technology, and India's not far behind.

        • Turned tail? What makes you think America stopped going out of cowardice? You can only collect so many moon-rocks before people start to ask the question of whether or not it's worth the billions of dollars it costs to keep going.

          Btw, "China" and "better technology"? I'm gonna have to call [citation needed] on that one. If I didn't already know you were trying to be serious, that would be interpreted as a funny joke. China doesn't compare to most developed nations in terms of innovation. Especially in

          • by daveime (1253762)
            Their idea of "innovation" is making cheap rip-offs of what others have designed. I have to disagree ... that might have been true 20 years ago, but these days (choosing a common tech example), the so called "china phones" take the best bits from ALL the competitors and produce an item that IS better feature-wise. It is so technically advanced, there is even a customisable hardware expiry date, after which point it will no longer charge or work at all (although most seem preset on 3 months and 1 microseco
    • by jcnnghm (538570) on Friday April 24, 2009 @12:11AM (#27698001)

      It is? The Chinese would need to multiply their space budget 34 times, and India would have to multiply their budget by 13 times to match ours. Even if you don't include our military space budget, which is larger than the NASA budget, we have a larger budget for space exploration than every other country on the face of the earth combined. We should stop spending, entirely, until other countries have a chance to catch up. There is no need for the American taxpayers to subsidize their substandard space programs any more than we already have.

  • by Seriousity (1441391) <Seriousity@li[ ]com ['ve.' in gap]> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @10:47PM (#27697433)

    NASA administrator Mike Griffin blamed the White House, and the previous Bush administration, saying funding for Ares V and other projects fell from $4bn through 2015 to just $500m.

    Okay, the cost of the entire Apollo program was $25.4 billion dollars. That's 25,400,000,000 1969 dollars - about $135 billion in today's dollars. So why is it so much cheaper this time around?

    I put it down to the fact that technology has advanced quite a lot since 1969* - The film industry in particular, if you're making a movie there's a heck of a lot more you can do with that kind of money than you could have in 1969.
    -
    *Disclaimer: All sly remarks on the redundancy of this sentence being used on slashdot are hereby inherently redundant.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It's cheaper because we're spending money over a longer time; there's not so much a "race" aspect this time.
    • Re:I call baloney (Score:2, Interesting)

      by samcan (1349105)

      But in 1969, we were in an arms race with the Soviet Union at the time, so we not only spent a gazillion dollars on nuclear missiles, we also managed to get to the Moon?

      Either we need to pay more taxes, or we need a more efficient use of our money.

  • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @10:50PM (#27697447)

    We went from having no rocket program of any kind in 1945, to deciding to put a man on the moon in 1960, to actually doing it in 1969. Now, we decide we want to go to go back, and can't make any progress at all.

    Our national labs are filled with nothing but bureaucracy and useless political management. There's no sense of urgency, there's no focused direction.

    Seriously, we can't do in 20 years today what we did in 10 half a century ago? Come on. This shit's just sad.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bronney (638318)

      It's not just that, if we compare ourselves to our parents, and to our grandparents, you'll see that the more you go back in time, the more things get done.

      It is "this" generation that is uberly educated, creative, analytical, that is doomed to procrastination, and nothing ever gets done. I love to be in it.

    • by iamangry (1463943) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:32PM (#27697753)

      Give NASA the amount of money the morons in Congress gave AIG over the last year and they'd get you to the moon next week sometime.

      Seriously... the formerly private company got over 10 times as much money as NASA did.

      Finance... it isn't rocket science. Ares V... well it is.

    • The urgency died along with the Soviet Union.
    • by symbolset (646467) on Friday April 24, 2009 @12:19AM (#27698039) Journal

      The brave men who went up in 1969 had no idea whether they would even get there let alone whether they would get home. There was no record, no experience. There were over a thousand volunteers. They went and they came back, some of them several times. I don't doubt offered a return trip they would to a man abandon all that they hold dear without hesitation to blast off for far horizons.

      A colony on the moon plus a colony on Mars plus self-sufficient habitats in Earth orbit and a pair of L5 orbits all together would cost less than TARP, the auto bailout and the Fed's increased balance sheet - and would pay better returns. If we gave a damn about the survival of the human race we'd have insured it by now.

      Americans were once better Men.

      But the good news is that the US Justice department is now a RIAA wholly owned subsidiary.

      • by Kuroji (990107)

        Over the course of five years, if you gave NASA the US military's budget, you could establish a lunar colony with a regular rotation, and once industrial facilities are set up there, you could set up a semipermanent habitat at Earth's L4 or L5 points, which would make for a great place to launch interplanetary manned and unmanned exploration from. Probably would be somewhat more cost-effective to make an O'Neill cylinder rather than a torus, though I suppose a torus would be less expensive.

        Then again, given

    • by dlevitan (132062)

      Our national labs are filled with nothing but bureaucracy and useless political management. There's no sense of urgency, there's no focused direction.

      I can't speak for the manned program, but I am loosely affiliated with a NASA unmanned mission (I'm a grad student). The major problem is lack of funding. Sure, NASA gets some money, but the competition for it is so intense that everyone suffers. Missions take decades from conception to launch and are doomed to failure as lack of money forces cost cutting that delays the mission.

      The horrible thing is that the amount of money it takes to design, develop, build, launch, and operate a flagship mission over a 1

  • Why so long? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slashqwerty (1099091) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @10:53PM (#27697479)
    From the time JFK announced his challenge to go to the moon it took us eight years to actually do it. Now we have all the technology from all of our space research for the past 40 years, we have five years sunk into the current plan to return, and they are saying they can't finish it in another nine years? This is the fruit of our lousy political and education systems!
    • Re:Why so long? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Swampash (1131503) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:03PM (#27697533)

      funding for Ares V and other projects fell from $4bn through 2015 to just $500m

      In other words, the amount cut from the NASA budget for the next six years is about the amount spent on the Iraq war every two weeks.

      U-S-A! U-S-A!

      • or the amount paid in interest alone on the national debt every four days (although that amount is on its way up very soon).

        We each have a different lens through which to observe the expenditures of government. Personally, I'd rather see space money increased, and re-allocated toward unmanned probes and robotics. Extraordinarily more bang for the buck...but less emotionally satisfying for some. Either way, I prefer spending money learning about black holes than pouring it into black holes.

        Take a look at the

    • Good Fast Cheap (Pick two)
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by HappyEngineer (888000)
        What will I get if I pick fast and cheap? If lack of "good" means that a few extra rockets blow up then all we need is a decent escape module on top of the cheap rocket. Sounds good to me.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by j-stroy (640921)
      Nowadays, seemingly its all about optimization and minimums through re-inventing... The taste of the dev plan for ARES seems thin. Regardless of specifics, The Jupiter Direct [youtube.com] plan has a more likable production dynamic as far risk management on the deliverables. IANARS
    • Re:Why so long? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by plover (150551) * on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:51PM (#27697889) Homepage Journal

      This is the fruit of our lousy political and education systems!

      No. This is the fruit of our new Project Management philosophies.

      Last time they did this, they asked the engineers "hey, how do you want to build a big rocket?" The engineers answered "strap five of those smaller engines together, and we'll be good to go."

      Now it seems like they have to put together a project plan to create each and every nut, bolt and washer. Then they have to have a nut, bolt and washer design document inspection. Don't forget they have to invite the nut, bolt and washer quality control team to the nut, bolt and washer design document inspection. Then they have to create the nut, bolt and washer master test plan. And they have to have another document inspection of the nut, bolt and washer master test plan. ...

      I could go on and on about nuts, bolts and washers, but I'm bored typing all this project management crap already, and it's only been one paragraph. Repeat this process for three million parts, and 20 years seems like a bargain.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Um, sorry, but do you seriously think the Apollo program wasn't managed like a project, with quality assurance and heaps of subcontractor management hazzles? If so, perhaps you'd better not read any histories [nasa.gov]. The sound of illusions shattering can be so disheartening...

        Aerospace engineering had damned well better be managed and QA'd to within an inch of its life, if the metal is to get off the ground at all without killing everybody in a five hundred meter radius, simply because Bert thought Ernie knew whic

    • Did you really expect any different when Bush announced the goal? The problem is it was a political goal, intended to make Bush look good. There was no real scientific motivation behind it. Do you think Bush went to Nasa and said, "Look, I want to know what projects we can have that will push science forward the most." No, of course not. He sat there in his office and then decided, "Let's do it. We haven't been in a long time." That's just not a good enough reason to go.

      If we had focus, and decided
  • It was all a lie. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arthurpaliden (939626) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:04PM (#27697545)

    For all its grand announcements and associated fanfare the United States government has no intention of going back to the moon. The reason. There are no people, that is no eligible voters on the moon, so there is not point in going there.

    However, China does not care whether there are possible eligible voters there or not they just want the high ground. So they will go.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:11PM (#27697609) Homepage Journal

    First off, Griffin isn't NASA Administrator anymore, since Obama accepted his resignation as Obama was being inaugurated.

    Next up, I don't notice Griffin taking any responsibility himself for leaving NASA in disarray after years running it. Even though he messed up its budget [wikipedia.org]. Yes, Bush deserves blame for messing up NASA, including by putting a CIA Star Wars hack in charge of it, who wasted our time suppressing climate change research results. But Griffin doesn't have any standing to criticize anyone else until he owns up to his own bad work setting back our space program, now apparently by decades.

  • Time (Score:5, Funny)

    by lord_sarpedon (917201) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:17PM (#27697653)

    Look, guys. Got to face this sometime.

    America just isn't as young as it used to be.

    Forty years ago? Sure. We could get a rocket up, in little time at all. And though we'll certainly never forget that first time - we were ready to go again just a few short years later.

    But face the facts, people. The country isn't a spry 193 anymore. Let's just have hope that NASA is trying its best, Although its worrisome that the launch date doesn't seem very firm, just keep in mind - nothing would be worse than a premature launch.

    We don't intend to disappoint.

    • by plover (150551) *

      Fortunately, this is the 21st century, and we now have modern science to thank for assistance in that area. If NASA opts for the "blue capsule" approach, we should be able to set a hard date that will last long enough to satisfy the entire scientific community.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:21PM (#27697683) Homepage

    If we had a vote between spending whatever was needed to get to the moon again and bailing out another banker, I'll bet we'd vote to go to the moon. At least then we'd see some results from the spending.

  • ...for a privately funded moon shot.

  • WE may see a private enterprise moon landing before NASA can be bothered to go back.

  • G1 USA. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by M0b1u5 (569472) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:32PM (#27697747) Homepage

    When these things are delayed, the true cost escalate massively.

    It's mind boggling to me that Obama is shit-eating happy to hemorrhage 2 Billion a week at Iraqistan, for nothing and no one, but the space program gets fucked up the ass.

    This isn't about going to the moon at all: it's about retaining the expertise that America paid dearly for in the 60s! The huge sums invested (yes, "invested") in the space program kept US aeronautics and engineering at the top of the world for 50 years.

    But now the Euros make better planes, and US engineering is being rapidly eclipsed.

    As expertise is lost, so the budgets escalate, and the delays get bigger, further escalating costs.

    Pretty soon the USA is an "also ran" in space, and shortly thereafter it becomes an "also ran" on Earth. The writing is on the wall: only massive investment in science, technology and expertise can save the USA from utter collapse under the weight if 53 trillion dollars in entitlements.

    While space investment (under NASAs most specific commission - to provide all their data to any US firm) return well in excess of a dollar for every dollar invested, there are a couple of things that the USA simply MUST do in order to avoid total melt down.

    1) Don't start any more wars, and finish the ones you got going on now.

    2) Invest heavily in space technology

    3) Secure the supply of energy to the world for the entire future.

    Number 3 can be achieved by singlehandedly getting Fusion power tamed. I'm not talking about that ridiculous ITER thing - because the only thing which will come from that fiasco is a pile of Ph.D.s about 10 metres tall - and most of them won't be 'merkin Ph.D.s!

    No, the small-scale, tiny fusion efforts like Focus Fusion and Bussard's Polywell reactor - if practical will yield results for sums under a billion - while the potential payoff is measured in the hundreds of trillions of dollars in this century.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Archon-X (264195)

      I don't mean to troll, but what does it matter if it's the Chinese or 'Euros' that end up on the moon next?
      Why does it have to be the USA?

      Any advance in space-technology is going to benefit mankind as a whole.

      If Europe is more prepared at this point to go into space, then let it be europe!

  • by Landshark17 (807664) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:36PM (#27697779)
    It'll be done when they can play Duke Nukem Forever on it.
  • by j741 (788258) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:36PM (#27697785) Journal

    If it really costs 4 billion dollars to put a man on the moon, is it worth it? What resources can be economically gained from going to the moon? Is the moon made of pure Gold? If so, the shuttle's 22,700Kg cargo capacity full of pure, refined, 24 karat gold 22 would need to have a value of $1,762.12 per gram in order to make the trip economically break even. With today's gold value somewhere under $100 per gram, and the fact that the moon is not made of refined 14 karat gold, I think it will be a long time before a trip to the moon is economically viable at a cost of 4 billion dollars. ;)

    • by saiha (665337)

      Its abosolutely worth it. You are looking at pure mineral gains from the moon itself when a lot of the real gains could come from asteroids or further celestial bodies. 4 billion dollars is absolutely nothing at the moment so it would be a perfect time to invest in creating a base of operations on the moon.

      I haven't, and am not prepared to do the calculations but i would guess that fuel costs alone would cover any operation we make to set of a secondary stage (the first being earth) on the moon to recover a

    • by myrdos2 (989497)
      The moon is abundant in Helium 3. If we had fusion generators, a single shuttle load of helium 3 could supply the entire energy demands of the US for an entire year. Helium 3 is incredibly rare on Earth. Maybe in 50-75 years, we'll have a working fusion generator that can take advantage of it. In the meantime, it makes sense

      One of many sources: http://www.wired.com/science/space/news/2006/12/72276 [wired.com]
      • by myrdos2 (989497)
        ...it makes sense to ensure we have the capability to harvest it.

        Never post while dead tired.
    • It's not necessarily about a practical result, such as mining for resources, though that's certainly something to look towards in the future. The point *should* be to make massive advancements in the science and technology fields involved, just like in the 50's and 60's.

  • Congress messed up the Hubble Space Telescope project a few decades ago by similarly setting unrealistically low budgets. The scientists agreed to the budget because that was the only way to go forward. Perkin Elmers, the prime subcontractor for the lens, had to take all sorts of shortcuts to meet that budget. They had to skimp on quality control. Instead of multiple tests, they used the same system that guided the polishing of the lens to verify the polishing was correct. It turns out that a bolt was inserted backwards in the measuring laser. Of course, this meant that the mirror was wrongly-ground and that the error was not caught.

    The Ares Project is more important not only because it represents the next generation of American rocketry, but also because lives will be depending on the rocket. The early Apollo and Shuttle projects claimed lives because of shoddy work. History is in danger of repeating itself.

    Congress and NASA should either do it right, or not do it at all. Astronauts assume the risks at every launch, but we should not let them take that risk if it is too significant. NASA should just put the ball down and walk away if it believes that the project cannot be done correctly on the current budget. Not for political gamesmanship, but to protect astronauts.

  • by John Pfeiffer (454131) on Friday April 24, 2009 @12:27AM (#27698087) Homepage

    By the time they get there, they'll find a Chinese flag, an Indian flag, a Canadian flag, some monument to commercially-sponsored space travel, and a McDonald's.

    Do you want fries with that?

  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Friday April 24, 2009 @12:31AM (#27698109) Journal

    NASA administrator Mike Griffin blamed the White House, and the previous Bush administration, saying funding for Ares V and other projects fell from $4bn through 2015 to just $500m.

    It doesn't mention it in the summary, but people need to keep in mind that figure's only for the Ares V, which is supposed to be building on the Ares I. The GAO (which is certainly historically better in its cost estimates than NASA) has estimated that the Ares I and Orion capsule will cost more along the lines of $40-50 billion [hobbyspace.com].

    For comparison, funding SpaceX to finish developing commercial crew transport to the space station [spacepolitics.com] would cost $500 million. SpaceX would need to have a 100x cost overrun to cost as much as the Ares program.

  • Somehow seeing the words 'only' and '0.5 billion dollars' in one sentence gives me a strange feeling in my stomach.

  • I wished I got to see the moon landing live in the old days. I was hoping it would happen for Mars, but at this rate many of us and I will be dead when a human finally lands on Mars. Building a base on Moon would be cool too since we already landed there in the past. Someone frakkin please get going to space exploration in person.

  • by camperdave (969942) on Friday April 24, 2009 @02:07AM (#27698613) Journal
    NASA is stuck on ARES to the point where any alternative is dismissed out of hand. Engineers are being forced to pare down the Orion capsule, removing safety features so that ARES can lift it. Progress tests have been redefined to allow ARES to pass inspection. There have been reports of persecution for disagreeing with Griffin's cronies. The Stick Must Fly.

    Some NASA engineers thought differently. They got together and dusted off some alternatives from the shuttle design days, modernized them, and came up with the Jupiter/Direct plan. They have had their designs and budgets independently (but unofficially) reviewed and verified. They can get to the moon faster, cheaper, and safer. But sorry, not NASA approved.

    It is the Cathedral and the Bazaar all over again.
  • It probably won't be as comfy as the NASA version, but it will get there and back.

  • by thelandp (632129) on Friday April 24, 2009 @05:12AM (#27699345)
    Ok.

    So, we just cut the budget on this project from $4billion to $0.5billion.

    And in the meantime, we also just gave $700billion to a bunch of banks. To save them from bankruptcy that was of their own making.

    WTF !?!?!

    Give NASA some funding - like maybe a tenth of what is being spent in fixing the financial crisis? At least then we know it will be spent on achieving something great.

  • by gelfling (6534) on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:45AM (#27700361) Homepage Journal

    It's like reading "they wandered for 40 years" in the Torah. It's just meant to signify a very long time that you're not really going to care about. In a few years it will be pushed out again, and again and again. You see we're NEVER going back to the moon and manned spaceflight will be a memory by 2020. The ISS will be gone. The Shuttle will be gone, The Russians and Chinese will have focused on satellites and space based weapons. The Indians will also be in the commercial satellite business. The Europeans will will simply declare space science an unaffordable luxury of the Evil White Man. With no heavy lifters, no missions and no stomach for the challenge and the risk, mankind will have seen the end of manned spaceflight. Perhaps in a hundred years we'll take another look at it, but who knows? It will probably be against Sharia by then.

An Ada exception is when a routine gets in trouble and says 'Beam me up, Scotty'.

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