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NASA Moon Space

NASA Hedges Their Bets On Return To Moon 205

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the never-win-big-from-playing-it-safe dept.
With budget cuts in the works for everyone these days, NASA has decided to float an alternate plan for returning to the moon that is just a little bit cheaper than the current proposal. Of course, the new option would be very reminiscent of the old Apollo space capsule instead of the tricked out shuttle currently planned. "Officially, the space agency is still on track with a 4-year-old plan to spend $35 billion to build new rockets and return astronauts to the moon in several years. However, a top NASA manager is floating a cut-rate alternative that costs around $6.6 billion. This cheaper option is not as powerful as NASA's current design with its fancy new rockets, the people-carrying Ares I and cargo-lifting Ares V. But the cut-rate plan would still get to the moon."
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NASA Hedges Their Bets On Return To Moon

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 06, 2009 @07:03AM (#28592649)

    NASA always looks at these ideas and then normally decides that either the risk profile is too high (the most impressive thing about the first moon landings were the LACK of deaths)...

    The Apollo porgram lost three astronaunts.

  • Re:Um, why? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ihlosi (895663) on Monday July 06, 2009 @07:45AM (#28592845)
    Mars has a toxic atmosphere (0.01% Earth pressure, primarily CO2).

    Err ... the atmosphere of Mars is hardly toxic. The partial pressure of CO2 isn't anywhere near levels required for toxicity. Of course, it doesn't contain oxygen in the partial pressure range required by humans, but that makes it about as toxic as breathing a mix of 99.9% Nitrogen and 0.1% CO2. Fatal, yes, but not because of anything toxic in the gas mixture.

    If you want toxic, try everyone's favorite hellhole, Venus. Sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, etc. But of course, if you happen land on Venus, toxic compounds in the atmosphere are going to be the least of your worries.

  • Re:Oh please (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Monday July 06, 2009 @08:04AM (#28592947)
    Redundancy in engineering is multiple ETL lines, multiple shaped charges, (you'd be suprised how many explosives seperation devices are in the new system) multiple computers, etc. Redundancy in engineering is NOT proceeding on two similar projects at the same time.
  • Re:Um, why? (Score:3, Informative)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Monday July 06, 2009 @08:20AM (#28593059) Homepage Journal

    umm.. everything on the Shuttle set the state of the art. More information than you ever wanted to know: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiYhQtGpRhc [youtube.com]

    Enjoy.

  • Summary is wrong (Score:3, Informative)

    by Caduceus1 (178942) on Monday July 06, 2009 @09:20AM (#28593609) Homepage

    The summary is quite incorrect. The current Ares plan has NOTHING to do with a "tricked out shuttle", but is in fact FAR MORE like the Apollo/Saturn program than the cheaper, alternate plan shown in the article. The alternate plan is to utilize a modified form of the Shuttle launch system, but without a shuttle, instead opting to put modules on top of the external tank instead of alongside it. Obviously some sort of engine mount would be needed on the bottom.

  • Re:Oh please (Score:4, Informative)

    by Maury Markowitz (452832) on Monday July 06, 2009 @09:36AM (#28593731) Homepage

    > NASA is *always* looking at *all* the options and the DIRECT people are just, simply, wrong;

    Uhhh, ok.

    > but because the mission requires a Saturn class or bigger vehicle

    A vehicle that already exists in the majority, and the part that doesn't is much smaller than even Ares I . THAT'S the difference between DIRECT and Ares. Complaining about "their shit" and failing to mention this point is either bad politics or the height of stupidity.

    Maury

  • Re:Oh please (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 06, 2009 @10:42AM (#28594403)

    The Direct Team is concerned about NASA reprisals for two reasons. The first is that they've already happened. Look at these URLs for a specific case:

    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=12379.msg349876#msg349876
    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=12379.msg349945#msg349945

    The second reason is a highly flawed NASA analysis of Direct created in October 2007 but only made public in July 2008 after its existence was revealed by Wired.com:

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/257003main_NASA%20Performance%20Assessment%20of%20(DIRECT%202)%20Compiled.0702.pdf

      The Rebuttal created by the Direct Team states that NASA's conclusions in the analysis are "suspect because of the flawed inputs that informed the analysis" and that "the launch vehicle that was the subject of the analysis was not the launch vehicle that was proposed by DIRECT":

    http://www.launchcomplexmodels.com/Direct/documents/DIRECT_Analysis_Rebuttal_Final_090518.pdf

    Griffin himself said that Direct 2.0 "defied the laws of physics":

    http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_space_thewritestuff/2009/05/is-ares-i-adequate-obama-administration-or-order-a-new-study.html

    One can only conclude from this that there is concerted opposition to Direct that is not based on technical merit.

    As for John Shannon not being afraid to speak out, that's because he has nothing to fear. A switch to "Not-Shuttle-C" would require Congress to alter the Vision for Space Exploration, which dictates how NASA projects are funded. This would face significant opposition from NASA contractors, some of whom would stand to loose a lot of money if Constellation is canceled or significantly scaled back. Not to mention that Shannon himself said that he only has a team of about three people and that they haven't done even a basic analysis of the safety of a crewed version of Not-Shuttle-C.

    I'd like to also point out that if NASA switches to Shannon's shuttle, it would actually make it easier to switch to Direct 3.0. Assuming an upper stage is developed for Not-Shuttle-C, all the engines needed for the Jupiter rocket would have already been developed and human rated. Furthermore, the external tank tooling is also needed to build the Jupiter core, so all the necessary tooling for the Jupiter-130 will be in place. That means that switching to Jupiter rockets will be significantly easier than switching back to Ares I/V.

  • Re:Um, why? (Score:4, Informative)

    by confused one (671304) on Monday July 06, 2009 @11:21AM (#28594829)
    And that's what I get for posting on /. without having coffee first. You are absolutely correct. The fastest trajectory, with VASIMR and a nuclear power plant was projected to be in the 3-5 weeks time frame by Ad Astra and Dr. Chang-Diaz. 9 months (round figure) assumes a straight forward chemical rocket. Anything in between usually is one of the various ion/VASIMR drive scenarios. 18 months was one of the early round trip scenarios. Sorry about that. I'll stop posting until I get to the correct blood-caffiene level.

Man must shape his tools lest they shape him. -- Arthur R. Miller

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