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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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  • Oh please (Score:5, Interesting)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Monday July 06, 2009 @05:43AM (#28592595) Homepage Journal

    Sigh, they're not hedging their bets. Shannon thought it was interesting, so his team studied it. That's all. This is what people at NASA do. It's their job.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDGBxP3rYWw [youtube.com]

    "It is a small effort, it hasn't been looked at across NASA, because we already have a plan: Constellation. I think we should fund the plan."

    The point of Shannon's presentation was to say exactly what he says at the beginning of that video. NASA is *always* looking at *all* the options and the DIRECT people are just, simply, wrong; that's why no-one is interested in their shit. Not because there is some great big conspiracy to quash their option.. but because the mission requires a Saturn class or bigger vehicle. NASA has been given the mission to return astronauts to the surface of the Moon, use in-situ resources and stay there permanently.. then move on to Mars. You're not going to land an outpost on the Moon with a 70mt launcher, and you're definitely not going to go to Mars with that.

    • by ab8ten (551673)
      Well, then we're not going anywhere. NASA cannot *afford* a Saturn V class vehicle with its current budget. That budget is not going to increase any time soon. Therefore, we have to get the best for our money. That means Shuttle-C or DIRECT. Ares 5 is just too big for the infrastructure we have.
    • Re:Oh please (Score:4, Informative)

      by Maury Markowitz (452832) on Monday July 06, 2009 @08:36AM (#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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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%20Perform

  • meh.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 06, 2009 @05:43AM (#28592599)

    why not just outsource it to China....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 06, 2009 @05:47AM (#28592613)

    You know it makes sense. India or China could do it much cheaper. I'm sure they will be more than happy to stick a Stars and Stripes flag on the moon for you. And from this distance you won't even be able to see the 'Made in China' stamp on the flag.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      At least you'd be assured of a half decent takaway meal when you got there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      The Americans have already been to the moon. I find it sad that they managed to do the entire Apollo program [wikipedia.org] for somewhere between 20 and 25 million (135 billion in 2005 dollars), when they had to develop completely new technology. Why can't they just rebuild the Apollo rockets. Did they lose the plans along with the moon landing tapes? Going to the moon should have been figured out by now. We don't need any new technologies to accomplish this. Just reuse old designs.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Andy Dodd (701)

        Obsolescence. Many of the parts used in those old designs are no longer available, and it would cost far more to try and get those production lines spooled up (probably 3/4 of the production lines used to make electronic components for the old Apollo series computers are now EPA Superfund sites...) than to create a completely new design.

        • by sponga (739683)

          Add to it all the banned chemicals and other stuff they used to make those rockets still contaminates the ground.

          Speaking as someone who lives a couple blocks from Boeing and their Huntington Beach facility where they built the second stage rockets for the Saturn and much of the space industry, there are still efforts to get it cleaned up and yet I drive by those rusting buckets everyday that stored all the heavy acids/leads. I guess while filling those bins they would constantly overflow and splash out the

      • by zoney_ie (740061)

        Just because it "worked" back then does not mean that using the old designs would be acceptable today even if it were possible. There are too many advantages to modern technology to simply stick to the original plans. In any case, it wouldn't even be cheap to use the original plans considering you'd have to set up production of all the parts and so on.

        I think it is exceedingly unlikely that the value of the original Apollo program is being written off - undoubtedly they have avoided billions of dollars of e

      • The old design, even if we could build it, does not meet current safety standards. I've heard it said that, if they knew just how narrow the flight window was for Saturn V, they would not have flown it. I don't believe that's true; but, the mere fact that someone did make that statement, is indicative of how things have changed.
      • I agree, and also want to cautiously (given the audience here) posit the thought that spending that much money on something like that, at this point in the economic downswing, is just kinda wrong.
    • by Minwee (522556)

      Last winter I took a trip to the Kennedy Space Centre to watch a launch. While I was there I stopped in at the gift shop and picked up a coffee cup with a picture of the Space Shuttle on the side.

      It wasn't until I got home and washed the thing that I noticed the "Made In China" sticker on the bottom.

      Somehow it seemed appropriate.

    • by severoon (536737)
      I believe China makes telescopes that actually could see the stamp from here.
  • by MosesJones (55544) on Monday July 06, 2009 @05:56AM (#28592627) Homepage

    I love the idea that this is some how shocking.

    "NASA investigates other options and doesn't look at problem in blinkered and myopic way" - News at 11.

    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) or that it just doesn't stack up as something that will deliver the overall objectives.

    Hell in theory a great big Trebuchet could get someone to the moon, pretty one way mission though. The challenge here is to get someone to the moon, return them safely to earth and to establish a base on the moon. This is a HUGE challenge and one where a government agency has to do so at levels of safety that a commercial organisation wouldn't bother to meet.

    When people bitch and moan about the price then that is fair enough, but please lets be honest here. Getting to the moon remains a HARD problem, the Chinese are going to take a long bunch of years to get there, and you can't solve hard problems with CostCo models. Either the aim is to go to the moon or not. The price comes from the aim and ambition not because NASA act like congress after pork.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by frying_fish (804277)

        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.

        Which I think shows the point of the OP quite well. That considered is quite a lack of death really given what they were doing.

        • by infolation (840436) on Monday July 06, 2009 @08:58AM (#28593959)
          According to Aldrin and others, the general concensus was the first landing's chances were 50:50.

          Re-reading the recent influx of 40th annivesary articles about the Appollo program, on every level the success of the moon landings seems absolutely incredible. The more I read, the more my mind boggles at how touch-and-go the whole escapade was. Just watching the LLRV test flights [youtube.com] makes me wonder what the hell was going through their minds at a time when they didn't even know what the surface of the moon was made of.

          The more you investigate this subject, the more you realise that modern technology doesn't contribute that much to this gargantuan task. It's just brains, ideas and some sort of test-pilot 6th sense.
          • by fataugie (89032)

            And I think I remember reading a few years ago about the contingency plan in case something went wrong, that NASA would cut communication (if it was even still possible) and say the mission and men were lost along with some inspirational words from President Nixon.

            I don't remember where I read it, but I do remember thinking....damn. If they were stranded on the moon with some technical problem, Ground Control was going to say...tough crap, you guys are on your own. We've written you off.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by theIsovist (1348209)

      Hell in theory a great big Trebuchet could get someone to the moon...

      While I agree it's a great acheivement to get people to the moon AND back, I think you're understating the challenge of hitting an object 382500 km away and moving at 3600 km/h relative to the earth. That's not a bet I'd like to take.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      There is probably even a guy proposing they just dust off the old set and fake it again. It's win-win. It would save money and give Michael Bay something to do besides making crappy summer action movies.
    • by khallow (566160)

      I love the idea that this is some how shocking.

      "NASA investigates other options and doesn't look at problem in blinkered and myopic way" - News at 11.

      Just look at the Explorations Systems Architecture Study for an example of NASA looking at problems in a blinkered and myopic way. Recently, they finally released most of the appendices that described the reasoning and data that they used for justifying the Ares I. There were numerous biases. For example, the ULA people couldn't correct NASA's mistakes about the Delta IV Heavy and Atlas V Heavy vehicles. Assumptions were made about those two vehicles' performance (namely upper stage performance, IIRC) that

    • 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)

      Don't confuse luck with skill - especially when the sample set is so very small.

      For example, consider the (un)safety record of the LLRV [wikipedia.org] and it's descendant the LLTV. Consider also the loss of Apollo 1 and the accident on Apollo 13. Then there is the the failure of the CSM/LM docking system on Apollo 14, overcome only wi

  • by gadget junkie (618542) <gbponz@libero.it> on Monday July 06, 2009 @05:59AM (#28592635) Journal
    James Michener, the writer, was also on the NASA advisory board, and in his fiction Space [wikipedia.org], there are a few pages on the conflict in the planning stage between the Earth orbit faction, in which the base module would orbit Earth and the lander would go to the Moon surface and back, and the Lunar orbit faction, whose design was more efficient and eventually won.
    One of the characters says that by doing that the US had foregone the availability of a space station. It is interesting that the fallback plan goes in that direction, because it could be relatively easy to have the cargo craft double as a lorry to the ISS.
  • by MacAnkka (1172589) on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:10AM (#28592667)
    We don't need another Apollo-like mission to the moon. We've already done those enough. It's just going to cost money without any substantial new information. The next mission to the moon should be bigger and a lot different from what we have done before. Either have the balls to commit yourselves and the money to something meaningful or don't do it at all. I'd also like to point out that the moon isn't going anywhere in the near future. If a meaningful mission would cost too much now, there's no shame in waiting for the technology to became more mature.
    • by Canazza (1428553)

      The next mission to the moon should be bigger and a lot different from what we have done before.

      Like setting up a colony?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by turing_m (1030530)

        Bingo. The ultimate goal should be a colony that is capable of growing without further input of matter or energy from earth. In the interim a base would be necessary to sort out the bugs and get proof of concept. There are probably many other things that can generate the know-how on earth for a fraction of the price.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Nutria (679911)

          Bingo. The ultimate goal should be a colony that is capable of growing without further input of matter or energy from earth. In the interim a base would be necessary to sort out the bugs and get proof of concept. There are probably many other things that can generate the know-how on earth for a fraction of the price.

          The Moon

          • is a desert with fine, sticky (from static electricity) dust,
          • has daily temperature swings from 150 degrees Celsius below the freezing point of CO2 to 23 degrees Celsius above the boilin
          • by Ihlosi (895663)

            Colonizing such a region is about THE STUPIDEST IDEA I could ever imagine.

            You're not looking at the bright side. There are no terrorists, and, if you hurry, no commies, either.

            Also, are you really suggesting that the crew of a moon base walk around in space suits all the time? What's that "base" part for, then? And a leak in a space suit isn't a death sentence, at least not immediately.

            http://www.asi.org/adb/04/03/08/suit-punctures.html [asi.org]
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/STS-37 [wikipedia.org]

            • by Nutria (679911)

              What's that "base" part for, then?

              Will people stay in the base the whole time? Of course not.

              And a leak in a space suit isn't a death sentence, at least not immediately.

              Will moon walkers work in the bulky Shuttle suits, or in something slimmer, easier to work in, and easier to get in and out of (and thus with less redundancy than Shuttle EVA suits?) on a regular basis?

          • I don't know what sort of science fiction you've been reading, Nutria, but in Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, people colonized Luna by going underground. Granted, moonquakes [wikipedia.org] may still be an issue, but going underground allows colonists to avoid the issues you've mentioned.
            • by Nutria (679911)

              people colonized Luna by going underground

              Dust won't be a problem underground???

              avoid the issues you've mentioned.

              But create a jillion more issues.

              Mining is a lot more difficult than most people imagine, requiring lots of time and either people or equipment. Heavy equipment that would have to be lifted off earth.

              What "we" really need is an energy source better than LOX and H2.

    • by icebrain (944107) on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:45AM (#28592847)

      If a meaningful mission would cost too much now, there's no shame in waiting for the technology to became more mature.

      But you must also remember that technology doesn't just mature on your own, especially if it's something specialized. If this were a matter of computing power or technology, for example, you actually could just wait, since there are enough other pressures driving its development to keep it moving. But things like deep-space propulsion, closed-cycle life support systems, and vacuum-qualified hardware are pretty specific to the space industry; if you don't pay to keep developing them, they won't mature.

      And even then, you'll still need to use them and test them on occasion. Doing so probably involves flying some kind of mission. And if you're going to be doing that, you might as well accomplish other stuff on that mission, like, oh, land on the moon.

      • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:59AM (#28592915) Homepage Journal

        Yes, exactly. All those people who talk about how freakin' pointless the ISS was will completely forget about everything that was learnt about living safely in a vacuum when we start permanently living on the Moon. Then when people are saying how pointless the permanently manned outpost on the Moon is, they'll say the ISS was doing the really important research that we needed for a Mars transit mission. Then when the astronauts land on Mars those same people will say that, actually, it was all the research NASA did into making better aircraft and studying biconic aerodynamics that mattered. Then they'll say, no, no, it actually *was* all that research that was done on the Moon that is now being used to build a Mars base.. wow, it's so obvious now! Then they'll discover life on Mars and go, shit, I guess those 4 independent instruments on Viking that said there was life in the Mars soil actually were right - guess we wasted years of effort to discover what we already knew but were unwilling to accept. But by then it'll be too late, suckers!

        • by Ihlosi (895663) on Monday July 06, 2009 @07:05AM (#28592953)
          All those people who talk about how freakin' pointless the ISS was will completely forget about everything that was learnt about living safely in a vacuum when we start permanently living on the Moon.

          Add the latest Hubble maintenance mission to the list. That was an exercise in doing repairs while in space, without the dire consequences (apart from a few hundred million bucks) if it failed.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by QuantumG (50515) *

            Oh yeah, it also showed how completely ridiculous the idea of on-orbit assembly remains. I'd love it if it wasn't true. We could launch up parts, assemble them into some giant battlestar galactica type ship and fly around the solar system in style. But the reality is, just pulling some parts out and putting some new ones in took hours and hours of grueling labor. We really need better suits, with better gloves, and the Moon shot will motivate that.

             

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Ihlosi (895663)

              But the reality is, just pulling some parts out and putting some new ones in took hours and hours of grueling labor.

              Are you talking about Hubble or the ISS now? Hubble was never meant to be serviced in space, that's why it was such a pain in the rear to do so. The ISS was designed to be modular, and they've been quite successful at adding new modules to it.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                Hubble was never meant to be serviced in space, that's why it was such a pain in the rear to do so.

                But of course it was. The first service mission was planned even before HST launched. The schedule got mixed up
                a bit because of the corrective optics that needed to be made, but manned service missions were part of the
                design from the beginning. That's one of the reasons why HST's orbit is where it is: As far out as possible
                within the constraints of "can still be reached by the Shuttle".

                However, some of the things that got fixed/swapped/serviced on this year's mission were indeed not intended
                for in-or

            • by icebrain (944107) on Monday July 06, 2009 @08:15AM (#28593539)

              And that gets right back to my point: You learn by doing , not by making powerpoint slides.

              Go back to the first US spacewalks during the Gemini program. Ed White's wasn't too bad, as he was just floating around and didn't have to try and work on things. But the next couple, where the astronauts were given tasks like remove sample packages and mess with tools, were almost scary--they quickly worked themselves into exhaustion and overheated, making work almost impossible. What everyone thought would be easy and relatively effortless actually wasn't.

              Finally, they took all of those lessons and re-figured their approach to spacewalking. Handholds were added, equipment was changed, and the training was revolutionized with the now-standard underwater practice. On Gemini XII, Buzz Aldrin put all of that into practice.

              The same thing will happen as we move forward. The lessons learned from the Apollo surface EVAs will be incorporated in the new generation of surface suits. Those currently in use for shuttle EVAs have benefited from years of previous experience capturing satellites and working on Hubble. New tools and work methods build on the ones used before.

              So yes, develop your new suits and gloves with feedback from the men and women who use them. Make prototypes, and test them. Build flight-ready ones and have someone try them out in a vacuum chamber. Lather, rinse, repeat. But don't just sit on your butt and expect it to happen from nothing. If you want the tech to improve, you still have to pay for it--and I think that's what so many people are missing.

              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by Minwee (522556)

                You learn by doing , not by making powerpoint slides.

                So how do you learn how to make powerpoint slides?

  • Error in summary? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FTWinston (1332785) on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:20AM (#28592695) Homepage

    Of course the new option would be very reminiscent of the old Apollo space capsule instead of the tricked out shuttle currently planned.

    Methinks that even the author didn't RTFA... The shuttle-based plan is the new contingiency plan. And both plans would involve the same "Apollo-like" Orion capsules. I guess that if no one else does, then its misguided to even expect authors to RTFA?

    The worrying part of this design is that the same orion capsule would be only able to carry 2 astronauts at a time during launch, presumably due to fuel constraints. While the rest of it sounds like a pretty reasonable bet, this bit just makes me think "well what's the point?"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by confused one (671304)

      It's not a fuel constraint. This "new" Shuttle Derived Heavly Lift Vehicle plan is essentially the Shuttle C cargo-only design that they looked at a few decades back. They've stuck the manned Orion capsule and support module in the cargo container... It simply does not have the lift capacity to put something big enough into trans-lunar orbit. If they cut the crew back to two, and cut all the associated equipment requirements, it barely gets you there. Shuttle hardware was designed to be single stage to

      • Re:Error in summary? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Monday July 06, 2009 @07:11AM (#28592997) Homepage Journal

        It'll take 5.5 years to man-rate a Delta IV, and you'll have to pay for the privilege and gift the ULA new launch facilities (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2m-UoOM7eg). Alternately, you could fund COTS-D and have a manned vehicle from SpaceX in 2.5 years (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O81Zq02eStg). If you gifted SpaceX the launch escape system you can have a manned vehicle next year (I totally just made that up, but it makes sense to me). That said, if you cut Ares I now you're cutting Ares V. Ares I is "behind schedule" because they're working on the 5-segment solid stack. Without that the Ares V won't fly either.. so, sooner or later they have to do this work. Hopefully after the Ares I-X flight test (which, btw, will be a 4 segment solid stack, I know, wtf) people will stop armchair quarterbacking and just let NASA do their freakin' job.

        • Re:Error in summary? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by confused one (671304) on Monday July 06, 2009 @08:05AM (#28593441)

          It'll take 5.5 years to man-rate a Delta IV, and you'll have to pay for the privilege and gift the ULA new launch facilities (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2m-UoOM7eg).

          5.5 years and paying for the priveledge... Apply that to SpaceX please and tell me how that affects your suggestion. You pay for the priveledge anyway. NASA does not build it's own launch vehicles. Even the shuttle, which is a NASA design, was built and is maintained by an army of contractors. Engines are supplied by Pratt-Whitney Rocketdyne. Boosters by ATK. Tanks by Lockheed-Martin. and so on. For what it's worth, it probably won't take 5.5 years to man-rate a Delta IV. That, in their own words, is a conservative estimate. It could certainly happen faster. It, honestly, could take longer. Yes, ULA launch facilities are inadequate for manned vehicle launch. Existing shuttle facilities won't work for Ares I or Ares V either. Either way, you have to upgrade the facilities you have.

          Alternately, you could fund COTS-D and have a manned vehicle from SpaceX in 2.5 years (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O81Zq02eStg). If you gifted SpaceX the launch escape system you can have a manned vehicle next year (I totally just made that up, but it makes sense to me).

          SpaceX is clearly well on there way. They have, however, set extremely optimistic schedules and have not done significant work to man-rate the platform or the Dragon module. I fully expect them to be performing their COTS ISS supply mission in the next year or two but I don't put as much faith into their ability to scale up to putting people into LEO as quickly as they say they can. That issue was brought up during the Augustine Commission hearing. Gifting the launch escape system to SpaceX won't work -- it's designed for Orion, not Dragon. It would need to be redesigned for use there. Oh, btw, don't take me to task and then use "just made that up" in your reply

          That said, if you cut Ares I now you're cutting Ares V. Ares I is "behind schedule" because they're working on the 5-segment solid stack. Without that the Ares V won't fly either.. so, sooner or later they have to do this work

          Ares 1 isn't behind because of the 5-segment stack. It's been ground tested. It works. It's behind because there are vibration issues requiring redesign of the 5-segment stack and interstage. These vibration issues are present in the 4-segment stack as well but are damped by the mass of the shuttle system. These changes are specifically required for the Ares I use and would not affect Ares 5, which I'll get back to... There are also limitations on mass, which have required additional engineering on the Orion and a cut in the number of people carried to LEO. A single booster, while it generates a lot of thrust, has insufficient capability to carry a heavy manned vehicle to LEO. I'm aware that the current Ares V design requires the booster; and, that cutting Ares 1 development moves some of the booster development cost to Ares V. For what it's worth, this applies to your previous suggestion to use SpaceX COTS capability as well. I'm suggesting that using the booster in the Ares I configuration to launch people to LEO is a poor plan. The only big issue here is, what happens if the manufacture of the SSRB's is shut down for a while.

          I only wish I was armchair quarterbacking... Never mind.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by khallow (566160)

          It'll take 5.5 years to man-rate a Delta IV, and you'll have to pay for the privilege and gift the ULA new launch facilities (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2m-UoOM7eg). Alternately, you could fund COTS-D and have a manned vehicle from SpaceX in 2.5 years (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O81Zq02eStg).

          OTOH, with the Delta IV and the ULA, you'll have a manned launch vehicle in 2.5 years, while you might have one in 5.5 years from SpaceX. What? My prediction doesn't agree with your prediction? Well that's the fun of making predictions when you have no information on which to base those predictions.

  • by solevita (967690) on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:41AM (#28592817)
    On software licenses [thehumanjourney.net]... Lower their TCO and get to the Moon? We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
  • I understand NASA is going to buy some return tickets from RyanAir - they fly to Moon(ISS) - sure, that's a bit out of town, but there's a shuttle bus for the remainder of the journey and it makes the actual main ticket cost look quite cheap. It may be also be possible to share a ride from ISS to Moon and split the fare.

    Just avoid the in-flight food as the prices are a rip-off - best take a few freeze-dried panninis and a carton of orange juice with you.

  • by arthurpaliden (939626) on Monday July 06, 2009 @07:06AM (#28592973)
    They will hich a ride with the Chineese.
  • "NASA hedges their bets"? That's strange wording. Either it's just singular ("NASA hedges its bets") or it's treated as a collective ("NASA hedge their bets"). A hybrid sounds weird, as though they were hedging others' bets.
  • by Fotograf (1515543) on Monday July 06, 2009 @07:09AM (#28592993) Homepage
    is it cheaper than just do it again in Hollywood? Probably yes.
    • It would be far too expensive to do it in Hollywood. You'd have to buy huge tracts of land for the launch apron. You'd have to build a Vehicle Assembly Building and a Launch Pad. You'd have to build a huge reservoir of water to cool the launch pad during launch. There'd be all sorts of safety issues as well, considering that a launch is generally done in a westerly and slightly southerly direction to take advantage of the Earth's rotation. This would mean that any launch debris would fall on some of th
  • Forget the moon. Mars is where it's at.
  • Summary is wrong (Score:3, Informative)

    by Caduceus1 (178942) on Monday July 06, 2009 @08:20AM (#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.

  • 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.

    The new system could also launch a year earlier, and fewer space workers would have to be laid off because of that, he said.

    Something about those two statements doesn't make sense. Maybe it's the 30 billion dollars that I severely doubt is just material costs between the systems. It's like he's trying to sell the layoffs in one segment and disregarding fewer work done in others, hence lower costs.

    This is such typical business shit that NASA should be somewhat immune to. They have a chance here to "refactor" and really make some advances that can be used down the line. Instead they're proposing the cheaper alternative whic

  • Brad C Edwards NIAC study into building a Space Elevator pointed out that the next generation launchers would have to have enough lift capacity to send the initial 20 ton capacity spool and deployer into space. I don't know how much that would weigh, but I bet if some significant breakthroughs in CNT technology are made in the lifetime of this launch system then the priorities of what NASA tasks them to do may change dramatically.

    I know we haven't successfully made long strand CNT's yet but it is feasible

  • by XB-70 (812342)
    Before everyone gets all excited about going to the moon again, consider the following:

    1. After reading Eugene Cernan's autobiography "Last Man On The Moon", the bottom line conclusion is that going there is fucking dangerous. Almost every flight he was on, he came close to dying. Those odds will certainly be improved with today's technology, but they are still very high.

    2. During the lunar program, there were supposed to be 20 Apollos. Only 14 flew. The reason was that, once Armstrong landed, the publi

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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