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NASA To Team Up With Russia For Future Mars Flight 318

Posted by timothy
from the you-bring-the-caviar-we'll-bring-the-twinkies dept.
xp65 writes "NASA has invited Russia to carry out a joint manned flight to Mars, the head of NASA's Moscow office said on Tuesday. Russia is currently planning to send its own expedition to Mars some time in the future. Marc Bowman told an international aviation and space conference in Moscow that the Mars mission should take advantage of the achievements made by the International Space Station and use a multinational crew."
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NASA To Team Up With Russia For Future Mars Flight

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  • Understanding (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KraftDinner (1273626) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @12:50PM (#29188709)
    I've always thought that the only way for us as a race to become a unified nation is to simple explore space together. As soon as one nation decides to call Mars or whatever other celestial body their own, it will just be downhill from there.
    • Re:Understanding (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @12:57PM (#29188841)

      I think your underestimating the importance of competition.

      Russia going to Mars alone could motivate a second space race. The end result is someone standing on Mars in 10 years instead of 20. NASA is more likely to get funding and motivation if they are competing.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ThinkWeak (958195)
        The second space race has already started. With India and China in active development, this would be a great opportunity for the U.S.

        We team up with Russia to get to Mars, meanwhile India and China work to do the same.

        It's OK to not have to compete with EVERY other country out there. We don't always have to be THAT GUY.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Russia going to Mars alone could motivate a second space race

        Nah, cause Russia is no longer the "Evil, Godless Soviet Union". China, on the other hand, might motivate us.

      • Re:Understanding (Score:5, Insightful)

        by johncadengo (940343) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @05:56PM (#29193345) Homepage

        In a speech [youtube.com] to the UN, Reagan once said:

        "I couldn't help but say to him, just think how easy his task and mine might be in these meetings that we held, if suddenly there was a threat to this world from some other species from another planet outside in the universe. We'd forget all the little local differences we've had between our countries and we'd find out once and for all that we really are all human beings here on this earth together."

    • by relguj9 (1313593)

      I've always thought that the only way for us as a race to become a unified nation is to simple explore space together. As soon as one nation decides to call Mars or whatever other celestial body their own, it will just be downhill from there.

      Reminds me of the Robber's Cave [wikipedia.org] experiment that I actually read from someone posting here.

      Would be interesting if we could get China involved in the venture.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      And why would we want a unified planet? I mean you can't even get to one p.o.v with all your friends, let alone a whole country, and you expect global lockstep?

      There will always be differences and arguments. The point is that we will hopefully be able to solve them without ripping our heads off. But this does not mean we all have to live under the same rules. We can live happily side-by-side with differing view.

      The only thing a global unity is absolutely guaranteed to bring, is the lack of any freedom of ch

  • by martas (1439879) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @12:54PM (#29188787)
    Mars gets its ass to YOU! And as a result Earth is obliterated. That's why Capitalism won.
  • by Dr_Ken (1163339) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @12:55PM (#29188797) Journal
    The partnership thing that is. Emerging powers like the BRIC countries plus Japan have the $$$ and we have the technical know-how and experience. And there is no doubt the prestige factor at work here too.
    • Because if you look the on the ISS page of Wiki it shows the US as financing three of the four euro modules.

      So who is going to save money? Can we realistically expect that nations contribute equally or of their means? With regards to that last part I don't see how we have means, unless we are totally accepting of the fact we can spend money we never had.

      • by Dr_Ken (1163339)
        "Means" as in launch infrastructure, tracking stations, facilities and trained and experienced personnel and etc. It would be waaaay cheaper to write NASA a check than take decades developing their own. Or so it seems to me.
      • is that we have given LOADS more money to Russia to keep them going and that is not considered part of those modules. However, I have to believe that getting all the countries of the ISS to go to the moon AND mars is in everybodies best interest. We need to jointly develop space and learn to work closer together. It is the same spirit that NATO did for the west.
    • by Markvs (17298)
      Except that in BRIC, R = Russia, which I'm told has a little space knowledge of its own.
      • by Dr_Ken (1163339)
        Indeed they do. But there must be something in it for the Russians or else why would they enter into a partnership if they didn't benefit from it?
  • It does make sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damburger (981828) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @12:56PM (#29188813)
    The ISS as an international logistics project has been a resounding success. The European ATV, for example, can be launched and then dock with the ISS under the direction of 4 different control centres in different parts of the globe. The station itself is the most massive spacecraft ever assembled and has been constructed from components built by different agencies in different countries, and they work together pretty well. Most of the valid criticisms of the ISS are of the utility of having a LEO space station, not as the ability of the ISS to perform that function.
    • by debrain (29228)

      The station itself is the most massive spacecraft ever assembled

      ... by hoomans [wordpress.com].

    • by Gary W. Longsine (124661) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @02:07PM (#29189903) Homepage Journal
      With so many modules built, independently, in so many countries, spare parts from cancelled Russian and stalled American programs re-purposed, multiple, incompatible electrical systems, and whatnot, it's pretty easy to see that the ISS mode of international cooperation was not particularly efficient. Billions of dollars could have been saved if it had been coordinated in a smarter way. ISS was a success by some measures, but probably shouldn't be used as a model to be copied.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Waffle Iron (339739)

      You present the process of kludging together this boondoggle and spreading pork to different political centers as proof of its "success". You neglect to mention that it was so vastly over budget and behind schedule that they canceled most any of the "science" they planned to do on it. The main purpose of its remaining skeleton crew has been to try to keep it from falling out of orbit, as well as a feeble excuse to keep its sister boondoggle, the Space Shuttle, off of the scrap heap. This entire enterprise h

  • by Anonymous Coward
    We're talking about going to another *planet* here, not just the moon. It's several orders of magnitude farther. It's going to cost a ton more. It's more likely to get done if the costs are shared by several nations. And it can truly be an achievement for all of mankind, rather than a single country.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @12:58PM (#29188873)

    Will each nation have to provide their own toilets?

    • The real question is... which one gets to restart HAL-9000?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Tablizer (95088)

        which one gets to restart HAL-9000?

        HAL runs the toilets too? I can see why they trimmed that from the flick.

        Dave: "Open the flush valve, HAL. I've made a doogy."

        HAL: "Sorry Dave, I cannot do that."

        Dave: "HAL, you know it will smell like [bleep] in here if you don't open it."

        HAL: "I'm sorry, Dave, but flushing would conflict with the mission objectives."

        Dave: "HAL, the mission objectives are down the toilet right now."

        HAL: "Was that meant as a pun, Dave? I find it low-quality humor.....Dave, what are you sco

    • Only if Turkey joins the mission.
  • I approve (Score:5, Funny)

    by oldhack (1037484) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @01:01PM (#29188921)
    Cynical NASA ploy to pull in the Russian babes. Can't blame them - it's a long-ass flight. Actually, good idea for short flights, too.
  • by Thelasko (1196535) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @01:03PM (#29188957) Journal
    "Mr. President, please. Is this why you called us here? We already gave up! You won! We are too busy trying to perfect universal indoor plumbing!"
  • by reporter (666905) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @01:05PM (#29188991) Homepage
    Russia has outstanding scientists and engineers. Consider their achievements: Sputnik [nasa.gov], the Mig 29, contributions [nobelprize.org] to physics, etc.

    However, the Russian system -- with its corruption and massive budget cuts (afte 1991) in government-funded research and development -- has hampered Russians scientists and engineers in their effort to produce breakthrough technology. NASA's collaboration with the Russian scientific community (and possible NASA funding for it) will help the Russians to achieve what they can not achieve in their own system.

    If only President Dmitry Medvedev and Dictator Vladimir Putin created a Western society (with its intellectual freedom and clean government) in Russia and generously funded government research and development, then the Russians would likely dominate the winners of the Nobel Prizes in the sciences and of the Fields Medals in mathematics.

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @01:11PM (#29189075)

    If we really want to do anything with space, we need to start doing things with economic significance. The moon trip should have been about pioneering the way towards moon habitats, moon industry. In that case it would have been money well-spent. All we really did was plant a flag and thumb our noses at the Soviets. Entertaining but of little real use. Sure, there was some spin-off technology but we threw it all away.

    Planting a flag on Mars would end up being a similar waste of time, not if we weren't going to follow it up with anything else.

    If we were really serious about it, we'd look into moving heavy industry offworld. Prospect our nearby apollo objects, see about mining them. Put manufacturing in Earth orbit. The only thing that comes down to Earth would be finished products in nice, simple, recyclable dropshells.

    We might want to look into solar power sats while we're at it.

    If nothing else, at least space exploration and living offers us an engineering challenge of figuring out how to live minimally with minimal resources. Our problem in this day and age is that resources are too cheap and there's little incentive to save. If gas were a nickel a gallon, the only selling point for fuel efficiency would be not having to stop for gas as often. Gas costs more than that, of course, but it still doesn't cost enough for us to take conservation and fuel efficiency seriously. And we don't. It's just like the buffet. If you go to one that charges by the pound, you're careful about what you take. If you go to one that doesn't charge by the pound, you take as much as you want and are casually wasteful about what you leave on the plate. Simple human nature.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Considering the ROI of the moon landing, ti was WELL worth our investment.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by drgould (24404)

        Considering the ROI of the moon landing, ti was WELL worth our investment.

        Virtually all the ROI of the moon landings was from the technology developed for the program, not from going to the moon itself.

        I suppose the lesson is to develop the technology to go to Mars, but not actually go

        Or go back to the moon; closer, cheaper, quicker.

    • by Lord Ender (156273) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @01:30PM (#29189313) Homepage

      I expect that you are underestimating the costs involved traveling through Earth's gravity well. I've heard that if a rock of solid gold were orbiting Earth, it would not be economically viable to de-orbit it. Unless we discover something out there that is fantastically valuable, "industry" will not be the motivating factor for space travel.

      Having self-sufficient off-world biospheres? That's a worthwhile endeavor simply because survival of the species is important; it's just not valuable to private industry (oh and suck it, libertarians).

    • by Shakrai (717556)

      All we really did was plant a flag and thumb our noses at the Soviets. Entertaining but of little real use.

      You don't consider all of the technological advances that stemmed from Apollo to be of real use? What about the scientific knowledge that was gained from study of the moon rocks we brought back?

    • Yup. We should just stay home and read Kim Stanley Robinson's "Red Mars" series. It's way more interesting than the reality of this mission could ever be.
  • if Russia will still take money for the first flight to mars. I mean if I got 1 dollar from everyone who told me they wanted me to leave this world, I could most likely be able to afford a seat on a Russian mars mission.
  • by jameskojiro (705701) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @01:13PM (#29189099) Journal

    Strung out Russian Cosmonaut: American Parts, Russian Parts.... All Made in Taiwan.....

  • by MosesJones (55544) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @01:18PM (#29189181) Homepage

    While the Russian(USSR) Space programme was certainly less sophisticated than the US one its also certainly true that the engineering efficiency of the Russian programme was based around long-life. This is why its a Soyuz capsule that works as the escape pod on the ISS and why the Russians have held the records around how long people stay in space.

    Combining the electronic expertise of the US with the engineering expertise of the Russians sounds like an excellent thing to do. It also means that the US can learn from people who have experience of keeping individuals healthy in space for over a year which is what you will need to get to Mars and back.

    The Best Space programme to Mars

    Designed by Apple
    Engineered by the Russians
    Electronics by the Americans
    Rockets by the Germans
    Food by the French

    The Worst Space programme to Mars

    Designed by the US Senate
    Engineered by Chrysler
    Electronics by Alfa Romeo
    Rockets by North Korea
    Food by McDonalds

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Colonel Korn (1258968)

      The Best Space programme to Mars

      Designed by Apple

      As long as stylish, minimalistic interiors of ships that explode are your thing.

    • "Heaven is where the Police are British, the Chefs are French, the Mechanics are German, the Lovers Italian and it's all organised by the Swiss.

      Hell is where the Chefs are British, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, the Police are German and it's all organised by the Italians."

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>Hell is where the Chefs are British, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, the Police are German and it's all organised by the Italians."

        'I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men and German to my horse'
        -Charles V, HRE

    • Hey now...Alfa's electronics aren't that bad! I'd rather see them do the design in "The Best Space programme", though...Italians are excellent industrial designers and have way more aeronautical experience than Apple.
    • I'm pretty sure I don't want you eating smelly cheese and runny eggs when we're cooped up in a can the size of bus in zero gravity for a couple years. French fries, sure. French bread, fine. Just don't get carried away.
  • by DiscountBorg(TM) (1262102) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @01:22PM (#29189223)
    Growing up in the 20th century the mission to mars was always just around the corner when presented in science books and media in general. At some point I got used to hearing the so-called predicted dates for when this could happen being pushed back yet another decade after yet another decade. The cold war race to the moon was one thing. But I think the only way we will ever conceivably branch out into space beyond the moon (and to mars) is for nations to work together sharing resources and knowledge. Nice to see these steps being taken in the right direction.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HanzoSpam (713251)

      Growing up in the 20th century the mission to mars was always just around the corner when presented in science books and media in general.

      Actually, it could have been, it was within our grasp and we let it go.

      Personally, I've always figured the day the US jumped the shark as a nation was 12/19/1972 - the day Apollo 17 returned to earth, and we never went back.

      Somehow, I don't seriously think we ever will.

    • You know this really wouldn't be so hard if they would just Read The Fucking Manual [wikipedia.org].

      Sheesh. Do we have to think for everybody?.
  • by vandelais (164490) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @01:34PM (#29189373)

    Maria Sharapova and Anna Kournikova with me to keep me company on the lengthy trip there.
    Sky rockets in flight. Afternoon delightski!

  • Future Conflict? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @01:39PM (#29189445) Homepage Journal

    What if a new cold-war-style conflict arises during the mission? Or even a "hot" war? Nations may grow nationalistic and petty, harming the mission. Once it leaves the ground, a smooth divorce is not possible.
             

    • by sconeu (64226)

      Then the US team will go to Discovery, while the Russian team stays in Leonov.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The mutual need for survival would probably cause the astronauts/cosmonauts to cooperate long enough to get back to Earth alive. Where they'd land would be an interesting question, of course.

  • Sparse details (Score:5, Informative)

    by FleaPlus (6935) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @02:06PM (#29189861) Journal

    Before everybody gets all crazy and excited about this, there doesn't seem to be any details about Marc Bowman's comments anywhere (not even NASA's site) except for a 5-sentence blurb from RIA Novosti (the Russian state-owned news agency). There was a cool article in IEEE Spectrum recently about Russia's Mars dreams [ieee.org], but they were along the lines of "here's some neat ideas, we need money."

    My suspicion is that Marc Bowman said something generic like "it would be nice for Russia and NASA to work together more in the future on things like Mars missions," and RIA Novosti just decided to run with it.

  • Yeah, right. These guys can't even agree on who gets to use what toilet [slashdot.org] on the ISS. There is no way this can work.
    • Well, if NASA and Russia were in the back seat of the spaceship, and my father was driving, he would tell them both that they should have gone before they left. And that they'll both just have to shut up and hold it in until they get there.

  • Ok, this is beyond strange. We know Arthur C Clarke predicted the creation of geo-stationary satellites - but predicting the name of the father of the first man to reach Mars too! Marc Bowman? Father of Dave Bowman by any chance (http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0002896/). That is a weird coincidence....

    Anyway :) I'm sure he probably just changed his name to make history come true :)

  • With all the crap the Russians pulled during the construction of ISS, why try with them again? Diverting money and resources to Mir, not meeting engineering specs, etc. They sound like bad partners. I'd go with a joint US-Euro venture.
  • by DarthVain (724186) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @03:21PM (#29190989)

    Just don't have any women on board, particularly Canadian women, otherwise the the Russians will kill each other trying to kiss her.

    Mars Epic Fail (Didn't last even one month):
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6955149/page/3/ [msn.com]

    Mars Epic Win:
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2009/07/15/after-three-months-in-a-tin-can-six-men-end-simulated-mars-mission/ [discovermagazine.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MartinSchou (1360093)

      Alternatively one could leave out the men from the mission. Women tend to weigh less than men, so you'll have room for more cargo. As they weigh less, they also eat less, which again allows you to either carry more cargo or have the food last longer.

      In an environment where you either experience micro gravity or 1/3rd gravity you don't need the "big strong" physique that people tend to think is necessary for exploration. And women are generally better at multitasking than men, which is definitely an advantag

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