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NASA May Drop Ares I-Y Test Flight 203

Posted by timothy
from the other-people's-money dept.
Matt_dk writes "Just one week after the first test launch of the Ares I-X rocket, NASA says it may decide to cancel a follow-up launch called Ares 1-Y, which wasn't scheduled until 2014. Reportedly, program managers recommended dropping the flight because, currently, there isn't funding to get an upper stage engine ready in time. Depending on whether the Obama administration decides to continue the Ares I program, this decision may be moot. Earlier this week Sen. Bill Nelson said Obama may make a decision on NASA's future path, based on the report by the Augustine Commission, by the end of November."
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NASA May Drop Ares I-Y Test Flight

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  • Re:Internal Interest (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 05, 2009 @04:08PM (#29998836)

    Because there's still plenty of work to do in the meantime. Just because a test flight isn't going to be scheduled doesn't mean the vehicle development will stop. The same thing happened with the Shuttle in the 70's. Ultimately, NASA decided to have the first test flight be manned/crewed (considered by many to be the single most hazardous test flight ever conducted -- John Young and Robert Crippen are studs forever).

    We might see the first "real" test of the Ares-I happen during the first crewed flight.

  • Government Fail. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jugalator (259273) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @04:11PM (#29998884) Journal

    So Bush initiates Project Constellation, and at a time when it's barely started, after lots of time and resources have been plown into structuring the project, it's on the verge of being shut down?

    Well, if it's shut down, at least we saw some cool flames at the back of a rocket!111 Durr...

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @04:24PM (#29999102) Journal
    were about the same. Both ran up monster deficits for no real reason. Both had economic bumps up front, so, I could not blame them for that spending. BUT, once the economy turned, they both increased the debts and threw money away. Between their debts, invasions of other countries, stealing of American rights, etc, the American dream is about to be the American nightmare.
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @04:27PM (#29999146) Journal

    Change you can believe and stuff? What better than a daring scientific project of national proportions to catalyze the United States, to unite the minds and the hearts of all the people, to inspire them, to give them hope and a vision?

    During the Apollo missions America had a dream larger than life, a vision that propelled her forward for decades to come. The creativity, genius and overpowering enthusiasm that this country showed was what, I think, eventually broke the USSR - the Star Wars "threat" was so much more frightening to the Soviets, because they (the old gard, anyway) still had in mind the Apollo missions and thought that these crazy yankees might just pull this off!

    America is now just a shell of its former self - a gigantic trade and budget deficit, a country wholly subservient to foreign (mostly arab) oil, and almost bought out by the Chinese government.

    You want a stimulus, one that will really stimulate all the people, all their endevours, all their emotions? Give NASA more, much more money, and tell them to dream big!

  • Re:5 years? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmai l . c om> on Thursday November 05, 2009 @04:38PM (#29999306) Homepage

    Back then they were able to link landing on the moon with beating the Russians, which at the time virtually guaranteed as much money as you could possibly want to accomplish the goal.

    Of course, after that goal was reached, NASA's funding was slashed

     
    That's what the urban legend would have you believe, but as usual, the reality is much different.
     
    In reality, NASA's peak funding (during the Moon race) was in 1965 - and was slashed dramatically in '66/'67. (Before the Saturn V even flew, it's production was already capped!) By the time Apollo 11 landed, four missions of the planned sequence had already been cut and the program was starting to run on fumes.

  • Making Hay (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @04:43PM (#29999370)
    The summary is trying to make hay. There are other tests already on the board between now and the 2014 Ares I-Y test flight. Project managers simply decided that the objectives of that particular test fly could be achieved by other means (test flights) thereby saving the program unnecessary expenses. A very helpful thing considering their already tight budget.
  • Re:More proof... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SECProto (790283) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @04:47PM (#29999432)
    Actually, conservative is always used in a relative sense - see for example the Conservative Party of Canada. While they are quite conservative relative to most Canadians and Canadian political parties, they really would not be branded as such south of the 49th.
  • by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @04:49PM (#29999460)

    The saddest part is the test launch of the Falcon 9 has been sitting on the pad since JANUARY. It's been tied up in paperwork ever since. If I had my tinfoil hat handy, I'd say it was tied up solely to make sure the Ares launch happened first. SpaceX has demonstrated their competence with a successful payload delivery to orbit on board a Falcon 1. Not giving the go-ahead for the Falcon 9 smells of excuses, to me. Canaveral is built to handle rockets that size, and the Canaveral range officers have a fine understanding of rockets that size. They know how to use an abort button if necessary. There isn't any danger to anybody, anywhere, whether it works or not. The hazards are to Elon Musk's wallet and to certain pork barrel charity-for-engineers NASA programs. Playing politics has crippled space efforts more than any launch fatalities, anywhere.

  • Re:More proof... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kevinNCSU (1531307) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @04:56PM (#29999568)

    I'm not sure not spending money on space flight in a conservative philosophy as I at least would consider space abilities to be very much in line with providing for the national defense. There's a lot of overlapping technology and abilities in that realm and most conservatives don't have a problem with the government spending money on programs that are huge boons to our technology/industry/defense sectors. I've lived in both New York and conservative North Carolina and I've never heard any backwoods Conservatives down there complaining about spending money on NASA. But I have heard a lot of saved the world through government programs liberals complain about spending money on space flight when we could be feeding people instead. In reality I think there are people on both sides of the fence that support it and people on both sides of the fence that don't

    Either way the one thing we POSITIVELY want to avoid is anyone managing to label supporting space exploration as a "liberal" or "conservative" policy and having party lines drawn on the issue as that way we'll never get it done. Space Exploration isn't something we can accomplish during the time span that one party is in power, it has to be a common endeavor supported by the entire nation.

  • Re:For example... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 05, 2009 @05:26PM (#30000002)

    ".. billions on the white elephant..."

    If you knew what the hell you were talking about with regard to what the U.S. Budget ACTUALLY spends its money on, you would have a heart attack right now,and save /. the time of reading your banalities.

    You know what happens if we drop NASA and keep space exploration strictly private? You and I lose, the Corporations win ( and probably at 3x the actual cost), and China surpasses the US technologically.

    Yes. We SHOULD completely drop all government funded space endeavors. Thank you for suggested we plateau the adventuresome spirit our species once had. You are truly a fore-thinker and futurist.

  • by JWW (79176) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @05:35PM (#30000114)

    The unfunded liabilities of universal health care will make Medicare part D look like pocket change.

    I know the US is spending too much money, but for stories like this it pisses me off because the US government couldn't be farther from funding the things I'd like to see it fund or not fund for that matter.

  • Re:For example... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @05:38PM (#30000160)

    I partially agree with what you're saying.

    One one hand, we could get more scientific value out of launching 5 or 6 Mars Science Laboratory type projects (or 12+ MER-type projects) per year than a few Shuttle or Ares missions. The human spaceflight program does produce useful science, but it's very, very expensive compared to unmanned missions.

    Note that I said science, not engineering. The human spaceflight program does far more for developing our ability to build and survive in space than an unmanned program could. But we need to evaluate just how important that ability is.

    On the other hand, NASA's budget is tiny compared to the DOD or many, many other programs. Compare, for example, the cost of the F-22 program, which is equal to about 6 years of Space Shuttle missions.

  • Re:For example... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by uncqual (836337) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @06:07PM (#30000540)
    Or, world population growth trends might just continue and the world population will stabilize. Last week's Economist has an article [economist.com] that discusses this trend. The article projects that world population will reach 9.2 billion in 2050 and stabilize at that level. Of course, it's just a projection, but that's all anything is for the 2050 time-frame.

    Birthrates drop as people become more wealthy and some of the poorest areas of the world have the highest birth rates. The notion that the solution to excessive population growth is to put the "excess" bodies on space ships and send them to live somewhere else is absurd - the cost of the launch alone likely exceeds the total cost of caring for the kid here on earth for the rest of their lives.

    The supply of humans, like rabbits, is nearly unlimited - only the resources to provide for them are limited. It might make sense for some reason to send a few prime "breeding pairs" (human and/or non-human) to populate other celestial bodies - for example, if one believes that forms of life on Earth are unique enough in the universe and superior in some way to other life in the universe that it's important for some moral, ethical, or religious reason to preserve and propagate Earthly species even after the Earth is uninhabitable (having been baked to a crisp by our sun for example). But, doing so won't have a measurable impact on Earth's human population.
  • Re:For example... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by donaggie03 (769758) <d_osmeyer@hotmai ... minus physicist> on Thursday November 05, 2009 @06:15PM (#30000650)
    It isn't a false trichotomy if the antecedent remains true. You falsify the antecedent by changing the rate of population growth by making everyone use birth control. GP would have been a lot closer to correct if he said "IF our population rises exponentially, then . . " Of course that's all just semantics about logic statements, and people could argue both points . . i.e. is it likely that we as a population will ever be able to change our growth rates, using birth control or otherwise? Maybe, maybe not. People who argue no have that previous trichotomy to work with. People who say yes have a whole lot more options. Some other options would be to wipe out large populations through, plague, war or genocide. Or sexual segregation. All women are physically separated from men. But then you run into another problem. A lot of people would consider any method of population management as being inhumane. Not because you are trying to manage the population, but because inhibiting a person's reproductive rights or starving them or killing them are all bad things to do. If this logic holds, then you cannot control the population growth, which means the original antecedent remains true, which means GP was correct. Now wasn't that fun?
  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @06:26PM (#30000792)

    So, Republicans can only propose minor details, not large changes? If Republicans want, say, investigation into nuclear energy but Democrats don't, they aren't allowed to suggest it - it's too big of a change? Or too complex? Or whatever?

    It seems that most of the current bills are very ideologically Democrat centered. Public healthcare and climate change stuff (but not nuclear, it seems). As I recall, House Republicans/conservatives submitted a lot of proposals from the so-called tort reform to abortion to making sure illegal immigrants don't get the public healthcare insurance option. None of them - and those are not "major" in comparison with the bill - were accepted.

    Meanwhile, the Democrats have been folding on some of their core proposals in order to get things moving (a public healthcare option being the most glaring).

    They folded on that? It's still in almost all of their bills, if not all of them, and it is one of the major things that many people don't want. As you mention, "60%" of the US population supports ... what? Supports healthcare reform or supports the current bills, as they are, in the House, including the public option? There's a huge difference there.

    The Democrats have not folded on a public healthcare "option." Actually, I can't really find anything they have folded on, at the moment. Pelosi and Reid have repeatedly said they refuse to have a bill without a "public option" though.

    The American public is a lot more split than you think on healthcare, according to Gallup [gallup.com].

    Saying one party or the other, at the moment, is at fault and doing "pure, unadulterated political brinksmanship" appears to be dependent on who you read/listen to. I try to stay out of the finger pointing, and blameshifting, as that appears to get nowhere - and Republicans and Democrats are very at fault for doing that. Right now, it seems to me that we have some very libecal Senators/House Reps that are trying to push a certain ideology.

  • Re:For example... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by khallow (566160) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @06:35PM (#30000886)

    If you were president, and you had the choice to, say, send a manned mission to Mars to collect some dirt and maybe begin the steps it would take to, if we're lucky and very, very good, colonize the planet a century or two from now, or roll out a national energy infrastructure that will get us off of fossil fuels today, thus keeping our own planet from boiling away (and most likely discovering a lot of very useful stuff that would make such a manned Mars mission much cheaper, safer, and more practical when we DO do it), which would you choose?

    I'd weigh the cost/benefit of each. Odds are really good that I would do neither. The Mars program would probably take place in the absence of any economic launch infrastructure to space and hence, be hideously expensive. The national energy infrastructure would most likely be a boondoggle and a bad choice. It's better to allow the market to chose a energy infrastructure rather than impose a bad idea (especially one chosen on the basis of what selfish special interest groups are most powerful).

    Instead, I would probably focus on spending reduction, not just of expensive, delusionally misguided military projects, but everything including entitlements.

  • Re:For example... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by khallow (566160) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @06:39PM (#30000938)

    Our population rises exponentially.

    No, premise is wrong. Some parts of "our" population have exponential growth rates and some have exponential decay rates. And projections are that the global population will start to decline around 2050.

  • by cheesybagel (670288) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @06:48PM (#30001052)
    Eh? No. The Falcon 9 stuff you saw on January was just a photo opportunity. The upper stage was a mockup and they didn't have sound suppressors in the pad, or liquid propellant tanks to fill the vehicle.

    The first stage was sent back for more testing. Then they did second stage engine tests without the engine nozzle. Second stage mechanical tests. They should still need to make a second stage engine test with the nozzle on, an integrated second stage fire test, vehicle hold down firing tests. Pad work probably isn't 100% finished either.

  • by KingSkippus (799657) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @08:31PM (#30001932) Homepage Journal

    I never said that other programs don't need to be cut. I hope that the insane amount of money that we spend on the military is, in fact, cut quite a bit and repurposed. I also never implied that we must only engage in one scientific endeavor at a time, either.

    I only said that given that there are a finite number of dollars budgeted for scientific research, which will always be true, that most space "stuff" is pretty low on the list of priorities.

    I'll happily stand with you in trying to get that finite number of dollars increased, especially by reprioritizing science in general relative to other things such as insane military budgets. If it happens, then maybe we can talk again about how those dollars should be spent, and yeah, maybe the space program will once again be worth it, in its proper place given the new budget.

    Until then, I stand by my post. There are far more useful ways that we could be spending the dollars that we have, and it doesn't upset me very much that, given the budgets we have to work with, the space program is suffering from a lack of funding. If it means allocating those funds to more productive scientific endeavors, I'm not against cutting it even further.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 06, 2009 @12:44AM (#30003054)

    or why not just get the hell out of deciding whats good for other cultures and peoples ?

    Sure, they can start first.

    Oh, you thought they were bombing us because we had troops stationed over there? The Islamists want us dead because we're the Great Satan. Infidels that let their women go about uncovered, and don't give proper respect to Allah's chosen ones! They'll keep attacking until we submit, because... they know what's good for our culture and people!

    See how that works?

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