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NASA Mars Moon Space Science

NASA Rolls Out Space Exploration Roadmap 128

Posted by Soulskill
from the to-infinity-and-beyond dept.
MarkWhittington writes "NASA and the space agencies of a variety of countries, including members of the European Union, Canada, Japan, Russia, India, the Ukraine, and South Korea, have rolled out the latest version of a space exploration roadmap (PDF). NASA and its partners have created two scenarios, called 'Asteroid Next' and 'Moon Next.' This represents the continuing argument over which destination astronaut explorers should go to first. Should it be an Earth approaching asteroid, as President Obama insists? Or should it be the moon, as many people in Congress, NASA, and NASA's partner agencies suggest? In any event, all roads lead to Mars in the current plan. Both visits to an asteroid and to the moon are considered practice runs for what will be needed to go to Mars."
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NASA Rolls Out Space Exploration Roadmap

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  • called 'Asteroid NeXT' and 'Moon NeXT".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 23, 2011 @03:55PM (#37495624)

    NASA needs guaranteed funding and a minimum of Congressional oversight.

  • by flaming error (1041742) on Friday September 23, 2011 @03:56PM (#37495644) Journal

    How about we go to an asteroid that's landing on the moon?

  • The first sentence of TFA says this is a plan for "coordinated human and robotic exploration." The summary makes it sound like this is a plan for manned exploration only.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why would we go anywhere and not bring some robots?

  • It's interesting that NASA doesn't mention the GLXP at all in there, not even in passing (or so shows my very fast scan of the document). That contrasts quite a bit with the fact that they generated the NASA Heritage Site rules and what they briefed and said to the GLXP teams in July.
  • by sgt scrub (869860) <saintium&yahoo,com> on Friday September 23, 2011 @04:06PM (#37495754)

    The rovers were a success. Now it is time to test our ability to create a long term orbital platform. I'm for the asteroid. China has shown an interest in going to the moon. Let them perform those experiments.

    • by Genda (560240)

      There are some several good reasons to look at an asteroid as a first choice. Of course, the best reason to pick the moon is that its only 250,000 miles away, and if anything goes wrong you have even odds of getting home without it ending posthumously. That's why heavy, heavy robotic applications must be first. Build robots that can collect solar power, mine ore, sinter ceramics, build more robots, extract water, air, and organics. Most of all construct living spaces under enough material to protect from ra

  • Somehow the idea of international cooperation seems to make sense in the modern era. Although we Americans rightly take pride in the Apollo program, the space race was really a product of the Cold War. It ruled out multilateral efforts because the whole point was a race to beat the Russians. That doesn't make sense today; nation-states don't have the same kind of rivalries. The spirit of "advancement of human civilization" I associate with space exploration does seem more fitting as an international enter

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pnewhook (788591)
      Agreed. The Russians are the best at heavy lift, the Canadians are the best at robotics. There is no point in the US trying to reinvent the wheel. Leave those technologies to them and focus NASA funding elsewhere.
      • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday September 23, 2011 @05:06PM (#37496286) Homepage

        The Russians are the best at heavy lift, the Canadians are the best at robotics. There is no point in the US trying to reinvent the wheel. Leave those technologies to them and focus NASA funding elsewhere.

        The catering?

      • by mosb1000 (710161)

        If the russians are the best at heavy lift, how come NASA has build the rockets [wikipedia.org] that can lift the most?

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          The problem is, NASA can't build them anymore. And the ones they can build have a nasty habit of blowing up.

          • by mosb1000 (710161)

            The shuttle didn't have more problems than any other space launch system. That's saying a lot, because it is much more complicated than it needs to be. You are just being stupid.

            • by ceoyoyo (59147)

              The Russians have both more experience and more reliable launch systems: http://www.ewp.rpi.edu/hartford/~cedenc/SMRE/Project/Space%20Shuttle%20Vehicle%20Reliability.pdf [rpi.edu]

              You're the one being stupid.

              • by mosb1000 (710161)

                No, comparing the total number of rockets a nation has launched to the number of failures is an overly simplistic way of looking at things. There are many different space launch systems and experimental projects represented in such a figure. When you're talking about reliability, you want to look at the current state of the art, not some older system which is no longer used. And you can't just average all the launches together, because the individual launch systems have nothing to do with each other.

                Here

                • by ceoyoyo (59147)

                  Considering the Russians have launched more orbital rockets than everyone else in the world put together, it might be fair to say they have the most experience, no?

                  And if you want to just compare the reliability of the latest systems, go ahead. Historical track record still counts for something. Note that NASA will not be doing heavy lift with Deltas or the shuttle, but something new. If it takes them thirty years to iron out all the bugs and get to that 98% value then there's still a problem.

                  I see you'r

                • by pnewhook (788591)

                  No, comparing the total number of rockets a nation has launched to the number of failures is an overly simplistic way of looking at things

                  Sure, because percentages are misleading especially with low numbers of launches. the Biggets Delta has a success percentage of 100% because thye only launched the one time. So you also have to compare experience (the Proton has over 300 launches, far more than anyone else), launch capacity (Proton is the highest) and cost per Kg to launch (Proton is around a third the cost of other countries offerings). Any way you cut it Russia has a better system.

                  When you're talking about reliability, you want to look at the current state of the art, not some older system which is no longer used

                  Completely untrue. When evaluating systems NASA has a g

          • And the ones they can build have a nasty habit of blowing up.

            Well, the Russians had/have that problem too. They're just less squeamish about it.

        • by BergZ (1680594)
          I haven't crunched the numbers but I suspect the OP is using the phrase "best at heavy lift" in terms of $/Kg to put something into orbit.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Somehow the idea of international cooperation seems to make sense in the modern era. Although we Americans rightly take pride in the Apollo program, the space race was really a product of the Cold War. It ruled out multilateral efforts because the whole point was a race to beat the Russians. That doesn't make sense today; nation-states don't have the same kind of rivalries. The spirit of "advancement of human civilization" I associate with space exploration does seem more fitting as an international enterprise. It gives me a warm fuzzy.

      That said, the reality of international undertakings tends to fall short of what I consider ideal.

      International cooperation, as in the International Space Station aka cluster fuck #1 ?
      No, if the US wants to go back in space it has all the means at its disposal. You just need a coherent political vision that doesn't change every day. Stop spending trillions of dollars in meaningless wars, in meaningless security state programs etc... Raise taxes, make americans feel proud of their country again and set your eyes on the moon and mars. One generation ought to be enough to send astronauts to mars, keep a fu

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Its stupid that of all the apollo missions, only 3 were really scientific and only one carried a real scientist. Less pilots, more scientists in space.

        I don't know that it's stupid in itself, given what the Apollo program was -- short-term landings involving lots of flight, and relatively little surface time. It's a mission profile very poorly suited to science, but it's a nearly-essential step on the path to a semi-permanent manned base, which is much better for science. The trouble is just that we stopped there.

        For the same reason, I'm not a big fan of the asteroid plan -- it basically limits you to one or a few flags-and-footprints missions per target,

    • Null post to remove accidental mod point
  • Roadmap? (Score:4, Funny)

    by RollingThunder (88952) on Friday September 23, 2011 @04:14PM (#37495822)

    Roadmap? Why not a starchart?

  • I want to see manned exploration of our sun.

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Friday September 23, 2011 @04:26PM (#37495904)
    Don't want to know how much that shiny PDF document cost. A billion? Two billion?
  • - douglas quaid
  • by Darth Snowshoe (1434515) on Friday September 23, 2011 @04:41PM (#37496036)

    Let me be the first one in this thread to advocate for THE CASE FOR MARS by Robert Zubrin. They should skip the asteroid and the moon, and start sending robotic missions to Mars today. When the robots have manufactured a liveable environment (e.g. caves or lava tubes) and enough fuel for an emergency return trip, then you send the astronauts.

    • by tgd (2822)

      The US is 14 trillion dollars in debt and growing.

      Mars, the Moon and an asteroid mission will all never happen, until private industry sees a need for it... at least not by the US.

      We only went to the moon as a political stunt, and an excuse for funding massive amounts of aerospace development during the cold war. That motivation does not exist now, nor does the will of the American people to pony up enough taxes to stop the bleeding and do things like that.

      Its unfortunate, but NASA's just doing this to keep

      • Hear, hear, Dude. Though I can't help but notice that the sci fi space adventure magical religious cultists that dominate this forum are making sure nobody will ever read your post.
      • by guruevi (827432)

        What you don't understand is how the economy works. If a government invests in the science and technology for this, jobs will be created (in that country) and the valuation of that country will be higher.

        Currently, the US is more bent on destroying other countries (effectively reverting education and science into the stone age) than advancing technologically and building an economy. Why do you think China is booming? Not because every business moved there because it was cheap but because the government acti

        • by Arlet (29997)

          The government could also invest in different ares of science and technology, such as renewable energy. This would bring similar benefits in jobs and technological advances, while at the same time producing something useful.

          Human space exploration is in its core a useless stunt. Exploration is much better done by unmanned craft.

          • by guruevi (827432)

            I agree that sending humans to the moon again as a publicity stunt is kinda useless. But even human space exploration in itself brings us much needed enhancements to existing technologies (such as life support systems, waste recycling, radiation shielding etc.).

            I agree that short term, investment in other technology would benefit us more but that doesn't mean we should choose which science to fund and which we don't want to fund. If the US would just cut the massive 'defensive' (aka offensive) spending and

  • The two routes are presented as exclusive, and only differ in the order of the targets. I say there's a third route: Moon, Mars+Asteroid, Beyond.

    Landing on an asteroid is orders of magnitude more difficult than on the Moon or a planet: chances are a lot greater that you'll miss, and there's not a lot of possibilities for in-situ resource utilization, while return windows are possibly few and far between.
    It would be safer and more profitable to go to an asteroid at the same time we're building presence on Ma

    • by Jeng (926980)

      In space you do not want to go down any unnecessary gravity wells. As such I would describe the moon base as a destination, not a place to prep for a trip to Mars. We can and should test out technology we plan to go to Mars with on the Moon, but we shouldn't build a craft on the moon to go to Mars.

      • Not build, although that's an option too (orbital assembly enables the construction of larger frames than possible to launch economically), rather just a refueling stop after breaking Earth orbit. After all, it takes a lot less delta-v to break orbit from Earth to Moon to Mars than it takes from Earth to Mars in one go...

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        We can and should test out technology we plan to go to Mars with on the Moon, but we shouldn't build a craft on the moon to go to Mars.

        There's very little you can test on the Moon that would be useful on Mars; the environment is far, far too different for lunar experience to be of much use there.

        • We still don't have enough experience getting people through space in healthy condition. That's why we work on getting back to the moon.

          That and all the science that remains to be done on the moon.

          Also, while the environment-related tech for the moon and for Mars will be drastically different, learning how to deal with the moon's environment will only help learning how to deal with the environment on Mars. Seeing any of these options as mutually exclusive is missing the entire point of space exploration.

          Pan

          • by 0123456 (636235)

            We still don't have enough experience getting people through space in healthy condition. That's why we work on getting back to the moon.

            The Moon is about three days away. Mars is months away. That's like saying that walking to the corner store will give you the experience you need to run a marathon.

            Also, while the environment-related tech for the moon and for Mars will be drastically different, learning how to deal with the moon's environment will only help learning how to deal with the environment on Mars.

            No it won't, because there's almost nothing in common between the two environments. Problems caused by the environment on Mars mostly won't happen on the Moon, and vice-versa.

            • How many people have made that "walk to the corner drugstore"?

              You're assuming we have a lot more experience in space than we have. Meaningful human activity on Mars is just not going to happen until we have a lot more experience in space.

            • Did you only recently build yourself a set of legs? If so then yes, this walk to the corner store is a baby step towards your marathon. No? Well, I guess it's a silly analogy then, isn't it?
      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        If you can get the material to build a craft (or fuel it) from the moon, it would be a hell of a lot cheaper than lifting it all out of Earth's gravity well. It's all well and good not to go down any gravity wells, but that's where all the matter is.

  • by macraig (621737) <mark DOT a DOT craig AT gmail DOT com> on Friday September 23, 2011 @06:02PM (#37496940)

    I was eight years old when Neil Armstrong set boots on the Moon; I should have lived to see a thriving colony on Mars! I'm not dead yet, but these sickening roadmaps make it obvious that the chance of me living long enough to see ANY offworld colony is pretty slim. What the fuck happened?

    I share Neil Armstrong's frustration, but I don't blame NASA; NASA isn't the problem. The problem is that the species is dominated by short-sighted, ignorant, isolationist fools... and that foolish majority is not only allowed to choose our leadership but is also the pool from which that leadership is chosen. WE collectively are the problem.

    We've used NASA as a political football in a decades-long game of tug-of-war; how would you like to administer or work in an agency whose funding and priorities get temptingly dangled close enough to nibble one year but then yanked far out of reach the next, at the whim of Congressional purseholders beholden to public attitudes and corporate shareholders? NASA has been suffering from manic depression for decades because of it.

    Neil needs to place the blame squarely where it belongs. How many more generations of visionaries will have their hopes and dreams crushed under the weight of an ignorant mob of billions?

    • I should have lived to see a thriving colony on Mars! I'm not dead yet, but these sickening roadmaps make it obvious that the chance of me living long enough to see ANY offworld colony is pretty slim. What the fuck happened?

      For the benefit of your fellow sci fi space adventure magical religious cultists, please calculate the cost of the following:

      Transport 100,000 people to an off-world location of your choosing
      Make sure accommodations are built and ready for them
      Make them go from 100% to 0% dependen
      • by macraig (621737)

        That doesn't even partially answer it. If the resources expended on wars in the last 50 years had instead been redirected to expanding the frontier (and enabling future homesteading for misfits and malcontents), we would have several colonies on the Moon and in orbit by now and be poised to make the jump to Mars.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Who cares if you can transport 100,000 people and make them independent? We have bases in the antarctic and arctic that aren't even close to that, and we maintain them for scientific purposes. The moon would be a fantastic place to build some giant telescopes, for example.

        Oh, and since you keep repeating yourself, let me tell you a little secret. Ready? There's nothing magical about space travel.

      • Transport 100,000 people to an off-world location of your choosing
        Make sure accommodations are built and ready for them
        Make them go from 100% to 0% dependent on earth for their survival within 100 years
        Explain who will pay for it, how, and why

        Oddly enough, when the Pilgrims went to Plymouth Rock, they took fewer than 100,000.

        Their accomodations weren't built and waiting for their arrival.

        And they didn't go from 100% to 0% dependent on Europe in 100 years, either.

        Personally, I'd settle for 50-100 peopl

    • by reiisi (1211052)

      I hate to be a pessimist. Except I am not. You'll probably call me an unreasoning optimist.

      When I was young, I dreamed of being a space cowboy with my own rocket to ply the routes between earth and wherever. I wanted to see the stars in my lifetime. Asimov and Heinlein clued me in as to how hard that was going to be, and some pseudo-psychiatry stuff clued me in as to how my personal desire to go there was as much as an expression of my desire to escape from the public school system as it was a real desire t

  • Rather than make pie in the sky plans for moon missions or asteroid missions, how about a good, solid foundation of getting people the first 100 miles. Plan for that. Achieve that goal and THEN see about trying to get further out, based on an actual, sensible reason for going.

    Every journey starts with a first step.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Friday September 23, 2011 @07:21PM (#37497664) Journal
    The reason is that private space wants to go to the moon. We should take advantage of this. The X-prizes, and COTS approach is paying off with equipment being developed. Even the sub-orbitals, such as blue origin, will be interesting in that their equipment with some mods and MINIMAL amounts of ground set-up, will be capable of working on/off the moon. Basically, the moon is a good step for private space along with gov. help. But when going beyond the moon, that is where NASA should focus. Sending a small crew to an asteroid is a good first step to Mars. Well, that is the kind of things that private space will NOT do. Likewise, having NASA and others work on tugs esp. nuclear engines such as NERVA, makes good sense.

    Private space is planning on being on the moon by 2020.
    So, lets do both the moon and an asteroid.
    • by damburger (981828)

      I wondered how long it would take for 'private space flight' to be mentioned.

      Private spaceflight is, right now, pathetic. And an ideologically motivated insistence on it has crippled NASA. Congratulations on handing Mars over to the Russians and the Chinese.

      • This is not about ideology. NASA has been stymed for 40 years under the likes of Nixon, reagan, and W. Under Clinton, he allow the neo-cons to gut NASA to which W then joined in. We NEED multiple launchers. That is a fact. Just look at SkyLab and now ISS. 2 space stations and we lost the first one because of Nixon and would have lost ISS had it not been for Russia. Congress and bad admins have gutted NASA to the point that they continue to lose important items

        NOW, we will have TRUE redundancy in our syst
  • NASA is full of bureaucratic morons trying to justify their fat government pay checks. unless they want to continue their slide in credibility and funding, they had better sort their shit out and get a clue.

    How about for a first priority: MAKE ACCESS TO LOW EARTH ORBIT CHEAPER, SAFER, MORE RELIABLE AND MORE REGULAR

    NASA can make whatever plans they want, but the cold war is over, Kennedy is dead, and they will never have the budget to go to the moon the same way again. Period.

    They haven't even got a
  • A VASIMR type plasma rocket can haul back 20x it's fuel weight in from a nearby asteroid. Since part of most rocks is Oxygen, you can extract that and use it for fuel for later trips, and keep hauling back more asteroid chunks. What do you do with all that asteroid stuff in Earth Orbit? Any metals can go to building living quarters and machines. Any carbon can be used to create space elevator cable. Some oxygen is good for breathing, some for fuel, and some to make water with. You still need to bring

    • by kathycat (1927762)
      This all plan is just redoing 60's, man to moon in telephone booth and telephone booth in tip of huge rocket. Nasa should leave orbital rocket launch with current technology to commercial companies like Space-X and focus developing new technologies. Air breathing space plane for LEO launch and VASIMR based reusable cruiser to travel from orbit to moon, asteroids and Mars. There need to be someone like Burt Rutan to invent new ideas. There is no sense to carry a lot of oxygen from earth to orbit for chemic
  • Does anyone else find it sad that NASA+NORAD+whoever can detect a small missile launch on the other side of the world in minutes, but can't predict when or where a satellite THEY PUT UP THERE THEMSELVES will land or even IF it has landed already?!?
  • Why is it always the Ukraine, it's not like there are multiple Ukraines. Is anyone familiar with any other countries that get a the? And how did the the even come about as common usage when referring to Ukraine?
    • by cffrost (885375)

      Is anyone familiar with any other countries that get a the?

      Three from memory: "The United States of America." I've also heard "The Sudan" used; Wikipedia suggests and redirects "The Sudan" to "Sudan," but I didn't see an explanation therein, (nor did I look very hard). I've also heard "The Congo" used, which Wikipedia suggests and redirects to a disambiguation page, which is were I stopped.

      [H]ow did the the even come about as common usage when referring to Ukraine?

      Although it's common usage, it's not proper form...
      Short version: https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Ukraine#Etymology [wikimedia.org]
      Long version: https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikip [wikimedia.org]

1 + 1 = 3, for large values of 1.

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