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NASA Chief Tells the Critics of Exploration Plan: "Get Over It" 216

Posted by samzenpus
from the ask-me-if-I-care dept.
mknewman (557587) writes "For years, critics have been taking shots at NASA's plans to corral a near-Earth asteroid before moving on to Mars — and now NASA's chief has a message for those critics: 'Get over it, to be blunt.' NASA Administrator Charles Bolden defended the space agency's 20-year timeline for sending astronauts to the Red Planet on Tuesday, during the opening session of this year's Humans 2 Mars Summit at George Washington University in the nation's capital."
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NASA Chief Tells the Critics of Exploration Plan: "Get Over It"

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  • On, to Mars! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe AT jwsmythe DOT com> on Thursday April 24, 2014 @03:49AM (#46830799) Homepage Journal

    I have one thing to say. Hurry the fuck up.

    When I was a kid, there was so much "by the year 2000". Space stations. Moon bases. Mars colonies. Mining asteroids. Deep space missions. Fleets of spacecraft. Hypersonic travel around the earth.

    The only thing resembling a real space ship has been retired. 1960s tech is back as the best thing anyone can come up with, and it's totally owned by the Russians.

    I am impressed by probes. They are cool toys. But they can't replace a person standing there, making decisions. Asking "what if..." We learn from being and doing. The rover we have on Mars now has a mostly busted wheel. A wheel that a human could have riveted a patch over in a few minutes. Or maybe some duct tape. You know, what the Apollo astronauts did, because they were there. Where humans can improvise, and grab a roll of tape.

    If we hadn't given up on the space race, maybe we'd have most of those things. So we slacked for 20 years, lets get back on track.

  • Radiation... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jklappenbach (824031) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @04:11AM (#46830867) Journal
    If I were planning a trip to Mars, solar and cosmic radiation would be one of my main concerns. And to date, I have not seen designs for a delivery system that would adequately protect crew members from what could be a catastrophic situation. We do not want to lose the first expedition to something like this. However, the shielding required dramatically alters the economics of the mission (lead's not cheap to shoot into orbit, let alone Mars). And that's just getting there. If we want to enjoy any duration of exploration or colonization, we should be looking for caves. Without a magnetosphere, it's going to be tough.

    Radiation Rules Exploration []
  • Re:Radiation... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24, 2014 @04:48AM (#46830979)

    Hollowing out asteroids was/is one proposed way to solve the shielding problem – no need to launch all mass up. Of course, we're far from being able to do that, but the asteroid redirection mission is a first step in that direction.

  • Re:Radiation... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24, 2014 @04:49AM (#46830981)

    If I were planning a trip to Mars, solar and cosmic radiation would be one of my main concerns.

    Cosmic radiation is only a problem if you aim for zero tolerance.
    The data given by Curiosity [] show that a Mars mission only increases your risk of cancer by 5%. That means that there are plenty of other hurdles far more dangerous when it comes to takeoff and landing.
    To put that in perspective 5.5% of former smokers and 15.9% of active smokers get lung cancer. (24.4% for those who smoke more than 5 cigarettes a day.)

    Unless you intend to set up a permanent base or have a mission where the astronauts stay more than two years on the surface the radiation can be handled by informing the astronaut of the danger and have them sign a paper.
    If people should be allowed to smoke then I think people should be allowed to risk cancer with a Mars-trip too.

  • by rioki (1328185) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @04:54AM (#46830995) Homepage

    Who the hell uses the tt tag?!

    On that note, why is my browser even interpreting the tt tag...

  • Re:On, to Mars! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sarius64 (880298) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @05:07AM (#46831029)
    Every single one of the dollars we don't charge billionaire sports team owners. How about that?
  • by bradley13 (1118935) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @05:35AM (#46831079) Homepage

    Provide incentives for private industry, and get the fsck out of the way.

    Promise $5 billion to the first company to send the same spaceship to orbit 10 times and return. $10 billion to the first company to send the same spaceship to geo-sync orbit 3 times. $20 billion to the first company to bring an asteroid above size X to a lagrange point. $50 billion to the first company to have people live on the moon for two weeks. Change the goals and figures to suit. Total cost will be a fraction of having the bloated NASA bureaucracy do the same things.

    Then get rid of all possible regulations, and eliminate most liability. Space is hazardous - let's assume participants are adults who know what they are getting into.

    Then get out of the way.

  • by cyber-vandal (148830) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @05:52AM (#46831133) Homepage

    And yet without governments there would be no space technology.

  • by aepervius (535155) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @06:37AM (#46831263)
    Those comparison human ability versus rover crack me up. The problem is that they are comparing one single rover against one human. What they should compare is the energy and material resource expanded to 1) launch a human 2) make sure it arrives alive 3) stay alive long enough to do stuff 4) we are not even considering it coming back alive 5) we are not even considering the horrendous cost of setting up a colony (when we aren't even a step nearer to do one on moon) 6) and we will also ignore that rover are expandable I.O.W. if the first rover crash and burn, resend another one. If you DO the comparison, then it is much cheaper to make a serie of automated vehicule which can gather stuff analyze it, and if you see you are missing info or one break, send another one.

    Human on mars is only a question of fulfilling a dream, a dream which is completely cut off from the reality of cost. it is nice for you to have a dream, but some of us prefer practical solutions.
  • by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe AT jwsmythe DOT com> on Thursday April 24, 2014 @07:21AM (#46831405) Homepage Journal

    That's funny that you express that there's no reason to put people on Mars, but you quote Carl Sagan in your tagline.

    I ran across this a few days ago. []

    Maybe you're there because we've recognized we have to carefully move small asteroids around to avert the possibility of one impacting the Earth with catastrophic consequences, and, while we're up in near-Earth space, it's only a hop, skip and a jump to Mars. Or, maybe we're on Mars because we recognize that if there are human communities on many worlds, the chances of us being rendered extinct by some catastrophe on one world is much less. Or maybe we're on Mars because of the magnificent science that can be done there - the gates of the wonder world are opening in our time. Maybe we're on Mars because we have to be, because there's a deep nomadic impulse built into us by the evolutionary process, we come after all, from hunter gatherers, and for 99.9% of our tenure on Earth we've been wanderers. And, the next place to wander to, is Mars. But whatever the reason you're on Mars is, I'm glad you're there. And I wish I was with you.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <{ten.3dlrow} {ta} {ojom}> on Thursday April 24, 2014 @08:09AM (#46831609) Homepage

    The problem with "winner takes all" competitions like that is that unless you are fairly certain of winning there isn't much incentive to spend billions trying. The NASA model of creating a spec and then asking for tenders to do it is better, assuming you can resist cancelling or downsizing everything year to year.

  • by Required Snark (1702878) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @08:49AM (#46831843)
    "Provide incentives for private industry". Really? I've never visited that universe.

    Over here in the real world, "private industry" acts like the United Launch Alliance: an intrenched monopoly with zero incentive to bring down launch costs. The same for the other long time players, like ArianeSpace and the Russians.

    The only disruption to this cozy international cartel is SpaceX and the like. Note that these are all privately funded by technocrats who made huge fortunes in software. No one had to go out and raise money for these ventures. The investors are the founders, and they have very deep pockets.

    It is impossible to raise money for this kind of business in capital markets because it's easier and more profitable to make money the old fashioned way: steal it.

    Just look at the example of the FCC deciding to squash net neutrality. Hire regulators via the revolving door, pay out some bribe/campaign contributions, get legislation that you wrote passed as laws: instant profit!!! Why waste time and money on something as iffy as outer space?

    So real innovation and risk taking is not the product of "private industry", it's a hobby of a few individuals who succeeded in the past. They could have as easily bought a major league sports franchise like Mark Cuban.

    Is it likely that the next generation of successful entrepreneurs will have the space bug? Because if they don't then the only way we'll get to Mars, or make use of space resources is through governments. Any near term profit in space comes from satellites at synchronous orbit or below. No profit or incentive for long term capital investment any further out.

    The only other reason to go is nationalism. That's why the Chinese are going to the moon. The US will opt out because none of the entrenched "private industry" players see sufficient guaranteed profit in their pig trough. It's so much easier to raise prices for Netflicks.

  • Re:Proposal. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by asylumx (881307) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @09:33AM (#46832179)

    Yeah, but it ain't gender neutral in English. Ya know - the language you are using..

    Actually, it technically is the gender neutral preposition. It is not, apparently, politically correct but it *is* grammatically correct.

    Wikipedia Reference []
    Also, "Man" and "Mankind" still refer to all humans, not just male humans.

  • by Squidlips (1206004) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @10:36AM (#46832773)
    There are two NASA's: 1) There is the pork-laded manned mission NASA out of Houston with power friends on Capital Hill. Their mission is to keep the pork flowing for things like the ISS and the Space Launch System. Bolden is a Houston guy 2) Science: This is the Science Directorate which is JPL out of Pasadena. They are the guys who actually do scientifically meaningful missions such as the rovers on Mars or the Cassini orbiter around Saturn or the probes reaching Pluto and Ceres next year. They are politically weak and constantly have to fight Houston to restore their funding which is always being poached for pork. Carl Sagan started the Planetary Society to stop the poaching but it is stronger than ever.
  • by geekoid (135745) <> on Thursday April 24, 2014 @11:59AM (#46833383) Homepage Journal

    Absolutely we know that.

    There was no driving factor for private interest.

    NASA never lost it's way. NASA lost it's budget. IN spite of budget reductions, NASA has done amazing things, just without humans sitting in a flight deck.

May the bluebird of happiness twiddle your bits.