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NASA Mars

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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  • Proposal. (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by freeze128 (544774)
    Can the astronaut be dead BEFORE they send him to Mars? ...because he certainly won't last long there.
  • by terjeber (856226)

    This is a good analysis [spacefuture.com] of NASA. It's a good oldie, but it should be read more often.

    • by MickLinux (579158) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @05:00AM (#46831155) Journal

      Not to overly criticrise your analogy, but I prefer nonfiction to fiction in my decision-making process.

      This is a good analysis [nasa.gov] of NASA. It's a good oldie, but people should read it more often.

      I would note that it was valid then, when it was written, it was valid when Columbia fell apart, and it is valid now.

      And it is an EXCELLENT reason why Nasa shouldn't be messing with asteroid capture. Fortunately, it is more likely that our country will be glowing embers, than that NASA will see this accomplished. And I view that glowing embers bit as a negative, brought about by similar egos by similar wackos in OTHER government offices (including Putin's Russia).

      But yes, I am very glad that other problems are likely to make this problem a moot point.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If you wanted a better fictional story about why it was a bad idea, I might pose the story of a day when intelligent dinosaurs were living in Pangea, and a space agency went to 'get' an asteroid. whether through malfunction or deliberation doesn't matter, because the asteroid crashed into the southern part, and punched obliquely into the mantle right where there was a collection of Uranium-calcium georeactors. It pushed one to the center, causing a massive explosion that blew out the Scotia plate (below) an

      • by twosat (1414337)

        Here's an insider's view of flying fighter aircraft and working for NASA.

        http://static.freelibr.net/fic... [freelibr.net]

        Nook ebook:

        http://www.barnesandnoble.com/... [barnesandnoble.com]

    • You can watch the speech on YouTube [youtube.com]. It's 29 minutes with Q&A. The "blunt" remark comes around 25:40.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      That's stupid, ignorant and wildly inaccurate.

      Fucking morons.

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

    by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe@jwsmyth ... minus physicist> on Thursday April 24, 2014 @02:49AM (#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.

    • by kamapuaa (555446) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @03:23AM (#46830901) Homepage

      On a similar note, I saw Star Wars and I'm really disappointed that we still don't have hyperdrives or laser guns or even translator droids! It's been all of 35 years!

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Nerd smack down!
        BEGIN!

        We have laser guns, but more importantly they didn't use LASER guns in Star Wars.

        I sit next to a person who LITERALLY has a droid in his pocket that can act as a translator.
        I have one, but it's nexus and not a droid. So it would only figuratively be one.

        END!

    • by aepervius (535155) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @05:37AM (#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.
      • 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.

        http://io9.com/5932534/carl-sa... [io9.com]

        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.

      • 150 years ago, the same set of economic constraints applied to California. Yet thousands of people signed up for one-way trips to it.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        You nee to compare that to the cost of research and discovery. You would need to send 100s of robots to even come close to what 1 human could do in a day.

        Frankly, it s a silly argument. It's not Human v Robots. It's humans and robots.

        TI's funny when someone uses an irrational and flawed argument but has Sagan and randi.org in their sig.

        • by rk (6314)

          I have an anecdote related to this.

          In my last life, I worked at a lab involved in the MER missions. After the 90 day nominal mission, somebody asked my boss, a highly respected planetary geologist, how long it would take for a human to accomplish the gathering of scientific data that the rover had accomplished thus far. His answer was "it would be about a solid afternoon of work."

          So if anyone old there thinks "100s of robots" is an exaggeration, it's not.

    • by MacTO (1161105)

      Mildly off topic:

      Until we can make vast improvements in launcher reliability, perhaps we should stick to 1960's technology for that aspect of space exploration. Getting off of and back onto Earth's surface is an extraordinarily difficult task and it will remain so for the decades to come.

      Rather, in my opinion, we should be focusing upon building infrastructure in and beyond Earth orbit so that we can get people into space for longer durations. The infrastructure that we do develop needs to be fully repair

    • 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.

      We were also supposed to have flying cars and hoverboards. Or depending on which movie you're going on: time machines, androids that could pass for human, and FTL travel.

      But are you really getting angry at NASA because science fiction isn't a reality?

      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.

      I think you're overestimating the ease with which humans can do things. A human could have fixed the rover if he had all the right tools and replacement parts, assuming that we could get him to Mars, surviving the trip there in good health, surviving the yea

    • Throughout the twentieth century (and I lived through half of it) we couldn't see forward past 2000, Now we can no longer see backward past the fall of 2001.

      • by rk (6314)

        If I hadn't just posted a comment here, that would've totally earned a +1 insightful from me.

    • "Get your ass to Mars!"

  • Look a few articles down, and you will see one about FIRST robotics. Robotics is absolutely a requirement of any future space program.

    Yet, slashdot, a web site for geeks, has a comment post count of 6.

    This by itself is hugely important - there is little to no interest in a fundamental technology of the future.

    Couple that with the US's current anti-science sentiment, and NASA being a science department of a funding challenged government, and the US days of space exploration is done for a while. Close N
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Is quitting something you do whenever things get tough? hard project? quit. Takes effort to change? quit! Painting the house is hard? Quit and sell the house!

      Maybe it you generation of whiners and quitters that's the problem?

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

    by jklappenbach (824031) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @03:11AM (#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 [astrobio.net]
    • Re:Radiation... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24, 2014 @03:48AM (#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 @03:49AM (#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 [63.131.142.246] 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.

    • A high energy electromagnetic field will do just fine. Works on earth... it will work in space.

      You just need a fusion reactor. At the moment- we don't have one. Or some other high capacity, small size, energy source not yet envisioned.

      NASA, while not saying it, is probably waiting on an energy technology.

      Where is element 115 when you need it? Someone call Bob Lazar!!!

      • by bored (40072)

        A high energy electromagnetic field will do just fine. Works on earth... it will work in space.

        You just need a fusion reactor.

        I don't think electromagnetic shielding is that far fetched anymore. http://physicsworld.com/cws/ar... [physicsworld.com]

        Seat of the pants calculation says, its probably smaller than an MRI machine and could be powered with with a similarly sized fission reactor.

        Not small by any standard, but completely doable with today's technology.

        • by oic0 (1864384)
          If the magnet is super conducting, you can fire it up on earth and then just keep the cooling system going through the trip.
      • by mknewman (557587)
        True, or a plasma jet (highly charged) coming out the back toward the sun. Brussard Polywell Fusion http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org] reactors that the Navy is building for next generation of ships (electromagnetic catapults and rail guns) would build a nice infrastructure not only for the interplanetary ship but also for the on-planet outpost.
    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      Someone must find out how to cheaply put lead in orbit.

      I propose catapults.

      Or Hitachi elevators.

    • (lead's not cheap to shoot into orbit, let alone Mars)

      GIven the infrastructure, lunar regolith would be relatively much cheaper to get to LEO (deltaV required to reach LEO from the lunar surface is considerably less than half that required to reach LEO from the ground.

      And lunar regolith is quite usable as radiation shielding. Hell, you can use it as reaction mass for a mass-driver to push off to Mars orbit.

  • by negablade (2745981) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @03:27AM (#46830915)
    Bravo, Mr Bolden! NASA does exceptional work. Sometimes the armchair critics should just STFU and let NASA get on with the fun stuff.
  • Bold words from someone who probably be long gone from the job before NASA even tries to get someone into low earth orbit again.
  • by Squidlips (1206004) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @09:36AM (#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.
  • I'll "get over it" if you "get on with it", how about that?

    NASA pronouncements about manned spaceflight haven't really meant shit since the 1970s. Well, aside from delays and cancellations. They've almost always been in earnest.

    But everything else has been political window dressing for one president or another (both parties, thanks very much) to make some bold pronouncement that he either KNEW wasn't going to make it through an enemy congress (and thus he could blame on them) or that he quietly de-priorit

  • by Squidlips (1206004) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @12:24PM (#46834149)
    I see no mention of the highly successful missions by NASA / JPL such as the Mars rovers and the Pluto & Ceres missions. All Bolden cares about is the manned pork missions that accomplish nothing scientifically. Of course, since is an ex-astronaut....

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