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Censorship NASA Space Your Rights Online

NASA Contractors Censoring Saturn V Info 583

cybrpnk2 writes "Get ready to surrender your data sheets, study reports and blueprints of the Saturn V to stay in compliance with ITAR. Armed guards are reportedly taking down and shredding old Saturn V posters from KSC office walls that show rough internal layouts of the vehicle, and a Web site that is a source for various digitized blueprints has been put on notice it may well be next. No word yet if the assignment of a Karl Rove protege high up in NASA has any connection."
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NASA Contractors Censoring Saturn V Info

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  • Ballistis Missiles (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Mr Europe ( 657225 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @06:09AM (#20040213)
    The real reason may be that now there are several countries developing long range missiles. Old Saturn design could well be used for such purpose.
  • by Bazman ( 4849 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @06:12AM (#20040227) Journal
    Actually its more like a nice ICBM that also happens to make a not-very-nice launch vehicle. With an ICBM, you don't really care about re-usability. Just get it up, over and down onto your enemy with as much explosive payload as possible. With a launch vehicle you want to get up, up, and more up, then maybe down and up again, many times. Saturn V was the logical extension of the German V-2 rocket programme, but as a launch vehicle it was an expensive means to the end of getting to the moon before the Russians.

    That doesn't stop me worshipping it :) I had a model Saturn V when I was a kid in about 1970, and if I still had it now and some government agent decides its a military component and wants to take it away from me, well, over my dead body. I'd feel the same way if I was working for NASA and they started tearing down my vintage 1960's Apollo posters.

  • by Carakav ( 1134761 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @06:14AM (#20040245)
    I will always fail to understand why anyone would defend censorship. If it is the case that this coincides with the assignment of new top-level personnel, then it's not unfair to draw connections.
  • by fadilnet ( 1124231 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @06:32AM (#20040329) Homepage
    The question that comes up is - How open do you think NASA should be? Can sharing of information (incl. blueprints) be so sensitive (to security? to prevent new companies from showing up?)? There are so much corporate interests in making money and humanity is not open-minded enough - there will always be a nut-head somewhere who will use the information to do something really bad. I wonder if the data from CERN will be censored as well.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 30, 2007 @06:51AM (#20040431)
    ...that this is just a Slashvertisement for up-ship.com?

    The first thing most Slashdotters will have done is try to grab a copy of the Saturn V blueprints for themselves only to find that they're required to pay that site for them.

    Has kdawson been manipulated yet again, or is it just another part of the ./ revenue collection system, a la Roland Piquepaille et al?
  • by NotmyNick ( 1089709 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @07:04AM (#20040513)
    All I see is a guy who makes his living selling memorabilia and documents screaming about the possibility of some of those docs becoming artificially scarce (in just a few short hours!) and the only corroboration he seems to have is what looks to be the excerpt of what could have been an email from an unknown person in some NASA office somewhere at Kennedy. Something smells.
  • by Ancient_Hacker ( 751168 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @07:31AM (#20040665)
    Totally nutty idea.

    • Nobody's going to build a Saturn V for "terrorist" applications.
    • You can't build a Saturn V from a poster. Or a blueprint. Or even 100 blueprints. Every detail, from the metallurgy of the rivets, to the welding techniques for the heat exchangers, to the construction of the tools, dies, jigs, test fixtures, processing chemicals, dips, platings, surface treatments, case-hardenings, ball peening, test plans, processing timelines, and much more, each encompasses a whole thick book of technology, most of which has been lost. Or is available on microfiche from any good Univerity or Govt documents repository library. Plus the Saturn V had about 130,000 subcontractors that supplied everything from gold-plated lockwashers to platinum-skinned servomotors. The technology for those was not captured in the basic Saturn V documents. For instance the specs for a small servomotor might have read "35 ft-lbs torque, 0.1% resolution, 77 to 800 degrees C. and how they did it was a trade secret of some now defunct subcontractor. And the making of the motor's teflon-coated wires was a trade secret of the wire manufacturer. And so on. Multiply that by 130,000 times.
    • So you not only would not want to, you could not even begin to build a Saturn V from the "blueprints".
  • by tgatliff ( 311583 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @07:32AM (#20040667)
    Why is this seen as a political issue? I mean, ignorance applies everywhere.... And "Neo Cons"?? Where the hell did this come from?? Instead of everyone just speculating and trying to fufill what you want to believe, why doesnt someone just file a FOIA on some of the Saturn V docs. In fact, I will do that today and see what turns up... At least then you have an official response...

    And no, I am not going to believe this "terrorists could use Saturn V to deliver nuclear warheads" crap. That argument is just plain ignorant.....
  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @07:34AM (#20040685) Homepage Journal

    By today's standards, Apollo was a dinky little deathtrap,

    The more I read the ALSJ [nasa.gov] the more respect I have for the hardware. The Apollo CM would have survived both shuttle disasters. The Apollo 13 incident resulted in a more mature spacecraft with more redundancy. A similar incident on a shuttle would probably have killed the crew immediately. Building the system out of small modules meant that the architecture could accommodate expanded modules. Apollo serviced the lunar program, skylab and apollo-soyuz.

    I just wish NASA had looked into an economical launcher to support it after the supply of Saturn Vs ran out.

    the men who rode it were no-foolin' heroes.

    No argument from me on that front.

  • Re:kdawson, stop (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @07:58AM (#20040833)
    You do realize that it wasn't kdawson that wrote that part of the summary, right? Of course, that takes a few seconds of observation and thought to figure out...

    But it takes kdawson a few seconds to deliberately choose THAT summary out of the hundreds that will get discarded today, including no doubt a dozen that refer to this exact article. The "Rove" comment is completely gratuitous, and you know it. It's an interesting topic, and raises questions about how wisely security people in a government agency are, or are not, interpreting policy regarding something that's going to be a bigger and bigger issue over the next few years (ICBMs made by, or used by people that talk loudly and frequently about which populations they want to see destroyed for religious reasons). Having a conversation about that, and how well or poorly the issue was repored, etc., doesn't require completely BS speculation about some Dr. Evil-esque secret poster-snatching scheme directed by the absurd comic-bookish portrayal of the left's favorite boogeyman. That's like saying that Clinton would approve the sale of missile technology to the Chinese military in exchange for back-door campaign cash. OK, maybe that's a bad example of total fiction.
  • by Flying pig ( 925874 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @08:11AM (#20040905)
    I remember a comment from a literary critic - forget who- on much thriller writing from the early 20th century. One of the common themes was dastardly (insert enemy here) trying to steal the plans of the latest battleship. As he pointed out, you would need (in those days) an entire railway train to steal the plans for a battleship. You might be able to find out about the planned armament, and even the displacement and SHP, but these would certainly not help very much in building a copy.
  • by sp3d2orbit ( 81173 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @09:05AM (#20041419)
    Let me start by saying tearing down posters seems a bit excessive. But, not everything is giant Neo-Con conspiracy. Even if it was a conspiracy it doesn't necessarily mean its a bad thing. I think an overlooked fact is that within the last 5 years the US's main enemies have acquired or are quickly acquiring nuclear weapons. While it won't stop them from building missile, I don't understand why we should make it easy by providing them plans for a relatively cheap and relatively reliable ICBM system.
  • Re:Of course (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 30, 2007 @09:14AM (#20041517)
    I know the majority of people dislike Joseph Goebbels [wikipedia.org], but let me assure you, the Government was doing stupid things long before he came along, and that will never change.
  • by Isaac-1 ( 233099 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @09:17AM (#20041545)
    The supply of Saturn V's did not run out, a handful of them were left to rot as museum exhibits around the country in those 7+ years while no American went to space waiting on the shuttle to be flight ready (years behind scheduled) , I can think of 3 (one at the Cape in Florida, one at JSC in Houston, one in Huntsville, AL), I think there may be more like 5.
  • by maillemaker ( 924053 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @09:37AM (#20041765)
    >It's what they came up with that was buildable in the time allotted. Sure, NASA was working on single stage
    >to orbit designs, but they knew SSTO wouldn't be doable until the 90's, and the challange was to get there
    >before 1970. It was a pure case of 'throw enough money at the problem and you'll get results'.

    I recently toured the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. Here is how the progression of our space program appears from that visit:

    V2: Badass
    Mercury: More Badass
    Gemini: More Badass
    Apollo: More Badass
    Space Shuttle: Cost Effective

    We aren't good enough at space travel yet to be focusing on Cost Effective. We need more "Badass" in our space program.
  • by Miseph ( 979059 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @10:06AM (#20042131) Journal
    "I don't see the relation... We did not have enemies, who could destroy a city of ours within minutes, so we did not have anything to fear"

    Nor could we destroy one of their cities in just a few minutes... well, not unless we were able to fly some heavy bombers over and level it with conventional weapons. In any case, we had many enemies, and most of them were just as big and powerful as we were. Iran may not be weak, but they've got nothing on the full military might of the U.S. Ditto that for Korea, Syria, Pakistan, and the others. Besides, we still don't have enemies capable of leveling a city in a few minutes, because they're all just starting to maybe think about looking into developing their own ICBMs and even if they rip off old satellite plans it will take them years to synthesize the things all by themselves. We've got at least 5 years plus minutes with most of those guys, and that's assuming we don't spot their test prototypes and beat the shit out of them for even trying.

    Realistically, the only ones who we have any right to be afraid of are the Chinese. They've not only got working nukes (which only one of the above are actually all that close to having, namely Pakistan), but are just about done putting the finishing touches on a delivery system. Definitely too late to hide anything so trivial as Saturn V blueprints from them. Plus they're big, really big, and they have plenty of industrial capital to stay armed and keep ammo in the boxes for a very long time. A handful of beards in caves just aren't that big a deal.

    "Where do you see "cowardice" here?"

    What else do you call attempting to hide behind a giant wall of technology from enemies who lack the ability to really harm you even without it? I'd say that fear of a fair fight is the very definition of cowardice.
  • by sp3d2orbit ( 81173 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @10:43AM (#20042637)
    Are you serious? Are you believing the propoganda of North Korea "mastering nuclear technology"?

    Honest, I'm surprised you missed the news:

    http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/asiapcf/10/08/korea. nuclear.test/index.html [cnn.com]

    Because no matter how crazy you are you realize that if you actually ever use this type of technology in a strike, then you will quickly be hit with a US arsenal with > 550 land based ICBMs (most which are in europe/asia)

    You grossly misunderestimate (hehe) our enemies. The Theocracy in charge of Iran is first a religious organization, and second a government. Perhaps you have been lucky enough to never meet anyone religious enough to actually want the apocolypse to happen. I have, and don't put the same trust in their ability to think rationally anymore. Moreover, Iran would be unlikely to attack us so long as their hatred is focused on Israel. Iran's president has said that he will wipe Israel from the map and that all it would take is one nuclear weapon.

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/10/26/news/iran.p hp [iht.com]

    Do you share his anti-Semitism? Are you simply ignorant of Israel's tragic past? I would guess that you simply don't care or don't understand the situation.

    So why do these countries want atomic weapons? Three reasons. First, to convey political power in your region, which is why Iran wants them. Second, to try to get communications lines established with the US. (North Korea) Third, to prevent any potential future invasion. (Iran, North Korea, India, and Pakistan)

    Says who? You? Get real. Those may seem like great reasons to you. However you ignore a fourth reason: Iran denies Israel's right to exist. Let me repeat, the Iranian government would love to see every Jew in the middle east dead. Perhaps you missed this development:

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

    North Korea could have had normal communications with us 13 years ago when they signed and then promptly disregarded 1994 framework from nuclear disarmament. Contrary to your argument, North Korea's nuclear weapons program kept them from having normal relations. North Korea doesn't need nuclear weapons. Only its leaders do. Since 1994 millions of North Koreans have starved while its leaders squander a ridiculous 1/4 of GDP on military defense. Why? The Korean war ended long before the Vietnam war. Yet, today we do ample business with Vietnam and have almost zero relations with North Korea. Its them, not US.

    Also, dont believe the argument of "they could give it to the terrorists and use a dirty bomb".

    You're putting words in my mouth. I never said anything to that effect.

    Name the last time Iran invaded any nation? Go ahead.. Ill wait...

    You arrogance belies your ignorance. From my memory:
    - Iran supported Hezbollah with money and weapons and people during the Israeli-Lebanon conflict less than a year ago.
    - More recently, Iran crossed into international waters and attacked British troops, taking some hostage. That was in March.
    - US forces have arrested a number of Iranian military units operating illegally within Iraq. Is sending troops into a country and invasion?

    As I've said before, the Iranian president has declared his desire to wipe Israel off the map, and to bring an end to the Great White Satan (USA). We're talking about a regime that denies basic human rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The support militant groups and sow violence. Their policies have decimated the Iranian economy, reduced the standard of living for all Iranians, and caused at least one war within recent history (Israel - Lebanon 2006).
  • by andreMA ( 643885 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @10:57AM (#20042823)
    No new fuels? Both Ares I and Ares V use solids and LH2/LOX. About the only better performance you're going to get out of chemical rockets is LH and Flourine... even more dangerous, difficult to handle and expensive.

    Although I think they should have gone with RP-1/LOX for the first stage... sure, hydrocarbons are less energetic, but you save a lot of tankage mass due to the higher density. In a perfect world we'd have a tripropellant motor that switches from LOX/RP-1 to LOX/LH and strap-on RP-1 tanks that can be jettisoned when empty which would possibly be a nice compromise.

    Then again, designing a such an engine would likely result in tradeoffs such that neither fuel is burned very efficiently.
  • by snowwrestler ( 896305 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @11:10AM (#20042971)
    ICBMs can be spotted on radar, shot down with interceptor weapons, and traced back to their nation of origin, which is then bombed back to the stone age. In other words, they respond very well to the tried-and-true diplomatic tactics of deterrence. What we really DON'T want are nations building bombs in backpacks, suitcases, shipping containers, sailboats, etc. We don't have great systems to stop those kinds of delivery vehicles, and we don't have great diplomatic experience managing those sorts of asymmetric threats.

    Furthermore we are talking about technology that is 40 years old now. Pretending that we can put that genie back in the bottle is exactly the sort of fantastic thinking that leads to terrible security.

    Even if you can not make it impossible for your enemies to obtain a secret, you can still make it harder -- every step of the way.
    True, but we're not talking about secrets, we're talking about information that has been freely available for decades. Even referring to it as a "secret" is dishonest, wishful thinking.
  • Re:private sector (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:04PM (#20043685)
    The future of space travel belongs to the private sector.

    That's what they said four years ago about the private sector in Iraq. And privatization turned out to be inferior there to socialism in every way, even as implemented by a buffoon like Saddam Hussein: Socialism 1, Privatization 0. That really opened my eyes to the intellectual bankruptcy of this decades-old canard, that the public sector needs dismantlement and the private sector deserves to be worshiped. They both share corruption as an Achilles heel.

    Who the hell wants to watch Nike and Disney doing cross-marketing from a low Earth orbit anyway? Which they will have bought for pennies at a corrupt auction so they can launch billboards and crap into space? LEO has already been considered as a venue for obnoxious advertising, to the horror of astronomers- and once it becomes feasible, you can expect to see a lot of well-funded lobbying efforts to protect its feasibility for investment. I'd rather have our current system even if it occasionally launches drunks or psycho bitches into space.
  • It would be funnier if some people didn't think it was such a good idea [bbc.co.uk].
  • by Suzuran ( 163234 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:55PM (#20044501)
    The IU was the Instrument Unit that was in the Saturn. The IU contained all of the instruments of the Saturn, and two small computers. The "main" computer was called the LVDC, or Launch Vehicle Digital Computer. It was attached to a specialized IO adapter called the LVDA, which fed attitude error signals to an analog computer called simply the Flight Control Computer. The FCC moved the engines to null the error signals. This was all designed by IBM, who has since lost much of the documentation.

    The CM and LM computers were designed by MIT and called AGC or Apollo Guidance Computer. They were entirely separate, save for a provision for the CM AGC to provide manually-generated take-over error signals to the FCC via the LVDA in the event of a LVDC failure in the third stage. The take-over was never used.

    (I work on a project that is reverse-engineering Apollo as a GPLed software simulation, so I know way more than my fair share. My current project is reverse-engineering the Saturn LVDC, since the original source code was lost. I am watching this with great interest, since if this is true it means the last two years of my work will be a total waste.)
  • Re:private sector (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CptPicard ( 680154 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @12:32AM (#20053167)
    Glad you noticed. I was thinking about the same thing about Iraq today before reading your post. The Free Market was supposed to magically solve all of Iraq's problems overnight, and yet I read in the news that a huge number of Iraqis are at the moment in critical need for outside aid, as the whole society is essentially collapsing. I kind of believe that if there had been a little less ideological dogmatism involved, giving the Iraqis a generous oil-funded social democracy would have allowed for a dignified US exit from a pacified country; if you're politically so opposed to the idea, don't you think the Iraqi democracy would have sorted out the possible "inefficiencies" in due time, at their own pace?

    It's quite remarkable how indoctrinated Americans are against the public sector. I think it's a self-reinforcing cultural feature though; when you believe from the outset it won't and can't work, and that it must not be allowed to work, it won't. It takes quite a bit of civic pride and involvement, which takes a long time to cultivate. I'm from Europe and a lot of the American ideas about how things work (or don't work) here seem to be to be just ideologically motivated scaremongering that has very little to do with reality... fundamentally, a public-sector organization is just like any other organization, and thus is vulnerable to the same kind of problems. They are taken care of by transparency and good management, just like anywhere else.

    Of course a public sector has other goals besides profit-maximization (which is in turn the private sector's role), but that's the whole point really, so it is not an inherent weakness. And to all of those who drool at the prospect of the imminent economic collapse of pinko Europe because it's all unaffordable (and would be even more so in the world's supposedly richest country, the USA)... well.. we're doing better than ever economically, the USD is toilet paper compared to the Euro, my stock market investments in Europe are doing remarkably well... and I have no intent to diversify to the US, as I'm just watching the slow-motion train wreck develop around your questionable debt-fueled bubble economy, which is going to SO sink your regular Joe and Jane Consumer who are then going to die agonizing deaths when they catch something nasty and can't afford to get treated for it. A brutal fate unimaginable here.

    I really prefer a bit of Socialism in my society, thank you very much.. :P

The wages of sin are high but you get your money's worth.