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NASA Moon Space Transportation Science Technology

Pieces Coming Together For NASA's New Spacecraft 78

Matt_dk points out an update on the progress of development for NASA's Ares I launch rocket, excerpting: "NASA is using powerful computers and software programs to design the rocket that will carry crew and cargo to space after the space shuttle retires. But those computers will have their work checked the old-fashioned way with the first of several uncrewed demonstration launches beginning in 2009. Ares I-X, the first Ares I test rocket, will lift off from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. in the summer of 2009. It will climb about 25 miles in a two-minute powered test of Ares I first stage performance and its first stage separation and parachute recovery system." Reader coondoggie notes that NASA is also looking further afield, putting out the call for ideas on moon colonization. They'll be offering a variety of grants for projects which facilitate human activities that are "not reliant on Earth's resources."
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Pieces Coming Together For NASA's New Spacecraft

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  • by takane ( 1277990 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @10:30AM (#26012827)
    According to this [slashdot.org] it may not actually happen, in fact it may just be the beginning of the budgetary death spiral for the whole manned space program.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 06, 2008 @11:07AM (#26013001)

    While the 20 some year old space shuttle (that was kind of funny, I mistyped it shittle the first time) ages not so gracefully, we need a replacement to move people and objects to the ISS. Obama is already talking about scaling back the most massive projects at NASA, and in today's econopolitical climate I doubt there is going to be a great deal of support behind new huge expensive rockets. For the amount of raw materials and fuel expended (yes, I know rockets can be relaunched) it doesn't strike me as a very efficient way to get into space. Where are the sleek little ships that we hop into and are in orbit in minutes? I know its science fiction (orbit takes a great deal of velocity and acceleration from 0 to such lofty speeds might take a bit of time)

    It's not science fiction, it takes a couple of minutes to reach orbit with those big rockets. The fact that you don't even know this makes me think you're talking out of your arse.
      What we need are more dense fuels, which basically means nuclear (either fission or fusion), otherwise we're stuck with the ridiculously tiny ratio of payload to launch mass.

  • Re:Saturn V (Score:5, Informative)

    by Detritus ( 11846 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @12:48PM (#26013633) Homepage
    It was hardly perfect. It was expensive and took a small army of engineers and technicians to prepare and launch. If it was magically resurrected from its blueprints, we probably couldn't afford to operate it without a massive increase in NASA's budget.
  • by Nit Picker ( 9292 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @01:10PM (#26013783)

    Back in the 50's, 60's, and 70's several experimental nuclear rocket engines were built and static tested They were reactors that had liquid hydrogen forced through the core. One of the projects went by the acronym NERVA if you want to look it up. My understanding is that the engines had specific impulses well above those obtainable with chemical rockets, but no one liked the potential impacts of a launch failure.

  • by Zibblsnrt ( 125875 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @01:57PM (#26014047)

    What if "only" two U.S. tactical nukes were accidentally dropped while they were being flown over some American land during training exercises in the last 30 years?

    Only dropping two of them by accident would be a fourfold improvement over the eight (that I know of) from 1966 and 1968.

  • by maxume ( 22995 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @03:33PM (#26014599)

    Coal power spews radium and uranium into the atmosphere. It isn't visible or concentrated, so it doesn't receive all that much attention.

    A few kilograms from a reactor incident would make a huge mess, but it wouldn't be devastating to much of anything.

  • by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @05:18PM (#26015177) Journal

    Where is the Edison of the new age? Where is the Tesla of the 21st century?

    Here's some people who combine Edison and Tesla in varying degrees, either through novel technologies or (more importantly) utilizing already-existing technologies more cost-effectively to try to reduce the cost of spaceflight by orders of magnitude:

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson