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NASA Space Science

Using Fuel Depots Instead of Giant Rockets 202

EccentricAnomaly writes "The New York Times has a story about a leaked NASA study that showed it would cost $80 BIllion less and get astronauts to an asteroid sooner if NASA used fuel depots instead of developing a new rocket. According to the article, NASA's response to the leaked study is to start developing fuel depots in addition to continuing its new rocket program. Because, after all, who doesn't need more cool stuff."
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Using Fuel Depots Instead of Giant Rockets

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23, 2011 @10:29AM (#37809460)
    There won't be an astronaut on an asteroid. Forget it, get over it. We no longer have the raw energy capacity to spare for these kinds of grandiose stunts. Besides, we already know what's out there, we have pictures. Technology keeps getting better and better, there's no reason to send a person when you can send thousands of probes instead.
  • Re:Let's have both. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bmajik ( 96670 ) <matt@mattevans.org> on Sunday October 23, 2011 @11:09AM (#37809650) Homepage Journal

    Here here!

    The ENTIRE APOLLO PROGRAM cost 160 billion in ADJUSTED 2005 Dollars!!

    That's all missions over the entire program, all support technologies that had to be invented for it, -- everything, the whole enchilada.

    So, _every year_ we spend about 6 _APOLLO PROGRAMS_ blowing up people that don't even matter to us. We borrow 9 APOLLO PROGRAMS every _year_.

    I recommend 1 "Apollo Program" as the new unit of measure of government stupidity. All things the federal government does should be measured in terms of Apollo programs and then the question should be asked, "was that as awesome as how many apollo programs it just cost us? No? then get rid of it"

    I'm one of these irritating libertarian/anarchist types that hates government, but damn if I don't have a soft spot for the space program. If we're going to have a huge federal monster it might as well do things that pay dividends (unlike bombing foreign brown people -- or giving domestic brown people "free" iphones)

    I don't know much about the modern difficultues within NASA. I'm sure that it is surrounded by a bunch of flagellate "private" corporations who bilk NASA and uncle sam for every penny they can and do substandard work. And I suspect it is filled internally with fiefdoms and micro-politicians who care much more about maintaing clout than working towards some overarching shared goal.

    I want to understand what NASA was doing right in the 60s and re-institute that culture, environment, and most importantly, operational excellence. And I want to utilize the exiciting private work that has finally started happening in space exploration.

    I don't care how it gets done, I want more American boots on foreign worlds instead of foreign battlefieds. If we need to call it the militarization of space to make it strictly constitutional, so be it. There was a different article about what to do with old satellites. Hell, blow them up. Develop our anti-satellite missile systems and space-based lasers to the point that we can safely dispose of satellites whenever cleanup would be most convenient. We can bill foreign entities to dispose of their stuff for them (at discount rates, since we're doing it to perfect our capabilities).

    The point is, its embarassing that our national priorities seem to focus entirely on blowing up poor people abroad and creating a cycle of dependant poor people domestically.

    Let's instead focus on growing the small fraction of people who still look towards the infinite skies and dream of what the human race can acheive.

  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @11:27AM (#37809750) Journal
    That is how aviation got off the ground. That is how large ships were created. That is how cars were create. That is how railroads were created. The rich started first and then as the price came down, the average person can go. It is about economics.
  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Sunday October 23, 2011 @12:04PM (#37809926) Homepage

    Ultimately, humanity must escape the cradle of Earth and venture forth, to provide assurance that we will not be snuffed out by destruction -- self-made or otherwise.

    Why? That narrative about it being humankind's destiny to expand and live forever just doesn't hold any more. Plenty of thinkers have speculated that the human race has other possible futures, such as voluntary extinction (declining birthrates in the wake of robots doing almost everything, for example), replacement by a new AI species, living on Earth inside a virtual reality instead of expanding outward, etc.

    Finally, the exploration of frontiers unknown brings out the best our kind has to offer. It is why we exist. When we navel gaze we are not fulfilling our purpose.

    The "purpose" you want to shackle people to is an accident of evolutionary biology. As a sentient species with (relative) free will, we can choose to enjoy this life we have before us and we are not obliged to propagate humanity unto the ages and fill the cosmos. We owe our descendants nothing if we choose not to have descendants.

  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @12:18PM (#37810014) Homepage Journal

    ROFLMAO - I DON'T expect everyone to share my personal views. But, looking at your posts, it might seem that you expect as much!

    And, BTW - as for robots mining the asteroids, to send nice stuff back to earth? Don't expect that in anyone's lifetime. Not unless men are sent to control and supervise the robots. And, if men are sent, they'll probably want women to be sent. And, if women are sent, you can expect some little people soon enough. Pretty soon - you'll have a colony, however official or unofficial that might be.

    One question, though. What do you expect to find in space that is "nice" enough to ship back to earth? Iron? Gems? Heavy metals? I think that you're mostly going to find just plain old rocks, some ores, and a lot of ice.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser