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NASA Transportation Upgrades

NASA Approves Production of Most Powerful Rocket Ever 146

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, NASA has given a green light to the production of a new motor, dubbed the Space Launch System, intended to enable deep space exploration. Boeing, prime contractor on the rocket, announced on Wednesday that it had completed a critical design review and finalized a $US2.8-billion contract with NASA. The last time the space agency made such an assessment of a deep-space rocket was the mighty Saturn V, which took astronauts to the moon. ... Space Launch System's design called for the integration of existing hardware, spurring criticism that it's a "Frankenstein rocket," with much of it assembled from already developed technology. For instance, its two rocket boosters are advanced versions of the Space Shuttle boosters, and a cryogenic propulsion stage is based on the motor of a rocket often used by the Air Force. The Space Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group and frequent NASA critic, said Space Launch System was "built from rotting remnants of left over congressional pork. And its budgetary footprints will stamp out all the missions it is supposed to carry, kill our astronaut program and destroy science and technology projects throughout NASA."
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NASA Approves Production of Most Powerful Rocket Ever

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  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <(delirium-slashdot) (at) (> on Saturday July 05, 2014 @07:39AM (#47387775)

    Yeah I don't see how "propulsion stage is based on the motor of a rocket often used by the Air Force" is a negative thing about it. If anything that suggests they might actually be able to deliver something that works.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 05, 2014 @07:48AM (#47387807)

    The problem is that this rocket was designed by the senate so the money would be spent in as many states as possibles. US senators are usually lawyers, not engineers, there's no way they have the technical knowledge to design a good rocket.

  • by RotateLeftByte ( 797477 ) on Saturday July 05, 2014 @07:50AM (#47387817)

    Like two Boeing 737 Fuselages that ened up in the river after a derailment. []

    Oppss..... Someone is going to have to foot an awfully big bill for that one.

  • by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Saturday July 05, 2014 @07:53AM (#47387829)
    In my opinion the problem is not reuse of existing tech. It allows reuse of manufacturing capability, it comes with well known maintenance and troubleshooting procedures, etc. The problem is handing the gov a huge bill for doing very little, and using existing tech to milk out a big payday, and not choosing the tech based on suitability, or using it to advance the science any. The latter is something Boeing has been very good at.
  • by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Saturday July 05, 2014 @07:57AM (#47387843)

    If I compare that amount to all the money wasted so far on useless "wars" by the U.S.A., it's not much.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 05, 2014 @08:31AM (#47387933)

    Written like a PR person for these unaccomplished or little-accomplished startups which have been founded on the experience and basic research done by NASA. I'd love to start a business where my R&D was done by someone else (yeah, I know, see pretty much every web startup ever). The thing is, that's by design. It's what was intended to happen. It's why we have NASA and the like to do what they do. So it works out and some people just have to criticize those who made it possible.

    Now, should the contract have gone to established players with established hardware and such? I would have preferred not, but I would also prefer Congress shut the hell up about where things are sourced just because of their pork barrel crap. That kind of stuff has killed people, and it will do so again. (See two totally avoidable Shuttle accidents had the designs been what the engineers wanted, had boosters not needed to be made in sections for shipping, etc.)

    On the other hand: maybe this one time is OK. We have no space program worthy of the name right now. Maybe we do this to get going fast and we immediately set about improving it and also designing its replacement. That is what should have happened with the shuttle program. With all we learned plus modern materials and tech, a shuttle 2.0 would be great--except for an idiot Congress and an ignorant, anti-science public of course.

  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Saturday July 05, 2014 @08:54AM (#47388011)

    . Space Launch System's design called for the integration of existing hardware, spurring criticism that it's a "Frankenstein rocket," with much of it assembled from already developed technology.

    I would much rather them use existing tried tech and incrementally advance them rather than try a radical new design. A new design would take extra years of testing before it is ready for use but if we can tweak existing tech, and make it useful for deep space why not??

      Based on the next sentence it tells me that they are more concerned with bringing home the bacon than making progress in space.

    It's the standard problem when you're a tech. The client likes to give you a solution and ask you to build it, rather than give you a problem and ask you to solve it.

    If their goal is to save money, then state that in the requirements. If you want it to work with existing tech, then state that. By instead putting what you think the solution is directly into the requirements you're not only limiting your techs ability to solve the problem, you're also hiding your true goals from them. That tech probably has far better solutions for that problem than you could possibly think of so let them work on it.

    Better requirements would be:
    We want to go to mars for less than $20 billion.

    Short, simple, Let the technical experts run with that.

  • Re:Amen man (Score:5, Insightful)

    by germansausage ( 682057 ) on Saturday July 05, 2014 @10:33AM (#47388395)

    Nasa 2014 - about $18 billion
    Iraq + Afghanistan - $4 to $6 trillion
    So about 200 to 300 times more for the war than what NASA gets this year.

  • by cavreader ( 1903280 ) on Saturday July 05, 2014 @11:21AM (#47388603)

    Without the war mongering Air Force and Navy or the military in general most of the technology you enjoy using today would be non-existent or significantly less advanced. Technology advances in general have been accelerated ever since the Chinese, Persians, Greeks, and Romans began trying to conquer the world. Civilian companies working on space technologies today are all taking advantage of work pioneered by the warmongers to advance science and make profits. They have all benefited from the trillions of dollars spent by governments who put no price tag on one upping their potential adversaries to build the better mousetrap. And while NASA might have budget problems the military sure doesn't which is where new material sciences, advanced computer technologies, and new propulsion systems are being created.

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