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NASA Government Mars The Almighty Buck Politics

NASA Delays Orion's First Manned Flight Until 2023 115

The Verge reports that the first manned flight planned for the Orion crew capsule has been delayed, and is now slated to take place in 2023, rather than the previously hoped-for 2021. The delay is based on both budget and design considerations; Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration at NASA, said at a press conference yesterday that several changes have been made to save weight in the capsule, including reducing the number of panels that make up the craft's cone. The article notes So far, Orion has met most of its major milestones. The spacecraft made its first uncrewed test flight in December 2014. The engineering team also recently demonstrated the Orion could land safely despite the failure of two of its parachutes. NASA hopes to eventually launch the Orion on top of the Space Launch System (SLS) — a giant rocket the space agency is currently building to go beyond lower Earth orbit. The plan is to send astronauts on the Orion to Mars sometime in the 2030s.
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NASA Delays Orion's First Manned Flight Until 2023

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    to go basically nowhere. It's a vacuum, fools, not some mythical "final frontier".

    • Actually if there is a breakthrough with fusion power generation, we'll need a lot of Helium-3 which should be plentiful on the moon.

      If we are to colonize something other than earth, we need the experience of thriving in harsh environments.

      The fact that we cannot detect intelligent life elsewhere in the universe implies a responsibility to spread humanity - an off-site backup if you will...
      • Oh god. There is hardly any He3 on the moon. It is in the parts per *billion* range and a mine to run just one power station would be the biggest mining operation of ever. On top of that, He3 fusion is *way way way* harder than DT or even DD fusion. And with DD fusion you get He3 ash. It would still be cheaper just to breed He3.

        If He3 is the best reason you can come up with to go to the moon. You have no reason to ever go to the moon.
        • I can't really argue the point because I have not personally tested lunar samples or performed fusion experiments.

          That said, I have read *many* articles in popular press concerning the relative abundance of lunar He3 and its benefits as a fuel. E.g. http://www.extremetech.com/ext... [extremetech.com]

          I'll take your points and these articles with a grain of salt.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    "rather than the previously hoped-for 2010."

    8^)

    • Still hoping for a 2010 launch date... there's your problem right there.
      • Well there's why it's taking so long, they've got to wait for the time machine specified in the design to be invented .

        Congress : "You're getting pork! And you're getting pork! And you're getting pork! EVERYBODY'S getting PORK!"
        "Sorry, no spaceship for you... we can't afford that."
  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt AT nerdflat DOT com> on Thursday September 17, 2015 @11:12AM (#50540817) Journal
    I don't know how many times I tried to click on it before I finally realized that it was just some text surrounded by otherwise empty <a> </a> tags
    • by jandrese ( 485 )
      Maybe they were going to fill in the URL later and forgot? It's not like the Slashdot editors are going to verify the links are working...

      Anyway, there is a good bit of information about the Orion spacecraft [nasa.gov] on NASA's official page.
    • by Megane ( 129182 )
      NASA plans to fill in the URL for that link by 2023.
  • ... is now slated to take place in 2023, rather than the previously hoped-for 2010...
    We regret to inform you that the delay announcement has been delayed as well.
    • Those guys have been stuck in that capsule a long time waiting for the "go - no go" decision. Hope they didn't have to pee when they got in.

    • ... is now slated to take place in 2023, rather than the previously hoped-for 2010...

      NASA also announced, that those responsible for the delay, have been sacked.

      We regret to inform you that the delay announcement has been delayed as well.

      NASA further announced, that those responsible for the delayed delay announcement, have also been sacked.

      Rumor has it that next week, NASA will announce, that those responsible for the sacking, will be sacked.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Where's the Kickstarter link?

  • 2010 eh?

    Proofreading - it's not just for college papers.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @11:16AM (#50540857)

    >> slated to take place in 2023, rather than the previously hoped-for 2010

    I think we knew it wasn't going to be 2010...

  • So the only reason any organization ever does anything is because they'd suffer negative consequences if they don't do it. If a company doesn't do anything, they go out of business. A government agency can embarrass the elected officials in charge, so that the higher-ups get fired and replaced.

    None of that is likely to happen to NASA. No administration since Nixon has given half a squat about our space program. Half of the taxpayers are so short-sighted that they don't see any good reason to ever bother

    • by Megane ( 129182 )

      It doesn't matter what an "administration" thinks about space anyhow. All the President can do is cheerleading. It's our legislative branch that keeps underfunding NASA, making sure that what funds they do provide are mostly earmarked to ensure that they go to the appropriate pork projects. Projects such as the Senate Launch System, which still lacks any real mission after it (someday) goes up for the first crewed test flight.

      Right now the only purpose of SLS is to build SLS.

      • It doesn't matter what an "administration" thinks about space anyhow. All the President can do is cheerleading. It's our legislative branch that keeps underfunding NASA, making sure that what funds they do provide are mostly earmarked to ensure that they go to the appropriate pork projects. Projects such as the Senate Launch System , which still lacks any real mission after it (someday) goes up for the first crewed test flight.

        Right now the only purpose of SLS is to build SLS.

        Great Freudian slip there!

    • No administration since Nixon has given half a squat about our space program.

      Arguably no Administration ever has cared about the space program. The cared about about beating Rooskies, and the space program was a means to that end - but no more.

  • Dragon (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @11:26AM (#50540911)
    Luckily, Dragon will be flying a bit sooner.
    • Not if the neo-cons in CONgress get their way.
    • In NASA's defense, Orion is designed for missions away from Earth and Dragon is for LEO. While Orion will be tested in Earth orbit, so were Apollo components and I don't see that as a bad thing.

      Dragon is great and I think SpaceX will get pretty good mileage out of it, both manned and unmanned. I think having a private way to get people into orbit will also help other companies like Bigelow [bigelowaerospace.com].

      Orion and Dragon have different design parameters. Orion is designed to pretty much go anywhere and will be expensiv

      • by Macrat ( 638047 )

        Orion and Dragon have different design parameters..

        Space X will likely already be flying a "deep space" Dragon long before Orion sees an orbital launch.

  • So...
    In the 1960s we could take basically an untried technology and build it (from C-1 to C5), deploy it, and use it for a lunar shot in https://xkcd.com/1133/ (up-goer five)

    • Who needs space exploration when you have ubiquitous hi-speed internet, Facebook, Netflix and pizza delivering drones? You're living in the past!
    • ...and /.'s fine, modern comment system deleted the statemnt between the word "shot" and the xkcd reference:

      "...while in the 2000s, we announce a project in 2004 to essentially re-build (but update) 40-year-old tech, and the first manned flight isn't for 19 years"

    • Re:Just for scale (Score:4, Informative)

      by Coren22 ( 1625475 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @11:59AM (#50541161) Journal

      Imagine what NASA could do with the money from one less F-35.

    • Orion: 10 years and counting (from original Constellation announcement), 1 uncrewed sub-orbital launch, approx. 8 years to the first crewed launch. 18 years from announcement to crewed launch.

      The entire Apollo program: 9 years, including 6 lunar landings, 9 total lunar missions, 2 crewed orbital, 10 uncrewed orbital, 6 uncrewed sub-orbital. Also 1 catastrophic event/delay and 1 near catastrophic event which was saved by the ingenuity/resolve of the engineers.

      I miss the 1960s NASA (except for the catastrophe

    • In the 1960s the space race was a proxy for a hot war between the US and the USSR so both nations put loads of money and expertise in their programs. Plus the programs were something to rally the citizens around. Today there isn't a space race, at least nowhere near in the intensity. Most of the nations are co-operating with the ISS. There's a bit of a race towards the moon and another one for Mars but they are all out far in the future. Sending people into orbit is fairly routine so that the average p

  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @12:17PM (#50541329) Homepage Journal

    Orion first made an uncrewed test flight in 2014. They hope to make the first crewed flight by 2023.

    And then send a crew to mars in the 2030s.

    Really? 9 years to go from test to *first* manned flight, then 7-17 years to a manned Mars mission?

    They just make this up over Starbucks?

    A Dragon will go to Mars before Orion at this pace. Any living Apollo engineers must be gagging on such progress. Let them get their slide rules out and build this with an Android smartphone for a computer and two trips on a Saturn V. Sheesh. We are losing the ability to do big things.

    • by Megane ( 129182 )

      The primary mission of SLS is not to get humans into space. It is to funnel taxpayer money into various states and congressional districts.

      Delaying the manned launch increases the duration of the porkbux flow. Mission accomplished!

      • Hate to say it, but you're absolutely right.

        Why on earth is NASA even allocating money towards a "crewed" module? On a supposed mission to Mars, you're not going to sit in the same seat for 8-12 months. The module concept made sense when it was a race to put SPAM around the moon. And the slashdot peanut gallery is right; Dragon is going to beat out the Orion module by years. NASA may as well kill this component of the program.

        The two real challenges to a manned Mars mission will be to deliver a manned

        • Yup. I think the Mars mission will have to be a special ship (rather like the one in Astronaut), probably constructed in orbit.

    • by q4Fry ( 1322209 )

      Can I join your fantasy spaceflight league? I'm drafting Mark Watney and EmDrive.

  • They were obviously so inspired by the movie The Martian, they thought they could go back in time and get the program launched a few years ago. Give them some more time and they might just pull it off. :)

  • EM-1 is not actually delayed to 2023 yet. Just expecting it will be eventually because usually these projects have unforeseen delays. Currently they are still working to do 2021.
  • by bledri ( 1283728 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @02:43PM (#50543117)
    1. The goal is still 2021.
    2. The summary's original target of 2010 is a reflection on Slashdot, not NASA.
    3. The projected, potential slip from 2021 to 2023 is to account for budget uncertainties.
    4. The President (evil democrat at the moment) always proposes funding commercial crew (which gives competitive bids to private companies to solve the problem as they see fit) to return LEO launch capabilities ASAP.
    5. A congressional committee (mix of evil democrats and slightly more evil republicans) always moves funding from commercial crew to SLS/Orion (deep space/exploration built with multiple contractors based in their congressional districts as a way to "spread the wealth.")
    6. Too be fair, there are evil congressmen that support commercial crew and evil congressmen that oppose all spaceflight. But the evil congressmen with the most influence on the relevant committees currently prefer the wealth is spread to their own districts which sadly are not commercial space hotbeds.

    Yes, I am biased, I like commercial crew and I like having more than one commercial crew provider because I think it leads to a more sustainable future in spaceflight. That said, I'm OK with big long range government programs in theory. Unfortunately it's virtually impossible to do sustained government projects (like put humans on Mars) because the people that fund those projects have to worry more about where the money is spent rather than the actual outcome of the project. And the person that chooses the project changes every 4 or 8 years and usually doesn't want to look like they support anything the last guy did. Meanwhile the guy(s) that decide where the money goes hang around forever, so the money goes to the same people, just for a moving target of a goal. Which is why we are going back to the Moon, no Mars, I mean capturing an asteroid but still giving lip service to Mars, but not really. Or something like that.

  • The ISS will de-orbit by the time Orion flies.

    We'll be hitching ride with the Russians for the next 20 years (trust me on that, the timeframe will be pushed back even further). Of course that assumes we're not at war with the Russians by that point.

    Meanwhile; corporate, privately-funded access to space will be ahead of NASA... While it may take 30 more years, space-X or virgin galactic will have a re-usable SSTO craft by that time.

    • We won't have to rely on Russians that long. I have faith in private space companies.

      • We won't have to rely on Russians that long. I have faith in private space companies.

        I'd love to see the business plan of the company that wants to land a few astronauts on Mars.

        Apart from the sale of TV rights, I don't see there being much on the "cash inflows" line.

        • Yeah, I don't have confidence in that. However, if Musk wants Space-X to go to Mars, he's got to make sure he's got relatively low-cost ways to get people and stuff to low earth orbit. As far as getting to LEO goes, he's doing what I want him to do, and he's got a business plan.

    • by bledri ( 1283728 )

      The ISS will de-orbit by the time Orion flies.

      We'll be hitching ride with the Russians for the next 20 years (trust me on that, the timeframe will be pushed back even further). Of course that assumes we're not at war with the Russians by that point.

      Meanwhile; corporate, privately-funded access to space will be ahead of NASA... While it may take 30 more years, space-X or virgin galactic will have a re-usable SSTO craft by that time.

      SLS/Orion's primary mission is deep space not LEO. But SLS/Orion tends to take money from Commercial Crew (which is the set of contracts for LEO human space flight.) SpaceX's Dragon/F9 and Boeing's Starliner/Atlas will be flying astronauts to ISS in 2017 (or 2018 if Congress keeps syphoning money from Commercial Crew to SLS).

  • Time to shit can the whole thing and put Musk and Bezos in charge.
  • "the Orion crew capsule has been delayed, and is now slated to launch ... " at Infinity and Beyond!

  • If we don't wipe out Islam, civilization won't last long enough to escape this solar system.

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