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NASA Prepares To Launch an Orion and 3 Cubesats To Deep Space: 3 Years To Go ( 54

MarkWhittington writes: As NASA has noted, the space agency and its contractors are working diligently on the first launch of the heavy-lift Space Launch System. The launch, officially called EM-1, or Exploration Mission 1, will loft an unpiloted version of the Orion spacecraft around the moon. also noted that a number of secondary payloads, known as CubeSats, will be along for the ride as well. NASA considered EM-1, scheduled for 2018, a crucial step in its Journey to Mars which will, it is hoped, reach its ultimate destination sometime in the 2030s.
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NASA Prepares To Launch an Orion and 3 Cubesats To Deep Space: 3 Years To Go

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  • There's going to be no launch if their banking on that thing being built.

  • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Saturday November 28, 2015 @07:18PM (#51019611) Homepage

    I couldn't stop thinking, "NASA invented time travel - I knew it! Insane theories one, regular theories a billion!"

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Thats ok; I read "NASA prepares to launch an onion...."

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Mmmmmm ... space onions ... yummy!

        BTW, billion dollar business idea: grow food in Zero G and sell it to the (wealthy) masses at insane prices. Be the first to supply food hunters or (for better margins) top notch chefs directly with such produce. Set up decent marketing and partner with life-style gurus. Profit: guaranteed.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I gather from the article that NASA has chosen 3 CubeSats to ride along, but they're going to carry many more -- I've heard the numbers 11, 14, and maybe even 18 thrown around. They've got three set aside for the winners of the CubeQuest Challenge (, and I'm proud to say that I've participated in one of the top-placed teams...if all goes to plan, we're going to fly to the Moon.

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Saturday November 28, 2015 @08:24PM (#51019817)

    I thought the secondary payload was called "astronauts".

    • by Anonymous Coward

      No, we are squeamish about death and risk, so we will be sending shitty probes only for the next few hundred years.

      • by Irate Engineer ( 2814313 ) on Saturday November 28, 2015 @09:41PM (#51020019)
        We can't even send a monkey anymore, because that would offend PETA. This country lost its collective balls in the 1960s. We can't cope with any risk or danger anymore. This is why we'll never walk on the moon again. This is also why the terrorists are running our lives these days.
        • by thrich81 ( 1357561 ) on Saturday November 28, 2015 @10:30PM (#51020165)

          Factually as related to the crewed space program I don't think your conclusion holds up.
          After the Apollo 1 fatal accident in January 1967, the first crewed flight of Apollo was delayed from its scheduled February 1967 to October 1968, a delay of 20 months.
          After the Challenger fatal accident in January 1986, the next STS launch was delayed until September 1988, a delay of 32 months.
          After the Columbia fatal accident in January 2003, the next STS launch was delayed until July 2005, a delay of 30 months.

          The difference between a 20 month program delay after a fatal accident and a 30 month delay doesn't seem to qualify as "lost its collective balls".

          And as for the manned space program in the 1960's, Alan Shepard aboard Mercury-Redstone 3 would have beaten Yuri Gagarin and been the first human into space if the previous Mercury-Redstone 2 had not exhibited some anomalies (which the chimpanzee aboard survived fine) and influenced NASA to add another test flight before launching Shepard. So NASA was not quite as "ballsy" back then as the legends have it.

          • Yet we abandoned an existing orbital capability in 2011 and put all our shuttles into museums so we could buy rides from the Russians.

            And we're still years away from putting a human in orbit. Hell, they are just talking about an unmanned spin around the moon, in 3 years (maybe).

            We went from JFK's speech to boots on the Moon in less than 10 years. We've now been dicking around with PowerPoints describing Constellation and now Ares/Orion for 10 years already, and we're still many years (and election cycles) a

            • by thrich81 ( 1357561 ) on Sunday November 29, 2015 @12:03AM (#51020419)

              Well, in 1975 we abandoned our existing orbital (and deep space) capability and put all our leftover Apollo/Saturn vehicles in museums. Then we had a six year gap in crewed space capability until STS-1 in 1981. Now, the first crewed missions for the Boeing Atlas/CST-100 vehicle and the SpaceX Falcon 9/Dragon vehicle are both scheduled for 2017, again giving a six year gap in US crewed orbital capability (SLS/Orion is a deep space capability to follow a few years later). But, I don't recall the enormous wailing and hand wringing about the USA losing its abilities in space back during the gap in the 70's like there is today.

              • But, I don't recall the enormous wailing and hand wringing about the USA losing its abilities in space back during the gap in the 70's like there is today.

                That's cause apparently we have no balls now; apparently having them means little to no wailing and hand wringing...

                • That's due to lack of internet connectivity and/or age of most folks here. I remember quite a bit of hand wringing--especially "The Russians/Soviets can keep putting someone in space, why can't we? We can't even keep what we have (Skylab) going!"
              • by khallow ( 566160 )

                But, I don't recall the enormous wailing and hand wringing about the USA losing its abilities in space back during the gap in the 70's like there is today.

                That's because it was forty years ago. Forty years have passed and we going through the same route of failure again. There are two obvious problems that get ignored here. First, where's the money for payloads on the SLS coming from? NASA has had a nearly constant budget for the last 40 years and SLS consumes a sixth of that budget for little gain.

                Second, SLS has terrible economics, particularly low launch frequency and a dependency on the Shuttle supply chain. There's no excuse any more for NASA rolling

                • Your point that the SLS is a bad way to get back into space is a good one and I agree, especially given the low launch frequency. We may never build more than a couple of them, like the Soviet Energia. My optimism going forward is based on the Falcon9/Dragon and (less so) on the Atlas5/CST-100, and maybe that Atlas follow-on which ULA is working on as a competitor to the Falcons. My original discussion point with the OP is that the US has not abandoned crewed space, especially with (at least) three vehicl

            • by Anonymous Coward

              Romantic nostalgia doesn't become an engineer. Analyze the value of putting a test pilot into a tin can. You'll find it's quite close to zero.

          • by khallow ( 566160 )
            Only if you ignore the much more substantial work that had to be done after Apollo 1 (which required not only a change in the life support system from the oxygen rich atmosphere but also a switching over of much of the wiring to less hazardous materials in case of fire). For example, the solution to Challenger was to not expose o-rings to freezing temperatures. They could have launched again in a few months when freezing temperatures were no longer an issue and the pad was ready for launch again. Similarly,
      • by murdocj ( 543661 )

        Really? So we have a choice between trying to keep a human alive for months so they can spend a few weeks on Mars, with all the cost and supply that entails... or we can operate rovers pretty much indefinitely. Which one makes more sense? Which one gets more done? For the cost of ONE manned mission to Mars, we can have a hundred rovers checking the planet out for years.

        • For the price of one manned mission we will see tens of thousands of more engineers and scientists inspired to go into STEM.

          I know 2 people who are going back to college for mechanical engineering so that they can "work at SpaceX someday". And that's suborbital. Anecdote yes, but listen to all of the Anecdotes of people inspired by Apollo.

          • by murdocj ( 543661 )

            And of course, no one is inspired by the idea of building autonomous robots to explore an alien world. That stuff is just mundane.

            • And of course, no one is inspired by the idea of building autonomous robots to explore an alien world. That stuff is just mundane.

              Once the robot is built, your job is done.

              You don't build autonomous robots in order that you may explore an alien world, you build autonomous robots in order that the autonomous robots may explore an alien world.

              Once you launch the things into space, you might as well be watching "Duck Dynasty" or some other form of reality television.

        • If you argue that sending astronauts to Mars is pointless, could you not also argue that all exploration of the planet is close to pointless, when you consider the expense? Yet we still do it (I'm a great believer in space exploration) because who knows what a rover might discover - and who knows what an actual astronaut might discover?
          Sometimes you just do things anyway, even though the spreadsheets disagree. Let's get some people up there!

  • The game brings back memories. What if NASA made a bunch of them, would that make a fleet?

I came, I saw, I deleted all your files.