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Moon Space

United Launch Alliance Plans For 1,000 People Working In Space By 2045 ( 135

What if you could produce rocket fuel in outer space -- making it 83% cheaper? One company sees this as the basis a self-sustaining "space economy" based on refueling Earth-orbiting spaceships. Slashdot reader MarkWhittington writes: Jeff Bezos, of both Amazon and Blue Origin, may ruminate about moving a lot of industry off the planet, but the United Launch Alliance, that joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, has a concrete plan to do so. ULA is working on an idea to have 1,000 people operating in Earth-moon space by 2045, less than 30 years away...
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United Launch Alliance Plans For 1,000 People Working In Space By 2045

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    What are people actually going to do a a job in space, at what point will it be cheeping to sustain a human in space than a robot, rocket fuel for example, why would they need people in space doing that manually.

    • at what point will it be cheeping to sustain a human in space than a robot

      Probably never, if only because nobody will weep for a dead robot. But that doesn't matter, because the real motive to put people into space is that we're living beings and life expands to fill all available habitats. "Space jobs" is simply a disguise to get that primal urge past capitalist bean counting.

      • Speak for yourself. Spirit and Opportunity will remain forever in my heart. ;_;
      • Yup it's capitalist bean counting that's the problem.

        Unlike socialist bean counting, or communist bean counting or whatever-utopia-ist bean counting.
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )


  • Too Late :-( (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cusco ( 717999 ) <> on Monday July 04, 2016 @04:21AM (#52441759)

    This should have been happening in the 1980s and '90s, except that Congress decided that killing brown people was more profitable for their true constituents in the MIC. In the 1970s I (and almost everyone else) assumed that we would have people living and working in space within the next decade. Now forty years later we still only have a (comparatively) small lab in LEO. By the time Bezos and the few other visionaries finally get their operations under way I'll be far too old to go.

    If I ever spend any time in California I'll make it a point to go to the grave sites of Nixon and Reagan and piss all over them

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Nah, we got loads a guys in space now, it's just all 100% classified.

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      Actually you should seek out Kennedy and Johnson. They got the US into Vietnam and before anyone posts how Kennedy would have gotten us out of Vietnam the facts are that at no time during the Kennedy administration did the number of US military in Vietnam go down. Nixon got the US out of Vietnam and as far as I know Reagan Except for some small actions did not start a war killing brown people as you put it. []

      If you take a look yes Nixon and congress made massive cuts after Apo

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        I think it was more than just the economic drag caused by the war in Vietnam, you can also blame stagflation, the oil crisis, and so on.

        But taking the parent poster at face value and assuming that military spending was part of a zero-sum spending paradigm where war was more profitable than space, I ask why?

        A large part of the space program overlaps with both military branches (mostly the Air Force) and military contractors (the aerospace industry), so buying fighters or expanding space operations largely pr

        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

          "College kids were out protesting the war in Vietnam, not buggy rides on the moon."
          College kids don't vote that much. It is not opposition that kills programs it is lack of support. When people started to complain that their soaps where being interrupted by coverage of moon landings it was all over. The issue was spending in general between the great society and Vietnam spending was out of control. Most people today don't really know history all that well but believe it or not Kennedy ran under the Missile

      • by cusco ( 717999 )

        Nixon and Reagan still had reasonable amounts of money budgeted for space because they inherited the programs from their predecessors. Both slashed spending as much as they could get away with in order to funnel money to the Pentagon.

        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

          Both had more than Obama has now.

          • by cusco ( 717999 )

            Actually, no. Not even when adjusted for inflation. Nixon inherited Apollo, which had lost more than half its budget by the time he was booted out of office, and never has risen above 1% of the Federal budget since. Democrats re-inserted spending on programs over Ronnie Raygun's objections, but the Pentagon had gotten it's claws sunk well into NASA's budgetary belly and it ended up footing the bill for a large chunk of his Star Wars boondoggle. Military contractors such as Boeing (where my roommate work

          • by cusco ( 717999 )

            Just another note:

            Here's a simple example of how much money the MIC has to waste: NASA recently acquired two cast-off satellites from the National Reconnaissance Office, one of the more obscure alphabet-soup intel agencies, for free. They are both Hubble-class instruments that have been stored in a nitrogen-filled warehouse for most of a decade simply as spares for an unknown number of spacecraft that they have in orbit. The NRO is foisting them off on NASA because they're obsolete and have been replaced wi

    • by phayes ( 202222 )

      Ever stopped to think what might have happened if Johnson had pushed harder into space exploration instead of being the president who massively committed the USA to Vietnam? Nah, I suppose not. You'd have to put some blame on a democrat president and you only grind your axe for republican presidents.

      • You need to read up on some history of the American space program. If it wasn't for Johnson and Kennedy then there wouldn't be an American civilian space program. Eisenhower wasn't interested and it was his administration which told the Army group under von Braun to NOT launch an orbital satellite in 1956 two years before the Russians eventually did. When Kennedy wanted to come up with something big in space he had Johnson check on the possibilities for him, from which came Project Apollo. Of all the pr

        • by phayes ( 202222 )

          Go tell your grandmother how to suck an egg, junior. I was a little young for sputnik but fell in love with space following Gemini and watched Armstrong as he first walked on the moon.

          None of what you say invalidates my point: Johnson could have invested in space exploration but instead vastly augmented our presence and spending in 'Nam. Thus only the nearsighted can claim that Rs are the reason we aren't further along in space. The near constant "why spend on space when X needs to be solved here first" tha

    • This should have been happening in the 1980s and '90s

      I wonder how things would have turned out in this regard to space exploration had the Soviet Union not collapsed because they had a space station up in LEO in 1971; a full 27 years before the ISS, and had the famous Mir space station up in LEO by 1986.

      • by cusco ( 717999 )

        I remember being outraged when Congress and the Pentagon tried to tell NASA that the Soviets/Russians could not be involved in the planning, much less operation, of the ISS. The only country which has had a space station in orbit for a decade, and you don't think they have anything to bring to the table? Bunch of frelling generals and lawyers trying to tell engineers how to design a space program, the same methodology that made the Space Shuttle the half-assed compromise it ended up being.

        I was so disappo

    • In the 1970s I (and almost everyone else) assumed that we would have people living and working in space within the next decade.

      In the 1970's I thought that within the next decade I'd be insanely rich and have a stable of lovely and barely legal blondes at my beck and call. The difference between me and you is that I knew it was a fantasy and eventually I grew up and ceased to hold the world at fault for failing to deliver on my fantasies.

  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Monday July 04, 2016 @05:00AM (#52441849)
    why not have the robots make it?
    • by Tyr07 ( 2300912 )

      Part of the reason is handling abstract solution to problems. Once all the original construction issues are hashed out, the problems they run into figured out by humans, eventually with that expertise you could have robotics develop expanding facilities or new ones, but for the first ones being built having humans performing the work and analyzing the situation would probably work out better. Robots are currently great if we know all the variables and potential issues from the start to design them with that

      • Humans contribution can be all done remotely. No need to send someone on site for this.
        • Maybe the idea is to do whatever turns out to be more practical, with the proviso that either option requires largely the same infrastructure? Whether you ultimately decide to send humans or robots can be decided later.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Not when the round trip latency is measured in minutes to hours.

          Ever wonder why the Mars rovers cover so little ground? latency. It takes about 5 minutes for a signal to reach earth - and another 5 minutes for the response. And that is the BEST you can get. When Mars is opposite earth you have to wait days (the sun is in the way). After that, it can take an hour or more (one way).

          Having people on site reduces the latency to seconds or less.

          • We are talking about the Moon here. And even with the latency, the instructions don't need to be at the lower level steering the driving wheel or this kind of stuff. It can just be at the planning level. That's what is done by most probes. They even manage themselves the available energy and shutdown systems when they are not required and wake up them when they are needed without remote indication. Planning softwares are more sophisticated than you believe. By human contribution, I didn't mean remote contro
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Would be so awesome, whenever you want to take a break you just can take a floating nap... no more sleeping on desk and keyboards!

  • The vast majority of launch cargo ends up in either geostationary or low earth orbit. LEO launches are basically done by the time you could refuel them, so no joy there.

    You might launch something into LEO, dock with a refueling craft, and then boost into geostationary orbit with your new fuel (that's suggested in the article). But now there are a lot more things that can go wrong, and you haven't really saved all that much money. If you build a rocket with enough fuel you don't need dock with anything

    • by Megane ( 129182 )

      Indeed, the only real reason to do LEO refueling is for missions beyond GEO (moon, L4/L5, asteroids, Mars), where you can't just use a bigger dumb booster. GEO requires a really big rocket for a really big satellite, but still well within the capability of current and upcoming heavy launchers. You could potentially refuel existing satellites to give them more station-keeping lifetime, but they won't exactly have a standard fueling port, arbitrarily changing orbits is hard and can use as much fuel as launch

    • For one thing, there's a vicious circle of expensive payloads driving expensive launchers driving expensive payloads. One of the reasons why ULA's current vehicles have been so expensive (besides the monopoly) is the fact that the average value of their payload is somewhere in the region of $500M-$600M. This means that any failure is too expensive, so the costs of launches are driven further upwards by extra precautions. And because the launchers are now expensive, payloads become even more expensive simply

  • Huh. "The joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing." So, kind of a... united aerospace coproration?
  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Monday July 04, 2016 @07:06AM (#52442075)
    So the plan is to use the extremely scarce water on the Moon to make hydrogen for rocket fuel. Since this is a "better" choice than making rocket fuel on Earth, which is two-thirds water?

    This sounds like a very short-sighted proposition as it consumes a resource that could be put to far better use for lunar colonisation.

    It also puts the nascent LEO -> "out there" transportation business at the financial mercy of whoever owns and controls the Moon-sourced fuel supply.

    • by Ihlosi ( 895663 )
      Since this is a "better" choice than making rocket fuel on Earth, which is two-thirds water?

      Yes, since Earth's hydrogen is sitting in a 1g gravity well, while the moon's hydrogen is sitting in a 0.17g gravity well.

    • by Megane ( 129182 )
      Not to mention that, while a lot shallower, the moon is still a gravity well. Icy asteroids might be a much better source.
    • This sounds like a very short-sighted proposition as it consumes a resource that could be put to far better use for lunar colonisation.

      They'll figure that out once they run out.

  • What if you could produce rocket fuel in outer space -- making it 83% cheaper?

    Hey ULA, here's a unique idea for you, think how cheap space would be if you could reuse your rocket bits instead of burning them up!

    Seriously, ULA is a big, overgrown fat, lazy organization....its days are numbered, trying to make headlines this way is a sign of its failure

    They need to catch up with the competition before anyone will take their ideas seriously.

    • Well, that's their plan - just not for the first stage. Frankly, I don't undestand why Boeing et al. can't work together with ULA on something like a large version of the XS-1. That would solve their first stage problems for good.
  • This is the ULA trying to pretend they can be visionaries like Elon Musk too. The difference is that Elon actually works towards their goals, ULA is just rehashing fantasy that people have dreamed of ever since the 60s. Nobody is seriously working on asteroid mining technology, at best we have a few sample return missions that don't do refinement, don't do anything at scale and don't plan to return it in any way that would be commercially viable. In short it's a science mission and not a prelude to anything

  • there are some questions that should not be put in your resume, like:

    - Is telecommuting feasible ?
    - Can I keep the window of my office wide open ?

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"