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back to article NASA issues Constellation/Ares enviro-impact estimate

Ares 1 - the Shuttle replacement Ares 1 - the Shuttle replacement NASA's plans for the system which will replace the Space Shuttle have continued to move forward. Last week, the space agency inked a deal for solid-fuelled test rockets. Now it has issued an assessment of the environmental impact which will result from the …

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But...

When did NASA try and put a Reliant Robin in space! Thats true British spacefaring at its best.

Mars? pfft no lager there. The Moon? no chance as finding a good cuppa theres a real pain.

We could for the cost the yanks are blowing on this have a huge fleet of Robins being launched from somewhere uninhabited like Scotland or Wales and really show the world the marvels of British engineering! Talking of which? anyone seen where that duct tape went?

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Money

Sure, NASA should produce truly revolutionary designs. I, too, was initially dissapointed by the appearance of Constellation.

But then, they'd need lots more money from Congress than they are getting now. Lots more. If the money from Bush's Mesopotanian (mis)Adventure had been plowed into NASA, we'd probably be on the verge of actually *profitting* from space travel.

Alas, that's never going to happen.

As for cost - The cost of launching the Shuttle was ridiculous. Each "space truck" had to be extensively (and expensively) refurbished after every launch. More fuel was needed per launch, because the re-useable Shuttle massed vastly more than an equivalent disposable capsule would. And it was further limited by this extra weight in that it couldn't reach much higher than Low Earth Orbit.

Our materials science and engineering skills just aren't up to producing vehicles that can survive the extreme stresses of a space launch, and still be light, reliable and durable.

Oh, I'm already talking about the Shuttle in past tense, which is jumping the gun a bit. But not by that much...

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Anonymous Coward

Hydrogen "clean"?

So pure hydrogen fuel puts out only water vapor as exhaust? The last time I checked, water vapor was the number one greenhouse gas.

That's it. All of these hippies praying for a hydrogen economy are praying for our planet's destruction!

Personally, I say bring back the NERVA rocket. It just puts out ionized hydrogen as an exhaust.

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What would Neil Armstrong say...

"It's one small backwards step for man, one giant retrograde leap for mankind!"

Coat... Getting...

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NASAW Funding

Don't worry boys; I'll help you with the funding bit...

Hey NSA! I heard from a friend of a friend that there's WMDs on the Moon, and Bin Liner's hiding in the Pyramid on Mars! Yee-haw! Gettim!

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Don't mock disposable boosters.

Technologically it may be a backwards step, but I can’t help thinking that if NASA had stuck with the Saturn launch systems and gradually upgraded them over time, they’d have gotten a lot more done over the past thirty years. Throwing boosters away every flight makes perfect economic sense if mass-production allows you to bring down their cost. It's certainly worked for the Russians.

Have a flick through “Voyage” by Stephen Baxter. It’s an interesting “what if” that posits what things would have been like if the shuttle had never been developed.

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Anonymous Coward

Reuseable stages

I'm no rocket engineer so I don't know if this is possible, but why not be a bit creative with staged boosters. The first stage could be ejected and recovered before it's past the point of no return leading to a second stage to finish the boost to near orbit (which is the wasted bit, left to burn up as it drops back to earth) . The last stage, once used to get to higher orbit leaves a nice bit of hardware that, if designed with reuse in mind could be for some other propose, much like the uses that were planned for the empty fuel tank on the shuttle.

Recycling booster parts doesn't mean they have to be used as boosters again.

The first stage is bound to have some useful materials that can be recovered, even if it can not be reconditioned and used as a booster again.

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