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back to article NASA panel: Human spaceflight in 'unsustainable trajectory'

NASA's human spaceflight program appears headed on an "unsustainable trajectory" under its current budget, according to a committee charged with reviewing the US space program for the Obama administration. While NASA has big plans to retire the Shuttle Program in 2011, de-orbit the ISS in 2016, and begin a fresh round of lunar …

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Only $3bn?

What's $3bn these days? Surely congress can have a whip-round?

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"unwise to de-orbit"

It'd be a f*cking sin, is what it'd be... anyways I am really glad they laid it all on the table and they didn't mince words. Ares I is called "the shaft" because that's what the taxpayer's getting.

I certainly wouldn't fly on a solid... when they go boom, they do so without any warning whatsoever, and then they make a really big bang. At least liquids give some notice and a little time to push the "oh god" button.

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Maybe give up 2 Raptors, or 1/4th an Aircraft carrier?

Sorry, I nearly choked on my coffee. Did you really say DEORBIT the ISS in 2016? They haven't even bloody finished building it! If they're just going to trash the thing, why not stop supplying it with bits NOW, and save the $3billion? What more is it going to acheive, really, if you're just going to junk the thing?

Better yet, maybe retire 2 or 3 F22 Raptors, or perhaps one aircraft carrier? How many do you need, anyway? Maybe stop financially propping up your golf-buddies too; if they want to play uber-capitalists they shouldn't have to come crawling back to the Gov begging for cash.

Gonk-thing, because that the highest acheivement of the human race. Fuck I hope we die out soon.

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Why?

3bn would cover a lot of oceanographic research that's far more important to us than space research.

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Anonymous Coward

A shame

The one human activity that enlightens the world, fuels the imaginations of our children and keeps

technical science on the advance is now again fair game for the "draconian socialists" The red herring of health care for all is nothing but doom for science in general.

The child foolers are just that... mid terms are coming.

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Human Effort

One thing I don't get is why we can't create a global space agency. We're all going to benefit from space exploration so why don't we all pay are share. Just so people are aware I am Australian, not American. All countries can contribute something, if not money, land for launching areas or material. We should be working together, have one well funded organization, rather than 3 (that I can think of) poorly funded ones. The private sector should be invited to participate as well.

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A few points

Sounds like a pretty honest report.

So with the delays Aries is *just* about ready for flight when its #1 destination is flushed down the toilet.

It could be argued that NASA's claims that commercial heavy lift (Atlas V & Delta IV) were unsafe and could not carry a heavy enoguh payload where primarily to stuff another big bag of cash into big aerospace.

It could also be argued that their keenness to dump the ISS (after 10s of $bn of building and development) is either them angling for a replacement (over another 2-3 decades of re-designs no doubt) or an admission that very littl decent work has been done there. It should be an excellant obervatory site (as Skylab was) but does it mount *any* kind of telescope?

<rant>

If the ISS is so damm expensive put it on the market. Rent it out. Donate it to the UN and run it as an international research centre, perhaps along the lines of CERN. But having spent *billions* of mostly (but not exclusiively) US taxpayers money on it don't just scrap it.

</rant>

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So what they're saying...

...is that for the cost of two weeks' worth of American misadventure in the Middle East, NASA can meet its goals.

Well, then. The solution suggests itself.

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Waste of money

I don't understand this indulgent obsession NASA has with having to put humans in space. It was all very clever in the 60s and a fantastic stunt, but its been done now. What little extra would we gain from sending men to Mars instead of robots? I'm sure robotic systems are more than capable of performing most experiments in space nowadays. Maybe its about time a bit more effort and money was spent sorting out problems closer to home.

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WTF?

Deorbit after all the cash sent to put it up there, Madness.

"de-orbit the Station after 25 years of assembly and only five years of operational life. ..."

what possesses these people to Deorbit this after all the cash sent to put it up there in the first place, Madness.

why distroy something if its working , if the single USSR can keep their kit up there for FAR longer already , then why cant the International cooperation do far better.

as far as we are told, the hard is and was getting the stuff up there in the first place, it makes NO sence to dump it into the sea.

if all else fails it Must be better to try and send it on the slow collision course to the moon, after lockdown, and perhaps stand a good chance to salvage something of the raw materials later at the very least?

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Is it up to NASA to decide to deorbit the ISS?

Typical, Americans need reminding they dont own the ISS, just as they dont own the moon, as China will show them.

What if the Russians, Europeans, Canadians. Japanese and other countries that "I" stands for dont want to deorbit it just yet because that would be the biggest waste of money in the history of money?

Maybe Branson will buy it for a song as a destination for Spaceship 3.

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$3bn too much

just give up. Human space flight my arse. I'm a geek just like the next guy around here but don't we have better things to do than shoot people up in rockets? Oh it worked for JFK (apparently he wasn't shot for his Apollo adventure). Space flight has no future as a "salvation for mankind" other than in an extremely elitist way and I don't want that. Send off the NASA engineers with that last rocket together with the telephone sanitizers &ct.

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Unfortunately

If the human race is to have any long-term prospects, we absolutely must get off this mudball. However, long-term to a politician is around 10 years

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Wow, finally some sense...

I bet they don't listen though...

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WTF?

I honestly don't understand....

why they have to bring the ISS down at all.

Does it cost that much to keep 'afloat'? is it going to degrade and fall apart?

does anyone have an answer?

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It seems unwise?

You're not f**cking joking? The ISS may not be the super-research outpost we all hoped for, but it's already returned a lot of research on the long-term effects of human spaceflight, generated huge amounts of experience in spacecraft design, orbital construction and repair techniques, automated docking systems, and when it finally reaches a state where it can carry a minimally-reasonable crew size to do some real science, they want to can it?

Contracts with SpaceX demonstrate that the ISS is even starting to encourage the private space sector, which is the real hope for manned spaceflight.

For the money they've spent bailing out AIG and car industry we could all go the Moon, Mars and a few NEOs. Christ on a bike

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A second option would be to extend the lifespan of the ISS until 2010...

Surely not?

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@ D@v3

Dave, technically speaking, they don't need to "bring it down". But they do need to "keep it up". ISS (all orbiting things really) are falling towards the earth. It's a very very very gradual spiral, but without occasional boosts, it WILL fall out of the sky.

Generally speaking, you don't want it falling where ever the maths takes it. Could be Australia, could be New York, could be London. So you have a choice: pay to keep it up there, or pay to bring it down in a controlled manner.

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@elephant in the room

"Is it up to NASA to decide to deorbit the ISS?"

No, it happens at the end of the planned mission, but it's NASAs responsibility to actually do it.

If it makes you feel better, the Russians (in a brilliant bit of recycling) are studying the feasibility of taking their bits off and building their own space station out of them. That does pose a problem to NASA though, as the rockets that are capable of doing a de-orbit burn belong to the Russians... I guess they're hoping they don't take them

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@D@v3

Yes, it costs a lot to keep afloat. The orbit degrades due to air friction, even at that altitude, and if left to its' own devices it would impact... somewhere. Now 300 tonnes could well hurt if it impacted in the wrong place (much of it will survive re-entry), so when the day comes (hopefully not in 2015/16), it needs to be de-orbited in a controlled manner. Just like Mir was.

I don't understand why when it needs to be de-orbited that operation costs a lot, can't a Soyuz do the job?

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Anonymous Coward

"... perpetuating the perilous practice of pursing ..."

LOL, try saying that three times quickly! Holy Alliteration, Batman!

Also,

>"25 years of assembly and only five years of operational life"

Only a moron would think it was a good idea to just throw all those valuable resources on the scrapheap.

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Coat

"perpetuating the perilous practice of pursing goals"

I just wanted to say "Nice bit of alliteration there!"

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thank you for your input

It just seems such a shame that after investing so much time, effort and money on building the thing, they're just gonna crash it into the sea.

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@AC - What planet are you from?

if all else fails it Must be better to try and send it on the slow collision course to the moon, after lockdown, and perhaps stand a good chance to salvage something of the raw materials later at the very least? - AC: Wednesday 9th September 2009 07:51 GMT

Are you drunk? The ISS is in a Low Orbit around the Earth not the friggin Moon! do you know how much it would cost to move it up higher? best let it fall to earth. - the ISS does not contain any RAW MATERIALS it is full of highly specialised parts if it were to crash into the moon you would need a pretty serious series of factories to re use the materials, Factories that don't need to be there and would cost a billion times more than firing up a few new parts.

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Black Helicopters

better Idea...

Cant we just blast the ISS further out into space so it doesnt need to maintain orbit, cut the number of crew and then use it as a base for further exploration.?

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Saving the ISS

If you put a wire, kilometers long, standing straight up from the station, the wire will either generate electricity or raise the orbit of the device. You do this scientific pole dance long enough, the station will get out to an orbital distance where it can stay for decades, with no further need to reboost. Take a look at the years of discussion at SelenianBoondocks.com

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The responsibility of national governments

"It seems unwise to de-orbit the Station after 25 years of assembly and only five years of operational life."

I find it amazing that the national governments around the world decide to spend money directly involved in the lives of their individual citizens, when local governments can do that, instead of doing work that local & regional governments can not do - like keep the ISS afloat.

This is a huge waste of national resources by multiple nations... duplicating the work of local and regional governments while simultaneously neglecting something only they can afford to do.

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@matthew maclean

"Cant we just blast the ISS further out into space so it doesnt need to maintain orbit, cut the number of crew and then use it as a base for further exploration.?"

We can't. The ISS is on Low Earth Orbit (LEO) at around 400Km from the Earth. An orbit where things do not tend to start falling toward the Earth is much much farther. For example geosynchronous orbits (orbits where your falling speed and the Earth's movement below you are equal so you seem to be standing still above one point of Earth /TV satellites/) are at around 36000Km.

You do the math how much fuel would be needed to move 300 tons of ISS to get up there.

Not to mention that up there that far the Earth's magnetic field is not protecting the astronauts from solar radiation, etc. like it does at 400Km.

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