President Barack Obama yesterday insisted that US astronauts will reach Mars by the mid-2030s, during a speech in which he stressed "nobody is more committed to manned spaceflight, to human exploration of space than I am". Speaking to a "polite" crowd of around 200 staff and guests at the Kennedy Space Center, Obama dismissed …
Priorities sorted then POTUS?
"The rise in the poverty rate, to the highest level since 1997, portends even larger increases this year, which has registered far higher unemployment than in 2008, economists said.
The bureau said 39.8 million residents last year lived below the poverty line, defined as an income of $22,025 for a family of four. "
Source : http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/11/us/11poverty.html
If you want to look into priorities in the US, then you might start looking at the multi-trillion defence budget.
Yes, it's appalling that so many people live below the poverty line. But the sort of budget we're talking about for space exploration is a drop in the ocean compared to what is required to sort out those sorts of problems.
... your point is what, exactly? Put space exploration on hold until everyone has swimming-pools in their back gardens, maybe?
There are SIGNIFICANTLY better things to be complaining about the priorities in the US. For starters, the obscene amounts of money spent on "defence" (both military and "Homeland Security"), crap healthcare policies (even with the recent laws) that lead directly to poverty for millions, and stupid levels of unionisation. Get a sense of perspective - spending on space exploration has far more benefits than disadvantages.
health care or car payment
Never ceases to amaze me this crap about US healthcare.
If you have a job, you can opt in for very little into a company scheme. Or, you can eat at MacD's each evening.
If you don't have a company (unlikely) then you can choose that nice new Camry for $500pm, or choose a health insurance policy for you and your family for $300pm. Many Americans have got this bit wrong.
Now, if you choose the Camry and MacDonald's combination package, you still get free health care - because you just turn up at A&E and tell them that you can't pay. They are obliged to give you free health care.
And as for US healthcare and UK healthcare, totally different. Had to use both recently and the differences could not be greater. Our doctor couldn't even diagnose the skin complaint, Urticaria.
...US social security is current 106 trillion (yes, that's a T) dollar off goal. Income tax will have to be upped by 81% to cover that. Will the MarsObama Program survive longer than the Mars program by Dubya. Taking bets now.
"nobody is more committed to manned spaceflight, to human exploration of space than I am"
As if he had any say in what happens in 2035.
Big Brother icon, because Big State.
re: Oh, please...
"If you want to look into priorities in the US, then you might start looking at the multi-trillion defence budget."
If you want to look into priorities in the US, then you might start looking at the multi-trillion war budget. ...There, fixed it.
But, seriously... Phil Plait, over at his Bad Astronomy blog, published a chart which displayed the USA's budget categories displayed as various-sized nested rectangles according to how much money they got. Guess which one was largest. Uh huh, that's right. By comparison, the rectangle representing NASA was so small that you had to zoom in to full-res to see it properly.
Health Care in the US
Not wanting to totally change the topic, but I have to respond to the odd views of Justin Clements above. Having lived in both the US and the UK I have a reasonable perspective on things, but also just look at the stats. The US has higher infant mortality and lower life expectancy than the UK, and the total healthcare bill is twice that in the UK. If you can afford healthcare in the US then it can be argued that it is slightly better than the UK (maybe 10% better), but if you can't afford it, the healthcare is significantly worse than the UK. Also, using A&E instead of a local doctor is MUCH more expensive, and is one of the reasons that the US spends over twice as much per capita (and twice as much as a percentage of GDP) than the UK on its healthcare.
Bad speech. Good policy move.
Obama's speech was very poorly delivered. Several jokes tanked and he seemed to stumble quite a lot. Lack of preparation perhaps? Anyway, scrapping Ares I and Ares V is a good move. Jupiter Direct is allegedly cheaper, safer and provides just as much heavy lift capabilitiy. And you can put an Orion capsule on top if you wish. Elon Musk has every right to be happy as Falcon 9 is emerging as the front runner for transport to LEO. And it's human - rated.
The beer is for the Apollo 13 crew.
Should try making it to the moon again/for the first time, depending on what you believe really happened.
Haven't been there for over 30 years (last landing was 1972 google tells me?)....So surely there may be more to discover with over 30 years of tech advances.
Seems odd nobody has been for so long as you'd think it would be relatively easy (albeit expensive) now that we are in 2010.
Sorry, Mr. Pres - you're not allowed to go there...
We "haven't" been back to the moon officially since 1972, because any "civilian" mission could accidentally discover the permanent manned bases established there in the 80's.
Can't let the cat out of the bag, can we?
I love this title, so jovial. More joviality please, especially on Friday.
." So we'll start - we'll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history"
Isn't the asteroid belt further away than Mars? Making the effort of landing on a relatively small relatively fast moving piece of rock, even larger than landing on the bigger slower moving piece of rock?
Or am I missing something?
Re Or am I missing something?
The target will be one of the Near Earth Objects, close enough to our orbit to pose a potential risk to us sometime.
There was even a proposal to use an Ares I for such a mission.
Yes and No.
The Asteroid Belt is indeed beyond Mars, but there are plenty of asteroids that pass closer to Earth than Mars ever does. IIRC, many of these are large enough to land something (maybe even people) on.
The only thing I wonder about is that asteroids (even ones big enough to land on) typically have ultra-low gravity, enough that an astronaut could literally jump himself into orbit around it.
@gordon is not a moron
You're forgetting the ones which periodically come much closer into the Earth (unsurprisingly called Near Earth Objects).
Depending on which ones you dock with ("landing" is a bit overblow for something with a surface gravity 100x or less than earth) you might get minerals or more volatile stuff. Possibly the kind of thing you would need to top up a 1st generation closed cycle life support system.
Which *is* the sort of tech we will need *if* we want to be serious about long duration space voyages.
"The only thing I wonder about is that asteroids (even ones big enough to land on) typically have ultra-low gravity, enough that an astronaut could literally jump himself into orbit around it."
Yeah, I was thinking about that, too; that's why the Eros (?) orbital probe mission about eight or ten years ago, when targeted to impact the asteroid's surface, didn't so much impact the asteroid as much as bump into it (and, sadly, touched down in an orientation that didn't allow its antenna to transmit images from the surface).
I suspect that any manned mission to an asteroid won't be so much landing on it as docking with it, and any EVA will be done more in the manner of mountain-climbing than walking in a normal fashion.
Oh, and am I the only one here who gets a bit of a laugh out of the idea of an astronaut standing on the surface of an asteroid accidentally launching himself into orbit if he jumps too hard?
All that effort to find ice on the moon ...
... and now no plan to use it.
without space travel, we (as a species) have essentially given up. we've accepted our fate as a planetbound creature, that will die out and be forgotten. Obviously Obama can't come out and say it, but the expansion into space of mankind as a species is worth any cost, imo. in the last 30 years, we've progressed in leaps and bounds in other areas, but in the field of space travel we've regressed - attempting to reverse that trend is one of the best things i've seen from the US in years, quite honestly.
(of course, i'm someone that thinks project Orion should never have been cancelled, so its possible not many would agree with me.)
Re : sounds good
Does anyone really think we're ever going to travel significantly outside the Solar system?
Four years at least to the nearest star - even allowing for relativistic effects shortening the time for the traveler the energy involved is enormous. The galactic center is 25000 light years away!
Warp drive, hyperspace jumps, wormhole travel - nice in fiction
Re: sounds good
So Obama says we'll be going to mars in 20 years? nice plan, he will be tucked up in bed with his cocoa by then, he can plan and promise what he likes, he'll never need to deliver.
>>the expansion into space of mankind as a species is worth any cost, imo
Cock, seriously, you cock, where are we going to go? we have never found anywhere else to live, the closest (other) star is 4.2 light years away, the closest earthlike planet found so far is over 20 light years away, mars is about 0.00000075 light years away (25 million times closer), so lets pretend we would take three months to get to mars (nothing we have is that fast yet) to go 20 light years at the same speed would take six million years, you probably want to take a book to read.
A truism is that science fiction often becomes science fact, but talk about running before we can walk, we're not even out o fthe womb. Lets solve food and energy production on earth first, if we want to find or make biospheres off this perfectly good one that we're standing on then we need to solve that first really.
He's right, though.
We need to go into space, for resources and lebensraum. If we never leave the Earth, we are doomed as a species. Sure, we're not going to be traveling to any other star any time soon, but we need to get off this rock. We need to learn how to live in space, build habitats, dig them into asteroids, colonise Mars, the lot. Until we do, all our eggs are in one basket and a sufficiently large disaster will mean no more humans. Seen any dinosaurs around lately?
Food production is not a problem, we already produce far more food than is needed by the world's population. Hell, the US pays farmers to not grow food! The problem is working out a way to share it fairly. Energy production is further behind, but we are working on that and could be putting a lot more work into it if we weren't pissing away money on stupid shit, like pulling banks out of the hole they dug for themselves or fighting a war that should never have been started.
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
Re : He's right, though
Well I'm sure we're going to be able ship enough off the planet to make a difference!
The energy/materials involved would be gigantic assuming a significant number would WANT to live anywhere where you can't go outside without a space suit, get hit by micrometeorites, and live an incredibly artificial lifestyle - if you can call it living. Shipping a few off the planet is NOT going to ensure we survive as a species
It's not going to happen except for a few hardy explorers.
We're all going to have to learn to make Planet Earth work or die-out in the attempt.
"Four years at least to the nearest star"
No. According to this calculator
at 99% light speed you time sense would slow down to roughly 14% of real time. The journey would take roughly 6 months ships time.
The question is if you did would anyone you left behind still be there when you came back.
Enough to make a difference
Sure it will! All we really need to have off-planet is a few thousand individuals to form a minimum viable population. With a bit of research and investment we'll easily be able to launch a lot more than that. Natural human urges will take care of the rest. It probably wouldn't be that many generations before there would be more space-born than Earth-born.
As for the "lifestyle" you describe - again, with research and investment it can be a lot more pleasant than that. And even if it wasn't, I'm still happy to put my hand up right now if they'd take me and I don't think it'll be hard to find enough volunteers. The biggest hurdle is simply the money which, as I said, we're currently wasting in huge amounts on pointless crap.
The sooner we start, the sooner we can make it comfortable, safe, and routine.
Also, AC, I do want to say I agree with you whole-heartedly that we need to learn how make society work right here on Earth too. That's not in doubt. In fact, spin-off from the research required to begin to make life viable in space will help vastly in that regard. Energy research and resource recycling (including gases, biowaste and even "waste" energy) will be particularly important in this regard, as will the psychological and sociological work required to let large numbers of humans live in constructed environments without killing each other.
I want to see, eventually, multiple population centres of humans in this solar system, all at peace with one another and working together for the good of our species. I just don't want to see us remaining restricted to only the one world, and the longer it takes us to begin this kind of work the less likely it is that we'll survive that long.
Re : AC@14:29
That was covered by the poster. " even allowing for relativistic effects shortening the time for the traveler the energy involved is enormous."
A more realistic calculation is traveling at ~10% light speed when it would take ~40 years but allowing for acceleration/deceleration it would take much longer to travel and arrive at the nearest star.
The energy to drive acceleration to 99% c would truly enormous due to the relativistic effects - a good example is the kinetic energy of the fraction of a mole of protons in the LHC having the energy of an aircraft carrier at 12 knots or whatever.
It has been calculated that at least 100 times the total energy output of the entire world would be required for the voyage (to Alpha Centauri) even at modest fractions of c
Given that the closest star is a mere 4 light years away and assuming you have sufficient fuel and thrust to reach 99% of light speed, figure maybe six months or a year for the mission itself, that's an 8 or 9 year round trip earth relative time. So they'd age a year or two, we'd age eight, everyone would still be here.
It's when you're off flying to Lave or Achenar that you have to worry about whether anyone will still be around when you get back.
<-- Uhm... yeah, the one with the NERD FAIL tag on the back thanks.
Re : 99% ofl ight speed
Suggest you find a calculator that gives the energy required for 99% light speed.
I calculate the energy ( expressed as electric power at 100% efficiency) to get 1 tonne to 99% light speed at ~150 million million kWh - that's quite an electric bill!
travelling outside the solar system
Of course we will. It seems hard/impossible for us now but then most things we have already achieved would seem like magic to someone living 300 years ago. Plus we think our science has disproved faster than light travel but then today's science will seem like the mumblings of a shamen to future generations. Humans have always suffered ego-centrism with regards to their own knowledge. Every generation laughs at the era before them and thinks that 'this time' we know what we talking about.
Re : travelling outside the solar system
So your 'answer' is that everything we can possibly imagine is going to be feasible.
Trouble is we've found that certain principles e.g thermodynamics are always obeyed. These are always going to be a limit.
Re: The journey would take roughly 6 months ships time.
John, even if we could travel at 99% of light speed (and do it alive, see other reg articles), it would be an 8 year round trip, communications would be impossible as you'd be going at 99% the speed of the communication one question/answer pair would be all you get, it would be an 8 year round trip, to find what? the next closest star to us doesn't have anything livable around it, so ramp it up to something earth like, 20 light years (Gliese 581c) and you're talking a 40 year round trip, 2.5 years onboard.
Lets face it, if you want to live off the planet you must build a self sustaining biosphere, one that not only recycles all oxygen, hydrogen and carbon but has all the other minerals we need, not just for a few days, weeks, years, decades but forever, we'll need a vegitarian diet as keeping enough biodiversity in humans will be hard enough let alone animals as well, the sheer logistics of trying to keep "the human race" alive off planet, one mutant virus will kill everything as you wouldn't be able to get away, so you'd be needing multiple biodiverse colonies that you could travel between, imagine trying to find the resources (in space) to build something as complex as a spacecraft, from scratch, all the mining, processing, building, engineering, just look at the number of NASA employees and the ease we can dig things out of the ground and transport it on earth, you'd need to do that in space!
But people will believe what they want to believe, some people believe that we are the products of two people and their incestous children (followed by Noah and his similar incestous family), which is a little mental.
Think about it, all the billions spent so far, and the best non orbital human archievement was putting 12 men on the moon, for at most just over 3 days, and how have we benefited?
This is all science fiction, will remain so long after my bones have turned to dust, we should look at energy production, efficient, environmentally sound food production, birth control and world peace, if we ever do invent the technnology to live off planet then we'll need these things first and foremost (they may come in handy for earth, right now), what we don't need is a mars mission.
>>We need to go into space, for resources and lebensraum
Spiritual and racial nationalist expansion? wasn't it also the ideology behind Hitler's Operation Barbarossa? what a nasty little racist you are.
>>Seen any dinosaurs around lately?
Birds? Crocodlles? it's called evolution my friend, building multiple submerged, earhquake proof, nuclear powered biospeheres on earth is more practical would allow us to survive pretty much anything, we'd get a damn sight more people safe on earth than off (even hollywood bows to this in the 2012 film), and if you're suggesting something big enough to destroy the earth rather than just block the sun out then you'd need to be out of the solar system too (that is not going to happen, unless we discover a stargate!).
>>Food production is not a problem
Hahahahahahahahaha! food production today is not a problem for those that have it? OK, think water, think nitrates if you genuninly think that "we already produce far more food than is needed by the world's population" is all there is to it, think again, think sustainability.
>>we weren't pissing away money on stupid shit, like pulling banks out of the hole they dug for themselves
"The Banks"? it's your fault (and mine) for wanting something we don't have, that's a mortgage and an above avergage salary, "The Banks" are symptoms of society, the democratic pyramind sale of capitalism, the banks HAVE to crash occasionally because those that use banks greed them into it, the people that run banks do what the public need, take some responsibility for yourself man, (more) ethically sound banks (the the COOP in the UK) aren't popular because they don't make as much money and cost you a bit more (ethics aren't cheap).
>>fighting a war that should never have been started.
The US needs to maintain the oil supply, it's overdrawn and bancrupt, it had no choice, it had to start the war, "bringing democracy to the middle east" is a big fat lie, they had democracy until a UK/US funded coup ended it in the 50's.
I offer you a big fat FAIL, you can accept (at least some of) the things I have said have a valid basis and try to think for yourself (in which case I'll take the FAIL back) or you can accept the FAIL written on your forehead (backwards, 'coz you wrote it in a mirror).
re: sounds good
"...where are we going to go? we have never found anywhere else to live, the closest (other) star is 4.2 light years away, the closest earthlike planet found so far is over 20 light years away, mars is about 0.00000075 light years away (25 million times closer), so lets pretend we would take three months to get to mars (nothing we have is that fast yet) to go 20 light years at the same speed would take six million years, you probably want to take a book to read..."
One word: terraforming.
POTUS got bit, spins media types
POTUS hates the space program because it detracts from his personal mission of redistributing wealth. Just like Libs really hated the space program back in the 60's but had to be cautious about criticizing it because Kennedy proposed it. This is just spin to kill the American space program.
Oddly enough, I actually prefer the concept of using more private industry for space over the continuation of government only programs. But he provided no road map. And while you can debate the relative merits of near-earth vs. geosynchronous construction stations vs Moon landings/construction site work, you need some platform near the Earth to build the Mars rocket. Personally I'd probably opt for near earth with some manned missions to the moon launching from there (testing of Mars equipment processes plus science research on the moon), but cases can be made for the others as well. That POTUS made none of these cases is the biggest indicator his speech is smoke and mirrors intended to fool the rubes.
Poverty, Defence, Space
TimNevins - 39.8 million residents last year lived below the poverty line
The high cost of energy is killing the poor. Allow the market to drill everyhere and drill now - this is the only short term solution to bring down the cost of energy. Government to tax after (on low cost energy) and shift funding to alternative energy could start a transistion. POTUS can't figure out that there is no capital to make jobs for the poor or for investment in alternative energy when capital is traveling out of the United States. Obama is a stupid and impotent potus.
Martin - look into priorities in the US, then you might start looking at the multi-trillion defence budget.
If defence budget just evaporates, Obama is still running a budget defecit. Defence is the only explicit obligation of the United States federal government - yet Obama borrows from China for voter bribing programs while helping to keep them uneployed??? His wife was proud of the US for the first time when her husband was getting elected. Obama know what he is doing, Communist ACORNy Obama is driving the US to self destruction with the help of Communist China, the same way the Communists drove the USSR dissolution. Obama is just a puppet.
Daniel Harris 1 - Should try making it to the moon again
That would make sense. Moon, Mars, Asteroids. Close & Big with gravity first, small and without gravity later. If 50 year old technology could make it to the moon, there is no reason why we have to wait 2 more decades to get back. No one ever accused US potus Obama of making sense.
The Federal Government of the United States should concentrate on what the private sector can not do (national defence, space travel) and leave the rest of the world wide economy (energy, jobs) alone. All the dumb ACORNy US voters do was screw up the global economy, when the election of a Communist/Fasist to the POTUS was clear.
You do remember...
... that the economy was wrecked on Bush's watch, thanks largely to policies introduced by Clinton and reinforced by Bush that forced Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lend money to people who couldn't pay it back.
By the way, small and without gravity is largely easier than large and with it. It takes an enormous amount of fuel to escape the gravity well of something like the Earth or Mars. Taking all that fuel to Mars and bringing it back will be extremely difficult, doing a similar thing on an object with a tiny gravity well is much easier - even if it is harder to target that object because it is moving quickly.
Baby Steps along the Total Information Awareness Freeway.
Do you not realise that Mars Exploration is an Advanced Intelligence Allegory. ....... for Virtual Machinery Turing Trips ....... delivering ESPecial Commanding Control Programs and Astute Remote Power Protocols?
Sign on for that Expeditionary Journey and you are automatically a Leading Force Earth SourcedD.
Space is for robots now.
Having said that, there are asteroids near to Earth. Occasionally one even hits us.
What we found on the Moon is that it is made of Earth-rock, supporting a theory that its origin is from a planet about the size of Mars, named Theia for mythological reasons, colliding with let's say Earth 1.0, and bouncing a load of material up into space where it coalesced into a particularly large Moon. Meanwhile Earth 1.1 is a sort of compound of Earth 1.0 plus Theia. Theia may have originated as a Trojan companion sharing Earth's orbit, which apparently is a stable arrangement unless the smaller companion gets to be more than 10 per cent the mass of the larger, then watch out.
This implies that most of what you find on the Moon you can find on the Earth anyway, except maybe for oher space stuff that hit the Moon later and grot preserved, whereas stuff that hits the Earth gets cooked in the atmosphere and then probably dissolves next time it rains, if it doesn't just land in the sea. However, stuff that hits the Moon usually hits hard enough all at once to be disintegrated anyway. And there's like nothing there that we can actually use.
So, we could send some more robots to the moon, but otherwise, meh.
"And I expect to be around to see it."
Yes, but by then it won't be him paying for it.
Which is the whole point. The only way this is going to mean anything is if someone shoots him. That seems to be the only way for a US President to oblige his successors to fund his grandiose project visions.
re: "And I expect to be around to see it"
"...The only way this is going to mean anything is if someone shoots him. That seems to be the only way for a US President to oblige his successors to fund his grandiose project visions..."
Nahh, still wouldn't happen. From all accounts, the speech sucked, not exactly your Rice University "We Choose To Go To The Moon" speech (and I'm just barely old enough to remember that one).
Not that I'm not behind the idea of shooting politicians, mind you.
Manned space exploration is a hoax and POTUS knows it. He knuckled to the political winds and a bunch of aging astronauts, one of whom told me "they never gave a parade for a robot". The spectacular success of Spirit and Opportunity tell us most of what we need to know about Mars including that there is no reason to pay for and risk humans to go there and see the same thing. Short of repealing the laws of physics we are not going to leave our solar system, so face it and get on with unmanned probe exploration. For that matter you can stop all the junk science on the ISS and start using it for the only commercially viable purpose, a tourist destination for the ultrarich.
Many ulterior agendas here...
Unless someone wants to argue that the species needs to get back to the Moon, then we have no arguments there. It is nonsensical to build Moon bases to stage towards Mars. Space stations make far more sense. I can't tell if the Cognoscenti believe that we should use an asteroid instead of a space station, though.
Interplanetary rockets are clearly a decade away from any 'build phase'. I agree that spending NASA's scarce resources on heavy lift with current technology is unwise. Sorry about the job-losses, though.
Privatizing LEO space lifts is an interesting gamble. Since it is the path, let the competition begin!
3 is plenty
Why were they trying to jam 5 astronauts into a moon capsule? Every kilo makes a difference. If rocket engines have gotten only 30% more efficient then 30% more weight should only be added.
Also they should concentrate on making everything modular easy to assemble in orbit. Let the Astronauts travel in comfort.
I think the biggest goddamn' mistake the previous NASA Administrator made was describing the Orion crew module as "Apollo on steroids", that friggin' idiot.
The only thing Apollo-like about the Orion capsule was its shape, a quite common shape used before for unmanned spacecraft, a simple, aerodynamically-efficient shape suited to both acceleration out of the atmosphere and to atmospheric re-entry. Everything else about it was brand-new, and it was designed to fit a crew of five quite comfortably as it would've been much larger than the old Apollo CM.
No one cares more about the space program than me
What a blow hard.
Signed - me. a disgruntled US citizen.
Plenty of unknown right here
I'm thinking you Brits have the right idea with the Cayman Trough expedition. Sure the whole "to the stars" rhetoric sounds fanciful and dreamy but on the practical scale, it's doubtful we'll ever become some other planets "E.T." Although I'm sure it will make a nice movie one day.
Who the hell is he kidding?
Before yesterday's "big" announcement we heard that Florida stood to lose 9000 jobs. Now Obama comes in trumpeting that he's creating 2500 jobs.
Isn't that still a net loss of 6500 jobs?
Approaches of dramatic overachievement, in light of the brutal necessities of long-duration space exploration, will probably *not* go well in hand, together. I mean, shall we have Rosanne Barr design us a proper human-payload-carrying Martian LEM then?
While I agree that we have to leave earth
Chemical rockets simply aren't going to get it done. Until we have a cheap way to get to low earth orbit, our "colonists" into space would find themselves severely outnumbered and in danger of getthing their butts kicked by the passengers and crew of the 17th century Mayflower that landed the Puritan pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts.
Thats not a practical way off the planet, that is a lifeboat.
When you know 6500@$125000 PA* minimum
You know why getting 1Kg to LEO costs so damm much.
In contrast it takes *roughly* 450 staff to get an airliner ready for its next flight.
Operating cost for an airliner is roughly 3x the cost of fuel. For the shuttle that is roughly $14m.
It's been known for *decades* the #1 cost of space flight is this "Standing army."
They got to go.