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back to article NASA rules out leading new human lunar expedition

NASA isn't interested in leading any new human expeditions to the Moon - but the space agency may help other nations put boots on Luna under the right circumstances. The news of the NASA's, and therefore the USA's, disinterest in new human-crewed Lunar expeditions comes from spacepolitics.com, whose staff last week reported on …

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Anonymous Coward

its almost as if they dont know how to get a man there......

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Headmaster

... or woman!

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Meh

Fear of flying?

Been there, done that, got the moon rocks and T-shirt; now we're scared we couldn't pull it off again.

"Better to say nothing and appear a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."

At least if we fail at Mars there's no precedent.

Though I suggest that we go back to LOL memory (Little Old Lady Memory). Now THAT'S a ROM!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Core_rope_memory

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MrT
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It sounds disappointing...

...but is probably the right decision. Aside from all the LEO to-and-fro, which is more commercial these days, NASA always made more sense pushing boundaries. New ideas, distant goals and other stuff that extend limits.

Earth-moon Lagrange point 2 space station seems to be a more suitable near-future target for manned NASA missions, as a driver for the SLS heavy-lift rocket development. Any associated mid-point transit station could be used to assist lunar development, and the EM-L2 outpost could use lunar resources to push out to the asteroids and Mars.

Still, that means looking elsewhere for the space elevator...

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Alien

Space elevator

You know where a space elevator would make sense? Ceres. 0.028 g surface gravity, 9 hour rotation period means the stresses would be manageable with normal materials (ordinary wire rope, probably with embedded heating elements and/or power), and the Clarke orbit would be a mere 782 km above the equator. Solar power lifts work well at 0.03g. And what needs lifted up off Ceres? Water. Gigatons of water. And of course any other material you might find on an asteroid, or manufactured goods made of that stuff. But mostly, water.

Of course that's at least 120 tons of 1/4" wire rope - more likely 140. Getting it there would be a bit of a challenge as the whole Dawn spacecraft less fuel is only 800kg. But it's doable, and could lift loads of 5 tons per trip.

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Re: Space elevator

Thinking it over, you might want to go with a synthetic rope for improved tensile strength to mass ratio for a higher safety factor.

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Boffin

Re: Space elevator

Ah, if only we had an easy way of getting that wire out of the gravity well. Something like a space elevator...

Oh, wait...

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FAIL

Re: Space elevator

At 0.028g surface gravity, and considering the energy/equipment requirement for even a modest "settlement" on Ceres, why on earth would you even consider a space elevator?

You can damn well literally toss a rock off the asteroid, and risk launching yourself into space as well if you're not careful.

The only reason why you *maybe* might construct one is to show why the things do not work as imagined, and are a lot more troublesome than most people realise, because you can scale down enough to use conventional materials to actually construct one.

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Boffin

Re: Space elevator

This is all well and good if you want to return a few tons a few times. If you want to return five tons a day for several years running you want infrastructure. Ideally what you do with that water is turn it into rocket fuel to move men and material quickly and cheaply about the solar system, so you will want quite a lot of it.

Even with a steam cannon you are unlikely to get better results for less cost.

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Boffin

Re: Space elevator

We have the launch capacity to get the rope out there. Once we start getting the water returned and manufacturing it into fuel on orbit, we won't have to launch stuff quite so high as tugs can fish it out of LEO and take it the rest of the way.

/finally got my badge.

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Terminator

Manned asteroid landing? I'm for that!

Easier than Mars, for sure.

Otherwise, work on those fracking robots. We demand more autonomy.

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Facepalm

This is what a limited budget looks like...

So NASA isn't going back to the Moon anytime soon? Ok. It's not going because there's not enough money in the budget to go there? Ok. But there's enough in the budget to build:

A: A huge (and hugely expensive) rocket (SLS).

B: A habitat module - no way are 3 to 5 astronauts going to do 300-days-plus in just an Orion capsule.

C: A service module - I don't think that the European ATV, slated as a possible service module for trips to L2, is up to 300-days-plus in deep space with very long periods between burns.

But there doesn't seem to be anything in the public domain about a habitat module OR a new deep-space service module... so we're at least 10 years away from such a mission which puts the potential NASA asteroid-visiting mission at... 2024 at the earliest?

I have this picture in my head of a NASA crew getting to an asteroid in their tiny, barely-big-enough-to-get-there-and-back ship and finding a (probably American) crew from the Private Sector there already...

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Big Brother

Doesn't pass the smell test, NASA is dead.

Every time the public doesn't let them off the hook for taking humans into real space exploration NASA changes the rules to something yet another 10-20 years away that can be canceled by another president before NASA is actually forced to really pursue it. It's been smelling like avoidance techniques for far far to long now. Russians will have to partner with China if they want to get anywhere as the US Gov/media complex plunges it's citizens into a news black out as to what is really happening in the rest of the world. Space exploration belongs to China now.

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FAIL

Re: Doesn't pass the smell test, NASA is dead.

Hmm, not dead exactly, but lurching around from this project to that project. In all fairness, it's worth pointing out that NASA isn't in charge of NASA. The people who allocate the money insist on saying things like, "Spend it on this." instead of, "Here's the money, make sure you account for it. Now go do what you do best & if you mess up, we'll have your spherical objects for breakfast."

Anyone remember the Constellation program? A heavy lifter, a lunar lander (Altair) and the other bits & bobs. Cancelled and the money spent and, more importantly, the time wasted created the current gap between the retirement of the Shuttle and the restoration of America's ability to put its own astronauts into orbit. NASA gets the blame for that but it was a mandated program & then the funding was yanked out. And next came SLS...

And the private sector will have a cheap alternative that lifts 75% of the payload for less than 10% of the cost, flying for the first time in 2014, 3 1/2 years ahead of SLS. Now convince me that SLS isn't going to be cancelled just like Constellation.

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Unhappy

It's not the same without Neil anyway

<-- see

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Re: It's not the same without Neil anyway

True... but on the other hand...

"It's one small step for, er, what's this word? Where are my glasses? Has anyone seen my slippers?"

(Seriously, nothing but respect for the man and the program that got him there. My suspicion is that NASA don't want to do another moonshot is less to do with ability and more to do with congressional hearings: "So you expected one failure in twenty, and yet with such a risk you still launched?")

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Re: It's not the same without Neil anyway

Is it me, or are managers (and politicians of course, always hard to keep vermin out) in charge at NASA, rather than engineers, kick-arse test pilots, and people with vision?

Pity, NASA gave me some of my fondest childhood memories.

Having said that, there are still some awesome projects they do carry off. You have to just love those Mars rovers, to name just one example (OK, three). They show there are still star engineers at NASA.

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Holmes

Which kinda reads as...

We can't be arsed / are too skint to put another man on the moon, but, if you want to foot the bill we'll gladly share in the glory

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Which kinda reads as...

Additionally, imagine the furore if it turned out that putting people on the Moon was now *easy*.

It might be a little akin to what has happened to the *exclusivity* of climbing Mt. Everest, or going to the North Pole :P

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