Well I'm sure that the Japanese press are keen to forget, but Dialogue is also open with the European Space Agency, afterall the ATV has already proved itself competant.
NASA is reportedly negotiating to buy the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) as a means of ensuring it can fulfil its obligation to supply the International Space Station following retirement of the space shuttle fleet in 2010. Artist's impression of JAXA's HTV in orbit. Pic: JAXA According …
The Japanese system is smaller than the European ATV, and can carry unpressurized cargo.
It's also designed to remain docked for a month, compared to about six months for the ATV (IIRC), and doesn't feature an automated docking system; it's designed to be captured by a robotic arm on the station.
This amounts to a cheaper vessel that is appropriate for different tasks.
Likewise, the Russian's progress spacecraft, the Parom, the Space Shuttle and the Orion are all appropriate for differing situations.
Horses for courses.
Not ready in 2 years? Ha! Try "never".
The US government has made 40 years of serious mistakes with respect to its aerospace industry, including "hire and fire" staffing, hand-in-glove micromanagment of companies, and mega-mergers into only about 4 top-level firms.
This leaves off the fact that in the USA, no high-school graduates with any talent or gumption go into any technical field, but the aerospace industry hasn't been able to attract any young talent since the Reagan Money years.
Werner von Braun and his German colleagues gave the USA a promethean gift of spaceflight, and we've unconscionably squandered it.
The ISS has never produced any of its original goals, and is a joke in scientific circles as far as any kind of "science" on it is concerned. 100% of the space exploration science that has come out of NASA in the last 30 years has been from robotic missions.
The best thing would be to abandon the ISS and let it fall into the ocean, and spend the money that would be wasted on it on more robotic missions.
Come on, you don't 'suddenly' realise your new rockets aren't going to work - it takes years to design and test these things properly.
The whole Ares / Orion fustercluck is proably just to satisfy contractual obligations to supply a certain dollar value of work to various US states & companies, in a process known as 'pork barreling'. I bet they've been planning to use the JAXA and ESA vehicles for some time now.
It was nice knowing you NASA, maybe we could have been on Mars by now. Looks like Stephen Baxter got it right in 'Titan'.
.. filled with administrators. The name is even a giveaway: National Aeronautics and Space Administration . There's no mention of science in that.
As such, expect a an organisation run by administrators for the benefit of administrators.
As AC says, the best thing that could be done for space research would be to get rid of the administrators (many of them are political appointments anyway) and ask the scientists to figure out the best way to achieve the science that they want to achieve.
"The ISS has never produced any of its original goals,"
Not true! It fulfilled both its main goals admirably:
1. Give the shuttle something to do.
It was beginning to be embarrassing to the US government that virtually no one was using the shuttle for any real flights. After all, why pay a fortune to have the shuttle launch your satellite, when a regular rocket could do it better, faster, cheaper?
Seriously, other than the ISS and Hubble, which the shuttle can barely reach with extra boosters, plus a few early "show boat" missions, what else has the shuttle done?
(And don't say "Two crews", that's just not nice!)
2. Attract attention to itself.
With all eyes on the ISS, not too many people (Joe Average types, that is) were wondering why the US (and most of the western world) was doing next to nothing in manned exploration,
("We got a shuttle and a space station, we must be explorin' space, they said so on Fox News!")
Plus it created drama and an illusion of cooperation in space, with the various countries, small and large, chipping in their part, pulling out, signing back on, and bickering amongst themselves.
Pity the whole show was rendered obsolete by the new space race started by China, India, and japan.
Now the US and most of the Western world is stuck supporting a white elephant, and scrabbling to play catch-up with countries that decided to pick up today where the US quit nearly 30 years ago!
"Seriously, other than the ISS and Hubble, which the shuttle can barely reach with extra boosters, plus a few early 'show boat' missions, what else has the shuttle done?"
When you're just running your mouth, try not to mention anything technical cause it just gives it away.
The shuttle cannot actually take extra boosters (this has never been done), and is perfectly able to reach ISS and Hubble.
"what sort of booster would be required to move it to a lunar orbit?"
The easiest way would be a humongous (miles long) wire strung out from the station to channel the electromagnetic flow, to boost the orbit, but the US has never paid much attention to that technology (you'd have to look up a few skiffy stories to read descriptions of the way it works). If you go the chemical rocket route, you'd need a boatload (Queen Mary sized) of traditional boosters to do the same thing.
My biggest concern would be preventing it from falling down by getting it boosted to one the stable Lagrange Points, so that when we figure out what to do with it, it'll still be there (see Skylab- meant to be visited by the new shuttle, but instead it went down early, raining down over over Western Oz and the Never Never)
Oh well, soon enough Bigelow Aerospace will be finding customers for their inflatable pool toys, and they'll be all over the Lagrange Points, hosting touristas, and doing the odd real science thingies, which will then cause further investments, and we'll finally get off the planet in a big way.
I only meant it needed boosters to reach Hubble, which is in a much higher orbit than ISS, not both. But you're right, it doesn't use boosters to reach Hubble (My bad, it's what I get for listening half-cocked to TV news reports), They get the higher altitude by carrying a lot less weight instead. (That's where the "boost" I misunderstood came from):
"This payload is light compared with the 32,000-pound (14,514 kg) Kibo module that shuttle Discovery took to the International Space Station in May. However, Atlantis must climb to an orbit of nearly 360 miles (579 km), much higher than the station at approximately 220 miles (354 km)." - from http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/space/2008-07-21-hubble-repair-mission_N.htm
In fact, it appears reaching hubble is the highest orbit the shuttle has achieved: http://www.cnn.com/TECH/9702/21/shuttle.landing/
And now that's out of the way, Like I asked before, what else useful has the shuttle done?
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