back to article NASA wheels out Habitation prototypes while SpaceX encounters problems with parachutes

Pull up a chair and tuck into a sachet of dried astro-nosh with a round-up of space news you might have missed. You spend years waiting for a Deep Space Habitat and then two turn up at once NASA's Johnson Space Center cheerfully trumpeted the arrival of two very early mock-ups as part of the agency's NextSTEP Habitat effort, …

  1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    NextSTEP?

    Am I the only one who immediately thought this habitat would come in two flavors: pizza box and cube, use a Motorola 68k, and offer a compelling desktop UNIX experience? For an absolutely shocking price?

  2. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    In space no one can hear you scream...

  3. vtcodger Silver badge

    Cost?

    If you haven't Googled "Moon Base Cost" I suggest doing so. The answer, of course, is that no one knows what putting a research station on the moon will cost beyond the obvious "lots". The research station will likely be called a "colony", but my bet will be that it'll be more like the US South Pole Station -- permanent staff 45. But probably much smaller. Maybe 10-15. Cost estimates are in the $30-$50 billion range, but that's likely low because no actually knows the costs. An underrun of only $20 billion might be possible, but an equal overrun would be $80 billion. The James T Webb Observatory (a product of the 1990s "faster, better, cheaper" era) where every possible thing seems to have gone wrong is now 14 years late and total cost of 19.6B vs an initial estimate of 500M. That's a 1900% overrun. Further slips and overruns there are certainly possible.

    My question is not whether a return to the moon can be done. It almost certainly can. I just wonder whether it is a prudent use of resource. $50B would probably pay for 30 or 40 lunar rovers. Mars rovers cost about 2.4B, but getting them to Mars safely is extraordinarily difficult. Lunar rovers should be much cheaper? My contention is that a few dozen lunar rovers and maybe a couple of quick trips to return rock samples will tell us far more about the moon than a dozen folks burrowing in a cave in some crater or other possibly can.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Cost?

      It's not just about the exploration though, is it. The goal is to get a permanent / semi-permanent human foothold on a different bit of the solar system, both for surviveability of the species, and as a stepping stone to further, more wide-ranging exploration and colonisation.

    2. Grooke

      Re: Cost?

      While cost(rover) < cost(human):

      send(rover)

      You might get stuck in an infinite loop where we never get to go to space.

    3. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Cost?

      I think an occupied base on the moon is something that has to come sooner or later and with thoughts of sending manned missions to Mars, the Moon will offer the opportunity to gain a lot of experience and knowledge regarding long term stays beyond the Van Allen belts.

      It makes a great deal of sense to gain that knowledge relatively close by than to stick a team in a ship and cart them off to Mars hoping for the best. The alternative is to stay on Earth looking out at the Universe like a race of curtain twitchers, too scared to leave the house.

    4. Mo'Fo B'dass

      Re: Cost?

      And the ever-spiralling cost of the British HS2 (not so high-speed train service) is currently in the tens of billions of GBP. I can't help feeling that establishing an outpost on the moon is likely to be of more benefit to mankind than travelling from London to Birmingham 10 minutes faster. The cost may seem high but the benefits and experience gained should pay us back many times over.

      Move the money from HS2 to a lunar hyper-loop system. Too much caffeine? At least we wouldn't have to chop down any trees and bulldoze peoples homes. Let's just go for it.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Crash Report

    You have to love NASA terminology, wish other organisations used it.

    Can you imagine seeing this,

    Sorry your application has stopped working.

    Would you like to send a Rapid Unplanned Disassembly report to <<INSERT_SOFTWARE_VENDOR_OF_CHOICE>>

    1. Zarno

      Re: Crash Report

      Reminds me of this gem.

      https://consolia-comic.com/comics/segmentation-fault

  5. Aqua Marina

    Wow

    Between Space X, Virgin, Darpa’s Self driving cross desert vehicle competition, space stations, self driving cars, real life Thunderbird 3s, mars rovers, mars and moon habitation experiments there’s an awful lot of really interesting stuff going on right now. In the 80s this was the stuff of science fiction.

  6. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

    "330 cubic metres of liveable area"

    Liveable volume??

    1. Thrudd the Barbarian

      Blame it on the conversion from impereal to metric. Home and office space is always measured in square feet or meters. Ceiling height is only a concern if too many people are headbutting ceiling fixtures.

  7. Brangdon

    Starlink launch was scrubbed

    ... due to high winds. There's another window 24 hours later (ie early tomorrow morning).

  8. F111F
    Boffin

    Parachute Failure

    I believe the correct answer is "lithobraking". Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly is normally reserved for energetic activities over shorter timeframes. Either way, the result's the same, but one version has you bracing for impact, the other you get to go out blissfully unaware...

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