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Point/Counterpoint: The future of U.S. manned spaceflight

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Harry911
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re: Point/Counterpoint: The future of U.S. manned spaceflight
Harry911   4/28/2010 12:49:12 PM
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The Soviets never sent a man to the moon, even though they could easily have done so. Why? Because they knew there is nothing to be gained by doing so. The US space program was a large propaganda campaign, a triumph of politics and marketing, not of science and engineering. It was an act of fear and paranoia by a society that not too long ago was burning "witches". Many tout the technologies which originated in the space program, and which went on to benefit society. What they fail to realize is that if the money spent on the wasteful space program had instead been spent on solving the relevant problems, we would now have better solutions to more problems. The space program was targeted towards a one-of-a-kind critical mission, meaning that all environmental concerns were put aside, the thinking being that this would only be done occasionally and so the minor resulting use of highly toxic chemicals and processes would not be a problem. The result is that all of us now use, or are exposed to, toxic epoxies, paints, cleaners, and other chemicals which cause neural, kidney, liver, and reproductive damage, as well as being carcinogens. Mars is best explored by robots, since they are light, small, durable, immune to cold and radiation, don't need life support systems, and don't have to be brought back to earth! Yet the politicians and brainless sensationalists have once again embarked on steering the clueless public in to funding a truly inappropriate "science project".

bearchow
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re: Point/Counterpoint: The future of U.S. manned spaceflight
bearchow   4/26/2010 1:12:26 PM
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The USA of the 60's put a man on the moon. The USA of 2010 cannot even get a space program started. Pesky Varmint

CamilleK
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re: Point/Counterpoint: The future of U.S. manned spaceflight
CamilleK   4/23/2010 8:20:41 AM
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To answer the editor's question in the second comment: it would be good if China can participate in a much larger scale space effort along with all countries. The international space station is a good example of cooperation. Coopetition is also possible. Both the R and the D in R&D could enable benefits for many industries in aerospace, energy, science of materials, optics, you name it. Mars or Moon is not the issue. The issue is being aggressive enough in vision and funding. Governments and private industries can complement each other nicely. After all there is plenty of universe for all to have.

aquitaine
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re: Point/Counterpoint: The future of U.S. manned spaceflight
aquitaine   4/20/2010 1:17:37 AM
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Part of the problem with the Constellation program was that it was really nothing new, it was essentially a modernized Apollo. Hard to feel inspired when we're going with designs from the 60's. Obama has announced we'll be going to the asteroid belt and then mars. While I'm all for pushing the envelope in terms of exploration, I wonder how we can do it when we can't even make a coherent plan to go to the moon, despite having the technological know how for 40 years.

Ducksoup_SD
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re: Point/Counterpoint: The future of U.S. manned spaceflight
Ducksoup_SD   4/20/2010 1:14:11 AM
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Institutional memory is vital in a field with few players, such as space travel. Dumping the NASA folks and saying that in four years they can build a new booster is the best way to evaporate the institutional memory. Who will stick around, taking meaningless jobs for four years, on the hopes that will come true? Everyone will move on to other jobs or professions and NASA will have almost no experience left behind to get the new rockets off the ground. We've paid a high price, in dollars and lives, learning hard lessons about space flight. Lessons that will vanish and have to be learned again -- at an even higher cost in dollars and lives. To too many Ivy League graduates, engineers can simply be plugged into a job; previous experience and education don't mean anything. We engineers know differently; our manned space program is doomed.

danny1024
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re: Point/Counterpoint: The future of U.S. manned spaceflight
danny1024   4/19/2010 10:44:06 AM
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NASA's budget ($18 billion) is a rounding error relative to the total Federal Budget ($3.55 *trillion*). It is so insignificant as to preclude any sustained scrutiny by accountants or lawyers-turned-elected-officials. It is *rocket science* and many of NASA's systemic problems stem from political interference. The current interference is both unprecedented and uncalled for in its severity and painful ramifications. I find the criticism of Constellation risible: don't fund an ambitious and essential program properly and then announce you are cutting it because it's behind schedule. When even the famously taciturn Neil Armonstrong is criticizing Obama you know something is wrong on the merits. Just keep the lawyers and accountants away from meddling in scientific R&D.

Matt98
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re: Point/Counterpoint: The future of U.S. manned spaceflight
Matt98   4/16/2010 5:37:00 PM
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At least in these early stages there's no reason to send humans out there. We can do it much easier and cheaper with expendable robots.

george.leopold
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re: Point/Counterpoint: The future of U.S. manned spaceflight
george.leopold   4/16/2010 1:11:49 AM
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JFK speech writer Ted Sorensen wrote in his 2008 memoir: ‚??The ‚??moon shot‚?? was the making of America‚??s superiority in space‚?Ě and of ‚??all scientific, diplomatic and national security benefits that followed."

aquitaine
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re: Point/Counterpoint: The future of U.S. manned spaceflight
aquitaine   4/15/2010 11:01:02 PM
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Reposting the quote with the funny unicode garbage removed: "President Kennedy did not ask what the ROI was on going to the moon, he did not have Excel or Microsoft project - he knew it would pay off and it did and continues to - common sense and logic..Funny thing is when he said it everyone did it.. Today if the president says something it - it's optional, we assume its posturing, politics and wait to see if it will get funded. We are still getting the benefits of the Kennedy decision"

aquitaine
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re: Point/Counterpoint: The future of U.S. manned spaceflight
aquitaine   4/15/2010 10:58:04 PM
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So what went wrong with manned exploration......there's certainly plenty of blame to go around: 1.) Nixon really started this mess by cancelling the Apollo project and drastically slashing NASA's budget, and then forcing the shuttle onto NASA. 2.) The shuttle itself was a good concept, but its implementation was deeply flawed, and NASA never opened it up for private development/use. But, as for the shuttle's flaws, part of the problem was that it was overly complex, which lead to major problems both with maintenence and with safety. Another big problem that really constrained the shuttle was that it had to comply with US Air Force requirements, putting the desires (and wet dreams) of the Military Industrial Complex ahead NASA's needs added to the problem of complexity, even though in reality these features were never used. NASA should have been allowed (or directed) to put the development of an inexpensive and reusable launch method (that could have been opened to the private sector) ahead of what the military wanted. Sadly we didn't have leadership with the vision to make this happen. If it did happen, then we would have had moon bases by the 80's. For more on what the shuttle could have been (including sketches of various early concept craft), check out this website: http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/shuttle.htm For right now, I'd have to say our best bet at a real shuttle replacement is the Skylon, currently under development by Reaction Engines. 3.) The public certainly holds part of the responsibility of this simply because for a couple of decades now the public interest in space exploration and going into space in general was pretty much nonexistent. Once upon a time it was cool to be an astronaught or an engineer (preferrably both), but those days are long, long gone. NASA is effectively chained to an electorate that generally doesn't care, and that has allowed it to wither on the vine. Here's a couple of links for further reading about this issue. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2007/11/21/nasas-budget-as-far-as-americans-think/ http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2008/05/08/whence-nasa/ 4.) NASA has certainly managed to get in the way of itself, but these issues are generally pretty well known, and certainly need to be fixed. Bottom line is, we as a people don't care about the future anymore, especially space. When Bush's now defunct plan to go back to the moon was announced all those years ago, no one cared. There was no big drive to do much of anything. Not surprisingly it flopped. I'm going to end this with a quote from the Apollo inspiration thread: "President Kennedy did not ask what the ROI was on going to the moon, he did not have Excel or Microsoft project‚?? he knew it would pay off and it did and continues to ‚?? common sense and logic..Funny thing is when he said it everyone did it.. Today if the president says something it ‚?? it‚??s optional, we assume its posturing, politics and wait to see if it will get funded. We are still getting the benefits of the Kennedy decision‚?¶"

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