Breaking News
News & Analysis

Where next? Debating the future of manned space flight

11/30/2009 05:00 AM EST
5 comments
NO RATINGS
Page 1 / 4 Next >
More Related Links
View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
george.leopold
User Rank
Rookie
re: Where next? Debating the future of manned space flight
george.leopold   12/3/2009 4:24:30 PM
NO RATINGS
Eagle-eyed reader Jake Hendrickson points out that we messed up our gallery of rocket launchers. We published the wrong photo of the Ares-1 rocket on page 21 of our Nov. 16 issue as well as on our Web site. Here's a link to the Ares-1 photo we should have published: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/constellation/ares/index.html

george.leopold
User Rank
Rookie
re: Where next? Debating the future of manned space flight
george.leopold   12/3/2009 2:52:35 PM
NO RATINGS
Reader Thomas Carlins of Pittsburgh writes:

I read your article with great interest. I have always had an interest in space. I also have a sister and brother-in-law that work in the space program at Cape Canaveral. I was dismayed by your second paragraph when you stated: "the once-supreme U.S. manned space program". I would disagree. We are still supreme. No one else is capable of putting the manpower or equipment in orbit that we have done. The international space station is only international because we have allowed others to come on board. We could just as easily have accomplished it alone. Later in your article you stated: "the United States can no longer afford to mount, say, a manned mission to Mars on its own." The federal government just wasted $770 billion dollars to bail out AIG and is proposing a nationalized health care system whose costs will dwarf the AIG bailout. It is not a lack of resources, but too many people in the government wasting money on pet (pork) projects and social (redistribution of wealth) programs. Further, your statement that we must: "overcome narrow political difference and rivalries" is naive at best. The sooner we once again realize that we are the greatest country on the planet and that we do not need the assistance of the other countries the sooner we can move forward. If other countries wish to join us, we should not exclude them, but as long as we are the major shareholder in the venture they must abide by our rules. I agree with you that we need a definitive purpose such as JFK gave us. The time frame for a Mars mission (2036) is too far away. We need an intermediate step to keep people excited about the future. I propose that a permanent colony/spaceport on the moon is the next logical step. It will give us practice landing on another planet and give us a stationary point to launch a craft to Mars from without having to fight Earth's gravity to get started. We need to stay in space and keep moving forward. You are correct that: "the biggest hurdles...political and budget squabbles". NASA needs to begin to wean themselves from government funding. Sell trips into space for the wealthy (and make a profit), charge foreign countries what it really cost (and make a profit) to get their experiments and astronauts into space, allow NASA to make money off of the countless patents they have had over the years in developing product for space exploration which are now in use in everyday life, and whatever else it takes to get the money needed to continue this work. Finally you referenced commercial space ventures. Why doesn't NASA sell its shuttle technology to a private venture that can keep it going rather than stopping the program, burying the plan and losing years of valuble experience.

george.leopold
User Rank
Rookie
re: Where next? Debating the future of manned space flight
george.leopold   12/3/2009 1:56:24 AM
NO RATINGS
You make good points about the value of a permanent moon base, which does address the costly problem of getting equipment to Earth orbit. Perhaps we should instead invest more in robotic exploration of Mars, or telepresence, as one of our contributors refers to it? What do you think?

embeded
User Rank
Rookie
re: Where next? Debating the future of manned space flight
embeded   12/1/2009 8:47:07 AM
NO RATINGS
I don't understand how most oldtimers are stuck on going to Mars directly. Sure, we may get there sooner, but once we do, so what? It will be just another touch 'n go like the moon landing -- something for the record books without any real value. I suppose the people involved in the first Mars landing will then say we need to go to the moons of Jupiter next -- forget a permanent settlement on Mars. We need to establish a permanent presence in space. To do that, the more resources we don't have to ship into space to support that effort, the better. Thus a permanent moon base makes sense. When early explorers discovered North America, it was an exciting time. But nothing was made of it until permanent, self-supporting settlements were started. Yes, voyages of exploration could be done in months while permanent colonies didn't pay off for decades. But permanent colonies were the foundation of this nation, not the exploration voyages. Like the moon today, North America at that time was considered to be of little intrinsic value. We won't know the ultimate value of the moon until we go there and see just what kind of economic opportunities there are.

dirk.bruere
User Rank
Rookie
re: Where next? Debating the future of manned space flight
dirk.bruere   11/30/2009 7:24:50 PM
NO RATINGS
Time to outsource Human spaceflight to China. They can do it a lot cheaper. The only (minor) drawback being that future Martians will speak Chinese.

Radio
NEXT UPCOMING BROADCAST
EE Times Senior Technical Editor Martin Rowe will interview EMC engineer Kenneth Wyatt.
Top Comments of the Week
Like Us on Facebook

Datasheets.com Parts Search

185 million searchable parts
(please enter a part number or hit search to begin)
EE Times on Twitter
EE Times Twitter Feed
Flash Poll