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US space policy

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Re: US space policy

Post by abr » Tue Sep 23, 2008 4:30 am

Googling 'japan space elevator' turned up this recent article Japan hopes to turn sci-fi into reality with elevator to the stars. From the sound of it, it seems 'Japan might someday build the space elevator' would be a more accurate characterization of the current project state. ;)

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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Tue Sep 23, 2008 10:18 am

On one hand, the Japanese are very good engineers and enthusiastic technologists; more power to them. OTOH, their spaceflight record is underwhelming and their current manned space program focuses entirely on the ISS. I'll keep my money on the Chinese for the next decade or so.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Freezer-TPF- » Thu Sep 25, 2008 5:48 pm

Ironrod and others: I thought you might be interested in this special section in today's WashPost.

NASA at 50

Some nice informational graphics, articles, galleries, and a couple of chats.
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Re: US space policy

Post by WPD » Thu Sep 25, 2008 6:34 pm

From one of the chats
Washington, D.C.: Are there any impacts of the ongoing U.S. presidential election to the direction of current space program?

Marc Kaufman: Definitely. While Obama started as a skeptic of the Constellation program, he has become a strong advocate (after some educating by Florida's Sen. Nelson in particular.) Both he and McCain have spoken of the possibility of extending the space shuttle program -- I believe by one mission or more. Obama has also spoken of the need to increase NASA Earth monitoring (to gauge global warming and weather trends) which has declined somewhat in recent years. McCain has spoken generally of wanting to keep the American space program second-to-none, but has also said all discretionary government programs (which includes NASA) will be in line for a haircut.

There is a large military component to space spending, and I would presume that Sen. McCain would be more inclined to keep that funding high while Obama might want to spread it around. The issue here is military "hard power" versus scientific and technological "soft power," and which helps the U.S. best in the world.
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Re: US space policy

Post by The Meal » Thu Oct 09, 2008 9:33 am

Well, NASA sees which way the winds are blowin'. They're kissing up to Obama.
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Re: US space policy

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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Thu Oct 09, 2008 10:56 am

NASA is bound to bleed under either Obama's scalpel or McCain's axe. I hope that China's ongoing progress and bold plans will make NASA a somewhat less tempting budgetary target.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Tue Oct 21, 2008 10:27 pm

Here's a new country heard from: India
NEW DELHI - Scientists have better maps of distant Mars than the moon where astronauts have walked. But India hopes to change that with its first lunar mission.

Chandrayaan-1 - which means "Moon Craft" in ancient Sanskrit - launched from the Sriharikota space center in southern India early Wednesday morning in a two-year mission aimed at laying the groundwork for further Indian space expeditions.

Chief among the mission's goals is mapping not only the surface of the moon, but what lies beneath. India joined what's shaping up as a 21st century space race with Chinese and Japanese crafts already in orbit around the moon.

The United States, which won the 1960s race to send men to the moon, won't jump in this race with its new lunar probe until next spring, but it is providing key mapping equipment for India's mission.

As India's economy has boomed in recent years, it has sought to convert its new found wealth - built on its high-tech sector - into political and military clout and stake a claim as a world leader. It is hoping that a moon mission - coming just months after it finalized a deal with the United States that recognizes India as a nuclear power - will further enhance that status.

"It is a remarkable technological achievement for the country," said S. Satish, a spokesman for the Indian Space Research Organization, which plans to use the 3,080-pound lunar probe to create a high-resolution map of the lunar surface and what minerals are below. Two of the mapping instruments are a joint project with NASA.

Until now, India's space launches have been more practical, with weather warning satellites and communication systems, said former NASA associate administrator Scott Pace, director of space policy at the George Washington University.

"You're seeing India lifting its sights," Pace said.

To date only the U.S., Russia, the European Space Agency, Japan and China have sent missions to the moon.
I am pleased to see another nation break out of earth orbit. I do hope the US stays in the game during the coming age of austerity.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Canuck » Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:05 am

Well the problem is that they need competition-hopefully now they'll get it. As much as most Americans probably have little interest in space exploration, they'll probably not be happy with being leapfrogged by other countries. I think another space race would be good for everybody.

I think it might actually take a country like China or India to go the next step. America has become far too risk averse. If Europeans took a hatchet to their exploration programs every time a ship sank then North America would never have been discovered! I get the impression though that China would be much more willing to risk the lives of their astronauts (something that comes with the territory of being an explorer in my opinion).

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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:15 pm

Arise, thread!

Four years later we see Obama's space policy unfolding. The man seems to have little to no personal interest, but NASA's budget has largely escaped the axe. If manned spaceflight is in the process of being outsourced, at least robotic exploration is as healthy as can be expected under our austere circumstances.

So what's Romney got? Any position at all? I have a feeling I know how NASA would fare under Ryanomics, but that's just a hunch.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Grundbegriff » Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:23 pm

Kraken wrote:So what's Romney got? Any position at all? I have a feeling I know how NASA would fare under Ryanomics, but that's just a hunch.
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Re: US space policy

Post by Rip » Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:38 pm

Kraken wrote:Arise, thread!

Four years later we see Obama's space policy unfolding. The man seems to have little to no personal interest, but NASA's budget has largely escaped the axe. If manned spaceflight is in the process of being outsourced, at least robotic exploration is as healthy as can be expected under our austere circumstances.

So what's Romney got? Any position at all? I have a feeling I know how NASA would fare under Ryanomics, but that's just a hunch.
Let the Chinese build our space toys like they already do the rest of our toys?

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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Mon Aug 13, 2012 1:08 pm

Obama rides the wave
"Curiosity stuck her landing and captured the attention and the imagination of millions of people not just across our country but people all around the world," Obama told the controllers, many of whom remained at their consoles. "It's really mind-boggling what you've been able to accomplish."

About to begin a three-day bus tour in Iowa, Obama couldn't resist a political point — vowing to resist efforts to cut spending on basic science. "I'm going to give you guys a personal commitment to protect these critical investments," he said.

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Re: US space policy

Post by msduncan » Mon Aug 13, 2012 2:53 pm

Kraken wrote:Obama rides the wave
"Curiosity stuck her landing and captured the attention and the imagination of millions of people not just across our country but people all around the world," Obama told the controllers, many of whom remained at their consoles. "It's really mind-boggling what you've been able to accomplish."

About to begin a three-day bus tour in Iowa, Obama couldn't resist a political point — vowing to resist efforts to cut spending on basic science. "I'm going to give you guys a personal commitment to protect these critical investments," he said.

That's like me calling my son and assuring him that I'm going to protect the $5.00 allowance I give him each week. I make that personal commitment to him.
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Re: US space policy

Post by El Guapo » Mon Aug 13, 2012 2:59 pm

Kraken wrote:Arise, thread!

Four years later we see Obama's space policy unfolding. The man seems to have little to no personal interest, but NASA's budget has largely escaped the axe. If manned spaceflight is in the process of being outsourced, at least robotic exploration is as healthy as can be expected under our austere circumstances.

So what's Romney got? Any position at all? I have a feeling I know how NASA would fare under Ryanomics, but that's just a hunch.
It is extremely difficult to imagine NASA escaping the Romney / Ryan spending axe.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:02 pm

El Guapo wrote:
Kraken wrote:Arise, thread!

Four years later we see Obama's space policy unfolding. The man seems to have little to no personal interest, but NASA's budget has largely escaped the axe. If manned spaceflight is in the process of being outsourced, at least robotic exploration is as healthy as can be expected under our austere circumstances.

So what's Romney got? Any position at all? I have a feeling I know how NASA would fare under Ryanomics, but that's just a hunch.
It is extremely difficult to imagine NASA escaping the Romney / Ryan spending axe.
I was hoping that a Romney follower might know of a policy statement. AFAIK he only addressed it once while pandering in FL during the primaries, and that was a generality.

I found thisindicating that Romney refuses to offer any specifics (sound familiar?) on space policy, and thisindicating that it's probably just another expense item to Ryan. So unless somebody has evidence to the contrary, I'll conclude that the Romney/Ryan ticket is disinterested in NASA at best, and more likely hostile toward its budget.

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Re: US space policy

Post by El Guapo » Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:27 pm

Kraken wrote:
El Guapo wrote:
Kraken wrote:Arise, thread!

Four years later we see Obama's space policy unfolding. The man seems to have little to no personal interest, but NASA's budget has largely escaped the axe. If manned spaceflight is in the process of being outsourced, at least robotic exploration is as healthy as can be expected under our austere circumstances.

So what's Romney got? Any position at all? I have a feeling I know how NASA would fare under Ryanomics, but that's just a hunch.
It is extremely difficult to imagine NASA escaping the Romney / Ryan spending axe.
I was hoping that a Romney follower might know of a policy statement. AFAIK he only addressed it once while pandering in FL during the primaries, and that was a generality.

I found thisindicating that Romney refuses to offer any specifics (sound familiar?) on space policy, and thisindicating that it's probably just another expense item to Ryan. So unless somebody has evidence to the contrary, I'll conclude that the Romney/Ryan ticket is disinterested in NASA at best, and more likely hostile toward its budget.
Yeah, I know. But at the same time, what value would there be in any such policy statement? First, the only campaign promises that are worth a damn are related a candidate's front-line issue. Second, especially with Ryan on the ticket, a Romney administration is going to be heavily focused on cutting spending, which is almost necessarily in conflict with NASA / space exploration.

So even if Romney made specific space exploration promises, how much would that be worth really? The only thing that would pique my interest here is not campaign promises but some kind of personal connection between Romney and/or Ryan and space exploration. Perhaps an accounting of hearing the moon landing audio, or some personal interaction with the fruits of space exploration related innovations.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Freezer-TPF- » Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:12 pm

Romney's position will depend on whether he is currently campaigning in FL.
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Re: US space policy

Post by msduncan » Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:27 pm

Kraken wrote:
El Guapo wrote:
Kraken wrote:Arise, thread!

Four years later we see Obama's space policy unfolding. The man seems to have little to no personal interest, but NASA's budget has largely escaped the axe. If manned spaceflight is in the process of being outsourced, at least robotic exploration is as healthy as can be expected under our austere circumstances.

So what's Romney got? Any position at all? I have a feeling I know how NASA would fare under Ryanomics, but that's just a hunch.
It is extremely difficult to imagine NASA escaping the Romney / Ryan spending axe.
I was hoping that a Romney follower might know of a policy statement. AFAIK he only addressed it once while pandering in FL during the primaries, and that was a generality.

I found thisindicating that Romney refuses to offer any specifics (sound familiar?) on space policy, and thisindicating that it's probably just another expense item to Ryan. So unless somebody has evidence to the contrary, I'll conclude that the Romney/Ryan ticket is disinterested in NASA at best, and more likely hostile toward its budget.
That is quite a long leap to take. Last election cycle Obama flat out came out saying he was going to slash it. When challenged he backpedaled and you took him at his word the second time. He proceeded to cancel the Mars initiative and shut down the Space Shuttle program and gut it's successor.

This time Romney has said nothing specific and you are ready to jump to conclusions that he's shuttering the doors.

Bias much?
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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:37 pm

El Guapo wrote:
Kraken wrote:
El Guapo wrote:
Kraken wrote:Arise, thread!

Four years later we see Obama's space policy unfolding. The man seems to have little to no personal interest, but NASA's budget has largely escaped the axe. If manned spaceflight is in the process of being outsourced, at least robotic exploration is as healthy as can be expected under our austere circumstances.

So what's Romney got? Any position at all? I have a feeling I know how NASA would fare under Ryanomics, but that's just a hunch.
It is extremely difficult to imagine NASA escaping the Romney / Ryan spending axe.
I was hoping that a Romney follower might know of a policy statement. AFAIK he only addressed it once while pandering in FL during the primaries, and that was a generality.

I found thisindicating that Romney refuses to offer any specifics (sound familiar?) on space policy, and thisindicating that it's probably just another expense item to Ryan. So unless somebody has evidence to the contrary, I'll conclude that the Romney/Ryan ticket is disinterested in NASA at best, and more likely hostile toward its budget.
Yeah, I know. But at the same time, what value would there be in any such policy statement? First, the only campaign promises that are worth a damn are related a candidate's front-line issue. Second, especially with Ryan on the ticket, a Romney administration is going to be heavily focused on cutting spending, which is almost necessarily in conflict with NASA / space exploration.

So even if Romney made specific space exploration promises, how much would that be worth really? The only thing that would pique my interest here is not campaign promises but some kind of personal connection between Romney and/or Ryan and space exploration. Perhaps an accounting of hearing the moon landing audio, or some personal interaction with the fruits of space exploration related innovations.
I don't know; maybe it's lose/lose for him.

His options seem to be either to affirm Obama's loose long-term strategy for manned spaceflight, or send NASA back to the drawing board yet again (and effectively kill manned space exploration forever). If he intends to preserve the Obama approach, then he's conceding that Obama did something right, which is politically bad. If he intends to scrap it, he's taking the US out of manned spaceflight (other than taxi service to the ISS) for the foreseeable future, which is politically bad. So he's best off remaining silent unless he has a third way (e.g., incentivizing SpaceX and its competitors to take on planetary exploration). Which he very probably does not.

Could he gain anything by promising continuity with current policy? US leadership in manned spaceflight is in peril and the Republicans have a reputation for hostility to science. Promising to ensure US leadership in this highly visible cutting edge arena would probably be good. Embracing science and the spirit of exploration would be good. Even scrapping manned spaceflight could theoretically be spun as good if it meant that NASA's budget would be completely devoted to more frequent and ambitious robotic missions.

The best thing Romney could tell space enthusiasts is that he's not going to pull the plug on the NASA's current course. But you're right: Absent some evidence of personal interest, we wouldn't trust him anyway.

If there are any Republicans who rank space policy among their main concerns -- and I think I know one -- then Romney's refusal to address the subject, together with Ryan's budget axe, should be a huge red flag.

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Re: US space policy

Post by El Guapo » Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:33 pm

msduncan wrote:
Kraken wrote:
El Guapo wrote:
Kraken wrote:Arise, thread!

Four years later we see Obama's space policy unfolding. The man seems to have little to no personal interest, but NASA's budget has largely escaped the axe. If manned spaceflight is in the process of being outsourced, at least robotic exploration is as healthy as can be expected under our austere circumstances.

So what's Romney got? Any position at all? I have a feeling I know how NASA would fare under Ryanomics, but that's just a hunch.
It is extremely difficult to imagine NASA escaping the Romney / Ryan spending axe.
I was hoping that a Romney follower might know of a policy statement. AFAIK he only addressed it once while pandering in FL during the primaries, and that was a generality.

I found thisindicating that Romney refuses to offer any specifics (sound familiar?) on space policy, and thisindicating that it's probably just another expense item to Ryan. So unless somebody has evidence to the contrary, I'll conclude that the Romney/Ryan ticket is disinterested in NASA at best, and more likely hostile toward its budget.
That is quite a long leap to take. Last election cycle Obama flat out came out saying he was going to slash it. When challenged he backpedaled and you took him at his word the second time. He proceeded to cancel the Mars initiative and shut down the Space Shuttle program and gut it's successor.

This time Romney has said nothing specific and you are ready to jump to conclusions that he's shuttering the doors.

Bias much?
It's not the silence / lack of specifics that would concern me. It's that *plus* the deep spending cuts that Romney / Ryan want. Romney (IIRC) wants to cap federal spending at 20% of GDP while preserving 4% for defense spending, plus tax cuts. That's going to require deep, deep spending cuts. If Romney / Ryan haven't said anything specific about space exploration spending, what are the odds that those programs are not among those receiving deep cuts?

Of course, I don't think either party prioritizes space exploration much these days. But I'd be wary of voting for Romney / Ryan if space is one of your main priorities.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Tue Aug 14, 2012 2:28 am

msduncan wrote: Last election cycle Obama flat out came out saying he was going to slash it. When challenged he backpedaled and you took him at his word the second time. He proceeded to cancel the Mars initiative and shut down the Space Shuttle program and gut it's successor.

This time Romney has said nothing specific and you are ready to jump to conclusions that he's shuttering the doors.

Bias much?
Obama has at least maintained NASA's current funding and committed the country to a long-range strategy. NASA has a general goal and a fairly stable budget. Obama's the devil we know.

Romney's said that he would consult experts before formulating a policy. That's not a bad thing if he lacks the expertise to have one of his own. Maybe those experts would tell him to stay the course, maybe not. Depends on who they are. As El Guapo said, though, the funding part worries me in light of Romney's disengagement and Ryan's meat cleaver.

Of course Congress determines the budget, and NASA has facilities in all 50 states. There's some insulation against a hostile administration there. So I'm less worried about how much money Ryan would cut than whether Romney would stick with the current approach or hit the reset button yet again.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:14 pm

"Asteroids are nature's way of asking: How's that space program coming along?"

More people seem to be coming along to my opinion that the answer is "Not well enough."

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Re: US space policy

Post by Enough » Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:09 pm

GOP budget seeks to kill NASA's plan to capture an asteroid.
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Re: US space policy

Post by Isgrimnur » Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:42 pm

Meanwhile, the House Rs want a Mars base.
Republicans in Congress are pushing for major cuts across the federal budget, but so far, they're not willing to sacrifice a plan to build a moon colony.

In fact, Republicans on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee are eyeing an even more ambitious goal: building a base on Mars, too.
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Re: US space policy

Post by RLMullen » Thu Jun 20, 2013 3:19 pm

Enough wrote:GOP budget seeks to kill NASA's plan to capture an asteroid.
This one doesn't bother me too much. I question the wisdom of moving a 500 ton rock into Earth's gravity well. Seriously, this plan has "hey yall, watch this!!" written all over it.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Isgrimnur » Thu Jun 20, 2013 3:26 pm

For comparison, the recent Russian meteor was 10k tons, 20 times bigger than the one they're targeting. Not to mention that the planet is mostly covered in water.
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Re: US space policy

Post by LawBeefaroni » Thu Jun 20, 2013 3:32 pm

RLMullen wrote:
Enough wrote:GOP budget seeks to kill NASA's plan to capture an asteroid.
This one doesn't bother me too much. I question the wisdom of moving a 500 ton rock into Earth's gravity well. Seriously, this plan has "hey yall, watch this!!" written all over it.
In doing, we would learn much and probably develop a lot of new technology and methods. Most of which would be put to use in subsequent unrelated missions.
"This mission represents an unprecedented technological feat that will lead to new scientific discoveries and technological capabilities and help protect our home planet," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden this past April. "We will use existing capabilities, such as the Orion crew capsule and Space Launch System rocket, and develop new technologies like solar electric propulsion and laser communications -- all critical components of deep space exploration."
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Re: US space policy

Post by Holman » Thu Jun 20, 2013 3:51 pm

Isgrimnur wrote:Meanwhile, the House Rs want a Mars base.
In fact, Republicans on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee are eyeing an even more ambitious goal: building a base on Mars, too.
If I were NASA, I'd start pushing the Missionaries-to-Mars angle. Or I'd suggest that living on Mars proves that Climate Change is a hoax. Or that Martian rocks under radiocarbon dating top out at 4,000 years.

Anything.
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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:24 pm

RLMullen wrote:
Enough wrote:GOP budget seeks to kill NASA's plan to capture an asteroid.
This one doesn't bother me too much. I question the wisdom of moving a 500 ton rock into Earth's gravity well. Seriously, this plan has "hey yall, watch this!!" written all over it.
As Lawbeef said, it was a technology demonstration project that pulled together a lot of new hardware and techniques. I agree that it didn't stir the imagination or promise any direct payoff. If the heavy booster and Orion capsule escape unscathed but repurposed, I won't lament the loss of the asteroid stunt.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Isgrimnur » Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:48 pm

Extracting resources from asteroids might someday be cheaper than lifting them into orbit, but if you never try, you'll never get there.
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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:35 pm

So visiting and exploring a large asteroid in situ is certainly worthwhile. It's also a very challenging dry run for future planetary missions. Bagging a tiny one and hauling it to the moon? I don't see any value beyond developing the capability to do it. I suppose giving the moon its own moon is cool in a meta way.

I wish that NASA had enough money for every worthwhile manned and robotic mission that we can devise. I disagree strongly with cutting a billion bucks from its budget and hope that the asteroid capture mission survives, because that's the only solid program they've got. Nothing's ever going to get off the drawing board if they keep wiping it clean every few years. At the same time, I wish that NASA had set itself a more compelling near-term goal.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Montag » Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:55 pm

Not keen on the capture idea, but changing the path is worthwhile because at some point we will need to.

If a space elevator is to be built, chances are we will need an asteroid to use as the counterweight (geostationary orbit?).
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Re: US space policy

Post by msduncan » Sun Jun 23, 2013 12:06 pm

I can tell you from experience that capturing an asteroid has got to be pretty complex.

Experience? Yeah that's right. It's damned hard just to do an orbital intercept and docking in Kerbal Space Program. I can't imagine grabbing a 'roid and bringing it back to the moon.
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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Tue Jul 09, 2013 9:12 pm

Science News has a regular feature where they rerun a news tidbit from 50 years ago. This one is from June 15, 1963.
Men should land on Mars sometime before the century's end. Some optimists say this could happen by the late 1970s but others argue that the formidable problems to be solved make any time period less than some 30-odd years unrealistic. Unless, they add, there is some now unforeseen breakthrough in launching giant loads into orbit or propelling such loads through interplanetary space. Even before man lands on Mars, however, the question of whether some form of life exists there will be answered next year when NASA will send Mariner on a Mars fly-by.
As I remember it, NASA was firming up plans for a Mars landing in the 1980s while Project Apollo was winding down. Mariner 4's answer was a resounding and deeply disappointing "No." Prior to that mission scientists still considered advanced life to be possible there.

50 years later we are still about 30 years away from Mars.

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msduncan
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Re: US space policy

Post by msduncan » Tue Jul 09, 2013 11:28 pm

Quit depressing me Kraken. :(
It's 109 first team All-Americans.
It's a college football record 61 bowl appearances.
It's 34 bowl victories.
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It's 15 National Championships.

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Re: US space policy

Post by LawBeefaroni » Wed Jul 10, 2013 10:58 am

It would make for an interesting alternate timeline if Mariner 4 did find evidence of life on Mars in 1965. It would be a very different world just on the basis of a handful of photographs.
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Re: US space policy

Post by Pyperkub » Mon Aug 25, 2014 7:37 pm

OK msd -it's time for you to have a talk with your Senators/Congressmen:
Hey, remember Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the guy who threw needless layers of bureaucracy at SpaceX because the private space company was doing its job of launching rockets into space a little too well? Well, it looks like he’s being joined by gentlemen from the other side of the Capitol: Three congressmen are trying to do the same thing...

...If there’s any anomaly here, it’s why a few people in Congress seem so hell-bent on throwing roadblocks in the way of private businesses that can revolutionize our access to space. Is Orbital Sciences next, or Sierra Nevada and other smaller, more flexible companies poised to start launching payloads into orbit? How long will these Congress critters be an impediment to the future?
PS - you too, Colorado!
There are three ways to not tell the truth: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Mon Aug 25, 2014 10:15 pm

You realize they're competing with Boeing, right? Ah yes, here it is: " I’ll note that Boeing (the major SLS contractor) has a big plant in Alabama, Brooks’ (and Shelby’s) home state."

One of these 3 vehicles will be NASA's spacecraft of the future. Our contestants are SpaceX, Sierra Nevada, and (drum roll) Boeing.

The military-industrial complex must be fed.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Pyperkub » Mon Aug 25, 2014 10:31 pm

Fully realize it. Doesn't make me happy after almost 40 years of Congress holding the space program down however.
There are three ways to not tell the truth: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

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