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US space policy

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Carpet_pissr
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Re: US space policy

Post by Carpet_pissr » Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:04 am

Spectacular interview with the (Columbia, SC woot!) head of NASA (Charles Bolden) on NPR the other day talking about the future of the space program. He was very heavily insinuating that the real future of space exploration and travel resides with the private sector companies.

http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2014/08/14/n ... ure-bolden

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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Tue Aug 26, 2014 1:09 pm

Carpet_pissr wrote:He was very heavily insinuating that the real future of space exploration and travel resides with the private sector companies.
As recently as a couple of years ago I would have taken exception to this idea. In fact, I might have done so in this very thread. The necessary investment is too high and the payoff is too distant. Only governments have the resources and time horizons to undertake projects that take decades. However, the public-private partnership -- especially as exemplified by SpaceX -- has convinced me otherwise.

When Elon Musk says that he intends to die on Mars (just not on impact), I believe him.

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Re: US space policy

Post by GreenGoo » Tue Aug 26, 2014 1:29 pm

Kraken wrote:
Carpet_pissr wrote: The necessary investment is too high and the payoff is too distant. Only governments have the resources and time horizons
It seems like governments have shorter and shorter vision until all they can see is the next election. This may have always been true barring outside influence (like, say, WWII for example) but it seems particularly true today.

I felt as you did that only government has the resources and the ability to ignore the profit motive and look at the outcome as it's own reward, but that seems less and less true. Anything that isn't high visibility and high voter appeal seems to be neglected.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Tue Aug 26, 2014 2:49 pm

GreenGoo wrote:
Kraken wrote:
Carpet_pissr wrote: The necessary investment is too high and the payoff is too distant. Only governments have the resources and time horizons
It seems like governments have shorter and shorter vision until all they can see is the next election. This may have always been true barring outside influence (like, say, WWII for example) but it seems particularly true today.
Tell that to China. Autocracy does have some advantages.

I would have said the same of the USSR until we all learned just how wobbly it really was. China, OTOH, is clearly a rising power and eager to demonstrate its dominance. Whether it can beat the capitalists -- particularly to lunar H3 mining -- remains to be seen. Autocracy does have some disadvantages.

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Re: US space policy

Post by GreenGoo » Tue Aug 26, 2014 3:09 pm

Kraken wrote:
GreenGoo wrote:
Kraken wrote:
Carpet_pissr wrote: The necessary investment is too high and the payoff is too distant. Only governments have the resources and time horizons
It seems like governments have shorter and shorter vision until all they can see is the next election. This may have always been true barring outside influence (like, say, WWII for example) but it seems particularly true today.
Tell that to China. Autocracy does have some advantages.

I would have said the same of the USSR until we all learned just how wobbly it really was. China, OTOH, is clearly a rising power and eager to demonstrate its dominance. Whether it can beat the capitalists -- particularly to lunar H3 mining -- remains to be seen. Autocracy does have some disadvantages.
Well yeah. I was thinking more along the lines of democracy/capitalist pairings. I'm sure Kim Jong-un (despite North Korea being the great Democratic People's Republic) has some great projects on the go.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Carpet_pissr » Tue Aug 26, 2014 3:57 pm


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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Tue Sep 16, 2014 5:31 pm

...and the big winner is (surprise!) Boeing, with $4.2B. SpaceX is the first runner-up with $2.6B. My hunch is that NASA will get more bang for its SpaceX bucks...but since Boeing is going to use off-the-shelf Atlas boosters, they should be able to plow all of their money into the capsule, so maybe they'll deliver a better ride.

It will be very interesting to see what astronauts think of the competing vehicles a few years from now.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Thu Sep 18, 2014 1:59 am

News flash: Newt Gingrich is an idiot!

OK, he's right about one thing: Boeing didn't need the subsidy. But:
despite committing to purchase some of these services from Boeing and SpaceX, NASA is still reportedly at work on its own, vastly more expensive design, the Space Launch System, in which Boeing is also involved.

To anyone who isn't a NASA employee, a NASA contractor or a U.S. senator with a protected workforce in his state, this makes no sense. NASA should not be developing its own proprietary version of capabilities it could purchase commercially at much lower cost,
False equivalency. SLS, of course, has nothing to do with low-orbit shuttles. For the record, I'm not a NASA employee, contractor, or senator. Is Newt really that clueless or is he playing to the cheap seats, and why did CNN run this drivel?

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Re: US space policy

Post by Moliere » Fri Sep 19, 2014 12:20 pm

How patent law and the dysfunctional US congress is killing private space research
But the biggest obstacle [to private research on the space station] is that NASA initially said that it would own both the patents and the data related to any research on the station, a major buzz-kill for companies interested in applied research.

In 2012, the NASA relinquished its claim on patents, but reserved the rights to research data. The move didn’t prove effective at spurring more research. Last year, NASA asked Congress to change the law governing space research to make clear that users of the laboratory retain full rights to the results of their research. “These revisions would help to alleviate commercial stakeholders’ concerns over data rights, which in turn may increase commercial utilization of the ISS,” the audit notes, but no bill has been introduced to make this change, and Congressional leaders have said it will not take up space legislation until next year.
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Re: US space policy

Post by WYBaugh » Tue Oct 28, 2014 6:52 pm

Private Antares launch goes boom

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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Tue Oct 28, 2014 7:24 pm

That's why launch pads are still way out in the middle of nowhere: Rocket science is still hard. I reckon this will hurt their competitive position vs SpaceX...NASA's not going to want to put any more ISS payloads on Antares rockets for a while, never mind astronauts.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Holman » Wed Oct 29, 2014 8:59 am

I just heard something about how the American private space industry is partially dependent on Russian engines, making it vulnerable to Moscow politics.

Also, Russian engines have a long history of blowing up on the pad.
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Re: US space policy

Post by Isgrimnur » Wed Oct 29, 2014 9:39 am

Antares
The first stage uses RP-1 (kerosene) and liquid oxygen (LOX) as propellants, powering two Aerojet AJ-26 engines, which are modified Soviet-built NK-33 engines.

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Re: US space policy

Post by raydude » Wed Oct 29, 2014 10:31 am

Holman wrote:I just heard something about how the American private space industry is partially dependent on Russian engines, making it vulnerable to Moscow politics.

Also, Russian engines have a long history of blowing up on the pad.
I wonder if this gives SpaceX an edge because they seemed to have developed their engines in house.

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Re: US space policy

Post by LordMortis » Wed Oct 29, 2014 10:45 am

Kraken wrote: Rocket science is still hard.
LOL

Quote of the day.

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Re: US space policy

Post by AWS260 » Wed Oct 29, 2014 11:43 am

Isgrimnur wrote:
The first stage uses RP-1 (kerosene) and liquid oxygen (LOX) as propellants, powering two Aerojet AJ-26 engines, which are modified Soviet-built NK-33 engines.
These are engines -- not just the design, but the actual physical engines -- built for the Soviet lunar program in the 1960s and 1970s.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Sepiche » Fri Oct 31, 2014 2:55 pm

The BBC is reporting SpaceShip 2 has crashed during a test flight, local police are reporting a crashed aircraft, and helocopters in the area are reporting wreckage with Virgin markings:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-29857182

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Re: US space policy

Post by Isgrimnur » Fri Oct 31, 2014 3:00 pm

The firm says the status of their pilots is "unknown at this time". The craft was undergoing manned testing.
:(

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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Fri Oct 31, 2014 6:11 pm

There's not really a political dimension to this since Virgin is not a NASA contractor and has no role in US space policy. It's a major setback for space tourism, though. They were hoping that SpaceShipTwo would carry its first passengers next year. Now I wonder if they will ever fly commercially.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Alefroth » Tue Jan 13, 2015 2:20 am

Wonderful.
TechCrunch wrote:That slight twinge you felt was the proper emotion. The Senator, by way of a single example, tried to reduce NASA funding to be, in his view, compliant with a Federal spending cut. His amendment failed on a party-line vote.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Tue Jan 13, 2015 2:49 am

Alefroth wrote:Wonderful.
TechCrunch wrote:That slight twinge you felt was the proper emotion. The Senator, by way of a single example, tried to reduce NASA funding to be, in his view, compliant with a Federal spending cut. His amendment failed on a party-line vote.
"something that is considered a so-called scientific theory". Oy. Somebody needs to repeat junior high.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Pyperkub » Tue Jan 13, 2015 3:26 am

Kraken wrote:
Alefroth wrote:Wonderful.
TechCrunch wrote:That slight twinge you felt was the proper emotion. The Senator, by way of a single example, tried to reduce NASA funding to be, in his view, compliant with a Federal spending cut. His amendment failed on a party-line vote.
"something that is considered a so-called scientific theory". Oy. Somebody needs to repeat junior high.
It's not quite up there with Inhofe heading up the Environmental Committee, but it's close. At least Cruz has Houston in his own state...
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Re: US space policy

Post by Enough » Tue Jan 13, 2015 8:00 pm

Pyperkub wrote:
Kraken wrote:
Alefroth wrote:Wonderful.
TechCrunch wrote:That slight twinge you felt was the proper emotion. The Senator, by way of a single example, tried to reduce NASA funding to be, in his view, compliant with a Federal spending cut. His amendment failed on a party-line vote.
"something that is considered a so-called scientific theory". Oy. Somebody needs to repeat junior high.
It's not quite up there with Inhofe heading up the Environmental Committee, but it's close. At least Cruz has Houston in his own state...
What's next appointing a committee of wolves for hen house safety?
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Re: US space policy

Post by Rip » Tue Jan 13, 2015 8:18 pm

Enough wrote:
Pyperkub wrote:
Kraken wrote:
Alefroth wrote:Wonderful.
TechCrunch wrote:That slight twinge you felt was the proper emotion. The Senator, by way of a single example, tried to reduce NASA funding to be, in his view, compliant with a Federal spending cut. His amendment failed on a party-line vote.
"something that is considered a so-called scientific theory". Oy. Somebody needs to repeat junior high.
It's not quite up there with Inhofe heading up the Environmental Committee, but it's close. At least Cruz has Houston in his own state...
What's next appointing a committee of wolves for hen house safety?
Sounds like they are learning things from the UN. Just what liberals have always desired.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Sat Jan 17, 2015 2:07 pm

Ted Cruz overseeing NASA: Eh, it's been worse.

I expect planetary exploration and earth sensing to suffer in favor of manned spaceflight, since Johnson Space Center's in his home state.

Interesting (and fact-based) conservative take on the politics of space, anyway.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Pyperkub » Sat Jan 17, 2015 2:32 pm

Kraken wrote:Ted Cruz overseeing NASA: Eh, it's been worse.

I expect planetary exploration and earth sensing to suffer in favor of manned spaceflight, since Johnson Space Center's in his home state.

Interesting (and fact-based) conservative take on the politics of space, anyway.
Good article.
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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Wed Jul 08, 2015 11:13 pm

Time to start talking about 2016 candidates.

Jeb Bush is "a space guy" (governor of Flori-duh). Ted Cruz...let us not speak his name. Marco ("Who?") Rubio, another Floridian, is bullish on Mars. "Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), on the other hand, would drastically cut funding to the space agency -- by as much as 25 percent, according to his 2014 budget." And of course we haven't heard yet from at least a dozen other R candidates, most of whom won't matter in a few months anyway. Shut up, Trump, nobody cares what you think about anything.

No data on the D side yet. Pure speculation: Clinton would support NASA commensurate with its popularity without taking a personal interest and would most likely continue Obama's asteroid rendezvous scheme purely out of inertia. Sanders...well, I find it hard to believe that space exploration is on his radar. I hope he proves me wrong.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Pyperkub » Thu Jul 09, 2015 2:12 am

It sounds like Sanders is anti-corporate space programs, pro NASA Climate research, but it doesn't look like he has anything concrete out there.
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Re: US space policy

Post by AWS260 » Thu Jul 09, 2015 9:07 am

Someone asked Sanders about NASA funding during his reddit AMA:
Q:
Hey Bernie, thanks for doing this. Huge fan in the PNW!
According to Votesmart.org in:
2012, you voted to decrease spending on space exploration
2000, you voted to decrease funding to NASA
1996, you voted to decrease budget for NASA
What, if anything, has or will convince you to provide more funding to NASA in the future?
Numerous breakthroughs in recent years and promosing technologies being developed and brought to market have made it obvious that, outer space treaty what it is, the first trillionaires will be made in space. Wouldn't it be best if the American People were part of that?

A:
I am supportive of NASA not only because of the excitement of space exploration, but because of all the additional side benefits we receive from research in that area. Sometimes, and frankly I don't remember all of those votes, one is put in a position of having to make very very difficult choices about whether you vote to provide food for hungry kids or health care for people who have none and other programs. But, in general, I do support increasing funding for NASA.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Wed Dec 16, 2015 11:15 pm

Congress unexpectedly showers NASA with money
Republican leaders in Congress released a massive budget proposal for the 2016 fiscal year — and tucked within it is a substantial budget increase for NASA. The omnibus spending bill would give the US space agency close to $19.3 billion for next year. That exceeds the Obama administration's budget request of $18.5 billion for NASA and provides the agency with $1.27 billion more than it received for 2015. The extra money means NASA has a better chance of pulling off its primary missions on schedule.
The commercial crew program, SLS, and Orion capsule are all winners...but so is planetary science. Not only are we going to Europa...we're landing there.
The Congressional budget deal to fund NASA for the fiscal year 2016 includes $1.63 billion for planetary science, of which $175 million is designated for the “Jupiter Europa clipper mission.” It has a target launch date of 2022.

But the new budget legislation does not stop there. It further stipulates, “This mission shall include an orbiter with a lander that will include competitively selected instruments and that funds shall be used to finalize the mission design concept.” In other words, it's against the law to fly the mission to Europa without a lander.
It's not often we get to post good news in this forum. NASA's administrator feels that “My scientific community, the people who do mission planning, say we need to go and do a little research with the first mission to Europa to determine whether that’s a place we want to send a lander,” Bolden said. “That’s the point of our big disagreement with Congressman Culberson right now. He wants a multibillion dollar Europa mission that has a lander on the first flight and everything. Our belief is that that is imprudent from a scientific perspective.”

But as far as I'm concerned, "They're giving us too much money to do more than we want to do" is a great problem to have. The spacecraft is supposed to launch by 2022, and since SLS will be launching it the transit time will be comparatively quick.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Lassr » Fri Dec 18, 2015 11:36 pm

We are pleased and a bit surprised.

Also funding for EUS, Exploration Upper Stage. The upper stage of SLS that would be used for exploration. We knew to keep cost down we needed to start developing that now instead of later like many in congress originally wanted.
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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Sat Dec 19, 2015 3:13 am

It's time that the quadrennial space policy question came up again. It irks me that Republicans are friendlier to NASA than Democrats are, and Obama was weak in this realm -- it's a safe bet that the lame asteroid sample/rendezvous mission will die in the next administration, unless the next president is as disinterested as Obama was. "Everyone" knows that returning to the Moon is a smarter move.

Time to start asking the candidates where they stand, anyway.

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Re: US space policy

Post by El Guapo » Tue Dec 22, 2015 12:52 pm

Kraken wrote: It's not often we get to post good news in this forum. NASA's administrator feels that “My scientific community, the people who do mission planning, say we need to go and do a little research with the first mission to Europa to determine whether that’s a place we want to send a lander,” Bolden said. “That’s the point of our big disagreement with Congressman Culberson right now. He wants a multibillion dollar Europa mission that has a lander on the first flight and everything. Our belief is that that is imprudent from a scientific perspective.”
The article I read the other day on the NASA budget (in the Atlantic, I think) said that the language on the Europa lander didn't amount to a legal mandate, but rather a firm request. In other words NASA wouldn't be violating the law if they didn't include a lander (although ignoring Congress' clearly expressed intent can be problematic, so presumably NASA is going to factor that in at least).

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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:44 pm

Oh, hello. You might be aware that there's an election coming up between two candidates who have no discernible interest in space exploration. Clinton sees it as a jobs program/political pork, and who knows what Trump would do.

So let's talk about NASA politics, shall we?

How I learned to stop worrying and love the big $60B NASA rocket

The first 9/10 of this article goes over all the reasons to be skeptical of the SLS, of which there are many. For those who won't plow through it, I'll cut to the conclusion. For those who will, I'll spoiler it.
Spoiler:
One of the SLS critics whom I most highly regard, and who is deeply plugged into Washington space policy and favors commercial space, has rationalized the rocket and Orion like this. While NASA will spend in excess of $3 billion a year for the foreseeable future on “pork” like the rocket and spacecraft, it now also spends $2 billion to $3 billion a year on commercial crew and cargo. That money goes to SpaceX and other companies that push forward more economical means of space transportation. My source views the agency’s payments on SLS and Orion as a “stupidity tax” that allows “good money” to be spent on commercial space.

At the end of the day, I don’t think SLS is inherently stupid. Certainly, I respect many of the people who work on the rocket program. The engineers have sharpened their pencils and, after the Congressional fiat, diligently moved ideas from paper in 2011 to hardware in 2016. Much hard work remains between now and the 2018 launch. But any delays to the first SLS mission will not be due to the rocket, but rather the Orion capsule and its European-built service module. NASA was assigned a job, and the agency has done it.

My five years of covering SLS in depth comes down to this: we could choose to continue to litigate past decisions and pretend we live in a world where policymakers make rational decisions. Or, we can accept the facts on the ground, which are self-evident in a place like Michoud. The SLS is a thing. It can be touched. By all accounts it is going to fly, and it will give NASA a powerful capability no other country or space agency in the world can match.

And if the SLS becomes a tool in the US spaceflight arsenal, we need to hold those responsible for its existence accountable. If Congress won’t cancel SLS and put the future of US rocketry into the hands of private companies, then they damned well need to use their new tool responsibly. Building a large rocket is not enough. NASA must tell the new president, Congress, and the American public what it intends to use SLS for, in detail, and how much those missions will cost. Then Congress must write a check. Failing that, the critics were right all along—and we should just give Michoud back to the muskrats.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Rip » Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:48 pm

We will launch a manned mission to Mars AND make Mars pay for it.

Before you ask. Donald Trump loves Martian people, and Martian people love Donald Trump.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Punisher » Mon Sep 12, 2016 3:24 pm

Rip wrote:We will launch a manned mission to Mars AND make Mars pay for it.

Before you ask. Donald Trump loves Martian people, and Martian people love Donald Trump.
however, after we make contact we will make them build a wall around the earth.
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Re: US space policy

Post by hepcat » Mon Sep 12, 2016 4:12 pm

Also, we'll need to stamp the name "Trump" on their foreheads in gold leaf lettering.
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Re: US space policy

Post by GreenGoo » Mon Sep 12, 2016 4:22 pm

I'll just point out that SpaceX exploded again just over a week ago. Private industry seems to be struggling. Maybe it's the taxpayer dollars they're using? Maybe private sector dollars are more stable?

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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Mon Dec 05, 2016 12:06 am

Like virtually every other governmental endeavor, US space policy is uncertain while we all wait to find out what Trump believes. Here's a good digest of the decisions that need to be made soon.
Blast off: five calls Trump has to make

The Space Launch System
This enormously expensive, gigantic rocket is eating up money. Trump could see it as a flagship of American national power, or cancel it and turn to the private companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX, who are developing large rockets of their own.

The journey to Mars
A human trip to Mars is not going to happen within a Trump presidency, but the decisions he makes could affect Nasa for decades. Trump could cancel the programme outright or use it as a rallying cry for making America great again. If he does the latter, he is going to have to find some serious cash to pump into it.

Earth observation
There seems no doubt that cuts are coming here. The only question is how much of the programme survives. Earth observation satellites could be removed completely from the Nasa budget.

Human moon missions
Trump will probably press for returning astronauts to the moon but only as a stepping stone to Mars. The level of cooperation with Russia and Europe to achieve this, however, may be lower than those partners would like.

China
The wildcard. Trump could either invite them on board the International Space Station as partners, figuring that there are commercial benefits, or he could paint them as rivals to be beaten and thus spur grandstanding Nasa projects like a return to the moon or mission to Mars.
I think we can at least assume that Obama's asteroid rendezvous is going nowhere...not that it ever looked very likely.

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Re: US space policy

Post by Kraken » Tue Feb 28, 2017 5:35 pm

Arise, thread!

The White House has leaked that Trump will call for a return of human space exploration in his address to Congress, and scuttlebutt on the same topic has surfaced in other threads lately, so maybe the topic has legs this time.

Never mind that humans in other countries are still working on crewed space missions, or that Trump hasn't appointed a NASA administrator yet, or that NASA itself is ostensibly already working toward Mars missions in the '30s -- it looks like Trump wants to put his brand on the moon.

Personally, I think that a permanent moon base is a more worthy and achievable goal than a Martian touch-and-go and a valid steppingstone to the planets if lunar operations are designed to be a servicing/fueling station for outbound missions. Obama never showed any personal interest in the space program and his policy was vague. So...as much as I'm not a Trump fan, I would theoretically welcome a redirect if there is a budget to back it up. "Theoretically" because NASA will never get anywhere if the goalposts move every 8 years, and lunar landings would certainly pre-empt the Mars plans (the hardware requirements are very different), and because Trump would be in it purely for showmanship. If we'd stuck with Bush's Constellation/Orion program, we'd be well on our way to lunar operations already.

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