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mwflyer

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People also tend to forget that, RIGHT NOW, the US has a reusable spaceplane that can stay on orbit for years, and autonomously re-enter and land at a chosen base.
The United States is not a spacefaring country. In 1972, we could put a man on the moon. In 2014, we can't put a person in orbit. We have to hitchhike on other countries' spacecraft. The X-37 is a wonderful monument to the power of robotics. But it doesn't make the US a spacefaring nation.

So when somebody in the US says, "If we can put a man on the moon...", they've lost the argument. It took 11 years for the US to get to the moon the first time (work really started in 1958. Kennedy didn't pull that deadline out of the blue in '61.) I don't think it could be done in 20 years now. The problem isn't the technology. The problem is the will.
 

Wanttaja

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The United States is not a spacefaring country. In 1972, we could put a man on the moon. In 2014, we can't put a person in orbit. We have to hitchhike on other countries' spacecraft. The X-37 is a wonderful monument to the power of robotics. But it doesn't make the US a spacefaring nation.
It's not our first space-flight hiatus; it's not even our longest space-flight hiatus. If one of the NASA CCP capsules flies on schedule (ha!), the gap in US capability will equal that between Apollo-Soyuz and the first Shuttle flight.

So when somebody in the US says, "If we can put a man on the moon...", they've lost the argument. It took 11 years for the US to get to the moon the first time (work really started in 1958. Kennedy didn't pull that deadline out of the blue in '61.) I don't think it could be done in 20 years now. The problem isn't the technology. The problem is the will.
But the basis for the will is a *reason* to do it. In the '60s, it was the national paranoia about Russia, and the media-supported "Space Race". In the 70s, it was the dying embers of the space race coupled with NASA's insistence that the Space Transportation System (Shuttle) would offer bimonthly trips to orbit at $100/pound cost. Russian manned systems were basically designed to be operated remotely. The Russian Shuttle made one flight...with no one on board (and did a go-around and return for landing, when crosswinds affected its approach. The US shuttle couldn't do that....).

The big problem is, there has never really been a financial incentive for putting humans into space. In the late '50s and early '60s, chimpanzees offered more on-orbit processing capability per pound than the primitive computers of the day. As spacecraft operations got more intense, humans offered a similar advantage.

But...they were never really needed, except for prestige.

Sure, humans are *still* smarter than computers. But space operations mostly require rote reactions to pre-planned scenarios...and computers are as good as humans, in those cases. Could a computer have unlocked the feather early on SS2? Sure! But you can test the dickens out of software/hardware, you can pile on the corner conditions and verify its proper operation across the envelope. And if it does unlock the feather, you've got telemetry and diagnostics to look at to help you figure out why. Will we ever know why SS2's unlock lever was moved when it was? Probably not.

To be hard-headed about it, there's no decent Return on Investment (ROI) for manned space. 99% of the things you need to do in space can be done at half the cost or less, if you don't have to keep an occupant safe, support their existence on orbit, and return them safely to Earth. Hubble? Sure, it was saved by a second shuttle flight fitting the modified lens, and additional shuttle maintenance flights kept it going. But overall, it probably would have been cheaper to build five vehicles instead of one, and add Deltas or Atlases to the production lines as needed when you wanted to launch them.

National will does overcome concerns on ROI, but it's difficult to generate. Strip space travel of the emotional coloring, and it's a hard sell. I-39 is crumbling between Springfield and Shelbyville... do you want to spend $20M to repave it, or add that allocation to $20B more to send a clean-cut American to wave a flag from L-5?

Ron Wanttaja
 

Highplains

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It's really not the money, after all, the money never leaves the ground. But if does have a huge impact on engineering resources which are finite. Fortunately the Japanese were able to satisfy consumer needs with cheap cars and TV's, while we concentrated on Aerospace and semiconductors. The post Reagan boom of the 90's was largely fueled by the tech boom generated by large numbers of engineers and techniques transferred from defense work into the commercial sector.
 

WonderousMountain

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A ballistic trajectory with a long power off orbit/cruise could easily be more fuel efficient than constantly opposing head pressure to use the old term. As for how to get from very ineffective to the logical choice well that's the trick isn't it.

LuPi
 

Topaz

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Manned space gets you these things:

- Faster science return.
- More flexible science return.
- Larger/more reliable space boosters that also facilitate bigger/better unmanned missions.

And, ultimately, there are two reasons that manned space has to happen, regardless of the logic of unmanned space:

1) We need to go. The human race could've sat tight in Africa. Or Europe. Or Asia. No, we went out and explored. With our own two eyes, own two hands, our own two feet. Unmanned probes have returned an incredible trove of information, and I would never cut that program back. But it's not the same as being there. That's a philosophical thing, and sure, it costs a lot of money and you can't measure it with ROI. But I think it's the most important aspect of the space program, top to bottom. The easier access to space becomes, the more this will become important, not less. Right now, we're in the stage of exploration exemplified by the first little boats that paddled or sailed to the British Isles. We're not even at the level of the first Viking voyages to Nova Scotia, let alone the later European explorers. Space exploration is just beginning.

2) Somewhere, "out there", is a comet or asteroid with our name on it. Yes, there is. Sooner or later, there will be a great big bulls-eye painted on the Earth, and despite NASA's nice little press releases, we aren't even near the technology needed to divert one. Sure, we need to invest in developing that technology. But the easiest and best way to make sure the human race continues is to have a "backup" - make us a two-world race and civilization. Our global economy and infrastructure is so fragile that it wouldn't even take a Chicxulub-scale event to wipe us out.

I don't discount unmanned space, and we need to keep that program vibrant and strong to act as the scouts for later manned missions that they properly should be. It's not a zero-sum game. We need both.
 

bmcj

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Manned space gets you these things:

- Faster science return.
- More flexible science return.
- Larger/more reliable space boosters that also facilitate bigger/better unmanned missions.

And, ultimately, there are two reasons that manned space has to happen, regardless of the logic of unmanned space:

1) We need to go. The human race could've sat tight in Africa. Or Europe. Or Asia. No, we went out and explored. With our own two eyes, own two hands, our own two feet. Unmanned probes have returned an incredible trove of information, and I would never cut that program back. But it's not the same as being there. That's a philosophical thing, and sure, it costs a lot of money and you can't measure it with ROI. But I think it's the most important aspect of the space program, top to bottom. The easier access to space becomes, the more this will become important, not less. Right now, we're in the stage of exploration exemplified by the first little boats that paddled or sailed to the British Isles. We're not even at the level of the first Viking voyages to Nova Scotia, let alone the later European explorers. Space exploration is just beginning.

2) Somewhere, "out there", is a comet or asteroid with our name on it. Yes, there is. Sooner or later, there will be a great big bulls-eye painted on the Earth, and despite NASA's nice little press releases, we aren't even near the technology needed to divert one. Sure, we need to invest in developing that technology. But the easiest and best way to make sure the human race continues is to have a "backup" - make us a two-world race and civilization. Our global economy and infrastructure is so fragile that it wouldn't even take a Chicxulub-scale event to wipe us out.

I don't discount unmanned space, and we need to keep that program vibrant and strong to act as the scouts for later manned missions that they properly should be. It's not a zero-sum game. We need both.
And the eventual need for more real estate. How many communities today started off as realtor developments in unsuitable/uninhabited areas for the profit it could generate? Our (the collective OUR) neighorhood is getting more crowded... what we need is space realtors!

(with new real estate, comes new mineral rights too)
 

BBerson

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They left Africa in search of food. I don't think there is any food on the moon. And the cost to grow food there is extreme.
Do you want my money for this?
There is plenty of moonlike desert on Earth that would grow food with less effort than the moon, Mars or any asteroid.
In the case of a disastrous asteroid impact, an underground society could survive. Or some scheme to deflect it.
But populating Mars seems ludicrous, in my opinion.
 

Autodidact

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But populating Mars seems ludicrous, in my opinion.
I think we all watch way too much TV, considering the stuff that's on the History and Science channels these days; Rods? A heretofore unseen long, thin rod-like mysterious animal with a set of wings at each end that can only be seen on video tape? oy.
 

Topaz

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They left Africa in search of food. I don't think there is any food on the moon. And the cost to grow food there is extreme.
Do you want my money for this?
Nope. I've completely lost faith in NASA or any western government agency (or group of agencies) to do anything significant in space after the ISS. It's not that there's a lack of talent or engineering skill. Our governments simply lack vision and will. At this point in time, it's looking like SpaceX is going to be the group to do it, with private money. No worries about using tax money to expand the horizons of the human race. Our current programs to very effectively spend those tax dollars back here at home can continue unabated.

There is plenty of moonlike desert on Earth that would grow food with less effort than the moon, Mars or any asteroid.
All true. But it doesn't solve any problems except producing more food. Which, when we're subsidizing our farmers to not grow food already, seems a little pointless.

In the case of a disastrous asteroid impact, an underground society could survive. Or some scheme to deflect it.
Except that, as I said before, we actually don't have, and are not anywhere near having, the technology to deflect a body of any significant size. Deflecting one of the size that could damage our civilization is completely beyond our means for any foreseeable future, despite cheerful NASA PR releases to the contrary.

Underground survival bunkers? Ummmm, okay...

DrStrangelove060Pyxurz.jpg

Please have fun explaining to the 7 billion people stuck on the surface of the Earth how it's a great thing that the 3,000 or so politicians, industry magnates, and other people of sufficient influence will carry on the human race from those nice safe bunkers while the masses burn, freeze, and starve... They'll tear the doors off with their bare hands.

But populating Mars seems ludicrous, in my opinion.
Fair enough. Don't become involved, then.

Do we need to fork this thread? Seems we've wandered pretty far afield from SS2.
 
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Jon Ferguson

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This is one of the more exciting private space ventures I've seen. Like others I wish to send out my condolences to the family of the crew that was lost and injured. Also to the people who have worked so hard to make this program a reality. I hope the visionaries that made it possible stay on track and keep moving forward. The conquest of space is a survival imperative for the human race it's as simple as that. The way forward is up and out...
 

BBerson

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Fair enough. Don't become involved, then.

Do we need to fork this thread? Seems we've wandered pretty far afield from SS2.
We are involved as taxpayers. Scaled Composites and Musk's various companies are all tapped into the federal treasury.
These are the industry magnates you mentioned.

New thread is up to you, I think I gave my opinion already.
 

Topaz

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We are involved as taxpayers. Scaled Composites and Musk's various companies are all tapped into the federal treasury.
These are the industry magnates you mentioned.
SpaceX is under contract to NASA to deliver cargo to the ISS and to develop a manned capsule to replace the capability lost when the Shuttle was retired, which it will also operate under contract as a private entity.

That's called being a vendor. They're not getting some kind of handout.
 

Jon Ferguson

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Let's start a new thread discussing the privatization of space flight. I would cheer an energetic discussion but don't want to see the memory of of the lost test pilot sullied by it.
 

bmcj

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Nope. I've completely lost faith in NASA or any western government agency (or group of agencies) to do anything significant in space after the ISS. It's not that there's a lack of talent or engineering skill. Our governments simply lack vision and will. At this point in time, it's looking like SpaceX is going to be the group to do it, with private money. No worries about using tax money to expand the horizons of the human race. Our current programs to very effectively spend those tax dollars back here at home can continue unabated.
Until Spacefaring becomes common, safe, and profitable, then the govenment will declare the need to step back in, take it over, and regulate it back to the stone age (2014).




Do we need to fork this thread? Seems we've wandered pretty far afield from SS2.
Yes, definitely. (You might want to leave post #113 with this thread, though).
 

Apollo

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We are involved as taxpayers. Scaled Composites and Musk's various companies are all tapped into the federal treasury.
These are the industry magnates you mentioned.
Just for the record: The SS1 and SS2 programs were privately funded. While Scaled Composites does have contracts with the government, their spacecraft development programs were/are commercial endeavors and not funded by taxpayers.
 
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