View Full Version : How would you prioritize NASA missions?

2006-Feb-09, 03:55 PM
Let's say, hypothetically, that you are given enough control of NASA's budget to decide where they should spend their money. What do you think is the best use of NASA's funds? Here are some ideas (not ranked), but feel free to come up with your own.... Assume that ground-based operations (SETI, etc) are not part of the budget.

-- orbital/lander mission to a particular planet
-- probe to the Kuiper Belt
-- Project Dawn to Ceres and Vesta
-- orbital telescope like the Terrestrial Planet Finder
-- manned mission to Moon, or Mars
-- the international space station
-- low-orbit delivery vehicles (like the Shuttle)
-- maintaining/replacing a general-purpose orbital scope like the Hubble
-- a probe to Europa or other potentially life-bearing areas
-- whatever else you can think of!

I will list my priorities in a follow-up post

2006-Feb-09, 04:02 PM
1. Reducing the costs to orbit.
2. TPF and similar missions, like Kepler.
3. Hubble and similar missions.
4. Europa.
5. Dawn.

2006-Feb-09, 04:13 PM
Here's how I would prioritize missions...

-- maintaining the Hubble as cost-effectively as possible (may not be)
-- an orbiter for Europa specifically designed to map the surface and measure ice thickness (for a future lander/diver)
-- getting the Terrestrial Planet Finder in orbit
-- an orbiter for Venus designed to float in the Earth-like portion of the atmosphere. Its primary purpose would be to return climate data and test for potential atmospheric life
-- an orbiter for 2003 UB313 (since it is approaching its closest point)
-- project Dawn for Ceres and Vesta

2006-Feb-09, 05:28 PM
1. Temporarily abandon further construction of ISS. Maintenance flights will continue until launch of CEV with minimum 1 year endurance on station. Once operational, multiple CEV lifeboats will remain on station at ISS to support further construction operations by STS.

2. Mothball/retire Atlantis, use Discovery for minimal flight operations, including one more trip to Hubble, and place Endeavour on alert/ready status on pad 2 for every launch of Discovery not destined for ISS. After CEV development complete, multiple CEVs to be maintained in ready state on the ground for rapid vehicle assembly and launch to secure safe return of stranded STS crew. If possible, and deemed safe by NASA mission controllers, CEV alternatively to carry necessary repair equipment to return shuttle to flight worthiness on station for return to Earth.

3. Put first launch of CEV on target for 2008-2009.

4. Put DAWN and TPF missions on a 4 year hold or secure ESA/outside funding to continue development. Place acceptance for proposals of new robotic missions on a 5 year hold. Maintain current robotic operations at full capacity.

5. Re-activate development of Mars Telecommunications Orbiter.

6. Accellerate development of Return to Moon hardware to secure a 2011-2012 launch date for Lunar orbit reconaissance mission. Landing date to be accellerated to 2015.

7. Secure development for LEO launch vehicle with a capacity up to 100 tons.

Others to follow when I have more time.

2006-Feb-09, 10:14 PM
1. Development of SD HLLV
2. CEV
3. The Stick
4. Hubble service--then cancel STS
5. place the alt.spacers in the Gulag

2006-Feb-09, 10:24 PM
Cassini-esque orbiters for both Uranus and Neptune would be fairly high on my list.

Other priorities include:

- Venus atmosphere and/or surface rover.

- Rovers for Titan.

- Rover for Europa.

- Fix and/or replace Hubble.


2006-Feb-10, 06:13 AM
--ISS: I have mixed feelings about this thing. True, I think it's a horrendous waste of money, but international participation has sort of painted us into a corner with it, IMO. I'd finish it.

--Shuttle: As planned, use it to fix Hubble, finish the station, then round file it.

For a while, I've felt that our unmanned exploration program should be as broad as possibe, investigating many different bodies, rather than our seemingly relentless fixation on Mars (no offense to Mars lovers). My wish list would include:

--Full funding for Dawn.

--A replacement for the lost CONTOUR mission.

--A Europa orbiter, preferably with a mini-lander.

--A series of stationary, seismic cum weather monitoring stations (at least three) on Mars.

--A Titan lander if there was enough money left over.

2006-Feb-10, 01:12 PM
see my reply on the future of space travel ,we could us the ISS as a space ship to get to the moon and mars , it is already half way built and working ,all you need are extra modules added which should not be a problem such as fuel , booster tanks , landers etc , I am not saying landing the ISS but using it as a ferry to the moon or mars with the moon or mars already supplyed by previous unmanned missions of ready to use prefabs (housing and food water etc )

2006-Feb-11, 10:28 AM
ISS was never designed for such a purpose, though. Even if it were - given its mechanical track record, I don't think that'd be a wise idea.

Ara Pacis
2006-Feb-11, 08:34 PM
1- Convert STS to SDLV as a stop-gap measure to developing HLLV
2- Finish ISS with SDLV and HST repair, if possible
3- Deploy HLLV
4- missions to establish robotic base on the moon including mole-digger and telescopes
5- express missions to establish robotic base on mars, including a flyer
6- express missions to establish robotic base on Europa, including orbiter and submersible
7- express missions to establish robotic base on Ceres, including telescopes

I think the most important thing is to reduce access to space and to increase lifting capacity per launch. If Heavy Lift seems like overkill for many commercial sats, then perhaps the excess mass/volume for each launch could include research subsats that will be subsidized by government or business. I could imagine Hollywood spending a few hundred thousand to send a HD cam into space to capture re-entry for a blockbuster and/or stock footage. Perhaps we could allow cremated remains to be spread via de-orbit.

As much as I like planetary science of the solar system, I would postpone some things for a couple years in order to drive the price down and capacity up. Think of the benefits. If 10 year mission is delayed 5 years, we might be able to increase both the number of instruments and transit velocity by including an ion engine and higher initial velocity, possibly resulting in the same or a sooner interception date.

I'd like to list non-science missions, but I think they would not be paid for by NASA, so I didn't include them. I would expect cheaper access to space to include privately funded imaging sats, subsidized academic research sats, and privately funded space tourism stations.

I also did not include any re-entry vehicles. NASA will make their own RVs for their own purposes, but the larger slower variety might find little utility for a remote-science-oriented NASA. I think they could be developed privately and lofted on NASA developed HLLVs. The high cost right now is launch-to-orbit, and it will probably remain the most expensive part of space access for the foreseeable future. So let private companies, like Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic, develop re-usable multi-passenger RVs.

Macro Mouse
2006-Feb-11, 09:47 PM
Some missions I want to see in the next 2 decades, in no particualr order:

-Venus Atmospheric Orbiter
-Continuation of Earth orbiters necessary for weather monitoring and high res satellite imagery
-Continuation of Hubble (if cost permits)
-Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres
-Another mission (or perhaps extended Dawn mission) to Hygeia and Pallas
-Europa Orbiter/Lander
-Europa Driller/Submarine (following the orbiter)
-Titan Rover(s)
-Uranus Orbiter (or at least a good flyby)
-Neptune Orbiter
-Mission(s) to other large KBOs (UB313, FY9, EL61, Quaoar, Sedna etc)
-Terrestrial Planet Finder
-Terrestrial Planet Imager (following the finder)

2006-Feb-11, 09:57 PM
2. Future propulsion science (fission, fusion, etc) for interplanetary and interstellar missions (also manned).

These two need accompanying unmanned missions to happen first:
3. Permanent base on moon.
4. permanent base on mars

5. Europa