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View Full Version : Should the US Congress extend the INKSNA waiver?



Warren Platts
2008-Sep-01, 01:16 PM
The Iran, North Korea, Syria Nonproliferation Act was designed to prevent technology transfers to countries that transfer nuclear technology to places like Iran. So, the Act is aimed primarily at Russia. Thus, there had to be a waiver so that the US and Russia can cooperate on the ISS. Most specifically, the waiver is necessary so that Americans can purchase rides on the Soyuz spacecraft.

The waiver is scheduled to run out in 2011, however.

Moreover, as the McCain letter alluded, recent events certainly do not predispose the Congress to be in a mood to renew the waiver.

So what should the US Congress do?

(a) renew the waiver;

(b) don't renew the waiver and extend the life of the shuttle until Ares comes on line;

(c) don't renew the waiver, even if it means that Americans won't be in orbit for a few years.

stutefish
2008-Sep-02, 06:27 PM
Don't renew the waiver.

In fact, let the entire US publically-funded space program lapse entirely.

The military has its own space affairs well in hand.

Private commercial interests will exploit space to the fullest, just as soon as they find something commercially interesting in space to explot.

And space science can use all of that money freed up by the elimination of a government bureaucracy, to get grants for research projects and pay private contractors for launch and mission control services.

Argos
2008-Sep-02, 06:41 PM
From Wayne Hale's Blog (http://blogs.nasa.gov/cm/blog/waynehalesblog/posts/post_1219932905350.html), on why it is not economically possible to proceed with the Shttle program after 2010:

A lot of things that go into the shuttle build up are specialty items. Electronics parts that nobody makes any more (1970's vintage stuff). (...)You might think that simple things like bolts and screws, wire, filters, and gaskets could be bought off the shelf some where, but that thinking would merely prove how little you know about the shuttle.(...)

So, just for the sake of argument, lets see what would happen if somehow we decided to fly the shuttle some more flights? (...)

Worth a reading.

It seems the US space program is caught between a rock and a hard place...

Warren Platts
2008-Sep-02, 08:42 PM
Good link, Argos.

That's why I keep saying, let's save our money, consolidate our resources, and FLY TO THE MOON! The Moon is where it's at! We get a station going on the Moon, everyone will forget about the ISS.

timb
2008-Sep-02, 09:03 PM
Don't renew the waiver.

In fact, let the entire US publically-funded space program lapse entirely.

The military has its own space affairs well in hand.

Private commercial interests will exploit space to the fullest, just as soon as they find something commercially interesting in space to explot.

And space science can use all of that money freed up by the elimination of a government bureaucracy, to get grants for research projects and pay private contractors for launch and mission control services.

I like your thinking.

Solfe
2008-Sep-03, 02:58 PM
Let the waver lapse, elevate the funding for the shuttle and Ares to the same level or higher than what we spend on all other things combined.

As much as I dislike tax hikes, I think we need to go "all in" on the sciences or just quit.

Solfe

djellison
2008-Sep-03, 05:56 PM
The waiver must continue. Russia and the US collaborated on the ASTP in the midst of the Cold War - and the Georgia issue is nothing like as heightened or dangerous as the Cold War was.

The ISS MUST be finished. Fact.

tusenfem
2008-Sep-03, 06:14 PM
I voted no, the sooner the ISS burns up in the atmosphere, the better.

djellison
2008-Sep-03, 10:06 PM
That would be the end of international collaboration in manned spaceflight.

The same international collaboration that kept the ISS alive after the Columbia accident.

The same international collaboration being sought to help NASA return to the moon.

Are you sure that's what you want?

stutefish
2008-Sep-03, 11:30 PM
That would be the end of international collaboration in manned spaceflight.
I doubt it.

International relations ebb and flow, rise and fall. I doubt a shifting of US aerospace priorities away from participating in the ISS would have a major impact on international collaboration in manned spaceflight, over the mid-term, and would barely rate a footnote in the history books, over the long term, and would probably have only a mild chilling effect on international collaboration in manned spaceflight over the short term.

I also have serious issues with the implication that manned spaceflight, given the current state of the art, is some kind of be-all, end-all holy grail that must be safeguarded at all costs against even the briefest lapses in full-throttle activity.

The greater and lesser powers take a break from joint manned spaceflight projects for a couple years, maybe half a decade or so? Oh noes!

Ronald Brak
2008-Sep-03, 11:46 PM
I voted no, the sooner the ISS burns up in the atmosphere, the better.

Good idea, Australia needs more Skylabtastic souveniers to sell on Ebay.

KaiYeves
2008-Sep-04, 12:19 AM
Yes. (Don't kill me for saying this, but I absolutely agree with djellison.)
*Quietly tiptoes away*

Chip
2008-Sep-04, 12:55 AM
International cooperation is essential to serious space exploration. Eventual large scale exploration also demands a large central government.

In "Inherit the Wind" written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, the character Henry Drummond (based on Clarence Darrow) sums it up in a way which is also analogous to this topic:

Henry Drummond:
"Progress has never been a bargain. You have to pay for it. Sometimes I think there's a man who sits behind a counter and says, All right, you can have a telephone but you lose privacy and the charm of distance. Madam, you may vote but at a price. You lose the right to retreat behind the powder puff or your petticoat. Mister, you may conquer the air but the birds will lose their wonder and the clouds will smell of gasoline."

Private commercial interests will never exploit space "to the fullest" because profitability in space is limited to orbiting satellites and not hard abstract science.

To paraphrase Drummond: Yes, we can have a base on the moon and even colonists living on Mars, but this will only come through a large federal government with citizen support, budgeted by equitable taxing and spending on large scale projects.

djellison
2008-Sep-04, 07:27 AM
I also have serious issues with the implication that manned spaceflight, given the current state of the art, is some kind of be-all, end-all holy grail that must be safeguarded at all costs against even the briefest lapses in full-throttle activity.

LMFAO - sorry - given the flack I get because of the website I run - that is utterly hilarious.

Can you not see that if nations work together on projects like the ISS, then it's precisely BECAUSE they are working together that one can take a hit of migrating to a new launch system, but still be a part of the project.

stutefish
2008-Sep-04, 04:39 PM
International cooperation is essential to serious space exploration. Eventual large scale exploration also demands a large central government.
I think too much of your claims depends on your definitions of "serious space exploration", "eventual", and "large scale exploration". I think too much also depends on what, exactly, you deem "essential".

When I think of "eventual", I think that eventually everything tends to get cheaper and more accessible. Columbus' transatlantic voyage did require a "large central government", and can be considered an example of "large scale [terrestrial] exploration". It can also be considered "eventual", from the point of view of the ancient Greeks.

Today, however, private individuals, research groups, hobbyist clubs, and commercial enterprises can trivially engage in "large scale exploration" of the Atlantic ocean that dwarfs Columbus' achievements, with little to no contribution from "large central government" of any kind.

Certainly if we wanted to send a Columbian expedition to Mars right now, the unification of most (all?) the world's human and material wealth under a central planning authority would be necessary to achieve the goal.

But I think that the "eventual" manned Mars missions may very well take place at a future time when the organizational overhead and relative cost are much lower.

It's exactly this kind of assumption, that the current state of affairs is the ultimate state of affairs, and that all possible resources must be allocated right now, in order to achieve this or that aerospace dream, that I have a problem with.

I also have a problem with the assumption that this or that aerospace dream is truly so important as to justify the first assumption.

Sure, international cooperation and/or a large central government is necessary for what you would like to see done. But is what you would like to see done truly necessary, right now? Does it really justify the costs you acknowledge must be paid, or the level of concern you express whenever the tide of human history ebbs away from it?

stutefish
2008-Sep-04, 04:41 PM
Can you not see that if nations work together on projects like the ISS, then it's precisely BECAUSE they are working together that one can take a hit of migrating to a new launch system, but still be a part of the project.
I can see that point quite clearly. What I'm questioning is the severity of "the hit" in terms of the rise and fall of nation-states, and the value of being "a part of the project" in those same terms.

djellison
2008-Sep-04, 04:54 PM
You're having a different debate. You clearly don't think the ISS is worth it - so the argument about INKSNA becomes moot.

stutefish
2008-Sep-04, 06:05 PM
You're having a different debate. You clearly don't think the ISS is worth it - so the argument about INKSNA becomes moot.
Heh. Maybe I am having a different debate.

But I don't actually think the ISS is not "worth it" (whatever it means).

Honestly, I think aerospace R&D is awsome. I really like it. I'm glad it gets done. I'm wowed by Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and all the rest. I love the Space Shuttle. I'm saddened by the loss of Skylab. Kaguya gives me chills. Even failures and cancellations like the N-1 and Buran projects hold an honored place in my heart. I look forward to a future of manned interplanetary travel, Mars colonies, and all the rest of it.

I like the ISS. I like it a lot. I'm glad it's there. In principle and in practice, it pleases me greatly. I see every supply trip, every man-hour spent aboard it, as another giant leap for the individuals involved, and another small step towards mankind's future among the stars.

But idealism is not my only personality trait. I'm also a curmudgeon, a cynic, a gradualist, and that AEsopian fox who couldn't reach the (allegedly) sour grapes.

So I see a whole buffet of aerospace endeavors, throughout the world, in both private and public sectors, ebbing and flowing towards that starfaring future which I firmly believe is assured for our species.

In this frame of mind, considering the examples of history, the current state of the art, and the present situation in world affairs, I have serious questions about the aerospace policy priorities of many in this thread, which which imply that the ISS is in some way our "last best hope" for the future we dream of.

I think we all share the dream, wholeheartedly. And we all appreciate the ISS for various reasons. I just don't share the concern for the place of the ISS in realizing that dream. I like the ISS. I want the ISS. I'm just not convinced that I need the ISS.

Warren Platts
2008-Sep-19, 01:24 AM
An interesting Russian take on the recent ISS troubles:

http://mnweekly.ru/national/20080911/55345879.html


[Viktor Rami*shevsky, deputy head of Roscosmos] also said "no one will abandon the station if for some reason one of the states stops visiting it."

The Americans are not eager to reveal the details of their space cooperation with Russia. They have plenty of irons in the fire as it is, and the Space Shuttle program seems to be just one of them.

But what has all this to do with ISS activities, at least from an American point of view? In all probability, nothing. Although the American administration declared the station a "national laboratory," NASA has set its sights elsewhere. The Moon and Mars dominate NASA's politics and economy.

The agency is not particularly secretive about its other plans. The station's future, therefore, calls for no special consideration. A year or so ago, according to NASA officials, the agency negotiated with some public and private bodies for the use of the American segment of the station for micro-gravity research, starting in 2010.

Well done, the Americans. Building high-end premises and letting them out to prospective users, while they themselves proceed further.

And questions about what their partners should do and who really needs the ISS are not for them to answer.

stutefish
2008-Sep-19, 03:22 PM
Wow. I agree wholeheartedly with that "Russian take".

Doodler
2008-Sep-19, 04:20 PM
Personally, I voted no. Given recent developments in Russia, I think we could do with an extended break from close dealings with them.

The ISS may some day live up to its potential, but the complexities of international politics play havok in what needs to be an absolutely orderly process in an utterly hostile environment.


I agree with the sentiment that major international cooperation is needed to do serious space exploration on the scale that we might dream, but the reality is, the world isn't ready for that kind of cooperation, and may never be within our lifetimes. When we're ready, space will be there, for now, its better that we pursue our own agendas until that time arrives.

AndreasJ
2008-Sep-19, 09:23 PM
I don't necessarily think the ISS is a good idea, but if it should be abandoned it should be abandoned for reasons of a better space program, not because a political kerkuffle disinclines the American congress to extend the waiver. Voted extend.

Warren Platts
2008-Sep-19, 09:47 PM
I don't necessarily think the ISS is a good idea, but if it should be abandoned it should be abandoned for reasons of a better space program, not because a political kerkuffle disinclines the American congress to extend the waiver. Voted extend.
That's the whole point! This whole Georgia thing represents a golden opportunity to get out from underneath the ISS with a clear conscience in order to concentrate resources to further lunar exploration!

Let the Russians have it! Space stations have always been their forte. It's what they do! God Bless Them!

But the Moon is what America does. My greatest fear (beyond world destruction from made-in-Europe atom smashers) is that the politicians are going to sink the INKSA waiver, but then reinstate the shuttle. Without fresh infusions of cash comparable to what they're giving Fanny and Freddy and AIG et al., the money to keep waving the flag on the ISS is going to have to come out of the lunar exploration budget. Waving the flag on the ISS is not worth one day's delay in returning to the Moon in my book.

By the way folks: Congress has one month to renew the INKSNA waiver. . . . :boohoo:

AndreasJ
2008-Sep-20, 07:45 AM
That's the whole point! This whole Georgia thing represents a golden opportunity to get out from underneath the ISS with a clear conscience in order to concentrate resources to further lunar exploration!
That, it seems to me, is a curious notion of "clear conscience". The honorable thing to do, if America wants to get out of the ISS, is to say so clearly without trying to put the blame on the Russians.

(Oh, and for what it's worth, concentrating resources resources to further lunar exploration is not my idea of a better space program. I'd rather see America spend resources on many unmanned projects than concentrating on a single, very expensive, manned return to the Moon.)

Warren Platts
2008-Sep-20, 01:25 PM
(Oh, and for what it's worth, concentrating resources resources to further lunar exploration is not my idea of a better space program. I'd rather see America spend resources on many unmanned projects than concentrating on a single, very expensive, manned return to the Moon.)Not a big fan of geology, eh, Andreas? Well, then, would a 350 meter asteroid get your attention? The technology derived from going to the Moon will easily allow us manned access to a number of NEO asteroids. Heck, the delta v to several of them is less than going to the Moon--just ask Van Rijn! Since NEO asteroids represent an existential threat to the whole planet, I think it would behoove us to learn about them as much as possible. This can best be accomplished by sending actual geologists to such asteroids--and that can best be accomplished by going to the Moon first. :)

Ronald Brak
2008-Sep-20, 01:33 PM
This can best be accomplished by sending actual geologists to such asteroids--and that can best be accomplished by going to the Moon first.

I'm pretty sure that the best way to send people to an asteroid would be to send people to an asteroid. I visited some on Wednesday.

Warren Platts
2008-Sep-20, 01:48 PM
I'm pretty sure that the best way to send people to an asteroid would be to send people to an asteroid. I visited some on Wednesday.
Not much for lunar geology either, eh, Ron? Well, are you interested in the early history of the Earth and the Solar System? Because the Moon is the only body in the entire Solar System that preserves a direct record of the first billion years of the existence of Earth and the Solar System. Name one better place. Callisto? It's probably outside of Jupiter's Van Allen belt. Good idea. Let's go there first. Oh, Mercury? Boy, that's a lot of delta v, and it's a little warm down there.

Ronald Brak
2008-Sep-20, 01:53 PM
If your goal is to send people to an asteroid, then I'm pretty sure the best way to do that would be to send people to an asteroid rather than to the moon. While technology developed to send people to the moon could certainly be helpful in sending people to asteroids, technology developed to send people to asteroids would probably be even better.

Warren Platts
2008-Sep-20, 01:59 PM
If your goal is to send people to an asteroid, then I'm pretty sure the best way to do that would be to send people to an asteroid rather than to the moon. While technology developed to send people to the moon could certainly be helpful in sending people to asteroids, technology developed to send people to asteroids would probably be even better.
Really? How do you think they would be different? :confused:

Ronald Brak
2008-Sep-20, 02:08 PM
Really? How do you think they would be different?

Minimal gravity so no need for a landing craft. Longer travel times so better more reliable life support needed. But my point is that focusing on your main goal is the best way to achieve your main goal. It makes just as much sense to say that technology developed to send people to asteroids will be helpful in sending people to the moon as the other way around.

Warren Platts
2008-Sep-20, 03:02 PM
Minimal gravity so no need for a landing craft. Longer travel times so better more reliable life support needed. But my point is that focusing on your main goal is the best way to achieve your main goal. It makes just as much sense to say that technology developed to send people to asteroids will be helpful in sending people to the moon as the other way around.
Boy, just sending guys out in jetpacks--I'm not sure how safe that would be. Didn't that Japanese probe stop working when it "landed" on Eros? A regular lunar lander might actually work, at least for the bigger ones. And yeah, you'd probably want to bring along a BA330 at least if it's going to be a long trip. But the command module could probably be the same, and you will still need an Ares V to get everything off the ground. But yeah, I see your point. My main point is that we'll never get around to either as long as we keep farting around with the shuttle and the ISS.

Actually, I heard a rumor that Congress is going to pony up an extra $4 billion per year in order that NASA can have it's cake and eat it too. We can only hope! :)

slang
2008-Sep-25, 08:12 AM
Didn't that Japanese probe stop working when it "landed" on Eros?

Yes... it didn't. NEAR Shoemaker (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NEAR_Shoemaker) soft-crashed on Eros at its end of mission. The Japanese probe Hayabusa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hayabusa) touched down on the asteroid Itokawa, and attempted sample collection. This probe has had so much bad luck, I really hope they do well in the last leg of the mission, returning the container safely.

BTW, House passes waiver to buy more Soyuz flights (http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0809/24soyuz/). The representatives, not the good doctor. I don't know if the good doctor approves.