PDA

View Full Version : NASA outlines moon, Mars missions



Jim
2003-Nov-19, 09:08 PM
Efforts to resume shuttle missions next year are just the first step in an emerging strategy by NASA that includes human missions to the moon and Mars, agency officials told aerospace professionals Tuesday.

The strategy includes efforts to finish assembly of the U.S.-led international space station using the shuttle fleet and development of a four-passenger orbital space plane, space nuclear power and propulsion devices, and a large, expendable cargo rocket.

Always assuming, of course, proper funding from Congress.

http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/front/2233141

Glom
2003-Nov-19, 09:17 PM
It was a little vague. Where's the stirring visions of ultra-heavy lift boosters launching massive luxurious modules into orbit to build a superstation? In other words, where's the talk of ressurecting Skylab?

daver
2003-Nov-19, 10:56 PM
The large cargo rocket caught my eye--40 tons, eventually up to 3x that. Also, that they hope to select the DESIGN by 2008--that's (rant rant) five years before they even hope to have a piece of paper! This does not give me a happy feeling.

[any historians out there? I remember an extremely short design time for the Saturn V's first stage engines, but i'd like to confirm it somewhere]

Frankly, if they were serious about actually doing something, i'd expect the large rocket would be their first priority. Actually, a large rocket family (no stretches, no solid strap-ons). And not a cargo rocket, a man-rated (whatever that means) rocket. Big, honking kerosene/oxygen first stage, higher performance upper stages (wait, I'm getting a vision. Four dirigible nozzles surrounding one fixed center nozzle in the first stage; we'll save money on the second and third stage by designing only one hydrogen/oxygen rocket; use a cluster of two for the second stage and a single engine for the third stage. And we should give it some vaguely astronomical name--say, name it after a planet or something. A big planet).

DreadCthulhu
2003-Nov-20, 12:16 AM
Hmmmm - Jupiter sounds like a good name :) :wink: :lol: :lol:

Glom
2003-Nov-20, 12:22 AM
According to Encyclopedia Astronautica (http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/saturnv.htm), the design began in 1953.

I agree. Bring back the Saturns. Bring back Skylab. And bring along a whole load of nuclear rockets to boot.

Sever
2003-Nov-20, 03:52 AM
Bring back NOVA. But why Skylab???

Glom
2003-Nov-20, 12:00 PM
Do you know of a better space station?

Glom
2003-Nov-21, 10:32 PM
I thought we were supposed to be ranting about Skylab?

somerandomguy
2003-Nov-23, 09:10 PM
I'm a little fuzzy on this. Is there really any hope of getting clearance to use nuclear power in space? Has any government or quasi-government entity even explored the possibility? Is NERVA still in anyone's file cabinet?

wtgmatt
2003-Nov-25, 01:15 AM
I'm a little fuzzy on this. Is there really any hope of getting clearance to use nuclear power in space? Has any government or quasi-government entity even explored the possibility? Is NERVA still in anyone's file cabinet?

Well, nuclear power is already used in space, just not in the same sense that it is on Earth. Nuclear power in space (presently) relies on the heat generated by plutonium decay to generate electricity. This works for small spacecraft (i.e. Pioneer 10/11), but it's a very inefficient process, yielding about 10W electrical power for every 100W of heat generated. Right now solar power still is by far the best option for Earth-orbiting satellites.

The problems arise when you travel farther away from the Sun and solar power becomes inadequate. Even large solar arrays such as what the ISS uses (and will use, for the ones that aren't up yet) are relatively compact and lightweight to launch, whereas lifting enough plutonium to power the ISS would be costly (not to mention the radiation problems).

I don't think we'll be seeing real nuclear power in space anytime soon. Right now it's just too risky, although people used to say that about nuclear submarines and ships. Nuclear anything in space also tends to get a bad PR rap, although it's not deserved in my opinion.

somerandomguy
2003-Nov-25, 03:47 AM
I don't think we'll be seeing real nuclear power in space anytime soon. Right now it's just too risky, although people used to say that about nuclear submarines and ships. Nuclear anything in space also tends to get a bad PR rap, although it's not deserved in my opinion.

Right, I guess I should have said nuclear propulsion. That's what I was talking about anyway, the PR rap. I guess I'm wondering whether that's limited to the general public or is there really a significant obstacle to that concept?

I've just finished David West Reynolds' "Apollo: The Epic Journey to the Moon," which laid out Von Braun's original Integrated Space Program. Talk about capturing your imagination -- moon bases, lunar-orbit space stations, a Mars mission powered by a NERVA rocket, why wasn't this stuff pursued? :cry: Imagine, we might already be to the point of examining the cultural ramifications of life on other planets ... For a kid my age, for whom the space program begins and ends with the Shuttle, it's been a thrilling and frustrating history lesson. I hope we get our act together and start exploring something soon, because this civilization is getting pretty bogged down.

(end of rant)

ToSeek
2003-Nov-25, 05:43 PM
I've just finished David West Reynolds' "Apollo: The Epic Journey to the Moon," which laid out Von Braun's original Integrated Space Program. Talk about capturing your imagination -- moon bases, lunar-orbit space stations, a Mars mission powered by a NERVA rocket, why wasn't this stuff pursued?

$$

If the NASA budget had kept the same proportion of the federal budget as it had in the 60's, they'd have about $75 billion a year to play with instead of the $12 billion they've actually got. And we'd probably have everything on von Braun's list.

Eric McLoughlin
2003-Nov-29, 01:12 PM
NASA peak year for spending was 1966! Since then they've had to cope with serious budgetary constraints. Unfortunately, I don't think we'll ever see a return to the "money no object" scenario of the early to mid 60s. The USA was essentially on a war footing at that time as far as spaceflight was concerned. Once it was pretty clear that the Soviets were not going to "beat" the Americans to the moon, the purse strings began to tighten.

However, I'm all in favour of resurrecting older space technology. The resources required to build a Saturn 5 today would be a lot less than back in 1962-66 when they were originally being designed and built. In addition, a lot of new technologies and materials have come along in the past 40 years so these boosters would be even lighter and therefore able to carry bigger payloads than they could originally. I would foresee a whole family of Saturn derivatives both manned and unmanned carrying all sorts of payloads into earth orbit or blasting modules and components to the moon and Mars.

Why not?

Anthrage
2003-Nov-29, 02:49 PM
I've always found it particularly sad that we have lost the ability, as a species, to visit our natural satellite. It's a good thing there is little of interest happening on the moon, because if a representative of intelligent life from elsewhere, an official 'ambassador' say, were to land on the moon as a safe meeting place and wait for our representative for example...they would be waiting a long time. It's really quite embarassing.

Considering the number of 'cosmic' hazards life on earth faces, it could even be seen as irresponsible that we have let things slip so badly. Having all of humanity's eggs in one basket is terribly short-sighted, and when considered either from a NASA/budget perspective or a global spending potential perspective, we have collectively done a poor job advancing our capabilities, and completely killed any momentum that was built up somewhat ironically in the space race/cold war.

There is one bright side I suppose, with the renewed interest, and hopefully commitment, we are seeing. Often it was an argument between earth orbit, the moon and mars. At least we are now talking about development in all 3 areas. If we somehow manage a technology line that can be applied in all cases, perhaps we can indeed manage significant, substantial and meaningful advancement in our capabilities. When one considers what the efforts of our species, individually or at large, are spent on, it would be nice to see something a bit more positive and with greater scope occur. :)

Madcat
2003-Nov-29, 10:18 PM
What I find particularly upsetting is that now we're learning more about the Jovian moons, and they're looking like they might actually be hospitably to some sort of life... and we don't even have anything on the drawing board that could take us out there for a look. If we found that Europa probably had an ocean in the sixties I wonder if we'd have a colony there now. :cry:

Anthrage
2003-Nov-30, 04:47 AM
Exactly. In fact, I have no doubt that at some level, the lack of urgency was a part of the consciousness which drove, or failed to drive, our efforts in this regard. It is both remarkable and sad that our abilities are largely a product of money, the budget, and not an inherent limitation. Unlike many areas of human endeavour, throwing money at the 'problem' would indeed have a significant impact. There has simply been a lack of interest, of commitment, at the level where decision are made. You can bet that if there were barrels of oil, ready to be shipped, stacked a mile high on the dark side of the moon...things would be different.

There is hope yet though. From multiple quarters as well, for a change. Soon enough those who are making these decisions will experience change, both in terms of the individual existing positions and in the larger sense of domain. NASA and the other such agencies will no longer be the only game in town. Hopefully, the few decades of lost time will not be significant, when all is said and done.