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Vega115
2004-Jan-07, 10:44 PM
Im curious, ive heard that the ISS is 1) overbudget (what govt funded project ISNT overbudget...besides the Human Genome Project...) and 2) waaay behind schedule.


I understand that with the shttle fleet grounded for now, it pushes construction far back...but my question is:

How far behind is the ISS? :-?

Kaptain K
2004-Jan-08, 01:07 PM
About two days farther behind than it was yesterday. :o

wedgebert
2004-Jan-08, 03:04 PM
Yes, the ISS is waaay overbudget (we kept paying for the stuff Russia was building so they could launch on time), behind schedule, and you forgot to mention it's a total waste of money.

That money would have been much better spent on useful space exploration, or my favoriate idea: lunar colonization.

ToSeek
2004-Jan-08, 03:41 PM
Yes, the ISS is waaay overbudget (we kept paying for the stuff Russia was building so they could launch on time), behind schedule, and you forgot to mention it's a total waste of money.


Having been part of numerous NASA projects, I wonder to what extent Russia was a scapegoat. The usual tendency is that almost everyone is behind schedule, but if you're the first to admit it, then the schedule slip is 100% your fault. I've heard that the Russian's problems got NASA off the hook for a number of their own.

Meanwhile, the original design of the space station called for it to be done in 1997 at a cost of about 12 billion dollars (per Astronautix (http://www.astronautix.com/craft/spaeedom.htm)). (There may even be earlier figures and lower numbers than that.)

As of now, Congress has appropriated 32 billion (http://www.floridatoday.com/news/space/stories/2003b/101503gao.htm), and obviously it's still incomplete with no definite completion date due to the shuttle status.

JonClarke
2004-Jan-08, 11:09 PM
To a very large extent the Russian delays were a scape goat. Even if Zvezda had been ready on time there would be considerable delays because of problems with the nodes and supply modules.

It is interesting that Russia and ESA have been far more sympathetic towards US-caused delays than the popular US commentary has been wards those caused by Russia. This is despite the fact that the US in the face of its own failure has refused to cough up extra money to pay for the additional Progress launches to allow keeping a three person crew on board. this has severely hit the Russians and ESA.

I would strongly dispute the ISS being a waste of money (which is not to say that some things could not be done better).

Cheers

Jon

aurora
2004-Jan-08, 11:18 PM
I would strongly dispute the ISS being a waste of money (which is not to say that some things could not be done better).



curious -- on what grounds would you dispute that?

If, as you posted in another thread, it is based on raw counts of the number of experiments conducted, I would then ask you to describe some of the experiments you thought were especially good or valuable or interesting.

SirThoreth
2004-Jan-09, 12:05 AM
I would strongly dispute the ISS being a waste of money (which is not to say that some things could not be done better).



curious -- on what grounds would you dispute that?

If, as you posted in another thread, it is based on raw counts of the number of experiments conducted, I would then ask you to describe some of the experiments you thought were especially good or valuable or interesting.

aurora,

Question - is there anything he could post that would convince you? The body of your posts indicate you see no justification for manned space flight at all.

JonClarke
2004-Jan-09, 12:27 AM
Aruroa

Many self-styled critics of the ISS follow your logic by

a) claiming there is no science being done

and then when shown the list of the experiments

b) claiming that those experiments are not real science

This is called shifting the goal posts. Seeing all those specific experiments are in fields not my own (except perhaps earth observation) I am not really in a position to comment on their worth. However, even if it could be shown by those competent to assess them that these experiemnts are not of particular value this is a criticism only of the specific use of the ISS platform at present, not of the concept as a whole.

ISS critics also forget that 1) the station is still under construction 2) it is an experimental facility and 3) is a field laboratory. They also ignore the fact that it is not only about science but about developing technology for and management experience of long duration spaceflight (especially for the US), assembly of large spacecraft in orbit (especially for the US), and managing large multi-national manned facilities in space.

I would also echo Sir Thoreth's questions as to whether there there are any circumstances under which you would justify crewed spaceflight. You seem to have a philosophical objection to it.


Jon

Anthrage
2004-Jan-09, 12:45 AM
Yes, the space station is over budget. It was over budget, and hampered by delays and other problems, before the issue with Russia's commitments.

Yes, the space station is not as useful as it could be - as it would have been if certain early design models had been followed, and if program was administered differently. Despite the fact that the money spent may have been bettered applied elsewhere, a presence in LOE is vital - for both practical and research reasons - and that should not be questioned. There are some things that cannot be done without it. The ISS is important and does has value.

I think the main problem is that the ISS has come to be seen - and used - more as a destination than a step or tool for something further. A good dose of forward thinking applied across NASA's primary areas of operation - the shuttle program (and it's replacement), LEO and the moon/mars - with the bold vision and conviction driving it, is what is needed.

Not that I wish to be overly critical of NASA. The problems they have faced and face today, both internal and external, are considerable. Interest and funding are just the two most obvious ones - it's far more complex than that. The agency does a good job...and doing a good job is important, especially for a space agency. However, as an entity that (should be) responsible for the development of space, of related technologies and the ability to manifest off of our planet...more is needed.

At the end of the day, we can't fault NASA, or the ISS or any specific element of either. If the general population saw space development as important enough, government would - even if only to secure it's own interests (keeping their jobs/staying in power etc.) - 'make it happen'. Fortunately, I happen to think the time will come when the importance of space will become clear to all. Unfortunately, I also happen to think this won't happen for a good long while. :)

Swift
2004-Jan-09, 03:06 PM
Very well said Anthrage, it says exactly what I was thinking.

wedgebert
2004-Jan-09, 03:15 PM
The ISS was a total waste of money, time and resources. There were a couple of ideas floating around in the late 80s about retrofitting an Oribiter (Columbia to be exact) and using it as a space station.

Basically you remove the wings, tail, and anything related to landing. After an unmanned launch, the orbiter doesn't eject the external fuel tank (EFT). The EFT is modified to allow for repressurization and has (or has installed) a couple of extra docking rings. The total cost for the modifcations was about $3 billion, just about the cost of a new orbiter. Plus, I'm sure extra EFTs could be attached to increase the useable area.

And there you have a one-launch space station, fulled capable of supporting a 7 person crew, room to do some experiments (not sure how much of the cargo bay was taken up with extra life support and the large extendable solar panels) and and an airlock.

And if the cost actually turned out to be right, you could either dispose of each station as needed and launch a new one, or just have launch extra stations every time you wanted to 'retire' an orbiter.

SirThoreth
2004-Jan-10, 11:15 AM
The ISS was a total waste of money, time and resources. There were a couple of ideas floating around in the late 80s about retrofitting an Oribiter (Columbia to be exact) and using it as a space station.

Sounds good at first, but there are some serious problems with this. We'll get to them down below. Whose idea was this originally, BTW?


Basically you remove the wings, tail, and anything related to landing. After an unmanned launch, the orbiter doesn't eject the external fuel tank (EFT). The EFT is modified to allow for repressurization and has (or has installed) a couple of extra docking rings. The total cost for the modifcations was about $3 billion, just about the cost of a new orbiter. Plus, I'm sure extra EFTs could be attached to increase the useable area.

OK, first problem I see is getting your stripped-down Orbiter into orbit. Unlike the Shuttle-C proposal, Columbia was meant to have those things - remove them, and she's no longer balanced properly. Plus, you just increased the mass of your EFT, further throwing your center of balance off.

IIRC, though, even one of the probs with Shuttle-C was that the Orbiter's flight surfaces are actually used in the early part of the flight to help control the trajectory of the stack, giving aid to the steerable nozzles while the stack is still low enough in the atmosphere to take advantage of them. Removing them removes a significant degree of control.


And there you have a one-launch space station, fulled capable of supporting a 7 person crew, room to do some experiments (not sure how much of the cargo bay was taken up with extra life support and the large extendable solar panels) and and an airlock.

Actually, you have a one-launch space station built from a bird designed to be up for a couple weeks at a time, land, and then be essentially rebuilt. The Orbiter was not meant to spend months at a time in orbit without difficulty - her systems will start failing well before then, her fuel for her RCS thrusters will cause problems long before that, too (IIRC, it's quite corrosive, though this isn't an issue for the short periods of time our Orbiters are up).

Then you have the issue of trying to repair hull damage, which, really, is no different than trying to repair our Orbiters now. It's a pain in the neck. Oh, and where's your abort capability? You still need some sort of escape craft, and some way to ferry people to and from it. Plus, the Orbiter is much, much smaller than the ISS, both in terms of volume and mass. This is a major issue - even adding on components won't necessarily solve the problem. After all, the Orbiter wasn't meant to be the central component of a 500 ton station. So, that'd put us right back to building something reminiscent of the ISS, and really doesn't solve our problems in the end.

Sure, the Orbiter's designed to carry 7 people and do experiments, but it's also designed to carry much shorter duration supplies, and much shorter duration experiments. So, again, we're talking about a much bigger station than just the Orbiter with a few small modules attached.


And if the cost actually turned out to be right, you could either dispose of each station as needed and launch a new one, or just have launch extra stations every time you wanted to 'retire' an orbiter.

Shuttles are expensive. Enough so, in fact, that you're better off continuing to use them as Shuttles, rather than disposable stations.

Now, what was a pretty impressive idea was sending up numerous external fuel tanks, modified to be repressurized, and carry additional fuel in your Orbiter's cargo bay to make up for the loss and put them up a bit higher. Then, you basically start linking those EFTs together, build a latticework, install equipment inside, and, boom, there's your station. That was a pretty neat proposal, though I'm not sure how durable that really would've been.

Diamond
2004-Jan-13, 09:29 AM
I would strongly dispute the ISS being a waste of money (which is not to say that some things could not be done better).



curious -- on what grounds would you dispute that?

If, as you posted in another thread, it is based on raw counts of the number of experiments conducted, I would then ask you to describe some of the experiments you thought were especially good or valuable or interesting.

aurora,

Question - is there anything he could post that would convince you? The body of your posts indicate you see no justification for manned space flight at all.

I'm late to this discussion. Can you point me to which thread ( or which website) actually talks about the experiments carried out on the ISS?

russ_watters
2004-Jan-13, 02:24 PM
How far behind is the ISS? :-? Depends on when you consider the clock to have been started: how does 1984 grab you? http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/missions/fl_iss_010620h.html

Regarding the scientific value of the ISS, this is the tesimony of a prominent physicist before Congress: http://www.house.gov/science/park_4-9.html
I appreciate this opportunity to comment on the International Space Station project. I am a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, and it is in that role that I testify today. However, you should also know that I am the Director of Public Information of the American Physical Society, the principal professional organization of physicists in the United States with more than 40,000 members drawn from industry, academia and government laboratories.... It is not their view or mine that space exploration or research should be curtailed. On the contrary the opportunities for scientific discovery in the space program have never been greater. There is, however, almost universal concern among physicists that the priorities of the space program are seriously misplaced. Specifically, it is the official view of the American Physical Society that scientific justification is lacking for a permanently manned space station in Earth orbit.

Colleagues in the biological sciences assure me that the same view prevails in their field. I have been assisted in the preparation of this testimony by three distinguished biologists: Ursula Goodenough of Washington University in St. Louis, Norman Pace of the University of California, Berkeley and Steve Harrison of Harvard. The opinions I express today are mine, but they have been shaped by discussions with hundreds of scientists in both the physical and life sciences, and are, I believe, shared by the overwhelming majority of scientists not only in the US but in the partner nations. Indeed, I have yet to hear a single positive statement about the space station from an uninvolved scientist.

[headers:]
The Micro gravity Myth
The Spinoff Myth
The Exploration Myth (good quote: The space station stands as the greatest single obstacle to the continued exploration of space.)

SirThoreth
2004-Jan-13, 05:54 PM
How far behind is the ISS? :-? Depends on when you consider the clock to have been started: how does 1984 grab you? http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/missions/fl_iss_010620h.html

Regarding the scientific value of the ISS, this is the tesimony of a prominent physicist before Congress: http://www.house.gov/science/park_4-9.html
I appreciate this opportunity to comment on the International Space Station project. I am a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, and it is in that role that I testify today. However, you should also know that I am the Director of Public Information of the American Physical Society, the principal professional organization of physicists in the United States with more than 40,000 members drawn from industry, academia and government laboratories.... It is not their view or mine that space exploration or research should be curtailed. On the contrary the opportunities for scientific discovery in the space program have never been greater. There is, however, almost universal concern among physicists that the priorities of the space program are seriously misplaced. Specifically, it is the official view of the American Physical Society that scientific justification is lacking for a permanently manned space station in Earth orbit.

Colleagues in the biological sciences assure me that the same view prevails in their field. I have been assisted in the preparation of this testimony by three distinguished biologists: Ursula Goodenough of Washington University in St. Louis, Norman Pace of the University of California, Berkeley and Steve Harrison of Harvard. The opinions I express today are mine, but they have been shaped by discussions with hundreds of scientists in both the physical and life sciences, and are, I believe, shared by the overwhelming majority of scientists not only in the US but in the partner nations. Indeed, I have yet to hear a single positive statement about the space station from an uninvolved scientist.

[headers:]
The Micro gravity Myth
The Spinoff Myth
The Exploration Myth (good quote: The space station stands as the greatest single obstacle to the continued exploration of space.)


See, the problem with this physicist's statement is that the same argument can be used on manned spaceflight in general, not just the ISS, or any other space station in orbit. Right now, robotic probes are cheaper and generally get better results from places like Mars, etc. The Hubble Space Telescope has been quite successful, and hasn't needed a person in orbit to do what it does.

But, the thing that he's missing is that the ISS is, in fact, the experiment!!! Nobody's tried building a structure in space this big before - the completed station will be significantly larger than Mir. And, we haven't tried building anything like this before at all, so there's that to consider, too.

In the end, that's the primary mission of the International Space Station. The "why's" of how it got approved are another issue, but that's what NASA wanted it for. The ISS gives the United States the opportunity to learn how to build a large, fairly self-contained spacecraft, and to keep it operating for an extended period of time, something we'll need to know how to do before we try going to Mars, because trying to learn on the way there is just silly.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - the ISS serves the exact same purpose to a Mars mission that Gemini served to the Apollo program. It's a chance to test out some of the concepts and procedures we'll need, to make sure we've got them down pat when we're going to need them later.

The question, really, isn't whether we need ISS. It's whether we need manned spaceflight. I think we do. Others on this thread, notably aurora, strongly disagree. Personally, I think both sides of this debate can continue to argue this one until we're blue in the face, without making any progress.

At the moment, though, our manned spaceflight program is wedded to the ISS, and until Bush's proposal gets funded, and hardware gets built, and is then flown, it will continue to be that way.

On a final note, let me ask this question of those of you who're against manned spaceflight in general, and the ISS in particular. How do you feel about the Spirit probe? I know, for example, that aurora seemed pretty pro-Spirit, but I don't know about the rest. Do you feel the money spent on it is justified?

Guess what, not everyone agrees with you. In fact, I'm in San Francisco this week (work trip), and the letters to the editor regarding Bush's proposal, and spaceflight in general, have been pretty much the same - space exploration in any form is a waste of money, and we should be using that money to feed the needy, take care of problems here on Earth, etc. We'll ignore for the moment that the amount money spent by NASA on an annual basis is significantly lower than what the US spends on social programs, such as welfare, social security, etc., or on our defense budget, etc. Personally, I think if the government would stop wasting money needlessly, we could increase funding for space exploration without messing with our other spending priorities, but that's just me.

The point I guess I'm trying to make is that any form of space exploration, manned or unmanned, rarely has immediate payoffs. The benefits we experience from them come later. Sometimes it's a year or two down the road, sometimes later. Manned spaceflight seems to be one of those things where the payoff will be significantly farther down the road, once we develop better ways to get to orbit, and more efficient propulsion once we're there. The worth of these programs is basically determined by the method you choose to measure them, and, no matter what you propose, someone out there is going to disagree with you.

Glom
2004-Jan-13, 07:06 PM
Interesting point. The problem is that up until now, ISS's Gemini role has seemed hollow because there has been no sign of actual plans in the works to benefit from this. As Gemini was operated, the development of Apollo was underway.

My criticism of ISS hasn't been so much about NASA and their partners themselves. I appreciate they are trying to make the best of limited situation. But, it was some criminal decisions made by politicians that severely reduced the benefits of such a program. The technology developed for Apollo could have made task of constructing a space station much easier and more effective.

SirThoreth
2004-Jan-14, 02:25 AM
Interesting point. The problem is that up until now, ISS's Gemini role has seemed hollow because there has been no sign of actual plans in the works to benefit from this. As Gemini was operated, the development of Apollo was underway.

My criticism of ISS hasn't been so much about NASA and their partners themselves. I appreciate they are trying to make the best of limited situation. But, it was some criminal decisions made by politicians that severely reduced the benefits of such a program. The technology developed for Apollo could have made task of constructing a space station much easier and more effective.

Possibly. But, in the meantime, they have to work with what they have.

The thing about the ISS was, doing it this way, we were supposed to save money in the long run, because of the portion of the bill being footed by the other partners. Obviously, things haven't worked out that way, in part because of the other partners, and in part because of manufacturing problems.

Right now, the ISS's role is incredibly limited. Hopefully, once they're finished building it, it won't be so bad.

Pinemarten
2004-Jan-14, 03:31 AM
To respond to the op:

The project may be beyond schedule and budget; but it is inevitable that it will benefit mankind.

Projects such as this cannot be 'pegged to paper'.
The bean counters may prefer a more regimented system, but that would be asking to predict the cost and timing, of our future.

I have always believed that money is never wasted. It may be re-directed to a new car or a cabana on an island; but the funds are still put back into the system.

If an idea fails after great expenditure, it is still money well spent.
Somebody was paid to construct the 'failed widget', or build the fancy toys. They received a paycheck to feed their family, friends, and associates. Every time a dollar changes hands, a percentage goes back to the government that created the cycle.

The main complaint has, and always will be:
Was my money re-directed to the right place, at the right time, and to the right people?

JonClarke
2004-Jan-14, 03:41 AM
Russ

Why stop at 1984? Why not include the costs of MORL, MOL, and earlier studies? Why not the entire Salyut and Almaz programs? The advantage of putting the start of the ISS back in time is you can inflate the cost. the further you push it back the more it an be inflated. I consider this to be a dishonest tactic by the ISS critics (not you). The ISS program becan with the sighing of the preliminary agreement in Nevmeber 1993. In 5 years the first hardware was in orbit. I think this is an impressive acheievement.


Park is well known for his anti-human in space views. He is a biased source. But then he is a physicst and has no experience of what planetary surface exploration needs.

SirThoreth

"The ISS is the experiment" - well put.

Jon

ToSeek
2004-Jan-14, 04:02 PM
To respond to the op:

The project may be beyond schedule and budget; but it is inevitable that it will benefit mankind.



I would think that the real question is whether the ISS is the best use of NASA's space exploration funds, when for the cost of the ISS we could have 20 Mars rovers, 5 HST-equivalent space telescopes, and 6 Cassini/Galileo caliber deep space missions.

It seems almost criminal to me that the ISS program is spending billions per year, while the James Webb Space Telescope, whose scientific potential is enormous, is being restricted to less than half what it cost to build and launch Hubble.

russ_watters
2004-Jan-14, 04:38 PM
See, the problem with this physicist's statement is that the same argument can be used on manned spaceflight in general, not just the ISS, or any other space station in orbit. Right now, robotic probes are cheaper and generally get better results from places like Mars, etc. The Hubble Space Telescope has been quite successful, and hasn't needed a person in orbit to do what it does. I agree (and so do they) - but why is that a problem? Right now, about the only useful thing the space shuttle does is service/recover satellites in/from orbit, ie the Hubble servicing missions.

Sending humans back to the moon just so we can say we sent humans back to the moon seems pointless to me. Sending humans to mars so we can say we sent humans to mars is better, but so enormously expensive, I'd rather see NASA spend the money elsewhere. The single most important thing NASA is doing today is The Origins Program (http://origins.jpl.nasa.gov/index1.html) and it gets a tiny fraction of NASA's budget.
Russ

Why stop at 1984? Why not include the costs of MORL, MOL, and earlier studies? The ISS IS Space Station Freedom. The Space Station Freedom program was terminated by Clinton something like 6 months before Clinton comissioned the ISS - just long enough to attach his name to it as a new program rather than call it what it really is - a continuation of an old one.

But NASA's own history page discusses the ISS as a redesign of Space Station Freedom: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/spacenews/factsheets/pdfs/history.pdf
In the first paragraph on the ISS.
Park is well known for his anti-human in space views. He is a biased source. But then he is a physicst and has no experience of what planetary surface exploration needs. If he's biased, then the bias applies to the people he is speaking for, not just himself. Being a body of scientists, I'd say their bias is toward scientific research, instead of publicity stunts. I don't see that as a bad thing.
"The ISS is the experiment" I'd agree with that too - but its a hugely expensive an not all that new or useful one.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against manned spaceflight: I'm against useless publicity stunts, especially when we have more productive things to spend the money on.

And make no mistake, Bush's only interest in NASA (just like every other politician) is what it can do for his poll numbers.

SirThoreth
2004-Jan-14, 05:37 PM
See, the problem with this physicist's statement is that the same argument can be used on manned spaceflight in general, not just the ISS, or any other space station in orbit. Right now, robotic probes are cheaper and generally get better results from places like Mars, etc. The Hubble Space Telescope has been quite successful, and hasn't needed a person in orbit to do what it does. I agree (and so do they) - but why is that a problem? Right now, about the only useful thing the space shuttle does is service/recover satellites in/from orbit, ie the Hubble servicing missions.

To some degree, you're missing my point, by choosing this one paragraph out of my response.

Some people criticize manned spaceflight, because it's expensive, and robots can do the same job cheaper. That's fine.

Big news flash for ya, but some people criticize spending any money on spaceflight, because they feel the money could be better spent here on Earth, doing things like developing alternative forms of energy production, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, taking care of the jobless, providing medical care for those who can't afford it, etc., etc., etc....

There is always something "better" to spend our money on than space exploration. How we end up spending the limited funds we have must be determined by what our end goal is. But, we'll come back to that in a minute.


Sending humans back to the moon just so we can say we sent humans back to the moon seems pointless to me. Sending humans to mars so we can say we sent humans to mars is better, but so enormously expensive, I'd rather see NASA spend the money elsewhere. The single most important thing NASA is doing today is The Origins Program (http://origins.jpl.nasa.gov/index1.html) and it gets a tiny fraction of NASA's budget.

The Origins Program is indeed important and worthwhile. Again, I must ask, though, what is our goal in space exploration. If our goal is purely scientific knowledge for its own worth, then, fine, robotic probes are just spiffy. But, in my opinion, that's incredibly, foolishly short-sighted.

We are, as far as we can tell, the first species our planet has produced that need not go extinct should conditions on our planet become inhospitable. Over the vast span of the dinosaurs, they produced no similar species, and they payed the price in the end with their near total extinction (not counting birds). OTOH, we have the capacity, should we choose to use it, to spread out, colonizing our Moon, then Mars, and even the asteroid belt.

But, it's going to take research to do that. There are so many things that would be required to do so effectively, so that those colonies could become self-sufficient, and we've only begun to solve these issues, or research how to deal with them. That's why returning to the Moon is important - it gives us a chance to test some of these concepts before we head to Mars, where we'll be way too far away to get help from Earth in a reasonable period of time.

Speaking of Mars....how do we get there? That's a long trip, which is going to require more people, and they're going to be stuck in their sardine can of a spacecraft for an extended period. How do we build that big of a ship? How long will it last, and what kind of maintenance will it require? Well the crew get along, or be at each other's throats before they ever get there? If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody's there to hear it, does anyone even care?

These are the kind of questions (well, except for the last one) that the ISS was designed to answer. Like I said earlier, it's not designed for experiments, it is the experiment. Any additional science done aboard is a fringe benefit.


The ISS IS Space Station Freedom. The Space Station Freedom program was terminated by Clinton something like 6 months before Clinton comissioned the ISS - just long enough to attach his name to it as a new program rather than call it what it really is - a continuation of an old one.

No, it's not. The ISS is Mir 2, with a handful of components from Freedom. The core of the station, though, is Russian, which is why it can have people on board right now.

The problem with Freedom is that it kept getting redesigned again, and again, and again as its budget continued to shrink - NASA couldn't fund the original Freedom, continue to fly the shuttle, and still do any unmanned missions.

Clinton was left with a choice - build the finalized version of Freedom, with its 4-person capacity, where people couldn't move in until it was near completion, or basically fund Mir 2, attaching portions of the Freedom project to it. Mir 2, in conjunction with what we were providing, could eventually hold 6 people, had more space for scientific equipment, allowing it to do more. OTOH, Freedom would have been done by now - it was smaller, hence requiring less work to put into orbit.


If he's biased, then the bias applies to the people he is speaking for, not just himself. Being a body of scientists, I'd say their bias is toward scientific research, instead of publicity stunts. I don't see that as a bad thing.

Again, it depends on what their goal is. No, for the most part, I don't expect a physicist, or even most scientists, to need to send people anywhere but to a chair sitting in front of a computer where they can analyze the results coming from the latest robotic probe. Again, though, if that's our goal, then we can continue to sit and rot on this ball of rock, and eventually take our place with the host of species who preceeded us into extinction.



"The ISS is the experiment" I'd agree with that too - but its a hugely expensive an not all that new or useful one.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against manned spaceflight: I'm against useless publicity stunts, especially when we have more productive things to spend the money on.

Again, and I cannot make this point clearly enough, there's always something more productive to spend our money on, and, in most cases, that has absolutely nothing to do with space exploration, manned or robotic. That has to do with things that will provide an instant payoff here on Earth. Spaceflight has to be about eventually sending people to other places permanently, or else the public will eventually decide it is a useless waste of money that could be better spent on providing for our own immediate short-term needs here on Earth.

And, again, it's not that I'm a big fan of the ISS. However, I do realize that, for the moment, manned spaceflight in the US is on life support, and pulling the plug on the ISS would mean pulling the plug on manned spaceflight in this country - all the talk about replacing the Shuttle and going to Mars, etc. would be meaningless - we'll see the endless series of studies and research into ways to do it better and faster, and no replacement for the Shuttle will ever come, and no trip to Mars will ever happen, because the technology to "do it right" will perpetually be right around the corner. People will eventually lose interest, NASA funding will continue to be cut, the money put to other uses, and, eventually, all spaceflight that doesn't have immediate commercial gain will basically cease to happen.


And make no mistake, Bush's only interest in NASA (just like every other politician) is what it can do for his poll numbers.

And your point is? Like you said, that's no different from any other politician, including the Presidents who came before Bush, like Clinton, GHWB, Reagan, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy or Eisenhower. Spaceflight has always been linked to politics in whatever country you happen to be referring to, because it costs money, so the politicians are always going to be involved.

The only times you won't see politicians involved is when it's cheap to do and economically viable.....wait, scratch that, because there's still taxes. You're not going to get politics out of spaceflight. In fact, as territorial issues become more important, expect to see more politics involved. Only way for that not to happen is to stay at home, give up, and resign ourselves to extinction sooner, rather than later.

Kaptain K
2004-Jan-14, 06:03 PM
The Hubble Space Telescope has been quite successful, and hasn't needed a person in orbit to do what it does.
:o Hubble has needed several people in orbit, several times to "do what it does". In fact, without people in orbit, it would have been a billion dollar fireball years ago! 8)

Swift
2004-Jan-14, 06:31 PM
The Hubble Space Telescope has been quite successful, and hasn't needed a person in orbit to do what it does.
:o Hubble has needed several people in orbit, several times to "do what it does". In fact, without people in orbit, it would have been a billion dollar fireball years ago! 8)
It sounds like (though I have not heard details if they exist) is that Bush's moon/mars program will be funded by abandoning the shuttle fleet and the ISS and adding $1 billion to NASA's budget. If Congress goes along with that, does the end of the shuttles (without a replacement) mean the end of such repair/service missions? I believe some of the orbiting telescopes are designed with service missions expected.

SirThoreth
2004-Jan-14, 07:35 PM
The Hubble Space Telescope has been quite successful, and hasn't needed a person in orbit to do what it does.
:o Hubble has needed several people in orbit, several times to "do what it does". In fact, without people in orbit, it would have been a billion dollar fireball years ago! 8)

I know. What I was trying to say was that it doesn't require a constant manned presence, like some of the other space telescope ideas we've considered do, like the Air Force's Manned Orbital Laboratory (MOL) (http://www.astronautix.com/craft/mol.htm) program, an extension of the Gemini program, did.

SirThoreth
2004-Jan-14, 07:41 PM
It sounds like (though I have not heard details if they exist) is that Bush's moon/mars program will be funded by abandoning the shuttle fleet and the ISS and adding $1 billion to NASA's budget. If Congress goes along with that, does the end of the shuttles (without a replacement) mean the end of such repair/service missions? I believe some of the orbiting telescopes are designed with service missions expected.

Well, that's not entirely correct. The Shuttle is supposed to fly long enough to finish the ISS, and then be retired. At that point, the Orbital Space Plane (well, whatever the new name for it is going to be, but it's basically still the OSP) is supposed to be flying, and will take over manned spaceflight duties. The ISS is supposed to remain in service until 2012, which, IIRC, was the original date they were planning anyway.

I'd presume, then, that maintenance duties on stuff that still requires pereodic human maintenance would be done by crews flying from the new bird.

daver
2004-Jan-14, 08:24 PM
If Congress goes along with that, does the end of the shuttles (without a replacement) mean the end of such repair/service missions? I believe some of the orbiting telescopes are designed with service missions expected.

Outside of Hubble, I don't know of any satellites now in orbit that are intended to be serviced by the shuttle. Since Columbia, Hubble's service is in doubt.

Servicing and repair of satellites by the shuttle has proven to be uneconomical--it is almost always cheaper to just launch a new new one. I got some argument the last time I asserted this, so you might want to take this with a grain of salt.

I'm reasonably confident that none of the observatories launched since Hubble were intended to be serviced by the shuttle.

russ_watters
2004-Jan-15, 01:45 AM
If Congress goes along with that, does the end of the shuttles (without a replacement) mean the end of such repair/service missions? I believe some of the orbiting telescopes are designed with service missions expected.

Outside of Hubble, I don't know of any satellites now in orbit that are intended to be serviced by the shuttle. Since Columbia, Hubble's service is in doubt. The Hubble wasn't intended to be serviced, was it?
Again, I must ask, though, what is our goal in space exploration. If our goal is purely scientific knowledge for its own worth, then, fine, robotic probes are just spiffy. As I implied (maybe I didn't say it explicitly) - scientific research is the most important job of NASA (just by a nose though). Human exploration is a distant THIRD behind sending up and servicing satellites. BTW, these three are listed on the main page of NASA, though I'm not sure they are in any particular order. The order is of course, my opinion.
We are, as far as we can tell, the first species our planet has produced that need not go extinct should conditions on our planet become inhospitable... OTOH, we have the capacity, should we choose to use it, to spread out, colonizing our Moon, then Mars, and even the asteroid belt. Do we? This isn't Star Trek - we're a long way from real colonization (ie, self sufficient) of another planet/body. A century at least.
These are the kind of questions (well, except for the last one) that the ISS was designed to answer. Like I said earlier, it's not designed for experiments, it is the experiment. Any additional science done aboard is a fringe benefit.That is NOT the purpose of the ISS, that's your opinion of what the purpose should be. Your goals are not even on the list: http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/space/spacestation/overview/background_goals.html
In partnering to build and operate the ISS as a world-class research center in the unique environment of space, the participating nations are striving to:

-Find solutions to crucial problems in medicine, ecology and other areas of science.
-Lay the foundation for developing space-based commerce and enterprise.
-Create greater worldwide demand for space-related education at all levels by cultivating the excitement, wonder and discovery that the ISS symbolizes.
-Foster world peace through high-profile, long-term international cooperation in space. These are a combination of pointlessness and fluff. Its all a big publicity stunt.
No, it's not. The ISS is Mir 2, with a handful of components from Freedom. The core of the station, though, is Russian, which is why it can have people on board right now. If you don't believe me, read it from NASA itself - I provided the link.
Again, and I cannot make this point clearly enough, there's always something more productive to spend our money on, and, in most cases, that has absolutely nothing to do with space exploration, manned or robotic. I haven't argued that - I said quite explicitly that the money can be better used in the space program.
And your point is? Like you said, that's no different from any other politician... My point is simply that he has no vested interest in the successful completion of the program he outlined. None. That's most of the path we took to get to this point: A president announces a new goal, makes a speech, gains some brownie points, sends them a little money, and the next one cancels or changes the program. Even if its a good program, the new president can't allow it to continue - he has to be the originator of all good ideas. Bush didn't kill the ISS, but he's saying 'its not important anymore - now we've got a BIGGER goal.'

daver
2004-Jan-15, 02:17 AM
The Hubble wasn't intended to be serviced, was it?

Yes, Hubble was explicitly designed to be serviced and refurbished. At least one more mission was planned, its fate is now up in the air. There was talk at one time about sending up a robot mission to attach a rocket to de-orbit Hubble safely if they couldn't figure out a way to get another shuttle mission. There was a thread about this a while back.


As I implied (maybe I didn't say it explicitly) - scientific research is the most important job of NASA (just by a nose though). Human exploration is a distant THIRD behind sending up and servicing satellites. BTW, these three are listed on the main page of NASA, though I'm not sure they are in any particular order. The order is of course, my opinion.

The reality seems to be that even before Columbia servicing satellites was only a token option, and launches, whenever possible, were relegated to unmanned launchers.

russ_watters
2004-Jan-15, 07:59 PM
The Hubble wasn't intended to be serviced, was it?

Yes, Hubble was explicitly designed to be serviced and refurbished. At least one more mission was planned, its fate is now up in the air. There was talk at one time about sending up a robot mission to attach a rocket to de-orbit Hubble safely if they couldn't figure out a way to get another shuttle mission. There was a thread about this a while back.
Was there a recent satellite then that was serviced orbit even though it wasn't designed to be(an amazing feat)? Not sure where I'm getting this from, but its just one of the pieces of junk floating around in my head.
The reality seems to be that even before Columbia servicing satellites was only a token option, and launches, whenever possible, were relegated to unmanned launchers. Just a clarification, when I said "sending up and servicing satellites", thats one of the 3 missions of NASA, not two separate ones. Not sure if you got that or not, but either way, it was unclear the way I wrote it.

daver
2004-Jan-15, 08:50 PM
Was there a recent satellite then that was serviced orbit even though it wasn't designed to be(an amazing feat)? Not sure where I'm getting this from, but its just one of the pieces of junk floating around in my head.

The short answer is that I don't know. I'm fairly haphazard about which missions I follow.

The astronauts have serviced items on Hubble that weren't designed to be serviced, which is pretty amazing. There have been several servicing missions on other satellites (more earlier in the history of the shuttle than later); they've had various problems (like the capture bar didn't work, and an astronaut had to go out and tackle the satellite manually); these problems tend to show the advantage of having people out there to handle the missions--a man in a spacesuit is much more capable than a robot, earthbound simulations are not necessarily accurate, and a device that works in the tank may not work in real life.

My take on these is that technology isn't anywhere near mature enough for unmanned service missions, but that a satellite has got to be awfully important to schedule a $100 million+ shuttle mission to repair or refurbish it and to wait through the four or five year backlog to get the mission.

Just a clarification, when I said "sending up and servicing satellites", thats one of the 3 missions of NASA, not two separate ones. Not sure if you got that or not, but either way, it was unclear the way I wrote it.
That's the way I interpreted it (launch and service as part of the same mission). Other posters have pointed out that the majority of US launches are on non-NASA launchers, and I've been trying to argue that satellite service is not a particularly valuable option. It seems to me that NASA does have three main tasks, but not the ones on the website--unmanned exploration, manned spaceflight, and basic R&D.

Demigrog
2004-Jan-15, 11:10 PM
Depends on when you consider the clock to have been started: how does 1984 grab you? http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/missions/fl_iss_010620h.html


This article reminds me of one of my favorite games of all time, "Project: Space Station". It was a neat little simulation of managing NASA’s space station program, probably based on the Regan plan. Given an initial budget of ten billion, the object was to design a station, launch schedule, science plan, and personnel roster; if congress approved the plan you got to build it and try to stay on budget.

It was an interesting simulation; the station was supposed to pay for itself, as it only got a 90mil bi-annual funding from congress. I never ever had a self sufficient station with only science contracts; the satellite launching business was the only way to build a really cool station. My problem was landing the shuttles though; damage was usually bad enough to throw off my whole schedule.

For anyone nostalgic or curious, you can download the game from some abandonware sites:
http://www.the-underdogs.org/game.php?name=Project%3A+Space+Station

Manchurian Taikonaut
2004-Jul-29, 07:45 PM
this was the latest news




Space agencies in Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan gave unanimous approval Friday to a NASA plan that means the orbiting platform, now about half completed, will never become the beehive of scientific and commercial research once envisaged.
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In exchange, NASA will continue with plans to launch research modules owned by its partners, some of them already built. The agreement also means the station will never support long duration crews of seven astronauts, as intended, but will be able to house at least four astronauts starting in 2009, said NASA's deputy administrator, Fred Gregory. He was speaking to reporters by teleconference from Noordwijk, The Netherlands, where space agency leaders met last week.
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Publicly, NASA's international partners have expressed support for a space initiative of President George W. Bush, which calls for ending the U.S. shuttle program and curtailing involvement in the space station in favor of plans to explore the moon and Mars. Privately, they have said the United States is not living up to its commitments.
.
The first segment of the space station, a multibillion-dollar, 16-nation effort led by the United States and Russia, was put into orbit in 1998 and the first astronauts took up residence in 2000.
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Long before the February 2003 loss of the Columbia shuttle, which stopped all assembly work on the station, NASA had backed away from commitments to build a habitation module and emergency return ship.
.
Shuttle flights were suspended after the Columbia disintegrated over Texas as it returned from space last year, killing the seven astronauts on board, but NASA has said it expects to put the shuttle Discovery back in flight in March 2005. Since the Columbia disaster, the Bush administration has left in doubt whether NASA will continue to participate at all in the station's operations after it is completed in 2010, the same year the remaining three shuttles are to be retired. CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida NASA and its space partners have approved a scaled-down International Space Station with fewer astronauts and less science so the United States can meet a 2010 deadline for ending shuttle flights, a top NASA official said. Space agencies in Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan gave unanimous approval Friday to a NASA plan that means the orbiting platform, now about half completed, will never become the beehive of scientific and commercial research once envisaged. In exchange, NASA will continue with plans to launch research modules owned by its partners, some of them already built. The agreement also means the station will never support long duration crews of seven astronauts, as intended...


Publicly, NASA's international partners have expressed support for a space initiative of President George W. Bush, which calls for ending the U.S. shuttle program and curtailing involvement in the space station in favor of plans to explore the moon and Mars. Privately, they have said the United States is not living up to its commitments.
.
The first segment of the space station, a multibillion-dollar, 16-nation effort led by the United States and Russia, was put into orbit in 1998 and the first astronauts took up residence in 2000.
.
Long before the February 2003 loss of the Columbia shuttle, which stopped all assembly work on the station, NASA had backed away from commitments to build a habitation module and emergency return ship.
.
Shuttle flights were suspended after the Columbia disintegrated over Texas as it returned from space last year, killing the seven astronauts on board, but NASA has said it expects to put the shuttle Discovery back in flight in March 2005. Since the Columbia disaster, the Bush administration has left in doubt whether NASA will continue to participate at all in the station's operations after it is completed in 2010, the same year the remaining three shuttles are to be retired. CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida NASA and its space partners have approved a scaled-down International Space Station with fewer astronauts and less science so the United States can meet a 2010 deadline for ending shuttle flights, a top NASA official said.
.
Space agencies in Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan gave unanimous approval Friday to a NASA plan that means the orbiting platform, now about half completed, will never become the beehive of scientific and commercial research once envisaged.
.
In exchange, NASA will continue with plans to launch research modules owned by its partners, some of them already built. The agreement also means the station will never support long duration crews of seven astronauts, as intended, but will be able to house at least four astronauts starting in 2009, said NASA's deputy administrator, Fred Gregory. He was speaking to reporters by teleconference from Noordwijk, The Netherlands, where space agency leaders met last week.
.
Publicly, NASA's international partners have expressed support for a space initiative of President George W. Bush, which calls for ending the U.S. shuttle program and curtailing involvement in the space station in favor of plans to explore the moon and Mars. Privately, they have said the United States is not living up to its commitments.
.

Launch window
2006-Feb-02, 05:34 PM
Letter from Sen. Hutchison to President Bush Regarding Funding for the International Space Station
http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=19380
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Science and Space, sent President Bush the following letter on the future of the ISS and budget constraints by OMB

NEOWatcher
2006-Feb-02, 05:42 PM
an important national asset
I agree with that, but the big picture is that it's International. How much of us supporting ISS is keeping international relations up. We promised other countries cooperation, and now we're not living up to that promise.

I think the Senator needs to expand on that plea.