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    • CommentTimeMay 18th 2009
    The push to the moon really was a military matter. As I think someone said above, we wanted to get there to establish a missile base before the Russians could.

    I can understand that part, but what about the people at home? I wonder how many people were watching their TVs at home and saying "Holy shit, we just did that" rather than "Well now the Russians can't say they were first!" I'm pretty sure it wasn't just the nerd-inclined people that were glued to the televisions, either. Nowadays it seems the only people that care about a shuttle mission or a Hubble repair mission or the ISS are those already predisposed to science. I bet a good 70% of my friends don't even know there's a mission going on right now, let alone that it's the last to Hubble, or that they're in imminent danger from space junk, or any number of things.

    I mean, how many people here think space exploration is stupid or not worth the time? And then ask that same question to the general populace. I think the main solution is changing the popular perception of space travel.

    Anyway, I'm gonna shut up for a bit and let the smart people talk. I don't really have much of a suggestion past changing hearts and minds, focusing the administration, and restructuring the budget
  1.  (5884.2)
    In regards to the radiation of the Van Allen belt, Forward and Hoyt proposed a system called HiVOLT to reduce said radiation. I've found nothing too much in regards to what Van Allen belt protects us from, though. It seems like it would be playing with a piece of the ecology we know nothing about. Of course, the shuttle puts a 5 mile diameter hole in the ozone layer that takes two weeks to heal and we keep(kept?) doing that, don't we?


    I think the main solution is changing the popular perception of space travel.

    That's a good chunk of it, I agree. Mightywombat got it right with the 'bureaucracy' take of it, I think. There are some over-inflated egos at NASA hiding behind that bureaucracy to be sure...
    • CommentAuthorlooneynerd
    • CommentTimeMay 18th 2009
    I won't lie, getting rid of the radiation belts sounds like a horrible risk to me. As Val said, we don't know exactly what removing them would do. And other than Space Elevators and some satellites, they aren't that big of a deal. Because a craft is normally traveling upwards of 18,000 mph to get into orbit, manned craft barely spend any time at all in them.
      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeMay 18th 2009
    @ Val -
    There are some over-inflated egos at NASA hiding behind that bureaucracy to be sure...

    NASA is the government agency where they put (most of) the Nazis, yeah? Nazis love bureaucracy and they love to hide. Which is why NASA should not be allowed to Fix Itself.

    It's in NASA's best interests to be marginalized in the public eye. That way, the black budgets stay hidden. Until one day, they unveil the New Space-Craft and it's a doozy.

    What we need is a new Space Race.

    (Sorry if this sounds intemperate or doesn't make sense. I'm on pills.)
  2.  (5884.5)
    The disregard for space exploration illustrates how wrong our priorities as a species are, because we don't and perhaps shouldn't behave as a species (the human/popular definition of that btw)..

    We have no such organization to stop and think "how will we survive the next X hundred years?" as a species we are only good at solving problems that existed already or once they arrived, we suck at acting on future predictions, in this case, some big disaster like a "tiny" meteor wiping out some cities.

    From then on, it will be 50:50 .. we either manage to go to space, most of us die anyway, some survive on earth, some survive in the space and our species take on from there becoming a new species of sorts... or we don't, and some survive on earth and become a new species of sort.

    The behavior required to save everyone from the most likely short/medium term treats simply isn't evolutively plausible.
  3.  (5884.6)
    It's in NASA's best interests to be marginalized in the public eye. That way, the black budgets stay hidden. Until one day, they unveil the New Space-Craft and it's a doozy

    So they are hiding the good space-craft from us and thus they can't make as good space-craft? I think that might not work exactly like you think. Not even getting into the other statement...
      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeMay 18th 2009
    @ JTraub - toldja, I'm on pills.
  4.  (5884.8)
    I somehow doubt that the Pentagon would voluntarily cede the highest ground there is just because the POS shuttle is being retired.
  5.  (5884.9)
    Spent a few years working in a NASA town, have known current and ex-NASA people my whole life.

    They All know it's a broken institution. As has been mentioned, a lot gets farmed out to contractors, and admin's Very top-heavy back at HQ. Efficiency? Not a priority, perhaps an outright problem. Oversight? Shaky at best. Number of layers of bureaucracy any new idea must pass through to see R&D funding? Exponential. (And don't get a friend of mine started about their copyediting dept!)

    Most folks in the industry say that, right now, the best bang for the buck is in automated/robotics, w/the hope that the results enable us to launch more people, better & farther, soon thereafter. However, as was mentioned upthread, robots don't have the same "wonder" rating as rocket-jockeys.

    fwiw- thread didn't seem to have any NASA ppl in it, so I thought I'd ventriloquize for them a bit (and may be able to ask a few questions if y'all have them.)
  6.  (5884.10)
    NASA should stop shooting stuff into space, and develop as more of a "mentoring" program for independent programs that want to shoot stuff into space. A bit like going to someone who used to be a champion in their field and asking for a bit of coaching....
    • CommentTimeMay 18th 2009
    I don't have any "big thoughts" on NASA... just on Hubble-

    I just wonder what daft cunt stripped those bolts in the first place. Must've been a rocket scientist...

    Just think - they could send Joe The Plumber up on a one-way mission to maintain the telescope. It'll keep that cack-handed sod out of Earth politics, and give him a reason to keep on breathing... one fuck-up and the next tank of air doesn't arrive.
    • CommentAuthorlooneynerd
    • CommentTimeMay 18th 2009

    yeah, they've found stripped bolts on every EVA so far. They think the guys on STS-103 did it.
  7.  (5884.13)
    Apollo-era NASA was driven by political pressure, not military.
    • CommentAuthorradian
    • CommentTimeMay 18th 2009
    Surely robots in space excite the average person even less than the current bunch of space-repairmen.

    Unless it's done properly like this:
    NASA Gundam
    I knew I saved that pic for a reason

    As for oscillation in a space elevator, I remember reading a plan to move the payload up the tether using oscillations the same way a wave travels along a bullwhip, can't find the link now, think it was on New Scientist? Of course then there's the radiation problem already mentioned.
    • CommentAuthorlooneynerd
    • CommentTimeMay 18th 2009
    I'm forced to disagree here. By political pressure, yes, but those politics were hugely influenced by the cold war. One of Kennedy's primary reasons for kicking off the space race was to widen the (as it turns out, largely fictitious) Missile Gap between NATO and the the Soviet Union. The reason given being that, if we could establish ourselves in orbit and on the moon first, we could lay claim to it and prevent the Russians from gaining orbital superiority over us.

    In fact, when asked for budget increases, Kennedy put money directly into booster development. But the Congressional Armed Services Committee was the branch of congress given responsibility for deciding NASA's budget, at least early on (it was soon switched over to the Committee on Science and Astronautics).

    During the 87th congress, the main reason that so many congressmen pledged their support to NASA was because of the fear that Yuri Gagarin's flight had caused; congress voted the very next day after his flight was announced to expand NASA, with many representatives specifically citing military and defense reasons for their votes.
  8.  (5884.16)
    Space ballons. That Kittinger fellow made it up pretty damn far, and this was in something like '51. Surely we've advanced far enough to strap a couple of those to a rocket module, detatch when it's high enough and have it ignite in free fall.

    Someone explain to me why this would not work.
    • CommentTimeMay 18th 2009
    Balloons - meet potential shortage of floaty gas in... what, 2010? 2012?...

    until you get to the moon and start mining H-8 in sufficient quantities, which you'd also need to get a serious foot-hold onto Mars space and all those luvverly, luvverly rocks beyond.
  9.  (5884.18)
    But the sheer volume of fuel that could be saved with a low earth orbit ignition!

    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeMay 18th 2009
    @Encephalo Ray:

    The balloon could get you as HIGH as low earth orbit, but you still wouldn't BE in low earth orbit.

    Altitude is not orbit.

    Orbit is altitude plus considerable lateral velocity. 28,000 kph.

    What you'd save on is the fuel needed to GET to that speed in an atmosphere.
  10.  (5884.20)
    In my brain, I intended for a short period of freefall to occur in which the module - once detatched from the ballons, of course - would build up to escape velocity. See Newton's Cannon. That type of thing.