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Obama to Abandon Human Space Flight?


Pangloss
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Apparently the Obama administration is not going to fund Constellation/Ares. The moon is now out, there's no shuttle replacement, and NASA is subject to the budget freeze. America's human presence in space is slated to conclude in 2020. (They didn't quite make "... before the decade is out," eh?)

 

There is some chatter about a new heavy-lifter a decade or more down the road. No talk at all about a manned vehicle. The only dim light on the horizon is the possibility of funding for commercial enterprises, the hope being that some private company could eventually build something that could reach the ISS.

 

What do you all think?

 

Couple stories worth a look:

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/space/os-no-moon-for-nasa-20100126,0,2770904.story

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/space/os-nasa-budget-boost-012810-20100127,0,5884253.story

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I think its too bad we didn't cancel this program years ago because we could have saved quite a bit of money. The Saturn rockets developed in the 1960's are similar to the requested specs for Constellation/Aries.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_super_heavy_lift_launch_systems

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn_V

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ares_V

 

Saturn V Payload: 118,800 kg to LEO; 47,000 kg to Lunar vicinity

Ares V Payload: 148,300 kg to LEO; 60,600 kg to Lunar vicinity

 

 

Maybe the extra 13,600 kg to the moon would be worth a new program, but I don't think that is a gamechanger considering we could alternatively send two Saturn V rockets to accomplish the same thing. Why didn't/don't we simply dust off the blueprints and rebuild the Saturn V if we want a super heavy lift system?

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Maybe the extra 13,600 kg to the moon would be worth a new program, but I don't think that is a gamechanger considering we could alternatively send two Saturn V rockets to accomplish the same thing. Why didn't/don't we simply dust off the blueprints and rebuild the Saturn V if we want a super heavy lift system?

 

Because the lovely company who built them for us, decided after the moon landing that they didn't need them any more, and decided that the best way to save money on protecting these confidential documents was to destroy them. As a bonus, now they are the only ones who know how to build the things, more or less, and we have to hire them to do it all over again. Mmmm, profits.

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Why didn't/don't we simply dust off the blueprints and rebuild the Saturn V if we want a super heavy lift system?

 

What blueprints?

 

Those plans don't exist, at least not in enough detail to replicate them. A lot of the studies don't exist. NASA was under the gun to get a *huge* job done in less than a decade. Do a rush job on anything and something will suffer. In the case of Apollo, what suffered was adequate documentation to replicate what they did.

 

A lot of what they did was very empirical. For example, the pogo problem (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pogo_oscillation and http://yarchive.net/space/rocket/pogo.html) was solved by trial-and-error. The rocket scientists of the 1960s did not have computational fluid dynamics techniques to analytically determine how their propulsion systems worked. They "solved" the pogo problem by experimentally adding baffles, dampers, etc. to change the characteristic frequency. They never really did solve the problem; they just mitigated it. Pogo remained a problem on all Apollo launches. Apollo 13 in particular was very lucky: Had the second stage not cut off early, the pogo oscillations they were experiencing would have torn the vehicle apart. Apollo 13 was seconds away from blowing up before it even got on-orbit.

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What blueprints?

 

Those plans don't exist, at least not in enough detail to replicate them. A lot of the studies don't exist. NASA was under the gun to get a *huge* job done in less than a decade. Do a rush job on anything and something will suffer. In the case of Apollo, what suffered was adequate documentation to replicate what they did.

 

A lot of what they did was very empirical. For example, the pogo problem (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pogo_oscillation and http://yarchive.net/space/rocket/pogo.html) was solved by trial-and-error. The rocket scientists of the 1960s did not have computational fluid dynamics techniques to analytically determine how their propulsion systems worked. They "solved" the pogo problem by experimentally adding baffles, dampers, etc. to change the characteristic frequency. They never really did solve the problem; they just mitigated it. Pogo remained a problem on all Apollo launches. Apollo 13 in particular was very lucky: Had the second stage not cut off early, the pogo oscillations they were experiencing would have torn the vehicle apart. Apollo 13 was seconds away from blowing up before it even got on-orbit.

 

 

I disagree adequate plans never existed. Clearly the blueprints exist (or they did) in sufficient form to build many Saturn V rockets. Otherwise, Apollo 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and Skylab would not have happened. There is a complete Saturn V rocket in a musuem in Houston, it would also be possible (though admitedly difficult) to reverse engineer it.

 

Now I'll grant NASA may have gambled and got lucky with this rocket regarding some safety aspects. If that is the case, then that might be a good reason for a new design if it isn't possible to modify the Saturn V to solve this problem.

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Re what DH said: this is why we shouldn't let NASA get their panties in a bunch over safety. There is so much more we could do in space now if we weren't worried about whether it was safe. Cause it's not. Certain designs are also inherently unsafe. We can send robots if the humans are cowardly. Though I'd agree with JohnB that it is the administrators not the astronauts that are being cowards.

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According the Sentinel: “…the White House will direct NASA to concentrate on Earth-science projects — principally, researching and monitoring climate change.” NASA will reportedly receive a budget increase of $200-$300 million over its current $18.7 billion budget.[/Quote]

 

http://blog.heritage.org/2010/01/27/obama-is-no-kennedy-redefines-nasas-mission-as-global-warming/

 

The purpose of NASA, is being changed....You would NOT like my comments, so will withhold....

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http://blog.heritage.org/2010/01/27/obama-is-no-kennedy-redefines-nasas-mission-as-global-warming/

 

The purpose of NASA, is being changed....You would NOT like my comments, so will withhold....

 

Actually, the first line of NASA's mission statement used to be "to understand and protect our home planet" until it was deleted by the Bush administration in 2006.

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It’s a story so familiar it has achieved popular status as NASA’s creation legend: when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in October 1957, it shocked the flat-footed United States into action, locking the Cold War gladiators into a space race. Like most legends, there is a kernel of truth in it, but the full story is more complex. The United States had been working fervently for years to develop its own capability to reach space, most famously through the efforts of Wernher von Braun’s group of rocket scientists at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency. More than two years before Sputnik, the United States had already announced its intention to launch a satellite that would collect scientific data “to benefit scientists from all nations.” The launch would be the centerpiece of the United States’ participation in the first International Geophysical Year (IGY), an oft-overlooked event that helped set the stage for space exploration.

 

Despite what its name suggests, the IGY was an eighteen-month period from July 1, 1957, through December 31, 1958, during which scientists around the world conducted coordinated observations in eleven earth science disciplines. The IGY began with forty-six participant countries; sixty-seven ultimately became involved. Both Sputnik and Explorer I, the U.S. satellite launch that followed four months later, took place during the IGY. The IGY helped define aims and values that have characterized much of our first fifty years in space: an emphasis on science missions whose results are shared with international communities of scientists. One of the three elements in NASA’s mission statement describes a goal similar to that of the IGY, though grander: “To advance and communicate scientific knowledge and understanding of the earth, the solar system, and the universe.” [/Quote]

 

http://askmagazine.nasa.gov/issues/32/32i_shaping_the_space_age.php

 

swansont;

 

You are welcome to believe, President Obama is redirecting the course of NASA, for other than a "Political Agenda", but don't try to convince me. I said, you would not like my comments and ironically, I MEANT you. NASA has long been involved in the Study of 'Earth Science' from its origin and has been an integral part of the mission, adding defense.

 

What's beyond disgusting IMO, is the politicization of another Scientific Field of study, the infiltration of people with a single minded ideology being implemented into the direction of a study, the influence of that authority (over the ignorant) and the money that will flow into the purpose. Your current discussion on Climategate, to me is reflective, of what will likely become of NASA in the future, arguments being along ideology lines, NOT the science.

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You are welcome to believe, President Obama is redirecting the course of NASA, for other than a "Political Agenda", but don't try to convince me. I said, you would not like my comments and ironically, I MEANT you. NASA has long been involved in the Study of 'Earth Science' from its origin and has been an integral part of the mission, adding defense.

 

If NASA has "long been involved in the Study of 'Earth Science'," then how is a commitment to the study of earth science "redirecting" NASA? How is this a change in its purpose?

 

I have made no mention of whether (or to what extent) that I thought the decision was politically motivated, so that's a moot point.

 

 

What's beyond disgusting IMO, is the politicization of another Scientific Field of study, the infiltration of people with a single minded ideology being implemented into the direction of a study, the influence of that authority (over the ignorant) and the money that will flow into the purpose. Your current discussion on Climategate, to me is reflective, of what will likely become of NASA in the future, arguments being along ideology lines, NOT the science.

 

And what single-minded ideology is this?

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Admittedly I'm speaking from ignorance, here, but has engineering not progressed in the last 40 years, that building more Saturn V rockets would be a good idea if we did have sufficient plans?

 

That too, might be a good reason to not simply re-build the Saturn V, although I would also suggest it might be easier to incorporate engineering advances with the Saturn V rather than design a new system. I have no way to know which would be easier to do.

 

This might account for the different lift values between the Saturn V and Ares V. Or not...

 

Maybe its me, but I just don't understand a decision to spend a vast amount of money to design something that isn't substantially (IMO) different than what we already have (had). There should be some clear scientific reason why. It could be increased safety as DH suggested. It could be easier to implement advances in a new system as Sisyphus suggested. Anyone know for certain?

 

Edit: Or maybe the extra payload is considered substantial and I am mistaken in my presumption?

Edited by SH3RL0CK
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The thing is this: Spirit and Opportunity cost about $1 billion, total.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Exploration_Rover

 

What would a manned mission do that a robotic mission cannot, that would justify the extra expense? The manned mission cost was estimated to be 40-80 times as much.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn4551-bush-to-announce-manned-mission-to-mars.html

 

(The plans for which included diverting money away from other science projects; the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), for example, was shelved during the Bush administration. Political agenda? I wonder.)

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To repeat;

According the Sentinel: “…the White House will direct NASA to concentrate on Earth-science projects — principally, researching and monitoring climate change.” NASA will reportedly receive a budget increase of $200-$300 million over its current $18.7 billion budget. [/Quote]

 

Your reply, in agreement;

Actually, the first line of NASA's mission statement used to be "to understand and protect our home planet" until it was deleted by the Bush administration in 2006.[/Quote]

 

Now...

I have made no mention of whether (or to what extent) that I thought the decision was politically motivated, so that's a moot point. [/Quote]

 

swansont; Have it your way...

 

And what single-minded ideology is this? [/Quote]

 

Your welcome to read any number of my comments on this, many of which on the forum. Whenever an ideology becomes involved (business/Government/IMO Science), hiring personnel, firing personnel, promotion of personnel, advisors chose (or not chose) IMO, the project becomes agenda oriented/driven.

 

Returning to the 'Moon', with a desired plan to continue on to Mars, has been, one primary goal for NASA and the funding of NASA for many years, if not decades. According to the article, this goal, will now change to "the White House will direct NASA to concentrate on Earth-science projects — principally, researching and monitoring climate change.” In my mind, the results of this reach (not arguing the need) will not be according to results.

 

As for the need, people should be involved, I happen to agree with you, we are far to fragile, robotic exploration should be the goal. Short of advancing artificial gravity, we are years from realistic addressing human flights to Mars or anyplace past the moon, however the study should continue. If for no other reason, someday we WILL need to travel some distance to somehow destroy or alter the path of pending impact of an object and I'd rather hope it will be by humans, even Russians, who seem to be most interested.

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The Chinese seem to be moving steadily forward with their manned efforts. Let's not be naive here -- the decision to cut this cost is socio-political, just as was the decision to have these efforts in the first place.

 

Human space flight has always been a socio-political venture. Some find that concept repugnant, but what exactly is wrong with it? The effort still has scientific merit, at least within its own field (and sometimes outside, e.g. medical knowledge), and in the overall scheme of the American economy (or even just the federal budget), the cost is a fly on the windshield. And is it really possible that space will ever be explored by human beings without a socio-political component?

 

And there is a political cost to this decision that should not be underestimated. One of the key political principles of all American presidents since World War II is that we can do more than one thing at a time -- we can fix the problems we have and at the same time strive for great new things. The Obama administration has pushed that even further in attempting to solve absolutely huge problems simultaneously while claiming that we're still a great country. But this decision undermines that principle. It says "we really need to focus on more serious problems", and the subtext of that statement is "we can only do one thing at a time".

 

Scientists should see this is a very bad answer to the question "if we can put a man on the moon, why can't we feed every person here on THIS planet?" This is a statement that whenever a big problem comes up at home, it's okay to cut back on wasteful scientific ventures until we've taken care of more important things. Today it's manned space flight. But it's not hard to see the exact same reasoning applied to other ventures, including unmanned space flight. How many starving Haitians does the Large Hadron Collider feed?

 

In the end, the only reason not to go is public opinion. Well in my opinion misunderstandings about monetary scale and global misconception of American arrogance are not a sufficient reasons to stop reaching for the stars.

Edited by Pangloss
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In the end, the only reason not to go is public opinion. Well in my opinion misunderstandings about monetary scale and global misconception of American arrogance are not a sufficient reasons to stop reaching for the stars.

 

I agree, but....

 

We can reach for the stars without putting men in space. Difficult cuts will need to be made. This seems to be an easy one.

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To repeat;

 

 

Your reply, in agreement;

 

 

Now...

 

 

swansont; Have it your way...

 

Since my reply was to you and not to the Sentinel, I can only see this as taking things out of context. Obama wants NASA to do earth science. That is, at its face, a science-driven motivation. I made the case that this is NOT a change or redirecting of its purpose, but rather a return to one of its original purposes.

 

So, I have to ask, do you have a point here?

 

 

Your welcome to read any number of my comments on this, many of which on the forum. Whenever an ideology becomes involved (business/Government/IMO Science), hiring personnel, firing personnel, promotion of personnel, advisors chose (or not chose) IMO, the project becomes agenda oriented/driven.

 

You've named several possible ideologies (Or possibly not. Hiring is necessarily an ideology?) You said there is a single-minded ideology driving this. Again I ask: what is it?

 

Returning to the 'Moon', with a desired plan to continue on to Mars, has been, one primary goal for NASA and the funding of NASA for many years, if not decades. According to the article, this goal, will now change to "the White House will direct NASA to concentrate on Earth-science projects — principally, researching and monitoring climate change.” In my mind, the results of this reach (not arguing the need) will not be according to results.

 

Many decades? Really? How much money was in the NASA budget for manned exploration of the moon or Mars before the Bush directive, dating back to the end of the Apollo program?

 

The effect of Bush's directive was to kill many science projects funded by NASA had been funding. I know a number of people at JPL who were working on experiments which got shut down (actual science, as opposed to much of what goes on on the ISS)

so I see this as a return to science, because you can do a heck of a lot more science for the dollar with these other projects that don't involve manned exploration.

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So, I have to ask, do you have a point here? [/Quote]

 

Must. I repeat everything; Y E S

 

"swansont; Have it your way..."

 

You've named several possible ideologies (Or possibly not. Hiring is necessarily an ideology?) You said there is a single-minded ideology driving this. Again I ask: what is it? [/Quote]

 

One leads to another, with an end result...That's not complicated.

 

Many decades? Really? How much money was in the NASA budget for manned exploration of the moon or Mars before the Bush directive, dating back to the end of the Apollo program? [/Quote]

 

"Returning to the 'Moon', with a desired plan to continue on to Mars, has been, one primary goal for NASA and the funding of NASA for many years" since the Bush initiative, "if not decades" since the program began. Admittedly, the political intentions were more interested in Security/Defense, but I'm sure the science community felt they were the start of "reaching for the Stars"....Would go further with other National Priorities that STARTED with Johnson, but would be off topic.

 

The effect of Bush's directive was to kill many science projects funded by NASA had been funding. I know a number of people at JPL who were working on experiments which got shut down (actual science, as opposed to much of what goes on the ISS)

so I see this as a return to science, because you can do a heck of a lot more science for the dollar with these other projects that don't involve manned exploration. [/Quote]

 

I'm a little confused on your point; Are you saying the Bush initiative, COST jobs for your friends. If that's the case, Obama, probably will eliminate the rest. Has "Curiosity" been canceled, the James Webb program or was any major project over the past nine years, many completed.

 

I don't really know much about the Space Station, or its value to science, long or short term, but feel sure it's providing a great deal of information, on many issues, we may not be hearing about. The problem is it's there, near complete and should be maintained, at least in part by the US. If they can, assume an objective, private industry can do this, that's fine with me. You do understand, I agreed with you on robotic space ventures, over manned, don't you....

 

Am late for my Texas Holdem game...

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I'm a little confused on your point; Are you saying the Bush initiative, COST jobs for your friends. If that's the case, Obama, probably will eliminate the rest. Has "Curiosity" been canceled, the James Webb program or was any major project over the past nine years, many completed.

 

PARCS "cancelled to make way for the Vision for Space Exploration"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primary_Atomic_Reference_Clock_in_Space

 

JIMO "Due to a shift in priorities at NASA that favored manned space missions, the project lost funding in 2005, effectively cancelling the JIMO mission"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jupiter_Icy_Moons_Orbiter

 

SUMO

http://funphysics.jpl.nasa.gov/technical/grp/sumo.html

 

RACE

http://funphysics.jpl.nasa.gov/technical/lcap/race.html

 

(note the projected launch dates for these last two are several years ago; these have never gone up)

 

My point isn't about lost jobs, per se, it was about lost science in the name of manned exploration, which would contain less science. If you want to discuss jobs, I'd appreciate something more than a bald assertion that Obama "probably will eliminate the rest"

 

I don't really know much about the Space Station, or its value to science, long or short term, but feel sure it's providing a great deal of information, on many issues, we may not be hearing about. The problem is it's there, near complete and should be maintained, at least in part by the US. If they can, assume an objective, private industry can do this, that's fine with me. You do understand, I agreed with you on robotic space ventures, over manned, don't you....

 

On the contrary, the general opinion seems to be that almost no science of value has been done on the ISS

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We can reach for the stars without putting men in space.

 

Well okay but that implies that this is necessary. Why is it necessary? They're arguing that we need to save eight or nine billion a year out of a three trillion dollar budget (and actual expenditures of 4.5 trillion), which makes no logical sense at all. We are not going to balance the budget on the money we saved from the space program even if we combine it with 150 more programs of the same size!

 

Swansont has some legitimate points, IMO, but that's just part and parcel with the same underlying problem, which is the politicization of space exploration as a budget expenditure. We can easily afford more NASA programs and have zero reason whatsoever to cut a single one. We could run a dozen simultaneous, pointlessly-redundant manned space programs, and quadruple the budget of every other NASA project, and STILL we should not even be batting an eye at the cost.

 

But I know I'm basically preaching the choir here -- sorry to rant on about it. :)

Edited by Pangloss
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swansont quote;

If you want to discuss jobs, I'd appreciate something more than a bald assertion that Obama "probably will eliminate the rest" [/Quote]

 

Dr. John Harmen Marburger, III (born February 8, 1941) is an American physicist who was the Science Advisor to the President and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the administration of President George W. Bush.[/Quote]

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Marburger

 

Marburger, was Bush II, science advisor, most the eight years he was in office. In my brief review of his education and work, he may have been just qualified and not much more...

 

John Holdren, science advisor to Obama, IMO is going to advise adversely to your wishes, is a real nut job (“global police force” to enforce totalitarian measures of population control) and has no credentials for advising anything concerning space missions.

 

I personally don't believe Obama could tell you how many planets are in this solar system and really doesn't care. I'll refer you to an earlier argument, where like minded people are chose to advise on IMPORTENT issues!!!

 

I'll leave it to you, to value my opinion on what Obama actions, could mean to your wishes and those employed for 'Mission Projects'....

 

 

John P. Holdren is advisor to President Barack Obama for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)[1]

 

Holdren was previously the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, director of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program at the School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and Director of the Woods Hole Research Center.[2] [/Quote]

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Holdren

 

President Obama’s top science and technology advisor John P. Holdren co-authored a 1977 book in which he advocated the formation of a “planetary regime” that would use a “global police force” to enforce totalitarian measures of population control, including forced abortions, mass sterilization programs conducted via the food and water supply, as well as mandatory bodily implants that would prevent couples from having children.[/Quote]

 

http://www.prisonplanet.com/obama-science-advisor-called-for-planetary-regime-to-enforce-totalitarian-population-control-measures.html

 

 

On the contrary, the general opinion seems to be that almost no science of value has been done on the ISS. [/Quote]

 

I think the figures already spent are 100B$ on the ISS and 9B$ on the new booster rockets for the Shuttles replacement, over years. This may not seem like much, when considering trillion dollar 'annual' deficits, but I hope there is a way to use what ever has been learned, in the future. No matter what Congress is in 2011 or who the President is in 2013, or for that matter the next 20-40 years, there will not be much money to spend for any scientific endeavor.

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  1. My point isn't about lost jobs, per se, it was about lost science in the name of manned exploration, which would contain less science.

Science is not the one and only thing NASA is supposed to do. If NASA's only job was science, there would be very little to NASA. Those automated science missions only looks cheap in comparison to human space flight. Compared to terrestrial science, NASAs planetary science program is danged expensive. Do you and your friends think that NASA's science program could stand on its own against terrestrial science or against any of the other demands for the limited discretionary budget? If you do, that is rather naive.

 

This experiment has already been performed at least twice. A quarter of a century ago, Great Britain, at the behest of their space scientists, outlawed government funding of human space flight activities. Those space scientists thought that all the monies "wasted" on human space flight activities would flow their way instead. That is not what happened. What did happen is that Great Britain banned government spending on human spaceflight and curtailed spending on non-human space flight. The majority of Great Britain's space budget goes across the channel to fund ESA. There are very few space scientists left in Great Britain.

 

The US tried this experiment as well at the end of the Apollo program. The split between space scientists and human space flight proponents goes back to the Apollo era. Some space scientists saw the end of the Apollo program as a good thing. All that money wasted on sending people into space would flow their way. As is the case with Great Britain, that is not what happened.

 

In its heyday, NASA had extensive plans for building permanent manned outposts on the Moon and sending people to Mars and beyond. NASA sent unmanned precursors to Mars to pave the way for these human activities. The end of the Apollo-level funding doomed these long-term plans and also spelt a reduction in NASA unmanned budget. Why send robots if people would not soon follow?

 

China tried a related experiment in the early 1400s, more or less at the same time that Europe began awakening. China's age of exploration ended with the deaths of the The Yongle Emperor in 1423 and Zheng He in 1433. China was far ahead of the West in terms of exploration, science, technology, and culture up to this time. In the mid 1400s China turned inward -- and regressed.

 

It has taken China a half of a millennium to recover from its inward turn. It now has a nascent human space flight program. Great Britain has also learned from its mistake; it has recently started considering funding for human space flight activities.

 

 

This trial ballon (and it is just that -- a trial balloon) does not, as the title of the thread implies, abandon human space flight completely. Human space flight to low Earth orbit is not threatened. However, sending humans to low Earth orbit does not and will not grab the nation's attention. Sending humans to a near-Earth asteroid remains a viable option, and that could grab the nation's attention.

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