# Obama to Abandon Human Space Flight?

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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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A heavy lifter sounds good. "Cargo only" sounds not-as-wildly-expensive. Maybe instead of spending millions on 1% better safety, they hire 1% braver astronauts?

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The astronauts are quite brave enough. It's the politicians and accountants that need a spinal infusion.

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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 do we need manned flight? Humans are an impediment. Too fragile.

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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.

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.... ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites 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? ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites 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. ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites 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. ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites 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? ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites 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 ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites 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.)

To repeat;

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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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