# News BushObama unveils NASA expansion plan

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1. Dec 21, 2009

### mugaliens

http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/space/01/14/bush.space/" [Broken]: "President Bush Wednesday [January 14, 2004] unveiled an ambitious plan to return Americans to the moon by 2020 and use the mission as a steppingstone for future manned trips to Mars and beyond."

http://blogs.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2009/12/exclusiveobama.html" [Broken]: "Obama's support for a $1 billion bump next year represents a major coup for the agency given the ballooning deficit and the continuing recession. And NASA just won a$1 billion boost from Congress for 2010 in a bill signed by the president.

According to knowledgeable sources, the White House is convinced that scarce NASA funds would be better spent on a simpler heavy-lift vehicle that could be ready to fly as early as 2018."

http://www.launchcomplexmodels.com/Direct/documents/DIRECT_ISDC_2009.pdf"...

Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
2. Jan 17, 2010

### edpell

Space Exploration Corporation of Los Angeles seem to have space launch covered. There is no reason for NASA to do anything except buy launch services from SpaceX. http://www.spacex.com/

3. Jan 17, 2010

### Pinu7

God, this is true idiocy! Hopefully, the money would be spent mostly for space observations rather than "man on planet" escapades(why do we need them, anyway?)

4. Jan 17, 2010

### edpell

It is a bad idea to keep all our eggs in one basket.

5. Jan 17, 2010

### D H

Staff Emeritus
Give me a break! One successful launch carrying a puny payload into orbit does not qualify as having "space launch covered". They have made one baby step start. The Falcon 1 is a brand new rocket with one successful launch. The Falcon 9, a heavy lifter, has not even had its first test flight yet. Don't count your chickens before they're hatched.

True idiocy would be to spend most of the money for space observations. To what end?

Space science yields a terrible scientific return on investment compared to Earth-based science. Two countries, the US and Russia, spend far more than any other country on robotic space flight. These two countries also spend far, far more than any other country on human space flight. The primary motivation for robotic space flight is that one day we might follow. Without that motivating factor robotic space flight will have to compete on its own against Earth-based science. Couple that with demands for feeding starving children, giving medicine to senior citizens, paying off a humongous debt, fighting wars, repairing declaying roads and bridges, ..., and robotic space flight advocates will be hard pressed to justify anything but Earth observation satellites.

A quarter of a century ago one country decided to ban government funding of human space flight activities. This was done partly for political reasons (problems across the Channel) and partly at the behest of that country's space scientists. Those space scientists foresaw all that wasted money spent on "escapades" going to better use -- their own. Didn't work. Great Britain has very few space scientists left because almost all of the tiny monies they did spend on space science went across the Channel. Great Britain very recently rescinded that ban. They are once again are talking about supporting human space flight. Perhaps we should learn a lesson from them and not repeat their mistake.

6. Jan 17, 2010

### Pinu7

I do not think that any stretch of the imagination would ever make mars viable.

7. Jan 17, 2010

### MotoH

First the moon. lets spend the human element on the moon. Mars is still far out as far as man goes. We make a moon base that is capable of launching rockets to other locations, and we have gotten rid of that pesky part about having to get out and into an atmosphere. Next we shoot for Mar's moon. Build a space station there that is capable of launching to mars itself (here we need atmospheric rockets) and then mars is viable as a colony. We will need a significant leap in propulsion to get us anywhere outside of the solar system in a reasonable amount of time.

8. Jan 18, 2010

### edpell

9. Jan 18, 2010

### Al68

We wouldn't even need stand alone colonies. For that matter, Mars has everything humans need to live already there if we have a good setup. A good antenna could probable even pick up HBO.

10. Jan 19, 2010

### aquitaine

Space science is never a waste, because of it we understand far more about our universe than we did before any of that. Even the possibility that there may once have been life on Mars, or that there could now be life on Europa has staggering implications for our entire race. The reason for it's higher cost is mainly because of NASA's failure to develop a low cost method of putting stuff into orbit. Granted the space shuttle was a good concept, but its implementation was deeply flawed eventually leading to its high support costs. The Skylon has much more promise.

In any case the accomplishments of NASA during these past 20 years despite having one of, if not the smallest budgets compared to other federal administrations (such as the military) have been outstanding. It makes you wonder just what we could have done had we chosen to spend more resources and effort on NASA instead of pouring so much into the black hole that is the Military-Industrial Complex. Space is the future, and if we aren't willing to reach out and touch the stars, someone else will, and we may not like the result of losing our leadership. It's already starting to happen.

Part of the problem is politicians generally would rather not spend much money on space science period. Those scientists who cheered for the ban watched with horror as the politicians turned their axes towards those scientists own budgets. Now where is Britain? For the past couple of decades it has largely been sitting on the sidelines while NASA and to a lesser degree the Russians did all the exploration and took all the glory, sitting there reminicing of glory from long long ago.

Part of the problem for us has been we haven't had leaders with real vision for a while, and most of the population is too transfixed with whatever is on television to care much about accomplishing grand things.

11. Jan 20, 2010

### BobG

A good concept would be "What launch method provides the cheapest, most reliable method of putting objects in space?" and picking a method that meets that objective. The shuttle was picked because politicians ignorant of space, in general, decided that it only takes common sense to realize that a reusable spacecraft has to be the cheapest option, so build that! No matter how expensive it turns out to be!

The implementation was as good as it could be, given that they started out with the flawed concept that the spacecraft had to be reusable.

The US space program would probably be existing on half as much money as it does today. In fact, military spending on space is usually more than NASA spending on space.

Granted, the military space program contributes little, directly, to space science, but it contributes heavily to space technology, in general. In fact, thanks to the combined spending of NASA and the military, the space industry has matured to the point that the military is starting to buy commercial off the shelf satellites to modify for military purposes, rather than having satellites designed from scratch - an investment return that's making continued access to space less expensive.

U.S. Military Space Programs: An Overview of Appropriations and Current Issues (2006)

NASA Budget History (Wikipedia)

Last edited: Jan 20, 2010
12. Jan 20, 2010

### D H

Staff Emeritus
There were flawed concepts with the Shuttle, but it was not reusability. One such flawed concept was the huge cross-range capability mandated by the military for launch and landing at Vandenberg. That capability was never used. Another costly design was making the Shuttle a lifting body. The Mach 25 entry velocity to the ~200 knot landing speed represents a *huge* dynamic range.

13. Jan 20, 2010

### aquitaine

Out of curiousity what else was wrong with it?

On another note, the Skylon seems to be a much more sensible sensible and efficient design. One of the other things that costs extra money is the need not only to go out to the ocean to retrieve the spent boosters but also to rebuild that big enormous fuel tank after each and every launch. Certainly didn't help things.

14. Jan 20, 2010

### mgb_phys

Having incredibly complex main engines which were never going to be enough, if you need external boosters why not just use only boosters - just to maintain the concept that this is a reusable craft not a mere rocket.

Having a cryogenic fuel tank above/ahead of the crew vessel means you are always going to be flying into a cloud of ice/debris - they just got lucky for most of the launches.

The size/mass of the shuttle that needs lifting into orbit on every flight, yes it's reusable but at huge 'delivery' cost. Part of this was set by Air Force requirements that it could make a polar orbit flying from California - which it never did.

Having a manned launcher in the first place. This limits the components/fuel/booster technology you can use for the payloads. Which makes every package you launch on it cost a lot more than on a throw away.
Which is why it hasn't launched many non-military/scientific payloads.

15. Jan 20, 2010

### mheslep

To avoid that range the wings should have been deployable, below say Mach 1, and tucked away for ascent and re-entry. Either that or go without.

16. Jan 21, 2010

### mgb_phys

That was supposedly an Air Force requirement. If a polar launch couldn't reach orbit it was required to be able to abort back to Vandenberg - which meant a >1000mile glide.

Last edited: Jan 21, 2010
17. Jan 21, 2010

### mheslep

Hmm. Is the shuttle really capable of 'gliding' a 1000 miles? Yes it can cover the distance but how much of that is simple balistic re-entry, ie most of that distance could also be covered by a wingless capsule?

18. Jan 21, 2010

### Nuno Amiar

I just want to remind here, that space exploration on modern age (post-modern to some), is essencial to the development of the modern countries. The satellite is key to provide improved telecomunications, GPS positioning, security and most likely another number of advantages that I do not know. Don't jump into conclusions without seeing the overall picture.
Emerging powers like China, India? and other countries are as interested as the US in space exploration for the already obvious mentioned beneficts. So, is investing in NASA a bad economical investment? Only future will tell, but it is most likely not.
As a second argument, don't forget that it is from these centers of investigation that some of the most important modern technologies were founded, the internet being the greatest of the examples.

19. Jan 21, 2010

### D H

Staff Emeritus
The Air Force requirement that drove the cross-range requirement was to provide the ability to launch from Vandenberg, quickly deploy (design reference mission 3A) or capture (design reference mission 3B) something while on-orbit, and return to Vandenberg, forming a quick once-around mission. There is a key problem with this concept: In the roughly 90 minutes it takes to complete the mission, Vandenberg will rotated about 2000 km to the east. If the Shuttle had only had a down-range glide capability these once-around missions would have made the Shuttle land in the Pacific.

Space Shuttle System Baseline Reference Missions, Volume III - Mission 3A and Mission 3B
http://www.jamesoberg.com/sts-3A_B-DRM.PDF

20. Jan 21, 2010

### mgb_phys

True - the question is how much Nasa holds back the exploitation of space.

EADs, the commercial company that launches Ariane, doesn't seem to have suffered from the UK blocking plans to use it to put a couple of men in orbit.
Note since the challenger accident the Shuttle hasn't been used to launch any commercial payloads.

Yes in the 50-60s Nasa did develop a lot of the technology used in space - but most succesfull launchers are based on ICMB designs (Ariane, Atlas, Titan).
It's not clear that channeling money to Nasa for Space shuttle/man on mars type projects advances future GPS, weather sats etc

21. Jan 21, 2010

### Nuno Amiar

Yes, of course. I understand why you would question exploration of Mars for example specially in such an economical crisis. I myself ask the same and haven't come up with a definite answer. I've heard that private space tourism companies are showing up and that might be the boost the sector needed (vs public investment). I believe that would be the correct approach, although my understanding of economics is minimum. I also had the idea that NASA was trying expand its structure and enter the market, am I correct?

22. Jan 21, 2010

### D H

Staff Emeritus
These items (telecommunications, GPS, security) have two things in common: None of those are NASA's job and none of them qualify as space exploration.

23. Jan 21, 2010

### aquitaine

NASA should stick with science. That being said, the biggest problem has been the lack of a low cost launch option, which NASA was largely responsible for not developing. Without that, we can't exploit space anywhere near to its full potential (and what a potential it has).

24. Jan 21, 2010

### mgb_phys

25. Jan 21, 2010

### BobG

Some might say the biggest threat facing us is the possibility of a low cost launch option. Most militaries would shudder at the thought that every move their troops made would be seen by their enemy. It's also much easier to defeat troops that can't communicate with each other, and therefore can't coordinate their efforts.

War is very good for commercial satellite companies. The two countries (or at least the richer one) buy up all available communication bandwidth and buy up all commercial satellite imagery.

If launching a satellite were cheap and easy, everyone would do it and a rich country couldn't buy up all available resources.