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Is this the End of NASA?

  1. Oct 28, 2008 #1
    Click here to read Article:

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 28, 2008 #2


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    Not sure of that article in particular but Nasa has definitely lost it's way. I think Ares is just the last straw.

    The aeronautic half is just hidden subsidy to Boeing, the science missions have been scaled back in favour of pointless man-in-space publicity rides and as for the shuttle, does the US even have a commercial satelite launch capability any more?

    My last direct contact with this stuff was >10 years on Hubble projects - even then Nasa was like dealing with the state railroad company of some former soviet republic.
    I doubt that it's attracting the best and brightest of US science grads today.
  4. Oct 28, 2008 #3
    More design flaws found in Ares I rocket
    by Staff Writers
    Cape Canaveral, Fla. (UPI) Oct 26, 2008

    More problems have been found with the design of the next-generation manned U.S. spacecraft launch rocket, leading some to wonder if it will ever be built.

    Computer models show the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's 309-foot-tall Ares I rocket could be affected by "liftoff drift," in which its motor could cause it to jump sideways at ignition, The Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel reported Sunday. One NASA contractor told the newspaper the latest problem is shaking confidence in whether Ares' flaws will become too expensive to fix.

    "I get the impression that things are quickly going from bad to worse to unrecoverable," the unnamed contractor said.

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 28, 2008
  5. Oct 28, 2008 #4


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    You guys are kidding, right? The Ares I project started in April of 2005. It is now October of 2008. That's 3 1/2 years. It is only halfway through its design process! First flight is scheduled for June, 2011 (they are never on time, though). By comparison, the Shuttle program was 9 years from announcement to first flight.

    Welcome to engineering, guys! If you could just plop a fully functional design down on paper right off the top of your head, life would be a lot simpler, but that just ain't how it works!
  6. Oct 28, 2008 #5
  7. Oct 28, 2008 #6


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    No - unfortunately how it works is:
    We have to launch in 2010 because we already have the logo done and the two zeros look really good. Don't worry if it can't lift the necessary payload or it won't do the mission, the important thing is for us not to miss the projected budget round.

    I heard Ares referred to as Project Goldilocks, Ares I is too small to lift anything, Ares IV is too heay to launch and Ares II/III (aka just right) were cancelled.
  8. Oct 28, 2008 #7

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    A pair of lions escaped from the zoo. One said to the other "We ought to split up so at least one of us can survive. Let's get back together six months from now." After six months the lions reunite. One is skin and bones, mangy, and practically maneless. The other, sleek and fat. The skinny one says "Look at you! Look at me!! I ate one human, and the pursuit was relentless. I had to survive on rats and garbage. How did you fare so well?" "I camped out at NASA's main gate. I ate a civil servant a day, and nobody noticed a thing."

    Unfortunately, that joke was very appropriate 10+ years ago. NASA hired very few people other than beancounters from the end of the Apollo era to the late 90s. What finally changed was that NASA came to the realization that they had outsourced everything but beancounting; they had very little technical expertise. The NASA of today is a bit more savvy than the NASA you knew, mgb_phys.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2008
  9. Oct 28, 2008 #8


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    I hope so - I remember a 'discussion' about the logo on the Faint Object Camera images.
    It was a european built instrument and so had the ESA logo on the publicity images. Nasa also added the Nasa logo to all HST images.

    But the ESA logo is square and the Nasa logo is rectangular, so if they were both printed the same width, the Nasa one appeared smaller. So there were 'discussions' about renegotiating the agreement so that they were displayed with equal areas.

    This was before COSTAR - so the mission was in deep trouble, and Nasa's main concern was aspect ratios of logos.
  10. Oct 28, 2008 #9
    This is true. Especially with larger and more complex projects, these things always just take a lot of time. I will agree that NASA has some MAJOR issues but I think its to early to tell at this point if the ship is gonna sink.

    Plus, since China is now getting into the space game I think space technology will be getting a little more attention in the US. Either that or we will outsource it to China or India. All the engineers at NASA will have to accept minimum wage jobs and 25% of our astronauts will die equipment failure related incidents. But it will be OK though because we will be saving 3 million a year.
  11. Nov 8, 2008 #10
    lol nice
  12. Nov 9, 2008 #11


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    Well, I can disagree with your first part since we definitely don't do anything with Boeing and we have a lot of irons in the coals with NASA.

    I will agree that it is a huge bureaucracy and stuck in its ways. Many ways are justified from experience but need to be tempered with a new engineering regime. We can not base the way we operate on the way we did things back in the '60s even if they did work well. NASA has yet to evolve in many ways.
  13. Nov 9, 2008 #12


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    Ok that was a little unfair - Nasa does a large amount of aeronautics research which is available to any US manufacturer of large civil aircraft. They then talk about how much of the 777 was due to Nasa research. www.nasa.gov/centers/langley/pdf/70905main_LG-1998-05-499-HQ.pdf

    A case with the WTO alleges that NASA funds about $20Bn of research for Boeing's large commercial aricraft business.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2008
  14. Nov 9, 2008 #13


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    ESA is/was even worse - it's like NASA but involves a dozen different countries so projects are chopped up and pork barrelled based on politics and national contributions, any techncial arguement turns into a diplomatic incident!

    One story I heard from Hubble was that a small country got some tiny % of an instrument and had contributed a PSU - which contained fuses! It had been built by an aircraft company and their aviation authorites required fuses.
    The aviation authority wouldn't change it's ruling and the company wouldn't build anything that wasn't approved by the aviation authority. In the end it was rebuilt by the main contractor as an overspend - apparently this is the main part of any multinational space or defence program in Europe.

    There is a brilliant parody from someone inside NASA about how the west would have been won if Nasa had been in charge of exploring it - does anyone have a copy?
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