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Space Travel

  1. Jul 3, 2006 #1
    This is my first posting so please feel free to move the topic to the appropriate section in case I posted it in the wrong section.

    With yet another problem announced with the space shuttle this morning I wonder if someone could explain why we almost 40 years after the supposed moon landing are hardly capable of smooth space flights?

    Do I have to believe that we were so much smarter in '69? And why is it that we have not gone to the moon for decades?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 3, 2006 #2


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    The Shuttle is very different, it is a vehicle made for "repeated" space flights, which is one of the problems.

    Why do you think we should spend the money to keep going back to the moon? Do you know something the rest of us don't? There is no point in returning at this time. We went there to make a statement, it was a milestone, not to mention the information we hoped to gain, such as the origins of the moon.
  4. Jul 3, 2006 #3
    I do not think that at al :)
    But, for logic's sake, spending money to "make a statement" as you call it is good allocation of money?
    And how did you determine that "there is no point", or is this simply "parrot's wisdom"?
    By the way, the Chinese seem to differ. :)
  5. Jul 3, 2006 #4


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    You have to remember the political climate at the time. We were in a "race for space" with the Russians. The money allocated for the space program is definitely a good allocation of money.

    We have nothing to gain by immediately going back to the moon. There are long term plans regarding the moon, but to go back now just to appease conspiracy theorists would indeed be a waste of money.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2006
  6. Jul 3, 2006 #5
    From what I've gathered from the Columbia AIB report, NASA has been overstating the reliability of the shuttle for decades; by usual engineering standards it's still a "developmental" craft in its "test flight" stages, but administrators hyped it up as being "operational" to inflate its value to Congress and avoid losing funding. According to the AIB there has always been tension between engineers and managment at NASA, because of the latter's unrealistic demands on the shuttle. Perhaps one of our engineers would comment on how solid this assessment is?

    Columbia Accident Investigation Board report:
    http://caib.nasa.gov/news/report/volume1/default.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  7. Jul 3, 2006 #6


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    Well, China wants to make a statement - that they are capable of the technology required to travel to the Moon. Like the US in 1969 - 1972, it is a matter of prestige. The Chinese can afford it, the US cannot.

    There has always been tension between engineers (those who actually develop and understand science and technology) and management (actually non-technical managers who don't understand or know the technology) :grumpy:, and it is not just NASA - it's basically any industry. The problem is often unrealistic expectations of those who don't know the technology.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2006
  8. Jul 3, 2006 #7
    Perhaps your view of the future of spaceflight would be more reasonable, if you could get the history correct. :devil:

    In the economically and scientifically important aspects of space exploration, we're actually doing extremely well! We've launched robotic probes to eight other planets (and beyond); we have a regular system for reliably launching earth satellites at reasonable prices (awesome benefits to everything from meteorology and communications, to espionage and gravity-wave detection); we even have a giant space telescope in LEO. There's very little need for sending humans into orbit to do repairs, where robots can do almost as well. There's less need yet for sending them to the moon, or some other planet. The fact that it's currently unfeasible to do so is a very small loss to humanity. :cool:
  9. Jul 3, 2006 #8


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    We've done pretty well with one way trips. :biggrin:

    It's the round-trips that have been problematic.

    As Evo mentioned, the Shuttle was designed for reuse - which was supposed to be more economical. Well it isn't. It makes about as much sense economically (and still probably less) as someone driving to work in a bus - alone.

    The Shuttle design is the result of compromise. Originally the DOD (USAF) was going to participate, but the pulled out.

    The SRB's were problematic, and so is the ET now.

    ISS has also been problematic. ISS was envisioned as an intermediate step to the moon and Mars. It's design morphed down so many times in the 80's :rolleyes:, it's mission changed, and with escalating costs, other nations were invited to participate.
  10. Jul 3, 2006 #9


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    I think the best answer to your question has much less to do with the shuttle and more to do with the rationale for ambitious space programmes.

    Going to the Moon had nothing to do with space exploration and everything to do with the space race between USA and Russia. But now, with no competing superpower, there is no reason to bleed the nation's coffers to finance a huge mission such as the Apollo programme.
  11. Jul 14, 2006 #10
    I think I can tell you why system sucks.
    We don't know how to make rockets. Aka, we lost the Germans ho built the Appollo rockets.

    Yes, the Appollo Rockets, were created by Nazi's. Actualyl Nazi's who used Jew-Slave labor, to build V-2 rocket parts. These Nazi's new what they were doing, and they wanted men in space. They built the Appollo's with unlimited resources and nearly unlimited American drive (aka, the people actually cared).

    Now I will list the problem with the space shuttle.
    The fuel tank. Thats a problem.
    The fact that the space shuttle is so freakin big. The actual "Shuttle" part of the craft, is the last stage, which, should be expendable by fact. The fuel tank and SRB's are much more important, because, they get the payload up there. This is a problem.

    The Space Shuttle, I suppose, has only been good for a few things. The ISS (which is another pointless piece of crap), the Hubble Telescope (the best machine we have ever developed), and fixing stuff in space (including, itself). And, sucking 1,000,000,000 dollars out of our wallets every launch.

    SO simply put:
    Question 1: Crappy Vehicles, crappy funding.

    Question 2: We, are not smarter, then the Germans and the Moon, is pointless Mars is better.
  12. Jul 14, 2006 #11


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    We were a little lucky with the early manned space program. Most space programs have a launch success rate around 95%. The first few launches of any new booster are usually the riskiest.

    Between Mercury, Gemini, and Appollo (including missions to Skylab), you had 31 manned launches prior to the shuttle. You would have expected one or two of the missions to turn out badly. Only Apollo 13 had a serious mishap and the astronauts survived it.

    There have been about 115 shuttle missions. You would expect 5 or 6 to turn out badly. Only two have been failures. Of course, once you successfully get past the first few, the success rate should be above 95%. In other words, the shuttle isn't out of the ordinary in its success to failure rate.

    The risk of shuttle launches should be expected. We'd probably experience about the same loss even if we had used expendable launch vehicles.

    The difference between the shuttle and using expendable vehicles is the cost. There was a vision that reusable space vehicles would make getting to space a lot less expensive. Somewhere along the line, the idea of reusable space vehicles became such a matter of national pride that no one could pull the plug when it became evident that reusable vehicles would actually be more expensive .... at least given the current level of technology.
  13. Jul 14, 2006 #12


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    Well Apollo 1 went badly.

    Oxygen environment in the Apollo command capsule was two high.

    Apollo 13 wasn't as bad - the astronauts returned.

    The big problem with the space program is the inertia of such a program, i.e. its hard to stop once it gets going in a particular direction, in conjunction with the fact that presidential administrations change on a 4 or 8 year cycle, and Congress changes on a 2 years cycle.

    NASA has 9 centers and many supporting contractors scattered across the US. It is for similar reasons that Defense related programs cost so much. The manned missions are supervised out of Johnson Space Center, launched from Kennedy Space Center, and Marshall Space Flight Center is responsible for the booster vehicles, which in the case of the Shuttle's ET is manufactured at the Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans, Louisiana, with the SRB segments manufactured at ATK (fomerly Thiokol) and assembled at Kennedy. The logistics are problematic.


    The motivation behind the shuttle was to reuse the expensive hardware, viz. the SSME's. But the cost of maintaining the Shuttle fleet, and a host of design problems, which were not properly addressed were a big problem.

    Could it have been done better? Certainly.

    Could it be done better? Certainly.

    Can we improve the way the federal government performs? :rolleyes:
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