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NASA Goes Deep

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  • Ronn! Blankenship
    NASA Goes Deep By CAROLYN PORCO Published: February 20, 2007 Boulder, Colo. —
    Message 1 of 14 , Feb 21, 2007
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      <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/20/opinion/20porco.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1>

      NASA Goes Deep

      By CAROLYN PORCO
      Published: February 20, 2007

      Boulder, Colo. — AFTER years of spending our
      nation’s space budget building an orbiting space
      station of questionable utility, serviced by an
      operationally expensive space shuttle of unsafe
      design, NASA has set a new direction for the
      future of human spaceflight. Once again, we have
      our sights on the Moon ... and beyond. We are
      finally, bodily, going to make our way into space, this time to stay.

      It is an opinion long and widely held within the
      space-exploration community that the Nixon
      administration’s termination of the program that
      built the Saturn V Moon rocket was a gargantuan mistake.

      One of the biggest challenges in exploring space
      is propulsion — that is, getting from point A to
      B efficiently, safely and quickly. And when the
      cargo is human, the challenges are even greater.
      One of our crowning technological achievements
      during the 1960s was the Apollo program and, in
      particular, the development of the Saturn V
      rocket. The Saturn V was the largest, most
      powerful vehicle the United States had ever
      built. It had a launching capacity more than five
      times greater, a developmental cost 25 percent
      lower and a build-and-operate cost less than half
      of that of today’s space shuttle.

      In those early days, the possibilities for human
      space travel were intoxicating. Back then, NASA
      plans called for an aggressive integrated human
      flight program that would expand on the
      developments of Apollo: the establishment of a
      50-person lunar base, a 100-person Earth-orbiting
      space station and human landfall on Mars, all by
      the mid-1980s. Those plans also included a
      50-person semi-permanent Martian base by the end
      of the 20th century. Instead, we went nowhere.

      Why? Because, largely for political reasons, we
      renounced the Moon, abandoned Apollo and the
      Saturn V and retreated to low Earth orbit, where
      we’ve spent the last 25 years going around in circles.

      The cost to the nation of this misstep was
      enormous. For starters, we lost an investment,
      adjusted for inflation to 2007 dollars, of $160
      billion. That was the cost to get to, land on,
      walk on, drive on and otherwise explore the Moon.
      (Of that amount, $29 billion, in
      inflation-adjusted dollars, was the approximate cost of the Saturn V.)

      What’s more, the production facilities for the
      Saturn V and the other lunar exploration
      components, like the command and lunar modules,
      were all closed. At that point, we lost both the
      technological means for human deep space
      exploration and the collective knowledge of tens
      of thousands of engineers and scientists trained in human spaceflight.

      Equally troubling is what we put in place of
      Apollo. The $38 billion developmental cost of the
      shuttle has gotten us nowhere in the solar system
      fast. And the International Space Station could
      have been built with only half a dozen Saturn V
      launchings instead of the more than two dozen
      shuttle trips that will be required to finish it.
      The bottom line: a colossal misuse of funds and a
      disheartening lack of progress and loss of time.

      The termination of the Saturn V program also had
      a stifling effect on the robotic exploration of
      other planets. In essence, we lost the ability to
      deliver larger, and in some cases faster,
      payloads elsewhere in the solar system.

      Take, as an example, the 5,600-kilogram Cassini
      spacecraft, which was launched in 1997 and is now
      in orbit around Saturn. Its launching was timed
      so that after spending two years looping around
      the inner solar system to pick up speed, it could
      rendezvous with massive Jupiter for an additional
      boost that would send it to Saturn. All told, its flight time took seven years.

      Had the Saturn V, modified with an appropriate
      fourth upper stage, been used to launch Cassini
      directly to Jupiter first, its flight time to
      Saturn could have been cut by more than half. In
      space, as on Earth, time is money, and the money
      saved could have been spent elsewhere.

      Alternatively, for the same flight time, a
      vehicle of greater launching capacity can deliver
      a heavier payload. Take as an example the
      480-kilogram New Horizons spacecraft, launched
      over a year ago to fly by Pluto in 2015 and
      eventually to explore the Kuiper Belt of icy
      debris that lies beyond it. Had it been launched
      on a modified Saturn V rocket, New Horizons could
      have carried a payload that was 15 times heavier
      and far more scientifically capable.

      In the end, instead of having a ubiquitous
      presence throughout the solar system, humans
      haven’t set foot on the Moon in 35 years, and
      even our robotic explorations in that time have
      been throttled because we deliberately reduced our access to deep space.

      Today, however, NASA is again looking up and out.
      Vigorous efforts are under way to complete the
      space station in order to fulfill international
      commitments that would be unwise to violate. When
      that is done, the plan is to retire the space
      shuttle in 2010 in favor of a new program to
      return to the Moon, with a party of humans, by
      2020. A mainstay of this program is the Ares
      launching system, capable of sending 65 metric
      tons to the Moon — exceeding the capacity of the
      Saturn V by more than 40 percent.

      The official plans call not for flag-planting and
      grab-a-few-rocks-and-go but, by 2025, a
      solar-powered, human-tended, continuously
      inhabited research outpost rising from either the
      north or south pole of the Moon, where sunlight
      is persistent and water ice may be present.
      Sustainability, made possible in part by the use
      of lunar resources, is one goal. Another is
      on-site preparations for a push to the next outpost, Mars.

      And human spaceflight is not the only enterprise
      to benefit. Robotic reconnaissance, which by
      necessity must precede the dispatch of humans,
      has been ongoing for nearly 50 years. In that
      time, all the simple things have been done.
      Future missions to the planets and their moons
      will be more ambitious than anything yet tried.

      As one example, imagine what our future robotic
      travels around Saturn might be like. The Saturn
      planetary system includes Titan, a cold
      Mercury-sized moon with a dense, organic-laden,
      hazy atmosphere and a strangely Earth-like,
      variegated surface sculptured by winds and
      hydrocarbon rains. It also includes Enceladus, a
      moon one-tenth the size of Titan, whose jets of
      water vapor and fine icy particles extend
      thousands of miles into space and may very likely
      erupt from organic-rich liquid water reservoirs
      just below its surface — making this satellite
      arguably the most promising target we have
      available to us for astrobiological investigation.

      A scientifically comprehensive mission to this
      part of the solar system, using Ares and a
      Cassini-like trajectory to Saturn, could easily
      include several exploratory vehicles. One would
      be a Saturn orbiter far more capable than
      Cassini. This vehicle, in turn, would be large
      enough to carry and deliver a fully equipped
      balloon-borne scientific payload to float through
      the atmosphere of Titan and study its surface up
      close, and an Enceladus lander with equipment
      that could determine the moon’s physical
      properties and ascertain whether or not
      pre-biotic chemistry, and perhaps life, has arisen there.

      In other words, robotic exploration, and the
      insights that will be gained from it into the
      character, development and evolution of planetary
      bodies and even life itself, will be taken to new
      heights and, in turn, pave the way for the
      eventual arrival of humans throughout the solar
      system. Anyone up for an extreme excursion to the
      Enceladus Interplanetary Geyser Park?

      All told, the subtext is invigorating and
      unmistakable: Humanity’s future need not be
      confined to mere survival on our home planet.
      Other worlds beckon, we know how to reach them
      and we will once more be outward bound.

      And we will not be alone. China, India and
      Russia, all eager to be or remain prominent
      players on the world stage, have independent
      plans to stride the lunar surface. And Australia,
      Canada, Japan and the member nations of the
      European Space Agency will be pooling their
      resources with us in the return to the Moon — a
      circumstance that will bring the cost of the
      effort to any one nation within reason.

      THIS won’t be a space race so much as a global
      exodus undertaken by an international community.
      And peaceful cooperation among nations, as a
      tangible means to build strong lasting
      international partnerships and defuse tensions
      and conflicts in the future, will be a welcome result.

      In hindsight, maybe the pace of progress was
      predictable. Humans first explored Antarctica in
      the early 20th century. Decades passed before we
      had the technology that would allow us to
      establish a permanent presence. History will
      indicate the same for our interplanetary forays.
      Our initial “small step for a man” on the Moon
      took place in 1969. A half-century later, we will
      be there anew, to live and work.

      To reach that future will require two critical
      ingredients: adequate financing and a long-term
      cross-administration commitment that supports
      steady, uninterrupted progress. Our first reach
      for the Moon took us from President Kennedy’s
      spoken words to the lunar surface in little over
      eight years under a budget profile that saw peaks
      in annual NASA budget of more than $30 billion in
      current dollars — a shocking number by today’s
      standards and a good measure of how important we then considered the endeavor.

      While sustained budgets of that magnitude are out
      of the question today, what is not out of the
      question is our ability to pay to keep the goal
      front and center. We are now spending in Iraq, in
      a single month, $9 billion — more than half the
      annual budget NASA needs to stay on course.

      Forty-five years ago today, John Glenn Jr. became
      the first American to venture into orbit around
      the Earth. Just 9 years old, I knew at that
      moment that the future would be big and wide, and
      that I might go places no one had ever been before.

      There could be no better way today to encourage
      an equally optimistic belief in the future than
      to embark on an odyssey that presents tremendous
      challenges, demands discipline and rigor,
      requires decades-long focus, inspires
      international cooperation, promotes lasting
      peace, improves life for all and paints a
      stirring vision of an expanded human presence
      beyond the Earth. There could be no better way to
      say: the future is boundless, and it belongs to us.

      Carolyn Porco is a planetary scientist, the
      leader of the Imaging Science Team on the Cassini
      mission and director of the Cassini Imaging
      Central Laboratory for Operations. Cassini images
      of Saturn can be viewed at ciclops.org

      -- Ronn! :)

      "Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot remain in the cradle forever."
      -- Konstantin E. Tsiolkovskiy



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    • Alberto Vieira Ferreira Monteiro
      ... Another example: Brazil was discovered in 1500, but the actual colonization (or invasion...) only began one generation later, in 1530. Alberto Monteiro
      Message 2 of 14 , Feb 21, 2007
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        > In hindsight, maybe the pace of progress was
        > predictable. Humans first explored Antarctica in
        > the early 20th century. Decades passed before we
        > had the technology that would allow us to
        > establish a permanent presence. History will
        > indicate the same for our interplanetary forays.
        > Our initial “small step for a man” on the Moon
        > took place in 1969. A half-century later, we will
        > be there anew, to live and work.
        >
        Another example: Brazil was "discovered" in 1500, but
        the actual colonization (or invasion...) only began one
        generation later, in 1530.

        Alberto Monteiro
        _______________________________________________
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      • Dan Minette
        ... But the investment paid off...there was no nuclear war. It was a wonderful way to show who really had the better missile technology without making each
        Message 3 of 14 , Feb 25, 2007
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          > -----Original Message-----
          > From: brin-l-bounces@... [mailto:brin-l-bounces@...] On
          > Behalf Of Ronn! Blankenship
          > Sent: Wednesday, February 21, 2007 2:45 AM
          > To: Killer Bs Discussion
          > Subject: NASA Goes Deep
          >
          > <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/20/opinion/20porco.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1>
          >
          > The cost to the nation of this misstep was
          > enormous. For starters, we lost an investment,
          > adjusted for inflation to 2007 dollars, of $160
          > billion. That was the cost to get to, land on,
          > walk on, drive on and otherwise explore the Moon.
          > (Of that amount, $29 billion, in
          > inflation-adjusted dollars, was the approximate cost of the Saturn V.)

          But the investment paid off...there was no nuclear war. It was a wonderful
          way to show who really had the better missile technology without making each
          other go boom.

          > Equally troubling is what we put in place of
          > Apollo. The $38 billion developmental cost of the
          > shuttle has gotten us nowhere in the solar system
          > fast. And the International Space Station could
          > have been built with only half a dozen Saturn V
          > launchings instead of the more than two dozen
          > shuttle trips that will be required to finish it.
          > The bottom line: a colossal misuse of funds and a
          > disheartening lack of progress and loss of time.

          The whole point of the shuttle was to make space travel a lot more
          straightforward: in terms of both cost and regularity. The reusable nature
          of the shuttle meant that, eventually, only the solid rockets would have to
          be replaced. The expensive shuttles would each be used a number of times a
          year (> one time/month) and the maintenance costs were supposed to be
          minimal. This would result in launch to orbit costs of no more than
          $100/kilo. I remember believing this in the '70s.

          Instead, we have a program that's actually more expensive per kilo than that
          provided in the '60s. The new plan is to go back to the '60s technique of
          rockets and capsules. IMHO, this reflects the fact that we've hit a
          physics/technology wall...and will need new types of space technology before
          human space travel is anything more than a multi-billion dollar
          entertainment expenditure.

          Dan M.


          _______________________________________________
          http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l
        • Robert Seeberger
          ... From: Dan Minette To: Killer Bs Discussion Sent: Sunday, February 25, 2007 2:16 PM Subject: RE:
          Message 4 of 14 , Feb 25, 2007
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            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "Dan Minette" <dsummersminet@...>
            To: "'Killer Bs Discussion'" <brin-l@...>
            Sent: Sunday, February 25, 2007 2:16 PM
            Subject: RE: NASA Goes Deep


            >
            >
            >> -----Original Message-----
            >> From: brin-l-bounces@...
            >> [mailto:brin-l-bounces@...] On
            >> Behalf Of Ronn! Blankenship
            >> Sent: Wednesday, February 21, 2007 2:45 AM
            >> To: Killer Bs Discussion
            >> Subject: NASA Goes Deep
            >>
            >> <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/20/opinion/20porco.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1>
            >>
            >> The cost to the nation of this misstep was
            >> enormous. For starters, we lost an investment,
            >> adjusted for inflation to 2007 dollars, of $160
            >> billion. That was the cost to get to, land on,
            >> walk on, drive on and otherwise explore the Moon.
            >> (Of that amount, $29 billion, in
            >> inflation-adjusted dollars, was the approximate cost of the Saturn
            >> V.)
            >
            > But the investment paid off...there was no nuclear war. It was a
            > wonderful
            > way to show who really had the better missile technology without
            > making each
            > other go boom.
            >
            >> Equally troubling is what we put in place of
            >> Apollo. The $38 billion developmental cost of the
            >> shuttle has gotten us nowhere in the solar system
            >> fast. And the International Space Station could
            >> have been built with only half a dozen Saturn V
            >> launchings instead of the more than two dozen
            >> shuttle trips that will be required to finish it.
            >> The bottom line: a colossal misuse of funds and a
            >> disheartening lack of progress and loss of time.
            >
            > The whole point of the shuttle was to make space travel a lot more
            > straightforward: in terms of both cost and regularity. The reusable
            > nature
            > of the shuttle meant that, eventually, only the solid rockets would
            > have to
            > be replaced. The expensive shuttles would each be used a number of
            > times a
            > year (> one time/month) and the maintenance costs were supposed to
            > be
            > minimal. This would result in launch to orbit costs of no more than
            > $100/kilo. I remember believing this in the '70s.
            >
            > Instead, we have a program that's actually more expensive per kilo
            > than that
            > provided in the '60s. The new plan is to go back to the '60s
            > technique of
            > rockets and capsules. IMHO, this reflects the fact that we've hit a
            > physics/technology wall...and will need new types of space
            > technology before
            > human space travel is anything more than a multi-billion dollar
            > entertainment expenditure.
            >

            IMO, the shuttle era space program (and actually the era immediately
            preceeding it) is an example of what happens when a science program
            becomes a political football.
            There *were* plans for human occupation of space and the moon before
            the shuttle program. Much of what was planned then and now could be
            done by brute force methods. (Like the Saturn V)
            The Shuttle was an attempt to employ a bit of finesse and bring down
            costs. It would have been a good idea if it had been designed *in
            addition* to the existing Saturn V program and what you would have
            gotten was a smaller shuttle with lower haulage requirements that
            would have likely been safer as it could have been launched atop a
            SatV.
            Political decisions deemed that "there could only be one" method of
            getting people and equipment into space, and this "one size fits all"
            mentality is what wasted 30 years and billions of dollars.
            If the remaining shuttles do not end up permanently in space serving
            minor duty I will be a bit pissed over the waste of resources.

            xponent
            Overly Opinionated Maru
            rob


            _______________________________________________
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          • Dan Minette
            ... I m sure you know my take on this...from what I ve written above and what I ve written before. But, let me state it explicitly: the manned space program
            Message 5 of 14 , Feb 25, 2007
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              > -----Original Message-----
              > From: brin-l-bounces@... [mailto:brin-l-bounces@...] On
              > Behalf Of Robert Seeberger
              > Sent: Sunday, February 25, 2007 4:48 PM
              > To: Killer Bs Discussion
              > Subject: Re: NASA Goes Deep
              >
              >
              > IMO, the shuttle era space program (and actually the era immediately
              > preceeding it) is an example of what happens when a science program
              > becomes a political football.

              I'm sure you know my take on this...from what I've written above and what
              I've written before. But, let me state it explicitly: the manned space
              program was never a scientific exercise. If it had to compete for dollars
              with other scientific research and the criterion "what gives us the best
              chance of enhancing our knowledge of how the universe works (be it
              cosmology, star physics, planetary science, ecology, biology, chemistry, or
              basic physics), then we still would not have sent a human into space.


              > There *were* plans for human occupation of space and the moon before
              > the shuttle program. Much of what was planned then and now could be
              > done by brute force methods. (Like the Saturn V)

              Sure, but once we showed that our technology would always be better than the
              USSR, what was the point? It certainly wasn't scientific advancement.

              > The Shuttle was an attempt to employ a bit of finesse and bring down
              > costs. It would have been a good idea if it had been designed *in
              > addition* to the existing Saturn V program and what you would have
              > gotten was a smaller shuttle with lower haulage requirements that
              > would have likely been safer as it could have been launched atop a
              > SatV.

              Why would that have been safer? There were not enough SatV launches to
              properly compare zero blown up with the shuttle safety record.

              They were also hideously expensive. Our moon program cost 0.5% of GDP in
              '66...its peak year. Once we beat the Russians to the moon, the need to
              spend this type of money on a program with a minimal remaining return on
              investment just wasn't there.

              > Political decisions deemed that "there could only be one" method of
              > getting people and equipment into space, and this "one size fits all"
              > mentality is what wasted 30 years and billions of dollars.

              Well, if there were multiple ways of doing it, then there would have to be a
              much larger budget....which wasn't going to happen.

              > If the remaining shuttles do not end up permanently in space serving
              > minor duty I will be a bit pissed over the waste of resources.

              Well, IMHO, the manned space program is a waste of resources. I'd guess
              that the bang for the buck of this program is somewhere between 1% and 10%
              of that for spending on science.

              Dan M.


              _______________________________________________
              http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l
            • Robert Seeberger
              ... From: Dan Minette To: Killer Bs Discussion Sent: Sunday, February 25, 2007 7:20 PM Subject: RE:
              Message 6 of 14 , Feb 25, 2007
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                ----- Original Message -----
                From: "Dan Minette" <dsummersminet@...>
                To: "'Killer Bs Discussion'" <brin-l@...>
                Sent: Sunday, February 25, 2007 7:20 PM
                Subject: RE: NASA Goes Deep


                >
                >
                >> -----Original Message-----
                >> From: brin-l-bounces@...
                >> [mailto:brin-l-bounces@...] On
                >> Behalf Of Robert Seeberger
                >> Sent: Sunday, February 25, 2007 4:48 PM
                >> To: Killer Bs Discussion
                >> Subject: Re: NASA Goes Deep
                >>
                >>
                >> IMO, the shuttle era space program (and actually the era
                >> immediately
                >> preceeding it) is an example of what happens when a science program
                >> becomes a political football.
                >
                > I'm sure you know my take on this...from what I've written above and
                > what
                > I've written before.

                Well...it is certainly true that we have travelled down this road a
                time or three!<G>


                > But, let me state it explicitly: the manned space
                > program was never a scientific exercise.

                It was and it wasn't, eh?
                I think we will agree that as it is advertized, the science in the
                space program is a bunch of crap. It is mostly a load of PR
                misdirection used to divert attention away from the military functions
                of the program and the political "feel good" underpinnings.

                But do you say that no good science has been gleaned from manned
                spaceflight?
                I would say that learning to live in space is of enormous value.
                Learning to manufacture in zeroG is valuable. Repairing Hubble has
                been useful.


                > If it had to compete for dollars
                > with other scientific research and the criterion "what gives us the
                > best
                > chance of enhancing our knowledge of how the universe works (be it
                > cosmology, star physics, planetary science, ecology, biology,
                > chemistry, or
                > basic physics), then we still would not have sent a human into
                > space.
                >

                We still lack a robotic entity that can equal a human. Those little
                rovers on Mars are a pretty weak substitute for a geologist with
                rudimentary chemistry kit.

                I could look at a picture of Dan's home and know a few things about
                it. I could learn a bit more if I were to get a hold of some samples
                of things from Dan's house. But if I were to visit Dan's home for a
                bit, I would understand a whole lot more about the dynamics of Planet
                Dan than I could from pictures or samples of flatware.

                Even sample return missions have great limitations.

                >
                >> There *were* plans for human occupation of space and the moon
                >> before
                >> the shuttle program. Much of what was planned then and now could be
                >> done by brute force methods. (Like the Saturn V)
                >
                > Sure, but once we showed that our technology would always be better
                > than the
                > USSR, what was the point? It certainly wasn't scientific
                > advancement.

                Does it always have to be about scientific advancement in the
                immediate sense?
                To some degree it has to be about flexing the muscles of engineering
                (not because it is easy, but because it is hard).<G>
                To the point......Does Ford still have a better idea? Doesn't seem
                like it.
                Resting on ones laurels is a sure way to fall behind and it sure looks
                to me like others are catching up. Today Iran had a successful
                sub-orbital flight.
                Iran, dammit, Iran!!!!!!!!!!!
                <G>


                >
                >> The Shuttle was an attempt to employ a bit of finesse and bring
                >> down
                >> costs. It would have been a good idea if it had been designed *in
                >> addition* to the existing Saturn V program and what you would have
                >> gotten was a smaller shuttle with lower haulage requirements that
                >> would have likely been safer as it could have been launched atop a
                >> SatV.
                >
                > Why would that have been safer? There were not enough SatV launches
                > to
                > properly compare zero blown up with the shuttle safety record.

                True, but I'm thinking the EFT next to a leaky SRB that caused the
                Challanger explosion was a poor design compared to a smaller shuttle
                atop a SatV.
                But yes, that is an essentially unprovable assertion on my part, even
                though I believe it to be true ATM.

                >
                > They were also hideously expensive. Our moon program cost 0.5% of
                > GDP in
                > '66...its peak year. Once we beat the Russians to the moon, the need
                > to
                > spend this type of money on a program with a minimal remaining
                > return on
                > investment just wasn't there.
                >
                >> Political decisions deemed that "there could only be one" method of
                >> getting people and equipment into space, and this "one size fits
                >> all"
                >> mentality is what wasted 30 years and billions of dollars.
                >
                > Well, if there were multiple ways of doing it, then there would have
                > to be a
                > much larger budget....which wasn't going to happen.

                What reason would there be to continually re-engineer the SatV for the
                duration of it's use? At some point it is just manufacturing costs and
                incidental engineering costs. The R&D would be spent on newer vehicles
                launched on SatV.


                >
                >> If the remaining shuttles do not end up permanently in space
                >> serving
                >> minor duty I will be a bit pissed over the waste of resources.
                >
                > Well, IMHO, the manned space program is a waste of resources. I'd
                > guess
                > that the bang for the buck of this program is somewhere between 1%
                > and 10%
                > of that for spending on science.
                >
                Would you feel differently if the manned program was doing something
                that was actually useful?
                If the program had set up permanent zeroG manufacturing lines making
                products that could only be made in space, would the bang for the buck
                equations be more favorable to you?

                I agree with you that the manned program is essentially wasteful.
                Where we may disagree is that it is necessarily so.

                xponent
                Alternate Choices Maru
                rob


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              • Max Battcher
                ... One of the results from our space program that we have seen is that yeast in low-gravity conditions generates better, more alcoholic beer. We just need to
                Message 7 of 14 , Feb 25, 2007
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                  On 2/25/07, Robert Seeberger <rceeberger@...> wrote:
                  > Would you feel differently if the manned program was doing something
                  > that was actually useful?
                  > If the program had set up permanent zeroG manufacturing lines making
                  > products that could only be made in space, would the bang for the buck
                  > equations be more favorable to you?

                  One of the results from our space program that we have seen is that
                  yeast in low-gravity conditions generates better, more alcoholic beer.
                  We just need to convince Anheuser-Busch or Coors or Miller to spend
                  the cash to build a giant beer manufacturing plant in Space.

                  Who wouldn't buy space beers? It's makes a whole lot more sense than
                  a lot of the flavored beers and "energy" beers the big guys keep
                  putting onto shelves...

                  I demand to see a race for the first beer brewed in space to reach
                  store shelves. Perhaps we need a Beer X-Prize.

                  --
                  --Max Battcher--
                  http://www.worldmaker.net/
                  All progress is based upon a universal innate desire on the part of
                  every organism to live beyond its income. --Samuel Butler
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                • Dan Minette
                  ... No, but that s an awfully low bar, isn t it. Good science has been gleamed from my own work.....and that has come at _a lot_ lower price than NASA. ... I
                  Message 8 of 14 , Feb 26, 2007
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                    > -----Original Message-----
                    > From: brin-l-bounces@... [mailto:brin-l-bounces@...] On
                    > Behalf Of Robert Seeberger
                    > Sent: Sunday, February 25, 2007 9:29 PM
                    > To: Killer Bs Discussion
                    > Subject: Re: NASA Goes Deep
                    >
                    >
                    > It was and it wasn't, eh?
                    > I think we will agree that as it is advertized, the science in the
                    > space program is a bunch of crap. It is mostly a load of PR
                    > misdirection used to divert attention away from the military functions
                    > of the program and the political "feel good" underpinnings.
                    >
                    > But do you say that no good science has been gleaned from manned
                    > spaceflight?

                    No, but that's an awfully low bar, isn't it. Good science has been gleamed
                    from my own work.....and that has come at _a lot_ lower price than NASA.

                    > I would say that learning to live in space is of enormous value.

                    I appreciate your enthusiasm, but look at the self referential nature of
                    your lead statement. Learning to live in space is valuable only for a manned
                    space program. There is a bit of biology that can be done on this, but the
                    impact of zero-G studies on our understanding of biology in general has been
                    small.

                    > Learning to manufacture in zeroG is valuable.

                    How valuable? It is certainly less valuable than the lift costs. While the
                    shuttle is more expensive than the Saturn V would be, it's in terms of
                    percentages, not factors of 10....which is what we need to have real zero G
                    manufacturing. If we do find a way to get lift costs down a factor of, say,
                    100, than we could apply what we've learned already. But, we gained
                    virtually nothing by doing a very small amount of zero-G manufacturing
                    decades in advance of when it would be practical on even a small scale.

                    >Repairing Hubble has been useful.

                    That is the one tangible action of the manned space program that's worth
                    real money. But, several Hubbles could have been lifted into space for one
                    year's worth of the manned space cost.

                    >
                    >
                    > >
                    >
                    > We still lack a robotic entity that can equal a human. Those little
                    > rovers on Mars are a pretty weak substitute for a geologist with
                    > rudimentary chemistry kit.

                    I don't know about that. Remember, 99.9%+ of geology and geophysics is done
                    remotely now. Cores are still useful and valuable for checking
                    instrumentation, but not with just a simple chemistry kit. More work on
                    things like permeability can be done with cores....and standoff is not an
                    issue with core density measurements. But, wireline tools are routinely
                    expected to give most of the information available from cores downhole.

                    While geology schools probably still teach hands on geology with simple
                    chemistry kits, virtually every professional geologist puts that kit away
                    and uses remote techniques professionally.

                    > I could look at a picture of Dan's home and know a few things about
                    > it. I could learn a bit more if I were to get a hold of some samples
                    > of things from Dan's house. But if I were to visit Dan's home for a
                    > bit, I would understand a whole lot more about the dynamics of Planet
                    > Dan than I could from pictures or samples of flatware.

                    The ability to get the gestalt of social dynamics is rather different from
                    being able to


                    > Does it always have to be about scientific advancement in the
                    > immediate sense?

                    No, but what other value do you suggest?


                    > To some degree it has to be about flexing the muscles of engineering
                    > (not because it is easy, but because it is hard).<G>

                    But, the manned space program _must_ use well established engineering
                    techniques. Not only that, but there is ~5 years of bureaucracy involved in
                    adapting a technique that is new to the manned spaceflight program. The
                    environmental requirements for manned space flight are very simple compared
                    to the requirements my equipment had to meet (with a few exceptions like the
                    inside of rocket engines). I talked to a NASA engineer who was frustrated
                    that he couldn't use well established techniques that greatly improve
                    reliability, and thus safety, because it was not acceptable.


                    > Resting on ones laurels is a sure way to fall behind and it sure looks
                    > to me like others are catching up. Today Iran had a successful
                    > sub-orbital flight.
                    > Iran, dammit, Iran!!!!!!!!!!!

                    Sure, that just shows that there is an inherent wall in aerospace
                    development. As is typically the case in mature technologies, a
                    breakthrough will come not by trying the same thing again, but by the
                    application of something else. So, the solution is to work on a lot of
                    something elses, not manned space flight. Manned space flight, due to the
                    high cost of failure, cannot be at the forefront of technology.


                    >
                    > What reason would there be to continually re-engineer the SatV for the
                    > duration of it's use? At some point it is just manufacturing costs and
                    > incidental engineering costs.

                    Manufacturing costs are high. For the last 25+ years, with only one
                    exception I think, the cost of the shuttles themselves has just been
                    maintenance.


                    >The R&D would be spent on newer vehicles launched on SatV.

                    Manned spaceflight hasn't had real R&D since the mid-70s.

                    > Would you feel differently if the manned program was doing something
                    > that was actually useful?

                    Without significant opportunity costs? yes.


                    > If the program had set up permanent zeroG manufacturing lines making
                    > products that could only be made in space, would the bang for the buck
                    > equations be more favorable to you?

                    It would be.....but that would require factors of 100 or so drops in lift
                    costs. Being generous, we might have gotten a factor of 2 drop if we chose
                    your idea....but that's being generous.

                    Dan M.


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                  • Ronn! Blankenship
                    ... What would really push it would be the invention of a semi-permeable membrane (blocks gases but lets liquids pass) so after drinking that beer guys can
                    Message 9 of 14 , Feb 26, 2007
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                      At 11:36 PM Sunday 2/25/2007, Max Battcher wrote:
                      >On 2/25/07, Robert Seeberger <rceeberger@...> wrote:
                      > > Would you feel differently if the manned program was doing something
                      > > that was actually useful?
                      > > If the program had set up permanent zeroG manufacturing lines making
                      > > products that could only be made in space, would the bang for the buck
                      > > equations be more favorable to you?
                      >
                      >One of the results from our space program that we have seen is that
                      >yeast in low-gravity conditions generates better, more alcoholic beer.
                      > We just need to convince Anheuser-Busch or Coors or Miller to spend
                      >the cash to build a giant beer manufacturing plant in Space.
                      >
                      >Who wouldn't buy space beers? It's makes a whole lot more sense than
                      >a lot of the flavored beers and "energy" beers the big guys keep
                      >putting onto shelves...
                      >
                      >I demand to see a race for the first beer brewed in space to reach
                      >store shelves. Perhaps we need a Beer X-Prize.


                      What would really push it would be the invention of a semi-permeable
                      membrane (blocks gases but lets liquids pass) so after drinking that
                      beer guys can take a whizz on the Earth from 300 miles up . . .


                      -- Ronn! :)



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                    • dsummersminet@houston.rr.com
                      ... From: Max Battcher me@worldmaker.net Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2007 00:36:43 -0500 To: brin-l@mccmedia.com Subject: Re: NASA Goes Deep ... Wow, you have _really_
                      Message 10 of 14 , Feb 26, 2007
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                        Original Message:
                        -----------------
                        From: Max Battcher me@...
                        Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2007 00:36:43 -0500
                        To: brin-l@...
                        Subject: Re: NASA Goes Deep


                        >One of the results from our space program that we have seen is that
                        >yeast in low-gravity conditions generates better, more alcoholic beer.
                        > We just need to convince Anheuser-Busch or Coors or Miller to spend
                        >the cash to build a giant beer manufacturing plant in Space.


                        Wow, you have _really_ expensive tastes Max. When I saw a $2000 bottle of
                        wine in a reasturant I went to, I thought that was pricey. But, you seem
                        to be interesting in ponying up $75,000 per six pack. :-)

                        Dan M.

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                      • Doug
                        ... How do you think the general public would rank Apollo in a list of human achievements? I m confident that it would be placed at or near the top of the
                        Message 11 of 14 , Feb 27, 2007
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                          Dan wrote:

                          > Well, IMHO, the manned space program is a waste of resources. I'd guess
                          > that the bang for the buck of this program is somewhere between 1% and 10%
                          > of that for spending on science.

                          How do you think the general public would rank Apollo in a list of human achievements? I'm confident that it would be placed at or near the top of the list. I personally consider it humankind's greatest achievement in my lifetime and perhaps for all time. Not because it's a great engineering feat or because we proved our superiority over a competing economic system or for any other tangible reason, but because it's a tremendous milestone in our development as a life force; a magnificent triumph of the human spirit. We cracked the egg and stuck our beak out!

                          If, a thousand years go by and we haven't destroyed ourselves (or haven't been destroyed by some other entity, who knows?) we will have explored much of what lies beyond this planet and we will look back on July 20, 1969 as the day it really started.

                          --
                          Doug
                          VFP Irony
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                        • Ronn! Blankenship
                          ... Too bad that at least nine out of ten people you ask will have no idea what happened on that date . . .and that includes people who were alive and old
                          Message 12 of 14 , Feb 28, 2007
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                            At 10:08 PM Tuesday 2/27/2007, Doug wrote:
                            >Dan wrote:
                            >
                            > > Well, IMHO, the manned space program is a waste of resources. I'd guess
                            > > that the bang for the buck of this program is somewhere between 1% and 10%
                            > > of that for spending on science.
                            >
                            >How do you think the general public would rank Apollo in a list of
                            >human achievements? I'm confident that it would be placed at or
                            >near the top of the list. I personally consider it humankind's
                            >greatest achievement in my lifetime and perhaps for all time. Not
                            >because it's a great engineering feat or because we proved our
                            >superiority over a competing economic system or for any other
                            >tangible reason, but because it's a tremendous milestone in our
                            >development as a life force; a magnificent triumph of the human
                            >spirit. We cracked the egg and stuck our beak out!
                            >
                            >If, a thousand years go by and we haven't destroyed ourselves (or
                            >haven't been destroyed by some other entity, who knows?) we will
                            >have explored much of what lies beyond this planet and we will look
                            >back on July 20, 1969 as the day it really started.



                            Too bad that at least nine out of ten people you ask will have no
                            idea what happened on that date . . .and that includes people who
                            were alive and old enough to be in school then.



                            >--
                            >Doug
                            >VFP Irony




                            -- Ronn! :)

                            "If a burglar is someone guilty of burglary, if a glutton is someone
                            guilty of gluttony ... then God is an iron."
                            -- Spider Robinson (1948 - ), Canadian science fiction writer.


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                          • Horn, John
                            ... Spoil sport! OK. I was 3 1/2. I don t remember the exact date but could tell you it was in 1969. I do remember watching some of the later landings
                            Message 13 of 14 , Feb 28, 2007
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                              > On Behalf Of Ronn! Blankenship
                              >
                              > Too bad that at least nine out of ten people you ask will
                              > have no idea what happened on that date . . .and that
                              > includes people who were alive and old enough to be in school then.

                              Spoil sport!

                              OK. I was 3 1/2. I don't remember the exact date but could tell you it
                              was in 1969. I do remember watching some of the later landings though.
                              Couldn't tell you which ones, of course...

                              - jmh


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                            • Dan Minette
                              ... I think it depends on how the question is worded and the nationality of the folks being asked. I think it would be rates just after Columbus discovering
                              Message 14 of 14 , Feb 28, 2007
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                                > -----Original Message-----
                                > From: brin-l-bounces@... [mailto:brin-l-bounces@...] On
                                > Behalf Of Doug
                                > Sent: Tuesday, February 27, 2007 10:08 PM
                                > To: Killer Bs Discussion
                                > Subject: Re: NASA Goes Deep
                                >
                                > Dan wrote:
                                >
                                > > Well, IMHO, the manned space program is a waste of resources. I'd guess
                                > > that the bang for the buck of this program is somewhere between 1% and
                                > 10%
                                > > of that for spending on science.
                                >
                                > How do you think the general public would rank Apollo in a list of human
                                > achievements? I'm confident that it would be placed at or near the top of
                                > the list.

                                I think it depends on how the question is worded and the nationality of the
                                folks being asked. I think it would be rates just after "Columbus
                                discovering America" in the US, but not that high elsewhere. The age of the
                                people polled would also matter....I think you would get a higher percentage
                                with that response at our age than among those <35.

                                > I personally consider it humankind's greatest achievement in my
                                > lifetime and perhaps for all time. Not because it's a great engineering
                                > feat or because we proved our superiority over a competing economic system
                                > or for any other tangible reason, but because it's a tremendous milestone
                                > in our development as a life force; a magnificent triumph of the human
                                > spirit. We cracked the egg and stuck our beak out!

                                If you have faith in Progress, as opposed to just progress, I can see that.
                                But, this assumes a particular future. For example, in space exploration,
                                why this date instead of the date Sputnik was launched, or the day we first
                                soft landed a craft on the moon, or the first time we reached a planet?

                                > If, a thousand years go by and we haven't destroyed ourselves (or haven't
                                > been destroyed by some other entity, who knows?) we will have explored
                                > much of what lies beyond this planet and we will look back on July 20,
                                > 1969 as the day it really started.

                                Well, this is rank speculation on both of our parts, but I don't think that
                                will be true. If a significant part of humankind lives off planet, then
                                that might be true, but I'm guessing that living in habitats will not be an
                                attractive option compared to living in open spaces. If lift costs became
                                minimal, I could see space tourism....and I could definitely see all sorts
                                of automated equipment in space.

                                The first explorer to get somewhere does deserve some credit, but the
                                importance of first contact rests somewhat on what happens next. For
                                example, if it was discovered that the Vikings did reach North America, it
                                wouldn't make this anywhere as important as the start of the sea contact
                                between Europe and the Americas....because the latter had a tremendous
                                effect on our lives, and the former had minimal effect.

                                Nearly 40 years after the moon program, we have only marginal improvements
                                in lift costs, even though the government has invested billions in NASA
                                every year. Contrast this with the cost of computing power. I've
                                personally seen, since ~1984, a million fold drop in the cost of running
                                MCNP...a nuclear transport model.

                                The reason for this is clear to me....fundamental physics. This will need
                                to be chanced before it makes sense to send humans into orbit. In a sense,
                                the moon is somewhat like Everest....it's an achievement to get there, but
                                there is little practical to do once on gets there.

                                Indeed, I'd argue whether we have a moon base now will have very little to
                                do with how extensive our present man space program is. If we land humans
                                on Mars in 2015, 2025, 2050, or 2100, it will have minimal impact on how
                                extensive the utilization of space is in 2500. The reason I say this is
                                because the practicality of an extensive presence in space relies on new
                                technologies that are dependent on new sciences. There is no indication
                                that the development of the scientific knowledge needed to have a large
                                practical presence in the solar system is dependant on the nature and extent
                                of the manned space program in the first part of the 21st century. Thus,
                                the present manned space program finds a parallel in the Viking explorers of
                                the early 2nd millennium. Neither will have much of an impact on later
                                history.

                                Dan M.


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