Will the U.S. continue to 'reach for the stars'?

Apr 28, 2011
Will the U.S. continue to 'reach for the stars'?
U.S. space shuttle Endeavour sits on a launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The shuttle's final launch is scheduled for this Friday to the International Space Station. Credit: BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images

With the space shuttle program winding down — Discovery returned from its final mission in March, Endeavor is scheduled for its last flight this Friday, and Atlantis should launch at the end of June — observers are wondering about the future of the U.S. space program. Will there be room for any kind of ambitious space program, given the state of the U.S. economy? Will space flight move increasingly toward privatization? As former Florida congressman James Bacchus, one of the principal congressional sponsors of the International Space Station, wrote in The Hill’s Congress Blog in March, there has been “utter bipartisan failure thus far to figure out what to do next in human space flight, how to make it work, and how to pay for it at a price our chosen leaders think we can afford.” Here, Associate Professor of Political Science William Kay, an expert on the history and politics of the space program, offers some predictions.

What do you think will happen to the future of space exploration? Will it increase or decrease or plateau, or change in some other way?

In the short run, there will be little change overall. Human missions will continue to the International Station, using Russian Soyuz spacecraft for transportation. In the long run — moving beyond ISS or missions to the Moon or Mars — the direction and pace of depends almost entirely on developments in the relevant technologies, particularly those related to launches.

Do you think privatization of space exploration is a good idea?

Most of the movement toward privatization — which has actually been under way since the Reagan Administration — I have found to be, on the whole, a positive development. Unfortunately, there have also been cases — the most notable being NASA’s decision to contract out shuttle maintenance — where the results have been anything but positive. In any event, privatization is clearly the trend of the future.

One of the great success stories in the development of the “space market” has been the commercial launch sector. In 1981, when the first privately developed rocket was launched, everything sent into space up to that point was the work of a government. By 2000, the commercial launch industry, made up of dozens of firms from almost as many countries, had become a billion-dollar business. Now, everything sent into space, with the partial exception of the shuttle, is launched by a private company. More firms, including a number interested in offering “space tourism,” are expected to join the effort in years to come.


Just how important is it that we “reach for the stars” — especially when the economy is in such dire straits?

Speaking of the economy, one small advantage a traditional, government-run has over the privatized approach is that the former is relatively more recession-proof.

With respect to “reaching for the stars,” it is very important that we, as a country, have a clear and consistent set of priorities. In general, I think a great nation should devote some of its resources toward the “lofty and ambitious” — which need not be as gargantuan as the Apollo program. On the other hand, I think “greatness” also means acknowledging and recognizing those occasions — hopefully few in number and short in duration — where the immediate needs of citizens requires the postponing of these loftier pursuits.

Explore further: Italy's first female astronaut heads to ISS in Russian craft

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ACW
4 / 5 (4) Apr 28, 2011
Since humans have not been beyond LEO for decades, and privatization does not see a profit in human exploration, we seem doomed to remain in "the playpen of the cosmos".
Why not restart manned exploration NOW. Plans like the Mars Direct Program (Dr. Robert Zubrin) could get us to Mars within 3 years. Innovation won't begin until we actually begin.
danlgarmstrong
4.5 / 5 (2) Apr 28, 2011
Privatization of launcher systems is just a start. What we need next is incentives for industry to exploit space. There are resources available in space that can make a whole lot of people rich if they only knew how to go about it. The Government can explore many possibilities. One good program might be to pioneer robotic mining of moon resources, and a way to launch those resources into Earth Orbit, perhaps for automated assembly of solar power stations. Once the use of robots to develop resources is demonstrated, transfer the tech to private industry and watch them invest billions into getting us out there. While 'science' missions are great, what we really need is a way to make money on space. I think robots that can prepare the way for us are what is needed, and they can build us places that we really want to live as well.
omatumr
1.5 / 5 (8) Apr 28, 2011
Just how important is it that we reach for the stars especially when the economy is in such dire straits?


NASA lost an opportunity during the space age to reach for the star that controls Earth's climate and provide useful information to the taxpayers that pay NASA's budget.

Instead NASA hid or ignored experimental data that showed the SSM (Standard Solar Model) is obsolete and promoted misinformation on:

a.) The Sun's origin
b,) The Sun's composition
c.) The Sun's source of energy, and
d.) The Sun's dominant influence on Earth's climate.

The global climate scandal revealed climatologists using NASA's techniques:

1. "Earth's heat source - the Sun", Energy & Environment 20 (2009) 131-144

http://arxiv.org/pdf/0905.0704

2. "Neutron repulsion", The APEIRON Journal, in press (2011) 19 pages.

http://arxiv.org/...2.1499v1
ShotmanMaslo
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 28, 2011
My prediction of a realistic scenario with happy ending:

2012: NASA commences to build yet another overpriced and oversized rocket (SLS), financial support for commercial companies increases.

2014: NASA struggles to keep the cost and schedules down, SpaceX is launching cargo and first people to ISS, test flies Falcon Heavy, Bigelow begins to assemble their manned station, Dream Chaser flies.

2016: NASA launches test flight of SLS phase I, no upper stage or new engine yet, cost overruns. After the success of commercial companies in securing access to LEO, considers similar alternative beyond Earth orbit as well, instead of SLS phase II.

2018: New direction for NASA is chosen: SLS is cancelled, replaced by Falcon Heavy and maybe Atlas V phase II. Moon set as a new goal, utilizing ULA fuel depots, Bigelow habitats and Lunar variant of Dragon.

2020: wait for it..

2022: wait for it..

2024: After 56 years, man stands on the Moon again, this time to stay..
holoman
1 / 5 (8) Apr 28, 2011
US spending billions on fusion and other science.

But I ask what would be the most significant discovery
for mankind ?

antigravity technology

Think about how it would change everything and propel the
US further than any technology discovery.

How much does the US spend on antigravity research ?

dollars not even on the research radar screen

Maybe the challenge is too great for any scientist.
ShotmanMaslo
3 / 5 (2) Apr 28, 2011
New video by SpaceX is on youtube, note the Dragon capsule landing on Mars:

http://www.youtub...embedded
Skeptic_Heretic
4.8 / 5 (4) Apr 28, 2011
But I ask what would be the most significant discovery
for mankind ?

antigravity technology

Think about how it would change everything and propel the
US further than any technology discovery.

How much does the US spend on antigravity research ?

Yes, well we'll get right on that once we're done figuring out how TARDISes work.
omatumr
1.8 / 5 (5) Apr 28, 2011
My prediction of a realistic scenario with happy ending . . .


. . . depends entirely on the willingness of leaders of the Western scientific community to insist that government-funded space scientists candidly address ALL experimental observations instead of hiding and manipulating some like the army of climatologists that took government funds and promoted politicians' misleading propaganda about CO2-induced global warming.

1. Data from the Allende meteorite:

www.omatumr.com/D...Data.htm

2. Data from the Apollo moon samples

www.omatumr.com/D...Data.htm

3. Data from the Galileo Mission to Jupiter

www.omatumr.com/D...Data.htm

4. Nuclear rest mass data from Brookhaven Nat'l Lab

www.omatumr.com/D...Data.htm

May Dr. Ralph Cicerone hear!
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
Question
4.5 / 5 (2) Apr 28, 2011
US spending billions on fusion and other science.

But I ask what would be the most significant discovery
for mankind ?

antigravity technology

Think about how it would change everything and propel the
US further than any technology discovery.

How much does the US spend on antigravity research ?

dollars not even on the research radar screen

Maybe the challenge is too great for any scientist.

Sorry but there is no such thing as antigravity, negative mass, time, dimension, momentum, etc.. Now some day we may be able to reduce the effects of gravity, weight by a small amount, but we will never create antigravity.

Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (4) Apr 28, 2011
"Instead NASA hid or ignored experimental data that showed the SSM (Standard Solar Model) is obsolete and promoted misinformation on:" - OmatTard

You are absolutely correct in your references. The sun really is a giant ball of iron and the standard solar model is all wrong.

Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (3) Apr 28, 2011
"New video by SpaceX is on youtube, note the Dragon capsule landing on Mars:" - Tard Boy

Have they gotten to mars already? And here I thought that they had barely gotten into orbit without exploding.

That private company Space - X needs more government funding. Don't you agree?
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (3) Apr 28, 2011
"But I ask what would be the most significant discovery
for mankind ?

antigravity technology" - Tard of Tards

Oh ya.... That is nothing...

Think of how Free "Quality" Pussy would revolutionize mankind..

Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (4) Apr 28, 2011
"2024: After 56 years, man stands on the Moon again, this time to stay.." - Whatever

And that man will be from the Pacific Rim and America will no longer exist as a nation.
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (4) Apr 28, 2011
"a.) The Sun's origin" - TardoLito

God

"b,) The Sun's composition" - TardoLito

Iron

"c.) The Sun's source of energy" - TardoLito

Proton/Proton Repulsion.

"d.) The Sun's dominant influence on Earth's climate." - TardoLito

Of course. Global warming is a fraud.

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