Daunting space task -- send astronauts to asteroid

Jul 23, 2011 By SETH BORENSTEIN , AP Science Writer
FILE - This file image released by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Monday, July 18, 2011 shows the asteroid Vesta, photographed by the Dawn spacecraft on July 17, 2011. The image was taken from a distance of about 9,500 miles (15,000 kilometers) away. (AP Photo/NASA/JPL, File)

With the space shuttle now history, NASA's next great mission is so audacious, the agency's best minds are wrestling with how to pull it off: Send astronauts to an asteroid in less than 15 years.

The challenges are innumerable. Some old-timers are grousing about it, saying going back to the moon makes more sense. But many NASA brains are thrilled to have such an improbable assignment.

And NASA leaders say civilization may depend on it.

An asteroid is a giant that orbits the sun, like Earth. And someday one might threaten the planet.

But sending people to one won't be easy. You can't land on an asteroid because you'd bounce off - it has virtually no gravity. Reaching it might require a to harpoon it. Heck, astronauts couldn't even walk on it because they'd float away.

NASA is thinking about jetpacks, tethers, bungees, nets and spiderwebs to allow explorers to float just above the surface of it while attached to a smaller mini-spaceship.

Such a ship - something like a "Star Trek" shuttlecraft melded with a deep sea explorer with pincer-like arms- is needed just to get within working distance of the rock. That craft would have to be big enough for astronauts to live in for a week or two. They'd still need a larger habitat for the long term.

It would take half a year to reach an asteroid, based on current possible targets. The deep space propulsion system to fly such a distance isn't perfected yet. Football-field-sized would help, meaning the entire mothership complex would be fairly large. It would have to protect the from killer solar and bursts. And, they would need a crew capsule, maybe two, for traveling between the asteroid complex and Earth.

And all those parts - mini-spaceship, habitat/living area, crew capsule, and propulsion system - would have to be linked together in the middle of space, assembled in a way like the but on a smaller scale.

Beyond all those obstacles, NASA doesn't even know which asteroid would be the best place to visit.

All this has to be ready to launch by 2025 by presidential order.

"This is the big step," said Kent Joosten, chief architect of the human exploration team at Johnson Space Center. "This is out into the universe, away from Earth's gravity completely... This is really where you are doing the `Star Trek' kind of thing."

It has the dreamers of NASA both excited and anxious.

"This is a risky mission. It's a challenging mission," said NASA chief technology officer Bobby Braun. "It's the kind of mission that engineers will eat up."

This is a matter of sending "humans farther than ever before," said NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver. It is all a stepping stone to the dream of flying astronauts to Mars in the mid 2030s.

"I think it is THE mission NASA should embrace," said University of Tennessee aerospace professor John Muratore. "To be successful at this mission, you've got to embrace all of the technologies that you need for Mars."

Critics, including former Apollo astronauts and flight directors, have blasted President Barack Obama for canceling George W. Bush's plan to return astronauts to the moon. They dismiss talk of asteroid visits.

But that's because NASA has not done a good job of outlining the fascinating details and explaining why it is important, said astronomer and former astronaut John Grunsfeld.

"NASA doesn't have a story right now," said Grunsfeld, deputy director at the Space Telescope Science Institute. "Exploration is nothing if not the articulation of a great story."

The story begins with why NASA would want to go to an asteroid. The agency has sent small spacecraft off to study asteroids over the years and even landed on one in 2001. Just last week, a space probe began orbiting a huge asteroid called Vesta, which lies beyond Mars.

Scientifically, an asteroid is a remnant from the birth of the solar system, offering clues about how our planetary system began. Logistically, NASA wants to go to Mars, but that is distant and more difficult. So the argument is that going to an asteroid is a better testing ground than returning to the moon.

The reason NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and others give is that this mission could save civilization. Every 100 million years or so an asteroid 6 miles wide - the type that killed off the dinosaurs- smacks Earth, said NASA Near Earth Object program manager Donald Yeomans.

If NASA can get astronauts to an asteroid, they can figure out a way of changing a potential killer's orbit. They'll experiment with the safe one they land on, Braun said.

One joke going around is that dinosaurs couldn't stop catastrophe because they didn't have a space program.

"One of the statements going to an asteroid will make is that humans are smarter than dinosaurs," Grunsfeld said.

If you are going to reroute a killer asteroid, first you have to know one is coming and where it is now. And that's also a problem for NASA's mission. Astronomers figure there are about 50,000 asteroids and comets larger than 300 feet in diameter and they only know where fewer than 1 percent of them are, Yeomans said. NASA is focusing on rocks that size or larger that would come relatively close to Earth in the 2025 time frame.

At the moment, there are only a handful of asteroid options and they all have names like 1999AO10 or 2009OS5. NASA deputy exploration chief Laurie Leshin figures NASA will have to come up with, not just more targets, but better names.

Getting to one will be even tougher.

Huge powerful rockets are needed to launch spacecraft and parts out of Earth orbit. NASA promises to announce its design idea for these rockets by the end of the summer and Congress has ordered that they be built by 2016. It will take two or three or maybe even more launches of these unnamed rockets to get all the needed parts into space.

The crew capsule is the farthest along because NASA is using the Orion crew ship it was already designing for the now dead moon mission and repurposing it for deep space. NASA has already spent $5 billion on Orion.

Once in space, the ship needs a propulsion system to get it to the asteroid. One way is to use traditional chemical propulsion, but that would require carrying lots of hard-to-store fuel and creation of a new storage system, Joosten said.

Another way is to use ion propulsion, which is efficient and requires less fuel, but it is enormously slow to rev up and gain speed. It would also require an electrical ignition source, thus the giant solar power wings.

If NASA goes to ion propulsion, the best bet would be to start the bulk of the ship on a trip to and around the moon without astronauts. That would take a while, but if no one is on it, it doesn't matter, Joosten said. Then when that ship is far from Earth, astronauts aboard Orion would dock and join the rest of the trip. By this time, the ship would have picked up sufficient speed and keep on accelerating.

Orion isn't big enough for four astronauts to live on for a year. They would need a larger space habitat, a place where they can exercise to keep from losing bone strength in zero gravity. They would need a place to store food, sleep and most importantly a storm shelter to protect them from potentially deadly and radiation-loaded solar flares.

Much of the habitat could be inflatable, launched in a lightweight form, and inflated in . On Friday, NASA announced a competition among four universities to design potential exploration habitats.

Meanwhile NASA is pursuing its concept for a mini-spaceship exploration vehicle, about the size of a minivan. And it's planning an underwater lab for training, an effort to mimic an mission's challenges, Joosten said.

Leshin notes 2025 is not that many years away: "There's a lot of things we need to invent and build between now and then."

Explore further: Testing immune cells on the International Space Station

More information:
NASA animation of a possible asteroid mission: http://1.usa.gov/pMFyay

NASA's exploration office: http://1.usa.gov/nV6ZPn

NASA's Dawn mission to the asteroid Vesta: http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/

4.1 /5 (13 votes)
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User comments : 77

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Noumenon
3.5 / 5 (89) Jul 23, 2011
Pointless flashy Hollywood science should always be defunded during a slow economy. Fund research in fusion, or energy alternatives instead.
Bookbinder
1.6 / 5 (19) Jul 23, 2011
Really? Why would we piss away money to send astronauts to an asteroid. What a nutty project!
Husky
4.2 / 5 (9) Jul 23, 2011
actually i agree a bit , priorities should shift to usher in a new earth age first and the new space age will follow soon once the fusion and dense packed batterystorage and nanostuff is in place

meanwhile space science with very high bang for the bucks, like telescopes should continu, preferably in joiunt international projects to build very long & dense baseline arrays spanning multiple countries
ShotmanMaslo
3 / 5 (11) Jul 23, 2011
NASA promises to announce its design idea for these rockets by the end of the summer and Congress has ordered that they be built by 2016.


NASA has claimed that the new rocket is not feasible in 2016 with current budgets.

http://spacefligh...avylift/

On the other hand, SpaceX is supposed to test their Falcon Heavy next year. Why not use that rocket? 50 metric tons to low orbit seems enough to me. Other savings caould be achieved by utilizing off-the-shelf Bigelow habitat for the mission.
GSwift7
3.7 / 5 (19) Jul 23, 2011
So, they're talking about going to one that will pass near Earth, rather than a main belt asteroid. I guess Phobos would be too far, but that would serve multiple purposes.

If they really want to do this, then they should get someone other than NASA to run it. SpaceX comes to mind.

Even better, partner with China.
Telekinetic
3.9 / 5 (14) Jul 23, 2011
Preventing an asteroid crashing into earth is as much a priority as preventing a nuclear war. I'm sure the White House , military, and other agencies responsible for the long term protection of this country have been well briefed on the possibility. Without causing panic, they're addressing an absolute necessity with prudent measures. The byproduct of such agility will allow trickier landings elswhere. Otherwise, we'll all be laid to rest under a mile-long headstone.
FrankHerbert
1 / 5 (64) Jul 23, 2011
Hey dogbert,

Please keep your 'Emir Bolden' bullshit to yourself. Thanks. Just wanted to stop your lies before they started.

Actually talking about the plan, it seems like much better practice for Mars than returning to the Moon. It may actually be more difficult than Mars, and I think we stand more to learn about asteroids visiting one, than we do about the Moon since we've already been there a few times.

Also, I think going back to the Moon would be pretty trivial with the planned Heavy Lift Shuttle. I think it's about on par with the Saturn V on payload (not including the shuttle itself iirc) and the shuttle itself will be larger than the just retired shuttle and much larger than than the Apollo Command/Service Module. Imagine a shuttle orbiting the moon for weeks at a time and sending out multiple LEMs. If we're going back to the moon it better be in full force and not just "lol suck it China."
Callippo
1 / 5 (9) Jul 23, 2011
Pointless flashy Hollywood science should always be defunded during a slow economy. Fund research in fusion, or energy alternatives instead.
Of course, just the ignorance of cold fusion findings is what started the oil wars and financial crisis and what stopped the research in many areas of physics and astronomy. In this way, just the ignorant physicists, who are whining for more money by now are responsible for their (and our) situation.

http://www.wired...._pr.html

IMO it's important to see the things in their socio-psychological context.
Vendicar_Decarian
2 / 5 (20) Jul 23, 2011
Hahahahahah.. America is 10 days away from entering into a grand economic depression due to Republican/Libertarian demands that 40 percent of the federal budget be cut, and you people think that America is going to send a manned mission to an asteroid, or mars, or the moon?

In 10 days the Republican/Libertarian plan is to start the automatic defunding which will mean that 15 million Americans will immediately find themselves unemployed, with another 15 million soon following due to economic multiplier effects.

Mission to the moon, mars, asteroid?

Are you people nuts?
Noumenon
3.9 / 5 (80) Jul 23, 2011
With any luck we'll get them rioting in the streets ala Greece.... then I can put on some classical music and watch news reels of police beating them like they did in the sixties.

Btw, "Vendicar", the USA has historically had a lower unemployment rate than Canada.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.9 / 5 (27) Jul 23, 2011
Fund research in fusion, or energy alternatives instead.
Besides gaining the knowledge to avert an impact, asteroid resources are far easier to mine and refine in situ than planetary or lunar material.

But this will be as usual primarily a military effort. Asteroids are the 'high ground' of the inner system.

While other countries are busy climbing up one gravity well and back down another, the US will secure those regions which would present the greatest threat to those colonies should these regions be occupied by enemies.

One diverted asteroid could wipe out life on earth or mars. It is therefore absolutely essential that the capability to prevent this be developed by the west first.

It goes without saying that this potential also affords an effective deterrent as well. This Operation will be the equivalent of the superpowers working together to develop nuclear weapons by pretending to be dire enemies when they were all in fact on the Same Side.
ShotmanMaslo
2.1 / 5 (14) Jul 23, 2011
Also, I think going back to the Moon would be pretty trivial with the planned Heavy Lift Shuttle. I think it's about on par with the Saturn V on payload (not including the shuttle itself iirc) and the shuttle itself will be larger than the just retired shuttle and much larger than than the Apollo Command/Service Module.


What is this mighty vehicle you speak of? Any links?
Bobamus_Prime
not rated yet Jul 23, 2011

What is this mighty vehicle you speak of? Any links?


I believe he was refering to http://www.spacex...eavy.php of course I just realized you mentioned it in your first post so not quite sure..
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (28) Jul 23, 2011
In 10 days the Republican/Libertarian plan is to start the automatic defunding which will mean that 15 million Americans will immediately find themselves unemployed, with another 15 million soon following due to economic multiplier effects.

Mission to the moon, mars, asteroid?

Are you people nuts?
And what better way to dig out from under an economic collapse than with a huge emergency military project? Billions of $$$ are printed and shelled out to all sorts of companies which hire people in droves. Was there any unemployment during ww2? I dont know.

But we need an irresistable threat to galvanize public resolve... I know, a Caliphate! Religionist fanatics create a new middle eastern empire and threaten to conquer space. We cant prevent it, just like we couldnt prevent the soviet union... but we CAN contain it; and we will HAVE to fight it because there will be NO other option...
Noumenon
3.7 / 5 (83) Jul 23, 2011
That would make a great Hollywood movie Otto.

And printing money is a form of redistribution of wealth, and is no more than reactionary unsustainable liberal duck tape.
GSwift7
3.3 / 5 (29) Jul 23, 2011
Hahahahahah.. America is 10 days away from entering into a grand economic depression due to Republican/Libertarian demands


troll

None of that is even remotely accurate. Federal default will not cause a depression. The budget deficite was not caused by anything happening right now. The bond market might stall out till they get it fixed, that's about it. It might even help other areas as investment will need to go someplace other than bonds. I hope it goes into default just to prove what liars the alarmists like you are. If I get a chance to prove you wrong this time, I'm going to reply to every single one of your posts with "i told you so, liar".
Husky
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 23, 2011
i don't how much budget is sucked up off the record by secret defense projects and things like the JSF, but my guess is that its gynormous, if you put them on hold you could postpone default for a few months, i don't want to play the blamegame regarding the current us economical challenges from a liberal or republican view, nut there is no question that NASA is going to feel the pain
eachus
3.2 / 5 (11) Jul 23, 2011
Sigh! If you are going to argue about default, get the facts right first--then argue.

Under the Constitution the ultimate "power of the purse" was given to the House of Representatives. Only the House can propose tax increases. The current "crisis" began last year when the incoming House majority indicated that they were not elected to raise taxes, but to reduce spending.

Congress (House and Senate) has the power to "borrow money on the credit of the United States." To force spending reductions, the House indicated that they would not agree to a further increase in the borrowing authorization (the debt limit) unless the Senate agreed to spending cuts.

The President? If a bill is passed by both houses of Congress, he can sign it or veto it. If he vetoes it both houses by a 2/3 majority vote can pass it anyway.

Where are we now? The House has passed a bill, the Senate has declared it DoA, and the President is trying to get both houses to agree to tax increases too.
eachus
3.5 / 5 (6) Jul 23, 2011
What happens if no agreement is reached? The executive branch of the government is limited in how much money they can spend. What is available can be used to pay obligations, including bonds, etc., (and Social Security), or it can be used for new spending. (Please, no don't DO that!) But that undiscussed bit is what the last six months has all been about.

If the US just spends what it takes in, there is no need to increase the debt limit. If the government wants to continue borrowing money and spending it, the debt limit needs to be increased.

Decide what you want, just remember that all of the talk about not sending out Social Security checks, or defaulting on the Federal debt is political posturing. There are lots of areas which will get cut first, perhaps including some of your favorite programs. But spending trillions to bail out the next Chrysler, or whoever, is going to require a big jump in the borrowing authority.
Vendicar_Decarian
1.8 / 5 (21) Jul 23, 2011
"Federal default will not cause a depression." - G not so Swift

Default isn't the issue Tard Boy. The issue is the failure of the Republicans to produce a budget. Failure to do so will mean automatic cuts to government spending totaling 1.5 trillion over the next year. Cutting 1.5 trillion in economic stimulus over the year will immediately put 15 million Americans out of work, and secondary effects another 15 million in short order - none of whom can be allowed to collect UI without further increasing the federal debt.

This will push the U.S. economy into a 30 year Economic Depression.

In addition the U.S. will have it's credit rating lowered and what is now a 400 billion a year bill in interest on the debt will balloon to perhaps 800 billion. Making the cuts in government spending 70 percent rather than the current 40 percent.

Space Science - in fact science - will not survive such a monumental Republican economic failure.
Vendicar_Decarian
1.6 / 5 (18) Jul 23, 2011
The enemies of America share your wishes.

"I hope it goes into default..." - G not so Swift
Vendicar_Decarian
1.9 / 5 (20) Jul 23, 2011
Correct. If the U.S. just cuts it's federal budget by 40 percent then there is no need to increase the debt limit.

"If the US just spends what it takes in, there is no need to increase the debt limit." - Eachus

Removing 1.5 trillion per year is what the U.S. government must do by law if the debt limit is not extended, and that 1.5 trillion represents 15 million jobs directly, and another 15 million due to secondary effects.

So if the debt limit isn't extended, the immediate result will be 15 million more people on the unemployment line (with no UI) since that would raise the debt ceiling. These people would be followed a few weeks later by 15 million other Americans who would be fired due to the Economy entering a second Republican/Libertarian created Grand 30 year Economic Depression.

This is the true extent of the game of Economic Treason the TeaPublicans are playing with America.
Isaacsname
5 / 5 (1) Jul 23, 2011
Cue Bruce Willis
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.3 / 5 (25) Jul 23, 2011
That would make a great Hollywood movie Otto.

And printing money is a form of redistribution of wealth, and is no more than reactionary unsustainable liberal duck tape.
-How do you figure? Where does this wealth come from?

The king says 'We will create an entire new technology.' -and waves his wand. And lo! His Authority, in the form of millions of pieces of paper, is distributed in order to Make It So. No revenues can be collected until investment in new industries and technologies occurs. And the money for this originates with the Govt, as it always has.

Money is Authority. It is given to people who can best use it to further the wishes of the king*.

*metaphor
Skepticus_Rex
2.5 / 5 (13) Jul 23, 2011
The House did put forth a budget plan. The Senate killed it.

But, I do agree that going to an asteroid may not be the best idea at present. Now, if we only had a more or less permanent base on the moon. Launches from there would be cheaper due to the need for less thrust.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (25) Jul 23, 2011
You know, Vendicar Depressian, in order to build a whole new infrastructure you must first demolish the old one to make room. How much harder to start making completely new things if the facilities for making old things are still up and running, and making money. Why change?

This is why the symbol of EMPIRE is the Phoenix. 'From the ashes...' We see this most dramatically in the US Civil War, when the excuse for conflict enabled the razing of an entire southern economy. But it has always been done this way.

The unavoidable Cycle of growth, decay, collapse, and rebirth is what always accompanies investment. And so this too must be harnessed for the Common Good. Because if left to run it's own course it would ALWAYS result in a weaker and more chaotic state than before.

Hail Empire.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (25) Jul 23, 2011
But, I do agree that going to an asteroid may not be the best idea at present. Now, if we only had a more or less permanent base on the moon. Launches from there would be cheaper due to the need for less thrust.
Meanwhile evildoers would be launching from orbit on much riskier suicide missions and our moonbase would be rubble. Think like Hannibal man!

We have the advantage for the moment but it may not be ours for long. Technology is muddying the waters.
Skepticus
1.4 / 5 (9) Jul 23, 2011
This asteroid dream will get nowhere. Simply put, America won't have the budget and the hardware needed. The President is willing to cut social spendings and ask for some more tax revenues from rich, big businesses. That seems reasonable enough, all have to sacrify something to dig America out of the debt hole. But Congress seems determined to oust Obama no matter the costs, because he dared to speak against their fair-haired boss Bibi. If they have to wreck america to do it, they will. If they have to invent a Caliphate to keep America centuries in the ME sinkhole for Israel survival, they will. America's politics are run by/with business men, so as long as war and oil are still profitable and no tax increases for THEM, the public can go to hell! That means don't hope to see big money being spent on sciene, space exproration or anything else but on military tech and expenditure. Without money, all the briliiant US's engineers and scientists can do is dream on and play with their CAD.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.3 / 5 (24) Jul 23, 2011
If they have to invent a Caliphate to keep America centuries in the ME sinkhole for Israel survival, they will.
You think too small. If Obama is to be ousted then it would have been Choreographed long ago and the Results already Predetermined.

What - you think that the future of what may be the only existing civilization in the entire universe would be left to the whims of a few rheumy old politicians? The stakes are much too high to let them be determined by ad hoc human invention or the lack thereof.
Skepticus
2.2 / 5 (9) Jul 23, 2011
cont.
For example, promissing hardware like the reusable X-30 was crapped because of "faulty fuel tank design", and even that issues is debatably more political than engineering, as progress had been make when the whole progam is scrapped. This ever-changing political winds that man-handled technological development resulted in the waste of billions and no hardware base. Every time NASA is tasked with something new, they have to invent, make a whole new line of hardware to suit, and there is no guarantee that it will not be scrapped. States senators will push their party lines and their states' companies interests ahead of everythng else everytime. To put it bluntly: They wouldn't f**king care less unless America's back is against the wall, and only when the executioners' gun are loaded and lined up! Civil nuclear power development, which will enable space hardware to go anywhere with power to spare, is put into "too dangerous" waste bucket, because of its roles in military dominance.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (27) Jul 23, 2011
The Great Depression PREPARED the world for the great war that was to follow. Obsolete industries were destroyed to make way for the new ones needed to support the war effort, and the brave new world to follow. The anticipated Effect explains the specific nature of the Cause. One need only imagine how things would have turned out otherwise.

Anticipating inevitability and Planning for it is what humans DO. We should be very surprised and dismayed if we found this NOT to be the case.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (26) Jul 23, 2011
Every time NASA is tasked with something new, they have to invent, make a whole new line of hardware to suit, and there is no guarantee that it will not be scrapped.
This is because they are a military agency. The shuttle was primarily a military system.

It is the job of the military to develop the most advanced tech possible. One can see this all the time - the F20 Tigershark for instance. It was taken completely to the production stage in case any critical, unresolvable problems with the F15/F16 programs arose. It 'wasted' billions in the sense that in the end it was not needed. Like NASAs heavy lift program.
Skepticus
1 / 5 (5) Jul 23, 2011
..If Obama is to be ousted then..

.. the entire universe would be left to the whims of a few rheumy old politicians?


Obama will have at best 1 chance in 5 to be President again come 2012. Never underestimate the Rep. mantra "Will Make Obama 1 Term President."
I don't know about you, but I see the only known "civilization" in the universe has been run from the like of Alpha Monkeys, Villiage Chiefs, Warlords, Kings, Pharaohs, Julius Caesar, Gengis Khan, Hitler, Stalin, Ted Roosevelt, Churchill, Gandhi, Kenedy, Mandela...Their utterances and whims changed and steered the world's history."a few rheumy old politicians", indeed! All the world's inventions haved been co-opted and commandeered to serve their commands and ambitions. Don't hope for a techno-led revolution of mankind!
Skepticus
2.1 / 5 (10) Jul 23, 2011
...It 'wasted' billions in the sense that in the end it was not needed. Like NASAs heavy lift program.


So: "NASA's heavy lif program is not needed". What do you propose we use to lift all the hardware to go beyond LEO to the asteroids and whatelse now, with a canoe? relative puny Atlas 5s, untried SpaceX rockets, rented Russian's, or God forbid, Chinese's launchers? talk about politician's long term visions. They deluded themselves and scammed the public that US's space ex are are on track sailing down moon river, now the shuttle is gone, and suddenly they are up sh*t creek with old, broken, half-carved paddles!
spookjr
not rated yet Jul 23, 2011
Sometimes people tend to forget that both the quest for nuclear weapons and the space program catapulted the world into a completely new paradigm of technology and learning. We must never lose our passion for exploration for if we do we will lose one of the most basic human qualities that make us so unique.
The technology necesary to carry humans to the depths of the Solar System will also be advantageous in many other non related fields.
Skepticus
1 / 5 (5) Jul 23, 2011
All the technological brilliance will come to nothing if one's going broke and don't have the resources. At WW2 Germany scientists invented tons of new stuff the Allies carted away, scientists and all, to use in aviation biowarefare and space programs after they could'nt sustain the fight and lost. Similarly, America is backing itself into a corner by deciding civil nuclear power should not be promoted, cooked up NPT, so aspiring nations would find it difficult and costly to aquire the know-hows that will eventually negate the US's nuclear superiority. Well, it's a really bad strategy. The Chinese, Japanese and Russian are selling civil nuclear reactors to anyone who have the cash now. By going almost totally reliant on ME oil, Chinese credits and cheap goods, the US is being held hostage on energy, economic and industrial grounds. As the saying goes "Money talks,Bullshit walks." Unless America can rebuilt itself economically, the only future is down hill.
Vendicar_Decarian
1.4 / 5 (11) Jul 23, 2011
So is Capitalism. The invisible hand of the market is the ultimate form of coercion.

"And printing money is a form of redistribution of wealth.." NumenTard

"Work brings freedom" - sign over many NAZI death camps.
"Work brings freedom" - perpetual promise of the Capitalist.
Vendicar_Decarian
1.6 / 5 (13) Jul 23, 2011
"The unavoidable Cycle of growth, decay, collapse, and rebirth is what always accompanies investment." - Otto

American Yooozers just happen to be living in the collapse phase. Quite possibly in 150 years America might have recovered from the last 40 years of Libertarian/Republican treason.

jsn3604
1 / 5 (1) Jul 24, 2011
Soo...NASA's grand goal now is to see if we can deflect an asteroid as it is a potential (but remote) risk to human life on Earth? I would rather put funding towards learning what we can about the universe for our (really, my) own gratification because something is obviously going to kill off humanity one day.
FrankHerbert
1 / 5 (62) Jul 24, 2011
With any luck we'll get them rioting in the streets ala Greece.... then I can put on some classical music and watch news reels of police beating them like they did in the sixties.


@Noumenon

Wow you are an awful little person, aren't you? Keep on preachin' in Jesus' name. You're pathetic.
Vendicar_Decarian
2.1 / 5 (15) Jul 24, 2011
"...because something is obviously going to kill off humanity one day" - Ricky Retardo

Ya... Maybe an asteroid.

jsn3604
1 / 5 (2) Jul 24, 2011
"...because something is obviously going to kill off humanity one day" - Ricky Retardo

Ya... Maybe an asteroid.

I guess you spend every morning in front of the mirror planning your speech after you win the Powerball.

FrankHerbert
1 / 5 (62) Jul 24, 2011
Also, I think going back to the Moon would be pretty trivial with the planned Heavy Lift Shuttle. I think it's about on par with the Saturn V on payload (not including the shuttle itself iirc) and the shuttle itself will be larger than the just retired shuttle and much larger than than the Apollo Command/Service Module.


What is this mighty vehicle you speak of? Any links?


There's a few designs floating around at the moment. I'm pretty sure none are contracted for assembly yet, but it seems like NASAs best bet.

http://en.wikiped..._Vehicle

http://en.wikiped..._Vehicle

http://en.wikiped...h_System
ShotmanMaslo
1.8 / 5 (5) Jul 24, 2011
There's a few designs floating around at the moment. I'm pretty sure none are contracted for assembly yet, but it seems like NASAs best bet.


Yeah, the SLS. But this is an ordinary in-line rocket, not shuttle. It is just based on shuttle-derived technology.
FrankHerbert
0.8 / 5 (57) Jul 24, 2011
Yeah my imagination got the best of me. They still look like pretty viable designs though.
PS3
1 / 5 (3) Jul 24, 2011
The timing is just about right for the Apophis asteroid,uh oh.
Vendicar_Decarian
1.6 / 5 (13) Jul 24, 2011
"I guess you spend every morning in front of the mirror planning your speech after you win the Powerball." - TardISN3604

Please don't hate me because I am vastly smarter than you are.
You must be used to it by now.
zuggerjack
5 / 5 (3) Jul 24, 2011
An excellent story by Seth Borenstein that dovetails exactly what US aerospace engineer David Kagan, author of the book Sunstroke that I read, has been promoting.

Due to the many near-misses Earth has recently experienced, NASA should immediately implement this crucial mission and put two astronauts on an asteroid in less than fifteen years. The Administration should give this project top-priority, like President Kennedy gave the Apollo mission to land Americans on the Moon. But this time around, a manned asteroidal mission could be critical to the survival of the human race, and should be done ASAP with a modified Ares V and the new Orion space capsule with space solar power via microwaves supplying electricity. Jet-packs to the asteroidal surface are the best bet.

Let's do it, and later fine-tune the same hardware to land a pair of astronauts on Mars.
Noumenon
3.7 / 5 (81) Jul 24, 2011
With any luck we'll get them rioting in the streets ala Greece.... then I can put on some classical music and watch news reels of police beating them like they did in the sixties.


@Noumenon

Wow you are an awful little person, aren't you? Keep on preachin' in Jesus' name. You're pathetic.


What does that statement have to do with Jesus? I'm an agnostic and hold no religion. More non-sense presumptions from you I see.
Empire_man_otto
1.7 / 5 (12) Jul 24, 2011
"The unavoidable Cycle of growth, decay, collapse, and rebirth is what always accompanies investment." - Otto

American Yooozers just happen to be living in the collapse phase. Quite possibly in 150 years America might have recovered from the last 40 years of Libertarian/Republican treason.
Correct. But as both sides were Constructed to perform a Service, we should expect to see some extremely Beneficial results emerge from the rubble. As usual. And a lot sooner I should think, as there is little time to waste. The inner system is a very dangerous place indeed.

No Gain without Pain. The human race is a muscle.
Telekinetic
2.6 / 5 (16) Jul 24, 2011
With any luck we'll get them rioting in the streets ala Greece.... then I can put on some classical music and watch news reels of police beating them like they did in the sixties.

I watched unarmed young people in the sixties having their heads bloodied and the four students at Kent State executed by the National Guard. Your heartless statement reveals more about you than you realize. You may think it's an off-handed political remark, but as you've set the stage of watching the brutality in the private comfort of your living room set to soothing classical music, you have exposed a psychosexual side of yourself whose ramifications are more disturbing than your statement. Your fantasy lies in the realm of sadomasochism, where healthy sexual response is subsumed by a desire to inflict pain and overpower your victim. The use of a billy club is an obvious phallic symbol in your fantasy. What you have exposed are your deep-seated feelings of powerlessness and sexual inadequacy.
Noumenon
3.8 / 5 (82) Jul 24, 2011
LOL, too funny! Instant psychoanalysis over the Internet, ,...Freud would have had a paying web site, but would still have been considered a quack. Ethelred gives out free analysis too, at the right price.

Actually it was a scene from The Simpsons and was meant in jest.

Telekinetic
3 / 5 (12) Jul 24, 2011
Look, I've done you the favor of alerting you to your need for help before you're carted off on a rape charge. Quit dodging.
Noumenon
3.8 / 5 (81) Jul 24, 2011
Look, I've done you the favor of alerting you to your need for help before you're carted off on a rape charge. Quit dodging.


Thanks, but comedy is not a sign of psychological issues. Now, while I detest the mentality that looks to the gov for solutions to every societal problem, I don't want anyone beaten with a club for realzies, because of course I value freedom of expression and not a overpowering gov.

Do you actually believe in telekinesis?
Arf_Arf_Arf_Arf_Arf_Arf
1.6 / 5 (14) Jul 24, 2011
With any luck we'll get them rioting in the streets ala Greece.... then I can put on some classical music and watch news reels of police beating them like they did in the sixties.

I watched unarmed young people in the sixties having their heads bloodied and the four students at Kent State executed by the National Guard. ... you have exposed a psychosexual side of yourself whose ramifications are more disturbing than your statement. Your fantasy lies in the realm of sadomasochism, where healthy sexual response is subsumed by a desire to inflict pain and overpower your victim. The use of a billy club is an obvious phallic symbol in your fantasy. What you have exposed are your deep-seated feelings of powerlessness and sexual inadequacy.
Haha er arf arf. I smell dogshit here.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.5 / 5 (23) Jul 24, 2011
There's a few designs floating around at the moment.
Yeah I dont know why NASA doesnt just sell the constellation system to a private consortium who could continue to use existing shuttle component facilities for fabricating. Unless it wouldnt be able to compete with current private designs?

Of course. NASA is primarily involved in forcing new technologies which would not emerge thru competition. They compete militarily not economically. Theyre competition is with the ENEMY.

NASA was originally founded in response to sputnik. The moon race, ISS, and shuttle programs were all done to expand military capability ahead of any adversarys attempts to do so.

Exploration/reconnoitering is military in nature. COLUMBUS' missions were military. Railroads, airlines and autobahns are aspects of national SECURITY, waiting to be commandeered as needed. Commercial shipping was used for military transport during the world wars. With soviets this was obvious. It is also the case in the west.
Noumenon
3.8 / 5 (79) Jul 24, 2011
I say, 'Do you actually believe in telekinesis?',... now quit dodging.
jmlvu
5 / 5 (2) Jul 24, 2011
Why bother sending humans, when a robot can do the same job without a life support system. If your purpose is to permanently populate the moon or an asteroid with humans then we need to develop robot technologies that mine those environments and build structures for humans.
yyz
2.3 / 5 (6) Jul 24, 2011
"Why bother sending humans, when a robot can do the same job without a life support system."

ESA is designing a mission to test whether an asteroid can be successfully deflected using automated probes. Named Don Quijote, the mission concept involves an orbiter(Sancho) to map characteristics of the targeted asteroid followed by an impactor(Hildago), equipped with a hi-res camera:

http://www.esa.in...E_0.html
http://en.wikiped...probe%29

A paper appeared on arXiv recently detailing some mission considerations and characteristics: http://arxiv.org/...4229.pdf

Proposed launch dates are in 2013 or(more likely) 2015.
Burnerjack
2 / 5 (4) Jul 24, 2011
Would you choose this over say, funding Social Security or Vteren's pay or benefits? The age of limitless funding has passed, as evidenced by the James Webb Space Telescope. If the ESA wants to spend huge sums of money 'tilting at windmills' well, that's their business. We have more ptacticalities to contend with.
ROBTHEGOB
1.6 / 5 (13) Jul 25, 2011
I thought Frank Herbert was dead.?. His book Dune sucked, also.
ShotmanMaslo
2.8 / 5 (11) Jul 25, 2011
huge sums of money


NASA budget (less than 20 billion) is just about 0.5 % of federal budget. The manned space exploration part is even smaller, less than 10 billion.
GSwift7
3.9 / 5 (18) Jul 25, 2011
In response to VD's comments way up in the thread about the US economy headed for collapse because of the debt ceiling, anybody see the financial news today? Bond markets are holding steady, with no rise in interest rates yet. That is unexpected but good news which indicates that things aren't as bad as expected by reasonable people, and nowhere near as bad as alarmist like VD are suggesting. Continue to watch US Federal Treasury Bond interest rates over the next two weeks if you want to follow the story. That's the main index to watch here. Gold prices have started to edge up though, just as I predicted that people will start looking for alternatives to the bond market for a while. It's finance, not rocket science, and you can look at Europe, where something similar has already happened, to see what the effects will be. It's not going to be catastrophic unless people panic and run the banks or something.
GSwift7
3.5 / 5 (21) Jul 25, 2011
NASA budget (less than 20 billion) is just about 0.5 % of federal budget. The manned space exploration part is even smaller, less than 10 billion


Yep, exactly. Just to put things into perspective, here's a story about the United States Postal Service. Here's a quote and a link:

WASHINGTON, March 2 (UPI) -- The U.S. Postal Service said it could lose $238 billion over the next decade


http://www.upi.co...7544397/

EPA's budget has been around 10 billion, but Obama wants to reduce that to around 9 billion. US State Department's budget is 47 billion, with an extra 8.7 billion for wartime expenses outside the normal budget. Amtrak is about 2.5 billion. Homland Security is about 57 billion. Department of Agriculture is about 145 billion. Dept of Energy is about 26 billion. And I won't even mention the DoD.
GSwift7
3.9 / 5 (18) Jul 25, 2011
The GDP of New Zealand is listed as apx 140 billion, ranked 51st compared to other countries, and that's less than the Dept of Ag budget.

That's according to the 2010 CIA World Factbook. Other sources may vary.

I think it's safe to say that we could trim some fat on a whole bunch of Federal agencies. If you take a little bit out of a whole bunch of different places, then you could make a big difference without causing too much pain I would bet. When they talk about cutting medicaid payments, teachers jobs, soldiers' pay, etc. that's just political nonsense. They need to talk about slimming down agencies. They could make small cuts in compensation for the top 25% in pay of Federal employees, for example. 10% off the paycheck of people who are making over 200k a year wouldn't kill anybody. That's where it should start. Then look for things we just don't need, like silly museums for stupid stuff, redundant departments at different agencies, etc. Discressionary spending is another.
FrankHerbert
0.9 / 5 (59) Jul 25, 2011
GSwift7, to be fair the USPS is self funding and a valuable public service. It is running a deficit, but so do lots of corporations despite running purely on a profit motive.

Sure fat should be trimmed wherever it can, but the DoD is the elephant in the room. I'm all for paying soldiers well, but maybe in order to do that we can't have as many. Here's an example off the top of my head. The US has 11 -100,000 ton, 100 aircraft- aircraft carriers. The entire rest of the WORLD FLEET COMBINED has I believe 3 or 4 -50,000 ton, 50 aircraft- aircraft carriers. What is the point of this madness?

Just to illustrate the madness a little further... The air force has two fully functional robotic SPACE SHUTTLES, one of which is currently IN ORBIT. NASA has none.

AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
GSwift7
4 / 5 (16) Jul 28, 2011
GSwift7, to be fair the USPS is self funding and a valuable public service. It is running a deficit, but so do lots of corporations despite running purely on a profit motive


The Federal government allocates money from the general fund to cover that deficite, same goes for Amtrak (which is also SUPPOSED to be self-funded). The USPS can't actually carry a debt of its own like a private company can. They don't sell stock in the USPS. Every penny of shortfall from the USPS must be immediately covered by the Federal government. Agencies can't borrow money on their own, or maintain negative balances.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.4 / 5 (21) Jul 28, 2011
Unfortunately the USPS may well go bankrupt in the fall. It is now closing 100s of offices.
ShotmanMaslo
2 / 5 (8) Jul 28, 2011
Sure fat should be trimmed wherever it can, but the DoD is the elephant in the room.


Which is another reason why NASA does not need its own rocket. DoD will have its own launch systems no matter what, it is a matter of national security, money is not of big concern. The most economical decision is for NASA to use these DoD systems, or their direct derivatives (HLV and manned variants). No need to reinvent the wheel.
J-n
4.6 / 5 (5) Jul 28, 2011
When they talk about cutting medicaid payments, teachers jobs, soldiers' pay, etc. that's just political nonsense. They need to talk about slimming down agencies. They could make small cuts in compensation for the top 25% in pay of Federal employees, for example. 10% off the paycheck of people who are making over 200k a year wouldn't kill anybody.


Why not just increase the tax rate on those making over 1m/year back to what it was before GWB? We'd save about 3 trillion dollars over the next 10 years. Then we wouldnt have to touch social programs that bennifit people who spend 100% of the money they take in.

Why cut taxes for people who will only end up investing the money into companies that end up creating jobs in foregin nations? Why don't we focus on putting money into the hands of people who will spend the cash here in the USA? At least the money will stay in the local economy longer. Increasing SALES which then would increase need for more staff. Making more jobs.
J-n
4.2 / 5 (5) Jul 28, 2011
Then again the real question might be Why NOT raise the debt ceiling? What makes now different than the 10 times we did it under Reagan?

It seems like a silly arguement when it's put into historical context, realizing how often it has been raised in the past, and how LITTLE opposition it has gotten each time.

Kinda strange now that it's not RR, GB or GWB in office that there is a fight about it. If you look at from that point of view it looks MUCH less like an economic decision on the part of the Republicans, and more like a Political one.

I am sure that more and more people are realizing that the Republicans do not engage in political discussion, they do not compromise, and many are starting to wonder if they have the best interests of ALL Americans in their minds, or just the few businesses and individuals that fund their campaigns.
GSwift7
4 / 5 (16) Jul 29, 2011
Why not just increase the tax rate on those making over 1m/year back to what it was before GWB? We'd save about 3 trillion dollars over the next 10 years. Then we wouldnt have to touch social programs that bennifit people who spend 100% of the money they take in.

Why cut taxes for people who will only end up investing the money into companies that end up creating jobs in foregin nations?


That sounds good to me.

One thing they could do to increase federal tax revenue without changing the taxes at all would be to regulate outsourcing out of existence. I'd love to see all the IT jobs come back home. Fix our outsourcing problem and you'll fix our recession, unemployment, housing and federal budget problems in an instant. And we wouldn't have to fire any teachers or police in the process.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.2 / 5 (20) Jul 29, 2011
Why not just increase the tax rate on those making over 1m/year back to what it was before GWB?
That would be nice but they would all just pack up and move to the Caymans or elsewhere. In which case we could look at some kind of international tax for those who earn their income here while living elsewhere.

Which may be the whole point of current economic crises... you know, world government? Right marjon?

One Nation under godless socialists?
89118a
1 / 5 (2) Aug 10, 2011

Btw, "Vendicar", the USA has historically had a lower unemployment rate than Canada.


That's because Canada uses real numbers to determine unemployment, remember Reagan changed the formula to make the USA numbers artificially low.
Skepticus_Rex
1.4 / 5 (9) Aug 10, 2011
For further discussion about taxing the rich and so forth, here are the US Federal tax brackets for all income ranges for individuals for 2010:

0 to 8,375 = 10%
8,375 to 34,000 = 15%
34,000 to 82,400 = 25%
82,400 to 171, 850 = 28%
171,850 to 373,650 = 33%
373,650 to above = 35%

The percentage brackets haven't changed since 2003 but the inflation-adjusted income amounts have changed just about every year. The rich have always been taxed at higher rates than everybody else. I don't know where everyone gets the idea that rich individuals don't get taxed more by the Fed.
ShotmanMaslo
2.3 / 5 (9) Aug 11, 2011
The rich have always been taxed at higher rates than everybody else.


Of course, but what about corporate taxes?

United States: Federal 15% to 35%.


http://en.wikiped...orations
ShotmanMaslo
2 / 5 (4) Aug 11, 2011
Also, I believe that income tax for the rich was as high as 80 % in the past, wasnt it? (Not that I agree with such a high tax..)

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