NASA needs new 'breakthrough,' says Obama

Jul 06, 2011
Space shuttle Atlantis on Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 5. NASA needs new technology breakthroughs to revitalize its mission to explore the universe, President Barack Obama said Wednesday as the shuttle Atlantis was preparing for its final mission.

NASA needs new technology breakthroughs to revitalize its mission to explore the universe, President Barack Obama said Wednesday as the shuttle Atlantis was preparing for its final mission.

Asked during his first-ever Twitter town hall meeting about where America stands in terms of space exploration with the about to end after 30 years, Obama said he was "proud" of the past but eager for a new leap forward.

"We are still a leader in , but, frankly, I have been pushing NASA to revamp its vision," Obama said.

"The shuttle did some extraordinary work in low-orbit experiments, the , moving cargo. It was an extraordinary accomplishment. And we're very proud of the work that it did," he added.

"But now what we need is that next technological breakthrough."

Obama, who axed NASA's program that would have returned astronauts to the moon, said that the United States should move beyond the space travel models it used in the 1960s for the that first sent men to the moon.

"Rather than keep on doing the same thing, let's invest in basic research around new technologies that can get us places faster, allow human space flight to last longer," he said.

While hustle to build a next generation spacecraft to tote astronauts to space again, the US space agency can spend time figuring out new ways to live longer in space and send explorers to Mars or an asteroid, he said.

"Let's start stretching the boundaries so we're not doing the same things over and over again. But rather, let's start thinking about, what's the next horizon? What's the next frontier out there?

"In order to do that, we'll need some technological breakthroughs that we don't have yet," said the US president.

Commercial companies may be able to make more affordable for everyday people, while government-funded scientists focus on other work.

"Let's allow the private sector to get in so that they can, for example, send these low earth orbit vehicles into space, and we may be able to achieve a point in time where those of you who are just dying to go into space, you know, you can buy a ticket," said Obama.

"And a private carrier can potentially take you up there while the government focuses on the big breakthroughs that require much larger investments and involve much greater risk."

The space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to make its final flight to the International Space Station later this week, though stormy weather could delay the mission by a couple of days, NASA said.

Once the shuttle program ends, the world's will have to rely on Russia to carry them to the ISS and back until private enterprise comes up with a next-generation US space capsule for cargo and crew.

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User comments : 30

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dirk_bruere
3 / 5 (2) Jul 06, 2011
LOL! Just as long as it does not take money.
jonnyboy
1 / 5 (6) Jul 06, 2011
Obama, the "King of the obvious", speaks again .
holoman
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 06, 2011
Obama might want to visit Colossal Storage website for NLS, antimatter, antigravity, and other exotic technologies.
CapitalismPrevails
2.1 / 5 (12) Jul 06, 2011
If NASA were heavily privatized 30 years ago, we'd have plenty more breakthroughs.
Benjamin_Weinstein
not rated yet Jul 06, 2011
Or make money... LoL
Benjamin_Weinstein
5 / 5 (2) Jul 06, 2011
Megawatt class Vasimr, or Some element 115 should do the trick...
ziphead
1 / 5 (5) Jul 06, 2011
NASA needs new 'breakthrough,' says Obama

More like, emperor needs new clothes.
Sin_Amos
1 / 5 (1) Jul 07, 2011
I believe an underground moon base is the next option utilizing subsistence material usage, plus a solar collector built around the sun, that would fill energy dense ultra-capacitors that would use a semi-solid battery arrays to store thermal, electro-magnetic, and solar energy. Gotta tap into the SOURCE.
vidar_lund
5 / 5 (4) Jul 07, 2011
How about: "NASA needs money and politicians that don't change their mind every 4 years..."
Davralon
5 / 5 (1) Jul 07, 2011
I believe an underground moon base is the next option utilizing subsistence material usage, plus a solar collector built around the sun, that would fill energy dense ultra-capacitors that would use a semi-solid battery arrays to store thermal, electro-magnetic, and solar energy. Gotta tap into the SOURCE.


Seriously, I don't think you have quite explored the full extent of what you are proposing. Unfortunately those things are well beyond our currently technological and engineering skills, I mean we can't even make a ship to carry us to the next planet never mind building something that can withstand, absorb and even store the power of the Sun.

Lets try to keep it real peeps.
Bookbinder
5 / 5 (2) Jul 07, 2011
Face it: the chemical rocket era of manned space flight is over ....The robot era cometh. We explored the moon and it was so stinking boring we mothballed the last Appollo. Mars will be no different. If we want to "Reach for the stars", we ought to do that and stop pissing away our time and money on a bunch of guys visiting space rocks. It's what, 100,000 years to Alpha Centauri at current rocket speeds? Our focus is clear.
ShotmanMaslo
1 / 5 (1) Jul 07, 2011
What NASA needs the most is a breakthrough in management, not technology. Utilizing existing or soon to be existing private launch systems and spacecrafts, not their own systems that will cost countless billions (I am looking at you, SLS).

MarkyMark
5 / 5 (1) Jul 07, 2011
Frankly one of the main problems i see with NASA is its overdeveloped management structure.
rawa1
2 / 5 (4) Jul 07, 2011
Hubble replacement James Webb telescope to be cancelled..

http://appropriat...D=250023
Deesky
5 / 5 (6) Jul 07, 2011
Hubble replacement James Webb telescope to be cancelled..

http://appropriat...D=250023

WTF?! That's insane! Cut the frigging military budget already.
J-n
not rated yet Jul 07, 2011
If NASA were heavily privatized 30 years ago, we'd have plenty more breakthroughs.


What is stopping companies from starting up and taking NASA's place? What was stopping them 30 years ago? Or are you proposing that the Government should have given NASA's resources and funds to a private business?
Bobamus_Prime
3 / 5 (2) Jul 07, 2011
If NASA were heavily privatized 30 years ago, we'd have plenty more breakthroughs.


What is stopping companies from starting up and taking NASA's place? What was stopping them 30 years ago? Or are you proposing that the Government should have given NASA's resources and funds to a private business?


maybe the Govt scooping up all the breakthroughs for black ops programs?
jimbo92107
5 / 5 (2) Jul 07, 2011
I wonder if NASA should get more money than the US military spends each year on air conditioning. Only in Iraq.
emsquared
5 / 5 (1) Jul 07, 2011
If NASA were heavily privatized 30 years ago, we'd have plenty more breakthroughs.
...
What NASA needs the most is a breakthrough in management, not technology.

If we want to "Reach for the stars", we ought to do that and stop pissing away our time and money on a bunch of guys visiting space rocks.

Here's the thing for all the "privatizers" to think about; there is no profit in space exploration at this time. We don't have near the technology to get to mineable space-resources or mine them if we could get there, so where does the private investment come from? Where are there hopes for return on investment? No where. The only private investment to be made right now in space is space-tourism and space-tourism is not going to get us beyond "space rocks". I hate to say it, but the kind of interstellar space travel we need to be looking at is still very much only a public interest right now. To believe private money will finance that at this point is ignoring economic law.
ShotmanMaslo
1 / 5 (1) Jul 07, 2011
Here's the thing for all the "privatizers" to think about; there is no profit in space exploration at this time.


As a space privatizer, I agree with this. The money for manned space exploration will ultimately come mostly from public sources. But utilizing private companies will be more efficient.

NASA should set the overall goal (man on the moon/asteroid/mars or smaller milestones if needed), price, and let the market take its course. Similar to current COTS and CCDev programs. Political BS would be vastly reduced, and bang for the buck increased, IMHO.

Not to mention that the US already has three launch systems (Delta IV, Atlas V and Falcon 9) and one capsule (Dragon) flying, with other spaceships down the private pipe. Wasting years and billions on government alternatives is insanity.
david_42
5 / 5 (2) Jul 07, 2011
Consider, the entire SpaceX budget to date is less than a single Shuttle launch and they've produced the Falcon, Falcon 9 and Dragon.

I worked on the Space Station and the NASA model is one engineer, ten engineering managers, twenty compliance twits plus more managers for the twits. And PR types. Lots of them.
Deesky
5 / 5 (2) Jul 07, 2011
Here's the thing for all the "privatizers" to think about; there is no profit in space exploration at this time

Tell that to Burt Rutan and Richard Branson.
emsquared
5 / 5 (1) Jul 08, 2011
Tell that to Burt Rutan and Richard Branson.

Okay, they are in space-tourism, not space exploration. Reading comprehension, friend.
Javinator
5 / 5 (3) Jul 08, 2011
I think the tourism will fund the technology for the exploration. Once new things have been explored they can be exploited for tourism which can fund the next stage of development/exploration, etc.
Deesky
4.5 / 5 (6) Jul 08, 2011
Okay, they are in space-tourism, not space exploration.

What's the difference? It's still providing access to space infrastructure and once you can do that profitably, extending it incrementally will lead to all kinds of opportunities, including harvesting of resources. You just need to think ahead.
sender
not rated yet Jul 09, 2011
C-C-C-C-C-C-COMMUNIST BREAKER!
Wulfgar
5 / 5 (2) Jul 10, 2011
The private companies will only be semi-private since they will be contracted by NASA and likely other government agencies to send people and stuff into orbit. Basically they are going to be replicating what NASA achieved decades ago, possibly at cheaper cost. Sounds fine to me. But I don't think that they will be doing anything that innovative in space. I hope NASA dumps more resources into the truly revolutionary ideas that are percolating.
emsquared
not rated yet Jul 11, 2011
What's the difference?

The difference is the technology, of course, which I realize you know. But the vastly different needs for deep-space exploration/exploitation vs. orbital or even moon or Mars tourism, I would imagine is quite different infrastructure and even science, really.

It's hard -for me anyway- to conceive of a realistic scenario of arriving at that, that doesn't involve some sort of public finance. Even if the public finance is to just determine that there is a market to be had, i.e. practically, reachable resources or habitable planet, etc.

What is the economic impetus that is going to allow industry to make that leap, when there is no market to leap to? Space-tourism would have to be wildly popular before the R&D could be afforded to develop such expensive technology that has no market, much less start-up of commercial operation. And given the liabilities of space travel (death), it's hard to imagine casual tourism being wildly popular, IMHO.
ShotmanMaslo
1 / 5 (1) Jul 11, 2011
But I don't think that they will be doing anything that innovative in space.


Inflatable modules, VASIMR drives and fuel depots could be done by Bigelow, AdAstra and ULA, respectively. These ideas are indeed innovative and would be very beneficial for our spaceflight capabilities. Not to mention that SpaceX has stated its aim to develop fully reusable launch vehicle in the future.

I am not sure if these ideas are truly revolutionary, but it indeed would be one heck of an evolutionary jump for spaceflight, IMHO, and certainly innovative.
emsquared
5 / 5 (1) Jul 11, 2011
Which don't get me wrong, I'm definitely playing devil's advocate to some degree here, I believe private industry has a very important role to play in the future of space exploration, but I think the economics is a hard thing to overcome. Since it's in the interest of the entire planet earth, I'd really like to see a more collaborative international project, setting goals and developing the field.