Nasa's picture of the future of human spaceflight

Feb 15, 2012 By Nancy Atkinson, Universe Today
NASA infographic on the future of human spaceflight. Credit: NASA.

NASA released a new interactive infographic that attempts to give a picture of future of human spaceflight activities and where NASA might be going. The new Space Launch system and the Orion MPCV figure prominently in going to future destinations such as the Moon, Mars, Near Earth Asteroids and even LaGrange Points. It would be awesome to go to all those destinations, but – call me pessimistic — in reality, we’ll be lucky if we even get to one of them in the next 30 years. But since human spaceflight received favorable funding nods in the new NASA budget proposal, we can hopefully look forward to the first un-crewed test flight of the MPCV in 2013 or 2014.

In the interactive feature you can learn about the SLS and MPCV, along with spacesuits, deep space habitation and communications and more. Additionally, there are interviews with astronauts Sandy Magnus, Harrison Schmitt, and Tom Jones, along with NASA officials Doug Cooke and Waleed Abdalati.

As far as the various destinations, Schmitt says we should return to the Moon as the Apollo missions “barely scratched the surface,” and “the Moon is a history book of what went on in near Earth space and of what went on in the early solar system. The real geoscience value of the Moon is to learn about ourselves.”

Jones says asteroids will also provide scientific information about the early days of the solar system, as well as providing information about space resources such as water. We can also learn about how to protect our planet. “These objects will run into us in the future, as they have done in the past. For us to survive in the long run we’re going to have to learn to operate around and prevent a future collision by applying our space technology to the alteration to the orbits of some of these hazardous objects.”

Journalist Leonard David wrote an article this week about a recent NASA memo that talks about the potential for NASA building a waystation at one of the Earth-Moon libration points. Also, a working group of International Space Station members is being held in Paris this week, and David says this strategy is likely being discussed with international partners. It certainly sounds exciting, but may be perhaps the most expensive destination, as every resource would have to be brought there to build a station, instead of landing on a destination like the or an asteroid and using the potential resources there.

Can be successful in the “multiple path” plan or will they ultimately need to pick just one?

Explore further: NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

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User comments : 8

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Xbw
1.7 / 5 (11) Feb 15, 2012
How about we stop trying to 1up everyone and focus on the future of "Human Space Flight" rather than our own narrow self interest.

If humanity was united when it comes to space exploration, we would be much farther along than we are now.
dschlink
5 / 5 (2) Feb 15, 2012
NASA is wasting enormous amounts of money man-rating the SLS. They really need to focus on an unmanned-heavy lift rocket, but that wouldn't require thousands of people to launch or spread the money out far enough. So sad.
antialias_physorg
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 15, 2012
They really need to focus on an unmanned-heavy lift rocket

Why? There are plenty of competitors in the market (Ariane, Proton, Vega, ... ) NASA can't compete with that. They should stick to what they are good at: doing manned space missioons.
Modernmystic
1.2 / 5 (11) Feb 15, 2012
If humanity was united when it comes to space exploration, we would be much farther along than we are now.


First off, all of humanity can't contribute in a meaningful way to spaceflight. Secondly, those who actually CAN make a contribution...why would we share tech with or collaborate with countries like China who blatantly spy and steal sensitive military technology (granted I'm sure we do the same but the point still stands), and have nuclear weapons pointed our way? We're not talking about sharing brownie recipes here for crying out loud....

As for manned spaceflight we should start looking into non-chemical propulsion a little more seriously. In the current political climate nuclear rockets on the ground are probably impossible, but at least we could look at something like that for Mars and the outer solar system...we're just never going to get there with a technological principle that cavemen used...
antialias_physorg
3.4 / 5 (5) Feb 15, 2012
and have nuclear weapons pointed our way?

You are aware that currently no one has nuclear weapons pointed at the US?
In 1998 China and the US (under Clinton) comitted to not target each other with nuclear weapons (a decision that was reversed by president Bush in 2002 and nuclear warheads were actively targetted at chinese locations). Obama is currently trying to get that one going again.

China has also a 'no first use' strategy on its nuclear weapons. (Unlike the US, which has an 'appropriate response' rule that includes use of nukes to retaliate for conventional attack)
Modernmystic
1.5 / 5 (8) Feb 15, 2012
In 1998 China and the US (under Clinton) comitted to not target each other with nuclear weapons (a decision that was reversed by president Bush in 2002 and nuclear warheads were actively targetted at chinese locations). Obama is currently trying to get that one going again.


So, what was your point (not being sarcastic here)? I agree that we shouldn't be targeting countries and vice versa but the fact is that we are.

China has also a 'no first use' strategy on its nuclear weapons. (Unlike the US, which has an 'appropriate response' rule that includes use of nukes to retaliate for conventional attack)


China most certainly WOULD use nukes first if it suited them no matter what their PR machine is saying...

Regardless I'd be fine sharing sensitive space tech with the brits, the aussies, and perhaps the Germans, the Japanese, but not really anyone else. Just my opinion.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 15, 2012

So, what was your point (not being sarcastic here)? I agree that we shouldn't be targeting countries and vice versa but the fact is that we are.

The point is that it's only sensible to be afraid of someone who has some sort of motivation and gain from hurting you. China has none of those.

- They have a huge investment in the US (owning a lot of the US debt)
- The US is a major consumer of their products
- China has no ability to project its power to another overseas country (I think they own exactly one aircraft carrier and have no deep water navy at all. All they have is a 'brown water' navy.)

(The same goes for all other countries that the US is so 'terminally afraid of'...Nort Korea, Iran, formerly Iraq, Afghanistan, ... not even Russia!)

It makes absolutely no sense for China to threaten the US first-strike wise. (It makes sense to have second strike ability as a deterrent to such an overly warmongering nation like the US, though)
evropej
1.6 / 5 (7) Feb 15, 2012
Current mission for director of NASA is to befriend muslim nations and not space exploration. If we want to get back to space exploration, we need a president who supports it.

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