Obama aims to send astronauts to Mars orbit in 2030s

Apr 15, 2010
Mars. Image: NASA

President Barack Obama set a bold new course for the future of US space travel when he announced plans to send US astronauts into the orbit of Mars within the next three decades.

The US leader on Thursday also sought to quell a storm of outrage caused by earlier administration plans, vowing before NASA staff that he was "100 percent committed" to their mission and to the future of the US space agency.

"I believe that space exploration is not a luxury, it's not an afterthought in America's quest for a brighter future. It is an essential part of that quest," he told a crowd at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Obama made a whirlwind trip after stinging criticism of his decision to end the costly Constellation program, a project to return US astronauts to the moon.

Obama -- accompanied by astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the moon after Neil Armstrong in 1969 -- said his administration would pump six billion more dollars into the NASA budget over the next five years.

He also had specific ideas how it should be spent.

"We should attempt a return to the surface of the moon first, as previously planned. But I just have to say, pretty bluntly here, we've been there before. Buzz has been there," Obama said.

"There's a lot more of space to explore and a lot more to learn when we do," he said, to loud applause.

"By 2025 we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first ever crew missions beyond the moon into deep space.

"So, we'll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history. By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to earth, and a landing on Mars will follow."

In a nod to critics who say the new approach will costs jobs, Obama said he was retaining the Orion capsule segment of the Constellation project.

Obama said he had instructed NASA administrator Charles Bolden to design a rescue vehicle using technology already developed for the Orion capsule.

The United States would also invest some three billion dollars in research on a heavy-lift rocket to send crew capsules and supplies into deep space, with the design to be finalized by 2015.

Obama said his plan includes increasing "robotic exploration of the solar system, including a probe of the sun's atmosphere, new scouting missions to Mars and other destinations, and an advanced telescope to follow Hubble."

Obama also pledged the new plan would create some 2,500 jobs along Florida's so-called space coast in the next two years -- aiming to bring new hope to a region blighted by high unemployment.

Critics, including the first man on the moon Neil Armstrong, were upset by Obama's decision earlier this year to scrap the bloated and behind-schedule Constellation program.

The aging US space shuttle fleet, which carries astronauts to the International Space Station, is due to be grounded at the end of the year, leaving US astronauts to hitch rides on Russian spacecraft to orbiting station until a replacement is developed.

"Without the skill and experience that actual spacecraft operation provides, the USA is far too likely to be on a long downhill slide to mediocrity," Armstrong, 79, wrote in a letter co-signed by two other astronauts.

After the speech, leading Republicans went on the attack.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas said Obama's vision for NASA "continues to leave America grounded," and complained that without a shuttle, US space flight options will depend on countries like Russia and China.

The plan "fails to guarantee American leadership in space and the American people and Congress will not settle for it," added Senator John Cornyn, also from Texas.

"President Kennedy opened the door to the new frontier," said another critic, Republican Congressman Rob Bishop, "but Obama has slammed it shut and thrown away the key." Bishop represents a district in the western state of Utah where part of Constellation's Ares I rocket was being made.

Obama however anticipated his critics. "We will actually reach space faster and more often under this new plan in ways that will help us improve our technological capacity and lower our costs," he said.

"Nobody is more committed to manned space flight, to human exploration of space, than I am. But we've got to do it in a smart way."

Some 1.9 billion dollars in Obama's plan would be dedicated to upgrading the Kennedy Space Center, which would also be in charge of NASA's commercial rocket venture.

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User comments : 48

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ThatOneGuy
1.6 / 5 (17) Apr 15, 2010
Too bad he destroyed the Constellation project and killed our chances of developing space craft that could potentially take us there... I'm all for the decommissioning of the Shuttle, but without anything to replace it, we're never going to arrive at another planet.
http://www.msnbc....36470363
Javinator
4 / 5 (13) Apr 15, 2010
I'm pretty sure it was decomissioned so the spending could be reallocated to funding towards other technologies that could actually make it to Mars and back in a reasonable amount of time unlike the space shuttle.
trantor
4.3 / 5 (19) Apr 15, 2010
@ ThatOneGuy: killed the chances of developing spacecraft that could take you to Mars? I am sorry, but its nonsense to believe that stupid chemical rockets can take us out of the atmosphere and to Mars!

Money must be spent on new tech! Cheaper orbit accesss (Skylon? Lightcraft?) and FAST methods to reach other planets, like VASIMR!

Investing in 1960s tech is idiotic...
gunslingor1
3.4 / 5 (11) Apr 15, 2010
"first ever crew missions beyond the moon into deep space"

I hope he's wrong, we dont need to wait that long. I sincerely hope someone else beats us there if we are really going to wait that long.

I mean, Jesus!! We should already have a colony on Mars by now. We sent me to the moon with 1960s technology, and we have come a long way. The fact of the matter is, if it doesn;t have military applications they won't touch it. The moon landing was the beginnings of the cold war. Oh well, money and power always rules over knowledge and self improvement. Maybe in the next 1000 years humans will get their priorities straight.
trantor
4.2 / 5 (5) Apr 15, 2010
of course, nothing against 1960s tech... in fact, I would really like to see someone reviving a specific 1960s technology... ORION PROJECT, nuclear pulse propulsion!
Mayday
2 / 5 (3) Apr 15, 2010
Other nations will, and perhaps are already well on the way, to beating us to these destinations. Even if done under the cloak of secrecy, the technological advancements that precipitate from a full-speed-ahead manned space program will enrich the industrial might and competetive advantage of the victor(s) beyond most any currently imaginable level. And one more detail: the military advantages will be, well, unspeakable. Not jumping into this race with both feet with a concerted commitment to win will be a disaster for the American form of government and what remains of our economic engine.
dsl5000
3.3 / 5 (3) Apr 15, 2010
imo it's commendable to increase the budget of NASA especially at times when our economy is still wobbly.

Though i would agree that it is a shame that constellation programs and such were canceled. But i do believe that what Obama is doing is consolidating our smarty pants together to get more things done (streamline).

It's like the military. How do you expect to conquer if your resources are spread thin?

Though i do wonder what research in global environment would do for us. It may be great to know definitively that us humans are destroying our planet...but if the whole world doesn't support in change, will significant change occur? This is the United States of America not United States of the World. Though it sometimes seems that way when we are giving aid left and right :P
kbexxx
3.8 / 5 (6) Apr 15, 2010
I think its a shame Obama let himself be bullied into restarting the pointless chemical-rocket welfare program, which can never achieve a permanent human presence beyond orbit.

NASA should be focusing on developing advanced propulsion not building old-fashioned super-expensive chemical rockets.
eachus
3.8 / 5 (5) Apr 15, 2010
If you want a real space program, it looks like this:

1) Build a space elevator. That will probably take one or more launches of Obama's proposed heavy launch vehicle. Fine.

2) Build one or more real space ships, these will be crewed vehicles with essentially steady-state life support systems, and bolt on fuel tanks and engines for specific trips. (Assuming high Isp engines such as plasma, or ion engines, fuel determines total delta v, while the number of engines determines how fast the fuel can be used.)

3) For any moon or planet you want to visit, choose between a temporary space elevator, a permanent space elevator, or a shuttle. Lunar elevators can be built through the L1 or L2 Lagrange points, we could build a (highly practical) space elevator today for the moon or Mars, but the technology (carbon nanotubes meters long) necessary for a practical earth space elevator will make those elevators trivial. Mercury and Venus are not candidates for space elevators.
RobotB9
3.3 / 5 (4) Apr 15, 2010
Deeds not words. Write a check, make a law to properly fund NASA. Sure, he talks about creating jobs so why not create NASA jobs?
acmetech
2.5 / 5 (4) Apr 15, 2010
Other nations will, and perhaps are already well on the way, to beating us to these destinations. Even if done under the cloak of secrecy, the technological advancements that precipitate from a full-speed-ahead manned space program will enrich the industrial might and competetive advantage of the victor(s) beyond most any currently imaginable level. And one more detail: the military advantages will be, well, unspeakable. Not jumping into this race with both feet with a concerted commitment to win will be a disaster for the American form of government and what remains of our economic engine.


Can you give just one example of such an "unspeakable" military advantage? And who besides you is so paranoid of such future evil, powerful countries?

Cost-effectiveness is the biggest factor. Eg, the reason a missile defense shield cannot defend against a large attack is because an enemy will be able to build 10 more missiles at the same cost of only one more of our defense missiles.
acmetech
2.6 / 5 (7) Apr 15, 2010
I think its a shame Obama let himself be bullied into restarting the pointless chemical-rocket welfare program, which can never achieve a permanent human presence beyond orbit.

NASA should be focusing on developing advanced propulsion not building old-fashioned super-expensive chemical rockets.


I just don't see how advanced propulsion can help real people on planet earth. 50 years from now when everyone is disease free and not killing each other, maybe. But at the moment there are plenty of problems right here at home to fix that won't cost nearly as much.

How many billions of people are starving, while others are talking about colonizing Mars with only a few people? On the thousands-of-years timescale of human civilization, Mars can wait another dozen years, at least.
acmetech
4 / 5 (4) Apr 15, 2010
Deeds not words. Write a check, make a law to properly fund NASA. Sure, he talks about creating jobs so why not create NASA jobs?


Are NASA jobs somehow better for the economy than other kinds of jobs? Even if that's true, then how about planning even further ahead and making accessability to higher education our priority? China's already producing more engineers than us. That's where we're really falling behind.

It's all about choosing the right priorities, first, which includes reality checks wrt what's the most strategically cost-effective.
HealingMindN
4.3 / 5 (7) Apr 15, 2010
Why do I feel nauceous every time the politicians want to get involved in science? Is there a way we can vote for scientists instead of politicians?
Shootist
4.3 / 5 (8) Apr 15, 2010
@ ThatOneGuy: killed the chances of developing spacecraft that could take you to Mars? I am sorry, but its nonsense to believe that stupid chemical rockets can take us out of the atmosphere and to Mars!

Money must be spent on new tech! Cheaper orbit accesss (Skylon? Lightcraft?) and FAST methods to reach other planets, like VASIMR!

Investing in 1960s tech is idiotic...


Had funding for Apollo continued Saturn Vs would have been used to launch the components of the vehicle that would have gone to Mars . . . in 1986.

There is nothing, not even today, that can match the boost capacity of the F-1s on the Saturn V 1st Stage. If built today with modern weight saving components it would achieve Single Stage to Orbit.

God Bless Wernher Von Braun.
paulthebassguy
3 / 5 (5) Apr 16, 2010
Why do I feel nauceous every time the politicians want to get involved in science? Is there a way we can vote for scientists instead of politicians?


Not unless you get on the board of directors at a reputable University.
philosothink
3.6 / 5 (8) Apr 16, 2010
what the heck is wrong with all of you people... tele-robotics is the only way to inexpensively explore space. Nasa should dump it's entire budge into developing an ROV humanoid robot ... of course, I'm just a stupid hillbilly, what do I know. How much lighter would a ship need to be to haul just a crate full of carbon composite droids into space as opposed to delicate bags of water and the necessary life support for them. Not to mention no need to send anything home but the samples. No crew rotations...

our species wide ego-centric brain functions and delusions of self importance make us "need" to send a man there, and have a hero to welcome home.

Why can't the hero be a nerd at a desk at Kennedy Space Center in Florida instead of some ex fighter jock with a hero complex sitting on top of a really large phallic platform?
la7dfa
2.4 / 5 (5) Apr 16, 2010
Putting humans in orbit around Mars sounds stupid.
The money should be used for robots and not for expensive lifesupport systems. We dont need a couple of guys watching Mars from afar...
ubavontuba
3.7 / 5 (6) Apr 16, 2010
If only they'd find gold or diamonds on the moon or Mars. Each trip could essentially fund much of itself, that way.

Greed has always been the most effective force for expansion and colonization.
probes
2.5 / 5 (4) Apr 16, 2010
Obama is great. Because of what Obama has done, we will have greatly increased funding for research into the VASIMR engine. With a 2MW VASIMR rocket we could get to Mars in 3.9 days! Thanks a lot, Obama.
PS3
1.8 / 5 (5) Apr 16, 2010
Outrageous that the new prez has basically given space to the Russians and Chinese!
Thrasymachus
3.8 / 5 (10) Apr 16, 2010
Obama could find a way to give everybody a 60k+ a year job in the private sector, balance the federal budget and every state and city budget to boot, keep inflation below 1%, cure cancer, solve the fossil fuel energy crisis permanently, expose and eliminate all international and domestic terrorist groups, and single-handedly design and build an FLT craft, and he'd still be a dirty socialist from Kenya to some of you morons.
shockr
3 / 5 (4) Apr 16, 2010

God Bless Wernher Von Braun.


Wasn't he a Nazi? lol
dirk_bruere
3.6 / 5 (5) Apr 16, 2010
We all know that the USA is not going anywhere in space. China will reach GDP equivalence with the USA by 2012 measured by PPP (purchasing power parity). From then on the USA will be falling behind at an ever increasing pace. By the mid 2030s the dominant technological power will be China.
When both NASA and the Chinese said they would put men on the moon around 2020, guess which one people believed?
Shootist
2.2 / 5 (10) Apr 16, 2010

God Bless Wernher Von Braun.


Wasn't he a Nazi? lol


NAZI? Maybe. I don't know. I wasn't there.

But, more importantly, if not for him, we still would not have landed on the moon. All the rockets used today are his "disintegrating totem poles", the shuttle being the furthest derivation from the V2.

And had we followed his roadmap we would have been on Mars in the middle to late 80's.

Obama isn't from Kenya but he is a Marxist, no question about it. And if you don't see it you're either uneducated, lying or a fool. Lotsa useful idiots in the world, I tell you what.
stealthc
1.5 / 5 (10) Apr 16, 2010
Going to mars and the moon=HUGE WASTE OF MONEY
Spend that money on research into fusion power, nanotech or into green energy or something useful. Not going to some rock that isn't going to do anything for you at all (at least it won't do anything right away).

In fact I think this is just a pretext so that obama has an excuse when he makes a bunch more of your tax dollars -- he'll take it to run a police state but say he's spending it on the moon.
antialias
4.6 / 5 (9) Apr 16, 2010
Are NASA jobs somehow better for the economy than other kinds of jobs?

Yes, because what NASA does (especially with a manned program) inspires people. It inspires kids to take up maths, physics, chemistry, ... and that is where the future is. Not in crop subsidies but in the innovation and new products that come from people who are genuinely curious and driven by their dreams.

If you don't fuel the dreams then the US will just be another background country in no time getting bogged down in small things and generally losing all its advantages over time - until all it has left that makes people take notice of it are its nukes.

Oh wait. That's how it is right now, already. Never mind.
DaveGee
4 / 5 (3) Apr 16, 2010
No offense intended but when I was growing up (born before 'Let it Be') NASA inspired millions... Today? I'm not too sure. While I had Armstrong and Glen what do the youth of today have to look up to?

Cold robots and mentally unbalanced Astronaut scandals?
deatopmg
2 / 5 (8) Apr 16, 2010
"President Barack Obama set a bold new course for the future of US space travel when he announced plans to send US astronauts into the orbit of Mars within the next three decades."

What is the benefit of putting people in orbit around Mars??? NONE, unless there is some hidden agenda that we are not privy to. What could that be? ??

Is it better, scientifically, than what we are doing now? NO, unless there is some hidden agenda.

BO's announcement is just more political BS and not unlike Bush's announcement we're going back to the moon. Both were/are pandering to a class of voters.

trekgeek1
4.3 / 5 (6) Apr 16, 2010
Bitch, bitch, bitch. I swear, there is nothing the president could do to make some people happy. He cancels the program- you're mad. He listens to the complaints and reverses his decisions to create a bold new goal for humanity- you're mad. Just stop being angry because he's not a republican.

On a scientific note, we need to merge all of earths space agencies into, after long last, STARFLEET. Seriously, let's stop competing with each other and stop seeing us as U.S. vs. China vs. etc. Let's get humans to mars by combining materials and funding from the entire globe. Let's start acting like a species who is ready to begin space exploration.
LuckyBrandon
3 / 5 (3) Apr 16, 2010
I've always found the constellation program to be a step backward and that to me makes it absolutely useless, and I'm glad they scrapped it personally. In my thinking, if we build something to fly somewhere, make it where it can actually fly somewhere (including within our own atmosphere and other planetary atmospheres as a plane does) as a ship should....those damn lifters really only cover vertical take offs and landings, with only small propulsion for actually moving anywhere...
I'd hate to be in one with a big ass asteroid screaming at me through space and having to wait on some 3" "thruster" to move my butt out of the way...although in space, with no lift, sideways movement on the shuttle is probably similar to a lander...
dtseng123
5 / 5 (4) Apr 16, 2010
The whole calling this liberal, that republican is getting old. What happened to being an American first and political parties second? I completely agree with you Antialias. Our nation needs to put our differences aside and focus on our future. Space and War are the two things that usher in unprecedented advances in technology. I prefer space to war.
Thrasymachus
4 / 5 (4) Apr 16, 2010
Universal human cooperation to explore and colonize space? Have you been paying attention to the comments here? If people cooperating with each other through their government to affect market reform in the finance of health care is somehow Marxist, then governments cooperating with one another to open up brand new economic markets and opportunities in the last frontier has got to be some kind of hyperMarxist, police-state Armageddon scenario.
pauljpease
3.8 / 5 (5) Apr 16, 2010
I'm kind of skeptical of the belief that sending people into space inspires kids to study math and science. Maybe some other teachers out there could back me up, but what subject a student enjoys depends largely on personality and ability. Being excited about space doesn't make you good at math or science. Most people don't know very much about psychology or behavioral genetics, it's a lot more complicated than providing role models. That being said, providing high paying jobs in any field is guaranteed to attract people, whether they have superior abilities or not, to that field. So funding science will lead to more people studying math and science. Big paychecks for worthless investment bankers tends to motivate people to study business. Scientists have poor job prospects/earning potential in the U.S. Improve those and you'll increase student's interest in those fields. Of course, there isn't an unlimited supply of people with mathematical and scientific ability...
GDM
5 / 5 (1) Apr 17, 2010
Regarding the Constellation: even if it could be delivered TODAY, on budget, and ready to fly...it would be cancelled. Why? Because it costs twice as much to fly as did the shuttle, and also because it's lifting capacity is less than the shuttle. Why throw good money after bad?
Regarding the asteroids: They are TREASURE troves! Diamonds? Gold? Nah, WATER, iron, platimun group materials and basic regolith that can be turned into...CEMENT! Think about it (and also check out NASA's own studies for the last decade). Water delivered from the Earth costs USD $10,000 per pound (about a pint), but about $1 from a near-Earth asteroid/comet. Also, on Earth, we are rapidly running out of platinum-group metals, which are in abundance in many asteroids. Check out 4Frontiers on the web for additional information. CEMENT?! am I crazy? Nah, cement can and should be used to build space vessels. It offers strong protection from micrometeroids and radiation. ...more later...
pubwvj
1.8 / 5 (5) Apr 17, 2010
Obama will go down in history for killing space exploration by the United States of America. With that we will lose our technological edge and our best minds. The brain drain is happening.
dsl5000
5 / 5 (2) Apr 17, 2010
How can u attribute Obama to Brain drain? It has been occurring at both State and Individual level. The State is cutting funds left and right. The individuals are blinded by video games that waste time.

On top of all that, college tuition has been on the rise. How do we expect higher education when schools are operating like businesses (for profit).

I can't believe some people would consider space exploration a waste. Space exploration will give us many opportunities. I.E.: How our bodies function in zero gravity; Collect materials outside of earth; research of the cosmos when clouds aren't in the way; provide more effective solar power or thermal power; thinking out of the box and outside of earth boundaries.
Skepticus
3 / 5 (2) Apr 17, 2010
Can you give just one example of such an "unspeakable" military advantage? And who besides you is so paranoid of such future evil, powerful countries?


@acmetech,

I can think of one, by the way, it's Robert A. Heinlein's idea in his book "the Moon is a harsh Mistress". Basically you can use mass drivers built on the Moon and lobe big rocks anywhere on Earth if wished. The low gravity of the Moon and no atmosphere will make it so much easier and cheap. You only need a minimum amount of metal around your rocks to get propelled by the mass driver, and perhaps some ablative shielding to get them through the Earth atmosphere at Mach 25+. (The gain in speed is free, since the rocks are falling into the earth's gravity well). At that sort of speed and the kinetic energy that comes with it, who needs nuclear weapons? Every billions-dollars-each missile launched from Earth or LEO will be countered by hundreds of cheap rocks. Can you see how one-sided the fight would be?
otto1923
5 / 5 (3) Apr 17, 2010
Why can't the hero be a nerd at a desk at Kennedy Space Center in Florida instead of some ex fighter jock with a hero complex sitting on top of a really large phallic platform?
how droll. Skepticus is right and militarily, Obama wants to take the high ground ie the asteroid belt. Traveling to mars is good practice for gravity-boost missions farther out and above the planetary plane, if nothing else. A well-aimed rogue would erase a hostile moon base.

But more importantly, the imperatives are: protecting the planet from impacts and establishing self-sustaining colonies elsewhere, because the species is vulnerable to extinction where it is. The quicker we can get to mars and stay there the better. In 12 years there will only be that many more starving people; there will always be starving people until we can destroy the obsolete cultures which result in them. Obamas plan is a good thing.
Skepticus
2 / 5 (2) Apr 18, 2010
...Obama wants to take the high ground ie the asteroid belt. Traveling to mars is good practice for gravity-boost missions farther out and above the planetary plane, if nothing else. A well-aimed rogue would erase a hostile moon base...


Very interesting. I haven't thought of the outer orbits as higher ground than the Moon. It seems the Obama's administration is not sleeping after all. If someone put hostile bases on the Moon, they theoretically can be neutralized by the higher ground from the asteroids (belt). The problems are, the only readily available asteroids are from The Belt beyond Mars's orbit. The response times will be a bitch to arrange for speedily counter to hostile Moon launches.It would be doable if we are one steps ahead of any hostile forces(set the program up quickly!) and marshal lots of rocks into Eath-Moon-approaching orbits, or Luna's orbits ready to go. However, they will require stealth tech shields covering them to avoid detection.
otto1923
4.7 / 5 (3) Apr 18, 2010
There are plenty of miscellaneous rocks roaming about. We will begin to move them about first to protect the planets, then to harvest them. At present we have forces stationed off the coasts and at the borders of hostile nations; asteroids can be staged in orbits which can present the same obvious kind of response threat. It took the US some months to prepare the Iraq invasions; layered orbits could provide a measured potential.
LuckyBrandon
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 19, 2010
Obama will go down in history for killing space exploration by the United States of America. With that we will lose our technological edge and our best minds. The brain drain is happening.


Not really. He killed some minor things to put forth out l,anding on an asteroid by 2015 and be in mars orbit by 2030. The goal of halting current projects is to refocus NASA on building long range vessels and projects with the future goals in mind. This is actually much more ambicious then the plans that were scrapped.
If we actually land on an asteroid in 2015, he will go down in history as being commended for the change....
baudrunner
3 / 5 (2) Apr 19, 2010
Apollo used computers that were primitive by today's standards. The cheapest calculators today have more computing power by far. Considering the technological leaps between 1970 and 2000, we should be making some giant strides between now and 2030 too. That is why I think that by then we will be quite capable of constructing a basic Mars colony as the goal of the first manned Mars mission. Why go all out first time? Because a simple Mars orbiting and return mission is a waste of resources and a threat to the health of the atronauts, whoc will be continuously exposed to the hostile elements of space.

The argument that we need to see if we can do it is redundant. We obviously can.
jselin
2 / 5 (2) Apr 19, 2010
I can think of one, by the way, it's Robert A. Heinlein's idea in his book "the Moon is a harsh Mistress". Basically you can use mass drivers built on the Moon and lobe big rocks anywhere on Earth if wished. The low gravity of the Moon and no atmosphere will make it so much easier and cheap. You only need a minimum amount of metal around your rocks to get propelled by the mass driver, and perhaps some ablative shielding to get them through the Earth atmosphere at Mach 25+. (The gain in speed is free, since the rocks are falling into the earth's gravity well). At that sort of speed and the kinetic energy that comes with it, who needs nuclear weapons? Every billions-dollars-each missile launched from Earth or LEO will be countered by hundreds of cheap rocks. Can you see how one-sided the fight would be?


There is no free gain. Not only to do have to escape the moon you have to deorbit the rocks!
GDM
not rated yet Apr 19, 2010
Skepticus: NASA has identified many Earth-crossing asteroids and comets. The Atira class orbit entirely within the orbit of the Earth. The Aten class orbits cross Earth's orbit at their "highest" orbits (and slowest speeds) and are between Earth and the Sun. The Apollo class orbits cross Earth's orbit at their "lowest" orbit (and highest speeds), and can extend quite far out towards Jupiter and beyond. The Amor class orbit betwwen Mars and Earth, crossing Earth's orbit also at their highest speed. Not exactly scientific literacy, but I hope you get my drift.
Skepticus
5 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2010
Skepticus: NASA has identified many Earth-crossing asteroids and comets. The Atira class orbit entirely within the orbit of the Earth. The Aten class orbits cross Earth's orbit at their "highest" orbits (and slowest speeds) and are between Earth and the Sun. The Apollo class orbits cross Earth's orbit at their "lowest" orbit (and highest speeds), and can extend quite far out towards Jupiter and beyond. The Amor class orbit betwwen Mars and Earth, crossing Earth's orbit also at their highest speed. Not exactly scientific literacy, but I hope you get my drift.


Good, the cards are in place, all you needed are the players.:-)
GDM
not rated yet Apr 20, 2010
There are thousands of willing participants, and tens of thousands of symnpathetic people, willing to assist or simply cheer us on. I refer, as an example, about 10-15 years ago when NASA had an open house in Mountain View, CA. They expected, and planned for about 10-15,000 people. Around 250,000 showed up, clogging the highways, parking lots and overwhelming the facilities. It took me about 2 hours just to get out. Oh, and it just happend that the temperature that day reached the 90's (F) and it was nearly impossible to buy water. It was a near disaster, all caused by people sympathetic to NASA and space exploration. Imagine all those people unitied toward a commercial effort to mine (and tame) potentially hazardous asteroids.
Skepticus_Rex
1 / 5 (3) Apr 28, 2010
Obama is great. Because of what Obama has done, we will have greatly increased funding for research into the VASIMR engine. With a 2MW VASIMR rocket we could get to Mars in 3.9 days! Thanks a lot, Obama.


That is a load of crap. Try 39 days--maybe.

And, one other thing: How are we going to get astronauts onto that VASIMIR powered vahicle? VASIMIR-based ships cannot leave the surface of the earth. Without a functional space elevator we are stuck with chemical rocket or related technology just to get astronauts into LEO where they can dock with such a VASIMIR-based vehicle. Cutting a program that gets us into space is a ridiculous waste of already-spent moneys. It's either that or we hitch rides from other space-faring nations for a fee. :)