Should NASA Have Retired Shuttles?

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by 2takesfrakes, May 19, 2014.

  1. Yanks

    Yanks Commodore Commodore

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    While we are on the topic of space etc... I'd just like to submit the next project that should be undertaken...

    We need a frelling garbage scow up there. Something that can be remotely piloted and it's sole purpose is collecting space debris.

    The whenn the thing is full, point it towards the sun and let'er go.

    Too damn much crap floating in orbit up there.
     
  2. Squiggy

    Squiggy FrozenToad Admiral

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    There were plenty of ideas, but no money to get any of those ideas past the planning stages. NASA's budget is only 16 billion dollars, or a .25% of the entire federal budget.

    Most people just assume NASA has all the money they want but outside of a few Florida congressmen, Congress just doesn't care.
     
  3. Brolan

    Brolan Commodore Commodore

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    This might be a good thing, if the dispute with Russia gets congress to better fund our next manned system (whatever that is) as a sort of "up yours" to Russia.
     
  4. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ^I'd prefer if some private enterpriser did it for reasons other than transient political grandstanding. Being goaded into massive projects is not rational. But then angry people don't think clearly.
     
  5. Yminale

    Yminale Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The US space program exists because of political grandstanding.
     
  6. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ^ Exactly. And what has it amounted to, other than a few brief reconnaissance raids to the Moon? Please don't use the spin-off argument about non-stick frying pans and smartphones. We could have had those things without sending people 400,000 km away.

    The people with the same mindset today advocate a direct jump to Mars with no other prep, and for what? Flag planting? At least the private enterprisers aiming at Mars want to achieve a permanent presence there.
     
  7. FPAlpha

    FPAlpha Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Basic human curiosity? Without goals that push our limits we wouldn't be where we are.

    Our economy system is designed in a way that huge costs always require a guaranteed payoff ( or at least calculable risk/potential situation). With space travel that was not guaranteed in the 40s and 50s when it was all set into motion because it was a new technology with many flaws and uncertainties.

    So it fell to the nations and their national organizations to make the first steps which were also fueled by the political climate back then that led to them spending huge amounts of money to be the first to plant a flag somewhere and declare supremacy.

    However even after several decades the running costs were still enormous. I seem to remember that the whole process of launching and retrieving a shuttle was a billion dollars just for putting a new satellite in orbit, repairing one or resupplying the ISS.
    Today technology is abloe to reduce costs significantly and private enterprises have entered the market to compete and make profit which is possible today.

    All this is only possible because nations took the financial hit for a low return (and i doubt the return was low but you casually dismiss the benefits which are not confined to Teflon or smartphones) for political reasons and because people said "I want to do this because no one has yet! I want to know what's there!"

    I don't want to step on your toes but your attitude is a prime example of short sightedness which, if given free reign, could doom us as civilization because we would become content with how we are and wouldn't strive to learn and experience more and if history has shown us anything that stays still is ultimately doomed to fail.

    It's also ironic you post something like this on a Star Trek board, a show which central theme is to boldly go where no one has gone before. ;)
     
  8. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'm not saying that urge to "boldly go" should not be fed, but it had nothing to do with the "space race" of the '50s and '60s. That's why the whole build up of infrastructure—the space ferry, a station, and then the Moon—was completely bypassed. The only reason Skylab happened at all is because Apollo was cut short and NASA still had a spare Saturn V on hand.

    I'm not sneering at those frying pans and smartphones, either. Military tech has been responsible for many "spin-off" benefits throughout history. But those spin-offs are not the urge to explore, either.

    You'll also note that my comment about political grandstanding was in reply to someone else suggesting we "stick it to the Russians." How does that follow the example set by STAR TREK? The Prime Directive: sticking it to the other guy. Us vs. Them.

    As for irony? I'll give you irony. Much of 20th century physics was given to wild fantasies supported only by Pythagorean notions of mathematics. Most TREK fans seem to eat it up—black holes, worm holes, time travel and all other manner of techno-babble. These same fans will staunchly defend Einstein on one hand, yet blithely accept FTL (with, or without space-warping drives) on the other. But if some "alternative" approach to cracking the mysteries we still face is proposed—no matter how radical or conservative—many sci-fi (fantasy) fans are the first to dig in their heels and defend the party line.
     
  9. Scroogourner

    Scroogourner Admiral Admiral

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    That's because sci/fi fans get how science works.
     
  10. bryce

    bryce Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Either way, we needed the have a suitable replacement before the shuttle was scrapped - maybe something along the lines of the *original* "lifting body" shuttle design.

    On the upside - and the Russian threat to stop carrying astronauts to the ISS by 2020 (or course who know what the political climate will me by then - ideally, by some miracle Putin would be replaced by a more progressive leader..but I don't see that happening short of assassination - or an early death by Putin...and he is fit as an OX.)

    This new NASA Orion system - if it's ever build and not axed when the Reps take both houses in the next election - has advantages...and can do a lot that the shuttle couldn't...built at the same time...there is a lot the shuttle could do that these vehicles *can't* - like build something like the ISS - or service something like the Hubble.

    In my dreams, but NASA and the private sector would have a fleet of different vehicles for different purposes. But I don't see the money of the willpower being there from the US gov...so it's up to the private sector to save space travel...and maybe that is how it should be...
     
  11. bryce

    bryce Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Also, there is a LOT of potential for graphene - or a graphene and maybe a spun graphene and artificial spider-silk composite or weave - to be the basis for the long dreamed about space elevator. FINALLY.[/URL]

    "Graphene - The New Wonder Material?" Science Friday.

    Of course graphene is electrically conductive, so it would generate tremendous electrical currents while being pulled through the Earth's magnetic field...and that was a BIG PROBLEM for that last time NASA tried a cable experiment (electricl build-up caused the cable to snap - it was visible from Earth for a while back in 1996 - but I never saw it.) But maybe in the near future perhaps these effects can somehow be mitigated - or the electricity siphoned off and even harnessed to *power* the elevator!!! (OR maybe by mixing in electrically neutral - but equally strong and flexible - artificial spider's silk - they could insulate against the current? (I am just enamored with the idea of a cable that uses *both* graphene and/or carbon nano-tubes - because I think it would get the best of both materials...)
     
  12. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Thanks, Sojourner. I needed a good laugh tonight.
     
  13. Scroogourner

    Scroogourner Admiral Admiral

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    Well, you wanted to know why fans can understand the difference between science fact and science fiction. Maybe it's because they've been exposed to enough of the fiction to recognize it when they see it.
     
  14. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That's what probes are for.

    And throughout history those goals have almost always been the quest for new resources, new consumables, new lands to claim and new sources of wealth. It has to remembered that the Voyage of Columbus wasn't launched because anyone was curious about the New World, it was launched because Europe needed a more efficient trade route to India.

    And will remain so until the demand for launch services significantly increases to the point that launch providers can benefit from an economy of scale. SpaceX, IMO, is already pre-positioning itself for this potential rocket boom, especially if/when they get the Falcon 9R operational.

    The thing is, the national space programs never accomplished anything concrete in space. Lots of research and high-profile launches, yes, but not much that positively contributed to the technology or the engineering. Most of those gains actually came from government participation in the space INDUSTRY.

    And yes, there is and has always been a space industry ever since the first communication satellites were launched. Each of those satellites is basically a privately-owned spacecraft, and each one of them had to be launched into orbit on a rocket that was paid for by private capital. This is overlooked PURELY because all of those satellites are unmanned, but the fact is industry has been active in space to a far greater degree than governments have.

    Manned spaceflight is the hobby of governments only because it has never been profitable: since nobody lives in space, nobody's doing business up there, and since nobody's doing business up there, nobody lives there. It's a catch-22. The simple way OUT of that Catch-22 is to give a substantial number of people an excuse (even a flimsy pretense) to live there, and then help them find something profitable to do once they're up there. The current effort with COTS and ccdev aims to use the ISS for this purpose: an orbital science lab is an ideal customer for commercial crew transport and commercial launch services.
     
  15. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    But we DON'T understand the difference.

    That, more than anything else, explains the high popularity of CSI and Michio Kaku and is the SINGLE motivator in Voyager fandom.

    Except that, once again, most of the fiction they're exposed to is PRESENTED as fact. Without any way to know better, they uncritically accept it as fact and then pat themselves on the back for being smarter than the average TV viewer.
     
  16. Scroogourner

    Scroogourner Admiral Admiral

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    I don't actually know any sci/fi fans that like Michio Kaku or CSI. And I'm not sure how liking those things precludes someone from telling fact from fiction.

    And yet, according to Metryq, most sci/fi fans aren't open to electric universe theories, which would seem to indicate that they can tell fact from fiction to some degree.
     
  17. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Somewhat more significantly, I do not know of anyone who regularly watches Michio Kaku documentaries who ISN'T a sc-fi fan. This is not as true of CSI, but it depends on which spinoff you're watching.

    Because both of those productions present entirely ficticious scientific concepts as if they were factual. In Kaku's case, explicitly.

    That's ENTIRELY because Electric Universe theories aren't widely represented in science-fiction productions. Sci-fi writers tend to mimic (and grossly inaccurately at that) the leading scientific theories of their era.

    For example, the increasingly common appearance in Star Trek Voyager and Enterprise of "dark matter." Science fiction helped to normalize dark matter into what is nominally "science fact" despite the fact that its existence is FAR from proven. As a result, the same science-fiction fans who grew up with "dark matter nebulas" as if that was a coherent scientific concept are willing to accept weekly press releases of "dark matter rings" being discovered all over the universe.

    Science fiction fans are actually handicapped in this regard: they're used to thinking of physicists as experts, wizards or engineers who are smart enough that their best guesses are usually correct. All expertise aside, a physicists knowledge of the universe is no more accurate than a doctor's knowledge of your medical conditions, with one crucial difference: it is much simpler to get a second opinion on a medical diagnosis than a physics theory.
     
  18. Squiggy

    Squiggy FrozenToad Admiral

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    Perhaps...but that's in some alternate universe where technology is 10-20 years behind ours.

    Now if you will excuse me, my wife needs to make a phone call and since we don't own an expensive cellular phone nor cable internet...I have to log off.

    Goodbye.
     
  19. Scroogourner

    Scroogourner Admiral Admiral

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    But are they only watching for the LOL's?

    Or maybe it's because Electric Universe theories don't get much support from real physicists.

    I'm not even sure wtf we're arguing for. Unless you agree with Metryq?
     
  20. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    While I am a proponent of Electric Universe/Plasma Cosmology, I do not imagine it to explain everything. Even if I am not swayed by the arguments for some alternative model (and I read about many), I learn the weaknesses in mainstream theories in the process. For example, every textbook I've seen claims that the famous Michelson-Morley experiment found no indication at all for an aether, which is wrong. Some fringing was found, just "not enough." (I've read numerous treatments on that.)

    And how many sci-fi fans know that black holes are not mathematically compatible with the Big Bang—or that, mathematically, only one can exist in a universe with nothing else in it? Yet astrophysicists claim they are everywhere. Black holes started out swallowing everything and now spew out all kinds of things.

    Almost daily we see headlines stating that "astronomers are baffled" and researchers are quoted as saying "we will have to rethink our 'understanding' of X."

    Yet sci-fi fans can tell fact from fiction.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2014