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Unread 09-03-2003, 02:08 PM
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The New NASA

The recent investigation into the tragedy of the Space Shuttle Columbia has called for a total revamping of the national space program. As FIRSTers, many of us will become part of that new, evolved NASA. My question is this, based on what you have observed as on outsider (or an insider for those around here who have worked in NASA), where do you see our nation's space program heading in, both in the near future (next few years) and the in the longer term (next decade or so)? Do you foresee continued development of the ISS, new space vehicles, or further exploration of Mars and our other neighboring celestial bodies (other planets, our moon, their moons)? What are your thoughts?
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Unread 09-03-2003, 08:32 PM
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I forsee that the ISS program will stay strong. That within a few short years the crew will be expanded. Nodes will continue to be added, and the station will continue to be built up and used throughout at least the next 30 years (by that time the technology will have become absolete and a new station program would have already been started... and completed enough to start sending up a new one)

I read today that they have begun a program to build a different kind of shuttle to carry four people to and from the station. This is to be completed in 2008.

At this rate, I think we all would be very lucky to witness a human step foot on Mars in our lifetime. The only thing that would provoke the government to spend that kind of money would be have some competition by the Chinese (who will have a presence in space very soon, it's not only USA and Russia anymore)

Now, it is a possibility that we will go back to the moon. But with all the safety percautions of today... it would take approx 20 years from when the program began to the first lunar landing.

So if they started planning now... all of us would be of the right age, so maybe one of us will be chosen to take the trip!
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Unread 09-03-2003, 08:53 PM
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Some speakers about NASA and the space program were here at school and they are working on a new orbital plane. I think that after they make that, and get more funding, it would be great to see them do more exploratory missions.
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Unread 09-04-2003, 12:59 AM
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They have been working on a replacement for the Space Shuttle for years, and I have the back issues of Pop Sci to prove it.

That said, for programs of this size, 10 years is not longterm.

I forsee more research and work on the ISS. Maybe they will even finnish it one of these days. I have a poster on my wall with the build schedule from 1998. It projected it to be done about now, but it is at about mid 2001 on the schedule.

We will not send a human to Mars within 15 years, there is not the will. We could if we wanted to, but we don't.

A much bigger emphasis on human safety and equipment maintence.

I think the contracting process will change drasticly, with the contractors either being absorbed back into NASA, or new more detailed oversight. Absorbtion of most is what I am leaning towards.

Shuttle flights will resume within a year.

New procedures to replace outdated technology. (Like the old crappy cameras watching the launch)

Personel empowerment type stuff. More discussion of anyones questions. Mayhaps even a public/access controlled board where questions could be placed and academics around the world could share their thoughts with the NASA enginners.


Faster better cheaper. You can not do all three well, at least one has to give. You can do it faster for less, but the quailty will drop. I forsee faster getting the shaft.

Of course I will be way off in 10 years.
Thats the way technology predictions work.
They don't.


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Unread 09-04-2003, 04:25 PM
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Quote:
Now, it is a possibility that we will go back to the moon. But with all the safety percautions of today... it would take approx 20 years from when the program began to the first lunar landing.
Errr I know I may sound sarcastic but if there were so many safety precations then why did the space shuttle blow up in the first place. From a television show I saw it seems like Nasa experienced the same mentality that happened when the Apollo-1 disaster struck.
Quote:
They have been working on a replacement for the Space Shuttle for years, and I have the back issues of Pop Sci to prove it.
They were is the appropriate term. That replacement shuttle was scraped for budget reasons and actually if I remeber was only designed as an escape pod from the ISS. If you watch Transformers one of the minicons that forms the starsaber is actually modeled after it.
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I forsee more research and work on the ISS. Maybe they will even finnish it one of these days. I have a poster on my wall with the build schedule from 1998. It projected it to be done about now, but it is at about mid 2001 on the schedule.
The ISS was started during the Regan years.
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Unread 09-04-2003, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Wetzel
They have been working on a replacement for the Space Shuttle for years, and I have the back issues of Pop Sci to prove it.
i know they have been, its just been reenamed the orbital space plane (osp) project so it might show some new direction for the program.
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Unread 09-04-2003, 05:51 PM
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Question I Want To Hear from Current NASA Folks

If there are any people currently involved with NASA, I am very interested in hearing your opinions. If any of you are reading this, please jump in.
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Unread 09-05-2003, 12:03 AM
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Honestly, with everything going on today in America (War on Terror for one thing) I doubt the current or future presidents are going to give NASA the funding they need to 'revamp' and make a new kind of NASA. This means more tragedies are bound to happen... but like many other people, I myself would step onto a space shuttle tomorrow if they would let me

That being said, I believe business will start to push more toward space then NASA in the near future. Satellites are probably the biggest thing they do in space right now, but imagine if factories could be built in space? Suddenly weight is not so much of an energy issue as it is on earth. Or heaven forbid we find a rare and useful material on a planet or an asteroid... we could possibly see another 'gold' rush in our lifetime
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Unread 09-05-2003, 03:48 AM
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I think NASA will continue to putter along at its current pace. It seems that pretty much after the moon landing NASA started to loose momentum. The public in general doesn't seem to care much about the program and that genrally the problem. Except for a quick burst of suuport when the first Mars rover landed NASA hasn't had any overwhelming public support. Its not a problem with NASA its just common folks don't care about Ant Colonies in micro-gravity.

I think if the US gets some competition then the people will get involved again. Early next year when the 3 probes start to land on Mars NASA will get some public support. People may be dissapointed when Europe gets there first but once are 2 Rovers start driving circles around Europe's lander the public will booster support for NASA, at least for a while.

Every now and again I here about China trying to get into space. The only problem is there rockets aren't very reliable. My estimate is that they could get a man on the moon in about 4 years. However if they start getting close I think people may start to push NASA to go back to the moon, if for no other reason than to make sure the flag we placed there 34 years ago is still waving.

Basically I think NASA future depends on competition. If other countries start to do things in space, the public will encourage NASA to do them better, just for the sake of showing whos better.
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Unread 09-05-2003, 07:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Adam Y.
Errr I know I may sound sarcastic but if there were so many safety precations then why did the space shuttle blow up in the first place. From a television show I saw it seems like Nasa experienced the same mentality that happened when the Apollo-1 disaster struck.
The Apollo program started 40 years ago. Since then, tragedies have occured and lessons have been learned. As you may have noticed, the same tragic problem has not occured twice.

Today, we would not go to back to the moon the same way we did in the Apollo days. It was just too unsafe and too risky. If you watched the show on the history channel "Failure is not an Option," it told you that missions 11, 12, + 13 all had catastrophic failures. However, they all were fixed because of the brilliant people at mission control, and a lot of luck.

I am typing this post on my last day as an intern with the EMU program at Hamilton Sundstrand. I have been going through Engineering Changes for the Space Suit all summer. Trust me, with the lessons learned in the past, and the engineering of today, absolutely no part, design aspect, method of assembly, production, handling, packaging... everything is checked over and over again.

I even had to go through a 13 page report about changing the paint used to label a part!

There is a mentality to be as safe as possible. Why wouldn't they do their best to prevent loosing billions of dollars to a $1000 fix?

That's right... they do their best. But they're only human. And sometimes, it's just communication that's the problem. (But new procedures and being developed all the time)

People knew that Columbia was in danger because of the tile hitting the wing, but the word just never go through. Also, that issue has never come up before in the past twenty years of flight, and Analysis showed that it would still safe to land.

Engineers were calling the White House to stop the Challenger from taking off. But once again... nobody was there to hear it.

NASA is getting older, and many of the old-timers agree "the youth are very talented, but they lack leadership."

Maybe the problem is that as the pioneer engineers start retiring and younger people are brought in to take their place, these new people just don't understand the full picture of everything that could go wrong.

Here, the guy who sits next to me was responsible for getting the Apollo 13 guys home. He was the figurehead for developing the procedure and analysis for the device they had to build to scrub CO2 from the LM (round tube in a square hole).

NASA is getting safer by the day. They want to explore space as "risk free" as possible. But, they are also doing something that nobody has done before. So they can only presume what could go wrong... it's hard to tell what WOULD go wrong.

To solve the tile problem, they are adding a third long Boom Arm with a camera in the cargo bay so astronauts can look at the underside of the shuttle and check for tile damage. If any damage has been done, an EVA will be planned to go out and fix it.

Loosing Columbia is a tragic loss. Had word got out about the tile damage, it would have been possible to plan a rescue mission using shuttle Atlantis. It's sad to think of all the good PR NASA would have gotten if the rescue had worked (Similar to the sudden public interest in Apollo 13).

But once again, a lesson has been learned and NASA will continue to grow safer.

p.s. I think funding will stay the same if not increase over the years.
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Unread 09-05-2003, 01:15 PM
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Erin has some very wise words of wisdom. There are many people here at Hamilton that are/were very integral to space programs. Safety is their number one concern. NASA isn't concerned about losing money, though. They are concerned much more about losing lives. All tragedies in space are considered tragedies because people lost their lives. The last thing NASA has to worry about is money.

I was lucky enough to spend 2 months working at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland back in 2001 (I was there for 9/11). I was donig a project with 2 other classmates that involved rigorous study of the ISS. At that time, Russia was pulling out funding. I'm not so sure you can call technology out in space that obsolete. The fastest processors in space are 486 chips. There are no pentium processors in space. They are considered too unstable, not to mention more expensize, and there's nothing you can't do with a whole bunch of 486 processors. Also, the ISS is designed to last many many years. It is modular and anyhint that would go out in space after it is completed would just be attached to it. NASA wouldn't waste trillions of dollars just to replace something when they can add to it.

The ISS has changed a lot from when the idea was first conceived. All countries involved have gone through budget crises in one way or another. The ISS will look nothing like it was supposed to.

I think I have rambled on quite long enough.
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Unread 09-05-2003, 03:41 PM
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Its not a problem with NASA its just common folks don't care about Ant Colonies in micro-gravity.
I think it is that attitude that is really giving NASA the cold shoulder. Lots of technologies we use everyday have been created from the space program. I just read a very interesting article about how NASA was thinking about new ways to use the liquid CO2 solvent besides from getting rid of caffeine from coffee beans. Even certain medications can only be created from space. I do admit there are certain projects of NASA that I am as giddy as a school girl for. The brand new telescopes are supposed to be able to see much more detail than Hubble. If they actually discover some planet that resembles earth it would be a huge discovery.
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Unread 09-05-2003, 11:12 PM
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Re: I Want To Hear from Current NASA Folks

Quote:
Originally posted by Nick Seidl
If there are any people currently involved with NASA, I am very interested in hearing your opinions. If any of you are reading this, please jump in.
NASA Watch is an independent "watchdog" web site for news and discussion about NASA stuff. There is a thread that contains many of the comment and replies from NASA insiders and interested observers about the CAIB report. Rather than replicate their comments here, you can go there to check out their comments.

-dave

p.s. a very small nit, not to detract from the topic of this thread:
Quote:
Originally posted by Anthony Towne
The fastest processors in space are 486 chips. There are no pentium processors in space. They are considered too unstable, not to mention more expensive, and there's nothing you can't do with a whole bunch of 486 processors.
The processors included in the baseline ISS configuration as "infrastructure processors" are space-qualified versions of the 486 chips. However, they are not the fastest processors in space. Missions like Mars Pathfinder and the current Mars Exploration Rovers project fly RAD6000 processors, which are space-qualified (radiation hardened) versions of the IBM RISC 6000 processor. Space Shuttle and ISS crews frequently take nearly-off-the-shelf laptop computers with PowerPC and Pentium processors aboard with them. Apple G4s and even Airport wireless base stations have flown (see the Apple report here). Pentium ThinkPads are used regularly on ISS (see the story from PCMike, but you will have to overlook the fact that Mike is a twit that doesn't know the difference between a Saturn V moon rocket and the Space Shuttle...). Depending on the application and the operational environment, the hardened versions may run at a slower clock speed than the "terrestrial version." But the 486 no longer defines the upper limit of space borne processors.
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Unread 09-05-2003, 11:27 PM
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I understand your points. I just conveyed what I wanted to say wrong. Laptops are used, but I was referring to the processors that are hardwired into the ISS to run computers there (permanent). My apologies.
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