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posted by CoolHand on Monday April 17 2017, @04:17PM   Printer-friendly
from the future-vision dept.

http://www.space.com/36270-nasa-deep-space-gateway-moon-orbit.html

It looks like NASA's stepping-stone to Mars will be a miniature space station in lunar orbit rather than a chunk of captured asteroid.

The agency plans to build an astronaut-tended "deep space gateway" in orbit around the moon during the first few missions of the Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket and Orion crew capsule, which are scheduled to fly together for the first time in late 2018, NASA officials said.

"I envision different partners, both international and commercial, contributing to the gateway and using it in a variety of ways with a system that can move to different orbits to enable a variety of missions," William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C, said in a statement. [Red Planet or Bust: 5 Crewed Mars Mission Ideas]

"The gateway could move to support robotic or partner missions to the surface of the moon, or to a high lunar orbit to support missions departing from the gateway to other destinations in the solar system," Gerstenmaier added.

One of those "other destinations" is Mars. NASA is working to get astronauts to the vicinity of the Red Planet sometime in the 2030s, as directed by former President Barack Obama in 2010. For the last few years, the agency's envisioned "Journey to Mars" campaign has included the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), an effort to pluck a boulder from a near-Earth asteroid and drag the rock to lunar orbit, where it could be visited by astronauts aboard Orion.

But ARM's future looks bleak; President Donald Trump provided no money for the mission in his proposed 2018 federal budget, which the White House released earlier this month.

Also see:

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/deep-space-gateway-to-open-opportunities-for-distant-destinations

http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/a25872/nasa-cis-lunar-orbit/

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/tdm/sep/index.html


Original Submission

Related Stories

Lockheed Martin Repurposing Shuttle Cargo Module to Use for Lunar Orbiting Base 28 comments

Let's just throw this old thing at the Moon and call it a day:

A cargo container that was built to fly on NASA's space shuttles is being repurposed as a prototype for a deep space habitat.

Lockheed Martin announced it will refurbish the Donatello multi-purpose logistics module (MLPM), transforming from it from its original, unrealized role as a supply conveyor for the International Space Station to a test and training model of a living area for astronauts working beyond Earth orbit. The work is being done under a public-private partnership between the aerospace corporation and NASA.

"We are excited to work with NASA to repurpose a historic piece of flight hardware," said Bill Pratt, Lockheed Martin's program manager for the deep space habitat contract, in a statement.

Donatello was one of three MPLMs that was designed to fly in the space shuttle payload bay to transfer cargo to the station. Built by the Italian Space Agency under a contract with NASA, two modules, Leonardo and Raffaello, flew on 12 shuttle missions between 2001 and 2011.

Also at Popular Mechanics.

Previously: NASA and International Partners Planning Orbital Lunar Outpost
NASA Eyeing Mini Space Station in Lunar Orbit as Stepping Stone to Mars

Related: Moon Base Could Cost Just $10 Billion Due to New Technologies
Should We Skip Mars for Now and Go to the Moon Again?
Cislunar 1000 Vision - Commercializing Space
Forget Mars, Colonize Titan
Japan Planning to Put a Man on the Moon Around 2030


Original Submission

NASA and Roscosmos Sign Joint Statement on the Development of a Lunar Space Station 14 comments

The U.S. and Russia will work together to develop a space station orbiting the Moon. Canada, Japan, and the ESA have also expressed interest in the project:

At this year's International Astronautical Congress, NASA and Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, signed a joint statement expressing their intent to work collaboratively toward the development of a space station further out from Earth, orbiting the Moon, as a staging point for both lunar surface exploration and deeper space science.

This is part of NASA's expressed desire to explore and develop its so-called "deep space gateway" concept, which it intends to be a strategic base from which to expand the range and capabilities of human space exploration. NASA wants to get humans out into space beyond the Moon, in other words, and the gateway concept would establish an orbital space station in the vicinity of the Moon to help make this a more practical possibility.

Let's hope that the station, if built, becomes a refueling station that can store and distribute fuel produced on the Moon.

Deep Space Gateway. Also at The Guardian.

Previously: NASA Eyeing Mini Space Station in Lunar Orbit as Stepping Stone to Mars

Related: Moon Base Could Cost Just $10 Billion Due to New Technologies
ESA Expert Envisions "Moon Village" by 2030-2050
Scientists Scout Sub-Surface Settlement Sites on the Moon and Mars


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Leebert on Monday April 17 2017, @04:19PM (9 children)

    by Leebert (3511) on Monday April 17 2017, @04:19PM (#495307)

    I think I can safely speak for most of NASA when I say:

    Just pick something you want NASA to do and stick with it, please.

    • (Score: 2) by Snow on Monday April 17 2017, @04:39PM (2 children)

      by Snow (1601) on Monday April 17 2017, @04:39PM (#495320) Journal

      Agreed. Now get your ass to Mars.

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by VLM on Monday April 17 2017, @05:26PM (1 child)

        by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 17 2017, @05:26PM (#495361)

        Bad idea way better to build a large ground base on the moon and get all the bugs ironed out when an emergency flight home is like 2 days away rather than on Mars where the emergency flight home is much longer trip. Also you can boost a semi-continuous stream of spare parts to the moon rather than mars. Finally the gravity is weak enough on the moon to build a lunar elevator with COTS material so I'd build that first.

        And this is how they get conflicting arguments.

        Seriously though build a base on the edge of the moon (I know its a Fing sphere, I mean a location tangential to earths Line of Sight at our visual edge) with the point being that 10 miles on a moon buggy to the far side and its the quietest radio telescope location ever, and 10 miles to the earth side and you'd always have LOS laser or microwave access to home.

        If you're really bored talk to a lunar astronomer about wobble of the moon. You can do some interesting studies on the "edge" of the moon because of the wobble. but because of the wobble the "edge" is really a range quite a few miles wide (depending on lunar latitude and lots of handwaving)

        Also for a lot of reasons the "edge" of the moon is where the lunar space elevator touches down. Then you can export fuel for extremely fast landings of humans (it can take a long time to go up or down a space elevator but something like hydrazine or high conc hydrogen peroxide doesn't care too much).

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18 2017, @06:17PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18 2017, @06:17PM (#495945)

          A space elevator won't work in the traditional sense, because the moon is tidally locked to the earth. A space elevator normally elevates to the point where geosynchronous orbital velocity is obtained. Due to the tidal locking, there is no such point on the moon.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @05:19PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @05:19PM (#495357)

      Yeah but this sounds dangerously like infrastructure.

      Did you see the comments on the earlier story about infrastructure?

      Nobody wants their money "stolen" to pay for it; they'd rather steal my money to pay for MOABs.

      • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Monday April 17 2017, @10:52PM

        by mhajicek (51) on Monday April 17 2017, @10:52PM (#495578)

        It's infrastructure about as much as an RV in the desert is a hotel on a freeway. You want a hotel and service station build on Luna.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Grishnakh on Monday April 17 2017, @08:56PM (1 child)

      by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 17 2017, @08:56PM (#495489)

      Just pick something you want NASA to do and stick with it, please.

      I'm sorry, we simply cannot do that. It's impossible. We get a new political direction every 8 years at the most, possibly in 4 years, maybe 2 (since Congress shifts around every 2 years), so there's simply no way to guarantee funding for NASA for anything longer-term than that.

      The smart thing for NASA to do is to simply waste money on the big projects that they're directed to do (e.g. send humans to Mars) without actually achieving them, and try to at least get some technology developed from these failed programs that can be reused for much shorter-term missions like sending robotic probes to the moons of Saturn. It would be a lot more honest, though, if we'd simply give up on any big missions, admit to the world that we're just too dysfunctional to ever pull off anything like the Moon landing again.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by mhajicek on Monday April 17 2017, @10:57PM

        by mhajicek (51) on Monday April 17 2017, @10:57PM (#495582)

        Trying to turn the cynicism down a bit (not that it isn't wholly appropriate) if I were in those shoes I'd try for modular, general purpose technologies. This year you want a rocked to go here with that much payload, next year it's there with that much payload. They need a modular launch system that can have multiple tubes with various numbers of engines and amounts of fuel so that the vehicle can be rapidly assembled to whatever mission parameters are given.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Monday April 17 2017, @09:17PM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday April 17 2017, @09:17PM (#495506) Journal

      http://planetary.org/blogs/jason-davis/2017/nasas-audacious-europa.html [planetary.org]

      Using a powerful boost from NASA's new heavy lift rocket, the Space Launch System, the Clipper would fly directly to Jupiter and arrive in 2025. Without SLS, the journey would take five years longer, and require flybys of Venus and Earth to reach the right trajectory.

      Flying past Venus means flying closer to the Sun. Flying closer to the Sun means extra heat shielding. And extra heat shielding means a heavier spacecraft. Though Congress has ordered NASA to use SLS for both the Clipper and lander missions, the agency is still keeping the extra heat shielding in the Clipper's design for now—just in case anything derails development of the yet-to-be-flown rocket.

      https://arstechnica.com/science/2015/12/congress-nasa-must-not-only-go-to-europa-it-must-land/ [arstechnica.com]

      In November Ars revealed exclusive details about a daring mission to land on Jupiter’s moon Europa, and now it has become the law of the land. The Congressional budget deal to fund NASA for the fiscal year 2016 includes $1.63 billion for planetary science, of which $175 million is designated for the “Jupiter Europa clipper mission.” It has a target launch date of 2022.

      But the new budget legislation does not stop there. It further stipulates, “This mission shall include an orbiter with a lander that will include competitively selected instruments and that funds shall be used to finalize the mission design concept.” In other words, it's against the law to fly the mission to Europa without a lander.

      Starting to see the problem yet? And this is just Europa.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18 2017, @12:28AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18 2017, @12:28AM (#495622)

      They've already picked what they want to do, and they sure aren't letting go of it. They're very determined to use the SLS program to funnel federal money to the same Congressional districts that have been receiving it. What people do with the rockets after that point hardly matters.

  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @04:29PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @04:29PM (#495310)

    Save the money Just push supplies. Then push station. No need to drop it into sea. Or land

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @05:39PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @05:39PM (#495374)

      How hard do you want to push it? Push too hard, it breaks. Push too gently, it kills the crew while slowly passing through the Van Allen belts. (I suppose we can define "just right" as pushing it just hard enough some bits fly off, but at least one compartment retains pressure and keeps the crew alive until they get cooked in the Van Allen belts?)

      And if you offload the crew, push it slowly beyond the Van Allen belts, and then recrew it -- they all get to die from radiation anyway; the ISS, designed to operate deeply snuggled in Earth's magnetosphere, has no shielding to speak of.

      • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Monday April 17 2017, @11:02PM

        by mhajicek (51) on Monday April 17 2017, @11:02PM (#495585)

        Add more struts.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18 2017, @02:04AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18 2017, @02:04AM (#495648)

        Limit view point. Large warehouse. With base structure and power systems. You are ahead of the game. More sheilding gold foil anyone. Hell may even soft land on moon and bury it. Again many tons of hardware and space and power. Agile development?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18 2017, @04:26AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18 2017, @04:26AM (#495675)

      I can just see the Martians laughing their asses off and saying "You came in that thing? You're braver than we thought" ;-D

  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @04:31PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @04:31PM (#495311)

    Now that the JWST is moving through environmentals and looking like it might actually launch, NASA is in great need for a suitable giant budget and resource-sucking program to take its place.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Monday April 17 2017, @05:53PM (3 children)

      by DannyB (5839) on Monday April 17 2017, @05:53PM (#495382)

      Isn't the SLS and Orion crew capsule a giant resource-sucking program? So expensive that it may only fly once every few years. If you also build a space station, even a mini one, because you can't spring for the normal sized version, then you've also blown the budget to launch it with an SLS.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by kaszz on Monday April 17 2017, @09:05PM (2 children)

        by kaszz (4211) on Monday April 17 2017, @09:05PM (#495497) Journal

        The Senate Lunch System has competition from that annoying Space-X, got to find something else to suck money ;)

        • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Monday April 17 2017, @09:32PM (1 child)

          by DannyB (5839) on Monday April 17 2017, @09:32PM (#495522)

          Here is a facepalm worthy day dream.

          SpaceX eventually gets Falcon Heavy launched. Then gets the bugs worked out.

          Meanwhile SLS slogs along and eventually launches at great cost.

          Falcon Heavy gets contracts and delivers.

          Congress continues to fund SLS even though it has no customers lined up.

          • (Score: 4, Informative) by takyon on Monday April 17 2017, @09:54PM

            by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday April 17 2017, @09:54PM (#495537) Journal

            Falcon Heavy can't carry as much as SLS, but it is much cheaper in comparison to the extent that it won't matter. Especially if reuse is regularly achieved.

            However, the ITS would utterly destroy SLS:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interplanetary_Transport_System [wikipedia.org]
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITS_launch_vehicle [wikipedia.org]

            If I'm reading it right, 2-3x and maybe 4x the payload of SLS. With reusability built in from the start. And it could get more payload to Mars than SLS could get to LEO.

            Now, if I had been saying this last year, it would have been less impressive. But now SpaceX has flown a reused rocket booster and is planning a Moon flyby (using Falcon Heavy AFAIK).

            If ITS flies before the SLS program has been wrapped up, there is going to be a showdown. Musk wants to fly ITS by 2022, and SLS is going to be funded through 2025, probably. The first date could slip, but still, things could get really interesting.

            --
            [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 2) by MrGuy on Monday April 17 2017, @05:23PM (6 children)

    by MrGuy (1007) on Monday April 17 2017, @05:23PM (#495360)

    If you're going to do this, it would potentially make sense to put the station in lunarstationary orbit and build a space elevator down to the lunar surface. Space elevator in lunar gravity should be possible with materials we have (unlike an earth-based elevator, which would require several generations of materials science tech to be feasible). This would make mining resources from the moon considerably cheaper, and potentially make it viable to produce fuel at the station, which would be a boost to potential Mars-bound travel.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Monday April 17 2017, @05:36PM (2 children)

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 17 2017, @05:36PM (#495369)

      Space elevator in lunar gravity should be possible with materials we have

      Even better using COTS stuff we could get away with zero taper pulley type designs.

      Lunar elevators can never be human rated partially because they're so slow but mostly because if you fall off you die, whereas all you need on earth is a cheap heat shield and a parachute on the moon you would need a whole lunar lander to survive.

      The best part about a pulley design is I forget the exact details but something WRT payloads falling off the elevator it doesn't take much work to ensure the payload doesn't land on the ground station. Something like if you make two ground stations a mile apart in diameter ground zero will land in the middle and since the ground path is a semicircle all you have to worry about is dust and fragments.

      I remember something about taking a lunar elevator to the surface at a modest speed that would be very durable and controllable for the tether would take over a month.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by DannyB on Monday April 17 2017, @06:09PM (1 child)

        by DannyB (5839) on Monday April 17 2017, @06:09PM (#495396)

        If you fall off an earth based space elevator wouldn't a parachute be enough? Don't you only need a heat shield if you have the hypersonic velocity of being in orbit? A space elevator is just a very tall tower. You fall straight down.

        If you fall off a lunar elevator, I wonder how practical it would be to have a small landing jet since the lunar gravity is only 1/6 the Earth's?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @06:51PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @06:51PM (#495422)

          No, on a space elevator you have a lateral velocity varying linearly with altitude, from 0.5km/s at the surface (0 relative to the surface) to 3.1 km/s at GEO (2.6 km/s relative to the surface). Of course, if you "fall off" from a point near GEO, you'll enter an elliptical orbit with a perigee well clear of Earth, so the worst case (wikipedia says around 23000km) is when the resulting orbit just grazes Earth at perigee; the velocity at perigee would be about 10km/s.

    • (Score: 1) by anotherblackhat on Monday April 17 2017, @05:46PM (1 child)

      by anotherblackhat (4722) on Monday April 17 2017, @05:46PM (#495376)

      A lunar elevator to luna-synchronous orbit is possible, but cost prohibitive.
      Much cheaper would be a mass driver, but it's still probably more than they're willing to budget for.

      Thing is, the cost of shipping something to the moon that can ship something from the moon only makes sense if there's a lot of something on the moon you want to ship somewhere.

      • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Monday April 17 2017, @09:31PM

        by kaszz (4211) on Monday April 17 2017, @09:31PM (#495520) Journal

        Processed titanium?
        Processed aluminum? (no need for expensive refining using coal plants etc)
        Helium-3?

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @06:22PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @06:22PM (#495405)

      There is no "lunarstationary orbit", because by the time you get that far from the Moon, Earth's gravity is far too significant to neglect; you have to treat it as a 3-body problem.

      The L1 and L2 points are what you're looking for -- because Luna is tidally locked, they are effectively stationary with respect to the lunar surface. (L4 and L5, and for that matter L3 on the far side of Earth, share this characteristic, but are too far to be practical.) Because L1 and L2 are unstable, satellites orbiting them will need some stationkeeping -- it's not clear to me whether that applies to a space elevator passing through the vicinity of L1 to a counterweight just Earthwards of L1, but either way, it's the best you're gonna get.

  • (Score: 1) by anotherblackhat on Monday April 17 2017, @05:38PM (7 children)

    by anotherblackhat (4722) on Monday April 17 2017, @05:38PM (#495372)

    I wonder if anyone [wikipedia.org] has considered other possible locations.

    Is this "station orbiting the moon" a serious NASA proposal, or is it just something someone who works at NASA mentioned in a blog post?

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Monday April 17 2017, @06:04PM (5 children)

      by DannyB (5839) on Monday April 17 2017, @06:04PM (#495392)

      The moon is probably the best possible location for such a satellite.

      Consider.

      If you want to attack the surface of the moon, you just drop a weapon into the moon's gravity well.

      If you want to attack an Earth satellite, operated by people with a religion or skin color disfavored by the administration in power at the time; then launching the attack from the moon requires less energy than launching from the earth. A lower uphill climb.

      If you want to attack an Earth surface target, an attack coming from space can make use of the Earth's gravity well and be pretty unstoppable. Even if Earth based infrastructure is destroyed. The launch comes from a lunar satellite.

      The problem with such a lunar satellite, just like with nuclear weapons and v1agra is that soon every fascist dictator on the block will want one.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Monday April 17 2017, @06:15PM (4 children)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 17 2017, @06:15PM (#495399) Journal

        No one has mentioned a fact that seems rather obvious to me. The moon is further up the earth's gravity well than anything else that we have orbiting the earth. It isn't at the very top of the earth's gravity well, of course, or it would escape in the near future. But, it is within spitting distance of the top of the well. Vehicles and payloads assembled in moon orbit will require a lot less energy to launch, than if they were launched from a closer earth orbit.

        But, I'm amused at the article's to lunar orbit as a "deep space gateway". I realize that space flight is still in it's infancy, but could we reserve references to "deep space" for at least as far out as the gas giants? It's like a child walking to the house next door, and feeling like he's explored the New World. "Deep Space" should at least be comparable to the next block down the street.

        --
        This broadcast is intended for mature audiences.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @06:41PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @06:41PM (#495417)

          Well, eventually we're going to start using atomic engines and going to other systems, right?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @07:03PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @07:03PM (#495428)

          Look at the rubber sheet model here [wikipedia.org] -- any "lunar orbit" is down in the lunar gravity well. The lagrange points are the only places that are actually near the top -- that's where you want to assemble your interplanetary spacecraft.

          • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Monday April 17 2017, @11:17PM

            by mhajicek (51) on Monday April 17 2017, @11:17PM (#495592)

            Actually I'd rather assemble and fuel on the surface of the Moon and launch from a many mile long EM gun (open ended hyperloop) without burning any fuel.

        • (Score: 2, Interesting) by anotherblackhat on Monday April 17 2017, @08:26PM

          by anotherblackhat (4722) on Monday April 17 2017, @08:26PM (#495470)

          ... could we reserve references to "deep space" for at least as far out as the gas giants?

          Robert Heinlein famously said that once you are in low Earth orbit you are 'halfway to anywhere.' 1
          Lunar orbit isn't like walking next door, it's like climbing out of a deep well and then walking next door.
          A walk to the store is farther than next door, but climbing out of the well was the hard part.

          1. Not exact, but pretty close when measured in amount of delta-V needed to get there.

    • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Monday April 17 2017, @09:38PM

      by kaszz (4211) on Monday April 17 2017, @09:38PM (#495528) Journal

      I wonder when we get our first Stanford torus. It surely can be done right now.

      And then we have all these people saying that space mining will crash the earthly market because of oversupply. Well a torus will need a lot of materials. Diameter 1000 meter, 1 rotation every 50 seconds for 80% earth gravity, radiation protection using 2 meter lunar soil etc. It can then provide work force for space missions, robotic control where latency is an issue, food growing, tourist destination, laboratory facilities etc.

      X-factors includes heat-cooling cycles, metal fatigue, gravity bending and solar eruptions.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @07:03PM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @07:03PM (#495427)

    When I first heard about this news some time back I got genuinely excited. Then I read the actual details. The moment I read "SLS", my shoulders slumped.

    I feel bad for NASA, I really do. There is not even a chance this will ever come to be. The SLS is essentially a giant pork project which they're legally obligated to back whether or not they want to. It was started in 2010 and was initially planned to have its first flight in 2018. This article is a bit out of date and that figure will likely be pushed back to 2019 [spacenews.com]. A recent audit found the SLS program, once again, to be over budget and unlikely to make their deadlines. We need to put these numbers into context. JFK's space speech was in 1962 - we'd achieved nothing more than having put a man into orbit. Nonetheless in 1969, 7 years later, a human would step foot on the moon. There had been a manned flyby of the moon in the Apollo 8 mission in 1968, 6 years later. The SLS program, by contrast, is aiming for an unmanned lunar flyby after 8 years and that will likely end up being 9 if not 10.

    The SLS is the F-35 of space. I couldn't care less about a jet fighter, but I genuinely care about space. SpaceX has recently announced a planned flight to send two private adventurers on a flight around the moon next year. They've managed to do this with exactly $0 of public funding dedicated towards this purpose. Assuming they achieve this mission, it will exemplify the problem. Frankly the fact they're even confident enough to announce this exemplifies the problem. We're not going to get to Mars with Boeing and Lockheed - period. These companies are driven solely by profit. Give them a fat exclusive contract and they're going to drag it out as long as they can for as much as they can. SpaceX is driven by a goal and the talent to bring that goal to life. If we want to make progress, we need to start aligning ourselves with companies ideologically invested in that progress.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @07:48PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @07:48PM (#495450)

      They've managed to do this with exactly $0 of public funding dedicated towards this purpose.

      They've managed nothing so far but to announce the goal. Also, they expect the "adventurers" to pay a lot of money for the "privilege".

      Maybe they haven't taken in any money for this specific purpose, but they have some large contracts, some from public funds, that can cover a lot of personnel and facility overhead as well.

      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Monday April 17 2017, @09:18PM (1 child)

        by DannyB (5839) on Monday April 17 2017, @09:18PM (#495507)

        SpaceX is not taking in public money to develop some of its grand goals. It is doing that with it's own profits. Now those profits are in large part from NASA contracts. But those are commercial contracts for services in exchange for money. It's not like NASA is paying for development or construction work. Also in part those profits funding the grandiose plans come from other commercial launch services customers. Iridium, for example, has, what is it, I think eight more launches scheduled with SpaceX?

        As for doing nothing but announcing goals, I would say that SpaceX landing a booster stage isn't exactly nothing. ULA said it was impossible. The Russians said it was a fantasy. Elon Musk said he wasn't even sure if they would ever be able to do it. And SpaceX failed the first several attempts. It was looking like it might not be possible. And then they succeeded at landing. Then landing on a drone ship. Then more successful landings until it's almost routine.

        I also wouldn't call re-launching a booster with the same nine engines to be exactly nothing either. On an orbital booster. Nobody else has done that. And only one other company has done re-use, with a non-orbital booster.

        I find SpaceX's 3D printed Draco engines to be impressive.

        I am interested in the Dragon 2 capsule SpaceX has developed. Also when they tested its launch abort system (Draco engines).

        I wouldn't say SpaceX has done nothing but announce. If you go further back in time, it wasn't even clear if their Falcon 9 was going to work at all. They took a huge risk. Almost failed.

        But I think the lesson is this.

        When you set out to do something bold, innovative and challenging. Something that you, yourself, are not even sure can be made to work. The risk is high. The task is difficult.

        The important point is that you might possibly fail.

        Therefore, you should not ever try. Ever. Just don't bother.

        This message brought to you by SpaceX's competitors.

        • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Monday April 17 2017, @09:26PM

          by kaszz (4211) on Monday April 17 2017, @09:26PM (#495514) Journal

          I think the take home of SpaceX is that solid engineering, bold goals and good corporate culture is perhaps more important than the most money. I would almost bet that any no-say, can't do, paper wending bureaucrat have hard time at SpaceX, in fact they won't even let them inside their doors.

          Almost like IBM vs Apple, Microsoft vs Free OS etc.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Monday April 17 2017, @09:07PM

      by DannyB (5839) on Monday April 17 2017, @09:07PM (#495499)

      The moment I read "SLS", my shoulders slumped.

      Yep. Me too.

      Back in March, I visited Kennedy Space Center on a day that fell between a week long cruise and a week at Disney World to recover from the cruise.

      At the end of the day as my friend and I left, I remarked that it was like Londo Mollari when he said "a thousand monuments to past glory".

      Basically it was half about Apollo, and half about the Shuttle program. And I don't mean to downplay either of those programs nor the amazing things accomplished in the entire moon program.

      But there was a full scale Orion capsule. Can't remember now if it was an early build or a mockup. (too many lines of code ago) There was also the stand being constructed for SLS launches. What a colossal waste of money.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday April 17 2017, @09:40PM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday April 17 2017, @09:40PM (#495530) Journal

      If it wasn't for NASA $$$, SpaceX would not exist. It's not just due to the fact that SpaceX built upon existing NASA technologies. NASA is SpaceX's biggest customer, and SpaceX leases existing NASA facilities.

      SpaceX is NASA's way of getting around the military-Congressional-pork-industrial complex. The NASA move towards supporting greater privatization of space activity and allowing companies to transport astronauts to the ISS ultimately undermines pork programs where the rocket parts are built in many states. SpaceX is too competitive to be ignored.

      It looks like Falcon Heavy [wikipedia.org] will cost maybe 20% of what the SLS [wikipedia.org] will cost per launch, with maybe half the payload. The Interplanetary Transport System [wikipedia.org] would grind SLS into dust by comparison (as currently planned, and assuming it does get built).

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18 2017, @06:38AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18 2017, @06:38AM (#495715)

        Absolutely. My issue is not with NASA. NASA is an incredible agency that has and will continue to play a major (even if supporting) role in space. As mentioned they have no option whether or not to develop the SLS, and due to the petty nature of pork barrel politics they're also required to 'push' the SLS as well unless they want to see a sharp cut to their funding. Within the next let's say 5 years, I think it's very safe to say that the SLS program will be cancelled. But before it's all said and done - tens of billions of dollars will have been wasted on it. We've already spent about $10 billion on it. For contrast the entire expected cost to develop and build SpaceX's Interplanetary Transport System, is about $10 billion.

        It's just so frustrating to see so much money being completely wasted and false promises being obligatorily made all because of political pettiness.

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