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posted by mrpg on Thursday June 21 2018, @08:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the rosie-jetson dept.

NASA's Space Launch System: Rocketing Towards Cancellation?

The National Space Society recently held a conference in Los Angeles, and SLS was apparently a hot topic at the gathering. Over the course of four days of mingling with space industry muckety-mucks, Politico Space reports it heard multiple rumblings that bode ill for the Space Launch System money-pot.

For one thing, SLS has been marketed as key to NASA's efforts to eventually put astronauts on Mars. But as Politico reports, attendees at the conference expressed doubts as to "the wisdom or efficacy of a crewed mission to Mars in the next decade." California Republican and House space subcommittee member Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, for one, criticized the technology as too immature to support a manned Mars mission, saying "I think all this talk about going to Mars has been premature," and warning that NASA won't actually be ready to conduct a manned Mars mission before "20 years from now, maybe more."

Astronaut Chris Hadfield says the rockets from NASA, SpaceX, and Blue Origin won't take people to Mars

[Chris] Hadfield, who's now retired, shares his expertise about rockets, spaceships, spacewalking, and Mars exploration in a new web course on the online platform MasterClass. To follow up on those lessons, we asked Hadfield what he thinks about the future rocket ships of three major players in the new space race: NASA's Space Launch System, SpaceX's Big Falcon Rocket, and Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket.

[...] "Personally, I don't think any of those three rockets is taking people to Mars," Hadfield told Business Insider. " I don't think those are a practical way to send people to Mars because they're dangerous and it takes too long."

Response to Hadfield's remarks: SpaceX BFR can be used for massive space development, orbital, lunar and Mars colonization

Former astronaut criticizes lunar gateway plans

A former NASA astronaut used an appearance at a National Space Council meeting June 18 to argue that a key element of NASA's plans to return humans to the moon should be reconsidered.

Appearing on a panel during the meeting at the White House, Terry Virts said that the proposed Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, a human-tended facility in orbit around the moon, wasn't an effective next step in human spaceflight beyond Earth orbit after the International Space Station.

"It essentially calls for building another orbital space station, a skill my colleagues and I have already demonstrated on the ISS," he said. "Gateway will only slow us down, taking time and precious dollars away from the goal of returning to the lunar surface and eventually flying to Mars."


Original Submission

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NASA Administrator Ponders the Fate of SLS in Interview 4 comments

Rocket Report: Japanese rocket blows up, NASA chief ponders purpose of SLS (and other news)

NASA Administrator ponders what to do with the SLS rocket. During a Q&A with Politico, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was asked about how the space agency views commercial launch vehicles. His response: "As we move forward, we're going to have to maybe rethink... at what point do we start taking advantage of those commercial capabilities to the extent that they drive down cost, give us more capability, and what do we do with SLS?... We're not there yet, but certainly there's a horizon here. Is it 10 years? I don't know what the answer is, but what we can't do in my view is give up our government capability, our national capability, when we don't have an alternative."

Speaking of timelines ... NASA doesn't exactly have the "national capability" of the SLS rocket yet in the heavy-lift class, either. We've heard rumors of a slip to 2021 for the first launch date, in which case Blue Origin's New Glenn has a fighting chance to fly first, as SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket has already done.

Blue Origin targets Moon landing by 2023. Blue Origin's business development director, A.C. Charania, said at a conference that the company's Blue Moon program is "our first step to developing a lunar landing capability for the country, for other customers internationally, to be able to land multi metric tons on the lunar surface." The company has not said what role its large orbital rocket under development, New Glenn, would play in a mission to the Moon.

BFR is a privately funded next-generation reusable launch vehicle and spacecraft system developed by SpaceX. It was announced by Elon Musk in September 2017.[8][9] The overall space vehicle architecture includes both launch vehicles and spacecraft that are intended to completely replace all of SpaceX's existing space hardware by the early 2020s as well as ground infrastructure for rapid launch and relaunch, and zero-gravity propellant transfer technology to be deployed in low Earth orbit (LEO). The large payload to Earth orbit of up to 150,000 kg (330,000 lb) makes BFR a super heavy-lift launch vehicle. Manufacture of the first upper stage/spacecraft prototype began by March 2018, and the ship is projected to begin testing in early 2019.[5]

Related: First SLS Mission Will be Unmanned
After the Falcon Heavy Launch, Time to Defund the Space Launch System?
President Trump Praises Falcon Heavy, Diminishes NASA's SLS Effort
SpaceX BFR vs. ULA Vulcan Showdown in the 2020s
NASA's Chief of Human Spaceflight Rules Out Use of Falcon Heavy for Lunar Station
NASA Could Scale Down First Manned Flight of the SLS
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine Serious About Returning to the Moon
Jeff Bezos Details Moon Settlement Ambitions in Interview
This Week in Space Pessimism: SLS, Mars, and Lunar Gateway


Original Submission

China Will Focus on a Lunar Surface Station Rather than a Lunar Orbiting Station 17 comments

Chinese space official seems unimpressed with NASA's lunar gateway

This week, the European and Chinese space agencies held a workshop in Amsterdam to discuss cooperation between Europe and China on lunar science missions. The meeting comes as Europe seems increasingly content to work with China on spaceflight programs.

Although the meeting is not being streamed online, space systems designer and lunar exploration enthusiast Angeliki Kapoglou has been providing some coverage of the meeting via Twitter. Among the most interesting things she has shared are slides from a presentation by Pei Zhaoyu, who is deputy director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of the China National Space Administration.

[...] Overall, Pei does not appear to be a fan of NASA's plan to build a deep space gateway, formally known as the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, at a near-rectilinear halo orbit. Whereas NASA will focus its activities on this gateway away from the Moon, Pei said China will focus on a "lunar scientific research station."

[...] So far, NASA has yet to finalize commitments with Europe, Russia, or other International Space Station partners on contributions to the gateway. While European officials are interested, it seems like they may also be willing to go along with China if that country has a more direct plan to land humans on the Moon.

Related: NASA Could Scale Down First Manned Flight of the SLS
2020s to Become the Decade of Lunar Re-Exploration
This Week in Space Pessimism: SLS, Mars, and Lunar Gateway


Original Submission

SpaceX Organizes Secretive Mars Landing Conference at University of Colorado Boulder 65 comments

SpaceX organizes inaugural conference to plan landings on Mars

No one can deny that SpaceX founder Elon Musk has thought a lot about how to transport humans safely to Mars with his Big Falcon Rocket. But when it comes to Musk's highly ambitious plans to settle Mars in the coming decades, some critics say Musk hasn't paid enough attention to what people will do once they get there.

However, SpaceX may be getting more serious about preparing for human landings on Mars, both in terms of how to keep people alive as well as to provide them with something meaningful to do. According to private invitations seen by Ars, the company will host a "Mars Workshop" on Tuesday and Wednesday this week at the University of Colorado Boulder. Although the company would not comment directly, a SpaceX official confirmed the event and said the company regularly meets with a variety of experts concerning its missions to Mars.

This appears to be the first meeting of such magnitude, however, with nearly 60 key scientists and engineers from industry, academia, and government attending the workshop, including a handful of leaders from NASA's Mars exploration program. The invitation for the inaugural Mars meeting encourages participants to contribute to "active discussions regarding what will be needed to make such missions happen." Attendees are being asked to not publicize the workshop or their attendance.

The meeting is expected to include an overview of the spaceflight capabilities that SpaceX is developing with the Big Falcon rocket and spaceship, which Musk has previously outlined at length during international aerospace meetings in 2016 and 2017. Discussion topics will focus on how best to support hundreds of humans living on Mars, such as accessing natural resources there that will lead to a sustainable outpost.

Related: SpaceX to Begin BFR Production at the Port of Los Angeles
City Council Approves SpaceX's BFR Facility at the Port of Los Angeles
This Week in Space Pessimism: SLS, Mars, and Lunar Gateway


Original Submission

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Could Launch Japanese and European Payloads to Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway 17 comments

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy eyed by Europe/Japan

According to RussianSpaceWeb, SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket is under serious consideration for launches of major European and Japanese payloads associated with the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (formerly the Deep Space Gateway).

[...] The first payload considering Falcon Heavy for launch services is the Japanese Space Agency's (JAXA) HTV-X, and upgraded version of a spacecraft the country developed to assist in resupplying the International Space Station (ISS). HTV-X is primarily being designed with an ISS-resupply role still at the forefront, but RussianSpaceWeb recently reported that JAXA is seriously considering the development of a variant of the robotic spacecraft dedicated to resupplying the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOPG; and I truly wish I were joking about both the name and acronym).

[...] Regardless of the LOPG's existential merits, a lot of energy (and money) is currently being funneled into planning and initial hardware development for the lunar station's various modular segments. JAXA is currently analyzing ways to resupply LOPG and its crew complement with its HTV-X cargo spacecraft, currently targeting its first annual ISS resupply mission by the end of 2021. While JAXA will use its own domestic H-III rocket to launch HTV-X to the ISS, that rocket simply is not powerful enough to place a minimum of ~10,000 kg (22,000 lb) on a trans-lunar insertion (TLI) trajectory. As such, JAXA is examining SpaceX's Falcon Heavy as a prime (and affordable) option: by recovering both side boosters on SpaceX's drone ships and sacrificing the rocket's center core, a 2/3rds-reusable Falcon Heavy should be able to send as much as 20,000 kg to TLI (lunar orbit), according to comments made by CEO Elon Musk.

That impressive performance would also be needed for another LOPG payload, this time for ESA's 5-6 ton European System Providing Refueling Infrastructure and Telecommunications (ESPRIT) lunar station module. That component is unlikely to reach launch readiness before 2024, but ESA is already considering Falcon Heavy (over its own Ariane 6 rocket) in order to save some of the module's propellant. Weighing 6 metric tons at most, Falcon Heavy could most likely launch ESPRIT while still recovering all three of its booster stages.

Previously: NASA's Chief of Human Spaceflight Rules Out Use of Falcon Heavy for Lunar Station

Related: NASA and International Partners Planning Orbital Lunar Outpost
Russia Assembles Engineering Group for Lunar Activities and the Deep Space Gateway
This Week in Space Pessimism: SLS, Mars, and Lunar Gateway


Original Submission

Head of Russian Space Agency Roscosmos Wavers on Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway 33 comments

Russia throws doubt on joint lunar space station with U.S.: RIA

Moscow may abandon a project to build a space station in lunar orbit in partnership with U.S. space agency NASA because it does not want a "second fiddle role," a Russian official said on Saturday.

[...] [The] head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, said Russia might exit the joint program and instead propose its own lunar orbit space station project.

[...] A spokesman for Roscosmos said later that Russia had no immediate plans to leave the project. "Russia has not refused to take part in the project of the lunar orbit station with the USA," Vladimir Ustimenko was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency.

FLOP-G?

Also at ABC (Associated Press).

Previously:

Related:


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  • (Score: 2) by bradley13 on Thursday June 21 2018, @09:43AM (5 children)

    by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 21 2018, @09:43AM (#696112) Homepage Journal

    NASA has long been conquered by Pournelle's Iron Law. They still manage the odd science missions, although even those come at enormous prices and with massive problems (Hubble, Webb). Otherwise? NASA is just another money pit.

    The best way to get people to Mars, or whatever goal we agree is worthwhile? Hang out an X-prize, and let private industry go for it.

    It will also be necessary to eliminate a lot of regulations. Space travel is dangerous, the people signing up for it know that, but private companies will still risk being sued into oblivion when (not if) the first fatal accident happens.

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    • (Score: 4, Informative) by takyon on Thursday June 21 2018, @10:03AM (3 children)

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Thursday June 21 2018, @10:03AM (#696116) Journal

      New Horizons, Juno, Dawn, Kepler, TESS, etc. have had reasonable prices. What's the difference? They are part of programs that limit funding, use proven technologies, etc.:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Frontiers_program [wikipedia.org]
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discovery_Program [wikipedia.org]
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Explorers_Program [wikipedia.org]

      Kepler in particular has created a lot of excitement, and now TESS is going to multiply the number of known exoplanets at about a third of the cost.

      The ESA's approach is similar, and necessary since they have a much smaller budget:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_Vision [wikipedia.org]

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      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21 2018, @03:36PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21 2018, @03:36PM (#696226)

        The thing is they are not manned spaceflight, they do things efficiently, directly and not waste money because of imbecillic politicos engages in money-assigning squabbles, and we all know it. I don't know what astronaut Hadfield is smoking, but it must be affecting his judgment, sorry to be nasty. Those private rockets are the only way wee will get anywhere long-term. Only nassty compertition and commercial fight will do it for us.

        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday June 21 2018, @04:18PM

          by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Thursday June 21 2018, @04:18PM (#696252) Journal

          GP cited unmanned Hubble and Webb as money wasters.

          As NextBigFuture notes, BFR can be used to get to Mars rather quickly. Radiation shielding mass is negotiable... with in-orbit refueling, you get to send up to 150 tons to Mars. Orion is under 26 tons. BFS empty mass is 85 tons (and I don't think that counts against the 150 tons). So feel free to add some shielding.

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      • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Thursday June 21 2018, @05:44PM

        by HiThere (866) on Thursday June 21 2018, @05:44PM (#696319) Journal

        The Webb is sure behind schedule and over cost, but TESS won't do what Webb was(is?) planned to do.

        This is partially complexity, and partially administrative meddling, and partially legislative interference. I can't tell how much, if any, is corruption or incompetence, but I assume at least some.

        The thing is, you can't avoid corruption and incompetence, but you can avoid budgets that change every few years, and goals that change with elections.

        There are arguments in favor of shutting down agencies every few years, but that disrupts long term planning even worse than election cycles.

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    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bob_super on Thursday June 21 2018, @06:53PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Thursday June 21 2018, @06:53PM (#696355)

      > They still manage the odd science missions

      I would prefer if they stopped funding the n+1 mission to find out if there was ever life on Mars, and stop scrubbing their probes.
      On its surface, Mars seems to have dismissed the best evolution may have thrown at it. Knowing it was there is cute, finding if something is left deep in a corner would be good, but knowing how to survive and not be the next casualty is better.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21 2018, @10:53AM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21 2018, @10:53AM (#696130)

    Let us add Space Force [soylentnews.org] to that list. If the Space Force's creation is managed the way everything else in this administration then it will be another Capricorn One [imdb.com].

    • (Score: 2) by realDonaldTrump on Thursday June 21 2018, @11:22AM

      by realDonaldTrump (6614) on Thursday June 21 2018, @11:22AM (#696138) Homepage Journal

      Trust me, the managing is going PERFECTO on that one. We're managing the hell out of it. General Mattis is going to talk it over with John Bolton on Friday. Then we go to Congress, we tell them to amend Title 10. And budget the money. Then we order the ships, the guns and the uniforms. We already have the motto, Separate but Equal!!!!

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by ElizabethGreene on Thursday June 21 2018, @03:36PM (5 children)

      by ElizabethGreene (6748) on Thursday June 21 2018, @03:36PM (#696225)

      I think you might misunderstand both the need and utility of the space force. Currently Space command tracks orbital collision risks and sends out warnings that these could occur. Take a wild guess as to how many of these there are per day. Got a number? Remember these are per day. 2? 10? 600? It's the last one. Just shy of 400,000 intercepts last year. The majority of space command is going to be made up of these guys. The net new part be guys working on is offensive and defensive capabilities.

      "Why on Earth would we need offensive capabilities in space?"

      Because other countries have them, and we can't trust them not to use them without a deterrent.

      Lets use just one example, GPS. Think about what doesn't work for you, personally, if GPS goes kaput. Maps on your cell phone go from turn-by-turn to within a few blocks in the city to within a few miles in rural areas if at all. You can live without that, right? It's okay if your Lyft driver is within a few blocks to pick you up? You probably won't think about precision agriculture, machine guided earthmoving, autonomous vehicles, surveying, sea and air navigation, and fleet vehicle operations. The combined economic impact estimate is about 50$ Billion per year, excluding military uses, and that is probably low.

      24 Satellites provide that capability, and several countries have the ability to knock them out from earth-based, space-based, or cyber attacks. These satellites are practically hand-made. It would be incredibly difficult to replace all of them in a year.

      When you hear "space force" you think "Space Marines in EVA suits". That's wrong. Think "Keyboard warriors" instead. The motivation for splitting them out is because the Air Force brass can't seem to prioritize these capabilities properly (even after congress asked nicely several times) and they continue to let us fall farther and farther behind.

      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday June 21 2018, @04:44PM (4 children)

        by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Thursday June 21 2018, @04:44PM (#696280) Journal

        24 Satellites provide that capability, and several countries have the ability to knock them out from earth-based, space-based, or cyber attacks.

        I don't doubt that it exists, but does anyone have a known and proven "space-based" way to do that currently in-orbit? Assuming some kind of satellite that can kill or disable other sats, rather than an X-37B which could capture a satellite and bring it down softly on a landing strip.

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        • (Score: 2) by ElizabethGreene on Thursday June 21 2018, @05:37PM (3 children)

          by ElizabethGreene (6748) on Thursday June 21 2018, @05:37PM (#696311)

          If that capability exists, it is classified. The public data talks about aircraft based laser weapons with adaptive optics and kinetic (missile) interceptors.

          It wouldn't be trivial to intentionally crash one satellite into another, but that's certainly an option too.

          • (Score: 2) by toddestan on Friday June 22 2018, @12:16AM (2 children)

            by toddestan (4982) on Friday June 22 2018, @12:16AM (#696486)

            It wouldn't be trivial to intentionally crash one satellite into another, but that's certainly an option too.

            If you could do that, it would be much easier to just de-orbit the satellite. Or use up all its fuel putting it into a useless orbit or perhaps making it spin so fast it flies apart.

            Though I suppose if the satellite you gained control over wasn't the one you wanted to take out, then you would have to try the collision thing.

            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday June 22 2018, @03:01AM (1 child)

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 22 2018, @03:01AM (#696570) Journal

              If you could do that, it would be much easier to just de-orbit the satellite.

              The problem is that usually the satellite one would wish to destroy is not the satellite one would control.

              • (Score: 2) by ElizabethGreene on Friday June 22 2018, @04:08AM

                by ElizabethGreene (6748) on Friday June 22 2018, @04:08AM (#696584)

                Spot on. Compromising the command and control system is the easiest approach. Failing that things get much harder, more expensive, and more attributable. Trying to take out a satellite with another satellite is non-trivial. Space is really big, and they aren't designed with radar for finding their neighbors.

                The bigger worry is a state or non-state actor launching a malicious payload that is equipped to intercept and destroy or worse intercept and compromise. The latter is particularly troubling, as satellite design does not usually incorporate physical security.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21 2018, @12:03PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21 2018, @12:03PM (#696149)

    That's a lot of unemployed engineers

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday June 21 2018, @12:06PM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Thursday June 21 2018, @12:06PM (#696151) Journal

      If you mean the SLS [wikipedia.org] ones, we can get them building missiles instead:

      Manufacturer: Boeing, United Launch Alliance, Orbital ATK, Aerojet Rocketdyne

      United Launch Alliance [wikipedia.org] (ULA) is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Boeing Defense, Space & Security.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21 2018, @02:02PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21 2018, @02:02PM (#696182)

    The station has been in service a long time. The fed doesn't want it. The fed does want a lunar station. So, move the ISS to lunar orbit?

    How much of the maint costs in the stations budget come from service to and from the station? So if you lift the station slowly over a decade or so (with ion drives perhaps), then the to and from become redundant expenses with the lunar missions, and the whole system gets cheaper.

    Yes I'm aware that isn't what it was designed for. But it is awefully hard to complain about how the ISS is a drag on lunar funding, when the ISS is driving both the schedule and the budget of the lunar program.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday June 21 2018, @02:14PM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Thursday June 21 2018, @02:14PM (#696186) Journal

      It is an international station so there may be some trouble there. Russia had vague plans to detach some of its own modules to form a new station. But the U.S. and Russia are collaborating on the LOP-G lunar station (which was going to be a much smaller station anyway).

      China recently announced [soylentnews.org] that it would let any country participate in its space station program. Why not use BFR tankers to boost ISS towards the Moon, and then end the ban on NASA collaboration with China and send astronauts and even some new modules to their station?

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    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday June 21 2018, @02:22PM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Thursday June 21 2018, @02:22PM (#696189) Journal

      Mars space stations like Mars Base Camp [engadget.com] would probably be crap and expensive compared to SpaceX+BFR plans. If we want to go the Mars space station route, we could put astronauts on Phobos instead. In the very long term, we could convert the interior of Phobos into a station instead of hanging out on the surface, and use propulsion to keep it from breaking up or colliding with Mars.

      Boosting ISS to lunar orbit or Lagrange point takes care of the need to periodically boost it due to atmospheric decay. It could make fine adjustments in its orbit using ion engines. Sending the ISS to Mars sounds like a hassle, if not an impossibility.

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    • (Score: 4, Touché) by ElizabethGreene on Thursday June 21 2018, @05:34PM

      by ElizabethGreene (6748) on Thursday June 21 2018, @05:34PM (#696308)

      The ISS was not designed for and cannot easily be adapted to operations outside of LEO. It's the wrong tool for the job. The people that lived on it would be at dramatically increased cancer risk.

      If you did want to try it, the plane change maneuver to bring it into the moon's orbital plane would cost more fuel than the actual trip out to the moon.

      You could strap on a bunch of fuel and oxidizer tanks for the trip.
      You could add on extra radiation shielding for crew quarters.
      You could refit it with stronger radio transmitters.
      You could reinforce its structural connections.
      You could move its orbit out to Lunar Orbit.
      ... and then you'd have spent more money than it would cost to do the job properly in the first place.
      ... and have no way to get rid of your trash.
      ......including your resupply vehicles that use Earth's atmosphere to de-orbit.
      ... and have to send resupply missions to the moon every 3 months.

      It is non-trivial.

  • (Score: 2) by ElizabethGreene on Thursday June 21 2018, @04:08PM

    by ElizabethGreene (6748) on Thursday June 21 2018, @04:08PM (#696243)

    I have the utmost respect for Mr. Hadfield, but he has long been pessimistic regarding our ability to reach Mars and skeptical of our ability to survive the trip. I fail to understand this skepticism from a man who spent a year living and working in space. I do agree regarding SLS and Orion, but neither SpaceX or Blue Origin have shown themselves to be risk averse or bureaucratically encumbered in the way NASA is. Both are incredibly nimble and innovative organizations. Both are also willing and able to take more risks than NASA would ever permit. To underestimate their ability is unwise.

  • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday June 21 2018, @06:59PM

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 21 2018, @06:59PM (#696360) Journal

    attendees at the conference expressed doubts as to "the wisdom or efficacy of a crewed mission to Mars in the next decade." California Republican and House space subcommittee member Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, for one, criticized the technology as too immature to support a manned Mars mission, saying "I think all this talk about going to Mars has been premature," and warning that NASA won't actually be ready to conduct a manned Mars mission before "20 years from now, maybe more."

    It seems that a long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away) that a US President pushed for us to strive to get a man to the moon in this decade.

    I'm sure at the time he said that, our then present technology was premature to achieve such a thing.

    It seems that Inspiration1, Courage2 and Leadership3 could make it happen.

    =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

    1and buckets of taxpayer money
    2bribery and corruption from aerospace companies
    3putting the aerospace foxes in charge of the space program henhouse, suppressing new upstart competitors

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  • (Score: 2) by letssee on Thursday June 21 2018, @07:26PM (2 children)

    by letssee (2537) on Thursday June 21 2018, @07:26PM (#696370)

    At least in the near future.

    Way too expensive for what you get extra above a robotic mission.

    Elon Musks pipedreams of a mars colony are nowhere near feasible. Living on Mars will be highly dangerous, highly uncomfortable and probably not sustainable with the current technology.

    I understand the feeling that people would like a backup for when we have screwed up the earth completely, but even if the earths atmosphere turns toxic because of global warming and sea-bacteria earth will be *way* easier to live on than mars.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday June 21 2018, @09:19PM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Thursday June 21 2018, @09:19PM (#696402) Journal

      Reusable BFRs can get a lot of massive payloads to the surface of Mars (the low-Earth orbit fuel tankers can be reused quickly, but other vehicles will be destined to sit around on Mars initially, at maybe $400-500 million a pop). Compare to the costs associated with SLS. Supplies and hopefully robots capable of assembling structures can be sent in advance.

      There are plenty of convincing ways that radiation could be kept to a minimum in the living space. One design is Mars Ice Dome [nasa.gov]. A large amount of ISS-tier food can be sent with BFR, and they could set up a greenhouse for some diet supplementation. Ice water can be obtained on Mars, with more ease depending on the landing site.

      Comfort could end up better than the ISS since astronauts would not be in a microgravity environment.

      The feasibility of a colony depends on funding. Since SpaceX/Musk is highly unlikely to pay for a full-fledged colonization effort, we can dismiss it for now. However, getting 5-10 astronauts in living quarters on Mars is definitely achievable.

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    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday June 22 2018, @03:10AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 22 2018, @03:10AM (#696572) Journal

      Elon Musks pipedreams of a mars colony are nowhere near feasible. Living on Mars will be highly dangerous, highly uncomfortable and probably not sustainable with the current technology.

      Unless, of course, your unfounded statement happens to be false. Then it would be feasible. My view is that I have better things to do than tell smart people what is infeasible.

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