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Space Shuttle Flights Beyond 2010  
User currently offlineMichlis From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 737 posts, RR: 2
Posted (6 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 5493 times:

A Congressman from Florida has proposed legislation that would keep the shuttle flying beyond 2010 and until Orion is ready to fly. It looks more like a political move than a whole-hearted attempt, but who knows what will happen in the Wonderful World of DC.

http://www.spacepolitics.com/2007/12...d-plan-for-a-shuttle-soft-landing/


If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the outcome of a hundred battles.
20 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineDfwRevolution From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 977 posts, RR: 51
Reply 1, posted (6 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 5443 times:

I've seen two different versions of this proposal, which have vastly different implications:


The first would have NASA continue flying the Shuttle as scheduled through 2010. After the ISS is completed in 2010, the Shuttle program would go to "serial processing" and fly two logistic flights per year until Orion enters service in 2014-2015.

The second version would have NASA convert to serial processing sometime in 2008. NASA would fly just twice a year from now until 2015, with the ISS not reaching completion for many more years. No new flights would be manifest, instead we would just stretch the current flights over 5 more years.


If it's the second version we're talking about, I'd want no part of it. But I would welcome some additional Shuttle flights after 2010 provided it would not compromise the schedule of Orion. If I could suggest an option three, I think the absolute best scenario would be:

- Continue flying the Shuttle as planned through 2010
- Go to serial processing and fly two logistic flights/year through 2013
- Cancel Ares I immediately
- Contract Orion launch to ULA for a period of X-years (meaning Delta IV-H)
- Have manned Orion flight no later than mid-2013
- Take a wait-and-see approach on Ares V


User currently offlineMichlis From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 737 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (6 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 5433 times:



Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 1):
Contract Orion launch to ULA for a period of X-years (meaning Delta IV-H)

That would require man-rating the Delta IV, although I recall reading that man-rating the Delta IV and the Atlas V was being considered. Also, there is the Space X Falcon 9. Presumbly, it will be man-rated to carry the manned version of the Dragon.



If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the outcome of a hundred battles.
User currently offlineRedFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 4329 posts, RR: 28
Reply 3, posted (6 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 5417 times:



Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 1):
the Shuttle program would go to "serial processing" and fly two logistic flights per year until Orion enters service

Wouldn't the cost for doing that be exhorbitant and far more risky from an astronaut-safety standpoint than just launching some Soyuz/Progress vehicles for logistics purposes?



My other home is a Piper Cherokee 180C
User currently offlineThorny From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (6 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 5383 times:



Quoting Michlis (Thread starter):
A Congressman from Florida has proposed legislation that would keep the shuttle flying beyond 2010 and until Orion is ready to fly. It looks more like a political move than a whole-hearted attempt, but who knows what will happen in the Wonderful World of DC.

The chances of this plan succeeding are somewhere between slim and none. Congress couldn't even get an extra $1 billion to cover Katrina repairs for NASA, nevermind $10 billion. And then there is the Columbia Accident Investigation Board recommendation to do a complete recertification all the way down to the subsystem level if the Shuttle is to fly beyond 2010. Both NASA and the President already accepted that recommendation, and Congress implicity agreed as they did not offer legislation against it at the time.

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 1):
I've seen two different versions of this proposal, which have vastly different implications:

There is also a third proposal, one from Florida Senator Bill Nelson (who flew on STS-61C) to add one more Shuttle flight in 2010-2011, primarily to launch the AMS payload which presently has no ride to the Space Station. This proposal has a much greater chance of success.

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 1):
The first would have NASA continue flying the Shuttle as scheduled through 2010. After the ISS is completed in 2010, the Shuttle program would go to "serial processing" and fly two logistic flights per year until Orion enters service in 2014-2015.

This makes no sense. The Shuttle program will cost ~$3 billion per year whether we fly two or six missions per year. The huge majority of Shuttle spending is on the infrastructure, and that is largely independent of flight rate (unless you want to go beyond 7-8 per year.) If we're going to fly the Shuttle, we might as well make it 4-5 flights per year and get our money's worth from the infrastructure costs. An additional Hubble mission in 2012 or so would be very handy.

Quoting Michlis (Reply 2):
That would require man-rating the Delta IV, although I recall reading that man-rating the Delta IV and the Atlas V was being considered.

No, that seems to have been ground-ruled out. Probably politicians don't want that many people to lose their jobs and vote against them. NASA previously offered up some very flimsy excuses why Ares I was better than Delta IV or Atlas V (reasons essentially now null and void due to problems and redesigns of Ares I.)

Quoting RedFlyer (Reply 3):
Wouldn't the cost for doing that be exhorbitant and far more risky from an astronaut-safety standpoint than just launching some Soyuz/Progress vehicles for logistics purposes?

Yes, but the cost isn't the point. The point is to make sure the U.S. is not dependent on another country for access to space. NASA's current agreement with Russia for Soyuz flights ends in 2012 and will have to be renegotiated. Anyone want to guess how much the price will go up once the U.S. has no independent capability of its own?


User currently offlineRedFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 4329 posts, RR: 28
Reply 5, posted (6 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 5375 times:



Quoting Thorny (Reply 4):
The point is to make sure the U.S. is not dependent on another country for access to space.

Good point, and given the Russian's eratic behavior of late on the international scene that is not a good prospect. But I will point out that we will retain a lot of access to space during those few years, just not of the manned variety. And since for the foreseeable future the requirement for manned spaceflight will be to the ISS, I would think the requirement for manned space flight can be "outsourced" for the interim. Perhaps the Shuttle could be retained in a standby status in the event of some international incident whereby the Russians would refuse provide any manned space flight capability for the U.S. Perhaps keep two ships in different modes of storage; one that would allow a flight in, say, 90 days and another that would allow for flight in 180 days (or some similar scheme). I would think that would be far more cost-effective than continuing Shuttle flights beyond 2010 as well as insuring against any unforseen political developments.



My other home is a Piper Cherokee 180C
User currently offlineCloudy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (6 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 4893 times:



Quoting Thorny (Reply 4):
No, that seems to have been ground-ruled out. Probably politicians don't want that many people to lose their jobs and vote against them. NASA previously offered up some very flimsy excuses why Ares I was better than Delta IV or Atlas V (reasons essentially now null and void due to problems and redesigns of Ares I.)

I seem to remember Griffin saying that Constellation would require 80% of the workforce of the shuttle/ISS programs, and he seemed to believe this was a GOOD thing. Its not just Congress, it is the NASA bureaucracy that benefits from the huge number of people needed to run the shuttle. Plus, its human nature. No organization likes mass layoffs. When they happen they are forced from above. We care about the people we work with, and don't want to see them endure hardship. The new jobs that result from greater efficiency are not as visible as the poor guys getting the pink slip.

One other reason Griffin seems to want Ares I is that building it would make Ares V cheaper and more likely to be built. It is advertised that there are a lot of parts in Ares I that could easily be adapted for V, such as the updated J2 upper stage engine and the 5 segment booster. In his mind, Ares I and V are a unit. You can't have one without the other. Maybe that is true, I don't know.

Suppose we go with Delta IV for Orion. Could Delta IV or Atlas V be scaled up to something equivalent to Ares V? Ive seen ideas for doing so but don't know how practical they are.

Quoting RedFlyer (Reply 5):
Perhaps the Shuttle could be retained in a standby status in the event of some international incident whereby the Russians would refuse provide any manned space flight capability for the U.S.

Standby capability for the shuttle would be relatively expensive, because of the infrastructure costs that Thorny mentions. Also, the shuttle uses a lot of unique and specialized labor. By the time you have to take the thing out of mothballs, it would be difficult to assemble all the people you would need. They would have all retired or gone to different jobs. My guess is that accelerating the Orion program would be a cheaper way to close the gap. If closing the gap is that important.


User currently offlineThorny From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (6 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 4860 times:



Quoting Cloudy (Reply 6):
I seem to remember Griffin saying that Constellation would require 80% of the workforce of the shuttle/ISS programs, and he seemed to believe this was a GOOD thing.

He didn't have a say. Congress mandated that Constellation use Shuttle infrastructure and personnel to the greatest extent possible. That's why the EELVs are off the table.

Quoting Cloudy (Reply 6):
One other reason Griffin seems to want Ares I is that building it would make Ares V cheaper and more likely to be built. It is advertised that there are a lot of parts in Ares I that could easily be adapted for V, such as the updated J2 upper stage engine and the 5 segment booster.

The Jupiter vehicle (of the DIRECT proposal) would avoid most of the pitfalls of Ares I, and give us about 80% of what we need for Ares V-class launch capability (We'd only need to develop the Stage 2 and J-2 engine later on for the lunar missons, instead of a whole new vehicle like Ares V). And it would do it for less money and much sooner. But Griffin won't listen, and is dooming Constellation by staying with the turkey Ares I. Since Constellation will not have even flown one piece of hardware by next Jan 20, Constellation will certainly be killed by President Obama, and is only a little more likely to survive a Clinton or McCain presidency. Good job, Griffin.  Sad


User currently offlineRedFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 4329 posts, RR: 28
Reply 8, posted (6 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 4843 times:



Quoting Cloudy (Reply 6):
Standby capability for the shuttle would be relatively expensive, because of the infrastructure costs that Thorny mentions. Also, the shuttle uses a lot of unique and specialized labor. By the time you have to take the thing out of mothballs, it would be difficult to assemble all the people you would need. They would have all retired or gone to different jobs. My guess is that accelerating the Orion program would be a cheaper way to close the gap. If closing the gap is that important.

I agree with everything you point out. I was just throwing a possibility out there in the event the Russians turn out to be not so reliable and if the gap between Shuttle and Orion proves to be longer than desirable from a national strategic standpoint. In the end, though, it would be much more desirable as you point out to close the gap between the Shuttle and Orion.



My other home is a Piper Cherokee 180C
User currently offlineAreopagus From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 1369 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (6 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 4832 times:



Quoting Thorny (Reply 4):
NASA previously offered up some very flimsy excuses why Ares I was better than Delta IV or Atlas V (reasons essentially now null and void due to problems and redesigns of Ares I.)

ISTR that it was stated in this forum that Delta IV or Atlas V use a more highly lofted trajectory, that would yield excessively high G forces in the event of an abort; and that depressing the trajectory would drop the payload capability too much. Do I recall right? Is that indeed a problem?


User currently offlineThorny From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (6 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 4828 times:



Quoting Areopagus (Reply 9):
ISTR that it was stated in this forum that Delta IV or Atlas V use a more highly lofted trajectory, that would yield excessively high G forces in the event of an abort; and that depressing the trajectory would drop the payload capability too much. Do I recall right? Is that indeed a problem?

That was the reason given at the time, but both Boeing and Lockheed-Martin have largely debunked it. Note that Lockheed-Martin (now ULA) is now in deep negotiations to launch manned spacecraft for Bigelow on Atlas V. If its good enough for private industry, why isn't it good enough for NASA?

The question at the time was, "which is easier, tweaking an EELV which has a whole lot of growth potential to overcome lofting and other mass issues, or designing a new booster around a Shuttle SRB and a new upper stage?" When the SRB was off-the-shelf Shuttle heritage and the upper stage was to use the off-the-shelf Space Shuttle Main Engine, a case could be made for Ares I. Now that neither is the case, the decision should be reconsidered. But NASA's bureaucracy, reportedly from the top down, simply refuses to even think about it.

The weight problem seems to be a red herring. NASA has already scaled down Orion to fit on Ares I at least once, and it is widely expected that more weight-cutting (and corresponding capability reduction) is imminent due to Ares I performance issues. If they could scale down Orion for Ares, why not for Delta IV-Heavy?


User currently offlineCloudy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (6 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 4766 times:



Quoting Thorny (Reply 10):
If its good enough for private industry, why isn't it good enough for NASA?

Bigelow and company just want a crew taxi. It would be low endurance, LEO only, just to get up and quickly dock with something. Orion is a lot more and I'm sure the weight estimates reflect that. Bigelow's single, focused mission makes it less likely to experience a lot of weight growth. I am more inclined to believe you, actually. But this would be Griffin and company's excuse and I can't think of any answer for it offhand.


User currently offlineRwessel From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2353 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (6 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 4758 times:
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Quoting RedFlyer (Reply 8):
I agree with everything you point out. I was just throwing a possibility out there in the event the Russians turn out to be not so reliable and if the gap between Shuttle and Orion proves to be longer than desirable from a national strategic standpoint.

It might be embarrassing for the U.S. to lack a manned capability for an extended period, but what "national strategic" considerations are there?

If the Russians were to cut us off from ISS completely (assuming Soyuz became the only available manned launch vehicle), it would cause a diplomatic firestorm, but it certainly wouldn't be any great practical loss to the U.S.


User currently offlineRedFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 4329 posts, RR: 28
Reply 13, posted (6 years 7 months 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 4715 times:



Quoting Rwessel (Reply 12):
It might be embarrassing for the U.S. to lack a manned capability for an extended period, but what "national strategic" considerations are there?

Manned spaceflight is a very unique and highly skilled and very hi-tech capability. That is why, after over half a century of spaceflight, there are only three nations in the world that can put a human into space. The longer the gap between manned space flights the longer and more costly it becomes to regain your footing. As Cloudy pointed out in his Reply #6 (although it was specific to the Shuttle), over time the skillsets that put those humans into space and maintained the know-how retire, go elsewhere, or simply die-off. Not to mention the fact that the basic industrial infrastructure is lost. I could be wrong, but I think it is the stated policy of the U.S. to maintain manned spaceflight as a strategic interest. Manned spaceflight reflects the sophistication of a nation's industrial ability. And that ability goes to the heart of military capability. It's no coincidence that the only three countries in the world that can put a man into space are also considered in some aspects to be adversaries (and two of them definitely were at one time).

Quoting Rwessel (Reply 12):
If the Russians were to cut us off from ISS completely (assuming Soyuz became the only available manned launch vehicle), it would cause a diplomatic firestorm, but it certainly wouldn't be any great practical loss to the U.S.

Considering how much money the U.S. has poured into ISS, I believe it would be a very "practical" loss to the U.S. and tantamount to outright "theft" if the Russians denied the U.S. access to ISS.



My other home is a Piper Cherokee 180C
User currently offlineFlighty From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 8544 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (6 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 4647 times:



Quoting Thorny (Reply 4):

This makes no sense. The Shuttle program will cost ~$3 billion per year whether we fly two or six missions per year. The huge majority of Shuttle spending is on the infrastructure, and that is largely independent of flight rate (unless you want to go beyond 7-8 per year.) If we're going to fly the Shuttle, we might as well make it 4-5 flights per year

Very interesting. So is this a mis-calculation of operating costs vs overhead costs?

Are they looking at a "$750 million per flight" statistic beliving they can reduce the budget by cutting flghts, while that is incorrect?

If you are right, then they really don't understand the Shuttle cost model. And there would be constant pressure to reduce missions.

So what's the true story? How much do the fuel and non-reusable parts really cost per mission for NASA? They already pay the astronauts and mechanics regardless of mission tempo it would seem (approximately).


User currently offlineThorny From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (6 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 4617 times:



Quoting Flighty (Reply 14):
Are they looking at a "$750 million per flight" statistic beliving they can reduce the budget by cutting flghts, while that is incorrect?

They tried to reduce manpower (the main expense of the Shuttle program) by reducing flight rate. It didn't work. We went from Shuttle flights costing about $500 million in 1997 to $750 million today. We might have saved enough to pay for an extra Mars probe, but whatever we saved, we lost later by not having manpower to end the Shuttle program in 2 or 3 years after RTF (the manifest could have flown out in just over two years at 1997 manpower levels. It will take over 5 to fly out now, and might be extended into FY2011.)

Quoting Flighty (Reply 14):
If you are right, then they really don't understand the Shuttle cost model. And there would be constant pressure to reduce missions.

Welcome to the wonderful world of government accounting. Many have tried to understand it. All have failed.  Smile

Quoting Flighty (Reply 14):
So what's the true story? How much do the fuel and non-reusable parts really cost per mission for NASA? They already pay the astronauts and mechanics regardless of mission tempo it would seem (approximately).

I've read "about $150 million" many times. Reportedly, that's how much it cost to add the STS-83 reflight (STS-94) in 1997. That figure also came up frequently in the debate on whether or not to fly one last Hubble mission.

NASA's 2004 contract for 35 External Tanks cost $1.15 billion, or about $33 million each (which seems low, I've heard around $50 million for the old Lightweight Tank and $65 million for the Super Lightweight Tank, perhaps NASA provided the Aluminum-Lithium, which would add about 33% more. Maybe NASA also pays the utility bills at Michoud.)

The rest is the hydrogen, hydrazine, tetroxide, and solid propellant, and trasnportation thereof, plus various and sundry other parts that need to be replaced after each flight.


User currently offlineFlighty From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 8544 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (6 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 4598 times:



Quoting Thorny (Reply 15):

I've read "about $150 million" many times. Reportedly, that's how much it cost to add the STS-83 reflight (STS-94) in 1997. That figure also came up frequently in the debate on whether or not to fly one last Hubble mission.

Wow, then it seems like keeping the Shuttle alive at very low mission tempo is a terrible idea. Why not get the flying done pronto, and put the Shuttle to bed early... JMO.

Sounds like adding missions and front-loading the needs of 2011-2015 would be a wise thing to do now, while the Shuttle is still hot.


User currently offlineAreopagus From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 1369 posts, RR: 1
Reply 17, posted (6 years 7 months 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 4512 times:



Quoting RedFlyer (Reply 13):
Considering how much money the U.S. has poured into ISS, I believe it would be a very "practical" loss to the U.S. and tantamount to outright "theft" if the Russians denied the U.S. access to ISS.

If the US abandons its own independent means of accessing ISS, it's not the Russians' fault.


User currently offlineWvsuperhornet From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 517 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (6 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 4481 times:



Quoting Michlis (Thread starter):
A Congressman from Florida has proposed legislation that would keep the shuttle flying beyond 2010 and until Orion is ready to fly. It looks more like a political move than a whole-hearted attempt, but who knows what will happen in the Wonderful World of DC.

Oh Joy!!!!


User currently offlineRwessel From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2353 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (6 years 7 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 4470 times:
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Quoting RedFlyer (Reply 13):
Manned spaceflight is a very unique and highly skilled and very hi-tech capability. That is why, after over half a century of spaceflight, there are only three nations in the world that can put a human into space.

The first part I can agree with, although it's "hi-tech" in a very application specific way, with little application outside of space flight. And the second is likely more lack of interest in spending the money required for that particular bit of chest thumping. The Europeans and Japanese are both clearly capably of putting a human in orbit in a few years, if they wanted to spend the bucks.

Quoting RedFlyer (Reply 13):
Manned spaceflight reflects the sophistication of a nation's industrial ability. And that ability goes to the heart of military capability.

No, and no. As to the first, you just need 1960s era technology. Heck, that's what the Russians are *still* using. Or perhaps you could use early 70's technology and build a Shuttle clone. And mind you that the Russian used their 60’s era technology to build a whole series of space stations, that last of which, MIR, is virtually indistinguishable from ISS.

As for the second part, part of the reason the Russians beat the U.S. in the early days of space flight is their *inferior* technology, which required them to have absurdly large (by contemporary U.S. standards) boosters for their ICBMs. Those applied nicely to spaceflight.

Quoting RedFlyer (Reply 13):
over time the skillsets that put those humans into space and maintained the know-how retire, go elsewhere, or simply die-off. Not to mention the fact that the basic industrial infrastructure is lost. I could be wrong, but I think it is the stated policy of the U.S. to maintain manned spaceflight as a strategic interest.

True, but that gets back to the question of what the purpose is. Face it, from a scientific perspective manned spaceflight has been a huge money pit so far, with darn little to show for it (for the amount spent). The purported technological and economic benefits are grossly overblown by manned spaceflight supporters as well (no, the microchip was not developed for the space program, it was developed for ICBMs). The future plans that have any connection with reality also appear to lack much scientific value. If you'd leave the science budget for science, and funded manned spaceflight out of the vainglory budget, I'd be a lot happier.

Quoting RedFlyer (Reply 13):
Considering how much money the U.S. has poured into ISS, I believe it would be a very "practical" loss to the U.S. and tantamount to outright "theft" if the Russians denied the U.S. access to ISS.

Sunk costs are not indicative of value. What are you hoping to accomplish on ISS? NASA certainly doesn't know - their list is absurdly short and uninteresting. Mainly the justification is completely circular - we're studying how to run ISS, so we can figure out how to run ISS. Work on a Mars mission? Heck, between the serious lack of funding, and the continuing lack of progress even defining the launch vehicles, we'll be lucky if we're back on the moon in 20 years rather than the dozen in the current timeline. While some of the bits of science *are* interesting, the scientific community is essentially unanimous that the resulting costs for those studies are beyond exorbitant for the envisioned return of knowledge.

Science has *never* figured significantly in the U.S. manned space program. It’s been used as a fig leaf for the exercise any number of times, however. Perhaps you remember the cancelation of Apollo 18-20? This saved a miniscule amount of money from the program, and eliminated a majority of the lunar science. A few museums did get the *already complete* flight hardware (we used one S-V to launch Skylab – which we also abandoned), which certainly made for some cool displays.

Yes, it’s cool. But that’s not a valid justification for spending the money.

And it's not any kind of theft on the Russian's part if there's no agreement that they provide us with transportation services to/from ISS, if we abandon our own. Heck it would probably be a net gain for us.


User currently offlineRedFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 4329 posts, RR: 28
Reply 20, posted (6 years 7 months 1 week 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 4336 times:



Quoting Rwessel (Reply 19):
The first part I can agree with, although it's "hi-tech" in a very application specific way, with little application outside of space flight.

I don't think that's necessarily true. Any hi-tech application typically offers a benefit elsewhere or eventually leads to a refinement or an off-shoot that does. And in the current space flight environment (austere budgets and other limitations) we're probably seeing a reverse of the 1960s in that earthbound applications are being used to enable future spaceflight whereas in the 1960s spaceflight was the progenitor of most hi-tech earthbound applications.

Quoting Rwessel (Reply 19):
And the second is likely more lack of interest in spending the money required for that particular bit of chest thumping.

You'd be surprised how much of history (I would venture to guess a majority of it) has been shaped from an innate human proclivity to "thump" one's chest.

Quoting Rwessel (Reply 19):
The Europeans and Japanese are both clearly capably of putting a human in orbit in a few years, if they wanted to spend the bucks.

The Europeans, definitely, and they came close with a program called Hermes. The Japanese have had some problems getting into space and their focus has been primarily scientific so I think it would be considerably more difficult for them to cross the bridge of putting a human into space. But, that brings up a very good contrast as well as similarity: The Europeans have been very successful at gaining access to space because they allowed it to be driven by commercial interests (Arianespace). The Japanese, on the other hand, have been trying to gain a footing in the space game and have had a mediocre performance - and the Japanese seem to have gotten into the space game for purely nationalistic interests. So what's the similarity? The Europeans originally got into the space game for nationalistic (European) interests as well. The difference is they persisted at it and were fortunate that the seed they planted blossomed into a very successful commercial venture. "Chest-thumping" can have its benefits!  Wink

Quoting Rwessel (Reply 19):
Quoting RedFlyer (Reply 13):
Manned spaceflight reflects the sophistication of a nation's industrial ability. And that ability goes to the heart of military capability.

No, and no. As to the first, you just need 1960s era technology. Heck, that's what the Russians are *still* using. Or perhaps you could use early 70's technology and build a Shuttle clone. And mind you that the Russian used their 60’s era technology to build a whole series of space stations, that last of which, MIR, is virtually indistinguishable from ISS.

When it comes to manned spaceflight, perhaps that "1960's era technology" was so far ahead of its time that we are just now catching up to it. After all, when the Chinese endeavored to become the third manned space-faring nation they didn't rely purely on current technologies - they turned to the tried-and-true Russian "1960's era technology". Their Shenzhou is considered nothing more than a warmed-over Soyuz.

Nevertheless, regardless of what "era" the technology emanates from, it does go to the heart of military capabilities. There are only three nations that currently have the ability to shoot-down orbiting satellites. Is it any coincidence that those same three are the only ones that have put a man into space?

Quoting Rwessel (Reply 19):
Face it, from a scientific perspective manned spaceflight has been a huge money pit so far, with darn little to show for it (for the amount spent). The purported technological and economic benefits are grossly overblown by manned spaceflight supporters as well (no, the microchip was not developed for the space program, it was developed for ICBMs). The future plans that have any connection with reality also appear to lack much scientific value. If you'd leave the science budget for science, and funded manned spaceflight out of the vainglory budget, I'd be a lot happier.

Here I can't argue with anything you've said because I think it's spot on. However, I tend to view manned space flight as the future of the human race. So, to me personally (and many others), no amount of money spent is money wasted. On the other hand, you (and many others) view it from a practicality point-of-view (I say that with all respect). So is the glass half-full or is it half-empty? Or is it just the wrong-sized glass?  Smile

Quoting Rwessel (Reply 19):
Sunk costs are not indicative of value. What are you hoping to accomplish on ISS? NASA certainly doesn't know - their list is absurdly short and uninteresting. Mainly the justification is completely circular - we're studying how to run ISS, so we can figure out how to run ISS

Can't argue with you on this point either. I think the ISS has been a tremendously expensive effort in "let's all do something together to make ourselves feel good". IMO, it's been a huge waste of valuable resources. But, that still does not detract from the fact that if the Russians deliberately cut off our access to ISS and continued to use it on their own then it would be tantamount to theft. I don't think they would do it because of that very reason.



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