22 thoughts on “Space Crazed

  1. ken anthony

    It doesn’t cost enough to put a BA330 in orbit to interest NASA.

    You could buy a BA330 for about $100m. FH could put it into orbit for another $100m. The upper stage that put it there could be bought for a song giving you 90% of a six crew general purpose ship (and a market for kerosene and LOX.)

    Private companies could rent this ship to NASA for various missions.

    A SSTO on the moon with a supply ship in Lunar orbit or EML1 and suddenly lunar operations are relatively cheap.

  2. Pro Libertate

    Others here would know better than I, but it seems to me that NASA needs programs such that they can maintain their current infrastructure. Coming in and saying leave the heaving lifting to SPaceX, Bigelow, and others would mean fewer people on the payroll.

    1. Larry J

      The first priority for any government agency is to perpetuate itself. The second priority is to grow. Accomplishing the actual intended mission of the agency is a much lower priority.

      Most people don’t care very much about space. Politicians care most of all about themselves, so they only care about space to the degree that it’ll help their careers. Getting pork to their district is a time-proven technique for staying in office, so if a politician has a lot of space-related spending in his district, he cares about space. Doing things smarter for less money just isn’t a priority, either for the agencies or for the politicians.

      1. Pro Libertate

        It’s a fundamental truth about government, yet an increasing number of people want government to handle important activities. It makes no sense to me.

        1. Larry J

          Years ago, I read a quote attributed (probably inaccurately) to Thomas Edison that went, “Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”

          While the quote’s authorship is in question, its accuracy isn’t. Thinking for yourself is hard and you may have to live with unpleasant consequences. Better to let someone else take care of you from cradle to crematorium.

      2. Edward Wright

        The first priority for any government agency is to perpetuate itself.

        Not true. There are “sunset” agencies that are created with specific time limits.

        One notable example is the Corps of Discovery.

        Unfortunately, most of the people who talk about “Lewis and Clark exploration” haven’t read enough history to understand that.

        1. Thomas Matula

          Edward,

          Maybe you need to read more history. The Corps of Discovery wasn’t a government agency, it was a unit of the U.S. Army.

          The U.S. Army decommissions units all the time when their need has past.

          1. Thomas Matula

            Edward,

            I know you are weak on current events but the U.S. Army is still a government agency, they have not been “sunset” as you claim above in referring to the Corps of Discovery. And the U.S. Army continued to have a key role in exploring the American West until the development of railroads resulted in the closing of the Western frontier.

        2. Larry J

          The Corps of Discovery is a good example of a component of an agency (in this case the US Army) instead of an agency itself. The Army continues while components within it come and go. Believe me, the Army is bent on self-preservation as an organization.

  3. Thomas Matula

    The problem is I don’t believe NASA has had any serious interest in deep space missions since Apollo. The HSF programs since then, like Shuttle, ISS, SLS and Orion have existed only to keep the pork flowing to the districts of the Congress Critters.

    The only thing NASA seems to have any sustained interest in is the search for life and human missions are never going to be a part of that search, despite hand waving to the contrary, as the microbes we carry will probably taint the results.

    1. Edward Wright

      Humans have been gathering microbes for hundreds of years. Any competent biologist knows how to handle contamination.

      If your argument were true, we couldn’t do microbiology on Earth.

      1. Thomas Matula

        Edward,

        As usual you don’t get it. The problem is that you see it as a matter of true or false. NASA on the other hands sees it as their mission to prevent the contamination of the Solar System :-)

        http://planetaryprotection.nasa.gov/

        [[[The mission of the Office of Planetary Protection is to minimize the biological contamination that may result from exploring the solar system.]]]

        NASA’s the mission of the Office of Planetary Protection becomes a lot easier when you leave the humans in Earth orbit :-)

        1. Edward Wright

          The Office of Planetary Protection is not all of NASA. It is only one small office.

          I think you’re confusing them with the Men In Black.

          1. Thomas Matula

            Edward,

            And like the Men in Black they will visit you if you plan to go to Mars or some other destination that requires protection and tell you no, you are not getting a license to do so. :-)

  4. Ed Minchau

    I want to draw everyone’s attention to Kerbal Space Program.

    kerbalspaceprogram.com

    Have an idea of how space should be exploited? Try it out in the game. The free version allows you to build and fly your rockets and little green men to the moon; the full (paid) version allows spaceplanes, docking, propellant depots and habs and lots of other different modules that click together like Legos.

  5. Fletcher Christian

    Orion is adequate for any mission so far proposed. The real one, that is, that von Braun managed to kill in 1962.

    1. ken anthony

      As much as I like the simplicity of the original Orion (those that think it complicated don’t understand it) I think Zubrin’s NSWR is worth pursuing.

      Either would suggest the seriousness of a space program (which is only likely in the unlikely event of alien attack.)

  6. Fletcher Christian

    Ken, I’ve noted that both the Polywell and focus fusion designs are stated by the respective teams to be capable (should they get either of them working, not entirely unlikely) of having their field geometry tweaked to make them into fusion motors.

    I’m neither a rocket scientist nor a physicist, but it seems to me that a NSWR is pretty much fail-deadly. Not so much an Orion drive; after all, in Orion the fuel exploding is pretty much the idea.

  7. ken anthony

    NSWR is pretty much fail-deadly

    Is it? It’s plumbing. Plumbing does fail, but it’s because it doesn’t fail often enough to be inspected. With automated inspection failure is an option… and easily mitigated. We are talking about a very low pressure system with so much thrust it can easily be over built. If we can’t handle it we should give up the idea of space exploration. It’s obviously too much for us.

    The biggest problem is not going to be operational. It’s biggest problem is the politics of development. Making it work is not a theoretical problem like Polywell and focus fusion (my best to both) we already know that a sufficient concentration of nuclear salt will fuse and will propel. To your point, it’s really safe to handle if we keep it well below that concentration until required.

    1. ken anthony

      These are next century needs anyway. Chemical and ion engines give us the entire inner solar system (out to the belts and beyond.)

      Next century we are going to need very high energy solutions. High energy always has the potential for fantastic failures, but we are going to have to learn to manage them regardless.

  8. ken anthony

    I don’t believe NASA has had any serious interest in deep space missions

    Why would they? (ignoring their charter.) They have been [partly] successful exploring without sending people while avoiding the greater cost and risk.

    The motivation for people is profit and freedom. It just takes time to realize those things already exist. Somebody has to show the way… so everybody else can tell us how obvious it always was.

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