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Jeff Foust says that, when it comes to commercial space, NASA may at long last be (in the word of Paul Dietz, a frequent commenter here) bowing to reality.
I suspect he'll have more tomorrow at The Space Review.
Clark Lindsey also has an interesting wrap-up on the subject from Jim Muncy in Las Vegas:
Getting another "big idea" accepted is also making progress. Large scale space settlement must become the primary goal of the space program. No Antarctica-like outposts on the Moon but Las Vegas-es instead. Griffin, in fact, stated in testimony to Congress that human expansion into the solar system is his long term vision for space policy. However, this big idea is still foreign to many at NASA, in Congress, the press and the general public.
We have to continue to work to change that.Posted by Rand Simberg at July 24, 2005 03:26 PM
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NASA Finally Gives in to Commercializing Space
Excerpt: Hat tip: Transterrestrial Musings After the moon landing in 1969, mankind dreamed of being able to go personally into space. We then witnessed the next 35 years where NASA seemed to be taking steps backward rather than forward. Part of the proble...
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Tracked: July 24, 2005 09:02 PM
I think that both Chris and Brant said some pretty amazing things. Not only did Chris say that they can't do this without us, but Brant said that their interface to us was going to be vastly different than before. Not only does it seem we've won the fight on commercial involvement but we also seem to have won the point about the disincentives of cost-plus, prizes, and the need to find alternative methods for helping the industry get from here to there.
Now its our turn. We all have to start executing on these new opportunities.Posted by Michael Mealling at July 24, 2005 04:35 PM
Is this progress, though? NASA made all sorts of exaggerated claims about how Apollo would lead to hotels on the Moon, etc.
Griffin may have told Congress that human expansion was his long-term vision, but he has not repudiated the Planetary Society report that said it's impossible to reduce launch costs for the next 40 years. In fact, his VSE architecture seems to be a direct copy of the report.
He has been making some encouraging noises about commercialization, but from his comments about "human rating" and separating crew from cargo indicate he's only looking for a sightly less expensive version of the CEV.
Having NASA say it's interested in space settlement, mining Helium-3, building solar power satellites, etc. is good if-and-only-if NASA changes its behavior in ways that will enable those things. If NASA doesn't much such changes, then it would be better if Mike Griffin simply told Americans that all they'll ever get out of VSE are some more rocks for the Smithsonian and pictures of government employees on the Moon.
Edward, I think it's time to take yes for an answer. Of course, not only does NASA have to perform, but so does alt.space. Now is the time to make good on promises made.Posted by Mark R. Whittington at July 24, 2005 08:37 PM
Ed: "the Planetary Society report that said it's impossible to reduce launch costs for the next 40 years"
No, the report said: "we will assume that the present launch costs of $9-11 K per kg will continue for the next 40 years."
There was no mention of impossibility. But it was a reasonable approximation to make given how little thought the upper levels of DOD and NASA give to chemical rocket alternatives.Posted by Kevin Parkin at July 24, 2005 09:16 PM
"During the time frame addressed by this report -- the next several decades -- the cost of access to Earth orbit can hardly be less than several thousand dollars per kilogram."
Sounds like a statement of impossibility to me.
> But it was a reasonable approximation to make given how little thought the upper levels of
NASA and DoD have poured untold billions into scramjets and other alternatives -- but that's beside the point.
What makes you think chemical rockets have to cost thousands of dollars per kilogram of payload? Do you know how much rocket propellants cost?Posted by Edward Wright at July 24, 2005 10:22 PM
> What makes you think chemical rockets have to cost thousands of dollars per kilogram of payload? Do you know how much rocket propellants cost?
Straw man -- nobody sensible has ever claimed that high $/kg to orbit is due to the cost of propellants.Posted by Geezer at July 25, 2005 12:58 AM
The major problem with chemical rockets is the low energy density of the propellants. It means the vehicles look like blimps, and like blimps are flimsy and weak.
If you had a liquid fuel with the energy density of Kerosene and the ISP of LH2, room temperature, you would be all set. Of course the more the better.
For the long term I think the only realistic alternatives are beamed and pulsed nuclear propulsion. Ignoring anti-matter and their ilk for now.
Solar is great for probes or space tugs in the inner solar system, but not much else.
Clark Lindsey has hit it on the head. The average person in the 21st century does not have the pioneering spirit. However they would visit, "Las Vegas-es" on the moon. Or vacation on a space station or platform on a buckeyball tether.
It may be the only way for us to get space / the moon opened up to us. the average joe.
Privatization is the only way it will ever happen. Virgin Galactic or Trump's Mare Ibrium Lunar C@sino and Hotel or Bally's Moonapaloosa.
Day trips to first lunar landing site, see the concierge!!
"Loosest slot this side of Tranquility Base."
"One small roll for man, One GIANT jackpot for a lucky slot player"
I remember seeing, in the sunday funny papers when I was a kid, a "This is your Future" kind of deal. It was showing billboards on the moon that could be seen from earth. A poor use of that beautiful landscape. But until the feds get out of, and private money gets into space / the moon, or even Mars, we are stuck to this big blue marble. IMHO, anyway.Posted by Steve at July 25, 2005 07:09 AM
What happens on the Moon, stays on the Moon.Posted by Sam Dinkin at July 25, 2005 08:00 AM
Where did you get that idea? You're apparently thinking of the old pressure-stabilized Atlas. There's an old story about an engineer trying to show how "flimsy and weak" Atlas was by hitting it with a hammer. The hammer bounced off and broke his glasses.
Chemical rockets work quite well with dense propellants like kerosene and LOX. Scramjets and atomic engines, on the other hand, almost inevitably require low-density liquid hydrogen.
So, even if what you say were true (it isn't) and even if it was the reason current rockets are expensive (it isn't), the proposed solution would be exactly the wrong one.
> If you had a liquid fuel with the energy density of Kerosene and
We don't need the Isp of LH2. The Isp of kerosene is just fine.
> For the long term I think the only realistic alternatives are beamed and
As a general rule of thumb, the word "realistic" does not belong in the same sentence with any propulsion system that involves nuclear bombs or antimatter. :-)Posted by Edward Wright at July 25, 2005 02:46 PM
So, I guess those REI stores will never catch on? :-)Posted by Edward Wright at July 25, 2005 02:47 PM
I don't think that the average person of any century has the pioneering spirit. I submit it is the lot in life of the above average to carry that torch in any century.Posted by Mike Puckett at July 25, 2005 05:49 PM
>We don't need the Isp of LH2. The Isp of kerosene is just fine.
Then what are you waiting for. Go out there and change the world!Posted by Kevin Parkin at July 25, 2005 07:31 PM
Edward Wright said:
> The average person in the 21st century does not have the pioneering spirit.
So, I guess those REI stores will never catch on? :-)
It costs about a million dollars per person to climb Mount Everest. So far, almost 1500 people have done it. The PIONEERS were the first dozen or so, who did it without all the fancy gear we have had for the last 30 years or so. Granted many people have died trying the climb.
But when anyone with money and enough time off from the company they own can attempt a feat, it's no longer pioneering.
If you are the first person or part of the first group of people who succeed at doing something NEW, you are a pioneer. Or you may die trying.
There is an oufit in Arizona or New Mexico who do wagon train trips every summer. It's $1500 per head, less for the kids I am sure. I'm sure its alot of hard work, it's also smelly, hot, nasty, dusty, then rainy and muddy. But it is no longer pioneering. Not when you fly home at the end of 14 days and take a shower, eat some microwave popcorn and then go back to work Monday morning, at the Ford Plant.
ACTUAL pioneers, here in the U.S., settled the land west of the Atlantic Ocean, slowly. All the way to the Pacific Ocean. They died on the way, they fought, they drwoned, they starved, their children died in cold weather, etc. Those folks are what I mean by pioneers.
Pioneers are NOT people with a $400 sleeping bag, a $400 pack with $1200 worth of all the right layerable clothing and a $2000 carbon fiber bike, peddling through Yellowstone Park, sticking his nose up at all the MOTORISTS, ewww!
That ain't pioneering, its recreation. See its all about the $$$ to do what you want, and then you GO HOME.
REI even says so on their website, Recreational Equipment, Inc.
If it was PEI, I would bow to you, but it ain't!!
See the conceirge for details, bring your coupon book for FREE MOONBOOT FRIDAY!!!Posted by Steve at July 25, 2005 09:08 PM
Lewis and Clark, Davey Crockett, Daniel Boone, and all those other white men we studied in history class weren't pioneers? (There were tens of thousands of Indians already living in that territory, right?)
> Not when you fly home at the end of 14 days and take a shower, eat some microwave popcorn
That sounds very much like the end of a Mercury or Gemini mission, if you substitute "aircraft carrier" for "Ford Plant." (Ford Plant?)
> REI even says so on their website, Recreational Equipment, Inc.
> If it was PEI, I would bow to you, but it ain't!!
Er, okay. But the Boy Scouts have a Pioneering Merit Badge -- and I suppose they may shop at REI.
Jim Oberg wrote a book called "Space Pioneers." I'm pretty sure it wasn't about people going from the East Coast to the West Coast slowly.
Your definition seems overly limited.
Edward, it’s not MY limited definition of pioneering, it’s from the dictionary. Pioneer and camper / mountain biker are not the same thing. They are NOT even related to each other, I also looked at Roget’s Thesaurus to build my rebuttal.
But, OK, I'll play your silly game.
Yes Misters Lewis, Clark, Crockett and Boone did IN FACT, walk across land already populated with indigenous peoples.
So by your definition ONLY the very first persons who went to the North or South Poles are pioneers. At the poles, No People, No Prior Walking, Living, Hunting, no prior exploration, no one living there, so that is open ground to be pioneered. That’s just silly, Let us look at what Mr. Webster’s folks say about PIONEERING.
Webster’s says of PIONEER:
1 : to open or prepare for others to follow; also : SETTLE
Misters Crockett and Boone, BTW, play heavily in learned history for me, I grew up in Kentucky. Their names are everywhere, as are names like Iroquois, Shawnee and Cherokee. And we were indeed taught that the Indians were there FIRST. The word Kentucky is derived from an Iroquoian word (Kentahten), which means "land of tomorrow." Thanks to Sister Germaine for my 5th grade history “larnin”. It was in Kentucky after all.
Misters Lewis, Clark, Crockett and Boone fall into the “prepare and SETTLE “, part of the definition.
We were also taught, and correctly so, that the Indians did not, cut trees to build houses or plant crops and then to stay put to tend them. They did not domesticate animals for food. They were people who traveled throughout their own tribal lands following the seasons, going back to pre-planted corn or pumpkins or winter squash and following the wild game as needed. They did not stay put and domesticate local the deer or geese for livestock. Nor did they do long term farming. The Indians were not pioneers, their peoples had been there for centuries, traveling periodically over their tribal lands. They were in fact hunter / gatherers, and as such did NOT SETTLE. That’s how they came to be here, previous peoples hunting and gathering across the land bridge and into North America.
The early astronauts, on the other hand were pioneers, because they were opening space up for further exploration. It hadn't been done before.
What I meant by Ford Plant was, the wagon train vacationers normal job at a place where the Ford Company makes cars. He didn’t stay on the wagon train to Oregon and then build farm and stay. I was being broad using Ford as a work place. It could have as easily been Burger King or Microsoft.
Aircraft Carrier in my original blurb, should have been tied to HOME, the place you return to after vacating or recreating. Granted the USS Hornet is not a precise return to home, unless the astronaut is a Naval Officer, previously stationed on board the USS Hornet. Ford Plant should, in the astronaut case, have been tied to NASA, as in where the astronauts work. Not sure how you tied aircraft carrier to Ford Plant, from my statements.
The Boy Scouts, and the Girl Scouts also, do in fact offer merit badges concerning pioneering. My wife and I each earned one. But we both remember that the point was to learn HOW the pioneers did things. The point was NOT to become pioneers. I keep the Boy Scout Manual in my emergency kit, for hurricane, earthquake, tornado, flood and Islamic Extremists overthrowing western civilization, preparedness.
Some of those seeking that badge, or many other merit badges, may shop at REI, but its still camping, i.e. (no R involved with this e or i) recreation, and of course learning. REI did not exist in the 60’s when we earned our badges. So REI is NOT a necessity. REI is there for recreating and vacating purchaser. I doubt many people buy gear at REI and head out to Alaska or Florida, the last 2 homestead states to my knowledge, or the African Veldt or Patagonia to do a little homestead or do actual pioneering.
Which takes us full circle now, you said MY original premise, people having lost the pioneering spirit, left out the popularity of REI, meaning that the people who shop at REI still have the pioneering spirit. I, then, disagreed with YOUR premise.
I said the people who go to REI, are NOT pioneers, but are in fact recreating and vacating. It doesn’t take pioneering spirit to ride bicycles or camp out.
It takes money and time off.
I even included, in the group of NON-pioneers, people who for fun, fame, or personal challenge climb Mt Everest. Mountain climbing is hardly about pioneering in the 21st century, see either definition. Unless it’s an unclimbed mountain. I can’t find a published list of which mountains are still unclimbed, and I did look.
So here goes, broadening my definition of NON-pioneers, I expand that REI purchasers group to include the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Girl Guides, Outward Bound, Campfire Girls, Indian Guides, the annual Jews for Jesus Camp-O-Rama in Hot Springs and people who camp in the infield at “TalaDAYger” or Daytona for the big race, also any family, small group or person who goes to the lake, seashore, mountains, Wisconsin Dells etc., for the weekend, week, month, federally mandated holiday, to sleep in a tent, RV, VW van and eat hotdogs or burgers, MREs, freeze dried ice cream, or Top Ramen Soup, at a picnic table, mountain overlook, or wherever. I heartily and gladly include myself, in several of those organizations, events and food preferences. But it is still not pioneering.
I never intended to homestead at the Outer Banks Camp Ground or in any infield. I am sure the owners of said places are happy about that. Pioneering in a public campground or private infield is squatting. The Sheriff takes a dim view of it. As would the Park Service at Yellowstone, my original park mentioned.
"Jim Oberg wrote a book called "Space Pioneers." I'm pretty sure it wasn't about people going from the East Coast to the West Coast slowly."
In light of what I said about pioneering and REI, I have no flicking idea what that last sentence means? "Space Pioneers" is self-explanatory, no one who bought / borrowed that book would have been looking for Misters, Lewis, Clark, Crockett and Boone. Or for Columbus, or even the Asians who walked across the land bridge to become the Indians who met Misters, Lewis, Clark, Crockett and Boone.
Our discussion was about REI and pioneering, I even said pioneering across the U.S. that’s why I included Columbus and the Asians above.
Tag your it.
Save your breath - Ed's a troll. His algorithm goes something like this:
1) Read your post superficially and disagree with whatever you say. In case you say something agreeable, don't take yes for an answer.
2) (a) Take an implicit part of your argument and explicitly misunderstand it in order to undermine your point and prove his; OR (b) set up some other form of strawman and shoot it down. It's important to take the debate you were trying to have and strangle it down to such an inane level that all intellectual gain and useful reasoning that could result is precluded.
3) Superficially read your response. If it's convincing he'll accuse you of "changing the subject" and then proceed to change the subject. Otherwise he will loop to step 2.
4) Exhaustively repeat all the above until the offending posters are worn down and stop commenting any more. Leave no comment unpunished.Posted by Kevin Parkin at July 26, 2005 12:00 PM
Kevin, I knew that already, but even a Heavy Weight Champion spars to stay in shape.
Besides, writing that easy, opinion style stuff keeps me from getting an ulcer over stuff that really matters. And it's really his opinion against mine. I just happen to be right.Posted by Steve at July 26, 2005 05:15 PM
I was quoting your own words: "trails / rivers already covered by tens of thousands of people with." How did your words suddenly become "my" definition?
> I said the people who go to REI, are NOT pioneers, but are in
Yes, you said it. However, the dictionary doesn't say that:
> 1 : to open or prepare for others to follow;
Nowhere does it say the people doing those things are not allowed to "recreate or vacate."
I've known many people to spend weekends opening trails for others to following, taking part in the development of parks, etc. That makes them pioneers according to the dictionary, if not according to you and Kevin. I'm sure that many of them shop at REI also.Posted by Edward Wright at July 26, 2005 06:06 PM
2.Posted by Kevin Parkin at July 26, 2005 06:54 PM
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