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Shuttle Extension & Heavy Launcher Bill Proposed 134

Posted by Soulskill
from the hail-mary dept.
FleaPlus writes "In light of Congressional resistance to the new plans for NASA (criticized as 'radical') proposed by NASA head Charles Bolden, Sen. Hutchinson (R-TX and ranking member of the Senate committee dealing with NASA) has proposed a compromise bill. Hutchinson's bill calls for postponing the Space Shuttle's retirement until 2015, and instead of wholly canceling Constellation/Ares, it would adapt the more effective portions to a 'government-operated space transportation system,' largely inspired by the DIRECT proposal. NASA would also pursue commercial crew and cargo launches to orbit, although the bill leaves out Charles Bolden's proposal for R&D of 'game-changing' technologies for sustainable and cost-effective space exploration."
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Shuttle Extension & Heavy Launcher Bill Proposed

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  • No! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 06, 2010 @11:36AM (#31380956)

    I work for a lab which is deeply involved in both the Constellation and COTS programs. Yes, Constellation might have been cool, but Obama has the right idea. He understands that building rockets is economically feasible and therefore should be done by commercial entities. NASA is slow and bureaucratic with this because they have done it before. NASA is MOST effective when they are doing something without precedent. Then NASA is developing something new which no one else might have done, and which may not have economically rational given the risk of failure. This is a much better role for NASA than just replicating rocket technology over and over again.

    I have watched this first hand.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by nutshell42 (557890)
      Especially as there was no point to Ares I. It wasn't revolutionary like the VentureStar, it wasn't cheap and according to many not even especially safe.

      Perhaps I'm naive but I always thought NASA should look into building a Orion+Escape System combination that can abort safely in just about any circumstances. That way you could just take any launcher with the necessary payload and a proven track record and put Orion on top of it without all the man-rating bruahaha.

    • by Xarius (691264)

      NASA is MOST effective when they are doing something without precedent. Then NASA is developing something new which no one else might have done, and which may not have economically rational given the risk of failure.

      How can we tell if they're being effective, if it has never been done before? What are we comparing it against?!

    • Yes, Constellation might have been cool, but Obama has the right idea. He understands that building rockets is economically feasible and therefore should be done by commercial entities.

      Which, oddly enough, is precisely why commercial entities have been building rockets and selling them on the open market for decades to government and private entities. Other than odd sounding rocket class vehicle or the occasional small prototype, the government hasn't built any rockets in decades.

  • speaking of NASA (Score:5, Informative)

    by SethJohnson (112166) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @11:40AM (#31380988) Homepage Journal
    Last night I was visiting with a friend who has worked at NASA for 11 years. He is concerned for his job, etc. Among the things we discussed was astronaut photography. Sometimes an astronaut comes through the program and demands an update to the cameras they're approved to bring into space. The administration is very resistant to these upgrades because of the testing that is involved to approve a new device to bring into space. Something as simple as a dslr camera requires millions of dollars in testing to ensure that the device won't cause problems in vacuum or in zero g, etc. It even goes so far that NASA produces its own battery charger for the camera instead of using the commercial charger that ships with the model.

    Seth
    • by vadim_t (324782)

      Can you elaborate more on that?

      What kind of problems could a DSLR cause in space? If there's potential trouble with the batteries, for instance, there exist DSLRs that use plain AA batteries, and surely somebody already tried to bring into space something that uses those.

      Other than that, a DSLR seems like a rather harmless device to me. The good ones are sealed, so they should be unlikely to produce any sort of contamination.

      • there exist DSLRs that use plain AA batteries, and surely somebody already tried to bring into space something that uses those.

        Since it costs NASA about $1000 to lift a single AA battery into orbit, rechargeables seem like a better bet.

        • by vadim_t (324782)

          There are rechargeable AA batteries too. Also it's a generally bad idea to use most non-rechargeable batteries in a DSLR as they don't last for very long. The only kind that works very well is the non-rechargeable lithium, but those are so expensive you might as well buy NiMH ones instead.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by edjs (1043612)
            The non-rechargeable lithium batteries are also much lighter than the NiMH or alkaline ones. They're great for hiking/camping, where you may not have regular access to electricity. And if you are dragging them up to orbit, the price difference between the battery types is probably a minor component of the cost.
            • by vadim_t (324782)

              Sure, but if you travel/stay in space long enough it might weight less be worth it to use a single set of rechargeable ones instead of several of lithiums. On a trip you could use a small solar panel, and on the ISS there probably is a battery charger.

              Though most DSLRs can work in tethered mode, so you can avoid needing batteries at all that way.

      • by sjames (1099)

        There's plenty. Open questions include will it outgas anything that will foul the life support system? Does it shed? That is, under the conditions it will be subjected to will the case shed any fine particulates?

        They must also consider what sort of problems space flight might cause a DSLR. I'll bet the manufacturer doesn't certify operation in zero G. Getting to space can be an issue as well. After a ride to space at 3G, will the mechanism THEN work fine in zero-G? Can it be sterilized and if so, will it s

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So what DO you do when the battery charger bursts into flames on orbit? Can't call the fire dept, can't run out the door, your options are limited. And fire extinguishers make a mess, more so in zero than on the ground. Also consider that many AC adapters, even for high-end consumer cameras, come with NO documentation. In many cases, the housing (made of an unspecified black plastic-like material) is sealed or glued shut and can't be opened to allow inspection of the circuitry. Given the effort required to

      • Re:speaking of NASA (Score:5, Informative)

        by cyclone96 (129449) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @01:06PM (#31381490)

        So what DO you do when the battery charger bursts into flames on orbit?

        I'll reinforce your point here. Knowing something about the fire response strategy on ISS you do the following:

        1) If you actually are lucky enough to witness the charger burst into flames, remove the power from it, hit the fire alarm, put on a mask, and expend a CO2 based fire extinguisher on it. The mask keeps you from asphyxiating yourself with the extinguisher.

        2) If you don't physically see what happens (which is most likely, ISS is big and some modules may go unattended for hours) - the combustion products will trip off a cabin smoke detector in the module. That will stop ventilation inside the module and ring the alarm. In most cases, this will put out a fire in zero g - fires tend to smother themselves without gravity to force convection currents.

        Meanwhile, not having any knowledge other than a smoke alarm from a module, the crew will converge in a safe haven in the vehicle away from the fire. Two (of the 6) may go forward to investigate with masks, fire extinguishers, and a hand held device to detect combustion products (mainly so they know if they are entering a lethal pocket of CO or other gases). Hopefully the module isn't a total fog of combustion products - if it is, the crew is likely to isolate it and leave it. If you don't know what the fire source is (because you can't see it), it may well end up that the entire module ends up getting powered down to ensure an electrical fire isn't being fed. This of course has some pretty serious ramifications as well - shutting down power to a module is not a simple event to reverse (since all the computers, cooling, lights, etc. go down with it). It's likely that collateral damage to a module's systems would happen if that were done.

        Even if you do understand what happened and know it's out, the harmful gases from burning plastic aren't going to just go away on their own, they have to be scrubbed out with deployed fans and special canisters. It would take weeks to clean up.

        Fighting a fire in a closed environment is very different than something you would do in your home. In zero gravity, most of the control is by prevention - don't use flammable materials, stop ventilation on a detected fire so it doesn't spread, don't use things that generate poison air when they burn, etc. Even a minor fire that many of us have encountered at one time or another (smoked electronics, plastic bag on fire, etc.) would be an extremely serious event in space. That's why so much time is spent making sure equipment conforms with fire prevention standards.

        • by cmacb (547347)

          Knowing nothing firsthand about this myself but with my "common sense" I have to ask:

          If a particular module were full of smoke and other noxious materials why wouldn't it be possible to seal off that model and then vent its entire atmosphere into space? At that point there would be nothing "airborne" left in that module. Then you would re-pressurize it.

          That to me would seem to be more certain than any form of filtering. Of course somewhere in there you would have to make absolutely sure that the source o

    • Re:speaking of NASA (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ellis D. Tripp (755736) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @12:35PM (#31381276) Homepage

      Something as simple as a dslr camera requires millions of dollars in testing to ensure that the device won't cause problems in vacuum or in zero g, etc. It even goes so far that NASA produces its own battery charger for the camera instead of using the commercial charger that ships with the model.

      NASA would need to be sure that any lubricants used on the camera's moving parts (yes, even DSLR's have them) will not outgas if exposed to vacuum, or freeze/liquefy when exposed to the wide temperature variations experienced in space. The same would go for components like electrolytic capacitors, batteries, etc, which might rupture and release toxic chemicals when exposed to a vacuum.

      The battery charger most likely needs to be customized in order to make one that can plug into the 28VDC or 400/800 Hz AC power systems typically used on spacecraft.

      • Think of the exploding/flammable capacitors that we saw for a decade or more coming from cheap chinese construction. They had stolen a design from Japan which Japan knew to be lousy. Last place I would want that is in a thin metal can in one of the most hostile environments going.
      • by Nimey (114278)

        Why do spacecraft use those power specs, out of curiosity?

      • by etnoy (664495)

        NASA would need to be sure that any lubricants used on the camera's moving parts (yes, even DSLR's have them) will not outgas if exposed to vacuum, or freeze/liquefy when exposed to the wide temperature variations experienced in space.

        Yup, the previous set of DSLR:s NASA used needed a new lubricant before being allowed into space. The new cameras (which were ordered just last year, Nikon D3s to be specific) had incorporated this change into the stock model. Guess Nikon figured the change was so small it could be used on all cameras, possibly reducing the modification costs for the cams to be space-approved. This new generation will be used on the ISS without any modification at all (except for the aforementioned battery charger), during

    • by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @12:38PM (#31381300) Journal
      The reason is that NASA funds things like that, and then Russia, ESA, JAXA, CSA, and even Chinese use that as the approved list. The fact is, that the testing HAS to happen since it was not designed from the gitgo with space missions in mind. If an America company was smart (kodak comes to mind, but then, they are not very smart), they would follow the Fischer Pen approach and design a camera to survive in space, water, etc. and then advertise it as being rugged for space as well as water, camping, etc. That little bit of marketing helped make Fischer Space pen sell a million more than what it would have otherwise.
      • If an America company was smart (kodak comes to mind, but then, they are not very smart), they would follow the Fischer Pen approach and design a camera to survive in space, water, etc. and then advertise it as being rugged for space as well as water, camping, etc.

        This is exactly [hasselblad.com] what Hasselblad did.

        Of course, Hasselblad products were already absurdly rugged (and expensive to match), so it's likely that very little additional engineering effort was required.

        • Actually, not the same. NASA (Schirra) started using the camaer and then NASA approached Hasselblad about doing more. What I was suggesting, is that one of the many digital camera manufacturers would do well to design systems that can take on the vacuum and temp extremes and then sell it to the public. That is what Fischer did.
    • Right, but while SLRs (or any camera) may _seem_ simple, they aren't, take a look at the cut-away diagrams some time. Even a disposable style film camera would require a lot of testing too.

      I wonder how often the cameras need to be updated. They certainly don't need to do annual model replacements, updated cameras rarely change significantly. I bet a five year old SLR that's been certified will do the job just fine, keep using them until there's concern about something breaking.

      I thought some of the consi

      • Ahh, but I wonder why NASA would be the ones to pay for the testing. You'd think camera manufacturers would jump over themselves to be able to stamp "approved for use in the space program" on their devices. Particularly in light of your link to Olympus doing precisely that.

      • I wonder how often the cameras need to be updated. They certainly don't need to do annual model replacements, updated cameras rarely change significantly. I bet a five year old SLR that's been certified will do the job just fine, keep using them until there's concern about something breaking.

        The problem is that NASA astronauts are regarded as royalty within the program. Some come through who are photography nuts and they'll piss and moan if they don't have whatever state-of-the-art that's available. The a

    • by QuantumG (50515) *

      it's called gold plating.

      BTW, every private astronaut who has flown on the ISS has taken equipment without NASA oversight.. and there's been no incidents.

      • by afabbro (33948)

        BTW, every private astronaut who has flown on the ISS has taken equipment without NASA oversight.. and there's been no incidents.

        Yes, but those aren't mission-important items. A camera might be mission critical.

        What are the odds of an off-the-shelf DSLR even surviving to orbit? When Nikon or Canon tests them, they don't have multi-G stress in mind, or thousands of bangs and shakes per second, or higher doses of radiation, or all the other fun stuff cargo gets as it zooms up to orbit.

        Put it another way: one of the major subdisciplines in satellite engineering is surviving launch. Consumer stuff simply isn't made with launch, vaccuu

        • by QuantumG (50515) *

          What are the odds of an off-the-shelf DSLR even surviving to orbit?

          So far? About 10 for 10.

      • by sjames (1099)

        Also CYA. If a bureaucrat or engineer signs off on something going up and it causes a problem, it's his ass. If he just doesn't notice when an astronaut smuggles it on, he's in the clear.

    • by cthulhu11 (842924)
      NASA has been thoroughly Nikon for quite a while. Given the press Nikon gets for this, I suspect that they heavily subsidize anything needed to update NASA's gear. Recent news about the D3s: http://www.nikon.com/about/news/2009/1221_NASA-D3S_01.htm [nikon.com] I'm skeptical that the incremental upgrade from the D2x required millions of NASA dollars.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Thanks to Nixon opening up relations with China in the 1970s, followed by NAFTA and other free trade agreements in the 1980s and 1990s, followed by the Republican craziness of the 2000s, we've seen several decades of American industry, R&D and education being severely damaged.

    It's no wonder that America's space initiatives have stalled, and we're stuck using technology first developed in the early 1970s. The Shuttle is the last major innovation we've seen out of America.

    Computer networking and the Inter

    • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @12:32PM (#31381266)

      Oh, dear. And I suppose the creation of Starbucks led to the housing crisis? Correlation is _not_ causation: while Nixon did a lot of fascinating things, many good, many truly awful, it's difficult to show that the expansion of free trade with China was a bad idea. Given that China was (and is still, to some extent) a paranoid society with limited free speech and nuclear weapons, it seems well worth it to defuse their military concerns about the USA by opening trade.

      There are numerous other factors that have impeded genuine development: lobby protection of existing industries is a primary force protecting the car industry. Buildings and infrastructure from the 1920's has, for the most part, fallen apart long ago: it's exceptional structures that remain. And those exceptional structures didn't have the same budgetary limits as an "exceptional structure" now. The 1920's had a lot of spare money for investment, and over-leveraged investment encouraged to the stock market crash of 1929.

      And sadly, take a good look at exactly how far stem cell research has gone. There is not a _single major disease_ that is treated with stem cells, anywhere in the world, except as part of experiments that have monstly failed. It just hasn't worked. Not epilepsy, not Parkinson's, not diabetes.

      And the youngsters I've seeing, well, they're a mixed lot. Some are very sharp, and very educated: enough to lead quite a lot of scientific and engineering development if they could get a _job_.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Oh, geeze. You're one of those "correlation is not causation" faggots. Now that you've gotten your clichéd saying out of the way, let's talk facts.

        FACT: There are millions of buildings and many hundreds of thousands of miles of pipeline and other infrastructure in older American cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Pittsburgh build in the 1920s or earlier that are much more durable than the crap thrown together today in new-growth areas like California, Texas and Florida.

        F

        • by DeadChobi (740395)

          No, what has destroyed our manufacturing base has been the widespread destructive regulation of industries by our government. When the British left Hong Kong, for example, there was a huge explosion of business and free enterprise because you only needed to fill out a single piece of paper to start a business. Here you have to hire people specifically to understand tax laws, people to understand trade laws, pay permit fees, etc..

          If government truly gave a crap about business they would stop putting tariffs

        • None of those things are provable facts -- just vague, general statements.

          How about that steam main that blew up in NYC a few years ago? Poorly-maintained 1920s technology at its finest. Go look up survivorship bias, and think about how it effects your argument. Although I won't deny that we've been increasingly building things on the cheap ever since the 1960s, there was plenty of shitty 1920s architecture that (rightfully) met the wrecking ball over the past 5 decades.

          That's how progress works: Save wh

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      You sound like an old fart whining for the buggy-whip days. The only real problem is you are ignorant and blind to major technological developments.

      For starters, because this is slashdot, have to point out major advances in computing made in America since the 1970s to now. Get your timeline out of computing 1980s through 2010. No innovation?

      Automobiles of today have huge technological improvements from those of the 1950s, those were guaranteed to rust out within a few years and be blowing oil out worn va

      • by tyrione (134248)

        You sound like an old fart whining for the buggy-whip days. The only real problem is you are ignorant and blind to major technological developments.

        For starters, because this is slashdot, have to point out major advances in computing made in America since the 1970s to now. Get your timeline out of computing 1980s through 2010. No innovation?

        Automobiles of today have huge technological improvements from those of the 1950s, those were guaranteed to rust out within a few years and be blowing oil out worn valve guides and piston rings. Trying to start one in below zero degrees F was a major undertaking, electronic fuel injection is vastly superior for gasoline engines. Watch a Youtube video of a 1957 chevy crashing into a modern chevy and see who would die. At least twice the fuel efficiency for given vehicle weight. Air bags, GPS navigation, OBD-II, catalytic converters, solid state radio, radial tires, digital sensors and readouts (even if it looks analog there is for example no speedometer cable to wear out). Cars are not the same.

        My parents house was built in mid 60s, well built and doing fine. The house I live in was built in 1980 and is doing fine. Both places will be good for another 30 years at least, where you get your silly notions might be from some garbage low-cost tract housing, guess what that was done in 1930s and 1940s also in some places (effects of Depression) and you don't know about it because it didn't stand the test of time, your sample set is flawed..

        The number one crucial development for the Automobile Industry that has stalled for decades is engine efficiency. That is intentional, not because they can't sell 100mpg vehicles. They fear they would sell less of them. Those fears are unfounded. People upgrade for the look, not the efficiency no matter how efficient the vehicle. Porsche could sell a 100mpg vehicle and within 5 years add a bunch of "luxury" items now considered stock only to see a large used market for those 5 year vehicles because everyon

    • by afabbro (33948)

      Computer hardware has only been incrementally improving since the 1970s (look at how early PCs are nearly identical to PCs of today in terms of the sort of hardware they use).

      I love watching those old shows on TV Land and seeing their wireless networks, solid state drives, flat panel monitors, and RAID arrays.

      Our American-made vehicles are nearly identical to what we had in the 1950s.

      I love watching Happy Days reruns and seeing their fuel injection, airbags, antilock brakes, satellite radios, and mp3 players.

  • No bucks, no Buck Rogers.

    This will go nowhere unless additional cash is added to NASA's budget.
  • by fermion (181285) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @11:58AM (#31381090) Homepage Journal
    Here is the thing. On one hand I think the shuttles are good enough, and we should use them indefinitely. Of course, indefinitely means until one of the three remaining shuttles fail, most likely taking another crew. I don't think most people want this to happen, which is why they are being retired now that we know and have seen the consequences of some sub optimal design decisions. In effect we have a choice of giving up this year,or simply not setting a date certain. I think the later might be a reasonable decision.

    In any case, the decision must be made in terms of safety and effective spending of tax money, not politics. Those people who are going to be fired, are, after all, in conservative terms, are overpaid federal bureaucrats. Now, the people most effected by this are the people of clear lake,TX. These fine people elected Pete Olson, a fine conservative. Pete Olson does not believe in socialism. Pete Olson does not believe in extending unemployment checks, as one conservative said if you feed a stray animal the just multiply. Olson voted against a bill to help keep people in thier homes, a decision which I do not disagree with. Given this, it is clear that the only right and proper thing we must do is look at the technical side, and disregard all this fear mongering about jobs. These are allegedly technical and educated people. They will be able to find or create jobs. Unemployment in Texas is 2 points below the national average, and for professionals much lower.

    The thing to do is to look at what is best for the country, and what is best to reduce the tax burden of the American People,and limit the role of government. That is what the last election cycle clearly indicated was the will of the people. If a few people in Clear Lake have to find other jobs to achieve that goal, then maybe that is what needs to happen.

    • I think the government should have a role in space exploration, but you are right. We shouldn't just keep paying to keep jobs, we should keep exploring for the sake of technology and society. There are many things not economically viable for a private entity to research, and space travel / exploration is one of the most important. /Clear Lake born and raised

    • by gschuell (677812)
      Pete Olson is a motherfucking asshole and should die a horrible a death as should all you fucking conservatives. We need socialism like the rest of the fucking civilized world, you fucktard!
    • by cthulhu11 (842924)
      Now, the people most effected by this

      Nobody is effected by it, but some may be affected.

  • by A nonymous Coward (7548) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @12:06PM (#31381128)

    So much for Republican core values of small government, free enterprise, and especially the government getting out of the way of free enterprise to do a job better, cheaper, and without the stifling bureaucracy.

    At least that is what Republicans of all stripes say they stand for. In public. Officially.

    Pork always wins out, tho.

    (Note to Republicans who are incensed by this attack on their imploded view of reality: see the title of this post.)

    • by JWW (79176)

      You've got a bit of a point there.

      The interesting thing is that Obama's proposal to 'privatize' manned space launches, flys directly in the face of all the other stuff he's doing.

      In Obama's view the housing, banking, auto, and insurance companies all need very strict government oversight. It ironic that he thinks manned space flight needs less. Note: I said ironic there. At heart, I believe and hope that Boeing and/or SpaceX can create manned rated rockets with appropriate funding from NASA. So while Ob

      • In Obama's view the housing, banking, auto, and insurance companies all need very strict government oversight.

        Really? Ford doesn't seem to think so. The bailout was intended to try to save U.S. jobs where the free market failed. Most banks have already repaid TARP, Chrysler/Fiat is standing on its own and the administration pretty much left the housing market alone (mortgage company failures notwithstanding.) BTW, these plans were initially put into play by the Bush administration.

        I don't have a problem with having the private sector develop the technology for manned spaceflight. The problem is that we scrap

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hey! (33014)

        What makes you think that launch businesses won't be "strictly" overseen?

        What do you mean by "strict" anyway? Should oversight ever be "lax"?

        Of course not. Oversight should always be strict, but at the same time reasonable. In other words the rules should be clear, have a reasonable justification, and make provision for foreseeable hardships they might cause. Given that, violators shouldn't get a pass because regulators are "lax".

      • In order to do any sort of manned space exploration, NASA's budget needs to be doubled, probably tripled. That's why Obama is pushing it over to private industry. He wants it to fail - and he's right to make it fail, given that we're refusing to allocate sufficient funds.

      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        How so? Housing, banking, insurance and auto are all largely a privatized free-for-all at the moment, with only the most extreme behaviour regulated by the government.

        Space flight is almost a complete government monopoly, with the biggest (and arguably only) real player in the industry a tax-funded government agency.

        It seems to make sense that if Obama's administration has some vision of an ideal amount of government involvement, it would probably lie somewhere between the two. And so it would make sense th

    • So much for Republican core values of small government, free enterprise, and especially the government getting out of the way of free enterprise to do a job better, cheaper, and without the stifling bureaucracy.

      At least that is what Republicans of all stripes say they stand for. In public. Officially.

      Pork always wins out, tho.

      (Note to Republicans who are incensed by this attack on their imploded view of reality: see the title of this post.)

      As you pointed out, Republicans (and many other politicians) are all for cutting government in somebody *else's* district; for free trade until a company in their district loses out to a competitor; while at the same time *creating* jobs in their district (with federal dollars, of course.)

      Newsflash - the government does not create jobs - it just picks winners and losers; and will keep doing so as long as bring home federal money means getting re-elected. We vote them in of course, sow we truly have met the

    • I'm kinda shocked that it took this long for someone to point out the hypocrisy here. Hutchison is proposing a government-operated space transportation system? Really? Not only is the commercial sector already active in that area, it's a massive expansion of NASA into unknown territory (from cutting-edge research to providing a public service) along with a billion dollar expenditure that really isn't needed.

      I'm baffled. Shouldn't his brain implode when considering these options? Wait, you're right. He's a s

    • by macshit (157376)

      So much for Republican core values of small government, free enterprise, and especially the government getting out of the way of free enterprise to do a job better, cheaper, and without the stifling bureaucracy.

      At least that is what Republicans of all stripes say they stand for. In public. Officially.

      Pork always wins out, tho.

      Yup. Hutchinson is from Texas, and NASA has a lot of legacy infrastructure in Texas ("Houston, we have a problem...").

    • by tsotha (720379)
      There isn't a huge amount of overlap between "Republican" and "fiscal conservative" any more. That's why they got creamed in 2006 and it also gave birth to the Tea Party movement.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The problem with using the aging shuttle technology indefinitely is one of safety. Not just for the crews of these craft, although that is very important, but for the safety of the entire program. Americans will not stand for too many other disasters. Anybody remotely acquainted with the space program knows that it cannot be made perfectly safe. But the American public will blow things far out of proportion if another shuttle goes down. Every big disaster that happens people start thinking that NASA is

  • by curmudgeon99 (1040054) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @12:15PM (#31381166)
    Those hypocrites in the Republican Party! This is nothing more than a jobs bill for Houston and the Southern states who all own most of the various NASA installations [Texas, Alabama, Florida] and so they will stand to lose when the admirable-but-currently-unaffordable NASA Launch Business is set to retire.

    I'm sure this Republican from Texas, who is basically proposing the opposite of what President Obama has proposed, is all against government waste--except when it comes to things that benefit his district.

    I love the space program. I admire most of what NASA has done. I agree with President Obama that NASA should delegate the conventional launch business to the private sector. NASA should focus on developing the technologies of the future, not ones that were invented by Goddard back in the twenties.
    Though it would be cool and exciting to see the huge Ares V rocket blast off, we cannot afford it right now. Why is that so hard for people to understand? We can afford to do research on the next generation but we should not be in the Space Truck business. Let's throw a few bones to the private sector. Let them build it cheaply and we will buy seats for our people and stuff.
  • Amazing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @12:27PM (#31381226) Journal
    The same set of neo-cons that carp about Stimulus bill are busy pushing another jobs bill via this. And where are they from? Texas, Fl, Al, and Ca. Surprised that they would put their election ahead of the nation? Not me. With that said, this bill is a prime example of neo-con spend and borrow. It wants to extend the shuttle for another 2-3 years, but only gives up 3 billion to fund it. Well, if you fly ONE SHUTTLE, then you have to fund the entire crew. That means 3-4 BILLION for that year. So, you are better off flying as many as possible since each flight is only about 200 million in variable costs. The problem that we have with our space system is that we have depended on exactly ONE arch to get us to the moon and then exactly one to get us into LEO. That needs to change if we want to support a moon base, or even a mars base. As such we NEED multiple architectures. in
    1. Human lift to LEO,
    2. Small and Medium Cargo Lift to LEO
    3. SUPER-Heavy cargo lift to leo.
    4. Pluggable way to add a tug to a craft.

    The above will prevent Congress from doing what it is doing AND will prevent an accident in a rocket from shutting down the entire space program. Nixon killed skylab because he did not fund NASA properly for building the shuttle after shutting down Apollo in 1970. Likewise, W and the 2004 Congress SEVERELY underfunded NASA after pushing a mistake like Constellation. In addition, Challenger and Columbia shut down NASA's Manned missions for several years. For us to move off this planet, we need to prevent such nightmares from happening again. The heavy lifter that NASA is pushing is not on the drawing board yet. They want to do more RD to bring up to speed on engines. THEN they want to have Private Space build 2 or more heavy lift mostly on their dollar, and have NASA focus on doing cutting edge RD as well as focused on how to build out a system that moves us out of LEO. The new plan will build up private space and help get them to the moon along with a national consortium (almost certainly all of the ISS crew and possible adding India and Brazil). The issue will be the idiots in congress that did not fund these vehicles over the last 6 years, but are now wanting to throw good money after bad ideas.

    • by tsotha (720379)

      You guys on the left have so over-used the word neocon that it doesn't mean anything at all anymore. The neocons were never fiscal conservatives - they were leftists who became militarists because of external threats (real and imagined). They have almost no influence left in the Republican party and never had any with the Tea Party people. Just because a guy wants to fund useless crap to generate jobs in his district doesn't mean he's a neocon. That just makes him a member of Congress.

      The shuttle never

      • First, I am a Libertarian. It is was you neo-cons that applied it yourselves. Basically, the reagan and W type of politicians that we can no longer afford. And you neo-cons/teabaggers are the ones that killed the fiscal conservatives. McCain is a fiscal conservative. So was Clinton. Yet, you guys fight these ppl. You support the likes of reagan and W. ANd yes, your short-sightedness is apperant in your rant. What holds us back is that we had exactly one arch to get us to space. ZERO competition. So, what
        • by tsotha (720379)

          First, I am a Libertarian. It is was you neo-cons that applied it yourselves. Basically, the reagan and W type of politicians that we can no longer afford. And you neo-cons/teabaggers are the ones that killed the fiscal conservatives.

          This is delusional. First off, the Libertarian party is run by truthers and John Birch-style cranks. It has no coherent platform beyond "cut my taxes and your services". It will never, ever be a serious party in the US without a wholesale change in both charter and leadersh

    • by dsmall (933970)

      WindBourne said,
      "As such we NEED multiple architectures ... "

      I agree with you. Yet it takes a look at history to see how we got here.

      "The above will prevent Congress from doing what it is doing AND will prevent an accident in a rocket from shutting down the entire space program."

      Your point here escapes me. Congress controls spending; that's in the Constitution. How could we prevent Congress from doing anything? Recently, Bush's space policy (go back to the Moon, etc) was a good one. Ho

  • by OctaviusIII (969957) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @02:33PM (#31382008) Homepage
    First, it was Kay Bailey Hutchison (no "n" in Hutchison). Second, the bill can be found here, on THOMAS [loc.gov]. Although the text of the bill isn't up yet, the introducing language is up. It's bill S. 3068, if anyone cares.

    Third, this is not a good idea. If there was ever a time to grow our spaceflight industry it's now, at the inflection point. Saying that it will lose us space is just silly: who do they think we will contract with after Soyuz? Arianne? This is exactly how you win space, by spurring private sector investment in space transportation for its own purposes. Rocketry is mature enough for the start-ups, so get NASA to do things others cannot: major spaceflight research. Look at what Bigelow is doing with inflatable modules and is planning on doing going forward. If we can get such major tech in the hands of industry and provide a guaranteed market, I think we're well on our way to owning spaceflight.
  • I'd love the Shuttle to continue, and some new launcher to take its place, but I can't realistically see it happening with so much US debt at the moment. Of the Ares launchers, presumablely the Ares I would be the one to stay, but its heavy lift launchers that the world is short of. Plus there is the spectre of another Shuttle disaster hanging over any plan to extent the shuttles life span.

    ---

    Space Craft [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

  • It should have never been built. The Apollo was PERFECT (the rocket, not the CM). It should have been allowed to continue. The ORIGINAL shuttle design would have been safer, but, they once again went the cheap route. What they need to do is build something that has a CM similar to the old Apollo, and make a heavy launch vehicle for hauling equipment & supplies. The only reason Senator Hutchison is proposing this is to keep the shuttle jobs alive. An astronaut, long ago was asked if anything about fly
  • Half of the factories have been shut down already and people let go. Its a two year pipeline to prepare a shuttle. The pipeline only has seven months left in it.
  • It is good to see the congress contest the abysmal decision making coming from the Whitehouse. There is no logical reason to end NASA's manned space program. Obama's sycophants at NASA are in full retreat. I look forward to the return of Constellation and extension of the Shuttle project.

  • This is stupid. Even with the extension, there won't be any flights for at least three years, because there aren't any external tanks left in the pipeline. NASA will be stuck in the past, and we will never leave Earth orbit because we will spending our moon money on make-work projects.
  • In light of Congressional resistance to the new plans for NASA (criticized as 'radical') proposed by NASA head Charles Bolden

    Dixon: Guardians are here to mend and defend, okay? Not sit around trying to work out the way User thinks and why Viruses are introduced into systems. Sheesh. I'm just glad the Prime Guardian hasn't seen any of your works.
    Bob: I had a meeting with Turbo just last second. He thought my ideas to reprogram Viruses for the good were radical!
    Dixon: Radical. Ha, he used the word "radical" and you think--

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