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  Exploration: Asteroids, Moon and Mars
  NASA's last manned U.S. space flight

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Author Topic:   NASA's last manned U.S. space flight
Matt T
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Posts: 1356
From: Chester, Cheshire, UK
Registered: May 2001

posted 07-08-2010 08:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in his interview with Al Jazeera:
"We're not going to go anywhere beyond low Earth orbit as a single entity. The United States can't do it."
So - NASA aren't going to go beyond LEO alone; the commercial sector are going to fly everything within LEO. That leaves...

Looks like the last shuttle flight is shaping up to be NASA's last manned US spaceflight - slap bang on the 50th anniversary year.

capoetc
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Posts: 1705
From: Newnan GA (USA)
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 07-08-2010 08:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not during the present administration, anyway. In either two or six years, that could all change.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-08-2010 08:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
First, let's put Bolden's comment into its full context:
We're not going to go anywhere beyond low Earth orbit as a single entity. The United States can't do it, China can't do it, no single nation is going to go to a place like Mars alone for a number of reasons.

The technologies that we need to get there are going to come from a variety of different nations who offer different specialties and different talents.

It's expensive. It's incredibly expensive to go to space. That's one of the things that Congress understands very well and the American people understand very well as we find out how much it really costs.

Matt, by your interpretation, the last U.S. manned spaceflight was as long ago as Skylab 3. After all, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project certainly didn't go it alone...

And with the exception of STS-1, every space shuttle has flown with at least a Canadian robotic arm, if not a European-built Spacelab or an Italian experiment or an Israeli crew member... I guess those weren't U.S. manned spaceflights either.

Again, when the soundbite is expanded, it becomes clear that Bolden is talking about working together with partner nations as NASA has done for more than three decades. No where does he say that the heavy-lift vehicle or interplanetary craft won't be a NASA booster or spacecraft.

capoetc
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From: Newnan GA (USA)
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 07-08-2010 08:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Are you really equating a Canadarm on a US-built and operated spacecraft to the ObamaSpace beyond-LEO proposal?

For that matter, do you really think it matters? The earliest ObamaSpace has something like that happening is 2025, so the plan will have been changed, probably more than once, by then...

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-08-2010 09:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by capoetc:
Are you really equating a Canadarm on a US-built and operated spacecraft to the ObamaSpace beyond-LEO proposal?
Are you really not seeing that they are one and the same? Bolden says we're not going to go alone; he doesn't say that NASA won't be the leader when we go together. (In fact, he says the exact opposite...)
quote:
For that matter, do you really think it matters?
Well, if you adopt that attitude, then nothing matters, not Constellation, not 'ObamaSpace,' not any past, present or future plan or proposal because they will always be subject to the whim of politicians. Unless of course, you remove the program from the government...

moorouge
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From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 07-09-2010 03:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Now, now! Mark Twain, it seems, was quite correct when he said - "There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact."

At the end of the day, in the bigger picture of things, does it really matter who goes where or does what?

On edit: And as a very gentle reminder, no US manned flight since Gemini would have flown without a British invention - the fuel cell!

capoetc
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From: Newnan GA (USA)
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 07-09-2010 07:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Are you really not seeing that they are one and the same? Bolden says we're not going to go alone; he doesn't say that NASA won't be the leader when we go together. (In fact, he says the exact opposite...)
No, they are most definitely not the same.

The US shuttle program was/is not an international program. There are international aspects to it, but if the US decides that it wants to, for example, fly the shuttle on a top secret military mission, then we can do that without objection from any international partners.

But, that is only a small part of the limitations placed by international cooperation, which I have seen first hand in attempts to conduct multinational peacekeeping operations. When you go multinational, all partners expect to get an equal vote on how the operation proceeds, regardless of how much that partner contributed to the effort. Contribute the launch vehicle? That gets you a vote. Contribute a single bolt used in the recovery system? That's one vote. And getting all those partners to agree not only on a course of action, but how to move that course forward, is truly a nightmare. And, if there are unrelated international political issues present, then that partner can take its ball and go home, thus throwing a wrench into your exploration program.

That is a LOT different than having parts on the shuttle made in another country.

quote:
Well, if you adopt that attitude, then nothing matters, not Constellation, not 'ObamaSpace,' not any past, present or future plan or proposal because they will always be subject to the whim of politicians. Unless of course, you remove the program from the government..
Robert, you often accuse others of not really understanding what is really going on, yet you seem to refuse to understand that the problem is not solely with the long term, esoteric goals of ObamaSpace... it is with the fact that there is no road map on how to get there. Essentially, lets do some research, climate change, commercial contractors, game-changing technologies... oh, and then, 15-20 years from now, we'll magically go beyond LEO, maybe to an asteroid.

Can you not see how that plan is a "blueprint for a mission to nowhere"?

Oh, yeah, obviously you can't... and don't. And I can, of course, respect that. So, I'm done in this thread too.

Matt T
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Posts: 1356
From: Chester, Cheshire, UK
Registered: May 2001

posted 07-09-2010 08:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For an administrator overseeing business as usual Bolden has a curious talent for statements and actions that suggest an agency convulsed by change. Seems to me it should be supporters of the Obama program calling for his resignation for doing such an appalling job of communicating these relatively minor changes.
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
...every space shuttle has flown with at least a Canadian robotic arm, if not a European-built Spacelab or an Italian experiment or an Israeli crew member... I guess those weren't U.S. manned spaceflights either.
Spacelab and experiments were payload, foreign astronauts were guests on an American spacecraft and mission. Flying foreign payload and astronauts hasn't made Russia proclaim it's program as an international partnership - and aside from yourself I've never hear anyone try and pitch the shuttle program as an international effort either.

Canadarm is certainly a valid example of international cooperation - but not of the full partnership that characterizes the ISS. Bolden's gloomy assessment of the prohibitive cost of going beyond LEO suggests he will be seeking substantial economic partnerships - not merely contributions.

jimsz
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posted 07-09-2010 10:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jimsz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"We're not going to go anywhere beyond low Earth orbit as a single entity. The United States can't do it."
At what point in recent history has it been determined that the US can't go it alone?

NASA is reflecting the new belief in Washington that the US is incapable of doing anything without assistance.

This is misguided as well as dangerous. Once you convince people you need help to accomplish anything you raise a generation that lacks confidence and a drive to succeed.

There is no evidence that NASA can't go beyond LEO on it's own. They simply lack the courage and willingness to do so.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-09-2010 02:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by jimsz:
At what point in recent history has it been determined that the US can't go it alone? NASA is reflecting the new belief...
It is hard to pinpoint a date, but it certainly is not recent or new...

January 2003: Oral History with NASA's former Director of the Solar System Exploration Division, Wesley Huntress:

We're not going to send humans to the Moon or Mars or anywhere if it's not going to be international. Ain't going to happen. And we're not going to be able to send comprehensive, expensive missions, even robotic, anywhere, unless they're international and people bring their best to bear on them, because it's too expensive...
But that's relatively recent... from July 1974, NASA Administrator James Fletcher on the future of U.S. space exploration:
"Such bases on the moon are not likely in this century unless they are built in international projects with the Soviet Union, the United States and perhaps even Europe. Such bases would be too expensive for one country alone...

But when you have human beings, astronauts and cosmonauts, in space, transferring between an American and Russian spacecraft, you can't ignore the symbolic aspect. It could introduce a whole era of easing tensions, and it would be a step toward long-term cooperation with the Soviets, which is the only way we're going to take large future steps in space, like establishing a base on the moon or going to Mars."

But these are just two quickly-found quotes... given more time and research, I'm sure even earlier examples could be cited.

All times are CT (US)

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