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  Exploration: Asteroids, Moon and Mars
  Global exploration goals and diverging objectives

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Author Topic:   Global exploration goals and diverging objectives
capoetc
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From: Newnan GA (USA)
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posted 05-31-2012 09:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I found this article on the Aviation Week website entitled Space Partners Reform Exploration Plans. It lays out the situation which I have been hearing frequently in other venues regarding the seemingly divergent space exploration views of the US and its international partners.

Russia wants to set up a permanent international Moon base and to focus on the space station as a testbed for human exploration deeper into the Solar System. Japan and India also see value in more lunar exploration, and many of the world's space agencies want to work more closely with China.

None of those views tracks with existing or evolving U.S. space goals and objectives. As Congress and the White House continue their struggle in this election year over NASA's next steps in space, the U.S. agency's international partners are exercising more independence in their own space-exploration plans.

arjuna
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posted 06-02-2012 04:21 AM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's my understanding as well. There are those at NASA who are frustrated with this policy / policy context (those are two different things), seeing it as a great strategy if the U.S. wants to marginalize itself.

LM1
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posted 08-15-2012 12:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM1   Click Here to Email LM1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Recently I heard President Obama mention a possible manned Mars orbital mission. I have not heard him mention this before. This is a manned mission that I would find favorable to a manned Mars landing mission. Is this something new or has President Obama mentioned this before?

A manned Mars orbital mission would take much less time than a Mars landing mission. It would cost considerably less than a manned Mars landing mission and it would be a perfect test for a future manned Mars landing. This is something that we can actually do within the next 20 years. It is something that would excite people about space exploration and make them more inclined to spend the considerable amount necessary for a manned Mars landing mission in 30 years or so.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-15-2012 12:45 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 LM1:
Is this something new or has President Obama mentioned this before?
April 15, 2010, in remarks delivered at Kennedy Space Center:
By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it.
Obama and NASA's leadership have repeated that as the goal in numerous speeches and testimonies since then...

Fra Mauro
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posted 08-15-2012 02:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The mid-2030s is so far away that it is just speculation as to what we will do. Given the politicians and the sentiment of the public, it just sounds like Tomorrowland. Then again, before that, we have the asteroid mission.

LM1
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posted 08-15-2012 02:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM1   Click Here to Email LM1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The 2030s is less than 20 years from now. The asteroid landing mission (if it is completed) will cause people to look forward to a Mars orbital mission. These missions are both on the NASA drawing boards.

In comparison, remember when the New Horizons spacecraft was launched in Jan. 2006? It is scheduled to arrive in the Pluto region in July 2015. We thought that that was a long time. Now, it is less than three years away from completion (2 years 11 months).

I look forward to the asteroid landing mission and the Mars orbital mission. I hope that they are both multinational missions.

Fra Mauro
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posted 08-16-2012 12:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Even though the missions are on the drawing boards, pardon the pun, the chalk can easily be erased. I wasn't concerned about the Pluto wait, because I knew once it was launched the mission wouldn't get terminated by politicians or lack of public interest.

SkyMan1958
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posted 08-16-2012 02:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Last I heard tell, a trip to Mars was ~ 20 years in the future... and it's been that way for 30 - 40 years. Given the financial realities of the Japanese budget, the EU budget and the Russian budget I find it hard to believe that the other countries would do much more than paper planning on manned lunar exploration. Of course, given the realities of the US budget, I don't expect to see manned (US) Martian exploration in the next 20 - 30 years.

With the increasing commercialization of space I would not be at all surprised if the next manned lunar flights are commercial ventures.

328KF
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posted 08-16-2012 03:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't understand the reasoning behind doing a Mars orbital mission to "look for possible landing sites." We have more pictures and data than we can handle already from the probes orbiting now.

Obama's goals for space seem to continually change. We were going to the moon, now that's cancelled. Then we were going to an asteroid... who knows if or when that will ever happen? Now we're going to orbit Mars? Sometimes I wonder if the speechwriters even understand what they are saying before they throw it up on the teleprompter for him to read.

Here's a thought. Phobos is most widely thought to be a captured asteroid. If you're going to go all the way to Mars without landing (and I realize that there are good reasons to do so) why not just land there? Study the moon, test your systems, look at the Martian surface during the 24 hour trip around, plant a flag, and come home with rocks. A win-win.

I have argued before that a dedicated asteroid mission conducted by NASA is a one-time trip. You go, explore briefly, take samples and come home. I know some upstarts are looking at commercializing asteroid mining, so let them do it. If our ultimate goal is Mars, then every dollar, and every mission should advance our march toward a manned landing.

Asteroids are a sidetrack from this goal. Some might argue that a return to the moon is too. This thing has been put off far too long by politicians who refuse to see beyond their own presidential terms. Set the goal, fund it properly, and stop changing your mind every 4 years, 8 years, or every speech.

Blackarrow
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posted 08-16-2012 04:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SkyMan1958:
Given the financial realities of the Japanese budget, the EU budget and the Russian budget I find it hard to believe that the other countries would do much more than paper planning on manned lunar exploration...
Here's a thought... NASA is developing a heavy-lift booster for manned missions beyond low Earth orbit. NASA is developing a spacecraft capable of taking a crew of four into deep space. What if NASA's partners in the International Space Station designed and constructed a lunar landing vehicle similar to the cancelled Altair lander? There you go — all the hardware for renewed exploration of the Moon. All the better if NASA offers expertise and RL-10 rocket engines.

Is anyone talking about this? If not, why not? If other ISS partners want to explore the Moon but don't have the funds to do it alone, why aren't they hammering on NASA's door today? Why aren't NASA encouraging them to hammer on NASA's door?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-16-2012 04:12 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 328KF:
Obama's goals for space seem to continually change.
As cited above, from his very first address concerning space policy, President Obama laid out his exploration goals for NASA:
  1. Send a crewed mission out to an asteroid by 2025;
  2. Send a crewed mission to Mars orbit by the mid-2030s; and
  3. Send a crewed mission to land on Mars by the 2050s.
Those three goals have remained consistent in the President's speeches, NASA's policy papers and addresses throughout Obama's first term in office.
quote:
Phobos is most widely thought to be a captured asteroid. If you're going to go all the way to Mars without landing (and I realize that there are good reasons to do so) why not just land there?
There is an exponential jump in complexity and budget when you add a lander to a mission. Compare the equipment requirements, training and budgets needed for Apollo 8 and Apollo 11.

But if like the Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) mission proposed first, a lander is not necessary, then Phobos becomes a good target and one I don't think has been ruled out by NASA...

quote:
Asteroids are a sidetrack from this goal.
There are multiple reasons why a crewed asteroid mission is a good idea before going all the way out to Mars, including giving Orion the deep space exposure and flight test needed before a six month journey to the Red Planet. It also provides real world experience for our astronauts and mission control to work out mission operations at large distances between Earth and the spacecraft. Heading directly out to Mars is paramount to sending Apollo 7 directly to the moon...

328KF
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posted 08-16-2012 08:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Wikipedia:
In November 2007, the Obama presidential campaign released a policy document delaying NASA's Constellation program by five years to fund education programs. There was concern that any delay would prolong the gap after the Space Shuttle's retirement, when the US would be dependent on the Russian government for access to the International Space Station. Other presidential candidates, including Hillary Clinton, did not support the delay.

In January 2008, the Obama campaign revised its position, supporting the immediate development of the Crew Exploration Vehicle and the Ares I rocket to narrow the gap. However, the new policy was silent on the heavy lift Ares V rocket and missions beyond low Earth orbit.

Obama gave the first major space policy speech of his campaign in Titusville, Florida in August 2008. He subsequently approved a seven-page space plan that committed to target dates for destinations beyond low Earth orbit: "He endorses the goal of sending human missions to the Moon by 2020, as a precursor in an orderly progression to missions to more distant destinations, including Mars."

Obama was noted for "having offered more specifics about his plans for NASA than any U.S. presidential candidate in history", but his record on keeping his campaign promises has been mixed.

The Obama administration instituted the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee, also known as the Augustine Commission, to review the human spaceflight plans of the United States after the time NASA had planned to retire the Space Shuttle.

Their goal was to ensure the nation is on "a vigorous and sustainable path to achieving its boldest aspirations in space." The review was announced by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on May 7, 2009. The report was released on October 22, 2009.

The Committee judged the 9 year old Constellation program to be so behind schedule, underfunded and over budget that meeting any of its goals would not be possible. The President removed the program from the 2010 budget effectively canceling the program. One component of the program, the Orion crew capsule was added back to plans but as a rescue vehicle to complement the Russian Soyuz in returning Station crews to Earth in the event of an emergency.

In its final report, the Committee proposed three basic options for exploration beyond low Earth orbit, and appeared to favor the third option: Mars First, with a Mars landing, perhaps after a brief test of equipment and procedures on the Moon. Moon First, with lunar surface exploration focused on developing the capability to explore Mars. A Flexible Path to inner solar system locations, such as lunar orbit, Lagrange points, near-Earth objects and the moons of Mars, followed by exploration of the lunar surface and/or Martian surface.

In his April 15, 2010 space policy speech at Kennedy Space Center announcing the administration's plans for NASA, none of the 3 plans outlined in the Committees final report were completely selected. The President rejected immediate plans to return to the Moon on the premise that the current plan had become nonviable. He instead promised $6 billion in additional funding and called for development of a new heavy lift rocket program to be ready for construction by 2015 with manned missions to Mars orbit by the mid-2030s.

So, in a nutshell, there is the history of Obama's space exploration policy. Sounds like the very definition of inconsistency to me. And this doesn't even get into the whole ISS transport debacle.

I'm not trying to be partisan here, just dealing with the facts of his track record. Believe me, I have no great hopes for the other party and what they might do to the program, given that their candidate has said essentially nothing remotely supportive regarding space.

I eagerly await hearing their empty promises too.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-16-2012 08:56 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 328KF:
I eagerly await hearing their empty promises too.
Defending the "other guys" for a moment...

A campaign does not and cannot set policy, so referencing anything before Obama — or any presidential candidate — says before he was in office is, at best, a distraction.

(Sadly, partisan politics has forced campaign promises into the realm of the impossible; no one can set consistent policy without knowing the conditions that will exist when the decision is actually being made, let alone the "full picture" details that are only available after the candidate enters office.)

What the Wikipedia summary omits is the now public internal White House memo that acknowledges that the President had to forgo his campaign pledge to sustain a robust space exploration program due to the state of the economy.

With that in mind, the only citation from Wikipedia that really matters is the last paragraph, which unfortunately is light on the details (it omits, for example, any mention of a crewed asteroid mission, which was in the same April 2010 address).

So if you examine the facts, the President's goals for space exploration have remained consistent throughout his term in office. The means of achieving those goals did change, in no small part because of Congress, but the goals themselves have been as clearly defined as "send a man to the moon and return him home safely" since 2010.

Fra Mauro
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posted 08-17-2012 09:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A manned landing on Mars by the 2050s? National space policy should get its' own reality show.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-17-2012 09:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In 1969, von Braun projected that the earliest a Mars landing could occur would be 1982 — 13 years later — and that was hinged on not only canceling all the J-class Apollo missions but maintaining Apollo level funding for the full 13 years.

He also made that proposal seven years before ever landing anything on Mars, even though planning for a lander had begun in 1964.

Today, we know much more about the challenges of landing on Mars and perhaps more importantly, what we don't know. There are still significant biological and engineering problems, to say nothing of how to sustain funding not just in the ramp up to the mission but during the mission itself (look at how close we've come to shutting down the ISS while there have been astronauts aboard — but with a Mars mission, you can't simply have them turn around and come home).

The 2050s may seem a distant future, but it's within the reasonable lifetime of most people under 50 years of age today...

328KF
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posted 08-17-2012 10:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, call me unconventional, but believe it or not I DO hold our elected leaders accountable for their positions, promises, and opinions put forth while campaigning for their office. I would think most people do... it is the basis of our political system.

Candidates work hard to endear themselves to the population, even going to great lengths to make a "personal connection" with certain voter pools in critical states by expressing a deep commitment to furthering their interests. This is what Obama did in Florida, but the actual results are far different.

We can spend all day debating who is most culpable for our current predicament, but I'd rather look forward.

To get back to the original topic, we need real leadership in establishing a viable near term exploration program. The article referenced indicates that other global space agencies are teaming up to spread the cost of lunar exploration, while we are apparently striking out on our own to asteroids and Mars (way out in 2050... several Presidents and many budget cycles away).

The result is fairly predictable — we will never get there. Already, the Romney "space policy" consists solely of "putting together a group of our best and brightest to plan a way forward." Well, we just did that, only our current President didn't really take their advice. We've done the same a few times in the past, yet those reports are collecting dust in some D.C. archive.

Other countries are now taking note of our lack of navigational skills, and are looking at other options. We are no longer the only major player in town. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that our leadership's only potential motivation for moving away from earth might be the image of a Chinese lunar rocket stacked on the pad.

This is not 1961. I'm not looking for another Kennedy speech. The world has changed dramatically, but our leaders need to wake up and adapt, or else we risk learning what it felt like to be a Soviet watching their competitors accomplish a goal they were unable to.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-17-2012 12:05 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 328KF:
...what it felt like to be a Soviet watching their competitors accomplish a goal they were unable to.
Contemporary reports from inside the Soviet Union and around the world suggest that the shared experience was that humans landed on the moon, or rather, at that moment in time, they were all Americans.

It's like watching the Olympics and taking pride in another country's athlete because s/he has demonstrated what a human can achieve.

Fra Mauro
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posted 08-17-2012 02:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Both parties and their "leaders" share the responsibility for the space policies of today. I just find it amusing that a President can set a national goal for 40-plus years from now. By the way, for the fun of it, I nominate Gene Simmons to be the NASA chief in my reality series (poor guy just had his show cancelled!).

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