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  Exploration: Asteroids, Moon and Mars
  Gene Cernan on the future of the space program (Page 2)

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Author Topic:   Gene Cernan on the future of the space program
capoetc
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Posts: 1705
From: Newnan GA (USA)
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 09-03-2012 02:17 PM     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:
... The point is, what the mass media reports and what actually happened is often two different things, which is a sad state of affairs.

Well, this discussion seems to be going nowhere fast, but ... to make sure I understand correctly, are you suggesting that cancellation of Project Constellation did not result in cancellation of the US' manned lunar landing program? Was the BBC article (and other similar articles from early 2010) reporting this inaccurately?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

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

posted 09-03-2012 02:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Constellation was never only a lunar program, but it got so conflated with one by the mass media that NASA had no recourse but to stop use of the title. Constellation was intended to be the umbrella title for all human space exploration efforts ("moon, Mars and beyond").

When the Orlando Sentinel first broke the news of the President's new space policy, they reported it as cancelling the moon, but that was not what was originally intended. The moon wasn't taken off the table as a destination (it remains one today) but the Ares (and Orion, initially) architecture was being canceled (according to NASA, the Altair lunar lander program had earlier been frozen by the Bush administration due to budget constraints).

The major difference between President Obama's space policy and those that preceded it (Reagan through W. Bush) was that it was the first time exploration goals were chosen based on what the projected budget could support rather than trying to make NASA find a way to make it work within its existing budget. And because everyone seemed to agree that Mars was the ultimate destination (even former Apollo astronauts) the resources that would be required to support a moon landing were deemed an expense we couldn't afford now.

But President Obama didn't ban lunar research or mission planning (as a previous Congress did for Mars). Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and GRAIL were going forward, and future lunar planning continues (including the Morpheus lander and the RESOLVE rover technology demonstrators).

Orthon
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Posts: 110
From: Gilbert, Arizona 85296
Registered: May 2002

posted 09-03-2012 02:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Orthon   Click Here to Email Orthon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, as far as the NASA people supporting an asteroid mission - yes, of course they are going to support it. They supported solid rocket boosters on the shuttle also. They want to be employed just as much as you or I. I do have 33 years in the aerospace business and have worked on major programs - goverment and civilian, so I'm not in the dark as you imply.

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

posted 09-03-2012 02:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not implying anyone is in the dark.

The idea of sending a manned mission to an asteroid began within NASA and industry circles during the Bush administration. It wasn't President Obama's idea. So to suggest that those in NASA supporting an asteroid mission are only doing so because it is the President's policy is wrong.

SpaceAholic
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Posts: 3023
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-03-2012 03:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
They are acting on it because it is the presidents policy/direction - if the current administration made return to the moon its primary goal then that would be the major focus of NASA engineers subject to congressional appropriation.

Fra Mauro
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Posts: 1017
From: Maspeth, NY
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 09-03-2012 07:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A few thoughts;
  1. Why not a man-tended lunar base instead of a full-time base?
  2. This asteroid mission only was proposed by the President after Congressional opposition to his original space plan.
  3. Constellation is a rare example of a program being cancelled outright. Many are changed, or extended over years. It just makes people suspicious.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

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

posted 09-03-2012 07:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
  1. You would still need a lander, regardless how long crews would stay on the surface. Under NASA's projected budget, the program couldn't afford to develop both a crew capsule and a lander.

  2. The original plan was to take the relatively short time needed to identify the right technologies, right vehicles and right destinations to build a foundation for a sustainable space exploration program. When that was rejected, the asteroid goal was chosen as the beyond-LEO crewed mission that could be accomplished within NASA's budget.

  3. Programs canceled outright: X-33, X-38, Orbital Space Plane and the Space Exploration Initiative.

Fra Mauro
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Posts: 1017
From: Maspeth, NY
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 09-04-2012 06:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I meant to say that space programs get cut outright, as opposed to other agencies.

328KF
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Registered: Apr 2008

posted 09-04-2012 10:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I mentioned some thoughts from Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson earlier in this discussion that came from his great book Space Chronicles. Tonight, Book TV is showing a lecture he gave back in March with some Q&A at the end.

When asked about the current direction of the U.S. manned space program, he had this to say:

I don't want the reason to fund our space program to be so that we can deflect an asteroid, because once we inventory them all and we find out that the next one that needs deflecting is in a hundred years, the funding goes away... it will quadruple NASA's funding and then we get a better measurement of the asteroid and we find out it's not going to hit us and all of the funding dries up just as it did after we landed on the moon.

That is the wrong starter motivation to get a healthy space program. It'll work, but it will be a one-off. I don't want a one off. The problem is the data on asteroids is on time scales longer than the re-election time of our representatives.

Eighty eight percent of Congress runs for re-election every two years... and I say an asteroid is going to come in a hundred years? Well, I'm not going there. It'll work... when the time comes. Fine.

But ya know it might not work because if we don't do space between now and then, it might too late to start a new space program to make that happen. And ya know what if we go extinct by an asteroid yet had a space program available to us to have deflected it, we would be the laughing stock of aliens in the galaxy!

He also had some interesting points to make about why he never wants to be the NASA Administrator, lunar bases, and commercial space.

His entire talk can be viewed here. Very entertaining to watch.


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