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  Exploration: Asteroids, Moon and Mars
  Flight Director Chris Kraft on NASA's new direction

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Author Topic:   Flight Director Chris Kraft on NASA's new direction
SpaceAholic
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Posts: 3053
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-04-2013 04:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Arstechnica:
Kraft is derisive of new heavy lift capability, stating that instead of focusing on the ability to lift cargo 120 tons at a time—one of SLS' primary goals—NASA should use existing launch vehicles with lower payload capacities and lower operational costs, like Atlas, Delta, and the European Ariane. "We've got those smarts, we've learned that, we have that institutional knowledge, and yet we're ignoring it," he laments. "It's a tragedy. It really is."

Kraft was also quick to dismiss NASA's current asteroid hunting plans, instead favoring the establishment of a more permanent presence on the moon. "Congress is already saying what NASA is doing is wrong. They're saying they don't like the asteroid mission. Most in Congress want to see NASA go back to the moon. So do nearly all of the scientific and technical organizations in the world," said Kraft.

A simple return to the moon to plant more flags and make more footprints, though, is not what Kraft has in mind. Instead, he envisions an operational factory producing solar panels to harvest energy. "You could provide enough electrical power on the moon from solar cells, and eventually you could supply enough power for half the people on Earth with a solar cell farm on the moon," he said. Kraft is also quick to point out that such a return should be a joint venture between NASA and other space agencies rather than NASA operating on its own; this is coming at a time when the partner relationships that made the International Space Station possible are beginning to crumble.

But Kraft's harshest words are directed right where they should be: at the top. "Bolden," said Kraft of NASA administrator Charles Bolden, "doesn't know what it takes to do a major project. He doesn't have experience with that. He's never known what it takes to do a massive program. He keeps talking about going to Mars in the 2030s, but that's pure, unadulterated, BS."

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27653
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-04-2013 04:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The original Houston Chronicle interview on which the Ars Technica article is based can be read here.

Rick Boos
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Posts: 833
From: Celina,Ohio U.S.A.
Registered: Feb 2000

posted 09-04-2013 07:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Boos   Click Here to Email Rick Boos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I for one agree with everything Kraft said! It's nice to see someone tell it as it is... or the way it should be!

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-04-2013 08:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with Kraft that we should be taking more advantage of the Delta and Atlas rockets (and I would add Falcon and possibly Antares) but I don't understand how he can justify saying that the U.S. cannot afford the Space Launch System but can afford to establish and sustain a factory on the moon.

I could go point for point through Kraft's other assertions but I think his bias shows through in one particularly telling remark:

Who wants to operate something that's 40 minutes, by voice, from the Earth. Why would you want to do that? As an operator, damned if I like that. If I'm on the moon, I've got a 3 second turnaround. Everything I go to do on Mars I've got to prepare to do in an automatic mode. That’s not very smart. Pretty much everything we need to do on Mars can be done robotically.
Kraft appears convinced that there is no worthwhile human mission if it means the crew needs to operate independently from Mission Control. Given his history, its understandable why he would think such a way, but it is a view I do not think can be supported objectively.

cspg
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Posts: 4166
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 09-05-2013 12:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Given his history, its understandable why he would think such a way, but it is a view I do not think can be supported objectively.
Why not? Scenarios like Apollo 13, the movie "Gravity" or any catastrophic event would have to be handled by the crew alone. Can't call Houston for advice...(ok, you can but by the time you get an answer, it must be the right one and you need to be still alive). Maybe Chris Kraft's point is just that: any solar system explorers will have to be able to achieve a degree of an autonomy (the analogy to the robot) never experienced before (unless maybe Arctic explorers early last century). And failure will be an option this time. Unless you put the money... and we're back to square one.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27653
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-05-2013 12:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is it optimal to have a mission control to consult? Absolutely. But should the ability to communicate with Earth in a timely fashion be the deciding rule as to where it's worthwhile to send humans? I would say no.

In a nutshell, failure should be an option. None of humanity's greatest endeavors — the moon landings included — have been accomplished without the loss of life. People have died in the name of exploration since the first cavemen went in search of the next cave. Why should space exploration be any different?

issman1
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From: UK
Registered: Apr 2005

posted 09-05-2013 01:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Delta 4 Heavy should have been the only choice for lofting Orion and any potential landing craft.

SLS is simply a jobs programme for the post-shuttle era (2021 before an astronaut ever launches on top of it).

I am surprised by Kraft's dismissal of a human mission to Mars. Since there is no political will anywhere in the world, however, then it probably doesn't matter.

cspg
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Posts: 4166
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 09-05-2013 01:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Is it optimal to have a mission control to consult? Absolutely. But should the ability to communicate with Earth in a timely fashion be the deciding rule as to where it's worthwhile to send humans? I would say no.

Put that way, I'll agree with you.

cspg
Member

Posts: 4166
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 09-05-2013 01:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
SLS is simply a jobs programme for the post-shuttle era.

Maybe. But what about the post-ISS era? Will there be another space station? If so, there won't be a space shuttle to ferry the bits and pieces to assemble it. And it would have to be more spacious (say, Skylab and Mir merging). Also, if you want to send anybody further out into the solar system, you're not going to do it by assembling a couple of Orion spacecraft (unless the crew is put to sleep during the flight ). Using existing rockets will require some on-orbit assembly. And how will this be done? I'm not in favor of huge rockets but not having them is like saying the 747 or A380 shouldn't have been developed.

All times are CT (US)

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