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NASA Wants Back in the Space Game

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William K.
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Re: Politician and beuracrat problem
William K.   12/19/2013 11:57:44 AM
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I agree with GTOlover that the financial part of the problem is coming from the people in government, which none of them are the ones that I voted for, and that the mess that has been created is bad enough that fixing it won't be a small thing.

But there is another problem that looks far worse, as I see it, which is that so many of those who we would hope would be inspired are unable or unwilling to focus their attention long enough to understand what is being presented and discussed. How can one explain anything to an individual whose attention can't last for a whole sentence? That is the problem that I see.

Battar
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Turn around and come back again
Battar   12/19/2013 10:40:04 AM
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It's difficult to put forward a convincing case for manned spaceflight. What can I do in space - or on Mars - that a robot can't do for 1/10th the cost and 1/100th the risk? "Inspire our children", as the writer puts it? Well if I can't do any "inspiring" without a billion$ space vehicle then I'm not very good at the job. Show the Chinese that I'm  better than them? Not very adult. 

NASA can find for more productive work for its' research dollars.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Attitude
Rob Spiegel   12/19/2013 10:02:34 AM
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Good points, TJ. Interestingly, the NASA engineers were very bullish in private enterprises moves toward space, whether it's SpaceX, Boeing, sierra Nevada or Virgin Galaxy. It was refreshing that they didn't pooh-pooh any of that.

GTOlover
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Re: Politician and beuracrat problem
GTOlover   12/19/2013 8:00:01 AM
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Well put Charles, thank you.

As 78rpm put it, private companies must help get us there. To that end, we have to convince our government to NOT get in their way. If anything, help them like they are fond of helping the wind guys.

TJ McDermott
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Attitude
TJ McDermott   12/18/2013 9:46:17 PM
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NASA simply MUST change its attitude.  The "not-invented-here" attitude has to go.  The bloated behemoth that is the new SLS must be discarded for the likes of commercial boosters.  I find it difficult to believe the SLS will actually be built - instead it will consume huge gobs of money and give no tangible hardware.

This is not a slam on the engineers Rob met.  NASA leadership has to focus their energies to a real result.

SpaceX is making waves because E. Musk is showing us where he plans to take the company.  It makes SpaceX seem very forward-looking.  Boeing and Lockheed-Martin have mature boosters - they need to take a page from Musk and show us their vision for their commercial future.

Charles Murray
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Re: Politician and beuracrat problem
Charles Murray   12/18/2013 5:40:43 PM
I would love to see us return to space travel. It would pay amazing dividends -- especially in private technology development down the road. It would provide a needed boost for national morale. As Rob points out, it would also re-focus our educational priorities toward science and math. And its cost would be relatively small compared to the overall national debt. Having said that, though, the national debt remains a huge obstacle. Since 2000 (eight years of a Republican president and five years of a Dem) it has gone from $5.6 trillion to $17 trillion. Here's a bit of very simplified math: If you pay down the debt at $100 million per day, without regard for the present or future value of money, it would take 465 years to go back to zero. (That's 17 trillion divided by 100 million per day) Regardless of political persuasion and personal preference, it's going to be difficult to shake money loose in that kind of climate, especially with social security and medicare in their current financial straights. So, yes, I'd love to see it, but I'm not sure we can convince our leaders to share this opinion.

78RPM
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Re: Politician and beuracrat problem
78RPM   12/18/2013 4:15:43 PM
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I see great hope for young people in the trend toward open source architectures. Students can get into technology inexpensively as seen in Arduino, BeagleBone, and the software. They also have educational opportunities via Khan Academy and Coursera.org. Then there is the inspiration that comes from Elon Musk's SpaceX company and his setting the Hyperloop free into open source. I do hope there are plenty of good teachers turning students on to these opportunities.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Politician and beuracrat problem
Rob Spiegel   12/18/2013 1:26:39 PM
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Good point, Naperlou. I think going to Mars with humans on board would be a great goal. It could inspire a whole new generation of kids to look at science and math. A village on the moon or the mining of an asteroid would also be great goals.

GTOlover
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Re: Politician and beuracrat problem
GTOlover   12/18/2013 10:52:00 AM
While I like your optimism, current fiscal trends do not support your vision. NASA is a small budget compared to other spending items, but NASA is the one getting the cutbacks! As Nancy stated, the technology is not as visible as when I was a kid watching moon landings and space shuttle launches in school! Because it is not visible, the public does not get upset when politicians cut the NASA budget. It is safe for them because there is not enough engineers and science geeks to trouble their re-election. They give lip sesrvice to fiscal responsibility while we still spend billions nation building.

Besides, if you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance pretty much sums it up for me!

naperlou
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Re: Politician and beuracrat problem
naperlou   12/18/2013 10:46:03 AM
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Nancy and GTOlover are right.  We have failed to create a sustainable capability around space travel.  We still launch satellites with the basic technology used decades ago.  Having worked on a lot of this stuff, the issue seems to me to be the government involvement, specifically NASA.  What we need from government is some way to build an infrastructure for space travel.  That was what the shuttle was suspossed to be, but they botched that royally.  The achievements that are mentioned being performed by other countries are just imitations of things the US has already done. 

The issue, and this is where the politicians are a problem, is that we need a goal.  Then we need to fund it. 

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