HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
  |  REGISTER  |  LOGIN  |  HELP
Blogs
Blog

NASA Wants Back in the Space Game

NO RATINGS
View Comments: Threaded|Newest First|Oldest First
GTOlover
User Rank
Platinum
Politician and beuracrat problem
GTOlover   12/18/2013 8:18:55 AM
NO RATINGS
Rob, nice to know the engineers are ready, willing, and able to go. However, not to throw water on the fire, $17 trillion in debt and politicians cannot think of anything in this bloated beuracracy that could be cut, except NASA and drug research. Until the socialist experimenting of the current government is put under wraps and Americans rise up an take personal responsibility, those gungho engineers will soon lose their willingness, then their readiness, and finally their ability.

Vote for any incumbant is a vote for this status quo. Want something different, vote ALL the bums out, including your favored congress critter. Stop looking at the party affliation and maybe, just maybe Washington DC can get a clue and see the importance of fiscal responsibility and true investments in things like NASA returning to human space travel (and more of those robot probes on other planets besides Mars).

Nancy Golden
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Politician and beuracrat problem
Nancy Golden   12/18/2013 10:15:23 AM
NO RATINGS
Sadly, GTOlover makes a good point: "Stop looking at the party affliation and maybe, just maybe Washington DC can get a clue and see the importance of fiscal responsibility and true investments in things like NASA returning to human space travel."

As a child and young adult I was greatly inspired by NASA and have tried to pass that on to my own kids - however it has been much harder since the tangible developments that people could see have faded away from the public eye. In the present state of affairs - it doesn't seem like it is likely to change soon. It is good to know that development efforts have not stopped and hopefully the research being done today will be implemented in the future. We certainly need something inspirational right now and looking towards the stars has always been one of those things.


BTW - very cool pic Rob - wish I could have been there!


naperlou
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Politician and beuracrat problem
naperlou   12/18/2013 10:46:03 AM
NO RATINGS
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. 

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Politician and beuracrat problem
Rob Spiegel   12/18/2013 1:26:39 PM
NO RATINGS
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.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Politician and beuracrat problem
Rob Spiegel   12/18/2013 10:29:41 AM
NO RATINGS
I think it's a little more complicated than that, GTOlover. This level of debt is understandable coming out of a near-depression crash that was caused by a financial meltdown. Between the sequester and new growth, we'll see the deficit shrink. Meanwhile, we need to inspire our kids to take up science and math again for our long-term health. If we wait until our finances are perfect, it will never happen. And let's look at the scale. the NASA budget is currently about the same as three or four months of spending in Afghanistan.

GTOlover
User Rank
Platinum
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!

78RPM
User Rank
Gold
Re: Politician and beuracrat problem
78RPM   12/18/2013 4:15:43 PM
NO RATINGS
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.

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
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.

GTOlover
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Politician and beuracrat problem
GTOlover   12/19/2013 8:00:01 AM
NO RATINGS
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.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Politician and beuracrat problem
William K.   12/19/2013 11:57:44 AM
NO RATINGS
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.

TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Attitude
TJ McDermott   12/18/2013 9:46:17 PM
NO RATINGS
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.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Attitude
Rob Spiegel   12/19/2013 10:02:34 AM
NO RATINGS
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.

a.saji
User Rank
Silver
Re: Attitude
a.saji   12/19/2013 11:06:23 PM
NO RATINGS
@Rob: Why do you think they act like that ? Do you think its because they fear on something which might harm their reputation ?   

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Attitude
Rob Spiegel   12/20/2013 8:36:29 AM
NO RATINGS
I'm not sure what you're referring to here, A.saji.

Battar
User Rank
Platinum
Turn around and come back again
Battar   12/19/2013 10:40:04 AM
NO RATINGS
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
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Turn around and come back again
Rob Spiegel   12/19/2013 12:31:27 PM
NO RATINGS
Battar, NASA is finding productive work without human-based flight. As for inspiring our youth, I'm not so sure we're doing a great job of that these days. For math skills among 15-year-olds, we're tied for 27th with Lativa. Hong Kong is number one. I think a great number of our kids want to be pop stars.

TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Turn around and come back again
TJ McDermott   12/19/2013 12:47:52 PM
NO RATINGS
Battar, robots do not have the adaptability of humans. Hubble was orignally designed with maintenance in mind, but even so required fixes that they didn't plan for. Having humans on site saved the telescope. The Galileo robotic probe was a partial failure - its high gain antenna didn't deploy so the data rate was greatly reduced. Had a human been available the antenna could have been fixed. Humans adapt quickly. Robots cannot match that yet.

Battar
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Turn around and come back again
Battar   12/19/2013 3:18:45 PM
NO RATINGS
TJ,

      Humans in space may be adaptable, bu they are not cost-effective. Your comment about Hubble is only partially true, in the sense that for less than the price of a shuttle maintenance flight (including training), you could have sent up a second Hubble telescope. Inspiring kids with spaceflight doesn't impress me.

There are many ways to inspire kids to take up science, and judging by the number of bright young engineers working in high-tech in my neighbourhood, someone isn't doing such a bad job (within 2 hours drive of my humble home there are R&D centres of Google, Sandisk, Intel, TI, Broadcomm, Marvell, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Freescale and many others). 

mrdon
User Rank
Gold
Re: Turn around and come back again
mrdon   12/21/2013 3:47:31 PM
NO RATINGS
Battars

Its nice to know the community your living in has R&D centers able to allow students to see the tech opportunities of the future. There are still alot of US communities that lack the wealth of tech companies able to inspire children to purse STEM based careers. I'm currently working in an Alabama county school district where the unemployment rate is about 7%.

My goal as an Electronics and Robotics Technology instructor is to show high school students the future opportunities in electrical-electronics engineering by establishing a open Maker Lab space learning environment. This lab is to allow students to develop technical skills in soldering, reading circuit schematic diagrams, building analog, digital, and microcontroller devices. The Governor of Alabama has established a Workforce Development Committee to aid high school technology centers, like the one I'm working at, to help inspire high school students to pursue STEM based careers. Also, some students will have opportunities to be employed with small to midsize manufacturing companies after graduating from high school based on the technical training received at the technology centers. This too, will help the Alabama economy and inspire the next batch of elementary and middle school students to receive the same technical training.

TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Turn around and come back again
TJ McDermott   12/22/2013 7:41:23 PM
NO RATINGS
Battar, the hubble website states the cost of the Hubble telescope at launch time was $1.5 billion.  NASA states the cost of an average shuttle launch is $450 million.  Your statement doesn't jibe with the numbers I can find.

The Hubble launched with undiscovered defects in its primary system - and that system was NOT designed for easy on-orbit maintenance.  Repairs included humans doing repairs to hardware that wasn't designed to have gloved astronaut hands doing the manipulation, and they succeeded.

Note I've said nothing about inspiring the next generation.  I'm talking about humans stepping in to rapidly adapt to unexpected situations.

Intelsat VI would never have been repaired if not for the hands of three astronauts simultaneously - the robotic portions of the original mission to recover and repair the satellite (which was never intended to be serviced in the first place) didn't work.  Three astronauts manhandled the satellite into its work cradle.

 

Battar
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Turn around and come back again
Battar   12/23/2013 2:26:09 AM
NO RATINGS
TJ,

     The 1.5B$ of the Hubble space telescope is mainly NRE, so duplicating it doesn't cost another 1.5B$. I'm not suggesting robotic missions to repair satellites - my position is that launching multiple satellites, for redundancy, is always cheaper than launching manned replair missions.  Sending humans to space makes for good prime time TV, but for practical purposes, such as research and communications, it is just not a cost-effective solution.

450M$ to send astronauts into low-Earth orbit? That was what it cost to send the "Spirit" robot to Mars. Value for money? 

bobjengr
User Rank
Platinum
NASA
bobjengr   12/21/2013 1:56:58 PM
NO RATINGS
Well put Charles--I agree with you completely.  I'm afraid we have turned the corner on providing any real "fixes" to our economic condition within the next two or even three decades.   It appears to me the will to do so does not exist in Washington.  The political types can think of every reason to play the "small game" and not the "big game" of putting us back into competition with the Chinese and the Indians.   When the shuttle program was finished and no follow-up plans were approved for manned-missions, I knew we were in for a real letdown. The space program inspired thousands of kids--this one included.  

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: NASA
Rob Spiegel   12/22/2013 11:36:24 PM
NO RATINGS
I agree about the space program inspiring kids, Bobjengr. It inspired a whole generation. We all wanted to be astronauts.

GlennA
User Rank
Gold
NASA and private partners
GlennA   12/25/2013 12:59:35 PM
NO RATINGS
The climate between NASA and private space companies is supposed to be very good now.  Does anyone have more information about a Space-X and NASA collaboration for manned missions ?  Supposedly the Falcon was designed to be human-rated from the start, instead of a corgo-rated version to be followed by a human-rated version.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: NASA and private partners
Rob Spiegel   12/30/2013 1:04:57 PM
NO RATINGS
After talking with NASA scientists, it's my impression that yes, NASA is supportive of private-sector space developments. And while NASA continues to develop technologies to support human-based missions, they have yet to get a go-ahead from our political leaders.

notarboca
User Rank
Gold
Re: NASA and private partners
notarboca   12/30/2013 2:20:44 PM
NO RATINGS
Just the thought of being human mission ready in three years is intriguing and goes to show that NASA is not just wasting money.  I would also think that NASA would be supportive of private ventures to fill in the spaces where they don't have budget.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: NASA and private partners
Rob Spiegel   1/3/2014 1:38:04 PM
NO RATINGS
Yes, Notarboca, the NASA folks were very positive about private venture developments.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: NASA and private partners
Ann R. Thryft   1/3/2014 1:01:07 PM
NO RATINGS
Rob, thanks for this report on what NASA is up to. I've looked at some of the pieces of what they're doing, such as the 3D printer development, some of the robotics and rover R&D, and their interest in developing more private-sector materials and other tech for human space flight:
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=268174
It's great to get a firsthand overview of what they're thinking about. Lucky you to have that tour and thanks for sharing it.



Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: NASA and private partners
Rob Spiegel   1/3/2014 2:43:45 PM
NO RATINGS
Thanks for the link, Ann. What are your thoughts about human-based versus non-human-based missions?

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: NASA and private partners
Ann R. Thryft   1/3/2014 3:46:21 PM
NO RATINGS
You're welcome, Rob. The fact that I write a lot about NASA and others working on space exploration robots pretty much sums up my views. I think the idea of human exploration is very catchy, and has a lot of psychological momentum behind it, but I don't think it's a likely reality, either technically, financially or politically.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: NASA and private partners
Rob Spiegel   1/7/2014 7:42:06 AM
NO RATINGS
Ann, do you think China's move to the moon will chnage the U.S. view of human-based space flight? 

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: NASA and private partners
Ann R. Thryft   1/7/2014 11:59:13 AM
NO RATINGS
That's a tough one to predict, Rob. I'd think that since the Chinese sent a robot not a human, it might encourage the US to pursue robotic, not human, space flight. But that might be too logical...

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: NASA and private partners
Rob Spiegel   1/15/2014 2:23:49 PM
NO RATINGS
Actually, that is pretty logical, Ann. The next space race may be the race of robots. Could be a good movie.

Partner Zone
More Blogs
Released on September 19, 2014, this 5.5 inch screen iPhone is the larger version of the iPhone 6, whose teardown follows tomorrow.
A group of researchers at the Seoul National University have discovered a way to take material from cigarette butts and turn it into a carbon-based material that’s ideal for storing energy and creating a powerful supercapacitor.
Hacking has a long history in the movies, beginning with Tron and War Games and continuing through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
New manufacturing is changing more than just the plant floor. It's changing how manufacturers do business.
Design News Webinar Series
9/10/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
7/23/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
7/17/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
9/25/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Sep 22 - 26, MCU Software Development – A Step-by-Step Guide (Using a Real Eval Board)
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Next Class: September 30 - October 2
Sponsored by Altera
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service