NASA plans return to moon

NASA plans return to moon (UPI) http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20040108-111922-8569r.htm

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NASA plans to scrap its space shuttle fleet to pay for the agency's new
plan to return to the moon and develop human space exploration systems,
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Bush to Announce Ventures to Mars and the Moon, Officials Say (NYT) http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/09/science/09SPAC.html?hp
-- President Bush will make a speech next week outlining a major space initiative, the White House said last night.
Administration officials said they expected that Mr. Bush would propose a research and development program with the aim of establishing a base on the moon, as a prelude to a longer-term goal of sending humans to Mars.
Aboard Air Force One en route to Washington, the president's press secretary, Scott McClellan, told reporters, "The president directed his administration to do a comprehensive review of our space policy, including our priorities and the future of the program, and the president will have more to say on it next week."
But another administration official cautioned that the proposal could be broad and open-ended, more in the nature of "a mission statement" rather than a detailed road map and schedule.
Still, the announcement, combined with Mr. Bush's call this week to revamp laws regarding immigration, would signal the second major policy initiative put forward by the White House at the beginning of an election year. Both new policy directives would allow the president to be portrayed as an inspirational leader whose vision goes beyond terrorism and tax cuts.
They also would have the added political benefit of diverting attention from the Democratic presidential candidates trudging through the retail politics of the Iowa caucuses.
NASA officials have said publicly since late summer that a group of senior policy advisers, convened by the White House, was meeting to establish new goals for the agency. The report on the Feb. 1 breakup of the space shuttle Columbia, which killed seven astronauts, said one of NASA's problems was the lack of a long-term, inspiring goal and called for a public debate on the issue. But that debate has largely waited for the White House, which has been distracted by the war in Iraq.
The report was released in late August, and in the months since, several news reports have appeared asserting that the White House was preparing to announce a return to the moon as a steppingstone to Mars. Some of these suggested that the announcement would come when the president attended a commemoration of the centennial of powered flight, in Kitty Hawk, N.C., on Dec. 17, but the president made no policy statement there.
In exhorting the country to undertake an ambitious space program, Mr. Bush would follow the example of at least two presidents. In 1961, John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to send a man to the moon by the end of the decade. And in 1989, Mr. Bush's father, George Bush, proposed establishing a base on the Moon, sending an expedition to Mars and beginning "the permanent settlement of space."
But while President Kennedy's challenge resulted in an eight-year sprint to the moon, the elder President Bush's proposal went nowhere. By the time the Columbia space shuttle disintegrated in February, NASA had made no significant progress on how it would return to the moon, much less laying the groundwork for the far more complex question of developing a space ship with sufficient propulsion and speed to take people to Mars.
The NASA administrator, Sean O'Keefe, has spoken publicly in some detail about the problems of a manned landing on Mars, saying the nation would have to develop new methods of propulsion and electricity generation in space and a way to protect the astronauts from large radiation doses.
The problems are related; the radiation dose is proportional to the length of the round trip, which depends in part on propulsion, and the propulsion could be driven by electricity.
The questions Mr. O'Keefe raised are integral to another nagging problem: what should replace the shuttle? There are three surviving shuttles, but the program has been operating for 20 years, and the design is even older. NASA has begun preliminary design work on a new system to carry astronauts to low earth orbit, to reach the International Space Station and presumably achieve other goals as well, but its purpose is not yet clear.
The issue is urgent because any replacement would probably be a decade away, by which time the shuttles, if they are still flying, would be about 30 years old, experts say.
The administration, however, is facing competing priorities, experts say. One question, as noted by the chairman of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board in August, is how much the nation can commit to spending, at a time of record budget deficits.
"This stuff is not cheap," said the chairman, Harold W. Gehman Jr., a retired admiral.
John Logsdon, the director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, who was a member of Admiral Gehman's investigative board, said yesterday evening that the report had "led the administration to say we need to articulate a vision for the program and give a sense of where we're going and why."
Aides on Capitol Hill said they were uncertain about precisely what mission the president would call for, although many analysts have argued that a simple return to the moon, which astronauts first visited almost 35 years ago, would not be enough.
One expert on NASA management, Harold E. McCurdy of American University, said that if, in fact, the plan was to go to the moon, the overall goal would be broader.
"The ultimate purpose of going back to the moon is not to go the moon," Mr. McCurdy said. "It's to go to Mars and explore the inner solar system. It's like climbing Mount Rainier in preparation for an ascent of Mount Everest."
But several space experts said yesterday evening that the announcement might be in the nature of a long-term goal and research program. This would avoid any huge expenditure in the near term, unlike, for example, the drive in the 1960's to reach the moon the first time.
If the announcement comes next week, it will probably occur as NASA's new Mars lander continues to send back stunning photos and other information.
Congressional aides also said they expected the announcement to detail a reorganization of the nation's space effort, to bring the military and civilian sides closer together to make better use of limited resources.
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- iz


Ismaeel Abdur-Rasheed wrote:
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snip

snip
Is scrapping the shuttle fleet something that Bush has actually stated, or is that the press extrapolation? That's a pretty bold statement.
-- David
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Press extrapolation, but it is NASA culture to throw the baby out (ie Saturn V) then start developing a new one (ie Shuttle). The bureaucratic machine cannot see two targets at the same time.
--
Jerry Irvine, Box 1242, Claremont, California 91711 USA
Opinion, the whole thing. <mail to: snipped-for-privacy@gte.net>
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i'll believe it when i actually see it.....by 2013 I'll probbay be dead anyway............ shockie B(

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Ismaeel Abdur-Rasheed wrote:

What's wrong with Russia's A-2/SL-4 (R-7 ICBM based) booster? I don't see a good reason to launch the "interim use" Soyuz vehicle on anything other than what's been successfully launching them for decades.
The bugs have been worked out of this booster for years and it is probably about is reliable as a man rated booster can get. Using an Ariane would mean millions of dollars wasted in refitting and man rating. With Russia's economic troubles, the price should be right too.
Which Ariane variant would they use? The newer Ariane vehicles have had teething problems.
tim
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On Fri, 09 Jan 2004 17:30:35 -0600, Tim

<snip>
In another version of this article it was more clear that the intended use of Arianne was for unmanned resupply.
--
Darren J Longhorn http://www.geocities.com/darrenlonghorn /
NSRG #005 http://www.northstarrocketry.org.uk /
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Darren J Longhorn wrote:

That makes much more sense. :)
tim
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"NASA's research would be redirected to sustaining humans in space. Other research programs not involving humans would be terminated or curtailed."
Jesus Christ.
Everyone please, vote early and often, and get this guy (Bush) out of here.
HDS
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It isn't going to happen folks. Just as the illegal flood of Pedro's into the nation isn't going to be curtailed, the space program is going to be marginalized. We can't afford the projected costs. The integration of the American economy into a world were the average socialist shit head made $1 a day is pulling the national economy down. As the majority of the American public has bought into the bill of goods as to why global trade is good for them and have basically accepted a two tiered economic recovery - the haves vs the have nots and our declining technological and industrial complex, the same public for the most part will buy into this con too!
This is simply a ploy to reduce the scope and size NASA's budget without getting the public upset. It is "Animal Farm Politics" again and it is working. The first step is to provide a visionary goal to focus the public on. The next step is to remove the shuttles and get the public use to not having a large presence in space and to using more imports. Next, there will be cut backs justified by the delay of the new breed of space craft and a decision to do joint construction projects with other nations to keep costs in line and to cement the concept of "international cooperation in space". Lastly, we become a service provider providing launch sites and support.
Why? We can't afford the costs. The nation is well on the way of duplicating Argentina's fiscal nightmares. In short, we are becoming a "Banana Republic". Don't forget to vote for those advocating more welfare, Medicare and more "international trade agreements" folks.

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<< This is simply a ploy to reduce the scope and size NASA's budget without getting the public upset. >>
I don't believe the public gives a hoot about NASA. Most of them think if we stopped spending money on space, war and poverty would magically disappear.
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