Mars by 2030 target - Obama

-danr-

Vice Admiral
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8623691.stm

*Edit - actually the article says mid- 2030's...

Not sure if this is too off-topic for the Wing Commander chat zone, nevertheless a sign of the exciting times we live in - that most of us will probably live to see manned missions to Mars.

Keeping in on topic, they'd better hurry up with regards to spaceflight technology - I'm pretty sure my copy of Victory Streak refers to Caernarvon station already being up and running by 2042, I'm almost certain this was a typo :p
 

Vinman

Vice Admiral
I hate to be a downer, but I'll believe it when I see it. These projects die slow, horrible deaths as soon as a new president/congress cuts funding, which seems to be every five years or so.
 

Szegedin

Spaceman
a 30 year goal, seems realistic - if the program was aggressively pursued and well funded throughout - but in this case 30 years seems like chumping out, it's just long enough that we don't have to see any progress in the immediate future, yet the admin can still point toward the horizon with a straight face...

I don't believe this administration has any plans to give NASA the resources to pursue a Mars objective...and even if they did, there's no guarantee successive administrations and congresses would follow suit. There is just no drive to develop space tech. Without a space-race I bet congress and the American public wouldn't tolerate the expensive failures required to move toward a safe, workable Mars mission....the momentum behind Apollo for example meant that NASA was allowed to fail before it succeeded...in the current age I bet a single large-scale failure would spell doom for NASA's ambitions -- unfortunately failure is necessary for innovation.

I'd be plenty happy if NASA decides to focus on relatively cheaper probe and rover technology for the next 30-50 years, lets get something on Titan and Europa. NASA should go 'guerilla.'
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Not sure if this is too off-topic for the Wing Commander chat zone, nevertheless a sign of the exciting times we live in - that most of us will probably live to see manned missions to Mars.

The whole thing is politics for 'we don't have a manned spaceflight program anymore'; if there's a bright center to exciting times, this is the point furthest from it.
 
Hm... *Inspect my CD-collection* Yup, there is a CD with music composed for a mission to Mars in 2000 - not that THAT mission left the ground either. Definitely exciting, but I'll start believing when I see the rocket passing gas on the pad. Or pictures of it, anyway.
 

Farbourne

Rear Admiral
40 years after the first modern internal combustion engine was first used to drive a car (mid 1880's), cars were common all over the world, and we had invented tanks and airplanes driven by the same technology.

40 years after the first airplane flew (1903), we had high-performance monoplanes and the first prototypes of jet aircraft.

40 years after the first liquid fueled rocket flew (1926), we had flown rocket-powered aircraft faster than Mach 1, put a man in space, and, in a couple more years, would walk on the moon.

Just over 40 years after Watson and Crick correctly identified the structure of DNA, we have mapped the human genome.

40 years after we first put a man on the moon...we lack the technology to go back.

:(
 

Cardinal

Spaceman
The whole thing is politics for 'we don't have a manned spaceflight program anymore'; if there's a bright center to exciting times, this is the point furthest from it.

I'm forced to agree. There's too many holes in this plan, and whenever the nearest milestone for space exploration is set more than 8 years away, it is more than likely that it will be delayed when the next President shows up. I'm relieved to see Orion return, albeit as an escape pod. Some of the work that's gone on can be salvaged, and there's always the possibility that it can be upgraded for operations beyond earth orbit.

I'm concerned about the switch to "Newspace" for access to LEO, but not because I think they're incapable. Groups like SpaceX and Orbital can succeed given the financial backing that Obama's plan offers. What I'm concerned about is how long it will take to come to fruition, especially since we're retiring the shuttle very soon.

Take a look at Scaled Composites; when SpaceShipOne flew in 2004, it was said that SpaceShipTwo would be up flying tourists by 2007. Well, it's been six years and they finished the prototype a few months ago. With all the work remaining, they're still at least year away. And keep in mind, this is just for suborbital flight; orbital flight is much more difficult.

I also have a hard time believing that the commercial model will be able to close, given that the ISS is the only possible buyer for at least the next decade. The only other possibility for another space station is Bigelow - I'll assume the Chinese can resupply themselves - but that company's schedule may be just as dicey as SpaceX and Orbital. Perhaps with enough subsidization it could work, but that might make it so expensive that it isn't worthwhile.

But my biggest concern is the plan to start design of a new heavy lift vehicle by 2015. There is absolutely no reason why the design work can't begin now. There's no real "game-breaking" technologies which are going to dramatically boost launch vehicle performance that are going to come to fruition in the next five years. As one of my colleagues glumly put it, "The only new rocket that's going to come out of this R&D is a bipropellant engine fueled with Hope and Change."

Don't get me wrong; breakthroughs in fields such as electric propulsion could make a Mars trip very feasible, and achieving them in 5-10 years are very realistic, but if you don't have the vehicle to put it up there, it doesn't mean squat. That's why I have a hard time believing that Obama's plan is anything more than a big smokescreen.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I'm relieved to see Orion return, albeit as an escape pod.

I will eat my hat if this really happens--it's a time shifted cancellation that will avoid blaming the President for layoffs at Lockheed Martin. No one will even notice when yet another unnecessary CRV dies in a year (... or two).
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I think we're getting into a pattern with this. There's no actual need for an ambitious space programme any more (no, wait - there's no need for any space programme at all) - commerce has taken over when it comes to launching satellites, private initiative is catching up, inch by inch, when it comes to more ambitious stuff (like actually putting people in space and such - though "SpaceShipOne" is pretty far from being... you know, a space ship)...

...But the space programme remains hugely attractive to a significant part of the voting public, the young, tertiary-educated males - basically, ask anyone at SlashDot whether it's a good idea to go to Mars, and you'll get a big loud "Yes!". So, every few years, the president will announce a huge initiative to get to Mars by 20XX - Bush said it would be 2020, Obama says it will be 2030. The key here is that the date announced is way, way beyond longterm politics - 2030 is about 5 presidential elections from now. When 2030 comes and passes, Obama will not need to worry in the slightest about the political damage from failing to achieve this goal, just like Bush will never need to worry about not geting to Mars in 2020. In short, it's a great, great thing to promise to get a bunch of naive engineer/it sector folks to vote for you. Given how huge the IT industry in the US is, and the fact that it's likely to grow even more - it's worth spending a few billion on a token NASA project to get that extra 2-3 percent in the next election (especially since it's been years since anyone has thought about holding a president accountable for the budget deficit - people vote for the guy who promises to spend, not the guy who tells them he'll save money).

(to put this into perspective, imagine a president announcing he's shutting down NASA... it would be a perfectly justifiable and reasonable step, but can you imagine the guy getting re-elected, with the entire internet set against him?)
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
...But the space programme remains hugely attractive to a significant part of the voting public, the young, tertiary-educated males - basically, ask anyone at SlashDot whether it's a good idea to go to Mars, and you'll get a big loud "Yes!".

Err. no. The President isn't worried about offending the all-important Slashdot vote, he's worried about an aerospace industry that employs a lot of high-functioning, vocal (and largely politically middle-of-the-road) folks in support of manned spaceflight.

NASA was established by some very clever politicians… and one of its great weapons for self preservation is the fact that space centers (and thus the industries that grew around them) are divided across the especially politically influential states: Florida, California, Texas, Ohio, Virginia, etc. It's no coincidence that these are the states that on occasion single-handedly determine elections.

There's no actual need for an ambitious space programme any more (no, wait - there's no need for any space programme at all) - commerce has taken over when it comes to launching satellites, private initiative is catching up, inch by inch, when it comes to more ambitious stuff (like actually putting people in space and such - though "SpaceShipOne" is pretty far from being... you know, a space ship)...

There was never a need for a government-run space program to do any of these things. The major, direct benefit of space exploration has always been geopolitical--selling the United States to the Third World during the Cold War.
 

Cardinal

Spaceman
I will eat my hat if this really happens--it's a time shifted cancellation that will avoid blaming the President for layoffs at Lockheed Martin. No one will even notice when yet another unnecessary CRV dies in a year (... or two).

I look at it as a very shrewd political decision with some potential technical benefits. If Newspace is unable to work out, then Orion could be fairly easily modified to take on the task.

But yes, it's all politically motivated. Obama wants to look like he's offering a compromise to the general public, but anyone involved in the space business can see through the smokescreen. If Orion actually came to fruition as an escape pod, how many times would we need it? Once?
 

Claymore

Rear Admiral
Just dreaming here, but I was hoping for a Phantom Works built X37"C" by next year (which could accommodate 2-4 astronauts). And a base on Mars by 2022 (going by the Mars in many packages route).
 

Mancubus

Rear Admiral
You Americans (and the by then President especially) will be sooo emabarassed when the chinese men will land on the moon....
 

WCX

Rear Admiral
I for one would laugh my ass off if the Russian Federation landed on the moon, walked around for a bit, picked up the flag left by Apollo 11, returned to earth with it and presented it to the U.S. while saying “Here, I think you forgot this.” ;)
 
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