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Is NASA On Life Support?


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In reply to an earlier post on Jan 24, 2010 2:50:59 PM PST
M. Helsdon says:
Walter,

"spam in a can," - Chuck Yeager's famous remark which is why he didn't become an astronaut.

"Eventually they were able to get the Mercury design modified enough to allow the astronaut inside to be able to control the orientation of the capsule with attitude jets - powered by hydrogen peroxide, if I remember correctly."

Believe they added a manual mode to supplement the ground control, which was in place for the first manned Mercury mission by Alan Shepard.

Still used in some satellites.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 24, 2010 3:36:24 PM PST
To M. Helsdon:
Aren't the Shuttle attitude control jets direct technological descendents of the Mercury attitude control jets?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 24, 2010 3:54:20 PM PST
M. Helsdon says:
Walter,

"Aren't the Shuttle attitude control jets direct technological descendents of the Mercury attitude control jets?"

As a general technology yes, but they employ hydrazine, not hydrogen peroxide.

Posted on Jan 25, 2010 7:12:29 AM PST
Ah yes, the old "spam in a can" approach. I had forgotten that expression.

Does anyone know if there is still research being done on hypersonic planes? The last NASA test was a few years ago, but I haven't seen anything since. I'm wondering if that went away with the budget hits.

BTW - on that link re. the X-15, one of the versions is a pdf, so you can download it and read it even if you don't have an e-reader.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2010 7:18:26 AM PST
M. Helsdon says:
"Does anyone know if there is still research being done on hypersonic planes? The last NASA test was a few years ago, but I haven't seen anything since. I'm wondering if that went away with the budget hits."

The x-51A Waverider program is still active. Latest news:

http://www.defencetalk.com/x-51a-waverider-gets-first-ride-aboard-b-52-23345/

Posted on Jan 25, 2010 8:40:13 PM PST
Thanks, Martin. When I looked at the X-51A article I was puzzled since it seemed they were repeating the X-43A -> http://www.nasa.gov/missions/research/x43-main.html

I finally figured it out. The X-43A scramjet actually only operated for 10 seconds after a rocket boost, and reached Mach 9.8 back in 2004. The X-51A seems to be the next phase and will operate for 300 seconds, also after an initial rocket boost.

Thanks again for the link!

Posted on Jan 26, 2010 9:22:48 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 26, 2010 9:23:42 AM PST
http://www.propularmechanics.com/science/air_space/4318625.html

This is an article from last year, ... NEXT GENERATION OF NASA ENGINEERS. ("Today, less than 20% of NASA's employees are under 40 ... leading to the charge that NASA is 'mono-generational'." With brief descriptions of a few of NASA's current youngest-and-brightest.)

Also, I saw brief mention, embedded in a semi-related article, that some or all of Johnson Center's Flight Control is being handed over to Purdue University, which has a long history with NASA. If anyone can find an article corroborating (or dismissing) this tidbit of news, please post it here.

Posted on Jan 26, 2010 3:59:38 PM PST
Hoo-Zen!! says:
Yes it is on life support. Just not life as we know it Jim.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 26, 2010 7:21:42 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 26, 2010 7:23:44 PM PST
To Marilyn Martin:
I'm afraid that you've misspelled the link. It's actually:
http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/air_space/4318625.html

I've often thought that NASA was a jobs program for engineers. Apparently, it's a jobs program for AGING engineers! Interestingly enough, NASA's employment practices are the direct opposite of those currently prevailing in American business and industry. I am shocked that "...less than 20% of NASA's employees are under 40..." So NASA is a gerontocracy in action - or rather inaction!

Posted on Jan 26, 2010 8:37:57 PM PST
Below is a link to a Popular Science article about the ongoing debate within NASA about its current and future direction, especially whether the Orion/Ares vehicle(s) are the way to go. The article was published in February, 2009.
http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/air_space/4295233.html?page=1

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 26, 2010 9:19:52 PM PST
To Gregory Mays:
RE: "...an approaching asteroid...has a 75% chance of hitting the ocean..."

Even if an asteriod impacts the ocean, it could generate, depending on its mass and relative velocity, an enormous tsunami that could then devastate continent-size land areas.

Posted on Jan 27, 2010 1:49:30 AM PST
Yog-Sothoth says:
It has long been determined that an ocean strike of an asteroid would be much more devastating in the long run, than a land strike. The sudden release of millions (billions?)of tons of water into the air, as steam and vator vapor would cause a rapid and extreme case of Global Warming - and could even induce a case of "runaway greenhouse warming" - global warming that doesn't stop...and end up like Venus?

It's just a theory....

Posted on Jan 27, 2010 10:53:20 AM PST
Hi Walter!

Thanks for the link-correction, and the link to another NASA article in "Popular Mechanics". (People usually think cars or hot-rods with that magazine, but it also has some very fine articles on our space program!)

Yeah, NASA's "mono-generational" older engineers is an interesting tidbit to speculate on. In one respect, working for NASA is (or was) the pinnacle, or the "dream job come true", so most of those engineers never had any incentive to go work anywhere else. On the other hand, it may now have become an Old Boys Club, distaining outsiders or younger ideas.

The debacle of the next-gen shuttle-that-wasn't, probably has enough blame to spread around to everyone. But I think the engineers overseeing that doomed project, should have sounded the alarm bell sooner. (Maybe working for the government for so long changes one's critical thinking, with endless money and fuzzy long-term goals that no one has to take the blame for when they go wrong. Same problem with the Pentagon and new combat equipment or weapons.)

Posted on Jan 29, 2010 8:17:08 AM PST
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/01/28/obama_nasa_precursor/

According to today's article in the above foreign press outlet, Obama is "officially" abandoning manned Moon and Mars expeditions.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 29, 2010 8:37:02 AM PST
M. Helsdon says:
The actual decision announcement isn't until Monday.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/space/os-no-moon-for-nasa-20100126,0,266846,print.story

Posted on Jan 29, 2010 12:19:31 PM PST
M. Helsdon says:
It looks as if NASA has chosen its spacecraft to take the next generation of explorers to the moon. On page 13 of the press kit "Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO): Leading NASA's Way Back to the Moon", the agency tells us: "At the closest distance, it would take 135 days to drive by car at 70 mph to the moon."

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20527452.300-magic-30s-gruesome-meaning.html

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 29, 2010 1:28:53 PM PST
I have always been a space program buff, so I'm pretty downhearted that President Obama, Congress and the American people as a whole have pretty much "shot down" any notions of American astronauts going to the Moon any time within the next 15-20 years.

The problem is, though, that once we landed on the Moon in 1969, the overall feeling most people felt was, "Okay, we did it. We met JFK's deadline of getting there before the decade was out. Now let's fix our problems here on Earth and not bother with space exploration." Apollo missions were scaled back (I believe there were supposed to go to either Apollo 19 or 20( and the only big NASA project for the 1970s and 1980s was the Shuttle. Manned missions to the Moon and Mars were, and still are, seen to be very expensive and the people at NASA and the government, not to mention the scientific community, never really tried hard to overcome public apathy.

Also, given the Republican Party's aversion to Big Government Programs, tax increases and science in general, I really don't see how President Obama could have mustered the courage to continue his immediate predecessor's Return to the Moon project even if he'd wanted to.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 29, 2010 4:45:46 PM PST
To Marilyn Martin:
RE: "According to today's article in the above foreign press outlet, Obama is "officially" abandoning manned Moon and Mars expeditions."

I'm not really surprised. Obama not only has pretty much abandoned manned space flight, but he will do nothing to encourage nuclear power or anything else that the "environmentalist mafia" doesn't like.

Posted on Jan 30, 2010 7:25:44 AM PST
Hi Walter and Alex!

Yes, I'm seriously disappointed too. Even tho' this has been rumored for a long time.

Part of the role of Best Governments, I believe, is to answer both people's physical and mental "needs". Yes, Obama has his hands full with getting the unemployed back to work, and thrashing out a universal health care plan.

But there are other "needs" people have that are a little more difficult to articulate. How about "future dreams"? How many kids have gone to Space Camp year after year, and are moping around this morning because we no longer have a manned Space Program?

Why not keep alive at least a fifteen-years-in-the-future plans for a manned mission to Mars? Perhaps in conjunction with Russia (who has already offered to combine budgets and resources) or China or ESA? Obama will be long gone by then, but the plan-in-the-pipeline will keep our Spaceflight "dreams" alive. And weren't "dreams of a better future" Martin Luther King's and the Kennedy brothers' true legacies?

Posted on Jan 31, 2010 4:02:28 PM PST
Marilyn,

As an aside, I've noticed you consistently posting incorrect links. Do you manually type them?

If so, you're missing a simple shortcut. Click in the browser address bar and highlight the full url (left click and swipe). Then press CTRL+C (hold CTRL then press C) to copy the url. Then come to this thread message box and press on the keyboard CTRL+V to paste the url.

If you ever forget the shortcuts, open up any application like Notepad. Click on EDIT, and you'll see all the shortcuts listed to the right of the functions.

I apologize if you already know this. This trick of keyboard shortcuts works in other places as well.

Posted on Jan 31, 2010 4:09:52 PM PST
I guess we'll learn more on Monday. From what I've read, Obama has allocated additional $ to encourage the development of private rockets, though it is unclear if it will be enough to cover making them "man rated". That's a big if.

Also, I've read contradictory reports on whether NASA's budget is flat or getting some increase. I guess NASA will be doing more scrambling next week to figure out what they can/can't do once they hear more.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 31, 2010 4:47:03 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 31, 2010 4:47:59 PM PST
Ronald Craig says:
"I've noticed you consistently posting incorrect links. Do you manually type them?"

Now that there is a real pretty picture. Thanks, R.A. LOL.

(I think I saw something about 5.4 billion for maintaining the ISS thru 2020?)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 31, 2010 7:03:53 PM PST
Doug says:
Borat has screwed up most of the government as it is -- maybe we should be thankful he has just left NASA alone and hope Al Gore doesn't decide to go meddle with it now that he has put an end to Global Warming.

Posted on Feb 1, 2010 9:15:38 AM PST
Hi Bob!

Thanks for the instructions, on how to copy-paste a URL. I was doing it manually, and checking for accuracy when I'd finished my post. I'll try to use the copy/paste method to post URLs from now on.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 1, 2010 6:44:52 PM PST
Ronald Craig says:
"Thanks for the instructions, on how to copy-paste a URL. I was doing it manually, and checking for accuracy when I'd finished my post. I'll try to use the copy/paste method to post URLs from now on."

:o
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Discussion in:  Science Fiction forum
Participants:  99
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Initial post:  Sep 19, 2009
Latest post:  Sep 15, 2013

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