NASA Administrator Michael Griffin is not playing nice with the Obama transition team, according to a post by Robert Block of the Orlando Sentinel. He reports that Griffin is resisting efforts by former NASA associate administrator Lori Garver, who heads Obama's space transition team, to "look under the hood" of the space program. Griffin has also reportedly instructed aerospace industry representatives to say only good things about NASA's plans for returning humans to the moon.
The current program calls for retiring the space shuttle in 2010 and sending the yet-to-be-built Ares I rocket and Orion capsule to the moon by 2020. But as Block reports elsewhere in the Sentinel, Ares is in serious trouble. It may not be powerful enough to boost Orion into orbit, and engineers are concerned that the rocket may crash into its support tower during liftoff.
Some engineers are recommending that Ares be canceled, and Garver's team has inquired about how much money could be saved by doing so. Even if the Obama administration chooses to stay the course on Ares, there is little doubt that change is coming to NASA.
Before the torrent of passionate but wrong-headed comments begins, let me add a note of caution and sanity:
We don't really know what went on in any personal exchanges between Griffin and Garver. Also, while there are valid criticisms of NASA's technological approach with Ares I in particular, some of the accusations are a bit over the top.
Oh, and no, SpaceX is NOT going to save the day, OK?
Oh, and yes, Griffin does indeed look a lot like Martin Short:
I am huge fan of NASA, but what is the point of going back to the moon if there is no profit? I’m serious. There is no spice trade or Inca gold, nor are there any of the traditional reasons humans have colonized new lands. It is not a stopping place for Mars, and there is no reason to explore when we have the whole place mapped by satellite.
Been there, done that. Let’s spend the money on Mars before some other nation knocks us off the throne. Obama is right to just cancel the moon project. It’s just another stupid idea from W.
I had to register so I could respond to what you've wrote.
Not only does it seem to me that you know nothing about Space exploration because if you would you would know that we, as in human society, haven't even quite figured out how to endure microgravity for long periods of time i.e. mission to Mars. Even with intense daily exercise our bones still loose their strength. Which would make the actual mission on the planets surface very hard for the astronauts.
The above stated challenge is only ONE of the key challenges to overcome if we should ever(in our lifetime) wanted to have a manned mission to Mars.
Now to get to my point why the moon is so so important as our first step in space exploration.
We "simply" need to launch our spacecrafts from there. All those tons of rocket fuel we use now, is to break free from earths gravity to even get to space. We should/need to use the moon as a second launch pad...I could continue but why...
To rreilly656: Your completely correct about the fact that we don't know exactly what was said between Griffin and Garver.
I think it is exciting that we are going back to the moon, to mine helium 3? which would help the energy crunch here on Earth. But I"m wondering why NASA is going with the Aries 1 Rocket. The Apollo project was a tried and true project, with the use of the Saturn V Rocket. Why go to all the new expense of building all new when we had great success with Apollo. Why spend billions on a completely new design with an all new rocket, lander, moon buggy etc. and not just upgrade the tried and true Apollo project? If its not broke why fix it? Resurrect the Apollo Project and save millions.
Not a very nice comment by calling something stupid. We all know the problems with long space exposure and we also know the amount of fuel spent just taking off from the Earth, not to mention ionized radiation. But I don't agree that the moon mission is going to be the saving grace of deep space exploration.
Don't get me wrong, a launch pad in the moon is an alternative plan but there are plenty of other plans that are viable options. Been there done that, so lets take some risk. Stop wasting millions to bring groceries to the space station and let’s start calculating how far from Earth can we get before we have to return. Set goals and carefully monitor and beat them with newer technology to break the distance and learn about the exposure.
Please read the following without bias or opinion. Just listen to my argument of create assumptions.
When you were a kid did you have dreams? When my dad was little and when i was little I dreamed of seeing things no one else had. I wanted to go to space, I needed that possibility of something being greater than me. Space and the other galaxies that we know exist are out there waiting to be explored. Personally I would love to go to the moon, and would love to see the United States launch another mission. I realize many people do not share my views, but you have to agree that by ruling it out we are taking away a dream our children could be having. They will never dream of space or pushing their limits, they will never see how truly small they are in the grand scheme of things. To me this issue is more important than any other reason for going into space. We need to set an example for our kids. It has never been more important to be in space, our kids need to see that it is O.K. to dream and want the impossible. Our kids are forgetting how to be kids and learning how to be adults. Our society is the losing creativity that once allowed it to become the technological leader it is today. We need to make attempts to go into space, we need to make steps for the future if we don't now we will lose our chance and when younger generations realize this it will be too late. I am 16 and I want to go to space.
So PhillnYork do my generation a favor and start to look beyond your own opinionated views, its time you accepted who the country elected as president for 8 years, and it's time you learn to dream again. I'd rather go down in flames than go down in dispute.
All valid points that others have mentioned. Alternative plans for getting payload mass off the planet and dealing with the long term effects of zero to micro gravity could be addressed in a space elevator as mentioned in other popsi articles. Another plan would involve setting up a track rail system similar to railroad tracks that go from a flat surface up the side of a mountain pointing own-range in a launch tradjectory. A rail gun could accelerate the mass to escape velocity and beyond in mili-seconds. The energy required to charge the huge capicitors for the rail gun could be solar in origion. Edwards AFB has just that type of topography. The ideas and science are there. We simply need the resolve, to "Do the right thing, instead of the other thing" to paraphrase John. F. Kennedy. Take the high ground, it's where the next battles will be fought, not that we need to militarize space as we've chosen to squander our resources on earth. It seems evident that other countries, particularly the Japanese and Chinese, and to some extnt the Europeans ARE going forward with space exploration programs. It IS the new frontier fo future generations and it would be a shame for America to abandon her place in that exploration. Had we not had the space program incentive the microminiture circuits, plastics and other material developement, remote biometric monitoring and a host of other non military advancements used by the civilian world in real applications everyday might not have occured. More than that, space exploration gives humanity one other thing. Hope and a sense of adventure. Going into space beats the heck out of climbing Mt Everest and K3 for the X-Hundredth time. Space tourism shows promise as an enterprise or capitalistic venture. The world has always been full of nay-sayers and detractors who think the moon landing was a hoax and that the world is still flat. Lets hope we've elected Obama for the type of visionary that he advertised himself to be.
From what I know Barock Obama is very interested in NASA and the space program. I see nothing wrong with looking under the hood to see if there should be some changes. I'm not keen on the Space Shuttles being retired in 2010. I think the replacement program should have been way forward and very close... NASA needs a REAL goal to reach for. It seems too me that this put-put-put is just crazy. Now that we are getting a science guy in the White House that looks forward, NASA will be leading again.
Ares I and V have been found to be a bad design by just about everyone in the LV industry.
Griffin just is not able to admit he can be wrong and with Ares I he has been very wrong.
The Ares I and V vehicles were supposed to be low cost ,safe, simple and soon but have turned out to be none of these.
Things are so bad many of the people on the program have been moon lighting on their own time designing a better vehicle known as direct launcher which does not require new SRBs, new ET tooling or new launch towers.
It also defers the requirement for the J2 until lunar missions and does not need the J2-X and instead makes use of the already designed and lower cost J2-S.
The best move would be to rethink the architecture since the ESAS setup cannot deliver within reasonable budget and time constraints.
As for spacex saving the day they will likely deliver low cost LEO transport but they can't completely save the day by themselves.
Though Dragon could be modified into a lunar vehicle.
DukeOfCHM: Well written. NASA landed on the moon when I as 11 years old. I realize that at your age of 16, NASA must seem like my dad’s old war stories. But Apollo gave me the courage to face an entire life. I became a mechanical engineer and I did vote for Obama (in part because if his negative view of the moon mission).
For those of you who think the space station is pointless, let me point out that a moon base is truly pointless and a LOT more expensive. There is nothing to do there. And every fraction of a gram we land there is at astronomical cost. It is foolish to use it as a fuel dump, and maintaining a permanent manned presence there would consume resources far beyond any budget NASA has ever enjoyed.
The most effective route to Mars is to design a mission to Mars. If we need to park cargo ahead of time, it will be placed in orbit around Earth and Mars, not on the lunar surface. If Mars is the goal, the current Moon mission is a complete waste of time, money, and talent.
The space station has given us many technologies we need to reach Mars, such as experience in long term weightlessness, and a dependable platform from which to assemble the vehicle that will blast out of low earth orbit on its way to Mars orbit, (where we have parked the Lander).
When we can use helium 3 to cure our entropy crisis then we should go back to the moon. Not as Columbus, but as conquistadores to strip the moon of its riches. History repeats itself, and the only reason to go back is profit.
DukeOfCHM, I truly hope you someday realize your dream to travel in space, but as an explorer, not a strip miner. If you don’t get to go, then at least I wish you the thrill of experiencing man’s greatest achievement transpiring in your lifetime. A Human on Mars. Wow. I hope I live to see it too.
The new NASA design does seem primitive and essentially useless as far as furthering aeronautical engineering (except to built-in contractors). Our gravity well bodes not too well for future exploration. We need to send astronauts into space to live, and to die. Life spans may be shorter in space, on the moon, on Mars, but sacrifices must be made. The only real question is who will make them? Americans or Chinese?
To cyberscriberofalabama: I don't think a railgun is the greatest idea. What happens when you accelerate a man from zero to gravitational escape velocity in a second or less? One very messy crew capsule.
How can you, as a mechanical engineering discredit the use of the moon as a refueling and relaunching port? The moons gravity is 1/10 that of the earth and that means we cold land on the moon and refuel, and then used that new fuel 10 times over... How could a luner docking station hurt us? If anything it could help us realize your goal of a very prolonged and extended space mission to mars a possibility. If we had a station on the moon, we could reach new depths in space, then, and only then, would a maneed mission to mars be safe and practical.
Well, the best idea is some sort of straight shot (or orbital slingshot), since you need to decelerate to land on the moon, and take off from it... and that fuel could be used to slingshot around the moon and on to Mars. An *orbital* lunar station could be useful, especially if somebody came up with a helium-3 booster rocket.
I compleatly agree with that plan, my main point was to try and point out the irony in that the fact that PhillnYork is a mechanical engineer, who is supposed to develope the kinda plan you just did, and that he believes that it would be pointless to utalize the moon as a galactical launching pad. I just cant seem to comprehend his point of view especially coming from a 'visionary.' The thing is that without the use of the moon as a refueling and relaunching pitstop, we will not be able to reach as far into the galaxy as soon or as effieciently as we would be able to with the new station.
OK. Let me try to explain this. In the 1940's and 50’s, science fiction magazines had long pictured a big Moon rocket landing on its fins, Buck Rodger’s style. But that was impossible. In the 60’s, someone at NASA realized that there was a Trick to get to the Moon. This is a true story. The trick is to discard as much weight as possible at every juncture of the voyage. That is why the command module was left in orbit, and only the paper thin landing craft was dropped to the surface. The walls of the Lander were aluminum foil so thin you could easily kick through them. The astronauts had to stand, because they couldn’t afford the weight of two seats. When time came to go, the whole bottom the Lander was abandoned on the surface. The legs were no longer needed. They even left the cameras, and took only the exposed film. Once docked in lunar orbit, they jettisoned what was left of the Lander, and blasted back with only what they needed for the return voyage.
40 years of technology has not changed that equation. Grams on the lunar surface require tons on the Canaveral launch pad.
Yes, the moon has less gravity than earth. That is not a reason to store fuel or any other resource there, when you could store that resource in orbit, like the Apollo command module. Dropping things onto the surface of the moon and bringing them back up is astronomically expensive and risky. We could leave large quantities of fuel in orbit, but putting that much weight on the surface and bringing it back up is totally pointless. Why not just leave it in orbit?
There is no friction in space so once you accelerate to your travel velocity; the fuel you carry is only needed to slow down when you get there. You don’t have to “stop for gas” on the way. Stopping by the moon and blasting away again would put leave your fuel tank in the same state it was in when you blasted out of earth orbit. You design your vehicle large enough to carry the required fuel. There is no reason to stop anywhere.
To get to mars, we would couple together several pieces that were blasted into earth orbit separately, unlike Apollo which had to blast off as a single unit. That is where the space station comes in handy. The resulting craft does not have to be aerodynamic, just structurally sound when the engines fire. It is refueled in earth orbit with enough fuel to reach mars and come back. Just like Apollo. When they get to mars, they deploy the Lander, which like Apollo is as light as possible, and leaves as much weight behind as possible. Upon docking, some of the command module fuel tanks, the Lander, and much of the command module be discarded in mars orbit. Once back in earth orbit, they dock again at the space station to get into the craft that takes them home to earth. If you don’t need it, leave it. That’s the rule of Apollo. Which means, the Moon cannot help us get to Mars.
Oh, and he doesn't look like Martin Short as much as Afred E. Neuman www.dccomics.com/mad/