back to article Obama to backtrack on NASA Orion cancellation - reports

Barack Obama has decided to partially reverse his decision to cancel NASA's "Orion" manned space capsule, according to reports. However the US President will not reinstate Bush-era plans for manned space exploration beyond low orbit - starting with a permanent Moon base - in the near future. The Associated Press reports that …


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  1. Gary F
    Thumb Down

    The Chinese are happy

    I bet another national becomes the first to step foot on the moon in this century and I wouldn't be surprised if the Americans are not the first to send a manned mission to another planet.

    The Chinese or Indians will probably overtake the US in manned space exploration within the next 20 years.

    Perhaps our British government should stop sending £millions in aid to China and use that to boost our own space programme, or maybe spend it on keeping open some of our hospitals that are closing down due to lack of money.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Chinese ARE Happy

      Of course they are. This is part of the agreement between US and China:

      US falls back on plans to expand the American Empire into space, allowing China to go first. China then reduces US debt (supposedly) to China through increased "environmental and employee safety" (causing increases in prices), by having US companies install and train for these "safety" systems, and finishing off the yuan "market correction" stategy from eight years ago. China makes up for this domestically by new jobs for China's burgeoning space program, and the administration, marketing, and servicing of the US "green" buzz-tech.

      But, neither side can just come out and SAY that; economists would have a cow that someone was "subverting" the markets. :)

  2. SDIO Warrior

    Stop the Flyboy Joyriding

    The only decision of his that has made sense, now he is changing again for the worst.

    This is a big mistake. Instead of re-stacking 50 year old pieces of hardware to keep contractors happy, he should embark on designs with state of the art technology. No more non-green solids. We should only use Lox Hydrogen which was the direction we were going with post Saturn until the program needed votes from the Utah people. On the other hand we would have to hire real engineers and scientists instead of tile pasters and stacking mechanics which is in violation of the democrat dumb down America scheme. We might even have to educate some new ones.

  3. The Cube

    Political compromise, the worst of both worlds

    So, the lucky American taxpayer gets to give all their tax dollars to the private contractors to build the manned capsule but it won't actually get used as a manned capsule and the US won't actually see any benefit from it?

    Why not save time and money by just giving $500,000 in tax dollars to each employee of the contractors to feck off and start their own business doing something else (like supplying components to Grumman)?

  4. Irp

    Orion Becomes X-38B ?:)

    Shesh. From Moon Ship, To LEO Taxi, To CRV for ISS. Quite a come down.

    It wasn't THAT many years ago, X-38 was to be a test bed to develop a CRV. X-38 had small wings, it will be interesting to see if Orion suddenly grows wings now!

    If this "New Orion" gets built, its going to be nothing like was originally planned.

    As an aside, I quite liked the X-38. I thought follow on developments may well have had other uses (LEO Taxi, Mars entry vehicle etc)

  5. Paul Bruneau

    Manned spaceflight--what a waste

    It takes so much money to make it unsafe (up from "ridiculously unsafe") for no real gain.

    Of course the old spacecowboys love it--I'm sure nothing beats the adrenalin rush of tons of explosive fuel sitting underneath your manhood thrusting you into the great blackness, but how about save us all some trillions and go to space mountain instead?

    The real science and cost effectiveness comes from the unmanned programs anyway.

    1. Bounty

      re: Manned spaceflight--what a waste

      You mean doing useless things like fixing Hubble?

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    Orion will have to go on a diet

    *one* of the "reasons" neither Atlas V or Delta IV were "Suitable" for Orion was they were unable to lift the design (which seems to have gotten heavier as it gets into detailed design)

    Of course it could be that it was *designed* to be too heavy for them to justify *needing* Aries 1 in the first place.

    NB this is *despite* have a hugely more accurate idea of re-entry conditions (and what level of thermal protection is needed to survive them) and structural loads than Apollo *ever* had.

    I guess the c$7bn in R&D funding the cancellation of Aries has released is *not* enough for the congress critters to be happy about.

  7. Robert Heffernan

    @Paul Bruneau

    You are completely missing the point of a manned space program. Sure you can get some really great science from unmanned robotic programs, but ultimately it's machines doing the work, and returning data that basically is just numbers and images.

    The best kind of work is done in-situ, on the space station if something doesn't happen like it's supposed to, the problem is worked and resolved in minutes usually, the astronaut doing the work is able to relay information back based on the context of the situation. Take a stuck bolt for example. A machine trying to remove the bolt would come back with a response saying 'bolt stuck' and wait since it's programming would fall-over at that point. A human can relay back the bolt is stuck hard, there appears to be some damage around the bolt hole and putting a lot of force behind it won't budge it. A few minutes later the response would come back to drill it out, so the astronaut does it, no need to spend a day writing program commands, another day to set them and then send it to the robot.

    Space flight is the next frontier of human exploration, we NEED to do it, it's in our nature to do it and if we don't we are assigning ourselves a doomed fate to die out when the earth's time is up. Cost should not be a factor.

  8. Tom Fleming

    Isn't this a technology decision?

    Too much stuff here is largely fiction. X38 landing capability was extremely limited (only on extremely-flat ground) and used a parafoil to soak up speed after re-entry cooled. It was icky.

    The shuttle cost too ever-lovin' much. That is proven. The ridiculously heavy reusable has been too trouble-prone to be cost-effective. It is well-past its 'sell by' date, too.

    The USA evidently don't have anything that competes with Russia's 1960s-era Soyuz for cost and reliability. NASA attempted to define 'human rated' lifting systems (rocket plus return-device) to establish new high-reliability standards. NASA just didn't get enough funding early-enough [or implement an efficient-enough development plan] to deliver any solution today.

    Let the Chinese and Indians (and the French and the English) go to the Moon. There is little there for commercial exploitation. It has almost-no military value, either [other then ransoming the alteration of the moon]. Parking stuff in the Moon's gravity-well for interplanetary missions is just stupid. No one has the interplanetary thrust systems yet. Some things (like ion-rockets) have shown promise, but need a lot of work.

    Space stations DO have value. If commercial lifting systems can bring enough technology and reliability for the price, they are the USA's first choice. NASA needs to decide what its role and support can be in that situation.

    For now, NASA is about launching unmanned probes with technology unmatched by any other space-going nation. If we want NASA to resume heavy-duty manned-missions we will have to replace some of the current emphasis.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    That's no moon


    Beer -> Guinness -> Sir Alec -> funny pun

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Paul

    You sir, are a myopic pinhead. Just about every major convience and technological boon we have today comes from something that has it's origination from the military or the space program. The fact that you can hold a trans-atlantic, trans-european/asian/pac rim telephone conversation is, in part, due to that. Little things like increased engineering on, oh say... the Transistor? How about GPS? Or are you so digusted with your computer that you'd be willing to give it all up and revert back to the slide rule? Going to be somewhat difficult to read el reg on your 6 digit calc display... Or is that just misplaced penis envy, too?

    1. elderlybloke
      Black Helicopters

      Greetings b ws

      Your opinion that the Transistor was due to the Military or the space program is sadly , not true.

      It was invented by Shockley and a couple of others at Bell Laboratory. The year was 1947, well before the yanks had any space program.

      That started after the USSR launched Sputnik in 1957.

      Your weird intellect apparently thinks that your last sentence is intelligent.

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