back to article USA! USA! We're No.1! And we want to keep it that way – in spaaaace

A study published today by the Pew Research Center has found that a majority of Americans reckon that staying on top of the space pile should be a US priority, with NASA still attracting a lot of love. However, party poppers are unlikely to be fired within NASA's scattered spaceflight centres since the idea of putting boots …

  1. JimmyPage
    FAIL

    Cake and eat it seems to be a thing now.

    TL;DR. They want to be #1, but don't want to pay for it.

    Where have I heard that before ?

    1. Semtex451

      Re: Cake and eat it seems to be a thing now.

      Richard this is the first article that I have consciously read by you and unlike JimmyPage I wish to congratulate you on a well written piece that deceives the reader into not realising that they have been clickbaited. I doff my hat Sir.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They want to be #1

      It's not just the people of the U.S. wanting to be #1 - it's more like they have a psychotic need to believe they're #1. It's worrying that one of the most powerful nations on Earth feels so neurotically insecure.

    3. TheVogon

      Re: Cake and eat it seems to be a thing now.

      Perhaps the most interesting set of results came when the researchers asked how NASA should prioritize the suite of tasks the agency oversees. The top priority out of the list given was to monitor / research global warming and related climate change.

  2. Florida1920
    Alien

    Build The Wall!

    We're going to build a wall to Mars! It will be yuge! The best wall ever! And the Martians will pay for it!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Build The Wall!

      And how will this "wall to Mars" be utilized? People only know how to ride fences, not walls (apart from Humpty Dumpty). Hmmm, maybe Martians do know how to ride walls...?

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: Build The Wall!

        They ain't so good with the common cold though!

  3. nematoad Silver badge

    Just wait.

    "but an adventure back to the moon elicits little excitement,"

    Let's wait and see what the reaction is when the Chinese and the Indians announce missions to the Moon/Mars.

    I can't see the "Land of the Free" taking that sitting down.

    1. James 51

      Re: Just wait.

      China and India already have.

      1. nematoad Silver badge

        Re: Just wait.

        Yes, I should have said "manned missions" sorry.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Just wait.

          "Yes, I should have said "manned missions" sorry."

          Again, they have.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Just wait.

      I can't see the "Land of the Free" taking that sitting down.

      I can see that happening. Politics and complacency. Most Americans problably don't really care and thus space is at the bottom of the list of things important to them. Taxes, crime, infrastructure are probably higher priority.

      1. MrDamage Silver badge

        Re: Just wait.

        Unless the Chinese or Indian missions decide to knock over the American flag planted on the moon, in which case the populace will be baying for the US to send astronauts back to the moon to restore their glory.

        1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: Just wait.

          Let's see. Unfortunate that whisky is already taken. Maybe we would bend tradition a bit and leave an apple pie?

    3. PaulFrederick

      Re: Just wait.

      The Moon? Been there. Done that already. I hear it smells like gun powder and rotten eggs. So the Chinese and Indians should love it.

  4. James 51

    NASAs biggest problem is Congress. It's the polidicking around with the budget and priorities that hobbles them. Freed from that, given a clear mandate (with the understanding that risks should be minimised but can not he elminated) and they could shine as the once for. Otherwise the USAF space budget which equals NASAs will have to puck up the slack.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I, personally, think that a huge part of the issue with both Congress and Senate is that the cost of running for elections is staggeringly high. The candidates have to rely on their party and, mostly, wealth donors. In some countries all political spending is heavily capped with no private money allowed. I think that is route required. Otherwise US politics is a wholly subsidiary of <<insert wealthy donor's name here>>

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge
        Headmaster

        I, personally, think that a huge part of the issue with both Congress and Senate is that the cost of running for elections is staggeringly high.

        Err... the Senate is a part of Congress. Congress has two "houses".. the Senate and the House.

    2. Colin Wilson 2

      Consequences

      "NASAs biggest problem is Congress"

      If JFK hadn't been assassinated, I wonder if Apollo would have cancelled before they got to the moon at all - maybe after the Apollo 1 fire.

      But once he'd been killed, no one in Congress dared to besmirch his legacy by shutting down his pet project..

      Maybe an unintended consequence of that dreadful day was to result in a giant leap for mankind.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Consequences

        Apollo couldn't be cancelled any quicker than it was. Vast amounts of money were being spent. If that spending had been turned off rapidly there would have been a deep recession. Alternatively they would have need a fair sized war to keep the economy balanced.

        1. PaulFrederick

          Re: Consequences

          Apollo was a fair sized war. Apollo was one of the major battles of the Cold War. Beating the Soviets was the only reason we went to the Moon. So even after Kennedy was assassinated the value of the mission was lost on no one. The end of Apollo was canceled though. The last vehicles were diverted to the Skylab project.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Consequences

            Apollo was quite a small war. In 2011 dollars, Apollo cost something like $200 billion. Afghanistan cost over $400 billion.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Consequences

        > "...But once he'd been killed, no one in Congress dared to besmirch his legacy by shutting down his pet project."

        You may not be aware of the very strong feelings in the US surrounding the space race with the Russians. JFK's legacy was totally irrelevant by the late Sixties. Only later, when it became clear the Russian space effort was being left behind, did anyone suggest throttling back the NASA budget.

  5. Zebo-the-Fat

    The united states of Trumpton can't even get their own people up to their space station and back without asking Russia for help

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      At the moment they do need to rely on the Russians. This is likely to change quite soon and possibly within the year. In 5 years time it's quite conceivable that it could be the other way around.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "At the moment they do need to rely on the Russians. This is likely to change quite soon and possibly within the year. In 5 years time it's quite conceivable that it could be the other way around."

        Do you mean in 5 years when ISS is likely to be decommissioned?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Zebo the fat and clueless

      The space shuttle was retired under Obama. Sick of lies being propagated. Russian flights started under the Obama regime.

      1. Zebo-the-Fat

        Re: Zebo the fat and clueless

        So what? they are still needing Russia to get into space

    3. PaulFrederick

      The US using Russian vehicles is a form of welfare. Because if we don't pay those rocket scientists in Russia someone else that we don't want to will. That will ultimately cost us a lot more than what we're paying now too. Look at it as a form of non-proliferation.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just tell Trump the Russians are building a space laser, that'll get the funding problem sorted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We more or less sorted the funding problem when we voted for an un-ashamed patriot to replace a passive community organizer.

  7. Daniel von Asmuth
    Alien

    Where do you want to go tomorrow?

    So, if the moon be too small, the Red planet too cold, hot Venus must be the place where America is going.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where do you want to go tomorrow?

      Don't go to Venus. It's horrible.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Where do you want to go tomorrow?

        I thought it was a goddess on the mountain top, burning like a silver flame?

        1. DiViDeD

          Re: goddess on the mountain top, burning like a silver flame

          Yeah, you've kind of given one of the main reasons for *not* going to Venus. Burning like a silver flame looks good on a book cover, but it's actually bloody painful.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. quxinot

        Re: Where do you want to go tomorrow?

        >Don't go to Venus. It's horrible.<

        But physics calculations give us an idea of what flight there would be like. The upshot is: Your plane would fly pretty well, except it would be on fire the whole time, and then it would stop flying, and then stop being a plane.

        .....

        Venus is a terrible place.

        --Randall Munroe, XKCD's What-if "Interplanetary Cessna"

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Where do you want to go tomorrow?

      Anywhere but Europa is fine....

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Where do you want to go tomorrow?

        Just as well I wouldn't attempt a landing there!

      2. ThePieMan

        Re: Where do you want to go tomorrow?

        I don’t know - London, Paris, Venice, the French Riviera are all nice places...

  8. I3N
    Boffin

    Launching TRL-3/4's into space ...

    should solve all the problems.

    Generally referred to as PhD welfare programs ... ;]

  9. GordonD

    Shouldn't that be

    The Piew piew research centre?

    1. Atomic Duetto

      Re: Shouldn't that be

      Exacery!!

      I’m surprised how long it took before we got a Pew, pew comment!

      (Han shot first)

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Shouldn't that be

        "(Han shot first)"

        Oh, *that* "pew pew". And there was me thinking it was a comment about the Trumpton fire brigade.

  10. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    NASA has always been about politics

    Kennedy's science advisor agreed to go along with Apollo on the condition that it not be sold as a science venture.

    Having said that, I believe that we (the US) are severely underinvesting in space technology because of our unwillingness to face the militarization of space. China is going great guns on it, and this should be scary.

    Even without China, however, the long-term commercialization of anything requires an effective law enforcement regime be in place. In the middle of that phrase, you will find the word "force". History indicates that commercial exploitation leads law enforcement, creating "Wild West" scenarios, but commercial stability requires the existence of an effective government.

    And space has a unique geographic concern as well--I don't like the idea of someone bringing an asteroid into LEO until I've at least got the ability to stop them.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: NASA has always been about politics

      "I don't like the idea of someone bringing an asteroid into LEO until I've at least got the ability to stop them."

      But would you be happy to bring one into LEO even if no one else had the ability to stop you? That's how governments and the military think,

      1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Re: NASA has always been about politics

        I remember in the '80s, someone asking me if I thought that we would ever do away with nuclear weapons. My response was (and is) of course--the replacement will be much worse, however.

        Orbital bombardment is much worse.

        The mechanics of a solar-system-wide war should terrify anyone. The security risks of bringing an asteroid into LEO should be almost as bad. In today's articles, we see that the leader in commercial space development is in the same conglomerate as a company who's autopilot accelerated a vehicle into a known solid wall. Excuse me for being just a little bit concerned about similar hiccups where the vehicle is an asteroid, and the solid wall is the Earth.

    2. ThePieMan

      Re: NASA has always been about politics

      The tide has turned - this century belongs to China.

  11. An nonymous Cowerd
    Thumb Up

    Isn’t NASA announcing life/water found on Mars tomorrow?

    Meanwhile, over in exit lands, space gets more funding!

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/jun/06/european-space-agency-boss-warns-eu-over-star-wars

    1. AlgernonFlowers4

      Re: Isn’t NASA announcing life/water found on Mars tomorrow?

      Nasa announcement video footage https://youtu.be/DngcYImh0-Q

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Isn’t NASA announcing life/water found on Mars tomorrow?

        nice, but region locked so couldnt play the adverts/main-feature,

        just the title brought back memories

        the actual NASA show is "Join us ... at 2pm ET for a lively discussion about two new Mars science results from the Mars Curiosity rover on the Red Planet." That's 7 pm UK time 7 th June 2018

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Robots would also be unlikely to forget the SD card for their cameras'

    No, but they might bring an SD when a Micro-SD was actually needed. Mars-Orbiter landing 'Metric versus Imperial' screw-up comes to mind...

    1. PaulFrederick

      Re: 'Robots would also be unlikely to forget the SD card for their cameras'

      To date the USA remains the only country that has *EVER* successfully landed a mission on the surface of Mars. No other country has done it even once. Well unless you want to count the 12 seconds one Soviet probe supposedly worked. Personally I do not put that into the win column myself. One of our rovers has been operating on the surface of Mars for 14 years now. Yes that's some kind of a record right there. So quit harping on one mission that failed. Space exploration is risky business but no one is more successful at it than the USA is. No one else even comes close.

      1. Adair Silver badge

        Re: 'Robots would also be unlikely to forget the SD card for their cameras'

        '...no one is more successful at it than the USA is. No one else even comes close.'

        Ah, so it is just a willy waving contest after all. Another bitter disappointment to add to the growing pile.

      2. Brangdon

        @PaulFrederick

        It wasn't a slight against the USA. You're both saying the article was wrong: that sending robots instead of humans won't eliminate mistakes. (And if you send a human you have more chance of fixing a problem on-site.)

      3. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: 'Robots would also be unlikely to forget the SD card for their cameras'

        To date ESA is the only space entity that has *EVER* successfully landed a mission on the surface of a comet. To date India is the only country that has *EVER* successfully be able to launch its first mission to Mars. So what? Does that make their cock bigger? Is this the point of space exploration?

  13. _LC_
    WTF?

    Successful and cheap

    You can visit any planet this way:

    https://youtu.be/TXs2UfPv39s?t=270

    [Apollo 15 & some "atmospheric issues"]

  14. matjaggard

    Monitor and destroy

    "78 per cent of Democrats listing climate monitoring as a top priority"

    So you want to burn tons of fuel to launch a rocket to monitor the damage you're doing by burning that fuel? Seems like a fairly typically American viewpoint.

    1. _LC_
      Thumb Down

      Re: Monitor and destroy

      Last time I checked, they were burning hydrogen (H2 + O) = water.

      1. Brangdon

        Re: Monitor and destroy

        Hydrogen is usually avoided for a first stage because it has less thrust than other fuels, and because in engineering terms it is a bastard to work with. And not everyone uses it for their second stage, either. SpaceX, for example, Falcon 9 uses purified kerosene for both stages, and their planned BFR will use methane.

        1. _LC_

          Re: Monitor and destroy

          You're right - my bad. They still use kerosene to get'em up. :-(

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Monitor and destroy

          "Hydrogen is usually avoided for a first stage because it has less thrust than other fuels,"

          Hang on a bit - hydrogen and oxygen gives the highest available specific impulse for practical chemical rocket engines; that means greatest practical fuel efficiency and highest practical exhaust velocity. I've read the suggestion that better can be achieved if you want to get exotic with fluorine (argh! run away screaming!) and so on, but it's worth bearing in mind the fact that the Space Shuttle used H2 + O2 for its main engines and there must be sound reasons for that.

          As I understand it, one big problem is that liquid hydrogen is low density, which means you need a really big fuel tank compared to things like RP1 (high grade paraffin/kerosene). The very low temperature required to keep hydrogen liquid at ambient pressure adds a whole load of big engineering problems too.

          I'm no rocket engineer, but it's notable than the Saturn V used RP1+O2 for its first stage, and H2+O2 for subsequent stages. There must be good engineering reasons for that but given the number of launchers which do/have used H2+O2 in the first stage, it can't be because hydrogen fuelled engines lack thrust.

          It took a lot of work to make the Saturn V launch engines work reliably. They were all tricky to sort out. I can't help feeling that the challenge of making an engine with the thrust of the first stage F1 engines which also used liquid hydrogen fuel was beyond what was feasible for the Apollo project. For example, an early attempt by Rocketdyne at the Saturn V's J2 hydrogen engine resulted in green flames coming out, indicating that the copper injector plate (ideal for an RP1 fuelled engine) was burning away (according to the Saturn V Haynes manual I've got here - which also states that Pratt and Whitney had already solved that problem, but Rocketdyne didn't want to know because of "not invented here" syndrome). And that's before you get onto the trouble it would have taken to have made a vehicle big enough to carry the volume of liquid hydrogen which would have been needed for its first stage.

          I've just had a look and it turns out that Japan's H2 launcher family uses H2 + O2 for its first stage. So does Ariane 5 in its core stage - as will Ariane 6. The designers of these launchers surely know what they are doing. Then again, so do the designers of SpaceX's launchers. I wish I understood the reasons for the different fuelling decisions, but there you go: I'm ignorant and I don't.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Robots more cost effective? Well, maybe.

    The article states:

    "Robots, of course, do not require all the plumbing to keep fleshy meatsacks alive and so are generally more cost effective"

    Cheaper, certainly, but there are those who argue that people can do things which robots cannot so it also makes sense to send people to explore off planet. On the other hand, NASA's Curiosity rover has been trundling around exploring Mars for not far off six Terran years by now and I can't help feeling the state of the art would not have allowed the same degree of exploration at any sane price if they'd tried sending some of us fleshy ones.

    Me? I think "leave exploring the void to the robots because it's deathly dull out there, and send some people to planets and suchlike when you can find the money to do so."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Robots more cost effective? Well, maybe.

      If they want to keep the costs down the answer is to send robot buggies to continue exploring the Moon and Mars (anywhere else will either freeze or melt). Equip the buggies with the Tesla Autopilot system and as long as there are no other buggies close by and no damaged lane dividers nothing can go wrong. The Tesla systems have already been space tested.

      IF you do need a meatbag astronaut to go along, just email the current owners of Elon's Earthbound electric buggy. I am sure you would get a few volunteers. After all, if you are dumb enough to trust your life to a current generation autopilot on our imperfect roads, it is quite possible you would be dumb enough to do so in space.

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