Another giant leap for mankind. Last I heard I'd be living on the moon, now I guess I'll just have to be happy to retire to the moon.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz hailed "a great day for the men and women at Johnson Space Center" as NASA awarded the contract for building Orion spacecraft to Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colorado. For the doubters, this is it: the production line has been set in motion for the first mission to put astronauts on the Moon since …
That soundbite never gets old, but it doesn't really make sense. If you ranked all activities of mankind by how helpful they are towards the long-term sustainability of humanity, scientific research would be pretty close to the top.
Sure, there are several other things that would be more helpful than space exploration, but why would you choose to single out space exploration instead of, I dunno, bad TV? That consumes a lot more resources and is a lot less useful. Financial markets? War?
I don't know, but my gut feeling is that the "other world"/"this world" thing is just a meme that sounds clever, and isn't backed by much more real reasoning than that.
Space exploration, unlike most other activities on the planet surface, actually forces us, or at least the engineers, etc to think about resource constraints and habitat in pretty much the exact opposite way they are in almost everything else.
We should be treating the planet like a spaceship we must reuse for, basically, ever.
Space exploration is healthy activity for humanity.
Warring over plots of ground with oil under them is not.(This list could be much, much longer, but I have an actual job)
The Earth can take care of itself really, what we're really messing up is the atmosphere that supports human and other life. If we kill ourselves, the Earth won't really care, it will carry on regardless.
The moon doesn't really have anything to take care of in those terms.
Substitute "New World" for "Other World" and you have your template.
We have better Navigation Tools, better materials, and an experience base to draw on that the early explorers of the New World could not even conceive of. And that experience base includes what those early explorers recounted on their return to Europe.
> NASA's initial OPOC order, costing $2.7bn, is for three Orions as soon as possible to cover Artemis missions III, IV and V. The next three will be ordered in 2022 for Artemis missions VI, VII and VIII at a projected cost of $1.9bn.
So shouldn't the first of these be Artemis IV (a new hope), then V and VI
It is noted that these capsules will have a much shorter life (though probably just as infrequent a roll-out) as the films did.
"No other spacecraft in the world can keep humans alive hundreds of thousands of miles from Earth for weeks at a time with the safety features, crew accommodations, technical innovations, and reliability that Orion provides"
Reading this, you'd think they'd achieved it already. Shuttle reliability was claimed to be one loss in about 100,000 missions. Reality was unimpressed. "Technical innovations" and reliability rarely go together.
The Shuttle did prove the possibility of building a re-usable spacecraft with the capability of carting several astros and a fair chunk of cargo into space. That makes it a worthwhile machine to have built and flown, even if the cost, time and manpower needed to prepare it for the next launch all blew past project estimates as if they weren't there.
The fact that the ejection system was taken out after its first launch and that it wasn't as safe as advertised are more a criticism of the prevailing attitudes in NASA and time constraints imposed on the STS project than of the Shuttle itself. Don't forget that NASA had prior form here: think Apollo 1 and the wisdom of running launch practises with 15psi of pure oxygen in a vehicle containing materials that were not certified fire safe in 100% oxygen, had no fire extinguishers installed and was fitted with an escape hatch that needed 3 minutes to open.
"Shuttle reliability was claimed to be one loss in about 100,000 missions."
Yes, by a manager. I read Feynman's book in which that claim was mentioned - the engineers he questioned at the same time reckoned failure rate was likely to be about 1 in 100 missions.
' "Technical innovations" and reliability rarely go together.'
Hmm. The sort of technical innovations that get trumpeted loudly by those seeking profit or prestige often don't.
But it was technical innovations, lots of them, which took us from the motor cars of 100 years ago which would break valve springs, burn out exhaust valves, wear their ignition points (assuming they weren't relying on magnetos), clog up their spark plugs, etc., and generally break down every month without near constant TLC; to the motor cars of today which have engines that usually run for years without much more than the occasional oil change and tappet adjustment. Carburettor adjustment? No thanks, it's the 21st century and I've got fuel injection.
(I once had a motorbike with a dynamo. It kept losing generating power because the dynamo brush spring clips kept popping off. Easily fixed since they were caught inside an engine side cover which could be removed using the ignition key as a screwdriver - yes, really - but what a pain. And that bike wasn't ancient: it was a 1970s design. Technical innovations mean that sort of problem is extinct in modern vehicles.)
The same applies to aircraft and pretty much everything else - think about the reliability of modern computers compared to those of the 1950s, for example.
(Mind you, modern clothes tend not to last as well as clothes generally did in the 1950s. On the other hand, they're a lot cheaper now.)
We demand, That the weapons of War, Are manufactured no more, Demilitarise. We demand, That to have in its place, a means to unite, And colonise Space
Admittedly it was a mental band called Henge...
12 hours later I was listening to moon landing full, unedited transmissions. I wonder if there are still those with the mental fortitude for it for when things went as sideways as is did and still pull off the landing.
Remarkable though they have been (particularly Spirit and Opportunity) the martian rovers have understandably been pretty constrained in terms of goals and areas covered. I'm arguing the next natural steps are more and better robots/rovers that can focus more on the exploration science over more of the surface (and below), and not so much on safety and survival.
If the focus shifts to human exploration, that will have a huge influence over the shape and rate of expansion of the science envelope.
@sbt: if we stopped focusing on trying to fly delicate and precious meatbags off world
That is what scientists and engineers advocated the first time around as well. The savings would be massive if only we didn't have to keep the crew alive, they argued. What they did not realize as well as the politicians, however, that the costs would still be... well... astronomical, and that it would be much easier and faster to convince the public's representatives (and excite the public opinion, which is what said representatives sometimes pay attention to) to allocate a much larger budget to "put brave American boys on the Moon" rather than much smaller sums to "foster scientific exploration of the Solar System" or something equally boring for John Q. Public.
It was, first and foremost, a practical consideration of expediency by people who understood how strings had to be pulled. The overall result was scientific exploration and technological advances, anyway. Propaganda was not ignored, and distribution of pork to constituencies played a role. But as far as advancing science and technology goes it was not a stupid move at all.
Further IT prospective: marketing has its place.
The politics were about not losing to the USSR again. If what you claim is true, I don't see how all the very expensive unmanned exploration (before or since 1972) would have been funded such as the Voyager program, Curiosity, or Hubble. There was still plenty of pork.
Well, it's a Cost Plus contract, so there's absolutely no incentive for them to deliver anything on time, on budget, or even at all, they'll still get paid in any event.
But hey, their projected price is only twice what an Apollo capsule cost (adjusted), and Orion will be capable of carrying three astronauts around the moon, which is, erm, oh, exactly the same...
The contract for the lunar lander (probably a more complex design, and given that Orion has been in development since 2004, certainly more time constrained), is not going to be Cost Plus.
Unless I'm mistaken, hasn't NASA learnt anything from the history of the Apollo and Shuttle projects.
If we want humans to go to the moon on a number of missions, why do we need such a huge rocket (aka SLS) that needs lots of propellant to transport 3-4 astronauts, and massive payloads (such as a lunar rover) each and every time?
One could easily (and more cheaply) build just one or two lunar rovers, and have them sent direct to the proposed landing site, ahead of the humans arriving. They could then sit their having their batteries charged via solar panels and once the humans have left, the rover drives itself to the next landing site.
What they should be designing and building are earth-orbiting and moon-orbiting "docking stations" allowing smaller rockets to be used to carry humans and/or payloads into space...then use a "transiting" vehicle that only moves from earth to moon and back again to carry the humans, while the individual payloads get sent to the moon directly where they auto-dock with the proposed "Gateway" and await their crews.
Arthur C Clarke got it so right with 2001: A Space Odyssey - released in 1968 - even Star Trek were something similar to this in their movies...
Isn't leaving the Earth the hardest part, and so requires a sizeable rocket anyway, regardless of what you're shipping up there.
Once you're in space itself, the forces (and therefore rocket size) is less massive, but you still need to get all that stuff up there. Is it more efficient with splitting payloads in 10 but also using 10 rockets, or just one big one (numbers plucked from nothing)?
I understand there's a point where you want to carry X tonnes, but you need a bigger rocket with more fuel, but in turn that bigger rocket also requires more fuel.
Is there an optimum size of payload and rocket to use based?