No other man on the Moon ...

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,234
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Yesterday evening I was watching a TV series about Mars on National Geographic and they were commenting about the choice between Mars and the Shuttle program. I have found this an interesting thought. Considering the limited resources, actually to concentrate on the Shuttle program has made it impossible to plan something realistic to reach Mars.

Low orbit and interplanetary exploration are two totally different fields from a logistic perspective. No way. To think that a mission to Mars could start from the low orbit is nice, but to think that to do this we need shuttles ... that's naive ... Russians have built the Mir station without shuttles, using common rockets, and they have dismissed their own shuttle [the Buran] because after some tests they have evaluated it as inefficient and too expensive to carry a payload to the low orbit.

Now, NASA, thinking to go again to the Moon, is developing a modern version of the Apollo vehicle [a big rocket with a command module and a Lem on top, not a shuttle able to reach our natural satellite and come back]. We are observing private businessmen developing rockets able to take land and to be reused [even if they launch cars to Mars!].

Are we sure US haven't lost some decades with the Shuttle Program?

If we think to the temporal limit of Historum, 1991, we could remind all the promises about "space for all" and colonization of the orbit thanks to the shuttles ...

What was it? A wrong direction? An excess of confidence?

But overall ... going back to rockets ... are we going to say that Von Braun was right? So ... why didn't they follow his ideas?

To this question I can suggest an answer: Apollo 13. That mission persuaded American politicians that Braun's way to Mars [btw, Braun thought to the Saturn rocket to reach March, not the near Moon, he presented a study about this in 1969, after other ones he wrote in the 50's, he was a bit obsessed by Mars!].

Von Braun Mars Expedition - 1952
Von Braun Mars Expedition - 1969
 
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Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
Yesterday evening I was watching a TV series about Mars on National Geographic and they were commenting about the choice between Mars and the Shuttle program. I have found this an interesting thought. Considering the limited resources, actually to concentrate on the Shuttle program has made it impossible to plan something realistic to reach Mars.
Even if the Shuttle program had never been, I still don't think we would have gone to Mars. Going to Mars is 2 orders of magnitude harder than going to the moon. You can get to the moon in a few days, it will take a year to get to Mars.

Low orbit and interplanetary exploration are two totally different fields from a logistic perspective. No way. To think that a mission to Mars could start from the low orbit is nice, but to think that to do this we need shuttles ... that's naive ... Russians have built the Mir station without shuttles, using common rockets, and they have dismissed their own shuttle [the Buran] because after some tests they have evaluated it as inefficient and too expensive to carry a payload to the low orbit.
You could have used the Shuttle to carry up components for a Mars rocket and assembled it in orbit, same as the shuttle did for the space station.

Problem with the Shuttle is that it was our first attempt at that kind of vehicle, and it was very unreslistic to expect a perfect success on the first try.

I think NASAs big mistake was the Space Station, that "big ducking sound you hear in the sky". It has not done anything that you couldn't have done with extended shuttle missions and has cost an enormous amount of money. All it has done is get contractors rich.

Without the Shuttle, the Hubble would have been a 10 billion dollar write off, instead of a huge success.

Now, NASA, thinking to go again to the Moon, is developing a modern version of the Apollo vehicle [a big rocket with a command module and a Lem on top, not a shuttle able to reach our natural satellite and come back]. We are observing private businessmen developing rockets able to take land and to be reused [even if they launch cars to Mars!].
I have a friend who is a contractor for NASA, and every time he tells me NASA,s plans I cringe. We both agree that NASA should be shut down and replaced with a new orgsnization, at least for manned missions. 50 years later and the best NASA can come up with is a new Apollo rocket that cost more money? They ought to be fired!

Are we sure US haven't lost some decades with the Shuttle Program?
The program isn't the Shuttle, it is NASA management thst we lost decades. NASA management is entirely a Cover Your Ass group. They truly don't care what happens as long as they don't get held accountable.

Take the the Columbia accident. NASA was warned about the potential risk, they new something happened, and they did nothing to prevent, not even telling the crew about the potentional danger, just sent the crew off to their deaths. And no one was ever even demoted, let alone fired.

Why are having to use Russian rockets at enormous cost to get to the Space Station? Because NASA screwed up the Shuttle replacement, that is why. Any one fired or demoted over that?

The Shuttles were 20 years old, I would not not want to ride in a 20 year old car, let alone a rocket. They had to be replaced.

If we think to the temporal limit of Historum, 1991, we could remind all the promises about "space for all" and colonization of the orbit thanks to the shuttles ...

What was it? A wrong direction? An excess of confidence?
What went wrong was NASA management. It became a CYA organization that didn't mind killing people as long as they didn't get blamed. It was too cold to launch the Challenger, it was against operating procedures and NASA flatly ignored the Morton Thiokol rep onsite recommendation against launching, and instead went over the representative's head to get permission from his non engineering Management to launch. Was NASA concerned about the safety of the crew? Absolutely not! They just wanted to be covered in case the crew got killed. Again no NASA management for making that criminally negligent decision was fired, no accountability at all.

Same thing with Columbia. With that kind of organization, nothing good can come from it.

Here are some other short comings of NASA:

1. We know that zero g is very hard and healthy on the body. Yet NASA won't even consider looking into artificial gravity (rotating ship ala Discovery in 2001)

2. We have no idea what effect less than 1 g gravity will have on the human body long term. We know that zero g is very bad on the body, even with a strenuous exercise program. But what would 0.4 g do to the human body? Will children develop normally under 0.4 g? We need to know that if we want colonies on Mars, yet NASA has done nothing to find out.

3. You will get a significant amount of radiation exposure on a trip to Mars, the equivalent to a life time allowed exposure for a radiation worker, barring a solar flare. Yet NASA is not seriously investigating means of shielding. ( They have using PowerPoint doing some investigation I think)

4. If you want to explore the outer solar system, you will need something much faster than chemical rockets, you need nuclear rockets. Nuclear rockets will significantly shorten your trip to Mars, reducing your radiation exposure. NASA has largely shutdown their nuclear rocket program.

5. One idea that has been kicked around is putting people into hibernation on long space trips. What will be the effect on the body of radiation exposure. NASA does not know, and is doing nothing to find out.

6. On the trip to Mars, there is one team that is working on landing on Mars. But that team has no concern about getting people off of Mars and return to earth, that is a different group. Do you think anything could go wrong with kind of structure?

But overall ... going back to rockets ... are we going to say that Von Braun was right? So ... why didn't they follow his ideas?

To this question I can suggest an answer: Apollo 13. That mission persuaded American politicians that Braun's way to Mars [btw, Braun thought to the Saturn rocket to reach March, not the near Moon, he presented a study about this in 1969, after other ones he wrote in the 50's, he was a bit obsessed by Mars!].

Von Braun Mars Expedition - 1952
Von Braun Mars Expedition - 1969

I don't want another one time Apollo type mission to Mars. If we go to Mars, I want it sustainable, that we can use the technology to set up a permanent colony, or use it for a man mission to explore the outer solar system like Titan.

I don't want it like Apollo, where it was just designed to get us to the Moon as soon as possible to beat the Soviets, and was never intended to support colonies on the moon or manned exploration of the rest of the solar system. Going to Mars is too expensive just to plant a flag and plaque and head home, never to return to make it worthwhile.

PS - I like Von Braun's 1969 plan, and the use of 2 vehicles that could support each other if something happened to one of them. And his use if nuclear propulsion. Also that main module is reussble and only the lander itself is not.

I would only up the power and potential range of the vehicle so it could also go to trips to other places in the solar system, like the moons of Jupiter it Saturn,
 
Last edited:
Aug 2014
300
New York, USA
The manned space program has been a disaster after Apollo, and continues to be so.
Shuttle, ISS, Constellation, and now the new SLS/Orion program (which will be cancelled in the coming years) were a failure when it comes to developing and exploring space.
 

pikeshot1600

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
9,967
I would agree that NASA has become a rice bowl for contractors. There were always upgrades and change orders to charge for. Once that stuff is on autopilot, all it takes is political protection to keep it going forever. There were not very many great changes in the shuttles because someone was making money off of them as they were. After 2011 we rely on Russia to get our astronauts into orbit. Not so good.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,234
Italy, Lago Maggiore
The point about the Shuttle program was that it stopped the technological development of rockets. Today a Falcon 9 can carry to the low orbit a payload equal to the 80% of the maximum payload of a Shuttle with well less costs.

Imagine if at NASA they remained concentrated on rockets ...

Reality is that the Shuttle was an objects on rockets, nothing else. And it didn't allow mankind to enter the age of mass colonization of space. Today we see NASA playing with a toy called "Orion". It's a modern Apollo, nothing more or less than that.

50 years have passed from Apollo 11 [49 to be accurate]. Let's think to airplanes ... were airplanes in 60's comparable to airplanes in 10's? [last century of course].

My questionable opinion is that the Shuttle Program has damaged a lot space exploration, simply because it blocked resources for a program without future. Just Musk has demonstrated that also rockets can take land after a mission. There was no need for a Shuttle, after all.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,708
San Antonio, Tx
I would agree that NASA has become a rice bowl for contractors. There were always upgrades and change orders to charge for. Once that stuff is on autopilot, all it takes is political protection to keep it going forever. There were not very many great changes in the shuttles because someone was making money off of them as they were. After 2011 we rely on Russia to get our astronauts into orbit. Not so good.
I’m sitting here wondering what is going on with the USAF Shuttle that has been flying for a number of years. I have a picture of it and very rarely hear that one of them has landed, but that’s about it: very little public comment about it. What little I have read about it is that it is unmanned, but that’s the USAF’s story; not so sure if it’s true or not. Does anyone know any more about it?
 

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Matthew Amt

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
2,993
MD, USA
It's important for humans that we are able to get off our planet en masse. Hopefully much later than sooner.
Sorry, but I hope that's a joke! Look at how many people can fit in our spaceships right now, and how far those ships can go. At our height, with all the space shuttles, Russian capsules, and private craft like Space Ship One, we could lift fewer than a hundred people into low earth orbit. Ten thousand times that capability would move a million people, which is one-tenth of a percent of a billion, and a billion is one-seventh or one-eighth of the people on the planet. That's with air and food for about a week, but no landing vehicles, shelters, ground vehicles, crops, tools, etc. Nada.

And where should we go? What other planet within a few hours' travel is more inhabitable than earth?

There are some great documentaries on evacuating the earth on YouTube, they sum up the problems very well.

Now, build an interstellar matter transmitter, and we're all set!

Matthew
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,234
Italy, Lago Maggiore
I’m sitting here wondering what is going on with the USAF Shuttle that has been flying for a number of years. I have a picture of it and very rarely hear that one of them has landed, but that’s about it: very little public comment about it. What little I have read about it is that it is unmanned, but that’s the USAF’s story; not so sure if it’s true or not. Does anyone know any more about it?
Well, space exploration has got also an evident military value and this means "privacy", when not secrecy. For example, you can legally admit to have had a NASA account in the past, but it happens you cannot say what you did for NASA. Don't think to extraordinary things, it works in that way and that's all.

But this secrecy means also that who acts in the space hasn't got to justify the expenses to the tax payers [it's a secret how they spend their money!].

And this is tremendous problem: billions of US$ and no results ... why? It's a secret!

So ... don't wonder about the military activities in the space, let's remain with civilian activities.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,708
San Antonio, Tx
Well, space exploration has got also an evident military value and this means "privacy", when not secrecy. For example, you can legally admit to have had a NASA account in the past, but it happens you cannot say what you did for NASA. Don't think to extraordinary things, it works in that way and that's all.

But this secrecy means also that who acts in the space hasn't got to justify the expenses to the tax payers [it's a secret how they spend their money!].

And this is tremendous problem: billions of US$ and no results ... why? It's a secret!

So ... don't wonder about the military activities in the space, let's remain with civilian activities.
If this were to be true, then there would never have been a Manhattan Project. Some things do need to be kept secret...