Author Topic: So what is the plan overall for the next big US push into space?  (Read 11623 times)

Offline British NASA

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So the plan is to go to the Moon by around 2018 (if money allows), but what will be the next timelines and will it involve the same vehicles?

When ill NASA go to Mars. Will it be in the CEV?

What will be next after that? Titan? Still CEV??

Any help would be great, thanks.

Offline James Lowe1

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I think Titan looks favorite after Mars, but we are talking a long, long time away.

Offline Spacely

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I assume that after a Moon base is established (in this ideal timeline), NASA would begin a concentrated nuclear propulsion effort in conjunction with Mars landing plans. If nuclear-powered Earth departure stages were doable by say, 2040, I'd say a Titan mission could come any time after that (2050-2070).

Offline Dobbins

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James Lowe - 15/11/2005  8:41 AM

I think Titan looks favorite after Mars, but we are talking a long, long time away.

I would say that the Asteroids will be the next place men explore after Mars. The Moon, Mars, and the Asteroids will be more than enough to keep us busy for at least the first half of the 21st century if not the entire time. I doubt that we will make it to the Outer planets until very late in this century at best and likely not until some time in the 22nd century.

John B. Dobbins

Offline Bruce H

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Moon, Mars, Moon Base, Mars Base. That's as far ahead as I can think right now.

Offline Spacely

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Now see I think it'll go Moon, Moon Base, Mars, Mars Base, seeing as how NASA wants to build an expansive space infrastructure that can't be simply torn down (ala the cancellation of the Saturn V) at the stroke of a Congresstional vote.

Offline SRBseparama

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Unfortunatly this is true. It's all on paper and will remain there until there's a plan which can be supported by both sides of the political spectrum. Given the current climate and the real possibility that there's going to be a big swing in the political makeup of the country soon, I'm not very confident right now.

Offline Firestarter

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SRBseparama - 15/11/2005  6:40 PM

Unfortunatly this is true. It's all on paper and will remain there until there's a plan which can be supported by both sides of the political spectrum. Given the current climate and the real possibility that there's going to be a big swing in the political makeup of the country soon, I'm not very confident right now.

Nothing a race for Moon and Mars real estate wouldn't hurt. I don't think any administration would wish to drop the ball on that 'threat'. Thanks to the Chinese especially, this is helpful.

Offline Avron

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Spacely - 15/11/2005  7:38 PM

Now see I think it'll go Moon, Moon Base, Mars, Mars Base, seeing as how NASA wants to build an expansive space infrastructure that can't be simply torn down (ala the cancellation of the Saturn V) at the stroke of a Congresstional vote.

Humm think Moon base will be moved after Mars, if and only if there is some race... all I know, based on the process since 1969 in terms of moving away from earth... I will be very lucky if I am alive to see a Mars base created, and I am also not sure if we will get to Mars before mid century... :(

Offline FransonUK

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What if China for example declares they then own Mars. Would that lead to UN, then sanctions, then possibily a real problem?
Don't ya wish your spaceship was hot like me

Offline CuddlyRocket

'Possession is nine tenths of the law.'

And then, only if you carry a big enough stick to stay in possession.

In other words, China can say what it likes. Mars will belong to whoever gets there, and I doubt anyone will have sufficient military capability to prevent others getting there.

Offline Andy L

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But if it was classed as terrortory, they wouldn't need to have a capacity to defend it at the point of reference. They could have an exlcusion zone and anything that enters it would be an act of war - back on Earth. Interesting points.

Offline HailColumbia

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Did China sign that treaty way back when that said you cant claim territory in space?
-Steve

Offline Chris SF

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HailColumbia - 16/11/2005  5:49 PM

Did China sign that treaty way back when that said you cant claim territory in space?

No. They refused to sign any international accord on this.

Offline tom nackid

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Well, there is nothing really to stop anybody from claiming they own the moon or Mars or any other piece of land. I believe there are some equatorial countries right now that lie beneath the moon's orbital path who claim ownership. Argentina claims ownership over a large chunk of Antarctica. No other countries acknowledge these claims and for now the countries making the claims don't seem willing to use military force to back them up. Ultimately that is the real question. If China were to claim ownership of the moon or mars (whether they actually set foot on it or not is meaningless) would they be willing to shoot down anyone else's expeditions? I doubt it. The only "rights" any nation has to land is whatever it is willing and capable of fighting or negotiating for.

Offline kraisee

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tom nackid - 17/11/2005  3:32 PM

Well, there is nothing really to stop anybody from claiming they own the moon or Mars or any other piece of land. I believe there are some equatorial countries right now that lie beneath the moon's orbital path who claim ownership. Argentina claims ownership over a large chunk of Antarctica. No other countries acknowledge these claims and for now the countries making the claims don't seem willing to use military force to back them up. Ultimately that is the real question. If China were to claim ownership of the moon or mars (whether they actually set foot on it or not is meaningless) would they be willing to shoot down anyone else's expeditions? I doubt it. The only "rights" any nation has to land is whatever it is willing and capable of fighting or negotiating for.

So the question becomes "Why doesn't Argentina try to take possession of Antarctica?"   The answer is simple.   Because there's no financial reward for doing so - it just isn't worth it.

But is the moon valuable enough for China to be interested?

Possibly if He3 becomes the replacement fuel after the oil wells all run dry in 50 years or so and the world is desperately struggling to find alternatives.

The moon has plentiful He3 which could be mined and returned to Earth fairly economically if they go wanted to go large-scale.   And China has on several occasions said they want to be the worlds supplier of He3.   I'm sure other countries might have something to say about them being the sole supplier and charging whatever they want for He3.   But the bottom line is that if China wanted to get aggressive about it they easily can.    The moon is pretty easy to defent because the general environment all the way there is so inhospitable already, and spacecraft are extraordinarily delicate pieces of equipment.   It would not take very much at all to kill a crew en route to the moon if you choose to.

I've said previously, imagine what would happen if you ran your 20,000mph lunar-bound spacecraft over a stationary piece of lead the size of a 30mm gunnery shell which has been carefully placed in your path?   It's the same old orbital debris problem all over again, but on the extremely weight-limited moon craft there would never be any heavy shielding to protect against anything like this.   We saw what happened to Columbia with a chunk of foam hitting at just 500mph difference in speed.   Any spacecraft hitting something that size at a closing speed of 20,000mph is going to have a really bad day.

A physical projectile isn't even necessary.   You could deploy a satellite able to beam extra concentrated sunlight or microwave energy at a spacecraft as it made its three-day-long trip to the moon. If you can increase the internal temperature of the vehicle by just 2 degrees per hour over that 72 hour period, you'd raise the internal temperature by 144 degrees!   That's enough to cook the crew inside before they ever reached their destination.

My point is, it wouldn't take you much to defend the moon if you were determined to.    Worse still, there's no easy way to prove anyone was involved at all.   Everyone knows that spacecraft have unfortunate accidents.   How could you possibly prove it was a malicious act which killed a crew 240,000 miles away from the Earth?

Ross.
"The meek shall inherit the Earth -- the rest of us will go to the stars"
-Robert A. Heinlein

Offline HailColumbia

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of course you could probably kill your hypothetical lunar microwave weapon with another one based on earth.  Plus it would be really easy to nuke em right off the moon.  Defending the moon requires you to have a really good idea of exactly where the threat is. How big of a radar could you really bring?  they could never hope to see a few MIRV-Sized warheads, escpecally if you coverd them in stealth bomber material.  I think the moon would be really hard to defend.
-Steve

Offline kraisee

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HailColumbia - 18/11/2005  12:53 AM

of course you could probably kill your hypothetical lunar microwave weapon with another one based on earth.  Plus it would be really easy to nuke em right off the moon.  Defending the moon requires you to have a really good idea of exactly where the threat is. How big of a radar could you really bring?  they could never hope to see a few MIRV-Sized warheads, escpecally if you coverd them in stealth bomber material.  I think the moon would be really hard to defend.

But how can you prove China had anything to do with the loss of your last three spacecraft sent to the moon?

Perhaps one exploded into a million pieces for some unexpected reason.   Apollo 13 nearly did exactly that all on its own, so it certainly can happen.   Maybe another crew just stopped talking suddenly due and the craft never made another burn and is now lost in a solar orbit - completely out of reach.   The guess is that some raditation killed the crew and scrambled the computers, but nobody knows for sure where it came from.    And the third had some form of mysterious heating issue which killed the crew before reaching Lunar orbit.   Nobody knows if the life support system just malfunctioned or what.

You've got no proof anyone else was involved and China denies all knowledge.

Perhaps you've got a slight suspicion that perhaps China was involved somehow, but you can't tell if any of their hundreds of satellites had anything to do with any of the flights being lost - there's no proof.

You can't start a war in that situation, yet the public has now lost 12 more astronauts and the lunar program is about to be cancelled by angry Congressmen.

And about the nukes - if they've claimed the moon as sovereign Chinese territory, I really wouldn't contemplate nuking any land they consider as their motherland.   They'll just get really cranky and return the favour back to you directly.   That path is an instant no-win situation for both America and China, and so I'd not recommend it.

If China wants the moon, the only way to prevent them claiming it for themselves is simply to make sure you go back there first - and stay.

Ross.
"The meek shall inherit the Earth -- the rest of us will go to the stars"
-Robert A. Heinlein

Offline HailColumbia

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kraisee - 18/11/2005  1:21 AM

But how can you prove China had anything to do with the loss of your last three spacecraft sent to the moon?

Well, my argument was more about how you would actually fight somone on the moon.  I would assume its pretty easy to defend any territory if no one else knows you are defending it.  

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kraisee - 18/11/2005  1:21 AM

And about the nukes - if they've claimed the moon as sovereign Chinese territory, I really wouldn't contemplate nuking any land they consider as their motherland.  

Ross.


Bah, I'll nuke what I want ;)
-Steve

Offline RedSky

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Well, this thread certainly has gone in a strange direction.  What would be the advantage of any country declaring the Moon ... or Mars... their soverign territory?  If they were silly enough to consider doing that, then they could do that right now and not even wait until they eventually get there. You don't need an astronaut planting a flag for that. As for only being able to claim and defend territory on the Moon or Mars that they occupied (i.e., a base or settlement), well its easy to defend those territories even if no one were there:  threaten to attack the homeworld... er, country.  Guess many of you didn't actually live through the Cold War.  It didn't matter where in the world (or now, space) the disputed area was... if things got nasty enough, you could expect your (or their) country to be nuked.

Yes, there might be enormous inherent wealth in a moon or planet, but just claiming it won't make you wealthy. Until it becomes practical and economically viable to get at whatever raw material it is... either with a large base / industrial complex there or cheap regular reliable transportation to and from there....  what's the point?  You don't get prestige by just making some declaration then threatening anyone who crosses a line.

Anyway... getting back to the concept brought up here that China might declare it owns the Moon or Mars: First off, you could boycott their goods.  Where do you think they get the money to go into space lately?  Take a look at half the products in your home and you'll probably see a "Made in China" label somewhere (I know that's the way it is here in the U.S.).   Regarding them having some secret weapon that destroys spacecraft on the way to the moon without anyone knowing the cause:  that could probably be figured out fairly easily.  If you've ever read through any of the accident reports from Apollo 13, Challenger or Columbia, telemetry that is always beamed back to earth is analyzed to the thousanth of a second to reveal precursers to the main failure.  Any microwave or particle beam affect on heating up something could probably be readily deduced.  Any projectile "shot" at the craft would likewise be identified by radar.    Besides, there are a lot more immediate things to think about than interplanetary conquest.

Offline HailColumbia

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RedSky - 19/11/2005  8:22 AM

Well  Besides, there are a lot more immediate things to think about than interplanetary conquest.

But interplanetary conquest makes this so much more fun, and to that end, I say that we declare Jupiter to be an "enemy planet". That'll show'em who's boss.
-Steve

Offline Dobbins

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I don't expect anyone to recognize a Chinese claim to the entire Moon any more than European nations recognized Spain's claims to the Americas based on Columbus' first voyage.

My concern is someone getting the prime spots. Resources are not uniformly distributed here on Earth and there is no reason to think they will be on the Moon or on Mars. There will be some locations that are more valuable than others and I don't want to see the USA miss out on those because we are messing around in LEO.
 
John B. Dobbins

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