Main Article: Kennedy + Space + Obama = Mars?
Many Presidents in the past have made a case for pushing outward into space. The current NASA policy is working towards a longterm goal of Mars.
Where does President Elect Obama stand on the issue?
Poll Results: How should the Federal Government approach Space Tourism? Check what happened in yesterday's poll.
Star Trek: In the News. Want more Star Trek News? click subscribe, scroll down to read the latest news.
Yesterday's Interesting Comments: "Tell me, why did the non-Pilgrim half of the Mayflower get out of London? They were slum jumpin. At some point some folk will bale when the possibility presents itself." palantir
Today's Poll: Where should Barack Obama lead America and our space program, flying in circles around Earth, or take us to the planets.
President John F. Kennedy, Dec. 1962
"These tests should be completed by July. If they are successful, then we will put more money into the program, which would involve the Nerva and Rift, both the engine and the regular machine. We will wait until July, however, to see if these tests are successful. It should be understood that the nuclear rocket, even under the most favorable circumstances, would not play a role in any first lunar landing. This will not come into play until 1970 or ‘71. It would be useful for further trips to the moon or trips to Mars."
President Kennedy and the Progressive Democrats assumed America would be going to mars, long before President Bush outlined a trip to mars in his 2004 speech about a change for NASA, the
"Vision for Space Exploration."
"With the experience and knowledge gained on the moon, we will then be ready to take the next steps of space exploration: human missions to Mars and to worlds beyond. (Applause.) Robotic missions will serve as trailblazers -- the advanced guard to the unknown. Probes, landers and other vehicles of this kind continue to prove their worth, sending spectacular images and vast amounts of data back to Earth. Yet the human thirst for knowledge ultimately cannot be satisfied by even the most vivid pictures, or the most detailed measurements. We need to see and examine and touch for ourselves. And only human beings are capable of adapting to the inevitable uncertainties posed by space travel."
As in many of President Bush's "visions" for America, he could talk the talk, but never walk the walk. He would give the speech, collect the photo ops, then the policy or program died a slow death.
President Bush's Father, George Bush Sr. had a similar goal for space, to take America back to space exploration beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Before Bush Sr. ever got to Washington there was
"In the early 1980s, a group of graduate students at the University of Colorado in Boulder, calling themselves the "Mars Underground," held a series of conferences called The Case for Mars. These conferences brought together scientists, engineers and enthusiasts from all over the country to discuss the possibility of sending humans to the Red Planet. They managed to energize the space community and give human exploration of Mars a certain degree of visibility. Others, including Carl Sagan and the Planetary Society, and the late Senator Spark Matsunaga of Hawaii, endorsed the idea of a joint U.S.-Soviet mission to Mars as a means of ending the Cold War. During the same time, a group of scientists at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston started studying potential concepts for lunar bases." The Space Review
"Large subsurface, pressurized habitats would be the first step toward human settlement; the book suggests they can be built as Roman-style atria underground with easily produced Martian brick. During and after this initial phase of habitat construction, hard-plastic radiation- and abrasion-resistant geodesic domes could be deployed on the surface for eventual habitation and crop growth. Nascent industry would begin using indigenous resources: the manufacture of plastics, ceramics and glass.
The larger work of terraforming requires an initial phase of global warming to release atmosphere from the regolith and to create a water-cycle. Three methods of global warming are described in the work and, Zubrin suggests, are probably best deployed in tandem: orbital mirrors to heat the surface; factories on the surface to pump halocarbons into the atmosphere; and the seeding of bacteria which can metabolize water, nitrogen and carbon to produce ammonia and methane (these would aid in global warming). While the work of warming Mars is on-going, true colonization can begin.
The Case for Mars acknowledges that any Martian colony will be partially Earth-dependent for centuries. However, it suggests that Mars may be a profitable place for two reasons. First, it may contain concentrated supplies of metals of equal or greater value to silver which have not been subjected to millennia of human scavenging and may be sold on Earth for profit. Secondly, the concentration of deuterium — an extremely expensive but essential fuel for the nuclear power industry — is five times greater on Mars. Humans emigrating to Mars thus have an assured industry and the planet will be a magnet for settlers as wage costs will be high. The book asserts that "the labor shortage that will prevail on Mars will drive Martian civilization toward both technological and social advances." "
There are many compelling arguements for a trip to Mars. Would I support a "trip to Mars"? For Flag planting and photo ops and then abandon the program, then it is not my most favored way to approach it.
I Still prefer the idea of an IN SPACE vehicle for NASA that is a "gas and go" serviced in orbit, vehicle.
President Bush Sr. started the Space Exploration Initiative but it received little consideration in congress:
"Bush’s speech was widely criticized on Capitol Hill, where both houses of Congress were controlled by the Democrats. House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt quipped, "Mr. President, there’s no such thing as a free launch," and others blasted the reported $400 billion price tag for such an undertaking. At the time Bush had been enjoying an extended honeymoon period after his inauguration. The high costs of this bold plan provided a means for his critics to try and bring the positive press to an end and portray Bush as someone unconcerned about serious problems on Earth.
Once the goal had been outlined in Bush’s July speech, it had to be further defined and translated into actual programs and spending plans. Presidents also cannot simply endorse large projects and then expect the executive branch to enact them. The president must be a strong advocate of the program. Occasionally, his intervention is necessary at key decision points and during major congressional votes. The president must also be willing to expend finite political capital to achieve the goals he values. However, Bush’s plan had immediately become a political liability, providing fuel for his critics. As time went on, the situation did not get better.
Congress reacted to the new plan by immediately zeroing-out parts of NASA’s budget that would develop enabling technologies for future exploration. These efforts, known as Project Pathfinder, had actually been initiated by the Reagan administration, and their cancellation was a shot across the bow warning Bush that he would not have an easy time funding even small parts of this new plan." - Dwayne Day
Once again Mars was off the table. The estimated cost of 400 billion was considered to high and America was banished to continue circling the globe with the Space Shuttle.
I am still moved by a section of that speech He gave:
President George Bush Sr., in his "Remarks on the 20th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing" said the following:
"space is the inescapable challenge to all the advanced nations of the Earth. And there's little question that, in the 21st century, humans will again leave their home planet for voyages of discovery and exploration. What was once improbable is now inevitable. The time has come to look beyond brief encounters. We must commit ourselves anew to a sustained program of manned exploration of the solar system and, yes, the permanent settlement of space. We must commit ourselves to a future where Americans and citizens of all nations will live and work in space."
Presidents Kennedy, Reagan, Bush I & II, all stated the basic need for America to look outward, to the heavens. Where will President Elect Barack Obama stand on the Mars issue. In the six page policy statement he released it doesn't specifically mention a trip to Mars.
"SPACE SCIENCE AND EXPLORATION
Closing the Gap
Since 1981, the Space Shuttle has been NASA’s workhorse. Its retirement will leave NASA without human spaceflight capability until the first elements of the Constellation program are operational, some five years later. This gap between the retirement of the Space Shuttle and the entry into service of its replacement is a serious concern. Barack Obama is committed to making the necessary investments to ensure we close this gap as much as is technically feasible and to minimize reliance on foreign space capabilities. He also will work with the space industry to ensure retention of workforce and technical capabilities during the transition from the shuttle to its successor.
• Retaining Options for Additional Shuttle Flights: Barack Obama supports Congressional efforts to
add at least one additional Space Shuttle flight to fly a valuable mission and to keep the workforce engaged. He will work to ensure there is adequate funding to support that additional flight so that it
does not interfere with developing the Shuttle’s successor.
• Speeding the Next-Generation Vehicle: Obama will expedite the development of the Shuttle’s
successor systems for carrying Americans to space so we can minimize the gap. This will be difficult; underfunding by the Bush administration has left NASA with limited flexibility to accelerate the
development of the new systems.
• Using the Private Sector: Obama will stimulate efforts within the private sector to develop and demonstrate spaceflight capabilities. NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services is a good model of government/industry collaboration.
• Working with International Allies: Obama will enlist international partners to provide International
Space Station (ISS) cargo re-supply and eventually alternate means for sending crews to the ISS."
What stands out to me is that although it mentions the Constellation Program, it is never specifically mentioned AS the successor to the Space Shuttle.
I highlighted in bold where they failed to refer to Constellation or a possible Moon - Mars Program.
[Tuesday, December 2, 2008] "NASA has signed a $141 million modification to the current International Space Station contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency for crew transportation services planned through the spring of 2012."
Once again DKOS voters have been almost equally split when it comes to what they want the Government funding relating to space development. Private Enterprise has to make their own business case for development and fund it themselves.
34% Leave Space Tourism TOTALLY to private enterprise, NO Gov. Funding.
31% Have America take the lead in Global Space Tourism, it's all about jobs of the 21st Century. America should prime the pump!
STAR TREK: In the News
"I had the absolute privilege of previewing thirty minutes of one of 2009’s most anticipated movies, Star Trek. I am pleased to write the film is set to be an epic science fiction adventure that is more in the vein of Star Wars than the original Star Trek series. Expect some strongly worded posts and rioting from trekkie purists." - by Simone Mitchell on Dec 03.
YESTERDAY'S INTERESTING COMMENTS:
It was a lively debate and it started off with a comment by Futuristic Dreamer:
"Let's fix Earth 1st. We can't move past this planet while our planet is in shambles. Let's not fuck up the next planet like we did this one. The galaxy won't want anything to do with us as we are now.
I strongly support space exploration, I believe it's the way of the future, but I think now isn't the time to focus on it. When we're ready, we need to build an orbital tether (or space elevator) so we can launch shuttles and other objects into space cheaply and easily."
Bill White quickly shot back:
"Staying alive on the Moon or Mars requires an almost incomprehensible level of recycling and in space exploration circles it is sometimes called CELSS
Closed Ecological Life Support Systems
Designing and building a CELSS is teaching us a staggering amount about how our Terran ecology actually works.
In addition, as a matter of history, the iconic photograph of Earthrise over the Moon taken by an early Apollo mission did a great deal to facilitate a sense of global ecological interdependence.
Seeing the Earth from the outside simply enlarges our consciousness and thereby facilitates an understanding of the need to protect teh Earth."
Yesterday's topic was Space Tourism and reusable suborbital planes and Nath Guy offered this:
"Suborbital RLV's offer the promise of extraordinarily cheap environmental data."
I believe NASA is exploring that very thing with Virgin Galatic, I hope they work something out for an Astronaut training program also. They will not have to wait years just for a taste of Zero G.
I read a comment by Ferris Valyn "Large scale usage of space won't happen without commercialization"
I agree with him and I hope President Elect Obamba's pick for Secretary of Commerce, Bill Richardson, the current Governor of New Mexico and pro commercial space advocate turns out to be the right person for the job.
Why is the Secretary of Commerce so important? The Secretary picks the Head of the Office of Space Commercialization. President Bush didn't appoint Morris to fill that office until 2006. If Richardson is aggressive we could really see some movement in commercial space.
Ferris also had "to take you to task a little Vlad. There is another 600 pound Gorilla in the room - Blue Origin. When you have the wealth of Jeff Bezos at your disposal, you can't be counted out.
That said, I am convinced that there is a race going on, and that the 4 major players are SpaceShipTwo, New Shepard (Blue Origin), Lynx, and Armadillo Aerospace's Flying fishbowl (yes, I am serious)."
Many Presidents have suggested a return to space exploration past LEO. Under the current NASA guidelines: The Vision for Space Exploration (VSE) America has made it a mandate that sometime, in the future, the Nation will travel to Mars. The current ball park is around the 2035 timeline.
Where should President Elect Obama move NASA, relative to the stated goals of the Nation, as it relates to an American crewed spacecraft traveling to Mars.