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MAIN ARTICLE: CNN cuts Science - Environmental & Tech team.
At a time when science reporting should be increasing, cable network cuts science reporters.

Poll Results: Fasinating Poll Results from the latest Americans In Space  polls:  "Should Obama adandon Mars for 2035?"

Star Trek: In the News - Want to watch Season 1 of Star Trek, the original series? Click subscribe now to get the lastest news. Scroll down to read the latest.

Yesterday's Interesting Comments:  "KHAN!!!!!" - Crisis Corps Volunteer

A commenter had suggested send prisoners to Mars and I mentioned the USS Botany Bay.

Today's Poll: NASA: Focus on LEO 2 GEO space debris & satellite service vehicle. LEO Fuel Depot.

At a time in American history where science, and the reporting of science, would be at the forefront of National News Reporting.....

Global warming, soil erosion, toxins, flooding, droughts, specie die offs, deforestation, water shortages, air pollution, water pollution, ground pollution, smog, mercury posioning, ( catches breath) oh screw it, et cetera. You would think this is when we need MORE reporting on science.

These problems will be monitored with every increasing launches into space of American Space Assets. From cell phones to satellite TV and weather reporting. Everything is becoming space based.

What the billions spent on the Hubble proved is, having the ability to fly over to a space based telescope and repair it, repeatedly, means the difference between success or just another waste of billions of dollars on space.

"I’m baffled," said Keith Cowing, who runs
Columbia Journalism Review

Columbia Journalism Review
"CNN, the Cable News Network, announced yesterday that it will cut its entire science, technology, and environment news staff, including Miles O’Brien, its chief technology and environment correspondent, as well as six executive producers. Mediabistro’s TVNewser broke the story.

"We want to integrate environmental, science and technology reporting into the general editorial structure rather than have a stand alone unit," said CNN spokesperson Barbara Levin. "Now that the bulk of our environmental coverage is being offered through the Planet in Peril franchise, which is produced by the Anderson Cooper 360 program, there is no need for a separate unit."

A source at the network, who asked not to be named, said the move is a strategic and structural business decision to cut staff, unrelated to the current economic downturn. Financially, "CNN is doing very, very well," the source said, and none of the health and medical news staff has been cut. Yet the big question, of course, is whether or not the reorganization will decrease the overall amount of CNN’s science, technology, and environment coverage. CNN says no, but it’s hard to imagine that it won’t—Anderson Cooper or not, fewer people is fewer people."

The EcoMingler had a unique look at it We interrupt this Paris Hilton story...

I have been watching Miles O'Brian talk about space for 15 years. I am not the greatest fan of CNN but I did enjoy his work. MSM should be burying us in real news that really matters to both us and the planet.



Over 3000 satellites have been launched into Earth orbit, over 1000 are currently working.

NASA tracks over 13,000 pieces of Space Debris.

A cascade failure of American Space Infrastructure is only a matter of time as the amount of space debris or "space junk" increases. Watch the movie "WALL-E" and look for the space junk circling the planet.

Space Junk represents a threat many Americans have absolutely no clue about. The United States of America could turn into the stone age relatively quickly as our space infrastructure progresses faster then our ability to do "hands on" repairs of those space assets.

Before America should think about Mars, they should think about a "gas n' go" space "car" for LEO to GEO transportation. If we want NASA and our space program to produce PRACTICIAL results lets invest in protection of the hundreds of billions of dollars of assest we have in space already AND the hundreds of billions of future American space assets for climate change and other pollution satellites that will need to be launched.

To operate a LEO to GEO space junk & satellite service vehicle, it will need a fuel & service station and a hotel. Bigelow Aerospace is launching modules for "hang time", the first manned module "Sundancer" is scheduled to go up in 2010. a firm can lease a whole or half of a module and use it for various space based business.  A Space hotel will, more then likely, be one of the first operations.

NASA should be developing a garbage truck and gas station in Low Earth Orbit.


"In order to mitigate the generation of additional space debris, a number of measures have been proposed: The passivation of spent upper stages by the release of residual fuels is aimed at decreasing the risk of on-orbit explosions that could generate thousands of additional debris objects.

Taking satellites out of orbit operational life would also be an effective mitigation measure. This could be facilitated with a "terminator tether," an electrodynamic tether that is rolled out, and slows down the spacecraft.[6] In cases when a direct (and controlled) de-orbit would require too much fuel the satellite can also be brought atmospheric drag would cause it to de-orbit after some years. Such a maneuver was successfully performed with the French Spot-1 satellite bringing its time to atmospheric reentry down from ~200 years to ~16 years.

In orbital altitudes where it would not be economically feasible to de-orbit a satellite, like in the geostationary ring they are brought to a graveyard orbit where no operational satellites are present.

Proposals have been made for ways to "sweep" space debris back into Earth's atmosphere, including automated tugs, laser brooms to vaporize or nudge particles into rapidly-decaying orbits, or huge aerogel blobs to absorb impacting junk and eventually fall out of orbit with them trapped inside. However, currently most effort is being devoted to prevention of collisions by keeping track of larger debris, and prevention of more debris"

America has two choices, we can send robots or actively work on space development with a "gas and go" LEO to GEO space economy. We can expand past GEO once we have settled GEO. And then? The langrange points.


Rather surprising results, recent polls have suggested that Lunar options were prefered. Increase Mars funding and work towards a 2020 landing (28%) lead with 14% favoring a moon base coming in second.

In only 12 years we would need a real push for NASA, not doable in my opinion.

19% No Opinion but I support increased funding for space  
1% No Opinion and I do not support increased funding for space.

That is the lowest no funding ever seen on polls so far.


If you are a fan of Netflix they have added Star Trek Season 1 of the original series. Net Flix


A tip of the hat to Casual Wednesday for his image of the x wing and quote.

ankey wrote:

"The way I see it about 4 years ago when I was in high school, I went to a "geeky" space camp put on by NASA JSC where I got to see the latest and greatest projects they were working on to get us to Mars. This past summer, I asked several project managers for updates on their projects and despite all this time, very little progress had been made on any of them.

Now I am all for space exploration, etc. In fact, I am currently part of a university team that is helping NASA build a satellite that will go up into space in the last launch of the shuttle program. But with so much money spent already on this and not very much to show for it, I don't think Mars in 2035 is feasible and the money would be better spent on other NASA projects. I do think also that commercialization is the way to go in order to get more progress on spaceflight capabilities."


PAGES FROM THE PAST: "Will Obama let NASA get "bogged down" with a Moon Base"

A great comment by dark energy:

"Summarizing ...

The following are those activities for which human presence in orbit would seem to be a necessary element:

   1) Tourism (which almost by definition requires human presence)

   2) Sports (which by most definitions requires human presence)

   3) Art by humans in orbit

   4) Also in the same category would be any research on humans in vivo in situ.

Activities for which human presence in orbit is more debatable are:

   5) Construction for solar solar power -- are there other candidate construction purposes?

   6) Production/assembly -- for which purposes?

   7) Research for on-site geology


Private v public funding: Before returning to discussion of technical/economic feasibility, are we agreed that private/public funding for the above should be as follows:

   (1) Tourism and (2) sports should be privately funded with government involvement limited to regulation and, perhaps, some minor promotional support?

   (3) "Art in space" should be treated as public funding for art in general?

   (4) Space solar power should be privately funded with, possibly, tax incentives as for other energy projects and support for long-term research efforts?

   (5) Construction and (6) production/assembly [discussion re funding postponed until specific project purposes have been identified]

   (7) On-site geology -- private/public depending on whether the geology is for applications/long-term research?

I'll see what I can find in terms some sort of peer review study, although I am not optimistic, for me or you - to date, the underlying assumption, that is cheap, reliable access to space, has never happened, and thus there are a number of underlying assumption that are necassary, some of which may not be legit.  As I said, I'll see what I can find.


Are you indicating it is less hazardous for humans?

Its level of hazardous exists is different - not necessarily less, not necessarily more - just different.  The results of failure are more extreme, but thats not the same thing as being more or less hazardous.

We can perhaps explore this later re space debris, radiation, etc."



Is Space junk a "NEAR" enough space issue that NASA should consider?
the space junk issue will be posed against six alternative choices.

LEO 2 GEO space junk & satellite service vehicle. LEO Fuel Depot.

Moon Landings
Moon Research Station.
Mars Landing
Mars Research Station.

No Opinion but I do support increased funding for space.
No Opinion and I do not support increased space spending.

Originally posted to Vladislaw on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 09:22 PM PST.


NASA: Focus on LEO 2 GEO space debris & satellite service vehicle. LEO Fuel Depot.

26%18 votes
2%2 votes
10%7 votes
7%5 votes
11%8 votes
26%18 votes
13%9 votes

| 67 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  I like the idea... (5+ / 0-)

    of a service vehicle. Clean up our own yard before we explore the neighborhood, plus it's a good practice ground for new tech.

    "Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear." - Mark Twain

    by Dr Gonzo on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 09:30:51 PM PST

  •  Sorry to see Miles O'Brien go (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chacounne, thebluecrayon, Vladislaw

    Story from TVNEWSER

    "Never get out of the boat."

    by tlemon on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 09:30:58 PM PST

  •  Wow. Could CNN get any dumber?? (14+ / 0-)

    It's like they want to become the least watched station ever.

    Will they EVER fire Sanjay Gupta though? He's annoying - alongside 3/4 of their other staff people. Honestly, Miles O'Brien is probably one of the best reporters they've got - or had. Of course, this is the same network that fired Aaron Brown...he was good.

    •  Anderson Cooper - "they call him me (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elise, Casual Wednesday, Dr Gonzo

      Mister Excitement"

    •  Is interesting (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elise, Chacounne

      How the cycle through anchors on're on the Morning Show and then you're gone.

      Theres something about continuity that is pretty good in news.  Also, getting rid of Aaron Brown was one of the dumbest moves they could of made.  Should of given Cooper the 8 o'clock hr and left Brown on at 10.

      Hey you, dont tell me theres no hope at all Together we stand, divided we fall.

      by marcvstraianvs on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 09:38:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Elise, websites shall pick up the slack (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thebluecrayon, Vladislaw

      and the MSM shall continue to lose relevance. does authentic and in-depth journalism on space and they have an extensive video collection.

      As live streaming video increases in availability, more and more smaller players can do the kind of work Miles O'Brien does, albeit at a far lower salary.

      Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

      by Bill White on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 09:53:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  He believes in global warming (3+ / 0-)

      and no one else on the network seems to.

      I saw him recently on a panel taking the other members to task for not believing that climate change and global warming were real and most likely man made.

      They didn't have him on much after that.

      I guess it finally cost him his job.

      Maybe MSNBC could hire him.

      "It always seems impossible until it's done." - Nelson Mandela

      by Brooke In Seattle on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:29:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This would be an opening for MSNBC (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      When I watch their regular coverage, there is little of this crap about the day's high-speed chase in Los Angeles or a guy going through the drive-through naked (that is strictly Odd Ball material).

      MSNBC could take up the slack and be a leader in environmental, science, and technology news. Maybe then we would be saved from the interminable weekends of documentaries about life in prison.

      Mr. President,...(a)fter 9/11, what would your biggest mistake be, would you say, and what lessons have you learned from it?

      by Casual Wednesday on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 12:47:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  MSM takes another step to becoming space junk (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pgm 01, Dr Gonzo, NellaSelim, Vladislaw


    Sad to see Miles go.  They'll probably have some young hottie covering shuttle launches now.  

    When do libruls create their own network?

  •  Earth obs satellites for environmental obs (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WisCheez, Dr Gonzo, NellaSelim, Vladislaw

    have been grossly underfunded by Bush.

    A large increase in funding is needed to make up for the damage done by Bush to measure global change from space.

    "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 09:42:28 PM PST

  •  With the car companies not advertising on Tee Vee (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sistersilverwolf, Vladislaw

    Something has to be cut.  What do you recommend?  Their popular show with Nancy Grace?

    Where is Caylee, anyway?

    Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity. Horace Mann (and btw, the bike in kayakbiker is a bicycle)

    by Kayakbiker on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 09:42:43 PM PST

  •  <-- doesn't understand science haters (6+ / 0-)

    how come so few people are interested in how this world works?

    Damn man, if I was CNN, the science section would be huge. So much is happening.

    Science and Math literacy is a huge deal for me.
    I guess most people just think its specialist knowledge.

  •  Should we focus on LEO propellant depots or ISRU? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SJLeonidas, NellaSelim, Vladislaw

    Actually, this question may be at the core of a few of the most significant differences between myself and  Ferris since the answer to the above question depends on whether one believes cheap access to orbit via RLV space planes is a credible or viable proposition.  

    I cannot now locate an exact quote however I recall Jon Goff saying that ISRU LOX (extracting oxygen for propulsion from the lunar regolith) would be a nice feature ("icing on the cake" IIRC) but that propellant  depots should be the primary focus of revised architectures.

    IF a propellant depot were to facilitate the development of ultra low cost Earth-to-LEO space planes THEN I must say that I agree.

    However, I am NOT persuaded that ultra low cost Earth-to-LEO RLVs are a foreseeable development in the near future. And the incentive provided by NASA buying fuel in LEO from private players is not larger enough, IMHO, to change that.

    (As an aside, space solar power is also seen as a mechanism to create demand for lots and lots of flights to LEO and IMHO exhilaration at that potential market causes people to disregard a few very serious flaws in the "beam power from orbit to Earth" business model. Wishful thinking, as it were.)

    Anyway, IF ultra-cheap RLV Earth-to-LEO is not feasible, then what? Are we just screwed?

    Not in my opinion. A reusable LUNAR LANDER is very feasible and if that lander is powered by fuel from Earth - methane, or hydrogen or even RP-1 kerosene - and oxygen from the Moon and if none of the lander is disposed of after a mission, then the incremental IMLEO (initial mass in LEO) for adding a lunar mission falls through the floor.

    Using this paradigm, every launch from Earth should carry as much mass upwards as possible and as little mass as possible comes back down. Just enough to safely land the astronauts.

    Landing an RLV squanders the fuel used to place the dry mass of that RLV in orbit.

    Remove the orbiter from the shuttle stack and what remains can loft impressive quantities of payload at a very attractive price point. (DIRECT 2.0)

    Why? Very little ever comes back down to Earth.

    LEO momentum exchange tethers would work in a similar manner. Rather than aerobrake or aerocapture a payload coming from the Moon, slow it down by snagging a tether.

    The returning vessel slows down AND orbital energy is added to another vessel in LEO saving delta v for an outbound journey.

    Focus too much on RLVs, RLVs, RLVs, and we lose sight of other strategies that do not require technological and financial breakthroughs that may or may not happen.

    Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

    by Bill White on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 09:48:54 PM PST

    •  Texas Firm Draws up Plans for Orbital Gas Station (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
    •  Scramjets technology has been validated and (0+ / 0-)

      Rocketdyne is working on next generation of scramjet craft.  A good leo system could focus on a ramjet platform to launch scramjet.  Considerable reduction in fuel/weight ratio.  Could reach below $1000/lb rate.

      •  We could do below $1000/lbs with simple rocket (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bill White, NellaSelim, Vladislaw

        technology.  We don't need anything fancy, like scramjets, although we need continued investment in Scramjet technology.

        But we can do $1000/lbs, or even lower, with traditional rockets.  Hell, its arguable that it'd be easier with rockets than scramjets.

        •  I am not seeing evidence of this... (0+ / 0-)

          Scaled composite has only suborbital flight.  Would take considerable more fuel and energy to reach orbital flight.  Even Elon Musk's SpaceX who have developed the cheapest satellite launchers in the industry would not be able to do it for less than $40 million.

          •  Mass production . . . (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I recall reading that an RL-10 rocket motor has a similar degree of complexity and materials cost as a gas turbine helicopter engine.

            RL-10s cost millions of dollars while those helicopter engines might cost $100,000.

            The difference? Maybe a dozen RL-10s are sold in a year compared with thousands of helicopter engines.

            Building TWO Mars rovers cost 125% of building one.

            100x for 1 (100x per unit)

            125x for 2 (62.5x per unit)

            Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

            by Bill White on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:19:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Primary cost is not the motor, but the fuel... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Bill White

              SpaceX has done a good job reducing overall engine and equipment cost.  But fuel costs are the floor preventing reduction in overall expense.

              •  And fuel is really the stick of it. You can... (0+ / 0-)

                reduce overall rocket weight by employing composites and building more efficient engines and this could reduce overall fuel requirement by say 5-10%.  You can employ assembly line to reduce production cost. But energy requirement to reach orbit remains the same thus fuel reduction will not be significant enough to go anywhere close to the $1000/hour threshold.

          •  Its not about development, its about operations (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SJLeonidas, Vladislaw

            and margin costs.  Margin costs are what kills the operation for a number of rockets, and is what is hurting Musk's vehicles as well.  No doubt Bill will take me to task somewhat, but I am 100% convinced that once we have high flight rates, we can bring the price to orbit down.  I look at Simberg's article, and I look at ideas like OTRAG, and I look at some of Jon Goff's essays, and I am 100% convinced that the sub-orbital rockets being worked on right now are what will provide a means to cheap access.  

            •  The factor from suborbital to orbital escape... (0+ / 0-)

              velocity is big.  They can talk all they want about suborbital.

              •  Read Jon's essay (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                he deals specifically with the issue you are talking about NellaSelim.  

                •  The mass fractions that result from (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  bringing so much dry mass back to Earth shall be very difficult to offset.

                  Also, the duty cycles for the new lighter weight thermal protection systems remain totally unknown.

                  Also, how much labor (= $$$) shall be needed to inspect and refurbish between flights?

                  = = =

                  I also tend to find Fermi's Paradox applicable to RLVs

                  If Jon Goff is correct why hasn't ANY world government just gone ahead and built an RLV?

                  Where are all those space planes?

                  Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

                  by Bill White on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:56:55 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Different Essay Bill (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    The essay I am referring to above isn't about Propellant depots, but rather about how high the energy difference from sub-orbital to orbit is really that huge.  

                    •  Its not only the energy difference (0+ / 0-)

                      The velocity difference (thermal stress among other things) requires an altogether different level of materials.

                      Also, if we (America) can do it so easily why haven't others done it already?

                      Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

                      by Bill White on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:25:45 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Absolutely true, (0+ / 0-)

                        although one could argue that the velocity difference is a result of energy input and energy output, but thats probably taking engineering discussions down a philosophical direction, which, although interesting, doesn't really get us any closer to large scale space development.  

                        And Jon does note the issue of things like TPS.  

                        •  I do not assert Jon is wrong (0+ / 0-)

                          I do assert we cannot yet know whether he is right.

                          Therefore, we cannot base policy on the conviction that he is right.

                          Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

                          by Bill White on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 05:28:07 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

            •  Heh! So is Jon Goff . . . (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SJLeonidas, NellaSelim, Vladislaw

              But that is essentially a faith based engineering judgment. ;-)

              For example, see this Jon Goff comment from NSF

              Quote from: simonbp on 12/04/2008 04:49 PM

                 Why bother piddling around with a LEO prop depot? Just build a real Earth-Moon L2 depot (with reusable lander), and direct inject all the prop/crews to it. Done properly, you could probably pull off Altair-class exploration (4 crew/2 weeks/global access) for a single Saturn V-class launch per mission (Orion+Tanker module).

              Because with an LEO propellant depot, you don't need a Saturn-V class launcher?  If the LEO depot is commercially owned and run, you can buy propellants on the open market.  While at first most of that will go to a mix of US and whichever foreign launchers can actually reach that inclination, that much demand would make closing the business case for commercial RLVs much easier.  It may be debatable if higher launch rates with EELV classed vehicles can beat the price per pound of Saturn-V class vehicles, but it isn't debatable at all for a good set of commercial RLVs. With the flight rate provided they should be able to drop the cost of orbital access by a large amount.  Getting to that tipping point where RLVs get the cost of access into the region where all sorts of other space ventures become feasible is my primary goal.   Not just seeing the occasional government employees visiting the Moon.


              Maybe a good set of commercial RLVs (to LEO) can be built and maybe not however

              NO ONE HAS DONE IT YET!

              (Sorry for shouting . . .)

              Therefore scrapping our heavy lift infrastructure in reliance on the intuitions of the Space Access Society scarcely seems prudent.

              And Jupiter 120 would loft TWICE the payload as EELV for essentially the same price? Why? The STS stack is a marvelous system, except for all that extra dry mass tied up in the orbiter.

              Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

              by Bill White on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:40:24 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Bill, I am not convinced (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                that Direct doesn't have a place, but I am also not convinced that it does have a place.  I'd love to see a real discussion about it, in something like the NASC.  Hell, I'd love to be a part of it (although I'd also like to be paid for it).

                •  Ferris, no one outside the Space Access Society (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  is convinced that honest-to-God RLVs are a sure thing regardless of how much money is thrown at them.

                  Might they be feasible? Sure.

                  Are they assured of being feasible? Nope. Not even close.

                  Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

                  by Bill White on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:00:35 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Actually, I'd argue that most are convinced (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    that eventually, it will be proven true.  Where the debate is still up for discussion is both the timeframe, and the technology.  I've talked to a former NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Directorate (IE Alan Stern's old job), who largely agrees on the major points, about RLVs, and margins, and the like.  Of course, the disconnect is on the time issue, and on whether there is the market for high flight rates.  

                    •  Sure, allow enough time and guaranteed markets (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      But how long has elapsed since Space Ship One won the X Prize and where is Space Ship Two?

                      IMHO, the public will not agree to spend tax dollars on technology development programs that could take decades to mature.

                      I also agree 200% on the market for high flight rate issue. In fact, I believe a commitment to colonize (go out there one way to stay) may be the only market driver powerful enough to create assured demand.

                      Space solar power? If someone invents a photocatalyst that can crack H2O on Earth, those power sats are obsolete just as cellular phones killed Iridium, the last supposed "killer app" that was to guarantee huge demand for launch services.

                      Propellant depots? Great idea! Unless the real intention is to guarantee work to support RLV development.

                      Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

                      by Bill White on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:23:36 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                        •  Also, we do do some long term (0+ / 0-)

                          technology developmental programs, although we aren't particularly good at it.  

                          As I said, though, the major disagreement over RLVs isn't whether its ultimately going to be proven true, but how good the technology is, and how long it'll take to actually develop it.  

                          •  That question "How long will it take" is what (0+ / 0-)

                            drives the propellant depot versus lunar ISRU propellant issue.

                            Will Earth-to-LEO launch costs fall far enough and fast enough to make it more economical to simply fly ALL of our fuel and oxidizer from Earth?


                            Will that curve of lowered launch costs stretch out sufficiently long so that perfecting lunar LOX extraction (Google "vacuum pyrolysis" for example) achieves larger cost reductions for a round trip to the lunar surface than propellant depots?

                            Thus, ISRU LOX versus propellant depots as set forth in my initial comment.

                            RLV advocates tend to be dismissive of electric propulsion (solar ion or nuclear ion) and of momentum exchange tethers and of reusable lunar landers and of ISRU for propulsive fuel with the implication being that we shouldn't bother with such things since Earth-to-LEO launch costs will fall below $100 per pound just as soon as we get RLVs.

                            Therefore, all transportation work except RLV work is a waste of time.

                            Years ago, Simberg mocked me for questioning his $50 per pound to LEO prediction for ELV launch costs. Simberg also believes there is credible basis to investigate whether Hillary Clinton was involved with the murder of Vince Foster and that it is not unreasonable to speculate that Barack Obama's birth certificate could be forged.

                            Not to mention global warming . . .

                            Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

                            by Bill White on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 05:38:51 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

            •  I think another stick in the spoke is Bigelow. (0+ / 0-)

              Getting to the ISS is a pain.

              If Bigelow provides a place for hangtime, I feel that could be a real driver for which launch company is going to bring passengers there the fastest at the best price.

        •  assembly line "bottle rockets" ? (0+ / 0-)

          I am for that.

        •  Think like a Russian and $1000 per pound is very (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:


          It seems that on launch day, some guy with a broom brushes desert sand off their Soyuz rocket. They stand it up and light the candle and watch it go.

          The R-7 booster used for Soyuz is essentially the same rocket first launched almost 50 years ago.

          Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

          by Bill White on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:15:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Here is the Jon Goff quote I was thinking of (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NellaSelim, Vladislaw


      Quote from: simonbp on 12/04/2008 04:49 PM

         Why bother piddling around with a LEO prop depot? Just build a real Earth-Moon L2 depot (with reusable lander), and direct inject all the prop/crews to it. Done properly, you could probably pull off Altair-class exploration (4 crew/2 weeks/global access) for a single Saturn V-class launch per mission (Orion+Tanker module).

      Because with an LEO propellant depot, you don't need a Saturn-V class launcher?  If the LEO depot is commercially owned and run, you can buy propellants on the open market.  While at first most of that will go to a mix of US and whichever foreign launchers can actually reach that inclination, that much demand would make closing the business case for commercial RLVs much easier.  It may be debatable if higher launch rates with EELV classed vehicles can beat the price per pound of Saturn-V class vehicles, but it isn't debatable at all for a good set of commercial RLVs.  With the flight rate provided they should be able to drop the cost of orbital access by a large amount.  Getting to that tipping point where RLVs get the cost of access into the region where all sorts of other space ventures become feasible is my primary goal.   Not just seeing the occasional government employees visiting the Moon.


      Jon assumes the creation of a good set of commercial RLVs. Maybe that would happen, maybe not.

      But if we scrap the heavy lift infrastructure needed to build things like the Jupiter 120 or the Jupiter 232 or Ares V and commercial RLVs do not materialize then we are well and truly screwed for another 30 or 40 years.

      Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

      by Bill White on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:35:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  new idea for channel (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Its called the "boring channel"
    A professor and or specialist sits in front of the camera and gives a lecture lasting 60 minutes.

    Thats it.
    It could be on anything:Liver Surgery, Modern Art History, Mayan bead-making.

    We could have one-off lectures or just a series of them from a professor.

    Sure we could sell some add space and perhaps throw these professors a nickel or two.

  •  clean up gels (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The gel debris clean up sounds promising, but the rest of this stuff ... meh ... we ain't doin' it. Check the economy for the details behind that thinking.

    •  As far as "we" aren't doing it . . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If you mean the taxpayers, you may have a point.

      However, during the last Great Depression Hollywood extravaganzas involving musicals that featured large casts dressed in tuxedos and gowns were very popular. A form of diversion.

      Use cheaper Russian and Chinese rockets and missions to the Moon become far less expensive. And people may very well support that as a diversion from the drudgery of their (our) daily lives.

      Even NASA's human spaceflight budget is about 3 days of the Iraq war.

      Health care crisis in a nutshell: Too much is expended on "managing" & too little on "caregiving"

      by Bill White on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 09:58:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I disagree Stranded, and if we aren't (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SJLeonidas, Dr Gonzo

      prepared to gamble, and to take the risk, then we are screwed.  

      And I know you tend to be of the opinion that we are screwed no matter what, and that we aren't in a position to do much of anything, but on that I disagree, and think that to take that position, is to declare the American Dream a failure, and, as my finance prof would say, go live on the beach.  And although I read diaries like this and worry (and I've seen something like that for close to 10 years), I ain't ready to give up.  We've got to invest in our infrastructure, and this is one area of infrastructure that can use development

  •  I have always favored particle beams to sweep (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    space clean.

    Interestingly enough, these beams would represent an interesting propulsion system for hauling objects into higher orbits and sweeping them into lower orbits.

    In general, I prefer robots to people in space.

    About the only thing that I see as useful in recent human flight in space has been the Hubble repair missions.

  •  CNN is a joke.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chacounne, Vladislaw

    Ever since the likes of Aaron Brown and Judy Woodruff were replaced by Anderson Cooper, Glen Beck, and Wolf Blitzer, you knew it was over.

    As much as I like FZ and CA and the international stuff, I feel my time watching CNN is over.

  •  Someone pointed out to me in an earlier blog... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that SpaceX was building a new launch facility at KSC.  One relevant fact, is that SpaceX did all of their testing and rocket evaluation at their own private facility that they built on Kwalejein Atoll before NASA/USAF would even consider letting them launch from KSC.

  •  Ironic (4+ / 0-)

    Just as it's becoming time for the human race to move out into the solar system, one the most popular channels for news actually slices and dices it's news department concerning such things.
    What next, we develop working fusion power and they turn into "CNN-Your Religious News 24 hours a day"?

    To have faith in the power of a human being is no crime. The crime is to have no faith in your fellow human being.

    by RElland on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:32:07 PM PST

  •  no mars trips (0+ / 0-)

    We need to fix the planet we're on, not thump our chest on some other planet which happens to be uninhabitable.

    In a democracy, everyone is a politician. ~ Ehren Watada

    by Lefty Mama on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:45:45 PM PST

  •  I'm not sorry to see Miles go, and I'm not sure (0+ / 0-)

    this move is necessarily bad.

    Miles always struck me as an ignorant, smug twit whose reporting has always been substandard, just like the rest of CNN's crew. The first time I saw him was during the Columbia disaster, and he made my skin crawl--it looked as if he were outright thrilled to have face-time in front of the camera, mugging every chance he could, rather than somber whilst reporting on a grave tragedy.

    I find reporting on science in the general media to be generally abysmal. The translation from the layman's terms scientists use is pretty clearly even more muddled and distorted by reporters who are interested in science but lack either the training or the intelligence to understand it. Consequently, what the vast majority of the public understands as 'science' isn't really what's happening in science, and I firmly believe this is a contributing factor to the reason why public understanding and support of scientific endeavours is so low.

    CNN won't be doing it, of course, but ideally they'd use this opportunity to revamp their science reporting and use people who actually know about and understand science to report on it.

    •  It's also the symbolism. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      CNN could have replaced Miles with a better or less demanding correspondent.  Instead, they have jettisoned their in-house staff, where most of the in-house knowledge of science resided.  

      As a budding scientist, I take this move by CNN as both insult and dereliction of its duty to its viewers.  Cable "News" Network, indeed.

      Dems in 2008: An embarassment of riches. Repubs in 2008: Embarassments.

      by Yamaneko2 on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 04:17:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Get used to this kind of disappointment (0+ / 0-)

        As a person who left science for a more mundane (and, to be honest, far less intellectually challenging) job for various reasons (chiefly the need to have a larger income last year to support my dying mother, but there are other reasons, including disaffection with the direction of the means by which scientific research in this country in conducted), I wish you luck.

        The public is so wretchedly undereducated, especially as regards science. We need a new Carl Sagan. I'd give anything to be as eloquent and to have as forceful and positive an impact on the public's view of science as he did. The news media sensationalize everything, science reporting included. It's just sad.

    •  I always saw it as it this is we are going to get (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      polar bear

      it is better tnen nothing. When there was such an obvious lack of reporting the rare shots of Miles talking space... well.. I just had to like it.

  •  Just wishing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    polar bear, Vladislaw

    Everyone would turn off their lights once a week.

    So we could look at the stars for awhile.

    Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others. ~Virginia Woolf

    by LaFeminista on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 02:15:00 PM PST

  •  I went for: (0+ / 0-)

    LEO 2 GEO space junk & satellite service vehicle. LEO Fuel Depot.

    Mostly because, depending on your architecture, the LEO Fuel depot can assist in lunar missions.

    The servicing vehicle has and is being considered:

    This one for example.

    Or here.

    Some very good work was performed on the Hubble capture and automated service that was on the table prior to the reinstatement of the last servicing mission.  That would have many facets that could be tied to a GEO servicing module.

    I remember some more specific examples, but I can't seem to find them yet.

    Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth. -Franklin D. Roosevelt

    by SJLeonidas on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 04:48:32 PM PST

    •  Those service vehicles are (0+ / 0-)

      robotic, I am advocating for a manned vehicle. One section for habitat, airlock, tools etc. and a second propulsion module. It would have a pair of robotic arms, like on the ISS. The Japanese just installed a robotic arm on theie science lab, the craft should have something similiar.

      The vehicle would resupply at the Fuel-service station and be docked at a habitat station.

      NASA can just rent space from Bigelow so they do not have to be involved in station design, construction, resupply and operation. Instead NASA would do a spiral design on a LEO2GEO manned vehicle that would evolve into a Lagrange point vehicle (LPV) once routine gas and go operations are established.

      Bigelow has already publically stated that GEO. the Earth Moon Lagrange Point, and Low Luner Orbit are targeted points in space he has plans for.

      If that is the case, then NASA should be building vehicles that move along with those points.

      The LPV would evolve into a Fly to Point Vehicle (FTP)

      This would be a nuclear powered craft, a trimodal power plant that can power thrusters, main engines and all electrical systems.

      It would not start out carrying a lander system. If we land and start building ANYWHERE, we are immediatly bogged down to that location.

      As long as we are only doing road trips, we avoid all costs associated with landing systems, relaunch from target body systems, base systems, etc.

      We can launch NanoSats, TacSats, MicroSats, on any trip we take to any point in space we fly to.

      If we do orbital missions we can drop landers and operate them from orbit without the time lag.

      There is a lot of science involved from any packages we launch or drop, plus all the senor devivces that ship will be carrying. This will gather valuable space "weather" data.

      We also get to do radiation reseach on vehicle designs.

      We can visit a lot of space, do a lot of science, expand our knowledge greatly before we ever have to get bogged down somewhere that sucks up the entire budget.

  •  will write cnn. unbelievable. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

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