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Let's not tell the right wing crazies that President Obama is following the advice of Daily Kos Science Editor, and regular presenter of This Week In Science, our very own DarkSyde. In an almost prescient post on Sun Dec 14, 2008 at 01:00 PM CST, before President-elect Obama was in office, DarkSyde said this:

The same Ares super rocket, or something like it, intended to put humans back on the moon and eventually on Mars has the power to loft 50,000 kilos of payload beyond the earth-moon system. A booster of that magnitude could put much of the ISS up in a single launch. It could put the ATLAS telescope, with its enormous 8 meter primary mirror that makes Hubble look like a pair of binoculars, in high earth orbit and have enough capacity left over to still put every major deep space unmanned mission launched in the last ten years beyond low earth orbit in one glorious shot. Regardless if the payload is deep space probes or crew capsules bound for the moon and beyond, we need Ares.
DarkSyde was talking about NASA's plans for a heavy lift rocket to service exploratory missions beyond earth orbit.

I'll be darned if President Obama hasn't done exactly that.

Follow me out into the tall grass if you would like to review the coverage of this on DailyKos and talk about it some more.

The coverage of this on Daily Kos has been very good. I tip my hat and thank Rimjob as well as newpapyrus and RenderQT and Troubador.

Since President Obama took over, NASA, as described in the diaries of those mentioned above, the President has abandoned, as quickly as possible, the Bush era Constellation Moon Base program to concentrate on a more versatile heavy lift rocket and a more versatile crew vehicle.

The comeuppance of Daiy Kos' highly accurate coverage or, at least, the happenstance, is that the Obama Administration has placed the United States in position to take control of the next frontier in space explorations, heavy lift beyond Earth orbit. Once we have an assembly line for the heavy lift capacity of the Ares V rocket, and the capacity to produce multipurpose-high capacity Orion  crew capsules, the Solar System is, potentially, an American Lake. It i hard to tell what the consequences of this might be, but it was pretty hard in 1803 to judge how valuable the Louisiana Purchase was to the United States. Sometimes American Presidents accomplish extraordinary and unexpectre3d triumphs.  

Of course, the stepping stone to access to the Solar system is low Earth orbit. President Obama hopes to turn low Earth orbit over to private companies, that Kenyan socialist. It actually makes sense, though. Consider this most excellent rant by Neil deGrasse Tyson:
President Obama is preparing to launch American explorers beyond low Earth orbit. How much would you pay for the Universe?

Originally posted to Astro Kos on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 08:00 PM PST.

Also republished by SciTech and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

    •  That should read, "the only thing that".... (6+ / 0-)


    •  More precisely, translating the overwhemling will (6+ / 0-)

      that already exists among scientists, engineers and the general public into a cohesive political force that can advance an agenda in government.  We've made significant strides in doing that since the new public/private partnership system is coming into its own.

      Once that has a firm foundation has been laid, there main extensive financial, economic, and technological challenges.  Price must be brought down drastically.  Full and Reusability must be achieved.  Rocket launch rates must drastically increase and show superb and growing reliability at lower prices.  Larger rockets capable of launching the Mon and then Mars must be developed.  Spaceraft capable of ferring people between the Moon and Mars must be developed.  The Cargo and crew capsules used in LEO must evolve into planetary landers, and they be cable of landing on legs back on Earth, safe and Sound, whetherh LEO, the Moon, or Mars, or beyond.  But that we see the path ahead of us is awe-sinspiring.

      In Roviet Union, money spends YOU!

      by Troubadour on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 10:52:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great news. I support NASA, space exploration, (7+ / 0-)

    the NSF and all things science and education.

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 09:32:47 PM PST

  •  What are you talking about? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    SLS is certainly not more versatile (especially for the price tag) than the Ares I and V system. And the crew vehicle is the same.  And both were forced on the Administration by the bipartisan standbys of the legacy architecture.  It has not been a happy road for any party involved.

  •  I love the space coverage here at DailyKos. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radarlady, Expat Okie, ribofunk

    It's one of the gems here.  I have to disagree with the following, though:

    Once we have an assembly line for the heavy lift capacity of the Ares V rocket, and the capacity to produce multipurpose-high capacity Orion  crew capsules, the Solar System is, potentially, an American Lake.
    Imo, the only way we are going to turn the solar system akin to something like our backyard is if we seriously explore the possibility of building a Lofstrom Launch Loop or a space elevator(once the materials are available, in this case).

    As we unleash the potential of massive amounts of renewable energy, concepts like a launch loop become technically and environmentally feasible.  And it would be far more efficient and cheaper than using outdated combustion techniques to haul stuff into space.

    I'd love to see a solar powered launch loop in my lifetime.  If NASA doesn't get it done, I'm sure that some enterprising other nation, or conglomerate of nations, will.

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 04:39:26 AM PST

    •  I don't buy this "American Lake" notion (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Does anyone really think the Chinese & the Russians & the Europeans  & even the Indians are going to stand there & do nothing in the meantime?

      Space is the new ocean, as JFK said, & every nation with the will & the wherewithall will sail on it. It would be nice if when we got to the other shore we weren't greeted with a "trespassers will be shot" sign in Mandarin.

      It's not a "fiscal cliff," it's a Fiscal Bluff--so why don't we call them on it?

      by Uncle Cosmo on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:29:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, I also think that it is going to become a (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        much more international game up there.

        But the nation or group of nations that first builds something like a Lofstrom Loop or a space elevator will definitely have a leg up when it comes to space exploration.

        "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

        by Lawrence on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:34:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It'll be a long time before (0+ / 0-)

          you see something like a Loop or elevator - we are talking decades easily.  

          And frankly, we don't need another round of picking a specific vehicle, and going with it.  We need to build a fleet of different vehicles, doing different things to lower costs.

          •  You're probably right about that. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            We don't even have the required materials for a space elevator yet.  The Japanese are still working on one, though.

            Tbh, if we can't come up with an additional 10 billion for building a smaller launch loop, then we're in a pretty sorry state of affairs.  That's a mere fraction of what we spend in just one year on defense and the pay-off with a launch loop has the potential to be tremendous.  The costs with a working launch loop could be a mere 1/10th of what the cargo costs are with rockets.  That right there is a game changer and would allow us to cheaply and quickly assemble space stations and spacecraft in space.  I doubt that we'll see that kind of game change with rockets.

            Using rockets to inelegantly lug payloads up into space seems really antiquated given our rapid technological advances.  

            "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

            by Lawrence on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:41:24 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Rockets aren't that bad (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              First, let me point out something you said that needs to be well understood

              The costs with a working launch loop could be a mere 1/10th of what the cargo costs are with rockets.
              We have had 4 attempts of "could be" to lower launch costs using technological solutions.
              We tried it with Reusable systems (Shuttle) - result - a system that was very expensive
              We tried air-breathers (National AeroSpace Plane) - result - cancelled
              We tried Single-Stage-To-Orbit Reusable Launch Vehicles (SSTO RLV) - cancelled
              We had the Space Launch Initiative - Cancelled

              (I could also bring in Constellation, but that didn't go after cheap access)

              Now, lets compare it to 3 systems that have moved the dial towards cheap access - EELV, COTS, and X Prize.  All 3 of those programs did a lot to actually develop systems and hardware that was actually operating (or does or did operate) that moved us towards cheaper space access.  

              In short - we shouldn't pick a technology, and then bet that it will solve our cheap access problem.  We need go after a suite of cheap access options, in a way that allows us to always be pushing for improving cheap access.  

              •  Although I do understand where you're (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                coming from, I disagree on us not picking specific technologies.  Sometimes it makes sense, as can be seen in the cases of solar and wind power.

                If forward-thinking countries like Germany, Denmark, and Spain hadn't picked those specific technologies, then the economies of scale and technological advances would not have taken place that make solar and wind affordable nowadays.

                I'm not saying that we should put all our eggs in a launch loop basket, just that it needs to be one of the eggs.

                All the programs that you have listed are combustion-based space lugging programs, after all, so - while differences exist - they're not that much different from each other in a greater context, ie. there is probably a fairly solid floor on how low costs could go with them due to the law of gravity and the cost of fuels.

                "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

                by Lawrence on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 08:49:18 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Problems (0+ / 0-)

                  So, here the thing
                  1.  There is no mass market (and therefore no real economy of scale) YET for something like a launch loop or space elevator.  That has not been true of wind or solar

                  2.  There is investing in the technology needed for something like a space elevator, or a launch loop, vs actually attempting to build one.  I have no problem with the former.  My problem is with the later.  And this is why I say don't pick a technology.  

                  The danger is thinking "oh, if we just use technology X, we'll have cheap access" or alternatively "X is the magic bullet of cheap access"

                  Cheap access doesn't come because of a magic bullet - it comes by having the right ecosystem for a bunch of things so multiple avenues come about


                  there is probably a fairly solid floor on how low costs could go with them due to the law of gravity and the cost of fuels.
                  You have to deal with the law of gravity regardless.  And the other thing is fuel (actually propellant) is NOT a large fraction of the price of going to space - its less than 1%
                  The reason for the high price lies elsewhere.  
      •  It shouldn't be an American lake (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        We will all be better off if there is healthy  competition in the exploration and settlement of the solar system.  I'm not being all liberal in saying this; it really is true.

        The sleep of reason brings forth monsters. --Goya

        by MadScientist on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:09:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Geographically (0+ / 0-)

          Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam have pretty advantageous positions:  long runs of shallow water near the equator in the South China Sea, the Java Sea, and the Banda Sea.

          We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

          by bmcphail on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 04:04:39 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  NASA's budget was cut for 2012 (8+ / 0-)

    About 6%.

    Not a good sign. From current levels it's projected flat through 2015, meaning a decrease in real terms.

    In real terms, the current budget is about half of what it was at the height of the Apollo program.

    Working space systems have been scrapped in favor of pie-in-the-sky stuff only on drawing boards. It's like real engineering has been replaced with sci-fi.

    The Mars program and other planetary programs have been slashed and after Curiosity things are looking pretty bleak.

    These aren't the hallmarks of a nation committed to space exploration. Private enterprise will never do it because there is no profit in it, absent a huge influx of public money and political will.

    •  Could not agree more (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      At the very least, this administration has put NASA at the bottom of the "C" priority list and experience suggests "C" priorities never happen.   "Private Enterprise" is simply a way to get rid of a problem.  It's not exactly something the Republicans dare complain about.

      •  No, thats not fair (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bmcphail, northcountry21st

        This administration has tried to do some of the heavy lifting to reform NASA to be a more effective agency.  Programs like Commercial Crew, and their technology programs, had potential to change our relation to space.  

        The problem is that Congress (or at least members of Congress) haven't wanted to change that relation (for a variety of reasons).  

        Obama asked for a budget increase in 2011, but it was tied to reforms, that Congress really did not want to entertain (and BTW, the Congress' final budget passed was less than what Obama asked for)  

        Obama then asked for the budget to remain constant in 2012, but it was tied to sustaining some of the reforms he got.  Congress said no again, (and cut the budget).

      •  On the other hand, it's a "put up or shut up" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        challenge to "free enterprise" ideology--and there was a good deal of bitching and moaning from Space Coast Republicans as the shutdown of the space shuttle translated into job losses, but of course it was their determination to destroy "big government" that brought about the current state of affairs. Hopefully someday (when China has a moon base?) we'll be able to point to this as evidence of why we need "big government" to do big things.

        "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

        by Alice in Florida on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:42:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually, its not about (0+ / 0-)

          destroying big government - its about destroying anything associated with Obama.  

          What President Obama has been trying to do is reform NASA, and the Space Industry, so that it doesn't allow for nearly as much cost overruns, and schedule delays.  

          But there are a number of people in Congress aren't in agreement (for a variety of things)

  •  We are an expression of the universe (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miss Jones

    Evolving, growing aware and beginning to question our origin, our meaning and our possible future. It's my belief that it's absurd and counterproductive to put a price tag on that. If we stagnate and don't pursue that which is clearly our purpose of being, the universe will self correct and rid itself of the useless component. Never doubt it.

    "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

    by MargaretPOA on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:27:34 AM PST

    Recommended by:
    Miss Jones

    sorry, but SLS (or what you call Ares V) is a waste of money, is a distraction for spaceflight and space development, and is a detriment for anyone who supports space settlement.

    The programs that we should be celebrating is Commercial Crew (with vehicles like Atlas V, CST-100, Dragon, DreamChaser, and Falcon 9), and the work on Technology development, for things like in Cryogenic Propellant Storage and Transfer (for things like fuel depots).

    Its not about building rockets - its about building an industry.

  •  It's sad that we have gone.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miggles, Miss Jones, ribofunk

    From putting a man on the moon, to circling the Earth in Low Earth Orbit for the last 41 years, doing HVAC repairs on the ISS...

    While the robotic missions to Mars are technological feats and have been quite successful with Spirit & Opportunity going far beyond the expected lifespan, (even with that pesky dragging wheel) obtaining much information. It is difficult to get excited about a robot driving a few kilometers on Mars in its entire extended lifespan....

    It's about time that we get our minds out of Low Earth Orbit and extend to "Where No Man Has Gone Before..."
    (Borrowing a phrase from Star Trek...)

    We need to advance our nations thinking past where the folks that believe man walked the Earth with dinosaurs, and the earth is only 5 or, 6,000 years old, will allow us to go...


    My only concern with the Commercialization of Low Earth Orbit is that there will be so much space junk in orbit that it will inhibit our ability to safely launch missions beyond...

    "Do you realize the responsibility I carry? I'm the only person standing between Richard Nixon and the White House." ~John F. Kennedy~

    by Oldestsonofasailor on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:39:35 AM PST

  •  Clock is ticking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (5+ / 0-)

    Stephen Hawking,  former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and a pretty smart guy, says we (humans) have 200 years to get off the planet or here we will perish.  I'm personally thinking he's a mite optimistic; given the coming resource wars on the horizon, if we don't get off this rock in 50 years we'll be stuck in this bywater for good.

    I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever. ~Thomas Jefferson

    by bobdevo on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:41:33 AM PST

  •  The entire military budget for the next 50 years (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    profewalt, Miss Jones

    That should be more than enough to what we want many times over.

    Take back the House in 2014!!!!!!!!!!!! (50 state strategy needed)

    by mungley on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:43:29 AM PST

  •  What is missing is vision and a dialogue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miss Jones

    about visions. We see the tbaggers and we hear their mission: take us back where we were over a hundred years ago! But where is our vision and what is our mission to take us to that vision. NASA may be one part of that vision, but it has to be a reasonable part. MY vision says that we have to dismantle our MIC and do it quick before we wind up dead. It doesn't help us in the long term. And it takes up space and air from the State department. AND we need to dismantle our spying program upon us. That is paying for people who look at our data and try to catch us at something subversive. In truth, the "sting" operations often CREATE more subversion than is actually there.

    My vision has us acknowledging that we are all connected. We cannot have worker's right here and have some Bangladeshi worker have to burn to death for our greed. We have to formulate our vision and then promulgate it. And forming a collective vision is damn hard. We hate hard work. We cannot even create a vision here on DKos. But if we don't get one somewhere and work on educating people about it we are gonna stay stuck. I think Neil's vision about his area of expertise is stunning and gorgeous. But NASA has worked to create a PR machine to make sure that little boys and girls are dreaming about space. We need to do the same for a holistic vision.

    American Television is a vast sea of stupid. -xxdr zombiexx

    by glitterscale on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:45:28 AM PST

  •  Can't get excited about Ares V, without a mission (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FerrisValyn, northcountry21st

    for it that makes some sense. I grew up during "The Space Age (Mercury to Apollo) and I am quite easily thrilled by rocket ships. But I'm also aware of the fact that the entire effort to put a man on the Moon was a subsidiary to Cold War military competition.

    I really can't get behind a manned mission to Mars at this point. We need to cut our carbon emission by 5% per year for at least a decade, and make one-child-per-family a religious conviction in every culture on Earth. Why search for life elsewhere when we're forcing 30 to 70 percent of species here on earth into extinction?

    The only immediate purpose I can see for a heavy lifter like Ares is to boost orbital craft that are big enough to be crewed, armed, shielded and fueled well enough to fight battles in space.

    A development program serves as a signal to other would-be imperialist powers that starting a new "space race" with us is a bad idea. If so, a "research" budget for heavy lifters is appropriate.

    Unless NASA has a plan to deploy enormous geosynchronous sails to shade the Greenland ice sheet, or a practical scheme to gather solar energy in orbit and deliver it to Earth, then research is all I'm willing to support.

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 08:36:02 AM PST

  •  wow! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    profewalt, LeftOfYou, Miss Jones

    Love Neil DeGrasse Tyson to begin with, but this video is really special.  Thanks for sharing it.

    The hardest part of my thirties was realizing that all the beautiful dreams of space flight that I had as an adolescent and young man weren't going to be realized in my lifetime.  I was expecting to vacation on Mars by now.  Oh well, thanks again for the post.

    Reporting from Tea Bagger occupied America

    by DrJohnB on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 09:19:57 AM PST

  •  The "nationalist" mindset needs to go away. (0+ / 0-)

    "An American lake?"  Please....

    The need for a heavy-lift mechanism is there---but the cost is unbelievably out of reach.

    The machines needed to move bodies and material from Earth to the far reaches of the solar system are going to be much too big to get off the ground; they'll need to be built "up there."   moving major components to the moon for lunar-surface assembly adds a ridiculous "middleman" to the process.  LEO is a manufacturing disaster waiting to happen.  A heavy-lifter like Ares would be able to move major subassemblies from the ground to HEO, and that would be a best-case location for building a mobile cross-concept laboratory --- which is what future exploration vehicles will need to be --- and that's exactly where an international/global mindset can exhibit the determination and will to complete the job.  What one country is going to be insane enough to try and go toe-to-toe with the rest of the planet (well, other than the North Koreans, but do we really need to go there?)

    Now--- can we figure out how to get an Ares vehicle back to Earth without it burning up on re-entry?  That's a lot of cash-cow for a one-time bonfire in the sky....

    I count even the single grain of sand to be a higher life-form than the likes of Sarah Palin and her odious ilk.

    by Liberal Panzer on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 01:53:17 PM PST

  •  Wonderful to hear this news. I always knew (0+ / 0-)

    DarkSyde was brilliant.

    Yes, explore the universe! It's very important to use a portion of our money to do that.

    "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

    by Gorette on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 03:08:05 PM PST

  •  I'm hoping for a working Polywell reactor (0+ / 0-)

    Nothing like a fusion drive to go places!

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 03:29:17 PM PST

  •  let's start with progressive ideas (0+ / 0-)
    • taxation (or at least eliminate corporate no-tax welfare state
    • return of Glass-Steagall
    • proper punishment of banker criminality
    • fairness doctrine in media

    It's all very fun to talk space and stuff, but let's be realistic about "the greatness of space" shall we?

    Billions of $ of NASA jobs go where exactly? Right - to people who are already in demand and are able to find jobs already - in the economy we have.

    All the scientific advances that people say are so great for America (they are, but how do they stack up against growing poverty and homelessness?) don't help the very people left jobless after the great banker-pillaging of the last 5 years.

    The battle cries for space exploration are a little like the cure-cancer drives - great for "science", but where the fuck are these people sucking in all the cancer research money when Jane or Joe Public end up on the street because of their shitty health insurance that scrapes the financial flesh from their bones before cutting them off or when their family finances can no longer survive the deductibles?

    Reality-based me says "fix the country we have BEFORE - or at the same time as - reaching to space".

    These hi-tech programs are grrrrreat for those already on top of the heap. Spare a thought for those at or near the bottom.

    Why is it that heavy-lift rockets are easier accomplish than putting some fucking bankers in jail???. I'm looking out for the people I know who are struggling to live  while Blankfein, Dimon and their mates live the high-life and wear presidential cufflinks.

    Space can wait

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