T Nation

The Future of NASA Programs


"The committee members will meet with administration officials Friday and are likely to say that under current funding, there's no realistic way to get Americans back on the moon by 2020, which has been the goal since President George W. Bush signed off on the "Vision for Space Exploration" in 2004. The current NASA plan makes a moon landing in 2020 possible under the budget only if the agency de-orbits the international space station -- crashing it into the South Pacific -- in 2016."

I'd like to hear what anyone thinks NASA's goal should be in the next few decades. While it appears we don't have the funds to land on the moon or Mars, I think a better use or resources would be to use what we learned from living on the International Space Station to build a spacecraft capable of long duration space flight (to Mars and beyond) and faster transit times (use the new VASIMIR engine in development).

It looks like commercial launches of satellites can be taken over completely by companies like SpaceX, which is definitely a step in the right direction.

What do you all think?


Fuck the moon. Fuck space. Fuck that overblown, bureaucratic, blackhole called NASA. Talk about one government agency that is one giant leap backwards for mankind that sucks resources away from where they could be better utilized. Not only is it a waste of money but a waste of scientific research and knowledge. What the fuck are we going to do in space?

And don't give me that, "if it weren't for 'the space race' we wouldn't have ball-point pens, Tang, or Velcro" bullshit. Who cares?!

We should launch NASA into space so they can have a giant circle-jerk on Mars. They can sell video of it to the statist pervs so we can recoup the "losses".


YEAH! And while we're at it, we should shove all those theoretical physicists into the Hadron collider and turn it on! What good are all those theoretical physicists anyway? It's not like we ever got anything useful out of them either!

I vote that public money should only be spent on scientific research that has immediate and practical benefits for everyone. Not only has history clearly shown us that dumping large amounts of money into purely esoteric or theoretical research never produces any practical results, but it's also obvious to me that as a society there is no value in knowledge for knowledge's own sake.

Besides, NASA's budget must be, what, forty, fifty percent of the federal budget? What a waste.


Hey, privately funded physics is just fine. I agree that tax funded physicists should be in the market for a new job.


Hahahaha best post ever


lol, in all seriousness though, it's only 17 or 18 billion dollars a year.


Why go to the moon anyway? There's not shit up there.


That's outrageous! One tenth of every penny of every dollar I pay into taxes goes into funding NASA! That must mean that the average American is paying enough money in taxes to fund NASA each year to buy a value meal at McDonalds! When will this tyranny of esoteric scientific exploration stop?


I agree. Their idea was that we could use the experience gained there to launch a mission to Mars to establish a base. I think this will eventually happen regardless (and probably should) in the future. But with our current funds, it's probably not a good idea. China will most likely beat us to it.

The new plan that is being discussed would involve taking a spacecraft with a small crew and finding a nearby asteroid to study. They would obtain orbit around the asteroid and possibly land on it. I think that's way cooler than going back to the moon.


And if anyone is interested in what the Commercial sector is doing as far as space flight, check out the video below. Elon Musk, one of the men responsible for Pay Pal, created this company to launch satellites into orbit and crews to the ISS.


The true space revolution will happen with the construction of the first space elevators. I cannot wait.


Maybe, but one issue that I don't think they solved yet is how they would actually assemble it (provided the materials are strong enough).


Ok, you space cadets...no one has figured out how to combat the effects of lack of gravity on the human body. I mean how many Iron Woody Bands would someone have to use in order to keep his body from completely atrophying?

How long can a human live in space before his bones become so brittle that they will snap at the slightest increase in gravity -- or even acceleration and deceleration of moving vehicles?

Have fun in living in your tiny space bubbles.



Well, there are two ways:

1) Resistance exercise

-Recently there was a squat/deadlift type machine installed on the ISS. It uses pistons. This helps alleviate the loss that you are talking about, but not completely.

2) Centrigul Force generated by spinning the ship.

-This is the usual solution to this problem (and the better solution). Just have the spaceship spin at a good rate, and the passengers can walk on the inside surface. Gravity can be adjusted by the spin rate.




In case anyone doesn't know the background about the space elevator:


There is the most hilarious bit of physics completely lost on you, but since BackInAction else has already pointed it out I won't say it. (Hint: gravitational and inertial mass (read acceleration) are the same thing!).


That is actually wrong.

It is full of Helium3 which could be used to run fusion reactors.

If we ever should get Helium fusion reactors it would actually make sense to fly to the moon right now.


That's a really good point! I believe that was one of the main drivers for the new engine they are designing for the Ares I and Orion. They wanted an engine they could refuel from mining done on the moon. Shame the Ares I is a piece of crap though plagued with problems.


The future of NASA is dim. We're eventually going to make some BIG budget cuts somewhere.