NASA, White House

Flexible paths, flexible deadlines?

A couple of exploration policy items from Space News: NASA administrator Charles Bolden told the publication that the so-called “flexible path” option of the Augustine report is “attractive to everybody”. That option defers a human return to the lunar surface in favor of missions to lunar orbit, Lagrange points, and near Earth asteroids in the near term, gradually building up experience for eventual human missions to Mars. “If you were to follow a Flexible Path, it affords you the opportunity to do things in one- and two-year centers that would keep the American public interested and keep things inspired,” Bolden told Space News, although he stopped short of formally endorsing the option.

Meanwhile, in another article about the budget, sources “close to the administration” claim that a decision on choosing the flexible path or another option isn’t expected before Christmas. This would seem to contradict Sen. Bill Nelson, who claimed earlier this week that the president would make a decision around Thanksgiving. Waiting until Christmas would also seem to complicate the development of the proposed FY2011 budget, due out in early February—especially if that decision also includes how much additional money, if any, to include for NASA.

211 comments to Flexible paths, flexible deadlines?

  • The Flexible path would be boring to almost everyone and would be a huge waste of tax payer dollars. We need a lunar settlement program followed by a Mars settlement program.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Actually a melding of lunar and “look but don’t touch” would be really attractive.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ November 6th, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    The Flexible path would be boring to almost everyone and would be a huge waste of tax payer dollars. We need a lunar settlement program followed by a Mars settlement program…

    the last sentence would generate no support among the American people facing two trillion dollar deficits.

    The first one is just wrong. It would be a prudent use of taxpayer dollars…to develop the VASIMER drive (spell), to gain some experience in reusable deep space vehicles (granted a new path has to come)…to learn how to do autonomous deep space missions (ie ones without billions and billions of people at JSC0…all those things would be useful.

    I dont think you understand either the depth of the problems facing The Republic or the lack of care on the part of the American people about human spaceflight.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “Actually a melding of lunar and “look but don’t touch” would be really attractive.”

    Two points:

    1) Per page 43 in the final report of the Augustine Committee, the Flexible Path options include lunar surface sorties in years 9 and 10 and an extend lunar surface mission in year 11. If you bothered to actually read and comprehend the relevant source, you’d realize that lunar surface objectives are already “melded” in the Flexible Path options.

    2) Even if the Flexible Path options had no lunar objectives, astronauts would still be putting boots on the ground of multiple near-Earth asteroids, the moons of Mars, and eventually Mars. To describe these options as “don’t touch” is a blatant lie or an enormously ignorant statement.

    If you can’t read sources, comprehend them and get your facts straight, then don’t bother posting here. It’s a waste of other posters’ time to correct your false statements.

    Lawdy…

  • Major Tom

    “We need a lunar settlement program followed by a Mars settlement program.”

    Technically, and probably scientifically, impossible. After a couple years, the human body exceeds safe radiation doses in any solar system environment outside the Van Allen Belts, inducing cancer or worse and greatly shortening lifespans. Forget reproduction. We’ll visit for a year or two (whether under the Flexible Path options or something else) but homo sapiens will almost certainly never live out lifetimes or reproduce in the lunar or Martian environments.

    Maybe someday, if we tinker with our genes enough or artificially augment our bodies or minds enough, our descendents will be able to settle some part of the solar system. But they most likely will no longer belong to our species.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “Waiting until Christmas would also seem to complicate the development of the proposed FY2011 budget…”

    Not necessarily. Final agency appeals to OMB passback are due around that time, with final POTUS decisions shortly thereafter. OMB doesn’t start locking the budget database until after New Year’s. If Administrator Bolden is to meet with the President shortly before X-mas, as reported, there will still be an opportunity for that meeting to influence final budget decisions. It’s much harder to change numbers after passback around Thanksgiving, but it’s possible.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    The most interesting part of the Space News article quoting Bolden was that Bolden took note of the passage from the final Augustine Committee report that suggested replacing an all-government lunar lander (like Altair) with a partially commercial solution, based on the progress made in the Northrup Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge under NASA’s Centennial Challenges Program:

    “‘They [technology inducement prize competitions] spark innovation and help foster the creation of new businesses and partnerships,’ he said. ‘For a relatively small amount of money, the U.S. government sees great return. The Augustine committee recognized the potential of these competitions by noting the possibility of using lander technology created by the Lunar Lander Challenge in the Flexible Path option.’

    Bolden was referring to a section of the Augustine panel’s report that discusses a ‘hybrid’ lander featured in all three variants of the Flexible Path option. The hybrid lander would replace the Altair Lunar Lander the agency has been working on since 2005. The report suggests NASA could develop the lunar lander’s ascent stage, while ‘the descent stage is assumed to be commercially developed, building on the growing industrial capability pursuing NASA’s Lunar Lander Challenge and the Google Lunar X-Prize,’ the report states.”

    It was nice that the Augustine Committee took note of the impressive return from the $1-2 million in taxpayer investment in that prize and even nicer that the Administrator has taken notice. Puts lie to the argument that a base has to be established on the Moon (or elsewhere) before NASA can commercially procure hardware and/or services.

    FWIW…

  • @ Robert G. Oler

    We’re certainly not going to significantly reduce the deficit by not giving NASA the extra $3 billion that it needs, money that will actually create wealth in the long run for the US economy. The gross US government debt is over $10 trillion dollars. If we didn’t give NASA that $3 billion annually, we could reduce the national debt by nearly 3% in about a century and 6% in 200 years. Wow! That of course assumes that the national debt doesn’t continue to increase over the next two centuries:-)

    If we seriously want to reduce the debt, how about ending the silly adventure in Iraq ($100 billion a year). Also if we ended our dependence on foreign oil, we’d no longer have to spend $30 to $80 billion a year protecting the Persian Gulf area. If we ran our– government– health care systems (medicare, medicaid, Federal workers, VA hospitals, etc.) as efficiently as they do in Singapore (rated 6th in the world in the quality of its health care while the US is ranked 37th) we could cut our annual government health care spending in half saving $400 billion annually while also providing every American with quality and affordable health care.

    But don’t cut something that actually improves increases our national wealth!

  • @ Major Tom

    All you need to protect yourself from radiation on the Moon and Mars is mass shielding. And there’s plenty regolith on the surface of the Moon and Mars to do just that.

  • NASA Fan

    @ Marcel: The Flexible path would be boring to almost everyone and would be a huge waste of tax payer dollars. We need a lunar settlement program followed by a Mars settlement program.

    Since, as you infer, NASA is about ‘entertaining’ the American public, how about a reality based TV Show the follows the exploits of those competing for the Commercial-Altair X prize challenge. The Producers of this show, at the Obama WH, could populate the teams with a mixture of HOT celebrities, reelection seeking politicians, the unemployed of our country, a Nannie or two, oh and some boring engineering types. Now that would NOT be boring.!

    Bolden gave that interview to Space News to begin the process of preparing NASA/Aerospace Community for Flexible Path. Folks within NASA are beginning to put the pieces of this together and accepting reality: no more Moon base/landing for the foreseeable future.

  • red

    Major Tom: “After a couple years, the human body exceeds safe radiation doses in any solar system environment outside the Van Allen Belts … homo sapiens will almost certainly never live out lifetimes or reproduce in the lunar or Martian environments.”

    Marcel F. Williams: “All you need to protect yourself from radiation on the Moon and Mars is mass shielding. And there’s plenty regolith on the surface of the Moon and Mars to do just that.”

    Setting aside other issues (low gravity environment, making it economical, etc), is regolith shielding enough to solve this issue?

    Can a reasonable life be had under the regolith, with a year or 2 total on the surface? Is that year or 2 doubled or more if on a planetary surface (from shielding offered by the ground and, depending on location, surrounding terrain)? Can the year or 2 be broken down in work-shift sized increments, and spread out over a good chunk of a career? Would many workers under the regolith be satisfied with telepresence (with, let’s assume, year 2050 or 2100 virtual reality quality) through machines working on the surface?

    Ben Bova’s “Welcome to Moonbase” depicted a rather large habitat under the lunar regolith (allowing wide-open spaces, flying, etc). Would such large habitats be feasible in an effort to make sub-regolith living different from living in a cramped submarine? Will we find caves, and if so, will they really make large sub-regolith habitats easier to build? Will habitats be built in locations like canyon walls in such a way as to offer views of the surface with minimal radiation exposure?

    What about habitats in the anticipated oceans of icy moons, where you could go “outside” (in the ocean) without the radiation hazard (if you can get past the radiation hazard reaching the moon)?

    As far as reproduction is concerned, would a space culture facing radiation hazards adjust by storing reproductive genetic material in sub-regolith libraries before allowing the potential future parent significant time on the surface?

    Will we get improved radiation/cancer therapies?

    It seems like this one could be solved with major attitude and cultural changes, but it’s not as simple as just bulldozing some regolith if you want a real settlement and not just a base.

  • MrEarl

    Fundamentally what is at stake here the purpose of or our human spaceflight program.

    To me, Flexible Path is little more than stunts that keep the contractors happy along with the Senators from their states with no real scientific, exploitative or cultural value. Bread and circuses.

    What human spaceflight is really for is to propagate humanity into the solar system. What has stopped us in the past are three things speed/distance, radiation and lack of gravity. We are now close to finding answers for two of those problems.

    For Speed/ Distance Mr. Oler rightly pointed out the VASIMER engine. It recently passed it’s atmospheric trials and is ready for testing on the space station. This engine can cut travel time to Mars from months to weeks. With this engine exploration of the solar system becomes feasible. http://www.adastrarocket.com/VASIMR.html

    Research into new materials and electro-magnetic properties has brought us close to solutions for the problem with radiation/cosmic rays.

    As for the third problem, gravity or lack there of, centrifugal force has been know for a long time to be a good way to counteract that.

    It’s exploration that will push our technology, manufacturing and understanding past where we all now to our nation and the world as a whole. Ofcource there is the realities that we all have to live with like funding and political and cultural support. In my opinion Flexible Path is just an additional 3 billion dollars wasted. I would rather spend the current budget outlines on maturing the VASIMER, countering radiation, and other technologies that will pave the way to propagating humanity into the solar system that wasting the current budget and an additional $3 billion on stunts.

  • Major Tom said “Maybe someday, if we tinker with our genes enough or artificially augment our bodies or minds enough, our descendents will be able to settle some part of the solar system. But they most likely will no longer belong to our species.”

    Or, alternatively, maybe there will be a fairly simple treatment for radiation which leaves us quite human. This looks like a promising start:

    http://ajp.amjpathol.org/cgi/content/full/173/4/1100

    “We show here that soft tissues in thrombospondin-1-null mice are remarkably resistant to radiation injury. Twelve hours after 25-Gy hindlimb irradiation, thrombospondin-1-null mice showed significantly less cell death in both muscle and bone marrow. Two months after irradiation, skin and muscle units in null mice showed minimal histological evidence of radiation injury and near full retention of mitochondrial function. “

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams

    Several points.

    First there is no data that says the 3 billion extra dollars are “well spent” or that they would result in additional wealth for the society or do anything other then what the 9 billion dollars has done for Ares 1…keep government and industry employees involved doing well nothing that creates wealth or whatever you are claiming it will.

    Second it waste money and efforts that should be directed toward something that can actually do what you are claiming it would do. This is where the “save our jobs” campaigns fall down. Ares took money from taxpayers to keep those jobs working. Musk took his own money and created taxpayers…so in instance what you have had is people like Musk employees subsidizing their own competition…and they are the private enterprise effort.

    Three billion badly spent is three billion badly spent when it could be well spent, or at least spent not at all. (A lesson in nickles and dimes I am trying to teach the 10 year olds in the family).

    Finally as for Iraq etc. If one cannot make an agency like NASA work at the highest efficiencies possible enhancing not dragging the free enterprise system, it is ridiculous to think that vastly more complicated systems like health care can be bent in that direction…there is probably someone there saying this or that is “only 3 billion dollars”.

    As for the wars…sorry you are talking to the wrong person. I was opposed to going to both of them, I think Bush was an idiot (yeah bush bashing) to do it…but once one makes a mess one has to clean it up…although I am coming to the point personally where I am ready to just walk away from Afland and as Ronaldus the Great put it “deploy back to the ships”

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl flexible path is all about making technologies like VASIMER work and be useful

    Robert G. Oler

  • Mark R. Whittington

    “If you can’t read sources, comprehend them and get your facts straight, then don’t bother posting here. It’s a waste of other posters’ time to correct your false statements.”

    “Boots on the ground” on an asteroid? That should be interesting, considering the shallow gravity well. I also don’t find the idea of a return to the Moon at about 2030 or later to be very compelling. A meld of “look but don’t touch” and return to the Moon would have the first lunar landing by humans much earlier.

    It’s also very rich to receive insults and disinformation from a person who is too much of a coward to post under his or her own name. If “Major Tom” expects to be taken seriously, then he or she should reveal who he or she is. Otherwise he or she is just another anonymous troll artist who is wasting our time.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    “To me, Flexible Path is little more than stunts that keep the contractors happy along with the Senators from their states with no real scientific, exploitative or cultural value. Bread and circuses.”

    Some of the things that “Look But Don’t Touch” would make possible would have some use beyond stunts, if they were undertaken. Practicing refueling at the Earth Moon L points or repairing space telescopes at the Earth Sun L points would certainly be useful. Learning how to divert asteroids is certainly not only useful, but crucial. Mind, “Major Tom” image of astronaut “boots on the ground” on asteroids is a little bit silly.

    My fear is that none of these things will be undertaken and the various “look but don’t touch” jaunts will just be stunts. Meanwhile someone else will go to the Moon and actually learn to live in space.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “All you need to protect yourself from radiation on the Moon and Mars is mass shielding. And there’s plenty regolith on the surface of the Moon and Mars to do just that.”

    I suppose if flexible path can be called “look but don’t touch”, then we should start calling lunar and Mars colonization “hiding under rocks”. Heh. Has a nice ring to it. I guess the way we’d touch those rocks is by banging our head into them.

    The flexibility of flexible path is both advantageous and also a bit shaky. On the one hand, the lack of a clear understanding of what human space flight is all about (er, no, it really isn’t to “propagate humanity into the solar system”, at least according to every administration and every Congress) makes such flexibility convenient. What we’re basically trying to do is do new stuff, and the new stuff we do corresponds to our technological capabilities. That stuff can change as those capabilities evolve. On the other hand, gone are the enervating Kennedy-esque days in which a specific major destination is attached to a hard deadline, and the nation is challenged by what is essentially a race. Of course, the NASA budget won’t support such a hard deadline, a fact that has now been abundantly proved by the Constellation program.

    Waiting until Christmas for a decision would certainly complicate FY11 budget development. Agency appeals to OMB passback are with regard to individual budget lines. Dotting i’s and crossing t’s. Not a whole agency-encompassing vision. You aren’t going to pull the plug on the whole human space flight budget and redo it in two months. Now, one might hope that NASA has gotten some guidance that would allow them to come up with a budget that is at least consistent with the general picture of the administration. In that case, what we’re waiting for in December is a public announcement of that decision. That is, if the administration waits until Xmas to tell NASA what it wants to do, FY11 will be just wheel-spinning for HSF.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    “I suppose if flexible path can be called “look but don’t touch”, then we should start calling lunar and Mars colonization “hiding under rocks”. Heh. Has a nice ring to it. I guess the way we’d touch those rocks is by banging our head into them.”

    Droll, but sort of like referring to living in a house as “hiding under a roof.”

    “On the other hand, gone are the enervating Kennedy-esque days in which a specific major destination is attached to a hard deadline, and the nation is challenged by what is essentially a race.”

    My concern is that the current administration will choose to do nothing.

    It’s my impression that each step in the “look but don’t touch” approach does have a destination and a deadline. Mind, the Augustine Commission costed both the “look but don’t touch” and the lunar return scenarios to roughly the same cost.

  • @ NASA Fan

    Humans are natural pioneers that instinctively love trying to settle new environments. This natural instinct caused us to spread out of Africa and into Eurasian and eventually even into North and South America.

    The Flexible path would be a huge waste of tax payer money. Settling the Moon, on the other hand, would be the exciting beginning of a new lunar economy that would also help to enhance the prosperity and survival of the human species.

    Settling the Moon would also give the emerging commercial spaceflight industry a new and exciting destination transporting wealthy tourist and Lunar Lotto winners to the Moon.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “It’s my impression that each step in the “look but don’t touch” approach does have a destination and a deadline.”

    No, deadlines come from the administration, not from a committee chartered to deliver options to the administration. Augustine’s committee presented notional roadmaps for flexible path, but I never considered those to be providing deadlines of any kind.

    Roughly the same cost for flexible path as for “hiding under rocks”? Well, I guess with the latter, you know what you get, which is a lunar return. (Didn’t Pete Conrad and Alan Bean do that first?) With the former, you’re not quite sure what you’re going to get which, as I said, is a bit shaky.

    I think your concern that the administration will do nothing is justifiable, at least for FY11. For lack of any deeper study than what the HSF committee was able to provide, I think a shuttle extension (and perhaps cancellation of Ares) is pretty much the only digestible option for FY11.

  • sc220

    The Flexible path would be boring to almost everyone and would be a huge waste of tax payer dollars. We need a lunar settlement program followed by a Mars settlement program.

    This is a ridiculous statement, and reinforces the view that most people have of human space flight zealots. That is that they represent a very small constituency of out-of-touch people who have a great difficulty getting their priorities straight. Like several other responders have posted, almost the entire electorate could give a rat’s a$$ about the space program. They get a kick out of seeing periodic accomplishments but have no patience or stomach for a long, drawn-out national campaign of epic proportions.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “Humans are natural pioneers that instinctively love trying to settle new environments.”

    No, that’s patently false, and historians have pointed out repeatedly that the people who make those claims these days are predominantly human space flight dreamers. Humans go to find stuff they need to live, and they decide to go only if they can’t live anymore where they’re living. They don’t go places just for the heck of it, and for the love of pulling up stakes and taking on risk.

  • Major Tom

    “I also don’t find the idea of a return to the Moon at about 2030 or later to be very compelling.”

    Per p. 91 of the final report of the Augustine Committee, under the Flexible Path options, lunar landings would occur in the 2020s, not 2030 or later.

    Again, get your facts straight or don’t bother posting here. It’s a waste of other posters’ time to correct your blatantly false statements.

    “It’s also very rich to receive insults ”

    Where did I insult you? I asked you to not post here “If you can’t read sources, comprehend them and get your facts straight.”

    Clearly, you can’t do that. Even after I corrected your first false statement, pointed you to the source, and asked you not to post here again unless you could get your facts straight, you made immediately posted a second, blatantly false statement on the very same topic and source.

    So again, please don’t post here. You’re wasting your time posting blatantly false information and other poster’s time correcting your posts.

    “he or she should reveal who he or she is”

    Mr. Foust welcomes anonymous posts. It doesn’t matter who I am. Arguments are based on facts and logic, not the individuals making the argument. Argue the post, not the poster.

    And if you can’t put together an accurate and coherent position without resorting to ad hominem arguments, then please don’t post here.

    “a person who is too much of a coward to post under his or her own name… another anonymous troll artist”

    This is an insult. Why do you have to resort to namecalling? Twice? I didn’t call you any names.

    Please go away — take your false statements, ad hominem arguments, and namecalling elsewhere.

    Bleah…

  • eng

    sc220,

    Well stated.

  • Major Tom

    “‘Major Tom’ image [sic] of astronaut ‘boots on the ground’ on asteroids is a little bit silly.”

    No, it’s not. It depends somewhat on the size and composition of the asteroid, but the typical human asteroid mission involves docking the capsule with the asteroid and the crew disembarking to make their way around the surface of the asteroid. For example, see this picture, which shows Orion docked to an asteroid’s surface and two astronauts outside the capsule:

    http://www.enjoyspace.com/uploads/editorial_cases/aout2009/asteroids/orion-asteroid.jpg

    Forget reading and comprehension. If you just managed to look at pictures before posting yet a third false statement, you would know this.

    Lawdy…

  • @red

    Several bedroom sized lunar habitat modules could be transported to the lunar surface via an Altair lander every year. Inflatable biodomes perhaps 100 meters or more in diameter could also be transported to the lunar surface. Some biodomes could be used for residential areas and others for parks and recreational areas.

    Permanent lunar residents would probably have to limit their time exploring or working on the lunar surface. The legal limit for nuclear workers on Earth is 5 rem per year. On the Moon, you would be exposed to 25 rems of radiation per year. So you’d have to minimize you’re exposure to the radiation on the lunar surface by at least 5 times. So that would only allow you less than 5 hours a day to explore the lunar surface once you leave the shielded habitats of a lunar base or 35 hours per week.

  • @MrEarl

    “Fundamentally what is at stake here the purpose of or our human spaceflight program.

    To me, Flexible Path is little more than stunts that keep the contractors happy along with the Senators from their states with no real scientific, exploitative or cultural value. Bread and circuses.”

    Exactly!

  • @ sc220

    The Flexible path are expensive stunts that are going to requires hours and hours of explaining by NASA scientist to the American people on why they’re wasting the tax payer’s money on silly one shot missions instead of getting on with the business of settling the New Frontier in order to increase our prosperity and enhance the survival of our species.

  • @ Doug Lassiter

    “No, that’s patently false,”

    You mean the human species all still lives in Africa? I guess the rest of us are just aliens:-)

  • Ferris Valyn

    Mark – why does it matter if we put boots on the ground on the moon in 2025 or 2030? What does 5 years gain us?

  • Major Tom

    “All you need to protect yourself from radiation on the Moon and Mars is mass shielding. And there’s plenty regolith on the surface of the Moon and Mars to do just that.”

    We actually don’t know that.

    We estimate that it will take about 2 meters (almost 7 feet) of lunar regolith to protect against radiation sickness on a timespan of weeks to months.

    We estimate that it will take about 5 meters of lunar regolith (over 16 feet) to protect against radiation-induced cancer on a timespan of a few years.

    We have no estimates (that I’m aware of — if someone else knows, please speak up) of how much lunar regolith would be needed to reduce a person’s exposure to space radiation sources to levels where the individual would not experience radiation-induced cancers or related debilitating or life-threatening conditions over an entire human lifespan.

    Same goes for successfully and safely reproducing in that environment.

    (Also, microgravity experiments on the reproductive cycle and embryonic development of lower organisms indicates that lower gravity can cause sterility, induce fetal death, and/or result in significant birth defects. The proteins we’re made from evolved to fold in certain configurations in a 1g environment. Take that away and the biochemistry that supports conception and embryonic development takes on a very different form.)

    And even the estimates we have are just that — estimates. Spallation effects can only be modeled. No one has actually dug up two or five meters of regolith on the lunar surface and stuck Geiger counters underneath to determine whether the secondary radiation would be benign or not.

    Moreover, even if the amount of regolith needed to keep a person healthy and successfully reproducing over a lifetime is not much more than 5 meters, we could still only spend about two or so years of our lives out from under that shielding. Assuming a 100-year lifespan (I recently read that 104 years was the projected average lifespan of U.S. children born today, assuming health and medical trends continue), who wants to live out 97-98% of their life in metal cans 20-odd feet underground? Why not just visit the Moon for a couple years for the experience and live much more comfortably the rest of your life on Earth?

    This is why I argue that humans will continue to visit other locations in the solar system for reasons of research, work, and play. But all indications are that we’e not going to live out entire lifespans or raise children there.

    I’m not writing any of this to be a wet blanket or claim that human space flight has no value. I don’t believe that.

    But I also don’t believe that space policy and programs are well-served when they’re driven by scifi fantasies of human (as in homo sapiens) settlement or colonization of space.

    Our forms evolved over billions of years to live in the Earth’s environment, not any space environment. If we really want to settle space, then we should be discussing how to reengineer the human form for various space environments. Talk about rocket engineering or regolith shielding misses the boat, by a wide margin.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “The legal limit for nuclear workers on Earth is 5 rem per year.”

    But the lifetime (or multiyear) limits are not 5 rem times the years in the worker’s lifespan (or the years they work before retirement). The lifetime (or multiyear) limits are much lower.

    “On the Moon, you would be exposed to 25 rems of radiation per year. So you’d have to minimize you’re exposure to the radiation on the lunar surface by at least 5 times. So that would only allow you less than 5 hours a day to explore the lunar surface once you leave the shielded habitats of a lunar base or 35 hours per week.”

    This rate of exposure for a lifetime lunar resident wouldn’t work. You’d exceed the lifetime limits for radiation early in their lifetime.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “Or, alternatively, maybe there will be a fairly simple treatment for radiation which leaves us quite human. This looks like a promising start”

    That’s a treatment to mitigate the negative effects of radiation used in cancer therapies, which is nothing like the solar proton and cosmic ray radiation sources in space.

    Sorry, apples and oranges.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “To me, Flexible Path is little more than stunts that keep the contractors happy along with the Senators from their states with no real scientific, exploitative or cultural value. Bread and circuses.”

    This is a terribly ignorant statement.

    How is human servicing of astronomical observatories and solar instruments at Lagrange Points, in the same mode as the Hubble Space Telescope, “bread and circuses”?

    How is research on near-Earth objects that threaten the very existence of civilization “bread and circuses”?

    How is teleoperation of robotic explorers on the surface of Mars from Phobos so there’s no risk of back contaminating the Earth in the search for life “bread and circuses”?

    “What human spaceflight is really for is to propagate humanity into the solar system.”

    It’s a nice sentiment, but we’re probably never going to be able to propogate humans into the solar system (i.e., have homo sapiens live out entire lifespans and reproduce beyond Earth). See earlier posts in this thread.

    “What has stopped us in the past are three things speed/distance, radiation and lack of gravity. We are now close to finding answers for two of those problems.”

    While a nice to have, speed is not really a showstopper for human space settlement. Certainly not in the same way as radiation or even low gravity.

    “the VASIMER engine… recently passed it’s atmospheric trials”

    They weren’t “atmospheric” trials. The tests took place in a vacuum chamber. The engine is not designed to operate in any atmosphere. It’s a deep space engine.

    “This engine can cut travel time to Mars from months to weeks. With this engine exploration of the solar system becomes feasible.”

    Assuming:

    1) The ~15 kilowatt engine demonstrated to date can scale up many orders of magnitude to the ten or hundred megawatt engine needed for a human mission. There are lots of effects that could prevent this (or other) ion engines from reaching those scales. Spacecraft charging alone could be a nightmare.

    2) A sufficiently powerful and efficient in-space power source can be developed to power such a large ion engine. No such power source (in-space nuclear plant, enormous solar array, etc.) has ever been developed.

    “Research into new materials and electro-magnetic properties has brought us close to solutions for the problem with radiation/cosmic rays.”

    What exactly are these mysterious “new materials and electro-magnetic properties”?

    References?

    “As for the third problem, gravity or lack there of, centrifugal force has been know for a long time to be a good way to counteract that.”

    Only if you’re going to live your life in off a planetary surface. Doesn’t help if you’re trying to colonize the Moon or Mars.

    Not trying to be mean, but let’s deal with reality.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “Humans are natural pioneers that instinctively love trying to settle new environments. This natural instinct…”

    If you look carefully at the reasons that have driven humanity to undertake exploration or settlement, love of the adventure or natural instinct doesn’t play a role.

    The ancestors of the American Indians that crossed the Siberian-Alaskan land bridge were following a food source. They had no idea they were making a momentus crossing into a new continent, nevertheless demonstrated love or instinct for such.

    Erik the Red and his son Leif Ericsson were escaping persecution by the Norwegian king. They didn’t settle Iceland and Greenland or explore Newfoundland out of love or instinct. They were running for their lives.

    Columbus had no idea he was discovering (or rediscovering) a new continent. He was after a better trade route to the East Indies. Columbus was driven by greed, not love or instinct.

    Even Apollo was the result of a Cold War race against the Soviet Union. Kennedy embarked on Apollo because he felt we needed to prove that the U.S. could build bigger, better rockets than the Soviets, who were threatening us with nuclear-tipped ICBMs similar to the rockets that launch Sputnik and Gagarin.

    Fear and greed drive exploration and settlement. Not love of adventure or human instinct.

    FWIW…

  • Bob Mahoney

    This discussion reminds me of the old adage about rearranging the deck furniture on the Titanic.

    Dr. Spudis illuminated quite clearly a few weeks ago (certainly better than I can here) regarding the true core question we must address: flexible path or not, unless we focus our space efforts on figuring out how to do things in an incremental, build-it-up non-disposable way from the top down (exploiting resources outside of Earth’s deep gravity well with significant elements of reusable infrastructure), destinations won’t matter because the effort WILL continue to be little more than occasional stunts (very expensive stunts) with some science sprinkled on the side.

    Sure, you can try resource utilization at NEAs and Phobos/Deimos and most definitely will want to eventually, but with the lunar surface only 3 days away affording relatively frequent access to said resources, the learning curve is bound to be faster than lugging pilot plants off to asteroids with months-long trip times. The Moon IS the key to the rest of the solar system, but not as a final destination, but as (at first) a laboratory and then ultimately (we hope…that’s the whole point of trying stuff there first!) as an outside-Earth’s-gravity-well supply depot.

    We all need to let go of the past, specifically the Apollo mindset; the old way of doing things in space is self-limiting and a paradigm shift is needed to allow us to take any real strides forward. We must investigate and then leverage the key technologies that will enable lots of us (and any entrepreneurial possibilities) to go places out there.

    At the top of the list is beyond-LEO resource exploitation, and the Moon is the closest easiest-access place to assess whether or not it can be done. In other words, instead of rearranging deck furniture like y’all have been discussing, we need to carefully investigate the utility of the lifeboat that has been staring us in the face for millennia.

  • Chance

    “The ancestors of the American Indians that crossed the Siberian-Alaskan land bridge were following a food source. They had no idea they were making a momentus crossing into a new continent, nevertheless demonstrated love or instinct for such.

    Erik the Red and his son Leif Ericsson were escaping persecution by the Norwegian king. They didn’t settle Iceland and Greenland or explore Newfoundland out of love or instinct. They were running for their lives.

    Columbus had no idea he was discovering (or rediscovering) a new continent. He was after a better trade route to the East Indies. Columbus was driven by greed, not love or instinct.”

    Point of order – greed, self preservation, and hunger are all natural instincts, and if they lead to pioneering and exploration, then in the end it becomes a distinction without a difference to say “this emotion, not that on, is what drove them”.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “You mean the human species all still lives in Africa? I guess the rest of us are just aliens:-)”

    Oh, c’mon. You didn’t address what I said. What I said was humans didn’t expand because they wanted to explore. They expanded because they had to leave. Humans basically WANT to stay where they are. There is no consensus that the human species has to expand to other planets anytime in the forseeable future, and you won’t find anyone in any WH who would say that we have to. Major Tom also put it well.

    The argument about exploration being “in our blood” or “in our DNA” or “part of our our manifest destiny” is utter garbage. We are a curious species, and that’s a good thing, but the vast majority of us would really rather stay at home, and perhaps have a vacation once in a while. I’d love to go to Mars, but no way would I want to stay there, and I would pity those who had to.

    OK, if we’re going to call a spade a spade, and say that greed, self preservation, and hunger are what drives us outward in the solar system, let’s discuss that, and drop that ugly “exploration” word entirely. Greed? I dunno, maybe your appetite for He3 is larger than most. I don’t see people lining up with greenbacks to get the stuff. So much for our prosperity. Self preservation? I’m going to strap myself to a rocket to preserve myself? Uh, no way. Hunger? Here, have a carrot.

  • Anon

    @Major Tom

    “We’ll visit for a year or two (whether under the Flexible Path options or something else) but homo sapiens will almost certainly never live out lifetimes or reproduce in the lunar or Martian environments.”

    In that case why bother with NASA? Just close it down and use the money to clean up the Earth. If the Earth is going to be our prison until extinction there is no need to waste money on the flexible option or any other…

    You know in the 1950′s scientists argued astronauts would not survive zero G. They would choke on their own saliva. Or on any food they ate that wasn’t paste. Turned out they were wrong big time….

  • Anon

    @Red

    The only way to answer your questions will be to build a Moonbase and do the bioresearch needed there. But just giving up on space settlement as the goal of space exploration since its “impossible” is pure foolishness. Thank goodness the engineers in the 1950′s didn’t listen to the nay sayers that claim astronauts would never survive in zero G.

  • Anon

    One thing to remember is that one of the selling points for the Shuttle was that it would allow flexible operations in Earth orbit. The problem with flexibility is that its hard to distinguish it from just drifting. But then NASA has been drifting since the end of Apollo, so it probably fits as a goal for NASA….

  • NASA Fan

    @Marcel: “instincts have us seek adventure and new frontiers”

    Marcel, I acknowledge your enthusiasm for putting down a moon base, yadda yadda. It would be so cool.

    And, when putting a moon base down translates to a SURVIVAL issue for humanity, then we’ll have a moon base. Till then, no way Jose.

    I don’t like Flexible path anymore than many of these posters. It’s a ‘kick the can down the road’ path. But it will win the day because it lets Obama/politicians ‘say’ there for ‘adventure’ w/o spending the big bucks to make it happen. No Bucks, No Buck Rogers, as we often hear.

    And, has anyone seriously looked at what is involved in rendezvousing with a near earth object? Unless it is in the same orbit as earth, varying it’s perihelion and aphelion only slightly from Earth orbit, it will be very difficult to reach. Anyone who does orbital mechanics and trajectory analysis for a living can tell you that to ‘catch up’ with a asteroid, or comet, or alien space ship, that is in our vicinity is a multi-year mission, all out of the safety of our radiation belts, and presents the same ‘deep space’ problems as going to Mars. Probably worse as some NEO’s take 5 to 6 years to catch up if their aphelion is between 3 and 4 AU. There is deep space maneuvers, earth gravity assists, etc. etc.

    Obama will hold true to his campaign rehetoric regardind a vision/direction for NASA. Rober posted a website to it. Read it. There is so much wiggle room in it, and it points to what most folks feel is coming, including those within NASA.

    Look for commercial access to LEO. 1 extra STS Flight. Continuation of the ISS till 2020. Getting the Internationals involved to get hold of some of their monies. Not sure what is going to happen with Orion. It may stick, as a bone to JSC.

    And, when Internationals get involved , do NOT look for anything around the Flexible path option to happen quickly. Just note how looooong the ISS has been ‘under construction’, and that baby is in LEO! Image an international effort to pull off a NEO mission.

  • J. Cool

    Chance’s comments are right on the mark:

    “Point of order – greed, self preservation, and hunger are all natural instincts, and if they lead to pioneering and exploration, then in the end it becomes a distinction without a difference to say “this emotion, not that on, is what drove them”.”

    I’m getting sick of hearing these Handleyisms about noble vision and pursuit of exploration in an effort to appeal to mankind’s noble nature. These arguments are unadulterated BS, and the American public understands them as such. Chance bares the cold hard truth, that exploration is driven by human need and selfish desire, not a noble vision. Apollo really screwed our perspective, and got us on a stupid, punch-drinking course.

    In the long run, Apollo was a successful tool in hammering the few final nails in the Soviet coffin (there were others). Unfortunately, it injected an entire generation into a fantasy land of fantastical expectations.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Hmmm. Good discussion. Where to begin … ?

    “homo sapiens will almost certainly never live out lifetimes or reproduce in the lunar or Martian environments. In that case why bother with NASA?”

    That’s an easy one. You have to go look at the Space Act, which formally defines what NASA is. You won’t find anything there about colonization or species survival. Next question?

    “And, has anyone seriously looked at what is involved in rendezvousing with a near earth object?”

    Yes, in fact lots of trajectory engineers (from NASA and aerospace industry leaders) have considered this problem in some detail. The proxops issues are tricky, but workable. The Augustine committee got briefings from these folks, and their work is abundantly published in SPIE and AIAA journals. Actually, JAXA did a pretty good job on Itokawa with Hyabusa. I’m surprised you aren’t familiar with work like this. Now, you choose your objects carefully, and you don’t have a whole lot of opportunities. But you have some very accessible targets.

    “The problem with flexibility is that its hard to distinguish it from just drifting.”

    That is precisely right, and was what I was trying to say about flexible path being “shaky”. Now, our efforts with HSF for the last three decades can’t really be distinguished from “drifting” either, so it’s not clear that this is understood to be a serious problem.

    “when Internationals get involved , do NOT look for anything around the Flexible path option to happen quickly”

    True, international collaborations can slow things down, but it’s not clear that the most serious ISS delays can be blamed on international collaboration. Certainly (as pointed out by the Augustine committee), one of the great successes of ISS was teaching us how to do international collaboration on HSF. On the other hand, without the funding that such collaborations can bring, don’t look for anything to happen any quicker.

  • @Major Tom

    Once you’re living permanently on the Moon, I doubt if you’d even desire to go out onto the lunar surface every day for a few hours or even every week for a few hours.

    Machines will probably do most of the work on the lunar surface. So the only reason to go out on the lunar surface would be for recreation once in awhile.

    In door activities on the moon could be as boring as a University science lab or as exciting as a cruise ship or a hotel in Las Vegas!

  • @ Doug Lassiter

    I didn’t say explore new habitats, I said humans desire to settle new habitats. And many humans today have a strong desire to put permanent settlements on the Moon and Mars and maybe even someday utilize the asteroids to manufacture are own rotating artificial worlds.

  • Major Tom

    “In that case why bother with NASA? Just close it down and use the money to clean up the Earth.”

    This statement demonstrates ignorance of what programs comprise NASA. NASA is more than the civil human space flight program.

    For example, if our objective is to “clean up the Earth”, then we need data, information, and understanding with which to make intelligent decisions about managing the Earth’s biosphere. NASA’s Earth science satellites and research provide that.

    Then there’s NASA aeronautics research, which supports and helps advance a key segment of the nation’s economy and transportation system.

    Then there’s NASA’s solar and space physics research that helps critical elements of our technological infrastructure (power lines, global positioning systems, all kinds of wireless communications) anticipate and mitigate the effects of solar events that could disrupt, damage, or destroy these systems.

    And even if NASA was comprised solely of the civil human space flight program, this statement demonstrate ignorance of what benefits that program could have, if run smartly and efficiently, without ever settling or colonizing another world. Deploying and servicing Lagrange Point observatories to find Earth-like planets around other stars; gaining critical information on the makeup of near-Earth objects that would allow for intelligent planning in the event that such an object threatens the Earth; searching for and understanding a whole new biology on Mars; and potentially reaping high-value resources from the Moon or near-Earth objects are all worthwhile activities that don’t require humans to live out their lives or reproduce in any space environment.

    “You know in the 1950’s scientists argued astronauts would not survive zero G. They would choke on their own saliva. Or on any food they ate that wasn’t paste.”

    Are you sure this isn’t an urban myth? Maybe laymen would come up with such a stupid theory, but it’s hard to see qualified medical doctors and researchers arguing that humans can’t swallow in 0g when they can swallow standing on their heads in -1g (relative to the normal orientation of the human digestive system).

    And even if qualified doctors and researchers did argue such back in the 1950s, the situation bears no resemblance to the issue of space radiation today. You can’t test an organism in a space microgravity environment until you actually put it there. However, we can test the effects of radiation on organisms here on Earth (and do so routinely) and compare those tests to measurements of the ambient radiation environment in space. On the basis of those tests, there’s little doubt about what the effects will be on the human body, to within a factor of two or so.

    “The problem with flexibility is that its hard to distinguish it from just drifting.”

    This is not a good argument against the Flexible Path options. As laid out in the final report of the Augustine Committee, they provide a quicker, more rapid, and more sustainable succession of “firsts” than the Moon First options.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “Once you’re living permanently on the Moon, I doubt if you’d even desire to go out onto the lunar surface every day for a few hours or even every week for a few hours.

    Machines will probably do most of the work on the lunar surface. So the only reason to go out on the lunar surface would be for recreation once in awhile.”

    I don’t mean this as an attack, but your logic is circular.

    If robots are going to do most of the work and the main reasons for humans to go out on the surface of the Moon is recreation, then why live out your life there? Just visit once in a while for a vacation.

    “In door activities on the moon could be as boring as a University science lab or as exciting as a cruise ship or a hotel in Las Vegas!”

    But we can do those things on Earth.

    (And I personally found my chemistry labs very exciting, thank you very much!)

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “Probably worse as some NEO’s take 5 to 6 years to catch up if their aphelion is between 3 and 4 AU. There is deep space maneuvers, earth gravity assists, etc. etc.”

    True for some, but not all, NEOs. There are plenty that are slow-moving enough (relative to Earth) and that come within some multiple of lunar radii that early human asteroid mission studies typically look at missions with round trips under 60-90 days. See:

    http://www.space.com/news/061116_asteroid_nasa.html

    “And, when Internationals get involved , do NOT look for anything around the Flexible path option to happen quickly. Just note how looooong the ISS has been ‘under construction’, and that baby is in LEO!”

    You do realize that without international contributions, we probably would have lost the ISS after Columbia, right?

    FWIW…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ November 7th, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Once you’re living permanently on the Moon, I doubt if you’d even desire to go out onto the lunar surface every day for a few hours or even every week for a few hours.

    Machines will probably do most of the work on the lunar surface. So the only reason to go out on the lunar surface would be for recreation once in awhile. ..

    What makes you come to that conclusion?

    I know people who spend “sometime” in submarines, which is about the closest thing one can get right now to your vision of a lunar “settlement”…they are so desperate for seeing the outside world at occassions they have what is called “periscope liberty” ie people get to look at “the world” through the periscope.

    After a bit and I bet that is a very short time, living underground or in little Al Hulls surrounded by “regolith” is going to make living on a submarine seem spacious.

    Do you really think “wow we are on the Moon” is going to be enough to keep people from going nuts? YOu have I guess never been on an oil rig or in a foreign country where you are stuck on a compound?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ November 7th, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    My fear is that none of these things will be undertaken and the various “look but don’t touch” jaunts will just be stunts. Meanwhile someone else will go to the Moon and actually learn to live in space…

    well and doubtless you fear that there will be more “Massacres” like you are calling the event at Fort Hood.

    But “actually learn to live in space”?

    Are we not doing that on ISS? ISS is in space and people are for the most part spending as much time there on a crew as prudence in terms of radiation etc would dictate.

    We have found it is very expensive and that so far people cannot stay long periods of time in microgee without have some serious troubles.

    Who do you think is going to race back to the Moon and try and live there…and why?

    Robert G. Oler

  • MrEarl

    @ Major Tom (Space Oddity?)
    “How is research on near-Earth objects that threaten the very existence of civilization “bread and circuses”?”
    How is sending a manned capsule to such an object worth the exponential greater cost of sending a couple of robotic probes that will give us just as much information if not more.?

    “How is human servicing of astronomical observatories and solar instruments at Lagrange Points, in the same mode as the Hubble Space Telescope, “bread and circuses”?”
    When we have such things at Lagrange Points capable of being serviced, (the Webb telescope will not be) it may be worth it. Both of the scenarios you laid out could also be accomplished with space craft designed for exploration of the moon and Mars. The astronauts will need protection from the solar wind and radiation, some sort of way to break free of earth’s gravity well whether chemical, VASIMR some other technology.

    Here are two references for articles on a recent breakthrough buy the British and an older study by NASA on how to mitigate or eliminate the dangers caused solar flares and other space radiation. Please try to keep current.
    http://www.physorg.com/news145004546.html
    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2005/25aug_plasticspaceships.htm

    The VASIMR engine was recently tested on earth in a vacuum chamber at 200kW. http://www.onorbit.com/node/1577
    AdAstra and NASA have signed an agreement to flight test the VASIMR on the ISS.
    http://spacefellowship.com/2008/12/13/nasa-and-ad-astra-rocket-company-sign-agreement-for-flight-test-of-the-vasimr-rocket-engine-aboard-the-international-space-station/
    As you mentioned the last hurdle to using the VASIMR is power, but it’s not as daunting as you make it sound. http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/a_rocket_for_the_21st_century/

    What I don’t understand is why do people feel the need to slap down any expression of optimism or hope expressed on this and other forums like this? Most of us realize that NASA and human space flight is not a top (or even middle) priority to our leaders or most Americans unless their jobs are connected to it. We really believe that the manned exploration of space can be a huge benefit to mankind. We’re not rocket scientists nor do we have all the answers to all the technical issues like our critics allege that they do. We’ve done our research and usually have more to base our hopes on than just good feelings. This is supposed to be a discussion, an exchange of ideas, not a bash fest.
    Not trying to be mean….. just dealing in reality.

  • NASA Fan

    @Marcel: “Actually, JAXA did a pretty good job on Itokawa with Hyabusa. I’m surprised you aren’t familiar with work like this. ”

    Marcel, you’ve proved my point. Hyabusa launched in May of 2003 and arrived at Itokawa in Sept of 2005. That is over two years. Itokawa is at about 2.5AU. I can’t image how long it would take, and the planning it would take, and the technology needed, and the cost, to send humans to Itokawa.

    They’d fry from radiation.

    Look, JPL, JAXA, the Ruskies, all have the smarts to rendevous with any object floating around our solar system. The orbital dymanics, trajectory analysis is well understood. The prox ops around these comets/asteroids/alien space ships is improving with each encounter.

    But I do not ever see humans being involved in such a mission for decades, if ever.

  • Robert G. Oler

    the whole discussion of people wanting to go to the Moon and live in “caves” or underground reminds me of the ending of Dr. Strangelove;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59YKlP–PhU

    watch this and think how many people are going to go rushing to live in little tubes on the Moon. Perhaps the anchorettes from fox news will be there.

    Lol

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ N. We really believe that the manned exploration of space can be a huge benefit to mankind….

    I think that most of us agree with that…the issue is to try and come up with some plan/method that actually has some connection with reality

    Robert G. Oler

  • Bob

    I can’t image [sic] how long it would take, and the planning it would take, and the technology needed, and the cost, to send humans to Itokawa.

    Then don’t go to Itokawa. There are lots of other NEOs to choose from, with more discovered every day. Roundtrips can be 90 to 180 days, including a couple of weeks at the NEO itself. See this ’07 study:

    http://ti.arc.nasa.gov/projects/neo_study/pdf/IAC-07-slides.pdf

    Note the people who worked on this: they know their stuff, including about human spaceflight.

  • Bill White

    @ Bob Mahoney

    “The Moon IS the key to the rest of the solar system . . .”

    True, but also EML-1 & EML-2 are the transfer nodes that are the key to opening up the Moon.

    Several of the architectures proposed after the VSE was announced and before Griffin replaced O’Keefe looked to EML-1 and/or EML-2 depots as the key to opening up the Moon.

    If we are going to exploit the Moon’s resources, EML-1 and EML-2 are truly strategic cross-roads.

  • Robert G. Oler

    the most important thing in MY view about a new approach, is that it gives the impetus to “reorg” NASA and its centers in a fashion that is something different then what exist today.

    It will be curious to see what General Bolden does with this (if he gets the chance).

    Bolden came back onto active duty as the Marines were “Krulaking” themselves into the urban force that they are today…and he watched how Clinton and the Marines managed that. Bolden has spoken about Krulak’s affect on the Marines and how he transformed them…it will be interesting to see if he can do the same at NASA.

    Flexible path might be the “three block war” theory for NASA.

    Robert G. Oler

  • @Major Tom

    “I don’t mean this as an attack, but your logic is circular.

    If robots are going to do most of the work and the main reasons for humans to go out on the surface of the Moon is recreation, then why live out your life there? Just visit once in a while for a vacation.”

    Because confining human civilization solely to our planet of evolutionary origin reduces the chances of the survival of our species. Humans need to spread out, all over the solar system and maybe even someday, all over the galaxy.

  • The Flexible path pretty much means that some folks don’t want to return to the Moon and don’t want to spend the money to develop the Altair lunar lander.

    I blame this on Griffin since he managed to turn a lunar base program (“this time were going back to stay!!!!”) into an Apollo redux program thinking it might be less costly to do sorties rather than land lunar habitat modules to build a permanent base. He probably thought this might be more appealing to Congress but all it did was cause confusion and prompt legislators to ask, “why are we doing Apollo again!”

    What a mess this man has made!

  • @ Robert G. Oler

    “Do you really think “wow we are on the Moon” is going to be enough to keep people from going nuts? YOu have I guess never been on an oil rig or in a foreign country where you are stuck on a compound?”

    That’s why you make a lunar base a lot roomier by adding 100 meter plus inflatable biodomes for parks and recreation. But again, there would be nothing stopping you from going onto the lunar surface once and a while.

    But some folks might prefer spending the day indoors around a huge biodome swimming pool, or donning wings and flying in another biodome, or ice skating or playing hockey in another biodome, or relaxing in a biodome park, or going to a biodome disco, or going to the movies, or restaurant or to the local lunar mall. And sex may even be more enjoyable under a 1/6 gravity environment!

    It won’t be Earth, and it won’t be for everybody, but someday I believe millions of people will call the Moon home!

  • NASA Fan

    @ Bob “Then don’t go to Itokawa. There are lots of other NEOs to choose from, with more discovered every day. Roundtrips can be 90 to 180 days, including a couple of weeks at the NEO itself. See this ‘07 study:”

    Thanks Bob for proving my point. That report also says that they have no NEO targets of opportunities. Not any good ones between now and 2069. They need to spend more time cataloging NEO’s to find a better one than 2069. Yes the do mission concepts that show with a few NEO’s you can do a 90 day mission. Tell me, when was the last time humans spent 90 days in deep space? Image all the time, money, international cooperation, planning, budget cuts, new administrative directions,replanning etc. that will impact such a mission?

    If someone discovers a NEO that might hit earth, then we;ll see some movement.

    I’m with Robert: The Flexible Path, while I see it as a ‘kick the can’ option, does allow some authority to re-organize NASA for the 21st century. Which means closings and consolidation of HSF centers. And who knows what might be in store for the Robotic Centers, or the Aero Reseach Centers.

    Robert: Any ideas?

  • A NASA Engineer @ KSC

    Beware in these debates of getting too caught up in the option chosen, devoid of the context that will also surround it in the immediate budget environment, and devoid of the context of future recurring transportation costs. Together these other values, such as what part of the Human Space Flight budget is spent on R&D, or how much the recurring cost of any lift vehicle will be will decide the amount “leftover” for using the system.

    The amount “leftover” in Human Space Flight down any path, after subtracting the context of other work, and the recurring cost of transportation only, will decide everything else such as having a mission to somewhere every other year.

    Imagine that the recurring cost is high for some configuration, while we still have an ISS, while we must still support good R&D. If there is not much left over then the mission here or there every other year quickly can easily become a mission every few years, or every five years. This becomes loss or relevance.

    The strategic value down any path is determined by the context of any specific configuration of heavy lift. Choose a heavy that is too large and many things happen –

    (1) Should the COTS crew initiative flounder or delay, then no backup is available in the heavy that is in work. The larger it is the farther away it is. On the other hand, the more Shuttle-like it is, such as 4-segment SRB, ET diameter core, etc, then the more likely that as any COTS crew initiative deviates from plan the system could adapt to use the heavy, minus any Earth Departure Stage.

    (2) Choose a heavy that is too large, like Ares V “lite” (still large at 33′ and 5 segment SRB’s) and the resulting budget pressures along the way are more likely to go back to form, meaning take money from COTS-crew initiatives, from any other enterprises, and from R&D. The bigger project will return to Cx ways. Guerrilla warfare ensues again from such budget aggression and loss of balance. Lost time. Lost effort.

    (3) Choose a heavy that is too large and the recurring costs will leave no room in the HSF budget for missions. This will be the syndrome of it being so capable, but we can’t use it because it’s so expensive. The fixed costs will be larger than Shuttles, and the variable will be much more than Shuttle, given throwing away such over-sized systems, more, larger engines, etc. This leave little room for any missions needing anything more than Orion.

    Let’s not make the mistake again of assuming a budget arrives from defining a good mission. Rather, a good mission is defined from an awareness and context with a degree of uncertainty about budgets. At the least we should be planning for a dacadal freeze, with room to maneuver should slight cuts (~$100M any year) arrive, while fully being aware that purchasing power is lost every year this decade to the degree of any inflation. By 2020 a frozen HSF budget would have possibly 80% of it’s current purchasing power vs. today if inflation in aerospace ran only a couple or a few percent a year through then.

    So context is what any path lies on, a certain context.

    This was a lesson lost in the ESAS exercise, reliant on rosy assumptions and a complete lack of context. We can learn from ESAS certain basics –

    (a) HSF is more than just the next development to replace Shuttle. R&D is a basic part of HSF and lack of it is what has us in today’s fix, having to scrounge existing wares to assemble our next transportation step. Low cost access to space is part of NASA and HSF responsibilities too. An initiative that seeks to apply more mature technology, business approaches and processes is always an on-going must have, regardless of if a specific path one year or another fails there. Lastly HSF has a Space Station, and centers, and capabilities, and networks and communication and such. After these basics are addressed you have a “development” and a “recurring” budget from what’s leftover. Oh…and don’t assume the ISS goes anywhere anytime soon, and that the money would be available. Assume, plan robustly, that it’s up there even into the 2020′s.

    (b) After the recurring cost of a next system are understood, you can see what’s leftover for using the system, call it “development after this development”. Again – context.

    (c) Initiatives interplay and should serve as backups and cost sharing devices. In Cx it was no backup, no cost sharing. This was a mistake. Any next approach must say “if this fails, then that”. Adaptability must define the next step. Adaptability requires a low recurring cost and an understanding of context. Costs are here, then there. Cx made the mistake of seeing Shuttle as a drain, other initiatives as useless, and of refusing to understand HSF and Shuttle costs, but “imagining” the funds would be for them once Shuttle ended. We call that delusion and denial.

    It came back to haunt them.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “confining human civilization solely to our planet of evolutionary origin reduces the chances of the survival of our species. Humans need to spread out, all over the solar system and maybe even someday, all over the galaxy”

    Sure, in principle this is true. Certainly in a few billion years we’d better find some other solar system to live in. But survival of the species is not a responsibility of the United States of America, nor it’s space agency.

    Survival of ones friends and family are vastly more important to the US taxpayer than survival of our species. That’s about defense, health, and jobs, which just happen to be considered prime national needs and responsibility.

    I’m extrapolating a little here, but a civilization that allows it’s home planet to become inhospitable to human life isn’t going to be saved by moving to Mars.

    “That report also says that they have no NEO targets of opportunities.”

    On the contrary. Korsmeyer (who is one of the architects of flexible path for the Augustine committee) says in this report that there are about a dozen opportunities in the 201x-2030 timeframe for such visits. That’s just considering known objects. His whole presentation is about such opportunities. Got any more points you want proven?

    As to when the last time was that we spent 90 days in deep space, putting humans in holes on the Moon isn’t a substantially better way to prove that you can do that, and doesn’t prove anything about most of deep space.

  • David Davenport

    … well and doubtless you fear that there will be more “Massacres” like you are calling the event at Fort Hood.

    What do you call the event at Fort Hood, Mr. Oler?

    A non-massacre which we need not fear more of?

  • Major Tom

    “How is sending a manned capsule to such an object worth the exponential greater cost of sending a couple of robotic probes that will give us just as much information if not more.? [sic]”

    I don’t disagree. But the question wasn’t whether a robotic or manned mission is more cost effective. The question was what worthwhile things a civil human space exploration program could achieve if it wasn’t aimed at settlement (which is the current situation).

    “When we have such things at Lagrange Points capable of being serviced, (the Webb telescope will not be) it may be worth it.”

    I agree. Your point? The discussion was about what useful things a human space exploration program could do, not the timing of said program.

    (And actually NASA may equip the Webb telescope with an interface for Orion to dock to.)

    “Both of the scenarios you laid out could also be accomplished with space craft designed for exploration of the moon and Mars.”

    Yes. So what? I wasn’t arguing that astronauts shouldn’t be sent to the surfaces of the Moon or Mars (although Mars may need to be kept quaratined depending on what the robotic program finds). I was just pointing out that settlement — humans as we currently know them living out their lives and reproducing in any space environment — is highly unlikely.

    “The astronauts will need protection from the solar wind”

    No, they don’t need protection from the solar wind. They need protection from solar proton events, caused by flares or coronal mass ejections. You need to research and understand the difference.

    “Here are two references for articles on a recent breakthrough buy the British and an older study by NASA on how to mitigate or eliminate the dangers caused solar flares and other space radiation.”

    The first article describes a method of protecting astronauts from solar proton events using very powerful magnetic fields. This is a problem that doesn’t need solving — simply moving astronauts behind a large quantity of water during a solar proton event will do the trick. (And the effects of exposing oneself to these kind of magnetic fields, while certainly better than getting a solar proton bath, probably pose their own health risks.)

    The real radiation problem is continual bombardment by cosmic rays, which are not affected even by these kinds of powerful magnetic fields. Short of burying oneself deep underground, there’s little that can be done to stop cosmic rays. It’s hard see our species settling space if we have to live in cans deep underground for most of our lives — as long as we can return to Earth after a visit, there’s no point to it. (We don’t settle Antarctica or the ocean floors, where we’re also forced to live in cans for most of the time, and those are much more benign environments.) That’s why I’d argue that space settlement is up to our genetic and technological descendents, if they harden their bodies against cosmic ray damage (and probably other modifications to live comfortably beyond Earth). That’s the only other way around the cosmic ray issue.

    The second article points out that polyethylene provides good radiation shielding for low mass. But it’s for spacecraft, it still doesn’t shield against the more energetic cosmic rays, and it doesn’t get around he fact that we’d have to live in a can (even a polyethylene one — like living in a thick trash bag) underground for most of our lives if we were trying to settle space.

    “Please try to keep current.”

    Says the poster who thinks that the solar wind poses a radiation hazard.

    [rolls eyes]

    “The VASIMR engine was recently tested on earth in a vacuum chamber at 200kW… AdAstra and NASA have signed an agreement to flight test the VASIMR on the ISS.”

    True. But that VASIMIR engine is still two to three orders of magnitude off from (100 to 1,000 times less than) the power needed to send a crew to Mars. That’s like the difference between the little AA battery that powers your penlight and the massive lead/sulfuric acide battery that powers your car’s starter engine.

    “As you mentioned the last hurdle to using the VASIMR is power, but it’s not as daunting as you make it sound.”

    No, megawatt-class space nuclear reactors that have never been built before aren’t a daunting hurdle. Or solar arrays scores larger than the ISS aren’t a daunting hurdle.

    [rolls eyes]

    Look, there’s nothing wrong with investigating VASIMIR. There’s probably half-a-dozen other ion engine concepts like it that are even more worthy of funding. But for manned Mars missions, all of them require massive, unbuilt power sources that will cost many billions, probably tens of billions, of dollars to develop. A 200kW vacuum test of any ion engine is a very, very small step compared to the development challenges associated with the megawatt class version of such an engine and its power source.

    “What I don’t understand is why do people feel the need to slap down any expression of optimism… This is supposed to be a discussion… not a bash fest… Not trying to be mean….. just dealing in reality.”

    Just because other posters are dealing even more strongly in reality doesn’t mean that they’re trying to “bash” expressions of optimism.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    The post by “A NASA Engineer @ KSC” is worth rereading multiple times. Very good points with regard to the budget and the expense of heavy lift vehicles.

    I agree, and it was disappointing that the Augustine Committee did not develop an option that better fit the budget using in-space propellant management or avoided emphasizing a heavy lifter that will retain most of the expensive development components of Ares V. Even if the White House and Congress ramp up to the recommended $3B/year increase in human space exploration for a couple years, I’d bet that we’ll be back to where we are today in another half-decade or so if that budget is burdened with an expensive, unique, heavy lift launch vehicle development. Either the budget won’t be sustained or the heavy lifter will cost substantially more than estimated (or both), and we’ll be back to square one (plus or minus commercial crew launch and some technology development if the other Augustine recommendations go forward).

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom:

    Regarding colonization, Technically, and probably scientifically, impossible. After a couple years, the human body exceeds safe radiation doses in any solar system environment outside the Van Allen Belts, inducing cancer or worse and greatly shortening lifespans. Forget reproduction. We’ll visit for a year or two (whether under the Flexible Path options or something else) but homo sapiens will almost certainly never live out lifetimes or reproduce in the lunar or Martian environments.

    While I generally value your comments (albeit am concerned about your increasingly evident anger), this is almost certainly wrong. There are many options to deal with radiation exposure, from fast trip times, to living primarily underground (which humanity has done before), to so called “active” radiation control using artificial magnetic fields. I understand that the latter technology is likely to be exceedingly difficult — as the slow progress in magnetic confinement fusion is probably demonstrating — but I am aware of no theoretical reason it could not be developed.

    No one knowledgeable has ever said colonizing the Solar System would be easy — in fact, I have consistently argued that it will be far harder than most of us like to think — but “difficult” and “impossible” are rarely synonymous.

    – Donald

  • The easiest way to colonize the settle the solar system and to access its resources is to invest in space manufacture light sails: reusable space craft that don’t need to be fueled and can rapidly transport hundreds and even thousands of tonnes of payload practically anywhere in the solar system.

  • common sense

    “I agree, and it was disappointing that the Augustine Committee did not develop an option that better fit the budget using in-space propellant management or avoided emphasizing a heavy lifter that will retain most of the expensive development components of Ares V.”

    Major Tom, why surprised? The need to use Shuttle hardware was a political decision in the first place. There is very little to gain from it in terms of savings, quite the contrary. So, the Augustine committee offered solutions that pretty much all use Shuttle hardware, or the illusion of it. The point is that despite what some are saying there is a workforce issue, and that issue was the driver for ESAS. Why otherwise would we have to go through the mess they are in (barring conspiracy, incompetence and the likes)? So to me, it makes sense that Augustine did what they did. Now I would go further and say that if they use a Shuttle based HLV then as time goes by the workforce goes away (considering the timeline) and it provides an opportunity for something better in the long term. The political issue is then addressed: These people don’t lose their jobs and if something comes around they can be re-assigned and if not they will retire by the time an HLV is really needed.

    “Even if the White House and Congress ramp up to the recommended $3B/year increase in human space exploration for a couple years, I’d bet that we’ll be back to where we are today in another half-decade or so if that budget is burdened with an expensive, unique, heavy lift launch vehicle development. Either the budget won’t be sustained or the heavy lifter will cost substantially more than estimated (or both), and we’ll be back to square one (plus or minus commercial crew launch and some technology development if the other Augustine recommendations go forward).”

    Again, yes and no. It all depends how the option is driven. I will assume we will go with Flexible Path as it seems to me the smartest thing to do (more later). The near term (this WH and maybe the next) will be to fully develop the LEO/ISS commercial access. All the while they will plan for the beyond LEO mission. Unlike what some around here think it’ll take time to even have a sensible plan put together. It will have to rely on existing and upcoming technologies so it will not be “tomorrow”. Again, people will plan and the plan will, or not, include an HLV of some sort. It’s not because some say we need an HLV that we actually do, especially if we have to live within our means. And yes even if there was a $3B/yr increase. An HLV is very unlikely to be developed the usual NASA/Shuttle way within a reasonable timeframe. Think about what it is taking NASA (time and budget) to even build and fly Ares-1X (an existing SRB…). And all that I am saying again without claiming conspiracy, incompetence or the likes. Just that NASA is neither ready nor geared to such endeavor. The current HLV (yes even the sidemount) will most likely die off in the upcoming years.

    Now a couple of things to some posters here. The emphasis will be and rightfully so be put on Earth, sorry Marcel et al. Because this is one spaceship that we are not taking good care of. And (I cannot care less here whether it is man made or not) if the global warming trend were to accelerate for some reason (dynamical systems theories may be of interest to some with phenomena such as transition to chaos. Anyway…) and we have no “solution” then talk about living in caves! At least it’ll be good training for Moon and Mars settlement except there’ll be little left to do it… Doom and gloom I know, I know. I am sure the Lunatics are waiting for us with flowers and music… All that to say that exploration beyond LEO better be done with Flexible Path because who the heck cares to go to the Moon in 20 years if there is nothing to come back to here on Earth. How many people will be living on (under) the Moon???? What do you think? Settlement? Yeah right. Flexible Path if correctly managed will provide incremental capabilities and inter disciplinary synergies (robots but not only, biosciences, medicine, chemistry, materials, etc). This is how science works, allowing for breakthrough(s) not day-dreaming them.

    And if a big asteroid comes our way soon???? Well (most of) all will be moot.

  • A vote on which nation (US, China, Russia, Japan, EU) will be the first to establish a permanent settlement on the Moon can be found at:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/11/8/802191/-Ares-vs-the-Sidemount-and-the-Augustine-Commission

  • Doug Lassiter

    “No one knowledgeable has ever said colonizing the Solar System would be easy — in fact, I have consistently argued that it will be far harder than most of us like to think — but “difficult” and “impossible” are rarely synonymous.”

    Let’s not lose the thread here. The issue is not whether it is difficult or impossible to colonize the solar system, but rather whether it is necessary to do it on a forseeable timescale, and whether it is the specific responsibility of NASA and the American public to develop the tools to do it. This is part of the larger question of what is human spaceflight really for, a question that the Augustine committee unfortunately did not address.

    I’m happy to accept that greed, self preservation, and hunger are pretty much what it’s for. Science largely doesn’t need human space flight anymore. I’m not entirely convinced that resource development needs it either. But certainly (and this applies to self preservation) our nation is given more respect and seen as having more power for doing things that are hard, and doing it with people who are brave, who can look risk straight in the eye. To the extent that flexible path allows repeated demonstrations of doing things that are hard, with people that are brave, so much the better for our nation. In fact, the bar is higher for doing brave things in space than it used to be. Does going to ISS repeatedly require “bravery” anymore? I don’t think so. Nor do the many tourists whose main bravery is pulling down their bank accounts to do it. Is that what staffing of a lunar outpost would come down to, where folks get their badges for successive “Expeditions” and do hugs and handshakes at each changing of the guard?

    The flexibility that flexible path buys us is to do new, fascinating, and even risky things. That’s what Obama is facing. How do we make a program that can regularly do new, fascinating, and even risky things? Just the name “flexible path” doesn’t do it. If we accept flexible path, we have to walk the talk. Driving bulldozers on the Moon, making places to hide under rocks, or adding a new modules or caves to the outpost, is just not that fascinating.

  • Major Tom

    “concerned about your increasingly evident anger”

    I’m sorry, but I no longer have patience for folks whose posts almost always lack even one accurate or factual statement and/or who immediately resort to ad hominem arguments after their posts are corrected. I ask them to leave immediately when they make such posts or ad hominem arguments.

    “There are many options to deal with radiation exposure, from fast trip times,”

    Don’t confuse a human exploration mission to Mars, where you’re going to come back to the safety of Earth after a couple years, with settling Mars, where you’re going to spend a lifetime out of the safety of Earth. If you’re going to spend a lifetime exposed to cosmic rays, how fast you travel through them (assuming you’re not moving at a significant fraction of the speed of light) matters little.

    “to living primarily underground (which humanity has done before)”

    When humanity had no other choice. The difference is that we do now. Absent Earth becoming uninhabitable, it’s hard to see anyone making the choice to live out 97-98% of their life confined to metal (or polyethylene) cans underground and committing their children and their children’s children to the same fate.

    (And this assumes they’re still willing to take on enormous reproductive risks in lower gravity environments.)

    “to so called “active” radiation control using artificial magnetic fields.”

    No imaginable artificial magnetic field is going to stop high energy cosmic rays.

    “No one knowledgeable has ever said colonizing the Solar System would be easy — but ‘difficult’ and ‘impossible” are rarely synonymous.’”

    Be careful. I’m not saying it’s impossible, period. I’m saying it’s most likely impossible for homo sapiens.

    But change our genes enough or transplant our consciousness into machines, and our descendents, homo stellaris or whatever you want to call them, may settle other worlds.

    The other alternatives are to change other worlds to fit our biology (terraforming), create artificial worlds (Space Island-scale habitats), or find out that Einstein was wrong about the light speed barrier and colonize exo-Earths. But given the pace at which genetic and information technologies are advancing, I would bet that some number of us will have evolved to fit the environments in our solar system before we start manipulating those environments on such an enormous scale or start warping space-time to settle Epsilon Eridani.

    Regardless, the point is that if we were serious about space settlement, then the programs and technologies that we’d be pursuing would be radically different from today’s space programs. We’d replace rockets, propellant management, and closed loop life support with genetic engineering, human brain mapping, planet-scale engineering, and breakthrough physics (and the moral and social systems necessary to support such enormous and long-lived projects).

    And if we’re not going to advocate for such a radical change in direction, then we should be realistic about our space policies and programs and admit that they’re not currently and have never been about space settlement. Instead, we should admit that our civil human space flight program is similar to our Antarctic and oceanography programs and really about enabling humans to take multi-day to multi-year trips into space for purposes of research, resources, and fun and not about settling those environments.

    Policy should align with reality, that’s all.

    FWIW…

  • Robert G. Oler

    David Davenport wrote @ November 8th, 2009 at 9:34 am

    … well and doubtless you fear that there will be more “Massacres” like you are calling the event at Fort Hood.

    What do you call the event at Fort Hood, Mr. Oler?..

    OK using the definition of the word

    “The intentional killing of a considerable number of human beings, under circumstances of atrocity or cruelty, or contrary to the usages of civilized people.”

    I can go along.

    But only if you will apply it to our efforts in Iraq. We have intentionally killed under circumstances of atrocity and cruelty a lot of Iraqis contrary to the usages of civilized people.

    Iraq in “this era” did not attack us, posed no threat to us,everything Mr. Bush and Dead ender Dick said about Iraq and Saddam in terms of “dangers” to the US was a lie or an exaggeration…but they used the strongest armed force the world has ever known to kill or caused to be killed over 100,000 Iraqis. And a great many of those were civilian “collateral” damage.

    If you are willing to label what Major whatever his name was and the actions Mr. Bush took in Iraq as similar…well then call it a massacre.

    Otherwise lwhat happened at Fort Hood was an isolated event by one individual who it seems had no other motives then troubled individual ones.

    And the word “massacre” is yet another example of the right wing trying to take an isolated event and rev it up for their own political motives.

    In an earlier time the media and political groups were more thoughtful. No one used the word “Massacre” to describe Mr. Charles Whitman. And he did about the same amount of killing. But then again at that time in history the nutty right was safely under the rocks and Fox news did not exist.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Anon

    @Major Tom

    So now you are claiming that NASA is spreading urban myths….

    (roll eyes)

    Or just showing your ignorance of space history?

    From NASA’s website.

    http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/mirrors/msfc/crew/food.html

    “Before the flight, some experts were worried that, in weightlessness food would be hard to swallow and as a result, collect in the throat.”

    If you read John Glenn’s autobiography he discusses other worries experts had, like his eyeballs distorting so he would not be able to focus. I guess its easy to call them urban myths now after the facts, but then the kids of future lunar settlers will probably say the same about the scientific “facts” you are spreading on this bulletin board arguing humans could never reproduce on the Moon.

  • Anon

    @Doug Lassiter

    “That’s an easy one. You have to go look at the Space Act, which formally defines what NASA is. You won’t find anything there about colonization or species survival. Next question?”

    If that is not NASA’s mission then its all the more argument to shut them down and create a new agency with a focus on space settlement instead of merely space science and technology. Or to amend the NASA Act so the agency has a goal the taxpayers could identify with.

  • Anon

    The flexible path does match the Obama administration in that any little thing done could be claimed as a “first” even if it has no significance. i.e. the first humans to 300,000 miles from Earth, first to 310,000 miles…

    As for visits to NEO, you will find that those will push the limits of technology far more then a moon base. And cost a lot more for little value other then a few more rocks to lock in the NASA vault. Its will be hard to argue to anyone other then a space geek that astronauts visiting space rocks are exploring new worlds, especially when the Chinese, Russians and or Indians are walking on the Moon.

    To me Flexible Path is just another sign of the decline of the United States. I expect that is how the world will see it as well.

  • Anon

    @Major Tom

    “Also, microgravity experiments on the reproductive cycle and embryonic development of lower organisms indicates that lower gravity can cause sterility, induce fetal death, and/or result in significant birth defects. The proteins we’re made from evolved to fold in certain configurations in a 1g environment.”

    There is a huge difference between microgravity and the gravity levels found on the Moon and Mars. It sounds like you are simply assuming that early results from experiments done in near Zero G on Shuttle/ISS/Mir will also apply to environments that have several orders of magnitude of gravity more then you find on Shuttle/ISS/Mir.

    I say lets build a base on the Moon and try the same experiments again to see if your wild unsupported guesses are correct before we write off the human settlement of the Solar System.

    As for radiation. Moving regolith is merely an engineering issue. If it takes 40 meters then structures will be designed with 40 meters of shielding. But again, until we build a Moon base with a biolab we won’t have the hard data to know how much is needed.

    Yes the descendants of the wise men that argued against Columbus are alive and well and posting on discussion boards today. Their “expert” opinions deserve the same respect that Queen Isabella gave her wise men 500 years ago.

    Sheesh…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ November 8th, 2009 at 5:02 am

    That’s why you make a lunar base a lot roomier by adding 100 meter plus inflatable biodomes for parks and recreation. But again, there would be nothing stopping you from going onto the lunar surface once and a while..

    Marcel.

    yeah and had the people at Jamestown had skyscrapers then less of them would have died.

    I think that you’re heart is in the right place but you have a series of unrealistic political assumptions coupled with very unrealistic technical exceptions and now unrealistic people ones.

    I’ll leave the political ones aside, we have talked about that. But the technical and personal ones are in my view coupled together.

    The BEST absolute BEST our technology can do for a price that is not even but just barely affordable is not “100 meter biodomes” it is a bunch of ISS look alike modules probably covered with regolith with limited power and other consumables barely hanging on in the environment it is put in AND WITH A MASSIVE SUPPLY TRAIN FROM EARTH.

    That last part alone separates it from almost every other “colony” effort that human kind has attempted. The settlers at Jamestown for instance could in theory (but I agree probably not in fact) survived had their never been another supply ship from England. There is Zero chance that in our lifetime that will ever be the case for the Moon or space…at any price much less one that is affordable (Lets build the Starship Enterprise).

    There is no hint in our history as a people of how “settlements” evolve in environments where at least for a bit everything has to be imported for day to day survival. The environments ON EARTH where everything for survival has to be imported (air etc) are almost settlement free (underwater) or have settlements that are accomplished because the “resupply” is so cheap (The south pole) and even then not everything has to come (O2, water). It would be easier to go to the middle of the Saraha and try and set up a settlement, you dont have to import O2 or the machines to make it.

    To go into space very “settlement” has to start with bringing 100 percent of everything you need, even if you try to use local resources.

    I dont have a clue, and neither do you how we will evolve socially to accept that. I dont know many people who want to live in a nuclear submarine for the rest of their lives…and yet when it comes to power etc they have far more of it then ISS does.

    Hence any “goal” Of space settlement while nice…is like a goal of warp drive. So far away from our abilities that the evolution time line is just not conceivable.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Anon wrote @ November 8th, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    If that is not NASA’s mission then its all the more argument to shut them down and create a new agency with a focus on space settlement instead of merely space science and technology..

    that is only if you think space settlement is 1) viable technically 2) viable politically and 3 viable socially.

    there is no evidence of any of that NOW

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    NASA Fan

    I am a fan of James Burke and “Connections”. in part because my non technical background is a wierd combination of History and Political Science…I love to watch the ways that things evolve and in essence create a completly new society every so often.

    Making things possible that were unimaginable decades ago. The trick in society trying to move into the future is to not get to committed to things which cannot evolve as time moves on.

    Hence while the French building the Maginot line seemed perfectly reasonable (although even in that discussion there should have been some warning signs about leaving your back door open) at the time they were discussed, what few considered was that technological advances were going to make Maneuver warfare far more lethal.

    this gets even more “true” as the build times and lifespans imagined get longer. Buffy the Vampire slayer (the B52) has lasted in its role because its role while having evolved has not had the radical change that was predicted.

    All the “exploration” themes that I have seen from NASA (and that includes Constellation) EXIST and are BASED ON they theory and in fact they enforce it…that what we are doing today is what we are going to be doing, with much the same technologies 30 years from now.

    Not even the FAA operates under that theory.

    I like flexible path, not only for the changes it should allow to be incorporated into NASA…but I like it because it starts TECHNOLOGY EVOLVING and allows us to see where that evolution takes us.

    Connections…

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    I didn’t say to start transporting a million people to the Moon next year. The first lunar settlements will be small and should be small. We need to learn how to efficiently extract oxygen and possibly water from the lunar regolith. We need to make sure that humans can actually survive and reproduce for several years under a 1/6 gravity environment. We need to be able to import hydrocarbon materials from small asteroids to the lunar surface. We need to know how efficiently we can grow food on the lunar surface.

    But you can’t do any of those things by simply sitting at home and dreaming about it. And that’s all NASA has done since the end of the Apollo era in 1972– just dream about it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ November 8th, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Robert G. Oler

    I didn’t say to start transporting a million people to the Moon next year. The first lunar settlements will be small and should be small. We need to learn how to efficiently extract oxygen and possibly water from the lunar regolith. We need to make sure that humans can actually survive and reproduce for several years under a 1/6 gravity environment. We need to be able to import hydrocarbon materials from small asteroids to the lunar surface. We need to know how efficiently we can grow food on the lunar surface.

    why? Why should we spend a buck a dollar particularly when we have failing infrastructure “HERE” on any of those things?

    Robert G. Oler

  • brobof

    Whilst agreeing that a Moon (and by extension Mars) “settlement” program is unlikely in the short term; “never” even when mitigated by an “almost certainly” is a dangerous thing to commit to print. Even by such distinguished poster as Major Tom. Clarke’s first law and all that…

    “We actually don’t know that.” (Actually we do!)
    “Based on the individual threat assessments above a lunar regolith barrier/shield of 1-2 meters would serve to provide adequate overall protection for a lunar crew within a lunar habitat. Since using such a lunar regolith barrier/shield instead of other types of shields provides several advantages along with a few consequences each must be addressed/considered prior to its use.”
    Nancy J Lindsey http://www.rcktmom.com/njlworks/LunarRegolithPprenvi2.html

    Although whilst willing to risk it with two metres, this space cadet would spend some of his tele-operations time in building it up to five!

    In wild hand waving optimism to the somewhat negative sentiments expressed on this thread: this space cadet sees a lunar base /settlement initially as a shelter (‘Bots need protection too!) …then human base camp(s) supporting robotic village(s); then a permanent tele-robotic operations and repair station and thence to a space tourist ‘hotel’ at some choice locale. By the time the first elements of a mass driver are being built we will certainly ‘see’ the first human conceived on the Moon. And once the mass driver is built… As O’Neill calculated, the mass of structure: Island Three is more than enough to mitigate all but the most violent of GCR. In which, btw the Earth is not a perfect defence! And that’s not counting the radiation induced cancers courtesy of the various tests and accidents; let alone those statistically attributed to background radiation. It’s not safe anywhere. Unless one lives in a cave!

    “At sea level the exposure rate is ~0.03 μSv h-1[4]. At typical commercial jet aircraft altitudes of 9-12 km (30 000-40 000 ft) the exposure rates increase to ~5-10 μSv h-1 [6]. At Concorde flight altitudes, and those of various proposed high speed commercial passenger aircraft (about 18-20 km or 59 000-65 000 ft), the estimated dose equivalent rates are ~10-20 μSv h-1 [7], in good agreement with the measurements on Concorde reported by Davies [8] in 1993. Recent measurements on Concorde, for the month of October 1996, are 14.1 μSv h-1 [9]. At flight altitudes above 3 km (10 000 ft) the dominant contributor to the effective dose is from secondary neutrons [6].”

    http://www.iop.org/EJ/abstract/0952-4746/21/1/003

    To return to the topic at hand it would seem that some of the posters here are still in the old cold war (Cx) mindset of America going it alone. The real paradigm change of the HSF report (IMHO) is putting IP’s in the path of criticality. Just as the fallout of the dying days of the Apollo program: Apollo-Soyuz eventually led to the ISS, a truly international ISS will lead to an international Cis (and Trans) Lunar Commonwealth. Perhaps by the equitable exploration and exploitation of near space we humans can learn to equitably exist on this planet. Now there’s your reason for HSF.

    “But I also don’t believe that space policy and programs are well-served when they’re driven by scifi fantasies of human (as in homo sapiens) settlement or colonization of space.” [Major Tom]
    Sorry to nitpick Major but this SF fan strongly objects to this oxymoron. There is SF. And there is Fantasy. If the science is fantastic then it’s Fantasy. Sorry.

    Finally one could argue that the settlement began with “One small step for (a) man!” After all look how long it has taken since the L’Anse aux Meadows colony (or Clovis for that matter) to found a mature stable “Nation amongst Nations.”

    In the long term. Galactic scale long term! Agreed. Humanity will have evolved beyond anything recognisable as ‘human’ but perhaps the Singularity style A.I.s will keep a few of the original model for sentimental reasons!

    David Gordon Lermit (In the interests of full disclosure :)

  • Doug Lassiter

    “But you can’t do any of those things by simply sitting at home and dreaming about it. And that’s all NASA has done since the end of the Apollo era in 1972– just dream about it.”

    Let’s see. The picture you’re painting is that if you aren’t launching people toward a colony in space, then you’re just sitting at home and dreaming. Actually, that’s not true in two ways. Firstly, NASA has done a lot during the time that it hasn’t been launching people toward colonies in space. Secondly, what makes you think that NASA has been dreaming about sending people out to colonies in space? People in our space agency has been dreaming about going places we’ve never gone, and understanding things we never could have conceived of. Colonization has never, NEVER been a mandate for the agency.

    As to scrapping the Space Act, shutting down NASA, and perhaps creating a NSCA (National Space Colonization Agency), with a new Space Act that defines the purpose of that agency as “Get us outta here!!”, I look forward to seeing the expressions on the faces of all the taxpayers who are being asked to pay for it. That sounds like something from a Letterman monologue!

  • @ Robert G. Oler

    “why? Why should we spend a buck a dollar particularly when we have failing infrastructure “HERE” on any of those things?”

    Because when you live in earthquake country like California, you invest in things that will enhance your survival just in case that once in a century or once in a thousand year event occurs. We live on a planet where species are subject to catastrophic mass extinctions due to extraterrestrial impacts. We also live on a planet where many new nations before the end of the century like China, India, Pakistan, Japan and maybe even Iran may also have the nuclear arsenal that will give them the power of life and death over the entire planet like the US and Russia.

    It would be extremely foolish to confine human civilization solely to the surface of the Earth during the rest of this century and beyond.

  • Anon

    @Doug Lassiter,

    “Colonization has never, NEVER been a mandate for the agency.”

    So Kennedy’s great speech about sailing a “New Ocean” that recalled the Pilgrims was just a bunch of lies… On the other hand you may have just identified why the majority of Americans don’t care about space.

    America is a nation forged on the frontier. When Kennedy compare the conquest of space to opening a new frontier NASA had adequate funding. When we got stuck in LEO and the public realized opening a new frontier was no longer on NASA’s agenda the funding also dried up. Now New Space, not NASA, carries the dream forward.

    “I look forward to seeing the expressions on the faces of all the taxpayers who are being asked to pay for it.’

    I would like to see the faces of taxes payers when the realize that has NOT been NASA’s goal. That all NASA has been doing is providing welfare for scientists to discover useless knowledge like the weather on Jupiter. Bet they ask NASA for a refund of their money. I know I would like one for the last 30 years NASA has wasted not opening the high frontier.

    Yes, close NASA and give the money to New Space. Or offer a prize of $20 billion to the first couple to have a baby on the Moon. That will get people moving.

  • @Doug Lassiter

    “Colonization has never, NEVER been a mandate for the agency. ”

    And that’s the core of the problem. People tend to view NASA as a program designed for an elite few instead of a program designed to pioneer the solar system so that the rest of us can also take part in colonizing the New Frontier. NASA hates the idea of space tourist visiting the ISS but the public loves it! That’s because we want to travel into space and to the Moon too!

    If NASA’s manned space program was a colonization program designed to build the infrastructure that would eventually allow private industry and the rest of us full access to the New Frontier then they would be showered with tens of billions of extra dollars annually from the Congress.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Anon wrote @ November 8th, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    @Doug Lassiter,

    “Colonization has never, NEVER been a mandate for the agency.”

    So Kennedy’s great speech about sailing a “New Ocean” that recalled the Pilgrims was just a bunch of lies…

    I would suggest that we are in fact sailing “the new ocean” in quite a vigorous way.

    The problem with space flight (and this thread reflects it) is the mentallity that has emerged since JFK’s speech that “sailing the new ocean” is akin to settling the west, discovering America, colonizing Africa or whatever examples we have come to in the past. This has been accelerated by the folks who have other (well meaning) agenda’s and then there are those whose agenda is not so well.

    “Space is a place” so a lot of people, particularly enthsiast think “my stars we should settle there”…perhaps but maybe not.

    We dont have colonies on the bottom of the ocean or even on the ocean…mostly our machines (some with humans on them) do work there and then the machines return to land and teh humans get off. But we find the ocean extremly useful.

    That might be where space is. Our robots do wonderful things for us there, we have some temporary presence there but so far I have not heard a single person come back from ISS and say “I want to live there the rest of my life”. There is little different from right now living on a nuclear submarine and what life in space would be like and yet no one is trying to live on a nuclear submarine…

    Most people’s view of what space life would be like is an odd amalgamation of their political views of an ideal world…and fantasy from movies/tv shows.

    I would argue we are “sailing the new ocean” quite well

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ November 8th, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    @Doug Lassiter

    “Colonization has never, NEVER been a mandate for the agency. ”

    And that’s the core of the problem. People tend to view NASA as a program designed for an elite few instead of a program designed to pioneer the solar system so that the rest of us can also take part in colonizing the New Frontier. NASA hates the idea of space tourist visiting the ISS but the public loves it! That’s because we want to travel into space and to the Moon too! ..

    really? Can you stay inside your house or apartment for six months?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ November 8th, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    @ Robert G. Oler

    “why? Why should we spend a buck a dollar particularly when we have failing infrastructure “HERE” on any of those things?”

    Because when you live in earthquake country like California, you invest in things that will enhance your survival just in case that once in a century or once in a thousand year event occurs……….

    No absolutely not. there is no comparison with investment in earthquake technologies in earthquake prone areas that affect millions…with the investment in technologies that dont.

    I dont walk around worried or dealing with the chance that a 747 is going to crash on my head…about the same odds as an asteroid doing armageddon

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom,

    I ask them to leave immediately when they make such posts or ad hominem arguments.

    Such comment is the epitome of your arrogance and boorishness. You are not the administrator of this blog. And you have no right to ask anyone to leave this discussion or any other discussion. You are participant only. No one holds a gun to your head forcing you to respond to each and every comment. Try eating some humble pie for a change.

  • NASA Fan

    @ Marcel: Regarding the public’s desire to travel into space.

    I don’t think in my life time I have ever heard any of my acquaintances, out side of NASA circle, mention anything about their desire to live on a desolate rock, underground, protected from radiation, or aboard an LEO space station.

    Marcel, I think you are projecting your wishes and desires, which are fine for you to have, onto the rest of humanity.

    I for one would much rather live, work and die right here on Mother Earth that on the moon.

    And if humanity were facing a catastrophic civilization ending collision with a NEO, well, I think I would go sit on a mountain and watch it happen. Beats being stranded on a moon somewhere.

  • Major Tom:

    I’m sorry, but I no longer have patience for folks whose posts almost always lack even one accurate or factual statement and/or who immediately resort to ad hominem arguments after their posts are corrected. I ask them to leave immediately when they make such posts or ad hominem arguments.

    With respect, please be careful. You’re getting dangerously close to intolerance of viewpoints you may not agree with. I emphatically disagree with the “automate science” crowd, but they have every right to state their views, however wrong I think they are. I would expect them to defend my right to my views.

    When humanity had no other choice. The difference is that we do now. Absent Earth becoming uninhabitable, it’s hard to see anyone making the choice to live out 97-98% of their life confined to metal (or polyethylene) cans underground and committing their children and their children’s children to the same fate.

    This view is not supported by history, where various groups of humanity have been willing to do exactly this for any number of reasons. Specifically, a number of people have “volunteered” for a one-way trip to Mars given reasonable chances of survival there. Radiation protection should be relatively easy on Mars, now that we know even some or the mid-latitude planes have sheets of ice just under the surface dust. Many people have committed their children (even after they exist) to extremely harsh conditions. If people did not make these choices, we would not have spread out over much of the surface of the Earth.

    Rightly or wrongly, there does seem to be a quasi-religious cultural drive to expand into space, a “religion” I freely admit to sharing. History suggests that if there is motivation, and a task is possible, there is at least some chance it will be accomplished (and I believe I am under-stating my case, here).

    Robert, I am not aware of a whole lot you would need that is not available in some form on Mars aside from trace minerals and and trace neutreants, and plant starts (realistically, probably many decades of the latter until the inevitable failures are weeded out). There is water, carbon, metals, glasses, and so on. Please provide a list. . . .

    – Donald

  • sc220

    @Robert

    I think a lot of us Flexible Path advocates will agree that humankind’s destiny is in the stars. But when and how we get there is debatable. Insisting that we have human footprints on the surfaces of the Moon or Mars as our very next goal is counterproductive by forcing us into huge development extravaganzas with no near-term results. It is far better to start now with the infrastructure we have, and demonstrate that humans at destinations beyond LEO has lasting benefits.

    It’s interesting how us Flexees find themselves defending human space flight, while still recognizing the need for ultimate contributions to space science and the value of robotic technology.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Donald F. Robertson wrote @ November 8th, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    This view is not supported by history, where various groups of humanity have been willing to do exactly this for any number of reasons. Specifically, a number of people have “volunteered” for a one-way trip to Mars given reasonable chances of survival there…

    actually Donald I think that Major Tom’s view is supported by history.

    The people who have “volunteered” for a one way trip to Mars are nuts and in my view not representative of the human race or its better qualities.

    I agree that humanity goes places where “hardship” is expected. The settlement of the US continent is in my view a testament to that. But very very quickly no matter what is “encountered” upon arrival the drive is to make what is into what was back where they came from or perhaps some modification of what was left behind.

    I’ve been to the settlements at Jamestown or Williamsburg and seen “representations” of the ones in Mass, and I’ve been to the homestead in TExas where the “Olers” first landed (grin)…and Jamestown “looks” a lot like life looked like in England. The folks might have started “in tents” but very quickly they morphed into a “life” that on the face of it was a lot like back where they came from (BTW the video at Williamsburg is a great see…it is the same one Jack Lord is in it, but they have done digital magic on it).

    I dont see Americans use to the type of lifestyle we have pushing forward to a lifestyle in “cans” on a permenant basis. Heck that doesnt even work when our military deploys.

    We might start in Tents (and under Mr. Bush the military stayed there far to long…nice to slam him again! LOL) but before long there is Taco Bell.

    “Robert, I am not aware of a whole lot you would need that is not available in some form on Mars”

    OK I didnt make my point well…my fault. Say we invent this wonderful machine that takes carbon dioxide adds power and turns out O2. First no where in history so far have have humans settled on a permanent basis somewhere that we had to make our own O2.

    But say Mars is special. People just are all hoped up to go there. If parts start breaking on the machine can we make them on Mars?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    NASA Fan wrote @ November 8th, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    And if humanity were facing a catastrophic civilization ending collision with a NEO, well, I think I would go sit on a mountain and watch it happen. Beats being stranded on a moon somewhere…

    and the point is larger then that.

    There is little or no chance that in the next 100-200 years we will develop a space infrastructure that will allow anyone on the Moon to live long after Earth is wiped out.

    If after the boat arrived at Jamestown the Bubonic plagued wiped out all of Europe, the folks who made it to Jamestown have a fighting chance for survival…if we had 100 people on the Moon and Earth went off the screens, they would be dead as well.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    sc220 wrote @ November 8th, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    @Robert

    I think a lot of us Flexible Path advocates will agree that humankind’s destiny is in the stars. But when and how we get there is debatable…

    Yes to the entire post you wrote.

    I find a lot of things about space ‘advocates” bizarre…

    1. Life will be different in space then it is on earth. Whittington had a piece up on his web site that had a Mars base with low taxes and some sort of participatory government kind of like townhall style government. It is going to be like no where on the industrialized Earth.

    2. There are a lot of people wanting to move into space or the Moon or Mars or wherever (they always leave out Mercury and I like Mercury!) Most of the people who say that would go crazy 20 hours afloat in a nuclear submarine.

    3. Somehow 2001 a space odessy is just around the corner.

    and of course

    4. NASA will get us there. or should anyway.

    It is sort of fantasy island sort of stuff.

    I like flexible path. It has a lot of potential for evolution and that is good.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Say we invent this wonderful machine that takes carbon dioxide adds power and turns out O2.

    Such a machine was invented hundreds of millions of years ago. It’s called a photosynthetic plant. There’s no reason to think they wouldn’t grow off earth, given sunlight and radiation protection.

  • Major Tom

    “So now you are claiming that NASA is spreading urban myths…”

    No, that’s not what I wrote. I asked “Are you sure this isn’t an urban myth?” I wasn’t certain myself. I certainly didn’t claim that “NASA is spreading urban myths.”

    Please don’t puts words in other posters’ mouths. Respond to what they actually wrote, not what you think they wrote.

    “‘Before the flight, some experts were worried that, in weightlessness food would be hard to swallow and as a result, collect in the throat.’”

    That’s a very vague reference. It would be interesting to know who these “experts” were. Again, given that humans can swallow while standing on their heads, I have a hard time believing that any medical doctor or PhD researcher lost sleep wondering whether astronauts would be able to swallow in microgravity.

    I don’t have a counter reference, so maybe it’s not an urban myth. But absent any details, it still certainly resembles one.

    “the scientific ‘facts’ you are spreading on this bulletin board arguing humans could never reproduce on the Moon.

    I never said that humans could never reproduce on the Moon. I wrote that there would be “enormous reproductive risks in lower gravity environments.”

    Again, please don’t puts words in other posters’ mouths. Respond to what they actually wrote, not what you think they wrote.

    “but then the kids of future lunar settlers will probably say the same about the scientific “facts” you are spreading on this bulletin board arguing humans could never reproduce on the Moon.”

    Look, if you don’t want to deal with reality, I can’t make you. But the reality is that (the scientific “facts” are) in a low gravity environment:

    The reproductive organs of plants become sterile…

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11541358

    Invertebrate embryos exhibit bent legs, dropping movement, and looping behavior after birth…

    http://sciencelinks.jp/j-east/article/200005/000020000599A0852524.php

    Mice embryos have trouble with cell division and maturation, inhibiting implantation in the uterine wall…

    http://sciencestage.com/resources/detrimental-effects-microgravity-mouse-preimplantation-development-vitro

    If we’re already getting these kinds of bad reproductive results across such a range of lower lifeforms, the effects are not going to be less benign in higher lifeforms like humans with more complex embryonic development cycles. It’s highly unlikely that humans will be able to safely reproduce in low gravity environments. Your “kids of future lunar settlers” are most likely never going to be conceived (like the plants), get past the blatocyst stage (like the mice embryos that don’t implant in the uterine wall), or are going to be born with severe defects (like the invertebrate embryos). Or all three.

    To be brutally honest, it’s hard to see any woman in her right mind, of her own free will, and with access to this kind of information ever taking on these risks for herself or for her children. And it’s nearly impossible to see any medical ethics board ever allowing such risks to be taken.

    And we still havn’t tackled the radiation risks associated with reproduction in the space environment. Just to to make a two-year trip to Mars safe, experts are now talking about screening astronauts for radiation resistance in the near-term and genetic engineering in the long-term. See:

    http://commercialspacegateway.com/item/34382-future-outposts-beyond-leo-require-r-d

    If that’s what’s needed just for a two-year trip to Mars, forget reproducing safely outside the Earth’s environment without massive genetic or technological intervention. Given the limitations of our bodies and the severe challenges that the space environment poses to our bodies, our species is probably not going to settle space, but maybe our genetically and/or technologically altered descendent species will.

    Again, I can’t make you deal with reality. You can believe whatever you want. But a faith-based argument only gets you so far.

    “There is a huge difference between microgravity and the gravity levels found on the Moon and Mars.”

    It’s still a small fraction — 1/6th to 1/3rd — of the Earth’s gravity. It’s unlikely that most, or even some, of these risks will disappear in such low gravity environments.

    And if we just think about the biochemistry, the proteins we’re made of evolved to fold in a 1g environment. We already know that at least some of those proteins are going fold in different ways when that environment is taken away. Try to build the same organism from modified proteins and, well, you get a different, likely unviable, organism.

    And again, we still havn’t tackled the radiation risks associated with reproduction in the space environment.

    “I say lets build a base on the Moon and try the same experiments”

    Running experiments in 1/6g is fine, but we don’t need a Moon base to do it. A centrifuge in Earth orbit (as once planned for the ISS) would do the trick.

    And even if you want to do it on the Moon, the reproductive cycle of plants, flies, mice, and other biological test subjects is short enough to observe using a telerobotic mission or a short crewed mission. There’s no reason to build a lunar base for this purpose.

    “again to see if your wild unsupported guesses”

    Converging results from multiple tests using different subject populations are hardly wild, unsupported, or guesses. See above.

    “As for radiation. Moving regolith is merely an engineering issue.”

    No, it’s not. On Earth, we can only model and estimate the extent to which regolith will mitigate cosmic ray damage. Experiments still need to be carried out at the Moon. The secondary radiation from spalling effects, for example, may be a showstopper.

    And this still doesn’t address the social issue of whether anyone in their right mind would live in a can underground for nearly all of their life as long as the alternative of living on Earth was available to them.

    “until we build a Moon base with a biolab”

    We don’t need a lunar base or a biolab to test regolith shielding. Pile larger and larger amounts of regolith over a suite of radiation detectors and radio the data back to Earth.

    “Or to [sic] amend the NASA Act so the agency has a goal the taxpayers could identify with.”

    Taxpayers don’t identify with research to make the aircraft they fly on safer, less noisy, and more efficient?

    Taxpayers don’t identify with the Mars rovers, which is why their children sent in thousands of entries for the latest rover naming contest?

    Taxpayers don’t identify with various Hubble photos and discoveries, which is why they routinely run on the front pages of newspapers?

    Really?

    “The flexible path does match the Obama administration in that any little thing done could be claimed as a “first” even if it has no significance. i.e. the first humans to 300,000 miles from Earth, first to 310,000 miles…”

    Those aren’t the firsts named in the final report of the Augustine Committee under the Flexible Path options.

    If you’re going to criticize a document, you should actually read it and critique what is actually written in it, not what you think is written in it.

    “As for visits to NEO, you will find that those will push the limits of technology far more then a moon base.”

    A false statement. A “moon base” requires landers, habitats, rovers, and life support systems that can operate reliably for years. A NEO mission requires none of those things.

    “And cost a lot more”

    Another false statement. If you had bothered to read the final report of the Augustine Committee, the Committee put asteroid missions ahead of lunar missions in the Flexible Path options precisely because they don’t carry the added cost of landers. They’re cheaper and can be afforded within a given budget earlier.

    “for little value other then a few more rocks to lock in the NASA vault.”

    Those small rocks belong to bigger rocks that will someday threaten a city, a continent, or civilization on this planet. Knowing how those smaller rocks make up those bigger rocks will be crucial to redirecting the bigger rock away from Earth. That arguably has inestimable value.

    “Its will be hard to argue to anyone other then a space geek that astronauts visiting space rocks are exploring new worlds”

    You do know that some of those NEO “space rocks” are tens of kilometers in diameter, right?

    “especially when the Chinese, Russians and or Indians are walking on the Moon.”

    And the schedule for that is?

    “Yes the descendants of the wise men that argued against Columbus are alive and well and posting on discussion boards today. Their ‘expert’ opinions deserve the same respect that Queen Isabella gave her wise men 500 years ago.”

    Columbus wasn’t trying to settle anything. He promised the Spanish royalty that he’d find a new trade route to the East Indies. And in that goal, he failed and the experts were right.

    “So Kennedy’s great speech about sailing a “New Ocean” that recalled the Pilgrims was just a bunch of lies…”

    Learn some policy history. Kennedy started Apollo to beat the Soviets in a Cold War competition, not out of some vague sense that the United States wanted to sail a “‘New Ocean’”. See:

    http://history.nasa.gov/moondec.html

    “When Kennedy compare [sic] the conquest of space to opening a new frontier NASA had adequate funding. When we got stuck in LEO and the public realized opening a new frontier was no longer on NASA’s agenda the funding also dried up.”

    This statement confuses cause and effect. Apollo funding started ramping down in the mid-1960s, years before the Space Shuttle decision that restricted NASA to LEO for decades to come.

    “Now New Space, not NASA, carries the dream forward.”

    Public or private sector, we’re all subject to the same laws of physics and biology. A commercial rocket may be more cost effective, arrive on a more rapid schedule, and/or operate more safely, but it doesn’t address the key issues that will likely prevent our species (but not necessarily our descendent species) from settling space.

    FWIW…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand…nice.

    All the equipment to grow the plants, the plants, and the environment that they grow in

    There is not a single planet in the solar system whose soil would support plant growth.

    Unlike the folks at Jamestown, who could just bring seeds.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “Such comment is the epitome of your arrogance and boorishness.”

    Thanks for proving my point. In the very first sentence of your very first post in this thread, you jumped right into an ad hominem attack.

    Please go away…

    (For the record, I wasn’t even referring to you in my response to Mr. Robertson. There’s usually some true statements in your posts and you usually wait until the second or third exchange before you start with the ad hominem attacks.)

    Oy vey…

  • Martijn Meijering

    4. NASA will get us there. or should anyway.

    @Marcel Williams:

    That’s a big one. If you want colonisation (not very likely in my opinion, especially within the lifetime of anyone alive today, nor particularly desirable) then you need to open up LEO first. Large numbers of people being launched to space each year and large numbers of people in space at the same aren’t going to happen on a government budget. The only way that can happen is if people start spending their own money on this. And that can only happen if the cost to orbit on the open market is reduced by at least an order of magnitude.

    If you want this to happen, then you need to stop drooling over some SDLV because it would be one of the biggest obstacles. For costs to come down, commercial flight rates need to go up first. The simplest way to achieve that would be with small commercial launchers launching propellant to a LEO depot.

    SDLV is fundamentally incompatible with commercial development of space, let alone colonisation.

  • Major Tom

    “With respect, please be careful. You’re getting dangerously close to intolerance of viewpoints you may not agree with.”

    See my last post for what I’m intolerant of. It’s not the poster’s viewpoint.

    “‘Absent Earth becoming uninhabitable, it’s hard to see anyone making the choice to live out 97-98% of their life confined to metal (or polyethylene) cans underground and committing their children and their children’s children to the same fate.’

    This view is not supported by history, where various groups of humanity have been willing to do exactly this for any number of reasons.”

    Can you cite an example? I don’t know of an instance where humans have lived by choice in such a highly restricted environment for so much of their lives when alternatives were available.

    “a number of people have ‘volunteered’ for a one-way trip to Mars given reasonable chances of survival there.”

    I guess it depends on what you mean by “survival”. Cancer from cosmic ray radiation will shorten lifetimes to single digit, maybe low double digit, years. Maybe there are folks who would willingly shorten their lifetimes so much and die so painfully in order to see Mars. But that’s not settlement — no one is living out a long, natural life or rearing children in that situation. They’re just very, very committed professionals and/or tourists.

    “Radiation protection should be relatively easy on Mars, now that we know even some or the mid-latitude planes have sheets of ice just under the surface dust.”

    You lost me there. What do ice caps have to do with radiation?

    “Rightly or wrongly, there does seem to be a quasi-religious cultural drive to expand into space, a “religion” I freely admit to sharing.”

    I would just caution all the adherents of the faith (myself included) to carefully examine what science tells us is highly unlikely to take place versus what is more possible. The adaptation of our bodies to the Earth’s environment and the extremely high challenges posed by the space environment make living out lifetimes and reproduction off Earth highly unlikely for homo sapiens. But that doesn’t mean that we won’t take charge of our evolution and potentially enable the descendents of homo sapiens to settle space.

    Speaking to an layman archeologist, if you look at the radiative patterns of the homo genus out of Africa, evolution of the human form was a necessary development. Neanderthals and a lot of other members of our family tree failed before homo sapiens succeeded. Against the much more radically different environment of space, even more radical evolution will probably be necessary. Luckily, consciousness and science provides us with the tools necessary to enable and hasten such developments along, assuming our social systems can ever support such.

    FWIW…

  • Robert:

    There is not a single planet in the solar system whose soil would support plant growth.

    1. Uh, I believe the Phoenix lander scientists said the soil found at that site could support plants with very little modification.

    2. It has been a long time since soil was required to grow plants.

    3. Plants are regularly grown on the ISS (though it took decades of mostly Russian experiments to figure out how to do it). It is a safe bet that more needs to be imported to the ISS than to, say, Mars, and that the ISS is a more alien environment to terrestrial plants than a similar structure on the surface of Mars. If we can do it at the ISS, we can do it on Mars. These are hardly insurmountable problems. In my opinion, Major Tom is on far stronger ground with his radiation environments.

    As for the historic ability and willingness of people to attempt the near-impossible, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree, although almost everyone reading these words is evidence for my case. I will agree that, most probably and again on historic grounds, it won’t be middle class Americans (or middle class anyone) who do it. (No one today would be willing to endure conditions on a 17th Century sailing ship for minutes, let alone for many months, but people did just that. People even volunteered for it. People colonized places like Arizona where you have to import or create just about everything but the air, and seem to live quite happily there (though I would never want to).) Likewise, while it is true that some cultures try to re-create their “home environment” at their destination, they are not the ones who do well. A modern American town in Arizona has very little in common with the European village the ancestors of its inhabitants most likely came from. The very point in colonizing alien environments is to enable cultural experimentation.

    With respect, Robert, I believe it is you (or at least your arguments) who do not “represent the better qualities” of the human species (biology 101: we are not a “race”).

    Lest we forget, the only environment humans are evolutionarily adapted to is “Mediterranean scrub” found in parts of Africa, southern Europe, and California. Every place else we live, we’ve either adapted to or adapted it to us. Yet, somehow, we’ve colonized most of the land surface of our world. Impossible, yes, but we did it anyway — and that is the best and distinguishing quality of humanity as a species.

    – Donald

  • Major Tom

    “‘We actually don’t know that.’ (Actually we do!)

    ‘Based on the individual threat assessments above a lunar regolith barrier/shield of 1-2 meters would serve to provide adequate overall protection for a lunar crew within a lunar habitat.’”

    The estimates in that paper are for crews living temporarily on the Moon, based on short-term (rems per month) radiation limits for nuclear workers. They’re not based on long-term or lifetime radiation limits, which is what would be applicable in the case of a lunar settlement. So no, we don’t know (or at least that paper doesn’t provide such).

    They’re also just estimates. Until we actually run the tests, we not only don’t know the exact thickness of regolith needed, we can’t even be certain that the shielding would work the way we want it to. For example, the interaction of cosmic rays and regolith may create secondary ionizing radiation that’s just as dangerous to the human body as the primary source. So again, no, we don’t know (we can only estimate).

    And then there’s other issues beyond radiation, like safe reproduction in 1/6g, that pose serious obstacles to lunar (or other space) settlement by our species.

    “And that’s not counting the radiation induced cancers courtesy of the various tests and accidents; let alone those statistically attributed to background radiation. It’s not safe anywhere.”

    No doubt. But there’s a difference between health risks that hit a very small percentage of a population and a health risk where nearly everyone’s lifespan is shortened by decades due to cancer. Cosmic rays fall in the latter category.

    “Sorry to nitpick Major but this SF fan strongly objects to this oxymoron. There is SF. And there is Fantasy. If the science is fantastic then it’s Fantasy. Sorry.”

    Fair enough. The point is that it’s fiction, not fact.

    “After all look how long it has taken since the L’Anse aux Meadows colony (or Clovis for that matter) to found a mature stable “Nation amongst Nations.”

    Even measuring from Columbus to the founding of the first settlement in the Americas, the time period was some 78 years, IIRC. It was a few more decades until we had the second and third settlements.

    “In the long term. Galactic scale long term! Agreed. Humanity will have evolved beyond anything recognisable as ‘human’”

    Yes, although I hope it doesn’t take galactic timescales, I’d argue that evolution beyond homo sapiens is probably a necessary precursor to space settlement.

    FWIW…

  • Doug Lassiter

    “”Colonization has never, NEVER been a mandate for the agency.””

    “So Kennedy’s great speech about sailing a ‘New Ocean’ that recalled the Pilgrims was just a bunch of lies”

    A bunch of lies? What in the world did Kennedy’s words have to do with colonization? In fact, what Kennedy said about sailing was

    We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own.

    Space science! It was space science he was talking about! Nothing about pilgrimages or exoduses.

    “America is a nation forged on the frontier. When Kennedy compare the conquest of space to opening a new frontier NASA had adequate funding.”

    Again, read the words in Kennedy’s speech. It isn’t obvious that you have. Go read it. The only time Kennedy used the word “frontier” was when he was comparing outposts of the old West to Houston. Houston was going to be the “furthest outpost on the new frontier of science and space”. So if this was about where people should be living, I guess he was talking, jobs-wise and to the delight of his Texas hosts, about Houston.

    Now I am struck by the comment that “humanity goes places where ‘hardship’ is expected. The settlement of the US continent is in my view a testament to that.” That’s an interesting comment in that it confuses purpose with need. Humanity is actually willing to go to places where hardship is expected in order to eventually make life easier. Humanity doesn’t LIKE to go to places where hardship is expected. It’s all about making life easier, and not about making life harder! Again, one hears in this the dismal echoes of pioneering for the sake of pioneering as, in the case of the U.S., an alleged cultural mandate. But wait. In no respect does it appear that colonization of the solar system is going to make life easier for anyone.

    Bottom line. It simply is not constructive, in advocating human space flight, to go on and on about colonization and survival of the species. Perhaps those are good far term reasons for human space flight if you’re going to do it anyway, but they are not good reasons to do it in the first place, especially for a single nation and a single space agency. The way to make these things happen is to develop the infrastructure to serve near-term needs that could make far term needs possible.

  • NASA Fan

    Humanity will go where it is ‘harder’ to live, if and only if, staying put means extinction; and in this case, one could still argue, that being alive, though no picnic, may be ‘easier’ than extinction.

    I’m with Doug here: humanity is always trying to make life easier to deal with , not harder. Admittedly, sometimes to make things easier, one must put hard work into it, i.e. the hard work and perspiration needed to create an invention to make life easier….

    Folks may be willing to live on a rock, such as the moon, as part of an overall ‘experience adventure vacation, but not as a way of life. Ditto for sub orbital trips.

    Colonizing the stars, however romantic that may be to some,especially Marcel, just isn’t in the gene’s of humanity..IMHO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Martian soil asparagus etc


    Is it really possible to plant asparagus on Mars?
    The first real soil test on Mars of the type that gardeners or farmers often use to evaluate their soil has shown that the soil is a little alkaline, instead of acidic. One of the scientists on the Phoenix team pointed out that asparagus likes soil that is the same pH (the same level of alkalinity) as this sample of soil in the Martian arctic. (In contrast to other plants, such as strawberries, which grow better in soil that is slightly acidic instead of alkaline.) From preliminary analysis, the soil sample also appears to include some soluble minerals that plants could use. However, the temperature at the site is far below freezing, so no asparagus could grow there, and there may be nutrients needed by asparagus that have not yet been assessed in the Martian soil.”

    http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/faq.php

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Donald F. Robertson

    I do not agree with almost all of that (surprise!…but it is a good debate)

    “A modern American town in Arizona has very little in common with the European village the ancestors of its inhabitants most likely came from.”

    Correct, it has a lot in common with the rest of America, which has little incommon with the European village that most of our ancestors came from becuase there has been over 2 centuries of technology. The European villages where our ancestors came from has little in common today with what they looked like 2 centuries ago. They have national health care for instance (sorry couldnt resist…joke).

    Aside from the cultural influence of the region Phoenix looks a whole lot today like Dallas or Houston look which looks a whole lot like Atlanta, which looks a whole lot like Boston.

    Big malls, wide open spaces, lots of concrete roads, cars, air conditioning pro sports teams, etc. American society looks a whole lot the same everywhere, turn on the TV the newscasters all look the same and wear the same outfits.

    “Likewise, while it is true that some cultures try to re-create their “home environment” at their destination, they are not the ones who do well.” that is not correct.

    Cultures that did well as they got to the new world were able to recreate their home environment as a start and then modified it politically, culturally, and otherwise as circumstances dictated.

    the ones that floundered were groups that came over and self induced a variable of “something new” such as a new cultural organization in a situation where there was already enough “new” that was uncontrollable.

    NONE OF THIS changes my point. If we settle the Moon, Mars etc it will be the first time in human history that EVERYTHING needed for the settlement incluiding O2 had to be brought along. Even if plants could grow in the Martian soil (and that is not clear see reference) then it is going to take more then tilling the ground and planting them.

    OK dont like soil use water. Are there Martian streams where the water can be gathered?

    People at least in my family went “west” (to what was then Norte Mexico) not so their standard of living could get worse, but so it could get better.

    Right now survival of colonist at the South Pole is a piece of cake compared to Mars. I can get off the C-130 and breathe the air.

    Robert G. Oler

  • OK dont like soil use water. Are there Martian streams where the water can be gathered?

    There is Martian ice, where the water can be melted.

  • Major Tom: safe reproduction in 1/6g

    So, give birth in a centrifuge. The problem with all the negative views here is that problems that may have simple solutions are being presented as insurmountable barriers. Now, I’m happy to accept that the sheer accumulation of issues may well make true colonization improbable for our generation and, most probably, many to follow (in fact, I fully expect that to be the case). That does not mean it will not be achieved, nor does it mean that, now that we are capable of it, we should not make a small investment in the initial steps today.

    Another place I disagree with you is that evolution “beyond humanity” is required to colonize space. Maybe, but a far more likely outcome is that the very act of trying to colonize space will force rapid evolution on both humanity and the various species that ride into space with us. (Indeed, if some of the microbes we’ve been scattering around the Solar System have found a place to survive, it’s concievable — though unlikely — that it is already happening.)

    Likewise, Robert, if it’s too cold to grow asparagus, add heaters. Import a few (low mass) trace elements and microbes. My partner regularly changes the pH of the soil she works, often adjusting it for each individual plant. Boy, “impossible” has sure become a low barrier! I think you and Major Tom both need to do better than that. . . .

    In addition, we now have a handful of cultures investing in human spaceflight; the chances of one of them somewhere finding a reason to invest more heavily and / or coming up with genuinely new ideas are getting higher. For better or worse, at this point we as a species are extremely unlikely to abandon human spaceflight, and colonization is the best and highest goal for spending that money.

    Doug, I think a reading of MR. Kennidy’s entire speech, and the tone of it, and the culture it was given in, all argue that he was referring to exploration in the wider sense, of which science is an important part and enabler.

    It is easy to say “No, it’s impossible.” It is far harder, but much more constructive, to figure out ways to be able to say, “Yes.” May I suggest that we need a little less of the former and a lot more of the latter.
    If this thread is representative of where the “pro space” community has gone, it is a very sad state of affairs — and, yes, I fully agree that the culture producing these comments is unlikely to expand into space.

    – Donald

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg

    there is “ice” in certain areas and yet again it makes my point.

    EVERYTHING that is needed to make the “ice” functional will have to come from Earth. Not so for an English colonist in NA…he/she didnt have to bring everything from Europe.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert: If we settle the Moon, Mars etc it will be the first time in human history that EVERYTHING needed for the settlement incluiding O2 had to be brought along.

    How can you, a scientifically literate adult, say this? The lunar surface is has no shortage of O2 in the form a oxides. Mars is practically rusted with O2! There are many, many things we need to import to inner Solar System destinations, but in almost all cases, O2 is not one of them. (The outer Solar System with its equilibrium environments may be a different story, but I think we can safely put that one off while we tackle the moon.)

    EVERYTHING that is needed to make the “ice” functional will have to come from Earth.

    Well, EVERYTHING lasted less than an hour! Now, it’s “everything but. . .” Water (oxygen) is the heavest thing we need, and therefore the most imporant. H2 is harder to get (on the moon) but far from impossible. And, we have aluminum, racted to the oxygen, producing rocket thrust, another heavy item. So, we no longer need to import rocket fuel. And, so on. I hope all of our problems have as short a half-life as EVERYTHING did!

    Again, you can do better. Start with radiation: Major Tom at least has a real problem that is hard to solve. You have yet to list one. . . .

    – Donald

  • Robert G. Oler

    Donald F. Robertson

    I didnt say settling Mars was impossible. I’ve never said that. I’ve repeatdly said three things, things that I never get good answers to (and I dont think that they exist right now).

    First. I DONT understand why we would do it, why as a society we would invest the societal resources to tyr and settle another planet, the Moon or some sort of space colony.

    One is going to have to answer this question alone, to motive society to spend the collective resources to do it…; because at this stage in history and probably for a very long time, it cannot be done by just a group of people getting into their space equivalent of a “Conestoga” and going “Wagons ho”.

    There has got to be a reason that society would invest the massive resources to settle space; when those resources would have a far larger magnitude of improving life for a far greater number of society if spent on society here on earth. In shorter term why would we spent dollars in space to change things in space instead of spending them on earth to change things on earth?

    Second. Why would parts of our society, if you could convince society to spend its collective resources want to settle “space” when they could make a far easier go of it at the South Pole?

    Third How would people make a go of it, when for the first time in human history they had to bring everything that they had to need for survival with them?

    There are reasons Don that we have not settled the ocean floor or the South Pole or even some regions of the planet where it is to hot or to cold…all those reasons would be in play, in spades for settlements in space.

    Finally (ignoring Major Tom’s well thought out biological questions; I am not versed enough in the science of the human body to agree or disagree but I agree with his premise that we are a species adapted to one gee)…I just dont think that the American people who are the only people who have the wealth right now…can be convinced of answers to any of the three questions above…starting with number 1.

    I am “pro space” and I dont see the answers.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Donald F. Robertson wrote @ November 9th, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Robert: If we settle the Moon, Mars etc it will be the first time in human history that EVERYTHING needed for the settlement incluiding O2 had to be brought along.

    How can you, a scientifically literate adult, say this? The lunar surface is has no shortage of O2 in the form a oxides. ..

    because you are not seeing my point.

    If I step off the plane at the South Pole I dont need machines to make the O2 for me to breath. I can do the deed with the “Mark 1″ Lungs

    I have to bring Machines to the lunar or Martian surface to get the O2 out of the oxides.

    Again my point…I have to bring EVERYTHING to survive…The colonist at Jamestown did not have to bring machines to make their O2.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Donald F. Robertson wrote @ November 9th, 2009 at 1:54 pm
    So, we no longer need to import rocket fuel…

    no we have to import the machines to make the rocket fuel so we dont import it…and when those machines break, we have to import parts to fix them so we dont have to import the rocket fuel, but that takes more rocket fuel.

    At Jamestown they did not have to import the fuel for the fire or the machines to make it, the oxidizer for the fire or the machines to make it, or the ignition source for the fire or the machines to make it…or the food to cook on the fire or the machines to make it…all the “raw materials” were already there and quite usable in their raw form.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert: why as a society we would invest the societal resources to tyr and settle another planet, the Moon or some sort of space colony.

    Why did we invest money in the ISS? Sure, many of the people supporting it probably knowingly lied about its usefulness, but that doesn’t really answer the question. Why did they consider this an important enough issue to support for any reason? The fact is, there is a minority of Americans, and a probably smaller minority of the world population, that consider this important. As long as they exist, and a minority of powerful politicians listen to them, human spaceflight with colonization as its ultimate goal will continue.

    In recent history (the last few thousan years), human colonization almost never got started for rational reasons; it happened because “religious nuts” (like myself) forced it and found some way to do it or convince someone else to pay for it. Why should it be any different this time?

    One is going to have to answer this question alone, to motive society to spend the collective resources to do it…; because at this stage in history and probably for a very long time, it cannot be done by just a group of people getting into their space equivalent of a “Conestoga” and going “Wagons ho”.

    I don’t think this does have to be answered, because society is demonstrably motivated to spend money on this, and _is_ spending money on it, and I think most poeple here agree that, for better or worse, that is unlikely to change. Only the quantity and methods are likely to change. The ISS was built because some of us want colonize space, whether any of us choose to admit it or not, and a lot of the problems are being addressed there, often unintentionally. As long as we build ISSs and equivallent projects, we are on the road to colonizing space. Yes, it will take a long time, but this is almost certainly a better way to go about it than a specific project (but that’s a thought for another time).

    For some no doubt cultural (or possibly biological) reason, people don’t seem to be that interested in the South pole. They demonstrably are in space explroation. Also, the two are hardly mutually exclusive.

    I have to bring EVERYTHING to survive…

    Why this fetish with O2? Try to exist nakid at the South Pole — or in Arizona or Chicago — for more than a few hours at most times of year. You need to import or adapt EVERYTHING to survive at any of these locations. I agree that the degree is different, but the _kind_ is not.

    – Donald

  • Robert: At Jamestown they did not have to import the fuel for the fire or the machines to make it, the oxidizer for the fire or the machines to make it, or the ignition source for the fire or the machines to make it…or the food to cook on the fire or the machines to make it…all the “raw materials” were already there and quite usable in their raw form.

    Oh, but they did. They had to cut the trees down, dry them, import the ignition source, hunt the food, make the tools to hunt and cook the food — none of those, not a one, was in its “raw form.” Study exactly what it took for a “stone aged” native american to survive in a place like Arizona. They did not do it without a _lot_ of modification to their environment.

    – Donald

  • For some no doubt cultural (or possibly biological) reason, people don’t seem to be that interested in the South pole.

    Partly because the resources of Antarctica have been declared off limits. Pass the Moon Treaty, and see space remain as barren.

  • Rand, while I somewhat agree with you, I also think the issue is more complex than that and the Robert’s comment must be addressed by those of us who do want to colonize space. If humanity, or some group of humanity, really wanted to colonize Antarctica, I don’t think a treaty would stand in their way. Either the treaty would get renegotiated or abrogated, as we did the missile defense treaty.

    On the other hand, it was said at the time that the real motivation for both parties in the Faulklands war was guaranteeing potential access to the resources of Antarctica. If so, we may yet see a human future in Antarctica — even in the absence of climate change making it easier.

    – Donald

  • Robert G. Oler

    Donald F. Robertson

    I think that my fetish with O2 is that without it we all die. Like in under a minute…so having it is important and once one leaves the atmosphere of the earth making it requires a lot of machines…or one has to carry it all.

    ISS had nothing to do with space colonization. The vehicle was on a quick trip to following the superconductor/collider until Bill Clinton and Psycho Dan rescued it for geopolitical means.

    “For some no doubt cultural (or possibly biological) reason, people don’t seem to be that interested in the South pole. They demonstrably are in space explroation.”

    that is the holy grail of space colonist advocates but there is little data to support it. People hardly know who is on the space station (I bet if I went to the McDee’s on NASA Rd 1 and took the kids to lunch that most of the folks there couldnt name me the folks on ISS or even the number of people on board…including the ones with NASA badges).

    People barely tuned in when Messenger went by Mercury.

    They are for the most part no more interested in spaceflight then the south pole…that is the problem.

    But here is the main thrust…


    Try to exist nakid at the South Pole — or in Arizona or Chicago — for more than a few hours at most times of year. ”

    first off that is not correct, ok you could not last at the South pole but here in Houston you could last naked for most of the year. and there is quite a bit of difference between “clothes” for modest protection against the environment and a space suit that is absolutly necessary to keep one alive in the environment.

    My wife likes running around in short skirts, I like her in dress blues…they are both clothes…and we could do with a lot “less”.

    “Oh, but they did. They had to cut the trees down, dry them, import the ignition source, hunt the food, make the tools to hunt and cook the food — none of those, not a one, was in its “raw form.”

    Oh but they did not. Most people in the woods pick up dry wood that has fallen to start fires, know what you are doing (and they did) you could hunt in that era with “local tools” ie snares etc.

    It is a far different thing from machines to keep one alive whose mass is far more then the people…and all of which have to be made and repaired from earth.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert: I have repeatedly addressed your specifics, so I won’t do so again, but I believe you are quite wrong in your whole thrust, here. There is a difference in degree, quantity, and even quality between a space suit and a dress suit. There is no difference in kind. They are different elaborations of essentially the same sets of technologies mostly having to do with fabrics, plastics, and metal working, and have exactly the same purpose, to protect you from a harsh environment. There is no difference in kind whatsoever in creating a dress and sunblock to protect one from the filtered sun on Earth’s surface, and creating a different “dress” to protect you from naked sunlight. The only differences are in scale and technology.

    If humanity can survive in Arizona, we can survive on Earth’s moon and Mars — at least as far as the key resources and protective technologies are concerned. Moreover, we have demonstrated all of them in at least prototype form on the ISS.

    Once again, Major Tom is on far stronger ground by addressing radiation and gravity — even though I believe he far over-states his case. I believe you don’t even have a case.

    – Donald

  • Doug Lassiter

    “The ISS was built because some of us want colonize space, whether any of us choose to admit it or not”

    That’s kind of a shocking claim, and I really can’t see any facts to back it up. Can you show me anywhere in any of the ISS development documents or policy papers the words “colonize space”? Colonization is a loaded word, implying reproduction, families, economy, etc. If the ISS was built to do that, it was a well hidden agenda, and it failed utterly and completely. No, the ISS wasn’t built because of what “some of us” wanted to do.

    “In recent history (the last few thousan years), human colonization almost never got started for rational reasons; it happened because “religious nuts” (like myself) forced it and found some way to do it or convince someone else to pay for it.”

    That’s absurd as well. The Brits didn’t have a rational reason for colonization of America? The Dutch didn’t have rational reasons for colonizing the Caribbean? The Spanish in Mexico? None of these were “religious nuts”. There was power to be exercised, and resources to enrich. Power and greed, that’s what it was about. They had reasons that were explicitly national needs. Our country may well have national needs that can be served by human space flight, but we’ve had a dreadful time trying to establish them.

  • Doug:

    In Jamestown to use Robert’s example, the initial effort at colonization was certainly started by religious nuts. Only once an initial destination established, did more rational economic interests move in. Much the same was certainly true in Mexico (and my own San Francisco). And, the Spanish colonizers were nuts by any reasonable meaning of the term.

    From Mr. Reagan’s 25th January 1984 speach announcing the Space Station project:

    Our second great goal is to build on America’s pioneer spirit…and that’s to develop that frontier . . . We can follow our dreams to distant stars, living and working in space for peaceful, economic, and scientific gain. Tonight, I am directing NASA to develop a permanently manned space station and to do it within a decade. . . . Just as the oceans opened up a new world for clipper ships and Yankee traders, space holds enormous potential for commerce today.

    There was a lot of stuff to justify this, mostly wrong as it turned out, but this is the meat of it: what was meant to pull the strings of frontier-addled Americans, and it was certainly not “well hidden.” I rest my case.

    – Donald

  • Robert G. Oler

    Donald F. Robertson

    there is a vast difference between the suits my wife wears for fashion and the one she wears as she flies the plane pulling gees. One is for looks and the other is for survival.

    Leave the Earths atmosphere and unless you are inside a pressure hull, you have to be in a suit or you are dead in pretty quick order. That was not accurate if you were in Jamestown…you could wear whatever and survive.

    We do of course have technologies which can make us more capable of survival in environments from the South Pole to pulling gees to working on the surface of the Moon…but any colony in space or on a body in space would be completely dependent on the earth and the taxpayers for that technology. For both the immediate future and their survival.

    I dont see a persuasive reason why American society should fund at escalated cost infrastructure that benefits a few when the same dollars will go much further here on earth and derive benefit for more Americans. There has to be something that justifies that expenditure and so far I do not see it…and nor do most Americans.

    Most space advocates have let themselves and their desire (or passion take your pick) get way ahead of logic here.

    My take for what it is worth, is that for the next 100 years or so we are going to have a presence in space much like we have on oil wells or the South Pole or nuclear submarines…and that is only if we are lucky enough to find things which justify the massive cost of humans in space…and the cost of humans in space comes down a serious order of magnitude.

    I share something with you that illustrates the problem. I have it on video and might put it on you tube at somepoint. When he was still at NASA Charlie Precourt was speaking at one of the high schools in Clear Lake. He had noted in his speech that astronaut time on orbit is about 1 million an hour (I think that was the time period, but the dollar amount was 1 million dollars)

    In the Q&A a kid asked him “What does an astronaut do to justify that?”

    He couldnt answer the question. Until the cost comes down and hte justification goes up…we are colonizing nothing in space.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert, That was not accurate if you were in Jamestown…you could wear whatever and survive.

    Once again, this simply is not true. I submit that in most seasons you would not survive very long in Jamestown without protective clothing or tools. Your wife’s G-suit is simply the latest extension of a long line of the same technology — one of the technologies that allowed us to colonize the various alien continents ond islands of this word, a that may allow us to colonize the alien surfaces of other worlds. You are confusing a difference in kind with a difference in degree.

    Most space advocates have let themselves and their desire (or passion take your pick) get way ahead of logic here.

    Exactly. So what? The reasons actually driving human spaceflight generally have and have had nothing to do with logic. (The same, of course, is true of automated spaceflight, though you and others like to pretend otherwise.) That hasn’t been true since vonB used development of IRBMs for the Germans to pay for his dreams of interplanetary flight, it wasn’t true when he sold Apollo, it wasn’t true when NASA sold the ISS, and it isn’t true now that a broad range of people are fighting to keep the VSE alive in one form or another. Most likely, it won’t be true until, as you say, the mother load is discovered and / or costs come way down. That doesn’t mean it won’t continue to happen.

    My take for what it is worth, is that for the next 100 years or so we are going to have a presence in space much like we have on oil wells or the South Pole or nuclear submarines…and that is only if we are lucky enough to find things which justify the massive cost of humans in space…and the cost of humans in space comes down a serious order of magnitude.

    I don’t disagree with this, especially the time scale. That does not mean we won’t colonize space, only that it will take a long time. It took 10,000 years to colonize Earth. As long as we continue to work on it, I’m okay with that; it’s turning our back on it that I’m not okay with.

    – Donald

  • Anon

    @Major Tom,

    “But the reality is that (the scientific “facts” are) in a low gravity environment:”

    Again there is a huge difference between experiments in Zero G (aka microgravity) and in 1/6 G. Unless you are aware of biological experiments done on Apollo, there is no factual basis to say its impossible on the Moon. Merely it appears to be impossible Zero G. A good scientist NEVER theorizes beyond the data like you are doing. They do additional research. That research has not been done.

    (roll eyes)

    Its also interesting to see you feel Columbus was a failure. We could use a few more “failures” like him.

    As for visiting rocks. Yes, there are some NEO with diameters of tens of kilometers. Thank goodness only Icarus and Eros come close, but are still too far for the visits envisioned by the flexible options.

  • Anon

    @Doug Lassiter,

    You need to read the speech, its at http://er.jsc.nasa.gov/seh/ricetalk.htm

    Here’s a quote from it.

    “So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this State of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward–and so will space.

    William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, said that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage. ”

    Doesn’t sound like Kennedy was advocate space as science only like you claim…

    Also you forgot the lines following your quote where Kennedy identifies exactly why we are pursuing the new knowledge.

    “Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say the we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours. ”

    Again, doesn’t sound like a science only frontier to me…

    But then just consider, how many space advocate groups have space settlement as a goal. The Space Frontier Foundation, National Space Society, Mars Society, Moon Society, the Space Foundation all come to mine.

    And how many are for robots, flags and footprints? Only the Planetary Society comes to mind, founded by the HSF foe Sagan.

    So it seems their is disconnect is between NASA, who doesn’t support space settlement, and the Space Advocates, whose interest in space is settlement.

    But I guess NASA today is lacking the courage Kennedy spoke, as are the foes of space settlement that post here.

  • Major Tom

    “Again there is a huge difference between experiments in Zero G (aka microgravity) and in 1/6 G”

    Do you really think that biological mechanisms that evolved over billions of years to work in a 1g environment and that we know don’t work in a 0g environment are going to work well, or at all, if we add back only 17% of the force exerted by a 1g environment? Do you really think that proteins will fold the same way when subjected to 1g as when subjected to 17% of 1g?

    Please, let’s use some common sense.

    “Unless you are aware of biological experiments done on Apollo”

    The last two Apollo flights carried eggs from species of brine shrimp, beetle, and stick insect to investigate the effects of space radiation on embryo development.

    In the case of all three, the number of embryos that reached full term and hatched fell from about 90 to 10 percent.

    In the case of the brine shrimp, those that hatched had malformations increase tenfold. The most common malformations were shorter extremities and abnormal thoraxes and abdomens.

    In the case of the beetles, abnormalities increased from less than 3 percent in the control to nearly 50 percent in the space sample. The most common malformations were curved or fused abdomen segments and fused antennae. Of those that hatched, most died within 2 days, versus ~150 days for strains raised in captivity.

    In the case of the stick insects, abnormalities increased from less than 2 percent in the control to over 20 percent in the space sample. The most common malformations were curved abdomens, fused segments, and shortened legs. Of those that hatched, most died within 2 weeks, versus approximately one year for strains raised in captivity.

    “Its also interesting to see you feel Columbus was a failure.”

    I didn’t say that. I said that by the goals that the Spanish Crown agreed to, Columbus was a failure. It’s a statement of fact, not opinion.

    Don’t put words in other posters’ mouths.

    “Yes, there are some NEO with diameters of tens of kilometers. Thank goodness only Icarus and Eros come close”

    Icarus isn’t tens of kilometers in diameter. And Eros isn’t the only NEO tens of kilometers in diameter.

    “HSF foe Sagan”

    An absolute lie. Sagan’s belief, as written in “Pale Blue Dot”, was that:

    “every surviving civilization is obliged to become spacefaring—not because of exploratory or romantic zeal, but for the most practical reason imaginable: staying alive…If we were up there among the planets, if there were self-sufficient human communities on many worlds, our species would be insulated from catastrophe… A cataclysmic impact on one world would likely leave all the others untouched. The more of us beyond the Earth, the greater the diversity of worlds we inhabit… then the safer the human species will be.”

    Please, don’t post slanderous statements.

    FWIW…

  • Anon

    @Major Tom

    “Sagan often challenged the decisions to fund the Space Shuttle at the expense of other robotic missions.”

    http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Carl_Sagan

    In the Pale Blue Dot he basically apologized for his opposition to HSF earlier in his career, recognizing it as a mistake. You really need to read more history. First you doubt that scientists believed that humans would not survive Zero G, then you claim no knowledge of Sagan’s opposition to HSF in favor of robots. Sagan basically started the robots versus humans debate in the 1970’s….

    You might want to read Arthur C. Clarke’s Challenge of the Spaceship, he recounts a lot of professional scientists who make claims on things being impossible that were wrong. One of the funniest was the Astronomer who used physics to Prove that heavier then air human flight was impossible. If I recall he published his paper in December, 1903. I guess he forgot to carry a digit :-)

  • @Martijn Meijering

    The colonization of the solar system will be a long term process taking decades and maybe even centuries. But the Moon should be the first step in that process.

    The SD-HLV should be able to transport more than 47 tonnes into lunar orbit per launch and land more than 10 tonnes of payload. That’s easily enough for a bedroom sized habitat module. Just three launches of an Altair/ SD-HLV per year would enable us to place three habitat modules on the lunar surface per year: that’s 30 habitat modules over a decade (a very good sized lunar habitat). 50 meter inflatable domes weighing less than 10 tonnes could also be transported to the lunar surface via the Altair.

    I should note that at the height of the Space Shuttle era, NASA was launching up to 9 shuttles per year.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Anon wrote @ November 10th, 2009 at 2:43 am

    You might want to read Arthur C. Clarke’s Challenge of the Spaceship, he recounts a lot of professional scientists who make claims on things being impossible that were wrong…

    that is to be blunt a very ridiculous counter argument…ie “a lot of folks in the past claimed things were not possible which turned out to be possible so what we are saying today even though not possible today WILL turn out to be possible.”

    Actually Clarke “himself” turned out to be wrong about the thing which will likely carry his name into history..The Clarke Belt.

    Clarke correctly surmized the orbital mechanics of the belt and how useful a communications platform would be in that orbit…but what he got flat wrong is that he predicted that those communications platforms would be the lever to get folks into space, because they would have to be crewed. Clarke had no way to know that the transistor and other “solid state” devices were coming (as well as long lived TWT’s) and hence he envisioned the role for his humans in space constantly changing tubes to keep things working.

    Everybody gets the future wrong, because with the exception of right wing GOP troglytes (grin) and NASA the future is not linear, history is on a slow scale “quantum” particularly when it comes to technology (and I would add social advances or regressions depending on which side of the stick you are on).

    Right after WW2 the predictions made for atomic power (of all forms) were “linear” and they turned out to be wrong, H reactors are still 20 years away 60 or so years later.

    The best a society (or planners) can do in the Present is to proceed under the most reasonably accurate scientific/etc evidence but be flexible in those plans so that unforseen events, both good and bad dont throw one off to badly from the “goal” whatever that is..(assuming the goal still seems reasonable in terms of new conditions).

    I do not have a clue what “in the future” will occur as far as medical capabilities, or technologies, or discoveries that will aide the adaption or humans to micro gee or differences in gee from where we have evolved…but right now all the best information seems to say that we dont do well in that environment with the mediation affects we have now.

    Hence for those reasons and the technology/cost of actually doing it, it seems ludicrous to have as a bedrock of policy the settlement of other worlds in our solar system. Or to have 30 year long plans that lock us into programs which essentially shun technology developments or actually retard it.

    A book everyone should take a moment and read is “The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress ”

    Virginia Postrel makes the case AGAINST Constellation and also the entire notion of a long term “policy” in terms of things like settlements in space (or any long term statist approach) as it being not consistent with a free enterprise system.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Martijn Meijering

    Just three launches of an Altair/ SD-HLV per year would enable us to place three habitat modules on the lunar surface per year: that’s 30 habitat modules over a decade (a very good sized lunar habitat). 50 meter inflatable domes weighing less than 10 tonnes could also be transported to the lunar surface via the Altair.

    1. Altair has been defunded
    2. Altair would cost $0.5B-$1B per unit and ~$500M a year
    3. Habitat units have been defunded
    4. Inflatable domes were never funded in the first place

    There is no money in the budget to allow the sort of thing you’re describing. Cost is the problem, not payload fairings or throw-mass. SDLV makes the problem worse with its high fixed costs and by blocking the road to lower costs to orbit.

    Imagine the lander, launcher and surface structures existed today. Then NASA still wouldn’t have the money to rotate more than two crews a year. What you describe isn’t even close to being possible.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “Doesn’t sound like Kennedy was advocate space as science only like you claim…”

    Excuse me, but the words you quote from Kennedy’s speech don’t exactly point explicitly to human space flight either! I think Kennedy was doing what many of us do, which is to use “science” as a metaphor for inquisitiveness, which is an excuse for doing whatever we want to do in space. The words “explore” and “master”, when applied to space, are not owned by the HSF community.

    “But then just consider, how many space advocate groups have space settlement as a goal.”

    No question that there are people around whose life is devoted to advocating space settlement. You can turn over any rock and find an advocacy group for just about anything. I’m just saying the people who count, which are our leaders in DC who hold the purse strings (and who have a extraordinarily well developed sense of what the taxpayers want, because that’s how they keep their jobs) are not interested in space settlement. The disconnect you point to is valid, but also irrelevant.

    Look, I’m not by any means an HSF opponent (nor do I think the Planetary Society is either, really), but I am very uncomfortable with the lack of a convincing rationale for doing HSF. Until that rationale is resolved in a way that offers strong public and congressional support, and meets specific national needs that would justify federal funding, it’s just toast.

    P.S. A tip ‘o the hat to Donald for coming up with a Presidential quote that relates, if not to colonization or species survival, at least to the importance of “living in space”. That would be Reagan in his SOU 1994 address. I still don’t think Reagan’s words really correspond to a cultural mandate for pilgrims to set out to Mars and Uranus, but it’s true that with ISS we successfully demonstrated the ability to “live in space”, or at least survive there for some time. I don’t think any ISS astronaut would be interested in putting down roots there, though. In many respects, Reagan was the most visionary of our presidents with regard to space.

  • Major Tom

    “Sagan often challenged the decisions to fund the Space Shuttle at the expense of other robotic missions.”

    That doesn’t mean that Sagan was against all civil human space flight. That just means that he thought robotic missions had more value than the Space Shuttle. His Pale Blue Dot passage makes clear that Sagan thought that human space flight activities aimed at establishing a permanent human presence beyond Earth had lots of value. The Space Shuttle is not and was never that kind of activity.

    “First you doubt that scientists believed that humans would not survive Zero G…”

    No, that’s not what I (or you) wrote about. I doubted that medical doctors or researchers would have worried about astronauts swallowing in microgravity, when they knew that the human body can swallow standing upside down in an effective -1g environment. It sounds like an urban myth to me.

    There may be other biological processes that were of genuine worry to space medicine experts in the early days of human space flight. I don’t know if any caused them to doubt whether astronauts could survive those early flights.

    “… then you claim no knowledge of Sagan’s opposition to HSF in favor of robots”

    What does the latter have to do with the former? You’re making connections where there are none.

    “You might want to read Arthur C. Clarke’s Challenge of the Spaceship”

    Done.

    “One of the funniest was the Astronomer who used physics to Prove that heavier then air human flight was impossible. If I recall he published his paper in December, 1903. I guess he forgot to carry a digit”

    No, he didn’t forget to “carry a digit”. He got the physics of atmospheric flight fundamentally wrong.

    And your point is?

    FWIW…

  • Anon

    @Robert G. Oler

    “Everybody gets the future wrong,”

    Exactly. That is why Major Tom’s argument that we need to forget space colonies as a space goal based on some very limited studies is nuts. Let’s go to the Moon and actually do the work first before tossing the idea out as crazy or impossible.

    BTW the key point was that history is full of experts who use science to claim something is impossible until someone does it. I believe Arthur C. Clarke had some laws on the also on how thing go from being impossible to being a great idea. Look at Zero G. In fifty years it has gone from fears by experts that it would distort eyeballs and have people choking on food to people paying big money for the shear joy of experiencing it.

    We need to go to the Moon and do about 10-15 years of good biomedical research before we decide its impossible for humans to settle there. If we had done that after Apollo, instead of getting hung up on lowering the cost of spaceflight with Shuttle, we would know the answers now. Heck, we might even have had the first children born on the Moon by now in booming Lunar City.

  • @Donald

    In Jamestown to use Robert’s example, the initial effort at colonization was certainly started by religious nuts.

    No, the Plymouth Colony was founded by “religious nuts,” but not Jamestown, which was intended to be a colony to establish an English foothold in the Americas, supported by tobacco.

    @Major Tom

    Do you really think that proteins will fold the same way when subjected to 1g as when subjected to 17% of 1g?

    I think that it’s extremely unlikely that protein folding is affected by gravity at all. At those scales, gravity is an insignificant force compared to the molecular bonds.

    @Robert O

    Virginia Postrel makes the case AGAINST Constellation and also the entire notion of a long term “policy” in terms of things like settlements in space (or any long term statist approach) as it being not consistent with a free enterprise system.

    She does nothing of the kind. You can attempt to infer that if you wish, but her book was written years before Constellation was a glimmer in Mike Griffin’s eye. And there’s nothing intrinsically statist (or stasist) or non-free-enterprise about space settlements, and I know her well enough to be confident that she would agree with that.

  • Anon

    @Major Tom,

    In the spirit in which you deconstruct the posts of others…

    “Even measuring from Columbus to the founding of the first settlement in the Americas, the time period was some 78 years, IIRC. It was a few more decades until we had the second and third settlements.”

    You must be kidding! (shaking head…)

    Columbus founded the settlement of La Navidad on Hispaniola in 1492, during his First voyage after the Santa Maria sunk. Although the settlers were wiped out by the natives after he left, he return with more and established La Isabela on Hispaniola in 1493. More settlements quickly followed as Spain aggressively followed up Columbus’ discoveries. By 1570 (1492+78 years) there was dozens of Major settlements, a university and publishing industry in the New World and Panama had already become a transshipment point to Asia, achieving the original goal of Columbus….

    Really, you need to start reading some history if you want people to take you seriously. Here, use this Wikipedia entry to start learning.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Columbus

  • Anon

    @Major Tom

    “It sounds like an urban myth to me.”

    Yea, they just sent the Ham and Enos up for the fun of working with chimps. (Roll eyes again…)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ham_%28chimpanzee%29

    Determining if humans could function in space of one of the key goals of Project Mercury

    http://www-pao.ksc.nasa.gov/history/mercury/mercury-goals.htm

    But if you don’t believe me it was a fear, then perhaps you will believe John Young. He was an early astronaut in case you don’t recognize the name.

    http://www.johnwyoung.com/bio/jyfood.htm

    “It seems weird to say so now, but some people had doubts that survival was possible under the zero-g conditions of space flight. The mere experiment of eating under weightlessness caused some concern. It was one of the physiological unknowns of space flight.”

    Unless you think Capt. Young is into spreading urban myths – Sheesh…

    Sorry, but you really need to learn some history about the real fears the medical community had about humans surviving in space before Mercury and Vostok if you want people to continue to take you opinions on the impossibility of space settlement seriously.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand wrote

    You can attempt to infer that if you wish, but her book was written years before Constellation was a glimmer in Mike Griffin’s eye…

    you need to read her book carefully…I agree her book was written years before Constellation, but the examples she uses in her book, including some discussions of NASA and its epic programs to do things like going to Mars…all fit the notion of projects which oppose innovation, enterprise and creativity.

    Books such as this do not lose their value just because events happen after them.

    As for space settlements. while there is nothing intrinsically statist about space settlements, space settlements and programs to accomplish them which meet the test she lays down in the book, are the enemies of the future.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Books such as this do not lose their value just because events happen after them.

    I didn’t say they did. It’s a great book. It just doesn’t carry the implications that you imagine it does.

    space settlements and programs to accomplish them which meet the test she lays down in the book, are the enemies of the future.

    That’s why I’m not talking about those kinds of space settlements.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Anon wrote @ November 10th, 2009 at 11:35 am

    @Robert G. Oler

    “Everybody gets the future wrong,”

    Exactly. That is why Major Tom’s argument that we need to forget space colonies as a space goal based on some very limited studies is nuts..

    actually no, I would with all due respect agree with Major Tom, pushing space colonies as a reason for human space flight doesnt even pass the giggle test.

    It is to me like saying “our energy policy should be based on the development of Fusion reactors. The advocates of Fusion reactors are correct, we get them, most of our energy problems look to be solved…the problem is that 20 years ago they were 20 years away and today they are still 20 years away. A prudent planner would have to agree that 20 years from now, they will still be 20 years away.

    There might be a breakthrough that changes all that, tomorrow…but I sure wouldnt put a lot of money into it in lieu of other more viable sources.

    Space colonies are about the same way.

    They are almost the equivelent of testifying before Congress in Star Fleet uniforms…just nutty.

    The statement you wrote is an example “If we had done that after Apollo, instead of getting hung up on lowering the cost of spaceflight with Shuttle, we would know the answers now.”

    for the cost of building the shuttle we could not have kept going to the Moon, ie the cost to keep going to the Moon was more then the political leaders and the nation was willing to bear. At that era we did not lightly deficit spend and most of the people were unwilling to have their taxes raised to pursue that effort.

    Hence to my mind it fails the “giggle test”. Americans will support with their taxes what is “conceivable” (not probable but conceivable) they will not support “and it takes a miracle”.

    This is why the last administration more or less lied about how easy Iraq was going to be. Six months and we are out was the Wolfie statement because had he said “It is going to be a decade and a trillion dollars plus” the American people would have said “F U”.

    I would argue that we are prudently pusuing the science and technology (Particularly with flexible path) to make in the future some informed judgments as a society about what down the road is conceivable.

    Now…I am pro space and when I read about a space settlement on Mars like the one Whittington wrote, I just break out laughing.

    It is like “six months and we are out” fantasy

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ November 10th, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    I didn’t say they did. It’s a great book. It just doesn’t carry the implications that you imagine it does…

    but it does. Sorry my two copies are either at the St. Cloud house (which we dont have full access to until the end of theyear) or still packed with some of my stuff that I have yet to unpack..

    But the book is to my mind one of the seminal works pointing the way to fix a society and government which is growing more stale by the minute. I’ve read it very closely.

    Constellation would easily as would any government run program of decade length duration fit being an enemy of the future because its negation of enterprise, creativity, and ingenuity.

    Your argument was soley this and I quote it

    “You can attempt to infer that if you wish, but her book was written years before Constellation was a glimmer in Mike Griffin’s eye… ”

    the only real english interpretation of that sentence is that because the program occurred after her book was written it could not have fit her model.

    I dont agree

    Robert G. Oler

  • “The Committee concludes that the ultimate goal of human exploration is to chart a path for human expansion into the solar system. This is an ambitious goal, but one worthy of U.S. leadership in concert with a broad range of international partners.”

    Robert Oler,

    The above quote is found in the executive summary of the HSF Review Final Report. The committee members apparently felt that human expansion into the solar system is a worthwhile and feasible goal worthy of this nation. In their discussion of Mars, they clearly believed that establishing permanent settlements on the Red Planet was an attainable objective over time.

    But beyond that, Major Tom’s attempts to extrapolate generalized conclusions, that humans and terrestrial life would be unable to adapt to long term spaceflight and reproduce successfully in such environment or establish a colony on the Moon from a limited set of microgravity experiments performed on the ISS, is considerably flawed especially since none of the studies, that I have seen so far, on the subject have even intimated those kinds of conclusions. As Rand pointed out that protein folding or DNA folding for that matter is not affected by gravitational force, but by strong and weak nuclear forces at the atomic level. Recent research has found that complex organic molecules exist even in interstellar space.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Gary Miles

    as I noted in my post, nuclear fusion reactors are a good objective over time…but 1) to base an energy policy on them and 2) to try and sell them to the American people as the answer to their energy needs is nuts.

    It is bad politics, bad management, bad planning, bad everythingl.

    So is saying “our goal with NASA is to settle space for humans”

    there is a reason space activist really dont have much influence over space policy…this is the big one

    Robert G. Oler

  • But the book is to my mind one of the seminal works pointing the way to fix a society and government which is growing more stale by the minute.

    I agree. As I said, I know her personally.

    I’ve read it very closely.

    So have I. But you apparently lack the wherewithal to draw useful conclusions from it.

    the only real english interpretation of that sentence is that because the program occurred after her book was written it could not have fit her model.

    No, you didn’t talk about a “model.” You talked about Constellation. In fact, I agree that Constellation fits the model. I was just pointing out that a) she didn’t, and couldn’t have made an explicit argument against Constellation unless she was clairvoyant and b) Constellation has nothing to do with space settlement. But I expect further incoherent logic-and-reading-comprehension-challenged responses from you, because it’s what you do.

  • Major Tom

    “That is why Major Tom’s argument that we need to forget space colonies as a space goal”

    First, “space colonies” are not and have never been a goal of the U.S. civil space program (or any foreign civil space program that I’m aware of). We can’t “forget” a goal that never existed.

    Second, this isn’t what I wrote. I wrote that we need to align policy with reality.

    If we want to make space settlement a policy goal, then our programs have to be radically realigned to go after the key technologies necessary to make it possible — reengineering the human and other microbe/plant/animal genomes to produce species capable of living out lifespans and reproducing in very high radiation and low gravity environments, human brain mapping to allow our consciousnesses to be downloaded into machines, planet-scale engineering to enable terraforming or Space Island-scale habitats, and/or breakthrough physics to allow us to travel to exoEarths on reasonable timescales (and the moral and social systems necessary to support such radical, expensive, and long-lived projects).

    But if we’re not going to radically realign our civil space programs — if we’re still going to be focused on relatively evolutionary changes in rocketry, life support, and related technologies — then we shouldn’t pretend that space settlement is a goal of these programs (which, again, it’s not, anyway).

    “based on some very limited studies is nuts.”

    I’ve provided references to six experiments — three testing the effects of low gravity conditions on reproduction and three testing the effects of space radiation on reproduction — carried out on five different missions over the span of several decades using nine or so different species ranging from plants to invertebrates to mice. Without exception, the sample populations exhibited various combinations of greatly increased sterility, greatly increased embryo death, monstrous birth defects, and greatly increased infant deaths. There is no reason to believe that the biology of our species — human mothers and their children — would magically avoid these enormous health hazards.

    I’ve also referenced an interview with the former head of NASA’s life and microgravity sciences program who states that just for two-year trips to Mars, we’re probably going to have to select crews on the basis of their inborn genetic resistance to radiation and maybe even consider genetic engineering. If our species has to do that just for a lousy two-year trip to Mars, there is very little hope that we’ll be able to live out lifespans and safely reproduce in the space environment without massive reengineering of our genome and bodies, changes that will essentially create new species from the homo sapiens genome.

    What relevant evidence have you provided?

    “Although the settlers were wiped out by the natives after he left, he return with more and established La Isabela on Hispaniola in 1493.”

    Which, according to the very wikipedia article you cited, “proved to be a poorly chosen location, and the settlement was short-lived.”

    If you’re not going to bother to read and comprehend the sources that I give you, at least read and comprehend your own.

    “More settlements quickly followed as Spain aggressively followed up Columbus’ discoveries. By 1570 (1492+78 years) there was dozens of Major settlements…”

    Oh, really…

    In 1526, Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón founded the colony San Miguel de Guadalupe in present day Georgia or South Carolina. The colony only lasted a short while before disintegrating.

    Pánfilo de Narváez attempted to start a colony in Florida in 1528. The Narváez expedition ended in disaster with only four members making it to Mexico in 1536.

    The Spanish Colony of Pensacola in West Florida (1559) was destroyed by a hurricane in 1561.

    A small group of French troops were left on Parris Island, South Carolina in 1562 to build Charlesfort, but left after a year when they were not resupplied from France.

    Fort Caroline established in present-day Jacksonville, Florida in 1564, lasted only a year before being destroyed by the Spanish.

    Fort San Juan was established in 1567 in the interior of North Carolina but was destroyed by local Native Americans 18 months later.

    The Ajacan Mission, founded in 1570, failed the next year.

    “they just sent the Ham and Enos up for the fun… Determining if humans could function in space of one of the key goals of Project Mercury”

    Neither of these sources say that any medical doctors or researchers were worried about humans swallowing in microgravity.

    “‘The mere experiment of eating under weightlessness caused some concern.’”

    By who? Astronauts like Young who were not medical or biological experts? Or actual medical doctors and researchers?

    I’m not going to debate whether Young or other astronauts had various health fears, both legitimate and not so legitimate, about the missions the undertook. Of course they did. Any of us would.

    But that doesn’t mean that space medicine experts were worried about astronauts swallowing in microgravity. It may not have been an urban myth — maybe you’ll find a source that names some medical doctors who actually expressed this worry. I’m just doubtful given that those doctors would have known that the human body can swallow standing upside down in an effective -1g environment. I’m sure the doctors had other worries about astronaut health. I would just be surprised to see confirmation that swallowing was one.

    “Sorry, but you really need to learn some history about the real fears the medical community had about humans surviving in space before Mercury and Vostok if you want people to continue to take you opinions on the impossibility of space settlement seriously.”

    Even if swallowing was a real and significant concern for space medicine experts before the first human space flights, that has no bearing on the question of whether our species can safely live out normal lifespans and reproduce in low gravity/high radiation environments. Unlike the situation with human space flight the late 1950s and early 1960s, we know today, after decades of missions and experiments, that space radiation greatly shortens the lifespan of Earth organisms and that both space radiation and low gravity conditions have devastating impacts on the reproductive cycles of Earth organisms. This shouldn’t be surprising, since Earth organisms have not evolved over billions of years in a low gravity or high space radiation environment.

    In the 1950/1960s, they were dealing with unknown. Today, we know and what we know is not promising in the least when it comes to the question of whether our species can settle space. Our descendent species may be able to do so (and that’s actually pretty exciting to me). But for us, the data looks very grim.

    That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have a civil human space flight program, including one that carries out experiments and maybe even establishes Antarctic-like bases on the Moon. There are other, very worthy goals for a well-run civil human space flight program besides colonizing other worlds. But until we’re ready to talk about reengineering the human genome or downloading our consciousnesses into spacefaring machines, space settlement is almost certainly not a practical goal, at least for our species.

    I’m sorry if you feel like I’m pissing all over your beliefs about the value of civil human space flight. That’s not my intent. My intent is to go into a discussion about space policies and programs with our eyes wide open so that the results are realistic and useful.

    In the end, being realistic will advance civil human space flight much more than it hurts.

    FWIW…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand. sorry you are imitating my ten year olds who when having collapsed in their logic just going about in circles.

    I said “A book everyone should take a moment and read is “The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress ”

    Virginia Postrel makes the case AGAINST Constellation and also the entire notion of a long term “policy” in terms of things like settlements in space (or any long term statist approach) as it being not consistent with a free enterprise system.”

    try reading carefully…”…in terms of things like settlements in space (or “ANY LONG TERM STATIST APPROACH”) emphasis in caps mine.

    It was reasonably clear that I was inferring a model (and indeed in another thread …the one on top of this thread…I do a little expanding on the entire model thing)

    You agree it fits the model hence your words “In fact, I agree that Constellation fits the model. ”

    hence we are down to your rather childish argument that I claimed she specifically talks about Constellation …

    while I just think that you are looking for a rhetorical fight that you think you can win it is completly possible that the entire statement I made was not specific enough for YOU and hence you need to find a minor nit to pick at.

    Indulge yourself. It is yet another instance of you showing you are on the fringe of American politics and thought.

    One thing I will point out

    “Constellation has nothing to do with space settlement.”

    as if I said it did.

    but thanks for agreeing that Constellation fits the model of a statist program that the author was arguing against. LOL

    The folks you and Whittington claim to know! LOL

    Robert G. Oler

  • sorry you are imitating my ten year olds who when having collapsed in their logic just going about in circles.

    Physician heal thyself.

    but thanks for agreeing that Constellation fits the model of a statist program that the author was arguing against. LOL

    I never disputed it. But she was arguing against statist models in general, not Constellation specifically. I was just clarifying your (as usual) muddy point for the benefit of more intelligent people who would have reasonably inferred from it that Virginia Postrel’s book explicitly argued against Constellation or discussed space settlements.

    The folks you and Whittington claim to know! LOL

    I am not Whittington. Are you claiming that I don’t know Virginia?

    And when people have to laugh at their own jokes, it’s because they’re not funny. It’s actually kind of pathetic. But I expect you to continue to laugh at your own unwitty comments, since no one else will. Again, it’s what you do.

  • Robert G. Oler

    But that doesn’t mean that space medicine experts were worried about astronauts swallowing in microgravity.

    sorry this could not have been an issue. There was a lot of “vomet comet” type flights before any human went into space …the microgee there made it clear that swallowing was possible. Same for eyeballs not working or other “parts” malfunctioning. They even practiced urinating and other bowel movements. And of course it was clear that people could upchuck…

    All was well.

    Robert G. Oler

  • brobof

    “I wrote that there would be “enormous reproductive risks in lower gravity environments.”” Major Tom.

    References please, as far as this scientist is aware there have been no studies to that effect.

    “But the reality is that (the scientific “facts” are) in a low gravity environment:”

    The reality is that these studies were undertaken in a Microgravity environment.

    Reference 1: “Plant reproduction systems in microgravity” and to quote the report:
    “Hypotheses to explain abnormal reproductive development in microgravity are: 1) nutritional deficiency, 2) insufficient light, 3) intensification of the influence of the above-mentioned factors by microgravity, 4) disturbances of a hormonal nature, and 5) the absence of pollination and fertilization. Possible ways for testing these hypotheses and obtaining viable seeds in microgravity are discussed.”

    (If you have the full paper to hand I would be most grateful for the results that conclusively eliminated all factors but the absence of meaningful gravity. And add that one species does not represent an entire genera!)

    Reference 2: “Behavior and Reproduction of Invertebrate Animals During and After A Long-Term Microgravity…”
    again “All the animals, i.e., Amphipods, pond snails, Ostracods and Daphnia had survived for 4 months in space, i.e., they had produced their offspring or repeated their life-cycles under microgravity. For the two Mir experiments, in both the flight and ground control ecosystem units, an inverse relationship was noted between the number of Amphipods and pond snails in each unit. Amphipods at 10 hours after the recovery to the ground [my emphasis] frequently exhibited a movement of dropping straight-downward to the bottom of the units. Several Amphipods had their legs bent abnormally, which probably resulted from some physiological alterations during their embryonic development under microgravity. From the analysis of the video tape recorded in space, for Ostracods and Daphnia, a half of their population were looping under microgravity….”

    (After recovery to the ground humans often exhibit some physiological alterations that have nothing to do with embryonic development but everything to do with adaptation to that environment.)

    Reference 3: “Detrimental Effects of Microgravity on Mouse Preimplantation Development In Vitro …”
    “Fertilization occurred normally in vitro under µG. However, although we obtained 75 healthy offspring from µG-fertilized and -cultured embryos after transfer to recipient females, the birth rate was lower than among the 1G controls. Immunostaining demonstrated that in vitro culture under µG caused slower development and fewer trophectoderm cells than in 1G controls but did not affect polarization of the blastocyst. These results suggest for the first time that fertilization can occur normally under µG environment in a mammal, but normal preimplantation embryo development might require 1G.”

    (Might.)

    “If we’re already getting these kinds of bad reproductive results across such a range of lower lifeforms, the effects are not going to be less benign in higher lifeforms like humans with more complex embryonic development cycles.” Major Tom.

    Sorry just plain wrong. The processes involved in mammalian embryology: cell division and chemo-syntactic migration are identical. The duration might be different but the processes are the same. Allowing for different chemical triggers and a less advanced physiology, one could argue the same across all multicellular organisms!

    So the research YOU quoted does not support your assertion of “enormous reproductive risks in lower gravity environments.” as:
    A: these were microgravity environments. (NOT Low gravity!)
    B: there were only “some”, “several”, “half”, “might”… effects.

    The scientific fact is that WE DON’T KNOW if normal conception, gestation and birth may be possible in 1/6th or 1/3 g and thus are a long way from your pronouncement:

    “It’s highly unlikely that humans will be able to safely reproduce in low gravity environments.”

    To be brutally honest this Biochemist wonders if you actually read the papers in question?

    Finally. LET’S USE SOME COMMON SENSE Unlike your good self standing (or sitting) in that brutal 1 g field, biochemical processes evolved in an aqueous (floating) environment that was carried to the land using ever more complex methods of containing self same aqueous environment. From cell walls to epidermis. Proteins fold because they have evolved to fold. Via chemical bonds and van der waals forces. Bearing in mind that your average ribosome may be floating (in that good old aqueous envirionment within the cell) UPSIDE DOWN!

    “And even if you want to do it on the Moon, the reproductive cycle of plants, flies, mice, and other biological test subjects is short enough to observe using a telerobotic mission or a short crewed mission. There’s no reason to build a lunar base for this purpose.”

    Not if the study is into establishing an off world ecosystem! Can we do without flies? And we’ll need humans to shuck the corn! (See below)

    Also, whilst we are at it, apart from the various hydroponic experiments carried out with a regolith simulant. I would point out that contrary to [Robert G. Oler wrote @ November 9th, 2009 at 1:23 am]
    “Several authors (1,2,3,4) report that lunar material added to a hydroponic culture increases plant growth…”
    EFFECT OF APOLLO 16 LUNAR FINES AND TERRESTRIAL SOILS ON THE GROWTH OF CORN PLANTS (F.R. Shay et al)
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1974LPI…..5..700S

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ November 10th, 2009 at 2:57 pm
    Are you claiming that I don’t know Virginia?..

    no, nor do I care if you know her, nor does knowing her reinforce the analysis you made of my statement any more then Whittington claiming to know his rocket club people reinforces his.

    It is irrelevant if you know VP or do not unless you can produce a quote where she says something like “This guy Robert G. Oler’s analysis of my book and applying it to Constellation or space settlements are any long term statist approach is not what I meant or had in mind of while writing the book”

    But since you agree that Constellation fits the model then I would argue that my analysis is correct…it does.

    If it was confusing to you and you thought I claimed that Constellation was mentioned specifically in her book then I apologize for discussing events at a level which confused you.

    However, her references to NASA and Newt and big government space programs and why Newt fell as much in love with them as the other folks did…would clearly reference Constellation…but then you have agreed with me on that.

    So if it makes you happy;…if I confused you then I am regretful of it.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Also, whilst we are at it, apart from the various hydroponic experiments carried out with a regolith simulant. I would point out that contrary to [Robert G. Oler wrote @ November 9th, 2009 at 1:23 am]
    “Several authors (1,2,3,4) report that lunar material added to a hydroponic culture increases plant growth…”

    I do not know how my name got in there but I said nothing of the kind

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    back later folks…good news just got back from the ObGYN and all is well with Mom and Baby…I am doing fine also! single payer health care working fine so far!

    Robert G. Oler

  • no, nor do I care if you know her, nor does knowing her reinforce the analysis you made of my statement any more then Whittington claiming to know his rocket club people reinforces his.

    Well, the difference is that Virginia Postrel is a real person, not one of Mark’s imaginary friends.

    It is irrelevant if you know VP or do not unless you can produce a quote where she says something like “This guy Robert G. Oler’s analysis of my book and applying it to Constellation or space settlements are any long term statist approach is not what I meant or had in mind of while writing the book”

    It’s hardly worth my or her trouble to pull a Marshall McLuhan a la Annie Hall with Virginia. She has better things to do with her time than read and attempt to analyze your incoherent meanderings and misstatements of her positions. I’m quite sure, though that she would agree with me that there is nothing intrinsically a “statist” approach about space settlements, and her book did not argue against them. And her word is “statist,” (as opposed to dynamist) not “statist.” Though stasists are generally statists as well, because that’s how they attempt to throw wrenches in the gears of uncontrolled change.

    So if it makes you happy;…if I confused you then I am regretful of it.

    How could you have confused me? I read the book. As I said, I was simply trying to help others who would likely have been confused.

  • Sorry, that should have been “…’stasist,’ (as opposed to dynamicist)…”

  • Robert G. Oeler,

    National space policy should be based in part on historical precedents especially on how human expansion and migration occurred over time though our history. Some of the commenters above have broached the subject of European exploration and colonization of the Americas. When Christopher Columbus set out from Spain, his expedition was being funded by the Spanish Crown to find a new sea route to the East Indies spice markets. As some commenters correctly surmised it was not this exploration of the New World that led to the expansion of European nations into the Americas, but the establishment of permanent settlements by Spain, Portugal, France, and Britain that occurred over the next century. Once these settlements flourished, new markets became established and a regular trade commenced between the the colonies and the European powers. The transportation system then developed along with its supporting infrastructure funded in large part by the revenues generated by these markets. So here are two basics conclusions:

    1) Human expansion and development of new markets occurs when permanent settlements are established in a new area or region.

    2) Transportation and the supporting infrastructure arise where markets exist whose revenue funds can fund transportation development. A corollary is that the larger the markets, the greater likelihood of faster and wider range of transportation systems available.

    A third conclusion can also be derived: That over time as technological advances are made, new transportation systems can emerge to support these established markets. The development of the railroad, auto industry, and commercial aviation all depended on the existence of viable markets.

    The Mir space station and the ISS established a new market for human space travel by establishing human presence in LEO. The Russians have capitalized on this market using their Soyuz launch system and spacecraft. This market is helping drive private investments into human space travel and the latest round of New Space companies commercial development. If the US wants to expand this market in LEO, then creating more destinations to launch and travel would make the most sense. Bigelow has developed space habitats. So why not subsidize the launch of Bigelow spacehabs into LEO? The Russians still have another Zarya module, the backup from ISS, that they are planning to utilize on a future space station. NASA could contract with Energia to build another Zarya with a functional node where a number of Bigelow spacehabs could be attached.

    Similarly is the US wants to create a new market for human space travel beyond LEO, then the best means of doing so is by establishing an architecture that is focused on building a permanent base on the Moon. On the Moon exist a number of material resources that could be used to manufacture components to support transportation development. There is protection available to protect humans from solar and cosmic radiation.

    Some may ask why not develop a permanent space station/depot at the LaGrange points. Because these locations lay outside the Van Allen radiation belts and there is no developed technology to protect humans from solar and cosmic radiation at these locations. On the Moon, a base could be located in the shelter of a crater that shields the settlement from most of the radiation. Also, the lunar regolith could be employed to provide a natural shielding to lunar settlements. No such resources are available at LaGrange coordinates.

    The problem with the ‘Flexible Path’ as described in the Augustine II final report is that it develops the transportation system and infrastructure first with no established market available to support its development. In other words, if the FP architecture is chosen, then the primary source of funds will have to be the US government. This means cost plus contracts. Such contracts are not conducive to saving money. What is more, in order to launch missions to different destinations, NASA would have to develop vehicles with multiple capabilies, or depend on industry to develop a wider range vehicles to meet different mission requirements. In the absence of any source of revenue from a market, commercial companies and even government contractors are going to have exceedingly difficult time building such spacecraft.

  • In other words, if the FP architecture is chosen, then the primary source of funds will have to be the US government. This means cost plus contracts.

    The second sentence does not follow from the first. For example, COTS is a government funds, but it is not cost-plus contracts.

  • Major Tom

    “The committee members apparently felt that human expansion into the solar system is a worthwhile and feasible goal worthy of this nation.”

    Expansion, not settlement or colonization.

    “In their discussion of Mars, they clearly believed that establishing permanent settlements on the Red Planet was an attainable objective over time. ”

    No, the Augustine Committee didn’t necessarily believe that. The only place that the word “settlement” appears in the final report is on p. 23. The sentence reads:

    “If humans are ever to live for long periods with intention of extended settlement on another planetary surface, it is likely to be on Mars.”

    The only thing that the final report said about human settlement of space was that if it’s ever possible, Mars is the most likely target. The report did not state that permanent settlements, on Mars or anywhere else, were an attainable objective.

    “But beyond that, Major Tom’s attempts to extrapolate generalized conclusions, that humans and terrestrial life would be unable to adapt to long term spaceflight and reproduce successfully in such environment or establish a colony on the Moon from a limited set of microgravity experiments performed on the ISS”

    The experiments I’ve referenced in this thread weren’t limited to microgravity or the ISS. I’ll repeat the summary from my prior post:

    I’ve provided references to six experiments — three testing the effects of low gravity conditions on reproduction and three testing the effects of space radiation on reproduction — carried out on five different missions over the span of several decades using nine or so different species ranging from plants to invertebrates to mice. Without exception, the sample populations exhibited various combinations of greatly increased sterility, greatly increased embryo death, monstrous birth defects, and greatly increased infant deaths. There is no reason to believe that the biology of our species — human mothers and their children — would magically avoid these enormous health hazards.

    I’ve also referenced an interview with the former head of NASA’s life and microgravity sciences program who states that just for two-year trips to Mars, we’re probably going to have to select crews on the basis of their inborn genetic resistance to radiation and maybe even consider genetic engineering. If our species has to do that just for a lousy two-year trip to Mars, there is very little hope that we’ll be able to live out lifespans and safely reproduce in the space environment without massive reengineering of our genome and bodies, changes that will essentially create new species from the homo sapiens genome.

    “As Rand pointed out that protein folding or DNA folding for that matter is not affected by gravitational force, but by strong and weak nuclear forces at the atomic level”

    I didn’t see a statement from Mr. Simberg to that effect, but regardless, it’s patently false, on several counts.

    First, the strong nuclear force is what holds quarks and gluons together to form protons, neutrons, and other multi-quark particles. It has nothing to do with molecular interactions (protein or otherwise).

    Second, the weak nuclear force is the exchange of bosons in lepton and quark interactions. It’s what causes nuclear decay. Again, it has nothing to do with molecular interactions (protein or otherwise).

    Third, protein folding is primarily mediated by the electromagnetic force, specifically various chemical bonds and Van der Waals forces. The latter are not very strong and can compete with gravity, depending on the molecules and gravitational fields involved.

    Fourth, protein folding in organisms is mediated by more than just the chemical bonds and Van der Waals forces present in the protein iteself. RNA, protein chaperones, enyzmes, and other molecules also play a role, and their populations can be and are affected by gravity.

    Fifth, even in simulated microgravity, we see changes in the down- and up-regulation of multiple genes that mediate the folding of new proteins produced in cells (human lymphocytes, in this case):

    http://gravitationalandspacebiology.org/index.php/journal/article/viewFile/30/30

    We’ve also seen that key proteins involved in mRNA expression in E. coli bacteria become more labile and have shortened half-lives in microgravity conditions:

    http://jb.asm.org/cgi/content/full/186/24/8207

    (This particular example has the nasty effective of making bacteria superresistant, which poses major infection and food safety issues for populations in space.)

    Other bacteria express more heat-shock proteins that assist with protein folding, assembly, transport, repair and degradation under microgravity conditions:

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2008cosp…37.3291V

    “Recent research has found that complex organic molecules exist even in interstellar space.”

    Amino acids. Not proteins.

    Apples and oranges. (Or apples and apple seeds.)

    FWIW…

  • Rand,

    COTS is development program oriented toward developing commercial spaceflight to an existing and available market, namely the ISS. Consequently, there are private persons, private equity firms, and venture capitalists willing to fund the initial startup of these New Space companies in order to develop LEO launch systems to reach this market. The profit motive.

    Flexible Path is an architecture whose main focus is to extend humans beyond LEO where no markets currently exist. With no available source of revenue from an established market, few companies and individuals are going to be willing risk any substantial fortune on an enterprise when there is no identifiable financial return on their investments. A permanent base on the Moon however, creates a destination and a market for extended human space travel beyond LEO.

  • Major Tom

    “The problem with the ‘Flexible Path’ as described in the Augustine II final report is that it develops the transportation system and infrastructure first with no established market available to support its development.”

    Two points:

    1) There’s fundamentally no difference between a market for crew, cargo, and propellant to send a human mission to a Lagrange Point, NEO, or Phobos each year and a market for crew, cargo, and propellant to send a human mission to the Moon each year. In fact, the demand for cargo or propellant for some of the former may be greater than the latter.

    2) The logic in the phrase ” it develops the transportation system and infrastructure first with no established market available to support its development” is circular.

    FWIW…

  • I didn’t see a statement from Mr. Simberg to that effect, but regardless, it’s patently false, on several counts.

    That’s because I didn’t make that statement. I said nothing about strong and weak nuclear forces.

    Flexible Path is an architecture whose main focus is to extend humans beyond LEO where no markets currently exist.

    Flexible Path is not an architecture. And no markets currently exist on the moon, either. And nothing you’ve written explains why the contracts must be cost plus versus fixed price.

  • Major Tom,

    Flexible Path is a strategy to build an infrastructure and transportation system to support human space exploration in the absence of any commercial market. Whereas, a strategy to establish a permanent base on the Moon would expand the market for human space travel beyond LEO with a substantial reservoir of raw materials that could be processed into construction materials.

  • Whereas, a strategy to establish a permanent base on the Moon would expand the market for human space travel beyond LEO with a substantial reservoir of raw materials that could be processed into construction materials.

    There are no raw materials that can be processed into construction materials in the asteroids? Who knew?

  • Major Tom

    “The reality is that these studies were undertaken in a Microgravity environment.”

    Do you really think that biological mechanisms that evolved over billions of years in a 1g environment and that have been shown not to work in a 0g environment are going to work well, or at all, when we restore only 17% of 1g (1/6g)?

    Please…

    “Reference 1: ‘Plant reproduction systems in microgravity’”

    Quoting directly from the abstract:

    Morphogenesis of generative organs occurs normally in microgravity, but unlike the ground control, buds and flowers mainly contain sterile elements of the androecium and gynoecium which degenerate at different stages of development in microgravity… Many of the seed formed in microgravity do not contain embryos.

    “If you have the full paper to hand I would be most grateful for the results that conclusively eliminated all factors but the absence of meaningful gravity.”

    Those five factors are all related to the absence of meaningful gravity. (Reread number three, for example.) The researchers just don’t know which factors are immediate causes of the lowered fertility, sterility, and embryonic degeneracy.

    “And add that one species does not represent an entire genera”

    Of course not. But these aren’t the only plant experiments in low gravity that demonstrated lowered fertility, sterility, and embryonic degeneracy.

    “Reference 2: “Behavior and Reproduction of Invertebrate Animals During and After A Long-Term Microgravity…”

    Quoting from the full abstract:

    In the first Mir experiment, no Daphnia were detected when recovered to the ground… Amphipods at 10 hours after the recovery to the ground [from the Shuttle experiment] frequently exhibited a movement of dropping straight-downward to the bottom of the units. Several Amphipods had their legs bent abnormally, which probably resulted from some physiological alterations during their embryonic development under microgravity. From the analysis of the video tape recorded in space, for Ostracods and Daphnia, a half of their population were looping under microgravity. Such looping animals could be observed still at the end of the 4 month stay in space.

    “After recovery to the ground humans often exhibit some physiological alterations that have nothing to do with embryonic development but everything to do with adaptation to that environment”

    There’s a big difference between, say, bone and muscle loss in astronauts and leg disfigurement in developing embryos.

    “Reference 3: “Detrimental Effects of Microgravity on Mouse Preimplantation Development In Vitro”

    Quoting from the abstract:

    However, although we obtained 75 healthy offspring from µG-fertilized and -cultured embryos after transfer to recipient females, the birth rate was lower than among the 1G controls. Immunostaining demonstrated that in vitro culture under µG caused slower development and fewer trophectoderm cells than in 1G controls.

    “Might.”

    Without an adequate number of trophectoderm cells, the embryo cannot attach to the uterine wall and is lost. Trophectoderm cells also form the placenta. Even if the embryo attaches, without an adequate placenta, the embryo starves and aborts.

    “The processes involved in mammalian embryology: cell division and chemo-syntactic migration are identical. The duration might be different but the processes are the same.”

    Your point? Either way, if mice can’t do it, neither can humans.

    “Proteins fold because they have evolved to fold. Via chemical bonds and van der waals forces.”

    The latter are not very strong and can compete with gravity, depending on the molecules and gravitational fields involved. Protein folding in organisms is also mediated by more than just the chemical bonds and Van der Waals forces present in the protein iteself. RNA, protein chaperones, enyzmes, and other molecules also play a role, and their populations can be and are affected by gravity.

    “Not if the study is into establishing an off world ecosystem!”

    But that wasn’t the purpose being discussed.

    “Can we do without flies?”

    No, and engineering an artificial ecosystem that works in a high radiation and low gravity environment would probably be even more challenging than reengineering the human genome for such.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “Flexible Path is a strategy to build an infrastructure and transportation system to support human space exploration in the absence of any commercial market.”

    False.

    Per the table on p. 81 of the final report of the Augustine Committee, all three Flexible Path options utilize “Commercial Crew Transport”.

    “Whereas, a strategy to establish a permanent base on the Moon would expand the market for human space travel beyond LEO”

    False.

    Per p. 42 of the final report of the Augustine Committee, the Flexible Path options assume a “a commercially acquired descent stage”. The Moon First options lack this commercial lunar lander or any commercial element beyond LEO.

    The lunar commercial lander from the Flexible Path options was even highlighted by Administrator Bolden in his speech at the NGLLC award ceremony last week. See my fourth post in this thread.

    “with a substantial reservoir of raw materials that could be processed into construction materials”

    There are no “raw materials” on NEOs or Phobos?

    FWIW…

  • Do you really think that biological mechanisms that evolved over billions of years in a 1g environment and that have been shown not to work in a 0g environment are going to work well, or at all, when we restore only 17% of 1g (1/6g)?

    17% of gravity is a lot more like a full gravity than it is like zero. For instance, I could easily design a 0.17G toilet, but a zero-gee toilet is a lot tougher problem. We don’t know how much gravity is required for health. All that we know is “more than none.”

  • Major Tom,

    You are right that Van der Waals forces, and hydrogen bonding play the major roles in protein folding at the molecular level. My error Rand, I was thinking atomic level and not molecular. However, none of the abstracts you provided had any conclusion that humans space travel would infeasible due the effects on biological functions or increase bacterial resistance due to microgravity environment. Humans have lived in LEO, a microgravity environment, for more than a year. Many NASA astronauts have spent 6 or more months on the Mir or ISS. Clearly, humans can survive in space for protacted periods of time. There is nothing to say that spacecraft which employ or have simulated gravity environments will not be possible in the future. And to draw the general conclusion that it will be virtually impossible for humans to reproduce successfully beyond Earth based on these research studies is fallacious.

    Rand,

    While the Moon lies only 3 days travel time from Earth and humans already have the technology to land on the Moon, traveling to and landing on an asteroid is different proposition which would require new technology such as radiation protection and nuclear propulsion, or at least some kind of propulsion to travel longer distances. Such technologies have not yet been developed sufficiently to a point that they can be used operationally.

  • While the Moon lies only 3 days travel time from Earth and humans already have the technology to land on the Moon, traveling to and landing on an asteroid is different proposition which would require new technology such as radiation protection and nuclear propulsion, or at least some kind of propulsion to travel longer distances.

    Radiation protection comes from mass (water does a decent job). Nuclear propulsion would be nice, but is not essential for longer distances. We don’t need “new technology” to explore and survey asteroids. What we need is low-cost launch, something that Constellation will never provide.

  • Major Tom

    “For instance, I could easily design a 0.17G toilet, but a zero-gee toilet is a lot tougher problem.”

    There’s a lot, lot more physics involved in sub-cellular biological processes than just fluid dynamics. Getting one protein to fold right on a set schedule involves a lot more forces with a lot more sensitivities than getting a fluid to flow in one direction.

    And the complexity of a plumbing system can’t compare with the complexity of a cell, tissue, or organism. Getting the right amounts of lots of different types of proteins to fold right at the right times during the development of an organism is monstrously more complex than getting a set of valves to work together.

    “We don’t know how much gravity is required for health. All that we know is ‘more than none.’”

    We’re not just talking about health. We’re talking about embryo development. In that delicate and carefully orchestrated process, I seriously doubt 17% of 1g will do the trick. I have doubts that 33% of 1g will either.

    As long as they don’t try to return to Earth, I don’t deny that humans born and raised on Earth may be able to live out fairly long lifetimes under the Van Allen Belts or buried deep under the Moon’s surface or in an asteroid. But I think we’re going to have a very hard time reproducing successfully in those environments. (And lifers aren’t going to be spending much time outside their metal or polyethylene cans in any event.)

    My 2 cents… FWIW.

  • Rand,

    Yes, we would benefit from low cost launch systems. Commercial enterprise would be the best option in developing low cost transportation systems. However, commercial industry will not develop transportation systems if there is no existing market upon which to generate revenue. The government objective should be to create, expand, and protect markets. The construction of the ISS was pivotal to establishing a human space travel market to LEO. NASA created COTS to help commercial industry develop lower cost launch systems for government cargo and crew transport which was in part already spurred by private and commercial investments like Elon Musk and Orbital Sciences. NASA could help expand the LEO market by creating more destinations for LEO travel, i.e. more space stations like Bigelow spacehabs (preferably cheaper ones than ISS).

    NASA could establish another market beyond LEO by establishing a permanent base on the Moon creating a new market for space travel and resource development. With an identifiable market, commercial industry will be more willing to develop new launch systems/fuel depot systems to travel to the Moon. But in order to establish this base on the Moon, NASA needs to have some kind of heavy lift cargo launcher/crew transportation system to transport supplies and crew to the Moon initially.

  • Major Tom

    “However, none of the abstracts you provided had any conclusion that humans space travel would infeasible due the effects on biological functions… Humans have lived in LEO, a microgravity environment, for more than a year. Many NASA astronauts have spent 6 or more months on the Mir or ISS. Clearly, humans can survive in space for protacted periods of time. There is nothing to say that spacecraft which employ or have simulated gravity environments will not be possible in the future.”

    The discussion was never about the viability of space travel. It was about the viability of space settlement. Don’t confuse a two-year trip to a target in space with living out an entire lifespan and reproduction at that target.

    I’ve never denied that humans should be able to take trips into the solar system with durations lasting months to years with minimal impacts to their lifespan and health. And I think there’s a lot of useful and fun things we could do if we had space programs and capabilities that enabled those kinds of trips.

    But spending decades in a space environment or successfully reproducing in that environment are very, very different things from taking multi-month or multi-year trips to space.

    “or increase bacterial resistance due to microgravity environment.”

    You need to reread that one.

    “And to draw the general conclusion that it will be virtually impossible for humans to reproduce successfully beyond Earth based on these research studies is fallacious.”

    Based on what? In this thread, I’m now up to nine studies that show major negative impacts on basic cellular processes, fertility, viability of embryos, developmental defects, and infant lifespan — from bacteria to plants to invertebrates to mice, from both low gravity and space radiation. I’ve not seen any evidence going the other direction.

    It sucks, but it shouldn’t be surprising given that all these organisms evolved to thrive in a 1g, low radiation environment, not a 0g, 1/6g, or 1/3g environment with high levels of ionizing radiation.

    “traveling to and landing on an asteroid is different proposition which would require new technology such as radiation protection”

    No, a typical 60- to 90-day asteroid mission is not going to require anything substantially different in the way of radiation protection than a 60- to 90-day stay on the Moon.

    “nuclear propulsion, or at least some kind of propulsion to travel longer distances.”

    No, there are slow-moving NEOs (relative to Earth) that pass within a few multiples of lunar orbit radii. You can use the same systems.

    In fact, because you don’t need a separate lander, NEO missions (or other deep space mission) are less expensive to develop than lunar missions, which is what allows the Flexible Path options to start delivering actual human exploration missions sooner than the Moon First options.

    FWIW…

  • Yes, we would benefit from low cost launch systems.

    They aren’t something from which we would merely “benefit.” They are not just “nice to have.” They are essential. That’s what the Aldridge Commission, which Mike Griffin completely ignored, said that it must be “affordable and sustainable.”

    The only way to get them is for NASA to provide a market with a lot of healthy competition. Constellation is exactly the opposite of that.

    The government objective should be to create, expand, and protect markets.

    I agree. That’s why it should be taking the billions it’s going to waste on an operationally unaffordable heavy lifter and instead purchase vast tonnage of propellant, the greatest launch mass requirement (at least in the near term) for exploration.

    NASA could establish another market beyond LEO by establishing a permanent base on the Moon creating a new market for space travel and resource development.

    It could, but there are much more cost-effective ways to achieve the same goal. I just described one.

  • common sense

    “NASA could establish another market beyond LEO by establishing a permanent base on the Moon creating a new market for space travel and resource development.

    It could, but there are much more cost-effective ways to achieve the same goal. I just described one.”

    NASA should enable the capabilities: NASA “explores” and finds out there are resources on the Moon for argument sake. The private sector determines whether these resources are worth anything. Enabling is the key word.

    For example: By enabling LEO access NASA helps the private sector develop the means of transportation. Then NASA goes on to better things to do (Flexible Path) and again figures out where there is some thing, any thing, worthwhile. If so it will find a way to enable access to the Moon to the private sector. The private sector will, or not, build a permanent, or not, base on the Moon, developing, or not, things such as ISRU, providing, or not, transportation and inhabitaion for science programs, etc… As this is being done NAZSA goes on to say NEOs or Mars or wherever. And so on and so forth.

  • By enabling LEO access NASA helps the private sector develop the means of transportation.

    There is no need for NASA to “enable LEO access,” and if it thinks that Ares will do it, it is nuts. The private sector already has the means of transportation. NASA needs to focus on beyond LEO, and stop wasting taxpayers’ money and competing with the private sector.

  • Anon

    @Robert G. Oler,

    “It is to me like saying “our energy policy should be based on the development of Fusion reactors. The advocates of Fusion reactors are correct, we get them, most of our energy problems look to be solved…the problem is that 20 years ago they were 20 years away and today they are still 20 years away. A prudent planner would have to agree that 20 years from now, they will still be 20 years away.”

    Yes, the U.S. spends large sums on fusion research each year, but none on space settlement. I would be happy if NASA spent as much on space settlement research as is spent on fusion research.

  • Anon

    @Major Tom,

    You didn’t limit your statement to the United States, you merely stated their was a 78 year gap between Columbus and the first settlements. So being proved wrong you are once again grasping at straws to avoid admitting you were WRONG. Sheesh….

    Next you will probably be limiting it to the settlement of New York City….

    BTW Settling within the boundaries of the United States wasn’t high on their list for a number of reasons. But it wasn’t due to a lack of technology.

    As for the astronauts having fear of Zero G, you got to be kidding. (Roll Eyes)

    If you read the Right Stuff you would see the astronauts thought the medical researchers were nuts to worry about it. The astronauts were worried about the rockets blowing up, not the effects of zero G. It was the doctors that kept the brakes on Project Mercury by insisting they test chimps first, costing the U.S. to lose the honor of the first man in space to the Soviets by being too cautious.

    Again, READ what was going on at the time. And don’t insult the astronauts that way, the ones I have worked with have little fear of the medical hazards of space and still think the medical staff is too cautious. They would leave for Mars tomorrow if they had the space system to go there.

    Really you are losing your creditability by not being informed on space history, or even the history of the New World. Stick to criticizing the Ares I if you are not familiar with the early history of space.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Gary Miles

    I think that you are missing a key point here in the development of markets.

    At least according to my theories of how The Republic and Free Enterprise should be run…I DONT have any problem (for the most part) with government creating and nurturing markets…but 1) it cannot be the source that sustains them services indefinably and 2) what it is doing to create a market, has to be in the interest of The Republic demonstratively so in the short term.

    If either of those conditions are not accurate or become true, then what we have very quickly is just another name for government subsidy.

    To stay away from earth bound analogies, lets try a space one Geosync comm satellites.

    In my world it is perfectly “OK” in fact correct for government to do things like the Syncom series of satellites. In fact the more I read about the duel between ADVENT and The ideas at Hughes, the more I understand how thoughtful and enlightened government policy was in that era.

    I would not have even had a problem, had there not been a immediate commercial market for the Syncom service had government in the form of the military been the sole source purchaser of the service.

    There was a need for the military and the military was looking for a method of having high speed very secure transmission capability to give it a multiplier past the standard HF type transmissions of the era. So there was a short term gain to The Republic’s future i.

    But at some point, if money was going to be continued to pour into the development of Geosynch vehicles there would have had to develop a truly commercial need which at some point would have started driving development of the product…with the military (in this example) losing its status of sole market customer.

    So while NASA (and the US government) can in fact serve as a market developer for ISS (or ones Moon base) at some point, and soon the government needs to go from being the only consumer for the service to at best a pump primer.

    In my mind commercial lift to the station is an immediate benefit to The Republic, because we have made this investment in ISS and commercial lift is what secures it (and makes continued operation of ISS doable)…but at some point I would become oppossed to the entire operation IF the capability that private enterprise developed for the effort, could not on its own become self sustaining with government just becoming “another customer”.

    This is far different from the government just doing things that support a “market” and in the process have little or no value in the things being done to The Republic.

    Riobert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ November 10th, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Well, the difference is that Virginia Postrel is a real person, not one of Mark’s imaginary friends…

    I am sure some if not all of the people you say are Whittington’s “imaginary” friends are real, and I suspect that he actually knows some of the ones who you suspect he does not know…When I “knew” Mark he did know quite a lot of people. I know at least one person who lives very close to where I am, who is a very good friend of mine (and more so of the bed partner) who is a well known space “commentator” (former NASA person) and who defiantly knows Mark. While “he” sometimes disagrees with him, has the viewpoint that Mark (and you for that matter) are interesting viewpoints to engage and consider.

    There is no doubt VP is a real person (I have read her work and indeed mine is signed by her, although she was signing a great many of them when mine was signed so thats nothing).

    Nor do I even doubt you know her. Nor do I care. But you “knowing” her means nothing in a discussion about my viewpoints on her book, unless you can offer the quote I suggested

    Indeed since you agree that she would label Constellation as “an enemy of the future” (my quote) and have created this odd strawman about “all space settlements” (not my statement) I can only assume that it is because 1) you are just picking an argument and doing the extreme left or right wing shape shifter thing…or 2) are so dense that you cannot grasp the point.

    Which one doesnt matter to me. I have slapped you around rhetorically enough that….

    you have already rung home two of the three rules about losing an argument on the “internets”…I’ll quit before you bring up hitler

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Anon wrote @ November 10th, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Yes, the U.S. spends large sums on fusion research each year, but none on space settlement. ..

    there is a reason for that. Fusion research has the ability to dramatically change the course of The Republic in a demonstratable way if it can be made energy positive (what are they now at about 75 percentighis?) …

    Space settlements…not so much.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Martijn Meijering

    On governments creating markets:

    For the sake of argument, suppose we want a spacefaring society, whether that leads to colonisation or not. This means we want hundreds, thousands of people being launched to space each year. The only way I see that happening is if large numbers of people can afford to do that with their own money. Launch costs will have to come down by at least one and perhaps two orders of magnitude for that to happen.

    RLVs and cheap expendables or some combination of the two are the most promising ways to reduce that cost, but they require high flight rates. The present launch market is not elastic enough to provide enough payloads. Space tourism in LEO could certainly provide enough “human payloads”, but only if cost went down first. This vicious cycle is hard to break.

    We could just wait for the march of technological progress to reduce costs all by itself, but that could take a long time. Perhaps that is what ought to happen, since I’m not convinced opening up space for mankind is a valid reason to spend public funds. I rather think it’s not.

    On the other hand, if NASA and its partners decide to do exploration, they would need to launch vast quantities of mostly propellant to LEO. And since propellant is cheap and perfectly divisible, it can generate high flight rates. Once costs come down, large scale space tourism is a possibility and that could lead to a self sustaining market. This would be good for exploration and good for commercial development of space.

    Not going beyond LEO with public funds is perfectly acceptable. Going beyond LEO and not seizing the opportunity to open up space and to create a whole new industry is inexcusable.

  • @Martijn Meijering

    “1. Altair has been defunded
    2. Altair would cost $0.5B-$1B per unit and ~$500M a year
    3. Habitat units have been defunded
    4. Inflatable domes were never funded in the first place

    There is no money in the budget to allow the sort of thing you’re describing. Cost is the problem, not payload fairings or throw-mass. SDLV makes the problem worse with its high fixed costs and by blocking the road to lower costs to orbit.”

    First off all, Obama hasn’t chosen the next space architecture yet. Over a billion a year is currently being spent on the Ares I all by itself.

    Secondly, Obama and the congress hasn’t approved the extra $3 billion dollars a year yet, recommended by the Augustine Commission

    Third, NASA has already concluded the SD-HLV would be substantially cheaper to develop than the Ares I/V architecture.

    Fourth, after a new SD-HLV architecture was completed, NASA would have over $9 billion dollars a year in funds since they would no longer have to pay for shuttle operations and Constellation development. So that’s plenty of money to operate the new SD-HLV lunar program with the new Altair vehicles. And when the ISS is finally decommissioned, NASA should have $2 billion more in extra funds annually.

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.space-travel.com/reports/CU_Boulder_Butterfly_Payload_To_Launch_On_Space_Shuttle_999.html

    Space settlements for Butterflies…

    somehow I am having this vision of the butterflies getting lose and being sucked into the ventilation system right in front of the little kiddies…sort of a les nesman moment

    “oh the humanity”..

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Martijn Meijering

    and now we are back to the question…why do exploration?

    why not spend the money on say a new ATC system?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Martijn Meijering

    And when the ISS is finally decommissioned, NASA should have $2 billion more in extra funds annually.

    ISS is the closest thing we have to a permanent presence in space and you propose to scuttle it. Unbelievable.

  • Martijn Meijering

    why not spend the money on say a new ATC system?

    Indeed. Or why not just return the money to the taxpayers. I know of no good reason. I do know a very good reason for spending your own money: space is exciting. A pity it’s too expensive.

  • I am sure some if not all of the people you say are Whittington’s “imaginary” friends are real, and I suspect that he actually knows some of the ones who you suspect he does not know.

    There’s no way for me to know that, since Mark never reveals the identity of his imaginary friends. If he ever does so, we may have something to talk about.

    Indeed since you agree that she would label Constellation as “an enemy of the future” (my quote) and have created this odd strawman about “all space settlements” (not my statement) I can only assume that it is because 1) you are just picking an argument and doing the extreme left or right wing shape shifter thing…or 2) are so dense that you cannot grasp the point.

    No, again, I was simply clarifying the issue for those who you may have confused by you about the contents of her book, which had little to do with current space policy in detail.

    Which one doesnt matter to me. I have slapped you around rhetorically enough that….

    Now this is something I’m actually laughing out loud about, not because it’s my own joke, but because it’s your own inadvertent one. And not just because of the grammatical ignorance. I wonder why you get such joy from making of yourself such a fool on the Internet…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Martijn Meijering

    a pity indeed…it is truly amazing how expensive NASA has made it

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    @Rand Simberg:

    “There is no need for NASA to “enable LEO access,” and if it thinks that Ares will do it, it is nuts. The private sector already has the means of transportation. NASA needs to focus on beyond LEO, and stop wasting taxpayers’ money and competing with the private sector.”

    I don’t remember saying that by enabling I meant NASA was to develop a vehicle for LEO access, Ares or otherwise. Try and think what enabling may mean rather than jumping like this…

  • Try and think what enabling may mean rather than jumping like this…

    I’ve given a great deal of thought to that topic, thanks.

  • @ Martijn Meijering

    “And when the ISS is finally decommissioned, NASA should have $2 billion more in extra funds annually.

    ISS is the closest thing we have to a permanent presence in space and you propose to scuttle it. Unbelievable.”

    If the ISS was a space station that actually produced an artificial gravity environment, you’d have a point. But humans are never going to live– permanently– in a microgravity environment. The ISS is just a glorified Skylab.

    There was no logical reason to build a titanic hyper expensive microgravity space station. Small Skylab-like space stations make a lot more sense economically.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ November 11th, 2009 at 3:15 am

    There was no logical reason to build a titanic hyper expensive microgravity space station. Small Skylab-like space stations make a lot more sense economically…

    this is painful. as someone who mostly opposed ISS after 1992 for me to rise to defend it is well …

    what a space station does in terms of micro gee (ie have it or produces more earth like gravity) depends in no small measure on what you are trying to do with the space station.

    With Skylab the effort was simply “survive” and test systems.

    With ISS the stated goal was to allow experimentation of various forms in micro gee environments…ie to allow efforts to find out if unique things (other then blowing soap bubbles) could be done in micro gee that was worth some investment.

    I happen to believe that we will eventually get there in terms of the value of microgee…ie it is my theory that if we can come up with reasonable safety standards and reasonable time to access and reasonable cost to access the stations environment then we will find that human ingenuity enterprise etc will find some unique things that can be done in high vacumn high Microgee that at some point make going into space worth it.

    In that case as a microgee laboratory we are finally coming to the point in the ISS investment cycle where we get a chance to find out.

    Now people like you would dump it.

    I dont get it

    Robert G. Oler

  • brobof

    Sorry my mistake. Apologies to the:
    Robert G. Oler [who] wrote @ November 10th, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    “”Also, whilst we are at it, apart from the various hydroponic experiments carried out with a regolith simulant. I would point out that contrary[my emphasis] to [Robert G. Oler wrote @ November 9th, 2009 at 1:23 am]
    “Several authors (1,2,3,4) report that lunar material added to a hydroponic culture increases plant growth…”

    I do not know how my name got in there but I said nothing of the kind

    Robert G. Oler”
    Congratulations btw! What on earth are you doing posting here for goodness sake!
    http://www.bouncing-new-baby.com/Teaching_Baby.htm OT I know!

    (Ahem.) Addressing the:
    Robert G. Oler [wot] wrote @ November 9th, 2009 at 1:23 am
    “Rand…nice.
    All the equipment to grow the plants, the plants, and the environment that they grow in
    There is not a single planet in the solar system whose soil would support plant growth.[my emphasis]
    Unlike the folks at Jamestown, who could just bring seeds.
    Robert G. Oler”

    Dear Robert G. Oler writing at @ November 9th, 2009 at 1:23 am. OK the Moon is not exactly a planet. But regolith makes just a fine soil and even a nutritional supplement. (Perhaps we could import it from the Moon!)

  • brobof

    I repeat: “I wrote that there would be “enormous reproductive risks in lower gravity environments.”” Major Tom.
    References please, as far as this scientist is aware there have been no studies to that effect.

    To continue:
    Major Tom [wot] wrote @ November 10th, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    “I’ve provided references to six experiments [...] Greatly[...] would magically avoid these enormous health hazards.”
    Greatly? ‘Fraid not! And with reference to your latest cites:

    http://gravitationalandspacebiology.org/index.php/journal/article/viewFile/30/30 Is a duff link no value there :(

    The other two relate to studies utilising “…bioreactor technology generat[ing] a unique Low-Shear Modeled Microgravity (LSMMG) environment and is exploited as analogue for in vivo medical and space environments.” and are thus not quite the real thing! Even so from a quick perusal of the texts both seem to support the contention that bacteria seem to do quite nicely in the LSMMG environment and indeed have biological mechanisms in place to rapidly adapt to said environment! This is also true from those studies carried out in a real microgravity environment. Although whether they will be true for an environment where
    there is a low gravitational field is moot! Perhaps we need to do some experiments on the Moon!

    But there are caveats. Notably in your second cite:
    “While the mechanistic basis of SMG [Simulated MicroGravity- bb] effect on cell resistance at this stage must remain speculative [my emphasis], it is clear that this gravity condition introduces a new comprehensive cellular resistance paradigm and promises to shed light on basic mechanisms that regulate translational control and proteolysis. Insights into these phenomena are important not only for the safety of space travel, but also in enhancing our understanding of fundamental biological processes on Earth.”

    and

    “As the extent of RssB phosphorylation may be a factor in determining {sigma}s stability (10), it is conceivable that SMG promotes RssB phosphorylation, thereby increasing {sigma}s instability. An additional possibility [my emphasis] regarding the effect of SMG on the stability of this sigma factor relates to the fact that ClpXP protease activity is greatly affected by the folding pattern of its substrate (12). Previous studies show that space microgravity influences protein crystal formation (21), which suggests that diminished gravity and shear may influence protein-folding patterns. If so, {sigma}s folding under SMG might be altered, making it a more suitable target for ClpXP cleavage.”

    Alas crystalisation is not the same as conformation. But they might be right!

    From the third reference you conclude: “We’ve also seen that key proteins involved in mRNA expression in E. coli bacteria become more labile and have shortened half-lives in microgravity conditions:”
    Er No! from your source:

    “Thus, the main reasons for the differential effect of SMG on {sigma}s levels in the two phases are that it renders the sigma protein much more labile in the exponential than in the stationary phase and increases rpoS mRNA translational efficiency.”

    It is the growth phase that is critical here not the SIMULATED microgravity! This is the only mention of labile in the paper. Unless I am missing something? You will note that the biochemistry seems to work better in SMG!

    Sorry Major but again neither of these new references support your contention of “enormous reproductive risks in lower gravity environments.”

  • brobof

    [With apologies to Jeff or the Moderators (To whom I would be most grateful if they will allow a second bite at the refutation!)]

    Major Tom wrote @ November 10th, 2009 at 4:55 pm
    “Do you really think that biological mechanisms that evolved over billions of years in a 1g environment and that have been shown not to work in a 0g environment are going to work well, or at all, when we restore only 17% of 1g (1/6g)?”

    Given that the “1 g environment” is an aqueous solution and that biological mechanisms have been shown to work only too well in a 0 g environment. Eg swallowing and increasing virulence to name but two. YES! Really!

    There is a big difference between the absence of something and its presence!
    Please…

    “There’s a big difference between, say, bone and muscle loss in astronauts and leg disfigurement in developing embryos.”

    Yes one is reversible physiological adaption to the micro gravitational environment and the other is perhaps a… non reversible physiological adaption to the micro gravitational environment. (Perhaps? Remember these invertebrates can regrow legs!) Whilst I can think of no end of follow up studies… Neither of these, however, present: “enormous reproductive risks in lower gravity environments.”

    On Mice and Major Tom
    [Major Tom wrote @ November 9th, 2009 at 1:22 am ]:

    “If we’re already getting these kinds of bad reproductive results across such a range of lower lifeforms, the effects are not going to be less benign in higher lifeforms like humans with more complex embryonic development cycles.”

    HUMANS DO NOT HAVE MORE COMPLEX DEVELOPMENT CYCLES THAN MICE! All the stages are present! (One could argue that at a cellular level both mice and men don’t have more complex development cycles than comb jellies! But we’ll let that pass.)

    “But 75 healthy offspring from µG-fertilized and -cultured embryos after transfer to recipient females,”

    Can you not see that the MICE DID DO IT! With a little help from the humans that presumably:
    A removed ova and sperm
    B transported same into space
    C artificially fertilised the eggs
    D cultured them in the µG environment
    E brought them back down to earth
    F reimplanted them in terrestrial host mothers

    After all even in brutal 1 g field IVF doesn’t always work. Even leaving out steps B & E! Have you considered the possibility that because of the absence of gravity the developing embryo needs less attachment to the uterine wall and that if the process had been continued, normal gestation and birth may have occurred. We have to do the experiment before you can make your conclusion!

    Alternatively we may conclude that on the available evidence: If mice CAN do it, so CAN Major humans! :)

  • brobof

    [With apologies to Jeff or the Moderators (To whom I would be most grateful if they will allow a second bite at the refutation!)]

    Major Tom wrote @ November 10th, 2009 at 4:55 pm
    “Do you really think that biological mechanisms that evolved over billions of years in a 1g environment and that have been shown not to work in a 0g environment are going to work well, or at all, when we restore only 17% of 1g (1/6g)?”

    Given that the “1 g environment” is an aqueous solution and that biological mechanisms have been shown to work only too well in a 0 g environment. Eg swallowing and increasing virulence to name but two. YES! Really!

    There is a big difference between the absence of something and its presence!
    Please…

    “There’s a big difference between, say, bone and muscle loss in astronauts and leg disfigurement in developing embryos.”

    Yes one is reversible physiological adaption to the micro gravitational environment and the other is perhaps a… non reversible physiological adaption to the micro gravitational environment. (Perhaps? Remember these invertebrates can regrow legs!) Whilst I can think of no end of follow up studies… Neither of these, however, present: “enormous reproductive risks in lower gravity environments.”

    On Mice and Major Tom
    [Major Tom wrote @ November 9th, 2009 at 1:22 am ]:

    “If we’re already getting these kinds of bad reproductive results across such a range of lower lifeforms, the effects are not going to be less benign in higher lifeforms like humans with more complex embryonic development cycles.”

    HUMANS DO NOT HAVE MORE COMPLEX DEVELOPMENT CYCLES THAN MICE! All the stages are present! (One could argue that at a cellular level both mice and men don’t have more complex development cycles than comb jellies! But we’ll let that pass.)

    “But 75 healthy offspring from µG-fertilized and -cultured embryos after transfer to recipient females,”

    Can you not see that the MICE DID DO IT! With a little help from the humans that presumably:
    A removed ova and sperm
    B transported same into space
    C artificially fertilised the eggs
    D cultured them in the µG environment
    E brought them back down to earth
    F re-implanted them in terrestrial host mothers

    After all even in brutal 1 g field IVF doesn’t always work. Even leaving out steps B & E! Have you considered the possibility that because of the absence of gravity the developing embryo needs less attachment to the uterine wall and that if the process had been continued, normal gestation and birth may have occurred. We have to do the experiment before you can make your conclusion!

    Alternatively we may conclude that on the available evidence: If mice CAN do it, so CAN Major humans! :)

  • Robert G. Oler

    the arguments over human reproduction in microgee are silly…just absurd.

    We are decades away and a lot of social discussion from that happening. Go watch Cindy Pickett (I think) in PIlgrim if you must keep talking about it …

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    OK having called the debate silly, I do want to say why it is silly…

    and to some extent it points to why according to “my friend” (Rand just in case you wonder…Mark W has meet this friend we sat in his office while he was chief of staff to the then Senior Senator of Texas…and Mark knew that I just called him up and got into see him and “Phil”…lol)…is the reason that space activist are for the most part on the “bottom end of the lobby chain”.

    There are serious medical questions as to 1) human survivability in either microgee space or any of the planetary bodies off the earth (radiation, etc) and 2) who knows about reproduction. Even if we solve the former the latter is going to go very very slowly for all sorts of reasons …

    all of which are political (this is the space politics board) …because of the technical decisions involved. I’ll name three.

    1. Since we dont know what the first “Virginia Dare” of the space age looks like after 9 months of either less g or micro gee gestation unless this event occurs under the most depressing of circumstances, this child is going to be the most monitored fetus gestation in the history of mankind…

    (as an aside this reinforces my notion of how space settlements are different from say the early American continent ones, I bet Virginia Dare’s mother had the most primitive prenatal one could imagine even for that era.)

    who is going to pay for all this “care”? (and can one see the politics in that while some on earth in The Republic do not get prenatal care?)

    Space advocates are generally for government run space programs but most are against any kind of government run health care…so the big question is who pays for all the pre natal care? Or the equipment to make all this happen?

    Does anyone think that a “company” doing something in space is going to say to a perspective mother “ok you are preggers, stay in space we will send all the equipment up and a special OBGYN to take care of you” right. When the military finds out females are pregnant deployed they go home unless they are already on the way home.

    2. assuming that the child pops out ok who is going to pay for all the care? Stay at home moms are decades away in space settlements, my great grandmother when she had her children on the Texas frontier remarked about “taking a day off” and then going right back to work. The other kids did the heavy lifting in terms of baby care…but assume that “momma” is a something in a space settlement…do we have maternity leave? who takes over her job? As an aside the right wing is generally against maternity leave as well.

    3. OK things dont work out ok and about 5 months in we find the fetus has serious deformities… what next ? Abortion?….Sarah Palin and the rest of the right wing nuts go insane. (see the current health care debate). Or does it become (I love the euphemism) “the first special needs child” ? then 3B …who pays for its care afterwards. Sarah Palin and her hubby have it comparatively easy with a “special needs child” because they have (wait for it) government run health care…

    Come to think of it, in Star Trek (any) I never saw a female crewman in her maternity gear…maybe they fixed the 9 month gestation period. (replicators?)

    reproducing in space for humans is one of those things for which a group can have endless arguments because there is almost no data and likely to not be any anytime real soon…so the debate just goes on colored not by hard data but by the other instincts of the posters…”sure humans can reproduce in space, we are explorers we did it everywhere else on earth that we explored”…then there are those pesky people like Major Tom who insist on asking hard and valid questions.

    But none of this advances the entire notion of a space fairing civilization all that much, because none of it is anything that is going to happen in the anytime near future.

    My wife and I are pregnant. She is middle age so there was modest risk (although no predisposal of it) to Downs syndrome…and both of us have had over the last few years LOTS of vaccines for almost everything under the sun…and that worried both of us however she is in excellent physical shape…and so far the best medical care that money can buy (Uncle sam) says that everything is going 4.0. (we have government run health care!)

    Anyone who wants to have the “first kid in space” is nuts. there are so many problems that can happen period with human gestation that to add that variable at the state of knowledge we have now is about as irresponsible as telling your teenage daughter that abstinence only works when you abstain and not discussing any alternatives.

    OH well we have people who do that as well and some of them want to be POTUS.

    It is a mad mad mad mad world!

    We should as space activist in my view discuss things that are well “on the radar” of our lifetime.

    FWIW

    Now I am off to actually do some work. First time in the big airplane in quite a long time!

    Robert G. Oler

  • “In that case as a microgee laboratory we are finally coming to the point in the ISS investment cycle where we get a chance to find out.

    “Now people like you would dump it.

    I dont get it”

    If we’re going to continue to pump $2 billion a year into a space station program, I’d rather pump it into cheaper single unit Skylab-like space stations launched by an SD-HLV. And if Europe or Japan or private industry or the military wants their own space station, they could pay NASA to launch space stations into orbit for them too.

    Multiple space stations designed for specific task and utilized by different nations or private commercial industries or the US military– the way they want to use them– makes a lot more sense than a grand centralized space station.

  • common sense

    “I’ve given a great deal of thought to that topic, thanks.”

    So are you arguing for the sake of arguing? Not exactly constructive. Or are you saying that you already thought everything over? If so you may want to get the Admin job or a job as a close consultant to the Admin.

    Very strange.

  • “I’ve given a great deal of thought to that topic, thanks.”

    So are you arguing for the sake of arguing?

    No.

    Or are you saying that you already thought everything over?

    No, not that, either.

    I’m simply saying what I said. That I’ve given a great deal of thought to that topic, and written about it at length. Or did you not follow the link?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams

    no one knows what Skylab sized stations would cost in resupply

    Robert G. Oler

  • We know that it would be a lot cheaper to supply than using the space shuttle which can only transport 25 tonnes of payload into orbit per launch while an SD-HLV could transport up to 100 tonnes of payload to LEO per launch. And even a manned SD-HLV with a 22 tonne Orion-CEV should be capable of also bringing at least 50 to 75 tonnes of additional payload to orbit.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams almost anything is cheaper then the shuttle or for that matter, its dervative vehicles

    Robert G. Oler

  • Marcel F. Williams almost anything is cheaper then the shuttle or for that matter, its dervative vehicles

    Not Ares. It will be more expensive.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ November 12th, 2009 at 12:09 am
    I wrote:
    Marcel F. Williams almost anything is cheaper then the shuttle or for that matter, its dervative vehicles
    Rand replied:
    Not Ares. It will be more expensive.

    you are correct amazingly

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    you are correct amazingly

    in my kinder gentler mode…that could have been seen as a cheap shot. Instead it was an amazement at the Ares being more expensive then the shuttle…

    the editor regrets the error

    Robert g. Oler

  • The Ares proponents claim that its cost doesn’t matter, because it will be safer than Shuttle. Even if we accept that claim (I don’t buy it), it implies that safety is the highest value. That implies that space is unimportant, and that there is nothing to be done there worth risking lives for.

  • Major Tom

    “Yes, the U.S. spends large sums on fusion research each year”

    No, we don’t. Total funding for fusion energy sciences is only about $300 million per year.

    http://www.ofes.fusion.doe.gov/FusionDocuments/07FES.pdf

    That’s a small fraction of the annual STS or ISS budget.

    “You didn’t limit your statement to the United States, you merely stated their was a 78 year gap between Columbus and the first settlements.”

    Non-U.S.:

    In 1496 the town of Nueva Isabela was founded by Bartolomeo Columbus on the island of Hispanola, and was destroyed by a hurricane less than eight years later.

    Santa María la Antigua del Darién was a settlement established in 1510 by Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa on the Caribbean coast of what is now Darien, between Panama and Colombia. In 1519, Santa María la Antigua del Darién was abandoned and in 1524 was attacked and burned by the indigenous people.

    Joao Alvares Fagundes organized several expeditions to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia around 1520-1521. His colony in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia was only five years old when it was abandoned. Hostility from the natives, and extremes of temperature to which the Portuguese colonists were not accustomed, are often cited as causes of the project’s failure.

    In 1534, King Francis I sent Jacques Cartier on the first of three voyages to explore the coast of Newfoundland and the St. Lawrence River. The French subsequently tried to establish several colonies throughout North America that failed, due to weather, disease or conflict with other European powers. Cartier attempted to create the first permanent European settlement in North America at Cap-Rouge in 1541 with 400 settlers but the settlement was abandoned the next year after bad weather and Indian attacks.

    From 1555 to 1567, French Huguenots, under the leadership of vice-admiral Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon, made an attempt to establish the colony of France Antarctique in what is now Brazil, but were expelled.

    More U.S.:

    A small group of French troops were left on Parris Island, South Carolina in 1562 to build Charlesfort, but left after a year when they were not resupplied from France.

    The French established Fort Caroline in present-day Jacksonville, Florida in 1564, which lasted only a year before being destroyed by the Spanish.

    “So being proved wrong you are once again grasping at straws to avoid admitting you were WRONG. Sheesh….”

    I’m not wrong. See directly above.

    “Next you will probably be limiting it to the settlement of New York City….”

    Don’t exaggerate. I didn’t and I’m not. See above.

    “BTW Settling within the boundaries of the United States wasn’t high on their list for a number of reasons.

    Whose list?

    Your point?

    “But it wasn’t due to a lack of technology.”

    What does technology have to do with it?

    Your point?

    “As for the astronauts having fear of Zero G, you got to be kidding. (Roll Eyes)… The astronauts were worried about the rockets blowing up, not the effects of zero G.”

    In a prior post, you claimed that John Young stated “The mere experiment of eating under weightlessness caused some concern.” Now you claim that the early astronauts were not worried about “the effects of zero G”.

    Which is it?

    “If you read the Right Stuff…”

    Be careful. “The Right Stuff” is a piece of new journalism. It’s not a purely historical text.

    “… you would see the astronauts thought the medical researchers were nuts to worry about it… It was the doctors that kept the brakes on Project Mercury by insisting they test chimps first, costing the U.S. to lose the honor of the first man in space to the Soviets by being too cautious.”

    None of which means that some astronauts didn’t have some microgravity health concerns, whether legitimate or not.

    “And don’t insult the astronauts that way,”

    I didn’t. I stated that “I’m not going to debate whether Young or other astronauts had various health fears, both legitimate and not so legitimate, about the missions the undertook. Of course they did. Any of us would.”

    Assuming that astronauts are human and experience human feelings is not insulting.

    “the ones I have worked with have little fear of the medical hazards of space”

    Of course astronauts today don’t have the same fears as the early astronauts. Humans have been flying in LEO for over 40 years now.

    “Really you are losing your creditability [sic]”

    You really shouldn’t accuse other posters of losing credibility if you can’t spell credibility.

    Oy vey…

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