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EdH are you channeling Rich Lowry? ...

by Evie / August 13, 2005 9:03 AM PDT

... or .... Wink

Reason I ask is that I thought you summed the state of the shuttle program up quite succinctly here

Look, we can spin our wheels and go nowhere or we can call on the people who will get things done.

Clearly we are now doing the former. The Shuttle's mission is to get up to the Space Station. The Space Station's mission is to provide a place for the Shuttle to go.

That post was dated 8/9 11:32 am PST

A couple of days later, I'm perusing NRO and here is Rich Lowry (8/12)

Defenders of the embattled shuttle program say, among other things, that it is needed to support the international space station. Alas, it?s true. The shuttle basically exists to go to the space station, and the space station exists so the shuttle can have someplace to go. They are mutually reinforcing boondoggles.

Speaking for myself, I think I'm not alone in being somewhat blinded to the bottom line while the shuttle was in orbit. But once we breathed that sigh of relief one really did have to ask one's self "what was that mission all about???"

Time for a rethink no matter which way we go forward. It is TIME to move forward or not at all.

Evie Happy

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Re:".... what was that mission all about???"
by Mac McMullen / August 13, 2005 10:28 AM PDT

The stated primary function was to resupply the space station. I suppose unstated, and held by TPTB in NASA, the preservation of the kingdom depended upon a successful mission.

No one has yet explained, in terms this poor old country boy can understand, the "real" objective and expected benefits to human kind, of space exploration.

And when I see the tax $$$$ numbers involved, I'm really set to wondering.

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Agree with you!
by Glenda / August 13, 2005 11:00 AM PDT

It's not like we have anyplace to colonize out there:(
The money spent on space would do a lot here if spent on health and education:(

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Not to be melodramatic, Del,
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / August 13, 2005 1:33 PM PDT

but every so often our planet is visited by some sort of catastrophe that makes life difficult if not impossible for most of the higher life forms that inhabit it. One long-term goal of space exploration is to ensure that what happened to the dinosaurs doesn't happen to us. The other key factor is that one defining feature of humankind is the desire to know what's over the next hill -- to quote a popular TV show of my youth, space really is "the final frontier." As for what benefits (other than the insurance policy I mentioned at the beginning), we won't really know until we get there. Columbus didn't know what he'd find when he set off to find what was on the other side of the world -- but the benefits have certainly been worth it, doncha think?

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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But even that more abstract lofty goal considered ...
by Evie / August 13, 2005 10:47 PM PDT

... are we actually moving FORWARD? My answer is *no* Sad

Evie Happy

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I thought that the intent of the Space Station was science
by Ziks511 / August 13, 2005 6:19 PM PDT

and to have a jumping off place for more distant missions like Mars. It is also a more comfortable and extensive habitat which permits long term residency for experiments and long term missions and studies. Certainly the Shuttle was built in order to build and facilitate the Station, but the idea of the Station and its missions were independent of, and preceded (as I understand it) the Shuttle.

Science is being forced to scale back in so many areas because the taxpayer is disinclined to pay for it. Let's try to keep this project going. The benefits of Space exploration are many and unpredictable. We wouldn't have the large scale integrated circuit and the home computer had it not been for the early manned missions, for example.


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The original mission as sold was to be a ''space truck''
by EdH / August 13, 2005 10:05 PM PDT

A reusable vehicle that would be used to launch and repair satellites and help build things like the Space Station. Other more economical ways to launch satellites have been in use and Shuttle is no longer used for that since Challenger. There are also easier and more economical ways to service the Space Station.

Scientific experimentation is minimal on Shuttle and it's not that practical a platform for it. The ISS is a better one, bit still the missions are really more political than scientific.

As far as a jumping off point, we seem to be stallesd on that.

I want to see more private involvement and some big monetary prizes like the X- Prize for goals accomplished. I have a feeling the old heavy rocket model may NOT be the best method for getting up there, but we seem to be stuck with it as government monopolizes space travel for now.

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A wild thought came to mind ...
by Bill Osler / August 13, 2005 10:16 PM PDT

Is space exploration now a bit like the computer industry was 40 years ago? There are a handful of players selling "big iron" to do enormous projects at enormous cost.

The idea of smaller, less expensive vehicles to access space is appealing (witness the X Prize) but nobody has really figured out how to do it.

Do you think anybody will come up with the astronomical equivalent of the PC? Will some future "Astro$oft" company dominate that market?

The down side, of course, is that the astronomical equivalent of the BSOD could result in people dying. I think we would want space ships that are a bit more reliable than Windows.

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I agree with that model
by EdH / August 13, 2005 10:46 PM PDT

Some people WILL die. That has always been the case with exploration, aviation, automotive, whatever. Shutting down the program for two yesrs every time there's fatalities just doesn't cut it.

We don't have our "Macintosh" yet, but we will.

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Risk to life ...
by Evie / August 13, 2005 10:56 PM PDT

... as you say, there will always be risk.

For this mission, they couldn't figure out what the problem was with redundant sensors. Wiring we were told. Huh?????? This isn't some newfangled machine, you've had four of these things going into space for decades now and WIRING???? Then the risk of a problem was like 1.5%. Maybe that's what it always is but it seemed irresponsible to send SEVEN people into space to test out! Even those that would cheer this mission have to admit that whatever was accomplished sure as heck didn't need a full crew. What would they have done HAD severe damage been seen during the "back flip?". (A) Send up the other shuttle and take which astronauts back? or (B) Send up the Russian ship -- it was mentioned that the couches in this ship must be made to fit the individual and they didn't even do this as a backup scenario.

What a mess Sad

Evie Happy

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I think the shuttle is much more reliable
by Dragon / August 14, 2005 11:28 AM PDT
In reply to: Risk to life ...

than earlier missions, from what Ive heard. If true maybe the earlier ones were just luckier.

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While I have long been a "space booster"...
by Evie / August 13, 2005 10:39 PM PDT

... for this very reason

The benefits of Space exploration are many and unpredictable. We wouldn't have the large scale integrated circuit and the home computer had it not been for the early manned missions, for example.

{not sure if this specific technology can be attributed to space exploration, but many, MANY can, so no need to pick nits}

I don't believe this is really the case anymore. The technology on the shuttle is OLD (and that is a charitable description). The technology advances are being made despite NASA, not because of it. This is sad, but it is the truth.

So we can -- as with Hubbel -- mire our efforts in bureaucratic/political efforts to keep old technology going, or we can do a gut check and find other means to move FORWARD.

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Analogy - Identity theft infomercials on TV
by Mac McMullen / August 14, 2005 5:31 AM PDT

You know, those spots about identity theft that end with
the statement @ ''I don't care, it's not my money''.

Government strategic planning and procurement are so mirred
in ''pomp and circumstance'', ie, check lists devised decades
ago; memorized and followed to the letter by bureaucrats,
that imagination; innovation; cost control, and time
urgency, not being on those check lists, are never

At times, as a tax payer, I feel government is quilty of
identity theft. I think it time to replace bureaucrats
with some old-time horse traders. People who look at the
state of health of the animal, bargain a fair price, and
make the deal. Today, by the time they go thru the competitive
bidding ''pomp'', and get something underway, technology
is two generations ahead. Particularly when the people
drafting the specs and reviewing the responses probably
couldn't recognize the difference between a shuttle and
a broom handle.

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Someone earlier mentioned France's many
by Dragon / August 14, 2005 11:24 AM PDT

rockets sending payloads into space. Other countries are getting on to the wagon. Even a private American company has recently announced a trip around the moon, in coming years. I also read somewhere that the shuttles are no longer taking satellites into orbit.

I guess all the business is going to these other places? At any rate, I agree that science must go on. The result of these profits are not a given but there are always profits, often unexpected and of a value that cannot be anticipated.

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To me the benefits of space exploration are obvious...
by EdH / August 13, 2005 9:49 PM PDT

but probably not as obvious to evereyone. It WILL be done, by someone. The question for me is whether we are doing it the right way, and with Shuttle I think not.

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It was all about PC, the correct diversity, etc. in getting
by Kiddpeat / August 13, 2005 11:06 AM PDT

the numbers right for going into space. It's supposed to be a nice, safe ride for those balancing the scales of political correctness.

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Keeping up with the Jones'
by gooslojo / August 13, 2005 4:08 PM PDT

We lost.The Russians beat us into space in front of the whole world and we've been tying to compensate for that defeat by "exploring" space with irrelevant "missions" at taxpayers expense.To boldly go where no Russian has gone before.

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I think the Russians wouldnt be up there if not
by Dragon / August 14, 2005 11:30 AM PDT

for our charity.

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Charity Had Nothing To Do with It
by gooslojo / August 14, 2005 12:32 PM PDT
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(NT) (NT) Ok, I was thinking of more current times
by Dragon / August 15, 2005 11:47 AM PDT
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That's a massive distortion and oversimplification
by EdH / August 14, 2005 8:27 PM PDT

of the History of space exploration.Competition with the Russians has not been a factor for decades.

The real race was to the moon. We won that hands down and Russia pretty much dropped out. But the relevance of that is more Historical detail now than anything else.

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Oversimplify This
by gooslojo / August 15, 2005 12:27 AM PDT

Medicare is being cut..again
Social Security is nearly bankrupt.
National Debt=7.8 Trillion

Space,the final frontier.I imagine the first group of teeming masses relocating to space will be unemployed and looking for work in the new frontier.

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That is a different issue.
by EdH / August 15, 2005 12:41 AM PDT
In reply to: Oversimplify This

If you want to argue against a Space Program for budgetary
reasons you might have a point. I'm all for more privatisation and less government involvement.

But I daresay there are other programs that could be jettisoned as well and for better reason.

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(NT) (NT) Fair Enough
by gooslojo / August 15, 2005 1:05 AM PDT
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No, actually. I wasn't sure who Richard Lowry was...
by EdH / August 13, 2005 9:43 PM PDT

But what I have been saying is what many in teh "space communpty" have also been saying for a long time. That saying about the missions of the Shuttle and Space Station is not a new one. I don't know who first came up with it.

I've3 been a space buff my whole life. There hacev been debates about the design and mission of the Shuttle since the beginning.

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