Beyond the Cusp

December 12, 2016

How Bad do Americans Want to be First in Space?

 

It has been a while since NASA and space have been much of a news item. With the cancellation of the Space Shuttle, which really did not go into SPACE Space, NASA has kind of fallen by the wayside. President Obama had set the target as Mars, an Asteroid, but definitely not the Moon; as we have “Been there, Done that.” Well, right about now being capable of getting American Astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) using an American rocket of any sort would be a step in the right direction. Many of you are probably scratching your heads and wondering where did this idea stem from. Well, I read that NASA has a plan for a space station, all American this time would be nice, in Moon orbit from which to go Mars, Moon, Asteroids, just about anywhere. They want to use this station to test some theoretical shielding systems which should protect against radiation. Yes, radiation, a real set of shields like real science fiction spaceships have. They want to power the station for correcting the orbit with, wait for it, electronic drive systems. Can you say Ion Drivers? I knew you could. Their plans reach into the 2030’s but I bet Americans do not want the race to place an orbiting station in Moon orbit or a real underground Moon Base to be anywhere near or close to the Chinese who claim they will have a Moon base by the early to mid-2030’s. My bet is knowing that the Chinese, yes, the Chinese building on American and Russian know-how, are screaming at their monitors about now, “What’s the holdup?” Well, the usual, funding.

 

Let’s talk NASA funding. Anybody have an idea on the percentage of the budget NASA used to go to the Moon, assist with building the ISS, the entire Shuttle fleet? Not the actual cost in dollars as that is too relative, the percentage? Was it 10%, 15%, 20%? Too low or too high? Well, believe it or not too high so let’s try under 10%. Was it 8%, 5%, 3%, how low would we need to go? Perhaps we should first figure out what it would be worth for the United States to build a Space Wheel with central hub serving as a dock for building any size ship for any destination desired with the ability to tow Asteroids for the metals, ceramics, gold, silver and any other necessary materials including enough water to power the entire venture and transmit power back to fixed Earth stations from space? All of this with a proper Moon Base with the vast majority of the base safely underground protected from Asteroid and Meteor strikes and the Space Wheel and Moon Base entrances all self-sealing from anything smaller than decent rock size holes and a system of lasers, both pulsed and pulse types for differing requirements which automatically fire to destroy larger or even down to as small as an inch projectiles keeping them from striking the sensitive areas where people can even live. A Space Wheel spinning at the correct speed would give five or six levels of near Earth gravity and the central hub could be used for zero gravity manufacturing which allows for perfect crystals and electronics and electronic miniaturization with precisions not possible on Earth due to gravity of the situation. Any ship build from workers based on the Space Wheel could use smaller grabber craft with ion drivers and a pulse driver to assist in gaining return velocity and stopping for fetching Asteroids for materials and resources which would pay for everything in time and give the Earth needed resources of precious metals and who knows what else would be discovered. It all is a dream but would you be willing to invest 3% or maybe, dare we suggest, 5% of the budget set aside just like military spending for NASA and other space related activities by private enterprises which could be subsidized just like General Electric, Chrysler, General Motors and the Banks but actually accomplishing something. This could be done in style at 5% of budget as NASA has rarely cleared 1% of budget.

 

Space Station Double Wheel from Stanley Kubrick Arthur C. Clarke 2001 A Space Odyssey

Space Station Double Wheel
from Stanley Kubrick Arthur C. Clarke
2001 A Space Odyssey

 

You are amazed now, right? Well, there is a reason they always told you how many billions of dollars were “wasted” on NASA and Space things, never going to Mars or propulsion systems for interstellar exploration, or a Moon Base and Space Wheel. No, it was space junk or wasted on space with nothing to show for it. Well, at less than 1% of the budget and often floating around ¾% of the budget, yes, that is 0.75% of the budget, what did you expect, miracles? Well, considering their budget you did get miracles like first men on the Moon, only people to land on the Moon, and with some effort it could be first woman on the Moon, first whatever you choose on the Moon, first Mom to Mars, first family born in space, at 5% of budget we bet NASA could wow the world again. Of course there would be one other item, NASA should be returned to their parent, the Air Force with a General running the show so as to keep things real, just a suggestion as NASA has done some boneheaded things such as crashing a Mars probe because somebody did not transfer the European specifications from meters to feet and thus the speed was grossly underestimated and BOOM! Well, no boom as Mars atmosphere would only transmit a loud clap, yes a series of loud rapid claps as it crashed into Mars way too fast for survival. We all know that many missions NASA had launched were for the Military or the CIA or other even more clandestine agencies so why not quit hiding the link and make it official, the American Military is running the space program and be done with it. Still, 5% or even 3% would seem like they hit the Lottery at NASA and the Military could now put their “black ops space items” onto NASA missions with far less argument, not that NASA ever said no that we know about, nor would we ever know such things or talk about them if we did. Alright, enough with the paranoia and back to Earth or at least Earth bound orbits.

 

Image of NASA Space Vehicle Concept Ship

Image of NASA Space Vehicle Concept Ship

 

The above picture depicts a NASA prototype of the Orion space vehicles. These would sit upon the new heavy lift rocket systems with smaller support more likely contracted out to Space X, Axiom Space, Bigelow Aerospace, Virgin Galactic or any of the literally dozens of other venture space companies. These other space companies could also place their own experiments or modules onto the Moon Base or Space Wheel as long as they would meet certain specifications as it helps if the seals fit tightly and do not leak because they were made to the wrong size. There could even be an additional wheel with set asides for such projects which required livable requirements with Earth gravity and add on space to the Space Doc built to orbit within workable distance from the Space Wheel central hub unit for anything requiring zero gravity and possibly everything inbetween using the service legs of the wheel. The hardest part, as proven by the landing on the Moon in under a decade starting from more rocket failures at launch with some of the most spectacular and impressive explosions in the early 1960s and the Moon in July 1969, America can do whatever they wish in space if only they commit to do whatever they want in space.

 

There are always those who do not believe that the Human Race must conquer space and claim it is all a waste of money. These people can be vocal while the dreamers are often the quiet sort leaving their noise for cheering launches trying to out shout the deep rumbling grumble of the first stage rocket and boosters. The supporters of active and daring space development programs, despite knowing that the ultimate fruits are not going to materialize in their lifetimes, are committed and hope to make such developments as a driver for interstellar missions become a reality before their grandchildren’s, or to be bolder, children’s lives end. The obvious secret about such grand ventures is that the sooner we, as a people, begin to venture towards these goals, the sooner we will overcome the difficulties we will encounter. NASA has developed a projected mission profile for the initial Orion Mission (see below). Their claim is they may, if all proceeds as well as expected, to have the craft orbit the Moon instead of a single trip around using a free return gravity driven return orbit just in case their craft has problems as they intend for it to return to Earth. All we can say is, “Decent start, now what?”

 

NASA Orion Flight Trajectories Including Lunar Orbits

NASA Orion Flight Trajectories Including Lunar Orbits

 

Now for our dreaming part of this article. We would like to see a spaceport launch facility built in the Negev Desert and for an ambitious Israeli space program built near the 31o Latitude (see map below). While 31o Latitude is somewhat too far north for optimum, but when your country is slightly smaller than New Jersey with largely populated northern half and a more sparsely populated southern desert, then this is perfect for a spaceport launch facility. Israel definitely has more than sufficient technological sophistication for an advanced space program and such a facility would free Israel from dependence upon other nations to launch communications and special satellites and doing so without having to proclaim their launches to the world unless required by treaties. Israel partnering with the United States on certain missions and reserving space on the space wheel for Israeli modules would be one more economical approach and building an Israel space wheel, likely smaller with a higher rotation speed, would be beyond any expectation. Israel having an operating launch facility could also allow other nations to utilize and launch from the spaceport in order to defray costs. Even a partnership with a dependable and consistent ally would be beneficial. Israel reaching into space would also serve to be deterrent to military ventures against Israel especially should Israel launch sufficient spy and mapping satellites as such craft would give early warning capability to Israel allowing early responses which could allay an attack. The secret to forging a well-ordered peaceful planet is the need to control all the high ground, that being space, and that could be something within the reach of Israel. There also exists another reason that Israel should build a spaceport capable of multiple launches in rapid succession possibly as many as six to ten rockets in a single day and perhaps a dozen to a dozen and a half per week and far more than any probable need would arise per month. Such a launch schedule potential would make Israel a preferable launch platform than Europeans or Russians currently possess or are even likely to possess. This capability would make Israel a space center which the developed space-faring world who could come to depend upon Israel thus making Israel even more intertwined with the world and thus having even greater impetus for good relations with all. As we stated, this is our dream space where we fantasize and paint pretty pictures of the future and perhaps also to work to plant a seed, an idea which grows until it has a life of its own. Once that stage is reached more than half the battle has been won. As stated above, the most difficult time is getting the idea accepted and started, once there your dream has a great potential to be realized. Israel in space, almost sounds like a Mel Brooks comedy (see video below map).

 

Israel Space Port Launch Facility

Israel Space Port Launch Facility

 

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

Advertisements

April 21, 2012

Will You Visit the NASA Gravesite?

NASA transferred on Thursday space shuttle Discovery to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. Discovery logged more time and miles in space than any other craft capable of attaining orbit and returning its occupants to Earth in the course of its 39 missions and more than 365 days in space. Director of the museum John Dailey stated, “Discovery has distinguished itself as the champion of America’s shuttle fleet. In its new home, it will shine as an American icon, educating and inspiring people of all ages for generations to come. The museum is committed to teaching and inspiring youngsters, so that they will climb the ladder of academic success and choose professions that will help America be competitive and successful in the world of tomorrow.” One has to wonder which would be a greater inspiration, Discovery sitting behind velvet ropes strung between brass stands or thundering off the launch pad carrying the next generation of astronauts to the International Space Station and possibly to take part in building the dreams beyond. Perhaps had we continued our manned space program we would build the first all American Space Double Wheel Station just like those made famous in so many futuristic films or taking the materials to an American Space Dock where future space going vessels are being built. For the foreseeable future, if one wishes to see the American space program they will need to go to the Air and Space Museum on the Mall in Washington DC and forget about the trip to Florida.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden also commented stating, “Today, while we look back at Discovery’s amazing legacy, I also want to look forward to what she and the shuttle fleet helped to make possible. As NASA transfers the shuttle orbiters to museums across the country, we are embarked on an exciting new space exploration journey.” His comments do beg a rather important and equally embarrassing question; exactly what exciting new space exploration journey is he referring to? A journey usually implies that the trip will include people and in 2010 President Obama quietly and with absolutely no fanfare cancelled the Constellation rocket and capsule program to take humans back into orbit and from there to the Moon. Since the last space shuttle mission and until somebody in the government gains a smidgen of foresight, the United States will be paying the now doubled price to Russia for our astronauts to hitch a ride to the International Space Station.

President Obama also cancelled the planned return trips to the Moon along with all plans to build a Moon Base claiming that we can leave such matters for private enterprise to address. How sorry will we be when we will need to pay the Russians to give us a ride to visit the Chinese Moon base which they are still intent on building, most likely with the money we pay them on our debt. President Obama also made reference to our landing on an asteroid sometime in the mid-2020s; of course it would need to wait for Obama to be long gone from office. We can also pretty much forget that idea of landing an American astronaut on Mars and even a distant plan to build a base on Mars as both of these missions relied on building the spacecraft and launching them from a Moon base. The reason President Obama gave for these decisions was that there was a far greater need to keep the funds here on Earth to help people rather than waste the funding on some distant dream. I had always thought dreaming of doing the impossible and then committing to doing it was an all-American trait.

But, is this excuse of saving all that funding to use here on Earth even close to the reality? Granted, when you think about billions of dollars, yes, with a ‘B’, it seems like a whole lot of money to most of us. I know I could live a very long time on just one billion dollars and NASA gets between three and five billion dollars a year. Wow, that should really pay for a lot of people here on Earth, right? Well, not so much. Despite the sound of the NASA budget, it makes up almost a whole one per cent of the budget. It actually averaged over the life of the entire space program approximately 0.75% of the budget. That means that for every $100.00 spent by the Federal Government, NASA actually gets a whole 75 cents, seventy-five whole pennies, until they do away with pennies, but that is for another day’s editorial. So, we now have set aside and saved $7,500.00 for every $1,000,000.00 spent. In real terms the NASA budget is a negligible portion of the Federal budget and could be increased 6.5 times over and would barely reach 5%, which is a small investment for both fulfilling the dreams of a nation and an avenue for research and development that likely will never be done at all until we come to our senses. If the Smithsonian Institute really wants to inspire children to become rocket scientists and the United States and her people also believe that would be a worthwhile investment, as I recall President Obama is very pro-investments by government, perhaps they might whisper into some of the power people who might have sufficient influence and suggest that an actual rocket launch and a real space program would be far more inspiring and effective for inspiring children to become rocket scientists. Anyways, where do these people think these inspired children will be employed once they become honest-to-goodness rocket scientists?

Beyond the Cusp

October 13, 2011

Obama and NASA Call to Hire New Astronauts

For reasons that escape this writer, President Obama has approved NASA to hire for a new class of astronauts. Since President Obama has taken the reigns over NASA, the Space Shuttle has been retired, something that actually made some sense. But the plans for a Moon base have been scrapped, definitive plans for a manned trip to Mars has been relegated to a mere phantom of a possibility, and the design and production of a new heavy-lift system has been relegated to the purview of private enterprise. The only part of the call for new astronauts to be trained by NASA is the date the classes are scheduled to begin, sometime in 2013. My bet is this class too will face cancellation should President Obama win reelection. Space does not appear to have much appeal or place in the President’s designs. President Obama, if pressed on the subject, would probably make the claim that in the current economic and fiscal atmosphere, he is saving the funds from NASA and applying them to more pressing requirements. I find such grandstanding to be both ridiculous and ignorant.

The first point that needs to be understood is all about appearances. I will bet that virtually every time any reporter, politician, expert, or any of those who believe that our space programs are simply a waste of funds, when speaking of the NASA budget use actual dollars, which has not been higher than $20 Billion in its history. Of course, when normal people hear a number like we can save billions of dollars that are currently being wasted in the NASA budget, this sounds great. But, let’s treat the NASA budget numbers as they treat those programs the politicians like and refer to the percentage of the budget consumed by NASA. I have asked people this question often as I think we invest too little on our space program, and the average guess when asked for a percentage has ranged from 10% to as high as 20%, and once in a while somebody will actually claim that it is merely 5% of the budget. My response is always the same, “If only.” Then I get to inform them that since 1975 the NASA budget has never exceeded 1% and that most years it is even lower at an average of about 0.75%; that’s right, a mere 3/4th of 1% of the budget. Another way of referring to it is as negligible. Yet, for reasons of picking on an easy target that will usually never get much resistance is the space program and since they get to say billions of dollars, it sounds like they are making a serious efforts.

So, now that we have traded the truth about the NASA budget and realize that they use the dollar amount as this is what they use when making something sound like it is lots of money, and when they wish to make some expenditure seem smaller, they will use the percentages, which these figures bears out. So, why has President Obama slashed the NASA budget and cancelled the plans for a Moon base and thus pretty much nixed any Mars manned program. President even went further and has made the number one mission for NASA to share efforts with the Muslim World. Perhaps it would be easiest to simply give you the truth from Mr. Bolden, President Obama’s pick to head NASA, who said: “When I became the NASA administrator, he [President Obama] charged me with three things. One, he wanted me to help reinspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.” There you have it, our space program is now centered to make the Muslim World feel it has accomplished great things while no longer seeking to do great things for America and Americans. Perhaps this is why the call for the next class of astronauts is not to be convened until 2013, after Inauguration Day I would bet. This is simply unacceptable and a disgrace to the United States and her people.

Beyond the Cusp

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.