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werepossum

Elite Member
Jul 10, 2006
29,876
460
126
The shuttle was supposed to deliver cheap, reliable and safe transportation to low-earth orbit. It failed at all three of those goals.

The Hubble servicing missions were an amazing accomplishment, but that's also pretty much the only unique capability that the shuttle had. It pains me to say this but in the grand scheme of things we would've been better off just building new orbital telescopes rather than servicing the existing one.

I'm a supporter of manned spaceflight but I think that we need to be honest about the fact that it is not and never will be the most efficient way to accomplish science in space. The reason I support sending people up is because I believe that human exploration of the unknown is a worthy goal in and of itself, even if it's not the most efficient way to gather data. The problem with the shuttle was that it couldn't explore anything.
Nicely said. I'm all for a mission to Mars, right after our fifth year of balanced budgets/paying down the national debt. Right now we need to continue the unmanned probe missions which have so much bang for the buck, but I'd really hate to see a future where we settle for squatting dirtside amongst our dwindling resources while ignoring manned space travel.
 

Brovane

Diamond Member
Dec 18, 2001
3,960
33
91
Nicely said. I'm all for a mission to Mars, right after our fifth year of balanced budgets/paying down the national debt. Right now we need to continue the unmanned probe missions which have so much bang for the buck, but I'd really hate to see a future where we settle for squatting dirtside amongst our dwindling resources while ignoring manned space travel.
The frustrating thing that I have is that I don't know if unmanned probe's are sometimes all that they are cracked up to be. The US had a lot of in-accurate theories on the moon until the Apollo space program landed on the surface. Nasa had sent as series of un-manned probes to the moon. However it was actually landing humans on the moon when knowledge grew by leaps and bounds. The Soviets sent several probes to the moon and where able to bring a little over 1lb of Moon material back. During the 6xApollo Missions that landed on the surface we brought back over 800lbs of Moon material back and signficiantly increased or understanding of the moon. I would expect that a manned expidition to Mars would also increase the understanding of Mars by leaps and bounds. Un-manned probes have their place by they are not the end all. Nothing can beat like what they did with Apollo 17 when they landed a trained PHd Geologist on the moon. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrison_H._Schmitt
 

Matt1970

Lifer
Mar 19, 2007
12,321
2
0
The shuttle was a vehicle that over 90% of it's takeoff weight was fuel and it was built by the lowest bidder. I am surprised we didn't lose more of them.
 

werepossum

Elite Member
Jul 10, 2006
29,876
460
126
The frustrating thing that I have is that I don't know if unmanned probe's are sometimes all that they are cracked up to be. The US had a lot of in-accurate theories on the moon until the Apollo space program landed on the surface. Nasa had sent as series of un-manned probes to the moon. However it was actually landing humans on the moon when knowledge grew by leaps and bounds. The Soviets sent several probes to the moon and where able to bring a little over 1lb of Moon material back. During the 6xApollo Missions that landed on the surface we brought back over 800lbs of Moon material back and signficiantly increased or understanding of the moon. I would expect that a manned expidition to Mars would also increase the understanding of Mars by leaps and bounds. Un-manned probes have their place by they are not the end all. Nothing can beat like what they did with Apollo 17 when they landed a trained PHd Geologist on the moon. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrison_H._Schmitt
That's a very, very good point. I'd like to see more mega telescopes sent into space, but until we've actually been there we have no clue to what extent (if any) our conclusions reflect reality.
 

Brovane

Diamond Member
Dec 18, 2001
3,960
33
91
I wouldn't go that far,in fact, one of the bright spots for the Space Shuttle program was fixing the Hubble Telescope.
However realistically you didn't need the shuttle to fix the hubble. You could have done the same thing with a cheaper expendable vehicle that would have been launched by a normal rocket. The really only thing the shuttle had was the ability to bring large cargo's back from orbit.
 

ichy

Diamond Member
Oct 5, 2006
6,940
6
81
Un-manned probes have their place by they are not the end all. Nothing can beat like what they did with Apollo 17 when they landed a trained PHd Geologist on the moon. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrison_H._Schmitt
So we spent $100 billion (in today's money) to send a single real scientist to the moon? Value not found.

Don't get me wrong, I believe that Apollo was one of America's greatest accomplishments but I'm also honest about the fact that if our objective was just to gather as much scientific data about the moon as possible then sending people wasn't the most efficient way to do it. Also, robotic probes are much more capable today than they were 40 years ago. Skylab made huge contributions to our understanding of the Sun because of the observations that were made with the Apollo Telescope Mount. Human operators were needed to make observations with it and spacewalking astronauts had to change the film on it. Nowadays that could all be done by an unmanned satellite.
 

Brovane

Diamond Member
Dec 18, 2001
3,960
33
91
That's a very, very good point. I'd like to see more mega telescopes sent into space, but until we've actually been there we have no clue to what extent (if any) our conclusions reflect reality.
Could you imagine a space telescope located on the surface of the dark side of the moon? Imagine the observations that could be made with this type of equipment.
 

ichy

Diamond Member
Oct 5, 2006
6,940
6
81
The shuttle was a vehicle that over 90% of it's takeoff weight was fuel
Any rocket that launches cargo from Earth is mostly fuel. There's no getting around the laws of physics.

and it was built by the lowest bidder.
WTF is the point of that statement? Contracts were given to the lowest bidder that met requirements! When Challenger was lost it was engineers from the contractor (Morton-Thiokol) that wanted to stop the launch and NASA managers who insisted that it proceed.
 

CPA

Elite Member
Nov 19, 2001
30,324
4
0
Why would you be embarrassed?

Bush said we had to shut down the Shuttle fleet and we did so what's the problem?
Um, actually Bush wanted to change the focus of the space shuttle program by going back to the moon. Obama canceled that and wants to go to an astroid using private sources.
 

Brovane

Diamond Member
Dec 18, 2001
3,960
33
91
So we spent $100 billion (in today's money) to send a single real scientist to the moon? Value not found.

Don't get me wrong, I believe that Apollo was one of America's greatest accomplishments but I'm also honest about the fact that if our objective was just to gather as much scientific data about the moon as possible then sending people wasn't the most efficient way to do it. Also, robotic probes are much more capable today than they were 40 years ago. Skylab made huge contributions to our understanding of the Sun because of the observations that were made with the Apollo Telescope Mount. Human operators were needed to make observations with it and spacewalking astronauts had to change the film on it. Nowadays that could all be done by an unmanned satellite.
I will give you that Robotic probes are better now. However nothing can beat a trained human being. Also remember that basically NASA had to abandon Apollo after a lot of development costs where already paid for etc. Basically all the launch capability and systems where just abandoned to develop the shuttle. They took a great launch platform in the Saturn series rockets and just walked away because we wanted a re-usable system (the shuttle) that never worked as it was originally sold as. The other Apollo missions also did a lot of geology. However on the Apollo 15, 16, 17 where J-class missions where you really had the extended EVA and a lot of scientific data was gathered. It was Apollo 15 where you had the discovery of the Genesis rock (A 4+ Billion year old rock). Apollo astronauts where able to pick this rock up and bring it back. The apollo astronauts where extensively trained in Geology and did a credible job. However the system wasn't alloweed to mature to the point where we could regulary have mission spots for a trained scientist to go along.

We now spend $300+ Billion dollars on a single military weapon system.
 

Brovane

Diamond Member
Dec 18, 2001
3,960
33
91
The space program has been withering for decades. The shuttle was a failure from the start but inertia kept it going despite the fact that it served no real purpose. By the late 1980s we should have started work on a shuttle successor, instead NASA kept on rehashing plans for an equally purposeless space station. It is a good thing that the shuttle is gone, what's shameful is that we didn't replace it with something better.
Nasa did try a shuttle replacement X-33 DynaSoar but it was canceled. Nasa probably would have been better of leveraging the Saturn launch system instead of spending money a completely new launch system. Basically NASA is full of engineers and what do engineers want to do? Build things and they wanted to build a new launch system. They where willing to sacrfice the Saturn Rocket system (Already a proven launch system) to get that done. Also the Nixon Administration did see the Space program and going to the moon as a Democrat thing. They wanted something new, not just keep leveraging hardware developed for Apollo. For around the same cost of the Space Shuttle development you could have continued building Saturn rockets and Apollo hardware and leverage it to build a space station. The same hardware could have been used to launch astronauts into LEO and also launch probes beyond Earth. The shuttle was to big of leap and the material and technology wasn't their yet to allow a fully re-usable system.
 

a777pilot

Diamond Member
Apr 26, 2011
4,261
21
81
NASA's Space Program is one of the few, if not the only, Federal program to actually paid for itself in new consumer products brought to the market place.

It's sad to watch NASA destroyed.
 

ichy

Diamond Member
Oct 5, 2006
6,940
6
81
NASA's Space Program is one of the few, if not the only, Federal program to actually paid for itself in new consumer products brought to the market place.
That's really, really debatable. What consumer products have come about as a result of the space program (do not say Teflon or microwave ovens, that's a myth.)
 

ichy

Diamond Member
Oct 5, 2006
6,940
6
81
Nasa did try a shuttle replacement X-33 DynaSoar but it was canceled. Nasa probably would have been better of leveraging the Saturn launch system instead of spending money a completely new launch system.
Just nitpicking here but DynaSoar was a proposed 1960s military spaceplane. The X-33 was a whole different program.

I think there's a bit of a misunderstanding between us here. I agree with you about Apollo's amazing accomplishments and I wish that NASA had built a second batch of Saturn Vs using F-1A engines & launched a second series of lunar missions and additional Skylab-type stations rather than developing the shuttle. I am just trying to be honest about the fact that as a purely scientific endeavor manned spaceflight isn't the most efficient way to do things.

There's a scene in From the Earth to the Moon where Harrison Schmitt meets with Dr. Leon Silver to try to get him to train the Apollo astronauts in geology. Silver's first response is something along the lines of "tell them to send robots, they're cheaper and don't have astronaut egos." Now that scene is probably fictional but I think it's a pretty good depiction of how the scientific community felt about Apollo and manned spaceflight in general. I'm OK with the fact that manned exploration doesn't provide the same scientific bang for the buck that robots do because I believe there are other reasons to send people into space but I try to be realistic about that.

BTW, there's another reason besides money that Apollo ended after 17. NASA was really pushing their existing systems to the limit and sooner or later an Apollo crew was going to die. Nobody likes to talk about this, but there was a definite feeling in NASA's leadership that we'd beaten the Russians and had a set of successful landings, so now let's quit while we're ahead.
 

xBiffx

Diamond Member
Aug 22, 2011
8,232
2
0
That's really, really debatable. What consumer products have come about as a result of the space program (do not say Teflon or microwave ovens, that's a myth.)
Plenty, from tools to clothing to water filtration. Also materials such as scratch resistant plastic, concrete/runway construction, and that memory foam everyone sleeps on.

They really did invent a lot of technology that is now commonplace.
 

ichy

Diamond Member
Oct 5, 2006
6,940
6
81
Plenty, from tools to clothing to water filtration. Also materials such as scratch resistant plastic, concrete/runway construction, and that memory foam everyone sleeps on.

They really did invent a lot of technology that is now commonplace.
Memory foam was invented by NASA but it had nothing to do with Apollo. It was invented as part of their aeronautics research program. Apollo certainly served as a catalyst for the development of a lot of important technology (the Apollo Guidance Computer comes to mind) but to say that we got more out of it financially than we put in is unsubstantiated nonsense.
 

xBiffx

Diamond Member
Aug 22, 2011
8,232
2
0
Memory foam was invented by NASA but it had nothing to do with Apollo. It was invented as part of their aeronautics research program. Apollo certainly served as a catalyst for the development of a lot of important technology (the Apollo Guidance Computer comes to mind) but to say that we got more out of it financially than we put in is unsubstantiated nonsense.
Well I wasn't strictly limiting my examples to the Apollo program as I thought this related to NASA in general. Also, I didn't see a777pilot's comment as saying we covered all our expenditures but rather NASA actually paid some of its own bills. Perhaps he was saying what you interpreted but I didn't think so. NASA is unlike other government agencies in that it does make some money even if that money doesn't cover the expenditures its still dong better than most.
 

a777pilot

Diamond Member
Apr 26, 2011
4,261
21
81
That's really, really debatable. What consumer products have come about as a result of the space program (do not say Teflon or microwave ovens, that's a myth.)
There are many but portable power tools quickly comes to mind.
 

a777pilot

Diamond Member
Apr 26, 2011
4,261
21
81
Here are a few more:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_spin-off

Even if these products didn't benefit NASA directly, the commercial uses of these products have more than paid for th space program by the massive amounts of tax revenues these products have generated.

NASA, one of the few Federal programs that actually worked for the betterment of the American people. Yes, that is quite unusual, I know.
 

Zebo

Elite Member
Jul 29, 2001
39,408
2
0
Can't say I was around then but sounds like a waste of cash which is why we havnt been back. Kinda like scoring with prom queen. Good to do once but you don't want LTR.
 

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