Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Watch It Live: Mars First Mission Dropped By Panel

LIVE IMAGES: The image above is the latest live image from NASA Television. It will automatically refresh itself to the most up to date image every 30 seconds.

A White House panel will tell President Obama that human expeditions beyond low Earth orbit cannot be done within the administration's current NASA budget projection.

The list of options for future NASA human space flight also is being narrowed, and missions to Mars -- while an ultimate goal -- will not be among scenarios offered up in a final report at the end of the month.

NASA's Project Constellation cannot be executed within the $81.5 billion budgeted for human spaceflight through 2020 -- a $26.5 billion drop from previous projections -- so the U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Review Committee will bring it forward only as a reference mission.

The idea of doing a "Dash Out Of LEO (Low Earth Orbit) is being dropped. It appears the Ares I rocket will be on the chopping block -- the panel is talking about increasing investment in the development of commercial crew transportation services.

And it appears that the Augustine Committee is in favor of extending International Space Station operations through 2020. NASA's budget now contains no money for station operations beyond 2015 but the panel does not want to "splash" the station into the Pacific Ocean in 2016. It would cost an additional $1.6 billion to decommission the outpost, the panel said.

The idea of extending shuttle operations through 2015 is still on the table. So is the idea of shutting the shuttle fleet down in 2011, extending the International Space Station until 2020 and relying on commercial crew transportation services. The Ares I rocket would be axed and a smaller version of the Ares V would be built to ultimately send astronauts on sorties back to the moon with the idea of eventually building an outpost on the lunar surface.

Also in the running: Flying missions to orbit the moon, near-Earth asteroids and Mars -- but not land on interplanetary bodies. Three options for launch vehicles will be carried forward: A smaller version of the Ares V, a heavy-lift version of the Atlas V or Delta IV or a commercially procured heavy-lift rocket that uses either Russian hydrocarbon engines or a newly developed U.S. hydrocarbon engine. The Atlas V's Russian RD-180 first stage engine is an example. It uses liquid oxygen and highly refined kerosene as propellants.

The panel still is deliberating and it appears they will be doing so for the next several hours. You can watch live here in The Flame Trench. Simply click the NASA TV box on the right to launch our NASA TV viewer and be sure to refresh this page for periodic updates.


Anonymous said...

I guess the Chinese will get to Mars first.

Anonymous said...

Well, we may never see the Stick fly, but we sure are getting the shaft. So much for the Moon and Mars.

Anonymous said...

Yup...Ares 1 is dead in the pad as we speak.

Note that several of Committe panel members are working and/or
with companies that may benefit from the "outsourcing" of the Ares 1 role. :)

Namely...the CEO of The Aerospace Corp, CEO of XCOR Aerospace, a former Manager of the Boeing Space Shuttle and Sea Launch programs, and a retired Chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin Corp.

Anonymous said...

I am hoping to extend the ISS as long as possible. I'm also hoping they mothball the shuttle as soon as possible. The Soyuz can astronauts to the ISS and the Progress and likely the Japanese freighter can get supplies up there at a fraction of the cost. Then we can take all that money we save and retrain the workers whose skills don't translate to whatever new system they pick and the balance can go to the ISS. Maybe some can also go to funing some new technology projects locally.

As a matter of fact, two of the remaining 7 shuttle flights are for "spare parts." Maybe one of these can be axed and we can put a billion or so back in the kitty. I can't see the sense of having manned flights for spare parts. From a cost and safety aspect, unmanned is the way to go, especially with six full-time people up there who can unload the cargo.


Anonymous said...

Well seems that the great water walker has some change in mind for the Space coast. Welcome to what you created.

Anonymous said...

Here we go - got to pay for the liberal welfare programs and this is one of many cuts.

Robert G. Oler said...

Chinese getting to Mars first? Dont make me laugh...

Robert Oler

Anonymous said...

I predict the end of the US manned space flight program during this adminstration. The whole 'global warming' craze will be used to turn our space program into an earth watching program and any other exploration will be handled by robotic missions.

Our childrens's children's children's will pay dearly for our lack of forsight.

Anonymous said...

Why dont all the nations just combine moneys and fund one big trip? Why does it have to be just a contest at this point on who gets there first, who cares at this point

Anonymous said...

Great! Stop wasting so much money on this useless thing and invest it in education so American children can do basic math.

Anonymous said...

I can't see where it hurts us (Americans) in the least if China gets to Mars first. Have any of you actually spent a moment or two contemplating beyond the borders of your little neighborhood? Beyond your country? We are all one people. I understand fully there are some really despicable groups in the world like those who control the oil (did you see where that Chevy Volt gets 240 MPG? Think the Saudis hate that car?) but then again some of those groups hate those who colonialized the world at the beginning of the 20th century.

Maybe just maybe the Chinese will one day again be our friends, like they were in 1942 when many died to protect Jimmy Doolittle's men.

If China gets to Mars first, we should congratulate them and ask how we can help. That would be the civil thing to do. Maybe in the meantime we should offer them a slot on the ISS, so when and if they get to Mars first, they will offer us a slot.

The Chinese, individually, aren't bad people. The only really bad people in the world are the greedy ones and those who live by fundamental terrorism. Greed knows no borders; terrorism knows no God; but, unfortunately, compassion has no true home on our planet.


Anonymous said...

Thank god for some common sense! The American space program has been the biggest social welfare program in history. Expendable rockets can deliver satellites into orbit safely and cheaper than the shuttle. Time for NASA to stop sucking on the public teet.

Mark Lopa said...

It's crazy to think the US manned space flight program will end during this administration. That has to be a joke. The opposite will come true: the shuttle program will be extended to 2015, and the ISS to 2020. We need to focus on what we have and make it the best we can. That is low Earth orbit. We all want to see humans back on the moon and on Mars, but we have no right to go there when we don't even know why foam is shedding off the ETs, endagering crews going a couple hundred miles up. And we want to talk about going how many millions of miles to Mars?

There is no way the Chinese will beat us to Mars. That must be a joke as well. When all is said and done and we do get to Mars, we'll all be going together. That's the only way to get it done.

Anonymous said...

The last shuttle launch will be the last time an American Astronaut will fly on an American ship thanks to the "Dear Leader". How's that "hope and change" working out for you USA?

Anonymous said...

NASA's budget is something like 1.25% of the national budget - just wanted to point that out to the uneducated that believe it is some vast waste of taxpayer's dollars. Lets compare that to:
A book "The Complete Idiots Guide to Economics" written in 2003 cites the U.S. Government budget as reporting that entitlements make up approximately 65 percent of our budget, distributed as follows:
Social Security: 23%
Medicare: 12%
Medicaid: 7%
Other Means-tested entitlements: 6%
Mandatory payments (pensions, etc.): 6%
Net interest on debt: 11%

Some entitlements are needed...lets stop these myths about NASA's budget from carrying on.

Anonymous said...

They don't want to leave Low Earth Orbit. They want to fly the Shuttle till it blows-up or burns-up again. So what was the point of this panel?

Anonymous said...

The death of Ares-I will mean the possible death of another crew on the shuttle.

Ares-I and -V are 5-year-old decisions, being overturned for purely political reasons. The Great One will save a few Florida jobs, therefore buying votes for 2012 in a key state.

China has already declared its intentions to land men on the moon. Their program has progressed well so far.

And meanwhile, the US manned program languishes with the worst presidential support in NASA's history. Go ahead, divert NASA's meager resources into "helping the poor"; each of the 37 million "poor" in the US would get about $432 in a year's time.

Anonymous said...

If humanity is ever going to expand off the planet, we first need access to space at a practical cost. That requires fully reusable vehicles. The Constellation program, with its extremely high cost ($5 billion for a single lunar flight) cannot possibly be sustained. Even if it moves forward and reaches the moon, once, it will then be canceled for the same reason as Apollo, because it is not affordable. Just eight years ago we had a range of flight programs testing advanced reusable vehicles. GW Bush canceled them all, then started the Constellation program without providing any way to pay for it. Even space enthusiasts are unwilling to pay higher taxes, or to sacrifice their own benefits.

Anonymous said...

>>China has already declared its intentions to land men on the moon. Their program has progressed well so far.

Unless you believe Apollo was a hoax, we have already beaten them to the moon. Thanks to the Bush tax cuts, we can't go to the moon unless we borrow the money from China. And China has no intention of engaging in a race. If they lost, they would look foolish. If they on, they would irritate their biggest customer.