WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Lake Dallas, TX
I'm a bit of a space nut (ok, I'm a nerd) so this was a bit disappointing to me. However this could go the other way. The big albatross around NASA's neck is the Space Station. Its orbital inclination is too far off for it to be used as a launching platform for expeditions to the moon, Mars or any other planet. It was put that way to the Russians could launch Soyuz and Progress ships could reach it from Russia. Now NASA wants to deorbit this $100BILLION platform in 2015. This would be before AresI/Orion would even be flight ready. Once again, NASA shows its stupidity.
The ISS has been designated as a National Laboratory. Lets use it as such. Take it away from NASA and let the DoD, Dept of Energy, and American Universities use it. Tell NASA that they have to pay to use it and they have to use commercial space craft to get to it. SpaceX will be flying there Falcon9 rocket this fall. If successful, they will be flying the unmanned Dragon capsule early next year. Dragon was designed from the start to be a manned spacecraft. The only thing SpaceX needs to "man rate" their rocket is to add an escape rocket. SpaceX estimates that this would cost $50 to $100million to develop. The thing is, SpaceX has developed Falcon9 for LESS than $1billion. Ares1 is estimated to cost between $5 and $10Billion.
If NASA is relieved of their duties with ISS, they will have plenty of funding to work on a real exploration program.
Another alternative is to get the Russians to agree to changing the Space Station's orbit. It is estimated that it would cost $1Billion to do this. However, if you can use the space station as a staging ground for exploration, it becomes incredibly useful. You can let SpaceX handle crew transport to ISS. Then NASA can build a craft that is meant for exploration beyond LEO. That craft can carry use to the Moon, Mars, the Asteroids and maybe beyond that. NASA could build an actual space transportation infrastructure that would bring down the cost of deep spaceflight over the long haul while actually going somewhere.
Right now, I wish a quick death upon the NASA that currently exists. If it doesn't change, there is no point in it. We must EXPLORE, not sit idly in orbit.