Houston, We're Returning to Manned Space Flights

Fanghawk

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Houston, We're Returning to Manned Space Flights

Boeing and SpaceX have been awarded contracts by NASA to build the next generation of manned space flight shuttles, which should be operational in 2017.

Compared to the 1960s space race, NASA isn't the space-faring organization it once was. Sure, it's still supporting several space-based initiatives, but budget cuts led to the dismantling of its shuttle program and forced the agency to turn to Russia for its manned space flights. Understandably, <a href=http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/134140-Russia-Tells-U-S-to-Use-A-Trampoline-to-Send-Its-Astronauts-to-the-ISS>this has been a somewhat problematic relationship on occasion, prompting NASA to consider space flight through commercial initiatives.

Now NASA has announced that it's getting back into manned space flights thanks to a partnership with Boeing and SpaceX. These companies have been contracted to build new shuttles that will fly astronauts to the International Space Station starting in 2017. Boeing will be constructing its <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CST-100>CST-100 spacecraft design, while SpaceX will build <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon_%28spacecraft%29>the Crew Dragon.

"From day one, the Obama Administration made clear that the greatest nation on Earth should not be dependent on other nations to get into space," NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden explained. "Thanks to the leadership of President Obama, the hard work of our NASA and industry teams, and support from Congress, today we are one step closer to launching our astronauts from U.S. soil on American spacecraft and ending the nation's sole reliance on Russia by 2017. Turning over low-Earth orbit transportation to private industry will also allow NASA to focus on an even more ambitious mission - sending humans to Mars."

Boeing and SpaceX's contracts are worth <a href=http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/space-race-nasa-announce-company-wins-space-taxi/story?id=25537315>a combined $6.8 billion (about $4 billion for Boeing, $2 billion for SpaceX). While specific terms have yet to be disclosed, the awarded contracts include test flights and options for two to six operational missions. Back in 2013, SpaceX also secured a $1.6 billion contract <a href=http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/127937-Cygnus-Space-Freighter-Blasts-Off-for-ISS-Rendezvous>to keep the International Space Station resupplied.

NASA's current contract with Russia ends in 2017, at which point these commercial shuttles are expected to take over. At a press conference today, NASA officials noted that this will be the first part of a larger initiative to expand space travel beyond our lunar orbit in the 2020s.

Source: <a href=http://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/september/nasa-chooses-american-companies-to-transport-us-astronauts-to-international/#.VBitfRay-cw>NASA

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RicoADF

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Jun 2, 2009
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Dammit, I was enjoying the fact that other nations were stepping upto the plate. Hope the ESA, Russia etc continues to grow and not allow NASA to dominate.
 

Remus

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FliedLiverAttack said:


Woo more things and people in Spaaace.
This is a triumph. I'm making a note here.....HUGE SUCCESS
Ya know, in most cases, I'm not a big fan of our tendency to use capitalism to solve our problems, but in the case of SpaceX, or anything Google-related, I absolutely approve. Can't wait to see what the actual shuttles will look like, as all we've seen so far is computer models of the capsules, which seem kinda old hat in regard to NASA. Lets see some new, more efficient actual shuttle designs and not just ACME "ass strapped to a single rocket" designs we haven't used since the 60s.
 

CardinalPiggles

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Very cool. Hopefully we'll make significant progress once again. I'd love for us to set foot on another planet.
 

Avaholic03

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So, are either of these capsules going to have the ability to get out of Earth orbit? I mean, swapping crew on the ISS is great and all, but it's a whole different ballgame going to the moon, Mars, etc.
 

fix-the-spade

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Avaholic03 said:
So, are either of these capsules going to have the ability to get out of Earth orbit? I mean, swapping crew on the ISS is great and all, but it's a whole different ballgame going to the moon, Mars, etc.
With a development and build time of three years I'd say it's earth orbit and earth orbit only. There's a lot of satellites kicking around that need maintaining as well as the ISS, I can't imagine anyone wants to rely too much on Mr Putin and friends for the foreseeable future of satellite based services.
 

Raesvelg

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Avaholic03 said:
So, are either of these capsules going to have the ability to get out of Earth orbit? I mean, swapping crew on the ISS is great and all, but it's a whole different ballgame going to the moon, Mars, etc.
Both Boeing and SpaceX's capsules are designed to operate for a few days to a week at the outside without support. NASA's Orion capsule is intended for beyond-LEO operations, but other than that... Not so much. SpaceX is planning on building bigger ships in the relatively near future to coincide with the launch of their Mars Colonial Transporter rocket, but that's still a little ways off.

I'm not exactly rooting for NASA on this one though, to be honest. The whole premise of their new "Space Launch System" rocket family is that it's built pretty much entirely on Shuttle hardware. Four of the Shuttle's main engines for the first stage, with a pair of the old Shuttle booster rockets strapped to the outside. All of it is designed to be one-shot only, destroyed after each launch.

Meanwhile SpaceX is looking to build a rocket significantly more powerful that's mostly reusable.
 

epicdwarf

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FINALLY!

It is time to stop fucking around and get our asses back into space. We need a moon-base ASAP!!! Maybe after Mars base?
 

Cowabungaa

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Okay, I gotta admit, I'm a little sad Sierra Nevada Corporation lost out with its Dream Chaser. Because SpaceX and Boeing both have dopey Apolloy-style capsules, the Dream Chaser is this:



And I mean, really now, ain't that a beauty?

But I suppose there's still hope, the Brits are looking to develop the Skylon spaceship:



But that's gonna take another seven years or so. Oh well.

Still, of course, this is pretty awesome. With Mars missions on the way, probably a Lunar colony as well and lots of fantastic research to do, all aided by commercial spaceflight I gotta say it's really looking up.
 

Slegiar Dryke

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Right okay, good, some good news for the space industry. now! first big idea, lets get this all put forwards guys: WHEN are we gonna get high speed electromagnetic rail launch systems, and stop relying on tons of fuel per trip?!
 

Agayek

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Fanghawk said:
NASA's current contract with Russia ends in 2017, at which point these commercial shuttles are expected to take over. At a press conference today, NASA officials noted that this will be the first part of a larger initiative to expand space travel beyond our lunar orbit in the 2020s.
I really, really, really hope this is true. The next few administrations and Congresses need to not cut their budget for the military. Again. I want to see men on Mars in my lifetime damnit.
 

crimson5pheonix

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We'll see. I liked it better when NASA actually kept in house space flight, the Ares rockets were beauties. But beggars can throw bricks at glass houses owned by the people that keep cutting NASA's budget can't be choosers.
 

FalloutJack

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Nov 20, 2008
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Slegiar Dryke said:
Right okay, good, some good news for the space industry. now! first big idea, lets get this all put forwards guys: WHEN are we gonna get high speed electromagnetic rail launch systems, and stop relying on tons of fuel per trip?!
Any ideas what the power requirement for that is instead? (Not a criticism. I just have no idea.)
 

crimson5pheonix

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FalloutJack said:
Slegiar Dryke said:
Right okay, good, some good news for the space industry. now! first big idea, lets get this all put forwards guys: WHEN are we gonna get high speed electromagnetic rail launch systems, and stop relying on tons of fuel per trip?!
Any ideas what the power requirement for that is instead? (Not a criticism. I just have no idea.)
A lot. Like, a lot.

In 2003, Ian McNab outlined a plan to turn this idea into a realized technology.[21] The accelerations involved are significantly stronger than human beings can handle. This system would be used only to launch sturdy materials, such as food, water, and fuel. Note that escape velocity under ideal circumstances (equator, mountain, heading east) is 10.735 km/s. The system would cost $528/kg, compared with $20,000/kg[21] on the space shuttle (see non-rocket spacelaunch). The railgun system McNab suggested would launch 500 tons per year, spread over approximately 2000 launches per year. Because the launch track would be 1.6 km long, power will be supplied by a distributed network of 100 rotating machines (compulsator) spread along the track. Each machine would have a 3.3-ton carbon fibre rotor spinning at high speeds. A machine can recharge in a matter of hours using 10 MW. This machine could be supplied by a dedicated generator. The total launch package would weigh almost 1.4 tons. Payload per launch in these conditions is over 400 kg.[21] There would be a peak operating magnetic field of 5 T?Half of this coming from the rails, and the other half from augmenting magnets. This halves the required current through the rails, which reduces the power fourfold.
 

RicoADF

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Jun 2, 2009
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Cowabungaa said:
Okay, I gotta admit, I'm a little sad Sierra Nevada Corporation lost out with its Dream Chaser. Because SpaceX and Boeing both have dopey Apolloy-style capsules, the Dream Chaser is this:



And I mean, really now, ain't that a beauty?

But I suppose there's still hope, the Brits are looking to develop the Skylon spaceship:



But that's gonna take another seven years or so. Oh well.

Still, of course, this is pretty awesome. With Mars missions on the way, probably a Lunar colony as well and lots of fantastic research to do, all aided by commercial spaceflight I gotta say it's really looking up.
Their some nice spacecraft, especially love the Skylon *insert drewling animation*

I'm still hoping NASA, ESA etc work towards Mars and colonizing our solar system together, I doubt no 1 nation/space agency could do it alone. ISS is an example of what can be done when they combine together.
 

ailurus

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Avaholic03 said:
So, are either of these capsules going to have the ability to get out of Earth orbit? I mean, swapping crew on the ISS is great and all, but it's a whole different ballgame going to the moon, Mars, etc.
Well, the Dragon 2 and CST-100 are both designed only to go to the ISS. But ever since he founded SpaceX Musk has repeatedly said that SpaceX's overall goal is to build a full city on Mars. And Nasa's ongoing Orion project is supposed to be able to head out beyond the Earth's orbit as well.
 

communist penguin

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" the greatest nation on Earth should not be dependent on other nations to get into space"
wow, how far up one's own arse can someone actually be?

They do know it's the international space station right? not the US space station
 

Spartan448

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communist penguin said:
" the greatest nation on Earth should not be dependent on other nations to get into space"
wow, how far up one's own arse can someone actually be?

They do know it's the international space station right? not the US space station
Yeah, except you kind of have to admit that the US has the safest, most reliable, most efficient space program, with an extreme amount of expertise and redundancy (The Space Shuttle was I believe a 1980s platform that underwent no retrofitting and survived for almost 30 years - for a vehicle undergoing that much stress, that's amazing), a history of successful launches, with the greatest funding potential, and the ability to lift larger payloads than other international space programs.

The ISS may be an internationally co-operative project, and the modules are made in different places, but many of the early modules (and some of the later ones manufactured by member nations with insufficient space programs) were taken up by NASA.

There's also no arguing that the US has more power brokering potential than any other nation. The problem is that the potential is so often squandered by idiot "politicians" who bought their way through High School and College, and who gain power in elections where the only majority that exists is the people who simply don't vote, thus resulting in a situation where the single most powerful nation economically and militarily (though no longer culturally) is headed by a group of people who have the combined intelligence of a pygmy shrew with a brain aneurysm, about 9/10ths of whom believe that sometime soon, some dude who the Romans killed will fall out of the sky and then make people levitate into the stratosphere. These are also the same people who, being proud of their country's history of overcoming segregation and slavery and stopping the Holocaust, claim that the only "true Americans" are the people who follow a book written by a bunch of sexually frustrated shepherds that permits and endorses those same things; The same people who claim that "true marriage is between a man and a woman", yet conveniently leave out the fact that the source they take that from also says it's okay to rape people if you pay their family a silver coin and then marry the victim. And that my friend is scary. VERY scary.