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The Last 10 Days In The Space Shuttle's Bunker?, Atlantis apparently to be scrapped in 2008
Guest_AlexBlackwell_*
post Feb 24 2006, 05:08 PM
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QUOTE (djellison @ Feb 24 2006, 05:00 PM) *
We all know that Bruce is just someone who has to criticise. Nothing sneaks under the radar with him. Whatever is in the news, Bruce thinks it's wrong. If something goes wrong, Bruce knew it would and could have told you 5 year previous. If something totally and fundamentally unexpected happens that could never have been forseen, Bruce wants to know why they didnt know it was going to happen, and he knew it would happen all along.

I've said it before, and I'm NOT going to say it again Bruce - if you want to exercise your habbit for unjustified ranting, do it elsewhere.

Doug, far be it from me to tell you how to run your own discussion group (and you're doing a great job, by the way), but in no way am I trying to run Bruce off. I've been debating with him online for, I believe, over six years now, and I have fairly thick skin. I agree that his style can be a little irksome, okay more than a little irksome, but I don't see anything approaching "L'affaire Moomaw" over in Yahoo! Groups planetary_sciences.

P.S. I totally agree with your first paragraph above biggrin.gif
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djellison
post Feb 24 2006, 05:22 PM
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You have to be stern and strict with him or he wont learn....

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Doug
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Guest_Richard Trigaux_*
post Feb 24 2006, 05:25 PM
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QUOTE (BruceMoomaw @ Feb 24 2006, 05:02 PM) *
But R. Neuhaus actually does have a relevant point to make. Thanks to man-made global warming (which now seems extremely likely), the human race may well be faced in the coming decades (or centuries!) with an extremely ugly choice: either impoverish itself or cook itself. Any hope we have of squirming off the horns of that dilemma lies in discovering new technologies for CO2-free but cheap energy production, energy conservation, and pulling CO2 back out of the atmosphere ("sequestration") cheaply. ....


Although this is not the topic of this thread, I think important to correct what is said here. We have a third alternative: becoming less dumb, less arrogant, and heed what ecologists and scientist are shouting since now 30 years: there are solutions to the greenhouse problem, without reverting to a Middle Age life level or democracy level: -energy savings in home heating -train transportation (containers) -helio-geothermy -cogeneration -Atkinson cycle car engines -less car commuting -saving methane escaping from oil wells -cracking oil, methane and sour gas to make hydrogen, and put back the soot or carbon dioxyd in the wells -aerothermic plants -solar plants used to crack water and make hydrogen at 950°C (process developped by the french CEA using SO2 as a catalist)... No need to "discovering" anything, no sci-fi projects or pharaonic funding, just some imagination... and some political will.
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Guest_BruceMoomaw_*
post Feb 24 2006, 07:31 PM
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At the risk of getting thrown out of this group by Doug for actually replying to Alex:

Of course the ESA and Japan are irrelevant to my argument, since they never had a manned space program to begin with and so there is no way they can be used to judge whether a nation that shrinks its manned space program will expand its unmanned space program to compensate. But Russia is also totally irrelevant, since their economy collapsed utterly and forced them to virtually end their space program completely -- EXCEPT for their involvement with the Station, which they use quite openly and unashamedly as a parasitic way of sucking money out of the US government. Without that freakish parasitic setup (enabled by Goldin and Al Gore), they would have ended their manned space program totally as well. Thus they too provide no conceivable guide to how the US Congress would respond to a shrinkage of the US unmanned program.

Which means -- to repeat (sorry, Alex, but repetition seems to be necessary) -- that the only guide we have to how Congress would react is that very clue you yourself mentioned: the space program as a whole is supported by Congress primarily as pork and patronage, and so if the manned portion of it was by some miracle ended, the Space Pork Contingent in Congress would probably try to expand the unmanned space program to compensate for that loss. My reasoning in this case is not exactly complex.

But then -- to repeat again -- this whole issue is irrevelant to what may be about to happen in any case: to keep Shuttle/Station going, Griffin has had to pull $2 billion out of the unmanned program AND $1.5 billion out of Bush's manned lunar program, and he himself has already made it clear in writing, in the reports he co-wrote just before becoming NASA Administator, that he would dearly love to cancel Shuttle/Station at the slightest opportunity, after which (if and when it happens) both the unmanned program AND the manned lunar program would have that money restored to them.
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Guest_BruceMoomaw_*
post Feb 24 2006, 08:03 PM
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QUOTE (djellison @ Feb 24 2006, 05:00 PM) *
Whatever is in the news, Bruce thinks it's wrong. If something goes wrong, Bruce knew it would and could have told you 5 years previous. If something totally and fundamentally unexpected happens that could never have been forseen, Bruce wants to know why they didnt know it was going to happen, and he knew it would happen all along.


The only thing I can say in reply to that is that you're wrong on all three points. If I thought I knew what was going to happen in advance in regard to the space program, I would never have been interested in it in the first place, dammit.

What is true is that I have been OCCASIONALLY correct in predicting that the design of the space program was wrong and needed to be corrected -- which is itself not exactly controversial. On the subject of the idiocy of Shuttle/Station, I've been no more than one of a large swarm of people who have been pointing out the glaringly obvious for over 15 years now; and on the subject of the idiocy of the manned space program as a whole at this point in our history I'm only one member of a crowd that is almost equally big (and includes Freeman Dyson, whose arguments on the subject strike me as bulletproof).

On smaller issues I am SOMETIMES correct -- as with the possibility of a much cheaper design for the Pluto probe than Dan Goldin was blatting about as supposedly necessary in 2000. (I found out a few months after publishing my article on that subject that -- as I had always assumed -- a hell of a lot of engineers had come up with the same excruciatingly obvious idea. What I HADN'T known was that Goldin was shutting them up by threatening to cut off all their NASA grants if they opened their mouths on the subject, because his line about a Pluto probe supposedly requiring expensive new technology was actually a deliberate lie on his part to force cancellation of any Pluto mission just because he personally didn't want one: "Nobody gives a damn about Pluto", as he told one aide. So Simon and I -- entirely unintentionally -- ended up belling the cat by running that article; after we'd put it out, he couldn't keep the idea hushed up any more.)

But I'm wrong with metronomic frequency -- and if I wasn't, I would never, from my childhood on, have found space exploration unpredictable enough (in both its scientific revelations and its historical developments) to be interesting in the first place. It's precisely, and only, when I AM wrong in predicting something that things get interesting for me.
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Guest_AlexBlackwell_*
post Feb 24 2006, 08:09 PM
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QUOTE (BruceMoomaw @ Feb 24 2006, 07:31 PM) *
Of course the ESA and Japan are irrelevant to my argument, since they never had a manned space program to begin with and so there is no way they can be used to judge whether a nation that shrinks its manned space program will expand its unmanned space program to compensate. But Russia is also totally irrelevant, since their economy collapsed utterly and forced them to virtually end their space program completely...

So you concede, despite initially offering the examples of Europe and Japan, that there are no real examples of other countries' experiences to support your assertion? Great. Now we're making some progress.

QUOTE (BruceMoomaw @ Feb 24 2006, 07:31 PM) *
Which means -- to repeat (sorry, Alex, but repetition seems to be necessary) -- that the only guide we have to how Congress would react is that very clue you yourself mentioned: the space program as a whole is supported by Congress primarily as pork and patronage, and so if the manned portion of it was by some miracle ended, the Space Pork Contingent in Congress would probably try to expand the unmanned space program to compensate for that loss. My reasoning in this case is not exactly complex.

I agree. In fact, your "reasoning" is entirely too simplistic. I just don't accept your contention that converting the huge, complex manned space program support infrastructure to one exclusively supporting unmanned space missions would be "easy." Nor have you convinced me that the funds available for manned space flight in this country, if eliminated, would automatically be re-programmed into unmanned space flight instead of, say, defense, homeland security, social programs, deficit reduction, etc.

Not that I expected any, but I was hoping for some evidence, not more assertions.
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Guest_BruceMoomaw_*
post Feb 24 2006, 08:13 PM
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QUOTE (djellison @ Feb 24 2006, 04:11 PM) *
So what you're saying is that NASA should be doing NOAA's job?

Doug


What I'm saying is that SOMEBODY should be doing NOAA's job. I've said before that I wouldn't at all mind seeing NASA broken up and all or most of its functions distributed among other government agencies -- including all space science funding coming from either a new Cabinet-level Department of Science or (if that doesn't come into existence) out of the National Academy of Sciences, and all space-based climate studies being done by NOAA. Bush, however, has been singularly reluctant to let ANYBODY -- whether NASA or NOAA -- fly climate-research satellites.
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Guest_AlexBlackwell_*
post Feb 24 2006, 08:22 PM
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QUOTE (BruceMoomaw @ Feb 24 2006, 08:13 PM) *
What I'm saying is that SOMEBODY should be doing NOAA's job. I've said before that I wouldn't at all mind seeing NASA broken up and all or most of its functions distributed among other government agencies -- including all space science funding coming from either a new Cabinet-level Department of Science or (if that doesn't come into existence) out of the National Academy of Sciences, and all space-based climate studies being done by NOAA. Bush, however, has been singularly reluctant to let ANYBODY -- whether NASA or NOAA -- fly climate-research satellites.

You know, at first I thought you were just being argumentative. Now, I believe that you really believe that a Balkanization of the U.S. space program would be beneficial. Unreal.
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Guest_BruceMoomaw_*
post Feb 24 2006, 08:27 PM
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QUOTE (AlexBlackwell @ Feb 24 2006, 08:09 PM) *
So you concede, despite initially offering the examples of Europe and Japan, that there are no real examples of other countries' experiences to support your assertion? Great. Now we're making some progress.

I just don't accept your contention that converting the huge, complex manned space program support infrastructure to one exclusively supporting unmanned space missions would be "easy." Nor have you convinced me that the funds available for manned space flight in this country, if eliminated, would automatically be re-programmed into unmanned space flight instead of, say, defense, homeland security, social programs, deficit reduction, etc.

Not that I expected any, but I was hoping for some evidence, not more assertions.


How long, O Lord? The only reason I mentioned the ESA and Japan at all is that the fact that they have unmanned programs without having manned ones is strong evidence that the US would not automatically and mindlessly kill its unmanned program completely once the manned program was eliminated -- which is what Dvandorn was claiming (without trying to provide any evidence).

As for saying that "converting the huge, complex manned space program support infrastructure to supporting unmanned space missions would be 'easy' ": I never said anything of the sort, because it's obviously untrue. What I said was that the aerospace giants who are currently getting a lot of their contracts in the manned space program would obviously be eager to acquire substitute work if they lost those contracts, and that one consequence of this would be an increase in the number of their contracts for unmanned space work. (Another consequence would doubtless be some expansion of their defense-industry work.) Obviously not all of the funds currently going to the manned program would be rediverted to the unmanned program -- but SOME of them would be; and if the Space Pork Congressmen had their way (which they very often do), quite a bit of them would be.

My "evidence" is the evidence you yourself have provided, with your (correct) observation on Congress' inevitable and large appetite for pork.


QUOTE (AlexBlackwell @ Feb 24 2006, 08:22 PM) *
You know, at first I thought you were just being argumentative. Now, I believe that you really believe that a Balkanization of the U.S. space program would be beneficial. Unreal.


Why? It only exists in its currently freakishly swollen form in the US because of the Moon Race. If that hadn't happened -- and it wouldn't have happened, if it hadn't been for the combination of Khrushchev and LBJ -- America's space program would indeed bear a strong resemblance to that of Europe. That is, it would be much more rationally proportioned to the actual national benefits from it.
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Guest_AlexBlackwell_*
post Feb 24 2006, 08:42 PM
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I'll leave you with the last word in our debate in this thread, Bruce. Bitter experience has shown me that you will not be budged from any position in which you have a great deal of emotional investment, especially when you're convinced that you're absolutely correct, a not-too-uncommon occurence, I might add.
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Guest_BruceMoomaw_*
post Feb 24 2006, 08:54 PM
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QUOTE (BruceMoomaw @ Feb 24 2006, 08:03 PM) *
But I'm wrong with metronomic frequency -- and if I wasn't, I would never, from my childhood on, have found space exploration unpredictable enough (in both its scientific revelations and its historical developments) to be interesting in the first place. It's precisely, and only, when I AM wrong in predicting something that things get interesting for me.


On this subject: I've just finished plowing through as many of the new LPSC and EGU abstracts as I can without endangering my already precarious mental health, and one of the most dramatic revelations I've found in them is Brett Gladman's new LPSC abstract ( http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2006/pdf/2165.pdf ) showing that one of my most cherished beliefs about astrobiological research may be totally wrong. I've been claiming for years that the discovery of life on Europa would actually be far more important scientifically than the discovery of life on Mars, because Martian life might very well have evolved on Earth and just been transferred to Mars via meteorite (or vice versa!); whereas Europan life, if we find it, must have evolved separately and would thus prove that life had evolved twice in the same solar system -- thus proving that life must indeed be common in the Universe, instead of just evolving on one world in this particular solar system by extremely long-shot luck and then getting meteor-mailed to a second world in the same system.

Well, sir: Gladman and Luke Dones have just finished their long-promised study of the frequencey with which Earth meteoroids may get transferred all the way to Europa -- and it turns out that hundreds of meteoroids from Earth have probably hit Europa during its history. Admittedly they all hit at very high speed -- 20-30 km/sec -- since Europa (unlike Mars) has no atmosphere to brake them; and that impact speed alone will greatly reduce the chances that any one of them could deliver living Earth germs to Europa. But the possibility really does exist, and so the importance of finding Europan life has just been perceptibly reduced -- if we find it, we can NOT eliminate the possibility that it came from our own world (or that both terrestrial and Europan life both originally came from Mars!)

There are quite a few other very interesting abstracts from both conferences; and I've already been planning to try to point some of them out to this site's other readers in the next day or two. (If, that is, Doug doesn't kick me out of it first because of my statements on this thread -- on a subject, which, frankly, is beginning to bore the hell out of me, since we all know damn well that the US government will never develop a remotely rational space program in any case.)

QUOTE (AlexBlackwell @ Feb 24 2006, 08:42 PM) *
I'll leave you with the last word in our debate in this thread, Bruce. Bitter experience has shown me that you will not be budged from any position in which you have a great deal of emotional investment, especially when you're convinced that you're absolutely correct, a not-too-uncommon occurence, I might add.



Why? Show me where my arguments are wrong; as I've said before, I find that revelation interesting more frequently than I find it insulting.
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djellison
post Feb 24 2006, 09:59 PM
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QUOTE (BruceMoomaw @ Feb 24 2006, 08:54 PM) *
a subject, which, frankly, is beginning to bore the hell out of me


A subject you started, you posted many many times about - you really do make for entertainment, I'll give you that much.

Doug
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David
post Feb 24 2006, 11:21 PM
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I don't see why the U.S./Soviet space race was such a bad thing; it certainly accomplished more in its dozen or so years (let's say 1957-1969) than has been accomplished since. Obviously, we've done a lot with unmanned spaceflight since 1969; but all of that was built on the incredible accomplishment of getting anything into space at all. And I don't think that would have happened as early as 1957 without the superpower rivalry. I can easily imagine a modest, rational space program waiting until 1970 before actually orbiting a satellite. Why rush things? In fact, it's even easier to imagine a world in which national governments have no interest in space at all, and rocketry is totally in the hands of privately funded Raumschifffahrt clubs. In which case we would probably still be waiting for the first "man-made moon".

My biggest quarrel with the American-Soviet competition is that it didn't go on long enough, and the Americans won too easily. Perhaps if the Russians and the Americans had landed on the Moon at about the same time, there would have been an extra impetus to keep on exploring. Or perhaps it would have been better if the real goal had been a long-range one, or a series of goals, rather than the one-success goal of "landing a man on the Moon before the decade is out", which encouraged a tailoring of the manned space program to that one goal, and finding a way to do it as cheaply and easily as possible. Looking back at the far more audacious plans of the late 1950s, which involved landing multiple crews in enormous craft with huge amounts of supplies, aiming at lengthy stays and even the building of small cities on the Moon -- well, it's clear that Apollo, even an extended Apollo, was going to fall far short of that. And of course after Apollo the whole thing fell apart.

Sure, it would have been costly. But when you think about where the Soviet and American money actually went, being used to fund proxy wars in various parts of the planet, it's hard not to see the space race as a far better form of competition.

Getting back to the shuttle, the concept of a space-plane that would bring people and supplies to and from an orbiting space station is actually quite an old one. But what I'm a little puzzled by is figuring out what the space station was actually intended for, even in those early plans. I understand that it's "cool" to have a big building-sized structure flying around the earth, but it seems to me that spacecraft assembly, fuelling, and all the other things that we see these proposed stations being used for can be done just as well without the station. What am I missing?
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dvandorn
post Feb 25 2006, 02:01 AM
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Well, Bruce, since *no* country on Earth has ever developed a manned and unmanned spaceflight capability and then gave up one of them, we neither one of us have any precedents to draw from.

So, without a specific example from which to draw conclusions, I'm doing a poor imitation of the same -- I'm drawing from the length and breadth of human history.

Look at all of the great empires that have arisen since humans started arranging themselves into tribes. Every *single* time an empire begins to cut back on one area of exploration, it signals the beginning of the end of *all* exploration attempted by that empire. Followed, usually fairly shortly thereafter, by the fall of that empire.

Why does this happen as empires fall? Because only empires at the height of their powers can *afford* exploration, simply for the sake of exploration. It is only after the fall that anyone ever realizes that their empire could have stood a bit longer if they had just understood that the cost of failing to explore is actually higher, in all senses that make a people *great*, than the cost of continuing their explorations.

Obviously, you don't think America is likely to follow the same pattern as every previous empire in the history of mankind. That much is obvious. So, here you can serve yet another glorious purpose -- to prove, once again, that those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it...

-the other Doug


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“The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right.” -Mark Twain
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Guest_BruceMoomaw_*
post Feb 25 2006, 02:23 AM
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QUOTE (djellison @ Feb 24 2006, 09:59 PM) *
A subject you started, you posted many many times about - you really do make for entertainment, I'll give you that much.

Doug


Yep, I started it. I had no idea, however, that it was going to turn into a religious war. (As for my "ranting" on the subject, it consists of exactly the same arguments used by such dread figures of anti-space evil as Freeman Dyson, James Van Allen and Alex Roland. But, in any case, I started this thread talking about a separate subject from opposition to manned spaceflight -- namely, whether Shuttle/Station in particular will and should get the ax soon, in a move that would benefit both the unmanned program AND Bush's manned program. And both issues are of course also separate from the question of whether NASA's functions should be broken up and redistributed among other governmental agencies, and to what extent.)

David's argument that keeping the Space Race going -- and amplifying it -- might have distracted the US' and USSR's attention from carrying out actual wars unfortunately misses the point that both nations decided pretty quickly on their own that those actual wars were more cost-effective from their point of view. Khrushchev got the Space Race rolling initially by deciding to emulate the Wizard of Oz, using the USSR's early space successes to try and persuade the US and the rest of the world that the USSR had far superior missile technology, and thus intimidate us militarily. After our spy satellites and his own Cuban missile fiasco exposed that as a lie, there really wasn't much purpose in the Soviet Union trying to sustain it -- which is why the Soviet Union (as we learned afterwards) never really poured very much money into trying to beat the US to the Moon (although they decided to use just enough to keep us spending like crazy to try and beat them in a race which, it turned out later, we were always virtually certain to win even if we'd spent far less on it). And after Nikita's attempted deception was exposed, it made far more sense for both nations to resume devoting their attention entirely to what they had been doing before the late 1950s -- namely, carrying out genuine if indirect military actions against each other, with Indochina of course being the main attraction.

Indeed, even given Khruschchev's actions, the US might not have gotten into the Moon Race if it hadn't been for the frenetic efforts of Vice President Johnson to get us into it. Eisenhower, Nixon, and (as we now know from his released White House tapes) JFK himself were not enthusiastic about the idea. LBJ, however, was absolutely wild about it -- although, as he privately told some of his acquaintances at the time, he actually decided to launch it largely as an attempt to increase federal pork spending in the South. (The Manned Spacecraft Center was supposed to be built in Vallejo, California; LBJ moved Heaven and Earth to get it reassigned to Houston.) He managed -- just barely -- to talk JFK into the idea (it was apparently the only respect in which he had any effect on US policy as Veep). But almost as soon as he himself became President, he found himself embroiled in a very real and very expensive war, which pretty much finished off the national political support for a simultaneous symbolic one -- especially given the collapse of Khruschchev's ICBM charade by then. So, unfortunately, saying that we should have tried to keep the Space Race going is rather like saying that we should have tried to divert the Soviets away from military efforts into a worldwide flower-gardening contest to prove their superiority to capitalism.
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