DailyDirt: Manned Space Exploration Is Coming Back

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

The Apollo 11 Moon landing was a pretty big deal in 1969 (and it still is). It’s been just 46 years since a human being first set foot on the moon, and it’s a bit disappointing that we haven’t been back more recently. Fortunately, there are some folks still working on manned space exploration (phew, SpaceX..), so people won’t be limited to just visiting the ISS or Tiangong 1. If you’re a space enthusiast, check out a few of these links on manned spaceflight stuff.

After you’ve finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.

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Companies: boeing, kickstarter, nasa, smithsonian institution, spacex

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Comments on “DailyDirt: Manned Space Exploration Is Coming Back”

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Bergman (profile) says:

Federal Law versus Reality

There is a federal law here in the US that basically says that since it was a US government expedition that brought all existing moon rocks back, all the ones on Earth are owned by the US government.

If China brings back rocks and sends them on a museum tour around the world to showcase Chinese greatness, that federal law may cause the US government to seize Chinese rocks.

If the Chinese government sells any rocks, it may cause the US government to make felons of any US buyers.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Federal Law versus Reality


The Soviets also brought back lunar soil via the unmanned Luna 20 (1974) and Luna 24 (1976) missions.

The US government could have no claim to any lunar soil brought back by Russians, Chinese or anyone else, even if sold to Americans. While they make some silly claims once in a while, I don’t believe they’ve made this one.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Federal Law versus Reality

Ok, having dug into it a bit, it appears to have been an attempt at civil asset forfeiture on the grounds that the guy who had it couldn’t possibly be the owner, therefore it was the proceeds of a crime.

The original federal government argument in court was that only the federal government could give away moon rocks, and they didn’t give one to him, therefore it was not his.

Eventually it came to light that the rock in question had been stolen from the actual owner and passed through more than one set of hands before arriving in the possession of the guy who it was being forfeited from. But that discovery came later than the initial court filing.

So while there isn’t in fact such a statute, the US government acts as if there were.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Don’t hold your breath for those Chinese or Russian moon walkers. Officials in both countries regularly announce exciting plans, but those aren’t the same as *funded* plans.

The Chinese have been essentially repeating the American Gemini program milestones; long duration flight, space walks, rendezvous and docking. But with those flights and milestones have been coming years apart rather than months or weeks as with Gemini.

Count on more unmanned lunar missions, including sample return. And a couple more orbital test modules by the end of the decade before building a small space station in the 2020s. Building it and then running it will soak up all their funding though the 2020s.

The Russian manned program has been funded largely by selling seats on Soyuz to its ISS partners. They could toss a couple tourists in a Soyuz on a lunar free return trajectory, but they won’t be landing people on the moon in the foreseeable future.

The closest thing to a space race right now is between an American government program and American private industry.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I miss the old days

Yeah, those ipads and iphones they had in the 70’s that made them stop dreaming, right? Dreck. Mostly people don’t care, can’t see the value in it. When Planetary Resources brings back a chunk of sky and become insanely rich on the spot, that’s when you’ll see people move.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: I miss the old days

Even at the best of times people don’t want to pay for a space program. Sure, they want a space program, but they don’t want to pay for it.

When Americans saw Sputnik flying over American soil – along with other Soviet firsts – first man in space, first spacewalk etc. – it was a Very Big Deal. They demanded that Something Be Done. And so NASA got a lot of funding.

Once the Gemini program got rolling and America was demonstrably ahead, that demand disappeared. NASA’s budget was slashed and Saturn V production capped well before Apollo 11. Apollo coasted through the moon landings with what hardware was already in the pipeline.

But Apollo 13, just months later, didn’t even get significant TV coverage until they had a life-threatening problem.

With no interest from the public, Congress only funded NASA on a life-support level. The Shuttle’s primary mission was to keep the standing army of Apollo engineers, technicians and construction workers employed. Constellation repeated this. It’s the ONLY mission for SLS. Budgets had to spread those jobs across many important Congressional districts to get support. And then they could attach budget amendments – pork – so that the Space Station budget funds everything from fisheries research centers to road building in Alaska.

Until Americans demand a lunar or Mars base, Congress won’t fund one.

Stephen says:

Flying Bombs?

The first test flights will begin as early as 2017 with SpaceX and Boeing taking astronauts to the International Space Station.

You mean they will be conducting those “test flights” with live astronauts onboard?

Is that the same SpaceX whose (non-test-flight) rockets of an unmanned sort have lately had the unfortunate habit of going KA-BOOM shortly after leaving the launch pad?

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Flying Bombs?

The Space Shuttle ALSO had the “unfortunate habit” of killing its entire crew once in a while.

Falcon 9’s first 18 flights were successful. Saturn V, which took America to the moon, only launched 13 times. The first stage pogo oscillations on Apollo 6 would have killed the crew if it had one. It was in bad shape when it reached its (wrong) orbit. The Skylab launch also had problems on the way up, with not all the station reaching orbit.

Also the Falcon 9 failure was survivable. If the Dragon V1 capsule had the updated software intended for the manned Dragon V2, they could have deployed the chutes and saved the capsule. The next Dragon launch, also a version 1, will have the updated software.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Yes. There are manned test space flights.

Once we are confident of a module’s structural integrity, and habitability during flight we’ll send the module up with crew (and passengers!) in order to make sure all the amenities and and comforts operate properly.

When things go wrong at that phase, usually it’s things like food being awkward to prepare, or bathrooms being difficult to use, or certain seats being uncomfortable during certain maneuvers.

And yes, like cars and airplanes, sometimes there’s a failure within the structure or instrumentation that can turn the entire flight into a disaster. Space travel is not perfectly safe, but as safe as reasonably possible. The danger of spaceflight is less about system failures, and more about venturing into the unknown.

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