Sunday, September 6, 2009

What are we waiting for?

I just read Phil Plait’s post over at Bad Astronomy about the Ares-1. He included this cool picture of it:

Ares-1 courtesy of Bad Astronomy

I checked up on the latest news and found out the static test of its primary engine has been rescheduled for Thurs Sept 10th.

As I’ve reported on this blog before NASA is at the state where it has to “Go Big, or Stay Home”. In order to make the Ares-1 fly on time and have the Ares-5 able to take us back to the Moon in the 20s NASA needs an additional $3 billion per year.

We have known since 1985 that the Space Shuttle was a dud, it couldn’t maintain the schedule necessary to reduce costs without becoming too risky. For 25 years we continued to pour money into that program draining the money that could be used for researching the next spacecraft.

The biggest thing we learned from the Space Shuttle Program was that the worst space program still gives us good returns on investment as the technology is passed out to the private sector.

If instead of cutting NASA’s budget every year, we had increased it; NASA could have been working on Space Shuttle alternatives for 25 years.

The aircraft industry has known since the 80’s that they would need to replace aluminum with carbon fiber for the skins of their aircraft, but that would require open testing of how it reacted to repeated pressurization and de-pressurization.

If NASA had been given the money to look into a Space Shuttle alternative in ’85 they would have needed to explore this field and the research would have paid for itself as American Aircraft would still be dominate in the world.

The new generation of spacecraft both public and private would be greatly helped by this as Burt Rutan’s Spaceship One’s biggest limitation is its Carbon Fiber skin.

SpaceShip One

SpaceX’s Falcon rocket series could have used this data as well, increasing its capabilities immensely.

Falcon 1

If NASA had been given this small increase, less than twice what the Federal government gives to Wal-Mart to help them eliminate competition and grants for Abstinence Only Education (a program proven not to work) we could already have commercial access to space as the research flowed down and NASA could concentrate on getting us to the Moon.

So what are we waiting for, lets build the damn Ares-1 rocket, then the Ares-5 and get back into space on a permanent basis, so we can advance as a civilization, instead of pouring money into Monopolies and programs proven not to work.

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