Monday, February 01, 2010

Just a few questions Mr. President

The current fleet of Space Shuttles should reach the end of their service lives this year, 2010. Obviously, we could push that envelope a bit, and try to keep it going for another year or two. However, the question comes up, what do we replace it with?

The Constellation Program. Was part of a larger idea. Earth, the Moon, and Mars with one system that was adaptable to it's needs. It would have allowed us to service the International Space Station, transfer supplies, and allow us to plan and execute missions beyond Earth Orbit, which the Shuttle couldn't.

The President has decided that first on the chopping block is the Constellation program. This is the first thing he feels needs to be cut from the Federal Budget.

OK, let's say I agree we need to curb Federal spending, which I do. However, I have one question Mr. President. How do we service the International Space Station without the Shuttle, or it's replacement? You know, get people up there, supplies, things like that.

The Russian system is incapable of sustaining a full crew on the Space Station indefinitely. The Euro Space Program is just now getting the tests underway of their unmanned cargo system online. It's not ready yet, and the question is again, how do we service the ISS?

Only the Shuttle is capable of carrying the components into space, and positioning them where they need to be to complete construction of the station. Only NASA has the experience needed to conduct the long term spacewalks required to connect these components. They aren't Lego's, they have to be precisely aligned and connected properly, the very first time.

So why am I the first person to ask this question, what are we going to do with this huge station we have in orbit right now? Are we going to fly the Shuttle indefinitely? Already, NASA is having trouble getting parts, you see, the technology that went into the Shuttle was cutting edge, in 1976. Computer chips that were revolutionary at the time, are astoundingly difficult to find. A Gateway laptop probably has more computer power than all the computers used by the shuttle combined at it's inception.

So what are we going to do with the International Space Station Mr. President? Also why isn't the NASA administrator, who is busy explaining why this is just the way the Federal Budget bounces, asking these questions?

There is another issue we haven't considered. Helium 3, which seems mathmatically to answer a number of issues concerning Fusion Power, and it's eventual replacement of all other power sources on Earth, is rather rare here on Earth. As in nearly non existant. However, it is far more abundant on the moon. Also there are theories that Helium 3 can be used in medical treatments and tests to show actual Lung activity in real time.

Yet, by canceling the Moon phase of of NASA, aren't we putting this material, and cheap, clean, efficient energy beyond our reach for decades?

It is an axiom that we should reduce spending during difficult times. That is a truth that every family in America knows. However, it's also a truism that you don't cut your nose off in spite of your face. By canceling NASA's moon program, and the larger Constellation program, aren't we doing exactly that? Isn't the short term gain, as small as it is a part of the budget, more easily found elsewhere? Isn't our potential long term loss so great we should reconsider this idea? I believe it is, and I think that the White House hasn't really considered this matter fully. I think that NASA should have made a better case, and the cries for Green Energy would be clamoring for Fusion power.

Perhaps not, because truly reliable, clean, cheap energy, would be the opposite of what the environmentalist nuts want. They want expensive rationed energy instead.

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