Obama sets Mars goal for America

Obama sets Mars goal for America

Postby Toadnuke » Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:38 am

BBC News wrote:Barack Obama says it should be possible to send astronauts to orbit the planet Mars by the mid-2030s and return them safely to Earth.

The US president made the claim in a major speech to staff and guests at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

He was laying out the details of his new policy for the US space agency.

Mr Obama said he was giving Nasa challenging goals and the funding needed to achieve them, including an extra $6bn over the next five years.

"By 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the Moon into deep space," he told his audience. "So we'll start - we'll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history."

And then he added: "By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it."

Mr Obama hopes his new timetable for action can win wide approval.

'Lifeboat' proposal

The White House has been under fire since announcing in February that it wanted to shut down Constellation, the current programme to replace the ageing space shuttle.

Mr Obama said the proposed Orion crewship, its Ares launch rocket, together with the rest of the project's Moon-bound architecture were on an unsustainable path, costing too much money and taking too long to develop.

The president claimed a refocused Nasa could achieve more, sooner than under Constellation.
Orion (Nasa)
The Orion ship will be remodelled to serve as an ISS "lifeboat"

"What we're looking for is not just to continue on the same path; we want to leap into the future," he said. "We want major breakthroughs, a transformative agenda for Nasa."

In the speech, the president did not change the broad outline of the vision for the US space agency he first expounded in his 2011 federal budget request.

He still proposes to extend the operation of the International Space Station (ISS) from 2016 until at least 2020; and he re-emphasised his desire to see commercial companies take over the job of launching astronauts to the orbiting platform.

However, there was a key concession in the speech.

This was a commitment to carry forward development of the Orion crew capsule. In the first instance, this would be just a simpler version of the ship designed to act as a "lifeboat" at the ISS.

However, he said in due course this revised vessel would also serve as the "technological foundation" for much more capable vehicles to take astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit.

'Inspiration' of space

Mr Obama also pledged to begin development of a new heavy-lift rocket no later than 2015, but he said it must contain new propulsion technologies. Mimicking the rockets of the past was not an option, he explained.

"The bottom line is: nobody is more committed to manned spaceflight, the human exploration of space, than I am. But we've got to do it in a smart way; we can't keep doing the same old things as before."

Addressing fears that changes to US space policy might result in thousands of job losses across Florida's "Space Coast", Mr Obama claimed his ideas would actually create 2,500 more jobs than under Constellation.

To emphasise his support for the space programme, he reminded his audience that Nasa was in the extraordinary position of having its budget increased at a time when other areas of government faced static funding or even cuts to try to constrain the national deficit.

Money spent on the space programme would reap huge dividends, he argued.

"For pennies on the dollar, the space programme has fuelled jobs and entire industries. For pennies on the dollar, the space programme has improved our lives, advanced our society, strengthened our economy and inspired generations of Americans. And I have no doubt that Nasa can continue to fill this role."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8623691.stm

So, do you think he's serious?
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Re: Obama sets Mars goal for America

Postby Tyyr » Fri Apr 16, 2010 9:02 am

Well, the cynic in me feels compelled to point out that with a target date of 2035 his administration will never be required to fund this initiative in any real way. That it will entirely be up to successive administrations to do anything about this and the odds are good that funding for this will be delayed because, "We've got twenty years to go...".

I'm also wondering how Constellation was unsustainable but this will be. After all a trip to Mars will be ten times or more expensive than a Moon mission. If we're gonna do this we're going to need to get access to low earth orbit... and oh yeah, we just axed our only low earth option launch option.

To be honest I'm hoping that this might generate a reevaluation of our heavy lift options. Ares V was much like Ares I, on the surface it looks like a shuttle derived vehicle but when you got down into the nuts and bolts the commonality isn't there and its essentially a clean sheet design. Options like Jupiter and Shuttle-C were true SDV's that would cost less and be flying sooner. With any luck one of them might win. Though I should probably look into if they finally killed some of the last remaining facilities that those SDV's would need. Constellation might have managed to kill it's competitors right along with it.
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Re: Obama sets Mars goal for America

Postby Sionnach Glic » Fri Apr 16, 2010 2:30 pm

My own bet's on (short of a new Space Race breaking out) us touching down on Mars sometime in the 2040's. As we come up to the thirties, even assuming no major economic or international problems arise which delay it (a pretty big if), plenty of administrations are going to not give a shit about it or see it as a handy place for budget cuts. It'll only be as the deadline approaches that administrations start funding and pushing the project properly.
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Re: Obama sets Mars goal for America

Postby Mikey » Fri Apr 16, 2010 2:39 pm

Tyyr wrote:Well, the cynic in me feels compelled to point out that with a target date of 2035 his administration will never be required to fund this initiative in any real way. That it will entirely be up to successive administrations to do anything about this and the odds are good that funding for this will be delayed because, "We've got twenty years to go...".


The cynic in me is even more cynical than the cynic in you. Mine tells me that this is a sound bite designed to deflect negative attention caused by his relative disregard for NASA, and more specifically for the recent loss of 9,000 jobs in the field.
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Re: Obama sets Mars goal for America

Postby Sionnach Glic » Fri Apr 16, 2010 3:23 pm

Oh, it's almost certainly just a PR move. At least when Kennedy said it, the goal he set was within his own possible presidential span, and thus something he had to actually start funding properly. Obama is probably going to do absolutely nothing and leave future administrations (who will similarly do absolutely nothing) to deal with it.
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Re: Obama sets Mars goal for America

Postby Aaron » Fri Apr 16, 2010 11:29 pm

Yeah, at this rate the closest we'll get to a space colony is filling a crapload of balloons and attaching them to a house.
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Re: Obama sets Mars goal for America

Postby Deepcrush » Sat Apr 17, 2010 5:40 am

I'm calling bullshit on this plan... end of story.
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Re: Obama sets Mars goal for America

Postby Monroe » Sat Apr 17, 2010 6:20 am

Me too. We should be doing everything in our power to make Moon an American frontier. Our supremacy in the 21st century relies on it. (No offense to the non-Americans :P )
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Re: Obama sets Mars goal for America

Postby Captain Seafort » Sat Apr 17, 2010 8:08 am

Monroe wrote:Our supremacy in the 21st century relies on it.


Your supremacy is living on borrowed time - you may be the superpower now, but given the economic rise of India and, even more so, China, the US will at the very best be only one of two or three superpowers. Going to the moon or Mars won't change that. That isn't a reason not to go, but neither is it a reason to go, tongue-in-cheek or not.
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Re: Obama sets Mars goal for America

Postby Reliant121 » Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:03 am

Besides, every empire must rise and fall. We've done it, time for you colonials to taste it!
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Re: Obama sets Mars goal for America

Postby Captain Seafort » Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:44 am

Exactly. The US now is in much the same position we were in at the end of the 19th century - still the dominant power by a good margin, but the writing's on the wall.
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Re: Obama sets Mars goal for America

Postby Mikey » Sat Apr 17, 2010 2:10 pm

Captain Seafort wrote:Exactly. The US now is in much the same position we were in at the end of the 19th century - still the dominant power by a good margin, but the writing's on the wall.


Unfortunately for you, you'd likely be coming down with us.
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Re: Obama sets Mars goal for America

Postby Tyyr » Sat Apr 17, 2010 5:10 pm

Mikey wrote:The cynic in me is even more cynical than the cynic in you. Mine tells me that this is a sound bite designed to deflect negative attention caused by his relative disregard for NASA, and more specifically for the recent loss of 9,000 jobs in the field.

I was reigning in my cynicism a great deal in an attempt to not obscure my opinion with what some might construe as partisan vitriol.
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Re: Obama sets Mars goal for America

Postby Monroe » Sat Apr 17, 2010 5:59 pm

Captain Seafort wrote:
Monroe wrote:Our supremacy in the 21st century relies on it.


Your supremacy is living on borrowed time - you may be the superpower now, but given the economic rise of India and, even more so, China, the US will at the very best be only one of two or three superpowers. Going to the moon or Mars won't change that. That isn't a reason not to go, but neither is it a reason to go, tongue-in-cheek or not.


One of 2 or 3 super powers is still a super power ;) And in the future the country that owns the Moon and Mars is better off. You gotta be far sighted when it comes to empire building.
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Re: Obama sets Mars goal for America

Postby Mikey » Sat Apr 17, 2010 6:42 pm

Tyyr wrote:
Mikey wrote:The cynic in me is even more cynical than the cynic in you. Mine tells me that this is a sound bite designed to deflect negative attention caused by his relative disregard for NASA, and more specifically for the recent loss of 9,000 jobs in the field.

I was reigning in my cynicism a great deal in an attempt to not obscure my opinion with what some might construe as partisan vitriol.


Well, then let me continue to serve as proxy. I just can't commit to the idea that Obama's relegation of the space program to eighth fiddle (not that I entirely disagree with it, as you know) leads to this sort of plan.
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