Dump Obama’s asteroid mission says advisory council

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NASA’s Advisory Council today joined a growing chorus of critics asking NASA to dump Obama’s commitment to send astronauts to an asteroid, or more precisely, to a boulder that NASA has taken from an asteroid.

They want the agency to instead focus on developing ion engine designs in conjunction with an orbital mission to Mars.



  • pzatchok

    I am so tired of hearing about NASA and their attempt at reaching Mars.

    If it EVER happens its going to be even worse than going to the moon.
    At least in going to the moon we had the chance to go back several times.Then nothing ever touched the surface again and they have absolutely no plans on ever going back.

    If we ever go to Mars its going to be ONCE and we will bring back a few rocks that robots could just as easily have done. Far safer and cheaper.

    As for that SEP excuse.
    They know exactly how much thrust the engine will give according to the amount of electricity produced by the solar panels. It pretty much proportional.
    They also know exactly how much fuel it will use according to how much thrust they want to use and expected maneuvers. . And yes ION engines do need fuel just like any other engine.

    Their whole plan sounds like a pile of untested, experimental programs they have been begging to get funding for in order to keep as many people as possible employed.

    They could easily afford this whole program if they just dropped SLS and planned on launching it on something they already have.

  • Arbitrary

    NASA could do a human Mars orbiting mission in 18 years. But it won’t happen. And because of the same reason that ARM won’t happen. There’s no point. Landing on the Moon makes sense and can be done sooner, cheaper, safer so that is what will happen. Later they’ll go to Mars, to land there.

  • wodun

    “They could easily afford this whole program if they just dropped SLS and planned on launching it on something they already have.”

    Yup, but they don’t have the choice and even if they did I don’t think they would choose wisely.

  • Arbitrary

    I see now that they advocate a robotic mission, not human mission (like Planetary Society recently did). That’s great. If they only reduce the sample size to a kilogram or so, like all other sample return missions do, for good reasons.

  • wodun

    One of the aims of one of these proposed ARM missions was to bring something back to a la grange point. We would then launch a couple manned missions to study whatever was brought back. I don’t think this was THE plan but a plan. NASA always has plenty of plans which they claim is THE plan but was really never intended to be.

    The flaw with their Mars plan, which they claim to have but really don’t, is the same problem with their ARM plan. You need to have a sustained human presence. What would make sense of the ARM is a station at a la grange point that could be used for a variety of reasons and support a variety of follow on programs. People could stay and study indefinitely rather than a few weeks.

    The same is true for Mars. There wont be a sustained human presence. In order to have one on the surface, you likely need to have one in some sort of Mars orbit to support ground operations. Skipping the construction of support facilities is the wrong path to take. We can choose either the Moon or Mars as a primary destination but you still need those support functions.

    IMO, a station at a lunar la grange point is part of getting to Mars and it would open up access to more than just Mars. The following step is a similar station in Mars orbit. To me, reading debates about what orbit is best for a Mars or Lunar station is better than arguing over which should come first the Moon or Mars.

  • wodun

    I have a general criticism of NASA and the Space Cadets. NASA is adrift without any clear strategy or purpose. Some people will disagree and point to a budget or some policy paper but the fact is no one can define what NASA’s strategy is because it means something different to each person.

    As evidence of the lack of strategy, you can look at how many times over just the last few years that NASA has reinvented their primary exploration objectives. If something is ever shifting, lacks a concrete definition, and is never realized, then you can’t call it a strategy.

    It is just PR. Space Cadets should expect more. They shouldn’t fall for the marketing and cheerleading. I view NASA as lying to the public. They know they are just spinning their wheels right now and the whatever plan, program, or technology they use for PR today will be gone in the future. This is not necessarily due to congress. NASA does PR stuff like this knowing that their is no future for whatever gimmick they are spreading on the internet.

    It may be good PR. It may get kids interested in science. But when people grow up and realize how NASA was dishonest in their conduct, it will disallusion the very people they want to energize.

  • pzatchook

    Oh they have the choice.
    They just don’t want to stop it because they see a massive works project in it. Something they could work on for the next 20 years and NEVER really accomplish anything.
    All they have to do is launch it once and they can sit back all smug and say ‘I did it, my jobs done.” If not just straight out retire before even that is done.

    If NASA as a whole just stood up and told the public they didn’t want the SLS project and blamed the politicians on its being started, the politicians would be on the defensive and would have to end it.
    And as each politician tried to budgetarily harm NASA call that politician out onto the carpet to explain themselves and why they are trying to waste time and money.

    They would ALL as a group have to stand up and do this to the politicians to stand a good chance.
    But I can not see that as happening.
    NASA is now a federal works program. One of the largest corporate welfare programs the US has ever seen.
    At least with the military programs we normally get products that last longer than one launch. Or at least research that yields something tangible.
    Like higher powered solid state lasers and GPS guided vehicles through DARPA.
    The internet was a military project before it went civilian.

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