Comments for en-gb 30 Fri 22 Aug 2014 16:07:43 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at Robert Lucien Yes but Terry Gush if mankind is to have a future in space capsules are not the answer. Even if it is simpler we still have the argument that we have a machine that is thrown away every time it is used. If I am brutal about it we are effectively abandoning space a footstep at a time. While what we can do with a robot probe once it has left Earth orbit has and is improving amazingly, the crucial technology is what puts things into orbit and what lifts them beyond orbit. The problem is that they've forgotten why they built the Shuttle in the first place, it was meant to be a stepping stone to larger more capable machines. I work on SF extrapolations and at the pace we are going now we will be lucky to see men on Mars by 2050 if we ever do. At some point there has to be a leap of faith where much larger machines are lifted into orbit, and its not like America or the world doesn't have the money we're just spending it on promoting war rather than space. I'm not against commercialization per se after all the Shuttle and the whole Apollo program, and even Blue Streak were all built by commercial companies. Ironically the real problem thats killing space is that it doesn't have any stand out personalities to go out and argue with the presidents and politicians and convince them of whats needed, we need a Howard Hughes, an Edison, A Von Braun or if you'll pardon the joke a Tony Stark. Thu 15 Jul 2010 01:30:08 GMT+1 Terry Gush @Robert LuciensSome would respectfully beg to differ. For example, 24 former astronauts with over 50 space flights between them have strongly endorsed commercialization particularly in regards to crew safety and risk reduction by eliminating complexity from future designs with specific reference to the Space Shuttle.Of the Space Shuttle programmes many flaws (an average flight rate of less than 5 flights/year, a level of expense that has crippled investment in other projects, management issues found by both C.I.A.B.s etc.), it is the unacceptably high attrition rate of 1 dead astronaut per 10 flights that compels the elimination of avoidable complexity if the US manned space programme is to continue. Wed 14 Jul 2010 23:01:24 GMT+1 ghostofsichuan Stephen #9I was simply stating the fact that our sun will implode at some point in time. Has nothing to do with how we treat the earth, although it appears that we may make the planet unlivable prior to the implosion. Some romantize the human existence and because of religious foundations of the cultures see humans as the lone occupants of all the vastness which we are yet to explore or understand. I would rather accept the no beginning and no end view of it all and on probability alone guess that the chance of other life forms exist. In the East the thinking is that everything is repeatedly born, destroyed and reborn in endless cycles and may also explain something like the Big Bang. What is beyond the space that we know? Wed 14 Jul 2010 16:40:16 GMT+1 Robert Lucien The whole reason government doesn't do anything properly is to many poor quality people at the top. I admit I have a dislike of privatization, there are many good private companies but so often in a fierce market it is the shyster and five minute spiv who wins. (have seen an awful lot of this with a background in computing ;) ) Lowest cost bid tendering, and poor shoddy goods rent by bodging and cost cutting - of course thats more the territory of UK capitalism, as America is learning from BP. (Or I could say GM or Chrysler or now Toyota!) The next part is systematic covering up and lying about everything, after all cash flow is always a problem and the wolf is always at the door. The funny thing is that (in engineering) cost cutting is guaranteed to ensure that with the way the US government administration constantly changes the goal posts we will see even less done at greater cost. The real cheapest option would have been to spend the money in the first place and finish the second generation Shuttle. Cost plus might be expensive but in something as complex as an advanced space vehicle its the best way to ensure quality plus as well. Stupid people think that going into space is like flying, for the Shuttle 2 failures out of over a hundred missions is a remarkable rate of success. Somehow even NASA keeps forgetting this. The only thing that has achieved better is the Soyuz - born out of communist era Russia! I bet 99 out of 100 that private enterprise alone won't hit the Shuttles safety target. I hope I'm wrong. Wed 14 Jul 2010 15:27:11 GMT+1 BluesBerry I thougtht there had been a great hoopla about Obama shutting down the American space program. I thought this was an extension of Bush’s plan to end the 30-year-old space-shuttle program, saving NASA $3B/year.Now suddenly (where I'm concerned) I see NASA becoming buddy-buddy with commercial ventures. First we have the bankruptcy of Rocketplane Kistler the remains of which end up with Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Va., for its Taurus 2 launcher and Cygnus capsule combination.I guess when it came right down to it, the US couldn’t stand the thought of being “shuttled” around by Russian cosmonaughts!So private industry is taking over, right? Not quite.Private funds are being matched by government investment.”Or as Bill Clinton might say, It depends on your definition of shutting down is. Tue 13 Jul 2010 19:02:58 GMT+1 Terry Gush Yesterday, in regards to safety and the new commercial ventures, a statement from the Columbia Accident Investigation Board said...."Our view is that NASA's new direction can be a) just as safe, if not more safe, than government-controlled alternatives b) will achieve higher safety than that of the Space Shuttle, and c) is directly in line with the recommendations of the CAIB." Tue 13 Jul 2010 00:32:44 GMT+1 Jonathan Amos @knowles2, @Cathy: The under-16 thing is annoying, isn't it? I've asked the techies to take a look but they're scratching their heads at the moment. It could be because someone has been fiddling deep under the bonnet ahead of the BBC News website refresh on Wednesday. Who knows? Hopefully someone who understands these things can get to the bottom of it all. Apologies, anyway."Bonnet" = "hood", for non-natives ;-) What they would call it in Torino/Turin, I don't know. Perhaps an Italian speaker can enlighten us. Mon 12 Jul 2010 13:40:57 GMT+1 Phil Styo - I'm an old Geography teacher and have always and will always use the native name for places and features - therefor Rome is Roma, Milan is Milano, Mount McKinley in alaska is Denali, and what most of the english world called Ayers Rock for generations has always been Uluru to me!My name is philip i wouldn't like it if an Italian journalist knowing the correct english spelling of my name refered to me as Filippo (even in an Italian publication), this article may be in english but it is published on the web and therefore available in Italy, it its only polite to use the correct native name for this great city (I do think we have strayed somewhat from the content of the article). Mon 12 Jul 2010 13:36:39 GMT+1 Styo Phil - Yes, but the article is English. Therefore "Torino" sounds bizarre. I haven't seen English articles referencing "Roma" or München" for that matter. I would also expect the French to refer to "Londres" rather than "London" when writing in French. As for "Beijing" versus "Peking", In certain contexts it is very definitely still Peking(eg the duck). As Chinese is written in pictograms and utilises quite alien sounds to western ears, probably neither is perfect and neither dreadful. It would be handy if we globally agreed to adopt a wholly "native" convention or a wholly subjective one. Mixing and matching is quite inelegant though. Mon 12 Jul 2010 12:27:03 GMT+1 Phil Its good to see the new boys tapping into the experience of "Old Space", I hope its successful and alows NASA to focus its efforts of something alittle more exciting than ferrying food and water 350Km.A small point on the name, Torino is the Italian spelling and is therefore correct, afterall it is in Italy, its only right that we use the name they use or do some of you sill want to refer to Beijing as Pecking? Mumbai as Bombay? Mon 12 Jul 2010 10:39:06 GMT+1 Cathy That box that you have to tick saying you're over 16 to watch the video is still there... this is a mistake, right? Many kids would love this! Sun 11 Jul 2010 20:16:48 GMT+1 Barrie So this spacecraft is being built in Turin. Will they be building the payload shroud there, too?(This is probably what Jonathan was trying to avoid by using 'Torino') Sun 11 Jul 2010 16:00:53 GMT+1 Robert Lucien It will make a very nice change if these 'advanced technology' programs actually produce anything. Maybe something a bit different to the normal almost imperceptible rate of progress or the two steps forward three steps back that NASA has been doing so much of for so long (thinks of Aerospikes), (in orbit refueling has been on the design table for almost 60 years). Sun 11 Jul 2010 15:13:05 GMT+1 Terry Gush @Sacto JoeExactly. Thanks for the reference quoting the administrations position of "making a specific decision in 2015 on the development of a new heavy-lift rocket architecture" in regards to timing.Meantime, special interests want to legislate this forward to next year Bill Would Direct NASA to Begin Work on Heavy-lift Rocket Next Year and then there's a letter to the administration wanting immediate development U.S. House Members Call for 'Immediate Development' of Heavy-lift Rocket.Rushing into development now would prevent the administration from developing a type of COTS part II or extending the strategy of commercialisation to include Heavy Lifters, specifically shutting out the SpaceX Heavy Lifter. If the administration resists this pressure and sticks to it's time table (as cited by yourself) then they will much have better options. Thanks. Sun 11 Jul 2010 13:39:21 GMT+1 Sacto Joe @Terry,Regarding your post 11, just to clarify the Obama Administration's plans in regards to a new Heavy Lifter:From:"To demonstrate a concrete timetable and commitment for expanding human exploration further, the President is announcing that, in addition to investing in transformative heavy-lift technologies, he will commit to making a specific decision in 2015 on the development of a new heavy-lift rocket architecture. This new rocket would eventually lift future deep-space spacecraft to enable humans to expand our reach toward Mars and the rest of the Solar System. This new rocket would take advantage of the new technology investments proposed in the budget – primarily a $3.1 billion investment over five years on heavy-lift R&D. This propulsion R&D effort will include development of a U.S. first-stage hydrocarbon engine for potential use in future heavy lift (and other) launch systems, as well as basic research in areas such as new propellants, advanced propulsion materials manufacturing techniques, combustion processes, and engine health monitoring, all of which are expected to shorten the development time for any future heavy-lift rocket. The new rocket also will benefit from the budget’s proposed R&D on other breakthrough technologies in our new strategy for human exploration (such as in- space refueling), which should make possible a more cost-effective and optimized heavy lift capability as part of future exploration architectures. A decision in 2015 means that major work on building a new heavy lift rocket will likely begin two years sooner than under the troubled Constellation program." Sat 10 Jul 2010 16:01:08 GMT+1 Terry Gush @StephenGood call. Criticism of the newcomers SpaceX and OSC on grounds of a yet-to-be-demonstrated safety record has less to do with safety and more to do with local politics. Such criticisms originate from politicians and their allies in four Space Shuttle manufacturing states who are currently introducing legislation to rush through the development of a new Heavy Lifter programme thereby preserving about local 8,000 jobs. The disaster scenario for these politicians is that if the Heavy Lifter programme follows a more orderly timetable, these states will face competition from say the SpaceX Heavy Lifter thereby risking the retention of local jobs and complicating re-election efforts. A fight is bound to develop as the administration has no immediate plans or funds for a new civil Heavy Lifter.If the COTS programme continues to enjoy success, the SpaceX Heavy Lifter would certainly undermine any of the usual Boeing or Lockheed-Martin cost plus offerings which will be great for the US civil space programme in terms of cost savings and frequency of flights, but not so good for politics as usual. Fri 09 Jul 2010 20:18:47 GMT+1 Sacto Joe Stephen, I heartily concur with your post. I've recently started reading "Solar" by Ian McEwan, and there's a chapter where he's aboard a ship in the Artic, hundreds of miles from any other civilization. I think that's a good metaphor for our little planet; a tiny, fragile bubble of life in an unbelievably hostile universe.Anyway, back to the subject of this article: It struck me a few days back that the recent Deepwater Horizon tragedy might hold some good analogies for private industy's proposed larger role in space.First and foremost is the fact that, for all intents and purposes, 5,000 feet deep might just as well be on another planet. Yes, we've sent a few humans that far down in bathyscapes, but any effort we need to expend down there requires robots controlled by humans back on our "planet".Second, the reason we see companies like BP at the cutting edge of technology is that there's a major profit motive for them. So it must be for space, if private companies are to take a major role.Third, the profit motive isn't enough. It seems pretty well established that this blowout happened because of someone trying to meet a deadline and thus save money, coupled with regulations that had been subverted by those interested in maximizing profits. That can't be allowed to happen in space. Yes, we've had our share of lives lost, but in general it's been the case that government programs (at least in the U.S.) don't put saving money in front of safety.Just my two cent's worth.... Fri 09 Jul 2010 18:58:00 GMT+1 Stephen Ashworth Just to comment on post 3 by ghostofsichuan: there is a view that people who support space exploration are thereby advocating that humanity somehow abandons Earth, and are therefore by implication irresponsible environmental vandals. (This may not be what you meant in that post, but the connection of ideas is there.)I think this is a malicious distortion of the space view. The purpose of going into space is not to abandon Earth, to wreck it and move on to the next world. It is to vastly enrich Earth.Did the Europeans "abandon" Europe when they colonised the rest of the world in the 17th to 19th centuries? Of course not! They made Europe vastly more powerful, the hub of a global civilisation. Similarly, the purpose of colonising the Moon and Mars is to make Earth the metropolis of a multiglobal civilisation.Just look at what people who visit space actually say! Some of their remarks may be found in White, "The Overview Effect", published a few years ago. They are vastly impressed with the beauty and evident fragility of Earth in its true setting in the Solar System, and return with a greater appreciation of our need to take care of it. One way we can do that is of course by banishing polluting industries to space. Much mining of metals can be done on the Moon and asteroids, where there is no fragile biosphere to disrupt; if satellite solar power becomes practical, then the waste heat from conversion of sunlight to electric power is radiated back to space rather than dumped in the biosphere. Anything risky in connection with nanotech or biotech can be banished to laboratories on the Moon, where it cannot endanger Earth.But will we need to abandon Earth in the far future? As the Sun heats up and approaches its red giant phase, Earth can be protected for a while using a parasol at the Earth-Sun L1 point. Whether this will allow life on Earth to continue as normal all through the Sun's red giant phase depends on the society and capabilities of a billion years in the future, about which it is not very profitable to speculate. However, the key point is that in the normal run of things, Earth would be incinerated by the Sun, and the only ways to prevent this from happening, or to provide alternative locations where life can continue to flourish, are through the vigorous development of space technologies now. But to do this on any effective scale, in which people actually begin living in space, firstly six of them, then thousands, then millions and billions, depends on the economic development of space, which takes us back to (yes!) space tourism and manufacturing.Sorry, I seem to have gone on rather a lot.StephenOxford Fri 09 Jul 2010 17:30:44 GMT+1 Stephen Ashworth Jonathan, thanks. Building things efficiently seems to be a complex blend of in-house control and widespread division of labour, and I'm no expert on such management issues. I think I'm trying to make a point of policy, applicable to both Nasa and Esa: balance the traditional role of flying government-only missions with the equally necessary role of stimulating industry.I understand that the old NACA greatly helped civil aviation by developing technologies and offering research facilities that companies that were out there flying actually needed. If this had been put into practice we would now be seeing SpaceX building a flying machine using Space Shuttle heat-resistant tiles, reusable engines, airframe and so on, and Bigelow orbiting hotel modules based on those used for the ISS. Instead of which, it seems, Falcon has little technological heritage from Nasa. Its engines are newly designed. Its airframe resembles the Shuttle orbiter not a jot. And Bigelow's modules are based on a completely different principle from the ISS modules, i.e. are inflatable, which the ISS ones are not.On the other hand, maybe the Cygnus modules will have some heritage from ISS experience, as the manufacturer is the same one. But in general it seems that privately originated designs are having to start from the drawing-board, rather than getting a head start from what Nasa and Esa have already developed at considerable public expense.In Europe, I really do think that if Esa gets any public money to build a manned vehicle, it must start by talking to people like Virgin Galactic and Reaction Engines, and drawing up a roadmap for a joint public-private development path that ends up with a vehicle which can be economically viable.I know that lots of people who comment here are highly skeptical of the commercial markets for large-scale manned spaceflight (personal space exploration, aka space tourism, and commercial zero-g research and manufacturing). All I can say is that either someone with a bit of vision stands up and says, this is how it's going to be, or else our civilisation will never become a spacefaring one in any meaningful sense, and the opportunities for essentially infinite future growth will be lost.StephenOxford Fri 09 Jul 2010 17:11:09 GMT+1 Jonathan Amos @BobRocket. The space station was actually built in feet and inches, if I am not mistaken; and so interfaces will I guess be referenced in such terms. European manufacturers will, however, naturally want to talk in SI. But thanks for the conversions... and the large number of decimal places!@Keith. Rule 1 of this blog is we don't take ourselves too seriously, and we like to get into the spirit of things. On Wednesday, I went up on to the top of the Lingotto, scene of the Mini chase in the Italian Job, and shouted out a very famous Michael Caine phrase to do with doors and explosions.@Stephen. One has to ask if some of the rules and purpose of Esa are capable of delivering these changes. One of the reasons SpaceX says it can keep costs low is by doing more stuff in-house. If you operate a principle of "juste retour" and the idea that work be spread around Europe, you may put such economies beyond the reach of European industry. JJD was certainly tuned to the issue when he spoke to us (reporters) at the recent Berlin Air Show: "Esa is a fantastic organisation; I think that European industry is competitive, but this is certainly a good reason to have eyes wide open and to take lesson learned coming from other parts of the world. And Falcon 9 is a matter for reflection - the design, the type of industry. 80% of Falcon 9 is made in SpaceX which is not exactly what we are doing in Europe. We are distributing the activities among many more companies. Let us reflect on that and if there is something good to take [from it] - I shall take it, I can tell you." Fri 09 Jul 2010 16:14:34 GMT+1 BobRocket 'a thickness of just 3.2mm' 'the 37-inch hatch'Hasn't the mixing of measurement standards caused problems before ?3.2mm = 0.125984252 inches37 inches = 939.8 millimetresWhy doesn't the lead manufacturer specify a standard measurement unit and all others have to follow it so when contractor A says 'it must be diameter X tolerance Y' then all other contractors know what he means rather than the current system whereby he says it must be 3.2mm with a tolerance of 16 thousandths of an inch. Fri 09 Jul 2010 11:03:36 GMT+1 Keith Please correct the spelling of the city where this component is being built.If this was being built in Milan, you would not have written "Milano", I hope...K. Thu 08 Jul 2010 20:24:08 GMT+1 croaker re: Knowles2 Why 16 year old warning: Certainly you'd agree space rockets are phallic objects. Wouldn't want our youth getting any ideas or subliminal messaging now would we? Thu 08 Jul 2010 20:20:35 GMT+1 ghostofsichuan The fact that must be faced is that at some later point in time this planet will need to be abandoned, the solar system and maybe the galaxy too. Of course that is off in the future but so was this century to the first humans and here we are. Thu 08 Jul 2010 18:54:04 GMT+1 Stephen Ashworth I find it extraordinary that people can cast aspersions on the safety standards of the upcoming NewSpace companies. After two Shuttle disasters within 20 years, it seems grossly ignorant, arrogant and insensitive to use this as a point of criticism.Yes, commercial companies are under commercial pressures, just as government organisations are under political pressures. Surely the key point is that safety and affordability can only be improved as the volume of traffic increases and the technology matures. Commercial markets can drive forward this progress, because of the large scale of activity they promise. Government-only exploration in the cause of prestige, science and spinoff cannot. Therefore broadening activity to include more commercial markets is the only way to make progress.Good to see that SpaceX has a competitor in OSC.This increase in activity must lead to more private clients (personal and commercial) flying in space, and to a gradual long-term buildup in manned infrastructure in orbit. At present there are places for 6 people in orbit. How much accommodation will there be in 2020? in 2030? What, I wonder, are J.-J. Dordain's plans for stimulating an economically sustainable increase in personal flights to orbit? Have you asked him?!StephenOxford Thu 08 Jul 2010 17:01:13 GMT+1 knowles2 Can anyone explain to me why the video has a 16 years old age limit on it, it came up the first time I run the video.. Thu 08 Jul 2010 13:16:53 GMT+1