NASA craft may ride on Pentagon rockets

NASA craft may ride on Pentagon rockets

Summary: Obama will tear down walls between NASA and the Defense Dept, scrapping the Ares rocket in favor of Pentagon rocket power.

SHARE:
President-elect Obama seems intent on burning down the house of cards that is NASA, presumably to replace it with an agency that can actually design worthwhile missions without wholesale wasting of taxpayer dollars. First, we learned that the transition team has been circling around NASA's Constellation program.

Now, today I read that Obama is basically going to outsource a good bit of NASA engineering to the Defense Department. Bloomberg reports that Obama may force NASA to use DOD rockets, which will be cheaper and ready sooner than NASA's planned Ares (right), which isn't slated until 2015.

And this is all in the context of China's rapidly advancing space program, which definitely has Pentagon eyebrows raised.

China's military carried out a spacewalk in 2008, plans to land a robot on the moon in 2012 and a man on the moon thereafter. Meanwhile, the US will be hitching rides with Russia between 2010 when the shuttle is scrapped and 2015 (at the soonest) when Orion is to be launched.

It's no secret Obama's team wants to scrap NASA's Ares rocket. The Pentagon's Delta IV and Atlas V rockets are "basically developed," says John Logsdon of the National Air and Space Museum. "You don't have to build them from scratch."

Don't build from scratch? That is surely not the NASA way.

In any case, China's moon landing work has clear military implications.

“An automated rendezvous does all sorts of things for your missile accuracy and anti-satellite programs,” said John Sheldon, a visiting professor of advanced air and space studies at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. “The manned effort is about prestige, but it’s also a good way of testing technologies that have defense applications.” China’s investments in anti-satellite warfare and in “cyberwarfare,” ballistic missiles and other weaponry “could threaten the United States’ primary means to project its power and help its allies in the Pacific: bases, air and sea assets, and the networks that support them,” Defense Secretary Gates wrote in the current issue of Foreign Affairs magazine.

Topics: Emerging Tech, CXO, Enterprise Software, China

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

18 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I'm for anything that gets NASA producing more results for less $$ nt

    nt
    T1Oracle
  • RE: NASA craft may ride on Pentagon rockets

    I am sure there are not to many on your staff that remember when the military had the rocket programs. The Army was the first to get a rocket off the launch pad. The Vanguard. I think it got about 20 feet in the air before falling over on its side and explading. Are we sure we want the inter-branch fights over tax dollars to provide this service.

    Cav-Vet
    cav-vet
  • RE: NASA craft may ride on Pentagon rockets

    I am sure there are not to many on your staff that remember when the military had the rocket programs. The Army was the first to get a rocket off the launch pad. The Vanguard. I think it got about 20 feet in the air before falling over on its side and exploding. Are we sure we want the inter-branch fights over tax dollars to provide this service.

    Cav-Vet
    cav-vet
    • Pogo vs NASA

      A friend of mine was in the blockhouse when those pogo-sticks went off. The reason was the Army did not trust computers. Back then, the computer was the launch sequencer. An umbilical cable connected to the rocket connected to the sequencer. All the test conditions for launch were programmed into the sequencer. The last element of the sequencer is the release of the lockdowns. The bird then rises off the pad, and breaks the umbilical connection. The problem was, the Army shut off the sequencer before the umbilical disconnected. That shut down the bird as it had not switched to internal power.

      Let the Chinese go to the moon. We have three perfectly good Saturn V laying on their side at KSC, Stennis, and Houston. Sell them to the Chinese, outsource the software to India, and we keep the marketing rights. Slap a KFC logo on the side, and Sony can kick in for a few cameras.
      jackgrat
  • Obama and his stupid ideas

    Face it people, Obama is an incompetent idiot who has never had a full time job in his life ... and bigger idiots voted for him.

    People are too stupid to understand how real life works and inmediately give the incompetent a huge pop for making "inteligent ideas" that are TOTALLY STUPID.

    So, lets put a huge payload on top of a rocket that can't handle the weight. Sure that is a great idea. .... to an idiot.

    Or do you thing that a the weight of a military payload (ie: satellite) is in any way comparable to the weight of a manned spacecraft carrying 7 astronauts and supporting systems?

    Wow!! Obama is so clever ... so smart .... so ..... NOT!!!
    wackoae
    • Get over it McFailin

      The crew and cargo are launched separately with the Ares I and V rockets. Maybe the same could be done with the Delta or Atlas faster and for less money.

      Should we depend on the Russians between 2010 and 2015 to get to space?

      Maybe you'd rather have Palin running NASA, the brain she was, NOT!!!!
      GoPower
      • Do you actually have a clue??

        You are the typical idiot who ate Obama's turd during the campaign.

        Simple facts like WEIGHT CONSTRAINTS / LIMITS are too difficult to comprehend and don't even have the smart to educate yourself ... even when the information is only a click away.

        Just to educate you a little, did you know that a 3 crew spacecraft (no cargo) is about 10 times heavier than your heaviest satellite (ie: max weight limit of the Titan or Delta rocket) in space?? ..... Don't answer, we already know.
        wackoae
    • Wrong about lift capacity of Air Force rockets

      The Delta IV heavy is three 17 foot diameter rockets strapped
      together to carry heavy payloads to orbit. The payloads are
      way heavier than the weight of a few people. It could launch
      a cement truck filled with cement into orbit. It's actually a
      brilliant idea to use the Air Force rockets. It gets us a
      replacement vehicle for the Shuttle sooner and cheaper. It
      also increases the production rate of the Air Force rockets
      which has been in very low production lately.
      I didn't vote for Obama, but this is a good idea from him.
      mattcolver
      • Lift capacity vs payload

        Okay, wikipedia's not necessarily the best reference, but a quick look indicates the following:

        Orion Crew Module: 8.5 metric tons
        Orion Service Module: 3.7 metric tons
        Orion Service Module fuel: 8.3 tons
        =======================================
        Total (ignoring other contributions): 20.5 metric tons

        Delta IV heavy capacity to escape orbit: 9.3 metric tons
        Delta IV heavy capacity to GTO: 13.1 metric tons
        Delta IV heavy capacity to GEO: 6.3 metric tons
        Delta IV heavy capacity to LEO: 26+ metric tons (assumed higher than listings for Delta IV medium)

        All told, the Delta IV heavy doesn't seem to fit the bill for sending a crew module + a service module + fuel much beyond LEO. It can't even boost the empty crew module to GEO directly and has barely the capacity to boost the crew and service modules to GTO, even nearly empty of fuel.

        I suppose the Delta IV heavy could send the assembled Orion system to the ISS in LEO, but without more oomph than the current Delta IV heavy, nobody's going to the moon in the Orion. Thus, the Delta IV heavy might provide an interim replacement for the Ares I, but not for the proposed Ares V (trans-lunar injection vehicle). It's also unclear to me whether or not the knowledge gained by the development of the Ares I would be applicable to the Ares V, and if that knowledge would be available from simply using the existing Delta IV vehicles.

        There's some additional info about the connection between Ares I & Ares V here:
        http://event.arc.nasa.gov/aresv/ppt/Saturday/2Sumrall/2Sumrall.pdf
        chucklesnola
  • LOL

    If this had been Bush, you'd be screaming about the militarization
    of space. Some things are so predictable.
    frgough
  • RE: NASA craft may ride on Pentagon rockets

    The Atlas and Delta rockets that you talk about are already flying and are operated by ULA. To carry NASA astronuats, NASA would want NASA human rating of the either Atlas or Delta. Human rating might include a health monitoring system and a way to get the astronuants away from the launch vicheal if there is a problem. Bigelow Airospace is also looking to use an Atlas to send people to its space station. There is also another group called Direct (DirectLauncher.com), that is looking for change from the Ares rockets to a rocket that uses more of the shuttle infrastructure and would possible be safer and cost less.

    What this article does not show how is the cost and safety numbers of Ares I or EELV's.
    hip2bsqre
    • Correction

      An Atlas (named) rocket hasn't flown for more than 5 years. Also a man-rated rocket hasn't flown since the Apollo 17 fight. All other are smaller vehicles that borrow the name since they were built at the same location.

      The only two (US) rockets in manufacturing right now are the Delta and Titan. I don't count the Falcon (from SpaceX) because so far they haven't had a single successful fight. The closest and the only one that didn't blow up didn't put the cargo in the right orbit, so that is also considered a failure.
      wackoae
      • Atlas V has been flying since 2002

        You're totally misinformed. The titan has been replaced by
        the EELV. The EELV consists of the family of launch
        vehicles which includes the Atlas V. It also uses the Delta
        IV heavy for heavy payloads and the Delta II for small
        payloads. The Delta II is about to launch it's last satellite
        for the AirForce and may be discontinued. low level
        production is planned. however the Atlas V is alive and
        well. Just google Atlas V and you will find a lot of info. It
        would work well as a launcher for astronauts.
        mattcolver
  • RE: NASA craft may ride on Pentagon rockets

    As I recall, one of WhamBama's Transition Team lackies got put in his place when he tried to tell the Administrator how to run NASA. This sounds an awful lot like the "tit".

    Since before NASA was formed in 1958, ol' USAF has been trying to have it's own way in space. They would say just about anything, regardless of how far-fetched, to get their way.

    Did you notice all the "may's, might's, and "could's" in the discussions?

    NASA need's a heap of fixin', but outsourcing to USAF and DOD ain't it.
    atwalters
  • RE: NASA craft may ride on Pentagon rockets

    The last paragraph is a clear indication its just another military industrial complex, throwing out moon landing's "military implications" is about far fetched as you can get, and yet it does a very good job of pressuring those who's response to anything is to use a gun. Ares I is only half of Constellation program if not just 1/4, the massive Ares V is what NASA is spending the most on developing, and it's essentially a huge, expanded version of Ares I. Ares I is going to be a test bed for technology needed to successfully launch Ares V, without of which, sure, the military rockets might come sooner, but I guarantee you it will be 1969 all over again, because without or with a much delayed Ares V, all you can do is plant another flag on the moon.

    As Griffin said, the Obama team lacks engineering expertise to make any assessment, looks like Obama is going to destroy NASA's entire lunar plan with his "change". China must be laughing their asses off right now.
    iewgnem@...
  • NASA should have had a new space ship years ago

    NASA doesn't seem to care how it is run. If Obama can make it run better go for it.

    They have dragged there feet on making a new space ship. I am surprise they made it to Mars the way thry are run.
    Randalllind
  • RE: NASA craft may ride on Pentagon rockets

    i think if they had worked with me in the late 1970s We would already have a base on mars the size of new york city the tracker i put up there took 4 hours to get there from earth and 8 months for your NASA buddies blow up 1 to build the custom rocket and 7 just to reach the pinging tracker they did not want to use a engine designed by a 17year old high school student. They said they have more advanced rockets now they don't need my star track engine think about it 7months at 24to27thousand miles per hour VS 4hours at a few million miles per hour. That was the third engine of its type the second passed Pluto in 3days the first my dad wrecked through a building causing engines destruction
    skunkape49
  • RE: NASA craft may ride on Pentagon rockets

    i think if they had worked with me in the late 1970s We would already have a base on mars the size of new york city the tracker i put up there took 4 hours to get there from earth and 8 months for your NASA buddies blow up 1 to build the custom rocket and 7 just to reach the pinging tracker they did not want to use a engine designed by a 17year old high school student. They said they have more advanced rockets now they don't need my star track engine think about it 7months at 24to27thousand miles per hour VS 4hours at a few million miles per hour. That was the third engine of its type the second passed Pluto in 3days the first my dad wrecked through a building causing engines destruction. Funny the first engine was built by my dads friend because my dad wanted to show me it would never work but it worked better that i had expected and were much stronger than rockets with out the flames and heat
    skunkape49