9.05.2008

What 60 Minutes Missed: NASA is Lying to Congress, the President and the American Taxpayer

NASA is making choices in their Moon Project that ensures the project's failure. And they're doing it deliberately. NASA says it is interested in exploration. But science is a fundamental part of space exploration, and for NASA, science is not a priority. If the purpose of NASA is not future industrialization and scientifically-based exploration, what is it?

Building Hardware

Hardware is NASA's priority. Hardware without a real goal is just really expensive toys. NASA is essentially playing with multi-billion dollar rockets. Kennedy's dream of the United States as a Space Power has been abused by immature, short-sighted bureaucratic hardware junkies for far too long. If the goal of NASA is not cities in space, or access to the limitless energy available in space, or protection from extinction caused by asteroids and comets, then there should not be a NASA.

NASA never had any intention of doing anything beyond the bare minimum of meeting Kennedy's mandate "To land a man on the Moon before the decade is out and return him to the Earth" - except to make sure they brought home at least one rock. Kennedy would have been livid to know that NASA sacrificed the Saturn 5 Moon rocket for the space shuttle that couldn't even get out of Earth's orbit.

And the Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters that are being recycled into this Moon rocket are the same ones that blew up the Challenger. They are the most risky and volatile parts of the rocket. (1)

NASA's ostensible goal is to open space for everyone. NASA only wants to send astronauts so they can get money without having to produce any real results. (2)

Building a City

A city on the Moon cannot be built with four people. And that is all that NASA intends to send up there. (3)

NASA plans to protect the Moon city from radiation and micrometeors by burying them essentially in dirt, called regolith. Regolith is highly abrasive and destroys equipment. For power there are the solar cells, which is NASA's current plan, will be sandblasted by dust from the landing space craft unless it is at least two kilometers away. (4)

The practical upshot of that plan is that all materials used to build the Moon city must not only be shipped up on a space craft, it must be carried by hand over two kilometers by four astronauts, unless of course you put the Solar Arrays 2 km for the base and the landing area which would make there assembly and maintaince difficult. How big do you think that city will be given the constraints that NASA has already built into their plans? NASA never seriously intends to follow its legal mandate, and it is building the defeat of the project into its plan.

Building Breathable Air

Astronauts need to pre-breathe for hours before putting on space suits and going to the Moon's surface. They need to get all the nitrogen out of the blood before going on the Moon's surface to prevent the bends, similar to the precautions deep sea dives have to take before surfacing.

Currently, NASA uses the atmospheric pressure of sea level. By setting the atmospheric pressure to that of, say, Denver, about $10,000,000.00 would be saved over the life of the project. Shipping costs of nitrogen to the Moon would be reduced by one third because NSA would be replicating the atmosphere of Denver and not the sea shore.

Changing this simple formula would reduce stress on the space capsules and any lunar bases and allow larger ones to be built. The astronauts would have more productivity and reduce pre-breathing times by a third.

If NASA starts with a certain air pressure, future generations may be stuck with that decision for years for the same reason we have the same width road that the Romans had two thousand years ago. The long-term cost of this choice is actually in the quadrillions of dollars. That's if these choices don't preclude the success of the NASA Moon project altogether.

People will point to the Apollo I fire as reason for the decisions NASA has made. Apollo I used pure oxygen, undiluted with nitrogen, at higher atmospheric pressure. That's five times the oxygen content on Earth, and much higher than the oxygen content of a medical oxygen tent. NASA has never actually tested where the fire danger is.

Building a Rocket

If you don't know what you want to take to the Moon, you don't know the diameter of the rocket. The diameter of the rocket is the hardest thing to change - and the most expensive, since it requires reworking the entire assembly line and re-engineering the entire rocket. The width of the rocket largerly determines how much the rocket will weigh and how much lift will be required. (5)

The width of the rocket and its lift capacity is based on what NASA is planning on shipping to the Moon. NASA does not know what it is shipping yet. But they've already started building the rocket.

Building a Scam

NASA has been scamming the American people long enough. Billions of dollars are thrown at NASA to accomplish the goals of this nation and NASA has no intention of fulfilling its mandate. Instead, there are half-hearted plans, billions to defense contractors, and planned failures for Moon-related goals.

NASA needs to be held to account for the money it receives and the results it produces. While an appreciative nation throws money at NASA for accomplishments of the past, the United States is losing the space edge quickly. The next article will discuss what those costs really are. (6)


FOOTNOTES

(1) Solid rocket Boosters are basically extremely large bottle rockets. Once they are lit they are very difficult to control.
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/constellation/ares/aresV/index.html
"For its initial insertion into Earth orbit, the Ares V first stage relies on two five-and-a-half-segment reusable solid rocket boosters. These are derived from the space shuttle solid rocket boosters and are similar to the single booster that serves as the first stage for the cargo vehicle's sister craft, the Ares I crew launch vehicle."

Challenger STS-51L - http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/archives/sts-51L.html
"The cause of explosion was determined to be an o-ring failure in the right solid rocket booster. Cold weather was determined to be a contributing factor."

NASA backs troubled rocket design
• 16 August 2008
• NewScientist.com news service
http://space.newscientist.com/article/mg19926693.300-nasa-backs-troubled-rocket-design.html?feedId=online-news_rss20

(2) The Space Settlement Act of 1988
http://books.google.com/books?id=X7qngT73MTMC&pg=PA241&lpg=PA241&dq=%22Space+Settlement+Act+of+1988%22&source=web&ots=ox8zyriWpU&sig=fMgvIffQm9szoh1F5x9n5cXHq5s&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=8&ct=result

" The Congress declares that the extension of human life beyond Earth's Atmosphere for the Purposes of advancing science, exploration and development will enhance the general welfare on Earth amd that such extension will eventually lead to the establishment of space settlements for the fullfilment of those purposes." Submitted by the late Republican George E. Brown Jr. and was written by his Aids for Space Policy Steven M. Wolfe.

NASA Charter
The National Aeronautics and Space Act

Pub. L. No. 85-568
72 Stat. 426 (Jul. 29, 1958)
As Amended

(d) The aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to one or more of the following objectives:
(1) The expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;
(2) The improvement of the usefulness, performance, speed, safety, and efficiency of aeronautical and space vehicles;
(3) The development and operation of vehicles capable of carrying instruments, equipment, supplies, and living organisms through space;
(4) The establishment of long-range studies of the potential benefits to be gained from, the opportunities for, and the problems involved in the utilization of aeronautical and space activities for peaceful and scientific purposes;
(5) The preservation of the role of the United States as a leader in aeronautical and space science and technology and in the application thereof to the conduct of peaceful activities within and outside the atmosphere;
(6) The making available to agencies directly concerned with national defense of discoveries that have military value or significance, and the furnishing by such agencies, to the civilian agency established to direct and control nonmilitary aeronautical and space activities, of information as to discoveries which have value or significance to that agency;
(7) Cooperation by the United States with other nations and groups of nations in work done pursuant to this Act and in the peaceful application of the results thereof;
(8) The most effective utilization of the scientific and engineering resources of the United States, with close cooperation among all interested agencies of the United States in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort, facilities, and equipment; and
(9) The preservation of the United States preeminent position in aeronautics and space through research and technology development related to associated manufacturing processes.
(3) (See http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/constellaion/altair/index.html and http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/constellation/news/ESAS_report.html and http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/constellation/orion/index.html) A city on the Moon needs protections from micrometeors and radiation, a way to control dust because it gets into everything and destroys it, and power.
(4) (http://www.nss.org/settlement/moon/library/lunar2.htm
The Second Conference on Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century
Edited by W. W. Mendell. NASA Conferences Publication 3166, Volume 1 (Parts 1-4) & Volume 2 (Parts 5-8), 1992, 706 pages.
Lunar Base Launch and Landing Facilities Conceptual Design pp 139 -151
P 142 "At 2 kin, the aluminum surface will sustain virtually unnoticeable
damage. Reflective surfaces will degrade after numerous
landings and should be protected. Glass surfaces will sustain about
O. 1% surface pitting.
This will be unnoticeable in vision glasses after a single event but may show up as a haze after several landings. Optical-quality Glasses should certainly be protected.")

First the diameter of the rocket has to be built on a single machine so it is hard to change. The Saturn 5 was 10 meters in diameter. Second the diameter of the and the length detrimine the size of the rocket and the size determines the weight. The weight determines how many engines are needed. This is complicated by things like the weight of the engines and the weight of the fuel its self. But the area enclosed is the square of the radius ( half the diameter) time pi. So , the radius greatly affect the area. This number is multiply by the length to detrimine the volume. The volume determines the mass. Third is the aerodynmics. Even if the construction and the mass are not issues there is the aerodynmics, which have to be entirely recaluated when the diameter changes. These are issue with smaller rockets but they are huge with moon rockets since they are so big and the risks are so high.

(6) the dust, dirt and regolith are basically all the same thing


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1 comment:

ScooterAK022 said...

I think the pessimistic and accusatory nature of this post is uncalled for, but your criticism of NASA's current plans for the moon are solid and well-cited. National programs for manned space flight have always been underfunded and too short-sighted.