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NASA's financial woes. Perhaps they don't need 500 PhD's to do the job?

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#1 RichA

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Posted 15 April 2024 - 08:30 PM

$11B to return rock samples from Mars.  NASA's budget is by comparison, 1/10 of what it was in the 1960s in relation to the GDP, yet they are still fantasizing about manned missions to Mars which could easily run $1T.  Unless there is a massive infusion of monies, it's not going to happen.  So, if Congress and the Oval Office are Hell-bent on spending on other things, (unfortunately, funding NASA doesn't buy many votes) the only solution is to cheapen the process. 

 

https://www.bbc.com/...onment-68819153

 

 

 



#2 Jethro7

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Posted 15 April 2024 - 08:57 PM

Hello RichA,

NASA has performed so many great endeavours to the point that some of these feats are mind boggling. However this is unfortunate that a good bit of NASA's resources and mission direction are now retasked for other than space exploration. Perhaps there may be a silver lining for future space exploration, that may better off with private enterprise. Private enterprise has a tendency to be far more innovative and resourceful than Goverment entities. 

 

HAPPY SKIES AND KEEP LOOKING UP Jethro


Edited by Jethro7, 15 April 2024 - 09:02 PM.

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#3 moefuzz

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Posted 15 April 2024 - 11:59 PM

In the later years of NASA flown manned space flight there was a tendency to create more red tape then actually fly manned missions using NASA craft.

Private industry has been a blessing.
 


Edited by moefuzz, 16 April 2024 - 03:50 AM.

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#4 Skywatchr

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Posted 16 April 2024 - 03:28 AM

In the later years of NASA flown manned space flight there was a tendency to create more read tape then actually fly manned missions using NASA craft.

Private industry has been a blessing.
 

This is so true.  Millions are wasted in the (mainly political) red tape.  Plus there came a time with the mentality of "OMG, someone could get hurt" crap. Space is inherently a very risky endeavor. People volunteer to be on the leading edge of life knowing there is always a chance they may never return.

Space is hard, very hard no matter what.  And is also why there are necessarily so many PHDs.  You gotta know your stuff.

Private space companies are the way forward.  They must pay attention to the money and plan for it, where the gummint willy-nilly has wasted it over the decades, over the ever shifting winds of politics.  Not to mention nixing plans for Moon and Mars missions in the 1970s.

SpaceX, ULA, and other private launch companies have come a long way virtually unrestricted by politics.  Both China and Japan are quickly coming close to being leaders in Space, and Russia is running almost neck and neck.  India is sneaking up too.

The West better wake up.  They've wasted too much on LEO and NEO projects that, for the most part, have been nothing but a waste with very little fruits of their labor..  They've been frying their eggs, instead of hatching them. lol.gif 


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#5 HouseBuilder328

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Posted 16 April 2024 - 10:16 AM

And the samples wouldn't be returned until 2040?   C'mon, we can do better than that!

 

https://www.space.co...ple-return-plan


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#6 Skywatchr

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Posted 16 April 2024 - 12:01 PM

And the samples wouldn't be returned until 2040?   C'mon, we can do better than that!

 

https://www.space.co...ple-return-plan

Mars' orbit has a everything to do with the timeline. Common sense says the farther away, the longer the trip. grin.gif


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#7 Bubbagumps

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Posted 16 April 2024 - 03:59 PM

Before spending $11B, I would ask what we hope to gain by returning samples from Mars.  We already have a basic understanding of soil composition via direct analysis using onboard Rover instrumentation.  Even though NASA is pushing for a sample-return mission with the idea that a more detailed analysis would prove beneficial, I am skeptical that returning a sample will prove of great benefit in the sense that it ends up telling us a lot more that we don't already know or cannot infer.

 

Obviously, it would be nice to actually have soil and rocks to analyze here on Earth. But I do not see high potential for a more detailed analysis to reveal anything groundbreaking.  I think we should reserve such funding for projects that have the potential to shed light on relative unknowns. 


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#8 jesse 3

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Posted 16 April 2024 - 05:11 PM

NASA's 2021 Perseverance rover is on one way mission to collect soil samples. Return to Earth was to be budgeted later. The main goal is to detect past existence of life. There was no adequate tool available to analyze soil on Mars. They made this boring mission interesting with helicopter shows

Edited by jesse 3, 16 April 2024 - 05:12 PM.

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#9 Skywatchr

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Posted 16 April 2024 - 08:29 PM

Before spending $11B, I would ask what we hope to gain by returning samples from Mars.  We already have a basic understanding of soil composition via direct analysis using onboard Rover instrumentation.  Even though NASA is pushing for a sample-return mission with the idea that a more detailed analysis would prove beneficial, I am skeptical that returning a sample will prove of great benefit in the sense that it ends up telling us a lot more that we don't already know or cannot infer.

 

Obviously, it would be nice to actually have soil and rocks to analyze here on Earth. But I do not see high potential for a more detailed analysis to reveal anything groundbreaking.  I think we should reserve such funding for projects that have the potential to shed light on relative unknowns. 

We have much better analytical tools here in labs on Earth to better analyze the samples.  Plus basically unlimited power to run the labs in better controlled environments.  The rovers have limited power.  And limited service life.

Costs have risen every year, and will continue to rise.  That's just a fact of life.


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#10 Bubbagumps

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 11:50 AM

We have much better analytical tools here in labs on Earth to better analyze the samples.  Plus basically unlimited power to run the labs in better controlled environments.  The rovers have limited power.  And limited service life.

Costs have risen every year, and will continue to rise.  That's just a fact of life.

 It's a given that Earth-based labs will be more capable of producing a more detailed analysis of samples. But given the huge outlay of capital the mission will require, there will be certain expectations in terms of returns.

 

What do you hope that the more refined data going to tell us and what types of questions will it answer ?  A proposal needs to be very specific in that regards when asking for this kind of money. Any team will need to convince the committee that approves the funding that the ends justify the cost.  

 

The average planetary probe mission costs a little over $1B. The Average mars lander mission costs a little over $2B. 

 

When requesting $11B for a sample-return mission, there are going to be two expectations -  1) Failure is not an option. You better get the samples back to Earth and 2) the data better offer up groundbreaking information we already don't know or can't infer.  In other words, if we hand you $11B, we expect something much more than just telling us that the substrate contains 11% silicon instead of 11.7% .



#11 Skywatchr

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 03:46 PM

 It's a given that Earth-based labs will be more capable of producing a more detailed analysis of samples. But given the huge outlay of capital the mission will require, there will be certain expectations in terms of returns.

 

What do you hope that the more refined data going to tell us and what types of questions will it answer ?  A proposal needs to be very specific in that regards when asking for this kind of money. Any team will need to convince the committee that approves the funding that the ends justify the cost.  

 

The average planetary probe mission costs a little over $1B. The Average mars lander mission costs a little over $2B. 

 

When requesting $11B for a sample-return mission, there are going to be two expectations -  1) Failure is not an option. You better get the samples back to Earth and 2) the data better offer up groundbreaking information we already don't know or can't infer.  In other words, if we hand you $11B, we expect something much more than just telling us that the substrate contains 11% silicon instead of 11.7% .

Your expectations really carry no weight.  They are yours, not theirs or anyone else's.  You act as though there are guarantees, which there never were any, and never will be.

Sure, I want there to be "groundbreaking" discoveries, but I do not set my expectations that high only to be disappointed with any "mediocre" discoveries.  As long as it adds to our knowledge, I will be happy.


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#12 Bubbagumps

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 04:03 PM

There is no unanimity. There are plenty of Geologists who are questioning whether money is better spent on more landers that can explore the geology in different regions. A lander mission is $2.3 B a pop as opposed to $11B on a single mission to return samples. We potentially stand to learn more by building four more landers with the money and sending them to unexplored regions than we do by returning samples from one region, of which we already have spectrographic data about composition.

 

The reality is, unless someone provides a very convincing argument and analysis that concludes that analyzing samples back on Earth is very likely to uncover something totally groundbreaking beyond a refinement of measurement, it's going to be a hard sell with the people who approve the funding, not those of us discussing the issue. 

 

And if that lander crashes or doesn't make it back, Oy Vey. It will be a long time before another Mars mission of any kind is funded.  It's a huge step and comes with substantial risk to Martian exploration if the mission fails. I would vote to spend the money on more landers but that's just my take. 



#13 PXR-5

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 04:04 PM

Can you imagine how much it would cost to return humans from Mars?!

#14 Bubbagumps

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 04:22 PM

Can you imagine how much it would cost to return humans from Mars?!

Estimates are all over the board at this time.

 

NASA's 2016 estimate was half a trillion US dollars. It will likely cost a lot more than that when it's all said and done.

 

https://ntrs.nasa.go...20200000973.pdf

 

The most hopefully optimistic say it could be done with $100B. The most pessimistic say 2 trillion.

 

Many in Congress are already complaining about the steep cost of the Artemis program. Mars isn't happening in our lifetime. 

 

Space Exploration has always been limited by funding, not desire. Like the movie says, funding makes this bird go up. You have to make the wisest use of the funds you are given and these funds are limited and NASA's budget is likely to be cut.  NASA is very budget-constrained at the moment and Artemis is going to eat up a large chunk over the coming years.  Why I think spending $11B on a sample return is not the wisest use of funds for Martian exploration. You are only going to be allocated so much and funding is likely to be cut in the years ahead as Artemis becomes front-and-center. 


Edited by Bubbagumps, 17 April 2024 - 04:33 PM.

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#15 NinePlanets

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 05:12 PM

I suspect (hope) that the efforts of SpaceX and other pioneers who are pushing through new technology envelopes will make a whole new paradigm in the manned space travel arena in the next two decades. It will not surprise me very much if a manned mission to the Red Planet occurs long before the red tape of the Congressional/NASA Sample Return mission is completed.

 

$11B is a scary large number for a single mission. I would much rather see that money spread around to bolster actual, productive, commercial pioneers who are furthering the frontiers of space travel engineering.


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#16 Bubbagumps

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 07:25 PM

I suspect (hope) that the efforts of SpaceX and other pioneers who are pushing through new technology envelopes will make a whole new paradigm in the manned space travel arena in the next two decades. It will not surprise me very much if a manned mission to the Red Planet occurs long before the red tape of the Congressional/NASA Sample Return mission is completed.

 

$11B is a scary large number for a single mission. I would much rather see that money spread around to bolster actual, productive, commercial pioneers who are furthering the frontiers of space travel engineering.

The commercial use of space will likely drive growth and advancement faster than the public sector can. There are private entities already eyeing the potential profits that can be had from mining Asteroids.

 

If the first mission or two proves to be a success and precious metals are actually returned, there will be something akin to a Gold Rush in space and a lot of new startups will be looking to get in on the action. The lessons learned and the technology developed from such missions will advance future missions, both manned and unmanned. These types of missions are contingent on a successful return so there will definitely be lessons learned.

 

https://www.forbes.c...sh=1f1c915e674a

 

No doubt, NASA is going to slowly lose funding over time as missions are outsourced in the public sector. We already have seen this to an extent with the startups like SpaceX. It will be like any product or service. With time, the prices for missions will come down as competition increases and more players get in on the bidding. 


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#17 moefuzz

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Posted 24 April 2024 - 09:23 AM

$11B to return rock samples from Mars.  NASA's budget is by comparison, 1/10 of what it was in the 1960s in relation to the GDP, yet they are still fantasizing about manned missions to Mars which could easily run $1T.  Unless there is a massive infusion of monies, it's not going to happen.  So, if Congress and the Oval Office are Hell-bent on spending on other things, (unfortunately, funding NASA doesn't buy many votes) the only solution is to cheapen the process. 

 

https://www.bbc.com/...onment-68819153

If we were to put NASA into perspective, it's a 66 year old agency that is still babysitting many of it's 60+ years of projects.

This is the problem with continually launching new Sun, space, planetary probes, Manned missions and remote robotic planetary rovers.

Over and above being hugely expensive, most of the projects are both years in the making and years in the follow up mission to gather data.

 

Over the last 60 years NASA has had to spread themselves thinner in order to babysit all these long term missions of which, they keep launching.

 

At what point is NASA going to be forced to say "We've currently got enough on the go to keep us busy for decades so for the next ten years we aren't starting any new missions"

 

This could be sooner than later.


Edited by moefuzz, 24 April 2024 - 09:26 AM.



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