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Tuckerfan
02-24-2005, 11:35 PM
Well, they'd like to hear it. (http://www.niac.usra.edu/index.html)
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">NIAC seeks proposals for revolutionary aeronautics and space concepts that could dramatically impact how NASA develops and conducts its missions. It provides a highly visible, recognizable, and high-level entry point for outside thinkers and researchers. NIAC encourages proposers to think decades into the future in pursuit of concepts that will "leapfrog" the evolution of current aerospace systems. While NIAC seeks advance concept proposals that stretch the imagination, these concepts should be based on sound scientific principles and attainable within a 10 to 40-year time frame. </font>If you're a college student, and they use your idea, they'll pay you $9K (that'll buy a lot a beer!) for it. (http://www.niac.usra.edu/students/call.html)
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">NIAC seeks to identify creative and innovative students who possess an extraordinary potential for developing advanced concepts in the fields of aeronautics, space and the sciences. Each Student Fellow will receive a total of $9,000 for the Academic year 2005-2006. NIAC intends for these awards to benefit talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their academic pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. We seek exceptional creativity, and the promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.</font>

Dr. Rob
02-25-2005, 12:16 AM
Is that really entirely new? Seem to recall that they had some similar program in the '50's... Dept of Defense though, not NASA. Wasn't that part of the Hedy Lemarr story?

3 Phase Lightbulb
02-25-2005, 12:39 AM
I've got an idea for NASA.......

STOP WASTING OUR MONEY....

Private Industry can do much more for less. I think the SpaceShipOne team has NASA engineers looking very silly.

-3Ph

Tuckerfan
02-25-2005, 12:59 AM
Well, you'll be happy to know, 3 Phase Lightbulb that NASA's hired Rutan & Co. to design their next generation space craft. You can read about it here: http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=14933

pete913
02-25-2005, 07:39 AM
I've got a message for NASA too. Either start making a profit, ( which was their promise with the space shuttle years ago ), or maybe the message needs to be sent to congress, either make it make money , or let them find some resources besides the taxpayers. It'll never happen though, its just another jobs program, like the military's become, and no matter how much waste and incompetance are involved, you can't touch the funding for it. I think the US govt would be a hell of a lot better off funding Rutan directly and leaving NASA and its out of control bureaucracy out of the loop. I watched a NASA spokesperson on C SPAN once , when the programs funding for research on the space station was questioned answer to this effect, and with a straight face I might add. " Well you know, we won't always be able to live on this planet". Makes ya wonder what planet some of these people are living on right now.

[This message has been edited by pete913 (edited 02-25-2005).]

debequem
02-25-2005, 03:26 PM
I believe blanket statements calling for NASA to stop wasting our money or to expect private enterprise to be a white knight for technology shows a myopic view of the situation.

I work in the private enterprise aerospace industry and I can assure you that there is much more going on within NASA than meets the bar-room eye.

While I prefer private industry to drive the technology and financial wheels of the world, private industry has little reason to make the investments that NASA does. Let me cite some examples. Much of the technology investment and its subsequent development by NASA results in spin-off technologies that are not tightly related to the initial project goals. However, many are a technological bridge to allow for new material technologies to be grown from. A typical private enterprise is too focused to make these kinds of research investments to get to a specific end result that requires technologies that are too expensive to develop on their own. Such inventions in the industry are reaped by all industries and that includes the machining industry!

Additionally, many long range development projects are far outside the normal timeline for private enterprise. Few private companies are investing in 15, 20, or 50 year long research efforts because their dollars are better spent on short-term investments. However, if long term investments are not made, the technology will not advance as quickly as it might otherwise. Those programs are a win-win for the rest of the world.

Think of all of the medical wonders we have today and many of those are due directly to programs funded by NASA. How many people owe their lives or quality of living to such rudimentary developments such as pacemakers and implantable deliberators all made possible by NASA? That number is staggering.

While Rutan’s work is nothing to sneeze at, remember NASA accomplished the same thing 40 years ago using far more primitive technology, while inventing the science and knowledge base we take for granted today. Burt essentially rode on the back of NASA to get where he got (Space Ship One and all of his aircraft designs included). Again, not a bad accomplishment, but getting 62 miles above the Earth’s surface is child’s play compared to obtaining orbit, let alone getting to the Moon and back.

While NASA is a large organization, most of its work is subcontracted out to small and large private industry. Our company has a viable state in the business of NASA and NASA helps keep many of our employees fed and productive. NASA helps us generate new intellectual property, which translates to profit and growth (new hires). My personal friend had a two-man machine shop that supplied Get-Away Special projects for the Shuttle experiments in the ‘80’s. People moan about innovation and production going off-shore, but the cutting-edge technologies are developed here in the USA under the umbrella of NASA.

I have heard many of you cry how America is loosing its stronghold on manufacturing and machining, but my private business/shop’s prospects are looking better and better each day. One day it may eclipse my day job. My neighbor is seeing the same thing with his shop and has more than tripled capacity to handle new work. Both of us owe this to aerospace in particular and NASA in general.

Without NASA the US would be much more a hamburger and fries service industry than it is today. While no Government run program is going to be 100% efficient, blanket statements about the net value of NASA have little substance when there is no corresponding argument to back it up. Most people are clueless about the big picture and how NASA has changed all of our lives for the better in ways unimaginable. No other state run program begins to yield that kind of return on investment.

That footprint in the lunar soil is far less symbolic of the effort to make that physical imprint than it is a deeper symbol of the technical revolution for humanity we enjoy today.

Marv

BillH
02-25-2005, 03:56 PM
Yeh, I got an idea for Nasa, privatise it(destroy the beurocracy), dont regulate what Rutan did, and keep the hubble going.

Forrest Addy
02-25-2005, 04:07 PM
Your points are superbly stated, Debequem. I'm not in full agreement with a few of your statements but your logic and your support for it are fair and reasonably stated and free from peurile political overstatements too often expressed here.

Your arguement, content, and reasonableness of expression should be a model for us all.

3 Phase Lightbulb
02-25-2005, 04:36 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by debequem:
I believe blanket statements calling for NASA to stop wasting our money or to expect private enterprise to be a white knight for technology shows a myopic view of the situation.

I work in the private enterprise aerospace industry and I can assure you that there is much more going on within NASA than meets the bar-room eye.
</font>

What bar do you work at? http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif


<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by debequem:
While I prefer private industry to drive the technology and financial wheels of the world, private industry has little reason to make the investments that NASA does. </font>

Exactly, lets stop giving our damn money to NASA, and give it to the private industry directly.. NASA invests OUR money, so I wouldn't call it "Their investments".. I'd rather invest in company stock than waste it on NASA..



<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by debequem:
Let me cite some examples. Much of the technology investment and its subsequent development by NASA results in spin-off technologies that are not tightly related to the initial project goals.</font>

This happens everywhere.. More so in the real-world than at NASA.. It even happen too often with my own projects.. I start project A, end up with projects B,C,D,E,F, and 3CP0.


<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by debequem:
However, many are a technological bridge to allow for new material technologies to be grown from. A typical private enterprise is too focused to make these kinds of research investments to get to a specific end result that requires technologies that are too expensive to develop on their own.
</font>

Yup, this is the same argument again.. NASA invests using our money, but it's hard for private industry to invest without our money...


<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by debequem:
Such inventions in the industry are reaped by all industries and that includes the machining industry!</font>

I guess the Solaris Operating system I've been working on for the last X number of years hasn't been reaped by any industries?



<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by debequem:

Additionally, many long range development projects are far outside the normal timeline for private enterprise. Few private companies are investing in 15, 20, or 50 year long research efforts because their dollars are better spent on short-term investments. </font>

Again, same argument... Private companies could invest in long term projects if we stopped ignoring them and giving all the money to NASA instead. Too bad NASA gets it all and wastes most of it.



<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by debequem:
However, if long term investments are not made, the technology will not advance as quickly as it might otherwise. Those programs are a win-win for the rest of the world.</font>

I think it's an even bigger win-win if we stop wasting trillions on the middle man.


<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by debequem:
Think of all of the medical wonders we have today and many of those are due directly to programs funded by NASA. How many people owe their lives or quality of living to such rudimentary developments such as pacemakers and implantable deliberators all made possible by NASA? That number is staggering.</font>

Think of all of the medical wonders we are missing right now because we have not been directly funding medical research... Think of all of the lives that we've lost because we wanted to go to the moon instead of going into the operating room.



<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by debequem:
While Rutan’s work is nothing to sneeze at, remember NASA accomplished the same thing 40 years ago using far more primitive technology, while inventing the science and knowledge base we take for granted today. Burt essentially rode on the back of NASA to get where he got (Space Ship One and all of his aircraft designs included). Again, not a bad accomplishment, but getting 62 miles above the Earth’s surface is child’s play compared to obtaining orbit, let alone getting to the Moon and back.</font>

Rutan’s work is stupidly simple. A perfect example of KISS. It's the first step in a 1 mile walk. NASA needs to rethink a lot and re-learn the basics.


<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by debequem:
While NASA is a large organization, most of its work is subcontracted out to small and large private industry. Our company has a viable state in the business of NASA and NASA helps keep many of our employees fed and productive.</font>

Where do you think NASA gets all this extra CASH to throw around? Do you have any idea how much more you could be receiving if it was going directly to your business without the overhead of NASA?



<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by debequem:
NASA helps us generate new intellectual property, which translates to profit and growth (new hires). My personal friend had a two-man machine shop that supplied Get-Away Special projects for the Shuttle experiments in the ‘80’s. People moan about innovation and production going off-shore, but the cutting-edge technologies are developed here in the USA under the umbrella of NASA.</font>

Again, same argument.. If NASA has an "umbrella" it's because we are throwing too much money at them and they are trying to protect their heads from getting hit by the bundles of cash.


<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by debequem:
I have heard many of you cry how America is loosing its stronghold on manufacturing and machining, but my private business/shop’s prospects are looking better and better each day. One day it may eclipse my day job. My neighbor is seeing the same thing with his shop and has more than tripled capacity to handle new work. Both of us owe this to aerospace in particular and NASA in general.</font>

Wrong, you owe it to US for hand feeding NASA who then hand feeds you. I'm sure you wouldn't mind receiving 2x the amount of money from tax payers investing in your company's well being though... Would you?


<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by debequem:
Without NASA the US would be much more a hamburger and fries service industry than it is today. While no Government run program is going to be 100% efficient, blanket statements about the net value of NASA have little substance when there is no corresponding argument to back it up. Most people are clueless about the big picture and how NASA has changed all of our lives for the better in ways unimaginable. No other state run program begins to yield that kind of return on investment.
</font>

Without NASA, maybe the millions of people who die from cancer each year could have been saved if a small fraction of that money wasn't burned up in propellant used to make Dust angels on the moon.



<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by debequem:
[B]That footprint in the lunar soil is far less symbolic of the effort to make that physical imprint than it is a deeper symbol of the technical revolution for humanity we enjoy today.[B]</font>

I can't see any footprints on lunar soil... I just hope all of the people that died as a result was worth it..

-3Ph

dsergison
02-25-2005, 05:22 PM
that's all great argument 3ph, BUT... were nasa gone tomorrow. I doubt private industry would do much more than make a quick (and HUGE) buck and retire to golf.

at least we have some regulated focus.

Duct Taper
02-25-2005, 05:44 PM
Debequem, don't waste your time trying to answer 3phase lightbulb. He obviously will never be able to see the light you are trying to shed on the subject.

Just let him rant, guys.

3 Phase Lightbulb
02-25-2005, 05:44 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by dsergison:
that's all great argument 3ph, BUT... were nasa gone tomorrow. I doubt private industry would do much more than make a quick (and HUGE) buck and retire to golf.

at least we have some regulated focus.</font>


You didn't capitalize nasa.. Lost a little respect for them now? http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif

Golf ain't my bag though... I think, in general people do actually like to "work" even though they might not know it.. I think poeople would also enjoy work a little more with the added security knowing "America" is buying stock in their company.

NASA funding is huge, even if it's only 1% of the federal budget or something like that.. Does anyone know how much we actually pay NASA?

-3Ph

3 Phase Lightbulb
02-25-2005, 07:15 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Duct Taper:
Debequem, don't waste your time trying to answer 3phase lightbulb. He obviously will never be able to see the light you are trying to shed on the subject.

Just let him rant, guys.</font>

Grow up. This is a complicated subject with many points of view.

-3Ph

mochinist
02-25-2005, 10:04 PM
I thought you both made some valid points. If anything 3phase is kinda qoute happy, but it was a interesting argument.

pete913
02-25-2005, 10:40 PM
I see this argument up close and personal practically every day in dealings with contractors working for the local air force base, whose waste potential might even outstrip NASA, although I'd call it close. The funny part to me is that these contractors, on one hand will go on for hours telling you all about how they can make $100 bucks an hour on an idling backhoe as long as it's on the base, and only about half that on civilian jobs, where you actually have to be DOING something with the backhoe, not just racking up hobbs meter hours. Usually the next drivel out of their mouths is something about "liberals" wasting all our tax money. Well duh, you tell me who's really wasting it. They're participating in the waste, make huge sums off it, have no regrets and no conscience about it, and their excuse for it is " well if we don't take the money someone else will". Does anyone but me see a pattern of 'you got exactly what you deserved' here?
My house was built in 1957, the same year they broke ground on the air force base here. In that time, it's had one new set of replacement windows, two new roofs, and one new siding job, and it's in better shape than any 'mil spec' house I've ever seen. In the same time frame, base housing has had more sets of windows, siding, roofs, than you could even count. I don't remember a time in the last 30 yrs, when at least one contractor wasn't working full time year round replacing windows and doors. and now those houses are being torn down, even the basements torn out, and totally rebuilt anew. If that's not total waste and incompetant management, I'd sure like to know what is.
It's really hysterical to me, how folks that rail against government waste, in a lot of cases have lived practically their entire lives feeding off the govt tit, think they are OWED everything by the taxpayers, and see absolutely no problem with our government throwing good money after bad with schemes that would get laughed out of any boardroom in this country as completely unworkable and unprofitable, like space stations, moving any significant amount of the earths population to another planet etc. Just as long as it provides them with an income, they simply don't give a rip if it takes every last tax dollar every productively employed US citizen makes to prop up their fiscally indefensable fantasies.

Your Old Dog
02-25-2005, 10:54 PM
Relax Boys http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

Billary Rodham Clinton will be in the drivers seat soon. She's moving her position to the Right to pick up a few more voters, the public has a short memory and she'll likely take the home roses. I can see her dumping NASA dollars for health care dollars and her legacy and then burning any Company at the stake or taxing them out of business for taking over and making it work.

Wasteful as it may be, I see NASA as the rudder for a technology ship that's smoking right along. Hell, we don't even know about half of what they got! http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

msrm
02-26-2005, 01:06 AM
...bar-room eye, that is funny!!!!!

rsr911
02-26-2005, 04:16 AM
My father retired NASA about 3 years ago and went into private consulting for NASA at a firm that hired him. Basically he we in aerospace and as some of you may know GWB's new budget is redirecting NASA toward space and not airplanes. My dad enjoyed working at NASA all those years but towards the end I could sense the bureacracy wsa getting to him. Now he is jobless since the company he went to work for consulted on aeronautics and not space exploration and they closed down his office. He's all of 62 and very talented. As an outside observer I understand and agree with much of what's been said but I need to explain that NASA's problems have more to do with the same bereacracy that haunts all branches of government. The mission of NASA is not to turn a profit directly but to enhance our knowledge through research and share that knowledge with private companies thereby keeping the US a world leader in these fields. If we look at things in a microcosm we could look at the company I work for. Our research budget is huge compared to earnings but sucessful research results in production. I'm second in command of R&D and I can tell you my production manager and I have a love/hate relationship. He hates that my products keep him busy but enjoys the raises and bonuses he gets due to increased revenue. Our company is small so there are committees etc. involved, most things go from R&D to production with a simple meeting and me helping production make the process work. In this way we are very efficient as opposed to large companies which are (IMHO) inefficient. Second in command for me means I make all the decisions, my boss is the former owner (a world renowned adhesives chemist) and he is semi-retired. He gave the business to his son and gave me the responsibilty and tools to make it successful, rarely overiding my leadership. In other words we get the most out of our dollar because we don't have 18 layers of bereaucrats making "safe" decisions. If I were to look at NASA from the outside I'd look at the people on the inside, and there would be a lot of people out of work. I'd give the researchers much more say in what gets done and whittle the bean counters down to the bone. In other words if you don't contribute to streamlining research you'd be out of a job. After all the end goal of NASA is to provide valuable research knowledge to this country and if you're not a researcher then you are in a supporting role, right now those in the supporting role have most of the power and that just doesn't work. Let's look at my company again for a minute. we have a competent financial person who knows nothing about actual research, I bring back PO's for several thousand dollars in lab expenses and she tells me I'm wasting money. Now how exactly does she know this? In her eyes if it doesn't got directly to the bottom line it's money wasted, she can't make the intuitive leap that research is several steps away from actual profit or that research is what makes a company grow. Fortunately I don't need her approval for my purchases so I just let her complain, yet always point out EXACTLY how much income a new product is bringing in. I have the power here so my hands aren't tied when trying to develop new product for our company, imagine if NASA engineers had similar power? Imagine if they could just purchase or spend what they need to complete their research? No the deal with all sorts of budgetary bereaucrats who don't understand the process, thier job is to save money but their job pays more than the money they save. Viscious cycle I tell you.

------------------
-Christian D. Sokolowski

Spin Doctor
02-26-2005, 08:20 AM
Every one blames NASA for the failures and in some way they should be. But the politicians who hamstring NASA and force it into various decisions never get any of the blame. A good example is the loss of Challenger. The SRBs built by Morton Thiokol were the worst of the designs submitted by the contractors but NASA was forced to choose it by the politicians because the design was the cheapest But NASA is a governemnet organization who in the long run gets it's marching orders from Congress and the President. And because it is a government program it is automatically a national jobs program. The opposition of some politicians to funding NASA is often on direct inverse proportion to their districts/states participation. In the space community one name that is often villifilied is that of William Proxmire. While I did not care for the man and found him shallow the few times I met him he did raise some important issues. Don't undersell the costs or oversell the benefits. Could some of the things that have come out of research by NASA and its contactors have come about another way? Possibly, but private industry would only of been willing to do it if the profit potential was out there in the foreseeable future.

But what would I do if making the decisions

1) Retire the Shuttle Orbiters to museums, But not the ET and SRBs as they currently stand. They are the closest thing we have to a heavy lift booster today.
2) Sell our interests in the ISS to the Chinese. Its right up their alley
3) Think long and hard about just what this nation wants to achieve and turn the energies of NASA towards the basic life support, propulsion and materials research needed to support those goals.
4) Turn over all manned space operations to the Navy, that's right the Navy. Not the boys in blue suits. When the time comes for long duration lunar or other missions the Navy and the scientists at NAOA will provide the best source of reqruits due to the demands of submarine operations and the people who winter over at polar facilities
5) Dust off an idea that DARPA was looking at a few years ago called Black Horse. Basically a small delta winged airframe that would take off from a runway with an air breathing engine partially fueled and once at alltitude would refuel from a tanker aircraft and head for orbit. Such a vehicle would be best suited to transporting crew or high priority supplies/equipment to and from orbit and responding to emergency situations
6) Decide if we are to go back to the Moon it will be to set up a permenant base that has the primary research mission of finding ways to a) live off the land for food, fuel and energy and b) making the efforts of off world spending pay in the long run. And thatt could be in ways to turn a buck or even in ways to stop incoming bodies from striking the Earth

PS NASA currently gets .61%/$15.5B of the Federal Budget. Where as the social side of the Federal Budget last year was $819 Billion dollars

Tuckerfan
02-26-2005, 07:06 PM
I'd like to point out that HUD get's twice the amount of money that NASA does, and yet we've still got nearly 3 million people homeless in America. You'd think that for $30 billion a year, HUD could afford to buy the homeless folks each a nice new house. Of course, if they did that, then people who aren't homeless would be screaming that it wasn't fair because they didn't get a free house from the government.

Bush's new Medicare drug plan is going to cost the government something like a trillion dollars over ten years. And it's not even going to provide coverage for everyone or cover all the costs of medications. We haven't spent that much on NASA since it's inception.

The current war in Iraq has come to something like $200 billion, and the tab's still running. We went to the Moon for less money, and the critics of Bush's plan to go back to the Moon and then on to Mars complain that's how much it will cost us (spread out over a decade or more).

There's a lot of good that NASA has done for us. (Take a look at NASA's most recent issue of Spinoff (http://www.sti.nasa.gov/tto/Spinoff2004/index.html) for some ideas.) A lot of the technology we use every day can be traced to work that NASA has done. Also, the gear they were using when they had their greatest moment of glory (i.e. the Apollo moon landings) is mind bogglingly primitive. Those cheap, credit size calculators you can buy at the dollar store are more powerful than the computers used in the Apollo program. Think about that, for a moment. They sent people 250 million miles away, had them land on another planet, and then safely landed them a few miles away from an aircraft carrier back on Earth a week later using sliderules! They carried sextants in the capsules to check their positions and headings.

Yeah, NASA's a pale shadow of it's former self, but their budget has basically remained unchanged since the Apollo era. How many of us could survive on what we made 30 odd years ago? I couldn't, but then I was born in 1968. The fact that they're able to do anything at all, is pretty remarkable.

cncboss6
02-26-2005, 07:45 PM
I thank Star Trek and Capt. Kirk for being lightyears ahead of NASA and the world as far as space goes. Haha no pun intended, but seriously some of use would not be still living if it was not for the great scientists and astronauts at NASA. When I see a rocket blast off and am still in awe and also realize it is our foot print and golf balls on the moon put there way back in 1969 a feat nobody has come close to matching as of yet. How about the feat of getting Apollo 13 back to earth safely. I for 1 thank NASA and the Astronauts for their sacrifices they have made for us and the world. Thanks, Pat

wierdscience
02-26-2005, 11:35 PM
Yes,lots of good things have come from Nasa,but in recent years the management situtaion has gotten worse. My father worked for thier subs since the 60's and was forced out(driven nuts till he quit)in 1990.

The problems with Nasa management were bad then and from what I have both heard and seen it has gotten worse.

Everyone is mainly concerned with what color their next car will be or how big a house they can build,not with getting to and from space.

NASA's worst problems can be solved if they eliminate offices and move management onto the shop floor.

One other problem that is really serious is over-stressing education.Too many people who shouldn't have degree's have them for the pay scale and not for the job.Worthless paper on the wall is just that,worthless.

[This message has been edited by wierdscience (edited 02-26-2005).]