[ExI] James Oberg on a flexible future for NASA

spike spike66 at att.net
Mon Sep 14 00:33:47 UTC 2009

> > Which way for NASA? A step-by-step path
> > 
> > 
> http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32767421/ns/technology_and_science-space/
> > 
> > 
> > -------------------------------------
> > Max More, Ph.D.
> Thanks Max.  This is a terrific essay.  I and Oberg have 
> reached the same conclusions via independent paths... spike

My earier comment should not be taken as my agreement with everything Oberg
says in there.  One paragraph in particular I would take exception, the part
where he talks about astronauts operating robots on the surface of the moon
from lunar orbit.  With this I mostly disagree, for in every calculation I
have attempted, I have never been able to justify the complication and cost
of keeping proles up there just to eliminate the 1.5 second latency in
operating the same lunar surface robots from good old home base.  We can
operate robots 1.5 seconds away.  

On the other hand, operating surface robots from Martian synchronous orbit
is justifiable, for a bunch of reasons.  The 2 to 15 minute drive from Earth
to Mars makes it wildly difficult to operate robots from here.  Also the
solar radiation dose to the astronaut is only about a quarter in Mars orbit
of what it would be in the lunar orbit.

So I have long ago concluded the way is insert into Mars orbit, one
astronaut, stay until the orbits of Mars and Earth again allow, return,
total mission time about three and a half years, total delta vee required
isn't all that much higher than we did for the Apollo missions.  Start with
a small, young and light enough astronaut, good chance she would not suffer
permanent damage to her health.

I might contact James about this.  He is a personal acquaintance, after we
met at a conference about 12 years ago. 


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