[extropy-chat] objections to current space probes

spike spike66 at comcast.net
Sun Jan 28 23:49:06 UTC 2007

bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of Robert Bradbury

You really probably don't want to get me started...

Come now sir.  Let us look at your objections:

1. http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/space/01/19/pluto.mission/index.html

You correctly observe that this is not an orbital insertion mission, which
would be really cool if we could do it.  In fact it is possible, but
extremely difficult.  Getting the required delta V all the way out there to
Pluto is most challenging with current technology.  We must take into
account that the entire payload gets extremely cold out there, so the usual
propellants would be unworkable.  Most likely we would need to go with
nuclear propulsion, but those are getting ever more difficult to launch
because of the anti-nuke protestors and unwilling congresspeople.  

If we were to design the mission so that the required delta V is within
reason, Robert you and I are unlikely to live long enough to see it to
fruition.  I haven't done the calculations, but 50 to 60 years is probably
about what would be required based on the calcs I can do in my head.


Mars Global Surveyor (a Lockheeed Martin product) ran flawlessly for over
nine years.  That is a long time for a spacecraft:


That the software contained a bug somewhere doesn't surprise me.  When I see
all the things that can go wrong with a spacecraft, and all the ways to miss
something in the test phase, it surprises me that space probes work as often
and as long as they do.


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