End of NASA human spaceflight might reduce opportunities for military pilots

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by BrianReed, Jul 7, 2011.

  1. BrianReed

    BrianReed Candidate

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    Interesting article on Stars and Stripes: http://www.stripes.com/news/end-of-...ce-opportunities-for-military-pilots-1.148606

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Just as dark clouds threatened to scrub Friday’s planned launch of the final space shuttle mission, clouds over NASA’s role in human spaceflight could reduce opportunities for elite military pilots to take the ultimate next step upward.

    In the United States, the people who fly spaceships come from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. When it comes to managing risk while carrying out the mission, NASA officials say, no other group can touch military test pilots.

    “Every commander and every pilot of every shuttle mission we’ve ever flown has come from a military background,” said John Shannon, shuttle program manager. “We’ve always gotten the majority of our astronauts from the military. If you want the best, brightest, most disciplined people who know how to function as a team, that’s where you go.”

    But with the end of the shuttle, NASA won’t itself be sending humans into space for the foreseeable future. Private space entities are starting up – on Thursday, NASA signed an agreement with Sierra Nevada Corp. to develop and launch a private shuttle from Kennedy Space Center – but where private astronauts will come from is an open question.

    NASA veteran Robert Crippen, a Navy veteran who piloted the first shuttle mission in 1981 and later directed the shuttle program in the 1990s, said NASA will still need astronauts for International Space Station missions. But soon they’ll be flying to the space station on Russian Soyuz craft flown by Russian pilots.

    “They’re going to need to maintain a substantial base in the astronaut office, but I think the requirement for military pilots is likely to decline,” Crippen said.

    NASA’s astronaut office has traditionally recruited a class every two years, said Nicole Cloutier, spokeswoman for NASA flight crew operations. The last was in 2009.

    “Currently it’s under review whether we’re going to do another class at this time,” she said.

    There are 61 active astronauts, she said, about a third of them military pilots. NASA needs 55 to 60 for ISS operations, she said. The slight reduction will be reached by attrition, not layoffs.

    There might be fewer astronauts overall, but military people will always be in the mix, she said. They’re valued for their leadership ability, and their potential to take over for a Russian pilot in case of emergency.

    When astronaut recruiting starts up again, military people will be among the candidates, Cloutier said: “Having military skills is something we know is very valuable in the space program.”
     
  2. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    I remember looking at Virgin Galactics website and they are trying to recruit ex (or soon to be ex) military test pilots for their program. I wouldn't anticipate a decline in the demand for military pilots for space flight. I think the private sector will also be demanding mostly from that group.
     
  3. Sandbar

    Sandbar Member

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    What is wrong with this picture. America's best will have to look elsewhere because WE don't fly in Space anymore. Time for a new POTUS with the right vision to keep America great.
     
  4. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    That has NOTHING to do with this POTUS. Started happening with the last one and, honestly, the POTUS doesn't get to decide NASA's budget. Look at Congress. Both a Dem and GOP dominated congress have let NASA atrophy. This is everyone's fault; when the public stopped demanding space flight and adventuring into that frontier, we lost it. If you want someone to blame, look at yourself. Call a congresscritter or write a letter.

    EDIT
    Some good info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Budget
    Since 1990, the only actual (nominal) decrease in the NASA budget was under a Dem president and GOP congress.

    NASA's REAL funding hasn't drastically changed that much in the last 25 years. So the real question is: why can we not afford manned spaceflight despite near constant funding? I don't know the answer. Have we shifted focus to other projects and more unmanned missions? Has the process of developing manned flight become untenable due to restrictions and technology (I believe this one looking at more recent programs)? The Orion program had a LOT of problems. Remember, that was contracted work too....who really is to blame?

    In other words, blaming a single person like the POTUS is a really narrow perspective and reflects more divisive, partisan, and uninformed thought than doing some research into why NASA is doing what it is doing.

    And yes, I read the articles of "Obama shutting down the back to the moon program" Reading into them, the new focus is in developing orbital capabilities which would allow a much better chance of reaching the moon and doing something more than the Apollo missions which is all the Constellation project really sought to do.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2011
  5. Sandbar

    Sandbar Member

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    The buck stops with the POTUS. He is the Commander In Chief. He is the person who sets the agenda. Yes I know of the historical program cuts, yes and I know all about the politics in Congress ah we all do. The POTUS has to be a visionary and this one is not. President Kennedy had a vision and put the vision in play and we went to the Moon. We benefited from this exploration as you know in many ways. Now it seems that we are content to sit on the sidelines and watch other Countries do the lifting.
     
  6. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    And they spent 2.5 to a peak of 4.4% of GDP on NASA to do it in a decade. We spend 0.5% now. No one can justify the funding it would take to accomplish that by 2020 and congressional reports found that to be the case.

    I'm glad to see some focus on things like education. While math, science and engineering were exciting careers to aspire to in the 1960s, today it's all about being a doctor, lawyer, or broker. We don't have a POPULATION like then and we didn't have a big bad enemy with sputnik over us to battle against. The DoD isn't even getting the budget that would be required to do this and who can justify more money in a time of budget cuts?

    No, the POTUS did the right thing here. Set a realistic goal which will make a future moon exploration mission much more attainable when the time is right.

    Other countries aren't doing the lifting. We are still leaps and bounds ahead. Soyuz is 1960s tech. That was the last manned program (of course still used) by the Russians. china finally caught up to our 1960s program with ONE manned flight total. Others are trying to make it to our 1960s level. So ya, I'm not worried about anyone coming close to even our 1980s shuttle technology for awhile.

    Space is important, sure. There are plenty of things to do. And instead of just trying to land on the moon again (hey, we've done that already), I like that the current plan will build up the necessary infrastructure to do something actually new like a moon base or station.
     
  7. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    The sad, but true, fact is that -- unless or until we can overcome the speed of light issue, we'll never get out of our galaxy. We have a pretty good idea of what our galaxy has and it's not inhabitable or able to be visited.

    Space station personnel spend more than 80% of their time simply maintaining the station, not doing experiments. The hopes that medical and other advances could be made is space have generally not panned out.

    While it sounds like a nice idea, currently there really isn't much of a useful mission for the manned space program. Rather, we have a group of incredibly talented people with nothing substantial to do. IMO, their talents could be used more effectively doing something else. And our tax dollars could definitely be better spent elsewhere.
     
  8. Lynpar

    Lynpar Member

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    I love NASA and all it has brought us along with the hair standing up on my arms many times. But if the private sector can go to space with laughing gas and recycled tires as Dick Rutan accomplished while winning the X-Prize, the model of business as usual is broken. This may be exactly a private sector project not a government one As a popular tv show host named Rachel ( my favorite ) touts "Some things need government to accomplish". Maybe this is the opposite.

    Side note: I see a future is collecting space junk. Who's with me? The Dyson guy would be a great start for my team. Dick Rutan of course ( in a consulting position) Anyone know of any KP graduates who have space experience and are unemployed? :smile:
     
  9. Idzak

    Idzak Member

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    Space junk

    Collecting it is relatively easy but getting it back to Earth, well---.
     
  10. Lynpar

    Lynpar Member

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    Compacting during collection? Or tethering it all together and slinging it further out into space when the hunk got big enough? Kick the problem down the space street so to speak.....or kind of create a space reef of sorts? Space art- create a sculpture or how about use the hunk for astronaut mechanical training? detainees?
     

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