1) Message boards : Cafe LHC : The Death Of LISA (Message 12750)
Posted 16 Feb 2006 by Profile StarHalo
According to a Feb 7th New Scientist article, NASA's Beyond Einstein cosmology program, featuring LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) and Constellation-X (a black hole study) is UNDER REVIEW and is INDEFINITELY DELAYED IF NOT CANCELLED.

Why? Because of cost overruns of the shuttle/space station. It turns out that keeping people in orbit (even when they're not actually doing experiments) and ferrying things/other people back and forth between them is more expensive than NASA had initially estimated.

So what have we learned in recent years thanks to the shuttle and the station? We know the shuttle is incredibly frail and vulnerable, uses 80's-era computer components purchased from EBay, and is still prohibitively expensive just to get into orbit, despite the age if it's design. In fact it's so expensive to operate and maintain that money has had to be diverted away from the development of it's replacement, the CEV, just to keep it running!

Meanwhile the ISS remains a gray area. Can you recall any great headline-making discoveries borne from the station? The most recent event (and perhaps most reported in some time) was the release of a HAM radio stuffed in a Russian space suit into orbit. Really.

Not only have we potentially lost LISA and Constellation-X to the shuttle/station combo; Keck Observatory expansion has been cancelled, the Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF), a mission to detect and study Earth-like planets is delayed indefinitely, and Mars funding has been cut by a full quarter, which means cancellation of the Mars Sample Return Mission and the Mars Telecommunications Orbiter.

So what are your thoughts? Should NASA aside science to focus on the station? Is it more important to keep a couple astronauts in orbit? What would happen if you ran NASA?
2) Message boards : Cafe LHC : Discussion: risk of global nuclear war (Message 12749)
Posted 15 Feb 2006 by Profile StarHalo
A few points to spice the conversation -

- In the history of mankind, only two nuclear devices have ever been actually used as weapons in wartime against an enemy, and that was over 60 years ago.

- A B-2 bomber costs $2 billion dollars to build. The cost of the Mars Pathfinder mission was just under $500 million total. That means every B-2 that you see represents roughly four missions to Mars. There are 21 active B-2s in the US.

- Maintenence and operational costs of the US Nuclear program is just under $100 million dollars a day. Or 73 missions to Mars yearly.

- The reason the League of Nations failed is because the US didn't take it seriously and went it's own way. Note our current relationship with the UN.

Good convo thus far, all. However, I think you should draw the distinction between nuclear weapons and what is probably the larger modern threat, *dirty bombs*.

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