Atheists for a Vigorous Space Program


Atheists for a Vigorous Space Program

This is a group for atheists who are interested in encouraging and fostering an effective space program for the purpose of exploration, technological development, resource development, energy production, and the long term survival of humanity.

Location: EARTH
Members: 154
Latest Activity: Sep 6, 2017



Discussion Forum

Weird Dust Ring Discovered Near Venus Orbit

Started by Steph S. Nov 21, 2013. 0 Replies

cientists have…Continue

The Challenger Disaster - Discovery Channel

Started by Loren Miller. Last reply by Joan Denoo Nov 17, 2013. 7 Replies

Last night I watched a well-done dramatization of the investigation into the catastrophic events of 28 January, 1986, when at 73 seconds into the 51L shuttle mission, the Space Shuttle Challenger was…Continue

Tags: investigation, disaster, Donald Kutyna, Sally Ride, Challenger

We're NASA and We Know It!

Started by Loren Miller Aug 17, 2012. 0 Replies

Gettin' DOWN with Curiosity, y'all!Continue

Tags: MSL, Curiosity, NASA

Space Advocacy: Harder Than Rocket Science?

Started by Sarah Walton. Last reply by Nathan Hevenstone Apr 14, 2012. 1 Reply

In his article Jeff Carr suggests that space advocacy is harder than rocket science. More to the point, public relations and marketing is hard. …Continue

Tags: public relations, space advocacy

Human Colonization of Space- A Kind of "Manifest Destiny?"

Started by Mrina. Last reply by Nicholas K. Apr 6, 2012. 23 Replies

Will we do it at some point anyway or do we need to be trying a lot harder now to achieve it? On a similar note, does planetary protection of Mars matter? Should we be THIS careful, or should we just…Continue

International Space Apps Challenge April 21-22 2012

Started by Sarah Walton Mar 10, 2012. 0 Replies

If someone here is a member of any coding groups could you please pass them on to them? Or anyone else with the skills and interest to help out? Events in San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Oxford, Exeter,…Continue

Tags: science, citizen, NASA, ISS

While colonizing space (moon, Mars, etc.) what sort of government will be created(decided upon) by the people who will do the colonization?

Started by Cane Kostovski. Last reply by Madhukar Kulkarni Jan 7, 2012. 12 Replies

My guess is that primarily scientists will be the ones colonizing the Moon and Mars. If I am right, then I would venture to say that they will create a government that will be more desirable to the…Continue

NOAA Warns Of Gap In Future Forecasting Abilities

Started by George Aug 27, 2011. 0 Replies

NPR Interview with Scientific American writer David Biello about Congress' fund slashing for vital satellites that monitor the earth's weather.…Continue

Tags: science, weather, hurricane, forecasting, NASA

My Opinion: Our best hope..

Started by Cane Kostovski Jan 29, 2011. 0 Replies

I think the people at the web site below have our best hope of a technology that will provide cheap and safe transportation to low earth orbit. No rocket fuel needed for the trip up or down, but…Continue

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches

Started by Loren Miller. Last reply by JstN Earthling Jun 6, 2010. 4 Replies

Cape Canaveral, Florida (CNN) -- Friday's test launch of the Falcon 9 rocket was "essentially a bullseye," SpaceX officials said after the rocket successfully pushed past the earth's atmosphere and…Continue

Tags: Dragon, Falcon 9, Space X, NASA

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Comment by Gecko, of Richie! on May 16, 2011 at 9:42pm
How We Can Fly to Mars in This Decade – And on the Cheap
posted 12 hours ago by Michael Stoltz [ updated 10 hours ago ]

By Robert Zubrin, Wall Street Journal, 05.14.11
SpaceX, a private firm that develops rockets and spacecraft, recently announced it will field a heavy lift rocket within two years that can deliver more than twice the payload of any booster now flying. This poses a thrilling question: Can we reach Mars in this decade?

It may seem incredible—since conventional presentations of human Mars exploration missions are filled with depictions of gigantic, futuristic, nuclear-powered interplanetary spaceships whose operations are supported by a virtual parallel universe of orbital infrastructure. There’s nothing like that on the horizon. But I believe we could reach Mars with the tools we have today, or will have in short order. Here's how it could be done:

The SpaceX’s Falcon-9 Heavy rocket will have a launch capacity of 53 metric tons to low Earth orbit. This means that if a conventional hydrogen-oxygen chemical rocket upper stage were added, it would have the capability of sending 17.5 tons on a trajectory to Mars, placing 14 tons in Mars orbit, or landing 11 tons on the Martian surface.

The company has also developed and is in the process of demonstrating a crew capsule, known as the Dragon, which has a mass of about eight tons. While its current intended mission is to ferry up to seven astronauts to the International Space Station, the Dragon’s heat shield system is capable of withstanding re-entry from interplanetary trajectories, not just from Earth orbit. It’s rather small for an interplanetary spaceship, but it is designed for multiyear life, and it should be spacious enough for a crew of two astronauts who have the right stuff.

Thus a Mars mission could be accomplished utilizing three Falcon-9 Heavy launches. One would deliver to Mars orbit an unmanned Dragon capsule with a kerosene/oxygen chemical rocket stage of sufficient power to drive it back to Earth. This is the Earth Return Vehicle.

A second launch will deliver to the Martian surface an 11-ton payload consisting of a two-ton Mars Ascent Vehicle employing a single methane/oxygen rocket propulsion stage, a small automated chemical reactor system, three tons of surface exploration gear, and a 10-kilowatt power supply, which could be either nuclear or solar.

The Mars Ascent Vehicle would carry 2.6 tons of methane in its propellant tanks, but not the nine tons of liquid oxygen required to burn it. Instead, the oxygen could be made over a 500-day period by using the chemical reactor to break down the carbon dioxide that composes 95% of the Martian atmosphere.

Using technology to generate oxygen rather than transporting it saves a great deal of mass. It also provides copious power and unlimited oxygen to the crew once they arrive.

Once these elements are in place, the third launch would occur, which would send a Dragon capsule with a crew of two astronauts on a direct trajectory to Mars. The capsule would carry 2500 kilograms of consumables—sufficient, if water and oxygen recycling systems are employed, to support the two-person crew for up to three years. Given the available payload capacity, a light ground vehicle and several hundred kilograms of science instruments could be taken along as well.

The crew would reach Mars in six months and land their Dragon capsule near the Mars Ascent Vehicle. They would spend the next year and a half exploring.

Using their ground vehicle for mobility and the Dragon as their home and laboratory, they could search the Martian surface for fossil evidence of past life that may have existed in the past when the Red Planet featured standing bodies of liquid water. They also could set up drilling rigs to bring up samples of subsurface water, within which native microbial life may yet persist to this day. If they find either, it will prove that life is not unique to the Earth, answering a question that thinking men and women have wondered upon for millennia.

At the end of their 18-month surface stay, the crew would transfer to the Mars Ascent Vehicle, take off, and rendezvous with the Earth Return Vehicle in orbit. This craft would then take them on a six-month flight back to Earth, whereupon it would enter the atmosphere and splash down to an ocean landing.

There is nothing in this plan that is beyond our current level of technology. Nor would the costs be excessive. Falcon-9 Heavy launches are priced at about $100 million each, and Dragons are even cheaper. Adopting such an approach, we could send expeditions to Mars at half the mission cost currently required to launch a Space Shuttle flight.

What is required, however, is a different attitude towards risk than currently pervades the space policy bureaucracy. There is no question that the plan proposed here involves considerable risk. So does any plan that actually involves sending humans to Mars, rather than talking about it indefinitely. True, there are a variety of precursor missions, technology developments, and testing programs that might be recommended as ways of reducing risk. There are an infinite number of such potential missions and programs. If we try to do even a significant fraction of them before committing to the mission we will never get to Mars.

But is it responsible to forgo any expenditure that might reduce somewhat the risk to the crew? I believe so. The purpose of the space program is to explore space, and its expenditures come at the cost of other national priorities. If we want to reduce risk to human life, there are vastly more effective ways of doing so than by spending $10 billion per year for the next two or three decades on a human spaceflight program mired for study purposes in low Earth orbit. We could spend the money on childhood vaccinations, fire escape inspections, highway repairs, better body armor for the troops—take your pick. For NASA managers to demand that the mission be delayed for decades while several hundred billion dollars is spent to marginally reduce the risk to a handful of volunteers, when the same funds spent elsewhere could save the lives of tens of thousands, is narcissistic in the extreme.

The Falcon 9 Heavy is scheduled for its first flight in 2013. All of the other hardware elements described in this plan could be made ready for flight within the next few years as well. NASA’s astronauts have gone nowhere new since 1972, but these four decades of wasteful stagnation need not continue endlessly. If President Obama were to act decisively, and bravely embrace this plan, we could have our first team of human explorers on the Red Planet by 2016.

The American people want and deserve a space program that is really going somewhere. It’s time they got one. Fortune Favors the Bold. Mr. President, seize the day.

Dr. Zubrin is president of Pioneer Astronautics and of the Mars Society ( An updated edition of his book, “The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must,” will be published by The Free Press this June.

[Image: SpaceX]
Comment by TwinDNA on February 23, 2011 at 1:06pm

I know this isn't a real news article, but it's Hilarious! :)

NASA Kills God.
Comment by George on January 25, 2011 at 12:07am
Very cool


NASA Solar Sail Stunner

Comment by Roy The Infidel on November 24, 2010 at 6:18pm
Comment by Gecko, of Richie! on August 20, 2010 at 12:13am
Comment by Dale M. on May 16, 2010 at 6:31pm
not technically the space program, but this is from Frank Drake on

At the SETI Institute we work every day to expand our knowledge of the nature of life itself, always seeking to provide a bigger picture, one in which all of humanity is united, one intelligent species among perhaps many others in the universe. We must never forget that we are living in the first generation of humans who are able to use technology to reach out into the vast universe in search of cosmic company. We are the first generation of humans capable of discovering our place among the stars.
Comment by Susan Stanko on May 15, 2010 at 9:24am
There was thing that Fox news is good for. Watching the shuttle launch.
Comment by James H on May 14, 2010 at 10:28pm
Robert Zubrin talking about the Obama Space Program on the Space Show (April 27, 2010).
Comment by Loren Miller on May 12, 2010 at 4:50pm
Hey, you will NEVER hear me throw stones at Burt Rutan; the guy is a fraggin' GENIUS. I would LOVE to see him or someone like him successfully mount a privately funded mission to orbit and return, and I have no doubt but that NASA would like to see it as well. My point is simple: that there is a massive difference between what they've done to date and what they NEED to do to put a spacecraft in stable Earth orbit and then return it.
Comment by Loren Miller on May 12, 2010 at 10:23am
The space shuttle was a great idea which ran headlong into the whole issue of maintenance costs. I don't have hard numbers (though I could probably find 'em if I bothered), but the cost to recondition a shuttle after a mission and prep it for the next one was a LOT more than was anticipated. With Constellation, they at least have a reusable booster system.

As for Burt Rutan's approach, he has it easy: Spaceship One doesn't go anywhere NEAR 17,500 mph, and if it did, it would have the same reentry heat problems that every spacecraft that DOES orbit the earth does. Thus far, all he's done is suborbital flights, with a top speed no greater than Mach 3 (around 2,100 mph). Orbital flights require a LOT more energy going up and the ability to dissipate a LOT more energy coming down.

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