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India and NASA to Explore Moon Together 208

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the everybody-has-an-angle dept.
hotsauce writes "NASA administrator Griffin on a visit to Indian space facilities in Bangalore has signed an agreement to explore the moon with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). This agreement will see NASA instruments on a 2008 Indian moon mission, and further cooperation is being explored. An Indian paper has a different take on the visit. Interesting answer by Griffin on NASA outsourcing to ISRO."
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India and NASA to Explore Moon Together

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  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @04:54PM (#15296596) Homepage Journal

    And you thought the latency on calls to Dell's help desk was bad now...

    • Was gonna post something about NASA being outsourced, but I was beat to the punch. :-)
  • Griffin's answer (Score:5, Informative)

    by pq (42856) <rfc2324&yahoo,com> on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @04:56PM (#15296616) Homepage
    Since most people won't bother to read TFA to get the answer to the tease:

    Griffin said NASA was not looking to outsource some of its work to ISRO. NASA was looking to combine the resources both agencies to undertake ventures of mutual interest.

    (Yeah, yeah, I know I'm enabling bad behavior, but slashdot needs all the help it can get.)

    • Since most people won't bother to read TFA to get the answer to the tease:

      Griffin said NASA was not looking to outsource some of its work to ISRO. NASA was looking to combine the resources both agencies to undertake ventures of mutual interest.


      That sounds like the mantra just before they officially announce 'well yeah, they are so cheap we will start outsourcing our engineers'. Now just how long before congress and the president is outsourced to india? ;)
      • From what I hear, NASA engineers are already cheap - they willingly get paid less than they would in the private sector because they love their work so much.
      • Re:Griffin's answer (Score:1, Interesting)

        by eviloverlordx (99809)
        Now just how long before congress and the president is outsourced to india? ;)

        The correct verb is 'sold' :).

        Seriously, though, getting to the moon on the cheap with India seems a lot more likely to succeed than any space plans involving cooperation with Russia.
        • Re:Griffin's answer (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Rei (128717) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @05:52PM (#15297011) Homepage
          If the goal is "on the cheap", there are much better solutions.

          1) Put off the landing date to give tech a chance to advance further; there are a number of interesting techs on the horizon.
          2a) Cancel the CEV; launch astronauts on Shenzhou and Soyuz.
          OR
          2b) Finish the CEV, but with a disposable or minimally reusable design, launched atop an EELV to reduce development costs.
          3) Complete the DART program to eliminate the need for shuttle-delivered ISS components.
          4) Reduce manned spaceflight.
          5) Funnel the savings into many launch cost-reduction programs at once. Possibilities:
          5a) Scramjets
          5b) HEDM fuels (cubane compounds, nitrogen rings, solid ozone grains, etc)
          5c) Cryogenic solids/hybrids
          5d) OTRAG-style vehicles
          5e) Nuclear thermal propulsion
          5f) Materials tech (cheaper superalloy production methods, cheaper/stronger carbon structures, better linings, etc; especially important for reusables)
          5g) General engine tech (there's always exotic engines like aerospikes, but I was thinking more along the lines of flometrics-style pumps, simpler turbopump designs, better self-contained hydraulics, better sensors, etc)
          6) Also funnel the savings into in-space cost reduction tech:
          6a) In-space assembly.
          6b) Tether reboost
          6c) Magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters and associated high energy density nuclear power plants
          6d) Orbital tugs (rocket powered or ion powered)
          6e) Solar power tech (to reduce mass and increase power)
          6f) Exotic propulsion methods - antimatter-catalyzed microfission/microfusion, nuclear saltwater rockets, etc.
          6g) Lots of other miscellaneous craft tech that I don't want to have to take the time to enumerate. ;)

          Only after several generations of the smaller projects and one or two generations of the larger projects do you actually work on a vehicle that you plan to use as a workhorse and take a moonshot. By cutting back on the big capital expenses (the manned exploration program), you free up funds to take several technological routes at once, so you can pick the winner.
          • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@nOSPAm.yahoo.com> on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @06:01PM (#15297075) Journal
            Newkyuler power in space? Good god man, you'll kill us all! If the thing blows up or de-orbits, that amount of newkyuler participles could, uh, well I don't really know but I'm going to go with "reduce the planet to a glassy sphere." Won't someone think of the children? You can't hug a children with radioactive satellites.
          • um.... not a single one of your suggestions would be cheap. Soyuz? Well, if you leave off the habitation module leaving only the rentry module, and reduce your crew size from what we want, and then invest billions to recreate the monstrous N1 booster, then... um...

            Scramjets? Nuclear thermal? everything else you mention??? Sure, they would be good things to pursue on their own merits, but they would ALL be extremely expensive to develop. Saying they would be cheaper is like saying in 1970 "the Space Shuttle

            • "Soyuz? Well, if you leave off the habitation module leaving only the rentry module, and reduce your crew size from what we want, and then invest billions to recreate the monstrous N1 booster"

              What the heck are you talking about? The first thing that I said was to put off moon/mars/CEV and reduce manned spaceflight. The only heavy lift vehicles needed would be to complete the ISS, and that's why I mentioned completing DART so the launchers don't need to be manned, and thus we can use things like modified D
          • These are only workable if they are politically viable. None of them are politically viable. It is not in the United States' interests to lose the capacity for human spaceflight.

            We can't launch the CEV on an EELV; man-rating any of those vehicles would be a nightmare. We can't launch only on foreign launch vehicles, as said above. Technology development will NOT inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers, which is one of NASA's ultimate goals--human spaceflight is inspirational and helped us wi
            • by Rei (128717) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @03:07AM (#15299218) Homepage
              First off, I agree that it's not politically viable. I'm just talking technology and economics.

              We can't launch the CEV on an EELV; man-rating any of those vehicles would be a nightmare.

              It'd be nothing compared to the difficulties they're having trying to get a working CEV design using SRBs. Cut the mission scope to be nothing more than ISS, cut the anticipated lifespan, and you have a much simpler engineering task.

              not only is Nuclear Thermal Propulsion going to cost billions of dollars and take years to finish

              True, at least in the case of a full-scale craft based on it. Hundreds of millions to the low billions for research (NERVA did most of it for us), and upper tens of millions per engine.

              but if you have to spend $5B on the engine alone, and probably $B for each copy of it,

              Way out of the ballpark. NERVA-2 (the spacecraft) was expected to cost 266m$ per 870k kg rocket in 1985 dollars (perhaps 400m$ today).

              Sheesh, that's ANOTHER $5 billion

              Um, no. The entire JIMO probe was slated to cost 400m$, which included a gas-cooled nuclear reactor.

              and if we're successful, we'll have the largest ever nuclear protest group at the launch site...ASSUMING that we can get launch approval!

              As stated, I deliberately ignored political consideration and approached only from a technological and economic standpoint. However, that's not really true. While they're popular to pillory, the Cassini protests were pretty darn small. Nuclear thermal propulsion might get a higher political profile, but a gas-cooled electricity-generating reactor won't.

              "Antimatter-catalyzed microfission/microfusion"?!?!?! What are you smoking? If we have problems launching something like New Frontiers, which had an RTG on it, how are we going to launch the most dangerous thing known to mankind?

              Okay, now you're off the deep end here. Do you know what *catalyzed* means? The amount of antimatter is miniscule. We simply cannot affordably produce (nor trap) enough antimatter with current technology to produce a pure antimatter thruster. Antimatter *catalyzed* microfission/microfusion uses energetically irrelevant amounts of antimatter to trigger fission or fusion reactions in microscopic specs of fuel.

              I doubt that there's a workable science bench microfission...

              Google it. I'm not here to teach you Advanced Propulsion Concepts 101.

              and even if there were, it's got to fit on a conventional launch vehicle to get into space.

              Penning trap + pellet injector + antimatter injector + bell nozzle + pellet tank = antimatter catalyzed microfission/microfusion rocket. Which component, may I ask, are you picturing as being huge/heavy?

              I'm almost surprised that you didn't rail against HEDM, cryogenic solids/hybrids, OTRAG, or any of the other things I mentioned.
      • "Now just how long before congress and the president is outsourced to india? ;)"

        If there is a God... Tommorrow
      • Now just how long before congress and the president is outsourced to india?

        It can't be too far off, you've been outsourcing your comedy from Canada for years.

      • NASA's been partnering with Russia, Japan, and the EU for years. Why only when they start partnering with India do people suddenly scream "outsourcing!"?

        • NASA's been partnering with Russia, Japan, and the EU for years. Why only when they start partnering with India do people suddenly scream "outsourcing!"?

          Stereotyping is so easy ;)
    • Actually, an agreement with India is a good thing in terms of launch site choices. Easier to lauch the higher above sea level you start. India does had those little foot hills called the Himalayas.
  • Two Words (Score:5, Funny)

    by Aqua_boy17 (962670) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @04:59PM (#15296639)
    Curried Tang
  • ISRO Chairman: "We (ISRO and NASA) would like to see how best we can avoid duplication of efforts, especially in areas like earth observation and space sciences."

    It sounds great, but it can also be seen as piggybacking on NASA's technology.

    So what does NASA stand to benefit? To prove that they did land on the moon?
    • RTFA (Score:3, Interesting)

      by GillBates0 (664202)
      Under an accord between the countries' space agencies, India's first unmanned lunar mission will carry two scientific payloads from the US agency, Nasa.

      ISRO's mission will carry payloads for NASA. It is piggybacking [wikipedia.org] in a literal sense, but the other way around.

  • Not quite (Score:5, Informative)

    by CXI (46706) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @05:01PM (#15296658) Homepage
    The summary author would have been more correct in linking to the following story rather than attempting to make commentary by selecting the link they did: http://sify.com/news/fullstory.php?id=14200860 [sify.com]

    It's not "another take" they link to, but rather "another story". Related, yes, but lets try a little harder (yes, it's slashdot, etc, etc but it doesn't hurt to try)
    • I purposely worded the phrase "another take on the /visit/" and not "another take on the story" because I found it interesting that while the BBC thought Griffin's visit important for the moon exploration cooperation, Sify (and others) thought the visit important as a sanctions ender.

      I did see the link to the Sify story that reported on the MOU (it's clearly in the story I linked to), but thought the end of (most) sanctions to be an important story, too.
  • For Mankind. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZSpade (812879) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @05:04PM (#15296687) Homepage
    Since progress in this field is really beneficial to all of humanity, it's really good to see more countries joining forces to move progress along. I think in the long run privitization of the space industry is the way to go, but until that industry takes off a world wide coalition to push things forward might be our best bet for progress.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I doubt that "benefitting all humanity" has anything to do with this partnership. It's about the economics of it.

      First of all, we must remember that Indian engineers are just as capable as engineers from any other part of the world. While we have all had horrible experiences talking with tech support representatives over there, that is in no way indicative of their engineering talent. India especially has become one of the world leaders in aerospace research.

      Second of all, at this time, an American dollar g
      • Yes, but the end results are still the same. If we can do more with the resources we have this way, then there are tangible benifits to the field. That's the whole point of countries teaming up like this.

        United we rise, divided we... stretch our budget a little thinner to rise.
    • The privatization pancea comes up on every space story, but science is not neccessarily profitable. That's why there has always been a strong government role in fundamental research. Hence government funding, and (even in the US) institutions like the NIH, CDC, and yes, NASA.
  • The race to open the first lunar Kwik-E-Mart.

  • Sounds like an Irwin Allen [wikipedia.org] sci-fi series.

  • Indian Space Units (Score:4, Informative)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @05:13PM (#15296755) Journal
    I think that, when they talk about lifting sanctions on "Indian space units", they mean relaxing/removing the sanctions imposed on high-tech exports to India.

    1998 was when the U.S. flipped out over India's nuclear tests.
  • NASA has decided that it would be cheaper to send Indian employees up with the astronauts and sell the radio equipment. If the austronauts have a problem, they can ask the tech support crew, who will have scripts for the most common problem situations.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Now that we've outsourced (offshored) offworlding to India... The country with the least space experience that still can launch sats... we could buy off-the-shelf Mars systems Made-in-China or somesort instead of doing a stupid space-exploration thingy... Afterall, isn't that what made WalMart great?

  • that flying carpets are a myth, right? I know NASA is under some budget crunches, but honestly...
    • NASA is dying from all I can tell. They have cleaned out several of the space centers turning them into almost ghost towns by cutting funding for everything not directly related to the moon mission. That means that most projects were dropped dead in the water. The few people remaining had to shift to different projects to stay afloat. With all of the crazy cuts of funding, it doesn't surprise me if the only way we can afford to go to the moon would be to piggyback on somebody else who is willing to put the
    • Re:NASA is aware... (Score:3, Informative)

      by nganju (821034)

      Flying carpets come out of Persian or Arab folklore, not Indian. I know you think they're all the same, but you're just displaying your typical Western ignorance, as are the moderators that modded you funny.

      Your joke is equivalent to if NASA decided to work with the French Space Program and I made some jokes about German stereotypes (all the astronauts will have to eat sauerkraut, etc). It doesn't make any sense, and I doubt it would be modded funny.

      • Flying carpets come out of Persian or Arab folklore, not Indian. I know you think they're all the same, but you're just displaying your typical Western ignorance, as are the moderators that modded you funny.

        Didn't we land, and subsequently conquer, you Indians back in 1492? Sheesh, show some respect to your overlords.
      • lighten up. Of course I know the difference between Perisans and Indians, Indians listen to Bhangra dance music while they drive their cabs.

        You people and the truth. The truth is in your gut and I felt that a joke about India and magic carpets would be funny, and it was, but then along you came with your facts and books and shit.

      • Re:NASA is aware... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by zulux (112259) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @07:24PM (#15297540) Homepage Journal
        I know you think they're all the same, but you're just displaying your typical Western ignorance, as are the moderators that modded you funny.

        Typical Western ignorance?!?!?!!?

        As you type your screed on a digital computer, and send it over the internet with satellite linkups.

        I'll say one thing: At least Western ignorance is rather inventive.

        • I'll say one thing: At least Western ignorance is rather inventive.

          Its the confidence in it that counts.

        • by FurryFeet (562847)
          Please re-parse that sentence. You assumed it meant that Western people are typically ignorant. A second interpretation could be that GP is displaying a specific type of ignorance, one that is typical to Western people, namely, in the area of foreign cultures. I move that he's quite right.
        • Actually I do believe most of the technology is invented by the non-ignorant Americans... or it comes from Japan.
        • I'll say one thing: At least Western ignorance is rather inventive.

          Many of those 'Western Inventions' were due to easterners living/working/studing in the west...

          Try visiting a communications (engineering) research group at a local university.... You will be lucky to see a non-zero number of Americans there.... (besides the janitoral staff). And if you are lucky, then you should be buying lottery tickets if the one you see is pursuing a PhD.

          • Many of those 'Western Inventions' were due to easterners living/working/studing in the west...


            They may be genetically white, but they are imersed and adopting Western culture.

            "White" people are a minority, but the Western culture is spreading.....

  • I just think it's neat that India is sending a mission to the moon, allbeit an unmanned one. And for all the outsourcing jokes, the fact that it's NASA getting payload space from India seems to make NASA seem like more of a joke. Of course, to them it probably is a joke, since they've already been there. It looks like, with the ESA and Bulgaria also sending payloads, the better joke would be one about the Indian mission being like a taxi driver. If it was Indian astronauts in a NASA shuttle, then there'd be
    • Already Been There (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hotsauce (514237) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @06:09PM (#15297130)
      Of course, to them [NASA] it probably is a joke, since they've already been there.

      A surprising number of people are expressing this sentiment. NASA "has already been there" with much older equipment, most of which was simply geared to keep humans alive. This mission gives the opportunity to do real science with modern equipment, and answer new questions, for instance Smart 1's survey of surface elements to confirm theories about the origin of the moon.
  • So finally (Score:2, Troll)

    by geekoid (135745)
    Astronauts can get purchas a cool refreshing Squishy.

    Thank you! Come Again.
  • by miletus (552448) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @05:42PM (#15296938)
    This, combined with the recent nuclear deals with India, are prettly clearly geopolitical moves to bolster an economic and technological counterweight to China. Space science has little to do with it.
  • by marlinSpike (894812) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @06:04PM (#15297097)
    My My! This is truly a stunning accomplishment by India, to see its Space Program (by far, the most advanced amongst developing countries, and very favorably comparable to even the Japanese program), recognized so well by NASA. This is truly a coming of age for a very important country in the world, and I have to say, Hats off to the Indians -- they are making their rightful claim to being one of the most important nations in the world.

    India has been courted by Presidents of both parties in America, and counts a full 1/3 of Congress in the India Caucus. That speaks volumes for how important India is to our American interests. Then there's the obvious close ties India has to Europe, and especially Britain. American foreign policy interests are also greatly helped by a country that is the world's largest democracy in a rather un-democratic neighborhood, and has very good relations with Israel, also in a neighborhood where Israel has few friends.

    The cold war relations between America and India were truly a mistake, and a lost opportunities for both our countries, and I'm glad to see the US finally form the strong bonds with a country that will necessarily be one of the most important in the world in the coming years.

    Years of propping up dictators in Africa and Pakistan have done us no good, and have only bred festering flash-points. It's time we gave some serious thought to a relataionship that has and will continue to produce excellent dividends for both parties.

    • Peace, love, and happiness notwithstanding, I'm sure any apparent connection between India and America's "newfound friendship", and the rise of China, is entirely coincidental.

      Not that I'm saying it's not a good thing; it is. But once the Soviets folded, it was geopolitically necessary for the India/US axis to form.
  • by geobeck (924637) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @06:11PM (#15297136) Homepage

    ...received from my Crystal Ball(TM):

    "New Delhi, we have a problem."
    "Thank you for calling Mission Control. May I be having your name, address, and current software version please?"
    "The software has locked us out. We need you to make a course correction in exactly 20 seconds!"
    "Certainly sir. If I could just be having your license number please."
    "License number?! Just fire thrusters 2 and 3 for 4.5 seconds on my mark!"
    "You're Mark? Thank you for giving me your name, but I am needing your license code too please."
    "Our license number is going to be 3-D-E-A-D-G-U-Y-S if you don't fire the thrusters in--5 seconds!"
    "If this is an emergency request, please be giving me your express service code."
    "Express... Hey Buzz, crack the main hatch open for 5 seconds on my mark... NOW! We'll have to hope this works."
    "I'm sorry sir, but it appears you have voided your warranty. Please be having a nice day."[click]

  • This is not 'outsourcing' as some said, but is in fact a very good step in the right direction.

    As we know, space exploration is not cheap, and to advance the knowledge and technology at a significant pace often requires the resources of a government, or several governments.

    With very few politicians seeing a return on investment (justly or not) in space travel, NASA budgets are shrinking, and cooperation between governments to reduce the financial burden sounds like a great thing.

    I think this also m

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