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NASA Seeking Innovative Ideas from Public 172

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the open-steering-committee dept.
Mike Peel writes "Science Blog is reporting that NASA is seeking proposals 'for creating and managing innovative activities, events, products, services, or other types of formal or informal education methods for the purpose of disseminating information nationally about NASA's projects and programs.'" Sadly I don't think simply providing them with a list of people you want shot into space counts.
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NASA Seeking Innovative Ideas from Public

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  • Come again? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yobjob (942868) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:37AM (#15372025)
    "NASA is seeking proposals 'for creating and managing innovative activities, events, products, services, or other types of formal or informal education methods for the purpose of disseminating information nationally about NASA's projects and programs.'" Seriously, I have no idea what this sentence says.
    • by Mononoke (88668) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:41AM (#15372038) Homepage Journal
      "NASA is seeking proposals 'for creating and managing innovative activities, events, products, services, or other types of formal or informal education methods for the purpose of disseminating information nationally about NASA's projects and programs.'" Seriously, I have no idea what this sentence says.
      It means cheerleader try-outs are next week.
    • Re:Come again? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by flappinbooger (574405)
      It means they have no clue what they are presently doing, nor what they can do, should do, or how to do it if they knew. Not kidding, that's what it says.
    • It means:

      (a) They aspire to be shameless self-promoters but
      (b) they're too lazy and unimaginative.
      (c) They're looking for someone else to to the heavy creative lifting
      (d) for which they're willing to pay (somebody else'e) money,
      (e) however they can't be precise about what they're looking for
      (f) because they haven't figured it out yet (see b) and
      (g) if they knew what they were looking for they wouldn't need to give taxpayer money away to somebody else to tell them what it was, would they?
    • It means they want us to supply their PR flacks with the ideas the PR flacks aren't coming up with on their own.

      Sentences like that have to be attacked with a preliminary compression pass, which collapses "creating and managing innovative activities, events, products, services, or other types of formal or informal education methods" into "innovative educational stunts". Then drop the idea that it's about what every Slashdotter thinks is the purpose of NASA, namely space exploration. That lets the key phrase
    • "NASA is seeking proposals 'for creating and managing innovative activities, events, products, services, or other types of formal or informal education methods for the purpose of disseminating information nationally about NASA's projects and programs.'" Seriously, I have no idea what this sentence says.

      It's simply English, believe it or not.

      Translated for those too lazy to bother: NASA is seeking proposals for creating PR and educational presentations, events, etc... etc...

  • Advertising (Score:3, Funny)

    by Rorian (88503) <james.fysh@gmail ... inus threevowels> on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:39AM (#15372032) Homepage Journal
    "In exchange for a collaborator's investment to creatively distribute NASA information, the agency will consider negotiating brand placement, limited exclusivity and other opportunities as part of a strategic collaboration."

    Does this mean we're gonna see big "Drink Coke!" advertisments next time we look through a telescope at the ISS? That would be some impressive brand placement...
  • Simple (Score:5, Funny)

    by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt@@@gmail...com> on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:39AM (#15372033) Homepage
    Call your next spacecraft the Wii.
  • Never! (Score:5, Funny)

    by goldaryn (834427) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:41AM (#15372040) Homepage
    I'll never give up my tin-foil hat design!!!
  • by creimer (824291) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:41AM (#15372041) Homepage
    Someone from NASA needs to post a question for Ask Slashdot to get some innovative ideas. I'm sure some of those ideas will be quite colorful.
    • ...never ever thought I'd ever post a quote from the godawful movie Armageddon on slashdot:

      "Harry Stamper: And this is the best that you c - that the government, the *U.S. government* could come up with? I mean, you're NASA for crying out loud, you put a man on the moon, you're geniuses! You're the guys that're thinking shit up! I'm sure you got a team of men sitting around somewhere right now just thinking shit up and somebody backing them up!"

      Isn't this what NASA gets paid to do?

    • I'm sure some of those ideas will be quite colorful.

      If you like red velvet wallpaper in your space-bordello.
  • How about (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JanneM (7445)
    putting up some kind of special signs - along the major roads, perhaps, or on buildings. Then you print some really _huge_ images to put on those sign things; some inspirational image, like the space shuttle and an astronaut against the earth seen from space. And then, to cap it off, print some short text, something kind of punchy and really easy to remember, on top. You know, something like "The Shuttle - Don't Leave Home Without It", or "Call NASA For a Good Time". Perhaps with an URL printed small so peo
  • by plunge (27239) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:49AM (#15372063)
    Seriously. The shuttle program at this point in time is insane. We do not have the technology yet to make space travel cost-effective. Instead of pointlessly doing it wastefully now for no other purpose than habit, why not pour all that money into a program to develop new forms of propulsion and energy, and come back to spacefaring when we have a better solution?

    It's not like sending humans into space serves any real purpose anyway. Robots can carry out virtually everything we need to do for FAR less payload cost. People often whine about the limitations of the robot missions compared to human missions, but these people have simply not thought through the cost-benefit analysis. Sure, a human mission payload can do more than the current robot misisons: the payload of the human missions is many many many times greater than the robot missions. If any of the Mars lander people could fill something the size of the shuttle with robot equipment, we'd be able to set up huge self-sustaining robot colonies on Mars easily. Instead, we want to send humans in what will then have to mostly be wasted space.

    Look Mars, we bring you... poop! And urine! And lots and lots of empty space for our various gases! And tons of food! And energy for a return trip! And beds, chairs, tables, toilets ,etc.!

    It's just nuts.
    • Because the CIA/NSA/etc require a satellite-servicing capability and NASA is a wonderful distraction. NASA *is* a cold war agency.
      • No, they don't even really need that. I would bet that the cost of a servicing mission and having the shuttle program to make it available far exceeds the cost of simply sending up another satelite via unmanned rocket as needed.
        • see, my immediate rebuttal to your comment (all pulled from popular media of course) was - yes, it's far cheaper to send up replacement satellites for ones that fail, but you need shuttles to pull down birds that have stopped working entirely so they and their plutonium don't land in bad countries..- but DART solved that problem you can take them down by design!
    • by Tx (96709) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @11:08AM (#15372128) Journal
      Yes, but sending robots tootling around the solar system is frankly not very exciting, and the biggest payoff of all from spaceflight derives from the extent to which it captures the public imaginations.
      • Robots ARE exciting. People love robots, now more than ever. Witness RoboSapien, the return of the Transformers, BattleBots or whatever on the TV, you know?

        I feel most people are just as excited about sending out a robot as a person.

        I think the problem is this -- people are apathetic and jaded. I almost didn't care enough to respond to your post.
      • If you want to capture the public's imagination, fake some manned missions on a sound stage for 100 million or so. Then spend the real money on real science.

        The "capturing the public's imagination" argument is bullshit, because you end up spending all of your budget to achieve this goal, and before you know it, the public's imagination has been captured by something else, like MySpace or American Idol. Any attention that a manned mission to mars will get will be extremely short lived. The costs far exceed t
    • by Anonymous Coward
      we'd be able to set up huge self-sustaining robot colonies on Mars easily.

      Well, if several years of reading sci-fi novels and watching sci-fi movies has taught me anything, YOU DON'T LET ROBOTS BECOME SELF-SUSTAINING! Cuz once they are, they get all kinds of crazy ideas about saving humanity from itself and decide to rule us for our own protection. Or, sometimes you'll get robots that have a persecution complex and decides that humanity needs to be obliterated because we are "imperfect," and thus a threat

    • "Look Mars, we bring you... poop! And urine! And lots and lots of empty space for our various gases! And tons of food! And energy for a return trip! And beds, chairs, tables, toilets ,etc.!"

      You are SO right. Does anybody else just picture a shuttle trip to Mars as basically like a road-trip with some of your friends....and you bring as much crap as you can so you're all basically stuffed into the van.....and there's that guy who fidgets the whole time next to you driving you nuts?

      And I mean, I hope those

    • why not pour all that money into a program to develop new forms of propulsion and energy, and come back to spacefaring when we have a better solution?

      That's what's been happening for the past, I don't know, 10 or 20 years? Magically though, good ol' shuttles always come on top of the "modern" solution as something that works.

      Of course innovation is the future, but let's not just drop what we have working. An expensive working shuttle is better than non-existant non-working less expensive ... uhmm.. battle c
      • "Of course innovation is the future, but let's not just drop what we have working. An expensive working shuttle is better than non-existant non-working less expensive ... uhmm.. battle cruiser... or whatever."

        Yuo couldn't be more wrong. What we have is working... to no purpose. It's not better, it's poitless. Getting humans into space is INCREDIBLY costly. In addition, at this point in our history, it serves no real purpose.

        Why not work on better solutions to getting into space so that when we do come u
        • Yuo couldn't be more wrong. What we have is working... to no purpose. It's not better, it's poitless.

          I'll hate to ask you to reconsider your opinion, sir. Because NASA TV has provided me and my peers with endless hours of fun, including drinking cola in space (wobble, wobble, wobble!), eating in space (squirting food from a tube! yea!) and other fun acts I'd never see otherwise.

          Long live NASA!
    • by CaptDeuce (84529) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @12:15PM (#15372349) Journal
      Seriously. The shuttle program at this point in time is insane. We do not have the technology yet to make space travel cost-effective.

      Yes, we do. What we don't have is political commitment for a government backed development (which some may argue is a Good Thing) nor sufficient venture capital available to the private sector to get off the ground floor (if you'll excuse the horrible pun).

      Instead of pointlessly doing it wastefully now for no other purpose than habit,

      Pointless? Hardly. The Shuttle is the only launch vehicle capable of completing ISS (International Space Station). Whether we're better off ditching the whole ISS/Shuttle program because it's wasteful is a separate, though related, argument.

      why not pour all that money into a program to develop new forms of propulsion and energy, and come back to spacefaring when we have a better solution?

      This really bears repeating: the viability of a successful space program -- public or private -- has nothing to do with technology; what we have now is totally adequate for the task and has been for at least the last 20 years.

      The plea to "come back when..." is a specious bumper sticker argument that emerged in the early 1970's though it usually goes like "... when we've solved the problems here on earth!" as if the space program exists to "solve problems in space". The suggestion that we wait until we've developed "the right" technology betrays enormous ignorance.

      As for doing science, an astronaut can stop, look, say "ooh, what an interesting rock!" then walk over, pick it up, and examine it closely with a Mark I eyeball in, what, 30 seconds? It takes days if not weeks for a Mars rover to do the same thing.

      So answer me this, earthworm, what "new forms of propulsion and energy" should we wait for? Scramjets? Totally unsuitable. A large, lightweight tank filled with LOX (liquid oxygen) is a far superior solution than a heavy air breathing engine that carries a huge drag penalty. Better to get out of the atmosphere quickly and carry your own oxidizer. LOX is cheap, as is rocket fuel be it RP-1, liquid hydrogen, or whatever.

      It's not like sending humans into space serves any real purpose anyway. Robots can carry out virtually everything we need to do for FAR less payload cost. People often whine about the limitations of the robot missions compared to human missions, but these people have simply not thought through the cost-benefit analysis.

      As if you have done a thorough analysis? Right. So what benefit are you talking about? Science? Economic return by exploiting an extraterrestrial resource? Human colonization of the solar system?

      ... If any of the Mars lander people could fill something the size of the shuttle with robot equipment, we'd be able to set up huge self-sustaining robot colonies on Mars easily. Instead, we want to send humans in what will then have to mostly be wasted space.

      Why would we build a colony of and, presumably, for robots on Mars? As for any sort of "easy" robotic mission to Mars, forget it. The robotic technology simply does not exist. It's likely, but by no means certain, that the cost of developing the robot technology would be at least as much as it would to develop a human mission. Why? Human beings are a well developed technology; the technology to send humans on long space voyages also exists -- because we've been doing it for over 40 years when we include the Shuttle program. Duh.

      Geeks of Slashdot, I bring you the link to The Case for Mars [amazon.com] by Robert Zubrin. It's not the latest treatment on a manned Mars mission but it indicates that we've had sufficient technology to begin development of Mars mission at least as early as 1996 when the book was written. Goo

      • "Pointless? Hardly. The Shuttle is the only launch vehicle capable of completing ISS (International Space Station). Whether we're better off ditching the whole ISS/Shuttle program because it's wasteful is a separate, though related, argument."

        So, we must have the shuttle because we need the ISS. Why do we need the ISS. Well hey, if we didn't have it, the shuttle wouldn't have anywhere fun to go!

        That is just so tragically insane I hardly even know what to say.

        "This really bears repeating: the viability of a
        • It has everything to do with technology. Yes, what we have is adequate to get into space, but at an ENORMOUS COST that simply does not justify itself in any way shape or form.

          I'm curious: What cost would you consider acceptable? Would $35 million for a SpaceX Falcon 9 [wikipedia.org] plus another few million for a Dragon capsule [wikipedia.org] carrying 7 people be acceptable?
        • Right now, real science prorgams are being canceled left and right so that this nearly purely masturbatory enterprise of putting humans back on the moon can go forward.

          I think you've hit it on the head. Manned space flight is a masturbatory exercise. It fuels space geeks fantasies. If other countries want to do it for their national prestige, fine. Hell, let's help them. Maybe even get one of our astronauts on board in exchange for helping. But we need to spend our money wisely, and that means on missions t
        • They have to conserve and go slow precisely because they are not given the funding, resources, or payload size that the human missions are.

          Wrong. They have to conserve fuel because there's no way to send them more. They go slowly because they have to wait for their data to reach Earth. Then, the data has to be evaluated, decisions made as to what to do next, the new instructions programmed and sent back. All this takes time because a robot can't react to something its designers didn't expect and explo

        • And several different sorts of robot eyes are a heck of a lot better than human eyes.

          Ok. Like what? Or, more specifically, what can a robot do that a human could not do with the right equipment? And better yet, with a robotic explorer, that equipment has to be kept on hand at all times and can only be used in a very limited fashion. With a human, it can be stuffed in a closet and brought out as needed and adapted and adjusted on the fly.

          Unmanned missions are cheaper because you can't do shit with them.
        • "As for doing science, an astronaut can stop, look, say "ooh, what an interesting rock!" then walk over, pick it up, and examine it closely with a Mark I eyeball in, what, 30 seconds? It takes days if not weeks for a Mars rover to do the same thing."

          Did I not already cover this argument? Robot missions are done for a tiny tiny fraction of the payload and cost of human missions. They have to conserve and go slow precisely because they are not given the funding, resources, or payload size that the human mi

      • >what "new forms of propulsion and energy" should we wait for?

        We could be much better off with laser launchers and second-generation NERVA designs. Once to orbit, all sorts of possibilities open up if you have a working model of the high-thrust ion drive from Dr. Roger Walker's team.
    • Killing manned exploration for a few decades would free billions we could use to learn about the places we wish to visit in the future.
      The space race between the Soviets and the US was great for jumpstarting space exploration, but what humans do in space (other then personally experience it) can be automated.
      We are getting away from manned combat aircraft because meat in the cockpit gets tired, makes mistakes, and needs life support. Losing people damages a program far more than losing hardware, because the
      • Killing manned exploration for a few decades would free billions
        Unfortunately it would also kill public support and those billions would evaporate. Joe Sixpack gets far more excited about a man on the moon than he does about some radio telescope images, the millions of joe sixpack's out there have significant influence over the NASA budget. I'm not saying this is a good thing, but it is the current situation.
    • why not pour all that money into a program to develop new forms of propulsion and energy, and come back to spacefaring when we have a better solution?

      The problem is not that we don't have the means of propulsion to put things in space, although better means would of course be welcome. The problem is that the way we've put them together is flawed and inflexible.

      It's not like sending humans into space serves any real purpose anyway. Robots can carry out virtually everything we need to do for FAR less payload
    • Robots can't breed.

      If your goal is human colonization, then robots are mere tools to extend presence.

      Shuttle, ISS, etc will not open the solar system. Fighting over those systems (and "science") is a sideshow. It is people squabbling over a couple of rowboats, compared to the fleets that will need building. Arguing over a very small pie. NASA is not going to open the Solar System up, that can only be done by individuals and companies making the decision to go there and stay.

      There is money to be made on pass
  • by sane? (179855) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:51AM (#15372072)
    I think they are looking for new way to get the message out as to how worthwhile NASA is - eg novel marketing.

    If I had such a mechanism I'm likely to want to employ it first in the commercial field - since any idea is going to get copied pretty soon after it first appears. Thus even with IP control over the concept, NASA is going to be way down my list. Double that because there's no prize money involved, only cost.

    For instance, I might suggest allowing people to name newly discovered stars, nebula, galaxies, craters, etc. However I'm better off just doing it anyway and selling the certificates at $10 a shot.

    Mind you, on the other hand it might be worthwhile keeping an eye on submissions in case there is something that comes out that you can use in more financially interesting ways.

    • If your job was providing similar solutions (whatever the solution might be), why not suck on the government teat? Is their money different, not as good as money from private enterprise?

      I don't think NASA is looking for a simple marketing campaign. I think they're looking for a virtual community. I think they want something that would be a little like MySpace, a little like Wikipedia, with chat and forums and "fun" downloads (wallpaper, NASA ringtones, etc.)
  • by suv4x4 (956391) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:56AM (#15372093)
    Make our lifes worthwhile. Disclose the information you keep about UFO-s, aliens and the alien technologies you've reversed engineed, you sneaky bastards.

    And if all of that is just the product of some paranoid conspiracy theorists, oh well, just make it up and lie to us.

    We'll love it.
  • by c0d3h4x0r (604141) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:56AM (#15372095) Homepage Journal
    Start working on things that average people (e.g. non-scientists) can get behind.

    The shuttle program and space station may be incredibly valuable to the scientific community for research purposes, but there's nothing about it that captures the imaginations and emotions and concern of the general public. I hate to break it to NASA, but there's really nothing you can do to make average people excited about nerdy harcore scientific research.

    That's the difference between today's NASA and the old JFK-era NASA.

    You geek types out there may say, "but NASA isn't a popularity contest, it's a scientific endeavor". But you have to remember who funds NASA: ordinary taxpayers.

    • Along those lines, here's a specific idea: create a reality TV show that documents the fierce competition among potential astronaut candidates. Get people to grow familiar with and look up to astronauts once more. Show people first-hand what risky, intense, and inherently dramatic business the space program is. That's what gets people interested.

      • Something similar to this has already been done in the UK. The company behind big brother made Space Cadets [channel4.com].

        I never saw it but it looked pretty lame. Actually training them (not anybody, real potential astronauts) and sending the winner into space would be far more interesting.

  • by maird (699535) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:58AM (#15372100) Homepage
    Most people are aware of many NASA space programs. Hardly anyone appears to be aware of NASA's aeronautics programs. You get the occasional show on the Discovery Channel but that's it. I liked the one about control an aircraft in three axes using thrust only (the project was inspired by the Sioux City DC-10 crash).
  • Why not... (Score:2, Funny)

    by n0dna (939092)
    Why not contact the Jim Henson corporation to see about having Kermit and Gonzo teach a couple of classes to the new guys?

              They could cover complex scientific concepts like "Near and Far", "Toward and Away", and maybe even "Counting to 10 in Metric".

              Couldn't hurt...
  • by argoff (142580) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @11:04AM (#15372114)
    Please, this is not a troll. I renember reading that back in the 70's, somebody got a bunch of companies together to try and buy an unused Atlas rocket from the government and form a private space program - NASA killed it. Do I even need to mention the cost and problems with the space shuttle, or the meter to feet conversion disaster of the mars mission, or the lenzing error on the hubble telescope. The simple truth is that by being there, they make it so that nobody else in private enterprise wants to act. For chrissake, why did a private millionaire space tourists need to go to Russia? Why did the X-prize happen without NASA at all? The writing has been on the wall for a long time, the future of space is here and it is not NASA.

    Killing NASA will not kill the geniuses who work at NASA, all it will do is shut down the bureauocrats while the talent finds ways to be applied thru the rest of the private market.
    • Of course it won't kill the geniuses at NASA - they're practically gone already. NASA is mostly a corporate welfare program, and the actual civil service staff is made up almost exclusively of project and contract managers. Oh, sure, there are some scientists there, too, but they're really just to keep all the managers in a job.
    • by alveraan (945484)
      Come on, shutting down NASA to let private companies take over will probably bring benefits in terms of human space flight, commercial science in weightlessness to produce, say, new synthetics,... and space tourism.

      But it would kill the thing that - for me - is the biggest archivement of NASA: space science. Forget probes to the solar system, cosmology using satellites or the origins program, because that doesn't produce money. If comanies would exist for the benefit of all, you'd be right. But they aren't,
      • But it would kill the thing that - for me - is the biggest archivement of NASA: space science. Forget probes to the solar system, cosmology using satellites or the origins program, because that doesn't produce money.

        Question: Why should space science be funded separately from the National Science Foundation?

        If comanies would exist for the benefit of all, you'd be right. But they aren't, they exist primarily for making money.

        Fortunately, we also have non-profits like the Planetary Society and Mars Society.
      • Which means cheap spaceflight, which means high volume and mass production, which means private companies. I don't really care much about space science because that'll be much cheaper and easier when folk like me can afford to get into space.

        So... Kill NASA.
    • I am strictly libertarian. However, IMO NASA should've NEVER seperated from the USAF/DoD.

      The DoD has a purpose: defense. NASA doesn't really have a purpose.
    • The simple truth is that by being there, they make it so that nobody else in private enterprise wants to act.

      I don't see what is preventing private enterprises from entering the space business now. How would killing NASA further encourage them?

      Your arguments are non-sequitars. You might be right, but until you can actually argue your point, you have no way to convince me.
    • Please, this is not a troll.

      Yes, it is.

      I renember reading that back in the 70's, somebody got a bunch of companies together to try and buy an unused Atlas rocket from the government and form a private space program - NASA killed it.

      An odd claim since private companies have been buying boosters since the 1960's - and launching them.

      Do I even need to mention the cost and problems with the space shuttle, or the meter to feet conversion disaster of the mars mission, or the lenzing error on the hubble teles

  • by rabbit.johnson (970735) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @11:15AM (#15372153)
    When I worked there it was an amazing culture of self-absorbed, self-agrandizing, self-promoting bullshit artists, retired military, political appointees, and rednecks that has probably ever been assembled. It might have been funny if it weren't so painful.
  • Round-trip tickets to those who vote to continue funding space research :)
  • by no_pets (881013)
    ...Reality Television Show.
  • Highlights DVD Mail (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @11:28AM (#15372193) Homepage Journal
    NASA should send a "Highlights" DVD to every American citizen every year, right before Christmas. Which includes a free login to a NASA video site. And a summary of the ROI on NASA expenses, as well as its tiny percentage of the budget.

    I've told that to every NASA and aerospace exec I've ever met. Now I'll use the webform, too.
    • This might not be a bad idea. Imagine some poor bored kid who comes home from school every day, finding that DVD in the mail....he pops it in and hee is finding himself interested in space and science... Might not happen otherwise.

      How expensive could it be for NASA to do this? In a culture where AOL can pump out millions and millions of CD's it's be cool to see some worthwhile plastic discs being mailed about.
      • I think something like $1:DVD, including production and distribution, is close. If we send it to all 113M US households, it might cost something like $120M, or less than 0.7% of NASA's $16B budget.

        If they included space models/video as datasets for an open source framework like Celestia [celestiamotherlode.net], the return could be enormous. As usual with any well-communicated NASA program.
    • Unfortunately, if you look at past items like, oh, IMAX "Mission to MIR", you find a real snoozer. Your great DVD plan only works if NASA can produce a good DVD, and their record is hit-or-miss on this.

      There's a joke that, if NASA were trying to sell sushi, they'd market it as 'cold dead fish'.

      The best NASA videos, IMHO, are things NASA has supported but not been in charge of. Tom Hanks "From the Earth to the Moon", Sagan's "Cosmos", Morgan Freeman's "Cosmic Voyage", there's many great NASA-supported work
  • Gaming! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by flinxmeister (601654) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @11:38AM (#15372227) Homepage
    I didn't truly appreciate how hard it is to get into orbit until I played with that freeware Orbiter game (heard about it on slashdot).

    Granted, the geekiness of just flying spaceships around is not exactly compelling next to the current group of shoot 'em ups. The trick would be making something that was interesting and compelling. Get some good eye candy and the right balance of 'real' and 'fun'. Maybe there are some multiplayer possibilities.

    Think of it as "today's astronauts" instead of "todays army".
    • Another neat idea would be if something like Orbiter, World Wind, or Google Earth got regularly updated telemetry data for NASA spacecraft and probes, so you could explore them in 3D and real-time. It'd be really cool if you could track the estimated position of a probe as it entered orbit, watch a playback of a spacecraft docking with the ISS, or could explore a model of the area around the Mars rovers.
  • Considering the problems with oil and personal transportation needs, how about building that Jetson's flying car we were all promised we would be driving in the 21st century.

    Oh, and robot maids would be nice too...
  • by kimvette (919543) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @12:09PM (#15372338) Homepage Journal
    I have an idea for overhauling all of NASA, let alone just implementing an oh-so-trendy blog:

    How about firing the whole lot of politicians and PHBs and hire visionaries, pioneers, and engineers? Folks such as Burt Rutan, for example. While some would say he doesn't have the expertise to build a shuttle replacement, look at what he accomplished with minimal resources at his own company; he has designed quite a few high-performance near-stall proof aircraft (The Vari-EZ and derivatives), the Beech Starship (If I ever come into a lot of money I'd pay well over market value to own one, to keep Beech from destroying it. It's a gorgeous aircraft), several fighters, the Proteus, and of course SpaceShipOne. He bucks trends and doesn't accept status quo as the end-all, be all way of doing things. Heck, even the SpaceShipOne benefactor Paul Allen would be a great addition to NASA. And again, he does things efficiently. He'd be the ideal visionary to manage an organization such as NASA and to see that money is being spent to achieve results rather than to maintain high salaries for a select few PHBs and politicians, and spending a token amount of the allocated budget on money-pit pet projects like the ISS.
    • How about firing the whole lot of politicians and PHBs and hire visionaries, pioneers, and engineers? Folks such as Burt Rutan, for example.

      Although not quite as extreme as your proposal, NASA is currently hoping to have some of the same results with its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services [msn.com] program. A number of private companies, including the Rutan-affiliated t/Space, are competing for contracts to deliver cargo and crew to the International Space Station. If this is successful, hopefully funding for
  • Was of Bruce Willis mentioning that all NASA does is "think shit up". But now they are asking the public.
  • Space Elevator (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ukemike (956477)
    Put the shuttles in museums, I'd pay for a tour.

    Work with the Russians to contiune support of the ISS.

    Pour all new research money into developing the technologies to build the space elevator. This is the only way in our reach that can make space cost effective. We'll need much longer carbon nanotubes, a good solution for climbing the cable, and a way to bring an appropriate anchor into orbit. Get to it guys I'm getting old fast and I want a ride once you've finnished.
    • Space elevator fanboys never cease to amaze me. Gotta wonder if they ever stop and look at reality, or, if they live totally in that little fantasy world ?

      Take a look at what's required to build a space elevator. First off, a material is required that's an order of magnitude stronger than anything we can create today. Sure, nanotubes have potential, but, they aren't there, and they are a LONG ways from practical. Next, we need a propulsion system that's an order of magnitude more efficient than anythi

  • SUN, BABY! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Naomi_the_butterfly (707218) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @12:42PM (#15372424)
    OOH! OOH! Let's, like, send a rocket to the SUN!
  • Here's my list (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kahrytan (913147)

    Promote NASA via TV Commercials the highlighting archievements NASA has done. Promote US Space Camp to kids and adults. It is a great way to get more people interested into becoming an astronaut. Develop a business plan and start turning a serious multi-billion dollar profit. Use the billions of dollars from profits to continue research without fear of budget cuts from the Federal government.

    • Re:Here's my list (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ThePopeLayton (868042)
      It is a great way to get more people interested into becoming an astronaut
      I don't think the problem stems from a lack of interest, rather it is a problem of possibilities. Ask any child in elementary school if they would like to be an astronaut. I am certain that 99% would say yes. Ask any college student if they would like to be an astronaut and 99% would say yes. Ask those same college students if they are willing do sell their souls first to the Airforce and then play the gambling game of never gettin
      • Ask those same college students if they are willing do sell their souls first to the Airforce and then play the gambling game of never getting picked and less then 1% would say yes. The problem is not that people are not interested, the problem is it too hard to get involved with the space program, only the best of the best of the military get to be astronauts.
        Which fails to explain the half the astronaut corps which has no military background whatsoever.
    • I dont think NASA is allowed to turn a profit. I think all their innovations are de-facto public domain or something like that.
  • I think NASA could benefit from seeing science from a new angle.

    For starters, let us consider the structure of time... [timecube.com]

  • You want some good PR for your program? How trying something different and new, like a base on the moon. People got behind the moon landing because it was challenging and daring. While yet another satelite or deep space probe is of considerable economic or scientific value, it is lacking when it comes to capturing the public imagination. A space staion with hydroponics farms and a big rotating wheel for artificial gravity, is something that will get folks excited, figure out a way to have a visitor's center
  • well if Gary McKinnon [slashdot.org] can get in your system after smoking a lot of cannabis at the time [theregister.co.uk]
    i'd say they need to hire some new I.T. staff
  • The real story (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Some Pig! (103985)
    What's not getting mentioned in this light-hearted article, or the commentary, is the disastrous 2007 NASA budget [olimu.com]. The idiotic "Vision for Space Exploration" coming out of the White House has made honest defenders of NASA's science initiative look like fools for declaring that science would not be cut. Well, it wasn't cut, it was eviscerated [planetary.org].
  • Let's build a star...and I mean a big star...that will produce a...a laser beam...and I mean a BIG BEAM...let's call it... The Death Star(TM)...and that way we can plast teRRist planets to dust...I'll be in charge of the project...my name is Darth Vader...I have a cool lightsaber too...wanna see????

    Darth Vader
  • Here's some guys and gals [scaled.com] who may have an idea or two for ya, NASA.
  • 1) Invent much faster form of propulsion than that currently commonly in use, which also does not involve oil/fossil fuel.

    2) Design spacecraft that has some reasonable assurance of not randomly exploding in midair.

    3) Do not adhere purely to the advice/perspectives/belief systems of "mainstream" scientists when attempting to solve the above, as solutions to above problems do exist, but mainstream scientists have vested interests in making sure you don't find them, because if you start using said solutions, t
    • As long as we're dreaming, someone send them Bill Hicks' suggestion:

      Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.

      hey, it's worth a shot.
  • NASA should start process of ending the players carrier and moving into a carrier of a couch. Current monolithic structure needs to be "modularised" for interworking with other private and government parties interested in activities in or about outer space. Today there is a lot of interested and rich investors eager to get into space business. NASA should become something like space businesses launchpad - providing education (=SPAACE... ACADEMY!= - Navigation, Space Vessel Design and Manufacturing, Structur

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