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A solution will be found for the manned flights

However, Europe will not develop a vehicle for a manned launch, and will be content with scientific contributions and the construction of components and cargo spacecraft

Laurie Garber, Deputy Head of NASA, presents a gift to Minister of Science Daniel Hershkowitz at the opening event of the 2011 Space Conference. Photo: Avi Blizovsky
Laurie Garber, Deputy Head of NASA, presents a gift to Minister of Science Daniel Hershkowitz at the opening event of the 2011 Space Conference. Photo: Avi Blizovsky

A solution to the problem of manned flights will be found in the period after the shuttle. This is what the head of the European Space Agency, Jean-Jacques Durdin, and the deputy head of NASA, Lori Gerber, say to the question of the science site.

However, at the press conference at the XNUMXth Ilan Ramon International Space Conference yesterday in Herzliya, the head of the European Space Agency said that Europe will not develop a manned launch vehicle, and will be content with scientific contributions and the construction of components and cargo spacecraft.

NASA is currently preparing the budget for 2012 together with the Congress and the White House, in which we will begin to see the first results of the cooperation with the industry. This is what the Deputy Head of NASA Lori Garber says at a press conference held as part of the XNUMXth Ilan Ramon International Astronaut Conference organized by the Ministry of Science and the Fisher Institute.

In response to the science website's question about what will happen the day after the shuttles, Garber answers: "The US plans to work in cooperation with our industry, we at NASA have been working with them for 50 years and more, 85% of NASA's budget goes to paying subcontractors. We want to help develop the industry so that it can make a living from other sources as well and not just from NASA. The launches from the USA will continue but we will purchase seats from this capacity at a fixed price and not at the cost plus price as is done today. This will free us resources with which we can do the most difficult things, do new things for the benefit of the human race, for example fly beyond low earth orbit and the rest of Cutting Edge Exploration"

Following this question, we also asked Jean-Jacques Dordin, head of the European Space Agency (ESA), whether Europe is planning manned flights and his answer was: "We are always happy to help NASA. We do not know if a vehicle will be developed to launch humans. I don't know for two reasons. First because of budget constraints. The member states prefer science and services, and the meaning is that we are part of the manned flight system and will remain, but not first priority as launchers.

Second - I'm not sure we need a European launch vehicle. We work with our partners on common policies. The launch cost is the highest, 50% of any space program including the station. Even after the shuttles we will still have access to the space station via Russian launchers. It's not good because it's always better to have a backup. In the past there was no launch policy and as a result the system is not optimal. The shuttle is already aging, and we will be dependent on the Russians until NASA's commercial venture succeeds. We developed a cargo spacecraft and so did the Japanese. We will define the rules together, define common interfaces, then we will see who brings what and that we have a common policy. I am not sure that this system will be a European system. This is not a decision of ESA but of all partners. If everyone wants a manned launch system, I'll make sure to get the money."

As for the space station, the two are convinced that its member states will approve its budget at least until 2020 and the threat of shutdown will be removed as early as 2015, which is literally tomorrow morning in terms of the space program. Garber: "We have a plan for the near and medium future of robotic and manned launches. I mentioned the policy of launching into low orbit that will go into private hands. We are learning to work and live in space, we have been doing this continuously for over ten years, this is something that needs to be financed beyond 2015, at least until 2020. In addition to this, we are developing launchers for deep space and launchers for crew members. When we pay less for manned launches to low orbit, we can invest in a manned launch to an asteroid in 2025 and to Mars in the mid-thirties."

Dordin: "I confirm what Lori said. We are partners in the space station and it is a high priority. I estimate that it will be extended because the equipment can operate until 2028. The station is an excellent laboratory for the future, how to work together. These days we manage massive traffic to the station. The Japanese arrived at the station a few days ago with, in the middle of February we will arrive with a cargo spacecraft, Soyuz is also expected to arrive within a few weeks and the shuttle. A total of four launches are expected within a month. We are collaborating with NASA in exploring Mars with robots. The first two missions will be in 2016 and 2018. We need to do this together, not alone. We depend on others. But it is not a disability. It's just a matter of who can bring what out of the partners. 50% of the modules in the station were built in Europe. We are much smaller than NASA. . The station will be there at least until 2020. The moon will also be there for another 5 billion years, if we get there five years later."

In response to a question from Oded Avraham, editor of the Israel Astronomical Society's website, regarding the possibility of a second Israeli astronaut, Garber said that the shuttle program is nearing completion and there are only three more shuttle flights. We want to continue, but we will do so in the framework of purchasing seats from private companies, and in cooperation with international parties, and in this framework Israel will surely be able to integrate.

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