NASA and its international aeronautical cohorts have some serious explaining to do before they start rocketing folks to the Moon again. They better convince the public why it's so important for our species to invest hand-over-fist just to root around some boring gray orbital dust ball - a dust ball we already stuck a flag in a …
isn't the ISS enough of an example?
Let's do experiments in space. Extend our knowledge, push back the frontiers.
What happened? Well almost no science, for a kick-off. The space station is just about able to keep going - although there have been scares which almost led to it's abandonment. It seems to have no purpose anymore, except to provide missions for the scuttle - which in turn only exists to service the space station.
If we were to do it all again (would we, should we?), knowing what we do about the cost, time and outcomes, what would humanity decide? Go for it or spend the money elsewhere.
If we've learned anything from the ISS programme it's that the lofty goals of the scientists easily get subverted, downgraded or simply cancelled when political expediency, short-term thinking and budgets get cut. Going to the moon - possibly to stay, would be vastly more expensive. Can we say that the benefits to the human race would be worth it and more importantly, that they'd be delivered?
Can LunatIQs* Help?
""Because of the way the universe works, the story of human life is a story of extinction," said Paul Spudis of the Lunar and Planetary Institute (and half-empty guy when it comes to the cosmic ballet apparently).
"It's not a matter of if, but when."
I agree, on all three counts. ;-)
""Our imaginations typically aren't good enough to forecast what we'll see in exploration," said Spudis." ..... I Disagree, Spudis. And would Bet the Planets on IT, for of course, they would at least be Involved..
* An AIQ available from the NIRobotIQ ICQ Range..... and Virtually Silent Running.
Ca IRa and Welcome to ITs Real dDeep Cool Waters...... and Gravitational Waves and ElectroMagnetic Pulses.
CyberSpace, the NeuReal Frontier with Pit Fall Barriers for the Imposter Poster.... IP Thief ...... Mole
19 or 39?
"a dust ball we already stuck a flag in a full score and 19 years ago."
Ahem, surely you mean 39 years ago?
The next time you go out at night, look up at the sky and take a really good look. Assuming that it's not cloudy, and the light pollution doesn't spoil it, you should see a sight that has fascinated men for millenia.
What are they - what's happening there. These are the questions that we want to know the answers to.
For those that say robot craft or telescopes are enough, I would say do you just read the catalogues in the travel shop, or do you actually want to go to the places that you read about?
Yes, there are problems that need solving here on Earth and I wouldn't deny that these have to be dealt with. But the universe is a wonderful, wondrous place and we should be trying to push ourselves to explore as much as we can.
So let's go straight to Mars, not to the Moon?
"Been there done that" is a reason not to go back to the Moon?
Well, I dunno. Seems to me to be a damn GOOD idea to go back to the Moon until we can do it in a straightforward manner - and only then think about Mars....
If I were going to try crossing Niagara Falls on a tightrope, I think I'd practice on something a bit easier first....
The moon's been around longer than that and Apollo returned with mineral grains almost eight times older than that.
Has to be permanent
The $200Bn ISS, the marvellous, technological wonder it is will be ditched into the ocean in about 10 years time with little to show for it, and what then? Will they build yet another space station or is that a bit too 20th century now?
I've often tried to find out what actually goes on up there but I'm sure that all they've discovered is how to build a space station and how to live in one.
If they have another brief visit to the Moon or take an Apollo-esque trip to Mars it will be nothing more than a vast money spending exercise struggling to justify itself. The next big project has to be putting people, permanently into space, if building a Moon base puts them a step forward to achieving that then great, if not then no thanks.
It is worth noting that after the Apollo programme had been cancelled the money was simply absorbed into everything else, no-one had a tax cut or anything beneficial.
Re: 19 or 39?
I'd explain this but I'm sure 20 commenters will do it better in a matter of seconds.
Oh come on
"NASA and its international aeronautical cohorts have some serious explaining to do before they start rocketing folks to the Moon again."
A "score" is 20 as in "Three score years and ten" meaning 70.
So "a score and 19" is 39 :-)
Re 19 or 39
Austin did say "a full score and 19 years ago", which is 20+19.
It was meant to echo the opening lines of the Gettysburg Address.
We must allow our colonial cousins a little poetic licence now and again.
@Has to be permanent
"I've often tried to find out what actually goes on up there but I'm sure that all they've discovered is how to build a space station and how to live in one."
They do a lot of medical science stuff. I will say this, I think NASA has a fantastic website. Here's their main page for station science:
Now bare in mind that RIGHT NOW, there are three people on the station who have a lot of construction work and stuff.
Real soon now that phase is going to be over with the Shuttle retirement, they're going to double the crew to six and they'll be doing a lot more research.
And, realistically, they'll probably just extend it's lifetime. Mir got extended almost a decade past it's "warranty". Most of the hardware for ISS is "expected" to last a lot longer than any of the Mir hardware was.
I would find it extremely bizarre and unprecedented if they actually deorbit it in 10 years.
Re: 19 or 39?
Come on man!
Surely you remember the iconic speech by Abe Lincoln that begins "Four score and seven years ago..."
A score is a set of twenty of something...
So a score of years = 20 years...
"a full score and 19 years ago" = 39 years!
Do your research!
@Sarah: We do but only your wishes!
to explore space you would probaly need to update a old dos star calculator and create nano degrees
I vote for cheaper transport into space
Noddy's guide to rockets: Burn 1% of your fuel so you can shove it out the back very fast. A tenth of it was used to accelerate your fuel tank. Far less was used to accelerate you payload. Nearly nine tenths was used to accelerate the rest of your fuel in the wrong direction (the proportion gets lower as you run out of fuel).
Air would make a good propellant for the first stage to orbit. It has the great advantage that it is not moving very fast in the wrong direction. Bad new is it needs a power source to do anything useful. A nuclear powered air breathing engine would not need the enormous fuel tanks that you see on current rockets. If you are not brave enough to put a nuclear power plant on a rocket, cook it with microwaves from space.
An orbital micro-wave powered air breathing engine would drop the costs of getting to low earth orbit considerably. Bad news is the kit required is hefty, and requires assembly in orbit. Thanks to the space station, people now have some experience of construction in space. Building out of moon rocks and dropping it down might be cheaper than lifting the kit from Earth.
I am sure some Americans can think of other uses for kit that can send megwatts of microwaves at a fast moving (or stationary) target, and the ones I am thinking about have money to burn.
The information on the moon is all very interesting (to me anyway), but the moon also has the raw materials to get people to the asteroids and Mars cheaper than sending everything direct from Earth. That might sell the idea better than information about the past - at least to people who do not understand how much investment would be required.
Reasons for the ISS
I hear a lot about the science being done on the ISS, and whilst I would like there to be great breakthroughs due to the endeavour, in my mind it's not the biggest benefit it's given to us.
I think the fact that it's a focal point between nations, that allows countries who are in other ways unable to work together to get together.
US, Russia, Europe, Japan, Canada and the rest have at least one project where they actually help each other, this in the long run can only be a good thing.
On a smaller scale, Europe, the Jules Vern was a European venture, not just UK, or France or Spain, but the whole of Europe contributed to it's creation, teaching much needed engineering skills and inspiring bonds between countries.
I don't think this is a universal answer to world peace, but it can't hurt. *
The science in my mind is secondary (although still important)
Heart for obvious hippie based reasons
* At least until we start fitting the thing with big Lasers!
We need to pwn the moon
If we stick to orbital stuff, everything needs to be lifted out of Earth's full-fat gravity well. That's expensive. If we can get some mining and materials processing setup on the moon, there's only 1/6th of the gravity that you need to overcome to lift things into orbit, so it makes sense to get raw materials (steel would be a good start) from the moon and just lift the electronics -and tricky bits that you need a wide industrial base for- from earth. It makes sense in the not-very-long term.
Once you have industry on the moon, that gives you the platform to certainly make use of the solar system, if not beyond quite yet.
Or we could just sit here in our one basket -use the money to fund Botswanan farmers or what ever the cause is this week- and wait for extinction. There will come a point (opinion varies on exactly when) when all the resources we produce will be needed to maintain the population; and we will have lost the option.
Costs and benefits of space exploration
I often hear complaints about the cost of space exploration (initially it looked like this article was going down that route). Based on the research I've done every dollar spent on space exploration has returned 3-7 dollars to the world economy. A lot of the computer technology we enjoy today can say a big thank you to the American space program.
Let's boost space research which has had huge positive knock-on effects around the world, and cut back on making bombs. Seems pretty simply eh?
Space, the final frontier
It's easier to build the Enterprise in space than in Earth! ;)
Truly the "Mars is more interesting" camp haven't thought that by setting a permanent moon base, we're actually setting a milestone for the actual Mars trip! As someone else mentioned, I'd rather master the Earth-Moon trip before going further away.
Moreover, the Mars manned missions did point out something about building the Mars-bound spaceship in space, then sending it on its way. The Moon looks like a better place to do something like that.
And that "better things like war, hunger, climate change" argument is trite. There is far more money being spent in *doing* war than space exploration; this directly causes hunger. Stop spending in war, funnel all that into other needs and you'll get the problem solved!
Ged orrrf moi land!
I do hope if they decide to return to the moon I will be able to collect ground rent from my acre of moon land should the lander descend there.
Ha Ha to all those doubters who said it was a wasted investment!
Moon Base Alpha
What ever they do they better not build Moon Base Alpha otherwise we will loose the moon.
(for those without a clue.... Space 1999. A TV series)
Playground needs new toys
NASA is like kids who get bored with their toys and want to play with new ones.
The problem with the moon and mars toys is they are likely to cost billions to trillions of dollars.
And honestly, not too many other people get much enjoyment out of watching them play with the toys.
I am more in favor of projects like SpaceShipOne. If you people want to go play around in space, do it with your own $$$.
Because it's there!
Of course we should return to the moon! Humans have always needed to explore and expand their boundaries. If Columbus hadn't made the then seemingly pointless voyage across the Atlantic and if the pilgrims hadn't settled America, we wouldn't have.....hmm....hang on a minute....hmm....
A full score + 19 = 39. Score comes from the Norse word "skor" which means 20. So a "full score" is 20, unless it happens in extra time, is on a triple letter score, or is a no score draw. A full score in music is about 108 bars. A score in a single(s) bar is generally worth more, unless you've drunk too much beer to really know the score, or if you've managed to score some coke. I hope that's helped to settle that score.
Project Orion (nuclear propulsion)
@halfcut: "There will come a point (opinion varies on exactly when) when all the resources we produce will be needed to maintain the population; and we will have lost the option."
Nope! When things get tight, we just say stuff messing around with small loads and use Project Orion (nuclear propulsion).
Put a skyscraper on the moon in one fell swoop.
"the Orion design would work by dropping fission or thermonuclear explosives out the rear of a vehicle, detonating them 200 feet (60 m) out, and catching the blast with a thick steel or aluminum pusher plate."
Paris because (obviously) she likes things to be tight...
This is all crap
Until the issue of radiation damage to human tissue and DNA is solved, the notion of traveling outside the earth-moon orbit is unfeasable. There is no way, at this time to protect human astronauts in interstellar travel.
You might not know if you are British and did not study American history.
When I was at school I studied mostly about the native Americans and JFK getting bumped off by his government colleagues (yes I do believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was one of the gunman but that there was a CIA sharpshooter on the grassy knoll who finsihed the job so Oswald was just a decoy)
Posted anonymously because the CIA can get you anywhere.
I agree wih a new moon mission
Humanity has one goal at this point
and that is to create Jean Luc Picard and a ship for him to ride arround in. come on folks, we only have about 400 years to work with here. we gotta get the lead out.
Seriously, we should be less worried about exactly what type of number crunching we can do to calculate the density of dust on the moon. we need to just focus on living there. the more obscure science can wait until we have a summer house up there.
Re: 'Because it's there!' and 'new toys', etc
Scratcher shoots... SCOOOOOOORE! ;-)
For those who say "first solve the problems here", let's tally what the space program and all those $$$ have given us. Upon close examination we'll see that, in some cases, there is a direct benefit to humanity from space exploration. Someone's already mentioned computers. But what about all the OTHER microelectronics we've come to know and love? How about pretty much EVERYTHING with a microchip - from video games to your programmable household thermostat. All that was a result of miniaturization made necessary by the needs of the space program. Or how about heart pacemakers? At least three of my elderly relatives have these to keep the ol' ticker running. Again, miniaturization brought about by the needs of space exploration. Then, of course there's satellite TV, GPS, etc, etc, ad nauseum.
The list is nearly endless. Yes, space exploration is dangerous and costs grillions of $$$. However, in the light of real and tangible benefits gained, I'd say it's money well spent. The coolness factor is, in my opinion, merely frosting on top.
Yes, we have problems here on our little blue-green ball. We likely always will. That shouldn't stop us from trying to improve ourselves and our condition in every way possible.
To boldly go...
where only 12 men have been before...
Actually for those who endlessly bleat on about solving poverty , etc etc consider this
NASA gets 16 billion US dollars a year, convert that into pounds and it would keep our welfare state going for about 3 weeks, that money would keep the US's welfare system going for about 2 days
I'm no great NASA fan, but...
"NASA is like kids who get bored with their toys and want to play with new ones."
is probably the wordiest rendering of "I have no idea what I'm talking about" I've seen all week.
Re: Can LunatIQs* Help?
Yes, of course they can. amfM, have you never met the Association of Autonomous Astronauts? I think they'd be right up your street/planet/galaxy/dimension!
John Carpenter is all crap
>"There is no way, at this time to protect human astronauts in interstellar travel"
Yes there is, there are plenty of them. Lead shielding would be insanely heavy stuff to send up, but it would work just as well in space as it does on Earth.
Even better, though: if you're sending astronauts on a long space journey, they're going to need some fairly substantial water supplies (even allowing for recycling) - and water makes great shielding against cosmic rays. Build all the water tanks into the outer hull of your spacecraft and the interior will be nicely shielded.
"Based on the research I've done every dollar spent on space exploration has returned 3-7 dollars to the world economy"
Well I don't know about everyone else but I'm convinced. Are you by any chance an author on Wikipedia! :op
@ Humanity has one goal
If you are going to create a crew person from Star Trek, bugger Jean Luc Picard ( if you like) Personally I would go for Seven of Nine with or without the spray on uniform.
As far as going to the moon? Of course we should, we should never have stopped going there. By now there really could have been a base and some serious research being done. Under zero or low gravity there is a lot of interesting science and engineering that can be done that is impossible on earth. Crystalline structures in metallurgy and materials science for one comes to mind. Space exploration gave us so many new technologies before and it will again.
"It is worth noting that after the Apollo programme had been cancelled the money was simply absorbed into everything else, no-one had a tax cut or anything beneficial."
Actually, the Apollo program was cancelled--with a couple more missions already slated and the Saturn rockets for them already built--in order to divert money into the Viet Nam war effort.
So, which expenditure would have benefitted us more, do you think? Seems like a no-brainer to me...
Honestly, given the amount of money we're flushing down the toilet fighting an expensive and ultimately pointless war in Iraq, the comparative dribble of change--less than that needed to finance a few weeks' worth of overseas misadventures--that it'll cost to return to the moon seems like a damn good bargain to me.
@Boris the Cockroach
...and the folks here on the left want to expand our welfare system...
manned space program benefits
I grew up watching Commando Cody, Jet Jackson, the Mercury and Gemini flights, Fireball XL-5, Star Trek, and the Apollo missions. Although all of that stirred and inspired me, rational discussion of manned space program benefits needs to be based on something other than nostalgia.
My impression is that "space program technology" is mostly engineering, not basic science, and that most of it was based on military prior art, not NASA pioneering from scratch. The basic science and technology had already been worked out in military programs from the V-2 to the Redstone and Atlas boosters, as well as commercial efforts like the the AM transistor radio: Frankie Valli wailing "Sherry" over the first shirt-pocket transistor radios did more to promote the miniaturization of electronics than Sputnik ever did.
As for computers, the space program has lagged, rather than led the way. This is entirely appropriate, since you want reliable rather than flashy technology in outer space.
Although there were some basic science discoveries attributable to non-military space programs (the van Allen radiation belt, Hubble imaging, cosmic ray measurements etc.), most of this could arguably have been accomplished without ever putting anybody in orbit.
It seems, therefore, that the manned space program was vastly oversold in terms of its tangible benefits to the taxpaying public except for TANG, the convenient orange-flavored sugar beverage beloved of our heroic astronauts. (The fact that "tangible" begins with TANG will not be lost on conspiracy theorists.)
The real motives for the manned space program probably lie in secret military missions piggybacked on an ostensibly public program and convenient excuses to funnel ever more dollars into the military-industrial complex.
If some people enjoy the show while their pockets are picked, I suppose that's more pleasant than my depressing alternative. But I also believe that the truth will make you free, rendering truth all that more precious in an increasingly unfree world.
re: Playground needs new toys
Not really. They want more budget.
Remember folks, NASA a an **administration**, run by administrators for administrators. Their power/fun/egorub comes from playing with vast project and vast sums of money. Actual scientific output is of lesser concern.
"It's a witness to 500 million years of history and preserves it."
Haha, very funny, if it wasn't for the fact y'all be burning in Hell for this. Every intelligent, open minded person knows that it can't be more than 6,000 years old!
Why the rush?
"It's a witness to 500 million years of history and preserves it. Further exploration and study of the moon may have major implications in our understanding of how the solar system evolved."
Apart from the age being wrong, I'm sure it'll still be be in good nick in a few tens or hundreds of years when we've developed a better way of getting to it.
What I need to know
Is how any of this culminates in my own personal X-Wing. Show me that and I'll sign off on whatever you want, beit the Moon, Mars, or whatever.
What I do know is that if all you have to show me after spending a kagillion dollars is moon water and space amoeba, the moon water better cure cancer or make people fly and you better not call space amoeba alien life.
If it doesn't have six antenna, make silly beep-beep noises and supplies every human with a light sabre, blaster and a first class ticket to Alpha Centuri, you don't have permission to call it anything other than spit in a bucket.
Climate change? Hungry children? Poverty? Disease? Screw that, I say restart the game and level our culture from scratch with the benefit of hindsight. I'm sure there's a planet out there that's basically one big Hawaii, tastefully decorated with the best hotels aliens can buy and has free parking space for 20 billion humans.
The Moon is not Enough, May Actually be Too Much
The reason NASA doesn't want to go to the moon because the first thing that people are going to be looking for is the Lunar Landing which never happend.
how quickly they forget
Mass driver, remember? You put it on the Moon, it hurls rocks to a point such as L5, you build space colonies including giant solar collectors that beam microwaves down to the Earth's surface where collector farms turn them into electricity for the grid.
Yeah we used to take stuff like that seriously back in the day, when engineers were allowed to build stuff like the Saturn 5 and climatologists did not yet fill people with a sense of weary fatalism.
Your all nerds of starwars, current technology would allow for a nuclear powered shuttle that in theory would look like those in armergeden, so there would be no real need for moonbase, and would be able to create a primitive navsystem with a 3d star calculator for when hyperdrive arrives you can calculate thrust/distance/arrival star possition and plot path captain, with no stars visible when in space. And a rotation hubble dropping from a bay
We need to establish a Moon presence first and then Mars.
My own Very brief initial reply to a previous post:Yes, Nasa is an administration, but they do good actual space science experiments, and a great many medical developments also.
Main two points: 1) Yes, space science is expensive & and the money that goes to it could've (always) been used for other (~better?) uses on good ole spaceship Earth, but there are always a great deal of ways that humanity will be wiped off the face of the earth eventually as a result of either any of several viruses capable of becoming a pandemic & wiping out up to 98% of human race, global warming changing the entire food chain from the bottom up, asteroid Apofice in 2036, Yellowstone caldera ( 40+ KM wide supervolcano) also capable of wiping out 80% of human race, etc. .The ways for a globally massive casualty of the human race will continue to be a danger unless we diversify ourselves as a race. It's cynicism yes, but take it seriously.
It's very much like a company/corporation with massive assets vitally important to it's well being. Should it have all of it's data & equipment only at it's home site, or should it have equipment elsewhere when the onsite servers fail due to power/fire/mechanical failures? Same type of thinking. We either protect the human race by getting some of us off the face the earth & get started on it, or die as a species. Forever. After something super horrible happens, such as one of above which in one stroke wipes out nearly 80+ % of the human race, all of our funding towards poverty, hunger, and disease prevention will just be so very much worth it instead of doing all we can to make certain of the viability of the continuation of the human race. If we don't do that, we don't deserve to survive as a race past the next global catastrophe.
2) Even if the US drops the military budget down to 1% of current expenditure, other countries won't do the same. Sure, the government 'could' cut out the military war budget, tell the other countries where the US has foreign bases that it's coming back onto own shores, cut off all 10's of BN of $ of funding to Africa & other idiotic countries that are so corrupt that they need our help to find their own 'whatever'. What Happens then to the rest of the world when we do that though afterwards???
Something to think about....
Green ways to orbit.
If I'm not mistaken, it's been demonstrated that taking off like a plane and flying to a cruising altitude before actually boosting into space saves a fair amount of fuel. It can also be performed with less expensive fuel, as I understand it.
Now, admittedly, IIRC, we've had a grand total of one such demonstration, which nearly ended in disaster, with no immediate resolution of the issue involved. However, I feel confident with a bit of study we could learn enough to be able to do it safely in the future.
This is a common Myth. The Russians respond to it by saying that if the Americans never went, they (the Russians) would have told the world.
The moon may be able to give us a potential new energy source (Helium-3). We should explore and learn and the consequence is better science.
Also do not forget there is a traffic jam building up as the Russians and Chinese have moon programs on the table too. It would be wonderful if the next generation of moon exploration is a truly international collaboration.
@Green ways to orbit
That's been done numerous times. Off the top of my head: the commercial Pegasus launch vehicle, the USAF's ASM-135 anti-satellite missile.
Fuel advantages aren't that big of a deal. The main advantages include a cheap & reusable first stage, the ability to deploy anywhere, freedom from weather delays and (or so I'm told) cheaper insurance.
Also, don't start throwing around the word "green" here. Most of the pollution probably comes from manufacturing everything and probably correlates with the cost of the rocket. Many launch vehicles such as the space shuttle use LOX & hydrogen fuel which produces WATER as a byproduct.
Of course manufacturing hydrogen isn't very "green".
Bottom line, it's a lot more complicated than less fuel = better. We're not talking about cars here.
@ Boris the Cockroach / Spend wisely
Quote: "To boldly go... "
OMG! You split an infinitive! You must die, you heretic!
As to the cost of another manned moonshot programme, it might be more useful to spend the money on an effective system to detect large meteorites and asteroids and to develop ways of dealing with them. At present we have neither - and one thing science has demonstrated is that a major impact is a case of 'when' not 'if'.
A century ago, a meteorite fell over Tunguska in Siberia and burst in the atmosphere with an explosive force roughly one thousand times greater than the Hiroshima or Nagasaki bombs. Imagine what that would've done to London or Moscow or NYC (no jokes about improving Liverpool, please).
Or, of course, we could spend the money on any one of half a hundred beneficial areas of scientific research. Elimination of famine, anyone? Who's up for an alternative to oil? Cure for cancer take your fancy? No? OK, let's go to the moon, stick another Stars and Stripes on it then forget it for a further full score years and 19.*
*That's 39 for the hard-of-learning - just doing your bidding, Sarah.