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back to article Forget Mars: Let's get someone on the Moon – NASA veteran

The retired NASA chief who sent the first American astronaut into space has said the agency should give up on Mars and focus on putting another astronaut on the Moon. Chris Kraft, who was NASA's first ever flight director before becoming a senior manager on the Apollo programme – the US project dedicated to "landing a man on the …

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Lets go!!

Of course, going to the moon and setting up a factory would be in direct contradiction to Armstrong's claims that we were told to stay away from it by the aliens...

Personally: I saw screw the aliens, its our moon.

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Coat

" we were told to stay away from it by the aliens..."

... I thought that was Europa?

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Coat

Re: screw the aliens

Remember to wear a condom, Space Clap is nasty...

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Anonymous Coward

I wonder

If the Chinese are going to be the first people to stand on the moon?

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Alien

Re: Lets go!!

Yeah, astronauts are such dumb uneducated hillbillies, aren't they? If they said the aliens told us not to come back, they must have been eating too much pizza, right? Who could believe such a story from such mountain clucks anyway?

At least, that's the attitude of some of you who wouldn't believe that aliens were on the moon even if you were given a personal ride there and given a tour of the place by a 3 foot tall grey, and given some souvenirs of the visit. You'd come back and claim it must have been a nightmare and do everything possible to explain away your souvenir.

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Re: Lets go!!

>even if you were given a personal ride there and given a tour of the place

You got the tour?

>and do everything possible to explain away your souvenir

And a souvenir?

What did Tonto say about the trip?

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Joke

Re: Lets go!!

According to Gary Larson, "Kemosabe: Apache expression for a horse's rear end . . ."

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Re: I wonder

They ARE putting a lot of effort in to their space program. They are also the only entity that has stated a formal space plan that includes the moon.

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Alien

A solar cell factory on the moon...

I'd *love* to see a permanent industrial base on the moon - if only because the gravity well is so much shallower than the earth's (Yes Manny; we can throw rocks) - but I'm not sure what the advantage is of the moon over any number of hot sunny deserts already available and a quarter million miles nearer to ship the coulombs once they're generated.

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Re: A solar cell factory on the moon...

The gravity well is even lower on an asteroid.

A tame asteroid will not be constantly sucking small rocks onto its surface -- and through the skin of any space station on its surface -- at tens of thousands of miles per hour. A manned station on the moon would have to have a heavily armoured skin or be deep underground to reduce the number of collisions to an acceptable amount.

So as a way station or platform for more distant missions, an asteroid would be better. Shallower gravity well, fewer micrometors to deal with.

Space-based energy stations beaming energy back to an earth station.

1. Needs a geosynchronous orbit. The moons orbit is way too high.

2. If the aiming system has a glitch you fry everyone and everything for X miles around, where X might be hundreds.

3. It might be the reason mankind goes extinct before it sets up colonies elsewhere.

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Alien

Re: A solar cell factory on the moon...

You know there is a rather popular science fiction trope where sentient beings ride asteroids. They are always the bad guys...

Good guys travel in nifty spacecraft and have terrible wardrobe choices. Bad guys ride asteroids and have kick ass uniform.

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Happy

Re: A solar cell factory on the moon...

Upvote for the Moon is A Harsh Mistress reference

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Less terrorists... (Re: A solar cell factory on the moon...)

but I'm not sure what the advantage is of the moon over any number of hot sunny deserts already available and a quarter million miles nearer to ship the coulombs once they're generated.

Lack of jihadists bent on destroying or holding to ransom your desert solar plant and the necessary thousands of kilometers of power lines?

Sadly, the desert where a major solar plant would make most sense is the northern part of Sahara, because the electricity-hungry Europe is nearby, but it is also unstable politically.

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Re: Less terrorists... (A solar cell factory on the moon...)

I can't help feeling that developing/installing/protecting earth built solar generation is an order or two of magnitude more simple than doing it on the moon. Don't forget that the same security issues will apply to any collection system on earth, with the possible exception of a *very* wide beam that is always collected locally.

A desert is not the only place to put a solar system[1], and of course there's no reason to build only one, any more than one would build only a single power station. At the very least you'd need enough so that a significant number are in sunshine at any time of the day and in any weather conditions.

I agree though that the northern Sahara makes an excellent location for Europe, if only it weren't so politically unstable. But on the other hand - southern Spain or Portugal, or southern Italy might be equally useful locations and all of those could use the improvement in their economy.

[1] you know what I mean!

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Re: Less terrorists... (The USofA...)

That maybe correct for Europe, but since we are talking about NASA and the US I would point out there is quite a large area of the US with f**k all in it apart from rocks, great sunsets, people breaking land speed records and making films about cowboys.

They also don’t have as many Jihadists as North Africa and the cost of laying all the cable might be slightly less than building a moon base.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Less terrorists... (A solar cell factory on the moon...)

And the Mojave desert in California isn't suitable because.....

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Headmaster

Re: Less terrorists... (A solar cell factory on the moon...)

FEWER!

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Re: advantage is of the moon over any number of hot sunny deserts

The only one I can see is that the environuts can't claim we'll kill any snail darters or the like when we construct the facilities on the moon.

What I don't see is a good solution for getting the energy to the surface of the Earth after it is created on the Moon. I can see using the power on the Moon for other manufacturing, but that begs the question of what are we manufacturing there. Sure I can come up with what I would consider a practical use for it, but most people wouldn't like that option. In fact they'd be rather terrified of it, so that one is off the table.

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Re: A solar cell factory on the moon...

@WatAWorld,

You missed a key point, the solar array is only generating power 14-15 days out of every 28.

The micro-asteroid problem is an issue in GSO.

You don't technically need to relay power to one point on the earth.

Transmission does have major issues.

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Re: A solar cell factory on the moon...

#The gravity well is even lower on an asteroid.#

Probably too low to be useful for anything. 1/6G may be enough to keep humans healthy. We need the health data point to give us clues as to what health problems may crop up if we go to Mars.

#A tame asteroid will not be constantly sucking small rocks onto its surface -- and through the skin of any space station on its surface -- at tens of thousands of miles per hour. A manned station on the moon would have to have a heavily armoured skin or be deep underground to reduce the number of collisions to an acceptable amount.#

A surface installation is only useful to use while a buried facility is being constructed. Decisions have to be made on how deep and what resistance to impacts the underground facilities need to be manufactured for. The venture will never be risk free no matter what the politician promise you for your vote.

Gravity is a damn useful thing. Ask any astronaut trying to get work done on the ISS.

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Re: Less terrorists... (A solar cell factory on the moon...)

#Sadly, the desert where a major solar plant would make most sense is the northern part of Sahara, because the electricity-hungry Europe is nearby, but it is also unstable politically.#

Transmission losses will make the installation uneconomic unless the power can be used locally.

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Re: Less terrorists... (A solar cell factory on the moon...)

#And the Mojave desert in California isn't suitable because.....#

I guess you haven't run into the "Save the desert tortoise" mob. They're backed by the federal government.

Fabled tortoises aside, it's not the solar plant that is difficult to get approved and built, it's the years and years of wrangling to get approvals for the transmission lines to get the power to market.

An additional complication is that the solar facility builders want free land (or long term $1 leases) from the Bureau of Land Management to site the plant. I've always thought that the best approach would be to buy the land (swatches of undeveloped desert are damn cheap) that is adjacent to existing transmission line corridors. Power could be fed in or another set of towers could be placed along side where there is already access. Too naive? I just an engineer, what do I know?

FYI: look on Google earth or maps where interstate highway 15 crosses from California to Nevada. There are three bloody huge solar towers being built that are impressive sights from the heavens above.

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Re: advantage is of the moon over any number of hot sunny deserts

#I can see using the power on the Moon for other manufacturing, but that begs the question of what are we manufacturing there.#

Manny's sales pitch was a good one. "Endless free vaccuum, no taxes, 100 proof Stoli Vodka $.50HKL/liter, no taxes". :) I love that book.

Processes that can benefit from being made on the moon are likely to include the manufacture of high value electronic devices. Pharmaceuticals. Research facilities that work with highly dangerous virii such as Ebola, marbug and SHF. Genetic research. Etc. The emphasis is on small, light and/or biologically dangerous items. The higher the value, the better as shipping is a major cost even if it is "downhill all the way".

I had the pleasure of talking with Charles Walker, an engineer from McDonald Douglas that flew on the Space Shuttle with an experiment he designed to separate proteins in microgravity. The research led to several breakthroughs that allowed the process to be worked out for use in Earth's gravity field. Mr Walker is convinced that being able to do the same sort of research in 1/6G and compare the results with the same experiments on Earth might be a valuable tool to gauge gravitational effects in chemical and biological processes. Somewhere I have an audio recording of the conversation. At least, I really hope I still have it.

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Re: advantage is of the moon over any number of hot sunny deserts

..."100 proof Stoli Vodka $.50HKL/liter, no taxes".

100 proof Bah! Here on earth you can easily distil ethanol to 95%, or 180proof (96% is the ethanol-water azeotrope). In a vacuum it would be no problem to get very near 100% (200 proof) firewater.

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Re: A solar cell factory on the moon...

YEAH... but just think of all the space rockets needed to ship the batteries back to Earth !!!

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Boffin

So, how does that work then?

How do we pipe in the wigglies? Without cooking things, that is?

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Re: So, how does that work then?

Really, really long extension lead.

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Paris Hilton

Re: So, how does that work then?

But isn't it going to be rather expensive to keep shipping the batteries between the Earth and the Moon to recharge them from the Lunar solar cells?

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Re: So, how does that work then?

A giant stick with the moon on the other end, I've always wanted one of those.

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Radiation on a trip to Mars is insurmountable at any kind of reasonable budget. Going to the moon, if we must put people into space, is the way to go.

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Only if you assume that we have to bring the people back from Mars. If it's designed and planned as a one-way trip to develop a Mars colony then the radiation issue can be ignored.

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Coat

One way trip to Mars

"If it's designed and planned as a one-way trip to develop a Mars colony then the radiation issue can be ignored."

Radiation induced mutations might even give the intrepid colonists some super powers to help them overpower and enslave the subterranean submartian underground Martian population.

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Meh

"Radiation on a trip to Mars is insurmountable at any kind of reasonable budget"

Unless of course you happen to have say a 10m thick wall already in orbit. Getting it moving is tough, but not impossible by a variety of methods.

Or NASA actually funded some research into radio-protective additives to the atmosphere or food suppliers.

Or perhaps do a bit more work on GCR other than 1 sensor in the whole Mars exploration programme.

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Boffin

Re: "Radiation on a trip to Mars is insurmountable at any kind of reasonable budget"

...Unless of course you happen to have say a 10m thick wall already in orbit. Getting it moving is tough, but not impossible by a variety of methods....

I'd be surprised if you weren't carrying a water container on the ship which was 10m in size or greater.

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How to accelerate a heavy ship economically but keep the astronauts' trip short.

Space travel is based on unreasonable budgets.

Personally I think the headlines of "man cannot make round trip to Mars due to shielding" was just a headline grabber, NASA's attempt to get back in the headlines.

Seriously, the engineers there really cannot think of a dozen ways to get the shielding?

Just off the top of my head here are four thoughts on how to get the shielding. I think method (d) is particularly interesting. Probably someone at NASA has already thought of it, but if not, it might be a good starting point. (a) to (c) are less complicated.

a) Gather up the space junk up and mash it into shielding.

b) Normally manned space vehicles recycle water, so they do not need vast quantities of it. Water for shielding is discussed as a good idea, except for the weight of getting it up there.

So why not condense water vapour from the upper atmosphere? It is part way up there already.

c) Send a robotic space vehicle to tether an iron-type asteroid and use the asteroid as shielding.

d) Send the shielding up in pieces over many months to be assembled in space.

(i) The problem is that economical acceleration in space is slow acceleration (I am thinking of ion thrusters), and with heavy shielding you need economical acceleration.

(ii) The problem with slow acceleration is that it takes too long with humans on board. We humans want a short trip (weeks or months), not a trip that lasts years.

(iii) Therefore

- Accelerate the shielded ship on a trip around the sun, maybe a few times around the sun.

- Once the heavy shielded ship is at high speed, send the crew on a ferry ship to board it.

- The ferry ship can accelerate quickly because it is only being used to shuttle to the heavy shielded ship. It can quickly reach the speed of the heavy shielded ship and transfer the crew.

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Re: How to accelerate a heavy ship economically but keep the astronauts' trip short.

"Once the heavy shielded ship is at high speed, send the crew on a ferry ship to board it."

Naturally you would plan the trajectory of the heavy shielded ship so that it would return close to earth when it was up to speed.

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Boffin

Re: "Radiation on a trip to Mars is insurmountable at any kind of reasonable budget"

10m thick wall

About 2m of water or other hydrogen-rich material should be enough, if I recall correctly a SciAM article on the subject a few years back. (Of course that may be now obsolete data, or too optimistic). In any case you only need to shield the main living quarters of the crew, not the entire ship. For minimum weight, construct a hollow polyethylene ball, with inner diameter something like 4m, from sections small enough to ferry up with realistic rockets.

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Boffin

Re: "Radiation on a trip to Mars is insurmountable at any kind of reasonable budget"

" For minimum weight, construct a hollow polyethylene ball, with inner diameter something like 4m, f"

I thin k you'll find some existing rockets offer 5m dia fairings already. No assembly required.

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Re: One way trip to Mars

As I said before, I can see the live news coverage…

“And now we see the team board the good ship Event Horizon, led by Captain Dallas, here comes first officers David Bowman and Frank Poole, Warrant officer Ellen Ripley and chief petty officer Riddick, as well as medical officer Major Tom. The crew already have a number of families on board, including the Robinsons, who have various support roles once the colonisation begins.

While on their Mission to Mars they will be assisted by the Even Horizons Super Computer HAL 9000 and regally supplied by the Star Ship Red Dwarf.”

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Re: "Radiation on a trip to Mars is insurmountable at any kind of reasonable budget"

I thin k you'll find some existing rockets offer 5m dia fairings already. No assembly required.

Just to refresh my math, I did the calculation. Assuming 4m inner diameter and 8m outer diameter (2m thick walls), and the density of polyethylene at 0.94 g/cm3 (= 940 kg/m3), the weight of the sphere works out as 220.5 metric tons. I think more than one launch is needed with current rockets.

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Re: "Radiation on a trip to Mars is insurmountable at any kind of reasonable budget"

Unfortunately, it's the "modern rockets" that are part of the problem, would only need two launches in the late 60's;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn_V

Could be done (cheaper) in five Falcon Heavy launches though, only ~$135m a launch :-)

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Joke

Regally

So they'll be living like Kings ?

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Happy

Re: "Radiation on a trip to Mars is insurmountable at any kind of reasonable budget"

"Just to refresh my math, I did the calculation. Assuming 4m inner diameter and 8m outer diameter (2m thick walls), and the density of polyethylene at 0.94 g/cm3 (= 940 kg/m3), the weight of the sphere works out as 220.5 metric tons. I think more than one launch is needed with current rockets."

My mistake.

I was picturing a bubble-within-bubble water tank.

Current payloads are running about 20-25mt and of course Spacex's F9H is scheduled for takeoff next year at 53mt of payload.

So you could send up a pretty thick airtight inner shell and build up the outside in between 8-10 current launches or 4 F9H's.

Not impossible. But commandeering an asteroid is not starting to look quite so hard from my PoV.

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Black Helicopters

Panel Arrangement

So supposing this happens, placed correctly and in sufficient numbers the panels could be made to resemble a pupil. Therefore turning the moon into A MASSIVE SPYING EYE IN SPAAACE!

Or have I got my acronyms mixed up?...

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Re: Panel Arrangement

Acronyms, maybe not mixed up, no. Hubble is actually a repurposed spy satellite!

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Unhappy

Congress and the Senate *ordered* NASA to build the SLS. It's in the funding law.

And basically NASA will throw anything under the bus to get it built.

So until you address that little matter (the dysfunction of the American political system) you're screwed.

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Joke

Possible Reason for not going back to themoon

Maybe the folks at NASA reached an agreement with the Nazi's to leave them alone and never return in exchange for them not launching an attack against the earth al la "Iron Sky".

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DJ
Coat

Great idea!

Power from the moon, that is.

Just one question: Who gets the contract to build the extension cord?

Mine's the one with the 1.21 Gigawatt Tesla wireless power transmitter in the pocket.

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Meh

Re: Great idea!

ACME LASERS.

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Alert

Re: Great idea!

Just as long as it's not an Illudium Pu-38 Explosive Space Modulator.

We don't need any Earth-shattering Kabooms!

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