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Europe's Space Agency Wants To Do What NASA Can't

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the can-we-borrow-your-studio? dept.

Moon 136

coondoggie writes "The European Space Agency is moving forward with a plan to land an autonomous spacecraft on the moon by 2017, with the idea a manned vehicle could land there sometime in the future. It's a mission NASA had on its roadmap before the current budget debate, but such plans seem doomed now. The ESA is now seeking proposals for a lunar lander that would land on the south polar region of the Moon, which possible deposits of water ice, heavily cratered terrain, and long periods of sunlight make promising for explorers and scientists, the agency stated."

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136 comments

/. is working hard to reduce site traffic. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31703780)

I do hereby formally propose April 1 as International Internet Abstinence day.

/. is working hard to reduce site traffic. (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704190)

No, it isn't.

Re:/. is working hard to reduce site traffic. (1)

paimin (656338) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704612)

Think of it like an annual day of fasting. Or an occasional giant painful shit.

So we feast, so we must also purge.

Alternate headline (0, Offtopic)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31703784)

Europe's Space Agency Wants To Do Nothing.

Re:Alternate headline (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704980)

Or: NASA Wants To Do What NASA Can't

Re:Alternate headline (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31707118)

haha, good one.

NASA wants to do what congress won't fund them to do.

April fools (2, Funny)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31703788)

Heh, I just got it. Took me a while.

Oblig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31703806)

That's no moon!

Wait, is it? Isn't it? Fucking hell... (5, Informative)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 4 years ago | (#31703868)

I'm reasonably sure this isn't an April Fools. See story from the horse's mouth [esa.int] , dated 31st March.

If it is an April Fools joke then the joke is ultimately on them. That something like this could be considered absurd would only highlight how incredibly pathetic space programmes have been for the last 30 years.

Re:Wait, is it? Isn't it? Fucking hell... (4, Insightful)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704172)

I think this is the first non-April Fool's story today. Thank god. It's funny when it's one or two stories. It's just fucking annoying when it's the entire day.

Re:Wait, is it? Isn't it? Fucking hell... (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704244)

No it isn't there have been others. I'd have to look back but I am sure there are others.

Re:Wait, is it? Isn't it? Fucking hell... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31705586)

Slashdot on April 1st is like a werewolf. It turns from something cool and likable into something hideous and evil for a 24-hour period. Thank god it only comes once a year and not once every full moon.

Re:Wait, is it? Isn't it? Fucking hell... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31705064)

The only April Fools joke would be if AFRICANS put a rover on the moon. Or a rocket into space. Or even got a rocket off the ground. Or a plane. Or built a car. Or even a bicycle...

But don't worry about that, because the TV said it's "racist" to protest against your children's country being invaded by sub-70 IQ third worlders... I'm sure your children are going to be so grateful when they are living in a third world country, surrounded by hate-filled black criminals...

Re:Wait, is it? Isn't it? Fucking hell... (3, Insightful)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 4 years ago | (#31705214)

If it is an April Fools joke then the joke is ultimately on them. That something like this could be considered absurd would only highlight how incredibly pathetic space programmes have been for the last 30 years.

Given that private space programs still haven't left Earth orbit. I find it highly impressive the public program maintains a 40 year leed on private enterprise.

Re:Wait, is it? Isn't it? Fucking hell... (1)

LaRainette (1739938) | more than 4 years ago | (#31705360)

you find that amazing ? Wow your government really is (was) shit...

manned space exploration = fail (5, Interesting)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31703958)

how about we solve the cost issue of just getting into orbit, and work on alternative propolsion systems to get places faster before blowing our cookies over manned trips to the moon, which add NOTHING of scientific value and solve no problems.

a manned trip to mars would be the only goal i could think of that would truely be worth the price tag for an achievement just to say we have done it (similar to why we went to the moon), with all our technology we are still yet to walk on another planet.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (2, Funny)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704048)

...before blowing our cookies over manned trips to the moon, which add NOTHING of scientific value and solve no problems.

You put it better than I was about to.

I think people expect that in 20-30 years after manned space technology has progressed, we should be commuting to office parks on Mars, shopping at malls in the ionosphere, and living in pleasant gated communities on the far side of the moon. But only if NASA keeps shooting cans of spam into space.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31704050)

Imagine having hundreds of hubble-class telescopes actively scanning for mining targets worth $20,000B ea. requiring little to no propellant to harvest. Gravitational corridors [physorg.com] exist that travel through the solar system that require minimal fuel. Materials science is close to being able to construct suitable solar sails [wikipedia.org] capable of freely traveling the solar system. We're not quite where we need to be for moving to space, but it's a helluva lot closer than most people think.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (5, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704236)

Imagine having hundreds of hubble-class telescopes actively scanning for mining targets worth $20,000B ea. requiring little to no propellant to harvest.

Why when it can be done from the surface of the Earth?
 

Gravitational corridors exist that travel through the solar system that require minimal fuel.

Sure, so long as you don't have anything resembling a deadline. (I.E. the savings in fuel for a manned mission would be completely obliterated by the increased life support requirements.)
 

Materials science is close to being able to construct suitable solar sails capable of freely traveling the solar system.

Solar sails *are* a cool technology - if you're a very small unmanned package with years and years to get where you're going. They pretty much suck, like the gravitational corridors, if you're a manned craft.
 

We're not quite where we need to be for moving to space, but it's a helluva lot closer than most people think.

That's probably because 'most people' are completely oblivious to the issue at all. Most of the rest of us aren't, but do know the difference between hand waving speculation and hard engineering.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (4, Insightful)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704264)

Imagine having hundreds of hubble-class telescopes actively scanning for mining targets worth $20,000B ea. requiring little to no propellant to harvest.

I have a feeling you're being a bit optimistic.

First, I assume you're talking about a target worth $20 trillion (that's $20,000,000,000,000. That's a lot of zeroes). What substance exists that would have that value?

But let's say you find it. We'll use gold as an example. The current price for gold is $36,120.81 per kilogram. So, to get $20 trillion dollars, we'd need an asteroid with a mass of 553,697,440 kilograms. Let's say you go ahead and drag in all these as yet undiscovered golden asteroids. What's that going to do the price of gold on Earth? I'll tell you what--it'll drop to next to nothing. Everybody will have more than enough gold and the price will drop. Frankly, because of speculation, just announcing that you're bringing this much gold to market will cause the price to drop before you even show up with your first gram.

Platinum? It's about 1.5x the value of gold, so you'd need less of it. But you still have figure that when you show up with a whole bunch of Platinum, you're going to drive the price down--that's basic supply-and-demand economics.

What you need to find, of course, is Unobtainium--something that doesn't exist on Earth. Of course, finding this Unobtainium is going to require a bit more than a bunch of telescopes (since you don't know what you're looking for). Also, assuming you find your Unobtainium, you need to figure out what it's useful for so that you can convince people to buy it so that they can turn it into something useful.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704284)

this is why we need to figure out how to escape the earths gravity for much less then $20,000 a kg (the current cheapest price).

space exploration has the potential to drive demand to new highs so even if you found this 500k gold nugget it wouldn't matter, because the process of exploring space is going to consume massive resources.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31704342)

Perhaps NOT unobtanium;

Perhaps the issue itself is space based manufacturing.

The costs involved for sending some humans to the moon are peanuts compared to sending millions of tons of cargo into space. (Think, EG, deep space imager satellites, com sats, new GPS sats, etc, all combined.)

The issue is not trying to make space travel "cheap", but to make space technologies "Affordable." EG, Having some blue collar shmucks on the moon refining alumina into aluminium using big arrays of solar panels (No atmosphere, means you can have much less durable panels, abrasion wise-- the biggest problem with them on earth. You also dont have the problem with ecological impact.) and producing the satelites there. From the moon, you could litterally just toss one into space.

The issue is that NOBODY wants to send joe-sixpack to the moon, so that he can operate that Mazak D500, churning out satelite parts.

As long as "the moon" (or space in general)remains the exclusive purvieu of "Astronauts" and "MIT grads", then there will NEVER be affordable space travel. Period.

(this coming from an aerospace engineer. We make drawings, and come up with fabulous ideas and technical plans. But the machinists are the ones who make it real, and Machinists are about the closest personification to joe sixpack I have ever seen. If there is to be any hope of space based manufacturing being leveraged to reduce space technology deployment costs, then somebody has to buck up and send them up there.)

Re:manned space exploration = fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31704642)

No atmosphere, means that the panels will be easy targets to meteors

Unless they're mobile, that is.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 4 years ago | (#31705068)

Meteors will need to be solved anyway, as any moon-base will probably not be mobile enough to move all its installations out of harms way.

My idea, a laser point defense turret, you have an overabundance of solar power, not atmospheric diffraction/distortion, so even larger target can be shot at from many thousands of miles away, at which point ablation might be used to deflect larger targets, rather then completely vaporising them

Re:manned space exploration = fail (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 4 years ago | (#31705314)

Great, now that we've just put Joe Sixpack on the moon, we've also begun arming him with frikkin' laser beams !

Re:manned space exploration = fail (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704660)

it's all about cost. show me one space project where cost wasn't a factor. solve that, and you have a space exploration boom....

Re:manned space exploration = fail (1)

strack (1051390) | more than 4 years ago | (#31705144)

the thing is, the moon is close enough to allow pretty much real time operation of remote controlled robots. we chuck some solar panels up there, a cnc machine, a small foundry, and tadaa, all the things you need to build a human habitable shelter. especially now that theyve found water on the moon.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704754)

Volatiles.

If minimum launch costs are, as timmarhy claims above, $20,000/kg. Then water in LEO is worth $20M/tonne. Likewise oxygen, any basic propellant, etc. If you can deliver such volatiles from non-terrestrial sources to LEO for less than $20M/tonne, you have a market.

And by supplying that market, you grow new markets, by allowing applications that are currently impossible: Reusable-refuelable upper-stages. Satellite refuelling and refurbishment. Commercial/tourist space-stations.

And technology like reusable upper-stages means your own costs come down, which lowers the price for everyone else, opening up new markets, developing new technologies... Cascading infrastructure development. The tools that build tools. That's what space exploration needs.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31704862)

There is already 160,000,000 kg of gold in circulation. I don't think that 550,000,000 kg would cause the price to drop to anywhere near nothing if you mined say 2% of it per year.

Not that it would make any economical sense to mine gold in an environment of vacuum, radiation, zero gravity and on top of that the problem of getting the gold down to earth in little packages.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (1)

Raven_Stark (747360) | more than 4 years ago | (#31706004)

I think you are making at least four faulty assumptions which affect the economics. First, asteroids are not made of one element but many so the supply of new resources would go into multiple markets. Second, harvesting those materials wouldn't be instantaneous, might take decades. Third, the bulk of stuff we could get from an asteroid might be most valuable if kept in space--iron, nickel, hydrocarbons useful for making space habitats that don't have to be hauled up from earth's gravity well. Fourth, whoever mines the asteroids might do what De Beers does with diamonds--sell slowly to keep the prices inflated.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (1)

rwv (1636355) | more than 4 years ago | (#31706288)

First, I assume you're talking about a target worth $20 trillion (that's $20,000,000,000,000. That's a lot of zeroes). What substance exists that would have that value?

A rock with normal gravity (9.8m/s^2 at the surface), a large supply of both natural frozen and liquid H20 on the surface, and an atmosphere with a 20% mixture of Oxygen, 70% mixture of NO(2?), 3% mixture of CO2, and 7% mixture of trace amounts of other gases would be worth at least $20,000,000 Trillion dollars.

Assuming that gold has intrinsic value as anything more than a very stable yellowish metal compound with some useful properties is to succumb to a failure of epic proportions.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31706794)

Meh, I understand your argument about commodity pricing, but I disagree with it on a visceral level.

Price and value are commonly tied together, but aren't inextricable.

For example, the PRICE for water on earth is, essentially, free (unless you're buying it from Dasani...). What would be the value to the space program and long-term prospects for humans in space of having 100 million tons of water in orbit?

My point being that bringing a Type-M asteroid to L4 could provide in-orbit something like 2 BILLION tons of nickel-iron ore. World production in 2004 was only 1 billion tons. This is totally aside from other space-valuable commodities like water, rare metals, etc.

That's not just a matter of earth-level commodity pricing. That's a game-changer entirely.

1) in terms of space use, suddenly there is (effectively) unlimited raw materials for construction, in an environment where power is essentially free? (I mean in terms of the energy needed to smelt/refine this ore) Wow.
2) commercially on earth...as long as you have a place/way to land it (and who really cares if 10% ablates on the way in when there's no scarcity?), you can deliver 000's or millions of tons of steel to any place on earth. Almost for FREE.
3) militarily...well, imagine #2 if you were angry at the receiver. Tunguska wherever you want, whenever you want, for free, with no lingering radiation. Just build a warhead as big as you want, and tip it over the edge of the gravity well. Nothing...nothing could stop/intercept it, and it would be as inevitable as gravity. Need to land troops somewhere? Station your fleet in the shadow of a cape or island, and whack the coast you want to land on with a tidal wave.

Seriously, I don't think you can simply say 'oh look commodity prices will drop, it won't be worth it' - I think that calculus breaks in this context.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31704176)

Fuck Mars. It doesn't multitask and there's no Flash support.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (2, Insightful)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704272)

how about we solve the cost issue of just getting into orbit

This is a fairly straight forward problem with no solution apart from possibly mass production. It inevitably takes so much energy to get to orbit - nothing apart from discovering new laws of physics will change that. That doesn't mean there aren't ideas on the drawing board, that will lower the cost by something like a factor of ten - but none of those are suitable for anything you want to stay alive.

Low earth orbit requires a speed of a minimum of 7,814 m/s. Now my math is a bit rusty, so I might be off by quite a bit. To get to 7,814 m/s you need 30.5 Mjoule/kg. That's ignoring everything else, including drag. And like I said, that number is probably wrong, but let's go with it for a moment.

Usually we use hydrogen in our rockets, and with an energy density of 10.1 MJ/liter, we'd need 3.02 liters. At 0.07 kg/liter that's 211 grams. At 1 g/mol that's 211 mol of hydrogen, so we need 105.5 mol of oxygen (2H2 + O2 => H2O). At 8 g/mol we need 844 grams of oxygen as well. So, just to get the energy required to get 1 kg of mass up to the speed required for low orbit, we now have to handle 1.055 kg of fuel.

We also need some way to contain that fuel - more weight.
We need some way to control the rate at which the fuel is spent - more weight.
We need some kind of survival system for the human - more weight.
We need some way to get him back down safely - more weight.
We need something that keeps him alive while in orbit - more weight.

So suddenly we don't need to accelerate just 1 kg of mass to 7,814 m/s, we might need to accelerate 4 kg to that speed. This isn't something we can just magic away.

work on alternative propolsion systems to get places faster

And how exactly do you propose we do this, without putting stuff into orbit to test if they actually work in real life as well?

before blowing our cookies over manned trips to the moon, which add NOTHING of scientific value and solve no problems.

So ... if you're taking your homebuilt duct-tape sail boat [youtube.com] out for a test, you'd rather aim for crossing the ocean than checking if you can get somewhere close by? The moon is pretty far away. Apollo 17 [wikipedia.org] took 4 days and 14 hours from launch to lunar landing. But apparently you don't see any value in learning how to get there faster than we can already manage? Oh, wait - you were just complaining about that. My bad.

As it happens, they ARE working on various solutions to these and many other issues. And while your idea of "scientific value" apparently doesn't stretch to cover such things as developing new types of engines, material science to lower the weight you lift into orbit, developing better and lighter life support systems etc. While you may think those are just engineering challenges, they aren't until you actually have the science behind it nailed down. And even if it's just trial and error, that's still a scientific approach. And strangely enough, much of what we learn in space technology may "only" be engineering and production prowess, but that comes in pretty handy as well, and it can pay pretty good dividends.

But you're right of course. Much better if all we do is not aim for pie in the sky, but aim for banana cream cake on Mars.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704440)

I listed new prolusion systems as what we need to aim for before more manned flights. every dollar you spend waste sending a guy to the moon is a dollar you could have put into a new method of "affordable" space travel.

forget maths, you need to learn to read.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31704886)

Perhaps you need to learn to write? Start with what the 'Shift' key does.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (2, Insightful)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 4 years ago | (#31705004)

First of all, all he said was that MANNED space flight to the moon is a waste of money. Your post magically manages to utterly avoid explaining why that is the case. Please explain why manned mission to the moon are so important. Well? He said nothing, I might note, about manned flights into LEO or testing new propulsion systems in space or unmanned missions. So what do those manned mission to the moon gain, please do explain.

Second of all, 30.5 Mjoule/kg is nothing. It looks like a big scary number but so does a mole of carbon if you write it out as the number of molecules. One kilowatt-hour of electricity is 3.6Mjoules and costs around $0.10.

In other words 30.5 megajoules of energy costs under $1 for me and less than that if you've got a dedicated generator. So no the amount of energy needed is not a barrier and the laws of physics are perfectly happy with sending things into orbit at $1 however our technology is not capable of that.

In fact, let's look at the cost of actual fuel shall we?

1kg of H2/LOX propellant costs roughly $1 from what I gather. The space shuttle has a 70:1 propellant:cargo ratio but it uses solid boosters so let's say 100:1 using h2/lox. That's still $100/kg compared to roughly $20000/kg for the space shuttle and $3000/kg (or around there) for a commercial satellite launch. So quite evidently the energy and fuel costs are not the direct problem even in practice.

Your argument about weight as a result is bullshit since even with all the extra weight we already send up the energy cost is not the main cost (of course certain propellants aren't as inexpensive as h2/lox). The costs in the end come down mainly to things like design costs, construction costs, testing, infrastructure, maintenance and so on. Unavoidable with current designs but not fundamentally impossible to surmount.

A low-maintenance often used reusable craft will give you something like $200/kg to leo costs given existing constraints. More exotic methods (space elevator, nuclear propulsion, ground based lasers, etc) would probably bring that down to something like $10/kg. So yes, there is plenty of room for improvement.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (1)

XSpud (801834) | more than 4 years ago | (#31705186)

So long as craft need to contain the fuel and mechanism for escaping earth's gravity, they will always be relatively expensive. The problem as I see it is that it currently costs as much to send 1kg of cheap supplies into orbit as it does 1kg of high-tech or human as we're using the same technologies. Why do we need super-reliable craft when sometimes all we need to do is transport fuel, oxygen or food? If we can get the cost of craft for delivering supplies into orbit low enough we shouldn't care if a high proportion of launches fail so no need for expensive and heavy fail-safe systems.

Perhaps we should be looking at some way of firing projectiles into orbit as then all we need to transport is the supply itself and its container? Then we might start to get near your $200/kg target.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (1)

TimFaraday (1736818) | more than 4 years ago | (#31706180)

Because when a launch fails, it doesn't just magically disappear. It will fall somewhere. "Oh dear lord, they are launching again! Quick, everyone into your shelters!"

Re:manned space exploration = fail (4, Insightful)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31705386)

He said nothing, I might note, about manned flights into LEO

He said he could see the point in a manned mission to Mars. Rather difficult to get to Mars without getting into LEO or higher.

So what do those manned mission to the moon gain, please do explain.

What is the point in going to Mars? Or having bases in the Antarctic? Going to the moon is a decent proving ground for a mission to Mars. It's close by - four days travel vs a couple of months at the moment, radio contact has a few seconds delay vs several minutes.

Just setting foot on Mars and going "well, let's head back" would be stupid. Mostly because you can't really do straight return missions with our current technology. And if all we're sending are unmanned probes, time isn't exactly of the essense, meaning there's no point in trying to develop fasters ways of getting there.

Setting up a base on Mars isn't going to be easy. We'd need to more or less bombard the planet with supplies before we set foot there ourselves. A lot simpler and faster to test perfecting landing and aiming against the Moon. Same with building a base on the planet. We've tried building various selfsufficient habitats (like Biosphere 2 [wikipedia.org] , and they've been mixed successes. Those only tackle some of the issues we'd be facing on Mars, and unless we're 100% certain we can replicate the successfull experiments we will conduct on this here on earth, it'd be silly not to use the Moon as testing grounds. Much cheaper, faster and easier to ship replacement parts to the Moon, when we find that something doesn't work like we thought

It's also a good place to test how to build a base, that will stop us from dying of cancer. No magnetic field means really nasty things with regards to radiation, and neither Mars nor the Moon has a suitable magnetic field. Probably better to learn somewhere close by rather than months away.

How about figuring out how to set up production centers from scratch? If we can produce our own raw materials, fabricated materials etc. all the way to custom made production utilities, we can save a ton of money in supplies. We'd still need food, water and fuel, but if we can kick start industrial production planet/lunar side, we're pretty much golden. Hell, if we can manage to build a nuclear reactor, we don't even need that much fuel.

Now, as for using the Moon as a 'stopping off station' for trips to Mars, I rather doubt there's a point to that. The Moon is about 380,000 km away, Mars is between 55,000,000 and 401,000,000 km. That's between 0.7% and 0.09% of the distance. Essentially the argument seems to be that if we're flying to the other side of the Earth on vaccation, we should really book some hotel time between 18 and 140 km away from our house. I expect it gets even worse if you do the energy equations rather than just distances.

Now, using the Moon as proving ground for the technology we need to survive on Mars is just common sense. Unless we develop some way of getting to Mars and back that can be done in a few weeks round trip, but I don't think that's something we're going to see any time soon. But then again, my crystal ball IS broken, plus I'm an Aries - we don't believe in that kind of stuff.

But even if we ignore a possible mission to Mars - what could we get from the Moon? How about the largest and best isolated radio telescope? The best optical telescopes possible - no atmosphere to worry about, much lower gravity which I suspect would allow you to build much much larger mirror arrays. No annoying neighbours who complain that your telescope is blocking their view.

Imagine building an optical telescope that covers the entire bottom of the Cabeus crater [wikipedia.org] . It isn't subjected to sunlight, it's about 100K making IR astronomy even easier. I'm pretty sure the entire astronomy field can see a point in going to the Moon to build huge telescopes.

But let's not forget the obvious one. The money maker. Tourism. Just imagine the fun you could have on your (somewhat nerdy) honey moon. Sex in a 1/6th gravity field. You could litterally have sex while hanging from the ceiling. Imagine the rather odd sports you could play. The bragging rights. The scenery! Now, this one doesn't have that many scientific applications, but it's still a good money machine.

And I, for one, would very much like to stand on the surface of the Moon, looking at that tiny blue marble.

This are just the reasons I could cook up while writing it. It's not something I've done extensive research on - but if I can come up with this, imagine what the actual scientists and engineers can come up with.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (1)

strack (1051390) | more than 4 years ago | (#31705158)

you assume in your statement, that those ideas on the drawing boards that have the sorts of g forces that kill humans, would be unsuitable for all the cargo, and not just humans. you are mistaken in that assumption.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (1)

duckintheface (710137) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704322)

I agree with this. There is no reason for humans (basically fragile bags of water) to be in space for any reason except to get to another planetary surface. Machines can do a better job of exploration at much less cost because they don't require life support. There is only one planetary surface that it would be worth sending humans to and that is Mars. But NASA has gone out of its way to make such a project prohibitively expensive. How do we make Mars possible? First, it should be a one-way trip. The goal should not be exploration (which should already have been done by machines) but rather colonization. We should pre-position colony supplies and then send a sustainable group of colonists to begin establishing a permanent, self-sufficient outpost. And why should we establish such a colony? Because someday.... maybe tomorrow.... maybe in a hundred thousand years, the Earth will be hit by a large asteroid that will at the very least end civilization. It could even result in the extinction of humanity. The cost of establishing a technological outpost is a small price to pay for ensuring the continuance of the human race. And if the asteroid never comes, we will still have a new planet to terraform and develop.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31704682)

The main problem with that is that we aren't even close to understanding what would be required for such a project, let alone achieving it. Even if the entire developed world scrapped their militaries and put the funds into colonising Mars, there's no guarantee that we'd be ready to send the first colonists a hundred years from now.

And We don't even know whether humans can survive long term and successfully reproduce in one-third of Earth's gravity.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (1)

duckintheface (710137) | more than 4 years ago | (#31705506)

So let's find out if we can survive there longterm. Send volunteers. I'd go and I don't think there would be a problem finding many qualified colonists. There is water on Mars, in huge quantities. The atmospheric pressure is highest at the bottom of the canyons and liquid surface water has been seen there. So a habitat could be just a pressurized tent in a canyon. Make it of a material that can pass solar except for UV and not re-emit infrared. Extra heat will have to come from somewhere.... maybe a micro nuclear reactor or large solar panel field. Start agriculture under tent cover immediately. There is plenty of CO2 the atmosphere and the plants will make oxygen. So will electrolysis of water. Weed and disease free agriculture would be far more efficient than Earth agriculture.... Look, I grew up in the 1960s in Huntsville, Alabama. NASA was a shirtsleeves engineering group that got stuff done. It doesn't have to cost a fortune, and even if it did, it would be worth it to save humanity.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31705666)

I think we should be a little more mature than to spend the significant resources needed to mount a manned Mars mission just so we can say "Hey, we did it!" And, even so, it's inaccurate to say that the early space race was about saying "We did it!" anyway. It would be more accurate to say that it was Soviets saying "Take that, capitalists!" followed by Americans saying "Take that, commies!" Only after-the-fact did we figure out that those satellites that we sent up there to show-up each other actually had practical uses beyond just the pissing contest.

A manned mission to the moon or Mars has little in the way of practical value, by comparison. In retrospect, Sputnik was WAY more important than Apollo. Sputnik paved the way for communications satellites, GPS, etc. Apollo did give us some useful mirrors on the moon, but they could have been put there much easier with unmanned craft.

Re:manned space exploration = fail (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31707172)

" which add NOTHING of scientific value and solve no problems."
false.

There is a lot of the moon that could add to our scientific knowledge, and it's a great way to improve technologies that would be used in longer missions.

Yes, we should also go to mars; however we should developing supporting technologies and get the to mars before we go there.

Send robots and equipment to build housing facilities. Get food and water there ready for when the Astronauts arrive.
A complete satellite communication system would be good as well.

I would use the moon to test the initial house building technologies

NASA Can't? (4, Interesting)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 4 years ago | (#31703962)

Really? So NASA can't send an unmanned lander to the lunar surface?

First of all, NASA has done this several times. Second of all, NASA is great at seeking proposals to do things they won't do, which is all the story from the ESA side is at this point. And lastly, I want do to do things NASA can't, who doesn't? You know, like, get /. to stop posting shitty stories.

Re:NASA Can't? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31703996)

Nasa could do that. The problem is the shitty story department at Slashdot is based in an important congressman's district. So rather than put those people out of work, Congressman Buttheadski is blocking funding.

It's what his voters elected him to do.

Re:NASA Can't? (4, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704042)

"Nasa could do that."

Oh, really? A bunch of pathetic, fearful old women, sitting around, nattering about risk, can actually do that? You do realize that today's NASA is not the same NASA that put men on the moon, don't you?

When the mission was to put men on the mooon, the atmosphere was much like the atmosphere aboard a warship.

Today, there is no mission, and the atmosphere is more like a cruise ship catering to octogenarians.

It's NOT an easy cruise to the moon, or mars, or anyplace else out there. We need some kick-ass, no-nonsense types to decide that we are going to space, then get it done. Blabbering and yakking about risk has it's place, but when it becomes the primary concern, nothing gets done.

Re:NASA Can't? (1)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704062)

Too bad Iran doesn't have a space program. It would be like the good ol' Cold War days.

Re:NASA Can't? (3, Insightful)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704074)

Yeah, if only NASA had some autonomous vehicles on the Moon or Mars or something. Then they'd be really cool.

I'm as disappointed with the lack of progress in the space program as anyone because I think we could do more. But I'm not going to support a sensationalist headline that craps on the agency that currently has the most advanced program and greatest achievements. And that includes the current as well as the past.

Re:NASA Can't? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704224)

Past achievements are past. You can't rest on your laurels. As your sibling post suggests, if Iran had a viable space program, we could well see a return to the attitudes of the '60's. Iran puts a man on the moon, we put a man on Phoebe, along with a half dozen women. Iran reaches Mars, we put orbiting stations around Mercury.

It's a shame, but we only make these great leaps when we are in direct competition with someone else.

To bad the old Soviet folded up, huh?

Re:NASA Can't? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31704260)

Yes, I would greatly applaud it if all those "kick-ass, no-nonsense types" went to space. As far away as possible.

Re:NASA Can't? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31704950)

'When the mission was to put men on the mooon, the atmosphere was much like the atmosphere aboard a warship.'

Well they still had all those Nazis running the shop, that helped.

Re:NASA Can't? (1)

Raven_Stark (747360) | more than 4 years ago | (#31706126)

Yes, when did /. turn into Fox News or the National Enquirer? I'm sick of news that titillates the reader's basest emotions in order to sell their rag because the org lacks the competence to sell honest news.

Why even go? (0, Troll)

quantumpineal (1724214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704016)

We went there once and there was nothing there. Now we find here water there, so what I have loads of that in my back garden too. Why not spend money and time going somewhere worthwhile like Mars, or other bodies that we might actually mine or get some kind of significance out of?

Re:Why even go? (2, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704998)

I do not know why someone modded you a troll on your post. Well, unless someone thought Troll was synonymous with ignorant and tried to be ironic which is humorous to say the least.

Anyways, the water in your back yard is very expensive to get into space. In fact, it's so expensive that stopping on the moon to pick it on the way to mars or wherever up would ultimately be cheaper then taking it from earth. Imagine carrying a pale of water up a 300 meter incline to dump into a pool. Now imagine you have to fill this pool up which would require 2379 trips with a 5 gallon pale to fill a 24 foot pool. Now imagine doing the same with a 300 meter trip across level land. That's not quite the different in effort and energy that would be spent but should give you an idea.

As for mining, well, they say there is plenty of Helium-3 [wikipedia.org] on the moon (or so they say) and just one cargo bay of the space shuttle full of it could supply all of the US's energy demands for at least one year. Of course that would require cold fusion to be more then a pipe dream but Helium-3 is currently rare on earth so a cleaner energy source could be one product other then water for future space exploration that could be mined.

But lets go back to the water for instance. Suppose a manned mission to mars was going to take 4 people to mars and back. Now they say you should drink 8 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Your food will provide about 20% of the total fluid intake so you need to add more water to remain healthy. But lets ignore that and the entire if your active you need more and so on and take a safe constant of 8-8ounce glasses of water per day. Now there is 128 ounces in a gallon and 8 8-ounce glasses is 64 ounces. Times that by the 4 people and you have 256 ounces or 2 gallons of water for each day. Of course this doesn't account for laundry or bathing or anything, just to drink. So it takes between 6-8 months to reach mars and the same to return. At a round 30 days to a month, that's 360-480 gallons of water one way or 720-960 gallons round trip. At 8.3 pounds to a gallon of water, you are looking at 5,976-7,968 pounds (3614kg) extra to lift off from earth. At $5 to $10K per pound to launch into space, we are looking at roughly 59 millon just to get the water up there.

Of course they wouldn't actually send that kind of water up as they could recycle most of it (if you don't mind drinking refined wastes). But solar panels could split the water into oxygen and hydrogen, compress them to a liquid state, and supply the fuel for the trip back or maybe even a detour. Getting to the water on the moon could be the key to doing what you would like with other planets/destinations.

Re:Why even go? (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 4 years ago | (#31705224)

... just one cargo bay of the space shuttle full of it could supply all of the US's energy demands for at least one year.

Not to worry, we'll just scale up our demands to make full use of the available supply.

Happy Weekend, Sir!

Re:Why even go? (1)

quantumpineal (1724214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31705260)

Nobody was talking about manned missions. Simply sending autonomous drones out into the solar system to do the work, then there's no need for large amounts of water. And yeah who said I was trollin? I just disagreed slightly from the expected response that everyone else parrotted along with

Re:Why even go? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31706338)

Fuel depot on the Moon doesn't sound usefull to you, also for unmanned probes?

Re:Why even go? (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 4 years ago | (#31705428)

Suppose a manned mission to mars was going to take 4 people to mars and back. Now they say you should drink 8 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Your food will provide about 20% of the total fluid intake so you need to add more water to remain healthy. But lets ignore that and the entire if your active you need more and so on and take a safe constant of 8-8ounce glasses of water per day. Now there is 128 ounces in a gallon and 8 8-ounce glasses is 64 ounces. Times that by the 4 people and you have 256 ounces or 2 gallons of water for each day. O

Survival experts will tell you that a good rule of thumb for survival situations is 1 gallon per person per day. This is for drinking, cooking, and washing. More would be better for long term comfort. Of course, this comes from experience with terrestrial wilderness survival, I don't know how the conditions in a spacecraft/habitat would affect that. Certainly you would have recycling systems as you mentioned. If we are talking about just water for human consumption, then in a perfectly closed environment with minimal waste I would imagine you could continuously recycle say 5-6 gallons per person.

But given that Hydrogen and Oxygen are also primary fuel and air components, your concept of "one stop shopping" at a fueling station on the moon seems very practical.

Re:Why even go? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31706306)

There is already some water recycling on ISS, spacecraft environment can be essentially closed, and considering ISS is just our training ground before long missions into deeper space...
(you still want lots of water from smaller gravity well (makes the initial launch so much cheaper...) of course, as you say for fuel and also for shielding)

BTW, I don't know why you equate Helium-3 usefulness with cold fusion (which will likely remain a pipe dream). H3 is good for "hot fusion" because the process is much easier to handle (there's much less readiation of the kind which degrades reactor, easier to handle byproducts, etc.)

to erase (0, Offtopic)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704066)

bad moderation

creators prepared to do what man'kind' will not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31704068)

it's all in the manuals.

if you want to waste your mod points (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31704122)

please mod this 'insightful'

That NASA CAN'T??????? (2, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704126)

We already did it. With both automated systems and manual. Multiple times. Likewise, we have landed a number of different systems using different approaches on Mars. ESA still has not put one on mars (though apparently into it) or any place that requires something difficult (doing a parachute on titan is not that difficult).

Personally, I would rather that NASA get our CHEAP private space into orbit and help them get multiple destinations for money (via bigelow aerospace private space stations), while working on new approaches on putting a real base on the moon and mars.

With that said, I am glad that ESA is working towards doing a system to actually land on a planet/moon using active systems. It will be a good education for them.

"We"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31704138)

Do you actually work for NASA?

Also, doing something 40 years ago doesn't mean you can do it now. NASA clearly cannot do it now because they don't have the funding or, it seems, the balls to take a bit of a risk. Technical capability is only one factor.

Re:"We"? (1)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704282)

Do you actually work for NASA?

NASA represents the United States of America. As Americans, we can associates ourselves with NASA, just as we do with our military. If the Army invades a country, WE invaded that country. Simple concept really...

Re:"We"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31704338)

This is true, in theory. We the People own the country, and thus the government and anything it does, except where it's public domain by statute.

It is also sadly true that NASA continues to faithfully represent the character, especially gonadal fortitude, of the average American patrician.

However, it is also theory that the President is also the First Gentleman of the United States, and he doesn't appear to know how to knot his fucking necktie.

NASA has become pathologically risk averse because they take a severe kindergarten beating every time they blow something up inappropriately, which cuts their patronage, and therefore funding. End of story.

Re:"We"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31704386)

OTH, I think that it is fair to say that your posts are a pretty strong sign that we have made too many cuts to mental health care. I hope that with Obama care, that they will restore your Valium.

Re:"We"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31704452)

What about my posts? They're mostly grammatically legal, often literate, sometimes relevant, and occasionally, they get read!

Oh, and don't forget about my alter egos, AC[0..n]... I call bullshit unless you can identify which AC I am, and cite your means publicly.

You must be a liberal, since you're able to think of psychoactive drugs as a solution to social problems.

As to health care, my existing policy far exceeds whatever, if anything, government can deliver. I pay dearly out of my unremarkable middle-class salary for that, and even more dearly in time that should be mine, to ensure I'm not the next laid off. I fully expect I'll have to buy the government endorsed policy to avoid fines, yet retain the one I have to actually guarantee the services my family needs. My duly considered opinion on the subject is, thanks a lot, assholes. You just used the government to steal from me. You will pardon me if I'm feeling a little robbed.

OTH

See? You even dun fucked that up.

Rational discourse is beyond the situational experience of most people today, political bent and social stratum notwithstanding. You have yet to distinguish yourself. Keep practicing.

Re:"We"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31704852)

Typical blue-collar closet-fag. Move to China, asswipe.

Re:"We"? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704366)

I have worked for NASA on MGS.
Secondly, I have little doubt that NASA still CAN. In addition, I suspect that NASA will be doing one or more of these missions once OBAMA lays out goals (assuming that it is moon and not mars). In the end, it will not matter. If NASA does not go to the moon directly, they will do so indirectly with private space. IOW, they will help private space to do so. My belief is that once WE (as in America) have private space up and running, then NASA will combine with private space, and likely all of the ISS partners to go to the moon. After all, with water and uranium there, there is now going to be real strong pressures to get there since it will be cheaper and safer to be there for any length of time.

Finally, NASA is OWNED by all Americans. So it is CORRECT for ANY American to refer to WE in this context.

Re:"We"? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31706718)

Well, if you look at the issue primarilly from the perspective of Mars Global Surveyor, I'm sure you've heard about Mars Express... ;)

(though landing on Titan not being that difficult is an...oversimplification)

BTW, how NASA is "owned" (especially in relation to ESA) might have proved to be a hindrance, IMHO. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but basically NASA activities (which includes deals with subcontractors) are financed from a "monolithic" federal budget, but where (to which states) that money goes has little relation to from where (from which states) most of it came from. Which might have worked fine during space race, when it was also a matter of national pride; but now it seems to take on characteristics of pork barrel politics (I think the recent mess with Constellation might be a good example)

Contrast that with ESA (which achieved nice successes with limited resources after all...), where the say of memberstates in regards to direction of activities and who actually does them is directly tied with financial input from each memberstate. I think that's more workable, more sustainable in the long term (yes, recent push towards towards private companies should gradually push things into sustainable tracks for NASA)

Re:That NASA CAN'T??????? (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704330)

Don't get yourself into a valium deficiency. Those unfamiliar with the language often use can't (usually meaning can not, unable to, not having the capability) when they should use "has decided not to do yet again because the money's needed to do other things that haven't been yet."

Re:That NASA CAN'T??????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31706702)

While the title is factually true, it's clear it was intend to leave the reader with the wrong impression. I'm sure you noticed that, so there's no need to be insulting about it.

There was no budget debate! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31704160)

There was a budget debacle. Let's be clear about that. The dog and pony show Congress put on for the press and the people was nothing compared to the deal cutting we'll never hear about.

s^ponSge (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31704206)

Animation of Proposal (0, Troll)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704498)

Animation [youtube.com] released by ESA. Very impressive!

Re:Animation of Proposal (1)

paimin (656338) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704638)

Man, this place is a cesspool today. A cesspool!

colonize (1)

sixsixtysix (1110135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704534)

just start it already ffs!

Europe vs US (0, Offtopic)

pydev (1683904) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704694)

If the US didn't have to bankroll Europe's defense, then perhaps the US could afford a more ambitious space program as well.

Re:Europe vs US (0, Offtopic)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704814)

You are free to roll your troops out of here. It is not as if they serve any purpose after the cold war ended, they overstayed their welcome. Oh, and you might wanna check how much cash we are sinking into Afghanistan, mostly to clean up your mess behind you.

Re:Europe vs US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31704908)

If you want to talk about cleaning messes up, please consider that most of Europe still owes the US for WW2.

And how don't our troops serve a purpose? Russia has shown they are still more than willing to steamroll into countries that they think they can dominate. And Europeans are still generally pansies, so you guys probably need some US troops around.

Re:Europe vs US (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31706020)

If you want to talk WW2 in relation to parent posters, don't forget how it helped to build economic strenght in the US...

And yes, Russia sometimes steamrolls into countries that they think they can dominate...US totally doesn't do that? Or, for that matter, did it do anything during recent such moves by Russia?

Don't kid yourself about geopolitical realities. Russia needs prosperous Europe. US too, plus staging bases.

Re:Europe vs US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31705256)

You are free to roll your troops out of here. It is not as if they serve any purpose after the cold war ended, they overstayed their welcome.

Fortunately, the US is smarter than that. The only way the US is going to leave Europe is if Europe builds up its own military to comparable strength.

Oh, and you might wanna check how much cash we are sinking into Afghanistan, mostly to clean up your mess behind you.

Afghanistan, like most other troublespots in the world today, is a mess left by European empires.

Re:Europe vs US (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31706052)

Like the myth about US never being involved in imperialistic tendencies much?

Plus with how US military is overstretched now...

If you stopped invading countries (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704974)

that have no WMDs, you could indeed save a lot of money.

Re:Europe vs US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31705132)

Hey if we weren't dying because you took your eye of the ball in afgan to go finish daddy's business, we might give a shit!

Obligiatory (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31704904)

Europe's Space Agency Wants To Do What NASA Can't

Like understanding metric?

The reason this is important. (3, Insightful)

Osmosis_Garett (712648) | more than 4 years ago | (#31705080)

The whole reason this is important, and that no-one seems to be talking about here, is that we need another planet. There's no way we can sustain our current population on this planet into the future, and the population is growing. People will start to die en mass and life will become tragic and harsh for a much higher ratio of people (currently, thats just life in the worst places to live). We need to figure out how to create contained ecosystems and how to use the resources of other planets (and moons and asteroids and dwarf planets and eventually exoplanets). Some work is going to get done in LEO for sure, but advancing the knowledge of how to actually exist on another planet will always be valuable and important progress. Eventually, earth will just be a retirement planet, where its nature and remaining resources are protected and safe from development, and can be treated like the rare and delicate jewel that it is.

Re:The reason this is important. (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 4 years ago | (#31705268)

Eventually, earth will just be a retirement planet, where its nature and remaining resources are protected and safe from development, and can be treated like the rare and delicate jewel that it is.

How's this going to happen? I don't see us shipping billions of people off-world, so a drastic reduction in human birthrates on Earth would have to be achieved if you want to keep humans from filling every niche. Is that likely to happen?

Re:The reason this is important. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31705394)

a drastic reduction in human birthrates on Earth would have to be achieved if you want to keep humans from filling every niche. Is that likely to happen?

Yes?

Re:The reason this is important. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31705436)

Eventually, earth will just be a retirement planet, where its nature and remaining resources are protected and safe from development, and can be treated like the rare and delicate jewel that it is.

How's this going to happen? I don't see us shipping billions of people off-world, so a drastic reduction in human birthrates on Earth would have to be achieved if you want to keep humans from filling every niche. Is that likely to happen?

Yes, in 1st world countries I think that it is very likely, since its already happening. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for 3rd world countries, so those who are suffering now are likely to suffer more in the future, and those who are comfortable now are likely to remain that way.

Re:The reason this is important. (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31705720)

It has already happened. Rate of population growth has been falling for decades. We will max out around 15 billion, and probably stabilize around 10 billion.

Re:The reason this is important. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31705282)

I've heard this argument so many times I'm tempted to take out the calculator and chew some numbers again.

Let's see, Earth's population is at most 10 billions, right? What surface do you need to pack those people shoulder to shoulder? 4 people per square meter, that's 2.5 billion sqm, or 2.5 * 10^9 sqm, or 2500 square kilometers, or less then 0.002% from the total land surface.

So the problem isn't _space_. The problems are resources. And you can't go to the moon to raise peas. If you want to invest in being able to sustain more people, you can make food factories or just build under/over oceans. I'd much much cheaper and more efficient then to go to mars.

Re:The reason this is important. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31705330)

like the rare and delicate jewel that it was

Re:The reason this is important. (1)

catxk (1086945) | more than 4 years ago | (#31705620)

There is no risk of overpopulation. As health care improves and the risk of dying at young age decreases, we - as a species - tend to reduce the number of kids we produce, especially if you add increased access to birth control to the mix. This process is happening right now all over the world, and we are already at two kids per woman (or below) in most rich countries. Meanwhile in the third world, people are getting healthier at a much more rapid pace than they are getting richer, meaning that the issue of overpopulation is likely to take care of itself long before the issue of world poverty does.

The logic is proven by statistics, as shown in this graph [www.bit.ly] . Load the graph and press play, and notice how all countries in the world, including Sub-Saharan Africa, are experiencing reduced infant mortality and that, as infant mortality decreases, all around the world, birth rates follow. Conclusion: given enough time, population growth will stop being an issue, and this will happen not because more populous areas are more prone to disease, but because we are all getting healthier, and when we are healthy, we see no point in having more kids than two.

Far cheaper orbit method (2, Interesting)

Dollyknot (216765) | more than 4 years ago | (#31705232)

The high cost to the human race's colonization of space, is caused by the complexity and danger of reaching and leaving escape velocity within the earth's atmosphere, whilst dragging the fuel with which this is achieved up from the earth's gravity well, this is illogical when a supply of rocket fuel is close at hand on the moon.

The Space Shuttle turned out to be an expensive and dangerous white elephant, the reason the Shuttle was so expensive is, because of its complexity with millions of different manufactured parts and the requirement to lift the fuel up from the earths surface with which it achieves escaped velocity.

There is another route, we can reach the edge of space no problem Burt Rutan proved this with Space Ship one, when he won the 'X' prize by reaching over 100 km twice in one week.

Yes the Shuttle was 'reusable' but in name only. They could not have turned that around in a week.

One idea could be to create rocket fuel on the moon, there is lots of water on the moon, use solar energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen which makes very good rocket fuel.

Use robot technology controlled from the earth to create the rocket fuel.

Use the rocket fuel to fuel a space tug, use the space tug to accelerate and decelerate Space Ship one, to and from escape velocity in the safety of a vacuum.

The moon is the door to the solar system

UGh really bad title (1)

majortom1981 (949402) | more than 4 years ago | (#31705310)

How is europe going to the moon doing something that NASA can't? NASA has already been to the moon. Not just once but several times. Its not a big priority to go back because we already did that . While everybody works on how to get to the moon we are working on how to get to mars.
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