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What If the Apollo Program Never Happened?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the what-happens-on-luna-stays-on-luna dept.

Moon 756

astroengine writes "In a recent debate, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said he would like to beat the Chinese back to the moon. He has even been so bold as to propose setting up a manned base by 2020, driven by empowering private industry to take the initiative. It's ironic to hear moon travel still being debated 40 years after the last Apollo landing in 1972. Between then and now, NASA's small space shuttle fleet filled in for space travel, but astronauts could only venture as far a low earth orbit — at an altitude much lower than the early pioneers reached. If there were no Apollo crash program to beat the Soviets to the moon, would we have planned to go to the moon eventually? But this time with a commitment of staying? Or would we never go?"

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756 comments

Ironic? (5, Insightful)

Scutter (18425) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867433)

It's ironic to hear moon travel still being debated 40 years after the last Apollo landing in 1972.

I think that word doesn't mean what you think it means.

Re:Ironic? (5, Funny)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867575)

It's ironic to hear moon travel still being debated 40 years after the last Apollo landing in 1972.

I think that word doesn't mean what you think it means.

He's probably gen-X. That stupid Alanis song ruined that word for an entire generation.

Re:Ironic? (5, Insightful)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867753)

He's probably gen-X. That stupid Alanis song ruined that word for an entire generation.

I doubt that. Do you realise how many times it's been pointed out by various parties how ironic it is that all "Ironic's" examples of irony aren't?

They've probably heard that more times than they've heard the song itself...

Re:Ironic? (1)

tonywong (96839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867583)

But it's like rain on your wedding day, amirite?

Re:Ironic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867771)

Amirite? Is that the new and exciting drug? I heard it can cure every illness that has afflicted man, even death.

Re:Ironic? (5, Insightful)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867631)

When I look at Dictionary.com [reference.com] I find this for irony:

5. an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.

It seems reasonable that debating moon travel 40 years after Apollo might be considered unexpected. What am I missing?

Re:Ironic? (5, Funny)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867719)

It seems reasonable that debating moon travel 40 years after Apollo might be considered unexpected. What am I missing?

Pedantic flair.

Re:Ironic? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867839)

Fuck you and your Ron Paul bullshit. The only reason to have Ron Paul on the ballet would be to dilute the Republican Asshats even more and insure a Democratic win. So, yeah, vote for Ron Paul. Please.

- Frosty Piss

Re:Ironic? (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867829)

Apparently the fact that the age of an idea or philosophy does not correlate with its propensity to spark debate.

Re:Ironic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867749)

I think that word doesn't mean what you think it means.

Ironically... I believe your are correct. :-)

Re:Ironic? (5, Insightful)

yotto (590067) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867775)

I don't know. I think nobody expected it to take 50 years to get back (assuming Newt can do it, which even if elected he can't/won't) or more (see previous parenthetical)

And that thought amuses me in a sad kind of way.

Well (5, Insightful)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867437)

Without space exploration there isn't much point to our civilization.

Re:Well (5, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867489)

is that sarcasm? most of human culture and endeavors and civilization had existed fine before there ever was space travel, and will continue to do so with or without it.

Re:Well (2)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867523)

I think OP would have been wiser to say potential, as eventually we will cap ours in the current surroundings, might not be for a while though. $ fuels the space endeavour and there needs to be a reason behind the $ channel, the Russians were such a reason, but what is it now? China maybe? But what are we proving to them?

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867555)

Yep, but will anyone else ever know about it? If nobody else knows something exists, does it matter anymore?

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867723)

It still matters. Tune in next week to find out why.

Re:Well (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867743)

If a sentient species goes extinct does it make a sound? How about an electromagnetic noise?

Re:Well (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867843)

Not much to attenuate RF in the near-perfect vacuum of most of space.

Our vapid advertisements and ghastly reality TV dreck will still be cruising the aether long after we are a thin layer of ash in one of the smaller gravity wells surrounding a dying star of no particular distinction...

Re:Well (1)

Brannoncyll (894648) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867741)

That is until one of the many possible (and even likely) mega-disasters wipes us out and all of our culture and endeavours and civilization become just an archaeological study/ object lesson for another species that collectively figured out that putting all your eggs in one basket is a really bad idea!

Re:Well (5, Insightful)

jamvger (2526832) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867853)

I hate this "all-eggs-in-one-basket" argument for preserving the human race. It misses the point entirely, because in the bigger picture Earth is not a sustainable system. The Sun is getting brighter; in less than a billion years it will be too intense for Earth's oceans to continue to exist. Like Mars did in ages past, Earth is going to lose its water [bbc.co.uk]. On the other side of the balance, Earth's interior is cooling, geological activity is diminishing, and so volcanic replenishment of the atmosphere [wikipedia.org] is slowly winding down.It is clear, at such time scales, that if the entirety of life on Earth is to avoid extinction then life must branch out off the planet. That means launching equipment and people to build massive, robust infrastructure. Crops. Botanical gardens. Zoos.

Except that space is HARD. It's really expensive to get there and it is a high-vacuum radiation hell. It would take a long time and an expensive, sustained effort to construct off-planet habitats - a *tremendous* amount of effort and money before there is any payoff at all.

On the other hand, for example the asteroid 16 Psyche contains enough metal to construct a solid cylinder fivekm in diameter stretching from here to the Moon. Or cover North America in a layer 280 meters thick.The resources available to an outer space civilization are great enough to insure that if outer space habitats do reach the point where they can expand and grow, the payoff would be big enough to sustain life past the death of the Sun [wikipedia.org].

We are half-way through the era of animals on Earth. There have been at least a half dozen mass extinctions [wikipedia.org] since animals first started evolving a half-billion years ago; there will be more. The glaciers [wikipedia.org] have grown and retreated dozens of times over the last two million years; they will return. Yellowstone [usgs.gov] is going to explode again. And again. And again. Time is not unlimited.

But we have time. Abundant fossil fuels, and the internet - we are right now living in the decades of maximum wealth. At some point, within a few decades, we will either run out of fuel [wikipedia.org] or we will run out of the capacity to sink carbon emissions [wikipedia.org]. When this happens, it will mean the end of a way of life. Maximum wealth *right now* means that *right now* is the best and possibly the only time to lift off. Life on Earth only gets one pass at the fossil fuel heritage; if the next extinction event brings us to a place where launching is not possible, life will have missed its chance.

I'm not a nutter, I am a realist. I'm certain that outer space settlements will not solve our current growth vs. environment problems - the payoff will come way too late for that. None of our current issues will be solved, or even mitigated, by vigorous and immediate launches into the great expanse. Nonetheless, if DNA is to avoid extinction we need to start moving now [space.com] as rapidly as we can. Nothing else matters.

The cocoon we call Earth is going to wither; whether or not she gives birthbefore she dies is entirely in the hands of human civilization. Our civilization,right now, we're the only chance. Sure, leaving Eden is a horrible burden. Suckit up. We have to go. Now.

Or, we can continue toasting marshmallows at the planet's one-time-only oil burning party [wikipedia.org].

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867769)

and will continue to do so with or without it.

No it won't... either an asteroid or yellowstone will take care of that sooner or later.

Re:Well (2)

IDarkISwordI (811835) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867781)

I think masternerdguy was getting more at the idea that humans have always endeavored to explore the unexplored. It is why people eventually left Africa, some type of instinct to go the distance, risking everything in pursuit of knowing what lie just a little further away. We've somehow lost that initiative, and have become a sedentary world, saturated with gadgets and meaningless news and gossip while just above our heads, an entire universe lay unexplored by us. How very sad it is to know that once upon a time, we were able and willing to fund an adventure dreamt for thousands of years, sending people on an over half million mile journey to the Moon and back, and yet in a more modern era, we can't even decide whether scientific research, which could and will benefit everyone around the world, is worth the public dollars. What a fucking shame.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867491)

There isn't anything more insane and deluded than what you just said.

Re:Well (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867571)

There isn't much point in exploring space either. At this point in human knowledge everything is pointless.

Re:Well (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867729)

Vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas

Re:Well (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867607)

If the universe eventually collapses back into a singularity, there won't be a point to our civilization, either. And if it doesn't end with a bang, every star will eventually burn out. There's a finite supply of fusable elements and they're using them up.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867709)

"The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can be transformed, i.e. changed from one form to another, but cannot be created or destroyed"

Re:Well (1)

bkaul01 (619795) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867785)

If the universe eventually collapses back into a singularity, there won't be a point to our civilization, either.

On the contrary: if the universe eventually collapses back into a singularity, our civilization will be reduced quite neatly to a single point.

Re:Well (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867801)

There's a finite supply of fusable elements and they're using them up.

There is? Sounds like speculation based on limited data to me. What can fuse can also defuse, no?

Travel Vs Base (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867441)

In a recent debate, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said he would like to beat the Chinese back to the moon. He has even been so bold as to propose setting up a manned base by 2020, driven by empowering private industry to take the initiative. It's ironic to hear moon travel still being debated 40 years after the last Apollo landing in 1972.

How is that ironic? Establishing a base versus traveling to are two fairly different goals in magnitude with one totally encompassing the other. Aside from that, I don't think it's ironic that 40 years have passed and we need to reevaluate a moon mission. It's seriously still a nontrivial problem today, it's not like riding a bike. In my mind, the fact that they did it forty years ago doesn't take away the danger and knowledge involved with such a feat but instead just proves how badass and ahead of their time those people who worked on the Apollo Program were (yes, yes, Wernher von Braun and Nazi scientists, I'm aware).

And as far as it's being "debated" I challenge you to name one thing that requires government spending that hasn't been debated off and on over the years. Oh, the massive Department of Defense spending, right, for some reason nobody debates that ballooning military industrial complex and that's about it. Wouldn't want to look "weak" going into office now, would we. Speaking of which, I'm all for a shift of some of those funds to space exploration. It took a space race with 'the ruskies' to get us to the moon maybe another 'rah rah USA' race with those other 'commies' will help us establish a presence and research lab?

Re:Travel Vs Base (3, Insightful)

gregulator (756993) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867537)

"I challenge you to name one thing that requires government spending that hasn't been debated off and on over the years. Oh, the massive Department of Defense spending, right, for some reason nobody debates that ballooning military industrial complex and that's about it"

Umm, liberals and others rally against .mil/DOD spending all the time. You are doing it right now.

Re:Travel Vs Base (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867595)

Newt is bringing this up because his environmental policies would render our planet unlivable thus the moon is the closest best alternative for this millionaire and billionaire buddies.

Re:Travel Vs Base (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867639)

Actually, Newt's in trouble with the Republican base for not being a global warming denialist.

Re:Travel Vs Base (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867777)

Well, that and the fact that he happens to be campaigning in Florida this week.

Re:Travel Vs Base (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867669)

I'd like to think so, but beyond the occasional trash-talking, it seems we love these particular 'commies'.

It is the magical land from whence our ipods come.

the more dated the moon landing becomes... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867445)

the more obvious it is that it never happened at all.

No (4, Insightful)

paiute (550198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867455)

Without the lash of the Communist menace, Congress would not have spend trillions to shoot people into space.

Re:No (4, Insightful)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867819)

Society has become too risk adverse to do anything as innovative and risky as the first moon landings. The minute something goes wrong everyone immediately starts arguing about whose fault it was instead of acknowledging the entire venture is risky so don't be too surprised if a couple of things blow up. The rocket disasters in the early space program did not shelve the project until endless analyses could be conducted to guarantee 100% future success. The astronauts who participate in the space program certainly understand and are willing to take the risk and as long as that is the case we should continue pushing outwards. Thousands of years ago people blindly set off to sail the oceans when they thought the world was flat but they went anyway and eventually new discoveries were made, Early scientific minds were willing to chance being charged as religious heretics in order to study and eventually publish information about the solar system and basic physics models. We can't depend on any politicians to say or support any risky venture because they are afraid of being blamed for any failures. The only way the US will get back to the moon is if China (or any other country) starts working in that direction. Then the politicians might be willing to fund and promote a risky project in the sacred cause of national security.

We'd have never gone (3, Interesting)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867461)

Part of what got our country into gear was JFK's death. JFK was even trying to covertly kill the program by rigging it so Republicans would kill it for lack of favorable earmark kick backs and similar games.

Re:We'd have never gone (1)

Scutter (18425) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867493)

Part of what got our country into gear was JFK's death. JFK was even trying to covertly kill the program by rigging it so Republicans would kill it for lack of favorable earmark kick backs and similar games.

So, what you're saying is that NASA was the second shooter on the grassy knoll?

Scientists did not want to send humans... (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867589)

What was the point of sending humans? The nation's scientists all said that robots could collect the data and specimens that they were interested in, and that sending human beings needlessly increased the risks and costs. The only reason we sent people to the moon was to show the world that our space program could compete with the Russians'.

Re:Scientists did not want to send humans... (4, Insightful)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867691)

No, the only reason the US sent *people* to the Moon was because the Russians had already beaten them to the punch regarding both farside orbit and robotic softlanding. Manned landing was the only milestone left.

Re:Scientists did not want to send humans... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867809)

No, the only reason the US sent *people* to the Moon was because the Russians had already beaten them to the punch regarding both farside orbit and robotic softlanding.

Derp? You do realize the manned landing part was on the "to do" list for both sides before the Soviet Union got their stuff to fly past the far side and make a soft landing, right?

Manned landing was the only milestone left.

Can you tell me which nation got these milestones?

* First to send humans past low earth orbit
* First to put humans in lunar orbit
* First to send humans to the far side of the moon
* First to have humans break-off from a mothership in a separate lander
* First to have humans walk around on a different world after landing on it
* First to have humans toddle back into the lander and dock with the mothership orbiting another world

Get the president out of NASA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867467)

Every administration comes and tugs NASA around like a lapdog to appear like they're visionary and progressive but they keep hindering good progress. We really need to speak out against this. It's a problem that doesn't serve science at all. Both parties do this and neither one of them is interested in the real science behind their attempt to look like they're in the know about space exploration.

The world according to Newt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867469)

We never went to the moon. Let's go!

The man is a complete loon. His only saving grace is that he's not from Alaska.

Besides the obvious... (1)

AlienSexist (686923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867473)

We wouldn't have such a vibrant black market for moon rocks, we wouldn't have our National flag on the moon's surface giving the finger to other nations, we'd have missed out on some decent Hollywood flicks on the subject, and the government would have blown the money on something else similarly unproductive.

Re:Besides the obvious... (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867701)

Actually, I never even think about the american flag being on the moon, it's such a non-issue I think it would be hard to think of it as a finger to other nations.

Of course, I'm saying this from the UK, so American has never been the competition for us, more of a dodgy ally. Maybe it has more significance to people living in Russia or maybe China?

What do you mean, "what if?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867479)

http://www.moonlandinghoax.net/

Re:What do you mean, "what if?" (5, Interesting)

smpoole7 (1467717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867591)

It isn't ironic, it's sad, that 40 years later, there are people who honestly believe that the moon landings were faked.

The fact that you can see the landing site with a powerful telescope apparently isn't good enough for some people.

-- Stephen

Re:What do you mean, "what if?" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867657)

I think it's sad you believe it actually happened.

moon rocks have elements that could only come from earth.

oh...gee, tons of water on the moon.

wow, the moon is filled with H3.

We would have known this if we had, umm, been there

Nasa estimates that if we started today, it would take us 10 years to go back to the moon.

Why do you think that is?

Re:What do you mean, "what if?" (5, Funny)

chaboud (231590) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867803)

Every telescope made after 1971 has required federally mandated "Moon goggles" that are inserted just before the telescope is completed. It's plain as day, except visible at night.

Re:What do you mean, "what if?" (4, Informative)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867855)

It's clearly impossible for an optical telescope on the Earth to resolve any of the Apollo hardware on the Moon, since the best systems, using adaptive optics in the near-infrared, can resolve details of maybe 0.02 arcsec. A lunar lander of width 5 meters, at a distance of 382,000 km, subtends an angle of 0.003 arcsec. The Hubble Space Telescope isn't appreciably closer the Moon, and its best resolution is about 0.03 arcsec in the near-UV. Not good enough. In fact, out by a decimal place.

About the best you're ever going to get without walking up to the hardware itself is such as you'll find in NASA image AS15-9377[P]. This shows a resolution of something like 15m/pixel - not enough to make out the hardware or its orientation, but enough to describe a low shadow thrown by the lander stage. And *that* was taken from low lunar orbit (Apollo 15 CSM).

No space race, no manned moon landing (3, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867501)

The Cold War and the sudden and unexpected advances the Soviets made in their remarkable early space program (thanks to the sadly underrated and largely forgotten genius of Sergei Korolev [wikipedia.org]) where the primary motivators that led to Apollo. Without the strong desire of the U.S. to have a major "first" in space over such a military rival, it's very unlikely the U.S. would have ever gone beyond LEO. Unlike LEO, there was relatively little to gain strategically or technologically from a manned moon mission. It was mostly a nationalistic pride thing. Apollo was designed to show that the U.S. was capable of space firsts too, and everything about the mission--from its highly public nature to the planting of the U.S. flag--was meant to highlight that.

Kubrick Faked It (1, Funny)

gregulator (756993) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867509)

The Apollo program never happened.

Stanley Kubrick faked it. He later admitted his involvment using the film "The Shining" as his medium.

Just ask this guy: http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/luna/luna_apollomissions10.htm [bibliotecapleyades.net]

How about something eveyrone would get use out of (3, Insightful)

assertation (1255714) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867529)

I know Newt is just making vaporous campaign promises and that there are "trickle down" benefits for ordinary people from the space program, but if you are going to spend big to have new technology why not do something more people can benefit from directly?

- a national network of bullet trains?

- a "space race" for an electric car with the same range as a gas powered car and that can be recharged in under 10 min?

Re:How about something eveyrone would get use out (0, Flamebait)

gregulator (756993) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867579)

Just like energy, which cannot be created or destroyed; the .gov cannot "create" something that benefits more people than the required taxing harms.

Re:How about something eveyrone would get use out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867681)

You mean the government can't create something like the Internet, which has increased productivity of every modern country in the world? If your argument about $in=$out was true, we would never advance as a a society. Fortunately you are very wrong.

Re:How about something eveyrone would get use out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867761)

What a stupid statement. Even stupider is that you are using the internet to make that statement.

Re:How about something eveyrone would get use out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867821)

That is both historically wrong, and just plain stupid. You really should try harder not to let your blind hatred for taxes get in the way of facts.

The GPS system, the internet, spinoffs in electronics from NASA, and the Interstate Highway system are just a few examples where the US government created something that resulted in a net positive.

I'm sure it's easy for you to believe that all government spending is a waste because everything in my previous list existed before you did. But if you aren't willing to accept successes of the past then you will prevent successes in the future.

Re:How about something eveyrone would get use out (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867711)

- a national network of bullet trains?

- a "space race" for an electric car with the same range as a gas powered car and that can be recharged in under 10 min?

Because compared to those two, a moon base is easy to achieve, for different reasons. There's no right of way issues for a moon base, everyone equally benefits (or not) from a moon base, and we know a moon base can be achieved with current technology.

Re:How about something eveyrone would get use out (3, Insightful)

assertation (1255714) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867811)

Because compared to those two, a moon base is easy to achieve, for different reasons

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills"

- John F Kennedy

and we know a moon base can be achieved with current technology

and the Japanese don't have bullet trains?

Pointless (1)

halo_2_rocks (805685) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867531)

The fact is, we wouldn't have gone to the moon w/o the space race. There is no economic reason (with our current technology) to go there. Once we have developed reliable fusion power and developed high strength materials/structures (putting in place one or more space elevators for example) to turn it into a serious commercial venture then everyone will go into space. How soon till we are sophisticated enough to do that? Given how things are currently progressing in the world, I'd guess maybe in a 500+ years from now it will be viable.

We're falling behind! (2)

anom (809433) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867535)

We need to invent warp drive by 2063 to meet the Vulcans, but it's 2012 and we can't even get to the moon!

Re:We're falling behind! (2)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867613)

To be fair I never saw any moon base in the movie..

Re:We're falling behind! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867667)

Well with 500 Million people dead after WWIII and "very few governments left" you can presume they just abandoned them.

Re:We're falling behind! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867725)

We need to implement WW3 before we can get started on warp drive, silly. You're working on things in the wrong order!

What if ...? (5, Interesting)

sehlat (180760) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867543)

For one thing, we might have practical fusion power by now.

The Apollo program taught a lot of lessons, but one of them was "If you're a government-funded research program, DO NOT SUCCEED." Congress began axing the budget for space exploration about ten minutes after Armstrong's "One small step for a man..." After all, we did the job, beat the Rooskies, hallelujah now we can quit wasting all that money.

I've noticed one thing about fusion: it's *always* "twenty years off" and has been since the early fifties. Tiny little steps, "we need more funding", and "maybe we'll get something in (this year+20). And over the past forty years, a lot of bold proposals for testbeds that, while crude and inefficient, might actually have WORKED so they could be improved, have been shot down. (cf. Bussard's proposal to use heavy, water-cooled high-strength magnets to brute-force a solution.)

See you in 2032, when "We'll have fusion in 2052." will be the rallying cry.

Have you *seen* the ITER budget? (3, Informative)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867865)

Seriously, anyone complaining that fusion research doesn't get any funding hasn't seen the budget for ITER - the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor. Last I checked it was around 15 Billion dollars. That also isn't the only fusion research going on - there's the National Ignition Facility for one, and I think a couple others too.

"allow private industry to take the initiative" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867551)

I.e., put public money in private hands. Just what we need more of, Grinch.

I'm a fan of space travel, but we don't need any new grand initiatives when we can't pay our bills. Unless this is going to put millions of people to work, save it for better times.

China's turn (2)

Dark$ide (732508) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867559)

Let the Chinese have the next go. Or is America going to start a cold war with them to start the space race to get to Moonbase Alpha [wikipedia.org] first?

Re:China's turn (2)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867857)

If China did it, it would just be to prove that they have arrived. As soon as they did it, they would end up dropping the program the same way the U.S. and Soviets did. There is little to gain from it. It's really more symbolic. And once you've done it, you've made your point.

More pandering from candidates (5, Insightful)

LastGunslinger (1976776) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867577)

Gingrich's speech was no more than pandering to the crowd ahead of the primary election. He's made bullshit promises in every state he's campaigned in so far. How does funding a new moon mission mesh with the Republican party's insistence on deep budget cuts on everything but military spending? Face it, we aren't going to the moon or Mars anytime soon. One side of the aisle wants to overspend on the military, the other wants to overspend on social programs. All the debate over taxes and discretionary spending is political theatre. Neither party is willing to make the sacrifices necessary to fix budgetary problems and neither really gives a damn about space exploration.

Re:More pandering from candidates (2)

Mike Van Pelt (32582) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867849)

It's pretty easy to verify that Gingrich has been a "space nut" for a very long time. This isn't a one-time "pander to the folks in Central Florida" thing. He read Jerry Pournelle's "A Step Farther Out" back in the 80s, and was sufficiently interested by it to contact Pournelle personally to discuss the ideas in it.

(Rants about Pournelle's politics, Gingrich's politics, are entirely beside the point I'm making here.)

Let China lead (1)

ehiris (214677) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867621)

Why do we need to be the first or beat anyone to doing anything? It's not really a competition. If China finds a profitable reason to be there, then we can raise money and go back. As it stands, we could not figure out why to be there so why bother again? The moon has plenty of space for everyone.

Moon and Mars are pointless. Go near Earth orbit! (4, Interesting)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867659)

Seriously, the moon and Mars are a waste of time and money. Near earth orbit, in constrast, has a lot of potential for power generation, enhanced telecommunications, earth observation and eventually, permanent, self-sustaining living environments. As "cool" as it would be to get to Mars or the moon (again), there's just no compelling reason to do so that's not served better by near earth orbital stations and satellites.

Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867671)

Can't wait to read the delusional Space Nutter posts...

Empowering private industry? (3, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867689)

He has even been so bold as to propose setting up a manned base by 2020, driven by empowering private industry to take the initiative.

What's the economic incentive for private industry to build/support a moon base? Without government funding, what's the return on investment? More moon rocks? Mining what minerals? A good view of the ocean? Seriously. Companies don't really invest in altruistic endeavors without a profit motive.

did the US actually travel to the Moon? (1)

vleo (7933) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867745)

Technology is such a thing that has to be continuous.

How comes, that most powerful engines that NASA has NOW (RD-180, thrust 4.15 MN), are designed/made in the USSR/Russia, and they have half of the thrust of the engines from the cancelled Soviet Moon travel project - the missile named H-1. The most powerful carrier rocket in existence now is also Russian - namely "Energy". NOTHING (nothing!) is left from the engines (F-1, thrust 6.77 MN) that supposedly brought Apollo ships to the Moon (Saturn V). Documentation is LOST.

In contract - first men in Space - Russia still is the only county that is capable of bringing man to space now. DESPITE all the hardships of the 90s. All this is even stranger then 9/11.... War Is Peace / Freedom Is Slavery / Ignorance Is Strength ?

Let's beat the Chinese to something useful (4, Interesting)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867747)

Just like a politician to bring up a massive government boondoggle which might have some scientific benefits, but which provides no possibility of a payoff in practical terms.

I propose a different science/engineering race with China:

The first to build and get patents on associated technology for the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor [ted.com]. China announced a year or two back that they had begun.

LFTR most likely would provide a trillion dollar+ payoff to whoever gets there first and can deploy it both domestically and sell exports to other countries within the lifespan of the patents.

Or how about the closely related WAMSR - the Waste Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor [youtube.com].

Those look both doable, almost certainly cheaper than a moonbase (though possibly still somewhat expensive), and would have enormous benefits for mankind.

But, no doubt Republicans would decry a program to rapidly get the LFTR or WAMSR up and running as a socialist, big-government program. . . but somehow, a freaking moonbase isn't. Oh, I know why - because there's no actual money to be made on a moonbase, so the private sector doesn't care about it and thus doesn't need "protection" from government programs.

Better Understanding (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867757)

Well, clearly, if we had never actually BEEN to the moon we would still think it was made of cheese, and would be at war with Italy over the mining rights for the Lesser Mozzarella Mountains and the Plains of Parmesan

Communal Fear Made Us Go (1)

vrythmax (1555425) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867763)

We (Americans) won't go anywhere soon. We simply don't have a fear big enough that going to the moon can fix. Whether its gay marriage, the liberals, the conservatives, big media, global warming, China's economy or the European debt crisis, what ever your issue, the moon has no answers so we will not be going there soon.

Wow, with presidential goals like this, the US (1)

spads (1095039) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867789)

really must be headed for the ash heap! With Obama calling for the restoration of industrial manufacturing, and a major challenger calling for a re-run of the space race, what'll they think of next, Washington recrossing the Potomac? ("Oh, yeah, he can come BACK across now! (did he find his coin?)" )

We'd be reading this on a photocopied newsletter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867791)

Because computers would still take up an entire floor of a building. Without the size and weight restrictions of space travel, why bother building them small and cool enough to fit in a desk-sized unit? Sure it'd be cool to have tiny pocket-sized computers, but who has the budget to build them?

We'd be in a lot better shape. (5, Interesting)

queazocotal (915608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867795)

'Waste anything but time'.
These are truly magical words to a bureaucracy.

When they were uttered, NASA became an enormously powerful agency, with a massive budget, and the resulting craft was guaranteed to be ridiculously expensive, and optimised entirely wrongly for an ongoing space program.

NASA then set the precedent for the 'right way' to do space - which proceeded on, helped by space being seen not as a place to do things in, but a convenient way to feed aerospace companies welfare.

For example, NASAs last attempt to 'reduce the cost of space launch' (x33/venturestar) had not one, not two, but three completely untried technologies on it.

SpaceX - by doing it in a much leaner manner, have developed a rocket and engines for a tiny fraction of the budget of what NASAs estimation tools say it'd cost them.
And you know that it'd have overrun in reality.

If you look at a typical NASA procurement requirement, you do not see 'Must deliver cargo of mass M to position P with speed S'.
You see a long list of requirements that are only incidental, but so happen to require expertise only available from the two or three 'usual suspects', meaning only they can make credible bids.

The lack of funding, and the clear utility of satellites may well have lead to much cheaper rockets being developed a lot sooner.

Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867807)

They never did land on the moon. Or did anyone ever bring back any moon cheese?

Same reason soviets wanted to? (2)

dittbub (2425592) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867825)

well why did the soviets want to get to the moon? would they have planned to go to the moon if it wasn't for america trying to get there?

Nah... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867867)

I think the moon program was during a "sweet spot" in our history, when the country was still relatively young and powerful, we were not so divided as a nation, and the government procurement process had not become so corrupt. I think that even a crash program would not work now -- that there's not enough money on earth to fund what a Saturn 5 project would cost today, given what the process has become. I think it's barely possible for private industry, but I suspect that even that would be essentially shut down by regulation. China would be willing to take more chances, and are accustom to achieving projects of large scale in recent times. They might be able to do it.

To answer the original question, had we missed the opportunity to do an Apollo crash program at the time in our history when it was done, we'd still be in low earth orbit, at staggering cost, today.

We might have actually gone to the moon. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38867871)

If we hadn't faked the Apollo missions we might have actually developed craft that would make it to the moon.

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