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NASA Mulling Joint Lunar Missions With Commercial Enterprises

Soulskill posted 1 year,18 days | from the fly-me-to-the-moon dept.

Moon 59

MarkWhittington writes "According to a July 3, 2013 story in SpaceRef, NASA has issued a Request for Information concerning various commercial endeavors to create robotic lunar landers. NASA appears to be interested in assisting in those projects with a view of using the resulting vehicles for its own exploration plans. Officially, thanks to a mandate by President Obama, NASA is not planning its own crewed mission to the moon. However the space agency seems to be interested in supporting, in some way, a commercially run lunar base. Joint robotic lunar landings might be seen as the start of such an effort."

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59 comments

We need to go to space, because space is COOL! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44192351)

ITT, space nutters whine about:

  • An asteroid could hit the Earth and kill us all, so we need to spend billions of dollars on sending humans to the moon
  • If you don't support a manned mission to the moon, you're anti-science and hate all the inventions that have come about because of the space program, such as Tang
  • All the problems on Earth have been solved, so now we need to go visit the stars
  • Obama

Re:We need to go to space, because space is COOL! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44192363)

It's been shown that British people work score lower on standardized tests and work fewer hours than any other Europeans, with the sole exception of Albania.

Re:We need to go to space, because space is COOL! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44192373)

This is fascinating. Please tell me more.

Re:We need to go to space, because space is COOL! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44193139)

To "standardize" a measure of man is to look to the past and eschew creativity..

Meanwhile, the very goal of progress is to work fewer hours.

Sounds like British people are quietly succeeding. As usual.

Re:We need to go to space, because space is COOL! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44192533)

This is awesome. One thing I've just finally figured out is that Space Nutters are autistic, they are unable to spot sarcasm or derision in a post. Whoever modded you up thought you were serious! Man you're hilarious!

Re:We need to go to space, because space is COOL! (0)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | 1 year,18 days | (#44193095)

Space Nutters!

YOU! You covet my ICE CREAM BAR! (I'll sit back now to see who gets it)

Re:We need to go to space, because space is COOL! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44193413)

It is not I who am crazy.... IT IS I WHO AM MAD!

Re:We need to go to space, because space is COOL! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44193425)

Didn’t you hear ‘em? Didn’t you see the crowds!?
Oh, my beloved ice cream bar, how I love to lick your creamy center!

Re:We need to go to space, because space is COOL! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44193443)

And your oh-so-nutty chocolate covering!
You’re not like the others. You like the same things I do! Wax paper, boiled football leather, dog breath!

We’re not hitchhiking any more; we’re ridin’!

Re:We need to go to space, because space is COOL! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44193953)

Space Nutters? Since when did the current mayor of Philadelphia [wikipedia.org] get involved?

--
Another fine opinion from The Fucking Psychopath®.

Re:We need to go to space, because space is COOL! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44193167)

All the problems on Earth have been solved, so now we need to go visit the stars

This is so untrue. But in 15 years if we don't fund space travel they will be! Be patient! [xkcd.com]

Re:We need to go to space, because space is COOL! (3, Interesting)

Thanshin (1188877) | 1 year,18 days | (#44193583)

If you don't care about space exploration you're much worse than anti-science. If you care more about "billions of dollars" than about whether humanity populates places outside of the Earth your problem isn't with science, it's with having a tiny point of view. Essentially, not caring about the expansion of humanity through space puts you closer to animals, which only care about eating, reproducing and surviving.

However, it's not the same to consider that it might not be the appropriate moment for space exploration (for example because humanity should first work on discovering better propulsion systems) than to just don't care about it.

Not caring about space exploration is similar to not caring about philosophy, art or history. It just makes you less human and more beast.

Re:We need to go to space, because space is COOL! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44193929)

Of course, space is COOL! It's downright cryogenically frigid! The temperature of the vacuum itself hovers around 4K. [rimshot]

--
Another fine opinion from The Fucking Psychopath®.

Re:We need to go to space, because space is COOL! (1)

morgauxo (974071) | 1 year,17 days | (#44196105)

Yup. Tang was it! Tang was the only thing invention wholly created or accelerated by the space race.
I know I am feeding a troll but if anybody believes that ignorant statement they really need to go crack a book before ever considering voting.

Joint Lunar Missions (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44192355)

Yeh yeh, marijuana is totally legal on the Moon! Grow it and roll yourself a joint! Toke up, Moonmen! And Moonwomen!

Re:Joint Lunar Missions (1)

nospam007 (722110) | 1 year,18 days | (#44193299)

"Yeh yeh, marijuana is totally legal on the Moon! Grow it and roll yourself a joint! Toke up, Moonmen! And Moonwomen!"

I had a Marihuana Bar on the moon for some time, but nobody came, the bar just had no Atmosphere.

There's gold in them thar hills (1)

rednip (186217) | 1 year,18 days | (#44192377)

There's gold in them thar hills, literally and figuratively.

Re:There's gold in them thar hills (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44192483)

Too bad there's no air, water, infrastructure, people, grass, trees, and there is radiation and dust.

Re:There's gold in them thar hills (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,18 days | (#44192531)

Whoa... so it's difficult to mine gold on the Moon?! Who knew?

Re:There's gold in them thar hills (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44192617)

But there ain't no whales so we tell tall tales and sing a whalin' tune!

Re:There's gold in them thar hills (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44193201)

Yeah, but it makes up for it in the lack of environmental regulations. You could cyanide the fuck out of it and nobody would care. Actually they would kind of like it. Earthlings like blue moons for some reason.

Re:There's gold in them thar hills (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44192721)

Not much gold either from what I understand. Much easier in all ways to find commercially viable concentrations of most things other than He-3 on Mars or even a good number of the main belt asteroids. In a lot of ways the moon just isn't that interesting a place.

Re:There's gold in them thar hills (3, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,18 days | (#44193637)

Not much gold either from what I understand.

No one has actually looked much. It's worth noting that two of the largest deposits of gold and platinum group metals (PGM), the Bushveld complex in South Africa and the Norilsk-Talnakh deposit in Siberia are both created by igneous processes possibly in conjunction with asteroid impacts, processes which happen on the Moon just as well.

The Norilsk-Talnakh deposit is actually a feature of the Siberian Traps which are effectively the Terran equivalent of a very large Lunar mare (as I recall, depending how large the Siberian Traps originally were, they could have been larger than all but the two largest lunar maria). PGM were concentrated near the outlet dikes for a vast amount of lava (several million cubic kilometers worth) via some sulphur chemistry mechanism - apparently bubbles of PGM rich magma were trapped under the series of flows, leaching a bit of PGMs and other materials from each subsequent lava flow and increased in concentration as the Siberian traps eruptions continued.

The Bushveld complex apparently is a magma intrusion coupled with an asteroid impact. It is currently unknown if the asteroid contributed the PGMs present in this deposit (which is by far the world's largest deposit of platinum). PGMs were concentrated by the very slow cooling of the deposit which settled out them in two or three thin layers (or "reefs" in the local mining jargon).

Because there is almost no erosion on the Moon, similar deposits to either of the above would likely be deeply buried. It is worth noting however that because of the Moon's much lower gravity (and ignoring the moderately lower density of lunar crust), that pressure increases versus depth at about a sixth the rate it does on Earth.


So anyway, the Moon has some features that are similar to a couple of the largest PGM and gold bearing deposits on Earth and it allows for far deeper mining than can occur on Earth. Obviously, this isn't something that is going to happen next year, but it's not unreasonable to expect that there will eventually be mining of the Moon for resources that can be used on Earth and elsewhere in the Solar System.

Re:There's gold in them thar hills (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44195119)

Not to mention the Sudbury Basin impact structure in Ontario, source of most of the world's nickel and a fair portion of silver and platinum group metals.

Again, there's disagreement as to whether the ores originate from the parent asteroid or were the result of magma upwelling after it punched a hole in the crust. But there does seem a fairly high correlation between large impact structures and useful ore bodies.

They're going for the lunar X Prize (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44192421)

Re:They're going for the lunar X Prize (1)

bonehead (6382) | 1 year,17 days | (#44196461)

Even with the $30 million prize, sending a robot to the moon, in all likelihood would be a net expense, not a source of income.

Now that marijuana is being legalized (2, Funny)

stox (131684) | 1 year,18 days | (#44192551)

I suspect there are going to be a lot more joint missions.

Uh, JPL (5, Insightful)

demachina (71715) | 1 year,18 days | (#44192581)

Hey NASA, you heard of this place called JPL out by Cal Tech. They've been landing rovers on Mars for a while now which is WAY harder than landing one on the moon. Why don't you give them a call and stop being clueless and pathetic.

P.S.

Elon, please launch Falcon Heavy so we can shut NASA down and put the money in to your actual space program instead of the empty shell that is NASA these days

Re:Uh, JPL (4, Insightful)

kermidge (2221646) | 1 year,18 days | (#44192843)

....so we can shut NASA down

Congress would have to revoke their charter, I believe. Senators keep NASA around due to inertia, weather forecasts, the odd bit of national prestige, and contracts to companies from, or doing business in, their states.

Re:Uh, JPL (1)

slick7 (1703596) | 1 year,18 days | (#44193545)

....so we can shut NASA down

Congress would have to revoke their charter, I believe. Senators keep NASA around due to inertia, weather forecasts, the odd bit of national prestige, and contracts to companies from, or doing business in, their states.

If you know anything about contractors and NASA, one word of advice...DON'T!

Re:Uh, JPL (1)

kermidge (2221646) | 1 year,17 days | (#44200081)

Not known wy (now, there it is, a new shpelling: do people still aspirate the "h" of the "wh"?) you replied to me, Slick, as I wasn't the one suggesting NASA be shut down, but I'll take it as good advice anyway.

Interesting sig you have, by the by.

Re:Uh, JPL (1)

slick7 (1703596) | 1 year,17 days | (#44202513)

It's not about shutting down NASA, it's about the use of contractors. I have seen and been on both sides of that coin. When NASA or the contractors get their collective act together, the other side is in for some serious trouble.

Re:Uh, JPL (1)

kermidge (2221646) | 1 year,16 days | (#44206529)

Oh, OK, thanks for the clarification. Thing is, I think it depends much on looking at the usefulness of a project or research program. Congress folks tend to look at funding/jobs/votes and tend to not give a shit about the worth of anything to the nation at large - if they even have the interest or ability to do so.

I'm only familiar in a passing way with the general kinds of things 'twixt contractors and agencies, mostly from dealing with some milspec bidding decades back. I had enough trouble with all the bloddy paperwork without trying to follow any intricacy of political stuff that may've been involved. I will say that the people I spoke with were for the most part exceeding helpful.

Re:Uh, JPL (4, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | 1 year,18 days | (#44192863)

NASA needs to stay around so that when the Chinese land on the moon the US government can go into a panic and pump money into it.

Re:Uh, JPL (1)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | 1 year,18 days | (#44193055)

Boots on Mars. Why is this so hard to understand?

Re:Uh, JPL (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | 1 year,18 days | (#44193129)

Boots on Mars. Why is this so hard to understand?

Its hard to understand trading one deep gravity well for another.

Re:Uh, JPL (1)

bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) | 1 year,18 days | (#44193297)

We will be trading one deep gravity well for two.

Fairly basic engineering that the shouldn't be a single point of failure for all known life in the universe.

Re:Uh, JPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44193417)

Fairly basic engineering also shows it will never happen. Can't have it both ways.

Re:Uh, JPL (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | 1 year,18 days | (#44193431)

Fairly basic engineering that the shouldn't be a single point of failure for all known life in the universe.

You dont have to go to another deep gravity well in order to spread life and/or humanity out, a fact that makes your argument completely empty. You are as short sighted as the people at NASA these days (who seem to want glory instead of logic.)

We should be working on sustainable independent space craft, starting with sustainable independent space stations. In the grand scheme of things, gravity wells are for noobs.

Re:Uh, JPL (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,18 days | (#44193649)

We should be working on sustainable independent space craft, starting with sustainable independent space stations. In the grand scheme of things, gravity wells are for noobs.

The obvious rebuttal is that we have only one example of a sustainable independent space craft right now - the planet Earth and it happens to have a very large gravity well. Gravity wells happen to also be places where resources get concentrated enough to be useful.

Re:Uh, JPL (1)

bonehead (6382) | 1 year,17 days | (#44196497)

They also happen to be a place where enough gravity exists to keep humans healthy without having to expend energy and resources to generate it artificially.

Re:Uh, JPL (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,14 days | (#44223979)

In the grand scheme of things, gravity wells are for noobs.

I apologize for the lateness of this second reply, but we are noobs in space. Building on Mars means that we can transplant most of our technologies and systems wholesale. It also has all the elements we need for survival. So we can build a civilization on Mars which could be sustainable even in the absence of any off world support.

Down the road, Mars can generate a second market for space-based goods as well.

Do you know what you are talking about even (4, Insightful)

Camael (1048726) | 1 year,18 days | (#44193305)

I'm pretty sure NASA have heard of this JPL since the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech is a NASA laboratory [nasa.gov] .

From TFA:

“A commercial lunar lander jointly developed with NASA would capitalize on NASA's previous investments and expertise in lander technologies. It also would stimulate a commercial capability to deliver payloads to the lunar surface reliably and cost-effectively."

So how is reaching out to commercial entities to improve their existing know-how instead of relying ONLY on their own labs "being clueless and pathetic"?

Re:Do you know what you are talking about even (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,18 days | (#44193819)

Maybe this is a call to privatize the functions of JPL and other national labs? I could get behind that.

Re:Uh, JPL (1)

jythie (914043) | 1 year,18 days | (#44195125)

Because small plucky 'enterprise' makes for better political theater then stogy old boring companies.

The current american dream is short bursts of intense work by 'outsiders' followed by riches, so companies that exemplify that imagery get a lot of political attention. The older style of 'lots of planned hard work over long periods followed by reasonable long term profits' just isn't sexy. So there is a push to get NASA away from companies that have long consistant but boring track records (and, importantly, have learned from mistakes) and instead working with companies that sound really cool and have a couple of flights under their belt but have not made many mistakes yet and thus still play fast and loose.

Re:Uh, JPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44201751)

Hey NASA, you heard of this place called JPL out by Cal Tech. They've been landing rovers on Mars for a while now which is WAY harder than landing one on the moon. Why don't you give them a call and stop being clueless and pathetic.

P.S.

Elon, please launch Falcon Heavy so we can shut NASA down and put the money in to your actual space program instead of the empty shell that is NASA these days

Are you some sort of dumbass? You do realize that JPL is a NASA lab...

hi (1)

Storagesolutions (2973665) | 1 year,18 days | (#44192759)

Really Good That somethings new s happening..!! thank you for posting

Public-Private Partnerships (1)

dohzer (867770) | 1 year,18 days | (#44193051)

Are we really still thinking that these things will ever be cost-effective?

Re:Public-Private Partnerships (4, Interesting)

Cenan (1892902) | 1 year,18 days | (#44193071)

There is no technical difference between public, public-private or private - only the implementation detail of how the money winds up in campaign donors' pockets.

Dicking around (3, Interesting)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | 1 year,18 days | (#44193077)

NASA dicks around in low Earth orbit and the only way to send up an astronaut is on a Russian rocket. We should've been on Mars by 1980 at the latest, but we just. stopped.. trying. People will disagree with the above sentiment. It's jingoistic and Cold War-ish, they'll say. To them I reply, gloat over our corpses. You won and we lost. We no longer have the national will to do great things. Whether it's NASA alone or a coalition of public and private firms, we just don't have what it takes. You win.

Re:Dicking around (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44193435)

"We no longer have the national will to do great things"

Putting a test pilot in a rubber suit into a tin can and putting that tin can on a dead rock is not a "great thing". It's a stunt that pleases a small percentage of the population that has the same doom and gloom overly dramatic world-view as yourself.

You want great things? How about health care for all the people you care so deeply about? (Hint: The "species" consists of individuals.)

How about a social model that requires LESS WORK considering how much technology we have?

Awwwww too difficult? Stick to your Space Nuttery fantasies.

Re:Dicking around (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,18 days | (#44193695)

Putting a test pilot in a rubber suit into a tin can and putting that tin can on a dead rock is not a "great thing".

When the "dead rock" in question is the Moon, it becomes a great thing.

How about a social model that requires LESS WORK considering how much technology we have?

Why bother with a social model when a personal model will reduce your work load to whatever you desire.

Re:Dicking around (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44194023)

It seems that everyone here has forgotten about how LBJCare (a.k.a. Medicare and Medicaid) and [cue riff of "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones] Vietnam put the federal government into deficit spending culminating in the Nixon Shock that made work no longer pay. The first casualty was NASA. The last Apollo missions became Skylab and the Soyuz "Detente" dock-up in 1975.

--
Another fine opinion from The Fucking Psychopath®.

Re:Dicking around (1)

jythie (914043) | 1 year,18 days | (#44195171)

To be fair, I think NASA discovered that things are harder and more expensive then the optimism of the 60s thought they would be. It was always assumed that some magical innovation would be right around the corner that would bring down the costs and allow for massive expansions, but nothing ever materialized. Just incremental improvements.

The Artemis Project offered this in 1998 (2)

vik (17857) | 1 year,18 days | (#44193343)

If anyone is interested, the http://asi.org/ [asi.org] site is still there. Would've cost the same as 4 shuttle flights and left a permanent base on the moon. But nooooo.

What's changed? Well, now there's even less money spare...

Re:The Artemis Project offered this in 1998 (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44195951)

Would've cost the same as 4 shuttle flights and left a permanent base on the moon

Does that include cost overruns?

Interference (1)

draken5000 (2974063) | 1 year,18 days | (#44193855)

Each new President and congressional committee wants to give them something new to shoot for and then never really gives them the funding to be able to reach those goals. So, every few years they have to rearrange what they have been planing for 8 years or more to suit the new party in charge. If we had just given them a fraction of the military's budget and then let them decide on what goals they want to make we would probably already have a international moon base and have cheaper fuel on hand to experiment in our solar system till the scientists and explorers heart was content.

Just use 10 year long plans. (1)

asm2750 (1124425) | 1 year,18 days | (#44194579)

Congress and the president just need to quit making decisions for NASA. Just have a few scientists, a representative from congress and the president meet every 5 or 10 years and come up with a 10 year plan for NASA outlining their goals and budget for the decade and then have congress and the president sign off on it. Then keep that plan locked in until the the next meeting unless there is some need for more funding or a large change which would require a special meeting. I'm getting sick of NASA being used as a political football by the morons in Congress and in the white house who are dumber than rocks when it comes to science and research.
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