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Back To the Moon — In Four Years

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the sign-me-up dept.

Moon 292

braindrainbahrain writes "Gene Grush, a former division chief at NASA Johnson, has written a series of articles on how the U.S. can return to the Moon in four years. He says not only can we land there, but we can actually build a base on the Moon as well. How is this feasible? A public/private partnership between NASA and a private space company. Quoting: 'The biggest obstacle is the lack of a rocket, called a super heavy launch vehicle, to lift it off the planet. NASA is working on one, called the Space Launch System, but the agency is constrained by its budget and the likelihood of it flying in that time frame is slim. But there’s an interim solution: SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, which will have its maiden flight this year and can supposedly launch up to 53 metric tons into orbit.'

'[I]f NASA makes lowering launch costs its highest priority, escaping the bonds that hold us to Earth will be financially feasible. We don’t do this by controlling the design so much as the frequency -- we are the customer, after all.' 'The development of a lunar base could be a catalyst for lowering our launch cost to space and accelerating the development of automation and robotics. ... If America doesn’t step up to the plate, China’s ambitions for the moon may establish it as the “go-to” nation for space exploration. Many nations of the world privately say they want the moon to be the next step in space exploration -- but they can’t get there on their own. They need a technically savvy and resourceful country to lead.'"

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Not so fast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46543327)

Except FH isn't launching this year. It might make it to the pad, but I wouldn't even count on that.

NASA needs SpaceX. SpaceX doesn't need NASA. (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 6 months ago | (#46543385)

I won't claim that NASA isn't serving as a conduit between the dollar printing engine and SpaceX and providing some land facilities, but aside from that, NASA hasn't been able to get back to the moon in 40 years. Assuming there's a good reason to do so (H3 is good enough for me, even if it's a bit soon) SpaceX can conceivably raise the funds on their own and find a jurisdiction friendly to their launch requirements. Even if NASA weren't interested, SpaceX would still get to the moon in relatively short order - even if only as a testbed for Mars landings.

Re:NASA needs SpaceX. SpaceX doesn't need NASA. (3, Informative)

smaddox (928261) | about 6 months ago | (#46543915)

I'm assuming you meant He3, but it is worthless without a working fusion reactor, of which we have none. The only value of a lunar base would be as an intermediate port for assembling large ships for longer journeys. Well, that and you could make some badass telescopes on the dark side.

Re:NASA needs SpaceX. SpaceX doesn't need NASA. (2)

Billy the Mountain (225541) | about 6 months ago | (#46543985)

It'll work just fine in baloons though.

Re:NASA needs SpaceX. SpaceX doesn't need NASA. (2)

TheTrueScotsman (1191887) | about 6 months ago | (#46544039)

And for doing the funny voice.

Re:NASA needs SpaceX. SpaceX doesn't need NASA. (2, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 6 months ago | (#46544001)

Assuming there's a good reason to do

A moon base means learning how to survive without a magnetosphere.

You are now aware that we are over 500000 years OVERDUE for our magnetosphere to falter, disappear, and be rebuilt in the opposing polarity. Saving the fucking world should be enough reason for any sentient race to seek self sustaining off-world colonization. In fact, if ending the assured threat of extinction by making sure all your eggs aren't in one basket isn't your #1 priority as a species, then are you really sentient, or just a bunch of damn dirty apes?

Re:NASA needs SpaceX. SpaceX doesn't need NASA. (1)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 6 months ago | (#46544193)

Trying to get governments to fund a measure that is that kind of VERY long-term is difficult when so many are facing much more immediate problems. It's sort of like the heat-death of the universe. Sure, we know it's coming, but my kids need to eat TODAY.

Brought to you by Fox News (-1, Flamebait)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about 6 months ago | (#46543399)

I find it hilarious that Fox News would be putting out so many pro-space articles. Aren't they usually the champion of smaller government, arguing that funding space missions is a waste of invaluable taxpayer dollars?

Re:Brought to you by Fox News (2, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 6 months ago | (#46543535)

Not at all. They're the champions of Democrats-are-wrong, and since a Democrat administration isn't spending money on NASA, that must be wrong.

Re:Brought to you by Fox News (0)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 6 months ago | (#46543845)

So basically, we just need to get Obama to adopt all the very worst right-wing policies, and Fox News will push left-wing policies in response, and all the "conservatives" will become leftists? Maybe if we can get Obama to do another about-face on gay marriage, and come out against it, Fox News and its conservative viewers will all suddenly be all for gay marriage.

Re:Brought to you by Fox News (2)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 6 months ago | (#46544227)

Nice try. In the event that Obama were to adopt far right-wing policies, they would just go even *farther* to the right. We've already seen it on national security. Obama adopts the far-right position on national security, and Fox responds that he hasn't gone far enough.

kiss of the black orchid (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 6 months ago | (#46543539)

I've seen enough spy movies to know that a guy with a name like Hugo Drax, err, Elon Musk, is secretly planning to kill off everyone on Earth and repopulate with carefully selected eugenically perfect specimens.

Re:Brought to you by Fox News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46543569)

This is about a partnership with a space company.

Re:Brought to you by Fox News (1)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | about 6 months ago | (#46543589)

Fox does whatever it takes to get viewers/readers, including playing both sides of the issue. This was vividly demonstrated to me a few years ago when a guy I knew in high school and is a Facebook friend was posting some anti-vaccine nut job article to support his view. He posted a link to an article on Fox News from a NY pediatrician who was warning parents that the flu vaccine (this when during the flu scare of a few years ago when the government recommended getting children immunized against the flu) was likely to lead to autism and all kinds of nasty things. At the exact same time there was a different article written by Fox New's own Dr. Manny touting the benefits of the flu vaccine for everybody, including children.

Re:Brought to you by Fox News (3)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 6 months ago | (#46543687)

Links please. The tone of the articles are paramount. If the first was an expose, it's not quite what you paint. Even if it's as you portray, that's preferable to say, CNN, which has points of view it *never* airs because it's against their political agenda.

Re:Brought to you by Fox News (1)

rockout (1039072) | about 6 months ago | (#46543719)

Even if it's as you portray, that's preferable to say, CNN, which has points of view it *never* airs because it's against their political agenda.

Proof please.

Re:Brought to you by Fox News (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 6 months ago | (#46544137)

So...on those treasured occasions when Fox presents both sides of an issue, that's Bad? This must be coming from the same set of squirrel-reasoning critics who are responsible for the recent amazing reversal of leftist support for company commuter buses.

Re:Brought to you by Fox News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46543593)

It's not a waste if it means beating the Sov- err, the Chinese.

Re:Brought to you by Fox News (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46543619)

Yes, but the GOP like pork.

Re: Brought to you by Fox News (1)

imanism (2478498) | about 6 months ago | (#46543887)

Actually, since this article is really advocating privitizing space missions, in this case to the moon, it fits in very nicely with Fox News modus operandi. I cannot think of a more appropriate stance from the really. Although it is a bit weird that they are sounding pro space travel, but after hearing so much about drilling in asteroids I am sure they are thinking there is money in it, and the idea of taking money into the private sector - whatever the cost - before the gov can get their hands on it is what they are all about.

Re:Brought to you by Fox News (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 6 months ago | (#46543965)

Aren't they usually the champion of smaller government

No, they're the champions of Republicans who have little interest in 'smaller government.'

China being the lead in space... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46543401)

China being the lead in space isn't just an economic advantage, it is a military one. Just a satellite with metal rods in a high orbit can do more damage by tossing them to earth than most nuclear warheads can.

Plus, if China gets a moon presence established and then causes the Kessler syndrome to manifest, they would have the ultimate high ground for communication for centuries (only nation that would have reliable communications and GPS after the satellites get shredded.)

Re:China being the lead in space... (3, Funny)

Billy the Mountain (225541) | about 6 months ago | (#46544037)

Hey, the late 1950's called. They want their silly argument back!

Re:China being the lead in space... (1)

ahadsell (248479) | about 6 months ago | (#46544073)

Rocks are good, too. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress [wikipedia.org]

Re:China being the lead in space... (2)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | about 6 months ago | (#46544267)

The only thing high orbit gets you for a kinetic energy weapon is acceleration in a vacuum ... you still need a huge rocket behind that metal bar with more energy in it's fuel than most nuclear warheads.

Lets divert some military funds (5, Insightful)

adric22 (413850) | about 6 months ago | (#46543405)

You know just 1% of our military budget diverted to NASA could do amazing things.. imagine if we diverted half of that budget!

Re:Lets divert some military funds (3, Insightful)

deathcloset (626704) | about 6 months ago | (#46543591)

By slashing the US military budget like that we could quickly and easily build a moon base which along with our country would quickly and easily be taken over by another country's military.

;) oh I kid.

But honestly, what do you think would happen if the US military were suddenly defunded? Do you think the other countries would be like - good for them! We don't need militaries any more any how and certainly not a single one of us big countries with our current militaries would ever dream of using our forces again the US, even as defenseless as they are right now with all their resources and food and two coastlines and pop music...

All snarkiness aside, I agree with your sentiment and wish we had interplanetary spacecraft and bases on more than one moon :( - almost even at the risk of the US's national security...almost.

And I almost actually believe that even if the US military were to shrink hugely that we would not be attacked, because I don't think the average citizen in a non-us western country would want to attack/invade another civilized country. No, not the people, but the governments of those countries (governments are things which function almost like independent living entities themselves seemingly making their own decisions) are what there is to be concerned about.

Yes, civilized countries maintaining huge military powers is just the way it is right now. In the future when countries don't have militaries anymore I'm sure we will look back on our time the same way we look at the american old west: we will understand that the environment of the time required that everyone carry a pistol, and that the harshness of the climate (ecological, financial and social) resulted in far more altercations than would seem reasonable - but they will understand.

And they will probably make a ton of movies about our time too.

And they will probably watch them on their fancy-dancy moon bases.

whatever. good for them.

;)

Re:Lets divert some military funds (2)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 6 months ago | (#46543833)

Governments are a reflection of the people.

Most people refuse to believe this because their evil is just on a smaller scale. There are actually countries that aren't greedy and don't think the only way to survive is to grab as much as possible.

Re:Lets divert some military funds (4, Insightful)

Patch86 (1465427) | about 6 months ago | (#46544169)

The US military budget is the same as the next 10 biggest national military budgets put together. Yes, that includes China- and 9 more. Put together. And that's forgetting the fact that the US military isn't just the military of the US- it includes all of the NATO forces (which is fully 5 of the top 10 spenders, and 23 other non-top-10 members), as well as functionally close allies like Japan and South Korea (numbers 5 and 12 in the "top spending" rankings).

The US would be in no great danger if it lopped 5% off of it's military budget. You could cut the budget in half and it would still be larger than numbers 2 and 3 (China and Russia) put together. Again, not even counting NATO.

To put figures on it- the Apollo programme was estimated to have costed $109 billion in 2010 dollar (accounting for inflation). That's for the full 15 year or so programme. The US was estimated to have spent $682 billion in 2013 on the military. So to pay for the entire Apollo programme all over again, you would only need to divert roughly 1.2% of the annual military budget each year.

Mass drivers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46544217)

very cheap solution

Re: Lets divert some military funds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46543677)

Hell, it could do amazing things *for the military*. Win-Win!

Re:Lets divert some military funds (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 6 months ago | (#46543725)

Funding a new moon shot and colony would make a new economic boom. The last Space Age gave us a lot of useful items. Another moon race, this time with tech from this decade instead of 1960s technology may bring about a lot of useful side projects.

At the minimum, it would bring a renaissance to both embedded programming and computer development in general (mainly because there is no room for error, and shipping an "early alpha" as release code just won't cut it.) It might even result in software development models that are not "at this date, build the tree and ship regardless of the bug report states" which seems to be the usual case.

Maybe it might get funding for a space elevator which would make getting on and off the Earth a lot easier, coupled with a similar one on the moon.

Even if the money made nothing, it sure at least paid for some research which might be useful later on, similar to Corning's Gorilla Glass.

Re:Lets divert some military funds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46543763)

Or you could fund a Moon base on what goes to Medicare fraud.

Re:Lets divert some military funds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46544027)

It's always the poor's fault for conservatards.

Re:Lets divert some military funds (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 6 months ago | (#46543801)

NASA == Military. You can't separate them, just shuffle money around to hide actual costs.

Re:Lets divert some military funds (1)

butalearner (1235200) | about 6 months ago | (#46543995)

You know just 1% of our military budget diverted to NASA could do amazing things.. imagine if we diverted half of that budget!

To put that in perspective, you're talking about diverting about $5 billion from military spending, which would increase NASA's budget by about a quarter. If they put it all toward space stuff, it's an even larger increase. Check out the NASA 2015 budget request summary [nasa.gov] . No, seriously, check it out, it's actually a really interesting document with pictures, details, and progress of all of their programs.

Whenever people talk about cutting or diverting budgets, it usually means shaking up and losing jobs, which is bad for productivity all around. But, if you cut the budget for certain military programs and give it to civilian space programs, a lot of the same players, needing a lot of the same engineering talent, are involved. There would still be shake-ups as contracts are lost by one company and picked up by another, but it's a far better situation than simple budget cuts or taking money away from one industry to spend in another.

Yeah, too bad there's no real reason to do so.... (1, Interesting)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about 6 months ago | (#46543409)

The moon is a symbol, but there's no *practical* reason to go there, establish a base, a colony, or a really good restaurant. Near earth orbital stations, in contrast, might be developed profitably for power stations, zero G manufacturing of exotic materials, ubiquitous satellite-based internet, and so on.

The focus on the moon and Mars is just cold war era, retro silliness. We have limited resources to throw at space. This is the time to throw them at something that will give us some return.

Re:Yeah, too bad there's no real reason to do so.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46543475)

Even though you can see Space Nuttery for what it is: delusional sci-fi religious nonsense for atheists, you still cling to some 1960s propaganda of "zero-g manufacturing"... Look, either 3D printing will replace that or we never needed it, or indeed, even do it.

Re:Yeah, too bad there's no real reason to do so.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46543515)

He gave a reason in the article. It would be "inspiring." Can someone explain why it would be so inspiring to go back? If people cannot get adequately jazzed over the stunning achievements of putting rovers on Mars then watching people sit in a tiny capsule on the moon with nothing productive to do is certainly not the answer.

Re:Yeah, too bad there's no real reason to do so.. (2)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about 6 months ago | (#46543603)

The moon is rich in valuable resources (water: hydrogen, oxygen) that are hard to find elsewhere in Earth orbit. These resources are much cheaper (in an asymptotic sense) to get from the moon than from Earth due to the weaker gravity. The moon will be a practical location for a base for as long as demand for fuel, air, and water in Earth orbit remains high.

Re:Yeah, too bad there's no real reason to do so.. (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 6 months ago | (#46543743)

It's a lot easier to get water from earth, then it is to launch a rocket to the moon, gather up sparsely distributed water or elements that make up water, and get it back to earth. Even desalination of sea water would be many times more efficient than going to the moon to get water. There's a lot of water on earth, the problem is that it's badly distributed.

I would say that it's entirely likely that the amount of water you could get from a single rocket trip to the moon, would be less than that which you could get from the rocket fuel itself, which is just hydrogen and oxygen anyway.

Re:Yeah, too bad there's no real reason to do so.. (2)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about 6 months ago | (#46543821)

It takes roughly an order of magnitude more energy to get water into space from the Earth than it does from the moon.

I said "in an asymptotic sense". If you're not familiar with asymptotic analysis, then the response you were looking for was "*whoosh*". Nobody's talking about a single rocket trip to the moon.

Re:Yeah, too bad there's no real reason to do so.. (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 6 months ago | (#46543849)

Your reading comprehension needs work.

Or are you so used to setting up strawmen and burning them that you got carried away?

Re:Yeah, too bad there's no real reason to do so.. (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about 6 months ago | (#46544219)

I assume this is a bad attempt at trolling, but we don't need to bring water to Earth, we want water as fuel for space ships and if that fuels is easier to get from the Moon, then it'll lower costs.

Step1) Launch ship into space
Step2) Refuel from the Moon
Step3) To infinity and beyond!

Re:Yeah, too bad there's no real reason to do so.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46543617)

but there's no *practical* reason to go there

Helium-3. Well, once we figure out fusion, which is always just ten years off.

Re:Yeah, too bad there's no real reason to do so.. (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 6 months ago | (#46543625)

The moon consists of a large amount of helium 3, a wonderful fuel source that can easily be used to go pretty much everywhere else in the solar system.

Most current space ships have to lift the fuel out of the earth's gravity well, which means they have practically none left to go anywhere at speed. instead they drift along without any engine providing thrust.

So yes there ARE practical reasons to go to the moon.

P.S. Your argument itself is flawed. People said the same thing about the Louisiana purchase, California, Alaska, etc. It is only after we actually go places and spend time there that we discover the many many resources that make going there worthwhile.

Re:Yeah, too bad there's no real reason to do so.. (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 6 months ago | (#46543781)

Helium 3 *might* be useful if fusion research goes the way that many people expect it to. But considering that a lot of those same people expected us to have a useful fusion reactor by 1990, I don't put a ton of stock into their opinions.

You might have missed it in the newspapers, but people went to the moon repeatedly in the late 60s and early 70s. They brought back a ton of rocks for analysis. That analysis showed that the moon contained a bunch of worthless rocks that were very similar to the worthless rocks right here on Earth.

Re:Yeah, too bad there's no real reason to do so.. (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 6 months ago | (#46543931)

The moon consists of a large amount of helium 3

Well... relatively. It would still take processing hundreds of tons of lunar rock to get useful amounts of He3, which in turn means hundreds of tons of equipment, fuel, etc, especially since you're going to want lots and lots of the stuff, not just a sample.

a wonderful fuel source that can easily be used to go pretty much everywhere else in the solar system.

Easily? You know we do have He3 here on Earth right and we still aren't at the point of firing up a fusion reactor with it. Granted, if there were a large and steady supply it would certainly lead to more research into He3 reactors (right now He3 reactors simply can't be economically feasible), but you're still talking a few decades of research and development for a reactor on the ground, let alone putting one in space which would require miniaturizing and automating the first generation by orders of magnitude.

Most current space ships have to lift the fuel out of the earth's gravity well, which means they have practically none left to go anywhere at speed. instead they drift along without any engine providing thrust.

There's reasons for this that go beyond fuel, VASMIR engines combined with orbital refueling with more run of the mill propellents and energy sources for example. We don't do it though, not because it's impossible, but because it's expensive and high risk. Not nearly as expensive and high risk as trying to jump start a He3 economy based on the moon.

Re:Yeah, too bad there's no real reason to do so.. (1)

gclef (96311) | about 6 months ago | (#46543639)

Agree. The moon's dust problem alone makes it problematic. I'd argue for L4 or L5 before the moon. There's still some dust at L4 & L5, but the sheer amount of it is much lower, and the gravity well to get there (and leave again) is much lower. It's not as inpsiring to say "we're on L4!", but it's also a first-person-gets-it kinda situation...you can have multiple moon bases, but really only one at L4 or L5.

Re:Yeah, too bad there's no real reason to do so.. (1)

ChromaticDragon (1034458) | about 6 months ago | (#46543683)

I agree with you on the most part as long as we are thinking of things in the sense of economic/investment value.

Think of anything really and ask yourself whether it makes more sense to build/do such in space or down in another gravity well.

But for raw science, I would hope that we start deploying (very) large telescopes on the far side of the moon.

Re:Yeah, too bad there's no real reason to do so.. (3)

KDN (3283) | about 6 months ago | (#46543767)

No reason to go? Exploration, research, challenges and opportunities and technical advances that we can't even begin to articulate. We have not even begun to explore the moon. More men accompanied Christopher Columbus on his first voyage to the New World than have landed on the moon. Even without men we can send dozens of missions to help iron out the details of new propulsion systems like ion or hall or vascimar. We can develop and deploy robotic probes with a far faster turn around time (and less need to gold plate everything) by doing the development on the moon instead of Mars. We can see the long term radiation effects on materials once they are outside of Earth's protective magnetic field. Put even a small observatory on the far side of the moon and you open up huge opportunities shielded from all the transmitters on Earth, and outside of Earth's atmosphere. I would put several at different spots to enable long baseline measurements as well as lessen the expense of triple redundant systems in case of failure.

H

And lastly, give this generation something to shoot for. Something other than the newest Angry Birds or social media app. Something to shoot for, to make history, to inspire a new generation like JFK's speech on going to the moon. It will happen. The question is, will they speak Chinese or American?

Re:Yeah, too bad there's no real reason to do so.. (1)

deathcloset (626704) | about 6 months ago | (#46543771)

... We have limited resources to throw at space. This is the time to throw them at something that will give us some return.

We have limited resources to throw at space because we have limited resources down here - but I know a place with ~limitless resources and it's called space. True, it's full of mostly nothing, but where there is something there tends to be a whooooooole lot of something.

What's on the moon anyhow? Rocks? Are you sure that's all? We can't really be sure unless we look.

Re:Yeah, too bad there's no real reason to do so.. (1)

Warbothong (905464) | about 6 months ago | (#46543847)

The moon is a symbol, but there's no *practical* reason to go there, establish a base, a colony, or a really good restaurant.

Colonies are the reason. We need to get some of our eggs out of this Earth-shaped basket. Having a colony in Earth orbit is the easiest place to start, and the Moon is the easiest place in Earth orbit. It has gravity, so there's no need to tether everything like there is on ISS, and it has ground, which is a good source of building materials and momentum. Digging out a decently-sized lunar colony (robotically, or course) would be far easier than crafting the same size colony in free space.

Near earth orbital stations, in contrast, might be developed profitably for power stations, zero G manufacturing of exotic materials, ubiquitous satellite-based internet, and so on.

These are all short-term goals. They can (and arguably should) all be done right now, at small scale, on the ISS. They don't do anything to get us into space though; in fact they'd probably be better if all the humans involved stay on the ground.

The focus on the moon and Mars is just cold war era, retro silliness. We have limited resources to throw at space. This is the time to throw them at something that will give us some return.

We have limited resources *on Earth*. Space has its own resources. Some of them might be dropped down to Earth, but they're more useful up there.

Re:Yeah, too bad there's no real reason to do so.. (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 6 months ago | (#46544061)

This is the time to throw them at something that will give us some return.

Did you brush your teeth with toothpaste? How about have some clean sanitized water from the tap or to bathe in? Look, I can run down a list of hundreds of other NASA creations that benefit all of the world in your every day lives, but I don't have the time. Google exists. Stop being a fucking idiot.

I'm happy to work for free towards this goal (1)

spiritplumber (1944222) | about 6 months ago | (#46543419)

I'm happy to work for free towards this goal. Already doing a bit of NASA stuff on the side, if they want my full time attention, they can have it, I can live off royalties for a bit. Space stuff is awesome.

For the sake of humanity... (2)

LordFolken (731855) | about 6 months ago | (#46543423)

Wouldn't a collaboration between ESA NASA JPL CSPA Roscosmos be more fruitful? Space race is so last century. - Folken

Re:For the sake of humanity... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46543545)

A Space Committee would be much better!

That's great and all... (2)

dacarr (562277) | about 6 months ago | (#46543437)

Look, this is great and all, but if I see some ugly polyester costumes, 1970s hair, and giant pneumatic tubes that carry people to and fro on that base, i'm going to seriously consider researching sustainable and well-lit subterranean shelter to ride out the impending lunar nuclear disaster.

Re:That's great and all... (1)

deathcloset (626704) | about 6 months ago | (#46543901)

Evolution saith: you are where you are.

Your environment shapes your evolution. Humans have the ability to live in more environments than any other complex lifeform - and some environments that even the simple lifeforms can't live in (virtual worlds for example). If you live subterranean, you become subterranean.

Maybe that's ok: whatever works is another of evolution's favorite sayings. After all, subterranean life has some real advantages: the naked mole rat doesn't get cancer and lives for a very long time, but they are blind because they don't need eyes any more. I want to keep my eyes. I like looking at the stars.

Now, having said all that, the obvious irony is that if we do go-a-exploring in space and want to build bases on the actual surface of rocky harsh planets, well, the best way to do it is to make them subterranean!

Maybe the solution is to try to be as many animals as we can an to try to live in as many environments as we can. Maybe that will cause evolutionary forces to bestow on us the greatest and largest variation of shapes.

Maybe.

Don't do like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46543451)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCd1Vfj8HOM

Launch costs are expensive for a reason (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46543463)

It's not the fuel that's expensive, it's the thing you put it in. And that rocket has to function perfectly, 100% of the time, across a giant temperature, pressure and acceleration gradient. And it has to be "man-rated," in other words, made survivable in case of a failed launch and prepared for atmospheric re-entry, which are some of the most extreme conditions known to mankind. Most of the costs that are being complained about are due to the absolutely necessary safety culture built into the manufacturing of these vehicles, stacked on top of amortized R&D (hint: SpaceX didn't need to do nearly as much R&D as they did to get the Saturn V off the ground).

I can barely make ends meet (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 6 months ago | (#46543491)

I'm working my ass off just to support my family. I already can't afford to save up for my kids' college, and our medical bills are extensive.

Ask my how much I want to be taxed to send someone to the moon right now.

Re:I can barely make ends meet (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46543553)

And yet you're fine spending a hundred times more on defense budget?

Re:I can barely make ends meet (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 6 months ago | (#46543581)

Facts:

1) A trip to the moon costs about $150 million dollars. (http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/45399-how-much-would-it-cost-to-go-to-the-moon-and-live-there-as-a-civilian/)

2) There are over 300 million people in the US today.

Conclusions: Either

a) You are woefully uniformed economically which probably explains why you can't afford to save for your kids college.

b) You realize a mission to the moon would cost you about 50cents but are so cheap you won't spend it.

or most likely c) You are the kind of idiot that thinks buying overpriced coffee is fine, but won't spend that same amount of cash on the moon.

Re:I can barely make ends meet (1)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about 6 months ago | (#46543695)

Kickstarter raised $10M for a wristwatch.

Perhaps $150M isn't out of reach?

Re:I can barely make ends meet (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 6 months ago | (#46543841)

And just to provide even more perspective: A trip to the moon costs $150 million. The US military budget for 2014 is $526.6 billion. So a moon trip is 0.02% of the military's budget. Or, if we divide the military's budget into 365*24 chunks to get an hourly budget, the moon trip would cost a mere 2.5 hours of the military's budget. Even if we doubled this an used 5 hours of military budget-time it would be a bargain.

Re:I can barely make ends meet (1)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about 6 months ago | (#46543641)

Solution: have your kids pay for college themselves (grants, scholarships, loans), and reallocate those funds towards sending people to the moon.

Also, advocating for single-payer healthcare might solve your medical bills problem.

Perhaps an expansion of social welfare programs might alleviate the burden of supporting your family as well.

Somehow, I don't think these are the answers you wanted to hear.

Re:I can barely make ends meet (1)

Kenja (541830) | about 6 months ago | (#46543665)

So why did you have kids you can't afford and why is that our problem?

Re:I can barely make ends meet (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 6 months ago | (#46543789)

So why did you have kids you can't afford and why is that our problem?

So it's only valid to have kids so long as we can afford an unnecessary moonshot?

Re:I can barely make ends meet (1)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about 6 months ago | (#46543871)

If your kids are fifty cents away from starvation, I'd argue that the "unnecessary moonshot" isn't the reason why you can't afford them.

Re:I can barely make ends meet (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | about 6 months ago | (#46543729)

I'm in a similar boat to you but I still support spending money on the space program over a lot of the other garbage on which our government spends money.

Re:I can barely make ends meet (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 6 months ago | (#46543787)

I'm in the same situation and yet I'd love to have more of my tax dollars put to use in getting people to the Moon (and all the scientific and engineering accomplishments that doing this would entail) and less of my tax dollars put to use in buying new bombers, missiles, and the like. Even if the first Moon trip was 90% PR and 10% science (having the astronauts "live tweeting" from their suits somehow, live HD feeds streaming in online, etc), it would be a better use than Yet-Another-Device-To-Kill-Lots-Of-People.

Re:I can barely make ends meet (1)

itsenrique (846636) | about 6 months ago | (#46543937)

Ask your what how much? But seriously. Your problems with medical bills could be solved if you lived in a country with socialized medicine. I've met people like you, bitch about the government and taxes and "ObamaCare" while you're bankrupted by our ridiculous medical system and screwed by our low wages and jobs exported to India. Somehow, more republican stuff is the answer! If you had even read the summary you'd realize they are trying to do more with what they have by way of a private partnership anyway, not raise your taxes $2 a year (you need that money for medical bills, wah!). GTFO.

Re:I can barely make ends meet (2)

Bengie (1121981) | about 6 months ago | (#46544257)

Why should we care about your kids going to college when people in Africa are starving? If you stop everything to wait until something is finished, they'll never get anything done. 80/20 rule for life!

Back to the moon? How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46543517)

How can they do a moon landing again? There are too many spy satellites that will spot their sets in New Mexico, everyone will know.

Can you imagine some idiot with too much time on his hands (it's *ALWAYS* a "him") finding the "lunar" rover on Google Maps and the furor it would cause?

Plus, I don't think Buzz Aldrin has enough spit and vinegar left to go clobbering the whole Internet when it comes to light.

GLWT.

Re:Back to the moon? How? (1)

KDN (3283) | about 6 months ago | (#46543803)

Who needs a movie set when you can do everything CGI?

Savvy (4, Insightful)

Princeofcups (150855) | about 6 months ago | (#46543519)

"They need a technically savvy and resourceful country to lead."

That leaves us (USA) out, sadly. Unless it can pull in advertising revenue, it ain't happening. I hope China does well with their moon exploration.

Re:Savvy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46543621)

Just think of the money some mega-corp would pay to have their logo emblazoned across the surface of the moon every night.
Perhaps that's the elusive 3: ????? step before 4: Profit!

Re:Savvy (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 6 months ago | (#46543635)

So putting an SUV sized rover on Mars does not require technical savvy or resourcefulness?

Re:Savvy (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 6 months ago | (#46543673)

Well, "Lead" and "technically savvy" doesn't mean "doing the actual building." We're quite good giving money to china for building stuff. That SORTA fits the bill. What better way to complete the transition from the US being the superpower to China being the superpower than to build a base on the moon? We'll go into debt to them having them build it, then we'll give them the United States with the serfs, in order to pay off the debt. Meanwhile all the billionaires will take up residence in the moonbase.

...I think I just thought up the prequel to "Elysium."

Re:Savvy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46544021)

Well, "Lead" and "technically savvy" doesn't mean "doing the actual building." We're quite good giving money to china for building stuff. That SORTA fits the bill.

Yeah, how'd that Chinese moon rover work out for them, huh?

Re:Savvy (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 6 months ago | (#46544189)

That was them building and doing the planning themselves. I'm saying the US can sit back and delegate and spend, and the Chinese will do the boring parts and get the money.

Re:Savvy (2)

KDN (3283) | about 6 months ago | (#46544209)

Well, "Lead" and "technically savvy" doesn't mean "doing the actual building." We're quite good giving money to china for building stuff. That SORTA fits the bill.

Yeah, how'd that Chinese moon rover work out for them, huh?

How many of our missions blew up on the launch pad or burned up in the atmosphere due to a conversion error or had mirrors ground to the wrong focal length? With every step you should learn something, even if its what not to do. To paraphrase Q: if your that afraid of risk you should go crawl under your bed and hide.

If only NASA stayed focused (1)

mi (197448) | about 6 months ago | (#46543563)

NASA is working on one, called the Space Launch System, but the agency is constrained by its budget

Maybe, if the National Aeronautics and Space Administration focused on the actual Aeronautics and Space, without venturing into things like Muslim outreach [realclearpolitics.com] (to, and I quote: "help them feel good about their historic contribution to science") and research of industrial civilizations [theguardian.com] (collapse inevitable), they could scrape a few more bucks and deliver the rocket before Russia (or China) do...

This is more worthy of our budget than... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46543565)

a lot of things. It is worth more than a tiny bit of our defense budget, and there would actually be some carry-over with the technology.

NASA's budget is so small that even doing something as drastic as doubling or tripling it wouldn't make a big impact on our national budget. We get good return on the budget in technology, in world leadership, and in restoring some national pride.

Do it!

Google Translator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46543577)

"We need taxpayers to pave the way to the moon, and once benefits start, we privatise the hell out of it"

Re:Google Translator (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about 6 months ago | (#46544277)

Last time we wanted to get to the moon, we got microwaves, cellphones, and computers. I wonder what new tech we'll get this time. Look it up, NASA seeded the initial research into a lot of tech that we use today, and that tech was not considered a good ROI to the private market, yet the entire private market today runs entirely on that tech.

This isn't a competition, join efforts with China. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46543605)

Space exploration isn't a dick measuring contest. We shouldn't rely on the private sector for this either.

The US and China and even Europe should regroup their budgets and efforts under one single project and make a fucking base on the moon for the greater good of humanity as whole.

We are so childish, *facepalm*

Screw the Moon, screw Mars (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 6 months ago | (#46543637)

I say we go to Saturn and build a base there!

Re:Screw the Moon, screw Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46543703)

Been there, done that:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCd1Vfj8HOM

Good Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46543667)

We are really hopeful [saint-fox.com]

Loses credibility with this statement (2)

wisebabo (638845) | about 6 months ago | (#46543739)

"three- or four-day notice of a missile strike off the moon"

Sorry but I really doubt that the moon is a useful military platform. As he mentions, you would get a three or four day notice of an attack; on the other hand an ICBM launched from a nuclear sub on a depressed trajectory has a flight time measured in MINUTES. The cost (and difficulty, and danger) of lugging a nuclear tipped missile (capable of crossing cislunar space) all the way to the moon (and maintaining it and protecting it against solar flares, cosmic rays, temperature extremes, and meteorites) would be enormous. His own estimates contend it would cost $300M just to put 8 tons on the lunar surface. Presumably the missiles wouldn't just lie around on the surface but would have to be dug in (excavation equipment, power requirements). And don't even solid fueled ICBMs need regular topping up of some critical elements? (batteries need to be replaced, tritium in nuclear triggers decays). So a supply chain stretching to EARTH must be maintained or the value of this deterrent (there's no way it could be used for a first strike, even today we've imaged the entire lunar surface to a meter resolution) goes away.

Unless he's proposing that the Chinese build an entire lunar colony with the industrial capacity to build robust launch systems, this is wildly impractical. On the other hand if the Chinese can manage to put a serious industrial infrastructure (creating solid fuels from lunar dust? mining uranium ore?) on the moon in a few decades then the U.S. will have a lot more to worry about than getting nuked by china. (Nuclear Bombs are the only practical weapon for something costing this much, "rods from god" are great when compared to chemical explosives but with E=MC2 a nuclear warhead has millions of times more energy per kg).

It would be great to see NASA use Space X's Falcon heavy instead of their own heavy lift launcher which seems like a huge waste of taxpayer money (and that's if it even gets built). Unfortunately, after reading his outlandish (jingoistic?) fears about China, I have to question the rest of his reasoning. No wonder why Fox News is publishing this.

Re:Loses credibility with this statement (1)

cellocgw (617879) | about 6 months ago | (#46544017)

Sorry but I really doubt that the moon is a useful military platform. As he mentions, you would get a three or four day notice of an attack; on the other hand an ICBM launched from a nuclear sub on a depressed trajectory has a flight time measured in MINUTES. The cost (and difficulty, and danger) of lugging a nuclear tipped missile (capable of crossing cislunar space) all the way to the moon (and maintaining it and protecting it against solar flares, cosmic rays, temperature extremes, and meteorites) would be enormous.

Turn in your nerd card, as you obviously don't understand that Sherlock can easily launch moon boulders into ballistic trajectories whose CEP is sufficiently small to wreak havoc on Earth cities.

Oink, Oink (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 6 months ago | (#46543773)

This is just pork-grabbing move to pull in more money for the Rocket To Nowhere (Space Launch System or SLS) and continue to rob the Science Directorate of funds it needs for real science missions such as the Europa mission or Mars Sample Return. Going back to the moon is just a stunt to continue pointless manned missions.

We already went back to moon last year!!!! (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 6 months ago | (#46543809)

It was the Grail mission to study gravity anomalies. It was a successful and cheap and scientifically meaningful mission, unlike the proposed manned pork-laden mission.

Crush works for SpaceX (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 6 months ago | (#46543815)

I assume...

ta3o (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46544031)

ano7her charnel [goat.cx]

NASA lowering launch costs? (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | about 6 months ago | (#46544109)

I'm normally one to scoff at privatization of things like space exploration, but frankly finding the best ways to lower costs is precisely the kind of thing the private sector does best. Let 30 little companies work on the problem. There's plenty of a market in satellite launches to finance this. The ones with ideas that don't pan out will go belly-up, and the one or two that hit on good solutions will survive. There's no possible way a single organization (eg: NASA) can do that job properly.

NASA needs to be working on things that we just flat out don't know how to do, or it would be totally impractical for more than one group to attempt.

Where are the conspiracy types? (1)

spacepimp (664856) | about 6 months ago | (#46544271)

I thought this discussion would be full of people denying we ever went to the moon. I guess my brother doesn't read /.

New competition announced today (2)

paiute (550198) | about 6 months ago | (#46544273)

NASA announced today a competition to find the best epitaphs to go on the tombstones of future astronauts. Current frontrunners are YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR and THIS MEMORIAL ALSO PURCHASED FROM THE LOWEST BIDDER.
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