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NASA Plan to Return to the Moon

CmdrTaco posted about 9 years ago | from the i'll-believe-it-when-i'm-sipping-tang dept.

NASA 531

sjoeboo writes "NASA briefed senior White House officials Wednesday on its plan to spend $100 billion during the next 12 years building the spacecraft and rockets it needs to put humans back on the Moon by 2018. The U.S. space agency now expects to roll out its lunar exploration plan to key Congressional committees on Friday and to the broader public through a news conference on Monday."

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Update on Old News (5, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 9 years ago | (#13568309)

Just to be clear, this isn't new news. The CEV (Crew Exploration Vehicle) program has been designed from the beginning with orbital, trans-lunar, and lunar landing phases. What this article is about is an update on those existing plans. The bright side to this is that NASA is making real progress on the CEV program as opposed to making it a "miracle technology" that just need money poured into it as they have been so guilty of in the past. (Not that the CEV program doesn't need money. They need LOTS of money.)

The big changes since the inception of the program have been:

  • The death of the Orbital Space Plane [] idea, and the birth of the CEV concept.
  • The plan to use less expensive and potentially reusable capsule technology instead of today's combined engine/habitat technology.
  • The death of the "Spiral" plan of development. Griffin has made it clear to congress that he plans to trim the fat and do this in whatever way makes sense, not according to a military development schedule.
  • As a result of the abandoning of the spiral plan, NASA believes that they can have the Orbital phase hardware completed by 2008 instead of 2011.
  • A great deal of research is being done on the use of Nuclear Engines for the later trans-Mars phase.

IMHO, Bush's administration has done a reasonable job of making sure that we are on a viable track to returning to the moon and reaching Mars. My hope is that the next President who shows up doesn't dive in and try to change everything. The plan is good. It only needs some nursemaiding, not micromanagement from on high. Thankfully there's a great deal of pressure to replace the Space Shuttle, so the future President may be willing to just let NASA do their job.

(FYI, Wikipedia has been keeping extremely good track of CEV Development [] as it happens. While Wikipedia is not a news source, this particular article is a good place to go for the latest status of the project.)

Re:Update on Old News (1, Offtopic)

tmauro (304512) | about 9 years ago | (#13568321)

I wonder if this is the relocation of New Orleans.. didn't they figure that would be $100billion to fix up after Katrina?

Re:Update on Old News (1)

AJWM (19027) | about 9 years ago | (#13568699)

Hey, sounds like a great plot for a movie [] .

(Okay, so it wasn't New Orleans. But the town was rendered uninhabitable.)

Re:Update on Old News (4, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | about 9 years ago | (#13568478)

The $100 billion price tag is news, however, and good news. Usually when a president (any president) tries to give NASA an objective, NASA gets pissy and invents a price tag in the trillions and announces that everyones favorite programs will all have to be cut and 10,000 kittens slain to achieve that goal. That sort of turf war doesn't help anyone.

This seems ike a legitimate plan with a reasonable price tag, however, and I'm excited to hear it! Short timelines? Nuclear engines? This is the NASA that once kicked so much ass! I completely agree: it's now about whether the next president will ruin it.

Re:Update on Old News (4, Funny)

Chosen Reject (842143) | about 9 years ago | (#13568555)

They'll probably have to kill a lot more if they're going to use this guy's [] engine.

Not really that much money (5, Informative)

fsh (751959) | about 9 years ago | (#13568483)

Here's a link to NASA's 2004 Budgetary Analysis [] , done about a year ago (there should be a new one out sometime soon).

If you look about halfway down, you'll see that the budget of the CEV is far outweighed by NASA's other activities, as well as being less than the amount budgeted for the Space Shuttle.

Re:Update on Old News (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13568743)

Bush supporting sciences?

nah, there must be something juicy on the moon to bomb.

Mars on hold... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13568317)

What happened to Mars by 2015?

Re:Mars on hold... (4, Funny)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | about 9 years ago | (#13568447)

What happened to flying cars by 2000?

Re:Mars on hold... (3, Informative)

fsh (751959) | about 9 years ago | (#13568529)

Bush's Vision for Space Exploration [] never gave a date for going to Mars. He said the Moon by 2020, and then Mars, well, sometime after that.

It's not going to happen. (5, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 9 years ago | (#13568566)

Set a date, any date, as long as it's two or more presidencies away and you basically don't have to come through with your promises, even better, someone else will take the blame.

Basically there isn't the political will to do something like this so they kick it into the long grass and allow schedules to slide, costs to rise until it becomes too expensive and has to be cut.

They're talking 100 billion anyway. They'd be better offering a 100 million prize for an orbital vehicle, half a billion prize for a lunar orbiter, a billion or two for a lunar base etc.


Re:Mars on hold... (1, Insightful)

freidog (706941) | about 9 years ago | (#13568596)

Mars in ten years? Oh, that was just a political tool to move the news cycle from whatever massive screwup the white house was involved in that particular week to grandious dreams of unfunded potential futures.

Katrina kills this, I predict (4, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | about 9 years ago | (#13568320)

With Bush set to drop $200 billion on Katrina, finding money for going to the moon is going to be difficult. However, with the Chinese headed into space again, maybe they can argue it for national security.

Re:Katrina kills this, I predict (3, Insightful)

Karma_fucker_sucker (898393) | about 9 years ago | (#13568391)

With Bush set to drop $200 billion on Katrina, finding money for going to the moon is going to be difficult

Also include: Iraq and Afganistan wars, Tax Cuts, High Oil prices, huge budget deficits, huge trade deficits, etc ...

The US needs a financial planner or at least a debt councilor.

I love space exploration. I grew up wanting to be an astronaut. But I just don't see the justification for this at this time. A good distraction, I guess.

Re:Katrina kills this, I predict (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13568595)

The US needs a financial planner or at least a debt councilor.

Pfft! You need to start thinking like this planets greatest creature: The squirrel. We don't need planners or councilors. What we need are money machines, running full-time, 24/7!

Vote squirrel in 2008!

Re:Katrina kills this, I predict (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13568603)

They have one, and his goal is to kill the modern American Federal Government.

Re:Katrina kills this, I predict (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13568404)

$200 billion is small compared to the US budget. The Russians have not even put a man on the moon so I would not expect the Chinese to surpass them.

Re:Katrina kills this, I predict (4, Insightful)

Armchair Dissident (557503) | about 9 years ago | (#13568713)

For Russia, a man on the moon is no longer either a political imperative or an economic viability, whereas China now has both.

China is now a serious economic power, a declared nuclear power, a "space-faring" nation (since it put a man in orbit) and a major political force. Unless I'm greatly mistaken it has already has a stated aim of putting a man on the moon.

For China, this is - much like the American landing was - a political move: a show of power and technology as much intended as a show of power to the populous as a "tacit threat" to its political opposition.

Remember: China is a brutal communist regime; a man on the moon would boost its international stance, and help silence critics at home. And they're not playing directly against America in a Cold War "winner takes all" game which makes it much easier, as they don't have to "get there first" they just have to get there.

Re:Katrina kills this, I predict (2, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 9 years ago | (#13568416)

It's not as hard as you think. NASA's 2006 budget is $16 billion dollars [] . That money is already in the congressional budget. Now NASA can use their next 12 years of funds to fly to the moon (PLEASE!) or they can send the Space Shuttle up and down, up and down, up and down, (sensing a pattern yet?) up and down, up and down, up and down, up and...

Well, you get the idea.

Re:Katrina kills this, I predict (2, Funny)

Chosen Reject (842143) | about 9 years ago | (#13568594)

or they can send the Space Shuttle up and down, up and down, up and down, (sensing a pattern yet?) up and down, up and down, up and down, up and...

Then what?! I'm dying to find out. Will they ever come down or have we lost them forever? Maybe they will find Major Tom. Oh the suspense!!!

Re:Katrina kills this, I predict (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 9 years ago | (#13568623)

On the next exciting episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation...


Katrina = waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13568600)

That's what insurance companies are supposed to be for. Because I'm not an idiot and I decided to live in a central state instead I am pissed off that this much ill-spent govt money will be going to fix this stupidity. It's like the fucking poor people: pay no taxes, reap all the bennefits. Take some responsibilty! Leave when they say you're gonna die and get flooded out. Embarassing.

Re:Katrina kills this, I predict (3, Insightful)

slashdotnickname (882178) | about 9 years ago | (#13568607)

With Bush set to drop $200 billion on Katrina, finding money for going to the moon is going to be difficult

No. The Katrina rebuilding phase will bring about a fairly large economic boom. The increase of both construction jobs and money being exchanged for goods/services will translate into more tax revenues. This is in addition to an already strong economy, which showed little signs of weaking after Katrina. Plus, as the need to support the Iraq conflict slows down (and it is on average despite the constant sensational reporting) there will be more revenue available for spending too. All in all, the U.S. government is not about to run out on money any time soon...

Re:Katrina kills this, I predict (1, Funny)

learn fast (824724) | about 9 years ago | (#13568627)

National Security?

We must make the Moon safe for democracy!

New satellite photos indicate a clear presence of W.M.D. on the Moon.

SecDef thinks we can liberate the Moon with only 30,000 troops.

Regime change on the Moon now!

Re:Katrina kills this, I predict (1)

mranchovy (595176) | about 9 years ago | (#13568728)

Of course not! We can do this and go to Mars! And tax cuts for everyone! And $100 billion more for Ophelia! And $100 billion for each of the next six hurricanes! And $300 billion to invade Iran! Who cares about budget deficits and trillion-dollar national debts?!

Say it with me now... (-1, Troll)

beef curtains (792692) | about 9 years ago | (#13568327)


What reason could they possibly have for spending $100B on this? Exploratory oil drilling is the first thing that comes to mind.

Re:Say it with me now... (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 9 years ago | (#13568367)

What reason could they possibly have for spending $100B on this?

Because that is NASA's budget. IIRC, NASA's budget used to be about $14 billion per year. Bush has given the budget a few small increases since then. Yet even at the figure I gave, we're still talking about spending $168 billion on NASA over the next 12 years.

There really isn't anything new in these figures. I don't know about anyone else, but I'd rather see that $100 billion go into getting to the moon than into flying the Space Shuttle up and down a few more times.

Re:Say it with me now... (1)

lexbaby (88257) | about 9 years ago | (#13568390)

Exploratory oil drilling is the first thing that comes to mind.

Or finding a way to get us off oil completely.

Re:Say it with me now... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about 9 years ago | (#13568560)

Well, it's not going to happen in the next 20 years. Even if the Feds threw 100 billion at it, it's not going to happen.

The aviation industry, military, plastics and road building sectors all need it for various things. Throwing money at it isn't going to solve our dependancy between now and 2018.

Re:Say it with me now... (1)

ghukov (854181) | about 9 years ago | (#13568424)

lol what? oil from what, mooninite-osaurs?

Re:Say it with me now... (1)

Eagle-Y (891220) | about 9 years ago | (#13568503)

Exploratory oil drilling is the first thing that comes to mind.

There was never life on the Moon to have oil...

Extracting other minerals is not a bad idea if Nasa finds a way to efficiently transport it back to earth though

Re:Say it with me now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13568510)

I thought oil came from fossils.

Re:Say it with me now... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about 9 years ago | (#13568527)

NASA spends this money in part to keep sections of the National aerospace industry operating. If they back off of things like manned space, big engines, that sector would quickly shutdown and we'd lose it completely.

Besides, the Federal Government doesn't look for oil, oil companies do. If the Feds handed this out to the oil companies, it would vanish. We know where the majority of the oil is and where the majority of the oil shale and oil sands are, we don't need to explore to the tune of 100 billion dollars.

Re:Say it with me now... (1)

lixee (863589) | about 9 years ago | (#13568533)

I heard Bush found WMD's and not much democracy there. Plus, it shines light at night that terrorists may benefit from.

You mean... (1)

Karma_fucker_sucker (898393) | about 9 years ago | (#13568637)

Liberate the Moon. It obvious that a lot of the terrorists are coming from the moon. And the craters are proof that there are WMDs there! Why, it took some really big explosions to make them after all!

Re:Say it with me now... (1)

daniil (775990) | about 9 years ago | (#13568685)

Because there's still many questions left to answer, and apparently, there seems to be some pretty [] interesting [] stuff [] up there [] .

Remember, oil isn't everything. Neither is science, but it's still important enough to spend money on.

President Kennedy... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13568329)

... said we'd be there by the end of 1969. Given the outcry after the Capricorn One debacle was revealed, NASA realized they better actually do what they claimed to do all those years ago - or NOBODY would give them any money.

Wonder who Tom Hanks will play this time??

Re:President Kennedy... (-1, Troll)

daniil (775990) | about 9 years ago | (#13568376)

More information [] on this.

Good to see that NASA are finally planning to actually send a man to the Moon. It's been way overdue for years now.

Re:President Kennedy... (1)

lgw (121541) | about 9 years ago | (#13568513)

Bah, they'll just re-use their sets in the painted desert! If they didn't go last time, why would they go this time?

not again.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13568336)

in 20 years there will be more people claiming that we didn't go to the moon along with the false evidence. Even if it were very well covered I bet someone would think that its a special army facility.

Why bother ? we all know its George Bush bulls*it (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13568337)

Most space scientists would rather we sent probes out rather than wasting time grandstanding by putting more footprints in the dust

Bush just mentioned the moon and mars to get people fired up for his election, his legacy however is one of failure ,corruption, destruction and death

Space will be the last thing he will be remembered for , no matter how much he would like it otherwise

Re:Why bother ? we all know its George Bush bulls* (4, Interesting)

crymeph0 (682581) | about 9 years ago | (#13568439)

Say what you will about Bush, he deserves a lot of it (and I even voted for him), but emphasizing manned space exploration will pay off big-time for general space science in the long run.

If we can get launch costs down (the best way to do that short of a miracle breakthrough is frequent launches) and a *productive* human outpost that is capable of 'living off the land', we'll get amazing robots assembled in space that don't have these severe mass limitations we get down here. If you can assemble your rocket engine from lunar materials, of course you can build a whiz-bang robot explorer.

Modern technology (5, Insightful)

ucblockhead (63650) | about 9 years ago | (#13568343)

Nice to see that with modern 21st technology, we can make it to the moon in only thirteen years, as opposed to the long eight year program it took forty years ago.

Re:Modern technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13568561)

Nice to see that with modern 21st technology, we can make it to the moon in only thirteen years, as opposed to the long eight year program it took forty years ago.

Heh. Good point. I think we can't rule out politicians minimizing the blacklash in case an astronaut dies.

Re:Modern technology (5, Informative)

fsh (751959) | about 9 years ago | (#13568565)

Nah, it's more like modern budgeting. We're simply not willing to put 3-5% of the federal budget behind such a program, like we did with Apollo. NASA *as a whole* now comprises less than 1% of the federal budget.

Re:Modern technology (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13568582)

The motivation is different this time. The first time, it was largely so we could say we did it first. This time, it's more about developing the hardware and infrastructure to do it safely, cheaply, and repeatably. And yes, I realize $100B is not cheap, but that includes all the R&D that won't need to be repeated for future flights.

Re:Modern technology (1)

CrazyTalk (662055) | about 9 years ago | (#13568747)

What R&D? They are planning to go back to the moon using many pre-existing components, e.g. space shuttle main engines. Sounds like they should have a good head start!

Re:Modern technology (0)

Surt (22457) | about 9 years ago | (#13568644)

Well, you have to understand, the Bush administration needs to prove it is more macho than any previous administration, so they'll be going to the moon, but not using any 21st century technology. In fact, they're not planning to use any technology developed after 1776. The rockets will be moonshine powered, and made out of carved wood.

Re:Modern technology (1)

learn fast (824724) | about 9 years ago | (#13568698)

You've forgotten how much lobbying has gotten better

Re:Modern technology (5, Insightful)

oni (41625) | about 9 years ago | (#13568707)

We could be on the moon by the end of the month if someone was willing to pay for it and if we could accept risk.

When someone died in an accident in the '60s we the American people dusted ourselves off and got back on the horse. After the Apollo I accident, an investigation was performed and a report was presented in only three months. And then NASA went back to work going to the Moon. After Challenger, "OMFG! We should just cancel the space program! OMFG! OMFG!" And then years later we finally started flying again and years after that another, completely unrelated accident and, "OMFG THESE THINGS ARE DEATH TRAPS!"

One of the reasons we don't do things like go to the Moon anymore is that we're wimps. We don't accept risks and we crucify people who do.

The other reason is money. The cost of the Apollo program in 2005 dollars was nearly $200 billion, and that doesn't include the other programs like Gemini etc. Now we're going to do more (more as in, it's got to be 99.999% safe this time because we can't accept any risk at all) and we're going to do it for less. It should be a little cheaper because of modern computers etc. But not *that* much cheaper! Rockets are rockets. They haven't changed much in 50 years. They should still cost about the same.

And again, the culture is really whimpy now. The space program was a point of national pride back then. These days people are embarrassed to show any pride in their country - it's not fair that we have a space program and Zimbabwe doesn't. Plus, if you dare to spend $1 on science there will always be a crowd of idiots screaming, "OMFG some kid is poor* we can't spend this money on science until after every other problem on earth is solved!!!"

*poor in this case means that his family only has one TV and doesn't even have Tivo and somehow they managed to buy enough food to become morbidly obese but we still call them poor because otherwise we'd have to ask if maybe their lifestyle is influenced more by behaviors than by money or opportunity.

Please move on... (0, Offtopic)

Guru Goo (875426) | about 9 years ago | (#13568344)

Please move on.There is nothin to see here.

2018?! (3, Insightful)

dustinbarbour (721795) | about 9 years ago | (#13568348)

It only took us 9 damn years to get there in the first place! Now that we already have the technology to make it there, they want 13 years?! Fuck that shit. Thye should be able to get there in at most 5 years. I'll bet $100 NASA's beaten by the Chinese or Burt Rutan. Any takers?

Re:2018?! (4, Insightful)

Ruprecht the Monkeyb (680597) | about 9 years ago | (#13568435)

There is a big difference between getting there and staying there. The original race to the moon, while a spectacular achievement, was not intended to result in a routinely repeatable capability. Quick, cheap, right -- pick one.

Re:2018?! (2, Informative)

gl4ss (559668) | about 9 years ago | (#13568499)

i'm pretty sure they could do that, with money, if they wanted.

but what good would rushing do? they've already been there multiple times. i wouldn't care as much about getting there as to i would about what technology they develope to get there(and perhaps _stay_ there) this time around.

and I'd bet you 200$ that rutan won't make it to there in that time either(chinese could, they got the resources but i'm not so sure about them willing to spend that much to get there just for the sake of getting there).

Re:2018?! (1)

slughead (592713) | about 9 years ago | (#13568587)

Yes but it cost a crapload of money to do it in 9 years..

100B over 12 years is a hell of a lot less money.

Keep in mind we're running a deficit the whole time (which we have been since Kennedy, oddly enough).

As we have not since balanced the budget (not even in the 90's, unless you ignore the interest accumulation), it's probably a good thing they're spreading out the cost.

Re:2018?! (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13568660)

But... we don't have the technology to make it there anymore. The blueprints and institutional knowledge developed in the sixties are gone. Google 'lost knowledge apollo' for some references.

100 bil for a photostudio and photoshop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13568349)

That's kinda steep! I wonder which actors would be chosen this time!

What do you mean "Return to the moon"? (4, Funny)

soft_guy (534437) | about 9 years ago | (#13568351)

Everyone knows the moon landing were faked.

Besides, I would think that $100 Billion is too much. The price of motion picture special effects has come down a lot since the 60s.

How to recoup costs (1)

Karma_fucker_sucker (898393) | about 9 years ago | (#13568613)

They might be able to recoup the cost with Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks as one of the astronauts.

Half a Century (1)

mikeleemm (462460) | about 9 years ago | (#13568353)

Nearly half a century to "return" to the moon... Something tells me things aren't as efficent as can be.

Yowza, that's ambition. (2, Insightful)

foxtrot (14140) | about 9 years ago | (#13568355)

Congress won't fund these guys well enough to put people in low earth orbit safely, and they want to go back to the Moon?


What a waste (5, Interesting)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | about 9 years ago | (#13568361)

They have no reason for going to the moon. At least Apollo had a reason, the space race against the evil commies, but this time, not even that much. No doubt we'll go there a few times and stop again.

Moon colonies would be great, from a science fiction point of view, but without an actual practical reason that involves real colonists with real practical uses, this new moon plan will be just another short sighted waste of time and money. I'd rather that money was spent on technology that had actual uses for most people. Don't preach to me about spin-offs. There would be just as many spin-offs from orbital hotels or quiet and environmentally friendly hypersonic transports or practical electric cars with batteries to go 500 miles.

Re:What a waste (1)

Minwee (522556) | about 9 years ago | (#13568727)

As long as there are evil commies going into space [] , the USA will be right there with money to spend on going to the moon to keep them from stealing our precious bodily fluids.

Re:What a waste (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 9 years ago | (#13568738)

Don't preach to me about spin-offs.

Okay. How about I preach about lowering the costs of space transport? How about I preach about the billions of tons of cheap ore that could result? How about I preach about the free energy obtained from solar mirrors focused on space engines? How about I preach about a future where dangerous and toxic industries can be moved off the Earth? How about I preach about a future where man can thrive across the solar system, guaranteeing safety from little things like asteriods? How about I preach about a future where the power of the Sun is harnessed to power trips to other star systems? How about I preach about a future where truely inexpensive science probes can be launched to finally reveal the remaining secrets of the universe? How about I preach of a future with unimaginably technology that results from the science done?

How about we get off this rock and finally do something other than IM each other about Britney Spears or Paris Hilton? How about it?

Why is this so hard ? (2, Funny)

Zate (687440) | about 9 years ago | (#13568372)

we already went there once with FAR inferior technology (or did we ?.. cue tin foil hat) ... it shouldnt take us 12 years to do it again ..

All the rockets they need are stored in the kenedy space center museums.. gettem out.. dustem off and lets go already !

Re:Why is this so hard ? (4, Funny)

narcolepticjim (310789) | about 9 years ago | (#13568437)

I heard that the plans for the Saturn rockets are lost. A quick check, however, revealed that they are not [] .

I now have no reason for posting this message.

Re:Why is this so hard ? (4, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 9 years ago | (#13568580)

The Saturn V plans are not lost, but the rocket effectively is. The Saturn V was built with heavy industry, electronics, and computer technology that simply doesn't exist anymore. To update the existing rocket would make less sense than simply building a new one.

(Side Note: Someone once mentioned that the Saturn V's electronics were designed to cope with the electronic lag in transmissions by sending commands early. If the same design were followed in an update, the rocket would destroy itself because those early commands would be transmitted instantanously. Who knows how many more of these gotchas are in the design?)

NASA has the right plan here. The Space Shuttle engines are more powerful than the Saturn V ever was. By reusing the technology, NASA can build something better than the Saturn V in a relatively short amount of time.

Unmanned space flight mafia (3, Interesting)

October_30th (531777) | about 9 years ago | (#13568381)

Just watch. All this will be brought to nothing by the unmanned space flight mafia. It's just too attractive politically to push for unmanned space flight where there are no risks. We're slowly becoming a race of cowards when it comes to exploring new frontiers.

Re:Unmanned space flight mafia (0, Troll)

graigsmith (868939) | about 9 years ago | (#13568673)

it's not about exploration, it's about money. Rich people don't want to pay for it.

Whatever happened to "within this decade?" (3, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | about 9 years ago | (#13568386)

I don't care whether you define that "this decade" as starting in the year 2000 or the year 2005... ...if NASA could do it within a decade in the 1960s, why can't they do it within a decade now?

Re:Whatever happened to "within this decade?" (1)

Surt (22457) | about 9 years ago | (#13568708)

In the 1960s they had motivation ... they thought, apparently seriously, that if the communists beat them in the space race, the world would pretty much end. So they were racing, taking various unnecessary risks, to get to the moon.

Now we're going to do it again, but this time, there's essentially no pressure beyond "We'd like to do it". So we'll take our time, try to develop a reliable technology, and ultimately build a platform to take us onward to mars.

So basically, we have very different goals and priorities on this attempt, and so it will take a different amount of time and a different kind of effort.

Re:Whatever happened to "within this decade?" (1)

big_groo (237634) | about 9 years ago | (#13568725)

"...why can't they do it within a decade now?"

Money. Things cost more now. That, and you don't feel the need to beat the Russians. Americans already know they have the biggest penis.

It's just more (1)

Anonymous Cowdog (154277) | about 9 years ago | (#13568395)

Cargo Cult Star Trek.

Why does it take so long? (0, Redundant)

ChickenFan (887311) | about 9 years ago | (#13568396)

Project Mercury began in 1958 and 11 years later Project Apollo landed on the moon.

You'd think, in this day and age, we could do it faster, cheaper, safer.

Oh... US Government... I forgot.

Sorry for the spam.

I'd rather see robots go (2, Insightful)

Bob3141592 (225638) | about 9 years ago | (#13568397)

While it's good to see NASA seriously looking into returning to the Moon, I think the money would be better spend in focusing on sending robotic missions. Not only would it be more cost effective, but it could have just as great a scientific return, and would spur the development of a technology that would have huge spin off benefits here on earth.

I'm also all for a more agressive effort to explore Mars robotically. But the idea of sending humans there so soon seems very foolish to me. Why? There's little benefit to having people do the exploring, when an advanced robot could do the job better, safer, and faster.

Re:I'd rather see robots go (1)

NardofDoom (821951) | about 9 years ago | (#13568568)

Huge spinoff benefits until it comes time to get off this mudball, at which point we have to solve a whole lot of problems about life support.

Re:I'd rather see robots go (1)

Gulthek (12570) | about 9 years ago | (#13568663)

In that case it makes even more sense to use robots. Let them to do the hazardous analysis of the location, construction of the station, genesis of the terraforming, etc.

Aint it the truth (1)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | about 9 years ago | (#13568667)

Yea, I concur.
Using all those resources to send humans to the Moon is foolish. A remotely controlled robotic expedition would accomplish much more, faster, and for less money.

The common old saying is true (-1, Troll)

tod_miller (792541) | about 9 years ago | (#13568401)

"We can land a man on the moon but we can't [insert trivial, or expected course of action that we cannot seem to achieve]"

We can land men on the moon, and prepare for $100 billion plans to go back there. But we cannot send help to US disaster victims, on US soil, within 2 weeks.

God, bless America?

I think the timeing is a little poor don't you.

How does that $100 billion ($336 per person) compare to aid given to those in life threatening situations.


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The only problem (1)

eclectro (227083) | about 9 years ago | (#13568410)

From the article: One of NASA's reasons for going back to the Moon is to demonstrate that astronauts can essentially "live off the land" by using lunar resources

The only problem I see is finding a spacesuit to fit Grizzly Adams. []

Re:The only problem (1)

lgw (121541) | about 9 years ago | (#13568564)

Nah, that's easy with modern spacesuit technology. The *real* problem will be finding a spacesuit for his bear! But it will be worth it for the flapjacks.

Moonbase NO (1, Troll)

radarvectors (103651) | about 9 years ago | (#13568420)

NASA's newly appointed Administrator Michael Brown announced that 240,000 volunteers had applied for permanent assignment to the newly constructed Moonbase NO. NASA's prime contractor Halliburton has been awarded an open-ended construction and integration contract.

I for one welcome our new private sector overlords.

Sweet (1)

carguy84 (897052) | about 9 years ago | (#13568423)

Does this mean we don't have to rebuild New Orleans? Maybe the looters can walk away with a Shuttle ticket or something.

Militarization of Space (0, Troll)

gelfling (6534) | about 9 years ago | (#13568494)

This is the only plausible Bush White House agenda item that cause them to part with more than a token amount for space exploration. L1 is more useful as a platform from which to launch missiles back at earth than it is to launch science experiments back to the Moon. This is the administration that questions the validity and the necessity for most kinds of basic research so they're not going to part with large sums of money to do that sciencey stuff.

Weasel Words / Read the Fine Print (4, Interesting)

Tackhead (54550) | about 9 years ago | (#13568517)

> NASA briefed senior White House officials Wednesday on its plan to spend $100 billion and the next 12 years building the spacecraft and rockets it needs to put humans back on the Moon by 2018.

Read between the lines.

Not "to get to the moon". Not "to put humans back on the moon". But "building the spacecraft and rockets it needs to".

In 2018, NASA will have spent $100B (or about $8-10B a year, probably around half to 3/4 of its bugdet). At the end of that timeframe, NASA will have contracted out the design and production of a new spacecraft, and some new rockets.

That's it. There's no lunar mission in there. There probably isn't even the planning for a lunar mission in there.

Most likely, the new spacecraft and rockets will either continue to fly into low earth orbit to service the white elephant known as ISS.

To blue-sky for a minute - the timeframe from 2018 to 2024 will be used for planning a lunar mission. The mission will be funded for the timeframe from 2018-2030. By which time, the spacecraft and rockets developed around 2015 will be obsolete scrap.

We're going to divert a lot of funds that could be used for science (which might be OK if we were going somewhere), but the fact of the matter is - just like 30 years ago, unless you count the contracts that'll get farmed out to every Congressional district, we're not going anywhere.

Re:Weasel Words / Read the Fine Print (1)

Karma_fucker_sucker (898393) | about 9 years ago | (#13568675)

But "building the spacecraft and rockets it needs to".

I see. So now all I need to know is, who are the corps getting the contracts?

"Follow the money." - Deep Throat.

... the part of the CEV I like best ... (1)

ninjagin (631183) | about 9 years ago | (#13568524)

... is the "Fire Depression System" in the diagram.

I'm hoping that's it's similar to my own Fire Depression System -- a 12-pack of beer.

Guh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13568544)

Enough pouring all the money into NASA. How about putting some to use here on earth, either to help the victims of Katrina, clean up the sewage/toxic waste pumping out of New Orleans, or simply reducing the deficit?

Re:Guh (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 9 years ago | (#13568654)

Because we want to give people like you the endless satisfaction of walking around for 13 years pouting "If we can send a man to the moon why can't we ________________________?".

The Plan (5, Funny)

halcyon1234 (834388) | about 9 years ago | (#13568576)

"to put humans back on the Moon by 2018."

... where they will be greeted by the Chinese, Indians, Japanese, Russians, Canadians, and every college student with a "Build Yourself An Interplanetary Space Craft" kit ordered from craigslist.

Hmmmm.... (1, Troll)

Mister Phister (910272) | about 9 years ago | (#13568631)

Waging a war in Iraq: $600 Billion

Collecting moon rocks: $100 Billion

Aid to Katrina victims: $10 Billion

Having the intelligence of a moon rock, yet still duping the American public into thinking you are a compassionate, Christian conservative: PRICELESS

Why? (1)

maxrate (886773) | about 9 years ago | (#13568642)

It's be done, oh, wait a minute....

And in other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13568653)

Funding was cut for a NASA plan to put shuttle astronauts back on Earth...

But's who's gonna fly it? (2, Insightful)

FerretFrottage (714136) | about 9 years ago | (#13568661)

"Ten thousand?" Luke gasped. "We could buy our own ship!"
"But who's gonna fly it, kid? You?"
"You bet I could! Ben, we don't have to take this."

No doubt there will be those of the next generation up to the task, but you just don't see the push of science and space at least as I remember when I was going through school (of course the round wheel was the big thing back then). Is becoming an astronaut or rocket scientist as cool as becoming an "American Idol" or a reality TV star?

Time For NASA Sunset (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 9 years ago | (#13568665)

This is absurd. The 100 billion price tag could be used in R&D programs of far more potential value in biotech, energy research and environmental initiatives. Or in infrastructure improvements.

NASA is living proof of many key concepts of inefficiency in systems engineering, buraucracy and Parkinson's law.

Katrina is living proof of what happens when key infrastructure goes underfunded in deference to pork barrel projects.

The time has come to put an end to this sort of waste. We just cannot afford the opportunity cost.

The 'Moon' - A Rediculous Liberal Myth! (0, Flamebait)

heauxmeaux (869966) | about 9 years ago | (#13568686)

We can't return man there - that'd mean we were there to begin with.

And, as we all know, the "Moon" is a ridiculous liberal myth.

It amazes me that so many allegedly "educated" people have fallen so quickly and so hard for a fraudulent fabrication of such laughable proportions. The very idea that a gigantic ball of rock happens to orbit our planet, showing itself in neat, four-week cycles -- with the same side facing us all the time -- is ludicrous. Furthermore, it is an insult to common sense and a damnable affront to intellectual honesty and integrity. That people actually believe it is evidence that the liberals have wrested the last vestiges of control of our public school system from decent, God-fearing Americans (as if any further evidence was needed! Daddy's Roommate? God Almighty!)

Documentaries such as Enemy of the State have accurately portrayed the elaborate, byzantine network of surveillance satellites that the liberals have sent into space to spy on law-abiding Americans. Equipped with technology developed by Handgun Control, Inc., these satellites have the ability to detect firearms from hundreds of kilometers up. That's right, neighbors .. the next time you're out in the backyard exercising your Second Amendment rights, the liberals will see it! These satellites are sensitive enough to tell the difference between a Colt .45 and a .38 Special! And when they detect you with a firearm, their computers cross-reference the address to figure out your name, and then an enormous database housed at Berkeley is updated with information about you.

Of course, this all works fine during the day, but what about at night? Even the liberals can't control the rotation of the Earth to prevent nightfall from setting in (only Joshua was able to ask for that particular favor!) That's where the "moon" comes in. Powered by nuclear reactors, the "moon" is nothing more than an enormous balloon, emitting trillions of candlepower of gun-revealing light. Piloted by key members of the liberal community, the "moon" is strategically moved across the country, pointing out those who dare to make use of their God-given rights at night!

Yes, I know this probably sounds paranoid and preposterous, but consider this. Despite what the revisionist historians tell you, there is no mention of the "moon" anywhere in literature or historical documents -- anywhere -- before 1950. That is when it was initially launched. When President Josef Kennedy, at the State of the Union address, proclaimed "We choose to go to the moon", he may as well have said "We choose to go to the weather balloon." The subsequent faking of a "moon" landing on national TV was the first step in a long history of the erosion of our constitutional rights by leftists in this country. No longer can we hide from our government when the sun goes down.

13 years to the moon? (1)

CrazyTalk (662055) | about 9 years ago | (#13568705)

Huh. First time it took less than 10. Are we that much more stupider? Or just that much more broke?

just imagine (1)

nilbog (732352) | about 9 years ago | (#13568712)

By 2018, we'll be setting foot on the moon.. Did it take 13 years of planning back in 1969?

robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13568753)

Is it just me, or do robots seem a lot better suited for space exploration than humans?

1) No food = okay
2) No air = okay
3) Rechargeable energy source via solar power
4) No fatalaties, just possibility of expensive loss of equipment
5) No boredom
6) Can stay indefinitely, e.g. Mars Rovers

Humans are just not made for space. Long-term, the human body has serious problems with being in space, such as degradation of bone mass and damage from high-energy cosmic rays. And with the robotics technology of today, it is not as economical as sending a nice robot.

When I read these headline, I think that we would be better served by putting that $100 billion into robotics and satellite programs rather than trying to go back to the moon (yet again).
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