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Return to the Moon

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the we've-come-for-your-he3 dept.

Moon 197

apsmith writes "No matter what the subject, one has to admire a book written by an astronaut and former US senator, illustrated with photos of the author at work on the Moon. When the subject is one as potentially important to the future of our civilization as the energy resources geologist Harrison ("Jack") Schmitt sees buried in the lunar surface, along with our future in space, it becomes all the more daunting to take issue with it. Unfortunately Schmitt's potentially inspiring commercial justification in Return to the Moon: Exploration, Enterprise, and Energy in the Human Settlement of Space rests on a shaky foundation." Read the rest of Arthur's review.

With NASA now planning a lunar return and several other countries planning missions, the time is certainly ripe for a book titled Return to the Moon. In fact, last November also saw the release of Rick Tumlinson's collection of essays from experts on the subject with the same title, and the Space Frontier Foundation has been running regular Return to the Moon conferences.

Schmitt's book acknowledges that context but sets out in his own direction arguing that the Moon will provide a critical contribution to our civilization's energy needs, and the lunar return discussed is primarily one of industry and commerce, rather than grand national programs. The argument for industrial use of our celestial neighbor hinges on the utility of helium-3 fusion. However, that technology and the science behind it is dealt with in a perfunctory 4 pages in this book; Schmitt leaves the main argument to scientific papers from the University of Wisconsin Fusion technology Institute that has been promoting it.

Helium-3 fusion, while having the advantage of lower radiation levels, is considerably harder than deuterium-tritium (D-T) fusion: the extra proton in helium means the ideal fusion temperature for He3-D mixtures is over four times as large. An alternative hydrogen-boron reaction would require almost 10 times the D-T temperature. That makes the traditional approaches to fusion reactors, creating very hot and dense plasmas, essentially impractical for He3 fusion. Non-traditional electrostatic confinement ( "Farnsworth fusor") technology gets around the high temperature problem by essentially shooting the nuclei directly at one another in a steady-state fashion. In principle any kind of fusion is possible with such a design. However, in practice the maximum power output obtained so far is 1 Watt - you would need a hundred of them just to power a light bulb!

So that leaves a huge and unknown technology gap in scaling things a factor of 1 billion or so to power plant size. Schmitt lightly skips over this problem with the note that "much engineering research lies ahead" and then bases an economic analysis on the assumption that such a plant would have to compete with fossil-fuel plants; we know roughly the numbers there. This does provide real constraints on the costs of retrieval of He3 from the Moon, so it's a useful analysis. But there's still the fundamental question of whether He3 fusion could ever be economically practical.

Schmitt doesn't let those questions slow him down; cost estimates for the "much engineering research" piece are folded into capital cost estimates for building up to 15 fusion plants, building and launching (and staffing) 15 lunar mining settlements, and operational costs for the whole system to reach the conclusion that it could, after the 15th set of facilities was completed, be close to competitive with electric energy from coal. That's not a bad accomplishment, but it rests on a lot of assumptions of unstated but likely very high uncertainty.

Ironically, the best reason for replacing coal, the threat of global warming from atmospheric CO2 release, is given short shrift as an "international political issue" in Schmitt's introductory chapter on our energy future. In this and in a bias toward non-governmental solutions, Schmitt's text unfortunately betrays the caution of an incompletely recovered politician.

Organizational approaches are covered in detail in chapter 8, where Schmitt compares models ranging from all-government to various public/private partnerships, to an all-private approach, analyzing each model according to over two dozen financial, managerial, and external criteria. After giving each a 1 to 10 rating, he multiplies by another subjective weighting factor and adds them all up. Somehow, the all-private model wins every time. The text surrounding these numbers suggests that, despite what the numbers say, several of the public-private partnership approaches make a great deal of sense. This ranges from the Intelsat multilateral model to simply encouraging government funding of the necessary research, development, and testing, and passing technology on to private industry to earn a profit.

Schmitt's discussion of lessons from Apollo is almost reverential, including a proposal for a "Saturn VI" heavy-lift rocket, to lower launch costs. It seems unlikely that the Apollo conditions can be duplicated, but he does have an interesting argument in favor of in-house engineering talent and having a large pool of young engineers. This and the letters of chapter 10 are perhaps too bluntly put to have an impact on NASA directly, but could certainly help inspire organizational virtues in a private venture, so NASA's more recent mistakes aren't repeated.

There is much that is good here. The book covers some ideas in detail, including the lunar geology issues for helium-3 recovery. Designs for mining equipment, the idea of finding markets first in space, and only later on Earth, and the proposal to make the miners permanent settlers, rather than just temporary visitors are all interesting concepts developed here. The author has included copious citations for more in-depth reading.

Much of the infrastructure Schmitt calls for could be applied to any other commercial utilization of the Moon, for example to help develop solar power satellites or lunar solar power facilities, to provide lunar oxygen (or hydrogen) for in-space use, for lunar tourism, and so forth. Schmitt believes the He3 approach provides easier access to capital markets due to lower start-up costs, so less government involvement may be needed than for those other commercial justifications for a lunar return. However, the status of He3 fusion itself seems sufficiently uncertain that relying on private equity to make it happen could still be a very slow process, at least once development reaches the point of billion-dollar space missions.

This vision for a new day in lunar exploration is very different from what we have been hearing from NASA, even in recent years when a human lunar return has been on the table. There is considerable evidence we have an urgent need for new energy sources. The possibility of exploitation of the Moon for human benefit has hardly crossed public consciousness yet, but it's something that we will increasingly be turning to as humanity reaches limits here on Earth. We should all be grateful Dr. Schmitt has helped here to get that ball rolling.

Arthur Smith is a part-time space advocate and volunteer with the National Space Society."


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Article text in case of slashdotting (1)

Karma Troll (801155) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465624)

No matter what the subject, one has to admire a book written by an astronaut and former US senator, illustrated with photos of the author at work on the Moon. When the subject is one as potentially important to the future of our civilization as the energy resources geologist Harrison ("Jack") Schmitt sees buried in the lunar surface, along with our future in space, it becomes all the more daunting to take issue with it. Unfortunately Schmitt's potentially inspiring commercial justification in Return to the Moon: Exploration, Enterprise, and Energy in the Human Settlement of Space rests on a shaky foundation." Read the rest of Arthur's review.
Return to the Moon: Exploration, Enterprise, and Energy in the Human Settlement of Space
author Harrison Schmitt
pages 336
publisher Praxis Publishing Ltd. and Copernicus Books
rating 7
reviewer Arthur Smith
ISBN 0387242856
summary Harvesting Helium-3 from the Moon
With NASA now planning a lunar return and several other countries planning missions, the time is certainly ripe for a book titled Return to the Moon. In fact, last November also saw the release of Rick Tumlinson's collection of essays from experts on the subject with the same title, and the Space Frontier Foundation has been running regular Return to the Moon conferences.

Schmitt's book acknowledges that context but sets out in his own direction arguing that the Moon will provide a critical contribution to our civilization's energy needs, and the lunar return discussed is primarily one of industry and commerce, rather than grand national programs. The argument for industrial use of our celestial neighbor hinges on the utility of helium-3 fusion. However, that technology and the science behind it is dealt with in a perfunctory 4 pages in this book; Schmitt leaves the main argument to scientific papers from the University of Wisconsin Fusion technology Institute that has been promoting it.

Helium-3 fusion, while having the advantage of lower radiation levels, is considerably harder than deuterium-tritium (D-T) fusion: the extra proton in helium means the ideal fusion temperature for He3-D mixtures is over four times as large. An alternative hydrogen-boron reaction would require almost 10 times the D-T temperature. That makes the traditional approaches to fusion reactors, creating very hot and dense plasmas, essentially impractical for He3 fusion. Non-traditional electrostatic confinement ( "Farnsworth fusor") technology gets around the high temperature problem by essentially shooting the nuclei directly at one another in a steady-state fashion. In principle any kind of fusion is possible with such a design. However, in practice the maximum power output obtained so far is 1 Watt - you would need a hundred of them just to power a light bulb!

So that leaves a huge and unknown technology gap in scaling things a factor of 1 billion or so to power plant size. Schmitt lightly skips over this problem with the note that "much engineering research lies ahead" and then bases an economic analysis on the assumption that such a plant would have to compete with fossil-fuel plants; we know roughly the numbers there. This does provide real constraints on the costs of retrieval of He3 from the Moon, so it's a useful analysis. But there's still the fundamental question of whether He3 fusion could ever be economically practical.

Schmitt doesn't let those questions slow him down; cost estimates for the "much engineering research" piece are folded into capital cost estimates for building up to 15 fusion plants, building and launching (and staffing) 15 lunar mining settlements, and operational costs for the whole system to reach the conclusion that it could, after the 15th set of facilities was completed, be close to competitive with electric energy from coal. That's not a bad accomplishment, but it rests on a lot of assumptions of unstated but likely very high uncertainty.

Ironically, the best reason for replacing coal, the threat of global warming from atmospheric CO2 release, is given short shrift as an "international political issue" in Schmitt's introductory chapter on our energy future. In this and in a bias toward non-governmental solutions, Schmitt's text unfortunately betrays the caution of an incompletely recovered politician.

Organizational approaches are covered in detail in chapter 8, where Schmitt compares models ranging from all-government to various public/private partnerships, to an all-private approach, analyzing each model according to over two dozen financial, managerial, and external criteria. After giving each a 1 to 10 rating, he multiplies by another subjective weighting factor and adds them all up. Somehow, the all-private model wins every time. The text surrounding these numbers suggests that, despite what the numbers say, several of the public-private partnership approaches make a great deal of sense. This ranges from the Intelsat multilateral model to simply encouraging government funding of the necessary research, development, and testing, and passing technology on to private industry to earn a profit.

Schmitt's discussion of lessons from Apollo is almost reverential, including a proposal for a "Saturn VI" heavy-lift rocket, to lower launch costs. It seems unlikely that the Apollo conditions can be duplicated, but he does have an interesting argument in favor of in-house engineering talent and having a large pool of young engineers. This and the letters of chapter 10 are perhaps too bluntly put to have an impact on NASA directly, but could certainly help inspire organizational virtues in a private venture, so NASA's more recent mistakes aren't repeated.

There is much that is good here. The book covers some ideas in detail, including the lunar geology issues for helium-3 recovery. Designs for mining equipment, the idea of finding markets first in space, and only later on Earth, and the proposal to make the miners permanent settlers, rather than just temporary visitors are all interesting concepts developed here. The author has included copious citations for more in-depth reading.

Much of the infrastructure Schmitt calls for could be applied to any other commercial utilization of the Moon, for example to help develop solar power satellites or lunar solar power facilities, to provide lunar oxygen (or hydrogen) for in-space use, for lunar tourism, and so forth. Schmitt believes the He3 approach provides easier access to capital markets due to lower start-up costs, so less government involvement may be needed than for those other commercial justifications for a lunar return. However, the status of He3 fusion itself seems sufficiently uncertain that relying on private equity to make it happen could still be a very slow process, at least once development reaches the point of billion-dollar space missions.

This vision for a new day in lunar exploration is very different from what we have been hearing from NASA, even in recent years when a human lunar return has been on the table. There is considerable evidence we have an urgent need for new energy sources. The possibility of exploitation of the Moon for human benefit has hardly crossed public consciousness yet, but it's something that we will increasingly be turning to as humanity reaches limits here on Earth. We should all be grateful Dr. Schmitt has helped here to get that ball rolling.

Arthur Smith is a part-time space advocate and volunteer with the National Space Society."

RETURN TO THE MOON THIS EASY! (-1, Flamebait)

Dragoonkain (704719) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465634)

please click here to RETURN TO THE MOON THIS EASY! [goatse.ca]

and all that jazz, thanks

What about conventional fission reactors? (3, Insightful)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465653)

Basing policy on technology that doesn't exist seems rather silly at this point.

If the energy crisis is so severe, why isn't America investing in things like pebble bed reactors? [wikipedia.org] With the Iraq war potentially costing $2 trillion dollars [guardian.co.uk] , that's a lot of money that could be invested in alternative energy sources.

Re:What about conventional fission reactors? (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465764)

pebble bed reactors arn't really any more energy efficient getting any new reactors up would be a good thing.

Re:What about conventional fission reactors? (5, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465784)

The article review was rather poor. There are three points that need clarification.

1) Electrostatic confinement is hardly the only fusion method that could possibly scale to second generation nuclear fuels; discussing only magnetic and electrostatic confinement leaves off the whole range of potential fusors.

2) Farnsworth fusors are inertial electrostatic confinement, not electrostatic confinement.

3) The problem with inertial electrostatic confinement is the same as with most methods of fusion currently: it takes far more energy going in than comes out (not all methods - we've had energy output surpass energy input in magnetic confinement fusion, although it's not breakeven). The problem is not its scale; higher power Farnsworth fusors could easily be built.

4) The serious issue that the writeup omitted is the fact that we can make He3 right here on Earth. Neutron bombardment of lithium targets can produce tritium, which can decay to He3. We just need to increase production of tritium in our reactors.

Re:What about conventional fission reactors? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466096)

Also apparently needing clarification: the number three is now equal to the number four.

Re:What about conventional fission reactors? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465824)

Oh, and I'm quite glad we're not investing in PBMRs. There are much better next generation fission reactor designs, such as lead-bismuth breeders. I'll pass on a reactor that uses graphite as a moderator and has no containment structure, thank you very much.

Re:What about conventional fission reactors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14465846)

Because no one is sure what the best operating fluid is (probably helium), turbines are large and expensive for gas cooled reactors, no one has even built a large scale protoype reactor yet, and a reactor without control rods is a little scary.

Re:What about conventional fission reactors? (2, Insightful)

ausoleil (322752) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465918)

>Basing policy on technology that doesn't exist seems rather silly at this point.

Ironic for you to say such, considering it was posted in a thread on going to the moon. The technology to send a man to the moon and return him safely to the Earth existed only on paper when Kennedy committed the country to the goal of going there before 1/1/70.

Pebble Bed Reactors are a Scam (5, Informative)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465934)

Pebble bed reactors offer few, if any advantages over conventional light water reactors. They are safer than old-fasioned reactors, but Generation IV light water reactors would probably be just as safe. Likely they would be more safe because we know more about them from past experience.

Also, it has now been shown that it may be possible to make LWR breeders, which would pretty much solve or energy problems for the foreseeable future.

There is no good reason to waste money on pebble bed reactors when existing solutions are probably superior. If you want to advocate research into obscure reactor designs, you should look into molten salt reactors. The lack of fuel elements makes fuel reprocessing more economically feasible, which may mean reduced waste disposal costs, as well as cheeper breeder reactor alternatives.

You may also wish to look into liquid metal fast reactors, which have a breeding ratio so high that they guarantee a long term supply of future energy. These haven't taken off because of the costs of reprocessing fuel (and the relatively low cost of uranium) but they're much more interesting and potentially beneficial than gas cooled reactors like pebble bed reactors.

Re:What about conventional fission reactors? (1)

EXTomar (78739) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466018)

Unless its found there (on The Moon), it is really expensive to ship it there. So sending millions of tons of coal and oxygen (remember you need to *burn* it) to The Moon is not economically reasonable. There is also the problem that a coal fire power plant on The Moon have to function differently than one on Earth .

So you are quite right: Going with technology of today a fission pebble bed reactor makes a lot of sense. The only way to get better and safer reactors is to build and learn from designs. Being on The Moon, any problems will be magnified so safety and super reliability will be required. Once again, this technology is useful for future inhabitants of The Moon but these advances in nuclear power will have benifits for the rest on Earth with safer, more fault tolerant power plants.

Re:What about conventional fission reactors? (1)

m.h.2 (617891) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466129)

I respectfully disagree with your opening statement (taking it at face value). If our lawmakers and corporate honchos had used some foresight to base policy upon emerging (or future) technologies, we may not have all the legal problems we've had with things like DMCA, DRM, SPAM, etc.

Re:What about conventional fission reactors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14466247)

Basing policy on technology that doesn't exist seems rather silly at this point.

What do you mean? As proof that Fusion will solve all our energy problems, I'm going to use all the excess energy from my future fusion reactors to rip a hole in the fabric of space time and go back and stop you from writing that!

Re:What about conventional fission reactors? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466290)

Lets asume that if the iraq war wasn't going on, the money being spent would actualy be used for somethign else like energy research. Why wouldn't be a good policy to bank on technoligy that doesn't exist. Sure it won't be realized anytime soon but the advancments could lead into other areas of eficciency as well as benefiting all of mankind. The space program while credited by some for inventing more things then it actualy had did invent alternative uses for these inventions that lead to thier wide spread uses and benfits to man. If the Government activly invests this, we might see some of the same bbut instead of tape and lubricants that make food not dtick to the frying pan, we might find a way to actualy get 100 miles to a gallon of gas in our cars (of course gas would probably be priced to were you could only afford jalf a gallon of week).

If the energy crisis is so severe, why isn't America investing in things like pebble bed reactors? With the Iraq war potentially costing $2 trillion dollars, that's a lot of money that could be invested in alternative energy sources.
And this is the problem. The energy crisis isn't that severe. We don't have a shortage that wasn't created by ourselves. We have looked to cleaner enviroments and taken alot of the fuels out of the economical reach of most industries. They can still be used but the cost is more expensive som they are over looked. The people crying about us running out of fuel are the ones with vested interest in differetn technoligies relating to replacing fossil fuels. Some of these interest are valid like cleaner enviroments and such but the majority are a buy form us instead fo them while hiding behind the former issue.

Lets take an economic look at why replacing all our fuel and coal buring power plant with reactors is a bad idea. First, the demand for petrolium based fuels slows so the little guy (citizens) will end up paying more for gas and oil to goto work or grandmas house. At first you might think but less demand equals higher supply with acording to supply and deman means lower costs but this asumption would be wrong in this case. gas and oil, desiel adn jpl fules come from the same crude oil and are more or less byproduct of each other. With a surplus in one, they would have to decrease production in another or find a way to dispose of it. We already know that disposing of petrolium product is expensive and that cost will be passed down to the consumers who are using the other products. So the alternative is to pump less and make less gasoline, Now we have another shortage and prices rise at the pump making it so a person cannot get to work or support thier families after travel expenses or when factoring in the increase cost of delivering food, water (chemicals to cleam water) or the simple neccesities of life that touch oil at some point in time. Some in the oil industry will be displaced and looking for a job. hopefully they find one before thie rhouse is reposesed.

Now lets take a look at coal. It playes in nicley with the oil but would be hit more dramaticaly because the majority of the uses for coal would disapear without the power plants. Some towns anly exist because coal mine and coal companies are present. In some areas, the coal industry is the only place someone without (and sometimes with) a degree can make a living over minimum wage.

Switching to another power source needs to take time, decades if not longer. We would ruin the lives of too many people by just investing and switching over. We have regulated oil so the costs increase enough that green energy is starting to become competitive and the side effects are the poor getting poorer. We are now seeing alternative energy sources suffering form some of the same "not in my backyard" fights. We have enviromentalist fighting the instalation of wind turbin generating stations, solar power stations, eviromentaly friendly nuclear options, hydro eletrical stations, tidal generator and even hydro-turbin generating stations. Even if we changed everythign out and didn't consider the lives ruined in the proccess, it would just be a matter of time before we are in the same situation because of this.

Harrison ("Jack") Schmitt (-1)

dewie (685736) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465668)

Hilarious.

What about the emperor of the Moon?! (-1)

Tezkah (771144) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465669)

I think I speak for all Slashdotters when I say:

I have ridden the mighty moon worm!

I think we should let the Moon people self govern.

Think about it (4, Insightful)

somethingprolific (944769) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465671)

I know this sometimes seems silly but we need to invest in any projects that lead to plausable human habitation of the moon. Whether it be for resources or for recreation. Earth will NOT be here forever and any steps we can do to begin the transition of being less reliant on the Earth's resources the better off the human race will be in the long run.

Re:Think about it (4, Insightful)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465752)

I know this sometimes seems silly but we need to invest in any projects that lead to plausable human habitation of the moon. Whether it be for resources or for recreation. Earth will NOT be here forever and any steps we can do to begin the transition of being less reliant on the Earth's resources the better off the human race will be in the long run.

Well the Earth will be here for a few billion years. That's a long time, you know. And, even if all of the nuclear weapons that ever existed were detonated right now, the Earth would still be a hell of a lot more habitable than the moon.

Re:Think about it (1)

mustafap (452510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465778)

>Earth will NOT be here forever and any step

Humm... If we had to move I'd rather to somewhere more hospitable than Earth, rather than less.

The alternative of course would be to send the worst polluters to the moon, thus delay the date when the rest of us need to move off!

Re:Think about it (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465878)

If we had to move I'd rather to somewhere more hospitable than Earth, rather than less.
Won't happen, our bodies are designed specifically to live here. And even if we figure out something like terraforming, it will be easier to use those techniques to tweak earth a little bit than to turn a lifeless dusty rock into the garden of eden.

I'm not saying we won't colonize, but I think Earth will always (i.e. for a long long time) be the prime real estate for humans, unless we wreck it.

Re:Think about it (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465895)

Do we have a spaceship big enough to fit the all Americans in?

(tongue in cheek of course)

Re:Think about it (1)

mustafap (452510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466005)

Thats going to cost you a few Karma points.

Will chat to you again when you get out of the time-out corner :o)

Re:Think about it (1)

Quintios (594318) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465898)

Uh, if the earth goes away (i.e. the earth is NOT here forever) won't the moon be, well, gone too? Or will it go crashing into the sun due to a lack of a greater gravitational pull keeping it from heading that way?

Re:Think about it (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466366)

The idea isn't that the earth is gone, just uninhabitable. If we learn to live on the moon without an atmosphere and large amounts of radiation, we might be able to still live on earth if it couldn't support life as we know it.

Also, living on the moon would teach us ways to conserve energy and maybe use less resources. This might let us survive longer on the earth without having to worry about it being destroyed.

One of the side effects of being able to live on the moon is that we would basicaly know how to live after a nuclear war. This kind of places the MAD scenarios into the closet because we can now live in a destroyed enviroment. The idea of another counrty not striking with nuclear missles because we would counter and they would be damaged just as bad is a brilient stratigy. It took the most powerful weapons in our arsinal and said we could never use them. Now it apears that we might now care as much if we could live in the aftermath.

Re:Think about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14466382)

Of course not! The fearless researchers at "Moonbase Alpha" [imdb.com] will journey with the moon throughout the galaxy! :)

Re:Think about it (5, Insightful)

Shihar (153932) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465908)

While it is true that the Earth is going to end at some point, that ISN'T a reason to go the moon right now. Right now, to get to the moon and do anything is massively expensive. The cost associated with actual colonization is mind blowing. Why do it RIGHT NOW, when there is no pressing need? Why not let technology further improve and refine before spending the many billions or trillions of dollars it will take to do something of substance on the moon?

Going to the moon now would be like building a 100 story sky scrapper in 1880. We probably had the technology back then to brute force our way around the problem of supporting such a massive structure. We could have mustered the man power to build it. It just would have consumed a noticeable portion of the GDP for minimal benefit. We didn't build such a structure though; we waited 50 years and got the Empire State Building. The Empire State Building was cheaper, safer, and more effective at what it did then the solution we could have kludged together 50 years earlier. Going to the moon now instead of waiting 50 years is no different.

Re:Think about it (1)

HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466253)

Though I agree with you somewhat, technology betters itself constantly. what if the people who built the Empire State thought, well, it's cheaper than 50 years ago, we should wait 50 more!

Re:Think about it (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14466380)


Technology only progress's when there is a need for it to progress. If we sit and wait, the technology will not become more advanced, since there won't be a need for it to. If we do go back to the moon NOW, it will help progress technology to make travel to and from the moon cheaper in time.

I don't understand why people would think that technology will progress 'magically' by just sitting around waiting for it too.

Re:Think about it (1)

cybpunks3 (612218) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466634)

This is a stupid analogy. We went to the moon 36+ years ago already.

Re:Think about it (3, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465909)

Go ahead, tell me how you plan to make a self-sustaining colony on a body largely devoid of hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon and phosphorus, given that life on earth is based on CHONP? How do you plan to establish a chemical industry on the moon when it's mostly devoid of everything except O, Si, Fe, Ca, Al, Mg, Ti, and small amounts of Na, Cr, and K?

The moon has a very non-diverse surface. It's not really possible to build a self sustaining colony on the moon - it will always have to trade heavily (and given current launch prices....)

Re:Think about it (1)

timster (32400) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466006)

I know this one... we'll make our elements in our nuclear reactors! That's just an interim plan, though, while we work to develop bacteria that can transmute moon rocks to useful elements in -- get this -- their NUCLEUS! A nuclear nucleus, isn't it great? It's amazing how evolution and breeding can solve any conceivable problem, like the lack of water or an atmosphere.

Re:Think about it (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466235)

Actually, there is something to be said for using nuclear power to "crack" oxygen and hydrogen out of other materials. In any other environment it would be too expensive, but on the moon it might actually make sense.

As for the rest of the stuff, the moon can purchase from providers who already have the necessary materials outside the Earth's gravity well. Who might that be, you ask? The companies who own mines on all the asteroids and comets, that's who. I mean, why oh why would anyone try to mine the moon? All that's there is iron that's already rusted. (i.e. oxydized) Far better to pick up your metal riches on an asteroid and your life-giving riches on a comet. WAY, WAY cheaper than launching out of a strong gravity well, especially when we have engine technology and research available to make "cruising" around the solar system a reality.

The moon, tis a harsh mistress (3, Funny)

fishybell (516991) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465683)

... the proposal to make the miners permanent settlers...

Why not just send up the thousands of criminals filling our penal system? Have them work the mines. We'll give them a ticket home when they've served off their sentance.

Re:The moon, tis a harsh mistress (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465746)

Oh yes and watch the amount of small time drug users who get rediculus sentences go way up.

Re:The moon, tis a harsh mistress (2, Funny)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465872)

Good idea. Anyone know where I can get some small-time drugs? Also, I need to know what it looks like to be high on something so I can pretend for the cops.

Moon Base Alpha, here I come!

Re:The moon, tis a harsh mistress (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466289)



It looks like this:

-_-

Re:The moon, tis a harsh mistress (1, Insightful)

maynard (3337) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465776)

Why not just send up the thousands of criminals filling our penal system?

Because that's forced prison slave labor, and is the kind of human rights violation we rail against the Chinese for doing. Never mind other historical examples (including the US's). Though with an ethos accepting torture and imprisonment without fair trial becoming the norm, who knows? Maybe your dream will come true....

Re:The moon, tis a harsh mistress (1)

Politburo (640618) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465972)

Okay, then do it like the current system. Prison labor still exists. The only thing is that it's not forced, and the prisoners have to be paid. However, they don't have to be paid minimium wage. The average federal prison wage (after penalties) is around $0.20/hr.

Re:The moon, tis a harsh mistress (1)

maynard (3337) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466164)

One might argue there is a fundamental difference between having prisoners (willingly) stamp out license plates vs. shipping them off to the moon in a low G environment. The long term consequences of living on the moon would almost certainly be damaging to their health. IMO: building a moon base for people is folly. Send robots.

Re:The moon, tis a harsh mistress (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466308)

Better idea: Ask for volunteers.

The deal is: Stay on Earth and nothing changes. Go to the moon and you won't actually be imprisioned (since you can't go anywhere anyway), get a chance to earn some change, and have your sentence reduced or commuted. As a bonus, you get to be an astronaut. You can't tell me that there aren't at least a few dreamers in the lot who wouldn't jump at the chance.

Re:The moon, tis a harsh mistress (1)

maynard (3337) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466376)

Austronauts -- even prisoners -- must be safely shot in space, travel and land on the moon, be maintained in a survivable environment, and then shot back into space to return to earth. Robots can be sent to the moon in parts, will function in a wider range of environments, and can be disposed of on the moon. Which of the two is both the most ethical and cheapest?

Re:The moon, tis a harsh mistress (3, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466541)

Humans. Robots are a lot of money for little return. For example, a human on Mars could do in minutes what takes the Rovers months to accomplish. Humans are extremely adaptable to changing situations, and can actually cover ground extremely well on foot. In addition, they're excellent at building and operating a wide variety of tools.

Robots are like computers. They're very good at optimizing something that's been done a million times before, and can be done the same way a million times again. They suck when they have to adapt to changing situations. Even when a human is nudging their controls from a distance, their use is extremely limited. As long as we're shooting robots into space to do our exploration for us, we're wasting time and energy that could be saved if we could go there ourselves.

Which of the two is both the most ethical

There's no ethical quandry. A lot of people want to go, and damn the risks. Risk is part of being human. (Why do you think we have all these skydivers and bungie jumpers?) If you don't want to take the risk, then don't. But don't tell other people what to do with their lives. THAT is unethical.

Re:The moon, tis a harsh mistress (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14466110)

Why don't we give the criminals an incentive to go work on the moon. Maybe they get double time for each day they serve while on the moon. A 10 year sentence becomes 5 if they serve on the moon for instance.

Re:The moon, tis a harsh mistress (1)

Stroman Rebar (567206) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465901)

I think I saw that movie once, and it didn't turn out well. Bruce Willis blew a lot of expensive equipment up taking out the leaders of the uprising, all while wearing no shoes ;).

Seriously, I think whenever a society sends its criminals and inmates out to do a dangerous/thankless job, it can only lead to cruelty and abuse. Much better to send highly skilled, motiviated, and paid contractors. It will cost less in the long run, and on the bright side, contractors are used to cruelty and abuse. That's why they get per diem :)

Re:The moon, tis a harsh mistress (2, Funny)

sbowles (602816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466044)

... whenever a society sends its criminals and inmates out to do a dangerous/thankless job, it can only lead to cruelty and abuse.

Just look at Australia!

Mod parent either "Funny" or "Sci Fi Villain" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14465958)

No one's played Red Faction?

Re:Mod parent either "Funny" or "Sci Fi Villain" (1)

fishybell (516991) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466220)

I've always wanted to me modded +5 Sci Fi Villain.

Re:The moon, tis a harsh mistress (1)

morganjharvey (638479) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466286)

We could call it "New Australia!"

Re:The moon, tis a harsh mistress (2)

WankersRevenge (452399) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466323)

you're a looney

Re:The moon, tis a harsh mistress (0)

tehlinux (896034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466548)

"Why not just send up the thousands of criminals filling our penal system? Have them work the mines. We'll give them a ticket home when they've served off their sentance."
I for one welcome our new moon colonizing overlords.

Re:The moon, tis a harsh mistress (1)

bhima (46039) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466641)

I'm surprised how many people didn't get this...

It's because they'll throw rocks back at us!

Re:The moon, tis a harsh mistress (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466656)

Nah

I don't think we're ready for real AI.

Initiative (1)

d3m057h3n35 (695460) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465692)

The longer a return to the moon is debated, the greater the chance that somebody else out there will just get up and do it. Let's hope that the U.S. private sector hasn't been fettered by legislation at that point so that they can be the ones who finally decide to bite the bullet, or at least follow in the footsteps of whatever nation did.

Re:Initiative (2, Insightful)

johncadengo (940343) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466182)

It's funny that Americans have this "we've gotta do it first" mentality, that's been around since right after World War II and is still continuing to this day. I'm sure the Chinese wouldn't mind being the first to settle on the moon, but are we going to spend billions of dollars on Chinese electronic equipment to get there first? That'll only help them all the more, and further dig us into the hole of falling world status and power, primarily economically, that we don't seem to know how to get out of.

Link #1 is an opinion piece by Laura Woodmansee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14465713)

Other than a picture of Harrison Schmitt and borrowing of his title, I'm not sure why this link appears in this review. Her "ISS is a white elephant" is indeed true. I wonder what Schmitt thinks about this?

return to the moon? (2, Funny)

tont0r (868535) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465719)

doesnt that means we had to go there in the first place? dur [demon.co.uk]

Re:return to the moon? (3, Funny)

OctoberSky (888619) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465734)

You read too far into things, it means we have to fake it again.

Re:return to the moon? (1)

tont0r (868535) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466107)

or try for the first time..

Re:return to the moon? (2, Funny)

j_kenpo (571930) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466260)

Yeah. [badastronomy.com] But until we get there, whether its again or not, we will never know for sure. Of course you could have asked Buzz Aldrin, just be sure to duck.

lunar embassy (1)

engagebot (941678) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465751)

Old news... I've already got the title for my acre of lunar turf.

www.lunarembassy.com

Re:lunar embassy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14465967)

What the hell is an "astronaught"?

Future of our civilization? (0, Flamebait)

thaerin (937575) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465787)

When the subject is one as potentially important to the future of our civilization as the energy resources geologist Harrison ("Jack") Schmitt sees buried in the lunar surface, along with our future in space, it becomes all the more daunting to take issue with it.

Ok, so we're already screwing up the ecological system of one planet, so all the more reason to start mining the moon too! What a wonderful present to give to future generations. "Sorry about that ozone thing son, we didn't think it would turn out this bad. Oh, sure, the moon is 1/5th it's original size now in due to all the mining, but you can still find it with a telescope in the night sky."

I'm sorry, but isn't it this "let's just mine the blasted thing!" line of thinking that's stifled the advancement of newer energy resources for so long?

Re:Future of our civilization? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14465911)

...Then the future generations can say "let's just blast the mined thing!" and be done with it...

Re:Future of our civilization? (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465916)

Could you please explain what sort of ecology exists on the moon to be destroyed?

    Brett

Tree hugger with no trees to hug (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14465983)

from wikipedia: Ecology, or ecological science, is the scientific study of the distribution and abundance of living organisms and how these properties are affected by interactions between the organisms and their environment.

Re:Future of our civilization? (2, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465966)

Ok, so we're already screwing up the ecological system of one planet, so all the more reason to start mining the moon too!

Ecological system? On the moon? Dude, give me some of what you're smoking, I need it to get the moon [slashdot.org] .

Oh, sure, the moon is 1/5th it's original size now in due to all the mining, but you can still find it with a telescope in the night sky.

1. The moon is approximately 7.475 x 10^22 kg [hypertextbook.com] in size, or approximately . We haven't even dug up the equivalent of 4/5ths of the moon in the entire time we've been on Earth!

2. The moon is mostly composed of oxidized Iron. a.k.a. Rust. It might make a great base for various space operations (e.g. manufacturing, staging, telescopes, power collections, etc.) as well as a proving ground for our upcoming launch technologies, but there are far better places in the Solar System to be mining. You know, like all those heavy metal rich asteriods that pass by Earth all the time.

Re:Future of our civilization? (1)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466180)

Ok, so we're already screwing up the ecological system of one planet, so all the more reason to start mining the moon too!

Ecological system? On the moon? Dude, give me some of what you're smoking, I need it to get the moon.

I do beleive the one planet he is taking about is the Earth, since its the only one we have screwed up so far.

Re:Future of our civilization? (1)

coofercat (719737) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466392)

Honestly, I don't really disagree with you. However, we both share an arrogant viewpoint (which our collective parent poster doesn't).

A few hundred years ago, coal burning plant builders said "the smoke doth vanish into the air". It seemed back then that the atmosphere was so big there was no way we could "fill it up" with coal smoke. Pretty soon, we realised that wasn't the case.

Of course, we humans did the same thing time and time again. "Oh, these little aerosols can't possibly do anything nasty" (and so on).

Pinching the odd asteroid, or digging up n percent of the "it's just dust" moon might seem like a good idea now, but maybe we'll realise that these things are required for something. I can't imagine what, but then I don't assume I know everything yet.

Sadly, we'll have to break things before we figure out how they work. By then, it'll be too late of course. Welcome to human nature. That said, I'm not sure there's really an alternative.

Re:Future of our civilization? (4, Insightful)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465997)

Ok, so we're already screwing up the ecological system of one planet, so all the more reason to start mining the moon too!

Oh, no! You mean those evil miners might one day turn the moon into a ball of irradiated lifeless rock!?! The horror!

I'm sorry, but isn't it this "let's just mine the blasted thing!" line of thinking that's stifled the advancement of newer energy resources for so long?

When newer energy resources are developed, it will be done using materials that came out of mines. Scientific advancement is rarely hindered by too many mines; usually the limiting factor is too much ignorance.

Re:Future of our civilization? (1)

aicrules (819392) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466151)

While I don't think it would have an immediate impact (a la the moon exploding like in Time Machine remake) but it could certainly have an impact on tidal flows. I don't know what other environmental impact the moon has, and I have no clue how much a change in mass it would take to affect earth noticably, but it should at least be done carefully. The moon is definitely part of our ecosystem.

Re:Future of our civilization? (1)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466365)

While I don't think it would have an immediate impact (a la the moon exploding like in Time Machine remake) but it could certainly have an impact on tidal flows. I don't know what other environmental impact the moon has, and I have no clue how much a change in mass it would take to affect earth noticably,

Yes, this would be an example of that "too much ignorance" I mentioned. Looking up the (literally astronomical) ratio between the Moon's mass and human mining needs as another poster suggested would be one way to start correcting that. A little a priori knowledge would help, too: the ellipticity of the Moon's orbit, the receding of the Moon's orbit, and the interactions between solar and lunar tides all mean that tide strengths are already variable. A quick Google search should tell you roughly how much they vary, which should give you an idea how much of a change human activity might have to make to be noticeable.

Hopefully seeing some of those numbers will make you realize how flawed the premise of the problem is to begin with, in fact. If we ever get to the point where we can remove a noticable percentage of the Moon's mass, contracting the Moon's orbital radius to keep tidal amplitudes balanced would be relatively simple.

it should at least be done carefully.

The fact that some people suffer from technophobia doesn't mean people should be afraid of removing mass from the Moon, not any more than the existance of agoraphobia means we should be afraid to leave the house.

Re:Future of our civilization? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466494)

"I have no clue how much a change in mass it would take to affect earth noticeably," Yea I can see that. Here are a few clues.
The moon is big around 7.475 x 10^22 kg so to cause about a one percent change in the tides you would have to remove 7.475 x 10^17 metric TONS of stuff. Or to put in round number 747,400,000,000,000,000 metric tons.
Since they are talking about mining He3 which has a very low mass I would be willing to guess that all the He3 on the moon would have a mass several billion times less than that number. Even if they make the tanks on the moon to carry the He3 it would still be less than a billionth of a percent.
it also doesnt matter how much stuff they have to tear up to get to He3 since they will leave the slag and tailing's on the moon so that will not decrease the mass.

Re:Future of our civilization? (1)

th3ranger (945738) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466552)

YADMAC- you are dumb minus all credit I think it would be fairly difficult to significantly change the mass of the moon. I mean really. Do you have any idea how much 1% of its mass would be? Even if it was changed by that amount I'd have to seriously doubt its gonna change our tides much, since half the day's tide is caused by the sun. But depite the remote possibility that could even happen due to changing the moon's mass, the changing tides only steals rotational momentom from the earth anyway. Oh no! We'll have day and night a million more years! The titanic size of the planets around us is the very same reason terra-forming could take hundreds of years! No matter what mandkind does, even if on purpose, has little effect on what is already in place. I mean seriously thousands of years of burning stuff in large quantities and only just now does the planet warm up on average a single degree??? Oh yeah lets start worrying were all about to die! lol.

It's only natural to inhabit the moon next. (1)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465790)

Mankind has always and will always explore. That's how people spread across the globe. People braved massive oceans and inhospitable conditions just to see what lies ahead. It's who we are. None of the early explorers new if it would be worthwhile or profitable, but they did it anyways.

With that said, humans have scoured this planet pretty well (except the oceans) and space seems like the natural next step. Do we know if it will be worth it? Of course not, but there are never any guarantees.

http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]

Re:It's only natural to inhabit the moon next. (2, Interesting)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466238)

Mankind has always and will always explore. That's how people spread across the globe. People braved massive oceans and inhospitable conditions just to see what lies ahead. It's who we are. None of the early explorers new if it would be worthwhile or profitable, but they did it anyways.

That's a nice romantic notion, but unfortunately it's bullshit. Exploration has always been about profit, from the stone ages when people went in search of new food and game supplies, to Columbus looking for new trade routes, to Europeans coming to the United States for the cheap land.

Exploration "because it's there" is a relatively modern concept originally created, frankly, by rich people with too much time on their hands.

Space will be inhabited when, and only when, it's profitable to do so. And it's very likely that it will bases floating in space before we see moon colonies.

blow up the moon (-1, Offtopic)

kevin.fowler (915964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465793)

I've done a pushup on it, played golf on it... what else is there to do?

Really, any subject? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14465806)

"No matter what the subject, one has to admire a book written by an astronaut and former US senator, illustrated with photos of the author at work on the Moon."

Ah, I now have an audience for my new book about space traveling rebel monkeys and their laser battles with NASA. Now I only need to find an astronaut to write it for me to make it "marketable"...

zoom in for the reason why didnt go back... (2, Funny)

tont0r (868535) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465820)

Well fuck-a-duck (3, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465823)

Schmitt's potentially inspiring commercial justification in Return to the Moon: Exploration, Enterprise, and Energy

I can't believe it! That's my "three E's of space travel!" philosphy! The primary difference is "Economy, Energy, and Exploration" (in that order). Which is pretty much the same thing as "Enterprise".

The only thing I don't understand is: What's with this obsession with fusion? Screw fusion. It's perpetually 20 years away. When the eggheads get it working, then we'll worry about going to the moon. Let's think a little more realistically. For example, massive mylar mirrors could focus gigawatts of energy on a space-based, close-cycle Brayton generator. The power can then be beamed back to Earth OR to all the other ventures happening in the solar system. And cheap power in space can mean cheaper costs for manufacturing and propulsion. Cheaper manufacturing and propulsion in space means $$$ for returning valuable materials from Asteriods. Of course, just like with the power, you need an infrastructure to support all that and bring prices down further. So a booming economy appears overnight to support this stuff. Venture capitalist smell money. Before you know it, we won't even remember what it was like when we didn't have space travel. :)

Re:Well fuck-a-duck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14466469)

"Cheaper manufacturing and propulsion in space means $$$ for returning valuable materials from Asteriods."

Asteroids are made of rock/iron/carbon. Look down, what's there? Rock. Visit a car junkyard? Iron, right there for the taking. Ever see a tree? Carbon, cabron.

Blah Iridium, bluh He3. Neither of these does anything particularly useful that we can't do right now on Earth.

If we had a significant population living out of the gravity well, asteroids would be useful because you don't have to use fuel launching stuff to them. Now, they simply aren't worth it. A solution looking for a problem.

smilely face (-1, Flamebait)

ILKO_deresolution (352578) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465840)

process a smilely face into that beutiful thing hanging in the sky!
what *colour will the biproducts be.

Tokamak He-3 fusion practical? (1)

crumley (12964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465889)

The reviewer says "the extra proton in helium means the ideal fusion temperature for He3-D mixtures is over four times as large ... .That makes the traditional approaches to fusion reactors, creating very hot and dense plasmas, essentially impractical for He3 fusion."

Has the current consensus really ruled out tokamaks for D-He3 fusion? My understanding is that though it is obviously more difficult, that the benefits of this reaction might make it worth it. Anyone have any decent recent references?

Space travel isn't feasible (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465929)

Space travel with chemical fuels isn't feasible.

After half a century of building big rockets, we now know that they don't work very well. Half a century ago, they were use-once-and-throw-away devices, and they still are. Payloads are still tiny compared to the launch weight, even for the Shuttle. Compare the figures for jet aircraft, which can be half payload.

Reliability is still lousy, too. This is because so much weight reduction is required just to get the things off the ground that they don't have adequate safety margins. About 10-20% of satellite launches still fail, almost half a century after the first one. That number isn't improving, either; in fact, it was a little better in the 1970s. There have only been a few hundred Shuttle flights, and it's crashed once. (Update since I wrote this in 2002: twice). Commercial aircraft flights, by comparison, fail a few times per year, out of millions of flights.

Half a century in aviation took us from the Wright Brothers Flyer to the B-52. Half a century in rocketry took us from the Atlas I to the Atlas V. There's been little progress in launch vehicles since the 1960s. All the major launch systems were created decades ago. So chemical fuels just don't have the power-to-weight ratio for useful space travel. People knew this in the Orion nuclear rocket days; it's a straightforward calculation. It's unfortunate that an Orion wasn't launched once or twice, just to demonstrate that nuclear propulsion is possible.

Re:Space travel isn't feasible **Mark Parent UP** (1)

Apostata (390629) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466071)

Yes, I would rather we focus not on the moon, but on finding another propulsion method that isn't based on the 'upside-down firecracker' technique we've been using up till now.

Re:Space travel isn't feasible (3, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466122)

Space travel with chemical fuels isn't feasible.

Pfff. Is that your only complaint. We've got propulsion methods pouring out of our wahzoo. Lemme see, we've got Orion, Nuclear Thermal Rockets, Ion Engines, Magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters (MPDT), Mini-Magnetosphere Plasma Propulsion (M2P2), etc, etc, etc. And that's just the stuff we're sure will work. On the drawing boards we've Nuclear Salt Water Rockets, Daedalus Boosters, Antimatter propulsion, blah, blah, blah. The problem with all these methods isn't that they're inefficient, or that they won't get us where we're going. The problem is that ALL of them require you to obtain orbit first.

What we're missing is cheap launch solution. There are currently no engines in existence that can provide a launch for less than ~$50,000,000. (Keep an eye on the Falcon rockets, though.) If you're using a super-booster to launch metric craploads of material, throwing away the rocket isn't so bad. But just to transport a few people or light cargo to orbit, we STILL have to throw away the rocket OR use a rocket that's so overdesigned it costs more to maintain than a throw-away rocket. (aka The Space Shuttle. Marvel of engineering, marveled by shocked accounts.)

We need to go back to 1975 and pick up the pieces where we left off. Instead of a Space Shuttle capable of carrying cargo, we need a fully reusable SSTO (Single Stage To Orbit) Space Shuttle that keeps costs down. Instead of a Space Shuttle that launches a mere 27ish tonnes of cargo, we need a super-booster that can carry upwards of 100 metric tonnes of cargo. Instead of a Space Station that's sitting in the wrong orbit to do anything useful, we need a Spaceship Garage in space capable of building, repairing, manufacturing, and staging inbound/outbound flights to the rest of the solar system.

The CEV project is on the right track, but we'll have to see if the higher ups eventually pull their heads out and start supporting missions and technology that will go somewhere rather than making some politco happy with his pork.

Re:Space travel isn't feasible (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466626)

Lemme see, we've got Orion...The problem is that ALL of them require you to obtain orbit first

I bet you could launch something into orbit with an Orion drive. Just don't plan on coming back for a few thousand years.

Did Americans ever landed on the moon (0)

poeidon1 (767457) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465956)

Fox says no and so do I , otherwise why is taking a period of 40 years to plan another moon trip.

Re:Did Americans ever landed on the moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14466438)

Please, please, please be a democrat.

Are you a democrat or a republican?

Re:Did Americans ever landed on the moon (2, Informative)

gladmac (729908) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466504)

The show on Fox was utterly wrong and stupid. http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/tv/foxapollo.html [badastronomy.com] Do not bother answering without reading linked information.

No matter the subjet? (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 8 years ago | (#14465970)

No matter what the subject, one has to admire a book written by an astronaut and former US senator

Really, so if an astronaut becmoe senator writes a cheesy fictionaly thriller novel, or My Ten Favorite Women's Undergarments we'd still have to admire it because of the author?

Long wire? (1)

xzanth (562693) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466130)

So now you've got a power plant on the moon.... How do you get the power back to Earth?

How about reading the book? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14466159)

Read the rest of Arthur's review.



Because a book review is always far better than reading the book itself.

Obligatory Cheese Ad (1, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466163)

For thousands of years, mankind thought the moon was made of cheese.

Then we went there and found out it was made of rock.

We haven't been back since.

Behold the power of cheese.

Propaganda. It's about US military supremacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14466174)

This book is nothing more than propaganda designed to convince us the reason we need to go back to space and the moon is for reasons other than what the government really wants to go there for: maintaining U.S. military supremacy.

They want to establish higher ground in space by making a base on the moon, at L1 and where ever else is useful. They'll also be able to put resources in space that will have 'alternative' military uses or be able to slip in satellites or space based manufacturing with dual purposes.

This is just the first installment of their campaign to create the PR foundation in the public mind, basically tapping into the patriotic glory of the Apollo missions that rightfully lives on in our hearts, to justify the MASSIVE spending 'STAR WARS' will require. Can you think of any other way to accomplish this when we have things like Katrina, healthcare, college costs, the MASSIVE FEDERAL DEFICIT/NATIONAL DEBT?

Now, you might argue that this is prudent on the Pentagon's part because of China, India, etc. who would love to get into space and, they hope, to a level of military power equivalent to the U.S.. There's no doubt China has the money and is getting closer to the engineering necessary every day, but must we continue to up the ante militarily?

Do we really need another arms race? "Can we all just get along?" ;) Seriously though, isn't the future of the world, given the march of technology, productivity, prosperity, more about economics and cooperation than it is about Machiavellian power and control to get the lions share of the wealth produced by that progress? I know, it's hard to tell, isn't it?

Back to the Moon (2, Interesting)

Petaris (771874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466207)

This seems to have a lot of similarities to the book "Back to the Moon" by Homeer H. Hickam.

http://www.homerhickam.com/books/moon.shtml [homerhickam.com]

Other then Back to the Moon is meant to be science fiction, the author did explain that the Helium 3 fusion theory that was one of the main plot points in the book was not science fiction. Over all it was a good read and unlike many sci-fi novells most everything in it was feisable with current technology. After all, it was written by a NASA engineer.

If you are looking for a good book you might want to have a look at this.

Spacedaily picture links (2, Informative)

bhny (97647) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466326)

for some reason the pic links on spacedaily are wrong. the links are to erosdaily.com - (someone's joke?).

this link works-
http://spacedaily.com/images/apollo-schmitt-rock-1 280.jpg [spacedaily.com]

Mining Moon not a good idea... (1)

rd (30144) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466393)

Anyone who has seen the Time Machine [imdb.com] would know that mining the moon is a really bad idea...

The REAL reason why America is going to the moon (1)

RonMcMahon (544607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14466478)

The Chineese have declared that they want to go to the moon, hopefully before 2025. The thought of another communist country establishing a moonbase has forced America's hand. Face it, there is no economic reason to go (other postings here on earth-based HE3 production prove it). The reason is one of image, America is the ONLY country to send humans to the moon and military supremacy. In the same way that Sputnik launched the space race in the 1950s, China's declaration of a moon project spurred NASA to declare that it too will return to Luna.
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