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NASA Unveils Strategy for Return to the Moon

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the why-buy-one-when-you-could-buy-two-at-twice-the-price dept.

NASA 377

mknewman writes to tell us that NASA recently announced plans to build a permanent base on the moon by 2024. The (still tentative) plans call for building the base on one of the moon's poles, which constantly receive light from the sun and have less temperature fluctuation. This base will start small in 2020 and grow over time with the hopes of eventually supporting 180-day stays and providing a jumping-off point to Mars."

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377 comments

FP for once... (3, Insightful)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110300)

and I was able to read the article first... just hope they're not gonna be bean-counted to death on this one... those auditors are already sharpening up their knives to trim the budget... I'd hate to see an astronaut die because things were cut too fine...

Beancounters and budgets (5, Insightful)

wasted (94866) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110592)

... just hope they're not gonna be bean-counted to death on this one... those auditors are already sharpening up their knives to trim the budget... I'd hate to see an astronaut die because things were cut too fine...


I would guess that the lunar budget would be cut totally before it got that fine. There is plenty of time before an actual landing for Congress to cut that part of NASA's budget, saying "The money could be better spent here on Earth," leaving out the last part of the phrase. ("The money could be bettter spent here on Earth getting pork for my constituents so I get re-elected and/or my party gains more seats.")

I hope that it doesn't happen that way.

Re:Beancounters and budgets (3, Interesting)

nido (102070) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111164)

There is plenty of time before an actual landing for Congress to cut that part of NASA's budget, saying "The money could be better spent here on Earth," leaving out the last part of the phrase. ("The money could be bettter spent here on Earth getting pork for my constituents so I get re-elected and/or my party gains more seats.")

Just because that's been the modus operandi for most of the 20th century doesn't mean that it will be forever. I expect in the (very near) future it might go something like this: "after 100 years of pork, our once-noble republic is now bankrupt, and we have no resources to spend on moon shots."

See the St. Louis Fed's Is the United States Bankrupt? [stlouisfed.org] :
CONCLUSION

There are 77 million baby boomers now ranging from age 41 to age 59. All are hoping to collect tens of thousands of dollars in pension and healthcare benefits from the next generation. These claimants aren't going away. In three years, the oldest boomers will be eligible for early Social Security benefits. In six years, the boomer vanguard will start collecting Medicare. Our nation has done nothing to prepare for this onslaught of obligation. Instead, it has continued to focus on a completely meaningless fiscal metric--"the" federal deficit--censored and studiously ignored long-term fiscal analyses that are scientifically coherent, and dramatically expanded the benefit levels being explicitly or implicitly promised to the baby boomers.

Countries can and do go bankrupt. The United States, with its $65.9 trillion fiscal gap, seems clearly headed down that path. The country needs to stop shooting itself in the foot. It needs to adopt generational accounting as its standard method of budgeting and fiscal analysis, and it needs to adopt fundamental tax, Social Security, and healthcare reforms that will redeem our children's future.

(emphasis added)

This means no more big expensive chemical-rocket-powered moon shots. If someone figures out antigravity (I'd bet that it shares as-yet undiscovered principles with Cold Fusion [slashdot.org] ) in the next couple years that'd be an option, but Apollo is simply fiscally unrepeatable.

Don't mean to be too harsh on GWB & his co-conspirators (coupsters? [wikipedia.org] - whoever killed JFK never let go of the control they gained) - other countries are bankrupt too. But if you can find the United States on this ordered list of Current Account Balances [cia.gov] , and compare its number to, say, Germany or Japan, you might begin to understand the U.S. economy's problem. Even though such industrialized countries as Spain, the U.K., Australia, France, Italy, etc are in close proximity on the list, if you compare the actual numbers you will surely realize that that certain 'empire' (military bases in 130+ countries) is in a class all by itself.

Recall that the real unemployment rate in the U.S. is probably somewhere around 12% (according to the Shadow Stats [shadowstats.com] guy), and that the rich have been screwing the masses [kuro5hin.org] ('us') for most of the last 150 years, concentrating 'our' wealth in 'their' pockets. Even if this moonshot thing was fiscally possible, it'd just be another way for the corporate class to concentrate the working stiffs' ('our') tax dollars in their pockets.

(I look at the positives of the situation - the end of this economic system will mean the end of the masses' ['our'] current state of Wage Slavery, where many spend 40+ hours/week slaving away at two jobs to make someone else ['the corporate class' or 'the bankers'] rich.)

Re:Beancounters and budgets (4, Interesting)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111232)

"The money could be better spent here on Earth," leaving out the last part of the phrase. ("The money could be bettter spent here on Earth getting pork for my constituents so I get re-elected and/or my party gains more seats.")

The money IS all spent on Earth. It'll be a while before it can be outsourced to Mars. As for pork, why do you think NASA is based in Houston? Answer: LBJ.

Cost for supporting people is high. (1, Informative)

reporter (666905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110672)

Although the moonbase certainly captures the imagination, we must ask whether the high cost of supporting human life on the moon is worth the benefit. Could we get a better return on investment by not supporting human life and by using a crude robot (or remotely controlled mechanism along the lines of the 2 Mars rovers)? The robot would need neither oxygen nor a regulated environment at 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Since the Moon is much closer to the Earth than Mars, remote-control of the robot should have a delay on the order of seconds instead of minutes.

Further, all the money that we save in not transporting life-support systems to the moon could be invested in many more vital science/technology experiments -- conducted by our trusty robots.

In my opinion, sending people on far-away space missions will never be cost effective until we solve the biggest problem: the speed of our space vehicles. They need to be so fast that going to and from Pluto should take no more than an hour. If your spaceship blows a fuse near Jupiter, NASA can send a space taxi in 15 minutes to give you a lift.

A while ago, SlashDot reported on plans by the US Air Force to utilize Heim theory to build a warp drive for space travel [wikipedia.org] . The news about these plans seem to have disappeared from the popular press' radar. Does anyone have more information about progress on this exotic project?

Re:Cost for supporting people is high. (5, Funny)

Wavicle (181176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110736)

They need to be so fast that going to and from Pluto should take no more than an hour.

186,282.397 miles per second. It's not just a good idea, it's the law!

Re:Cost for supporting people is high. (1)

Leviance (1001065) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110826)

A podcast from the BBC that interviewed Stephen Hawking a few days ago. Hawking seemed to be a bit off the deep end when he said that the only way humanity can be guaranteed a future is if we start to colonize other planets, which would require going to other stars. His suggestion: an engine somehow fueled by anti-matter/matter reactions which would propel the spaceship nearly at the speed of light and get us to the nearest star within 6 years (though faster in "real-time" for the astronauts due to space time issues).

Of course, no thoughts of how to harness antimatter...But interesting nonetheless.

Re:Cost for supporting people is high. (3, Insightful)

nacnud75 (963443) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111124)

Well seeing as the point of sending people to the moon is to figure out how to get humans to survive off planet just sending robots seems rather pointless. There is nothing to stop you sending robots as well in fact sending both is probably far more productive than either alone as then enhance each others strengths.

Re:Cost for supporting people is high. (3, Funny)

AGMW (594303) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111200)

... and by using a crude robot ...

I, for one, welcome our new foul mouthed, swearing like a wounded pirate, robot overlords ... er ... or something?

Re:FP for once... (2, Insightful)

cold fjord (826450) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111012)

....just hope they're not gonna be bean-counted to death on this one... those auditors are already sharpening up their knives to trim the budget.

I would worry more about the new and future Congresses, and future presidents. After all, this is in response to President Bush's initiative to go to Mars, it will require a long term commitment to accomplish it, and some people prefer President Bush to be a "miserable failure [google.com] ".

FTA:
"We're going to go after a lunar base," said Scott Horowitz, NASA associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. The lunar base will be the central theme in NASA's going back to the Moon effort, he said, in preparation to go to Mars and beyond.

There will always be pressure to spend the money elsewhere, especially since the budgets [heritage.org] for social welfare programs (social security, medicare, medicaid) are going to start ballooning* due to the retiring baby boomers. The politics on this will be brutal: "If you aren't for moving $5 billion from the moon base to put into social security, you are for tossing grandma out on the street to die." You should expect the media to perform to existing standards [vt.edu] on this issue, and Washington is a place where simply reducing the planned growth rate in future year's budgets is decried as a cut in budget. President Reagan used to be regularly excoriated in the media over budget games like this, and the pressure on future administrations is likely to be worse.

Some things, like a space program, require long term commitments as it can take years to get anything useful done. During that entire time you are subject to accusations of waste and failure since you don't have anything shiny to show for all of the time and treasure being expended. Over time, a disaster like Apollo 1 [nasa.gov] or Challenger [nasa.gov] is almost inevitable given the technically challenging and inherently dangerous nature of space exploration. The time and treasure required, and the practically inevitable lost lives, will all challenge to our commitment to go the moon and Mars. Will we remain committed? Almost everyone will celebrate the victory of establishing a moon base, and ultimately planting a flag on Mars; relatively few will support the long term effort it will take to get there.

I am hopeful that we can accomplish it. The fact that other nations are heading into space and toward the moon will probably serve to increase support for it since the US won't want to be left out.

* The combined total of social welfare spending already dwarfs military spending, including for the war against extremist Islamist terrorists. Let us hope that moderate Islam starts racking up some victories - even if it takes some time.

...really? (0, Redundant)

commisaro (1007549) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110304)

Am I the only one who thinks that, maybe, they should concentrate first on, you know, actually repeating the thing they only managed once... over 30 years ago... namely, putting a man on the moon. That would be a more realistic goal, I think.

Re:...really? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17110444)

We landed on the moon more than once, stupid.

Nice... but... (1, Insightful)

Mattizzle1 (984967) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110320)

We should have done this 20 years ago, and, I hope they aren't bluffing.. i'll believe it when I see it.

Re:Nice... but... (4, Interesting)

hondamankev (1000186) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110380)

I'm excited about this announcement. However, how many other "NASA Initiatives" have been announced, and due to funding, have never materialized? How many times by how many different presidents has used space exploration purely for political gains with no intention whatsoever to follow through?

Like the OP said, I'll believe it when I start seeing it built. If they really do it, I'll still be alive and senile enough to appreciate the monumental and technical achievements not seen since (then) 55-60 years ago.

Woohoo, Moonbase Alpha! (0, Offtopic)

ecuador_gr (944749) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110342)

I hope they don't also start dumping nuclear waste. We all know where that leads (and I am not talking about alternating funky / orchestral music sequences).

NASA needs mixed developments... (2, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110354)

NASA should follow the examples of many communities by resorting to mixed developments (i.e., stores on the bottom level and apartments on top) to sustain a viable community for the base. Real estate prices will obviously shoot to the moon but I'm sure that Donald Trump will go for a ride.

FUCK MUBUNTU,TSUBUNTU,DEBIAN! NEXENTA ROCKS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17110378)

FUCK DEBIAN, FUCK GENTOO, FUCK UBUNTU! Remove that crappy shit out of your computer today! We have a clear winner here now, a TRUE Unix kernel - Solaris 11 kernel with state of the art GNU software and apt-get tools to install it. It's been such a fucking pleasure to use Solaris that I've almost forgotten how crappy piece of shit Linux kernel is! Try Nexenta today! You will not lose anything, it's completely free! Try and see how fucking much better it is compared to any Linux or BSD shit you've ever tried. Solaris is here today! Stable, beautiful OS, TRUE UNIX! Get Nexenta HERE NOW! [gnusolaris.org]

Re:FUCK MUBUNTU,TSUBUNTU,DEBIAN! NEXENTA ROCKS! (-1, Offtopic)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110424)

highly amusing considering that

SunOS kernel and GNU software. We use Debian/Ubuntu - one of the best existing software distribution/packaging mechanisms - to glue the numerous pieces together.

I'm actually considering doing the gnu/solaris route, thanks for the link...

And now I'd like to return you to your regular programming...

Re: I confirm (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17110490)

Linux is a sack of shit.

But how are the zealots going to get over their addiction of rebooting their computers twice a month because of critical linux kernel patches?

Reliability ranking:
Solaris > Windows XP > Windows NT > Windows 98 > Windows 95 > Linux > Windows 3.1 > DOS

Usability ranking:
Windows XP > Windows 98 > Solaris > Windows NT > Windows 95 > Windows 3.1 > Linux > DOS

It will never happen (5, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110384)

This is WAY too slow of a schedule.

I suspect that by 2015, we will be back on the moon due to Bigelow. Even now, the sundancer is a nice small module for launching as a good way to carry to the moon, as well as land on the moon for a station. Combine that with 2 launch systems, one for earth and one for the moon. By 2010, there will be at least 5 human rated systems (Russian, China, Space Shuttle (probably will not be fully canceled until we have orion going) or Orion, and the 2 cots system). By 2014, the Sundancer will have been in orbit for at least 3 years. That will make it acceptable for taking to the moon and landing on its surface. All that is needed is a landing system for it, a connection module, and a true lunar transport. Finally, the BA-330 will be available by 2015 (I would guess by 2011) and that will be used for the real transport to lunar orbit.

While I like the Ares V (love the capacity), I think that the only real chance is the direct launcher. It is the true safer, faster, cheaper approach.

The plan will adapt to commercial developments. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17110594)

NASA is fully aware of the current work in commercial spaceflight.

Some NASA centers (*cough* Marshall *cough*) feel threatened by it. The brass, and some of the centers, love it, though. They can't say it strongly in public right now, but they would love to take advantage of it to make lunar exploration cheaper and more sustainable.

If the commercial sector --- including COTS, Bigelow, and the other players --- take root and grow, expect NASA to revise the lunar plans. The current plan is the fallback plan. Read the words they used today. They make very clear that the plan is provisional, pending future developments.

Re:It will never happen (1)

slizz (822222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111060)

I really don't understand the use of making a plan that looks forward 14 years in the future. If NASA made a plan in 1992 to come to the moon today, they wouldn't have had plans to use technology like gps, or nano materials, or fuel cells, or god knows what else. Plans would have had to be so constantly adapted that they never would have gone anywhere. If NASA really wants to go the moon, they need to take the technology we have now, plan for 6 months, and build. Honestly, obviously we have the tech to get to the moon (unless its regressed since '69), we just don't have the balls. NASA has become far too risk averse - I'm sure the astronauts would be willing to put their lives on the line for a shot to begin a new era of human existence, I wish the bureaucracy would stop working for perfection and just go for it.

Re:It will never happen (2, Interesting)

nacnud75 (963443) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111198)

The first experimental GPS sat was launched in 1978 The first fuel cell was built in 1843 The technology has been around to do this for a while now, the reason for the long time lines is lack of money not lack of courage. The lack of money isn't necessarily a bad thing it makes the whole program a much more sustainable effort.

Re:It will never happen (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111254)

Plans would have had to be so constantly adapted that they never would have gone anywhere.

And that is what I was telling you. And the previous poster to you was correct in saying that it is a plan that will be modified as new developments come about. As it is, NASA is planning, but they will not be building everything all at once. Instead, currently, we will focus most of the money on the capsule. Why? Because, it is needed and there really is no alternative at this time. In fact, all of the COTS is designed for LEO, not the moon.

NASA is currently pushing the Ares system esp. Ares I for the crew launch. But if you have noticed, there is talk and planning, but nothing is lined up, yet. You can bet that ppl inside of NASA are evaluated the stick against such ideas as DIRECT. I would not be surprised to see NASA flip to it, even though I would love to see the Ares V.

Why do I mention this? Because, plans are just plans until you start really building things. I suspect that NASA will switch to DIRECT and will start pushing bigelow by 2010. That will only leave NASA focused on building a lunar transport and how to live on the moon (or mars).

gromit? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17110386)

Gromit, that's it! Cheese! We'll go somewhere where there's cheese!

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17110388)

I thought there were already moonbases. Someone said that there were "artifacts" in some JPGs of scanned images of the moon... doesn't that imply there is/was activity on the moon? Google for hyperdimensional physics and you'll find out how we got there. So far hyperdimensional physics are the only tools that can be used to mathematically solve a 3-body equation. How else do you think NASA did it?

Such a shame Sergei Korolev died. (4, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110392)

He was the Russian space program. It all went downhill after that. The US had no way of knowing, of course, but his death signalled the end of the space race and the US had won. The fact that they got a man on the moon at all after that is a massive acheivement - a political one as well as a technical one. Even without a heavy lift vehicle, I think Korolev could have beat Von Braun to The Moon. He had the contingency all planned out. This is the plan that the Russian space agency announced last year: take a Souyez up to a space station, refuel it, do a flyby of the Moon. With another refueling in Lunar orbit, you can land and takeoff. You don't need a heavy launch vehicle to do a Moonshot.. it just makes it a lot easier.

Re:Such a shame Sergei Korolev died. (1)

rxmd (205533) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110586)

He was the Russian space program. It all went downhill after that. The US had no way of knowing, of course, but his death signalled the end of the space race and the US had won.

Not exactly. It just shifted. (And frankly, the Russians got a lot more "firsts" than the USA.) The Russians managed to get a lot of experience in running space stations over extended of periods of time that nobody else has to this day. Of course, the motivation for that was fundamentally military in nature.

While I agree that Korolev was a great mind, his N-1 heavy launcher was fundamentally broken with its 30 engines.

This is the plan that the Russian space agency announced last year: take a Souyez up to a space station, refuel it, do a flyby of the Moon. With another refueling in Lunar orbit, you can land and takeoff. You don't need a heavy launch vehicle to do a Moonshot.. it just makes it a lot easier.

If you want to run a moonbase, how do you get lots of fuel into Earth orbit? And into lunar orbit? Doesn't sound terribly efficient.

Fuel depots in orbit. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110724)

If you want to run a moonbase, how do you get lots of fuel into Earth orbit? And into lunar orbit? Doesn't sound terribly efficient.
You get fuel into Earth orbit with heavy lifters. That carry enough fuel for multiple moon trips. You then use a light-lift rocket to get the actual spacecraft up. You can then do multiple light-lift spacecraft up to use up the previously launched fuel more cheaply than putting each spacecraft on its own heavly-lift rocket. If we had used a Saturn V to put a refueling station up (Skylab sized, without the 'space station' internals,) we could have used Saturn-IBs to actually launch the moon-ready pair. (The IB was used to launch Apollo 5, an unmanned CSM/LM pair.) Refuel in LEO, then head off to the moon. That would have saved a lot of money, and could have kept us going to the moon. The main reason this wasn't done was to save development time. It would have required longer to develop the orbiting refueling depot and related procedures.

As for putting a fueling station in lunar orbit, yeah, that's more difficult. The moon's gravity is low enough that 'wasting' the fuel to do direct lunar launches all the way back to Earth orbit would probably have to do until we come up with a 'cheap' way to get mass quantities of fuel to lunar orbit.

But, again, it might be cheaper to launch one big 'fuel depot' to the lunar surface and cut down on the need to carry return fuel out (from Earth) and down on the actual landing craft.

Re:Fuel depots in orbit. (1)

LuxMaker (996734) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111084)

Just get the internet to tranport the fuel up to Earth's orbit. After all it is just a series of tubes right? =P

Re:Such a shame Sergei Korolev died. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110848)

He was the Russian space program. It all went downhill after that. The US had no way of knowing, of course, but his death signalled the end of the space race and the US had won.

He was a propulsion guy but 80% of operating on and around the moon was in the piloting, procedures and life support systems. The USSR didn't have any kind of PLSS for lunar surface operations. I seriously doubt their ability to manage the operations of an apollo style mission. Their crews made good with poor equipment and made stuff up on the spot. In a situation like apollo 13 they would have been more likely to lose the mission.

Re:Such a shame Sergei Korolev died. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111052)

He was the Russian space program. It all went downhill after that. The US had no way of knowing, of course, but his death signalled the end of the space race and the US had won.

No - the race was over before he died. They lost about 1963-64 when they didn't take the US effort seriously, and didn't get either their large boosters going or mount a serious challenge to Gemini. (This wasn't clear then, and has only really become clear with the information available after the fall of the Soviet Union.)
 
 
Even without a heavy lift vehicle, I think Korolev could have beat Von Braun to The Moon. He had the contingency all planned out. This is the plan that the Russian space agency announced last year: take a Souyez up to a space station, refuel it, do a flyby of the Moon. With another refueling in Lunar orbit, you can land and takeoff.

That's a Brave and Bold plan - but it has one gaping hole in it. At the time, the Soviets didn't have a booster big enough to launch the needed TLI stage. (Nor did they have a booster big enough to hoist a space station of any size.) It also has a second, less obvious hole, in that the Soviets had essentially zero experience in rendezvous until the early 70's.
 
 
You don't need a heavy launch vehicle to do a Moonshot.. it just makes it a lot easier.

That's a nice theory - but it doesn't work unless you have rendezvous experience and the ability to salvo launches with a very short turnaround. Additionally it leads to a fairly complex mission plan - one with many more chances of failure than using a heavy lift booster. Heavy lift boosters not only make it easier - they make it simpler as well. (And to some degree cheaper - as booster cost scales only very weakly with size.)

The other big breaking news... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17110402)

There's a rumor that NASA will announce the discovery of liquid water [nasawatch.com] at or near Mars' surface.

God I hope that's true.

And I hope the aquifer is substantial.

Re:The other big breaking news... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110840)

There's a rumor that NASA will announce the discovery of liquid water at or near Mars' surface.

It doesn't really matter becuse ISRU can use water from the atmosphere or ice from the poles and permafrost.

Re:The other big breaking news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17110992)

water? bah...

WMD and we are talking!

Damn... (1, Interesting)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110440)

When I was a kid in the 80's, I thought we would actually get to Mars in my lifetime, but it doesn't look like it. :-(

Re:Damn... (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110566)

That is OK. When I was kid in the 60's, it really looked like it would happen in my lifetime. Problem is that since early 80's, several presidents have ran up massive deficits all but guaranteeing that the USA gov. will not be doing it. The good news is that we will get there via private enterprise. I would guess that the first mission will be a mineral recon by ~6-10 who will stay there for at least 10 years.

First Things First (4, Insightful)

DumbSwede (521261) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110452)

Why not spend a decade concentrating our efforts on designing and building radically new heavy launch lift concepts? While we are far from being able to build a space elevators, we could build both launch assist catapults and orbit assist tethers.

Re:First Things First (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110824)

Why not spend a decade concentrating our efforts on designing and building radically new heavy launch lift concepts?

They are too expensive because nobody will launch satellites on them.

Re:First Things First (0)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110902)

Speaking of "first things first", why not focus on, oh, I don't know, AIDS. Or maybe homelessness in America. Or shitty public schools. Or a better trained (i.e. not shooting a drunk, black guy 50 times) police force. Or clean water. Or more energy efficient cars.

Why spend billions on a trip to the moon *before* we solve the real crises that threaten our everyday life?

Yes, I know the space program brought about better $material for $application and all that crap. But a billion bucks could seriously make life better back on Earth.

Re:First Things First (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17111106)

Diminishing returns, for one. In other words, you can't solve a problem just by throwing money at it.

It almost always helps, but it helps less, the more you throw.

Of course, you can get increasing returns if the money is very little to begin, and you do have a point.

The way I look at it, though, is this: yes, those problems should be better funded. And NASA is not the first thing I would cut to fund them. Or the second. Or.... You have to go pretty far down the list, because of $material, $application, and in general, the future. And because the sort of people that make great aerospace engineers don't always make good AIDS researchers. Wasted talent, and all that.

Re:First Things First (4, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111126)

A billion bucks could also make life seriously worse on Earth - how much has the Iraq war cost so far? NASA doesnt spend money in space, it spends money here, people get paid, companies get paid, life goes on. We have been throwing stupendous amounts of money at humanities ills for the past 50 years, do you really think a few billion more is going to accelerate the process where a few hundred billion hasnt been able to?

Earth, humanity will get fixed, but at its own pace.

All right, I will take a shot. (4, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111148)

Speaking of "first things first", why not focus on, oh, I don't know, AIDS. Or maybe homelessness in America. Or shitty public schools. Or a better trained (i.e. not shooting a drunk, black guy 50 times) police force. Or clean water. Or more energy efficient cars.
  1. Aids: The simple answer is that more money is going into aids research, prevention, and life sustinance than into NASA. Funny thing though, is that AIDS is not even #3 killer in America, let alone the world. Throwing money at it will NOT make this happen. In fact, if you are going to solve a major bio killer, then solve heart problems, cancer, or even influenza.
  2. Homelessness in America? You kidding? the best way to solve it is by job creation esp for the middle class. As it is, the middle class is being quickly wiped out. What will get it back is simple job creation. And where does that come from? By start-ups and by high tech. And where does the high-tech for this come from? Well, DARPA is a good source. So is, wait for it, NASA.
  3. shitty public schools. First, our schools are not that shitty. The problem is that other nations are simply catching up. Due to our high labour costs, we need to figure out how to teach more efficiently esp since we are losing our middle class (the true tax base). But where does all that high-tech education come from? Various sources including .... NASA.
  4. a better trained police force: This will not change until society changes its mores. Unless you want American to force everybody to think the same (it failed in NAZI Germany, totalitarian USSR and China), then this will take time.
  5. Clean water: this is doable today. The problem is that it is an issue of politics. Bush has been gutting the EPA and its rules (including on clean water). As it is, the new dems will at least slow down the rape and pillage. But now it is up to the dems to win the next election as well as make sane laws. For starters, they should allow more oil drilling. Just hold the companies and their officials truely responsible. Require that drilling in environmentally sensative areas require BEST AVAILABLE tech, as opposed to simply setting minimum standards. If we did that, then the drilling would happen as tech improves and oil prices go up, but it would be safe. Basically, they need to use some reason.
  6. Energy efficent cars: Worse idea yet. The simple answer is that the gov. has no business trying to figure out how to solve this. As it is, Bush is busy giving oil major tax cuts, which skews the market. In addition, he is pushing hydrogen which is 20 years out. OTH, v.c. money is going into electrical systems esp. super capacitors. If Bush (including clinton, bush I, and reagan) had stayed out of playing with support for Oil, then we would already have efficient cars. BTW, who else is spending money on good super capacitor? NASA. Why? because most of the sats have power cycles due to solar cells being blocked by planet shadows. In addition, batteries really have a limited re-charge cycle on the order of a 1000x, where U.C. are rechargable 100-1000 K x.


I will take the idea of spreading our risks around rather than trying to solve just one or several issues, thank you very much. NASA is acutally some of the cheapest insurance that our society has. As it is, a bunch of new jobs are about to come on line in aviation and aeronautics, due to NASA.

less energy to go direct? (3, Funny)

techmuse (160085) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110456)

Wouldn't it take a LOT less energy and time to go directly to mars, rather than stopping off at the moon and having to escape the gravity well of *two* planetary bodies before going to Mars?

Besides, they'll probably only serve peanuts, they won't have any pillows, the in flight movie will be a bad movie that all the astronauts have already seen 3 times, they will spend most of their time waiting for other spacecraft to launch while they sit in a hot and stuffy capsule, and they will have to take their moon boots off as they pass through security. Not to mention delays due to meteor showers, turbulence in the solar wind, and aliens that pop out of crew members' stomachs. It's probably better to take the train at this rate, or maybe even drive.

Re:less energy to go direct? (2, Insightful)

Reverse Gear (891207) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110600)

I haven't been doing calculations on this, but I imagine you need to bring a lot more weight to send someone to Mars than to the moon, so if you could somehow get the weighty parts you need to the moon in small bits (or even better extract it from the moon or make it on the moon, for example the fuel through solar panels) then I think you could save a substantial amount of fuel doing so.
Also with the moon rotation around the earth you probably would be able to get an extra starting speed that you wouldn't have to spend fuel to get.
There are probably other factors involved in this that I haven't considered ... this is just what came to mind.

Re:less energy to go direct? (1, Informative)

KonoWatakushi (910213) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110612)

Wouldn't it take a LOT less energy and time to go directly to mars, rather than stopping off at the moon and having to escape the gravity well of *two* planetary bodies before going to Mars?

Yes, it is absolutely stupid to stop at the moon on the way to mars. Until we have a completely self-sustained presence on the moon, with full manufacturing capabilities, it makes no sense.

In fact, it takes *more* energy to get to the moon than to mars. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta-v#Delta-v.27s_a round_the_Solar_System [wikipedia.org]

Re:less energy to go direct? (1)

Herve5 (879674) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110862)

In fact on your very Wikipedia diagram I count much less fuel needed to go from Earth to Moon than from Earth to Mars (9.3 + 4.1 + 1.6 m/s, vs 9.3 + 2.5 + .7 + .6 + .9 + .2 + .3 + .9 + 4.1).

But it remains perfectly clear than it costs much more to leave Earth *via the Moon* than to leave directly (all the remainder delta-Vs from Earth C3 piling up the same, indeed you compare 9.3 + 4.1 + 1.6 [twice] + .7 m/s to 9.3 + 2.5 + .7 )

So you are still absolutely right, a stop by the Moon is a clear waste in delta-V...

Re:less energy to go direct? (1)

KonoWatakushi (910213) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111090)

Look at the red arrows on that diagram; these changes in delta-v can be accomplished with aerobraking, and are effectively free. The return trip is not as nice, but stopping at the moon still makes no sense.

It should be 9.3 + 4.1 + 1.6 km/s, vs 9.3 + 2.5 + .7 + .6 km/s. (Actually, that is not the quickest way to the moon, but the comparison still stands.)

In any case, talking about using the moon "as a jumping-off point to Mars," is a clear attempt at deception.

Re:less energy to go direct? (1)

Fry-kun (619632) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110674)

In terms of fuel, you're probably right.
However, I'm sure there's a lot more to it than just fuel.
What about supplies, for instance? Let's say you need 1 ton of supplies - but the shuttle will only take 200 kilos away from earth. Either you need to build a bigger rocket, one that can take up 1 ton, or you can stockpile the stuff somewhere. Moon makes sense because it has lower gravity (which means the craft that could take up 200 kilos might take 1 ton up from the moon). You don't want to fill ISS with supplies for something like this. Plus, humans are used to building structures under gravity's effect - which means it should be much easier to build a port on the moon than in space.
That is not to say that the solution sounds feasible right now.. Not only there's a matter of basic supplies, but also there are problems like radiation and meteorites - which are not so easily solved.

Feh, with so many problems we'll get there by walking first.

Re:less energy to go direct? (4, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111256)

You don't stockpile your supplies on the Moon. You stockpile them in Earth orbit. You don't build a spaceport on the moon. That would be pointless. You build an interplanetary spacecraft in orbit. The moon serves but a single purpose in a Mars mission: Technology proving ground. Can we build functional habitats? Can we stay in space for months, years at a time? What tools do we need? What issues might arise?

The only role the moon might play in the actual Mars launch would be as a gravitational slingshot.

In space "direct" != "efficient" (4, Informative)

Cordath (581672) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110692)

A direct transfer orbit (which is nowhere near a straight line) to Mars is the fastest way to reach Mars, but it's also one of the least fuel efficient ways. For this reason, large payloads such as the orbiter, rover, etc. have been sent to Mars via gravity assisted transfer orbits instead. These usually involve multiple trips around the sun and a couple close passes with other planetary bodies. If the payload goes past a planet or moon at just the right angle it will sling-shot around, effectively stealing momentum from the body. (don't worry, planets have plenty to spare) Go watch Star Trek IV to get the hollywood version. Gravity assisted transfer orbits are more difficult to plot, far far slower, and overall just a PITA, but there isn't any other option at the moment. Even if we had the money to spare nobody makes rockets big enough to send large payloads to Mars "directly".

Unfortunately, sending humans to Mars via gravity assited transfer orbits is not as easy. It's a much longer trip, so unless we sort out that suspended animation gig soon they would need much more food, supplies, etc.. That means more mass and more fuel, so a direct transfer orbit starts to look more economical for human travellers. As an added bonus, they don't spend several years in deep space, probably much closer to the Sun for much of their journey facing who knows what kind of added health risks. Given that there's little chance we'll ever build a rocket big enough to blast off directly for mars,we'll have to assemble the ship that goes to mars in orbit or on the moon. The moon's low-gravity environment may well prove to be an easier and safer environment for assembling an interplanetary space vessel. The moon is only about 1.2% as massive as the Earth so it's not that much of a "detour".

Re:In space "direct" != "efficient" (1)

yoprst (944706) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110888)

I've never heard about reaching Mars via gravity assist. I've just checked up - no sites about rovers mention it. Missions to outer planets constantly use gravity assisted manoeuvres, but Mars is just too close to bother. You just wait till Mars gets close and launch directly during launch window, that's all. Besides, how do you do that? The only celestial body that's closer that Mars is Venus, and it's in the opposit direction (closer to Sun), hardly a good choice. Moon orbits Sun along with Earth, so I don't think you'll add a lot of speed flying close to it.

Re:In space "direct" != "efficient" (2, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111242)

A direct transfer orbit (which is nowhere near a straight line) to Mars is the fastest way to reach Mars, but it's also one of the least fuel efficient ways. For this reason, large payloads such as the orbiter, rover, etc. have been sent to Mars via gravity assisted transfer orbits instead. These usually involve multiple trips around the sun and a couple close passes with other planetary bodies.

Not true at all - every US Mars mission to date with the exception of Mariner 10 has been a direct launch. (What few gravity assist missions the US has flown have been mostly because the mission budget couldn't be stretched to cover the cost of a larger booster.)
 
 
Even if we had the money to spare nobody makes rockets big enough to send large payloads to Mars "directly".

Nobody in their right mind would launch a 'large' (presumably manned) Mars payload directly - it would be assembled in and launched from Earth orbit.
 
 
Given that there's little chance we'll ever build a rocket big enough to blast off directly for mars,we'll have to assemble the ship that goes to mars in orbit or on the moon. The moon's low-gravity environment may well prove to be an easier and safer environment for assembling an interplanetary space vessel.

No, it would be much harder and much more dangerous. (As well as *much* more expensive.) A launcher than can put 100 tons of Mars bound components into LEO can only put 12 or so tons of the same into Lunar orbit or 5 tons onto the lunar surface - which means many more launches, both of components and of support for the assembly crew. Worse yet - you waste a great deal of mass and fuel on your Mars craft because assembling it on the surface means it has to be strong enough to withstand being assembled and launched from the surface rather than the far more benign assembly and launch enviroment of orbit. (This alone will boost the number of launches by 20-30% *over and above* the already vastly increased number required by moving it to the Moon in the first place.)
 
And that's just the problems caused by the weight issue - the problems caused by the lunar surface thermal enviroment, potential dust contamination, etc... etc... make the issue even worse.

Re:less energy to go direct? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110806)

Wouldn't it take a LOT less energy and time to go directly to mars, rather than stopping off at the moon and having to escape the gravity well of *two* planetary bodies before going to Mars?

Nobody is going to Mars unless future natives of the Moon decide to expand their empire. Any talk of Mars in the context of this proposal is marketing only.

Re:less energy to go direct? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110878)

The moon would indeed make a terrible staging point for a Mars launch, and NASA knows it. They wouldn't even try it. However, if you think back to the Apollo days, NASA did a bunch of incremental shots. First they orbited the Moon, then they tested the lunar module, then they landed. The moon is a good place to do incremental testing of the systems that they'll use on Mars (despite the environmental differences). The habitat needs testing. The lander needs testing. The rover needs testing. The spacesuits need testing. There are lots of systems that need testing in harsh environments.

Besides, NASA will get a lot of publicity (and therefore a lot of money) by re-establishing mankind's presence on the Moon.

obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17110462)

That's no moon!!! That's ...

Oh wait, it is.

on the moon's pole (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17110472)

Is it safe to build a house on ONE POLE??

Re:on the moon's pole (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17111038)

Is it safe to build a house on ONE POLE??

Not really, but it is probably safer than buiding a house on one Russian.

Re:on the moon's pole (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17111406)

GO TO YOUR ROOM!

Seen it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17110518)

This is just Man on the Moon part 2, now with 2 more golfers. I'd dig it realword style however.

Keyword: unveils (4, Funny)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110522)

Pay attention now...this is really pretty simple, but we don't want any slip-ups!
  • Book backlot at Universal Studios. Same one as last time, since some of the original moonscape props are still there - minimum, oh, say 90 days out to do it.
  • Schedule several hundred yards of dry beach sand and 1/4" cobble for delivery weeks 1 thru 3.
  • Inform all staff that primary shooting will be done after sundown.
  • Find those guys that pulled this stunt off last time!

Everybody understand? Good, now go! It's Oscar time!!!

Give it up (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17110582)

Hillary will cancel all space programs when she gets elected. The Chinese won't go to the Moon for all their bluster, the Russian have no cash and the Euros are only interested in commercial satellites.

You won't see another Moon landing.

You won't see any Mars landing.

Your hopes and dreams are dead.

Deal with it.

Re:Give it up (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111368)

>> Hillary will cancel all space programs when she gets elected.

Look at the bright side, at least hell would have frozen over, pigs would be flying, and MONKEYS WOULD BE FLYING OUT OF MY ASS.

Analysis of launch architecture; critiques (5, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110610)

Coincidentally, a pretty good article analyzing the planned launch architecture was published yesterday. Here's the link [thespacereview.com] .

Additionally, aerospace engineer Jonathan Goff over at Selenian Boondocks has a post titled Lunar Much Sooner (and Better) [blogspot.com] which discusses a number of alternatives to NASA's current plan.

Finally, Selenian Boondocks also has another post [blogspot.com] about some things revealed by one of the architects of NASA's plans, suggesting that several of the design constraints imposed on the architecture may be somewhat dubious, (arguably) making the whole project much more expensive and unsustainable.

Let's hope it works (2, Interesting)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110614)

I actually finished a presentation today with Johnson Space Center (JSC) about resupplying a Moon Base for a university class today, and I'm planning on going and helping run a booth at the SEC conference (where I assume this plan was announced) tomorrow. Needless to say I'm very excited about these plans and am very much a space exploration advocate. Look at my previous posts and I think that will show it.

NASA at times does a great job of innovation and exploration. Anything unmanned, JPL and Ames do a great job with. Not to deride anyone at JPL, but its very hard to not be a little cyncical about this. I am very afraid of what the next administration may bring, whether it's Democrat or Republican, and am afraid that whoever is next may help put the axe on Bush's best initiative (though its been a bit bastardized lately.)

Here's hoping we get a moon base like the antarctic base, and can move on to Mars (although I don't believe that the one is necessarily dependent on the other.)

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17110616)

Are we out of green cheese already?

Money ? (1)

Rastignac (1014569) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110644)

It will cost a lot to build and run a moonbase. I hope NASA won't go with bad ideas. I heard about silly ideas like ads on the moon (ie: a giant KFC logo on the moon, etc). Where will we find the money ?

Never gonna happen (2, Insightful)

jimhill (7277) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110652)

Just look at the steaming pile of crap that is the ISS and there's your Moon Base Alpha right there. Grandiose dreams and visions reduced to a paltry 3-man crew that spends most of its time trying to stay alive. Rah farkin' rah.

Put down your Heinleins and spend a little time trying to make the planet we will all live and die on a better place.

Re:Never gonna happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17110762)

Put down your Heinleins and spend a little time trying to make the planet we will all live and die on a better place.


Ooo! Ooo! Can we sing Kumbaya, too?

Re:Never gonna happen (5, Insightful)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110770)

I'd say this is the exact problem with the space program. Yes, the ISS is a steaming pile of crap. Spending our the to make the planet we will all live and die on a better place is a noble goal, however, its not the only goal. I think we already have a large number of people concentrating on that. That is I know people involved in Amnesty International, developing new hybrid vehicle systems, Engineers Without Borders, and the best of organized religion (mission trips concentrated on helping people as opposed to simple evangelism). I hear of even more here on slashdot, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the One Laptop Per Child Project, and the endless watch for Big Brother-ism and the tyranny of monopoly. I personally do some work with regards to the improvement of the educational system within the US, which is one of my main personal cause du jours. However, I think with all this effort spent to improve our earthly existence, theres a little room to get us off this planet and help to provide some relief that way. Obviously it won't have immediate effect. The early colonist's to America didn't immediately stem Europe's problems even directly related to population growth, however in the end its impossible to deny its effects. And with space we dont have the genocidal side effects that are such a stain on that period in history. The future of humanity (in my own very humble opinion) depends on us establishing offworld settlements, and whether thats in the next 20 years, the next 200, or the next 2000, I plan on doing my damndest to push us forward, and supporting others who do, because some people need to do it. And there's nothing wrong with a small portion of the national budget going that way too (and it is a small portion, look it up.) Find your own way to save the world, improve it, or keep it going. All of those things are vital.

Re:Never gonna happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17110804)

Those were my exact thoughts when I read this. We simply aren't ready to go to Mars yet. We can't even take care of our own people or planet, much less build a useful space station. How the blazes are we gonna manage to build a useful Moon base???

Re:Never gonna happen (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111074)

Just look at the steaming pile of crap that is the ISS and there's your Moon Base Alpha right there. Grandiose dreams and visions reduced to a paltry 3-man crew that spends most of its time trying to stay alive. Rah farkin' rah.

Welcome to the real world of exploration. Its not grandiose, and its not inspiring - its hard and boring. Every schoolkid learns about the Brave and Bold voyages of exploration - but they never learn about the tens and hundreds of voyages that followed that did the real work of exploration. Between that and Star Trek, they end up with a view of exploration that's not so much wrong as it is utterly disconnected from reality.

Re:Never gonna happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17111374)

Put down your Heinleins and spend a little time trying to make the planet we will all live and die on a better place.

Slitting your throat and feeding your dismembered corpse to pigs would be a good start.

Lets hope they are in it for the long term... (1)

tcdk (173945) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110660)

I really hope that this is for the long term. And by "they" i mean the politicians.

While the JFK speech [nasa.gov] that kicked of the first trips to the moons has its inspiring places ("We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win..."), I'm having a hard time imagining anybody planning anything beyond the next election.

Could we tie this into the War on Terror in someway?

Re:Lets hope they are in it for the long term... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17111030)

YES! I've heard that there are WMD on Mars! Let's go after them!

Not another Pickup Truck (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110680)

I hope their lunar lander "pickup truck" turns out to be much less of a design compromise than their space "pickup truck".

Actually, I quite liked the design of the Eagle [monstersinmotion.com] . Too bad it's fictional. It meets most, if not all of Nasa's requirements. It can be manned, or operated via remote control. (I don't recall if it was capable of fully autonomous operation.) It can move cargo, and personnel. It's very modular, which should make it cheaper to build.

Ok, I'm depressed now. (1)

dousk (829088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110700)

2024? I'm 27, which means if they really manage to build a base by then (which is already doubtful by itself considering the space program's de-evolution), I'll probably never get to see man walk on Mars. In fact, my yet to be spawnlings (aka children), are probably not going to either. Oh well. Anyone want some apple juice ?

What is there to be had? (2, Insightful)

soccerisgod (585710) | more than 7 years ago | (#17110910)

A quote from the Stargate episode "The Nox":
They said the same thing about the Apollo Program. That brought back some moon rocks. You may have noticed we haven't been back to the moon in 20 years.

Now we might all agree that space exploration is exceedingly exciting. But why on Earth (no pun intended) would we want to go to the moon? There's nothing there but sharp and spikey moondust. Now, missions like Hubble I understand and support. Those make sense as they get us a much better insight into what is out there and how it might have come to be. But manned missions to nowhere just to prove "we can do it"? It seems to me this kind of mission is designed purely for the publicity value. For the general public, stunts like these are much more interesting than some probes sent to other planets that actually provide us with new and possibly new information.

And don't even get me started on the "we have to spread out humanity to other planets" argument. I'd rather die out as a species than to have to live on Mars, I tell you that.

Re:What is there to be had? (1)

LuxMaker (996734) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111356)

A few things off of the top of my head: 1.) He-3 mining for use in fusion drives for propulsion and other energy needs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium_3 [wikipedia.org] 2.) Better technology developed to provide a habital ecosystem. 3.) H2 and O2 production on the moon to considerably lower the cost for a trip to Mars. 4.) Aluminum and Magnesium mining for use in making super strong alloys useful in the fabrication of spacecraft. (A low gravity enviroment helps facilitate the bonding of two positively charged ions reducing costs further.) 4.) Possible useful technology developed by accident.

Cost for war $350 billion USD (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17111046)

With $350 billion dollars wasted on destroying and killing other people on Earth, what's a few ten billion more for researching the Moon? The US defence budget just surpassed the combined military budgets for the rest of the planet put together. Imagine what all that money would accomplish if it were put to constructive science instead of destruction and killing others.

Going to mars a good idea? (1)

PermanentMarker (916408) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111056)

I'm just wondering :
is going to mars commercialy intresting?
is going to the moon commercialy intresting?

Going to the moon might be something dough not for you and I, it would be intresting for mining industries for rare metal harvesting. The best thing to build on the moon would then next be a robot assembly line, to futher rebuild the moon into a underground moonbase, using much of the same mining holes. In this way we can get something back from the moon. and later colonize it (perhaps). That's economicly and could be a rather more stable futher plan.

Going to mars well ehm to be seriously it only costs a hell of lot of money, and in the end it might just only be a news item on jerry springer. Sorry to say its not economical to do. The same amount of money could be used for other things. For example science satelites, or scholing of scientist. Mars is just far away a round trip costs lots of time and what do we want to find there? Why walk there? If we want intresting science then think of sending science robots to the satelites of jupiter, much more intresting too in terms of search for life. Overall the search of life shouldn't drive a project to go to mars. If we have colonized the moon like sketched above. Then maybe i say maybe it will then later become economicaly intresting to go futher.

Altough it's more likely to go in to commet mining all together if you think about it.

*__*

Not a shred of evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17111068)

suggests that GNU/Linux was ported to the moon in 1858. A shredded punchcard found in Cleveland in 1984 does, however, support the observation that Torvalds, Nearvalds, and Nearly-Balds collaborated fourscore and seven thousand millenia ago to discombobulate the galaxy of Fortran 5.

Astroids (2, Insightful)

Ignatius (6850) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111146)

Forgetting one moment about the ridiculous time schedule (17 years with current technology after Apollo took less than 10 years after starting virtually from scratch half a century ago is simply embarrassing), the question remains what to do up there besides scientific explorations. The Moon is basically a pile of worthless dirt: Light crust material with all the volatiles gassed out.

Going after astroids is both cheaper (in terms of delta-v) and more interesting economically: You have anything from volatile rich comets to core material iron/nickel balls in all different sizes and at delta-vs as low as several hundred m/s from HEO (as compared to 2 x 1.4 km/s for the moon). Also, a zero gravity enviroment has many advantages for processing, requires less structural support (e.g. for solar pannels and mirrors) and makes it easy to move heavy stuff around.

After all, if you're serious about developing a permanent space presence, you will need some sort of space industry which is easier to bootstrap from astroids than on the moon.

2024?? (2, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111168)

Whatever happened to "before this decade is out"? Why the hell could we go to the moon almost from scratch in the 1960's and do we need almost 20 years now?

Re:2024?? (2, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#17111304)

Whatever happened to "before this decade is out"? Why the hell could we go to the moon almost from scratch in the 1960's and do we need almost 20 years now?

We didn't go to the moon from scratch in the 1960's. By the time Kennedy made his announcement considerable work was already in progress (and had been for some years) on various things that could be repurposed to going to the moon. (Most importantly the F-1 engine and Apollo capsule.) Additionally, NASA of that era had essentially a blank check (the Apollo program consumed on average 1% of the GNP by itself over the period 1963-69), where the NASA of today has live on a much tighter budget - with very little of the precursor work done.

not gonna happen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17111346)

Whenever a politician announces a plan to do something, it's always 4 years away and their term in office is maybe two years left.
When they say "by a certain date", they might as well say "bye to the plan."
Why don't they just say? "we are going to this and we are starting now."
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