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Will China Beat the United States Back to the Moon?

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the they'll-make-the-trip-from-the-earth-to-the-moon dept.

Space 482

MarkWhittington writes "During an address on the space economy to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the start of the space age, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin made the assertion that China would beat the United States back to the Moon. 'Americans will not like it, but they will just have to not like it. I think we will see, as we have seen with China's introductory manned space flights so far, we will see again that nations look up to other nations that appear to be at the top of the technical pyramid, and they want to do deals with those nations. It's one of the things that made us the world's greatest economic power. So I think we'll be reinstructed in that lesson in the coming years and I hope that Americans will take that instruction positively and react to it by investing in those things that are the leading edge of what's possible."'"

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Moonbase Alpha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20713577)

pMoonbase alpha didn't have any Asians did it?

Re:Moonbase Alpha (2, Informative)

JohnBailey (1092697) | about 7 years ago | (#20713865)

Apart from Yasuko Nagazumi you mean..

Long shot... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20713579)

Get to the moon? They can't even make toys!

There's one major difference... (5, Funny)

Locklin (1074657) | about 7 years ago | (#20713677)

In space, lead PROTECTS you!

Re:There's one major difference... (2, Interesting)

sherms (15634) | about 7 years ago | (#20714023)

I hate to say this, but the real logical answer is "Who cares!"

Great if they or the US does.

Hopefully some other new technology will come out of it again.

Just Share it! like Open Source.

BACK to the moon? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20713591)

But I thought we just shot that first landing in a studio!

Damn conspiracy theorists.

Re:BACK to the moon? (0)

e.colli (630500) | about 7 years ago | (#20713727)

Of course! They first objective is to take advantage of low gravity to do better karate movies.

Re:BACK to the moon? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20713981)

Gee... I wonder when AFRICA and its 'Just like us' niggers will ever get to the moon?
How about making a chip fab plant?
An aeroplane?
A car?
A bicycle?
Anything?

Oh, I forget... the only things blacks are good at is killing each other, and their local wildlife...

The Congolese savages are right now finishing off the last 700 GORILLAS ON EARTH. For no reason, other than that the Congolese are fucked up, neurotic, child abusing, hate-filled savages, which the Earth would surely be infinitely better off WITHOUT than it would be without the innocent gorillas.

But just keep telling us, Jews, "We're all the same, and you MUST allow millions of third world blacks and Mestizo scum to live next door to you, and to get special preferences in everything - jobs, schooling, prison sentences, etc.etc. Free food for the invaders, while the remaining whites have to work our butts off to pay taxes to support these dysgenic parasites.

Can any liberal asshole show me which part of this is untrue?

Re:BACK to the moon? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20714053)

probably about the same time as the arabs do.

They SHOULD... (4, Funny)

TomatoMan (93630) | about 7 years ago | (#20713595)

...they've got all our money.

Re:They SHOULD... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20713681)

actually the US has all of theirs.
Huge loans paid to the US etc...

Re:They SHOULD... (5, Informative)

wilstrup (726073) | about 7 years ago | (#20713705)

Actually Americans have all their money. The US has been running a huge trade deficit for years, and it's all been financed through loans from other countries. China is one of the leading providers of capital on the international market, due to their enormous trade surplus.

Re:They SHOULD... (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 7 years ago | (#20713925)

Another way of looking at it is that China owns an enormous chunk of America.

Frankly, I don't really care. As long as they don't kill us or enslave us when they take over.

Re:They SHOULD... (2, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | about 7 years ago | (#20714101)

They own a huge chunk of US gov't debt. Which the gov't can repudiate at any time, or (as is the current case) pay off with inflated dollar bills.

Does it really matter? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20713605)

Cold War ended twenty years ago did it not?

Re:Does it really matter? (1, Interesting)

Tango42 (662363) | about 7 years ago | (#20713641)

It's the War on Terror now - keep up! God knows how a moonbase helps fight terrorists, but then how did Apollo help fight communism? It's just meant to sound good.

(Yes, I know China is not a terrorist organisation, but it's close enough for the US government to use it as an excuse when convenient - just look at Iraq.)

Re:Does it really matter? (0, Offtopic)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | about 7 years ago | (#20713793)

Yes, I know China is not a terrorist organisation, but it's close enough for the US government to use it as an excuse when convenient

Could have fooled me -- they TERRORIZE their own citizens. Step out of line and you might end up in a laogai (corrective labor camp), in prison, or even with a bullet to the head. If you think the War on Terror is bad, look at China.

-b.

Re:Does it really matter? (3, Insightful)

Tango42 (662363) | about 7 years ago | (#20713817)

Yes, but the standard definition of "terrorist" isn't "one who terrorises". What China does is called "human rights violations", not "terrorism". The key difference is that China is a sovereign state - doesn't make much difference to the people being abused, but it makes a difference to how you deal with it.

Re:Does it really matter? (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | about 7 years ago | (#20713853)

Yes, but the standard definition of "terrorist" isn't "one who terrorises". What China does is called "human rights violations", not "terrorism".

It's state terrorism, and if anything is WORSE than terrorism since they aren't killing outside enemies (or people perceived as such). They're killing and maiming their OWN people, whom they should be helping and protecting.

Hopefully the people at the top will be held accountable eventually.

-b.

Re:Does it really matter? (0, Offtopic)

Seumas (6865) | about 7 years ago | (#20713965)

Either way, I'm tired of supporting (through building walmarts, sending them our jobs, etc) a country that employes what is essentially slave labor to achieve such cheap prices. It's funny when people say "you have to compete on a global playing field,a s an employee". How in the hell does one compete with forced labor and massive human rights violations? How dare I not want to work in a place where the fire doors are chained shut and I'm forced to sleep on the floor under my desk! What a spoiled fucking american pig!

Re:Does it really matter? (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 7 years ago | (#20714065)

Yes, I know China is not a terrorist organisation, but it's close enough for the US government to use it as an excuse when convenient Could have fooled me -- they TERRORIZE their own citizens. Step out of line and you might end up in a laogai (corrective labor camp), in prison, or even with a bullet to the head. If you think the War on Terror is bad, look at China.

You mean, they have community service, and jails, and executions?

Re:Does it really matter? (0, Offtopic)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | about 7 years ago | (#20714097)

You mean, they have community service, and jails, and executions?

The US hasn't had an execution for a crime that wasn't murder since the late 1950s. China has many more capital offenses and the laws are applied often. "Laogai" or "GULAG" isn't equal to the community service given in Western countries. Perhaps the closest thing would be an old-school chaingang but with even worse food and living conditions.

-b.

Re:Does it really matter? (0, Offtopic)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 7 years ago | (#20714139)

Ahh. I guess that makes it all different then. Bloody monsters, those Chinese are, eh? Man, we should send em all to a Triple-Guantanamo. That would learn em.

Did it? (1)

kad77 (805601) | about 7 years ago | (#20713679)

There is always world race for food, resources, and wealth. There always will be. That type of life/death competition is a 'cold war', is it not?

Re:Does it really matter? (4, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | about 7 years ago | (#20713909)

And now it's with China.

China has shown a great deal of ill-will toward other nations, including America, as well as China's own people. Despite this, we happily build KFCs and Walmart's in their country and contract work and outsource jobs to them for pennies on the dollar. They are coming into their own in the global capitalist market, but without the included democracy of most other nations. This gives them the added benefit of have mass amounts of money and a lot of nimbleness. They don't have to deal with the red tape we do when they want to shift directions or enforce changes to industry.

We blew our wad last century. Our infrastructures are built and in place and done with. China is just now getting started and will have the benefit of building theirs with a new economy and the technology of the 21st century, instead of the 20th. In our lifetime, they'll probably become the real super-power; trumping the US.

Richard the Rocket Engine (4, Funny)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | about 7 years ago | (#20713607)

You have to admit, red spaceships are going to be pretty cool.

Re:Richard the Rocket Engine (1)

Sen.NullProcPntr (855073) | about 7 years ago | (#20713961)

You have to admit, red spaceships are going to be pretty cool.
Like this one [reddwarf.co.uk] ?-)

Private space flight (4, Interesting)

Tango42 (662363) | about 7 years ago | (#20713609)

The thing I'm more interested in is the chance of a private company putting the next person on the Moon. At this point, the only feasible industry is space tourism - there are no fusion reactors for the He-3, after all - but that might be enough. Virgin Galactic are expecting to be doing regular sub-orbital flights within a year or two, soon after that, they or someone else will start of orbital flights. That could be done in 5-10 years, quite easily. Getting from LEO to the Moon is easy compared to getting from the ground to LEO, so I would expect more than a few years for that.

If a private company tries, they could get to the Moon in 10-15 years, by my estimate, which could easily beat the various government projects (even assuming they stay on schedule, which we all know won't happen). The big question is whether or not any company will see the point in trying. I hope they do...

Re:Private space flight (1)

renoX (11677) | about 7 years ago | (#20713751)

>The big question is whether or not any company will see the point in trying. I hope they do...

Well, I wouldn't invest in such company: a huge amount of money to spend without any solid plan to earn money from the trip..

Re:Private space flight (1)

Tango42 (662363) | about 7 years ago | (#20713779)

Has anyone done any real market research on how much people would be willing to spend on a holiday to the Moon?

Re:Private space flight (2, Funny)

Seumas (6865) | about 7 years ago | (#20714037)

Since Branson and Virgin have spent millions of dollars to invest in their planned orbital trips and space hotels (in the very near future), I would presume they have done a great deal of such market research. Personally, I would not take such a space trip, because - like evolution - gravity is "only a theory". I wouldn't want to be up there in my space hotel and have it plummet back down to the earth! Not to mention, since the earth is flat, I would be worried we'd miss the edge of it on our return and be lost forever!

Re:Private space flight (1)

Baldrson (78598) | about 7 years ago | (#20713757)

See my response [slashdot.org] .

That's alright (4, Interesting)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | about 7 years ago | (#20713615)

We can still claim a victory, even if our government gets beaten getting back to the moon. All we have to do is be the first nation with a private space industry to land on the moon, that's way cooler than having a government land there. We may need a 'permit to land on the moon,' but can you imagine what sort of permits a private company in China would need to land on the moon?

Re:That's alright (1)

pizpot (622748) | about 7 years ago | (#20713667)

just fire up an appolo and giver gas. seems like r & d was done on this. was it bullshit or something?

Re:That's alright (1)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | about 7 years ago | (#20713959)

(Note: The following post was written without reguards to whether the parent was serious or not.)

I wish it was that easy, but a lot that stuff isn't exactly in tip top launch shape. Launch veichles aren't exactly like a 50's era car you can just fire up in the 2000's (and, like any Slashdot car analogy, it's also an incredible simplification of the car mechanics.) Plus we gotta remember that this was quite a while ago, a lot of the people who worked on getting us there are retired or even gone. There's a lot of stuff we have to redevelop and relearn. But that's what happens when you don't keep up with something; America's gotta get it's lunar legs back.

Re:That's alright (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | about 7 years ago | (#20714137)

The US effectively turned its back on manned lander missions decades ago. Mind you, its hard to argue that they haven't done rather well in the meantime.

Until relatively recently there wasn't much reason to go back to the moon with people, we have decent robots, they could be used to great effect. Now we know for sure there's water there we have the incentive, and China have made the first move. there's no certainty they will succeed. They may have the unfortunate distintion of having the first humans die there, that's not a distinction I'd be willing to bestow on any human.

Anyway, the moon is a shit location for a base. There's no atmosphere, therefore no protection from solar radiation or meteors (can they be called that on the moon?). It seems to me the only safe location on the moon is very deep underground, and that's far beyond the current technology of any nation. Reading university England have been working on a way to have robots build shelters for humans on another planet for years, its a mind numbingly hard thing to achieve, and that's just surface buildings. Its not like you can just send a load of construction workers there or anything.

What concerns me more is that the US are only talking about manned mars missions because of what china are doing. How much longevity do you think a mars mission series will have if its only done to beat another nation? That's not progress, its retaliation by science, and will ensure that science is only encouraged by the US government so long as it selves political goals.

That's no way to make real progress.

Re:That's alright (1)

k8to (9046) | about 7 years ago | (#20713989)

I have heard tell that we are not currently capable of manufacturing apollo rockets. I haven't investigated.

Re:That's alright (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20713829)

We may need a 'permit to land on the moon,' but can you imagine what sort of permits a private company in China would need to land on the moon?
Given china's recent quality history, a permit would be the least of the worries if you are landing on the moon in a rocket built by a private chinese company...

Re:That's alright (1)

Watson Ladd (955755) | about 7 years ago | (#20714157)

A million dollars in unmarked bills?

Would not be bad if it comes to pass. (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 7 years ago | (#20713627)

I don't know if China would really beat us in the back to the moon race, but if it does, it would have a very positive impact on America. After the end of cold war, America has become somewhat lethargic. If this serves to unify behind some kind of scientific goal, it would really be great.

Re:Would not be bad if it comes to pass. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20713765)

The bigger tragedy would be if the U.S. ABANDONS moon landing projects and exploration once China beats them back to the moon -- i.e., just like the Soviet Union dropped their program.

Re:Would not be bad if it comes to pass. (1)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | about 7 years ago | (#20713831)

If this serves to unify behind some kind of scientific goal, it would really be great.
Agree, but it remains to be seen if that is what is going to happen. The current outlook for 2020+ isn't all that positive for west-east relations.

Honestly I hope they do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20713629)

Nothing sparks a comeback like someone else beating America to the punch. America is a prideful nation, don't deny it cause it's true, and as such it will not let any country let alone a '3rd world nation' (China technically is, but only when you hit the outskirts) beat them at their own game.

Sure they'll make it their, find out stuff, we've been there, maybe find a few new goodies while they are up there, and America will seethe with anger and hollar for the gubbament to do something as we can't let them 3rd worlders have our MOON!

So here's all they have to do... (3, Interesting)

sweet_petunias_full_ (1091547) | about 7 years ago | (#20713741)

All they have to do is go up to the moon and remove the original Apollo lander, the flag, etc., then claim they found nothing there.

Then if they tell their own people they were the first ones on the moon, who could prove otherwise?

Re:So here's all they have to do... (1)

andyn (689342) | about 7 years ago | (#20713883)

All they have to do is go up to the moon and remove the original Apollo lander, the flag, etc., then claim they found nothing there.

How are they going to remove all the footprints without making it look like a complete forgery?

Re:So here's all they have to do... (2, Insightful)

MiniMike (234881) | about 7 years ago | (#20714033)

Land on them.

The US is like the Microsoft of the world (3, Insightful)

mind21_98 (18647) | about 7 years ago | (#20713631)

Mostly only innovating when they're threatened... (see: US manned space program after the Soviets sent someone into Earth orbit)

...and bullying everyone else in the meantime.

Re:The US is like the Microsoft of the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20713857)

Microsoft have never been innovative. When threatened they buy companies which have been innovative and then rebrand their product. Perhaps the US should invest in Chinese technology programs and then pretend they're actually American technology programs...

Clinton sold them the missle technology (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20713637)

Billy-bob sold the Chinese plenty of our hard won missile technology. Now his life partner is taking millions in Chinese cash in her bid for POTUS. Maybe she will help leak Intel's secrets for her personal gain.

Democrat scum. Well, that is kind of redundant.

Re:Clinton sold them the missle technology (1)

Tango42 (662363) | about 7 years ago | (#20713659)

Isn't specifying a political party at all redundant?

Re:Clinton sold them the missle technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20713755)

Billy-bob sold the Chinese plenty of our hard won missile technology. Now his life partner is taking millions in Chinese cash in her bid for POTUS.

Did she take the money as a donation or as a GOP-style illegal kickback in return for specific favors? You'd think that would matter. It seems she is getting hell for failing to carry out due diligence on a donor which is rather ridiculous.

Democrat scum. Well, that is kind of redundant.

Your brown shirt has shit on it.

Re:Clinton sold them the missle technology (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 7 years ago | (#20713837)

Billy-bob sold the Chinese plenty of our hard won missile technology.

That's a lie! He didn't sell it to them, he gave it to them.

Instead... (1)

pigiron (104729) | about 7 years ago | (#20713645)

I'd rather see inexpensive skateboard trucks with decent axles than another U.S. moon mission.

Who Cares? (5, Insightful)

moehoward (668736) | about 7 years ago | (#20713661)


We got first post! I mean on the moon, not Slashdot.

We went there and there was nothing there. Just pride and Cold War points. Me? Loved it. Still recall watching the launches and Apollo 13 as a youngster. I was so into it as a 6-10 year-old. Definitely made a huge impact on the direction of my life.

While we Slashdotters often mock "If they can put a man on the moon...", there really is something to that. Look at the technology at that time. Look at the mission and the time frame. Amazing stuff. The politicians (mostly) kept their noses out. Even more amazing...

I don't want us to go back on tax bucks. I don't want another stupid political race, this time with China. I want the private sector to make money in space. We went there for the glory, let's go back for cash. I honestly mean it. If there is a return to be made, let's have the private sector do it, and let's give incentives for that.

Re:Who Cares? (1)

Tango42 (662363) | about 7 years ago | (#20713687)

It was a politician that told NASA to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. That's as much as any politician sticks their nose in. The difference is in actually giving the funds necessary to do the job.

Re:Who Cares? (2, Interesting)

p0tat03 (985078) | about 7 years ago | (#20713939)

We got far more from the moon landings than just bragging rights. The government funded research created much of the tehnological economy we enjoy today. I would support a new space race for this very reason. It's been too long since the US invested heavily in basic research.

No because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20713663)

China has not been to the Moon even once yet, they cannot return until they have.

The USA has been to the Moon and returned to the Moon an additional 5 times after that, so they've ALREADY returned, most recently in 1972.

Re:No because... (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | about 7 years ago | (#20713885)

China has not been to the Moon even once yet, they cannot return until they have.

I assume the OP is talking about humans returning to the moon.

-b.

On the other hand... (1)

Jaxoreth (208176) | about 7 years ago | (#20713671)

...we beat China to Iraq. We have to stay focused on what's important, you know.

Who's the daddy? (2, Interesting)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 7 years ago | (#20713675)

"In a carefully stage-managed meeting in Beijing with a senior Chinese official, which, unusually, was open to the media, Thomas Debrowski, Mattel's executive vice-president for worldwide operations, read out a prepared text that played down the role of Chinese factories in the recalls."

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/99b42156-683a-11dc-b475-0000779fd2ac,dwp_uuid=9c33700c-4c86-11da-89df-0000779e2340,Authorised=false.html?_i_location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ft.com%2Fcms%2Fs%2F99b42156-683a-11dc-b475-0000779fd2ac%2Cdwp_uuid%3D9c33700c-4c86-11da-89df-0000779e2340.html [ft.com]

So... Who needs who more?

Yeah, China will be on the moon before the USA.
 

What a load of crap (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20713699)

What, is the moon race a "do over"?

We go there in 1969, period, dot.

China beating us back is a false challenge. It would be like if the Soviet Union had landed a man on the moon in September of 1969 and claimed it "beat us back" to the moon because they got there before Apollo 12.

*back* to the moon? (2, Interesting)

pedantic bore (740196) | about 7 years ago | (#20713701)

By my calculation, by the time the Chinese make it to the moon for the first time, we'll have already been back to the moon five times. Been there, done that, brought back rocks.

Of course, it's a question who will be the first to get back the sixth time.

Re:*back* to the moon? (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 7 years ago | (#20714063)

By your calculation? How so? It has been almost 40 years and we still haven't gone back.

Re:*back* to the moon? (2, Informative)

pedantic bore (740196) | about 7 years ago | (#20714111)

We went there first in the Apollo 11 mission.

Then we went back on Apollo missions 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17. We would have been back for Apollo 13 also, but there were equipment problems that were not detected until after launch.

I calculate we've been back five times. You might have a different way of calculating.

NASA Budget is 2800 Google Lunar X-Prizes (2, Insightful)

Baldrson (78598) | about 7 years ago | (#20713715)

NASA's budget for 2007 was $16.8 billion. The Google Lunar X-Prize is $0.030 billion with a duration of 5 years. Assuming NASA budget remains approximately the same that means NASA's budget could renewably fund the equivalent of 2800 Google Lunar X-Prizes.

Re:NASA Budget is 2800 Google Lunar X-Prizes (1)

Tango42 (662363) | about 7 years ago | (#20713801)

True, but the X-Prize isn't intended to *fund* anything, it's just a reward if you succeed. And about $16.7 billion of NASA's budget goes on moving paper around - that doesn't help.

Riddle me this... (2, Insightful)

Baldrson (78598) | about 7 years ago | (#20713841)

Who is going to be better at risk management inherent in technology development: Someone who is spending their own money or someone who is spending other people's money?

Re:Riddle me this... (1)

Tango42 (662363) | about 7 years ago | (#20713891)

Depends on your definition of "better". Someone spending their own money will be more cautious, that's not necessarily better, though.

Re:NASA Budget is 2800 Google Lunar X-Prizes (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | about 7 years ago | (#20713917)

most of NASA's budget goes to the Stargate program.

Re:NASA Budget is 2800 Google Lunar X-Prizes (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 7 years ago | (#20714003)

To put the $30m prize in perspective, launching the shuttle costs around $450m, and launching a Saturn V cost around $430m in 1967. The prize is likely to be less than 10% of the launch cost. Unlike the suborbital X-Prize, there is no real prospect of commercial exploitation either.

Big Deal (5, Insightful)

skam240 (789197) | about 7 years ago | (#20713723)

The question we all need to ask is why do we even need to go back? We're not building moon bases anytime in the near future and extracting resources is way to expensive for the foreseeable future.

Some one please tell me what possible reason we would have for even wanting to waste billions of dollars on another trip to the moon for. It's a big floating rock.

Re:Big Deal (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | about 7 years ago | (#20713947)

Morale and propaganda.

Not everything has a huge main objective behind it, but if you can say something impressive like "we went to the moon last week" you can get your name out there and get more funding and resources. People feel they are doing something now and not grinding away at an objective decades away.

Sure it's expensive, but think how much power it wields when you can go "we need ten billion for a new spoon.. yes a space spoon", it will go over better if you're going into Space and not just planning for ten years time.

Re:Big Deal (1)

skam240 (789197) | about 7 years ago | (#20714019)

My point is I don't think anyone would care about another trip to the moon. We did it over half a century ago, multiple times. I can see more impressive space flight at the theater nowadays.

Re:Big Deal (1)

legirons (809082) | about 7 years ago | (#20713967)

"The question we all need to ask is why do we even need to go back?"

To prove that you can?

Are you an engineering nation, or a flop?

Will you get the high-tech contracts, or the easy ones?

Re:Big Deal (1)

skam240 (789197) | about 7 years ago | (#20714001)

So China is going to be able to do what we did over a half century ago, who cares? If you want us to do something inspirational then we should go to Mars. Moon trips aren't going to interest anyone. They're old hat. At least we might learn something new on a trip to Mars.

Re:Big Deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20713969)

Well, you can imagine the political commentators of the 19th century saying similar things about the purchase of Alaska from Russia - Why do we want this? It is just a big lump of ice, caribou and bear, etc. We should spend the money on alleviating the poor, building railroads, etc.

In hindsight of course it seems like a good idea that all that money was spent. We have no idea what uses the moon will serve in 50 years time, whether it be a launch pad for manned solar exploration or a base for friggin' laser beams pointed at earth. All we can say is that it would be best for everyone if we didn't leave it all up to China to deal with.

In addition I am surprised at the number of people who seriously consider private companies to be a viable alternative. Even large scale *terrestrial* projects require a huge amount of government assistance - think the Channel Tunnel or the new Panama canal. How can we suppose private companies will get to the moon all by themselves? They might get probes or small robots there quite easily, but what if China succeeds in a project much larger? How will a private company be able to compete with a foreign government project? It simply won't be able to, leaving America far behind in both technology and expertise.

I sincerely hope China does succeed and that the shock realigns America's aims.

Re:Big Deal or two (4, Insightful)

wmorrow (16909) | about 7 years ago | (#20714005)

Just one? Pick your favorite:
* astronomy unfettered by an atmosphere and complexities of zero-G environment
* unlimited vacuum and little concern for pollution for industrial processes
* lots of sunshine for power generation
* tourism

There's longer term, and more altruistic goals as well, like getting our eggs out of one basket.

I'm imagining you looking out at the ocean from the beach, and saying "why go sailing? There's water in my bathtub."

Re:Big Deal or two (1)

skam240 (789197) | about 7 years ago | (#20714109)

Right now all a trip to the Moon will get us is a bunch of guys walking around looking at stuff that Americans saw over 50 years ago. None of the things you're talking about are going to happen on the moon for at least 20 years (and I think that's a very conservative estimate), especially anything like manufacturing, so why go back now?

There seems to be an awful lot of concern over pushing forward boldly into the future involved in this but the only relevant rationnels for going right now I'm seeing is to beat China at something we've already beaten them at handedly which is just to get some one up there walking around.

Re:Big Deal or two (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20714151)


|| I'm imagining you looking out at the ocean from the beach, and saying "why go sailing? There's water in my bathtub."

With sailing, you can reach other peoples, and do things like trade.
With the moon, you reach a rock.

Re:Big Deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20714047)

"Because it's the first step." would be my reply.

You would then ask, "The first step to what?"

The answer, of course, is, "We don't know. We can't see where the next step leads until we take the first step."

Shallow money grub, but, I'm sold... (5, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | about 7 years ago | (#20713725)

I think the USA needs to invest big time in nuclear rockets, and at the same time, wrap up its Constellation program.

but what about the poor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20713735)

we could be using this money to fatten up the fucking poor. we could be shoving more ho-hos in there fat faces and picking up their tab for the heart transplants that they'll need by age 56.
 
we don't need space! we need support here in our country. we need to fatten up the lazy worthless poor.

They have an unfair advantage... (3, Funny)

xednieht (1117791) | about 7 years ago | (#20713739)

They don't have to calculate everything in metric AND our system.

...back to the moon? (3, Insightful)

Smight (1099639) | about 7 years ago | (#20713781)

Doesn't China have to get to the moon on seven different occasions if they want to beat the US back?

it almost sounds like a blame game (1)

Fox_1 (128616) | about 7 years ago | (#20713783)

FTA: "So I think we'll be reinstructed in that lesson in the coming years and I hope that Americans will take that instruction positively and react to it by investing in those things that are the leading edge of what's possible."

I do not believe the American public is responsible for the current state of the US space program.

Billion dollar Boondoggles, gross incompetence, mismanagement, lack of Gov't funding, and political posturing.

These are the things that have brought the US space program to ground. The public (I believe) has never lost faith, or given up the dream, however their Gov't did. NASA Administrator Michael Griffin shouldn't be saying that "China is going to beat the US, and the public is going to have to learn and invest better".

He should instead be saying: "I'm sorry that we failed you. I'm sorry that we haven't done a better job with the budgets and responsibilities that we were given." He should be praising companies like Google, or the X-Prize foundation for picking up the ball that the US gov't and NASA dropped.

Re:it almost sounds like a blame game (1)

xednieht (1117791) | about 7 years ago | (#20714103)

eh just a small reminder, the people are the government and by extension... NASA. If the government don't give a damn it's because people don't really give a damn.

I mean seriously what's in it for the "common" man. For the foreseeable future:
You can't live up there.
There's few jobs up there.
There's no schools up there.
There's no wind up there.
There's no rain up there.
There's no trees up there.
It's dangerous to get up there.
And most people that have gone up there, can't wait to get back.

I'm sure in time the utter lack of anything being up there will be overcome, but I won't hold my breath for it happening in my lifetime.

Would I like to strap a rocket to my behind and go for the ride? Absolutely.

Is it something the government or NASA should productize and merchandise and commercialize? Absolutely NOT! There's a lot of other more serious matters the government should attend to which it has been ignoring for the past 7, or so, years.

he is probably correct, if talking about the feds (3, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | about 7 years ago | (#20713787)

But the West will be on the moon by 2015 with private enterprise. The only way that china will be there sooner than that is to team up with Russia, which is a remote possibility (though it is a possibility). I agree with his comments about America and our technical proweness. Our leaders (both gov and business) have been shipping it foolishly overseas, in particular to china. That is going to come at a VERY high price. The sad thing is that by the time that American fully realize that our feds have cut far too much into research (during reagan's time it was cut in half; in W's time, it was cut again), we will also be in extreme debt (we all ready are) AND have lost the very business that made it possible in the first place.

"One small step for man, (1)

LM741N (258038) | about 7 years ago | (#20713843)

one giant leap for cheaply built products with the sticker saying "Made in Moon"

What will the Chinese find on the moon? Rocks. (1, Insightful)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | about 7 years ago | (#20713887)

"... we will see again that nations look up to other nations that appear to be at the top of the technical pyramid..."

The U.S. avoided competing in the race to make a Supersonic Transport [wikipedia.org] airliner. That was a very sensible decision.

There is no need to visit the moon because we already know what is there: Rocks.

Since we already have enough rocks on earth, another race to the moon would be merely a psychological equivalent of a test for penis length.

Re:What will the Chinese find on the moon? Rocks. (2, Interesting)

ckotchey (184135) | about 7 years ago | (#20713919)

Great point and great post.
We've been there, done that.
It's time for some other country to take their turn at coughing up the money and effort to do some outer space exploration and research for the "benefit of all".

Re:What will the Chinese find on the moon? Rocks. (3, Insightful)

RodgerDodger (575834) | about 7 years ago | (#20714087)

Except you need to think about the military situation. However controls the moon will control the space around Earth. Without control of space, and near-Earth-orbit, much of the US's military might just vanishes.
Goodbye GPS. Goodbye launch-detection-systems. Goodbye spy satellites.

There's also a lot you can do with rocks. For starters you can throw them. Go read some Heinlein.

Market pressure (1)

overshoot (39700) | about 7 years ago | (#20713923)

Hey, a new space race sounds like a great way to drive up the market price of engineers and industrial product, with both the US and Chinese space programs trying to outbid each other for the same Chinese technical staff and factories.

Let's just do this... (2, Funny)

E++99 (880734) | about 7 years ago | (#20713931)

Let's set the location of the 2050 Olympics to Tranquility Base. Any nations who want to participate had better start working out their transportation now. Also, kiss goodbye any existing records in high-jump, long jump, javelin, etc.

Send it back to the moon (4, Funny)

WindowlessView (703773) | about 7 years ago | (#20713963)

Great. Now we have to worry about deadly moon microbes in the pet food and toys.

Poorly Worded (0, Offtopic)

haakondahl (893488) | about 7 years ago | (#20713979)

"Will China beat the U.S. back to the moon?"

Excuse me? "back"? Yes, I take the intent, but this is a pretty wrought example of trying to imply one thing while saying another. China cannot beat the U.S. "back" to somewhere it has yet to go. But the other way to phrase it, "Will China beat the U.S. to the moon?", sounds, well, out of date. Not so alarming.

While I don't think that anybody will be confused, I would simply appreciate either a bit less hype or a bit more substance.

Thank you.

huh? i dont get it (2)

sakura the mc (795726) | about 7 years ago | (#20713983)

how are they going to beat us back to the moon, when we havent even been there yet?

Maybe. But it would be irrelevant. (3, Informative)

damneinstien (939730) | about 7 years ago | (#20714013)

NASA, and the United States in general, can see no benefit in a manned mission to the moon without a specific purpose. Seriously, what would be the point? To show that the U.S. can do it? Well, the U.S. already has, wayback in 1969.

What NASA is more interested in at the moment is the possibility of using the moon as a launching point for missions to Mars; perhaps building a lunar base of some kind and also to explore the moon and Mars using automated methods. Just look at the NASA SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) requirements http://sbir.gsfc.nasa.gov/SBIR/sbirsttr2007/solicitation/Chapter_912.html [nasa.gov] and look at the topics. Exploration systems and space operations are a huge topic of interest, far surpassing any need for a current manned mission.

(Disclosure: The author worked recently on a NASA SBIR Grant under the Exploration Systems category.)

if the Chinese land first... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20714077)

then at least our astronauts can look forward to some General Gau's Chicken at reasonable prices.

More importantly.. (1)

MiniMike (234881) | about 7 years ago | (#20714191)

What would really work people up is asking if they care that China can go to the Moon when the USA can't. If getting there is the race, then we've not only won (almost 40 years ago) but we've lapped the second place country. 5 times.

The other important thing to realize is that getting people to the Moon is not really all that hard. The hard part is getting them back. I have confidence that China will soon be able to send people _to_ the Moon, but that's not going to impress me much.
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