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NASA Vets & Administration Clash Over Moon Plans

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the can-we-just-go-somewhere-off-planet-geez dept.

Moon 158

mattnyc99 writes "There's a serious feud brewing this week over the Bush administration's plan for a manned mission to the Moon as an eventual stepping stone to Mars. The Planetary Society, a top group of former mission managers, space-based scientists and NASA astronauts argues, is set to rebuke the Moon plan at a conference next month in favor of hopskotching an asteroid on the way to the Red Planet. Agency chief Michael Griffin issued an abnormally strong response to the society, calling it an overly political criticism of Bush for a plan that he says was 'the best legislative guidance NASA has ever had.' Either way, it's clear that the stars are aligning for the whole space race to be reconsidered as a new administration steps into the White House. So far Clinton and Obama (who just added his) are the only contenders with space proposals."

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NASA embarrasses again (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22160824)

The Niggers and African Spooks Association is an embarrassment to America.

Ron Paul

Latin for Slashfags (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22160836)

Greetings (or salve) Slashfags. As most of you were educated in public schools, you probably missed out on Latin lessons, along with anything other than advanced welfare claiming skills and AP Ebonics. Well, now's the chance to rectify your pitiful proletarian preparation. To start with, we'll be looking at line 1 of Catullus 16:

Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo,
Or, in English
I'm going to fuck you in the ass and make you suck my dick

The first word is pedicabo - this is the indicative future of the verb pedicare, literally to sodomize, something that Apple users and furries will be familiar with.

ego - I, myself. Not the latter day reference to the arrogance/confidence displayed by the jocks who flushed your head down cubicles and then screwed your sister, but a simple first person reference.

vos - you (plural). Similar to when you'd say "you" addressing a group of friends, if you had any that is.

et and. You (plural) are autistic and of poor hygiene and moral fibre.

immurabo - Future indicative again, this time for the verb immurare - to skull fuck, what those jocks did to your sister (and probably to you in the cubicle, truth be told).

Keep practising, and remember - just because you were born working class scum, doesn't mean you'll die as anything else.

Heath Ledger, rump-pumping in Heaven (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22160848)

RIP Heath. I'll miss your rock-hard abs and buttfucking ability.
And I know deep-down you hated niggers. I just know it.

David Spade

That's no moon... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22160878)

... ...it's a space station! [goatse.cz]

I got a plan for YOUR moon! (-1, Flamebait)

McLovin (1145861) | more than 6 years ago | (#22160882)

Listen, up.

If you want titties and beer, buy a macbook.

Got that? Titties (.Y.) and BEER!

If you want to join the chess club, buy a PC.

With an appropriate call for proposals (4, Funny)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 6 years ago | (#22160888)

I'm sure they can find a good movie studio to shoot both projects

Fuck Bush. Let's go to Mars. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22161024)

Kennedy said let's go to the Moon in 1962. So, fuck Bush, let's go to Mars. I'm just saying.

Re:With an appropriate call for proposals Yeh... (2, Funny)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162542)

It won't be a windy day in Arizona, this time.

But, when I re-read the tag, I saw:

  NASA, Vets & Administration Clash Over Moon Plans

I guess monkeys or apes will go on the mock runs... They'll return (after 5,125 years of suspended animalization), and find... Cornelius? Or, maybe a Charlton Heston statue half-buried in older New York...

Or, they'll find the Land of the Lost, with millions of sexually-incompatible Sleetaks groveling all over the Earth.

I think the NASA part will be: Continuous audio piping of "Hey Hey, we're the Monkeys!...."

In before... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22160910)

That's no moon... that's an overused joke.

Re:In before... (1)

AikonMGB (1013995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161998)

Oh no! 4chan must be down and the overflow is spreading to /.!!

Of course its not generating enthusiasm (3, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#22160920)

for a moonshot. Its too far off to generate interest. We are also buried under a horribly long political process.

I am very convinced that if some of the leading candidates get in with all their promises of health care and expanded benefits there won't be any money for NASA to do something big. It will simply fall by the way side because it simply doesn't get Congressmen or Presidents votes.

The best thing has already been done, the hard choice has already been made, axing the shuttle. Hopefully that expense relief won't be taken from NASA but I fear it will. Without the costly expenditures needed the money will probably go elsewhere.

If the main opposition is truly because "BUSH" wanted it then it speaks volumes for just how juvenile the opponents have become. We need a direction, it has to come from the Administration, as Congress no longer attempts to lead anywhere but schemes to keep themselves perpetually in office. NASA has been wandering, stuck with two spruce gooses. The shuttle and ISS. The ISS could flourish without the shuttle and we can hope it will. Yet I am very sure that with all the promises being made by candidates that NASA is the least of their concerns. We are seeing the greatest promised expansion of Federal power over our lives and people are cheering it on as if it were the latest American Idol contest. That is not an avenue for great science to occur

There should be... (0, Offtopic)

Goonie (8651) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161190)

Frankly, the US healthcare system is so ridiculously inefficient compared to everywhere else in the developed world, you should be able to fund universal coverage, and get better outcomes, and spend less than you currently do. Heck, we fund near-universal health care here in Australia for the same proportion of national income that you guys spend on Medicare and the VA health system.

Re:Of course its not generating enthusiasm (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22161200)

If the main opposition is truly because "BUSH" wanted it then it speaks volumes for just how juvenile the opponents have become. We need a direction, it has to come from the Administration,...

Um, hate to break it to you kid, but Bush already chose a direction. It's not really clear what that direction is exactly but so far it has involved pissing away hundreds of billions of future tax payer dollars into the sands of Iraq.

Maybe what you're saying is that the USA needs a change of direction (and I'd agree with you there) or maybe you'd like the USA to try for two directions at once. Personally, I'd say that trying to go in one of the Bush administration's directions is unpleasant enough - but maybe you're just a glutton for that kind of punishment.

Re:Of course its not generating enthusiasm (4, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161302)

If the main opposition is truly because "BUSH" wanted it then it speaks volumes for just how juvenile the opponents have become.

The main opposition is because Bush wanted it, and then didn't fund it. He wants a positive legacy (since his *ahem* other legacy isn't looking so hot), but he didn't want to spend any of the political capital necessary to actually do it. It's like his suddenly trying to jump start the Middle East Peace Plan he'd been ignoring for 7 years, only here it's even easier to just "mandate" that it be done without doing anything substantive to accomplish it. He gets to seem like a visionary in the present, and if it somehow ever happens he can claim credit, and if not, nobody will remember that niggling detail of his Presidency anyway.

Bush's "Mars, Bitches!" plan, and resulting budget problems since now NASA had a huge new project to worry about and no additional money to do it with, was one of the factors that directly contributed to the scrapping of any Hubble repair mission.

You want to talk about generating enthusiasm? The continued operation of Hubble would generate ten times more interest than a moon/mars plan that in the most optimistic thinking of a hypothetical plan by a guy who had no intention of being around to see any of it turned into reality isn't going to do anything for a decade.

Re:Of course its not generating enthusiasm (4, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162740)

There are a few issues with your post I would like to point out.

The main opposition is because Bush wanted it, and then didn't fund it. He wants a positive legacy (since his *ahem* other legacy isn't looking so hot), but he didn't want to spend any of the political capital necessary to actually do it. It's like his suddenly trying to jump start the Middle East Peace Plan he'd been ignoring for 7 years, only here it's even easier to just "mandate" that it be done without doing anything substantive to accomplish it. He gets to seem like a visionary in the present, and if it somehow ever happens he can claim credit, and if not, nobody will remember that niggling detail of his Presidency anyway.
First, Bush asked for 1 billion in new funding and diverted some from the then 11 billion budget which was supposed to be skimmed from existing project over the next five to 11 years. He stated that he would go back to congress and request more money as it progressed. As it is, we haven't spent the real money on going to the moon so the non-funding issue seems minor as it is. I also remember a directive coming down the pipe scolding NASA officials for starting new projects with the lunar funding that was set aside in 2004-05.

Second, your concept of the middle east peace process seems to mimic a headline news blurb. Bush and his administration has been working for middle east peace since the start of his first term. It wasn't until recently that he actually took a trip there outside of US military bases and war zones.

You can argue not enough or soon enough, or a combination of both and be correct. But claiming he didn't care or didn't find is a little disingenuous. It may seem like that to you if your mostly paying attention to headline news and the sorts (some call it the drive by media) so I can understand the position.

Bush's "Mars, Bitches!" plan, and resulting budget problems since now NASA had a huge new project to worry about and no additional money to do it with, was one of the factors that directly contributed to the scrapping of any Hubble repair mission.
You mean the arguments about being risky and so on were a bunch of lies? Tell me, what costs has NASA created that has zapped up close to 12 billion dollars in less then 3 years without producing a vehicle yet? Last I head NASA wasn't in the habit of waisting money or am I wrong about that? Oh yea, I remember now, NASA has been ignoring the budget redirections and Congress has been earmarking portions of the funding and spending the money on anything they damn well pleased which caused the hubbub about Bush re-redirecting funds about a year or so ago. Hardly a problem because of lack of funding, Maybe lack of oversight of congress pilfering for their contributers and rogue NASA officials.

I'm actually surprised that your even blaming this on Bush too. It seems that the democrats are the ones wanting to cut NASA's budget. They wanted to pull 500 million so they could 1.3 billion to the global AIDS fund. Instead, they ended up placing the 2007 funding at 2006 levels. I think they are just as hard if not harder on NASA then any republican congress. It all depends on who's contractors are donating money and who is in power at the time I guess. This seems hardly a one sided issue though.

You want to talk about generating enthusiasm? The continued operation of Hubble would generate ten times more interest than a moon/mars plan that in the most optimistic thinking of a hypothetical plan by a guy who had no intention of being around to see any of it turned into reality isn't going to do anything for a decade.
Isn't there a repair mission already scheduled for the Hubble? I think it is slated for 2008 and will replace the batteries, gyroscopes, a spectrograph, and the main camera which should put it back in operation until at least 2013.

Watch out for the Green Footballs (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22164246)

Bush CUT NASA funding early on then he gave some of it back later with plenty of strings to undermine earth science. I vaguely remember this from his 1st term. Entering office he stopped a ready to launch mission and even refused to let Japan or the EU complete it (because it could have strengthened or weakened global warming theories.)

It is completely reasonable to question everything government does; but especially when IT IS so WRONG so OFTEN. The people questioning the planning are some of the best people to speak up about it and are less likely to do something for purely political reasons than most people (not to mention how political the Bush appointed people often are)

The launch vehicle problem is ROCKET SCIENCE. Contractors play a larger part, which makes it worse-- not because of the ideal situation which is better but because its never the ideal situation which leads to contractor problems that are bigger than the benefits.

I've always been against the moon and mars regardless of Bush; it totally makes sense for him to continue his record of pushing forward poorly debated bad policy. Man on Mars will happen when it makes sense to do so and it does not make sense at this time to do it; even then, as people are pointing out it makes more sense to hop off a rock than hop off the moon.

By the time humans get there, robots will likely out perform them as they do already today. You won't have anybody extending manned mars missions by even a week in 50 years. So a human does a years work in 1 month, you can't even get a human on mars for 20 years so there is no comparison. When its CHEAPER, SAFER, and EASIER go to mars, but not to explore it-- exploration is best left to cheap disposable robotics (which only get better with time and carry the same type of instruments the humans would need to use.)

Perhaps bush's worker program's lost money or some of that lost Katrina money is going into defending Bush; after all, they did PAY newspaper columnists for support... Anybody notice a recent increase in online support?

Re:Of course its not generating enthusiasm (4, Funny)

mattjb0010 (724744) | more than 6 years ago | (#22164646)

Bush and his administration has been working for middle east peace since the start of his first term.

Ah, so that's why he started a war there.

Re:Of course its not generating enthusiasm (3, Insightful)

dragonfire5287 (1213386) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161362)

Actually, they are taking it from a more scientific standpoint and the view expressed by the Planetary Society's founder Carl Sagan. We've been to Luna, there is not much more for us to learn from landing on her. However, a near earth asteroid would provide us with a wealth of new scientific data and possibly provide us with metals we will need to use on Mars.

Re:Of course its not generating enthusiasm (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#22163562)

We've been to Luna, there is not much more for us to learn from landing on her.


Which is why some of us are talking about a base there instead of yet another touch-and-go mission. If we can build a moon base and make it self-supporting, doing it on Mars where there's an atmosphere of sorts should be easier.

Re:Of course its not generating enthusiasm (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22164236)

We haven't been to Luna, we've been to the Moon, unless you meant to speak Italian in which case you seemed to have left the rest of your sentence in English (did you work for the NBC Olympics coverage from "Torino" by any chance?)

Re:Of course its not generating enthusiasm (2, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162486)

First, not liking an idea just because it is a Bush idea is not such a bad thing. The idea to start a war sounded good at the time, but now has grown the deficit to an astronomical percentage of GDP, and has left us with little room to wiggle out of a depression. On another idea of he and his friends, you might want to ask the good people Arlington if the 135 million dollar tax funded toy was really worth it. It was worth it for Bush as it earned him nearly 15 million dollars with almost no investment(FYI major legue baseball is played in a field that cost only $190 million dollars, in 1990 dollars.

But lets leave the fact that Bush waste money at the speed of light. There are real reasons to wonder if the moon is the best place to settle. the primary issue is that getting things off earth is very expensive, and we are the realm of throw away rockets. One way to curb this expense is have reusable vehicles in LEO, and only worry about getting people to LEO. The parts for these vehicles could be launched as cargo, which is much cheaper than launching everything at human safety values.

It is much better for us to be patient and develop LEO as a transit point. The fanciful idea of the moon as a vacation spot is like flying cars. I am sure that all this is real in the fairy tale mind of our president, but in the real world, where we do not have rich parent to make sugar daddy deals for us, we have to make real concessions and real sacrifices.

Re:Of course its not generating enthusiasm (2, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 6 years ago | (#22163548)

>The idea to start a war sounded good at the time

Yeah if you were either a psychopath or a moron at the time.

Re:Of course its not generating enthusiasm (1)

leonardward (1225956) | more than 6 years ago | (#22163168)

I think you're onto something... it is quite likely politically motivated, this sudden vociferous opposition. If you funded a well-marketed push to establish a Moon base, people would follow. Just pay Bill Clinton enough money and he'll sell the idea to the world. I'm not sure asteroids are sellable, however, since we're constantly reminded that one of the many millions of asteroids could wipe us out any time in the next 100 million years. The moon's not a threat, except in the Time Machine movie.

Re:Of course its not generating enthusiasm (2, Funny)

shadowkiller137 (1169097) | more than 6 years ago | (#22163250)

well maybe when Virgin Galactic starts going to the moon NASA can just hitch a ride

The moon: our only hope (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22160926)

According to Stephen Hawking, humanity won't survive unless we get off-planet. The moon is the obvious choice for a first settlement.

I propose we make the moon into a new Australia, or a new Liberia. Send the niggers there. Paint the moon black, so to speak. We can even give them oxygen and water, for a few years at least.

Let's clean up Earth. This is my plan. Think of how nice Africa will be when they're gone!

Ron Paul, M.D.

Re:The moon: our only hope (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22160948)

You obviously don't know Ron Paul enough because he does not believe in NASA!

But you were too busy trying to slander him.

Re:The moon: our only hope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22161844)

Finally, I was wondering where the Ron Paul's storm-troopers were...

Re:The moon: our only hope (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161932)

Looking at his voting record, there really is not need to make anything up. The guy is all for white male dominance in the name of Jesus.

Let's look closer to home, first (4, Interesting)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 6 years ago | (#22160994)

One thing that really struck a cord with me was when I saw Carol Moseley Braun being interviewed on The Daily Show (14 January, 2004.) Somehow, the topic of space exploration came up. I believe it had to do with 'renewed interest' in going to Mars. If I recall properly, Jon asked her what she thought of going to Mars and if she had a plan to get us there. I think she said something along the lines of "Sure, I don't think we shouldn't go to Mars." But I remember her explicitly stating that there is so little we know about Earth. Specifically, she wanted to redirect our scientific efforts from focusing on outer space and focusing on Earth, and more specifically, underwater exploration. We know virtually nothing about our seas and oceans. And they're close. I believe Mosely Brown used the rational that it would take 18 months to get to Mars, but it would take only hours to get to the bottom of the Ocean. That, and what happens in the oceans affects us a hell of a lot more than what happens on Mars.

Re:Let's look closer to home, first (3, Interesting)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161018)

So we should abandon space travel and live on our little planet then? The Earth is but a dot in the universe, why should we keep our species stuck on it forever.

Re:Let's look closer to home, first (5, Insightful)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161126)

We shouldn't abandon space travel simply to explore the earth, but on the same token, we shouldn't abandon the earth simply to explore space either!

Re:Let's look closer to home, first (5, Funny)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161394)

Wait a minute, you're offering a compromise and speaking as if there were a middle ground and not just two extremes. You and your views have no place in politics.

Re:Let's look closer to home, first (2, Funny)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162062)

Or Slashdot for that matter.

Re:Let's look closer to home, first (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162206)

Well, actually, his views are almost perfect for politics. He's saying, "Given a choice between two things, we will do both and raise taxes (democrats) or have larger deficits (republicans). That way everybody is happy and will vote for me."

Yup. Sounds like Washington to me.

Re:Let's look closer to home, first (5, Insightful)

KillerCow (213458) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161104)

see false dichotomy [wikipedia.org] .

Fuck Carol Moseley Braun (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22161188)

If she wants to stay here and gaze at her stupid twat, fine. I want to go to Mars.

Re:Let's look closer to home, first (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161264)

Specifically, she wanted to redirect our scientific efforts from focusing on outer space and focusing on Earth, and more specifically, underwater exploration.
something tells me that isn't the least bit likely. The temptation to spend the ten billion a year NASA uses on something entirely useless to science and the world as a whole is too strong. Meanwhile, we'll still be in Iraq for some idiot reason spending money 100x the rate the space program has and doing nothing but killing and seriously p---ing off the locals. The benefits to science and technology from the space program are worth a lot more than the cash that is put into space programs. Never mind the resources outside Earth just sitting on comets and asteroids, think of all the data we've gathereed from space about the Earth and the universe billions of light years away from Hubble.

Re:Let's look closer to home, first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22161408)

You fools! You'll awaken the cloverfield monster.

Leave the Ocean unexplored, or bad things (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161980)

willl happen:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=ow-PxJhDBuA [youtube.com]

Re:Leave the Ocean unexplored, or bad things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22163578)

Thanks for the spoiler. Jerk.

Re:Let's look closer to home, first (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162306)

We know virtually nothing about about our seas and oceans? Ms. Braun is stuck in the 1930's somewhere, because we know far from 'virtually nothing'. The ocean and the ocean bottom have been the subject of intensive since the 1950's - it just doesn't make the news as often because, like most exploration, it isn't very 'sexy' and doesn't produce much in the way of spectacular imagery. (Heck, most space exploration isn't very 'sexy' either - which is why the images make the news, and little else.)

Russia can do it (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162836)

For less than the cost of one stadium [wikipedia.org] .

How soft have we become? Where space travel was born [bayqongyr.com] they don't even have cars yet. But we need them to get to the space station? Come on, America! Let's go!

'the best legislative guidance NASA has ever had. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161130)

Sure, sure it is. What about that first moon trip?

I understand the desire to get to the moon because it has better public awareness the asteroid.

Is this really a valued "guidance"? (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161132)

What sort of value do this "guidance" of the government have to space science?

I somehow feel the scientists are more well introduced in what is the most cost efficient use of their budget, at the same time as I doubt landing on the moon will make a bang in the world like it did in 1969.

Sure, there'll be a lot of YouTube vids, funny amateur remixes, and so on, but really, it has already been done. So I think the PR part of the whole thing can safely be skipped here, and the US should rather strive to get to Mars ASAP. If the Moon isn't well suited for that as an intermediate step out of economy and perhaps other reasons (time?), then I think they should look for other ways, such as using asteroids. I mean, it's landing on Mars that hasn't been done and what will be of greatest scientific benefit. Well, and they might learn something from doing more intimate science with asteroids too. It sounds like a nice synergy there to me, especially if it will be wiser from an economy and time point of view as well.

A definite objective (1)

iamlucky13 (795185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162006)

What Griffin was referring to in his letter was the fact that, for the first time since 1962, NASA had been given a clear objective and the authority (although not quite all the funds) to follow it. No hemming and hawing over various shuttle concepts and bouncing around between interest groups. No toying with space station ideas with only half an idea what they wanted to do with it.

The Vision for Space Exploration set a direction for developing a replacement for the shuttle, something that needed to happen since the Columbia Accident Investigation Board mandated the shuttle be retired in 2010. By stating an objective, although not Mars as some had hoped, it mandated certain capabilities early on for NASA to work with. However, it does not prevent the technology being developed now from being adapted for a Mars mission (the CEV is being designed with re-entry from a Mars trajectory in mind).

Believe it or not, there is a lot we don't know about the moon, and a lot we can do there. Moreover, neither Bush nor even the big NASA supporters in Congress have the political will to launch a push for Mars that has any chance of lasting beyond the next administration. I don't give Bush credit for figuring it out, but the smaller scope of a new moon initiative stands a good chance of being upheld by the next presidency and future congresses.

By the way, NASA is currently still thinking about using Orion and Ares for asteroid exploration to a very limited degree. The space society is proposing they forego the moon altogether and just play on the asteroids. I'm not sure I understand their reasoning behind that.

Objections (5, Informative)

rijrunner (263757) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161152)

Weird, they don't even address any of the technical of economic objections to the Moon vs Mars mission. The article misses a lot of key points.

1) There is very little technical overlap in designs between a lunar and martian based program. The Moon has no atmosphere. That means no atmospheric braking. A lander landing on the Moon is radically different than one landing on Mars since the lunar one has to use only rockets to slow its descent. The Martian one can use rockets and parachutes as well as glide. Also, the lack of an atmosphere means that the Moon can not as easily provide oxygen or fuel as Mars, where those products can be pulled directly from the atmosphere. The Moon requires regolith mining to obtain any materials.

2) The transfer vehicle to the Moon is going to be able to complete the trip within 120 hours, or 240 hours if you have to do a return. That is easily within the range of not needing to recycle. You can just load up with consumables and then replenish at either end of the trip. The Martian vehicle will have to have some pretty hefty recycling technology.

3) The day/night cycle on the Moon is vastly longer than that of Mars. Mars is pretty close to that of Earth. Solar power is not even remotely practical on the Moon. (Except in the polar regions where it s theorized that would be possible to find spots where you have continual daylight). If you want to go somewhere other than the poles on the Moon for any duration, you are looking at needing a new generation of nuclear power. Which would also be useful on Mars, but there is a tradeoff there in terms of mass and other factors.)

4) I am back to "There is no atmosphere on the Moon" because it keeps impacting multiple areas. One of the problems that needs to be solved is HVAC type issues. Keeping things warm or cold. The Moon has no atmosphere, hence no convective heat transfer. All heat transfer is radiative or conductive. That necessitates a completely different thermodynamic paradigm than would be possible on Mars.

5) In terms of Human factors, the Moon is 1/6th gravity and Mars is 1/3th. That means items on Mars weighs twice as much as that on the Moon. The lunar space suits can not be worn on Mars as they are too heavy. New ones need to be designed. (We're also back to "The Moon has no atmosphere". Space suits need to be able to maintain a steady temperature inside. Since a lunar space suit is essentially a thermos when you consider it is in vacuum, all you have to worry about it shedding excess heat. On Mars, you are essentially enveloped by a fluid - the atmosphere - which has a temperature and can carry away excess heat.)

Actually, the reason for the asteroid mission instead of the lunar one is simple. It will require essentially the same type of spaceship that is required to get to Mars. The lunar base only has about 20% overlap with Mars technologies and - honestly - for those 20%, Earth is as good an analog as the Moon. When you develop a technology to go to the Moon, that is what you are developing. You are not developing one for Mars.

Essentially, you get the Moon and Mars for only twice the amount as getting the Moon or Mars.

Re:Objections (1)

snooo53 (663796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161560)

Sounds like a great argument for doing both! There are vastly different technologies needed for respective moon and mars trips, so therefore both have useful technical challenges to overcome.

Re:Objections (5, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161870)

"Essentially, you get the Moon and Mars for only twice the amount as getting the Moon or Mars."

OK, you've listed all the non-advantages for a moon program. Now how about some advantages?

1) by developing technologies for hard vacuum, you are in a sense prepping for one of the hardest parts of the Mars mission, that is, a months/years long transit time. You have a nearly perfect platform for testing technologies outside of the Van Allen belt(s), exposing them for long durations to solar heating and occluded cooling. Note: developing the tech for an asteroid mission is essentially saying that 'we can already do this part' - can we? Reliably to put a crew's lives at risk over extended periods of time?

2) long-term value: geopolitical, military, commercial, geographic - as you dismissively point out, there are theoretically (only!) 2 places where solar power access is continual. Possibly more importantly these two places (the poles) are also the only places where the sun, the earth, in fact the entire ecliptic (north or south) is in clear line of sight. How much are those two spots worth today? How much will they be worth in a century? Want to surveil deep space while having a straight line-of-sight link to earth? Want to have a launch point for a flinger that could theoretically put lunar materials anywhere in the earth-moon system with the simplest ballistic solution? I'd argue that being the first with a permanent base there has an INCALCULABLE value over longer timespans. And if you have the first base on one pole, it's not a giant stretch to put a second one on the other pole and monopolize both. The lunar poles - for near-earth space - are practically 21st Century Suez or Panama canals in their strategic value.

3) raw materials: again, a lunar base in the longer term answers one of the bigger questions to space exploitation. Tossing something up to an orbiting factory or processor module is trivial from the moon, and the effectively limitless raw material (including rather important oxides) doesn't hurt. Going to an asteroid lets you explore, but bringing that back where it could be usefully exploited is an ENTIRELY larger project with propulsive technologies we aren't even CLOSE to having.

Personally, if I were looking at it as a game of Civ or something, I'd say the asteroid is probably the cheaper, higher payoff short range program. The lunar base is the more expensive, slower-to-develop programs that ends up being the incontestable game-winning economic- and military-power multiplier in the endgame.

Needless to say, I don't see nearly the value you do in an asteroid mission. I see THAT as the 'flash in the pan' while the idea of a lunar base is the investment-growth option, for Mars certainly, but also for decades if not centuries further on.

Re:Objections (2, Insightful)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 6 years ago | (#22163194)

2) long-term value: geopolitical, military, commercial, geographic - as you dismissively point out, there are theoretically (only!) 2 places where solar power access is continual. Possibly more importantly these two places (the poles) are also the only places where the sun, the earth, in fact the entire ecliptic (north or south) is in clear line of sight. How much are those two spots worth today? How much will they be worth in a century? Want to surveil deep space while having a straight line-of-sight link to earth? Want to have a launch point for a flinger that could theoretically put lunar materials anywhere in the earth-moon system with the simplest ballistic solution? I'd argue that being the first with a permanent base there has an INCALCULABLE value over longer timespans. And if you have the first base on one pole, it's not a giant stretch to put a second one on the other pole and monopolize both. The lunar poles - for near-earth space - are practically 21st Century Suez or Panama canals in their strategic value.
Jeez, if monopolizing lunar (or martian) resources is what is to motivate our space programs, we may as well forget the whole thing. We should just cut to the chase and focus our resources on killing each other here on earth rather than wasting them extending our greed and petty bickering into space.

Counterobjections (2, Interesting)

Gorimek (61128) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162296)

For most practical purposes Mars also has no atmosphere. It's just 0.6% of our, or in other words 99.4% not there. Yes, it does change the conditions a bit, but Mars is much more like the moon than earth..

With the moon as near to the sun as earth, but lacking clouds and atmosphere, it receives much more sunlight than corresponding spots on earth, and is therefore that much more suitable for solar energy. The 330 hour lunar night can be handled just like the 12 hour martian night, using battery technology.

Re:Counterobjections (1)

rijrunner (263757) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162924)

Do the math on the weight of the batteries required to hold enough energy to last a lunar base for 14 days, then get back to me.

Also.. that little bit of atmosphere turns out to be a huge difference. Look at any of the in-situ experiments done on creating fuel from the atmosphere and you have tons of fuel being cranked out with essentially very little required power. You have a medium to fly through (dirigibles and blimps will work using hydrogen gas on Mars). You have completely different heating issues. Mars is not similar to the Moon in terms of how the environment affects the mission or technologies.

Re:Counterobjections (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22163146)

Why do you need batteries? Capacitors or some unconventional storage technique could be deployed. You might also be able to just bring up the electrolyte and manufacture either on the surface of the moon with ores already available. and if that is the case, what is the math for weight verses cost for launching a mars mission from the Moon compared to the earth if we were able to produce stuff like the batteries or whatever, refine water from ice caps, and so on from th e surface of the moon. This might sound odd and futuristic but what if all or a good portion of the food supply is created from hydroponic farms on the moon designed to sustain the moon base?

As for the atmosphere? Could anything gained from the moon offset the differences in atmospheres? I mean simply building a base so we know we could have astronauts living in space without intervention for the time required to goto mars, land and come back? The space stations are limited in size as would be the moon bases but last I heard, they were planning on making them out of materials already available along side inflatable structures.

I'm willing to bet there there are a lot of useful trade offs with doing both that cancel the negatives out enough to make them non issues. This is especially true if Helium 3 is on the moon and we have a to use/do cold fusion and ion propulsion. But even without it, I would think that we could assemble larger and more capable crafts from parts delivered to the moon and fueled there before launching. Imagine how much fuel you would need to get to mars and back while also lifting off with that fuel. If it could be brought into space and stored or manufactured on the moon, it could make the take off much more efficient and less dangerous for a mission to mars.

Re:Objections (2, Interesting)

Keebler71 (520908) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162782)

I don't think you get it... the moon mission isn't analogous to a Mars mission due to the destination environments. A moon mission (in its entirety) is an analog to the transit portion of a Mars mission. As you point out, Mars has an atmosphere - we don't need to go anywhere else to test atmospheric vehicles, or landers, or suits ... we can test those all here on Earth. Going to the moon, and living on the moon for six months forces us to deal with many of the mission challenges associated with a 6 month transit to Mars.

The principle difference is that when an emergency occurs on the lunar surface you aren't more than 4-5 days tops from a safe return to Earth. When an emergency occurs on your way to Mars - you're hosed. In which scenario would you rather develop new technology?

Now - an astute reader will ask, why don't we just learn the long duration stuff here in LEO? My response to that would be - why not kill many birds with one stone and also do some lunar science? We still do expeditions to Antarctica because there are still things to learn there. We've been to the moon what... 6 times? Why not also test out long range navigation and communication technologies that really aren't applicable at LEO?

Re:Objections (1)

rijrunner (263757) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162854)

Transit to the Moon: roughly 3 days. Transit to Mars: roughly 6 months.

6 months? Shoot.. they do that now at the South Pole. You can test *any* 6 month duration anywhere just by not going there for 6 months. And still be 20 minutes away in case of a real emergency. They have already built and started testing the analogs for Martian bases here. Pretty basic stuff. Build out a hab module. Put some people in it. Let them live there for gradually longer periods of time. Take the lessons learned, incorporate them into the next version. It does not even remotely require the Moon to test if someone can live in a hab for 6 months.

Take your argument one step further.. If you are 5-6 days away from Earth or 20 minutes away from a fully staffed support facility, which would you chose?

The long range comm and navigation portions are more analogous if designed for an asteroid mission than a lunar one. A lunar mission has a fixed point and set trajectory. An asteroid mission would need to be able to navigate and handle comm millions of miles away from Earth.

Re:Objections (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22163174)

How do you test living for six months self sustained in a weightless or reduced gravity situation? You can train people on how to do things and so on but there is just portions of insight that your not going to gain on earth just like you won't get them from the moon. But something you will get from both is parts of the puzzle so you have a good idea that people going up will come back alive.

Re:Objections (1)

SnowZero (92219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22163242)

I like how originally you keep hammering the fact that the moon has no atmosphere in your first post, yet now you ignore the GP's important point of how the moon is good for testing 6 months of hard vacuum. The south pole of earth is hardly the same environment, and we've already stayed there for extended periods. The next logical step is LEO, which we've also done (Mir,ISS). After that, it would make sense (to me) to do that on a nearby body, rather than a much longer and riskier asteroid or Mars mission.

Please remember that riskier mission endanger not only the astronaut's lives (who are usually willing to take the risk), but it also risks public support and congressional funding. We should take manageable steps.

Re:Objections (1)

zerkon (838861) | more than 6 years ago | (#22163248)

Bigger issues than just a 6 month self-sustaining isolation have an effect on a mars mission though. Agreed that it could be a good idea to start living in an underground bunker for 6 months or something, then moving to a more hostile environment like Antarctica, then maybe the moon and applying lessons learned as the difficulty increases

BUT only the moon/leo/geo/asteroid scenarios have the added educational value of dealing with the problems like heat transfer, micro-gravity, micro-meteorites, etc that wouldn't be an issue and are hard or impossible to simulate on earth.

IANAA (I am not an astrophysicist) but regarding the long range comm/nav problems, haven't we already successfully achieved that with the Voyager missions?

Re:Objections (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22163536)

The Martian one can use rockets and parachutes as well as glide.

It turns out that we don't actually know how to land a big craft on Mars. The atmosphere is thin for aerobraking and parachutes, but the gravity is high enough that a powered descent takes considerable fuel. So more mass is required for the descent stage than previously thought. This cascades back into a much larger launch vehicle.

Barack Obama's (1)

MacarooMac (1222684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161180)

space proposals include the belief that "..the United States needs a strong space program to help maintain its superiority not only in space, but also here on earth.."

He clearly hasn't had a chance to examine the latest Vulcan ballot rigging schematics that were rather controversially published in the Centauri Gazette last month.

PARSE ERROR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22161186)

The Planetary Society, a top group of former mission managers, space-based scientists and NASA astronauts argues, is set to rebuke the Moon plan at a conference next month...

What exactly are "NASA astronauts argues"?

Re:PARSE ERROR (4, Funny)

lgw (121541) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161372)

The Planetary Society, a top group of former mission managers, space-based scientists and NASA astronauts argues, is set to rebuke the Moon plan at a conference next month...
What exactly are "NASA astronauts argues"?
The Nasa astronaut eats, shoots and leaves. The NASA astronaut would like to thank his parents, Ayn Rand and God.

Too late to be of value (5, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161220)

In the 1960s, space represented many things and was very successful in focussing the USA in many ways. However, once done it has served its purpose and cannot easily serve it again.

Sputnik put USA on the back foot. With the whole Communism vs capitalist theme going at the time, the space program was wrapped up tightly with the US national identity (gotta show those Russians who's boss). Space was patriotic. Space was exciting. The USA were the people doing the space thing. Space was completely intertwined in the national identity as well as the identity of a generation (the kids who grew up in the space era).

The whole national obsession with the space program drove the interest in science which bootstrapped a generation of scientists and engineers. It was not space per se that did this, but the obsession that saw Apollo models hanging from the ceiling in every second kid's bedroom. That obsession was linked not only to science, but to selling cars, pens, breakfast cerial etc.

Just rolling out another space program will do nothing to help education and science unless it is accompanied by the passion. What are the defining obsessions of today?

Re:Too late to be of value (-1, Offtopic)

baldass_newbie (136609) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161376)

What are the defining obsessions of today?

pr0n?

Re:Too late to be of value (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161518)

What are the defining obsessions of today?
pr0n?
And Free Software/Music, of course.

Asteroid mining (3, Interesting)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161442)

It could be just me, but a bunch of robotic probes going from asteroid to asteroid to drill samples in search of useful ores would be really cool.

Re:Asteroid mining (2, Insightful)

xanthines-R-yummy (635710) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161540)

I agree, but judging by your nick and the fact that you post on /. suggests to me that you aren't like the rest of the U.S. (hell, I'd argue the world...) Rather unfortunate, I might add...

Re:Too late to be of value (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22162332)

What are the defining obsessions of today?

Perhaps we could launch Britney into orbit...

Because it is hard (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162754)

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, and the others, too.

John F. Kennedy, 9/12/1962 [virginia.edu]

I'm getting a lot of miles out of that speech. Going to Mars is hard. Going to the asteroids is hard. The treasure we might find there is nothing compared to the wealth in knowledge we earn along the way if we're bold enough to make the journey. We got far more value out of the moon effort than it cost.

One day children will be conceived and born in microgravity. They'll learn and live and love far from the planet we call home. They'll live out their lives and ultimately die having never set foot on any planet at all. We can't prevent this -- it is man's destiny. They'll think nothing of it because for them it will be the way things have always been. The question is: Will they be our children or someone else's?

Re: Space and our National Identity (1)

some guy I know (229718) | more than 6 years ago | (#22164542)

Just rolling out another space program will do nothing to help education and science unless it is accompanied by the passion. What are the defining obsessions of today?
I've got it!
Send that shaved-headed chick and her husband, FedEx, into space.
After all, they're halfway there already.

Makes a lot more sense (3, Insightful)

monopole (44023) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161368)

An asteroid has a much less steep gravity well than the moon. This would save a lot of fuel over a stopover at a moon base. The moon makes no sense as a stepping stone to Mars, but an asteroid might.

Re:Makes a lot more sense (2, Informative)

Loke the Dog (1054294) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162360)

You, and many others, take the word stepping stone too literally. The idea is not to launch a mars mission from the moon, that would be stupid. Its a stepping stone in technology, organization, infrastructure and stuff.

And also, but this isn't mentioned very often, in order to get and keep funding in a democracy, you need to frequently prove that you're making progress. On top of that you have to prove it to people who actually have no idea what you're really doing and what it is good for. They can't spend 10 years doing hard science on earth, and then send out a mission to mars, that will never get them enough money. They need to constantly remind people what they're doing. "Today, we found this interesting rock. Tomorrow we'll start installing this new solar panel", you know.

Thats the point of the moon. To make science exciting and interesting, even to those who don't care about science.

Ok WTF? (4, Interesting)

TopSpin (753) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161416)

The Planetary Society published this [planetary.org] (pdf) in collaboration with Griffin (he's listed as one of nine members of the 'study team') before he became head of NASA. The Planetary Society got their guy in [spaceref.com] and he's following the plan they sold to the administration and Congress. What the fuck is going on here?

If the peanut gallery over at the Planetary Society start jerking the Government's chain over settled NASA policy they're going to get stuff defunded. Most of our leading presidential candidates will take any excuse they can find to snatch away the funding and use it to buy votes some other way.

NASA will become the FAA of Space (2, Insightful)

GeneralCC (1206630) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161476)

Frankly I have little faith in NASA. I'm sure there's going to be some attempt to go to somewhere in space someday somehow (their "new" space shuttle is having serious problems and not to mention it a mock up it of the Saturn rocket used decades ago). I believe that the private realm of business will become dominant over NASA in the coming years. There is definitely potential for profit in space and NASA is too concerned about analytical science to figure out how to answer the entrepreneurial aspects of space. For example on the moon an isotope of helium could be used to create pure burning fuel for nuclear reactors. It's been estimated that the amount of platinum on certain asteroids would have market value in the trillions. NASA is too busy fighting a stubborn bureaucracy to really tap space's potential. They are never going to make bring space to the common person. Rather, I believe that private industry will take over as the dominant space explorers. NASA should fill in as a watchdog over the private space industry. I believe NASA should foster the growth of the space industry.

Re:NASA will become the FAA of Space (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162026)

Naw, the private sector will always be followers because there is no money in exploration for explorations sake. Well, no money for the initial company, lots of money for the contractor that build the technology.

NASA is an investment.

Re:NASA will become the FAA of Space (1)

Iron Condor (964856) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162926)

I believe that the private realm of business will become dominant over NASA in the coming years.

You are entitled to your beliefs.

Your beliefs might even turn out to be true.

As of now, however, the only entities who have ever put a person into LEO have been (in order of appearance):

  • The government of the USSR (Russia, the Russian Federation, whatever they're called this week)
  • The government of the United States of America
  • The government of China

The only entity that has ever put a person past LEO has been

  • The government of the United States of America.

As of right now private enterprise has been a complete and total failure in the space arena.

They dropped the ball decades ago, when the governments of the world had done their part of the deal and had provided the hundreds of billions of $$$ investment in fundamental research to show that it can be done and how to do it. When industry should have picked up the game. And did exactly ... nothing.

It seems to me that the Nasa Vets are off-topic (4, Insightful)

CokeJunky (51666) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161500)

I was always under the impression that the moonbase plan was not really a hopscotch for going to mars physically, but rather a proving ground to test, develop, and prove that it is feasible to set up permanent installations on other planetary bodies. If something goes wrong in a moon mission (i.e. that Apollo mission), it's only three days away, and there is at least a chance of bringing people back home. A screw up on a year-plus mission is more certain death.

I couldn't imagine trying to do something like that on an asteroid or going straight to mars until we have figured out how to get to the moon, and stay there for a while!

Re:It seems to me that the Nasa Vets are off-topic (1)

Oriumpor (446718) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162464)

Better off designing the crap on top of a mountain on Earth. The problem with the moon as a development platform for Mars is there's NO atmosphere. The challenges Mars has are closer to living in the desert & a high plateau at the same time, and then throw in some of the challenges we see on the ocean floor (gotta bring your own air/pressure etc.)

Getting there and landing on Mars will be like doing the same on Earth (with a marked difference in the surface area needed for aerobraking, etc.) But, theoretically anything that would work on Earth could be modified to work on Mars. So the closest thing we've got to landing people on mars from orbit, is landing people on Earth from orbit.

As much as the Rocket cowboys want you to think the hard part is getting there, the really hard part will be getting to the surface and staying alive there, and the moon doesn't offer much help in testing almost anything we'll be sending to Mars.

In summation: A Moonshot does not help our trip to Mars.

In a hazy dream: A permanent Moonbase with a few reactors and a polar (or orbital) Solar station would be a great processing and logistics base for asteroid mining and delivery to Earth. It's position/low mass and lack of atmosphere make it marginally cheaper (fuel wise) to land on and finish the final leg to Earth's surface. It would also make a good place for the space-bound to touch down for a while if they wanna walk around without dying.

Re:It seems to me that the Nasa Vets are off-topic (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22163386)

I was always under the impression that the moonbase plan was not really a hopscotch for going to mars physically, but rather a proving ground to test, develop, and prove that it is feasible to set up permanent installations on other planetary bodies.

Agreed. Living in space in (hopefully) self-sustaining colonies is the next phase to learn about, not repeating the quick-stop Apollo on Mars.
       

Put the $$ in fusion research (2, Interesting)

Jeff1946 (944062) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161524)

As difficult as making fusion a viable energy source at least there is tremendous potential payoff. As to manned exploration of space it is only for the adventure. Robots can do so much better for so much less $$.

I've always been amused... (-1, Flamebait)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161550)

...at how the Slashdot community, which gets all bent out of shape about companies like Halliburton...rabidly supports space exploration.

You people are so easily bought, it's not funny. Bush doesn't do space exploration for the benefit of mankind (neither did Kennedy.) If Bush did, we'd be partnering with other countries, not racing against them. This is a desperate grasp at giving his administration some sort of "legacy" whilest lining the pockets of defense contractors.

This is the original space race, all fuckin' over again except this time it's communist Chinese instead of communist Russians, and we're doing it because the Chinese are feeling their wheaties with regards to space exploration, and the Pentagon and White House are scared shitless at the thought of a major Chinese space presence or a Chinese flag sitting on the moon. You people are too blinded by your Star Trek-inspired fetishes to realize that the only thing we got out of the FIRST trips to the moon was:

a)A bunch of dead astronauts b)A ton of rocks c)some pretty pictures from/of the moon d)a very, very, very large bill (+$100BN in today's dollars.)

We have a crumbling national transportation infrastructure, a looming social security crisis, the economy is teetering on the edge of a recession, national debt is sky-high, we have a HUGE trade deficit, and millions of Americans don't have health coverage, don't get 3 square meals a day, and their children don't have enough books in school. And you people want to blow ANOTHER hundred fucking billion dollars to send someone to a giant rock in the desperate hope that we'll somehow find a way to commercially exploit so that private corporations make that money back for us, AND then spend ANOTHER giant chunk of change on sending someone to Mars?

You know that agency you all love? *Everything* NASA "buys" comes from defense contractors. Everything NASA builds, is built by defense contractors. Defense contractors forget to install a pin, $100M satellite crashes to the ground, contractor says "oops", builds another one, bills NASA, and nobody seems to care.

Have any of you looked at what NASA conducts most of its research in? It ain't Velcro or Tang, boys. It's missiles and fighter jets. NASA was part of the Air Force, and that's largely still who it "works for". Ever looked at what most of the stuff the Shuttle was used to throw up into space? It ain't satellite TV. It's spy and military satellites...

Re:I've always been amused... (2, Insightful)

tsotha (720379) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161820)

Have any of you looked at what NASA conducts most of its research in? It ain't Velcro or Tang, boys. It's missiles and fighter jets. NASA was part of the Air Force, and that's largely still who it "works for". Ever looked at what most of the stuff the Shuttle was used to throw up into space? It ain't satellite TV. It's spy and military satellites...

Oh please. NASA has very little to do with the development of missiles or fighter jets. All that stuff is done by the Air Force under separate contracts. Virtually all of NASA's money goes to manned spaceflight these days. The Air Force would like nothing better than to be rid of NASA, since using disposable launchers is much cheaper than using the shuttle. But they're forced to use the shuttle (or at least they were) to help justify its enormous expense.

NASA doesn't "work for" the Air Force, unless you intend the quotes to show the statement is blatantly false. It's not a defense program or even a science program - it's a jobs program. The purpose of NASA is to steer money to specific congressional districts. And that's why, no matter how little it does, it will never be cut significantly.

Re:I've always been amused... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22161880)

You appear to be under the illusion that NASA receives more than a fraction of a percent of the US budget.

Re:I've always been amused... (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162116)

You appear to be under the illusion that NASA receives more than a fraction of a percent of the US budget.

NASA receives about $16BN a year.

The argument that "that's a tiny fraction of the budget" is bullshit- the federal budget is divided into MANY slices, so yeah, individual departments don't amount to much.

It's still SIXTEEN BILLION DOLLARS, and one of the reasons the federal budget is so fucking massive is because everyone thinks adding in another billion here or there won't hurt.

News flash (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22161904)

The industries that were created to make new technologies went on to make consumer goods. The tax from those goods has paid for the Sapce race 13+ times over.
Like any good investment, it made a hell of a lot of money.

Every bought a smoke detector? that industry exists because of development for NASA
There are hundreds of technologies that needed to be developed to get us to the moon.

"a looming social security crisis"
No, we do not. That is just republican fear mongering, and it's not new. The people that actually study it, as in it's there career, and they fully understand economics.
They have said there is no crisis looming, but were shut up by this administration.

"And you people want to blow ANOTHER hundred fucking billion dollars "
The last space race created a better education system, and great scientists and engineers.
Space exploration is great for education.

"Have any of you looked at what NASA conducts most of its research in? It ain't Velcro or Tang, boys. It's missiles and fighter jets. N"
That's just a lie.

You're stupid, spread lies and FUD. Please learn to think.

The basic problem is... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22161650)

... one of assumptions.

If all you're going to do is a one-shot mission to the moon, mars or an asteroid, then it doesn't matter which one they do.

They'll go to the moon/mars/asteroid, come home and pat themselves for a job well done and if we want to go back we have to do the whole damn thing over again.

Heinlein said "Get to low-Earth orbit and you're halfway to anywhere". We need a truck stop in LEO. If we have someplace in LEO where we can stockpile fuel, food and water, it becomes much easier to start a mission from there than to carry everything in one go from the ground (and no, the ISS isn't even close).

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22161866)

What the hell is "hopskotching"?

the best legislative guidance NASA has ever had (2, Funny)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162040)

My ass. The best guidance NASA ever had was when John F. Kennedy sent the United States to the moon.

This "guidance" is nothing more than the best idea a stupid chimp could come up with at the time to try to ride Kennedy's coattails.

As with just about anything Bush, going to the moon again is pretty stupid. What's the purpose? Hell, all we would need to do is just build a few new Saturn V's, a new LEM or two, and another couple of Lunar Rovers. We have all the plans and we know they work.

Wasting the time and money on doing something we did almost 40 years ago is typical for our diminutive presidenter.

Someone put him back on a Segway and hand him a pretzel.

Re:the best legislative guidance NASA has ever had (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162780)

If you ignore the scientists who thought going to the Moon in the first place was a waste of time, not one of them thinks we did anything like a suitable amount of research during Apollo. We don't even know what we don't know about the Moon yet. We can't even ask interesting questions!

Old news in the space development community: (2, Informative)

Hartree (191324) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162138)

Various space advocacy groups have been backing different visons of what type of exploration should be done for quite a long time.

Planetary Society has been pushing Mars rather than return to the moon since at least the late 80s.

At least part of that position was stated to be that a manned Mars mission could be a cooperative effort between the US and the Soviet Union. i.e. A political goal. That's an aspect that doesn't apply quite so much now.

Also, at that time, the Planetary Society was a lot less keen on manned missions than robotic ones. Friedman, Murry and Sagan (the notable founders) were all veterans of the highly successful unmanned planetary probe missions. They tended to view the manned program as a very expensive method that tended to take money away from the robotic probes.

Others disagreed with this viewpoint. The National Space Society, for example, (also populated with former astronauts and space scientists though no one as much of a household name as Sagan) tended to take a more pro manned space viewpoint.

Re:Old news in the space development community: (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#22163612)

could be a cooperative effort between the US and the Soviet Union. i.e. A political goal

No. It's a practical goal. Russia has the launcher and long mission duration technology and the USA has/had the cash and a lot of the other technology that Russia does not have even today. It is likely to be barely relevant if economic and foreign policy own goals continue to be deliberately kicked for the benefit of none but a corrupt few. NASA may well have to follow the Russian model and make ends meet with space tourism.

Bush's -original- plan was the best. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162142)

The original Bush plan under Sean O'Keefe, to build nuclear powered spacecraft, and do JIMO, was ultimately the space program with the largest payoff. The solar system is -big-, and getting there means something more than chemical rockets. Nuclear is the best we have. Unfortunately, Zubrin and company convinced a Republican Congress and Bush that we should go back to the moon now, and to Mars now, which, at best will be the equivalent of sending two guys in a canoe across the Atlantic in the 11th century. Sure, you could do it, but it won't accomplish nothing. To really do Mars right, you need bigger and faster spaceships, and Prometheus is more of a stepping stone to that than Ares will ever be.

Re:Bush's -original- plan was the best. (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#22163772)

Nuclear is the best we have

While I think the idea of nuclear vehicles has a lot of merit this is unfortunately the typical nuclear advocate outright lie. "Nuclear could be the best we could have so let us try something out and see if it works" is not an outright lie and would have been better.

The other bit of exaggeration:

at best will be the equivalent of sending two guys in a canoe across the Atlantic in the 11th century

is a little bit of manipulation that should have been grown out of in the schoolyard. Why can't we have a nuclear advocate with a mature attitude turn up here? Propulsion is a place where it has far more merit than boiling water so an honest argument is going to work better than childish manipulative games.

Space Initiative is nothing but vaporware (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22162226)

I have been saying *all along* that Bush's Space proposal is *pure* vapor. He mentioned it once to leave a scant legacy, he never mentioned it again, and he very trivially increased NASA's budget.

I can't believe how many space enthusiasts took this obvious bait.

Re:Space Initiative is nothing but vaporware (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 6 years ago | (#22163906)

I have been saying *all along* that Bush's Space proposal is *pure* vapor. He mentioned it once to leave a scant legacy, he never mentioned it again, and he very trivially increased NASA's budget.

The problem is that Bush is so unpopular that having him publicly support it would damage the effort, if anything. Also, the whole point isn't to do it with an increased budget, but rather pursue it using the funds diverted from retiring the space shuttle.

That said, even though I think the initial idea was good, Michael Griffin's implementation (e.g. Ares I [wikipedia.org] ) has been pretty disastrous.

Re:Space Initiative is nothing but vaporware (2, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#22164202)

Well, G. W. Bush did kill the Space Shuttle and come up with an exit plan for the ISS (leave in 2016), which is far better an accomplishment in manned space than anything since Lyndon B. Johnson and Apollo. No matter the flaws of Ares, and they are numerous, those programs will never be as wasteful as the Space Shuttle was.

Time to put the VSE in the closet (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 6 years ago | (#22162558)

As for as the VSE, it's time to put it in the closet. The voters don't want it. No-one took it seriously. No-one but China can afford it. All roads lead to renewed basic science, low Earth orbit for humans, & a return to Sean O'Keiff style missions. Smaller, cheaper, full evaluation of all the options before committing money.

Griffin was like John McCain. Act first, then talk. My way or the highway. Maybe he'd be better off running China's moon program.

Target Moon, build lunar base (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 6 years ago | (#22163236)

Unless I see the Government and Industries serious about a Lunar Base where they could mine the Moon, I doubt we'll ever see a Martian Mission, other than more deep probes.

Why vets? (2, Funny)

Askmum (1038780) | more than 6 years ago | (#22164266)

I was really wondering wat vetenarians had to do with missions to Mars. Does NASA plan to send animals along with the ride? Maybe for fresh milk and eggs? Of is it just an experiment to send live-stock up there to see what the influence of zero-gravity has on such animals?

Then it dawned upon me. This is a US site. A vet is something entirely different there.

Mars in less than Six Weeks might would help (1)

ImitationEnergy (993881) | more than 6 years ago | (#22164640)

I guess you guys are right. A lot of technology needs developed on the Moon before sending astronauts to Mars. They would all die, we would get all depressed like it was freezing the Challenger crew instead of a burnup. There are, however, good reasons to think getting to Mars in 6 weeks {or less} is likely: ../tellingthetruthaboutantigravityfromanonscientistnewtimelineviewof12182007.pdf [newpath4.com] .
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