Aviation Week: No lunar base?

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docm

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From AviationWeek.com....<br /><br />Link....<br /><br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p><b>Space Leaders Work To Replace Lunar Base With Manned Asteroid Missions<br /><br />Jan 18, 2008<br /><br />By Craig Covault</b><br /><br /><b><font color="yellow">Some of the most influential leaders of the space community are quietly working to offer the next U.S. president an alternative to President Bush's "vision for space exploration"--one that would delete a lunar base and move instead toward manned missions to asteroids along with a renewed emphasis on Earth environmental spacecraft.<br /><br />Top U.S. planetary scientists, several astronauts and former NASA division directors will meet privately at Stanford University on Feb. 12-13 to define these sweeping changes to the NASA/Bush administration Vision for Space Exploration (VSE).<br /><br />Abandoning the Bush lunar base concept in favor of manned asteroid landings could also lead to much earlier manned flights to Mars orbit, where astronauts could land on the moons Phobos or Deimos.</font></b><br /><br />Their goals for a new array of missions also include sending astronauts to Lagrangian points, 1 million mi. from Earth, where the Earth's and Sun's gravity cancel each other out and spacecraft such as replacements for the Hubble Space Telescope could be parked and serviced much like Hubble.<br /><br />The "alternate vision" the group plans to offer would urge far greater private-sector incentives to make ambitious human spaceflight plans a reality.<br /><br />There would also be some different "winners and losers" compared with the Bush vision. If the lunar base is deleted, the Kennedy Space Center could lose additional personnel because there would be fewer Ares V launches and no</p></blockquote> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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baktothemoon

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I think what this article really highlights is the fatal flaw in nasa: they can only do one thing at a time. If we want to go to the moon, aparently we can only go to the moon. If we want to go to an asteroid, we can't go to the moon. Sooner or later someone is going to say, "if you want to go to mars, you can't go to an asteroid". After that we'll have the traditional nasa nail in the coffin, congress will say it's too expensive and we'll end up back doing "green" projects like more earth science and endlessly studying the effects of microgravity in LEO. THis is going to be a death spiral.
 
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hewes

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Wouldn't the Moon make a great test bed for landing on, and eventually mining, asteroids, if that's what you wanted to do? I'm just askin'. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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scottb50

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Wouldn't the Moon make a great test bed for landing on, and eventually mining, asteroids, if that's what you wanted to do?>>><br /><br />Yes it has, 30 years ago. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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JonClarke

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Asteroids and lagrange points are such wonderful places to test Mars exploration issues like EVA systems, rovers station construction, partial gravity research - not.<br /><br />There are lots of good reasons to go to the Moon, lots of good reasons to go to the asteroids and Lagrane points too . They are complementary not competing destinations.<br /><br />Jon <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Whether we become a multi-planet species with unlimited horizons, or are forever confined to Earth will be decided in the twenty-first century amid the vast plains, rugged canyons and lofty mountains of Mars</em>  Arthur Clarke</p> </div>
 
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radarredux

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> <i><font color="yellow">the fatal flaw in nasa: they can only do one thing at a time.</font>/i><br /><br />I don't know if I would use the word "fatal", but I agree with the premise. The biggest risk of building a "permanent" lunar base is that it will consume lots of resources and lock NASA into supporting it for a long time.<br /><br />If you read NASA's own slides, they are pretty circumspect about committing themselves as to what they want to do on the Moon or how long they will be there. Most of the talk of a permanent lunar base comes from the popular media. I suspect NASA says something to the effect "we could do this" and it get reported as "we will do this".<br /><br />By focusing on NEO missions, NASA wouldn't end up getting locked into ISS on the Moon. I generally think NEOs, maybe with Lunar sorties and a fair amount of robotics (e.g., to verify interesting locations on the Moon or interesting NEOs before sending humans) is a good mixture.</i>
 
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JonClarke

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<i>I think what this article really highlights is the fatal flaw in nasa: they can only do one thing at a time.</i><br /><br />It's not a flaw but a consequence of the funding and direction. If they get funding and direction to doing more than one thing, they can.<br /><br />Jon <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Whether we become a multi-planet species with unlimited horizons, or are forever confined to Earth will be decided in the twenty-first century amid the vast plains, rugged canyons and lofty mountains of Mars</em>  Arthur Clarke</p> </div>
 
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JonClarke

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<i>So, just let the private sector to do the base.</i><br /><br />The private sector will built the base anyway. NASA does not build anything, it contracts out the work. But the private sector won't do anything unless there is a profit. Unless they are paid to build a lunar base they won't build one, as there is no economic rationale for one.<br /><br />Jon <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Whether we become a multi-planet species with unlimited horizons, or are forever confined to Earth will be decided in the twenty-first century amid the vast plains, rugged canyons and lofty mountains of Mars</em>  Arthur Clarke</p> </div>
 
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spacester

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Covault is an excellent writer.<br /><br />Two days ago I wrote:<br /><br /><font color="yellow">. . . we need a leader committed to listening and responding to the interests of the stakeholders, synthesizing a broadly supported vision and then taking charge of getting it funded and managed properly.</font><br /><br />Today I read this.<br /><br />Cool.<br /><br />Scott Hubbard for NASA Administrator? <img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" /><br /><br />Today is the day I throw Mike Griffin under the bus. I was your biggest fan here, Mikey, but you let me down. You said you'd done your homework on the Stick. But you did the hand-waving thing on thrust oscillations, didn't you? And you let ATK take you to the cleaners. Friggin dubya appointee anyway, you're no better than all the other incompetents in this administration.<br /><br />Everyone told me that VSE was doomed at the start of the next admin, presumably cuz it'll be democratic. A sensible theory, but I tried to fight it. I thought Mikey was the real deal.<br /><br />In a lot of ways, Mr. Griffin was the right guy to come after O'Keefe. But he turned into an emperor like Psycho Dan. Under the bus with him then!<br /><br />Just like my man Mike did at the start, these guys are saying all the right things! Dare I get enthusiastic about them too? Can they get it done?<br /><br />It all comes down to lack of funding by Congresscritters. Can this group turn that thing around by getting people excited about asteroids?<br /><br />NEAs are my first love in space development, so I wouldn't mind a bit shifting to this new direction. They're saying all the right things. Again. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br />The good news is that this frees me up to unload my criticisms of VSE. <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /> But I'll wait a while first, it's not dead yet, just doomed, and there's nothing to be gained from piling on.<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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kelvinzero

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I didnt see much of a case for sending people.<br /><br />What really interests me about the lunar plan is possibly setting up infrastructure. Im guessing there would be none of that for asteroids since I guess they spend years on the opposite side of the sun. Visits would be oportunistic.<br /><br />From the way people talk I often get the impression that they feel that landing on the moon will somehow create a moon industry, sending people to asteroids would create an asteroid mining industry or sending enough people to mars would teach us to live there.<br /><br />In fact going there has very little to do with developing these abilities. If there was any genuine intention of doing any of these things the first 80% of the work could be done right here on earth with simulated regolith before discussing which target was superior.<br /><br />Does anyone happen to know what sort of research budget goes into life support systems and ISRU compared to building the launchers and space craft?
 
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spacester

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<font color="yellow">Does anyone happen to know what sort of research budget goes into life support systems and ISRU compared to building the launchers and space craft?</font><br /><br />CELSS (Closed Environment Life Support Systems) research exists. It's poorly funded but there are folks soldiering away with limited facilities.<br /><br />AFAIK and hopefully someone will prove me wrong, ISRU is currently practically non-existent in terms of active research. Under VSE, we work on that after Orion flies and while Ares V is developed. That's my understanding anyway.<br /><br /><font color="yellow">In fact going there has very little to do with developing these abilities. If there was any genuine intention of doing any of these things the first 80% of the work could be done right here on earth with simulated regolith before discussing which target was superior. </font><br /><br />Good point. I used to argue that it would be silly to send crew to the NEAs, because mining operations cannot support the cost of life support, i.e. they have to be robotic to be profitable. At that time (before VSE, it was SLI in those days), I assumed there was almost no chance of NASA going there on behalf of the interests of asteroid prospectors.<br /><br />But that is the reason it makes sense to envision CEV touring a series of NEAs: the variety of objects has been so far extremely diverse, a trend I predict will only increase. <br /><br />That means we need to go to a bunch of objects out there to identify targets for the various possible mining operations. The best way to evaluate these sites is with humans on situ.<br /><br />As far as a moon industry goes, there still is a compelling and effective rationale to support it. The trouble is, the first step is for everyone who matters to take my word for it. LOL <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /> <br />***<br />The following was written as part of this post, but I'm going to start a thread with it. If you don't mind, I'd like to ke <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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gunsandrockets

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Interesting article, thanx for the update.<br /><br />I read this article with a critical eye, and several warning flags caught my attention. The first warning flag was the continued reference to "the Bush lunar base concept", what the heck? The Bush concept? Bush didn't have anything to do with details like the lunar base concept, that level of planning was all NASAs doing. The only detail Bush provided for the Vision for Space Exploration was that NASA should go to the Moon, Mars and beyond!<br /><br />Then there is the warning flag of "along with a renewed emphasis on Earth environmental spacecraft."<br /><br />What all this smells like to me is that some people who are anticipating a change in Party alignment of the next President are alreadly scheming for cutting back on manned space exploration in order to fund space telescopes and Earth observation satellites. The talk of manned missions to NEA and Mars is really just pretty talk to distract the unwary from the real objectives of the "alternate plan".<br /><br />Getting rid of a lunar base would not speed up a manned mission to the surface of Mars. There are too many key unknowns to safely conduct a Mars surface mission. Many of those unknowns are best answered by lunar base experience.<br /><br />And lunar plans do not get in the way of a near Earth asteroid mission. In fact an Asteroid mission could precede the first lunar mission depending on how stretched out development of some lunar surface elements becomes.<br /><br />This whole "revision" of VSE has a suspicious stink about it.<br /><br />Now don't get me wrong, I am a big critic of NASA's ESAS scheme myself and I believe NASA could get more bang for it's buck. But I am a staunch supporter of VSE too, so I don't want to see manned space exploration bucks or ambitious manned exploration goals sacrificed on a green altar. <br /><br /> <br /><br />
 
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bobunf

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It cost about $10 billion (in current dollars) apiece to send men to the moon in the 1970s. It still costs about $10 million to send people into low Earth orbit. If we could somehow get people to the moon and back for the same $10 million, I think the market for your playground would be very limited. Even if you gave family discounts.<br /><br />There are only about 90,000 people in the world with assets in excess of $30 million and most of them are probably past space faring age. Most of the rest probably aren’t interested.<br /><br />But even if you could get 1% (a very good marketing success in the travel industry) over a ten year period that would still be revenue of only $900 million per year—about 5% of NASA’s current budget. Even under all of these super optimistic assumptions, it doesn’t seem like that would be enough money to build and maintain a moon base by two or three orders of magnitude.<br /><br />Bob<br />
 
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halman

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docm,<br /><br />Thank you for this link!<br /><br />For some reason, I just don't understand. Why is it that when certain people talk about going back to the Moon they seem to envision a NASA-only presence there, when every other mission they describe is loaded with opportunity for the private sector? Wouldn't NASA be looking for contractors to take over the operation of the base as soon as possible? Wouldn't the operation of a lunar shuttle be privatized within a short time of it being test flown? Wouldn't exploration surveys be done by private companies? Wouldn't the high launch rate needed to support establishing a base encourage private development of launch capacity?<br /><br />I am all for visiting Near-Earth Objects, but the way that I understand it, such a mission would be limited to a single body, and would only be there for a short time before it had to return to Earth. And such missions would not occur with great frequency, because most NEOs are only near Earth for short times. Now, if we had a manned station at L1 with a ship that could handle such missions, we could sample many more than if we launch each mission from Earth. But maintaining a human presence at L1 is likely to be expensive, and all of the paybacks will be in the form of knowledge for some time to come.<br /><br />I am not knocking knowledge, but I firmly believe that making space pay even partially for itself is going to require creating products which simply cannot be made anywhere else. No other business model makes sense to me, because they all seem to require endless investment with no capital return. Even a small capital return will justify continuing a long-term program, especially one which has great promise. And materials processing in space offers tremendous promise, I believe, because what can be made in zero-gravity can have a substantial impact on how we live on Earth.<br /><br />Foamed aluminum components could be made even lighter than carbon construction, allowing super <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
 
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mattblack

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I read the article and I have mixed feelings about it, as losing a Lunar outpost and its associated equipment would be a blow -- the Moon is something people can at least understand, they are familiar with. But unless <br />they're space enthusiasts like us, asteroids are just small rocks in the sky you just fly up to and virtually dock with and then do... What?!! I know its not actually that simple, but the Moon at least is a world in its own right. <br /><br />Although Mars represents a much more desirable destination than either the Moon or an Asteroid, I think people and ESPECIALLY politicians would get bored more quickly with visits to "Space Rocks in the sky". Then how would one justify shelling out mega billions extra for Mars missions when the equipment for <br />Asteroid surveys is even less adaptable to Mars than Lunar spacecraft would have been?<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p>One Percent of Federal Funding For Space: America <strong><em><u>CAN</u></em></strong> Afford it!!  LEO is a <strong><em>Prison</em></strong> -- It's time for a <em><strong>JAILBREAK</strong></em>!!</p> </div>
 
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Swampcat

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<font color="yellow">"Not true ulesss your 'one thing' means manned and unmanned space missions, aeronautics and research in multiple areas."</font><br /><br />S_G, I don't think he was implying that at all. The idea is that there is only so much money available and that this imposes restrictions on the number of places NASA can build and maintain activites.<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="3" color="#ff9900"><p><font size="1" color="#993300"><strong><em>------------------------------------------------------------------- </em></strong></font></p><p><font size="1" color="#993300"><strong><em>"I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government."</em></strong></font></p><p><font size="1" color="#993300"><strong>Thomas Jefferson</strong></font></p></font> </div>
 
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kyle_baron

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<font color="yellow"><br />Opening up a new frontier means learning how to extract wealth from it as soon as possible. We probably can find resources which will be easier to extract once we develop a catalog of NEO's, but the meantime, we could be extracting resources from the Moon, and making money off of it. Creation of wealth is the name of the game, because greed is what drives investment. As long as space exploration is viewed as primarily a quest for scientific knowledge, funding is going to be difficult to obtain. If off planet exploitation becomes recognized as a way to make money, then getting money will be no problem. </font><br /><br />I agree 100%. There has to be an economic reason to exploit another world, for the benefits of the rest of us stranded on Earth. I saw a program on the moon where they heated just the moon dust to a temperature of about 800 Deg. F and got water out of it! From there you have oxygen for breathing and hydrogen for rocket fuel. There are also large deposits of titanium that was already mapped on the moon (for vehicles, structures, etc.). I doubt you'd get any of this from an asteroid (although I could be wrong), and definitly not from L1.<br /><br />One last comment. Why does NASA have to do it alone? Why not swallow your pride, and team up with the ESA, and just do it! <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="4"><strong></strong></font></p> </div>
 
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j05h

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Wouldn't it make sense to send a couple of rovers into Shackleton Crater before committing to base development there?<br /><br />josh <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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That sure makes sense to me! <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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radarredux

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> <i><font color="yellow">Wouldn't it make sense to send a couple of rovers into Shackleton Crater before committing to base development there?</font>/i><br /><br />I think we will know a lot more in about 18 months. By then results from LRO will have started coming in and have been analyzed a little, and the new President will have submitted his/her first budget giving us an idea of their priorities on the manned space program. We may have a new NASA administrator by then too.<br /><br />IMHO, the biggest advantage of Shackleton Crater is the near continuous sunlight along the rim allowing an outpost to be powered by solar cells instead of a nuclear power plant (which has the potential to be expensive and politically dangerous).<br /><br />Also, I strongly support the idea of sending robotics first to almost anywhere you plan to send a human. Unfortunately, other than LRO, I think NASA has killed all the Lunar robotics plans.</i>
 
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JonClarke

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Since we have extensive experience in Lunar surface operations, and will have 10 cm scale images from LRO robotic precursors to planned landing sites are redundant.<br /><br />It would be better to send robots to places we don't plan to go.<br /><br />Jon <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Whether we become a multi-planet species with unlimited horizons, or are forever confined to Earth will be decided in the twenty-first century amid the vast plains, rugged canyons and lofty mountains of Mars</em>  Arthur Clarke</p> </div>
 
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baktothemoon

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>Not true ulesss your "one thing" means manned and unmanned space missions, aeronautics and research in multiple areas<br /><br />I was referring to how nasa's manned spaceflight program can only go in a single direction at a time and has to completely abandon everything it's previously done to do something else, ex: cancelling moonflight to build shuttle, now giving up moon to go to NEO's.<br /><br />By the way, wouldn't missions to NEO's be a couple of orders of magnitiude more difficult and expensive than building a moon base anyway?
 
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radarredux

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> <i><font color="yellow">It would be better to send robots to places we don't plan to go.</font>/i><br /><br />I might agree with that, but the MERs have shown that there is a lot of interesting and unexpected geology that could be found on the surface which was not visible from orbit.<br /><br />Also, a lot would depend on what type of robotic program NASA could put together. If they build only a small number of expensive robots, then I would strongly go with sending them where we don't plan to send humans. However, if many relatively standard, relatively inexpensive rovers or landers could be built and sent to many sites, then I would prefer some go to planned manned locations.<br /><br />However, at this point all this discussion is academic.</i>
 
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halman

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RadarRedux,<br /><br />We have got to adopt an attitude that we are going to the Moon, no matter what, and we will go to a place that is suitable for a central base, as well as a magnetic catapult launcher. Whether or not there is water in Shackleton is immaterial to the goal of returning to the Moon, because it is a secondary objective. Presenting a united face to those who question the entire idea makes our case stronger, I believe. Once we get to the Moon, justifying sending an exploration team to the South Pole will be far easier, in my opinion.<br /><br />But the existence of water on the Moon would be a bonus, not a reason in and of itself to go there. We need to go there to learn to extract and utilize resources, not to explore. The wealth generated from mastering these new skills will pay for all the exploration that we can conceive, at least within the Solar System. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
 
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