Moon exploration dead?

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alokmohan

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This past week has given me confirmation of something that has been a growing dread and suspicion by many of us in the space community regarding our latest return to the Moon effort. The Vision for Space Exploration (VSE) is being suffocated. It is literally having the life choked out of it. <br /><br />I was around as a student in 1992 when our previous, presidentially-blessed effort, the Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) died. SEI did not die a death like a car wreck, it died a slow-motion death, where the inevitably tragic outcome was<br />
 
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alokmohan

Guest
This past week has given me confirmation of something that has been a growing dread and suspicion by many of us in the space community regarding our latest return to the Moon effort. The Vision for Space Exploration (VSE) is being suffocated. It is literally having the life choked out of it. <br /><br />I was around as a student in 1992 when our previous, presidentially-blessed effort, the Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) died. SEI did not die a death like a car wreck, it died a slow-motion death, where the inevitably tragic outcome washttp://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.nl.html?id=1254<br />
 
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MannyPim

Guest
I would not say it's dead but maybe we should not be looking for NASA to bring us back there.<br /><br />It looks like quite a bit more of "organizational transformation" is needed if NASA is going to deliver on it's mission.<br /><br />Not to be unfair, our politicians have much to answer for as well.... <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="2" color="#0000ff"><em>The only way to know what is possible is to attempt the impossible.</em></font> </div>
 
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scottb50

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I think the main focus should be Mars. If the moon can reasonably be used then it might be worthwhile going back, but I don't see that being the case.<br /><br />I can see putting telescopes on the moon as a worthy endevour but that should not distract from reaching Mars. Even though the rovers, and other missions have returned a lot of data a manned mission or at least a material return mission is needed before definitive information can be gathered. What Spirit and Opportunity have done could have been done in a few week with people on the ground.<br /><br />Not that the moon shouldn't be explored, it's just it has and while interesting, I don't think it should be a priority. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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willpittenger

Guest
Maybe, but I like the idea of using the Moon to test lander and base systems. You can only do so much in LEO. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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scottb50

Guest
We have tested a bunch of landers and a base station would be pretty much the same as the ISS and MIR, so we know what we need to do. The rovers pretty much define the operating conditions overall so I don't see testing on the moon as essential. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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mattblack

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Then do your best (and all of us) to ensure that doesn't happen. <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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willpittenger

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Going to the moon would also allow us to test having people away from civilization with little ability to bring them back quickly. Even so, that "bring back" ability would be much faster than any Mars mission.<br /><br />Benefits:<li>Learning about medical conditions when you can't diagnose from Earth. (Hence, you have to have an onsite doctor when possible. Such a doctor is a requirement for a Mars crew to some people.)<li>Finding ways to learn about crew compatibility before you send the crew.<br /><br /><br />I should also note that ISS can't test how to land a base on a planet like we can with the Moon. Finally, the landers we have tested are either way smaller and designed for remotely operated machines or happen to be nearly 40 years old in design.</li></li> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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qso1

Guest
"The reasons given are many, the deficit, the need to fund "other" priorities, and the thought that space will always be there and we can do it later when we solve our problems here on the Earth. Each of these reasons have a common unstated rational, that space is not something to spend money on as it is not a priority and does nothing to solve our problems here on the Earth."<br /><br />In the authors comments above can be found one or any combinations of reasons (Excuses) that are always given to stall new human spacefilght initiatives, even when times seem to be good. After all, no human mars mission was proposed and approved in 2000 when we had a $236B dollar surplus. Of course, even if it were...it would be dying now that we have Iraq and the deficit as excuses. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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no_way

Guest
No the moon exploration is not dead. Google lunar x-prize has two teams signed up, and likely more are to come. <br /><br />EDIT: correction, one team officially registered, i.e. signed up, with another serious entrants announced intent.
 
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qso1

Guest
I agree, I don't say its dead for sure, just that NASA probably won't get approval for the VSE. I hope the private sector revives lunar exploration which is comatose for now or extremely sleepy. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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themanwithoutapast

Guest
"I would not say it's dead but maybe we should not be looking for NASA to bring us back there."<br /><br />Yes, let's wait that the Martians come to us and take us for a free ride back to their home planet!
 
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MeteorWayne

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Gee, didn't know you were a student in 1992 <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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MannyPim

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Thanks....!<br />This entire discussion was stalling until you showed up with your brilliant commentary.<br /><br />What other words of wisdom would you be so gracious as to share with us ? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="2" color="#0000ff"><em>The only way to know what is possible is to attempt the impossible.</em></font> </div>
 
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jsmoody

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I don't think we should send manned missions to the Moon nor to Mars at the expense of other, more fruitful scientific missions. Too many important scientific endeavors have been cancelled or delayed already because of it. The macho, Buck Rogers syndrome to get men on the Moon and Mars is just that, show-off and "just so we can say we did it" nonsense. <br /><br />I see several problems beyond the EXTREME expense of such endeavors, not the least of which is the radiation hazard. Cosmic rays will kill an astronaut long before they could get to Mars and back. And they're almost impossible to stop. Currently we don't have the technology to protect agains them.<br /><br />But what is the all-fired rush to get people on the Moon and Mars. We did that (to the Moon) with Apollo. People got bored with it and saw no realy scientific payoff so it was cancelled. What's the hurry????!!! Sometime in the future we'll have better technology. Cheaper, more efficient, faster, safer technology, so why waste hundreds of billions of dollars and risk people's lives unnecessarily???? I don't get it. And I certainly don't buy the "Because it's there!" or "So we can say we did it." nonsense. And so far, that's all I can see as a reason for going.<br /><br />Let's send more robots. They're doing a wonderful job. We don't need to squander resourses and risk lives, the robots will do it at a tiny fraction of the cost. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> No amount of belief makes something a fact" - James Randi </div>
 
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bdewoody

Guest
After watching the show "Big Science" last night, it was about the moon, I believe that IF and WHEN the scientists have produced a fusion reactor that is commercially practical going back to the moon and establishing a permanent base there will not only be be desireable it will also be profitable.<br /><br />It was discussed that the big reason a Helium3 reactor is the most desireable is that the reaction involving He3 does not produce destructive neutrons as a byproduct of the reaction as does the other type of fuel.<br /><br />In the other types these neutrons end up destroying the walls of the containment vessel making a long term reactor less practical.<br /><br />Harrison Schmidt truly believes that mining H3 on the moon will be a profitable venture, and believes that is why Russia and China are planning bases on the moon.<br /><br />The bonus of having bases on the moon will be the economics of sending spacecraft to the rest of the solar system from there. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <em><font size="2">Bob DeWoody</font></em> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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Incredible. you make a duplicate of your own thread!!! <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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MannyPim

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<font color="yellow"> I don't think we should send manned missions to the Moon nor to Mars at the expense of other, more fruitful scientific missions. Too many important scientific endeavors have been cancelled or delayed already because of it. </font><br /><br />Greetings jsmoody.... and welcome to SDC !<br /><br />What do you say to the idea that the amount and quality of science we can do on the Moon and in space will be thousands or millions of times more and better once the Moon becomes just another easily accessible location ?<br />And would you also say that our manned Antartica installations are not worth the expense ?<br /><br />I am not challenging your views. The points you make are reasonable and should be addressed. <br />I am interested in your responses.<br /><br /><font color="yellow"> I see several problems beyond the EXTREME expense of such endeavors, not the least of which is the radiation hazard. Cosmic rays will kill an astronaut long before they could get to Mars and back. And they're almost impossible to stop. Currently we don't have the technology to protect agains them. <br /></font><br /><br />Here I think is a perfect example of how developing and maturing technologies on the Moon will help and virtually eliminate the radiation problem.<br /><br />It's not that it is beyond our technology to fully protect the astronauts. IT is primarily a problem of mass.<br />We know how to shield people from cosmic rays and various technologies have been proposed which are very feasible. We can use polyethylene (which is essentially nothing more than plastic garbage bags), we can use water and we can use electrostatic fields against charged particles. <br />The problem is that it would take hundreds of tons of the materials to create a safe radiation environment. And of course, launch costs being what they are, that becomes a very EXPENSIVE proposition.<br />But radiation is not a show stopper here. Launch costs are (so far).<br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="2" color="#0000ff"><em>The only way to know what is possible is to attempt the impossible.</em></font> </div>
 
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jsmoody

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Thanks MannyPim, you make some valid points. I don't have time to address them all right now but I will later. But I just recently saw a documentary where they talked about how powerful cosmic rays are and currently there is no technology that could be used in spacecraft to stop them. The thickness of whatever material they tried to use would cause the weight factor to be prohibitive. They said that was the major stumbling block at the present time.<br /><br />Cosmic rays can do a LOT of tissue damage. <br /><br />Don't get me wrong, I would LOVE to see us have bases on the Moon. And a humongous telescope on the farside. That would be great. The problem is, that to get people there, do the construction, do the maintenance and crew rotations, etc. etc. etc. would be ridiculously expensive - IN THE NEAR FUTURE (wish I could use itallics!). My question still stands...what the heck is the rush???? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> No amount of belief makes something a fact" - James Randi </div>
 
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j05h

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<i>> Maybe, but I like the idea of using the Moon to test lander and base systems. You can only do so much in LEO.</i><br /><br />Where on the Moon can you test the typical Mars heatshield-backshell-parachute-retros lander design? Luna's lack of atmosphere makes many systems significantly different than Mars systems need to be. You might get away with the same module shell/hull but a Moon base is going to need different cooling than Mars bases. Earth's Arctic regions are better Mars analogs than the Moon, and much much cheaper to test equipment and operations. Only so much can be done on the Moon. <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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CalliArcale

Guest
That occasionally happens when the hamsters powering Uplink hiccup. <img src="/images/icons/tongue.gif" /> I'll lock this one, since the other one has more replies. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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j05h

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<i>> But I just recently saw a documentary where they talked about how powerful cosmic rays are and currently there is no technology that could be used in spacecraft to stop them. The thickness of whatever material they tried to use would cause the weight factor to be prohibitive. They said that was the major stumbling block at the present time. </i><br /><br />Water, that high-tech material, is a perfect shield against radiation. Cosmic rays (vs solar particles) are few and far between. The real threat is solar storms, and that is why all reasonable proposals for spaceflight include "storm shelters". Radiation protection is a design issue, not a technology stumbling block. <br /><br /><i>> Cosmic rays can do a LOT of tissue damage. </i><br /><br />Yes, but they also are fairly rare and tend to pass completely through flesh (unlike solar particles). These are workable issues.<br /><br /><i>> My question still stands...what the heck is the rush????</i><br /><br />There is no rush. Assuming that NASA actually reaches the Moon, it will be almost twice as long from start to success as Apollo. It's a slow, budget-choked crawl not a rush. Saying that it will be cheaper in the future is no panacea, as that means other parties get there first (this time around). <br /><br />The problem for the VSE is that Bush and Marburger said "Go to the Moon and on to Mars, open the Solar System up to our economic sphere)". NASA took the mandate and instead of starting by building the Moon hardware and flying it on existing rockets, they are stumbling over building redundant launch capability. The could already be building the LSAM if they wanted, but are blinded by the false "need" for Heavy Lift.<br /><br />You can make links, colors, emoticons and italics using brackets and HTML-like UBB code:<br /><br />http://uplink.space.com/faq_english.php?Cat=#html<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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jsmoody

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Sorry but everything I've seen on cosmic rays says there isn't much that can be done to protect against them.<br /><br />See this article: <br /><br />http://www.earthtym.net/spacemyth.htm<br /><br />Which states:<br /><br />"There is no known technically available, economical, and lightweight portable or human designed barrier to cosmic rays." <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> No amount of belief makes something a fact" - James Randi </div>
 
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MannyPim

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<font color="yellow"> Sorry but everything I've seen on cosmic rays says there isn't much that can be done to protect against them. </font><br /><br />This is not so.<br /><br /><font color="yellow"><br />See this article: <br /><br />http://www.earthtym.net/spacemyth.htm <br /><br />Which states: <br /><br />"There is no known technically available, economical, and lightweight portable or human designed barrier to cosmic rays." </font><br /><br />This is true. But all you have to do is to take out the word "lightweight" and it becomes a false statement.<br /><br />As mentioned earlier: water is a very effective shield material. And polyethylene, although not as good as water, is also extremely effective. Basically any material with large quantities of hydrogen will work well.<br />They are not lightweight but they will protect against cosmic rays. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="2" color="#0000ff"><em>The only way to know what is possible is to attempt the impossible.</em></font> </div>
 
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jsmoody

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Wouldn't any kind of protection on a spacecraft have to be lightweight and portable???<br /><br />Tons of moon rock and dirt would work on the moon, if you want to live underground, but that wouldn't exactly be feasable for a spacecraft.<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> No amount of belief makes something a fact" - James Randi </div>
 
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