NASA Lost On The Moon!

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halman

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Apparently, without any further input from the administration, NASA is having to try to prepare for almost any possible type of expedition to the Moon. Planners at NASA dare not assume a permanent base will be built, unless it can walk, and are having to develop mission scenarios where all that is done on the Moon is test equipment for use on Mars.<br /><br />Of course, everyone will blame NASA for wasting money by planning all of these different types of missions, but without further guidance from the Oval Office, NASA has no choice.<br /><br />Can't we do something RIGHT for once, and accept that the Moon has nothing to do with going to Mars, and everything to do with learning how to live and work in space, irregardless of the place? If we did not send a Mission to Mars until 2150, it would have no great impact on expanding the frontiers of the human race. If we pass by the Moon again in our haste to prove that we can go where we want, the future of the American space program will be in doubt.<br /><br />Exploration must be followed by development and exploitation if the exploration is to pay for itself. We went to the Moon before we were ready to do anything with it. Let us not make the same mistake with Mars. We must take gradual steps, solidifying our position as we go, if we are to truly expand out into the Solar System.<br /><br />We are amazingly fortunate to have a natural satellite such as the Earth's Moon right on our doorstep. If we had to traverse interplanetary space before we could establish a base off-world, it wauld be much more difficult, and probably a lot more dangerous. The Moon allows us to develop techniques for surviving in a hostile environment without having a supply line millions of miles and months of time long. The Moon also provides us with vast amounts of resources, resources which will become invaluable as the size of our off-planet expeditions grow. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
 
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Swampcat

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<font color="yellow">"...having to develop mission scenarios where all that is done on the Moon is test equipment for use on Mars."</font><br /><br />I can't recall where I read it (probably spaceflightnow.com), but I get the impression that it's not just about testing equipment for use on Mars. The idea is to design everything so that it can be used for Mars missions as well as Lunar missions. It can be argued that this is not cost effective in the short term Moon phase, but IMHO it makes a lot of sense if the whole point of this "vision" is to create spacefaring infrastructure. <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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spacester

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"(B)ut IMHO it makes a lot of sense if the whole point of this "vision" is to create space faring infrastructure"<br /><br />The gravity difference is significant, so I would expect that most equipment(*) would have at least two versions: Moon, Mars, possibly orbital. So they want to make it into the job of developing a general solution, about three times the effort (or more) required to develop a mission-specific solution. Maybe that's justified and would produce more robust infrastructure, hard to say. I do like the idea of having hardware that works in all environments no matter what.<br /><br />(*) - Structural needs change the frame, fluid systems work differently, not to mention ambient conditions and dust storms on Mars.<br /><br />Among many other engineering considerations (huge post required) leading towards mission-specific solutions is the "fact" that Mars is the home of the great galactic ghoul. It does not allow shoddy equipment to survive, or even arrive sometimes. So my hunch is that you'll need to design Mars-specific hardware anyway.<br /><br />At any rate, if the gummint sticks with the it-works-anywhere model, they will find themselves left in the moon dust by private enterprise. How long after space tourism reaches the next level do you think it will take before lunar hotels are on the drawing boards for real? Long before tourists show up, a lot of revenue-generating activity is in play once launch costs come down. Everything that flies privately will be mission-specific and more efficient. This gummint program appears to me to be unsustainable.<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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spacester

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First, for the record, my position on the eternal Moon Versus Mars Debate is simple and I will try to talk everyone into agreeing with me if I have to: "Both" <img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" /> Now, on with the post.<br /><br />halman, nice post. Just remember we are in an election year, it's all a holding pattern right now. It's nice to know the endless studies done over the years are getting updated and advanced by all the folks working on this shell game from dubya. Kerry will be looking for a vision thing in space before too long, I'll wager, then we can put together an actual plan for all these things they're working on.<br /><br />"Exploration must be followed by development and exploitation if the exploration is to pay for itself."<br /><br />Makes sense to me. My vision is to minimize the exploration and move right into development and exploitation with the early missions. You can even have the exploration work with and sometimes actually be packaged as . . . entertainment. All we need is CATS.<br /><br />Again, nice post, visionary but sound logic at the same time.<br /> <br />Hang in there, the democrat will do fine.<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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lunatic133

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>First, for the record, my position on the eternal Moon Versus Mars Debate is simple and I will try to talk everyone into agreeing with me if I have to: "Both" <p><hr /></p></p></blockquote> <br />Amen to that <img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" /><br /><br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>Hang in there, the democrat will do fine. <p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />I wouldn't be so sure about that. SDC itself had an interview with Kerry not too long ago (there was a thread on it but it was lost in the crash) and he was pretty clear in saying that the only thing we have the right to be doing in space is exactly what we've BEEN doing for the past 30 years -- more shuttle, more ISS, more stagnation.<br /><br />The only good news I can see is that this is coming from the man who also was quite clear in saying he supported the war in Iraq, quite clear in saying he was against it, quite clear in saying he thinks abortion is wrong, quite clear in saying he believes in a woman's right to choose. So, perhaps, he won't remain against the opening and/or exploration of space forever.
 
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spacester

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For those with nuanced positions on complicated positions (i.e. they thought about it for their own self), the polarized world of sound bites and gotcha journalism is a difficult communication medium. Kerry has the challenge of fending off dubya's attacks, which take advantage of this social dysfunction. Are you sure he flip-flops, or do you just think that because you've been told to think that? Sorry, just asking . . . <br /><br />Um, is this off topic or too political? I can't tell.<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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lunatic133

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I don't know if he does or he doesn't, but I do HOPE that he does, because if he doesn't, then my GRANDKIDS won't see another moon landing much less my generation.
 
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starfhury

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Halman,<br /><br />Keep hope alive. If we don't the next generation won't have much to look forward to. It does appear making this Bush space vision thing a reality is going to be tough. On my fronts, Bush appears as a weak inept president. No incoming president displacing him will want to be associated with any of his visions. Kerry will most likely scrap Bush vision and start another round of study ad infinitum. It's a shame Bush did not propose his vision as soon as he entered office. That would have gotten the ball rolling far enough along to prevent derailment.<br /><br />We actually have a dilemna. Uncle Sam has the money, but neither the stomach nor will to risk it all to make space happen, while the private sector, open to more risks just does not have sufficient incentives along with financing to make space happen any time soon. They need each other to succeed but there has been a tremedous lack of good working efficiency between them to make space happen.<br /><br />I think that Congress needs to create an Act or Law writing space exploration into the fabric of government and society as a whole so that programs can be push to completion and not arbitraily derailed at the wimp of a sitting president. The vision needs to be removed from the presidency and written into the government structure like taxes are. Well, that won't happen, but we can hope. That would atleast ensure a vigorous pursuit of space exploration and exploitation over an extended time frame.<br /><br />Of course, none of that matters if we can't create or make available the technology which will make travel into space possible. Bush vision and Project Constellation is all well and good, but the fact remains we don't have sufficient technology available yet to travel into space cost sensible. Until then, any grand vision of space colonization and utilization will collapse at the slightest disturbance since the foundation are so shaky and have been since the beginning. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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arobie

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<font color="yellow">"while the private sector, open to more risks just does not have sufficient incentives along with financing to make space happen any time soon"</font><br /><br />I don't know, the impression that I have gotten is that the private sector IS making space happen, and that their plans are advancing quickly.
 
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halman

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starfhury,<br /><br />I am steadfast in my belief that space exploitation is the only hope that our country has of holding on to its place as a technological society. We are losing our industrial capacity, our engineering abilities, and our willingness to learn. If we want to have a hand in shaping the future, we must be willing to invest in making that future possible. This is an issue which transcends politics, even though politicans will probably be the last to realize that. <br /><br />At the core of this debate is the nature of space exploration. Are we doing scientific research, such as what would have been performed at the Super Conducting Super Collider, or are we exploring territory we wish to utilize, as the Lewis and Clark expedition did? I believe that we are exploring territory we wish to utilize, but I think that I am in the minority. It seems to me that most people consider space exploration as scientific research, to be allocated funds when funds are available.<br /><br />If the very future of this nation is dependent upon expanding off-planet, as I believe, then funding this enterprise is not optional. I believe that President Bush was pressured into making his declaration of a grand vision by people who are capable of being visionary, and whose vision of the future requires investment in high technology. The 'capitans of industry' are afraid of going down with their ships if things don't change soon. These people know that government investment in technology is essential in bringing technology through its infancy. Witness the Rural Electrification Act, which paid for bringing electricity to remote areas which would have been unprofitable to serve. That investment meant that the demand for electrical appliances skyrocketed.<br /><br />The 'seed' money required for building a base on the Earth's Moon will spur private investment in high technology, investment which may not happen if there is no clear-cut indication that the Moon is going to cont <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
 
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SpaceKiwi

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Great post, Halman, I wholeheartedly agree with you. It is extremely fortunate that we have the Moon up there, especially when you consider the diversity of moons in the Solar System. It could be a completely uninhabitable world orbiting our planet, rather than the relatively benign one we have. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em><font size="2" color="#ff0000">Who is this superhero?  Henry, the mild-mannered janitor ... could be!</font></em></p><p><em><font size="2">-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------</font></em></p><p><font size="5">Bring Back The Black!</font></p> </div>
 
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scottb50

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The Moon is as close to a completely uninhabitable world as you are going to get. At least in deep Space you don't have to deal with the dust, I would consider the Moon a most uninhabitable world. <br /><br />That said Mars is not a very far second and nowhere else in the known Solar System is any improvement. If we are to use the Moon we should use it like another platform in deep Space, the advantages being the stability of it's mass, a good place to do long term observations and build observatories that rival the ones we have on Earth today without the need to compensate for the atmosphere. The Moon would also prove a good proving ground for Mars equipment, I see little difference required for the atmosphere and increased gravity of Mars, if nothing else the Moon is a more harsh environment making it ideal for testing equipment and operating techniques. The only thing remotely benign about the Moon is the fact it is three days away and a rescue could be done fairly easily if a major problem occurs.<br /><br />Where I have a problem is the idea we ship everything to the Moon and then go to Mars from there, that's absurd. We need to ship everything to LEO then go to the Moon or Mars. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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halman

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Scottb50,<br /><br />Something which I want desparetely to convey to everyone is that learning to get back and forth to the Moon, and how to live and work there, will make us a spacefaring nation. After we get to the Moon, and learn for a while, we will be able to go almost anywhere. Maybe we will go to Mars after the Moon. Maybe not. But that is not impartant at this point. All that is important at this point is that we get to the Moon. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
 
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SpaceKiwi

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Relative to Earth, any other location in the Solar System would rightly be considered "uninhabitable". The point I was making, and the one with which you concurred, is simply that the Moon is one of the "better" satellites we could hope to have on our doorstep. The Apollo astronauts were able to "inhabit" the Moon for very brief periods of time, and I see no insurmountable reason why we now couldn't have an extended presence on the Lunar surface. (cash notwithstanding, but that is the same for any location outside LEO)<br /><br />As I have stated previously, I favour getting our ducks in a row on the Moon before venturing further afield. I don't see Mars as commanding a hugely greater interest in the grander scheme of things. One day, long into the future, it might be nice to have a long-term human presence there and answer the "life" question. But, I'm not sure there is a great neccessity to be there soon, aside from the natural curiousity we all share to explore and answer the many questions. I'm sure we could find just as many questions worthy of answering on the Moon. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em><font size="2" color="#ff0000">Who is this superhero?  Henry, the mild-mannered janitor ... could be!</font></em></p><p><em><font size="2">-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------</font></em></p><p><font size="5">Bring Back The Black!</font></p> </div>
 
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halman

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Scottb50,<br /><br />I was paying so much attention to the "level of habitability" question that I almost missed the last part of your post, which involves whether or not to send the equipment which is to go to Mars to the Moon first. I am not sure if that precise concept has been put forward as part of the 'new vision', and if it has, I would agree that it is nonsense. I have always understood the present proposal to be that we seek resources on the Moon which might be of use for sending missions to Mars.<br /><br />Which brings up the central question: Is this proposal about getting us to Mars, or is Mars the flashy, popular goal which might get us to go to the Moon? The popular media has been harping on Mars being the next stop for the last 20 years or so. Why? Probably because it is still associated with mystery, romance, and adventure. Also, there has been a small number of people who are so desparate to get away from the Earth, the rest of the human race, their wives, or something, that they have been making a lot of noise about how 'easy' it would be to send humans to Mars.<br /><br />Personally, I believe that the forces behind President Bush want very much to get us back to the Moon, but fear that such a goal is too mundane to win the interest of Mr. and Mrs. American Coach Potato. So they came up with the idea of promoting the return to the Moon as being the first step in a relatively soon mission to Mars. These shadow people probably could care less about whether a mission is sent to Mars, they are desperate to get the government investing in high technology before we have to buy our weapons systems from overseas. They know that developing the Moon will stimulate the high tech sector tremendously, as well as generating private markets for the products that they will be manufacturing. <br /><br />The majority of high tech companies in the United States sell only to the U. S. government, because there is not much of a private market for stealth bombers, nu <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
 
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quasar2

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we`re fortunate that lunar gravity is approx 1/2 that of Mars. The Moon has plenty of resources, which aren`t really discussed as it`s possible they`re difficult to get @, but doesn`t detract from the fact they`re still there. most likely the main body of humans in OuterSpace will be in microg environments w/ small amounts of people going to & fro from the Lunar & Martian Surfaces. i believe centrifuges are far easier to build than surface jaunts are. this owing to our level of development. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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mrmorris

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<font color="yellow">"With this talk about what resources the moon could provide, I'm reminded of at least on interesting possiblity... concrete."</font><br /><br />NASA is way ahead of you... HERE
 
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quasar2

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i think some1 on 1000planets had the idea of icespaceships. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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aaron38

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Concrete?? Call me a Zubrinite, but I have to repeat a quote of his.<br /><br />"If there was concrete siting on the moon right now, lunar astronauts would mine it to get the water"!!!<br /><br />In my mind there is only one reason why we must go to Mars first, before the Moon and that's WATER. The Moon doesn't have any and it's too expensive to lift the amound a manufacturing/mining base would need, at least this century.<br /><br />The only activities the Moon will be supporting this century are farside astronomy, Helium3 mining and exploration for underground ice deposites. If ice is found the door is open.<br /><br />If not, do you think the Lunar Hilton is going to have a swimming pool? Or showers?
 
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mrmorris

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<font color="yellow">" The Moon doesn't have any and it's too expensive to lift the amound a manufacturing/mining base would need, at least this century. "</font><br /><br />Actually, the link I provided in my response to the concrete post had an interesting suggestion that was new to me. The moon has plenty of oxygen bound up in the regolith -- it's hydrogen that's in short supply. Taking quantities of LH to the moon is *considerably* cheaper than taking an equivalent amount of hydrogen bound in water form. The hydrogen can then be used with native oxygen to make water.<br /><br />Of course ice at the poles would make this a moot point.<br />
 
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aaron38

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Great point! Yes, since oxygen is 86% of water's mass, only taking the hydrogen is the way to go.<br /><br />But hydrogen is bulky and hard to transport. So there's a good business oportunity once lunar exploration gets going. Those who figure out how to economically ship hydrogen to the moon will be the railroad/oil barrons of the 21st century.<br /><br />But that is still a major, major hurdle. Even with the railroads, California would not have been settled if all water had to be shipped in.
 
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mrmorris

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<font color="yellow">"But hydrogen is bulky and hard to transport. So there's a good business oportunity once lunar exploration gets going."</font><br /><br />Well -- the lander of any spacecraft that's going to be sent to the moon's surface is likely to be powered by LOX/LH thrusters. Make the LH tank larger than it has to be and whatever excess remains after touchdown becomes lunar gold.
 
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quasar2

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for all. i`ve yet to see where mars1st will build infrastructure faster than MoonReturn. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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starfhury

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How much more exploration do we need to do? Part of the problem with space at this point is that most people don't believe there are any practical use for space beyond scientific endeavors. As long as we stick to that belief, the space frontier will be slow to open. <br /><br />If it were up to me, I'd cut 100 billion dollars from defense and push it to space development and exploitation. Since 9/11 a new Home Land department was created and given a budget greater than NASA. If they can find money for that, they can find more money not only for NASA but to invest in private industry to develop space enterprises. If we start today pushing very hard, the space economy might well exceed that of the US in fifty years and become a huge economic system all to itself. If the US perpetuates this, it would be one of the largest beneficiaries.<br /><br />The future is in space, there's no denying that. The real question is how and when do we trully want to pursue space on a wider level. Granted its not just about money, but if there was more than the sixteen billion allocated to civillian space endeavors by the government, private industry would have a bigger pie and greater incentives to come up with solutions making space a reality. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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halman

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aaron38,<br /><br />I suspect that many people have vastly overestimated the importance of the presence of water on the Moon for development to be viable there. We must remember that ANY long term space activities are going to require 100 percent recycling. Once the initial needs of a group or site are met, there will not be a huge demand for additional water supplies, unless some form of manufacturing or processing is going on.<br /><br /><br />Another thing that I would like to point out is that there are abundant supplies of water at a very low gravity location in the Solar System. The energy requirements to reach these supplies is only a little larger than the energy requirement to travel from Low Earth Orbit to the surface of Mars. We are currently doing the first detailed exploration of these vast supplies of water.<br /><br />If you still have not figured out what I am talking about, the rings of Saturn are mostly water ice. Once we have established a robotic system of collecting and shipping water across the Solar System, we won't have to worry about running out for a while. Because this water will not have to be lifted out of a deep gravity well, it will be cheaper to send it half-way across the Solar System than it would be to mine it on the surface of a body, lift it out, and then ship it.<br /><br />Don't let people who think of the Solar System as consisting of Earth and Mars dictate how we should utilize it. Developing the Moon will take thousands of years, just as developing Earth has, and still is. We do not have to completely develop the Moon before we can move on to another project, especially considering that the private sector will begin taking over that developmont a short time after a permanent base is established on the Moon. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
 
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