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NASA Moon Space

NASA Unveils Strategy for Return to the Moon 377

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the why-buy-one-when-you-could-buy-two-at-twice-the-price dept.
mknewman writes to tell us that NASA recently announced plans to build a permanent base on the moon by 2024. The (still tentative) plans call for building the base on one of the moon's poles, which constantly receive light from the sun and have less temperature fluctuation. This base will start small in 2020 and grow over time with the hopes of eventually supporting 180-day stays and providing a jumping-off point to Mars."
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NASA Unveils Strategy for Return to the Moon

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  • FP for once... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by advocate_one (662832) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:36AM (#17110300)
    and I was able to read the article first... just hope they're not gonna be bean-counted to death on this one... those auditors are already sharpening up their knives to trim the budget... I'd hate to see an astronaut die because things were cut too fine...
    • by wasted (94866) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:23AM (#17110592)
      ... just hope they're not gonna be bean-counted to death on this one... those auditors are already sharpening up their knives to trim the budget... I'd hate to see an astronaut die because things were cut too fine...


      I would guess that the lunar budget would be cut totally before it got that fine. There is plenty of time before an actual landing for Congress to cut that part of NASA's budget, saying "The money could be better spent here on Earth," leaving out the last part of the phrase. ("The money could be bettter spent here on Earth getting pork for my constituents so I get re-elected and/or my party gains more seats.")

      I hope that it doesn't happen that way.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nido (102070)
        There is plenty of time before an actual landing for Congress to cut that part of NASA's budget, saying "The money could be better spent here on Earth," leaving out the last part of the phrase. ("The money could be bettter spent here on Earth getting pork for my constituents so I get re-elected and/or my party gains more seats.")

        Just because that's been the modus operandi for most of the 20th century doesn't mean that it will be forever. I expect in the (very near) future it might go something like this: "
        • Apollo = 2.5 Iraqs (Score:3, Interesting)

          by maillemaker (924053)
          >Apollo is simply fiscally unrepeatable

          I have read that for the $340,000,000 currently spent in Iraq we could have nearly 2.5 Apollo missions in today's dollars.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by E++99 (880734)
          But if you can find the United States on this ordered list of Current Account Balances [cia.gov], and compare its number to, say, Germany or Japan, you might begin to understand the U.S. economy's problem.
          I guess looking at that list, you would either have to assume that the U.S. has the worst economy in the world or the best economy in the world. The obvious truth is that it's the best. Just look at the trade deficit. All the other countries make a living selling stuff to us -- our economy drives the w
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by bhmit1 (2270)
          [ Sorry for being completely off topic, but a few points seemed appropriate to be addressed ]

          There are two things that will likely happen before the US goes completely bankrupt.

          First, there will be some kind of massive plague or catastrophe to eliminate 10% or more of our population. There are simply too many people in the world causing problems with our food supply, environment, etc. Perhaps it will be a spin off of bird flu, but I suspect it will be something that no one ever considered. It's best

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by mr_mischief (456295)
            Printing more money has proven in the past to be inflationary, and that it would be makes sense. While a little bit of inflation is the friend of of the working man, a lot of it at once is bad for everybody. A balance might be struck there that does indeed help, but it can't be taken to extremes.

            One of the biggest problems with the U.S. economy is the whole Information Economy idea. Yes, computers and networks and the right kinds of software make work much more efficient. No, having enough computers, softwa
      • by 1u3hr (530656) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:33AM (#17111232)
        "The money could be better spent here on Earth," leaving out the last part of the phrase. ("The money could be bettter spent here on Earth getting pork for my constituents so I get re-elected and/or my party gains more seats.")

        The money IS all spent on Earth. It'll be a while before it can be outsourced to Mars. As for pork, why do you think NASA is based in Houston? Answer: LBJ.

      • Earth to the Moon (Score:5, Interesting)

        by D.A. Zollinger (549301) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @08:15AM (#17111740) Homepage Journal

        As someone who finished watching "From the Earth to the Moon" [imdb.com] earlier tonight, I can say that I can't wait for humans to return to the moon. We do need a permanent presence on the moon, for many reasons, such as; separation of the human species in case of global tragedy, explore moon's geology (where did that thing come from?), explore theories about colonization, biospheres, and self-sustenance, launch point for future missions to distant worlds (if we could build a manufacturing center on the moon, its 1/6th gravity would be very beneficial to launching new craft), and many, many, many more benefits both seen and unseen.

        Returning to the moon is in humanity's best interest, and is clearly the path to the future. Focus on the space program will push development and inventions to help push the edge of what is capable. I see space travel as one of the grand challenges we will face in our lifetime, and it would be a shame to hesitate when we have already taken so many steps toward that goal. As someone who was born prior to the last Apollo mission, I feel it is a crime that we have abandoned the moon for the majority of my lifetime.

        Unfortunately, the political winds have not been blowing favorably towards NASA, and it may take another visionary like JFK to take us back to the moon and beyond.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by astralbat (828541)
          What you (and many oither people) fail to realize is that if we had a permanent colony of people living on the moon (or any other planet for that matter) to carry on the human race in case of a wipeout on Earth it would fail because we're only human for as long as we're on Earth.

          The moon's gravity is 1/3 that of Earth's, so any human beings that reproduce and stay there for some number of generations will grow to be much taller and thinner. They're muscle structure might change a lot and by the end of the

          • It's not what our bodies look like that makes us Human. It's our minds.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ultranova (717540)

            The moon's gravity is 1/3 that of Earth's, so any human beings that reproduce and stay there for some number of generations will grow to be much taller and thinner. They're muscle structure might change a lot and by the end of the human race on Earth, they'll be completely alien

            Wrong. Such changes happen if, and only if, they give a significant advantage in the number of offspring such people produce. Since the human hipbone is already too thin for safe birth, and the reason it can't get wider is that y

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cold fjord (826450)
      ....just hope they're not gonna be bean-counted to death on this one... those auditors are already sharpening up their knives to trim the budget.

      I would worry more about the new and future Congresses, and future presidents. After all, this is in response to President Bush's initiative to go to Mars, it will require a long term commitment to accomplish it, and some people prefer President Bush to be a "miserable failure [google.com]".

      FTA:

      "We're going to go after a lunar base," said Scott Horowitz, NASA associate adminis

  • by creimer (824291) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:43AM (#17110354) Homepage
    NASA should follow the examples of many communities by resorting to mixed developments (i.e., stores on the bottom level and apartments on top) to sustain a viable community for the base. Real estate prices will obviously shoot to the moon but I'm sure that Donald Trump will go for a ride.
  • It will never happen (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:46AM (#17110384) Journal
    This is WAY too slow of a schedule.

    I suspect that by 2015, we will be back on the moon due to Bigelow. Even now, the sundancer is a nice small module for launching as a good way to carry to the moon, as well as land on the moon for a station. Combine that with 2 launch systems, one for earth and one for the moon. By 2010, there will be at least 5 human rated systems (Russian, China, Space Shuttle (probably will not be fully canceled until we have orion going) or Orion, and the 2 cots system). By 2014, the Sundancer will have been in orbit for at least 3 years. That will make it acceptable for taking to the moon and landing on its surface. All that is needed is a landing system for it, a connection module, and a true lunar transport. Finally, the BA-330 will be available by 2015 (I would guess by 2011) and that will be used for the real transport to lunar orbit.

    While I like the Ares V (love the capacity), I think that the only real chance is the direct launcher. It is the true safer, faster, cheaper approach.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:23AM (#17110594)
      NASA is fully aware of the current work in commercial spaceflight.

      Some NASA centers (*cough* Marshall *cough*) feel threatened by it. The brass, and some of the centers, love it, though. They can't say it strongly in public right now, but they would love to take advantage of it to make lunar exploration cheaper and more sustainable.

      If the commercial sector --- including COTS, Bigelow, and the other players --- take root and grow, expect NASA to revise the lunar plans. The current plan is the fallback plan. Read the words they used today. They make very clear that the plan is provisional, pending future developments.
    • Back in those days, they designed the system and invented the technology at the same time, and often in 6-12 month time tables, like
      hardcore engineers do. None of this, we'll coast along to drag our career path out to 25years to get a good pension.

      They said, we gota launch a moon orbit in 12 months, what do we need, ok build this and that ,get this ready, we'll sort out these missing
      bits later, and plugnpray.

      The days when engineers were the managers, then the accountants stepped in to control everything, an
  • gromit? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:46AM (#17110386)
    Gromit, that's it! Cheese! We'll go somewhere where there's cheese!

  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:47AM (#17110392) Homepage Journal
    He was the Russian space program. It all went downhill after that. The US had no way of knowing, of course, but his death signalled the end of the space race and the US had won. The fact that they got a man on the moon at all after that is a massive acheivement - a political one as well as a technical one. Even without a heavy lift vehicle, I think Korolev could have beat Von Braun to The Moon. He had the contingency all planned out. This is the plan that the Russian space agency announced last year: take a Souyez up to a space station, refuel it, do a flyby of the Moon. With another refueling in Lunar orbit, you can land and takeoff. You don't need a heavy launch vehicle to do a Moonshot.. it just makes it a lot easier.
    • by rxmd (205533)

      He was the Russian space program. It all went downhill after that. The US had no way of knowing, of course, but his death signalled the end of the space race and the US had won.

      Not exactly. It just shifted. (And frankly, the Russians got a lot more "firsts" than the USA.) The Russians managed to get a lot of experience in running space stations over extended of periods of time that nobody else has to this day. Of course, the motivation for that was fundamentally military in nature.

      While I agree that Ko

      • by Anonymous Freak (16973) <prius@driver.mac@com> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:49AM (#17110724) Journal

        If you want to run a moonbase, how do you get lots of fuel into Earth orbit? And into lunar orbit? Doesn't sound terribly efficient.
        You get fuel into Earth orbit with heavy lifters. That carry enough fuel for multiple moon trips. You then use a light-lift rocket to get the actual spacecraft up. You can then do multiple light-lift spacecraft up to use up the previously launched fuel more cheaply than putting each spacecraft on its own heavly-lift rocket. If we had used a Saturn V to put a refueling station up (Skylab sized, without the 'space station' internals,) we could have used Saturn-IBs to actually launch the moon-ready pair. (The IB was used to launch Apollo 5, an unmanned CSM/LM pair.) Refuel in LEO, then head off to the moon. That would have saved a lot of money, and could have kept us going to the moon. The main reason this wasn't done was to save development time. It would have required longer to develop the orbiting refueling depot and related procedures.

        As for putting a fueling station in lunar orbit, yeah, that's more difficult. The moon's gravity is low enough that 'wasting' the fuel to do direct lunar launches all the way back to Earth orbit would probably have to do until we come up with a 'cheap' way to get mass quantities of fuel to lunar orbit.

        But, again, it might be cheaper to launch one big 'fuel depot' to the lunar surface and cut down on the need to carry return fuel out (from Earth) and down on the actual landing craft.
        • by 0123456 (636235)
          "If we had used a Saturn V to put a refueling station up (Skylab sized, without the 'space station' internals,)"

          In other words, you want to use a Saturn V to put an SIVB stage in orbit, to transfer fuel to another SIVB stage that you'll launch on a Saturn 1b? Yeah, that makes so much sense.

          "(The IB was used to launch Apollo 5, an unmanned CSM/LM pair.)"

          No it wasn't. Hint: take a look at a photo of Apollo 5 sometime.

          The Saturn Ib could not launch a CSM and LEM at the same time, and I don't believe it could e
    • He was the Russian space program. It all went downhill after that. The US had no way of knowing, of course, but his death signalled the end of the space race and the US had won.

      He was a propulsion guy but 80% of operating on and around the moon was in the piloting, procedures and life support systems. The USSR didn't have any kind of PLSS for lunar surface operations. I seriously doubt their ability to manage the operations of an apollo style mission. Their crews made good with poor equipment and made stuf

    • He was the Russian space program. It all went downhill after that. The US had no way of knowing, of course, but his death signalled the end of the space race and the US had won.

      No - the race was over before he died. They lost about 1963-64 when they didn't take the US effort seriously, and didn't get either their large boosters going or mount a serious challenge to Gemini. (This wasn't clear then, and has only really become clear with the information available after the fall of the Soviet Union.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by WilliamSChips (793741)
      Yeah, it really sucked when the Ori blew up that ship.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The US had no way of knowing, of course, but his death signalled the end of the space race and the US had won.

      When did US win space race? USA was second to put man on space. 2nd woman. 2nd to be over 24h at space. 2nd to space walk. 2nd to do multi-personnel space walk. 2nd to put a space station on orbit (3rd space station). 2nd birthday on orbit :) Russians only have double and triple birthdays on orbit. :)

      About staying in space. Longest US stay on US station 84 days. Longest USA stay on Russian station
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:49AM (#17110402)
    There's a rumor that NASA will announce the discovery of liquid water [nasawatch.com] at or near Mars' surface.

    God I hope that's true.

    And I hope the aquifer is substantial.
    • There's a rumor that NASA will announce the discovery of liquid water at or near Mars' surface.

      It doesn't really matter becuse ISRU can use water from the atmosphere or ice from the poles and permafrost.

  • Damn... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Jugalator (259273)
    When I was a kid in the 80's, I thought we would actually get to Mars in my lifetime, but it doesn't look like it. :-(
    • That is OK. When I was kid in the 60's, it really looked like it would happen in my lifetime. Problem is that since early 80's, several presidents have ran up massive deficits all but guaranteeing that the USA gov. will not be doing it. The good news is that we will get there via private enterprise. I would guess that the first mission will be a mineral recon by ~6-10 who will stay there for at least 10 years.
  • First Things First (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DumbSwede (521261) <slashdotbin@hotmail.com> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:57AM (#17110452) Journal
    Why not spend a decade concentrating our efforts on designing and building radically new heavy launch lift concepts? While we are far from being able to build a space elevators, we could build both launch assist catapults and orbit assist tethers.
    • Why not spend a decade concentrating our efforts on designing and building radically new heavy launch lift concepts?

      They are too expensive because nobody will launch satellites on them.

  • by techmuse (160085) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:58AM (#17110456)
    Wouldn't it take a LOT less energy and time to go directly to mars, rather than stopping off at the moon and having to escape the gravity well of *two* planetary bodies before going to Mars?

    Besides, they'll probably only serve peanuts, they won't have any pillows, the in flight movie will be a bad movie that all the astronauts have already seen 3 times, they will spend most of their time waiting for other spacecraft to launch while they sit in a hot and stuffy capsule, and they will have to take their moon boots off as they pass through security. Not to mention delays due to meteor showers, turbulence in the solar wind, and aliens that pop out of crew members' stomachs. It's probably better to take the train at this rate, or maybe even drive.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Reverse Gear (891207)
      I haven't been doing calculations on this, but I imagine you need to bring a lot more weight to send someone to Mars than to the moon, so if you could somehow get the weighty parts you need to the moon in small bits (or even better extract it from the moon or make it on the moon, for example the fuel through solar panels) then I think you could save a substantial amount of fuel doing so.
      Also with the moon rotation around the earth you probably would be able to get an extra starting speed that you wouldn't h
    • by Fry-kun (619632)
      In terms of fuel, you're probably right.
      However, I'm sure there's a lot more to it than just fuel.
      What about supplies, for instance? Let's say you need 1 ton of supplies - but the shuttle will only take 200 kilos away from earth. Either you need to build a bigger rocket, one that can take up 1 ton, or you can stockpile the stuff somewhere. Moon makes sense because it has lower gravity (which means the craft that could take up 200 kilos might take 1 ton up from the moon). You don't want to fill ISS with supp
      • by camperdave (969942) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:37AM (#17111256) Journal
        You don't stockpile your supplies on the Moon. You stockpile them in Earth orbit. You don't build a spaceport on the moon. That would be pointless. You build an interplanetary spacecraft in orbit. The moon serves but a single purpose in a Mars mission: Technology proving ground. Can we build functional habitats? Can we stay in space for months, years at a time? What tools do we need? What issues might arise?

        The only role the moon might play in the actual Mars launch would be as a gravitational slingshot.
    • by Cordath (581672) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:42AM (#17110692)
      A direct transfer orbit (which is nowhere near a straight line) to Mars is the fastest way to reach Mars, but it's also one of the least fuel efficient ways. For this reason, large payloads such as the orbiter, rover, etc. have been sent to Mars via gravity assisted transfer orbits instead. These usually involve multiple trips around the sun and a couple close passes with other planetary bodies. If the payload goes past a planet or moon at just the right angle it will sling-shot around, effectively stealing momentum from the body. (don't worry, planets have plenty to spare) Go watch Star Trek IV to get the hollywood version. Gravity assisted transfer orbits are more difficult to plot, far far slower, and overall just a PITA, but there isn't any other option at the moment. Even if we had the money to spare nobody makes rockets big enough to send large payloads to Mars "directly".

      Unfortunately, sending humans to Mars via gravity assited transfer orbits is not as easy. It's a much longer trip, so unless we sort out that suspended animation gig soon they would need much more food, supplies, etc.. That means more mass and more fuel, so a direct transfer orbit starts to look more economical for human travellers. As an added bonus, they don't spend several years in deep space, probably much closer to the Sun for much of their journey facing who knows what kind of added health risks. Given that there's little chance we'll ever build a rocket big enough to blast off directly for mars,we'll have to assemble the ship that goes to mars in orbit or on the moon. The moon's low-gravity environment may well prove to be an easier and safer environment for assembling an interplanetary space vessel. The moon is only about 1.2% as massive as the Earth so it's not that much of a "detour".
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DerekLyons (302214)

        A direct transfer orbit (which is nowhere near a straight line) to Mars is the fastest way to reach Mars, but it's also one of the least fuel efficient ways. For this reason, large payloads such as the orbiter, rover, etc. have been sent to Mars via gravity assisted transfer orbits instead. These usually involve multiple trips around the sun and a couple close passes with other planetary bodies.

        Not true at all - every US Mars mission to date with the exception of Mariner 10 has been a direct launch. (What

    • Wouldn't it take a LOT less energy and time to go directly to mars, rather than stopping off at the moon and having to escape the gravity well of *two* planetary bodies before going to Mars?

      Nobody is going to Mars unless future natives of the Moon decide to expand their empire. Any talk of Mars in the context of this proposal is marketing only.

    • The moon would indeed make a terrible staging point for a Mars launch, and NASA knows it. They wouldn't even try it. However, if you think back to the Apollo days, NASA did a bunch of incremental shots. First they orbited the Moon, then they tested the lunar module, then they landed. The moon is a good place to do incremental testing of the systems that they'll use on Mars (despite the environmental differences). The habitat needs testing. The lander needs testing. The rover needs testing. The spaces
      • by 0123456 (636235)
        "The moon is a good place to do incremental testing of the systems that they'll use on Mars (despite the environmental differences)."

        It's a lousy place for incremental testing _because_ of the environmental differences. You might be able to develop odd bits and pieces of technology that would be useful on Mars, but the vast majority would be pointless because the problems are so different.

        For example, one of the biggest issues on the Moon is the extremely abrasive lunar dust, due to the lack of wind and wat
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Is it safe to build a house on ONE POLE??
  • So much easier to simply change your name to "Alice" and then try the patience of Ralph Kramden [wikipedia.org]...
  • by djupedal (584558) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:11AM (#17110522)
    Pay attention now...this is really pretty simple, but we don't want any slip-ups!
    • Book backlot at Universal Studios. Same one as last time, since some of the original moonscape props are still there - minimum, oh, say 90 days out to do it.
    • Schedule several hundred yards of dry beach sand and 1/4" cobble for delivery weeks 1 thru 3.
    • Inform all staff that primary shooting will be done after sundown.
    • Find those guys that pulled this stunt off last time!

    Everybody understand? Good, now go! It's Oscar time!!!
  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:26AM (#17110610) Journal
    Coincidentally, a pretty good article analyzing the planned launch architecture was published yesterday. Here's the link [thespacereview.com].

    Additionally, aerospace engineer Jonathan Goff over at Selenian Boondocks has a post titled Lunar Much Sooner (and Better) [blogspot.com] which discusses a number of alternatives to NASA's current plan.

    Finally, Selenian Boondocks also has another post [blogspot.com] about some things revealed by one of the architects of NASA's plans, suggesting that several of the design constraints imposed on the architecture may be somewhat dubious, (arguably) making the whole project much more expensive and unsustainable.
  • Let's hope it works (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nyeerrmm (940927)
    I actually finished a presentation today with Johnson Space Center (JSC) about resupplying a Moon Base for a university class today, and I'm planning on going and helping run a booth at the SEC conference (where I assume this plan was announced) tomorrow. Needless to say I'm very excited about these plans and am very much a space exploration advocate. Look at my previous posts and I think that will show it.

    NASA at times does a great job of innovation and exploration. Anything unmanned, JPL and Ames do a g
  • Never gonna happen (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jimhill (7277)
    Just look at the steaming pile of crap that is the ISS and there's your Moon Base Alpha right there. Grandiose dreams and visions reduced to a paltry 3-man crew that spends most of its time trying to stay alive. Rah farkin' rah.

    Put down your Heinleins and spend a little time trying to make the planet we will all live and die on a better place.
    • by Nyeerrmm (940927) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:59AM (#17110770)
      I'd say this is the exact problem with the space program. Yes, the ISS is a steaming pile of crap. Spending our the to make the planet we will all live and die on a better place is a noble goal, however, its not the only goal. I think we already have a large number of people concentrating on that. That is I know people involved in Amnesty International, developing new hybrid vehicle systems, Engineers Without Borders, and the best of organized religion (mission trips concentrated on helping people as opposed to simple evangelism). I hear of even more here on slashdot, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the One Laptop Per Child Project, and the endless watch for Big Brother-ism and the tyranny of monopoly. I personally do some work with regards to the improvement of the educational system within the US, which is one of my main personal cause du jours. However, I think with all this effort spent to improve our earthly existence, theres a little room to get us off this planet and help to provide some relief that way. Obviously it won't have immediate effect. The early colonist's to America didn't immediately stem Europe's problems even directly related to population growth, however in the end its impossible to deny its effects. And with space we dont have the genocidal side effects that are such a stain on that period in history. The future of humanity (in my own very humble opinion) depends on us establishing offworld settlements, and whether thats in the next 20 years, the next 200, or the next 2000, I plan on doing my damndest to push us forward, and supporting others who do, because some people need to do it. And there's nothing wrong with a small portion of the national budget going that way too (and it is a small portion, look it up.) Find your own way to save the world, improve it, or keep it going. All of those things are vital.
      • by smchris (464899)
        The early colonist's to America didn't immediately stem Europe's problems even directly related to population growth, however in the end its impossible to deny its effects. And with space we dont have the genocidal side effects that are such a stain on that period in history.

        Because space colonies will stomp all over another /. topic: privacy.

        Stewart Brand of Whole Earth Catalog fame put out a pulp in the 70s called "Space Colonies". Although it seemed overwhelmingly positive about the idea in spirit, it
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Gnostic Ronin (980129)
          I think that's true, but another thing Sci-Fis never really get right is the types of people who will go to these colonies.

          When the Americas were colonized, it wasn't by and large the Well-To-Do, well-educated, aristocrats who left everything behind for America. Yes there were a few dreamers, and I won't deny it. However, most people who came weren't rich. They were the peasants, the cultural outcasts, and so on. Lord Fauntleroy wasn't interested in building the colonies. But for a peasant, it was th

    • Just look at the steaming pile of crap that is the ISS and there's your Moon Base Alpha right there. Grandiose dreams and visions reduced to a paltry 3-man crew that spends most of its time trying to stay alive. Rah farkin' rah.

      Welcome to the real world of exploration. Its not grandiose, and its not inspiring - its hard and boring. Every schoolkid learns about the Brave and Bold voyages of exploration - but they never learn about the tens and hundreds of voyages that followed that did the real work of ex

    • Put down your Heinleins and spend a little time trying to make the planet we will all live and die on a better place.

      The world is much better off due to all of the technologies that were developed for the early space programs and the unexpected uses that have been found for them. I would expect that trend to continue with the new space effort.

      Plenty of people [arthurbrooks.net] already are donating time and money to make the world a better place, of course it would be even better if more were involved.

      Some problems [nationalreview.com] won't rea
    • by SamSim (630795)

      Space travel is the most important thing ever. This is not exaggeration. If you consider the possible futures of the human race, there is one in which we never really escape our cradle and we live and die on this single planet. There is another where we go out there and we take the galaxy. We eliminate what is currently a single point of failure - we build those ships and we spend thousands of years sleepwalking our way to entirely new planets. Ten million years later the whole galaxy is ours. Every planet

  • I really hope that this is for the long term. And by "they" i mean the politicians.

    While the JFK speech [nasa.gov] that kicked of the first trips to the moons has its inspiring places ("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, a
  • I hope their lunar lander "pickup truck" turns out to be much less of a design compromise than their space "pickup truck".

    Actually, I quite liked the design of the Eagle [monstersinmotion.com]. Too bad it's fictional. It meets most, if not all of Nasa's requirements. It can be manned, or operated via remote control. (I don't recall if it was capable of fully autonomous operation.) It can move cargo, and personnel. It's very modular, which should make it cheaper to build.
  • by soccerisgod (585710) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:31AM (#17110910)
    A quote from the Stargate episode "The Nox":
    They said the same thing about the Apollo Program. That brought back some moon rocks. You may have noticed we haven't been back to the moon in 20 years.

    Now we might all agree that space exploration is exceedingly exciting. But why on Earth (no pun intended) would we want to go to the moon? There's nothing there but sharp and spikey moondust. Now, missions like Hubble I understand and support. Those make sense as they get us a much better insight into what is out there and how it might have come to be. But manned missions to nowhere just to prove "we can do it"? It seems to me this kind of mission is designed purely for the publicity value. For the general public, stunts like these are much more interesting than some probes sent to other planets that actually provide us with new and possibly new information.

    And don't even get me started on the "we have to spread out humanity to other planets" argument. I'd rather die out as a species than to have to live on Mars, I tell you that.

  • Astroids (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ignatius (6850) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:19AM (#17111146)
    Forgetting one moment about the ridiculous time schedule (17 years with current technology after Apollo took less than 10 years after starting virtually from scratch half a century ago is simply embarrassing), the question remains what to do up there besides scientific explorations. The Moon is basically a pile of worthless dirt: Light crust material with all the volatiles gassed out.

    Going after astroids is both cheaper (in terms of delta-v) and more interesting economically: You have anything from volatile rich comets to core material iron/nickel balls in all different sizes and at delta-vs as low as several hundred m/s from HEO (as compared to 2 x 1.4 km/s for the moon). Also, a zero gravity enviroment has many advantages for processing, requires less structural support (e.g. for solar pannels and mirrors) and makes it easy to move heavy stuff around.

    After all, if you're serious about developing a permanent space presence, you will need some sort of space industry which is easier to bootstrap from astroids than on the moon.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sasha328 (203458)
      Going after astroids is both cheaper (in terms of delta-v) and more interesting economically:
      Well, that may be true, but where is the nearest Earth-orbiting asteroid? Not anywhere to be seen?
       
      Yes, it may be more interesting/rewarding to go to an asteroid, but if it aint staying in the neighbourhood, how do we get anything back?
    • I have more faith that Richard Branson will have a Virgin Resort on the moon before nasa even gets off their first flight.
  • 2024?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tsa (15680) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:21AM (#17111168) Homepage
    Whatever happened to "before this decade is out"? Why the hell could we go to the moon almost from scratch in the 1960's and do we need almost 20 years now?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      Whatever happened to "before this decade is out"? Why the hell could we go to the moon almost from scratch in the 1960's and do we need almost 20 years now?

      We didn't go to the moon from scratch in the 1960's. By the time Kennedy made his announcement considerable work was already in progress (and had been for some years) on various things that could be repurposed to going to the moon. (Most importantly the F-1 engine and Apollo capsule.) Additionally, NASA of that era had essentially a blank check (the

      • So, you're saying that our space program today is in the same place as the space program in 1956? 'Cos that was 14 years before 1970, but we hadn't even orbited a single tin can.

        Let's face facts: when you announce a 14 year schedule to go to the Moon, you're announcing "We have not intention of going to the Moon."
        • by tsa (15680)
          If you hadn't already I would have replied exactly the same thing. We have the ISS for crying out loud; how hard can it be to make a sort of bus that is launched from the ISS, stays in orbit around the moon, and from where you send a small vehicle to the moon's surface and back? We could do a similar but more complicated thing in the 1960's with a development time of 8 years or so. Now it should take at most two years to make something like that. We don't even have to take the astronauts all the way back to
  • Will it have Blackjack, and hookers?
  • Boy will NASA ever be disappointed when they arrive at the moon all ready to start building and find a Chinese moonbase already there.
    • by klang (27062)
      ..and I don't think they will settle for the drycleaning and fastfood markeds on the Moon!
  • You simply make an announcement. You say that whomever gets there and physically stakes a claim will be the owner of the land to do with as they wish, backed up by the strength of the US/whatever military.

    The reason nobody can be bothered going to the moon is that nobody can own it at the moment. Change that and we will have huge amounts of commercial interest. Get rid of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, without ownership there is no scarcity, without scarcity there is no value. Without value it isn't worth go
  • but 2024 is not good enough - I wanna be alive when this happens! I just hope that some other country gets there first or at least does something to accelerate this new space race!

    N
  • Radiation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AliasTheRoot (171859) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @08:23AM (#17111784)
    With no magnetic field to shield them what kind of strategies will the base need to use to cope with solar radiation and not have the astronauts fried? Is it as simple as building the base in a crater permanently in shadow?
  • by gelfling (6534) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @08:24AM (#17111796) Homepage Journal
    Outsource the project to India and China
    Rebrand it
    Declare success

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