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What If the Apollo Program Never Happened? 756

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-happens-on-luna-stays-on-luna dept.
astroengine writes "In a recent debate, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said he would like to beat the Chinese back to the moon. He has even been so bold as to propose setting up a manned base by 2020, driven by empowering private industry to take the initiative. It's ironic to hear moon travel still being debated 40 years after the last Apollo landing in 1972. Between then and now, NASA's small space shuttle fleet filled in for space travel, but astronauts could only venture as far a low earth orbit — at an altitude much lower than the early pioneers reached. If there were no Apollo crash program to beat the Soviets to the moon, would we have planned to go to the moon eventually? But this time with a commitment of staying? Or would we never go?"
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What If the Apollo Program Never Happened?

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  • by christurkel (520220) on Monday January 30, 2012 @01:55PM (#38867413) Homepage Journal
    You wouldn't be reading this.
  • Ironic? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Scutter (18425) on Monday January 30, 2012 @01:56PM (#38867433) Journal

    It's ironic to hear moon travel still being debated 40 years after the last Apollo landing in 1972.

    I think that word doesn't mean what you think it means.

    • Re:Ironic? (Score:5, Funny)

      by tgd (2822) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:06PM (#38867575)

      It's ironic to hear moon travel still being debated 40 years after the last Apollo landing in 1972.

      I think that word doesn't mean what you think it means.

      He's probably gen-X. That stupid Alanis song ruined that word for an entire generation.

      • Re:Ironic? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dogtanian (588974) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:17PM (#38867753) Homepage

        He's probably gen-X. That stupid Alanis song ruined that word for an entire generation.

        I doubt that. Do you realise how many times it's been pointed out by various parties how ironic it is that all "Ironic's" examples of irony aren't?

        They've probably heard that more times than they've heard the song itself...

        • by lavaface (685630)
          I doubt that. Do you realise how many times it's been pointed out by various parties how ironic it is that all "Ironic's" examples of irony aren't? They've probably heard that more times than they've heard the song itself...

          Now that's ironic . . .

      • Re:Ironic? (Score:5, Funny)

        by edumacator (910819) on Monday January 30, 2012 @03:38PM (#38868997)

        That stupid Alanis song ruined that word for an entire generation.

        Tragically, the impact of that song continues to this day. While (re)introducing irony to tenth graders, I asked if anyone knew what irony was.

        "It's like having ten thousand spoons when you need a knife," yelled one of my little scholars.

    • Re:Ironic? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by similar_name (1164087) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:10PM (#38867631)
      When I look at Dictionary.com [reference.com] I find this for irony:

      5. an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.

      It seems reasonable that debating moon travel 40 years after Apollo might be considered unexpected. What am I missing?

      • Re:Ironic? (Score:5, Funny)

        by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:15PM (#38867719) Journal

        It seems reasonable that debating moon travel 40 years after Apollo might be considered unexpected. What am I missing?

        Pedantic flair.

    • Re:Ironic? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by yotto (590067) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:17PM (#38867775) Homepage

      I don't know. I think nobody expected it to take 50 years to get back (assuming Newt can do it, which even if elected he can't/won't) or more (see previous parenthetical)

      And that thought amuses me in a sad kind of way.

    • by Kenja (541830)
      Its not ironic, its jut politics. Remember, Bush said we would be going to Mars.
  • Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by masternerdguy (2468142) on Monday January 30, 2012 @01:56PM (#38867437)
    Without space exploration there isn't much point to our civilization.
    • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rubycodez (864176) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:00PM (#38867489)
      is that sarcasm? most of human culture and endeavors and civilization had existed fine before there ever was space travel, and will continue to do so with or without it.
      • by Synerg1y (2169962)

        I think OP would have been wiser to say potential, as eventually we will cap ours in the current surroundings, might not be for a while though. $ fuels the space endeavour and there needs to be a reason behind the $ channel, the Russians were such a reason, but what is it now? China maybe? But what are we proving to them?

    • Re:Well (Score:5, Funny)

      by mjr167 (2477430) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:29PM (#38867969)
      We can still win without getting to Alpha Centari... All we have to do is eliminate all our competitors.
  • Travel Vs Base (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday January 30, 2012 @01:56PM (#38867441) Journal

    In a recent debate, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said he would like to beat the Chinese back to the moon. He has even been so bold as to propose setting up a manned base by 2020, driven by empowering private industry to take the initiative. It's ironic to hear moon travel still being debated 40 years after the last Apollo landing in 1972.

    How is that ironic? Establishing a base versus traveling to are two fairly different goals in magnitude with one totally encompassing the other. Aside from that, I don't think it's ironic that 40 years have passed and we need to reevaluate a moon mission. It's seriously still a nontrivial problem today, it's not like riding a bike. In my mind, the fact that they did it forty years ago doesn't take away the danger and knowledge involved with such a feat but instead just proves how badass and ahead of their time those people who worked on the Apollo Program were (yes, yes, Wernher von Braun and Nazi scientists, I'm aware).

    And as far as it's being "debated" I challenge you to name one thing that requires government spending that hasn't been debated off and on over the years. Oh, the massive Department of Defense spending, right, for some reason nobody debates that ballooning military industrial complex and that's about it. Wouldn't want to look "weak" going into office now, would we. Speaking of which, I'm all for a shift of some of those funds to space exploration. It took a space race with 'the ruskies' to get us to the moon maybe another 'rah rah USA' race with those other 'commies' will help us establish a presence and research lab?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gregulator (756993)

      "I challenge you to name one thing that requires government spending that hasn't been debated off and on over the years. Oh, the massive Department of Defense spending, right, for some reason nobody debates that ballooning military industrial complex and that's about it"

      Umm, liberals and others rally against .mil/DOD spending all the time. You are doing it right now.

    • The Apollo Program cost was estimated at $24.5B in 1975. This is $150-$170B in 2007 dollars.

      About one half what the Congessional Budget Office estimates the 2008 bank bailout has cost taxpayers.

      The bank bailout was spending money here on Earth where it could be put to good use. The bank bailout saved the economy, stopped the recession, kept unemployment low, stopped all the foreclosures, uhhh...

      Nevermind!

      The Moon or Bust! Uhhhh....

      The moon and bust!

      As long as the people printing the money are in

      • by swb (14022)

        Haha, good use -- you mean keeping the wealthy class wealthy, and the senior bank execs in charge?

    • Ok so it doesn't suck, but it really isn't that useful a place to go on its own. There's nothing there. I could see a base there as being useful for launching further deeper space missions, but then we first need to solve some other issues. Really right now the space research we should be focusing on seems to be launch costs. It costs WAY too much to put shit in space. Like $10,000/pound. We need to bring that cost down, then maybe we can look at putting more things (like a moon base) out in space.

      Once we g

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's seriously still a nontrivial problem today, it's not like riding a bike. In my mind, the fact that they did it forty years ago doesn't take away the danger and knowledge involved with such a feat but instead just proves how badass and ahead of their time those people who worked on the Apollo Program were (yes, yes, Wernher von Braun and Nazi scientists, I'm aware).

      My dad worked on Apollo (and Mercury and Gemini and the space station and shuttle) while we lived next to the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston. He died a while back from cancer, but during his life, he was the consummate cool engineer: loved to solve problems, never said much, very calm, worked very hard. He focused on the electrical systems, and he just worked on it all the time. He turned down promotions, because all he wanted to do was be an engineer, solve problems and get the systems working.

      So when

  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paiute (550198) on Monday January 30, 2012 @01:57PM (#38867455)
    Without the lash of the Communist menace, Congress would not have spend trillions to shoot people into space.
    • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cavreader (1903280) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:20PM (#38867819)

      Society has become too risk adverse to do anything as innovative and risky as the first moon landings. The minute something goes wrong everyone immediately starts arguing about whose fault it was instead of acknowledging the entire venture is risky so don't be too surprised if a couple of things blow up. The rocket disasters in the early space program did not shelve the project until endless analyses could be conducted to guarantee 100% future success. The astronauts who participate in the space program certainly understand and are willing to take the risk and as long as that is the case we should continue pushing outwards. Thousands of years ago people blindly set off to sail the oceans when they thought the world was flat but they went anyway and eventually new discoveries were made, Early scientific minds were willing to chance being charged as religious heretics in order to study and eventually publish information about the solar system and basic physics models. We can't depend on any politicians to say or support any risky venture because they are afraid of being blamed for any failures. The only way the US will get back to the moon is if China (or any other country) starts working in that direction. Then the politicians might be willing to fund and promote a risky project in the sacred cause of national security.

      • by Dutch Gun (899105)

        The rocket disasters in the early space program did not shelve the project until endless analyses could be conducted to guarantee 100% future success.

        The early Apollo disaster that killed three astronauts did, in fact, set the program back time-wise, and put more focus on safety. It forced NASA to take a good, long look at a number of substandard and unsafe systems and redesign them for the better.

        Also, I think you give modern society too little credit. We lost two shuttles in pretty horrific and spectacular disasters, and we kept flying them. Public support didn't evaporate. It's just that the shuttle fleet is too old at this point, and for lots of

      • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday January 30, 2012 @04:06PM (#38869355) Homepage Journal

        Society has become too risk adverse to do anything as innovative and risky as the first moon landings.

        No it hasn't. Yes, we've minimized risk where possible, but not minimizing risk as much as you can for a particular feat is just stupid. But people still bungi jump, climb mountains, do extreme motocross and snowboarding/skateboarding, drag racing 200mph in a quarter mile, etc.

        The minute something goes wrong everyone immediately starts arguing about whose fault it was instead of acknowledging the entire venture is risky so don't be too surprised if a couple of things blow up.

        I take it you weren't yet born when Apollo 7 blew up.

        The rocket disasters in the early space program did not shelve the project until endless analyses could be conducted to guarantee 100% future success.

        What early rocket disasters? Yeah, a lot of UNMANNED rockets blew up, why do you think they were unmanned? Apollo 7 set the program back by two years rather than their saying "well, accidents happen, let's launch another one."

        Thousands of years ago people blindly set off to sail the oceans when they thought the world was flat

        Sailors knew the world wasn't flat, as they coud see the land slowly sinking into the horizon as they got farther away.

        Early scientific minds were willing to chance being charged as religious heretics in order to study and eventually publish information about the solar system and basic physics models.

        Yeah, that's why Leonardo spoke in code.

        The reason government isn't sponsoring moon exploration is because there's no need for government to do so, especially since robots seem to be doing a pretty good job on Mars and other planets.

        We're not going to ever leave the solar system and colonize another one unless someone discovers a way around the lightspeed limit, and if it ever happesn it will be generations from now.

        Politicians aren't afraid of dead soldiers in Iraq, or dead Navy Seals in Afghanistan and Somalia, are they? So why would they be afraid of dead astronauts? Rather than parrot what you hear, give it a little thought.

  • We'd have never gone (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Gideon Wells (1412675) on Monday January 30, 2012 @01:57PM (#38867461)

    Part of what got our country into gear was JFK's death. JFK was even trying to covertly kill the program by rigging it so Republicans would kill it for lack of favorable earmark kick backs and similar games.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:00PM (#38867501)

    The Cold War and the sudden and unexpected advances the Soviets made in their remarkable early space program (thanks to the sadly underrated and largely forgotten genius of Sergei Korolev [wikipedia.org]) where the primary motivators that led to Apollo. Without the strong desire of the U.S. to have a major "first" in space over such a military rival, it's very unlikely the U.S. would have ever gone beyond LEO. Unlike LEO, there was relatively little to gain strategically or technologically from a manned moon mission. It was mostly a nationalistic pride thing. Apollo was designed to show that the U.S. was capable of space firsts too, and everything about the mission--from its highly public nature to the planting of the U.S. flag--was meant to highlight that.

  • by assertation (1255714) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:02PM (#38867529)

    I know Newt is just making vaporous campaign promises and that there are "trickle down" benefits for ordinary people from the space program, but if you are going to spend big to have new technology why not do something more people can benefit from directly?

    - a national network of bullet trains?

    - a "space race" for an electric car with the same range as a gas powered car and that can be recharged in under 10 min?

  • by anom (809433) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:03PM (#38867535)

    We need to invent warp drive by 2063 to meet the Vulcans, but it's 2012 and we can't even get to the moon!

    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      To be fair I never saw any moon base in the movie..

    • by Grishnakh (216268) on Monday January 30, 2012 @03:07PM (#38868563)

      That was an alternate universe. In this universe, we don't meet the Vulcans, and we never progress as a species to interstellar travel.

      I need to figure out how to invent an interdimensional travel device like on "Sliders", so I can move to the alternate universe where humanity didn't turn into a bunch of losers like this one.

  • What if ...? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sehlat (180760) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:03PM (#38867543)

    For one thing, we might have practical fusion power by now.

    The Apollo program taught a lot of lessons, but one of them was "If you're a government-funded research program, DO NOT SUCCEED." Congress began axing the budget for space exploration about ten minutes after Armstrong's "One small step for a man..." After all, we did the job, beat the Rooskies, hallelujah now we can quit wasting all that money.

    I've noticed one thing about fusion: it's *always* "twenty years off" and has been since the early fifties. Tiny little steps, "we need more funding", and "maybe we'll get something in (this year+20). And over the past forty years, a lot of bold proposals for testbeds that, while crude and inefficient, might actually have WORKED so they could be improved, have been shot down. (cf. Bussard's proposal to use heavy, water-cooled high-strength magnets to brute-force a solution.)

    See you in 2032, when "We'll have fusion in 2052." will be the rallying cry.

  • by Dark$ide (732508) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:05PM (#38867559) Journal
    Let the Chinese have the next go. Or is America going to start a cold war with them to start the space race to get to Moonbase Alpha [wikipedia.org] first?
    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      If China did it, it would just be to prove that they have arrived. As soon as they did it, they would end up dropping the program the same way the U.S. and Soviets did. There is little to gain from it. It's really more symbolic. And once you've done it, you've made your point.

  • by LastGunslinger (1976776) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:06PM (#38867577)
    Gingrich's speech was no more than pandering to the crowd ahead of the primary election. He's made bullshit promises in every state he's campaigned in so far. How does funding a new moon mission mesh with the Republican party's insistence on deep budget cuts on everything but military spending? Face it, we aren't going to the moon or Mars anytime soon. One side of the aisle wants to overspend on the military, the other wants to overspend on social programs. All the debate over taxes and discretionary spending is political theatre. Neither party is willing to make the sacrifices necessary to fix budgetary problems and neither really gives a damn about space exploration.
    • It's pretty easy to verify that Gingrich has been a "space nut" for a very long time. This isn't a one-time "pander to the folks in Central Florida" thing. He read Jerry Pournelle's "A Step Farther Out" back in the 80s, and was sufficiently interested by it to contact Pournelle personally to discuss the ideas in it.

      (Rants about Pournelle's politics, Gingrich's politics, are entirely beside the point I'm making here.)

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:25PM (#38867895)

      Gingrich's speech was no more than pandering to the crowd ahead of the primary election. He's made bullshit promises in every state he's campaigned in so far.

      The idea of a more permanent return to the moon is something Newt has talked about for decades, and also pushed forward a bill or two on.

      Newt has been really "into" space for a long, long time. I agree the timing of talking about this is pandering but fundamentally Newt really is interested in furthering space exploration.

      How does funding a new moon mission mesh with the Republican party's insistence on deep budget cuts on everything but military spending?

      Here is where your ignorance shows. You didn't even finish reading the SUMMARY much less the actual story!

      Newt wants to take some small portion of the NASA budget to issue X-Prize style prizes that move private industry forward in the goal of a lunar space colony.

      When put the way he actually means, does it sound so crazy? The tax payers pay very little, private industry takes all the risk. It would accelerate the already growing private space industry but with a very beneficial focus beyond just "going to space".

      Regardless of who actually becomes president this is a very good idea to support private space travel and to reduce government spending in space at the same time.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:11PM (#38867659)

    Seriously, the moon and Mars are a waste of time and money. Near earth orbit, in constrast, has a lot of potential for power generation, enhanced telecommunications, earth observation and eventually, permanent, self-sustaining living environments. As "cool" as it would be to get to Mars or the moon (again), there's just no compelling reason to do so that's not served better by near earth orbital stations and satellites.

  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:13PM (#38867689)

    He has even been so bold as to propose setting up a manned base by 2020, driven by empowering private industry to take the initiative.

    What's the economic incentive for private industry to build/support a moon base? Without government funding, what's the return on investment? More moon rocks? Mining what minerals? A good view of the ocean? Seriously. Companies don't really invest in altruistic endeavors without a profit motive.

  • by Petron (1771156) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:16PM (#38867739)
    There would be no Tang!

    Oh, the humanity! *sob*
  • by JSBiff (87824) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:16PM (#38867747) Journal

    Just like a politician to bring up a massive government boondoggle which might have some scientific benefits, but which provides no possibility of a payoff in practical terms.

    I propose a different science/engineering race with China:

    The first to build and get patents on associated technology for the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor [ted.com]. China announced a year or two back that they had begun.

    LFTR most likely would provide a trillion dollar+ payoff to whoever gets there first and can deploy it both domestically and sell exports to other countries within the lifespan of the patents.

    Or how about the closely related WAMSR - the Waste Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor [youtube.com].

    Those look both doable, almost certainly cheaper than a moonbase (though possibly still somewhat expensive), and would have enormous benefits for mankind.

    But, no doubt Republicans would decry a program to rapidly get the LFTR or WAMSR up and running as a socialist, big-government program. . . but somehow, a freaking moonbase isn't. Oh, I know why - because there's no actual money to be made on a moonbase, so the private sector doesn't care about it and thus doesn't need "protection" from government programs.

    • Sorry, owing to their inherent usefulness neither of those technologies rate as either 'bread' or 'circus' and are therefore disqualified from the list of potential political promises.
  • by queazocotal (915608) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:18PM (#38867795)

    'Waste anything but time'.
    These are truly magical words to a bureaucracy.

    When they were uttered, NASA became an enormously powerful agency, with a massive budget, and the resulting craft was guaranteed to be ridiculously expensive, and optimised entirely wrongly for an ongoing space program.

    NASA then set the precedent for the 'right way' to do space - which proceeded on, helped by space being seen not as a place to do things in, but a convenient way to feed aerospace companies welfare.

    For example, NASAs last attempt to 'reduce the cost of space launch' (x33/venturestar) had not one, not two, but three completely untried technologies on it.

    SpaceX - by doing it in a much leaner manner, have developed a rocket and engines for a tiny fraction of the budget of what NASAs estimation tools say it'd cost them.
    And you know that it'd have overrun in reality.

    If you look at a typical NASA procurement requirement, you do not see 'Must deliver cargo of mass M to position P with speed S'.
    You see a long list of requirements that are only incidental, but so happen to require expertise only available from the two or three 'usual suspects', meaning only they can make credible bids.

    The lack of funding, and the clear utility of satellites may well have lead to much cheaper rockets being developed a lot sooner.

  • by caseih (160668) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:24PM (#38867883)

    What-if scenarios such as this one are pointless. What if the American revolution hadn't happened? What if the Romans had had an industrial evolution? What if Hitler had won the war? What if 911 never happened? What if a hacker had a girlfriend?

    All of these questions are only useful in an entertainment sort out way (that's the only polite way I could phrase this). They aren't really answerable in any way that is useful in analyzing things as they currently are and where they appear to be going. Sometimes fun to think about of course.

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:29PM (#38867961) Homepage

    Space would have become a USAF business in the US. The USAF had the Dyna-Soar program (small manned craft, launched on a rocket, lands on wings), which was cancelled in favor of Apollo. The USAF also had the Manned Orbiting Laboratory, which was a lot like Skylab, but earlier. The USAF would probably have sizable manned space stations by now, equipped with missile defenses.

    The Gusmobile (the six-seat Gemini) might have flown. With both the Gusmobile and Dyna-Soar, the US would have had a solid low-orbit manned capability.

    More robotic landers would have been sent to the Moon. The USSR sent several large ones, which explored more of the Moon than the astronauts did. But landing and retrieving humans from the moon probably would have been skipped. Face it, the place is rather dull.

    Recoverable boosters probably would have been developed. (A parachute system almost went into the Saturn V.) At some point, a large shuttle might have been built. Probably more like Buran than the US shuttle. Although Buran looks like the US shuttle, it has no launch engines; it's purely a payload at launch. Buran was much less fragile than the US shuttle; the USSR once flew one to Farnborough for an air show. Also, it was realized after a few US shuttle launches that a titanium-based design could stand the heat load, which would have eliminated the ceramic tile headache. A more robust shuttle with mostly reusable boosters could achieve a respectable launch rate.

  • by Kohath (38547) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:30PM (#38867979)

    It doesn't matter what anyone says. There's no money to go to the moon or anywhere else.

    The US can't go to the moon for the same reason Greece and Spain can't go to the moon. Bankrupt countries can't afford ambitious vanity projects.

  • by mbone (558574) on Monday January 30, 2012 @02:51PM (#38868355)

    (I am assuming that all the unmanned missions would have been flown same as in the real world, and of course that is a big assumption .)

    We would know very little about the formation and early evolution of the solar system. Apollo nailed that, and our current knowledge is largely based on Apollo samples. The Soviet Luna samples would help, but I don't think they would be enough.

    We also probably wouldn't have any Lunar Laser Ranging (that's a harder call, but all of the early LLR was US, and I don't think that without the Apollo LLR
    the French would have put retroreflectors on the Lunakhods). That, plus no Apollo ALSEP seimo network, would mean we would know very little about Moon's deep interior, such as whether or not it has a core.

    I think that those are the two biggest ones.

    Of course, if Apollo had never happened, Alexi Leonid would probably have been the first man on the Moon, but the implications of that are too far outside the reach of my crystal ball.

  • by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79&gmail,com> on Monday January 30, 2012 @03:11PM (#38868623) Homepage

    It amazes me that so many allegedly "educated" people have fallen so quickly and so hard for a fraudulent fabrication of such laughable proportions. The very idea that a gigantic ball of rock happens to orbit our planet, showing itself in neat, four-week cycles -- with the same side facing us all the time -- is ludicrous. Furthermore, it is an insult to common sense and a damnable affront to intellectual honesty and integrity. That people actually believe it is evidence that the liberals have wrested the last vestiges of control of our public school system from decent, God-fearing Americans (as if any further evidence was needed! Daddy's Roommate? God Almighty!)

    Documentaries such as Enemy of the State have accurately portrayed the elaborate, byzantine network of surveillance satellites that the liberals have sent into space to spy on law-abiding Americans. Equipped with technology developed by Handgun Control, Inc., these satellites have the ability to detect firearms from hundreds of kilometers up. That's right, neighbors .. the next time you're out in the backyard exercising your Second Amendment rights, the liberals will see it! These satellites are sensitive enough to tell the difference between a Colt .45 and a .38 Special! And when they detect you with a firearm, their computers cross-reference the address to figure out your name, and then an enormous database housed at Berkeley is updated with information about you.

    Of course, this all works fine during the day, but what about at night? Even the liberals can't control the rotation of the Earth to prevent nightfall from setting in (only Joshua was able to ask for that particular favor!) That's where the "moon" comes in. Powered by nuclear reactors, the "moon" is nothing more than an enormous balloon, emitting trillions of candlepower of gun-revealing light. Piloted by key members of the liberal community, the "moon" is strategically moved across the country, pointing out those who dare to make use of their God-given rights at night!

    Yes, I know this probably sounds paranoid and preposterous, but consider this. Despite what the revisionist historians tell you, there is no mention of the "moon" anywhere in literature or historical documents -- anywhere -- before 1950. That is when it was initially launched. When President Josef Kennedy, at the State of the Union address, proclaimed "We choose to go to the moon", he may as well have said "We choose to go to the weather balloon." The subsequent faking of a "moon" landing on national TV was the first step in a long history of the erosion of our constitutional rights by leftists in this country. No longer can we hide from our government when the sun goes down.

    * - I take no credit nor blame for this post.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 30, 2012 @03:13PM (#38868655)

    On the night before the launch of Apollo 11, Wernher von Baun made this comment about the future

    “If it had been our intention merely to go to the moon, bring back a handful of rocks and soil, and forget the entire enterprise, then we would certainly have been history’s biggest fools.”
            - Wernher von Braun

      and yet, that’s exactly what we did

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Monday January 30, 2012 @03:30PM (#38868877)

    I'm not a historian, physicist, or engineer so I'm going off of my layman's interpretations. But, we kind of had parallel "space" efforts with our rocket planes like the X-51 that lost out to rockets. Had we not gone with massive, wasteful brute force rockets and gradually transitioned into space with reusable rockets and aerospace planes, maybe we'd have grown our space program more organically from high altitude flights, to LEO, to the moon?

  • by spaceyhackerlady (462530) on Monday January 30, 2012 @03:56PM (#38869235)

    I've always felt that the biggest issue for space exploration was when a certain U.S. president changed the requirements. It wasn't enough to send people to the Moon. People were already working on that. It had to be done before 31 December 1969. This made some approaches more viable than others. As a hurry-up job they didn't care about the post-Apollo future. Get them to the Moon, get them back, by the end of the decade. Only one way would work in the time available, a man in a can. And that's the way they did it. With more time they would have done it differently. Part of a system, a unified plan.

    It's sort of what you might get if, for example, in 1935 somebody had said "we need an airplane that can carry 400 people, and we need it now". The resulting airplane might have resembled the Spruce Goose, a brilliant, but sterile, achievement. They would not have designed a 747, because too much development needed to happen first.

    ...laura

Forty two.

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