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Moon Australia NASA Space Science

Neil Armstrong Gives Rare Interview 248

Posted by timothy
from the describe-the-tang-mines-you-discovered dept.
pcritter writes "In a rare coup for accountants' association CPA Australia, CEO Alex Malley interviews Neil Armstrong, whose dad worked as an Auditor, bringing him back four decades to the pinnacle of the space race. Neil reveals, 'I thought we had a 90 per cent chance of getting back safely to Earth on that flight but only a 50-50 chance of making a landing on that first attempt.' The four-part video series is now posted on CPA Australia's website."
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Neil Armstrong Gives Rare Interview

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  • by CAKAS (2646219) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @11:57PM (#40106429)
    I still don't understand this. We have the technology to do it, we have the people wanting to do it, and we have another group of people wanting to live and work there. Why don't we build a base on moon?

    There would be no insects (I really hate those, but at least geckos take a good care of them!), and it would be a good base for our future discovery of new planets and solar systems. There ARE more there, earth is nothing special.

    Is the United States incapable to do this? Does it take Russians [slashdot.org], Chinese [slashdot.org] or Japanese [slashdot.org] to get there? What the hell happened to America?
    • A certain group considers it a waste of money for the government. Ignoring the fact the NASA at it's peak allows billion in revenue to go back to the government. But some people don't want to understand anything about long term payoff, spin-off, and the fact that they create cutting edge industries.

      This is what happens when non scientific and ignorant people get equal say how the government works.

      And yes, I DO believe people without a fundamental understanding of science shouldn't be allowed to participate in the government.
      Same with people who can't do intermediate algebra.

      • by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Friday May 25, 2012 @12:08AM (#40106483)

        Or maybe because even most scientists (actual scientists, not armchair commentators on slashdot) can't find an actual utilitarian reason to build a moon base other than juvenile delight at living out their sci-fi fantasies?

        • by kimvette (919543) on Friday May 25, 2012 @12:16AM (#40106517) Homepage Journal

          Isn't that reason enough? What happened to ambition, curiosity, and doing things "because it's there?"

          • by Zeroedout (2036220) * on Friday May 25, 2012 @12:26AM (#40106561)
            Well, finite resources don't allow for infinite growth. See global warming / climate change
            • by mikael_j (106439)

              So why are we building so much other, even less useful, crap?

              • So why are we building so much other, even less useful, crap?

                Because the human race would stop if we didn't have this:

                http://www.fragrantica.com/perfume/Nicole-Polizzi/Snooki-13729.html [fragrantica.com]

                Obligatory "I don't want to live on this planet anymore."

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Anonymous Coward

                Because people are nincompoops. Which takes us back to the original point.

                There is something warm and fuzzy about a free market economy, where everything "just works" because everyone is making decisions that are optimal for themselves. Back in cold, hard reality, that is a load of shit, because people are nincompoops who make retarded decisions, which collectively results in a massive clusterfuck.

                Perhaps a moon base specifically is not a great objective (I don't know, I'm not an expert, I want the experts

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by ArcherB (796902)

                  There is something warm and fuzzy about a free market economy, where everything "just works" because everyone is making decisions that are optimal for themselves. Back in cold, hard reality, that is a load of shit, because people are nincompoops who make retarded decisions, which collectively results in a massive clusterfuck.

                  Actually, this is exactly why a free market works. See, the smart, hard working, and let's face it, lucky people tend to win. They are successful and they multiply. Google creates a search engine. It is successful, more search engines emerge. Some may be better. The better ones will survive. The crappy ones will fail. The "nincompoops" almost always fail. Others see their mistakes and make it a point to not repeat them. The nincompoops usually end up working for the successful ones, benefiting bot

                  • by geekoid (135745)

                    " Of course, the answer is, work hard, be smart, take chances and eventually you'll get lucky."
                    sometimes. Sometime it's 'he was born with money' , other times it's 'made millions as bonuses even though they do a crappy job'.
                    There are many reasons.
                    Assume all rich people work hard, are smart, is stupid. Hollywood is filled with rich people who aren't smart, and word a few month out of the year.
                    My kids learned to read and do math in re- K as well. And K, and 1st. All in public schools. My friend has a high sch

            • by khallow (566160)
              You really should have said that finite resources can't satisfy infinite demand. I can want far more than humanity's capability to provide. So we have to prioritize those wants.

              Growth is a vague label that can mean many different things. Growth of knowledge, for example, can be sustained for a long time while growth of people (as we currently are) can only go so many doublings before we exhaust all physical resources (space, energy, matter, etc) in the Solar System.
            • by mug funky (910186)

              how do you expect us to trump earth's limited resources then? perhaps we could look elsewhere for minerals. obviously fossil fuels aren't likely to be found off earth, but it's something to aim for.

              also, OP said "self sustaining". one would presume the resource usage would be a one-time thing.

            • by Bongo (13261) on Friday May 25, 2012 @08:02AM (#40107965)

              The need to go to space is because life has to outgrow this little rock.

              If we stay here we will, eventually, die out. "Sustainability" is a myth.

              If we had the resources to build giant contained cities, we could let the planet go back to nature. Urbanisation reduces cruelty and violence and civilises people. But we are not even half urbanised. We need more resources, be it using space rocks, to build the giant self contained cities. Then you can let nature flourish undisturbed.

              The alternative is we go back to burning dung in mud huts and slaughtering every animal we can get our hands on. That's what we used to do. We were very good at it, hence our numbers grew and grew and we came to dominate the planet. Dismantling industrial society would only send us back to that, and we'd have to tear up the planet again a second time, because the mentality of people living in villages and tribes is much more brutal than what modern people have, and once your situation is back to that, your mentality goes back to that too in a dozen generations. There's a reason the "desert religions" were so brutal -- people were tribal and killing others was basically the only way to resolve things.

              We have one chance now, in the 21st century, one window to get to space for real. If we don't do it now it is a downward spiral, and we won't have the resources from this planet to try industrialising again, so we will all hit the wall again, and slowly we'll poison everything, in our millions of warring tribes, and even nature won't really survive.

              Either we get off this planet and figure out how to grab our materials from the lifeless solar system, or we slowly perish in a downward spiral of crises, violence, competition, wars, pollution and global extinction, taking this garden of nature down with us.

          • by _KiTA_ (241027) on Friday May 25, 2012 @12:26AM (#40106565) Homepage

            Isn't that reason enough? What happened to ambition, curiosity, and doing things "because it's there?"

            It got buried under quarterly budget reports and two generations of short sighted politicians whose only motivation is to get themselves reelected and to push a hyperpartisan agenda.

            Oh, and Democrats, who are generally worthless at any form of argument or debate.

            • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Friday May 25, 2012 @01:20AM (#40106741)

              Or farsighted politicians who don't want to have a multi hundred billion dollar base on the moon sucking up cash for no reason 10 years from now in circumstances they can't predict.

              When you have money to burn a lot of things look like ideas you can fling money at, including tax cuts for people who don't need tax cuts, bridges to nowhere etc. The problem is that when the economy takes a negative dip (as it always does) you need to cut things which aren't necessary so you can focus resources on something that really needs it.

              Any sort of adventure like a moon base needs to be as part of an investment into something. Maybe that's as a jumping off point to Mars, maybe that's for mining asteroids, or maybe it's just because we desperately need living space and it looks like it might be viable. But right now, it's none of those things.

              National prestige is worth something, as is general investment in scientific curiosity. So you pay a bunch of scientists to figure out what is a good use of scientific money, and if they tell you 'not a moon base' then you should probably follow that. There are lots of other problems to be solved that look far more likely to be successful at this point.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 25, 2012 @12:30AM (#40106577)

            it died with the educational system. now the new mantra is -- whats the ROI ? and whats in it for me ?

          • by dutchd00d (823703)

            The space race was never about that. It was a dick-measuring contest between two superpowers. Ambition and curiosity were good for the rousing speeches but not much else.

            • And if that's what we're doing, I'd rather do the measuring with Saturn Vs and Energias than Humvees and IEDs.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                Olympics vs. War.

                Even the ancient greeks knew that competition was important, and games less destructive than fighting.

                In a proper competition, both sides are better for it.
          • What happened to ambition, curiosity, and doing things "because it's there?"

            A dose of reality? First there's the 9-5 followed by the wife and then the kids, the house, the mortgage and the cars. By the time that we're done doing all of these things there isn't much left for curiosity or doing non-essential things, "because they're there". Besides, why should I keep doing all of those things and paying my taxes so that you can live out your boyhood moon base fantasies? If you want a moon base, pay for it yourself.

          • by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:57AM (#40107043)

            Isn't that reason enough? What happened to ambition, curiosity, and doing things "because it's there?"

            Actually, the US space effort was motivated by "because Sputnik's there".

            Don't worry; it's just a matter of time until someone provokes our latent inferiority complex again.

            • by sysrammer (446839)

              "Don't worry; it's just a matter of time until someone provokes our latent inferiority complex again."

              Yep. Once another nation gets close to being able to throw rocks down the gravity well, we'll go into a panic, and get the military-industrial complex behind the project to "reach the asteroids first", or whatever.

          • Bottom line: if you want the US government to fund it, they need to find the money.

            They get money by taxing US citizens.

            Will the people of the USA agree to higher taxes to fund this?

            My suspicion is that while the majority of US slashdot readers might pay an extra 100 dollars a year to help fund it, most US citizens wouldn't agree to this tax rise.

            They might all agree to cut 100 dollars off some other government expenditure, but my suspicion is that it would be a total nightmare to get them to all agree on

        • by boshi (612264) on Friday May 25, 2012 @12:24AM (#40106549) Homepage
          I think this line of reasoning is very short-sighted. History is filled with examples of discoveries made by accident while trying to push the boundaries of a field. How do you know that a more permanent presence on the moon wouldn't lead to the next major breakthrough?

          To think that we can learn everything that we need to by doing all of our experiments at the bottom of a gravity well in our own tiny little corner of the solar system is absurd.
          • by demachina (71715) on Friday May 25, 2012 @12:49AM (#40106649)

            We've spent well over $100 billion on a foray somewhat out of the bottom of a gravity well. So far it has produced almost nothing, its called ISS.

            Chances are a base on the moon would be only slightly more productive than ISS.

            The moon might be worthwhile for mining water or Helium isotopes though this has not yet been well established. The far side might be a good place for some observatories. It might be a place to train for a base on Mars. Then the use cases starts trailing off pretty quickly

            Its pretty simple, you need to build a strong, well thought out, case that there is something on the Moon worth doing that would actually justify the significant expense of returning and building a base. This is the step that was completely missed in the Apollo program which is why everyone stopped caring around Apollo 12 and the program ended at Apollo 17. An emotional case about the coolness factor, and pointless space races with other countries, doesn't really cut it.

            The spinoffs from Apollo did end up making it worthwhile but its not really clear you would get anything close to the same spinoffs going back. Apollo had to actually invent a lot of things to pull it off. If you go back to the moon you would mostly be revisiting technologies that have already been developed so the spinoffs would almost certainly be much less.

            Mars would be a much harder destination but it would be substantially more worthwhile since it is an almost colonizable planet. A case can be made for the that though it wouldn't be easy. It might also produce some new spinoffs since it would be a much harder journey and much more challenging to do.

            • by LordLucless (582312) on Friday May 25, 2012 @12:55AM (#40106679)

              The spinoffs from Apollo did end up making it worthwhile but its not really clear you would get anything close to the same spinoffs going back. Apollo had to actually invent a lot of things to pull it off. If you go back to the moon you would mostly be revisiting technologies that have already been developed so the spinoffs would almost certainly be much less.

              Yeah, but you wouldn't just be "going back". Building a long-term habitat on the moon is likely to bring about just as many - if not more - useful spinoffs. In fact, since the challenges that need to be met are largely centred around making a limited-resource environment friendly and liveable, I'd think their application would be even more direct, since we're all into the whole sustainable living/climate change/peak oil thing these days.

              • by demachina (71715) on Friday May 25, 2012 @01:22AM (#40106747)

                I'm willing to wager a long term habitat on the moon would look disturbingly similar to the ISS . . . . but on the moon.

                I am williing to bet it would be operated with a supply chain disturbingly similar to the ISS with just about everything shipped from Earth. I suppose they could open a land fill and dump the trash on the Moon saving having to fly it back to Earth like ISS. Is that what you would call a "spinoff"? There will probably be objections from the environmentalists on that one.

                If they really pushed the envelope they might mine water on the Moon and get some Oxygen and Hydrogen, but I think that would require you to put the base on the South Pole and its not clear yet if there are in fact large ice deposits there.

                If they were to put a nuclear reactor in the base that would be interesting but I'm willing to bet the opposition to launching one and doing that would be massive. I'm willing to bet instead it will have a big array of solar panels, like ISS.

                You are seriously kidding yourself if you think its a given there will be huge technological breakthroughs as a result of this particular program.

          • Somewhere in the 1970s, a lot of people in power took the position that progress is out of control and regardless of the field, space exploration, medical technology, fusion power, they just throw on the brakes. They didn't manage to get a handle on computer networks before they became highly disruptive, but if we had simultaneous disruptive progress in several major fields at once, it would make things very challenging for the old guard.

            Progress only benefits people who aren't already at the top of the he

        • by khallow (566160)

          Or maybe because even most scientists (actual scientists, not armchair commentators on slashdot) can't find an actual utilitarian reason to build a moon base other than juvenile delight at living out their sci-fi fantasies?

          No offense, but being a scientist (which incidentally many armchair commentators are on Slashdot) doesn't help you evaluate the utility of a moon base. And a large portion of space scientists have a natural conflict of interest. Namely, under current conditions, a moon base would cut into their funding.

          I think the original poster which you replied to was way off base, but let's not go to a different extreme and let unqualified people make decisions for us merely because they have a degree.

        • by jamstar7 (694492)
          Spinoff technologies. It will be cheaper to mine the moon for the raw materials for steel and put the finished product in geosynch orbit than it will be to boost every goddamned gram of every SPS we hang in space from Canaveral or Baikanour. SPSes are a spinoff technology. Also, lunar-built space vehicles that don't need to fight ehir way out of the Earth's gravity well. It's raining soup in space, and all everybody is doing is bitching their clothes are getting wet instead of hunting for a bucket.
        • by subreality (157447) on Friday May 25, 2012 @01:37AM (#40106793)

          juvenile delight at living out their sci-fi fantasies

          What's wrong with that? What do YOU live for? We have a lot of other things needing, but fulfilling my childhood fantasies is the long-term end goal, even if it doesn't happen in my lifetime.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by VortexCortex (1117377)

          Or maybe because even most scientists (actual scientists, not armchair commentators on slashdot) can't find an actual utilitarian reason to build a moon base other than juvenile delight at living out their sci-fi fantasies?

          You sound like a dinosaur to me... You know, the kind of ignorant fool who scurries about, oblivious to the Universe at large, worrying over utterly inconsequential crap while there's a huge asteroid headed for Earth about to make them extinct. Make no bones about it, one is headed this way right now. EVERY scientist will tell you that it's just a mater of time. What if we got out to the asteroid belt, captured us a few and had them orbiting the moon for quick dispatch. Meanwhile we mine them, not becau

          • by sysrammer (446839)

            "If getting off this rock isn't priority #1 then you're just burying your head in the sand, and ignoring the fossil records found therein."

            Nice line, that's a keeper. I was just watching a show on the top 7 catastophic events to occur on Earth: "The Great Dying", "Ordovician Die-off", "K-T Event" (of course), etc. Cosmic events ranging from planetoids to asteroids to supernova gamma rays.

            Diversify.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by CRCulver (715279)

            There's a whole solar system full of resources to utilise and SPACE to EXPAND since we hate the idea of state regulated birth control>

            Even with multiple space elevators, you can't move more people off the planet than are being born on it at any given moment. Expansion into space is not a realistic solution for overpopulation.

            You also present a false dichotomy between space colonization and extinction somewhere in the short term. Instead of expanding into space, a quite possible future for sentient race

            • by sysrammer (446839)

              I expect the human race to be able to move the Earth by the time our sun proves to be a liability.

        • Or maybe because even most scientists (actual scientists, not armchair commentators on slashdot) can't find an actual utilitarian reason to build a moon base other than juvenile delight at living out their sci-fi fantasies?

          Apart from that, sex and food what else motivates humanity?

          Making money (which seems to be what *everyone* wants to do) is just to get more food, and sex time anyways. Oh and moon bases, ferraris, whatever.
          So yeah. Good enough for me

          • by sysrammer (446839)

            Apart from that, sex and food what else motivates humanity?

            Making money (which seems to be what *everyone* wants to do) is just to get more food, and sex time anyways. Oh and moon bases, ferraris, whatever.
            So yeah. Good enough for me

            Power. Monkey power.

        • Or maybe because even most scientists (actual scientists, not armchair commentators on slashdot) can't find an actual utilitarian reason to build a moon base other than juvenile delight at living out their sci-fi fantasies?

          Well, how about experiments conducted in a low-gravity environment?

          How about telescopes and other such sensors that are capable of things we'd never be able to do on the Earth?

          How about because fuck it, it's there, which is one of the most important driving factors in humanity?

          Why did we climb Everest? Because it's the tallest mountain. Why does man try to skydive from ever-increased heights? Because we've never skydived from that high before. Why does the Heart Attack Grill make a Quadruple Bypass burger? Because honestly, a good cheeseburger has more calories in it than a month of your salary.

          • by sFurbo (1361249) on Friday May 25, 2012 @03:32AM (#40107153)
            Fine, but don't force me to spend my money on your fantasies.

            I don't think anybody would object to private corporations making a moon base*, but if you want to use tax money on it, you had better come up with something better then "But it would be REALLY COOL".

            *OK, this is /., SOMEBODY will complain.
            • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Friday May 25, 2012 @08:16AM (#40108039) Homepage

              Also fine, don't force me to spend my money on failed military adventures into the Mountains of Afghanistan. The Russians weren't inept or weak, and after nine years trying, they just recently proved that there's nothing to gain from a military occupation there, do we really need to repeat their mistake, but more expensively?

              If you really want to impress the world with your military might, a precision guided asteroid strike on a nuclear weapons production bunker would probably do the trick. Think long and hard enough and you might even come up with a "peaceful, scientific" pretext for the practice/demonstration (smaller) asteroid diversions.

          • by Smidge204 (605297)

            Well, how about experiments conducted in a low-gravity environment?

            Cheaper and easier to do it in low earth orbit and simulate however much "gravity" you need using a centrifuge. There are even some systems you can use on earth to effectively negate gravity which might be compatible with some experiments.

            How about telescopes and other such sensors that are capable of things we'd never be able to do on the Earth?

            Cheaper and easier to build a telescope that orbits the earth.

            How about because fuck it, it's there, which is one of the most important driving factors in humanity?

            I actually can't think of any human enterprise of any appreciable scale (the kind requiring national or international level cooperation) that was motivated entirely on the sake of doing. For example:

            Why did we climb Everest? Because it's the tallest mountain. Why does man try to skydive from ever-increased heights? Because we've never skydived from that high before. Why does the Heart Attack Grill make a Quadruple Bypass burger? Because honestly, a good cheeseburger has more calories in it than a month of your salary.

            None of thes

        • by thej1nx (763573)
          I agree! Columbus should have stayed home! Look what all his exploration nonsense lead to!
          .

          Oh wait...

        • by physburn (1095481)
          Once you have a moon space, you can mining material from the moon, particularly silicon, aluminium, titanium and oxygen. And launch to space some 36 times more cheaply in terms of energy. The up front cost of a moon base is a lot, especially including the mining equipment, a smelter, and frabrication planets. But once you have one you can build earth satellites, and explore the other planets, many time more cheaply. Earth is dependent on satellites, and since its getting crowded in orbit, we will need space
        • by argStyopa (232550)

          Complete disregard for long term geo-(luno?)politics, -1.

          Lunar astronomers can jump in here regarding how significant libration is, but there seem to be only two points on the moon that have both full-time solar exposure (ie power) and full-time line-of-sight to the earth: the north pole and the south pole.

          Two total, on the only significant satellite earth has.

          Look at WW2 and imagine how much harder that would have been to fight without Hawaii - an 'unsinkable aircraft carrier' sitting in the middle of the

        • Or maybe because even most scientists (actual scientists, not armchair commentators on slashdot) can't find an actual utilitarian reason to build a moon base other than juvenile delight at living out their sci-fi fantasies?

          And invading Iraq was productive exactly how?

          If we're going to go on another adventure, let's try to make it something new, different, and with relatively few civilian casualties.

          The Moon looks like a lot better payoff than the Middle East.

      • by turing_m (1030530)

        In an ideal world I would tend to agree. However, that does limit the number of people who can vote to maybe 10% of people, if that. It's a hard sell.

      • by khallow (566160)

        This is what happens when non scientific and ignorant people get equal say how the government works.

        If things ever truly worked that way, then you'd be among the first to get the boot for your non scientific, ignorant post above. There are no hard numbers or data surrounding your opinion above.

        The only way to support such an argument scientifically is to compare how things would be with and without. We can't compare an Earth or particular society without space activity to one with, but we can compare contemporary societies with differing levels of commitment to space activities.

        For example, the US s

        • by jamstar7 (694492) on Friday May 25, 2012 @01:44AM (#40106811)

          For example, the US spends a lot more on space activities than the member states of the European Space Agency, especially including DoD spending. Yet Europe is generally considered to be the more advanced culture scientifically and doesn't have quite the problem with the "non scientific, ignorant people" that are vexing you. So we have right here a data point indicating that maybe space exploration isn't all that beneficial in your own terms.

          They didn't democratize education in Europe with any of that 'no child left behind' and 'let's teach them to embrace their diversity and acknowledge their uniqueness' bullshit. In Europe, they actually (gasp) try to make the kids read, write, do basic math up to elementary mathmatical analysis, speak at least 2 languages, learn their own and world histories, and more. Google up the stats on how the schools of the various countries are rated. Do it. I dare ya.

      • Ignoring the fact the NASA at it's peak allows billion in revenue to go back to the government.

        Right kids! One slingshot each from the table on the left. Choose marbles or ball-bearings from desk B. Now get out there and boost the economy!

        P.S. A sentence should contain a finite verb.

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        If they can raise the money and do it themselves, then who would object? At any moment in time whoever wants to run a project can ask for donations or release token bonds to be bought and advertise this and if there are enough people who want to see a moonbase and they pay for it, then it wouldn't be a problem for anybody who doesn't want to see gov't spend money this way.

        As to voting: those who don't pay taxes to government shouldn't be able to vote. Those who pay more taxes than others should get extra v

    • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Friday May 25, 2012 @12:08AM (#40106477)

      What the hell happened to America?

      Too busy spending money on killing people and figuring out more efficient ways of killing people.

    • Might need insects (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MrEricSir (398214) on Friday May 25, 2012 @12:08AM (#40106479) Homepage

      Assuming the colony will produce it's own food, it may need insects to aid in decomposition of the compost.

      • That's a big assumption, there have been a few high profile experiments with closed loop "ecodomes" built on Earth, some of them are quite large structures. Building one that doesn't turn into rotting sesspit after a year or two is still beyond our technical grasp. For the foreseable future I think any off world colony is going to need a supply line for food and water. Our inability to create a sustainable source of food in isolation from Earth's environment is the tallest technological hurdle we have to le
    • by kermidge (2221646) on Friday May 25, 2012 @12:41AM (#40106615) Journal

      What's to understand?

      Read the responses by the overwhelming majority of posters here for almost any space-related article, for starters. They already have the answers, so why bother asking questions?

      Consider, perhaps, the huge aversion to risk, personally and societally, and the lawyerly legions ready to pounce on any 20-20 hindsight "mistake." Toss in the long-term trend of disparagement of learning, of exploration and discovery; the notion that it's somehow cool to be jaded by everything but the getting of more money and having fun, often as not at the expense of others, while thoroughly ignoring larger issues or even personal growth, and the rigid resistance to any kind of personal involvement beyond one's comfort bubble of prejudice and appetite.

      I found it telling that Cdr. Armstrong estimated a 1-in-10 chance he wouldn't return. He went. He went, not because he was ordered to go, but because of whatever blend of desire, ambition, duty, honor, competitiveness, what have you. He damned sure didn't go for fame and riches.

      All the astronauts at the time were pilots and aviators. All had degrees, many had advanced degrees, mostly in engineering. Many had been in combat. Most had done flight test. Every one believed, _knew_, that he was the best.

      So, find that blend, those skills, that education, that dedication. Put behind them an infrastructure built to get things done and a public will to see it happen. I suggest you look elsewhere than the United States.

      • Armstrong had balls of steel, nobody who has watched the landing approach can deny that. Not to mention their craft had tinfoil walls which they could not touch for fear of tearing them. However, as you have indicated, big balls without education and experience rarely achives anything more than a Darwin award.
    • No state can conquer the moon or put weapons on it according to the Outer Space Treaty [wikipedia.org]. This author [thespacereview.com] says "The current doctrine of international space law is restrictive and suffocating. For real progress in space to be made, the Outer Space Treaty and its res communis doctrine must be rethought in terms of the realities of today."
    • by symbolset (646467) *
      If we had told these men that it was near certain death: that there was almost no chance of survival whatever but we might learn something from their ashen corpse - it would not have made any difference. They were ready to GO. They would have strapped in with a smile on their lips. Once upon a time we were made of sterner stuff.
      • If we had told these men that it was near certain death: that there was almost no chance of survival whatever but we might learn something from their ashen corpse - it would not have made any difference. They were ready to GO. They would have strapped in with a smile on their lips. Once upon a time we were made of sterner stuff.

        Actually, I suspect that the fraction of the population who would sign up for a job as a test pilot has been pretty constant since the invention of the airplane.

        The notion of "the right stuff" is just propagandistic idol-making. Governments love to offer the public a hero.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bertok (226922)

      The Russians, Chinese, and Japanese are just talking about it, which is cheap. Practically free. Doing it is another matter.

      Why would any government want to set up a trillion dollar base on what amounts to a lifeless rock in the middle of nowhere? Because you watched too much Star Trek as a kid, and want it really badly to be true?

      We wouldn't get anything out of it, except things we could have gotten for a tiny fraction of the cost here on Earth! Spin-off technologies? That's like saying we should burn huge

      • by Kjella (173770)

        Half of your post is about the economy of it which is a good point, but the other half is projecting on everyone else. Why are there people living in the coldest parts of Siberia when they could move to the tropics? Why do people live on Pitcairn Island thousands of kilometers from civilization? Why do people want to battle their way to the poles or the top of Mount Everest? Not everybody wants it easy. Not everybody wants it comfortable. As long as we send the right people they will thrive because it's the

    • I think it's a matter of priorities, but I also disagree with NASA's current ones.

      The main goal ought not be to go to the moon again or go to Mars, but to build a space station which is much larger than ISS and has artificial gravity. Research on life support systems and long-term stays in space is crucial for the future of space travel and might even be crucial for humanity on earth some day. We really need to figure out how to build self-sustainable biospheres.

    • by knarf (34928) on Friday May 25, 2012 @07:33AM (#40107851) Homepage

      There would be no insects

      1) No insects -> no pollination -> no fruit or vegetables - unless you want to go around with a paint brush, busy like a bee pollinating your rock garden.

      2) Also, but probably not as relevant, no insects -> no insectivores. No chicken for you, buddy. Might as well become a vegetarian. See 1 for your daily schedule.

      3) And why do you think there won't be any insects? It only takes a few stowaways for all your base to belong to them...

    • I still don't understand this. We have the technology to do it, we have the people wanting to do it, and we have another group of people wanting to live and work there. Why don't we build a base on moon?

      Economics. There is presently no reasonable near term economic justification for a moon base. While there might eventually be such a justification, it doesn't exist at the moment. That's not to say there is no justification for a base - there are reasons to do it, just not near term economic ones. That means the only way to fund it is with tax revenue and good luck getting congress to fund a hugely expensive and risky moon base given the current economy. Even far less costly and easier to justify scien

  • by CoolGopher (142933) on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:02AM (#40106863)

    Watching and listening to the lunar landing sends shivers down my spine. For all our cool tech these days, nothing compares to that moment, and I can't help but wonder if our generation will have such a defining moment. Right now the world seems too obsessed with "safe" and "profit", and appears to have lost the vision and drive to push our boundaries.

    I wish we would have some leaders who would follow in the footsteps of "we do these things not because they're easy, but because they're hard."

    • by am 2k (217885)

      Watching and listening to the lunar landing sends shivers down my spine. For all our cool tech these days, nothing compares to that moment, and I can't help but wonder if our generation will have such a defining moment.

      Oh, I think 9/11 perfectly qualifies for that. It was the beginning of the end of the free and open society as we knew it.

    • by bazorg (911295) on Friday May 25, 2012 @06:54AM (#40107711)

      Our generation rescued the banking system on the verge of collapse at the end of the last decade. This feat allowed us to carry on business as usual rather than having to work around a new balance of power between East and West.

  • by harvey the nerd (582806) on Friday May 25, 2012 @03:13AM (#40107087)
    somewhere, hopefully for a profit. The recent success of the SpaceX rocket is crucial because its vision pushes the envelope for cheaper launch costs, now. $ per lb is the hurdle for commercial space development. Mining, energy, colonization - flight has to be affordable for large scale development. That first step is hardest and most expensive. SpaceX just made a significant rung. Everyone else has to beat that, like the microprocessor manufacturers of the 1970s and 80s.
  • I was going to post this yesterday when I was watching it, but I figured "nah, slashdot will have already shown this by now, for sure!". Thanks for proving me wrong, guys.
  • Americans will generally believe we never went into space at all. We are a non-science, non-knowledge country now. But the sad reality is that when the ISS is gone, manned spaceflight will be over, except for rich guys going into orbit, forever. We're never going out there again.

  • In those days, there was a lot of fear that the US and USSR would engage in World War III, but with nuclear weapons. The news that the USSR had launched a earth-orbiting satellite caused a lot of military leaders to speculate they would soon put nuclear weapons in space and nuke us from above. Uncomfortable that we (USA) were behind in the space race, President Kennedy changed the game by announcing we would go to the moon in 10 years. This had the effect of changing the perception of the USSR's breakthr

  • by tverbeek (457094) on Friday May 25, 2012 @08:46AM (#40108195) Homepage

    Given how close Eagle came to running out of fuel for the descent rockets before touching down at Tranquility, that 50-50 estimate for landing sounds pretty accurate.

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Friday May 25, 2012 @10:57AM (#40109117) Homepage

    It's about an hour of video. Here's a summary for those who don't want
    to spend that much time.

    Part 1

    When he was a kid, he had an intense interest in aviation. His father
    took him to airshows, etc., but his parents didn't try to direct him.
    They let him do what he wanted. As a child he had a fear of death
    (pets, relatives). His early interest was in being a designer of
    aircraft, not a test pilot. He describes the job of a test pilot as
    being basically the guy who tries to break things, find problems. The
    safety culture back then was extremely different from today's; he had
    an emergency ejection from a Lunar Landing Research Vehicle, and
    immediately afterward went to his desk and started working again.

    Part 2

    He describes how the fatal Apollo 1 fire, which caused a 2-year
    delay, gave them extra time to fix problems in all the different
    systems. At the Apollo 11 launch, he recalls being "relaxed," because
    "these things usually don't go off on time." An Apollo launch was
    extremely noise, and a "very shaky ride."

    Part 3

    The crew got to sleep simultaneously rather than taking watches; in
    order to do this, they spin-stabilized the ship so that the antennas
    wouldn't drift away from Earth while they were asleep and cut
    communication from the ground.

    During the descent to the lunar surface, their computer signaled a
    problem but "didn't admit responsibility." After checking with ground
    control, they decided the computer was still functioning well enough
    to allow a landing. The planned landing site turned out to be bad, so
    he had to change at the last moment to land somewhere else.

    While on the surface, there were a lot of worries about thermal
    problems, and they had to be ready to take off immediately. The
    astronauts felt that landing ("the eagle has landed") was the big
    deal, not stepping on the soil ("that's one small step"). They left
    medallions commemorating the lives of both American and Soviet
    astronauts who had died. He expresses appreciation for competition
    with the Soviets, which spurred both sides on. "The check-lists were
    all over us ... it wasn't a time to meditate..."

    In the bulky spacesuit, Aldrin inadvertently banged into a
    circuit-breaker panel, hitting a circuit-breaker for the rocket that
    was supposed to lift them off. As extra insurance against having the
    circuit breaker flip during liftoff, they broke off a piece of a
    magic marker to use as a "crutch" to hold the switch in place.

    Part 4

    They discuss conspiracy theories about the moon landing's being fake.
    They compare Google Moon simulations to Apollo film, while Armstrong
    narrates.

    Re life after Apollo, "I'm an engineer by nature." He's
    "substantially concerned about the policy direction of the
    administration..." White house and congress are "at odds," and "NASA
    is the shuttlecock." He sees the space program as a motivator for
    young people.

If a subordinate asks you a pertinent question, look at him as if he had lost his senses. When he looks down, paraphrase the question back at him.

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