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NASA's Bolden: No American-Led Return To the Moon 'In My Lifetime' 233

Posted by timothy
from the how's-the-heart? dept.
MarkWhittington writes "A clash over the future course of American space exploration flared up at a recent joint meeting of the Space Studies Board and the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board. In one corner was Al Carnesale of UCLA, who headed the recent study issued by the National Research Council that found fault with the Obama administration's plan to send American astronauts to an asteroid. In the other corner was NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who has been charged with carrying out the policy condemned by the NRC report."
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NASA's Bolden: No American-Led Return To the Moon 'In My Lifetime'

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  • It's traditional for the summary to contain more pertinent information than the headline, not the other way around. Just sayin'.
  • Priorities (Score:5, Interesting)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Sunday April 07, 2013 @08:53AM (#43383615) Journal

    Let's remember:
    "Mr Bolden said: "When I became the Nasa administrator, he [Mr Obama] charged me with three things.
    "One, he wanted me to help reinspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.""

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/7875584/Barack-Obama-Nasa-must-try-to-make-Muslims-feel-good.html [telegraph.co.uk]

    Unless there are muslims to assuage on the Moon, we're not going back.

    • Bizarre, you would have thought none of these things were in the remit of NASA. One is education and the other two are diplomacy.

    • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

      Byron York, a conservative columnist for the Washington Examiner, characterised Mr Obama's space policy shift as moving "from moon landings to promoting self-esteem"

      Um... that's not actually a shift.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      There is a general perception in the Muslim world that America is opposed to Islam and doesn't value Islamic culture or lives. This is backed up by things like drone strikes that kill innocent Muslims with barely an apology, all in the name of making Christians safer. Perhaps that is a distorted view, but it isn't an uncommon one.

      I'm going to assume you don't want to be murdered by Islamic terrorists, and would prefer not to be fighting wars in Muslim countries. Therefore America needs to improve relations

  • We're not going to an asteroid, we're not going to Mars, and we're probably never going to the Moon, either. NASA is a toy of the executive branch. Every prez comes up with a hot new "plan" and it never gets past the the planning stage. Bolden will be out on his ass looking for work in less than four years, maybe sooner, and NASA will be back to square one - again.

    • by Pecisk (688001)

      Well, for last ten years NASA have been regularly on chopping block thanks to Republicans - but it is also institution about which general voting public don't care, and that's why it's first causality in austerity chill which like it or not will come anyway.

      • by khallow (566160)

        Well, for last ten years NASA have been regularly on chopping block thanks to Republicans

        And thanks to the Democrats as well. Keep in mind that current debt as a fraction of GDP jumped up by 25% during the Democrat dominated Congress of 2009-2011.

        • by Pecisk (688001)

          Sorry, but check your facts first - current debt was built in by budget created by Bush Republicans.

          • by khallow (566160)

            Sorry, but check your facts first

            I did. Imagine that. Maybe you should actually look at the debt accumulated during the Obama administration than make empty claims.

        • Just keep squeezing that stone, I'm sure you'll get blood from it someday.

          I mean do you want to start with how the expenditure of Iraq and Afgahnistan was moved to being "on the books" for the Federal government under Obama (despite, you know, still being real money being blown away by Bush) or the GFC finally unfolding at the terminal stage of Bush's term and thus Obama (and said Democrat congress) inheriting the choice of "bail out the banks go bankrupt" or "let 90+% of Americans go bankrupt".

          From your to

          • by khallow (566160)

            was moved to being "on the books"

            Which is completely irrelevant to debt growth. Off the book spending contribute as much as on the book spending.

            From your tone I assume you think we should've just let the banks go under, which is an easy sentiment when you foolishly believe you wouldn't have lost money.

            I take it you have no idea what "moral hazard" is.

    • Agreed. If we can't maintain our weather sat coverage [spacepolicyonline.com] we shouldn't even be talking about this stuff.
  • It's difficult question - we could do manned missions again, but what's practical reason behind this? Research? Basics can be covered by robotics - probes, rovers, satellites. What would be more important though that NASA and others would work with research how to make actual flight to Mars (or return to Moon) as painless as possible. If that results in actual mission after let's say 10 years - I don't really mind, because sometimes it's better than once and right. NASA is still light years ahead of anyone
  • by ErnoWindt (301103) on Sunday April 07, 2013 @09:45AM (#43383771)

    What Bolden is simply acknowledging is that NASA's manned spaceflight program is over. Sure, they're still recruiting and training astronauts, but that's so they can keep the ISS manned until it is retired. The future of manned space flight, including space stations, Moon bases and interplanetary and interstellar travel will belong to private industry. NASA will focus on scientific missions. There's nothing wrong with that - it represents the evolution of the space industry. Billionaires like Elon Musk can build, launch, and return space capsules today. Fifty years ago, Musk's approach would have been highly unlikely, if not completely impossible. The US government will help fund and provide frameworks - think DARPA's development of the Internet and now the 100-year starship project and the humanoid robotics initiative. Along with its own research and development, private industry will take the frameworks and ideas DARPA is developing now and leverage and exploit them in unimagined ways, just as with the Internet.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      In the US perhaps, but China's manned space programme is moving forwards nicely. My money would be on them to get to the moon next. What will be interesting is the reaction of the US when China has a firm date and looks likely to do it.

      • by khallow (566160)
        We'll see if they're still "moving forwards nicely" when they have some accidents. Part of the Devil's bargain here is that the Chinese program continues as long as it doesn't embarrass the political leadership. Sooner or later, they will lose crew or have other things fail.

        Last time that happened with a rocket in 1996, the Chinese abandoned almost all commercial launches.
    • by kermidge (2221646)

      About the 100-year spaceship - if I recall a-rightly, the tasking involving DARPA was for one or more experiments to find out if humans were capable of conducting a concerted "long-range" effort at anything at all. The century spaceship effort is useful as it gathers interest, thought, and publicity - and who knows what it will bring in a hundred years? The real test is whether or not that project or any other can survive that long.

      (sorry, I can't find the link I had to the original stuff; y'all with good

      • by khallow (566160)
        Railroad networks, stock markets, human society. There's some stuff out there, if you look.
    • Right, because there's some sort of profit motive here that we should be serving. Some guy's business is going to get ahold of this and that will make all of us (shareholders) rich, rich, rich!

      Let's point out that there are slightly bigger barriers to entry in the space exploration market than in the internet market. And if there's one thing in the world that isn't going to get smaller and more efficient with time, it's a gravity well. At least until we develop a space elevator. So the market is guaranteed

  • by waddgodd (34934)

    If Mankind won't return to the moon in your lifetime, don't think this can't be fixed relatively quickly

    • by mcmonkey (96054) on Sunday April 07, 2013 @10:44AM (#43384029) Homepage

      NASA Administrator Charles Bolden must be killed.

      Then we can go back to the moon.

      • Has anyone checked if he's recently taken out a large life insurance policy on himself? Perhaps one that pays out in case of assassination but not suicide?
    • by spyfrog (552673)

      "Mankind" doesn't only encompass the United States of America. I am quite sure that the Chinese don't give a rats ass of the lifetime of Bolden so it might be that US won't be going back to the moon but that doesn't say that mankind wont. My guess is that China will do it within my lifetime if they progress on the current course.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Sunday April 07, 2013 @10:38AM (#43384003)

    Sorry, but there's nothing useful in either place AND they're both at the bottom of another god damned gravity well. Orbital stations for spaced based solar would at least be *useful*. Satellite based internet would be useful. Is there something wrong with useful? Why is it that when we talk about space exploration, it always descends into some dick-waving "me there first" macho-chimpanzee rant.

    We know how to get into space. We know there are useful and profitable things to do there. Can we just get on with it please?

    The moon is useless and if there's life on Mars, it's not going anywhere. We can wait.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Teckla (630646)

      Sorry, but there's nothing useful in either place AND they're both at the bottom of another god damned gravity well.

      The whole point is having two homes in case of an extinction level event happening (asteroid, nuclear war, plague, etc.).

      • by rubycodez (864176)

        we can't build a hollow tin can big enough to serve that purpose in the next century; we can't travel to any such place either in the next century.

        the only possible benefit to space exploration in the near term would be for resources, by automated system.

      • by Jeremi (14640)

        The whole point is having two homes in case of an extinction level event happening (asteroid, nuclear war, plague, etc.).

        The value of a "second home" isn't much if the second home can't sustain human life indefinitely. Why spend trillions of dollars just so that a few dozen humans can be miserable on some godforsaken rock for a few years until they die from lack of biosphere?

        Even if the Earth was hit by an asteroid, a nuclear war, and a plague simultaneously, there would still be more chance for human survival on Earth than anywhere else.

    • All the useful stuff is at the bottom of gravity wells.
      • Not sure about that. Comets have water. Asteroids have metals and who knows what else? Whether either can be made profitable and useful is another question.

    • <quote><p>Sorry, but there's nothing useful in either place AND they're both at the bottom of another god damned gravity well. Orbital stations for spaced based solar would at least be *useful*. Satellite based internet would be useful. Is there something wrong with useful? Why is it that when we talk about space exploration, it always descends into some dick-waving "me there first" macho-chimpanzee rant.</p><p>We know how to get into space. We know there are useful and profitable th
  • If you want to stay in space so you can say... maintain a power generation station, and NOT haul heavy (and therefore expensive) materials up from a gravity well, like Earth then redirecting some comets and mining asteroids are your best bet.

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