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Draft NASA Funding Bill Cancels Asteroid Mission For Return To the Moon 237

Posted by Soulskill
from the flip-flop dept.
MarkWhittington writes "A draft version of the 2013 NASA Authorization Bill nixes any funding for President Obama's asteroid retrieval mission and instead directs NASA to return astronauts to the lunar surface as soon as possible, funding of course permitted. The NASA bill is currently working its way through the House Science Committee. Thus far the Senate has not taken up NASA authorization. However the cancellation of the asteroid retrieval mission and an insistence on returning to the moon, which both President Obama and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden have opposed, would place Congress on a collision course with the White House should that version of the bill be passed by both houses of Congress."
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Draft NASA Funding Bill Cancels Asteroid Mission For Return To the Moon

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  • ...would place Congress on a collision course with the White House should that version of the bill be passed by both houses of Congress.

    .

    This will not get through the Senate.

    • This will not get through the Senate.

      Yeah, this does seem like political games just to make Obama look bad somehow. While I would love for this country to get back to the moon, we won't get there anytime soon. A mission to an asteroid seems like it would be much cheaper and quicker to accomplish. Let's get that done first. Worry about a lunar lander and re-launch vehicle later.

      • by dpilot (134227) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @12:18PM (#44015255) Homepage Journal

        It's the Obama administration's idea, so it must be wrong. Just like when Obama has picked up old Republican ideas and tried to push them, they become wrong.

        Sometimes I wonder it Obama's support of NSA domestic spying is just a clever way to get Republicans to come out in favor of personal privacy. It wasn't that long ago that the Republicans clearly stated that there was no right to privacy enumerated in the Constitution. Now because it's against Obama, they're thumping the privacy tub really hard. (Though I'll bet they still don't think any right to privacy applies to gay conduct, even in one's own home.)

        But unfortunately I've lost sufficient faith to think that that's what he's doing, The "mini-me" cartoon seems scarily accurate, and makes today's Republican Congress-critters seem all the more buffoon-ish.

      • Going back to the moon seems pretty pointless unless we're prepared to actually establish a colony/fuel refinery/etc.(which I believe that would run afoul of an international treaty) Otherwise it's just rehashing old territory for some new photo-ops that could be photoshopped much more cheaply. Capturing an asteroid on the other hand is a step towards harnessing the massive mineral wealth in asteroids and letting us actually start producing cost-effective infrastructure in space.

        • by ZankerH (1401751)
          >(which I believe that would run afoul of an international treaty) Not really. The Outer Space Treaty says anyone is allowed to settle other celestial bodies and use their natural resources, it just prohibits signatories from annexing or otherwise claiming sovereignty over extra-terrestrial territories. Signatories are also not allowed to drag nuclear weapons along, and that's the gist of it. It's for the best, really - why bother colonising space if we're just going to use it to prolong capitalism, na
      • by LifesABeach (234436) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @03:54PM (#44016867)
        Putting money on Moon related projects has helped everyone, and accelerated human achievement better than any program that uses money to subsidize greed.
      • by ganjadude (952775)
        why not? we have been building rockets that can get us back to the moon for some years now. bush started a program that would have us backthere by i believe 2019 (i may be off, its been a while since hes been out of office, eventhough it doesnt seem like the admin changed much) so it shouldnt be to hard to go back to the orion program and get back on track.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 15, 2013 @10:46AM (#44014819)

      And it shouldn't. Going back to the moon is sexier and great for the ego, but working on capturing asteroids is more useful. But most Americans prefer things very simple. They think the moon is a planet and full of resources while an asteroid is a ball of sand like you see at the beach. It doesn't matter that that sentence contains many wrong things; it's simple and aligns with an ignorant masses level of common sense. The bottom line is people will say Republicans want to go back to the moon and reap the great benefits while Obama wants to visit a stupid rock. Never mind that "stupid rock" could contains trillions of dollars worth of resources and even some unknown/unavailable/rare materials.

      • by jythie (914043)
        And, when it comes down to it, politicians do what maximizes their chances for re-election, not what has actual value for their country or districts. It is all about doing what the people you represent THINK is a good idea, not what some ivory tower domain expert (who has actually done the work) says would benefit.
      • But most Americans prefer things very simple. They think the moon is a planet and full of resources while an asteroid is a ball of sand like you see at the beach.

        I don't think most Americans believe that at all. I think it just boils down to what you said in your second sentence - putting humans on the moon is way sexier. WE want to be the ones doing the exploring, not some computerized device.

        • by loufoque (1400831)

          I find going to an asteroid to be far sexier. That's like catching a bird in flight, while going to the moon is just like catching a cow.

      • by Shavano (2541114)
        How is that sexier? We put men on the moon in 1969. A repeat of that trip doesn't show new capability. Capturing an asteroid is much more ambitious. We're talking solar system engineering here.
        • Yes it does.

          We put men on the moon in 1969 and it "almost killed us". Why isn't anyone tapping into Moore's Law for the moon? The MoonBase is the next "leap" in the process. That requires capability - but of a different kind. By now the math should be cake. Materials durability, etc is the next easiest part.

          The *really scary* part is how we manage our "Terrorist Meme" when something like a MoonBase has to be protected! And no, don't tell me a MoonBase is "hard" - just haul a big rectangular metal/whatever a

          • by Shavano (2541114)

            Why isn't anyone tapping into Moore's Law for the moon?

            Maybe because moon bases and rockets mostly aren't made of transistors.

  • Oink oink oink (Score:4, Insightful)

    by alen (225700) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @10:45AM (#44014811)

    Pork barrel for the 21st century
    I'm sure the work will be spread out among every important congress person's districts

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      I completely agree that this will turn into a big pork fest. That said, I feel that it's worth it because it will eventually boot-strap the private sector.

      • by khallow (566160)

        That said, I feel that it's worth it because it will eventually boot-strap the private sector.

        It hasn't yet and they've been doing this for more than half a century.

  • NASA's mission (Score:5, Insightful)

    by It doesn't come easy (695416) * on Saturday June 15, 2013 @10:47AM (#44014821) Journal
    Not sure how any serious engineer or scientist works at NASA these days. NASA's mission changes quarterly (or more frequently), subject to political whim. I think our only real hope in the practical exploration of space lies with commercial enterprise. Which, truthfully, isn't that bad a deal. Of course, we still don't have any viable commercial enterprise working yet (lots of startups but nothing concrete at this point). A friend of mine is a scientist who worked at NASA for 12 years. He bailed about 10 years ago because of the political interference and now works at a university on the west coast. Smart man.
    • by alen (225700)

      the original space program was political as well
      kennedy's made the speech because his poll numbers were dropping after the election. only after he was killed did congress really provide the funding. even then the work was split among so many congressional districts that it was the pork barrel of the decade. the economy was good and the government was spending it all

      the last decade was spent on a lot of defense programs, but mostly data mining type software. once the war spending dies down all the people wor

      • the original space program was political as well

        Yes. Yes, it was. And it achieved its goal of getting us to the moon in such an unsustainable fashion that we haven't been back in *forty years*.

        • by Immerman (2627577)

          Don't forget the importent part - it let us show off the capabilties of our ICBM techology without actually starting a shooting war.

          • by tsotha (720379)
            We had already demonstrated ICBM capability long before we went to the moon. The Russians never went to the moon... did we doubt they could nuke us?
    • by jasnw (1913892)

      Simply put, they stick around because it's a good-paying job in an economy where there aren't that many available. Your friend bailed 10 years ago, back when jobs for people in these fields were a lot more plentiful. NASA became a giant jobs-and-pork operation years ago, and was one of the original "welfare for whitecoats" agencies (whitecoats as in lab coats). Any engineer or scientist with a NASA job these days hangs on as long as they can. Mortgages gotta be paid, and kids gotta be fed.

      • No kidding. I always figure these "why don't they just..." suggestions are from people without families. Seriously, that changes everything.

    • I think our only real hope in the practical exploration of space lies with commercial enterprise. Which, truthfully, isn't that bad a deal.

      Commercial R&D and exploration serves one purpose: to enrich the stockholders' portfolio. Yes, there's a trickle-down effect in that any technological or intellectual advances will become available to the public eventually, but at a cost whose primary concern is profit. That profit will be a margin applied to the research phase and the manufacture.

      Public investment in R&D and exploration is to the direct benefit of the entire nation and its allies. Derivative products will eventually be sold fo

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      You should run it more like the EU runs projects like the LHC or ESA.

    • by Shavano (2541114)
      Who else got a chance to land a rover on Mars? Who gets first crack at data from those rovers?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by benevixit (754447)

      Not sure how any serious engineer or scientist works at NASA these days.

      I work at a NASA research lab, and find it a rewarding way to spend my time... I've seen exoplanets through the eyes of space telescopes. I've invented AI algorithms and then flown them on smart satellites. My code has run on a rover traversing the surface of Mars. I agree that commercial enterprise has a role to play - but for all its imperfections, NASA is still a pretty remarkable institution at this particular moment in human history.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Not sure how any serious engineer or scientist works at NASA these days. NASA's mission changes quarterly (or more frequently), subject to political whim.

      Because private companies are totally not flip-flopping based on quarterly performance and managers playing musical chairs. Most of this is simply political theater because none of these missions are funded, so nobody really cares how often they change except to make other politicians look bad. NASA's got plenty more mundane missions [nasa.gov] which will continue.

  • by kk49 (829669) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @10:53AM (#44014851)

    We would do both...

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Can't, all the available money is needed for more important things [talkingpointsmemo.com]
    • by PPH (736903)

      Given the current funding levels for science, our space programs are devolving into something akin to a bunch of hobos fighting over the last off-ramp.

    • by amiga3D (567632)

      I'm not sure we can do either. My feeling is we've been to the Moon. Time to move on.

    • I'd like to see this:

      • James Webb telescope, plus telescopes at L4 and L5
      • orbiters for Uranus and Neptune
      • rovers on every big rock hospitable enough for them to last a few months. Maybe Ganymede, Callisto, Europa, and Mercury for starters.

      Also, let's cancel the ISS. Not sure about Biosphere 2 style research. We will want to do that eventually, but right now I don't think we really know enough to know where to look. We also know about a lot of problems for which we don't have answers, such as cosmic ra

  • Looks like Congress continues to have myopic space policy. I can't tell how much the bill "authorizes" (authorization is a lot weaker than appropriation which actually allocates money) for the Space Launch System (SLS), but any positive amount is too much IMHO. The proposed (which the bill would cancel) asteroid recovery mission sounded very promising as a technology demonstration, but at least that is something that private enterprise can do on a relatively small budget at a future time.

    COTS (the progra
  • by ildon (413912) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @11:06AM (#44014905)

    Scientific missions should not be determined by political whims.

    • by symbolset (646467) *
      When were they not? This is why we can't have nice things.
  • by onyxruby (118189) <onyxrubyNO@SPAMcomcast.net> on Saturday June 15, 2013 @11:39AM (#44015031)

    Going to the moon is one of the greatest things the United States ever did. The impact in terms of net benefits for science, technology and any number of things is amongst the best in history. However that has all been done decades ago and we have largely reaped the benefits from doing so. I'm not sure what real benefit we could gain by sending manned missions back to the moon at this time. Remember there are good reasons the Apollo program wrapped up.

    Taking things to the next step, asteroids, and tackling everything involved, from science to mining needs to be the next great step. Working through the technological challenges involved in doing this would have tremendous benefit to society. The bottom line is there is far more to gain from taking things to the asteroids than the moon.

    The moon, we've been there, nice place, time to move on to the next big thing.

    • Actually, no. We can send man back to the moon, and it will help. However, there is no reason why NASA has to do it all. Bigelow and SpaceX intend to be there by 2020. The problem is that neo-cons want the money to flow into their districts for a job's bill. We have WT like Shelby, Wolf, Hatch, Hutchinson, and my wonderful rep, Coffman, that are fighting against private space, even though it would cost us a FRACTION of the money to go to the moon, all because they want to flow the jobs to their areas.

      Thos
      • Actually, no. We can send man back to the moon, and it will help. However, there is no reason why NASA has to do it all. Bigelow and SpaceX intend to be there by 2020.

        They can intend all they like. All they do is manufacture hardware (and externalise a shitload of their R&D costs to NASA and its traditional contractors.) They don't fund missions themselves, and certainly couldn't fund a manned one to the Moon.

        The problem is that neo-cons want the money to flow into their districts for a job's bill. We h

        • One of the nice things about private space, is that they are far far cheaper than what you neo-cons develop. Your ghoulash SLS will costs us taxpayers 20B to develop and 1.5-3B per launch to send 70 tonnes into LEO. OTOH, falcon heavy will be ready early next year and will send 54 tonnes to leo for .1B. In addition, dragon rider will be ready in under 2 years, and it will cost .13B to send 7 ppl into space. SO, for a fraction of the costs of 1 SLS launch, we can send up over 100 tonnes and 7 ppl.

          Likewise,
  • by asm2750 (1124425) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @11:47AM (#44015071)
    As much as I would love to see NASA establish a colony on the Moon or capture an asteroid and move it to Lunar orbit, Congress and the President are constantly changing NASAs goals every year or two or slashing funding, and thats hurting the agency. NASA needs goals and funding that is locked in and cant be altered until the primary objective is achieved. Take the Apollo program which lasted 10 years or so and got us to the moon. Ever since then every president or congress session has changed NASAs goals and slashed funding that it makes it impossible to get anything fruitful done like the SLS and returning to the Moon and the eventually Mars.
    • Exactly right. My believe is that the best way to do that, is to have a panel with 15 ppl on it. These ppl would then run for 15 years, but staggered so that each year, one person would run out (that also means that when initially set-up, all of them would have a different time-frame.
      The reason for this, is to have the president appoint, and Senate approve that person. Ideally, they would be pre-approved (say, up to 1 year before, as long as same president is in office), so that we do not have the same sit
  • This is supported by the same people who are outraged at wasteful government spending, right?

    • pretty much. The problem with the neo-cons that currently control the republican party is that they object to DEM's spending. The vast majority of debt has been incurred by these same neo-cons. We desperately need to clean up CONgress. That is why I continue to support root strikers.
      • by ganjadude (952775)
        i love how you on the left ignore that the neocons have infiltrated your party as much as they have the republican party (note i didnt say my party). If you think obama is anything other than a neocon like bush i dont know what to tell you. Long story short, the neocons have taken over america, and they have done so in both the democratic and republican parties.
        • Actually, I am Libertarian. I despise both libs and you neo-cons (and yes, I have flipped through your answers; you are a lover of the current republican leadership which are the neo-cons). The difference is that we are currently talking about SPACE, not other issues. You neo-cons are pushing for SLS that will cost 20B for 1 launch vehicle, while Obama, dems, and tea* are pushing for private space that will cost us around 2B for 3.

          Yet, we continue to see you and others try to confuse the issues.

          BTW, if
    • The congress and especially the morons on the science committee don't do anything for sensible reasons.

      Other than thinking the moon is the 1st step before mars, I can't see why so many are bent on a moon base - other than some OLD military nuts who think there is a strategic advantage to a moon base.

      Doing something old IS a waste of money; it would be better to work on cheaper space access or advancing robots - especially since robots already completely outperform humans in space exploration and by the time

  • from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_program#Program_cost [wikipedia.org]:

    "The final cost of project Apollo was reported to Congress as $25.4 billion in 1973"

    According to http://www.westegg.com/inflation/ [westegg.com] that would be $129.47 in 2012. Now obviously we have the benefit of relatively inexpensive technology to help offset that. However we also have the burden of stricter safety standards and more expensive "available" technology as opposed to "required" technology. Hopefully the government would be pragmatic enough

  • It's great that missions that take decades of planning change every few years - keeps those rocket scientists on their toes and ensures that they'll never make any progress! Besides, if anyone knows how to use non-political fair and balanced criteria to set scientific priorities, it's Congress!

  • by DanielRavenNest (107550) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @01:37PM (#44015745)

    What hardly anyone understands is that space is full of abundant energy.

    The world's fossil fuel (oil, coal, and natural gas) reserves are equal to 7 trillion barrels of oil, and one barrel contains 6 x 10^9 Joules. Thus we have 42 x 10^21 Joules of fossil fuel energy. The area within the Moon's orbit (384,000 km radius) has 38 x 10^21 Joules of sunlight passing through every minute, nearly as much....Every Minute!

    Asteroids and the Moon are sources of raw materials, but the energy is what enables you to do something with it, and solar energy in space is easily extracted.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      The area within the Moon's orbit (384,000 km radius) has 38 x 10^21 Joules of sunlight passing through every minute (...) solar energy in space is easily extracted.

      But building a pi*(384,000 km)^2 = 463,000,000,000,000,000 m^2 solar panel is not, the effective energy density per m^2 is just that of Earth minus the atmosphere and cloud cover. When it reaches earth sunlight is 1366 watts/m^2 and 75% of that reaches ground level. In the best areas for solar panels you get 25-30% effective sunlight so in total you get about 20% of the effectiveness of a space based 24x7 solar panel. What do you think costs more, setting up 5 m^2 in a desert or sending 1 m^2 into space - o

    • by ganjadude (952775)

      Thus we have 42 x 10^21 Joules of fossil fuel energy.

      i find this highly skeptical. Plain and simple every few years new "reserves" are found. I am not saying that oil is renewable (in human terms, it is renewable in geological terms) but i find it highly unlikely that we have tapped it all. It is in the oil companies best interest to keep people convinced that is it more valuable than it actually is.

    • Even if we could beam all of that energy, I suspect that would be the last thing that we want to do. Adding more energy to the earth, will raise temps VERY quickly.
  • by J05H (5625) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @02:01PM (#44015895) Homepage

    Asteroid retrieval is about $1-2 Billion spread over a decade. Single moon landing is at an order of magnitude higher at $10-20 Billion with unknown duration. This is what happened with Shuttle and Station and appears to be happening with SLS: they eventually sucked cash out of other NASA programs while legislators direct even more resources into those single projects as if 10,000 people working together can't manage more than one task.

    We should go back to the Moon but that should not prevent us from also snagging an asteroid. The funny thing is that the returned asteroid was planned to go into Lunar or very eccentric high orbit, either would have been a great shake-down cruise for Orion before going to the Moon.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      well the thing is that going to the moon would be if funding permitted.

      so either they would find a way to go there for 1-2 billion.. or they would spend 30 million trying to find that way and not find it and get another goal in few years. that's a lot of savings and not having to do anything.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @02:07PM (#44015943) Journal
    First off, this nightmare that is ongoing with NASA, is NOT NASA's fault, but the fault, of the God Damn neo-cons that are running the house.
    The majority of those shits are looking to keep NASA as a Job's bill. They do not care whether we go to the moon or not. THey want to spending our money on SLS which is mostly situated in neo-con districts( I note that a few dems back this as well, but they are pushing for both SLS and private space; spend, spend, spend).
    So, what is insane about this? We will spend 20B for a launch vehicle that is mostly based on 60's/70's technology and design and will give us exactly ONE launch vehicle (though with several different designs). Since this vehicle will launch so infrequently, it will cost us 1.5-3B PER LAUNCH. Yes, it will cost as much or more than the shuttle did ( 1.5B per launch was the final price that we paid to send 7 ppl and 24.5 tonnes into LEO; that included the .750B per launch and then another .750B rebuilding the craft for another launch ). It is INSANE that we spend that kind of money.

    So, what is the sane Alternative? The one that Obama, dems, and even the tea-party is pushing: We need PRIVATE SPACE.
    If we spend less than 2B over the next 2-3 years, we can have 3 launchers that will carry 7 ppl into leo (dragon rider/f9, atlas V with either cst-100 or dreamchaser). With this, we are guaranteed that we will NEVER lose cargo or human access to space again.
    BUT, it gets better. Bigelow Aerospace has a SSA with NASA that both are working on getting private space to the moon BY 2020. It will costs less than the 20B that neo-cons are trying to force on NASA. Most importantly, by allowing NASA to pursue the asteroid AND help private space, we gain:
    1) multiple launch vehicles so that we never lose space access again.
    2) multiple tugs/fuel depots, that will include electric tugs (suitable for moving equipment/sats) and chemical tugs (suitable for moving ppl, or starting missions to extra solar).
    3) multiple space stations at various altitudes in orbit, along with friendly nations helping to fund this.
    4) a lunar base by 2020, again, with friendly nations helping to fund this (by paying the private companies money to put ppl on the surface).
    5) Man on Mars by 2025.
    6) learning on how to move asteroids around, and hopefully, prevent a large impact on earth. In addition, this technology will then allow private space to mine other asteroids.

    And if we do this smart, we will then create a COTS-SHLV, in which we hold a contest for 2 launch systems to carry a minimum of 150 tonnes to LEO, for which we give 5B each to develop it. In addition, later one, we offer up 2 competitive contracts in which company will carry a minimum of 150 tonnes to LEO for no more than .5B / launch, and they will get 2 launches/ year for 3 years. Also, whoever has the lower amount will get 3 launches/ year. IOW, you can get 50% more launches by being a GOOD low bidder (i.e. has to be realistic). You will note that we will spend 2.5B/year on sending up equipment for 3 years.

    You will note that the above spends just about the same as what the neo-cons want to spend on just building a rocket. BUT, if we do the above correctly, we will have NASA focus on just going to an asteroid, but also helping private space get BEO, and hopefully, NASA will be able to R&D new tech, such as nuke engines (we lead the world on this and our tech from the 60s is STILL ahead of what everybody else has).

    With above approach, we convert NASA back into what it was before neo-cons turned them into a jobs program for themselves, get private space from being a cost center into a taxable item, and get ourselves BEO.

    BUT, these god-for-saken neo-cons need to be stopped.
    • by stenvar (2789879)

      First off, this nightmare that is ongoing with NASA, is NOT NASA's fault, but the fault, of the God Damn neo-cons that are running the house.

      No, its the fault of the god damn progressives, who waste all of our tax dollars on entitlements, crony capitalism, Keynesian stimuli, and interest payments, so that there is less and less left for infrastructure and science.

      The majority of those shits are looking to keep NASA as a Job's bill. They do not care whether we go to the moon or not.

      Whereas the progressives a

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        seriously, how much will it cost to hire the 50 THOUSAND IRS agents (you know, the IRS who targets people it doesnt like??) 50 THOUSAND IRS agents hired to enforce a fine on americans who dont buy a product. Do we really want to be spending more tax money on "jobs bills"??? Sure we will have 50K more people working but for what?? to attack other americans??? bullshit is what it is
      • You do realize that we are talking about the spending on the SLS vs. private space, and not about your political views?
        Please explain why we should support you neo-cons to blow 20B on the SLS, rather than 2B for 3 launch systems.
    • BUT, these god-for-saken neo-cons need to be stopped.

      It's not neocons telling NASA that their primary mission is to reach out to Muslims- instead of, say, completing projects related to Air & Space.

      But then again, your tribe (that is to say, Leftists) needs to have folks out here on the internet screaming about 'Neocons' to distract from a president who is expanding on Bush-era policies most hated by the left. Your tribe needs to try to divert attention away from the endless stream of scandals that

    • by ganjadude (952775)
      the problem with your post is simple. its that you havent realized that the neocons have taken over the democratic party as well.

      think of everything bush did that you dont like... now think of how obama handeled it.... not much different right? the big difference between the 2 is that bush cut taxes while obama raised them. in all other meterics, they have done everything almost exactly the same, or obama built upon the bad programs bush started making them worse.

      but you(not personally but on your side)
  • This is exactly why NASA will never again accomplish any significant long term projects ever again. Politics. Any project running longer than the initiating president's remaining time in office is going to be killed.
  • If President Obama announced a desire to cure cancer, the Republicans would take the side of cancer. Jag offs.
    • by ganjadude (952775)
      the fact that you think that, shows how big a jag off you truly are. You are so blinded by your side being "right" that you think the "otherside" is somehow trying to derail your side. eventhough yourside is doing a good enough job of that all on its own, with the NSA issue, the IRS issue, the DOJ issue the AP issue etc. etc.... but no, its the republicans who are the bad guys....
      • Oh? So what possible benefit can we derive from going to the moon AGAIN? If you read the article, it's clear the only reason they want to go to the moon is for a jobs program. Having followed politics for years, I can clearly state that the Republicans care about nothing but getting their money. They are all about cashing in and this is yet another example. So, douche bag, I stand by my comments.
  • Lets go to Titan. Build a habitat like Skylab. Fit it out with a bunch of fission reactors and a big array of ion drives. Plan for a ten year cruise and aerobrake the cruise stage into orbit around Saturn. Then send down manned landers derived from the Dragon capsule. The difficulty of a Titan mission is roughly the same as the difficulty of a Lunar mission in the 1960s. Nothing will get done unless a hard target is chosen.

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