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Moon NASA Space Science

NASA Vets & Administration Clash Over Moon Plans 158

mattnyc99 writes "There's a serious feud brewing this week over the Bush administration's plan for a manned mission to the Moon as an eventual stepping stone to Mars. The Planetary Society, a top group of former mission managers, space-based scientists and NASA astronauts argues, is set to rebuke the Moon plan at a conference next month in favor of hopskotching an asteroid on the way to the Red Planet. Agency chief Michael Griffin issued an abnormally strong response to the society, calling it an overly political criticism of Bush for a plan that he says was 'the best legislative guidance NASA has ever had.' Either way, it's clear that the stars are aligning for the whole space race to be reconsidered as a new administration steps into the White House. So far Clinton and Obama (who just added his) are the only contenders with space proposals."
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NASA Vets & Administration Clash Over Moon Plans

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  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @07:41PM (#22160920) Homepage Journal
    for a moonshot. Its too far off to generate interest. We are also buried under a horribly long political process.

    I am very convinced that if some of the leading candidates get in with all their promises of health care and expanded benefits there won't be any money for NASA to do something big. It will simply fall by the way side because it simply doesn't get Congressmen or Presidents votes.

    The best thing has already been done, the hard choice has already been made, axing the shuttle. Hopefully that expense relief won't be taken from NASA but I fear it will. Without the costly expenditures needed the money will probably go elsewhere.

    If the main opposition is truly because "BUSH" wanted it then it speaks volumes for just how juvenile the opponents have become. We need a direction, it has to come from the Administration, as Congress no longer attempts to lead anywhere but schemes to keep themselves perpetually in office. NASA has been wandering, stuck with two spruce gooses. The shuttle and ISS. The ISS could flourish without the shuttle and we can hope it will. Yet I am very sure that with all the promises being made by candidates that NASA is the least of their concerns. We are seeing the greatest promised expansion of Federal power over our lives and people are cheering it on as if it were the latest American Idol contest. That is not an avenue for great science to occur
  • by r_jensen11 ( 598210 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @07:48PM (#22160994)
    One thing that really struck a cord with me was when I saw Carol Moseley Braun being interviewed on The Daily Show (14 January, 2004.) Somehow, the topic of space exploration came up. I believe it had to do with 'renewed interest' in going to Mars. If I recall properly, Jon asked her what she thought of going to Mars and if she had a plan to get us there. I think she said something along the lines of "Sure, I don't think we shouldn't go to Mars." But I remember her explicitly stating that there is so little we know about Earth. Specifically, she wanted to redirect our scientific efforts from focusing on outer space and focusing on Earth, and more specifically, underwater exploration. We know virtually nothing about our seas and oceans. And they're close. I believe Mosely Brown used the rational that it would take 18 months to get to Mars, but it would take only hours to get to the bottom of the Ocean. That, and what happens in the oceans affects us a hell of a lot more than what happens on Mars.
  • by TheKidWho ( 705796 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @07:50PM (#22161018)
    So we should abandon space travel and live on our little planet then? The Earth is but a dot in the universe, why should we keep our species stuck on it forever.
  • Ok WTF? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TopSpin ( 753 ) * on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @08:27PM (#22161416) Journal
    The Planetary Society published this [] (pdf) in collaboration with Griffin (he's listed as one of nine members of the 'study team') before he became head of NASA. The Planetary Society got their guy in [] and he's following the plan they sold to the administration and Congress. What the fuck is going on here?

    If the peanut gallery over at the Planetary Society start jerking the Government's chain over settled NASA policy they're going to get stuff defunded. Most of our leading presidential candidates will take any excuse they can find to snatch away the funding and use it to buy votes some other way.

  • Asteroid mining (Score:4, Interesting)

    by markov_chain ( 202465 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @08:29PM (#22161442) Homepage
    It could be just me, but a bunch of robotic probes going from asteroid to asteroid to drill samples in search of useful ores would be really cool.
  • by Jeff1946 ( 944062 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @08:38PM (#22161524) Journal
    As difficult as making fusion a viable energy source at least there is tremendous potential payoff. As to manned exploration of space it is only for the adventure. Robots can do so much better for so much less $$.
  • Counterobjections (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gorimek ( 61128 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @10:07PM (#22162296) Homepage
    For most practical purposes Mars also has no atmosphere. It's just 0.6% of our, or in other words 99.4% not there. Yes, it does change the conditions a bit, but Mars is much more like the moon than earth..

    With the moon as near to the sun as earth, but lacking clouds and atmosphere, it receives much more sunlight than corresponding spots on earth, and is therefore that much more suitable for solar energy. The 330 hour lunar night can be handled just like the 12 hour martian night, using battery technology.
  • Re:Objections (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Keebler71 ( 520908 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @11:11PM (#22162782) Journal
    I don't think you get it... the moon mission isn't analogous to a Mars mission due to the destination environments. A moon mission (in its entirety) is an analog to the transit portion of a Mars mission. As you point out, Mars has an atmosphere - we don't need to go anywhere else to test atmospheric vehicles, or landers, or suits ... we can test those all here on Earth. Going to the moon, and living on the moon for six months forces us to deal with many of the mission challenges associated with a 6 month transit to Mars.

    The principle difference is that when an emergency occurs on the lunar surface you aren't more than 4-5 days tops from a safe return to Earth. When an emergency occurs on your way to Mars - you're hosed. In which scenario would you rather develop new technology?

    Now - an astute reader will ask, why don't we just learn the long duration stuff here in LEO? My response to that would be - why not kill many birds with one stone and also do some lunar science? We still do expeditions to Antarctica because there are still things to learn there. We've been to the moon what... 6 times? Why not also test out long range navigation and communication technologies that really aren't applicable at LEO?

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @03:25AM (#22164202)
    Well, G. W. Bush did kill the Space Shuttle and come up with an exit plan for the ISS (leave in 2016), which is far better an accomplishment in manned space than anything since Lyndon B. Johnson and Apollo. No matter the flaws of Ares, and they are numerous, those programs will never be as wasteful as the Space Shuttle was.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 24, 2008 @03:37AM (#22164246)
    Bush CUT NASA funding early on then he gave some of it back later with plenty of strings to undermine earth science. I vaguely remember this from his 1st term. Entering office he stopped a ready to launch mission and even refused to let Japan or the EU complete it (because it could have strengthened or weakened global warming theories.)

    It is completely reasonable to question everything government does; but especially when IT IS so WRONG so OFTEN. The people questioning the planning are some of the best people to speak up about it and are less likely to do something for purely political reasons than most people (not to mention how political the Bush appointed people often are)

    The launch vehicle problem is ROCKET SCIENCE. Contractors play a larger part, which makes it worse-- not because of the ideal situation which is better but because its never the ideal situation which leads to contractor problems that are bigger than the benefits.

    I've always been against the moon and mars regardless of Bush; it totally makes sense for him to continue his record of pushing forward poorly debated bad policy. Man on Mars will happen when it makes sense to do so and it does not make sense at this time to do it; even then, as people are pointing out it makes more sense to hop off a rock than hop off the moon.

    By the time humans get there, robots will likely out perform them as they do already today. You won't have anybody extending manned mars missions by even a week in 50 years. So a human does a years work in 1 month, you can't even get a human on mars for 20 years so there is no comparison. When its CHEAPER, SAFER, and EASIER go to mars, but not to explore it-- exploration is best left to cheap disposable robotics (which only get better with time and carry the same type of instruments the humans would need to use.)

    Perhaps bush's worker program's lost money or some of that lost Katrina money is going into defending Bush; after all, they did PAY newspaper columnists for support... Anybody notice a recent increase in online support?

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