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NASA Space Transportation Science

Buzz Aldrin's Radical Plan For NASA 519

FleaPlus writes "Apollo 11 astronaut (and MIT Astronautics Sc.D.) Buzz Aldrin suggests a bolder plan for NASA (while still remaining within its budget), which he will present to the White House's Augustine Commission; he sees NASA heading down the wrong path with a 'rehash of what we did 40 years ago' which could derail future exploration and settlement. For the short-term, Aldrin suggests canceling NASA's troubled and increasingly costly Ares I, instead launching manned capsules on commercial Delta IV, Atlas V, and/or SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets. In the medium-term, NASA should return to the moon with an international consortium, with the ultimate goal of commercial lunar exploitation in mind. Aldrin's long term plan includes a 2018 comet flyby, a 2019 manned trip to a near-earth asteroid, a 2025 trip to the Martian moon Phobos, and one-way trips to colonize Mars."
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Buzz Aldrin's Radical Plan For NASA

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  • Good ideas. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 26, 2009 @02:27AM (#28478195)

    Seriously, NASA (and most space programs in general) should have one crucial long term goal: Getting us off this ball of rock and inhabiting other ones. I think that Aldrin's plans make more progress towards this than most of what has been going on for pretty much my entire lifetime.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Yes, one step closer to living my fantasy life like in Firefly. They can cancel the show but they can't stop the Serenity

      • Agreed. They even left it hanging after the movie.

        If ever there was a time that show's message was needed, it's now.
      • Re:Good ideas. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by EbeneezerSquid ( 1446685 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @08:24AM (#28480321)
        You want Firefly? First you need FireNASA. []

        NASA should be a regulatory agency, just like the FAA. But when you give regulation to a "competitor-in-the-field," amazingly, no-one else meets the regulatory requirements to compete.
        (offtopic/ Think of that when they talk about a "public insurance plan" too. \offtopic)

        Poor Author C. I wish he had lived to see his 2001 visions come to life. . .
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          NASA also used to be a key source of funding for university research in the fields of Aeronautics and Astronautics (and many others). Since this whole Ares push, NASA's university research funding has been almost completely eliminated and there isn't many other funding agencies to take their place (Air Force/DOD has stringent secrecy requirements that most universities can't fulfill).
    • Re:Good ideas. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 26, 2009 @02:51AM (#28478359)

      Not just NASA and space programs. A good chunk of our entire worlds resources should be devoted to getting us off this rock.

      Sooner or later we will have a global disaster that WILL wipe us out. Volcano, comet, magnetic shift, meteor, gamma ray burst, germ, ect ect ect... And then what. we're done. no more humans. haha. game over.

      Instead we bicker over who owns what dirt and what invisible superbeing is watching us try to die with more stuff than everyone else.........

      Maybe its not such a bad idea to wipe us out. We're insane.

      • Re:Good ideas. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jafafa Hots ( 580169 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @03:31AM (#28478643) Homepage Journal

        I am so tired of the "get us off this rock" crap.

        I'm a lifelong NASA nut and space fan, and my fantasies are as elaborate as anyone's but that's all it is - fantasy.

        There are billions of people on this planet, and counting. We would have to launch over 200,000 people a day into space each day just to keep up with the daily increase in the population, without even making a dent in the "reserve."

        Apart from thousands of years off Nivenesque dreams of turning the planet itself into a spaceship, we just stuck here and we have to face it.

        The absolute best we could hope to achieve is to launch a very select elite by using far more than their fair share of resources, while leaving essentially the entire human populace behind to deal with the consequences.

        And when they left, then what? Here we are with a perfectly self-regulating ecosystem in the prime location with conditions tailor made for us (or rather us for them), and we can't understand it well enough or control our own impulses well enough to keep from fucking it up.... but somehow we'll be smart enough to go somewhere else less opportune and build one from scratch?

        "Get us off this rock" attitudes are the product of denial, passing the buck to the our future victims, the ultimate expression of our throw-away consumer culture. We'll use up this planet, toss it and get a new one.

        No. Exploration of space is vital to scientific knowledge and indeed to our attempts to understand earth (as exploring Venus helped us understand global warming) but as a species we are stuck with what we have and we'd better take care of it, there's nowhere else in the neighborhood worth anything more than an outpost.

        If a sentient species from earth ever DOES spread out far enough to fully leave Earth behind for good, it won't be Homo Sapiens who does it... it would be far enough in the future that either our descendant species (or something else's) will be doing it.

        • Re:Good ideas. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @03:46AM (#28478753)
          Really? Have you read your Darwin? Are you aware of how much of natural selection takes place? Often, it happens because a population gets isolated due to the destruction of the main population.

          You may think it's fantasy, but keep in mind that eventually, a life-killer asteroid strike, while extremely unlikely in any given year, is eventually a mathematical certainty. By all the best evidence, it has happened before, probably more than once.

          It may be a long-term goal, but eventually we must send at least some people "off this rock". Scoff all you want, but that is playing the real probabilities.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            "You may think it's fantasy, but keep in mind that eventually, a life-killer asteroid strike, while extremely unlikely in any given year, is eventually a mathematical certainty. By all the best evidence, it has happened before, probably more than once. "

            I read this and think: so what?

            Don't get me wrong. I support space exploration, just not for this reason. We're not reducing the probability of any individual dying by doing this -- actually, we're massively increasing it, even aside from the dangers of s

          • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @07:57AM (#28480161) Homepage Journal

            It may be a long-term goal, but eventually we must send at least some people "off this rock".

            You're proposing the mother of all offsite backups!

        • Re:Good ideas. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by clarkkent09 ( 1104833 ) * on Friday June 26, 2009 @03:54AM (#28478815)
          We would have to launch over 200,000 people a day into space each day just to keep up with the daily increase in the population

          You are right, shipping people off to other planets without making other changes, such as reducing birthrate, is not going to reduce population of Earth. However, if your goal (among others, such as access to new resources) is to ensure the survival of the species should something horrible happen on Earth, then a long term plan to spread to one or two other worlds does make a lot of sense. A self sustaining base on Mars is not a fantasy, it is something that could possibly be achieved with today's technology if the will was there. In 50 years, just as the biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction are getting within reach of even small groups of psychos, it will be no problem at all. You have to make a first step somewhere.
          • No, that is a indeed a fantasy. A self-sustaining base has to be able to produce food, clean water and energy. It has to be able to make replacement parts, and that means mines, chemical plants, machine shops, factories and chip-fabrication facilities. Oh, and also universities. That is a pure, utter fantasy given our current technology and our capacity for space travel. We can't make a self-sustaing colony on Antarctica or underwater, so why would you think we can do it on another planet?

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              I didn't say it would be easy, but with a major commitment and a lot of money and willingness to take risks (for example if a major catastrophe was imminent) I think it could be done in the very near future. Food is fairly easy, after all it grows and reproduces itself once you have the initial seeds, soil, water and sunlight. Water and energy (sun) are available on Mars so they don't have to be produced. A nuclear reactor or two would be nice, at least initially even if the fuel cannot be replaced once it
            • by smoker2 ( 750216 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @07:20AM (#28479963) Homepage Journal
              Blah blah blah. Planes can't fly, we've never seen the bottom of the ocean, we'll never walk on the moon, we can't see what's happening on the other side of the planet in real time, if you go over 20mph you'll suffocate, if you sail west you'll drop off the edge of the world, the atom is the smallest thing in the universe, don't go outside, you'll be hit by a bus ....

              Do you have any balls ?

              We don't need to create self-sustaining colonies in Antarctica, or underwater, so why do it ? If you put yourself in space, you not only need to, you have to deal with it. Necessity is the mother of invention. But I guess in the slimy greedy world of Intellectual Property, you would rather just accumulate wealth for yourself, fuck the universe (and your neighbours). If the only way we can have a space colony is to replicate exactly what we have here, then you're right - it's a waste of time. If you want to head in a new direction however, space is the ONLY place to do it. This planet's full of nay-saying assholes.

              BTW, you missed out Burger King and Walmart from your list of "necessities".
            • We can't make a self-sustaing colony on Antarctica or underwater, so why would you think we can do it on another planet?

              We can't build a self sustaining colony on Antarctica because of treaties. Since the 1950s oil companies have been looking at the resources of Antartica. The 1970s brought renewed interest because of the oil embargo. However we have these treaties:

              The successful establishment of SCAR and the IGY in Antarctica was due in large part to cooperation between the countries involved, and led directly to the signing of the Antarctic Treaty in 1959, which has administered Antarctic affairs since 1961 when it offic

        • Re:Good ideas. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by uglyMood ( 322284 ) <> on Friday June 26, 2009 @04:28AM (#28479051) Homepage

          I would argue that the main advantage of the "get us off this rock crap" is that at some point we are absolutely going to take an extinction-level hit from some other rock, or a massive solar flare that toasts half the planet, or some other damned thing. If we don't spread across several worlds, we vastly increase the likelihood of becoming just another trilobite bed.

          It isn't merely a matter of fixing the earth, which I wholeheartedly agree is of prime importance; off-world colonies are essential for the survival of the species. We don't need to colonize only Mars and Luna; we need to colonize other star systems. Gamma-ray bursts, supernovas and asteroid impacts aren't imaginary bogeymen. The universe is an incredibly dangerous place, and so far we've been lucky, but that's only because we're new in the neighborhood. The geologic record is littered with evidence that bad shit happens. Hell, just look at a map of Canada. Lake Manicouagan in Quebec was created by a chunk of rock three miles wide.

          At some point terrestrial homo sapiens is guaranteed to take an irrecoverable hit, and if we haven't put down roots elsewhere, that's it for humanity and any of our eventual descendants.

          So yes, we have to get off of this goddamned rock, and the sooner the better. I'm astonished anyone even bothers to argue about this.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Ex-MislTech ( 557759 )

          Well NASA has had balloons take multi-ton payloads to 171,000 ft.

          So at that extreme altitude we could rail gun materials into space.

          As for ppl we can't rail gun them into space as it would kill them past
          a certain rate of acceleration.

          From that height though we could launch something like the rumored
          Blackstar rocket plane to reach space.


          To fuel the rocket planes we could use hydrogen, also as lift for the balloons.

          Biological hydrogen production would need so

        • Re:Good ideas. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Maximum Prophet ( 716608 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @09:33AM (#28481147)
          Ben Bova had this same idea in "The Winds of Altair", a kids book where they go to a planet around Altair because the Earth is getting too polluted to live on. The plan to convert it's methane atmosphere to regular air, but they find inhabitants, prove they are intelligent, and decide that the methane to oxygen transmuters could convert Earth's polluted air to clean air, so they go back.

          Once we can sustain a colony outside earth, we can use the same technology to live here. The real reason to leave would be political, to keep the population from being killed off by war.
    • Gravity wells (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @03:21AM (#28478581) Journal
      I don't see the big plus of inhabiting other "gravity wells". It's not like they're that much nicer places, and it'll be expensive to get back off them.

      Better to work on building sustainable space stations with necessary stuff like artificial gravity and radiation shielding, so that people can actually live on them _indefinitely_. Start by building them near the Earth. After that work on space stations that can build space stations out of stuff like asteroids - space factories. Then we can have space colonies and roam about colonizing the solar system.

      Once you have a sustainable space station, it doesn't really matter how long it takes to get to Mars or Titan (within reason of course). No rush.

      In fact, the long term inhabitants of space colonies might view living on Mars or the Moon far more unpleasant than living in a space colony.

      Trying to live on some other planet or some moon without having a "real" space station seems like trying to jump before even being able to stand unsupported. Yes, maybe you can still do it with great effort and cost, but it's ridiculous and stupid.

      The current space stations don't count - they're spaceships "going nowhere", the equivalent of living in a cramped subcompact car. Not suitable places for raising future generations of humans.
    • Re:Good ideas. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by savuporo ( 658486 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @03:46AM (#28478751)
      Seriously, NASA (and most space programs in general) should have one crucial long term goal: Getting us off this ball of rock and inhabiting other ones

      NASA is a government agency ( an arthritic one ), government agencies don't colonize. Especially when international law explicitly forbids that.

      What most people miss in 2001: Space Odyssey, are the logos on the space plane and Space Station V itself, where dr. Heywood flies to . They read "Pan American" and "Hilton Hotels" accordingly, NOT NASA, RSA or any other *SA.

      Ironically, when time called for beating the communists to the moon, the great U.S. of A. did not tap into free enterprise, but created a huge socialist government-run space business, which 40 years later still thinks it should be running a space trucking line.
    • Re:Good ideas. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted@slashdoA ... inus threevowels> on Friday June 26, 2009 @03:51AM (#28478789)

      I think we will get off this rock. But not in the form that you might think of.

      We will send out robots. With our brains uploaded into them. And robots with a high intelligence.
      We will also create wetware robots. We will move from planet to planet via data transmission. From robot body to robot body... to wetware body.
      In a way, we could call this the "energy lifeform" that you see in so many sci-fi movies.

      So, in some time in the future, "humans" will be a term, associated to the "program" (or whatever it will be), and not to the body itself. That will just be another tool.

      I wonder, what porn we will be watching. ^^

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 26, 2009 @02:27AM (#28478197)

    how much for a one way ticket?

    • Biggest problem moving to Mars.
      Although your network connection will be optical fiber, the lag is just beyond freaking belief...
    • by GrpA ( 691294 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @02:44AM (#28478309)

      Yeah, a one-way ticket to colonise some other place...

      We believed you the first time, when you said we were all "Criminals" and needed to be sent to Australia.

      We're going to be a bit more suspicious when you start sending us to Mars though for the same reason...

      And it won't be for stealing bread this time I bet... Probably for downloading music or similar.


    • Reality TV (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @04:00AM (#28478857) Journal
      Don't worry, start a Reality TV show called: "Vote Them Off The Planet".

      Depending on the categories, winners get a one way or return ticket to various space destinations.

      The voters pay for the tickets by voting (SMS etc).

      And depending on the categories, either the candidates or someone else presents the case for why the candidates should win.

      For example:

      Proposer #1: "I propose George Bush, 'one way', since he's so keen on going to the Moon, we should send him and it would be a net benefit to the world".
  • by DiamondGeezer ( 872237 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @02:35AM (#28478243) Homepage
    ...punch Bart Sibrel in the mouth. Repeatedly. My only criticism of Buzz Aldrin is he didn't plant his feet hard enough to break Sibrel's jaw with the punch. And have me there so I could hold Buzz's coat. Hey! Maybe we could fire Sibrel at Mars to colonize it on his own. And then deny he ever existed.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I want to add to this that I'd like to hold the guy whilst Mr. Aldrin is punching him. That way it will be easier for his jaw to be properly broken. Not that I doubt the Mr. Aldrin's ability to do the job, but I'd like to make it easier for him.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 26, 2009 @03:06AM (#28478475)

      Since I had to look it up: []

      Most astronauts have refused to grant him interviews due to his questionable tactics used in attempts to obtain footage of them confessing to being conspirators in a hoax. The most infamous incident involved Apollo 11 crew member Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon. According to Aldrin, he was lured to a Beverly Hills hotel under the pretext of an interview on space for a Japanese children's television show. When he arrived, Aldrin claims Sibrel was there demanding that he swear on a Bible that he had walked on the moon.

      When Aldrin refused, Sibrel called him a coward, a liar, and a thief. Aldrin punched Sibrel in the jaw and the incident was captured on video. Sibrel later attempted to use the tape to convince police and prosecutors that he was the victim of an assault. However, it was decided that Aldrin had been provoked, and did not actually injure Sibrel, and so no charges were filed. Many talk show hosts aired the clip.

  • Less Bucks. More Buck Rogers.
  • Gah, no. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @02:41AM (#28478287) Journal

    Good idea ditching the extra launch vehicles. Let someone else take the risk if you can.

    But an international consortium? Did he even pay attention to station?

    International consortiums are great, if your goal is "to work together with other nations towards a goal." But they tend to fail miserably if you have something you want to actually accomplish. You end up doing everything redundantly anyway, and somehow it costs even more than just the redundancy ought to account for.

    The only upside to the consortium idea is also a huge downside: you can sort-of force certain milestones by making them treaty obligations. Unfortunately, then you have a pile of treaty obligations in your way if you need to scrap part of the project to go down a better avenue, or you just want to cut your losses and get out.

    • by XanC ( 644172 )

      Parent nailed it.

      • Parent nailed it.

        No, Buzz nailed it before parent did. Buzz doesn't want to go back to the moon. However, no one (including him) has the balls to cancel this project.

        Therefore, Buzz is suggesting that we instead sandbag the project, cut our losses, and give it to other countries. That can be our contribution to the consortium. If those other countries fail, who the hell cares? If they make it there, that's fine also. Either way, we've been there, and we've done that. There isn't much to gain for us, but th

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      NASA has a lot of experience in some fields and the Russians have a lot of experience in others (eg. launch vehicles, long term missions etc). Also NASA has efffectively been doing a lot of things successfully with international contractors for a very long time - NASA has paid for a lot of work done in Australia for at least twenty years. All it takes for it to work is clear divisions of responsibility and good management. Shiny things to distract meddling politicians also help and allow the real work to
    • But they tend to fail miserably if you have something you want to actually accomplish

      Did you not read his article? You need to read it again. What Buzz is saying is essentially: "Going back to the moon is old-hat. I even have a t-shirt to prove it is. We need to think bigger, but I realize that the moon stuff needs some attention. Let's make an international consortium where the others do the heavy lifting on this mission since it is probably mostly useless anyway. Then we can focus on going to Phobos and Mars."

      Buzz has something he actually wants accomplished, that is why he wants someone

  • I really like his ideas, hopefully they will come to fruition and NASA will turn into the space agency we all have been wishing we had. To think, if Aldrin's plans succeed we will be on Mars in my lifetime...That sends thrill filled shivers through my body.
  • Safety? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 )

    Aldrin suggests canceling NASA's troubled and increasingly costly Ares I, instead launching manned capsules on commercial Delta IV, Atlas V, and/or SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets.

    Weren't those considered unsafe for manned flight?

    • IMO we should just leave it to nice little bots until we can come up with something other than giant firecrackers to put people in space.

      • by lxs ( 131946 )

        And when we finally get there we have to fight the bots for their land... No thanks.

      • by TiberSeptm ( 889423 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @03:44AM (#28478735)
        It's kind of paternalistic to condemn manned spaceflight as risky when the risk is something that many astronauts assume gladly for the chance to experience space.

        The inherent risk of manned spaceflight is an argument that people tend to throw in to give their otherwise self-serving cost arguments a false feeling of moral weight.
    • Re:Safety? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by oni ( 41625 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @09:03AM (#28480699) Homepage

      Weren't those considered unsafe for manned flight?

      The story I heard was thus: There is a process called "man-rating" which means that you certify a particular launch vehicle to be able to carry a capsule containing people. The process is sort of like ISO9000 or whatever. Essentially, you have gobs of documentation that say things like, "this bolt will fail in this circumstance. The resulting stress on the other 20 bolts is X" "In the event that this tube leaks, the pressure will be Y" In some cases, you have to make things redundant: "the failure rate of this pump is X, which is beyond the risk tolerance for manned flight, so we have this backup pump - the chance that both pumps will fail is Y"

      Bottom line: you might have to replace or redesign parts of the rocket in order to make it man-rated. And what I was told is that it might actually be more expensive to man-rate a Delta IV heavy, than to simply design a man-rated rocket like Ares from the ground up.

  • For every useless wanker up there, just to make sure he has a reasonable chance to come back in one piece, and to provide him with a place to shit, sleep and eat, you've spent the equivalent of a hundred Mars rovers.
    For the price of the Uselessational Space Station, we could have built an interferometric telescope with which we could have looked at neighbouring solar systems' planets, and figure if they had life.
    Go ahead, tell me how sending dozens of rovers exploring the whole solar system and/or having a

  • by salesgeek ( 263995 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @03:18AM (#28478563) Homepage

    In my lifetime three things have driven technology's march:

    * Space exploration.
    * People wanting to kill each other more efficiently.
    * Making a quick buck.

    Of these, only space exploration is an example of Man aspiring to greatness. It's about time we shifted our space program out of neutral and brought back the creativity and blue sky thinking that went on in the 1950s and 1960s. What NASA has been doing the past 10 years or so has been minor league and simply lacking ambition. Setting big goals and developing the ideas and technology to reach those goals is what our people are investing in.

    To the robot mafia: YOU DON'T GET IT. Space exploration is not just about getting data. Sure, collecting data is important. But so is forcing man to grow and adapt to new challenges. The scientific advancements driven by the space program in the past are in large part due to making it possible for a person to travel and explore a hostile environment over impossible differences. Sending humans is expensive, complex and risky, but is rewarding thousandfold beyond it's cost. Exploring space with robots is easy and cheap but does not drive the kind of thinking that changes the world as the space programs of the 50s, 60s and 70s did.

    Another note to the robot mafia: Robots killing people is a bad idea. Actually, so is people killing people.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @05:26AM (#28479389) Homepage

      In my lifetime three things have driven technology's march:

      * Space exploration.
      * People wanting to kill each other more efficiently.
      * Making a quick buck.

      Of these, only space exploration is an example of Man aspiring to greatness.

      Yes, because getting the funding to run a huge missile program right after the cuban missile crisis during the height of the cold war was soooooooo about taking money away from "People wanting to kill each other more efficiently." and gicing it to an altruistic aspiration to greatness. Sure, it came in a very nice sales package with a civilian agency and a great morale booster but the reason it passed was that it created lots and lots of high tech research and equipment of military value. If it was about "aspiring to greatness" why would the russians break their back trying to keep up with it? The other two points are timeless classics though. Add "Getting the girl" and you've summed up the reasons for most of humanity's innovation...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by brkello ( 642429 )
      And don't forget porn!
  • Old coot (Score:2, Interesting)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) *

    I'm reading this thing so let me chime in with my annoyances as I read it.

    Instead, we should stretch out the six remaining shuttle flights to 2015--one per year. Sure, that will cost money, but we can more than make up for it by canceling the troubled Ares I. In its place, we should use the old reliable Delta IV Heavy or the Atlas V satellite launchers, upgraded for human flight. (It won't take much.)

    Sigh. I expect better from Buzz Aldrin - he's Buzz Freakin' Aldrin! What it "will take" is 6 years and the time it takes to build and gift new launch facilities to ULA. And that's their estimate. It will likely take longer. SpaceX says they can do it faster, but it's still not an Ares I class vehicle we're talking about here.

    NASA should also step up its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program to subsidize private rockets like the SpaceX Falcon 9, which could make its first flight any time now. SpaceX is also developing the Dragon capsule to fly seven astronauts to the space station.

    Yah, more money for SpaceX.. I humbly agree with Mr Aldrin. However, even if SpaceX's COTS D capability w

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      "News Flash: Buzz Aldrin doesn't understand delta-v."

      He has a frigging doctorate in orbital mechanics. Do you?
  • by w0mprat ( 1317953 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @05:38AM (#28479455)

    Much better to spend the colossal amount of money on fixing this world.

    But that isn't happening, is it? It won't happen. It doesn't happen. That's the key problem here. I guess that's the thinking from congress and other governments from the mid-80s to now is: "Isn't the money better spent on the ground fixing real problems?". Well that's the primary excuse to not fund space exploration. What really happens is the money ends up going down all the usual bottomless holes of the government, and dare I say it: this world is possibly too broke to fix.

    IMHO, directing public funds to specific, dedicated, scientific endeavors is the single best thing that can be done with government money. Sure roads need fixing and schools need resources, but discretionary government spending should not be diverted to the endless bottomless pits of public resources, because they are always needing more money. The money just disappears. A dollar spent on space exploration eventually generates a hell of a lot of useful science and engineering.

    By one famous quote every dollar spent on the Apollo program generated seven dollars for the US economy.

    This is what governments don't get about science, even if the LHC never fires up, and never turns out anything useful, it actually would have been terrifically useful, since it has already generated a lot of scientific just to figure out how to build it. Not to mention all the Internet 2.0 infrastructure put in place by universities etc to handle all the data it will output. So this is why we need to get on with the job of going back to the moon, and to mars, to stay.

    There's almost no such thing as useless science, and on the most useful level of all, space exploration is species-saving level stuff.

    Spending up on aerospace tech usually trickles down to the private sector. A lot of political leaders do not understand what the billions of dollars the US poured into science and engineering during the cold war have done to the world today: Basically pretty much everything we have, and take utterly for granted as a technological civilization now can be traced back to the space race in the cold war. Even the beginnings of silicon valley goes back to cold war funded roots.

    Right now, dollar for dollar putting a human in space to do science is much better value than the equivalent robot.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel