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Moon Australia NASA Space Science

Neil Armstrong Gives Rare Interview 248

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 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.

  • 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 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 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 _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 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 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 because it's oh so much cheaper to ferry them back to Earth, but because the raw materials aren't trapped in the bottom of a gravity well and it's cheaper to build shit in space.

    The moon is just the first foothold, 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... Thirsty? Hell, Ceres is about 1/3rd the asteroid belt, and is probably full of water we can use. There's probably other BIG things floating about we have no clue of. You're either really clueless, or just chauvinistic because you're not extinct yet.
    EG: []

    Eris, is the most massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the ninth most massive body known to orbit the Sun directly. It is estimated to be approximately 2300–2400 km in diameter, and 27% more massive than Pluto or about 0.27% of the Earth's mass.

    Eris was discovered in January 2005 by a Palomar Observatory-based team led by Mike Brown, and its identity was verified later that year.

    Now look here, you short sighted, ignorant twit: You don't know what the fuck you're talking about. Get your damn priorities straight. If getting off this rock isn't priority #1 then you're just burring your head in the sand, and ignoring the fossil records found therein. We've got a CHANCE to dominate our corner of the Universe, and prosper wildly beyond your puny minded dreams, you're saying: Nope, I vote for certain death at an uncertain time. FUCK YOU MAN, that's NOT how any rational being should think. Just off yourself now, you're hindering the herd.

  • by bertok ( 226922 ) on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:26AM (#40106949)

    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 piles of money to stay warm in the winter. It's bureaucratic buzzword talk for "only 99% wasteful!".

    If you think isolated cold rocks in a hard vacuum are so fantastic, why don't you move to Bouvet Island [] for the rest of your life? You can set yourself up a nice vacuum chamber there, sprinkle some radioactive isotopes around it to simulate the harsh radiation of outer space, and you have yourself a perfectly adequate simulation of life on the moon. For extra credit, take drugs that cause osteoporosis, and do all work outside the habitat in scuba gear. Make sure to carry your water, food and oxygen with you too -- no cheating! You're allowed supplies from the outside, except that you have to give $1000 to charity for each pound imported to the island.

    Does that sound like something you want to do for the rest of your life? Would you want your family to live there like that, away from friends, family, and an "outside" that won't kill you in seconds? What would you do with your time there? Break rocks?

    If you can't think of a good reason to move to Bouvet Island, then you don't have a good reason to live on the Moon either, which is a worse place to live, further away, and more expensive to get to.

  • ISS with gritty dust that fouls all the seals and bearings. Can't do micro-G stuff because of 1/6th gravity. Really bad ping times, can't game or hold a decent conversation. No atmosphere to brake a landing, nothing but regolith to putz around in. The only thing that rock is good for is tides and sonnets.

  • 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 Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Friday May 25, 2012 @03:19AM (#40107111)

    Indeed. If Osama bin Laden hid on the Moon you would be there by now... for about the same money and with fewer people killed in the process.

    I doubt it. Only tiny amount of the USA's post-9/11 security spending went toward I'm gonna git that bastid!

    Most of it went toward pointless wars and security theatre.

  • 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.
  • Do have any idea of the logistical and industrial "tail" that's necessary to sustain a modern army in the field? And bear in mind we're talking about a situation where the society behind that has collapsed.

    To quote from Zulu Dawn: "Bullets run out, them bloody spears don't!".

  • by sysrammer ( 446839 ) on Friday May 25, 2012 @05:59AM (#40107563) Homepage

    If you want to do things fast, cheap and well a Kelly Johnson Skunkworks model is probably a much better choice than a bureaucratic quagmire.

    I agree, though keeping in mind that it still took gobs of govt money. I think what's going on regarding govt contracts with SpaceX & the others is a good direction to go. These companies are our "Skunkworks" for the time being.

    This doesn't provide directly for exploration, of course, but I think it will eventually facilitate it.


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

    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 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...

  • 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 Maximum Prophet ( 716608 ) on Friday May 25, 2012 @11:51AM (#40109551)
    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.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.