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Mars Moon NASA Science

NASA's Bolden Speaks On Future Mars Mission, Chinese Moon Landing 154

MarkWhittington writes "During an interview with USA Today on the eve of the arrival of the Mars Rover Curiosity, NASA administrator Charles Bolden had some interesting thoughts on why a humans-to-Mars mission should be international and not American-led, how the world should react positively to the Chinese beating America back to the moon, and what he would do (or rather not do) if NASA were to have an 'unlimited' budget."
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NASA's Bolden Speaks On Future Mars Mission, Chinese Moon Landing

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  • by jhoegl ( 638955 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @04:45PM (#40860993)
    I want to go to there
    But I lack the funds to go to there
    When will I go to there?
    • When you've cried
      About the space
      You've been denied
      Don't fret, Chet

    • No, Haiku is 5-7-5. Like this.

      Want to go to Mars
      But no cash to spend on gas
      Want road head China?
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Urge to see red Mars.
        Eastern way only, so I
        eat noodles in space

      • The last line should include an reference to the season.

        Get your ass to Mars!
        No cash for a rocket ship?
        China is in bloom...

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Traditional haiku are complex, but I've never heard any definition that requires you to reference the season in the last line. Generally haiku are about nature or possibly a change of season.

          Martian regolith
          under my feet or is it
          Chinese soil? Lost race.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      When you become rich. :P I'd like to go to space too. "I don't want to be on this planet anymore."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    From the article: In an interview conducted by USA Today on the eve of what is hopefully the successful soft landing of the Mars Rover Curiosity...

    Did the meaning of the word eve change or is Curiosity no longer landing on the 6th?

  • React positively? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @04:52PM (#40861077)

    In the even that China reaches a point that we achieved 40 years ago... and that we haven't been able to do again since? No, I will be disappointed in my government insisting we spend more putting bullets in the heads of children, bombs in jungles and scrub hillsides and bailing out incompetent, greedy industries. All the while idiot Republicans scream constantly that we need to cut even more government spending on irrelevant things while not raising taxes to pay for the debts accrued due to shitty spending policies over the last 30 years.

    We could be going "Welcome to Armstrong Base!" to the Chinese taikonauts landing on the moon, and for a fraction of what we've spent slaughtering people and covering for the incompetent. Instead we've squandered what we had with only a death toll and debt to show for it.

    • Really? Idiot Republicans? Both parties voted for bailouts of TooBigToFail XYZ. Reps tend to want lower gov spending except on military. Dems tend to want lower spending except on social entitlements of their liking.

      I for one would rather see us spend money on another moon mission than trying to convince Afghans about the glories of representative government, or for DHS to research why kids get fat when they eat too much bacon.

      Lets not forget about the dramatic shift in social standing of tech/enginee
      • Reps tend to want lower gov spending except on military. Dems tend to want lower spending except on social entitlements of their liking.

        No, they don't. They each talk that way, but when Reps are in office, government spending goes up. And when Dems are in office, government spending goes up (with the possible exception of Clinton, but he also had a giant revenue surplus to work with).

        The Reps were all too happy to bail out the banksters, so any claims about them wanting lower spending are bullshit.

        The Dem

        • It also would've been suicide to not bail out the banks. Nobody wants that.

          The problem with the bailout was what happened immediately after it: as soon as the bankers got the money, everyone was all too happy that "they'd really learned their lesson" and that new regulation was simply going to starve off the recovery!

          Even if that were true, the only thing it means is that we should've picked a growth target, written some laws and said "these come into effect here, it's about 5 years away, you've been warned

          • No, giving money to people who've proved they can't manage it is stupid, and it rewards the wrongdoers. It never should have been done. If the banks are that important to the economy, they should have been seized by the government, and then broken apart and privatized later. Governments seize critical industries all the time. You don't leave the same morons in charge when things go south, and you sure as hell don't give them a fortune in taxpayer money so they can have a big bonus.

    • This post reminds me why I like reddit's moderation system better; I'd give you an up-mod if I could, because you're exactly correct.

    • Maybe the reason the US hasn't gone back to the moon is because they already went several times, had a look around, bounced around, collected some rocks, planted a flag, shot some film, and decided there wasn't really much else you could do on a barren landscape with vacuum for an atmosphere. If China eventually gets to the moon that will guarantee an increase in the NASA budget to go back and make sure China or anyone else doesn't occupy the proverbial high ground. A scenerio like that would turn the proj

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 02, 2012 @04:54PM (#40861101)

    I'd send all of Congress on a space mission. To land on the Sun. I'll tell them they'll go at night and land on the dark side.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Bolden speaks as though humanity will march toward the stars arm in arm, full of brotherly love. Like Kipling said though "When everyone is dead, the Great Game is finished. Not before." Putting concerns about international cooperation ahead of long term US interests is going to hurt in the future, especially since China and Russia will put their own interests first.

    When it becomes feasible to extract resources from space, the space race will never end.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I think nationalism is one of the stupider elements of human culture, but separate competing organizations would be more a benefit than hindrance.There needs to be different teams, with different methods, and different failures and successes. Without that, people would never learn, and nothing would ever move forward.

  • > How the world should react positively to China beating America back to the moon.

    Yes, "We, for one, welcome our new Chinese overlords..."

  • by EdgePenguin ( 2646733 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @05:17PM (#40861387) Homepage

    Its nice to see NASA talking about international cooperation. Perhaps this will make ESA, and certain ESA member states who are notoriously tight fisted with contributions and refuse to participate in any manned flight *coughUKcough*, start to think seriously about how Europe can be involved. I know people who work for ESA and for EADS, and there is no shortage of will in the industry to start pushing out properly.

    As far as I'm concerned, any non-international deep space exploration runs the risk of leading to conflict between nations in space, and that is a really dumb idea. We've seen, from ASAT tests and accidental collisions, what even a handful of destroyed satellites can do to the space debris situation. A full-on space war means we lose access to LEO entirely, for a very long time.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Right now NASA is regarded as an unreliable partner; they fucked over IXO, LISA, Laplace and Exomars in short order and were doing the hokey-cokey with Euclid.

      Their passive-aggressive bullshit is beyond annoying.

      • This is all true - but it is still the case that ESA will not move on manned spaceflight without a nudge from NASA. The only indigenous European manned space hardware is the ATV - which only exists so that we can have a stake in the ISS.

        Its not like there is a shortage of technical ideas; EADS were quite willing to turn ATV into a proper manned spacecraft, and Ariane 5 shouldn't have been too hard to man rate, seeing as it was designed to be man rated in the first place for the abandoned Hermes shuttle. Th

    • With the current economic crisis in Europe? No way. Even before the crisis blew up they were dragging their feet all the time. Remember the ATV derived manned transportation systems proposed by Astrium? Then there is the Vinci engine which is a high-performance upper stage engine capable of multiple restarts. They have tested it to death and have been waiting for years for a Ariane 5 second stage that uses it to be funded.
    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )
      ITAR. This is a big barrier for other countries to participate with NASA (US space program). Some of these have simply given up on collaboration with NASA, even though they are behind in space technology but with ITAR they are probably better off working on programs that have no NASA involvement.
  • ...and this is how you repay me:

    China is considered a repressive, totalitarian regime and an opponent of the United States on Earth.

  • by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @05:21PM (#40861433) Journal

    For anybody who wants to read the actual interview article with Bolden instead of just relying on MarkWhittington's distorted Yahoo summary, you can find the interview here:

    http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/space/story/2012-08-01/NASA-mars-rover/56656270/1 [usatoday.com]

    • I apologize for not having the time to watch the video, but I have a question for whoever does: did Bolden really say the US wouldn't lead a mission to mars? That sounds fishy. Or did he instead say we wouldn't "go it alone" to Mars, and then separately say that the US won't be the leader on every single space initiative (which is very reasonable - perhaps obvious)?

      To me this summary and most of the slashdot responses so far sound either biased or trolling, but I'll admit if I'm wrong.

  • Of course... (Score:1, Redundant)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 )

    OF COURSE a Mars mission shouldn't be American led, regardless of who's funding it, who's launching it, and whose technology is making it happen. Making it American-led might make someone else feel less important.

    After all (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/07/charles-bolden-nasas-fore_n_637854.html) NASAs foremost mission "...Is To Improve Relations With Muslim World..."

  • That you moved up the landing schedule form Monday morning (EDT) to Friday.
    It is not the eve of the landing.
    I am not playing grammar Nazi. There are likely grammatical errors in my post.
    But as a news outlet, can we get facts right?????

    By the way, the landing will be shown live on a jumbo-tron in Times Square!
    http://www.space.com/16863-mars-rover-landing-nasa-events.html [space.com]

    • First of all, it's not grammar; it's semantics, so you're safe.

      Secondly, "on the eve of" can have both a literal and an idiomatic or "poetic" meaning, as in the song "Eve of Destruction". It means "about to happen"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 02, 2012 @05:49PM (#40861681)

    Reading the article leads me to the conclusion that Mr. Bolden pretty much represents everything I consider wrong with NASA. Instead of bold or inspiring visions, he appears to be thinking small and doing small, which is pretty much the opposite of what I would expect from a NASA administrator. Yes, sure, resources are always a constraint and not everything that would be cool can be done but he actively avoids even contemplating going beyond his quite limited horizon.

    For starters, regarding Mars he says that it should be an international mission, which is not a bad choice per se, however, international projects are very difficult to pull off effectively. There will inevitably be bickering who pays how much, which country gets how many jobs and whose astronauts will be going. It's basically the issue of senators bringing in the pork via NASA but on a bigger (international) scale. Just negotiating the terms of such cooperation can take as long as the project itself and can easily exceed a decade (for comparison, see ITER which has been on the drawing board well over a decade before the international consortium green-lit it).

    So, international projects make things more complicated and they take longer. Sure, you get all the feel-good humanity thing and the cost is born by a larger base but the frictional costs are much higher. Nevertheless, I would've given him a pass on it if he hadn't said that the "U.S. cannot always be the leader". I'm sorry, but why not? I'm not even an American but if I were and the resources could be mustered, why not go ahead, saving the decade-long negotiation cycle? To me, this sounded like an excuse not to do it at all by postponing it indefinitely ("We're working on it, look, we're already negotiating the terms for 5 years straight now!")

    However, what really shocked me was his answer what he would do given an unlimited budget. That question was a softball to float some bold ideas to the public about what could be done. He could have suggested space habitats, moon/asteroid bases, thousands of robotic missions to map out the solar system, even more modest goals like developing new rockets and other lift capabilities. Instead what we get is literally "nothing". He would "complete Obama's plan" and "not use the extra money". In essence, he has no ideas at all and is only capable to follow instructions handed to him. I'm rather sure even NASA's janitorial staff has more creativity than that.

    • by geegel ( 1587009 )

      +1 Painful truth

    • by khallow ( 566160 )
      Well, we had a visionary right before Bolden. His vision was give lots of money to ATK. At this point, I think we'll see the real action from the private world. The national programs are all pretty screwed up.
  • "Back"? (Score:5, Funny)

    by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @06:05PM (#40861855) Homepage

    The Chinese are not beating the USA "back to the moon". They are going for the first time. The USA has already beaten them by more than forty years.

  • More then likely, SpaceX will beat them to Mars.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by WindBourne ( 631190 )
      And the moon unless the neo-cons continue to try to kill off private space. Even now, the republicans have cut a deal with NASA to fund 2.5 bids. However, the neo-cons are now attempting to tell NASA WHO will win those: ATK's Liberty will get 1, Boeing will get 1, and L-Mart will get .5. IOW, the neo-cons are attempting to cut out ALL of the new space, including SpaceX.
  • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @07:56PM (#40862927)

    Given an unlimited budget, he'd just do what he was told, go to Mars, and not do anything else. No matter what else he's done, that makes it sound like NASA needs a leader with some vision, not an administrator who simply carries out political commands.

  • I find it incredibly sad that the organisation I looked up to as a UK child (NASA) are pretty much falling from grace due to funding issues, and a lack of imagination by the powers that be. Yes, the North American Space Agency inspired this child from the UK. NASA, back in my day, were something to look up to, the pride of the WORLD - they were my Space Agency too even though they're from the USA, because they were doing stuff that no-one, not even the Soviets, could manage .... and now? Now that NASA have
  • They'll mess it up royally. And no, I'm not being racist or patriotic or any other thing you'll throw at me. And I'm not hoping anyone dies or anything like that. It's that China wants to make a big push into space for some reason. The US and the Soviet Union did that back in the 60s, and a whole lot of bad stuff happened to both countries. Why? Because we were in "The Space Race." Even Cracked.com did an article on the Soviet's hushed up failures. So let someone else test out the technology before

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus