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Buzz Aldrin Pressures Obama For New Space Exploration Initiative 78

MarkWhittington writes: While he has initiated the social media campaign, #Apollo45, to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the first moon landing, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin is also using the occasion to campaign for an expansion of American space exploration. According to a Tuesday story in the Washington Post, Aldrin has expressed the wish that President Obama make some sort of announcement along those lines this July 20. The idea has a certain aspect of deja vu. Aldrin believes that the American civil space program is adrift and that some new space exploration, he prefers to Mars, would be just the thing to set it back on course. There is only one problem, however. President Obama has already made the big space exploration announcement. Aldrin knows this because he was there. President Obama flew to the Kennedy Space Center on April 15, 2010, with Aldrin accompanying as a photo op prop, and made the announcement that America would no longer be headed back to the moon, as was the plan under his predecessor George W. Bush. Instead American astronauts would visit an Earth approaching asteroid and then, decades hence, would land on Mars.
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Buzz Aldrin Pressures Obama For New Space Exploration Initiative

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  • by B33rNinj4 ( 666756 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @08:24AM (#47414133) Homepage Journal
    I'm all for having a thriving, privatized space program. However, we still need the government to be involved and run their own end. We'll never get anywhere if we rely on just one side.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      True, but NASA needs to focus on what they do well (or at least what some would say they used to do well), innovation, problem solving, advanced research, etc. And hey need to let private companies handle the mundane stuff such as launch to LEO. We've seen how bad things can go (Constellation & SLS) when NASA tries to do it all. Focus them on building a (likely modular) spacecraft for transit to the Moon/Mars/Asteroid/etc and the associated hardware/technology to get us to those places safely. And le

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The latest election cycle showed that all the candidates trying to look like they are for debt reduction was willing to kill NASA altogether.

    This is despite that agency funding is minuscule compared to the rest of the federal government. NASA has become an easy target for politicians to beat up on, since the swing voters and the right don't see any benefit coming out of the agency.

    Thanks to this myopic thinking the US now depends on Russia to man the space station.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      No one is making the case for a strong space program. It is not enough to go to the moon is because it would be "cool" or inspiring or because we might make something that could be useful. The US did it during the cold war because it was seen as a battle to be won. Now the best case that can be made is that the sun will snuff out humanity in a few million years. There is no urgent need.
      • Re:Not just Obama. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Rei ( 128717 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @10:05AM (#47414883) Homepage

        Agreed. But that doesn't mean it doesn't make sense to embark on big projects. Rather than a "Hey, we're going to walk somewhere new" sort of thing, I'd like to see work on one of any number of space-related megaprojects - for example, a launch loop [wikipedia.org] and/or fallout-free nuclear rockets**. Something that could actually lower the cost of access to space to the point that it doesn't take a vast effort to go walk on another celestial body.

        ** - There's so many competing designs it's hard to know where to start. My personal concept I've mulled over is a variant of the nuclear lightbulb concept, but instead of the fused-silica bulb containig a gas or plasma core reactor which requires some unknown containment method, the concept calls for a dusty fission core (akin to a dusty fission fragment rocket), which can be electrostatically contained. The energy would be released in the infrared, not visible or ultraviolet (as in a conventional lightbulb concept), but that's fine - fused silica is also transparent to infrared, and moreover doesn't lose much IR transmission as like happens in higher frequency bands; the lower radiation rate of infrared would be compensated for by the huge surface area of the dust radiating it. The simultaneous huge amounts of electric output (from fission fragment deceleration in a grid) could be used in part to run a microwave beam, creating a plasma sheath in ducted atmospheric air surrounding the bulb (airbreathing mode) or injected gas surrounding it (rocket mode) to aid in IR absorption and keep as much of the heat away from the (reflective) walls as possible. A VASIMR-ish mode is possible if you use low gas injection rates and a magnetic nozzle. In space, gas injection could be terminated altogether and the core could be opened up to run in dusty fission fragment mode and get Isp figures in the lower hundreds of thousands. To make up for the problems with using the standard dusty fission fragment rocket proposal's (heavy) moderator in such a high power environment, my thoughts were to have it operate as a subcritical reactor with a spallation neutron source as the driver - after all, there's no shortage of electricity to run an accelerator if you're decelerating a good chunk of the fragments; you don't even have to deal with Carnot losses.

        • by Rei ( 128717 )

          Corr: That should read "doesn't lose much IR transmission as a consequence of neutron bombardment like happens in higher frequency bands" - accidentally lost that middle part. Fused silica and fused quartz (especially the latter, but also the former) blacken under neutron exposure, losing transparency; it's even done intentionally to make jewelry [google.is]. But the papers I ran into when researching the topic showed that this effect isn't very pronounced in the IR band.

  • We'll get to Mars...just in time to see the beginnings of the first Chinese colony, New Beijing.
  • Some politicians would benefit from returning from the moon to earth, and not thinking about traveling from earth to the space. There are many issues that are many times cheaper to resolve, and would improve the world, the real world, in a meaningful way. I am all for the space exploration and new technologies. All of such endeavors need to be financed with private voluntary contributions.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    In 2010, Obama made the announcement... it's now 2014... all they've done is cut NASA funding.

    • one more broken promise from obama...surprise surprise
      • Right and the Republican are all about restoring NASA's budget. Moron.
        • well to be fair, bush did make it seem like the USA was going back to the moon, probably the only thing i liked about the man. obama cares more about keeping his people happy, at least bushes people build rockets (defense contractors, boeing, etc) so there was some real hope.
        • and besides that i never mentioned the republicans, obama made promises, and broke them. sure the republicans in congress make promises and break them as well but this isnt about them, this is about more broken promises from our president. which seem to be all he knows how to do

          but please, keep injecting non related information and insulting people for pointing out a liar .... moron
  • by Anonymous Coward

    We Americans want to feel big and tough from our couches. We want to see our military kick the shit out some other "evil" country from the comforts of our homes, sitting on our fat asses in front of the big China made screen TV.

    Science? Space? That's for the godless "elites".

    Spending money on idiotic wars is fine.

    Spending a small fraction of that on space is a "waste".

    We Americans are like my alcoholic uncle. Bitches to his kids to turn off the lights when not in the room - even the fish tank has to be tur

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mtthwbrnd ( 1608651 )

      Obama might find a way to stay around. Or his handlers might. He is the most useful idiot they have had so far.

      Actually scratch that, you know what we need? A woman! Last time around I voted for the black guy, this time I'm voting for a woman. Gooooooo ME! I am like, so liberated! After that I will vote for a gay guy. And then a lesbian.

      Policies? Oh, who cares about policies!

    • Nope, we're known for killing people, being bullies, and for being a bunch of scientifically illiterate Bible thumping morons.

      We're also bad at math, since we believe that 31 months is "less than 2 years".

  • Ha ha! Fooled you!

  • I remember watching Apollo 11 land it's about damn time we did something useful.

    Asteroid Capture, YES !!
    Permanent Lunar presence for Helium 3 extraction YES

    Marooning people on Mars to die ? I can't express how wrong that is.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Megane ( 129182 )

      Permanent Lunar presence for Helium 3 extraction YES

      Uh, huh. So what exactly are you going to do with that helium when you extract the few parts per million on the lunar surface? We don't even have fusion working yet, and He3 is not a first-generation fusion fuel.

      We'll be on Mars long before we can use He3 for anything but inflating balloons.

      • Hell we we will be out of helium on earth before we are doing anything useful on mars.
        http://www.popularmechanics.co... [popularmechanics.com]

        So at the very least it will be something useful even if horribly expensive.

        Even the Roanoak colony had a business plan, Whats the one for Mars ? Sell advertising time to fund the launch ? (Note a heck of better way to spend them than giving them to facebook)

    • I've been marooned to die on Earth for many years now.
  • by scotts13 ( 1371443 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @08:56AM (#47414271)

    What's the point of having a "plan" when it changes every four or eight years? It takes longer than that to complete a large technology project; the only way to accomplish it is to have a beloved leader start it, then quick shoot him - so it'll be completed in his honor. Come to think of it, we'll never get past the "beloved leader" part. What's the last time we had anything other than the lesser of evils?

  • by Kelbear ( 870538 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @09:02AM (#47414297)

    Buzz did an AMA yesterday on reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/c... [reddit.com]

    He elaborated a bit on why he thinks NASA should target Mars, and the short version is that NASA is spread thin with a tiny fraction of the budget it once had to venture to the moon. NASA needs a passion project on which they can fire on all cylinders and do something big. We can visit an asteroid, and few will raise an eyebrow. If we go to Mars, it'll be a landmark achievement that the world will make note of. It's a dream that can focus and revitalize the space program, whereas the asteroid visitation is simply aiming too low as the overarching goal for NASA.

    • "NASA needs a passion project on which they can fire on all cylinders and do something big."

      That nails it. But,

      "...NASA should target Mars ..."

      That's the problem, and why you can't get people stirred up over it; there's no good reason to go to Mars. There was a good reason to go to the Moon at the time. Now, not so much; which is why we don't go to the Moon anymore either. And that's okay, because it's really expensive to go.

      The asteroid thing is somewhat of a better reason, at least because whatever we fin

    • It's a dream that can focus and revitalize the space program, whereas the asteroid visitation is simply aiming too low as the overarching goal for NASA.

      I never understood this. An asteroid visit is the first and most necessary step to asteroid mining which is arguably the only way to open up the solar system with chemical rockets for propulsion. Go out and grab a water rich asteroid, ship up a few hundred square meters of solar panels and start cracking the water into fuel. Obviously there are challenges involved, but not having to haul all the fuel for your interplanetary burns from the Earth's surface would cut the difficulty of a Mars mission signifi

    • by stiggle ( 649614 )

      NASA has a reduced budget so has to do more with less.

      The overarching goal is Mars...
      The asteroid visit is a stepping stone, which they'll have to do anyway at some point.

      Just like when they were going to the moon, they did a few orbits of the Earth first before moving to to orbiting the moon, then finally landing on it. The asteroid visits, capture, asteroid insertion into lunar orbit, etc are all steps rather than a single shot system whose only purpose is to get to Mars. We saw how useful Apollo was at

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      NASA needs a passion project on which they can fire on all cylinders and do something big.

      No, the American people need a passion project for space. The space race happened because it was "Us vs Them" and when you got the people behind you, politics generally gets out of the way.

      But when you don't have the people behind you, politics gets in the way and you end up with stuff like the Shuttle and people opposing you on purely ideological grounds.

      Hell, try doing any pure science research, and it's heavily poli

  • What has NASA ever gotten us? I always see huge lists like more comfortable chairs (memory foam) and shoes, but industry would have invented those anyway. Satellites? Legit; nobody sane was ever going to build space launch shit on private money. Other than that, piles and piles of junk, and some history.

    Skip NASA. Move their funding over to something like a National Institute of Health, and take up researching new medical treatments and drugs. Release all that shit to the public. If you're into so

    • by c4t3l ( 3606237 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @09:28AM (#47414491)
      I gotta disagree with you bud. An entire generation of folks were inspired by the Apollo program to dream and become todays scientists/engineers etc. The world NEEDS lofty goals like this. I think that too many folks focus on "What NASA got us" and not on the value of the less tangible items (inspiration and willingness to push the envelope of human acheivement).

      • Actually that was Star Trek and science fiction. Given the space program was an arms race issue...won't happen again. The key to NASA's success is studying the universe with space probes. Maned exploration is a waste of money with no ROI. We can discover a lot more and do more scientific research with space probes - Cassini anyone....
      • The market is what makes engineers and scientists. NASA created some market niches earlier than they would have existed, and it did create a few on its own. The least likely is satellites. The DOD created the friggin' Internet.

        Also who ever decided to become an engineer because of the moon launches? This is pop culture: every kid wanted to be an ASTRONAUT, and their idea of an astronaut was a fat man in a white suit with a hose and a fish bowl on his head, playing in outer space! Nobody looked at t

  • He should post something on kickstarter and then donate all of the money to NASA. It seems to be working out for LeVar Burton.
  • The other day, I googled the 7 Wonders of the World... we talk about them from time to time, and marvel at them, but the list is far from agreed... there are the 7 wonders of the ancient world, and newer wonders often mentioned such as the Taj Mahal. There is a list of wonders put forth by civil engineers, and the Golden Gate bridge is on that list.

    What I found most interesting is that human footprints on another world isn't even considered. And when I think of wonders, I have to believe that walking
    • Maybe you're talking about this list of 7 Modern Wonders? http://www.asce.org/content.as... [asce.org] What do they all have in common? Utility. They aren't just statues or publicity stunts. They serve a purpose that has direct impact on the lives of millions of people. Something that manned space programs have failed to deliver.

      You talk about inspiration, but it was quite the opposite. Men walked on the moon, showed that its a barren rock and people lost interest almost immediately. All the romance and excitement wa

  • The technological differences between going to the Moon and going to Mars is vast as the distances from the Earth, respectively. Also, would "we" have spent billions going to the moon, if not for cold-war politics?

  • In Bush's original terminiation of the space shuttle program the US was supposed have a shuttle replacement by this year. Now the earliest is 2018 with some suspecting more like 2021 or so. The recession and tea party politics stretched out replacement spending programs. NASA has order Soyuz seats through 2017 at a very high price. Russian factories need a three year advance order to build new capsules and rockets.

    The rated lifetime of the ISS somewhere between 2020 and 2030. Russia is not committing
  • Except for a few people, nobody cares about Mars. Only need to see what the politicos and major decision makers are working on. Also from http://www.projectrho.com/rock... [projectrho.com]
    "The Gobi Desert is about a thousand times as hospitable as Mars and five hundred times cheaper and easier to reach. Nobody ever writes "Gobi Desert Opera" because, well, it's just kind of plonkingly obvious that there's no good reason to go there and live. It's ugly, it's inhospitable and there's no way to make it pay. Mars is just the
  • The problem with our space program is not the goal(s). No, not at all that. It is the short sighted edicts from certain key members of congress (and their staff) forcing NASA to build the slow motion train wreck pork rocket to nowhere that is the SLS (Senate/Shelby Launch System).

    If the vast resources on that program, especially the ones in said senators district, were re-purposed to manage and support a multi-vendor fix price milestone based competition like commercial cargo and commercial crew to station

  • With that combined budget we would be living in weather domes on the Moon by now and launching interstellar probes to find Earth 2.

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