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NASA Moon The Almighty Buck

NASA Funded Study States People Could Be On the Moon By 2021 For $10 Billion 248

MarkWhittington writes: The Houston Chronicle reported that NextGen Space LLC has released the results of a study that suggests that if the United States were to choose to do space in some new and creative ways, American moon boots could be on the lunar surface by 2021. The cost from the authorization to the first crewed lunar landing would be just $10 billion. The study was partly funded by NASA and was reviewed by the space agency and commercial space experts.
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NASA Funded Study States People Could Be On the Moon By 2021 For $10 Billion

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  • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Monday July 20, 2015 @10:17PM (#50149785) Homepage
    when they originally announced the SLS and orion, the plan was for 2018 or 2019. but the funding got stripped out.

    sadly nasa is the red headed stepchild, it is one of the few government orgs that i actually care about and it gets pennies compared to orgs who want to ensure that some mole that no one has ever heard of remains protected. Its wrong
    • Re:already late (Score:4, Informative)

      by radarskiy ( 2874255 ) on Monday July 20, 2015 @11:25PM (#50150087)

      "It gets pennies compared to orgs who want to ensure that some mole that no one has ever heard of remains protected."

      The EPA has less than half the budget of NASA. "Beggar thy neighbor" is a sucker's game.

      • "It gets pennies compared to orgs who want to ensure that some mole that no one has ever heard of remains protected."

        The EPA has less than half the budget of NASA. "Beggar thy neighbor" is a sucker's game.

        LOL. Odd, I thought he was talking the CIA/NSA budgets. It is weird how the same words can be perceived differently by different people.

    • Re:already late (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dave420 ( 699308 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2015 @07:29AM (#50151227)

      Just because you have not heard of the animals some groups are attempting to save does not mean you shouldn't care about it. That is pathetic reasoning, and assumes one's knowledge is perfect. Ecosystems are important to us, as we rely on them for pretty much everything, even if it's not immediately obvious. Ecosystems are made up of relationships between sometimes-fragile populations of animals, and an imbalance in one can cause massive repercussions in others, leading to all sorts of problems you should already be aware of if you want to criticize this field. You might be upset in funding a few million here and there to protect various biotopes or species, but I'm sure you'd be even more upset to spend much more on managing the ecology because the animals that did it for free were not known to ganjadude, and so were eradicated by apathy.

      "It's wrong" - no, it's well understood and financially sound.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        "It's wrong" - no, it's well understood and financially sound.

        The EPA does two things, both of which sound good but are extremely hard to put a dollar value on so saying it's financially sound sounds very categorical. The first is protecting the macro-environment from pollution like NOX (acid rain), CFCs (ozone layer depletion), DDT (cancer) and various other toxins. Potentially huge impacts, but also vastly complicated models riddled with uncertainty in both effects and consequence. Like for example CO2 emissions and AGW, could you put a dollar value per ton? I mean

    • by Megane ( 129182 )
      When they originally announced the SLS and Orion, they were planning to shut down ISS to pay for it. At the same time, ISS was going to be its main destination.
  • $10B? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Monday July 20, 2015 @10:20PM (#50149805) Homepage Journal
    That's a lane widening of a major Interstate passing through a couple of large cities. It's peanuts. I'd rather do Mars, but if we can get back to the moon on that kind of budget...
    • by jez9999 ( 618189 )

      Why would you rather do Mars? Seriously, what is a manned Mars mission gonna get us?

      We already know plenty about Mars, owing to all the probes we've send (and are sending) there. At least two things interest me more than having a one-off manned mission to Mars right now: a space elevator, and a permanent Lunar colony. One would make sending stuff into space drastically cheaper, and the other would begin the permanent expansion of the human race to other worlds (which is just cool in itself IMHO). But a

  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Monday July 20, 2015 @10:27PM (#50149837)

    Thus, it would really cost $30Bn.

    • still pennies compared to the waste in medicaid and social security, not to mention EBT and lets not even talk what illegal immigration costs us

      do the math on those few that i listed, dont even count the ones i didnt like the dept of ed, and if it is more than 30 b, give it to nasa
      • Re:NASA says $10Bn (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ooshna ( 1654125 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2015 @12:05AM (#50150225)

        Yes but you forgot the biggest waste of American tax payer money defense. There is no justifiable threat to the amount of money we have spent on the defense theater since 9/11. If you pumped 10% of what was put into the Department of Defense into NASA over those years who knows the breakthroughs and missions that could have happened.

      • by dave420 ( 699308 )
        So you'd just give $30bn to NASA if the other agencies/programs wasted that much or more? What's that going to achieve - now you're $60bn in the hole and still angry as fuck. Hint: FIX THE SYSTEMS.
  • Going there is not the problem. Staying there is. Just going there would be a colossal waste of time, energy and resources, as it accomplishes nothing. Robotic exploration is far, far cheaper.

    • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

      I propose sending robots first. Once the robots are done constructing a nice moon base and spaceport, we can send some astronauts up to move in to it. (then they can start supervising the Helium-3 mining, the tourists, and of course the low-gravity professional sports)

  • You want to get people on the moon? Easy! Oh, you want them back too? Well...

  • Impressive, if true (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Monday July 20, 2015 @11:04PM (#50150013) Homepage Journal
    In today's dollars, a single Saturn V launch was about $20 billion. So now we are saying we can do it for half of that, including all of the research and development? The entire Apollo project was estimated in 2005 dollars as $170 Billion.
    I would bet it will cost more like $100 billion including research. A single shot could probably be done for $15 billion.
    NASA today doesn't have the budget for this sort of endeavor. In 1966, NASAs budget was $5.2 billion, or in today's dollars, $38.2 billion. Today's actual NASA budget is only $18.3 billion.
    • The Saturn V was intended to beat the Russians there, not necessarily be cost efficient. This type of mission almost certainly is based on using a commerical crew mission and 1 or 2 additional launches of a service module + propulsion module to go there. Once you're in orbit, after all, it only takes something like an extra 800 ms-1 of delta-V to get to the moon (less if you want to get really tricky about it, but with humans speed is a factor too).

      • Once you're in orbit, after all, it only takes something like an extra 800 ms-1 of delta-V to get to the moon (less if you want to get really tricky about it, but with humans speed is a factor too).

        Umm, no.

        DeltaV required to go from LEO to a lunar transition orbit is in the vicinity of 3000 m/s.

        Now, if you want to enter lunar orbit when you get there, you'll need another 1000 m/s or so, depending on height of orbit and other gory details.

        Plus there's the 1200 m/s or so to actually land.

        Those numbers can

    • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      In today's dollars, a single Saturn V launch was about $20 billion.

      Uh, no, it was about $2 billion.

      But I've seen estimates of SLS costs of up to $10 billion, depending on flight rate. So I wouldn't be surprised if launching a Saturn V-sized payload on it ends up costing $20 billion this time.

    • It cost a lot more back then (in relative dollars) because 1) they had never done it before and 2) they didn't have today's technology. We've done it before (though the people involved are all retired or dead, but we still have most of the data), we know how to build better rockets now than we did then, and we have all kinds of other technologies now to keep costs down, whereas back then they had to actually develop lots of new technologies to make it happen. Building rockets and sending people into space

  • Okay, but what happens when you add in the part about people getting back home?

  • Conservatively, let's say we could earn 2.5% annually in real terms (i.e. after inflation) on $10B. That's the rate the economy is projected to grow at long-term. So, $250M/year in perpetuity. That'd fund a lot of basic research, if that's what you're into.

    I'd also feel better about spending $10B on a manned moon mission if the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio wasn't about 70% higher than it was 8 years ago.
  • I doubt that the USA wants China and India to be the first countries to discover whatever riches lie on the moon, or to colonize it first. Competition is not earthbound.
  • Water on the moon is a non-renewable resource. The rest of the world is likely to say "Hey, that belongs to all of us, not just to the nation who first has the technology to extract it."

    The article says "Although NASA paid for the $100,000 report it is unlikely to immediately embrace its conclusions." $100,000 is perhaps half an engineer-year of analysis. It may be a good start, but I'd want to be a whole lot more thorough before deciding how to spend tens of billions of dollars.

    • That isn't just idle speculation either. In the last week or two I was listening to an astronomy podcast about the future of space science. They featured an ethicist who brought up just these points when talking about the proposed asteroid mining companies. He posited as a-priori truth that all of the asteroids belonged to all mankind and no country or company could claim any property rights in space. He had worked out an outline of a licensing scheme to allow some limited exploitation of resources - wi

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2015 @07:22AM (#50151213)

    It's been asked time and again. Why? I mean, we've been there already. We learned that the moon ain't made of cheese and there's also none of that moon-gold lying about that some were hoping for. It's not made of silver as so many alchemists dreamed and it's barely sensible as a staging area for further exploration of the solar system, which would again raise the "why bother" question.

    And I have to agree, there is really little, if anything, to be gained directly from going there. Or even establishing a more or less permanent residency on it. Pretty much anything we could probably do there we can already do on the ISS, some of it better (due to microgravity instead of the lower-than-earth gravity of the moon) some worse (since the moon is less affected by Earth's magnetosphere and hence some solar readings could be done better), but in general there are only a few things we can't already do on the ISS.

    So why?

    The benefits are actually outside the "mundane" fact of us going there. The moon is more a means to an end. One, more tangible, benefit that was already mentioned is that we have seen in the 60s how necessity is the mother of inventions, and how the US wanting to go to the moon caused a lot of rapid development in areas affected by that goal. Rocketry, propulsion, metallurgy, computing, electrical engineering. The list is long and diverse. The US remained on the pinnacle of the world's technology for nearly two decades, mostly due to the advantage it had from this program.

    Another, often overlooked but in my opinion at the very least as important, if not even more important, effect was intangible and hard to grasp. It gave the US a huge boost in cohesion internally and status internationally. You may remember that this time of the moonshot was a rather tumultuous time for the US, and the world in general. The 1960s were certainly a decade that could have shook the nation apart. Kennedy assassinated. The civil rights movement fighting for the rights of the black population, with MLK shot as well. And let's not forget about the Vietnam war. Yet when you ask people, no matter the creed, color or origin, they will think back of the 1960s not as a decade of strife and turmoil, but as a great decade where everyone was thinking of great things, where anything was considered possible and where everyone thought that they can make it. After all, hey, if they can land a man on the moon, I can (insert goal in life here).

    And we sorely lack this today.

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