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President Trump Is Sending NASA Back To The Moon ( 307

President Trump has formally told NASA to send U.S. astronauts back to the moon. From a report: "The directive I'm signing today will refocus America's space program on human exploration and discovery," he said. Standing at the president's side as he signed "Space Policy Directive 1" on Monday was Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt, one of the last two humans to ever walk on the moon, in a mission that took place 45 years ago this week. Since that time, no human has ventured out beyond low-Earth orbit. NASA doesn't even have its own space vehicle, having retired the space shuttles in 2011. Americans currently ride up to the international space station in Russian capsules, though private space taxis are expected to start ferrying them up as soon as next year.
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President Trump Is Sending NASA Back To The Moon

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  • by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Monday December 11, 2017 @05:21PM (#55719197)

    So with his proposed cut to NASA of 30% how exactly does he expect to fund ANY human space travel? They can barely fund robotic exploration at the current funding levels.

    • by p4nther2004 ( 1171621 ) on Monday December 11, 2017 @05:23PM (#55719231)

      He's going to get Mexico to pay for it!

      and it's going to be YUGE!

      • by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Monday December 11, 2017 @05:42PM (#55719415)

        We don't need to be shooting people through space in tin cans.

        At this point we have three options.

        1. Continue pissing in the wind with half funded programs, then cancelling them partway through.
        2. Go Full Robotic.
        3. Build an for real spaceship.

        I vote #3

        A For Real Spaceship is...

        1. Multi megawatt reactor for power.
        2. Magnetic shielding.
        3. Rotating living and working section for artificial gravity
        4. Complete closed loop environmental system.
        5. Non-chemical engines.

        I would also throw in a descent and ascent module, but they can be added later since they will required chemical rockets regardless.

        Every one of these required technologies (except 3...a NASA engineer told me they've done it already) would spur innovation on the same level as the Apollo program. When complete, we could then jump in and go where we want...among the moon and Mars at least.

        • by zlives ( 2009072 )

          option 4. Bang zoom, straight to the moon.
          I am sure the budget cuts accurately reflect this methodology.

        • by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Monday December 11, 2017 @05:51PM (#55719489)

          5: You've been watching too much sci fi

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Non chemical engines work just fine. The environmentalists don't like radioactive exhaust.

          • by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Monday December 11, 2017 @06:04PM (#55719599)

            Well, on the one hand, that's the entire point of this kind of endeavor, no? Take Sci Fi and turn it into reality? That's happened pretty much with Apollo.

            On the other hand, Ion engines are a thing. Experimental, but functional. Still on a shoestring budget. So I expect those could really be ramped up with 50 megawatts of power available.

            • ion engines still require "fuel". You need a big tank of something that's going to be ejected out the back of your space craft
              Most of them use xenon gas as the propulsion medium. All the electricity does it accelerate the gas to produce thrust.

          • Because Sci-Fi got it RIGHT!
          • by superdave80 ( 1226592 ) on Monday December 11, 2017 @06:34PM (#55719843)
            Yeah, it's not like NASA could ever develop something like an ion engine []
        • That's an awful lot of money to spend on something we'll just park in the slow zone until the Free Navy decides to take it over.
        • by Zorro ( 15797 )


          Diameter: 10.55 meters (34.6 ft)
          Length: 43.69 meters (143.3 ft)
          Mass empty: 34,019 kilograms (74,999 lb)
          Mass full: 178,321 kilograms (393,131 lb)
          Thrust (vacuum): 333.6 kN (75,000 lbf)
          ISP (vacuum): 850 seconds (8.3 km/s)
          ISP (sea level): 380 seconds (3.7 km/s)
          Burn Time: 1,200 s
          Propellants: LH2
          Engines: 1 Nerva-2

      • Simple.

        He's going to get Mexico to pay for it!

        and it's going to be YUGE!

        That is a nice idea and your president is free to go down south and ask them but something tells me that the closest he'll ever get to a Mexican funded trip to the moon is a phalanx of Mexicans mooning him with the words 'Ni un peso!' written in YUGE! letters across their backsides.

      • by murdocj ( 543661 )

        Don't be silly... he going to get the Lunarians to pay for it. And every time the Lunarians say no, the rocket gets 10X YUGER!

    • The key is to replace NASA utterly with Virgin Spaceways. $400,000,000 will buy you and the sweetie of your choice the ultimate honeyMOON suite- in a bubble on the moon. With five star chef inspired microwavable meals and enough champagne to keep you drunk from liftoff to splashdown.

    • by pots ( 5047349 ) on Monday December 11, 2017 @05:55PM (#55719533)
      This is simple: cut everything that NASA does that Trump can't put his name on.

      If humans go back to the moon, Trump can take the credit for it and people will cheer. If NASA does some critical atmospheric research that no one pays attention to, does it really matter? How critical could it be if it doesn't fit into 140 characters?
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        This. These programmes take a decade or more to come to fruition. President's last at most 8 years, although didn't Trump say he would only do 4? Anyway, too long for the current administration to take credit.

    • by Dishevel ( 1105119 ) on Monday December 11, 2017 @06:32PM (#55719827)
      Maybe they could take funds from the part of NASA that was supposed to make Muslims feel better?
    • You think Trump cares about NASA's science mission? They'll find the money to go to the moon by scrapping all science and all robotic missions, no problem, it's actually a great plan to help ensure there's less data about climate change in the future.

  • Just send them to the moon!
  • Americans currently ride up to the international space station in Russian capsules

    I keep wondering why this is the case. Don't we have the technology to ferry folks to the ISS? I guess we do but why do we rely on the Russians?

    • by jwhyche ( 6192 ) on Monday December 11, 2017 @05:36PM (#55719351) Homepage

      Can't blame this one on Trump. This is the result of the last two idiots in office that decided to cancel the space shuttle program before we had a working replacement. Not that the shuttle was a shining example of success ether. But cancelling it before we had a working replacement was a stupid in a special order of magnitude.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        But cancelling it before we had a working replacement was a stupid in a special order of magnitude.

        Because continuing to use a system that has a proven 1.5% chance of killing everyone board is brilliant?

        • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

          Because continuing to use a system that has a proven 1.5% chance of killing everyone board is brilliant?

          Compared to what we currently have now, which is nothing, yes. Even with a 1.5% failure rate there was still plenty of volunteers that would gladly use the system. If they never launched another space shuttle again scrapping the whole system was plain stupid before we had a working system to replace it. They should have mothballed the fleet instead of scrapping it.

          By scrapping the space shuttle those two morons put us completely at the mercy of a foreign power for at least two decades for manned acces

    • by taustin ( 171655 ) on Monday December 11, 2017 @05:42PM (#55719411) Homepage Journal

      The process of getting a human-rating certification takes years, and involves quite a few test launches, of both the rocket and the crew capsule. SpaceX is very close to meeting the requirements, and I believe at least one other private launch company is as well.

      The Russians haven't designed a new rocket in many years. Their rockets already have the necessary certification for legal launches.

      It's a political process, but one rooted in fatal failures in NASA's history.

      • by Strider- ( 39683 ) on Monday December 11, 2017 @06:18PM (#55719723)

        I always thought that a rocket wasn't human-rated until the paperwork and documentation for the rocket weighed more than the wet mass of the rocket itself...

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        The process of getting a human-rating certification takes years, and involves quite a few test launches, of both the rocket and the crew capsule. SpaceX is very close to meeting the requirements, and I believe at least one other private launch company is as well.

        And it should be noted - increasingly difficult certification. They're not launching by Space Shuttle standards, to get a new launch system approved they have to be three times safer than the shuttle at least on paper. That said, I think a lot of it is red tape because the SLS will allegedly be crewed on its third launch and the first in a Crew 1B configuration and I really doubt you can make that sort of guarantee on so little data.

        • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

          Difficult yes (the move back to capsule-on-top style launch vehicles with in-flight abort capabilities certainly helps a ton), but SpaceX will have spent far less money getting the Falcon 9 human-rated than the cost of vehicles such as the shuttle or SLS.

    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )
      and to think on 50th anniversary of the Soyuz (though first flight was not good, it killed their best cosmonaut) it is not certain when a rocket/spacecraft made and launched from US will happen. It is always next year or two (for how many past years? I've lost count). Imagine a half a century ago if someone were to say "those capitalists stooges will be buying rides on our rocket because they're too cheap to build their own." (heh, but we send them dollars).
  • by mcmonkey ( 96054 ) on Monday December 11, 2017 @05:39PM (#55719375) Homepage

    Saying something is not the same as doing.

    If the president wants NASA to send men to the moon, stop signing directives and sign a check instead.

    Also, veto the tax plan (if it ever reaches your desk) which would increase the cost of graduate studies that produce that sorts of scientists and engineers who put people on the moon.

    • by Megane ( 129182 )

      stop signing directives and sign a check instead.

      That's something only Congress can do, and as we all know, they are the opposite of Progress. They are the real problem with NASA funding. All the President can do is provide a goal so that Congress can fight over which districts get the pork that makes the goal happen.

  • There is real value in the resources of our moon []. Staking a claim to those resources could be a bargaining chip even if there is no real value extracted. It isn't hard to see the value. For example if there was an island in the middle of the pacific that no government had laid claim to and was later found to contain 10 billion units of natural resources but would take 1 billion units of resources to extract. Anyone with the capacity to start the process of investigation or

    • But if, for a far more realistic example, the island had 1 billion units of resources that cost 10 billion units to extract then "staking a claim" would accomplish nothing, except possibly as the basis of a scam to sell worthless shares in the venture.

      • Actually, you'll find companies are very interested in staking a claim to an island that has 1 billion units of oil reserves that cost 10 billion units to extract with current prices and technology. Hold the island for a while and it can make you a fortune when commodity prices go up or extraction prices come down.

    • The actual article linked to, and the original paper do not support the claim there is "real value in the resources of our moon". In fact the real situation is summed up by "..the overall case for any future payoff from exploiting the moon's resources has yet to be made, Crawford said." In other words, there is of yet no evidence of real value in the resources of the Moon. In his paper Crawford state flat out that he is not proposing looking for resources to use here on Earth. In other words these are resou

      • by Megane ( 129182 )

        And that is exactly the one thing that a moon base will be good for. It won't be good as a "stepping stone to Mars", because it's still in a gravity well. It won't be good as practice for living on Mars, because it's a quite different environment (vacuum and nasty dust vs thin atmosphere and nasty phosphates; the only common part is habitats and radiation shielding).

        We need to go there to see what is up there, other than basalt regolith, that would be worth sending more people to bring it back. Even (as th

    • Well, extracting ores from the moon is lucrative, but it is expensive getting them out of the moon's gravitational well. It probably will be more economical to mine the asteroids instead. Yes, there are probably international treaties preventing this currently, but I doubt that they are enforceable, compared to the economical motivation of pursing them.
  • by nealric ( 3647765 ) on Monday December 11, 2017 @05:49PM (#55719459)

    Until there is an actual, specific, and funded plan, all Trump is doing is shooting his mouth off again.

    • I remember Obama, and before him Bush II saying the exact same things.

      Going to reinvigorate the space program.

      Going to Mars.

      Signing that order. ...and NOTHING.

      It's not just that Trump's full of shit, they ALL are.

    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )

      Yep. Until they start BUILDING and FLYING hardware like a transfer stage and a lander. Also need EVA suits, ability to communicate a quarter million miles away, and God knows what else. Otherwise this is typical, new president trashes the previous plans and introduces a new plan.

      In meantime begin with a lander/rover mission to both poles as the first steps in a return to the Moon, http://www.spudislunarresource... []

  • Just A Photo Op (Score:3, Insightful)

    by crunchygranola ( 1954152 ) on Monday December 11, 2017 @05:56PM (#55719545)

    Sigh. Just a meaningless photo op, and a standard Trump boastful proclamation.

    We aren't just going to the Moon, we are going to Mars and "many worlds beyond"!

    There is no actual plan, or action involved here. No funding for the big words.

    BTW - how is GHW Bush's Space Exploration Initiative going? Are we on Mars yet?

    This announcement at least had some actual plans associated with it:

    • Space Station Freedom
    • Common Lunar Lander
    • First Lunar Outpost

    Ah, remember when we accomplished those national milestones?


    Of course not a single one of these actually got any funding to even begin actual work on the component of the plan.

    • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

      NASA spent billions on Space Station Freedom before the program evolved into the International Space Station: it's not like it just disappeared.

    • by Trogre ( 513942 )

      In his 1989 book Dave Barry Slept Here, the author predicts Mars will be renamed Planet Trump some time in the future.

      I'm sure it was meant to be satire at the time, but it's looking much less absurd today.


  • Most of NASAs is eaten up by paychecks. Cut the number of admin people by 2/3rd and voila you have a enough budget surplus for all manner of space missions.

    Better yet. Cut welfare/social spending at the Federal level by 1% and you can add another $23Billion dollars to NASA's anemic $17B budget.
    • Or even better, cut military spending to something slightly less insane.

      • This.

        Stop the spiraling and unproductive costs of war and reroute that to the spiraling and unproductive costs of going to the Moon.

        We'll save money by not spending money on not helping veterans.

        • I have always argued we could do away with most of the military and replace it with an orbital bombardment system that is funded out of well funded a space program. A few thousand GPS guided kinetic weapons (think something the size of a bowling ball in space) and you no longer have to scramble jets or deploy troops. They could hit anywhere on Earth in under 50 minutes and there would be little to no defense against them.
      • Especially since, unlike most "welfare/social" spending, the military budget isn't made up of mostly mandated expenditures.

        But no - let's cut grandma and grandpa's Social Security and Medicare benefits. Those old folks are living high on the government-sponsored hog.

        • I always love the guilt trip argument. They are just kindly old people you heartless bastard!!

          Look around you. All those average fucktards you encounter day to day that make life just a little more miserable. Those same people will be old people one day and you will have to pay for them. That being said grandma and grandpa were those same people 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago. Except they have you tricked in thinking that you owe them something.

          Maybe they should have had kids to take care of the
      • Sounds good. Cut military ten percent and you get $60 Billion dollars.

        Let's also cut social program/welfare spending 10% at the Federal level and we can add another $230 Billion dollars to that pile.

        Round up NASA to a nice even $100 Billion and pocket the rest as savings.
    • The esteemed Republicans just passed a 1.5 trillion dollar tax cut.

      Who cares about 23 billion here or 17 billion there? You're talking about pennies.

  • by mnemotronic ( 586021 ) <> on Monday December 11, 2017 @06:09PM (#55719637) Homepage Journal
    I wanted to get a feeling for speaking style and vision.

    JKF, 12-Sep-1962:

    We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say that we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.

    There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again. But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic?

    We choose to go to the Moon! ... We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win ...

    Trump, 11-Dec-2017:

    The directive I’m signing today will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery. It marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972 for long-term exploration and use. This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint, we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars and perhaps, someday, to many worlds beyond. This directive will ensure America’s space program once again leads and inspires all of humanity.

    Beyond the basics, Kennedy had to request that Congress provide the funds and, as such, had to play preacher, cheerleader and salesman to make it happen. Trump seems less sensitive to the intricacies of politics, back-scratching and making deals; more of "I'm own this company. Do what I say".

    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )

      And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic?

      you left out "why does Rice play Texas?"

  • Just, Why?

    There's nothing on the moon of value, and nothing to be gained from redeveloping the technologies for going there. Helium-3 is said to be in abundance - but for the hundreds of billions of dollars it'll take to get the first kilogram back to earth (not including the money necessary to build the fusion reactors to use it) we could cover Arizona in solar cells and power North America.

    There are likely the same kinds of rare metals on the Moon as on Earth - without, of course, the problem of 200,000

    • having 10,000 tons of gold dropped on Earth won't enable anything that we can't do today with the gold we already have.

      Gold is an extremely efficient electrical conductor. What if it was plentiful enough that power lines were made of the stuff...

      • Gold sucks as a conductor, in comparison to silver and copper. Both of which are considerably lower cost AND lighter than gold. Gold does not oxidize, however - and that makes it valuable as a plating for connectors. It still has good conductivity, but does not build oxide layers which reduce the contact conductivity.
        • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

          Gold isn't much better than aluminum, which won't oxidize after the outer layer (so bad for connectors, good for conductors). Better to make conductors out of copper or aluminum and gold plate the connectors.

  • Somebody on FOX reported that the moon landings were faked; so now Trump doesn't believe they happened and thinks really landing a man on the moon will cement his place in history.

  • So he thinks he can anulate all 'laws' of Obama.
    So he thinks no one is anulating his 'laws'.
    So bright!

  • If NASA put the $4B/yr they currently spend on the SLS into a fixed contract to SpaceX to develop the BFR [] they could have a base on the moon within 10 years. It may be wishful thinking that the US would abandon SLS after all the money that has been sunk into it but eventually someone will notice that a lot of money is being spent on a system that can only launch every two years.

BLISS is ignorance.