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The Apollo moon landings: is it time for a sequel?

By joegee in MLP
Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 04:19:22 PM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)
Science

Space.com reporter Leonard David writes in his article Rallying for a Return to the Moon that attendees of July's "Return to the Moon III" conference discussed many strategies to encourage public and private ventures involving our conveniently placed natural satellite.

Many attendees at the conference see Luna as a logical stepping stone between the ISS and a manned mission to Mars. Attendees advocate the development of the moon's resources for research, industry, and tourism. Do K5 readers believe the moon plays a significant role in space exploration over the next twenty years?


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Poll
Who will be the next people on the moon?
o Taikonauts from the Peoples' Republic of China 20%
o Astronauts from NASA 3%
o Astronauts from the ESA 3%
o Astronauts from NASDA (Japanese Space Agency) 9%
o An international group of astronauts 11%
o Civilian workers from global megacorporations out to rape the natural beauty of the moon for their Heinous Purposes. 38%
o What do you mean the -next- people on the moon?! We've never been there! 12%

Votes: 62
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Space.com
o Rallying for a Return to the Moon
o Also by joegee


Display: Sort:
The Apollo moon landings: is it time for a sequel? | 57 comments (57 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
What's it good for? (2.22 / 9) (#1)
by MicroBerto on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 02:32:09 PM EST

I'm all for science and research, but if you ask me, I see absolutely no reason for a moonwalk. Maybe it's fun for a bunch of enthusiasts, engineers, and astronauts, but to me, it does absolutely nothing. This can be applied to many of our space programs. Sure, they're interesting and gain us knowledge -- but what use have many of them truly yielded?

If it were my choice between having 5 more dollars in my pocket vs. having NASA go to the moon, I'll gladly take my 5 dollars and go to lunch.

Berto
- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip

Of what practical use is an infant? (4.14 / 7) (#3)
by wiredog on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 02:41:44 PM EST

Think about it.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]
Proportions (3.00 / 3) (#6)
by MicroBerto on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 03:08:17 PM EST

Infants don't normally require massive governmentally sponsored programs to come to life and yield new things either. Usually the parents just take care of their children themselves.

Yes, I am hinting at privatization.

Berto
- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip
[ Parent ]

Where do you live? (4.71 / 7) (#13)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 03:26:51 PM EST

Where I live, we pay US $7,000 per year per child to educate them in public schools.

I won't even start on ADC, food stamps, head start, or public funding of health care for those without insurance.

Regards,

Lee

[ Parent ]

valuable new technology (1.00 / 3) (#7)
by dr k on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 03:10:16 PM EST

The space race gave us dozens of valuable new technologies, like...

uh...

Tang!
Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

Go to a hospital (none / 0) (#33)
by wiredog on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 08:09:20 AM EST

Look around. Especially in the ER and ICU.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]
What ISN'T it good for (4.60 / 5) (#14)
by jayhawk88 on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 03:33:21 PM EST

I'm sure many Europeans around the 1600's would have rather had 5 more loaves of bread than see their king send explorers over to the New World as well. They eventually benefited from said expeditions nonetheless.

It never ceases to amaze me how short-sighted we as a country have become when it comes to space exploration. Eventually, man will have to leave this planet and colonize elsewhere to survive. That's not science fiction, nor is it speculation or conjecture: it's fact. It will either happen sooner, when our population is out of control or we've made the planet unlivable, or later, when our sun starts swallowing up Mercury and Venus. To say nothing about an unforseen disaster like a mile-wide meteor strike.

Off-world habitation is a difficult concept, both in idea and practice. Doesn't it make sense, though, to start now, when we can take it slow and easy, learning as we go along? Or would you rather wait until that killer asteroid is 6 months from impact, and Bruce Willis is no where to be found?

Hyperbole aside, we've only just begun to realize the benefits possible from continued space exploration. Obviously, astronomy would be the biggest beneficiary. Our knowledge of the universe would probably increase exponentially with a moon-based observatory. Certain types of manufacturing and research would benefit from low-g environments. Simply the effort of constructing such a large project would undoubtedly lead to many new discoveries and inventions.

Saying we shouldn't explore space before we solve all our problems here on Earth is like saying you shouldn't go to college before you can afford to pay for it fully. From a theoretical standpoint, it's a true statement: you avoid going into debt, and it makes getting through college that much easier. Sometimes, however, the time and effort spent saving all that money (solving all the Earth's problems) end up hurting you more than helping you in the long run.

Why, then, should we grant government the Orwellian capability to listen at will and in real time to our communications across the Web? -- John Ashcroft
[ Parent ]
exploration and human movement (4.00 / 2) (#22)
by eudas on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 12:13:04 AM EST

Or, to quote Jerry Pournelle, 'for all but a short period of our history, the word 'ship' will mean 'spaceship''.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]
A modest proposal (none / 0) (#39)
by spring on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 10:05:34 AM EST

Off-world habitation is a difficult concept, both in idea and practice. Doesn't it make sense, though, to start now, when we can take it slow and easy, learning as we go along? Or would you rather wait until that killer asteroid is 6 months from impact, and Bruce Willis is no where to be found?
Our course is clear. We must freeze Bruce Willis immediately to protect Earth against future killer asteroids.

"Sorry, Bruce. We have to freeze you. It's for the good of all mankind."

"Damn. I should have stuck with Moonlighting. That was a good gig."

"Quit complaining. You're gonna be a hero, boy. Now get your ass in that tank of liquid nitrogen. It's almost lunchtime, and I still have to freeze Harrison Ford in case terrorists take over Air Force One."

[ Parent ]

ok (none / 0) (#41)
by MicroBerto on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 11:13:09 AM EST

OK everyone is right and I am wrong.

However, I still insist that taxpayer money isn't necessary to pay for this. What is so wrong about investment and privatization of space, if it has such potential?

Berto
- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip
[ Parent ]

But (none / 0) (#43)
by wiredog on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 11:39:53 AM EST

That's not what you said. Maybe you left out a sentence? The one about privatization? Lots of people here support privatization of space, UN treaties be damned. If only we can get the US gov't out of the way.

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
Phage
[ Parent ]

One problem (4.00 / 2) (#49)
by physicsgod on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 06:14:22 PM EST

It takes a lot of energy to get anything of appreciable mass into orbit, and for it to make economic sense that energy has to be in a rather compact form, yet easy to liberate. There's a four letter word for something that can liberate large amounts of energy for its size: Bomb.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Project Orion (none / 0) (#57)
by wiredog on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 09:42:25 AM EST

Is a proposed interplanetary/interstallar drive for large ships using nukes for propulshion. It's also a workable metheod of lifting a battleship into orbit. Niven and Pournelle used it in "Footfall".

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]
What's Next To The Moon? (none / 0) (#45)
by titivillus on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 12:43:36 PM EST

Saying we shouldn't explore space before we solve all our problems here on Earth is like saying you shouldn't go to college before you can afford to pay for it fully. From a theoretical standpoint, it's a true statement: you avoid going into debt, and it makes getting through college that much easier. Sometimes, however, the time and effort spent saving all that money (solving all the Earth's problems) end up hurting you more than helping you in the long run.
Sure, but what does that have to do with the Moon?

Mars has an atmosphere including things we can use to make rocket fuel, so we don't have to pack return fuel. The Moon has rocks.

Mars has the question of alien life that on-the-spot searching could have some bearing on. The Moon has rocks.

Mars has the possibility of water, meaning potential sustainable human life. The Moon has rocks.

Mars has an atmosphere, meaning it has something between the observer and the lights of the sky, which means problems for astronomy. Score one for the Moon, but also score several hundred for Hubble, which does about the same without forcing astronomers to have to miss any meals with their families by riding a rocket to a rock.

I believe that eventually we'll return to the moon. I also believe that there's not enough there for us to make it a high priority for us to be there.



[ Parent ]
Moon-bases for launches (4.00 / 1) (#48)
by jayhawk88 on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 05:12:38 PM EST

As other's have pointed out in this discussion, a functional moon-base would make launches laughably easy and cheap, at least compared to launches from the Earth.

Also, building a base on the moon would give us that much experience in building one on Mars. It's closer, so would be cheaper and easier. Plus give us valuable experience doing major construction off-world.

Why, then, should we grant government the Orwellian capability to listen at will and in real time to our communications across the Web? -- John Ashcroft
[ Parent ]
Launches? (none / 0) (#55)
by titivillus on Thu Aug 23, 2001 at 01:30:18 PM EST

As other's have pointed out in this discussion, a functional moon-base would make launches laughably easy and cheap, at least compared to launches from the Earth.
OK, we're going to have to launch the astronauts, fuel, food, and air from Earth anyway. Launching from the Moon is laughably easier than launching from the Earth, but launching from an orbiting dry-dock would be far easier still. And if you're going to leave Earth orbit, go to Mars, enter Mars orbit, drop landers, wait, receive landers, leave orbit and go home, there's not much reason for your vehicle to be able to withstand launch from/landing in a gravity well, and reducing that hardening should cut costs, time and all sorts of good stuff. So, it takes greater time and fuel, requires unnecessary toughness and aerodynamics (and landing pads), and if there's a problem, help is at best 3 days away. So, what's the benefit of building on the Moon again? I must have missed it.

Also, building a base on the moon would give us that much experience in building one on Mars. It's closer, so would be cheaper and easier. Plus give us valuable experience doing major construction off-world.
We already know how to build things under gravity. We have that here. If you want to test for leaks and such, do it in a big pool like they practice for spacewalks. If you build it right, you can go in the airlock and find air. If not, well, take it apart and start again. It's building in space that's tricky.



[ Parent ]
The Moon's Uselessness: A Ridiculous Liberal Myth (3.91 / 12) (#2)
by DesiredUsername on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 02:37:07 PM EST

Anybody who's read "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" knows how vital the moon is to space exploration. Getting lifting stuff off the Earth is hard--doing it from the moon is easy. But that presupposes the stuff starts on the moon. What we should be doing is building a moon base where we can manufacture further ships, satellites, etc from raw materials found on the moon. Then launch them from THERE. This is also safer for radioactive payloads.

Then there's the astronomical and military aspects. A moon base would be a godsend but nobody's going to foot the bill...

Play 囲碁
Moonies (3.20 / 5) (#18)
by treetops on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 04:18:18 PM EST

Anybody who's read "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" knows how vital the moon is to space exploration.

Yeah, but only so long as those who populate it are registered members of the Libertarian Party.

Otherwise, they might be tempted to give away free lunches, and that would ruin everything.

From age twelve I always wanted to be a Heinlein character when I grew up. - ESR

p.s. sci-fi is for weenies
--tt
[ Parent ]

Re:The Moon's Uselessness: A Ridiculous Liberal My (none / 0) (#24)
by AArthur on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 01:00:18 AM EST

I think space research is an area we should spend more money on (which, being a hardcore liberal luntic, I would suggest come out of defense program cut backs).

The moon and space offer so much, in the public interest, if we work to utilize them fairly for everyone in the world.

We will never know what Mars, the Moon or outer space has to offer for us, if we never go up their and study them.

Yes, and the moon certainly has defense possibilies, but things in the public interest should come first -- like new technology.

I absolutely support the US goverment sponsering arts, technology, and science development, if and only if it goes into the public domain (or it's benifits are avalible to all to enjoy). I don't support the giving away of US money to corporations to fund their own research money -- public money, should stay public. Some of the world's best science and artwork is avaliable to all, no matter if you are rich or poor.

Andrew B. Arthur | aarthur@imaclinux.net | http://hvcc.edu/~aa310264
[ Parent ]

Liberal vs Conservative (3.00 / 1) (#35)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 08:24:19 AM EST

The subject line of my previous comment was a reference to a well-known troll made on Slashdot a long time ago. I don't really count myself as either a liberal or conservative--I have views that come from each (stereotypical) camp. In particular, I agree with you: we should cut "Defense" by some small percentage (say, less than 10%) and give the proceeds to the Depts of Education and Science.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Dept. of Science? (3.00 / 1) (#42)
by titivillus on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 11:15:12 AM EST

We don't have a cabinet-level Department of Science in the US. We do have cabinet-level Department that backs a lot of research and pays the bills of an awful lot of scientists. It's the Department of Defense. The same Department of Defense that Senator and former Vice-Presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman says we aren't giving enough money to.

[ Parent ]
To The Moon, Alice! (4.00 / 2) (#44)
by titivillus on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 12:16:04 PM EST

The problem of getting stuff to the moon was big, and they had four ideas as to get everything they wanted up there, then everything they wanted back:

  • Big ol' rocket going up there, landing, taking off again, which wouldn't work because it'd take a rocket that makes Saturn 5 look like a bottle rocket, and landing a Saturn 5 and taking off again is a dicey situation.
  • Sending everything up in pieces, assembling it and sending it the moon. You have the issues of landing and taking off a big rocket from the moon, plus having to build the infrastructure in space to build things.
  • Assembling everything in space, then sending it all to the moon, where there's a command ship that has the power to get back to Earth and a landing ship that has the power to get back to orbit after landing. The problem here is that it takes infrastructure to build in space, and NASA was working under a hard deadline ("Before this decade is out...").
  • Big rocket on Earth, command module and lander around Moon. You may recognize this.

Amongst the reasons why the moon missions stopped is that each time they went to the moon, they had to have it all together here, while if they had built the infrastructure, it'd require occasional smaller rockets getting raw materials up to orbit, get them assembled, and start moving back and forth. If something is just going between two orbits (the moon's and the earth's, for example), it doesn't have to be built to withstand the same sort of tolerences it'd need to enter a gravity well or an atmosphere. As a metaphor, we take a bus to the airport/orbit, take an airplane/dedicated space-bound craft to the destination, then take another bus to the surface/hotel/whatever. This is an infrastructure for continuing transportation.

So, we have the moon. Does it have raw materials that we could use to make rocket fuel? Rockets? Anything like that? Not so much. It has gravity, but if we're making the crafts that take us to Mars, they're going to have a big craft staying in orbit and individual landers. (Zubrin has greater plans for all this, and if you want details, check here.) If we're going to do this, why build it in a place where it'll have to take off? Build it in an orbiting drydock. If we're going to have to ship up every atom going into the thing, why pack it off to the moon when it is cheaper and easier to bump it to orbit. We can take substantial payloads into space. We're getting to the point where we can build things in space. (Not there yet; ISS is built on Earth, then stuck together like a Habitrail in orbit, which I'd bet is how we put together the first ship we send to Mars.)

Beyond that, there are a lot of questions we have about the trip. It'll take 2 years to get there, and two years to get back. During that time, there is nothing we can do for them to help. If we send people to land on Mars, is there any way we can have them land there without being too weakened by microgravity to even stand? Is there any way to be sure that this group of people, the cream of the crop of their various fields, won't be driven by whatever to want to kill each other or themselves by the time they get there? Speaking of crops, how do we feed 'em? 5 years of turkey in a tube isn't healthy, and is likely considered cruel and unusual punishment. And can we get 5-year lifespans out of what we put together out there? Mir had a lifespan much longer than anyone in Star City ever thought it could have. The way to answer these questions is by orbiting people, as they need to be in microgravity for this. And in near-earth orbit, if they need to bail, they're a controlled fall away from home.

[Suggesting that the space program in it's classic formation, Mercury->Gemini->Apollo, is anything but an extension of the Cold War, saying that since the US can send rockets to the Moon, any rockets sent to the Kremlin would get there without problem, is incredibly naive. The same with the Olympics, saying "We have this very powerful|fast|strong|agile person who won many gold medals. Therefore, we're better than those guys." This is why the US didn't go to Moscow and the Soviet union didn't go to L.A.]

There are reasons to go back to the moon. The geological study of the moon is incomplete, so while we have all . But really, having the moon be a critical part of any trip to Mars is like having Ketchum, Idaho, be a critical part of every trip between New York and Los Angeles. It's not on the way. There's no good reason for it. Nobody on the trip really wants to go there. Return to the Moon? Sure, but don't excuse Mars on it.



[ Parent ]
Columbus was a Dope (2.00 / 1) (#31)
by wiredog on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 08:07:55 AM EST

Is one of the best SF stories explaining why space exploration is a good thing.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]
Re-ask the question. (3.71 / 7) (#4)
by Faulty Dreamer on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 02:49:13 PM EST

If you said "Do K5 readers think the moon should play a ..." instead of the question you asked, I would answer with a big fat YES! But, the question you asked is more along the lines of "Will it?" It's highly doubtful that it will in the US. At least, not until those nasty foriegners do it first. Then the politicians will be wetting themselves over getting back to the moon.

--------
Faulty Dreams - Barking at the moon 24/7...

If you think I'm an asshole, it's only because you haven't realized what a fucking idiot I am. - Faulty Dreamer

Worthy and interesting but I couldn't support it (3.09 / 11) (#5)
by bc on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 02:54:28 PM EST

Whilst I think Space Exploration is a good idea long term, I really can't in all conscience support it at this time, because it is wrong, in my opinion, when so much of the world is in such a mess, to gratuitously waste massive resources on an endeavour designed to satisfy the curiosity of a few rich westerners.

It is a moral issue, I just cannot support this.

♥, bc.

Bulldink (3.20 / 5) (#10)
by DesiredUsername on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 03:21:13 PM EST

Would you have said the same to Eli Whitney? "Don't waste so much time and energy building this 'cotton gin' when slavery is rampant!"

But even putting aside the fact that a rising tide lifts all boats, there are practical benefits for the "3rd World" from space money. Satellites provide communication as well as much-needed weather and agricultural information, fabrication techniques provide better tools and materials at a cheaper cost, if we had a space hook or a railgun launching system, equatorial Africa would be just the place to put it--that's a huge influx of money. At the very least giving ivory-tower jobs to some mean that more blue-collar jobs are available for the less-educated.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Eli Whitney (4.00 / 5) (#15)
by Merk00 on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 03:38:00 PM EST

Would you have said the same to Eli Whitney? "Don't waste so much time and energy building this 'cotton gin' when slavery is rampant!"
I'm sure you didn't actually mean to use that example. The cotton gin made slavery affordable. Before, too many slaves were required to grow the cotton and it was becoming uneconomical to own slaves. Later, when the cotton gin was wide spread, there wre fewer slaves required to grow the same amount of cotton and therefore slavery became profitable again. Slavery was on the decline until after the invention of the cotton gin (one of the main reasons the founding father's didn't deal with it; they felt it would die out naturally).

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

No of course not (2.50 / 4) (#16)
by bc on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 03:43:38 PM EST

Would you have said the same to Eli Whitney? "Don't waste so much time and energy building this 'cotton gin' when slavery is rampant!"

No, I wouldn't have. It is immediately obvious that said invention would have a huge impact on slavery, and in addition it didn't require 10% of the GDP of a major western country (like the USA) to produce.

The issue with space exploration is that it is exploration we are talking about. Sure it has side benefits, and the commercial side can take care of itself (like Arianne), but the exploration itself should be honestly treated as such. It has plenty of benefits, in terms of seeking out new knowledge and Man's destiny, but it doesn't benefit all Mankind and there are far more direct ways to help the third world than to hope for some trickle down effect from launching massive space enterprises.

This trickle down effect you speak of would only really work if the space exploration was commercially viable, and it won't be for some time.

It is just a question of morals for me - I would far rather, if we are going to spend money with no real material gain, that it be spent on something that will materially benefit the destitute portions of Mankind, rather than on the spiritual benefit of westerners.

You are right that spending massively on space exploration with bases in Africa would benefit some Africans, but the effect would be somewhat muted compared to what we could acheive with direct spending of what is, in effect, surplus cash.

Also it is a question of scale. I don't mind NASA as it stands so much, but this kind of expansion into space would require a HUGE increase of resources spent on it, and this makes me uncomfortable.

♥, bc.
[ Parent ]

Guess again? (4.66 / 3) (#32)
by Vulch on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 08:09:09 AM EST

it didn't require 10% of the GDP of a major western country (like the USA) to produce.

Would you like to try again with a number based in reality instead of picked out of the air?

For the next financial year NASA has a total budget of 14.6 billion (10^9) dollars. The USA had a GDP of 9.255 trillion (10^12) dollars in 2000. Without making any adjustments for inflation that's only 0.15 percent. Even during the peak of the spending (1966) on the Apollo programme it was only twice as much after adjustment.

Anthony

[ Parent ]

Myth of the Ghetto (4.28 / 7) (#12)
by physicsgod on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 03:26:08 PM EST

How would the poor be helped by virtually unlimited power? Unlimited space for growing food?

People are benefitting from our earlier forays into space, what makes you think this time will be any different?

If there's one thing the last 50 years has taught us, you can't eliminate poverty by throwing money at it. The only way the human condition has been improved is with technological advance.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

This kind of technology doesn't really help (3.00 / 4) (#17)
by bc on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 03:53:36 PM EST

So, there is massive technological inequality at the moment. How has the third world benefited from pacemakers and teflon frying pans? Not a jot. Isn't it about time that we made an investment and brought some of the poorest parts of the world from the stone age (virtually) into at least the 19th century?

As far as they are concerned, it makes no difference if we in the west are flying around in space ships or driving in BMW's. It is all way beyond what they can dream of.

Widening this gap further will not make any effective difference - why not take some direct action?

♥, bc.
[ Parent ]

Catering to the lowest people. (4.40 / 5) (#19)
by theboz on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 04:54:58 PM EST

While I agree that opportunities should be there for people in poverty and third world nations, why should we stop learning because there are poor? There will always be people in poverty. We should give them opportunities to get out of poverty, but we should never lower our own standards in order to bring them up.

Because people in Cambodia may not have penecillin, does that mean that in the western world we should stop using it too? Where is the logic in that? It is sad that people are dying, but giving them money, or even food does not help. Nor is it our responsibility to give them anything, however out of compassion we are able to give some money to the poor while other money goes to making our lives better.

Despite the immense poverty and the wealthy aristocracy in charge of Europe, many explorers from Portugal, England, Holland, France, Spain, etc. all spent the time, effort, and human lives to explore the new world. Originally it wasn't all that good of a deal. When the vikings first set out and discovered North America, they couldn't carry very many days worth of food. However, they still bravely explored and found a new land that they could live in. These people benefitted immensly from exploring the unknown. Despite the evil acts committed by many of the Europeans that later came to the Americas, many good things were accomplished because of exploration.

So in my eyes, we must keep researching and exploring whether it's space, the ocean, medical science, etc. The more we know about our world the more humanity as a whole benefits. Yes, there will always be people left out, and that is bad, but that is no excuse for us to remain in ignorance about space.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Reply (2.66 / 3) (#20)
by bc on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 05:12:09 PM EST

While I agree that opportunities should be there for people in poverty and third world nations, why should we stop learning because there are poor? There will always be people in poverty. We should give them opportunities to get out of poverty, but we should never lower our own standards in order to bring them up.

Depends on your definition of 'standards'. Do you mean material or moral standards, and which is the more important? I would say the latter. Do you not agree that it would raise our moral standards to forgo massive space exploration (the occasional probe and whatever is one thing, but this article is talking about a very large undertaking indeed) in favour of improving the lot of our brother man?

Because people in Cambodia may not have penecillin, does that mean that in the western world we should stop using it too?

Absolutely not, that would be silly, and increase the lot of human suffering. I am just against massive scale space exploration when much else can be done instead. This doesn't mean to say I believe in enforcing absolute equality, or reducing everyone to the same level of misery. Rather, where we have a huge surplus (such as we would need for setting up enormous moon bases, long term manned missions to mars, and so on), we should prioritise to some extent. It is even questionable whether we really have to spend men into space at all, where machine probes can achieve much (and will improve immensely so as to be no worse than men). Of course the question is about destiny and even ego, I just wonder if we are jumping the gun rather at this stage.

So in my eyes, we must keep researching and exploring whether it's space, the ocean, medical science, etc. The more we know about our world the more humanity as a whole benefits. Yes, there will always be people left out, and that is bad, but that is no excuse for us to remain in ignorance about space.

Well, I agree. It is a question of extent though, for me. Huge effort seems morally abominable, just a little is fine (for example, the US spent some idiotic portion of GDP on Apollo - did Mankind really get its money's worth, in the end?).

♥, bc.
[ Parent ]

Hmmmn.... (3.50 / 2) (#26)
by Greyshade on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 01:39:29 AM EST

... in favour of improving the lot of our brother man?

Has it ever occured to you that 'our brother man' may not be at all interested in improvement of self or mankind?

... did Mankind really get its money's worth, in the end?

I'm sure we're getting our money's worth out of the welfare system. (and ironically ties in somewhat with my previous point)



[ Parent ]

Keep reading, (4.66 / 3) (#23)
by physicsgod on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 12:17:31 AM EST

Further into the article (and teflon isn't a byproduct of spaceflight) you get things like:
  1. "The success of safety grooving on runways and highways has spurred a growing industry and a wide range of innovative applications. Grooving has improved pedestrian safety on sidewalks, railroad station platfomms, and swimming pool decks, and in playgrounds, parking lots, service stations, and car washes. Indoor uses include working areas in refineries, factories, warehouses, meat packing facilities, and food processing plants." This not only saves lives, but it makes food cheaper to produce, lowering its cost.
  2. "SSelf-Righting life Raft Saving over 500 lives in the last decade"
  3. "Now operated commercially by the Earth observation Satellite Company, Landsat has provided resource management benefits to thousands of govemment and private sector users worldwide. The remote sensing data serves in such areas as agricultural inventory, oil and mineral prospecting, weather forecasting, charting sources of fresh water, wildlife preservation, air and water pollution monitoring, delineating urban growth pattems, improving map accuracy, and studying floods to reduce the potential for devastation." Governments can now know what mineral resources are available in their countries, allowing them to effeciently develop or sell development.
  4. "The key to surviving a typhoon is getting a head start. When Typhoon Sarah, packing winds of 125 miles per hour, hit the east coast of Taiwan on September 11, 1989, the vital forewarning was provided with the help of the new METPRO Weather Satellite Reception and Processing Ground Station." Weather satellites have saved countless lives from hurricanes and tropical storms.
  5. "Corrosion-Resistant Coating IC531 has demonstrated exceptional performance in single-coat applications" This allows substantial savings on maintaince costs for infrastructure.
  6. "Air/Wastewater Purification Systems Aquaculture<the use of aquatic plants to remove pollutants from wastewater" increasing the potable drinking water amounts. <li>"Plant Research Hydroponics uses liquid nutrient solutions instead of soil to support plant growth" Reducing the costs of food, and providing drought resistance.

I'm going to stop now, but I've only gotten through half the document. Most of these technologies will benefit all of humanity regardless of where they are implemented. Not to mention the spiritual benefits these acheivements will produce, remember man does not live by bread alone.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

big deal (2.50 / 4) (#29)
by eLuddite on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 06:42:01 AM EST

The idea that you have to fund extravagant projects with initially low utility in order to wait for the technology to spin off into humanitarian directions strikes me as a misdirection. After all, if your stated purpose is to help Mankind, why not simply directly fund technological initiatives whose immediate goals are the alleviation of human suffering? According to your logic, military research is similiarly good for humanity. Which brings up another point. Missing from your list of derived, beneficial technologies are those technologies which have found rather ugly, non-humanitarian application.

I'm not saying space research is bad -- it isnt -- but all tech has unforseen applications so if you want to sell the moon over people, dont make post hoc arguments defending your decision as 'humanitarian', find legitimate reasons to send people to the moon.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

But why use SPACE money? (4.00 / 2) (#37)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 08:39:05 AM EST

"...why not simply directly fund technological initiatives whose immediate goals are the alleviation of human suffering?"

I have no objection to funding humanitarian programs. But I DO object to taking money from fundamental and secondary science research to do it. An equally rational argument would be: "Why are Greenpeace and the Sierra Club spending millions saving trees and whales for the sole enjoyment of people with the money and leisure time to enjoy them when there are people starving in [insert poor country here]?"

In fact, the US spends WAY more on "social programs" (many of dubious or even proven counter-productive worth) than it ever has on space. Take some of THAT money to buy food for the hungry.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
space money is budgeted, not preordained (3.00 / 2) (#38)
by eLuddite on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 09:42:35 AM EST

An equally rational argument would be: "Why are Greenpeace and the Sierra Club spending millions saving trees and whales for the sole enjoyment of people with the money and leisure time to enjoy them when there are people starving in [insert poor country here]?"

It is not an equally rational argument because Greenpeace is neither a research agency nor publicly funded. You can ask Greenpeace volunteers where their "millions" are coming from and why they do what they do, but I would challenge why you dont adopt the same line of inquiry with private enterprises such as Microsoft. It would actually be a more appropriate use of your reasoning since Microsoft has a research center which it runs without our personal input. Are you prepared to voice similiar "object[ions] to [their] taking money from fundamental and secondary science research"? Of course not. Finally, there is good reason to fund environmental research and action, namely it is preferable to live on Earth than on the Moon.

In fact, the US spends WAY more on "social programs"

"Social programs" are not research. If we stick to the subject, the US funds military and space research, which I conflate for good reason, to a greater measure than it funds things as banal as medical and agricultural research. Unfortunately, no one in the medical community is eager to post links itemizing the direct and indirect results of their research. I'm sure it would be a page several orders of magnitude larger than NASA's, and would likely include a few items that have made manned space travel a reality.

Take some of THAT [social programs] money to buy food for the hungry.

They do, raising levels of subsistence being the whole point to social programs.

In answer to the question in your subject line, "why use space money", space doesnt have any predetermined amount of money of its own, or any money at all. Funding is policy decision and such decisions arent always taken to appeal to the scientific romanticism. My understanding is that capitalist societies presuppose a rational approach to economic activity :-)

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

extravagance (5.00 / 2) (#50)
by physicsgod on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 09:36:33 PM EST

In this situation is a good thing, most of the things people consider spinoffs of the space program resulted from NASA needing a technology, that while existing didn't have a market. NASA provided the market, which encouraged research into new applications for the technology. Like another poster said with Teflon, it was invented in the 30's, but until the manhattan project needed something that didn't dissolve in hex nobody did anything with it. Once the government started buying the stuff people started looking into other applications.

You want a reason we should go to the moon? Because it's there, I want to go and so do millions (at least) around the world, and if you spend money to let me go it will help you and everyone else who stays behind. Just looking at the historical record shows that the space program has done more to help humanity than most aid programs.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

the alleviation of suffering? (none / 0) (#56)
by _Quinn on Thu Aug 23, 2001 at 06:37:11 PM EST

It seems to me that _technological_ initiatives to allieve suffering would spend a lot of money to develop the ibuproefen of societal medicine: it might make you feel better, but you're still sick.

-_Quinn
Reality Maintenance Group, Silver City Construction Co., Ltd.
[ Parent ]

Teflon (4.00 / 1) (#36)
by wiredog on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 08:29:26 AM EST

Teflon came out of the Manhattan Project. Part of the uranium enrichment process involves making gaseous uranium hexaflouride and passing it through diffusion screens. Hex is extremely corrosive. It doesn't eat nickel, so all the pipes in the separation plant were made of nickel plated steel. The problem was the gaskets. Wherever you have two pipes coming together you need a gasket. One that isn't dissolved by whatever the pipes are carrying. It turns out that teflon is not soluble in hex (or just about anything else, for that matter), so it became the gasket of choice.

The Oak Ridge plant accounted for several hundred million dollars (in 1940 dollars!!) of the Manhattan Projects cost. IIRC, developing the diffusion technology was the most expensive component of the projects' cost.

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
Phage
[ Parent ]

Waste? (4.00 / 5) (#21)
by Kasreyn on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 12:11:57 AM EST

So, developing new zero-G medical treatments and pharmaceutical development techniques that could save lives is a waste? Researching ways to colonize other bodies in space to reduce population pressure is a waste? Experience in space which will help in sub-oceanic exploration and colonization is a waste? Studying stellar phenomena, which may lead to breakthroughs in solar and fusion power, is a waste? Mining the moon and asteroid belt, an effectively inexhaustible supply of ore, is a waste? Exploring space and as a result, spreading among people the realization that we are all one race and need to work together, with all the beneifts for world peace that that means, is a waste?

You make no sense. It's true we have many and desperate problems here on earth. But the answers, and the tools to solve them, may well be millions of miles beyond our atmosphere.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
resources better spent on toys? (3.66 / 3) (#28)
by boxed on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 05:25:43 AM EST

First of all those resources are a mere percentage of the amount of money the western world THROWS AWAY on military equipment and training. Furthermore, the idea that the money for this will cut into the budgets for aid is totally unfounded. Money is bullshit, it's just a fabrication and we can fabricate a lot more than we do.

[ Parent ]
You're right: It IS wrong. Shameful, even. (4.25 / 4) (#40)
by mjs on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 10:18:26 AM EST

Whilst I think Space Exploration is a good idea long term, I really can't in all conscience support it at this time, because it is wrong, in my opinion, when so much of the world is in such a mess, to gratuitously waste massive resources on an endeavour designed to satisfy the curiosity of a few rich westerners.

You know, you're absolutely right. In fact, any sort of fundamental or applied scientific research is just a crock designed to ease the consciences of rich Westerners while they watch televised pleas for money from impoverished third-world families with no income and a dozen kids. I say get rid of it all and spend the money on these starving children. Who needs luxuries like antibiotics and high-yield food crops when children are starving all over the world? We don't really need better ways of generating energy, or more efficient gadgets using less of it, such as cargo ships and aircraft delivering more cargo while using fewer resources than in the past. What good have all the cell phones and Palm Pilots ever done to a starving kid in Sudan or Uganda or any of the other non-Western impoverished nations of our beautiful planet? These poor folks are just victims of Western imperialism and wasteful consumer greed and these greedy Western bastards should just donate their ill-gotten wealth (derived from shameless exploitation of the helpless masses of the third world, I might add,) to these poor people. We don't need science, darn it all: why can't we all just get along and share what we've got?

[ Parent ]

False dilemma (4.66 / 3) (#46)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 01:13:12 PM EST

Whilst I think Space Exploration is a good idea long term, I really can't in all conscience support it at this time, because it is wrong, in my opinion, when so much of the world is in such a mess, to gratuitously waste massive resources on an endeavour designed to satisfy the curiosity of a few rich westerners.
Point blank, this presupposition is bunk.

The implicit presupposition of bc's argument is that if we weren't using this money in the space program, it could go toward ending starvation and bringing about world peace. This is a false dilemma. Not only are these options not exhaustive, but they are also not exclusive in a day and age when the US has the resources to do both.

Worse yet for bc's point, starvation in the present age is not a problem brought about by lack of resources. Starvation in the modern era is entirely a social and political problem. Consider the starvation going on in North Korea. Is it happening because they don't have enough resources to buy food? Nope. It is happening because the North Korean government is centrally planned and has chosen not to feed the people. No amount of money can solve this the problem of a centrally planned government deciding to not feed its citizens.

Consider the consequences that groups such as Doctors Without Borders are discovering while serving on their missions. In many countries, these altruists are being kidnapped, shot at, and/or robbed by the locals that they are attempting to help out. It seems to me that in situations such as these, increasing funding isn't going to do diddley-squat.

Regards,

Lee Malatesta

[ Parent ]

I am curious about the title. (2.40 / 5) (#8)
by theboz on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 03:15:05 PM EST

Space.com reporter Leonard David writes in his article Rallying for a Return to the Moon that attendees of July's "Return to the Moon III" conference...

I am forgetful of some of this history, but how many times has man been to the moon? From this statement, I am under the impression that we have been three times already (the first trip, then returns I and II) but I thought we only went there once. Have there been other trips that I am not aware of?

Stuff.

Moon Trips (4.00 / 7) (#9)
by Merk00 on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 03:20:37 PM EST

The US landed on the moon during the Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17 missions. Two men each landed on those missions. (Apollo 13 was the mission where an explosion occured in the Command Module forcing an abort of the moon landing attempt.) So in total, men from Earth have landed on the moon 6 times for a total of 12 people. I believe this is just the 3rd conference of "Return to the Moon."

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Plus (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by wiredog on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 08:12:59 AM EST

Apollo 8 and 10 orbited the moon. Apollo 7 was the manned shakedown of the command module, Apollo 9 was the Earth orbit shakedown of the Lunar Module.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]
Moon to Mars (2.75 / 4) (#11)
by Merk00 on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 03:24:08 PM EST

Going to the moon would be an important stepping stone for a manned trip to Mars. However, it's important that we decide that we're going to go to Mars first. Returning to the moon before that is decided makes it extremely unlikely that a trip to Mars would be made because of budget concerns.

That said, the moon would be a near perfect test bed for equipment for a trip to Mars. It would enable test of equipment outside of Earth gravity and allow for a testing of landing equipment. But without a decision to go to Mars, it's all an effort in futility.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission

A poor test area (4.00 / 3) (#30)
by Vulch on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 07:49:58 AM EST

Actually, the moon makes a lousy test bed for equipment intended for use on Mars. Mars has twice the gravity and while it's atmosphere may be very thin, it does exist and changes the design requirements drastically.

The gravity means Apollo style suits are too heavy, (The suits used on the shuttle and ISS are heavier still and too inflexible for ground use even under lunar gravity) and the atmosphere means the thermal insulation stops working, as it relies on having vacuum between layers. A suit designed for use on Mars would probably use some form of convection cooling which wouldn't work on the moon.

To land on the moon you have to use rockets all the way down, on Mars you use aerobraking and parachutes at least part of the way and will need a decent heat shield.

Anthony

[ Parent ]

Going Further (3.66 / 3) (#25)
by Nater on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 01:07:16 AM EST

All this poking around and discovering really isn't that interesting to humankind as a species until it bears fruit. Maybe sending more stuff and people to the moon in order to study the moon and various other things are noble goals, but just how much of the population really cares about the percentage of iron in moon rocks from 20 feet below the surface of the Sea of Tranquility? Sure there are some, but you get the idea. It all goes back to one simple question: What's the point?

The reason humankind went to the moon in the first place, and possibly the reason we haven't gone back, is because getting to the moon was our goal. We did it, hurrah, back to work. If we're going to go back to the moon, I think it's going to be part of a larger scheme. For instance, I think that if humankind ever truely becomes "space-faring" then we're going to have to have some infrastructure out in space, and I don't just mean extraterrestrial gas stations. I doubt it will ever be cost effective to use a launch vehicle for long-distance space travel. Even if it becomes cheap relative to what we will be able to do in the near future, the price of launching yourself to some departure platform and then boarding a vehicle tailored to long-distance space travel will, I think, be lower than a hybrid vehicle.

Which brings us to our point of discussion: the moon. What better platform could we possibly ask for? It's nearby, so you can get there quickly, even in a launch vehicle. It's small, giving it low gravity. It's solid and inert, so it won't shift around too much internally or explode. So in order to get back to the moon, I think we're going to have to make it useful.

Here's a proposal (thrown together in short order without too much thought). Send some expeditionary probes to find a suitable building site. Then build there. Build some housing, some life support, and vehicle construction facilities. Build some space vehicles on site on the moon. Build a spaceport (not in some goofy romantic sense, but rather a "space" "port" in the same sense that an airport is an "air" "port"). Once all that's been done, we will have successfully made the moon useful, which is all most people really want when we start talking about "going back".


i heard someone suggest that we should help the US, just like they helped us in WWII. By waiting three years, then going over there, flashing our money around, shagging all the women and acting like we owned the place. --Seen in #tron


Total cost (none / 0) (#51)
by physicsgod on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 09:43:02 PM EST

For your plan is somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 trillion (~1984), or about 1/2 of the US government's annual budget.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Frist things first.. (none / 0) (#54)
by ajduk on Thu Aug 23, 2001 at 09:40:24 AM EST

We need a space port on Earth. As long as we rely on chemical rockets to leave the Earth's gravity well, we will never have a decent - and cheap - space program. I would propose building a 30km high tower (believe it or not, possable with today's technology) at the equator, probably at sea. In the middle of this tower runs a tube, through which launch craft are magnetically accelerated (=railgun) to escape velocity. Preferable the tube would be kept at vacuum. This would require a large investment, but once operational would allow launches with a fraction of today's fuel requirements - a built in power station would provide the lift from the ground. Getting to the moon or mars is hardly a problem IF you can get enough mass into space in the first place.

[ Parent ]
Arthur C. Clarke has the best quote... (3.33 / 3) (#27)
by nekonoir on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 02:15:58 AM EST

The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn't have a space program.

What price do you put on saving humanities future?

Denial

There was never a lunar landing! (3.00 / 2) (#47)
by ooch on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 04:58:17 PM EST

We can not return to the moon, because we have never been there to begin with! It was all just a propaganda stunt in the cold war era! And if you do not believe me, this page proves it. It is a detailed study of pictures supposedly taken on the moon.

Just look and see!

It's a joke (none / 0) (#52)
by coryking on Thu Aug 23, 2001 at 12:06:18 AM EST

Yup... whoever voted 1.. lighten up dont be so damn dense. It's a joke.

[ Parent ]
Go to Mars instead (4.00 / 2) (#53)
by a clockwork llama on Thu Aug 23, 2001 at 01:36:57 AM EST

In Bob Zubrin's excellent book "The Case for Mars", he debunks the usefulness of the Moon as a stepping stone to Mars. As has been noted below, conditions on the Moon are drastically different from that of Mars: the Moon has almost no air pressure, a much weaker gravity, and a much longer day/night cycle than Mars. This makes the Moon useless as a training area.

The Moon is also useless as a staging ground for Mars missions. The delta-v (energy expenditure) for a Mars-bound ship to go from Earth to the Moon, then to Mars is larger than the delta-v for going directly from the Earth to Mars. Unless the Moon can produce huge amounts of resources, which won't happen in the forseeable future - the extraction technology simply isn't there - it doesn't make sense to go Mars via the Moon.

In the (very) long run, it might be desirable to have settlements on both the Moon and Mars. However, Mars is clearly more attractive: the gravity is weak but present, reducing the physiological impact on humans; the Earth-like day/night cycle makes it possible to grow crops; and oxygen is readily extractable from the carbon-dioxide atmosphere. For these reasons, it is also much easier and safer to establish a Mars base in the short term than a Moon base.

There is a drawback to Mars: if anything goes wrong, a rescue mission would take much longer to arrive than for a settlement on the Moon. However, the more benign conditions on Mars might make such catastrophes less likely.

In fact, I would argue that a detour to the Moon would do more harm than good for our chances of establishing a credible space infrastructure.



The Apollo moon landings: is it time for a sequel? | 57 comments (57 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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