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Jim
2002-Sep-24, 12:14 PM
Nice article on the future of lunar exploration on MSNBC. Lots of plans for robotic missions in the next 2-5 years. And a discussion of manned missions.

"I donít think you can conduct a human mission to Mars for less than a $100 billion in any time shorter than 10 years," (lunar scientist Paul) Spudis said. "The technology base will only marginally support a human Mars mission. Itís just a bridge too far. I contend that NASA doesnít have a politically viable mission."

What is workable is sending back astronauts to the moon, and doing it within 5 years. An initial mission could involve dispatching four people onto the lunar surface, and enabling them to stay for 45 days.

"In one fell swoop you exceed by an order of magnitude the total operational experience of Apollo," Spudis said. "We need to go back to understand how to use the resources on the moon."

There is also a poll... 22,500+ votes so far with 79% saying, "The scientific benefit alone makes it worth going back to the moon."

Encouraging.
http://www.msnbc.com/news/811861.asp?pne=msn

Doodler
2002-Sep-24, 06:45 PM
Its about time they got their heads on straight. We just do NOT have the technology to make Mars a worthwhile target. God help us if they find life on Mars. I can see every environmentalist under the Sun crawling out of the woodwork to protest our ever going there. The whole planet will be rendered completely USELESS, permanently. The Moon is a dead rock, no life, no environment, no air to pollute. Its there for the taking, we just got to get our act together.

DaveC
2002-Sep-24, 11:18 PM
On 2002-09-24 08:14, Jim wrote:
There is also a poll... 22,500+ votes so far with 79% saying, "The scientific benefit alone makes it worth going back to the moon."

Encouraging.
http://www.msnbc.com/news/811861.asp?pne=msn


There's a long distance between the results of an Internet poll and the necessary public commitment to make lunar exploration a political win. The U.S., by embarking on a global peacemaking role, has probably left itself with little ability to embark on expensive scientific expeditions to the moon. Now if somehow it can be made to be a global, rather than national priority. . . .

Bozola
2002-Sep-25, 01:59 AM
"I can see every environmentalist under the Sun crawling out of the woodwork to protest our ever going there."

Got something against environmentalists?

Besides, you've got it backwards: if there is life on Mars, then we should stay the hell away because we do not want any alien organisms to get to the Earth.

David Hall
2002-Sep-25, 02:24 AM
Has anyone else noticed that there seems to have been a sudden increase in interest for lunar missions? It seems that in the last few months it's gotten much stronger than before. Maybe it's just that a bunch of plans are all coming together at the same time, but I wonder if there might not be something more to it.

I sure hope it's something that sticks around for a while though. I'd like to see some manned expeditions.

nebularain
2002-Sep-25, 02:37 AM
On 2002-09-24 22:24, David Hall wrote:
Has anyone else noticed that there seems to have been a sudden increase in interest for lunar missions?

It's a conspiracy! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_lol.gif

Ilya
2002-Sep-25, 05:17 PM
We just do NOT have the technology to make Mars a worthwhile target.

Correction - we do not have the technology to make Mars a worthwhile target while conforming to NASA safety standards. If you accept the fact that space is dangerous and people occasionally will get killed, a manned Mars mission is entirely feasible.

Unfortunately, American public won't stand for it. Another fatal accident may well kill NASA.

CJSF
2002-Sep-25, 06:27 PM
On 2002-09-25 13:17, Ilya wrote:
We just do NOT have the technology to make Mars a worthwhile target.

Correction - we do not have the technology to make Mars a worthwhile target while conforming to NASA safety standards. If you accept the fact that space is dangerous and people occasionally will get killed, a manned Mars mission is entirely feasible.

Unfortunately, American public won't stand for it. Another fatal accident may well kill NASA.


It's actually a bit more complex than that. Yes, humanity could stage a Mars expedition, but at our current level of technology and experience, it is very risky. If the mission were to fail it isn't merely the loss of life (though that is important). A whole NEW mission would have to be planned. And if the failure was total, we might never know what caused it.

Taking a slower approach by going to the Moon first makes sense. We can experiment and experience life off Earth from a place where we can return to in a matter of days or weeks rather than months or years if something were to go wrong.

Going to Mars shouldn't be an Apollo-like PR/Political campaign with science tacked on to it. It should be part of a comprehensive plan for human exploration and potential colonization of other planets/moons.

CJSF

_________________
"Be very, very careful what you put into that head, because you will never,
ever get it out."
-Thomas Cardinal Wolsey (1471-1530)

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Christopher Ferro on 2002-09-25 14:28 ]</font>

Cloudy
2002-Sep-26, 06:20 AM
We are allot closer, in techonological terms, to Mars than we were to the moon in 1960 or even 1965-6. It would be relatively easy to reach Mars within 10 years, for less than 100 billion, and have not just a flags and footprints mission but a real base with six people or so. Current NASA thinking, based loosely on Zubrin's Mars Direct approach, allow us to do this with a comfortable margin. There would arguably be allot less total risk than the Appolo astronauts endured.

The obstacle is that people would say - "How much could that 60-100 billion get us if invested in other science projects?" And they would be right. Imagine 250 pathfinder- sized unmanned missions spread throughout the solar system. Or the Superconducting supercolider + a new reusable heavy lift launch vehicle + a practicle space based lazer missile defense system. Is a human Mars presence worth all of that? I don't think so.. better to wait untill it is allot cheaper.

GrapesOfWrath
2002-Sep-26, 10:38 AM
On 2002-09-24 22:24, David Hall wrote:
Has anyone else noticed that there seems to have been a sudden increase in interest for lunar missions? It seems that in the last few months it's gotten much stronger than before. Maybe it's just that a bunch of plans are all coming together at the same time, but I wonder if there might not be something more to it.

I sure hope it's something that sticks around for a while though.
I think it's all those HBs just trying to prove a point. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Jim
2002-Sep-26, 12:27 PM
Or the Superconducting supercolider...

Congress scrapped the SCSC many years ago.

I'm toying with the idea of starting a rumour that Osama bin Laden is alive and well and hiding in a cave on the moon.

Doodler
2002-Sep-26, 05:46 PM
I thought I had posted a reply yesterday, but I guess I hit th wrong button. No, I do not have a problem with the environmental lobby. I think there cases where they have a valid point, such as the ANWR, but I also see them being overzealous in others, i.e. not every puddle with weeds on the Chesapeake Bay needs to be a blightin' wildlife refuge. It is this second attitude which I believe will be the problem for NASA or whomever. Let there be one microbe found and then the whole shebang become comes under the nose of groups whose opinions tend to be that any human presence is an assault on nature. Let's not kid ourselves, we know these folks are out there.

I agree with you totally on the possibility of contaminating Earth. Though it sounds like bad SciFi, it is an issue that now has real meat to it. A discussion I read some time ago mentioned a recommendation to immediately destroy any returning spacecraft from Mars to prevent such a thing. In this financial climate, that is totally irresponsible. It simply does not make it worth a manned trip at this time.

Bozola
2002-Sep-26, 07:23 PM
Let there be one microbe found and then the whole shebang become comes under the nose of groups whose opinions tend to be that any human presence is an assault on nature. Let's not kid ourselves, we know these folks are out there.

Absolutely. A well-meaning ignorant git is still an ignorant git.

n810
2002-Sep-26, 11:10 PM
On 2002-09-26 08:27, Jim wrote:
Or the Superconducting supercolider...

Congress scrapped the SCSC many years ago.

I'm toying with the idea of starting a rumour that Osama bin Laden is alive and well and hiding in a cave on the moon.



Tee Hee....
Is he suffering from explosive decompression yet? *POOF*

overrated
2002-Sep-26, 11:37 PM
The thing is, if the U.S. decided to put all its resources into one thing--the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo programs are examples of this--it can pull off the improbable. The way I see it, if the White House made it a priority to go to Mars, we'd put lots of money into it, get our best minds working on it and would be able to go there in 10 years or so and accomplish whatever mission we wanted to.

Unfortunately, it's not politically expedient to be a big proponent of space exploration.

Until that changes, I don't see a Mars program OR a lunar re-landing program happening. Sadly.

Doodler
2002-Sep-27, 02:39 PM
I think a moon return is possible, maybe. The technology base is there, it not all that far to go. Its the human factor that makes it a pain in the butt. We're the most complex part of any spacecraft and the highest maintainance piece. The costs are also exacerbated by the human factor of beauracracy. Another thread's post on the Space Station being the ultimate example of a committee-born failure are quite poiniant. Whoever leads needs to have a rock solid goal and some serious leadership willing to take the risks that make those trips worth doing, otherwise it falls on the goodwill of public opinion, which we know to be throroughly unreliable. God I wish we had another Howard Hughes in the world.