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  #1  
Old 08-29-2003, 02:02 PM
dljimerson dljimerson is offline
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Why we have not returned to the moon

About three months or so ago I found this article on the Internet about "Why we have not been back to the moon". In it one of the premises put forward was that the 1962 discovery of “Solar Pulses” (by a group headed by Robert Leighton of the California Institute of Technology). It was stated that this discovery and the subsequent data brought back from the Apollo 11 flight confirmed that it is impossible for man to actually colonize planets that lack the protective layer we enjoy here on earth. I have been unable to find anything more about this subject any place else even though I have searched now for months. What truth is there in this theory? Several other reasons for not returning, one even is on the NASA site itself stating that the booster rockets have been dismantled and are on exhibit and the research plans are difficult to find.....stuff I am very skeptical that I believe, but the MAIN question is about these Solar Pulses and the eventual effect on any future plans to colinize ANY planet, let alone the moon.

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  #2  
Old 08-29-2003, 02:15 PM
Tommyturtle Tommyturtle is offline
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The main reason we went to the Moon in the first place was to beat the Rooskies there

The space program costs an awful lot and people are very short sighted as a whole...easy enough to galvanize the public into getting behind us going to the Moon back then but now? Too many people would say spend the money here first...as though Earth has to become a paradise before we try the Moon again

Apart from the terrorists the current boogie man(at least we blame THEM for everything nowadays) is France so...

What Nasa ought to do is whisper to the bigwigs here that France is preparing a Mars mission then get their counterparts in France to tell THEIR big shots WE are going to Mars...get a little old fashioned competition like the old days
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Old 08-29-2003, 02:18 PM
Schnitte Schnitte is offline
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I guess the reason why NASA did not re-launch the lunar landings are:

- Too expensive
- They have fulfilled their purpose - beating the Russians
- It's not really useful, because exploring the moon is not very high on the priority list of the space guys any more
- The general public somehow lost interest in it. The first landing more missions followed, people began to get bored in some way

Of course this is all IMHO, without any cites available.
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Old 08-29-2003, 02:19 PM
toadspittle toadspittle is offline
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Are you talking about solar flares? It's true they (and all other types of solar and cosmic radiation) pose a threat to planetary explorers/colonists. Astronaut Jim Collins, when writing of plans for a possible Mars mission, goes into great detail re: what type of shielding might be necessary to protect a crew from a large solar flare (and a particularly noteworthy flare could, indeed, kill them).

On Mars, etc., it's assumed long-term residents will need some sort of radiation-proofing--perhaps simply living in caves.

But the problem of flares (if this is indeed what these pulses are all about) are dealt with on a daily basis by current astronauts (and unmanned satellites) in Earth orbit. They are not the reason why we didn't go back to the moon (or on to Mars) since the 1970s. Simple economics and lack of interest is why.
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Old 08-29-2003, 02:25 PM
toadspittle toadspittle is offline
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BTW, the Chinese are still intent on going to the moon. I imagine that if they successfully and regularly land taikonauts there, it might just be the kick in the ass we need to go back (or, if we do not return, it will be looked back on as the official end of our nation's reign as a superpower).
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Old 08-29-2003, 02:28 PM
dljimerson dljimerson is offline
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OK thanks

Yes I meant solar FLARES (I guess). But the answer as to the astronauts and their protection-current "doings" is of course understandable. Individual persons on individual missions and in a limited space station are one thing. It is the actual COLINIZATION of the planets, meaning many people more then the astronauts and much more equipment needs was the reason and question I had.

I guess that does bring up a new thought though. In my “surfing” and trying to find answers to these questions I did coma across an idea some scientist had in South America. I guess there is a Lichen that lives in the south pole that supplies most if not all of our air on earth. It is their proposal that if we launch a bunch of this stuff and drop it on say Mars, this will eventually, and yes I mean centuries, build an atmosphere there. This same technique could be used on any hard bodied planet (meaning Jupiter is out of the question). Anybody have thoughts on this?
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Old 08-29-2003, 02:43 PM
toadspittle toadspittle is offline
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Found out more about Robert Leighton and Solar Pulses--not about flares at all, and nothing to do with colonization either. The solar pulses are basically 5- to 160-minute (the latter being typical) oscillations in the diameter of the sun (due to the sun's own seismology, and possibly due to the ever-conflicting forces of gravitational compression and explosive expansion that the sun's fusion reactions generate) that cause corresponding waves through the solar wind. These waves travel only a few miles an hour, and seem as though they'd have no appreciable effect on human life.
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Old 08-29-2003, 02:52 PM
dljimerson dljimerson is offline
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I found more info also. I was talking about the Solar Flare. This site http://www.sel.noaa.gov/primer/primer.html has a good explanation and states that if an astronaut was on the surface of the moon in his or her space suit they would probably die. Even seeking shelter undergroud they would be exposed to the effects of radiation. So I guess this is ultimately what the original article I read three months ago was trying to elude too. I just confused the issue by calling it "Solar Pulse".
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Old 08-29-2003, 02:57 PM
toadspittle toadspittle is offline
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Anybody have thoughts on this?
a. I would highly debate that any single plant supplies most of our air (oxygen, presumably), esp. an antarctic lichen.

b. plants (whether lichens, algae, leafy plants, grasses, etc.) have long been considered for terraforming, and while plants could make use of Mars' CO2 atmosphere...

c. There still doesn't seem to be enough oxygen available there to make a big enough impact on a planetary scale. Mars has a very thin atmosphere, so there just isn't much gas to work with in the first place. Also, even if we could generate a suitable atmosphere

d. it's not clear that it would stick around; Mars has less mass than the earth (so it's easier for light gases to escape up into space, never to be seen again) and no magnetic field to speak of (so the solar wind is less likely to be deflected, and more likely to blow those gases away into space).

I believe Kim Stanley Robinson covers all of this terraforming stuff in his Red Mars/Blue Mars/Green Mars series. (I think he proposes capturing and dropping comets onto the surface of Mars to supply more water/oxygen and to heat things up--since increased volcanic activity would result in even more gases being liberated into the atmosphere and the planet being warmed slightly). I'm sure someone who has read the (quite popular) series will be along to correct/confirm this.
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Old 08-29-2003, 03:10 PM
CurtC CurtC is offline
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I would guess that the reason that Antarctic lichen was proposed is that Antarctica would be the closest thing we have on Earth to a Martian climate. Antarctica is extremely dry and cold, just like Mars.
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Old 08-29-2003, 03:27 PM
toadspittle toadspittle is offline
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I would guess that the reason that Antarctic lichen was proposed is that Antarctica would be the closest thing we have on Earth to a Martian climate. Antarctica is extremely dry and cold, just like Mars.

Right ... but I still doubt that it supplies most of our oxygen.
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Old 08-29-2003, 06:45 PM
Tommyturtle Tommyturtle is offline
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Maybe if some PRIVATE concern got interested in space exploration...think Bill Gates...he could probably fund it enough just from the money under his sofa cushions

Long enough until some countries decided they didn't want a private company getting all the potential goodies that would come about...I really doubt Heinleins' future would come to pass for that very reason

Until someone or some country shows an interest I doubt we(USA) will go all out just the dribbles and drabs we've seen in the past few years moneywise
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Old 08-29-2003, 07:44 PM
Cervaise Cervaise is offline
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The private companies aren't going to be particularly interested in going back to the moon, because there's no money in it. This isn't just a casual dismissal; there's really nothing on the moon that makes continued exploration cost-effective.

Physical resources? Next to none. No valuable minerals to mine, no ores to refine, or anything like that. There's some helium in the regolith, which could be useful if the technological breakthroughs for a viable fusion-power industry finally arrive, but it would take serious effort to get it out.

Staging base for deeper exploration? Overrated. To launch something from the moon, you have to first bring it there from Earth, since there's very little on the moon from which to manufacture either a vehicle or fuel. And why waste fuel making all the orbital corrections for landing something on the moon if you're just going to take off again? Seems counter-intuitive, but it's much simpler and resource-effective to lift off directly from Earth.

So, in a practical sense, there's really no reason to go to the moon. The real money, in the future, will be on Mars, and in the near-Earth objects like comets and asteroids. Read John S. Lewis's book Mining the Sky; there's trillions of dollars of nickel, iron, and other similar commodities just floating around waiting for somebody to go get them. The metal in one medium-sized asteroid would pay for the mission to retrieve it, fifty times over. The problem is, such a mission would take a minimum of ten years from start to finish, probably longer, and would be an awfully big investment for any corporation to justify to its shareholders and capitalize over a long period of time, regardless of the potentially huge payoff at the end. The market's current profit cycles operate in the short term, and discourage that sort of far-out thinking. (Caveat: Lewis is a planetary scientist, and some of the economic models in his book don't really hold water over the long term. The principles are sound, though, for what it would take to start the ball rolling.)

As others have said, the only reason we went to the moon in the first place was prestige. (Check out the History Channel's current documentary Failure is Not an Option for insight into the mindset that made the mission such a priority.) It was an easy-to-understand, concrete goal; it would have been far more difficult to sell to Congress and the public something vague like "setting up an interplanetary mining and resource collection industry that will be wildly profitable at some point in the next forty years, probably." While that would probably have been a better goal in terms of economic health, it's far too nebulous to make a sound-bite case, and success cannot be easily claimed. Landing on the moon, though, is hugely symbolic, and victory is unambiguous. (Unless you're talking to one of the moon-hoax morons.)

Now, as toadspittle suggests, the Chinese are ramping up their space program in a serious way, with one goal being a moon mission. Again, there's no economic reason to do this; it's purely to demonstrate the viability of the technology and the human expertise. And if they do make progress toward that goal, you can bet the U.S. will suddenly find a few extra dollars to throw at its space agency. It's possible we'll shoot for the moon again, but if reason prevails we'll go for Mars this time. It's technologically within our grasp, it provides long-term economic opportunity, and politically it's the Big Story that will make the Chinese effort look like small potatoes. (Read Zubrin. Yeah, he's kind of a hand-waving evangelist, but he makes a pretty good case.)
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Old 08-29-2003, 09:21 PM
Cardinal Cardinal is offline
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I don't think many Americans at all would be willing to spend the money to back to the moon now. Then, it was worth it to say, "Stick it, Leonid."

I certainly can't see the point in sending people to Mars when we could do so much more for people right here.

"Let's spend billions of dollars to send a few people to another place so we can eventually colonize it. Each trip will extremely dangerous, extremely expensive, and consume enormous amounts of time of some of our most brilliant people. Oh, and the new place has no atmosphere at all, and no water. What a place to live!!"
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Old 08-29-2003, 11:24 PM
Skeptico Skeptico is offline
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Cervaise, supposedly there are large deposits of Palladium on the moon. IIRC, the high cost of Palladium on Earth is what's keeping fuel cells from becoming cheap commodities (the other components of a fuel cell are as common as sand and water...)
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Old 08-29-2003, 11:33 PM
Wearia Wearia is offline
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IIRC both India and China are planning moon missions. They are included under "we" right?
Hopefully they'll find out it is in their best interests to pool resources, but another space race would be cool too. Hopefully they'll do something worth wild while they're up there. Moon colony, moon mining, moon starbucks and so on.
As for reasons why, cost is the big one. It costs billions upon billions to send a shuttle to the moon and back. And with the recent Columbia disaster some are still weary of space travel.
However as soon as the war thing is over and done with, a new space age would be a viable option.
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  #17  
Old 08-30-2003, 06:34 PM
j.c. j.c. is offline
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The moon is a bore. The buffet closes early and the only have two shows on Saturday. Also, no towel stewards on the family class deck.

It's a wonder we went at all.
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Old 08-30-2003, 09:23 PM
Mirror Image egamI rorriM Mirror Image egamI rorriM is offline
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It's explained perfectly in one of those "Behold the Power of Cheese" commercials: we went to the moon, discovered it wasn't made of cheese, and we haven't been back since.
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Old 08-31-2003, 10:14 AM
gluteus maximus gluteus maximus is offline
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Is there any petroleum on the moon?


Any more questions?

Oops... sorry! Since this is General Questions, I should post that in the form of an answer...

(ahem!)


There isn't any petroleum on the moon.


That should answer your question.
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  #20  
Old 08-31-2003, 12:03 PM
CaptainGeordie CaptainGeordie is offline
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In a book called 'Beyond Top Secret', which basically is about UFOs and government cover-ups; Neil Armstrong is attributed as having stated that there were no more moon missions because "they were warned off". It was asserted that there were giant alien spacecraft watching the moon explorers, although if I recall, Armstrong denied this further on in the book.
Still....has you thinking all the same.
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Old 08-31-2003, 12:42 PM
fortytwo fortytwo is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by toadspittle

I believe Kim Stanley Robinson covers all of this terraforming stuff in his Red Mars/Blue Mars/Green Mars series. (I think he proposes capturing and dropping comets onto the surface of Mars to supply more water/oxygen and to heat things up--since increased volcanic activity would result in even more gases being liberated into the atmosphere and the planet being warmed slightly). I'm sure someone who has read the (quite popular) series will be along to correct/confirm this.
It's some time since I read that series(and very good it was too,I thought) but believe you are essentially correct about the comets being used for that purpose. I also seem to remember he suggested nuclear explosions to help things along! The main idea being to first to heat the planet up by providing an atmosphere, any atmosphere then oxygenate it with various lichens etc.

V
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Old 08-31-2003, 04:14 PM
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I'd like us to return to the moon to create a large observatory on the dark side.
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Old 08-31-2003, 05:31 PM
Black Train Song Black Train Song is offline
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"Let's spend billions of dollars to send a few people to another place so we can eventually colonize it. Each trip will extremely dangerous, extremely expensive, and consume enormous amounts of time of some of our most brilliant people. Oh, and the new place has no atmosphere at all, and no water. What a place to live!!"
Since the dawn of time humans have been wanderers and explorers. I think it's a great thing. I hope I get to see it in my lifetime.
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Old 08-31-2003, 08:39 PM
robz robz is offline
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No immediate material benefit, that would win the next election.

I can image some Queen or king thinking 400 yrs ago, why would we want to send anyone to the New World what possible benefit could it be? They would have to cross the stormy N Atlantic, live in log huts, deal with all sort of nastiness, why bother!

Short term thinking.
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Old 08-31-2003, 10:34 PM
Cardinal Cardinal is offline
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Quite the opposite. People were sent to "the New World" precisely for the short term benefit. Kings wanted silk, spices, gold; easily transportable things with a lot of resale value. They were not planning on shipping ALL the supplies to the destination for EVERYTHING for almost ALL time forseeable, with virtually NOTHING to shihp back of value, and expenses greater than the GDP of some countries.
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Old 08-31-2003, 11:01 PM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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Originally posted by Cardinal
Quite the opposite. People were sent to "the New World" precisely for the short term benefit. Kings wanted silk, spices, gold; easily transportable things with a lot of resale value. They were not planning on shipping ALL the supplies to the destination for EVERYTHING for almost ALL time forseeable, with virtually NOTHING to shihp back of value, and expenses greater than the GDP of some countries.
Right, of course, we've only explored a very small area of the Moon for a very short period of time (as RAH puts it, "The Moon is roughly the size of Africa, and we've only had a few people mucking around on it in an area about the size of Capetown.") so we really don't know what's up there. If someone were to find something exceedingly valuable on the Moon (of course, to do that, they'd have to be there, but you know what I mean) you'd see an interest in going back to the Moon.

The Chinese are talking about it, which might inspire us to get off our lazy butts and doing something again. India, however, is only planning on sending a robotic lander and not a manned mission.

A potential benefit of the X-Prize is that if someone finds a cheap way for us to get into orbit, it'll make it cheaper to go back to the Moon since the major expense in going to the Moon is getting things off the Earth, and into space.
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Old 08-31-2003, 11:11 PM
eburacum45 eburacum45 is offline
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The Moon is worth using as a source of silicon for solar cells; manufacturing photovoltaics from material found in situ will provide a valuable resource; power.
In a hundred years I would expect the whole Moon to be covered in selfrepairing photovoltaics, and collecting enough energy to power mass drivers to put even more solar cells in orbit around the sun.
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Old 08-31-2003, 11:38 PM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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Originally posted by eburacum45
The Moon is worth using as a source of silicon for solar cells; manufacturing photovoltaics from material found in situ will provide a valuable resource; power.
In a hundred years I would expect the whole Moon to be covered in selfrepairing photovoltaics, and collecting enough energy to power mass drivers to put even more solar cells in orbit around the sun.[/url]
Yeah, but what do we use the power for? If you "beam" it to Earth, then you fry any migrating birds and aircraft that happen to pass through the beam. Use the power for a colony? Okay, but why have a colony on the Moon to begin with? No point in making the solar panels on the Moon and shipping them to Earth as the expensive doing so would eat up any benefits gained from making them on the Moon. (Earth orbit would be better, anyway, since in zero gee the silicon crystals could be grown in a weightless environment.)
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Old 09-01-2003, 12:32 AM
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"The Moon is roughly the size of Africa, and we've only had a few people mucking around on it in an area about the size of Capetown."
This is forgetting that there isn't any reason to believe that the Moon varies in any significant way. No telescopic inspection has shown any variation worth noting, and there's no changing environment to make a forest over there, or mineral deposits downstream, etc. I would be willing to bet that the mineral assays are going to be the same everywhere.

Of course, there might be something deep underground, but the cost would be sooo high. I don't have any figures, but how could it be worth the cost? Don't forget that there will still be a human toll. How many manned flights have been lost, 3 (U.S.)? What percentage is that, ~ 2% or more?
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Old 09-01-2003, 12:56 AM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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Originally posted by Cardinal
This is forgetting that there isn't any reason to believe that the Moon varies in any significant way. No telescopic inspection has shown any variation worth noting, and there's no changing environment to make a forest over there, or mineral deposits downstream, etc. I would be willing to bet that the mineral assays are going to be the same everywhere.
And you'd lose that bet. There's lots variation in the Moon, but it's not visible in telescopes. You have to get down on the ground and go mucking about to find it. Each of the 6 Apollo missions brought back rocks with unique characterstics. One of them even found orange soil on the Moon.

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Of course, there might be something deep underground, but the cost would be sooo high. I don't have any figures, but how could it be worth the cost? Don't forget that there will still be a human toll. How many manned flights have been lost, 3 (U.S.)? What percentage is that, ~ 2% or more?
The US has lost 2 manned flights (the Apollo 1 crew was killed during a ground test), the Soviets have lost roughly the same number, IIRC. As for it being worth the cost, that depends upon a lot of factors. What's the item worth? If we found (and I'm certain we won't) something that rendered radioactive material unusable for nuclear weapons, but still useful as fuel, then I'd say it'd be worth the cost. If the knowledge gained from the exploration of the Moon improves life on Earth, it'd be worth the cost.

The biggest problem is that so much of the Moon is unknown territory (we know what it looks like, but we don't know what all of it is) that it's impossible to say for certain that there's nothing of value on the Moon. And until someone can find a way to get the price (in dollars) of finding out, we'll never know.

Columbus set sail because he thought he knew of a way to get to the Indies and thus could bypass the middle man. He was going for a known quantity. With the Moon, we're going for an unknown, and that's a tough sell.
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Old 09-01-2003, 01:43 AM
Doc Nickel Doc Nickel is offline
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[sacrasm]

Oooh, orange dirt!

[/sarcasm]

No offense Tucker, m'boy. "Unique characteristics" simply means it was a different type of rock. The various Hawaiian Islands' volcanoes often produce considerably different kinds of lava and lava flows- but in the end, it's still just lava, which is still just a kind of rock.

Yes, it's entirely possible we'll find something interesting, perhaps a big nickel-iron meteorite. But the fact of the matter is, the Moon simply didn't have the geological upheval and metamorphic conditions the Earth had. We likely won't, for example, find diamonds up there- the conditions simply didn't exist. The Moon doesn't have the same kind of crust, so it doesn't have the same kind of differentiation we see down here.

As for unique elements and so forth, I have yet to hear of anyone plausibly suggesting elements beyond what we know or have made, even can exist, let alone exist naturally somewhere. Sure, under certain conditions some strange things can happen- like the theorized "metallic hydrogen" that's supposedly deep in the heart of Jupiter. Or the sci-fi "Neutronium", or neutrons compressed to near-solid in the heart of a Black Hole. In either case, removing the substance from it's conditions negates its condition- the hydrogen reverts to gas, the neutronium reverts to free particles.

Even if we found a deposit of gold up there, if it costs $10 Billion to go get it, how much gold would you have to (safely) return to Earth just to break even? And here we have diminishing returns- if you flooded the market with ten billion dollars worth of gold, all of a sudden gold will be worth about two bucks a pound and you'll have massive stockpiles you can't sell to cover the spaceflight costs.

Even Uranium or Plutonium would be barely worth the cost to get it- we actually have a surplus of Plutonium right now, since nobody will allow it to be used in a power plant, and we're taking some nukes out of the arsenal.

And if we DID find some mystery element that made it worthwhile, think of just how much equipment we'd need to get up there- the Apollo landers were the size of a large truck and a little heavier. That required a two-million-pound rocket to get it there.

A small bulldozer weighs three times as much as the lander. How many loaders and dozers would a full-fledged mining operation require? The Lunar equivalent to dump trucks? Ore crushers? How many people to operate everything? How much food and water and oxygen will we need to shoot up there to keep 'em going?

We're talking a trillion-dollar operation, and to what end?
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  #32  
Old 09-01-2003, 02:57 AM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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Doc, I'm not a selenologist, so I can't give an exact account of the geology of the Moon, but while the Moon doesn't have geological activity like the Earth (though it does have Moonquakes), one of the things that it does have that the Earth doesn't have are meteor strikes. (Yeah, I know, we get 'em too, but the Moon is thought to have acted like a shield for the Earth) And the landing site for Apollo missions were picked so as to land near the ejecta from the various craters in order to get rock blown up from the lower parts of the Moon. That's how we found the Genesis rock.

And you're right about the diminishing return aspect, no argument there.

However, as far as the lander goes, they weighed considerably more than a truck. I think they carried something like 14,000 lbs of fuel (forget the exact number and don't have time to look it up), but we wouldn't need one of those to get items off the Moon. A railgun (solar powered) would work quite nicely to get things headed towards the Earth. Slap some small manuvering thrusters on the cargo hauler, along with some parachutes, and you could get it on the Earth fairly inexpensively (in comparison to a chem rocket) and with reasonable accuracy.

As to what end? Good question. To me, simply getting humans mucking around on the Moon is enough. Of course, that's not enough for most people. Then again, lots of folks fund the arts simply because they like "pretty pictures." We are dealing with an unknown here. A vast unknown. We don't know what we'll find if we go, nor do we know what other things we'll learn simply from going.

To hop back to your example of finding uranium on the Moon. It's certainly worthless for shipping it back to Earth. Too expensive and the enviromentalists go ballastic at the mere mention of the stuff. However, if we found it on the Moon, it would make going to Mars much easier, since we wouldn't have to ship the stuff up from Earth, with all the risks and resultant headaches that entails. Of course, you're left with the question: "Why go to Mars?"

Sooner or later, humans will expand outwards, simply because it's in our nature to do so. The only thing holding us back right now is the cost.
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Old 09-01-2003, 03:10 AM
Cardinal Cardinal is offline
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There's lots variation in the Moon, but it's not visible in telescopes. You have to get down on the ground and go mucking about to find it.
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The US has lost 2 manned flights (the Apollo 1 crew was killed during a ground test)
I was counting Apollo 1.
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Columbus set sail because he thought he knew of a way to get to the Indies and thus could bypass the middle man. He was going for a known quantity. With the Moon, we're going for an unknown, and that's a tough sell.
It sure is. There are billions, nay, probably trillians of dollars of investment capital at the ready around the world, and not one serious attempt at a consortium to mine the moon has been made. Considering how even some of the most lame ideas attract high-risk tolerant investors, this says volumes to me.

This is another one of those cases where I say, "I don't know much about this, but the actions of the people who think about this all the time tell me that my initial guess must be right."
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If we found (and I'm certain we won't) something that rendered radioactive material unusable for nuclear weapons, but still useful as fuel, then I'd say it'd be worth the cost.
So your example of what would make it worth it is by your own admission a pipe dream? As Doc Nickel has pointed out, what would make it worth it, anyway, diamond studded gold already in Moon mission collectible stamped coin form?

I know that's sarcastic, but I really don't know how you could be saying this.

Oh, and according to your own admission, with 249 manned flights between USSR/Russia and the U.S., (http://users.commkey.net/Braeunig/space/manned.htm) about 2.5% of the craft have killed their crews. This is a horrific human toll. How many thousands of days go by in a regular mine without anyone dying?

Hmmm. On preview, it seems that maybe you already agree with most of this.
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  #34  
Old 09-01-2003, 03:26 AM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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Cardinal, it's pretty obvious that you have to get down on the Moon to be able to tell what's what. The scientists who picked the landing site for the Apollo mission (IIRC, it was 15) which found the Genesis rock knew that it was their best shot at finding old rocks on the Moon, what they didn't know was how old the rocks would be. Read A Man on the Moon for a detailed discussion on the whole geological research aspect of the Apollo program. The only scientist to set foot on the Moon was Jack Schmidt, a geologist, on Apollo 17.

And actually, since the dotcom bomb, everyone's having trouble finding investors. However, the various X-Prize teams have attracted lots of high powered investors. Once someone finds a cheap way to space, many of the investors will start looking at the Moon.

As for the space program exacting a horrific human toll, I disagree. Early aviators will killed by the dozens, and yet people still took to the air. Burt Rutan has said that we're not killing enough astronauts, since we humans tend to only get serious about something when someone dies.

And I can't come up with a valid argument as to why we should go back to the Moon now. My gut tells me we should, but that's not going to convince anyone, I'll readily admit. I wish I could come up with the convincing argument, because then I'd be screaming it from the rooftops to get us back there.
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  #35  
Old 09-01-2003, 05:26 AM
Futile Gesture Futile Gesture is offline
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Originally posted by Tuckerfan
Columbus set sail because he thought he knew of a way to get to the Indies and thus could bypass the middle man. He was going for a known quantity. With the Moon, we're going for an unknown, and that's a tough sell.
The solar system is round. Heading to the Moon is a shortcut to Iraq. Can we not sell this to the military?

It's rumoured that Mars is a faster route for power grid cables across the US.
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  #36  
Old 09-01-2003, 07:16 AM
Cardinal Cardinal is offline
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Now, I know this is being very picky, but this IS the SDMB.
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There's lots variation in the Moon, but it's not visible in telescopes. You have to get down on the ground and go mucking about to find it.
My request for a cite was for the idea that we know that there's lots of variations in the Moon's makeup.
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That's how we found the Genesis rock.
I went to the linked page, but, boy howdy, that's a lot of text. What's the point with the "Genesis rock"?
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As for the space program exacting a horrific human toll, I disagree. Early aviators will killed by the dozens, and yet people still took to the air.
To accomplish a fantastic, legendary, hugely profitable goal that could be had no other way. YOU take a 2.5% chance of never getting off the ship alive just to mine some minerals that might be kind of expensive to dig out of the ground. I'm not going, especially with NASA's credibility shot (again) in the safety department. I'm despairing of its ever being anything but a bloated government agency intent on justifying its own existence by dreaming up jobs for itself that sound good to Congress.
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The only scientist to set foot on the Moon was Jack Schmidt, a geologist, on Apollo 17.
I seriously don't know your point with that. We have plenty of geologists on earth to analyze rocks and look at video beamed back.
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And actually, since the dotcom bomb, everyone's having trouble finding investors. However, the various X-Prize teams have attracted lots of high powered investors.
OK, I hate snarky people, even here, but you just contradicted yourself in succeeding sentences, with the second one pretty much proving my point. There are investors for projects with foreseeable payouts. In this case, there is a $10 million prize, plus the very real prospect of stealing NASA's business for putting up satellites.

Wikipedia puts the world's GDP in 1999 at $40.7 trillion. Mind you, this was one year's output. I would not be surprised if there is a trillion dollars waiting to find the right investment opportunity.
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And I can't come up with a valid argument as to why we should go back to the Moon now. My gut tells me we should, but that's not going to convince anyone, I'll readily admit. I wish I could come up with the convincing argument, because then I'd be screaming it from the rooftops to get us back there.
I guess we really are on the same page. You can't come up with a political or economic argument to go back to the moon yet, either.
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  #37  
Old 09-01-2003, 07:35 AM
Cardinal Cardinal is offline
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It's rumoured that Mars is a faster route for power grid cables across the US.
Is this the requisite wacko interjection for a thread like this?
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Old 09-01-2003, 09:05 AM
Futile Gesture Futile Gesture is offline
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Originally posted by Cardinal
Is this the requisite wacko interjection for a thread like this?
Nah. If it was really wacko I'd be telling you that they were already laying power cables to Mars, but in secret.

Closest Mars has been since, like, forever and power-cuts in the US and UK. You think this is a coincidence? And did you ever stop to think where Saddam is hiding, huh? You can see the dark side of the Moon from Mars! It all makes perfect sense.

If you were wacko, that is.

To be serious, we're not going to go back to the moon until one or both of the following conditions arise:

A/ There's pots of money to be made from it.
B/ There's a military advantage to be had from it.

Neither are the case just now. (Unless you're wacko.) It's a pity, but A+B above are the uppermost values of the countries that have the resources to do it.
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  #39  
Old 09-01-2003, 09:33 AM
spingears spingears is offline
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I think there are more urgent terrestrial matters to be concerned with!

MOON
Been there, done that.

SPACE STATION
Next. Establish a way station.

MARS
Next after space station, the reason for the s.s.
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  #40  
Old 09-01-2003, 11:56 AM
eburacum45 eburacum45 is offline
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The whole point of using the Moon as a power station is to provide power for habitats on the Moon and in the Earth - Moon volume;
there should be no need to ship fuel up off the Earth's surface once the power economy isestablished up there.

Selling power to Earth may never be important.

This solar power could also be used for craft going to Mars,
and to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, the Near Earth Objects, the asteroid belt and the Jupiter Trojans.
of all these destinations the Moons of Jupiter and the Trojans are perhaps the most resource rich;
Mars turns out to be way down the list as far as I can figure.

But the Moon is the key to the solar system.
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  #41  
Old 09-01-2003, 04:26 PM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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Cardinal we know that there's lots of variation in the make up of the Moon from the samples the Apollo astronauts brought back. To quote A Man on the Moon
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The Apollo 12 samples also differed in composition from the Apollo 11 rocks and one another.
(p. 367)
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The geologists had said the rocks of the lunar highlands would be different, and these surely were, unlike any of the samples they'd seen in the LRL.
(p.374)
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As for an outcrop of true bedrock, that was something no astronaut had yet identified. The promise of outcrops, up on the slopes of the mountains, and perhaps at the rille, was one of Hadley's lures.
(p. 406)

NASA's take on why we need to go back to the Moon.

The point of the "Genesis rock" is that it's only slightly younger than the Earth. So, not only is it a sample of what kind of material was floating around in the early days of the Moon's formation, it also tells us how old the Moon is. (4.5 billion years, the Earth's 4.6 billion.)

Gus Grissom on astronauts being killed
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If we die, we want people to accept it. We're in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life.
(Found the quote thanks to Arden Ranger) Yeah, NASA does have some safety issues, and they periodically suffer bouts of "Go fever," but the blame doesn't lie solely with NASA. Unlike most other Federal agencies, NASA's budget has remained relatively frozen since the 1970s. NASA was also forced into using the space shuttle, even though they knew it wasn't going to perform as well as promised. Cite. Still, even that hasn't caused the astronauts to think that it's unsafe. And based on this unscientific survery, there's folks willing to go, no matter what the cost.

As for why having Schimdt on the Moon was so important, there's a number of reasons for that:
  • An expert on the ground in an area can spot things that even a well-trained amatuer cannot.
  • Hi-res video is still not up to the sensativity level of the human eye.
  • Context is everything to a geologist and because Al Shepard and Ed Mitchell didn't detail the context of where they found the rocks on the Apollo 14, the analysis of the rocks was much harder for the scientists back on Earth. Schimdt made no such mistake.
  • Humans are random creatures and do things for the heck of it. A robot probe only does what it's told.
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OK, I hate snarky people, even here, but you just contradicted yourself in succeeding sentences, with the second one pretty much proving my point. There are investors for projects with foreseeable payouts. In this case, there is a $10 million prize, plus the very real prospect of stealing NASA's business for putting up satellites.
First of all, NASA's pretty much out of the satellite business. Most birds are launched by private companies, ESA, and the Russians. Second, it took years for the guy responsible for the X-Prize to raise the money, and none of the teams will make their money back if they win the prize. Many of the backers do not want their identities revealed because they're afraid it'll shoot their credibility. Cite and cite. So even though there are investors willing to pony up the money, many of them don't want people to know about it. And at least some of them don't expect to make a profit any time soon.
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"Of course I won't recoup the money I put into X Prize in the next 10 years," he says, refilling cups all around. "If space tourism works, some folks will make tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. But that's not my focus. History has proved that exploration is always worth the cost and risk. There's just no way to guarantee human survival unless we move off this planet - and our days as a space-faring race start the moment someone wins the X Prize."
In short, it's a tough sell, no matter how much money is floating around out there.
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I guess we really are on the same page. You can't come up with a political or economic argument to go back to the moon yet, either.
Actually, I can come up with political and economic arguments, however, those arguments hinge on "if's" and require people to be forward thinking enough. It also requires folks to have an understanding of the items that are at stake here.

From a political standpoint, it makes sense if one has a hostile power on the Earth which is capable of manned spaceflight. Why? Well, for starters, a lunar colony (and this will become important in a bit) would be cheaper to operate on the Moon, than it would in Earth orbit. The colony can be built using local materials (warning .pdf) and oxygen can be easily extracted from lunar soil, so there's little need to spend the money to ship the stuff up from Earth. Food can be grown in greenhouses (with broadspectrum lights for the lunar nights), so there's no need to ship that up. Once the base is established, you have an observation post that's pretty damn well difficult for an enemy to take out. Not to mention, with such a base, you've got an endless supply of rocks you can cheaply throw at the Earth using an electromagnetic railgun. Of course, at present we don't have an enemy capable of doing that. (Though China is planning on going to the Moon, and if relations with the Chinese sour enough, we might start looking at going back ourselves.)

The economic reasons hinge on us being able to develop a cheap method of getting into space. The X-Prize might give us that and so might the space elevator. Hilton has said that if someone can come up with an inexpensive way to put people in orbit, they'll build a hotel in space. Once a cheap way to get in orbit is found, lots of things will open up for humanity. The Moon becomes a cheaper target for tourism, if nothing else. However, because of the benefits of space based manufacturing, you'll see a gradual migration of manufacturing from the Earth to orbit. Certain items, ships, houses, cars, and other large items will remain being built on Earth (however, many of the items which go into them, will probably be built in orbit) but lots of other things will be built in orbit. Also, I expect retirement homes (for the very wealthy, no doubt) will be a big seller. A zero-gee or low-gee environment would probably be easier on the elderly, and might enable them to live longer lives.

From a scientific standpoint (I know you didn't ask about it, but no sense in not covering all bases here), there's benefits from having an observatory on the far side of the Moon. Also, since the Moon is not subject to weathering (other than meteorite impacts), it's a perfect lab for studying what conditions were like near the beginning of the solar system. Additionally, the meteors which have impacted upon the Moon and can be found, will yield useful information about other celestial bodies and the origins of the cosmos.

Finally, there's the unknown factors. Because we haven't spent a lot of time crawling around on the Moon mucking the place up, we might as well place a "Here be dragons" note on any maps of it. We don't know what someone might discover, either on the Moon or in Earth orbit, or be inspired to discover by being in those places.
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  #42  
Old 09-01-2003, 04:48 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is online now
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Originally posted by qts
I'd like us to return to the moon to create a large observatory on the dark side.
There is no "dark side" of the moon. There's a side always facing away from Earth (due to a tidal lock) but as the moon rotates, all of the surface becomes illuminated at some point. Since the moon has no atmosphere, though, you could see the stars even in broad daylight. The sun would be shining, but the sky would be pitch black. The only reason the stars don't appear in various Apollo-mission photographs is becuase the exposure time on the cameras weren't long enough (too long an exposure means all the light colours start to run together and an astronaut in a white spacesuit would appear as a big blob).

An observatory on the surface of the moon would have two weeks of daylight and two weeks of "night". The temperature swings would be extreme, which raises a whole buttload of engineering problems. Anyhoo, during the lunar night phase, star photography is much easier, assuming your equipment doesn't freeze. Conceivably, the obsevatory could work in cycles, spreading out solar panels during the two-week "day" to absorb energy and charge up the batteries, then doing all its observation time at "night".

Depending on where you put the observatory, Earth would either be visible all the time, visible none of the time, or slowly dipping slightly above and below the horizon (librations). Unless the Earth is visible at least some of the time, the observatory won't be able to send back its observations because no line-of-sight radio communications would be possible. You could put a satellite in orbit around the moon to act as a relay, I suppose.

Overall, a lunar observatory is mildly interesting, and would certainly be high on the to-do list of a permanent lunar base, but we could already build orbiting observatories (i.e. the Hubble) with a lot less trouble.
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Old 09-01-2003, 04:56 PM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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Originally posted by Bryan Ekers
Overall, a lunar observatory is mildly interesting, and would certainly be high on the to-do list of a permanent lunar base, but we could already build orbiting observatories (i.e. the Hubble) with a lot less trouble.
You're only thinking about the visible spectrum, there Bryan. A radio telescope placed on the far side of the Moon, would be free of terrestrial radio interfence, which isn't easy to do unless you put the thing very far away in space, or on the back side of the Moon.
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  #44  
Old 09-01-2003, 06:25 PM
Cardinal Cardinal is offline
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If we die, we want people to accept it. We're in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life.
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based on this unscientific survery, there's folks willing to go, no matter what the cost.
Well, we have a difference of opinion, I guess. There are always people willing to risk themselves for a shot at glory. Someone's going to get seriously hurt flipping motorcycles in the X Games, and then they're going to have a decision to make. I'M not going to be that person.
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It has been known for some time that, in order to persuade a reluctant Congress to reject Sen. Walter Mondale's campaign against the Shuttle, NASA told outrageous distortions about the frequency with which it could be launched, and thus its cost-effectiveness.
That quote is from your linked article. This jibes quite well with what Richard Feynman said in "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman." NASA has been completely unrealistic in safety and cost-effectiveness statements, because apparently if you're lying for a good reason, that excuses it. I honestly think some people should go to jail for this. Lying to Congress has to be a crime, right?

Concerning whether astronauts feel safe in the shuttle, isn't it true that NASA has been shown to have been negligent (again) in its safety inspections and so on? Feynman talked about an attitude of "We don't find a problem in our other inspections, so we might as well quit doing them."
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First of all, NASA's pretty much out of the satellite business. Most birds are launched by private companies, ESA, and the Russians.
Well, it doesn't matter whose satellite business they're stealing, they're still getting the business (potentially) I hope that I'm assuming correctly, that a vehicle like this could be used as a better platform for getting satellites into decent orbit.
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Second, it took years for the guy responsible for the X-Prize to raise the money, and none of the teams will make their money back if they win the prize.
I bet it sure did take some time to raise money for a $10 million prize. A prize is not an investment. It's a gift. That's a heck of a big gift. It's not related to our discussion of whether going to the Moon is a good investment. As for the teams, what I meant was that $10 million is a great way to start defraying cost of investment, and the payoff is soooo potentially huge that eventually they did find someone. Mind you, this is for suborbit vehicles, not moon landers.
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Many of the backers do not want their identities revealed because they're afraid it'll shoot their credibility. So even though there are investors willing to pony up the money, many of them don't want people to know about it. And at least some of them don't expect to make a profit any time soon.
I'm not sure of the point of the fact that people don't want to be identified yet. In any case, the "any time soon" part is acceptable to many people to be part of something cool, and if the payoff is really big and actually foreseeable, then a few years delay is ok.
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for starters, a lunar colony (and this will become important in a bit) would be cheaper to operate on the Moon, than it would in Earth orbit. The colony can be built using local materials (warning .pdf) and oxygen can be easily extracted from lunar soil, so there's little need to spend the money to ship the stuff up from Earth. Food can be grown in greenhouses
So then, it's only outrageously expensive, not appallingly expensive?
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Not to mention, with such a base, you've got an endless supply of rocks you can cheaply throw at the Earth using an electromagnetic railgun.
So the political reason you can think of is to rain metoerites down on your enemies? Well, I guess anything's worth the cost if you hate someone enough.
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Also, I expect retirement homes (for the very wealthy, no doubt) will be a big seller. A zero-gee or low-gee environment would probably be easier on the elderly, and might enable them to live longer lives.
Is there some effect that outweighs the loss of muscle mass as they lose resistance?
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Because we haven't spent a lot of time crawling around on the Moon mucking the place up, we might as well place a "Here be dragons" note on any maps of it.
Yeah, well, with the stuff going on around here, I'm just not inspired. We're supposed to take money, time, and brainpower from solving things on earth and devote them on the enormous scale necessary for a moon colony? I just don't care enough. And the parallels between this and the sailing explorers are very small. Those expeditions cost almost nothing compared to what you're talking about. The vehicle was in relatively mass production, there wasn't any weird life support needed, and restocking could be done along the way and at the destination.

This is turning into something like those Israeli/Palestinian threads in GD, but more polite. I think we just have irreconcilable mindsets, maybe. Well, I'm not against it in principle, just at the current costs, and with only vague "what ifs" as payoffs.
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  #45  
Old 09-01-2003, 07:05 PM
ltfire ltfire is offline
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Originally posted by Cardinal
I don't think many Americans at all would be willing to spend the money to back to the moon now. Then, it was worth it to say, "Stick it, Leonid."

I certainly can't see the point in sending people to Mars when we could do so much more for people right here.

"Let's spend billions of dollars to send a few people to another place so we can eventually colonize it. Each trip will extremely dangerous, extremely expensive, and consume enormous amounts of time of some of our most brilliant people. Oh, and the new place has no atmosphere at all, and no water. What a place to live!!"
Here's a point to ponder, for what it's worth to the topic. If any country went full tilt on colonizing any planet, who the hell would go? I'm thinking that by the time it was feasible, anyone living now - wouldn't be. Are they/we planning on putting up posters looking for people that want a Mars post office box? Why would you leave the great planet Earth to begin with? I'm sure there are a couple or three thousand Luke Skywalker wannabes running around to Star Wars conventions, but what of the rest of us with half a brain?
(not ranting, just wondering)
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  #46  
Old 09-01-2003, 07:12 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is online now
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Well, if they gave me a female replicant that looked liked Sean Young circa 1982, I'd consider going.
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Old 09-01-2003, 07:55 PM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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That quote is from your linked article. This jibes quite well with what Richard Feynman said in "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman." NASA has been completely unrealistic in safety and cost-effectiveness statements, because apparently if you're lying for a good reason, that excuses it. I honestly think some people should go to jail for this. Lying to Congress has to be a crime, right?
Actually, IIRC, it isn't a crime to lie to Congress unless you're under oath, and even then the penalties aren't very severe. (Haven't heard anything about tobacco excutives being jailed when they said cigarettes aren't addictive before Congress.)
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Concerning whether astronauts feel safe in the shuttle, isn't it true that NASA has been shown to have been negligent (again) in its safety inspections and so on? Feynman talked about an attitude of "We don't find a problem in our other inspections, so we might as well quit doing them."
So, what's your point? The astronauts are intimately involved with the inner workings of NASA, they know what inspections are being done and what ones aren't. They're also the ones putting their lives on the line. IMHO, if they're confident about the job NASA's doing, then who am I to argue?
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I bet it sure did take some time to raise money for a $10 million prize. A prize is not an investment. It's a gift. That's a heck of a big gift. It's not related to our discussion of whether going to the Moon is a good investment. As for the teams, what I meant was that $10 million is a great way to start defraying cost of investment, and the payoff is soooo potentially huge that eventually they did find someone. Mind you, this is for suborbit vehicles, not moon landers.
The X-Prize is a non-profit foundation, those folks who contributed to it got a tax deduction for doing so, and he still had trouble raising the cash. And from what I've read, most of the teams don't expect it to make a dent in what they're spending.
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Well, it doesn't matter whose satellite business they're stealing, they're still getting the business (potentially) I hope that I'm assuming correctly, that a vehicle like this could be used as a better platform for getting satellites into decent orbit.
Nope. The X-Prize vehicles are strictly "meat machines." They get people into sub-orbit, that's it. They could be modified to getting sats or whatever you into space, but as NASA's discovered: What's the point? A heavy lift vehicle that's dedicated to simply putting stuff into orbit is better (and cheaper) than a hybrid like the space shuttle.
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I'm not sure of the point of the fact that people don't want to be identified yet. In any case, the "any time soon" part is acceptable to many people to be part of something cool, and if the payoff is really big and actually foreseeable, then a few years delay is ok.
But we're not talking about a "few years delay" we're talking about ten years. Most venture capitalists expect to see a pay-off in considerably less time than that. As for the reason I mention that some of the investors don't want to be linked with space exploration, I find it rather telling that someone like Paul Allen (you know, one of the founders of Microsoft) doesn't want people to know he's giving Rutan (one of the most successful aircraft designers since Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson) money. Obviously, he's concerned about his credibility in other areas if it becomes confirmed that he's the one doing this. If it works, he'll be hailed as a visionary, if it fails, he'll be called a nutjob. In the meantime, folks are questioning what he's thinking.
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So then, it's only outrageously expensive, not appallingly expensive?
Actually, operating a Lunar base is like converting to solar power. All your costs are in the front end of the operation, not spread out a number of years, like it is with conventional energy sources. So while, yes, it would be expensive to set up (though the costs would go down over the course of the launches as economies of scale took over), the cost of running the operation would be extremely cheap when compared to the start up costs.
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So the political reason you can think of is to rain metoerites down on your enemies? Well, I guess anything's worth the cost if you hate someone enough.
It's not simply that you can rain rocks down on the "bad guys" (though you can cause as much damage as a nuke, without any of that annoying radioactive fallout stuff). You also have an observation platform which is difficult for the "bad guys" to take out. During the Cold War there was the worry that the Soviets were developing anti-satellite weapons which would be able to take out US spy sats. A Lunar base used for spying wouldn't be nearly as vulnerable to attack, and even if it were attacked, you've got humans there who can try to repair things quickly. You don't have to find a rocket, slap a bird on it (assuming you've got one at the ready), fuel it up, launch it, hope it gets to the right orbit, and so on. The best one could hope for putting another bird up is a month or longer, that might not be the case with a Lunar base repairing damage done to it's gear.
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Is there some effect that outweighs the loss of muscle mass as they lose resistance?
Well, NASA's done some research on that, but we won't know the truth, of course, until we start sending humans up for long periods of time. And if they're willing to spend the rest of their lives in space, they may not need that lost muscle tissue.
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Yeah, well, with the stuff going on around here, I'm just not inspired. We're supposed to take money, time, and brainpower from solving things on earth and devote them on the enormous scale necessary for a moon colony?
What, exactly, have we "solved" here on Earth? War? Hunger? Disease? Ignorance? We've been hammering away at those problems since the proverbial Dawn of Time™ and haven't managed to find solutions to them as of yet. What makes you think that throwing a paltry $15 billion more a year at them is going to change that?
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I just don't care enough.
Pity that. The space program has benefited humanity through it's various developments. Perhaps not as much as people would like, but nonetheless, the effect of the space program touches everybody's life on a daily basis, whether they know it or not.
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And the parallels between this and the sailing explorers are very small.
A better comparison, perhaps, would be between the development of the railroads and space. The steam automobile was invented well before Benz and Daimler built their first car. However, laws were passed in England prohibiting the operation of steam powered vehicles on public roadways, so the technology languished for awhile. Until some bright chap hit upon the idea of buying up land and making his own roads for the steamers to run on! Even then, there were plenty of people who scoffed at the idea, they saw "no need for people to go 25 MPH," but gradually, over time, railroads developed and grew to the point where most nations on Earth would have a difficult time without them. Already, we're at the point where we'd be royally screwed if we lost the ability to go into space. Too much of our communication is routed through sats for us to ever turn back, much less the loss of vital weather information. The railroads, too, had to work out methods of supplying themselves on their journey. The engines needed fuel and water, the crews needed food. Eventually, they managed to figure it out. Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin has proposed the Spaceport as a solution to the problem. Essentially, it's a spaceship which is locked into permanent orbit between the Earth and the Moon. One simply hitches a ride on it to get from either the Earth or the Moon to the other. The only fuel involved is in getting up to the Spaceport and then down to your destination. Because of orbital mechanics, once the Spaceport's placed in orbit around the Earth and Moon, it'll continue in that orbit almost indefinately, with almost no fuel needed to maintain the orbit.
Quote:
I'm not against it in principle, just at the current costs, and with only vague "what ifs" as payoffs.
Until folks start throwing lots of money at this it's not going to get any cheaper. And we're not going to find any payoffs (whatever form they might take) until that's done as well.
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  #48  
Old 09-01-2003, 08:20 PM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by ltfire
Here's a point to ponder, for what it's worth to the topic. If any country went full tilt on colonizing any planet, who the hell would go? I'm thinking that by the time it was feasible, anyone living now - wouldn't be. Are they/we planning on putting up posters looking for people that want a Mars post office box? Why would you leave the great planet Earth to begin with? I'm sure there are a couple or three thousand Luke Skywalker wannabes running around to Star Wars conventions, but what of the rest of us with half a brain?
(not ranting, just wondering)
According to the folks at The Mars Society, we could have a Martian colony going within about 10 years, if we really put our minds to it. Admittedly, they're a bit biased, but I don't think that their timeframe is wildly inaccurate. Most of the technology necessary already exists, and what doesn't exist isn't so "bleeding edge" that it would have a long development time.

If someone was holding a gun to our head, I imagine we could get things rolling in considerably less time.

As for why I want to go, I think Sir Edmund Hillary said it best
Quote:
Because it's there.
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  #49  
Old 09-01-2003, 09:07 PM
Cardinal Cardinal is offline
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Well, with "Because it's there" being an argument actually offered, we come perhaps to the crux of the conflict. That doesn't hold much water with me. There are many things that "are there", and spending the money, time, and lost opportunities to put people onto Mars or a colony on the Moon is just way over the top to me. I'll get back with more specifc replies later.
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  #50  
Old 09-01-2003, 09:21 PM
eburacum45 eburacum45 is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2003
The Moon is good as a jumping off point, to kick start the exploitation of the solar system, but it is deficient in water so couldn't support a large population unless you import water from the moons of Jupiter or elsewhere.
This is why the Moon needs to be converted in the first instance to a solar power collector and a producer of solar collection satellite arrays-
(and a fission power generator if there is any uranium up there).

Aldrin is right, of course, there are cheap ways of getting around the solar system, if you are patient.
http://pr.caltech.edu/periodicals/Ea...LXV4/exit.html
set up a system of cyclers between the Earth-Moon system and the volatile rich bodies around the gas giants- water could be imported to the Moon, and eventually Mars;
in a thousand years both worlds could have large areas of habitable real estate.

but the first thing needed is energy. Lots of it. And that can bset come from the Sun, and be captured by the Moon's silicon.

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http://www.orionsarm.com/main.html
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