Yeah, it’s expensive. And being the second to do anything doesn’t have as much prestige. But I still don’t understand how every single other country in the world would allow the US to retain sole bragging rights on this for FIFTY years. Surely plenty of countries have the technical know-how to pull off what we did fifty years ago?
Not so sure about that.
You’ve answered your own question. It’s really expensive and there isn’t a compelling economic or political reason to do so.
The only time the U.S. makes noise about going back is when someone else talks about doing it themselves.
Because it’s primarily about bragging rights, and those haven’t been worth the cost to anyone since the US-Soviet rivalry during the Cold War.
China is pretty much the only country today that enough interest in increasing its global prestige to make it worth the cost, plus the resources to do so. China’s lunar program includes plans for a manned mission sometime after 2025, probably not until the 2030s.
This is an easy question to answer. Let’s pretend I write you a check for 1 billion dollars. You can use it to put a random man on the moon who plants a flag that says Ashtura and possibly brings you home a rock or you can literally do ANYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD with it. At night, you can gaze wistfully at our lunar companion and nudge your buddy and say, "See that rock up there? I once paid a guy an absurd amount of money to put a flag with my name on it there. And I also got this commemorative rock which resembles many other rocks, but I know that it’s from there instead of here."What’s your choice? That’s pretty much the same choice that every other government on the planet is making except for China because they have little penis syndrome at the moment. Maybe by the time they are ready to launch, either their checkbook gives out or they learn to be happy with the size of their penis and such a launch doesn’t occur, but we’ll see. Penises are strange things and if you think that someone else’s is bigger, it can cause you to do absurd things like buying large trucks, building long walls or landing people on the moon. For those people happy with their penis size, they spend maybe a little bit of money on robots to do those things for us and spend the rest on feeding people and some of them even buy doctors for people.
Yep. There are lots of valid scientific reasons to explore space, but we can’t overlook the extent to which the 60’s ‘space race’ was just a dick-measuring contest between the US and the Soviets. The Apollo 8 mission is a great example, in which we took bold - perhaps even foolhardy - risks on an incredibly short timeline just to ‘beat’ the Soviets.
Most of these other countries have far more important and immediate concerns that require their investment. As opposed to coming in second in a race no one else is running.
It’s not about the technical know-how – it’s about building a huge industrial infrastructure that costs many billions of $, and which is mostly single-purpose in nature.
Apollo was a government-developed and funded national program. The launch vehicles, global communications network, astronaut training facilities, and approx. 400,000 workers all fell under that umbrella.
Today there are well-developed commercial launch services (and more being developed) so in theory it would not be necessary to develop 100% of the infrastructure from scratch. A nation could simply write a big check to SpaceX for some of it. However it’s a lot more than a launch vehicle. The spacecraft (esp. lunar lander), simulators, training, mission control, etc would all require funding and development.
It might be possible to do a stripped down crewed lunar program more cheaply than Apollo but it would still be very expensive. There is also the safety factor. There were US plans to use modified Gemini spacecraft to reach the moon by 1966 or 1967 but it would likely have been more dangerous than Apollo.
Okay, good points.
But China and Russia have landed objects on the moon, right? How much MORE expensive/difficult is it to get a guy up there? I imagine current Russian missile technology has enough “oomph” to carry the necessary payload, and has for a long time, right?
$1B is just the start. According to this resource, the entire Apollo program cost $109B (expressed in 2010 dollars). To be fair, this covered 18 flights, but if they had only done one flight it would have cost far more than 1/18 of that amount.
I would not imagine any nation starting today could put a man on the moon for less than $20B.
I would imagine that it’s far, far, far more expensive to get a living person to the moon and back than to get an inanimate object to the moon.
Also don’t forget that Mars looks more appealing than the moon just now.
It’s a lot harder to do than folks seem to think. As you noted it’s also very expensive. Hell, even putting rovers on the moon and getting them to work for very long has been challenging. But several countries are looking to do it in the next decade or so. I think folks saying that it’s simply about bragging rights are missing the potential economic advantages (let alone scientific ones) of putting people up there. I think that will be the basis of the next wave of human exploration of the moon…looking for a longer term base, examining the potential for in situ resource gathering and use, looking at potential economic exploitation and for scientific use.
Not really. The Saturn-V could launch 140 tons into low earth orbit. That’s what it takes to land 2 people on the Moon and return them back safely. The Soviet Union did build big rockets, the N1, capable of lifting 95 tons into low earth orbit, but it never flew successfully. Their moon lander would have carried only 1 person.
The Soviet Union did eventually develop a more powerful rocket, the Energia, but that was in the last days of the Soviet Union, and only 2 were launched.
Currently the most powerful operational Russian rocket is the Proton which can only lift 23 tons into low earth orbit. And most other heavy-lift rockets are comparable - China’s most powerful operational rocket (Long March 5) can lift 25 tons, Europe (Ariane 5) 21 tons, Japan 17 tons, etc. You can see the whole list here. Currently, nobody has an operational rocket that could land a person on the Moon and return him/her safely back. US (NASA, SpaceX and Blue Origin) and China are developing such rockets, but nobody else I know of.
Scientific use? Sure. Economic exploitation? Nah. The moon is not made of either cheese or gold. There is a significant amount of helium-3, but how much do we really need? And how much are we willing to spend lifting stuff to and from the moon? Most of the other minerals there are common on earth. You might have some rare-earths and you could scrounge for platinum from meteor impacts, but in our lifetime, mining the moon is not economically viable. Asteroids might be a different story. Mars could be interesting. The moon though? The best you’re going to get out of that is a McMurdo Station type of place where scientists hang out isolated for a couple of years doing experiments before coming home.
A lot. Don’t forget, you have to be able to get them back as well. And keep them alive during the journey both ways.
As some motivational speaker mentioned at a seminar once - “Who was the second person to fly solo across the Atlantic?” (The answer may surprise you). Everyone knows Charles Lindbergh did it first. Once it had been proven - who cares?
We don’t even have the valid motives to put humans in orbit at this point - most satellite delivery is automated, and technology and the cost of humans in orbit is such that it’s cheaper to put up a new satellite than to repair an old one… so far.
It’s extremely expensive and there would be no point in doing so, because being to the Moon “first” kind of took away bragging rights. There is little glory in being 2nd to the Moon, and being there doing…what?
If a country like China or Russia wants prestige, they should beat America to Mars. That would get even bigger bragging rights.
The cost of getting back isn’t that big a deal for a Moon mission: You can get a couple of people off the surface of the Moon in a rocket the size of a car. Which does add “a rocket the size of the car” to the list of things (life support, experiments, the astronauts themselves, etc.) that you need to get onto the surface, but it could be a lot worse. Like, say, Mars, where the size of the needed rocket is much greater (though still not as big as for getting off of Earth).
Yeah, didn’t Obama say we’d be on Mars by mid-2030s? My thought is if we send people there, they’re not going to be there a couple days and bug out of there, it’d be an extended stay. Are we gonna try doing an extended stay on Mars, when we haven’t even done it on the moon?
I’m not saying we’re not going to to make it to Mars in the 2030’s, but it seems like some milestones on the moon are gonna have to happen first that we haven’t even tried. Certainly it’s in the U.S’s best interest to hit Mars first. We’re not going to do that on the back of China’s moon stuff.