Are we really going to the Moon and Mars?

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Will the Fat Boy stay OOP?

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Well-Known Member
Oct 30, 2003
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Are we really going to the Moon and Mars?

Light hearted but serious.
I voted im not sure. Does Bush want to? I think so. High on his list? Probably no.. High on the kist for the next president (be it kerry or bush again) probably still no. However, if either does want to do it, they could get it done. It's all in what they want to do with it.
I believe we will, IF Bush gets re-elected. Based on what I've been reading at spaceref, nasawatch, and some other sites (the internet is the only place for good space news), it's actually much higher on his priority list than most people give him credit for.

W is more of a "space guy" than anyone thought. He seems to believe that human exploration is at its core a good thing. However, he also thought NASA had become a national embarrassment - which is why he never visited JSC as Gov. of Texas. O'Keefe, under Bush's direction, is already doing a lot to reform the agency.

Bush is apparently willing to veto the '05 budget if it doesn't include his full request for Project Constellation. The way they're going about funding it is very reasonable, IMHO. A little extra the next few years for development, then shut down the shuttle and ISS when construction is finished. Once that happens, all of that money goes to Constellation. And there is a good chance that private launch services will play a major role.

Sen. Kerry would likely maintain the status quo - more of the aimlessness of the 80s & 90s. This is not based on whether or not I like the guy, but entirely on what he's been saying ever since W's announcement last winter.

If NASA is to continue literally flying in circles, shut it down and turn it all over to the private sector. The next five-to-ten years will be a pivotal time for human spaceflight.
With 11 votes so far it seems to be a fairly broad spectrum of opinion. I tried to keep the poll neutral but it is weighted slightly towards the sarcastic.
Hate to be the pessimist but I don't think we're going back to the moon, or anyplace else, other than low-earth orbit, in the next 50 - 100 years.

People tend to put going to the moon into the "been there, done that" category with the implication that doing it again would therefore be easy.

It's not easy.

It's really, really, really, really, really, really, really, hard.

That's what made it such an incredible feat.

Today we don't have the equipment or the national will to repeat that kind of effort.

A space agency that won't even service the Hubble telescope, because the lack of a rescue option makes it too dangerous, isn't going back to the moon.

And going to Mars? Way, way, way, way, way, way, harder than going to the moon.

Maybe it will happen, but I'm not optimistic.

The only thing I can reasonably see happening to change the dynamic is if the Chinese build a moon-capable booster.

That might get our competitive juices flowing again. ;)
I'm all for healthy skepticism, but isn't that overly pessimistic?

I would say a country that can go from it's first manned flight to landing on the moon in about seven years can certainly do it again, and I submit that it would be easier this time. We're not starting from scratch and we don't have to rebuild the Saturn V to do it (though I really, REALLY wish we would :D ).

We know so much more about materials, electronics, and on-orbit construction now than we did 40 years ago. The calculator in my briefcase has more computing power than the Apollo CSM did.

I do agree that we'll never get anywhere unless NASA is reformed from top to bottom. That is apparently going on right now, but they're a long way from finished.

Finally, don't discount private industry. I seriously believe we are on the cusp of another "barnstormer" era, and who knows in what direction that'll push things.
Unfortunately, manned spaceflight has only ever been carried out for reasons of national prestige. There's no other purpose to it that anyone in power cares about. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of it myself, but I don't think there's a big enough, solid enough reason for the people in positions of power to care about.
I think the next big step will possibly be mining asteroids, because it has a purpose, a possible benefit

Is there a need to go to the moon?mabey in the distant future, but if we do it again is there a need for humans to go to the surface? probably not .we know we can if we need to, thats all that matters for the time being. We are in the age of, a probe can do the same job and probably for a longer duration without putting a human in jepardy...( tho I would go in a heartbeat)

I don't see the purpose of putting a person on mars, I think we know enough about that planet to explore something else,, mabey a few more probes will find something worthwhile there

as far as having humans in space , the space station sorta takes care of that need for now
I didn't vote for it but now that I think about it, the itty bitty robots may very well be the answer to all these problems.
The space station serves no useful purpose. Just having men in space is not a reason unto itself, except for experience in long-duration flight. And if you have no intention of moving beyond earth-orbit, then why bother? We actually have to be doing something.

Why go to the moon? 1. Exploit resources like Helium-3 (debatable, but there you have it). 2. Observatories on the far side could be even more productive than Hubble or the next-gen Webb telescope. 3. Gain the experience we need to go on to Mars.

Why go to Mars? 1. It is very likely that water once flowed on Mars, and may still exist beneath the surface. 2. Water means life could've very well existed (maybe still does underground?)
3. Robots CANNOT DO IT ALL, don't delude yourselves. One well-trained human can be so much more productive than a 'droid that only does what it's equipped and programmed for.

Sorry but I really, really hate the robots vs. humans argument. It's not either-or. It's "what is the best combination of both"?
Actually I was sort of joking with that response, and I think Zippy was somewhat joking by listing it as a choice. If you notice it is the one choice that really doesn't answer the question. :)
Joke or no joke, it's the solution that answers a lot of scientist's requirements.

We need an answer to the question "What's on Mars that is worth risking lives to find out?"
I really hate to say it, but I don't think it'll happen. I voted no, insufficient budget so it doesn't matter who's in power, but that's not quite how I feel. What I reall mean is, I don't think any leader will allocate enough of their budget.

But make no mistake, I really do want it to happen. And I want the facilities to be large enough, with a lage enough crew on site, to justify the Canadian Space Agency participating, and sending me as an on-site crew psychologist. :D
Hell, I'd go as on-site dogs body.

P.S. Have you read Read/Green/Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson? I like the psychologist in that series.
I voted no for the simple reason that I don't believe NASA is up to the task. Yes, the political backing is stronger than its been for years. But NASA has what I believe to be insurmountable problems, and I don't mean technologically. To succeed, NASA would essentially have to deconstruct itself, cast off a whole lot of baggage, bring in a lot of highly talented and highly motivated fresh blood, change its attitude (this isn't window dressing, we're really trying to do something here...we need qualified people)...essentially start over from scratch. At the same time, it needs to retain those who hold the corporate knowledge of how to succeed. I doubt they could even separate the wheat from the chaff at this point.

If we're to go anywhere, I'm putting my money on the private guys.
Originally posted by Zippy

Oh, yeah?!?

[flame] 1101010111010001010101001100101011110110101101010010101010101011101![/flame]


Originally posted by Zippy

Setec Astronomy.

But to answer your question, it depends on who you mean by "we". Someone will. "The meek shall inheret the Earth. The rest will go to the stars." Sadly, the vast majority of people who have the power to make it happen appear to fall into the "meek" category.
Originally posted by Zippy

interesting point... however flippant your response, the fact of the matter is.... that we ( people of 3rd rock) need a major event to nudge us and technology to the next level.

Corporate giants are not going to spend the huge amounts of money needed to spawn the next 20 years of development, unless they have some huge governmental Carrot hanging out there.

Some people have the vision, to make that happen... how... setting a lofty goal... for us as a nation to achieve... lots of folks say that it will be one huge waste of money (today) to develop the technologies that will carry us through this century... well... imagine yourself with todays technology stagnated 40 years from now... is that what we really want?

I myself WANT that cerebrial implant 100 googlebit MP3 player!! know what i mean??

Originally posted by jerryb
interesting point... however flippant your response, the fact of the matter is.... that we ( people of 3rd rock) need a major event to nudge us and technology to the next level.

- snip lots of good thoughts -

You're right that private corporations currently have neither the means nor the incentive to go it alone at present (excepting the current push toward suborbital tourism). However, although government has the means, it lacks sufficient focus and incentive to sustain a long term program like this. In the long run, I fully expect the private guys will be driving the train as they find more and more reasons to go there. You make a valid point about needing a major event to push us to the next level. What often happens is that one of two types of events occur that spur innovation. The first is a technological breakthrough that kicks off a cascade of other breakthroughs and spinoff technologies. The second is a political or cultural event - such as a war or threat to stability such as that generated by Sputnik - that requires a response. Private industry tends to respond to the first type of event. Government tends to respond to the second. Innovation in private industry tends to be gradual and profit driven. Innovation in government tends to be driven by response to cataclysmic events.

What I'd like to see is a new type of partnership develop between government and industry, where government absorbs much of the risk and cost of R&D and transitions new technologies to industry for refinement and engineering development. Doing this across the board - not just for space - could prove to be a powerful engine for continuous advancement of technology. In principal, some government labs are supposed to be doing exactly that (I worked in one of these labs). In practice, the relationship between government and industry is often hostile...especially in the R&D realm. In my view, this can and must change.