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Artist concept of a base on the Moon. Credit: NASA, via Wikipedia

Op-Ed: Lunar Twitter — Republicans Debate Manned Moon Base

Article Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

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Editor’s note – Bruce Dorminey, science journalist and author of Distant Wanderers: The search for Planets beyond the Solar System, is a lifelong proponent of lunar exploration.

Newt Gingrich certainly has his own political motives for suddenly deciding that now is the time to see that the decades-long dream of a lunar base finally makes it to fruition. But in addressing the issue of the U.S.’ future role in space, he arguably gave the most informed answer of anyone on stage at Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate in Jacksonville, Florida.

Mitt Romney’s measured response of first consulting with an interdisciplinary group of academics, captains of industry and the military, seemed to leave out NASA itself. But he was right in acknowledging that whatever the country’s next move in manned spaceflight might be, it should be tempered with some realistic rate of commercial and industrial return on America’s investment.

Gingrich seems better versed in the hardware and specifics of what’s needed for a manned return to the moon. But Romney’s admonition to Gingrich about making politically-expedient campaign promises simply to placate Florida’s Spacecoast also rings true.

While it’s heartening that America’s future role in space is being discussed in such high profile public forums, the last thing the U.S. needs is for a presidential candidate to wantonly raise the issue of finally realizing the dream of a manned lunar base in a cynical attempt to lure Florida voters in the space industry.

But given the current level of private space entrepreneurship, Romney’s own admonition that a lunar base would likely cost hundreds of billions of dollars seems a bit out of touch.
While it’s true that the international space station turned into a $100 billion financial behemoth, Gingrich’s ideas about adapting existing Atlas V launcher technology for a return manned trip to the moon sounds interesting, if not altogether feasible.

And he struck the right note when he acknowledged the need for entrepreneurial involvement from the get-go. A public-private partnership, with emphasis on commercial technology spin-offs, might be the needed tonic to restart a serious lunar effort.

A few $50 million prizes for Moon-minded, space entrepreneurs would go a long way in jumpstarting innovation while bringing down costs.

Depiction of possible Lunar Base. Credit: NASA


This whole manned lunar colony issue is likely to be largely forgotten after next Tuesday’s Florida primary, but some version of it will come up again at this summer’s political conventions and again in the general election debates next Fall.

Let’s just hope that when it does, it prompts a national discussion on NASA’s role in the 21st century; and how in these financially-strapped times, the U.S. can mount a manned mission back to the Moon, to an asteroid or even on to Mars in a realistic way.

There also needs to be a serious rethink of how NASA selects and then funds its missions. As any science journalist can attest, too often whole NASA missions are scrapped only months before launch; or launches are rescheduled so many times that the space agency begins to lose credibility with its own proponents. Just who’s to ultimately blame for the current state of affairs is hard to pinpoint. But serious astronomers and space researchers can hardly be thrilled about how such projects are currently funded and implemented.

Unfortunately, the general public is largely out of the loop when it comes to understanding the vagaries of NASA funding. The public’s limited exposure to national space policy nowadays mostly comes in the form of politicians on the campaign stump. There, political candidates use the same hackneyed catchphrases about exploring our “final frontier” just a little too often to evoke any real goosebumps.

But if the U.S. is to maintain its national identity as the world’s premier technological power, it needs to make sure that space is part of that equation. The byproducts of its dot.com generation and social media gurus are a marvel. But a Twitter from a South Pole lunar base would inspire the world.

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NoAstronomer
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NoAstronomer
January 27, 2012 2:29 PM

If the IIS cost $100 billion I don’t see how you could possibly construct a base on the moon, even using ‘cheap’ Atlas launchers, for anything less. And almost certainly more. A lot more.

Mike.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
January 28, 2012 2:21 AM

ISS was more expensive than a space station had to be, too…

Tony Darnell
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Tony Darnell
January 27, 2012 2:33 PM
This piece is brilliant and echoes my feelings exactly. Ever since George W. Bush’s ridiculous attempts at making JFK-like ‘challenges’ to NASA to get to blah-blah-blah by such-and-such, and then walked away from the podium and proceeded to give NASA less money, I get infuriated because all these idiots do is set the stage for NASA to fail. Democrats aren’t immune from this criticism either, Bill Clinton did it with Mars. It’s nothing short of miraculous that NASA does what it does each year on less money than we spend on air conditioning in Iraq, and no one wants moon bases more than I do, but standing on a stage and saying ‘just do it NASA’ striking your… Read more »
Kawarthajon
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Kawarthajon
January 27, 2012 4:03 PM
I agree with your comments. I would add that putting a station on the moon would likely take vital money away from really important science projects at NASA – like the successors to Kepler, Curiosity, Hubble, JWST, STEREO, and so on. What about a robotic mission to Titan or Europa? How about a space telescope bigger and better than Hubble? Why is NASA wasting valuable funding on the Space Station, when it does very little for science but costs huge amounts of cash? To what end? I also want to ask the question: does the $100 billion price tag for the Space Station include transportation costs too and from? According to Wikipedia, the total cost of the Shuttle… Read more »
Chetan Chauhan
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Chetan Chauhan
January 28, 2012 5:04 AM

When you find a terrestrial planet ~10light years out , What the hell are you going to do next ?
Just gazing at it isn’t going to get you there.
But spending on human exploration and the resulting spinoffs through serious research on nuclear propulsion and other tech which is required to propel humans into the solar system , WILL lead us to a way to get there when the time comes.
Also a Lunar base isn’t about “sending people somewhere new”. It’s about actually exploring whats IN the moon which is just a cosmic “stone’s throw” away and in our gravitational plane compared to Mars or some asteroid.

postman1
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postman1
January 28, 2012 9:48 PM

It’s also about getting off this rock before the next mass extinction. Orbital stations, Lunar surface, Martian surface and moons, asteroids, other moons, or anywhere.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
January 27, 2012 2:37 PM

Do your homework. Newt Gingrich has been a strong advocate of space exploration for decades. Romney, unfortunately, gave the stereotypical politician’s answer: we need a committee to study that.

Whether or not you care for Newt’s politics, you have to admire him for not backing down. Besides, Newt is right. It’s time for bold thinking to get this country out of its current economic slump. A true expansion into space including the mining of materials from the moon and asteroids will lead to a new American renaissance. We can think big again and lead the way or sit back and watch China, and continue our decline.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
January 27, 2012 4:54 PM

A true expansion into space including the mining of materials from the moon and asteroids will lead to a new American renaissance.

Perhaps. But how do you answer Musk when he notes that mining resources will always be cheaper closer to the market and in the most accommodating environments (Earth vs space)?

If you have a space research station/tourist industry like on Antarctica or in the oceans today, maybe mining will make sense for local use someday. But so far none of the latter environments have been mined at all. That doesn’t seem promising.

postman1
Member
postman1
January 27, 2012 6:33 PM

I believe I have read that the main drawback to mining the oceans or Antarctica is environmental concerns. I wouldn’t think that would be a viable argument against Lunar mining. I would advocate Lunar surface mining and processing, combined with orbiting factories, building products needed for further expansion into the solar system. I only wish I would live long enough to see it.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
January 28, 2012 2:13 AM

“I believe I have read that the main drawback to mining the oceans or Antarctica is environmental concerns.”

Antarctica is also off-limits for mining by treaty, which won’t be up for review again until 2041…

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
January 27, 2012 6:48 PM

Shipping common materials back to Earth would not make sense. Mining exotic materials, worth many times their weight in gold, such as Helium 3, does.

I agree that tourism should play a part. I also think there should be some accommodations made to settlement. Although not like Earth, the Moon is an entire world, waiting to be explored. Remote sensing doesn’t tell us everything. There will most certainly be other discoveries of value.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
January 28, 2012 2:10 AM

“Shipping common materials back to Earth would not make sense. Mining exotic materials, worth many times their weight in gold, such as Helium 3, does.”

That, again, depends on what those transportation costs are. And there is no commercial use for Helium-3 at this time…or anytime soon.

“I agree that tourism should play a part. I also think there should be some accommodations made to settlement.”

Moving people in one or both directions also depends on fairly low cost Lunar access.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
January 28, 2012 2:26 PM
Thank you, it seems we agree on the basics then. But what is it with the continuing fascination within the space community for a scifi MacGuffin plot device? Unobtainium, excuse me He-3, is completely worthless for fusion as far as I know, and I don’t think the fusion community entertains the idea of actually being able to use it. With D/He-3 reactions you would have to increase containment temperatures 2 orders of magnitude to get anywhere near a worthwhile efficiency, and it would still cost you an order of magnitude less energy produced. (See the graph.) If you recoup that energy by producing anything between ~ 1000 – 10 more fusion plants for the ones currently proposed,* you… Read more »
ProfMOZ
Member
ProfMOZ
January 28, 2012 8:50 PM

LENR is a fact. DARPA has confirmed the experiments and results.
Hot fusion, on the other hand, has produced NOTHING in terms of excess energy… and Billions have been sunk into such projects.
It seems that some scientists have profited to keep the idea of hot fusion alive for the stupid politicians to get their budgets renewed, and while doing that they have lied and spread misinformation about their (much smarter) colleagues.
LENR could provide plenty of energy to supply a moon-base with energy needed for all kinds of technical and scientific applications…

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
January 28, 2012 11:13 PM

Egads. I had never heard of LENR before, but it is cold fusion pathological science. Of course, no experiments, or it wouldn’t be pathological. Sigh.

Tokamaks have achieved all necessary criteria for break even in single machines (giving excess energy), even if they didn’t do them simultaneously.

Break even isn’t the problem, the problem is providing the tritium fuel.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
January 28, 2012 2:07 AM

“But how do you answer Musk when he notes that mining resources will always be cheaper closer to the market and in the most accommodating environments (Earth vs space)?”

That depends on the value of the resource and the quality of your resource extraction technology (both of which will dictate how challenging an environment you can function profitably in),and the transportation costs of bringing it to users.

(After all, oil drilling in deep water, the Alaskan North Slope, or Middle Eastern deserts isn’t easy either, but we take it for granted….and we don’t go there to fuel our cars. Ship/rail/truck tankers bring it to us, obviously cost-effectively.)

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
January 28, 2012 2:14 PM

I was thinking of oil & gas drilling, but as you say deep ocean drilling is still under development. I don’t think it is tested whether it is actually affordable as of yet.

I grant the rest in principle, but it doesn’t really answer Musk on practice, seeing that we propose something for space that isn’t even the case on Earth, the presumably easier and cheaper environments to handle.

ProfMOZ
Member
ProfMOZ
January 28, 2012 8:41 PM

It would be a bit like with oil production…
at first raw oil was what oil companies transported to the refineries in the US and Europe, but more and more refineries are build in the producing countries…

Anything mined in the solar system has to be converted into useful and economically movable goods.

A moonbase must be self sustainable.

I am with Elon Musk, as his vision is for us to become a space-faring civilization!
Not in hundred years, but NOW.

Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
January 28, 2012 10:36 PM

The only commodity which we can get from space now that might be economically viable is solar power. This is the only prospect for space industry and maybe eventually habitats in space as things exist now.

LC

Eric E
Member
Eric E
January 27, 2012 10:33 PM

Newt doesn’t exactly have a record of consistency or fidelity

mrbill
Member
January 27, 2012 3:42 PM
Thankfully this insanity will not be realized for many years to come, if ever. The notion of putting man on the moon and on mars will be hotly contested by astrobiologists concerned with contamination of those environments. The robotics supporters internal to NASA will be appalled at what they will consider wasted funding for their own more economical missions. Bruce correctly points out that the political factions in the United States concerned with the debt crisis and government minarchism will not support a hugely expensive federal lunar space. As the space shuttle and space stations decisions have made abundantly clear the chances are very good that a manned lunar base or mars missions (the assumed agenda – “next… Read more »
Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
January 27, 2012 4:47 PM

The notion of putting man on the moon and on mars will be hotly contested by astrobiologists concerned with contamination of those environments.

Perhaps, but I have studied astrobiology and no one has to my knowledge made much beef over it. As long as experiments and crafts have a tolerable threshold against contamination noise, astrobiologists should be happy.

Maybe you are thinking of possibility of transpermia. Assuming it works, unless the background transpermia rate is high, one can always sort out novel transpermia event from divergence times.

But the surface is highly sterilizing, so I bet there is no such issue. Even better if Mars already has a buried, adapted, biosphere, then migrating unadapted species will have stiff competition.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
January 28, 2012 2:20 AM

“The notion of putting man on the moon and on mars will be hotly contested by astrobiologists concerned with contamination of those environments.”

No one seems terribly worried where the Moon is concerned, anymore. I don’t think Lunar probes are now made any cleaner than required by engineering practice, and only the first few Apollo landing crews were isolated on return…

We should be concerned about forward and back contamination where Mars is concerned. But if there’s any Earth organism that can survive on the Moon, as far as I’m concerned, it’s welcome to it…

Clark Lindsey
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Clark Lindsey
January 27, 2012 4:27 PM
ULA has several papers about exploration architectures with Atlas V and fuel depots on its website. See the Exploration section on the page http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/pages/Education_PublishedPapers.shtml. The paper “A Commercially Based Lunar Architecture”, for example, explains that for deep space missions, “75% of all the mass lifted to low earth orbit is merely propellant with no intrinsic value”. So rather than building a super-heavy lifter, multiple launches of currently available rockets like the Atlas V can be used to fill depots. Economies of scale from a high flight rate will lower the cost of such rockets. I’ll note that competition among launch providers (e.g. ULA, SpaceX, Blue Origin, etc) also will push down costs. Other users of such rockets, e.g.… Read more »
Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
January 27, 2012 4:36 PM
While it never comes to fruition, it is also interesting to see how NASA and collaborators see pathways forward under the current policies. The current Flexible Path points to Mars missions to cap the expanded exploration and technology envelope. Since it is a bit confusing I may as well sum up my take on what they look at. On the pathway outwards, they propose a temporary Exploration Test Module that could be assembled at the ISS under international collaboration. (Note the JAXA presentation!) The ETM will later be unattached and through a series of automatic and manned deep space missions develop deep space capabilities such as radiation shielding and life support. The ETM will later be replaced by… Read more »
Peter
Member
Peter
January 28, 2012 4:52 PM

Please Torbjorn, ease up on the acronyms! (See last paragraph). Remember, most of us are here out of a general interest as opposed to some manic need to incorporate everything herein written into our deepest psyche.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
January 28, 2012 10:55 PM

I don’t like using acronyms either, but it is convenient and I always give the explicit or linked reference.

Why would NASA possibilities not be of general interest when discussing space policies and opportunities? I usually lack this background, and was pleased to find it and being able to share. If you don’t want to read it, don’t read it.

some manic need to incorporate everything herein written into our deepest psyche.

OK, someone needs to have a talk with a shrink. It sounds like a fascinating theory on human behavior. Not very scientific, I have never heard of it before, but at the very least ironically self-referencing.

mastercope
Member
mastercope
January 27, 2012 10:47 PM

And I will say again let the science be done by NASA, and of course the robotic missions, leave the manned missions to Private, ie: SpaceX,, if there is a chance for money to be made private will git’er done.

Olaf
Member
Olaf
January 28, 2012 12:51 AM

Never listen to what politicians say, always look at what they do.
So did NASA got extended the money that Obama promised after he killed human flight?

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
January 28, 2012 1:59 AM

The only thing that died was Constellation, not ‘human (space?) flight.’ You proceed from a false assumption, if you equate the two. Unfortunately, many do.

The real question is, why did the NASA Commercial Crew Program (a *manned* program) get only about half of the $800 million requested, through Congress?

Insufficient pork in certain states/districts, perhaps?

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
January 28, 2012 2:05 PM
You would make more of a case discussing space if you did that on a basis of supportable fact. – It was the Bush administration that “killed” the then US manned internal space capability of the STS. Obama’s administration had perhaps 1-2 months to reverse that after entering office, but it is unlikely that the already stopped assembly lines could have been used for producing more STS at the time. – Obama’s administration allowed the extension of STS. (One more, science essential, flight.) – Constellation was killed because it was unaffordable, not because the administration took a stance. An independent commission (The Augustine commission) repurposed that into the current Flexible Path, which has the goal to get US… Read more »
Olaf
Member
Olaf
January 28, 2012 3:58 PM

I also know the facts that what NASA gets from budget is peanuts compared to the war industry.

It is nuts to talk about the cost of the space program while you spend wasting 5,500 % of it more on war.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
January 28, 2012 10:48 PM

When you move the goal posts like that, it makes us wonder why you don’t move them out in space while you are at it. It seems so meaninglessly easy.

Olaf
Member
Olaf
January 28, 2012 11:16 PM
What I pointed out was that there is more than enough money for NASA not to cancel Constellation. And keep the shuttles operational until they had a alternative. Also my experiences is that politicians like to promise anything like more funding for NASA over many years only to discover years later that they never gave that money. Right now they are sponsoring the Russian engineers in Russia while this same money could haven been used to keep US engineers from unemployment. How many patents will the US now lose because no engineer created new technology while American money actually pays for Russian research and give the Russians the new patents? Yes Constellation might not be a good design,… Read more »
Pvt.Pantzov
Member
January 28, 2012 3:32 AM
i watched the debate and laughed at them during this part. neither of them knew anything of the ASTRONOMICAL cost of a potential moon base. do you think that in this time of austerity a project like this would ever get green-lighted by government? for the time being you can forget about the corporate world doing it either. what is the profit incentive? gingrich’s main concern seemed to be that china would get there first. oh heaven forbid! gung hay fat choy newt. romney? romney just seemed confused. another thing that annoyed me is that neither paul nor santorum were asked about it. since the media has already decided that it’s a romney-gingrich race, why bother asking the… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
January 28, 2012 1:28 PM

Commercial space entities can’t finance or logistically mount such an endeavor. A lunar colony would range in the order of tens or hundreds of billions of dollars.

That money could go a long way here on Earth if spent wisely.

Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
January 28, 2012 2:06 PM

Increasingly I suspect the majority of human beings who will ever go into space may have already done so. This might not include those who take these little suborbital joyrides with so called space tourism, only to be enjoyed by the very affluent. Yet that sort of space Disneyland might only last a couple of decades.

LC

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
January 28, 2012 1:52 PM

I don’t see why anyone would bother to ask Santorum on, well, anything.

Granted that all these guys are anti-science, evangelistic creationists as they are in their official capacity, supporting creationist education (with the potential exception of the silent fundamentalist Romney).

But Santorum is known for the evangelist of santorum. He is frothing mad around affairs of society. :-/

Yes, fair and balanced for the politicians, unfair and unbalanced for the suffering public. I can read about the Mad Hatter in novels, thank you.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
January 28, 2012 4:24 AM
What everyone – including the Republican candidates – seems to be ignoring is that there is no economic gain to warrant giving a proposed moon base any serious thought. Aside from its intrinsic scientific value for studying organisms in low gravity, extreme environments, what is the point? Another merit badge to polish? When a former superpower such as the US has a seemingly insurmountable national debt and ever climbing deficit, how does a moon base help fix it? With rampant unemployment, an ongoing housing crisis, and a failing economy, what does having a base on the moon offer? Nothing, sad to say. Human space exploration (and by that I mean MANNED exploration, not remote) is crawling to a… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
January 28, 2012 4:26 AM
What everyone – including the Republican candidates – seems to be ignoring is that there is no economic gain to warrant giving a proposed moon base any serious thought. Aside from its intrinsic scientific value for studying organisms in low gravity, extreme environments, what is the point? Another merit badge to polish? When a former superpower such as the US has a seemingly insurmountable national debt and ever climbing deficit, how does a moon base help fix it? With rampant unemployment, an ongoing housing crisis, and a failing economy, what does having a base on the moon offer? Nothing, sad to say. Human space exploration (and by that I mean MANNED exploration, not remote) is crawling to a… Read more »
Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
January 28, 2012 1:46 PM
There is no sign that human space exploration “is crawling to a bitter end”. Astronauts are launched with an unprecedented rate, and now on a continued and expanding (China!) international basis. Science and industry is not based on the false choice fallacy (how could they be?) but are capitalizing businesses. Capital spent is making more capital, every science & industry is supporting the rest for higher gains. Space science: – Exploring the Moon is positively vital to understand how the Earth-Moon system came about! – By extension, understanding our own planet formation is vital to understanding formation of terrestrials. – By extension, understanding terrestrial formation is vital to understanding abiogenesis and habitability potentials of exoplanets. – The Moon… Read more »
Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
January 28, 2012 2:29 PM
The Chinese space effort mirrors the cold war in a way. It is their intention to demonstrate their ability to manage space and maybe in the post ISS phase to claim a monopoly of manned spaceflight. This will be particularly the case if they can plant new Taikonaut footprints, descent modules and Chinese flags on the moon. This will be their demonstration to the world that they are now the primary world power. The US/USSR space race was meant to make the same point to the world. The Chinese may then do much the same as the US did. The expense of the program and the internal socio-economic strains in their nation (already quite considerable today) may force… Read more »
Julian Sloop
Guest
Julian Sloop
January 28, 2012 4:18 PM

Icrowell, do you think that this is possible? I’m not being sarcastic. Does china have the resources to dominate the space race? I do not know squat about the Chinese economy.

Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
January 28, 2012 4:53 PM
China might be able to do this. If they do it might only last a decade or two. Europe is on the verge of fragmenting, which could put ESA down or out of commission, and I have little positive outlook for the United States — I think this nation is on a slow multi-decade slide with repeated hard recessions towards a neo-3rd world status. So China might in the 2020-2040 period come to be the primary space power, until they screw up. George Orwell penned the Chinese economy perfectly in “Animal Farm,” where at the end the pigs (communist leaders) and farmers (the capitalists) are playing cards while the rest of the animals look on. A brilliant prophesy.… Read more »
Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
January 28, 2012 10:44 PM

Julian, China is projected to be the world’s largest economical power ~ 2016.

For good measure, US contributes to that by not financing their expenditures under the current conservative policies, burning their candle in both ends as it were. (Makes you wonder what they want to “conserve”!?) And China has bought up a dragon share of their debts.

Lawrence, Europe has been on the verge of fragmenting for centuries, and EU has been on the verge of fragmenting since it started. Same for US, Texas wants to secede every other year. Yet all of them remain. I wouldn’t worry unduly.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
January 28, 2012 10:36 PM
I don’t like to play the historical and political game since there is so little of observable facts in it. It is of little interest on what was happening, is happening or will happen. Here I can only note that the US/USSR space race had different motivation than China has today, in part because they have been sealed off from ISS participation due to the remains of remaining military “space race” concerns. The China space white paper reiterates their official concerns, which are markedly different from what US stated during the cold war/space race. I would think that is sufficient. Unless one wants to entertain conspiracy theories, which are of even less interest to most people than the… Read more »
Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
January 29, 2012 2:05 AM
“Declare victory and pull out” was advice given by a senator during the Vietnam War. In a sense that was what was done, though it would a stretch to say the US won the Vietnam war — in fact and truth we lost. The whole point of manned spaceflight is a show of national prowess. The ISS is similar, for it is a type of space diplomacy system in space. Now there is this sense of loss with the cancellation of the shuttle program. The Gingrich speech had all the earmarks of a call to restore national pride in space. The Chinese are pursing the same goal, where they will probably have a functioning space station with a… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
January 28, 2012 5:40 PM
Your sentiments are noble and to be sure, grounded in truth. Nevertheless, you didn’t address the key question: what about a moon base makes money? Talking of fallacies, how many people do you know who would be willing to take not only the risk, but the hit to their bank account just to visit a small science station on the moon? The tourist market for space travel appeals to less than 1/100th of 1% of the global population, because until it is affordable, and until it is as safe as flying to Europe from North America, it’s always going to be the domain of the rich and of thrill seekers. As to manned space exploration not dying out,… Read more »
Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
January 28, 2012 10:25 PM

I thought I did address what of space (as of yet) makes money explicitly: space habitats such as ISS sustain science and tourism, both of which have given monetary returns.

I don’t think estimates of risk willingness such as Musk amount to a known fallacy, people take risks and we can measure it.

I am not going to reiterate what I said of on the observably expanding manned space presence.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
January 28, 2012 10:14 PM
Have U lately checked out how much $$$$$ have been sunk into the military? Compare that to the other unproductive government agency, NASA! “Wait and see if we can afford it” has never been a smart move, especially not in these times. In order to go to the moon and set up a base technology has to be perfected and/or developed… which in itself is a motor for new innovation-jobs-and advancement. If we go interplanetary, bases must be self sufficient, which means nothing short of using all the resources of the ‘land’ to survive. The next step are colonies, where commercial enterprises set-up industries to produce whatever is needed, to pay for and make a profit of the… Read more »
Luis
Guest
Luis
January 28, 2012 7:21 AM

That wud be decent

ProfMOZ
Member
ProfMOZ
January 28, 2012 8:31 PM
Even though ,Ii am not a Gingrich fan, I think a goal, such as a permanent moon base will have many positive effects for science and technology, plus a drive in education, all of which is needed to give the US (and the world) direction. With the beginning of commercial space transport the cost would be comparatively low when comparing it to the per capita cost of the Apollo Program and the Space-Shuttle era. WE humans need a vision… just like the one Kennedy had, even though the motivation for the program was different and the risks were very high. Still, Apollo was the most daring and successful program. Why we waited 40 years + to try again… Read more »
Astrostevo
Member
Astrostevo
January 29, 2012 5:46 AM

Newt Gingrich is a horrible person – but his excellent, Moonbase speech and pro-NASA pro-space policy means that if I were American, I’d be very strongly considering holding my nose and voting for him to become President. It is *so* important to our future that I think it outweighs a great deal else.

I’m very disappointed by Romney’s Trump-imitation dismissal of Newton Gingrich’es visionary plan & will never forgive Obama for killing the Bush Luanr return plan just as it was finally starting to, quite literally, take off.

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