John Glenn Speaks Out Against Future Moon Base

Article written: 1 Aug , 2008
Updated: 26 Apr , 2016
by

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NASA’s first man to orbit the Earth, John Glenn has said a plan to set up a Moon base to facilitate the manned exploration of interplanetary space is a very bad idea. Under the current US government direction, NASA hopes to (eventually) establish the manned outpost for future launches to Mars and beyond, thus avoiding the huge gravity well of the Earth. But Glenn has cited the plan as “questionable,” pointing out that to pack the huge amount of equipment on board the future Ares V rocket will be “enormously expensive.” So what’s the alternative? Build a vehicle in Earth orbit and accelerate it to the Red Planet…

Legendary astronaut and former senator John Glenn isn’t one to keep his opinions to himself, especially when the future of the US space agency is on the line. Back in May, Glenn sent a strong message to Washington: Extend the life of the Shuttle and re-commit to long-term investment in the International Space Station (after all, extending the Shuttle’s lifetime is a bit better than some of the alternatives). His warnings come at a time when there is increased concern about NASA’s “five-year gap” in its ability to ferry astronauts into space from Shuttle decommissioning in 2010 and first scheduled Orion module/Ares rocket launch in 2015. Glenn is not the only ex-astronaut speaking out about NASA’s future. Buzz Aldrin, second man on the Moon and Apollo 11 lunar module pilot, also came forward in June with his worries that NASA will be overtaken by the space efforts of the international community.

So why is John Glenn against the establishment of a lunar base? He was addressing US President George Bush’s vision to set up a Moon base so it can be prepared as a launch pad to further explore space. “It seems to me the moon is questionable as a way station [to Mars],” Glenn said when addressing a congressional committee on July 30th. The hearing was held for a House Science and Technology Committee, in light of NASA’s 50 years of operation and future direction of the agency. “If that’s what we’re doing – which I don’t believe it is – but if that’s what we’re thinking about doing, that is enormously expensive,” he continued. From a financial standpoint, such a lunar outpost will be prohibitively expensive as thousands of tonnes of equipment will need to be launched to the Earth’s only natural satellite.

The alternative would be to build a large space vehicle in Earth orbit and then accelerate it toward Mars, bypassing the need for a lunar outpost. “That to me would be the cheapest way to go,” he added.

Source: Aviation Week


58 Responses

  1. Member

    Apologies – Changed the opening sentence to make it a little more accurate. Instead of “NASA’s first man in space,” read: “NASA’s first man to orbit the Earth”

    Cheers! Ian 🙂

  2. Archer says

    Glenn was NASA’s first man in space?

    Ummm…

  3. Nathan says

    The Moon Will Most Likely Be A Base Some Time In The Future.
    Why Stop Now. & My Tax Money Goes To NASA & I Am Hoping My Tax Money Will Be Part Of NASA Moon Program! I Hope To Live On The Moon Some Day!

  4. Maxwell says

    >>Glenn was NASA’s first man in space?

    …Technically.
    It depends on how you define “space”, otherwise it would be Shepard or Kittenger.

    Personally I think we need a moon base. Theres alot to long term surface operations we have not considered and, because of its distance, mars is a bad place to learn.
    Even with a mars direct plan we will still come back to a moon base because of its proximity and the local resources.

    Its an easier place to start humanities permanent life in space, all things considered.

  5. Max Fagin says

    I’m inclined to agree with Glenn on this one. A moon base is just an unnecessary diversion on the path to Mars.

    The moon has many uses, but a stopover or a training base for the Red Planet is not one of them. In fact, because you can’t aerobrake into lunar orbit, stopping of at the moon to refuel on the way to Mars actually requires MORE fuel than if you just skipped the moon all together.

  6. Ken Murphy says

    Since when is Mars THE GOAL? Did I not get that memo?

    I thought that the Solar system was the goal. When it comes to practicing for that challenge, there is no better place to practice for the challenge than the Moon.

    And of course you wouldn’t launch your deeper space missions (like to Mars, amongst other destinations) from the Moon. You’d do that from EML-1, duh. You’d just be getting parts and supplies from the Moon.

    I am so tired of the “Mars is the goal” meme. It might be your goal, but it most certainly is not mine. I’ll take our beautiful Moon any day.

  7. Kevin F. says

    We’ll need a moon base eventually, might as well hop to it.

    Yet again though, everyone is all up in arms about what to do when we get out there, and not solving the biggest problem – cheap lifting to orbit. Until we can ship lots of girders and struts and workers to orbit safely and cheaply, we ain’t going anywhere fast.

  8. SUGARAT says

    No one said he was the first in space, the author of the article said Glenn was the first to orbit the earth. The other two were launched and recovered without making full orbits.
    The most logical way to build on the moon would be to figure out ways to use the moons resources to build with, then we only have to bring the tools.
    Granted, thats a simple explanation, but I believe we should use it as a guideline when designing the mission. Similar to the trans global explorers of old we need to be able to utilize resources where we travel to in order to survive for any substantial amount of time.
    Run the mission like a construction site on earth; with men there on site(moon) and unmanned deliveries to resupply them with essential life support, and seperate deliveries for the materials used in construction. With the involvement of the entire modern world it should be doable, but not easy(understatement)

  9. Adam says

    John Glenn’s thinking seems to be a little bit the old school: go plant a flag, pretend to do some science and go home. The so called “Vision” is about exploration, not just proving the point “we can do it”. Of course we can do it, even right now, but the last time we did a quick-in-quick-out session on the Moon it brought us a 50 year hiatus in the manned exploration of the Solar system. Let’s not make the same mistake again. Let’s do a thorough job this time. I’m sure lots of people are impatient and are just itching to go to Mars as soon as possible but doing it this way (the way proposed by NASA) is likely to be better in the long run. IMHO.

    Kind regards,
    /Adam

  10. Maxwell says

    Even with the technology of the most advanced thing set to fly this year (the X-37B) and fly return boosters, the cost of leaving earth is still extremely high.
    At that theres nothing in low orbit to build with.

    The moon gives you a safe harbor for housing a long term workforce. If it can be developed, it could become the cheapest source of labor and material in space.

    You can skip the moon if you only plan to go to mars a few times. But I suspect mars fans will want alot more than that.
    …Which would require alot more infrastructure.

  11. Al Hall says

    The moon ‘thing’ is a ruse for us ‘sheep’… For us that don’t know any better…..
    Of course it would be easier for us to go to Mars from Earth orbit -financially- but the goal (in my opinion) is to show the Chinese that “We are here. You can’t annex the moon”.. And also to say to everybody on the planet: “Yep. we’re still number one”.. Its a politics and pride thing… This will go on for a few more decades, I think…
    But hey…It motivates our species to progress, right?.. Yes, it does….

  12. Andrew says

    I think the point of going back to the moon is to test out all our new technology. Once we learn what works and what doesn’t, then we can apply that to future Mars missions (and beyond).

    The moon is more of a testing ground (and a good one at that; nice and close) than a stopover or launching pad.

  13. Archer says

    Awesome, thanks Ian 🙂

  14. Dominion says

    I think Glenn is right. Once again I get to say that we should build in orbit and use the ISS as the platform to build with. Lots of space junk up there to use for parts, too. A moon base would be neat, true, but if we are to go anywhere else in this great solar system, galaxy, or universe of ours then we will need big ships to do it with.

  15. Sci-Fi Si says

    The moon is an important step in humanities exploration of space.

    We can not expect to be able to carry all resources needed to explore space from Earth. The further afield we explore the more fuel we need to lift from Earth and the more expensive the launch.

    As explorers we need to learn to be able to utilise the local resources we have at hand.

    The lunar regolith can be used to build a base (instead of carrying all that material from Earth) the regolith can also be refined to extract Helium3 an abundant Lunar material in comparison to the amount we have here on Earth.

    A Helium3-Helium3 fusion reaction would provide completely clean nuclear fuel. Currently valued at $1 billion USD per tonne.

    Have a look at the moon society website:
    http://www.moonsociety.org

    A lunar base is an essential step in space exploration, the message here is:

    ‘Don’t run before you can walk’

  16. Jon Hanford says

    SUGARAT makes an important point. Use materials found on the moon to fabricate & build necessary habitats & create useful resources. The Japanese lunar exploration effort has studied this concept extensively. Multinational cooperation also plays a large part in this endeavor. Also, meaningful astronomical science is possible using the moon as a platform. Let’s not forget the engineering & technical knowledge gained from lunar activities will be invaluable in future space (including interplanetary) missions. There seems a lot to be gained by going back to the moon.

  17. Afonso says

    Moon bases are inevitable:

    1) moons dark-side, with its 6000km natural shield from earth radio interference, is an unbeatable place for radio astronomy

    2) if water can be mined out of lunar regolith than the cheapest way to go to mars repeatedly is to have Earth-Mars shuttles that are built on earth, fueled-up in moon orbit and then refueled (once per trip) by docking with disposable fuel tankers launched from moon orbit, and restaffed by docking (withou having to decelerate) with man rated earth/moon shuttles.

    3) temporary mankind backup until Mars is terraformed

    But then again the Space Elevator might just render 2) unnecessary.

  18. Yael Dragwyla says

    We need bases and even a colony on the Moon for numerous reasons: Long-term storage of archived cultural treasures, vital economic data, and military data, the archives kept underground where they won’t be affected by solar flares. Remaining at least at par with other space-going nations — sorry, folks, but “it ain’t gonna war no more” is less than a pipe dream, and we’d better get up there, or get edged out. For the same reason, we should at least be able to field some Moon-based kinetic energy weapons, just in case. Then there is the need to rescue as much as possible of Earth’s life before global warming or some other catastrophe wipes most of it out — seeds, computer storage of the information content of genes (not physically, but representationally), tissues frozen in liquid nitrogen, and precious live representatives of kingdoms Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, etc., for company as well as for host mothers and food sources. When the balloon goes up on Earth — a given, because it’s bound to happen in some way, probably sooner rather than later — Earthly *life* and all our cultures and scientific knowledge could still be going strong offworld, and the Moon is the first place to make that happen.

  19. tmayes1999 says

    I am ot opposed to moon base that will
    begin a lunar colony, but it makes no since
    to launch to mars from the moon because
    of the fact that you first have to accelerate
    to 25000 miles per hour to go the moon .
    You also have to accelerate to 25000
    miles per hour to go to mars .
    tim

  20. Carlos says

    I think the travel to Mars is the way to, as with the Shuttle, slow down the progress in space.

    Along the History, the frontiers were broken by enterpeneurs that wanted some profit for that. Vikings, Greeks, Romans, Spanish, English, Americans, and others… always was a profit effort in their vision.

    The vision in NASA and other national space programs is to waste, to waste, to waste going to neither site.

    We go to Mars, and then what? Another 40 years waiting?

    Best masterize our skills in LEO, Lagrange and in Moon and let the rich people pay the new advances with their “pleasure travels”.

    In some years we’ll have infraestructure in the Moon not to be moved, we’ll have better spacesuits, better materials, discoveries to make the travel cheaper and the best, a new group of companies that will invest money continuosly in Space.
    When Fussion reactor get ready, we’ll be able to start to mine He3 in just months, not decades.

    And in that moment, the cost to go to Mars (and to stay longer) should be cheaper and safer.

    If we put all the money and research in the travel to Mars, that should be also international, think in all the cost overruns and delays it will have. Mars is too far and National Agencies so much wasteful to be reliable.

    If you want to run marathon, you don-t start to run 42 km the first day.

  21. Joel Raupe says

    Thanks again for posting this. – I’m not sure the context, including the headline, for this story is the real story, here.

    Former Senator John Glenn (D-Ohio), the first American to orbit Earth in 1962 and later a mission specialist on-board Discovery in 1998 (at age 77 – easily the oldest American ever to orbit Earth) – is closing in on being 90 years old.

    Reading the opinions scratched out here, I see some solid critical thinking going on.

    Stong testimony to the level of sound thinking among those who read Universe Today!

    But reading John Glenn’s quote, I’m wondering whether the headline and the story are accurate. Looking back, he is quoted in the context of being questioned whether Earth’s Moon is suited to be an actual, physical stepping stone to Mars.

    Of course it’s not.

    But, as a metaphorical, progressive stepping stone, the Moon is THE natural stepping stone to Mars and beyond. That is the position taken by NASA today, and present national policy is specifically NOT to leap ahead swiftly, but to always advance, steadily.

    Glenn is a strong supporter of NASA, “love it or leave it,” so the context of this story is just plain wrong.

    “”If that’s what we’re doing – which I don’t believe it is…” Glenn is quoted as saying.

    What he does believe is what NASA believes, and the National Space Council believes and the National Academy of Sciences (where NASA goes for guidance) believes.

    Everyone should read “Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon,” (2007) available at the cost of your Email address from NAP, National Academies Press.

    http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11954

    Then read “Managing Space Radiation Risk in the New Era of Space Exploration,” (2008) both of these very influential reports commissioned and repeatedly cited by NASA.

    http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12045

    Both should be required reading, and for the savvy crowd at Universe Today, interesting and important reading.

    All you need to own you own invaluable copy of these exceptionally influential books is to give them an Email address, and you can have the pdf for free…

    These ought to especially be required reading for every Member of Congress with even a shred of interest in NASA.

  22. dollhopf says

    Component integration in space seems to be not very efficient when you watch the clumsiness of the mechanists in their typical “working cloths” called spacesuits.

    An orbital integration facility would be nice, so the handiwork could be done “indoors”. If Bigelow Aerospace could construct something like a very large Genesis II (the very modern descendant of Echo I), an inflatable shell that could provide an orbital work environment?

    It wouldn’t even be necessary to have respirable air inside such a bubble, but it should provide barometric pressure and warmth, so that the spacesuit could be exchanged with the respiratory mask, with which an astronaut could work much more efficient and faster. The necessary gas could be brought into orbit by a variety of the space elevator, which is a space “vacuum cleaner”: a tube diving into the upper parts of the atmosphere to drain atmospheric molecules to the facility.

  23. RetardedFishFrog says

    The Moon and Mars are two related and separate goals. Each is important on it’s own. The moon comes first because it’s closest. We’re at the point now that we can soon establish a base and begin to exploit the Moon for He3 and titanium, etc. We can do good science on the Moon. Entrepreneurs can start tourism and mining ventures. That will eventually result in permanent settlements on the Moon. That’s really exciting stuff. People who say, “let’s bypass the Moon because Mars is the main objective,” are missing the bigger picture. Our conquest of the Moon is inevitable, and we can start it now, even if Mars were not also a goal.

    Mars will take more time and effort and money. As a previous post points out, raw materials on the Moon can be used to make a Mars mission more feasible. Of course it doesn’t make sense to launch to Mars from the Moon. I have complete confidence that NASA will get to Mars the best way possible – whatever that may be.

    As for Glen… I think we’re jumping to conclusions and over hyping what was said. Even Glen said, “If that’s what we’re doing – which I don’t believe it is… ” The main thing is that we need to support and fully fund Nasa so they can accomplish their goals. I hope that was Glen’s main point.

  24. wolfee says

    what about an space elevator for the moon? have anyone done the numbers? I think it could be a lot easier doing that, than the one space elevator for the the earth, because of low gravity…

  25. Tyler Durden says

    “I think Glenn is right. Once again I get to say that we should build in orbit and use the ISS as the platform to build with. Lots of space junk up there to use for parts, too. A moon base would be neat, true, but if we are to go anywhere else in this great solar system, galaxy, or universe of ours then we will need big ships to do it with.”

    There IS lots of space junk up there, but none of it is viable as a source of parts for building a space vehicle. In order to get to that junk you’d have to expend massive amounts of fuel in course changes to bring you to rendezvous with those pieces of metal.

    LEO seems like a small place, but it isn’t. There are hundreds of thousands of miles of cubic kilometers for the junk to occupy, so the pieces are very far apart.

    If we do decide to build a space vehicle in orbit we should in fact use items such as the Hubble and the ISS as parts. It beats letting them fall into the atmosphere and burn up.

    I like the idea of a moon base, more so than even just a manned mission to Mars. We could never * live * on Mars in my lifetime. But the Moon is right here, a stone’s throw away in astronomical measure, and we’ve recently discovered WATER on the Moon.

    Which means not only do we have a viable fuel source (Helium-3) we also have the possibility of extracting oxygen and H20.

    The lunar habitats can be built from lunar rock. The only things we’ll need to send to the moon is scientific equipment, backup life support in case the water basins run dry, and food – at least until we can get hydroponic farming going.

    That’s actually a * lower * amount of mass that needs to be shipped out of Earth’s gravity well than what we’re currently sending to the ISS.

  26. Tyler Durden says

    *Ignore my “hundreds of thousands of miles of cubic kilometers” statement:

    should just be hundreds of thousands of cubic kilometers.

  27. ed says

    His comments should not bare any reasonable weight. This kind of progress takes money duh! he hasn’t said anything new.
    Yes, everyone knows its exepensive, so was his travel to space (he should knw better).
    Breakthrough if not by chance happens because someone spends a lot of money in it.

  28. Mike says

    I heard and saw all of John Glenn’s Congressional testimony on 30 July. It was my take then, and still is, that he was not objecting to a lunar return trip or even a lunar base. Rather, he is of the opinion that that is NOT the way to go to Mars.

  29. btw says

    Capturing orbital debris to fabricate turbines or toilets is science fiction. It would be incredibly difficult and expensive to build a toy truck, much less an engine, in orbit.

    Take the ISS. The parts were made on Earth in a comfortable environment, designed to fit together and be responsive to the hands and tools of men in space suits, and the work is still a tough job. Foundries in orbit to build and fuel spacecraft make no sense in the 21st century.

    Autonomous docking, however, is something Earthlings can do, but the actual designing, construction and testing is something done here at home.

  30. zeb says

    I think the best use of a moon base would be learning how to use the available resources to be as self-sufficient as possible. Once we learn that, we can go to Mars (probably without having to stop at the Moon first like Glenn says).

    Also, if the base fails, home is only three days away.

  31. zeb says

    In any case, humans will be uploading their minds into robotic bodies in thirty to fourty years. At that point, manned space travel becomes as easy as unmanned space travel.
    No heavy life-support equipment, minimal radiation protection.

  32. Chuck Lam says

    Showing the world powers that the United States can go to the moon and maybe Mars one day is strictly ” don’t mess with us” politics.” Beyond this premise will be the development of a few gadgets that may benefit mankind and nothing more. Colonizing the moon or Mars or beyond is nothing more than a “pipe dream.” If Einstein is correct, and I believe he is, we will never leave the immediate neighborhood of our solar system.

  33. dollhopf says

    btw said among others: “Autonomous docking, however, is something Earthlings can do, but the actual designing, construction and testing is something done here at home.”

    Surely not!

    1st, “testing is something done here at home”

    Guess the exact opposite is the case. Especially the ISS was thought as a place to do TESTS on new materials, machines, methods IN SPACE.

    2nd, “Foundries in orbit to build … spacecraft make no sense in the 21st century.”

    Materials processing in space is a regular part of contemporary missions. On earth the influence of gravity to each smelting is inevitable. In orbit there is nearly no gravitational pull. Of course, the goal of nowadays material science practiced in a lab at ISS or on a Space shuttle flight is only to improve fabrication processes down on earth, but it shows that foundries in orbit are already reality, although on the smallest scale.

    3rd, repairing a damaged solar panel, recovering of an explosive bolt or cleaning damaged joint has nothing to do with “parts … designed to fit together and be responsive to the hands and tools of men in space suits”, because these are runtime errors but no compilation errors.

    4th, “to … fuel spacecraft make no sense in the 21st century”

    Why certainly! Fact is, the ISS depends on regular deliveries of fuel, otherwise the 100 billion dollar investigation would have fallen from the sky a long time ago. And that is nothing else but a sort of refueling in space

    With the two spaceships ASTRO (Autonomous Space Transfer and Robotic Orbiter) and NextSat automated refueling tests were already conducted in orbit.

    Welcome to the year 2008!

  34. dollhopf says

    Hello Chuck Lam, you wrote: “If Einstein is correct, and I believe he is, we will never leave the immediate neighborhood of our solar system.”

    The ISS orbits Earth maybe 15 times each day in a hight of about 400 km since ten years.
    One orbit has a length of approximately

    2*PI*6.800 km = 43.000 km
    times 15 -> 645.000 km each day
    times 365 -> 235.425.000 km each year
    since 1998 -> 2.354.250.000 km

    This are already more than two light hours. If the direction would have been different and the whole thing would reference a little bit more on itself, then it would now be beyond Saturn and in the path of Uranus.

  35. RetardedFishFrog says

    I also have to disagree with Chuck Lam. We won’t be leaving our solar system anytime soon, but I’ll never say it’s impossible. I don’t see how you can say settling the Moon and Mars is a pipe dream. It’s very doable, especially if it’s profitable. (But unlike Dollhopf, I’ll leave Uranus out of this.)

  36. Aodhhan says

    Joel I have to agree with you. I too wonder if Mr. Glenn’s comments weren’t published out of context.

    I agree Mr. Glenn. Using a the moon as a launch pad with current resources and technology is wasteful and foolish. Perhaps when we are at the point where we have re-usable vehicles for travelling w/n the solar system, but this is far off yet.

    However, if building on the moon is for science and its resources, then I am all for it. Afterall, we need to perfect living on the moon, before we can perfect building huge projects on the moon.

  37. Seymour says

    John Glenn was a Senator from Ohio and an Astronaut at the very beginning of or space program and on TO the Shuttle as well in his more mature time .
    He understands the fickle mind of the public and the politicians who change course and flow with the wind sometimes for little or no reason.
    Mars is the the hope for a second home for our species as needed if mass extinctions occur and as the most optimal place where water and oxygen and carbon and all other necessary ingredients are waiting for us to adapt ,transform and colonize .
    John Glenn knows the importamce of it and that we may not have time to follow the scenic route and play with the Moon for awhile first and then possibly forget the main goal …. MARS.
    A parallel shotgun approach would be even better since many nations will be involved and by sharing information between the two paths we can arrive at both destinations .

  38. Don Jennings says

    I think it makes plenty of sense to have a moon base for its own sake besides supporting a mars mission.
    The reason I think this is the presence of water on the moon just discovered and maybe even ice in craters always in shadow. If so, solar powered electrolysis would give H2 and O2 for rocket fuel, breathing and of course water to drink. The H2 and O2 can also be stored and used in a fuel cell for power during the long lunar night.
    Eventually, space missions could even be launched by solar power using magnetic sleds, an ideal situation because of the low gravity and lack of atmosphere. These magnetic sling shots could be placed on the lunar equator and the time of launch would be just where the moon is in its orbit and the destination.

  39. Bah! A moonbase is a goal in itself.

  40. Stephen says

    Senator Glenn is a TOP GUN style fighter Jockey and NOT a scientist; do NOT take this man’s advise its stupid!

    THE MOON MUST COME FIRST!

    the Chinese want the Helium 3 istopes that are abundant in the moon’s regolith; this will NOT only save the Earth from dangerous politcal and envrionmental foissile fuels, but it will also pay for the scientific reserach….killing two birds with one stone.

    once the phsyicists develop a reactor that can achieve about 70% energy efficiency with the Helium 3 isotope than it will become the most important element in the solar system..tHe russians already knew how to do this back in the 1950’s, but since helium 3 does NOT exists on Earth in any significant natural quantities it never gained much attention; TOKAMAK

    HELIUM 3

    that’s why need to go and do it fast before the world destroys itself over oil, and don’t short term costs ruin long term thinking.

  41. LLDIAZ says

    He thinks Bush wants a moon base for military purposes…
    I agree…

  42. Chuck Lam says

    Wow! Some good responses. However, I’ll say it again. Permanently colonizing the moon or Mars is a pipe dream. The dreamers who think colonization is technically and financially simply don’t have a clue. Folks, colonization anywhere from planet earth ain’t going to happen! Oh! We’ll land a few scientists on the moon and probably Mars for a fews days or weeks stay, but that will be it. The world will also enjoy the development of a few gadgets resulting from the billions and billions of dollars spent to prove to the world we can spend some extended time away from planet earth. Am I a nay-sayer? Yep, I am when considering mostly the economics and politics surrounding a colonization effort as significant as putting a permanent colony somewhere away from our planet. If an attempt is ever made to colonize the moon; It will most likely be driven by military considerations. Then the billions and billions of dollars of expense will be justified by Washington in the name of science

  43. LLDIAZ says

    Yes, Yes I agree if and when colonization of another planet or moon is granted it will be on a military platform. There is no other way, a civilian project would never be accepted by the world super powers. Can you imagine a country on the moon declaring independence?
    The wars would be catastrophic!!!!

  44. Chuck Lam says

    To: Robert H., Aldren, Glenn and others, while educated space heroes, are just a little more qualified than you or I on the subject of colonizing other planetary bodies. Because the United States spent untold billions of dollars on the space programs these guys were trained to work within (specifically operating equipment) qualifies them for not much more than driving and fixing the space bus that took them to the moon. Colonization of the moon doesn’t make sense unless, of course, it is for ‘pork barrel profit’ and military purposes. As for an attempt to colonizing Mars, that may happen in the next century, if at all. And humans leaving the solar system on a non-suicide mission to our nearest star system just ain’t going to happen. Mankind will live out its destiny in the solar system. We’re not going to venture much beyond a few light-hours distance from earth.

  45. Robert H says

    Buzz Aldrin and John Glenn and many other astronauts have stated that we should send humans to MARS directly and not after the Moonbase has been constructed.

    They can see the big picture because of their backgrounds as test pilots , military combat experience and Apollo experience and education.

    The rest of you are not qualified to analyze this subject.

    The Moon will have to wait for the knowledge obtained from going to MARS first and by international commercial interests………….. like Space X.

  46. dollhopf says

    Chuck Lam wrote:

    “Am I a nay-sayer? Yep, I am when considering mostly the economics and politics surrounding a colonization effort”

    Well, to fathom the economical aspect of colonization, the following consideration could give a clue. To value the feasability of those projects on moon and mars one could value the involved companies and their stocks.

    It is remarkable that the first privately owned spaceports are to come into existance. Private money all around the world already flows into their buildup in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Florida, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Sandy Mines in Canada, Kiruna in Sweden. This is a very interesting indication. We see the cornerstones of a sound new economic activity.

    Let me tell you what happens next. It is inevitable and nearly a law of nature that the used technologies will improve. Thus, the range of space tourism will increase from suborbital travel to orbital flights, and from there to flights one time around the moon. Then several orbits around the moon will become usual and at a certain moment in this development the first private trip to the surface of the moon will be made.

    As soon as the subortbital tourism is established this development will be inevitable. The overall travel time will grow and so will the length of stay on ships and in space hotels and other establishments. It is foreseeable that the entrepreneurs will provide their “space products” with additional services. So additional staff will be on location. These men and women will stay in space hotels or at moon hotels for several weeks or month.

    Among them will be doctors and medical staff. The first medical emergencies will occur and will be handled. And then there will be the first pregnant woman and the first birth away from earth. And if all goes well, this woman will become as famous as the biblical Eve.

    “Permanently colonizing the moon or Mars is a pipe dream.”

    On the other hand, when we look back on our history we can’t avoid to admit that our daily life is the best prove for the feasibility of the impossible.

  47. dollhopf says

    Robert H wrote:

    “The rest of you are not qualified to analyze this subject.”

    And nobody asked you for your unqualified opinion.

  48. Robert H says

    To Chuck Lam :
    Dr. Buzz Aldrin has come up with technical plans for a “Cycler” to orbit between Earth and Mars …
    Neil Armstrong teaches at a university .

    Who are you to judge their knowledge of aspects of colonization of Mars .

    The MIT Mars Homesteading Group is into fine details regarding this topic..

    Dr. Buzz Aldrin and other Astronauts are members of many Space organizations and he in particular is seriously involved with the above ideas on the colonization of Mars…

    and Chuck Lam labels him as only a space fixer upper and bus driver ?

    Furthermore , if you all learn from History , the conservative estimates of what humans can or can not do are almost always wrong…

    Humans probably migrated to Anerica by water before the path was taken from Siberia …
    The Clovis civilization may have come by water from Siberia in 15000 bc or even Europe … their arrow heads found in Virginia are A SPECIFIC TYPE found only in Europe (france)

    Today all kinds of water craft including Kon Tiki and rowboats are capable of crossing the oceans… there are always those daring explorers who will just get up and go … even on a log if necessary …

    just as there will be those daring educated Astronaut types who will colonize MARS .

    Many of them have Phd’s !

    There are and will be those who VOLUNTEER to go one way to MARS or anywhere for that matter , regardless of the risk..

    In Holland , explorers were given a funeral before they left for America in the 15th century.

    Vikings went everywhere …

    In Peru , there are Indians who look like Japanese and some of there dialects are partially understood by visiting Japanese.

    I know a physician from Ayacucho who looks Japanese and he believes that his ancestors came by boat from the Pacific area 30,000 years ago long before the Clovis people entered America.

    In Merida in the Yucatan , one archeologist believes the Mayans came from India by boat in 4000 b.c.

    A child was asked “Why should we go to Mars ?”
    He replied “Because its there !”

    You , with your condervative extimates of future progress are not in tune with History or Reality ,

    You are obviously quite lacking in your judgement of others without doing a little background investigation as to their education and accomplishments in the academic and scientific area especially.

    You must be only a bus driver yourself to make such foolish statements…

    People like you never take risks … and risk is what its all about …

    There are always risk taking explorer types and you can never hold them back …and thats the human spirit …

    And , of course , there are always “Nay Sayers” and thats what many of you are all about…and you will push pencils in your little offices and be politicians and lawyers and such and be assigned behind the front lines where you don’t have to take risks…and you will keep on saying endlessly “It can’t be done ” …

  49. Member

    Hey Robert H.: You briefly mentioned Mars Homesteading – I actually work with the guy who started it all, Bruce Mackenzie. We’re working on Mars habitat designs as we speak. All this is 100% do’able, but, alas, it comes down to politics and funding. You’ve probably come across it, but check out: http://www.marshome.org – I’m their web designer and comms officer 🙂

  50. Chuck Lam says

    To: Robert H. I don’t believe Aldrin, Armstrong and the other educated astronauts really qualify as “daring risk taking explorers.” You forget the astronaut is a paid employee of the United States government. It was the John Kennedy administration that decided our country should “go to the moon”, not Aldrin or Armstrong. And the real lunar heros were the unsung equipment designers and engineers that made it all possible for the astronauts to walk on the moon. I was wrong in addressing the astronauts as “bus drive.” Actually they are more like “passengers” except for a few minutes of actual flying the landing craft to and from the lunar surface. They did a remarkably good job! That, however, is what they were paid for. And finally, the average “bus driver” has more “souls on board” responsibility than the astronauts ever had who landed on the moon. Oh . . . one last thing, read up on Dr. Rita Colwell, she will do your thinking a world of good.

  51. stephen says

    heres the order we should explore space

    1: build a space lift to reduce cost by 50000%
    2: build a large ship in sections on earth
    3: send sections up with space lift
    4: assemble sections
    5: send ships on long voyages with manned crews

    or the pipe dream that people dream about here

    1: send hundreads of fueled rockets to the moon costing billions maybe trillions to set up a moon base

    2: send fueled rockets to the moon

    3: send fueld rockets to mars

    pipe dream 😛 wont happen, what i do see happening is manned missions to the moon, probably to prepare for a manned mission to mars, but no outpost, nasa … no america cant afford it 😛

  52. dollhopf says

    But honestly, Stephen, the elevator is the pipe dream while the common rocket technology is well understood and an approved concept, used by industry and military in a ten thousands of undertakings.

  53. Cory says

    Given the new race for the moon, we have no chooice but to establish a moonbase for exploration and potential mining purposes.

    If we can launch to Mars from earth orbit, then we should be able to shuttle to moon from orbit at lower cost than a moonbase and take whats needs from there. This makes Space station and shuttle technology the most important advancements for our fututrre exploration.

  54. Nina says

    Where did John Glenn get educated?

  55. Steven says

    Well done John Glenn, at least someone out there with vast media access has some brains.

    Most people don’t even know it takes less power to get a craft to Mars than the Moon.

  56. Senator Glenn has obviously spent too much time aboard government owned spacecraft and not enough time on corporate owned aircraft. Every airline I’ve ever been on tells me it’s cheaper to fly from Tampa to Tulsa via St. Louis or Dallas than it is to fly non-stop.

  57. Steven Says:
    October 15th, 2008 at 8:13 am
    Well done John Glenn, at least someone out there with vast media access has some brains.

    Most people don’t even know it takes less power to get a craft to Mars than the Moon.
    ———————————————
    If the Earth were an 8 foot ball, our moon would be a 2-foot ball in a mutual circle about 250 feet across, with the center of gravity closer to Earth and a center of orbit under the Earth, but not at the center of the Earth. Compared to a mere 250 feet away from Earth, Mars comes as close as about 6.7 miles (in the 8-foot scale of Earth) and only in the illusion of our minds is the Moon really between Earth and Mars most of the time. In fact, using the trajectory of the Moon’s orbital speed as a “speed bonus,” the optimum time to launch from the Moon for Mars would only take place about once a month. While in this scale Mars is as close as 6.7 miles, the average is more like 9 miles at closest point of approach. Yet when on the other side of the Sun, as Mars is at least once every 2 years or so, Mars is 44 miles away – in this scale where Earth is only an 8 foot ball and the moon is only a 4 foot ball. Astronauts on Mars, a 4 foot ball in this scale, would be out of contact with Earth unless someone places a well spaced relay satellite out there somewhere at an angle that could bridge communications around the line between Earth, the Sun, and Mars.

    So the real question is … do we really need to go to the Moon as a waypoint between Earth and Mars? No. Anyone at NASA who says we have to do that isn’t being intellectually honest. On the cosmic scale of the Solar System Earth and our moon are virtually in the same point in space.

    So why would we want to go to the moon first? For practice and experimentation. The International Space Station was one important training environment for life aboard the type of vehicles that would slowly unwind out of our orbit to slowly spiral out to match the orbit of Mars. The “distance” comparison loses its value when one considers the trip will actually be much longer in statute miles given the rather soft unwinding of an independent orbit between Earth’s orbit and Mars’ orbit.

    The point of going to the moon first is just to test systems in an alien playground that would actually strain equipment and techniques more on the moon than they would on Mars. If we can get the safety czars at NASA who still require Astronauts to seek Houston’s permission to sneeze or flush the (usually inoperative) space toilet to lighten up a bit, we can give the human-technological pairing in an alien hostile environment a real test on the Moon, and only by doing this would any sensible human have the justified confidence that we can safely send a man to Mars, and then return him safely to the Earth. I don’t think we’re quite ready for Mars yet. I think we need to develop and test a few systems a little closer to home. And once we perfect such systems, then let’s roll (to Mars).

  58. Please correct a typo or two in my latest post … and I ONLY make these comparisions so that by going into your (hopefully large) backyard, you can draw an 8-foot circle, and exactly 239 feet away from the circle drawn draw a 2-foot circle and call it the Moon. HINT for Public School Graduates … in order to get a diameter of 8 feet draw your line 4 feet from the pivot point. For the diameter of 2 feet go 240 feet from the edge of the resulting Circle of Earth and draw a circle 1 feet (radius) from the “pivot point” of 240 feet. I’m going to call it a mean distance so I won’t get into the complications of drawing elliptical orbits which accurately reflect the actual orbit of the Moon around Earth.

    Mars is a 4 foot ball that you’ll have to draw in another way. First, put a large ruler out from the 8-foot ball and place a marker 17.6 miles away. Fun Fact … If you make this trip in the collapsed scale you’ll be driving at the Speed of Light at a mere 132 miles an hour. Yet the closest star would in this compressed scale (other than our own) still be 4.3 years to reach at the speed of light of 132 miles an hour to cross the distance between your 8-foot ball and the nearest star 4,787,408 miles away … 273,012 times the distance to our own Sun!

    But back to the scale drawing of the difficulties of going to Mars and the practical applications of going to the Moon first to develop and perfect and test technologies that will serve us well (the rescue effort to save astronauts on the Moon can be made in days … the rescue effort to save astronauts on Mars could take years) …

    From that point 17.6 miles from a line leading to the 8-foot ball in your back-yard, first draw a circle with an 864.9 foot diameter (see the diameter to radius instructions above, public school graduates). If Earth were an 8-foot ball, the highest climb of the Space Shuttle on record being only 4.62 inches off this 8-foot ball, the size of the Sun would reach almost 3 entire football fields against that 8-foot ball of Earth, and they are separated by 8 minutes at the speed of light.

    For the sake of argument just draw a circle 26.8 miles around the center of that 3-football width Sun, and now you have the orbit of Mars.

    The point is, I have no doubt we could launch a mission today which could get humans to Mars. I must say I am totally astounded as someone who can’t even get a cellphone built by Nokkia to last longer than a year, a computer drive built by Seagate or Sony to last more ahn two, or a car built in America by Chevy to last more than 3. I must say I find the fact the Spirit and Opportunity have done as well as they have is a remarkable feat, and an abberation of luck that is not fairly representative of our technological **** that comes with the “Made In The U.S.A.” Label. Just pour money our way, the aerospace contractors say, and we’ll answer the technological challenges.

    No. Make Aerospace contractors personally and monetarily reliable when Astronauts die when living in the **** house they built for them to die in because of the “military-industrial complex” and maybe they’ll get it right the first time …

    … which by the way is the only time the astronauts will have to make it back alive.

    So with extensive teardowns by missions, we can get the Shuttle Orbiters to last for decades, with a mere span of days a year of actual on-orbit use and a mere hour per mission in a stressful regimen. So far, no one at General Motors, Boeing, or the White House has convinced me we’re ready to do what’s important – and that is to get Mars Astronauts safely back to Earth. Anyone can get to Mars. Getting back is the hard part.

    Somewhere along the way the aerospace contractors lost their vision for accountability and responsibility.

    The estimation is that Earth-to-Earth Mars missions will last years. So far we haven’t come up with a good reason to go to Mars, other than the fact that “because it’s there.” So put some footprints there in the dust, and then come back. Then what?

    There are parts of the Rocky Mountains between Leadville and Aspen that haven’t been explored yet by the footprints of Man. Of the 70% of Earth’s surface that is covered by water, only a small fraction has been explored. I’m NOT against a manned mission to Mars, but I want everyone to know exactly why it is so important to go there. I’m not saying it is important, but equally so I’m not ready to say it is. We have learned so much for Spirit and Opportunity that I am duly impressed by our discovery of truth – the basic hope for all human exploration. I’m not sure that having humans there will give us a bigger or better picture. Admittedly, it would give Mars more news coverage, which is at the current time and century more important to the planet Earth than it is the planet Mars.

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