Obama Wants Mission to Asteroid by 2025, Mars by mid-2030’s


Speaking at Kennedy Space Center, President Barack Obama discussed his plans for NASA which includes sending astronauts to a nearby asteroid by 2025 and going to Mars by the mid-2030’s. “Let me start by being extremely clear,” Obama said. “I am 100 per cent committed to the mission of NASA and its future because broadening our capabilities in space will continue to serve us in ways we can hardly imagine.” Obama’s plan, which includes the $6 billion in additional funds for NASA over the next five years that was previously announced and using a scaled-down version of the Orion spacecraft as a rescue vehicle for the International Space Station.

Also, Obama committed funds for research now to build a heavy-lift rocket starting in 2015 — or earlier — to launch astronauts and payloads to missions beyond the Moon.

“By 2025 we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first ever crew missions beyond the Moon into deep space,” Obama said. “So, we’ll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history. By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to earth, and a landing on Mars will follow.”

Obama at KSC. Image credit: Alan Walters (awaltersphoto.com) for Universe Today.

Obama said his program of partnering with commercial space companies allows for more missions launched from Kennedy Space Center, an acceleration of advanced technologies that will allow for better space transportation systems and a shortening of the dependence on Russian rockets.

The president made no mention of any extension to the space shuttle program, which was one rumor that floated around before his speech.

Norm Augustine, before the president's speech. Credit: Alan Walters (awaltersphoto.com) for Universe Today

Speaking after the President, Norm Augustine – who headed the Augustine Commission review of NASA’s future, said that the new program is very close to one of the options his panel offered (option 5-B) and this path would be “worthy of a great nation, and be able to transform NASA from transportation to exploration.” Augustine also pointed out that we seem more eager to accept current Russian technology than to encourage future of our own private industry.

Buzz Aldrin flew with President Obama to Kennedy Space Center in Air Force One. Image credit: Alan Walters (awaltersphoto.com) for Universe Today

The White House Chief Science Advisor John Holdren said Obama’s plan is a “faster pace to space, with more missions sooner and more affordably.” He said it’s a more visionary approach as it expands commercial capability and allows NASA to devote its resources to exploring deep space.

Obama discussed his space plan at the Operations and Checkout Building at the Kennedy Space Center, the same building used to build the Orion spacecraft. This is the first time in 12 years a sitting U.S. president has visited KSC.

The plan was originally unveiled on Feb 1, 2010, and the proposal to cancel the Constellation program and use commercial companies for trips to LEO was met with harsh criticism from members of Congress and many former astronauts, including a letter from Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan and Jim Lovell who called the plan “devastating” the legacy of US space leadership.

Today, however, before the president’s speech, Elon Musk from SpaceX – whose Falcon 9 spacecraft will launch a test flight perhaps next month – issued a statement that lauded Obama’s plan to end Constellation.

“The President quite reasonably concluded that spending $50 billion to develop a vehicle that would cost 50% more to operate, but carry 50% less payload was perhaps not the best possible use of funds. To quote a member of the Augustine Commission, which was convened by the President to analyze Ares/Orion, ‘If Santa Claus brought us the system tomorrow, fully developed, and the budget didn’t change, our next action would have to be to cancel it,’ because we can’t afford the annual operating costs.”

“Cancellation was therefore simply a matter of time,” Musk continued, “and thankfully we have a President with the political courage to do the right thing sooner rather than later. We can ill afford the expense of an “Apollo on steroids”, as a former NASA Administrator referred to the Ares/Orion program. A lesser President might have waited until after the upcoming election cycle, not caring that billions more dollars would be wasted. It was disappointing to see how many in Congress did not possess this courage.”

By choosing KSC to make his speech Obama hoped to bring home that his program will add more 2,500 jobs compared to plan under previous administration.

“We will modernize KSC, creating jobs as we upgrade launch facilities, and bringing the potential for more jobs as companies come here to compete for launch projects. This is an area prime to lead in this competition.”

Afterwards, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said, “It’s special when a president talks about you but it’s even more special when he comes to visit.”

Readers, what are your thoughts on Obama’s program for NASA, and his speech?

A gallery of images from the President’s speech by Alan Walters, in attendance representing Universe Today.

Space personalities Neil deGrasse Tyson and Jim Bell at Obama's speech at KSC. Image credit: Alan Walters (awaltersphoto.com) for Universe Today
Bill Nye, The Science Guy
Leland Melvin was one of many astronauts in attendance at KSC. Credit: Alan Walters (awaltersphoto.com) for Universe Today
Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida) and NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden introduced President Obama. Image Credit: Alan Walters (awaltersphoto.com) for Universe Today

62 Replies to “Obama Wants Mission to Asteroid by 2025, Mars by mid-2030’s”

  1. I’d like to have heard a response to Russia’s President Medvedev’s proposal on Gagarin’s Day, for a space faring nation’s summit meeting…. overall this was an encouraging speech, I just wish there had been a more of an international flavor to it.

  2. Heavy lift and astronauts on an astreoid by 2015 is a good direction. We have a goal.

    So when do they start building the asteroid lander?

  3. Mars is far. i think if you’re going to send astronauts there, you should put some boots on the ground. This is so weird.

  4. Many new capabilities need to be developed.
    Higher Specific Impulse propulsion! Critical for deep space missions. Vasmir Looks promising.
    On orbit Cryo propellant transfer and storage.
    Developing long duration highly closed cycle space habitat with Radiation shielding and preferably some centrifugally produced gravity.
    Aero braking to descend from distant orbit and rendezvous with ISS.
    etc etc etc . . .

    Lots of stuff to figure out. It takes lots of smart people.

  5. Brundall – for a couple of reasons:

    – it’s a “medium duration flight” – longer than a few days, but not the 3 years of mars-and-back

    – it doesn’t have the mars EDL challenges

    – Asteroid science is important for asteroid mitigation

    – Asteroids/comets tell us a lot about the solar system.

    I was hoping he’d cover all of this in his talk, I’m glad he did.

  6. IMO Constellation was a great idea in its original conception but how it actually ended up being executed caused its downfall. If done properly, it could have provided a great opportunity for expanding our space exploration capabilities.

    Well, now realizing that it has failed (for various reasons)… this is an excellent course of action to take in order to free up LEO to Commercial Agency’s (SpaceX could likely dominate transportation to the ISS with the Falcon 9 and Dragon Capsule).

    Now, this being said:
    -When will the development of this new “Heavy Lift Launcher” start?
    -Are we planning on actually stepping up our launch capabilities to the next level (electrical/ion engines) instead of using liquid fuel?
    -When will the development start on an “Asteroid Lander”? Could we not convert the current work being done on the Altair Lunar Lander from Constellation like we are trying to salvage the Orion Capsule?

    I think he should have at least hinted at or answered fully these important questions instead of just making blanket statements like “Developing new technologies” and “Going beyond the moon”.

    Let me know what you think!

  7. Actually, I have not seen a video of the entire speech yet so I cannot say he did not adress the above questions but this is based on what the article relayed! I apologize for anything that I depicted inaccurately.

  8. “Mars is far. i think if you’re going to send astronauts there, you should put some boots on the ground. This is so weird.”

    Agreed.. there is little point in “practicing” orbiting around Mars in a crewed vehicle. We’ve got plenty of experience orbiting planets – pretty much all we’ve been doing for the last 40 years.

    “Somebody remind me why going to an asteroid is a good idea?”

    Because we need to learn how to operate on and around asteroids if we’re to have any hope of deflecting one that’s headed for Earth.. it’s far preferable that we learn those skills *before* an asteroid is threatening millions of lives. It’ll also come in handy in the future if we ever decide to mine asteroids.

    “-When will the development of this new “Heavy Lift Launcher” start?”

    Personally I’d rather see them upgrade the Falcon 9 rather than make their own HLLV.. it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense wasting billions of dollars when you’ve got something you can order from SpaceX already.

  9. Wow! This is the kind of talk I wanted to hear. However I really want more of the nitty-gritty:

    1. When will work on a heavy lifter start? Can they adapt existing plans to speedup/cheapen the development time?

    2. Why not just shoot for a orbit and Mars landing. We already have a Asteroid landing. Cheapen it up and combine the orbit with the landing. Human space exploration is mostly to please the public anyway and I’m sure the public want to see a landing if you bother to go all the way to Mars.

    3. Is the funding REALLY in place? What guarantees this isn’t all hot air A.K.A Bush’s plans?

  10. Sounds like every other “I support NASA, really I do!” speech. It’s really not much different than Bush’s, Clinton’s, Bush’s Reagan’s.

    I wish I could say I’m excited, but I’ve heard it all before.

  11. Qs:

    stepping up our launch capabilities to the next level (electrical/ion engines)

    You can’t launch with them. They are for interplanetary space use.

    Could we not convert the current work being done on the Altair Lunar Lander from Constellation like we are trying to salvage the Orion Capsule?

    What is needed is precisely the Orion, since it has interplanetary space capabilities (long duration use, low solar power use, heavy duty heat shield). Maybe that is why Obama tries to preserve the technology for menial, albeit costly, duties meanwhile.

    The requirements to land on an asteroid is steering thrusters. And perhaps a bolt gun to anchor stuff with…

    I’d rather see them upgrade the Falcon 9 rather than make their own HLLV.

    ??? Even a future Falcon 9 Heavy would only lift 32 Mg @ LEO. Ares V was due for 188 Mg @ LEO.

    Methinks you lack an order of magnitude in desired lift capability there.

    And the Ares was likely underpowered due to reusing 20 year old technology. Already the lift technology of 1990s was capable of that. (>a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energia”>The projected Vulkan-Hercules version of Energia was capable of 175 Mg @ LEO.

    An entirely new heavy lifter could be either cheap or immensely capable. What would we need to go to Mars? Likely more than for the Moon (Ares-V) venture.

  12. Brilliant! NASA is finally emerging from the dark ages. No longer a glorified LEO taxi company, no longer eyes fixed through a rear view mirror at the Moon, but taking aim at something new and exciting and on the fast track.

    The comments above are the most positive they have been for a long time.

    NASA can hold it’s head up and take pride. Welcome back.

  13. I would echo Aqua’s point. The USA and other space faring countries must find a way to transcend the mindset of competition that served NASA circa 1960/70’s. Remember even then it was frameworked “in peace for all mankind”. Imagine the possible outcomes of cooperation now one hundred years hence. And the converse?

    Errm, just a moment…just a moment…that would require USA brushing up on those pesky SI units…nevermind.

  14. I agree with TerryG. It’s good to see some optimism amongst enthusiasts again. If you want to see the uninformed and luddites’ reactions just go on over to Yahoo! News and read the comments there.

    I’m also glad that there’s funding to go along with the new strategy…

  15. Obama’s presidency ends in 2016, at best.
    None of this will happen unless his successors are far bigger space fans than he’s proven to be.

  16. Some early reflections then:

    – It is encouraging to see a president that is so interested in space and for the right reasons. (“broadening our capabilities in space will continue to serve us in ways we can hardly imagine.”)

    – It is encouraging to see that Obama is indeed possessing the courage to make the right decisions as well, as Musk notes.

    – It is _not_ encouraging to have see wrong decisions lacking courage (being politically savvy) at the same time. Yesterday I believed that Dragon hadn’t the capabilities to serve as a longtime rescue return vehicle. Apparently according to Musk it has. So why the expense of Orion?

    – It is _not_ encouraging to see speculations of an “extension to the space shuttle program”, as if it wasn’t dismantled already. No one can build a shuttle beyond the current missions + the backup tank anymore than anyone can build an Apollo again. Get over it and start discuss what we _can_ do instead.

    The heavy lifter/asteroid timetable is encouraging. The Mars mission is optimistic, no one knows how to get astronauts to survive the radiation, but apparently Obama realizes that.

  17. Qs:

    We already have a Asteroid landing.

    No one has landed men on an asteroid what I know of. And it would have made the news, wouldn’t it?

    Or if you refer to unmanned landings, then your argument to go to space needs a reassessment.

    Asteroid exploration is vital. For example, we don’t have, but would like to have, a time table for early Earth and when/how life started. Asteroids help us with that.

    (In that sense, Moon exploration is even more vital. Alas, now it has to be by robotics. Oh, well.)

    Also, it is the next step in difficulty. (Duration, delta-v, but not difficult landing requirements.)

    Why not just shoot for a orbit and Mars landing.

    First, for the same prudent reason why the Apollo program made a round trip. To assess the difficulties. (That, and because they hadn’t finished the LEM.)

    Second, to bring and especially to land the extra material needed is another level of difficulty. No one knows how to soft land masses > 1 Mg on Mars. The atmosphere is too dense for rockets and too flimsy for wings. It is the perfect atmosphere _not_ to land in.

    Perhaps someone may come up and test a technology before 2035. For example, self stabilizing balloon cone descenders are suggested. But perhaps not.

    So it makes eminently sense to not put such difficult constraints on the program this early.

  18. I hate to sound like a broken record, as I’ve mentioned this on a couple of other articles… but, maybe now it is time to look seriously at Mars Direct?


    The one thing lacking currently is the heavy lift booster. But I’m glad they have dropped the plan for Ares, anything based on those damn solid fuel boosters was just asking for trouble IMO.

    I’m sure if NASA pick up the idea of Mars Direct again (as they had seriously looked at it back in the 90s), the timetable for Mars mid-30s will be easily achieveable.

  19. Good news and bad news. Finally we have goals and schedule. However, time scale is somehow… huge. It took less than 10 years to get to the Moon starting with no experience at all. It took about 10 years to design space shuttle from scratch. Now we talking about going to Mars in 25 years. Hm… why not in 50? It’s good to have long term plans. I’ll be glad to know we have plans for 2050 or even 2100. But in this case… I worried, what China, India, Russia has to say about it and where they will be in 10 or 20 years?

  20. First, I guess that there has never been such a broad public discussion about the future of space exploration before. So the course of America in space is not perfectly top-down planned this time. Good, especially when I remember a sentence of the current leader made during his early election campaign, that space flight is something for books of fairy tales for little children.

    Second, I fear that America’s space technology will be nailed down on a certain technology path. The great hope is that other nations, especially the Russians will design and build completely different new propulsion systems. To me it looks like all resources a used for one big hit while there are no choices on what technologies this enterprise will base upon.

  21. ..all is how it was earlier predicted in UT articles over previous months.
    All Obama has done here is a necessary delaying tactic.

    It is all about having several years of hiatus of new exploration, mainly to get the disastrous economy back on track, then continue the dream. It doesn’t take a genius to see the US economy is in an absolute mess. As usual, the comment of “could have, should have, would have”, that continue to be made many of the bloggers here just don’t get this basic point.

    Obama should have said Americans need to work harder for the economy BEFORE these long term visions can be achieved. The message “Work for a better future” always forgotten when seek a new direction.

    My own worry would be is what is the next President going to do. No one wants to be seen not being the follower of previous policy but want to be the visionary. (As did George. W.)

    IMO, I wish Obama focus on international cooperation in achieving these goals. Let’s face it. He wants to do it for America prestige not humankind. Much the pity.

  22. Hon. Salacious B. Crumb Says:

    “Americans need to work harder for the economy BEFORE these long term visions can be achieved”

    Of course, one can also work hard in the economic sector called space industries. So one needs not necessarily exlude the other.

  23. Hans-Peter Dollhopf

    Agreed. I actually meant working harder applies to getting the economy back on track. Instead of borrowing the money, industry needs to provide profits via their taxes they pay for these dreams to be realised. Industry manufacturing and being involved in the design and construction for the ‘customer’ is one way of doing it instead of governmental handouts. It is really simple economics.

  24. What I will never understand is this:

    First, while America is absolutly capable to operate rovers on Mars, a probe around Saturn and a Hubble telescope and many other projects at the very same time, she is condemned to realize only one project at a time as soon as the word “visionary” comes into play. Why the heck do American “visionary” space flights always require the maximum of resources?

    And second, as soon as the engines ignite and such a “visionary” mission lifts off, every single moment of the enterprise is completely running by a script. It is absolutely determined what when where, otherwise the whole mission will fail. There is never a really resourcefull crew on its way. Why? Maybe, because a real resourcefull capability to live off the “land” has never been developed.

  25. When I was a kid I went with my friends family to Astroworld. When we first pulled into parking lot his dad said “OK, I said we would go to Astroworld….Lets go home.”

    Are we really going to invest the time, resources and risk the lives of astronauts lives to look at Mars through a porthole and then come back.

    I am aware that the technical challenges are great. It’s not an easy thing to do, but as Kennedy said we don’t do these things because they are easy but beacuse they are hard. If we as a nation decide that this is a thing that we want to do then we can do it. It will cost alot of money. New technologies will have to be created. Good people will most likely get hurt or killed in the process,but so was case for the Apollo program. I truly believe that manned space exploration is intergral to our national identity, and that is worth sacraficing for.

    I don’t mean to be all preachy but really think if your going to do something, you should do it right. Commiting to “kinda-sorta” going to Mars is not a good idea.

  26. I’m excited about the asteroid mission. It’s farther than humans have gone before and it will be a long duration mission. However I think this should be something to be accomplished by 2020 instead of 2025. I can’t wait that long and that’s plenty of time for China to catch up and try it themselves. China is taking things slowly and methodically but visiting and could be something they can shoot for after a moon landing.

  27. “Committing to “kinda-sorta” going to Mars is not a good idea.”

    It is, if it is is a necessary delaying tactic because of the economy.

  28. Why land on an asteroid? Apart from the good reasons given above, learning how to exploit asteroid resources will help alleviate the need to hoist mass out of Earth’s gravity well. It will also help learning how to land on Phobos or Deimos.

    Why go to Mars and not land? I think it makes perfect sense. An extended stay in Mars orbit would allow control of robotic operations on the surface much more easily than from Earth, with shorter signal delay and greater flexibility, and there’s the possibility of running quick sample-return missions, bringing samples up to an orbiting lab without the physical hazards of crewed landings and the increased likelihood of contamination in either direction. I’d guess that any manned Mars mission would include multiple small robots, dozens or even hundreds, for ad-hoc exploration of Mars and its moons. Landing small robots and lofting small sample-return capsules will present far fewer problems than landing humans, with all their environmental requirements.

  29. Also, returning from Mars will be a whole lot easier if astronauts are already in Mars orbit.

  30. Torbjorn Larsson OM:

    Yes when I wrote we already have an asteroid landing, I meant it in the context of future exploration. Upon a second re-read it doesn’t come across this way. My bad.

    Yes I understand the need for Asteroid exploration perfectly. Lots of science and seemingly endless locked-away resources.

    I see your point. Still I would prefer and all-in-one shot to Mars. True it may not necessarily be the most logical way to proceed. However, how many people you know with a casual interest in space even know Apollo orbited the moon before ever landing? My guess, probably close to none.

    The human exploration project I feel is more for prestige than science, more a source of inspiration for future generations. If you’re going to spend the money and time to travel there, just setup the means for landing too. Would the Portuguese royalty been satisfied if Columbus just circled the Caribbean Islands without making a landing? Probably not.

    Do I think you are right in pushing for a orbital venture and then a later landing venture? Absolutely. Still who said human exploration was ever 100 logical?

  31. I’m liking the use of robotics to build dish antennas in craters on asteroids and on the moon’s far side. An asteroid or comet with the right eccentricity built into its orbit would be interesting… an orbit that takes it to the asteroid belt? or above/below the ecliptic?

  32. I have been reading a lot of media and blogs on this subject and some seem to be a bit inaccurate. So if UT permits, this is what Obama actually said: http://www.nasa.gov/news/media/trans/obama_ksc_trans.html

    The more I read it, the more pessimistic I get. 🙁
    I’ve translated it to basically say “As for American manned space exploration: We are just going to sit on our hands as long as I am President”.

    Also I thought it was very optimistic for Nancy to say “ … Also, Obama committed funds for research now to build a heavy-lift rocket starting in 2015 — or earlier — to launch astronauts and payloads to missions beyond the Moon.” Obama doesn’t say “ or earlier” (would have been nice if he did), he says “And we will finalize a rocket design no later than 2015 and then begin to build it.”… BEGIN to build it in 2015 under his plan. He went on to say about this not yet designed rocket “That’s at least two years earlier than previously planned”.. I’m not sure what he meant there or if he was just lying. The ARES V is in production now (and will continue to be unless Congress cancels it) and is scheduled to fly in 2018 and then with the mission to begin the colonization of the moon in 2019. Unless he really believes this “new” rocket can be built in super fast record time, then it was a lie.
    There was nothing new in this that wasn’t covered in February except that he had to throw the dogs a couple of bones. Name some dates and destinations but not really have to commit to doing any of it and keep people employed…. “Like it or not NASA is the leader in space exploration.” … That’s my quote that I just made a few minutes ago… 🙂 Well if he can’t touch Defense then at least he can try to give up our bad ‘ole leadership in space exploration.
    Obama has put manned space exploration on hold. He has punted it to the next administration.

  33. Sounds to me like the President is truly more interested in science that doing the Big Thang. But for me, the choice is not asteriod or Mars but asteriod or permanent Moon Base. But having the capability to reach an asteriod and then maybe putting one in Earth orbit may provide us with a nice High Orbit Station that would be the first stop on the Interplanetary Transport Network.

    I wish is was more international.

  34. Vanamonde –
    I also wish it was more international. Then we would have to live up to our promises and commitments to the people. But as they say, “No bucks, no Buck Rogers”…

  35. There’s a real problem with this administration’s plans for America’s future in the employing of space technologies in the new frontier..

    A little back ground first.

    Fortunately for us the moon/earth is actually a twin planet system. The earth is our home and the moon is our new future for all of planet earth. And idea that stirs the juices of man kind. as well as a launching base for exploring the solar system, the new frontier.. .Just as great sea faring countries like England and France once dominated the world in the last two centuries and the U. S. in the 20 century with it’s control of the air,.control of space will be the new center of power.. We as a nation will face the same fate as the land based China and India faced when they ignored the opportunities of the sea. . The leaders of these great land based countries created misery for their population by missing these opportunities. At one time when control of land was a measure of power China was at it’s peak and the Europeans were still barbarians.

    The Apollo mission that was aborted demonstrates the “gravity” problem of earth as well as the opportunity of opening the moon as a doorway for any space faring nation. -.. Because of the strong gravity well of earth the Apollo mission made it back with little more then a fire cracker for a rocket and a parachute for landing gear. If they had to go the other way …. to the moon…. they would have never made it out of orbit and would have burned up in earth’s atmosphere.. The earth is down hill while the moon is high ground..

    Any nation that wants to compete in the future will have to participate as a space faring nation including the United States or slip into a back water also ran. The moon has unlimited solar energy (as well as the possibilities of developing new energy sources on the moon it’s self.) It has easier access to ores in the asteroid belt then earth itself. (because of no atmosphere and a much weaker gravity well to contend with) It has room to build large space ports and space ships in low gravity that don’t even have to be aerodynamic and can be built for true space exploration from the get go.. In addition it’s only two days from earth, and a terrible threat to the earth in the wrong hands. It’s also ideal for the manufacturing of items that would be environmentally dangerous on earth but no threat on the moon… Compare that to a space port on earth at the bottom of an enormous gravity well in an atmosphere containing oxygen.

    If there is a God we couldn’t have ask for more then an atmosphere free planet within 100,000 miles of earth with a weak gravity well. The moon is a planet not a rock in the sky and is vital to the future of earth and all of it’s people.

    Our earth is the absolute worst possible place to be launching energy wasting, dirty, environmentally dangerous rocket ships on any kind of large scale, not only is it dangers for the crews, but the planet itself. The moon in the wrong hands can threatened total domination of planet earth…It can protect the earth from rogue, planet killing “rocks” as well as guiding the same large said rocks and dumping them on top of New York city…Telescopes built on the far side free from light pollution. and radio interference will be used for monitoring the universe, research in zero vacuum technologies, as well as providing new opportunities for the youth on an over crowded earth. It’s a win win for the U.S. as well as the future of a free earth.

    We ignore the moon at our own risk. To fall behind in the race to the moon is unthinkable for the United States. The growing Mongol hordes are on the march again and we are at a turning point.

  36. @whatsup

    The withdrawal symptoms are showing. Time for an intervention.

    Paragraph 1: Old Europe doesn’t apply as a current model of world peace, they didn’t have nukes.
    Paragraph 2: If you are following Nancy’s series, 13 things that saved Apollo 13, the mission abort was given on the outbound leg to the Moon.
    Paragraph 3: There is next to no interest in terrestrial solar power which comes without the expense and other obstacles of solar power beamed from the Moon.
    Paragraph 4: God isn’t generally concerned with science or evidence or logic or reliable knowledge discussed in this forum.
    Paragraph 5: The Moon isn’t going to be in anybody’s hands during our life time.
    Paragraph 6: The Moon hasn’t been ignored. It may qualify as the most intensely studied object in the sky, which brings us neatly to why it is no longer on NASA’s agenda.

    One of the ways NASA returns our investment is by developing new technologies that may spin off to our industrial base and consumer markets, and conversely, we can’t reasonably expect NASA to earn it’s keep and develop new stuff unless we pay them to take on new missions.

    Hence NASA won’t be returning humans to the Moon also the same reason it won’t be climbing Mt Everest, rafting down the Mississippi or rubbing two sticks together to make fire. We’ve been there and done that, it’s not new and there is very little useful knowledge to be gained that couldn’t be extracted by a rover, lander, satellite or some other cheaper tool if needed.

    On April 15th , the logic of “Moon not necessary” was caught up by the policy of “Moon not necessary” and the recognition of “expense not necessary” and “delay getting to other places not necessary”. Although for some, the Moon apparently still provides something to bark at.

    Sanity has prevailed and in the words of the musicians Run DMC, “It’s like that and that’s the way it is”.

  37. “Fortunately for us the moon/earth is actually a twin planet system”

    The moon is not a planet. A dictionary is your friend:

    Most of what you described could be accomplished from additions to the ISS, likely at substantially reduced costs then trying to construct difficult and supremely expensive structures on the Moon (or burrowing into Lunar Regolith) If only considering interplanetary exploration, a pre-assembled space-based launch may be most desirable.

    Weapons on the moon and transporting large swaths of people to live on the moon is good material for science fiction novels.

    I do appreciate and encourage your enthusiasm though.

  38. TerryG –
    That’s funny.. “Been there, done that”… So I guess that when we plant our flag on Mars there will be no need to go back there?… Sounds like f***ing Obama….
    re: Paragraph 5… Really?… Are you really old or what?
    I pose a question to all humans reading this: What would you prefer?… A permanent base on the moon beginning less than ten years from now and shortly after, a trip to Mars?.. Or let’s sit here and think about it for a few years then implement it years after we decide?
    P.s.. I’m not sure I know that song but didn’t they throw Aerosmith back in the limelight?

  39. TerryG Says: April 16th, 2010 at 9:15 pm @whatsup

    TerryG claims: “The Moon hasn’t been ignored. It may qualify as the most intensely studied object in the sky, which brings us neatly to why it is no longer on NASA’s agenda.”

    Only two facts (out of a multitude) can show how wrong this assumption is.

    #1 For 40 years NASA “knew” that the moon was bone-try. Then a former President set up an agenda to return to the Moon. And within a few years after decades of so-called knowledge of that allegedly “most intensely studied object” was completely turned over: THERE IS PLENTY OF WATER ON THE MOON, EVEN AT THE EQUATOR IS WATER. Thank you, Mr. Bush, for bringing light into our self-inflicted ignorance!

    #2 Even today it is nearly impossible to refute the conspiracy theory of the so called moon hoax by simply showing pictures of the Apollo landing sites. No one can claim that the Moon is very thoroughly studied if not even this prove can be brought. Only because of the Bush-agenda NASA and others turned their attention back to the Moon and in this context attained some first pixels of the Apollo landers.

    (And #3: NASA’s agenda = the current President’s agenda = time again for self-inflicted ignorance)

  40. What I thought was really funny is when Obama said that he expects to be alive when we finally land on Mars……
    Well, I guess that could happen.. His odds will be better if he is thrown out in ’12……

  41. Al Hall said;

    “I pose a question to all humans reading this: What would you prefer?… A permanent base on the moon beginning less than ten years from now and shortly after, a trip to Mars?.. Or let’s sit here and think about it for a few years then implement it years after we decide?”

    Are you absolutely nuts. Listen. America is in one of it worst financial positions in its history, but as usual bigoted fools like you just pretend everything is normal and on the level. Fix the governmental debt and get the economy in order. The US expects it, the rest of the world expects it. Following these foolish and unobtainable dreams does not fix the current problem.

    Obama seems the only one aware of the current economic environment, which was created by excesses of the American population and its corporations.

    Fix this blight and just forget the unfettered nonsense, please!

  42. “Sounds like f***ing Obama….”

    As usual, charming to the last….

    You mean; “Sounds like another crazy American!”

    … and that’s certainly you.

  43. Hon. Salacious B. Crumb, three annotations:

    “America is in one of it worst financial positions in its history”

    Crisis has a long history, from the “Wall Street Crash” of 1929 till to the “New Economy Crash” (The dot-com bubble crash wiped out $5 trillion in market value of technology companies from March 2000 to October 2002.)

    “Obama seems the only one aware of the current economic environment”

    I hope not. Otherwise, if America would depends on a single sapient guy, it would be doomed.

    “which was created by excesses of the American population and its corporations.”

    Some think that this drama began already in 1974 with Jimmy Carter’s Housing and Community Development Act.

  44. Hello Al Hall,

    No disrespect intended, but Lunar bases weren’t in the Constellation budget, so it’s not like new management squished your pet project, although there’s not much doubt about your feeling towards the leadership. It’s unlikely the position will change with a special interest petition started in this forum, but you might still get some signatures.

    The point remains we get the best value from NASA when we demand they do the new and the difficult.

    The maths maybe rusty, but in order of mission difficulty…

    An Earth-Moon return mission has an average distance of only 0.01 AU,
    An Earth-Mars return mission has an average distance of 1.05 AU,
    An Earth-Asteroid belt return mission has an average distance of 3.60 AU (no sure which asteroid they are aiming for).

    In respect of age, Neil Armstrong was 38 when he stood on the moon. If a Mars astronaut of similar age lands in 2030 they would be around 18 years old or a college undergraduate now. Oh wait … John Glenn was 77 when he flew on STS-95. Good luck astronauts who ever and what ever age you are.


  45. Hans-Peter Dollhopf
    In your last comment I do agree completely in what you said. I have no concerns that America will pull out of this problem, but it seems that some of the American population seem rather oblivious that there is a problem at all. Obama is just a leader, and well, he has to explain and encourage others to understanding the current issues. My only point was if he wasn’t pushing fixing the economy, then it is hard to expect others to follow him. As you said. He cannot do it alone.
    The future certainly requires planning and the times of recklessness in term of the budget must come to an end – at least for a little while. I have some confidence that the future will be rosier, but especially not now.
    Those who cannot see this simple point are basically fools. (aka like Al Hall somewhat reckless and unhinged comments.)

  46. Hon. Salacious B. Crum –
    Are you kidding me? .. The proposed 2011 U.S. budget is approaching four trillion dollars. Yes, I said TRILLION. If the current powers that be were worried about debt they would stop the spending spree that they have been on since day one. They are going to spend at least 1.5 trillion more than they have this year. The national debt is close to 13 trillion… So a few billion dollars to progress our species is a drop in the bucket. They just need to stop passing bills that the majority of the American people don’t approve of. Lots of money saved there.

    TerryG –
    No disrespect taken.. That guy who will be standing on Mars, hopefully sometime this century, is going to be paying taxes for what the current Admin is doing. And it isn’t anything to do with space exploration. And I wish it was my “pet project”. And I wish I was the president. If I was, our debt would be lower, our deficit would be lower, and we would be setting up shop on the moon in less than 10 years.

  47. @whatsup

    “The Apollo mission that was aborted demonstrates the “gravity” problem of earth as well as the opportunity of opening the moon as a doorway for any space faring nation. -.. Because of the strong gravity well of earth the Apollo mission made it back with little more then a fire cracker for a rocket and a parachute for landing gear”

    whatsup, may I advise you to learn a bit about orbital mechanics? You will soon discover how BS your explanation is.

    Also there is no light-pollution on any side of the moon.

  48. When I was at primary school as a child fourty years ago, our teachers prescribed our country the Federal Republic of Germany, as a country that does not own noteworthy natural resources. They taught us that our resources are brain and skill.

    Well, the old and small FRG, so-called West-Germany, prior to the times when the iron curtain fell and Germany was reunited and before the rise of the corrupted European kraken, which meanwhile has more consumers than the inland market of the United States, that small country was a real success story.

    “Made in West-Germany” first was a British phrase to mock post-war German products. Like the wind, it turned into a seal of quality.

    Slowly getting old, I wonder what cultural breach took place. Which one of our decision makers betrayed us to so that we follow the way of social and economical decay? And we also quite safe could have colonized the Moon.

    The Moon is a place for people that can rely on nothing else but their hard aquired skills and technologies. In the begining, the Moon is nothing but deprivation. But then again, the Moon promises an abundancy of natural resources.

    I don’t understand why our desicion makers lost that chance. We already could have installed a paradise over there.

    The Germans can teach the Americans how to be loosers.

  49. OBAMA is an idiot and has not done proper the research. What good is visiting an asteroid ?? I firmly believe we need practice before attempting to get to Mars. (You can’t orbit Mars then go back to land like we did the Moon – THAT’s stupid when it will be a two year trip!!!) At least if there is a safety issue or problem while going to the Moon, there is a chance to “rescue” the crew or help them.

    Keep in mind we haven’t attempted anything that complicated in 35 years. If something goes wrong on the way to Mars, astronauts are just plain dead. The valuable minerals that exist on the Moon (titanium – HELIUM 3!!!) will be targeted by China and Russia, and if we aren’t involved we become a third world nation as soon as they figure out how to ship it back to Earth. What rationale is there for visiting an asteroid??? We have already landed on one and have visited many. That is a waste of time and money.
    I agree that “Apollo on steroids” is a horrible idea – but we have already spent 50 billion dollars on it. There isn’t any company in this country that can come close to the experience or commitment and the only way a private company could afford it is by the government paying for it anyway. Never mind any REALISTIC time frame.

    NASA was created to invent , explore, and experiment in the name of science and was given a true goal that is cherished by the public and professionals alike. To take them out of that portion of the business is like cutting off one of their hands. LET THEM DO WHAT THEY HAVE BEEN DOING FOR 50 YEARS!!
    Relying on a companies that have ZERO experience is dumb.

    Why not ask our Astronauts who they would rather fly with??? They are the ones who will pay the price while the wannabes are gaining experience…….
    I thinks he’s changing the mission just to put his finger prints on it.

    We have to vote his ass out of office in 2012. What we really need is an astronaut in the White House!!!

  50. One of many challanges in this plan is selling it to the American people.

    It is an interesting approach but I wish Mr. Obama had said something that showed the same kind of enthusiasm expressed by S. Pete Worden, Nasa Ames Research Center Director:

    “I think one of the key things is, america will build the world’s first true spaceship. something you see in science fiction movies…people will get into this, they’ll go to the moon, next year they may go to mars, or an asteriod…so it provides a new capability…this will be exciting.” – April 10, 2010

    He was speaking of a spacecraft built and stationed in orbit.

    It it realistic? Others can decide. But, at least it is a vision people can wrap their heads around.

  51. @Hans-Peter Dollhopf

    “The Germans can teach the Americans how to be loosers.”

    That’s a little harsh. Wernher von Braun came to the US and went on to be possibly the leading rocket scientist of his generation. The Apollo programme would have taken much longer without him. There is a lengthy list of Germans Nobel laureates, not least Albert Einstein, that have made a lasting contribution to science before and after moving to the US. The list is a little too long and a little off topic to give here. Take pride and cheer up.


    Yes and No. With the exception of He3, Lunar minerals are also present on Earth at a fraction of the cost. It’s too early to hit the He3 alarm button. No one has a built (or designed) a He3 fusion rector or any other less exotically fuelled fusion reactor either. NIF and ITER are struggling to break even on energy spent vs energy generated, although it will be a neat party trick when if happens.

    NIF have some recent progress to report http://www.universetoday.com/2010/01/28/nuclear-fusion-power-closer-to-reality-say-two-separate-teams/

    Two astronauts have risen to NASA administrator role, Maj Gen Charles Bolden and Vice Adm. Richard Truly. If one ever makes it to the White House, lets hope they turn out to be a nut job like disgraced astronaut Lisa Nowak.

  52. TerryG,

    my lamentation was more targeted on Hon. Salacious B. Crumb’s comments.

    He claims to become “aware of the current economic environment, which was created by excesses of the American population and its corporations.” And that this is a reason why Americas space exploration makes false steps.

    And what I tried to describe in my following comment was a nearly forgotten mental attitude. I simply wanted to talk about the way current America and current Germany generate wealth: out of nothing: through gambling on the stock exchange or by dealing on credit or by to buying and selling immovable property …

    What I wanted to say is that progress in space cannot be realized with the concepts used to care for your retirement provision!

    I wanted to state that you need to be aware that real wealth is generated on work benches and not on the telephones of financial brokers. And space exploration bases on real hardware and real job performance instead of monetary self-deception or the grants from the central government.

    So my problem was not pride but the perspective on how we currently believe how progress can be generated.

    I say that Germany never tried to colonize the Moon despite it had the inner attitude to deal with the requirements of a lunar environment, full of privations but also promising due to an abundance of resources and possibilities.

    I guess that China is the todays world work bench. So I guess that they have the proper mental attitude to do the job. America instead more and more tries to solve its social problems and to meet its demands on juggling with virtual wealth. Until the next bubble bursts.

  53. “OBAMA is an idiot and has not done proper the research. What good is visiting an asteroid ??

    There is plenty of research indicating that asteroids are resource rich beyond our wildest imagination. A decision to visit one is more than justifiable.

    Also, your chances of being rescued around Mars will be no worse than those that Apollo crews faced (0% chance). If you think the Apollo astronauts could have been rescued in space, you are mistaken. No rescue vessel could have been constructed and flown in the few days or hours they might have had if something went array.

    @Hans-Peter Dollhopf:

    As awesome and capable as the German people have proven themselves to be, Germany was (and is) in no position to colonize the Moon. History it seems, has gotten in the way. WWII, Communist occupation, and lingering regional disparities have prevented Germany from ascending the economic ladder. Still, I’d look at the positive side of things. Now Germany can play a pivotal role in a more international European Union and still achieve great things within this united construct.

  54. I dunno. The more I think about this, the worse I like it. It smells like a makework program to keep our finger in the space pie. It smells like a holding project to wait until the war and the economy is better, then oooo, then we might have a nice sexy Men to Mars project.

    There is nothing that cannot be done as at asteroid that a well programmed robot cannot do. There is no real reason for people to go to an asteroid.

    I would like us work together as one world and build a robot fleet that will BRING an asteriod to L5. Then let the terraforming begin.

  55. @ Uncle Sam

    No, the German administration is completely incapable and ignorant in matters of space technology. Economic resources for ambitious space projects have been and still are available aplenty here in Germany.

    On the basis of America’s help and friendship after WWII, this economy became “a leading exporter of machinery, vehicles, chemicals, and household equipment and benefits from a highly skilled labor force … The German economy – the fifth largest economy in the world in PPP terms and Europe’s largest” (CIA World Factbook).

    Do not expect inspiration from Germany’s decision makers with regard to human space exploration. Jesco von Puttkamer a few years ago already told me that after one of his lectures. There was and still is plenty of wealth here but hardly any willingness.

    Conclusion. Compared with the reluctance to promote human spaceflight on an independent economic basis in Germany, Americas argy-bargy none the less promises paradisiacal conditions.

  56. Obama wants to send a manned Mars orbiter!!?? Right, which group of astronauts is going to volunteer for that mission? Just for a look-see? If anyone does fly that mission I hope they’ll do what the Apollo X crew didn’t do when they did the simulated landing approach, and actually land. A one-way pioneering mission is the way to get to Mars

  57. Obama wants to send a manned Mars orbiter!!?? Right, which group of astronauts is going to volunteer for that mission? Just for a look-see? If anyone does fly that mission I hope they’ll do what the Apollo X crew didn’t do when they did the simulated landing approach, and actually land. A one-way pioneering mission is the way to get to Mars.

  58. Terry G,
    “If one ever makes it to the White House, lets hope they turn out to be a nut job like disgraced astronaut Lisa Nowak.”

    I’m hoping this statement was a typo…….

    German ingenuity and research has given us a lot of the luxuries we enjoy in every day life, and has always been on the forefront of the future. Except for that 12 – 15 years in the early 20th century, they have always been highly regarded in the scientific world. Had one or two international issues been handled better after World War One, those 12 years probably would not have happened. Then again, Von Braun probably wouldn’t have gotten the funding he needed either so, the point is moot.

    With out Von Braun, I don’t believe America would have ever made it to the Moon at all. He came to this country with all the necessary credentials in one neat little package. With out the “convenience” of his experience and expertise I don’t think this country would have had the attention span to get it done. We certainly would not have gotten there first.

    I know that pulling off a rescue in space is virtually impossible, but the public needs to at least think there is a chance. What I was getting at was, if Obama thinks the first time we go to Mars we are going to simply orbit the planet and come home…… with out landing….. that is just a waste of time, money and needless risks.

    Does anyone believe any astronaut wants to spend all that time in travel, finally get that close, and then NOT attempt a landing?

    I am afraid that the country will have lost interest in the adventure before the mission even comes home. This country has a severe attention disorder and always has. And it gets worse every 8-9 months when another I-phone comes out.

    Think about it, a country with the attention span of a gnat, and a two year mission with out achieving the real goal……

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