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new direction for America's space program

President Bush "plans to send astronauts back to the moon by 2020, and eventually to Mars" (from cnn.com)

Comments?

Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder
Saturday, January 17, 2004

Given the level of deficits the USA is running I cannot imagine how any of this is financially feasible.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Saturday, January 17, 2004

That's easy, you increase the deficit.

Perhaps eventually there will be someone who won't loan us money anymore, but until that day, we can keep using our Mastercard to pay off our Visa.

www.MarkTAW.com
Saturday, January 17, 2004

It's an obscene waste of money.


Saturday, January 17, 2004

do they accept mastercard and visa on Mars?

Stephen Jones
Saturday, January 17, 2004

there's lots of voters in TX and FL?

(it could be a good idea, but i'm a cynic and of the structure of this thing is to ramp up expenses over time, not to mention debt.)

mb
Saturday, January 17, 2004

Well, look at this way: NASA has already slashed the hubble program, and they'll probably slash other projects (such as the shuttle program). Congress will eventually step in, not give NASA the money it needs for what Bush ordered. Bush gets a ton of credit for having bold vision, and NASA ends up having its budget slashed in the end.

SG
Saturday, January 17, 2004

>>Perhaps eventually there will be someone who won't loan us money anymore

Well, considering that most inventors think they'll make more $ investing in the US (see the money pour from Asia and Europe into the US), and, for obvious collateral effects, no one wants to see the US economy go into recession... don't expect any credit crunch any time soon :-)

FredF
Saturday, January 17, 2004

The fact that the dollar has gone into freefall suggests that people are beginning to take the money out.

However there are few currnencies where people can invest without being too worried about political security or inflation, so I presume there will always be inward investment into the States.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, January 17, 2004

>> "Well, look at this way: NASA has already slashed the hubble program, and they'll probably slash other projects (such as the shuttle program). Congress will eventually step in, not give NASA the money it needs for what Bush ordered. Bush gets a ton of credit for having bold vision, and NASA ends up having its budget slashed in the end."

Of course that's where the money's coming from.  NASA's only getting a five percent increase per year.  Compare that to the money we waste on entitlement programs ad infinitum.  It's about time somebody did something to help out the most educated among us before all our jobs end up in India and the Ukraine.  This project should, to some extent, encourage people to get excited about science and technology.  As it stands now, the only thing for our youth to get excited about is unwed motherhood to capitalize on all the wonderful entitlements society owes these leeches.

anon
Saturday, January 17, 2004

Oh, and in response to Stephen Jones, google on "EU", "Euro", "Dollar", etc.  You'll find out that the onus is now on the EU to devalue the Euro because the devalued Dollar is making it very, very attractive to purchase US manufactured goods rather than European goods.  There's certainly an upside to having devalued currency.

anon
Saturday, January 17, 2004

A low dollar is good for manufacturing, as the Chinese well know.

The dollar was too high when the Euro was worth 90 cents, and was too low when the Euro was worth $1.30.

The problem is that the comparative value of the major currencies is not in the short run  primarily the result of the comparativie costs of goods and services.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, January 17, 2004

What I don't understand is that Bush said, basically:

'It's very difficult to launch a mission to Mars because we have to fight Earth gravity to get it into Orbit. So, we'll launch from the Moon.'

My Question, Mr. Bush, is :
HOW DOES THIS "ROCKET" GET TO THE MOON?
Won't it have to fight earth gravity, then fight the (much lower) Lunar gravity?
Or, are we goign to start manufacturing rockets from moon dust?


I.e., He's saying "it's quicker to go to Mars via the Moon than to go STRAIGHT to the Moon".


Bush's plan is LunaRcy.

The real Entrepreneur
Saturday, January 17, 2004

My considered opinion is:

Ziggy played guitar. That is an absolute fact. (ok, ok.)

I wasted a couple of hundred $ of my family's money on Estes model rockets as a kid. So, I have strong personal sympathies toward space.

Mars as a goal for manned spaceflight has tremendous "cool" factor.

Yes, its budgetary demands are modest compared to most other gov. programs.

Manned Mars flight and a reinvigorated moon landing program will probably kick start the development of much more efficient and cost effective jet and plasma propulsion systems than the chemical and solid fuel rockets now used. We could see extremely inexpensive jet and air travel as a result.

Rhetorically, based upon the above point one could surmise that a reborn manned space program will represent a win-win for our economy over the very long haul (30-50 years out) due to the innovation spike that results from new flight technologies and other unforseeable other inventions.

The vision thing is extremely important. "Mega-goals" are extremely important to countries, otherwise you have inward-turning. Other countries tend to blow things up, get socially brittle, or subjugate populations. We explore space. It's what we do.  So I think Bush is making one very valid point with this: countries need inspiring goals.

On the down side: I just as strongly feel that the vastness of the distances involved imply that space travel will be a costly curiosity, at best.

Anyone who is an A. C. Clarke fan: in "Childhood's End", the alien shows a human "hitchhiker" the scale of stellar distances and tells the person that interstellar space is basically "over the head" of mankind for all time. I feel somewhat the same way even about solar system flight.

For one thing: space flight will have to come down to a *TRIVIAL* cost in terms of the overall costs of accelerating one pound of mass to escape velocity, in order for a lunar colony (never even mind a Mars presence) to become a self sustaining and economically productive target. I think I read somewhere that the "cost" of putting one pound of material in earth orbit was either $3500 or $35,000 in the recent past. Whatever. We would have to have a cost on the order of pennies per pound in order to make space economically viable. That's quite a few zeroes to economize by.

Of course, we could wind up from this with some new technology such as "near light speed" travel, and/or counterintuitively cheap jet propulsion of some form.

Last point: I think that a "space elevator" would be a more practical implementation of the goal of a space presence. Not as gee-whiz, and it would be a NIMBY target par excellence, but more doable for a economically viable space presence.

Bored Bystander
Saturday, January 17, 2004

Oh, and Stephen, say "hi" to Sir Arthur from us at JOS... :-}

Bored Bystander
Saturday, January 17, 2004

You're right that the plan to launch from the moon is lunarcy. Should do the following for a cheap reliable, very fast and environmentally friendly trip:

1. Build the Space Elevator. This is no langer a plan that gets laughts, but is totally viable.

2. Use Space Elevator to lift huge quantities of cargo into orbit.

3. Assemble ion-beam rocket ships in orbit.

4. Ship cargo to mars with ion beam rockets - WAY faster than conventional means. No 7 months here since at constant acceleration until the half way point then turn around.

5. Once all the goods are there and factories pulling oxygen out of the soil and planting algae and other hardy crops, tool on over there with human Mars Colony 1. Ta dah! We in business now! Hope you like algae with your algae.

10-100 times cheaper than a conventional mission and will get there faster.

For bonus points - who invented the ion beam engine?

That's right - an illegal alien who loved star trek and snuck into the US because he wanted to work for NASA!

Where would we be without immigrants?

Dennis Atkins
Saturday, January 17, 2004

"Ship cargo to mars with ion beam rockets - WAY faster than conventional means. No 7 months here since at constant acceleration until the half way point then turn around."

Isn't this a Catch-22?

Philo

Philo
Saturday, January 17, 2004

It sounds to me like a very bad investment -- like the International Space Station white elephant.  We spend huge sums of money just to keep people alive in space to do some mediocre science.  Meanwhile, NASA is eliminating the final servicing mission to the Hubble telescope, which means that it will probably fail several years earlier than necessary.

If we want to do good science at a fraction of the price, send robotic probes.  If we want to do something grandiose for national pride, maybe we could spend that money on something that would actually help people -- fixing our educational system?  Ending childhood hunger?  (I'm sure the conservatives on this board could come up with equally good suggestions.  <g>)

Robert Jacobson
Saturday, January 17, 2004

At last, Bush will finally be able to complete his service in the Texas Air National Guard.

Alyosha`
Saturday, January 17, 2004

OK, so say, we do build a rocket factory on the mine, and mine the moon for fuel and whatever it takes to build a rocket.  Then, because there's less gravity and it's easier, we launch a couple of guys to mars, where they land, walk around adding new cliches to the English language, and collect some little red rocks.

How do we get them back?

Mars isn't a moon, it's a full-blown planet.  It's a little over half the size of earth, and in mass about one-ninth that of earth.  A 100-pound person would weight about 39 pounds on mars.

By comparison, the moon is a little over a quarter of the earth's size, but in mass is only 1/81 of earth, so a 100 lb. person would weigh 17 pounds on the moon.

We have shown that we could build a small, portable rocket into the lunar excursion module that had enough power to lift two people who weighed about 50 lbs each back into lunar orbit.

Can we build and transport something that can do the same on mars?  We've more than doubled the weight, after all.

JT
Sunday, January 18, 2004

What does Bush mean, 'back' to the moon?  NASA didn't go to the moon the last time.  It went to a Disney film set!  I thought everyone knew.

http://www.empusa.demon.co.uk/lunar/lunar1.htm

Trawlerman
Sunday, January 18, 2004

Can we send George Bush to Mars?

Gareth McCaughan
Sunday, January 18, 2004

http://billmon.org/archives/000961.html

Anon
Sunday, January 18, 2004

Oops, wrong link. I'm sorry, perhaps I should also post a small summary...

"One can already imagine the cost overruns required to handle those "realities." Imagine it: a drilling project on Mars -- roughly 300 million miles away from the Defense Contract Audit Agency. Using proprietary technology so secret the customer can't be told what it is or how it works. Under the harshest and most difficult conditions imaginable. And with a $1 trillion budget to hide it in."

There's my thoughts and your answer.

Anon
Sunday, January 18, 2004

http://billmon.org/archives/000964.html

Anon
Sunday, January 18, 2004

Hm, wow. So this whloe Moon/Mars mission is not really about exploration of space but about MINING for resources on other planets and historically unprecedented kickbacks to contractors that donate to the right political parties.

I guess life really is just like Star Trek! Recall all the Star Trek movies where they visit some colony outpost that is a bunch of prisoners working in the dilithium mines. That's not part of the Star Trek future us space fans had in mind.

Sigh.

Dennis Atkins
Sunday, January 18, 2004

What I don't understand is why is it going to take us 16 years to get back to the moon when it only took 11 to go  there the first time?  Shouldn't it take less time to do something a second time, especially now since computers are no longer as big as a house.  We should be able to make it back to the moon in a just a few years.  Actually, we should have never stopped going.

Stress
Sunday, January 18, 2004

"Can we send George Bush to Mars?"

Sure, as long as it's a one-way trip.

anon
Sunday, January 18, 2004

What does everyone think of the idea of *colonizing* Mars? Something to protect the human race for when the next big asteroid hits?

I mean, we have to spread out sometime - so long as we can make a colony self-sustaining, why not now?

Philo

Philo
Sunday, January 18, 2004

Dennis,

Space elavator is still a dream because we don't yet have the materials.  Yes we might be close to have them in a few years but not now.

tekusme
Sunday, January 18, 2004

While we're at it, we should be exploring other galaxies. After all, if the sun explodes, implodes, or even dims just a bit both colonies would be screwed.

We should be making a tape backup of the human race today.

www.MarkTAW.com
Sunday, January 18, 2004

You know, one minute this board is whining about jobs going overseas. The next people are whining about the cost of a new massive space programme.

You haven't worked out yet that the "cost" is also "spending", as in "hiring people"..?

Personally I think it's a great plan. Good god,this is what humanity needs -- something to acheive. He's not in Kennedy's league, and he's announcing this for the wrong reasons. But that doesn't mean we have to DO it for the wrong reasons. We can have the right reasons again.

Katie
Sunday, January 18, 2004

Er,...

It’s been a long road, getting from there to here. It’s been a long time. But my time is finally near. And I will see my dream come alive at last. I will touch the sky. And they’re not gonna hold me down no more. No, they’re not gonna change my mind.  Cause I got faith of the heart. I’m going where my heart will take me. I got faith to believe. I can do anything.

(this song break was brought to you by the Halliburton Corporation's Extraterrestrial Division.)

Bored Bystander
Sunday, January 18, 2004

There is a hysterical op-ed cartoon in today's (Sunday) New York Times showing Bush in his state of the union address proclaiming we must go to Mars because he has indisputable evidence that the Martians are buying plutonium from Neptune.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Sunday, January 18, 2004

>You haven't worked out yet that the "cost" is also "spending", as in "hiring people"..?<

That thinking seems to be popular in much of Silicon Valley:

"When Bush talks about Mars, Bay Area firms see dollar signs"
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/01/16/SPACE.TMP

However, I think that's a horrible rationale for the program -- basically as a make-work project to keep aerospace workers and techies employed.  If the program isn't cost-justified, we shouldn't do it.

Robert Jacobson
Sunday, January 18, 2004

Jacobson is right .We should go back to an agrarian society. Man was not meant to travel in a vacuum. If we want to look at things, we can send unmanned robots. There is no purpose for such things to be done by humans.

By the way, I am building a robot to explore mars right now. i am also working on a robot to have sex with my wife. These robots will keep me safe from too much excitment and adventure so I have more time to think about math equations and theories and ways of reducing the population of the earth to restore the natural environment.

Theodore Kaczynski
Sunday, January 18, 2004

"Mars as a goal for manned spaceflight has tremendous "cool" factor."

so what? In the 60's something like the moon challenge might have inspired a generation. But now? Sure, it will be the "hot thing" for about three days before launch time and again 1-2 weeks 'round landing, but that's about it.
People heve been skullslammed numb by everyday "entertainment". The fact that this is "real" doesn't change very much. To  most it will just be boring (appart for a short "fashion" item) compared to <cheesy action filled SF of the week>.

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, January 19, 2004

I'm all for Americans going to Mars. As many as possible and as soon as possible.


Monday, January 19, 2004

It's interesting that many think of this proposal as expensive and a waste of money.

Expensive as compared to what? NASA's current budget is less than 1% of the total federal budget. By comparison, NASA was given 4.4% of the total federal budget in 1966. Today we reap the reward of space related technologies, (telecommunications, GPS, weather forecast, etc) but we have less interest to develop them then we did when we had none.

It's difficult to foresee if this project will realize immediate advances in nanotechnology or mining on asteroids/mars/etc. However, one would think that the US would want to continue to be the leader in space as a plan to develop technologies for (if nothing else) balancing the trade deficit in the future.

It's unfortunate that the US is the richest country in the world, but it can't agree to scrape together of 1% of its resources every year for space exploration. What could explain this? Isn't it an example of the growing dependence and addiction to government support? Who cares about science -- don't touch my soylent green!

jfm424
Monday, January 19, 2004

>I'm all for Americans going to Mars. As many as possible and as soon as possible. <

Don't be hatin'!

Malibu's Most Wanted
Monday, January 19, 2004

Well said, jfm424.

anon
Monday, January 19, 2004

hmmm... I don't know why, but when I hear Bush Jr. talking about rockets, I immediately imagine him dreaming about funny new weapons. I wouldn't be surprized to see happen something like :

- Mars promizes
- huge budget increase and redistribution inside NASA
- any govermental scam that would allow to turn this money into the star wars II program that was Jr.'s pet military project before 11/09.

After all, they already managed to make people forget about WMD and Iraq-Al Quaeda supposed links. I'd like to say that they made them forget about Bin Laden, but --call me a paranoid-- I wouldn't be surprized to see him caught just before some major election...

Anyway, this is decades-long program, and promizes seldom last after the next election. Even if this is a sincere goal, there will be so many goverments and crisis during the project's lifetime that chances are martians will visit earth before humans go to Mars.

Fabien F.
Monday, January 19, 2004

Isn't this a Republican administration?

Shouldn't they be for PRIVATIZING space?

Seems that the rest of their platform involves the belief that Big Government is Bad Government and that everything the public sector does is inefficient, wasteful, and useless.

Alyosha`
Monday, January 19, 2004

As the US has invaded most places on earth it probably reckons its time to look for redder pastures.

And the Martians will probably be a lot more grateful than the Iraquis.

Stephen Jones
Monday, January 19, 2004

Any money wasted on rockets will take away from the billions in food aid that the US delivers to India each year. Their massess are starving and they can not afford to feed them. They are counting on free grain and milk from the US. A mars program steals from the starving children in India.

Humanitarian
Monday, January 19, 2004

>> "Their massess are starving and [Indian] can not afford to feed them."

Maybe Carly Fiorina and her lot of treasonous "American" CEOs should worry about feeding the Indian people (a.k.a. multinational corporate slaves).  Or perhaps the Indians should worry about that themselves.

anon
Monday, January 19, 2004

Are you sure America sends food aid to India? To the best of my knowledge India normally had a surplus of food.

Food Aid is a subsidy to US farmers anyway.

Still if the rest of the world is allowed to become self-sufficient, the food could always be sent to Mars. After all, the Martians aren't going to worry about GSM crops turing them green!

Stephen Jones
Monday, January 19, 2004

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