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Charles Bolden  (Source: nasa.gov)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden doesn't see the point of another trip to the moon

There seems to be some differences in opinion around NASA concerning whether the goal of human space exploration should be to land on an asteroid or take another trip to the moon.

The Space Studies Board and the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board held a meeting in Washington last week, where the topic of asteroid vs. moon took place.

Al Carnesale of UCLA said there wasn't much enthusiasm for an asteroid landing since its initial announcement. It's been almost three years since President Barack Obama officially released plans to land on an asteroid by 2025. 

“Since it was announced, there was less enthusiasm for it among the community broadly,” said Carnesale. “The more we learn about it, the more we hear about it, people seem less enthusiastic about it.”
 
“There’s a great deal of enthusiasm, almost everywhere, for the Moon. I think there might be, if no one has to swallow their pride and swallow their words, and you can change the asteroid mission a little bit… it might be possible to move towards something that might be more of a consensus.”

However, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden disagrees. He said that NASA will gladly participate if another nation agrees to lead a human lunar landing, but NASA will not plan one of its own. 

“They all have dreams of putting human on the Moon,” said Bolden. “I have told every head of agency of every partner agency that if you assume the lead in a human lunar mission, NASA will be a part of that. NASA wants to be a participant.”
 
“NASA will not take the lead on a human lunar mission. NASA is not going to the Moon with a human as a primary project probably in my lifetime. And the reason is, we can only do so many things.”

Bolden believes NASA should stick to the plan of sending humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars by 2030. 

“We intend to do that, and we think it can be done," said Bolden. 

Source: Space Politics



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International Moon Base?
By Manch on 4/8/2013 3:00:02 PM , Rating: 5
We did the space station, why not do an International Moon Base. I think it would be a great place to develop technologies, ie mining for example that can be used for a future Mars or asteroid mission. I say Master the moon, and then move on.

Plus I already have property there! :D http://www.lunarregistry.com/land/




RE: International Moon Base?
By techxx on 4/8/2013 3:04:10 PM , Rating: 2
+1 for you! Colonizing on solid land might be a better next step than another space station. Plus, we'd all like to see some ROI on your property there before you die! :)


RE: International Moon Base?
By Manch on 4/8/2013 3:23:32 PM , Rating: 2
Very true, I was thinking about opening a garage when I retire, so instead maybe a lunar garage. Or even better, lunar golf course!


RE: International Moon Base?
By FITCamaro on 4/8/2013 3:07:34 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. We need a permanent moon base as a stepping off point into the rest of the solar system.


RE: International Moon Base?
By ebakke on 4/8/2013 3:27:45 PM , Rating: 3
<chant>Moon base!</chant>
<chant>Moon base!</chant>


RE: International Moon Base?
By Ammohunt on 4/8/2013 3:56:34 PM , Rating: 2
Yep! moonbase or die!


RE: International Moon Base?
By M'n'M on 4/8/2013 4:18:41 PM , Rating: 2
And that should be the Next Big Goal. Simply putting people on an asteroid or Mars to get boots on the ground and a flag planted isn't enough for me, let alone the majority of the people who will be asked to pay for it. Exploration is good but we get a lot more bang for the $$ via machines.

If we really want to use space and it's resources we've got to find a way to live off that land and the best and easiest place to start is the Moon. Either we can use it's materials to make what we need to explore space (and thus not have to lift everything out of Earth's gravity well) or we're stuck here until some technological revolution in fighting gravity comes along.

I say strip-mine the Moon ... but just the far side so we don't ruin the view.

(besides I know Moon base women will wear silver catsuits and have electric purple hair. Who doesn't think that's great.)
http://cumbriansky.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/sha...


RE: International Moon Base?
By delphinus100 on 4/8/2013 8:09:38 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
I say strip-mine the Moon ... but just the far side so we don't ruin the view.


Yeah, who wants to look up at a lifeless, cratered - oh, wait...


RE: International Moon Base?
By MozeeToby on 4/8/13, Rating: 0
RE: International Moon Base?
By M'n'M on 4/8/2013 6:17:19 PM , Rating: 2
Your concern is the delta V needed and yet you think moving an asteroid is the future ?

The good thing about the Moon is you don't need a rocket to move things from it's surface to LMO or beyond.


RE: International Moon Base?
By delphinus100 on 4/8/2013 8:15:37 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed. Perhaps an argument can be made for sending oxygen produced from the Lunar regolith (effectively unlimited...the O2 in the ice there may or may not be too rare, and too valuable for life support right there) for chemical rocket oxidizer, life support, and commercial/industrial purposes back in Earth orbit...but that's all.

The Moon has its own reasons for permanent human habitation, but you don't go down into one gravity well, in order to reach another. Assembling and staging deep-space flights is what LEO is for. And utilizing local resources for your mission, if you can, is what you do at the destination, not through a detour.


RE: International Moon Base?
By ghost49x on 4/12/2013 12:11:09 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, to build a large space faring craft we would need some sort of space dock in orbit. But so far there are other obstacles preventing us from exploring our solar system using a manned vessel. Space Radiation being a big one.


RE: International Moon Base?
By Exirtis on 4/12/2013 12:54:56 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The problem is the amount of delta V it takes to land on the moon then launch again means that you don't actually gain that much even if you refuel there.

If you're thinking in terms of rocketry you may be correct. But because of the reduced gravity of the lunar environment a space-elevator becomes a legitimate option, since it's within the reach of current materials technology to cope with it.

With a functioning space elevator in place, escape velocity becomes irrelevant; electric motors running at a leisurely pace can supply all the delta V that's needed to hoist materials & equipment up & down the anchored cable.

There's at least one company, called Liftport, that is already actively engaged in research and planning for a moon-based space elevator (video & link at comment's end). More companies are likely to follow as the private aerospace industry matures, but they definitely will as soon as anyone reaches certain demonstrable milestones.

Even without a space elevator, however, various kinetic launching systems (utilizing maglev rails, for example) become more compelling possibilities without the obstacles of the Earth's deeper gravity well and comparatively crowded surface to overcome.

A Lifport lunar elevator video: http://youtu.be/PdFDBV03kiA
The space elevator page on their website (with lunar section): http://www.liftport.com/Main/tech.htm


RE: International Moon Base?
By StormyKnight on 4/8/2013 11:18:25 PM , Rating: 2
I vote for moonbase, just as long as there isn't a nuclear waste dumpsite on the darkside of the moon.


RE: International Moon Base?
By JediJeb on 4/10/2013 6:02:22 PM , Rating: 2
Which side stays dark?


RE: International Moon Base?
By boeush on 4/8/2013 4:48:29 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I think it would be a great place to develop technologies
I doubt it. All tech development will be on Earth, for the foreseeable future. At best, Earth-developed tech could then be tested and/or deployed on the Moon.

Moon colonies will have some major problems to tackle. First, no easy abort in case of a catastrophe. Second, what is certainly going to be a constant war with lunar dust -- which is extremely abrasive and toxic, and will be a constant source of equipment failure, heavy maintenance, and health problems. Third, dealing with micrometeorites and radiation: one can burrow down and create subterranean (subloonean?) habitats to address this, but any surface activities or installations are still extremely fraught. Fourth, astronomical costs of equipment, materials, and transportation.

That last one, by the way, we can tackle without ever going to the Moon or any other place. IMHO, all resources for human-rated space tech should focus in two areas: better space suits (e.g. like http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oce/appel/ask/issues/4... ), and drastically cheaper lifters (reducing cost to orbit per pound by 10x or more.) Everything else, IMHO, is wasted effort and/or ahead of its time.


RE: International Moon Base?
By Manch on 4/8/2013 5:21:30 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
At best, Earth-developed tech could then be tested and/or deployed on the Moon.


OK, to test and develop it further. The moon can provide us with real use scenarios. Kinda like the other article on DT talking about the Navy's laser. They're sending it out for field testing.

quote:
Moon colonies will have some major problems to tackle. First, no easy abort in case of a catastrophe.

Well, Mars nor an asteroid will have these either...next!

quote:
Second, what is certainly going to be a constant war with lunar dust -- which is extremely abrasive and toxic, and will be a constant source of equipment failure, heavy maintenance, and health problems.


Have Dyson make a lunar vacuum cleaner. Maybe they can team up with iRobot. Equipment failures will keep my lunar garage in business. See it will work out! Of course their will be issues. But in order to develop these technologies we need a place to develop them!

quote:
Third, dealing with micrometeorites and radiation: one can burrow down and create subterranean (subloonean?) habitats to address this, but any surface activities or installations are still extremely fraught.
And those issues would be encountered going to Mars or an Asteroid. Shielding tech can be tested on the moon.

quote:
That last one, by the way, we can tackle without ever going to the Moon or any other place....: better space suits


And you would test those in space, and maybe on the moon as well? or since you don't have to go anywhere then don't?

I'm sorry but the preconceived attitude of it can't be done should not enter the equation. Stop looking for reasons why it shouldn't be done. All you say is no, no, no. If the moon is such a bad idea, then why is an asteroid, or Mars any better? Stay on planet Earth bro. You wont be welcome in Armstrong's the solar systems first Lunar titty bar.


RE: International Moon Base?
By boeush on 4/8/2013 5:36:33 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
I'm sorry but the preconceived attitude of it can't be done should not enter the equation.
Not a matter of can or can't. It's a matter of affordable vs. prohibitively expensive. A.K.A. bang for the buck. Budgets are tight, and only getting tighter going forward.
quote:
If the moon is such a bad idea, then why is an asteroid, or Mars any better?
I didn't say they were. They're all pretty boneheaded ideas, IMHO. Stick to robots for exploration; they're much more cost-effective and hazard-proof. For development of human spaceflight, at this point in time we're still stuck working out the fundamentals.

Learn to crawl before you try to walk, much less run. Or you could throw $Trillions into an incinerator for dramatic effect and political flair, but I bet you wouldn't do that if it were your own money...


RE: International Moon Base?
By Manch on 4/8/2013 5:51:44 PM , Rating: 2
We've been launching people into space for a while now. Private companies will soon be offering rides, companies are looking at privatizing the moon and asteroids for mining purposes. Yeah it will be expensive, but the benefits outweigh the risks. Just like the international space station we should split the costs with other countries. We throw trillions away on lots of other stuff. Id rather they throw it at the moon. NASA is run by my money and everyone who pays taxes. If I was rich, I would throw my personal fortune at it.


RE: International Moon Base?
By boeush on 4/8/2013 7:12:51 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
We've been launching people into space for a while now.
Instead of spending money developing more efficient ways to do so...
quote:
Private companies will soon be offering rides
Suborbital only; that's a far cry even from LEO, never mind deep space.
quote:
companies are looking at privatizing the moon and asteroids for mining purposes
Which at this point makes about as much economic sense as any other garden-variety (non space-related) Ponzi scheme. If space launches got a lot cheaper per unit of mass in orbit, then maybe that would change. Not until then.
quote:
Yeah it will be expensive, but the benefits outweigh the risks.
Nice platitude. But it's not only the risks you have to consider when weighing benefits; it's also the costs.
quote:
We throw trillions away on lots of other stuff.
Also pretty stupid of us; but compounding stupidity with additional acts of stupidity is not an improvement, IMHO.
quote:
Id rather they throw it at the moon.
I'd rather they didn't throw it anywhere at all, but invested wisely in fundamental research and long-shot/breakthrough technology development rather than rehashing rickety '60s space programs with incremental improvements.


RE: International Moon Base?
By Labotomizer on 4/8/2013 8:05:13 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure the point of the argument. You make an exceptional point and at no point you're arguing against going to the moon/Mars. In fact, I think we can all agree that humans as a species have a deep seated need to explore. And that has to move beyond Earth to other worlds or the species may not survive. We've never been in a situation where we're not expanding.

Your point about reducing cost to orbit is spot on as well. NASA was always a place to drive technology innovations. It was money well spent because it spurred so many other industries forward. New fuel and launch techniques or some sort of orbital elevator should absolutely be priority missions, even beyond sending people to the Moon and Mars. Like you said, if we can reduce cost to orbit by 10-100x then suddenly the private movements into space exploration and commercialization make all the economical sense in the world. The government, in this case, needs to pave the way. I wish more people would understand that...


RE: International Moon Base?
By Manch on 4/9/2013 3:08:52 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, the rides are suborbital, but they have to start somewhere. The fact that private companies are doing it at all is pretty awesome. Space X will soon be taking our astronauts to and from the space station. They're already ferrying cargo. As far as the lunar/asteroid mining goes, you may think its a Ponzi, but it has enough weight that pop-sci has addressed it in a few articles. Cost is a part of risk bro. You are after all risking a hell of a lot of time money and resources to take on such and endeavor. You seem to be focused on just the launch. The article and everyone else is talking about moon vs/asteroid/mars. I like many others believe the knowledge gained from establishing a colony on the moon is well worth the potential rewards from the tech that will evolve to make such a thing happen. We get it you want neither. You want the money spent on fundamental research and long-shot/breakthrough technology development or whatever the hell that means.


RE: International Moon Base?
By boeush on 4/9/2013 4:45:59 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The fact that private companies are doing it at all is pretty awesome.
?? ULA is a private conglomerate. Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital Sciences -- are all private companies. Have been launching stuff for decades. The only thing that's new today is a couple of new entrants for orbital launches, and some suborbital launch development. None of it fundamentally new; all of it using same-old chemical propulsion, staged rocketry, single-use hardware, and per-launch price tags well into 8 figures at a minimum.

Yes, there may be some marginal cost reductions. But what we really need is not minor tweaks, but orders of magnitude. Private industry will never deliver that, because to develop it you need a lot of basic research and a willingness to take on huge R&D risks with very low probability of profit or even any chance of breaking even.
quote:
As far as the lunar/asteroid mining goes, you may think its a Ponzi, but it has enough weight that pop-sci has addressed it in a few articles.
Oh gee, yeah, there's a weighty economic argument for ya. Right up there with flying cars and artificial brains...
quote:
You seem to be focused on just the launch.
Because that's only the key that unlocks everything else. Otherwise it's like ignoring the fundamental technology that would enable you to cross the ocean, and focusing instead on technology for construction of colonies after you got there. It doesn't matter if you've imagineered it all out on a pretty sketchpad, when you still have no way of actually getting there (at least, not without bankrupting your patrons, quite likely killing all the would-be colonists in the process, and even if you succeed, stranding them there with no affordable, sustainable resupply link -- or worse, bringing them right back and patting yourself on the shoulder for imprinting some footsteps and planting a flag while all the more productive science and tech development grinds to a halt in service of your insane budgets.)


RE: International Moon Base?
By Manch on 4/10/2013 9:25:09 AM , Rating: 2
What about SpaceX? They've broken into the monopoly the ULA had on USAF contracts because they are cheaper. They are attemping to address the reusability aspect. I'd argue that private industry and competition will drive down prices, and lead to the innovation you desire because they have to answer to their investors. The government has no inkling of give a fuq about the amount of money they throw at the monopolies they are in bed with.

I'm not saying mining the moon or an asteroid is going to happen tomorrow but as technology progresses, it will become a reality. Theres gold in them hills son, and people will want to dig it out.


RE: International Moon Base?
By boeush on 4/10/2013 6:59:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What about SpaceX? They've broken into the monopoly the ULA had on USAF contracts because they are cheaper.
True, but those are incremental improvements. Fundamentally, there is not much in their tech that's really all new.
quote:
They are attemping to address the reusability aspect.
Yes, but their concepts are not very fail-safe (e.g. the grasshopper), and fundamentally won't result in a whole lot of reusability (after a couple of launches, the hardware will still need to be scrapped, and it seems that it will need a significant rebuild even after a single launch -- similar to what happened with the Space Shuttle.) Accounting for reduced launch performance due to extra weight/complexity involved with additional subsystems to enable reusability as they've designed it, and accounting for extra inspections, processing, and retrofitting between flights, how much they will really save if anything, remains a major question.
quote:
I'd argue that private industry and competition will drive down prices, and lead to the innovation you desire because they have to answer to their investors.
Competition does drive down prices, to a point. But again, private industry is nothing new here. Our entire space program was always built on top of private industry. And as for answering to investors, the first and primary duty -- BY LAW -- of any public company is to maximize returns for the shareholders. At any cost. This takes precedence over everything else, including innovation. That means R&D budgets, and generally all costs, tend to be cut in highly competitive markets. Consequently, private industry only tends to pursue the kind of R&D where the goal and the pathway to reach it are so well defined that they can be pre-specified in detail on a project schedule, and all costs estimated with confidence up-front. That means the private industry's main area of expertise is in essence tinkering with the status quo, incrementally evolving it by optimizing on the margins. Breakthrough technology development of the type that changes paradigms, is not a strong suit of private companies.
quote:
The government has no inkling of give a fuq about the amount of money they throw at the monopolies they are in bed with.
Government being in bed with monopolies is not a problem that will be solved by the likes of SpaceX. What's the difference in the end, whether government winds up in bed with SpaceX vs. in bed with Boeing? Going from open-ended cost-plus contracts to up-front competitive bidding is definitely an improvement, but SpaceX is not the reason for it; this would have happened even if no new players entered the market -- it was a government initiative aimed at cost containment, not one fostered by private industry who were perfectly happy to extract ridiculous profit margins from the hide of the taxpayer.

But when it comes to fundamental research and breakthrough technologies, nothing can replace the role played by government agencies and academic institutions dedicated to such things. It is no coincidence that hotbeds of innovation and technology startup incubators always cluster around major universities and government research labs (e.g. Silicon Valley owes its existence to the confluence of Stanford, Berkeley, UCSF, UCSC, and Lawrence Livermore National Labs -- all clustered within just a couple of dozen miles from each other.)

In a similar vein, what NASA should be doing is not working on useless colonization projects, but pushing fundamental technology that no private enterprise would pursue. For instance: (culled from today's headlines)

http://www.livescience.com/28553-quantum-entanglem...
http://www.washington.edu/news/2013/04/04/rocket-p...


RE: International Moon Base?
By delphinus100 on 4/8/2013 8:17:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Have Dyson make a lunar vacuum cleaner


For use inside pressurized human quarters, I assume...


RE: International Moon Base?
By Gurthang on 4/9/2013 8:34:46 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
I'm sorry but the preconceived attitude of it can't be done should not enter the equation. Stop looking for reasons why it shouldn't be done. All you say is no, no, no. If the moon is such a bad idea, then why is an asteroid, or Mars any better?


That depends on your goals. The Mars and asteroid missions are a good fit for eachother provided your goal is the development long duration space flight outside the protective shield of Earth's magnetic field. Lets be quite frank going to an asteroid may not sound as sexy as Mars or setting up a moon base but it is a good proving ground for long duration flight and if a sufficiently interesting target can be found it may provide some awesome science. The manned Mars mission is lets be frank a flag planting excersize s well as a sexy excuse to keep pushing manned mission tech forward. Sure people can do far more in less time than a rover but you have far less time on the ground with people so other than the excitement of putting people on Mars the science would likely we a wash.

Personally I would like to see extra large rovers sent to the moon for the purpose of developing the technologies to build facilities for scientific outposts like radio telescopes.


RE: International Moon Base?
By Manch on 4/9/2013 10:34:59 AM , Rating: 2
fair enough,and I think getting to an asteroid and Mars are great ideas, but I think using the moon as a proving ground makes more sense in the near term. I for one would like them to send robots, and inflatable capsules a la bigelow to the moon to establish something that can later start to support a manned mission there. If the raw materials do in fact exist on the moon, then they can look at ways to harvest and build things on the moon.

The guy I've been replying to is just nope, nope, nope.


RE: International Moon Base?
By FastEddieLB on 4/9/2013 2:08:30 AM , Rating: 3
+6 for hilarity


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