Campaign '04

Zubrin, Kerry, and space exploration

In his closing plenary at the Mars Society’s annual conference in Chicago on Sunday, Robert Zubrin said that he believes that a Kerry Administration would support human exploration of the Moon and Mars. Zubrin said that he has spoken with Kerry’s “space staff” (it was unclear whether he meant Senate or campaign staffers, although I was left with the impression of the former) and that they “are not averse to the idea” of sending humans to the Moon and Mars. “It will take on a different formulation” than the current Vision for Space Exploration, Zubrin said, “but it will be just as good as what we have now.” What space advocates have to be aware of, though, he cautioned, is that if Kerry wins, he will be surrounded by a new retinue of advisors who may have different space policy ideas; thus, advocates should continue to be vigilant and press the Kerry campaign to promote human exploration beyond Earth orbit.

96 comments to Zubrin, Kerry, and space exploration

  • Mark Zinthefer

    I didn’t see the closing remarks but I find it kind of funny that Zubrin’s reassurance was that it will be “just as good as what we have now”. I got the impression that he was displeased with the current status of things.

  • John Kavanagh

    I recall a Mars Blog posting well over a year ago attributing Zubrin’s meeting with Dick Cheney and White House staffers as providing significant inspiration for, what would later be called, the Vision for Space Exploration.

    Was this a delusion of grandeur? Is this Zubrin encounter similar? Or did the good doctor just pass out copies of ‘The Case for Mars’ to Kerry advisors?

    More details would be helpful. I suspect that many of the findings of the Presidential Commission would be opposite what Kerry would implement once in office. Especially converting NASA centers to FFRDCs.

  • Mark R, Whittington

    Of course Kerry’s public statements have been harshly critical of the concept of space exploration in general and the President’s vision in particular. So I’ll just have to remain just a little bit skeptical.

  • Robert G. Oler

    The problem is that exploration is a dead horse. Its as dead as a doornail.

    We might as well spend 6 billion a year to map every square foot down on the Marianas trench. The ONLY reason we have a human spaceflight program is the local politics of it.

    You could send 2-4-6-8 people to the Moon and get “what”?

    The Shrub initiative (to kind a word) is about like Thomas Jefferson saying “forget the west…lets go explore the south pole”.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Jeff Foust

    Mark,

    I didn’t see the closing remarks but I find it kind of funny that Zubrin’s reassurance was that it will be “just as good as what we have now”.

    Zubrin made it clear he is not satisfied with the exploration initiative—he wants to see more of a focus on Mars, and a faster pace—but sees it as a step in the right direction. As Zubrin also said in the closing plenary: “We’re not where we want to be, but we’re way ahead of where we were.”

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Jeff – Well, sure, though I would argue about a focus on Mars. My question remains about what makes Zubrin thinks that Kerry is secretly a space exploration supporter? None of his public statements would seem to indicate that supposition.

  • Jeff Foust

    John,

    I recall a Mars Blog posting well over a year ago attributing Zubrin’s meeting with Dick Cheney and White House staffers as providing significant inspiration for, what would later be called, the Vision for Space Exploration.

    If the book New Moon Rising is to be believed, then Zubrin’s direct influence on the VSE was negligible, if not nonexistent. Indirectly, though, one can argue that Zubrin and the Mars Society (as well as the Planetary Society and the NSS) have helped build a case for human exploration beyond Earth orbit, although one can debate how influential their work has been among policymakers.

    I suspect that many of the findings of the Presidential Commission would be opposite what Kerry would implement once in office.

    Zubrin made it very clear during the conference that he is not a fan of the Aldridge Commission and its final report…

  • After the election, Kerry will just tell Zubrin that he was for Mars exploration before he was against it.

  • Mark Zinthefer: I read that, without even a second thought, as “damning with faint praise”. Zubrin clearly would prefer a Mars And Maybe The Moon Somewhat Later On plan.

    John: I remember something about that claim, but I don’t see a post in my archives about it.

  • Keith Cowing

    Zubrin’s visit to OSTP happened at the last minute – literally. OSTP staffers heard he was going to testify before Senate Commerce Cmte and they invited him over out of curiosity. Later, when Zubrin started to make the grandiose claims about his effect (and that of the Mars Society) upon Presidential policy development – and the announcement thereof – there was a lot of eye rolling, chuckling, and head shaking OSTP and other places. I do not recall Zubrin ever meeting with Cheney though.

  • Bill White

    First, even if GWB is re-elected and Delay “hammers” full funding for the VSE, very little will happen between now and 2008. With a $1.6 billion Hubble robot repair mission and orbiter cost over-runs, what is the most that can be spent on the VSE between now and 2008 anyways?

    Also, some people in Chicago expressed the opinion that the President’s January 2004 announcement was merely a defensive action initiated once NASA knew the orbiter “return to flight” news was going from bad to worse.

    And some of us still suspect that the VSE is really intended as a ruse to force NASA to exclusively use Delta or Atlas EELV thereby giving the Air Force costs savings. Zubrin said he hoped these two scenarios would not prove true, but would not rule them out as impossible.

    NASA and DOD sharing Delta IV is not an inherently bad idea, but hardly helpful to an exploration agenda.

    = = =

    I am still waiting for someone to tell me exactly HOW the private sector can contribute to the VSE, except maybe to help streamline the procurement process. Until private sector money is invested in orbital human spaceflight, we have a single-payer system funded 100% by the federal taxpayer and that is inherently unsustainable.

    IMHO, if DoD and NASA are the only purchasers of orbital hardware then there is NO meaningful private sector involvement. After all, STS is run by the private sector right now (United Space Alliance) and how many of us are satisified that this arrangement reflects the best facets of free enterprise?

    = = =

    A side note, the Coalition for Space Exploration issued a flyer for its February conference in Disney World, to evaluate progress on the “Bush space plan” – – Heh! – – So much for any pretext of bi-partisan ownership of the vision.

  • John Malkin

    NASA issueed an Request for Information(RFI) due by Sept. 13th.

    http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2004/aug/HQ_04267_rfis.html

    I would submit a copy of the idea to the science committee. I expect to hear more about the results during one of the NASA updates.

    The private sector is already a large part of NASA maybe too much but itís the large aerospace companies running the show, I think you mean the small more innovative companies. I think NASA has the old IBM mentality feeling safer for going with the larger companies with lots of resources. Small companies can make lots of claims about vapor hardware but will the deliver on time and cost. Yes large companies havenít been any better but small companies are a larger risk in general. There are many small companies working with NASA and the large contractors currently. This isnít an easy answer and thatís why NASA issued the RFI. I think the science committee will look to NASA and the industry for ideas. The centennial challenges are one way for NASA to spur small companies without having to go through the same approval process as with large projects.

  • Earl Blake

    I meet Dr. Zubrin at the Moon Mars Blitz in July. He labors under the delusion that anyone who takes his book is an instant convert. His assertion that Kerry is a supporter of manned space flight (comming from aides), is just more delusions on his part. This flys in the face of one of the only consistant voting patterns Kerry has and that is against manned space flight. I want to hear firm support from Kerry himself before I beleave that space exploration has chance in a Kerry administration.

    Zubrin’s vision for a Mars Direct mission would be deadly to the manned space program. If the cost overuns don’t kill it, success will. We have already seen this with Apollo. “Been there, done that, back to LOE.” The VSE is more like building a space infrastructure, it takes longer but will be harder to abandon.

  • Bill White

    I vigorously disagree that the VSE will give us “space infrastructure” – – what infrastructure are you talking about?

  • Earl Blake

    What I mean by infrastructure is that the VSE will be building bases on Earth, in orbit, on the Moon and eventully on Mars that will serve as a pathway to future exploration. Each mission is designed to build on the accoplisments of the ones before. Included will be modular space craft that will can be configured to do a variety of missions. New power systems and propulsion methods that will be incorporated in the designs. This will help shape peoples image of the VSE as an on-going mission of exploration not as a “stunt” to put a flag and boots on Mars that can be abandoned when the price gets too high or the mission is accomplished.

  • Mark Zinthefer

    Earl,

    One of the key points of Mars Direct is that teams remain on mars for extended periods of time. The Moon gave us the option to come back to Earth any time we wanted. Forcing missions to last up to a year on the planet means that real work can be done and settlement building can begin. That’s real infrastructure.

    What infrastructure do you think the VSE will provide? Rails?

    Side note to Keith: Since Rob is screwing things up so badly, can you tell us what you’ve done recently to improve the chances of manned Mars exploration via political means? Please share.

  • Anonymous

    What I mean by infrastructure is that the VSE will be building bases on Earth, in orbit, on the Moon and eventully on Mars that will serve as a pathway to future exploration.

    Really?

    What will these bases do? Mining raw materials is an Industrial Age business model not an Information Age business model. Terran LOX costs $1500 per pound in LEO if lifted by Zenit. It will cost less when/if launch costs fall.

    How the heck are you going to mine lunar LOX and deliver to LEO for less than $1500 per pound?

    What else (besides LOX) can you mine from the Moon or NEOs to assist our becoming spacefaring? Remember, anything available from the Moon or an NEO can be shipped to LEO for $1500 per pound.

    If these bases are not there to exploit local resources, why build them?

    The Moon and NEOs for practice, okay. Otherwise why go there at all?

  • John Malkin

    Currently the US has no technology to get humans out of LEO. I donít think the private sector by themselves will not provide this capability in the next 30 years. VSE tries to address our long term capability to provide human spaceflight beyond LEO. We are not starting from ground zero but itís not far from it. Infrastructure is not just the spaceship, itís the equipment to build the spaceship, the buildings to support the spaceship and the expertise to support and build the spaceship. During the Aldridge hearings they said ďif we can go to the moon why canít we go to the moonĒ. We have lost most of the infrastructure that was used to accomplish those historic journeys.

  • Mark Zinthefer

    Quite right John. Infrastructure is rockets, vehicles, launching facilities and mission plans. I think there is some ambiguity in the word “infrastructure” here which leads people (like Bush) to think that it must mean pit stops on the Moon, a repair shop at L1, and a fueling station in LEO. It’s not physical like roads or gas stations but logistical.

  • James

    Like the man said, “If you want to go to Mars, go to Mars”. One of the best parts of Mars Direct is that is allows for the same vehicle to be used on Mars, on the Moon, and even potentially as a space station module.

  • Bill White

    VSE tries to address our long term capability to provide human spaceflight beyond LEO.

    Again, I must ask HOW does the VSE do this?

    The CEV remains vaporware and on Sunday Zubrin claimed that Pete Aldridge’s “real” mission is to lock NASA into using EELV (Delta or Atlas) to help lower DoD procurement costs.

    Lower DoD procurement costs is an inherently “good thing” ™ but how does it help exploration?

  • Bill White

    Like the man said, “If you want to go to Mars, go to Mars”. One of the best parts of Mars Direct is that is allows for the same vehicle to be used on Mars, on the Moon, and even potentially as a space station module.

    A metaphor Zubrin used over and over this weekend was the following:

    Two poles are ten meters apart. If your objective is to connect the poles with rope, buy ten meters of rope and connect the poles. If your goal is to “sell rope” then you want to meander the rope all around before connecting the poles.

    Using the same vehicle for Moon, Mars and Beyond makes sense if your goal is exploration, but if your goal is to sell rope, using the same vehicle would be the last thing you would want to do.

  • Earl Blake

    Forcing missions to last up to a year on the planet means that real work can be done and settlement building can begin. That’s real infrastructure.

    Mark, A one year mission is insignificant when compared to establishing a culture of exploration that will last decades. An all out push to Mars establishes in peoples minds that this is a stunt to be abandoned once the mission is over or the price becomes too high. Building a culture of exploration as the VSE dose, establishes Mars as a destination along the way and not an end-point.

    How the heck are you going to mine lunar LOX and deliver to LEO for less than $1500 per pound?

    Iím not. Iím going to use the moon as a gas station allowing small manned ships to be launched to lunar orbit or L3 to dock with the larger ships, gassed provisioned and ready to go, used for longer voyages to Mars or NEOís. This allows for the lowest mass possible to be launched from the Earthís large gravity well on your beloved Zenits for $1500 per pound.

    Weíve already proven that we will abandon Earth infrastructure relating to space exploration by the scraping on the Saturn V manufacturing capacity. Space infrastructure ie. Exploration, needs to be a mindset shared by the whole nation as much as it is space stations, CEVís and bases on other planets or weíll never get out of LEO. The VSE comes closer to doing that than Mars Direct can ever hope to do.

  • Earl Blake

    Bill!!!!
    The Goal IS exploration!!! The moon is part of that, Mars is part of that, NEO’s are part of that , Titian is part of that! The worst thing I could think of is to do a couple explorations of Mars and than back to LEO for the next 35 years.

  • Keith Cowing

    Jeff Foust: If the book New Moon Rising is to be believed, then Zubrin’s direct influence on the VSE was negligible, if not nonexistent. Indirectly, though, one can argue that Zubrin and the Mars Society (as well as the Planetary Society and the NSS) have helped build a case for human exploration beyond Earth orbit, although one can debate how influential their work has been among policymakers.

    Keith Cowing: Well Jeff, among the exhibitors present at the MS convention was the publisher of “New Moon Rising”. Our publisher was only allowed to have a booth at the convention if they did not sell our book. This specific condition was set personally by Bob Zubrin. Either Zubrin is being petty (because he does not like me) or he is afraid of what is in the book. Probably a bit of both.

  • Mark Zinthefer

    Earl,

    This is getting increasingly off topic but…

    Building gas stations on the moon is ludicrous. how much energy, time, and hardware would you have to spend to do that? Same question for an L3 docking point? How many thousands of years would it take to reach a payback point doing that as opposed to launching from earth with one set of hardware and all the fuel you need with you?

    Building an “infrastructure” of gas stations and shipping yards is appealing in a Star Trek world but not ours. It would be overwhelmingly expensive (consider the ISS) and the paybacks would be so far off as to effectively negate them.

    A full out mars push runs the risk of being abandoned but dumping hundreds of billions into orbital tankers, lunar manufacturing facilities, and all that other junk will almost certainly kill the imitative before the first human gets to Mars.

    Zubrin can say some stuff that will make me cringe but he made an excellent point. If it takes an effort of building several ISSes to go to the moon a single time, and several moon missions before a Mars mission, you can pretty well kiss a space faring civilization goodbye. You start building interstate highway style infrastructure and you end up spending $trillion like all the news outlets are predicting.

    If putting a man on Mars costs a trillion bucks, even I would say no to that.

  • Bill White

    Exploration, needs to be a mindset shared by the whole nation as much as it is space stations, CEVís and bases on other planets. . .

    I can agree with this. But, how is that new mindset being nurtured by the VSE?

    Crewed CEV by 2014?
    Moon by 2020?
    Mars by ???

    On the 30th anniversary of Gargarin’s flight James Oberg wrote the following, preserved by Mark Wade and his marvelous astronautix website. I think its at other places as well:

    Gagarin’s flight marked the most frantic lap in the space race, a competition that taught us lessons about space projects that are forgotten only at our peril. As with any military offensive, it is the short term concentration of forces and their coordination in pursuit of swell defined goal that lead to success.

    Space projects that worked – Vostok, Apollo, Viking, even the first shuttle mission–were characterized by a crash style over a short span of years, were staffed by the best people drawn from many different backgrounds and were success-oriented. Space projects that have not worked (or are not working) lack these features.

    Spiral development means take as long as you want, no one will complain. . .

  • John Malkin

    The countries exploring the Americas would build base camps and forts. They came for two reasons exploration & profit. It is much cheaper to use local resources than to import them from a long distance. The planets, moons, asteroids and comets are islands and continents. Assuming only space exploration and more than one human trip it would be cheaper in the long run to build base camps on objects with large resources and low gravity. Mars Society by their very name seem very bias to Mars and they donít see the bigger picture of space exploration. The point is exploring all of space not just Mars, it is to boldly go where only robots have gone beforeÖ

  • Bill White

    It is much cheaper to use local resources than to import them from a long distance.

    Exactly true. Dead spot on.

    And there is nowhere beyond LEO better suited for the immediate in situ exploitation of local resources than Mars.

    Water? Carbon? Oxygen? Little or no mining of rocks is necessary on Mars to harvest these elements. And very little follow up processing.

  • Mark Zinthefer

    Argh!

    Building a lunar rocket and fuel factory isn’t like chopping down some trees and stacking a fort together. One can be done for basically free by a few guys in a couple weeks. The other will take hundreds of billions of dollars and decades to complete. That might pay off in the long run if you consider 10,000 years to be “the long run”.

    As far as using local resources is concerned, you’re preaching to the converted. Problem is, there are no local resources in orbit except for sunlight and vacuum. The moon can yield LOX and perhaps metals but no fuel, just oxidizer. Mars is where the resources can be had to develop a space faring civilization. That’s why the Mars Society favors it so much. Not because it’s red but because it is pivotal to space in the long term more so than any other moon or planet.

    Saying that we need islands in the sky to explore is fine. But you have to look at the reality that Mars if the only logical first step. It’s just a matter of resources and logistics, not a quasi-religious belief. If you look at the bigger picture of manned space exploration, you will see that Mars is the best place to start, not a place to go and finish.

  • Edward Wright

    > Building gas stations on the moon is ludicrous. how much energy, time,
    > and hardware would you have to spend to do that? How many thousands of years
    > would it take to reach a payback point doing that as opposed to launching from
    > earth with one set of hardware and all the fuel you need with you?

    “Building seaports in the New World is ludicrous. How much energy, time, and hardware would you have to spend? How many thousands of years would it take to reach a payback point as opposed to launching from Spain with one set of ships and all the provisions you need?”

    > A full out mars push runs the risk of being abandoned but dumping hundreds
    > of billions into orbital tankers, lunar manufacturing facilities, and
    > all that other junk will almost certainly kill the imitative before the first
    > human gets to Mars.

    That presumes the goal is to get a videotape of the first human on Mars, rather than doing anything useful in space.

    > If it takes an effort of building several ISSes to go to the moon
    > a single time, and several moon missions before a Mars mission, you can
    > pretty well kiss a space faring civilization goodbye.

    “If it takes an effort of building several ships to explore the North Atlantic, and several New World voyages before a China mission, you can pretty well kiss a sea-faring civilization goodbye.”

    Your mistake is defining a “space-faring civilization” as one that stages a crash program to land a few people on Mars but never does anything significant in space.

  • John Malkin

    Is the Space Shuttle a crash development? The space shuttle was announced on 5 January 1972 and its first flight on 12 April 1981, 3 years late.

  • Mark Zinthefer

    Ed, you’re simply extending the new world metaphor too far. There is a big difference between the relative costs of building seaports and space ports. Besides, I have yet to hear a convincing argument for space ports and fuel depots on the moon and in orbit that is based on physics, engineering, cost or logistics. I’ll I’ve heard is metaphors.

    Besides, if you want to go to China, go to China. Why the hell do you have to go to America first?

  • Bill White

    Mars is easiest location beyond LEO to attempt genuine in situ resource exploitation.

    No complex mining technologies needed. Suck in some CO2 and hack up some rocks and melt the permafrost.

    Voila! In situ resource exploitation.

    The Moon is a far more harsh environment with many fewer useful resources to exploit.

    = = =

    Okay, Zubrin can be a personal pain in the BEEP. Fair enough.

    But still, he is RIGHT about Mars being the easiet place for humans to survive for long periods of time via in situ resource exploitation.

  • Edward Wright

    > The moon can yield LOX and perhaps metals but no fuel, just oxidizer.

    Some of those metals make perfectly good rocket fuel.

    > Mars is where the resources can be had to develop a space faring
    > civilization. That’s why the Mars Society favors it so much. Not
    > because it’s red but because it is pivotal to space in the long term
    > more so than any other moon or planet.

    Ignoring, of course, the much greater difficulty of getting to Mars.

    It’s interesting that the Mars Society tears its hair out about building a spaceport on the Moon, then proposes to do exactly the same thing in a more remote and costly location.

  • Earl Blake

    Mark…
    Where do you get your figures for price’ time frame and payback on investment? I guess it’s the same place that the media got 1 trillion bucks for a single Mars mission.
    Bill…
    Why is Mars the next step for resources when the moon has many of the same resources, including fuel in the form of water, and is much easier to access. Even pulling oxidiser from the moon is cheaper than launching it from Earth.

    Let’s face it, Zubrin is getting old and want’s to see this Mars exploration before he dies. I’d like to see it as soon as posible too but even more I want to establish a firm foothold in space to further exploration in general not produce some stunt that may setback exploration another generation which is what I think Mars Direct will do.

  • Mark Zinthefer

    Some of those metals make perfectly good rocket fuel.

    Please explain how it’s easier and more cost effective to mine metal and construct a “rust rocket” than to make conventional fuel out of air and some stowed hydrogen.

    It’s interesting that the Mars Society tears its hair out about building a spaceport on the Moon, then proposes to do exactly the same thing in a more remote and costly location.

    That is because Mars is a more desirable destination by far scientifically and itís easier to survive once you get there. The only detraction is distance. Regarding price, I’m not sure why you think going to Mars is more expensive than the Moon aside from intuition.

    Speaking of loosing hair, this argument is making me go bald rapidly.

  • Edward Wright

    > Ed, you’re simply extending the new world metaphor too far. There
    > is a big difference between the relative costs of building seaports and space ports.

    Not really. Building a major seaport costs many billions of dollars.

    > Besides, I have yet to hear a convincing argument for space ports
    > and fuel depots on the moon and in orbit that is based on physics,
    > engineering, cost or logistics.

    Then you haven’t been listening. The argument was first made decades ago. Let me turn it around — please give me a convincing argument for locating spaceports on *Earth* instead of the Moon.

    The only good argument is that we’re already on Earth and not [yet] on the Moon.

    > Besides, if you want to go to China, go to China. Why the hell
    > do you have to go to America first?

    Because there might be useful things in America that are not available in China.

    Do you know who Europe’s largest trading partner is today?

    Again, it comes down to a question of purpose — do you want to develop space or just get a few rocks and pictures of astronauts walking on Mars?

  • Anonymous

    It’s interesting that the Mars Society tears its hair out about building a spaceport on the Moon, then proposes to do exactly the same thing in a more remote and costly location.

    Making lunar fuel to return from the Moon to Earth is a GREAT idea. Lunar fuel to help go to Mars does not help going to Mars and therefore is stupid.

    Lunar water ice? As far as I can recall, that has not yet been proven.

  • Bill White

    please give me a convincing argument for locating spaceports on *Earth* instead of the Moon.

    Expense. We need Terran launch facilities to do anything. So we need them either way.

    We can ship LOX from Earth to LEO for $1500 per pound. Mine lunar LOX and ship to LEO for $1500 per pound and we can talk.

  • Mark Zinthefer

    Earl,

    Where are you getting your estimates that it will be cheaper to build all this space junk rather than to launch directly? I’m basing my figures on the fact that ISS has cost about $100 billion so far. Where are your optimistic figures coming from? What exactly is your time to payback?

    And since when did the Moon have nearly as much water as Mars and when did it acquire an atmosphere or any substance?

    Yes, Zubrin’s getting old and would probably like to see a Mars mission before he kicks it. So? Since when has wanting something badly become mutually exclusive with knowing what you’re talking about. Bob’s diplomatically and politically weak but technically strong.

  • John Malkin

    One mission Mars wouldn’t be economical to use space base resources but multiple trips to Mars and other destinations could benefit from space base resources. They would need to be placed strategically. I don’t think you would build a orbital gas station around Mars when you can just land on Mars and create the return fuel. However you might use fuel from the moon instead of Earth to get to Mars. I don’t think we have enough information to develop a return on investment for space base resources since we don’t even know what we want to do in space.

    This course has some very detail PDF presentations on lunar resources.
    http://fti.neep.wisc.edu/neep533/SPRING2004/neep533.html

  • Bill White

    However you might use fuel from the moon instead of Earth to get to Mars.

    This is what cannot work unless you can deliver fuel to LEO (or perhaps L1) for $1500 per pound. That is the cost to lift fuel via Russian boosters to LEO.

    How many studies do you need to conclude that a lunar fuel production facility cannot produce fuel at $1500 per pound after delivery to LEO?

    I don’t think we have enough information to develop a return on investment for space base resources since we don’t even know what we want to do in space.

    What do we want to do in space?

    I agree, we need national consensus on this point. How has the VSE helped us do that? Has Sean O’Keefe said a single word about the Aldridge Commission since the report came out?

    Seems to me that GWB has said this is my plan, take it or . . . take it. And if Tom Delay has his way, PlanBush will be hammered down our throats. ;-)

    Great way to build consensus.

    That said, William Langeweische concurs with your main point in the Atlantic Monthly. Accepting a free trial lets you see it here.

  • Edward Wright

    > Expense. We need Terran launch facilities to do anything. So we need them either way.

    We don’t need the HLV launch facilities for anything, except going to Mars — and even then, only if we do it Zubrin’s way.

    > We can ship LOX from Earth to LEO for $1500 per pound. Mine lunar LOX
    > and ship to LEO for $1500 per pound and we can talk.

    Not about anything useful. As long as it costs $1500 per pound to place stuff in orbit, any serious space development is impossible.

  • John Malkin

    Congress is the consensus which goes back to a multi-year authorization bill.

  • Bill White

    As long as it costs $1500 per pound to place stuff in orbit, any serious space development is impossible.

    How does the VSE address this issue in any manner whatsoever?

    Multi-year congressional authorization?

    Yup. Once Congress agrees on why we are in space, at all, then we can achieve one of those. It would be nice.

  • The Management

    A gentle reminder that participants in this debate should limit their comments to the political aspects of the VSE, Mars Direct, and other alternatives, not the nitty-gritty technical details. Thanks.

  • Jeff Foust

    A long time ago, in a posting far, far, away, Bill White wrote:

    A side note, the Coalition for Space Exploration issued a flyer for its February conference in Disney World, to evaluate progress on the “Bush space plan” – – Heh! – – So much for any pretext of bi-partisan ownership of the vision.

    I’m assuming Bill is referring to the “Continuing the Voyage of Discovery” conference flyer that was available at the conference (it was also available at the Return to the Moon conference in Las Vegas last month.) I read through it and could not find the phrase “Bush space plan” anywhere in it. The closest I could find is this sentence:

    One year after President Bush announced the Vision for Space Exploration and the establishment of NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, we will bring the space exploration community together to reflect on the accomplishments of the first year and discuss plans for 2005 and the unfolding architecture for the space exploration journey.

    This doesn’t seem at all partisan to me. Bill, were you referring to some other passage in this or another flyer?

  • Edward Wright

    > Mars is a more desirable destination by far scientifically and
    > itís easier to survive once you get there.

    Mars is more desirable scientifically to scientists who study Mars. That does not represent the unanimous opinion of the scientific community, no matter who many times Bob Zubrin says so.

    If you think it’s easier to survive on Mars, I suggest you count the number of people who have done so.

    > The only detraction is distance.

    No, it’s distance and time and the gravity well…

    > Regarding price, I’m not sure why you think going to Mars is more expensive
    > than the Moon aside from intuition.

    Math.

  • Edward Wright

    > What do we want to do in space?

    > I agree, we need national consensus on this point.

    Why? We don’t have a national consensus on what to do in the air or on the sea or on land.

    We don’t need a national consensus to decide whether Americans will go to Las Vegas or Disneyland next year.

    Why is that when it comes to space, people think there can only be one destination and one goal, which is chosen by national consensus?

  • Mark Zinthefer

    Mars presents answers to questions like the origin of life and comparative geology. Perhaps that’s a matter of taste but that sounds a lot more meaningful than data about the moon or comets.

    as far as survival, I don’t recall hearing of anyone dying on mars. have you read something I haven’t? What exactly are you trying to say here?

    Distance leads to time so everyone’s aware of that. I’m not sure how the gravity well is a problem. Landing is more fuel efficient because of aerobreaking and the higher gravity is better for health reasons.

    So you used Math huh? Wow. Care to share some of that math with us or should I just take your word for it that your argument is math-based?

  • Chris Vancil

    Kerry would face the same problems Bush has and would either recertify the STS or start a new program. The costs of recertify the STS seem to prohibit that route. With NASA already working on the CEV it seems likely he would go down that road.

    Kerry has in fact a voting record on space. He has often voted against funding ISS. Some here won’t like this other will as they agree it is a waste of money.

    Anyway the truth is that Kerry as president will be forced to act differently than Kerry as congressmen. Lots of republican here, Mark, Rand…etc, etc…

  • Bill White

    Jeff Foust is correct, the text does read:

    One year after President Bush announced the Vision for Space Exploration and the establishment of NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, we will bring the space exploration community together to reflect on the accomplishments of the first year and discuss plans for 2005 and the unfolding architecture for the space exploration journey.

    My comment about this being the “Bush Vision” is editorial and should not have been in quotes.

    Mea culpa.

    That said, the above quote does appear (to me) to refer to a unified vision that began January 14, 2004 and does not include room for changes in objective or methods.

    Bush has spoken and we must follow.

  • Bill White

    > What do we want to do in space?
    > I agree, we need national consensus on this point.

    Why? We don’t have a national consensus on what to do in the air or on the sea or on land.

    We need a national consensus if we want a multi-year Congressional authorization bill.

  • Keith Cowing

    VANCIL: Anyway the truth is that Kerry as president will be forced to act differently than Kerry as congressmen.

    Uh, Kerry is a Senator, Chris – not a “congressmen”

  • Edward Wright

    > Mars presents answers to questions like the origin of life and comparative
    > geology. Perhaps that’s a matter of taste but that sounds a lot more meaningful
    > than data about the moon or comets.

    Yes, you’re right. It’s a matter of taste. You may think your science is more meaningful than their science — or hospitals or police or whatever else the government might want to spend the money on — but most politicians don’t share your tastes when it comes to government spending. In fact, most scientists don’t share your tastes. They might support spending a few billion on unmanned landers over the course of a decase, but spending tens or hundreds of billions sending a few astronauts to look for martian bugs is a non-starter.

    > as far as survival, I don’t recall hearing of anyone dying on mars.

    I don’t recall anyone living there, either. That’s what survival usually means. No one has been able to afford that yet.

    > Distance leads to time so everyone’s aware of that. I’m not sure how the gravity
    > well is a problem.

    It makes launching things much more difficult.

    > Landing is more fuel efficient because of aerobreaking

    Yes, but to be a spacefaring civilization, you need to have takeoffs as well as landings. The statement was made that “Mars is where the resources can be had to develop a space faring civilization.”

    Somehow you turned that around to Mars is where the cool science is.

    > and the higher gravity is better for health reasons.

    Data, please?

    > So you used Math huh? Wow. Care to share some of that math with us or should
    > I just take your word for it that your argument is math-based?

    You can go to the Moon with a Soyuz and a Proton, for tens of millions of dollars. The last I heard, even Zubrin thought a manned Mars mission would cost tens of billions. That’s considerably more expensive.

  • Edward Wright

    > We need a national consensus if we want a multi-year Congressional authorization bill.

    Congress has passed mult-year authorization bills in the past without a national consensus.

    What’s so magic about multi-year authorizations?

  • Mark Zinthefer

    You can go to the Moon with a Soyuz and a Proton, for tens of millions of dollars. The last I heard, even Zubrin thought a manned Mars mission would cost tens of billions. That’s considerably more expensive.

    Well to use your logic against you, no one has landed a Soyuz on the moon for tens of millions of dollars yet so I don’t think you can make this argument.

  • Edward Wright

    > Well to use your logic against you, no one has landed a Soyuz on the moon for
    > tens of millions of dollars yet so I don’t think you can make this argument.

    Using a gross distortion of my logic.

    I never said that it was impossible for humans to live on Mars. I said no humans had ever managed to do so — in contrast to the Moon, which has been visited by Apollo astronauts. There might just be a reason for that.

    Nor did I claim Soyuz had gone to the Moon — merely that it was possible to do so.

    Now, could you please tell us why you think going to Mars is not more expensive than going to the Moon?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill!!!!
    The Goal IS exploration!!! The moon is part of that, Mars is part of that, NEO’s are part of that , Titian is part of that! The worst thing I could think of is to do a couple explorations of Mars and than back to LEO for the next 35 years.

    Posted by Earl Blake at August 24, 2004 02:40 PM

  • Edward Wright

    > Exploration as a goal in itself will not sell to the American people.

    Tell that to REI.

  • Earl Blake

    Robert G. Oler
    Earl. Exploration as a goal in itself will not sell to the American people.

    That is just not true! Kennedy sold the Apollo missions to the American people using exploration.
    Every unmaned space probe and the Hubble telescope has been sold by exploration. It’s when NASA tried to sell the space shuttle and the ISS for pratical reasons is when it ran into problems.

  • John Malkin

    The space subcommittee and the science committee are more to blame than NASA administrators. NASA has very little control over its budget; so far this year isn’t any different. I hope that congress will realize they are as much to blame for Columbia and Challenger as NASA, the foam and the O ring. NASA does a great job being on a BBC budget. Iím hoping for a great 2005 with the return of Doctor Who and full approval of the NASA budget, now is that Science, Science Fiction and Fantasy?

    I think Iím off topicÖ

  • Bill White

    The Goal IS exploration!!! The moon is part of that, Mars is part of that, NEO’s are part of that , Titian is part of that! The worst thing I could think of is to do a couple explorations of Mars and than back to LEO for the next 35 years.

    I guess I am unsure how people define exploration. I am especially unclear how Sean O’Keefe or George Bush would define exploration.

    I know a great (true) story about how my in-laws agreed to build a screen porch. At first they were very happy to have agreed on something. But the first sign of trouble was when my father-in-law starting talking about a tin roof and my mother-in-law started selecting cedar shake.

    But they had agreed on a screen porch! :-)

    So what is “exploration” anyways? Tin-roof or cedar shake?

    = = =

    I agree, MarsDirect then nothing is very bad. That is a problem.

    But, making it politically incorrect to say that the VSE leaves us with a cup only 1/4 full is very bad also.

    As Langeweisce wrote in the Atlantic Monthly, the question at hand is whether our ultimate goal is to become a spacefaring species. And I believe the only definition of spacefaring that matters, in the long run, is whether we are a species capable of safely bearing children off the planet of our origin.

    Take becoming spacefaring off the table and I favor “robots only” for the exploration of the solar system. Unless we go to stay, forever, its not worth bothering about.

  • Bill White

    That is just not true! Kennedy sold the Apollo missions to the American people using exploration.

    Bzzzt! Wrong.

    Kennedy sold Apollo based on FEAR. Only one scientist ever went to the Moon.

    I also tend to believe James Oberg especially since my own reading has lead me to the same conclusion. I was only 9 in July 1969 so I don’t remember much myself. ;-)

    But I did see the landing on an old B&W TV.

  • Robert G. Oler

    That is just not true! Kennedy sold the Apollo missions to the American people using exploration.
    Every unmaned space probe and the Hubble telescope has been sold by exploration. It’s when NASA tried to sell the space shuttle and the ISS for pratical reasons is when it ran into problems.

    Posted by Earl Blake at August 24, 2004 10:41 PM ,,

    Hello Earl.

    No sorry I dont think that your version is historically correct. Absent the Soviet Threat going to the Moon would have gone nowhere. Actually absent Jack Kennedy’s death the effort might have gone nowhere. There was a lot of opposition to the dollars in both the Senate and the House pre the assasination.

    But had the SOV’s not been a threat then the Moon goal would not have been a goal..and the moon goal was not exploration. It was to send a man to the Moon and return him safely before the decade is out. We did that and it ran out of steam.

    I was a child in the 60’s but I remember space coverage being drowned out by “Hiedi” and the post Apollo 11 landings recieving all but no coverage (except 13).

    Hubble is exploration at a fraction of the cost of the space station…and really does not compare well to ground stations except in the UV.

    Most Americans do not care if the pictures of the rocks are taken by robots or humans. Can you tell the difference?
    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    But I did see the landing on an old B&W TV.

    Posted by Bill White at August 24, 2004 11:20 PM

  • Keith Cowing

    Here we go. Oler is now going to drown this site with all of his radio and milspeak largon.

  • John Malkin

    The nice color pictures we receive from robotic explorers are not your typical snap shots, they take hours to make while a human eye can see instantly and focus on important features in the landscape. Todayís robots are slow, extremely limited in there science and dumber than ant. The Apollo missions are the only examples of human exploration on another planetary system. Due to the few examples of human exploration and the advances in technology since Apollo, itís impossible to compare robots and humans.
    Somethingís ďrobotsĒ are better but humans still excel well beyond any robotic capabilities. This is strictly exploration and doesnít take into account other benefits to mankind possible from such an endeavor.

    There are lots of great books that talk about why shuttle is a complex hybrid and I think NASA has at least learned from its mistakes. ISS suffers from similar problems as the shuttle built without a clear mission. The ISS is no different than a manned orbiting satellite, itís a pity we couldnít move ISS to orbit Mars, Jupiter or Saturn now that would be cool.

    Letís compare space exploration since 1980. Robotic exploration of solar system beyond geosynchronous orbit 14+: Human exploration of solar system beyond geosynchronous orbit 0

    (I didnít count them but you can see for yourself)
    http://spacescience.nasa.gov/missions/

  • Bill White

    For those who might be tempted by Zubrin’s message but are off-put by Zubrin’s style (for the record I am quite comfortable with Zubrin’s style but do accept that others are not) I suggest a brand new book by Martin J.L. Turner, Expedition Mars.

    One pessimistic review.

    = = =

    People can explore better than robots. Absolutely 100% true.

    But is it worth the money and risk without settlement being on the table as part of the package?

    Include the objective of permanent settlements (which means babies born on Mars IMHO) and I become a fanatical supporter of human spaceflight. And the prospects of scientific exploration are a big part of WHY I would extend such support.

    But tell me the goal only is science and babies in space are centuries away and I am far less sure its worth the money, right now.

    Again, what exactly does “exploration” mean?

    Lewis & Clark would have been long forgotten without the Louisiana Purchase.

  • I’m basing my figures on the fact that ISS has cost about $100 billion so far.

    That’s not a very useful or valid way to do cost estimation. It makes it hard to take any of your assertions seriously.

  • Edward Wright

    > Again, what exactly does “exploration” mean?

    The stuff you see on The Travel Channel.

    Going places where you’ve never been, seeing things you’ve never seen before.

  • ken murphy

    When people gripe about throwing away money in space, part of what they’re complaining about is that the stuff is effectively being thrown away. We have no means of taking care of our assets and we treat them as disposable objects after investing $10-100Mns in them. A CEV, done right, can begin the process of recycling and bulding better assets in GEO. Any kind of Trans-LEO maneuverability is an enormous step in that direction.

    We already have billions of dollars in commercial assets already operational in GEO. We use things like SOHO to warn us of potential threats to orbital and ground-based assets from the Sun. With a CEV we can start looking at business opportunities like XM Satellite paying $50Mn dollars to a company of orbital engineers to fix the parts on their existing sats versus accelerating their return to the capital markets for the $250Mn to build a new one. Not possible without a CEV.

    It turns out that EML-1 is a much better location to stage most of your orbital operations since it sits on an on-ramp to the InterPlanetary Superhighways (IPS; we’re the only planet in cisjovian space lucky enough to have one so close). It is also cheaper, d-V-wise, to go from EML-1 to GEO and back, than just from LEO to GEO. You have a 24-hour launch window to essentially any inclination on the Moon or Earth. There’s really no d-V penalty to get to EML-1 from ISS.

    Whoa, hold up. We can get to EML-1 from ISS? You mean the ISS doesn’t have to be an orbital albatross?

    That’s correct. The ISS can be a significant asset in cislunar infrastructure. An EML-1 base would be nice, but it’s not critical. We could go direct to either the Moon or Mars from either the Earth’s surface or LEO, but in the long term EML-1 is your logistics point of choice. Map out the d-Vs to points of interest and you’ll see why.

    On the Moon there’s oxygen. There’s hydrogen and helium and carbon and nitrogen. There’s aluminium and titanium and iron and more. There’s potassium and thorium and uranium. Rare Earth Elements and silicates and PGMs. The raw materials of a solar-powered world. Permanent power from the Sun. Doping elements for high-tech glasses.

    Operationally the lunar poles are the best place to site early missions. Solar panels & furnaces on extensible towers (1/6th G and no weather engineering! WooHoo!) give access to constant power and lightpipes give access to constant light for gardens. Coldtraps for cryogenic purposes abound. Hydrogen and oxygen are right there. And you’re sitting on the edge of the Aitken basin, a potential watershed in comparative planetology in that the basin reaches the mantle underlying the crust. Crater counting & dating gives us a better handle on impact history and periodicity in the record, helping to establish the nature of NEO risk.

    Protecting planetary assets, both ground-based and orbital, fixing our machines, watching the Sun and space for threats, developing the means to travel to NEOs and Mars and the Asteroid Belt and beyond, creating new technologies and industries.

    That’s why our nation’s space future needs to be non-partisan from a political standpoint. It’s not a question of it being a Republican space future or a Democratic space future. It is the space future of the entire United States, offering jobs & opportunities for American ingenuity to shine and new technologies to be mastered. For commercial competitive reasons we must ensure that we have solid access to the strategic resources of space. I note that the theme of this year’s World Space Week (Oct 4-10) is “Space for Sustainable Development”.

    I don’t think Mars Direct is the answer.
    I don’t think it offers any NEO detection advantages.
    I don’t see Mars providing fuel for cislunar operations.
    I’m not sure what kind of materials are going to be created with atmosphere to pollute it.
    The IPS on-ramp is way out at MSL-1.
    We don’t know if plants will grow in the Martian soil near as well as they do in regolith (Who’d want to eat six month old Martian food anyway?).
    I’m just not sure what Mars is going to be producing that will be of use in fixing our GEO sats and cleaning out the garbage.
    I’m not sure how Mars will contribute to maintaining a system of libration-point Hubble/SOHO-style Sun and Star and Space Watchers.
    I don’t see how many jobs are being offered to non-NASA-PhD folks by going to Mars.

    The bank I work for doesn’t do satellite deals. If your asset breaks, your revenue stream is zero. Major hits to the balance sheet and income statement. We have no way of repairing our machines in space. Billions of dollars worth of machines and no way to fix them. A Trans-LEO CEV is the first step, and we need it sooner rather than later.

  • Edward Wright

    > A CEV, done right, can begin the process of recycling and bulding better assets
    > in GEO. Any kind of Trans-LEO maneuverability is an enormous step in that direction.

    No, only affordable manueverability would be a step in that direction.

    It’s ironic that an expendable capsule is hailed as a step toward recycling space assets.

    > With a CEV we can start looking at business opportunities like XM Satellite
    > paying $50Mn dollars to a company of orbital engineers to fix the parts on
    > their existing sats versus accelerating their return to the capital markets
    > for the $250Mn to build a new one.

    Overlooking the small problem that it will cost over $100 million just to launch the CEV and much more to get it to GEO where the satellites are. Building a new satellite would be cheaper, and less risky.

    > Not possible without a CEV.

    Or Soyuz, which is cheaper, although probably not cheap enough to make it worthwhile. Or some other type of vehicle, which might be cheap enough.

  • Ken says: “On the Moon there’s oxygen. There’s hydrogen and helium and carbon and nitrogen. There’s aluminium and titanium and iron and more. There’s potassium and thorium and uranium…”

    This sounds like a song I once heard!

  • Robert G. Oler

    Again, what exactly does “exploration” mean?

    Lewis & Clark would have been long forgotten without the Louisiana Purchase.

    Posted by Bill White at August 25, 2004 11:46 AM

  • Robert G. Oler

    A DirecTV link feeds it.

    Robert G. Oler

    Posted by Robert G. Oler at August 25, 2004 12:33 AM
    Here we go. Oler is now going to drown this site with all of his radio and milspeak largon.

    Posted by Keith Cowing at August 25, 2004 02:30 AM

  • Bill White

    Robert, we agree (obviously. . .)

    Mining requires property laws which do not yet exist. Besides, the profit margins earned by Industrial Age business (mining and manufacturing) are generally far below the margins of profit generated by Information Age business models.

    Okay, so where do we find private sector investment to supplement the federal tax dollars to be spent on exploration?

    If Edward Wright is right, and exploration is about the stuff we watch on the Travel Channel then asking the people who enjoy watching the Travel Channel to pay extra for the privilege of watching people explore the Moon and Mars seems both fair and sensible.

  • Edward Wright

    > If Edward Wright is right, and exploration is about the stuff we watch on
    > the Travel Channel then asking the people who enjoy watching the Travel
    > Channel to pay extra for the privilege of watching people explore
    > the Moon and Mars seems both fair and sensible.

    People don’t watch the Travel Channel because they want to see other people travel. They watch it because they want to see places where *they* can travel.

    Why do you think it’s a “privilege” to watch other people explore the Moon and Mars rather than doing it yourself?

  • Bill White

    Would I like to go? Sure. But I accept it ain’t never ever going to happen. But I do want other people to go in my name.

    If space advocacy depends on people who think they will get to go themselves, well then, lets just say I am astonished beyond words.

    Most Travel Channel viewers enjoy watching programs about places they will never go themselves. I know I do.

  • Earl Blake

    This has gotten WAY off topic.
    The topic is:
    What do you think is John Kerry’s commitment to space exploration in general and manned space flight in particular?
    I see NASA (NASA meaning space flight and exploration) being ignored for the next four years if Kerry is elected president. He has shone no real interest for it in the past and the future dose not look promising considering his remarks, (or lack of remarks) at KSC and the “bunny suit” incident.
    You may not agree with what the VSE for pace, destination etc. but it is a plan to get NASA in the right direction.

  • Bill White

    What do you think is John Kerry’s commitment to space exploration in general and manned space flight in particular?

    Bush is inherently more pro-space than Kerry.

    Bush has formulated a plan (VSE) that gives us a cup 1/4 full, at best. And unless the VSE gets bi-partisan support it dies in January 2009 whether Bush wins in 2004 or not. And if not in 2009 then in 2013 – – if its seen as the Bush plan.

    Kerry is NOT inherently pro-space BUT perhaps he can be more easily leveraged or manipulated.

    Like Zubrin said, Kerry and Bush both offer challenge and opportunity. HOW to proceed is different depending on who wins.

  • Edward Wright

    > Would I like to go? Sure. But I accept it ain’t never ever going
    > to happen. But I do want other people to go in my name.

    Why do you accept that it’s never going to happen?

    And why do you want other people to travel to in the name of Bill White? That sounds a bit odd.

    > If space advocacy depends on people who think they will get to go themselves,
    > well then, lets just say I am astonished beyond words.

    Why? Are you astonished that air travel advocacy depends on people who travel by air? That the AAA depends on people who travel in automobiles?

    > Most Travel Channel viewers enjoy watching programs about places
    > they will never go themselves. I know I do.

    If that were the case, you wouldn’t find cruise lines and travel destinations advertising on the Travel Channel.

  • Bill,
    Be astonished. If the entire point isn’t making it so that I can go (not that “go vicariously though my kids or watching it on TV” bull***) then I’m not the least bit interested and will lobby extremely hard to make sure not one red cent of my tax money is spent on a program for government employees to get to have all the fun. The entire ***damn POINT is to have the freedom and ability for _me_ to go into space on a regular basis in the very near future.

    Why is everyone in this country so hell bent on “giving up and being small”….

  • Bill White

    If the entire point isn’t making it so that I can go (not that “go vicariously though my kids or watching it on TV” bull***) then I’m not the least bit interested and will lobby extremely hard to make sure not one red cent of my tax money is spent on a program for government employees to get to have all the fun. The entire ***damn POINT is to have the freedom and ability for _me_ to go into space on a regular basis in the very near future.

    What if the media companies pay billions with the investment covered by the “small people” watching on TV – – doesn’t that create demand that will lower launch costs making it easier for you to go yourself?

    This can easily be the Moon. Folks at home watch the first 21st century landing on the Moon and pay premium subscriber revenue to allow it to be sooner rather than later.

    Now, its easier for you to follow up.

  • Anonymous

    > What if the media companies pay billions with the investment covered by the “small people” watching on TV – –
    > doesn’t that create demand that will lower launch costs making it easier for you to go yourself?

    You need to do some market research. A pay-per-view movie doesn’t bring in billions of dollars.

    You could argue that the American people are already paying $16 billion a year for NASA TV. However, there’s reason to believe they’re willing to pay a lot more than that. If you want a big budget increase, you have to offer more than pretty pictures.

    > Folks at home watch the first 21st century landing on the Moon and pay premium subscriber
    > revenue to allow it to be sooner rather than later.

    Sure, but Hollywood can film such a landing right in their own studios. They don’t have to go to the Moon to do it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    pay extra for the privilege of watching people explore the Moon and Mars seems both fair and sensible.

    Posted by Bill White at August 26, 2004 11:08 AM

  • Jason Rhian

    It’s little wonder “advocates” like Zubrin haven’t managed to get us out of LEO for 30 years! Kerry? Get real! You need to review how he’s voted on manned exploration! What President Bush gave us back in January would be gone in an instant and where would that windbag Zubrin be then? As for the writer calling Bush “shrub” please attempt to be an adult, I know it’s hard.
    Kerry will tell anyone, anything they want to hear as long as he gets voted in. He flip-flops back and forth on everything. The President gave space supporters what they wanted…a mandate, now are we stupid enough (Like Zubrin.) To give it all away? Kerry will scrap the new initiative and no President will send us anywhere for decades. Just because your a Bush-hater, don’t shoot yourself in the foot.

  • Robert G. Oler

    To give it all away? Kerry will scrap the new initiative and no President will send us anywhere for decades. Just because your a Bush-hater, don’t shoot yourself in the foot.

    Posted by Jason Rhian at August 28, 2004 03:32 AM

  • Brent Ziarnick

    Oh, Shrub! I get it! (slapping my knee) Ugh.

    Zubrin and his Mars zealots are not healthy for space. Zubrin’s certainly not a fan of Bush, and this statement of his is a blatant lie to give space enthusiasts an excuse to vote for Kerry in the election even though Bush is the only one who can or will restart the American space effort.

    Furthermore, Zubrin and his bunch of Mars fanatics are idiots. That Zubrin would condemn the space initiative because it didn’t aim for Mars immediately (or that it was delivered by a republican perhaps?) clearly shows he has no interest in space beyond his own arrogant Mars dementia.

    The Republic’s in ruin? Care to explain? I must have missed the collapse.

  • Anonymous

    Brent, do not feed the troll.

  • Anonymous

    Furthermore, Zubrin and his bunch of Mars fanatics are idiots.

    Brent, don’t be a troll.

  • Robert G. Oler

    The Republic’s in ruin? Care to explain? I must have missed the collapse.

    Posted by Brent Ziarnick at August 29, 2004 10:13 AM

  • Brent

    Troll for having an honest opinion? Well, yeah, there are too many people on the net that just badmouth someone without cause.

    so…. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/217/1

    Zubrin categorizes everything he has to say against the Vision by saying it isn’t directly related to getting to Mars. So?

    Normally I see as allies any pro-space group. The Mars Society is the big exception in that their leader is quite honestly a fanatic that would damn everything not torn from the pages of his mars manifesto. Arrogance and vanity. Of course, in the interests of full disclosure, I’d be labeled as a earth/moon system industrialist. I don’t care much about mars.

    Mr. Olds, I would take exception to your dismissal of our ability to go to the moon for commercial gain, because:

    1) We have the technology to go to the moon
    2) We have actually gone to the moon
    3) We know at least a little about what is on the moon
    4) We have the technology to extract resources from the moon (oxygen being the easiest probably)
    5) There are people working to make this happen

    Although I guess you do have a point when you consider us like the vikings. They knew about the new world, they just didn’t bother with colonization. Sort of like us now, I guess.

    That can be changed.

  • Brent

    oh, and…

    hundreds of thousands KIA, huge deficit, invasion paranoia for 4 years on the West Coast, hundreds of billions spent just to rebuild europe…

    Germany and Japan didn’t have any WMD’s either, and Germany’s program ended in 1943!

    yep, the end is nigh!

  • Sam

    I like colonizing the Moon first for the following Moon plus reasons:

    * Earth rescue is a decent possibility for a failure
    * Earth resupply allows just in time planning
    * Shorter feedback Earth teleoperation
    * There are important project management things to learn in setting up a colony that can be reused in subsequent colonies–set up the cheaper one first may pay for the first one with the savings on the more expensive one
    * Proof that we can do a colony before we do a further colony that requires more thought and planning to be successful–i.e. enable the second colony at all
    * Earthers will be able to see the colony directly with their own eyes
    * Quicker crew rotation
    * Quicker tourism opportunities
    * Cheaper stuff to do; until indigenous self-sustaining population is around, skills and equipment will have to be imported
    – Cheaper to develop a movie studio
    – Cheaper to develop lunar sports
    – Cheaper to develop lunar ballet
    – Cheaper to develop lunar radio astronomy
    * Asteroid colonization skills to give options for future colonization destinations
    * Tactical high ground for cis-lunar defense hi-jinx
    * Good testbed for space elevator before deployment to Earth
    * Cool TV (see the Space Review)
    * Resource and energy options if our energy appetite increases (as our nuclear appetite doesn’t) or carbon appetite decreases
    * Faster bootstrap to Antartica level of commerce, Alaska level of commerce
    * Spur to point-to-point Earth rocket economics
    * Fastest politically feasible viable off-Earth gene bank
    * Spur to new industrial uses of vacuum
    – mass driver/mag lev
    – flywheel
    * Artificial gravity track
    * Radiation management
    * Higher population, more accessible frontier
    * More spirit of freedom on Earth sooner
    * Harder to monopolize communication between Earth and Moon than Earth and Mars
    * Spur to international government investment in space development
    * Spur to private investment in space
    * Faster space law development
    – faster space property rights
    – faster space mineral rights
    – faster space labor law
    – faster space human rights
    * Faster space independent nations
    * New Earth observation possibilities
    * Faster, higher-bandwidth space internet
    * Faster need for more heavy lift
    * Faster bootstrap of economy based on
    – intellectual property exports
    – tourism
    – accessible science
    – entertainment
    – space skills
    – low-g skills
    – labor saving technology