Campaign '12

More on Romney, Gingrich, and lunar colonies

It turns out Saturday night’s debate was not the first time that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has invoked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s reported interest in lunar colonies. In an interview with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register on Friday, Romney brought up the subject when asked about how he differs with Gingrich on several issues. “I saw that the Speaker had a measure that I read about which was to put a permanent colony on the Moon to mine rare materials from the Moon,” Romney said. “Ah, I think we have some better priorities for our spending before we do that.”

Romney also brought up another space-related venture he linked to Gingrich. “He even talked about a series of mirrors that we could put in space that would light our highways at night. I’ve got some better ideas for our resources.” The video of the interview is available below; Romney’s mention of lunar colonies and space mirrors starts at approximately the 40:30 mark:

Romney appears to be referring to a column by David Brooks of the New York Times on Friday where Brooks criticizes Gingrich for supporting big government endeavors:

For example, he has called for “a massive new program to build a permanent lunar colony to exploit the Moon’s resources.” He has suggested that “a mirror system in space could provide the light equivalent of many full moons so that there would be no need for nighttime lighting of the highways.”

The source of the quotes in the Brooks column isn’t cited, but an initial search didn’t turn up anything recent (i.e., during the current campaign) said or written by Gingrich on those issues.

45 comments to More on Romney, Gingrich, and lunar colonies

  • Perry lacks the vision? Control of costs shown by some of the new commercial competitors makes the consideration of many such ideas open to national discussion. What Perry might have asked is how can we make the best of these types of ideas actually happen, safely, cheaply with a real time return on investment.

    As a matter of foreign policy Perry would also do well to consider what place he would want America to play in the future of the development of the moon and at least near earth space? The term of one or two presidencies leaving such a question unattended invites a sky and moon we could be looking up to in trepidation in such a short time.

    There will be superpowers in space.

  • Dex

    stftommy: Did you mean Romney?

    The lack of a citation for the Opinion-Editorial‘s quote: “a massive new program to build a permanent lunar colony to exploit the Moon’s resources” leaves those interested in the subject scratching our collective heads.

    In contrast, as I am sure many here are aware, Case for Mars, outlines a what Zubrin calls the Gingrich Plan utilizing government incentives & prizes for public sector development.

    Romney’s use of it is sketchy, but the target audience is not going to care. They will hear “lunar colony,” think who lives on the Moon, space is expensive, etc…

  • Joe

    The only recent Gingrich proposals I am familiar with are:
    A $10 Billion prize for the first private entity to put a base on the moon and operate it for a year.
    A $100 Billion prize for the first private entity to put a human on Mars and return them to Earth

    As part of that he seemed to propose shutting NASA down entirely (including CCDev support – he did not seem to say).

    This based on things have seen on television. Has he proposed anything specific like Romney is stating he has?

    Does anyone have a link to these Gingrich policy proposals? Or is all this just more political drivel?

  • Al Fansome

    I believe Romney is referring to ideas from Gingrich’s book “Window of Opportunity”, which was first published in 1984. This is his first book, where he first laid out his vision and ideas, and made some pretty bold predictions. Some have proved prescient, and some were wrong. But at least he had the courage to make some measurable predictions of the future.

    http://www.amazon.com/Window-Opportunity-Blueprint-Newt-Gingrich/dp/0312939221

    FWIW,

    - Al

  • Joe

    Al Fansome wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 2:05 pm: “I believe Romney is referring to ideas from Gingrich’s book “Window of Opportunity”, which was first published in 1984. “

    Interesting. The date of the book and the subject matter (Lunar Mining and Orbital Reflectors) would seem to indicate that Gingrich was referring to work done by Krafft Ehricke (March 24, 1917 – December 11, 1984). But after that Gingrich appears to have more or less abandoned that kind of thought for more libertarian pontificating (offering prizes he knows will never be collected in this case).

    That Romney’s may be using (long abandoned) things from a 27 year old book doesn’t inspire much confidence either (especially since it implies he thinks anything to do with space is weird and easily ridiculed).

    Obama, Romney, Gingrich – Better and Better.

  • DCSCA

    “Mitt Rmoney” <– LOL Was this a typo in the posting by Jeff, an intentional dig or just a classic example of a Freudian slip? Ladies and gentlemen, place your $10,000 bets.

  • Al Fansome

    JOE SAID: The only recent Gingrich proposals I am familiar with are:
    A $10 Billion prize for the first private entity to put a base on the moon and operate it for a year.
    A $100 Billion prize for the first private entity to put a human on Mars and return them to Earth

    These numbers are way out of bounds.

    Do you have sources?

    Gingrich has previously proposed $20B for putting the first human on Mars.
    http://journalofcosmology.com/Mars139.html

    Whittington reports that Newt has talked about $5B for the next human on the Moon here:
    http://www.zimbio.com/Newt+Gingrich/articles/Wlhba-f0caU/Newt+Gingrich+Prefers+Space+Prizes+Over+NASA

    That sounds about right, but I can’t find an original source.

    In 2007 and 2008, Gingrich talked about prizes, as reported by Jeff
    http://www.spacepolitics.com/2007/06/09/gingrichs-eyes-still-on-prizes/#comments

    On June 12, 2008, Gingrich talked at length to a Space Foundation event, as the Luncheon speaker, sharing his current thinking on space and prizes. A couple sites refer to this speech.
    http://www.spacepolitics.com/2008/08/11/gingrichs-billion-dollar-space-prizes/
    http://www.hobbyspace.com/nucleus/index.php?itemid=7253
    http://rocketsandsuch.blogspot.com/2008/07/ground-based-ground-centered-payroll.html

    I have a copy of his speech, which discusses space prizes extensively, but saw no links online. Maybe I will post excerpts when I get a chance.

    More recently Gingrich suggested a billion-dollar prize for sending humans back to the Moon.
    http://www2.tbo.com/news/politics/2011/nov/17/1/gingrich-tells-florida-crowd-he-welcomes-scrutiny-ar-325422/

    Spacepolitics has even covered his most recentl talk about prizes this October.
    http://www.spacepolitics.com/2011/10/21/gingrich-calls-for-privatizing-human-spaceflight/

    FWIW,

    - Al

  • Jeff Foust

    Mr./Ms. DCSCA: the misspelling was a typo—now corrected—and nothing more. My apologies for the error.

  • DCSCA

    Jeff- Figured that but still, you can’t miss the humor in it.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Exactly what national needs would be satisfied by Gingrich’s prizes?
    I can’t see any.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    LOL Was this a typo in the posting by Jeff, an intentional dig or just a classic example of a Freudian slip? Ladies and gentlemen, place your $10,000 bets.

    You’ve been posting on this blog for how many years, and yet you have no clue what a typo by our host means?

    Considering how much our host let’s you post, you would think you would be more grateful and not disparage the hand that allows your ego to be fed…

  • vulture4

    It is notable that none of the Republican candidates have proposed any way to pay for BEO human spaceflight using the $L$/Orion technology or any way to produce a return on investment from doing so.
    Nevertheless the majority of space program professionals, both NASA and contractor, continue to believe that the current administration is to blame for destroying our space program and that a Republican administration will restore them to the glory days of Apollo. Lunar colonies are certainly feasible, but not using the Bush/Griffin plan, which uses technology that is already older than the Spirit of St. Louis was when we landed on the moon.

  • Joe

    Al Fansome wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 3:59 pm
    “These numbers are way out of bounds. Do you have sources?”

    As I said those numbers were based on my recollection of things I have heard Gingrich say on television. That’s why I was asking for links.

    Thanks for providing them.
    “Whittington reports that Newt has talked about $5B for the next human on the Moon here:”

    $5B for a lunar mission is very low (no matter how optimistic you are about commercial efficiencies). Question how much has been spent trying to provide cargo only to ISS in LEO? Compare that to the $5B to provide a round trip human lunar capability. Obama wanted 17% of that amount for just next year’s funding to work on crew delivery to the ISS.

    “More recently Gingrich suggested a billion-dollar prize for sending humans back to the Moon.”

    So the $5B is now reduced to $1B (why the 80% reduction – If the proposal is serious? Did Gingrich discover some new cheaper way of doing things?). Note the Obama request for one year of development of CCDev is 85% of the entire prize now. Not much room for a profit is there?

    Again thanks for the links and the history (and I mean that). But they only increase the conviction that Gingrich is not being serious.

  • Louis Vargas

    I’d place my bets on Newt. He’s the lesser of 2 evils. We already see what we got with Obama. Newt is talking about space which is a point in his favor. He is talking about lunar colonies and Mars missions, two more points in his favor. He is talking about the inspirational nature of space flight for education, another point in his favor. He’s talked about either fixing or doing away with NASA; I’d prefer to see it fixed, but either way something has got to change; we are going no place fast with the status quo. Another point in his favor. Newt has the historical perspective, which is another point in his favor and he is fascinated by technological milestones that can effect the way in which the world works. He’s particularly interested in applying that philosophy to space flight. He is honest, maybe bluntly so, but another point in his favor. He’s a proven leader-he did after all make it to being speaker of the House. He works with his opposition. I know which way I’ll vote.

  • Louis Vargas wrote:

    He’s a proven leader-he did after all make it to being speaker of the House.

    He also got kicked out for corruption. Funny you didn’t mention that.

    He works with his opposition.

    He also brought the federal government to a standstill playing Chicken with the President over his Contract with America. Funny you didn’t mention that either.

  • Louis Vargas

    Such negativity! It was not so clear cut.

    Newt was not forced out. He left after being re-elected. His party told him they did not want him as Speaker as long as the pending charges associated with tax deductible contributions were being held over his head and so he would have been forced into a subservient position in Congress. That caused him to leave of his own volition. After he left the alleged violations were turned over to the IRS for them to pursue. The IRS dismissed all of the charges. ALL of the charges were found to be false.

    Clinton brought the government to the standstill you speak of because Clinton wanted much higher levels of government spending than the Republicans.

    Gingrich is not perfect by any means. He tends to be too honest and too vocal, but of the various options out there, he is the best for now.

  • DCSCA

    Louis Vargas wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 6:00 pm
    I’d place my bets on Newt

    It’s a lose/lose situation. Newt or Mitt? Americans will say nyet and re-up Obama. It’s a safe $10,000 bet.

  • SpaceColonizer

    @Joe

    I think you’re kind of missing the point of the prize money. You are under the impression that the prize money is meant to be the primary goal of competitors, that the cost of their efforts are just a means to get the prize money, and therefore that in order for anyone to compete for that prize money it must be enough for companies doing so to make a profit. That just isn’t the case.

    Take the Google Lunar X Prixe for example, a private sector space prize. It’s only $30 million, $20 million for “first place.” I think that barely covers the launch costs, if at all, to get something on the way to a moon landing. But there are still a good deal of teams competing for it, not because they see profit from the prize money, but because of the prestige. Winning this prize will be a feather in their cap when competing for future engineering contracts. And their are probably other reasons to accept some losses on the endeavor. I remember reading an interview with one of the team leaders saying he expected a loss and was fine with that and gave his reasons, but alas I could not find a link.

    Now let’s take Gingrich’s lunar base prize idea. Shackleton Energy Group is already boasting plans to set up a moon base to mine ice and turn it into propellant. Their even ambitious enough to claim they can be operational by the end of the decade. Now, I have my doubts about their timetable, but they are taking the first steps and their doing it without any prize money awaiting them… they just think they can profit from it in the long run. Now if Gingrich became president and offered up a $5 billion prize for anyone who set up a lunar base and operated it for at least a year, that would give Shackleton even more incentive to push forward and would improve the business case to investors who might otherwise be skeptical that such an endeavor could turn a profit in a reasonable time frame.

    So in summary: cash prizes for space activities may not be enough to turn a profit, but they don’t have to be. Think of it more as a way to offset developments costs or boost revenue that might otherwise not have been enough to turn a profit.

  • Louis Vargas

    I don’t think that Obama will win as long as the economy is still doing poorly and unemployment is high. I am not anticipating significant improvement in either. Without improvement, Obama loses. So you get to choose which of the Republicans is preferable. If the choice is between Romney and Newt, then Newt is who I’ll go with.

  • vulture4

    I have been listening to Gingrich pontificate on space since the seventies. He has a good vocabulary and portentious style. But when he was Speaker he did nothing to either increase NASA resources or effectiveness. His statements about sending people to the moon for billon-dollar prizes are nonsensical; no one has the funds to speculate with that much money. . Gingrich is not as anti-space as Romney, but that is not saying much. Republicans plan to slash government spending; the cuts will fall disproportionately on “nice to have” but nonvital programs like human spaceflight. The Republican-controlled House cut Obama’s request of $850M for commercial human spaceflight by more than 50% and cut technology development funds to less than a quarter of Obama’s request.

  • He also got kicked out for corruption.

    No, that’s not why he got kicked out. He got kicked out because he was considered responsible for the 1998 election losses for the Republicans.

  • Dennis Wingo

    He also got kicked out for corruption. Funny you didn’t mention that.

    He resigned, after getting dinged by the House after being accused of using the history course that he had taught for ten years as a political vehicle.

    Pretty darn weak and Newt caved. There were 84 charges and this was the only one that they could get him on. That was pretty pathetic.

  • chance

    I have no love for Gingrich (quite the opposite), but he’s obviously just throwing wild ideas out there to see what sticks; it’s like he’s in a 24/7 brainstorming session. Whatever his other faults (and they are many), I actually like that in a pol. Romney is going to have to step up his game.

  • amightywind

    You know the editor is enjoying space political muckraking in this GOP primary season from the sudden spat of posts about the candidates. Remember my GOP friends that either Newt or Romney will be a quantum leap of improvement over the Bolshevik lunatic in the Whitehouse.

  • New T.

    There were 84 charges and this was the only one that they could get him on. That was pretty pathetic.

    Plenty enough to see a major pattern of ‘sleaze’.

    Bringing a sitting president to impeachment hearings over ‘sexual behavior’ that most people would consider to be personal and private is pretty sleazy as well.

    Newt has personal issues that seem to be almost purely sociopathic republican.

  • Coastal Ron

    vulture4 wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    The Republican-controlled House cut Obama’s request of $850M for commercial human spaceflight by more than 50% and cut technology development funds to less than a quarter of Obama’s request.

    Would Gingrich want to spend any of his new (and likely scarce) “political capital” on space right away? Would he want to fight the SLS gravy-train? Would Congress be interested in any of the space programs that Newt would propose?

    Unless he cuts something big like the SLS, Newt wouldn’t have much money to work with for any grand proposals.

    No matter who is sitting in the White House in 2013, I don’t see any major changes in direction. Maybe programmatic changes like SLS finally being recognized as not being truly needed, but no major initiatives. And I’m OK with that if that means focusing near-term on getting our infrastructure in place to access LEO (i.e. cargo & crew), since I see that as the single biggest enabler for allowing us to expand our presence in space. Now if we can just get Congress to fully fund Commercial Crew, that would be a major accomplishment.

  • DCSCA

    Gingrich believes supply-side ‘Reaganomics’ is going to fuel the human expansion out into space. Bold talk by a dinosaur. Of course, as of December, 2011, commercial HSF firms have not launched orbited and successfully recovered any crewed spacecraft whereas the Russian and U.S. governments have for over half a century. Babble about mining the moon is the kind of popcorning you’d expect from a loon in the Age of Austerity.

  • Joe

    SpaceColonizer wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply, but I do not think I am missing the point. It may be that one or more companies will try for the Google Lunar X Prize and be willing to do so at a loss for the prestige. However, they would be losing millions (maybe 10s of millions) not billions (maybe 10s of billions) as any human lunar return would require.

    To come up with that kind of money any competitor is going to have to raise capital from the same sources that other big projects do and they are not going to lend money for a return of prestige.

    The Shackleton Energy Group is a good example. They have got a great idea, but (based on the information on their website) they are trying to raise $1.2 M in an internet contribution drive. So far according to their own metrics they have raised less than 0.5% of that amount with approaching 75% of their time expended.

    Please note I am not attacking the Shackleton Energy Group. In fact I think their technical goal is exactly the correct one, but the financial approach (at least I think) will just not work. Not even with 1 Billion in Gingrich money.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dennis Wingo wrote @ December 12th, 2011 at 12:43 am

    not really. Newt had lost the confidence of the GOP rank and file for a variety of reasons…not the least of which was his behavior inside his marriage while beating up on the President for similar behavior. One might wish to make the notion of impeachment about “truth telling” but there are lies and there are lies and the lie that Clinton told in front of a grand jury would not have gotten a prosecution for perjury in any jurisdiction in the land.

    that is not just my opinion it happens to be that of quite a few of the former “rank and file” under Gingrich as far afield as Tom Coburn, Morning Joe and a few other former or current Congressman.

    Newt has a failing (or had one) in that he seemed to expect behavior in others that he was not disciplined enough to reject or maintain himself. At the end of the impeachment process; a process the nation soundly rejected; it was impossible for Newt to continue when word of his affair leaked out…and that was also true for the guy (cant recall his name…from Louisiana…Bob something) as well…both of them left.

    People change and I would be surprised if the election (assuming Newt is the nominee) is a re litigation of the sex charges…but I would say this in response to your other post.

    While I dont give Obama a lot of credit (or none at all) for leadership; the notion that he has not tried to work across the aisle is an entertaining one. I dont think he has done all that well…but unlike Ronaldus the Great who was dealing with an opposition that was politically sane…Obama is not.

    The GOP leadership in the House is functionally incapable of compromise in any direction unless it is defined as “they get what they want and you get nothing”. Space policy shows this. SLS and Webb, but particularly SLS are projects that have no real reason for being.

    Even their proponents know that they are not going to get built on time or in any real time frame…and they go against the spirit of controlling flawed spending; but they continue to be advocated on just goofy goals.

    Paul Ryans budget is as unpopular as the GOP “House is…but that means nothing to the House.

    I agree that Obama is deaf in terms of dealing with Congress but in the case of the House today; there is no one to deal with RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Louis Vargas wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    “Newt was not forced out. He left after being re-elected. His party told him they did not want him as Speaker as long as the pending charges associated with tax deductible contributions were being held over his head and so he would have been forced into a subservient position in Congress”

    Neither Morning Joe nor Tom Coburn agree with you.

    In the end the Newt legacy from his time in the Congress is the slash and burn politics we have today. That is why I would not support him as POTUS RGO

  • Plenty enough to see a major pattern of ‘sleaze’.

    Yes, the sleaze of his political enemies trumping up charges against him, only one of which was valid.

    Bringing a sitting president to impeachment hearings over ‘sexual behavior’

    Clinton was not impeached over “sexual behavior,” regardless of how many times this lie is repeated. He was impeached for obstruction of justice, via perjury and subornation of perjury with threats and bribes.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Joe wrote @ December 12th, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    I dont see how a prize would push lunar exploration settlement either.

    I do see how prizes could work for specific goals which are technically obtainable and then in themselves have marketable value. SS1/2 transformation is an example of such an effort.

    Lunar bases or mining? Not so sure.

    What the prize would have to do to “work” is to spur the development of not just technologies but a “system” which would allow lunar materials (water/pgm/whatever) to compete at some price with earth bound materials ON earth or the same materials brought into space.

    Even if say “Moon mining company” managed to develop water extraction that provided H and O as fuels for a cheaper price “on the Moon” then the same product brought up from the earth, that would not necessarily create a market UNLESS something else were spurring the use of those products.

    I can come up with some ideas which might benefit from prizes. I can see a modest prize (say 1/2 billion) being spent on developing the first geo robotic service mission…having some staying power.

    Commercial resupply/crew are in a fashion a sort of prize…they are just a prize done the old fashion way with incentives to private industry RGO

  • E.P. Grondine

    IMO –

    What sunk Newt was his attempt to build “Pentagon South” outside of Atlanta.
    Rand, I think Newt may fantasize himself to be some kind of Churchill.

    RGO, like I said before, watching the way Obama’s space policy was dealt with was like watching a 2 year old get run over by a Mack truck.

    Like I also said before, it’s a long way to the election. The deciding issues of the voters then could be entirely different than those today.

  • Explorer08

    @amightywind

    “A bolshevik lunatic in the White House” ??

    My friend, you need to go back to school. You have no idea at all what a bolshevik is or was. You may be a scientific type but history is clearly NOT one of your capabilities.

  • DCSCA

    Now that mining the moon has become a punchline on The Daily Show, the arc of Gingrich’s ascent has most likely reached its apogee. His velocity will bleed away as friction builds up and buffetting begins in the descent. Whether it’s a controlled reentry remains to be seen but expect some outgassing for sure. However, a soft-landing is certain given how much greenery he has to cushion the landing.

  • Now that mining the moon has become a punchline on The Daily Show . . .

    Well, first they laugh at you. At least mining the moon has now broken into the national media.

  • vulture4

    Agree that Gingrich is in a continuous brainstorming session. Romney is more consistent but does not support space.

    On resources I agree with RGO. Spaceflight must have a market. NASA has been looking for resources that could be brought back to earth at a profit, but at current launch prices this is impossible. That was why we built Shuttle. It did not work as well as we hoped, but the logic was sound. Today we do not a better Apollo. We need a better Shuttle.

  • Joe

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ December 12th, 2011 at 5:10 pm
    “I dont see how a prize would push lunar exploration settlement either. I do see how prizes could work for specific goals which are technically obtainable and then in themselves have marketable value.”

    That pretty much sums up the conundrum.

    If there were a Lunar Base then a narrowly defined set of requirements could be detailed for a transportation system to support it. Whether that was done by prizes (assuming the prizes were sufficiently large) or COTS/CCDev like support would not matter.

    But there is no Lunar Base and will not be unless and until there is a new lunar transportation system. This requires a coordinated systems like approach that is not compatible with prizes (or for that matter the COTS/CCDEv approach).

  • Vladislaw

    Actually Stewart chided Romney about calling the moon mining as a crazy notion, he called it an awesum idea and said Romny should not have used that example.

  • Joe

    Vladislaw wrote @ December 13th, 2011 at 1:33 pm
    “Actually Stewart chided Romney about calling the moon mining as a crazy notion, he called it an awesum idea and said Romny should not have used that example.”

    Got a link to the video, would really like to see it.

  • DCSCA

    @Vladislaw wrote @ December 13th, 2011 at 1:33 pm
    “Actually Stewart chided Romney about calling the moon mining as a crazy notion…”

    Actually, not quite– you didn’t quite get it- particularly whe he reference the uprisings at the moon mines in quadrant four- or whatever- to “President Gingrich” dressed in moon king garb, or whatever. The whole point of it was the abusrdity of it all- the loon Gingrich, repository of bad ideas on life-support, and the incompetence of Romney for missing the more down to earth ‘differences’ espoused by Newt by going for one that was out in left field. Reagardless, it does nothing for spaceflight when it becomes a focus of ridicule or a punchline. Colbert did a much better job of projecting support for spaceflight on his show with self-depricating humor BTW, and got the ISS treadmill named after him. Suggest you revisit the wincing when the ‘whole country was laughing at us’ as Bill Dana aka Jose Jimenez did his astronaut routine (hence the reference – ‘you’re on your way, Jose’ by Slayton to Shepard as he finally lifted off aboard Freedom 7) and Mel Brooks did his ‘astro-not’ bit with Carl Reiner back in the Mercury days.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Joe wrote @ December 13th, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    yeah we are in agreement. I would be curious if Dennis or whoever would give an explanation of how they think a prize would accomplish some of the goals that they are setting.

    I am not beating on his ideas…but if a prize was given for say 100 pounds of the precious metals from the Moon…assuming someone took up that effort I dont see how it is even politically viable. One would probably have to do the math…and I have not but the questions would be like Paul Spudis water idea…in Pauls case we spent 80-100 billion for some lunar water when one could get it to the Moon for a fraction of that from Earth.

    Now I can see shortly how (if any of the commercial launchers pan out and the price to orbit starts coming down) a simple “go back to the Moon” and restage Apollo 11 might work…there is some not so hard out of the box thinking that makes that happen for not all that much money (ie probably less then 5-10 billion) but again I dont know what the political value of that would be.

    anyway its interesting…RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ December 12th, 2011 at 9:28 pm
    “Like I also said before, it’s a long way to the election.”

    if you are the incumbent it really is not that far. Attitudes are pretty much set on Obama…now there might be the “last quarter miracle” where all of a sudden the economy starts growing at a pretty good clip (the unemployment numbers recently might indicate that)…and if that happens then its sort of a Clint Longley moment at the Dallas Cowboys game…

    then the argument is over whose economic plan made it happen and I think Obama gets the better of that. But absent that…it is done for him. All he is can do is point out the flaws in the other persons thoughts, do some serious negative campaigning and hope that the other person appears worse then him. This is what got Bush reelected in 04…so it can work.

    AS for the space rollout…I dont think it was handled all that badly. There isnt any real way to handle firing a lot of people well Ask Romney RGO

  • Joe

    “ One would probably have to do the math…and I have not but the questions would be like Paul Spudis water idea…in Pauls case we spent 80-100 billion for some lunar water when one could get it to the Moon for a fraction of that from Earth.”

    I am not sure what numbers you are using, but if you are making your comparison to the 150 metric tons per year for the initial demonstrator plant (which they describe in the paper as an arbitrary end point) you are certainly correct. But that is the beginning of the capability not the end.

    The development of the lunar resources capability would be a capital investment in a long range space faring capability that can probably only be supported by a government program (the capital investment that is).

    The total water resources now believed to be available in Shackleton Crater alone is 6 Million metric tons. To deliver that amount of water at even the total estimated expense (much less a fraction of it) of their plan ($87 Billion) would require a reduction in launch costs (to the lunar surface not LEO) to about $6.59/lb. I do not think even SpaceX is promising that. Once the initial capability was established, attempts could be made to privatize the operations (as per the COTS program).

    Note that if someone could reduce lunar launch costs to $6 or $7 per pound that would also drastically reduce the cost of building the lunar mining installations. The economics will always favor ISRU (at sites where the appropriate resources are available) if your intent is to establish a long term growing capability as opposed to a short term set of missions.

  • Coastal Ron

    Joe wrote @ December 14th, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    The total water resources now believed to be available in Shackleton Crater alone is 6 Million metric tons. To deliver that amount of water at even the total estimated expense…

    The need for water from the Moon is one of those chicken-and-egg situations. Until there is a large enough demand, then it’s far less expensive (and more readily available) to source it from Earth.

    The Spudis/Lavoie plan, while well laid out, would take 17 years to unfold, plus $87B or so, before you could start depending on the Moon for water or propellant. What does NASA do in the mean time? Source the water and propellants from Earth, which creates an established market that sources on the Moon will have to compete with. Why not stick with market-based supply & demand?

    I don’t know if anyone is advocating a U.S. Government monopoly of propellant in space, so market forces will determine where to buy their water & water-derived propellants. If the Moon ends up costing 10% more, would the government sell at a loss? That’s why the $87B is really a government bet on a future need, which again begs the question of whether the government should be involved in what seems to be a market decision.

    - Does our government need to get involved?
    - Is that the best use of $87B in taxpayer money?
    - What happens if the U.S. Government doesn’t get involved?
    - No one in Congress seems interested in this so far – will Newt be able to change that?

    Lots of questions.

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