Congress, NASA

While members of Congress raise concerns about China’s lunar mission, many Americans are uninterested

One week ago, China’s Chang’e-3 spacecraft successfully landed on the surface of the Moon and, soon after, deployed a small rover named “Yutu” to explore the lunar terrain. As that mission proceeds, China is making plans for a 2017 lunar sample return mission and, at some ill-defined time after that, human missions to the Moon. Should the United States be concerned about China’s lunar ambitions and respond accordingly? A couple of members of Congress believe so.

SpacePolicyOnline.com reported Thursday that Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), the chairman of the Commerce, Justice, and Science subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, sent a letter to President Obama calling on him to redirect NASA once again, back to the Moon. As China carries out its lunar exploration program, Wolf’s letter states, “many are asking why the U.S. is not using this opportunity to lead our international parters in an American-led return to the Moon.”

Wolf argues there’s limited enthusiasm for NASA’s plans to redirect an asteroid into lunar orbit and send a human mission there in the 2020s, lamenting the “misguided focus” of the administration on such a mission. “It’s time to set aside the proposed asteroid mission and instead focus NASA’s direction on leading a return to the Moon, before our partners commit their resources to another country,” Wolf writes. He asks the president to convene a conference at the White House “early in the new year” to develop a plan for a US-led human return to the Moon in the next ten years. “This is a sincere good faith request which I know would be good for the country. Thank you,” Wolf wrote in a handwritten addendum at the end of the letter.

There is, in fact, a space exploration conference coming to Washington, albeit not the White House, next month, as SpacePolicyOnline.com notes. The International Academy of Astronautics is hosting a space exploration conference in January 9, followed by a heads of space agencies summit on the 10th. However, this event is unlikely to result in any agreement on an exploration program like the one desired by Rep. Wolf.

One industry organization has already backed Wolf’s call for a White House space exploration conference. “The Coalition for Space Exploration encourages the proposal to hold a conference early in the new year to develop a mission-oriented plan for a U.S.-led exploration program to send humans to Mars using the SLS and Orion systems, augmented by other systems and technologies contributed by our international partners,” the organization said in a press release late Friday not yet posted on its website. The Coalition’s statement, though, fell short of explicitly endorsing Wolf’s call for a human return to the Moon led by the US in the next decade.

Wolf, of course, won’t be around to help fund such an exploration initiative even if the White House suddenly changed its mind, since he announced earlier this week that he is not running for reelection in 2014. The CJS subcommittee’s vice chair, Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), though, appears to share many of Wolf’s views. In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Culberson agreed that the Moon should be the focus of NASA’s human spaceflight efforts, and, like Wolf, rejects any notion of US-China cooperation in space exploration. Of China’s lunar lander, Culberson said that it “was a strategic move on their part to attempt to lay claim to, and in the future exploit the mineral resources of the Moon,” noting the landing site is reportedly rich in rare earth elements.

The concern expressed by Reps. Wolf and Culberson, though, does not necessarily extend to the general public. Results of a poll released Thursday by Rasmussen Reports showed that 33% of Americans considered the Chinese lunar landing as “bad” for the US. However, 45% said the landing had no impact on the US. The poll also included questions on whether the US should resume human missions to the Moon in the next decade and whether there will be “a superpower race to win control of the Moon,” but the polling organization withheld those results for its subscribers.

218 comments to While members of Congress raise concerns about China’s lunar mission, many Americans are uninterested

  • The Communist Party elite that rules China intends to strategically and economically dominate both the heavens and the Earth. And they see no logical reason why this shouldn’t occur– especially since they perceive a politically paralyzed America as a nation in decline.

    Marcel

    • Hiram

      Actually, I think the democracy that rules the U.S. intends to strategically dominate both the heavens and the Earth. That’s American exceptionalism at its best. We see no logical reason why this shouldn’t occur and, in fact, we pretty much already do. China just wants to play on the same field. Who wouldn’t?

      • DCSCA

        Actually, I think the democracy that rules the U.S. intends to strategically dominate both the heavens and the Earth.

        Except it doesn’t.

        In case you need reminded, with respect to spaceflight and space policy, America has always been reactive , not proactive in this field. And theses days, the economics of the West are being propped up by the borrowed finances from the East. For all we know, part of the deal is to surrender leadership in several fields just to keep the finances flowing. It’s no more outlandish than, say, poison cigars for Fidel was half a century ago. Red Moon is rising. the PRC even signalled thir intent during their impressive Olympic opening cermonies some years back. ‘Denial’ is a river in Egypt to Duck Dynasty America.

        • Hiram

          “In case you need reminded, with respect to spaceflight and space policy, America has always been reactive , not proactive in this field.”

          Good point. But if one considers it from the perspective of what we call “national defense”, we spend VASTLY more money on space awareness and capabilities than anyone else. In case you need to be reminded, we strategically dominate the heavens and the Earth right now. You’re saying that domination is unintentional? That would be pretty funny. Oopsie, we’re dominating the heavens and the Earth!

    • Coastal Ron

      Marcel F. Williams said:

      The Communist Party elite that rules China intends to strategically and economically dominate both the heavens and the Earth.

      Piffle. Many people have delusions of grandeur that go unfulfilled, and China’s leaders have far more worrisome problems at home with their burgeoning middle class.

      And besides, there is nothing on the Moon that we need that don’t have in far greater quantities here on Earth and for far less cost. Nothing.

    • Mader Levap

      “perceive”?
      Nope, USA actually IS in decline. You guys just fall from very, very high, so you can pretend everything is okay for decades.

      In meantime you will delude yourself with your “exceptionalism” and other self-serving sentences that will undoubtebly come – the more in decline, the more such wankery. More escape from harsh reality. Pathetic.

  • Explorer08

    Americans suffering from “short attention span syndrome” is hardly unique to space exploration. Collectively, we pay attention to any given topic for just a few days and then it’s on to the next topic of the moment. Long range strategic thinking and planning? Forget it.

    • DCSCA

      “Americans suffering from “short attention span syndrome” is hardly unique to space exploration.”

      Shortly before he passed, Neil Armstrong lamented that Americans increasingly prefer to be ‘entertained.’ It’s hard to argue with his assessment. And the show biz of space exploration isn’t going to carry the U.S. very far. Americans were thrilled by the engineering success of the EDL team for Curiosity in 8/11 but the rest of it has been a big expensiive yawn. That characteristic has been with us since Alan Shepard, John Glenn’s two flights, Apollo 8′s Christmas message and Apollo 11′s landing. And until the success of the film, Apollo 13 was something NASA was trying hard to forget.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Is the United States in danger of losing the space leadership it has worked so hard to attain over the past half century? And is China quickly catching up?

    As someone who has closely followed U.S. space policy for nearly four decades, my answer to these questions is yes and no, respectively. There are indeed threats to continued U.S. space leadership — but not particularly because of what China is doing in space. The threats come from questions of U.S. political will. The United States is without doubt the current leader in space; the issue is whether it has the determination to maintain that leadership.

    After all, just under 18 months ago, NASA landed the Curiosity rover on Mars, a much more difficult feat than the Chang’e 3 mission by any measure. Curiosity is almost an order of magnitude heavier than Yutu and technologically much more advanced. So if there is a “planetary rover race,” the United States is the clear leader. While China talks about a future space station, the United States is the managing partner of the multinational International Space Station, in full operation since 2011 and with six astronauts and cosmonauts in orbit today.

    The same holds true in almost every area of space activity — the United States has a clear technological and operational advantage over other countries. It’s just not clear America has the determination to sustain that edge. Right now, due to the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011, the United States has no independent capacity to transport astronauts to orbit. That gap is being filled by a private sector-led effort called the Commercial Crew Program, which has been funded at such a miserly pace that it will only lead to crew-carrying operations in 2017 or 2018. This is embarrassing, and at this point there is no alternative but to hope that at least one of the three entrants in the program is successful.”

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/12/china-moon-landing-us-space-race-101278.html#ixzz2o8ltNY1v

    • Robert G. Oler

      As usual Sir, those are thoughtful comments…I mostly agree with them…I would add these remarks

      I really dont think that either the US or China much care about human spaceflight because outside of a view limited venues (Propaganda, pork to constituents, baseless political chess beating) no serious politician in either country sees much value in it…for the cost that it incurs.

      The Chinese or their wealth are doing really a minimal program. They are redoing essentially “Gemini” over a decade, the lunar stuff is impressive but not revolutionary or even really designed to do or capable of doing much more then a few more “logical steps”, a sample return for instance. Our program exist largely to feed dying embers of Empire and an industrial complex that is a symptom of the cancer slowly killing this country. The technology advancements are pathetic, the cost never come down, the limitations get more.

      No one, not even the people posting here can explain what the Chinese would do with a base on the Moon, that would cost far more then ISS anymore then they can explain what we are doing with ISS, or set the logical economic predicate for Bigelow stations…at least at this price point.

      Second, at least for the US, it is stuck; thanks to some fringe elements of its political system hanging on to an Empire that is causing the structure of Empire to remain…(bloated military, things like a space program doing little) and bleed the nation dry.

      Marcus L. notes that one could cancel ISS and there is 3 billion dollars…one could cancel SLS/Orion and there is 3 billion dollars but the point is useless as long as the 3 billion dollars are spent as, with the exception of commercial crew/carge they are spent today. 3 billion dollars would merely change what pork the money is spent on , with no measurable change in results

      The basic problem is that the US has spent nearly 1/2 trillion dollars in constant dollars on human spaceflight…and other then American exceptionalism, the Space Industrial welfare act, and a few other tired slogans…there is nothing of value to show for the cost

      So the people are apathetic. we all should be Robert G. Oler

      • DCSCA

        C’mon, Robert. You NewSpace commerciaists are simply terrified that a resurging government funde and managed space program, focusing on Luna, would essentlayy end the NewSpace hobby set. This administration is al lbut done with space– put it in the out box in 2010. Look to HRC– she has a personal interest in spaceflight and it is in her administartion the new space race will blossom– and it will be a marathon to the moon.

        • Robert G. Oler

          YAWN…and not because of the hour here, but because of those absurd comments.

          “resurgent governed funde (Sic) and managed space program…….” LOL the government spends in its space industrial complex support on major HSF at least 7 maybe 8 billion dollars a year…and from SLS to Orion to ISS it is in a decaying orbit of sloth, turport, and timidity. Now your theory is that somehow a “goal” would revive these aging institutions but there is no evidence of that. NASA has had plenty of goals, maybe ones you dont like, but plenty of goals and for SLS theyhave spent nearly 30 billion dollars and have little or nothing to show for it.

          You are bound and determine to try and redo the glory days of an aging empire…unwillling to embrace new thinking and new logic and new conditions. YOu are like the folks in WW2 as air carrier combat was winning the war, were still planning the Montana class of Battleship

          As for HRC…well lets see how it works out. You have invented a personal interest in space by her…but even if that were accurate the issue might be is “can she win an election”. In my view she is the most likey Dem candidate to lose unless the GOP nominates for POTUS a complete nut. the latter is possible, but if they nominate a Chrisie or someone like that…she will just get pounded like a drum

          She is like you unable to think out of the box of the last century. Maybe she can change…Reagan did and won two solid elections…but ….

          You are posting opinion passing as fact…ok back to sleep…up with a phone call from ops Early Christmas morning here. Why I get paid the really big bucks Robert

        • Vladislaw

          LOL .. that is laughable to the extreme … NASA spent 12 billion on constellation and didn’t even get one suborbital launch,

          If NASA wants to get to the moon now.. they will be FORCED to use commercial services or else they could never get off the ground.

    • DCSCA

      “There are indeed threats to continued U.S. space leadership — but not particularly because of what China is doing in space.”

      Except there is. Comrade.

      There’s plenty of doubt. Particularly as the U.S, no longer has a viable access to space other than buying a ride from othe nations to a Cold War relic representing past planning for an era long over and demonstrating to the world its $100-plus billion ‘orbital zombie’ has repeated maintence problems threating on orbit ops and leaky spacesuits with jury-rigged snorkels an sponges on display to the world.

      It is space projects of scale that matter. Which is why, in the long run, short-sighted forays by deep-pocketed NewSpace hobbyists in America do not.

      While at the same time, the 7 billion people on Planet Earth see the Luna in their evening skies as the PRC is actively at work on the surface of the moon; this from a nation which,as Mao noted less than two generations ago– could not ‘put a potato in space.’

      Today, they’ve soft-landed a spacecraft and a rover on Luna– no small feat, and a success only two other nations in the whole history of everthing have accompliahed– and a hurtle no commercial firm has even attempted, let alone succeeded at over the 80-plus yar history of modern rocetry.

      So to assert the PRC is ‘not a threat to U.S. space dominence’ is simply whistling past the graveyard. A point all four U.S. TV news networks have noted in reporting this story as well as several of the news cablers as well.

      When Apollo 11 went to the moon in ’69, it carred the flags– for goodwill- of all the nations of the world at that time to be presented to their respective governments upon return, except three– one of those not carried, was that of Red China. They’ve not forgotten. Red Moon is on the rise. And they intend to hallmark it, and this century as theirs.

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “Except there is. Comrade.”

        I didn’t write that passage. It’s an excerpt from an opinion piece. Learn what quotation marks are and how to follow links. If you have a problem with the opinion piece, comment on that website.

        Comrade illiterate.

        “There’s plenty of doubt.”

        A lie. A plurality of the U.S. population believes the landing has no impact.

        http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/china/33_see_china_s_moon_landing_as_bad_for_u_s

        Comrade liar.

        “Particularly as the U.S, no longer has a viable access to space other than buying a ride from othe nations”

        Totally wrong. The U.S. has no less than four different operational launch vehicle or families: Atlas V, Delta IV, Falcon, and Taurus. Include converted ICBMs like Minotaur and there’s five.

        Comrade idiot.

        “$100-plus billion ‘orbital zombie’ has repeated problems on orbit ops and leaky spacesuits with jury-rigged snorkels an sponges… It is space projects of scale that matter.”

        If NASA can’t get spacesuits and space station operations right after wasting $100 billion, why on Earth are you begging taxpayers to give the agency twice that amount for more difficult human space flight systems and operations?

        Comrade idiot.

        “A point all four U.S. TV news networks have noted in reporting this story”

        Evidence? Links? Quotes?

        Comrade liar.

        “othe”

        “maintence”

        “threating”

        “everthing have accompliahed”

        “80-plus yar history”

        “it carred the flags”

        The great majority of your post is unintelligible gibberish. Learn the English language.

        Comrade illiterate.

    • DCSCA

      “After all, just under 18 months ago, NASA landed the Curiosity rover on Mars, a much more difficult feat than the Chang’e 3 mission by any measure.”

      Except, of course, Mars isn’t easily seen or found by the 7 billion lay folk of Planet Earth in their night sky. Not so for Luna, which shines in your face and meters the tides of life on this planet. Mars, not so much. It has landers and rovers galore. but Luna is close by and in your face. The geo-politics of the PRC taking aim at Luna is self-evident. It’s as geo-political a move as was putting missiles in Cuba, 90 miles of the coast of Florida– or building aircraft carriers– or modeling their spaceport after KSC.

      • Coastal Ron

        DCSCA whined:

        Not so for Luna, which shines in your face and meters the tides of life on this planet.

        I looked at the Moon last night. There was no red on it. None. The other 7 billion people on Earth would see the same, even if they peered through the mightiest of telescopes.

        Here is an easy experiment even you could do whenever you leave your cluttered basement. Go walk amongst the mass of taxpayers and ask them to peer at the Moon and see if they see anything different about it from the last time they bothered to look at it.

        They’ll see nothing different.

        Apparently you are afraid of your own shadow… ;-)

        • DCSCA

          You know ,Ron, if you walked amongst the taxpayers of 1961 and asked them if they’d like to finance a trip to the moon costibng every American alive in ’61, $10 a pice that yer, you’d likely have found mixed responses— the point is, it took leadership to go– and for the United States, that comes from the top down, no the bottom up. JFK didn’t respond to the will of the people– he pointed to Luna and said, we’re going there. And the country followed. Pay attention to the PRC– for they are making their space program a part of their young people’s schooling– it is central to their education these days– and they take pride in it– their kids are excited by it– and that is as powerful as Apple computer putting their grey boxes in schools two decades ago to raise kids using Macs.

          • Coastal Ron

            DCSCA opined:

            if you walked amongst the taxpayers of 1961 and asked them if they’d like to finance a trip to the moon costibng every American alive in ’61, $10 a pice that yer, you’d likely have found mixed responses…

            Your spelling is really horrible. It detracts from what little message you are trying to get across. Do you realize that?

            Anyways, as everyone knows, the Apollo program was part of the Cold War, not something we were doing for “exploration”. As long as you keep forgetting that you’ll never understand the issues at play for doing things in space. Never.

            Pay attention to the PRC– for they are making their space program a part of their young people’s schooling– it is central to their education these days…

            I doubt you know what the curriculum is at Chinese schools these days. Where did you hear that, on Fox News?

            Regardless, as I was scouring the media while I donated platelets today, the space-related story that was dominating the U.S. news media was the ISS, and the work being done there as we learn to live and work in space. Astronauts in space suits floating in space doing work on a massive space station – I think we dwarf anything the Chinese have planned for quite a long time.

            But why is it that you are so scared of China? Even better, have you stopped funding them by refusing to buy anything that was made in China or has components made in China? Put your fears where your mouth is.

            Space is plenty big enough for all the countries of the world to be expanding out into it. And until we find something of value that we need to bring back to Earth, space is not of any real value, only scientific value.

    • Vladislaw

      Once America has domestic commercial operations for humans to both travel into LEO (Boeing, SpaceX, Sierra Nevada) and have a commercial destination (Bigelow Aerospace) along with multiple commercial cargo services, capital will start flowing into this sector. Capital has been denied a purpose in this sector because of the government protected NASA monopoly-monopsony. Now that congress has finally actually passed laws ALLOWING commercial services capital will soon follow.

  • A government of the people, by the people, and for the people is a little different than a government run by a ruling oligarchy– that won’t allow you to vote– and will imprison you if you dare to criticize it!

    Marcel

    • Coastal Ron

      Marcel F. Williams said:

      A government of the people, by the people, and for the people is a little different than a government run by a ruling oligarchy…

      Regardless, China does’t have the capabilities to do any of the bad things you think they are getting ready to do, they don’t have the industry to support such an endeavor, nor so they have the money to devote to such a silly venture.

      Contrary to popular belief, “rare Earth elements” are quite common here on Earth, and the U.S. has access to it’s own supply. China knows this, and has no more reason to try and mine them on the Moon than the U.S. does, which is ZERO. It just doesn’t make economic sense.

      Funny you don’t understand that…

  • Coastal Ron

    He [Wolf] asks the president to convene a conference at the White House “early in the new year” to develop a plan for a US-led human return to the Moon in the next ten years.

    Boy is he out of touch. The goal in the 60′s was the Moon, and we conquered it over 40 years ago.

    The acknowledged next goal is Mars, which is where NASA has been focusing it’s HSF and robotic programs. For instance, the ISS is addressing the issues relating to the transit to Mars and our ability to keep a presence there in orbit (LMO is a natural activity node), and NASA has been sending a steady stream of robotic explorers to the surface of Mars to figure out where future landings should take place.

    Heck, even SLS supporters point to Mars as the reason why an HLV is needed, even though what is really needed is inexpensive mass transport off of Earth, not the most expensive government transportation system ever built.

    It’s good he’s retiring…

    • I’m a HLV supporter and I point to the Moon:-) The economic value of Mars is probably in the moons of Mars.

      Marcel

    • @Coastal Ron,….There is far more new work that still needs doing on the Moon! It is in a human lunar return, in more extended & technologically advanced expeditions, that we will finally see a quantum leap, in creating all the basic engineering systems design for spacecraft which could withstand the rigors of interplanetary space.
      The Chinese now have the spacecraft design capacity to soft-land on another world. If they can master the necessary elements for a manned lunar cabin, they’ll be able to match the 41-years ago accomplishment of the Apollo Lunar Module——and their LM equivalent will most likely be far more robustly designed & capable of much longer surface-stay times. Their lunar orbiter craft—-presumably the Shenzou—-will be capable of much longer in-lunar-orbit times as well; & it might become capable of being flown temporarily without a crewman on-board, and left untended while the main crew do their landing.
      All these tremendous possibilities will ensure that the second round of human missions to the Moon, shall be a technological quantum leap. And China will be the nation that’ll reap the full benefit!

      • Coastal Ron

        Chris Castro said:

        There is far more new work that still needs doing on the Moon!

        No doubt, and I’ve never said that there wasn’t anything more to do on the Moon, just that there isn’t anything more for the Government to do on the Moon right now. Nothing.

        If the private sector wants to exploit the Moon, then I wish them and their investors the best. But in the 40+ years since the last Apollo mission left the surface of the Moon, no compelling reason for going back has been sustained.

        Unless you understand why that is, you will forever be deluded that NASA has to be the one to go back to the Moon.

        The Chinese now have the spacecraft design capacity to soft-land on another world.

        No, not “world”, but “airless moon orbiting Earth”. There is a difference.

        The U.S. can soft land large semi-autonomous robotic explorers on another planet, but the Chinese so far have only been able to land small and less sophisticated systems only on our Moon.

        …and their LM equivalent will most likely be far more robustly designed & capable of much longer surface-stay times.

        So what? Two guys, or twenty. Or even two hundred Chinese citizens are not going to make much of a dent in the surface of the Moon.

        You and Marcel have failed to provide any real reason why Chinese stomping around on the Moon is going to change anything, anywhere. Last I looked, a couple of hundred pounds of gray rocks from the Moon are not going to tip the scales of commerce any here on Earth.

        • adastramike

          Coastal Ron wrote: “So what? Two guys, or twenty. Or even two hundred Chinese citizens are not going to make much of a dent in the surface of the Moon.”

          Are you kidding me? If China sent 20 people to the Moon, that wouldn’t be significant? I’d say that if China even sent 1 person to the Moon, that would not only be historic (the 1st Communist country to land a human on the Moon) but also very threatening to the West — a sign that the Chinese regime is technologically on the rise. Maybe at its early stages, maybe repeating a feat the U.S. accomplished 40+ years go, but clearly a sign of a society on the rise, not decline. And for the U.S. to just sit back and think, “Oh were still dominant in space” and do nothing in response is just setting up for a tortoise vs. hare victory by China.

          I’ve read Coastal Ron’s comments and it sounds like he has something against the Moon: “No, not “world”, but “airless moon orbiting Earth”. There is a difference.”

          The Moon is a world, get it right. A world does not have to be a planet with an atmosphere, e.g. Mars. Mercury is an airless planet yet it is still a world. Titan is a moon with an atmosphere, a world. Enceladus is an airless moon orbiting Saturn, yet still a world.

          And the Moon is a world that hasn’t been fully explored or even yet exploited.

          “The goal in the 60′s was the Moon, and we conquered it over 40 years ago.”

          Really? “We came in peace for all mankind” and yet we conquered the Moon? At this point no one has laid claim to the moon, or mastered living on it’s surface, which would be conquest. No we simply were the first to send humans to the Moon. Yes, America won the Cold-War space race, but that is not conquest.

          The Romans once had “conquered” a vast swath of land in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. They no longer have it conquered. Spain once had “conquered” a large part of the Americas, but that is no longer the case. America didn’t conquer the Moon– it only partially explored it first.

          “You and Marcel have failed to provide any real reason why Chinese stomping around on the Moon is going to change anything, anywhere. Last I looked, a couple of hundred pounds of gray rocks from the Moon are not going to tip the scales of commerce any here on Earth.”

          The moon rocks are for science, not commerce. I think even a kindergartner could understand that. It’s about who has the technology, the capability, the engineering and expertise to pull such a feat off currently, not 40+ years ago. Pointing to 40+ years ago is living on past glories, which will fade as other nations create new, brighter glories.

          “No doubt, and I’ve never said that there wasn’t anything more to do on the Moon, just that there isn’t anything more for the Government to do on the Moon right now. Nothing.”

          And you know this how? You might say if there was more for the Gov’t to do on the Moon that they’d be doing it. But not necessarily. A gov’t could simply abandon some of its exploration, even if there is more to do, for whatever reason. No private company has landed anything on the Moon, and only a handful of private organizations are trying to (Google Lunar X-Prize). It took national governments to do the initial surveying of the Moon, and which continues on today (India, China, ESA, NASA). I wish all the private companies success but government exploration isn’t over. It’s just progressing at a snail’s pace in the U.S. because the nation lost interest in the Moon — a really sad tale in my view. As far as things for gov’t to do on the Moon: if there was nothing left for gov’ts to do on the Moon, China wouldn’t have sent a rover there.

          What we’re beginning to see, in my view, is the beginning of the next phase of lunar exploration: first by nations other than the U.S., next with resumed surface exploration by robotic vehicles, next the resumption of human missions, and eventually a lunar scientific base. That is a role for both gov’ts and private companies. There is still exploration required of the lunar poles, to survey how much water-ice exists there. And within the next several decades and future centuries there is the inevitable building of infrastructure on the Moon, for utilization on the Moon, launching from the Moon, and who knows perhaps for use back on Earth. Don’t tell me that government’s won’t be involved to some extent when that happens. To see otherwise is to have myopia.

          • Coastal Ron

            adastramike said:

            If China sent 20 people to the Moon, that wouldn’t be significant? I’d say that if China even sent 1 person to the Moon, that would not only be historic…

            Significant and historic for sure. But not as historic as if they were first, just that this is their first time. Kind of like when you finish your first marathon, but you’re an hour behind the leaders…

            …(the 1st Communist country to land a human on the Moon) but also very threatening to the West — a sign that the Chinese regime is technologically on the rise.

            Threatening? What about landing a small rover on our Moon has made them MORE threatening? If you didn’t already know that they could lob nuclear bombs on us, then you were clearly out of touch with reality. Nothing has changed.

            Maybe at its early stages, maybe repeating a feat the U.S. accomplished 40+ years go, but clearly a sign of a society on the rise, not decline.

            And you didn’t know that they were a society on the rise before they landed the small rover on the Moon? What does that say about you powers of observation?

            The moon rocks are for science, not commerce.

            My point is that bringing back a bunch of gray rocks is not going to change the balance of world power. I think even a kindergartner could understand that.

            A gov’t could simply abandon some of its exploration, even if there is more to do, for whatever reason.

            Why should taxpayers pay for “exploration” on the Moon? If you think about it, the reason we went to the Moon with humans was not to explore the Moon, but to show the world that we were better than the USSR. Exploration of the Moon was a byproduct of the Cold War, not the primary goal.

            We still lack a compelling reason for spending $Billions of taxpayer money on “human exploration” of the Moon. And that’s not likely to change unless there is some sort of profit that can be gained from the Moon, which then changes “exploration” to “exploitation”. And I’m OK with exploitation as long as the taxpayer is not picking up the bill.

            What we’re beginning to see, in my view, is the beginning of the next phase of lunar exploration: first by nations other than the U.S.

            I think thats a good thing, although you are clearly afraid of it. And of course the “next phase” really happened back in the 60′s when a country other than the U.S. was also landing lots of hardware on the Moon. And what bad happened? Nothing.

            • adastramike

              Coastal Ron wrote:
              “Threatening? What about landing a small rover on our Moon has made them MORE threatening? If you didn’t already know that they could lob nuclear bombs on us, then you were clearly out of touch with reality. Nothing has changed.”

              Read what I said again: ““…(the 1st Communist country to land a human on the Moon) but also very threatening to the West — a sign that the Chinese regime is technologically on the rise.” I didn’t say their current rover is a direct threat to the West. I said if they landed humans on the Moon, then that would be a threat. Not a military threat, which seems to be the only kind of threat you think they could be. Their capability to launch nuclear missiles is not the only kind of threat they could be. They could begin to threaten our economic power, our system of government, our leadership in space technology, for example.

              “And you didn’t know that they were a society on the rise before they landed the small rover on the Moon? What does that say about you powers of observation?”

              Yes I did know they were a society on the rise before the rover. I follow the news every day. And good for them, they can be a society on the rise, hopefully to improve the lives of their citizens. However, their space technology is one area, I think, that we have to keep an eye on, because if we linger around they could surpass us in the not too distant future. And I don’t see anything wrong with a democracy like the U.S. wanting to stay the leader in certain things. I do see something wrong with us sitting around thinking, “we did that 40+ years ago, no one can surpass us”.

              “My point is that bringing back a bunch of gray rocks is not going to change the balance of world power.”

              Didn’t Apollo contribute to changing the balance of world power? The U.S. had the better aerospace sector, and more dedicated funding, and the commitment, and so we were first to the Moon. I think JFK saw the need to go to the Moon clearly for what it was: a statement at technological dominance for one type of gov’t vs. another. It wasn’t about bringing moon rocks back. Those were nice-to-haves for the scientists back on Earth that you might as well get since you had people there. And to my knowledge, the U.S. didn’t have any lunar sample return missions plans so these Moon rocks were important scientifically.

              Now, the waters are less clear in terms of how the Moon plays into questions of world power. Since we’re not in the Cold War anymore, we don’t have a directly competing technological power to worry about. However, we should be concerned about rising powers who don’t necessarily share our system of government and what they can achieve.

              “Why should taxpayers pay for “exploration” on the Moon? If you think about it, the reason we went to the Moon with humans was not to explore the Moon, but to show the world that we were better than the USSR. Exploration of the Moon was a byproduct of the Cold War, not the primary goal.”

              If that’s your stance, why should taxpayers pay for exploration of Antarctica, or of anything off-Earth for that matter? Pure science isn’t valuable? It doesn’t lead to new discoveries that answer old questions or have applications to new technologies? Yes the primary reason for the U.S. to go to the Moon was to win the space race against the U.S.S.R. However they continued to send 5 other crewed missions to the Moon after Apollo 11 before the program was canceled. The real question is not, ‘should taxpayers fund exploration of the Moon?’. If we fund other types of science, I don’t see why not. The better question might be, ‘…at a cost of XYZ $’. I’m not supposing we break the bank for lunar exploration. We can find cheaper ways to do it, involving both the public and private sectors, or alternative mission architectures.

              ““What we’re beginning to see, in my view, is the beginning of the next phase of lunar exploration: first by nations other than the U.S.”

              I think thats a good thing, although you are clearly afraid of it. And of course the “next phase” really happened back in the 60′s when a country other than the U.S. was also landing lots of hardware on the Moon. And what bad happened? Nothing.”

              I never stated I was afraid of other nations exploring the Moon. The moon is accessible to them just as it is to us. In fact, I’m happy that there is renewed interest at present in the Moon from a variety of nations. It makes logical sense to aim for the Moon first if you are a country or group of nations with certain aspirations. However, if the U.S. wants to maintain itself as the leader, it can’t point back to 40+ years ago and just rest on that. It’s not about firsts or stunts (i.e. asteroid retrieval mission) and then claiming victory forever.

              • Coastal Ron

                adastramike said:

                They could begin to threaten our economic power, our system of government, our leadership in space technology, for example.

                I’m a business kind of guy, and I don’t understand where the threat is you’re talking about.

                If anything China is even less threatening today because we are in-shoring manufacturing that was being done in China. Labor rates in China are now about the same as they are in Mexico, and though China can scale up factories quickly for consumer products, overall they have lost their competitive edge.

                Maybe you should provide a specific example of how they would threaten us, especially because China has said that they can’t compete against a tiny company called SpaceX.

                Didn’t Apollo contribute to changing the balance of world power?

                As one of many things that were being done to “win” the Cold War.

                However, we should be concerned about rising powers who don’t necessarily share our system of government and what they can achieve.

                Luckily the vast number of countries around the world don’t share our system of government, which is good because our legislative branch is highly dysfunctional.

                However, if the U.S. wants to maintain itself as the leader, it can’t point back to 40+ years ago and just rest on that.

                Who is resting? We have a 450mt space station that has been continuously occupied for over 13 years, and we have been landing progressively larger and more capable rovers on the surface of the planet that is the next acknowledged goal for HSF. Add in the small U.S. companies that are doing things no nations are doing, and I’d say if anything we are progressing much faster than China with space related stuff.

                Again, please provide specific examples to explain your concern.

          • Hiram

            “I’d say that if China even sent 1 person to the Moon, that would not only be historic (the 1st Communist country to land a human on the Moon) but also very threatening to the West — a sign that the Chinese regime is technologically on the rise.”

            Let’s not be totally clueless. The Chinese regime is technologically on the rise. They don’t have to fling a human to the Moon to convince anyone of that. And no, a Chinese person on the Moon would not be threatening to the west. Chinese satellites overhead are vastly more threatening, as would be Chinese ICBMs and nuclear submarines. In fact, for the Chinese to spend money putting a human on the Moon instead of developing ICBMs or nuclear submarines would make us feel pretty good.

            As to “conquering” the Moon — huh? Shall we put it in chains and waterboard it? Maybe we should “humble” the Moon, or make it bow down to us? Shall we put castles on it, and let our rich and powerful people have the pleasure of living there? What absolute nonsense.

            The comparison to Romans and Spanish (and don’t forget the French and English!) is noteworthy. They fought to maintain control of new lands, and at least their government eventually left. The competition that those governments set up didn’t get them anything. Our country wasn’t founded by conquerors. It was founded by people who moved here, and decided to stay. Mostly people who were thrown out of other places.

            “Don’t tell me that government’s won’t be involved to some extent when that happens.”

            Yep. I will. Governments won’t get involved unless it offers value to their citizens.

            “…and who knows perhaps for use back on Earth.”

            See, you got it. Who knows?

          • “The Moon is a world, get it right. A world does not have to be a planet with an atmosphere, e.g. Mars. Mercury is an airless planet yet it is still a world. Titan is a moon with an atmosphere, a world. Enceladus is an airless moon orbiting Saturn, yet still a world.

            There’s a difference all right.

            Degree of gravity, and existence/nature of atmosphere matters, with respect to the difficulty of putting payloads (including humans) on their surfaces. There was a reason for Curiosity’s complex ‘Seven Minutes of Terror.’ Review the video. No one is replicating that, soon. The Moon, today, is far less of a challenge than the other places you refer to.

            “The moon rocks are for science, not commerce. I think even a kindergartner could understand that. It’s about who has the technology, the capability, the engineering and expertise to pull such a feat off currently, not 40+ years ago. Pointing to 40+ years ago is living on past glories, which will fade as other nations create new, brighter glories.

            Before, it was primarily a matter of getting there. Before the soviets, and before the decade is out, whichever came first. All else was secondary. Science was rightly along for the ride, but not the driver. And once we accomplished it, the Soviets engaged in the simple practice of; “If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.” And denied ever having been in a ‘space race.’ Many people in the US and internationally bought that falsehood. (Today the Russians are fairly open about what they intended to do, even the Soviet manned lander in ‘Apollo 18′ was a pretty accurate representation of their real intended design. But no one really cares today.)

            To return today, the mere act of doing so will not be as impressive (and the conspiracy theorists will still call you a liar…some don’t even believe in Chang’e-3.), you have to be able to say what you plan to do there that’s worth it. And the more expensive the means by which you do so, the better your answer has to be. If access was relative pocket change like Antarctica, few would even ask.

            Funny how the ISS critics here who want a major Lunar presence, think they’re immune to the same questions…oh, that’s right. Somehow the Moon makes you indefinitely committed, because you can’t de-orbit it. I believe that was one ‘justification’ once given here.

            • adastramike

              Frank Glover wrote: “There’s a difference all right.

              Degree of gravity, and existence/nature of atmosphere matters, with respect to the difficulty of putting payloads (including humans) on their surfaces. There was a reason for Curiosity’s complex ‘Seven Minutes of Terror.’ Review the video. No one is replicating that, soon. The Moon, today, is far less of a challenge than the other places you refer to.”

              These differences you point out, I am well aware of. But the question was whether the Moon could be considered a world. Regardless if it has only 1/6th the gravity of Earth, no atmosphere, etc, it still can be considered a world.

              As for landing on Mars, well of course the atmosphere made all the difference in the world. As I’m sure you know, it can be used to slow the vehicle down from the speeds of interplanetary flight to speeds low enough for parachute deployment. I watched the Curiosity landing live and agree that it is a feat which no other nation is likely to replicate soon. However, don’t discount them.

              Landing something on the Moon is challenging, no matter what. It doesn’t require a heat shield, parachute system, etc with all that additional complexity but it still requires a landing system, which is not an easy thing to develop.

              • Coastal Ron

                adastramike said:

                But the question was whether the Moon could be considered a world. Regardless if it has only 1/6th the gravity of Earth, no atmosphere, etc, it still can be considered a world.

                I think there is no argument that our Earth is a planet, and that our Moon is a moon.

                And while Earth is our world, as long as humans are not inhabiting our Moon it is not part of our world. That is according to the classic definition of the word “world”.

                Not only is our Moon currently just a moon, but it’s an airless one at that. If the other moons in our solar system were as close as our Moon, then our Moon would not be 1st on the list of moons that everyone would want to spend time on. Not that I don’t mind looking at it, but it’s not the most interesting moon around.

                Just sayin’…

              • Vladislaw

                The moon is and always will be a satellite of planet earth.

    • Mader Levap

      “we conquered it over 40 years ago”
      Conquered moon? You call six short sorties on Moon conquest?! Good grief.

      You are one out of touch almost as much as Wolf.

      • Coastal Ron

        Mader Levap said:

        Conquered moon?

        Yep. Kennedy’s goal was:

        I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth…

        And we did that. We know how to get there across a great expanse, survive the landing, run around on the surface, and survive the trip back. Conquered.

        • Ben Russell-Gough

          [blockquote]And we did that. We know how to get there across a great expanse, survive the landing, run around on the surface, and survive the trip back. Conquered.[/blockquote]
          Well, that’s a “Your Mileage May Vary” statements really. We know how to do short trips (around three days) to the surface and travel short distances and survive during the relatively benign lunar twilight. What we don’t know a this point is how to live there for longer periods, including using local resources and environmental features to our benefit. We also don’t know how to do travel there in a sustained way, the only proven method being an economically-unsustainable super-rocket.

          So, yeah, still lots of stuff to do before we can declare anything other than a very fragile beachhead.

          • Coastal Ron

            Ben Russell-Gough said:

            What we don’t know a this point is how to live there for longer periods, including using local resources and environmental features to our benefit.

            Using that line of argument it could be said that we haven’t yet conquered Earth, since we haven’t learned how to live at the top of Everest, the bottom of the ocean, and many other places.

            We also don’t know how to do travel there in a sustained way, the only proven method being an economically-unsustainable super-rocket.

            That is true, but we haven’t had a reason yet to do it in a sustainable way.

            And what is “sustainable”? $3B/year? $30B/year?

            We won’t know how much we are prepared to spend until we know why we’re going there…

            • Ben Russell-Gough

              Bad analogy; we have the ability to survive in the vast majority of Earth’s dry land environments; only the most extreme ones defeat us. We do NOT have the ability to survive in the average lunar environment.

              • Vladislaw

                I disagree, We have the mental, historical experience, and financial might to go and live on Luna anytime we decide to exercise out will.

                As Ron and many others say… we do not find living on the moon paid for by the taxpayer (who know about how much pork is wasted on big stalinist government pork projects) as important.

                There is nothing stopping America from living on the moon, other than political will.

        • Mader Levap

          In what way six short sorties on very, very small fragment of moon constitutes “conquest”? Do you (USA) have territiorial claims? Resources? Did you go back permamently? Got any use of conquered place? Why Chinese can do as they please on Moon “conquered” by USA?

          In comparison of historical conquests, this one looks exceptional, indeed. Exceptionally pathetic, as conquests go.

          Definition of conquest that you choose (“the overcoming of problem or weakness”) is unacceptable to me, as we are talking about Moon itself, not “land on Moon and return back in one piece” problem. It looks selected specifically to justify neglecting Moon for almost 40 years as something not worth worrying about. Close it with “been there, done that” mantra and we are set.

          Conclusion: I cannot take seriously your “USA conquered the Moon” claim at all.

        • adastramike

          “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth…”

          And we did that. We know how to get there across a great expanse, survive the landing, run around on the surface, and survive the trip back. Conquered.”

          That’s not what I would consider “conquered”. We won the Space Race; we didn’t militarily take over the Moon, or mastered exploitation of its resources, which would be conquest.

      • @Mader Levap,….Excellent point. Consider also, the literally over a HUNDRED of LEO sortie missions, lasting two weeks or less, that the Space Shuttle had done. (Particularly, those flights prior to the Mir & ISS dockings.) By the Flexible Path/New Space logic, doesn’t THIS constitute a full CONQUEST of Low Earth Orbit, by now?!

        • Coastal Ron

          Chris Castro said:

          By the Flexible Path/New Space logic, doesn’t THIS constitute a full CONQUEST of Low Earth Orbit, by now?

          As usual you have it backwards Chris. We conquered LEO decades ago, and since then we’ve been exploiting it.

          Why? Because you can’t go anywhere when leaving Earth without go to or passing through LEO. And it is the closest – and thus least expensive place to reach – for doing things in space. So if the goal is to learn how to live and work in space so we can expand humanities presence out into space, then LEO is the best place to do that.

          And that’s not “Flexible Path” or NewSpace” logic, that’s common sense.

          • adastramike

            “As usual you have it backwards Chris. We conquered LEO decades ago, and since then we’ve been exploiting it.”

            If that logic were true (once something is conquered it is next exploited), then we would be exploiting the Moon’s resources. But it obviously isn’t true of the Moon– the U.S. didn’t conquer it, by the usual definition of the word.

            • Coastal Ron

              adastramike said:

              If that logic were true (once something is conquered it is next exploited), then we would be exploiting the Moon’s resources.

              Who says we have to be doing it now? Do we need anything from the Moon?

              Some day, and that day may be centuries from now, we’ll need resources from the Moon – likely for off-Earth purposes. But that day is not now.

            • Vladislaw

              Wrong, property rights were settled for LEO to GEO. That is not the case for Luna. Business wants CLEAR chains of title for investing capital.

              You can “own” a slot in space, you can not own a piece of Luna.

              Hot Orbital Slots: Is There Anything Left

              The World’s Hottest Real Estate: Orbital Slots Are Prime Property.

              So the flawed logic is yours. The 800 pound gorilla is property rights and no one is going to invest in a mine on the moon if they do not get the mineral rights too.

  • “Regardless, China does’t have the capabilities to do any of the bad things you think they are getting ready to do, they don’t have the industry to support such an endeavor, nor so they have the money to devote to such a silly venture.”

    Thirty to forty years ago, China was an economic basket case. Now they’re the second largest economy on Earth. China has long term plans for the Moon and thirty or forty years from now, a Chinese colony could have complete domination of cis-lunar space.

    America, and particularly the Obama administration, appears to view the Moon the way the Vikings viewed their discovery of America– with very little interest. China, on the other hand, views the Moon like the Spanish, Portuguese, British, and French viewed the New World.

    Marcel

    • Hiram

      “China, on the other hand, views the Moon like the Spanish, Portuguese, British, and French viewed the New World.”

      What’s your evidence for that remark? Sounds like a paranoid fabrication to me. China sees human spaceflight exactly the way we do, as an exercise in technology. That’s what they say it is. What precisely is your evidence that China is out to “dominate cis-lunar space”? Quotes?

      America actually views a human return to the Moon right now with very little interest because, gasp!, putting humans back on the Moon, repeating what we did forty years ago, doesn’t obviously offer any advantages to the nation. It did forty years ago, when we needed to demonstrate missle superiority to the Soviets. The Spanish, Portugese, British, and French looked at the New World, and saw there unclaimed potential for all the great stuff they had back at home. The New World was virgin territory that could be easily moulded into extensions of, and feed their culture and power. That metaphor simply doesn’t apply to the Moon, which is a big, lifeless, airless rock. About all the Moon has is acreage. Of course, the Spanish, Portugese, British and French look at Antarctica in exactly the same way that we look at the Moon. It’s good place to visit, with some acreage, but is hardly a place that can easily be moulded into an extension of their culture and power.

      Let me speculate that, of all possible technology investments that could result in enormous national strength and prestige, there is one that stands out. Fusion power. In many respects, we’re on the cusp of that. The nation that first makes fusion power feasible will simply dominate humanity. Sending humans into space is an endeavor that pales in comparison.

      • “What’s your evidence for that remark?”

        Ouyang Ziyuan (Ouyang), a senior consultant at China’s lunar exploration program:

        “If China doesn’t explore the moon, we will have no say in international lunar exploration and can’t safeguard our proper rights and interests.”

        President Obama:

        “Now, I understand that some believe that we should attempt a return to the surface of the Moon first, as previously planned. But I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We’ve been there before.”

        Marcel

        • Hiram

          “If China doesn’t explore the moon, we will have no say in international lunar exploration and can’t safeguard our proper rights and interests.”

          Er, that’s not how the Spanish, Portuguese, British, and French viewed the New World. They wanted to dominate, pillage, and control. Mr. Ziyuan isn’t saying that. The Chinese are exactly right. They can’t be “players” unless they’re playing.

          Paranoia.

          In fact, the U.S. continues to explore the Moon. Though people living in the realm of historical exploration can’t accept that this can be done without having feet on the surface. What Obama is saying (as if you can’t tell) is that with regard to safeguarding our proper right and interests, our efforts on the Moon will do that quite handily. We, the U.S. has VASTLY better lunar maps than anyone else. We, the U.S. have VASTLY more info about potential lunar resources than anyone else. We, the U.S. have VASTLY more info about the complex lunar gravitation field that will dominate near-Moon travels. I guess what might concern us a bit is if the Chinese launch an HLV with a few kilometers of fencing to the Moon.

          • Mader Levap

            “Though people living in the realm of historical exploration can’t accept that this can be done without having feet on the surface.”
            First, you cannot do everything from orbit – otherwise why have any rovers on Mars at all? Huh?

            Second, manned operations on surface of different world means easier and more cost-effective science. Downside is, of course, fact you have to pay large up-front cost and mission in general is harder.

            Looking how hard you work to downplay what Chinese did is pretty hilarious.

            • Hiram

              “First, you cannot do everything from orbit – otherwise why have any rovers on Mars at all? Huh?”

              But most things that could and should be done on orbit are part of the dreams of those who envision feet on the ground. I’ll wager that EVERYTHING that Apollo did on the Moon could now be done without feet on the ground (though with hardware on the ground). That’s not to demean Apollo, but just to point out how much we’ve advanced in forty years. But you can live in the past, if you want.

              “Second, manned operations on surface of different world means easier and more cost-effective science.”

              EASIER science? MORE COST EFFECTIVE science? Holy cow. It’s easier and more cost effective to put a human on the surface of a different world than a capable telerobot? We’ve now reached the point that a telerobot on the surface of a different world, at least controlled from overhead, can have more awareness, mobility, and dexterity than a suited human. Think about that. That’s not to say that there can’t be some things that an in situ human could do more easily and cost effectively with feet on the ground, but no one is really trying to establish what those things might be.

              The value of humans on other worlds is all tied up with perceived value of colonization and settlement. You can’t do colonization and settlement of humanity with robots.

              “Looking how hard you work to downplay what Chinese did is pretty hilarious.”

              I said nothing to “downplay what the Chinese did”. Nothing. What they did is challenging, and something they should be very proud of. What I downplayed was the effect their accomplishment should have on our plans.

              • adastramike

                Hiram wrote: “It’s easier and more cost effective to put a human on the surface of a different world than a capable telerobot? We’ve now reached the point that a telerobot on the surface of a different world, at least controlled from overhead, can have more awareness, mobility, and dexterity than a suited human. Think about that. That’s not to say that there can’t be some things that an in situ human could do more easily and cost effectively with feet on the ground, but no one is really trying to establish what those things might be.”

                Steve Squyres, the principal investigator of the Spirit and Opporunity rovers would disagree:

                “You know, I’m a robot guy, that’s what I have spent most of my career doing, but I’m actually a very strong supporter of human spaceflight. I believe that the most successful exploration is going to be carried out by humans, not by robots.

                What Spirit and Opportunity have done in 5 1/2 years on Mars, you and I could have done in a good week. Humans have a way to deal with surprises, to improvise, to change their plans on the spot. All you’ve got to do is look at the latest Hubble mission to see that.

                And one of the most important points I think: humans have a key ability to inspire, that robots do not. Somebody once famously said, ‘ Nobody’s ever going to give a robot a ticker tape parade,’ and there’s something to that. ” – http://www.space.com/6972-steve-squyres-robot-guy-humans-mars.html

              • Mader Levap

                “I’ll wager that EVERYTHING that Apollo did on the Moon could now be done without feet on the ground (though with hardware on the ground).”
                You would lost that wager. Even with today automation, you still cannot get Moon rocks in same quantity and with same price per kg. Just compare Apollo and Luna missions: their cost and mass of their returned samples.

                “EASIER science? MORE COST EFFECTIVE science?”
                Yep, in comparision to robotical missions. Adastramike already commented on that. Judging by your argument below about “telerobots”, you already know that. Sad you have to make up not yet existent technology to still assert it is more effective to do robotical missions.

                “It’s easier and more cost effective to put a human on the surface of a different world than a capable telerobot?”
                Wait, wait, waaait. We landed penetrators, landers, rovers.

                We never got any “telerobot” (by that I assume you mean humanoid robot teleoperated by humans in orbit) on surface. We do not have tech needed to do that yet. So I do not see any basis for claim that it currently would be cost effective.

                Protip: something that cannot be done yet is not cost effective.

              • Hiram

                “You would lost that wager.”

                No, your argument is silly. You’re comparing the mass returned by Apollo and Luna without comparing the mission costs. Also, the mass returned by Apollo had absolutely nothing to do with having people on board. In fact,if there weren’t people, more mass could have been returned. If the goal was trucking large quantities of Moon rocks back to earth, even carefully selected ones, Apollo wasn’t the best way to do it.

                “I believe that the most successful exploration is going to be carried out by humans, not by robots.”

                I can agree with that. I can also confidently assert that in terms of science VALUE, as in cost per unit science produced, sending humans to do it isn’t necessarily the best bet. If you can afford to send humans, then go for it. We can’t.

                “We never got any ‘telerobot’ (by that I assume you mean humanoid robot teleoperated by humans in orbit) on surface. We do not have tech needed to do that yet.”

                Yes, I do mean that, and for the cost of landing humans on the Moon, refinement of that technology (making it space qualified) is easily reachable. We have advanced mobility systems and dexterous manipulators right now that can do everything that suited humans can do. Probably more. We can put those telerobots all over the Moon, not just at one site. By the way, I never said “humanoid”. No reason that such a system, with mobility and dexterity has to look like a human. So if you’re just thinking about humanoid robots that exist right now, you’re way off base.

                “And one of the most important points I think: humans have a key ability to inspire, that robots do not.”

                That’s probably the strongest argument for human visits, but I’d be careful of that. Not completely clear what exactly is being inspired, though. Heroism? Courage? That’s about it. As to inspiring curiosity and technical achievement, certainly don’t need flesh on rocks to inspire that.

              • Mader Levap

                “You’re comparing the mass returned by Apollo and Luna without comparing the mission costs.”
                I mentioned costs.
                “Just compare Apollo and Luna missions: their cost and mass of their returned samples.”

                I guess two division operations is too much work. I will do it for you. I am nice like that.
                Official cost of Apollo: 20.4 bln $ (in 1973 dollars)
                Amount of carefully selected rocks, core samples etc from Apollo: 380.2 KILOgrams.
                Cost of Luna program: 4.5 bln $ (aproximate, as Soviets wasn’t particularly open with that)
                Amount of rocks, or rather scraped gravel from nearby of Luna landers: 326 grams.
                (Source: Wikipedia)

                Yes, three orders of magnitude less. Nothing to do with it being automated mission, not at all, no sireeee.

                Cost of rock per kg from Apollo program: 53.6 thousand $/g.
                Cost of rock per kg from Luna program: 13 803.7 thousand $/g. (yes, almost 14 milion $ per gram)

                And I even did not yet started about quality of samples…

                “Also, the mass returned by Apollo had absolutely nothing to do with having people on board.”
                Now that’s denialtastic sentence. I already said, even with current technology automated mission is incapable of returning as much moon rocks as manned mission of same cost.
                In other words, humans are still best “automats” that we have. Shame they are so damn costly to maintain alive.

                “In fact, if there weren’t people, more mass could have been returned.”
                Yess, and these rocks, core samples etc would dig up and move by itself to inside of spacecraft. Riiiight.

                “refinement of that technology (making it space qualified) is easily reachable.”
                You talk about space qualification. You mean we are already operating telerobots on Earth with needed properties? We have no humanoid robots as agile as human at all, let alone your “more awareness, mobility, and dexterity” fantasy. You know this very well.

                “By the way, I never said “humanoid”.”
                Then what exactly? Surely you do not mean rovers like these currently existing on Moon and Mars.

                I think you are simply making things up.

                My claim “currently manned missions are more cost-effective than robotic mission, but requires extremely large upfront payment” stands.

                I do not see any point in discussion if you want to pretend some vague yet advanced space-capable telerobot technology exists almost right now to score rethoric points.

              • Hiram

                “Now that’s denialtastic sentence. I already said, even with current technology automated mission is incapable of returning as much moon rocks as manned mission of same cost.
                In other words, humans are still best “automats” that we have. Shame they are so damn costly to maintain alive.”

                Which was my point. They are damned costly to keep alive, and if you can return samples without them, it will be cheaper. Your cost assessment is formally valid, but the Luna probes could have returned a lot more, had they not left a lot of capability on the surface.

                As to core samples, geez, you don’t need a human to do coring. We’re working on a Mars lander that will do that right now. As to sample selection, you put a high resolution imager on a telerobot, one with some spectral sensing capability, and you’d beat Jack to the orange rocks every time. We’re not talking about replacing human awareness and cognition. We’re talking about extending it.

                “‘By the way, I never said ‘humanoid’.’
                Then what exactly? Surely you do not mean rovers like these currently existing on Moon and Mars.”

                Thick, aren’t you. Consider the telerobotics we now use on the ocean floor, or the telerobotics we use for remote surgery, or the telerobotics we use for explosive ordnance disposal. Just a couple of examples. You’re looking at awareness (quality of vision that can be FAR better then a human eye), dexterity (the precision of which, for surgical telerobotics, is FAR better than a human hand), and at least in the first and last examples, mobility. Those things don’t look like humans, nor do they have to. Humanoid telerobots are made that way for popular appeal, and not necessarily for functionality. What’s more, these technologies that I’m pointing to exist. They exist commercially! Making these technologies space capable is far easier than making humans space capable.

                Our terrestrial telerobotic technologies are FAR better than what we’re chosen to put on Mars. No, I surely do not mean that we should use rovers like those currently existing on Moon and Mars. That’s just a straw man, suggesting that I am.

                If you don’t see any point in discussion because you want to deny current technology, then that works for me. Keep your blinders on, if you like, but watch out for those walls.

      • DCSCA

        China sees human spaceflight exactly the way we do, as an exercise in technology.

        No, its a projection of geo-politics. If they wanted to simply do an exercise in technology, they’d do what Japan did in the ’60s with radios and TV sets. =eyeroll=

        • Hiram

          “If they wanted to simply do an exercise in technology, they’d do what Japan did in the ’60s with radios and TV sets.”

          But the reason for exercising technology is to assert capability. That is indeed geo-politics and, as I said, they see it exactly the same way that we do. We could have asserted our technology with radios and TV sets as well. But we didn’t. You seem to believe that only the U.S. has the right to assert technological capability.

          But that’s off-topic. This was a question about the long range view of asserting capability. Whether it was about intended domination or about intended equivalence. I think it’s the latter, and I still haven’t heard any evidence for the former, though I asked for it. It was different in the Cold War. That was when Krushchev pounded his shoe on the dais and said “We will bury you!” I haven’t heard that from the PRC.

  • “Regardless, China does’t have the capabilities to do any of the bad things you think they are getting ready to do, they don’t have the industry to support such an endeavor, nor so they have the money to devote to such a silly venture.”

    Its rather naive to believe that China won’t be able to pursue its long term goals in space ten, twenty, or thirty years from now. Their ruling party is dominated by scientist and engineers while our politicians are dominated by cynical lawyers, many who believe the world is less than 10,000 years old.

    China has high speed rail, we don’t. China is building dozens of nuclear reactors, we aren’t. China has a manned space program focused on establishing a base on the Moon while we have a grand mission to LEO. The first nation to establish an industrial colony on the Moon will dominate cis-lunar space and the satellite manufacturing and launch industry which is currently at the core of a $200 billion a year satellite based telecommunications industry. The Moon’s low gravity well gives it a huge advantage over any launch facilities on Earth. Its simple physics!

    Believing that America is simply ordained by God to economically dominate the world is just silly! America is best when its competing with other nations. And we’re going to have our hands full competing against the ruling oligarchy in China.

    Marcel

    • Hiram

      “Their ruling party is dominated by scientist and engineers while our politicians are dominated by cynical lawyers, many who believe the world is less than 10,000 years old.”

      Spot on. So who deserves to dominate cis-lunar space? Pretty sad, no? But only we can implant bibles with our flags and footprints.

      By the way, the Chinese do NOT have a manned space program that is “focused on establishing a base on the Moon.” They’ve never said anything like that, and have only mused about the possibility that they might even send a human there. Again, to the extent that such a base might seem important, I’ll ask for evidence of what otherwise comes across as simple paranoia. Ah, it’s what they DON’T say, right? Pretty crafty of them.

      “The Moon’s low gravity well gives it a huge advantage over any launch facilities on Earth. Its simple physics!”

      Very true, but that huge advantage depends on needing to sen a lot of stuff further in space. So far, we’ve never established that need. It’s simple policy and logic!

      • “It’s simple policy and logic!”

        You mean its simple been there done that Obama logic!

        Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress authorized NASA to return to the Moon. Obama is the one who stopped that!

        Marcel

        • Hiram

          “Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress authorized NASA to return to the Moon. Obama is the one who stopped that!”

          Democrats and Republicans authorized a goal. Constellation was the way that the U.S. was going to meet that goal. What Congress’ authorizers didn’t realize (these Auth bills are done every three years, by the way), is that Constellation had worked itself into fiscally a non-implementable position. What Obama stopped (in February 2010) was a fiscally unimplementable program that was last authorized in FY07. I think Congress largely breathed a sigh of relief, and their support for Constellation in succeeding authorization (e.g. FY10) and appropriations bills disappeared.

          Simple policy and logic. Of course, with regard to NASA budget overruns, “been there done that” is a fair characterization.

          • adastramike

            It’s unfortunate, in my view, what happened with the Moon program in 2010. Yes, Congress didn’t vote to keep the Moon element, because they believed the Augustine Commission’s assessment of the cost of Constellation. They voted to keep only the heavy lift and Orion portions. But now that China proved they can land something on the Moon, and have ever more advanced lunar projects in mind, some of these Congressmen are beginning to take notice.

            At the very least, some in Congress now appear to be concerned about the technology now available to China and how they developed/acquired it, and what impact that has on the U.S. space program, if any. I think that is prudent. You might think of these Congressmen as unproductive or incompetent, or defenders, depending on your politics, but that is irrelevant in the big picture. The fact is they have the leadership positions and control of the purse strings, as well as inside knowledge. Several (the ones on key committees) desire a return to the Moon in the near term instead of the asteroid mission, even if some merely oppose the President’s idea. The President thinks the previous NASA plan to return to the Moon was passe (really I think he opposed the program because it was Republican and would leave a legacy for George W. Bush on his watch, but that again is just my opinion).

            Since some of the Congressmen speaking out are Republican, and they haven’t been all too friendly, I think that the White House will respond with either:
            a) ignoring the request for a WH conference on developing a plan to have NASA lead a return to the Moon, with the hope that the Congressional concern would simply die down and go away. OR,
            b) issue a statement that the President has already directed NASA’s human exploration program and that Congress should follow that with sufficient funding.

            Either way, I think the rest of Congress would likely stand stalwart against or indifferent to the asteroid retrieval mission and it would make little progress. I doubt this will result in any kind of showdown or veto, and that either one side will buckle or no mission plan would result. This latter possibility I think would be devastating to NASA’s HSF program — since we would be developing systems without a mission in mind. I’m hoping a plan of some kind that both sides agree on develops, and I’m hoping it involves renewed NASA surface exploration of the Moon, with an international component, if not with humans as yet then at least with rovers and landers at the lunar poles. If not that, then a commitment to a human LANDING on Mars by a certain date, not just visiting Mars’ moons.

            • Coastal Ron

              adastramike said:

              But now that China proved they can land something on the Moon, and have ever more advanced lunar projects in mind, some of these Congressmen are beginning to take notice.

              Irrational behavior by elected officials is nothing new.

              And since those few that notice or care about space related stuff have failed to convince the rest of Congress to add any money to NASA, nothing is going to happen.

              Either way, I think the rest of Congress would likely stand stalwart against or indifferent to the asteroid retrieval mission and it would make little progress.

              Indifferent, since Congress is in no mood to add any money to NASA for whatever reason. And since the asteroid retrieval mission (ARM) was only proposed to provide a use for the SLS and MPCV, that is bad news for SLS supporters.

              This latter possibility I think would be devastating to NASA’s HSF program — since we would be developing systems without a mission in mind.

              We’re not really developing any systems for exploration. Obama had proposed to develop some of the systems we’ll need in his FY11 budget proposal, but a small cadre in Congress decided that they would rather have an unneeded rocket.

              Right now only the ISS is providing the only measurable progress we’re making in getting ready to leave LEO, and many want to end even that progress.

              You know, we can’t just piecemeal a bunch of stuff and pretend that we’re ready to spend a couple of years beyond LEO. Many technologies and techniques need to be developed in concert with each other so that we’re not spending too much too early or too little too late. Congress pushing what they think is needed is the wrong approach, and until they listen to the science community we’re not going anywhere.

              That’s just the way it is.

            • Hiram

              “The President thinks the previous NASA plan to return to the Moon was passe (really I think he opposed the program because it was Republican and would leave a legacy for George W. Bush on his watch, but that again is just my opinion).”

              Interesting thought, that cancellation of Constellation was to deny Bush a legacy. It would seem that the legacy that was denied was an unimplementable program. Obama actually did the legacy of George W. Bush a big favor. Given the budget constraints, and the unaffordability of Constellation, there would be a lot of finger pointing right now, and those fingers would point back to W.

    • @Marcel F. Williams,….I fully agree with you! America is a nation that badly needs competition in a technological arena, for it to do amazing things. Spaceflight is but the most glaring case in point. If China wastes & squanders its time, re-creating the ISS, to the same exact extent, America will NEVER break free from LEO! All the anti-Moon people out there, never quite catch the fact that LEO stations themselves are very passe, and all the stupidity of their “been there, done that” attitude, can apply to the ISS & LEO space taxis as well!!

    • Coastal Ron

      Marcel F. Williams said:

      China has high speed rail, we don’t.

      Yes, they have a maglev system that goes to the wrong place and is bereft of riders. And you take that as a sign of good somehow?

      China is building dozens of nuclear reactors, we aren’t.

      We’ve had a power grid sized to our needs for decades, the Chinese haven’t. And they also have to do something about the killer smog they have, otherwise they won’t have anyone to use the power they are producing…

      China has a manned space program focused on establishing a base on the Moon while we have a grand mission to LEO.

      No they don’t, they have only said they are studying going to the Moon. And even if they did go to the Moon with a few people, or even hundreds, it wouldn’t mean anything. There is nothing we need on the Moon today. Nothing.

      The Moon’s low gravity well gives it a huge advantage over any launch facilities on Earth. Its simple physics!

      The physics are simple, but the laws of economics don’t get repealed just because you leave the Earth – there is nothing to launch from the Moon that we need. Nothing.

      Now I know you have proposed building satellites on the Moon for launch to GTO, but that is just plain ridiculous. And I say that as someone that has spent decades in the manufacturing world, including electronic systems and sub-systems.

    • “Its rather naive to believe that China won’t be able to pursue its long term goals in space ten, twenty, or thirty years from now.

      It’s equally naive to think that the space capability of the US, Europe, Russia, etc. will look the same over that period as they do today. The only question is in which ways they evolve…

    • “The Moon’s low gravity well gives it a huge advantage over any launch facilities on Earth. Its simple physics!

      That may be…if you’re already on the Moon. There’s still the small matter of getting there.

      Besides, the only local rocket fuel resources there seem to be hydrogen (from the polar ice, in still not-quite-certain amounts) and oxygen. (available from that, or in virtually unlimited quantities in the regolith, if you want to go to the trouble of extracting it). Earth, however, has virtually unlimited water (yes, I know we still tend to get H2 from methane), plus large reserves of mostly fossil-fuel derived fuel possibilities. So despite all the hand-wringing about the ‘deep gravity well’ we live in, it also happens that fuel resources down here are plentiful and cheap. ISRU makes the most sense at your destination (which may be the Moon.), though a case could be made for sending Lunar-derived LOX back to LEO and/or the Lagrange points (electromagnetic launcher?) for spacecraft going elsewhere.

      Those departure points are where your ‘huge advantage’ is. Not down in another gravity well, no matter how much shallower.

  • We’ve had one study after another, one conference after another.

    Lots of big dreamy ideas.

    But never a word about how to pay for it.

    • End the $3 billion a year ISS program and NASA would have plenty of money to develop a lunar lander.

      Charlie Bolden said the cost of developing a new manned lunar lander would cost between $8 to $10 billion. SpaceWorks estimates the cost of developing various types of lunar landers at between $7 to $8 billion. Even developing the rather expensive Altair lunar lander was estimated by the CSIS at around $12 billion. All of these systems could be easily funded for less than four years of ISS funding. But less than $1.5 billion a year would be all you probably need for 7 years of lunar lander development cost.

      So its really not a question of money. Its a question of priorities. And Obama’s priority is– not to go to the Moon! He’s made that pretty clear already!

      Marcel

      • Andrew Swallow

        With the timescales needed to get project approval through NASA bureaucracy and approval from Congress the appropriate question is what does the president after Obama want?

        • Congress could impose the development of a lunar lander on the President the same way they imposed the SLS on him. And they may be concerned enough about China’s ambitions on the Moon to do that!

          Of course, the President tried everything possible to undermine and to slow down the SLS program (angering both Democrats and Republicans in Congress) but it still looks like NASA is going to have an operational heavy lift vehicle by at least by 2018.

          Marcel

          • Coastal Ron

            Marcel F. Williams said:

            Congress could impose the development of a lunar lander on the President the same way they imposed the SLS on him.

            Yes, and they could have done it at the same time they mandated that NASA build the SLS. But they didn’t…

            Why didn’t they? Because Congress as a whole doesn’t care about the Moon, nor do they care about spending gobs and gobs of taxpayer money on some thing that they just voted to cancel (i.e. Constellation).

            The only reason they mandated that NASA build the SLS was jobs, and the Senators that pushed for the SLS even stated that. We’ll need a better reason than “jobs” to justify the cost of returning to the Moon.

            • DCSCA

              We’ll need a better reason than “jobs” to justify the cost of returning to the Moon.

              =yawn= We have one.

              The rationale for HSF by the United States government in the 21st century was made in the 20th century by President Kennedy. It is as valid today as it was in the 60′s:“We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.”

              HSF is an instrument of politics; a means of projecting national policy– it’s political science, not rocket science that fuels it.

              Human spaceflight in this era projects geo-political influence, economic vigor and technical prowess, around the globe for the nation(s) that choose to do it. And it plays out on a stage with high visibility that demands performance with engineering excellence from all the actors. The bounties from which are all reaped by the participating nation(s) on Earth. That’s why government’s do it. That’s why there’s an ISS. That’s why Red China has orbited crews, has a space station in work space and sent a soft lander and a rover to the moon, successfully, on the forst try, Comrade.

              It is space projects of scale that matter. Which is why, in the long run, short-sighted forays by deep-pocketed NewSpace hobbyists do not.

              HSF is, in effect, a loss leader in this era for projecting national power and nurturing a perception of leadership. And in politics, perception is a reality. Which makes a drive to establishing a permanent foothold on Luna, seen around the world by all peoples in their evening skies, all the more imperative for the United States in this century.

              Commercial is welcome to come along for the ride– to supplement and service an exploration/exploitation outpost on Luna, established by governent(s). But they’ll never lead the way in establishing such a facility on their own The largess of the capital requirements involved coupled w/t low to no ROI prevents it; the very parameters of the market it is trying to create and service. That’s why governments do it. That’s why SLLS/MPCV is a geopolitical strategy. And that’s why it wil ltake leadership from the top down to press on… look to HRC. She has a personal interest in spaceflight. Mr. Obama does not.

              • Coastal Ron

                I said:

                We’ll need a better reason than “jobs” to justify the cost of returning to the Moon.

                Then DCSCA whined:

                We have one.” Then proceeds to post spam he has never bothered to defend.

                Look here Moon-boi, the subject I was talking about was returning to the Moon, not HSF in general. In fact, if anything the current goal of HSF is Mars, NOT the Moon, so you are just plain confused.

                If private companies want to exploit the heavens, including our Moon, then NASA will be glad to ride a long just like they plan to do with the Google Lunar X Prize. But with all the pork barrel projects Congress is saddling NASA with, NASA has no money to go back to the Moon. None.

                As to your obsession with a certain female politician, all I can say is be careful what you put your hopes on… ;-)

              • Vladislaw

                LOL .. ya we have one … okay .. take your Liberal Democrat quote, of John Kennedy to the republican house and say .. see see here is the reason you have to start spending boatloads of money .. the democrats think so ..

                LOLOLOLOL

                man you are a riot.

        • @Andrew Swallow,….Indeed: just what will the next president want, in terms of human spaceflight?? I personally believe that the United States will make NO actual progress until the other political party can reclaim the Presidency. Trust me: another Clinton administration entering in 2017 will merely continue the Low Earth Orbit stagnation that prevails today! The adherents of a nanny state have zero, zilch, nada interest in pioneering the space frontier. The current man in the White House couldn’t care less, if NASA was stranded in LEO for another twenty years. This past week makes it look really strong, that the next spacemen to go Moonward, will be Chinese!

          • Coastal Ron

            Chris Castro said:

            I personally believe that the United States will make NO actual progress until the other political party can reclaim the Presidency.

            You think Rand Paul is going to expand NASA? Or Ted Cruz? I don’t think you know as much about the Republican party as you think you do.

            Trust me: another Clinton administration entering in 2017 will merely continue the Low Earth Orbit stagnation that prevails today!

            Careful, HRC is DCSCA’s obsession these days – you’re going to hurt some feelings by saying that… ;-)

            • @Coastal Ron,…..Yes, I do NOT trust HRC, if she wins, to improving the lot of our space program. NASA will continue to stagnate & go nowhere, because another Clinton presidency would be centered plainly on escalating the welfare-nanny state, and disposing of things like manned spaceflight that seem meaningless towards that communist-lite ideology & end. The intellectual elite has NO place reserved for it, in that world. The best hope for America doing anything truly great in space, in the future, is resting squarely in the improved electoral fortunes of the Republicans.

              • Coastal Ron

                Chris Castro said:

                Yes, I do NOT trust HRC, if she wins, to improving the lot of our space program. NASA will continue to stagnate & go nowhere…

                I have no opinion about HRC regarding NASA, but DCSCA is infatuated with her and thinks she is going to send NASA back to the Moon.

                I’ll let you two discuss this between yourselves…

            • Hiram

              “You think Rand Paul is going to expand NASA? Or Ted Cruz? I don’t think you know as much about the Republican party as you think you do.”

              I think he’s talking about Newt Gingrich, whose legislative legacy is a total embarrassment.

              • @Hiram,….I think that the sheer change in Presidents, political parties & the top leadership will be enough to move NASA into another, much better direction. Having the Low Earth Orbit President replaced by another Democrat, particularly Hillary Clinton, isn’t going to do diddly-squat for NASA and its fortunes! The commercial space game plan is a sham! Depending on commercial entities to deliver a manned American presence beyond LEO is a sham! If Ms. Clinton manages to directly succeed Barack, then our space program is completely doomed!

              • Coastal Ron

                Chris Castro said:

                Having the Low Earth Orbit President replaced by another Democrat, particularly Hillary Clinton, isn’t going to do diddly-squat for NASA and its fortunes!

                Considering the Republican House has been steadily cutting NASA’s budget, why in the world would you think a Republican President would do any different?

                Who are the potential Republican Presidential candidates that you think would go out of their way to boost NASA’s budget? Name names!

      • Malmesbury

        Because Congress probably realizes that $10 billion would be spent on a lander. But the lander might not actually be any good at landing. Or would turn out to need $20 billion. So yo would have *really* closed down HSF for some bits and pieces you could park next to the X-34

        The pork quota is filled by developing SLS/Orion. Actually using it for something would involve stealing pork from other deserving politicians. Which would be very, very rude.

      • Robert G. Oler

        3 billion would not make any difference…see SLS and Orion grinding on to nowhere RGO

    • DCSCA

      “We’ve had one study after another, one conference after another. Lots of big dreamy ideas. But never a word about how to pay for it.” notes Stephen.

      It’s really not a matter of financing it but rather a matter of setting priorities. Bear in mind, the U.S. has been blowing $2 billion/week in Afghanistan for over a decade. A year’s woth odf wasted expenditures on thjat would getthe United States well on the way to a permanent lunar facility00 something the PRC has made no secret of intending to establish- as NBC News recently again reported.

      • @DCSCA,….Very good point! The sheer amounts of trillions of dollars that the federal government pours away into other national issues, like the Afganistan War, routinely, each an every week & month, really has gotta give pause to the space-interest community. Particularly when you hear the ludicrous argument coming from the New Space people about how the nation just “cannot afford to build an expensive lander” right now! A mere lander craft?! Are you kidding me?! All China now has to do, is figure out how to upgrade to greater rocket power, some variant of the Chang’e, and place a lunar cabin on top of it! Voila! They’d be able to soft-land both heavy cargo AND a lunar crew. Gentlemen, do take note, that we are currently under the light of a Red Chinese Moon.

      • Hiram

        Yep, so much for us not wanting to dominate heavens and Earth. $2B/week in Afghanistan paints a pretty clear picture of that.

        As to the unaffordability of a lunar lander, the issue isn’t whether there are dollars, the issue is whether it’s worth the expense to do it again. The case that it’s worth the expense for us to do it again has never been clearly made. But it may well be worth the expense to the Chinese to be able to say, yes, we can do that too. So we’re talking about different things.

        The Chinese are also talking about putting a fifth station in Antarctica. Clearly, they must have the intention to dominate that continent, no? Horrors! We’re looking at Red Ice! My goodness, we should be plowing a lot more money into our Antarctica bases. The money we might spend on a lunar lander would make for an absolutely palatial base there. I don’t know WHY we would do it, except to show up the Chinese and score geo-political points.

        • There is one major difference, my friend, between Luna & the Antarctic: America has a current presence in Antarctica!! Can you even envision an alternate world, in which China & a horde of other nations had currently functioning bases on the Antarctic continent, while we, the United States would just be resting on some half-century-ago laurels of Robert E. Byrd & George Dufek in the 1950′s——and had zero, zilch, nada in the way of a station presence there?! THAT would be a powerful indication that we are NO longer the big exploring nation that we used to be!!

          • Robert G. Oler

            I dont think most Americans would care…we have bases in anartica and none on th eMoon because of the price point to keep them there….when bases are cheap that they do absolutely nothing that pays the bills is OK RGO

          • Hiram

            “There is one major difference, my friend, between Luna & the Antarctic: America has a current presence in Antarctica!!”

            Uh, we have zero presence at Dome A, which is the highest, coldest point on the Antarctic peninsula. Far from any other installation. Profoundly isolated. Gosh, I guess we’re just wimps compared with them, right? Alternate world, here we are. There are plenty of places of Earth where China is an we aren’t. We rest on laurels everywhere.

  • Andrew Swallow

    Project Morpheus has an early prototype of a small cargo lunar lander. If the USA wanted this could be upgraded from an Earth only system to a full radiation hard lander fairly cheaply. It can be launched on medium sized launch vehicles like the Atlas 5.

    • @Andrew Swallow,….THEN WHY DON’T THEY DO IT?! Just take a look at the Moonlight, tonight! We are currently under the light of a Communist Moon! America has abdicated all its former power in deep space, and Red China fully recognizes this. The “Jade Rabbit” has landed!!! The last time America had a lander vehicle there, crewed or uncrewed, the “Challenger”, was 41 years ago, to this month!!

      • Andrew Swallow

        No one has asked Congress for the money. Nor have they explained to the American people how this new space race would benefit both them and the country.

        • It could easily be done if NASA had the same budget that Obama had when he first came into office. Congress cut the budget because they weren’t in the mood to spend a lot of money on a– mission to nowhere!

          1. An outpost on the Moon could expand commercial space tourism all the way to the lunar surface since reusable vehicles fueled with lunar hydrogen and oxygen could operate from LEO to the lunar surface.(cheaper to launch fuel from the lunar surface into Earth orbit than from the surface of the Earth).

          2. Lunar fuel for OTVs could reduce the cost of placing satellites into Geosynchronous and GPS orbits.

          3. Lunar fuel could be used for reusable interplanetary transfer vehicles capable of transporting over 300 tonnes of payload to high Mars orbit making radiation shielded manned flights to Mars pretty easy

          4. Lunar fuel could be used to transport zombie satellites in GPS and Geosynchronous orbits to space stations located at the Earth-Moon Langrage points for repair and redeployment

          5. Solar and nuclear power plants on the lunar surface could beam clean energy back to Earth for electricity and synfuel production

          6. Lunar thorium enriched up to 1% with uranium 233 from the spent fuel of lunar nuclear power plants could provide electric power for Thorium reactors on Earth without environmentalist complaining about Thorium mining on Earth

          7. Growing crops on the Moon under artificial conditions will probably revolutionize indoor crop production on Earth, a technology that the US is currently well behind other nations in.

          8. Of course, once there is a self sustaining industrial colony on the Moon then practically all satellites will be manufactured and launched from the lunar surface.

          9. Our children could look up at the Moon and know that we are there while imagining and studying for their future in the New Frontier– instead of watching the Kardasians or Duck Dynasty:-)

          Marcel

          • Hiram

            “Congress cut the budget because they weren’t in the mood to spend a lot of money on a– mission to nowhere!”

            Wow. Where to start …

            Lunar fuel would be marvelous to have, but you’re going to have to transport a goodly piece of our aerospace industry up to the Moon to fabricate things you can launch from there. You think that 702 busses are going to make themselves on the lunar surface? That’s like saying that we should be making liquid crystal displays in Bolivia, because there are deposits of indium there.

            Beaming energy back from the Moon? That’s like shipping rocks back from the Moon. The energy opportunities on the Moon are not much different than on the Earth. Same sunlight.

            Learning about growing crops on the Moon will benefit the Earth? That’s a new one. If you took 0.01% of the money expended on such experiments and plowed it in to real biotechnology development efforts on the Earth, you’d do a lot better. By the same token, we should be researching brickmaking on the Moon. Learning how to compress regolith there will drive new brickmaking markets on the Earth.

            Let’s just hope our children can one day look up at the Moon and be able to convince themselves that what we’re doing up there is really worth doing there. Of course, to the extent we’re using video bandwidth on the Earth to share time with the Kardashians and the Duck team, our children aren’t necessarily able to convince themselves of that here.

            • “Lunar fuel would be marvelous to have, but you’re going to have to transport a goodly piece of our aerospace industry up to the Moon to fabricate things you can launch from there.”

              Well, we only have the rest of the 21st century in order for this to occur during the lifetime of our children. But I think satellite manufacturing and launching could be operational on the lunar surface by the 2040s or 2050s.

              But we’re never going to get to that point unless we set up the first tiny outpost on the lunar surface in the early 2020s.

              Growing crops on the lunar surface as cheaply and efficiently as possible will be essential for any self sustain colonies on the lunar surface. And, again, such technologies should greatly enhance such technologies also being used on the surface of the Earth that will be need to feed the billions that live on the Earth.

              Marcel

              • Coastal Ron

                Marcel F. Williams said:

                But I think satellite manufacturing and launching could be operational on the lunar surface by the 2040s or 2050s.

                You are under the misrepresentation that building satellites on the Moon somehow solves a massive problem we have. It doesn’t.

                The problem we have isn’t building satellites closer to their planned orbit of use. The cost of moving satellites from Earth to their planned orbit is magnitudes less expensive than setting up a satellite manufacturing industry on the Moon.

                It’s really odd that you want factory workers to move to a hostile environment with no parks or schools for their families, nor any semblance of normal life for them to enjoy. All because of your fake reason to do things on the Moon.

                Please drop this silly suggestion.

              • @Marcel F. Williams,….Very well said! SOME nation has just got to step up to the plate, and begin this long & involved—-but highly rewarding—-enterprise. I sure wish it would be the United States that begins this quest, for the 21st century. But if China is the nation that gets the ball rolling, I am totally at peace with it!
                Again, I cheer & congratulate China for the great technological demonstration of their capabilities, with the successful unmanned landing of the Chang’e 3 lunar craft, & the “Jade Rabbit” roving vehicle! If their engineers can magnify the rocket power & thrust capacity of such a lander, and emplace a lunar cabin on top of it, then voila!—-they will be at the point of soft-landing both spacemen & heavy cargo upon the Moon!
                By the way, the Moon will also have some great potential, as an in-space launching-off point, for possible nuclear engine rockets, for interplanetary expeditions, being far away enough from Earth.

              • Hiram

                “Well, we only have the rest of the 21st century in order for this to occur during the lifetime of our children. But I think satellite manufacturing and launching could be operational on the lunar surface by the 2040s or 2050s.”

                Whoah. So now we have a deadline by which to start launching satellites from the Moon? For the good of our children??

                “Growing crops on the lunar surface as cheaply and efficiently as possible will be essential for any self sustain colonies on the lunar surface. And, again, such technologies should greatly enhance such technologies also being used on the surface of the Earth that will be need to feed the billions that live on the Earth.”

                Complete BS. No botanist or agricultural expert will say that learning how to grow crops on the Moon will benefit our efforts to feed billions on Earth. In fact, for the amount of money expended in doing so, and not focusing on real terrestrial challenges, these experts would point out that such work would just distract from those efforts. It’s not about greatly enhancing technologies. It’s about doing the most good. Sure, lunar efforts will greatly enhance all kinds of technologies, like building better pencils and coffee cups. But if you want to build better pencils and coffee cups, lunar capabilities aren’t the right investment strategy.

                “By the way, the Moon will also have some great potential, as an in-space launching-off point, for possible nuclear engine rockets, for interplanetary expeditions, being far away enough from Earth.”

                Actually, as has been pointed out by many people, outposts in free-space Lagrange points, GEO, etc., are VASTLY better places to do construction (microgravity, comm, power) of the mega-ships that would reach beyond cis-lunar space. Starting an interplanetary expedition on the lunar surface is nuts. Using lunar resources to build such ships is a possibility, but for the same reason that automobiles aren’t launched from iron ore beds, those mega-ships aren’t likely to be launched from the Moon.

      • Malmesbury

        Because in order to do it, they would either need to -

        1) Spend 1 zillion dollars. 1 zillion is not available.
        2) Spend the money on a cheaper solution. This would imply that cheaper solutions are possible for other aerospace/military procurement situations. This would result in major loss of America’s Politician Funding capability – a catastrophe for the body politic. Well, the politics bit, anyway. Think of all those young, innocent lobbyists – if the market for trillion dollar systems that don’t work goes away, what will they be selling? Health insurance?

        2) is why sending money to Russia is better (to these people) than sending it to Orbital, SNC or SpaceX. The money sent to Russia might come back to them one day. Money spent on cheaper alternatives to those the politicians “friends” are selling won’t

      • Hiram

        “Just take a look at the Moonlight, tonight! We are currently under the light of a Communist Moon!”

        Freaking paranoia, with the usual ladle full of exclamation marks. Take your pills. By the way, it seems particularly appropriate to point out that the Moon is waning right now.

        As I keep saying, just take a look at Mars tonight. Yep, you’re looking at a FREE PLANET. It’s bigger than the Moon. Well, it is “red”, but there must be some white and blue there as well. There are flags all over the surface that are just red, white, and blue with fifty stars, and many more like that in orbit around the planet. Gosh, you’d think that the Chinese would be totally intimidated by that, and rushing to find funds to put their flag up there somewhere.

    • Malmesbury

      Building a cheap lander is a bad idea.

      If people get the idea that prices can decrease in aerospace/defense, they might start to expect that. If prices go down, so do profits (all hail cost plus!).

      This in turn means less money to donate to politicians re-election campaigns.

      • Andrew Swallow

        Price cuts reducing the money can be solved by simply buying twice as many rockets.

        Now how to reduce the price of the satellites so there is work for the launch vehicles?

  • I think it reasonable to believe that China wants to become the preeminent country in the world. They were that for a long time until their “century of humiliation”. Their large population is another natural reason for them to believe that their rightful place is as the most preeminent nation in the world.

    Whereas they are behind the US in space technology, they are seeking to catch up and then surpass the US just as they are seeking to do in military technology. However, their rise is entirely dependent upon maintaining good trade relations with the rest of the world. So, whereas they will occasionally conduct aggressive moves, they won’t do anything so aggressive as to jeopardize their international relationships to the point where their ability to sell in the world market is significantly harmed. So, don’t expect them to attack Taiwan and don’t expect them to claim the lunar poles at the exclusion of other countries. They have way more to lose than to gain by so doing.

    That being said, if they can peacefully surpass the US in space, they will do so. In my mind, the Chinese can easily do so by doing the US one better by not only sending people to the Moon but to do so permanently. By landing at the same location and building up a lunar base, it will have arguably established the first permanent off-Earth base. They could do this before the US does so if the US continues down its current path.

    If the US felt it urgent that it be the US who establishes the first permanent off-Earth base (the ISS doesn’t count because it is not obviously permanent) it could throw enough money and find ways of making it happen quickly. But clearly the Obama Administration has no interest in doing so.

    An alternate approach would be to make the next phase of public-private programs be to establish a cis-lunar transportation system by means of a permanent base (telerobotic first then manned later). This could be done in about 16 years and at about 5% of NASA’s budget and wouldn’t require the termination of the SLS or Orion programs.

    Dave Masten was interviewed on SpaceVidCast and he estimated that it would take about $200 million to modify ULA’s Centaur to be able to land on the Moon. It would be reusable in that it could go from the lunar surface to a depot at L1 again and again.

    So there are options to keep the US in the lead but only if a clear plan to do so is evident and if there is sufficient political will.

  • DCSCA

    Results of a poll released Thursday by Rasmussen

    Rasmussen is hardly a reliable polling organization and has a decidedly conservative taint– and as history has showen, conservatives rarely warm to big government space projects of scale.

    Whait significant ais the wiae nd logical refocusing of chatter and planning on a return to Luna, rather than half-baked forays to Mars by Man in this era. Man’s next stop in space will be a return to the moon. Whether this is an American led effort remains to be seen. 45 years ago this week, Apollo 8 was on its way to a Christmas orbit. Today, more than half thw world’s opulation can read about it in a paragraph in a history book. and look at the moon rising today and know there’s ctivity on the surface– by Communist China. Red Moon rising over Duck Dynasty America.

    • Hiram

      Today, more than half the world’s population can … look at the moon rising today and know there’s activity on it – by Communist China”

      They can also look at the Moon and know that there’s activity around it. Activity that is learning more about the Moon than anyone else knows — by the Democratic U.S. They can also look at Mars rising (well, setting, really) today and know that the U.S. has vastly more of a real presence there than anyone else. The U.S. has a history of presence at all the planets, and is building that history for dwarf planets as well.

      I don’t have to look at the Moon to see China rising, though. To the extent we’re concerned about global domination and exceptionalism, it’s pretty silly to focus on the Moon, which is what the Rasmussen poll is really pointing out.

    • Vladislaw

      and the chinese rovers can only look at the stars and stripes on Luna. those chinese rovers can look at american flags for the next 20 years and never see a chinese flag planted by chinese astronauts.

  • amightywind

    Expect domestic fear of China and Russia to continue to increase as their international provocations multiply. This is good news for those of us who support US domination of the moon.

    • Andrew Swallow

      Increasing fear frequently results in a demand that something be done. Make sure that a plan exists to deal with the problem.

      Any plan needs to produce initial results after a year, that is results the public can see and understand. Major results after about 5 years and a long term program to keep you in a job.

  • vulture4

    Te central obstacle to human spaceflight remains cost, and unless both the US and China focus on reducing cost to LEO there won’t be the resources needed for human flight to the moon and Mars or any BEO destination.

    Cooperation in space has the potential to be a catalyst of international understanding and stability between the superpowers. It remains senseless to exclude China from the ISS. If we give up the ISS we should at least offer to let China join the program and take up the slack so as not to waste our investment. China may not be a democracy yet but it is certainly not Communist.

    • China is much more like the New Germany of the early 1930s– except a lot smarter.

      There’s no need for China’s ruling oligarchy to militarily conquer the world and beyond– when they can simply own it! And own us!

      And China’s Communist Party is probably astonished at how truly prophetic the communist quote, usually attributed to Vladimir Lenin, really is:

      “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”

      • Coastal Ron

        Marcel F. Williams said:

        There’s no need for China’s ruling oligarchy to militarily conquer the world and beyond– when they can simply own it!

        The Chinese government is scared of the vast middle class that has been created by adopting capitalism, and they know they can’t control a population of over 1.3B unhappy people without destroying their economy and all the progress that their country has made.

        On the other hand, the Chinese people could probably care less what their government calls themselves as long as they are letting people improve their lives through commerce. Once the government starts getting in the way of the Chinese people’s lives, the government is going to have a big internal problem that they’ll have to focus on. All things outside of China will be secondary, including their fun little forays into space.

  • seamus

    It’s a damn shame that humans haven’t established the permanent base on the Moon which was supposed to come after the Apollo missions. We’ve wasted 40 years during which we could have been learning how to live and work on another planetary surface that’s conveniently right in our back yard. It should be obvious that the experience and technology developed for lunar bases is absolutely vital to putting human boots on Mars.

    International cooperation is vital as well. Not small-minded nationalism.

    Moon? Mars? Asteroid? Artificial gravity space station and fuel depot at L1? All of the above, of course. Any other approach is just half-assed messing around. The overarching goal of human spaceflight is colonization of the solar system, isn’t it? If not, what is it then?

    • Robert G. Oler

      I give up…when there are places on Earth that are far easier to colonize and have a far greater chance of being self supporting…tell me again why we should rush to colonize Mars? RGO

      • adastramike

        Hiram wrote:”By the way, the Chinese do NOT have a manned space program that is “focused on establishing a base on the Moon.” They’ve never said anything like that, and have only mused about the possibility that they might even send a human there. Again, to the extent that such a base might seem important, I’ll ask for evidence of what otherwise comes across as simple paranoia. Ah, it’s what they DON’T say, right? Pretty crafty of them.”

        And how do you know actually know that China doesn’t want to establish a base on the Moon? It seems there are inklings that China does have larger goals for the Moon.

        http://www.nation.com.pk/snippets/06-Dec-2013/china-to-set-up-missile-base-on-moon-by-2050

        • Coastal Ron

          adastramike said:

          And how do you know actually know that China doesn’t want to establish a base on the Moon? It seems there are inklings that China does have larger goals for the Moon.

          Wow, must be hard being a paranoid all the time… ;-)

          Look, the time for dropping atomic bombs on each other has passed. Nations that we are fully engaged with economically won’t do it because their economies will collapse and their citizens will be so pissed off that they will hunt down and kill the stupid bastards that ruined their lives. It’s that simple.

          And while someone could put bombs on the Moon to lob at the Earth, it would take a long time for them to get here, negating any surprise. It’s easier to just use a rocket here on Earth to get the package anywhere else on Earth in less than 30 minutes. Plus leaders can keep tighter control of their nuclear stockpile here on Earth, whereas they have to cede control to people they have no direct control over if they are on the Moon.

          You really need to think these issues through before you get so worked up.

          • I agree that China putting a missile base on the Moon would be a foolish thing to do, but that, bizarrely, is indeed what Chinese space representatives have suggested might be “possible”:

            http://www.infowars.com/chinese-state-media-brags-of-plan-to-establish-death-star-moon-base/

            Bob Clark

          • adastramike

            “Look, the time for dropping atomic bombs on each other has passed. Nations that we are fully engaged with economically won’t do it because their economies will collapse and their citizens will be so pissed off that they will hunt down and kill the stupid bastards that ruined their lives. It’s that simple.”

            You could be right that no nation will ever drop another atomic bomb on another nation. But do you KNOW that? Can you see the future? But don’t fool yourselves that some rogue nation couldn’t threaten the world with nuclear bombs if they were insane enough. Ever heard of history repeating itself? And I’m not worried right now about nuclear war. I don’t live in the 1960s. I share some Congressmen’s concerns about non-democracies advancing their space technologies and the U.S. not taking sufficient notice and planning activities to stay the leaders in multiple fronts.

            • Coastal Ron

              adastramike said:

              You could be right that no nation will ever drop another atomic bomb on another nation. But do you KNOW that? Can you see the future?

              Neither of us can see the future – you the one that lives in fear of China, and the one I see where I’m not living in fear of China.

              But I think I can judge what motivates people to drop bombs, and I see no such motivation on the part of China. None. Why would they bomb their largest economic trading partner? What do they have to gain?

              But don’t fool yourselves that some rogue nation couldn’t threaten the world with nuclear bombs if they were insane enough.

              The subject is China and space, not rogue nations that have no plans for space. Try to stick to the subject.

              I share some Congressmen’s concerns about non-democracies advancing their space technologies and the U.S. not taking sufficient notice and planning activities to stay the leaders in multiple fronts.

              Please tell us where the U.S. has fallen behind? Specific examples.

              • adastramike

                “Neither of us can see the future – you the one that lives in fear of China, and the one I see where I’m not living in fear of China.

                But I think I can judge what motivates people to drop bombs, and I see no such motivation on the part of China. None. Why would they bomb their largest economic trading partner? What do they have to gain?”

                Well I don’t live in fear of China, hardly. And I don’t think they want to loft nuclear bombs at us or have any reason to right now. I never claimed that. But I do think they have ambitions in space and are advancing their space technology in a noticeable way, the latest evidence being the Chang’e 3 lunar lander and rover. And I do think they have more ambitions on the Moon, particularly landing people there. I think it’s foolish for the U.S. to not take notice and somehow respond with something bolder. Not one-upmanship but action to maintain leadership.

                “Please tell us where the U.S. has fallen behind? Specific examples”

                It’s no secret that many people think the U.S. may be falling behind in science and technology. That doesn’t mean it is yet behind, but beginning to fall behind, to slow down in progress and maintaining leadership.

                According to Albert Carnesale, chairman of a report on NASA’s long-term strategy:

                “If the United States is to continue to maintain international leadership in space, it must have a steady, bold, scientifically justifiable space program in which other countries want to participate, and, moreover, it must behave as a reliable partner. Despite decades of U.S. leadership and technical accomplishment, many of these elements are missing today.”

                http://articles.latimes.com/2012/dec/06/science/la-sci-nasa-goals-20121206

                According to one poll, half of Americans think the U.S. is beginning to fall behind in space exploration:

                http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/17/space-poll-americans-losing-leadership-in-space_n_4283598.html

                “Please tell us where the U.S. has fallen behind? Specific examples.”

                I don’t believe the U.S. is yet behind. But it is in danger of happening in the future if we let it. For example, Chang’e 3:

                Does the U.S. currently have even a robotic lunar lander capability? No. Could we if we tried? Yes. How did the Chinese safely and successfully land on the Moon after the 1st try? The Chinese rover rolled off the lander only a few hours after landing.

                According to Leroy Chiao, a former NASA astronaut, who ironically was on the Augustine Commission that judged problems with Constellation, the U.S. is in danger of having other nations look to China in space cooperation:

                “Many of the United States’ ISS partners (at least eight space agencies have talked to the Chinese about partnering and cooperation) are finding a more attractive alternative with China, or at least hedging their bets.”

                http://www.space.com/23206-is-the-us-passing-the-spaceflight-baton-to-china.html

                http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/dec/20/china-jade-rabbit-rover-space-politics

                In 2012, China conducted more launches (19) than the U.S. (13).

                http://gbtimes.com/opinion/wolf-howls-moon-over-china-landing

                And some claim that China is still behind and we are still ahead. But many analysts are beginning to think China is rapidly increasing it’s space technology with loftier goals in mind and that we are in danger of falling behind.

                http://www.nbcnews.com/science/china-started-late-could-zoom-ahead-lead-space-race-8C11005891

              • Hiram

                “Does the U.S. currently have even a robotic lunar lander capability? No.”

                Geez, you guys just TOTALLY ignore the advanced robotic lander capability and history we have for the planet Mars. Mars is far, far harder than the Moon. How does our history for Mars rovers even come close to suggesting that we would not be capable of doing an advanced rover on the Moon? The reason we don’t have an advanced rover on the Moon is that, right now, the most important science questions don’t need one. So the U.S. doesn’t currently have that capability because at least the science community doesn’t currently want it. The U.S. isn’t coming close to “falling behind” in rover technology. (Almost) everybody knows that, including the Chinese. By the same token, we’re “falling behind” for not building Soyuz’s, which we sure don’t want to build.

                It is a bit hilarious how fears about us falling behind in rover technology completely ignores our profound successes on Mars. I guess the lunatics have narrower blinders on than I thought they did. They can’t see outside of cis-lunar space, I guess.

                Uh, why shouldn’t China have “loftier goals in mind”? Please don’t set up an international competition where we don’t need it to be. The Apollo generation is desperate to reconstitute a Cold War that would be played out in outer space. In fact, Carnesale’s point is exactly right. We need reliable international partners, and the lofty goal that the Chinese want to prove is that they can be one. That our partner space agencies can see this and we can’t is really embarrassing.

              • Coastal Ron

                adastramike said:

                But I do think they have ambitions in space and are advancing their space technology in a noticeable way, the latest evidence being the Chang’e 3 lunar lander and rover.

                We already knew that China had rockets that worked, and that they knew how to build satellites. Why is it so hard to believe that they could marry the two disciplines and create a rover that they could land on the Moon?

                And I do think they have more ambitions on the Moon, particularly landing people there.

                So what? How many people do they need to land there before you start getting concerned, and why?

                Let’s say they land 1,000 people there – how does that change anything?

                I think it’s foolish for the U.S. to not take notice and somehow respond with something bolder.

                We already are, but apparently you are unaware of what we’re doing.

                Does the U.S. currently have even a robotic lunar lander capability? No. Could we if we tried? Yes.

                Let me ask you this – does China currently have a robotic lander for Mars? And what’s harder, landing a 1-ton robotic lander on the Moon or on Mars?

                the U.S. is in danger of having other nations look to China in space cooperation

                In danger? Odd way of putting it. Gee, maybe we should start threatening our ISS partners?

                Or, and this is just an idea, since we are already such close economic partners, maybe we should partner up with China on space too? Why not?

                In 2012, China conducted more launches (19) than the U.S. (13).

                And do you know why? Because ULA has a monopoly on certain types of government payloads, and in order for them to keep their prices high no commercial satellite companies are willing to pay the stupidly high launch prices they demand. That is why SpaceX is so important to bringing commercial launch business back to the U.S.

                Something else to remember, is that China does not need to make a profit on launches, since it is essentially a government-owned operation. Some companies don’t mind that, but many do. That is why the over-priced Ariane 5 still stays busy. But that’s even more reason to encourage real competition here at home, which will take care of the problem of U.S. competitiveness in the launch market.

        • Hiram

          “I agree that China putting a missile base on the Moon would be a foolish thing to do, but that, bizarrely, is indeed what Chinese space representatives have suggested might be “possible””

          Ah, one “expert” from the China National Space Administration’s Lunar Exploration Programme Centre told a Chinese newspaper that the moon could be used as a military base from which to fire missiles at the Earth.

          This “expert” was in no way, shape or form a “Chinese space representative”. Don’t make stuff up.

          I’m sure I can find NASA employees, who fancy themselves as “experts”, who would say the same thing about the U.S. In fact, there are unfortunately plenty of crazies wearing NASA badges. Fortunately, they don’t speak for the nation.

          Sure, it’s possible. It’s also possible to send a symphony orchestra to the Moon, and a giant fish tank.

          • adastramike

            Hiram wrote: “Ah, one “expert” from the China National Space Administration’s Lunar Exploration Programme Centre told a Chinese newspaper that the moon could be used as a military base from which to fire missiles at the Earth. This “expert” was in no way, shape or form a “Chinese space representative”. Don’t make stuff up”

            How do you know that this Chinese engineer or scientist was or was not a representative of China’s space program? I doubt you have inside knowledge either way. On the other hand, why would a Chinese scientist speak outside the official channels to a Chinese newspaper, unless the whole thing was somehow semi-official, or that scientist was leaking information? I find that somewhat surprising, that such a person would essentially be speaking for themselves, unless some element of what they were saying was true. China’s space program and its engineers/scientists are not the same as NASA’s program and its scientists. You are drawing parallels that do not really compare, in terms of comparing Chinese space scientists to NASA space scientists and their speaking of their respective agencies plans.

            Why use the Moon as a missile base? I don’t know what practical advantage it has, other than potentially scaring others on Earth. Agreed that missiles are more quickly launched from Earth’s surface to another location on Earth’s surface. However, and I don’t know if anyone has done such a study, even if launching a missile from the Moon to Earth would take several days (using conventional chemical rockets on a conventional trajectory), is there some tactical advantage to that capability that would be outside the U.S. or any other developed country’s ability to target with an anti-ballistic missile? Does the U.S. have the ability to track such a target (a missile from the Moon) from the ground with sufficient accuracy to destroy it, in the somehow incredible event that the Chinese government did truly have plans to develop some type of robotic missile base there? Something we should worry about now? The only people who know that would be those with inside knowledge in the U.S. government. I suppose if and how the WH responds to Congress’s requests regarding a U.S. return to the Moon will be informative.

            • Hiram

              “How do you know that this Chinese engineer or scientist was or was not a representative of China’s space program?”

              How do you know that they are? Sheesh. I doubt you have inside knowledge either way. My point is that you and I DON’T know. Basing arguments on what we don’t know is MAKING STUFF UP.

              “On the other hand, why would a Chinese scientist speak outside the official channels to a Chinese newspaper, unless the whole thing was somehow semi-official, or that scientist was leaking information?”

              Because they felt like it. I can point to many examples of U.S. science community members who speak outside of official channels to the news media.

      • Neil Shipley

        Yep, agreed. Most of those who wish to colonise Mars are already working on it at SpaceX :)

    • amightywind

      International cooperation is vital as well. Not small-minded nationalism.

      Why? We didn’t need it for Apollo. What has it got us on ISS? Teh $100 billion we spent only bought time for an incorrigible Russian dictatorship to reconstitute and thwart our efforts across the globe.

    • Hiram

      “It’s a damn shame that humans haven’t established the permanent base on the Moon which was supposed to come after the Apollo missions.”

      Supposed to come after? Who’s supposition was that? JFK certainly never supposed that, and I doubt if LBJ did either. Congress never supposed that. The media may have supposed it, but the media will suppose just about anything that sells newspapers. Lunatics supposed it because, well, they’re lunatics. NASA probably supposed it because it was, in their mind, some sort of legacy.

      But I’m curious. What in fact were the real plans (as in, authorized) for what would happen on the Moon after Apollo?

      • Some recent articles about the NASA plans to set up lunar bases as a follow on to Apollo if funding had been maintained at Apollo levels:

        Just another Apollo? Part two.
        by Daniel Handlin
        Monday, November 28, 2005
        In mid-1969, as the Apollo missions were reaching their climax, NASA managers began to plan for the next phase of lunar exploration. This optimistic plan, issued by the Space Task Group, would have had NASA’s funding stay at Apollo levels, and, in a series of steps that followed Apollo, would have seen NASA develop such elements as a lunar orbit station in 1978, a lunar surface base in 1980, and a manned mission to Mars in 1981 or 1983. President Nixon rejected the ambitious Space Task Group plan, choosing instead to develop the infamous, loved and hated space shuttle.
        http://www.thespacereview.com/article/507/1

        The Proper Course for Lunar Exploration (1965)
        BY DAVID S. F. PORTREE 01.17.1311:43 PM
        http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/01/the-proper-course-for-lunar-exploration-1965/

        Bob Clark

        • Coastal Ron

          Robert Clark said:

          Some recent articles about the NASA plans to set up lunar bases as a follow on to Apollo if funding had been maintained at Apollo levels

          You know this is completely meaningless, right?

          “NASA” doesn’t get a say in what it does, only the President and Congress do.

          Showing off random papers from NASA employees does not show anything more than that NASA has hired lots of people that would like NASA to go back to the Moon. Duh!

          • This was in response to the statement NASA never had any plans for a manned base of the Moon. NASA had such plans during the Apollo era. However, the funding was not there.

            Bob Clark

            • Coastal Ron

              Robert Clark said:

              This was in response to the statement NASA never had any plans for a manned base of the Moon.

              Well we know they had enough interest to write some papers, but that hardly qualifies as “a plan”.

              A desire yes, and maybe even some “preliminary” work was done, but no, nothing that would qualify as a “plan”.

            • Hiram

              “This was in response to the statement NASA never had any plans for a manned base of the Moon.”

              That wasn’t my statement. Go back and read it. As Ron said, NASA’s dreams are only loosely connected to established national priorities.

              What I said about NASA was that they did these studies because they themselves considered a return to the Moon as their responsibility. No one above them ever told them that they were to represent plans. No question that NASA had grandiose dreams about humans on the Moon. But policy-wise, those dreams were irrelevant. Concept development is always a smart thing to do, but don’t confuse it with “planning”.

              Yep, funding wasn’t available for this return. Why? Because it wasn’t a national priority.

  • Robert G. Oler

    I dont see the Chinese taking over the moon thing…its just fear or hope, talking there is zero evidence that they are moving that way….Robert G. Oler

  • reader

    I find it slightly amusing that every time Yutu is mentioned someone waves Curiosity and calls it a SUV or something.

    If you look closer, the technology and capabilities to do either are actually not that different. Its just CNSA budget is what, $1.5B TOTAL per year for all their space activities, whereas NASA spends ten times as much.

    If Chinese decide to spend two and a half billion dollars on a space robot i imagine it will be something like Gort.

    • Vladislaw

      NASA’s budget is divided, space only gets half the budget. Look at how much hardware NASA has in space that requires a maintinace budget…. China has one item. NASA dozens.

      Look at how many times china has did a human launch in the last DECADE. They launch once every couple years. NASA put the space shuttle up nine times in a year. NASA has also been maintaining a space station.

      The reason china doesn’t need a big budget is because they are not doing anything in space. Where are their “Great Telescopes”? Probes to all the planets and asteroids… space station, lunar landing,

      sheesh .. the two programs are as different as night and day.

      • reader

        China is not doing anything in space ? Interesting, why the hell did they launch CZ 15 times this year then ? 19 times last year ? And pretty much the same many years before that ?

        • Coastal Ron

          reader said:

          China is not doing anything in space ? Interesting, why the hell did they launch CZ 15 times this year then? 19 times last year?

          Mostly lifting satellites to space. And yes, they do have lots of satellites of their own that they are lifting, but is that any measure of space exploration? That’s just commodity transportation.

          They did launch one crew vehicle last year and one this year, but that is still a pretty low rate of crew flights, and they have to wait until at least 2015 until their next station launches before they will have a destination in space for any future crew flights.

          As far as space exploration related stuff goes, they have a pretty low flight tempo.

        • Vladislaw

          Really? I must have missed all the activity. Could you please enter in how many space craft they have operating in various places?

          Place: # of Probes
          Mercury
          Venus
          Earth
          Mars
          Asteroid Belt
          Jupiter
          Saturn
          Neptune
          Uranus
          Pluto
          Kiper Belt
          Ort Cloud
          Sun
          Orbital telescopes
          Space stations
          Manned flights *historical*

          Now compare the chinese number to the American number….(past and present)

          China is BARELY in outer space compared to America…

          Come back in a couple decades and we can have a more serious conversation.

    • Vladislaw

      If the capabilities are the same for landing on Luna and Mars why the hell has Mars eaten almost 50% of everything that goes there? They are totally different landing environments. You can not you parachutes on Luna … sheesh.

  • Space scientist Christopher McKay argues in a paper in favor of setting up a lunar base. His paper is discussed here:

    Six Reasons NASA Should Build a Research Base on the Moon.
    A planetary scientist suggests we should “boldly stay” where no one has stayed before.
    Sarah Fecht
    for National Geographic
    PUBLISHED DECEMBER 20, 2013
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/12/131220-lunar-research-base-mars-mission-science/

    Bob Clark

    • Robert G. Oler

      One could take these six reasons, go hunting about oh the mid 1980′s as to why a space station should be the “next logical step” and just replace space station with lunar base do a little word tweaking and you are there.

      None of these reasons is more then word salad.

      If it cost 100 times, or even 1000 times what it cost to keep a researcher at the South Pole to winter in, to keep one on a Moon base we would probaby do it. Go see the space station price point and then multiply it by oh 10 and you get to what a lunar base would take….

      Zero real interest. RGO

    • Hiram

      This is funny. I agree with most of his reasons. Of course, the subtext is that we should “boldly fund”, and no one in Congress wants to do that. Lists of reasons like this that are disconnected with funding realities and choice-making policy are pretty useless. One can come up with rafts of unaffordable things we should do. Of course, these six reasons can be concentrated into three. (1) Influence. That’s the old Apollo model for geo-political exceptionalism. (2) Science. McKay should know that, these days, we don’t need feet-on-the-ground to do most of the science that needs to be done. (3) Becoming an interplanetary species. Why now? Our work in LEO is certainly aimed in that direction.

      • seamus

        “Lists of reasons like this that are disconnected with funding realities and choice-making policy are pretty useless. One can come up with rafts of unaffordable things we should do.”

        Funding comes and goes depending on which way the political winds are blowing, and if we can afford $2 billion _per week_ on senseless wars we can afford to have NASA do a lot more– on their own and by supporting commercial space partners. NASA’s funding could be _doubled_ and it would still be a teeny, tiny slice of the national budget pie chart.

        Reaching Mars is first and foremost a big set of technical and engineering challenges. Living in the deep space radiation environment, mitigating the effects of long-term microgravity on humans, practicing telerobotics on a planetary surface from orbit, performing repairs, refueling, developing landers, rovers, habitation modules, in-situ resource utilization, communications, etc, etc, etc. It makes a lot of sense to master those challenges at nearby deep space locations such as L1/L2 and Luna… just a few days from Earth… before sending astronauts on a journey where rescue and resupply is several months or even years away.

        ISS barely touches the edge of mastering this big set of big challenges, so we need to keep funding that, and even expand HSF operations there. To eventually get to Mars, realistically a lot of expensive projects need to happen, including lunar bases and for example “Clarke Station” at L1:
        http://www.lpi.usra.edu/publications/reports/CB-1106/maryland01b.pdf

        It’s an expensive project, but it’s just one component of the infrastructure required to make humans an interplanetary species. It’s too bad the political priorities don’t favor giving a just little financial boost to NASA (and commercial companies) to help accelerate the roadmap to Mars.

        • Coastal Ron

          seamus said:

          …and if we can afford $2 billion _per week_ on senseless wars we can afford to have NASA do a lot more…

          A false rationalization. It does not matter how much we spend on anything else in the government, it only matters what the government wants to spend on NASA. For instance, NASA’s budget could be double what it is now, and people would still say what you said.

          It makes a lot of sense to master those challenges at nearby deep space locations such as L1/L2 and Luna…

          Since the biggest challenge is in surviving the trip to/from Mars, and the time spent in orbit around Mars, then the highest priority is surviving in zero-G without natural protection from radiation and other hazards. Because of that, eventually testing out technologies and techniques at EML points makes sense.

          But if the goal is Mars, why go to the Moon? No atmosphere, different habitat needs, and so on. If the goal is Mars, then going down to the Moon is a distraction. I’m not ruling out people going there, just saying whoever is paying the bills for going to Mars won’t want to spend anything on the Moon.

          To eventually get to Mars, realistically a lot of expensive projects need to happen, including lunar bases and for example “Clarke Station” at L1

          I think artificial gravity will be needed, and the proposal you linked to is a start. However we’re going to have to be able to master far large structures, and I think all the “Clarke Station” proposal would be is a just a pathfinder, not an example of what we would start scaling. And that’s the challenge, is that solutions to things in space are going to require a lot of testing and a lot of mass. All the more reason for Congress to fund NASA to support industry efforts to lower the cost of accessing space…

        • Hiram

          “Funding comes and goes depending on which way the political winds are blowing, and if we can afford $2 billion _per week_ on senseless wars we can afford to have NASA do a lot more– on their own and by supporting commercial space partners. NASA’s funding could be _doubled_ and it would still be a teeny, tiny slice of the national budget pie chart.”

          Well, the folks who are spending the money on wars don’t see those wars as “senseless”. That’s a whole problem in itself. But humans regularly spend a lot of their money on “senseless” things that, if they didn’t, would allow for more ambitious pursuits. Welcome to reality. The reason that another half percent of the federal budget hasn’t been scraped up by Congress for NASA is that NASA hasn’t convinced Congress that it’s worth it. It’s as simple as that.

          I agree with the technical and engineering challenges you describe. But the giveaway is “make humans an interplanetary species”. Those people who write the checks haven’t decided that doing so is important. It is simply not an established national goal. Yes, one can argue that eventually it might be handy, but there is no indication that it is necessary now. Until Congress admits that to be a goal of the nation, there is no chance that federal funds are going to be expended to make it happen.

  • Coastal Ron

    Robert Clark said:

    Space scientist Christopher McKay argues in a paper in favor of setting up a lunar base.

    NASA Planetary scientists are ALWAYS advocating to set up lunar bases. In fact, can you find one that DOESN’T?

    Those “Six Reason’s” are really just a cobbled together collection of all the arguments everyone tries to use to justify setting up a lunar base, but they all suffer the same problem – no politician cares. Certainly not enough to commit $100-200B in taxpayer money over the next two decades.

    And there’s the rub. We’re had the technology to set up shop on the Moon for decades, yet as a nation we haven’t had the interest – we’ve had better things to spend our taxpayer money on.

    Until a need arises that is greater than the amount of money needed to fulfill that need, we’re not going to be setting up shop in the Moon. And lava tubes and “hints of water” are not an urgent need, only a scientific curiosity that can wait.

    Sorry

    • reader

      Tell me why $160B blown on ISS so far can be reasonably explained any more than any sort of proposed moon base.

      • DCSCA

        Tell me why $160B blown on ISS so far can be reasonably explained any more than any sort of proposed moon base.

        ‘Course, the ISS must be viewed as one of the last remanants of Cold War policy. In that respect– that is, in geo-politicaL al terms- it has pretty much fulfilled its function for an era of the 20th century long over. How to pitch a lunar outpost may have more to do with a budding challenge from PRC or as an exploration/exploitation outpost to develop systems and hardware for cislunar government space ops, in tandem w/commercial support– as a project of scale to build confidence in 21sr century hardware, systems and precedures.

        In other words, make the mistakes close to home, then press onward and outward to Mars by 2100– if it is even worth the trip given the increased sophistication of the throw awat probes. But for this century, the target is Luna.

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA opined:

          But for this century, the target is Luna.

          You are free to spend your money where you like, but you can’t rewrite reality – most of the money NASA is spending between the Moon and Mars is going to Mars. NASA officials even state that Mars is the goal.

          Sorry.

    • Actually, pretty much every politician who has interest in space cares about a Moon base. Almost no one in Congress is interested in the asteroid retrieval mission, while most support a return to the Moon.
      In regards to space scientists, planetary or otherwise, some have no interest in human spaceflight at all, as they view it as detracting from the important work that can be done by robotic probes.
      In regards to funding, a key distinction that may hold now is the possibility of a near-term low cost delivery system in the Falcon Heavy. Note also in regards to finding funding, the ISS will be winding down and commercial interests such as Bigelow can take over the role of a presence in LEO, helped again by reduced costs of space access. Then those funds that needed to go to the ISS could go to a lunar base and/or other destinations such as Mars or asteroids.
      BTW, in a presentation to the Mars society in 2009 Chris McKay describes the benefits of a lunar base towards supporting manned Mars missions. Near the end of this video Robert Zubrin gives the alternate viewpoint, that we should go directly to Mars:

      (2 of 5)Dr. Chris McKay on possible steps to human exploration of Mars.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnGiKodn-7g

      Bob Clark

      • Coastal Ron

        Robert Clark said:

        Almost no one in Congress is interested in the asteroid retrieval mission, while most support a return to the Moon.

        First of all, your assertion that “most support” a return to the Moon is unsubstantiated.

        Secondly, apparently you haven’t learned that you don’t trust what a politician says, you can only go by what they do. And since most of Congress hasn’t voted for a Moon program since they cancelled the last one, I’d say their actions speak louder than your assertions.

        Note also in regards to finding funding, the ISS will be winding down and commercial interests such as Bigelow can take over the role of a presence in LEO

        All that can be said is that a decision point is coming up with regards to whether the mission of the ISS will be extended past 2020. No indications point to an end, nor do they point definitively to an extension.

        As to Bigelow’s space stations, they won’t replace the ISS in any way, shape or form. The ISS is a 450mt platform that is optimized for science, and the Bigelow stations are far smaller and won’t be able to conduct anywhere near the amount of science that they ISS can.

        If we want to learn how to live and work in space, and test out the technologies and techniques that will be required for us to leave LEO for long periods of time, then the ISS is the best place to do that, and the least expensive place too. Duplicating the abilities of the ISS with Bigelow modules will cost far more than just extending the life of the ISS through at least 2028.

      • Scientists Petition U.S. Congress for Return to the Moon.
        by Leonard David, SPACE.com’s Space Insider Columnist | December 23, 2013 03:32pm ET
        http://www.space.com/24068-destination-moon-petition-congress.html

        Bob Clark

        • Hiram

          “Scientists Petition U.S. Congress for Return to the Moon.”

          Pffftlh. Those are a small bunch of mostly Apollo-generation *lunar scientists* whose professional lives are centered on the Moon, and whose work will benefit from any such return. Such a return to the Moon will line their professional pockets. They do NOT represent the greater science community, and not even the greater planetary science community. Their main arguments aren’t scientific, but rather diplomatic and economic. Of course, you won’t hear many diplomats and economists toeing the same line.

          • I disagree. For instance Chris McKay is a Mars scientist. Yet he favors manned spaceflight, with a lunar base as a precursor to such a mission. A National Academy of Sciences report also concluded there was no broad consensus among scientists for the asteroid retrival mission while there was one for a return to the Moon.
            The Chinese Chang’3 mission simply strengthens that support.

            Bob Clark

            • Coastal Ron

              Robert Clark said:

              For instance Chris McKay is a Mars scientist. Yet he favors manned spaceflight, with a lunar base as a precursor to such a mission.

              Random government employees expressing their opinions is interesting, but has nothing to do with U.S. Space Policy.

              A National Academy of Sciences report also concluded there was no broad consensus among scientists for the asteroid retrival mission…

              Now that has meaning, since the NAS has some influence on policy makers.

              However why do you bring up the Asteroid Retrieval Mission (ARM)? Do you hear anyone on this forum advocating for it? Many of us recognize that the ARM was an attempt at giving the SLS and MPCV a mission, so if anything the failure to attract any interest in the ARM is also a failure to find a use for the SLS. You’re just confirming we should cancel the SLS.

              …while there was one for a return to the Moon.

              How convenient you left out the broad consensus of people that want to reach Mars, which is where we’ve been spending most of our robotic exploration budget. All things being equal, I think more people would want to go to Mars next. However not all things are equal, since the Moon is closer and Mars is much harder (and more expensive) to reach.

              But considering that the Moon is also too expensive to reach using current traditional government methods, the question should be what do we do for the next decade – push under-funded efforts to reach the Moon, or spend the time to work out the technologies and techniques we’ll need to reach both the Moon and Mars?

              That’s the question I’d like asked…

              • For those not favoring a return to the Moon, what should be the next destination for human spaceflight?

                Bob Clark

              • Hiram

                “For those not favoring a return to the Moon, what should be the next destination for human spaceflight?”

                The whole idea of a “destination” as a rocky body that is a goal to put human feet on is one of the pathetic handicaps of human space flight policy. There ain’t that many rocks, and the value of going to any one is arguable, especially since we (the nation) don’t have any overriding goals, such as colonization. Given that lack of overriding goal, the original VSE concept of “spiral development” was defensible. That was a strategy aimed at achieving capability, rather than destinations.

              • Coastal Ron

                Robert Clark said:

                For those not favoring a return to the Moon, what should be the next destination for human spaceflight?

                I’m not against any destination, I’m actually FOR going to all of them. But along the lines of what Hiram said, I’m in favor of building up capabilities that can be used for going anywhere, not just one place.

                And because NASA has a very limited budget that will not allow it to go anywhere on it’s own, I think that NASA’s role should revert back to something more NACA like, where NASA is focused on helping the space industry become more capable on it’s own. Then, when the government does want to go somewhere, it doesn’t have to reinvent the things that industry does better.

                For instance, the U.S. space industry already knows how to do transportation to space, so all the government should have to do is contract for whatever their needs are – no need for a government-owned transportation system.

                However no one has perfected in-space refueling, so that would be a good example of where the government could co-invest with industry to develop the capability, and the government would benefit by being able to leverage that new industry capability for their own future needs.

                What I’d really like to see is a President state that a goal for the U.S. is to be a space-faring nation, and that an explicit goal would be to work with U.S. industry and international partners to build a reusable transportation system for crew and cargo to EML and LLO. No dates, just progressive goals that keep putting more and more of the system in place, until one day all NASA would need to get to LLO would be to exercise a pre-negotiated GAO contract for services.

                My $0.02

              • Vladislaw

                I favor road trips, there are 20 lagrange points, tw0 planets and several moons along with asteroids that a space craft can visit WITHOUT dropping back into a gravity well.

                Lets do spiral designs on space based, reusable vehicles and just spiral outward. We need the Model A’s and Model T’s of spacecraft. After all the work and expense of getting OUT of a gravity well, why waste all the development dollars on driving back down INTO a gravity well.

                There are an endless array of targets we can visit without getting bogged down in a money pit lunar base…. FOR NOW.

                Lets get the transportation system in place first that allows us to travel to any point in the inner solar system before we worry about getting bogged down with a base.

              • Hiram

                “What I’d really like to see is a President state that a goal for the U.S. is to be a space-faring nation, and that an explicit goal would be to work with U.S. industry and international partners to build a reusable transportation system for crew and cargo to EML and LLO. No dates, just progressive goals …”

                I think Ron has the ticket. Instead of our goal being to put humans on rocks, a better goal is for us to be a space-faring nation. Our President should announce that as a unifying goal, and that announcement can tie in to many things that we’re already doing. Being a space-faring nation can be used to put humans on rocks when it is clear why we’d want to put humans on rocks. It’s a goal can be cast competitively. Your “space race” can be about achieving capability instead of just about getting dusty toes. The nice thing about that goal is that there are many, many accomplishments that can be featured as you progress.

                The DOD works exactly that way. They aren’t about how may wars they win, or how many countries they conquer, but about what capabilities they achieve to defend the nation. Those capabilities represent technological and national strength. It should be pointed out, in the context of this thread, that is *exactly* what China is doing, as opposed to what China is rumored to be seeking. They are developing capability, and they are happy to admit that.

                What Apollo taught us was that achieving the capability of putting humans on the Moon wasn’t programatically extensible. It didn’t lead to anything. While it was a capability that made us proud, it wasn’t really a capability that we ended up using. Sad to say, in many ways, that’s the definition of a stunt.

                So what are the metrics for a space faring nation? Command and control across the solar system, for one. We do that right now in our planetary science missions. Humans living in space is another. ISS has proved that clearly. Lifting materiel into space economically is yet another, and our commercial efforts, partly underwritten by NASA, are driving that capability handily. There are loads of boxes that a space faring nation can proudly check.

                But an ultimate goal of putting feet on rocks is right now somewhat of an empty one, and the extensibility of it is by no means clear.

            • Hiram

              “A National Academy of Sciences report also concluded there was no broad consensus among scientists for the asteroid retrival mission while there was one for a return to the Moon.”

              Wrong.

              The Carnesale report concluded that among NASA employees, the asteroid retrieval mission had little appeal, and the Moon was a more attractive destination. Most of those NASA employees were engineers and technologists. No big surprise.

              The National Academy Decadal Survey for Planetary Science, which represents the real consensus of planetary scientists, makes no such recommendation about returning to the Moon. In fact, it simply points out that human “missions to the surfaces of solid bodies whose surface conditions are not too hostile for humans” may have value, and the obvious sites for such missions are the Moon, Mars, Phobos, Deimos and some asteroids. But for Constellation, at least, that work resulted in notable decreases in space science funding. That report avoided any kind of recommendations about human space flight.

            • Hiram

              “I disagree. For instance Chris McKay is a Mars scientist.”

              We were talking about the new “Destination Moon” advocacy effort, which is organized by the Lunar Analysis and Exploration Group (LEAG). Chris McKay isn’t a member of that group. By the way, and I’m not sure it was pointed out before, but for a NASA-organized group to be developing Congressional advocacy is, in many respects, illegal. Some hand-slapping is in order here. I’m not sure who the agency manager is who coordinates LEAG these days (Mike Wargo used to be), but that person needs to get the house in order.

              Please understand that everyone (including planetary scientists) would be DELIGHTED to have humans back on the Moon, jut like I’d be DELIGHTED to have a castle in Bermuda. But doing so isn’t necessarily an affordable option. It’s not space policy that McKay talking about, it’s just dreaming.

        • Coastal Ron

          Robert Clark didn’t say anything, but posted:

          Scientists Petition U.S. Congress for Return to the Moon.

          Posts with no comments, context or analysis are pretty empty Bob. Raise your standards.

    • Vladislaw

      Ron wrote:

      “we’ve had better things to spend our taxpayer money on.”

      I beg to differ. I would say we have had DIFFERENT priorities on what to spend on. I would not define pork spending by congress to feed the Military industrial complex as a “better” thing to spend taxpayer money on, just different.

  • DCSCA

    Hiram wrote:”By the way, the Chinese do NOT have a manned space program that is “focused on establishing a base on the Moon.”

    Except they do.

    They openly discuss it and promote in. NBC News aired a package on it just last week. Anybody who believes the PRC isn’t aiming at Luna is a lunatic.

    • Robert G. Oler

      None of those things “bind” the PRC government to any program or even indicate that they are considering such an effort. There is no Kennedy speech here, there is not even a sustained program that is doing more then very minimal space efforts both crewed and uncrewed…you are free to find deamons and dangers whereever you might want…but the last time we listened to some guy preaching danger danger everywhere…we spent 5 trillion dollars for nothing

      Robert G. Oler

      • DCSCA

        “None of those things “bind” the PRC government to any program or even indicate that they are considering such an effort.” whistles Robert past the graveyard.

        You aren’t paying attention to what they’re saying and doing, Robert. They’re headed for Luna— and it’s not a head fake.

        • Robert G. Oler

          well I dont see it in a Gemini program that is taking over a decade but you are free to be worried…heck worry away RGO

          • Vladislaw

            oh come on Robert, first they get funding for a big rocket.. then they get funding for a lunar lander, then they get funding for a lunar return to lunar orbit vehicle, they get funding for a command module then they return to earth.

            AND they are going to do this in the same time scale they used for their early manned program.

    • Coastal Ron

      DCSCA said:

      They openly discuss it and promote in.

      Our NASA openly talks about lassoing an asteroid and going to Mars, and yet we all know that NASA doesn’t have the funding or permission to do either.

      Funny how much you believe the Chinese – so gullible… ;-)

  • DCSCA

    “That gap is being filled by a private sector-led effort called the Commercial Crew Program,”\

    Bad policy is bad policy. And, LEO is a ticket to no place, going in circles, no where, fast.

  • Mader Levap

    Now that’s funny problem for Mars Firsters. They can get away with going to Mars first only as long as no one else does anything interesting on Moon. Some odd orbiter is not problem, I grant it. But surface operations, on other hand, starts to be problem…

    I predict, assuming China will follow with their announced plans for more Chang’e spacecrafts, that “Mars First” will be in future more and more untenable position. Especially if other countries (India? Japan?) will in decade or two go there too.

    If in future someone else land man on Moon, it will be extremely hard to maintain “Mars First”. NOTE: I predict manned mission by anyone to Moon will happen long before any manned mission by anyone to Mars if only because it is orders of magnitude easier.

    If someone stays on Moon (Moon base etc), you can forget about “Mars First”. USA cannot ignore manned operations on Moon conducted by other countries, Mars Firster’s denial notwithstanding.

    Conclusion: you are screwed, Mars-bois. This is how someone thinking ‘Murica is only country in world ends up.

    • Coastal Ron

      Mader Levap said:

      NOTE: I predict manned mission by anyone to Moon will happen long before any manned mission by anyone to Mars if only because it is orders of magnitude easier.

      I think a private company will land humans back on the Moon before any government does.

      How you think that affects going to Mars is pretty odd, but maybe because you think only governments will be going to the Moon or Mars. If anything I think non-government groups will be making the most progress in reaching the Moon and Mars.

      And that’s a good thing.

      • DCSCA

        “I think a private company will land humans back on the Moon before any government does.” muses Ron.

        You think wrong. The Chinese will do a circumlunar mission and attempt a landing before a commercial firm ever attempts to fly anybody beyond LEO– and bear in mind, commercial firms have failed to even attemptto orbit anybody in LEO as 2013 comes to a close. The pattern of progress today suggests the next man on the mono will be from Red China- and it will be beamed via streaming video to billions of his countrymen on Earth- and other parties around it– on tablets and phones– assembled in Red China.

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA whined:

          The Chinese will do a circumlunar mission and attempt a landing before a commercial firm ever attempts to fly anybody beyond LEO

          The topic is “landing”, not “circumlunar mission”. Try to keep up.

          Heck, SpaceX could do a circumlunar mission on their own with a Falcon Heavy and the crew version of the Dragon by the end of this decade, and China will still be assembling their LEO space station.

          In case you haven’t noticed, China is not in a hurry to do things in space, and they are very risk averse. Look how long they have been spending in LEO, and you think they are ready to bolt to the surface of the Moon?

          You really don’t understand China at all, and I think you are just foisting your own desires on them since you know our Congress won’t fund your lunar-tic desires.

          • DCSCA

            “In case you haven’t noticed, China is not in a hurry to do things in space, and they are very risk averse.” muses Ron.

            The lunar mission was pretty tisky from a geo-political POV, Ron, not to mention the technical and engineering elements of it– they did it on the first try, too. That’s impressive for a nation that two generations ago couldn’t orbit a potato, as Mao said. In case you haven’t noticed, China moves to the beat of its own drummer. Has been doing so for centuries, Ron. They’re headed for Luna. It’s as clear as the night skies over America where the Red Moon is can be seen on the rise much easier than the ISS.

            • Coastal Ron

              DCSCA said:

              The lunar mission was pretty tisky from a geo-political POV

              What the hell is “tisky”?

              If you mean “risky”, that’s funny. What’s going to happen if the Chang’e 3 would have failed? We’ve had lots of failures, and I don’t see anyone stopping doing business in the world because of it.

              Provide specific examples of how a failure on the part of China would have changed anything or stop spouting this inane theory of yours.

              They’re headed for Luna.

              So what? Eventually Angola will get there too. Except Angola will be getting there on a SpaceX reusable rocket, and China will still be using throwaway rockets.

              It’s as clear as the night skies over America where the Red Moon is can be seen on the rise much easier than the ISS.

              Funny how you diss the accomplishments of Apollo – there are six American flags on the surface of the Moon that were planted by American’s, not rovers. Just in combined tonnage alone the Moon is far more Red, White & Blue than just red.

              You must be afraid of your own shadow… ;-)

        • Vladislaw

          According to space adventures they have sold the second seat for a russian fly by of the moon.

        • Robert G. Oler

          there is zero data either technical or otherwise to support that analysis. The PRC would have to make significant upgrades in their capsule to do what you are suggesting…and the rate at which they are flying would suggest that this is at best a decade away

          I dont know if a commercial company will do it; but the hardware will exist to do it sometime in the next three years or so

          BTW outside of China the landing in this part of the world got minimal coverage…there is a significant government shift going on in Thailand and that above anything else is playing pretty heavy in the region. Robert G. Oler

        • Hiram

          “The Chinese will do a circumlunar mission and attempt a landing before a commercial firm ever attempts to fly anybody beyond LEO– and bear in mind, commercial firms have failed to even attempt to orbit anybody in LEO as 2013 comes to a close.”

          I have to agree. That’s because commercial firms don’t see any big return from landing humans on the Moon. Same goes for investors who are being asked to underwrite stuff like Moon Express and Golden Spike, who have can-in-hand. For China, it’s about national pride. Actually, that goes for orbiting humans in LEO as well. Commercial firms don’t see that as a particularly lucrative business. SpaceX is now putting valuable communication satellites in GEO, and seeing a reinvention of the business. They’ll get more money from that than by putting humans up there.

      • Mader Levap

        “I think a private company will land humans back on the Moon before any government does.”
        I assume you mean private company funded from sources other than goverment. In that case, I think you will lose that bet. I won’t say it is impossible (assuming significantly falling prices per kg to space in next few decades), but it is very risky, as both private sector and goverment would take advantage from falling prices.

        “How you think that affects going to Mars is pretty odd, but maybe because you think only governments will be going to the Moon or Mars.”
        I said in my sentence “anyone”. Goverments or not.

        However, I see bigger problem with your post. You seem to think that privately funded manned landing on Moon is not related and will not influence whole “Moon/Mars First” debacle. Wrong.

        I think manned landings on Moon and especially staying on it permanently by anyone before Mars will be death blow to “Mars First”, regardless of whom will do it, goverment or not.

        • Coastal Ron

          Mader Levap said:

          I assume you mean private company funded from sources other than goverment.

          No, you can’t assume that. If the government wants to help fund a private company, I’m OK with that. Why not?

          However, I see bigger problem with your post. You seem to think that privately funded manned landing on Moon is not related and will not influence whole “Moon/Mars First” debacle. Wrong.

          I could care less about what “Moon First” and “Mars First” groups think since I don’t belong to either.

          I think manned landings on Moon and especially staying on it permanently by anyone before Mars will be death blow to “Mars First”, regardless of whom will do it, goverment or not.

          That sounds pretty silly. Why do you say that?

          • Mader Levap

            “If the government wants to help fund a private company [to land on Moon]”
            …then goverment is returning back to Moon. First.

            ““I think manned landings on Moon and especially staying on it permanently by anyone before Mars will be death blow to “Mars First”, regardless of whom will do it, goverment or not.”
            That sounds pretty silly.”
            Denial is terrible thing.

            “Why do you say that?”
            Let’s take one fictional scenario.

            Private companies and other goverments lands and stays on Moon permanently both unmanned and manned. They explore, build, research and mine.* USA goverment does not anything on Moon (impossible, but it is thought experiment, so carry on) despite this activity. It focuses on Red Planet and launches successful manned mission to Mars.

            Guess what? It would be still Mars Second, not First. No one still attached to reality would in these circumstances consider Moon status as anything other as Moon First.

            This is why I consider Mars First as idea that was stillborn already at moment of conception.

            *Why they would do all of that, as we supposedly according to SOME people been there, done that, is left as excercise to reader.

            • Coastal Ron

              Mader Levap said:

              Let’s take one fictional scenario.

              Private companies and other goverments lands and stays on Moon permanently both unmanned and manned.

              Let me stop you here. You and I are using different definitions for what constitutes the “Moon First” and “Mars First” groups.

              To me, they are groups that want the government to fund going to the Moon and Mars. The government may contract with commercial companies to perform some of the work involved, but the effort itself is a government program.

              As to privately funded exploration and exploitation efforts, the “Me First” people pushing the government funded Moon and Mars efforts have no control over them, and though they may have some similar goals, otherwise they are not connected.

              So based on that I’m not sure we have anything to continue with – apples & oranges, etc.

              • Mader Levap

                “You and I are using different definitions for what constitutes the “Moon First” and “Mars First” groups.”
                As I thought. I view “first” in general terms (think on scale of entire humanity), your “first” in term of goverment activicity (more precisely, USA gov).

                “So based on that I’m not sure we have anything to continue with”
                One simple thing. I do not think USA goverment will just ignore Moon operations conducted by other entities, both govermental and commercial. You guys did not yet declined that much to be like old China – to ignore what is happening around. And someone inclined to ignore Moon will ignore Mars too.

                So even under your “First” definition “Mars First” has no chance. This is my bet: USA goverment WILL fund going back to Moon before going to Mars (in fact, decades before).

                That’s all. You can disagree with me, but I think my justification is sound. I simply cannot see any plausible scenario where USA gov will fund Mars manned mission while ignoring manned Moon.

              • Coastal Ron

                Mader Levap said:

                I simply cannot see any plausible scenario where USA gov will fund Mars manned mission while ignoring manned Moon.

                We didn’t go to the Moon originally because we wanted to explore the Moon, but because of the Cold War. And we haven’t returned to the Moon in the successive 40 years because we haven’t found a reason that is worth the massive cost it takes to go back to the Moon in a bigger way. The ROI hasn’t been there.

                Now maybe you think that some future U.S. Government will find an ROI big enough to spend money on returning to the Moon, but unless we find aliens or some new fuel source I don’t see that happening. The threat of China or Zimbabwe landing people on the Moon is not going to be enough either.

                As to Mars, remember that I don’t think either the “Moon First” or “Mars First” groups will be able to convince the U.S. Government to fund their dreams. And as of today NASA doesn’t get enough money to get to Mars on it’s own, so unless the NASA budget is increased by a massive amount, it will NEVER be able to get to the Moon or Mars.

                The only way I see humans from the U.S. getting back to the Moon and eventually reaching Mars is through international partnerships and/or through public/private partnerships, where the U.S. Government decides it is in their interests to have a hand in pushing out the frontiers of space, but they don’t want to have to bear the full load of funding it.

                If that happens the Moon is the likely first place to be reached, but it won’t have a lot of funding from the U.S. Government, and likely that funding will disappear or be severely reduced after a while. The government will also contribute to a Mars effort, but again it won’t be a lot. Why? There still won’t be an ROI big enough to keep up the sustained funding.

                My $0.02

  • Brian Paine

    LET NOTHING YE DISSMAY.
    Inside source has disclosed that SANA, the flight technology arm of North Pole, has once again been forced to pay the Russians hundreds of millions of dollars to deliver this years Xmas gifts.
    Budget cuts effected by the Congress of Elves have impacted negatively on the new commercial sleigh delivery systems, now not expected to come on line until at least 2017.
    “First and only to the North Pole is wearing a bit thin if we can’t deliver our own gifts” stated a Sana executive. “Our only hope now is that Chief Elf Karrab Amhabo will use all of his influence to right the situation, but for now it is going to be another Russian flavoured Xmas…”

  • Robert G. Oler

    Happy Christmas or Holidays to you all. it is Xmas day where I am …and it is the first one away from my three year old baby…

    Remember Space politics should be fun

    Long Live The Republic Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    Hello People,

    Just to wish everyone here a Merry Christmas!

    It’s this time of year when things become possible.

    So here is hope that Santa Claus brings some more space adventures to all of us.

  • DCSCA

    Tip of the hat to the ISS crew for their sucessful EVAs; resprctful nod to Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders on the 45th anniversary of their Christmas Eve message from lunar orbit aboard Apollo 8 (remains an unforgettable moment in human history) and a very Merry Christmas to Jeff Foust for this forum for vigorous and engaging talk on space policy. And to everyone else on all sides of the space compass– Happy Holidays.

    • @DCSCA,…Thanks for noting the historical & great Apollo 8 lunar orbital mission! Thanks for the Christmas wishes. The same to you likewise. Indeed this is one of the important online discussion forums, on the topic of American space policy, and may it continue as a valuable blog journal in the future. Sure, there is much disagreement on what is best for the nation to be doing in space, among the commenters, but debate is indeed part of the American democratic tradition, and the free exchange of ideas & opinions is a necessary part of that equation. Cheers to our republic & our democracy!! Happy Christmas Day to everyone!

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2425/1

    Everyone commenting on this thread should read this article. In my view it is one of the best articles ever written for Space Review…and one of the best articles that surmizes the “malaise” we are in RGO

  • With Jeff’s indulgence … Florida Today this morning published my guest column about NewSpace:

    http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20131226/COLUMNISTS0205/312260003/Guest-column-NASA-s-new-direction

    And just to keep this on topic … China?! Meh.

  • DougSpace stated above that Dave Masten of Masten Space Systems estimates in a SpaceVidcast video that adapting a Centaur upper stage to serve as a lunar lander would only cost $200 million. I found a SpaceVidcast video where he actually estimates it in the range of only $50 million(!)
    The discussion on the lunar lander takes place about 15 minutes in. Masten also mentions this modified Centaur could transport 6 metric tons between the lunar surface and a Lagrange point. Such a lander could also be used between low lunar orbit and the lunar surface, as for a manned mission from Earth:

    A mostly commercial architecture for solar system exploration.
    http://spacevidcast.com/2012/04/17/a-mostly-commercial-architecture-for-solar-system-exploration/

    If true, then it is positively criminal that NASA claims a return to the Moon can’t be done because a lander would cost ca. $10 billion, when it can actually be done two orders of magnitude more cheaply than that. In any case NASA needs to do a study to see if this conversion of a Centaur to a lander can actually be done so cheaply.

    Bob Clark

    • Vladislaw

      You have every porkonaut in congress wanting to have at least 10 engineers in their district to turn each nut and bolt. NASA is not about cheap, not about effiecent, not about cost effective. Actually it is about the exact opposite. HOW can we build a lunar lander that uses people from at least 40 states, uses about 400 contractors and is cost plus fixed fee with enough escalator clauses in it that it would reach the moon without a rocket…

      THAT is NASA as run by the special interests in congress. NASA has to buy from the commercial sector now… congress prefers endless development projects that just get renamed every few years.

  • Coastal Ron

    Robert Clark said:

    …that adapting a Centaur upper stage to serve as a lunar lander would only cost $200 million. I found a SpaceVidcast video where he actually estimates it in the range of only $50 million

    Masten is doing a lot of innovative stuff, but it’s not big and complex like the lunar lander would be, and his estimates need more context before you start thinking there is some sort of conspiracy.

    Plus, this is nothing new, since ULA outlined an entire lunar architecture back in 2009 in their paper called “Affordable Exploration Architecture 2009″. It’s on their website. Their proposal relies on a family of vehicles called ACES (Advanced Common Evolved Stage) that are essentially improved Centaur upper stages.

    If true, then it is positively criminal that NASA claims a return to the Moon can’t be done because a lander would cost ca. $10 billion, when it can actually be done two orders of magnitude more cheaply than that.

    Developing a lander is not all that is needed to return to the Moon, so you are being very naive about this. And what Masten says he can do it for is entirely different than what the government can do it for. Again, if you don’t understand this, then you are pretty naive.

    In any case NASA needs to do a study to see if this conversion of a Centaur to a lander can actually be done so cheaply.

    Why? They don’t have a mandate or funding for a return to the Moon program.

    Sheesh…

  • Scott Bass

    Opinions are all over the place….but feel happy the China landing has at least jump started the conversation, The president and the congress may dismiss it but at least it is there to dismiss…….. In 2017 they will have to decide to dismiss it again….. After that it won’t matter much, we will be playing catch up at that point…… And that is assuming we still don’t care once a base is opened by china

    • Coastal Ron

      Scott Bass said:

      In 2017 they will have to decide to dismiss it again….. After that it won’t matter much, we will be playing catch up at that point…

      Catch up?

      By 2017 we could have two U.S. commercial crew transportation systems in operation, both capable of carrying 7 people each to our 450mt science platform in LEO that is supported by two U.S. commercial cargo transportation systems. That science platform, the ISS, will have been continuously occupied for over 17 years by the that point.

      By 2017 the Chinese will still be using their upgraded version of a Soyuz, which is only capable of carrying three people today. In 2017 the Chinese will be done with their Tiangong 2 “space laboratory”, which only has 20 days of life support capability, and they’ll be close to launching their 82mt Tiangong-3.

      What exactly will we be playing catch up to?

  • Scott Bass

    I was referring to the Chang 5 mission, at which time we will debate this again…. And if a decision is not made at that point to return to the moon then China will most likely have the next boots on the ground….. So catch up is refering to that….. Ie they will be there and we will not

    • Coastal Ron

      Scott Bass said:

      I was referring to the Chang 5 mission, at which time we will debate this again…

      Oh my gosh, they are bringing back 2 kilograms of lunar soil and rock samples – WE ARE SO SCREWED!!!

      Is that the reaction you’re hoping to hear?

      What exactly are we supposed to be so concerned about? That they are landing another robotic explorer on the Moon? That they are bringing back a small sample? Didn’t we do both of those things back in the 60′s?

      And if a decision is not made at that point to return to the moon then China will most likely have the next boots on the ground…

      Hey, if they want to spend money to send people to the Moon, so what? A handful, a dozen, a hundred – what are they supposed to be doing that is making you so scared? Why the fear?

      So catch up is refering to that….. Ie they will be there and we will not

      No, they will still be behind, because only when they land humans on the Moon will they understand why we have moved on to focusing on Mars.

      Maybe this will make you more paranoid, but there is an article on Wired today titled “China’s Deep Sea Ambitions” that I thought had a relevant perspective on space related stuff with China:

      And while Plan 863 indicates a formal commitment to oceanographic exploration, China’s movement has been measured and deliberate, similar to its spacefaring progress. With all the fanfare surrounding the country’s entry into manned spaceflight, it’s important to maintain historical perspective. In the decade since it became the third country to put a man in space, China has completed four flights; the bulk of the Space Race, from Gagarin to Armstrong, happened in less time.

    • Hiram

      I have to say that the idea that China is allegedly going where we have already been is neither disturbing nor unique.

      China is putting the finishing touches on their deep sea submersible Jiaolong that will soon take their people to the bottom of the Marianas Trench. Our U.S. Navy sent people there in 1960 and, as a nation, we never sent anyone back. Nope, we never set up a base down there, and nope, we see no reason to do so. James Cameron, of course, took his Deepsea Challenger down there, which I guess is somewhat the undersea equivalent of Moon Express and Golden Spike. It’s another world, down there. Like the Moon, it is isolated, exquisitely desolate, and many would say boring. Cameron’s long awaited photos are real yawners. Jialong will actually be mobile along the ocean floor (it’s sort of a rover!), unlike the others, so it will do exploration in a way the others could not. Well, they won’t quite have “boots in the mud”, but close to that.

      So we’d better get kicking, or else we’re going to be playing “catch up”. We need a national mandate to return to the deepest place on the globe so we can give a few more of us a sense of solitude and wonder and isolation from humanity. They will be there and we will not. Horrors!

      Of course, the best way to avoid being “beaten” by the Chinese is to join them. But, unlike most other countries, our nation can’t digest the prospect of partnering with a communist nation that tramples on human rights. That’s why our partnership with the Soviet Union on ISS turned out to be so indigestible. Um, didn’t it?

      • Hiram

        Oops, Ron beat me to it, on Jiaolong.

        • Coastal Ron

          There is no doubt that China is trying to expand their abilities, and the main question that seems to be the dividing line is whether their intentions somehow threaten the U.S.

          From what I can see China is not doing anything new or particularly challenging, and where they are doing it is not in any place that the U.S. has determined was of particular interest to the U.S.

          Scott and others just want to use China’s activities as an excuse to funnel more money into NASA so NASA can send humans back to the Moon. What that will solve is still left up to the imagination of those that propose this response, but apparently it is supposed to alleviate some form of “fear”.

          Having grown up in the age where nuclear bombs could come raining down on us at any moment, I just don’t understand the fear I’m supposed to have by China sending a little rover to the Moon. That kind of fear seems irrational to me.

  • Scott Bass

    It’s not fear to me,your partially right that I will take any carrot that makes us decide to go back to the moon, does not matter whether it is china, it just simply the step I believe in….. A lunar base makes sense to me….. I understand arguments against, no need to rehash

    • Coastal Ron

      Scott Bass said:

      It’s not fear to me,your partially right that I will take any carrot that makes us decide to go back to the moon, does not matter whether it is china, it just simply the step I believe in

      Look, what you do with your own money is up to you. If you want to donate your entire fortune to a private company that is trying to put humans back on the Moon, then I wish you all the best.

      But this China-mongering that you have been engaged in is for the purpose of spending MY TAX MONEY to send humans back to the Moon for a made up reason. A FAKE REASON.

      So just as you’ll take any carrot to get your way, you shouldn’t be surprised when people see through your superficial reasons and knock them down.

      This is serious stuff here Scott. If you can’t articulate a clear ROI for tax dollars to be spent, and no one else has been able to either in all these years we’ve been talking about this, then you should seriously consider the fact that THERE IS NOT REASON for the U.S. Taxpayer to send humans back to the place we’ve already been. Would it be neat? Sure. Does it rise to level of Nation Imperative like the Apollo program was part of? No.

      I think you would be better off throwing your support behind private efforts like Golden Spike, and supporting the creation of more public/private partnerships between NASA and the private sector to create new space-related services.

      And stop your fake effort to stir up fears in people – who are you trying to emulate, Roger Ailes?

  • Mark Whittington has a China space race guest column in this morning’s Florida Today:

    http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20140102/columnists0205/301020001/guest-column-u-s-can-still-beat-china-back-moon

    Apparently he didn’t get the message that we were on the Moon 44 years ago.

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