View Full Version : NASA planning "return to the Moon" ?
05-12-00, 06:08 PM
"A robotic return to the moon toward the end of the decade is feasible, said Craig Peterson, a senior engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. The spacecraft could grab and package lunar samples, then hurl them back to Earth. JPL is making plans for the Great Basin Lunar Sample Return Mission, replete with a lunar lander, rover and an ascent vehicle to rocket the samples Earthward."
End of the decade. Say, 2009. Fourty years after a manned landing, NASA might do what Russians did for the consolation prize.
Is anyone else as disgusted as I am?
05-12-00, 06:41 PM
Why are you disgusted? Just curious.
The New Age of Enlightenment is approaching...are you ready?
05-13-00, 12:16 PM
Do the words "lost our way" and "lost the will" mean anything to you? In late 1960's United States had a mean to settle the Solar System. I am not talking about Saturn V rocket, or any other specific piece of hardware. I am talking about people - the engineering teams that made Moon landings, Vikings and Voyagers possible. Then we threw them away.
Now we not only have no ability to land people on the Moon - we don't even have the ability to do what far less technologically advanced Russians did in 1969! At least not for another NINE years!
05-14-00, 06:47 PM
The Russian Lunar Lander circa 1969 crashed on the Moon's surface (it didn't return any samples) as have many Russian planetary probes crashed or gone astray e.g. a Venus and a Mars probe. More recently the interplanetary probes Phobos 1 & Phobos 2 which were more of an international joint mission rather than a Russian or American mission both were lost due to computer program problems. I wouldn't say that the Russians or Americans ability to explore space has gone retro in any way, I'd say that the focus and the mission objectives have gotten much more technologically sophisticated since the 1960's. Putting a man on the Moon in the 1960's was very difficult, but putting probes out into the farthest reaches of space to relay info. back to Earth stations isn't a piece of cake either, in some ways it's actually more difficult due to the amount of computer programming and technological tinkering that's involved. I don't think NASA threw anybody away, all those old V-2 scientists simply aren't around anymore. As for the Russians being technologically backwards is ridiculous. They have economic problems now, but they were the leaders in space exploration having had practically every major "first" e.g. first animal in space, first man in space, first woman in space, first spacewalk, etc., and "longest" e.g. longest time in space, longest mission in space etc., records in space exploration except for the first lunar landing by a man. If anything hinders space exploration it's economics i.e. how much does one wish to put into their space budget. Even when the Americans landed the first man on the Moon, there was an outcry by some Americans that the money spent on the "uselessness" of the lunar mission could have been better used on social programs within the United States. The same outcry can still be heard today within the States whenever the NASA budget comes into question, especially when missions such as the Phobos probes or an Apollo 1 or Challenger shuttle incident happens.
I concur fully with Peter, what we really need is a much cheaper way of getting stuff into orbit. This means an other type of fuel and engine. The rockets of today are actually nothing more then a more sophisticated version of what the Chinese already had a 1000 years ago : fire works...
05-15-00, 12:33 PM
Peter, you got me. Re-reading my posts and your reply does make me feel stupid. First successful Russian moon sample return (Luna 16) was in 1970 - http://www.friends-partners.org/~mwade/project/luna.htm And you are right about deep space operations being qualitatively different from near-earth one. I do, however, disagree with you on two points.
One, Russian technical superiority. I guess you have to define "superiority". Russians successes in space (and many other areas) were not due to great technology, but sheer guts, determination, and philosphy "if it works, don't waste time trying to improve it". When something failed, they did not form congressional comittees - they fixed it and went on. Once a Soyuz last stage failed, and the capsule with two cosmonauts landed in Mongolia without reaching orbit. Next manned flight from Bailonur was 21 days later. (I will find a link when I can). Can you imagine something like that ever happening in US? If any manned American spacecraft did an emergency landing, NASA would be lucky to launch again in a year. 21 days would not be enough to appoint a blue-ribbon panel.
So in a way, Russian technololgy IS superior - because it works. SL-4 is the most reliable booster in the world. It is also essentially unchanged since 1960. But you won't get into deep space on the "tried and true". Russians never even attempted a probe beyond Mars.
As for "throwing away the tool", I was exaggerating, but not much. Space program was cut around 1970, and I a lot of experienced engineers were laid off - both from NASA and from its contractors. They were no longer there to pass their expertise to the younger ones. I am not saying they had to go on welfare, but wantonly losing a skill set is no different from throwing away a perfectly working tool.
I'm jumping in kind of late, but what the heck.
I am not disgusted with the notion of using Russia's consolation prize to go back to the moon. Our eventual plan is to land a man on Mars, but first we have to know better what we are facing on Mars. The little skateboard on steroids we sent there is great for its achievement, but it's use is limited. By using the moon as a sort of training ground for robots, we can cut costs on an already severely cut space program. It's a lot more cost-effective to send robots than people, and a lot less painful to us back on Earth when one of them gets sucked into the cold vaccuum of space. Plus, you don't have to pay robots hazard pay, pump their craft with oxygen, plan for food, etc.
05-29-00, 09:34 PM
Actually it would make space exploration ALOT more economically feasable to launch from the moon. Much less gravity to counter, therfore much less cost. Most of the cost involved in space travel is just getting off earth. Reduce those costs and space travel maybe accessable to anyone that wants to see it. Imagine the scale of exploration and projects if the mission was based on the moon. You could build massive vehicles already in space, not worry about structural limitations needed for atmospheric re-entry, you could even get the fuel from the moon (I think they've found water didn't they?).
05-30-00, 01:49 AM
Gerald Bull designed a huge gun that was capable of launching payload into orbit at a fraction of the cost of the Shuutle. But do we really need to go to the moon? First we should fix this rotting planet - ie: end poverty, cure AIDs, etc etc. That is what discusts me.
"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who' if we wins' knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid sould who know neither victory nor defeat."
-"The Man in the Arena"
IN APRIL 1961 RUSSIA PTU THE FIRST MAN ON SPACE, THE FIRST MEN FLOATING IN SPACE WAS ALEXIS LEONOV, THE FIRST WOMAN IN SPACE WAS TERECHKOVA, THE BEST SPACE STATIONS WERE RUSSIANS, LIKE MIR, SALYUT, VENUS WAS " CONQUERED ", BY RUSSIA, THE MOON MET MANY RUSSIAN PROBES AND THEY WEREN`T ANY CONSOLOATION PRIZES, THEY PROBABLY FAILED ON MARS WITH PHOBOS AND MARS 3 AN 6 PROBES, BUT WE CANNOT CALL RETRO TO THE RUSSIANS NEVER THEIR TECHNOLOGY IS DIFERENT THAN THE AMERICAN TECH BUT ALSO CAPABLE. ABOUT THE MOON WE HAVE TO GO BACK ITS ESSENCIAL TO A FUTURE SPACE EXPLORATION, SPECIALLY BECAUSE IT WOULD REDUCE COASTS IN LAUNCH VEHICLES, THERE IS NO ATMOSPHERE AND SO ONE REASONS WE WELL KNOW, ABOUT COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA ITS IMPORTANT IT HAPPEN, NOT ONLY WITH RUSSIA BUT THE REST OF EUROPE, THE COASTS ARE TO EXPENSIVE TO ONE SOLE COUNTRY EVEN BEING THIS COUNTRY USA ... THIS WAS LARGELY DEFEND BY CARL SAGAN AND MANY OTHERS.
WE HAVE TO THING ABOUT TOMORROW, TSIOLKOLVSKY SAID ONCE " EARTH IS THE CRADLE OF MAN BUT NO ONE SPENT HIS LIFE IN A CRADLE "
06-07-00, 02:38 AM
Asimov - do you know where the caps lock key is? Please?