Author Topic: Going to the Moon an Aberration in Spaceflight  (Read 22495 times)

Offline Rocket Science

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Going to the Moon an Aberration in Spaceflight
« on: 06/09/2011 01:49 pm »
Reading through the various forums and the debate with which launcher to go with, which mission to go with and which destination to go to, leaves out the basic question. Was going to the Moon a normal progression in spaceflight 40 years ago or an aberration? Using the logic of the Cold War in technical supremacy does not meet the acid test today. I, as many, would love to go back to the Moon and on to Mars. Technical challenges aside, how realistic is this today in our fiscal and political reality. There is no urgency to “beat the other guys, we’re the best” mind set. America functions better in a competitive environment. Absent of this, what is going to urge the country on a commitment?
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Offline Jim Davis

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Re: Going to the Moon an Aberration in Spaceflight
« Reply #1 on: 06/09/2011 02:22 pm »
Was going to the Moon a normal progression in spaceflight 40 years ago or an aberration?

It's been almost 40 years without men on the moon. I think that's strong evidence that Apollo was an aberration.

Offline yamato

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Re: Going to the Moon an Aberration in Spaceflight
« Reply #2 on: 06/09/2011 02:24 pm »
Competition always shows to be better than "cooperation" (monopoly). ISS was to be a showroom of cooperation, and it resulted into the most expensive and delayed piece of hardware ever flown. Advantage of cooperation was greatly overcomed by disadvantage of administration, needed just to cooperate.
So I believe we´ll never fly anywhere beyond LEO, unless there´s some serious competition. It doesn´t need to be nation against nation, it can be company against company (for prestige, marketing, paying passengers etc.) If the commercial crew market is lucrative enough, I believe these companies would try to show their supremacy.

Offline Bill White

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Re: Going to the Moon an Aberration in Spaceflight
« Reply #3 on: 06/09/2011 02:48 pm »
Competition always shows to be better than "cooperation" (monopoly). ISS was to be a showroom of cooperation, and it resulted into the most expensive and delayed piece of hardware ever flown. Advantage of cooperation was greatly overcomed by disadvantage of administration, needed just to cooperate.
So I believe we´ll never fly anywhere beyond LEO, unless there´s some serious competition. It doesn´t need to be nation against nation, it can be company against company (for prestige, marketing, paying passengers etc.) If the commercial crew market is lucrative enough, I believe these companies would try to show their supremacy.

First, competition and cooperation are always and necessarily opposite sides of the same coin.

Teams that cooperate well will routinely beat the snot out of teams that do not cooperate well.

The reason US Navy SEAL teams are so "BA" when facing other military forces is the high level of cooperation and selflessness that exists within the team.

A US Navy aircraft carrier operates with an extraordinary degree of internal cooperation and is thereby able to out-compete every other naval force on the planet.

What matters is the level of observation and the recognition that cooperation and competition are like the positive and negative components of an electrical circuit.

We need both.

Second, I very much agree that competition between nation-states is at the wrong level of organization if the objective is robust human spaceflight and eventually settlement of space. 

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 was established precisely because the national benefits of robust competition in claiming sovereignty over extra-terrestrial locations are very much less that the costs of the terrestrial conflict such a space race would impose on those same nations.

That said, I would very much like to see (for example) Nike sponsored space exploration compete vigorously against Adidas sponsored space exploration.
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Offline Bill White

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Re: Going to the Moon an Aberration in Spaceflight
« Reply #4 on: 06/09/2011 02:50 pm »
Rocket Science, beyond LEO is there any place better than the Moon to go to, first?

IF you are saying there are no good reasons for humans to go beyond LEO, THEN I would say there are no good reasons for humans to be in LEO.

Whether nation-states are the best actors to do space exploration and space settlement is another question altogether.
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Going to the Moon an Aberration in Spaceflight
« Reply #5 on: 06/09/2011 03:14 pm »
Rocket Science, beyond LEO is there any place better than the Moon to go to, first?

IF you are saying there are no good reasons for humans to go beyond LEO, THEN I would say there are no good reasons for humans to be in LEO.

Whether nation-states are the best actors to do space exploration and space settlement is another question altogether.
Hi Bill!
I want to go to all destinations.:) Let’s think back... We went from first flight, to jet aircraft in 40 years driven by WWII. Then from jet aircraft to orbital flight less than 20 years driven by the Cold War. The Moon landing was the high ground taken in that war in less than ten years that followed. So, in the absence of a war footing, what will drive spaceflight?
Regards
Robert
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Offline sdsds

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Re: Going to the Moon an Aberration in Spaceflight
« Reply #6 on: 06/09/2011 03:59 pm »
My hunch is that national prestige will continue to be the primary driver of crewed space exploration for many more decades, if not centuries.  The post-Apollo generation of Americans has lived life entirely in a world where, in their minds at least, the spaceflight leadership of the United States has been unquestioned.  Once STS is retired that generation, now fully adult and capable of making such decisions, will determine whether the United States will relinquish spaceflight leadership, and if not whether NASA will have much of a role in maintaining it.

FWIW I feel NASA could use the SLS/MPCV+MM approach to send astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit, and thereby keep itself at least a little bit relevant.  But if an Orion with mission module never gets out of LEO, the crewed spacecraft of some other nation's space program eventually will.
« Last Edit: 06/09/2011 04:00 pm by sdsds »
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Offline IsaacKuo

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Re: Going to the Moon an Aberration in Spaceflight
« Reply #7 on: 06/09/2011 04:13 pm »
So, in the absence of a war footing, what will drive spaceflight?

Improvements in technology--especially improvements in robotic technology.  The big turning point was Voyager.  A manned mission couldn't hope to accomplish what Voyager did.

Since Voyager, we have plunged a probe into Jupiter's atmosphere and landed a probe on Titan.  We're seriously considering the first ships and submarines in space (on Titan and in Europa).  We're still breaking ground!

Offline clongton

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Re: Going to the Moon an Aberration in Spaceflight
« Reply #8 on: 06/09/2011 06:08 pm »
So, in the absence of a war footing, what will drive spaceflight?
Regards
Robert

Business men and women such as Elon Musk, Paul Allen, Robert Bigelow and Richard Branson, with a dream and enough cash, will do it with or without government backing. It may be a slow trickle at first, but from the likes of such enterprises, commercial business cases will emerge and within 100 years I believe corporate spacecraft of all kinds will be commonplace in cis-lunar space. We need to kick NASA out of the LEO business and leave it to the commercial concerns leaving government spaceflight to pave the way beyond the moon into the solar system where the rest of us can follow. Think Lewis and Clark vs. the thousands of opportunity seekers that followed in their path. And if we are very lucky (I'm engaging in wishful thinking), the beyond Lunar exploration will be done by multinational comglomerates, not nations.
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Going to the Moon an Aberration in Spaceflight
« Reply #9 on: 06/09/2011 08:59 pm »
Fair enough, but I don't think the folks that frequent this site want to wait 100 years...:)
« Last Edit: 06/09/2011 08:59 pm by Rocket Science »
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Online hop

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Re: Going to the Moon an Aberration in Spaceflight
« Reply #10 on: 06/09/2011 09:37 pm »
Think Lewis and Clark vs. the thousands of opportunity seekers that followed in their path.
Difference: There were obviously fortunes to be made, and the up front costs for the opportunity seekers were easily within the reach of individuals. Expansion west might have been slower without Lewis and Clark, but it still would have happened.
Quote
And if we are very lucky (I'm engaging in wishful thinking), the beyond Lunar exploration will be done by multinational comglomerates, not nations.
Definitely wishful thinking. Multinationals don't go until there is a solid business case, and there isn't one. Rich playboys like Musk and Bigalow burning their personal fortunes is not a substitute, although there is a (very slim IMO) chance that doing so will enable a real business case.

Re the OP:
Apollo and the early space race were definitely an aberration: The obvious difference is the competition between the US and USSR, but IMO there's subtler but more important reason it will not be repeated:

In the 50s and 60s, it was reasonable to assume that the development of space flight would follow a path similar that of aircraft 50 years earlier.

Under that assumption, extravagant ventures like Apollo were a sound investment. If Vostok is the Wright flyer, you damn well better keep up with the Jones because in 40 years you're going to need B-17s and Spitfires. Naturally, you expect crew to do all the important stuff, just as they have in every previous human venture: Crewed reconnaissance platforms, defended by crewed fighters, supported by crewed communications stations in GEO and so on. With all those people going to and from space, exploring, exploiting and eventually settling other bodies will follow naturally.

Reasonable assumptions, but things turned out differently. Automation got a lot easier and putting things in space continued to be expensive and difficult. If Vostok was the Wright flyer, we never made it past the Blériot XI. Instead of being the cornerstone of space operations, crew turned out to be little more than a very expensive side show. Regardless of politicians public statements, space faring governments fund accordingly.

Offline sdsds

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Re: Going to the Moon an Aberration in Spaceflight
« Reply #11 on: 06/10/2011 12:34 am »
Think Lewis and Clark vs. the thousands of opportunity seekers that followed in their path.
Difference: There were obviously fortunes to be made, and the up front costs for the opportunity seekers were easily within the reach of individuals. Expansion west might have been slower without Lewis and Clark, but it still would have happened.

The Lewis and Clark expedition is a fine historical reference.  On behalf of their government they made it to the West coast not too long after the hunters and trappers and other entrepreneurs of European descent did.  ;-)

For those early, non-settling exploiters of nature's abundance, the lure of the West was that of the wild frontier -- they could live off the land without reliance on society as they extracted resources to sell eastward.  The frontier of space doesn't provide much in the way of living off the land....
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Offline neutrino78x

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Re: Going to the Moon an Aberration in Spaceflight
« Reply #12 on: 06/10/2011 04:59 am »
The frontier of space doesn't provide much in the way of living off the land....

Sure it does, ISRU!!! :)


Offline aquanaut99

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Re: Going to the Moon an Aberration in Spaceflight
« Reply #13 on: 06/10/2011 05:57 am »
IF you are saying there are no good reasons for humans to go beyond LEO, THEN I would say there are no good reasons for humans to be in LEO.

Put that way, I'd have to say human spaceflight is an aberration. It serves no purpose other than national prestige, and it was started due to national prestige (Cold War Space Race, with Apollo merely being the pinnacle).

Don't believe me? Why does China launch taikonauts? National prestige ("we're as good as the US"). Why did Russia keep its human spaceflight program despite all the difficulties of the 1990s? National prestige ("at least we still have a little bit of Soviet glory that survived, even though we lost Europe and the Cold War"). Why did the US carry on with human spaceflight after Apollo (and Challenger and Columbia)? National Prestige ("Giving up now shows the world that we are in decline, that our best years are behind us", as Nixon said). Why does India want to launch astronauts? National prestige ("the Chinese did it, so we have to, too").

Consider this: If the Cold War had not taken place, then there might not have been any human spaceflight at all. For commercial space applications (Weather satellites, comsats, GPS and so forth, where the money's at) do not require human presence in space at all. Neither does scientific exploration (Viking, Voyager, Pathfinder, Gallileo, Cassini...)

Now, do I want human spaceflight to end? Of course not. Just like I don't want the Olympic Games to end (even though they serve no real purpose other than costing a lot of money). There, I've said it. Human Spaceflight is best compared to the Olympic Games (or the FIFA World Cup or somesuch). Unfortunately, it is a lot less sucessful in marketing...

Online Comga

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Re: Going to the Moon an Aberration in Spaceflight
« Reply #14 on: 06/10/2011 06:04 am »
The frontier of space doesn't provide much in the way of living off the land....

Sure it does, ISRU!!! :)

On Earth, you can eat wild plants and drink from a stream.
You can't eat a Moon rock. You can't even get it to your mouth.
ISRU would be a significant industrial process.  It is different, not analogous.  Not the point in this discussion.
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Going to the Moon an Aberration in Spaceflight
« Reply #15 on: 06/10/2011 07:20 pm »
My hunch is that national prestige will continue to be the primary driver of crewed space exploration for many more decades, if not centuries.  The post-Apollo generation of Americans has lived life entirely in a world where, in their minds at least, the spaceflight leadership of the United States has been unquestioned.  Once STS is retired that generation, now fully adult and capable of making such decisions, will determine whether the United States will relinquish spaceflight leadership, and if not whether NASA will have much of a role in maintaining it.

FWIW I feel NASA could use the SLS/MPCV+MM approach to send astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit, and thereby keep itself at least a little bit relevant.  But if an Orion with mission module never gets out of LEO, the crewed spacecraft of some other nation's space program eventually will.
Lets say another nation, eg. China, plants their flag on the Moon. How do you think America will respond? My feeling will be nothing, I'm sorry to say... Even Gen. Bolden thinks it's no big deal. Apollo 11 happened before most of the U.S. population was born, so it's not even within the collective memory (U.S. median age 35.3 years). This apathy would just be another example of a nation in decline...

http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/weekly/aa051801a.htm

« Last Edit: 06/10/2011 07:29 pm by Rocket Science »
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Offline Patchouli

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Re: Going to the Moon an Aberration in Spaceflight
« Reply #16 on: 06/10/2011 08:19 pm »
My hunch is that national prestige will continue to be the primary driver of crewed space exploration for many more decades, if not centuries.  The post-Apollo generation of Americans has lived life entirely in a world where, in their minds at least, the spaceflight leadership of the United States has been unquestioned.  Once STS is retired that generation, now fully adult and capable of making such decisions, will determine whether the United States will relinquish spaceflight leadership, and if not whether NASA will have much of a role in maintaining it.

FWIW I feel NASA could use the SLS/MPCV+MM approach to send astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit, and thereby keep itself at least a little bit relevant.  But if an Orion with mission module never gets out of LEO, the crewed spacecraft of some other nation's space program eventually will.
Lets say another nation, eg. China, plants their flag on the Moon. How do you think America will respond? My feeling will be nothing, I'm sorry to say... Even Gen. Bolden thinks it's no big deal. Apollo 11 happened before most of the U.S. population was born, so it's not even within the collective memory (U.S. median age 35.3 years). This apathy would just be another example of a nation in decline...

http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/weekly/aa051801a.htm



The US would panic and upstage China.

There likely would be Apollo level funding even in this recession the US economy is still much larger then it was in the 1960s so yes it can afford it.

Just need someone to be brave enough and shut down dumb and wasteful stuff like the war on drugs and DHS both of which are complete failures.

But over all I I'd say Apollo was not an aberration as eventually private entities will go to the moon.

The reason would be as diverse as tourism to mining PMGs.

Second we have had very poor leadership the past few decades and misplace priorities.
A few examples of misplaced priorities.
The war on drugs vs anti drug use education and treatment for addicts.
Fighting pointless oil wars in the middle east vs develop domestic energy sources.
Dumping billions into government security agents that perform worse then the private companies did for a threat that over all is about equal to being kill by insect stings and half as likely as being shot on accident by police or slipping in the shower.
I give the government leaders a D- grade for their performance the past 20 years.

If launch cost are reduced by a factor of five it would be profitable and desirable to get platinum group metals from the moon or NEOs vs rip up the rainforests or the Ocean floor for them.

Besides ripping up the rainforest and making a mess of the ocean floor would pretty much be suicide for our species.
« Last Edit: 06/10/2011 08:27 pm by Patchouli »

Offline M_Puckett

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Re: Going to the Moon an Aberration in Spaceflight
« Reply #17 on: 06/10/2011 08:23 pm »
I think it happening so early was an abberation.  Landing on the moon is simply a natural progression.

I would much rather we landed in 1980 in a sustainable way instead of the way we did in 1969.

Offline aquanaut99

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Re: Going to the Moon an Aberration in Spaceflight
« Reply #18 on: 06/10/2011 08:27 pm »

The US would panic and upstage China.

There likely would be Apollo level funding even in this recession the US economy is still much larger then it was in the 1960s so yes it can afford it.


Sorry, but I'm with Rocket Science on this one.

I, too, believe the US would not really care. And, assuredly, there will NOT be an Apollo-type budget (5% of Govt spending), even if China claimed the moon.

Also, your reasoning is incomplete. While the current US economy (in recession) may be larger than it was in the 1960s in absolute terms, the fact is that we also have much more spending (on welfare and other social stuff). Per capita, in true adjusted purchasing power, the USA is poorer today than it was back then, and growing poorer still. This will probably get worse in future as resource costs continue to rise while the productive segment of society continues to decline (with the retirement of the baby-boomers and the influx of unskilled immigrants).

We quite simply could not afford another Apollo, even if the political will for it were around (which isn't the case). We'll be lucky if the country doesn't go bankrupt in the next few years (if it does, NASA is unlikely to survive).
« Last Edit: 06/10/2011 08:29 pm by aquanaut99 »

Offline Patchouli

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Re: Going to the Moon an Aberration in Spaceflight
« Reply #19 on: 06/10/2011 08:35 pm »

The US would panic and upstage China.

There likely would be Apollo level funding even in this recession the US economy is still much larger then it was in the 1960s so yes it can afford it.


Sorry, but I'm with Rocket Science on this one.

I, too, believe the US would not really care. And, assuredly, there will NOT be an Apollo-type budget (5% of Govt spending), even if China claimed the moon.

Also, your reasoning is incomplete. While the current US economy (in recession) may be larger than it was in the 1960s in absolute terms, the fact is that we also have much more spending (on welfare and other social stuff). Per capita, in true adjusted purchasing power, the USA is poorer today than it was back then, and growing poorer still. This will probably get worse in future as resource costs continue to rise while the productive segment of society continues to decline (with the retirement of the baby-boomers and the influx of unskilled immigrants).

We quite simply could not afford another Apollo, even if the political will for it were around (which isn't the case). We'll be lucky if the country doesn't go bankrupt in the next few years (if it does, NASA is unlikely to survive).

You are too negative.

As for immigrants the country was founded by immigrants just educate them.

Other things decriminalize drugs and tax them.
It costs $32,000 a year to house someone in a state prison you could send some one to MIT for that kind of cash.
Put someone in prison for a drug habit we all suffer and they never get cured of their habit.

Oil from coal is profitable at $45 a barrel and switch grass produces 5 times the ethanol per acre corn does.
For what we wasted in Iraq we could have had full energy independence.

This is why I give our leadership a D- all the present problems are easily solved if people would stop using their brains as a door stops and simply make obvious and logical decisions.

The US would panic and upstage China.

There likely would be Apollo level funding even in this recession the US economy is still much larger then it was in the 1960s so yes it can afford it.


Sorry, but I'm with Rocket Science on this one.

I, too, believe the US would not really care. And, assuredly, there will NOT be an Apollo-type budget (5% of Govt spending), even if China claimed the moon.

Also, your reasoning is incomplete. While the current US economy (in recession) may be larger than it was in the 1960s in absolute terms, the fact is that we also have much more spending (on welfare and other social stuff). Per capita, in true adjusted purchasing power, the USA is poorer today than it was back then, and growing poorer still. This will probably get worse in future as resource costs continue to rise while the productive segment of society continues to decline (with the retirement of the baby-boomers and the influx of unskilled immigrants).

We quite simply could not afford another Apollo, even if the political will for it were around (which isn't the case). We'll be lucky if the country doesn't go bankrupt in the next few years (if it does, NASA is unlikely to survive).

You are too negative.
If people had that kind of mindset in WWII we'd all be speaking German.

As for immigrants the country was founded by immigrants just educate them.

Other things decriminalize drugs and tax them.
It costs $32,000 a year to house someone in a state prison you could send some one to MIT for that kind of cash.
Put someone in prison for a drug habit we all suffer and they never get cured of their habit.

Oil from coal is profitable at $45 a barrel and switch grass produces 5 times the ethanol per acre corn does.
For what we wasted in Iraq we could have had full energy independence.

This is why I give our leadership a D- all the present problems are easily solved if people would stop using their brains as a door stops and simply make obvious and logical decisions.
« Last Edit: 06/10/2011 08:37 pm by Patchouli »

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