January 27, 2010

Apparently, I stand alone among conservative bloggers...

... appreciating the conservatism of Obama's decision to decline to stamp new human bootprints into the face of the moon.

77 comments:

Original Mike said...

Apparently, Edroso didn't get that you were kidding.

Petrov said...

Darn! No reason to tell my boys to go into engineering. So much for research and development. China and India will be leading our species into the next century.

Smilin' Jack said...

At least O is extending the life of the International Space Station, so that stalwart pioneers of the Final Frontier can spend the next decade going round and round and round in the upper atmosphere, where their greatest achievement will be dodging the space junk left behind by all the previous "explorers."

D. B. Light said...

You're not alone, Ann. The manned Space Program has been a boondoggle from the start. There are plenty of things for engineers to do other than shoot for the moon. And why should we assume that engineers will be in the vanguard of our species?

Balfegor said...

You're not alone, Ann. The manned Space Program has been a boondoggle from the start. There are plenty of things for engineers to do other than shoot for the moon.

Yes, wouldn't the Trojan Lagrange libration points be a better target? Those O'Neill cylinders won't build themselves, you know.

Brian Hancock said...

I disagree with you on this Ann. The moon was going to be the trial for a possible trip to Mars. It may be another generation or two before we try again.

ricpic said...

...stepping on the face of the moon.

I call Althouse for anthropomorphicizingizing the moon.

traditionalguy said...

The answer is easy. A group of the settled scientists from east Anglia can report to Obama that all scientists agree that a little grading here and there on the moon will create a permanent smiley face of Obama in place of the Man in the Moon visible during full moons. It can be funded as Crop Circles in Space needed to increase crop yields in reaction to the his charming smile beaming down upon earth.

ricpic said...

China and India won't be leading no one nowhere in the future. Heck, they can't even clean the feces off their streets.

SteveR said...

Gee I've only been coming to this blog for about 6 years, and I'm just now informed its a conservative blog.

rhhardin said...

Libration points form huge dust bunnies, if you don't clean for a few years.

Trooper York said...

It's a conservation blog.

Dedicated to the conservation of loons.

A not endangered species. So to speak.

Mary said...

I think you're also the only conservative who voted for Barack Obama, too.

(Just checking: you're gonna stick with the conservatism thing now that you're a married lady, right? No more jumping on the bandwagon and voting with the kids to ... make history, right?)

Lem said...

Some of the arguments from the pro-exploration side.

If done in a cost-effective manner such as Mars Direct, human exploration of Mars can be accomplished easily under the existing NASA budget -- which currently accounts for less than 1% of federal discretionary spending.
A total mission cost of $30 billion, when spread out over the 20 years envisioned by Mars Direct (10 years to first flight, 10 years afterwards during which five missions are flown), represents approximately 10% of the $300 billion NASA budget for that time frame (based upon current annual funding levels of $15 billion)
.

Comrade X said...

the bootprint would tend to last forever!

Peter V. Bella said...

It's all for the common good. NASA will be tasked with climate crisis. Al Gore is rubbing his hands together over all those billion dollar contracts he and his fat cat friends are going to get.

From one waste of money to another. They know no bounds.

Synova said...

The article did say that some other project was going to be trying to skip the moon and head for asteroids, which is at least as expensive and lots of people would like a lot.

But the way it was all presented sure made it sound like putting the breaks on the space program.

Of course, if the US is not on the Moon, then I guess the real estate is up for grabs.

I tend to like the notion of making even the initial trips to Mars, one-way. Plan that from the start. Plan to go and stay.

Florida said...

"Apparently, I stand alone ..."

No, Ann ... you're just the only one who fell for it.

The moon is a lifeless rock with nothing of value on it. There's only one reason to have a "moon mission" in the budget.

And that's so, at any opportune moment, you can "cut" the budget by eliminating that mission.

Look ... it requires no actual dollars be spent to announce a mission to the moon ... and to "fund" it with a $1 trillion "budget." That's just numbers printed on a piece of paper ... not actual dollars spent.

As long as no progress is ever made on that mission and no real funds are actually spent, the President can "cut" the budget any time he wants by eliminating the "moon mission."

Pretty soon (probably in the 2011 State of the Union message) Barack Obama will announce he wants a man on Mars by the end of 2030.

Then, a budget will be created. No serious money will ever be allocated, but the "Mars mission" will be available for the President to cut from the budget when the going gets tough and he needs to look like he's damn sick and tired of all the spending he's been ordering.

Don't be a Dorothy, Ann.

It's all smoke and mirrors and there's a little man behind the curtain.

john said...

The moon a boondoggle? - absolutely.

But cancelling this program will not save any money. The space budget will merely be reapportioned into more meaningful and relevent NASA endeavors, much closer to the president's vision.

Synova said...

brakes

egad

Freeman Hunt said...

Whoever wrote that column can't read. There is no cutting of a big ticket item, they're just going to use the money on other things. Like monitoring climate change.

Windbag said...

We will never colonize the moon or the bottom of the ocean. The resources necessary to sustain life far exceeds the benefit. I have to admit I'm with Obama on this one. Why waste valuable resources to tromp around somewhere we've already been and abandoned?

wv = lolwata

e.g. LOL!! Wata joke this administration has turned out to be!

john said...

Gees, Freeman.

garage mahal said...

If God didn't appreciate the Tower of Babel, it's hard to imagine He would appreciate space exploration.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Freeman Hunt: There is no cutting of a big ticket item, they're just going to use the money on other things. Like monitoring climate change.

I don't want my tax money spent on something boring. Nobody sits in front of their TV waiting for the latest climate change data to come out. If they wont spend it on rockets to the moon they should just give it back. And considering all the scandals that have been popping up recently with the climate change crowd I don't see how giving THEM more money is responsible.

Trooper York said...

Of course you stand alone. You are from Wisconsin.

That's what the cheese does!

Freeman Hunt said...

In case I gave the wrong impression, see the other moon thread for my thoughts on this.

I am 100% against cutting the Ares moon program. I think we should spend MORE money on space exploration.

And I think it's quintessentially Obama to want to spend more money on making up bullshit data to further the climate change agenda.

john said...

Freeman -

In case I gave the wrong impression (john@5:34), I pre-agree with you.

Freeman Hunt said...

How Far We've Come

But hey, let's just stop there. We should just work on enslaving all people to government entities.

BJM said...

Althouse: "Apparently, I stand alone..."

That's one small step for Althouse, one giant leap for nutroots.

Theo Boehm said...

Well, the U. of East Anglia thing hasn't worked out too well. Flakey amateurs, easily screwed by the Russians.

But who's going to doubt NASA when they provide firm scientific data that the world is roasting, and it's all our fault? The Russians can't mess with our heads this time. No, this is for real, and for the long term.

That's one small step for bad science. One giant leap for all-encompassing world control.

garage mahal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Synova said...

That's an awesome picture, Freeman.

garage mahal said...

I don't understand the conservative fascination with spending billions on lifeless deserts. The moon is already full of craters, you'd think that one wouldn't be any fun.

Bruce Hayden said...

But who's going to doubt NASA when they provide firm scientific data that the world is roasting, and it's all our fault? The Russians can't mess with our heads this time. No, this is for real, and for the long term.

Except that they are already involved in the plot to "prove" AGW. The problem that we have seen is that the NASA data apparently needs to be recalibrated, and that is done using the three main models that are so incestuously maintained. So, if you look at NASA's actual data, you wouldn't think that there was any GW, but after it has been recalibrated, their model looks just like everyone else's - which is should, since it is calibrated using the other models.

Mark said...

But Ann, you're not a Conservative. You're much more closely aligned with the libertarian mindset.

Capital-L Libertarians hated the original moon program, I believe. And currently they'd privatize everything space-related anyway. (I'm not far from that at this point.)

Your blog seems to attract a lot of small-L libertarians who actually aren't against privatized "Stop" signs. Or, for that matter, approve of the government handling big-ticket projects that Bill Gates couldn't just pay for. (Wars, the TVA, etc.)

Governments are lousy at solving problems; they can be pretty effective at conducting big projects.

Personally, I want humanity to have a solid foothold in space ASAP. If Yosemite goes like it's capable of (and by the geological clock, it's about due) then self-supporting humans in space may be the only ones to survive (or at least retain civilization.)

The moon is a first step. Mars the second. The real salvation will be in the asteroid belt and the gas giant moons. No, it's not conservative to think like that. But if you pay attention to long-term risks to humanity, it is the properly progressive outlook.

Sofa King said...

Moon, shmoon. Don't care all that much myself.

But zounds, we're not JUST talking about the moon here! We're talking about the U.S. having no capacity whatsoever to launch men into space. The shuttle is retiring and THIS WAS the replacement!

This isn't just cancelling the moon mission. This is cancelling manned spaceflight, period.

Mark said...

By the way, whatever happened to "we do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard" outlook?

littlebeartoe said...

Why do we send humans into space?

Sofa King said...

Why do we send humans into space?

1. To do science.
2. To fix things that are broken, like Hubble.
3. Experience

Balfegor said...

The moon is a first step. Mars the second. The real salvation will be in the asteroid belt and the gas giant moons. No, it's not conservative to think like that. But if you pay attention to long-term risks to humanity, it is the properly progressive outlook.

Well, it does combine two conservative tropes, namely pessimism and Man's dominion over nature. That said, I think we're a ways away from having the technology to develop self-sustaining environments in space --I suppose plant growth and cell culture in microgravity environments is the kind of thing the ISS crew ought to be doing, but I have no idea whether they're actually doing that or not. The last I saw, they were making paper airplanes and videotaping them, or something.

Maguro said...

Manned spaceflight doesn't do anything for me. I'd rather see more resources devoted to unmanned probes to places like the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. You really gvet more scientific bang for your buck with unmanned missions.

Synova said...

"If Yosemite goes like it's capable of (and by the geological clock, it's about due) then self-supporting humans in space may be the only ones to survive (or at least retain civilization.)"

What being in space would give us, should Yosemite go, is a foot-hold above the clouds of soot and ash that could hold in the atmosphere for years. It might give us access to solar power. It might give us the vantage point to do something to speed the process of getting the dust back down to the ground, though I don't know what. It would certainly increase our options.

Bruce Hayden said...

I view this whole thing as an indictment of Big Government. In retrospect, we haven't been back to the moon for better than 30 years because NASA went with the Space Shuttle, which was effectively obsolete by the time it flew its first mission. It was supposed to save a lot of money by being recyclable. It hasn't. We probably would have done a lot better doing as the Russians did, using rockets instead.

Think about how well the X-Prize went, with Space Ship One getting (barely) into space twice within 10 days or so, for a tiny fraction of the NASA budget for one year. Branson and Virgin have apparently bought in, and will be providing commercial trips (barely) into space within a year or two. And compare this to the Space Shuttle that has cost hundreds, if not thousands, of times more. Imagine what these pioneers could do if they had the Shuttle budget.

john said...

"If Yosemite goes like it's capable of"?

Don't you mean Yellowstone?

I hate it, 'cause I'm always mixing up those two national parks (both beginning with "y" and all, and Wyoming is almost California). The trick is to use mnenomics to keep them straight: Think of buffalo, then relate it to yellow (because there are no buffalo in Yosemite, and that's the color they pee). Works for me. You may have to develop your own trick.

Bruce Hayden said...

Why go to the moon again (besides beating the Chinese and Indians back there)?

One reason is that a permanent moon base is probably necessary before we can be self-sustaining in space. It is just too expensive to ship the materials into space from the Earth's gravity well that are needed to make a permanent self-sustaining habitat in space. The Moon's gravity well is much smaller, and we don't have to worry about atmospheric friction either.

Plus, energy costs would eventually be much smaller on the Moon than on the Earth. Solar radiation is not limited by the atmosphere. Nuclear power plants are also much easier there, once you get the fuel. Who really cares if a nuclear reactor melts down somewhere in the Moon (not that that is all that likely).

And what can you do with all that power? One thing is to get stuff into orbit - all those materials that need to get from the bottom of a gravity well into space. Mass drivers work much better there than here, for one thing.

Sure, we can also get a lot of the stuff we need in space from asteroids. This is esp. true for water (and thus O2). But getting out that far, and then being able to get the materials back to Earth orbit, is beyond us right now - though once we do get out there, steering asteroids back to Earth orbit may be a viable use for our and the Russian nuclear arsenals.

Far fetched? Probably. Feasible? Definitely, esp. if we don't use the bloated NASA bureaucracy.

Bruce Hayden said...

Don't you mean Yellowstone?

Yeh, I think that park is much more problematic. Much of the park is in one huge volcano crater, one of the biggest on Earth, and the geysers and hot springs are evidence that it isn't going to stay volcanically inactive forever.

Mark said...

John, thanks.

Yes, I meant Yellowstone. But that's just one thing that could end civilization. It's a mean old universe out there, and taking it for granted is a no-no.

Still, this messenger should do a better job of not screwing up an important factoid during delivery.

James H said...

The bi partisan agreement on axing Space programs is depressing. What a lack of vision

I wonder how many realize that on this day of celebration is the day we lost three American heros in 1967

My generation waht a lack of vision

Balfegor said...

One reason is that a permanent moon base is probably necessary before we can be self-sustaining in space.

That's probably true as far as it goes but I'd guess we're going to need an artificial gravity environment of some sort (a Stanford torus or something) to be truly self-sustaining. Given all the bone conditions astronauts apparently develop in low gravity environments, I expect fetal and infant development would be severely adversely affected by the weak lunar gravity. We'll have to return to an earthlike gravitational environment to spawn. Like futuristic salmon, I suppose.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I blame the Prime Directive.

I mean really, what's the point of exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations; and boldly going where no man has gone before, if you can't have any fun once you get there?

Marco Polo. Christopher Columbus. Ferdinand Magellan. Do you think any of them would have even bothered to get out of bed in the morning if they had to follow the Prime Directive?

Elliott A said...

The original apollo program was the only large scale program ever undertaken by the federal government which did three very important things.

1. Accomplished the objective despite incredible odds.

2. Returned more real dollars to the economy than was spent.

3. Was directly responsible for the revolution in technology

Had the stimulus money been appropriated for manned space exploration, we would have burgeoning industries, a growing economy and a frontier which is essential to our national psyche. Instead, we will be hitching rides from Indians and be an afterthought as a country by the end of this century

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Seriously, the point of the space program must be self sustaining human colonies. However, it seems to me that the best way to achieve that is not through manned space missions. We would be better to develop robotic technology to the point where we can send a group of robots to Mars and let them build all of the infrastructure. There's no reason to send people until there's shelter and systems to provide air, water, and food.

Michael McNeil said...

Yellowstone is the megavolcano (“giant volcanic caldera”) that's “about due” — though eastern California (east of Yosemite) also possesses its own giant caldera, Long Valley, which too can produce enormous volcanic explosions — compared with pipsqueaks like Washington's Mt. St. Helens and the Philippines' Mt. Pinatubo of recent years, far beyond anything that has been experienced in historic times. I almost died myself at age ten in one of Yellowstone's relatively minor escapades: the magnitude 7 earthquake of 1959, just fifty years ago, when a mountain gave way and 80 million tons of rock came crashing down on the campground my parents and I had intended to stay at that night (except for our car overheating on the way there), entombing dozens of campers who weren't so lucky.

However, the great Yellowstone volcano only blows (at least in its most virulent form) roughly every 800,000 years, and while it's been just about that interval since the last such blowup, it could be many tens or even hundreds of thousands of years till the next such massive disaster, from that source anyway (New Zealand and Sumatra possess their own instances of the type, and there are others).

Moreover, there are other kinds of great disaster that could seriously interfere with civilization's continuance — mankind itself is probably the likeliest source; we haven't escaped the probability of a nuclear holocaust, despite the ending of the (first) cold war two decades ago. I'm a firm believer in not keeping all our eggs in Earth's solitary basket.

Then garage (the real conservative here) pipes in with his (lame) comprehension of the situation:

I don't understand the conservative fascination with spending billions on lifeless deserts. The moon is already full of craters, you'd think that one wouldn't be any fun.

The Great Plains and western U.S. were once known as the “Great American Desert” — that great area turns out not to be quite so worthless as folks once supposed. Then there's the worthless frozen waste that Alaska was once considered to be.

Dry land was also an extreme, totally barren desert for all of Earth's living things before animals and plants learned to colonize the airy realm — and just look at the beauty life has managed to turn the subaerial environment into since.

For insights into how something similar might be (artificially) accomplished vis-a-vis outer space, I suggest garage and others of his unimaginative ilk peruse farsighted physicist Freeman Dyson's superb essay The World, the Flesh, and The Devil concerning how (among other things) we might train trees and other living things to thrive in the ultracold vacuum environment of comets circling far from the sun, even drifting between the stars themselves.

Giving the difficulties of that job, I'd suggest that making the Moon hospitable for life (especially since it was discovered just a few months ago that there's substantial water present within the Moon's surfacial regolith) would be a snap by comparison.

bagoh20 said...

We are nothing if not striving. Ants, toads, dogs, nothing more. At least they don't pretend to be more.

Reaching middle age, the only things I regret are the dreams I gave up on.

Frankly, we have no right to give up this. We owe it to those who came before and will come after. We are breaking the chain that was handed to us at great sacrifice.

In 20 years when we have nothing to show for this reallocation, We can say: "Hey at least we had that killer concert on Yasgur's farm."

We are pathetic. This generation has always been a disappointment.

Balfegor said...

In 20 years when we have nothing to show for this reallocation, We can say: "Hey at least we had that killer concert on Yasgur's farm."

Our children will not know it's a different country.
All we can hope to leave them now is money
.

The Crack Emcee said...

I don't give a fuck what y'all do, just GET ME OFF THIS ROCK!!!

Paul Zrimsek said...

I like manned space exploration but it's the sort of thing you do when you've got money out the ying-yang. That wouldn't be us at the moment.

Henry said...

I agree with Paul.

And let's face it, the culture and priorities of the space shuttle program is completely screwed up. Before we do anything huge in manned space travel we need to scrap NASA and start over.

The best investment we make in space exploration is using big dumb boosters to shoot robots at things. I'd go for more of those.

bagoh20 said...

Ha! CRACK mc said: "GET ME OFF THIS ROCK!!!"

Are you famous enough for "Celebrity Rehab"?

Cedarford said...

Brian Hancock said...
I disagree with you on this Ann. The moon was going to be the trial for a possible trip to Mars. It may be another generation or two before we try again.


The moon was really for the German Empire of the 50s and 60s to strive towards. But there was no German Empire. They made some very bad decisions in the 30s and 40s - and ended up only with the consolation that the Soviet and American ICBM and space programs would have been delayed 20 years but for the skill of German scientists and engineers.

A return to the Moon and a silly symbolic trip to Mars would be possible IF America had not made similar critical blunders starting in the late 1970s with "free trade for freedom lovers!!!", the string of Presidents from Carter to Bush II in the pockets of the globalists, and "liberating the banks and Wall Street from regulation". We would still be the largest creditor nation, have money to burn, still be the leader in 18 of 20 most critical industries, the great exporter to the world.

But we screwed up. Free trade and wall street/bank deregulation killed us. Voodoo economics killed us.

Just as endless war for neocons ambition are outside our budget now, nation-building outside our budget, so too "man to the moon".

Germany and Japan came back, but not as the globally dominant empires they once imagined themselves being. The Russians are slowly coming back. America's mission now is figuring out how to again be competitive, how we can stop free trade from making more of us jobless in the interim, how we fix our legal system and Imperial City schlerosis --

And most of all how we stop the decline of once being the greatest creditor nation (under Truman through Nixon) to becoming the greatest wastrel debtor nation the world has ever seen (Under the string of REpublican and Democrat globalists from Carter through Obama).

Sofa King said...

The best investment we make in space exploration is using big dumb boosters to shoot robots at things. I'd go for more of those.

The shuttle is going away no matter what. The goal of the now-cancelled mission was to develop a rocket/capsule system for getting crew, then later cargo, into space.

And lest you and Paul think this will save money - the NASA budget has not decreased. The funds are simply being diverted into global warming research.

bagoh20 said...

The U.S. government can more than afford to do that which it should be doing. It's the rest we can't afford.

Funding is just a problem to solve, but lack of will or imagination cannot be engineered or budgeted out of the way, unfortunately.

Henry said...

@Sofa King -- It's not the amount of money I care about, it's the return on the investment. The robots work really well.

The culture of NASA still troubles me, no matter what they do with the shuttle program.

Mark said...

Sometimes C4 seems to be working on the material plane, sometimes not.

The moon was really for the German Empire of the 50s and 60s to strive towards.

Dude, what are you smoking?

wv: upterd -- you can't make this stuff up. Well, maybe C4 could.

Synova said...

NASA is, what, 1% of the discretionary budget? In any case... only 1% of whatever budget is left after entitlements, which means that NASA and our space efforts (now, global warming research efforts) are significantly less than 1% of our federal budget.

But it plays well, doesn't it, to think we'd be better off spending that ginormous budget on something that benefits people, to keep the world we are on livable for centuries into the future.

It's a sad farce is what it is.

Revenant said...

I don't think the government should be in the manned spaceflight business. It doesn't serve a public need. Unmanned exploration, on the other hand, it very much worth funding.

Anyway, I think it would be cool if the next moon landing was carried out by private enterprise. :)

Michael McNeil said...

They [the Germans] made some very bad decisions in the 30s and 40s — and ended up only with the consolation that the Soviet and American ICBM and space programs would have been delayed 20 years but for the skill of German scientists and engineers.

Except that, as von Braun freely acknowledged, everything the Germans accomplished (except for scale) had earlier been invented and demonstrated by Goddard during the 20's here in the U.S. — for which he was scorned at worst and ignored at best. (Recall the New York Times' infamous arrogant editorial where they ridiculed him for not comprehending that rockets “can't work in a vacuum” because there'd be “nothing to push against”! Whereas, actually, of course, rockets will work anywhere since they really “push” against their own exhaust.)

Michael McNeil said...

It's a sad farce is what it is.

That and a tragic failure of nerve by our civilization. Never fear — the Chinese are perfectly willing to inherit the future, if we let them have it by default.

BJM said...

@Mark

Sgr A dwarfs terrestrial phenomena for human/earth snuffing potential.

NASA's time has passed...a victim of a Moore's law of sorts. We no longer require brute force to reach near space.

The private sector can take it from here. I think we will continue space exploration because it has a magical pull on the human imagination...always has.

Although nothing was more awesome than experiencing the sound and fury of a Saturn V launch at the cape.

Freeman Hunt said...

The Crack Emcee said...
I don't give a fuck what y'all do, just GET ME OFF THIS ROCK!!!

Have you ever tried astral projection, man? You can go anywhere!

Plus, I read in The Secret and saw in What the Bleep Do We Know? that really you just have to want something, like space travel, and through some kind of quantum mechanics, the Universe will give it to you!






I kid, I kid.

Synova said...

Freeman, I made a joke to a friend once about slipping at the edge of the swimming pool (where my husband was being baptized) and accidentally baptizing his baby.

That sunk like a 20 pound block of concrete.

And besides...

We all know that is how John Carter got to Mars. :-)

Synova said...

Stupid New Age poseurs. Ripping of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Lincolntf said...

It's not that you're alone because of your conservatism, you're alone because the reasons you give for cancelling the program are nonsensical. If you don't like high tech stuff, or it intimidates you somehow, that's fine. But pretending that this has anything to do with "emissions" or saving tax dollars is disingenuous.

Kim Priestap said...

That Obama doesn't want to fund human space flight isn't what has me irked. It's that he wants NASA to spend the precious tax dollars it does get on investigating climate change, aka global warming.

Smilin' Jack said...

I thought only right-wing nutjobs thought further research on climate change was necessary. Isn't AGW now established dogma that must not be questioned?

Freeman Hunt said...
How Far We've Come


That pic is hilarious. How Far We've Come...uh, looks like maybe a hundred miles? "...a young Amercian astronaut pauses from her work."--which is probably a continuation of decades of previous ISS research on the vital question of how spiders build webs in zero gravity. Don't stay up there too long, honey---you know what weightlessness will do to your bones!

Mike said...

I suppose by your metric cutting that wasteful defense budget is also a 'Conservative' value.

Having manned access to space is also a national security issue.