January 27, 2010

Obama squelches the moon mission.

Good!

251 comments:

1 – 200 of 251   Newer›   Newest»
Hoosier Daddy said...

Yeah cause nothing good ever came out of the space program.

Robert Cook said...

'twere better by far if Obama would slash the military budget...by half at the very least, but more would be better. I'd rather we be in the business of putting humans into space than removing them from the world.

Fred4Pres said...

Heinlein and Reynolds weep, and so do I.

There is nothing "good" about this. Space missions are about the future. We are giving our legacy as Americans to the Chinese and Russians. We should be reaching for Luna and Mars and instead we are not.

Obama should offer prizes for Luna and Mars exploration. That is a cheap way to go and it will promote private exploration.

Ann Althouse said...

Grow up, boys. It's not worth it. In money or in carbon emissions. Don't send people to space. Send robots. The rest is romantic adventure. Not with my tax money.

Skyler said...

It might be a good thing, but it's still sad. Americans have an emotional attachment to the original moon program, as they should.

The only real reason for the government to go to the moon at this time is if there is a military interest there. I don't see that interest. We've been there, done that, and now it's time for private interests to go back if there is a nonmilitary purpose in going.

With trillions in debt and money getting printed to fill the Grand Canyon, it's easy to say, "oh, why can't NASA get some of that money?" Such is the evil of spending beyond one's means.

We don't have the money for these things, and there is no purpose except a very weak emotional justification.

Skyler said...

Ann said "carbon emissions" (I write that in my best Beavis and Butthead voice)

Um, Professor. The carbon emission schtick was a fraud.

Roger J. said...

I think madison man gave an exceptional list of things the president could eliminate--I would have added the CIA to Mad Man's list. But I thought MM's list was damn fine and one hell of a good start.

Re the space program: As as a young man growing up in the 60s, JFK's goal of a man on the moon (disregarding the cold war aspects) was inspiring--and for those who were not alive on the day the eagle touched down on tranquillity base, you will not know, nor understand the overwhelming pride I think most of my generation felt.

And has Hoosier had mentioned, albeit sarcastically, we have reaped many benefits from the program. In the overall scheme of graft, earmarks, TARP, bailouts etc, the NASA program is fairly small potatoes.

Like all of Obama's choices: bad.

AllenS said...

I'm against sending astronauts to the moon. What a waste of money. We need to spend our money putting death-ray weapons up there, so we can blast the shit out of people who don't like us.

Beaverdam said...

Don't be a pussy Althouse.

MadisonMan said...

One administration official said the budget will send a message that it's time members of Congress recognize that NASA can't design space programs to create jobs in their districts.

But will Congressional members actually hear that message if it means their numbers at home drop?

I hope so.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I'd rather we be in the business of putting humans into space than removing them from the world.

Yes because removing Islamic terrorists who want to kill us makes Cookie sad.

Roger J. said...

"grow up boys?"

I assume you are being sarcastic --if not, you got some 'splaining to do girly.

Ron said...

But where will send our elderly in the new health care scheme?

Fen said...

Robert Cook: 'twere better by far if Obama would slash the military budget...by half at the very least, but more would be better. I'd rather we be in the business of putting humans into space than removing them from the world.

I'd be in favor of slashing the military budget 50+% so idiots like you could watch their children choke to death on their own blood.

We need a good culling.

Original Mike said...

There are very few things that government is uniquely suited to do. And you celebrate government turning their back on one of them, space exploration, so we can blow more money on those things it shouldn't be doing in the first place.

Brillant.

Lem said...

Our survival as a specie depends on getting off this rock Althouse.

Posterity.

We may put it off but it's going to happen.

Lincolntf said...

"Grow up, boys. It's not worth it. In money or in carbon emissions. Don't send people to space. Send robots. The rest is romantic adventure. Not with my tax money."

Romantic adventure? Really? Kinda like the search for a direct sea route to Asia? Of course, they never found one, so that was definitely a wasted effort. Silly Isabella and her romantic notions.

And robots with the same capsbilities as humans will be somehow cheaper? When? Next century? As for emissions, if we are able to do things nore energy-efficiently (microwave ovens, anyone? as a result of the manned space program, then that evil CO2 will be reduced exponentially over time.
Hate to say it, but you sound like the little girl in class who thinks that Barbie doll's are just swell, but can't understand why all the dumb boys want to do is play with their spaceships.

Skyler said...

Mike, what makes the government uniquely suited for this adventure?

Fen, you are disgusting. Leave your murderous threats elsewhere.

Leland said...

It's not worth it. In money or in carbon emissions. Don't send people to space. Send robots.

It may not be worth it in money, but neither the Space Shuttle, Ares-I, or Ares-V emit CO2. So I guess zero is too much for you? And those rockets, such as the Atlas line, that launch robots? They do emit CO2.

Lem said...

Grow up, boys.

I never thought women were not interested in exploration.

Funny it took a femenist to point it out.

Paul Snively said...

Dr. Althouse: Grow up, boys. It's not worth it. In money or in carbon emissions. Don't send people to space. Send robots. The rest is romantic adventure. Not with my tax money.

With this, I have to say that you have some growing up to do yourself, Ann. Hoosier Daddy is, of course, correct about the various technological spin-offs, not the least of which are in medical technology, that arise from investments in human space exploration. The carbon emissions fraud is unraveling with increasing haste daily. As a computer scientist and AI researcher I can tell you that we're nowhere near having robot technology that can replace human beings in space. We eventually need to get humanity off of this rock, and which human civilization's values would you like to see propagate if not the west's, and specifically America's?

With that said, I completely agree about the government spending yet more of our money that we don't actually have. I'm heartened by progress in the private space industry. But if the government is actually going to reduce spending (a claim even more risible than that NASA is a carbon emissions problem), let them reduce it in areas that aren't actually vital to our long-term future.

The Drill SGT said...

This decision pretty much guts the Space Station as well. NASA will become more politically AGW focused.

I wonder if anybody told Obama that those are all union jobs he is killing? I guess he figures they are all in Red states like CA, WV, FL, TX, AL

We'd have been far better off to have spent the Government Motors bailout money on NASA.

as for cookie and his DoD fantasy, there is only the non-Orwell quote in response:

Gentle people sleep soundly in their beds because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf

traditionalguy said...

Now what will we spend funding all those windmills that Obama's accomplices call "green jobs"? One is as much wasteful nonsense as the other.

Skyler said...

Drill Sgt wrote:

We'd have been far better off to have spent the Government Motors bailout money on NASA.

That's not a very exacting standard!

EDH said...

I can see "squelching" the "manned" Mars mission in favor of "robots" (at least until high-speed direct flights are possible), but not the Moon.

Aren't the per capita space budget amounts here tiny compared even to a $50 tax credit for elections?

An example of Obama wielding a swab, not a scalpel.

AllenS said...

I would venture a guess that robots are very expensive to build. Wouldn't it be cheaper to follow the lead of Hollywood celebritneys and buy some children from impoverished countries, train them, and then blast them into space?

Leland said...

Another thing to note is that squelching the moon mission does nothing to NASA's budget next year. At least that's what the article states. So if it cost's too much, Obama's doing nothing to change it.

So Obama voter, there is no CO2 issue, and the cost remains the same. Nice vote you cast there.

TRO said...

Once we, humans, stop exploring we truly do just become rats running a treadmill in a cage.

Moose said...

Let's keep our noses firmly planted in the dirt. Keep those expectations in check. Spend that money on entitlements for blind LBGT left handed textile arts programs.

*sheesh*

rhhardin said...

It wouldn't work anyway.

Astronomy is now done by the Treasury.

Lem said...

Why have lawyers?

Couldn't we just write law programs to decide cases?

I'm having a sarcasm hemorrhage.. let me call somebody.

Lem said...

Astronomy is now done by the Treasury.

lol.. thanks rh

Ron said...

I'll trade the moon for any more posts about that other icon of '60's idealism, Dylan!

Brian said...

Can't they just find a military justification for the mission, and take a few billion out of the Defense budget, to fund this? I guess we're going to let the Chinese lead the way in human exploration into space.

Maybe when we see Chinese walking on the moon, taking pictures of the old Apollo equipment left behind, and taking Apollo souvenirs home, then we'll realize what path we've chosen.

But probably only after the Chinese declare the moon to be sovereign Chinese territory.

AJ Lynch said...

Pols like Obama need to make up their minds. On one hand, they say we need more and more math & science majors and on the other they eliminate a bundle of good jobs for the math and science majors.

AJ Lynch said...

BTW- I agree with Fen on the culling and yes this is an obvious Red State chop by Obama who is more spiteful and revengeful than Nixon.

Big Mike said...

You really need to get out of the well-to-the-left-of-center bubble you live in in Madison, Professor.

The only saving grace of cancelling the moon mission is that Obama and his cronies have screwed up everything else they've touched so far, so this would have been just another thing for them to screw up.

Joan said...

Grow up, boys. It's not worth it.

Sad.

I'm not a boy, and I am grown up. This attitude reflects a certain naivete regarding science, one that simultaneously disparages what it has accomplished while doubting what it will be able to achieve. Granted, all the news lately revealing how fubar'd climate "research" is has given science a black eye, but programs where peoples lives are on the line are substantially more reliable.

Robots are great, but they aren't the be-all and end-all of space research. The end game, as others have already said, is getting us off this rock. Even if that goal is centuries out, we're still the better for pursuing it.

Dangerous Dreamer said...

Yeah. It's so much better to have NASA study climate change, much better waste I mean use of money...

AJ Lynch said...

Maybe they could put a check-off box on our tax returns? .....Check this box if you want to contribute $50 EXTRA to NASA space programs.

Hell maybe they could put a bunch of boxes on our tax returns.....check this box if you want your tax money to be allocated to .....national defense....green jobs .....bank bailouts......auto bailout......waterboarding ......
paying for GITMO.....Dept of Education etc.

Lem said...

If we don't lead in exploration our values will not necessarily prevail when get there.

We may be consigning future generation into Chinese style servitude.

wv liziness

Lincolntf said...

I'm trying to think of a more simplistic and shortsighted "solution" to our national economic problems than abandoning manned space missions. So far I'm coming up empty.

Skyler said...

Brian asked: Can't they just find a military justification for the mission, and take a few billion out of the Defense budget, to fund this?

And I suppose we could pretend there are space invaders coming, too! And they come marching down from the sky going back and forth, back and forth, and they get faster as they get closer. Sheesh.

The original Apollo missions piggy backed on a lot of the ICBM development. The military applications are only going to be near Earth orbit. There's no advantage to having a military base on the moon at this time.

And why should the defense budget be robbed to pay for this boondoggle? We're in a war right now and we're already cannibalizing a lot of modernization, especially from the capital intensive navy, to keep the war funded. It's looking very much that we're going to have a period similar to the post Viet Nam era when it took about 20 years to catch up again.

The real point is that this is no longer a government interest. The claims of technology development are suspect, to say the least. No one can say what technologies would have been developed in the absence of the Apollo program.

The only legitimate purpose in continuing a moon program is for some national prestige. Some of us don't want to get "beat" by the Indians or the Chinese. There's something to be said for that argument, but it's not enough for me.

Roger J. said...

"grow up boys...."

What may not be worth it is to spend taxpayer dollars for law professors in public institutions--count up the salaries across the state institutions across the country times the number of law professors on the public'd dime--

I'd rather go with manned space missions.

bagoh20 said...

This why women should never rule: We would still be living huts and dying at 35 in some West African village that we were afraid to leave because some of us might be late getting home for dinner.

c3 said...

First he steals an idea from his Republican foe, and now he abandons the noble goal of his political idol. What is this Presidency coming to!?

Original Mike said...

@Skyler: Certainly not all of it. The government has done an abysmal job of including the private sector in manned space flight. The biggest thing they could do is incentivize (i.e. let contracts to buy the fuel)them to provide fuel depots at strategic points (low earth orbit, lunar orbit, Lagrange points). That greatly reliefs the heavy lift requirements. But it's going to be a long time before the private sector puts people on the moon or mars in their own interests.

Hoosier Daddy said...

What may not be worth it is to spend taxpayer dollars for law professors in public institutions--count up the salaries across the state institutions across the country times the number of law professors on the public'd dime--

Blasphemer! Law Professors provide a vital service to the Republic. Without them we would not have our wonderful tort laws, multiple safety warnings for those who lack basic common sense and fabulous photos of bars and bistros from across this great land ;-)

Lem said...

Althouse must be pulling our leg.

Salamandyr said...

I'm pretty sure Althouse is being provocative here ("grow up boys"? really?).

The real future in space travel is in the private sector anyway. If Obama were to get us out of the treaties that forbid commercial exploitation of the moon, I wouldn't care if he zeroed out NASA's whole budget. Of course, he'd never do that, he at least will fund the part that lies to us about climate change.

There's a big indicator here what is wrong with the federal space program though. No long term goals can be acheived, since every time a new president arrives he "redefines the mission" and scraps whatever forward momentum they've made so far on whatever project the predecessor started. Since the pay-off for any NASA program is beyond the concern horizon for a politician (ie after they are out of office), there's little immediate benefit to committing resources to it.

Funny thing though...this will probably be the only time you will hear Obama talk about pulling money out of a government program to re-direct to the private sector.

Lincolntf said...

"The only legitimate purpose in continuing a moon program is for some national prestige. Some of us don't want to get "beat" by the Indians or the Chinese."

Ummm, wasn't President Wonderful elected precisely so he could elevate the nation's prestige? At least that's waht all his cheerleaders told us. Anyway, it's a meaningless and false argument. Space exploration has done more for our national technological advancement than anything else I can think of.
Anyway, I think I see the priorities here. The Obama Administration sees no use for Fed money in a space exploration program, but believes that showing schoolkids the proper way to ram their fist into a classmate's rectum is perfectly acceptable "science education", is that about right? How will that help the economy, I wonder? Maybe a next-gen latex glove?

Freeman Hunt said...

I think Althouse is kidding. Or maybe not. I don't know.

Original Mike said...

I agree with bagoh20: "This why women should never rule: We would still be living huts and dying at 35 in some West African village that we were afraid to leave because some of us might be late getting home for dinner."

Or maybe I'm kidding.

Sofa King said...

This hurts so badly because it cuts against the thing that so many of us - at least by my reckoning - hold dear as the "essence" of the United States: a can-do spirit; vision, and the boldness to dare greatly. It's not just a policy, not even only an attitude - it is a way of life, and it is slipping away.

Teddy Roosevelt personified this way of life. He said,

"Rhetoric is a poor substitute for action, and we have trusted only to rhetoric. If we are really to be a great nation, we must not merely talk; we must act big."

As to how this applies to space travel, I really don't think you can state it any more eloquently than Kennedy himself did:

"There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?"

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

"It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency."

It is for this reason that I consider this reversal of that course to be one of the most important decisions in the Obama presidency as well. It is a repudiation of our very identity. It strike to the very core of who we are as a people. And it grieves me, it grieves me deeply to the point where I have difficulty expressing it.

Freeman Hunt said...

Normally I just dislike Obama's policies and don't have any thoughts either way about Obama, the man.

But this? Visceral reaction of dislike. He wants to turn the space budget toward monitoring climate change? WTF?! We could be flying around in space, hanging out on the Moon (eventually launching missions from there?), developing all kinds of new, exploratory technology, going to Mars, but no.

Let's focus on orbiting the Earth more and collecting more fake-ified data to support the government take over of the economy. Awesome.

Obama, you are so lame that the sheer mass of your lameness threatens to collapse the space time continuum where you stand. And who will help us escape that once you've slashed the space budget?

Tibore said...

"It's not worth it. In money or in carbon emissions."

As far as carbon emissions go: That depends on the rocket. Not all burn kerosene or other petroleum based fuels. The Space Shuttle, for example, uses ammonium perchlorate, powdered aluminum, and iron oxide for its booster engines and hydrogen & oxygen for it's main engines, so neither of those produce carbon. The proposed Ares V was said to be designed to use the same fuel, so had that rocket been developed, it, too would've not produced carbon.

----

Going beyond fuel: It is worth noting that there is a strong school of thought within NASA which agrees with the line of thinking that Professor Althouse subscribes to. Granted, there's a vocal "crewed mission" advocacy too, but the point is that there are quite a few in NASA's culture who agree with our Professor's sentiment. Recall that NASA coined the phrase "DDE" to describe crewed missions: "Difficult, Dangerous, and Expensive". And even crewed-missions advocates concede that point in their writings; here is a link to one such document:

"Launching Humans into Space is Difficult, Dangerous,and Expensive"

The funny thing is seeing the very arguments against their thesis take up half the document, but the point is that even among advocates, there is concession to the expense as well as dangers of space to humans. Mitigation of those dangers requires much engineering and raises costs, and they still don't disappear entirely. Whereas it's not tragic to lose a probe or robot. Expensive, yes, but way less so than losing a capsule guarding a human life. If anyone remembers the early 90's "Better, Faster, Cheaper" motto, part of the idea of making things cheaper went beyond just finding more economical processes and elements like reusable vehicles and standardized robots: It also went away from the notion of crewing missions. Which met much resistance from those who advocate for such, but again, my point is that a strong subculture exists in that organization that continues to say that probes, not manned missions, are the best way to economize and maximize the ability of NASA to conduct its missions.

Do I agree? Well... I'm a romantic. I'd rather see humans in space, myself. I think it's necessary to forward development by pushing technologies forward, including human life maintenance technologies for hostile environments. But I'm only one guy, and the ones pushing for probes over humans don't have a weak argument.

bagoh20 said...

If you have something important to do, which exploration is, and you can't afford it, you just knock down that obstacle as well. We went to the freaking moon 40 years ago. Now we can't even find a way to pay to get back? How far we have fallen! Althouse's attitude is what has replaced that amazing people we used to be.

Skyler said...

Mike commented:

But it's going to be a long time before the private sector puts people on the moon or mars in their own interests.

Exactly. There's no reason to go there. Say we go to the moon again. What then? I can imagine a Monty Pythonesque routine. The astronauts stand around and say, "well, here we are. Yup. We're on the moon. Okay, let's go home."

Claims that we HAVE to settle somewhere else are a bit hyperbolic.

master cylinder said...

I see that some of you believe strongly in government programs. This must be one of the good ones-different than healthcare.

Freeman Hunt said...

I posted something along these lines a few weeks ago, but here it is again:

We are human beings. That's what we do: awesome things.

We can FLY. We can live in ANY CLIMATE. We WALKED ON THE FRIGGIN MOON!


Exploring space is awesome, a transcendent and daring act. We are humans, that's what we do. We reach beyond what we imagine possible.

Obama asks that we reach for nothing, only that we grasp from our neighbors, that we even out into some gray smoothness of equality of results. Earthbound, government owned. That is his vision.

I'm ready for a change.

SteveR said...

Let's not comfuse the NASA of the last thirty years with the early NASA. I wouldn't expect anything nearly as awesome as the great things as we saw in the Apollo program with the now stale bureacratic mess there now.

wind.rider said...

Yes, I certainly hope Ann is simply being provocative -

Because there really isn't anything romantic about it. As has been pointed out, in terms of immediate saving or dollars, Skippy is tossing out another empty calorie piece of rhetorical junk food.

The argument shouldn't be to go or not to go - it should be how. Governmental sponsorship of something about as ambitious as interplanetary Amtrak may not make one all misty eyed; Private entrepreneurship, on the other hand, awakens new possibilities and excitement that a viable, profitable business based model may emerge.

Lunar tourism, materials acquisition and manufacturing, energy - things that western political structures are simply too noisy to accomplish. The goal oriented Chinese, otoh. . .

Hoosier Daddy said...

Obama, you are so lame that the sheer mass of your lameness threatens to collapse the space time continuum where you stand.

Time for a new keyboard and monitor.

Roger J. said...

This is just a fascinating post--and I apologize to our fair hostess whom I think in this post meant to be provactive.

I think her selection of this topic demonstrates that there is really a substrata of idealism and exploration that inheres in the American psyche. Regretably, the body politic is way behind the American vision.

Freeman Hunt said...

We have always, from the beginning of the Republic, had explorers. It is part of national defense and the maintenance of national sovereignty.

If a private entity makes it into space and settles somewhere, it may as well be a nation unto itself. Or a hostile nation may dominate. Without having developed the technology ourselves, our nation has no way to contest it.

So better hope that whoever figures out the space thing is nice and liberty-loving. Because if you don't try to get to space yourself, they will rule you someday.

Larry J said...

One administration official said the budget will send a message that it's time members of Congress recognize that NASA can't design space programs to create jobs in their districts.

I seldom agree with Obama but I do on this statement. The Ares program NASA was trying to build had a primary objective of maximizing NASA jobs rather than accomplishing the stated objectives. No government program should have maximizing jobs as the primary or even high secondary consideration. Accomplishing the stated program objectives as efficiently as practical should be the primary consideration, not maximizing jobs.

As for diverting the money to climate change, that's just another swindle.

I do support space exploration. I believe NASA should set specifications and open it up to contractors to provide the services. They already do this for expendable launch vehicles and satellites/space probes. NASA was entirely too hands-on in the development of the Ares vehicles. That's why they cost so much and delivered so little for the money. The next step (possible within a few years) is for NASA to contract out launching humans to private contractors like SpaceX. After the Shuttle stops flying (late this year or early next year), we were going to have to outsource human launchs to the Russians for the next 7 years or so. Why not let private US companies do the job?

ricpic said...

Grow up, boys.

Althouse goes all Mae West on us.

Lincolntf said...

"We went to the freaking moon 40 years ago. Now we can't even find a way to pay to get back?"


Exactly.
We're not going to repeat and expand on something that was thrilling, wildly succesful and hugely materially advantageous to the nation and the world.
What we will repeat are depressing failures that bankrupt our country like Social Security, trillion dollar deficits, an education sysyem that refuses to educate, etc. Those are somehow worthwhile.

An aside...
It's absurd to even consider the energy use issue. One cluster of vents on the sea floor that nobody has ever seen will probably pump more "emissions" into the atmosphere today than the entire space program ever will. Imagine how much refrigeration has not occurred because of freeze-drying, imagine the fossil fuel savings from space-age lightweight materials, the electricity saved by microwave ovens, etc...Talking in terms of "per rocket" emissions completely misses the point.

Sofa King said...

I see that some of you believe strongly in government programs. This must be one of the good ones-different than healthcare.

Yes, isn't the hypocrisy amazing, thinking that some programs are good and some are bad? Either every single one is worthy or none of them are! Or something!

Florida said...

Sheesh Ann, for a law professor, you sure are gullible sometimes.

Are you really so uninformed that you don't understand the modern political reason for having a "moon mission" in the first place?

The moon is a lifeless rock upon which there is only worthless rock dust of the kind you can find in any desert right here on Earth.

There is only one political reason to have a moon mission. And that is so that you can cancel the moon mission and "save" billions of dollars on said mission whenever you need to look like a budget hawk.

No actual money is required to announce a "moon mission" that includes a $3 trillion budget. Only a budget is required. In fact, Obama will likely propose a Mars mission next week.

That way, in the future, if he ever needs to "cut" $3 trillion from the "budget" he can "cancel" the Mars mission. Or the Saturn "mission" ... or the Pluto mission.

Then he can run advertisements during the 2010 election cycle announcing his $3 trillion in "unprecedented budget cuts."

Is anyone besides Ann Althouse or Kahn Noonyan Singh fooled by this sort of budget stunt any more?

WV: clectarr ... Definition: Klingon for "someone fooled by budget cut announcements."

Cedarford said...

Paul Snively - "As a computer scientist and AI researcher I can tell you that we're nowhere near having robot technology that can replace human beings in space."

As someone that has followed the unmanned space probes sent since I was a kid and who hits http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/

to check up on Oddessy, MRO, and the two Rovers 1-2 times a week for the last 6 years - It really isn't robot technology. It is advanced sensors better than human senses with some robotic capacity so every single action does not have to happen from ground controllers.
But this is mainly a human guided program, and the back and forth commands are easy...huge data comes from it looked at in near-realtime by thousands of scientists and 100,000s of thousands of students and laymen each day.

These remote sensor packages can go to places humans can't even if the money was there, vastly cheaper, stay thousands of times longer, and sense things far better and with far more accuracy than a "hero" astronaut.

Europe also has a probe circling Mars. Along with the deep space probed and stream of space telescopes.....each has given us more raw, new scientific data than the manned space station has in it's entire existence.

Europe and America, with Russia, Japan, India, China and some high quality newcomers as partners - signed the ESA-NASA joint agreement last June to share in costs and coordinate Mars work, as well as some telescope and lunar projects. Some dozen missions are in construction, design, or in peer review - including a few sample return missions. With those missions getting daily updates on what the present probes are finding. Something really interesting like a confirmed biological trace or clear sign of microbial activity guarantees a man-free sample return mission.

Remember Cassini was a joint project, carrying the ESA Hygens probe that went down to Titan.

And Opportunity rides along on perfect Swiss motors and "sees" what elements and minerals it encounters with a German mass spectrometer.

Nixon cancelled the last 3-4 moon trips because he had a budget gap (of a scale that would have made Obama or Dubya snort they borrowed more in a single average day from CHina). Nixon also listened to scientific and political advisors that told him the political, scientific benefits of new moon missions was about nil, at the time.

Obama had to weigh the value of going back 40 years and justify why a 100 billion mission to resume "man to the moon!" made sense. Evidently, it didn't.

Even in near-Earth orbit...most "humans do it better" claims are debunked by cround controllets using commands and some robotics can do most things a "hero astronaut" can do. For others, like "repairing Hubble" the full cost of the Hubble upkeep and upgrade missions was more than just letting that scope go out of service and launching a newer and better Hubble.

Roger J. said...

Thomas Jefferson to Lewis and Clark--nahh, boys, it isnt worth the time or effort. Lets bag it.

bagoh20 said...

"Grow up boys."

Spoken like a true codger.

Now get out of the way, we got stuff to do.

Original Mike said...

Say we go to the moon again. What then? I can imagine a Monty Pythonesque routine. The astronauts stand around and say, "well, here we are. Yup. We're on the moon. Okay, let's go home."

Without wanting to be mean, I feel compelled to observe that this speaks more to your lack of imagination than to the value value of this endeavour. Time and time again, the benefits of exploration and discovery were most apparent in hindsight.

Original Mike said...

Obama is no Jack Kennedy, that's for sure.

bagoh20 said...

I feel like I'm in Europe in 1491.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The end game, as others have already said, is getting us off this rock. Even if that goal is centuries out, we're still the better for pursuing it.

Or....in preventing other rocks (asteroids) from hitting us and extinguishing all life on the planet....even Democrats.

Hoosier Daddy said...

One administration official said the budget will send a message that it's time members of Congress recognize that NASA can't design space programs to create jobs in their districts.

Um, I'm sorry but wasn't one of the main reasons for the $700 billion stimulus was to create jobs!?

Can someone in this administration let the rest of us proles know what the fricking game plan is cause it seems to change as often as his underwear.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Without wanting to be mean, I feel compelled to observe that this speaks more to your lack of imagination than to the value value of this endeavour.

Mike, you need to rephrase that with a baritone voice and raspy breathing.

I find your lack of imagination disturbing.

See do it that way and the liberals will all think Cheney is back in power and run off screaming.

Lincolntf said...

If anyone should be full steam ahead on this cutting edge technology it's the Enviro-whackos. Hell, even regular "Green" people are always telling us that new technologies are the answer, and that our planet lacks enough resources to sustain us.

So which is it, carbon-phobes? Do we stick with doing things the way we're doing them, or do we invest a little money in "saving the planet"? If the question was over tens of billions of dollars in biofuel subsidies I know what your answer would be.

TosaGuy said...

Exploration is a sign of a great and vigorous nation. Nations that actively make the decision to only look inward eventually rot and die. Our nation should continue to explore and push the limits.

With that said, NASA in its current form is not up to this task. It is full of bloat and aerospace pork and it lacks a clear mission that supports the ideals of my first paragraph. Narrow the mission and the space program will be once again be successful and a source of national pride and technological/scientific achievement.

bagoh20 said...

Freeman, your comments are just incredibly sexy. Women like you are what got those guys there so long ago. They don't make em like that much anymore.

Tibore said...

In spite of my post informing people of the subculture in NASA who are happy with devoting resources to probes and machines over crewed missions, I need to emphasize again that I'd rather we find justification to keep putting man in space. I realize that it's expensive, and I realize that it's dangerous. Furthermore, I concede that many in NASA have pointedly asked "What's the difference between an astronaut using a sensor or recorder with the bulkiness of a space suit and a ground-based technician controlling it remotely? The difference is we can put more equipment in the space taken up by life support and maintenance systems." I've had that exact argument thrown at me by unmanned missions advocates, and again, I concede the point: You can get much more equipment up there when you don't have life-maintenance systems to worry about.

But...

I've never, ever argued for space missions, or any sort of scientific research activity on the basis of cost, efficiency, or utilization. Never. There are cheaper ways to get the same advances. That should not, ever, be used as an argument against putting man further out in space. Not in my mind.To me, you do not fund scientific missions like man-on-the-moon with the argument about what man can find there; man can find a lot in the middle of a volcano, but no one objects to sending robots in there. No, you fund scientific missions for the same reason you fund the arts, athletics, etc.: Because they are human endeavors that stretch the mind and advance the human beings as a species.

If you want to discover the relative ratios of one gas to another in an extrasolar planet, you construct a probe to test for those gasses. That's far cheaper and safer than sending a human to collect them. If you want to discover the volcanic activity on a gas giant's moon, you construct a satellite that can orbit safely and monitor from well away. It's cheaper. It's safer. Yes. But: If you want to advance mankind and not merely the scope of his knowledge, the amount of details recorded in his textbooks, then you find a way to get him out there to see these phenomena for himself. I realize that for any single mission a crew will bring back less data than a single probe. The question is, are we really interested in simply providing more details? Or are we interested in challenging mankind to advance and (dare I say it?) evolve.

(to be continued...)

Original Mike said...

In the meantime, the White House will direct NASA to concentrate on Earth-science projects — principally, researching and monitoring climate change"

I'm confused. I thought this was settled science?

Synova said...

Original Mike said what there is to say about this. There really is nothing else to be said.

"There are very few things that government is uniquely suited to do. And you celebrate government turning their back on one of them, space exploration, so we can blow more money on those things it shouldn't be doing in the first place..."

That won't stop me, however.

The actual budget will be greater, if one reads the article, with assurances that the moon will be skipped over for more distant destinations some time in the future. But it also says that the greater funding will be directed to climate change research and stuff.

So, what is this? Obama lying again? A clever political bait and switch?

Because we know for certain that the one sure why to government largess is to explain how your vital project that requires the big-buck funding is related to global warming somehow. So all the scientists who want money, suddenly become climate change believers because that's where the funding is. So... no surprise there. It will mollify the "omgawd don't waste money in space" idiots.

And then, supposedly, research money will be spent on developing "heavy lift" rockets to take us to the asteroids... that will be some time in production so maybe by the time Palin is president we can get all inspired to look outward again.

But really... lecturing about NOT creating jobs in your districts?

You know what would have been awesome? If instead of a gigantic stimulous bill that threw money scatter-shot at the nation, Obama got up there and said that in order to mobilize the work-force and create jobs for the future and motivate education in the sciences... we're going to go to Mars, or build a permanent settlement on the moon... and we're going to do it in 8 years while I'm here in the White House.

And it might not have actually helped the economy, but it wouldn't have helped *less* than what we did do, and people would be employed in science, technology and research that could be applied to any number of other causes.

But too many people would have cried about how instead of employing people from head scientists to tour guides to secretaries and custodial staff and construction workers... that the poor people needed another hand-out, bread not rockets! And what about global warming!!!11!!.

And that would be that.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

AJ Lynch said...

Obama is highly predictable. Erasing govt spending on space is a knee jerk, college sophmore, libeal community organizer's natural instinct.

If he can get his polls number back up over 50%, he will take a hatchet to defense spending.

wv = undizat!

Synova said...

"As a computer scientist and AI researcher I can tell you that we're nowhere near having robot technology that can replace human beings in space."

The shortest round trip signal to Mars is what... 20 minutes? There's even a significant delay to the Moon.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Women like you are what got those guys there so long ago.

Women like Althouse played their role too. In space, no one can hear you nag.

bagoh20 said...

It's not a one or the other choice; we need to use robotics as much as possible. We could probably build a whole moon station without going there manned over the next 10 years.

Larry J said...

In the meantime, the White House will direct NASA to concentrate on Earth-science projects — principally, researching and monitoring climate change"

That's NOAA's job.

Sofa King said...

You know what would have been awesome? If instead of a gigantic stimulous bill that threw money scatter-shot at the nation, Obama got up there and said that in order to mobilize the work-force and create jobs for the future and motivate education in the sciences... we're going to go to Mars, or build a permanent settlement on the moon... and we're going to do it in 8 years while I'm here in the White House.

Assuming you had to spend 700 gigadollars on stimulus, I can't think of a better way to spend it.

Tibore said...

(Continuation from previous post...)
Anyone read Lucifer's Hammer? It's a post apocalyptic piece of science fiction that tells a story set in California after a comet - named "The Hammer" hits the earth. Like all the "asteroid strike" movies, everything is in disarray, infrastructure has failed, and everyone is struggling to survive without the support that modern society gives an individual. An threat arises to an electric generating power plant in the area from a cannabalistic cult intent on destroying the plant. The protagonists exhorts his people to save it.

So, what does this have to do with manned space exploration? Well... what was my thesis above about advancing humanity, and not merely human's store of knowledge?


"What else have we run out of? Penicillin?"

"Yes---"

"Aspirin? And the liquor. No anesthetics of any kind."

"We'll be able to ferment liquor!"

"So. We'll live. Through this winter, and the next one, and the one after that." Rick paused, but before Hardy could say anything, he thundered, "As peasants! We had a ceremony here today. An award, to the kid who caught the most rats this week. And we can look forward to that for the rest of our lives. To our kids growing up as rat catchers and swinherds. Honorable work. Needed work.Nobody puts it down. But... don't we want to hope for something better?

"And we're going to keep slaves," Delanty said. "Not because we want to. Because we need them. And we used to control the lightning!"

The phrase struck Harvey Randall with a physical shock. He saw it hit the others, too. A lot of them. They stood, unable to turn away.

"Sure we can huddle here in our valley," Delanty shouted. "We can stay here and be safe and our kids can grow up herding pigs and shoveling sewage. There's a lot here to be proud of, because it's so much more than what might have been --- but is it enough? Is it enough for us to be safe when we leave everybody else out in the cold? You all say how sorry you are to have to turn people away. To have to send people Outside. Well, we've got the chance now. We can make all of Outside, the whole damn San Joaquin Valley, as safe as we are.

"Or there's another way. We can stay here, safe as... as ground squirrels. But if we take the easy way this time, we'll take it next time. And the next, and the next, and in fifty years your kids will hide under the bed when they hear the thunder! The way everybody used to hide from the great thunder gods. Peasants always believe in thunder gods.

"And the comet. We konw what it was. In tem more years we'd have been able to push the damned thing out of our way! I've been in space. I won't go there again, but your children could! Hell yes! Give us that electric plant and twenty years and we'll be in space again. We know how, and all it takes is power, and that power's right there, not fifty miles from here, if we've just got guts enough to save it. Think about it. Those are the choices. Go on and be good peasants, safe peasants, supersittious pesants--- or have worlds to conquer again. To control the lightning again."


-----

One more time: You don't send send man to space to do science. Probes and radio communications do it far safer, far cheaper, and can be accelerated far harder with less worry about the accelerative stresses. If efficiency is the concern, then you do not send man into space. But my thesis is that space exploration should be about more than just efficiency of discovering knowledge. It should be about stretching man's abilities to survive where he currently cannot and to go where he to date has not. That endeavor advances man, not just his knowledge.

garage mahal said...

I though scientists were money grubbing ideologues and not to be trusted. Oh well.

Oligonicella said...

Althouse --

"Grow up, boys. It's not worth it. In money or in carbon emissions. Don't send people to space. Send robots. The rest is romantic adventure. Not with my tax money."

One paragraph: mysandry, pomposity, scientific ignorance, technological ignorance... In that order.

Pastafarian said...

I'll cast my vote that Althouse is merely trying to provoke a response.

Apparently, Obama plans on repurposing NASA as a global warming propaganda machine. I just can't get over what a high percentage of this president's decisions have been not just controversial, not just non-optimal, but glaringly wrong and stupid.

I knew before the election that the man was a hard-left ideologue, a socialist, and barely American. And even I am disappointed in his performance.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Women like you are what got those guys there so long ago.

No they're not. If those chicks back then were like Freeman we would have never left the old country.

Queen Isabella: Chris, I want you to take three ships across the ocean and find the New World

Columbus: What? Leave my hot witty wife to venture across the ocean, face mutiny, sea monsters and almost certain death? WTF are you mad?

Give Meade another year and we'll read about him being arrested for trying to hotwire the Gemini in the Smithsonian and blabbering about needing to each Ceti Alpha V ;-)

Synova said...

"The real future in space travel is in the private sector anyway. If Obama were to get us out of the treaties that forbid commercial exploitation of the moon, I wouldn't care if he zeroed out NASA's whole budget."

Yeah, what's up with that anyway?

Sounds to me like anyone who can make it up there should tell everyone else what they can do with their treaties. It's way too dog-in-the-manger for my tastes.

We don't want to go there, but we're going to sign on to agreements that no one else is supposed to do anything we don't like. As if anyone earth bound has a legitimate right to make rules for those who are not.

bagoh20 said...

"I though scientists were money grubbing ideologues and not to be trusted. Oh well."

The broad brush is a liberal tool like you.

Synova said...

"I though scientists were money grubbing ideologues and not to be trusted. Oh well."

No, no, garage!

Money grubbing *opportunists*. Not ideologues.

Get it straight.

(And nothing really wrong with providing the service people want to pay for either.)

Skyler said...

Several have compared this to Lewis and Clark's expedition. Fair enough.

Lewis and Clark went to the Pacific and came back. The result was they proved it could be done, they brought back a vague idea of what was out in the areas they traveled through. Then pretty much nothing happened.

That is, nothing happened until private enterprise started going out there. Knowing there was a continent capable of being settled was a good thing to learn. The government didn't settle the west, people did.

The same goes for the moon. And maybe Mars. Been there, done that. Going back would just prove we can still do it. Yawn.

If I had the money, I'd be the first to sign up for a trip to the moon, just to say I went there. I'll be damned if I'll agree to pay for someone else to go there just to say they were there. Let them pay their own way.

If there's a reason to go there (beyond the military and defense) then private interests should do it. Private interests will develop all those future technological wonders that everyone claims had retroactively justified the original missions.

The west wasn't settled by the government, even though Lewis and Clark's expedition went first.

garage mahal said...

I guess we need a working list of scientists to be trusted and ones not be trusted then.

All atmospheric scientists BAAAAD.

All others good? Is that about right?

Oligonicella said...

Exactly Synova. "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" wasn't just scifi, it was future history. The first significant, self-sustaining colony will declare independence.

Synova said...

"Assuming you had to spend 700 gigadollars on stimulus,..."

Yes, assuming we *had* to.

And even if we didn't *have* to... we *did*.

So...

If we're going to ineffectively throw money at the economy we might as well (should have) at least done something with concrete and enduring benefits to show for it.

Original Mike said...

Women like Althouse played their role too. In space, no one can hear you nag.

That's gonna leave a mark.

bagoh20 said...

Let me help you garage: The lying, stealing scientists are the bad ones. You can identify them by their emails admitting as much.

Big Mike said...

Exploring space is awesome, a transcendent and daring act. We are humans, that's what we do. We reach beyond what we imagine possible.

Some of us do. The rest are liberals.

traditionalguy said...

It suddenly appears that the Obama Czar for Moon Explorations has lost out to the Obama Czar for shoveling money into a criminal conspiracy carefully built to collect our public funds into a fake "industry" that is supposed to lower CO2 emissions and create "Green Jobs". The only thing Green about that hoax is the color of the money they plan to steal for stopping non-existant Global Warming. This President needs to be polygraphed everytime he speaks.

garage mahal said...

We can't trust scientists with thermometers but we can trust them to send humans thousands of miles into space and back. Whoookay!

Paul Snively said...

OMG, I agree with Cedarford. I'll alert the media.

FWIW, while I agree, none of those points strikes me as contradicting "we're nowhere near having robot technology that can replace human beings in space." The question really boils down to that of what human beings can uniquely do in space, and whether that justifies the expenditure. My position is that those things justify the expenditure, and it'd be OK for the government to do that, but it's even better if the private sector does it instead.

rhhardin said...

The moon is always female..

Scott M said...

@Tibore

How very un-PC of you to cite Lucifer's Hammer. Niven and Pournelle (the best of the old guard, IMHO), through their characters, pretty much declared the end of feminism which died "about a second after Hammerfall."

Shame, shame...

In terms of the discussion at hand, I think everyone is missing the critical point. NASA is a gubment entity, sure, but it grew out of defense spending and that is it's logical (and appropriate) place. All commercial and cultural benefits that are derived from NASA's activities are secondary...or they should be. Why?

Even as late as WWI, the army holding the high ground was far more likely to succeed in battle. In WWII, even as the air corp was becoming exponentially more important, control of the seas won the war if from no other aspect than logistical. Nowadays its all about air power. Sure, you still have to have ground troops to slug it out and hold ground, but nobody can win a war without command of the air.

If we allow someone else...someone not so enamored of democracy and individual liberty as we are (used to be?) then we cede the strategic high ground.

This can never, ever happen. I can also make the argument that primary and secondary education are national security issues, but that's another thread.

The point is that all of the myriad of social, cultural, and other -al issues we constantly argue about are absolutely and utterly meaningless if we no longer exist as a nation to argue about them.

Hoosier Daddy said...

We can't trust scientists with thermometers but we can trust them to send humans thousands of miles into space and back. Whoookay!

Yes garage we can you know why? Cause we have successfully done it in the past. See, unlike the climate scientists who have been caught fudging the data, the NASA scientists actually proved they can put people in space and bring them back.

Unless of course you think Capricorn One was really a documentary.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Niven and Pournelle (the best of the old guard, IMHO),

I second that!

Sofa King said...

Anyways, the question of whether it can be done is settled science. What NASA needs is not so much science as engineering.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Great. Instead of "George lassos the moon" we get "Obama squelches the moon".

Skyler said...

Big Mike,

This is not a "liberal" versus "conservative" issue. Plenty of either kind is on opposite sides in this matter.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Hey garage, this scientist says we need to be alert for mean aliens. So I guess we should expand our space program to defend ourselves because a leading scientist said so. The science is settled.

bagoh20 said...

I don't trust anyone with a thermometer.

garage mahal said...

By fudging data, you mean plotting a more accurate graph by inserting actual temp readings into the record, and taking out proxy tree ring data. Caught red handed acting like scientists. Scandalous!

Anyways NASA is an evil government program, I thought government never did a damn thing right.

Palladian said...

I like Althouse too much to express my visceral response to her unpleasantly dismissive comments on this subject.

Men are from Mars, and want to get back there and beyond. Women are apparently from earth and are happy to remain here gathering berries and being emotional about trees until we're eventually socked by an asteroid or the sun burns out. At least we'll have health care or something.

Besides, leftists don't need space exploration. They just need to look into Obama's eyes to see beyond the infinite. My God, he's full of stars!

When the rest of us look into his eyes all we see is the edge of a black hole at the end of his thousand light-year stare.

Scott M said...

Okay, garage, I'll bite.

By fudging data, I'll just cite the most recent abomination of AGW bullshit. Specifically the claim in the IPCC report that the Himalayan glaciers were going to be completely gone by 2035 and thus plunge a huge, obscene number of people into drought.

Complete bullshit...it's been admitted as such...based on nothing more than a phone conversation if memory serves. Not backed up by any applicable science at all.

As far as NASA is concerned...yep. You're right. They take a swimming pool to get a litmus strip damp. The problem is you're painting with that huge, over-sized, over-generalizing paint brush again. Just more evidence of your intellectual laziness, I suppose, but surely you can recognize a pattern in your own points?

None of which changes the fact that mastery of all things space is required of societies that plan on surviving for the next couple of centuries.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Caught red handed acting like scientists. Scandalous!

Oh dear!

Anyways NASA is an evil government program, I thought government never did a damn thing right.

Actually garage, conservatives will admit that the government does do some stuff right. The military and NASA being two prime examples. Interestingly enough, when they work with private industry to innovate they tend to be successful. Its those social engineering programs that libs like you are so in love with are monumental failures.

Synova said...

"Conway Morris will argue that alien life is most likely to occur on a planet similar to our own, with organisms made from the same biochemicals. The process of evolution will even shape alien life in a similar way, he added.

"My view is that Darwinian evolution is really quite predictable, and when you have a biosphere and evolution takes over, then common themes emerge and the same is true for intelligence.
"

He's talking about biochemicals and physiology, but there is more that Darwin gives us and that is "survival of the fittest", of the adaptive species, the aggressive species, and those with tendencies to migrate as a survival tactic.

Humans meeting an alien intelligence is neither likely nor impossible. But no matter how unlikely, if it happens they are not going to get here or meet us somewhere out there if they are not prone to the same motivations as humans.

Mostly it's fun to think about, though.

An asteroid strike is more likely. We know it happened to the Earth before with devastating results. We can be certain that it will happen again. Eventually.

Palladian said...

Garage, there's a word the rest of your lefty cohorts like a lot that you should look up: "nuance". You see, many people all over the political spectrum possess the magical ability to see not only black and white but shades of grey. It is possible to have complex opionions about things!

Lem said...

I like Althouse too much to express my visceral response to her unpleasantly dismissive comments on this subject.

I was too upset to express my similar sentiment.

garage mahal said...

None of which changes the fact that mastery of all things space is required of societies that plan on surviving for the next couple of centuries.

A better idea would be to take care of this place so we can be here for centuries, instead of the pure folly of us humans colonizing some distant world that is habitable. The closest star to us is 4.37 light years away, or 5.9 trillion miles.

Scott M said...

A better idea would be to take care of this place so we can be here for centuries, instead of the pure folly of us humans colonizing some distant world that is habitable. The closest star to us is 4.37 light years away, or 5.9 trillion miles.

You're an unbelievable simpleton. I'm sure the left is glad to have you. I'm done pointing out how wrong you are so often.

Original Mike said...

By fudging data, you mean plotting a more accurate graph by inserting actual temp readings into the record, and taking out proxy tree ring data.

:rolleyes:

SteveR said...

Getting back to the moon would be only a step toward a bigger goal and not an end, in and of itself. Just like Gemini was to Apollo. While I agree that actual human experience would trump the scientific gain, there are some order of magnitude difficulties with something as "simple" as a manned Mars mission, not including cost.

But in principle, it (or something equally ambitious) has to be our goal.

Dan Karipides said...

>> I like Althouse too much to
>> express my visceral response to
>> her unpleasantly dismissive
>> comments on this subject.
>
> I was too upset to express my
> similar sentiment.

Me too. I actually wrote up a long response but it didn't post for some reason. Quoting the above will have to do.

A staggeringly short-sighted view from Ann. Disappointment doesn't begin to cover my reaction.

Hoosier Daddy said...

A better idea would be to take care of this place so we can be here for centuries

Great idea. Why don't you lead by example and get rid of that BMW or whatever Kraut clunker you proudly drive and get in a Prius?

Or do you mean for the rest of us to be the caretakers?

master cylinder said...

Do you think this might be a sentimental aspiration for some here? What is the objective of space exploration?

Hoosier Daddy said...

instead of the pure folly of us humans colonizing some distant world that is habitable. The closest star to us is 4.37 light years away, or 5.9 trillion miles.


Actually is not all that impossible. You obviously found a way to bend space and time since you clearly live in a parallel universe.

Sofa King said...

It astounds me that someone could say something like this:

A better idea would be to take care of this place so we can be here for centuries, instead of the pure folly of us humans colonizing some distant world that is habitable. The closest star to us is 4.37 light years away, or 5.9 trillion miles.

And at the same time, with a straight face, deny they are a conservative.

Skyler said...

Grow up, boys. It's not worth it.

I was too upset to express my similar sentiment.

Jeez loweez. I think men who complain that they are upset by something so petty have bigger problems.

We can't rightly complain about hyper sensitive PC feminism if we act like a bunch of women and get too upset about such a mild rebuke.

Sofa King said...

What is the objective of space exploration?

To...explore? To advance limits? To extend the envelope? To seek, to quest, to fail, to overcome, to succeed? To inspire? To motivate? To learn? Any of these meet your favor?

Or do the only valid objectives to you involve someone receiving a check for money they didn't earn?

Lem said...

What is the objective of space exploration?

Haven't you ever heard of the Lewis and Clark expedition?

Scott M said...

What is the primary goal of space exploration?

Space exploration is a side effect of what the primary objective should be…complete mastery of our own orbit. The engineering involved, i.e. material science, power-generation, biologics, etc, are immense and, as I’ve said before, a very beneficial side-effect. The primary goal, space mastery, is a strategic goal ensuring that we’re not going to be under someone else’s thumb.

I’ll have to dig it up, but I remember reading a study on the cost of the Apollo program, adjusted for inflation, and the amount of capital generated in the consumer market since through the tertiary technologies like computer, microwaves, etc. It wasn’t even close.


@Sofa

A better idea would be to take care of this place so we can be here for centuries, instead of the pure folly of us humans colonizing some distant world that is habitable. The closest star to us is 4.37 light years away, or 5.9 trillion miles.

How in any way do you consider that to be a conservative viewpoint?

master cylinder said...

I can do all those things by reading books. Lewis and Clark again? Any specifics?

rhhardin said...

Space exploration was to get away from women.

That's been spoiled now by having women astronauts.

Lem said...

I think men who complain that they are upset by something so petty have bigger problems.

Coming from a professor, yes.

The idea that the prize to pay for quest for knowledge is too burdensome to bear?

I would have never expected it from Althouse.

Synova said...

"How in any way do you consider that to be a conservative viewpoint?"

It's a conservative viewpoint in that it resists change.

Is it a Conservative viewpoint... probably not so much.

Sofa King said...

Really? You can do those things reading books? You're not so new-agey that you think imagining something is the same as doing it, are you?

That's like saying Star Trek was an adequate substitute for actually going to the moon.

Original Mike said...

"I can do all those things by reading books."

Did you mean to be funny? 'Cause I had to wipe the spittle off my monitor after reading that.

Trooper York said...

Sammy: But Mike said that you were talking to another girl at the other end of the bar.
Ronnie: Mike? Fuck Mike. When are you going to realized that Mike is not your friend?
(Jersey Shore, 2010)

Sofa King said...

How in any way do you consider that to be a conservative viewpoint?

Because it is willing to trade away anything - even the things that are essential to human spirit - for the sake of continuing the status quo. That's like the dictionary definition of "conservative."

Trooper York said...

Wake up Boys! This ain't my first time at the fuckin' Rodeo!
(Joan Crawford, Mommie Dearest 1981)

master cylinder said...

Talk about new-agey!

To...explore? To advance limits? To extend the envelope? To seek, to quest, to fail, to overcome, to succeed? To inspire? To motivate? To learn? Any of these meet your favor?

Scott M said...

@Synova

It's a conservative viewpoint in that it resists change.

I know you and I are probably on the same side of this, but since it's a hot-button with me, I'll just state that assuming a facet of conservative politics is a knee-jerk resistance to change is walking through the political landscape with very large blinders on. It's among the worst sort of analysis of left and right and probably inhabited by garage and his ilk...a population of ideologues that apparently don't understand that our solar system is an extremely large place full of places to call home for a variety of good reasons.

Chris said...

I'm for manned space exploration but it is a gut feeling. I can't really come up with a single good reason to spend government money on it except for the cool factor. The whole get of this rock argument to save the species seems pretty silly. No matter how bad we fuck up the earth, it is always going to be a better place to live than Mars.

Lem said...

Insta..

..this quote from Rand Simberg remains on point: “It’s not NASA’s job to send a man to Mars. It’s NASA’s job to make it possible for the National Geographic Society to send a man to Mars.” Will the Obama administration get NASA to focus on that approach?

Granted maybe the private sector should be more involved but in the end (because of the long term nature of the project, not to mention the complex viability) only government has the capacity and the staying power to see it thru.

Trooper York said...

What most fear about space exploration is what we might find!

Synova said...

"Space exploration was to get away from women.

That's been spoiled now by having women astronauts.
"

;-P

Women are physically smaller than men. They use less space, less food, less material, and respirate less than the average sized man. Fewer pounds means a woman costs less to lift out of the gravity well and into orbit.

If astronauts were limited to humans between 4-10 and 5-4 there would easily be enough capable women to fill the ranks.

And if setting up housekeeping out there some where is the goal, wombs are the more valuable asset.

(Someday I'll write a story about space dwelling human primordial dwarfes... but if we can't do that on purpose (and inducing the mutation on purpose would be a great story idea too) there simply aren't enough... so small women it will have to be.)

Synova said...

"...only government has the capacity and the staying power to see it thru."

Capacity, yes. But staying power?

Scott M said...

Capacity, yes. But staying power?

Sure...just look at how long the Washington monument has been...erect.

Lem said...

Maybe not staying power..

Trooper York said...

Plus where are all the guys and gals at NASA gonna get new jobs?

Robert Cook said...

Hoosier Daddy said:

"Yes because removing Islamic terrorists who want to kill us makes Cookie sad."

Except that most of those we're killing are not Islamic terrorists; it's people whose own "homelands" (I hate that Nazi-ist term) we've invaded without cause. Many of these people may now want to kill us, because, wouldn't you want to kill people who stormed into your town/state/country and bombed the fuck out of your infrastucture, imprisoned and tortured or killed thousands of your countrymen, and rendered many of the survivors homeless or maimed?

Drill Sgt. said,

"as for cookie and his DoD fantasy, there is only the non-Orwell quote in response:

'Gentle people sleep soundly in their beds because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.'"


Very poetic, although it's accuracy and provenance are in question, (see info I pasted below here). However, World War II aside, we have not fought a single war since (arguably) the Civil War that was either justified or necessary. Not one.

From Wikipedia:

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
Alternative: "We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us."
In his 1945 "Notes on Nationalism", Orwell claimed that the statement, "Those who ‘abjure’ violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf" was a "grossly obvious" fact. "Notes on Nationalism"
Notes: allegedly said by George Orwell although there is no evidence that Orwell ever wrote or uttered either of these versions of this idea. They do bear some similarity to comments made in an essay that Orwell wrote on Rudyard Kipling, when quoting from one of his poems. Orwell did write, in his essay on Kipling, that the latter's "grasp of function, of who protects whom, is very sound. He sees clearly that men can only be highly civilized while other men, inevitably less civilized, are there to guard and feed them." (1942)
"Yes, making mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep" - Rudyard Kipling (Tommy)
"I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it." - Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men)
Alternative: "We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." - Winston Churchill (miscellaneous quotation, no date)

Freeman Hunt said...

MC:
(1) To unchain ourselves from Earth and maximize the chances of human survival in the event of catastrophe.
(2) To find out what is out there. Broaden our knowledge. Motivate the create new technologies.
(3) To exploit the resources outside of our planet.
(4) To protect our interests. As I wrote above, someone will put out the effort to make a real presence in space. Unless you do the same, they will rule you. How will you fight a foe that you can't even reach but that can reach you?
(5) Humans are curious by nature. It serves us well. It's only natural that we would explore space.

And there are more, but just those five are enough. In fact, each one is enough individually.

master cylinder said...

Maybe we can get the Vatican to pick up the slack, arent they ready to receive interplanetary comunications? They have the money.

Palladian said...

" The whole get of this rock argument to save the species seems pretty silly. No matter how bad we fuck up the earth, it is always going to be a better place to live than Mars."

"It is important for the human race to spread out into space for the survival of the species... Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of."

Physicist Stephen Hawking

Night2night said...

We need to pursue dreams and capabilities whose utility is not always apparent at the start. I've spent about 20 years in medical device R&D, but the sad reality is the majority of corporate funds are spent on incremental improvements, and restating of intellectual property claims to extend patent protection. The human enterprise is about more than the achievement of planned profits.

The first workable electronic transistor (eventually replacing vacuum tubes) at Bell Labs was about the size of a coffee cup. I doubt its inventors could have foreseen either the IPOD, or PC, within 50 years of its invention.

For me, the potential payback of our species learning how to survive and possibly transverse that hostile environment is worth the investment of an exceedingly small proportion of the federal budget it currently consumes.

Trooper York said...

Mankind will never suceed in space unless woman are an intergral part of the process. Everbody knowsthat!

Hoosier Daddy said...

Except that most of those we're killing are not Islamic terrorists

Even Cookie found out how to live in a parallel universe where 9/11 never happened.

Palladian said...

master cylinder should change his name to slave cylinder.

When did so many "liberals" become incurious, protectionist cynics?

Hoosier Daddy said...

However, World War II aside, we have not fought a single war since (arguably) the Civil War that was either justified or necessary. Not one.

Why WW2 Cookie? What beef did we have with the Germans? despite what Blutarski said, the Germans didn't bomb Pearl Harbor but we still bombed them short of the stone age anyway.

Your evident dislike of this country amazes me that you continue to live here. If I thought the way you did I could not in good conscience stay here which makes you pretty pathetic in my opinion.

Scott M said...

When did so many "liberals" become incurious, protectionist cynics?

...and why are they so willing to squander public treasure for things that don't work, have a negative impact, or end up just disappearing down the rat hole of public funding corruption?

Theo Boehm said...

Who needs human space exploration, when you can sit in your room with the internet?

master cylinder said...

I know Palladian, I did not attend the right schools, you've already told me.

Lem said...

I would go as far as to say if we don't explore we may hasten our extinction.

Skyler said...

Again with the comparisons to Lewis and Clark.

But after L&C returned, Jefferson didn't send another team out. Nor did Madison or Monroe or any other president.

They let the people, free to come and go, to travel where they pleased and they settled the continent. No government effort was involved except to provide some incentives from time to time to settle specific places.

Our government went to the moon. And then went back several times. Now it's time for the free people of our country to go there if they so choose. There's no real point to the government doing again what it's already done and found no real use for.

Paddy O. said...

"The government didn't settle the west, people did."

What the government did is pass the Homestead Act, which made the West a place for new beginnings and fresh opportunities. It was an incentive.

And that's what the role should be today.

Government made the breakthroughs at a time when only the government could have pursued it. That's not the case now. It can open the doors for others to join in. If there are no incentives at all for private industry then what is the point? The West was popular because there was a pressing need, and an abundance of resources, which pushed people into exploration and settling. It was not about exploration, it was, indeed, an immensely successful jobs program.

What's the pressing need? Pride? Adventure? Apocalyptic fretting? That's just not pressing. Yes, technology can be developed, but it seems there's all sorts of other directions technology is moving, ways it wasn't moving in the 50s and 60s, that provide many other paths of discovery, all with significantly more practical, pressing goals.

Scott M said...

It's pretty simple. We just need NASA to go find out that the moon, in fact, has huge deposits of unobtanium and that there are unbelievable deposits of improbabilium in the Belts.

That's all it would take. Why are we arguing about the obvious?

Trooper York said...

We need to keep the girls in space!

Trooper York said...

That's for you Beth!

garage mahal said...

Great idea. Why don't you lead by example and get rid of that BMW or whatever Kraut clunker you proudly drive and get in a Prius?

Why don't you lead by example and get your ass to Afghanistan or Iraq?

Lem said...

Who needs human space exploration, when you can sit in your room with the internet?

lol..

The internet.. there is a good example of what Freeman is talking about.

If China or Russia had developed the internet does anybody think it would be so readily available?

Synova said...

"I'll just state that assuming a facet of conservative politics is a knee-jerk resistance to change is walking through the political landscape with very large blinders on."

I think that conservative politics is an application, which means that it's not "knee-jerk" at all. In fact, it sort of resists "knee-jerk" in the same way as resisting change. The point is sort of not to "jerk" (or move in a rapid way without considering or planning the move).

So while "lets stay here and just sort of stay here" is conservative, it's not really conservative politics because, for all the romanticism, it's still based on a rational assessment of what is actually true and past experiences and benefits of a space program.

It's not sudden movement.

And it's not based on doing something we haven't done or don't understand.

Take, for example, garage claiming we should work to make the world livable for centuries *instead of* expanding humanity into space.

Firstly... humanity is not *leaving*. We can't. The math can not possibly support an exodus. It can support a diaspora. Which means doing both, going and staying.

What we know from experience is that any time we *go* somewhere, it increases the standard of living for those who *stay*.

This isn't uncharted territory or untested theory.

Immediate, or near immediate benefits of a focused drive to get us into space, on the moon - absolutely, out to Mars and *living* there, is development of energy technologies that transfer to ecological applications without hardly trying, and extensive research and understanding into environmental science that ought to do the same and just as easily.

So what is the problem? Established and repeated examples that the desired results are what will actually happen.

It may be "conservative" to resist expansion, but that doesn't force those pointing out that there is nothing new or untested about the principles involved into some other non-conservative view point.

A non-conservative view point would be that humans can decide to do this other thing that has never worked before and this time it will.

Or something.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Why don't you lead by example and get your ass to Afghanistan or Iraq?

LOL!

Oh garage you just don't like being put in a corner now do you?

There is no age limit on reducing carbon emissions garage. So now you gonna put your money where your big mouth is?

Robert Cook said...

"Why WW2 Cookie? What beef did we have with the Germans? despite what Blutarski said, the Germans didn't bomb Pearl Harbor but we still bombed them short of the stone age anyway."

Aside from the threat Hitler posed to us simply by his potential to conquer Europe, and then perhaps on to us, Germany declared war on the United States just days after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.

Trooper York said...

Grow up boys! hippies have always hated space exploration.

Freeman Hunt said...

The plan was to go to the moon to then go to Mars. Not to just sit on the moon.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Aside from the threat Hitler posed to us simply by his potential to conquer Europe, and then perhaps on to us,

Hitler posed as much of a threat to us then as Saddam did in 2003. 1) Hitler didn't have the capability to invade England much less cross the Atlantic and take NY. 2)By 1942 nearlry 75% of the German army was being decimated on the Eastern Front. 3) So what if he conquered Europe?

Germany declared war on the United States just days after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.

So? Send Cordell Hull to Berlin, agree to a cease fire and be done with it. No harm no foul.

But in reality, Japan instigated the war with the US and Germany was made the primary focus of the war. Sounds kind of familiar.

Synova said...

WW2 can't be justified by expansions that never happened.

And what's wrong with speaking German, anyway?

Supposed "pacifists" need a "good" war to point to, I understand that, but honestly... if WW2 is a "good" war then so is Iraq and Afghanistan and it is to our eternal shame and damnation that we just let them kill people in Burma and Darfur until they tired of it.

The Germans would have tired of it, too, and grown past simplistic ideas of race. And we'd be living just as fat and happy today, and have national health care, and be getting rid of brain dead vegetables and keeping pesky poor people from breeding too much.

garage mahal said...

So you're too old to fight now? Haha. I thought you were the big mountain bike triathlon guy, a perfect fit for running around the mountains in Afghanistan. Hmmph. Anyways I recycle old cars, I buy cheap, fix them up, [with many used parts] drive them for awhile until I get sick of them and sell them. I'm down to one 6 cylinder BMW that passes smog.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Actually garage I am in favor of a complete withdrawal from both hellholes, buy off the strongest tribes and let them spend time killing each other since thats all they seem capable of accomplishing.

Der Hahn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

The one good thing about this is the plan to "farm out" heavy lifting contracts to private firms. The big question will be what kind of regulatory hurdles will be bundled with the money; it's not a recipe I expect this Administration to get correct, but then I don't expect this Administration to be in office after 2012.

I hate to admit it, but NASA is probably now more of a hindrance than a help when it comes to making real advances in space exploration. (A model where it provided project management services, seed money, and very basic research would be more effective than the current "let's build big toys" paradigm. They don't even do that very well, re: Hubble's initial astigmatism, the Shuttle's myriad problems, etc.)

Der Hahn said...

garage mahal said...
By fudging data, you mean plotting a more accurate graph by inserting actual temp readings into the record, and taking out proxy tree ring data.


Yes, it's fudging data if you do it because the tempatures you're extrapolating from the tree rings don't agree with the results you want to present, and you don't tell anybody you're making the switch.

If you can't correlate know tempatures to tree rings, how accurate are your estimates of unkown tempatures?

Hoosier Daddy said...

So you're too old to fight now? Haha. I thought you were the big mountain bike triathlon guy, a perfect fit for running around the mountains in Afghanistan

Mountain bikes are for pussies. Triatheltes use roadies Anyway, its not my call, its the military's. They set the age rules garage not me. I just have to follow them.

You know garage, I believe in good and vigorous law enforcement too but that doesn't mean I have to joing the Indy PD.

Smilin' Jack said...

"It is important for the human race to spread out into space for the survival of the species... Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global warming..."

Physicist Stephen Hawking


Yeah, if the temperature goes up a few degrees I'm gonna want to move to Mars, because the climate is so much better there.

Hawking is a smart guy, but he's been am idiot on the global warming thing.

Robert Cook said...

"But in reality, Japan instigated the war with the US and Germany was made the primary focus of the war."

In reality, Japan attacked us and Germany declared war on us. On both fronts, we were fighting from a defensive posture. We were the aggressors against Iraq and Afghanistan. (Afghanistan is not Al Qaeda.)

Hussein was never a threat to us at all, while Hitler was, so your comparison of the two is ridiculous, as is your attempt to paint Hitler as a mere paper tiger.

Skyler said...

Garage, your challenge is absurd. I've been to Iraq in 2005 and had to carry my share of dead bodies. I'm heading to Afghanistan in December time frame.

Do I now have some moral authority over you?

Falacious arguments are all we ever see from you.

Scott M said...

@Robert

On both fronts, we were fighting from a defensive posture. We were the aggressors against Iraq and Afghanistan. (Afghanistan is not Al Qaeda.)

Yes...I remember very clearly the day the stormtroopers were marching down main street in Savannah. Oh, wait...

Defensive posture in the Pacific? Maybe at first glance. I'll even give you the first six months. After that it was attack-attack-attack.

Defensive posture in Europe? LOL, maybe in Bastogne, but invading Normandy, Sicily, etc doesn't exactly strike me as "defensive".

Lem said...

(6) - After the steroid era we are going to need the thin martian air to break Mark McGwire's roid induced records. Its the only way to save the game's tarnished image ;)

Synova said...

Hitler was never a threat to us.

Nor was the idea that he was a threat overwhelmingly held by Americans. Isolationists had an incredibly strong lobby. The president, essentially, had to "lie" us into WW2. Some even say provoking the Pearl Harbor attack to do so. (No, no familiar themes here.) After the war in Europe was hot and raging, Americans argued if we should even supply England... and the fact we did led to that U-boat attack. That was our choice to make. Or our president's choice to lead us into the war.

Hitler was not any kind of threat to the United States. Japan was not really a threat either, despite Pearl Harbor. There were too many places for them to expand to that weren't as far. Pearl Harbor was a one time attack and not an invasion.

After the war started in earnest the best Japan, working as an entire nation, managed to do was send a bomb over the ocean on a weather balloon and it didn't even explode.

Was WW2 a "good" war... yes, I think it was.

Are any of your reasons to support the "good war" anything other than fantasy rationalization? No, they aren't.

garage mahal said...

Garage, your challenge is absurd.

Of course it is. So is "you must travel barefoot and live a mud hut without electricity" if you simply believe the earth is warming, based on thermometer readings and visual evidence.

Original Mike said...

Afghanistan is not Al Qaeda."

Yeah, and I don't remember us attacking "Afghanistan." And for that matter, I don't remember us attacking "Iraq" either.

Skyler said...

Pearl Harbor was a one time attack and not an invasion.

Um, there was Wake Island, the Philipines, the Aleutians, Midway, etc. The Japanese had no intention of stopping.

Mahal, give up on the global warming. The conspiracy was unmasked.

Wasn't this thread supposed to be about the moon?

Trooper York said...

Oh I thought it was about Star Trek.

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