April 18, 2010

Obama cancelled the new moon mission partly "to make sure that we’ve canceled everything George Bush wanted to do, whether it’s the right thing to do or not."

Says Harrison Schmitt, who walked on the moon in 1972. But the main thing is "the Obama administration, including the president, is made up of people who do not really like what America has been. And our prowess in space is part of what America has been. And I think they would just as soon see us take a second- or third-rate status in that."

Strong words. Schmitt will be speaking here in Madison tomorrow night (Monday, April 19th) at 6:45 p.m. in room 1610 of Engineering Hall, 1415 Engineering Drive.

I have to admit I'm not a big supporter of space travel. Maybe I'll give Schmitt a chance to convince me otherwise.

***


Old song lyric that played in my head as I wrote this:
Well, I don’t know, but I’ve been told
The streets in heaven are lined with gold
I ask you how things could get much worse
If the Russians happen to get up there first
Wowee! pretty scary!
Sorry. I've never seen what it was all for.

142 comments:

Issob Morocco said...

Don't worry Ann in a couple of billion years you will understand why we need space travel to know where our descendants want to set up a new colony.

Paddy O. said...

Watched The Dish the other night for the second time.

Nice, pleasant, funny Australian film that gives a renewed sense of the meaning of the moon landing.

themightypuck said...

Going to the moon now is like trying to build a ladder to heaven a couple thousand years ago. Nice idea but not really cost effective.

gk1 said...

It's interesting to see my astronaut heros choose sides on this issue. Armstrong, Schmidt & Collins on one side calling obama a loser and Buzz Aldrin taking obama's side. Seems like the whitehouse should stop pissing at the tea partiers long enough to notice and make an outreach effort to our surviving moon walkers.

themightypuck said...

Oops. I meant Mars. Doh!!

Lynne said...

The Dish is one of my favorite films. It really does recreate the awed magic of the moon landing.
It's also warm, funny, and nicely written and acted.
Just an all-around nice flick, always worth watching.

Bob said...

> Sorry. I've never seen what it was all for.

Probably because you're a girl. Space is really a boy thing.

Ann Althouse said...

"Probably because you're a girl. Space is really a boy thing."

Yeah? Well, quit using my tax money to try to enlarge your cock.

George said...

"Sorry. I've never seen what it was all for."

...she says, typing on her laptop, posting photos from her digital camera, and occasionally taking/making phone calls on her wireless cell phone...NONE of which would probably have come about at the size and price they are available today if it hadn't been for the space program.

But hey, maybe it's just a guy thing.

Paddy O. said...

As I watched The Dish I really did get a sense of how fascinating it would be to do again. But as I think of it again this morning, I think it's not the getting there that would be the key bit.

We've been there, done that. Forty years ago, in fact. If going to the moon would mean strapping astronauts into the top of a rocket and getting them there and back in almost the exact same approach as before, then I think there's no great benefit.

That's been the trouble with space travel for a long while. We're in a new era of communication and technology, but the Shuttle is itself 30 years old and looks it.

To get interest going, there would have to be a radical change in transportation, something that would show significant advancement and be as groundbreaking as what we did before--something that would visibly, obviously suggest the future rather than a repeated moon landing that merely echoes the past.

Doing it again isn't enough. We would have to do again with style.

AllenS said...

Well, if nobody can walk on the Moon again, there's always walking on the globe of Ritmos' cranium. So, we've got that goin for us.

Paddy O. said...

"ONE of which would probably have come about at the size and price they are available today if it hadn't been for the space program."

Or the military. Or all kinds of other things. What has the manned space program done for us lately?

I think everyone applauds the fact we have done what we've done. It was a major feat. But why pour money into doing more when funding could be poured into nanotech, or other branches of science which also bear significant practical results? What's on the moon to see again? What can be done now that will wow us?

Those are the questions to be answered and "to stand on the moon" is no long the simple, grand answer that satisfies anymore.

eve said...

Tang.

themightypuck said...

George is making stuff up.

Sheepman said...

Man thinks ’cause he rules the earth he can do with it as he please
And if things don’t change soon, he will.
Oh, man has invented his doom,
First step was touching the moon.

Mark O said...

Using her indoor voice and with the greatest of sophistication Ann said "Yeah? Well, quit using my tax money to try to enlarge your cock."

I didn't, but you may have to ask someone else.

On the other hand, yes, hand, there are many people who do not find much good in the space program, despite the evidence.

It's all so JFK, you know.

Alex said...

Yeah? Well, quit using my tax money to try to enlarge your cock.

Ooooh Ann just did a major smackdown on Bob!

Ann - I think the problem with the space program in general is lack of priorities and corruption in NASA. We'll eventually get to Mars and all that jazz, but we have to get our economic house in order first.

Michael Hasenstab said...

Maybe I'll give Schmitt a chance to convince me otherwise.

Good, because ... all we are saying is give Schmitt a chance.

Sofa King said...

One should be careful not to reverse cause and effect. Expansion is something done by a growing, vigorous society.

Alex said...

BTW, Bush also did alot of the same petty stuff of "let's do everything opposite of Clinton". F.e., nation building was OUT, until it was IN.

Suburbanbanshee said...

Not seeing the point of space expansion is like not seeing the point of moving from Europe to the New World -- or from Asia across the land bridge or Bering shallows, for that matter. Very weird to hear, from an American.

AJ Lynch said...

This type of criticism of Obama will be called "Blacklash" [tm by Seven Machos].

Paul said...

"Obama cancelled the new moon mission partly "to make sure that we’ve canceled everything George Bush wanted to do, whether it’s the right thing to do or not."

I think that's a silly thing to say as Obama obviously has no interest in canceling most of George Bush's rally bad ideas, like making banks lend money to people who won't be able to pay it back, trying to create democracy in the Middle East, giving amnesty to tens of millions of illegal aliens, spending money like there's no tomorrow, etc.

edutcher said...

Typical of the Lefties. It's more important to be against what the other side is doing than to do what's right. This was the real justification for opposing the campaign (one war, several campaigns) in Iraq.

George said...

"Sorry. I've never seen what it was all for."

...she says, typing on her laptop, posting photos from her digital camera, and occasionally taking/making phone calls on her wireless cell phone...NONE of which would probably have come about at the size and price they are available today if it hadn't been for the space program.


Very true. I remember, during the Vietnam War, somebody giving Neil Armstrong a hard time because the money spent on space could have been spent on all those wonderful welfare programs of the Great Society. It was fascinating to watch Armstrong, calmly and in a gentlemanly fashion, nail the guy's hide to the barn door as he explained all the good things (many of them medical) that came out of the space program.

There hasn't been that kind of effort to justify the space program for 30 years and it shows.

Alex said...

...

Ann - I think the problem with the space program in general is lack of priorities and corruption in NASA. We'll eventually get to Mars and all that jazz, but we have to get our economic house in order first.

This is the same crock I mentioned above. The Lefties want that money, along with defense, for their wet dream of a Euro state. If you want to get the economy back in shape, repeal ZeroCare, TARP, stimuli I & II, and most of the other garbage enacted in the last year and cut taxes (and maybe get rid of the welfare payments known as tax credits).

NASA has gotten very uptight since the loss of 2 space shuttles and needs to get its self-confidence
back. Priorities are the President's job and, when we have one again, maybe he'll actually have some besides turning this country into the United Soviet Socialist states of America.

PS I think Ann, as an educated woman, knows full well the benefits of the space program. She's just sparking discussion.

PPS I think the lyrics really are

I don't know, but I been told
Airborne Rangers good as gold
They are mean and they carry a gun
To kill them (insert bad guy's name) just for fun

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Civilization is all about enlarging cocks. If men didn't have to go out and make something of themselves to get status and impress potential mates we would all still be living in caves wiping our asses with leaves and dying of natural causes at 35....

Beldar said...

@ themightypuck: Building a "ladder to heaven" now -- a space elevator into low earth orbit -- would in fact be expensive but ultimately extremely cost effective, a far better solution to the problem of earth's gravity well than using rockets.

@ Prof. Althouse: I associate myself with Suburbanbanshee's remarks. It makes me slightly sad to contemplate your lack of support for the space program, because I can only explain it by a lack of imaginative ambition for the future of humanity. Perhaps you should read more speculative fiction? Or debate this issue with Prof. Reynolds? In any event, it would be inexpressibly sad were we to turn out to be self-limited to this one planet.

Alex said...

Beldar - I think our fine Professor does not oppose the spirit of the space program, but the current corrupt mess. Plus the fact that we're bankrupt and can't afford anything right now. So I guess you really don't care about the deficit as long as NASA gets theirs.

Joe said...

Schmitt is wrong by granting the Obama administration much more deliberation than they deserve.

(I'm not a big supporter of the manned space program, but don't see the Obama administration policies making much sense in any direction. I doubt they collectively spent more than five minutes thinking about it.)

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"Probably because you're a girl. Space is really a boy thing."

Yeah? Well, quit using my tax money to try to enlarge your cock.

HA HA HA.

Well, I'm a girl and I see great value in the Moon and possibly Mars (in the future). Not so much in space travel and epeen puruposes but in strategic resources.

The moon may have a lot of mineral resources that are unavailable on Earth. The moon can be a strategic base for spotting and fending off the next mega planet busting asteroid that can be coming our way.

If we do plan to go to Mars for more than just a looksee, the Moon would be a good place from which to build and launch.

As our network of aging satellites, that track weather and coordinate communication among other things, begin to fail or get knocked out of commission by space junk, the moon again would be a good location to relaunch.

Experimental programs and dangerous bio hazzard types of materials could better be experimented upon in labratories on the Moon instead of on populated earth.

Items that we haven't even dreampt of yet, can be manufactured on the low gravity and zero atmosphere of the moon. Who knows what kind of scientific advances we might be able to make?

Plus it would just be cool that humans have begun to make the jump beyond our nest on Earth.

Joan said...

Sorry. I've never seen what it was all for.

Don't apologize. You're not sorry. I detest the habit of apologizing for things you're not sorry for -- not that it's a habit with Prof Althouse, it's a cultural habit. Ick.

The real reason to establish a base on the moon is to gain the ability to easily assert global dominance whenever we really want to, see: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

(I'm only kinda sorta kidding.)

Alex said...

BTW, I'm a huge sci-fi fan, so I totally get the need to keep pushing forward. To the stars.

But we need to get our fiscal house in order first. Remember even in Star Trek, the had WW3 before they went to the stars....

themightypuck said...

@Beldar. I don't disagree. My point is simply that being against wasteful government programs is not the same as being against human advancement or space exploration.

@edutcher. So you are basically resigned to high taxes and figure some giant top down wasteful government programs are lesser evils. This makes some sense although you lose some of the moral argument against redistribution.

Joe said...

How about the government being more lenient with crazies who want to fly to orbit? Thank God, our current government wasn't around a century ago; we would have never developed the airplane and automobile.

David said...

"I have to admit I'm not a big supporter of space travel."

Other than to bring the world a technological and communications revolution, which the United States lead and the former third world is using to improve living conditions for billions, the space program has had little benefit.

Consider:

Satellite communications and its social and political consequences
The microchip and computer miniaturization
GPS
Knowledge explosion in physics
Crucial new data sources for geology and environmental science

This is a very short sample from a long list.

Some of these might never have been developed without the space program. Others would have been greatly slowed or gone in very different directions.

In the long term (in addition to its crucial military implications) colonization of the moon offers amazing potential to supply energy to the earth by capturing and transmitting solar energy.

You have to think big to get to some of these results. Obama is playing small ball. Think bigger, Althouse.

Paul Snively said...

Ultimately, it's so our far-future descendants don't have to die when the planet does, which is physically inevitable. Granted, we're talking billions of years from now, but just as heavier-than-air flight began with the Wright brothers, getting off of planet Earth has to start somewhere.

Flexo said...

You're not a big supporter of space travel. Fair enough.

But are you a big supporter of a president who thinks he is an expert on EVERYTHING and knows better how to run everything and, hence, has sought to take over everything, from running car companies to financial institutions to the medical industry to insurance companies to education finance to mining operations and, now, space travel?

Charlie Martin said...

I'm quite certain there were people in Madrid saying "New world? Are you nuts?"

El Pollo Real said...

It is interesting that Obama nixes essentially what was JFK's most inspiring goal.

Just more evidence that Obama is the anti-JFK democrat.

Charlie Martin said...

But are you a ex-supporter of a president who thinks he is an expert on EVERYTHING and knows better how to run everything and,...

You apparently haven't been reading here much recently. Correction applied.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't see how you can complain about the government spending too much money and then also complain when it cuts off the one thing you love.

The Drill SGT said...

I have to admit I'm not a big supporter of space travel.

I watched Apollo 13 again the other night on the anniversary.

I think I'm a pretty stoic guy, and of course I knew how it turns out, but both the launch and the landing bring me to tears.

Those guys had the right stuff.

The Saturn V? The most powerful thing ever built that doesn't cause fallout.

themightypuck said...

@David. How do you decide what is small ball and what is big ball? Manned mission to Mars by 2020? How about Proxima Centuari. It all comes down to tradeoffs. It isn't like the space program is being abandoned. It is just being downsized.

chuck b. said...

"Well, quit using my tax money to try to enlarge your cock."

Most of humanity's greatest accomplishments may be attributed to the enlargement of cock.

Gabriel Hanna said...

What good is space travel? What good is a newborn baby, as Michael Faraday would say. I don't think Ann thinks much of hard science or scientists, so quoting Michael Faraday is not the way to go, to persuade her at any rate.

It might be a good idea to review some of the contemporary criticism regarding the Louisiana Purchase, or the purchase of Alaska. In 1800 California was the Siberia of Mexico.

Without going into space the human species will be forever limited to the standard of living supplied by the energy the Earth intercepts from the sun. Someday coal and oil are going to be gone and some day after that so will the uranium. Nothing can be recycled forever, not metal ,not plastic, not energy.

But we can probably run an industrial civilization for a thousand years or so, before we have to give it all up, if we choose to forgo space.

Gabriel Hanna said...

I don't see how you can complain about the government spending too much money and then also complain when it cuts off the one thing you love.

Because the government is spending nearly all its money on Social Security, Medicare, defense and interest on the debt. NASA, at 18.7 billion, represents 0.005% of the Federal budget.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/ce/Fy2010_spending_by_category.jpg

But of course it's vitally important that we cut a small investment in humanity's future, those savings in the fifth decimal pace are bound to add up.

After all, if we think government is spending too much money, we must oppose all spending equally.

Alex said...

I don't see what we're really arguing about here anyways. Obama will do whatever he wants.

El Pollo Real said...

What are Obama's truly visionary goals? And I don't mean things that other nations have already done.

wv: misses

El Pollo Real said...

It has always seemed obvious to me that this President's goals are in line with his mother's which were to redistribute the accrued wealth of the western world, to lessen the power and majesty of the USA, and essentially to blur the connections between a nations past accomplishments and its future goals.

bill sherman said...

re: "never been able to see what it's all for...".....capitalism in space - i.e. endless trade since earth's resources are finite; places for the empowered to live when our planet is finally poisoned; control and power - i.e. fear of invasion; and, obviously, megabucks at stake.

Joe said...

Drill Sgt; once again, I loved watching Gemini, Apollo and Skylab (don't remember Mercury), but the current manned space program is a joke. The ISS is a white elephant that even all but the biggest fans at NASA wants to deorbit. NASAs unmanned space program is nothing short of stunning and largely unsung.

As for sending men to Mars. Entirely pointless and prohibitively expensive given how chicken shit and risk averse NASA is. So risk averse, they won't even let private enterprise lunatics do their thing. If there's money to be made in space, let private enterprise try!

WestVirginiaRebel said...

What it was all for

Inspiring a generation of kids to think about space and the future in a positive way? Granted the political aspect of the space race was cynical, but not the idea.

More on what we got out of going to the Moon here.

chr1 said...

1. The technology that has resulted from space missions and concentrating that many smart people on those missions is incalculable.

2. It is part of our deepest intellectual and moral dignity to explore the unknown, and figure out how far we can go, and to solve the problems that arise

3. Security: Through nuclear war, or strike by any unforeseen body (aesteroid), life as we know could be extinguished in an instant. Let's do it.

4. The mathematics, physics, and engineering that are required unite people around the globe much more than nearly any other endeavor I can think of.

Just for starters...

Gabriel Hanna said...

I think for space travel to really pay off, there first needs to be something cheaper than rockets to get into orbit. Getting into orbit is what costs; getting to anywhere else in the solar system is very cheap, as the unmanned probes demonstrate.

Perhaps an analogy is to building a railroad. Before the transcontinental railroad you could go to the Pacific coast but it was a long, expensive, and often fatal trip, and few people made it more than once. After the railroad, then everything started to pay off.

In this analogy rockets are like the Oregon trail.

I'm not a big fan of the way NASA does things now. I think if our government and maybe some of the other OECD nations ought to invest in figuring out how to put things in orbit cheaply. It's not like there aren't already lots of ideas.

Alex said...

I'm sure Althouse would be in favor of removing the regulations off private space exploration. Right?

AJ Lynch said...

El Pollo - you just nailed it. Obama's visionary goal is to get revenge for the alleged mistreatment of his mother by the system. How-by redoing everything about the current system. Obama has no inspiring vision that he follows IMO. He is the bitter one.

wv = bitonate Jeremy!

Gabriel Hanna said...

@chr1:

I think one of the reasons space travel pays off is because it forces us to solve problems that we didn't know we had.

It's one thing to find the answer to a question you already have in mind. But there are things we don't know yet that we need to know.

In doing something that's never been done before, questions will come up that no one ever thought to ask. This is exactly what happened with the Apollo program.

In order to send people to Mars and bring them back, or to keep people alive on the Moon, we will need to develop ways to control a sealed environment and to use and recycle materials efficiently and generate energy without a large infrastructure.

But that kind of knowledge could NEVER be useful on Earth, right? We don't need to know how to neutralize poisons that build up in air and water, or feed people with very little energy and water available--none of that knowledge could ever be of any use.

It's all about cock.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I don't see how you can complain about the government spending too much money and then also complain when it cuts off the one thing you love.

I think there is a big difference between spending and spending on programs that are ineffective, social engineering, counter productive and stifling of our freedoms.....and spending on programs that will bring about actual progress, technological innovations and advancement of humanity.

I know: I'm assuming that an effective space program will do the latter. That IS speculative. However, we know that the socialistic engineering of society is a failure, always has been a failure.

I can complain about inefficient wasteful spending of tax money all day.

I also must agree, that if the space shuttle program is just going to be repeating over and over the same things and NOT advancing or innovating, it also is wasteful.

Kind of like our "public school education" practices are a wasteful failure. Perhaps we should defund that program as well.

AJ Lynch said...

Althouse:

If they eliminate the Dept of Education's $100 billion budget, I think conservatives would agree to give up the space program but also perhaps seek alternative ways to fund it.

But get the libs to eliminate Dept of Educ first.

peter hoh said...

Ah, yes. Obama "canceled everything George Bush wanted to do."

Right.

That would explain why Gitmo is closed and we no longer have troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Pastafarian said...

Althouse said: "I don't see how you can complain about the government spending too much money and then also complain when it cuts off the one thing you love."

???

So if we oppose government spending on some things, we have to oppose government spending on all things?

As others have pointed out, spending on the space program has brought huge returns on the investment. Anyone who thinks we'd have cell phones, GPS, plasma deposition systems that are used in the mass fabrication of microchips, and a myriad of other advancements without the jumpstart of the space program doesn't understand the engineering behind these things, and the history of that engineering.

In comparison, consider this example: What do we get in return for money spent on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (what was once referred to as "food stamps")? These benefits:

1) Obnoxious liberal arts majors can go out and purchase wild line-caught salmon with our money;

2) Said obnoxious liberal arts majors can turn said salmon into poop;

3) These assholes can remain unemployed (funemployed) for even longer than they would if not for this program -- it actually subsidizes sloth;

4) And they can then go out and vote in droves for candidates who promise to give them more of your money.

Score! Now there's money well-spent. When that earth-destroying comet or asteroid is spotted on a collision course with our planet, I'll be damned glad we didn't invest that whopping 3 or 4 billion dollars with NASA, and instead handed 100 times as much to jobless pot-heads with the munchies.

Althouse said: "Yeah? Well, quit using my tax money to try to enlarge your cock."

Even though you were replying to a pretty shitty piece of snark here, the vitriol in your reply makes me wonder if there's more than cold, dispassionate fiscal responsibility motivating your dislike of the space program.

TRO said...

Aside from the fact that the space program has given us numerous technological wonders that otherwise probably never would have been discovered/developed, it seems obvious to me that the human race has an need to explore. And since our only real option is space, well then space is where we need to go.

As to cock-enlarging, thank God for it or we would still be sitting around in the forest somewhere picking nits off each other.

Finally, some government programs are worth spending money on. Space flight was one and can be again. Under another president obviously.

Pastafarian said...

And please spare me the lawerly equivocations about opposing "space travel" and not the space program. Unless our goal here is to get some really gnarly photos of the Horsehead Nebula, manned space flight is the whole fucking point of the endeavor.

Shit, I'd better say "peopled space flight", lest I be accused of having a small penis.

The fact that we've made zero progress toward a permanent colony on the moon, on Mars, or at one of the Earth/moon Lagrange points some 40+ years after walking on the moon is an embarrassment. If anything, NASA has been underfunded and devalued already. President Obama is just finishing the job. We'll have to pay the Ruskies to have them ferry us up to the International Space Station so that we can do a few trivial zero-g experiments -- that's the future of our space program now.

But hey, those funemployed philosophy majors will have plenty of money for their imported organic arugula, so there's that.

roesch-voltaire said...

The technological wonders produced by NASA are vastly exaggerated. And until we can figure out a better propulsion system other than chemical, maned flight beyond the moon is impractical. Why not let the free market fill the near space orbit, and while they are at at it try to clear up some of the space junk that is putting everything in orbit at risk.

Steven said...

Species which don't colonize space wind up fossils displayed in museums.

Gabriel Hanna said...

And until we can figure out a better propulsion system other than chemical, maned flight beyond the moon is impractical.

The vast majority of the energy is spent getting into Earth orbit; maybe you should know basic facts like that before weighing in on the space program.

This is why the Voyager probes didn't need huge rockets to leave the Solar System.

Writ Small said...

re: "Sorry. I've never seen what it was all for."

Sagan had an interesting view in Pale Blue Dot. Paraphrasing here, but Sagan argued the original Apollo program was primarily about demonstrating to the Russians that we could put a rocket very precisely where we wished. All the business about expanding mankind's frontier was a political argument to get those not persuaded by the military impertative on board.

Of course, Sagan was very much in favor of space exploration for all the emotional and scientific reasons. He was just under no illusions of, in the beginning, "what it was all for."

Dave in Tucson said...

The meek shall inherit the earth. The rest of us are going to the stars!

Ad Astra per Aspera.

Jeremy said...

And now if he could only cancel those two wars, the massive deficit Bush created, the 800 billion dollar bailout and the economic meltdown under little Georgie.

DUH.

Holmes said...

A woman would never understand the desire for space travel. If it were up to women, we would still be huddled between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

Steven said...

the 800 billion dollar bailout

You mean the one enacted by a Democratic Congress, with a "yea" cast by Senator Obama? That bailout?

Jeremy, are you fundamentally ignorant of how a bill becomes a law, or are you just a dishonest partisan hack?

Jeremy said...

Steven - You're a fucking idiot.

Bush didn't have to sign anything he didn't want to sign.

Do YOU think he did??

Bone up on government and get back to me.

Bush signed it because he knew he'd been sound asleep during the economic meltdown and was told by his economic advisers (if you want to refer to those idiots by such a term) that he had no other choice.

The worldwide economy was in a tailspin...and of course, he was walking away anyway.

Don't post comments about things you know little or nothing.

amba said...

Curiosity.

Oh, and to make sure no one else beats us to it and gets the strategic war/minerals mining advantage.

amba said...

Space is really a boy thing.

Uh-uh.

amba said...

Doing it again isn't enough. We would have to do again with style.

My inappropriate, inadvertent reaction to that was to hear Osama bin Laden saying exactly the same thing in some Afghan border cave.

wv: ousness (add the prefix of your choice: seri, outrage, timor, nerv, fabul, hilari, etc.)

victoria said...

Personally, i have always been a huge fan of space travel. However, in the last 20 years I think we have squandered whatever good will the world had for the space program and done basically nothing with the manned portion of the program. It was time. There has been so much more accomplished with non manned flights, witness all the good stuff done by JPL. To think that Obama canceled the moon program just because of Bush is crap. The manned program has basically run it's course and another trip to the moon is just silly and a huge waste of money.
It's crap that it is a boy thing and not a girl thing. I used to wake up at 2 AM to watch the Mercury flights and watched, from a bar in Paris, the moon landing. I was obsessed.

It will be interesting, Ann, to see what he has to say. I remain skeptical.


Vicki from JPL (Pasadena)

section9 said...

Jeremy, your such a cheap little partisan turd.

Way too sad for you that the public is wising up to the fact that the Radiant Future outlined by your friend Chicago Jesus is a scam, and are turning away from him. Vast new debt and a new entitlement we can't afford will do that to an electorate.

One of the gripes conservatives have with the Neosocialist Democrats is just how demoralizing and deeply anti-American this crowd in power happens to be. All of Obama's achievements are transitory and impermanent.

Now a real liberal Democrat, FDR, took responsibility for his actions and had, oh, well over four million people at work by the end of 1935. Yes, they were WPA and CCC jobs, but people were grateful for any kind of work, and Roosevelt understood that blaming Hoover would only go so far. Yah, he screwed up with price controls, which lengthened the Depression, but FDR won his landslide in 1936 for a reason: he produced results, not excuses.

FDR was a born aristocrat, but he had the common touch, and was a believer in working people, and they in him. Compared to FDR, this guy in power now is a two-bit cheap suit.

Chicago Jesus produces excuses, buck passing, phony jobs in congressional districts that don't exist, an Iranian atomic bomb program, and kicks our allies in the teeth while enabling our enemies.

The space program thing is only a piece of the demoralizing aspects of Obama's neosocialism: it's designed to breed resignation and the acceptance of the nomenklatura's right to permanent power. Where are the great projects designed to bring the nation together? This generations' Hoover Dam? This generations' Union Pacific Railroad? This generation's Manhattan Project?

See, the space program would get in the way of looting Peter to pretend to pay Paul's health care costs.

The last thing socialists want is to give people any pride, any real hope. People don't get that yet: socialism kills hope and breeds envy and competition for pieces of an ever-smaller pie.

It's by design. The last thing Obama is about is hope.

amba said...

So I guess you really don't care about the deficit as long as NASA gets theirs.

NASA's annual budget is less than Americans spend on pizza in a year.

Mark said...

Ann, all the pictures you post are ample evidence that we live on a very pretty rock.

But it's just one rock. And if you think it's a safe rock, well, keep in mind that someone hits the lottery pretty much every day. And someday our rock will hit the anti-lottery.

amba said...

It is interesting that Obama nixes essentially what was JFK's most inspiring goal.

Obama does have that mommy-state belief that we need to take care of all the poor, sick, illiterate, suffering, the environment, etc., before we indulge our escapist drive to get off the planet and see what's out there.

I used to agree. The poor ye have always with you.

Jeremy said...

section9 - Whine all you want, dickhead.

I notice you also don't know shit about government, nor do you provide any form of objective argument against anything I posted.

Just because you voted for G.W. twice doesn't mean you can't start thinking for yourself.

President Obama will prove to be a great leader while you and the rest of the obstructionist tea baggers end up eating shit.

Suck off.

Jeremy said...

"It is interesting that Obama nixes essentially what was JFK's most inspiring goal."

Times change.

Entirely different situation today.

If the economy was rolling and he had any form of support from the GOP there are all kinds of things we could do.

Jeremy said...

Section9 - Good lord, I went to your site.

You're just a little kid.

amba said...

A woman would never understand the desire for space travel.

Of all the sciences, women made their biggest and earliest mark in astronomy. Just for instance, Henrietta Swan Leavitt figured out how to calculate distances beyond our galaxy. Vera Rubin produced the evidence of galactic rotation that massively confirmed Edward Zwicky's hunch about dark matter.

Kind of odd when you think that women are small-minded, domestic, and into nesting and nurturing. Or maybe distant galaxies are just the bracing antidote to crappy diapers.

Joe said...

Once again, people, the manned space program advanced technology and science VERY little. By the time technology was utilized in manned missions it was very old and proven. Yes, there are web sites that make claims, but most of those claims are bogus. GPS? Nope. IC circuits. Nope. Computers. Nope. (That "we" landed on the moon and took off again with less computing power on the space craft than a $10 calculator is nothing short of astonishing.)

The non-manned space program has had far more effect and just plain private enterprise has had the most effect in advancing technology.

Speaking of technological and scientific developments, the International Space Station has been a near complete bust with one interesting exception: it has reinforced the fact that humans are very ill suited to live in an environment of less than 1G.

peter hoh said...

I can understand that a talk radio host might use Obama's opposition to the new moon mission to buttress his claim that Obama is trying to undo what makes America great, but I don't see how this anti-Obama rhetoric helps advance the cause of this mission.

Sure, Code Pink, et al, used outrageous rhetoric to slam Bush and the Iraq war, but it didn't help their cause, did it?

Fen said...

Billions of dollars spent on education to produce... Jeremy.

What a waste. We could have colonized the solar system with the money we spent on retards like him.

Instead, we created a class of ignorant parasites who now demand more of our taxpayer money to support their failed lives.

Fen said...

Jeremy: fuck you fuck fuck you ashole fuck off

...case in point.

Jeremy said...

Fen - You're such a whiny little tea bagging prick.

Try to post something relevant.

You sound like you're ten years old.

We all know you just got a tax cut from Obama and he just signed on to extend your unemployment and soon you'll be able to afford health care.

Jeremy said...

Fen - Oh..and don't forget to opt out of any future medicare or medicaid.

No sense in accepting anything from that nasty ol' "socialist" government.

Synova said...

"Civilization is all about enlarging cocks. If men didn't have to go out and make something of themselves to get status and impress potential mates we would all still be living in caves wiping our asses with leaves and dying of natural causes at 35...."

Taking "men" as all of us and "cocks" as a metaphor... this is pretty much profoundly true.

I think that people who want stasis (stability) and maintenance (welfare) forget that life is dynamic. If it's not, it's not life.

Brian Dunbar said...

I have to admit I'm not a big supporter of space travel. Maybe I'll give Schmitt a chance to convince me otherwise.

Do see what Schmitt has to say. Let us know what you think!

Can I take a swing at it?

Space is just a place. Alone it's worthless. Like the ocean, it's what is there that makes it important: to our country and culture and our species.

Such as resources. There is more mineral wealth on the asteroid belt than there is on Earth. It's rather remote now, but the ability to reach these assets will be critical to our future.

Such as 'command control' of near-Earth space for our military. We depend on space-based assets in orbit for command and control, intel. Take away those assets and .. we can get by but it's like taking radio away from a company commander in the Marines. He can send out messengers, use smoke, hand signals .. but those are all slower and communicate fewer bits of data than voice.

Such as the future of our species. Keeping every single member of our species on one planet is short-sighted. One large asteroid and ker-plooey - we're done for.



This isn't to say that NASA is the way to get this done. All that treasure to send a handful of government employees to space is silly. There are lot of guys and a lot of capitol that could crack the problem of 'getting stuff to orbit' cheaply, but they're thwarted by NASA defending their turf. I'd be real happy if the government would step back, create a level playing field and we'll see what happens.

Synova said...

"Or maybe distant galaxies are just the bracing antidote to crappy diapers."

Yes. :-)

The human spirit needs antidotes to crappy diapers.

It's not an impractical expense. It's something we need to have.

Sort of like air.

Steven said...

Jeremy, you moronic hack, take your choice:

1) The bailout was a necessary and appropriate program, and Bush, Senator Obama, and the Democratic Congress should all be praised for their joint roles in making it law.

2) The bailout was unnecessary and improper program, and Bush, Senator Obama, and the Democratic Congress should all be excoriated for their joint roles in making it law.

One or the other, cement brains.

Synova said...

"I don't see how you can complain about the government spending too much money and then also complain when it cuts off the one thing you love."

So let it be done by voluntary associations or industry. Tell everyone that if they can get there and if they can stay, whatever geography they squat on is theirs.

It would be anyway, of course. Ultimately. So it makes sense to just plan it that way. Set up a claim office and some simple guidelines for what counts as active occupation of a sector of lunar landscape. It doesn't even have to be people, maybe just a robot or other functioning presence without interruption of more than a certain amount. It could be managed out of an office with no more than a couple full time employees and doesn't have to be connected to any government.

Find out how many people want to spend their own money.

And whatever China puts up there or India puts up there that qualifies as continual occupation, it probably won't be the whole moon.

But really... what possible authority does any nation or treaty possibly have over territory that no one is on? It's all very dog-in-the-manger.

Synova said...

The dog-in-the-manger is because everyone knows that anyone Up There is in possession of territory that produces a vulnerability Down Here.

And they want to control that without the expense of occupying that territory.

Well... too bad.

Synova said...

"Oh..and don't forget to opt out of any future medicare or medicaid."

Only if I get to opt out now and get all my money back.

I think I'd take up that particular challenge... declare to pay no taxes for life and give up all future government benefits.

Not too bad a bargain.

Fen said...

Jeremy Fen - You're such a whiny little tea bagging prick.

Again. Billions spent on Education, and we're left with a legion of Jeremy's who cant even muster a decent insult.

What a waste of our money.

Cedarford said...

gk1 - "Seems like the whitehouse should stop pissing at the tea partiers long enough to notice and make an outreach effort to our surviving moon walkers."

That's just a part of the old astronaut mafia. They have no more a unique and visionary idea of future space activities and exploration than the guy jockeying the Rover Opportunity over the surface of Mars going on over 6 years now at a 240 million dollar total cost.
Think of them as the battleship Admirals of the US and Royal Navy claiming battleships were the be all and end all of the Navy force up into the early 1940s.

peter hoh said...

FWIW, I learned a few things about apostrophes.

Synova said...

"That's just a part of the old astronaut mafia."

But they are sexy.

"They have no more a unique and visionary idea of future space activities and exploration than the guy jockeying the Rover Opportunity over the surface of Mars going on over 6 years now at a 240 million dollar total cost."

Well this is certainly true... and the Rover guys and gals are also sexy.

But it's also true that neither the sexy astronauts nor sexy Rover tech-geeks have a more visionary idea of future space exploration that, well, I do.

Because, really, we're not being visionary for the sexy few who get to fly spaceships or play with the really cool toys... we're being visionary for everyone else.

Cedarford said...

Pastfarian - "Unless our goal here is to get some really gnarly photos of the Horsehead Nebula, manned space flight is the whole fucking point of the endeavor."

Well, EVENTUALLY that is the whole point of the endeavor, but we have visited other places where we lack the technology even today to exist without a huge logistic support from the people and wealth created from the more fertile and resourced areas of Earth. No one is talking a manned base in deep sea trenches or a viable self-sustaining colony in Antarctica, even the Sahara.

There are a number of major issues that blocked the idea of a manned moon base 40 years ago or Lagrange point colonies - the same issues exist today.
Space advocates insist all are "easily solvable" but nothing has solved a single one of those obstacles since Apollo.
So the question is "until or unless we get the ability to send man for longer than 6 days past the Earth's magnetosphere, what shall we do?"

Wait, or do something else?

My money is on sending unmanned probes out to better understand the solar system and the universe. And effort to work on each of the multiple barriers that block manned space travel and colonies.

It could be that many of the barriers are insoluable and if man is to travel, work in intense ionizing radiation with little logistical support - it may have to be not as biological men - but as post-human AI machines that live & last 10s of thousands of years who can reconstitute biological life after arriving at ex-solar plants..

That this is all very hard is evidenced by no older alien civilizations dropping in on us.

Hector Owen said...

It's a big picture thing. Like zooming a photo. No zoom: To hell with space, food stamps are more important. Medium zoom: The Chinese and Russians will control space, if we don't. Big zoom: If we cannot establish self-sustaining settlements somewhere else than on this one small planet, our species is doomed. Any old asteroid, or our own planet (Yellowstone), could do us in.

"Liberals" have been saying for decades that the US is too strong. They are free riders. When — if — Obama's program of making the US weak is carried through, they may find that they do not like the result.

NASA has been spinning its wheels for years, as a result of being run by pork-minded bureaucrats who have lost sight of the mission, but what's called for is not abandonment of the mission, but a return to it. Men will go to space; but no law of nature requires that they be Western, or free.

Hector Owen said...

In other words, it's for the (great to the nth grand-) children.

Slow Joe said...

I think a lot of people don't realize that the space program was a huge profit for us.

Yeah, the military industrial complex made a lot of the money, but by selling all kinds of things like computers.

Althouse can't be a fan of the ipad and an opponent of the 1960-70s space programs. We wouldn't have the ipad yet... probably wouldn't within her lifetime, in my perhaps untrustworthy opinion.

Now, today, it's a different matter. Perhaps privateers can advance us. Surely the government is so out of money it should stop most of its functions.

On the other hand, and I realize some people are inside the box to where this sounds fanciful though it's not, China will have a base on the moon that is a tremendously hardened and valuable military resource we will be unable to counter. They will probably be able to deny anyone access to the moon... who's going to stop them, the UN resolution? The USA? Nope.

And once that happens, it's a big problem for a lot of reasons. It'll be one of those diplomatic messes that gets kicked down the road, and it will be one reason why China's hideous practices persists.

If we get a base on the moon, and harden it, I think that's less likely to be a problem. to some extent, it's a world governed by this kind of event.

I do not think we're going to go to war with China... I think this is more complicated than that.

Slow Joe said...

OH, and about opting out of entitlements:

Your entitlement payments to this point, especially social security, don't entitle you to a social security retirement check. That was your income tax. The boomers elected thieves who kept spending high and took the social security money that really belongs to the next generation that 'has to' pay your benefits. And they even wrote checks the next generations have to pay for you too.

The informed voters knew this. The uninformed didn't care. But anyway, there's no reason to pay boomer social security. They really did not actually pay into social security... they were paying income tax for a bloated government and increasing the future's debt. That was deeply immoral. Now they want to take away the space program that benefits the future.

It's a sick pattern of taking away from the future to maximize the now. You guys already got all the Apollo technology, so who cares about your grandkids, right? They have to pay your social security and medicare, and are left with a ridiculous debt burden too.

Nice, but I don't think they will let that work out as soon as the numbers shift. The only real solution to the problems this nation faces are to completely end all entitlements but for the severely disabled (and that's a state by state issue), and admit that the payments made for that stuff that the boomers will demand were applied to the massive shortfall their representatives left us with.

There, I just saved us 50 trillion dollars. You're welcome. The other solution is maximizing our technological advancement, hopefully so that we massively increase mankind's wealth the way computers did. Hopefully the way mining Mars does.

Boomers should never get to retire on the public dole. If they saved enough, MAYBE they should, but it's amazing how much they screwed this country. It's basically just a swindle no one had the temerity to attempt before.

Revenant said...

I feel about Obama's motives for canceling the moon project the same way I do about accusations of racism in the tea party movement;

I don't give a rat's ass. Canceling the moon mission and protesting government financial excess are both excellent ideas. Motives don't matter.

Revenant said...

Not seeing the point of space expansion is like not seeing the point of moving from Europe to the New World

No, it is like *understanding* the point of moving from Europe to the New World. Or, if you prefer, it is like not seeing the point of moving from Europe to the top of Mt. Everest.

When we do leave Earth, it will be by some means more sensible than shipping a 170lb sack of meat and water just to support a 3lb brain. The universe is entirely hostile to human life. If we settle other planets at all, we'll do it with bodies that aren't recognizably human anymore.

Slow Joe said...

"
When we do leave Earth, it will be by some means more sensible than shipping a 170lb sack of meat and water just to support a 3lb brain. The universe is entirely hostile to human life. If we settle other planets at all, we'll do it with bodies that aren't recognizably human anymore.

4/19/10 3:33 AM"

I wouldn't be too sure. Sure, that wouldn't make sense for a large percentage of people, but if you leverage resource and labor to favor a small number of people (IE, Reality), billions of dollars to support the lives of a small number of physical beings is a lot more realistic than sending "us" as computers or whatever you're trying to say when you say we'll wait until we're not meaty.

It's not like the universe is unable to support life. We can harness various things it has in abundance in order to create the things it lacks. It will cost a lot, but it's probably going to happen. The technological advancements that the effort would create will probably make the world so much more efficient that the 'waste' of energy is paid for thousands of times over (ie, what happened with the moon missions).

And that's not even to discuss the military significance of a missile base on the Moon. Add in the military industrial complex, and it's almost surprising we don't have robots up there now (I guess that doesn't contradict you, though).

I'm totally cool with sticking to robot missions, though. We're out of money either way, so ... hmmm ... I wonder if China will be the one to reap the rewards of the trip.

Slow Joe said...

"Once again, people, the manned space program advanced technology and science VERY little. By the time technology was utilized in manned missions it was very old and proven. Yes, there are web sites that make claims, but most of those claims are bogus. GPS? Nope. IC circuits. Nope. Computers. Nope. (That "we" landed on the moon and took off again with less computing power on the space craft than a $10 calculator is nothing short of astonishing.)

You're missing a lot here.

It's not bogus. While in actuality, computers were mostly developed to help make the atomic bomb, the steps it took to get to the $10 calculator technology were massive in comparison to the steps it took to get from an Apple IIe to an ipad.

There's no need to minimize what they accomplished. We gained tremendously in technology because of wars and the moon race. There's a reason the difference between 1969 and 1939 is soooooooo massive, but those folks would adapt to our lives within 20 minutes.

HDHouse said...

well bullshit in the morning is the same as bullshit in the evening.

If we take away 8 years of bullshit from President Bush then I guess we are left nothing so I guess someone has to stand up for the void.

Slow Joe said...

This shouldn't bother me so much, but it kinda does. And like I said, we're out of money right now, and some of the benefits of the space program are probably just as available via a private one.

But denying credit to the space program for our advances is nuts. That list was obnoxious, too.

GPS? I'm sure 26 space vehicles in simultaneous coordinated orbits with atomic powered clocks being launched into space with precision has something to do with the space program's existence. While GPS isn't even directly needed to get to the moon (and thus an obnoxious proxy for if it benefited society... kinda like demanding bicycles relate to snorkling) the relationahip is undeniable. In fact, the basic method by which they determined their location in space, via distance to radios (based on doppler and delay) is identical to how your GPS receiver calculates its position relative to the transmitting clocks the space program put in orbit.

And refusing to accept that a calculator half a century ago WAS a calculator is just silly.

Many many major advancements, such as how we electronically monitor your health, how we build lighter and stronger machines and tools, and man, the list goes on forever, were linked to the manned space program. I'm sure some of these things can be gained by robot, but there's a much wider tolerance for mission failure with robots. The kind of redundancy and advancement and challenge involved with men is why we have to try so hard and innovate to make those missions work.

It's kinda absurd to admit it's so expensive in time and energy to get people to space while pretending all the benefits can be had by the easier path. They can't.

My solution is to grant 10000 square miles of property rights to any manned base that is occupied for 10 years by people, with the stipulation that they can't mine for the first few years. Some businesses might just attempt to make this happen on their own if they can have a piece of paper justifying that investment.

But there are many other good ideas for how to get people to invest in this project. While it's impractical in some ways (such as going to the new world was harder than climbing mt everest in most ways, including expense) we actually don't have a choice but to colonize the moon. The military implications are another can we can kick down the road and then struggle to live with... I guess that's how we handle this kind of problem now.

HDHouse said...

AJ Lynch said...
"But get the libs to eliminate Dept of Educ first."

In favor of what? Homeschooling that clearly benefited you not at all?

This is precisely the point with the neo-cons on here. They toss up these strawdog trades..well we will eliminate this if you do that...

If Mr. Putz looks closely, all the Apollo astronauts were public school products. All the Mercury astronauts were public school products.

I never know if you are making a joke or are really lighter than air.

Slow Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Slow Joe said...

hdhouse,

You claim that all those people went to public school isn't found via google, and Nasa's biographies don't name high schools.

So I'm guessing you made that up. Such a claim would be broadcast, and I actually find it pretty unlikely. And not relevant to ending the department of education anyway, as none of the Apollo aged men lived under its present style reign.

What's so bad about ending the dept. of edu? Let the states manage this issue without any federal interference. What we're doing now is not working as well as it did in the past. I also think there should be a law criminalizing the unionization of government workers, from firefighters to soldiers to especially teachers.

Unfirable teachers? Insane at the public school level. Not really necessary at the University level in the internet age, either, but we don't force professors on people.

HDHouse said...

actually NO Slow Joe

I worked with NASA during the 70s and new some of these folk. It isn't in the immediate public record but it is in the record.

Defend what you will but you will lose the bet as you most assuridly do regularly.

AllenS said...

HD,

Are you drunk?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Only if I get to opt out now and get all my money back.

I think I'd take up that particular challenge... declare to pay no taxes for life and give up all future government benefits.

Not too bad a bargain.


@ Synova

I made this observation several days ago. I calculate that the amount of money taken for Social Security and Medicare over the last 45 years on average (obviously when in college I wasn't making that much) invested at a mere 3% compounded rate would equal more than a quarter of a million dollars ...over $250,000.

That is just my portion. My husband would have an equal or larger portion.

And I KNOW that even just investing in bank certificates of deposit, we would have had a better than 3% return.

Yes. Give me my money and I'll completely opt out.

MikeR said...

Mostly really bizarre comments, IMHO. I'm vastly in favor of the space program, and vastly against the way NASA has been doing it. Most space enthusiasts are happy or overjoyed with the changes Obama (may be) making; see Rand Simberg for lots of info on the issue.
http://www.jerrypournelle.com/reports/jerryp/gettospace.html
"Sir Arthur C. Clarke said that if the human race is to survive, then for all but a very brief period of our history the word ship will mean space ship."

Original Mike said...

"Yeah? Well, quit using my tax money to try to enlarge your cock."

Sorry Ann, but ObamaCare says you have to pay for my cock enlargement, so tough titties.

bagoh20 said...

It's got nothing to do with cock Ann, but if women ruled our species we would still be in West Africa huddled around a fire pit. Most women are not Amelia Earhart and as essential as the female perspective is, it has huge blind spots, which are now becoming central to our society's weakening as we begin to opt for equality over freedom and safety over risk and discovery.

William said...

Of course Obama cancelled the moon boondoggle. Who else was he listening to in the dorm room while discussing Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth with his philosophical and bogarting friends? If you want to understand Obama - health care to moon don't-care - you have got to revisit Gil Scott Heron.

A rat done bit my sister Nell,
With Whitey on the moon.
Her face and arms began to swell,
And Whitey's on the moon.
I can't pay no doctor bill,
But Whitey's on the moon.
Ten years from now I'll be payin' still,
While Whitey's on the moon.

Revenant said...

billions of dollars to support the lives of a small number of physical beings is a lot more realistic than sending "us" as computers or whatever you're trying to say when you say we'll wait until we're not meaty.

I assumed "space expansion" meant "establishing permanent settlements off of Earth". If that's what it meant then, no, the "spend billions to support a small number of people" approach is not a realistic means of reaching that goal. There is, in fact, no realistic path to establishing permanent settlements for humans (as we currently exist) off of Earth.

It's not like the universe is unable to support life.

I'm sure there is some place in the universe, other than Earth, that is capable of supporting human life. Just nothing in THIS solar system.

And that's not even to discuss the military significance of a missile base on the Moon.

Spending trillions of dollars to establish a military base 240,000 miles away from the nearest enemy? Not a smart move.

One final note: all the alleged "profits" of the space program could have been obtained more cheaply by investing in R&D and then NOT launching people into space. The same will hold true for any future space program we can foresee, given our current knowledge of the universe.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Revenant:

Spending trillions of dollars to establish a military base 240,000 miles away from the nearest enemy? Not a smart move.

On Earth this might be a valid point, but in space it's irrelevant. What is relevant is the difference in energy between a base on the moon and a target on Earth.

Everything based in space is a weapon in fact, whether or not it is intended to be, because of the enormous energies involved.

The Direct TV satellite that you watch football games on is traveling at two miles per second--which is twice as fast as the muzzle velocity of a tank round.

A base on the moon can wreak enormous devastation to targets on Earth using very little additional energy. This is why we have treaties promising not to build one.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinetic_bombardment

Trooper York said...

"Yeah? Well, quit using my tax money to try to enlarge your cock."

The real reason why the professor hates the space program is that Meade likes to dress up in a bus drivers uniform and yell at the top of his lungs: "To the Moon Alice....to the Moon!"

Trooper York said...

On the other hand, nobody wants to be Harrison Schmidt.

When we used to go out bar hopping occasionally there would be some new dude in the group. So we would walk in the bar and there would be a druken semi-atractive floozy slopping down drinks at the bar. So the new guy would go "What's her story." And you would go "You should stay away from that man." "Really, why?" "Well you don't want to be Harrison Schmidt."
"Who is Harrison Schmidt?" "He was the twelfth guy to land on the moon."

El Pollo Real said...

One final note: all the alleged "profits" of the space program could have been obtained more cheaply by investing in R&D and then NOT launching people into space.

or let's set up an imaginary goal and then not do it???

With all due respect revenant I don't think that's how most people work, let alone collections of individuals like a nation.
Without real goals there would have been no real problems to solve and thus no real progress. Think Teflon.

The notion of people working towards an unattainable goal seems more in line with what the USSR did.

Revenant said...

On Earth this might be a valid point, but in space it's irrelevant. What is relevant is the difference in energy between a base on the moon and a target on Earth.

That's not correct. One of the most important things in war is response time. Any weapon based on the Moon is going to have a travel time measured in hours at the least, days at the most. Modern warfare operates in minutes and seconds.

Everything based in space is a weapon in fact, whether or not it is intended to be, because of the enormous energies involved.

A Lagrange point would be a superior option, if that's your concern.

A base on the moon can wreak enormous devastation to targets on Earth using very little additional energy.

Yes. But the time lag means that the capacity to wreak such devastation has little use except as a MAD-variety deterrent. And we already have one of those; we don't need to build a moon base for to achieve one.

Gabriel Hanna said...

But the time lag means that the capacity to wreak such devastation has little use except as a MAD-variety deterrent.

Maybe you should tell the Air Force your theory of modern warfare:

On 16 February 1991, a flight of B-52Gs flew from Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, refueled in the air en route, struck targets in Iraq, and returned home — a journey of 35 hours and 14,000 miles round trip. It set a record for longest-distance combat mission.[94][95] Over the next months, B-52Gs operating from bases at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom; Moron AB, Spain; and the island of Diego Garcia flew low-altitude bombing missions. After the first three nights, the B-52s moved to high-altitude missions, while coalition forces took air superiority and suppressed anti-aircraft weapons that might have struck high-flying aircraft.

On 2–3 September 1996, two B-52H struck Baghdad power stations and communications facilities with 13 AGM-86C conventional air-launched cruise missiles (CALCM) as part of Operation Desert Strike, a 34-hour, 16,000-mile round trip mission from Andersen AFB, Guam—the longest distance ever flown for a combat mission.


Space-spaced weapons need not be WMD. I directed you to the article on kinetic bombardment; since you didn't read it, I'll summarize. Space-based weapons are powerful, precise, and cannot be defended against, and they are perfect for the non-nuclear destruction of hardened targets. They are perhaps more of a STRATEGIC weapon, but that doesn't make them useless or last-resort.

Granted that modern warfare moves quickly, factories, dams, nuclear plants and such don't move very quickly as a general rule and often maintain the same position for hours or even days at a time.

Revenant said...

Maybe you should tell the Air Force your theory of modern warfare:

You have missed the point with almost surgical precision. Our capacity for long-range attacks on our enemies is precisely why we don't need to spend trillions of dollars to establish that capacity on the moon.

Space-spaced weapons need not be WMD.

I didn't say they had to be. I said that was the only use of a moon base.

I directed you to the article on kinetic bombardment; since you didn't read it, I'll summarize.

I've been familiar with the idea for the last quarter-century or so, thanks. I am, again, not arguing against kinetic weapons, but against voluntarily basing them several light-seconds away from their targets when doing so serves absolutely no purpose other than increasing cost and decreasing usefulness by several orders of magnitude. I liked "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" as much as every other libertarian I know, but reality is what it is.

Granted that modern warfare moves quickly, factories, dams, nuclear plants and such don't move very quickly as a general rule and often maintain the same position for hours or even days at a time.

Here's a thought experiment for you: for the cost of a moon colony and accompanying linear accelerator, compute how many $500,000 cruise missiles we could build instead.

Even under the most conservative of estimates, we're talking millions. What problem are we trying to solve with this moon base, again?

Eric said...

Everything based in space is a weapon in fact, whether or not it is intended to be, because of the enormous energies involved.

Sure. But for tens of billions of dollars less we can make nuclear weapons that also have enormous energies. Enormous enough to be on par with the rocks from space and yet close enough that we can slap a new coat of paint on as necessary.

As Revenant pointed out, there's no point in building weapons that will take days to arrive on target. On the other hand, if you put them in orbit you force potential adversaries to have their nuclear forces on a hair trigger. It's destabilizing.

And it still has nothing to do with a manned space program. There really is nothing we can do with people in space that we couldn't do more cost effectively with machines.

Eric said...

Here's a thought experiment for you: for the cost of a moon colony and accompanying linear accelerator, compute how many $500,000 cruise missiles we could build instead.

Or $20,000 JDAMS. Or $1,500 artillery shells.

Hector Owen said...

Eric said, "if you put them in orbit"

Well, that's it, isn't it? If who put them in orbit? The way it's looking now, it's somebody else will put them in orbit, and then what? It's the high ground that confers the strategic advantage. Who wants Russia or China to have that? Eric? Does anyone think that it does not matter who controls the High Frontier? There's a serious lack of strategeric thinking going on here. (That's the adjective I just made up from "strategery." That which should not be misunderestimated.)

The human race
must go to space.

And will do that. And if something does not change fairly soon, those humans will be Chinese. With all the politics that entails. The US has been Top Nation for so long that people are suffering from a failure of imagination, believing that because it has been so, it shall be so evermore. It ain't necessarily so.

Eric said...

You don't need to have a manned presence in space to have weapons there. In fact, to do so would be a waste of money. Space is only the high ground from the standpoint of observation - there's no reason to put weapons there.

There's also no reason to believe "the human race must go to space." I hear a lot of people saying that, but they never explain why that would be so. The fact of the matter is there isn't anything you can do with people in space that isn't easier and cheaper to do with machines.

If Einstein was right about the speed of light being a fundamental physical limit, there's no reason to think we'll ever be leaving this solar system. Even if we could settle the other planets there isn't any reason to actually expend the massive amount of resources to do it.

HDHouse said...

he is an adjunct prof there isn't her? you can walk over anytime if you have an interest instead of waiting for a media event.

perhaps he will give you a few pearls of wisdom on why climate change is just a way for the government to "get more control over our lives"....aha! tea party. i get your interest now.

Original Mike said...

El Pollo Real shines a light on it:

"The notion of people working towards an unattainable goal seems more in line with what the USSR did."

Revenant said...

Well, that's it, isn't it? If who put them in orbit? The way it's looking now, it's somebody else will put them in orbit, and then what?

What are you talking about? We still have the capacity to put things in orbit. So do quite a few private companies. This is about the wisdom of sending *people* to the *Moon*, not sending machines to Earth orbit.

Who wants Russia or China to have that?

Russia and China have had the capacity to put weapons into space for decades -- for longer than WE have, in Russia's case. They haven't done it, which tells you that either they're nice, benevolent people who it isn't a smart idea. I leave it to you to determine which possibility is more likely.

bridgecross said...

> Sorry. I've never seen what it was all for.

Curiosity. Adventure. Delight.

Eric said...

> Sorry. I've never seen what it was all for.

Curiosity. Adventure. Delight.


Right. Which means it's a perfect candidate for not being paid for with my tax dollars. If people like Carmack and Musk want to play spaceman with their own money, more power to 'em.

Hector Owen said...

> Sorry. I've never seen what it was all for.

Curiosity. Adventure. Delight.

No. Those things are by-products. "What it's all for" is survival of the species.

For all we know, Homo sapiens terrestrialis (that's us) is the only self-conscious, thinking (I hesitate to say "intelligent") life-form in the entire universe.

If you don't care about your species, maybe you could muster a philosophical concern. We, we human beings, here, now, can choose to perpetuate consciousness and thought, or to let it wither and die. I've heard it said, can't recall where right now, that God created humanity to save Himself from loneliness: that the existence of mankind is, in a way, God talking to himself. But since we have free will, we could end the conversation. If, as I said above, we do not establish self-sustaining settlements elsewhere than on this one small planet, we risk ending the existence of thought in the Universe.

Big concepts, yes. We have big choices to make. The stars, or the mud. The Universe can be ours. Or we can turn our backs on it, and decline back to the unthinking mire. The choice is ours, and now is the time to make it. Resources are out there. All we have to do is go and get them. Or we'll be stuck on this rock, running out of everything, until it all winds down.

Renrut2005 said...

Stop using your tax money to enlarge his cock huh? Well, seems like daddy took away your toys when you were a kid, or maybe didn't let you watch 2001 A space odyssey when you were a kid. Not a fan of space travel you say? VERY short sighted. You scream the opposite of ambition. Let's just stay here on earth, that way when the next big catastrophe happens (which it will as the fossil records / history of the earth show's this is a consistent factor of our home) we will be stuck here on earth, with everything we know and learned throughout human history to be thrown in the trash with the Dinosaurs.

So funny, your not a space travel fan, and don't understand a god damn thing about it. No wonder you would cry about tax money being spent on it. So, keep on staying upset about the probably $100 bucks of your tax money you have paid in your lifetime that went towards any space (anything) technologies or ambitions.

Stop bitching about it, and let our cocks grow!!!! Hey, you said it!!!

MikeR said...

http://article.nationalreview.com/432073/obamas-space-program-more-conservative-than-bushs/rand-simberg
Rand Simberg, who doesn't like Obama, likes the new space program.

Hector Owen said...

MikeR: Rand Simberg is, and has been for a while, so annoyed with NASA, and rightly so, that any and all private space ventures look to him like cake. Did you see the responses, at Simberg's site, to that NR article you linked?

The Shuttle was obsolete about as soon as it was first built. NASA has been asleep at the wheel for a long time. Neither of those things has anything at all to do with the importance of putting people in space.

I suppose a privately funded Luna City, or L4 or L5 colony, could happen, if we lived in a Libertarian dreamworld, where the government would not be looking at everyone's seatbelts and the calorie counts of the space-rations. What Krauthammer said about "ceding the certainty of access into space" reminds me of the construction of the transcontinental railroad. Private companies did that, but they did it with a lot of help from the government, and they could call for the Cavalry in emergencies. The new policy appears to me to be saying that private companies can try to do something after going through hugely expensive certification and licensing processes, and by the way, there will be no Cavalry to help you if you get in trouble out there.