July 21, 2019

"Everybody, including Congress, was caught up in the adrenal rush of it all. But then, on the morning after, congressmen began to wonder..."

"... about something that hadn’t dawned on them since Kennedy’s oration.... It had been a battle for morale at home and image abroad. Fine, O.K., we won, but it had no tactical military meaning whatsoever. And it had cost a fortune, $150 billion or so. And this business of sending a man to Mars and whatnot? Just more of the same, when you got right down to it... Game’s over, NASA won, congratulations.... NASA’s annual budget sank like a stone from $5 billion in the mid-1960s to $3 billion in the mid-1970s.... As a result, the space program has been killing time for 40 years with a series of orbital projects ... Skylab, the Apollo-Soyuz joint mission, the International Space Station and the space shuttle.... [T]heir purpose has been mainly to keep the lights on at the Kennedy Space Center and Houston’s Johnson Space Center — by removing manned flight from the heavens and bringing it very much down to earth. The shuttle program, for example, was actually supposed to appeal to the public by offering orbital tourist rides, only to end in the Challenger disaster, in which the first such passenger, Christa McAuliffe, a schoolteacher, perished. Forty years! For 40 years, everybody at NASA has known that the only logical next step is a manned Mars mission, and every overture has been entertained only briefly by presidents and the Congress. They have so many more luscious and appealing projects that could make better use of the close to $10 billion annually the Mars program would require...."

Wrote Tom Wolfe, ten years ago, in "One Giant Leap to Nowhere," which I'm reading this morning because it was linked at Instapundit.

Wolfe thought that what was needed was "The Word" — inspirational speech about the "godlike" enterprise of space travel. Inspirational speech is what JFK had provided, with his famously effective challenge, "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth." But Wolfe puts that in context. It was the Cold War, we were competing with the Russians, and they were impossibly ahead of us in space travel that orbited Earth.
The Soviet cosmo-champions beat our astro-champions so handily, gloom spread like a gas. Every time you picked up a newspaper you saw headlines with the phrase, SPACE GAP ... SPACE GAP ... SPACE GAP ... The Soviets had produced a generation of scientific geniuses — while we slept, fat and self-satisfied!
That's what was so inspiring, the fight with the Russians. And, yay, we won. And then the game was over. If it was a game, a sport, a battle... it was a feat to get a big majority of Americans caught up in it in the first place. But after it's over and won, what's to keep the crowd in the stadium? Wolfe's idea about new inspiration has nothing like the power of the old Cold War with the Russians. It's that one day the sun will burn out and human beings will need an alternative. That's 5 billion years from now! And it looks like the first billion years of that will still be okay for us. That's nothing like what JFK leveraged back in the 60s.

ADDED: Wolfe did not live to hear President Trump say NASA "should be focused on the much bigger things... including Mars." Since it was Trump who said that, I'm just going to guess that the Democratic Party candidates are all opposed to it. Has anyone said anything about it? I tried to google that, and the one thing that popped up was a tweet from — of all people — David Hogg:
I wonder if any of the presidential candidates support getting us to Mars by 2030

Projects like Apollo and others from NASA have to lead to the invention of tons of new products/technologies, employed over 400,000 Americans while doing so and helped unite everyday Americans.

136 comments:

Darrell said...

Back then we believed the NYT.
We fucked up.

FullMoon said...

Russia went from cannibalism to orbiting the earth in thirty years. Pretty amazing progress.

https://imgur.com/gallery/ONlAC

Gahrie said...

NASA should get out of the business of designing and building rockets, and stick to conducting scientific research. Turn over space transportation to private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin, both of which have accomplished more in human spaceflight in 10 years than NASA has in forty. The only way to get into space currently relies on sixty year old Soviet technology. NASA's current plan relies on forty year old technology.

Mattman26 said...

On the "it had cost a fortune" point, one of the pieces quoted at Insty (which I would like someone here to fact-check while I go make some toast) indicated that the entire decade-long moon mission cost less than three months of federal social benefit spending in 1969.

Darrell said...

Muslim Outreach has been a fantastic success.
I can't recall all the achievements, but there must be some doozies.

Bay Area Guy said...

Wow - thought I'd read all of the Great Tom Wolfe - but missed this one. Post-script to The Right Stuff. Will check it out.

Mattman26 said...

Ugh, Muslim Outreach as a key NASA objective. I keep trying to forget that.

MikeR said...

"It's that one day the sun will burn out and human beings will need an alternative." Absurd. We need space right now, because most of the resources in the solar system are not on earth. If you can set up robot manufacturing on the moon, unlimited 24-hour solar power becomes essentially free. Running out of rare earth metals? One asteroid has more of them than we've mined on the whole earth. Helium-3: plentiful on the moon.

narciso said...

the significance of sputnik

https://military.wikia.org/wiki/R-7_Semyorka

actually a real outreach would acknowledge they had astronomers like al bittani (sic) who was even given a star trek federation designation,

Ray - SoCal said...

It’s sad how many years have been wasted of potential progress on space.

We would be so much richer now, if we had made it to the asteroid belt...

EDH said...

Carl Sagan really did say “billions and billions” a lot on Cosmos [video proves]

Certain public figures become associated in the public’s mind, often thanks to mimics and comedians, with particular catchphrases or vocal tics. Sometimes, however, these associations are inaccurate or exaggerated. Cary Grant never actually said the words “Judy, Judy, Judy” in any of his movies, for instance, nor did James Cagney ever truly call someone “you dirty rat.”

But late astrophysicist Carl Sagan really did say “billions and billions” with great frequency over the course of the 13 original episodes of his 1980-1981 series Cosmos. He said “millions” and “trillions” a lot, too. And now, a YouTuber named Robert Price has assembled a supercut to prove it, with a gentle hip-hop underscore, no less. Over the course of three restful minutes, Price strings together what he promises are “all the -illions from Cosmos and in order.” (Viewers of the video are even invited to listen intently for a rare appearance of “quadrillion” along the way.) As Johnny Carson so ably proved time and time again, doing a killer Carl Sagan impression really boils down to the ability to say the word “billions” in a slightly pinched, nasal voice, making sure to draw out the vowel sounds. Of course, a brown turtleneck and a repurposed Beatle wig help further the illusion as well.

Kevin said...

That's 5 billion years from now!

The dinosaurs thought the same thing.

Qwinn said...

You think Earth is safe until the Sun burns out?

Without a robust space program, what's your plan for the tens of thousands of planet killing meteor strikes that will inevitably happen over those 5 billion years?

Mattman26 said...

Alvy, the universe has been expanding for billions of years!

Mattman26 said...

Sounds like David Hogg (per Ann's update) needs a brief stint in reeducation (and while he's in there, let him know that "lead" is not past tense).

traditionalguy said...

NB: A Space Race creates. War time industrial economy with no war.

William said...

Here's a side benefit from the space program that I've never seen anyone take note of. When Reagan announced his Star Wars program, it was widely ridiculed by the left here, but it was taken seriously in Moscow. The USA had put men on the moon so what was to keep them from developing an effective anti-ICBM program. That's what brought them to the negotiating table. Our moon program made the Star Wars initiative credible. It was a big part of how we won the Cold War.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

We don’t even know what forms of life lurk in our oceans. Exploration doesn’t necessarily mean Mars. There’s lots yet to see on our blue ball of Earth.

Howard said...

Blogger Mattman26 said...

Ugh, Muslim Outreach as a key NASA objective. I keep trying to forget that.


Since they believe in the moon God, it's a good fit

bagoh20 said...

All we have to do is get the government out of it, and let people with actual ambition do what they do. Today's government is completely buried under it's love of risk free employment, and that much coveted pension with free health insurance, and a life of leisure. That is what government jobs now represent. It's what people are attracted to in government work today. I don't blame them, but those are not the kind of people who make incredible things happen. That requires a passion that would sacrifice it's pension if necessary instead of the other way around.

traditionalguy said...

JFK and DJT have the same mind and communication skill set. Hold on tight.

Mark said...

Some people celebrate and are inspired.

Some piss and moan and -- as is typical -- miss the point of it all.

Fen said...

David Hogg? Seriously?

What does Gworge Zimmerman think about a Mars expedition?

rcocean said...

"Projects like Apollo and others from NASA have to lead to the invention of tons of new products/technologies,"

Yeah, but that wasn't part of the plan. It was a lucky bi-product. A lot of good inventions came out of WW2. So lets have another war. Same logic.

Mark said...

Those that would reduce it to a utilitarian technological advancement are not nearly as bad, but that too misses the main point.

BADuBois said...

David Hogg... wow. I guess it is true, a broken clock is right twice a day.

bagoh20 said...

$10 billion a year? That's 0.25% of the federal budget. Jeff Bezos probably made that while I was typing this. I can find $10 billion of completely non-productive if not destructive spending in the budget to use for a Mars mission. I'll do this every year for a government pension. I don't even need an office or a paycheck, and I'll use my own car.

Howard said...

Blogger rcocean said...

"Projects like Apollo and others from NASA have to lead to the invention of tons of new products/technologies,"

Yeah, but that wasn't part of the plan. It was a lucky bi-product. A lot of good inventions came out of WW2. So lets have another war. Same logic.


It's not luck, sweetie. Apollo paid war technology benefits and only killed a handful of guys. Bang for buck.

The Godfather said...

21st Century space program: "Get out of my way!"

Leland said...

Having worked at JSC; I found this week of celebration frustrating. I think my wife said it best "They are celebrating something that had so little value at the time, they cancelled it a couple of years later". And Wolfe is absolutely correct that funding is primarily to keep KSC and JSC open. Both centers are about NASA human spaceflight, and it's been 8 years since they managed to put humans into space on one of their vehicles. But hey, they had a big party this week, slapping their own backs, and remembering how great they were 50 years ago.

Tommy Duncan said...

If you'd like to be the first astronaut to fly in a spacecraft built by a fully diverse design, engineering and manufacturing team, please raise your hand.

rcocean said...

So lets not build a wall but go to MARS instead. Huh?

bagoh20 said...

We just gave some shit hole country $10 billion last month and probably do so on a monthly basis if not more often. That money mostly goes to foreign government thugs to buy and furnish fine villas around the world. Let's build them on Mars.

rcocean said...

Howard every time i think you couldn't be any dumber, you surprise me. Does your Mommy type the words for you?

Michael K said...

Our moon program made the Star Wars initiative credible. It was a big part of how we won the Cold War.<

Yes but that was before Diversity took over science.

anti-de Sitter space said...

We should have a linear collider to play w/ electrons instead of protons.

Costs almost nothing from the POV of gov budget. But still can be uniting re folks, and it'd get good press. HLC and LIGO made/make it to normal news. People like that stuff. It's cooler than grabbing rocks from far away. OTOH, leaving bags of shit around the solar system is pretty cool. Maybe we could fund the LC, and then also use rockets to shoot bags of shit to Mars = win-win.

IMHO.

Fernandistein said...

So lets not build a wall but go to MARS instead. Huh?

Perhaps a Dyson Wall between us, the good guys, and Mars, home of the illegal aliens from outer space.

rehajm said...

Looking at the last 50,000 years of mans recorded history that pace of growth of wasteful spending of the last ten years has exceed all the previous. This is a breathtaking pace. No man can grasp how far and how fast we’ve come...

We choose to reduce the growth if the discretionary budget. We choose to go reduce wasteful spending in this decade and not do the other things, not because it is easy, but because it is so 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...


Jamie said...

It may be - MAY be - true that the advancements that originated from the '60s space program were "accidental" (though "incidental" might be a better word). But now we know that meeting the challenges of space exploration has tremendous earthside benefits for relatively minimal cost. And it's super cool to boot.

David Begley said...

The minute the Chinese put a man on the moon is the day we commit to Mars.

anti-de Sitter space said...

Let's find the Hoggs Bozo.

bagoh20 said...

Let's line up a couple dozen current uses for $10 Billion a year in tax money and compare them to going to Mars. Then lets vote on where the money should go. We're gonna need a bigger solar system.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Howard is correct about the benefits of Apollo research, which extended far beyond the technology central to the moonshot to secondary and tertiary areas of advancement. I worked for a United Space Alliance (shuttle program) supplier that excelled in three fields that grew up in response to NASA “discoveries” in the form of accidents: antistatic plastics, ionization for cleanroom particulate control, and specialized packaging (Faraday cage/vapor barrier materials). Those technological advances had widespread application as the electronics industry matured and miniaturization (application of Moore’s Law) accelerated.

Fernandistein said...

"A rocket in every pocket."

buwaya said...

It is fundamentally a religious mission, and there are still masses of believers.

But most of the action is happening outside of NASA.

MikeR said...

"I'm just going to guess that the Democratic Party candidates are all opposed to it." Dunno, but I'd check Andrew Yang.

James K said...

And it looks like the first billion years of that will still be okay for us.

I thought we had only 12 years.

In any case, maybe the more immediate, practical use for a space program of some sort is to figure out a way to divert or blow up the next large meteor that will crash into the earth. A cataclysmic one like the Yucatan one 65 million years might be millions of years away, but more modest ones could still do a lot of damage.

bagoh20 said...

" A lot of good inventions came out of WW2. So lets have another war. Same logic."

Except the costs were not even comparable, and the justification for WW2 was one that I hope would still hold today, but I'm not sure.

Fen said...

"You think Earth is safe until the Sun burns out? Without a robust space program, what's your plan for the tens of thousands of planet killing meteor strikes that will inevitably happen over those 5 billion years?"

Goes to what I was saying in the Kristoff thread. Scribblers like Tom Wolf, revered as some kind deep thinker. Why?

Bob Boyd said...

I don't know if we should go to Mars or not, but if we do, do we have to paint the rocketship white this time?
And apart from the whole race thing, doesn't it just make sense that a ship from earth should arrive on a neighboring planet wearing earth tones?

buwaya said...

Again and again I say:

If you need help understanding the imperative, you need to visit Elon Musk's rocket factory in Hawthorne CA.

Big Mike said...

The NASA of today is not the NASA where Werner von Braun handpicked the best engineering minds to staff the Apollo program. Today’s NASA, like so many federal agencies, is home to mediocre bureaucrats fighting endless and pointless turf battles. The engineers and managers of the Apollo program would not have launched Challenger when the weather was so far out of parameters, and they would have figured out a way to check the wing of Columbia (perhaps a spacewalk?) for damage while it was still in orbit and staged a rescue. If we’re going to get to Mars, it won’t be through a government program.

Bruce Hayden said...

Blogger MikeR said...
“"It's that one day the sun will burn out and human beings will need an alternative." Absurd. We need space right now, because most of the resources in the solar system are not on earth. If you can set up robot manufacturing on the moon, unlimited 24-hour solar power becomes essentially free. Running out of rare earth metals? One asteroid has more of them than we've mined on the whole earth. Helium-3: plentiful on the moon”

Couldn’t agree more. The thing is that it is finally happening. And, if and when you think about it it is amazing. We have known that it was possible since American feet first stepped onto the moon. And, yet, we have 50 years of doing almost nothing. We set up a bureaucracy, and it has done what bureaucracies inevitably do perpetuated itself. WTF was NASA doing prioritizing Muslim outreach? It was a classic bureaucratic move to broaden its objectives in order to escape accountability. We can’t get a man back on the moon, but that is fine, because we are doing Muslim outreach and measuring global warming (except, of course the NASA satellite data has to be fudged and calibrated to comply with the heavily massaged terrestrial data first).

We got lucky. A bunch of technical geeks read a lot of science fiction growing up, then went on to become tech billionaires. Some of them, like Bill Gates, chose to devote their fortunes to solve terrestrial problems, like Andrew Carnegie did in an earlier era. But others, still dreaming their teenaged dreams of space, put their money there. And started competing to see who could do it first. And because of that we will have space. They are starting to pull away from the nation states trying to compete, and I predict that they will continue to do that, unconstrained by the government bureaucracies that inevitably grow up around any large government project.

The other thing that these private individuals and companies funding and driving this is that the money to be made in space is insane. Asteroids have already been identified that appear to have massive deposits of rare earths. But it isn’t just that. Energy in space is near infinite (not infinite, as anyone who has read about Dyson spheres, or Niven and Pournelle’s Ringworld know, but effectively so in comparison to where we are now). Near infinite energy, a lot of raw materials already in orbit, a bit of automation, and money to make it happen, and we can build self replicating and expanding habitats in space, that can be returning investment back to earth in not too many generations. I expect to see the first space trillionaires within a generation or so.

This answers a worry that some have voiced. We may have limited resources to get permanently into space. After NASA effectively quit seriously pushing into space, weighted down with government bureaucratic bloat, they worried that we would miss our opportunity, complacently putting the hydrocarbons needed for rocket fuel into automobile gas tanks, until we ran out. But the tech industry made enough tech billionaires, who still believed in humans in space, as well as seeing the immense commercial opportunities, and decided to make it happen in their lifetimes.

buwaya said...

Wolfe understood the people doing this.
He himself was disappointed by the lack of vision on the part of your rulers.

Curious George said...

"Without a robust space program, what's your plan for the tens of thousands of planet killing meteor strikes that will inevitably happen over those 5 billion years?"

Duh!

Rusty said...


"It's not luck, sweetie. Apollo paid war technology benefits and only killed a handful of guys. Bang for buck."

Dual use? I don't think the tech crossed over much. By the time of Apollo 11 we already had the hardware and telemetry to lob nukes pretty much where we wanted. The F1 engines would be a waste on an intercom. ballistic missile. As would the telemetry.
ya gotta admit though, as an exploration it was definitely cool as shit. And who knows. Someday we may wind up using the moon as a stepping off point to other space exploration.

Sebastian said...

"removing manned flight from the heavens"

If you care about actual space exploration, you oppose "manned flight."

Bruce Hayden said...

“I don't know if we should go to Mars or not...”

I don’t think that it is an “if”, but a “when”. The problem, along with going to the moon, is that it would be gee whiz nice, but may squander resources needed to put ma into space permanently. And that probably requires concentrating on asteroids, as well as very possibly going back to the moon to industrialize it. Raw materials are potentially much more easily and economically delivered into orbit from the Moon than the Earth due to its much lessened gravity well, as well as lacking the frictional properties of atmosphere. My prediction is that going to Mars will ultimately be a sideshow, possibly done by a government organization like NASA, to show relevance. Or be a vanity project of a space trillionaire. But the real action in space is probably much more likely to involve mining asteroids and building space habitats and self reproducing industry.

Darrell said...

If you care about actual space exploration, you oppose "manned flight."

You've seen Tobor the Great, I see. The full movie may still be free on YouTube, btw.

JackWayne said...

At this point, NASA is irrelevant. They glory in their irrelevancy by showcasing their belief in the man-made global warming religion.

wildswan said...

We should go to Mars. And why? Because there's gold on Mars. First an orbiter locates the "Johannesburg reef." Then we land near there and scoop it all up. Then we push some ore-bearing asteroids down onto Mars where we can mine them more easily. And we store the excess gold (and the volcanic diamonds) on the moon so as to release them slowly and not flood the market. It should be done by private companies. NASA has gone downhill and is hopeless.

wholelottasplainin' said...

A lot of good inventions came out of WW2. So lets have another war. Same logic.
******

Yeah.

The bi-products of a peaceful scientific/technological project are the same as the bi-products of war.

Yeah, that's it.

anti-de Sitter space said...

"...you need to visit Elon Musk's rocket factory"

As long as they don't stick thousands of electrodes in my head, I'd check it out.

BTW, PETA is probably not gonna like that a monkey interacts w/ a computer cause it got its brain is wired to the machine. Just sayin'

Freder Frederson said...

Donald Trump spews bullshit. The statements he has attributed to the Squad over the last few days (most of which are made up out of whole cloth or gross distortions of what was actually said) is only the most egregious and recent example.

While he may say that NASA should focus on Mars, has he actually done anything, or proposed a NASA budget, that would advance that goal. No he hasn't. His main point was that NASA should get away from doing climate research, especially since it contradicts his narrative that climate change is a hoax.

Gahrie said...

While he may say that NASA should focus on Mars, has he actually done anything, or proposed a NASA budget, that would advance that goal. No he hasn't.

He literally just fired the guy that's been preventing him from doing that.

Beasts of England said...

'The NASA of today is not the NASA where Werner von Braun handpicked the best engineering minds to staff the Apollo program. Today’s NASA, like so many federal agencies, is home to mediocre bureaucrats fighting endless and pointless turf battles.'

I've consulted to NASA for the last thirty years and worked with a few of the Operation Paperclip guys back in the day. I rate your comment 110% true.

Howard said...

Blogger Rusty said...

Dual use? I don't think the tech crossed over much. By the time of Apollo 11 we already had the hardware and telemetry to lob nukes pretty much where we wanted. The F1 engines would be a waste on an intercom. ballistic missile. As would the telemetry.
ya gotta admit though, as an exploration it was definitely cool as shit. And who knows. Someday we may wind up using the moon as a stepping off point to other space exploration.


It's the spinoffs in computers, electronics, hydraulics, fuels, chemistry, radio, materials, etc. Not to mention all of the young boomers and old Gen-Xers who were inspired to go into STEM.

Beasts of England said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anti-de Sitter space said...

"His main point was that NASA should get away from doing climate research"

Plus, they should stop supplying rockets to Muslims as part of NASA's mosque building project. Make them pay for their own minarets.

Gahrie said...

His main point was that NASA should get away from doing climate research, especially since it contradicts his narrative that climate change is a hoax.

No one thinks that climate change is a hoax. The climate is, and always has been, constantly changing. The hoax is that climate change is a problem, and one that can only be solved by making government bigger and more powerful.

Howard said...

Space suits qualify as Burka's, so there's that

Fen said...

LOL @ Freder.

"I saw Goody Osburn with Orange Man!"

doctrev said...

Given the intense, -insane- Russia screaming, we are in fact moving backwards from the era of global co-operation that would simultaneously be the prerequisite and end goal of a major space program. Even the original Star Trek had a non-evil Russian on the bridge! The patriotism engendered by the space program would only happen in case of massive new success, which would be years if not a decade away, or competition with a peer nation. Which will never happen, because China has neither the skill nor interest to reach towards the stars for the sake of exploration.

I'm sure the Democrats would LOVE Donald Trump to sink billions of dollars into a program with low priority for the majority of Americans, but I doubt it. Politically it's better to encourage private industry, and learn from their best ideas. Might make the future space program more cost-effective and modern.

Fen said...

"do we have to paint the rocketship white this time?"

Haven't you heard? White is no longer a color.

Francisco D said...

Donald Trump spews bullshit. The statements he has attributed to the Squad over the last few days (most of which are made up out of whole cloth or gross distortions of what was actually said) is only the most egregious and recent example.

Freder,

You consistently post commentary without any examples to make your point. It sounds like you take in the lefty commentariat at their word. You know the same ones who claim Obstruction of Justice without citing a single action that constituted obstruction.

Drago said...

Field Marshall Freder: "Donald Trump spews bullshit. The statements he has attributed to the Squad over the last few days (most of which are made up out of whole cloth or gross distortions of what was actually said) is only the most egregious and
recent example."

There is no example of Trump hyperbole or exaggeration or "lying" that can begin to compare with your commentary.

Case in point: the astonishing lying and misrepresentation you vomited up in providing your record-setting mendaciousness in "summarizing" the Bundy case and results.

Bruce Hayden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bruce Hayden said...

“Given the intense, -insane- Russia screaming, we are in fact moving backwards from the era of global co-operation that would simultaneously be the prerequisite and end goal of a major space program”

I don’t see international cooperation as a prerequisite of major space programs at all. A WASA (World Wide NASA) would likely quickly devolve into NASA on bureaucratic steroids. Just look at the EU or the effectiveness of most UN organizations.

If you worry about Russian relations, look no further than the Democrats, and how they have expended significant resources trying to delegitize Trump’s Presidency through pushing their Russian Collusion hoax. For one thing, it has made it much harder for the US to cooperate with Russia on anything, thanks to the overhanging threat that Trump had been bought any time we might pull back from active opposition to Russia.

And don’t look too seriously at Star Trek as our future. The show, especially starting with NG, always had a semi socialist slant, assuming, for one thing, that humans no longer had any material needs. But of course how they got there is never really explored, esp since that end state is assumed to be the end result of socialism, without explain how to get there through socialism, and despite it uniformly fails to arrive at those goal, instead starving and murdering more than 100 million People.

Narr said...

New Republic--decades ago, before they derailed entirely--had a great article on how the natural team for a mission to Mars was the US and Japan. It was very convincing.

Narr
he said wistfully

Darrell said...

Field Marshall Freder

On this thread it's Space Ranger Freder. A different title for every area of expertise and Lefty counter-argument.

Yancey Ward said...

The right next step after Apollo was to build a self-sustaining, growing base on the Moon- or at least to make the attempts to do so.

That is still the right next step.

Michael K said...

Freder never grows up. I hope he is young. It would be sad to see an older man so stupid. Youth still has time to learn.

Michael K said...

If you worry about Russian relations, look no further than the Democrats, and how they have expended significant resources trying to delegitize Trump’s Presidency through pushing their Russian Collusion hoax.

This has been a real example of what we should be calling treasonous behavior.

And, of course, it diverts attention from China which is the dangerous enemy. They have done a good job of buying Democrats.

I also wonder how much the drug cartels funnel to the Democrats.

Jupiter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fen said...

"Politically it's better to encourage private industry, and learn from their best ideas. Might make the future space program more cost-effective and modern."

There's a saying that if fighting polio had been a government program we would currently have the best iron lung that money could buy.

Instead of a vaccine.

Jupiter said...

Blogger Jupiter said...
a) Anyone who tries to go to Mars will be exposed to intense radiation, which will kill them before they get there, or at best shortly after arrival.

b) There is no way to block this radiation, other than very thick shielding made of dense materials like lead. Which presents other problems.

c) NASA knows all this perfectly well. NASA has no plans to send humans to Mars, because the last time they killed some people in space, it didn't go over so well. Just imagine a reality TV show where a spacecraft full of attractive young people die slowly and horribly over the course of a month or so.

d) NASA is not telling us this, because NASA is welfare for people with very expensive lifestyles. They want it to keep coming.

Robert Cook said...

"Except the costs were not even comparable, and the justification for WW2 was one that I hope would still hold today, but I'm not sure."


Of course it would. We go to war today for any reason or no reason. We make up reasons to go to war. It's all about imposing our dominance on the world for as long as we can. Our masters in the military-industrial complex would love to have another World War! (That may be why some in our government are trying to start a war with Iran. Kudos to Trump for the degree of resistance to them that he seems to be putting up. In the end, though, they may have their way.)

madAsHell said...

I also wonder how much the drug cartels funnel to the Democrats.

When they started pointing to the children crossing the border, I figured this has to be drug money.

Narayanan said...

Hey,
how about supercolossal engines to tweak Earth orbit to regulate Planet Temperature

Leland said...

they would have figured out a way to check the wing of Columbia (perhaps a spacewalk?) for damage while it was still in orbit

A spacewalk was near impossible. There was no airlock, and I think only one spacesuit for ballast. The launch and entry suits might have allowed for full depress, but once outside the main hatch; there was no arm and no means to tether to the orbiter at that location.

The simple thing to do was to flyover a telescope with tracking capabilities. The vehicle was only 175 miles high, so it wouldn't have taken much a telescope. But you need to orient the vehicle to the telescope, and let the people on the ground know to look. The mission manager decided that would probably cost too much money and didn't like people going around her to ask if anyone would do it. The sad part is DoD often imaged the shuttle in orbit, because it was simply good training and practice.

Gordon Scott said...

A minor point, Jupiter: NASA has not killed anyone in space. All of the men and women who died in the US space program died on earth, or on the way up, or the way back. Mind you, it was pretty dang close a few times.

The Russians did kill one crew in space, when their capsule depressurized at the beginning of reentry.

It is interesting to note, though, that NASA's leaders had the actuaries run the numbers. They were told to expect to lose two to four crews in accidents getting to the moon. They did lose two; the crew of Apollo 1 who died in the fire on the pad, and Charles Bassett and Elliot See, who were the prime crew for Gemini IX. They died in a plane crash in St. Louis.

Leland said...

Dual use? I don't think the tech crossed over much. By the time of Apollo 11 we already had the hardware and telemetry to lob nukes pretty much where we wanted. The F1 engines would be a waste on an intercom. ballistic missile

The frustrating thing today is that US ICBM are solid fuel, because they are easier to store and keep ready for launch on demand. Liquid fuel, particularly cryogenics like Apollo and upper stages of Shuttle and SLS, are more difficult to store and can be corrosive. So NASA and DoD continue to use solid boosters to allow testing and improvement to solid fuels. Meanwhile, SpaceX has shown the value of liquid boosters in booth cross-feeding the central core to keep it topped off and retaining fuel for a dry landing.

wildswan said...

"Blogger Jupiter said...
a) Anyone who tries to go to Mars will be exposed to intense radiation, which will kill them before they get there, or at best shortly after arrival.

b) There is no way to block this radiation, other than very thick shielding made of dense materials like lead. Which presents other problems."

Naturally the miners on Mars will be underground and that will take care of the radiation issue. The few above-ground sites which will be needed, will be built and maintained by robots using 3-D printing. Bad robots on earth will be sent to Mars for this job because of the danger from a super intense solar flare. In their spare time they can play chess with each other and we'll just have to make sure they get no books on history or political economy so they don't revolt. As I understand it, they will anyway but that's an issue for the future.

Quaestor said...

Gahrie wrote: Turn over space transportation to private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin, both of which have accomplished more in human spaceflight in 10 years than NASA has in forty.

Neither SpaceX nor Blue Origin have a man-rated booster ... yet.

Your comment about NASA's Russian booster technology is overblown, to say the least.

loudogblog said...

The thing about going to the moon was that it had to be done eventually. The earth will not be able to support human life forever. All it would take is one giant asteroid impact and the human race would become extinct. If we want mankind to survive in the long term, we have to move out into space.

Narayanan said...

@Blogger Jupiter said...etc.

!!!Hey if you want to go home why don't you give us more info for right tech to get you there!!!

Darkisland said...

Just read about the first moon landing in 1978 last night. Robert Heinlein's "The Man who sold the Moon"

What a great book about a completely private, for profit, enterprise. One man had a vision, convinced his partner in Harriman & Strong to go along and reached the moon. No govt money, no govt help in patents and technology or the like.

Then he turned it into a going, profit-making enterprise.

The way it should be done.

The main reason he did it was because he wanted to go to the moon personally. He was prevented first by his partners who felt he was essential to the business then by age and health.

In requiem, which I will re-read tonight, by somewhat unorthodox means, he finally makes it and breathes his last on the moon's surface.

Both are very moving stories if for slightly different reasons.

Props to the Chicagoboyz.net blog for reminding me I needed to reread both for the 20th or 30th time. Been too long since the last time.

Both available in the anthology "The Man who sold the moon" for about $5 via the portal.

John Henry

Darkisland said...

When I ran across this quote from man who sold the moon:

"You [Harriman's business partner] ask me to show figures on a brand-new type of enterprise, knowing I can't. It's like asking the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk to estimate how much money Curtiss-Wright Corporation would someday make out of building airplanes."

I thought of this one from Warren Buffett:

"Think airlines. Here a durable competitive advantage has proven elusive ever since the days of the Wright Brothers. Indeed, if a farsighted capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk, he would have done his successors a huge favor by shooting Orville down."

John Henry

doctrev said...

Bruce Hayden said...

And don’t look too seriously at Star Trek as our future. The show, especially starting with NG, always had a semi socialist slant, assuming, for one thing, that humans no longer had any material needs. But of course how they got there is never really explored, esp since that end state is assumed to be the end result of socialism, without explain how to get there through socialism, and despite it uniformly fails to arrive at those goal, instead starving and murdering more than 100 million People.

7/21/19, 11:30 AM

I agree 110%. I'm not talking about the actual plot of the Old Universe, but the revolutionary concept of an American show having a Russian on the bridge during the height of the Cold War. That was a hopeful thing, even if the left mainly enjoyed it for tweaking American patriots.

Look at modern media now. Black Widow is Russian In Name Only, Jennifer Lawrence's graduate of whore school was Level 4/9 Cringe, and new Star Trek only has Chekhov in the name of continuity. I can't think of many popular films that featured Russians in any capacity but antagonists. Amazing how quickly Hollywood liberals will resort to ethnic intolerance, and for what bizarre reasons.

I think international national partnerships such as the International Space Station are closer to the model for what I would like to see than a WASA. Realistically, I think you need America and Russia to participate together, given their legacies with major space projects.

I do like Fen's remark about the best iron lung ever. So true.

Bruce Hayden said...

To reiterate my point about billionaires taking us into space: "Corporate astronaut": How billionaires are joining the space race

I think that the Ansari X Prize Is also a good example of what can be done outside the government.

The Ansari X Prize was a space competition in which the X Prize Foundation offered a US$10,000,000 prize for the first non-government organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks. It was modeled after early 20th-century aviation prizes, and aimed to spur development of low-cost spaceflight..

The prize was won on October 4, 2004, the 47th anniversary of the Sputnik 1 launch, by the Tier One project designed by Burt Rutan and financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, using the experimental spaceplane SpaceShipOne. $10 million was awarded to the winner, and more than $100 million was invested in new technologies in pursuit of the prize....

The X Prize was inspired by the Orteig Prize—the 1919 prize worth 25,000 dollars offered by New York hotel owner Raymond Orteig that encouraged a number of intrepid aviators in the mid-1920s to fly across the Atlantic Ocean—which was ultimately won in 1927 by Charles Lindbergh in his aircraft Spirit of St. Louis. In reading the book, The Spirit of St. Louis during 1994, Peter Diamandis realized that "such a prize, updated and offered ... as a space prize, might be just what was needed to bring space travel to the general public, to jump-start a commercial space industry."[2]:15–17

Diamandis developed a fully formed idea for a "suborbital space barnstorming prize", and set an initial goal of finding backers to support a US$10 million prize. He named it the X Prize, in part because "X" could serve as a variable for the name of the person who might later back the prize; any craft built to win the prize would be experimental, and a long line of experimental aircraft built for the US Air Force had been so designated, including the X-15 that was, in 1963, the first government-built craft to carry a human into space; and because "Ten is the Roman numeral X".

Narayanan said...

@Darkisland

Thanks for Warren Buffett quote! About disruptive innovators. And need to eliminate.


Now I understand why he is chummy with global socialists.

Has his good pal Gates heard this? Or said something similar in agreement?

Thanks in advance.

Darkisland said...

Naraynan

I think you miss the point of the Buffett quote. It was not because it was a disruptive technology and it was more about airlines than flight.

His point was that, on net, over the past 100 years, people who have invested in airlines have lost money.

He has written about this more extensively elsewhere explaining why Berkshire-Hathaway does not invest in airlines. Writing about investing in NetJet, he said he "Could rationalize it but could not justify it."

I mentioned the other day I was watching The Prize a 6 part history of Oil based on Yergin's book. Done by PBS in the 90s it is available on Amazon Prime.

I found it infuriating because the govt kept preventing innovation and lower prices. For example, preventing Rockefeller from getting a better freight rate for shipping a guaranteed 500 tank cars per day than the independent who might ship 10 one day, 50 the next none the next and so on. It was not "fair" to have different freight rates.

Ditto the need for production regulation to keep oil prices from falling too low.

The series seemed to think this was a good thing to keep the govt from disrupting.

Still interesting and worth watching even if annoying at times.

John Henry

Skookum John said...


Blogger Jupiter said...
a) Anyone who tries to go to Mars will be exposed to intense radiation, which will kill them before they get there, or at best shortly after arrival.

b) There is no way to block this radiation, other than very thick shielding made of dense materials like lead. Which presents other problems.

c) NASA knows all this perfectly well. NASA has no plans to send humans to Mars, because the last time they killed some people in space, it didn't go over so well. Just imagine a reality TV show where a spacecraft full of attractive young people die slowly and horribly over the course of a month or so.


Horseshit, Jupiter, pure road apples straight from the same horse barn that brings us Hollywood disaster movies, climate-change alarmism, and Luddite anti-nuclear hysteria.

NASA estimates that its crews would get a radiation dose equivalent of about 1 seivert (Sv) of radiation over the course of a 500 day mission to Mars and back. For those of you of a certain age in the radiation safety business, that’s about 100 rem in the old units. That’s the equivalent of perhaps 75 CT scans.

Every hospital in the country has patients who’ve received that much radiation or more. They may be cancer victims, drug-seekers, hypochondriacs, those with panic or anxiety disorder who routinely present with hyperventilation and dyspnea, or alcoholic street-fighting bums “found down” in the gutter every two weeks.

The major stochastic side effect of a dose of this magnitude is an approximately 5% increase in the lifetime cancer incidence, and that’s if you believe the “linear no-threshold” model of radiation-induced malignancy. This is a particularly cautious approach that borders on religious faith among the anti-nuclear crowd, but there are good treasons to believe it is inaccurate at dose equivalents below 10 Sv or so. Mutations and cancer occur due to double strand DNA breaks such as those seen in very high radiation exposures over a short period of time, but our DNA repair enzymes can easily fix single-strand breaks induced by lower levels of radiation, and in fact there is experimental evidence that these repair enzymes are revved up by radiation and go on to fix other problems elsewhere in the chromosomes. The effect is called “radiation hormesis” and it may explain why nuclear plant workers have slightly lower cancer rates than the rest of us. The risk can be mitigated by selecting participants who are past their childbearing years and old enough that the typical 20-year latency period for radiation-induced cancers would not seriously affect their life expectancy. I’m in my 50’s, with healthy children and a vasectomy, and I would enthusiastically volunteer for this mission even if there were no shielding at all in place.

There is also experimental evidence, from animal experiments and tests on those receiving radiation for brain cancer, that radiation doses in this range may induce a small non-stochastic drop in IQ, on the order of 2-5 IQ points. As anyone selected for a Mars mission will have an IQ of 130 or more, this seems like a manageable loss.

All in all, the issue should not present an insurmountable hurdle for an advanced technological society with a judicious view of cost/benefit ratios, let alone a civilization that is heir to bold adventurers like Magellan, Columbus, Shackleton, and Hillary. It would cost a mere pittance by comparison to the Danegeld we pay the useless eaters of urban America not to riot.

Narayanan said...

Thanks for explaining.

My question to you then : under which regulatory regime does Buffett prefer to operate?

Michael K said...

It's like asking the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk to estimate how much money Curtiss-Wright Corporation would someday make out of building airplanes."

The Wright brothers spent decades in litigation trying to defend their patents and missed the boat on airlerons

in 1906 the United States granted an expansive patent to the Wright Brothers of Dayton, Ohio, for the invention of a system of aerodynamic control that manipulated an airplane's control surfaces. Considerable litigation ensued within the United States over the legal issues of lateral roll control, until the First World War compelled the U.S. Government to legislate a legal resolution.

The Wright brothers used wing warping instead of ailerons for roll control on their glider in 1902, and about 1904 their Flyer II was the only aircraft of its time able to do a coordinated banked turn. During the early years of powered flight the Wrights had better roll control on their designs than airplanes that used movable surfaces. From 1908, as aileron designs were refined it became clear that ailerons were much more effective and practical than wing warping. Ailerons also had the advantage of not weakening the airplane's wing structure as did the wing warping technique,[4] which was one reason for Esnault-Pelterie's decision to switch to ailerons.[15]

By 1911 most biplanes used ailerons rather than wing warping—by 1915 ailerons had become almost universal on monoplanes as well. The U.S. Government, frustrated by the lack of its country's aeronautical advances in the years leading up to World War I, enforced a patent pool effectively putting an end to the Wright brothers patent war.[16][17][18] The Wright company quietly changed its aircraft flight controls from wing warping to the use of ailerons at that time as well.


I think their misguided attempts to defend their patent cost them dearly

Bruce probably haas other examples of patent law that were misguided.,

Jupiter said...

Skookum John said...

"NASA estimates that its crews would get a radiation dose equivalent of about 1 seivert (Sv) of radiation over the course of a 500 day mission to Mars and back."

NASA estimates that the number of solar flares during a 500 day mission to Mars and back will be zero.

Limited Perspective said...

Putting a man on the moon, like winning WW2 or the Manhattan Project was a specific objective that had a big "Mission Accomplished" at the end. It's the kind of thing that makes life worth living. Does our country have any specific objectives that we want to accomplish where we can as a nation say, "Mission Accomplished."

Can you name one thing the politicians promote that will have a beginning and an end with an demonstrable success or failure? All hear is this "No Child Left Behind" type bullshit. "I will not stop taking your money and being a SJW asshole as long as there is one child left behind" (whatever that means).

Jim at said...

David Hogg preaching about unity.
That's rich.

rcocean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcocean said...

Mr Hogg.
The Pig with Unearned fame.
Who often speaks without a brain.

Mark said...

If we can put a man on the moon -- why the hell can't we have quotes that people are responding to put in italics or something???? Can't we devise some system so that readers can determine where one person's comment ends and another person's begins??

Mark said...

And it probably would take putting a man on Mars before we can figure out how to put a link in.

Gahrie said...

Can't we devise some system so that readers can determine where one person's comment ends and another person's begins??

Most of us use italics and bold to quote.

Gahrie said...

b) There is no way to block this radiation, other than very thick shielding made of dense materials like lead. Which presents other problems.

Most designs I've seen use water.

narciso said...

'this is why we can't have nice things,'

Gahrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gahrie said...

Gahrie wrote: Turn over space transportation to private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin, both of which have accomplished more in human spaceflight in 10 years than NASA has in forty.

Neither SpaceX nor Blue Origin have a man-rated booster ... yet.


SpaceX would, if not for onerous government regulations. Blue Origins is closer than most people realize.

Your comment about NASA's Russian booster technology is overblown, to say the least.

?? I don't understand this comment.

I remarked that the only ay NASA has to get men into space is by buying space on Russian rockets that use technology from the 1960's. This is objective truth.

I made a second comment that NASA's current design for their next rocket uses technology that is forty years old. This is objective truth.

How is either comment overblown?

Limited Perspective said...

"Most of us use italics and bold to quote."

A very good Get With the Program (quote, end quote) piece of advice. But, which is it? Bold or italics?

Henceforth, I will not write a comment in the manual typewriter (before electric) ways I was taught to correspond. I will learn HTML. Is there anyone here at Ms Althouse who can recommend a good YouTube video on how to use italics or bold when quoting in the comment section of a blogger.com website?

In the old correspondence you have to give your name and address in the upper left of the page. We probably lost some civilization on that change.

gilbar said...

Okay, let's be serious, just for a second

A) by letting the Soviets orbit 1st, we Made them allow orbital overflights

B) by beating them to the moon, we Made them renounce Any property rights off earth



A) SPY SATELLITES
B) NO LUNAR MISSILES

Gahrie said...

But, which is it? Bold or italics?

See my comment directly above your last. The bold part is a quote of me from an earlier post that was quoted by someone I replied to. The italics are the comments of someone I am replying to. The normal text is my comment for that post.

ken in tx said...

'The Man From U.N.C.L.E' had a Russian good guy in it. The show combined spy stories, glorifying the UN, and being anti-Cold War. IOW, left-wing Hollywood propaganda. However, as a high school student, I liked it.

Gahrie said...

Is there anyone here at Ms Althouse who can recommend a good YouTube video on how to use italics or bold when quoting in the comment section of a blogger.com website?

Use < I > and < / I > with no spaces, and everything between them will be italic. The symbols will not show in the published text. < b > and < / b > are bold.

tcrosse said...

Boris Johnson recently used the "if we can put a man on the moon" trope to indicate that we can work Brexit. Well, what's this We shit, Boris ? Is there something about the British space programme that I missed?
There's a Slovenian mockumentary called "Houston, We Have A Problem" about how Tito sold the Yugoslav space program to JFK for billion of dollars. It ends up being nostalgic about the good old days of Tito's Yugoslavia.

Limited Perspective said...

Thank you Gahrie for the information. I will probably try to conform to the format. But, I know no one here really cares here about what I write or how I write it. It's just a way to waste time without having to deal with real and complicated people.

For things meaningful, I always have a fair disagreement with the Mrs in the works (been married 31 years), or some political debate with the kids, or a negotiation with some client, or a cold beer with a good friend.

Thanks again.

sinz52 said...

Althouse: "Wolfe's idea about new inspiration has nothing like the power of the old Cold War with the Russians."

This echoes something that an official of the Smithsonian once said:

"We went to the Moon--and then we stopped. And the reason we stopped was that we didn't find any Klingons there."

The reason that science fiction like Star Trek or Star Wars continues to be much more popular than real-life manned space exploration, is that such science fiction depicts a universe filled with life. It's all those aliens and their interaction with us that create the drama, the adventure, the conflict, and (on occasion) even the romance.

The Moon is a lifeless chunk of rock. And, sadly, it now appears that Mars and Venus are also biologically lifeless worlds with stable carbon dioxide atmospheres.

Americans are bored by going to other worlds just to pick up some lifeless rocks.

I can only think of one other thing that would inspire Americans again in the absence of alien life: Make the TV show "Lost in Space" come true.

That is, as soon as we prove out the concept of a manned landing on Mars, send a whole family to live there, including young children. It would be the ultimate reality show on YouTube: Watching Mom and Dad raising their kids on Mars.

sinz52 said...

Quaestor: "Neither SpaceX nor Blue Origin have a man-rated booster ... yet. "

At this time, NASA's entire manned space program is vaporware. When does NASA plan to launch crews into space on its own boosters again? When will those boosters be tested again?

narciso said...

This is the problem we scuttled Columbus ships and put the plans in a dusty drawer.

Bunkypotatohead said...

The environmental impact lawsuits alone will keep the US gov't from ever going to Mars. Plus the need to be all diverse, with some blacks and transgenders going along for the ride will shift the project to China or Russia, where they don't put up with that BS.

The Godfather said...

If there's no government reason to go farther out into space than a couple of hundred miles, then we'll go farther out with private enterprise if there's money to be made out there ("there's gold in them thar asteroids!"). If not, not.

Quaestor said...

At this time, NASA's entire manned space program is vaporware.

This is also an overblown comment. (Frankly, I wonder why people use the pseudo-nerdish term vaporware when no one can agree to its meaning.) Assuming vaporware refers to proposed designs liable to radical revision up to and including complete abandonment, the SLS is not vaporware.

The core booster design is settled and the first testbed is under construction. The core will use the RS-25D engine, a revised version of the Space Shuttle main engine. It was chosen for its long history of reliable service and its significantly more advanced design over the F-1 and J-2 engines of the Apollo program. Like the J-2 the RS-25D is restartable and uses LOX/H fuel rather than the heavier LOX/Kerosene fuel required for the F-1.

What's not settled is the contractor for the advanced Block 2 SRBs. Three companies have submitted proposals, and whether one or all of them will be developed is not determined. A configuration suitable for a manned moon mission using the Block 1 SRBs will launch in 2021 or 2022.

The SpaceX Falcon Heavy is certainly more established than NASA's rocket but it has not flown a Dragon vehicle, nor is it clear the Dragon spacecraft will survive as a viable system.

Gahrie said...

Assuming vaporware refers to proposed designs liable to radical revision up to and including complete abandonment, the SLS is not vaporware.

Tell that to the Constellation program.

Jamie said...

Sinz, you know Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids.

Michael McNeil said...

Notice that even Inga can generate an HTML link in her comments. Please don't just give up after only a single try or two.

If you're having trouble getting it to work (it's extremely easy to make such links, but you've got to know which characters to put where), then simply practice a few times (on, say, an Althouse cafe post), then delete your mistakes. Then you'll have it.

Here's how it works (note: omit the line endings I'm showing for clarity between sections; also, capitals vs. lower-case letters make no difference). I'm creating a link to Althouse's blog as an example:

text that precedes the link
<a href="https://althouse.blogspot.com/">
text that names the link e.g. Althouse
</a>
text that follows the link

Which then comes out looking (in one's posting) like this (notice that the link works!):

text that precedes the link Althouse text that follows the link

____

There is one potential gotcha in that some operating systems (iOS was doing it for a while with iPhones and iPads) will attempt to substitute angle-quotes (“e.g.”) when you actually type straight (double) quotes ("e.g.") — if you can't see the difference, zoom in. Straight double quotes are required for surrounding the http link, as shown in the example above.

The solution to this issue (in iOS, using iOS's crappy on-screen keyboard) is to hold your finger down on the double-quote key until the subsidiary menu opens up (displaying several different types of quotes), then select the straight quote.

William said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

David Hogg, intrepid American social commentator.

AAT said...

I don’t think you can completely discount the way that the Moon landing dispririted the Russians and put a brake on their quest for world conquest.