Social Media Sidebar


Please sign up, comment on articles and bring your friends!

Current poll

PlanetTech is asking:

What do you think about our new web site?

Love it, indeed
Really good solution
Same as old one
The old one was better
This is a new option

Quote of the day

Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.


Thomas Edison

Why we’re going back to the Moon; with or without NASA

Posted in Science on 16th Dec, 2015 12:01 AM by AlexMuller

NASA turned away from the Moon at the very place where America’s Apollo journeys began. In April 2010, President Obama visited Kennedy Space Center in Florida to deliver his single space policy speech. As Buzz Aldrin looked on, Obama said of the Moon, “I just have to say pretty bluntly here, we’ve been there before."

With this one line, Obama had transformed the Moon into a taboo subject within the halls of the NASA administration in Washington DC. Instead of the Moon, Obama said, NASA would send astronauts to an asteroid and then, one day, Mars.
Why the policy shift? NASA had just sponsored an influential report by Norman Augustine and others that found its big-rocket Moon program was unaffordable. Additionally, Constellation and its Moon-first ambitions were launched by a Republican president, George W. Bush.
Since the 2010 speech, NASA has pushed to meet the president’s new goals. Engineers designed plans to visit an asteroid, but that initiative lacked the funds to fly astronauts deep into space. Then engineers planned to grapple a house-sized asteroid and drag it back to the vicinity of the Moon for astronauts to explore it.
But even that proved too challenging, so the plan now is to grab a small boulder from an asteroid and bring that back to the Moon. Technically, this meets the president’s goal of “visiting” an asteroid.
As for Mars, yes, the agency says it is going there in the 2030s. This is its “Journey to Mars.” But the agency has yet to outline a clear roadmap for how to do this, nor has it said how much Mars will cost. Critics have said an agency with no plan is going nowhere, and others contend it hasn’t presented Congress with a budget because it doesn’t want to give legislators “sticker shock.”
It is perhaps best that NASA’s Constellation program ended in 2010. Characterized by then-NASA Administrator Mike Griffin as “Apollo on steroids,” Constellation was to use huge, expensive rockets and landers and traditional cost-plus contracting methods. Independent estimates suggested using this approach would cost the United States a staggering $150 billion to return to the Moon by the 2020s.
If we really want to go back, there are essentially three pathways. One is the traditional NASA way, an all-government approach with huge contractors like Boeing and Lockheed Martin devouring lucrative cost-plus contracts. This has proven too expensive during past efforts to leave low-Earth orbit, first with the Space Exploration Initiative in the early 1990s and again during Constellation.
A second way is an all-commercial approach, led by private investors who might sell the water to NASA for rocket fuel or dredge up silicates in the lunar regolith and fabricate solar cells for use on the Moon or to beam power back to Earth. No company has been able to build a strong business case. Such proposals come with high upfront costs and distant profits.
A final pathway to the lunar surface involves some manner of public-private partnership, in which governments buy low-cost services from private companies. While NASA has disdained the Moon since 2010, its policies may change. Europe, too, is interested in an international partnership to develop the Moon as a follow-on project to the International Space Station.
It’s impossible to know how much water ice might be on the Moon. The data leads to suspect the surface of some craters consists of a fluffy mix of water ice and other chemicals with low boiling points known as volatiles. This porous material might extend down a few meters below the surface. Below that, there may be a layer rich in water ice, potentially as much as 80 percent water.
Perhaps water on the Moon finally opens an affordable pathway to Mars. Certainly a lot of current astronauts feel that way. Clayton Anderson, a veteran of two spaceflights, attended an astronaut-only meeting before leaving NASA in January 2013 when Lori Garver, then NASA’s deputy administrator, had come to Johnson Space Center to meet with the astronauts.
During the meeting, Garver polled the nearly 50 astronauts about their preferred destination. Who wanted to go to an asteroid, she asked. No hands. Mars? Three hands. The Moon? All the rest.

Tags: moonspaceNASAcommercial spacewaterspace exploration

Read original article » Back to category



Recent headlines

  • Posted in Online on 2018-05-27 15:31:10
    SpaceX’s prototype internet satellites are good more
    Posted in Medicine on 2018-05-27 15:24:22
    Drug Discovery Accelerated By Using Deep Neural more
    Posted in Software on 2018-05-26 01:48:47
    From Here to Human-Level AGI in Four Simple more
    Posted in Science on 2018-05-26 01:41:34
    Research Team Builds a Brain Model Neuron By more
    Posted in Hardware on 2018-05-24 04:45:19
    30% Efficiency Solar more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-10 01:33
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-20 07:17
Spacex says China is their main competitor for more
Posted in Software on 2013-10-20 06:43
Pirate Bay Browser Clocks 1,000,000 more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-10 02:10
Google reportedly investing hundreds of millions into more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-14 03:13
Endothelial Cells Can Repair and Regenerate Organs, more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Spacex says China is their main competitor for more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Staring at Your Phone Could Be Making You Short more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Oculus Rift virtual reality headset coming to mobile, more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Delivering drugs via nanoparticles to target more

Recent Blog Posts

  • Posted by AlexMuller
    In five years quantum computing will be more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Google partners with Johnson and Johnson to make lower more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Electron holography microscope with spatial resolution down more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Lower cost advanced Nuclear power could dominate future US more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Why Hasn’t AI Mastered Language Translation? more

Login to your Account

Login to your PlanetTech Account here

Remember me

Create a New Account

You just need username and password

The following errors occured:
Verify password:
Remember me