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Old Sep 12, 2012, 09:58 AM   #1
eagandale4114
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We choose to go to the moon"

It has been 50 years since that historic challenge.
What next?
http://www.nasa.gov/topics/history/f...eech_50th.html
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Old Sep 12, 2012, 10:00 AM   #2
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I don't know what's next, but it seems Mars is currently the hot topic of space exploration. Personally, I'd like to see us return to the moon, and start some type of research station, colony or something there.

I really liked that speech by JFK too. He challenged us to do the tough things, not the easy things and because of that, we accomplished many great things.
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Old Sep 12, 2012, 11:17 AM   #3
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Undoubtedly, but let's not forget that this was during the depths of the Cold War and about one-upmanship over the Russians who had been first to make many achievements - first satellite, first man in space, first spacewalk, etc and being first on the moon would trump the Russians

There is no competition to drive that innovation any more
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Old Sep 12, 2012, 11:19 AM   #4
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There is no competition to drive that innovation any more
Very true. But I wish we could say that our desire for knowledge would be enough for that level of exploration, rather than another cold war pushing us.
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Old Sep 12, 2012, 11:21 AM   #5
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Very true. But I wish we could say that our desire for knowledge would be enough for that level of exploration, rather than another cold war pushing us.
Agreed. Especially as there is no need any longer for one nation to bear the cost alone. This is something that could drive technological innovation for the whole world, while still harking back to Armstrong's "One giant leap for mankind"
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Old Sep 12, 2012, 11:25 AM   #6
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Agreed. Especially as there is no need any longer for one nation to bear the cost alone. This is something that could drive technological innovation for the whole world, while still harking back to Armstrong's "One giant leap for mankind"
You're right, however, there is a part of me as an American that still wants to see the US lead the way on our own, and not do joint ventures. Right, wrong or indifferent, there's no doubt my feeling is a pride thing.
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Old Sep 12, 2012, 12:39 PM   #7
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Agreed. Especially as there is no need any longer for one nation to bear the cost alone. This is something that could drive technological innovation for the whole world, while still harking back to Armstrong's "One giant leap for mankind"
Then you have to argue with multiple nations over who pays for what, what the objectives will be, where to launch, which nation the astronauts come from, and so forth. It'd just make a difficult mission even more difficult.

In the end the US would probably end up paying for most of it as usual. So why not do it all and not deal with all the international politicking? It would be of better benefit to the US as all the tech they came up with would be patented to US companies.

Sure it's expensive but not too expensive. The estimates I read indicate that five to eleven manned missions could be launched for the cost of the Iraq war. That cost could be recouped by the economy. If the companies paid to design new technologies were required to manufacture any patented device or material in the US for the duration of the patent, as a stipulation in the contract bidding process.
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Old Sep 12, 2012, 01:01 PM   #8
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You're right, however, there is a part of me as an American that still wants to see the US lead the way on our own, and not do joint ventures. Right, wrong or indifferent, there's no doubt my feeling is a pride thing.
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Then you have to argue with multiple nations over who pays for what, what the objectives will be, where to launch, which nation the astronauts come from, and so forth. It'd just make a difficult mission even more difficult.
...
The International Space Station is a good example of international cooperation. Astronauts from multiple countries, including Americans being lifted to the ISS on Russian rockets.

The threats we face - as a planet - are now global in nature. The solutions we develop, including space exploration, should also be global. We should have been well past the point where national pride takes precedence over what is good for the planet.
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Old Sep 12, 2012, 02:18 PM   #9
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Then you have to argue with multiple nations over who pays for what, what the objectives will be, where to launch, which nation the astronauts come from, and so forth. It'd just make a difficult mission even more difficult.
Remind me again, where are American astronauts launching from at the moment? This is why the cost needs to be spread, there simply isn't the budget in NASA to do Apollo again. OK, the Iraq war may have cost enough to pay for several manned missions, but had the money not been spent on war, I bet it would have gone on welfare or similar, not on NASA.
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Old Sep 12, 2012, 03:03 PM   #10
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Well, slap two nacelles and a saucer section on the International Space Station would be a nice start.
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Old Sep 12, 2012, 03:37 PM   #11
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Ask anyone at NASA, who will answer you candidly, and they will tell you. There's no way to get a person to Mars and have them live. They've known this for decades and they have no answer yet.

Put simply, it's muscular atrophy. That amount of time in space, without gravity to maintain human musculature, they would die. Even if we could get someone to Mars, and even if they survived, we wouldn't be able to get them home.

There's been a monumental effort to come up with zero-G exercise to beat this, but the brutal fact is, without gravity, it doesn't work. At best NASA can conceive of a rotating ship to create gravity, but it would need to be 30km in diameter, and that's just not do-able.

So human travel to Mars is at best a one-way suicide mission. There are those who might do this for the science, but it doesn't sit with NASA's public image of a successful mission being one where the humans live/get back home.

They're too proud of their public image to admit that a human mission isn't possible, or would be one-way, so they don't speak of it. Not to mention, their funding would be drastically reduced if this wasn't a possibility. Ooh, look, that's already happened - again, nobody speaks of it, but that's the reason. At this stage, it's a dead-end and nobody wants to admit it, too much pride, too much money involved.

They'll always plan to find a way to get to Mars, but at this stage, there's no solution, and the dates keep moving out into the distance.

You'd be better off hunting down conspiracy theories about reverse-engineered non-terrestrial devices that instantly transport people and machinery to Mars. Arrange a tour of that big base in the middle of Australia, there's supposed to be some of those machines, there. And in the end, that might be why the military industrial complex has lost interest in NASA.

NASA is a publicity machine for science, and they're doing the best they can. As long as they can keep delivering good news and building national pride, they'll get their money, just not as much as if they could 'successfully' send people into outer space.
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Old Sep 13, 2012, 10:18 AM   #12
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Ask anyone at NASA, who will answer you candidly, and they will tell you. There's no way to get a person to Mars and have them live. They've known this for decades and they have no answer yet.

... At best NASA can conceive of a rotating ship to create gravity, but it would need to be 30km in diameter, and that's just not do-able.

...
I agree with your post, for the most part. I have a question about the rotating ship, though. I had always assumed that this was the method that would be adopted, similar to the Discovery One in the film 2001 - A Spacey Odyssey. Since Clarke was so well grounded in physics and science, I had always assumed that a ship of that circumference would be sufficient to spin it fast enough to generate the gravity at the rim necessary.

Do you have a link for the 30km diameter figure? It feels like you are writing about something you know well - so this is not a challenge, but a request so that I can follow up on the thinking.

----

The other way to generate the gravity is constant acceleration. If a highly efficient fusion energy source is ever developed, then the fuel required (and the punitive mass that it entails) can be hugely scaled back. Accelerate out at about 1g, spin 180 at the mid-point and decelerate at 1g into Mars orbit. Since we are understanding how long the human body can withstand 0g before serious complications set it, it would be possible to accelerate/decelerate in pulses. Something like X days of acceleration then Y days of 0g, and then back to X days of acceleration.
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Old Sep 13, 2012, 10:41 AM   #13
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Ask anyone at NASA, who will answer you candidly, and they will tell you. There's no way to get a person to Mars and have them live. They've known this for decades and they have no answer yet.

Put simply, it's muscular atrophy. That amount of time in space, without gravity to maintain human musculature, they would die. Even if we could get someone to Mars, and even if they survived, we wouldn't be able to get them home.
When you say "ask anyone at NASA" I'm assuming you mean "I saw it one time on the Discovery Channel" because 10 minutes of research will tell you that the record for a human being in space is 437 days (1.2 years). The cosmonaut, Valeri Polyakov, walked off of the spaceship with no help. Typical Mars missions call for about 1.5 years in space so it's hardly a suicide mission.

The figure of a spacecraft 30km across to create gravity is patently ridiculous, especially since you don't need an entire G to make the trip safely. Just having a tiny bit of gravity would keep the astronauts much healthier.

Even though Mars is a boring destination (look, rocks!), I think it is pretty much guaranteed to be our next stop in the universe. But we're never going to get there if we just keep coming up with half-assed mission plans with deadlines of "20-30 years from now". The Moon landing worked because we had a motivation to go there, we were willing to take some risks for it, and it was properly funded. I have no doubt that humans have the technology to get to Mars now and we could probably do it by 2020 if we actually tried. Maybe eventually people will realize that the next giant leap for mankind is something worth taking the risk for... until then we will see plan after plan and no actual mission.
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Old Sep 13, 2012, 03:36 PM   #14
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Forget about anything more than unmanned probes/ robots from NASA until the "me generation" dies off. Sorry to detour into PRSI territory, but the boomers consider it their birthright to suck every last dollar from the government.
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Old Sep 13, 2012, 05:44 PM   #15
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I just read an interesting bit.

Basically, pretty soon all the people who walked on the moon will have passed away. At which point we will just be planet full of people that only remember when people, once upon a time, used to leave foot-prints on that big piece of rock in the sky.
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Old Sep 14, 2012, 12:31 AM   #16
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I don't know what's next, but it seems Mars is currently the hot topic of space exploration. Personally, I'd like to see us return to the moon, and start some type of research station, colony or something there.
There's pretty much nothing there though - No resources, no life... Just a pile of rock and dust
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Old Sep 14, 2012, 05:19 AM   #17
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There's pretty much nothing there though - No resources, no life... Just a pile of rock and dust
There's plenty of things that could be done there. It could be used in planning and research for a trip to Mars. Set up a station on the Moon, and put people there long term to study the effect of low gravity on the human body. That way, as others have suggested in this thread, the knowledge gathered could be used in designing a low gravity ship of some sort for the trip to Mars and back.

I have no idea, but would like to think there could be things we could mine from the moon, such as iron, gold, silver, and other raw materials that could be used on Earth.

Perhaps some type of communications systems could be set up there pointing back to Earth as a relay station, not having to rely on slowly degrading satellite orbits.

Probably my favorite idea would be to set up giant telescopes on the dark side of the moon staring out into space. That would be good because there is no atmosphere, like Earth, to throw off, or inhibit the light coming into it. Plus we could make it very large, or a large array of them, like we have on Earth. It seems from the documentaries I like to watch that building a giant space telescope much bigger than the Hubble is too difficult. So why not build a ground-based telescope(s) on the moon?
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Old Sep 14, 2012, 05:30 AM   #18
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There's pretty much nothing there though - No resources, no life... Just a pile of rock and dust
If we ever crack sustainable fusion, there is a shed load of Helium 3 up there that is needed for fuel. The solar wind deposits it on the moon, it would pay to go and collect it.
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Old Sep 14, 2012, 10:26 AM   #19
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There's pretty much nothing there though - No resources, no life... Just a pile of rock and dust
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There's plenty of things that could be done there. ...
SandboxGeneral says it better than I could.... but misses three benefits.

The ultimate prison (MIB3)

The ultimate tax haven.....

Place to mine for metals that are needed for a spacecraft to go to the other planets, and to assemble those spacecrafts. The energy needed to move materials from the Earth's surface to orbit is massive compared to the energy needed to go from orbit to just about any planet. Just off the top of my head, I'd speculate that the climb up from the surface probably needs more energy than to go from orbit to Mars. Any ships launched from the moon are saving that initial climb up the gravity well.
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Old Sep 15, 2012, 01:22 PM   #20
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Send in the Robonauts!

It's time to send a crack team of autonomous robots to the moon on a preprogrammed mission of setting up a self-replicating robotic ecosystem...
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Old Sep 15, 2012, 10:11 PM   #21
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It's time to send a crack team of autonomous robots to the moon on a preprogrammed mission of setting up a self-replicating robotic ecosystem...
...and then it would only be a matter of time before they decided to colonize Earth and mine it for its valuable minerals, overriding the First Law of Robotics and exterminating the biological parasites living on the planet below...
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Old Sep 16, 2012, 12:12 AM   #22
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At best NASA can conceive of a rotating ship to create gravity, but it would need to be 30km in diameter, and that's just not do-able.
Well that's interesting, since the Stanford Torus... a rotating space colony concept... would be a mere 1.8km in diameter.

The only reference I can see to 30 in a search is meters, not kilometers.
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Old Sep 16, 2012, 11:26 AM   #23
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... At best NASA can conceive of a rotating ship to create gravity, but it would need to be 30km in diameter, and that's just not do-able.
....
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Originally Posted by APlotdevice View Post
Well that's interesting, since the Stanford Torus... a rotating space colony concept... would be a mere 1.8km in diameter.

The only reference I can see to 30 in a search is meters, not kilometers.
Which, coincidentally, is (more or less) close to the diameter of the Discovery One in 2001 - A Space Odyssey in which tried to keep things as realistic as possible.
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Old Sep 16, 2012, 04:22 PM   #24
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I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but sending a manned mission to Mars is probably not going to happen in our lifetimes.

Why?

It all comes down to distance. And Mars is A LOT further away from earth than the moon is. The moon is roughly 380,000 kilometers from earth, meaning a spacecraft travelling at escape velocity can get there in three or four days. But Mars is (on average) 230 million kilometers from earth - or almost 650 times further away. Its the difference between walking a few blocks to your neighborhood grocery store in Chicago, and walking to a grocery store in New Orleans.

The Curiosity rover thats presently on the surface of Mars was launched back in November of last year, and landed in August of this year - taking almost nine months. But its also important to recognize that the Curiosity is on a one-way mission: it doesn't have to come back the way a manned mission would.

Why is this important? Because the distance between Mars and the Earth varies tremendously throughout the year. And NASA scientists can plan a one-way mission to coincide with a time when (nine months from launch) the distance will be the shortest. But once a mission is on the surface of Mars, the distance between the planets will have increased dramatically. Meaning that a return mission would either have to hang around on the Martian surface for many months, or would have to endure an interplanetary voyage several times longer than the journey out. ANY manned mission to Mars would require at least three years to complete.

Man probably couldn't survive this long in deep space, given current technology. Outside the Van Allen radiation belts, humans would be subject to gamma and X-ray radiation that would do irrepairable harm. The logistical problems of providing sufficient food, water, and oxygen become insurmountable. To say nothing of building a craft large enough, and accelerating and braking it at each end of the journey. Or the risks involved in landing a manned spacecraft on the Martian surface. We were able to land the Lunar Excursion Module on the moon because gravity there is so low. But Mars gravity is roughly 40% of earths - but without the thick atmosphere that allows aerobraking (i.e.. parachutes) to slow a craft to a survivable impact speed. And then you've got to carry enough fuel to relaunch from the planet's surface to rejoin the "mother ship" thats going to take you back to earth.

Unless there is some dramatic breakthrough in propellant technology that would allow us to cut the Mars/Earth transit time to a matter of weeks, rather than months, we probably won't be sending humans to Mars. It would be a suicide mission.
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Old Sep 17, 2012, 07:13 AM   #25
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<snip>
You raise a lot of good points; issues that I have thought of myself while pondering interstellar travel to the nearest planet that could possibly sustain life - Kepler 22b. In the end of that contemplation, I deduced that space travel for humans is limited to our solar system. Unless or until we find a way to travel much faster than light speed.

One thing I think we need to consider in a trip to Mars would be the psychological one. Traveling between 36 million and 250 million miles from Earth to Mars is the most serious isolation a human would endure. More-so than spending months or years "in the hole" at a prison because at least in prison you know that there are other people around and still on your home planet. In space, on the way to Mars, you have no lifeboat, no backup and no where to go if things go wrong. How would a person(s) feel and react once they truly realize, probably in a crisis, that they are 20 million miles from Earth and there isn't anyone to help them? It will take the most stable and strong minds to make such a trip. Even then, that may not be enough - we just don't know yet.

But despite all the obstacle in making a round trip to Mars and back, I think we could pull it off given the technology we have today. It's a matter of good planning, crew screening, and a proper budget to get everything needed.
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