NASA gets cold feet on Moon base plan
Lunar outpost apparently off the agenda
NASA is dithering about whether its future plans should include a Moon base or focus on missions further out into the solar system, New Scientist reports.
Speaking yesterday, the agency's acting administrator, Chris Scolese, suggested "a shift in the agency's direction", from his predecessor Mike Griffin's commitment to a lunar outpost as part of a slated 2020 manned return to the Moon.
However, Scolese told the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies of the House Committee on Appropriations: "We were looking at an outpost on the Moon, as the basis for that  estimate and that one is being revisited.
"It will probably be less than an outpost on the Moon, but where it fits between sorties, single trips, to the Moon to various parts and an outpost is really going to be dependent on the studies that we're going to be doing."
These "studies" seem to involve largely bypassing the Moon and focusing instead on more ambitious goals. Sciolese elaborated: "Recall [that] the Vision [for Space Exploration] was not just to go to the Moon as it was in Apollo, it was to utilise space to go on to Mars and to go to other places.
"We've demonstrated over the last several years that with multiple flights we can build a very complex system reliably - the space station - involving multiple nations... and we'll need something like that if we're going to go to Mars."
He further teased: "So what I would like to see from NASA over time is an architecture that... will give us flexibility for taking humans beyond low-Earth orbit and allowing us to have options for what we can do at the Moon as well as other destinations... [like] Mars or an asteroid… so that there are options on what we do in 2020."
What NASA's plans finally include is in part dependent on the as-yet-undecided 2010 budget - due to be released as a detailed proposal this month.
Congressman Alan Mollohan, the subcommittee's chair, was evidently unimpressed with NASA's vague "flexibility" concept, and demanded: "Does the 2010 budget request impact in any way our target - is this so complicated - our target of getting to the moon by 2020? Is there any consideration being given within the organisation to not attempting to meet the 2020 Moon [return]… is there any reconsideration of going there? What is going on here?"
Doug Cooke, NASA's associate administrator for exploration systems, replied: "The direction that we have is to continue to pursue the 2020 date." He did, however, note that the agency was "still assessing how the 2010 budget might affect that." ®
The Moon is Necessary.......
It is absolutely necessary to get back to the moon and mine its riches. There are rare and special metals "on the Moon" necessary for Galaxy Space Travel. While the technology to discover and use these materials is currently being developed; the world will find that "space travel" will be a slow boat to China if we pass up this opportunity.
The materials available there will not only provide a safe space vessel environment, but also the fuel to power that vessel; this will make travel to the stars a doable venture in our lifetime.
Game over, learn to speak Chinese
"Only the Chinese can get to the moon"
...where they'll build stuff that can zap all the U.S. defense satellites, and sadly because of U.S. defense-budgets cuts (blame the peace-nik Democrats) the U.S. weapons can't reach far enough to zap the moon-based Chinese weapons... uh-oh...
Game over. Chinese win. Hope you're ready to learn to speak Chinese, because no doubt the Chinese victors will suppress the English language much the same way as the British suppressed the Irish language (<http://www.politics.ie/history/26726-suppression-irish-language-19th-century.html>) and the same way that the oldtime U.S. white slave-holders suppressed native African languages in the slave population (for fear of plots of rebellion). The winners get to call the shots, after all.
Anyway, the point is, the only reason we went to the moon in the first place, was for military/strategic reasons (despite the public being conned into believing it was for "exploration" and whatnot), and that will likely be the only future reason that anyone ventures to the moon or anywhere else in the galaxy.
Nations that don't have the funding for this sort of thing, well that's too bad and all, but to be a "winner" in this game, requires adequate funding. And the proper, er, "persuasions" to get the public to agree to said funding.
Santa Claus likes his privacy
Why do I think its never seriously been on the agenda in the first place?
This has been a recent ploy in American politics. Someone stands up and declares they'll investigate/pursue "whatever". They draw all the fire and enthusiasm off and then much later shelve the whole idea. Did it with the impeachment of Bush, did it with the prosecution of torture and now with the moon base. It's a cynical ploy to simply run down the clock.