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The Abandoned Frontier


 

I love it when Krauthammer writes about space:

But look up from your BlackBerry one night. That is the moon. On it are exactly 12 sets of human footprints — untouched, unchanged, abandoned. For the first time in history, the moon is not just a mystery and a muse, but a nightly rebuke. A vigorous young president once summoned us to this new frontier, calling the voyage “the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.” We came, we saw, we retreated.

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The Abandoned Frontier

  1. Don't worry, the free market will get us back to the moon. Yup, any day now that free market pixie dust and those tax cuts for the rich will sprout moonbases.

  2. That's a great piece by Krauthammer. Thanks for the link.

    • Are you employed by Maclean's?

      • No. I just liked the Krauthammer piece. Didn't you?

        • I didn't read it. From the bit excerpted here, I won't bother either. It's Krauthammer, for God's sakes. I'm sure I've got laundry to do.

        • What part did you like best; his belief that we should go back to the moon simply because it'll give him a major woody or his lament that the US won't be able to chant 'we're #1' as a passenger on another nation's rocket?

          • It's a real shame that the US has allowed their space program to deteriorate to such an extent in the last few decades because of inefficiency and misguided priorities (the shuttle program and the ISS). Their main focus should be figuring out new ways to get payloads to orbit cheaply . The shuttle program turned out to be a costly boondoggle. I liked Krauthammer's piece because he reminds his American audience just how far the USA has fallen on this file from the lofty heights of 1969. Returning to the moon should be a major priority. There is only so much that can be done on the ISS.

          • I wonder if robotic/probe technology ought to be the major thrust, as opposed to getting humans into space. I'm a lot more cranked up by the data coming from Mars, as one example, than the thought of more people tromping about on the moon (without taking away from the greater point that the USA has rather let its space ambitions stall).

          • I think the focus has generally shifted to robot landers rather than manned missions. It's much cheaper to send robots than to try to keep meatbags like us alive in space. Also, a moonbase would be the logical first step before any major Mars missions (though we should continue to send landers to Mars).

          • Their main focus should be figuring out new ways to get payloads to orbit cheaply .

            No, that is the free market's job. The government's job is to push open the frontier and the research being conducted on the ISS is an integral part of doing just that. No company is going to spend billions to determine if ants can be trained to sort tiny screws in space when there's no profit in it for them. We've already been to the moon and returning there can be done with off the shelf technology. The major part of the government's job in that respect is more or less done.

          • returning there can be done with off the shelf technology.

            Unfortunately, it can't. Not by a long shot.

          • That's an interesting cost-of-living question: would it cost more to launch an Apollo mission today than it did in 1969, adjusting for inflation?

          • Good question. The technology we have today might reduce the costs of rebuilding Saturn rockets using the 1969 design. On the other hand, inflation-adjusted costs associated with megaprojects seem to have escalated over the past few decades.

            From wiki: The costs associated with the Apollo spacecraft and Saturn rockets amounted to about $83 billion [Apollo spacecraft: $28 billion (Command/Service Module: $17 billion; Lunar Module: $11-billion), Saturn I, Saturn IB, Saturn V launch vehicles: about $46 billion] in 2005 dollars.

          • Whoa. $83 billion. While I appreciate your points about space exploration, the temptation to spend a sum like that on, say, primary education is pretty strong.

          • "Unfortunately, it can't."

            Huh?

          • We don't have "off the shelf" technology that can take us to the moon.

          • Since when. Anybody with the knowledge and money could build a rocket that would take them to the moon. Every single component to do so is not only readily available, but cheaper and far more efficient than what was available 4 decades ago.

          • Anybody with the knowledge and money could build a rocket that would take them to the moon.

            Sorry Robert, but you obviously don't grasp the staggering complexity and cost of a manned lunar mission.

          • Anybody with the knowledge and money could build a rocket that would take them to the moon.

            Sorry Robert, but you obviously don't understand the staggering complexity and cost of a manned lunar mission.

          • He didn't advocate torturing anyone. That's quite the step up for him.

          • He's probably thinking that a moon base would make a mighty fine Guantanamo. In space, no one can hear your scream, after all.

  3. "the moon is not just a mystery and a muse, but a nightly rebuke"

    The silver shadows creep across the grass;
    The stars that lately shed their pinprick beams
    Recede before the mistress who'll surpass
    Their mystery, and summon softer dreams.
    O Moon, rise high tonight, clear of the clouds;
    O Moon, now flex your power in the round,
    And piece the spiritual shade that shrouds
    Poor Krauthammer, so thick and so profound.
    He ponders pressing footprints in your dust,
    As if he might the will of fate command;
    He fondly dreams of scraping off the rust
    That lately eats away at freedom's land;
    Alas, as you yourself must pay your debts,
    So too the US rose, and glowed, and sets.

  4. Re: Krauthammer's: "We came, we saw, we retreated."

    Ironically, we can thank Richard Nixon for this since his administration cut NASA's budget and thereby shortened the Apollo program.

  5. If only he’d stick to writing about the moon– the planet it revolves around would be a fair sight better off.

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