― Mel Brooks
No. There is an argument to be made that in the absence of drama occurring up there (space, theistic mythology, etc), people will invent and create drama down here (Earth), except with more dire consequences. Considering alternative timelines, therefore, there is a decent chance that there is a real, though indirect, human cost associated with choosing not to explore. What is the human cost, for example, of boys and girls not being inspired by daring feats accomplished at the edge of possible? Nobody is quantifying it, no research grants are given to study it, but I have almost no doubt that it exists.
In this book humans have at some point invented time travel. Subsequently an organization ('Eternity') is born out of it to regulate and protect humans accross centuries. But, because of it, Humanity never left Earth. The main protagonist stops time travel from being invented and kickstarts the nuclear age, this is supposed to start robots and later Foundation.
At least that's what I remember, I tried to summarize without reading Wikipedia for a change.
The key of the story is that either humans invent space travel and have a chance to thrive, or stay on Earth and are guaranteed to become extinct.
The keepers keep disasters from happening, thus humanity is kept in a generally mediocre state, no major struggles, etc.
By the time humanity, with no struggle, reach the ability to travel the stars, the stars are occupied, we're late.
The future eternity (eternity itself has a timeline independent of the original) realized this and decided to let humans fend for themselves and thus fix the long term problem.
"is it good for humankind to be ruled by an invisible technocratic elite?"
"are we unknowingly increasing long-term existential risk by concerning ourselves first with short-term safety?"
I think in some defintion I could argue either side of the Eternity.
Consider why sports exist. They are also a (cultural) byproduct of military endeavors. Sports bring us a variety of benefits, including things like giving people meaning, making them bond with each other, helping maintain a healthy lifestyle, and lifting many kids out of poverty. There is a role for something like that---for exploring places like space. Consider also human (primate) psychology and how team sports can satisfy urges we would otherwise want to unleash in more destructive way on each other---and do so in a positive, constructive way. I wouldn't be surprised that in an alternative timeline where sports don't exist our newspapers would be filled with a lot more grizzly headlines on a daily basis. Consider now that we're living in an alternative/dystopian timeline where one of the most fascinating sports (exploring the unknown) had mysteriously nearly disappeared. Purely as sport, space exploration would have been of a sufficient benefit to pursue in my opinion. But of course, it is a lot more than just a sport.
One actually could argue such. Being able to permanently and self-sustainably inhabit space means being able to reduce the strain on Earth's own resources, thus reducing the need to compete for said resources (said need being a major contributor to plenty of wars, both current and historical).
It's a stretch, sure, but it's still an argument one could make.
Going to into space and making something of yourself rather than grabbing a gun and killing each other like rats in a cage?
I think it's something that came out of industrialization in the late 19th century. Look at the famous football clubs, they're all founded late 1800s/early 1900s, in cities. Basically guys who needed some entertainment on the one day off that many countries had instituted by then.
People deciding to sit at home, live sensibly, and peacefully for a chance?
Not a good argument, since all of the examples of what you call "drama up there" that have ever existed have simply been projections of "drama down here", rather than alternatives to such drama.
Society has accomplished a ton due to the space race. Furthermore, just because we haven't put humans anywhere doesn't mean we haven't explored anywhere. We have a robot on Mars, had a robot on Venus. We have ships nearing the end of our solar system and sending data back. We have learned tons, and keep learning tons, and have used all of this knowledge to make life on earth better. GPS alone is worth it, let alone everything we've done.
Putting more men on the moon does us absolutely no good besides letting a country puff its chest out more.
Water and food are indeed trickier; the Moon does have some trace amounts of carbon (deposited by solar wind) and hydrogen (at the poles), but extracting enough of those elements to sustainably support living there is unlikely unless we make some major discoveries or figure out a more reasonable way to import such things (one idea is to capture hydrocarbon-rich asteroids and park them in lunar orbit, but that ain't exactly my idea of "reasonable").
As for profitability, the Moon happens to be rich in silicon; a far-fetched idea might be to build a whole bunch of lunar microchip factories. The Moon is also full of raw materials in general, and getting them into space (e.g. to build spacecraft or to import to Earth) is a lot easier than getting such material into space from Earth. This makes the Moon a potentially-valuable staging point for missions to Mars and elsewhere.
If there is indeed water (or some other hydrogen source) on the Moon in sufficiently-abundant quantities, lunar fuel depots would actually be feasible; there's been quite a bit of work in recent decades around using silanes (hydrosilicons) as a useful fuel, replacing the need for hydrocarbon-based fuels (or using hydrogen directly).
You're correct in that large, (comparatively) easily mined water ice deposits are located in permanent shadow at the poles, but there is likely water available in most locations, if you dig down below the surface.
Also, why is a metaphor needed here?
A metaphor compares two things similar from a certain aspect -- they could still differ in every other way. One could use a metaphor from agriculture to clarify their point on a political issue, for example.
>Also, why is a metaphor needed here?
For the same reasons that it's needed elsewhere. To get the point across in a simplified way, because people can understand a phenomenon better in one domain than they can in another (aka "domain dependence").
When I said "the metaphor compares two similar thing" I didn't mean metaphors in general, I meant your metaphor specifically compares two things that are similar. The relevant differences between NY and the moon do not exist between NY and Illinois.
> For the same reasons that it's needed elsewhere
Metaphors are often of dubious value. They can be used to clarify unfamiliar situation, where the bounds of the metaphor are clear; or, perhaps as in this case, encourage similar thinking about two related concepts.
But you provided a metaphor here without providing clarity on what the point was. When I think "why would I build a city in Illinois, when there already one in NY", none of the answers I come up with apply equally to the moon. e.g. land is cheaper/convenient (not on the moon), the scenery is better (maybe true, but not to outweight other more pressing concerns) etc.
While that certainly would be awesome, I'm pretty sure you meant "solar system".
We actually have more than that; in addition to Curiosity, the Opportunity rover is (by some miracle) still in active service and fully operational.
I feel a lot of the return on spacefaring is as simple as making groups of humans, a long way from each other, work together because of shared interests.
Not really. Solving the propulsion and energy generation problems would have done that, but not merely sending a bunch more people to a space rock for a few days using chemical rockets. EMDrive is interesting if it works, but significantly more efficient energy generation still eludes us.
Which of these do you think would generate outrage? Axing the moonshot, or defunding an experimental thruster research program?
Doing cool stuff might not be the most efficient way to do research, but it's a hell of a lot better than nothing, and it inspires generations.
I mean, honestly I'm not so sure what the huge rush is to expand to another planet when we're having so much trouble with just one.
It's not that I don't want to see us move past the boundaries of this planet, but on the list of things I'd want to see before my time is up on this planet, there's plenty of things like the end of world hunger or bringing the poorest people in the world to an infinitely better standard of living that come way before us living on another planet.
In the very long term moving to another planet is a way to stave off the end of our species (amongst other positive things), but in the very very long term the odds are we won't live on indefinitely, I think improving the lives of those who come before now and that time is probably the most worthwhile thing we can do.
Some stuff is actually awesome and worthwhile (and cost effective) like the robotic exploration of the solar system, and a little supports SpaceX which uses the money to develop technology that enables cheap access to space.
But I think most of that money is a jobs program for high paying jobs congressmen want in their districts which help the economy tactically but might not be the best use of those people's effort. But, the provided jobs also support a skills base and supplier ecosystem that would allow shifting some of those people and parts suppliers into doing something more necessary to the government like defense stuff. The thinking is that if that money goes away and those people get laid off, they'll stop working in aerospace, move into finance or whatever, college kids will not study space engineering because they'll hear there are no jobs, and defense contractors will have a harder time hiring the next time a big defense program is funded.
SpaceX is doing what you feel NASA should have been doing in the 80s with 3 decades between then and now, with all that comes with 3 decades.
But you could be a woman. And it's more of a 2D scale.
That said, whatever you point to, you can always find greater tragedies. I don't think such comparisons would help much here.
If I'm shot, that hurts.
That these are different in scale and scope doesn't mean they can't share a (vague) label. Tragedy exists at many scales.
Apart from the first line, this quote doesn't apply here and frankly makes no sense. Yes, English may borrow (or steal forcefully, apparently) words from other languages, but that does not mean the language internally must not have its purity defended. Devaluating terms to have little meaning (awesome, terrible, fantastic) is not my idea of progress.
(Foreign languages on the other hand are a good source of new words which can be introduced, already inflated, into English.)
Awesome, terrible, and fantastic all have meaning. They have as much meaning as they ever have. They have different meanings, and the broadening and shifting of their meanings has allowed people to communicate with more effectiveness and nuance.
There is no inherent value in words having "strong" (as in forceful) meanings. If people do not use them that way it's because they do not need them that way.
King Arthur: "A scratch?! Your arm's off!"
- Jump on train tracks (when it's not your job) to save a complete stranger even though it might leave your own family without you: HERO!
- Fireman runs into burning building to save people? HERO! (Even though that is the job description).
See also 'badass' for special forces and 'brainy' for scientists. It's not wrong to describe them that way even if it's all in a day's work.
Those two things are not mutually exclusive. Saying "we make aggressive interior attacks and perform primary search" is fine, but you don't do that when you see signs of imminent structural collapse on arrival. All firefighters take risk, but it's a calculated risk. Now granted, the line is somewhat subjective and different departments do have different policies but still... I don't know of any department that preaches the idea that you display no judgment at all, and wantonly waste your life.
If you're in a town of 3,000 people, there are a very limited number of potential firemen you can have. If they die rescuing someone, dozens of others die because there is no one else to rescue them.
Around harvest time it was expected that the neighbors would have their tractors standing by hooked up with discs to till the crops and build fire lines.
Dedicated fire fighters aren't the only people who can put out fires.
We went to the moon. We were temporarily a space-fearing species.
Shit went down on earth.
We're now back to terrestrial only.
Hopefully one day we will be a multi-planetary species.
"Hope you got a backup plan"
-- Giant Space Rock
To me, it just seemed like landing on the moon was more important than what we could learn from it, or possibly use it as a remote scientific base or something else. It was the idea of simply getting their that seemed the most important. I never thought we had any long term plans for the moon, so it would seem we've already accomplished what we wanted to do.
Also I agree that asteroid mining needs to happen however the moon would serve as a very good base of operations for such industries.
> Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, died Monday, Jan. 16, surrounded by his family.
* the last of the men who walked on the Moon has died
* the last man who stepped onto the Moon for the first time, died
* the last man who ever stood on the Moon before stepping off, died
Perhaps those last 2 refer to the same person, perhaps not.
Why? Go read some more about Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, who was on the Moon with Gene Cernan. Having a geologist on the moon enabled spotting things, making judgements, and then following up on the spot. Sending a scientist who can also pilot (and Schmitt was damned good) rather than only having military pilots changes the game as far as the science return.
I wonder if with AI advances though, we can have robots that are 'damned good' pilots that can also spot things.
(The judgements would need to be made back on Earth though, admittedly, with speed of light lag as an annoying factor.)
As for me knowing about this... I have more perspective than most people, but it all comes from listening to scientists, who are the ones with knowledge of the science gains. I wish they had a bit more voice than they do.
At its peak NASA used 4.41% of the federal budget. In 2014 it was 0.5%. We can afford to do more and as we know from experience the payoff is worth the expense.
The technology to launch someone skyward is basically identical, the technology in the craft, while benefited by more modern computing (as well as enhanced material science), also largely identical.
I really don't get your statement. The Saturn V is the most powerful machine humans have ever made. No rocket has since come anywhere close to it, despite the benefits of modern computing and material science. The Space Shuttle program killed 14 astronauts, in spite of the more modern technology and the huge steps that were taken in the decades prior.
The Saturn V sent 24 men to the moon, and launched America's first space station with technology built by people using slide rules. 13 successful launches without casualties - indeed it handled situations like lightning strikes and violent POGO oscillations. It's the only machine that has ever taken humans past LEO.
Saturn V remains the tallest, heaviest, and most powerful (highest total impulse) rocket ever brought to operational status, and holds records for the heaviest payload launched and largest payload capacity to low Earth orbit (LEO) of 140,000 kg (310,000 lb).
To date, the Saturn V remains the only launch vehicle to launch missions to carry humans beyond low Earth orbit. A total of 15 flight-capable vehicles were built, but only 13 were flown. An additional three vehicles were built for ground testing purposes. 
So why aren't we just building more of these damn things and iterating on the (proven!) design? While we're at it let's un-mothball the SR-71 and those wicked Buick start carts! 
Comparing 13 missions to 135 missions, and trying to extrapolate from those 13 missions is disingenuous (slide rules or not) - the fact is Apollo 1 did kill 3 people (on the ground) - and almost killed another 3 in Apollo 13.
As much as I disliked the STS - it only had one launch failure (Challenger), due to operating the launcher out of design parameters (which was quite arguably a faulty design) - it had one other failure (Columbia) on reentry which is in some ways is similar to the defect that hit Apollo 13, it was basically a manufacturing defect.
The reason I say technology has not greatly changed is to compare it Orion Spacecraft - which is essentially a modern implementation of the Apollo CSM. Same technology, but with better and more advanced materials. This is no different than comparing a 1929 Model A to a 1969 Ford Galaxie 500.
If the political will was present, we could build another Saturn V Class launcher today - we choose not to, but even the replacements for the Shuttle (SLS and Constellation) have proposed reusing literal technology from the Saturn Era.
Arguably not a launch, as it was a rehearsal.
He used to walk into my sister-in-law's restaurant when I was a kid. Great person and welcoming smile. Sad to see the pioneer disapear.
When we walked out, my father told me "that was greatness, don't forget it." I didn't understand it till years later.
I think there's something surreal about the astronauts, not an ounce of negativity out of them toward other humans. Wish I had talked to him then.
I'd also recommend "In the Shadow of the Moon" , which focuses on the more recent recollections of the Apollo astronauts, including Gene Cernan.
The command module for Apollo 10 was named "Charlie Brown"  who continuously had the football yanked before he could kick it. A little joke from NASA, I think.
If 11.2 mph sounds slow to you, he also set another speed record: highest speed attained by any manned vehicle, 24,791 mph or almost 40,000 kilometers per hour, on Apollo 10's return to Earth.
Also, prior missions didn't go more than 3 miles from the LM, but Cernan pushed his to go five miles away. This meant that if the rover failed - remember, this thing had driven on the moon exactly twice at this point - he would have had to walk five miles to the LM in a bulky, heavy spacesuit, in unforgiving conditions on the surface of the Moon.
Does a moon base help? And if it's mining for minerals, is it economically a viable plan?
The science is mostly geology and astronomy --- the moon is a great place for observatories --- but mainly it's engineering and life sciences; the moon makes a great place to learn about how to solve the kinds of problems that you have to solve when living somewhere like the moon. Which sounds tautological, but it's all stuff that we have no idea about and the moon, being on Earth's doorstep, as a good place to start.
Much further down the line, mineral exploitation. Trying to establish a proper presence in space by hauling everything out of Earth's gravity well is ludicrous, and the moon's the obvious place to go for resources. But that's much further down the line; we need to have people living on a regular basis on the moon first. Even learning how to do simple things like refining metal there is going to be hard. (See above, under 'engineering'.)
The idea is that if we plan to put humans at X, we start sending cargo drops to X every few months via the slow but cheap ITN.
After those start arriving at X, we send the humans. The ship for transporting humans only has to carry enough supplies to keep the humans alive during the trip. It doesn't have to carry supplies to keep them alive at X, or equipment to set up their base or colony at X, because those have already been sent via the ITN. The ship for the humans can be optimized for one task: moving humans fast.
Setting all of the above up working with materials from the Moon and from bases on the Moon will be a lot less expensive than doing it from Earth. First, the gravity difference makes it a lot cheaper to get something from the Moon to an arbitrary point (like one of those Lagrange points) than it does to get it from Earth to there.
Second, because the Moon has no significant atmosphere you can do things on the surface that would not work well on Earth. For instance, on the Moon you could build a long linear electric motor on the surface and use it to speed a vehicle up to escape velocity. Try that on the surface of the Earth and your vehicle is going to get destroyed by friction in the atmosphere.
The Moon is the key to long term human utilization of the rest of the solar system.
The Earth is very small, and the universe is very large. Eventually, we're going to want to use more than an earth-sized corner of it. Why not start now?
Also has it actually been confirmed that He-3 can be found in abundance on the Moon? I think it's assumed with good reason, but not necessarily confirmed.
There's your incentive.
There will be grubby, workaday incentives galore, all the usual politics, power, and pecuniae. "Because it's there" just grabs my fancy somewhat tighter.
"What is the real meaning of seeing this picture? I've always said, I've said for a long time, I still believe it, it's going to be -- well it's almost fifty now, but fifty or a hundred years in the history of mankind before we look back and really understand the meaning of Apollo. Really understand what humankind had done when we left, when we truly left this planet, we're able to call another body in this universe our home. We did it way too early considering what we're doing now in space. It's almost as if JFK reached out into the twenty-first century where we are today, grabbed hold of a decade of time, slipped it neatly into the (nineteen) sixties and seventies (and) called it Apollo."
Gene Cernan had poetry in his soul.
However if the costs can be cut by a couple of orders of magnitude, that picture changes considerably. All of a sudden the scientific payback in terms of geological insight into the history of the Earth/Moon system or resource extraction such as water and fuel become a lot more attractive. With SpaceX and Blue Origin working hard to do exactly that, it's quite possible we might return to the moon in a decade or two.
It's a shame to see the mantle of the last man on the moon not be passed on before he passed on himself.
"We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return with peace and hope for all mankind."
Amen. Some day.
That quote stood out to me.
During a recent winter storm, we started re-watching 'From The Earth To The Moon', the HBO mini-series on the Apollo program. Highly recommended.
Gene seemed like a really fun guy to go to the moon with.
Nautical miles are used in navigation to account for the extra distance created by the earth's curvature. Why would it be used for distance measurements in space?
And, NASA made a typo.
> He went into private business and served as television
> commentator for early fights of the space shuttle.