However, the crucial difference is the risk tolerance, and here we have much higher requirements than we had, and that is what adds months and years to development and billions to costs. Some lunar lander could be created in time - we have variety of technologies, and people working on similar things. But to have it reliable so we'd be happy to send humans to the surface in 5 years - that requires a crash program with significant budget right now.
The only missing piece is that it would be nice to use cryogenic fuels but these outgas over time so long duration is not a thing. Solving the on-orbit refueling puzzle would make this sort of endeavor pretty straight forward from a planning standpoint.
For example the stage of the Apollo mission that took it from Earth orbit to a trajectory that would intercept the Moon was https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S-IVB, which nearly twice the maximum payload of the Falcon Heavy. Do you really want to trust this step to a rocket that has to be assembled and fueled in space?
There's a chicken and egg problem at work here. The robotics technology to do orbital construction exists, and in fact has existed for a couple of decades now. Nobody wants to fly it because the older technology - which amounts to “spend lots of money to fit your payload in a single rocket fairing” - has worked so far. The James Web Space Telescope will have a 6.5 meter primary optic. It will require something like 70 separate deployments in order to deploy the primary optic and the sunshield.
At some point, custom designing hundreds of deployment mechanisms for every single mission becomes both more expensive and higher risk than just flying a damned robot arm. As does “just build a bigger rocket”.
FYI, robotic refueling on orbit has been demonstrated a couple of times (Orbital Express and RRM).
Do you know how many times two objects were successfully docked in space? And how many times they did that automatically?
> Also that imposes very severe constraints on size and shape of those pieces.
Objection to "very severe". You can have your standard fairing size full, with diameter about 5 meters and length of 15 meters or so. That's quite comparable to 6.6 meters diameter of Saturn-V payloads, is more than LEM without legs. What shape constraints you have in mind?
> This is not technology that we have demonstrated in a meaningful way.
We didn't demonstrate orbital docking technology?
> nearly twice the maximum payload of the Falcon Heavy.
But it was launched with one rocket altogether. Nobody prevents us from launching the booster stage separately and dock it with spacecraft on LEO. More, nobody prevents us from sending analog of Apollo spacecraft and LEM to the moon separately - with their own booster each. Those variants were considered in 1960-s and rejected purely on the basis of time to develop the technology - something which we have today well developed.
> Do you really want to trust this step to a rocket that has to be assembled and fueled in space?
Let me remind you that Gemini and Atlas-Agena stage docked and changed orbits in mid-1960-s, confirming that it at least can be done with then-current technology. Today ISS has a history of pushes by Shuttle, of refuels with Progress and ATV ships and I'm not sure what prevents using similar - though not identical - approach with translunar injections.
You are right that it would be possible to send the Apollo spacecraft and LEM to the Moon separately, to join there, but the Apollo spacecraft is 2/3 of that mass. The rocket to do the Apollo spacecraft by itself exceeds the specs that we can launch on Falcon Heavy.
It would be more doable to build a multi-stage rocket in space and fire that. So one launch for Apollo+LEM, 2 launches for 2 booster stages. Put the three together and off you go. Of course this requires designing a new rocket, designed to be carried into space, to dock robotically, and then launch. Which is doable. But also isn't current tech.
If we're going to build a new rocket ANYWAYS for this mission, I think it makes more sense to cross fingers and wait for SpaceX's SuperHeavy + Starship configuration.
Update: While looking for current news on that, I found that SpaceX building SuperHeavy rockets in two locations. And I found that, today, they reported raising a billion dollars in funding for their development efforts. Which I submitted as a news article because I think that it is of interest separately from the NASA discussion.
I agree that we don't have some components to take "off the shelf" - lunar module being the primary example. But "to put a payload on a rocket which never flew on this rocket" is not the "not current tech" - and since we have docking components, including robotic docking, existing elsewhere, I would argue that it won't require any significant time (like 5 years) to get ready.
The point is that we don't need to build rockets to go to the Moon - we have them already. We currently don't have lunar module - and we'll need to create that. Also we didn't do some specific integration of existing technologies - space boosters, docking etc. - but making that is way easier than making a new rocket.
> The component that I laid out is larger in both diameter and length than the standard fairing size you list.
It's not necessary to re-create 3rd stage of Saturn-V to fly to the Moon. Today there are better ways - using the existing launchers.
…if all goes well. If you have to pause countdown of a rocket to check some part, it is “less ideal” if that rocket is in space.
Also, if you have to cancel countdown to try again at a later date, how do you get unstable fuel such as liquid oxygen out? Venting it may seem easy, but it changes the rocket’s trajectory. Even more problematic: how do you get new fuel in, so that you can retry a launch?
Yes. Isn’t that the next logical step to developing space—the ability to build structures in orbit?
That aside I wouldn’t object to building a Saturn V either.
I think you're totally right about this. If we want to really get going on living in space or even just doing certain manufacturing processes in space, it seems like we're going to need to start building real structures in orbit rather than fitting everything into a launch or two.
My guess is that, if it doesn't happen now, we'll start doing construction in orbit if/when we start mining the Moon or asteroids. Not having to haul equipment up Earth's gravity well and producing fuel in situ seems like it will allow small launches on reusable "tugs" to become the most efficient means of getting things into space.
Its not risk tolerance, its managment.
for comparison, Military budget increased from $586B in 2015 to $713B in 2019
You are right about tarp however, that was idiotic and totally unneeded.
Is English a language you rarely use?
Essentially, it amounts to socialism for huge corporations, but not for little humans. "Too big to fail" for them - "too poor to survive" for us.
First, you're ignoring the basic difference between expenditure and investment. When the government spends a dollar on healthcare, that may be an "investment" in an abstract sense, but the government is not directly getting that money back. In budgetary terms, it's expenditure.
That is not true for the financial bailouts. There, the government didn't just spend money, it got assets in return. With respect to TARP, the government got most of that $400 billion back. It made a nominal profit, and adjusted for inflation maybe you can book it as a $24 billion loss: https://www.nationalreview.com/2015/01/overselling-tarp-myth....
With respect to quantitative easing, what you're referring to is the Fed's SOMA operations. The Fed bought $3.5 trillion in assets (securities and treasuries--i.e. the right to be repaid money in the future). It is getting that money back as those assets mature. Right now, the Fed has about a $67 billion unrealized loss on those assets: https://seekingalpha.com/article/4225750-deterioration-fed-b.... That means the fair market value of the assets is $67 billion less than the Fed's purchase price.
So the actual cost of those programs is the $24 billion and $67 billion losses, not the $400 billion and $4 trillion it cost to purchase those assets. To put those numbers into perspective, the government has a portfolio of $1.5 trillion in student loans. Losses on that portfolio will cost the government $180 billion over the next decade: https://www.forbes.com/sites/prestoncooper2/2017/08/04/why-g....
Second, you dramatically underestimate the cost of those social welfare programs. If we scaled up our welfare system to Swedish levels, that would cost an additional $2.2 trillion more per year. That is five times the upfront cost of TARP ($400 billion), and 100 times the actual cost of TARP ($24 billion). Welfare is expensive. Even if universal healthcare reduces our healthcare spending to German or French levels, we're talking 10-12% of GDP, or $2.3 trillion: https://data.oecd.org/healthres/health-spending.htm. Unlike the financial bailouts, that's (1) money you have to spend every year, not just once-in-a-generation; and (2) money you're not getting back.
Put it another way. Together, all levels of government already spend about $7.4 trillion per year. $400 billion--what the government spent on a once-in-a-generation bailout, was just 6% of what it spends every year. $24 billion--the actual long-term cost of TARP, is just 0.3% of government's yearly expenditures.
 Real-world example. Say in 2008 my parents house was worth $500k. The housing market collapses, and suddenly my parents need to sell their house. If they put it on the market, it would go at fire sale, say $200k. I bail them out, buying it for $450k. What was my cost of bailing them out? It wasn't $450k. It was $450k minus whatever I can ultimately sell the asset for. Say the market never recovers and I sell the house for $400k, 20% below the peak. The "bail out" cost me $50k, not $450k.
 Swedish government spending is 49% of GDP, versus 38% of GDP in the U.S. https://data.oecd.org/gga/general-government-spending.htm. That 11% of GDP difference amounts to about $2.2 trillion.
The Fed printed trillions in new money and pumped it into asset classes, mainly the housing market, through a middleman--Wall St.
Even if you ignore everything wrong there and just say "they eventually got some of their money back" like you did, it still matters that they printed (ie effectively stole in real terms) 4 trillion dollars that they didn't own.
If you or I went out and printed US currency and bought securities with them--we'd go to jail. They wouldn't care that we made money on our investments.
Most of the profits from QE appear to have gone to Wall St (1), whom made 650M from it.
If the Fed is going to print trillions, at least buy healthcare or space exploration with it. Stop this circle jerk nonsense with Wall St.
Printing money might be bad policy, but how is it stealing? The U.S. has the sovereign (and Constitutional) right to create money. (Also, the Fed's job is literally to create money to meet economic targets. SOMA was unprecedented not because the government "printed money" but because it bought an asset class it previously did not buy--securities.)
> If the Fed is going to print trillions, at least buy healthcare or space exploration with it. Stop this circle jerk nonsense with Wall St.
This is again ignoring the fundamental difference between printing money for consumption, and printing money to buy assets. If the fed prints money to buy healthcare or space exploration, it doesn't get that money back. If it prints money to buy assets, it gets almost all of that money back.
This is not an esoteric or meaningless distinction. The federal government originated $1.4 trillion in student loans since 2009. Would you call that a $1.4-trillion "free college" program? Of course not. People have to pay the money back, and the government will get most of their money back. The actual cost will be about $180 billion. By contrast, the government had spent that $1.4 trillion on healthcare or space exploration, it would have actually cost $1.4 trillion.
You can argue about the merits of bailing out Wall Street. But what you can't argue about is what it actually cost the government about $100 billion, not $4 trillion.
Also, I wouldn't say it's clear that healthcare or space exploration aren't assets, even in the strict financial sense you mean. What's the expected taxable value of a citizen? If you invest less than that on keeping them alive, then their life is an appreciating financial asset. Similar logic applies to space programs, if the space capacity you fail to build out ends up being something you buy from another country (as in the case of US astronauts riding to the ISS on Soyuz). And of course this is the shallowest of analyses - there are substantial additional hidden (financial) costs to letting your citizens die, or being dependent on foreign powers for space infrastructure.
The thing I find puzzling, and possibly telling, is that conventional wisdom tells us inflation ought to have spiked after the 2008 bailout. Instead it plummeted, indeed briefly became deflation. This tells us that money became very scarce. Why, after so much money was printed and handed out? Because it all went to the banks, and they essentially pocketed it and didn't lend it out. So what exactly was the purpose of doing that?
The right is actually with congress to have the power to do this. The Fed doesn't have any constitutional authority to do this.
Money gets its value from real goods and services. So when someone prints new money it steals that value from those who created it. The Fed likes to claim they create value, but they are just money changers.
What does healthcare do for people of working age? It allows us to work more and more effectively, to make more money and either consume fewer subsides or to pay more taxes.
Good healthcare means more and more effective workers.
Now, I think that universal healthcare certainly provides benefits that make it worthwhile, just as the bailout provided financial stability benefits that made it worthwhile. But those things are in the benefits column. I'm talking about how much an accountant would say that a government program cost.
From an MMT perspective, the government (any one using it's own fiat currency) creates and destroys money rather than spending and receiving it, even if it pretends otherwise in an outdated effort to ape a commodity-/representational-money system.
So, viewed that way, it really has no need for such an asset.
> Now, it is true that money spent on universal healthcare isn't being lit on fire--the government and the people gain some benefit from it. But that's in the benefit column, not the cost column.
In the cost column is a reduction in private healthcare costs exceeding the I crease in public expenditures, as shown in every analysis (including ones from hostile sources), so if the government raised taxes so as to leave private taxpayers in the same position as they would be in with status quo policy, net government outflow would be reduced without any adverse impact on taxpayers.
Even under that view, you can still see a difference. Spending $1 trillion in healthcare requires the government to create $1 trillion permanently. Spending it to purchase mortgage backed securities that are eventually sold or mature requires creating that $1 trillion only temporarily (while the asset is held).
Buffett's investment during the time were an example of what the private sector can do (and my opinion, as a shareholder of brk.b, who is otherwise not a finance expert, is that the man wasn't nearly greedy enough when others were fearful, but even berkshire doesn't have unlimited reserves.)
I think the big mistake of '08 was 'bailout with insufficient regulation' - if the government does need to do a bailout, that bailout should come with rules to prevent that sort of thing from happening again, and I think that there wasn't enough of that rule making after the '08 crisis.
I was just making a more general statement about the role of government in response to what I thought you were implying by pointing out the differences between how an investment in a failing company (that then doesn't fail because of your money) is accounted for differently than an investment in another person's health or education, even if the latter may net more.
In general I think the government should mostly stick with things that the private sector can't do well. The private sector is really bad at investing in things like healthcare and education for the poor that make people go from being net consumers to net producers. Government should largely focus on the things that government can do effectively but that the private sector can't do effectively. Usually this means providing services to the indigent and providing regulation (not direct ownership) of markets. But there are obviously exceptions, and I agree that '08 was one of those, it was a market failure that was big enough that the private sector couldn't really handle it, and I think direct interference was a net positive, even if I think the government could have done a much better job of it.
"On December 19, 2014, the U.S. Treasury sold its remaining holdings of Ally Financial, essentially ending the program. TARP recovered funds totalling $441.7 billion from $426.4 billion invested, earning a $15.3 billion profit or an annualized rate of return of 0.6% and perhaps a loss when adjusted for inflation"
And it doesn't change the fact that TARP didn't cost any real money.
Investment into NASA or infrastructure or education also has a return on investment, but anytime TARP is mentioned in comparison someone will bring up its ROI.
I know the answer is that the ROI for TARP is so much easier to quantify, but I still want to make the distinction that it's not unique for a government program.
Seriously. The ROI of solving the homeless and mental health crisis to the point where most of them can get back to work and become tax paying citizens is probably pretty good too.
Yes, I meet very many people who take a variety of anti-psychotic meds.
> They go through the rest of their life barely able to grasp new concepts with a drug specifically designed to mute that part of their brain,
This describes a few of them, but not most of them.
This assumes zero value of having the Treasury backstop a business. There is always a cost associated with making an investment (which TARP was). In a sense, the entire discipline of pricing risk is based on calculating this cost.
Whether or not the chosen risk eventually paid off is a different question than the whether the risk had a cost to begin with.
* - I was a proponent of TARP as one of the better risks on the table.
If national defense is such a great deal, why does the government have to fund it?
If FDIC insurance is such a great deal, why does the government have to fund it?
Why does the government have to do anything? Why don't private investors jump in and do everything?
The answer is: because there are certain things that are only a great deal if they are done by everyone all at once. Left to individual players, sometimes the incentives align like running from a bear--I don't have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun one other person.
This is why we have government at all. Humanity was not handed a government, we invented it to solve problems that could not solved by piecemeal individual action.
And for TARP, a reminder that it came after Lehman failed and money markets broke the buck. The first House vote on TARP failed. It was adopted at the last minute, only as it became clear that it was necessary.
TARP was not a benign thing but instead we should make sure this never happens again.
If the entire highway system increases GDP at least $250 billion (1.25% of GDP) then highways are profitable.
Building pubic-use roads without government planning, permitting, and eminent domain is frankly not going to scale, aside from the nightmare of how all the different owners of these roads would go about rent-seeking.
Not that I dispute what you say, but I don't buy it hook-line-and-sinker.
Though there are companies seriously considering mining asteroids, they're supposedly cheaper than the Moon because they have no appreciable gravity.
If you consider long-term, we should be pouring everything we have into figuring out space colonization and travel, but I also just want to live in The Culture already, so I'm biased.
Then I realise I'm happy to have been born at all, getting to appreciate the universe for 39 years (next Thursday) was a good deal.
To experience daily beautiful music like Queen, it's truly amazing what we have and if it is all random how much more beautiful is it that this all came from chaos? Maybe our chaos that is politics/divisions might work itself out into something more beautiful as we lift ourselves up and move into the universe. It's inevitable that life on earth will end someday, entropy and all. I'm hoping mankind doesn't. I'm hoping we figure out how to get past the great filter if we haven't already. I sure as hell hope we get past climate change, as that could be the filter and it's ever looming, even on my own children's heads.
Why do we need to "colonize space?" Show me mankind living peacefully and within its means on our enormous rock, and then I'll get excited about us spreading elsewhere.
Until then, I get the uneasy feeling that what we really want to do is shit our own bed, and instead of cleaning it up, simply spread out and start shitting in other beds.
Jeebus, I'm cranky!
Seriously, it's not like there's some intrinsic worth in all these rocks spinning around fusion reactors. To the best that we can tell, there aren't any other sapient beings around who could claim we're infringing on their sense of beauty. It's just us, the only ones possessing the spark of giving meaning to things, and a lot of dead rocks waiting to be used.
Personally, I don't think we'll stop fighting and doing stupid things, but I feel it's entirely possible that - assuming we survive the next few decades as a technological civilization - we will fix up this planet. And space habitation could be very helpful in this in multiple ways - beamed energy, geoengineering, moving some kinds of manufacturing to orbit, experience in managing ecosystems gained on running closed-loop habitats, etc.
That being said, read The Night's Dawn trilogy. The undercurrent of those books is that we settled many planets specifically due to social/racial differences that we couldn't settle on Earth, but that aren't such a problem in space. It's an interesting take on the whole mess.
Edit/to add: Maybe we'll be star trek and NOT firefly/star wars?
NASA now does more different things but in terms of human spaceflight they have basically totally mismanaged it for 60 years.
That's not a true statement, unless you're talking about non-adjusted nominal dollars (that while technically true, is somewhat misleading). In inflation adjusted terms, the current budget is less than half of what it was during the Apollo years. Expressed as a percent of the federal budget, current funding is 1/8th of what it was at its max, though that's largely a function of the growth of non-discretionary federal spending.
Well that’s easy to fact check... so how do you figure?
NASA's budget peaked in 1964–66, when it consumed roughly 4% of federal spending. The agency was building up to the first Moon landing; the Apollo program involved more than 34,000 NASA employees and 375,000 employees of industrial and university contractors.
In March 1966, NASA officials told Congress that the 1959–72 "run-out cost" of the Apollo program would be an estimated $22.718 billion. The total cost turned out to be between $20 and $25.4 billion in 1969 dollars (about $136 billion in 2007 dollars).
The costs of the Apollo spacecraft and Saturn rockets came to about $83 billion in 2005 dollars. Apollo spacecraft cost $28 billion, including the command and service module, $17 billion; lunar module, $11 billion; and launch vehicles (Saturn I, Saturn IB, Saturn V cost about $46 billion in 2005 dollars).
An economy that lives paycheck-to-paycheck will eventually lose the skills that it does not pay for every two weeks.
Also, if you need to educate 1000 people to hire the best 100, those other 900 still need decent jobs, otherwise students may choose to be educated into skills with better payoffs.
(Of course don't get me started about what we could do on Earth for this money.)
We are just very clever tool using animals, not yet a truly intelligent species. I don't think we'll truly be "intelligent" until our intelligence is able to overcome both our evolutionary legacy and game theoretic effects that emerge in our economies and societies. A true intelligence would be the master of these things. We are slaves to them.
Also, I think you'd want to build your O'Neill cylinders in one of the Langrangian positions between Earth and Moon, not Lunar orbit.
A truly intelligent species would actually be working substantively on these projects, instead of merely talking about them.
The ROI on the former is many orders of magnitude better.
Also an extinction level event happening on this planet is a certainty, so it's actually an infinite order of magnitude better to figure out how to live in space than to only focus on saving the earth.
But again, a truly intelligent species would do both.
The dinosaurs are a good example of a group of species that weren't far-sighted enough to invest in a serious space exploration and settlement program.
If we knew that a cretaceous extinction event will happen five, fifty, or five hundred years from now, it'll be orders of magnitude easier for civilization to survive on Earth, then it will be for it to survive in space.
If dinosaurs had opposable thumbs, and technology, they would have been better off bunkering down. No matter how uninhabitable some freak civilization-ending event would leave the Earth, it would still be more habitable then anywhere else in the Solar system.
It's also quite possible to do multiple things at once when you have a civilization with many members. So as I said before, a truly intelligent species would not put all its eggs in one basket. They'd work on figuring out how to colonize space at the same time as figuring out how to deflect asteroids and also handle asteroid impacts if they did happen.
When you have limited resources, you deal with a problem that's going to affect half the population of the planet in the next 20 years, as opposed to dealing with a much harder problem that might affect the entire population of the planet in a once-per-fifty-million-years lottery.
We are currently putting all of our eggs in one basket, because climate change will kill modern civilization much faster then we can move the entirety of modern civilization into a <even less hospitable off-planet environment>.
An 'intelligent' person would do all of those things - because, after all, nuclear war can start any moment, our roads and sidewalks are dangerous places, and you never know where your next meal is going to come from.
Worrying about planet-ending disasters, and establishing civilization in space is much like doing any of the things I've listed. It's not intelligent - it's a non-cost-efficient response to incredibly unlikely occurrences. Especially when there are incredibly likely occurrences, that we'd be much better off preparing for, instead.
In short, planet-ending disasters are not the only reason to develop these capabilities, and it's shortsighted and stupid to continue to destroy our environment here without taking advantage of all the resources and opportunities outside our gravity well.
If we cared about this sort of thing, we would be doing it now, as opposed to sitting on our hands, waiting for magical space unicorns to be invented.
And if SpaceX, Blue Origin and the private sector become viable players in space, then NASA might be shut down or absorbed into Space Force.
With China, EU, Japan, India, etc getting involved in space exploration, it's inevitable that space is going to be a new frontier of militarization and privatization. Space Force and the private sector are natural players in this new arena. Not sure where NASA fits in this picture.
Looks like the latest year they have for 2016, but still useful.
But at least Will Smith is still around in case the aliens invade, so i feel safer......
Follow the money.
Where do you think the next frontier is? Do you think that humanity, which has warred with itself for its entire existence, is going to stop warring with itself when it’s living in space? If so, I have a wall to sell you.
Do you not want the US to have a military presence up there?
Do you want the US to take a backseat while China and Russia build out their own military capabilities in space?
You’re like a person in the 1400s laughing at a country for building a navy.
So yes, any new military service branch is going to have overhead. But the Air Force already provides the structure and overhead for the space initiatives
The Space Force is more about formalizing (and potentially funding) this branch of the AF separately from the main budget of the AF. There will still be a little additional overhead, but not really like you're implying.
Ha ha, only a rube would believe in a grift like a wall, the smart set are over here with the guy running the Wall scam to finance his real 'insider' project, the 'Space Force' which is totally legitimate and not at all a procurement bonanza. Sure there's a treaty about the non-militarization of space but let's ignore that and pretend it's already obsolete, while we also pretend that the air force hasn't been handling our Sekrit Space Stuff just fine for decades.
I think space is cool. I have a degree in aerospace engineering because of that. But if you look at space exploration in terms of ROI it has sucked.
Things like asteroid mining, colonization. Worth trillions. No, we don't have a convenient number for what asteroid mining is worth - a better unit would be 'civilizations'?
It even could bring space dominance if that's important.
I'll leave this here:
- Water purification
- Land mine removal
- Freeze drying technology
- Fire resistant reinforcement
- Solar power
- Satellite phones
All having significant military applications, as well as public benefit.
I'd have to think that SMT was available prior to the AGC development, but I don't think it was as widely used commercially (maybe more for the military and avionics?).
All the positive aspects of America's place in the world's consciousness rest on our achievements and leadership in technology, education, and exploration. In other words, NASA.
We have a lot of black marks on our reputation, too. If we keep neglecting our proudest achievement, that's all we'll have left.
Here we are half a century later, with wildly more advanced technology, a bunch of ready-to-fly rockets to choose from, and they need another ten years for a single mission? What “organizational changes” are necessary that cost billions?
See Figure 1-4 in this PDF: https://history.nasa.gov/SP-4012v1.pdf#page=15
Also, it seems to me that NASA is involved in far more programs right now than it was back in the times of the Apollo program. Which isn't a bad thing in itself, but of course each program itself has smaller scope.
This is partially because we outsource so much work, but yes, we simply do not have the budget to get anyone and everyone we'd want. The A-for-administration is becoming a more important role in shipping tax dollars to R&D and C-for-cots.
But at the same time, there's lots of exciting stuff going on.
[Edit]: Changed "with landing" to "with landing on The Moon"
Apollo 1: Burned on the launchpad, killing Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee.
Apollo 4-6: unmanned missions
Apollo 7: Flew in Earth orbit and tested the command module (the lunar module wasn't ready yet).
Apollo 8: Orbited the moon, further testing the command module and scoping out a potential landing spot.
Apollo 9: Flew in Earth orbit, testing rendezvous between the lunar module and command module.
Apollo 10: Dress rehearsal of the moon landing, except they didn't land. Came withing 50k feet of the surface.
Apollo 11: The first moon landing. Only went outside for less than 3 hours. Landed 4 miles away from the target.
Apollo 12: Second moon landing. Two 4 hour walks outside. Landed very close to the target.
Apollo 13: Oxygen tank exploded in command module on the way to the moon. Used the lunar module as a lifeboat, slingshotting around the moon before returning to Earth.
Apollo 14: Apollo 13, but successful. Did two 8 hour walks.
Apollo 15: Upgraded lunar module that could carry the rover and additional supplies, and new suits that they could take off inside the lunar module (previous missions only took off the helmet and gloves). Three 8 hour stints outside, venturing tens of miles away from the lander, including up the side of a mountain. Focus of the mission was entirely on science and collecting samples.
Apollo 16-17: Apollo 15, but at different places and more extreme.
I'm almost finished listening to "A Man on the Moon" by Andrew Chaikin that tells the story of each mission. Highly recommended.
What you say is true but it’s not correct to frame is as a step backwards as is often done. The Saturn V would be hard to build today because technology has moved forward a great deal.
This is an important distinction because it means that building a new rocket with the capabilities of the Saturn V is still very much possible. SLS and Super Heavy are two rockets in active development that will exceed the Saturn V. SLS is taking forever but that’s just a matter of not putting resources into it. It’s expensive, but Saturn V was too. Super Heavy is a little more speculative but it looks promising and its capabilities will blow Saturn V’s out of the water if it actually flies, and for far less money.
The Constellation program cost $12B between 2005-2009  and includes Ares V, an earlier version of SLS (but also Orion and Ares I). SLS under the current name (without Orion) has cost $14B 2011-2018 . No idea about 2009-2011. It will cost several billion per year until it is cancelled.
It uses existing (flown in space) shuttle engines, shuttle main tank tooling, 5 segment version of shuttle's 4 segment boosters (also 15 years in development), etc. It requires no new technology and it is not trying to be better than anything. It has all the money it wants. They even took money away from commercial crew to pay SLS, a few years ago, which made commercial crew late which forced them to pay more to the Russians.
The problem with SLS is that it is designed to burn money. It is not designed to fly, to achieve a mission of any kind. It is optimized to cost as much as possible, because its success is defined as "raised average wage in my congressional district for as long as possible" by the people who ordered it done.
1 - http://www.planetary.org/blogs/jason-davis/2016/20160801-hor...
2 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Launch_System#Funding_hi...
I wouldn’t be surprised if SLS ended up costing more in the end, precisely because spending is lower. A project with less funding that drags on forever costs more than one with better funding that’s finishes quickly.
Had it been designed by engineers with budget or deadline in mind, we could have debated methodologies. But it was designed by congress with exact hardware to use mandated by them, with no ability by engineers to change it to lower costs.
Also, of course, "cost plus" contracting means that an engineer that suggests an idea to lower costs is thrown out of the room by management.
See Dr. Dan Rasky from NASA, top expert on heat shields, explain from inside: https://youtu.be/g3gzwMJWa5w?t=679
Also, most talks by Dr. Robert Zubrin (author of Case for Mars) explain that the human spaceflight part of NASA is nuts.
And Boeing consistently missing deadlines they agreed to. But that's a matter of them being in the business of milking taxpayers not a matter of technology.
Ten years is about the timeline to expect commercial launches / lifts to the moon. I suspect to be cost effective, NASA is synchronizing with commercial partners and standardizing mission architectures to ensure a long line of lunar missions. (source: Working on a related problem).
From the NASA Page: "CLPS contracts are indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts with a cumulative maximum contract value of $2.6 billion during the next 10 years."
So there's your new apollo program. 10 years and billions of investment, but with commercial taxis rather than NASA-built.
While I'm on the subject of NASA + Commercial partners. Imagine you had to build your own car to get to work every day, and suddenly a taxi service starts up. Would you use the taxi instead? That's the analogy for SpaceX, Blue origin, etc. Most programs are about science and human exploration, which involve significantly more than rocket and faring technologies. Moving beyond those expensive development projects can only make NASA-led initiatives more cost effective. It's how it has to be nowadays.
I currently work on a space science satellite launched in 2015 for NASA and our flight processor is 40 MHz.
Spaceflight is altogether more complex than you think.
Down vote all you want, its true. Otherwise, the only legit excuse is "politics". Least we forget Kennedy was long deady by the time 1969 rolled around - doesn't get much more political than that.
Or much more fake.
> “What we’re talking about is creating a new mission directorate at NASA,” Bridenstine said during the March 27 hearing. “And it’s focused on development activities that are very large in scale. And that mission directorate, we would call it Moon to Mars Mission Directorate, because it’s going to be focused on getting to the moon and using those capabilities to go on to Mars. So on the management side we’re trying to separate operations from development so that we can get a better mix of the right people in the right places to accomplish these objectives.”
> The problem, Bridenstine said, is that the current division between operations and development is muddled. Operations refers to the actual missions: Flying to and resupplying the International Space Station, for example. Development refers to the design and implementation of never-before-used technologies.
"I see... WMDs... and banks that are... too big to fail."
According to your source, at it's peak during Apollo, NASA's budget was only twice what it is now in constant dollars. In constant dollars NASA's budget is basically the same as it was when it was operating a fleet of space shuttles in the 80's and 90's, but NASA isn't operating any now. Where does the money really go?
Sending people into space was a stunt, like climbing to the top of Everest. Having done it a few times there’s no point in doing it again. People say, oh you learn so much from it, but that would be true for trying to live on the bottom of the ocean or in treehouses or whatever. Romantic nonsense is fine but manned spacedlight is expensive and requires a ton of talented engineering that could be better used elsewhere.
I wish that the main thrust (so to speak) was towards permanent off-planet settlement and economies rather than merely having a human grab the soil samples.
Also, it would be nice to see a more results-oriented attitude rather than have the whole deal watered down with politics. Of course, you could probably say that about the US military.
Personally, I doubt that the science community would be behind manned space travel in any case. It's more marketed to the engineering and military world. I wouldn't doubt that internal NASA competition over limited dollars shows astronomers and planet scientists smothering the manned efforts in it's crib now and again.
Totally agree with you on that. I think the current situation has to do with how political space has become, especially in the US. If missions are being used as popularity boosts on a per administration basis, it makes way more sense to propose something small and relatively feasible on short time scales like a glorified sample return mission as opposed to something that requires real, long term investment like colonization.
$1.6 billion is a tiny fraction of what we spend on things that will have basically 0 impact on the longterm outcome of our species. But since it doesn't get votes or feed special interests, it's left unfunded. Of course even if it was funded, it might well get cut. For instance one reason Nixon stripped down the space program was literally because he didn't like JFK and didn't want JFK's legacy overshadowing his own. 
Bezos, for instance, wanting to spend the majority of his wealth creating a private space industry can be seen as capricious, but I think this is myopic. Some time, ideally not all that far from now, space will have revolutionized every single aspect of our society. It provides endless lands for colonizing, endless mineral resources for harvesting, and an infinite frontier to reach ever deeper into. If we only moved forward once everything else was sound and stable, we'd never move forward.
 - http://www.planetary.org/blogs/guest-blogs/jason-callahan/20...
Really? that's an interesting conclusion to jump to. Maybe it would be easier to properly run the government than try to make companies that pretend to do the job of nation states?
Bezos is doing what he's doing precisely because he has the money to do it and not be beholden to profit motives. Saying "we should get private companies involved in space" comes with a HUGE asterix of "as long as they aren't beholden to profit motives".
And yes, spaceX is a thing but they're never going to turn a profit. The whole thing is a for profit company in name only.
One generation doesn't seem to be able to run government more properly than its preceding generation, so it's probably impossible to do better than we are doing.
There's now one mainstream party that wants the government to run properly, serve the people, etc., and one mainstream party that runs explicitly under the slogan of "the government isn't the solution, the government is the problem," and claims that any use of government resources for a social benefit is "socialism."
Please don't buy into the idea that government, by its nature, is dysfunctional--please look at other countries around the world to see that it is possible to have a non-corrupt, beneficent government entity that improves life for its citizens.
That's just not what we have in the US.
No, it's not possible, in the US. Outside the US, yes, as you've pointed out, but it's just not possible here; there's too many internal problems to make it possible. It's like saying it's possible to have a non-corrupt, beneficient government in Afghanistan; no, it really isn't, not for many generations. The social problems there prevent it.
Even looking at the present, I think many are not aware of what's happening in Europe. Systems from Scandinavia's welfare state to the UK's NHS are in increasingly bad shape with things looking to only become worse. It's a mixture of increasing migration, an aging population, in the case of healthcare systems populations becoming generally less healthful, and increasing ideological fracturing of society. These are all issues that the US has has been an unfortunate leader on. The solidity of these systems will be illustrated over the next decade or two. Suffice to say, places like Sweden are already a good distance from the country you may think you are idealizing, and a few decades from now it will likely be even further away from that ideal. The point of this is that you need to compare apples to apples. If you're still idealizing Europe in a couple of decades, I'll concede the point - but I doubt you will be.
What the heck are you talking about? Andrew Jackson died in 1845 of old age. Jackson killed some guy in 1806 in a duel, and apparently had a hot temper and challenged others to duels, but he himself died at the old age of 78.
Edit: you're thinking of the Hamilton-Burr duel, where Alexander Hamilton (who's on the $10 bill, not 20) was killed in 1804 by Aaron Burr, VP for Jefferson.
This. Trump wanted a return to the Moon by the end of his second term, but it's just not possible. NASA doesn't even have a human launch vehicle capable of low-earth orbit (LEO) at the moment. It will in a few years, but getting to the Moon is significantly harder than LEO and getting people back from the Moon is 10x harder still. And we no longer have an existential cold war with Russia to motivate us.
>In Space Policy Directive-1, the President directed NASA to create a lunar exploration plan. But as of today, more than 15 months later, we still don’t have a plan in place. But Administrator Bridenstine told me, five minutes ago, we now have a plan to return to the moon. (Applause.)
... little later
>And I’m here, on the President’s behalf, to tell the men and women of the Marshall Space Flight Center and the American people that, at the direction of the President of the United States, it is the stated policy of this administration and the United States of America to return American astronauts to the Moon within the next five years. (Applause.)
Of course, this does not mean anything. WH is not committing any work towards that goal and probably don't know how. They just said it, requested money and left it there hanging. NASA has funding for Moon mission in 2028. The extra money to get there faster is nowhere to find.
Some have speculated that the NASA (acting) Administrator at the time, Robert Lightfoot, was replaced with Bridenstine because the latter would back a fast return to the moon.
I doubt it's his idea though, nor of any of his cabinet. Just a convenient thing for him to latch on to politically.
Should we put humans on the moon (or Mars) today? I don't know, but I don't think it's a dumb idea. Impractical maybe, but still a laudable goal.
Can you elaborate? Robots in 1969 perhaps couldn't, but bringing back rocks seems well within the abilities of present robotics.
Even now it would be a tall order. The moon walkers didn't just scoop up a random bunch of rocks, they selected specific rocks that were chosen to prove or prove the geologists' hypotheses, drilled 10 foot core tubes, chipped pieces off large boulders, climbed mountains and steep hills, and set up complex, long-running experiments that would continue broadcasting to earth. Heck, they even sent a geologist to the moon, because a trained scientist can recognise what a human with a fixed camera cannot.
I would bet that a pair of humans could do in a week what all of the Mars landers put together have done to date (apart from land on opposite sides of the globe). Don't discount human intelligence, ingenuity, and physical ability. Robots are great for assembly line work, but not exploring unknown territory.
I think the basic truth in that statement is relatively easy to demonstrate. Each rover we send to Mars moves only a few tens of kilometers over its lifetime, and, though the science each one sends back is amazing, there's a limit to what we can learn without sending up some humans to do things in person. Robotic missions are limited to the exact configurations of their tools and where their propulsion can safely get them; humans are much more mobile and way better at improvising.