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posted by martyb on Sunday September 02 2018, @04:12PM   Printer-friendly
from the a-billion-here-a-billion-there dept.

Going Back to the Moon Won't Break the Bank, NASA Chief Says

Sending humans back to the moon won't require a big Apollo-style budget boost, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. During the height of the Apollo program in the mid-1960s, NASA gobbled up about 4.5 percent of the federal budget. This massive influx of resources helped the space agency make good on President John F. Kennedy's famous 1961 promise to get astronauts to the moon, and safely home to Earth again, before the end of the decade. NASA's budget share now hovers around just 0.5 percent. But something in that range should be enough to mount crewed lunar missions in the next 10 years or so, as President Donald Trump has instructed NASA to do with his Space Policy Directive 1, Bridenstine told reporters yesterday (Aug. 30) here at NASA's Ames Research Center.

The key lies in not going it alone and continuing to get relatively modest but important financial bumps, he added. (Congress allocated over $20.7 billion to NASA in the 2018 omnibus spending bill — about $1.1 billion more than the agency got in the previous year's omnibus bill.)

"We now have more space agencies on the surface of the planet than we've ever had before. And even countries that don't have a space agency — they have space activities, and they want to partner with us on our return to the moon," Bridenstine said in response to a question from Space.com. "And, at the same time, we have a robust commercial marketplace of people that can provide us access that historically didn't exist," the NASA chief added. "So, between our international and commercial partners and our increased budget, I think we're going to be in good shape to accomplish the objectives of Space Policy Directive 1."

We're talking about the surface of the Moon, right? Not the mini-ISS in lunar orbit that would give the Space Launch System somewhere to go?

Previously: President Trump Signs Space Policy Directive 1
2020s to Become the Decade of Lunar Re-Exploration
NASA Cancels Lunar Rover
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine Serious About Returning to the Moon

Related: Should We Skip Mars for Now and Go to the Moon Again?
How to Get Back to the Moon in 4 Years, Permanently
NASA Administrator Ponders the Fate of SLS in Interview


Original Submission

Related Stories

Should We Skip Mars for Now and Go to the Moon Again? 78 comments

NASA seems hell bent to go to Mars, but can't afford to on its own.
Its international partners have no stomach for that — they would would rather return to our moon and build a base there for further exploration.

Doesn't going back to the moon make more sense? Build a base on the moon, and use its low gravity and possible water at the poles as propellant for further space exploration?

Why not the moon first?

http://www.theverge.com/2016/6/7/11868840/moon-return-journey-to-mars-nasa-congress-space-policy

Links:
From NASA itself, in 2008: https://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/series/moon/why_go_back.html
The all-knowing, ever-trustworthy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonization_of_the_Moon


Original Submission

How to Get Back to the Moon in 4 Years, Permanently 56 comments

Howard Bloom has written a guest blog at Scientific American addressing the Trump Administration's plan to return to (orbit) the Moon. That mission would use the Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule, which have cost $18 billion through 2017 but are not expected to launch astronauts into space until around 2023. Bloom instead proposes using private industry to put a base on the Moon, using technology such as SpaceX's Falcon Heavy (estimated $135 million per launch vs. $500 million for the Space Launch System) and Bigelow Aerospace's inflatable habitat modules:

[NASA's acting administrator Robert] Lightfoot's problem lies in the two pieces of NASA equipment he wants to work with: a rocket that's too expensive to fly and is years from completion—the Space Launch System; and a capsule that's far from ready to carry humans—the Orion. Neither the SLS nor the Orion are able to land on the Moon. Let me repeat that. Once these pieces of super-expensive equipment reach the moon's vicinity, they cannot land.

Who is able to land on the lunar surface? Elon Musk and Robert Bigelow. Musk's rockets—the Falcon and the soon-to-be-launched Falcon Heavy—are built to take off and land. So far their landing capabilities have been used to ease them down on earth. But the same technology, with a few tweaks, gives them the ability to land payloads on the surface of the Moon. Including humans. What's more, SpaceX's upcoming seven-passenger Dragon 2 capsule has already demonstrated its ability to gentle itself down to earth's surface. In other words, with a few modifications and equipment additions, Falcon rockets and Dragon capsules could be made Moon-ready.

[...] In 2000, Bigelow purchased a technology that Congress had ordered NASA to abandon: inflatable habitats. For the last sixteen years Bigelow and his company, Bigelow Aerospace, have been advancing inflatable habitat technology. Inflatable technology lets you squeeze a housing unit into a small package, carry it by rocket to a space destination, then blow it up like a balloon. Since the spring of 2016, Bigelow, a real estate developer and founder of the Budget Suites of America hotel chain, has had an inflatable habitat acting as a spare room at the International Space Station 220 miles above your head and mine. And Bigelow's been developing something far more ambitious—an inflatable Moon Base, that would use three of his 330-cubic-meter B330 modules. What's more, Bigelow has been developing a landing vehicle to bring his modules gently down to the Moon's surface.

[...] If NASA ditched the Space Launch System and the Orion, it would free up three billion dollars a year. That budget could speed the Moon-readiness of Bigelow's landing vehicles, not to mention SpaceX's Falcon rockets and could pay for lunar enhancements to manned Dragon 2 capsules. In fact, three billion dollars a year is far greater than what Bigelow and Musk would need. That budget would also allow NASA to bring Jeff Bezos into the race. And it would let NASA refocus its energy on earth-orbit and lunar-surface refueling stations...plus rovers, lunar construction equipment, and devices to turn lunar ice into rocket fuel, drinkable water, and breathable oxygen. Not to mention machines to turn lunar dust and rock into building materials.

An organization that Howard Bloom founded, The Space Development Steering Committee, has been short one member recently (Edgar Mitchell).


Original Submission

President Trump Signs Space Policy Directive 1 100 comments

No more sending humans to an asteroid. We're going back to the Moon:

The policy calls for the NASA administrator to "lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities." The effort will more effectively organize government, private industry, and international efforts toward returning humans on the Moon, and will lay the foundation that will eventually enable human exploration of Mars.

"The directive I am signing today will refocus America's space program on human exploration and discovery," said President Trump. "It marks a first step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972, for long-term exploration and use. This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints -- we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, to many worlds beyond."

The policy grew from a unanimous recommendation by the new National Space Council, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, after its first meeting Oct. 5. In addition to the direction to plan for human return to the Moon, the policy also ends NASA's existing effort to send humans to an asteroid. The president revived the National Space Council in July to advise and help implement his space policy with exploration as a national priority.

President's remarks and White House release.

Presidential Memorandum on Reinvigorating America's Human Space Exploration Program

Also at Reuters and New Scientist.

Previously: Should We Skip Mars for Now and Go to the Moon Again?
How to Get Back to the Moon in 4 Years, Permanently
NASA Eyeing Mini Space Station in Lunar Orbit as Stepping Stone to Mars
NASA and Roscosmos Sign Joint Statement on the Development of a Lunar Space Station
Bigelow and ULA to Put Inflatable Module in Orbit Around the Moon by 2022


Original Submission

2020s to Become the Decade of Lunar Re-Exploration 56 comments

NASA is going back to the Moon, perhaps permanently, as seen in a new road map (image):

Four months after President Trump directed NASA to return to the Moon, the agency has presented a road map to meet the goals outlined in Space Policy Directive-1. The updated plan shifts focus from the previous "Journey to Mars" campaign back to the Moon, and—eventually—to the Red Planet.

"The Moon will play an important role in expanding human presence deeper into the solar system," said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA, in a release issued by the agency.

While the revamped plan may share the same destination as the Apollo program, NASA said it will approach the return in a more measured and sustainable manner. Unlike humanity's first trip to the Moon, the journey back will incorporate both commercial and international partners.

To achieve this, NASA has outlined four strategic goals:

  • Transition low-Earth orbit (LEO) human spaceflight activities to commercial operators.
  • Expand long-duration spaceflight activities to include lunar orbit.
  • Facilitate long-term robotic lunar exploration.
  • Use human exploration of the Moon as groundwork for eventual human missions to Mars and beyond.

This may be the best outcome for the space program. Let NASA focus on the Moon with an eye towards permanently stationing robots and humans there, and let SpaceX or someone else take the credit for a 2020s/early-2030s manned Mars landing. Then work on a permanent presence on Mars using cheaper rocket launches, faster propulsion technologies, better radiation shielding, hardier space potatoes, etc.

Previously: President Trump Signs Space Policy Directive 1

Related:


Original Submission

NASA Cancels Lunar Rover 21 comments

The Washington Post reports that NASA "has canceled its only lunar rover currently in development," Resource Prospector. From Wikipedia:

Resource Prospector is a cancelled mission concept by NASA of a rover that would have performed a survey expedition on a polar region of the Moon. The rover was to attempt to detect and map the location of volatiles such as hydrogen, oxygen and lunar water which could foster more affordable and sustainable human exploration to the Moon, Mars, and other Solar System bodies.

The mission concept was still in its pre-formulation stage, when it was scrapped in April 2018. The Resource Prospector mission was proposed to be launched in 2022.

takyon: Meanwhile, NASA is "pushing hard on deep space exploration" with the Moon as its goal.

Also at Space.com, The Verge, and Fortune.


Original Submission

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine Serious About Returning to the Moon 26 comments

NASA chief on Moon return: "This will not be Lucy and the football again"

In 1989, President George H.W. Bush announced the Space Exploration Initiative, a long-range commitment toward the human exploration of deep space, beginning with a return to the Moon. "Major parts of that policy went forward, but establishing permanence on the Moon was abandoned," Bridenstine said Tuesday. Then, in 2004, President George W. Bush announced a bold plan to send humans back to the Moon, where they would learn how to operate in deep space and then go on to Mars. This became the Constellation program. Again, major parts of that policy went forward, Bridenstine said. But NASA abandoned the drive back to the Moon.

Before the US Senate confirmed pilot and former congressman Bridenstine, the Trump administration announced a plan to send humans back to the Moon. "To many, this may sound similar to our previous attempts to get to the Moon," Bridenstine said Tuesday. "However, times have changed. This will not be Lucy and the football again."

How have times changed? During his brief address, Bridenstine listed several technologies that he believes have lowered the cost of a lunar return. These include the miniaturization of electronics that will allow for smaller robotic vehicles, the decreasing costs of launch, private investment in spaceflight, commercial interest in lunar resources, and new ways of government contracting. (Bridenstine did not mention the Space Launch System rocket or the Orion spacecraft).

The speech was only a few minutes long, so I wouldn't read too much into the absence of SLS/Orion. But it's no secret that BFR could deliver 150 metric tons to the Moon or Mars by using in-orbit refueling, vs. a lot less when using the expensive SLS.

Previously:

Related:


Original Submission

NASA Administrator Ponders the Fate of SLS in Interview 4 comments

Rocket Report: Japanese rocket blows up, NASA chief ponders purpose of SLS (and other news)

NASA Administrator ponders what to do with the SLS rocket. During a Q&A with Politico, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was asked about how the space agency views commercial launch vehicles. His response: "As we move forward, we're going to have to maybe rethink... at what point do we start taking advantage of those commercial capabilities to the extent that they drive down cost, give us more capability, and what do we do with SLS?... We're not there yet, but certainly there's a horizon here. Is it 10 years? I don't know what the answer is, but what we can't do in my view is give up our government capability, our national capability, when we don't have an alternative."

Speaking of timelines ... NASA doesn't exactly have the "national capability" of the SLS rocket yet in the heavy-lift class, either. We've heard rumors of a slip to 2021 for the first launch date, in which case Blue Origin's New Glenn has a fighting chance to fly first, as SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket has already done.

Blue Origin targets Moon landing by 2023. Blue Origin's business development director, A.C. Charania, said at a conference that the company's Blue Moon program is "our first step to developing a lunar landing capability for the country, for other customers internationally, to be able to land multi metric tons on the lunar surface." The company has not said what role its large orbital rocket under development, New Glenn, would play in a mission to the Moon.

BFR is a privately funded next-generation reusable launch vehicle and spacecraft system developed by SpaceX. It was announced by Elon Musk in September 2017.[8][9] The overall space vehicle architecture includes both launch vehicles and spacecraft that are intended to completely replace all of SpaceX's existing space hardware by the early 2020s as well as ground infrastructure for rapid launch and relaunch, and zero-gravity propellant transfer technology to be deployed in low Earth orbit (LEO). The large payload to Earth orbit of up to 150,000 kg (330,000 lb) makes BFR a super heavy-lift launch vehicle. Manufacture of the first upper stage/spacecraft prototype began by March 2018, and the ship is projected to begin testing in early 2019.[5]

Related: First SLS Mission Will be Unmanned
After the Falcon Heavy Launch, Time to Defund the Space Launch System?
President Trump Praises Falcon Heavy, Diminishes NASA's SLS Effort
SpaceX BFR vs. ULA Vulcan Showdown in the 2020s
NASA's Chief of Human Spaceflight Rules Out Use of Falcon Heavy for Lunar Station
NASA Could Scale Down First Manned Flight of the SLS
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine Serious About Returning to the Moon
Jeff Bezos Details Moon Settlement Ambitions in Interview
This Week in Space Pessimism: SLS, Mars, and Lunar Gateway


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by archfeld on Sunday September 02 2018, @04:17PM (16 children)

    by archfeld (4650) <treboreel@live.com> on Sunday September 02 2018, @04:17PM (#729560) Journal

    It is not that I think we shouldn't go or that we can't but I wonder why ? What purpose do any of you see in going to the moon ? A space station as a jump off point to interstellar exploration makes sense. Exploration and colonization of other sustainable worlds makes sense, but what purpose does the occupation of Luna fulfill ?

    --
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    • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Sunday September 02 2018, @04:52PM (3 children)

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Sunday September 02 2018, @04:52PM (#729572) Journal

      As far as solar system real estate goes, the Moon is rather accessible. It also has a higher surface gravity than almost all other satellites (except Io, I think). It has water ice. It has areas near the poles that get nearly constant sunlight year round. Because it's at 1 AU, you can get much more solar power per panel than on Mars, Ceres, or near Jupiter, and you can get more than on Earth since there's no atmosphere. The far side of the Moon would be a great place for a radio telescope. Other locations could use liquid zenith telescopes [wikipedia.org].

      The Deep Space Gateway / LOP-G as a "jump off point" is just pork propaganda. It will do no so thing as it is currently designed. It's not a fuel depot or anything like that.

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      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02 2018, @10:18PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02 2018, @10:18PM (#729667)

        As far as solar system real estate goes

        Sure, but that's begging the question. Why do we only consider locations at the bottom of a well as "real"?
        Most of your benefits are satisfied just as well by some circumlunar orbit or Lagrangian point.

        The exception, water ice, is a very good point, though. But it's not just water ice -- almost anything you can mine on the moon, no matter how difficult, will be cheaper than hauling it up from earth. As long as we build spaceships, factories, and habitats from mass, rather than energy fields, we'll need to haul that mass up from its self-imposed gravity wells to orbits where it will be useful. The moon's main competition in this regard seems to be asteroid mining, and while those wells are much shallower, they're also less accessible, requiring either substantial delta-v or absurdly slow "Interplanetary Transport Network" transits to bring materials to Earth's vicinity, while the moon allows for an efficient space elevator with no advances in materials science.

        Arguably, the main point of lunar surface missions in the big picture should be two-fold: mineral exploration and mining (for water ice and more) on one hand, and infrastructure (space elevator and surface railways) to get those mined materials up to L1, and thence to anywhere, on the other.
        In the near term, though, it's more about developing habitats and equipment suited to the lunar surface, so we can live in those habitats and use that equipment for our actual goals of prospecting and construction.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Monday September 03 2018, @11:53AM

          by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Monday September 03 2018, @11:53AM (#729827) Journal

          Longer term, yes: We will (or schould) eschew gravity wells for rotating pseudo-gravity in spacebound habitats.
          We aren't quite ready for that though. To build anything like that we need more experience of working and building in microgravity and in airless environments. We also need access to materials that son't have to be hauled out of Earth's gravity & atmosphere. Yes, there are asteroids, but we aren't ready for those yet either.

          Moon first. Maybe Mars after that, or maybe skip it. Use Luna's "halfway house" environment to gain experience, mine resources, build some off-world infrastructure, THEN we can go fully offworld and start living among the asteroids. Think of the moon as the training wheels of space.

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday September 03 2018, @01:18PM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 03 2018, @01:18PM (#729835) Journal

          Why do we only consider locations at the bottom of a well as "real"?

          Takyon wasn't doing that. And if you're going to consider gravity wells as obstacles, you should also consider other relevant orbital dynamics as obstacles. The delta-v from Earth crossing asteroids to Earth orbit is similar to that from the surface of the Moon even though the former has a much lower gravity well. Shifting orbital dynamics and other trajectory changes can be quite costly.

          I think the Moon has several possible advantages. It's only a few seconds communication delay (round-trip), which means one can do real time teleoperations for a lot of relatively slow things (for example, it would be feasible to remotely operate a supertanker or heavy construction or mining equipment on Earth from the Moon, most of that stuff has serious lag in the controls already). So for a lot of tasks, you'd be able to control the gear from far cheaper Earth.

          It also means the Moon is right next to the most valuable real estate in the Solar System. Some of that value is going to rub off. Location is important.

          And it has a lot of matter structured in ways we understand. The Moon is basically just a giant igneous body (with geology similar to that of Earth's igneous regions) with a thin surface of meteorite-tilled debris covering it. We get how that works already, giving us a leg up on mining and resource collection, and have already worked out a variety of possible ways to exploit that to make useful materials.

          And gravity has its advantages. Things stay put when you're not trying to move them. You can sort mixtures by density (a common chemical industry task).

          Point is that I can't point to any killer apps that require a human presence on the Moon (though being able to cheaply launch bulk material into Earth orbit may become one in future decades). But it'll have significant advantages when humans do figure out how to do valuable stuff on other bodies.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Sunday September 02 2018, @05:08PM (8 children)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday September 02 2018, @05:08PM (#729578) Homepage Journal

      Actually, it remains to be seen how valuable lunar real estate is. It is possible that many people, and many corporations find a lot of value in locating on the moon. And, it's also possible that the moon sees a boom and bust cycle. That is, a lot of people go to the moon, for reasons that seem good, but later move on to Mars, or elsewhere. One day, there may be hundreds of "ghost towns" on the moon, and you can't even give one away for free.

      No one can say for sure, until there are boots in the dust, with the occupants searching for profit in the dust.

      I suspect that the moon can occupy medical researchers for quite a long while. Geologists would probably like a crack at digging on the moon. There may be some valuable deposits of something or another found, that are worth mining - at least until the asteroid mining takes over.

      I suppose that it *could* become something of a garden state. It would definitely require a lot of research, as well as trial and error. Some things may grow better in reduced gravity, but simply refuses to grow in the microgravities expected on board spaceships, and smaller moons.

      Or, to summarize all of that, "exploration". The expansion of human knowledge is well worth the investment.

      --
      "no more than 8 bullets in a round" - Joe Biden
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02 2018, @05:29PM (7 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02 2018, @05:29PM (#729588)

        There are some investments that are better than others. The moon is not promising.

        • (Score: 5, Informative) by takyon on Sunday September 02 2018, @06:18PM (6 children)

          by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Sunday September 02 2018, @06:18PM (#729600) Journal

          Depends on what you mean by investment.

          People could live on the Moon without significant resupply from Earth. They could use lunar ice to get water and oxygen, and grow crops indoors. They can build structures using regolith, or dig tunnels. After the initial investment(s), they at least don't have to starve.

          Settlers would also need tools, drugs, computer chips, etc. They could probably make bioplastics from plant waste at the least. Chemputers could be used to make some, if not all, necessary drugs and chemicals. More complex stuff will have to be launched from Earth.

          Ideally, the BFR would reduce the cost per kilogram to such a degree that sending a shipment of stuff to the Moon once in a while won't cost too much. Maybe we can get 25-50 BFR loads there for $1 billion. That's a lot of equipment and supplies for a small team of researchers, if not a full colony.

          Some people would pay to live on the Moon, even if is worse in almost every aspect than living on Earth. Once living there, they will have an incentive to expand industrial activity if their needs aren't constantly being met by Earth. It's unclear that the Moon would trade with Earth (although there's still talk about helium-3 [fortune.com]), but people on the Moon could do research, build, operate, and maintain telescopes, film for TV and movies, and maybe perform other services.

          We could get a lot done for a few billion dollars, assuming fully operational and human-rated BFR launches are on the table. If the total amount of money being wasted on SLS was redirected, we could get even more done.

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          [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03 2018, @03:11AM (2 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03 2018, @03:11AM (#729732)

            Some people say they would pay to live on the Moon. Extremely few of those would. It's all fun and games until reality sets in after the novelty wears off.

            What happens when people start paying more to come back to Earth?

            • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday September 03 2018, @04:04AM

              by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday September 03 2018, @04:04AM (#729743) Journal

              What happens when people start paying more to come back to Earth?

              Then you have an even better business opportunity. "Get me the fuck off this god-forsaken rock! I'll pay anything!"

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              [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday September 04 2018, @02:40AM

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 04 2018, @02:40AM (#730085) Journal

              Some people say they would pay to live on the Moon. Extremely few of those would.

              The question is not whether they would pay, but how much? Extremely few would pay what it currently takes. But when it gets a lot cheaper, you'll get more customers as expected.

              It's all fun and games until reality sets in after the novelty wears off.

              Just like the novelty of visiting natural places has worn off for us? I believe there are a fair number of mountains, for example, that have been visited by the locals for thousands of years.

          • (Score: 2) by eravnrekaree on Tuesday September 04 2018, @01:17AM (1 child)

            by eravnrekaree (555) on Tuesday September 04 2018, @01:17AM (#730057)

            Is there really all that much water there? Sounds like residue, not oceans. Also, where is all of the energy going to come from to do all this, the amounts of energy needed are massive

            • (Score: 2) by takyon on Tuesday September 04 2018, @02:12AM

              by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Tuesday September 04 2018, @02:12AM (#730075) Journal

              Solar energy, which is nearly constant near the poles, and is at a significantly higher intensity than on Earth [wikipedia.org]:

              At most about 75% of the solar energy actually reaches the earth's surface, as even with a cloudless sky it is partially reflected and absorbed by the atmosphere. Even light cirrus clouds reduce this to 50%, stronger cirrus clouds to 40%. Thus the solar energy arriving at the surface can vary from 550 W/m² with cirrus clouds to 1025 W/m² with a clear sky.

              Kilopower [soylentnews.org] has also been suggested.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_of_eternal_light [wikipedia.org]

              Some points get over 80% sunlight per year, and could be combined to reach nearly 95% annual illumination.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_water [wikipedia.org]

              In March 2010, it was reported that the Mini-SAR on board Chandrayaan-1 had discovered more than 40 permanently darkened craters near the Moon's north pole that are hypothesized to contain an estimated 600 million metric tonnes (1.3 trillion pounds) of water-ice.

              Once some water is collected, it could be reused repeatedly in a closed system, like on the ISS.

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          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 04 2018, @07:18PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 04 2018, @07:18PM (#730414)

            People could live on the Moon without significant resupply from Earth. They could use lunar ice to get water and oxygen, and grow crops indoors

            Water and oxygen are not enough to grow anything though. Among other things, nitrogen is absolutely essential for growing any kind of crop. We don't know exactly how abundant it is on the moon it could very well be virtually nonexistent [lunarpedia.org]. To get a rough idea of the requirements here, corn takes about 1lb of nitrogen from the soil per bushel (56lb) of grain [farmersbusinessnetwork.com]; i.e., roughly 20g per kg. 1kg of crop is probably sufficient to sustain an adult human for a day or two, so that gives our lunar farm a ballpark nitrogen requirement of 20g per human per day.

            On Earth virtually all of the nitrogen used in agriculture comes indirectly from the atmosphere (via nitrogen fixation). That should in principle be possible on Mars as well as nitrogen is present in the Martian atmosphere in about 2% concentration [wikipedia.org]. That appears to be the current direction of research for agriculture on Mars missions [agriculture.com].

            Practical upshot of this is that growing crops on the moon is likely going to require radical new methods or a continuous resupply of fertilizer from Earth.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by driverless on Sunday September 02 2018, @05:41PM

      by driverless (4770) on Sunday September 02 2018, @05:41PM (#729590)

      NASA's budget share now hovers around just 0.5 percent. But something in that range should be enough to mount crewed lunar missions in the next 10 years or so

      Or, for 0.05% of the budget share, you could outsource it to China, maybe around Shenzhou 18 or so.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02 2018, @08:59PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02 2018, @08:59PM (#729637)
      Archfeld, you are effectively asking "how old are you."
      • (Score: 2) by archfeld on Monday September 03 2018, @04:03AM

        by archfeld (4650) <treboreel@live.com> on Monday September 03 2018, @04:03AM (#729742) Journal

        I was born less than a year before a man set foot on the moon the first time.

        --
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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02 2018, @05:54PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02 2018, @05:54PM (#729594)

    It would be no less than all the funding NASA lost over privatization and project cancellations.

    In fact, it will require at least the same personal and contractors.

    Guaranteed.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02 2018, @05:57PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02 2018, @05:57PM (#729597)

      NASA never built anything

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03 2018, @03:23AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03 2018, @03:23AM (#729736)

      What privatization? NASA does not build anything.

      Moon rocket -- Boeing designed and built the boosters, Rocketdyne built the engines, Gruman built the lunar lander, North American Aviation built the command module, GM built the lunar rover and Playtex designed and built the spacesuits

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02 2018, @05:55PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02 2018, @05:55PM (#729595)

    For some values of "much".

  • (Score: 2) by crafoo on Sunday September 02 2018, @08:01PM (2 children)

    by crafoo (6639) on Sunday September 02 2018, @08:01PM (#729624)

    Yeah, well I guess the second time you do something it should be cheaper. Not to mention it's 50+ years later so.. maybe technology is better & cheaper. Common sense I suppose.
    I guess I would rather see all of this money directed to basic research across physics & biology. and a huge push for surface robots on most of Jupiter's and Saturn's moons.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Sunday September 02 2018, @09:23PM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Sunday September 02 2018, @09:23PM (#729646) Journal

      What we need, in no particular order, not exhaustive:

      1. Modern exploration of Uranus and Neptune, the major Uranian moons, and Triton.
      2. Drones on Titan. Flying drones, boats, and submarines are all possible.
      3. Landers capable of drilling into the ice on both Europa and Enceladus.
      4. Lander capable of drilling into the subsurface lake on Mars.
      5. Absolutely gigantic space telescopes.
      6. Gravitational lens telescope at 550+ AU.
      7. Flybys/orbiters for major dwarf planets, such as Eris and Sedna.
      8. Orbiter around Pallas.
      9. Fast flyby/orbiter for Planet Nine, if it exists.

      Jupiter is a much easier target than Saturn with a lot of exploration already planned. Juno is there now. ESA's JUICE [wikipedia.org] will orbit Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa, focusing on Ganymede. Europa Clipper will fly by Europa repeatedly and may drop a lander there.

      What we could use is a small, cheap, mass-produced planetary science orbiter. Something that costs closer to $25 million than $1 billion, is not built for any particular mission, takes advantage of ion engines to reach its target*, and can be sent on a cheap launcher, possibly with multiple units sent in a single launch. Solar power is preferred, but radioisotope thermoelectric generators may be needed. It would be nice to have every major moon, planet, and eventually asteroid and dwarf planet, orbited at the same time. And without constant imagery of all solar system objects, you would miss events like the Shoemaker–Levy 9 collision with Jupiter.

      *Ion engines are still pretty new. Dawn was the first spacecraft to orbit two different objects (Vesta and Ceres), which would have been nearly impossible without ion engines.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02 2018, @10:12PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02 2018, @10:12PM (#729665)

        Dawn was the first spacecraft to orbit two different objects (Vesta and Ceres)

        Technically, that honor would have to go to something from the '60s (Luna 10?) for orbiting both the Earth and Moon. There's a reason NASA is careful to specify it's the first to orbit two "targets".

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02 2018, @09:10PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02 2018, @09:10PM (#729642)

    Instead of committing $20.7 billion to fake another moon landing, why not give that money to fund education in the poorer states? Think how many pickaninnies could learn how to read and write with that amount of money.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02 2018, @09:27PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02 2018, @09:27PM (#729650)

      Sure, and they might even read about the Apollo program and the actual moon landings.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02 2018, @10:39PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02 2018, @10:39PM (#729678)

        Not after we've replaced all the old federal textbooks with the corrected versions [youtube.com].

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03 2018, @01:03AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03 2018, @01:03AM (#729708)

      Better yet, tax cuts. Who needs moon landings, education, healthcare or civil society for that matter when you've got 1 MILLION DOLLARS?

  • (Score: 2) by eravnrekaree on Tuesday September 04 2018, @12:54AM

    by eravnrekaree (555) on Tuesday September 04 2018, @12:54AM (#730054)

    Going to the moon sounds to be pointless. A basic requirement of any program should be that any base is going to be self sustaining from local resources, especially you need air and water to be supplied locally. This is so we do not deplete earth resources. You don't have much in the way of air or water on the moon. Im not really fond of the idea of either mars or moon colonization. If the goal is survival, antartica is paradise compared to mars or the moon, you could build a survival base there that would be well stock with years worth of food, seed supplies, livestock, etc that could survive through anything, even a K-T type event is perfectly survivable by a well stocked and supplied secret survival base.

    There is talk of Mars, its a very hard thing to do and doesnt give you anything more as far as species survival than what I outlined above. It is better than the moon however. With Mars, there is a possibility of compressing the martian air and seperating out Oxygen from the Co2 to create an oyxgen atmosphere of 20% earth atmospheric pressure. I asked some people about this, and while earth atmosphere is 80% nitrogen and 20% oxygen, it is safe to breath pure oxygen at 20% earth surface pressure. There is not much nitrogen to work with on mars for the 80% nitrogen component. At earth surface pressure 100% oxygen will hurt you, but its safe to breath pure oxygen at 20% earth surface pressure. Find local sources of martian water is also critical to any plan. Its still a tough thing to do, there are many other problems and so on, but its actually easier than the moon.I am just not very fond of the idea and the chances of successful self sustaining colonization (an absolute requirement to avoid depleting or damaging the earth ecosystem to support it), are very slim,
    .
    A moon trip would be pointless, its much more difficult to send a person than a robot and a robot can do the things a human can do. Its basically an entertaining stunt like a tight rope walk but with little long term viability.

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