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Landing on the moon

  1. Dec 2, 2005 #1
    I do believe atsronauts landed on the moon, I was recently reading space.com and it said "for people who don't know much physics, the idea that landing on the moon (not doing it) may seem possible"

    so I came to this forum to ask the question. I've looked at all the theories saying we definitely did, and I Do believe we did.

    But I have a few questions

    Why is the US the only nation to actually land on the moon?
    I heard china was going to, but in like 2010, why didn't they do it sooner?

    Why haven't other nations done so?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 2, 2005 #2

    russ_watters

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    It is difficult and expensive.
     
  4. Dec 2, 2005 #3
    As far as I understand it was mainly symbolic. As Russ pointed out it was difficult and expensive and there really wasn't much value in accomplishing it other than to say we did it and to have officially "won" the space race.
     
  5. Dec 2, 2005 #4
    Ah yes, that makes sense. Wow that's amazing then if it had no real contribution to science, it must've cost billions of dollars even back in 1969
     
  6. Dec 2, 2005 #5
    I'm sure that there were benefits. I just don't think it was likely that the cost of a manned mission was really justified by the scientific achievments in and of themselves. I could be wrong but this is what I have heard and it seems to make sense.
     
  7. Dec 2, 2005 #6

    russ_watters

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    There certainly were scientific benefits, but very little (if anything) that they did cannot be done today by robots. Consider the Japanese probe that recently landed on an asteroid and is returning to earth (if all goes well) with samples. Consider the Mars rovers (still going, 2 years into their 90 day lifespan). The total cost of the rover project was on the order of $900 million. The total cost of the Apollo program was about $135 billion in 2005 dollars, including precursor programs, though more than half was for Apollo itself.
     
  8. Dec 2, 2005 #7
    NASA Planning Return to Moon Within 13 Years – NYTimes.com

    30 years later and we can do it much cheaper and with existing equipment.
     
  9. Dec 2, 2005 #8

    russ_watters

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    I, personally, don't see us returning to the moon, much less going to Mars in my lifetime, barring some major technological advance that drops the cost to orbit by an order of magnitude. Robots are just too good and too cheap.
     
  10. Dec 2, 2005 #9
    Come on Russ, you can’t be that old! I agree that robots are the best option at the moment for Mars missions, but you never know if China and Russia get together, or even if the European Space Agency decide to go ahead with some manned mission some time in the next couple of decades.

    I wonder if people will deny ever going to Mars when it finally happens. Nothing surprises me anymore!
     
  11. Dec 2, 2005 #10

    DaveC426913

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    And no idea is original.
    Capricorn One

    (1978 - Elliott Gould, James Brolin, O.J. Simpson, Hal Holbrook, Karen Black, Telly Savalas)
     
  12. Dec 2, 2005 #11
    Now isn’t that great! Let’s just hope they don’t decide to make a remake. I don’t want to see any unnecessary exposure to ideas which promote this kind of nonsense.
     
  13. Dec 2, 2005 #12

    BobG

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    The development of space techniques and technology for the Moon Landing program provided a huge jump start for the nation's space program as a whole - both for manned and unmanned programs. I don't think commercial space programs would nearly as well developed if the government hadn't heavily subsidized space in its early days. It also opened up new branches for astronomy as peripheral projects on the manned programs leading up to the Moon Landing discovered new things about the space environment.

    On a more down-to-Earth level, the Moon program pushed technology forward in computers, the medical field, air and water purification systems and other areas. You could come up with quite a list of things that have their roots in NASA's manned space program.

    NASA Spinoffs

    Realistically, most of these would have eventually been developed even without a space program, but the space program made a lot of things happen sooner, meaning we're still a lot further along than we would have been without the space program.

    Of course, it really wasn't supposed to stop at the Moon: Sep 1969 Report of Space Task Group
     
  14. Dec 2, 2005 #13

    russ_watters

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    I'll be 30 next week. You tell me if I'm old.... (careful, I have access to your IP address and can track you down...)
     
  15. Dec 2, 2005 #14

    Integral

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    There is no scientific reason for sending men (or women) back to the moon. Astronauts are space tourists as they can add NOTHING to scientific gains of any mission. The main purpose of a manned space mission is to keep the men alive. Men drive up costs and reduce the scientific payload. I believe that we must get past the short sighted "glory for man" concepts, and use our limited resources to learn as much as we can about the solar system.


    Man is space needs to become a commercial venture. development of lunar travel would parallel the development of lunar resorts. Tourism in the form of low gravity honeymoons and sports would be selling points. I do not think our government should get into that business.
     
  16. Dec 2, 2005 #15
    two benefits from those days: Tang and Velcro
     
  17. Dec 2, 2005 #16

    FredGarvin

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    What about those shuttle missions that are using microgravity to porduce single crystal silicon wafers for high end computers? I remember reading about that some time ago. I wonder if they have been able to replicate that on Earth. I don't think those types of things can be done autonomously.
     
  18. Dec 2, 2005 #17

    There won't be lunar resorts before there is a government moon base. It would be like Columbus trying to colonize the new world, without the Spanish government paying for it. Would have taken decades longer to finally happen.

    People rattle on about the uselessness of manned spaceflight, but they don't seem to get it. Without the things we learned putting men on the moon, there would have been no SpaceShipOne. We wouldn't have the level of satellite telecommunications we have today. We'd still be learning how to put hunks of metal into orbit around earth, not on orbital trajectories around every major planet in the outer solar system. Manned spaceflight is not a goal in and of itself. What we learn solving all the problems with it is the goal.
     
  19. Dec 3, 2005 #18

    BobG

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    There is no scientific reason in a direct way.

    However, any excuse that results in a massive government investment in scientific research and technology development accelerates results. It's hard to get people excited about an unmanned satellite designed to detect gamma ray bursts. (Well, unless they have a really cool song)
     
  20. Dec 3, 2005 #19

    Integral

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    One has to ask, what part does the astrotourist actually play in orbital experiments? Take it out of a container, Push the start button? Turn on a camera? Make notes? Has there been any experiment (other then human health studies) which actually require a man to be present? It seems to me that with a bit of thought the same experiments could be done robotically, without the danger of contamination or mistakes due to the presence of an astrotourist. Again by leaving the life support systems and the astrotourists behind, you increase scientific payload and minimize launch mass.


    Before sending men anywhere in the solar system we need a scientific and economic reason for doing so. It seems obvious to me that any meaningful scientific mission can be accomplished cheaper and better by using robots and remote sensing. As we venture further into the outer reaches of the solar system we will also need to develop AI to aid our robotic explorers in dealing with the communications time delays. We need to continue development of robotic hardware and sensing devices all of which will also be useful here on earth. So there are still lots of very useful technology which would impact our daily lives by spending money on robotic missions.

    We really need to start looking at our civilization as endangered, it is threatened by natural disasters, political anarchy and shrinking energy resources. We need to identify the critical needs and apply our resources to those needs. Currently man in space is not a critical need. Space exploration is more a matter of scientific curiosity then the salvation of our civilization. This type of exploration is best done robotically, sending the huge masses required to keep men alive would reduce the extent and effectiveness of any such mission. Who knows, perhaps there is some energy silver bullet waiting to be discovered in the solar system. If there is, sending men to look for it is not the optimal solution. Once it is found, if there is a need, then send men. Meanwhile we will have perfected launch system to the point we can safely launch and return space vehicles

    If we do not find a replacement for fossil fuels in the next 2 decades we are dooming our ancestors to a 1850 equivalent life style. There will be no possible recovery once the decline starts. At this point in time it is essential that we dedicate a large part of our scientific resources to the solution of our energy problems. Once we have solved this problem then man in space will be easy..
     
  21. Dec 3, 2005 #20
    But then again, how many satelites, inoperative and lost due to unknown reasons could have been saved / repaired, if there would have been somebody around to say: "Houston, we've got a problem"

    It's a trade off. Which robot can compete with man cognitive and analytic abilities and has the sensetive touch to fine tune instruments? Working around problems, beating the system, etc? What would be the ultimate gain in terms of extra weight and support systems if all those abilities would have to be matched?

    But indeed it's not our main worry right now.
     
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