# Landing on the moon

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?

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russ_watters
Mentor
It is difficult and expensive.

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.

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

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.

russ_watters
Mentor
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.

QuantumTheory said:
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
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/20/s...ml?ex=1133672400&en=9f36258c6bafc693&ei=5070"

Michael D. Griffin, the agency's new administrator, detailed a \$104 billion plan that he said would get astronauts to the Moon by 2018, serve as a steppingstone to Mars and beyond, and stay within NASA's existing budget.
Dr. Griffin said that after adjusting for inflation, the program would cost just 55 percent of what it cost to put a dozen men on the lunar surface from 1969 to 1972.
30 years later and we can do it much cheaper and with existing equipment.

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russ_watters
Mentor
Vast said:

30 years later and we can do it much cheaper and with existing equipment.
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.

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!

DaveC426913
Gold Member
Vast said:
I wonder if people will deny ever going to Mars when it finally happens. Nothing surprises me anymore!
And no idea is original.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077294/" [Broken]

(1978 - Elliott Gould, James Brolin, O.J. Simpson, Hal Holbrook, Karen Black, Telly Savalas)

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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.

BobG
Homework Helper
QuantumTheory said:
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
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

russ_watters
Mentor
Vast said:
Come on Russ, you can’t be that old!
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...)

Integral
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
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.

two benefits from those days: Tang and Velcro

FredGarvin
Integral said:
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.
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.

Integral said:
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.

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.

BobG
Homework Helper
Integral said:
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.
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)

Integral
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
FredGarvin said:
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.
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..

Integral said:
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.
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.

Integral
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Andre said:
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.
This has to be one of the worst reasons for sending a man along on a space mission. Apollo 13 was very fortunate to return its astrotourists alive. If the failure had been the radio they would have died, as the solution came from men on earth, not the astrotourist. If they had not been aboard there would have been a lost spacecraft... but wait.. wasn't it a life support system which failed and caused the accident? So one could say that the presence of man was the root cause of the accident. No men, no accident. Don't get me wrong, I am very happy to know that mankind has walked on the moon. In that era we did not have any other way. Now we do.

If you examine the history of space travel I think it is clear that any significant failure (Challenger, Columbia) does not leave time for repairs, it just means fatalities.
As has been shown by the Mars rovers and Apollo 13, men are very capable of fixing many problems remotely. The real solutions came from knowledgeable people in a comfortable conference room with a cup of coffee in hand, not from a astortourist.

It would be more effective to spend a bit more money on the initial planning and engineering to minimize the possibility of such failures. Since we would be saving bunches of money by not sending men, we could better engineer the equipment thus reducing the odds of a failure occurring. The most threating failure for humans would be a fault in the life support systems, clearly this type of fault cannot occur if the men stay on earth.

It is not clear to me why we should spend money learning to live in the hostile environment of space when we are not able to live in our home environment here on earth. If we can learn to live on earth with the resources we have available then there will be plenty of time for space.

DaveC426913
Gold Member
Using robots is great for learning about our universe, I agree. It is VERY cost ineffective to send humans.

But part of the mandate for space is to learn how humans can survive in space and elsewhere. Robotic experiments won't really help a lot with that, since the trricky bits are about processes, not about data. Processes like: can you keep humans alive in a spaceship for a year or two? Can they keep their bone and muscle structure intact? What critical minerals and resources for long-term metabolization did we forget?

We can collect data about Mars all we want, but to learn how to live there will, at some point, require humans going there.

It's the diff between theoretical physics and applied physics/engineering.

Danger
Gold Member
There are good points being made on both sides. Integral, the one objection that I have to your approach is that unless there's a major war, pandemic, or sudden recognition of the fact that birth control exists, we won't all fit on this planet in a few decades regardless of how well we manage our resources. We'll need to know how to colonize in the immediate neighbourhood.