# Where's my money going?

NASA's proposals for moon projects never seem to involve the kind of experimentation that would test the ideas of exploiting resources on the moon. Why hasn't there been small scale testing, using robotic spacecraft to the moon, to try various theories, such as using lunar soil for cements that are not hydraulic and propellants. I mean we send people to ISS to watch cheap gadgets like the GM robot, a silently better version of the toy robots sold in toy stores, and spiders make webs, and the futile pursuit of dealing with zero gravity with drugs. How in any way is society benefiting from NASA's current programs? At least testing ideas as to how to use resources on the moon is an impetus for innovation that could lead to new technologies...

Below is a site I found that at least has some ideas:

http://www.wickmanspacecraft.com/moon1.html

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NASA just revealed new designs for a rocket that can carry over 4 times what the old Saturn 5 could. Plenty for colonizing Mars much less the moon.

NASA just revealed new designs for a rocket that can carry over 4 times what the old Saturn 5 could. Plenty for colonizing Mars much less the moon.
Well OK but really? I mean when Bush decided to change the goal from Mars to the moon NASA came up with a slightly larger Apollo capsule!

Think about it this way: Better to air lift to orbit hardware that can be refueled and allows missions with more personnel and hardware to be sent than to try and airlift everything in one lanuch. I've heard arguements against this idea! They have the audacity to claim they need a fessiablity study to validate wether or not this apporach could actually transport more hardware and personnel per misson than a direct lanuch, and more cost effectively I may add since transporting hardware to the moon involves pushing mass not weight to lunar orbit!

I have to say this...The Ivy league accedemics have seriously messed up this world! Think about it: All the leadership and important decisions are made by Ivy league alumnist, at least most of them are. What do we have to show for it?..a bankrupt world!

Ryan_m_b
Staff Emeritus
Huge space projects cost hundreds of billions and take decades of commitment. Apollo was one thing, a Moon base or Mars mission would be orders of magnitude more complex. At a time when money is tight it's hardly justified.

Having said that some countries clearly have the money to burn
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15101890

rock1987
I think they will do it as long as they have got enough money. They use more money in campaingn instead of the mission.

Well OK but really? I mean when Bush decided to change the goal from Mars to the moon NASA came up with a slightly larger Apollo capsule!

Think about it this way: Better to air lift to orbit hardware that can be refueled and allows missions with more personnel and hardware to be sent than to try and airlift everything in one lanuch. I've heard arguements against this idea! They have the audacity to claim they need a fessiablity study to validate wether or not this apporach could actually transport more hardware and personnel per misson than a direct lanuch, and more cost effectively I may add since transporting hardware to the moon involves pushing mass not weight to lunar orbit!

I have to say this...The Ivy league accedemics have seriously messed up this world! Think about it: All the leadership and important decisions are made by Ivy league alumnist, at least most of them are. What do we have to show for it?..a bankrupt world!
Yeah, yeah, scientists are all Frankenstein's out to destroy the world and NASA is the cause of all our economic problems, while we should all believe every word politicians like Bush spout.

It was the military that insisted on the shuttle being as large as it was and, no doubt, the military that is insisting this new rocket be so large. If you want to argue with them I'd suggest writing the pentagon.

Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
Vinni have you ever read the history of the Space Shuttle program? Here's an excerpt from wikipedia:

Early during development of the space shuttle, NASA had estimated that the program would cost $7.45 billion ($43 billion in 2011 dollars, adjusting for inflation) in development/non-recurring costs, and $9.3M ($54M in 2011 dollars) per flight.
And:

Per-launch costs can be measured by dividing the total cost over the life of the program (including buildings, facilities, training, salaries, etc.) by the number of launches. With 134 missions, and the total cost of US$192 billion (in 2010 dollars), this gives approximately$1.5 billion per launch over the life of the program.
At 134 missions, the original quote would have costed about 50 billion in 2011 dollars. Instead it costed almost 4 times that much. Given the history of the space shuttle I can easily see NASA and the government being a little wary of "cheap" reuseable space vehicles.

At 134 missions, the original quote would have costed about 50 billion in 2011 dollars. Instead it costed almost 4 times that much. Given the history of the space shuttle I can easily see NASA and the government being a little wary of "cheap" reuseable space vehicles.
Look at the design of the space shuttle: First off the main engines point at an angle from the center of gravity. Wana know why? Cause the darn design has this big tank on the other end of its center of gravity, so the engines have to compensate for it! Wary of cheap reusable space vehicles? Throwing away a huge expensive fuel tank for each launch is hardly cheap, the whole design of the space shuttle wasn't looking at making things cheap, it was an clugy experiment to test a reusable launch vehicle approach, hoping to find optimal solutions for the future based on the experience of the shuttle craft.

Meaning? Those ivy league geniuses where and still are clueless as how to develop a truly reusable spacecraft...

Ryan_m_b
Staff Emeritus
Look at the design of the space shuttle: First off the main engines point at an angle from the center of gravity. Wana know why? Cause the darn design has this big tank on the other end of its center of gravity, so the engines have to compensate for it! Wary of cheap reusable space vehicles? Throwing away a huge expensive fuel tank for each launch is hardly cheap, the whole design of the space shuttle wasn't looking at making things cheap, it was an clugy experiment to test a reusable launch vehicle approach, hoping to find optimal solutions for the future based on the experience of the shuttle craft.

Meaning? Those ivy league geniuses where and still are clueless as how to develop a truly reusable spacecraft...
I don't think your tone is very appropriate here. You are basically insulting tens of thousands of highly intelligent, highly qualified scientists and engineers who have worked tirelessly for decades. No the shuttle never did live up to its political promises but to suggest from an armchair that this is poor effort is just arrogant and plain wrong.

Space travel is incredibly non-trivial. Unfortunately popular culture from the last half century has instilled this idea in people that if NASA just sorted its act out we could be hopping in and out of space as easy as taking a bus.

I don't think your tone is very appropriate here. You are basically insulting tens of thousands of highly intelligent, highly qualified scientists and engineers who have worked tirelessly for decades. No the shuttle never did live up to its political promises but to suggest from an armchair that this is poor effort is just arrogant and plain wrong.

Space travel is incredibly non-trivial. Unfortunately popular culture from the last half century has instilled this idea in people that if NASA just sorted its act out we could be hopping in and out of space as easy as taking a bus.
If you recall the original Apollo project was going to build a single craft approach! von Braun wouldn't tolerate anyone else’s criticism. One and only one guy knew it wouldn't work and no one would listen to him for fear of offending the "guy in charge" or thinking that such critisism is arrogant. Fortunately people around von Braun saw that the math didn't add up and that "arrogant" guy was vindicated.

Taking the next step from the Apollo approach would be to refuel in orbit, but that exercise hasn't even been tried yet and its been over 50 years of NASA telling us how they think it should be done!

The real world of NASA is about egos and politics. He who has the clout wins and good ideas are pretty much left behind and those with the good ideas are "armchair" enthusiasts.

Space travel won't just happen by throwing money at it and expecting results. Some things are not technologically feasible until new discoveries are made. These discoveries may not be thought of as related to anything for a while, like boolean logic. It took a while before someone realized you could use them in early computers(I mean the really early ones, like beginning of the 20th century).

Besides, they may be studying the spiders you mentioned for a reason. I hear that it's stronger than steel by weight or something along those lines.

Ryan_m_b
Staff Emeritus
If you recall the original Apollo project was going to build a single craft approach! von Braun wouldn't tolerate anyone else’s criticism. One and only one guy knew it wouldn't work and no one would listen to him for fear of offending the "guy in charge" or thinking that such critisism is arrogant. Fortunately people around von Braun saw that the math didn't add up and that "arrogant" guy was vindicated.

Taking the next step from the Apollo approach would be to refuel in orbit, but that exercise hasn't even been tried yet and its been over 50 years of NASA telling us how they think it should be done!

The real world of NASA is about egos and politics. He who has the clout wins and good ideas are pretty much left behind and those with the good ideas are "armchair" enthusiasts.
I don't know if any of what you said about one arrogant guy is true so I'd like to see a reference for that claim please, though it wouldn't really matter if it were true because it invalidates your point because all those "ivy leagers" were the ones to point out such a flaw. Secondly after Apollo (which by the way was a huge achievement, it got a man on the moon in nine years and was effectively invented from scratch) NASA wanted to continue Moon missions with new technology such as the proposed http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NERVA#NERVA_in_the_space_program"! Unfortunately the public and political will to fund these hugely expensive science experiments was waning and in the end NASA was forced to choose between them all and eventually went with the shuttle, reason being if they could experiment with and perfect launching to LEO the overall price of everything would plummet.

I bolded a section of that last paragraph because it is important to remember that above all NASA is a scientific institute. As such you cannot say "here are your 10 year goals and \$10billion" and expect all the goals to be magically met. Space travel is experimental, along the way there have been discoveries that it is far harder a task than people originally thought. But we learn from that progress and continue to improve, to suggest that since the apollo everything that has done has been a waste of money is just plain ignorant.

Lastly I let it slide earlier but I feel I have to comment on this;
we send people to ISS to watch cheap gadgets like the GM robot, a silently better version of the toy robots sold in toy stores, and spiders make webs, and the futile pursuit of dealing with zero gravity with drugs
That robot is a brilliant test bed for future robonaught technologies. Having primates along for the ride increases the complexity and cost of any space mission by orders of magnitude. If we could develop robots to do the same thing the cost and risk would plummet allowing us to do far more with far less. Spider webs and other such animal experiments are very beneficial in zero gravity, they tell us things like how embryonic development is affected by the lack of a gravity field which would be very important for future space colonisation (and there are a wealth of other reasons too). Lastly treatments for things like bone wastage under free fall conditions would be hugely beneficial on Earth for conditions like osteoporosis, indeed I have met people who work on regenerative medicines like this and get their funding from space agencies and industries. The technologies we develop for dealing with space also have great promise on the ground.

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Space travel won't just happen by throwing money at it and expecting results. Some things are not technologically feasible until new discoveries are made. These discoveries may not be thought of as related to anything for a while, like boolean logic. It took a while before someone realized you could use them in early computers(I mean the really early ones, like beginning of the 20th century).
That is not what I'm asking or from my tax dollars. Certain data should already be available to us such as:

What are the long term effects of exposure to the environment of space on polymers?

What kind of building approaches could be effective in space? Example: using a wifi network composed of low orbit communications satellites that provide continuous ground connectivity to specialized remote controlled robots for construction. Literally no need to air lift personnel to build a space station on a 24/7 schedule!

How effective is fuel generation using solar energy in space? For instance using electrolysis to separate Hydrogen and Oxygen in water.

Testing a small scale centrifugal gravity simulation platform.

How effective is hydroponics for growing plants for use of generating oxygen and purifying air in space. Note that an approach of using a dome that houses the hydroponic farm would be idea.

What kinds of clear polymers could be use to filter radiation such as ultra-violet light?

None of what I describe is in need of any scientific or technological break through!

Also note that I believe that JPL and NASA should be seperate entities. JPL's objective is to use as much as possible know technologies to explore the solar system and is not neccesserily promoting innovation as is the agenda of NASA.

I don't know if any of what you said about one arrogant guy is true so I'd like to see a reference for that claim please, though it wouldn't really matter if it were true because it invalidates your point because all those "ivy leagers" were the ones to point out such a flaw.
It was more of a political fight and there were letters written to the president regarding the flawed approach von Bruan was promoting.

Ryan_m_b
Staff Emeritus
That is not what I'm asking or from my tax dollars. Certain data should already be available to us such as:

What are the long term effects of exposure to the environment of space on polymers?
Which polymers? Who says there's no research on this?

What kind of building approaches could be effective in space? Example: using a wifi network composed of low orbit communications satellites that provide continuous ground connectivity to specialized remote controlled robots for construction. Literally no need to air lift personnel to build a space station on a 24/7 schedule!
That's hilarious considering earlier in the thread you criticised the current testing of a robonaut on the ISS.

How effective is fuel generation using solar energy in space? For instance using electrolysis to separate Hydrogen and Oxygen in water.
Why test that in space? It would be no different to doing it on the ground with the exception that the solar energy would be more powerful and the hydrogen and oxygen far less present. Besides that NASA already has done and continues to do lot's of research on this topic.

Testing a small scale centrifugal gravity simulation platform.
You mean like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nautilus-X#ISS_centrifuge_demonstration"?

How effective is hydroponics for growing plants for use of generating oxygen and purifying air in space. Note that an approach of using a dome that houses the hydroponic farm would be idea.
We could test that on Earth using rotating bioreactors to simulate the freefall (this has already been done by NASA).

What kinds of clear polymers could be use to filter radiation such as ultra-violet light?.
Again that can be tested on Earth very cheaply (and already is being investigated).

None of what I describe is in need of any scientific or technological break through!
Nor does it require some huge reorganisation of NASA.

I don't mean to sound like I'm having a go at you but so far you've started this threads, made accusations about the people that work at NASA, suggested what they have done is crap and done nothing to demonstrate that. In fact since I posted this ~10 minutes ago I've been editing it a bit because for every one of your points I have found extremely quickly just using google evidence that NASA has done and/or is still doing research on these topics. This makes me wonder just how interested you are in NASA and space science, if you were genuinely interested in what NASA is doing for these surely you should be looking them up.

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That robot is a brilliant test bed for future robonaught technologies. Having primates along for the ride increases the complexity and cost of any space mission by orders of magnitude. If we could develop robots to do the same thing the cost and risk would plummet allowing us to do far more with far less.
I agree with the idea of robotics not the implementation of what NASA subscribed to. The robot that GM produced is useless as a constuction device. Hands evolved as a general purpose appendage for tool making, but robots may be better off with an ability of haivng an appendage that directly interfaces to different kinds of tools, like a screew driver, wrench, simple clap, etc. Such a multi-tool approach allows for the immediate testing of space construction. The anthropological ressemblance of the robot is useless and more of an eccentric stunt. Also why use GM whose specialty is not robotics? There are better smaller companies that could do the job more ecconomically. Not to mention that the robot is no different than what has been developed by enthusiasts and private industry so I don't see why my tax dollars went towards an approach that realizes itself in virtually no real solutions to solving bigger problems of space colonization.

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Which polymers? Who says there's no research on this?

That's hilarious considering earlier in the thread you criticised the current testing of a robonaut on the ISS.

Why test that in space? It would be no different to doing it on the ground with the exception that the solar energy would be more powerful and the hydrogen and oxygen far less present. Besides that NASA already has done and continues to do lot's of research on this topic.

You mean like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nautilus-X#ISS_centrifuge_demonstration"?

We could test that on Earth using rotating bioreactors to simulate the freefall (this has already been done by NASA).

Again that can be tested on Earth very cheaply (and already is being investigated).

Nor does it require some huge reorganisation of NASA.

I don't mean to sound like I'm having a go at you but so far you've started this threads, made accusations about the people that work at NASA, suggested what they have done is crap and done nothing to demonstrate that.
Very little data of what I'm asking for is available and what you site is recent and is not being tested in a realistic approach that could answer the questions. What you state could be done on earth is laughable because it doesn't answer the question of how the effects of space are a factor. Also the testing of the centrifugal platform should have been done by now, which is my point...We didn't get our tax dollars worth.

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Ryan_m_b
Staff Emeritus
I agree with the idea of robotics not the implementation of what NASA subscribed to. The robot that GM produced is useless as a constuction device. Hands evolved as a general purpose appendage for tool making, but robots may be better off with an ability of haivng an appendage with the capacity to interface to different kinds of tools, like a screew driver, wrench, simple clap, etc. Such a multi-tool approach allows for the immediate testing of space construction. Also the robot is no different than what has been developed by enthusiasts and private industry so I don't see why my tax dollars went towards an approach that realizes itself in virtually no real solutions to solving bigger problems of space colonization.
I've edited my post a bit since you responded to it so you may want to look back. My advice to you would be to ditch this idea of solving the bigger problems of space colonization (although various US departments still have workshops for looking into those wicked problems). As for robonaut 2 it is a test bed for future operations, the reason it has human hands is because this way multiple sets of tools don't have to be shipped up. Instead the humans and robot can share the same tools, the spinoff technologies from this elsewhere in the world (improving robot dexterity and increasing our biomimicry capability) could be huge. Lastly if you are going to teleoperate a robot it would be far simpler to do if it was humanoid, it's not that hard to build a toolbox into it's chest but it would be very hard for a human to control a robot with two hundred tentacles all with different tools. As well as this NASA already has a tonne of experience in producing robots with custom made tool arms, just look at any probe that's ever been sent to Mars!
Very little data of what I'm asking for is available and what you site is recent and is not being tested in a realistic approach that could answer the questions. What you state could be done one earth is laughable because it doesn't answer the question of how the effects of space are a factor. Also the testing of the centrifugal platform should have been done by now, which is my point...We didn't get our tax dollars worth.
You can drop the we, not everyone on this site (including me) is American. No we can't reproduce all the conditions of space all the time but we also don't need to all of the time. Tell you what, instead of vaguely complaining that your tax dollars weren't spent right because the progress you want hasn't been made why don't you start posting, with references, specific policies that NASA has adopted over the last half a century and provide, with supporting evidence, better paths that they could have taken (excluding those paths that we can only see in hindsight).

I know that this is the GD forum but above all this is a science website and there are standards; provide evidence for your claims.

Posters please note that future posts will be moderated and possibly deleted if they don't comply with the conditions stated immediately above. Too many discussions over NASA and space issues degenerate into discussions of unsubstantiated personal feelings/theories.

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DoggerDan
These days, manned space exploration is a very expensive love affair, not a viable endeavor on either a scientific or business basis.

As a former diver, I've seen what happens when non-divers try to design hardware for use underwater. If it does work, it doesn't work well, which is why nearly everything we use down there has been designed by, or in consultation, with a diver.

The difference between diving and space exploration is that we need divers to build things underwater. We do not need astronauts to place satellites. We do need them to augment space exploration, but do we really need manned space exploration at all? For what purpose? Because it's there and we haven't been to Mars or established a permanent colony on the Moon?

Many are in love with the idea of doing so, but from a business perspective, it's a no-go. On the other hand, if someone had a viable solution for being the world's power from the Moon as generated by fusion, then let's hear it. That might be viable.

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These days, manned space exploration is a very expensive love affair, not a viable endeavor on either a scientific or business basis.

As a former diver, I've seen what happens when non-divers try to design hardware for use underwater. If it does work, it doesn't work well, which is why nearly everything we use down there has been designed by, or in consultation, with a diver.

The difference between diving and space exploration is that we need divers to build things underwater. We do not need astronauts to place satellites. We do need them to augment space exploration, but do we really need manned space exploration at all? For what purpose? Because it's there and we haven't been to Mars or established a permanent colony on the Moon?

Many are in love with the idea of doing so, but from a business perspective, it's a no-go. On the other hand, if someone had a viable solution for being the world's power from the Moon as generated by fusion, then let's hear it. That might be viable.
I agree that manned space flight for the purpose of exploration and constuction is unneccesary. But if my tax dollars have been spent to develop such technologies than I'm asking where's the beef?

Again I ask why was GM given the task of making the robots for NASA?

Look at what others are doing:

Compared to Robonaunt 2's capabilities:

http://www.wired.com/autopia/2010/02/gm-nasa-robonaut-2/

Just the use of motion capture technology for robotics is leaps and bounds ahead of anything NASA is doing.

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Ryan_m_b
Staff Emeritus
These days, manned space exploration is a very expensive love affair, not a viable endeavor on either a scientific or business basis.

As a former diver...
It's even worse than that. Imagine if to get to the sea you had to pay a toll of several thousand dollars per kg. There are two arguments I can see for people in space

1) To gain experience of how to keep humans alive in space

2) As inspiration to the public

Never underestimate the last one. If the public are inspired by space then politicians will capitalise on it to get votes and funding will flow.
I don't see how this supports your claim.
Again I ask why was GM given the task of making the robots for NASA?
Look at what others are doing:

Compared to Robonaunt 2's capabilities:
http://www.wired.com/autopia/2010/02/gm-nasa-robonaut-2/

Just the use of motion capture technology for robotics is leaps and bounds ahead of anything NASA is doing.
Youtube videos do not count as a comprehensive comparison! Show some evidence. Where are the technical specifications for all these robots and very importantly you should ask yourself why NASA is using Robonaut 2. I could easily show a video of a buggatti veyron and then compare it to the lunar rover and say "what's NASA doing?" but it ignores the role NASA's equipment is filling.

Robonaut 2 has highly dexterous hands, is quite strong and can operate in space. All those other robots are interesting at most, I doubt any of them could sit on the side of a space station and use human tools.
I agree that manned space flight for the purpose of exploration and constuction is unneccesary. But if my tax dollars have been spent to develop such technologies than I'm asking where's the beef?