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The Reasonable Cost of Putting Humans on the Moon


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#1    Lionel

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Posted 14 January 2004 - 08:30 AM

user posted imagePresident Bush's trial balloon for sending humans back to the Moon and on to Mars is, naturally, becoming politicized. Critics question whether America can afford a bold new space initiative at a time of fiscal disarray back home."It is not worth bankrupting the country," said Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean.Of course it isn't. And it need not.Setting up a permanent base on the Moon -- Bush is expected to call for a return in about 10-15 years -- and then reaching for Mars does not require any outlandish hike in NASA's budget.Beyond a modest 5 percent increase that Bush will reportedly announce Wednesday, getting people beyond Earth orbit means shifting the existing budget from arguably ineffective and unpopular programs -- crippled shuttles and a leaking space station -- into building a new generation of space taxis and otherworldly habitats.

To be successful, the reorganization plan should be swift and severe.

Instead of spending billions each year to circle the Earth, Bush should quickly redirect the same billions to an effort singularly focused on getting to Mars, with the Moon as an important step.

Unfounded fears of a money pit abound. An editorial in the Washington Post, for example, faults Bush for thinking of ambitious spaceflight plans at a time when there are serious social and economic concerns.

But comparing the value of human spaceflight to the need for jobs or improved healthcare looks at the whole issue of how to spend federal money from an absurd perspective. It's like asking whether schools should offer sports programs or focus entirely on reading, writing and math.

The question of whether to put humans on the Moon and Mars should be viewed strictly in terms of how best to spend a reasonable chunk of science and exploration dollars, not in comparison to other important government programs. All the while NASA's budget must remain reasonable -- not much more than the tiny fraction of overall federal spending that it is today.


user posted image View: Full Article | Source: space.com

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#2    bathory

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 05:22 AM

how does one bankrupt a country that is already trillions of dollars in debt?


#3    lazybones

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 06:46 AM

well, thats exactly how he sends a country into bankruptsy.. wanting to travell to other planets. money should be spent here on this planet before visiting another..
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#4    Novo

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 02:34 PM

Bush is really.. Dr.Evil! and he is trying to rebuild his base on the moon so he can take over the world!!!!

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#5    shirini

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 06:25 PM

It's great that someone is finally taking look at the space program again, but we still have a long way too ago here on earth!


#6    Homer

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Posted 16 January 2004 - 06:25 AM

QUOTE (bathory @ Jan 15 2004, 12:22 AM)
how does one bankrupt a country that is already trillions of dollars in debt?

The amount of debt is relative. For example, the U.S. national debt is fast approaching $7 trillion, however the GDP is about $11 trillion. These are not exact figures, but very close considering the amount of money we're talking about.

The national debt is the single largest debt the U.S. has, and putting these figures in a more understandable light, it's like a family income earning $110,000 annually can easily afford a mortgage of $70,000.

To answer the question that is asked, a country becomes bankrupt when it can no longer afford the interest payments on it's loans, and then defaults on those loans(more accurately it declares bankruptcy to prevent the loan from defaulting). Since interest rates are relatively low, and have been low for years, we're looking at interest payments on the debt at only about 5% of our GDP, and it's most likely less than that.

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#7    Blood Angel

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Posted 16 January 2004 - 12:59 PM

I think perhaps it may be a good idea, expansion is always a good idea. Think of this for the moment:
A moon base is setup, eventually a colony. Mining of the moon produces trade, as well as tourism. The same with mars, it has great mineral wealth, and tradewise it would be good to exploit this wealth.

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#8    DreamRebel

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Posted 16 January 2004 - 03:49 PM

[Edit] Post removed


#9    Nancy

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Posted 17 January 2004 - 08:44 AM

Out of curiosity, how many of you that have replied, actually read the entire article?

QUOTE
Setting up a permanent base on the Moon -- Bush is expected to call for a return in about 10-15 years -- and then reaching for Mars does not require any outlandish hike in NASA's budget.

Beyond a modest 5 percent increase that Bush will reportedly announce Wednesday, getting people beyond Earth orbit means shifting the existing budget from arguably ineffective and unpopular programs -- crippled shuttles and a leaking space station -- into building a new generation of space taxis and otherworldly habitats.

The question of whether to put humans on the Moon and Mars should be viewed strictly in terms of how best to spend a reasonable chunk of science and exploration dollars, not in comparison to other important government programs. All the while NASA's budget must remain reasonable -- not much more than the tiny fraction of overall federal spending that it is today.

The 2004 federal budget is $2.2 trillion. NASA's is $15.5 billion. Reasonable estimates suggest the space agency's share of the pie would need to rise gradually to $20 billion within a few years if footprints are to be made in Martian dust within a generation.

Home is correct in his interpretations concerning the budget.

Something I do not do is "toot my own horn" but may I suggest taking a peek at my latest Editorial "This n That #17"  ....  "Man's Footprints." The reason I suggest this, is that it contains many specifics on how previous Space endeavours have enriched our life here on Earth.

It also points out that Bush may rise or fall by his revamped Space Program initiative, being this is an election year. Note, the comment regarding "bankruptcy" in the "Reasonable Cost" article was made by an individual who is attempting to replace the sitting President. I am not showing political preference here, just asking you to consider the "source." Many, MANY things have created the deficit here in the US, including what happened to this Country in September 2001.

It is difficult to think in terms of "billions of dollars" when the average person's income must be divided with the "Peter to pay Paul" concept, including myself.

I am also on Disability, at the lowest end of the Food Chain, yet in my "gut" I feel the medical advancements made in the past as well as those to be made subsequently are worth considering expansion of the Space Program.

I live not far from The Kennedy Space Center and can attest that many are concerned about additional job loss as a result of changes that will be necessary to revamp NASA and its Sub-Contractors. However, additional jobs will be created and expanded, assuming NASA rethinks its culture. Having been put into the International Spotlight once again, NASA has no choice but to comply, and comply ASAP!

What happens above us will directly impact what happens here on Earth in so many ways, for the better. Will the return on investment be immediate? No... but is it ever?

Just some food for thought............
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#10    wunarmdscissor

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Posted 17 January 2004 - 11:26 AM

Who cares about debt?

Im about to sound extremely immature, but dont any of you realise how cool it would be if humans reached mars in our lifetime.

Put away your anti-american views on this an agree that it would be some achievement, truly monumental if they did it and i think we should back them all the way  thumbsup.gif  thumbsup.gif

I for one can't wait. GO NASA!!

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#11    Byuu94

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Posted 18 January 2004 - 02:22 AM

Uh......,The money's not going anywhere, the money spent on the program will go back into the economy. It's like WWII.

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