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Bush To Announce US Return To Moon

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  • Joe (uuk) McGonagle
    I wondered how long it would take the USA to react to China s recent advances in their space programme. This can only be good for space exploration in my view.
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 5, 2003
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      I wondered how long it would take the USA to react to China's
      recent advances in their space programme. This can only be good
      for space exploration in my view.

      Via UFO UpDates.
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: William Wise <w.wise@...>
      To: ufoupdates@...
      Date: Thu, 4 Dec 2003 08:53:37 -0500
      Subject: Bush To Announce US Return To Moon


      Source: The National Review

      http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/powell200312030858.asp


      December 03, 2003

      Milky Way Days
      Returning to the new frontier

      By Dennis E. Powell

      When President Bush delivers a speech recognizing the centenary
      of heavier-than-air-powered flight December 17, it is expected
      that he will proffer a bold vision of renewed space flight, with
      at its center a return to the moon, perhaps even establishment
      of a permanent presence there. If he does, it will mean that he
      has decided the United States should once again become a space-
      faring nation. For more than 30 years America's manned space
      program has limited itself to low Earth orbit; indeed, everyone
      under the age of 31 - more than 125 million Americans - was born
      since an American last set foot on the moon.

      The speech will come at a time when events are converging to
      force some important decisions about the future of American
      efforts in space. China has put a man in orbit, plans a launch
      of three Sinonauts together, and has announced its own lunar
      program. The space shuttle is grounded, and its smaller sibling,
      the "orbital space plane," may not be built. The International
      Space Station, behind schedule, over budget, and of limited
      utility, has been scaled back post-Columbia.

      The content of the speech does not appear to be in doubt; the
      only question is timing. While those who have formulated it have
      argued that it be delivered on the anniversary of the Wright
      Brothers' first powered flight, there exists a slight
      possibility that it will instead be incorporated in the State of
      the Union address at the end of January. This has its own, less
      triumphant, significance, which is in the form of a chilling
      coincidence. Every American who has died in a spacecraft has
      done so within one calendar week: The Apollo 204 fire on January
      27, 1967; theChallenger disaster on January 28, 1986; and the
      loss of Columbia on February 1, 2003.

      If the president goes ahead with the plan to announce an
      ambitious new program to carry Americans beyond Earth's
      immediate gravitational pull, he will argue that the new lunar
      explorations are justified not only for what they themselves
      might produce but also as a means of developing the technology
      and skills necessary for a mission to Mars, which is expected to
      be mentioned, though in less-specific terms, in the address.

      Observers might note a familiar ring to the proposal. On July
      20, 1989, President George H. W. Bush marked the 20th
      anniversary of the first Apollo moon landing with a speech at
      the National Air and Space Museum in Washington in which he
      called for a permanent American presence on the moon and,
      ultimately, a mission to Mars.

      That address led to the formation of a group called the "Space
      Exploration Initiative," headed by Vice President Quayle and
      NASA Administrator Richard Truly, which in the spring of 1991
      released a report, "America at the Threshold." It set a long-
      term goal of landing Americans on Mars, with space activities in
      the interim leading up to that goal. First, it recommended,
      would be "Space Station Freedom" - now the ISS - followed by a
      return to the moon, in large measure to develop and test systems
      for keeping people alive on a Mars journey. The development of
      rocket boosters more powerful than the mighty Saturn V that
      lifted Apollo astronauts to the moon would be necessary, the
      report said, as would development of nuclear systems for
      providing power aboard in-transit spacecraft, and nuclear-
      powered rockets, to be employed outside Earth's atmosphere,
      where they could be used on long missions without the need to
      carry enormous supplies of conventional rocket propellant. None
      of the recommendations was carried out as envisioned at the
      time; the only one that got off the ground at all is the space
      station.

      The president's speech could breathe new life into a moribund
      space program whose recent history has been beset by
      disappointment and failure. The space shuttle proved neither as
      reliable or as inexpensive as its proponents had promised. In 18
      years of flight (the shuttle was grounded for 30 months
      following the Challenger disaster, and has been grounded since
      the loss of Columbia February 1), half of the original shuttle
      fleet has been lost to catastrophic failure, along with 14
      astronauts. The cost of a shuttle mission has hovered around
      $500 million despite early claims that it would be much less and
      would allow payloads to be carried aloft for as little as $50
      per pound. The launch schedule has been unreliable, with many
      space customers wondering if their satellites would ever get to
      orbit; in some cases satellites have remained on the ground so
      long that their power supplies ran down and had to be replaced
      before launch. The shuttle program has been so frustrating to
      scientists that it was characterized by Bruce Murray, former
      head of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as "a giant WPA in the
      sky."

      Some critics say the space station offers little or nothing
      more, with a far-higher price tag. It is "international" as to
      the origin of some of its parts and some of its crew and, while
      the shuttle is grounded, the craft used to ferry the maintenance
      crews and supplies, but most of it is paid for by the United
      States. Some critics have argued that it is less a space station
      than an extension of the State Department.

      Charles Krauthammer has noted that an orbiting United Nations is
      unlikely to be any less foolish than one fixed on planet Earth.
      "The moon and Mars are beckoning," he wrote in January, 2000.
      "So why are we spending so much of our resources building a
      tinker-toy space station? In part because, a quarter-century
      late, we still need something to justify the shuttle. Yet the
      space station's purpose has shrunk to almost nothing. No one
      takes seriously its claims to be a platform for real science."
      Establishment of a permanent moon base and research and
      engineering work toward a flight to Mars would certainly
      replenish the idea of a space program engaged in real
      exploration.

      Whether a return to the moon would spark the public's
      imagination as it did in the 1960s is unknown. The world was
      transfixed July 20, 1969, as Apollo 11 landed and Neil Armstrong
      became the first man to stand on a celestial body other than
      Earth. But public and political enthusiasm for the moon soon
      waned. There were five more landings; the final three lunar
      shots were canceled. The last moon flight was in December 1972.
      No human has achieved escape velocity since.

      A new space initiative would face numerous hurdles, including
      congressional Democrats who in the present political climate
      would be likely to challenge a presidential declaration that the
      sky is blue. Additionally, congressional distrust of NASA is
      vigorous on both sides of the aisle following the Columbia
      accident. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R., N.Y.), and Rep. Ralph
      Hall, (D., Tex.), recently asked that NASA stop work on the $13
      billion "orbital space plane," a smaller, cheaper space shuttle,
      until Congress and the president agree on NASA's goals. Others
      in Congress have argued that the space shuttle should remain on
      the ground permanently. The fact that a revamped space program
      would employ many people - especially in places such as Silicon
      Valley, where unemployment among engineers is high - might blunt
      much criticism, however.

      There are ideas and proposals that could offset concerns as to
      the value of returning to the moon and, perhaps, traveling
      beyond. Geologists are eager to take lunar-core samples, which
      could tell much about the solar system's past and how the moon
      itself was formed. It has recently been suggested that sunlight
      collected on the moon and beamed to Earth could provide a no-
      pollution source of power. Bill McInnis, a leading NASA engineer
      before he resigned in despair over shuttle-safety issues and
      ultimately took his own life, long lobbied for a return to the
      moon and talked of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence
      and the folly of putting our antennae on Earth. "The signals
      we're looking for are so weak that the effects of somebody
      turning on a light a hundred miles away are stronger," he said.
      "The place to do it, the place to be free of Earthbound
      interference - that's the other side of the moon. The moon is
      the ultimate space station, it is where we can really learn
      things." Certainly, long-term lunar experience would facilitate
      a trip to Mars.

      NASA's budget has been far short of lavish since the last time
      the agency was aiming for the moon. The president has remarked
      to members of the White House space group that he does not favor
      a huge increase in spending for NASA projects. Whether he has
      changed his mind, and the extent to which he is willing to sell
      an ambitious new program of space exploration remains to be
      seen. If Bush does deliver the speech as planned, it would be
      another opportunity for him to finish business left pending when
      his father left office a decade ago.

      - Dennis E. Powell is a freelance writer, currently at work on a
      history of the space-shuttle program.




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