Science Friday: Apollo 11 40th Anniversary Edition

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11: man’s first trip to the moon. This week, we celebrate the event with an Apollo 11 edition of Science Friday! Relive the mission in real time and celebrate with Star Trek. Go to the moon, Mars, and beyond with Steve Squyres. Join a team of rogue NASA engineers in designing a better rocket for manned space flight. All this an more plus our gadget of the week: EATR.


Celebrate Apollo 11’s 40th Anniversary with Trek and More
Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the launch of man’s first mission to the moon, Apollo 11. And, even as we speak, the LCROSS/LRO mission is returning to the moon for the first time in four decades. Returning to our nearest planetary neighbor has been touted as a possible stepping stone to Mars and beyond, not to mention the great possibilities for scientific research and expanding our knowledge of the universe. In April, President Obama addressed the National Academy of Sciences, and made these remarks about the Apollo program:

The Apollo program itself produced technologies that have improved kidney dialysis and water purification systems; sensors to test for hazardous gasses; energy-saving building materials; and fire-resistant fabrics used by firefighters and soldiers. And, more broadly, the enormous investment of that era – in science and technology, in education and research funding – produced a great outpouring of curiosity and creativity, the benefits of which have been incalculable.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, the Kennedy Center Concert Hall is hosting a free concert, Salute to Apollo: The Kennedy Legacy, which includes various themes from Star Trek and other sci-fi shows.

Plenty of others are celebrating including one website called, a real-time interactive recreation of the events of Apollo 11 as they happened 40 years ago. Look through all kinds of things like images and video from the mission, an interactive mission tracker, and a feed of "live" transmissions from the spacecraft. Everything displayed is to the minute as it was 40 years ago.

Celebrate Apollo 11’s 40th anniversary

Steve Squyres: Mars Rover Guy Wants Humans on Moon, Mars
Forty years after the first manned moon landing on asked Apollo astronauts and leaders of the space community to ponder the past, present and future. Steve Squyres, lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Rover Project and a professor at Cornell University, is an avid fan of human space flight though he works on one of the most successful robotic missions to space, and is optimistic about humanity’s chances of getting back to the moon – and even to Mars – in the coming decades. Here is an excerpt from their interview: What do think of the direction that space exploration took between Apollo and now?

Sqyures: Well, there has been a period that we’ve gone through since Apollo, where we’ve focused on doing things in low-Earth orbit. I think that makes a certain amount of sense, because the next leap beyond going to the moon is a very big one.

I am very excited at the prospect of astronauts not just going back to the moon, but in the near future I hope, going on to explore near-Earth asteroids, going on to explore Mars and so forth. And so what I’m looking to is the future and hopefully, I want to see during my lifetime, astronauts not just back at the moon, but at asteroids. I’m hoping to see that.

Read the full article at

Steve Squyres wants YOU for human space exploration!

Rogue NASA Engineers Design a Better Rocket
It’s no secret that there is a new initiative to get humans back on the moon and soon. A group of rogue NASA engineers have anonymously started a project of their own to develop the new launch vehicle for getting people into space after the retirement of the space shuttle in 2010. The DIRECT launcher system would replace the separate Ares-I Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV) and Ares-V Cargo Launch Vehicle (CaLV) with one single "Jupiter" launcher, capable of performing both roles. This change to NASA’s architecture completely removes the costs & risks associated with developing and operating a second launcher system, saving NASA $19 Billion in development costs, and a further $16 Billion in operational costs over the next 20 years. The group’s website cites the following as advantages to their system:

  • Shorter "gap" after the Shuttle retires (3 years vs. 5)
  • Earlier return to the Moon (2017 vs. 2019)
  • Delete all risks associated with a second new launch vehicle
  • Delete all costs associated with a second new launch vehicle
  • Optimum use of the existing NASA & contractor experience
  • Enable multiple upgrade paths
  • Greater range of safety alternatives for Crews

The only problem with DIRECT is that NASA doesn’t seem to be buying into the idea. Why not? Well, it is hard to say at this point, but there are no current plans to use this system.

See much more at

Video of the Week: Mysterious Arctic Goo Floats Through Alaskan Waters
A gooey substance floating off Alaskan waters in the Arctic Sea is mystifying local officials and the U.S. Coast Guard. Samples have been collected of the gunk, which was first noticed by hunters from Wainwright. The Anchorage Daily News reports the thick and dark substance has appeared in the Chukchi Sea between Wainwright and Barrow.The U.S. Coast Guard says the substance is not an oil product. I think it’s aliens, personally.

Gadget of the Week: EATR the Not-So-Flesh-eating Robot
The Pentagon has contracted a Maryland company to develop a robot that powers itself with organic material. Intended to be deployed in war zones, the Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR) would use that biomass to drive a steam engine. Moving through the battlefield, the hungry ‘bot would gobble up "whatever organic material it can find," says one report. That includes grass, wood, old furniture — but not "dead bodies" as being reported by,, and CNET News. Robot Technology, Inc., the bot’s creators, released a statement yesterday setting the record straight by saying, "This robot is strictly vegetarian." Cyclone, the company behind the engine, have also made a statement about EATR’s dietary needs:

“We completely understand the public’s concern about futuristic robots feeding on the human population, but that is not our mission,” stated Harry Schoell, Cyclone’s CEO. “We are focused on demonstrating that our engines can create usable, green power from plentiful, renewable plant matter. The commercial applications alone for this earth-friendly energy solution are enormous.”


Turns out EATR is as harmless as a Furby. . . I take that back. Furbies are freaking scary

If you are on Twitter, you know there are plenty of amazing people out there tweeting away. And, many of them are scientists! Every Friday I’ll be bringing you a new list of great scientists and techies to follow on Twitter. This week…

  • @therealBuzz: Astronaut, Apollo XI, Gemini 12, Doctorate from MIT in astronautics, married to Lois Aldrin for 21 years. Korean War veteran – fighter pilot of 66 missions
  • @ReliveApollo11: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum relives highlights from Apollo 11 mission to the Moon 40 years later.
  • @DirectLauncher: DIRECT is an alternative approach to launching missions planned under NASA’s new mandate: The Vision for Space Exploration (VSE)

Science Quickies
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a look.


TrekMovie’s Science Friday is an homage the the great NPR radio show Science Friday. Science Friday® is a registered service mark of ScienceFriday Inc.

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I was a kid in 1969 and i remember having my binoculars and looking at the moon with my friends. With a little kids imagination, to this day, I swear I saw Neil thru my binoculars walking on the surface of the moon. I still get chills when I hear the words, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”

Apollo is what got me into Star Trek.

Go to freakin’ Mars already!!!

But who’s to say that the EATR won’t develop a taste for human flesh? And then living bodies? I see a movie coming out of this if not a robotic zombie invasion. I don’t want a robot that can eat things anywhere near me, the dog or my flower garden, thank you.

On the other hand, New Jersey’s landfill could power them for a lifetime.

Oh, and to see a funny early prototype of a moon suit being tested, check out this Life cover from 1962…

Wohoo I have a Furby xD

Furbies are out to kill us!!!! I know several who are self-aware, not even kidding. And they will bite your finger.

I remember being fascinated by the images when I watched them live back in 1969. I’d like us all to be that inspired again.


Sailors who truly braved tha’ unknown…

Me Gods! By Crom, that moon coulda been filled wit’ malfunctionin’ Jolene Blalock sex dolls cravin’ plushy atmosphere suits…

What exactly be on tha’ dark side o’ that moon? I think it be an iPod and Blackberry factory…

I gots me own moon… I drop me pants ta’ a tired spacey program…

Send NASA’a money ta’ tha’ inner city develop’ment projects and urban renewal… and in-country energy pursuits…

And see what be on me dark side o’ me moon… it likely be a Spacey Shuttle tattoo… blastin’ off wit’ hope ta’ undiscove’d countries… in tha’ far future though when we’ve solved these here terror’estrial problems…

God bless Buzz and, o’ course, me favorite Armstrong! O-HI-O!


“The only problem with DIRECT is that NASA doesn’t seem to be buying into the idea. Why not?”

NASA = Never A Straight Answer

Someone had to say it. ;-)

Hey i can see it now. mean and vicious Tribble Vs the Furbies. it is so cool to see Armstrong on the Moon. I just can’t wait to see us back there again. We need to go.

I was 12 years old when Armstrong set foot on the moon, and in my young, excited, optimistic mind, I believed the world was on the verge of incredible things. I’m afraid that when I contemplate the future of mankind, I do not see us creating a Star Trek-ian kind of world, exploring the stars, discovering strange new worlds. Instead, I see a world where ordinary human beings are being exploited and over-run by their leaders and so-called representatives, leading to a kind of “acceptable slavery.” Honestly, how will mankind ever reach for the stars when there is more concern about wealth, power, and control than anything else? I believe the 60’s — including the landing on the moon — was a potential turning point for humanity… but like a flame that had just begun to take hold, it was quickly snuffed out. Instead, we got terrorism, war, financial collapse due to greed… all the sorts of things that lead to destruction, rather than transcendence.
I do not see any Bright Light in the world, leading us toward the kind of world we see in Star Trek, unfortunately. I can certainly choose to feel optimism, but the evidence before my eyes suggests that would be a fantasy.

When I think it has 40 YEARS since we first set foot on the moon, I get very angry and emotional.

40 YEARS that we have squandered away.

And now they have the friggin’ nerve to say we might be back there in another 10 years!! We had a very good working system 40 years ago that did the job well. You mean to tell me we can’t upgrade/retrofit the original system designs with todays exponentially better,smaller, lighter technology and get it done in 2 or 3 years? When the current iPhone can perform 100 TIMES the functions of the computer system used in the original system? Give me a friggin break!

How many of you, like me, watched Space:1999 in the late 70’s and thought, yeah, that might be possible by then. We should have had an established base on the moon by ’79, and sent a manned mission to Mars by ’99, at the very least! At our current pace, if someone wanted to do a remake/reboot, it would have to be called Space:2069.

Where did we lose our way? When did we lose the drive, the desire, the “get it done” mentality we had in the 60’s?? When did we lose those “human” drives of exploration, expansion, and pushing our limits to see if we can do it?

As a 10 year old boy in ’72 when I discovered Trek in syndication, that’s what hooked me for life. The potential. The possibilities. That’s what allowed me to dream, as a 10 year old boy. Even then, I realized I would never see it. But I thought I would see the beginnings in my lifetime. Sadly, as a now 47 year old man, my dreams are crushed as far as the future of humanity. I may live to see a manned mission to Mars. I’m less optimistic about seeing an established Mars Colony, or even a Mars Base, in my lifetime.

The 10 year old in me says WTF?? What happened to my dreams??

Sorry for the rant, but this whole topic makes me angry, disappointed, sad, and very, very frustrated!! 40 YEARS just squandered away…..

As kids we were expecting something along the lines of “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Instead, we got something a lot closer to “Soylent Green.”

#12 –

Seems we’re both feeling the frustration, posting almost at the same time.

I was only 7, but I distinctly remember being glued to my grandmothers B&W television. It’s a moment that will forever be burned into my mind. I also felt your optimism, and now share your pessimism.

#14 –

Another great memory of my optimistic youth, lol. I was 16, in ’78, when I saw it for the first time on a UHF station that did a science fiction movie every Saturday. I remember thinking that was all very possible in 23 years! If only the adults wouldn’t have f****d it all up…….

That’s what we need, more BIO GOO! YES!!

Well done as always, Kayla. }:-D>

The future is never what you thought it was going to be. The Jetsons we are not.

Walter Kronkite just died. Under his watch he followed the space race very closely, being the one to be in front of the cameras during the great Apollo 11 landing when Armstrong uttered those famous words.

Broadcasting has lost a legend tonight.


Wow, Walter Cronkite, a true admirer of the Apollo program. He let us live the dream through his eyes. When he felt excited, we all did. Rest in peace sir.

Wow. And how poingant on this day, of all days. The last of the greats. The end of an era, in many ways. He will be missed. It’s all downhill frome here……..

@1: that’s exactly what I did too — looked through binoculars trying to see the astronauts.

Maybe someday in the future we’ll have supersonic jets and flights to the moon… like we used to.

Walter Cronkite’s passing is a huge milestone.
He will be missed. The trend in broadcast journalism for years now has been what I call “infodocumentarymercials”. It’s a crazy word to describe a crazy situation in the world of broadcast news. It’s not about news anymore, BTW…
There used to be standards in this business and Cronkite helped set them.
Cronkite’s excitement about the space program is something that I remember well, and miss. NASA needs to honor his memory by going with the Direct Launcher and getting Americans back on the Moon ASAP!!

While I too salute and applaud the remarkable achievments of Apollo 11, I am also saddened at the lack of progress since then. Many of us had hopes and dreams of higher aspirations, and we’ve been let down.

In the words of the most trusted man in America, “and that’s the way it is.” Walter Cronkite, you will be missed.

DIRECT is living in the past. The studies to use Shuttle hardware for other applications like the payload version “Shuttle-C” was discarded long because its is simply not the best solution to the problem. Direct wants to use the shutte main engines on an expendable stage. So they want to tell us that one of the most expensivve and complex parts of the STS, the engine (which is so complex and expansive because it is built to be reusable) should be used as a throw-away article? Thats simply crazy! And after spending millions of dollars to develop and flight test the direct project we have to stop the program because we ran out of engines? Or have to spend millions and millions more to build new ones? But this is more expensive per Flight then the Ares I conecept of NASA, which is the wohle point.
Have trust in NASA and its engineers and give them the money to do their job with Ares I AND Ares V.

I think it is more important to give the space programm every support that it urgently needs to get the goals of the Constellation program realized instead of fighting of proposal where the decision has already been taken. There is currently a review taking place that will decide the future of the Constellation programm and if the dream of moon, mars and beyond will get finaced or if the US will only have a 3 person capsule for low earth orbit like the chinese…

Didn’t Mulder give Scully an Apollo 11 coin for her birthday in the episode “Max”‘?

Ahh… makes me all warm and fuzzy inside just thinking about it.

I concur.


When the first guy goes on Mars I’ll be watching on and HD flatscreen
TV in color- When you saw Neil and Buzz do the moonwalk it was fuzzy, in black & white, and on one of the clunky TV’s.

“One man step for man, one small leap for giantkind.”

A bunch of friends of mine and I will do a big Apollo 11 anniversary barbecue on Monday.

RIP Walter Cronkite!
What a pity he couldn’t celebrate the 40th anniversary.

I disagree with the notion that we have “squandered” or lost our way over the last 40 years.

Of course, I wish that we had gone further and faster by now. But the signifigance of what was done can’t be ignored.

We built the Space Shuttle, the worlds first and only reusable space vehicle, and the most complex flying machine ever built. It is also the fastest machine to ever carry humans. There is no vehicle that can lift the payload the shuttle can, which is also a remarkable acheivment.

The International Space Station is not only the largest structure ever built in space, but the most complex. It is the first space vehicle able to house six long term residents and more in an emergency. If the shuttle were damaged during lift off, the crew has a safe place to stay in space.

There are robots on Mars – Spirit and Opportunity — that have inspired and awed. These machines have truly gone where no one has gone before , and the science we have received will be with us for decades.

Further, consider this: we have learned a lot in the intervening 40 years about space and what it would take to go to the Moon and Mars. We have better technology than we did in the 1970’s and 1980’s. When we finally do return to the moon and go to Mars we will be glad that we have that information. Why? Space travel is dangerous.There is always a possibility that a mission will end in failure. However the more knowledge that is accumulated about dangers and challenges makes the possibility smaller.

Lastly, I think that many would agree that we want a permanent presence in space, including Mars and the moon. The Apollo missions were not that. We simply were not prepared, and are still not prepared, for a long term presence on a another planet. We are in a better place for that now, thanks to the hard work of those involved in the last 40 years.

25… “Direct wants to use the shutte main engines on an expendable stage. So they want to tell us that one of the most expensivve and complex parts of the STS, the engine (which is so complex and expansive because it is built to be reusable)”

Frank, the Space Shuttle Main Engine is only hugely expensive because it is reusable and NASA didn’t have to buy as many of them as a throwaway engine. If you built as many SSMEs as you did RS-68s (the engine now planned for Ares V and in use on Delta IV) the price comes down considerably. SSME will always be more expensive than RS-68, but that higher cost buys you a lighter engine with a better thrust/weight ratio and higher ISp (a measure of engine efficiency) which in turn means the rest of the rocket (the propellant tanks) can be smaller and lighter.

And by the way, keep watching NASA’s Ares V rocket. Its looking more and more like it will be switching from the RS-68 to the SSME, too, due to base heating issues with the ablatively-cooled RS-68.

25. “DIRECT is living in the past. The studies to use Shuttle hardware for other applications like the payload version “Shuttle-C” was discarded long because its is simply not the best solution to the problem.”

No, that’s not true. Shuttle-C had advanced to the point of production go-ahead when it was canceled in 1990 (first flight was planned for March 1995). But it was not canceled for any fundamental flaw in its design or high cost, it was canceled to pay for yet another big cost overrun with Space Station Freedom.

DIRECT, however, isn’t related to the Shuttle-C studies. DIRECT derives from a National Launch System (NLS) design study in the late 1980s and early 1990s. NLS was the military’s program to replace its aging Atlas and Titan rockets with a new family of launchers. NLS succeeded a more ambitious program called ALS (Advanced Launch System) which originated after the 1986 Challenger disaster. NLS didn’t die because it was the ‘wrong solution’, it was killed along with most other military procurement programs in the Defense budget slashes of the Clinton era.
NLS was replaced by the much more modest Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program… today’s Atlas V and Delta IV.

What happened in the past 40 years ? POLITICS, plan and simple….
The govt ended the space race as it wasn’t in the nation’s best interest….
( Translation – It cost too much money so lets do something cheaper )
NASA responded to this by staying in low earth orbit, cheaper then going to the moon again, but not as interesting to nerds like us….
We wanted to go to Mars and beyond and for it to happen before we died of old age…. However this wasn’t what the bean counters in Washington D.C. wanted and they were the ones with the final say in the whole matter.
Sad, really that we’ve come so far Tech Wise yet we’re still no further then we were in 1969 as far as mankind exploring space goes, pity….

I still remember watching the Moon landing when I was nine years old. my brothers birthday was 3 weeks away and for his 8th birthday our grampa gave him a wooden sculptured Apollo Rocket that one of my grampas students made in the woods class that he taught.

As I just typed that line my brother who works at Lockheed Martian one the Ares 1 that test launches for real around his birthday. I had to take time out to show him the (Space) Direct page link. Gave him a PDF and video copy on CD to show at work. He said many there have herd rumors but Martian likes to keep blinders on Engineers so their minds stay focused on the job.

Then as he was getting ready to do a 6 hour Saturday shift our cat comes in and jumps up on the computer desk with a young black bird in her jaws. Like offering , see what I brought you for lunch today. She does not eat them but likes to let them lose in the house so she has a live toy to play with.

Wonder if she’ll like the Furby with a yellow beak, at least they do not leave feathers around the house.

Now to do some info digging on the (space) Direct plan. I do not see why they did not modify the Shuttle System. I know the engineers excuse, we need to keep the Rocket boys brains active and keep their hands nimble thats why waisting $10 billion is better.

The only good point of the Constellation program I see over the Direct program is maybe in the dark bowels of NASA is a hidden ION thrust space program. Because in 2050 we need ION rockets to get beyond the asteroids. And we need the Space elevator to get them into space for less than a grand, it beets the $150,00 a year training and about the same to get them up there.

How about we give Japan the Constellation program, that will scare Kim Jong Iii with his atomic fire crackers and bottle rockets and go for the Space Direct Rocket program.

Maybe with the extra $10 billion we could train and pay for 10,000 good private doctors.

Wow 10:00am to 1:00pm, three hours on one letter, thank’s to DSL direct connect and UPS power.

31: The Space Shuttle is an impressive piece of technology. But overall, I think, the Shuttle program was a terrible failure. Two ships lost! Each flight (including maintenance afterwards) incredibly expensive, instead of the planned cost effective re-usable orbital transport. And what was achieved? They could have lifted Hubble into orbit with an unmanned rocket as well, etc.
NASA would have been much better off, IMO, if they had kept SkyLab and used Apollo capsules to carry astronauts into orbit.

it figures that FoxNews would report that the goo would feed on human bodies. Anything to get ratings.

#31 –

In other words, complacency, caution, and no risk-taking have become the norm at NASA.

Big, splashy showpieces like the Shuttle and ISS have become the norm, despite being ridiculously expensive and often inefficient, not to mention not even being remotely cost-effective. The Shuttle is being scuttled next year, with the next-generation Shuttle no where to be seen. If it was such a great achievement, why is that? When the ISS is completed, we will have a bigger, flashier version of Skylab, some 40 years later.

At the beginning of the 60’s we were not prepared to place a man on the moon, either. But we decided to do it, and got it done, safely and effectively in less than a decade. Sure there were risks, fatal and near-fatal accidents. But all involved accepted the risk and said “let’s get it done”. The right stuff, indeed.

I’m glad our political leadership and the people at NASA at the time didn’t share the current mindset of NASA today.

Oh me God! Some cat just let loose a blackbird in me room! Arrrrrrrrrrrr!

It be crappin’ on me blueprints o’ new NASA rockets powered by me BND BRAND GIN… Send me ta’ space… I dunna need much oxygen and can poo in a wee sandbox…

I think it be best ta’ take care o’ terre’strial concerns right now and forget aboot all this space nonsense… we have not even gone outta a low orbit since tha’ last Apollo! ‘Sides thar’ be Borg out thar’….

Look, money foolishly spent on NASA can be used in other ways to help people right here, right now. Alas, the gov’ment would surely spoil any denied NASA funds on thar’ “Ted Kennedy Pantsless Statue” fund.

Oh, well… such be life… maybe some Vulcan lass oot thar’ will kidnap me and force me ta’ do her laundry fur’ awhile… least I can only hopes…

Though, I fear, by me first contact, I may already have been ass-imalated…

Pass tha’ Prep H….

Space is disease and darkness wrapped in silence…

Unless ye’ got a surfboard torn from Darkstar’s hull… then space is all Yippeeeeeee!


Oohhhhh! That BND be such a wanker!

He’d rather be in Nassau than NASA…


NASA’s current plan is to return to the moon, TEN YEARS FROM NOW, lifted into space by a rocket. With a command capsule and a lunar lander. Do a walkaround for a day or two, maybe leave behind a science station or a robot, and return home. Forgive me, but didn’t I see that movie 40 years ago? But I must wait 10 years, at least, to see it again? By then, it will be 50 YEARS squandered away…….

** RIP **

Walter. Thank you.

Interesting article:

This stuck out for me:
“The Orion/Altair spacecraft are basically high-tech updates of Apollo, he said. The method of getting to the moon and returning would be exactly the same: the two craft would dock in Earth orbit and travel to lunar orbit, where Altair would detach from Orion and land on the moon. For return to Earth, the top half of Altair would blast off to rejoin Orion, the pair would travel back to Earth orbit, and then the Orion crew module would re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and splash into the ocean.

The only difference, he said, was that the Altair lander was much heavier than the Apollo lander, so a separate rocket — the proposed heavy lifter Ares 5 — would need to hoist it into orbit.”

Some great progress in 50+ years, huh?

Well, I can see we — including me — are indulging in being arm-chair NASA directors. It’s pretty darn fun!

Here’s what I was getting at:

First, I don’t think we really had enough information to go to Mars, even with a temporary Apollo style “visit and leave” program. I think it would have been tragically illustrated. For example: I don’t think we knew anything aout the radiation levels that exist on Mars until the recent probes. What would have happened to any program had the astronauts landing on Mars in the 1980’s died from radiation poisoning during the trip? It would have caused the space program to take a huge step back to where we are right now, which is sending unmaned probes to find out more about conditions on the planet.

This goes hand-in-hand with issues about technology. Not one person posting today has brought up the big issue: water. We STILL have not figured out how to get enough water to the moon for a permanent presence there. We have only recently – as a result of sending the unmaned probes – have discovered evidence of water on Mars. We have yet to find out if any of Mars’ water is suitable for drinking. Can you imagine the cost of sending enough water along with the astronauts for an Apollo-style mission to Mars? Then what happens if the water supply is compromised?

Only through a steady program of robotic exploration and development of adequate technology will we be able to eventually establish a permament human presence in space.

But damn, I wish it was going faster. Shouldn’t a man already have landed on Saturn? :)

If we still had the will, we would have found a way. That’s my whole point. Somewhere along the way we lost the will.

The probes to Mars could have been sent in the late 70’s or early 80’s, twenty years earlier than they were actually sent. They may have been inferior to the recent probes, but could have given basic information, such as the radiation you cite, as well as temperature fluctuations, oxygen content, etc. The missions would be adjusted accordingly.

Supplies of water can be sent ahead of any mission. Either left in moon orbit, or landed on the moon at the landing site. The same goes for Mars. If the water delivery fails, we would know in advance, adjust the mission, and try again. Adjustments would be made, until we got it right. It would be expensive for sure, but would be dwarfed by the cost of the Shuttle program.

40 years ago, the Apollo 11 Mission found a way to land men on the Moon and return them safely to Earth. With adequate water for a week long mission and protection from radiation. Do you honestly believe, if we had the will and desire, we couldn’t have found solutions years ago?

As someone recently said “I challenge you to do better”. Sadly, we have not taken up that challenge.

41. Brian Kirsch… “NASA’s current plan is to return to the moon, TEN YEARS FROM NOW, lifted into space by a rocket. With a command capsule and a lunar lander. Do a walkaround for a day or two, maybe leave behind a science station or a robot, and return home. Forgive me, but didn’t I see that movie 40 years ago? But I must wait 10 years, at least, to see it again? By then, it will be 50 YEARS squandered away”

Yes, we did it forty years ago. And then we threw away the capability to keep doing it. We didn’t even finish Apollo, instead we left two flightworthy Saturn Vs to lie around as lawn ornaments. Now, finally, we are preparing to return. And guess what? Very little of the old technology can still be built. No one builds rocket engines with slide rules anymore. Blueprints are in computers instead of on paper. Old companies are gone, having been merged, acquired, or just gone out of business in the last 40 years. The people who built Apollo and Saturn are long since retired. So we have to start all over again.

Some things look the same. Orion looks like a scaled up Apollo because we know the Apollo shape works and the laws of physics (cue Scotty) haven’t changed in the last forty years.

Other things have changed. Constellation will use two launches (NASA calls it 1 1/2 but fools no one) instead of one. That way we don’t need to launch a giant Saturn V-like rocket just to send a crew to the Space Station (which the early missions will do.) But Ares V will be just as big as Saturn V, so two launches (or 1 1/2) send up roughly half again as much capability as an Apollo mission. This lets the Altair lander be much, much bigger than Apollo’s Lunar Module. Altair will be big enough to delivery modules and reactors for a lunar base.

Orion itself is bigger than Apollo, but its service module is smaller. Why? Because the propulsion system and fuel for Lunar Orbit Insertion is now in the Altair lander instead of the Orion. This means Altair can go to the moon all alone, which will prove handy when we just need to deliver cargo or base modules to a lunar base.

And why must we wait ten years? Because NASA didn’t get any additional funding to do it. Instead, we have to wait for the Shuttle to retire and its $3 billion per year budget to become available for Constellation (assuming Congress and the President don’t take it for health care reform and bank bailouts… a very real possibility.)

39 BND: “Look, money foolishly spent on NASA can be used in other ways to help people right here, right now.”

It’s true that we must address our problems of right here and now. But I don’t think that we should neglect long-term concerns like the exploration of space because we, surely, have more urgent concerns. With that mindset we forfeit progress in the long run, IMO.

Do you recall the dream after the moon in the early 70’s, it was Mars by the 90’s and beyond the Asteroid Belt in the 21st century. As we know they were just dreams, but why were they dreams only. A big wake up call came with Apollo 13, then those that thought that NASA was being to Military like or in Klingon terms Everyone is proud to die for the right to better things that follow. In political terms those that think life does not begin until you slap the babys butt to bringing breathing air think that those that make some thing of themselves need never die to make things better, So we’ll use this money not giving people the right to die making things better, but to make the life of couch veg’s only need to worry about the remotes battery’s draining.

So they spent the money mot on pace but on earth, in jobs that gave them more self power. There is one thing they fail to see. Mammals (biology class taught us humans are mammals also) need free open space’s to conquer or the brain becomes stagnate and Rabies sets in. Keeping Humans on Earth only gives them more power with our taxes feeding them. If you look at Terrorism, it can be defined as a mild form of Rabies. To cure this flaw in Human life and prevent us from getting to the point of foaming at the mouth we need free open space to conquer.

I know politics is not liked as subjects here, but it is a major aspect of our space programs, would it not be great if it could return to it’s benign status it was in before the space program’s began. But the money to get us to the moon was all a political game of who’s going to take 1st place. We can survive with the USA in second or third place, but now that we are in first place can we live in happiness in any other lower ranking.

To remain in first we need to see our future dreams of space flourish. And to do that we need to start teaching ourselves how to control technology before lawyers and government sue us into failure. So next Big Mac think I’ll spend that money on space and go make your own sandwich instead, it may even taste better because you made it not a factory and you know you are providing for yourself.

There were several episodes of TOS where Kirk would explain to a primitive race that humans LEARNED how to cooperate with each other, and not destroy themselves. Certainly, this characteristic is what is needed to tackle a tremendous adventure such as space travel. We can have all the latest, greatest technology, but none of that amounts to anything if we can’t get along. Currently, the world is a fragmented mess… quite the opposite of what we see in Star Trek. In Star Trek, we see humanity working together, cooperating with each other, embracing each other, without the urge toward power, control and suppression over each other. The “tribalistic” attitudes that still dominate many societies are being hung onto in the face of all humanity coming face-to-face, primarily because of technology (especially via the internet and forums such as this). But the Star Trek-ian vision suggests that human beings have grown, or evolved beyond the need to use such technology as a tool for perpetuating their differences, bickering over every little thing, criticizing others, stooping to the level of name-calling, and so forth. 21st century man is really not very far evolved beyond the level of adolescence, taking the opportunities of technology such as the internet for granted, and, frankly, just screwing around. To launch mankind into real space travel, and into a Trek-ian kind of society will require a tremendous leap in human seriousness, intelligence and consciousness… but WHO amongst those who “lead” this world (and all its nearly 7 billion people) is proposing that we commit to such an evolution? Forget about commitments to go back to the moon, or go to Mars, or whatever… Humanity, altogether, needs to grow up if it is ever going to accomplish the kind of world we see in Star Trek. This is the message of Star Trek, isn’t it?

In responce to Mr. P Techno…

Working together in peace is the answer, man learned this when words became stronger than the club, but then in ways money brought the club back, but in another form. This because more paper (the wooden club in another form) leaves fewer dead and bloody decaying bodies.

This in tern mad us humans as Madonna sung it Material Girls. When we trade this human desire in for the power of Knowledge humanity may mature from teens into young adults. The last change this big was when we went from clubs to paper money giving power. That converted humans from toddlers to teenagers. The Ice age converted us from infants to toddlers.

When we find life out there we will age again into full Adulthood. In the Trek Universe this happened when Zeffrim Cockren (sp?) did Warp drive and brought Vulcan’s to Earth. And us humans became a married family when Star Fleet was born.

Who knows if that will happen in reality, but those are great dreams to have. I hope they do not vanish like the 70’s dreams after the Moon landing. The best way to not let it happen is to have us Trekkie’s/Trekkers voice our views to follow Roddenberrys dreams.