Why Going Back to the Moon Matters

Assigned Reading: The Lunacy of our Retreat from Space
(FROM: National Review Online)


I know that this is a break from a lot of the topics that have been covered extensively here on America’s Right, but I believe this Krauthamer piece at the National Review is an important statement on American condition today.

Krauthammer outlines the sad state we find ourselves just mere decades after winning the space race and landing men on the moon:

America’s manned space program is in shambles. Fourteen months from today, for the first time since 1962, the United States will be incapable not just of sending a man to the moon but of sending anyone into Earth orbit. We’ll be totally grounded. We’ll have to beg a ride from the Russians or perhaps even the Chinese.

And then he describes the rationale for our return:

Why do it? It’s not for practicality. We didn’t go to the moon to spin off cooling suits and freeze-dried fruit. Any technological return is a bonus, not a reason. We go for the wonder and glory of it. Or, to put it less grandly, for its immense possibilities. We choose to do such things, said JFK, “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” And when you do such magnificently hard things — send sailing a Ferdinand Magellan or a Neil Armstrong — you open new human possibility in ways utterly unpredictable.

Our space program can’t restore our economy or protect us from terrorist attacks, but I believe it can restore a sense of national spirit and a remembrance of what it means to be an American. The ambition, unity, and optimism is something that this country could use right now.

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    We need to go back for two reasons; the first being the most important and the second not at all.

    1. We need that awesome HD footage of us touching down on the moon again being broadcast live to every television on the planet!

    2. To shut up the silly conspiracy theorists. i.e. the View women (aside from Elisabeth Hasselbeck)

  2. Rix says:

    Governmental scientific program like NASA space projects could be a great alternative way to inject stimulus money into economy than no-strings-attached handouts to unions and urban districts. Too bad NASA scientists and astronauts are too few, too busy to vote, and wouldn't break anyone's arm if the money is not delivered.

  3. CAVEMEN SUV'S says:

    Another little nugget of information for you: SUV's (allegedly) did not exist 55 million years ago BUT, according to scientists, they've found that there was indeed massive global warming 55 million years ago here on Earth. This little revelation prompted one scientist to wonder if all the current climate models are completely wrong. Time for Al Gore to fire up the propaganda machine and discredit another scientist!

  4. Anonymous says:

    save the money

  5. Jack Ott says:

    I totally agree with your assessment, but there is one huge impediment to accomplishing such an endeavor. The American public has become fat, dumb, but not necessarily happy. We are no longer receptive to the concepts of exploration and new challenges. We would much rather sit in our recliners and watch worthless trash such as Oprah and American Idol. We have long lost our appreciation of risk, yet unknowingly took the biggest risk in our country's history by electing an inexperienced socialist dolt for our president, one who promised to take care of us, give us security, and protect us from life's many challenges. Far too many of us now want our Nannies, not true heroes.

    America, we knew ye' well.

  6. Ian Thorpe says:

    There are many reasons for having the ability to travel beyond the atmosphere. The possibility of an asteroid on collision course is one. I'd rather a space station be out there somewhere to fire the missile to blast it into a different trajectory before it came too close.

    British MP Lembit Opik has been trying to raise awareness of that risk for years. He's in the news today following the asteroid / comet hit on Jupiter. Which gave my UK blog another chance to tease him mercilessly about his realationship with a singer from the pop duo Cheeky Girls.
    Lembit Opik collides with Jupiter

  7. GATOR-1 says:

    100% Robert 100%

    Having grown up on our nations "Space Coast" I've watched the missions take off from the Gemini program on.

    I Didn't miss an Apollo and sadly could even see the glow from the fire aboard Apollo 1.

    I was close enough on the day Challenger exploded to have had it fall on my head.

    My heart stopped for a moment when the next one finally flew at the words of…. Throttle Up.

    I miss them already. And aside from personal memories, the idea of not having a launch capable vehicle is just absurd IMO.

    I am still hoping that something will change and allow us to keep our shuttles at least available until our new program is underway.

    I hope for a lot of things these days and our Space Program is just one of them. I also hope that the next human on the moon is another American.

    Robert, You are correct, this is the kind of thing that can unite us. It is a shame we cant make it so every American could see a launch in person.

    It would only take one and their minds would be changed forever.

    BTW…You are doing a fine job here while the other.?. guy is off gallivanting Europe. Mighty Fine!

    What was his name?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Send a piece of lifeless satellite into earth orbit is one thing.

    Send a few persons into earth orbit and keep them alive is quite another thing much bigger.

    Send a few persons OUT OF earth orbit and reach the lunar orbit, and keep them alive is quite another thing much much bigger.

    Send a few persons OUT OF earth orbit and reach the lunar orbit, and then land on the moon, and then be able to re-launch from the moon, and be able to come back to earth, while keep them alive is quite another thing way much much much bigger.

    Russia leaded us in space rocket development, they still have much more powerful rocket than we have today. They could not pull off a lunar landing then and they still could not pull off a lunar landing today. And WE can not pull off a lunar landing TODAY. What make you think we could pull it off in 1969, a mere 7 years after first successful launch of an astronaut into the space. It was technologically impossible.

  9. Gail B says:

    Why has Obama not shown any interest in the space program?

    Because there are no people living on the moon. Otherwise, he'd have ACORNs up there!

  10. Ingorance or Contempt? says:

    Yeah, it will be inspiring to do something we did over thirty years ago! Come ON!?! The state of our space program is TRUE TESTIMONY to the fact that our nation is in total DECLINE. The worst part is, NASA is having a hard time re-creating the technology! Not only will we lose the capability to deliver, retreive and repair our space assets, but we will be going back to the most primitive forms of leaving and re-entering our own atmosphere! UNBELIEVABLE!

  11. ShaunB says:

    Four words: WE CAN'T AFFORD IT! This country is flat broke, now is not the time for farting around in space.

  12. Ladalang says:

    I'm not convinced we ever went to the moon. Pretty compelling evidence it was a hoax. So going for the first time would be a winner.

    Don't want to shock people if they haven't seen the documentaries about the staged landing. How about that stiff American flag.hmmm.

  13. Anonymous says:

    It really is an awesome topic to research and approach with an open mind. Picture technology 40 years ago. Brush off your High School physics and photography knowledge and just surf the net and research this topic. I guarantee you will come away with some questions. Not telling you to believe one way or the other, just for the exercise of it research it.

  14. Gail B says:

    Oh, y'all–it's a pun! Lunacy–moon!

    DUH!

    Well, at least no one had to explain it to me (this time)!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Space exploration is for countries SWIMMING IN SURPLUSES. NOT us.

  16. Anonymous says:
  17. Anonymous says:
  18. THE VIEW says:

    So is this why ALL we do for the last THREE decades is orbit the dang earth????

    "…Besides being a threat to satellite systems, energetic particles present a hazard to astronauts on space missions. On Earth we are protected from these particles by the atmosphere, which absorbs all but the most energetic cosmic ray particles. During space missions, astronauts performing extra-vehicular activities are relatively unprotected. The fluxes of energetic particles can increase hundreds of times, following an intense solar flare or during a large geomagnetic storm, to dangerous levels. Timely warnings are essential to give astronauts sufficient time to return to their spacecraft prior to the arrival of such energetic particles."

    The average orbit altitude of the space shuttle is 185 miles, below where the Van Allen shields begin. How were the Apollo astronauts protected against these deadly energetic particles and solar flares?

  19. Anonymous says:

    Building a MOTEL8 in orbit is a weird expenditure of billions of dollars.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Plain and simple:

    WE DON'T HAVE THE MONEY!!!

    Lisa in TX

    Word Verif: "noncent" = no money!

  21. Robert Wallace says:

    For those that think we don't have the money: NASA's annual budget has historically been around 16 – 17B for the last few years.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Budget

    US Defense spending has been around 700B. So, proportionally, we're talking about less than 10% of our defense budget.

    I believe that comparing it to defense spending is important because increasingly space defense matters. Either as components of a missile-defense system or merely the ability to defend our own satellites space will militarize. The Chinese have already demonstrated the capacity to burn out the optics of our spy satellites with ground-based lasers. How long before they can launch hunter-killer sats of their own?

    Space exploration is important for our national pride. It is vital to our national security. And it would offer substantial benefits to our economy.

    It should be a part of a balanced, responsible, Constitutional budget, although I would probably split NASA into a purely private venture and merge the rest into the DoD as either a separate division or a part of the Air Force.

  22. SKY ROCKETS IN FLIGHT.... says:

    Instead of putting astronauts in orbit, lets just send our money up there….. where the government couldn't get their grubby paws on it.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Send less expensive unmanned craft to faraway places (which we seem to do well)….. someone please tell me what putting expensive humans into orbit, ad nauseam, gains us.

  24. Anonymous says:

    16,000,000,000 to 17,000,000,000, before you know it you're spending real money……

  25. Anonymous says:

    Can we please change the term from astronauts to 'orbinauts'?

  26. Anonymous says:

    I can't pay the mortgage, I can't keep everyone in my family well, I'd like to college educate my kids, BUT, I sure want a shiny red Corvette with all the options. Same deal with a broke country wanting to play spaceman.

  27. CONTROL???? says:

    from ocii.com above

    "After watching these films, I have decided to study the lunar ascent and descent modules more closely. One of the areas that I am looking at is the stability of the lunar module in flight. Only a single engine is provided, for both the ascent and descent phases, right in the centre with the potential for a rapidly shifting centre of gravity to be off considerably from the thrust vector due to the design. Shifting centre of gravity due to fuel consumption and astronaut movement, and eccentric loading due to weight of rover or moon rocks, would result in an unstable and unbalanced craft. The ascent and descent modules have a significantly different centre of gravity yet they both use the same four sets of quadruple thrusters, giving different flight characteristics and handling. How can the quadruple thrusters fire quickly enough and sufficiently enough to counteract a quickly changing and significantly changing thrust vector? How can the system remain stable and not loop uncontrollably? The ascent stage engine was not gimballed, and the inherently off-center, large torquing thrust would have to have been constantly and very immediately counteracted by the small, low-thrust, quadruple thrusters. The craft has good potential to fly like a balloon you let go of and let deflate. I am currently attempting to obtain actual engineering drawings to perform detailed calculations."

  28. VERTICAL v. HORIZONTAL says:

    Shuttle orbit 185 miles vertical. I travel further horizontally to visit my mom.

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