After a rollercoaster year for NASA, it looks like Congress isn't quite done tinkering with the space agency's future. A return to the moon is back on the table after a Florida congressman introduced a moon-centric bill in the House of Representatives, which he's calling the "Reasserting American Leadership in Space Act," or the REAL Space Act. Really.
"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall plan to return to the Moon by 2022 and develop a sustained human presence on the Moon," the bill says, in no uncertain terms. The goal is to promote exploration, commerce, science, and American "preeminence in space," the bill says.
In fairness, the bill spells out some convincing reasons why NASA should boldly go where it went 42 years ago — chiefly as a stepping stone for the future exploration of Mars and other destinations.
Also, "space is the world's ultimate high ground, returning to the Moon and reinvigorating our human space flight program is a matter of national security."
A moon base had been NASA's goal since 2005, you may remember, after President Bush directed the agency to develop a new rocket and crew transportation system that could go back to the moon and eventually to Mars. President Obama ordered a review of these plans upon taking office. The Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee, also known as the Augustine commission after its chairman, Norman Augustine, determined NASA didn't have nearly enough money to accomplish the goal. Obama's new course for NASA initially ditched the entire Constellation program, including the Ares rocket, but was later tweaked to include funding for a heavy-lift launch vehicle of some kind.
The problem is, there's no clear destination for that heavy-lift rocket, and even the commercial spaceflight companies developing new crew vehicles on NASA's behalf aren't sure where they would go. Many space exploration advocates insist that NASA needs a destination, not just a journey. Obama has dismissed a moon mission, saying "We've been there before," but some still believe the moon is a viable option for just that reason. Plus, it has plentiful resources — although this fact is strangely absent from the new bill, sponsored by Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla.
Cosponsors include Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah; Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas; Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas; and Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va. All of the above represent districts with an interest in ongoing NASA space exploration, but Wolf's support is interesting because he chairs the appropriations subcommittee that covers NASA activities. H.R. 1641 has been referred to the House Science, Space and Technology committee.
The bill basically follows Obama's vision, loosely defined as exploring elsewhere in the solar system: "A sustained human presence on the Moon will allow astronauts and researchers the opportunity to leverage new technologies in addressing the challenges of sustaining life on another celestial body, lessons which are necessary and applicable as we explore further into our solar system, to Mars and beyond," the bill reads.
It simply states that NASA funding should be aligned in accordance with this goal.
With members of both parties still hammering out a federal budget, additional spending to go back to the moon seems as likely as, well, a trip to the moon. But Posey, advocating for the bill earlier this month, said a clear mission for NASA is necessary.
"Without a resolute vision for our human spaceflight program, our program will flounder and ultimately perish," he wrote in an op-ed published in Florida Today.
Should the moon be part of that vision? What do you think?
Spoiler: it is not going to happen. But the Pentagon will have a lot more weapons by 2022.
It probably won't happen when NASA does it alone, but if everyone pitches in, even with just a teeny moon mission, it'll be done quicker. Personally, I think all of our money should be pointed more in the direction of space instead of weaponry. But maybe we should keep some weapons in case we get attacked by some angry conspiracy mobs.
If NASA can't be put on a path to do something worthwhile with measurable results, it should be nixed entirely. Humanity needs to exploit every foothold in space it can, and not only is the Moon one such foothold, it is one with known resources that is located conveniently nearby.
How is NASA going to do anything worthwhile when they are given a "new direction" every 2-4 years? Long term planning is hopeless as long as Congress continues to change its mind after every election.
I think the moon would be a valuable rescource, and you'd think it would pay for itself in time.
Here's an idea. How about another ISS but for the moon? Make it the IMS - International Moon Station.
It would cost a ridiculous amount of money to maintain living people on the moon. We can barely fund a space station in orbit. A Moon base would consume all funds intended for Mars. It is not a “Stepping Stone” and we wouldn’t stop there on the way to Mars or anywhere else. Historically, there is a difference between a base and an outpost.
What would they do there, walk around and explore? We’ve done that. There is nothing there so valuable that it would be worth blasting off from the surface to bring back to earth to sell.
The best way to develop technologies for going to Mars is to go to Mars, not someplace else.
The moon is the right choice. It is close enough to become economically self significant. It has abundant mineral wealth and life supporting elements. If your goal for mars is a one time Apollo on steroids like Zubrin campaigns for than yes the moon is a distraction. But if your goal is to colonies mars and the rest of the solar system than the moon is a required steeping stone and an immensely fortuitous resource.
@PhilInYork yes paying $1b per shuttle mission and $63m per seat with Russia we can just barely afford to maintain the ISS with the alloted funds. But with the cost to orbit about to drop under $1k/kg and $20m per seat on a lunar capable capsule we will soon be able to forge ahead with lunar development with little or no increase in allotment.
Our sister planet we will soon live on your surface and share in the bounty you have to offer life's blossoming expansion into the universe.
Even though NASA alone won't be able to go anywhere anymore, it needs a clear path ahead, to let companies know, which technologies are required in the next few years. You need different rockets to start from Earth - huge gravity, atmosphere - compared to Moon. It may not be the most valuable for resources, but it is necessary to build a launchpad up there.
a permanent moon base is the first step for humanity to eventually leave earth, this is essential for humanities long term survival, NASA is doing great things helping private space flight to get off and running, NASA is here to stay, contrary to the NASA bashers, NASA and companies like SpaceX are working together now and will be for the forseable future, instead of bashing NASA how about reading up on all the good things they have done, are doing and will be doing, politics are the problem, not NASA
Now that the congress has got our attention again let’s see if they follow through with this.
@ PhillnYork…There is plenty of money to be dolled out by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The question is how much is going to be given for this project? The U.S. military budget for 2010 alone was 663.8 billion.
If this project was funded at 5 billion a year that would only be 0.75% of the military budget for 2010…not even 1%.
I think if you gave Bigelow Aerospace the contract for the lunar housing units and Space X the transportation contract they could do quite a bit with 5 billion dollars a year.
We as a planet need another "Space Race". Competition always spurs advancements. Let us have another Kennedy moment and claim that we will be the 1st to have a moon base, and then let the chips fall where they may.
Without proper motivation, nobody will step up.
Lets get the ball moving, or in this case, the rockets rocking...
competition in private industry is the key, no need for a space race between nations, the global economy will do the trick in the long term
I would like everyone to pause and take a long look at this photo. Notice the shadows. The shadow coming from the Lander rises gently up to the right. The shadow from the astronaut falls slightly downward. With the sun being the source of light being the source and one point of light, it does not make sense. Now I am not saying we did not travel to the moon and his photo is fake and staged. No, I really believe we landed on the moon. For one simple reason, if we had faked everything, all the other countries in the world would of called “FOUL” and it would be known. My question is how is it possible that these shadows go into different directions? There must be a logical explanation.
If you think of the billions of dollars wasted on three ongoing wars(Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya) and then add in the so-called war on drugs and the billions that is wasted there. We could not only easily fund a base on the moon, but we could have people on Mars as well.
We could also, have better infrastructure, better healthcare system for all and many more things.
Also notice the rock, stone below the astronaut. The top of the shadow goes downward and the bottom part of the shadow goes straight back. Base upon these 3 objects. I have to say a very small point source of light was center left of this picture. Now how could that be?
Curious, where in the background are the stars. There is no atmosphere. The back ground should be overwhelmed with bright stars. Anyone who has been on a ship in the middle of the oceans knows the sky is overwhelming bright with abundance of stars. Being on the moon, the effect would even be greater. I do not even see ONE star in the background. How odd. How could this be? Nothing? This is not a black and white photo. It does have the colors of the flag too.
I am just looking for a logical professional scientific explanation from an experience photographer; that’s all. I am not trying to cause a lot of ranting. I just really want to understand how this photo is possible.
FYI: The American Flag and its pole produce no shadow, nothing, none, zip.
"There is plenty of money to be dolled out by the Senate Appropriations Committee."
The United States is $14 trillion in debt.... comments like that quoted above amount to whistling passed the graveyard.
Only anime... but the future's already been predicted in part thanks to human nature.
“Narrator: With high expectations, human beings leave Earth to begin a new life in space colonies. However, the United Earth Sphere Alliance gains great military powers and soon seizes control of one colony after another in the name of *justice* and *peace.* The year is After Colony 195.” ~ Gundam Wing
Bubba, the photo was exposed for the bright surface of the moon, not the pitch blackness of space... haven't you ever used a camera? You expose for shadows, or highlights, but not both. Both would require multiple exposures. There are 'no' stars in the image because the stars are much less bright, overall, than the surface is. If you exposed for the stars, the foreground itself would likely expose the entire sheet of film, or overexpose the sensor.
Mythbusters already disproved all claims that the photos were faked.
They showed how shadow deflection happens and makes the light source seem wrong, they explained how the flag waved with no wind, they explained the footprints. And to cap it all off, and not many people know this, but the lander module has a special reflector built into it, when hit with a large laser, you get a pulse back, which they showed.
So all the "we didn't go it was faked" bs can stop.
Also, just remember that the photo tech 40+ years ago sucked compaired to day's tech.
Photo tech may have sucked, but film worked the same, and still does.
And to complement your comment, here is a site that debunks all hoax claims.
I know from taking a photo of a friend on earth at night, the shutter speed is fast to make a clear picture and the film is slow, typically leaving out stars.
I was not trying to debunk the moon landing. But I did want a good explanation of this picture. I do assume NASA has a better camera than me and film.
Like I first said early on, if landing on the moon was faked, the all the other countries of the world would cry "FOUL".
Also none of us really know the shape of the land and this can cause an optical allusion in shadows.
This is just a very odd looking picture. But being on the moon too, is a very odd place to be taking a picture. Being a earthling, I naturally try to apply earth perceptions to a non earth place, so the picture seems naturally seems odd.
@shutterpod, sorry dude, but that's not 100% true, photography as a whole has changed. Both in film and camera techs. I assume with a name like shutterpod, that you are a photography fan in some nature, you can't sit there and tell me that the equipment is the same then as it is now. Everything from manufacturing to processing film based photography has advanced since the above photo was captured and you know it.
@bubba, you are correct in that the shadow fall is odd, but it's an easily explainable and duplicatable on earth.
just do a search for "Mythbusters moon landing" and you'll see the video/images where they duplicate the odd lighting with a single light.
But I expect taking a picture on the moon and being on the moon to be odd; wouldn't ya think!