China to put a man on the moon

China, the new America:

China has declared its intention to land an astronaut on the moon, in the first official confirmation of its aim to go where Americans last set foot nearly 40 years ago.

While Chinese scientists have previously discussed the possibility of a manned lunar mission, a government white paper published on Thursday is the first public government document to enshrine it as a policy goal.

China will “conduct studies on the preliminary plan for a human lunar landing”, the white paper said.

Although a manned moon mission is still some time off – Chinese experts say after 2020 – the statement highlights Beijing’s soaring ambitions just five months after the US retired its space shuttle programme . “Chinese people are the same as people around the world,” Zhang Wei, an official with China’s National Space Administration, said at a briefing. “When looking up at the starry sky, we are full of longing and yearning for the vast universe.”

According to the white paper, which serves as a blueprint for the next five years, China will develop new satellites, accelerate efforts to build a space station and strengthen its research in space. Laying the foundation for a mission to the moon, the government also plans to launch unmanned lunar probes and make “new technological breakthroughs” in human space flights by 2016.

via China push to put astronaut on the moon – FT.com.

Remember when we used to have grand ambitions like that, thinking we could do anything and then doing it?  Our last manned moon landing was in 1972.  Back then we were in a competition with the Soviets in a “space race.”  As the new and improved version of communism that China has devised outperforms us economically, I doubt that we will even care if China takes up where we left off in outer space.  For better or worse, we don’t have the same energy and optimism that we used to have.  Evidently, China has it.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Cincinnatus

    The more money they waste on pointless pissing matches, the less they have to do tangible damage to the interests of America and other nations.

    “Remember when we used to have grand ambitions like that”? What, ambitions to blow billions of dollars on unconstitutional space adventures? Yeah, I miss those days too…

  • Cincinnatus

    The more money they waste on pointless pissing matches, the less they have to do tangible damage to the interests of America and other nations.

    “Remember when we used to have grand ambitions like that”? What, ambitions to blow billions of dollars on unconstitutional space adventures? Yeah, I miss those days too…

  • Tom Hering

    Well, they want to show the rest of the world that they’re the equal of the U.S. And they want to make the point that we’re in decline while they’re ascendant. Plus, they want all the benefits that come from challenging themselves.

    I believe they’ll achieve their five-year goals in space. But a manned moon landing (probably in the 2020s)? I doubt their economy will hold up long enough for them to do it.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-16361389

  • Tom Hering

    Well, they want to show the rest of the world that they’re the equal of the U.S. And they want to make the point that we’re in decline while they’re ascendant. Plus, they want all the benefits that come from challenging themselves.

    I believe they’ll achieve their five-year goals in space. But a manned moon landing (probably in the 2020s)? I doubt their economy will hold up long enough for them to do it.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-16361389

  • Tom Hering

    The Founders never made provision in the Constitution for Americans going to the Moon! That settles that! (You libertarians are just too funny sometimes. :-D )

  • Tom Hering

    The Founders never made provision in the Constitution for Americans going to the Moon! That settles that! (You libertarians are just too funny sometimes. :-D )

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@3:

    I’m not a libertarian. Is anyone who happens to think that NASA’s adventures have been, at best, a waste of time and money and, at worst, unconstitutional crazy old libertarians like that moonbat Ron Paul? Seriously. Explain to me how, aside from providing entertaining spectacle, our government-funded space adventures have been “worth it.” I have lots of friends who, like Dr. Veith, bemoan our lost spirit of adventure, our withered national ambitions. It’s simply tragic that we’re no longer willing to spend many billions of taxpayer dollars on moon bases and Mars landings!

    But why? Why should we go to Mars? And, even if we should, why does Congress in particular need to fund it?

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@3:

    I’m not a libertarian. Is anyone who happens to think that NASA’s adventures have been, at best, a waste of time and money and, at worst, unconstitutional crazy old libertarians like that moonbat Ron Paul? Seriously. Explain to me how, aside from providing entertaining spectacle, our government-funded space adventures have been “worth it.” I have lots of friends who, like Dr. Veith, bemoan our lost spirit of adventure, our withered national ambitions. It’s simply tragic that we’re no longer willing to spend many billions of taxpayer dollars on moon bases and Mars landings!

    But why? Why should we go to Mars? And, even if we should, why does Congress in particular need to fund it?

  • Cincinnatus

    First sentence awkward. Should read: “Is anyone who thinks…a* crazy old libertarian…?”

  • Cincinnatus

    First sentence awkward. Should read: “Is anyone who thinks…a* crazy old libertarian…?”

  • Leroy

    Just wait until the Chinese kick over the American Flag and plant their own.

  • Leroy

    Just wait until the Chinese kick over the American Flag and plant their own.

  • Cincinnatus

    Leroy: They wouldn’t do that. But if they did, who cares? Would it offend your sense of American superiority? Enough to spend billions more in outdoing the Chinese?

  • Cincinnatus

    Leroy: They wouldn’t do that. But if they did, who cares? Would it offend your sense of American superiority? Enough to spend billions more in outdoing the Chinese?

  • Tom Hering

    “But why? Why should we go to Mars?”

    How do you know it’s worth it when you walk around a city you’ve never been in before, and decide to take a walk down the street on your left instead of the street on your right? You don’t, until you get there, and hang around for awhile. That’s the nature of exploration. So it seems to me the burden is on you to show that (manned) exploration hasn’t proven worthwhile, historically, across the centuries.

    And it’s okay with me if future space exploration is privately funded. Just recognize that what makes private space exploration possible, now, technologically, was government funding of space projects in the 1960s.

  • Tom Hering

    “But why? Why should we go to Mars?”

    How do you know it’s worth it when you walk around a city you’ve never been in before, and decide to take a walk down the street on your left instead of the street on your right? You don’t, until you get there, and hang around for awhile. That’s the nature of exploration. So it seems to me the burden is on you to show that (manned) exploration hasn’t proven worthwhile, historically, across the centuries.

    And it’s okay with me if future space exploration is privately funded. Just recognize that what makes private space exploration possible, now, technologically, was government funding of space projects in the 1960s.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom, you’re attacking an argument I haven’t made. I don’t care if people explore–streets, cities, oceans, moons, alien cultures, whatever. What I don’t understand is the nostalgia for massive (and, at the moment especially, unaffordable) public investment in these ventures. That’s not even to mention that troubling nationalistic hubris that seems to motivate such requests for public funding.

    When I decide to “walk down the street on [my] left,” I don’t expect a public subsidy to do it. The same should apply to all the space cadets who think we need to search for resources on asteroids.

    Also, the notion that private space exploration wouldn’t even be “possible” without the previous work of NASA is fallacious and unfalsifiable. Undoubtedly, the massive, concerted, mandatory, state-directed efforts of the sixties advanced space exploration faster than would have been likely otherwise. So what? What does that have to do with modern private space exploration firms? Are you suggesting that, somehow, only the United States government can invent the technologies necessary for space travel? Why? And, hypothetically, had space travel never developed if NASA had never existed, maybe that should tell us something about the worthiness of space travel.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom, you’re attacking an argument I haven’t made. I don’t care if people explore–streets, cities, oceans, moons, alien cultures, whatever. What I don’t understand is the nostalgia for massive (and, at the moment especially, unaffordable) public investment in these ventures. That’s not even to mention that troubling nationalistic hubris that seems to motivate such requests for public funding.

    When I decide to “walk down the street on [my] left,” I don’t expect a public subsidy to do it. The same should apply to all the space cadets who think we need to search for resources on asteroids.

    Also, the notion that private space exploration wouldn’t even be “possible” without the previous work of NASA is fallacious and unfalsifiable. Undoubtedly, the massive, concerted, mandatory, state-directed efforts of the sixties advanced space exploration faster than would have been likely otherwise. So what? What does that have to do with modern private space exploration firms? Are you suggesting that, somehow, only the United States government can invent the technologies necessary for space travel? Why? And, hypothetically, had space travel never developed if NASA had never existed, maybe that should tell us something about the worthiness of space travel.

  • Tom Hering

    “… had space travel never developed if NASA had never existed, maybe that should tell us something about the worthiness of space travel.”

    Or about the unwillingness of the private sector to take the really big risks “for all mankind.” :-D

  • Tom Hering

    “… had space travel never developed if NASA had never existed, maybe that should tell us something about the worthiness of space travel.”

    Or about the unwillingness of the private sector to take the really big risks “for all mankind.” :-D

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@10: Huh. Maybe you could expound to me the benefits a moon landing has accrued “for all mankind”–aside from inflating our breasts with chauvinistic national pride and giving us pretty pictures, of course. Spinoff technologies don’t count. Those could easily have been developed elsewhere. I want to know how, specifically, manned space travel has advanced the common–nay, in your conception, universal–good.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@10: Huh. Maybe you could expound to me the benefits a moon landing has accrued “for all mankind”–aside from inflating our breasts with chauvinistic national pride and giving us pretty pictures, of course. Spinoff technologies don’t count. Those could easily have been developed elsewhere. I want to know how, specifically, manned space travel has advanced the common–nay, in your conception, universal–good.

  • steve

    Cincinnatus, I don’t get why spin-off technologies don’t count. Of course they could have been developed elsewhere. But what would have been required for that to happen? Money and focus. That’s what we got from the Space Race and the myriad of technological advances that resulted from it. Forget how many lives have been enriched by these technologies; how many lives have actually been saved by them. I think it would be impossible to count.

  • steve

    Cincinnatus, I don’t get why spin-off technologies don’t count. Of course they could have been developed elsewhere. But what would have been required for that to happen? Money and focus. That’s what we got from the Space Race and the myriad of technological advances that resulted from it. Forget how many lives have been enriched by these technologies; how many lives have actually been saved by them. I think it would be impossible to count.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    But, but … Velcro And Tang!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    But, but … Velcro And Tang!

  • Cincinnatus

    steve@12:

    Fine. Spinoffs count. So what? Name a few spinoff technologies (not including Velcro and Tang) that are worth the hundreds of billions invested in the space program. Better yet, name a few that would justify continued investment in a massive public manned space program.

    Look, I get it. Space is cool. I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid. But when unemployment is 9%, when the national debt is about 100% of GDP, and when “our kids can’t read good,” I have a hard time discerning the public value of moon bases, men on Mars, and giant telescopes. If you want spinoff technologies and spaceships, find some venture capital and do it yourself.

  • Cincinnatus

    steve@12:

    Fine. Spinoffs count. So what? Name a few spinoff technologies (not including Velcro and Tang) that are worth the hundreds of billions invested in the space program. Better yet, name a few that would justify continued investment in a massive public manned space program.

    Look, I get it. Space is cool. I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid. But when unemployment is 9%, when the national debt is about 100% of GDP, and when “our kids can’t read good,” I have a hard time discerning the public value of moon bases, men on Mars, and giant telescopes. If you want spinoff technologies and spaceships, find some venture capital and do it yourself.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Here, let’s try Veith’s question out in a different context.

    Remember when we used to have grand ambitions, thinking we could do anything and then doing it? Like Social Security. Or Medicare. Or “Obamacare”. Or massive military interventions. Remember?

    For better or worse, we (especially the Republican/conservative “we”) don’t have the same energy and optimism that we used to have — but, except for the latter, other countries in Europe seem to have it.

    So, how’s it sound when attached to those programs? Seems to me that the typical conservative response (with which I would agree) would be “Sure, other countries may have more ‘optimism’ that they can pay for such things, but to their eventual economic downfall.” I would say the same (as did Cincinnatus @1) about China’s newfound “optimism”. Let them have it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Here, let’s try Veith’s question out in a different context.

    Remember when we used to have grand ambitions, thinking we could do anything and then doing it? Like Social Security. Or Medicare. Or “Obamacare”. Or massive military interventions. Remember?

    For better or worse, we (especially the Republican/conservative “we”) don’t have the same energy and optimism that we used to have — but, except for the latter, other countries in Europe seem to have it.

    So, how’s it sound when attached to those programs? Seems to me that the typical conservative response (with which I would agree) would be “Sure, other countries may have more ‘optimism’ that they can pay for such things, but to their eventual economic downfall.” I would say the same (as did Cincinnatus @1) about China’s newfound “optimism”. Let them have it.

  • steve

    Cincinnatus #14, it’s not just that there are scores of technologies from which we have benefited but these technologies need to be design, manufactured, and distributed. That means that aside from the benefit of things like artificial limbs, water filtration systems, fire-retardant materials, solar technologies, freeze-dried foods, and countless innovations in air travel, we have all of the jobs that go with making those things available to the public.

    Is the payoff worth the cost? I can’t tell you. I haven’t spent that much time investigating it. But my semi-educated guess would be that we reaped the benefits in lives saved and jobs created several times over.

  • steve

    Cincinnatus #14, it’s not just that there are scores of technologies from which we have benefited but these technologies need to be design, manufactured, and distributed. That means that aside from the benefit of things like artificial limbs, water filtration systems, fire-retardant materials, solar technologies, freeze-dried foods, and countless innovations in air travel, we have all of the jobs that go with making those things available to the public.

    Is the payoff worth the cost? I can’t tell you. I haven’t spent that much time investigating it. But my semi-educated guess would be that we reaped the benefits in lives saved and jobs created several times over.

  • Cincinnatus

    “But my semi-educated guess would be that we reaped the benefits in lives saved and jobs created several times over.”

    I have a feeling that this is the sort rock-solid logic that guides most politicians when crafting policy, especially the sorts of gigantic policies with innumerable unintended consequences that usually end up being massive abortions (e.g., stimulus bill).

  • Cincinnatus

    “But my semi-educated guess would be that we reaped the benefits in lives saved and jobs created several times over.”

    I have a feeling that this is the sort rock-solid logic that guides most politicians when crafting policy, especially the sorts of gigantic policies with innumerable unintended consequences that usually end up being massive abortions (e.g., stimulus bill).

  • steve

    Maybe this is another topic on which I depart from my more libertarian friends but I think the space program has been an overall good for the country. Surely, if I had to choose form a list of public welfare programs (which, in fact, are not fundamentally unconstitutional, though the ways they’re enacted may be), I would choose one that helps spur innovation and create private sector jobs over the one that hands out money for nothing.

  • steve

    Maybe this is another topic on which I depart from my more libertarian friends but I think the space program has been an overall good for the country. Surely, if I had to choose form a list of public welfare programs (which, in fact, are not fundamentally unconstitutional, though the ways they’re enacted may be), I would choose one that helps spur innovation and create private sector jobs over the one that hands out money for nothing.

  • Tom Hering

    Tang and Velcro? Puh-lease, don’t be lazy critics. What about the advanced metallurgy, medical research, and miniaturization of electronics that were required to get men to the Moon and back?

    How about a more detailed (but still only partial) list that includes light-emitting diodes, infrared thermometers, heart pumps, artificial limbs, aircraft anti-icing systems, chemical detectors, video enhancing and analysis systems, firefighting equipment, temper foam, enriched baby food, freeze drying, water purification, solar energy, pollution remediation, computer technology, structural analysis software, powdered lubricants, and the HACCP food safety regimen? You know, stuff that literally prolongs life, or improves the safety and quality of life, or just makes our lives run smoother.

    Bottom line: no bucks for space, no Buck Rogers for you. But maybe a quill pen and parchment world is what you prefer, per your politics? :-D

  • Tom Hering

    Tang and Velcro? Puh-lease, don’t be lazy critics. What about the advanced metallurgy, medical research, and miniaturization of electronics that were required to get men to the Moon and back?

    How about a more detailed (but still only partial) list that includes light-emitting diodes, infrared thermometers, heart pumps, artificial limbs, aircraft anti-icing systems, chemical detectors, video enhancing and analysis systems, firefighting equipment, temper foam, enriched baby food, freeze drying, water purification, solar energy, pollution remediation, computer technology, structural analysis software, powdered lubricants, and the HACCP food safety regimen? You know, stuff that literally prolongs life, or improves the safety and quality of life, or just makes our lives run smoother.

    Bottom line: no bucks for space, no Buck Rogers for you. But maybe a quill pen and parchment world is what you prefer, per your politics? :-D

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@19:

    Let me rephrase my critique in starker terms that you’ll understand:

    The American government has no money to spend. Should we print a few hundred extra billion dollars to send another man to the moon (take that, China!) or to, say, shore up Medicare or repair some of our crumbling infrastructure or, really, anything more useful than sending more people into space?

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@19:

    Let me rephrase my critique in starker terms that you’ll understand:

    The American government has no money to spend. Should we print a few hundred extra billion dollars to send another man to the moon (take that, China!) or to, say, shore up Medicare or repair some of our crumbling infrastructure or, really, anything more useful than sending more people into space?

  • Cincinnatus

    Also, since when was the purpose of the national government “to improve the safety and quality of life”?

    I mean, I know I sound like a fusty old “libertarian” when I say that, but seriously! Is that really an acceptable justification for any government program at the federal level? “But Senator, conservative estimates put the cost at hundreds of billions in current dollars!” “That’s ok, boy, it will improve the quality of life for some people in an unpredictable way [since all spinoff technologies, by definition, were "accidental" results of contextual problem-solving].”

    You’re right, Tom. We should raise taxes just for a new space program. The crushing debt and deficit crippling the rest of our government be damned!

  • Cincinnatus

    Also, since when was the purpose of the national government “to improve the safety and quality of life”?

    I mean, I know I sound like a fusty old “libertarian” when I say that, but seriously! Is that really an acceptable justification for any government program at the federal level? “But Senator, conservative estimates put the cost at hundreds of billions in current dollars!” “That’s ok, boy, it will improve the quality of life for some people in an unpredictable way [since all spinoff technologies, by definition, were "accidental" results of contextual problem-solving].”

    You’re right, Tom. We should raise taxes just for a new space program. The crushing debt and deficit crippling the rest of our government be damned!

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Somebody needs to tell China that there’s no cheese up there.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Somebody needs to tell China that there’s no cheese up there.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Puh-lease, don’t be lazy critics.

    …said the man (@19) who then proceeded to crib a list from Wikipedia article headings, without much doing his own research into his apparent claims.

    For instance, the article that is clearly the source of Tom’s claims does not itself say that “light-emitting diodes” are themselves NASA “spin-offs”, but rather a device which uses LEDs to relieve pain (which itself was used in the space-shuttle program, several decades after LEDs were patended.

    And while I was being a bit of a rascal in trotting out (@13) the “Velcro And Tang” trope — and really, Tom, are you of all people now going to complain about people derailing serious conversations with rascallery? — I did actually have a point in mentioning those two. Which was that, while they are somewhat archetypical entries in the popular “NASA spin-off” lists, they were both invented before our manned space program took off, and only popularized through subsequent use by NASA.

    Anyhow, how exactly would you go about proving that the inventions you (or Wikipedia) hold up as bona-fide positive side effects would not have otherwise been invented? Especially if we assume that privately funded space travel would have filled the void (as, indeed, we are now seeing, now that NASA’s getting out of the game).

    Of course, the flip side is that I can’t prove that such inventions (or applications) would have otherwise been thought of. But I still don’t see spin-offs as a valid reason for spending money on space travel.

    I mean, if we want to see more government-funded inventions, let’s just open up another government branch (with NASA’s funding) that funds invention ideas with potential. Why must we fund inventions that only have application in space flight — which apparently isn’t much of an end itself, if people have to resort to LED pain-relief devices (etc.) to justify the money spent on NASA?

    Put differently, what about actual, you know, space travel is worth the money? “Hey, we kept a guy in a big bus orbiting the earth for several months. So that’s worth, what a few billion?”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Puh-lease, don’t be lazy critics.

    …said the man (@19) who then proceeded to crib a list from Wikipedia article headings, without much doing his own research into his apparent claims.

    For instance, the article that is clearly the source of Tom’s claims does not itself say that “light-emitting diodes” are themselves NASA “spin-offs”, but rather a device which uses LEDs to relieve pain (which itself was used in the space-shuttle program, several decades after LEDs were patended.

    And while I was being a bit of a rascal in trotting out (@13) the “Velcro And Tang” trope — and really, Tom, are you of all people now going to complain about people derailing serious conversations with rascallery? — I did actually have a point in mentioning those two. Which was that, while they are somewhat archetypical entries in the popular “NASA spin-off” lists, they were both invented before our manned space program took off, and only popularized through subsequent use by NASA.

    Anyhow, how exactly would you go about proving that the inventions you (or Wikipedia) hold up as bona-fide positive side effects would not have otherwise been invented? Especially if we assume that privately funded space travel would have filled the void (as, indeed, we are now seeing, now that NASA’s getting out of the game).

    Of course, the flip side is that I can’t prove that such inventions (or applications) would have otherwise been thought of. But I still don’t see spin-offs as a valid reason for spending money on space travel.

    I mean, if we want to see more government-funded inventions, let’s just open up another government branch (with NASA’s funding) that funds invention ideas with potential. Why must we fund inventions that only have application in space flight — which apparently isn’t much of an end itself, if people have to resort to LED pain-relief devices (etc.) to justify the money spent on NASA?

    Put differently, what about actual, you know, space travel is worth the money? “Hey, we kept a guy in a big bus orbiting the earth for several months. So that’s worth, what a few billion?”

  • trotk

    I imagine that I am nearly alone in this view, but life doesn’t seem any better even if you attribute Tom’s list to the space program.
    We talk about length of life, and I assume that we all would agree that this only matters if the quality is good. And so we talk about quality of life, and people primarily mean the absence of pain and the presence of material goods. Whether or not our lives have more or less pain we will never know, because we can’t live a different life, but I can say with certainty that the presence of material goods isn’t a better life. It might be an equivalent quality of life, but I tend to believe that real quality of life (freedom, love, relationships – ultimately the knowledge of God’s grace) has been hampered by the overwhelming presence of material possessions.

    And so I would advise China that materialism isn’t worth it. Ambition for worldly power and esteem isn’t worth it. Spinoff technologies aren’t worth it. I lived a summer in China (studying Chinese at a university) and I loved the kindness and gentleness and simplicity that was there, and most everyone I met only had two changes of clothes.

  • trotk

    I imagine that I am nearly alone in this view, but life doesn’t seem any better even if you attribute Tom’s list to the space program.
    We talk about length of life, and I assume that we all would agree that this only matters if the quality is good. And so we talk about quality of life, and people primarily mean the absence of pain and the presence of material goods. Whether or not our lives have more or less pain we will never know, because we can’t live a different life, but I can say with certainty that the presence of material goods isn’t a better life. It might be an equivalent quality of life, but I tend to believe that real quality of life (freedom, love, relationships – ultimately the knowledge of God’s grace) has been hampered by the overwhelming presence of material possessions.

    And so I would advise China that materialism isn’t worth it. Ambition for worldly power and esteem isn’t worth it. Spinoff technologies aren’t worth it. I lived a summer in China (studying Chinese at a university) and I loved the kindness and gentleness and simplicity that was there, and most everyone I met only had two changes of clothes.

  • steve

    tODD, #23, you can go here to see what NASA themselves believe the spin-offs to be:

    http://www.sti.nasa.gov/tto/index.html

    No doubt, this publication is, itself, an attempt to justify their existence. I’m conservative(ish) with libertarian leanings so I would tend to side with the folks who say that private industry typically does it better. But I would take exception to your point about private industry and manned space travel. I don’t think this could have happened without the consistent push of federal dollars. Anything that’s done from this point on will be built on the foundations NASA laid. That said, was it worth it? It depends on what “worth it” means to you. I think so. Of course everything has unintended consequences; and everything is judged by history based partly on those unintended consequences. But even if it was just putting a man on the moon, with nothing else, I think the subsequent international scientific dominance that we’re still feeling the effects of makes arguable “worth it”.

  • steve

    tODD, #23, you can go here to see what NASA themselves believe the spin-offs to be:

    http://www.sti.nasa.gov/tto/index.html

    No doubt, this publication is, itself, an attempt to justify their existence. I’m conservative(ish) with libertarian leanings so I would tend to side with the folks who say that private industry typically does it better. But I would take exception to your point about private industry and manned space travel. I don’t think this could have happened without the consistent push of federal dollars. Anything that’s done from this point on will be built on the foundations NASA laid. That said, was it worth it? It depends on what “worth it” means to you. I think so. Of course everything has unintended consequences; and everything is judged by history based partly on those unintended consequences. But even if it was just putting a man on the moon, with nothing else, I think the subsequent international scientific dominance that we’re still feeling the effects of makes arguable “worth it”.

  • Tom Hering

    Well, Todd, some of us know that North Korea would like to see America abandon space travel. And that’s all I’m going to say.

  • Tom Hering

    Well, Todd, some of us know that North Korea would like to see America abandon space travel. And that’s all I’m going to say.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@26:

    Wha? Huh?

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@26:

    Wha? Huh?

  • Cincinnatus

    trotk: Amen, brother.

  • Cincinnatus

    trotk: Amen, brother.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@27), Tom was making a rather oblique reference to the thread where I was crowned Prediction King for my foreseeing North Korea’s future, wherein he accused me of pulling levers behind what’s left of the Iron Curtain, or something like that.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@27), Tom was making a rather oblique reference to the thread where I was crowned Prediction King for my foreseeing North Korea’s future, wherein he accused me of pulling levers behind what’s left of the Iron Curtain, or something like that.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Explore and disover, advance, and peek above the horizon – that is what we humans do. It is part and parcel of our humanity. Wherever that portion of our humanity has been supressed, we have regressed.

    Spin-off is certainly there, both in terms of technology, as well as knowledge in psychology, but all not very quantifiable. At the same time, one has to be financially prudent, and not do what you can ill afford. But neither should one be a luddite scrooge, and keep the purse strings closed simply becuse the prospects of immediate or short-term gain / return on investment is fuzzy.

    And certainly one should not allow ones politics to rule ones life to such an extent so as to close ones brain to all these arguments. As seems to be the rule on this website.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Explore and disover, advance, and peek above the horizon – that is what we humans do. It is part and parcel of our humanity. Wherever that portion of our humanity has been supressed, we have regressed.

    Spin-off is certainly there, both in terms of technology, as well as knowledge in psychology, but all not very quantifiable. At the same time, one has to be financially prudent, and not do what you can ill afford. But neither should one be a luddite scrooge, and keep the purse strings closed simply becuse the prospects of immediate or short-term gain / return on investment is fuzzy.

    And certainly one should not allow ones politics to rule ones life to such an extent so as to close ones brain to all these arguments. As seems to be the rule on this website.

  • Tom Hering

    Maybe China has learned from its history. Ceasing to voyage (however impractical the reasons for voyaging were) portends centuries of backward isolation.

    http://asianhistory.about.com/od/china/f/zhenghefaq.htm

  • Tom Hering

    Maybe China has learned from its history. Ceasing to voyage (however impractical the reasons for voyaging were) portends centuries of backward isolation.

    http://asianhistory.about.com/od/china/f/zhenghefaq.htm

  • Cincinnatus

    KK@30:

    Indeed, I understand and sympathize with the arguments that you, along with steve, are making. But for me, none of it justifies large-scale public investment from mandatory taxes. It’s one thing to laud the glories of exploration while enjoying the benefits of various spinoff technologies.

    But, especially in a constitutional republic with specifically and explicitly defined boundaries delimiting what the national government can and cannot spend money on (yes, I know these boundaries are essentially ignored today), it’s another thing entirely to laud the glories of exploration and spinoff technologies so much that we demand they be funded from the public treasury while the taxpayers themselves, not to speak of the government, are in various states of economic disarray.

  • Cincinnatus

    KK@30:

    Indeed, I understand and sympathize with the arguments that you, along with steve, are making. But for me, none of it justifies large-scale public investment from mandatory taxes. It’s one thing to laud the glories of exploration while enjoying the benefits of various spinoff technologies.

    But, especially in a constitutional republic with specifically and explicitly defined boundaries delimiting what the national government can and cannot spend money on (yes, I know these boundaries are essentially ignored today), it’s another thing entirely to laud the glories of exploration and spinoff technologies so much that we demand they be funded from the public treasury while the taxpayers themselves, not to speak of the government, are in various states of economic disarray.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    It all comes down to the Conservative allergy against taxes, doesn’t it? ;)

    Seriously though, my argument is you should not do what you cannot afford. But you should also seriously consider reforming an 18th century document, and reform it such that it creates more principles than rules.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    It all comes down to the Conservative allergy against taxes, doesn’t it? ;)

    Seriously though, my argument is you should not do what you cannot afford. But you should also seriously consider reforming an 18th century document, and reform it such that it creates more principles than rules.

  • Cincinnatus

    KK@33: It looks like you’re trying to have your proverbial cake and eat it too. We shouldn’t have a space program because we can’t afford it, but we should raise taxes so we can (even though economic studies show that no amount of tax increases we even get us out of the hole in which we already find ourselves)? Or we should have a specific tax only for space exploration programs? Try selling that one to the American public.

    Obviously, in practice, the Constitution has been so “amended” that its use would not be recognized by its eighteenth-century authors. This, of course, is why we already have hundreds of programs and initiatives, including the space program, that are either expressly forbidden or implicitly foreclosed by a plain reading of the document (thanks, expansive reading of the “Interstate Commerce Clause,” among others).

    But, assuming that we need “formal amendment” of the document, KK, what exactly are you suggesting? That we add a specific clause licensing space exploration? Why?

  • Cincinnatus

    KK@33: It looks like you’re trying to have your proverbial cake and eat it too. We shouldn’t have a space program because we can’t afford it, but we should raise taxes so we can (even though economic studies show that no amount of tax increases we even get us out of the hole in which we already find ourselves)? Or we should have a specific tax only for space exploration programs? Try selling that one to the American public.

    Obviously, in practice, the Constitution has been so “amended” that its use would not be recognized by its eighteenth-century authors. This, of course, is why we already have hundreds of programs and initiatives, including the space program, that are either expressly forbidden or implicitly foreclosed by a plain reading of the document (thanks, expansive reading of the “Interstate Commerce Clause,” among others).

    But, assuming that we need “formal amendment” of the document, KK, what exactly are you suggesting? That we add a specific clause licensing space exploration? Why?

  • Tom Hering

    No one here ever heard of a Constitution Class starship?

  • Tom Hering

    No one here ever heard of a Constitution Class starship?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    You are reading too much into my comment Cincinnatus; Obviously you can’t afford to send someone to the moon now. And the taxes comment was tongue in cheek – I thought the ;) gave it away…

    As to what constitutional rewriting should entail – BIG subject, another day. But spending guidelines as in % maybe, not – this yes, that no. Or balanced budgets, or something. Circumstances change, and we cannot foresee the future (well, apparently Todd can, maybe we should get him to write it :) ).

    But Hollywood alwys have it as you guys exploring and finally meeting the aliens – and you wouldn’t want to prove them wrong now, would you. (Sorry, not very serious on the subject today. Actually, I would mostly support an international space effort, that would spread the cost, combine the expertise, and stop the silly competitions. Witness the success of Cern, which is an international effort, or the European space program. Bring the Russians, Japanese, Chinese and Indians, as well as us into it, and we might have something. Put the Swiss in charge….).

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    You are reading too much into my comment Cincinnatus; Obviously you can’t afford to send someone to the moon now. And the taxes comment was tongue in cheek – I thought the ;) gave it away…

    As to what constitutional rewriting should entail – BIG subject, another day. But spending guidelines as in % maybe, not – this yes, that no. Or balanced budgets, or something. Circumstances change, and we cannot foresee the future (well, apparently Todd can, maybe we should get him to write it :) ).

    But Hollywood alwys have it as you guys exploring and finally meeting the aliens – and you wouldn’t want to prove them wrong now, would you. (Sorry, not very serious on the subject today. Actually, I would mostly support an international space effort, that would spread the cost, combine the expertise, and stop the silly competitions. Witness the success of Cern, which is an international effort, or the European space program. Bring the Russians, Japanese, Chinese and Indians, as well as us into it, and we might have something. Put the Swiss in charge….).

  • Tom Hering

    We seem to be having two different arguments. (1.) Can we afford to explore space? (2.) Even if we can afford it, should we be doing it – aren’t there better things to spend our money on? Well, how about if the anti-space guys give their money to the poor and needy. Specifically, the very dollars they would otherwise spend on weekend or vacation travel, exploring places they’ve never been to before. Okay, okay, I know that’s unfair. I, of all people – a liberal – should understand the legitimacy of applying standards to one’s country that aren’t applied to one’s self. :-D The serious point being: human needs and drives aren’t confined to individuals. They’re also expressed corporately.

    Klasie @ 36, I think that is, indeed, the future of space exploration: governments working together, and also working with the private sector. I think NASA is finally going to talk to China (this year?) instead of continuing to shut them out. China has been asking for more cooperation.

  • Tom Hering

    We seem to be having two different arguments. (1.) Can we afford to explore space? (2.) Even if we can afford it, should we be doing it – aren’t there better things to spend our money on? Well, how about if the anti-space guys give their money to the poor and needy. Specifically, the very dollars they would otherwise spend on weekend or vacation travel, exploring places they’ve never been to before. Okay, okay, I know that’s unfair. I, of all people – a liberal – should understand the legitimacy of applying standards to one’s country that aren’t applied to one’s self. :-D The serious point being: human needs and drives aren’t confined to individuals. They’re also expressed corporately.

    Klasie @ 36, I think that is, indeed, the future of space exploration: governments working together, and also working with the private sector. I think NASA is finally going to talk to China (this year?) instead of continuing to shut them out. China has been asking for more cooperation.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Tom, you keep trying to sell me a vision of a space program that has not existed for, what, 40 years? You talk of “exploration”, as if sitting inside a bus-sized unit orbiting the earth for weeks on end is tantamount to Columbus’ or Magellan’s adventures. Most of our space program has never actually been about “exploring”. And besides, we already know far more about Mars (our next-closest potential exploring spot) from earth-based observations than the famous explorers of yesteryear knew about where they were headed.

    As to your comparing “vacation travel” with space exploration, oof. Do you really not see a difference between treading well-trod paths for enjoyment’s sake and truly blazing a trail in order to learn more for the good of mankind (or some subset thereof)?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Tom, you keep trying to sell me a vision of a space program that has not existed for, what, 40 years? You talk of “exploration”, as if sitting inside a bus-sized unit orbiting the earth for weeks on end is tantamount to Columbus’ or Magellan’s adventures. Most of our space program has never actually been about “exploring”. And besides, we already know far more about Mars (our next-closest potential exploring spot) from earth-based observations than the famous explorers of yesteryear knew about where they were headed.

    As to your comparing “vacation travel” with space exploration, oof. Do you really not see a difference between treading well-trod paths for enjoyment’s sake and truly blazing a trail in order to learn more for the good of mankind (or some subset thereof)?

  • Tom Hering

    “… a vision of a space program that has not existed for, what, 40 years?”

    People at NASA haven’t dreamed of exploration beyond Earth orbit for 40 years? President Bush didn’t announce the Constellation program? And President Obama, while cancelling Constellation, didn’t announce an alternative, manned exploration program? So the vision has indeed existed for forty years. Even if the realization of it hasn’t – yet.

    “You talk of ‘exploration’, as if sitting inside a bus-sized unit orbiting the earth …”

    I don’t remember ever arguing that the shuttle was – or the international station is – a vehicle of exploration. (Not sure which one you’re talking about, as both are larger than a bus.)

    “Do you really not see a difference between …”

    Do you really think I don’t, or that my actual point was as dumb wrong as your interpretation of what I said?

  • Tom Hering

    “… a vision of a space program that has not existed for, what, 40 years?”

    People at NASA haven’t dreamed of exploration beyond Earth orbit for 40 years? President Bush didn’t announce the Constellation program? And President Obama, while cancelling Constellation, didn’t announce an alternative, manned exploration program? So the vision has indeed existed for forty years. Even if the realization of it hasn’t – yet.

    “You talk of ‘exploration’, as if sitting inside a bus-sized unit orbiting the earth …”

    I don’t remember ever arguing that the shuttle was – or the international station is – a vehicle of exploration. (Not sure which one you’re talking about, as both are larger than a bus.)

    “Do you really not see a difference between …”

    Do you really think I don’t, or that my actual point was as dumb wrong as your interpretation of what I said?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Tom asked (@39):

    People at NASA haven’t dreamed of exploration beyond Earth orbit for 40 years?

    Um, what? Here, let me use brackets to make my previous point (@38):

    Tom, you keep trying to sell me a vision of [a space program that has not existed for, what, 40 years]?

    So, sure, people at HASA have “dreamed” of doing some actual (manned) exploration since we last left the moon. But only dreamed. And sure, presidents have “announced” plans to do this and that. But, again, we haven’t been on the moon (if those latter missions qualify as satisfying mankind’s wanderlust) since 1972. Man hasn’t exactly been exploring anything in space for decades.

    (Not sure which one you’re talking about, as both are larger than a bus.)

    I was thinking of the ISS, and I was referring to the actual “space” — inside the ISS — that men were “exploring”, if you can call it that.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Tom asked (@39):

    People at NASA haven’t dreamed of exploration beyond Earth orbit for 40 years?

    Um, what? Here, let me use brackets to make my previous point (@38):

    Tom, you keep trying to sell me a vision of [a space program that has not existed for, what, 40 years]?

    So, sure, people at HASA have “dreamed” of doing some actual (manned) exploration since we last left the moon. But only dreamed. And sure, presidents have “announced” plans to do this and that. But, again, we haven’t been on the moon (if those latter missions qualify as satisfying mankind’s wanderlust) since 1972. Man hasn’t exactly been exploring anything in space for decades.

    (Not sure which one you’re talking about, as both are larger than a bus.)

    I was thinking of the ISS, and I was referring to the actual “space” — inside the ISS — that men were “exploring”, if you can call it that.

  • Tom Hering

    I’ll have to return the helpful kindness, Todd, and try that bracket thing with you. That is, if it really works when people are being deliberately thick-headed about the points others are making. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    I’ll have to return the helpful kindness, Todd, and try that bracket thing with you. That is, if it really works when people are being deliberately thick-headed about the points others are making. :-D


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