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Could the US return to the moon if we wanted?

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Can the US still go to the moon?  

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  1. 1. Can the US still go to the moon?



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Just curious if there are any scientists and engineers (or knowledgeable armatures)out there that have an opinion on whether we still have the ability to successfully go to the moon and return? I have recently heard some engineers say they doubt it, despite all the computer advances over the last 35 years.

The crux of the argument seems to be that we could no longer assemble a high quality team of people on a large enough scale to pull it off. We simply don't have them, plus the culture has changed such that the best people would no longer be in key positions. Thoughts?

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There is no validity to that opinion. Just how many engineers they think it would take? We still know how to make rocket engines, build rockets, make space suits. There is not a single technical hurdle that we cannot still do and in my opinion do better. I would point to the falcon 9 as evidence. This spacecraft is designed for a different mission, but it represents a refinement of the Apollo technology. The real question is why would you go? All apologies to George Mallory but because its there doesn't count for anything.

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We could definitely go back to the moon. I know several aerospace engineering students at Georgia Tech (best or second best AE department in the country), and that's what they've told me. Hell, you could probably do it using a dozen or so Falcon 9 launches. We have designs for super-heavy lift boosters, like the Sea Dragon, which could lift 550 tons to LEO, which could easily handle a massive mission to the Moon, or Mars, or many other places. There is no reason to think it impossible, or even exceedingly difficult. Honestly, if we dumped the space station and the shuttle, NASA would have more than enough money, right know, to launch a return to the moon and a mission to Mars by 2020 or 2025. We just don't feel like it.

As for why, I think because it is there is a good reason. However, NASA is government funded, so that's not good. But I certainly think that a large private program would be possible (and estimates suggest cost about 20% as much as a government program to accomplish the same thing). One of these days some rich-as-hell billionaire who always liked space is going to decide "You know what, I wanna go to Mars." That, or something like it, is my bet for how the first manned mission to Mars will be funded.

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There is no validity to that opinion. Just how many engineers they think it would take? We still know how to make rocket engines, build rockets, make space suits. There is not a single technical hurdle that we cannot still do and in my opinion do better. I would point to the falcon 9 as evidence. This spacecraft is designed for a different mission, but it represents a refinement of the Apollo technology. The real question is why would you go? All apologies to George Mallory but because its there doesn't count for anything.

I'm not arguing that we should go to the moon or even Mars. Manned space flight seems unnecessary most of the time. But it was a great achievement on its own terms. The counter-argument seems to focus on the idea that it's not all about technology. It is also about having a large team of highly motivated, intelligent, courageous men (and women) that can work toward a common goal. I don't really look around America and find people like that anymore.

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I don't know much about rocket science, I think there is no doubt that we can achieve the moon landing, consider there are many incredible things we can do without contradict the laws of physics even with relatively primitive technology. If the action is an end in itself, then all one have to do is just perform exactly that action, with everything physics allowed. But if the action is a mean to something else, then the action itself became a "price" or a burden, one must calculate the ratio of investment vs profit, and conclude is it worth the trouble. May be the action is too expansive and there is a cheaper alternative. If I can get from point A to point B by walk, I will not chose to drive, unless Im moving some heavy cargo or enjoy the ride. Exotic scifi machines such as the flying car can be done with 20 year old technology, but it does not offer any real advantage than street cars consider its pricey construction, extra fuel consumption, regulation problems, and safety risk. Can we return to the moon? yes we can, the US is still a major technological and industrial power in the world, various obstacles can be overcome by intervention, force assemble a team with ability and passion, supply them with a mega budget, put that project on the top priority in the face of anything. But the real problem is: what do we what from it. Return to the moon will not have the same scale and magnitude of impact as the original 1969 mission. Back then, the moon landing was significant, because it represented the new ideas of human progress that challenges the current state of thinking during that time. Simply put, the original moon landing was NEW, it was something never been done but imagined by many generations. At last it also symbolized the "victory" of America over the USSR, who compete under the same goal. Today's world has already transformed by the space age idea, return to the moon will not offer any new idealogical nor technological challenges to our current state of existence. In order to achieve the same revolutionary impact of the original mission, we will need something like establish a moon base, which is something we cannot bet on NASA. Remember the first sentence in Kennedy's Speech at Rice University:"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard..." What can we say about the return project? Sure it is not easy, but is it Hard?

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