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Subject: Do You Think The Moon Landings Were Worth It? rss

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Jim Patching
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I’ve often heard it said that the vast amounts of money spent on the moon landings (and space exploration in general) could be put to much better use dealing with US domestic issues or charitable causes. Whilst I can certainly understand this point of view, personally I definitely think the moon landings were worth it. There’re always going to be problems with the world and with society and no matter how much money you chuck at these issues they’re still going to be there. If all of that money had been ploughed into social issues back in the sixties I’m just not sure if there’d be much to show for it now. The moon landings on the other hand are an inspirational statement of what mankind can do when it gets its act together and works towards a common goal, a statement that transcends national divides. They’re a fixed event in history now and they’ll always be there for future generations to think back on and go “wow”. So yes, in my opinion they were worth it.
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Sending rockets to the moon: extremely ridiculously expensive

Beating the commies in the space race: totally worth it!
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My gut answer is no, but the science that followed, other stuff that's been done in space, may not have happened, so yeah, I guess so. I do think that we spend an obscene amount on fluffy fluff fluff all over the place though, and getting to the moon was pretty much more about the pursuit of a first place finish more than the pursuit of knowledge, and that's pretty stupid.
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If we can spend trillions of dollars invading other countries, or on massive handouts to Wall Street bankers, surely spending some money on, like, accomplishing some things that give meaning to our lives is worth considering too.

We could support the maximal number of people at minimum cost if we pack them all into capsules and keep them sedated so they don't consume as much food and oxygen. Would that be optimal?
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Relative to the opportunity cost of domestic spending? Definitely. Relative to the opportunity cost of unmanned space exploration? Probably not.
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Isaac Citrom
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mdp4828 wrote:
Relative to the opportunity cost of domestic spending? Definitely. Relative to the opportunity cost of unmanned space exploration? Probably not.


We could have dropped a flag on top of Mount Everest by airplane. The point was for a man to make the trek.

We are continually creating better tools, but the point is that tools are meant to help Man--help Man explore. We are currently using simple robots to explore Mars, but so that men can eventually safely make the trip. They should not be meant as a replacement for men.

Andrew Chaikin, author of A Man on the Moon, said it well, "you will find no better record of what it is like to be on the moon than in the experiences and recollections of the men who went there. If God is found in the details of our world, then the details must be discovered and interpreted by the men who make the voyage from the Earth to the Moon."

I no more want and expect a robot to explore the Universe on my behalf than I expect and want a computer to write poetry.

I think "Gus" Grissom, commander of the ill-fated Apollo 1, said it best, "The conquest of space is worth the risk of life. Our God-given curiosity will force us to go there ourselves because in the final analysis only man can fully evaluate the moon in terms understandable to other men."


This montage of mine says it well too:




.
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David desJardins
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isaacc wrote:
I no more want and expect a robot to explore the Universe on my behalf than I expect and want a computer to write poetry.


I'm for both manned and unmanned space exploration, but I think we might as well turn poetry over to the computers.
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There is always going to be charity cases, suffering is globally mundane.

But going to the moon, now that's interesting. Nothing like seeing man progress and evolve. Rather than stagnate into complete comfortable and boring survival.

I'm not a plant, I don't need the basic necessities to "live". My requirements as a self aware being require more than that.

Manifest destiny.
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DWTripp wrote:


It got a lot of advertising mileage, but predates Apollo 11 by a decade:
http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=46218.

 
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DaviddesJ wrote:
isaacc wrote:
I no more want and expect a robot to explore the Universe on my behalf than I expect and want a computer to write poetry.


I'm for both manned and unmanned space exploration, but I think we might as well turn poetry over to the computers.


I don't think you know what poetry is.
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Some of he best money the US Federal Government ever spent.

We should be spending much much more on space exploration (manned, unmanned, telescopic, theoretical). In fact, doing so is the ideal stimulus package.

http://wechoosethemoon.org/
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Where did the money spent go to? Basically to companies whose main functions are in the defence (sorry, defense) business. The money spent wasn't as an alternative to ending poverty, establishing world peace and so on (against which targets it was a drop in the ocean) but as an alternative to more defense spending. Would you rather have a man on the moon or a few more ICBMs? Because that's the choice the pork barrel politics of then (and now) would have offered.

And while the spin-offs are misstated (I recently saw a demolition of the "space race gave us Velcro" claim) and trivialised, we've certainly gained a lot in too many ways to count from satellites in orbit (communications, weather, earth resources, global positioning and more) and the scientific returns from robotic probes have been immense. Did Apollo help or hinder that progress? And because we sent people to collect rocks from the moon (more good science enabled) we've not tried to do so robotically. And for that task, the people were almost certainly the most cost-effective robots then (and maybe even now).
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panzer-attack wrote:
The moon landings on the other hand are an inspirational statement of what mankind can do when it gets its act together and works towards a common goal, a statement that transcends national divides.


I agree with you wholeheartedly except I think you put a bit too much emphasis on transcending national divides. The moon landings were 100% an American (read USA) accomplishment (despite the fact that the impetus was beating the Soviets).

Don't get me wrong - all of mankind can bask in the glory of having a member of their race set foot on the moon but it was the Americans that actually did it.

I'm sorry if this makes me sound like an American ass but that's the way it is.
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Marshall P.
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When we're honest with ourselves we'll admit that the number of places besides Earth a human being will ever set foot is, at most, two (low Earth orbit is not a place).

This place.



And just maaaaaaaaybe here.



Though it's looking doubtful at the moment.

But those places are nothing. Inhospitable dead rocks with little or no value (sure there may be He3 on the moon, but that's not exactly going to be the tobacco of the first lunar colony).

The really cool thing we learned by sending men to the moon was how the moon was formed.



Which admittedly is pretty awesome to know. And it probably enabled plate tectonics on the Earth which allows for complex life like us. So, that's worth something.

But we would have learned that eventually anyway. Certainly by now, with purely robotic probes and sample return missions.

Meanwhile, there're things to be done in space that a human does nothing to further.



Yeah, I know. Not much to look at. It's not really sexy. But the shear amount of knowledge derived from this picture is staggering. This is the infant universe. Random quantum fluctuations frozen during the big bang and writ large across the sky as super clusters of galaxies and voids of immense emptiness.

Give me more of that and less of this.



Which is nice enough. But not worth billions of dollars.

There are other places, even close to home, where human feet will likely never stand. Let's have a few more pictures of them.







And don't even get me started on these places that we've never landed anything on. It's downright criminal that we're flushing money down the ISS toilet while they remain unexplored. I'm going to grow old and die before we learn anything cool about them at this rate.





I know, I know. We used men to launch this, and repair it a couple of times.



And it gave us some stunning pictures and knowledge.





But for the cost of using men to launch and fix a space telescope. We could have just built a half dozen more brand new ones anyway.

I don't particularly think the Apollo program was a waste. If I could go back in time and change things I wouldn't remove it. Just every manned mission after Apollo.

There is no long term place for humans in space. It's inhospitable and trackless. The distance to any place else is prohibitive, and any place besides where we are right now is lethal anyway. If we ever bootstrap ourselves out of this 1g gravity well it'll only be after a long hard slog by lots and lots of expendable robots paving the way for us. It's pointless to send ourselves out in little fragile bubbles of temporariness until then just so we can thump our hairy ape chests.

We will never see this.



No matter how badly we may want to. For reasons we will likely never know, the invisible sky daddy who designed our universe ensured that we will never visit any of it. A lot of great places to go, but no keys to the car for us. Thanks a lot dad. Jerk. Why don't you just stop at Neptune next time instead off showing of with billions and billions of you-can-look-but-you-can't-touch galaxies? Just like prom all over again.

That's my two cents.


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mdp4828 wrote:
When we're honest with ourselves we'll admit that the number of places besides Earth a human being will ever set foot is, at most, two (low Earth orbit is not a place).


How about Phobos? Isn't that easier than landing on Mars?

I don't think visiting the asteroids and the Jovian moons seems all that implausible, either.

"Ever" is a long time. How long are you expecting human civilization to survive? My own answer is probably not that long, but most people seem to think that's awfully pessimistic.
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DaviddesJ wrote:
How about Phobos? Isn't that easier than landing on Mars?

You could touch it with your foot, but I'm not sure it has enough gravity to walk around on. Ganymede and Callisto seem plausible though.
 
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Marshall P.
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DaviddesJ wrote:

How about Phobos? Isn't that easier than landing on Mars?


Ok, but that would be one of the most pointless things a human ever did. "Because it's there" is a good enough reason to climb Mt. Everest since it only costs about $60,000. But if it cost $600,000,000,000 then there should be a better reason.

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I don't think visiting the asteroids and the Jovian moons seems all that implausible, either.


The Jovian moons will never be visited because of the radiation. Their surfaces are highly lethal to a human not shielded by a whole lot of metal.

If cost were no obstacle and the only thing one wanted to do was to send a human to an asteroid to prove me wrong then it may be possible. But it'll never happen because there is no point. Nobody cares that much about me being wrong. Unless some aliens have left behind some artifacts on one there is nothing on or in an asteroid to justify the enormous time, expense, and risk of sending a human.

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"Ever" is a long time. How long are you expecting human civilization to survive? My own answer is probably not that long, but most people seem to think that's awfully pessimistic.


Humans will probably last awhile (so will cockroaches), but I'm not sure about civilization. We might have to recreate that eventually.
 
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kjamma4 wrote:
panzer-attack wrote:
The moon landings on the other hand are an inspirational statement of what mankind can do when it gets its act together and works towards a common goal, a statement that transcends national divides.


I agree with you wholeheartedly except I think you put a bit too much emphasis on transcending national divides. The moon landings were 100% an American (read USA) accomplishment (despite the fact that the impetus was beating the Soviets).

Don't get me wrong - all of mankind can bask in the glory of having a member of their race set foot on the moon but it was the Americans that actually did it.

I'm sorry if this makes me sound like an American ass but that's the way it is.


By transcending national divides I meant that pretty much everyone thought it was awesome, no matter what country they were from. I'm not trying to say it wasn't an American achievement.
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Phobos mission wouldn't cost $600 billion. I don't understand why visiting Mars is sensible, but visiting Phobos is not.

Radiation is not a big problem on Callisto. Ganymede is problematic but still feasible.

The idea that space exploration is "pointless" makes no sense to me. What is the purpose of life? Why bother to eat at all?
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panzer-attack wrote:
kjamma4 wrote:
panzer-attack wrote:
The moon landings on the other hand are an inspirational statement of what mankind can do when it gets its act together and works towards a common goal, a statement that transcends national divides.


I agree with you wholeheartedly except I think you put a bit too much emphasis on transcending national divides. The moon landings were 100% an American (read USA) accomplishment (despite the fact that the impetus was beating the Soviets).

Don't get me wrong - all of mankind can bask in the glory of having a member of their race set foot on the moon but it was the Americans that actually did it.

I'm sorry if this makes me sound like an American ass but that's the way it is.


By transcending national divides I meant that pretty much everyone thought it was awesome, no matter what country they were from. I'm not trying to say it wasn't an American achievement.


Yeah, I think we're on the same page but coming at it from different angles. The whole, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." is absolutely true.

As an aside, my brother was 16 at the time of the first moon landing. He and a friend were going to go hang out and get something to eat. The friend's grandmother was astonished that they were going to miss seeing this historic event (which she never believed would happen in her lifetime). She coerced/forced them to stay by making them a meal so that they would not miss the event.

Grandmothers are pretty smart.
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Marshall P.
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Phobos mission wouldn't cost $600 billion. I don't understand why visiting Mars is sensible, but visiting Phobos is not.


Exactly, you're begining to see my point. Humans visiting Mars isn't sensible at this time in my opinion.

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Radiation is not a big problem on Callisto. Ganymede is problematic but still feasible.


I don't think that's true. Radiation is a big problem even on Mars, and that's without the magnetosphere of Jupiter nearby.

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The idea that space exploration is "pointless" makes no sense to me. What is the purpose of life? Why bother to eat at all?


Who said it was pointless? I think I've very clearly advocated for more exploration. I think sending humans into space detracts from the total amount of exploration we get per dollar because so many freakin dollars have to be spent just to keep the smelly bacteria bags alive and they generally don't do much actual "exploration" anyway.
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mdp4828 wrote:
I don't think that's true. Radiation is a big problem even on Mars, and that's without the magnetosphere of Jupiter nearby.


The actual facts are that there's not much surface radiation on Callisto. It's outside Jupiter's magnetosphere, and it's much farther from the Sun than Mars. Look it up.

Quote:
Who said it was pointless? I think I've very clearly advocated for more exploration. I think sending humans into space detracts from the total amount of exploration we get per dollar because so many freakin dollars have to be spent just to keep the smelly bacteria bags alive and they generally don't do much actual "exploration" anyway.


Look at the limitations of remotely operated vehicles on Mars, that have to be programmed in advance and moved once a day because of communication delays, and compare that to what you can do with people right there to make decisions. Maybe computers will advance to the point that we can have robotic vehicles that are just as smart as people, but we're a long, long ways from that, now.

But there's a broader point. What is the point of exploration? To gain knowledge? Why is that valuable? If you value knowledge in and of itself, why can't I value exploration in and of itself?
 
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"I myself had never thought I would ever want to go to the moon. But the Apollo landing made me realize that the impossible was becoming possible, a very consoling thought for a Pole in a Communist prison." - Adam Michnik, former Polish student activist, reflecting on the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, which he learned about while serving a three-year sentence for opposing Communist rule.
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panzer-attack wrote:
The moon landings on the other hand are an inspirational statement of what mankind can do when it gets its act together and works towards a common goal, a statement that transcends national divides. They’re a fixed event in history now and they’ll always be there for future generations to think back on and go “wow”. So yes, in my opinion they were worth it.


A related question might be, for an example, was the Great Pyramid of Giza worth it? Much like the moon landings, they have little or no practical utility, but serve as an inspirational statement of what mankind can achieve, something we are in awe of to this day. Yet the sheer amount of labour and human suffering that went into the project must have been staggering. While it may be tempting to answer yes, surely you wouldn't want to subject the ancient egyptians to years and years of hard manual labour, just so that in 4,000 years, people will look at it and go "wow"?

A strategy tip from Sid Meier's Civilization might be applicable here: new players will often suffer from "wonderitis", building tons of wonders just for the hell of it. And it's understandable: wonders are awesome. Yet most of the time, the tons of resources you poured into your vanity project would have been better spent just building temples, granaries, marketplaces and libraries.
 
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