Skip to comments.Generation X-plorers Energized by NASA's New Plans
Posted on 09/20/2005 2:35:00 PM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
After a decade of waiting, young space enthusiasts across the country are celebrating a new plan that will take them and their colleagues to the Moon and on to Mars.
"I have been waiting a long time for NASA to go beyond low Earth orbit!" said 26-year-old aerospace engineer Alicia Evans, "If they need volunteers, I am there."
The new plan is set to fit within the current NASA budget, a major change from space exploration programs of the past. Loretta Hidalgo, 31-year-old president of the Space Generation Foundation, says, "What it will give us is more bang for our space buck."
NASA has also built the next generation of space entrepreneurs into the plan, showing an unprecedented level of support for new space players like 30-something Elon Musk. (Musk founded and sold the popular internet payment site PayPal before beginning his latest venture, launch company Space Exploration Technologies). The new plan will provide contracting opportunities to stimulate a healthy entrepreneurial space sector in low Earth orbit while NASA focuses on the next frontier.
The Next Gen spacers see the new Moon missions as a giant leap forward from Apollo. The lunar crews will be able to stay for seven days instead of just three, while benefiting from 40 years of advances in materials science and computing. They will able to land anywhere on the Moon -- including the polar craters, thought to be a possible hiding place for water. There's even a plan for a lunar outpost in the works, capable of stays measured in months, not days.
The overall goal is to pave the way for outposts and human missions in a sustainable way so that the exploration will continue indefinitely. This is important to a generation who grew up seeing the Earth as a fragile blue marble, and who have felt the disappointment of space programs being cancelled just as they were reading about them in their copies of Ranger Rick.
The plan is designed with future Mars missions in mind. The launch vehicle, the number of crew the CEV can carry and even the type of fuel the Lunar Ascent Vehicle uses are all consistent with what is needed for the next step in exploration: sending humans on to Mars. That is the opportunity many of the next generation have been waiting for their whole lives.
"We now have an opportunity for our generation to make our mark on human history," said George Whitesides, Executive Director of the National Space Society, age 31. "Our parents and grandparents took us to the Moon the first time. Now it's time for us to go back to the Moon to stay, and then head straight for Mars."
NASA Administrator Mike Griffin said that science will dictate where to land and what to do while we are there. "Now is the time to be in school for a science degree," added Evans, "because it will be our generation out there exploring the Moon." With the first missions to the lunar surface set to begin in 2018, it won't just be Shuttle-era astronauts getting moon dust on their boots. The under-40 engineers now working on tough science questions will be the core of the NASA workforce in 13 years. This means jobs as mission controllers, vehicle support specialists, and, yes, lunar and martian astronauts.
As John F. Kennedy said 43 years ago, it will not be easy to go to the moon, but the goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills. Generation X-plorers are chomping at the bit to test themselves against the challenge of their lives. Ad Astra!
"NASA - it's like, totally awesome!"
"Our parents and grandparents took us to the Moon the first time. Now it's time for us to go back to the Moon to stay, and then head straight for Mars."
It was the greatest thrill of my life, as a young engineer, to work on build parts of the Apollo system. It was a tragedy to see that program stopped -- for stupid, political reasons...no there is hope to move that technology forward, to the next step!
GO NASA !!!! Back to the moon!!
There are many good reasons to go to the Moon.
We can read the history of our planet on the Moon. It will tell us about impact history and extinctions. We will be better prepared to plan for another extinction event. We may move off planet and populate the universe.
We can make rocket fuel on the Moon and cut the cost to move into the solar system by Billions of dollars.
We will make scientific breakthroughs, as we have always done when we conquer a major technology project. Look at the Internet and how we get the real news out to each other (just one small example of what space technology has inspired eager minds to invent).
We well be sure that capitalism is the first form of government that is establish on the Moon. Do not underestimate the power of that message.
There are opportunities to return energy to the Earth from the Moon. One form is solar power (you can melt the Lunar soil and make solar panels).
The discovery of ice at the poles makes the Moon our first off Earth filling station.
We can protect and repair our commercial and military satellites from the Moon, using craft fueled on the the Moon using the ice or the soil.
When there is money to be made in exploration (government setting up a Lunar base will make this possible) the advance from the technology and science will explode our economy.
We can do radio astronomy from the Moon. On the far-side there is no radio noise from Earth (the only place in the solar system where that is true). Imagine what we can see from that location.
Exciting space exploration excites our youth and that will make them eager to learn science and math. They all won't go into space studies but their education in those fields will strengthen our country.
U.S. technology is going to explode.
"U.S. technology is going to explode."
Is this a reference to a military presence in space?
[You KNOW I'm kidding around, right?] ;)
Just a little bit.
I concur. NASA can do its thing, but by all means allow the private sector into space.
If you want a Google GMail account, FReepmail me.
They're going fast!
Not to fret.
This is being led by exploration.
Exploration enables science.
Scientists are not running NASA now.
This isn't Carl Sagan's NASA anymore.
I can't believe the moaning section hasn't shoen up yet, and I've got to bug out.
And until we conquer our own planet and harness its energy, we'll never conquer our nearby star and planetary system and harness its energy. Until then, we'll remain a measly Type-0 civilization capable of only a few rare slingshot type attempts at nearby orbs.
That's one reason the Moon is important - it will be the first off-Earth filling station.
The next generation is taking the high frontier. They are not jaded, they are not obsessed with a lifetime of partisan politics. NASA bashers... you better get out of their way. Because your going to eat rocket exhaust if you dont.
Audentes fortuna juvat.
(Fortune favors the bold)
Actually, I think we ought to let Scaled Composites do it (not NASA). Burt Rutan will get it done at a 10th the price.
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