back to article 'We go back to the Moon to stay': Apollo vets not too chuffed with NASA's new rush to the regolith

Apollo astronauts Walt Cunningham and Rusty Schweickart spoke at ESA's 2019 ESTEC shindig in the Dutch beach town of Noordwijk over the weekend, and The Register was fortunate enough to chat with the pair. Now 87, Cunningham's single jaunt to space was aboard Apollo 7, the first crewed flight of the programme. The 1968 mission …

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I'll give it a go..

        Because Russia is the only supplier of Chemtrail juice, and we'd quit buying?

        Because if they spilled the beans, people would launch rockets for reals and would find out about the secret world goberment base past Antarctica (not on, *past*, the earth is flat, sheeple!)?

        Because their space program is faker than ours?

        Because they also trade with secret alien societies?

        How am I doing at the tinfoil hat routine?

        1. Kernel

          Re: I'll give it a go..

          "How am I doing at the tinfoil hat routine?"

          You missed the one about the other 'similar to but not quite' humans that live in the centre of our hollow planet, with access to our world via a hole near the North Pole.

          1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: I'll give it a go..

            @Kernel - "You missed the one about the other 'similar to but not quite' humans that live in the centre of our hollow planet, with access to our world via a hole near the North Pole."

            Wait, so the Earth is flat AND hollow? Euclid lied!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I'll give it a go..

            Yeah, and those lucky bastards still get to ride dinosaurs.

      2. Crazy Operations Guy

        I've never had anyone answer that one either. Pretty much the first argument I use now anytime I encounter a lunatic. Saves a lot of time, because they either just disappear from the conversation, or spout some extremely weird nonsense that tells me that they are well beyond reasoning and I shouldn't waste the effort.

        The most common "explanation" I've heard was that the Russians were lizard people that were worried that if they proved the US didn't get to moon, then humanity would keep trying until we succeeded and would've stumbled onto their lizard base.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Because the soviet union was also faked.

          Have you seen the footage of anything built in Russia in the 60s/70s/80s?

          It was all such low budget crap it was obviously knocked together on a backlot for cheap.

          Do you know any friends / neighbors who visited the USSR? No - because it was all faked....

          1. Nick Ryan Silver badge
            WTF?

            You think that's bad?

            Consider the moon. Not only is the thing not made of cheese, of any variety, it doesn't even really exist. Seriously. It is nothing more than a circular disk stuck on a nightime sky-scape. I know this is true because I saw the Truman documentary which is obviously true becaue of the name. Also, stars are not real and are just stage lights.

            Get with the program, sheeple.

          2. Paul Cooper

            Actually, I and about 30 other youngsters from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire went to the USSR in 1971! School trip to Moscow and Leningrad, would you believe?

            1. red floyd

              You're just a shill for Big MOON!!!

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              >from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire went to the USSR in 1971!

              I'm from sheffield and in the 70s the USSR used to send people to us to see what true communism would be like.

          3. Precordial thump
            Coat

            There's an alleged nuclear power plant near Pripyat that fell to pieces decades ago...

            (too soon?)

    1. el_oscuro
      FAIL

      Clean drinking water is also a pretty big requirement for any permanent Moon colony. Except the Moon makes the Sahara look like a paradise. Don't you think the technology used to manage water on the Moon might solve some of those same problems on Earth?

    2. Citizens untied

      Until you account for all of the environmental damage your millions of neglected humans (please remember the extinctions) cause, or dream of causing, I could honestly care less.

      Space exploration, by definition, is an exercise in resource limits and conservation. It may be some of the most useful science and engineering being practiced.

    3. Esme

      andy103, attempts to get the human species as a whole to behave entirely rationally have thus far failed and seem doomed to failure for the forseeable future. If you're expecting that to change anytime soon, you're delusional, although I wish to heck that somehow that particular feat could be achieved in an ethically acceptable manner. Maybe it's a failure of my imagination, but I can't see how that could be achieved.

      But that's not a good reason for us to not do anything else aside from trying to achieve that particular impossibility, as has been pointed out eloquently by others in this thread. As have the likely benefits from us getting out there , developing resources for use down here and establishing colonies, etc.

      With regard to your claims about whether humans have been to the moon or not already, there appear to be only three options - you either understand science insufficiently to know what you are talking about, you are a delusional conspiracy theorist, or you are a troll. In the first instance, improving your science education will save yourself from embarrassing yourself in public like this in future. In the second, please go and seek the help you need, and if the third is correct, also please go seek the help you need.

      Being an idealist is good - but you have to be a realistic in your approach to things. If my ideal world came to pass many here would probably deem it a Socialist Utopia - but human nature being what it is, I doubt that would ever be achievable (not least because my idea of a Utopia apparently fills some folk with horror), so rather than berate the bulk of humanity for not being as logical and cooperative as I'd like them to be, I instead applaud those doing worthy things and hope that, one way or another, it will lead to better things somewhere, somewhen, for at least some folk. That, at least, seems a realistically achievable goal.

      Getting heavy industry out in space using resources mined off-planet could well help things down here quite a lot, and thus I applaud those working on getting us Out There in order to start doing those things rather than berating folk for not fulfilling my Utopian dreams. And it's not as if many people aren't doing their best to work on the very problems you mention as well. It isn't a one or the other situation, and denying ourselves the benefits of getting into space will not magically solve other problems. That's simply wishful thinking. Or trolling.

      1. John Mangan

        @Esme

        I tried REALLY hard but I could only upvote this once, sorry.

    4. The IT Ghost

      Walter Mondale was saying pretty much the same thing in the early 1970s. Here we are, 45 years later with a busted space program, still spending money by the billions on "social programs", and people still don't have all these great things. People should have learned decades ago - government doesn't fix problems. They just throw money at them and hope something good happens they can claim credit for.

    5. Patrician

      "Which is still questionable to this day"

      No. it's not "questionable" if you understood the engineering and science; have a read here:-

      http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/tv/foxapollo.html

    6. Robert Helpmann??
      WTF?

      In reverse order:

      Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there. A very strange set of priorities for human beings - let's try and live on the Moon whilst neglecting millions of people who are still on Earth who have solvable issues? Are you serious?

      Because I am willing to help my fellow human doesn't mean I should forsake all other endeavors and resign myself and my heirs to a joyless existence. As far as going to the moon or flying to distant stars, I am willing to put quite a it of effort and resource into getting away from the kind of idiocy you're pushing.

      Indeed there are things on Earth where the money would be far better spent. Clean drinking water for everyone?

      Really? So ensuring the long term survival of the species in the face of another extinction event is not a good idea? Confused how resource allocation within a budgetary process works or simply pissed because it didn't yield the result you hoped for? If it means so much to you, go do something instead of bitching about it here. You might actually accomplish something worthwhile and at least you have some control over how your time is spent. With any luck, you'll be able to find something more useful to do than mildly irritating those around you.

      That's assuming they went in the first place. Which is still questionable to this day.

      Just because someone continues to question doesn't mean the issue hasn't been long settled. I should mention that it's good of you to do so as everyone who read your post understands quite well what they are dealing with, but I don't think that was your intent.

  1. hplasm
    Facepalm

    Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

    Why don't you do that, and let us know when you are up to speed with things, eh?

    1. andy 103

      Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

      The point being, how can anyone prioritise going to the Moon (either to visit or stay) when there are literally millions of people on Earth who are not having their basic needs met? Clean drinking water was 1 of many many examples.

      How is that a reasonable position for a species that's supposed to care and have empathy towards other human beings?

      If that's your attitude then maybe living on the Moon would be a good idea...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

        Yes, let's stop all scientific progress, and instead channel all resources into keeping ever more people alive. I mean, it's not as if the single biggest problem we face is having too many people on the planet ...

        1. andy 103

          Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

          "into keeping ever more people alive"

          Wow, just wow. There was someone in the 1930's-40's who had a similar attitude.

          Maybe we should shut down hospitals too as that would help solve your resource problems? Could use the spare change to send a couple of people to the Moon. Fucking moron.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

            "Fucking moron."

            You lose.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

            "Maybe we should shut down hospitals too as that would help solve your resource problems?"

            Well, yes, if we're into silly arguments. We could channel the extra money into clean water. Or we could abandon the clean water and put it all into more food. There's one word which you seem to have forgotten: balance.

          3. Mike Moyle

            Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

            The Earth is finite.

            Therefore, it has finite resources.

            Any closed system, the laws of thermodynamics tell us, is a losing proposition; entropy inevitably increases. Hence, recycling what we have here while avoiding "spending billions out there" (...what are we spending our money on "out there"...? I thought it was all paying for stuff down HERE that would GET us out there!) is, inevitably, a losing proposition. It will allow us to deplete our resources more slowly, but just as inevitably.

            Meanwhile, "solving" one problem (or, at least, reducing that problem's impact below the threshold where it's seen as a problem) simply raises ANOTHER problem into the position that that one formerly held. Eliminating smallpox simply made some OTHER disease the Number N killer in the world. Were we able to eliminate every disease but the common cold then, by definition, the common cold would be the major killer in public health and so would absolutely HAVE to be solved before we did anything else. This trend holds for ANY group of problems: Demanding that [set of problems] MUST be solved before [other thing] can be done doesn't mean that [other thing] will ever get done if [set of problems] actually DOES get solved; all it means, inevitably, is that [new set of problems] will now be the bugbears that MUST BE SOLVED before we can even THINK about doing [other thing].

            ...And -- based on the above mentioned laws of thermodynamics -- [new set of problems] will need to be solved with fewer resources than were available to solve the ORIGINAL [set of problems].

            Thus, the end result of a "fix everything down here before even THINKING about going out there" mentality is -- inevitably -- that eventually we will no longer have the resources available to us to make the sustained effort necessary and it will be IMPOSSIBLE to leave the Earth at all, since we will have "conserved" and "recycled" ourselves into poverty for all.

            OTOH, there appear to be vastly greater resources, in terms of energy, minerals and hydrocarbons, in the asteroid belt, the gas giants, and their moons -- not to mention the sheer amount of new knowledge learned out there and while trying to GET out there -- -- which, if we could but access them, might help us solve those Earthbound problems.

            1. Mr Humbug

              I see what you mean, but actually the Earth is not a closed system. It receives energy from the sun - which is why the creationists' argument that evolution contravenes the second law of thermodynamics is wrong.

          4. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

            "There was someone in the 1930's-40's who had a similar attitude."

            A Godwinner is you! Thread over. For you, anyway. The rest of us can go on with business as usual.

          5. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

            Nonono Old Boy, you missed that gentleman's subtext. His initial move was to get elbow room so even *more* of the "right" people could breed freely.

            I believe the poster you were responding to was suggesting that there is a simple, non-lethal method for reducing the load on the Earth's finite resources - contraception.

            Proper education and easy access to contraception would solve many of the Earth's resource-stress-induced problems and kill no-one. Of course, then you wouldn't be able to view pregnancy as God's Punishment for Ungodly Behavior inconvenient blessing whose life is to be treasured until old enough to hold a gun.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

          That's actually not a bad idea. In *practice* it's impossible.

          Same with science. It's not a bad idea, but in practice, we hit all the problems (tools turned to weapons, great data used for fake opinions etc).

          If we dropped 99% of science, but spent our entire time looking after other people, and 100% of the world did that, it'd be a great place to live. As most disease/illness is covered already (and even was to some extent in the past).

          War, and fighting over resources, exuberates a lot of the problems science is trying to "solve". And the biggest most perfect hammer in the universe, is still only a hammer. Needs the right person to use it.

          Don't make the same error as the poster above, 2 wrongs don't make a right. But only 1 right (science or devoting time to care for others) is a start, not an exclusive/excluded option list. :)

          1. vtcodger Silver badge

            Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

            That's actually not a bad idea. In *practice* it's impossible.

            Perhaps it's impossible. But we could try to avoid doing things that obviously aren't very productive. Right now -- and for the foreseeable future I fear -- an appalling percentage of our space activity funding is going to be spent on building huge rockets rather than on the payloads. Seems to me that's closer to pyramid building than science. Spending resource to get the (spectacularly late and over budget) James Webb Space Observatory out to L2 certainly qualifies as science. Hopefully the damn thing works.

            Spending resource to get a few astronauts back to the moon OTOH seems mostly pointless.

      2. John Mangan

        Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

        This is such a tired old trope; any discovery, any research CAN pay dividends for humanity. CAN, not necessarily will because of politics, greed, religious conflict, tribal jealousies and on and on. To do NOTHING until ALL of humanity's problems are solved is a sure way to solve NONE of them (sorry, channelled BB a bit there).

        "Hey, why are you leaving Africa when there's still people here living in caves?"

        "Columbus, get out of that boat! There are people living in squalor here"

        "Orville, Wilbur stop tinkering with that contraption and sort out the plight of the native americans."

        And you really should know better than to try and throw doubt on the moon landings on a site such as this!

        1. andy 103

          Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

          "throw doubt on the moon landings on a site such as this!"

          Bias doesn't equate to facts. This isn't the Daily Mail either.

          1. John Mangan

            Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

            It's not a matter of bias:

            - a nationwide building and R&D process

            - a worldwide tracking and communications effort

            - a cold war environment in which you can be certain the Russians were also monitoring and would have happily spilt the beans

            - rocks retrieved from the moon and analysed around the world

            - mirrors planted on the moon that to this day allow range-finding

            That's just a short list that appeared in my mind in less than 30 seconds. I'm sure there are plenty more I, and others, could produce with a couple of moments thought.

            Are you also a member of the Flat Earth Society?

          2. Glen 1 Silver badge

            Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

            Bias doesn't. Data does.

            There is an overwhelming amount of evidence we went to the moon. Not least that the main competitors, Russia, believe it. (Y'know, people with radar and everything)

            The burden of proof is on you.

          3. iron Silver badge

            Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

            > Bias doesn't equate to facts.

            Based on your posts in this thead I don't think you'd recognise a fact if I hit you over the head with it.

        2. Jason Bloomberg
          Childcatcher

          Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

          Do NOTHING until ALL of humanity's problems are solved

          I don't agree with that approach but I do sympathise with the view that there can be better and more worthwhile things to spunk tens of billions on.

          I recognise that even tens of billions are a drop in the ocean when it comes to how much we would need to solve the problems the world has, how little such huge sums amount to when divied-out across the people who need help, but it often does feel our priorities are very wrong.

          It's not unreasonable that some people feel the same way about space exploration as others do about 'wasting money' on HS2, nukes, armies, art, free healthcare, or whatever their pet peeve is.

          1. Citizens untied

            Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

            These are more than pet peeves. War is just about the most reckless and vain human activity. I used to feel a little awkward with the "War is Not Healthy for Children and Other Living Things" posters, think that this was the sentiment of someone who didn't understand modernity.

            I realize the person who cam up with this PERFECTLY understands it, and is wondering why the rest of us don't.

      3. TopCat72

        Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

        Why can't we do both?

      4. iron Silver badge

        Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

        > Clean drinking water was 1 of many many examples.

        Perfect example. The Apollo programme invented water purifiers.

        Tell me again how never going to space would have enabled us to improve clean drinking water on Earth.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

          Clean drinking water in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd world comes from the invention of concrete - and a reduction in wars which allow you to build and keep the pipes

          Apollo's water purifiers (electronic ion release) doesn't have a big role in an African village

      5. Kernel

        Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

        "How is that a reasonable position for a species that's supposed to care and have empathy towards other human beings?"

        I think you'll find that that is a developed/learned behaviour, as opposed to what we really are by nature - an intelligent and extremely adaptable animal that got to where it is today by pursuing a programme of aggressive expansion at any cost, especially towards anything, including members of our own species, that got in the way.

        The meek won't really inherit the earth and people are generally going to put their own interests ahead of some unknown's.

      6. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

        Andy 103, A good video to look up is Al Bartlett's "Arithmetic, Population and Energy" for a look into how population growth hasn't been a good thing. You could also read Malthus.

        Millions of people alive today that don't get enough to eat, drink and proper shelter isn't going to be solved with money. In some parts of the world, people have lots of kids because they know that many of them won't live past childhood and the ones that do are the retirement plan of their parents to have somebody to look after them when they get too old to look after themselves. There is also the problem of certain cultures that put an emphasis on large families. There is lack of reproductive knowledge and education of women which is shown to lead to small family sizes through planning. The one that bugs me the most is religious edicts that demonize reproductive education and prohibit contraception.

        I see a downside of going back to the moon is that it will be safer to work on vaccines and therapies for viruses that are highly dangerous to work with on Earth. Stuff like Ebola, Marbug, SHF. A moon lab isolated so it can be "burned down" in the event of a mishap would make working on these dangerous organisms much safer. This would mean that more people would survive this very infectious diseases. You have to realize that disease is often nature's way of controlling a population that is too successful and isn't being kept down through predation.

        Some problems can't be fixed by the simple application of money. Los Angeles has a big homeless problem and passed new taxes to provide funds to build low cost housing and shelters for people that find themselves living rough. So far they've been pissing the money away on studies, permits, city fees, consultants, etc. What they've come up with are living units costing around $600,000ea. The level of stupidity is so high that it's hard to see how it could reach such heights. A few hours from Los Angeles, homes can be purchased for around $200,000. Decent homes with lots of space, not dinky little "living units".

        Stopping all science is never going to solve societies problems. Enabling people to live a worthless life by giving them food, shelter, health care, mobile, utilities, transportation and entertainment so they can get even more by popping out another child year after year instead of funding science doesn't move humanity forward. Governments are encouraging children to be born out of wedlock as a single mother can get subsides that a couple could not. It makes more sense for people to not make the commitment of marriage from a financial standpoint. They just put "unknown" for father on the birth certificate so the father won't be trussed up in court and made to pay for his offspring. The State would have to spend huge sums of money to prove paternity if they suspect that the woman's current "partner" is the father of her child(ren).

        While "literally" millions of people aren't having they basic needs met, they aren't spending their nights contemplating their navels. They seem to be up to something. Perhaps that's the problem and not the program to put a permanent base on the moon.

  2. sbt Silver badge

    ..to stay

    For some reason my first thought was of the Safire memo, if 11 didn't get home.

    Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

    Surely extended visits are in order before a permanent base can be established.

    1. Ken 16

      Re: ..to stay

      There can be a permanently staffed base which different teams of astronauts occupy for extended visits. No one is, I hope, suggesting one way missions.

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: ..to stay

        Just curious, if there's bodies in a graveyard can you say the graveyards permanently staffed?

        Umm... Asking for a friend... Hey hey, dont push, I'll get my coat...

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: ..to stay

          There's a graveyard in my town marked on the maps as 'disused'. I'm not entirely sure how you can have a 'disused graveyard'.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: ..to stay

            I suppose it's slightly more meaningful than a "No Vacancies" sign.

      2. sbt Silver badge
        WTF?

        That's one giant leap

        I'm certainly not suggesting one way. It was just the use of the word "stay".

        But is it realistic, after a ~50 year absence, to immediately establish permanent occupation? Surely you've got to make a whole bunch of supply runs, establish life support, protection from cosmic rays, escape systems, redundant power supplies, etc?

        Or it is going to be like when rich folks go on a short camping trip but take 10 suitcases and a few trunks?

      3. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: ..to stay

        "No one is, I hope, suggesting one way missions."

        I can think of a few good candidates . . .

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