back to article The Moon? We're going nowhere, says NASA official

While this week saw NASA successfully launch its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite missions to the Moon - designed as an exploratory prelude to a human return to our satellite - a senior NASA official claimed on Wednesday that existing plans to venture beyond low-Earth orbit were …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    A visit to a dusty sound stage.

    Reuters reports that "As a curiosity, LRO is expected to look for equipment left behind during the Apollo missions of 1969-72."

    I wonder if the boom mics and obfuscating lights are still around. Seems a lot of money to just scan between areas 50 and 52 in the Nevada desert though. I guess the telltale sign will be snowmen in the polar craters.

  2. Lasers please

    Get over the humans in space thing, please!

    Humans in space costs such a stupid amount of money. How much as the ISS cost and for what benefit? I think its troubled developement swallowed up more money than the Hubble Telescope, the LHC, Cassini-Huygens and all the Mars rovers combined. Sending humans to the moon (or Mars for that matter) will surely end up costing even more. Can't we give up on this nonsense until we've got robot suits, nuclear fusion generators in breifcases and something a bit better than rockets to get us around? When I think of the number of probes we could be chucking out for the price it costs to put just a single human into space for any meaningful amount of time, I just shudder.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Sorry NASA but in 1969 didn't you

    already go to the moon in a tinfoil suit with the computing power of my digital watch ? Why would it be more difficult to get there today ? Goto the Smithsonian and get back your lunar landers and use them.

    Unless you've never really been to the moon,.....

  4. richard 69

    as much as i love astronomy...

    in a recession, should we really be spending billions on getting to the moon?

    it's a fascinating subject, but really, couldn't some of the cash at least be spent elsewhere?

    like fixing poor housing, repairing roads, treating illnesses etc....i love space travel/exploration etc etc but at the end of the day...what's the bloody point?

  5. Ebeneezer Wanktrollop

    Doesn't compute

    They sent people to the moon 40 odd years ago but can't even replicate the technology they had then using modern manufacturing processes - it's just a bloody rocket! Update the computer systems to current PC spec - not that you need to as it ran fine back then - what's the problem??? It is after all, fuel and plastic and metal plus no R&D because you've already done it once - COPY IT!!!

    Yeah the theorists will be out on this one. News likes this makes me wonder if they're right.

  6. A B 3

    I posted this on New Scientist also

    (pic Moon) Build the thing out of ISS modules. Add (1) rocket module. Connect (1) classic lunar lander. Transfer crew via Space Shuttle. Then full ahead Mr. Worf.

    "If you told that to young people nowadays, they wouldn't believe you."

  7. Lionel Baden 1

    this so pisses me off

    we have had untold amount of advances in technology and they claim its not viable to put somebody on the moon !

    ok i have to admit i wont be glued to the telly to watch it but i think its a worthwhile cause

  8. Emo

    Elon Musk

    The scent. For a man or a butch woman.

  9. Stevie Silver badge


    Yes, farming out government development projects to private industry always saves money and never results in massive cost overruns, late deliveries and runaway corruption.

    Sgt. York. B1. "Star Wars".

    All examples of how right this ecellent idea is.

  10. Mike Richards Silver badge

    NASA budget and @Ebeneezer Wanktrollop

    It's worth remembering that in the 1960s NASA's share of the Federal Budget peaked at over 5.5% almost all of which was devoted to Apollo, today it gets little over 0.5% to support the Shuttle, the ISS, develop new lunar programmes AND it's unmanned work. In equivalent cash terms, NASA today gets about half of what it was getting during the 1960s.

    @ Ebeneezer Wanktrollop (love the name)

    'They sent people to the moon 40 odd years ago but can't even replicate the technology they had then using modern manufacturing processes - it's just a bloody rocket! Update the computer systems to current PC spec - not that you need to as it ran fine back then - what's the problem??? It is after all, fuel and plastic and metal plus no R&D because you've already done it once - COPY IT!!!'

    If only they had been given that option. Constellation was told to reuse as much Shuttle technology as possible. NASA could easily commission more Saturn Vs - the blueprints are all there; it's that there's no money to set up the production lines once again.

    To be fair Constellation is a little more advanced than Apollo as it envisions long-duration lunar visits and repurposing the rockets for most launches rather than the single-purpose Saturn V. In many ways it's the same philosophy the USSR had with their N1 Moon rocket - oh and that didn't work either.

  11. rob 104

    Pinnacle of Human achievement

    lets face it the technolicical pinnacle of human achievement was 1969-1972

    landed on the moon

    built concorde

    lambogini countach

    its all down hill now

  12. Simon Brenchley

    Re: Rob 104

    Nonsense, now we have:




    I fail to see how we can possibly top these though...

  13. MD Rackham

    Space Spending in a Recession

    Just where do you think all that moon-mission money goes? Most of it goes to workers/suppliers who spend it, thus keeping the economy going.

    Yes, some goes to already wealthy executives who just sit on the money, but compared to the amount the US is spending on bailing out banks, where the money does nothing but keep wealthy people in caviar with huge quantities of it passed through to other country's banks, space spending is a direct stimulus to the US economy. Apollo (and the cold war) built Southern California.

    Remember that the motto of Apollo contractors was "Waste anything but time." With the reduced budget NASA now has to live with, that means that a lot of time gets wasted.

  14. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "The Shaft"

    Ares 1 is known as "the shaft" because that's what the taxpayers are getting. It'll use up all the money fixing all the problems in the design instead of building capability.

    Besides, we should leave science and space and all the other high technology to the Russians and Japanese. The US would rather watch reality TV than have to learn all that hard stuff. Math is HARD!

    There's a reason the best cars, steel, and electronics are made in Japan and not the US, and especially not Britain.

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    NASA are the heirs to NIH*

    If they did not design it it (or have it designed at their direction) it cannot be any good.

    Their fondness for single sourcing deals with no competitive tendering (which dates from the contract for the transporter that moved Saturn to the launch pad. Another company had to go to court be be considered. It won. Upgraded versions of it are still moving shuttles around).

    They will do almost anything to keep alive their favourite suppliers (look at the original J2S).

    And let's not forget what happened when they (finally) consolidated the accounts system of 11 sites (under SAP as it happens) and discovered $587 *billion* in discrepancies running from 1958 onward (note in accountancy land a mis-entry of 1 too high in 1 account matched by 1 too low in another equals a discrepancy of 2)

    Is it perhaps time for the "Winning team," which does not seem to have won for some time, to be retired?

    *Not Invented Here. Favourite saying at GE labs. IIRC.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lack of thought

    The problem with NASA is/was the fact they spent so much money on exploding totem poles to get into space they investigated any other way.

    If they'd looked at Arthur C Clark's 'Prelude to Space', as Sir Richard appears to have done, they would be going to orbit on a weekly schedule rather than the few and far between blast ofs of the shuttle.

  17. Alien8n


    It's hardly rocket science is it?

  18. Stuart Halliday

    Memory cheats?

    People here seem not to realise that in 1969 when Neil walked on the moon that he and Buzz almost never made it. The on-board computer systems kept reporting false errors and the system even had to be re-programmed by hand in hexadecimal code by non-programing Astronauts as they approached the moon over a dodgy low quality audio radio signal.

    Even then they had less than 30seconds of flight left to find a decent spot to put down. They got down with less than 15seconds of fuel left. If that particular area had been a bit more rocky, then Neil and Buzz would have left a rather large organic splat on the surface.

    Each Apollo trip after that had other similar near fatal problems. But we only seem to remember Apollo 13 for some reason.

    Nowadays we'd like it to be a tad more safe for these guys don't we?

    Go and read a decent book on the Apollo history and be amazed how they got there and off it at all.

  19. Jez Burns

    @John Smith

    "(note in accountancy land a mis-entry of 1 too high in 1 account matched by 1 too low in another equals a discrepancy of 2)"

    Really interesting- didn't know that, thanks! Any indication whether in NASA's case this was too high or too low?

    @Stuart Halliday

    Yeah, not to mention how lucky they were not to get fried in solar ratiation. Perhaps back in the day, any risks were worth taking to get ahead of the Commies?

    Thumb Down

    I'm skeptical.

    Q: If they landed on the moon once, why is it so hard for them to go there again?

    A: They can't return to the moon because they were never there.

  21. JC 2
    IT Angle

    Good News!

    Now we can finally declare the budget in large excess and trim it back even more.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have NASA not fessed up yet?

    They have never been to the moon, it was just a publicity stunt, hilarious there appear to be some conspiracy nuts who still believe man worked on the man. I wonder what happens when they watch other SciFi. Bizarre.

  23. Dom 3


    @Stuart Halliday: you're right to highlight that a much higher level of risk was acceptable in the 60s. I've read that the Apollo astronauts themselves reckoned they had about a 2 in 3 chance of returning alive. You're wrong about the Apollo 11 landing. The AGC was not re-programmed:

    and if they had not found somewhere to land they simply (?) would have followed the abort procedure. If they had only a few seconds of fuel left it's because NASA got the calculations right.

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