Fake history of our space program abounds within the 'Go to Mars!' lunatics who also dream of building a big base on the moon (um, to do what?). They grossly misrepresent the reality behind our faltering space program when it comes to shuffling human biomass all over the place.
It is an opinion long and widely held within the space-exploration community that the Nixon administration’s termination of the program that built the Saturn V Moon rocket was a gargantuan mistake.
In those early days, the possibilities for human space travel were intoxicating. Back then, NASA plans called for an aggressive integrated human flight program that would expand on the developments of Apollo: the establishment of a 50-person lunar base, a 100-person Earth-orbiting space station and human landfall on Mars, all by the mid-1980s. Those plans also included a 50-person semi-permanent Martian base by the end of the 20th century. Instead, we went nowhere.
Why? Because, largely for political reasons, we renounced the Moon, abandoned Apollo and the Saturn V and retreated to low Earth orbit, where we’ve spent the last 25 years going around in circles.
The cost to the nation of this misstep was enormous. For starters, we lost an investment, adjusted for inflation to 2007 dollars, of $160 billion. That was the cost to get to, land on, walk on, drive on and otherwise explore the Moon. (Of that amount, $29 billion, in inflation-adjusted dollars, was the approximate cost of the Saturn V.)
I remember the last trip to the moon. My father, Dr. Aden Meinel, watched the news that evening and then went outside the veranda of our ranch and looked at the moon sitting just above the dark purple mountains in the violet evening twilght and said, 'This is the last trip to the moon. There will be probably no others because there is no political reason to go there anymore.' He sighed and added, 'People will think this never really happened and it will be seen as a legend instead of real.'
As one of the fathers of NASA, he spoke from the heart in private but in public, he kept on trying to get Congress to spend money on space program things like the upcoming Hubble Space Telescope. Few Americans are aware that the first space telescope ended in the Atlantic Ocean. Getting Congress to pay for another try was very difficult. First, NASA had to make a reusable flight machine for putting up satellites like the Hubble Space Telescope.
Getting funding for this was nearly impossible. Few of the people goofing around with the notion of going to Mars really understand how stressed out the American economy was in the last years of Nixon: we were going bankrupt. Thanks to the Cold War and the Vietnam hot war, we spent all our good capital and good will collected after WWII. The dollar was dying against the yen and the deutsche mark. This was a severe problem, When I was in Germany in 1968, I got 4 DM to my dollar, in 1972, it was half that! Talk about collapse!
Russia was even more stressed. They gave up trying to take over the moon which was as useless to them as to us. So they decided to take the lower L orbits. They launched a space station. Our military flipped out. They needed one two. Russia offered, through the UN, to have both of us sign a 'Peaceful Uses of Space' treaty which the USA military refused to entertain at all.
So Congress was persuaded by the Pentagon to fund the Space Shuttle which was conceived of as and used mostly for, military purposes in space. It most certainly was NOT a civilian craft for science. Of course, the military applications were all top secret so no one ever hears of them except the Russians and Chinese who spy out what they are.
The concept of a reusable craft was for financial reasons. Back then, our government had to worry about pretending to balance the budget in some way. The 'tax revolt' was barely underway and it wasn't until Reagan, we got the full brunt of that silly revolution.
This latest article glosses over the grave economic hazards of wild spending on space exploration while at the same time, cities were burning down thanks to urban riots which then became a quarter century of increasing destruction on a daily basis of nearly all our major cities, and the de-industrialization of the northern half of America as factories began to ooze to cheaper labor/nonunion states. Reagan's tax cutting coupled with wild spending meant we could have our cake and eat it too. Even on Mars.
But no one was interested in space by then. The shuttle blew up when Reagan wanted to talk to the teacher put in space on a publicity stunt which went sour, spectacularly. After that, interest in space really waned. I watched from the front seats.
Over the years, a loud body of space enthusiasts, turned on by rather infantile TV shows where space travel was purely magical, began to agitate to go to Mars. At the same time, the human destruction of this planet has roared ahead with a vengeance, species going extinct at an amazing clip, global pollution/global warming and humans using up many natural resources rapidly, the ecology movement clashing with the space cadet movement leading to today: we are going bankrupt, doing practically nothing useful about both the planet earth AND the planet Mars.
All the present talk about the moon is military: the Chinese just showed us they can destroy all our satellites from weapons based on earth. They will next apply this to space-orbital platforms. They already said they will set up such systems on the moon and thus, double-trump us. So we suddenly announce, we will set up a military fort on the back side of the moon, hahaha.
But again, the only way we can do this thanks to the Reagan/monetarist/free trade revolution, by asking the Chinese for more loans.
And since this super-duper space cadet base is aimed at destroying China, it has zero chance of ever being built.
Of course, NASA and the Pentagon could ask us to pay taxes to make up the budget deficit, an extra half a trillion a year. Ha. I can see it now, them trying to run candidates on that ticket! 'We will double taxes so we can have a moon base!' is nifty! I'll make the posters and leaflets.
But of course, this latest space cadette is coy about funding. She talks about the loss of money 'invested' in the moon explorations. Well, if she wants to go to Mars, all she has to do is reform our nation so we have no trade or budget deficits and THEN tax everyone so she can have the extra trillion or three needed to do this little thing.
I seriously doubt this will happen. Russia doesn't pay for its continuing space program by getting IOUs from China, they formed a joint organization that is just getting off the launch pad that unites both so they can build that base on the moon and trump us.
Porcos ignores this reality because she is an American. Which means, dense as a turtle turned to stone. Ie: Stupid.
If America wants to be like Spock, we first have to learn how to balance a bank book, practice real diplomacy using words and good intentions and then we should look in a huge number of mirrors and fix all the ugly warts on our faces. We won't take over the moon or conquer Mars if we are mired in massive wars with peasants in Vietnam, Iraq, all of Africa or you name it. We are more likely to be conquered by space aliens than get anything off this earth at this rate.