Why Newt’s Wrong About The Moon

Space is also big. Other planets are far. Other solar systems are crazily far even at the speed of light.

I’ve been reading about Newt Gingrich’s call for American bases on the Moon before the end of his second term. His heart is in the right place, but that mission isn’t going to happen. Few are willing to say it, but the real future of space exploration doesn’t include men.

The simple truth is once you leave the surface of the Earth it’s extremely difficult to provide a living environment that allows work. There is no walking in your shirtsleeves on a nice summer’s day anywhere but Earth!

Space is also big. Other planets are far. Other solar systems are crazily far even at the speed of light. Voyager 1 was launched in 1977 and it’s still within our own solar system.

NASA figured this out a long time ago. They send turnkey projects into space. A rover on Mars doesn’t need a driver. It arrives mostly assembled and finishes the job on its own!

NASA’s expertise could be scaled up to build larger projects deployed away from Earth. It’s possible there are commercial implications though I don’t see any.

Space travel without humans is no less meaningful. It’s a lot less romantic.

10 thoughts on “Why Newt’s Wrong About The Moon”

  1. I always think of space travel in terms of Navel exploration of our own earth. Basically all we have managed to do so far is hollow out a log, put three people in it and float it too the next island. Maybe sometime in the future we will figure out how to put a sail on the log and maybe an outboard motor and then manned space travel will be a possibility. Ok its nice to work in your shirt sleeves but there are plenty of people couped up in a small tube for 6 months of the year on Earth, they are called submariners. But until the technology matches the drive then there is no need for bases on the moon. Geoff is right when it comes to Voyager launched over 30 years ago that its barely touching the edge of the solar system now. (although Deep Horizons launched to picture pluto and the Kuiper belt beyond will leave in a shorter period of time but will be dead by the time it does)

    A good giggle at the moment is had with the countries most likely to visit the moon next, the top four being USA, China, Russia and India but in 5th place is the Isle of man, a small island between England and Ireland in the North Sea, yes they do have a space program designed around space tourism but it shows how little most major countries view space travel at this moment in time.

  2. I disagree; We need a very robust MANNED space exploration program. Our human population is ever increasing, with over 7+ BILLION people presently populating our planet. At our current reproductive rate, that population figure will easily reach 10+ billion in the next 50 years (that’s the low estimate – Most estimates are within the 13-15 billion range).

    Unless Earth (not just a few first-world countries, but Earth) radically alters the way it manages it’s resources (including it’s human resources), that’s far too many humans for our ecosystem to support without also shattering our already vulnerable environment. If you think that the pollution is bad now, wait until ANOTHER 100 million SUVs are out on the road on top of what we already have!

    We need an aggressive manned space exploration program. Yes, it will be expensive (maybe as expensive as our present and recently “ended” wars). Yes, it will be fraught with peril and disaster (Our failures will probably eclipse our space shuttle disasters). Yes, there will be resource mismanagement and the usual collision of massive egos that will hamper our progress.

    Yet failure to aggressively explore space and colonize (even when it is not economically viable to do so) the celestial bodies that we can runs greater risks to our civilization then if we do not. We run the risk of “brain drain” that talented scientists in space-related fields will take their abilities to other, more progressive countries. We run the risk of stunting our economic growth by not discovering new innovations that will eventually translate into non-space related industries (power tools, anyone?).

    There is a place for non-manned space exploration and it is both considerably large and considerably valuable. To dismiss manned space exploration, though, is to also dismiss the reality of an increasing population and the fact that our planet is in constant peril (asteroids, gamma ray bursts, the Sun eventually expanding and making living conditions on our planet really really uncomfortable, etc.).

    The simple truth is that humanity is either leaving our planet someday or will be buried with it.

  3. It’s all over for planet Earth. Extinction rates today are 1000x the normal background rate, science is widely denied, population is out of control and even progressives refuse to confront that reality. Climate change is about politics, not science. A great study out of Univ. of Kent (UK) explored the mindlessness of it all:


    Yvon Chouinard, climber and founder of Patagonia, Inc. was right when he recently said, “We’re toast”.

  4. Newt thinks of himself as a charismatic leader – he should go to the moon himself and lead the rest of us. He could leave tomorrow. Or even today.

  5. The merits of such a program aside, a country that is trying to reduce the size of government and cut taxes is not a country that’s going to send people to the moon anytime soon. We like the idea of doing things and going places no other nation can, but paying the bill doesn’t interest us that much.

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