Jan 302012
 

… to find that Slate is opposed to a manned space program, since Newt Gingrich is in favor of it.

To the Moon, Newt!

Gingrich’s wasteful, scientifically unsound plan to put colonists on lunar soil.

Note that one of the claims the author of this article makes is:

Perhaps we could put mirrors on the moon to beam sunlight to Earth for power.

Take a look at the link in that line. It goes to a 2011 Daily Mail article about a Japanese company that wants to put not mirrors on the moon, but photovoltaic cells hooked up to laser or microwave transmitters. Given that lunar regolith is composed largely of the elements need to make PV cells and microwave transmitters… turning the surface of the Moon into a *vast *Solar Power Satellite is not only possible… it’s a Really Good Idea. But the author, who should (and almost certainly does) know better, makes it sound like simply putting mirrors on the moon.

Gah.

Krauss appears to be an otherwise reasonable sort of guy… but I suspect his politics has jumped in front of his reasoning power here and simply derailed it. He makes the usual mistake of assuming that the way NASA has done spaceflight in the past is the *only* way that spaceflight can be done in the future.

Anyone who works in the sciences – and Krauss is a theoretical physicist – who thinks that manned space exploration, exploitation and colonization is a bad or dumb idea is a…

 Posted by at 3:55 pm
  • Jordan

    Turning the Moon onto one giant Power Sat sounds like a much better ides than building a Moonbase there. At least you’ll have a good reason to go back to thee moon and there will be some economic incentive.

    Newt Gingrich’s idea of going back to the Moon is not a wasteful, unsound plan as you can distribute the cost of it over many years and you can build/rebuild the infrastructure to do it. But without a sound economic reason to do it, it would just flounder.

    But with turning the Moon into a Power Sat, you have a certain amount of economic incentive to go back and do it.

    If it happened then you could build your Moonbase and turn the Moon into the “51st state.”

    • Anonymous

      > Turning the Moon onto one giant Power Sat sounds like a much better ides than building a Moonbase there.

      You’d need a base there to build and maintain the power infrastructure.Hell, you’d need a base there to build and maintain the *experiments* needed to run the initial experiments. While the power infrastructure, in the end, would be largely built by robotic factories trundling across the lunar surface autonomously, the initial processes would require a lot of tinkering… and a lot of just figuring things out.

      • Guesticus

        Yeah, well I guess there was a reason why Heinlein’s political plots all advanced “by hook or by crook”. You need to con your way past the shrieking hyenas to get anything done these days.

      • Jordan

        Yes, you’ll need a base there, but it’s easier to sell it when it’s packaged with something that has great profit potential and return on investment.

        Leaving politics out of it, any thing can be done and accomplished. Now if we could only reach that point.

        • Anonymous

          > Now if we could only reach that point.

          Ask NASA how much a basic lunar base for science and preliminary mining development would cost. Then offer 1/5 that amount as a prize, and instruct and direct NASA to provide technical assistance. Other than that, leave the fedguv out of it… with the exception of providing free one-way air travel to Antarctica for obstructionist bureaucrats, lawyers and protestors.

  • K2

    Even before Apollo physicists, in general, have been against manned space flight – particularly when it appears to be taking government money from more important things – like NSF physics grants.

    • Anonymous

      > Even before Apollo physicists, in general, have been against manned space flight

      True enough. And it is a self-destructive impulse on their part. While it is true that “no bucks, no Buck Rogers,” it’s also true that “No Buck Rogers, no bucks.” A *real* manned space program would keep the public interested in science, which would help spread even *more* tax dollars to the pure physics types. Not to mention the fact that if we had a real space program, that would open up new, direct opportunities for science *in* *space.*

  • Murgatroyd

    But the author, who should (and almost certainly does) know better …

    If the Evil Tribe is for it, then my tribe, the Good Tribe, is against it.

  • Science, schmience. I want to roof the Moon over and terraform it. Tourism and retirement communities! Low-gravity sex! Giant trees! Personal flight!

    Why everyone thinks that the only purpose for sending people into space is “science” I have no idea. We didn’t colonize the New World “For Science!”. We did it for money and freedom and religion and ideology. We’ll colonize the planets and the stars for the same reasons. Science will get done along the way, but it’s unlikely to ever be the primary driver.

  • Bruce

    Think “Space:1999”.

  • Publiusr

    And even with pro-space statements, the idiots in Florida voted for Romney. I’m not big into open primaries, but Florida needs it. Here’s hoping Romney gets a coronary…