Wednesday 10 January 2018

How do we Get Back to the Moon?

2018 is an important anniversary. Most people think Apollo 11 represents man's first adventure to the moon, but it is not. It is the first time astronauts landed on the moon, but there were two manned missions to the moon before that which did not involve landings, Apollo 8 and Apollo 10. The first was Apollo 8 and it took place over the Christmas period of 1968, fifty years ago. This half-century chalk-mark should give us an opportunity to look back and reassess NASA's lunar missions and ask the questions about them that I have been asking for many years, see the background links below. I reported just before Christmas that President Trump had announced America's intention once again to put human footsteps on the moon, and that his speech totally lacked the conviction and lustre of John F Kennedy's 1961 proclamation: "We choose to go to the moon in this decade...!" etc, see: Now a new article has been published in The Washington Post revealing that NASA are not entirely sure how to return to the moon anyway. Despite being under less political pressure and enjoying 21st century technology, the agency seems to lack confidence that this objective can be achieved. The director Robert Lightfoot said: "We have no idea yet." NASA are considering asking private companies to help them, or even other countries. Source:

This news story must make some people pause and think, especially those who are old enough to remember the early Space Race. On the 25th of May 1961, six weeks after the Russian Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, President Kennedy made a speech announcing his intention to place American feet on the moon before the end of the decade; and they made it, with just five months to spare. It is incredible that in just over eight years, with the earliest rocket technology, just twelve years after the first ever artificial object left the earth, with space itself being mostly an unknown environment, NASA not only put a man on the moon, they went on to put eleven more within just four years. Only one subsequent Apollo mission went seriously wrong and no astronauts lost their lives. Yet today that same agency is scratching its head, blushing and making excuses when all anybody is asking them to do is repeat the endeavour. Nexus magazine has recently run a fascinating series of articles by the physicist Phil Kouts, for example: Kouts explains how NASA ought to be able to continue manned lunar missions fairly proficiently by building on top of the progress they made in their earliest days. For example, NASA recently wondered how they could construct a spacecraft heat-shield strong enough for re-entry at lunar transit speeds, which would have to be far more robust than the ones used by craft descending from low earth orbit like the Soyuz or Space Shuttle. Why not just use the same ones the Apollo capsules did? They worked well enough didn't they? Even Apollo 13's which had been damaged by an explosion. One explanation is that the Apollo missions were not real manned lunar missions. I am forced to agree that this is by far the most likely one. See the background links below for more information.


TC1000 said...

Your living in the past not dreaming the future.

You can't just throw away everything every time you launch anymore. Everything has to be cost-effective, reusable. To rebuild a Saturn V would be more expensive than to design and build a new reusable system, which NASA are foolishly doing. Foolish because they are also paying Boeing, SpaceX to do the same, SpaceX Soon to send people round the Moon, NASA nowhere near.

Elon Musk says he's only spent 1billion dollars including the new falcon heavy and all the rest over 16 years. He's made a lot of money from his launch systems that NASA and others mostly paid to develop and build.

NASA is like all government agencies, a big hole you keep throwing money at. Forget NASA, commercial space flight is the future.

Falcon Heavy on the launch pad for it's first test flight this month.

Tesla car to mars lol, check out that payload bay, huge.

Anonymous said...


TC1000 said...

NASA plans to send people back to the moon in 2019, that's your take on things fucked Ben.

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

I'm not sure what you mean, TC1000.