I have come to believe Apollo 8 was the real milestone and landing on the Moon anti-climactic.
It was the beginning of the space age and the end came with Apollo 17.
They are all still alive from the first mission but only Jack Schmitt from the last.
SLS and Artemis will begin the second space age over half a century after the first.
I am watching the President address congress right now and I believe the opportunity to realize human expansion into space is presenting itself by way of Climate Change. Space Solar Power was foreseen by Gerard K. O’Neill as the solution to global warming in the 70’s after Apollo. Space Solar Power as the economic engine of space colonization, and the Moon as the factory to build that engine, was O’Neill’s vision. A Green New Space Deal would direct potentially trillions of dollars at Space Solar Power as the solution to Climate Change. While the space shuttle wasted the lift of a Saturn V class launch system sending a 737-size glider a couple hundred miles up for 30 years, we now have ice on the Moon as the enabler of a permanent lunar presence and reason to spend the next 30 years returning to that prize we never should have taken our eyes off of.
Unfortunately, the NewSpace ideology that has become so popular has become the primary obstacle to any progress in space. The founder of the NewSpace flagship company has an agenda that is the anti-thesis of O’Neill. It is the worst thing that has ever happened to space exploration.
Tianhe is 3 people in a 13 ft diameter tube about a 100 ft long when the other module is docked, if I am reading this right.
No “true” space station or spaceship crew compartment yet exists providing a Near-Sea-Level-Radiation-1-Gravity environment (NSLR1G) and the minimum space required for a multi-year mission. I would guess that at least double the interior of the exterior envelope 15 foot thick water shield would entail a 60 ft diameter workshop stage and with 4 times that interior as the length plus the 30 ft for the ends of the shield that would be 270 ft long. With a several thousand ft tether system attached to the other equal mass of the station or spaceship, this is my guess at the size of a “minimum” habitable compartment.
“Anyway, anyone is free to give it a go.”
Not really….it is decided by, for the most part, individuals biased by a myriad of factors and coming to a decision they will explain in a way that satisfies those biases. Others involved have their own biases and agendas and if they are required on board a project, they may insist on their own particular details that may determine success or failure. This is how all technology has evolved at a snails pace across most of recorded history- until the scientific method was worked out. Not Howard Roark or John Galt.
Unfortunately, the scientific method, while far better than anything before, has a few little problems of it’s own with bias, and combined with individuals, committees, or a combination, driven by multiple agendas, often produces bad decisions. The single worst obstacle is, of course, the profit motive. Profit is divorced from goal-seeking in that it is a goal in itself. This is at cross-purposes and incredibly destructive but painted by those driven by greed as the only factor worth considering.
You raised a valid point- beaming energy through the atmosphere may have some effect that makes it unacceptable. But that has to be evidenced. Until it is, there is no other carbon-free way to provide a western standard of living to those 10 billion souls that will soon live on Earth. Nothing else will work- turning the Moon into a Space Solar Power satellite factory is the utilitarian path. The greatest good for the greatest number.
Musk wants condos on Mars paid for by strip-mining Earth orbit as an insurance policy for humankind. The libertarian/neoliberal-minded majority that make up his fan club see no problem with that. It is a solution that comes straight from a borderline sociopath mentality. No better Fermi Paradox great filter can be found than this kind of throwing the dice and hoping the narcissist billionaire saves us all.
O’Neill was a genius and picked what would work out of all the lesser possibilities. He understood global warming was likely going to be a problem and saw the solution.
Space Solar Power….. about which our present day false prophet says, “Space Solar Power- the stupidest thing ever”
Why I consider NewSpace the worst thing that has ever happened to space exploration.
The Moon is the factory site for the economic engine that will expand humankind off-world and an insurance policy for our species.
And yet, evidence for ice on the Moon should have pointed the space agency back at the Moon in 2010. Instead a certain “connected” entrepreneur with his hobby rocket that was useless for any lunar mission decided his company, and NASA, was not going there. Read the speech…we had already “been there.”
The sooner the ISS is gone the better. 40 years of LEO is enough.
We should have left this couple-hundred-miles-up dead end far behind in 1968- but instead retreated back to it after 1972. A very short first space age and now over a half a century waiting for the second to start.
In hindsight it is a 180 billion dollar money hole that continues to flush 4 billion a year down the drain. The Shuttle could have accomplished the same work, if you call it work, by simply loading extra life support pallets or rocket resupply. What a waste, what a deception foisted on the public.
The prize we never should have taken our eyes off of is the Moon. Unfortunately spacex, which has made the Moon verboten for a decade, has now managed yet another corporate welfare scam that will keep us from going back for years to come.
The dosing Moonwalkers receive and shortening of their careers in space due to that accrued dose makes working on the surface a no-go. Only extraordinary circumstances will see humans in space suits on the surface. Travel is possible- likely riding in water tanker trucks which will provide a cosmic ray shield. If water is transported from the lunar poles to areas where lava tubes are being developed then these tanker trucks would thus afford protection for humans and take them to the site where some extraordinary opportunity would warrant a surface excursion.