We’re not going back to the moon

This is kind of depressing, but I don’t know why – but NASA administrator Bolden says that NASA has no plans to lead another mission to the moon within our lifetime:

“However, he made it clear NASA has no plans to lead its own human return to the Moon under his watch. “NASA will not take the lead on a human lunar mission,” he said. “NASA is not going to the Moon with a human as a primary project probably in my lifetime. And the reason is, we can only do so many things.” Instead, he said the focus would remain on human missions to asteroids and to Mars. “We intend to do that, and we think it can be done.” (from SpacePolitics.com and several other places.)

Yes I am old enough that I can remember the Apollo program, and vaguely the Gemini and Mercury projects. Certainly during my teen age years I followed all developments at NASA in great detail. I can remember the launch of Apollo 11 (9:32am in July 16 1969) and building models of each of the spacecraft, the rockets, the landers and so on. I love that stuff. So, bummer.


What is one life worth?

A fascinating article, which is hard to disagree with, although the conclusion is a little counter-intuitive:

“Imagine that the captain of a $5 billion aircraft carrier let his ship sink rather than allow seven volunteers to attempt a repair, on the grounds that the odds favoring their survival were only 50 to 1. Such an officer would be court-martialed and regarded with universal contempt both by his brother officers and by society at large.” (from How Much is an Astronaut’s Life Worth?)

If you agree with this logic, it would be hard to argue with the case made in the article, that the top priority of a space mission should be Mission Success not Human Safety.

The article also very nicely puts a value on ‘excess’ expenditures for safety in space exploration by looking at how many lives could have been saved if those funds were spent on, for example, healthcare or immunizations.