Originally posted by IconoclasticTalamasca
I ran across this question on yahoo a sec ago, and it got me to thinking...
I too wonder why we don't have a live feed of the Moon. It would seem simple enough to point a dish in that direction and record the comings and
goings of weather, comets, or anything else that may be of interest to this planet. Perhaps we have not been back for a reason. Is it really not worth
the time and money, as stated? What are your thoughts?
[edit on 9/30/09 by IconoclasticTalamasca]
We don't have a 'live feed' of the Moon because we don't have a network of imaging satellites orbiting the Moon...there's more to those live
feeds than simply 'pointing a dish' and recording. Even if we did have the satellites in place, most people wouldn't find the view too
interesting...there is no weather on the Moon, since it's somewhat lacking in atmosphere and water. Don't take my word for it...go outside on a
clear night with a pair of good binoculars, or a decent commercial astronomical telescope, and look for yourself. Major weather patterns are very
visible at Earth-to-Moon distances (see any Apollo mission photo of the Earth, and you'll see the clouds). If you see something like weather on the
Moon, I'll be glad to help you pay for your plane ticket to Stockholm, because you'll have just won yourself a Nobel Prize in physics. As for
comets, any comet visible from the Moon is more than likely already visible on Earth.
As for why we haven't been back to the Moon, it comes down to three things, and the last two are consequences of the first. None of them have
anything to do with alien civilizations, dire warnings to astronauts, or NASA cover ups, unfortunately.
1) Lack of will. The American public stopped giving a d**n about man on the moon about the time Apollo 12 started stacking in the Vehicle Assembly
Building. By the time Apollo 13 had its famous 'problem', nobody was watching on TV, though the possibility of somebody dying got a boost in
ratings. By Apollo 17, most people were far more interested in important things like hemlines, football, and soap operas. We didn't care in 1972, and
by and large, we still don't.
2) Lack of Funding. Apollo was a massive project, with specialized production lines, specialized facilities, and specialized people. Those all
translate into "Expensive as h**l". When governments (particularly those run by elected officials) start running short of money, big, expensive
programs that lack populist support (see point 1 above) become prime targets for the budget-cutting axe. Without the budget to maintain the program,
the specialized people (and their specialized knowledge) retire or die off, the specialized production facilities (and the tools, jigs, and dies) get
shut down and scrapped. That leads, by attrition, to
3) Lack of technology. The sad news is that we can't build a Saturn V in 2009. I know technology is much more advanced now...we have much more
powerful, reliable computers that are much more compact. We have better materials to use, and better manufacturing processes to use them...but the
simple truth is that nobody has needed a real 'heavy lift' launch vehicle since the end of the Skylab missions...and so we're in the embarrassing
position of having to reinvent the wheel. To give you an idea of how far 'behind the curve' modern launchers are compared to the Saturn V, an Ariane
5 ES-ATV can put 21,000kg into low Earth orbit. A Proton M can put about 25,000kg into LEO. Those numbers sound good, until you look at a Saturn
V...118,000kg to LEO. That's almost 5 times the Proton's lift, and 5 and a half times the Ariane's. It's about 4 times what a Delta 9250H (Delta
IV Heavy) can put up there.
If we can convince the American people that it's worthwhile to go back, they can pressure their congresscritters....that will get the money moving,
and then we can start working on a new generation of heavy-lift vehicles. I don't have any real faith that the Ares I or Ares V will survive the
budget wars...I can only hope that SpaceX can pull something off using the Falcon 9 / Dragon combo.