From Spaceflight Now:
Some of the most influential leaders of the space community are quietly working to offer the next U.S. president an alternative to President Bush’s “vision for space exploration”–one that would delete a lunar base and move instead toward manned missions to asteroids along with a renewed emphasis on Earth environmental spacecraft.
Top U.S. planetary scientists, several astronauts and former NASA division directors will meet privately at Stanford University on Feb. 12-13 to define these sweeping changes to the NASA/Bush administration Vision for Space Exploration (VSE).
Abandoning the Bush lunar base concept in favor of manned asteroid landings could also lead to much earlier manned flights to Mars orbit, where astronauts could land on the moons Phobos or Deimos.
Now, if you have been reading my posts for the past couple of days, the reasons for going back to the Moon would be obvious, i.e., the gathering of more advanced technology that was left there by an ancient space-faring civilization. One would say that Bu$hco, China, Japan and India know that this stuff is there and that we were in competition to get more of it.
But according to Richard C. Hoagland, NASA has been keeping this a big secret for thirty years because our current civilization “…couldn’t handle the truth…” (to quote Jack Nicholson) and dissolve into further religious wars and genocide. So it might beg the question of why go back to the Moon at all if the goal is Mars?
Of course Mars has its own tinfoil theories concerning an ancient civilization also, so why go to Mars if it might cause the same issues with our culture the way it is now?
Going to the Asteroid Belt and Near Earth Objects offer an alternative solution to put out into the mainstream in order to draw the attention away from the Moon and Mars. According to the article, the benefits would pay off quickly because we can learn the different compositions of different NEOs/asteroids/comets in order to find proper ways of diverting them away from Earth’s orbit. Different rocks have different structures. One method of diversion wouldn’t work on another since one could be made of solid iron and another could be made of porous volitiles around a solid core. Poof or kapow! A couple of big pieces vs. a couple of hundred between us and sure extinction.
I’m not sure if this is a diversionary tactic or a purely economic one. I have posted about Near Earth Object missions instead of manned planetary ones myself utilizing private industry as the prime mover. It is far easier working in micro-gravity than a gravity “hole” as Larry Niven’s Belters used to say. Prime conditions for fabricating the next generation of super construction materials.
Besides, as I have mentioned before, the next selected leader of the US will probably defund NASA claiming we can’t afford to go back to the Moon anyway. Also lack of public support will drive it back further.
So why not asteroid missions? Our “second” military space program has the Moon and Mars covered anyway.