The Pathetic State Of The Public Space Program
"The Mission Objectives of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) include confirming the presence or absence of water ice in a permanently shadowed crater at the Moon’s South Pole. The identification of water is very important to the future of human activities on the Moon. LCROSS will excavate the permanently dark floor of one of the Moon’s polar craters with two heavy impactors early in 2009 to test the theory that ancient ice lies buried there. The impact will eject material from the crater’s surface to create a plume that specialized instruments will be able to analyze for the presence of water (ice and vapor), hydrocarbons and hydrated materials."
The objective: build technology to successfully mount sensing equipment on advanced rockets to fly to the moon, record the data in their descent and planned impact. A stunning achievement, actually, when you think about it, especially when you consider it was over 45 years ago in the early 60s.
The unmanned Ranger probes were fitted witrh cameras and sent to the moon to get close up photos and then impact the surface. By and large it was a success. The science and engineering experience was good value for the money spent.
But almost 50 years later this is all we've progressed to with the LCROSS program? Granted it's a multiple launch with a satellite called the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter that will separate in space and go into orbit in a few days while the LCROSS will slingshot around the earth and moon for a few months to pick up speed. This mission will have advanced technology to analyze the debris plume after the big kapow to see how much water there is at the impact site.
Although it's being hailed as a literally splashy "back to the moon" event, it's a far cry from what was accomplished even decades ago.
Consider what was done with the Apollo program, if you believe it actually went to the moon. Modern breadmakers probably have more computing power than the Apollo landers yet the astronauts went there and returned. If the moon landings actually occurred it was no small achievement, and the 40th anniversary of Armstrong's ladder descent is coming up in July, so where is his Giant Leap for Mankind?
In starting up the Ranger program again I suppose. Ever wonder why the Apollo program ended and we supposedly never went back up there? Ever question why photographic technology actually degraded over the years where earlier pictures were sharp and clear and subsequent efforts got murkier, or that so many of NASA's pictures have been airbrushed? "The best images of the moon are still the photos that the astronauts shot during their (Apollo) visits." Did you marvel that 40 tons of precious Apollo footage, arguably the record of the most important event in human history were left to rot inside an abandoned McDonalds on NASA property?
I can only conclude that what we're seeing is one huge cover story. The real space program has nothing to do with the useless and costly space station and obsolete shuttles whose boosters damage the ozone layer at every launch. It seems they're hardly interested anymore in trying to maintain the facade. NASA doesn't even bother to pretend they're interested in vehicles and instead for years will rely on Russia's Soyuz rockets to get into space, after getting rid of the safest and best booster ever made. There's plenty of evidence that the US has had dual space programs and technologies for decades, one for science, military technology and black operations, and one to keep Boobus entertained, like this big kaboom in a crater on the moon. "We're trying to recapture the excitement of the Apollo missions" gurgles the deputy project manager. The subtleties and complexities of real science aren't sexy enough for dumbed down americans, and probably the astounding discoveries being made in space are deemed too threatening to their control over us to be made public, so we're given this lunar shock and awe which seems to be their ongoing favorite TV show for us..
Yeah, as a backyard astronomer I'll probably be watching with my schmidt cassegrain when LCROSS impacts. The launch is scheduled for mid June and the target site and timing depends on the launch. But it'll hardly be rocket science.