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  Exploration: Asteroids, Moon and Mars
  AvWeek: Top Apollo Manager Opposes NASA's Moon Goal

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Author Topic:   AvWeek: Top Apollo Manager Opposes NASA's Moon Goal
Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-30-2007 11:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Aviation Week & Space Technology:
Top Apollo Manager Opposes NASA's Moon Goal
quote:
One of the most respected top managers of the Apollo program, Joseph P. Gavin, who led development of the NASA/Grumman Apollo lunar module, is airing sharp opposition to the Bush Administration/NASA goal of returning humans to the Moon as a stepping stone to Mars.

In a letter to Aviation Week & Space Technology, Gavin, former director of the lunar module development at Grumman, says he believes the near term Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle lunar plan and Moon base goal should be scrapped in favor of even more emphasis on Mars—especially robotic Mars exploration.


cspg
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Posts: 4046
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 07-31-2007 12:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I couldn't agree more with Mr.Gavin but I'm wondering why he is airing his opposition now- after all, Orion + Moon initiative have been in the works for some time. Hidden agenda?

Chris.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-31-2007 03:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't think he has a hidden agenda, and I would be surprised if this was the first time he has expressed his thoughts on the matter. The letter to AvWeek arose out of the panel discussion held by NASA on July 20, thus the timing of Gavin's letter now.

That said, while I agree with Gavin that there exists significant engineering challenges that differ between Moon and Mars missions, I cannot help but wonder if his viewpoint is at least partially influenced by a "been there, done that" sentimentality that is common among those who worked on and lived through the Apollo program. Is Mars a more attractive target simply because they've already "done" the Moon?

While the infrastructure might be different, there are a number of valid lessons that can be learned from operating a lunar outpost in preparation for Martian sorties. For example, we have very little biological data on the effects of long term exposure to reduced gravity environments. We have data for zero-g and 1G, but little, if anything in-between.

There are also operational and logistical lessons to be learned about supplying and maintaining a remote base when mission control is not in constant contact. We could simulate such on the ISS now, and I agree with Gavin when he suggests that the ISS should be better utilized, but functioning in a zero-g environment and reduced gravity environment can be considerably different.

cspg
Member

Posts: 4046
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 08-01-2007 12:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unless the time to travel to Mars is sharply reduced, a lot more time will be spent in zero-g (the trip to and back from Mars) than in low-gravity environments, so the ISS would be a good place to start (which doesn't mean that studies regarding low-g environment shouldn't be done). Of course, one can think of a spacecraft (not Orion!) that could simulate gravity on the way to Mars, but I wonder how large such spacecraft will have to be (with 4-6 people on board), plus the necessary life-supporting infrastructure (food, water, fuel) that will be needed (in Mars orbit and on the ground)...The magnitude of such project is bewildering (technologically, financially etc).

Chris.

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