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Google Lunar X Prize
djellison
post Apr 14 2008, 07:04 AM
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If you want to have a slap fight about education - do so elsewhere.

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JRehling
post Apr 15 2008, 03:29 AM
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QUOTE (mcaplinger @ Apr 12 2008, 11:05 AM) *
If there is any possible way to make money winning the Google Lunar X Prize, I can't think of it.


It just cuts your losses. Or if you had some separate way of monetizing the mission (crazy ad scheme), of putting you over the line from red to black.

Incidentally, the futures market at Intrade.com gives about a 24% probability that anyone will actually claim the X Prize (by 2012). The total amount of money bet so far is modest, so it's not like the world has really weighed in on the matter, but it's an interesting benchmark.

The only other space exploration issue that I ever saw on Intrade was posted after Spirit landed, and it concerned whether or not Opportunity would land safely (able to return at least one image). It got an estimate of 66% probability from the market. Probably about right.

And there we have the one truly credible way to make money off of space exploration -- bet on (or against) it.
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JRehling
post Apr 15 2008, 03:41 AM
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QUOTE (Stu @ Apr 12 2008, 12:32 PM) *
And they're the guys we've got to inspire and excite and find a way to consider entering technology and engineering as careers if we're to leave footprints on any other body in the solar system


I think the issue there is on the demand side much, much, much more than the supply side. 50,000 engineers without megafunding won't launch a Mars mission. And the people who ran Apollo didn't start their careers inspired by any massive project (by Lindbergh, perhaps).

I'm not sure inspiration is a good return-on-investment. Two people went to the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean in 1960. No one has been back since. Moreover, I have never met a human being in any field who is even aware of the details of that descent, much less bought a book about it. Essentially no one's ever heard of it. Why didn't that event inspire anyone?

I'd warrant that inspiration per dollar gets a better yield from a modestly expensive accomplishment and brilliant marketing than from a colossally expensive accomplishment and just sitting back to rake in the laurels. Presumably what we're trying to inspire is accomplishment per young, prospective engineer, not federal budget fund-raising per young, prospective engineer.
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Greg Hullender
post Apr 15 2008, 04:55 AM
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QUOTE (JRehling @ Apr 14 2008, 08:41 PM) *
Moreover, I have never met a human being in any field who is even aware of the details of that descent, much less bought a book about it. Essentially no one's ever heard of it. Why didn't that event inspire anyone?

I sure remember reading the story of the Trieste as a kid. I think the image of the two men sealed in the steel capsule as "two mice in a tennis ball" really freaked me out. What other details do I remember (without looking it up).

The Trieste was a bathyscathe (unsure on spelling). A spherical steel capsule suspended under a large tank of gasoline. To sink, they let gas out and water in. To rise, they dropped a load of iron shot they had carried.

Challenger Deep, their destination, is at the bottom of the Marianas Trench near the Phillipines. Roughly seven miles deep.

I think the thing had lights under the capsule, but I'm not sure how they were powered. Batteries, probably.

The viewport (I think there was only one) was super thick glass, and it cracked during the descent but didn't leak in any material way -- which would have been fatal, of course.

The two explorers reported nothing particularly interesting, which is why no one ever went back. That's not to say there's nothing interesting in the abyss, but previous explorers (e.g. William Beebe in a Bathysphere) had already reported on it.

That's all I can remember about it. The claustrophobic aspect was more than enough to convince me *I* never wanted to do it. But I'd have loved to read more about it.

And I'd have been 100% satisfied if the data came from unmanned probes.

--Greg
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Phil Stooke
post May 3 2008, 04:57 PM
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I've made a map showing the various places on the Moon indicated in public statements as potential landing sites for the GLXP teams. Teams not named on the map have not announced a site yet. There should be more news after the Team Summit at ISU later this month.

Phil

Attached Image


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nprev
post May 3 2008, 05:06 PM
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NOT liking the "Tranquility Trek", Astrobotic, or Frednet ideas at first glance for reasons previously stated in this thread mad.gif ; here are the Apollo sites. Looks uncomfortably close.

Might be time to petition for a ground rule: hands off Apollo 11. I honestly don't have a problem with visiting the other Apollo sites, but Tranquility Base is sacrosanct as an integral, known transition point for the very history of life on Earth, and they would be doing a grave disservice to all of our descendants by disturbing it.


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Phil Stooke
post May 3 2008, 05:18 PM
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The disturbance issue is going to be big, and I'll be presenting on it at Ames in July. (well, if they accept my abstract). I think it very likely that they will land safely nearby and drive to within 10 or 20 m - to get a good view but without disturbing anything. I would (will) argue the same for all Apollo and robotic sites, in fact, but Apollo 11 is even more important. There is a proposal in place to have it designated a US National Historic Landmark:

http://www.space.com/news/spacehistory/sav...nts_000418.html

and see also:

http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1988LPICo.652..234S
(I would now go for smaller parks!)

But I don't think this should preclude respectful observation and imaging of the site.

Phil


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nprev
post May 3 2008, 05:22 PM
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Glad to hear this, Phil. One other constraint must be brought up (which you've probably thought of already, but haven't read your links yet): the rover's landing ellipse can't contain Tranquility Base. I just had this nightmare vision of the thing landing right on top of the descent stage, or the flag, or cocked against the landing leg with the ladder and obliterating Armstrong's first footprint...


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Phil Stooke
post May 3 2008, 05:25 PM
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The landing ellipse issue is very important, and I have to say most people involved in GLXP (I really mean the participants on their forum, rather than official teams) haven't thought any of this through, assuming instead that they can land on a dime (assuming they can find one on the Moon). Astrobotic are on the ball, with partners Raytheon - and Odyssey Moon are too - I'm being critical of the others when I say that.

Phil


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nprev
post May 3 2008, 05:30 PM
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Well, I'd concede that the lack of atmosphere contributes favorably to targeting accuracy, but also have to assume that most of the proposals will be direct landings (no insertion into lunar orbit beforehand) for cost savings. I'd go for a 500m clearance guarantee, and if they land too far away to reach the site, well, them's the breaks; even if it crashes in, the damage to the site should be minimal, if any.


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tedstryk
post May 3 2008, 11:05 PM
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I would agree that I would hate to see an x-prize lander go splat onto the Apollo 11 site. However, in the longterm, I strongly disagree with totally avoiding the sites. I think a better solution, should human moon travel become a regular thing, would be to have a restricted path - perhaps marked out by a rover's tracks, carefully targeted to not cross over anything - through which one can pass. I don't see any point in preserving the sites if no one can see them.


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Stu
post May 3 2008, 11:06 PM
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Here's an idea: you disturb ANYTHING at Tranquility Base within 50m of Eagle, you're instantly disqualified. Simple.

It wouldn't be acceptable to go pull pieces off Scott's Antarctic hut, would it? Or hack a piece out of the Liberty Bell? Or spray paint a message on the side of what's left of the Titanic? Or stomp all over those preserved human footprints in Africa?

This needs sorting out, in a way that leaves doubt and no wriggle-room.


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djellison
post May 3 2008, 11:29 PM
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QUOTE (Stu @ May 4 2008, 12:06 AM) *
Or hack a piece out of the Liberty Bell? Or spray paint a message on the side of what's left of the Titanic?


Too late on both counts. A big fat chunk of the titanic was actually raised - you can buy coal, cutlery, crockery, from Titanic. - and I believe pieces of Liberty Bell 7 were sold after it was recovered. (unless you mean the bell, not the mercury capsule)

In the very grand scheme of things, Tranquility Base will be reduced to nothing my micrometeorites given long enough (a few tens of millions of years for footprints iirc) - who knows what the state of them is after a LEM launch. But in the meantime, a 50m radius centred on the LEM decent stage as a keep out zone would be a wise step.

Doug
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Stu
post May 3 2008, 11:37 PM
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QUOTE (djellison @ May 4 2008, 12:29 AM) *
Too late on both counts. A big fat chunk of the titanic was actually raised - you can buy coal, cutlery, crockery, from Titanic. - and I believe pieces of Liberty Bell 7 were sold after it was recovered. (unless you mean the bell, not the mercury capsule)


Actually I did mean the ring-ding bell, not the capsule... I can just imagine the reaction if someone suggested teams be allowed to compete to chip pieces off that bell with robots...

As for Titanic, yes, I knew that too; I said "spray a message on", as in deliberately ruining and defacing it. And if I remember correctly the Titanic bits raised so far have all been loose pieces or chunks lying around the main wreck; I don't think anyone's actually cut sections off the main hull, tho I could be wrong about that.

I just can't get my head around the idea that the landing site of the first human expedition off planet Earth to land on another world might be ruined by robots, for money. It's ridiculous, and shaming.


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nprev
post May 3 2008, 11:44 PM
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QUOTE (djellison @ May 3 2008, 03:29 PM) *
In the very grand scheme of things, Tranquility Base will be reduced to nothing my micrometeorites given long enough (a few tens of millions of years for footprints iirc) - who knows what the state of them is after a LEM launch.


True...but hopefully we'll have some permanent lunar denizens in place long before then to put some sort of protective structure over the site. smile.gif As far as the lift-off damage, gotta consider that as part of the event; I wouldn't restore any of it, not even right the flag if it was indeed blown over per Aldrin's account.


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