Countdown to the Moon

1705 – Alan

Alan Ladwig is no stranger to the idea of people travelling into space. Not just astronauts, but everyday people and people like Teachers, Journalists, Artists, and others. He has been an observer, promoter, and enabler of this enthusiasm for personal space travel. One example he gives is Pan American World Airways’ “First Moon Flights” club which began in 1964. This was the list of people that would hopefully start taking flights to the moon in 2000. Before the program ended in 1972 more than 93,000 people joined the waiting list. Back in the 1960s through the 1980s it appeared that all of us would be able to take flights into space. It was only a matter of time.

His book “See You In Orbit” chronicles his experience regarding personal space flight. With his knowledge and experience at NASA and from outside of NASA he brings an unique perspective. I highly recommend it for anyone that dreams of going to space. (And for those who seek to understand those of us that do.)

In the 1980s Alan ran the Spaceflight Participant Program that selected the first Teacher to travel on the Space Shuttle. With the Challenger disaster, the program was cancelled. But was in the process of selecting a journalist. And would later select an artist. The DearMoon project plans to send a group of artists around the moon in 2023.

There is still strong enthusiasm for space travel. The Mars One program demonstrated that many people would be willing to make a one way trip to Mars (though I sometimes one if the couple of months of quarantine for Covid19 might have given them an idea of what being in a small vehicle for the 6 months travel might be like, and might have dissuaded some of them.) But I think the the enthusiasm for space travel has changed somewhat. Most of the people I have interviewed have expressed interest in travelling to space. But there have been some notable exceptions. Consider the interview with daughter Jordan (18) and mother Nicole (40s). Nicole would go into space, but Jordan has no interest.

But in my 135 interviews I have done so far, I would say that only 15 or so knew about NASA’s plans to go to the moon. Most people had not heard about it but were supportive when they found out. What should NASA be doing differently? The media landscape is completely different than in 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon. Then there were few media outlets and everyone received the same news from them. Today, everyone gets a personalized news feed. If the platform thinks you are interested in space, then you see the latest space news. If it doesn’t then you see other things. This is true for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many other ways that you get news. If you are not a space person, then you are probably more likely to learn about space from a friend than from an online source. (Space people, do your friends know that NASA is going to the moon in 2024?)

Alan would like to see the 2024 date happen, but he has been in aerospace for over 40 years and he knows that it is more likely that schedules get pushed out. Dates are seldom made.

But today NASA took a big step towards its moon plans. It selected three teams to develop a Human Lunar Lander. The teams are lead by Blue Origin, Dynetics, and SpaceX. These teams are taking different approaches. And SpaceX has been making very quick, visible progress with Starship in Boca Chica, TX.

Regardless of what happens, I plan to conduct interviews up to the end of 2024, one per day. And I hope to spread the word, get different perspectives, refine my own views. Ad Astra!

Countdown to the Moon

1706 – Cindy

What would it take to make people aware of NASA’s plans to go back to the moon in 2024? It was mentioned in the 2020State of the Union address.

In reaffirming our heritage as a free nation, we must remember that America has always been a frontier nation. Now we must embrace the next frontier, America’s manifest destiny in the stars. I am asking Congress to fully fund the Artemis program to ensure that the next man and the first woman on the Moon will be American astronauts — (applause) — using this as a launching pad to ensure that America is the first nation to plant its flag on Mars. (Applause.)

2020State of the Union address

The Vice President has been hosting the National Space Council meetings where it is front and center. Jim Bridenstine has been publicizing it. NASA has been active on social media. But the vast majority of people do not know.

A lot of it may be disbelief and the fact that so little of the progress has captured the public attention. And as we approach the launch of the first Space Launch System (SLS) in summer of 2021. As Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) providers successfully land on the moon in 2021. As the capabilities of the SpaceX Starship become more solid and visible, it may generate a renewed interest in space.

But this COVID19 situation will no doubt have an impact. It will be tempting to trim much of the budget to fix some of the issues with our health system and the economy of this. And it will be interesting to see if this effort becomes one of the near term victims.

Countdown to the Moon

1707 – Haris

Be careful what you call impossible. In the 19th century, no one would guess that a person sitting in Houston, TX, USA would be able to have a real-time, video conversation with a person in Lahore, Pakistan. Yet, today we do that and think nothing of it.

Elon Musk wants to build a city on Mars. Seems like it is impossible today. But in a decade or two will we see the beginnings of it. And in a century will it be something that we all take for granted? “Of course, we have a city on Mars. We have always had a city on Mars.” Might seem as certain as there being a New York or a Las Vegas. Not really something that could be believed a thousand years ago, yet here we are.

Jeff Bezos wants to develop space to protect the earth. It is hard to imagine moving all our energy production into space… He wants to move mining and heavy manufacturing off of the earth. Anything that harms the earth should be done some place else. It seems impossible now. But I imagine all those “Made In China” labels would have been unbelievable a hundred years ago. Maybe we will see a “Made On The Moon” label at some point.

We can create a hopeful and amazing future for humanity. We just need to focus on actions that take us in that direction. We need to change the way we think and the way that we approach our existence on earth.

Do your part!

Countdown to the Moon

1708 – Blake

Blake had heard we were going back to the moon, but he had not heard about the timing. The Covid19 Quarantine and the related economic and societal repercussions are making us reconsider everything. If you asked him two months ago about going back to the moon, he would be all for it. But considering the situation that we are in now, maybe our focus should be getting people back on our feet.

“Why are we going back?” There is a strategic reason go back. The poles of the moon contain water ice which will be a key resource as we branch out and explore more of the solar system. China knows it is a key resource and is working on exploring it. One school of thought is that we need to get there first to help secure it for ourselves and the free world. But this is like securing patches of oil in the 1700s before we started really using it. And it might be difficult to get people to truly appreciate how strategic of a resource it is.

Another reason for us to go back is to study the record of meteor impacts on the moon. Meteors are constantly impacting the earth. But most of them burn up in the atmosphere are land in the ocean. The ones that do impact dry areas get weathered over. What is the frequency of impacts? What are the sizes of these meteors? What are they generally made of? Being able to answer these questions will help us understand how likely it is that the earth might be hit by a civilization changing meteor. Also, knowing what they are made of will give us more ideas on how to protect the earth.

Rare earth metals are a resource that is very limited. Deposits are mainly in China. But they are not actually “earth” metals at all. They come from meteors. We potentially have a huge supply just waiting for us to use.

And there are many more reasons we are going back that Blake and I didn’t get into. The first woman on the moon. Radio astronomy on the far side of the moon. The human desire to explore and discover new things.

Would Blake have an interest in going into space if it were safe and affordable? You bet! How safe? Well, 100 people going first would be fine.

Countdown to the Moon

1709 – Dave

Dave is the uncle of a dear friend of mind in York. We talked a bit about him at the beginning.

Dave had not heard about NASA’s 2024 moon plans. He pointed out that some people might take exception at the phrase “back to the moon” as some people do not believe that NASA actually made it to the moon the first time. In fact, Dave remembers seeing the video when he was 25 of the 1969 moon landing, and it looked very unreal to him. And NASA was under a lot of pressure to get there by the end of the decade, and he wonders if maybe NASA claimed victory without actually making it there.

This is an echo of some other conversations that I have had. I had talked to a medical doctor who saw a documentary on the history channel that made the assertion that no one could survive the radiation of the Van Allen belts which the Apollo astronauts would have had to go through.

I had also talked to some people that doubted it because we stopped going. “If we really went to the moon” they reasoned, “then why did we stop? Why can’t we go there now.”

I think all of these are reasons to successfully complete the 2024 moon landing.

Dave also thinks that the expense of going to the moon would be better focused on earth. I mentioned Jeff Bezos idea that we could use space to protect the earth I did not get to explore this as much as I would have liked.

Dave has no interest in going into space himself. He would rather see more of the earth.

Countdown to the Moon

1710 – Drishti

Like almost everyone I have interviewed so far, Drishti had not heard about NASA plans to put people on the moon in 2024. She thinks it is a good thing to be exploring and to be pushing our frontiers.

Space exploration and how the earth relates to the rest of the universe is not something that people in her community are really concerned about. Most people are concerned with the activities around their lives and local communities. This echos some of the comments by previous people I have interviewed. People simply do not think space exploration is something that will affect their lives or something that they really do not need to think about.

And it will be really surprising to them when the SpaceX Starship starts having successful launches, and opens up space. I think the implications of this is beyond imagining and will come to a great shock to 99.99999% of the worlds population.

Countdown to the Moon

1711 – Saif

Saif had not heard about NASA’s return to the moon, but he hopes that there will be many life improving spinoffs like last time.

Saif would take the opportunity to visit space if he could. But he thinks it is unlikely, but is willing to keep an opened mind.

Unleashing the capacities of people around the world to work together to make this world better, to explore space, and to learn about the nature of the universe will be key to ensuring humanity’s future.

I have been taking an online course to learn “Autocad Fusion 360 in 30 days” and using a 3D printer to create a physical version of the design. Saif and I will be working on scheduling an online session for people in his community to see the process and to see 3D printing in action.

If each of us take time to teach a little of what we know and if we all are constantly pushing ourselves to learn more, then we can make this world a better place.

Countdown to the Moon

1712 – Jalees

Jalees believes in the “abundance mindset”. This is the thought that with human intelligence we can turn a limited amount of raw materials into an unlimited amount of resources. This is the thought that you enrich me, and I enrich you. This is completely the opposite of the “scarcity mindset” which says there is a limited amount. If I give you something, than I am poorer. And I need to go out and lay claim to everything I can so that I have something for me.

It is the “scarcity mindset” that Robert Zubrin called one of the “bad ideas” that lead to World War I and World War II. And if we are not careful, the scarcity mindset will lead to more conflict and less for all of us. Robert Zubrin likes to say that there are no “natural resources” there are only raw materials. It is human intelligence that can take a raw material and turn it into a resource. And every brain that we can get to think about the problem, the richer we will all be.

But the scarcity mindset is hammered into us from pre-school. We are in an artificial competition with our classmates. It does not matter how much you know in school, it matters how much MORE you know. Therefore if you want to be first in your class, you have no incentive to improve the other people in your class. In fact you have the exact opposite incentive.

Also, our schools teach abstract things. Not practical things. Students need to work and do actual productive things. Like cook the meals, repair the buildings, run a farm, figure out how to generate electricity, build cars, boats, and airplanes, and through all these activities the math, language, science, and engineering can be taught. Through these activities the related history can be touched on. And literature can be explored.

We could do so much more if we could only unleash the potential in ourselves and the potential in each other.

Countdown to the Moon

1713 – Jason

Countdown to the Moon

1714 – Ahsan