The Full Plan For Artemis Part 1: The Robotic Missions

Artemis is NASA’s plan to return to the moon, and this time to stay. That’s something you probably already know. But there’s a lot more to it than picking a lander. This video is the first of 3 videos to explore the full plan for Artemis, starting with the uncrewed and robotic missions that will set the stage for a sustainable, long-term base on the south pole of the moon.


In 1609, the first image of the moon was drawn based on observations through a telescope. It showed the major craters and mare, with the termination line passing through them. That man, of course… was not Galileo.

It was actually a British guy named Thomas Harriot. He beat Galileo by 6 months.
Fast forward though 353 years of dreaming about going to the moon and all it took was one cold war, $24 billion dollars and hoocha hoocha hoocha – moonwalk.

650 million enraptured people watched in awe as human beings walked on the moon for the first time, and only 3 and a half years later the public was so disinterested, the entire program was cancelled.

But let’s talk some more about how TikTok is ruining our attention spans.

I mean, it is… But also people are just kinda shite.

In fairness, we were also dealing with proxy wars, runaway inflation and over-the-top gas prices at the time. Can’t imagine what that would be like.

So we didn’t stay. But that’s all right, we got what we came for, we took the W and went home. Besides, we didn’t even know if we could stay, not without any water on the moon.

And we really didn’t know how to reclaim water, grow food, or a million other little things one would need for long-term space travel.

So NASA focused on that, first with Skylab, then the Shuttle, and the ISS. And our moon ambitions kinda waned.

Get it? Like a waning moon?

But on July 31st, 1999, almost exactly 30 years after Apollo 11, something interesting happened.

NASA’s Lunar Orbiter called Prospector reached the end of its mission, and the plan was to go out with a literal bang.

They wanted to crash it in to the lunar surface, both to prevent a buildup of space debris but also, they were hoping the crash would create a plume that could be analyzed to determine what was under the surface.

That plume turned out to be smaller than they were hoping, but they did detect hydrogen. Which got NASA thinking…

And they decided to go bigger.

NASA had a companion mission for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission and that was LCROSS (The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite ).

They decided to do the same thing with LCROSS only this time they would crash the entire upper stage Centaur rocket into the surface and fly LCROSS through the plume.

And this time it worked. LCROSS’ spectrometers picked up water ice.

Just like that, the idea of returning to the Moon got a lot more interesting. Water ice meant lunar colonies, it meant fuel could be made from the water. And by this time we’d learned a lot more about long-term space habitation.

It was time to go back.
Okay so we found some water, but the question is how much?

Well, the estimates start at 108,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools to 240,000 Olympic swimming pools.
How big is an Olympic sized swimming pool? It’s this big.

And how much is 108,000? It’s a lot. Like… It’s a lot.

Fine, if you need something easier to visualize, it’s about the same as Lake Winnibigoshish in Minnesota.
And we could find more, missions like the LRO and LROC are still actively mapping the moon in greater and greater detail.
Of course it’s not just water, we’ve also found helium-3, which would be huge if we ever crack fusion as well as iron and thorium… I’ve done a whole video on moon mining, you can go check it out.

We are, of course, not the only country interested in getting a monopoly on those sweet sweet moon resources. Several private companies are investing in it but also China.

So if the only reason Apollo happened was because we were in a competition with another superpower, well… As OK Go once said…

All of which brings us to Artemis, which is super close to popping off, maybe in the next few months.

Actually as I record this, SLS is on the launch pad so it may have happened by the time this comes out.

So I decided to really do a deep dive into the Artemis program with a 3-part series. This is the first in the series, which will focus on uncrewed and robotic missions, Part 2 will focus on the scheduled crew missions, and Part 3 will explore the future of the program and where we go from there.

So strap yourselves in because it’s about to get lunar up in here.

he first thing we need to do before we put boots on the regolith is to find that sweet, sweet moon juice. I should just call it water, this is ridiculous.


So the first planned robotic mission is called Prime-1. No relation to Amazon.

Prime-1 is going to probe the lunar surface with its drill and will be able to accomplish depths of three feet!

Considering that Bruce Willis isn’t helping that is an impressive feat.

For perspective, the Mars rovers are some of the most advanced robots ever created and they can only drill a couple of inches.

Prime’s drill will hunt primarily for water ice, for all the reasons we’ve already talked about.

By the way, four astronauts on the moon require 12 gallons of water. Not to mention propellant use and growing food. So it’s important.

Prime-1 should be landing in December of this year. 2022.


Following Prime-1 is VIPER, which stands for Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover.

Just so you know, there’s going to be some major acronym game in this video.

VIPER will also be seeking water ice, but this one will be exploring sunless craters.

Just in case you don’t know what that means, there are craters around the poles where the angle the sunlight hits it means that there are spots at the bottom of the crater where the sunlight never hits, and it’s thought that there could be water ice down there. Like, a lot of it.

Think about what a cool job that is. Someone’s going to be piloting a remote control robot through a crater that hasn’t seen sunlight for billions of years.

And because it’s going to be shielded from the sun, it can’t power itself with solar panels, so it will only have 100 days of power.

VIPER will have a top speed of 0.45 mph, so not a speed demon, but that’s not what we’re there for. Ultimately VIPER will cover 12 miles and in that time hopefully find some great spots for astronauts to explore.

Another interesting fact, working in the shadows means VIPER will be the first rover sporting headlights.

VIPER should be landing in November of 2023 via Astrobiotics Griffin Lander carried by SpaceX Falcon Heavy.


But perhaps the biggest uncrewed mission won’t even land on the moon, it’s going into lunar orbit. A very weird lunar orbit.

What I’m talking about is the Lunar Operation Platform-Gateway, which sometimes goes by LOP-G, though these days it usually just goes by Gateway.

This is a space station, fifth space station ever built and the first space station in orbit around the moon.

Think of it as part space station, part laboratory, part fuel depot, part spacecraft launcher… It’s basically a swiss army knife in the sky, but for science.

So while I call it an uncrewed mission, I’m talking about the launch to the moon, later on it will definitely house a crew that will remain in orbit. And there will be a few launches because much like the ISS, Gateway will be put together in segments.

The first two modules to go up will be the power & propulsion element and the habitation and logistics outpost or the PPE & HALO.

Right now both modules are scheduled to launch on a Falcon Heavy in November 2024 and reach lunar orbit in 9-10 months.
And this orbit is wild.
It’s called a Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit, or NRHO, and it’s a wildly elliptical polar orbit that swings as close as 3,000km from the surface all the way out to 70,000 miles. It’s an orbit that takes an entire week to complete.

This ensures that the station never goes behind the moon and lose radio contact with Earth but it’s also more efficient because it takes advantage of lagrange points.

In 2025 the first crew should arrive on Artemis III and new modules will be added – the Orion command module that got the crew there, and the European Service Module, made by ESA.

Following that is the I-HAB module and the ESPIRIT module. The I-HAB will extend the LOP-G’s communication capabilities and will feature a science airlock which can be used to release things like cube sats.

The ESPIRIT module will do many things. It will provide refueling, additional comms equipment, more habitation space, and an airlock.

In 2027 the Gateway will receive the CanadaArm3 made in, obviously… Croatia.

I hate that I have to do this… It’s actually Canada. That was a joke.

JAXA will also assist by providing habitation components and logistics resupply.

Russia was supposed to be helping down the line but uh… Let’s just say that’s iffy now.

Altogether the Gateway will provide 125 cubic meters of space or 4,400 cubic feet.

The idea of the Gateway is to serve as a way station, a hub of sorts between the lunar system and the Earth system, and it’s a pretty old idea.

I did a video a while back on the original plans that NASA had to follow the Apollo missions, and it did involve multiple stations in low and high Earth orbit and in lunar orbit. And it does kinda make sense.

But it’s not without its detractors. An ex-NASA director George Abby said, “…we should go directly there (moon) not build a space station around it.”

For many, it’s just an unnecessary extra step that only adds to the cost and complicates things as opposed to a moon direct approach.

And just as I was about to record this, an article was posted on Ars Technica that really throws a lot of cold water on the Gateway.

It talks about a recent NASA report that shows some delays on the Gateway, which is to be expected, but it reports that quote, “NASA’s revised schedules, will require most or all of the capability of the SLS rocket during that time frame, and they could preclude the agency from developing a greater focus on lunar surface activities.”

In other words, the Gateway is kinda taking up all the oxygen in the Artemis mission and could eventually be deemed unsustainable and scrapped.

But for now anyway it is still part of the plan. A very big part of the plan.

When Astronauts do finally return to the Moon it will be anything but a barren wasteland. They will have supplies sent before their landing so they can be fully equipped from the start.

NASA will make it rain supplies by partnering with private companies through their CLPS program, which stands for Commercial Lunar Payload Services.

They’re basically just creating a platform for commercial partners to fulfill orders for the cargo they need. They call this PRISM, the Payloads and Research Investigations on the Surface of the Moon.

Seriously with the acronyms in this program. It almost makes the whole thing worth it.

So basically NASA puts a call out for whatever type of cargo they need for the crew on PRISM, and their commercial partners can vie for the job and line up with a launch provider. It’s kinda like Match.com but for aeronautics!

If you don’t want a metaphor then according to NASA, PRISM is a solicitation for new PI-led investigations through individual suits of instruments that are either destination agnostic or uniquely adopted for certain lunar geologic terrains. Featuring a catalog of instrument and technology demonstrations that are available from the science community.

Or…match.com for space projects.

The PRISM program is expected to fulfill contracts till 2028 and will help supply astronauts after they land and before they arrive.

Some notable supply drops that are coming go as follows:

  • A solar cell demonstration platform that will enable long-term solar solutions for the Moon Missions to come. This will be in the first batch.
  • Stereo cameras to better study how engine plumes affect lunar dust, which is a major concern, so very important.
  • Ranger, an autonomous rover the size of a briefcase that will travel the moon and create a highly detailed 3D map.
  • Then there’s PlanetVac, from Honeybee Robotics, this will land and then take a sample which will then take off into space to be collected.
  • Coming a little bit later will be the LUNAR VERTEX, which will investigate the mysterious lunar swirl at Reiner Gamma which has been drawing speculation since the Renaissance.
  • And last but not least is the Farside Seismic Suite, which will place two seismometers on the far side of the moon.

Is is not, as the name suggests, going to drop off cartoons featuring overweight cows.

Other payloads to the Moon will be various supply drops for the crew once they get there, like any faraway operation, its success hinges on the ability to keep them supplied with necessities, and the PRISM program will facilitate that.

(4) NASA’s Original Post-Apollo Plans Were INSANE

In 1969, President Nixon created a commission to set the course for NASA’s Post-Apollo years. What they came up with was a bold, ambitious vision of the future. One with multiple space stations, moon bases, regular travel to and from space with airline-like frequency, and people on Mars in the 1980s.


Imagine you’re Richard Nixon.
Before all the scandals, you’ve just come into office, it’s January 1969 and NASA has spent the last decade working toward the goal of landing on the moon.
It’s hugely popular and was spearheaded by your predecessor, who made it his mission to carry out the wishes of his predecessor, who became a beloved national hero after he was freaking assassinated.

A guy who, by the way, beat you in your first presidential run because it was the first time debates were televised and he was charming and looked good on camera, and you’re Richard Nixon.
But now you’re president and you get to just walk it across the finish line and take credit. Noice.

Problem is… There’s not really any plan for what to do next. In fact, all the Saturn V boosters that had been contracted had already been made by 1968.
So… what do we do now?
You have to find, somehow, a vision for the next step in American space flight that’s as inspiring and galvanizing as LANDING ON THE MOON. And you’ve gotta get this right or your legacy will be tainted, and the last thing you want, Mister Nixon, is for your legacy to be tainted.

This must have weighed heavily on the actual Richard Nixon because one of the very first things he did in office was to appoint a Space Task Group headed up by his VP Spiro Agnew.
This team of scientists, engineers, and bureaucrats got in a room and put together a bold, ambitious plan for the 70s and 80s that would shape the future of the space program. Almost none of it actually happened.

But what if it had? Today let’s take a look at this plan, what went wrong, and imagine the future that might have been.
When John F. Kennedy announced that the United States was going to the moon, it was pretty much a shock to everyone. I mean we had just launched the first person into space, now we’re going to land on the moon?
In fact, I think we have some footage of their reaction…
I mean… It never stops killing.

But for some people in the early space race, that goal was downright timid.
Werner Von Braun had his sights set on Mars going all the way back to his book Mars Project: A Technical Tale, where he outlined in detail what getting to Mars might look like, and this was back in 1948.
By the way, this book is available online, I’ll put a link down below… It is awesome.
His ideas were pretty out there but you can clearly see the way his vision for Mars influenced the space program AND science fiction.
I mean, look me in the eye and tell me the X-wing wasn’t based on this.

And, um, Starship much?

And in no way was 2001 inspired by this massive spinning space station design from 1956.
Yeah, he was designing a space station to house 55 people 5 years before we even put a human into space. And to this day we’ve never had that many people in space at the same time.
And actually, you know what, let’s just stop the video for a second. Can we just stop and get something out of the way real quick? So this whole video is about visions of space travel that never came true, and there’s two opposite ways of approaching it, one is to laugh at how overly optimistic and naive they were back then – and they were, and you can have a good laugh about it.
The other way to look at it is… Man, space travel has been a huge disappointment.

I mean, for a while there we seemed on track, we went from never putting a person into space to standing on the moon in 8 years. Of course people in 1969 thought some of these ideas were feasible. Oh, and to quote myself from a previous video – pissing contests work.
By contrast, it took 11 years after the Shuttle program ended to find another American ride to space.
It also kinda blows my mind that the entire Apollo program took place over only 6 years. I mean no wonder nobody was paying attention by the time Apollo 17 went up, they were going up all the time. They were like Starlink launches, you couldn’t keep up with them.

The point is, there are two different ways of looking at this. And there are parts of me that agree with both. Was it a failure of foresight on their part or a failure of execution on the people who followed? You can kinda keep that in your mind as we look into this.
But back to Werner von Braun, I bring up some of his early ideas just to point out that, just because we didn’t have a specific plan for what to do after Apollo didn’t mean that people hadn’t been making plans. In fact Nixon’s Space Task Group had a deep well of ideas to pull from.

So let’s look at this thing. So first they go on for __ pages kind-of setting up the parameters for the plan, kind-of creating a framework of purposes and objectives and a bunch of bureaucrat-speak, I’ll link to this down below if you want to read the whole thing, it’s not that long but the meat and potatoes is in Section III, Goals And Objectives.
The first thing they do, after again reiterating the importance of creating a vision for the future, is promote what they call a balanced approach.

So they right away stress the importance of both manned and unmanned space exploration, which is probably important since they’re mostly talking about following up Apollo, which was a manned program, they wanted to make sure that unmanned exploration wasn’t left on the side of the road.
So, I’m just gonna get this out of the way, it’s generally more accepted today to say “crewed” instead of “manned” for obvious reasons but since they used the word “manned” in 1969, that’s what they used in this report so instead of switching back and forth, I’m just going to use the language that they used.
And right now there are two type of people in the comments, the ones who are pissed at me for saying “manned” and the ones who are pissed at me for acknowledging that it’s an issue at all. Because internet.

All right now that they’ve established the need for balance, they talk about the need for an overriding ambitious objective, something as powerful as landing on the moon.
Yep. They wanted to go to Mars.
Actually, they wanted to set as a long-term goal manned planetary exploration, and Mars was the first step in that direction.
They went on to explain that they chose Mars because it is the most Earth-like, is in fairly close proximity to the Earth, and has the highest probability of supporting extraterrestrial life.
They felt that a mission to Mars would be a galvanizing force for the public to get behind, it’s simple and easy to understand and hey, landing on the moon worked, why wouldn’t landing on Mars?

But they also thought it would help as a way to focus the scientific development.
They also detailed some of the advancements that would need to be achieved in order to get there.
All of this is ambitious but the most ambitious thing about this plan was the timeline.
Like, how fast did they think they would be able to land on Mars? Well here’s a hint, Kim Carne’s song Bette Davis Eyes was #1 on the Billboard’s hot 100.
And for Gen Z… 1981, they wanted to go to Mars by 1981. And the hot 100…nevermind.

They wrote: NASA has outlined plans that would include a manned Mars mission in 1981 with the development decision on a Mars Excursion Module in FY 1974,
So they were expecting to have the Mars lander designed and ready for production in just 5 years.
And this was just supposed to be the beginning of our interplanetary travel. I mean if they were expecting to be landing on Mars by 1981, I can’t help but wonder what they would follow that with. Venus? Jupiter’s moons? Titan? I can only imagine what they thought we’d be doing by 2022.

Anyway, now that we have the overarching goal of the program, they outlined a handful of program objectives. I’ll just give a quick rundown here:
First is Application of space technology to the direct benefit of mankind Air and ocean traffic control,  world-wide navigation systems,  environmental monitoring and prediction (weather, pollution),  earth resource survey communications
And they talk about how these capabilities would benefit people all over the world. And yeah… We have those things now. And I would argue the world is a much better place for it. So… that’s one prediction they got right.

Second is Operation of military space systems to enhance national defense
And they just talk under this one about how it’s incumbent on the US to dominate space in order to ensure peace throughout the world. Because obviously.
The third program objective is Exploration of the solar system and beyond.
This is dipping a wee bit into that “balanced” approach with manned and unmanned missions.
They divide this one into three main elements:

Planetary Exploration – Unmanned planetary exploration missions continuing throughout the decade, both for science returns and, in the case of Mars and Venus, as precursors to later manned missions.

See that’s interesting because it hints at a potential manned mission to Venus – probably using upper-atmosphere floating labs.
The program should include progressively more sophisticated missions to the near planets as well as multiple-planet flyby missions to the outer planets taking advantage of the favorable relative positions of the outer planets in the late 1970’s.
If that’s not ringing a bell, this is the Grand Tour of the Solar System they proposed when they saw a rare alignment of the planets; this became the Voyager missions.
Early missions to the asteroid belt and to the vicinity of a comet should be planned.
Again, things we’ve done.

The next element is Astronomy, Physics, the Earth and Life Sciences where they basically advocate for space telescopes, which we’ve done plenty of by now.
And the last element is Lunar Exploration. So no, they didn’t forget about the moon, all this we’re talking about is stuff outside of the obvious fact that we were going to continue going to the moon. Duh.
They proposed expanded mobility on the moon surface and establishment of lunar bases and a lunar space station. Which we’re starting to talk about again.
But it’s the 4th program objective where things start to get really saucy. This one reads Development of new capabilities for operating in space.

So right off the bat they address the biggest achilles heel with the Apollo Program:
Exploration and exploitation of space is costly with our current generation of expendable launch vehicles and spacecraft systems. This is particularly true for the manned flight program.
Yeah, turns out when only this part ever comes back to Earth, it’s not exactly efficient.

So with that in mind, they set three parameters for their plans: Commonality, Reusability, and Economy.
Commonality meaning using a few major systems for a wide variety of missions.
Reusability obviously means being able to use the same systems multiple times.
And economy not necessarily in terms of cost but in the terms of throw-away elements in the missions.
So, their plan to get us to Mars by 1981 while conforming to these principles looked like this.

The logic seems to be that if you are going to expand into the cosmos, you need to have sort-of an infrastructure in place.
And that infrastructure begins with waystations in orbit.
So they proposed the building of a multi-purpose space station module that can support 6-12 occupants and can be combined with other modules to form bigger space bases. Some of which are reaching Von Braun size.

But they didn’t have their eye on just one station, but a whole series of stations.
So in other words, multiple low-earth orbit stations but also a station further out in geosynchronous orbit and one around the moon.
I guess the idea being you can move people and cargo around between these various way points in space, and as the report suggests, out into the solar system.
Because obviously moving between the planets would take years of travel and you’d probably need something the size of a space station.
But yeah, in this vision there would be multiple space stations in LEO and GEO and at least one around the moon facilitating the movement of people and cargo on a regular basis from the ground on Earth to permanent bases on the moon.

But how do you transport this stuff between the stations? Well for that you’d need a kind of a… space transportation system.

For many of you the term Space Transportation System probably sounds familiar. And that’s because that was the official name of the Space Shuttle.
This is why Shuttle launches all had the prefix “STS” in it, that stood for Space Transportation System.
But in the Space Task Force plan, the Shuttle was just one part of a whole system of vehicles designed to “Carry passengers, supplies, rocket fuel, other spacecraft, equipment, or additional rocket stages to and from orbit on a routine aircraft-like basis.”
So when Elon Musk talks about how we need to make space flight as routine as air travel… Well he’s not the first person to say that.
The report described the Shuttle component as:

A reusable chemically fueled shuttle operating between the surface of the Earth and low-earth orbit in an airline-type mode. So this was the part of the system that got stuff off the ground and into orbit. Once in orbit, they proposed a different craft to move things around.
A chemically fueled reusable space tug or vehicle for moving men and equipment to different earth orbits. This same tug could also be used as a transfer vehicle between the lunar-orbit base and the lunar surface.

So this is kind-of like a shuttle that never has to launch off the ground or pass through any atmosphere so it was designed more like a giant can – you can see a similar idea in the Cygnus cargo spacecraft from Northrop Grumman.

There was a third component of this system though which kind-of sounds like a variation on the space tug idea, this one nuclear powered.
A reusable nuclear stage for transporting men, spacecraft and supplies between Earth orbit and lunar orbit and between low Earth orbit and geosynchronous orbit and for other deep space activities.  So this was based on the NERVA engine, which is a really interesting topic that probably deserves its own video, but this was heavily in development at the time and to many was the future of space flight, especially deep space.

NERVA stands for Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application, and it was what’s known as a thermal nuclear rocket, basically it used a nuclear reactor core to heat liquid hydrogen, causing it to expand, go flying out the flamey end and push the craft forward.
It had several advantages over chemical rockets, for one thing, hydrogen has a lower molecular mass than the oxygen and CO2 that comes out the butt of chemical rockets, which gives it more kinetic energy per unit of mass.

In other words it gets 3 to 4.5 times higher specific impulse than traditional chemical rockets.
You can think of them kind-of like ion engines, they’re not powerful enough to launch with but once in space, they can burn for way longer, giving more time to accelerate and eventually reach much higher speeds.

So nuclear rockets like the NERVA engine are especially good for long-distance and deep space travel. In theory.
I have to say in theory because it never flew. There were lots of tests done and it was determined to be ready to be put into a vehicle but it was cancelled in 1973. By Nixon.
But with the overriding goal of getting people to Mars, it makes sense that they would prioritize this because it could cut the length of the trip down to 3-4 months. But like I said, it deserves its own video because there were a lot of engineering challenges around it and ultimately it became a funding issue. To this day there haven’t been any nuclear thermal vehicles launched by anybody. Although there are some private companies working on it again.

The rest of the Task Force report focused on international cooperation and budget. And there was definitely a budget.
These were ambitious goals that would require ambitious spending. The task force wanted $6 billion, which was actually more than they were getting under Apollo.(Equals $46 billion today)
The 1969 budget for NASA was just over $4.25 billion, or 2.31% of GDP. But remember, all the vehicle construction was done by that point, it peaked in 1966 at $5.9 billion, or 4.41% of GDP.
So it wasn’t unheard of. When the US was pushing toward Kennedy’s big goal of landing on the moon, they gave NASA somewhat similar amounts of money. Now we had this bold plan for an entire space infrastructure, including moon bases and trips to Mars. Surely that was just as worthy of an investment.

Turns out… no.

Sure Nixon had inherited a space program at the very top of its game, but he also inherited the Vietnam War. And a financial downturn. And he was a fiscal conservative so, no, he was not about to give NASA more money than ever before.
Instead, NASA’s funding went down. By 1975, it was receiving less than 1% of the GDP. (.98%) In 2020 it was .48%.
So various parts of the plan got stripped away and the big bold vision got kinda lost to time.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a total bust. The Space Transportation System became the Space Shuttle, which; while it had its problems, is one of the most successful space vehicles of all time.

We didn’t get a whole bunch of space stations, but the space station idea stuck around and became Space Station Freedom in the 80s, eventually the ISS in the 90s.
They proposed landing on comets and we did that, they proposed sending probes to the asteroid belt, we did that (Dawn), they proposed the grand tour of the solar system. We did that. Twice.
They proposed Moon bases and landing people on Mars… We’re working on it.
What I find interesting about this whole period of the space program is how many things they kinda nailed. Sure their scope was wildly optimistic but the principles they espoused, the core tenants of reusability and whatnot, those are more relevant today than ever before. And we are kinda inching closer to their big vision. It’s frustratingly slow… But maybe we’re getting there.
But what if they had gotten their way? What if in some alternate utopian history we had spent the money on this instead of spending $10 billion a year on Vietnam? What would that look like? Where would we be today?

First of all, if any studio heads are watching, this would be an excellent premise for a movie or series, just saying.
If we landed on Mars in the early 80s and continued that same level of progress, we could have a small city there by now, at least a large base.
And we might have traveled beyond that in the solar system, maybe doing a crewed flyby of Venus, maybe asteroid mining would be more of a thing by now, starting to dip into The Expanse territory here…

We would definitely have a large presence on the moon, maybe a mature moon mining industry in place by now.
Or… it’s also possible that the entire thing backfires and winds up bankrupting the whole country. Although… maybe the opposite is true.
Some studies have estimated that for every $1 spent on the Apollo program $8 was made in terms of innovation, technology and job creation.
In fact, that’s the part of this question that’s really interesting, if we had continued funding the space program at Apollo levels up to today, what would technology look like? And how many new companies and jobs would have been created by that?

There’s also the question of how a program like that inspires people to go into science fields, apparently there was a massive spike in Ph.D’s after we landed on the moon. Who knows how that could have accelerated progress?
My writer Cooper took that $8 for every $1 spent metric and looked at what we would be spending if we had continued funding NASA at Apollo levels and estimated that it could have added more than $94 trillion to the economy.

That’s an interesting thought. Wildly speculative. But an interesting thought. The fact is, we don’t know what could have been. A lot of the advancements needed to make the Space Task Group plan happen couldn’t be solved by just throwing money at it.

There are a plethora of computer advances, materials advances and so on that need to happen before it can all come together in this way. Sometimes these things happen when they’re supposed to.
Maybe even with all the money in the world, we’d still be roughly where we are because this is the natural flow of progress. Many have argued that Apollo was kind-of a fluke and was way, WAY too early to actually be going to the moon.
Hell, I’ve made that argument. And I tend to agree with me.

But what do you think? Could they have pulled this off? Would it make the world a very different place? Talk about it down below.







NASA’s Eagleworks Lab: Pushing The Boundaries Of Physics

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If we’re ever going to reach other star systems, we need a new type of revolutionary propulsion system. NASA’s Eagleworks Lab is exploring the fringes of physics to find exactly that.

According To NASA, Voyager 2 May Be Leaving the Solar System Soon

This NASA diagram illustrates the hypothesized positions of Voyagers 1 and 2 in the solar system as of October 2018. Voyager 1 reached interstellar space in 2012. Voyager 2 may soon hit that milestone.

Want to get away? Want to get far, far away? Voyager 2 has you beat: The spacecraft, launched in 1977, is approaching the edge of the solar system, according to a NASA statement released today (Oct. 5).

That announcement is based on two different instruments on board, which in late August began noticing a small uptick in how many cosmic rays — superfast particles pummeling the solar system from outer space — were hitting the spacecraft.

That matches pretty well with what Voyager 1 began experiencing about three months before its own grand departure in 2012, but scientists can’t be sure of the milestone until after it has been passed.

We’re seeing a change in the environment around Voyager 2, there’s no doubt about that,” Voyager Project Scientist Ed Stone, a physicist at Caltech, said in the statement.

We’re going to learn a lot in the coming months, but we still don’t know when we’ll reach the heliopause. We’re not there yet — that’s one thing I can say with confidence.

The team behind Voyager 2 knows that the spacecraft is currently almost 11 billion miles (17.7 billion kilometers) away from Earth.

But it’s hard to predict when the spacecraft will actually leave the solar system by passing through what scientists call the heliopause.

The heliopause is the bubble around our solar system formed by the solar wind, the rush of charged particles that constantly streams off our sun.

The rate of energetic interstellar particles detected by Voyager 2 started to rise at the end of August 2018. Each point represents a 6-hour average.

But that solar wind ebbs and flows over the course of the sun’s 11-year cycle, which means that the bubble of our solar system itself expands and contracts.

And because Voyager 2 isn’t following precisely in its predecessor’s steps, scientists aren’t positive that its cosmic exit will result in identical changes to the data that the spacecraft reports.

So until Voyager 2 passes through the heliopause, there’s no way to be sure precisely where it is with regard to the heliopause.

Whenever it does successfully flee the solar system, Voyager 2 will become just the second human-made object to do so.

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