December 05, 2005
International Moon

UPDATE 12/07: Ryan Zelnio provides a lengthy response in Comments.

Over at the Space Review, Ryan Zelnio offers a model for developing the Moon through international cooperation.

The model has some problems.

He starts off by defining what he sees as four ways to approach international cooperation in the development of the Moon. (Oddly, he doesn't seem to make much of an argument for why such cooperation is neccessary or desirable.) The first he calls coordination:

A coordination framework is when each country has a separate program that is independent of each other but coordinates on technical and scientific matters. This model of cooperation is inviting in that it is easy for people to agree to, as it allows each country to maintain its total independence and manage its own contributions. The disadvantage of this is that often countries push programs that greatly overlap the efforts pursued by other countries, causing much duplication of efforts. This model, however, has been successful for Earth observation and several coordinating groups exist, including the Committee of Earth Observing Satellites (CEOS) and Global Earth Observation (GEO), with varying levels of success.
The "duplication of efforts" code-phrase is the clue that what follows is a plea for centralized planning in the name of eliminating said duplication of effort for "efficiency" purposes. Never mind the echo of the free market inherent in having several, largely free-standing national space programs pursuing different goals by different means, and the robustness and innovation that is more likely to be part of that approach than of one unified moon program, or the difficulty in achieving the consensus that would be required to have One Grand Plan acceptable to all.

The first phase would be coordination between all nations to send robotic spacecraft to the Moon to survey its resources and map its surfaces... During the first phase, which can occur immediately, a Committee on Lunar Exploration Satellites (CLES) would be formed, modeled after CEOS. CLES’s primary responsibility would be to coordinate all spacecraft currently in development as well as recommend other robotic missions to the Moon.
If this body is to coordinate all (lunar?) exploration spacecraft in development and into the future, and "all nations" are involved, it's no stretch to conclude that no "internationally legitimized" robotic missions could be conducted without its blessing...giving it at least a PR/suasion veto over what spacefaring nations might choose to do, a veto to be exercised at the whim of even non-spacefaring nations. It might even be a true veto power, should the organization's signatories be obliged by treaty to abide by its decisions.
ILDA shall have two sources of funding, mandatory funding and voluntary funding. A governing council within ILDA, made up of member states, shall determine the type of projects that fall under the different sources of funding.

Mandatory funding is the money that each member of ILDA contributes in order to claim membership. The amount that must be contributed shall be a percentage based off each country’s Gross Domestic Product.

Having the largest national economy, the U.S. foots most of the bill, but anyone can be a member, it would appear, by paying a fee proportional to the size of their own national economy. While the voluntary funding is to be spent among the states providing it in proportion to their donations...

The “just return” principle developed by ESA applies to all projects that fall under voluntary funding. This principle dictates that the work shall be divided amongst industries of each participating country based on the monetary amount each country has contributed. For example, if the United States determines it wants to contribute 42% of the funding towards a lunar solar power station, then they can expect 42% of the work to go to US industries.
...he mentions no such proportionality in regard to the mandatory funds.

And while he later proposes that the voting rights within the organization should be proportional to the mandatory funding provided, I'd be surprised if that wasn't the first provision of the treaty sacrificed on the altar of compromise in the interests of getting other states (particularly those with smaller economies) to sign on. "One country, one vote" is not going to be cast aside lightly when the resources of the Moon are involved (and that doesn't even compare to the hornet's nest this model and especially these proportionality provisions would stir up regarding thing like the Outer Space Treaty, Article I, Clause I in particular).

Furthermore, should a private company wish to fund their own project on the Moon, ILDA shall help accommodate said company. This compensation shall include the use of the transport system and lunar base at fair market prices.
And what if the purpose of that commercial entity was to provide transportation or a lunar base in direct competition with that of the ILDA? Would they still be obliged to help? Would they?
The Administrative Office shall be located in New York. This location is chosen due to the United Nations (UN). While not a part of the UN itself, it is an organization dedicated to bringing the world together to accomplish a great task and its location shall show be symbolic of being associated with the UN. The Office shall include the Administrator of ILDA, the legal division, international relations, and all human resource functions, along with their supporting staff.
Nevermind the outrageousness of WANTING to be associated with the Oil-For-Food kleptocrats, Rwanda bystanders, antisemitic loons, failed socialists, and moral Magoos of the UN, and seeing such association as a feature, this statement says all you need to know about the model: the entity he proposes has as its overriding symbolic purpose "bringing the world together and accomplishing a great task". Not building a base on the Moon, as one might be forgiven for assuming, not encouraging commercial development and settlement, as one might have hoped, but facilitating peace, love, and international harmony through international cooperation.

People of all nations coming together, clasping pressure-gloved hands, singing Kumbayaa in the Sea of Tranquility.

Barf.

The Commercial Development division shall reside in Europe and draw upon the expertise of ESA in working with industry to create new technologies that open new markets. Its role will be in the coordination of commercial interests within plans of the other divisions of ILDA, as well as working with business to pursue commercial opportunities on the surface of the Moon.
Uh...this is a joke...right?

This idea makes ZERO sense given Europe's notoriously anti-business climate (stifling regulation, high taxation, out of control labor laws). If you're going rationalize handing Russia the role of building the base based on their "long-term experience in building living areas in space", why the hell would you not put the unit in charge of commercialization in the U.S. where the venture capital and the entrepreneurial tradition (not to mention the startup companies) are?

All funding shall go through the Administrative Office and the Administrator shall control the doling out of all monetary resources as well as be the ultimate authority in determining contractor selection, within the confines mentioned previously...The Administrator post shall be an elected position lasting five years. No administrator can serve twice and each subsequent administrator must not come from the same geographic region as its predecessor.
Do I even need to point out the obvious here, that giving one unelected politician the power of the purse over an organization with the mandate of ILDA is a quick-and-easy one-bowl recipe for corruption on the scale of Oil for Food? Cripes, how on Earth could someone propose such a thing with a straight face? The mind boggles.
Furthermore, once the participating countries have deemed that the infrastructure is in place enough to be sustainable on its own, ILDA shall cease to exist and be privatized; one estimates that the lifetime of ILDA will be 40-60 years.
How is the "sustainability" to be evaluated...by whom and against what yardstick? And is it realistic to expect that an organization with the scope and mandate of ILDA would simply surrender its power and money without a fight, when if ever it was asked to do so?
Implementing the type of radical change in how we approach the VSE with an organization like ILDA will not be easy, nor will it happen overnight.
Ah. "Radical change." Another one of those code phrases that make me cringe, because it always seems to lead to fiat...
Its creation will mark a shift in space policy and how it is implemented.
...and truncheons...
It shall force changes in each country’s individual space programs as resources are diverted to fulfill obligations under the ILDA charter.
Whether they like it or not, I suppose.
It is also not necessarily the most realistic model to implement.
At last, an understatement I'm sure we can all agree with. Posted by T.L. James on December 5, 2005 06:58 PM

Comments

"...moral Magoos of the UN"

What a delicious turn of phrase!



Posted by: Mike Anderson at December 6, 2005 08:18 AM

I mean no disrespect to the American People, but the US Government's total ignorance of Human Rights and International Law, as demonstrated by the repeated evidence of torture in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and now at US airbases in Europe, hardly gives it the Moral Highground... and on the subject of Commercial Leadership, is not the Land of the Free, also the home of NASA and Porkbarrel politics? Ryan's proposals are a little naive, but hardly deserving of the ignorant postings of T.L. James.



Posted by: D Wenzel at December 6, 2005 12:39 PM

Care to shed some light on what in particular you consider "ignorant" in the post above? I don't plan to waste my time on your comment if it's just another whiny drive-by ad hominem.



Posted by: T.L. James at December 6, 2005 05:48 PM

First off, thank you for the critique on my paper. I'd like to respond to a few of your points if I may.

"Oddly, he doesn't seem to make much of an argument for why such cooperation is necessary or desirable."

I do not go into detail on this very much as the purpose was pretty straight forward. Griffin had put out a call to the Workshop on Space Exploration and International Cooperation in calling for the need to look at models for bringing in other countries to participate as partners with the VSE. To quote griffin's speech directly:

"The United States, working alone, cannot fulfill the sweeping goals of the Vision for Space Exploration. We must maintain the strong international partnerships that have been built during the Space Station era, and must extend those partnerships even more broadly, to enable a robust human space exploration program."

Griffin then goes on to state:

"if we are to make the expansion and development of the space frontier an integral part of what it is that human societies do, then these activities must assume an economic dimension as well. Sooner rather than later, government space activity must become a lesser rather than a greater part of what it is that humans do in space. To this end, it is up to us at NASA to use the challenge of the Vision to foster the commercial opportunities which are inherent to this exciting endeavor."

It is in direct response to this and other points to his speech that I address this paper towards.

On coordination:

I am a firm believer in the free market, the coordination framework as I stated in the paper “each country has a separate program that is independent of each other but coordinates on technical and scientific matters.” Within this framework, no country can veto a program from any other country, period. You warn about what this may degenerate too but I ask you to look at CEOS which has been around for a number of years in which countries cooperate in building complimentary systems used for monitoring the Earth’s environment. This has proven to be very effective method for countries to build satellites such that each provides a unique piece of science that no other satellite has done. There is frequently overlap in that the French want to be able to monitor certain VIR bands as do the US, but what each instrument is tweaked to do remains unique.

There is no One Grand Plan per se but a government like India who wishes to build a EOS can goto one of these committees and ask them what kind of instruments would be useful to put on their bird. They may then take or leave the committees recommendations. Often the case comes out that the government chooses the main mission but allows secondary payloads suggested by GEO or CEOS.

Space science is by its very nature a cooperative venture as funds for it is scarce. That is why I view such a group for scientific missions to be a necessity to maximize the science while minimizing the cost. Show me a commercial company that is non-monopolistic (such as AT&T Bell Labs was in the 60s and 70s) that is willing to fund the basic science that still needs to happen on the moon and don’t quote some alt.space company with pretty charts but actually one that has built actual hardware and then I’ll start to believe that a body such as this is unnecessary.

On mandatory funding:

Yes, the US with the greatest GNP will foot a large part of this bill is undeniable. The GNP in 2004 for the U.S. was 12.15 trillion, the closest after that is the EU is 8.5 trillion and the total world GNP is 39.8 trillion. This is a fact of life and is made up for in terms of voting rights. What this means that in mandatory funding allocations, the US may be putting forward more than it gets out is undisputable. To make up for this, the U.S. houses both the lunar transportation center as well as the headquarters. You can argue which centers go where geographically no problems, but the fact is that the US shall get both.

On the OSP and lunar resources:
I believe that we can use the Deep Seabed Authority as the precedent for lunar resource. Similar to the Moon Agreement, the Seabed Convention defines this deep seabed area and its resources as “the common heritage of mankind.” On Earth, the Authority operates by contracting with private and public corporations and other entities authorizing them to explore, and eventually exploit, specified areas on the deep seabed for mineral resources. The Convention also established a body called the Enterprise which is to serve as the Authority’s own mining operator, but no concrete steps have been taken to bring this into being. By providing multinational oversight and licensing authority, claims can be organized, protected and approved while ensuring the protection of the lunar environment and key lunar sites of historic or scientific importance.

I also believe that the International Telecommunication Union’s licensing authority to allocate the EM spectrum provides a model for the basic organizational structure and purpose of the ILDA lunar land-use policy.

On the UN:
Most of the emails I have gotten about this paper come down to this sentence. I am frankly surprised at all the negative comments about the UN people have and how much conservatives in America hate it. I have to live in a reality in which we do business internationally and the UN is a part of this. Regardless of what conservatives in the US think, the UN does serve a valid purpose in fostering international trade. I agree it is not perfect and we have violated its mission as much as others have in the past but for now, it is all we have. I do agree with you that I should have toned down the rhetoric a bit there and it was a bit overboard.

On Europe:
As for the EU getting the commercial center all I can say to this is to take a step back and look at the reality in the space world as it is right now. The Arianne rocket is by far the industry leader in the commercial launch business. I can attest to that by the fact that over half the satellites my company builds is launched there. Also, Alcatel is doing great in the commsat world and has been able to win more competitive satellites orders in a given year than any of its the US competitors. This is due mainly to the idiotic policies set forth by a Republican led Senate that imposed tough ITAR restrictions on anything that stinks of space that is strangling our ability to compete globally in the space business. This is a topic I am currently working on for a future paper that I’ll try to convince the Space Review in the future. Bottom line is we are starting to get killed in the existing commercial space marketplace because of US policies. We are handing the French between $400-$800 million a year in satellite contracts because we cannot even bid on them!

On the eventual demise of ILDA and competition with ILDA from Free Enterprise:
I firmly believe that an agency like ILDA only has a lifespan of 40 years or so. There will be competition with it once the technology has matured enough and people see a business case to be made. All I can point to here are the concrete examples shown in recent history in terms of Intelsat and Inmarsat. Intelsat did a lot in the fostering of the capability for commercial companies to build spacecraft. I know this is a very controversial statement to make but it is one I do believe. I’ve worked with Intelsat for the past 5 and a half years and their willingness to put risky technology on satellites is unique in the industry that is dominated by extreme technological conservatism. However, once the market could stand on its own 2 feet, Intelsat was disbanded as a government agency and is now being run by private equity companies that are making a lot of money.

I thank you again for taking the time to critique my paper and I hope I have clarified a few of my points to you and will be happy to debate other points as you see fit.



Posted by: Ryan Zelnio at December 6, 2005 09:42 PM

No offense, but Griffon's speech is just empty rhetoric. If he were truly interested in a lesser government role in space, then he should have started by now. As far as the US being unable to implement the "Visions of Space Program" by itself. I fail to see how an internation effort can succeed where a US one fails.

The problems are two-fold. First, the world isn't that much larger than the US. As you mention, the global economy is only triple that of the US economy. My take is that either both economies are "large enough" or neither is.

Second, an internation effort has a substantial increase in bureacratic costs and conflicts of interest. The International Space Station has experienced more than a ten-fold increase in costs due to this effect.

So for a minor increase in economic resources and a substantial increase in bureacratic costs, we get an "international" effort. Doesn't seem worth it to me.

My take is that if the US can't do it alone, then it won't be able to do it with others' help unless the latter are doing most of the work.



Posted by: Karl Hallowell at December 6, 2005 10:19 PM

You can definitely take the pessimistic approach here. As far as actions are concerned, I believe Griffin is doing so. The COTS industry day is 2 days away and has the potential to be a huge step forward in NASA's relationship with industry. I believe by contract awards next May that one of two scenarios will be shown:

1) NASA will select the standard big aerospace corp to build the commercial launcher for the ISS cargo and in which case I will completely agree that Griffin is full of shit in his rhetoric and is as trustworthy as Alan Binder has made him out to be in his book on the Lunar Prospector

2) NASA will give some percentage of the $500 million of COTS to the alt.space community, in which case Griffin will have shown that he is serious in his rhetoric.

I believe this competition to be one of the first true cases on just how serious he is in doing business with the commercial sector as the alt.space defines the commercial sector.

As for your second comment I think you fail to grasp how funding is allocated. The US is running a massive deficit and is only allocating $16 bill to civil space. The chances of that going significantly higher is worse than me winning the lottery. For something of the scope of magnitude of a lunar base, which is definitely in the $100s of billions (and I do mean the plural there contrary to what NASA has stated so far), they are going to have to have more cash infused.

In addition, if this vision is to survive this presidency, then it needs to be clad in the protective layers of international commitments. Say what you want about its usefulness, the ISS would be a dead project if it were not for our international commitments to the project and the resulting fallout that would pursue to our diplomatic efforts if we unilaterally abandoned the station. That is a politically reality no matter how much people in the US dislike the ISS. Bush's policy team realizes this and will seek to do whatever they can to strengthen the Bush's legacy to survive past his presidency. That is just the nature of politics.



Posted by: Ryan Zelnio at December 6, 2005 11:38 PM

I have a number of problems with the Zelnio proposal, but James' response gets off to a bad start with the following:

"The 'duplication of efforts' code-phrase is the clue that what follows is a plea for centralized planning in the name of eliminating said duplication of effort for 'efficiency' purposes. Never mind the echo of the free market inherent in having several, largely free-standing national space programs pursuing different goals by different means, and the robustness and innovation that is more likely to be part of that approach than of one unified moon program, or the difficulty in achieving the consensus that would be required to have One Grand Plan acceptable to all."

This is hyperbolic and rather odd, because "eliminating duplication of efforts" is in fact the goal of the two organizations he cites, CEOS and GEO. It is not like Zelnio invented this out of thin air in order to justify his nefarious "One Grand Plan." And in fact, it has been a goal of other scientific coordination programs in other fields as well.

However, in the case of CEOS it hasn't worked all that well. CEOS itself has apparently been reasonably successful, which in part explains its longevity. But member countries are not going to eliminate duplication in remote sensing because of national security and national interest concerns. They will build duplicative satellites because they want immediate access to the data and because they need assured access to the data. For instance, India has a satellite that partially duplicates Landsat. But they get first dibs on the data and they can point it at anybody they want (Pakistan) and nobody can stop them.

A coordinating group on lunar observations has some merit, if only to provide a forum to bring the countries together to discuss issues. Lacking the common forum, they are going to communicate less and be less aware of what the others are doing. It certainly is not going to have the power to squash individual programs or anything like that. But there is currently no ideal forum for sharing data or discussing future plans, and while "robustness and innovation" are admirable goals, they can be helped by knowing more of what others are planning and discovering.

For James' claim to have validity, he would have to argue that CEOS and GEO have failed and prevented "largely free-standing national space programs pursuing different goals by different means," in remote sensing. I see no such argument.

"If this body is to coordinate all (lunar?) exploration spacecraft in development and into the future, and "all nations" are involved, it's no stretch to conclude that no "internationally legitimized" robotic missions could be conducted without its blessing...giving it at least a PR/suasion veto over what spacefaring nations might choose to do, a veto to be exercised at the whim of even non-spacefaring nations. It might even be a true veto power, should the organization's signatories be obliged by treaty to abide by its decisions."

This is taking the hyperbole to an extreme, making you look paranoid. It is a slippery-slope argument ultimately leading to--what? A conclusion that Zelnio is endorsing placing the Illuminati and the International Communist Party in control of lunar resources? The article doesn't say anything about a veto power, doesn't even say anything about what non-members can do. CEOS and GEO (the two coordinating bodies cited as examples) don't do this, and they have been around for many years.

Your critique reads like a paranoid rant rather than a civil discussion.



Posted by: Dwayne A. Day at December 7, 2005 03:45 PM

In response to the question of "ignorance", I have to applaud Ms Rice for today clarifying the US Government position with regard to what they define as "torture". Prior to today's announcement, US policy had been framed by the very limited definition of "torture" provided by the Attorney-General. She has now stated, under pressure from Congress and US allies in Europe, that the US will adhere to the UN's broader definition of "torture" i.e. the one long accepted by other Western democracies. This is great news, but until the US also accepts that it's citizens can be tried by the International Criminal Court (you'll be happy to hear this is not part of the UN!), as almost every other country now accepts, and stops ripping up previously signed International Treaties which no longer suit US Policy, there is a way to go to dispel the view that only the "American Way", is the "Right Way". Don't get me wrong, the American Way, often is the best way, and the moral and democratic standards in the US are some of the highest in the world. This does not mean however, that if it's not invented or operated in the US, that it must be inferior. To believe so, is to be arrogant and ignorant of the views of others. To get back to Alt.Space (finally!), I believe Ryan's suggested model, unhindered by strong nationalistic tendencies in Washington, Brussels, Moscow and Beijing, and some of their industry partners, would probably work very well, but I think it is naive to believe it would be allowed to be created, or work in the ways described, in the world we live in today.



Posted by: D. Wenzel at December 7, 2005 04:31 PM

David, please stop hijacking the thread with your one-man discussion of torture. I'm not interested in discussing this overblown non-issue, and if I was it would not be in a thread with zero topical relation to it.

As to your somewhat-topical point regarding the U.S. attitude towards international treaties, why do you assume our reasons for not joining the ICC or withdrawing from the ABM Treaty aren't based on a rational evaluation of our national interests...rather than arrogance and ignorance? Are you familiar with the term "rebus sic stantibus"?



Posted by: T.L. James at December 7, 2005 08:35 PM

Dwayne, if you are interested in a civil discussion, implying that I'm a conspiricy nut and dismissing my post as a "paranoid rant" is hardly the way to go about it.

Assuming your comments were also directed at me and not some imaginary friend of yours named James, let me see if I can translate my arguments down to your reading level.

The "duplication of effort" argument is based on my reading of Hayek and others, who point to it as one common appeal used by proponents of central economic planning. This duplication inherent in a free market is wasteful, the appeal goes, and could be eliminated through the proper use of centralized coordination of production, i.e.: economic planning. Among the bad results from such planning in practice, those important to my argument are the stifling effect it has on innovation and the "brittleness" of an economy in which the buffer provided by this duplication has been eliminated.

Whatever one thinks of the economics of a particular national space program, there is an "echo" of this same problem among the various national space programs with regards to the integrative approach Ryan's model describes. If the plan of the integrated space program alots the design and production of the transportation system to one country, for example, where is the motivation (not to mention funding) for other members to offer a better alternative? And if in the name of efficient use of resources, "a" transportation system is developed to support the common Moon base and then has a string of operational problems, where is the backup? Calling robustness and innovation "admirable goals" misses the point, as those things are not goals but the effects of the functioning of a free market (or the semblance of one, in this case, among independent national space programs).

As for the "One Grand Plan", the phrase referred to the outcome of the planning process among the integrated international members, not to Ryan's model.

Having a forum for sharing information about what the assorted national space programs are doing is not a bad idea -- but that is not what I was arguing against with respect to Ryan's CLES, which was "coordination" and the coerciveness that that term suggests. If Ryan intended that term to be read as "talk shop", then there is little to fret about. My concern is the degree of authority such a coordinative body would have to ensure compliance with its efforts at harmonization, and how that authority (like any other power entrusted to government or quasi-governmental agencies) might be intentionally misused -- or be exercised in ways which inadvertently retard the activities such a body would be created to promote.

Your straw-man invocation of the Illuminati and communists is as absurd as it is irrelevant, as I was raising the possibility that giving an organization involving "all nations" the responsibility to "coordinate all spacecraft" might have undesirable consequences of a bureaucratic nature, depending on what teeth it is given to enforce its recommendations. For example, if all nations are members, what is to stop a member or bloc of members (especially those without space capabilities of their own) from throwing a monkeywrench into the works in an attempt to secure something they want in return...or simply out of spite? It's everyday politics, no conspiracy is required.



Posted by: T.L. James at December 7, 2005 10:50 PM

As for your second comment I think you fail to grasp how funding is allocated. The US is running a massive deficit and is only allocating $16 bill to civil space. The chances of that going significantly higher is worse than me winning the lottery. For something of the scope of magnitude of a lunar base, which is definitely in the $100s of billions (and I do mean the plural there contrary to what NASA has stated so far), they are going to have to have more cash infused.

Your assessment here is probably correct, but I don't think government projects or international projects will work long term. But frankly, I don't see evidence that international cooperation on this scale works at all.

In the case of the ISS, it appears to me that yes, it would have either been considerably cheaper or discontinued if it were merely a national project. Either outcome would be preferable to the current state of expensive uselessness. Further the international "web of commitments" seems more an argument to avoid international scale projects since they are so difficult to back out of.

Witness the US's continuance of the Space Shuttle solely because of the need to complete some level of construction on the ISS. Multiple misguided programs linger on merely because of internation commitments. Let us not forget that also with more parties comes more opportunities for failure and for misappropriation of public funds.

Finally, as far as the US's finances go, it's not in that bad of shape compared to most other OECD countries. Its deficit is a relatively small portion of GDP. More than half the budget goes to entitlements like Social Security and Medicare. Large permanent reductions in these program would fix the deficit for the foreseable future. It's not clear to me what other parties will fund the US's ambitions through international efforts.



Posted by: Karl Hallowell at December 7, 2005 11:09 PM

I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the perpetually sour Dwayne to respond. He couldn't be bothered to come back and defend his obtuse complaints on this thread, either:
http://www.marsblog.net/archives/001629.html



Posted by: Aaron_J at December 8, 2005 07:34 AM

Mr. Aaron J wrote:
"He couldn't be bothered to come back and defend his obtuse complaints on this thread, either:"

I don't read Marsblog much. Don't see much here worth reading or commenting on. Sometimes I get bored and post. Sometimes I get bored and decide it's not worth posting. The latter is the case here.



Posted by: Dwayne A. Day at December 8, 2005 09:30 AM

Well, gosh, Dwayne, thanks for deigning to comment here anyway. Hopefully someday you'll find something here worthy of that civil discussion you claim to want...something that will motivate you to contribute more than sanctimonious whining.



Posted by: T.L. James at December 9, 2005 06:49 AM

I'm concerned about what will happen to our solar system if the Americans, with their current exploitative philosophy, get their hands on it. What if some form of life is found somewhere? How long will it be before the ecology and future evolution of the place is destroyed? We have extinct species here on earth because of man's activities. I don't want to see this expanded into other places. It's bad enough here on earth.

Besides, who wants to go to McDonalds Restaurant on Mars? Isn't it better to leave it in its natural state?



Posted by: Wally at December 14, 2005 11:51 AM

So, Wally, I guess we'll leave the "exploitation" to those other countries capable of putting men into space: the Russians and the Chinese. After all, both are such wonderful caretakers of the environment, especially compared to the U.S. Right. I would ask if you know anything at all about environmental management, but your inane post answers that question.

And I'm not too worried about McDonalds being left in its natural state. Those wonderful people have standardization down to such a science that I suspect a Big Mac sold on Chryse Planitia would be just as delicious as the ones I buy here on Houston. Yum! Thanks for your concern, though.



Posted by: Aaron_J at December 14, 2005 09:22 PM