Robots can go to Hell

Pardon my French. But Robots can go to hell. Especially the ones that go on probes trying to win the new Google Lunar X-Prize. This prize would give $30mil to the first team that can get a robotic probe on the moon.

What use is it to the rest of us on this blue rock if a private company can land an unmanned drone on good ol' Luna? Private companies have financed probes to the great beyond before, just what is new or revolutionary about this effort?

Also, where are the friggin' passengers in this bit? None to be found. So the focus is on sending Johnny-Nine up there instead of us warm blooded people. My thinking is we should be focusing on sending eventual paying customers not robotic drones.

The original X-prize was about spurring the aerospace nerds to get going finding an affordable and safe ride to sub-orbital space and get a sub-orbital tourism market going.

Where is the market here? To take fancy pictures of the moon? NASA sells them for free.

If we were really hell bent on dealing with the technical and financial challenges of eventually going Selene's backside we would be focusing on getting cheap reliable travel to low earth orbit first. All this prize will do is encourage the nerds to make the tech we need to do short term stunts on the moon. We're putting the cart before the horse, before the driver, and it's 5 miles back on the other side of cliff where we can't see it.

This won't do a darned thing for TRUE human spaceflight. It sure won't increase anyones chances of one day affording a ticket to the moon that's for sure.

1 comment:

  1. I think what you're missing here is the change in mindset involved if a private company sends a vehicle to the moon. It is just one more chip away at NASA's armour; it will show people that it doesn't need to be a big government effort. If a small private company can pull it off, then anything can be done by a small group of dedicated people, and it doesn't require the resources of an army.