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View Full Version : Return to Space, Yes or No?


JesseJames
Jan 17, 2004, 02:13 PM
Since Bush wants to get back to space with a new lunar mission and an eventual trip to Mars, are we ready to send men again?
I mean, is it worth it? That's the argument we've been hearing from doubters.
I believe the quest for knowledge is well worth it. But I don't believe we should be sending flesh and blood to those far flung places. The overhead to support humans in space is just too much.
Instead, I think NASA and JPL should invest in artificial intelligence. I'm talking about the next generation of robotics. I believe it is time that humans make a robot that can think for themselves and do the most dangerous missions.
That should be the next step for space exploration.
Can you just imagine the spin-off technologies that this can father?
I know I know, there's the Orwellian aspect to worry about but I think humans are basically good and we will always be fighting the evil in us. And good eventually triumphs.
Imagine, a robot 4 to 5 times stronger than a human. With sight sensors that would make Superman jealous employed for battlefield use to augment infantry on the ground, for deep sea exploration, helping in mining operations or the most dangerous industrial work.
All we have to do is maintain them. If we lose one, oh well, build another one.

zamyatin
Jan 17, 2004, 03:42 PM
I support human migrations to Mars and the moon. In the short term, the moon is the best target because it is so much closer! It also will make an excellent test bed for development of Martian habitats. Every settlement on the moon will have to be underground, for radiation shielding, better containment of artificial atmosphere (a micrometeorite could punch a hole through surface bases, whether metal or advanced plastics), and to not mar the surface in a way that would eventually be visible from Earth (city lights at night, for example).

A base is a fine start, but the goal should be to make permanent habitations on the moon (and later, Mars), with scientific as well as civilian communities.

Compared to the amount of wealth in the world today (don't analyze by nation-states, they are obsolete), this colonization effort would not be significant. All the cost and time and energy needed wouldn't amount to a fraction of the global automobile industry, for example.

A German scientist has been developing moonbase and moon city plans for several decades now, many of which can be downloaded from his website. His name is Heinz-Hermann Koelle and his website is http://vulcain.fb12.tu-berlin.de/ILR/personen/hh_koelle.html. There are several dozen detailed plans on his website right now, in English, in PDF.

Why should humans do this? Because we can! Because we want to. It would be fun.

rainman::|:|
Jan 17, 2004, 03:44 PM
I don't think there's any reason to do more space exploration, until scientific advances make it worthwhile. Until then, it's money wasted. Eventually we'll have more advanced capabilities and will be able to do more (such as starting a base on the moon, etc). but what are we going to do differently now? Go wander around a gray planet aimlessly at a cost of billions of dollars?

it's not pragmatic. Space exploration is important to our future, but it can't be rushed-- Technology needs to catch up with our desire to leave the planet.

paul

zarathustra
Jan 17, 2004, 03:55 PM
Originally posted by paulwhannel
it's not pragmatic. Space exploration is important to our future, but it can't be rushed-- Technology needs to catch up with our desire to leave the planet.

paul

I disagree - I don't think it's our desire to leave the planet that is at play or is important.

We have gained a lot by past space programs with technologies developed and materials discovered. The moon could easily be used as a jumpig off base for other exploration.

Can you imagine a moon base that is remote controlled and self sufficient with solar panels that could act as a natural satellite? Instead of trying to keep a scientific satellite in orbit (Hubble, weather sats, etc.) we could examine the Earth/universe without the distortion of our atmosphere, or the need to constantly having to adjust the orbit of a satellite.

We can only gain knowledge from future space exploration, and if it's worthless, we learned THAT. :D

*edit sp*

Mr. Anderson
Jan 17, 2004, 06:23 PM
Originally posted by zarathustra

Can you imagine a moon base that is remote controlled and self sufficient with solar panels that could act as a natural satellite? Instead of trying to keep a scientific satellite in orbit (Hubble, weather sats, etc.) we could examine the Earth/universe without the distortion of our atmosphere, or the need to constantly having to adjust the orbit of a satellite.


easy to imagine - much harder to actually get it there. I agree with paulwhannel a bit.

We don't need another Apollo. We've proven it can be done. What we do need is a cheap, reliable and single stage to orbit vehicle. That along with a real space station, not something like the ISS which is slowly turning into another Skylab.

Once those two things are done - getting the higher orbiting station as a gateway to the rest of the solar system - we can go on to the moon. And actually, in the near term, it would be much more beneficial to try and mine asteroids for water and raw materials to build things in space. A fleet of space ships that never enter Earth's atmosphere, spend all their time in space is crucial as well.

Don't focus on the glory of a Moon base and a manned mission to Mars. Get the infrastructure set up to make it easier. We're also still at the mercy of solar storms. What if we had another huge one like this past year and it hits the space station? There might not be an effective amount of shielding for the high levels of radiation to keep the astronauts safe.

I'm not saying getting back to the moon is wrong, there's just so much to do before we get there. And, also, it needs to have commercial sponsorship to help keep the dream alive.

Apollo 18 was made and had been planned to go to the moon, but it never did because people got blazé about another trip back. There has to be a good reason, more than just going because we can - and Bush's plan is very much focused on that.

I just hope things work out.

D

wdlove
Jan 17, 2004, 08:54 PM
I am for continued Space exploration. Having an attainable goal is what will get the American public behind the project. I don't see why we can't have that same spirit that we did in the 60's. It was a great feeling.

Think that just like seeing the problems that the scientists had with Spirit and opportunity. They had a deadline and they knew that if they could not fix them there was a chance that the two landers would end up in the Smithsonian. Just as with the Apollo mission, there will be benefits for us here on Earth that we can't even inagine at this point in time. Medicine was a big beneficiary.

What is needed is to have a clear goal set. We had a lot of problems here on Earth when Kennedy set his goal for mankind. I think that vast benefits are on the horizon. This time we also need a partnership with business and whatever other countries are interested.

isus
Jan 17, 2004, 09:02 PM
not to turn this over to politics and just bash bush...

but he turned a near $90 billion surplus into a near $400 billion deficit.

and he just wants to keep giving out money... yea, that'll work.

johnnowak
Jan 17, 2004, 11:39 PM
Originally posted by JesseJames
Instead, I think NASA and JPL should invest in artificial intelligence. I'm talking about a synthetic person. I believe it is time that humans make a robot that can think for themselves and do the most dangerous missions.
That should be the next step for space exploration.

I sincerely hope you're joking. That's not exactly... possible...

Stelliform
Jan 18, 2004, 08:43 AM
....

pseudobrit
Jan 18, 2004, 12:54 PM
We should also take the $1.5 bilion pledged to "promoting marriage" and give it to NASA instead.

Now THAT's a bloody waste of money.

jefhatfield
Jan 18, 2004, 01:29 PM
Originally posted by isus
not to turn this over to politics and just bash bush...

but he turned a near $90 billion surplus into a near $400 billion deficit.

and he just wants to keep giving out money... yea, that'll work.

i am a fiscal conservative and i did have hopes for some great savings for uncle sam and a possible aversion to this cyclical recession...yes, it could be done but we need a focused president

but bush wants to spend and spend and right now, at least, we should not worry too much about space expolration because it will be closer to reality when our technology is "there"

jayscheuerle
Jan 18, 2004, 01:39 PM
Originally posted by johnnowak
I sincerely hope you're joking. That's not exactly... possible...

Well, neither is the technology to take a crew of living beings to Mars and back.

We're a lot closer to being able to send robots that can carry out their own experiments and send us back the results, as well as move around without every little command coming from us than we are to sending people to Mars.

The moon? Been there. There wasn't enough science gained by going there as often as we did. It's a big, dead rock.

The biggest tragedy is that real science is going to take a hit as money is diverted to this pipe dream that incidentally, will not happen. The Hubble Space Telescope has provided far more scientific wealth than the entire Apollo program and we're going to let it burn up.

By the time we ever do send people to Mars, the majority of information about this planet will be found out. We'll just be going to shove our big ole flagpole into the ground.

This type of declaration not only underscores Bush's idiocy and lack of priorities, but cashes in on the simplemindedness of average Americans, whose scientific knowledge is right up there with their ability to speak a second language. Ignorant and proud of it.

Bush embarrasses me as much as my own Mayor does (the dishonorable John F. Street of Philadelphia (D)). If we took all of the complacent idiots out of this country, its population would be like that of Greenland...

tpjunkie
Jan 18, 2004, 03:19 PM
Originally posted by jayscheuerle
Well, neither is the technology to take a crew of living beings to Mars and back.


I disagree; do you realize the computer technology used to get to the moon is dwarfed by an average graphing calculator available for less that 90 bucks? The crafts used to get man to the moon, while state of the art in their day, now look dated and obsolete; Reagan announced an initiative to go to mars in 1989, which would have put us on mars right around now; it probably would have succeeded if the public opinion had not been against it (of course this was probably due in part to it seeming like another far fetched "star wars" program....and would you look at that, we're in the midst of building a missile defence system now)...I think the technology is mostly there, although it could stand to be vastly improved to increase the likelyhood of success, and given the motivation, I think we're capable of doing it, especially in the 10-15 year window proposed.

jayscheuerle
Jan 18, 2004, 04:16 PM
Keeping people alive and healthy with food and oxygen for 1 week versus 1.5 to 2 years, along with all the mental hardships that brings, will require technology and understanding we don't have yet.

Though the ships from the Apollo program may look dated, we're using the exact same technology every time we send humans into space. This technology has changed little in over 60 years. Any other type of space-travel technology has not been tested on the scale that would be needed to send humans to and back from Mars. Obviously, even our trusted old-school rocket technology has never been put to that kind of test. This isn't just like going to the moon. Going to the moon has more in common with V2 rocket launch from the 1930s than it will with sending people to Mars.

synergy
Jan 18, 2004, 04:22 PM
Originally posted by isus
not to turn this over to politics and just bash bush...

but he turned a near $90 billion surplus into a near $400 billion deficit.

and he just wants to keep giving out money... yea, that'll work.

There never was any real surplus. It was projected based on an outperforming stock market. We all saw what happened to the stock market early 2000s.

But yes, Bush did also run amok with the over spending. Unless government receipts increase based on a hugely boooming economy there will come hell to pay soon enough because of that deficit.

I am sure we will see the military budget shrink and move over towards space exploration. Why do I say that?
Because the next big thing will be space based military. Like or not, that is where it is moving towards next.

The British ruled the sea and were a world dominant power for some time. The US ruled the air and are still a world power as a result. Whoever rules space can play for keeps. China already threw their hats in. Europe wants to as well.

jayscheuerle
Jan 18, 2004, 04:28 PM
Originally posted by synergy
Whoever rules space can play for keeps.

Huh? That seems like a logical progression, but establishing a Moon or Mars base will do nothing in terms of international power. The U.S. may well lose their grip of power if we dump to much money into this election-year scheme, which will undoubtedly be killed before the costs escalate too much.

gwuMACaddict
Jan 18, 2004, 05:24 PM
Originally posted by jayscheuerle
propulsion is not the problem

i'm all for plasma and or ion engines...

:D

Stelliform
Jan 18, 2004, 06:22 PM
.....

jayscheuerle
Jan 19, 2004, 07:59 AM
Originally posted by Stelliform
The News media is acting like Bush is chasing impossible dreams at the expense of Hubble, but this simply isn't true.

No, but he's chasing impossible dreams at the expense of real science like the Hubble, which should still be functioning until '07 or '08. Let's hope that funding for the Webb Telescope doesn't get slashed for the Jetson's program.

Mr. Anderson
Jan 19, 2004, 08:17 AM
The Hubble shouldn't be scrapped and they're sending up a booster to help it down, why not just use the same thing to get it into a higher orbit. Don't let it burn up, keep it in space indefinitely until there is a Space Museum in orbit 100 years from now.

Such a waste, if you ask me.

D

jayscheuerle
Jan 19, 2004, 08:34 AM
Hubble Rules!! (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3387919.stm)

synergy
Jan 19, 2004, 08:40 AM
Originally posted by jayscheuerle
Huh? That seems like a logical progression, but establishing a Moon or Mars base will do nothing in terms of international power. The U.S. may well lose their grip of power if we dump to much money into this election-year scheme, which will undoubtedly be killed before the costs escalate too much.

You can't shoot the moon out of the sky like a satellite can you? Anti-Missile defense shield on the moon anyone?

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20040118/pl_nm/space_weapons_dc



With regards to Mr. Anderson's comment on just use boosters to keep Hubble in the proper orbit. That is all fine and dandy so long as the gyrsoscopes in hubble remain in working condition. I believe there are 4 working gyroscopes currently. It needs three to operate and point itself. It went up with six. If it loses two more a service mission will be needed to keep it going.
So it is not as easy and cheap as it seems.

I was more of the opinion to let hubble go and put out a new telescope. Of course if there is no money spent on a new one then certainly keep Hubble up as long as possible.

Mr. Anderson
Jan 19, 2004, 08:44 AM
Originally posted by synergy
You can't shoot the moon out of the sky like a satellite can you? Anti-Missile defense shield on the moon anyone?


But the moon isn't always where you need it. It could be facing the other side of the planet :p

D

synergy
Jan 19, 2004, 08:49 AM
Originally posted by Mr. Anderson
But the moon isn't always where you need it. It could be facing the other side of the planet :p

D

Mind you I am not defending this, saying it should happen. I think space should be for peaceful exploration. That said, a combination of ground, satellite and moon based systems makes for the ultimate anti-missile system. As well certainly the moon can be facing the other side of the planet. Say where China is? Or where North Korea is? Still seems to work to knock their missiles out or even a "pre-emptive" strike.

Mr. Anderson
Jan 19, 2004, 08:58 AM
You'd have to use lasers - and if they're powerful enough to knock out a missle, then they might reach the ground. Not something I'd want to be looking at.

The delay would also be an issue - make targeting a bit tricky - its quite a ways away....

D

jayscheuerle
Jan 19, 2004, 09:01 AM
Originally posted by synergy
You can't shoot the moon out of the sky like a satellite can you? Anti-Missile defense shield on the moon anyone?


Unless they use a giant space "LASER" on the Moon to shoot missiles out of the sky with, there are 240,000 miles of delay time to deal with.

Besides, as 9/11 has shown, our biggest threat isn't from missiles coming in from overhead.

Every positive aspect of this Moon/Mars shot is based on science fiction, while real science is being done on Mars as we speak, by a seemingly capable little craft, and in near space by both the Hubble and presumably the International Space Station.

After the elections, this will all disappear, rationality will return and science will prevail (I hope!).

synergy
Jan 19, 2004, 09:06 AM
Originally posted by Mr. Anderson
You'd have to use lasers - and if they're powerful enough to knock out a missle, then they might reach the ground. Not something I'd want to be looking at.

The delay would also be an issue - make targeting a bit tricky - its quite a ways away....

D

I don't disagree with you. But my thoughts are that this was started pre-9/11 attacks. If you look at Rumsfeld's statements prior to 9/11 he talked much of re-organizing the armed forces and talked about space as well. The start of this will happen soon enough unless the elections in November change the administration. With 4 years of work on this, it will become one of those entrenched government projects that will be very hard to kill. Bush is a lame duck if he wins, but he has a willing congress as well to help him to his goals. Meaning he does not really have to worry much about getting re-elected after November (if he wins) and will proceed so long as Congress lets him.

Mr. Anderson
Jan 19, 2004, 09:15 AM
But a military moon base has absolutely no value at this point. Satellite systems are much more practical.

Light takes ~1.5 seconds to travel the distance between the Earth and Moon. So targeting radars on the Moon would get 1.5 second old information, and then have to calculate 1.5 seconds ahead to hit the very small target.

That's actually a little less than 3 seconds before you could hit the missile. These ICBMs travel at 7-8 km/sec! So you'd have to target more than 20 km ahead of where the missile is showing up on the radar!

I don't think you'd be able to do that from the moon with current tech.

D

jayscheuerle
Jan 19, 2004, 09:41 AM
Originally posted by Mr. Anderson
I don't think you'd be able to do that from the moon with current tech.


This plan isn't based on current tech. It's based on science fiction with hopes that tons of money can turn it into science fact.

Someone may want to spend 2 years of their life living in a can of stale air in order to roundtrip a planet which will have 99% of its mystery taken away by the time they get there, but I'll be taking advantage of the best planet known to man while they do. Long walks outside, skiing, climbing, hitting pubs and meeting new people, playing with my daughter, messing with the dog, making love to my wife...

It's one thing to boldly go where no man has been before, but with the probes we've sent, especially the current Spirit Rover, we've essentially been to Mars already.

I'd say, put the money into inventing flying cars or something useful like that!! :D

Mr. Anderson
Jan 19, 2004, 10:05 AM
Originally posted by jayscheuerle
I'd say, put the money into inventing flying cars or something useful like that!! :D

Single stage to orbit vehicle is what we really need. A nice cheap way to space. Everything falls into place once that's been established.

D

synergy
Jan 19, 2004, 10:16 AM
Originally posted by Mr. Anderson
Single stage to orbit vehicle is what we really need. A nice cheap way to space. Everything falls into place once that's been established.

D

That may be where X-Prize comes into play. Those guys/gals have made some interesting vehicles.

Mr. Anderson
Jan 19, 2004, 10:35 AM
Originally posted by synergy
That may be where X-Prize comes into play. Those guys/gals have made some interesting vehicles.

That's just a start, and none of them are orbital vehicles. We need to be able to get 400+ miles above the Earth in a single stage, create a working space environment, mine asteroids for water and raw materials. Relying on Earth for all the supplies makes things oh so much more expensive.

Apollo-esque programs are just throwing away money. Setting up a colony on the moon will be beneficial, but we're having a hard enough time keeping the spacestation supplied. That's where the cheap and easy space flight comes in. Take the right steps and everything is made much simpler.

D