The space shuttle / ISS

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The space shuttle / ISS

Postby Fluff » Sun Jun 10, 2007 9:28 pm UTC

They've just opened the hatch between Atlantis and the ISS now! 8)

I've been watching the mission since before the launch on Friday. I love this shit.

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shutt ... index.html

I can't believe this is not covered in the news more. In the 80s and previous decades people were actually interested in space.

What's happened? :?

Are any of you's really bothered about manned space missions? How can the general public become interested again?

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Postby bbctol » Sun Jun 10, 2007 9:31 pm UTC

This is in general, so it was brought to my attention and I watched the whole beautiful thing. Spaceships bring up that part of us that is inherently "Flash Gordon Battles the evil Alien Lords in Space! Space Cowboys exploring the final frontier! Brave Spacemen blasting off to foreign worlds!" It's cheesy, but it's so much fun.

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Postby une see » Sun Jun 10, 2007 11:07 pm UTC

bbctol wrote:This is in general, so it was brought to my attention and I watched the whole beautiful thing. Spaceships bring up that part of us that is inherently "Flash Gordon Battles the evil Alien Lords in Space! Space Cowboys exploring the final frontier! Brave Spacemen blasting off to foreign worlds!" It's cheesy, but it's so much fun.


Yes. Hell yes.

But I have to admit that the main reason I support this (completely awesome) idea is because I love Cowboy Bebop. Make it so!

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Re: The space shuttle / ISS

Postby RealGrouchy » Mon Jun 11, 2007 3:57 am UTC

Fluff wrote:What's happened? :?

One of them blew up, and now the media won't cover it until NASA tops that story.

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Re: The space shuttle / ISS

Postby Solt » Mon Jun 11, 2007 5:49 am UTC

Fluff wrote:How can the general public become interested again?



By landing a man on freaking Mars, that's how.

Man oh man I want to see a Shuttle Launch in person before they scrap 'em.
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Postby Phenriz » Mon Jun 11, 2007 3:44 pm UTC

Man, our space program has been going to such a waste for the past decade.

I went to the museum of natural science this past saturday, and saw a model of a manned pressurized moon rover, that was in many ways similar to submarine rovers with arms.

The exhibit was old, slightly dusty and it depressed me. People have become such recreants, and (as a whole)are unwilling to take risks. Do you think this attitude started with Challenger? Or do you think our willingness to push the envelope(in regards to space exploration) died when the Soviet Union called it quits?

Sure we're sending rovers to mars..... big f'ing deal!

We have the capabilities, I'd give anything to be a part of that very first team that goes to Mars.
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Postby Vaniver » Mon Jun 11, 2007 4:34 pm UTC

Are any of you's really bothered about manned space missions?
I am bothered, because it's about space instead of about science. Unmanned exploration is the way to actually learn things of value.

How can the general public become interested again?
I'm actually not sure this is a good thing. Do we want people to pretend they're Flash Gordon, or do we want to learn more about the solar system and universe? If the scientists are the only ones really interested, there's a hope of the second. If the general public has the reins, I predict the first (like is happening right now with NASA).

Sure we're sending rovers to mars..... big f'ing deal!
It's far more value per cost than a single shuttle mission.
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Postby Phenriz » Mon Jun 11, 2007 4:51 pm UTC

No doubt, i didn't say it wasn't more economical and practical.

Unmanned missions are a way to learn things of value, but not the only way. I'm of the (somewhat extravagant/overly optimistic) thought that mars can/should be colonized(in some form, i'm not talking about exposing oneself to mars's atmosphere in casual street clothes of today) in the next 1000 years. The additional living space isn't bad, and the way we curently are of "putting all our eggs in one basket" here on earth isn't exactly the safest option to ensure prolonged survival of the species.

I don't see the general public or private corporations getting a hold of the reigns for space exploration/travel/major projects, sure they may fill contract bids and machine the tools for NASA and the ESA. But the cost involved is too overwhelming currently to worry about public reign.

or were you referring to something else entirely?


-edit-
Vaniver wrote:[I am bothered, because it's about space instead of about science.


I'm not so much concerned with science for science's sake, but only where it intersects with the progress of humanity. Granted alot of science promotes human progress so this is rarely a point i bring up more-the-less squabble over. Space is important to human progress and expansion, portions of Science go hand in hand with that, i don't see the issue.
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Postby Vaniver » Mon Jun 11, 2007 5:27 pm UTC

Unmanned missions are a way to learn things of value, but not the only way.
Not the only way, sure. But more than 99% of what we know about space we've learned by looking there, or sending robots/probes to look there, instead of going there.

somewhat extravagant/overly optimistic
A bit more than somewhat :P

Space is important to human progress and expansion, portions of Science go hand in hand with that, i don't see the issue.
The primary benefit space exploration has given us is communication and observation satellites. Some of the technology developed for manned space travel has found other terrestrial uses, but it's hardly worth the cost that was paid for it.

Here's one example of the issue: the Hubble telescope. What scientists would like are disposable telescopes- throw five of them up there, and if four of them break, oh well, you still have one. Putting up five space-based telescopes is cheaper than a single shuttle flight to go up to fix a telescope. But, the public likes to see astronauts being useful and is attached to the name Hubble, so they're not particularly concerned about astronomers jockeying for telescope time.

Shuttle flights and the ISS are essentially the equivalent of scuba diving- except, instead of the divers paying for it (like the space tourists do), it's the taxpayers paying for a select few, selected by... what exactly?
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Postby mosc » Mon Jun 11, 2007 5:38 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:The primary benefit space exploration has given us is communication and observation satellites. Some of the technology developed for manned space travel has found other terrestrial uses, but it's hardly worth the cost that was paid for it.


the next time you have a serious injury, tell the doctor you think MRI machines are useless then. Superconductors are a direct result of the space industry.

So is teflon, the modern integrated circuit, most of modern ceramics, and thousands of other things.

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Postby Vaniver » Mon Jun 11, 2007 6:18 pm UTC

Superconductors are a direct result of the space industry.

So is teflon, the modern integrated circuit, most of modern ceramics, and thousands of other things.
The manned space industry, or the space industry in general?
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Postby LE4dGOLEM » Mon Jun 11, 2007 6:21 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:Shuttle flights and the ISS are essentially the equivalent of scuba diving- except, instead of the divers paying for it (like the space tourists do), it's the taxpayers paying for a select few


And it's, you know, IN SPACE.


Vaniver wrote:selected by... what exactly?


Ability, like Regular Pilots or Deep-sea submariners.

EDIT: Ability and Training.
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Postby RealGrouchy » Tue Jun 12, 2007 5:43 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:The primary benefit space exploration has given us is communication and observation satellites.

Don't forget Velcro and Tang.

I think what you're trying to get at is that the manned space program is justified by a trickle-down theory, except of science/knowledge instead of economics/money.

For all the poverty and crap that's going around in the world, the only reason I get caught up in following the space program is because of the big engines and fancy lights (and as a criminologist, the Paris Hilton thing is more what I should be looking at, ironically enough).

Think about it: this trip, they're putting up solar panels that do nothing more than power future add-ons that will be used to carry out spacey-sciencey experiments. And since power and life support are necessary components, when the budget (and the number of shuttle trips) for the ISS was scaled back, it was the scientific modules that had to be cut. The end result is that the financial-cost-to-scientific-benefit ratio is much higher than it should be.

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Postby hyperion » Tue Jun 12, 2007 10:15 am UTC

SPACE! FUCK YEAH!

I think people are too concerned about the potential risks of space exploration rather than benefits.

It's unfortunate, but society would rather know what was in a dead whore's fridge rather than what's beyond the sky.
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Postby Vaniver » Tue Jun 12, 2007 2:46 pm UTC

And it's, you know, IN SPACE.
Ok, it's darker, and costs a million times as much. I would rather they be capturing these fantastic views and putting them on the internet than paying an immense amount more to just show those fantastic views to a few people.

Think about it: this trip, they're putting up solar panels that do nothing more than power future add-ons that will be used to carry out spacey-sciencey experiments.
Here's the thing... what spacey-sciency experiments?

Every experiment I've heard of them wanting to do on the ISS is either 1) fraudulent (protein crystal growth experiments come to mind) 2) better off on its own satellite or 3) nearly worthless. (There may be valuable ones I haven't heard of, but if they were valuable, I would have imagined that they would have been touted)

You don't get scientists saying "We need an off-planet base to conduct our research!" you hear them saying "We need funding!" You hear "We need funding!" from the manned space people, but it's disguised as "They need an off-planet base to conduct their research!" We're cutting money from satellites designed to measure climate change in order to send a few men to Mars who probably won't survive the trip. This is good science? This is good government spending?
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Postby Teshi » Tue Jun 12, 2007 5:40 pm UTC

Why does it have to be give and take from one part of teh space program to another? There's plenty of money going into less worthy pursuits* that could go into the world's space programs.

* I'll live it up the reader to decide what I mean by this.

I think there is an element to the space programs of the world which has to be based not on the exact benefits of what can be carried out but just for the sake of exploration and discovery.

Yeah, that sounds corny and Star Trek-ish, but you can't eliminate that part of the world from science. I don't think it really should be repeated but I guess it's necessary once in a while: if scientists only did perfectly 'useful things' we would be going much slower.

There were practically no direct scientific benefits from going to the moon that couldn't have been done with an unmanned probe. However, the scientific effort that was expended and the discoveries and improvements that were made along the way were both exciting, meaningful and invaluable.

And dude we went to the Moon. There were skeptics about that expenditure too at the time, but I don't think anyone would go back and undo 1969.

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Postby Solt » Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:14 pm UTC

Teshi wrote:And dude we went to the Moon. There were skeptics about that expenditure too at the time, but I don't think anyone would go back and undo 1969.


Fuck yes.

Vaniver, we haven't disagreed since the topic on Israel, but I think you're wrong here. I think it's perfectly reasonable to fund something that won't necessarily have tangible benefits. Because we can.

This is bigger than developing science, technology or economic benefits. Throughout history there have been enormously important events that have picked up the world and literally moved it forward. The invention of the printing press, Columbus, the American Revolution, the Depression, World War 2, Civil Rights, Apollo, 9/11. (Granted, that's an American-centric interpretation of important world events; forgive me for not spending the time to be historically accurate just now. You get the point.) Each event has moved the world into an entirely new era. Everything from economics to technology, to the way people think, understand, and even interact changes at these moments. They redefine our priorities, our hopes, our future. Like it or not, each has been a step forward for the development of humanity.

Space exploration is a way to shift the paradigm once again. It's that simple. Without it, we stagnate. Humans are never content sitting (even relatively) still, and we never do. Always forward. Something must always occupy our attention. With stagnation- well who knows what will happen. War? The breakdown of ordered society? Those would also lead to paradigm-shifting events, but I think Space is preferable to the breakdown and reformation of society. We can concentrate on space, or we can concentrate on our differences. Either way, something will happen.

A lot of people would like to solve every last problem on earth before blowing money in space. It never works like that. If we had waited for every last society to become democratic before doing business on the free market with them? China would have even less of a chance of ever turning into a democracy. Many people would have remained in poverty and oppressed. Someone needs to lead the way by example, and the rest of the world will follow.
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Postby Vaniver » Tue Jun 12, 2007 8:11 pm UTC

Why does it have to be give and take from one part of teh space program to another?
It doesn't have to be, certainly. That's just the way it has been happening, in the U.S.

I think there is an element to the space programs of the world which has to be based not on the exact benefits of what can be carried out but just for the sake of exploration and discovery.
That's not what I'm arguing.

I'm arguing for more exploration and discovery. The way to do that is to send cheap, durable robots, not people. Space is hostile to humans in a way it can never be to lumps of metal, silicon, and other assorted materials, and an insistence on using humans drives costs up a ludicrous amount. Instead of a thousand disposable cameras and sensors, we're sending a few, indisposable (to mission planners, at least) people.

I think it's perfectly reasonable to fund something that won't necessarily have tangible benefits.
Don't get me wrong; I'm all for basic research. I just consider some fields far more valuable than others.

Space exploration is a way to shift the paradigm once again. It's that simple.
I agree in some ways and disagree in others.

Certainly, space exploration would shift the paradigm. Colonizing other planets and other stars seems like it would be the logical next step.

But, unless modern physics is totally wrong, we can't shift the paradigm enough to make it happen. No colonies in another star system would be able to communicate with Earth in a meaningful way- it would be at least a decade before their messages reached Earth, and how many bits per second can we reasonably expect between the two planets? That's not even touching on the (probably) centuries it would take to get there, or the unbelievable energy requirements. If the warp drive or the ansible happened, I'd be all for establishing our spacefaring empire. But... we have every reason to believe that they won't happen.

At the moment, manned space exploration seems like it can only be directed at more real estate (space stations or new planets) or more resources (asteroid/planet mining). For either of them, it seems like the cost of transportation utterly outweighs their return. The early visions of floating islands that could host more of humanity's millions are materializing as... a series of tubes that supports three?
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Postby Fluff » Tue Jun 12, 2007 8:26 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:I'm arguing for more exploration and discovery. The way to do that is to send cheap, durable robots, not people. Space is hostile to humans in a way it can never be to lumps of metal, silicon, and other assorted materials, and an insistence on using humans drives costs up a ludicrous amount. Instead of a thousand disposable cameras and sensors, we're sending a few, indisposable (to mission planners, at least) people.


How else would we be able to research the effects of weightlessness, radiation, and other space hostilities on humans without actually sending humans into space?



Vaniver wrote:At the moment, manned space exploration seems like it can only be directed at more real estate (space stations or new planets) or more resources (asteroid/planet mining). For either of them, it seems like the cost of transportation utterly outweighs their return. The early visions of floating islands that could host more of humanity's millions are materializing as... a series of tubes that supports three?


That's so incredibly small minded, I don't know what to say. Has it really all come to real estate, mining, and cost outweighing benefits. I guess that's how Joe Public sees it nowadays. How utterly depressing! :(
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Postby Phenriz » Tue Jun 12, 2007 8:28 pm UTC

I don't see if we do become a space-faring race that earth would have to be the "hub" of anything, once we get far enough "out there" i'm sure we'll be less dependent on Earth's resources, both of the mental and physical varieties.

Taking 10 years to get a message to earth may well be a reality, but if you're 10 years out i don't really think that earth will be the next "stop" on the Inter-Planetary Communicae Highway


@Fluff: Nah i'm sure Joe Public has a slightly more romantic point of view, Somewhat similar to myself. Then again maybe i'm not so average because i'd give just about anything for an opportunity for space travel.

I see the ISS as more than just "a series of tubes supporting 3" i see it as more of a baby step into prolonged extraterrestrial living, which is important for reasons i stated above.

Everything much start somewhere, and just because it is a hefty cost now, i don't think it will remain a hefty cost forever. I'm more than happy to see my tax dollars actually go to a program that shows some results every year.
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Postby Vaniver » Tue Jun 12, 2007 8:48 pm UTC

How else would we be able to research the effects of weightlessness, radiation, and other space hostilities on humans without actually sending humans into space?
Well, really, there aren't that many ways. But, I thought the days of Laika and stress-testing space survivability were over, so I didn't see many avenues for success there.

That's so incredibly small minded, I don't know what to say. Has it really all come to real estate, mining, and cost outweighing benefits. I guess that's how Joe Public sees it nowadays. How utterly depressing!
Keep in mind I'm *not* Joe Public. Every professor I've worked with has been related to space research in some fashion. Not coincidentally, none of them are related to manned space exploration. (My interests are in more terrestrial physics, but they may change)

I get the whole "Flash Gordon" thing (which is how Joe Public seems to think of it). I just don't think it's something we should be spending money on and calling research, instead of actual research. What's the difference between flying a person out to look at Pluto and flying a camera out to take pictures of Pluto? One is cheaper, more accurate, and you don't care when it shuts down. And it's not like the astronaut that gets to Pluto will do all that much more than a robot could- she won't be able to feel the wind in her hair or touch anything, except through a protective shell.

don't see if we do become a space-faring race that earth would have to be the "hub" of anything
It will be because the Earth had a head start.

Imagine, in 2100, we launch off a rocket with a hundred thousand colonists to go colonize Planet circling Alpha Centauri. They'll show up, being charitable, at about 2300. Assuming they manage to survive, they send a message back to Earth saying "we made it!"

Earth, meanwhie, has undergone 200 years of growth. That's like the difference between 1807 and 2007, expect that growth keeps on getting quicker, so it'll probably be several times larger. It'll have probably hit some cap on population or resources, but that'll only cap progress instead of stopping it.

And so, how will Earth look at Alpha Centauri, and how will Alpha Centauri look at Earth? It's like as if we just discovered that Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark and a handful of colonists to the South Pole and they just arrived, ready to set up the 18th state of the U.S..

And let's pretend that somehow, some magic theory gives us the warp drive, and we can colonize planets throughout the galaxy. Now our colonists land on an already populated world, their knowledge already obsolete by centuries. (This could even happen if you make a ship that can go twice as fast, and launch it before the first ship is halfway there)

Taking 10 years to get a message to earth may well be a reality, but if you're 10 years out i don't really think that earth will be the next "stop" on the Inter-Planetary Communicae Highway
So... you're assuming another planet will be closer to our first colony than Earth? Even if we find some system that has two or three habitable planets near each other, it'll be as hard to shuttle between them (both goods and information) as it is to shuttle between Mars and Earth.
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Postby Phenriz » Tue Jun 12, 2007 9:07 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:So... you're assuming another planet will be closer to our first colony than Earth? Even if we find some system that has two or three habitable planets near each other, it'll be as hard to shuttle between them (both goods and information) as it is to shuttle between Mars and Earth.


I can agree that earth will probably be "ahead" of the game. But you're seeming to think that people aboard a ship of that size won't have brilliant thinkers, or perhaps take some of Earth's great innovators with them. In example, China has been around for millenia developed gunpowder, yet they haven't been the only country who has been the foundation for new inventions. Earth's cache f natural resources does give them a significant advantage in that regard though.

Simply because earth will continue to develop doesn't mean they will do so at a faster rate than those aboard a spaceship type community. Granted they will have a different environment but one can't definitively say one way or another which will be more conducive.

As far as habitable planets, you're right, i don't think there will be any. However who's to say that relay buoys won't be developed to skirt this exact communication issue?

"On our way to Alpha Centauri I thought we may leave a satellite or ten in various area of space that could be use to help relay information back to earth much quicker than normal radio waves would be able to"

Or, who knows perhaps there could potentially be a better solution at actual space colonies than we've been able to come up with. So people could live on a floating hunk of metal orbiting a moon or something of the sort.

Again, this is all speculative but not at all impossible.
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Postby Vaniver » Tue Jun 12, 2007 9:16 pm UTC

Simply because earth will continue to develop doesn't mean they will do so at a faster rate than those aboard a spaceship type community.
There will be anywhere between nine thousand and a billion many times as people on Earth as there will be on the spaceship, and the people on the shapeship will have less time (because of relativistic effects). That strikes me as sufficient to state that Earth will advance more quickly.

However who's to say that relay buoys won't be developed to skirt this exact communication issue?

"On our way to Alpha Centauri I thought we may leave a satellite or ten in various area of space that could be use to help relay information back to earth much quicker than normal radio waves would be able to"
Relay buoys? The communication issue I'm talking about is the speed of light (and thus, radio waves). You can't have relay buoys that circumvent it, because you can't go faster than it. You'd probably have a stronger signal if you sent it through a relay, but it wouldn't be a faster signal.

Or, who knows perhaps there could potentially be a better solution at actual space colonies than we've been able to come up with. So people could live on a floating hunk of metal orbiting a moon or something of the sort.
Making a Dyson Sphere, or the non-spherical equivalent, would be the best plan for colonization. Even it probably won't be worth the investment for far too long for anyone to seriously think it was a good idea.
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Postby Phenriz » Tue Jun 12, 2007 9:26 pm UTC

How many of earth's population(as large as it is) actually do innovating things? What percentage and how rare are those people who actually bring about great changes, as opposed to all those who simply use and consume what others have put forth.

On the Buoys or Satellites, meh it's an off the head type idea, and not a very good one i'll admit.

But, hey i didn't say i'd have all the answers, and i'm slightly romantic when it comes to anything space. I just don't think that manned space exploration is as futile and wasteful as you do.
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Postby Vaniver » Tue Jun 12, 2007 9:34 pm UTC

Phenriz wrote:How many of earth's population(as large as it is) actually do innovating things? What percentage and how rare are those people who actually bring about great changes, as opposed to all those who simply use and consume what others have put forth.
Great innovators do not innovate in solitude. The age of the heroic inventor is largely being replaced by the age of the system; instead of Enrico Fermi building a nuclear reactor, you have the Manhattan Project constructing a bomb.

Regardless, if you send the creme of the crop on this spaceship, and some unrealistically small percentage of them is required to keep the thing working, for each person you'll have at least one counterpart on Earth who is as smart or smarter, and then you'll have a legion of people who can add up quite a bit altogether.

On the Buoys, meh it an off the head type idea.
I suppose it would be overly cynical and probably inaccurate of me to draw conclusions about the relationship between knowledge of how space travel would actually have to work and enthusiasm towards space travel.
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Postby NathanielK » Tue Jun 12, 2007 10:27 pm UTC

I'm with Phenriz; sending people to space is important. This is not because it's better for research purposes--if your only purpose is collecting scientific data, you're better off with unmanned probes. It's important because we need to have a self-sustaining colony off Earth before the next dinosaur-killer hits. Or a nuclear war starts. Or someone accidentally releases grey goo. Or manufactures a mini black hole, and drops it. Etc, etc, etc. As anyone who has spent much time with computers should know, if it's important, make a backup.
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Solt
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Postby Solt » Tue Jun 12, 2007 11:48 pm UTC

For now, all I will say is the following:

If we were to excavate any one of the larger asteroids, we'd have several times more living space than on the entire surface of the earth.
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Postby Vaniver » Wed Jun 13, 2007 1:29 am UTC

It's important because we need to have a self-sustaining colony off Earth before the next dinosaur-killer hits.
For everyone who thinks that global warming and climate change might kill off humanity, keep in mind that funds are being diverted from systems that monitor climate change to fund a base on the moon and sending a ship to Mars. Could both be funded? Sure. But not while Congress and the President get to pretend that they're supporting space science by sending humans into space.

As for the chances of a self-sustaining colony on either- a base on the moon might be feasible, but it'll be decades before it'll support even a dozen people, and it strikes me as being exponentially more fragile than the Earth. As for a self-sustaining colony on Mars? The radiation on the trip there will sterilize anyone who makes it, and might cause a significant amount of cancer or mutation even with shielding. I believe (but could be mistaken) that Mars doesn't have the same protection from radiation that the Earth naturally does, and so any colony there will have significant problems from that.

As anyone who has spent much time with computers should know, if it's important, make a backup.
As anyone who has spent much time with antiques should know, if it's irreplaceable, protect it.

See also: Why go?
500 years ago is off. It's more like "hmm, trust the man with the flawed math, or trust the men with the right math? What the hell, let's gamble!"

If we were to excavate any one of the larger asteroids, we'd have several times more living space than on the entire surface of the earth.
Is that the space required to support a person (food, power generation, etc.) or just the space required to house a person?
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Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jun 13, 2007 2:43 am UTC

NathanielK wrote:It's important because we need to have a self-sustaining colony off Earth before the next dinosaur-killer hits.


I thinnk it's Larry Niven who pointed out that the reason there are no dinosaurs today is because they didn't have a space program.

Yes, it will be very expensive and risky. But considering that the probability is effectively 1 for a future impact from something really big and heavy, might, you know, survival of the species (without which there can be no survival of your own genes or ideas) be worth some risk and expense?

Also, there's the fact that resources for any kind of scientific research (including unmanned space exploration) has to come from somewhere. Which means they can't go to pay for something else. We may not want uneducated laypeople directly in charge of NASA, but the fact remains that the general public will always have some impact on how much research can get done. If 99% of the population really doesn't give a fuck, how much research gets done? If, on the other hand, some glitzy manned missions mean only 90% don't care, that's a tenfold increase in interest in science. I think just the potential benefits of that upped enthusiasm more than balance the costs, even if you ignore the need to stop stagnating on this rock, waiting with our thumbs up our asses to get hit by another big rock.
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Postby Phenriz » Wed Jun 13, 2007 2:46 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:But considering that the probability is effectively 1 for a future impact from something really big and heavy, might, you know, survival of the species (without which there can be no survival of your own genes or ideas) be worth some risk and expense?


as far as i'm concerned, i think it's worth the risk, and much expense.
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Postby NathanielK » Wed Jun 13, 2007 3:23 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:For everyone who thinks that global warming and climate change might kill off humanity
Global warming is not going to kill off humanity, like the things I mentioned would. I mean, it wouldn't be pleasant, and it certainly wouldn't be cheap, but it probably wouldn't even be the end of civilization, much less humanity.
Edit: Nuclear war might not kill off humanity either, but a nuclear winter would probably mean the end of civilization. My other examples would still kill us all.

Vaniver wrote:As for the chances of a self-sustaining colony on either- a base on the moon might be feasible, but it'll be decades before it'll support even a dozen people, and it strikes me as being exponentially more fragile than the Earth.
"It'll take a long time" is a good reason not to start?

Vaniver wrote:As for a self-sustaining colony on Mars? The radiation on the trip there will sterilize anyone who makes it, and might cause a significant amount of cancer or mutation even with shielding. I believe (but could be mistaken) that Mars doesn't have the same protection from radiation that the Earth naturally does, and so any colony there will have significant problems from that.
An adequately-shielded spacecraft would be expensive, but not impossible. Lead underwear, perhaps? A colony, whether on Luna, Mars, or an asteroid, would probably be underground in order to use a couple meters of rock as shielding. I haven't looked up numbers for any of this recently, but I remember radiation being a serious, but not insurmountable problem.

Vaniver wrote:
As anyone who has spent much time with computers should know, if it's important, make a backup.
As anyone who has spent much time with antiques should know, if it's irreplaceable, protect it.
We are making some progress towards protecting ourselves against an asteroid, but protecting against a comet is much harder (less predictable, faster-moving, not solid enough to really push against). And, frankly, we'll probably never be able to protect against ourselves.

Vaniver wrote:
See also: Why go?
500 years ago is off. It's more like "hmm, trust the man with the flawed math, or trust the men with the right math? What the hell, let's gamble!"
It's a comic strip, not a research paper. I'm sorry, Diety forbid we round 514 off to 500. Besides, if I remember my high school science classes correctly, the number 500 without a decimal point only has one significant digit, to which precision the figure is perfectly correct.

Vaniver wrote:
If we were to excavate any one of the larger asteroids, we'd have several times more living space than on the entire surface of the earth.
Is that the space required to support a person (food, power generation, etc.) or just the space required to house a person?
If I remember correctly, this is basically a computation of the floorspace of an office building the size of an asteroid, which comes out to a figure larger than the land area of Earth. Of course, you don't get any significant gravity, and you need one hell of an air-conditioning system.
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Postby Narsil » Wed Jun 13, 2007 3:23 am UTC

I think we're all expecting something bigger from NASA.
I mean, damn, we landed on the moon 40 years ago. That was a big deal. We haven't done anything near that cool since then.

Also, the stuff we can see in the universe is much cooler than what we can actually visit.
Like Europa. Call me when they get there.
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Postby The LuigiManiac » Wed Jun 13, 2007 5:30 am UTC

The question is, will you be around to call? For instance, in my LAST ASSIGNMENT OF MY SCHOOL YEAR (WOOOOOO!) I must design a spacecraft that will travel in space until it finds a colonizable planet. It will probably take generations for them to find a habitable planet, and the ship has to be designed with this in mind. Oh, and did I mention it has to be plausible?

I mean, this is Science we're talking about here, not Science Fiction!

No, I don't want help (I've been stuck on it, and the sooner I get it done the sooner I start Summer, so I'm just going to throw the plausibility out the window tomorrow and get it done) I just needed to rant again. Sorry, I get like that sometimes.

Anyways, we lost interest in space exploration when we stopped doing cool things (cool in comparison to the moon landing), and realized it might be a long time before we do anything nearly as cool as the moon landing.
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Postby Vaniver » Wed Jun 13, 2007 4:00 pm UTC

"It'll take a long time" is a good reason not to start?
Well, sort of. My point is more that humans are essentially evolved to live on Earth, and the time and expense involved in changing another region and humans enough that the humans can live on that region strikes me as a non-starter. If it's something that *has* to happen, then starting it soon wouldn't be a bad idea (but whether to start it now or soon is up for grabs), but I remain unconvinced that we *have* to have a second colony somewhere.

It's a comic strip, not a research paper. I'm sorry, Diety forbid we round 514 off to 500. Besides, if I remember my high school science classes correctly, the number 500 without a decimal point only has one significant digit, to which precision the figure is perfectly correct.
That wasn't my point; my point was that the question wasn't "Why go?" it was "Why fund a suicide mission?"

If I remember correctly, this is basically a computation of the floorspace of an office building the size of an asteroid, which comes out to a figure larger than the land area of Earth. Of course, you don't get any significant gravity, and you need one hell of an air-conditioning system.
I don't think more than about 100 people produce enough value to justify flying their food from Earth to an asteroid, and the amount of value they produce would drop significantly if they had that much of a time lag for communications.

As for billions of people?
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Postby NathanielK » Wed Jun 13, 2007 8:21 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:I remain unconvinced that we *have* to have a second colony somewhere.
We differ here. I feel very strongly that I want the human race to survive indefinitely, and this seems the only reliable way to go about it. If we had colonies on other planets, I would be pushing for interstellar colonies, for similar reasons. First things first, however.

Vaniver wrote:My point was that the question wasn't "Why go?" it was "Why fund a suicide mission?"
Dangerous is fine, but if it's a suicide mission, you're doing it wrong.

Vaniver wrote:I don't think more than about 100 people produce enough value to justify flying their food from Earth to an asteroid, and the amount of value they produce would drop significantly if they had that much of a time lag for communications.

As for billions of people?
The object is a self-sustaining colony; if it can't survive without flying food in from Earth, it's not much of a backup. The main point of building a dependent colony would be to practice for making an independent one.
I don't see why value would drop with time lag. Anyways, there might be situations where a dependent colony could be profitable, but I suspect that using automation instead would be more profitable. Also, it's probably too easy for an independent colony to declare independence to be able to reliably collect much profit from them. Colonies would therefore be set up primarily for ideological reasons.
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Postby Vaniver » Wed Jun 13, 2007 8:36 pm UTC

We differ here. I feel very strongly that I want the human race to survive indefinitely, and this seems the only reliable way to go about it. If we had colonies on other planets, I would be pushing for interstellar colonies, for similar reasons. First things first, however.
I am of the opinion that the Earth is spectacularly hospitable towards life, and that the number of systems required to replicate Earth-like conditions elsewhere provide enough chance for failure that one is better off being on Earth and dealing with the chance of an asteroid than one is being on a colony and dealing with the chance of a systems failure, and so that makes me reluctant to agree with your claim that an offworld colony is the only reliable way to ensure survival.

Dangerous is fine, but if it's a suicide mission, you're doing it wrong.
You need to brush up on your history of Columbus's expedition. I felt the comic portrayed it poorly, and that's why I complained.

The object is a self-sustaining colony; if it can't survive without flying food in from Earth, it's not much of a backup.
If it needs to produce its own food and generate its own energy (really, the same thing), then it is limited by either its uranium composition, its area (for cropland/solar panels), or (assuming we can get fusion to work) the amount of hydrogen there. Fuel can be imported from Earth, but if it's one of the limiting factors for growth on Earth, then we don't gain much by moving it across the solar system. The fact that it can be hollowed out into a gigantic number of rooms does little if we can't use those rooms.

I don't see why value would drop with time lag.
It makes it impossible to carry on a conversation, and email delivery takes something on the order of hours instead of seconds. The majority of the people worth that much money are people who run businesses or come up with creative ideas; both of those require frequent interaction with others. Those interactions only suffer if a delay is added.

Seeing the vast benefits that near-instantaneous communication has had on Earth, I feel reluctant to break the human population into two fragments which cannot communicate with each other at that speed, especially since that's shrinking the developed population of the world, just for the point of redundancy.
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Postby NathanielK » Thu Jun 14, 2007 7:34 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:I am of the opinion that the Earth is spectacularly hospitable towards life, and that the number of systems required to replicate Earth-like conditions elsewhere provide enough chance for failure that one is better off being on Earth and dealing with the chance of an asteroid than one is being on a colony and dealing with the chance of a systems failure, and so that makes me reluctant to agree with your claim that an offworld colony is the only reliable way to ensure survival.
If we don't kill ourselves some other way first, an asteroid collision is not a "chance", it's a virtual inevitability.

Vaniver wrote:
Dangerous is fine, but if it's a suicide mission, you're doing it wrong.
You need to brush up on your history of Columbus's expedition. I felt the comic portrayed it poorly, and that's why I complained.
Oh, you meant Columbus. Yeah, I agree that's not the best example. At the time, I would have argued against funding him. "If the nutball wants to get himself killed on an expedition to nowhere, let him pay for it himself." I feel the comic is, nevertheless, a good illustration of my point of view, if not much of an argument in and of itself.

Vaniver wrote:
The object is a self-sustaining colony; if it can't survive without flying food in from Earth, it's not much of a backup.
If it needs to produce its own food and generate its own energy (really, the same thing), then it is limited by either its uranium composition, its area (for cropland/solar panels), or (assuming we can get fusion to work) the amount of hydrogen there. Fuel can be imported from Earth, but if it's one of the limiting factors for growth on Earth, then we don't gain much by moving it across the solar system. The fact that it can be hollowed out into a gigantic number of rooms does little if we can't use those rooms.
The point is, lack of space is not an issue. Also, solar power is not really limited by area. There are cheap ways of making large mirrors in space; this effectively increases your area.

Vaniver wrote:
I don't see why value would drop with time lag.
It makes it impossible to carry on a conversation, and email delivery takes something on the order of hours instead of seconds. The majority of the people worth that much money are people who run businesses or come up with creative ideas; both of those require frequent interaction with others. Those interactions only suffer if a delay is added.
I'm not sure what you mean, "people worth that much money". Anyways, I don't think a couple hours lag would really be that much of a problem. Obviously, people on Earth wouldn't be able to micromanage people on the colony or vice-versa, but this is probably not a good idea anyhow. I suppose if it turns out to be a huge problem, you could always move your asteroid to L5, which is only about a second away--this might be a bit of a project, though.

Vaniver wrote:Seeing the vast benefits that near-instantaneous communication has had on Earth, I feel reluctant to break the human population into two fragments which cannot communicate with each other at that speed, especially since that's shrinking the developed population of the world, just for the point of redundancy.
Shrinking the developed population of the world?! Because, really, underpopulation is a serious problem. And shipping a hundred, or even a thousand people off-world will cause serious problems. </sarcasm> We lost 3,000 people on 9/11, and they didn't just move too far away to talk to easily. Setting up a colony is not going to cause a manpower shortage at home.
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Postby Vaniver » Thu Jun 14, 2007 8:10 pm UTC

If we don't kill ourselves some other way first, an asteroid collision is not a "chance", it's a virtual inevitability.
So is the sun engulfing the Earth. When matters.

I'm not sure what you mean, "people worth that much money".
Here's Bob. Bob lives on the moon. How much does it cost to move a kilogram of food from a farm on Earth to Bob's table?

If Bob doesn't make that much money a day (assuming he eats about a kilogram a day), Bob's going to starve. If Bob *does* make that much money a day, odds are Bob won't be able to do his job if he lives on the moon.

Shrinking the developed population of the world?! Because, really, underpopulation is a serious problem. And shipping a hundred, or even a thousand people off-world will cause serious problems. </sarcasm> We lost 3,000 people on 9/11, and they didn't just move too far away to talk to easily. Setting up a colony is not going to cause a manpower shortage at home.
Certainly, a thousand people won't hurt. I was imaginging a colony that would be larger than a small town (especially since it's purpose is to be a backup for humanity).


Anyway, back to the ISS, how about those computer systems?
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Postby Bondolon » Thu Jun 14, 2007 10:09 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:Certainly, a thousand people won't hurt. I was imaginging a colony that would be larger than a small town (especially since it's purpose is to be a backup for humanity).


I think the presumption is that seeding a world initially with millions of people would be pointless, given manpower limitations and the fact that people do breed. If you start with a small infrastructure, it can be scaled. That's much easier than trying to organize such a large infrastructure as a "final" populated world would require. By final, I mean millions instead of thousands, of course.

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Postby NathanielK » Thu Jun 14, 2007 10:25 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
If we don't kill ourselves some other way first, an asteroid collision is not a "chance", it's a virtual inevitability.
So is the sun engulfing the Earth. When matters.
The sun engulfing the earth won't happen for several billion years. The earth getting hit by a comet could happen within the next decade, if we're unlucky.

Vaniver wrote:Here's Bob. Bob lives on the moon. How much does it cost to move a kilogram of food from a farm on Earth to Bob's table?
Again, this is a self-sufficient colony. It grows its own food. Bob is probably a hydroponic farmer, or a space construction engineer, or something.

Vaniver wrote:Certainly, a thousand people won't hurt. I was imagining a colony that would be larger than a small town (especially since it's purpose is to be a backup for humanity).
You don't start a colony by shipping in a million people. You start the colony off small, and give it room to grow. Humans have this tendency to reproduce, you see.
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