View Poll Results: What's next for the United States?

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  • More rigorous and extensive manned exploration of moon.

    20 52.63%
  • Permanent lunar colonies

    17 44.74%
  • Construction of "O'Neill" habitats.

    6 15.79%
  • Mars exploration with goal of colonization.

    21 55.26%
  • Asteroidal/comet exploitation?

    11 28.95%
  • Other

    10 26.32%
  • Nothing. Abandon space to the robots.

    7 18.42%
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Thread: Space Goals For America: What Next?

  1. #31
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    Re: Space Goals For America: What Next?

    Quote Originally Posted by rathi View Post
    Solar panels are immensely more effective is space, and would be more than capable of generating enough energy.
    Once you get into space. But the energy necessary for propulsion is going to be great. Just because you're in space doesn't mean inertia no longer exists or that physics shuts off. You're sending massive objects ridiculous distances, especially if we're talking about the asteroid belt. The length and time scales are large, the technological feats needed to be surmounted are vast. The money and investment is astronomical. Solar panels may be more "effective" in space (nothing can overcome the actual limitations to the device, it's not 100% effective, and even on earth we're coming close as is to that limit...so once that limit is reached on earth, no it's not more effective in space), but the energy demands for propulsion on any reasonable time scale is going to be immense. And you're going to have to rely at least in part on some form of rocket propulsion, which means **** from Earth.

    Quote Originally Posted by rathi View Post
    As opposed to building a robot that can drive around on mars? Robotics is one of the fasting progressing technologies we have. Its an unknown to be sure, but sayings its impossible has no basis.
    There is HUGE difference between a robot meant to run around on the planets surface and one which is designed for continued industrial mining. I didn't say impossible, I said the necessary parts to making something like that are outrageous and at this time it's nothing more than fancy. It'll take major advancements before we can even consider seriously talking about the possibility of robotic space mining.

    Quote Originally Posted by rathi View Post
    Why not? Mining is being able to separate the stuff you want from the stuff you don't. Telling a robot to collect chunks of asteroid with say a high platinum density isn't unrealistic.
    You're talking about a technological feat which is currently well out of hand. And you are talking of economic and political forces at work too. How much money is it going to take to start? How much money is it going to take to maintain? How much money will you make from the process? You may find the cost well outweighs the gains in this case.

    Quote Originally Posted by rathi View Post
    None of those are insurmountable problems. They are well known issues we have dealt with for years.
    Not on the scale necessary for industrial space mining, not by a long shot. Completely different ball park...hell completely different game. We have not dealt with these problems for years.

    Quote Originally Posted by rathi View Post
    The nice thing about the asteroids is that they are already out of our gravity well. It takes zero energy to send mined materials back down.
    No it doesn't. First of all, all that crap doesn't poof into the asteroid belt, you have to ship it from Earth first. Which means, the costs involve include sending crap there; we'll always in some part have to overcome our gravity well before we do anything. Even with colonies and space ports on the moon (jesus...what sort of time scale would that even take), you have to get things there to start with. And once you're there, it doesn't take zero energy to send stuff back. You have to transport vast masses of rock back from beyond Mars to the Earth with accurate enough control to not hit the plethora of other crap we'd be bound to have out there by that point. That's going to take energy to propel the ship back. Zero energy....only if you're looking to crash the **** into Earth. Otherwise, you have to put in energy for a controlled environment.

    I think people fantasize about this stuff, and it seems really cool. But no one actually has put thought into what it would actually take and what you'd actually get out of it.
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  2. #32
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    Re: Space Goals For America: What Next?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scarecrow Akhbar View Post
    yes, as I've said many times, socialism sucks. If it weren't for socialism, the US wouldn't have sunk ten trillion dollars into welfare programs between 1965 and 2005, and we would have had that money to do useful things with. We wouldn't have had to throw away our ELV fleet for something as useless as the shuttle, for example. We could be exploiting lunar resources right now, including those almost impossible to find on earth, like cheap vacuum and He3.
    Let's assume that everything you say there is true. The reality is that we won't have our own launch vehicle for the next five years. Do you still support the right of nations to claim territory in space?

  3. #33
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    Re: Space Goals For America: What Next?

    Quote Originally Posted by rathi View Post
    That was my bad, there are two designations for space programs called Orion. One is a space shuttle replacement you mentioned, the other is space-propulsion system that uses nuclear bombs as fuel with impressive theoretical performance. Still, the program is far less cost effective that white knight. Using rockets to get into the stratosphere rather than wings and jet engines is far less efficient and more expensive.
    I don't recall mentioning a replacement for the shuttle. When I say "Orion", I am referring to the 1950's concept of nuclear propulsion by intermittent high energy thrust devices.

    Quote Originally Posted by rathi View Post
    Except when your astronaut dies because of radiation problems.
    Yes, high-energy ionizing radiation presents no problems to today's high performance electronics.

    Quote Originally Posted by rathi View Post
    A specialized mining robot its meant to be versatile.
    No.

    You just said specialized. "Specialized" means "focused on a specialty", which is the antithesis of versatility, which means being able to excel at a multitude of diverse tasks.

    Outside of one girl having problems with an open manhole in New York, even the most ignorant of the Valley Girl types and walk and text message at the same time, while chewing gum. Imagine what an elite astronaut can do?

    Quote Originally Posted by rathi View Post
    Furthermore, humans still have remote control over the robot. Ideally, the system would work on its own autonomous functions with a human monitoring. Anything strange happens that the robot can't handle, and the human can take over.
    Study the concept of simultaneity, okay? In particular, how the speed of light affects our knowledge of distant events, like when the Huygens probe was launched, and no one noticed that the super-stable oscillator wasn't turned on until after the probe had touched down, because that's how long it took for the signal to get here.

    Quote Originally Posted by rathi View Post
    Sure, but why risk human lives if you don't have to?
    Because you need the men to be on the spot close enough to the remote tools to be efficacious. No one's arguing against using tools correctly, merely pointing out the limitations of those tools.

    You have to have the man close enough to the 'bot to give timely instructions.

    You have to have the man on hand to rescue the 'bot or get the job done when the 'bot fails. It all depends on the complexity and importance of the mission, of course. But if we never put men in space, we'll never overcome the limits truly remote 'bot ops imposes on our abilities.


    Quote Originally Posted by rathi View Post
    Because America has to win at everything forever or you won't be able to sleep at night.
    Because America is the first nation in the entire history of the world to have the power to dominate the rest and declined to use it to that effect. Why on earth would I trust any other nation, knowing their histories, with the military high-ground the solar system represents?

    Quote Originally Posted by rathi View Post
    Fact is, the way to "win" is not be the person wasting pointless resources.
    Exactly.

    End welfare now. End pointless farm subsidies. End pointless subsidies for the arts, for music, for the humanities, and non-defense research, including the cannibalization of babies for unprofitable medical experimentation.

    Put the government back on it's constitutional feet, and recognize the economic and miltary advantages that come from space exploration for ourselves.


    Quote Originally Posted by rathi View Post
    America managed to win WW1 and WW2 because we were the last ones in the war and didn't destroy our country in the process.
    Right.

    The best way to be the last ones in a war is to be so big that no one wants to fight you.

    That means having one hell of a military force on the moon. This would include not only fair size nuclear arsenal and electric launcher (no IR signature to track from satellites), but laser and particle beam weapons that can fry enemy C3I orbital assets. Moon based equipment can have the mass and power that precludes their effective deployment in LEO.

  4. #34
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    Re: Space Goals For America: What Next?

    And you're going to have to rely at least in part on some form of rocket propulsion, which means **** from Earth.
    Why would you rely on rocket propulsion? The most cost effective would be to use a solar powered linear motor relying on unwanted asteroid material for fuel. Rocket fuel is expensive and has crappy delta V.

    It'll take major advancements before we can even consider seriously talking about the possibility of robotic space mining.
    What major advancements are needed? Robots have the capability to analyze materials for the needed elements, and than break off the desired portions. Sure it has to be engineered like anything else, but no reason why it can't be done.

    You're talking about a technological feat which is currently well out of hand. And you are talking of economic and political forces at work too. How much money is it going to take to start? How much money is it going to take to maintain? How much money will you make from the process? You may find the cost well outweighs the gains in this case.
    I don't, but on the other hand neither do you. Like any project, you have to do cost benefit analysis. You have to calculate the cost of the robot, maintaining it, fuel costs vs the amount of material that can be gathered from asteroids and the value of what is gathered. However, to calculate that, you need data in the first place. You need to survey the asteroids and have a prototype to cost evaluate. Sure it might end up being too expensive, but we aren't even there yet.

    The model-t may have failed to replace the horse, but you couldn't find out until you built it in the first place. I can't promise that asteroid mining will be lucrative, but it is promising enough to go far enough to figure out if it is.

  5. #35
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    Re: Space Goals For America: What Next?

    Nobody is intrested in discussing scramjets, the Delta Clipper concept, metahelium-64 propulsion, or skyhooks? Gosh, that's disappointing.

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  6. #36
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    Re: Space Goals For America: What Next?

    There are three issues that need research(and I know they are currently being researched). The rigors of manned spaceflight, the ability to logistically exploit alien surfaces/atmospheres for our use, and further development in instruments dealing with research.

    1. The rigors of manned spaceflight are many, and well documented. We can get to the moon relatively easy, anything beyond that and physical deterioration sets it. Factor in the length of time it takes to get anywhere else besides our moon, it doesn't make much logisitical sense to send people at this time.

    2. Wherever we go to colonize, we need to have equipment developed to exploit the resources available, to our advantage. The logistics of shipping crap back and forth from earth is too expensive. We have to figure out how to make due with what is there. The moon, being devoid of many resources and being close, is a great place to start. If we can "practice" there and refine our techniques and instruments close to home, it will be beneficial to future missions where there might be a more abundant amount of resources to take advantage of. Of course, we will have to put up with the protestations of the "Red Peace" whackos whenever we decide to exploit Mars.

    3. Further instrument development will give us a better idea of how to exploit resources and lead to new discoveries that could be beneficial in helping us understand how our solar system and universe is shaped.
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  7. #37
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    Re: Space Goals For America: What Next?

    I don't recall mentioning a replacement for the shuttle. When I say "Orion", I am referring to the 1950's concept of nuclear propulsion by intermittent high energy thrust devices.
    Here are both the space programs named "Orion"

    This one involves setting off nukes for propulsion. It has impressive space travel capability, but cannot be used to exit the atmosphere.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project...ear_propulsion)

    This one in the conventional space shuttle requirement. Although feasible, it lacks the economic efficiency of using jet engines for most of the travel.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orion_(spacecraft)

    Yes, high-energy ionizing radiation presents no problems to today's high performance electronics.
    No, but you can shield a small number of electronics far more practically than the space you need for a human being. Plus you can use more robust if less powerful electronics if you want.

    You just said specialized. "Specialized" means "focused on a specialty", which is the antithesis of versatility, which means being able to excel at a multitude of diverse tasks.
    I typo on my part, I meant to say "Isn't".

    Outside of one girl having problems with an open manhole in New York, even the most ignorant of the Valley Girl types and walk and text message at the same time, while chewing gum. Imagine what an elite astronaut can do?
    Imagine how much education and training an astronaut needs. Imagine how much oxygen is used, how much water is drunk and how much food is eaten. Imagine how much space they need, imagine their muscles deteriorating, and the psychological problems from being in space too long.

    Study the concept of simultaneity, okay? In particular, how the speed of light affects our knowledge of distant events, like when the Huygens probe was launched, and no one noticed that the super-stable oscillator wasn't turned on until after the probe had touched down, because that's how long it took for the signal to get here.
    Its a problem yes, but not insurmountable. We drove a rover around on mars, on the very complex martian surface. Space is much simpler by comparison.

    You have to have the man close enough to the 'bot to give timely instructions.
    No you don't. Pretty much every spacecraft that ever exited orbit except for the moonlandings were not manned.

    You have to have the man on hand to rescue the 'bot or get the job done when the 'bot fails. It all depends on the complexity and importance of the mission, of course. But if we never put men in space, we'll never overcome the limits truly remote 'bot ops imposes on our abilities.
    Overcoming the problems of robots using technology is practical, look at how far robotics has come. Explain how we are going to fix humans
    needing to breathe, eat, sleep and drink.

    Because America is the first nation in the entire history of the world to have the power to dominate the rest and declined to use it to that effect. Why on earth would I trust any other nation, knowing their histories, with the military high-ground the solar system represents?
    There is zero advantage to controlling the moon. You have an absurd logistics trail that puts you millions of miles away from anything useful, and no beneficial capabilities. How would being on the moon give any kind of useful military advantage?

    That means having one hell of a military force on the moon. This would include not only fair size nuclear arsenal and electric launcher (no IR signature to track from satellites), but laser and particle beam weapons that can fry enemy C3I orbital assets. Moon based equipment can have the mass and power that precludes their effective deployment in LEO.
    Why not just base it on earth? Getting it into the atmosphere is tough, but not nearly as tough as trying to maintain a functioning military outpost on the moon.

  8. #38
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    Re: Space Goals For America: What Next?

    Quote Originally Posted by Goshin View Post
    Nobody is intrested in discussing scramjets, the Delta Clipper concept, metahelium-64 propulsion, or skyhooks? Gosh, that's disappointing.
    Because a space elevator is a better idea. You build it once and essentially you're done. The cost per ton to get into space with a space elevator is exceptionally low. And it would be much more efficient to build spaceships in space.
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  9. #39
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    Re: Space Goals For America: What Next?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    There is nothing that human astronauts can do on other worlds, which robots can't do more efficiently, cheaply, easily, and safely.
    So if Earth becomes uninhabitable, there is no need for us to research and move to other planets, because the robots can do it more efficiently, cheaply, easily, and safely.

    There is no need we need to send humans to other worlds right NOW, when we have pressing concerns here at home.
    I agree, but there are many who are saying we should back off for a while. I say not entirely, I say continue the research and then boost after we have solved some of our problems here.


  10. #40
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    Re: Space Goals For America: What Next?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scarecrow Akhbar View Post
    And that close to home, and still the damned machines couldn't do their job until a human came along to fix their little tin guts.
    There is a subtle difference between sending a human 300 miles into space to fix a telescope, and sending a human (at minimum) 225,000 miles to the moon or (at minimum) 34 million miles to Mars.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scarecrow Akhbar
    Right. Develop your arguments about capabilities tomorrow with expostulations about what we can't do today.
    If I understand you correctly, you aren't talking about which of those projects might be important in the distant future. You're talking about which ones we should focus on right now. Therefore it is perfectly legitimate to question the technological/economic feasibility of these projects with present-day or short-term future technology.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scarecrow Akhbar
    What a human has that no current feasible extrapolation of robot can provide is creativity.
    And what makes you think that the benefit of "creativity" is outweighed by the huge costs associated with keeping astronauts alive in space and on other worlds for months/years at a time (depending on where they're going), and the cost of the return trip...to say nothing of the physical danger to the astronauts?

    Please give me an example of a scenario where an astronaut might use his creativity on another world to solve a problem where a robot could not, and where it would be cheaper/safer to do this than to design another replacement robot to account for whatever unforeseen problem foiled the previous one. I really can't think of any.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 07-21-09 at 12:01 AM.
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