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Age of discovery

  1. Dec 21, 2007 #1

    wolram

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    It is all but gone, economies will not fund space probes any more, we have cocked up, missed our chance, instead of discovery we have wasted our money on other things, think i am wrong? we shall see, but i predict that any space mission will be a piddling effort in the future.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 21, 2007 #2

    EnumaElish

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    The U.S. has a long-term plan for a lunar base (announced by Mr. President himself, just a few months ago) and an active manless (robot) exploration program. I think Europe & Japan as well as some other nations will come to play an increasingly important role over time.

    The latest Mars exploration with the two probes has been a phenomenal success and even surprised its designers. It would be a shame not to build on this experience.
     
  4. Dec 21, 2007 #3

    Astronuc

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    Well - there are still missions planned and proposed.

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/GLAST/main/index.html

    Phoenix is scheduled to land on Mars in ~156 days.
    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/phoenix/main/

    See - http://www.nasa.gov/missions/index.html - for missions index.


    ESA's Current and Future Mission Index
    http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Operations/SEMQH1LKKSE_0.html

    JAXA Mission Index - http://www.jaxa.jp/projects/index_e.html


    Of course, one is correct that the priorities seem to be elsewhere.
     
  5. Dec 21, 2007 #4

    morphism

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    Yup. Notice how telecommunication and the like have improved over the past 20-30 years!
     
  6. Dec 21, 2007 #5

    Astronuc

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    Electronics! Stuff and more stuff!

    As for other priorities, I was thinking mostly about the various wars going on the $billions spent on those - ~ $200 billion/yr on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the several $100 billions on the US defense budget.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2007
  7. Dec 21, 2007 #6

    wolram

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    And we could have discovered so much more with this money, but alas it has gone, the pot is nearly empty, de evolution will be the norm.
     
  8. Dec 23, 2007 #7

    Evo

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    This is an oldie, but goodie.

    NASA Announces Plan To Launch $700 Million Into Space
    May 3, 2006 | Issue 42•18

    CAPE CANAVERAL, FL—Officials at the Kennedy Space Center announced Tuesday that they have set Aug. 6 as the date for launching $700 million from the Denarius IV spacecraft, the largest and most expensive mission to date in NASA's unmanned monetary-ejection program.

    "This is an exciting opportunity to study the effect of a hard-vacuum, zero-gravity environment on $50 and $100 bills," said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, who noted that prior Project Denarius missions only studied space's effect on fives and singles. "Whether the money is immediately incinerated because of hard radiation, or freezes in the near-absolute-zero temperature and shatters into infinitesimal pieces, or drifts aimlessly through the cosmos before being sucked through a black hole into another dimension, it will provide crucial information for our next series of launches, which will consist of even greater sums of money, in larger denominations."

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/47977
     
  9. Dec 23, 2007 #8

    wolram

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    Ouch, that wright up must have made some ones eyes water.
     
  10. Dec 23, 2007 #9

    FredGarvin

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    Honestly Woolie, I think that we will wake up and things will be different when China gets their space program in high gear. We need to have another space race like in the '60's. We are not a forward thinking/planning society. We are completely reactionary. That is why we need someone like China to give us a swift kick in the butt to get us going again.
     
  11. Dec 23, 2007 #10

    wolram

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    I think the west would loose any race with China, China constantly finishes mammoth tasks ahead of schedule an on budget, while we in the west throw money at projects , they throw in man hours.
     
  12. Dec 23, 2007 #11
    I don't think that the future is as bleak as you make it out to be.

    SpaceX is scheduled to launch their third Falcon I rocket in the first quarter of 2008, along with a Malaysian satellite on a separate flight in the first quarter. There are also scheduling flights of their larger rocket, the Falcon 9:

    http://www.spacex.com/launch_manifest.php

    Their whole business plan revolves around being able to launch everything at a quarter of the price of current launch systems.

    In fact, Bigelow Aerospace is planning on launching a full scale inflatable space station in 2010, that you can actually buy timeslots on! They have already successfully launched two mock-up space stations that performed very well:

    http://www.bigelowaerospace.com/genesis_II/

    Not to mention the efforts by The Spaceship Company, which is a union between Virgin and Scaled Composites, where you can get a ticket on a suborbital flight.


    Certainly, there is a lull in government space programs, especially since the Apollo and Voyager missions, but the private sector is looking to put space travel into a new arena
    that was not foreseen and thought of as impossible to do only a few decades before.

    It's not going to look the same, from here on out.
     
  13. Dec 23, 2007 #12

    Evo

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    But this is just what, launching satellites, shutteling stuff to the space station and taking pictures? Maybe novel playtime for the rich?

    I don't see private companies investing in deep space exploration for scientific purposes.
     
  14. Dec 23, 2007 #13
    Yeah, I mean researching our solar system is great and all, but look at all the money that could be going towards things like cancer, aids, climate change and global warming research.
     
  15. Dec 23, 2007 #14

    wolram

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    If i hear another word about GW, i will start feeding the cows baked beans.
     
  16. Dec 26, 2007 #15
    Well, no, right now it's too expensive to do such things. But launching anything at 1/4 of the price that it currently takes is a great step towards space technology by any rubric.

    The biggest thing still keeping space technology from being more affordable is the launch cost related to chemical rocket engines. That, and the transit time. Even the most advanced rocket technology for deep space is ion/plasma propulsion if I remember correctly, and such forms of propulsion have minuscule accelerations associated with them.

    If enough people get over the fear of using nuclear technology in space, things will start looking even more different. There is simply no substitute for high-power, short trips on nuclear power. Instead of waiting years for the planets to align and then more years in transit time, we'd be able to send probes/people/material anywhere in much less than a year. This means that the costs would go down, the designs could be heavier and contain a larger variety of robust equipment, and we potentially would solve the microgravity bone loss problem by providing constant 1G acceleration.

    Go and feed the cows baked beans wolram, the best thing I can hope for out of all this global warming hysteria is a warming to the idea of nuclear power as the main alternative. http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com/ is one example.
     
  17. Dec 26, 2007 #16

    robphy

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    Let's not forget the technologies (including electronics, communications, and materials) that were developed in the pursuit of "researching our solar system"... and there's no reason to think that more technologies won't arise from its continued research.

    http://www.sti.nasa.gov/tto/
     
  18. Dec 26, 2007 #17

    jim mcnamara

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    Oooo. More methane, I like it!
     
  19. Dec 26, 2007 #18

    jim mcnamara

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    ...assuming a cow's GI flora makes methane from baked beans. I think they make plenty o'methane all on their own.
     
  20. Dec 26, 2007 #19
    Private companies do invest in basic scientific research with only a remote possibility of economic benefit. After all, they invest in ISS experiments. If they don't invest in deep space exploration, I assume it is because they can't even think of a remote possibility.

    I think that interplanetary travel will be limited to robots for some time to come. The economics are overwhelming. The difference between the cost of life support for a robot holding a one-way ticket compared to a human going round-trip is astronomical. If we insist on getting souvenirs, we can get more of them by sending a robot on round-trip than we could with a human.
     
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