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News Space: Why and where do we go?

  1. Jun 28, 2012 #1
    So I started a new thread:
    When the Portugese were sailing south along the western coast of Africa, the Chinese were already established at The Eastern coast of Africa. At that time China was the most developed power on Earth, but the Emperor died and the new Emperor recalled the Navy, burned it and isolated China. And we Westerners know what then happened, dont we?

    Will the Decisionmakers in the United states of America act rational in the future? Will they continue the tradition of burning money by burning ships? Will America send a few "missionaries" to Mars to die there of old age and loneliness? Will the coming Masters of Space be the Chinese?

    Who should go to space, where should they go and why should they go?
    Any suggestions?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 28, 2012 #2


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    It's one thing to sail across an ocean to some place that is not too different from one's origin. One can generally find air (oxygen), water, food and resources for life support and development. It's an entirely different matter to venture into space, and particularly to other planets or planetary objects which do not have abundance of molecular oxygen, water, food stuffs similar to those existing on earth.

    Then there is matter of transportation. It's a relatively simple proposition to sail across an ocean. Going into space requires leaving the earth's surface, getting into orbit at 7.7-7.6 km/s (~27 500 km/h) or ~17,100 mph. Then leaving orbit requires some additional propulsion, and the energy requirements are determined by how fast one wants to reach the destination. Then there is the matter of achieving orbit, then subsequently landing on a planet or object, which has no infrastructure.

    Most amateurs grossly underestimate the energy and resource reqirements, and the cost.

    The closest objects of interest are the moon and Mars. Asteroids are of interest as a source of materials, but that could be mined by robotic systems. Otherwise, Mercury and Venus are way too hot or chemically inhospitable, and the other destinations are too cold or too far away. NASA and ESA are collecting more information on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, but manned exploration remains only a dream.
  4. Jun 28, 2012 #3


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    This thread must meet the guidelines posted by DH, as well as general forum guidelines and P&WA guidelines.

    Overly speculative or personal theories and histrionics are not allowed.
  5. Jun 28, 2012 #4
    Im slightly confused...wasnt my thread locked a few minutes ago?

    to be edited: just checking

    Edit 1: Thank you Evo! Ill use this space for a short presentation then.

    Im Swedish. US and its citizens are a total mystery to me. Successful communication depends on a shared media, a shared logic and a shared manner... and on the question of manner...well...ahem...let sleeping dogs sleep I say...but I feel I must tell that we Swedes believe in freedom, and we are, or believe we are, rational. We dont believe in evidence...we ask for proof.

    When it comes to questions of exploring, and establishing a presence in space I think I am a typical Swede! BUT: Im worried! I happened to glance in a book ...well ... I forgotten its name but a chapter was on the events that nearly destroyed life on Earth. The approximate dates of the major mass extinctions were given and it was said that they,perhaps, was caused by comets or asteroids hitting the Earth. I calculated the mean and found to my surprise that we should be extinct by now!

    So I applaud USA for trying to spot them "Cosmic Villains" via telescopes...But what would you do if you discovered a threatening comet? Can you prevent an asteroid from hitting us? Shouldnt the very first priority for a rational space program be to protect life on Earth? Can that be done from Earth? Mustnt we have presence in space, so we can travel to the object, mount some engine on it and make it change its course?
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2012
  6. Jun 28, 2012 #5


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    I unlocked it.
  7. Jun 28, 2012 #6
    Hi Astronuc!
    Im aware of the differences between travelling in ships on sea and ships in space.
    I think most people are. Dont you agree?
    I couldnt agree more.
    I dont think so: The closest object of interest is the Space Station!
    We can afford losing robots to the hazards of space...Humans is another matter!
    I think amateurs would love to compare the distances and problems involved...Mars is closest after the Moon you say...How much farther is it to Venus? Is the shortest way the most economical way? And so on. Theres another thing...Venus is too hot you seem to say, I think its generally known that its surface is indeed very hot, but Ive heard somewhere that the upper layers of venus athmosphere is cooler than the surface... do you have any info on that?
    Oh..dont worry it wasnt long ago when orbiting the Earth was just a dream.(But as I recall it, it wasnt NASA waking us up)
    Now I should do some summing up and perhaps show some of my cards so contributors dont have to guess as to my intentions, but I will come back and edit it in later unless somebody beats me to it and posts faster than I can edit.

    Edit 2: So please Mr Expert Scientist: tell us how Earth can be protected! And please Mr Politician: tell us that you are doing everything you can to speed up the process.

    That said: Have YOU any ideas? Can we leave "the execution" to the authorities and ask ourselves how WE should establish presence in space given the chance? Isnt the first step to learn how to establish self sufficient (approximately) Space fortresses/observatories (ahem... colonies) not ON planets but circulating them, or travelling towards the Oort cloud? Shouldnt we begin with our already existing Space Station? And...ahem at lowest cost and at the same time building up a Space Economy!
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2012
  8. Jun 28, 2012 #7
    Well back in the days of sailing ships, sailing was pretty risky and costly. I think so long as they can bring down the cost of launching vehicles into space, then it would be similar to early sailing with adequate technology. On Earth, you had to handle the rough ocean. In space, you have to handle the rigors there. I think it's a matter of developing the technology to the point that it's reliable and cheaper to be able to go to near-term places (like the Moon or Mars). Going to different stars or really inhospitable places can be left to robots for the near-term. I think one important component would be a rotating spacecraft that can adequately simulate gravity, which would also be large enough for the crew to stay sane and not kill each other.

    I agree, but why not then work gradually to develop space exploration? I am sure technologies will make things cheaper over time and robots in particular will be able to begin doing more exploration over time.
  9. Jun 28, 2012 #8
    Youre making sense!? Youre sure your not Swedish? (Just kidding.) Listen man: We need to control the Oorth Cloud to be in control of our destiny! Excuse me, but you must think on a larger scale to succed in getting there: THINK: SPACE CITY

    Edit 3: Step 1 is already taken, we have a space habitat or space station.
    Step 2 is to make it a fortress: meaning it should be, perhaps not self sufficient , but not in need of heavy continuous support from Earth. It should be experimental, a model for a space farm encircling (or resting close to) other strategic space objects where it must be completely self sufficient making it possible for its inhabitants to live, work and multiply (!) in safety and comfort...and even sort of showing some profit!
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2012
  10. Jun 28, 2012 #9

    D H

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    That's a bad analogy. Yes, it was risky, but so was life in general. Regarding cost, in comparison to space flight it was cheap. Very cheap. Even after accounting for inflation and increased wealth, the cost of funding Columbus' first expedition was tiny compared to a single launch of a manned vehicle.

    Sailors could catch their food, catch drinking water from rainfall, dispose of waste over the side, and air wasn't a problem at all. Food, water, air, waste management are all huge problems with human spaceflight. Everything is a huge and expensive problem with human spaceflight.

    Quoting astronuc from an earlier post, "Most amateurs grossly underestimate the energy and resource reqirements, and the cost." You have no idea. Sending humans to Mars now, or within the next decade, is well beyond our current capabilities. We will not be sending anything to different stars for a long, long time. Certainly not in my lifetime, almost certainly not in yours, probably not in your grandchildren's.

    What that means is doing what we're doing now, and maybe a bit more. It does not mean missions to Mars, it does not mean going to other stars. What it does mean is investing small amounts of moneys in researching new technology, finding ways to make our existing technologies better, finding ways to cut the huge overhead costs of going into space.

    The last thing you want to do is pick some fledgling technology and say "that's our future." There's a problem with developing science into an engineering prototype, and then with turning that prototypes into a viable system. The problem is that it takes time. By way of an analogy made famous in the book "The Mythical Man Month", it takes one woman nine months to make a baby. Adding eight women to the task doesn't magically make it take one month. Money is not a magic bullet. There are no magic bullets.

    Nope. Write a bad science fiction novel if you wish, but we are not going there in this thread.

    This thread is in politics. Politicians don't give a hoot about what their predecessors hundreds of years in the future will do. Businesses have a very narrow view into the future. Politicians have a slightly broader view, but only slightly. This thread is about what is possible now, what might be possible a decade or two from now.
  11. Jun 28, 2012 #10

    D H

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    This thread got off to a bad start and went downhill from there. Thread locked.

    If you want to discuss the intersection of science/technology and politics you have to keep it real. Controlling the Oort Cloud is not real.
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