General Discussion

Do you think Humanity is ready to leave Earth and colonize other worlds (and outer space in general)?
ttyler at 3:13PM, Aug. 3, 2009
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I'm not even from this world as it is!!
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Sea_Cow at 4:55PM, Aug. 3, 2009
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We are not even close to colonising other planets. Right now astronauts who return from space dont live long on earth because they have very big issues with health, that werent solved yet. After spending years with no gravity, their blood system becomes very sensitive to pressure, years of being exposed to sun radiation dont do good either.

most who are dead died by accident. ie: shuttle exploded, crashed their car/motorcycle/plane. etc.

Exactly. When they went into space, they delved into the realm of Galactic Lord Xenu, so he cursed them to die!
I am so happy to finally be back home
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Product Placement at 4:31AM, Aug. 4, 2009
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Still. Astronauts have to deal with things like bone and muscle mass deterioration while in long term space missions. They need to be almost constantly exercising in order to combat it. If we can build stations and ships that generates artificial gravity by utilizing centripetal force or something similar then we can negate that problem.

Another problem is of course radiation. The Van Allen belt is particularly problematic. During most flights we pass that belt rather quickly and our ships are adequately shielded. However, if we ever succeed in building a space elevator, that pesky belt could be cause of concern since the elevator would pass is much slower then a rocket. Therefore it's been suggested that the elevator will have two different elevator units. A heavily shielded crew compartment that could only house few individuals due to the great weight that the shielding needs and a much lighter cargo compartment that's designed to be light so that it can take up more supplies in one go.

Once we have that damn elevator, the cost of space travel will drop considerably. It wouldn't even take that long to pay up the initial cost of building the elevator to begin with. The only big hurdle is designing a light yet strong enough material that it can support the frame of the elevator. Carbon nano-tubes has been suggested but our production capabilities are still limited and expensive at the moment. If we can develop a cheaper and speedier production methods, all hurdles that prohibit us to build the elevator will be gone.
Those were my two cents.
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ozoneocean at 4:48AM, Aug. 4, 2009
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Still. Astronauts have to deal with things like bone and muscle mass deterioration while in long term space missions. They need to be almost constantly exercising in order to combat it. If we can build stations and ships that generates artificial gravity by utilizing centripetal force or something similar then we can negate that problem.
Man, I'd love if we could have nice flat gravity generators like they do in almost every Sci-Fi film ever (apart from 2001). :)

And if you could control gravity that way… No need for rockets, space elevators or anything else. Even car and train travel would benefit… And just imagine all the little mechanical processes and even manufacturing processes that'd benefit from running without gravity?
A whole new world O_O

…I wonder if we'll ever manage to manipulate actual gravity? Pretty complex quantum theory to untangle first. We're not even at the baby stages of that yet. :(
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:34PM
skoolmunkee at 5:36AM, Aug. 4, 2009
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I feel like I am going to have to look more into this space elevator, because I am really just not buying the whole ‘let’s have a rock on a string attached to earth whirling around in space' thing. Something about it just seems inherently impossible.
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Product Placement at 5:46AM, Aug. 4, 2009
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It's possible. First you need to establish a base in geosynchronous orbit. That is where the elevator will lead to. Since the weight of the cable would pull down the base, back to earth, an anchor needs to be created in a higher orbit. It would provide a counter pull that would keep the base in place. The elevators would then be designed to crawl up the cable. In order to save time to have them come down again, they would detach themselves from the cable and return to earth via atmospheric reentry.

The ground base would either be located on top of a mountain to shorten the length of the cable or on ocean to counter possible drift that could increase the strain on the cable. The cable itself would be designed to burn up during reentry if it would ever snap. Otherwise it could cause allot of damage as it winds itself around earth during its fall. Funny enough if the cable would snap in a relatively low altitude we would witness it being pulled up into the sky, instead of seeing it falling as the anchor would pull the whole thing away from Earth.
Those were my two cents.
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Lonnehart at 4:27PM, Aug. 4, 2009
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Now then… what would the cable be made out of? I doubt steel would be a strong enough material for a cable THAT LONG…
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Product Placement at 4:40PM, Aug. 4, 2009
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Steel is indeed not a structurally viable material. It wouldn't be able to support its own weight. I mentioned before that carbon nano-tubes has been suggested as a possible material. It is much lighter and considerably stronger then steel. However, the current production cost are way too high to make it a realistic alternative. Also, it would take decades if not centuries to make enough of that material, compared to our current annual production capabilities. It is with great hopes that one day, cheaper and more efficient production methods will be developed, that would fix these problems.
Those were my two cents.
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imshard at 7:08PM, Aug. 4, 2009
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A space elevator WOULD be nice and we are getting fairly close. Carbon nano-tubes have been successfully constructed into ribbons of an appropriate size. While it couldn't reach space it can get you halfway. Unfortunately its a few newtons short of the tensile strength for a full space lift. Alternately the Metameterials field is producing amazing stuff since they can simply manufacture matter with the desired properties.

Even without a sky-hook/beanstalk/skytower/space elevator we have it within out capacity to go and colonize other planets right now. Just not the motivation or funding.

As for maturity? When has that ever stopped anybody? human civilization is a teeter-totter story of inventing technology and blowing ourselves up with it right before we figure it out and benefit. Who knows what'll happen? I say we go find out what happens when we try.
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Chaosord at 3:47AM, Aug. 5, 2009
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A lot of text coming your way. Please bare with me.



I think that we, as a species, are not ready for space travel, let alone colonization. For one thing are tech is not up to the demands of long space travels. From I can gather, there are two ways that are being considered as viable meaning of transportation. Way number one; light speed, either we put people in chrostatis(spelling?) or there is a relativity change in time (Things going at light speed experience time slower). Problems with this way are numerous. First you have the vast amount of time this method would take, with most points of interest beyond our solar system being light years away. Then, you have the speed of travel. Provided acceleration and deceleration doesn't kill you, what happens if you hit something? One of two things either you destroy it or your kinetic energy bites you in the ass.
Finally things is space move. If you point your light speed rocket at a planet a 100 light years away, it may not be there when you get there. This is because, any data we get is out of date the moment we get it. The stars you see in the night sky or not the stars as they are in the moment you perceive them. Light takes time to travel, the farther the source the longer it takes. Now add in the fact that everything is moving at unbelievable speeds. What do you have? A nightmare, a freaking nightmare.
Example, lets say you want to go to planet X which is a million light years away. You have light speed travel, so it will take you a million years to get there. Planet X moves about 10 million miles per years in orbit around it sun. The sun in turn orbits the center of is galaxy at 10 miles per century. Now lets say you factor everything in and figure out which way to point your rocket. If the rocket is off but so much as a cm you will never reach planet X. But if by some miracle you reach your target(notice I said target) planet X will not be as it was seen on Earth because the image planet Earth got was a MILLION YEARS OLD. In a million years a lot can change. Planet X may no longer be a planet, it may be space dust or home to face eating plants. Who knows.
Way two is finding a way to go faster than light. Even if you can go a hundred times faster than light the same problems with way one apply. So that leaves instant teleportation. Which is pure science fiction at this point. Even if we could do it, the question of whether or not, should we? The idea of messing around with the foundations of reality scares me. There is too much room for error and not enough info to predict what will happen.
Even if we solve the problems of travel, can the human body take it? Can our civilizations, survive it? Can we over come our species petty differences to try it? And if we do make it, what is to stop us from destroying planets to kill our enemies?


Still here? Then thanks for reading.
I…see…you…
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:40AM
bravo1102 at 7:01AM, Aug. 5, 2009
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As Imshard said the idea that “oh our species isn't ready” has never stopped any human anywhere from colonizing or traveling anywhere. That seems to be the Enligthenment/millenial idea that humanity can be perfected but we're not there yet.

When will we be there? What will make us perfect? A thousand year reign of a returned messiah as the millenialists say or creating a Utopia?

We're ready whenever we decide to do it. Just grab those inaccurate charts, a compass and quadrant then board that tiny caravel and set sail for the horizon. Our species has done more with less than space exploration and eventual colonization will demand of us.

Climb aboard a recreation of a 15th-17th century sailing ship sometime, go sailing on a ship powered only by the wind, then look at charts of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Something only looks so simple and so inevitable in hindsight. It took longer than a lifetime for Europe to truly explore and settle the Americas.

To quote Carl Sagan: “We are on the shores of the cosmic ocean and we've barely gotten our toes wet.”
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
kyupol at 6:45PM, Aug. 6, 2009
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Humans are already in lots of planets out there.

Its just our planet (or maybe there's other planets like us) thats intentionally being kept backward by some of us who think they are a superior species and have the right to dictate the destiny of those deemed inferior.

Why do you think there's different races on this planet? Sorry but I don't buy the evolution or creationism story of the origin of humanity.

If evolution is true, why are we not all the same type? Why do some of us have to be black or brown or white or yellow or whatever. If its the temperature, why are do Native Indians and Filipinos look the same. Filipinos are from South East Asia (equator. its so hot) while the Native Indians are from North America (its so cold).

If creationism is true, what kind of an all-perfect God would create humans in different skin colors if its known that humans with different colors are always bound to fight each other? Face it. Every racial group has a version of the Ku Klux Klan in them. God must be dumb or a psychopath (must be fun watching those puny humans hate each other because of race) if that's the case.


Going back on topic, why not?

Why don't we rightfully take to the stars instead of thinking up ways of murdering our kind in the name of reducing the population and all this “carbon footprint” nonsense.

Its pathetic.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 1:26PM
Product Placement at 7:58PM, Aug. 6, 2009
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Since Oz mentioned artificial gravity devices, I might mention that I read a long time ago about experiments where some scientists were trying to build devices that could bend gravity around it. Apparently someone made this accidental discovery, during some testings on a super conductor. He was smoking a pipe and noticed that the smoke started to rise above the conductor. After examining the effect, he made the claim that objects above the conductor weighed 10% less. He claimed that the supercharged conductor could bend gravity waves around it, making things weigh less. I've never seen any follow ups on these claims so I'm skeptical about it. I do have this idea for a sci-fi comic where this field of science is examined, leading up to the discovery of gravity manipulation.
Those were my two cents.
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patrickdevine at 10:21PM, Aug. 6, 2009
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Neverminding the unpreparedness of humanity intellectually to colonize/explore space there's still a good deal of technological hurdles that need to be overcome before it even becomes viable.
Like for one, making a space installment self-sustaining. That's actually really hard because space is crazily inhospitable, finding a method of keeping a decent supply of water and oxygen to keep a population going wouldn't be easy. Things like recycling waste into drinking water would be a necessity but even that wouldn't keep up a water supply indefinitely. Like someone else mentioned, there may be frozen water at the polar regions of the moon which is the best bet for getting a consistent supply of water.
There's also health problems that people develop after being in no-gravity/low gravity for too long. Muscle atrophy and whatnot. If you were able to build a large structure that could sustain and Earth-like gravity indefinitely throughout you might have a working model for a space colony.
As for colonization, the way I see it until FTL drive is developed interstellar travel probably isn't viable. Technically it's possible, however you'd have to be able to build a ship that can sustain itself and and an environment that can keep the crew relatively healthy for an extremely long time.
Who knows? Maybe we'll figure out some way to make it work.
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Lonnehart at 1:47AM, Aug. 7, 2009
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“Generation” ships are viable, but extremely risky. Basically you start out your journey on an asteroid, but when you get to your final destination it'll be your descendants who will do the exploring. This will take a very long time and by the time that asteroid reaches its destination (if it does at all) the purpose of the mission may be lost on those descendants.

FTL could be possible if we can figure out how to manipulate the space-time fabric. Too bad once we situate ourselves in that warp bubble we can't control anything that's outside of it.
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Product Placement at 5:20AM, Aug. 7, 2009
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You're half right. We have the knowledge to build a “self sustainable” ship today. One that would be equipped with hydroponic garden which would supply the inhabitants with oxygen and food, waste water distiller and similar. We have the plans to make them today but the cost of making them is astronomical. However, it would only work for as long as we're inside the inner solar system. Reason? The further away we get from the sun, the less power we're able to draw from it. If memory serves me right, our solar collectors can only receive half of the energy that it's able to gather around the Earth. The further away we get, the bigger our solar collectors have to become. Eventually, we'd need to abandon them and utilize a different energy source. That requires fuel which would make the ship dependent again.

Life support is a big energy hog. It's difficult to sustain all our biological needs out there. One of the most far out ideas I've heard for the future is to build “colony” ships that don't send out any humans at all but our genetic material. Once it reaches it's destination, automated machinery would dissemble the ship and use the material to build factories. The factories would then extract minerals from the soil, refine it, make more building material and use it to construct a small city. Once that would be complete it would build up a cloning station that would create humans with the implanted memories of the original “colonists”.

This wasn't suggested by a sci-fi fan either. People with multiple PhD's are auggesting such possibilities.
Those were my two cents.
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bravo1102 at 6:58AM, Aug. 7, 2009
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Not Sci-fi fans, but sci-fi writers wrote about that in the 1950s and 60s.

As far as a power source, current nuclear reactors would do quite well. People don't realize that a current naval vessel's nuclear power unit is self-sustainable for a long, long time with only a small amount of fuel. Theoretically it would be possible to service the reactors in space the same way they are done every few decades in port.

Among the best models for a future space vessel would be a nuclear submarine with the additional ability to supply its own food.

Kyupol: don't youy ever read anything that any scientist has ever written about human development? Your opinions are grounded in such ignorance of the basics of anthropology and paleontology that it is laughable.
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Product Placement at 7:13AM, Aug. 7, 2009
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Of course I've considered nuclear power. However I think such methods of power are to risky. One of the reasons why a nuclear powered spaceship hasn't been constructed is because people are petrified of the idea of having it crashing during a failed space launch or re-entry, spreading fallout everywhere. How long would a modern nuclear generator last? 50 years? 100? What happens when it needs to be repaired during a generational flight? What happens if it leaks? What would they do with the waste? (duh, they could just throw it out, silly me)

As I said, I don't think it's a safe power source. But then again, I'm no nuclear physicist so what do I know?

If they could construct a nuclear engine in orbit, turning it into a ship that would never need to land on our surface, then I suppose it would be a good idea.
Those were my two cents.
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patrickdevine at 10:06AM, Aug. 7, 2009
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I'm skeptical as to whether a Generation Ship could work. Not only would in need to sustain a ready supply of oxygen, water, and earth-like gravity for hundreds of years but it would effectively have to have a working society for that long as well. If the descendants of the original explorers haven't lost sight on what the original aim of sending the Generation Ship was then it could work, but with power changing hands over the many years and people developing their own goals within that society all sorts of crazy things can happen. Worst case could have the society imploding. Possibly involving an actual implosion.

Lonnehart
“Generation” ships are viable, but extremely risky. Basically you start out your journey on an asteroid, but when you get to your final destination it'll be your descendants who will do the exploring. This will take a very long time and by the time that asteroid reaches its destination (if it does at all) the purpose of the mission may be lost on those descendants.

FTL could be possible if we can figure out how to manipulate the space-time fabric. Too bad once we situate ourselves in that warp bubble we can't control anything that's outside of it.
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Sticky Sheets at 1:58PM, Aug. 7, 2009
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Maybe when our space shuttles stop exploding in mid descent/ascent.
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Lonnehart at 2:27PM, Aug. 8, 2009
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Sticky Sheets
Maybe when our space shuttles stop exploding in mid descent/ascent.

Maybe when NASA will stop sitting in their mission control chairs and really pay attention to safety issues. That piece hitting the wing of the space shuttle should've been a RED FLAG, as well as the warnings they recieved about the O-Rings being frozen. Then they wouldn't have let those flights go…

I bet those health problems will go away when we finally invent the “grav plate”.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:39PM
Product Placement at 2:38PM, Aug. 8, 2009
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Those space shuttles are way overdue to be retired, anyways.

The age of shuttles are behind us. They wont be making a suitable replacements for those, any time soon. It's back to the basics, sitting on top of a rocket to get into orbit.
Those were my two cents.
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AQua_ng at 2:30AM, Aug. 9, 2009
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I'm more worried about the lag I'd get if I'm playing against those on the other planets. Sheesh, I can't get the headshots with poor latency.

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ozoneocean at 9:17AM, Aug. 9, 2009
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I love it when it says you've got a headshot about a minute after you've made the actual shot.
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One of the reasons why a nuclear powered spaceship hasn't been constructed is because people are petrified of the idea of having it crashing during a failed space launch or re-entry, spreading fallout everywhere.
I'm pretty sure there've been one or two satellites with some form of nuclear fuel.

it's ok in small amounts anyway. You could sed small parts up a bit a a time on lots of launches, adding it to their normal payloads. Then assemble it all in high orbit. That way if there's a launch disaster, that small amount of material will easily burn up and not be too much of a problem if it doesn't. :)

Nuclear power provides a lot of power for the mass and it lasts a long time. You don't have the issues with disposal either in space. If something goes wrong you're buggered whatever your fuel source is anyway.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:34PM
gullas at 10:20AM, Aug. 9, 2009
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IMO, somwhere between 2000-2.000.000 years, would be a good time to ditch this place ^_^'
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Lonnehart at 1:54PM, Aug. 9, 2009
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gullas
IMO, somwhere between 2000-2.000.000 years, would be a good time to ditch this place ^_^'

The sooner the better. 2 billion years down the line or so Earth's fires will die and the planet will end up like Mars… cold, barren, and lifeless.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:39PM
martinlo_23 at 11:53AM, Aug. 10, 2009
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It's possible that in 2 billion years we evolution or die. i prefer first choice.
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machinehead at 6:01PM, Aug. 10, 2009
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I don't believe man is ready, but the Earth is really getting sick of us.
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qqq at 6:14PM, Aug. 10, 2009
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Lonnehart
Yes, we have most of the tech needed to do this.
We don't, read less science fiction.

We can do fantastic things with our sciences.
No, we think that in advance, usually along the road more problems surface than we thought and nature turns out to be more complex than our models had hoped. Once promised things like mapping the human genome or the ISS are still not done and way over time.

We have plans for inflatable moonbases, geodesic martian cities, and there's even a floating venusian city in the concept stage. We can probably tow in asteroids and create living spaces in them. However…
We have plans for that? Are you sure? Note that a desire does not mean a plan, a plan means you can convince a funder that said should give you the money because the funder is convinced it'll work from your technical specs.

Humanity still isn't ready. I don't think we're “mature” enough to go out into space without really messing things up. We're still fighting wars over religion, two bit dictators and other such governments keep people under their heel/thumb, and… well… there's all that space junk we left up in the atmosphere that we haven't tried to clean up yet.
Who would want to colonize space any way? It's a suck place to be, your bone erodes away, you have to conserve energy, no parks, nothing.

Assume the earth gets to full and half has to go to another planet. I'd rather be in the half that stays here, and I guess a lot of people share my like for comfort, so you're more deporting people away, and probably people that don't have a lot of money. So it's slavery all over again.

What do you think of all this?
Oh.. and if this thread doesn't belong here, please move it. :)
Counter question: Do you for instance know that in places with no atmosphaere (like space), energy generation isn't half as big a problem as energy dissipation. Getting your space station warm is all too easy, getting it cold is the major problem. Thermodynamics works in real life, not in science fiction.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:57PM
patrickdevine at 10:45AM, Aug. 12, 2009
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qqq
We can do fantastic things with our sciences.
No, we think that in advance, usually along the road more problems surface than we thought and nature turns out to be more complex than our models had hoped. Once promised things like mapping the human genome or the ISS are still not done and way over time.
Don't forget the Biodome projects. Too bad too, the idea of having a livable atmosphere in a self-contained space is cool, only they couldn't be made to be self contained. Today the idea is generally dismissed as impractical, though it might have provided a viable model for space installments had it worked.

We have plans for inflatable moonbases, geodesic martian cities, and there's even a floating venusian city in the concept stage. We can probably tow in asteroids and create living spaces in them. However…
We have plans for that? Are you sure? Note that a desire does not mean a plan, a plan means you can convince a funder that said should give you the money because the funder is convinced it'll work from your technical specs.

“Plans” can also mean that you have a design that works in simulation, which we actually do have. NASA has been planning temporary installations for places like the moon and Mars for years. The plan to actually implement some of these ideas keeps getting promised, then cancelled, then brought up again etc. The short of it is that I don't think I'll actually see it in my lifetime.

edit: Crap! I broke the quote!
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:41PM

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