Debate and Discussion

Shuttle Launch to the ISS
t_roy at 4:46PM, June 8, 2007
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I have just watched the space shuttle launch, and I found it to be the dang most beautiful thing that I have seen in a long, long time.

Such a shame that our politicians are so short sighted that they do not see the benefits of a strong space program. At least private industry may pick up the slack and help to make space travel and research more plausible.

-T. Roy M.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:36PM
ccs1989 at 8:28PM, June 8, 2007
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Oh God, space travel. The amount we spend on space travel is huge, and all it really does for us is clarify how earthworms function when cut apart in zero gravity. I mean, it's neat, but I don't see it actually helping us anywhere in the near future. Better to spend that money cleaning up THIS planet before working on ways to get to other planets so we can screw those up.
http://ccs1989.deviantart.com

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
-Henry David Thoreau, Walden
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:38AM
fern at 8:34PM, June 8, 2007
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t_roy
I have just watched the space shuttle launch

You mean on television or were you actually there in Florida?
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:26PM
t_roy at 9:21PM, June 8, 2007
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I was watching it on television, fern. Took some time out of personal studies/drawing to do so.

And I would refute your claim, ccs1989, but that would end up going into my personal politics and my view of goverment, which always ends up not being pretty. Neadless to say, I view it as a generational investment, with benifits not always being apparent. I mean, how many people, besides C. S. Lewis, actually would of thought that there would be a communication and meterological satilite network until right up before those events?
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:36PM
SpANG at 10:03PM, June 8, 2007
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Did you ever wonder about the commissioned tasks they do that don't get news? Like scattering a rich guy's ashes, or fixing an HBO satellite?

Kinda funny.
“To a rational mind, nothing is inexplicable. Only unexplained.”
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:52PM
ozoneocean at 1:04AM, June 9, 2007
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Hehehehe, C.S. Lewis…
-Arthur C. Clark. :)

Not that I've ever read him, but yeah, it was him. C.S. is more about going into space with some kind of magical light power or something. He's more metaphysical than scientific. I think a Russian guy came up with the satellite idea first but it was more communication to and from the satellite and not a network of satellites. Ah, but those are just published ideas, you don't really know what people were thinking at the time.

The ISS is interesting, pretty shoddy in a way though with all this “Russian” side and “US” side… If they'd have thought about it properly it'd all be integrated and the Russians would be in control because they know what they're doing up there more than anybody- consistently been in space longer with stations and they really do know how to get the most out of shit equipment.

Yeah, keep the space work going, it leads to better stuff for us in the end. I mean, even down to knowing about climate change for example! Weather research would be pretty limited without space. That's just one example. Something like the ISS though is a stepping stone to better things. Maybe a self sustaining moon base in the future?
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:27PM
t_roy at 5:22PM, June 9, 2007
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Sorry, I do tend to get my names confused. And yeah, we don't really know what they were thinking, although I did find his full proposal rather intresting.

The commisioned tasks are not done by NASA, but by private firms. And also the Russians, because their government doesn't give them very much funding and they're not as squimish with doing such things. (Anybody else remeber the Pizza Hut rocket?)

I'm particularly intrested in the commerical value of space. Not tourism, although that is one side of it, but some consepts like astroid mining or energy like nuclear on the moon in an enviroment not particularly inhabited. (Some intresting things involving lasers for power transmition have piqued my intrest.) Of course, I'm an engineering major, so such challenges do wet my appitite.

The EU, Canada and Japan are also to contribute to the station's technologies, and I think that there are treaty level agreements to the exact configuration of the station.

I would debate you on the whole Russian thing, but those go into my politics once again. And I'm here to make comics, not act like a pundit.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:36PM
ozoneocean at 6:10PM, June 9, 2007
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Yeah, I'm not into the politics of it, just the point that they really do the the experience. The Russian/US thing has caused a lot of practical difficulties! Different airlocks on each side that the different sorts of space suits simply can-not use: that's the main one. If one airlock is damaged and you have no suits ready for the other side you simply can't get out and make repairs, that means all of your suits and airlocks are useless lol!
It's true.

Space has no real commercial value (for mining etc. but for satellites yes!!! “Tourism” doesn't really count yet). Not until government funding (it doesn't matter which government), has subsidised the industry enough to make it worth while, or simply just put all the infrastructure in place and done all the initial R&D trailblazing to begin with.
-i.e with the cost of setting up a space mining company; building a launch vehicle and underwriting it; designing, building and testing space mining machines and methods; and working out a way to safely return the mined (or even refined) ore back to earth for use- with the value of all those things added up, whatever you mine in space will cost far, far more than any similar product you mine on Earth. You lose money…

So, when governments finally set it all up for the mining companies, or if we ever reach a stage when those things aren't available here or environmental restriction make it impossible, that's when space mining will be viable. So it's possible, but there are a few steps in between.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:27PM
t_roy at 1:34AM, June 11, 2007
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I would have to disagree with you on the whole government point. Such things do not require some government to pull the strings, simply a lot of currency. Take, for example, the airplane. Governments were not intrested in it at all, because they thought it wouldn't have any stratigic value. Insteady, many advances, such as efficent engines, better designs and a better understanding of aerodynamics, were spured on by prosperous (although ecentric) enthusists and contests to make certin goals, like crossing the English channel and back in one flight. This layed the foundations.

The airplane did not recive government help until the middle of WWI, when it was relised that it could be used for intelligence gathering. Fighter aircraft evolved to stop said intelligence gathering at first, then to be able to inflict damage to troops and material below. From that, bombers came about to cause maximum damage, etc. From the needs of combatd we got fast and relitively inexpensive small aircraft, large cargo planes able to deliver parcels and passengers, developed again by private firms and individuals.

Of course, I'm getting ahead of myself with my intrest in military history, but I think I've illustrated my point rather well. I personally think private firms should take the lead (Virgin Galatic for tourism, Boeing and Lockheed-Martin for satilites, for example). Flights for the rich and famous are okay, since they'll lead to those people figuring out how to make it cheaper, better and faster like all things in a liberal capitalist society were a broad market for goods and services are considered essential to success. (Liberal not being used in the American political sense of the word, of course.) We don't need substities to make it happen, just some way to get a lot of currency in there for development.

Not that I particularly mind if the goverment takes the lead, they've been doing it for years. It's just that I would rather the tech being developed by civilians rather then by a government were people can point fingers at and hate/feel edgy about. (Russo-American/Sino-American relations, anybody?)

In fact, now that I think about it, such contests are being help. There was the X-Prize, as well as a contest NASA is underwriting to make a working design model for a space elivator. (The elevator part, of course. The ribbon is being developed at University of Texas in Dallas with carbon nanotubes.) Of course, it's not as apparent as the spaceport Virgin is building in New Mexico, but that may not be as apparent as well for someone who doesn't try to pick up Popular Machanics and Scientific America off the newstands every month.

…I better stop now before I get into a nerd rage over the biasis(sp?) I see in Discovery. But I hope my lack of sleep has not made my post confusing, although I think what you may be refering to is the mating of the airlocks for Russian and American spacecraft, due to the diffrent gauges.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:36PM
ozoneocean at 6:34AM, June 11, 2007
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The thing is that the expenses involved are simply far beyond the reach of the commercial sphere. And because of the time it and money takes to get to the stage to make it commercially viable, it isn't commercially viable. That's the stark reality.

Mining asteroids or the Moon is simply not a commercial proposition. It's not like we don't have technology that can get you up there in order to do it, but it requires massive investment in infrastructure. That alone sinks the entire idea. For the foreseeable future it will always be much easier and cheaper to mine our own planet. By a gigantic factor.
It's the difference between McDonald's paying for beef farmed in Brazil to McDonald's paying to set up a gigantic climate controlled, environmentally sealed base under the ice in Antarctica and farming Cattle in there: they could do it either way, but the second will simply not make any money because that beef with cost thousands of times more than the Brazilian beef. Just as ore mined on the moon would cost millions more even than ore mined from the bottom of the ocean.

You see, the commercial world is about making money, not throwing away trillions, which is what space mining ideas entail. Whereas governments are all about throwing money at big ideas at huge infrastructure projects, they can justify that behaviour because it helps us eventually

But there's simply no profit to be had in space yet -apart from satellites, and it was NOT the commercial sphere that started that particular industry was it? They could never in your wildest dreams have done that either. The technology, the space ports etc, all those decades of work and trillions of dollars were provided by governments. You see, back in the 40's absolutely NO company could have made any money at all from funding the research and trying to put satellites into space, they would have just lost it. It wasn't commercially viable. But now it is because the people who could afford to lose the money have already done so: They stand on the shoulders of Giants. :)

Maybe if China or the US put bases on the moon though, then you can start to see a window for business… Moves like that mean it might possibly happen. Oh, I don't say we can't have the commercial sphere being paid by government to develop the tech, of course you can do that! Just that any company that wants to pay to blast up there today to mine space would have to be run by imbeciles.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:27PM
lothar at 7:13AM, June 11, 2007
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ccs1989
The amount we spend on space travel is huge,

oh realy? and what about how much they spend on WAR ? !!!
here are some numbers

annual budgets
NASA - 16.8 billion
USDoD - 439.3 billion (roughly 27 times more)


it's so sad to see us fighting over dinasaur blood when we need that blood to get away from this planet ! it's the only hope for us and the Earth !
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:45PM
t_roy at 8:14PM, June 11, 2007
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I'm afraid I didn't quite make my point clear. Moon mining and some such are obviously decades away, if not a century or two. The matter of funding, as with all things, will obviously need to be worked out. The governmental funding for NASA was, in large part, a result of the Cold War. Fortunatly, the space race was non-violent, ending with the US landing on the moon multiple times. Unfortunatly, space became less sexy to the politicos after that, so less money was there for NASA and more money were there for programs that would get them reelected.

What I was trying to state was that I was figuring that, in an ideal world, private firms would find some way to exploit space without there being another space race, with them figuring a market and then expanding upon it. Private flights into the black, floating space hotels, these can probably be done, if someone really wants to, within the next 10-20 years. Virgin, I think, is making the most headway in that, although I could be mistaken.

And however I want it in the ideal world, it will probably end up with large government subisties, probably because of some war or political tension. Just the way it is. Doesn't neccisarily mean I have to embrace it, though.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:36PM
lothar at 5:52AM, June 12, 2007
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the funny thing about the whole space thing is (correct me if i'm wrong) that there is sooo much debris floating around up there , and more with every new launch, so much “space trash” that we are, in effect, building a wall of garbage around the Earth that will be increasingly harder to penetrate !
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:45PM
Hawk at 7:38AM, June 12, 2007
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I had my doubts as to how worthwhile it is to invest in space travel, but I think we can all agree that it's a much better investment than war.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:46PM

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