The future of the space program

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David Loftus
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The future of the space program

Postby David Loftus » Fri Sep 23, 2005 10:01 am

I have terribly mixed feelings about the proposed continuation or expansion of the space program.

I was a huge space geek from ages 10 to 13 or so. We were living on a U.S. Army base in Germany just after the first moon landing. I hung photos of Surveyor and the Apollo 12 moonwalkers (can anyone name them? I can: the first was a question on "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire" that stumped the contestants) from the "Stars and Stripes" on the wall of my bedroom. Collected books about the history of the space program.

When I was 14 or so, I wrote an account of the first moon landing illustrated with stamps from all over the world (and a few National Geographic photos) depicting the characters and stages of the journey. I also gave an expository speech about Skylab with hand-drawn diagrams, at several speech tournaments.

There's a sense in which I'd like to think the exploration of space will be the salvation of humankind, if the species is to survive. But speaking honestly, I don't think that's a realistic scenario. The immense cost in resources and time is one thing; but it may not be physically possible either. Several years ago the New Yorker had a fascinating story about the physiological effects of space travel -- that NASA has kept very quiet about how much motion sickness so many of its astronauts (people in top physical shape) have suffered, and how quickly essential chemical balances in the body can leach away in a weightless environment. There may be no escape from our fate on this precious green and blue jewel.

And I do think, even if the species is ultimately doomed, that it would be wiser, more ethical, to focus more resources on alleviating problems here on Earth/
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Postby robochrist » Sat Sep 24, 2005 1:32 am

David,

Felt compelled to respond to your musings re: space, but I have to bang this out quickly. It's been a hectic day.

I kinda sense, underneath it all, you've answered all your questions.

Putting aside the inevitability of space exploration, as, indeed, we ARE doomed if we don't part from the Earth (because population will wipe out the planet's resources and because in millions of years the sun will nova; our instincts as a surviving species will not allow us to sit back and watch it happen), the only way we WILL be able to save the planet and buttress its waning resources is mining the limitless sources in space. The only way we'll be able to do THAT is the continual drive to push further out. It's the only way we'll know what the hell we're doing in such a deadly environment.

It's MY contention that the more earthbound we remain the more we imperil our own planet (including what we are doing to the atmosphere). The ice glaciers are melting due to global warming, oceans are rising correspondingly, cultures vary in their acknowledgement of the destruction they bring to the planet's surface, and so, it will get far, FAR worse before it gets better. Once it gets THAT uncontrollable...well, we'd BETTER know our options; and those will be in space.

I don't feel the concern you expressed; I feel it's an issue of the right pacing, driven by necessities and urgencies time and research bring to our attention.

I also feel that you are citing the situation too rigidly through today's eyes. It's like the ol' analogy of what people in the 19th century thought about man flying; there was even a period up to which it was believed humans could not physically survive certain speeds.

Solutions to what was once thought impossible are always drawn from future technologies the people of those earlier eras could scarcely imagine. Do you really believe - assuming humans ARE still here, and I suspect they WILL be - technology 500 years from now would be insufficient to resolve the problems you just cited? I think they will. I think they'll resolve THOSE problems, and ADDITIONAL problems we'll have created down the line from now. Yes, I think we're creating a LOT of work for future generations to resolve. But - as species looking after its own survival - they'll FIND the solutions, are die TRYING.

I just know PART of those solutions lies in our carefully paced ventures into space. Things as immense as colonization and moon bases will require complex "baby stepping". Large scale colonization, as one example, will clearly be postponed until such a time when and if social and political conditions reach the prerequisite state of sophistication. But working them all out demands the ongoing process we are seeing now.

What intrigues me - and some of your statements brought this to mind - is how we see ourselves from the pov of a rationalistic earthbound species. Future generations, conditioned differently, will be directed to look for different solutions for things like the colonization of space. Because they will have the ability to change the very context in which we imagine space commerce. Similarly, those who actually view Earth from outer space, will probably see the Earth, our humanity, and their business venture in a context different from what is typically seen from an executive office on Earth.

Which brings me to the environment - the "FACE" - space will eventually have to us. In time - INEVITABLY - whatever YOUR doubts, more and more people will be working somewhere other than on Earth, be it in low Earth orbit or on a lunar or Mars colony. PRIVATE enterprise will most likely take over. As you well know, ambitious new space industries are in the planning stages, and therein lies multiple formulations to resolve not only YOUR questions, such as human endurance and adaptability in space, but the moral and ethical behavior for corporations as THEIR presence grows outside our planet's battered atmosphere. Free enterprise systems, which in THEMSELVES will probably be different in a millenium from now (imagine, if you will, technology accessible to the general population that will alter the concept of currency in ways we can't imagine now).

So...to me, it's an issue of slow but continual pacing, steered by the urgencies and the research. Some things will be insanely impossible for some time, and therefore counter-productive if premature. Space colonization, for instance, which may prove vastly different thousands of years from now from anything we imagine now, and CRITICAL one day in increasing the chances of human survival would, if attempted TODAY, REDUCE our chances of human survival (we haven't even figured out artificial gravity yet; I think that's CRUCIAL for our adaptability in space; I don't think we'll ever truly move foward in long term existence in space WITHOUT artifical gravity.

Once we are able to replicate Earth's environment in space closely we'll have the means to lay the tracks.

And that's why it's going to happen. Sadly, I doubt it will happen before we see things get far, FAR worse here (even if this dumb country comes to acknowledge the realities of global deterioration, other cultures - varying so extensively - will probably take far, FAR more time to do so, because, like MOST capitalists, they basically see hot profits in the short run, not the long run).

Yeah, I totally believe in the move to space, to the moon, and to other planets...but at the pace necessity dictates.

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Postby robochrist » Sat Sep 24, 2005 1:34 am

David,

Felt compelled to respond to your musings re: space, but I have to bang this out quickly. It's been a hectic day.

I kinda sense, underneath it all, you've answered all your questions.

Putting aside the inevitability of space exploration, as, indeed, we ARE doomed if we don't part from the Earth (because population will wipe out the planet's resources and because in millions of years the sun will nova; our instincts as a surviving species will not allow us to sit back and watch it happen), the only way we WILL be able to save the planet and buttress its waning resources is mining the limitless sources in space. The only way we'll be able to do THAT is the continual drive to push further out. It's the only way we'll know what the hell we're doing in such a deadly environment.

It's MY contention that the more earthbound we remain the more we imperil our own planet (including what we are doing to the atmosphere). The ice glaciers are melting due to global warming, oceans are rising correspondingly, cultures vary in their acknowledgement of the destruction they bring to the planet's surface, and so, it will get far, FAR worse before it gets better. Once it gets THAT uncontrollable...well, we'd BETTER know our options; and those will be in space.

I don't feel the concern you expressed; I feel it's an issue of the right pacing, driven by necessities and urgencies time and research bring to our attention.

I also feel that you are citing the situation too rigidly through today's eyes. It's like the ol' analogy of what people in the 19th century thought about man flying; there was even a period up to which it was believed humans could not physically survive certain speeds.

Solutions to what was once thought impossible are always drawn from future technologies the people of those earlier eras could scarcely imagine. Do you really believe - assuming humans ARE still here, and I suspect they WILL be - technology 500 years from now would be insufficient to resolve the problems you just cited? I think they will. I think they'll resolve THOSE problems, and ADDITIONAL problems we'll have created down the line from now. Yes, I think we're creating a LOT of work for future generations to resolve. But - as species looking after its own survival - they'll FIND the solutions, are die TRYING.

I just know PART of those solutions lies in our carefully paced ventures into space. Things as immense as colonization and moon bases will require complex "baby stepping". Large scale colonization, as one example, will clearly be postponed until such a time when and if social and political conditions reach the prerequisite state of sophistication. But working them all out demands the ongoing process we are seeing now.

What intrigues me - and some of your statements brought this to mind - is how we see ourselves from the pov of a rationalistic earthbound species. Future generations, conditioned differently, will be directed to look for different solutions for things like the colonization of space. Because they will have the ability to change the very context in which we imagine space commerce. Similarly, those who actually view Earth from outer space, will probably see the Earth, our humanity, and their business venture in a context different from what is typically seen from an executive office on Earth.

Which brings me to the environment - the "FACE" - space will eventually have to us. In time - INEVITABLY - whatever YOUR doubts, more and more people will be working somewhere other than on Earth, be it in low Earth orbit or on a lunar or Mars colony. PRIVATE enterprise will most likely take over. As you well know, ambitious new space industries are in the planning stages, and therein lies multiple formulations to resolve not only YOUR questions, such as human endurance and adaptability in space, but the moral and ethical behavior for corporations as THEIR presence grows outside our planet's battered atmosphere. Free enterprise systems, which in THEMSELVES will probably be different in a millenium from now (imagine, if you will, technology accessible to the general population that will alter the concept of currency in ways we can't imagine now).

So...to me, it's an issue of slow but continual pacing, steered by the urgencies and the research. Some things will be insanely impossible for some time, and therefore counter-productive if premature. Space colonization, for instance, which may prove vastly different thousands of years from now from anything we imagine now, and CRITICAL one day in increasing the chances of human survival would, if attempted TODAY, REDUCE our chances of human survival (we haven't even figured out artificial gravity yet; I think that's CRUCIAL for our adaptability in space; I don't think we'll ever truly move foward in long term existence in space WITHOUT artifical gravity.

Once we are able to replicate Earth's environment in space closely we'll have the means to lay the tracks.

And that's why it's going to happen. Sadly, I doubt it will happen before we see things get far, FAR worse here (even if this dumb country comes to acknowledge the realities of global deterioration, other cultures - varying so extensively - will probably take far, FAR more time to do so, because, like MOST capitalists, they basically see hot profits in the short run, not the long run).

Yeah, I totally believe in the move to space, to the moon, and to other planets...but at the pace necessity dictates.

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Postby David Loftus » Mon Sep 26, 2005 1:04 pm

I don't think I had any questions. Mostly, I offered opinions and a picture of my state of mind.

If you're hoping on a 500-year timeline, I think you're being unrealistic. I don't give our species another 200 years of survival, possibly less than 120.

I doubt private enterprise will be able to afford to put us out in space, very far or with any permanence -- ESPECIALLY when (not if) things get a lot worse here on Earth.

And I don't see where you addressed the physiological challenges of prolonged space travel for humans. We might be able to sidestep that problem by sending ourselves out there via suspended animation, but I fear the number of variables we would have to control for in the design of systems to protect our vulnerable hides in transit would be far too complex to guarantee any decent chance of a successful trip.

Unless others are willing to risk sacrificing themselves piloting the voyage. Which some might well be.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Postby robochrist » Mon Sep 26, 2005 3:20 pm

David,

"I don't give our species another 200 years of survival, possibly less than 120."

Holy Christ! I'll need a serious drink if I start believing that.

Of course, this sets the basis for our disagreement on the projection and the means for our adaptations to space. The basis, unfortunately, for a very long and fun discussion which I haven't the time to get into right now.

So, to encapsulate it for now: ALL the problems you addressed re: the physical stresses of space are on the engineering boards. Having read many articles and seen many documentaries, I'm thorougly convinced we'll have the fundamental problems of long-term in space resolved within 100 years.

I do NOT believe they will be resolved until the engineering problem of artificial gravity is taken care of first. That is a surprisingly difficult problem for them yet (I thought centrifugal concepts would be quickly applicable, but among other things, they are still very expensive). But they'll do it.

And I know, for a fact, you are incorrect about private enterprise factoring in. You MUST be reading and seeing stuff they're preparing in private contracts and competition (Space Ship One - winner of a $10 million competition that had been going on for several years - set a thereshold last year).

As we move into space and resolve the problems at the necessitated pace, private enterprise is an inevitability.

And assuming you are wrong in your pessimistic projections about the human race surviving its fucking stupidity, our ONLY chance of surviving is venturing out there. Assuming, then, we DO survive, as I suspect we will (though not before we see more tragedies on astonishing scales), our adaptation in space in the long run is inevitable.

So, it looks like we disagree completely on this subject. We'll just have to both hang around long enough to watch what happens and see which of us is right. (I must concede, either projection provides one helluva spectacle if we were to live long enough to see it: the END for our species or our massive progress in space)

Bottom line is, I think we WILL survive as a species and our gradual advancements as a civilization in space are inevitable.

Naturally, I say I'M right. (Isaac Asimov agrees with me. Carl Sagan agrees with me. Harlan Ellison agrees with me. And my ex-girlfriend agrees with me. So, that HAS to mean I'm RIGHT, because my ex-girlfriend is never wrong about anything. How's that for scientifically resolving an argument?)

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Postby KristinRuhle » Mon Sep 26, 2005 11:17 pm

Drifting a bit offtopic....

Oh, we could die out. No question - it COULD happen and the issue will be settled within the next few decades. But I think it would be a rotten shame.

As a species we need to get a lot smarter. In a hurry.

Also, we need to figure out ways to really solve problems and not be blinded by things like extreme political ideologies which can be as bad as fundamentalist religion if you let it make you narrow and closed-minded. (Take all the partisan politicians and knock their heads together!)

Can the masses be educated? I don't know. I do know some of us might fear our own success...because then we wouldn't have anybody to look down on like proper elitists! Ignorance is horribly dangerous though...and it threatens our very existence.

I AM sure people need to think more rationally. I'm not much into religion, but what if science proved there really is a God gene? It's not realistic to expect six billion people to all become atheists. One thing is certani: the kind of fundamentalist fanaticism that makes people murderous will have to go.

ObSpace Development: private enterprise just *might* find a way to pull off what NASA can't because they have too many bureaucrats in the way. No, I am not a right winger; I do think government is good for some things. But I'm not a communist either.

Kristin
What do you mean, save the planet? The planet will get along with or without us. It's ourselves we need to save.

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Postby robochrist » Tue Sep 27, 2005 12:25 am

Kristen,

"As a species we need to get a lot smarter."

If I may tweak that just a tad, as a species we need to learn humility. From the beginning we've been "smart"; why, then, did we keep doing "stupid" things? Like destroy our environment, wipe out lower orders, and conduct wars?

The cleverness we were born with as a species allowed us to see only how we could horde territory and power - tangents of our way of perceiving survival.

The very nature of natural selection involves competition for control of resources and helps insure survival over less adapted organisms. It's or lack of humility - our refusal to look at the broader scope - that COULD turn the dial on that rule.

This weekend I saw DOWNFALL, the excellent film about Hitler's last days in the bunker. They made it the point to show these people as HUMAN; they very thing that made them more frightening. How much complex sentiment this group could express to those closest to them, yet do such monstrous things as what Goebbles' wife did to those kids, and, of course, the mass murder they conducted throughout Europe. That dichotemy is what's really human, and that's why we really are a frightening bunch.

The roots of our individual social conditioning, our fear-reflex when we don't have control on territory (and therein other people), and our rush for power at the expense of foresight all have to be overcome if we really are to survive.

Goebbles himself said:

"Propaganda has only one object - to conquer the masses. Every means that furthers this aim is good; every means that hinders it is bad."

Yeah, we're smart; but smart without the wisdom. We never understand what the collective goal has to be, only the tools of hoarding. The tool we brought with us from the beginning.

I, myself, am neither the determined optimist nor pessimist. I just happen to think, given our pattern of problem-solving when the worst arrives, in spite or ourselves. (use the Titanic as the analogy; we alter a system once we realize it won't work; but it always seems to take the WORST for us to understand that it won't work, or at least concede - given the unscrupulous leanings of many industrialists; yet, I think the instinct for survival will prevent us from biting the big one)

I DO know that if we DON'T move forward in space, we will NOT survive. And I know that if we DO survive our self-induced catastrophes, we WILL adapt to the environments out there.

Re: free enterprise in space. Your mixed tone is a bit like mine. I'm certainly not going pro or con on the prospect. It's simply going to be, whether I like it or not. (George Pal and Kubrick both got that right, when they showed us private business involved in funding and operations in space: we're going to see McDonalds and the Hilton Hotel side-by-side in Earth's orbit and elsewhere; I'm sure they'll have a Home Depot near the asteroid mining colonies too)

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Postby David Loftus » Tue Sep 27, 2005 10:28 am

> And I know, for a fact, you are incorrect about private enterprise
> factoring in. You MUST be reading and seeing stuff they're preparing
> in private contracts and competition (Space Ship One - winner of a $10
> million competition that had been going on for several years - set a
> thereshold last year).


That's fine, but for the foreseeable future, any developments in space travel on the part of private enterprise will inevitably be self-referential -- or terra-referential -- in the sense that the private sector is not going to invest in anything unless it has fairly swift payoffs back here on Earth: pays back on the investment, makes a few people or a corporation richer, involves spinoff technology that has quick sales potential here, etc., etc.

Thus, I don't see how private enterprise would have any interest in colonizing anywhere else except for resource-extractive purposes to bring stuff back to Earth. This becomes moot if Earth (or rather, the human species) dies out on Earth in the meantime due to a cross fire of pollution, war, disease, nuclear waste, and other modern equivalents of the Four Horsemen.

So the best-case scenario for private exploration of space is that a few hardy astronauts (and maybe some fat cats) manage to escape the dying planet, only to suffocate and starve away at some distant colony at which they find themselves marooned with no further help from the home planet.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Postby robochrist » Tue Sep 27, 2005 11:48 am

David,

Yes, we ARE talking long-run here. That's why I was stressing the "pacing by necessity" bit. Given the steady stripping away of resources here on Earth, juxtaposed by the ever-increasing populations, I suspect the incentives for profit in space will begin showing themselves in the not-so-distant future.

Between government programs (defense, as usual - I mean where would progress in technology ever be without war or "fear of the enemy"? - is still the most likely catalyst for our mobility out there in the nearer future) and the entrepreneurial rocket nuts who own companies (most of whom were former engineers with outfits like NASA, JPL, etc) and are determined to find the cheap and practical systems that will get larger groups of people out there safely, the basis of an industrialized society will take root in space; and, in line with history here on earth, societies will slowly emerge over hundreds of years from those industrialized operations.

Having said that, in the shorter run, private interests include robotics, rocketry, satellite, repair services (as for space stations, the shuttle, etc), and so on. For down the stretch, there are companies who actually have "Futurism" departments - ideas being laid out for ventures in space, particularly in TOURISM (lots of talk in that area over recent years, for projections in 50 to 100 years from now).

The demands from the crises here on Earth will drive us further out: the solutions lie in the vast resources of the solar system, particularly in the asteroids.
They say that there is enough iron there to cover the earth to a depth of
one-half mile! At present-day prices, this iron would be worth about
$7 billion for each person now alive. Add in nickel, platinum, copper,
gold, uranium and so on, and the total exceeds $100 billion per person.

Do you know that in 1967 the "Outer Space Treaty" was passed, in which the U.S. agreed not to claim national sovereignty over the Moon or Mars, etc.? The treaty does not say anything against private property. Therefore, without claiming sovereignty, the U.S. could recognize land claims made by private companies, regardless of nationality, that establish human settlements on the Moon or Mars. such as space tourism, servicing the space station, etc.

That's one of the reasons they're talking about the Moon again. And the moon itself will be a source, not just for metals but for components like hydrogen.

Pharmaceuticals behave differently in space as well. New discoveries will be made there.

Many private companies are looking at all these things. They're not about to miss out on the prospects.

Unfortunately, yes, for the immediate run, the potential short-term profit sources are much too small to attract the billions of dollars of private capital necessary. So a new, additional incentive is badly needed. The potential value of land on the Moon, Mars, or an asteroid can provide that additional economic incentive for privately funded space settlement. And thank the Four Horsemen we have business fanatics devoted to such wild prospects. I suspect, in large part due to them, we will see unexpected leaps in space.

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Postby RichVR » Tue Sep 27, 2005 10:39 pm

For your perusal:

http://www.mkaku.org/articles/physics_of_alien_civs.shtml

I for one would like to go for it. But then, I'm prejudiced. I grew up on E.E. "Doc" Smith, Asimov, Clarke, Sagan and hundreds of other far thinkers. I personally don't have much hope for humanity in general and individual men/women in particular.

And in my darker hours I wonder if we should foist our particular brand of civilization upon the universe at all.
"For all your days prepare,
And meet them ever alike:
When you are the anvil...bear;
When you are the hammer...strike!"

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Postby David Loftus » Thu Sep 29, 2005 10:01 am

robochrist wrote:I, myself, am neither the determined optimist nor pessimist. I just happen to think, given our pattern of problem-solving when the worst arrives, in spite or ourselves. (use the Titanic as the analogy; we alter a system once we realize it won't work; but it always seems to take the WORST for us to understand that it won't work, or at least concede - given the unscrupulous leanings of many industrialists; yet, I think the instinct for survival will prevent us from biting the big one)


Few would call themselves a determined optimist or pessimist -- we're all just reading the facts as we see them.

I say our instinct for survival won't do us a bit of good when we have created problems that are far too vast and complex for an individual or even a nation to solve.



robochrist wrote:I DO know that if we DON'T move forward in space, we will NOT survive.)


Agreed. But it looks to me like we haven't give ourselves enough time to develop the techology and ability to move forward in space before the home port collapses -- and we need a stable home port for at least a while to be able to push out into space with any chance of surviving out there.


robochrist wrote:And I know that if we DO survive our self-induced catastrophes, we WILL adapt to the environments out there.


You mean you believe it; there's no way you can know it. Consider the challenges of generating fresh oxygen and food for a sizable human population -- anything more than a handful of astronauts in a shuttle or Skylab. All that technology has to be in place before the humans can move in, whether it's in a floating platform in the cosmos or on the surface of a moon or planet. Basically, that's what happened on Spaceship Earth: there wasn't one bipedal explorer who arrived here and launched an entire species -- rather, a suitable environment preceded the long, slow development of multiple species, at least two branches of which became bipedal, upright, soft fleshy organisms with opposable thumbs and a growing cranial capacity.

Humans are extremely fragile creatures out of their native environment.

Again, I'm not saying it can't be done; of course it can, given enough time. I'm just dubious that we have allowed ourselves that much time, if you look at all the problems we've generated and are not even beginning to address here on Earth.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Postby David Loftus » Thu Sep 29, 2005 10:16 am

robochrist wrote:Yes, we ARE talking long-run here. That's why I was stressing the "pacing by necessity" bit. Given the steady stripping away of resources here on Earth, juxtaposed by the ever-increasing populations, I suspect the incentives for profit in space will begin showing themselves in the not-so-distant future.


Incentives won't mean squat if the practical capability is out of reach.


robochrist wrote:Between government programs (defense, as usual - I mean where would progress in technology ever be without war or "fear of the enemy"? - is still the most likely catalyst for our mobility out there in the nearer future) and the entrepreneurial rocket nuts who own companies (most of whom were former engineers with outfits like NASA, JPL, etc) and are determined to find the cheap and practical systems that will get larger groups of people out there safely, the basis of an industrialized society will take root in space; and, in line with history here on earth, societies will slowly emerge over hundreds of years from those industrialized operations.


But they have to have a place to go. Where would that be, and how will they survive when they get there? More to the point, where's the profit in setting up such an alternate refuge? See my post above. (And incidentally, given the personalities of the kind of people who have such money to invest, I'm not sure I would WANT to escape a dying Earth to go to some desperate outpost with them.)


robochrist wrote:Having said that, in the shorter run, private interests include robotics, rocketry, satellite, repair services (as for space stations, the shuttle, etc), and so on. For down the stretch, there are companies who actually have "Futurism" departments - ideas being laid out for ventures in space, particularly in TOURISM (lots of talk in that area over recent years, for projections in 50 to 100 years from now).


I think you may be missing my point. None of these fabulous developments will do us a bit of good, and in fact will be of little interest to most humans, if -- sorry, when -- conditions on Earth keep getting more and more desperate. And I certainly don't see how any of those technologies would help us address these problems.


robochrist wrote:The demands from the crises here on Earth will drive us further out


They might. On the other hand, they might just drive us to even greater mutual recriminations, rancor, and violence.



robochrist wrote:the solutions lie in the vast resources of the solar system, particularly in the asteroids.


Really? The solutions to stockpiles of toxic and nuclear waste, antibiotic-resistant strains of TB and other diseases, lack of sufficient food resources, and so on? You really think so?

Isn't it just as likely that we are apt to export our problems to new places instead of finding the solutions out there, if we don't start to solve them here first? It's not so much a problem of technology but of human values and character.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Postby Ceronomus » Thu Sep 29, 2005 10:28 am

David Loftus wrote:Isn't it just as likely that we are apt to export our problems to new places instead of finding the solutions out there, if we don't start to solve them here first? It's not so much a problem of technology but of human values and character.


That hits it right on the head doesn't it? Humanity as a whole seems to have a problem accepting and confronting our own shortcomings. Hell, greed is the new black. What care we for the devastation that is wrought, as long as we make a buck?

Business ethics are mostly gone. Insurance companies hire groups of people for the sole purpose of finding new and creative ways to NOT pay out the money they owe. Corporate execs unashamedly steal from their companies and clients. Hell, politicians don't even have the courtesy to lie WELL anymore.

Something will eventually have to give, things will eventually change. It most likely won't be pretty.

In the meantime, I think our space program is horribly stunted and it is going to be a long time, if ever, before the US is the top of the heap for space exploration again.

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Postby FrankChurch » Thu Sep 29, 2005 10:57 am

Pork in space is not kosher. He, he, I make a funny.

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robochrist
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Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2004 1:30 pm

Postby robochrist » Thu Sep 29, 2005 12:21 pm

David,

"I think you may be missing my point. None of these fabulous developments will do us a bit of good, and in fact will be of little interest to most humans, if -- sorry, when -- conditions on Earth keep getting more and more desperate."

Y'know, I'm beginning to feel like Criswell here.

In the river of posts I've laid out here, I've covered every one of these questions. From Ceronomus' issue with human nature to the practical benefits in the resources of space.

I'm no longer sure who is missing WHOSE point.

David, you APPEAR to be saying that we need to resolve our problems here on Earth FIRST, before moving forward in space. It is obviously my contention that it will be a crucial part of the solution. Granted, there ARE many things we need to address - like our Expansionist, hoarding tendancies. I even agree - if you saw it in my other post - that we'll never make it if we DON'T deal with that first. (I don't think my posts are being read) Given human nature, we all too often work at cross purposes.

But what I've been describing here is a timeline in which ALL these questions COUNT. I haven't excluded any of YOUR issues. I'm merely arguing that, rather than suggesting we should "wait" and deal with problems here first, pushing forward in space technology, research, and manned exploration will be PART of the solution. Cost will obviously dictate the extent we go at that particular time.

I don't know why some of you are having a problem following that. Is there a case of tunnel vision going around?


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