Thursday, April 15, 2010

Big useless Statements and Ideas

President Barack Obama boldly predicted Thursday his new plans for space exploration would lead American astronauts on historic, almost fantastic journeys to an asteroid and then to Mars — and in his lifetime — relying on rockets and propulsion still to be imagined and built.
From this article.

The Moon was supposed to be the first stepping stone, right?

After the Moon, Mars. After Mars, the asteroid belt for mining. After successful mining, on to the outer planets.

The first stepping stone, right? But it didn't accomplish that, and it shouldn't have. Unfortunately, that's what the world, and worse, Congress expected.

What should the Moon landing have led to? More fuel efficient, cheaper, and safer ways to get into orbit. Practice creating artificial gravity. Permanent residence in orbit.

Then we go back to the Moon and set up long term facilities.

You know, I've lost what I was going to say.

Basically, I wish we'd focus our manned space program on learning better/cheaper ways to lob things into orbit. That's the expensive part, right now. After we can successfully and cheaply get people up there start to work on ways to get out of Earth's gravity well and moving to an asteroid or a planet.

I want us to continue to explore. I want us out there. I just don't see taking anymore big steps without setting up an infrastructure to support multiple trips as the way to do it.

Humanity should be done with the Cold War Space Race Bullshit by now.

Why do I get the feeling that it never will be finished, though?


geewits said...

I have faith that we will get out where we need to go. What I love right now is being able to image so much of what's out there. I hope you are clicking on Asronomy Picture of The Day every day like I am. If we can keep sending imaging robots out like our very successful Mars missions, that's enough for me.

AE said...

My initial criticism to the article was similar to the Republicans: TIME FRAME, but space transportation seems the more obvious and immediate route rather than the moon: long-distance flights in less time, right? Get more people up there.

Then I read yours and asked myself, 'Was that why we were returning to the moon?' To set up a long-term facility? After the moon landing, finally: Hybrid and hydrogen energy, a world where we're considering high altitude leisure as reasonably safe, how old's the international space station?...

Was that why we were going back?


Our president isn't postponing the building a Moon base is he?

In his speech he did so obviously forget to say, 'It's doable, we have the technology we have the resources, the funding needs to be reallocated or allocated correctly...

'I want a station on the moon and I want it within this decade. I want it to support human life, with replenishment, for a period of greater than 6 months. I want a deadline set. I want it for Americans and Canadians and Lithuanians. I want this for everyone the world over. I want humanity to look up at the sky and say to themselves and to their children, "There are people up there." Not "Were people," "once" or "Has been". No, "There are people on the moon." And it's high time we can this.

'We can do this. We are the "Can Do" people.'

Rotten politics ...


ticknart said...

Geewits -- I look at the astronomy picture from NASA every morning I'm at work and am constantly blown away by what I see. I love the Mars rovers and was thrilled by the Hubble upgrade and I think we need to continue the unmanned projects so we can learn as much as we can about the area around us.

But unmanned stuff wasn't what Obama's speech was about. He'd talking about having NASA send men to an asteroid and Mars orbit and depend on private companies to take care of Earth orbit situations. Are private companies going to be willing to launch people up there to the ISS? Will they be willing to launch government people or will they expect to launch only their own "experts" to perform supply runs and repairs that require space walks?

You're right that we'll get to where we need to go, but I just wish we'd get there the smart, thoughtful way instead of the useless, grandiose way.

AE -- Obama mentioned the Moon a few times in his speech, but the most important thing he said was, "I understand that some believe that we should attempt a return to the surface of the Moon first, as previously planned. But I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We've been there before. ... There's a lot more of space to explore, and a lot more to learn when we do." He doesn't want us to go to the moon.

I really only mentioned the building a permanent base on the Moon as a sort of esoteric, free association, stream on consciousness writing thing. It'd be cool, but it's not what I think is the most important thing to do. The most important thing is to get people into orbit reliably, safely, and cheaply. I don't see private industry doing that.

Sure, private industry will lob all sorts of satellites and shipments of goods for the ISS into orbit, but take the risk on launching people? Could you imagine the insurance costs for them to do that on a regular basis? Hell, just wait until they start trying to launch and place three or four satellites from one rocket. Industry will go where the money is made, and from my point of view launching people is potentially more costly than launching stuff.

Setting up a safe and cheap way to get people into orbit can only be done by a rich government.

It wasn't industry that paid for the railroads. It wasn't industry that paid for the canal system back east. It wasn't, and isn't, industry that paid for the highway system. It won't be industry to pay for getting people into orbit and without getting people into low Earth orbit there are no manned trips to the Moon or an asteroid or Mars or anywhere else more than a few times.

If I had my way, we'd safely get into orbit in my life time so I can see space, but I at least want it to happen within the lifetime of your children. I'm just not sure even that'll happen

AE said...

Ah, in our lifetime ... Let us not ignore the Virgin Galactic and the fight for space tourism!

ticknart said...

Virgin Galactic ain't space tourism. It's flying high enough to see the curve of the Earth and feel some weightlessness, but there's nothing about full orbit and that's not really much of a tour of space.

And "in time" when longer trips can be made up there, the cost of those trips will be so much, due to fuel and insurance and probable physical requirements, that only those with lots and lots of money who are in much better than average shape will be able to do go.

To me, Virgin Galactic feels like a joke.

ticknart said...

Wait, I just realized I made a mistake.

The rail roads were built by private industry, my bad, they were just given the land around the tracks from the government as payment. There was a good deal.