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A Vigorous Discussion of Our Future In Space

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the how-amazing-was-it dept.

Space 111

Nethead writes "At TAM 2011, presented by The James Randi Foundation (JREF), a panel with Pamela Gay, Lawrence Krauss, Bill Nye, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, and moderated by Phil Plait, discussed our future in space in an environment where they could freely express their opinions. This is an hour-long video (so lay off first-posts until you've watched it) with humor, depth and frank realism. Where do we spend our dwindling monetary science funding, manned or robotic exploration?"

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I am in a different timezone (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37776426)

hour has already passed.

Link to the transcript? (3, Insightful)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 2 years ago | (#37776478)

Where's the link to the transcript?

This is SlashDot, not CNN.com. We don't have an hour of free time to blow - we scan, pick out the important bits and GTF on with our day.

Re:Link to the transcript? (0)

CatsupBoy (825578) | about 2 years ago | (#37777932)

We don't have an hour of free time to blow...

Maybe if you spent less time vying for first post you would...

Re: Ask Slashdot (2)

DickBreath (207180) | about 2 years ago | (#37778250)

> Maybe if you spent less time vying for first post you would

Maybe a good Ask Slashdot question would be:

What are the best practices for achieving first post?

Re:Link to the transcript? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37778774)

Where's the link to the transcript?

This is SlashDot, not CNN.com. We don't have an hour of free time to blow - we scan, pick out the important bits and GTF on with our day.

So Slashdot is a soundbite culture, just like the plebs we're so keen to whine about in the comments. If it isn't already distilled into talking points, it's not profitable enough for us to deal with. Sounds great! My free time is far more valuable than actually understanding something! Go lowest common denominator!

Re:Link to the transcript? (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#37779366)

What might take an hour in a video might take 15 minutes to read.

Also, many people post from work, like I am doing now, most workplaces aren't keen on an employee watching a video for an hour at work, but it's easier to get away with reading something at work than watching a video.

Re:Link to the transcript? (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 2 years ago | (#37779432)

Get off your high horse and actually read the post you're replying to. There are no soundbites in transcripts.

Maybe the parent, like many people, can read faster than others speak.

Have you never found yourself being subjected to a powerpoint where the presenter is just reading the slides word for word? Annoying, wasn't it? Why do you think that was?

With me, at least, it's because I'm sat there waiting for the speaker to catch up and all the while thinking my time is being wasted. Now, you might say that presentations give one the opportunity to ask questions, but that isn't the case with a video.

Why read when you can listen? (2)

doclight (2476864) | more than 2 years ago | (#37786416)

I am in the same boat, I don't have an hour to spare. That's why I'll be listening to this in the background while at my desk tomorrow. Thank you Nethead.

Lay off, really? (2)

CaseCrash (1120869) | about 2 years ago | (#37776488)

Yeah, I'm really just going to watch an hour long video, think about it, and then comment in an insightful manner about the topic. :P

Please, this is slashdot, I'll just wait for someone else to tell me the good parts or at least ramble on about something good related to the topic who also didn't watch the video.

Re:Lay off, really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37777966)

I know you're joking, but why wouldn't you want to watch this? I would pay money (or at least put up with ads) to see these people talk for an hour.

Better question (1)

bonch (38532) | about 2 years ago | (#37776498)

Where do we spend our dwindling monetary science funding, manned or robotic exploration?

And should we spend it in the first place?

Re:Better question (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#37776744)

Where do we spend our dwindling monetary science funding, manned or robotic exploration?

And should we spend it in the first place?

To ensure space is safe for democracy. :P

Re:Better question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37777224)

Sorry, the Ron Paul foaming-at-the-mouth stuff was one article back. This article is for people who don't live in some Libertardian Fantasyland.

can't cure stoopid (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 2 years ago | (#37777882)

The Lord's Resistance Army is a fine, upstanding Christian organization.
It's right there in the name. [mediamatters.org]

proof that drugs are bad and drug addicts should be safely locked up where they can't harm society.

Re:Better question (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#37777330)

Yes, exploration noble goal which is worth far more than the small amount of money spent. Throughout human history it has improved our situation immensely if only through the technologies created to do so.

If you want Randian fantasy land, go check out the Ron Paul nutter article.

Re:Better question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37778852)

If you want Randian fantasy land, go check out the Ron Paul nutter article.

What if we want a James Randian fantasy land? That would be pretty sweet, I think.

Re:Better question (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 2 years ago | (#37780610)

Given the current state of the world, I estimate 50 years in space tops before humanity, say, sends mercury or the moon hurtling headlong into the sun.

Re:Better question (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792336)

That would be quite impressive. The amount of energy needed to move either of these bodies is currently out of our abilities, but in 50 years, who knows.

Re:Better question (5, Insightful)

KahabutDieDrake (1515139) | about 2 years ago | (#37782266)

I'm about to blow 10 mod points, all so I can inform you exactly why your question is utterly unacceptable. That is to say... what in the hell is wrong with you? Should we spend money on cutting edge science and technology? YES. Unequivocally. I wonder, do you have any idea what the space program did for the state of the art in a dozen fields? Are you even slightly aware that the entire computer culture you enjoy today started in the Apollo program? Texas instruments created the first IC for the Apollo program.

Even more fundamental than that, we live on a planet. 1 planet. Which we know goes through various cycles which are not necessarily conducive to the continued existence of complicated life forms. At the most fundamental level, "space" exploration is our only long term chance at survival. If you can't understand that, I would ask that you hold your tongue and let the adults with worthy opinions dominate the discussion. I'm not saying we need to get humans off of earth on colonies, although I do support that idea, I'm saying that the technology we gain from trying to do things that are "impossible" (moon landing), is fundamental to our continued survival on this biosphere, which we seem to be destroying or altering at alarming rates. Oh, you don't believe in anthropomorphic environmental change? Then you are a fucking moron. In the last 100 years, 60% of the trees on earth have been cut down. If that ALONE isn't a major change in your mind, you can't possibly be smart enough to participate in this discussion.

Not only is space our most likely savior in terms of resources, survival and technological enhancement, it's also one of two "frontiers" that are still left. All other things being forgotten, exploring the frontiers is good enough reason. We as a species knew that 100 years ago. Why did we forget it?

Re:Better question (2)

PeterM from Berkeley (15510) | about 2 years ago | (#37784144)

Unfortunately, the less people know, the more they think they know.

The people who you are calling morons are incapable of realizing that they are in fact morons. Yet they have the same vote as you.

So, right you are, about anthropomorphic environmental change and the need to get off the planet in the long term. Good luck convincing people.

The best way to get "humanity" off this planet is arguable, though. I'd argue that getting humans as we are now out into space isn't worth it.

However, engineered "people" that are at the least space-adapted (can take much more hard radiation, don't need gravity, etc.) should be our goal. Better would be largely-solid-state "people". Imagine if you would be fine immersed in vacuum without any life support or radiation shielding, deriving energy from sunlight, extracting raw materials from asteroids, and able to go dormant during a migration to another star. By that argument, sending meat-people up into space at huge expense just detracts from the R&D required to send up properly space-adapted people.

--PM

Re:Better question (1)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#37788040)

Engineered "people" that are at the least space-adapted (can take much more hard radiation, don't need gravity, etc.) should be our goal.

Don't forget to replace their feet with a second set of hands, since the extra set of hands will be useful and you don't need feet in freefall. _Falling Free_ [wikipedia.org] was a pretty good book. Of course, the genetically adapted for freefall humans in that book run into an obsolescence problem when artificial gravity is invented.

Robots (2, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#37776530)

Robots have done great with Mars. The cost to any space program of an astronaut being supported all the way out and back is staggering - let alone if something should happen to him/her.

Besides, we can send dozens of robots for the cost of development and embarking on a single manned mission.

Re:Robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37776844)

I don't know about you, but I would like to have a dream that either I or some other person can go visit Mars, Moon or any other place like that. Robots do the job, but they are just that, robots.

Re:Robots (1, Insightful)

boristhespider (1678416) | about 2 years ago | (#37777160)

And your dream is worth pissing hundreds of billions of dollars down the shitter for? We can all dream, but I've never seen a sensible rationale for putting men any further into space than we already do - frankly, even that is questionable. Going back to the Moon would be an enormous waste of money unless we plan on exploiting its minerals and the fact that we can pollute the far side however much we like, and even that would be prohibitively expensive. Going further than the Moon would be horrifically expensive, horrifically dangerous and ultimately horrifically pointless, and astronauts would return half-insane through the tedium and loneliness. As for tourists, that's always going to remain a pipe-dream. It's just too costly to get out of Earth's gravity well, and *nothing* is going to change that. No new propulsion device can remove the simple truth that it costs that much energy to get away from Earth, and that energy has to come from somewhere, and there is absolutely nothing in the pipeline that could make it cheap enough. Not fusion, nothing. Science fiction is lovely, but reality is harsh and unfortunately we live in reality.

Re:Robots (2, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#37778040)

Just a question

How many engineers and scientists did the Space Race inspire?

Dreams are important. Fuck you.

--
BMO

Re:Robots (3, Funny)

Un pobre guey (593801) | about 2 years ago | (#37778384)

Yeah! Fuck you, man! Like, I want to be able to go to Mars man! Why can't I? Want to go to Mars! Want to go to Mars! Want to go to fucking Mars!

[stamps feet, jumps up and down, then throws self on floor, tearfully pounding it with fists and feet]

I have a fucking right to go to Mars, Dude! It's in the fucking constitution! I pay my taxes, or at least my parents do! Why are you repressing me, Dude?!

[etc., etc.]

Re:Robots (2)

hazah (807503) | about 2 years ago | (#37778730)

You honestly think that THAT's what's he's saying?

Re:Robots (0)

Un pobre guey (593801) | about 2 years ago | (#37778808)

Yes. Wanting to personally go out in space is a laughably childish desire. Only a fool could possibly hope for it to be realistic at any reasonable cost or to anything beyond a suborbital amusement park ride.

Re:Robots (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37778410)

Just a question, how much technology came out of WWII? Reality is far more important, and how many dreams NEVER go further than the dream stage?
The universe says a big "fuck you" to dreamers all the time. Welcome to adulthood!

Re:Robots (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | about 2 years ago | (#37779142)

This post should be modded up for the line 'The universe says a big "fuck you" to dreamers all the time. Welcome to adulthood!'

Re:Robots (2, Informative)

boristhespider (1678416) | about 2 years ago | (#37778930)

Hahahaha! That's your retort? "Fuck you"? Feel free to dream - the rest of us will live in reality glad that the dreamers aren't pissing away what little money is left to us chasing their dreams. Yes, I know the US spends trillions of dollars on the military. That doesn't suddenly mean it's fine to spend hundreds of billions on sending a few ex-pilots into space to achieve something a robot would achieve for a tiny fraction of the cost and much less risk.

Re:Robots (1)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | about 2 years ago | (#37779266)

Let me encourage everyone in this thread to go read THE CASE FOR MARS by Robert Zubrin. The goal is not "...sending a few ex-pilots into space to achieve something a robot would achieve for a tiny fraction of the cost..." The goal is a growing, self-sufficient colony for humans on another planet. It's not impossible, it's not centuries away, it's not any more risky than plenty of other things Americans have done.

The initial costs seemed extreme to send explorers sailing west from Spain, but the greater value became self-evident over time once colonies were established. America especially has always benefited from (cue the Aaron Copeland soundtrack), no, has largely defined itself as having a frontier. If you put a colony on Mars, not only is humanity safer in the long run, but the science you want to happen on Mars will surely get done faster.

Re:Robots (2)

boristhespider (1678416) | about 2 years ago | (#37784298)

"The goal" you talk about is Zubrin's goal, and it's totally laudable if unrealistic. Thing is, we're working in reality. Reality does not recommend bankrupting yourself on a risk when there are better ways of making money nearer home. Mars is a dream and will remain so for a long time. The Moon is realistic but it's very hard to make an economic argument for - or you can bet the Americans or Chinese already would have done.

As for a colony on Mars being realistic and "not any more risky than plenty of other things Americans have done" - name one. Taking off from Earth, leaving Earth orbit, flying out of the van Allen belts and being exposed to the raw solar wind; reaching Mars; landing on Mars; setlting on Mars; surviving well out of your own biosphere for long enough to make it worthwhile; doing *anything* of worth on Mars; lifting off from Mars (doubtless sick from the change in gravity, in air, in food and in everything we take for granted); getting back across space assaulted by the raw solar wind; landing back on Earth; not becoming sick form the shock of exposure to your native environment. It's tough.

Spain finding America was pure economics. Columbus was funded to find a rapid route the far East. What is the economics of chucking money at Mars? The Moon makes some sense. Not much - too expensive - but some. Mars? Nah. And even for the Moon, robots make sense.

The "humanity is safer" argument also doesn't wash with me, I'm afraid. If the Earth goes we're fucked, settlers or no. The settlers won't have the plant life, the resources, the water, the oxygen, or anything more for more than a hundred settlers at an extremely optimistic guess. If humanity goes, what emerged from that population would bear little resemblance to us, if it survived at all.

We don't have it in us any more (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#37786394)

Maybe a prior generation could have pulled this off. Not us. It's cold out there, and dark. The planets are far, the fare is steep. Space is not ours.

Let the Chinese go, or India, or Russia. When they come back they'll tell us what they found - won't they?

Re:We don't have it in us any more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37786614)

At first I was going to say "speak for yourself".

But on reflection, when do we stop looking at everything in nationalistic terms? This isn't basketball. We're talking about the expansion of the human race. We're talking about colonizing another world. Right now, if a big enough meteor hit the earth, we'd all be toast. We need to do this, for the good of us all. If we can't cooperate on something as broad and self-evidently valuable as this, what exactly is it that will bring us together? I'm sure all the 'teams' you mentioned have an interest, some resources, and some unique contributions to make. Someone just needs to lead.

Re:Robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37781276)

Your posts denigrating dreamers and risk-taking are better read within the context of your self description:

Guitarist, songwriter, sound engineer, author, digital artist, obsessed with mediaeval history and absurdly egotistical

That about says it all, you risky, manly, typing-smugly-from-a-safe-place palace fop. Something tells me if you'd been living near the end of the 15th century, and had any influence whatsoever, the Age of Exploration would never have commenced.

"Absurdly egotistical"... Really. How endearing... further proof of the statement "Confidence is 10% hard work and 90% delusion". I simply cannot -wait- to see what witty, yet cutting response you type next with those delicate fingers. I'm sure it will contain a heartfelt protest against ad hominem.

Re:Robots (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | about 2 years ago | (#37784018)

Good that you post anonymously too - otherwise you may have had to point out that I'm also a theoretical physicist and a cosmologist. The bit you wouldn't know from the bio you read is that my future career also rests on satellites and on governments being willing to pursue space science.

The point, which so many here seem to miss in a curiously emotional response to human space flight, is that science can be advanced *so much further* by unmanned missions than manned missions. Manned missions are extraordinarily dangerous and even more extraordinarily expensive. I simply cannot understand a justification for them. Given that NASA has, and unless another Cold War breaks out will always have, a relatively limited budget do we want to spend that on a wide breadth of science including spaceborn telescopes, satellites to Mercury, satellites to the Sun, satellites to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, satellites to detect deviations from relativity around the Earth, satellites to Pluto, satellites to test the Pioneer effect, satellites dropping landers designed to dig into the ice of Europa, satellites to return to Titan to explore this weird and beautiful alien landscape better... or do we want to send three men to Mars?

Because it'll cost about the same - and sending the men to Mars will take *longer*. Much longer, and there's a big risk they won't come back.

Seriously.

Take what you want from a bio written tongue-in-cheek but this is the reality. Science is much more advanced by satellites exploring the solar system for us and telescopes probing the universe at larger scales and larger energies than we will ever have direct access to, than it ever will be by putting men on neighbouring planets. The only possible reason I can see for going back out of low Earth orbit is to start exploiting the Moon - and even that the case isn't proven. It will cost untold billions to set up processing plants on the Moon, automated mines, technologies to return large quantities of ore (even processed ore, if we can find a way of processing it on the Moon) to Earth, to service it which may well take human intervention, to actually somehow monetise it. Setting up Moonbases would be beyond the resources of a single country; getting anything back would be equally much, or more.

Do we want a few men experiencing that, for the greater good of fuck all, or do we want science? Both isn't an option because we can't afford it. So what is it? More for less, or a few chosen people experiencing something? If you want the latter, good luck arguing your case - you've got romance on your side, but you don't have economics.

Re:Robots (1, Troll)

lgw (121541) | about 2 years ago | (#37781530)

He said it correctly. Dreams are important. Inspiration matters. Fuck you.

Re:Robots (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | about 2 years ago | (#37784048)

hahaha. i love the quality of discourse on slashdot.

at least the anonymous coward above bothered to write something sane, even if i disagree with him. it's hard to argue with a "fuck you" because it would just make both of us look like retards.

Your reasoning doesn't quite make sense (1)

arcite (661011) | about 2 years ago | (#37778208)

You're against spending any more money on space exploration yet you offer no logical reasons for this. Space has shown to be immensely profitable, we have hundreds of satellites up there, orbiting the earth, providing vital roles to keep our modern world going. The potential for energy generation and mineral extraction are tantalizing. Thanks to Virgin Galactic and other private ventures, in the next five years, we are going to have more humans go to space than we have had in the past fifty years! A Luddite such as yourself would probably deride tourism, but that doesn't change the fact that this is positively groundbreaking! You yourself may lack the vision and fortitude to tackle the challenges of space exploration and exploitation, but thankfully there are many individuals out there who are up to it.

Re:Your reasoning doesn't quite make sense (2)

Un pobre guey (593801) | about 2 years ago | (#37778670)

Ah yes, the old bait and switch. No, nobody is against sending satellites into orbit, exploring the solar system and beyond, and so forth. We are against wasting money on manned space exploration because far from being "immensely profitable" to society, it is a huge, useless money sink that is only "immensely profitable" for the highly influential military-industrial-congressional complex. This is not being a Luddite. Those of us who oppose manned space exploration are the most vigorous proponents of robotic space exploration and the general development and application of robotic technologies at the service of humans and human labor, hardly a Luddite cause. If Virgin Atlantic wants to make a space tourism business, fine. Knock yourselves out. Don't expect me to pay for it, though. I refuse to subsidize a bunch of wealthy assholes who want to enjoy an elitist and unbelievably expensive amusement park ride.

You yourself may lack the vision and fortitude to tackle the challenges of space exploration and exploitation, but thankfully there are many individuals out there who are up to it.
The tired old saw that manned space exploration has accomplished anything of importance. It really hasn't, aside from landing on the moon a few times at tremendous expense almost half a century ago. Our solar system has been and continues to be explored by robots, not by people. The universe is being observed with robotic telescopes, spectrometers, and many other devices with no need whatsoever of a human presence. You are acting like a child. You are a sci fi space adventure magical religious zealot who is unable to distinguish reality from fantasy. And a crybaby to boot.

Re:Your reasoning doesn't quite make sense (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | about 2 years ago | (#37779110)

Exactly! Though I don't even knock the military-industrial-congressional complex so much, partly because I'm not American and partly because there's a hell of a lot of money sloshing around in that system and it provides a hell of a lot of jobs and keeps alive a lot of manufacturing.

Re:Your reasoning doesn't quite make sense (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | about 2 years ago | (#37779070)

Yes, I lack the vision to see that spending the equivalent of a small country's GDP on putting three men onto Mars where they'll liable only get radiation poisoning anyway and go insane with tedium is the best thing that could ever happen to Earth!!!!!

Seriously, grow up.

"You're against spending any more money on space exploration"

No I'm not, I'm against spending more money on *manned* space exploration until there's something more useful that can come out of it than a few grainy shots of astronauts bouncing around on the Moon trying to justify their presence there.

"Yet you offer no logical reasons for this"

You're broke. So are we. Flushing untold billions and trillions down the drain to send a few men to Mars is not going to be a sensible plan. The usual retort is to point out the money that goes on the military. The military budget's can't be slashed *that* much. Of course, I guess dreamers such as yourselves don't care about the millions of jobs that are tied to defence contracts across the States alone, let alone in the rest of the developed world, and you're confident that there will never again be a need for an overwhelmingly powerful military force. It must be nice to have such faith in mankind.

"we have hundreds of satellites up there, orbiting the earth, providing vital roles to keep our modern world going"

Wow! Are they manned satellites!?!? I thought they were, you know, unmanned! A bit like robots! Gee.

"The potential for energy generation and mineral extraction are tantalizing"

Yeah, I believe I mentioned the opportunities of hte Moon. Forgive me for not wanting to blow our budgets even further chasing what may turn out to be one massive pipe dream until there is proof that it works. Proof that would not require a human presence, I might add.

"Thanks to Virgin Galactic and other private ventures, in the next five years, we are going to have more humans go to space than we have had in the past fifty years!"

Wheee! Achieving what, precisely? A few enormously wealthy men get to see the curvature of the Earth. The achievement is impressive but I'm waiting to see how getting a few millionaires into orbit is going to provide us with such immense profits as space doubtless provides. Surely we can achieve exactly the same by sending up fifty robots for every fat businessman? Yes. Yes, we could.

Re:Robots (4, Insightful)

Internetuser1248 (1787630) | about 2 years ago | (#37780416)

And your dream is worth pissing hundreds of billions of dollars down the shitter for?

You seem to be forgetting that money is imaginary. When talking about the future of the human race in general, which space exploration is certainly about, money is moot. The reality is about manpower and raw materials. While the cost of space exploration is high in both categories, the raw materials are an investment, as we are guaranteed to run out on earth (as long as we don't die out) and space promises vast untapped sources. In terms of manpower, we have a manpower surplus at the moment, the only sustainable labour sinks we have are war and space exploration. I stipulate that manned space exploration is rarely worthwhile, specifically it is only worthwhile in cases where humans are superior to machines at doing the required work. In 99% of space exploration the machines are far better. There are exceptions however, the ISS being a big one, I am fairly sure we cant fully automate all 0g research. The fact that there are exceptions also means that missions where humans aren't absolutely necessary are nevertheless useful as they pioneer techniques for the ones where humans are necessary. It also seems to me that one day machines will surpass humans in all remaining areas of space exploration, but when we get to that stage we should have various refueling stations around the solar system and the added cost of a bit of tourism is unlikely to be a major factor. Money is irrelevant and this world wide obsession with it we are currently experiencing is absurd and counter productive. I will pay you a billion monopoly dollars (digital images, you will have to print them off yourself) to allow us to continue the relevant parts of the discussion.

Re:Robots (2)

boristhespider (1678416) | about 2 years ago | (#37784208)

Yeah but you're forgetting that that imaginary money governs our lives. I'm aware that if the whole world at the same time decided to declare money imaginary we'd be able to do anything - but that's not the reality. Maybe if the developed nations of the world (including India and China, and obviously Russia, the EU and the USA) agreed to do this and fund it by a mutual fund then it would be great - but that won't happen, in all reality. The raw materials may be an investment, if it works out, but it may very well not.

And to be honest, if it *does* work out I can guarantee that any government worth its salt (which is probably most of them because they are at least advised by people who generally know something of what they're talking about) is going to be extremely cautious about risking the lives of their astronauts. The combination of cost - and it *is* an issue, although we may wish the economy to be set up differently - and the danger to human life is too much to do anything other than rely on robots for *at least* the initial stages and probably the bulk of it. It depends what we're doing.

I agere with you, the machines are the way to go, and there are times humans will be better. But the economical thing with humans will involve resources - mines, in particular. Beyond that I honestly cannot see the benefits.

Tourism is a total red herring. The money involved is minimal and the science even more so. We already know how to put people in low Earth orbit; all that the space tourism companies are doing is trying to find a way of putting people in even lower orbit cheaply, and that for a pretty short amount of time. If there's a future in space it's in things that are actually of benefit to humanity - rare earths and metals are the things that spring to mind the most, along with somewhere to let the excesses of industry go unnoticed - rather than any dream.

People have raised the discovery of America. I don't want to offend any Americans but seriously, do you think it was discovered on a dream? If so, you want to go back to your history books. It was discovered on the hope of a short route to the far East. Pure economics. Someone took a gamble, sure, but they weren't funding an expedition for glory, they were funding it for pure money. (If we go further back, the Vikings went for lumber - because it was a lot cheaper to go to northern Canada than it was to go to Norway.) Otherwise people are raising dreams. I've never said dreams aren't great - but they're not reality. Reality is what we can buy and what we can afford, within the system we have.

Also, one final point, you seem to be forgetting that I am not in any way opposed to the exploration of space. What I'm opposed to is throwing away money and resources on *manned* space exploration. We can send ten robotic missions up and have five fail and still be well ahead of where we would be with one manned mission... which could very well fail losing both the money and the trained astronauts. Robots are cheaper, frankly, and a lot less contentious because no-one cares if a robot is splattered across the face of Mars because two teams in NASA used different units.

Re:Robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37777416)

Life is fragile. We can send many more robots to many more locations. If the robots find something cool, we can send one of us out after it. Whatever we find has already waited billions of years for us to find it. Having a robot discover it first may delay human contact for what 50-1000 years. That is fairly insignificant when you look at it that way. And that will give us time to find better, faster, cheaper ways of doing it later.

Re:Robots (1)

CubicleView (910143) | about 2 years ago | (#37777942)

I didn't watch the video but I’ll give my opinion anyway since this is /. after all. Anyway, space exploration, either robot or manned, is critical to the long term safety of mankind. So, significant amounts of money and time should be invested into research and development. That said though, I feed we need to slow down the number of launches. Launches simply cost too much money, and I'm not convinced that they return enough to warrant their expense. Is now really the time to be considering sending a man to Mars? What will we learn from the mission if it succeeds, and will there be another mission if it fails? I'd prefer to see that money used to further terrestrial development of improved propulsion systems.

Re:Robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37779788)

Robots have done great with Mars. The cost to any space program of an astronaut being supported all the way out and back is staggering - let alone if something should happen to him/her.

Besides, we can send dozens of robots for the cost of development and embarking on a single manned mission.

Why whould I buy a car when I can get 10 pencils for a fraction of the cost?
If I want a car the pencils are just another expense that puts me farther away from my goal.

So yes, the robots worked well, but that is not what I want.

Re:Robots (1)

Radical Moderate (563286) | about 2 years ago | (#37780218)

A car can do a lot of things a pencil can't. What can a man do on Mars that a robot can't?

Re:Robots (1)

lgw (121541) | about 2 years ago | (#37781616)

Inspire people with a frontiering spirit to get into science and engineering. Be the first step on the long road to established human life somewhere other than Earth. I give not even one shit about any science NASA does on missions - it's the vision and inspiration that matters. The notion that it's important to think beyond here and now, to have (literally) lofty goals. To do something really hard to do, to show what man is capable of (and to get all the nice byproducts of the research needed to make htta happen).

Re:Robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37789284)

Well Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt covered more ground and conducted more science in 3 days on the Moon, than Spirit of Opportunity did in 5 years on Mars. There is no doubt that people can conduct orders of magnitude more science in space than robots, the question is, is that science worth the orders of magnitude more cost

Re:Robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37783430)

The cost to any space program of an astronaut being supported all the way out and back is staggering - let alone if something should happen to him/her.

If the first people on Mars don't care about coming back, the cost of bringing them back is zero.

Re:Robots (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#37784004)

I hate that false dichotomy. The argument is n[pt Manned or robotos for space; it's anned AND robotics.
The only real question is: WHat's the mission and whats the goal?

If you are going tlo drill through a sheet of ice to look for life on a moon thats awash with extreme raistion and it will take months? then Robotic. Simple.
Want to get an overview and just some surface sampling to run a few minor experiments on? robotic.
Want a lot of work done quickly? Manned/. Want to prove we can put a person their and bring them back? manned. Want something that can observe more accurately? Manned.
And even then, every manned mission should have robots to help.

And so on.

Re:Robots (1)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#37788066)

The problem then becomes developing robots that are anywhere near as capable as a human being. A human on Mars would take a lot more support than, for example, Spirit and Opportunity, but would be able to cover all the ground they've covered in a small fraction of the time they've taken.

Podcasts (3, Informative)

Myopic (18616) | about 2 years ago | (#37777024)

I know these names from some of my favorite podcasts. I'm going to toss them out here for people who aren't familiar with them, and please respond with similar podcasts if you love some.

The Skeptics Guide To The Universe (sponsored by JREF)
AstronomyCast (Pamela Gay)
NOVA scienceNOW or NOVA|PBS (often features Tyson)
Planetary Radio (Bill Nye The Planetary Guy)
Skeptoid (related topics by Brian Dunning)
Radiolab (related topics, best of the best of the best)

Excuse the half-off-topic post, please.

Re:Podcasts (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | about 2 years ago | (#37779046)

some of my favorite podcasts as well.

Re:Podcasts (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#37784094)

BigPictureScience - SETI
Skepticality is a good one.
Quackcast is excellent and snarky.

Penn Juliet had a radio show/podcast. I recommend finding those. It only ran for a year.

Skeptoid is weak sauce.

Re:Podcasts (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#37791632)

You don't like Skeptoid? I like that it is single-topic and about 10-to-15 minutes long. I also like that Dunning usually has his facts straight before he records, which sets him apart from, say, Stuff You Should Know.

Robotics are here to stay (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 years ago | (#37777110)

1. There's many places a person can't go, manned missions are limited to LEO, Moon and possibly Mars. I do assume we want to explore the rest of the solar system?

2. Even if we send manned missions, we will probably want lots of robotics to make it work well. So it's not robotics or humans, it's more should we have humans at all.

3. What about missions vs telescopes? Pardon me for saying so, but right now the solar system isn't where the most exciting news are happening. Apart from absurdly outliving all lifetime expectations, I haven't heard of any revolutionary news from the rovers.

Apart from exoplanets, I'd be most interested in a dry-run dome construction on Mars with pressure, temperature, oxygen, radiation controls and so on. Build astronaut replacements that burn oxygen and otherwise mimics an actual astronaut living there. In other words, a complete on-site simulation through robotics. If all goes well, then send humans.

Re:Robotics are here to stay (2)

boristhespider (1678416) | about 2 years ago | (#37777262)

You'd also have to make the robots piss urine and shit, well, shit - and process that from organic materials grown on-site. That would be one interesting project, designing that.

Re:Robotics are here to stay (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37779954)

Well, Or you could just send a monkey o.o

Re:Robotics are here to stay (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | more than 2 years ago | (#37788176)

Well, yes. Or you could just send a monkey, but it would be a lot more impressive the other way...

Re:Robotics are here to stay (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | about 2 years ago | (#37777912)

Apart from absurdly outliving all lifetime expectations, I haven't heard of any revolutionary news from the rovers.

Plenty of good things came out of the rover missions that can be used for the future.

1) Prooved that the air-breaking into the Martian atmosphere (considered risky due to the low atmosphere there) works- and can be used for future missions.

2) Increased evidence for a liquid presence beneath the surface. (yes, we suspected- but these things are incremental- now we're almost certain).

3) Great concept proven that we can send these rovers over space and it works. Again, to be built upon in future missions.

4) Photographs from the surface of Mars! From the surface from moveable buggies... how can you not consider that absolutely cool!

5) Increased evidence that there may have been, and may still be life on mars from chemical signatures sniffed. We keep getting more and more coincidental evidence from various sources- rovers added to this.

The rover missions have been an overwhelming success. Not just for now- but as concepts for future missions.

Re:Robotics are here to stay (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#37780098)

The rover missions have been an overwhelming success.

Most of them were, but there was that one that briefly saw something that looked like a giant robot and then abruptly cut its transmission...

Re:Robotics are here to stay (1)

lgw (121541) | about 2 years ago | (#37781662)

Sure, robots then man makes good sense. Robots instead of man is bullshit - it's quite unlikely these missions will inspire legions of smart young robots to enter science or engineering.

Re:Robotics are here to stay (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | about 2 years ago | (#37781994)

Well NASA's goals for the rovers were to pave the way for manned voyages.

We're not ready to send a man to mars yet- so until then robots all the way.

Just like the original space program developed all sorts of new technologies- I have absolutely no doubt that sending a man to Mars will do the same thing.

From insulation, to medicine, to power supplies, to nutrition- there are no end of fields that could benefit from sending a man to mars because we will have to solve various problems.

There will be pay-offs we can't predict now, just like there was from the moon landing.

That said- I fully back the martian rovers they were a brilliant success.

Reset priorities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37777854)

As a rocket scientist, I think we should spend our dwindling resources on pure research 10%, development of new components 25%, 15% to co-payments to privately funded manned and unmanned missions, with another magical contingent 15% (leading to 115%) going to insurance to replentish capital on 70% of flight losses. That's 50%. The remaining 50% should be continued payments to contractors for hardware and launch services. The contractor base should be actively widened for some of that to smaller and newer suppliers with reduced burden to sign-on.

The recent $10m offered to 7 or so sub-orbital companies was a true pittance and should be expanded to 14 more.

etereo.com.br for a space trip now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37777908)

Space is the last frontier. But I am not sure if we humans actually deserve to conquer space and spread our greed and selfishness around the universe.

Just out of curiosity, if you have OpenGL 2.1 support in your Windows PC, you can explore entire planets right now: http://www.etereo.com.br.

Re:etereo.com.br for a space trip now (2)

garyebickford (222422) | about 2 years ago | (#37779206)

We are life. When we go, life goes. When we colonize, we are/carry the seeds of life. Life is greedy, selfish, etc. - that's what Life is. It concentrates resources in order to maintain its living state. Compared to a wolf or an amoeba, we have a pretty high level of altruism within tribes, within the species, and with respect to all other Life and even inanimate resources. The fact that we complain about how greedy and selfish we are illustrates the fact that we care at all about such things. Most Life doesn't give a whit, except in so far as it affects its self-interest.

Life carries within it the imperative to live, to grow, to expand, to adapt. We are just the first component of Terran Life (that we know of) that has the ability to carry our Life beyond this planet. As such we may be the critical seed for the Universe. If Life has arisen only on Earth, who are we to prevent that expansion? Even if Life exists elsewhere, our own expansion will eventually be critical to survival of the Terran strain of Life.

Robots are great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37778212)

But you're a broken part or a line of code away from blowing 300 million dollars.

Watch the video! (4, Insightful)

Frenzied Apathy (2473340) | about 2 years ago | (#37778832)

I'm only 20 minutes into watching the video and I find it quite a fascinating discussion.

If you have ANY interest in government involvement in space exploration, I urge you to take the time to watch this video.

Bye - I'm goin' back to watch the video...

Re:Watch the video! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37781764)

take the time to watch this video

Why? We have no future in space. Space exploration requires large amounts of money. We have decided to balkanize ourselves around our welfare state while simultaneously evacuating our industrial base to Asia because it's too dirty, or something. We have no money so there is no future for US space exploration.

Those last few big dollar projects (JWST, for example) will not be succeeded by new projects. Not by us, that is. If you want to explore space learn Chinese.

Re:Watch the video! (2)

Frenzied Apathy (2473340) | about 2 years ago | (#37782172)

I challenge you to watch the video. Tyson makes a very strong argument that the U.S. can, indeed, support a robust space program.

Competition (2)

Jazari (2006634) | about 2 years ago | (#37779166)

The only way humans will go to Mars will be if a new Cold War starts. I'm happy that Neil deGrasse Tyson eloquently raised this point with the audience (~minute 28). To get more funding for science, we really need to play up the geo-political advantages. Appealing to the love of knowledge might convince the Slashdot crowd, but it won't pry open the coffers of any nation.

Maybe it's just me... (1)

Radical Moderate (563286) | about 2 years ago | (#37780296)

but spending a trillion dollars to win a pissing contest while we're cutting Social Security, selling off parks, and laying off tens of thousands of government employees seems, I don't know, kind of stupid.

Re:Maybe it's just me... (1)

halo_2_rocks (805685) | about 2 years ago | (#37781640)

Agreed. There is NOTHING and I mean nothing out there that needs a manned mission right now. Maybe in a few thousand years from now when we have fusion generators and have really advanced in technology where is it realistic to go to Mars and other planets it would make sense. Let the Chinese race back to the moon and to mars. Long duration living on moons will greatly shorten anyone who goes there lifespan and Mars is just suicide at this point. There are just so many ways for someone to die going to Mars it is ridiculous and it would be incredibly expensive given our technology level.

Re:Maybe it's just me... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#37784184)

Mars could use a manned mission. Preferably one with a lab and a big ass drill to pull up many layers of soil.

We can, right now, build a settlement on Mars. We have the technology. Just not the will; which is a shame becasue the same tech to get people to mars would save a boat load of lives here.

"here are just so many ways for someone to die going to [inser variable]it is ridiculous and it would be incredibly expensive given our technology level."
Lis of variable:

The next valley
the next island
across the ocean
across north America
to the moon.
To the store.

Re:Maybe it's just me... (1)

halo_2_rocks (805685) | more than 2 years ago | (#37786954)

We don't have the technology. It is just science fiction and in your head. Anyone that tries it today with today's technology is dead and dead. Between the radiation that they would be exposed to (from the sun alone) and micrometeorites, anyone going is dead. And there is just no good reason to go either. There is nothing on Mars (or the Moon) that we need. Maybe in a few thousand years when we have the technology to travel to planets like mars safely and in numbers, then it would make sense. But, now it is a ridiculous proposition and an expensive waste of time. Thank god we don't have the money now to waste on stupid things like this.

Re:Maybe it's just me... (1)

Jazari (2006634) | about 2 years ago | (#37782136)

but spending a trillion dollars to win a pissing contest while we're cutting Social Security, selling off parks, and laying off tens of thousands of government employees seems, I don't know, kind of stupid.

A trillion? The cost is estimated in the low tens of billions ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manned_mission_to_Mars#ESA.2FRussia_plan_.282002.29 [wikipedia.org] , and http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/ask/humans-on-mars/Cost_of_Manned_Mars_Mission.txt [nasa.gov] ). By comparison, the entire Apollo program cost only $150 billion in 2010 dollars, the Iraq war cost $1 trillion, and the War on Drugs costs $10 billion every year.

Given that the Apollo program galvanized world opinion in favor of the USA and the values it represents, motivated an army of youngsters to become scientists, and resulted in innumerable technological spin-offs and benefits, I'd say it was well worth it. It will be well worth it to repeat these feats in the future.

As for Social Security, it costs $700 billion every year, but can be made solvent again simply by raising the retirement back to the level it was when the program was first created.

Re:Maybe it's just me... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#37784290)

It is solvent.
And I would love to see it LOWERED to it's original age of 65 as opposed to 67.

Re:Maybe it's just me... (1)

halo_2_rocks (805685) | more than 2 years ago | (#37788322)

It won't cost in the low tens of billions to go to Mars. With today's technology, if you wanted to go (and not kill everyone in the process) you literally have to put an armored space station up there and send it to mars. You'd need meters of lead between them and the sun for example just to keep them from dying from radiation exposure to the sun. That is going to cost 100's of billions to launch into space. You'd need a massive space ship with rotating sections to provide micro-gravity for the long time it would take to get there (months). You'd need the ship highly armored with many self-sealing sections for when it is punctured by micrometeorites (and those still might kill the crew). The cost would easily get into the trillions of dollars to do all that and you have still have to land (that might kill them if you don't have a pretty fool-proof system) and return (which might kill them as well even with all that). With our current level of technology, going to Mars safely and not killing everyone in the process is going to be unbelievably expensive and even with all that money - it is going to have at least a few people die along the way and in coming back.

Re:Maybe it's just me... (1)

jwilso91 (1920940) | more than 2 years ago | (#37790292)

It won't cost in the low tens of billions to go to Mars. With today's technology, if you wanted to go (and not kill everyone in the process) you literally have to put an armored space station up there and send it to mars. You'd need meters of lead between them and the sun for example just to keep them from dying from radiation exposure to the sun. That is going to cost 100's of billions to launch into space. You'd need a massive space ship with rotating sections to provide micro-gravity for the long time it would take to get there (months). You'd need the ship highly armored with many self-sealing sections for when it is punctured by micrometeorites (and those still might kill the crew)...

The sky is falling, eh?

The ISS has been floating in a far more hostile micrometeorite environment than either interplanetary travel or Mars orbit represents. For years. (And only occasionally has to dodge a flying bolt.) Think of all the debris we've added to the near-Earth region - all that is missing, at least for now, from the rest of the solar system.

As for radiation, there is no doubt that cosmic rays, and even more so, solar activity, represent a risk. However, the MARIE instrument on the Mars Odyssey probe (designed specifically to quantify this) indicated that even a long conjunction-type mission to Mars would likely not exceed the 1 to 4 Sieverts recommended as a career maximum for LEO activities. (To be fair, MARIE gave its life in pursuit of this study, but it was completely unshielded from solar events. Just about every Mars mission plan includes a shielded safe haven for the crew, and we can now give good warning of solar radiation events.) I suspect that there is no shortage of astronauts that would give far more than their career radiation exposure limit to be part of a crew to Mars.

Re:Maybe it's just me... (1)

halo_2_rocks (805685) | more than 2 years ago | (#37790628)

You really don't know very much about the difference between near orbit and travelling in the solar system do you? ISS is in near earth orbit for example. It is protected by the earth's magnetic field so the Sun's solar radiation doesn't kill the inhabitants. In fact, if you go to the Moon, you are still in the field and so you don't need as much protection. The earth's magnetic shield is just that large. However, if you leave the earth's electromagnetic field (like go to Mars), you will be saturated with solar radiation and DIE!!! - end of story. Also, the Earth has a huge gravitational mass. It acts like a huge vacuum sucking up the micrometeorites. Again, once you leave the earth gravitational field, same effect. You get struct by micrometeorites at a certain rate. For a robot, that isn't usually very catastrophic. However, for us, that is a different story. We get hit by them in just a few places and we just die. Throw on top of that all the food, fuel, and everything else you need to get there and it is easily a very expensive proposition. To sum it up, going to mars is science fiction and no-one is going to go there in the next few centuries since it would be just too expensive and nobody wants to go on a suicide mission. Maybe in a few thousand years it will be possible, but right now. NO CHANCE.

Re:Maybe it's just me... (1)

KahabutDieDrake (1515139) | about 2 years ago | (#37782460)

I wonder if you would feel the same way if, in 1956 they had felt as you do. You would not have computers. You would not have internet. You would not have refrigeration technology that is clean, self contained and safe. You would not have "freeze dried" foods, you would not have satelites, or geo-imaging. You wouldn't have super sonic aircraft. Among the many other things you would not have today, if it were not for the cold war and the space program.

I understand your point, it's time to get the budget under control, however, I think we could probably just stop going to war half way around the world and get that handled just fine. In fact, I have proposal. End all active US occupations, reroute all the personnel and money into space projects, including "fuel scooping" from stars or gas giants. All the hydrocarbons or heavy elements you could possibly use in 100 generations are sitting out there just waiting for someone to take them. Not only would this give our military the continued and further "edge" that makes them the "best". (you want orbital insertion drop ships, admit it) But it also means that the silly oil reserves in the middle east are worthless and tiny when taken against the vast resources of Jupiter and her moons.

OR, you can continue to decry space funding, while enjoying your position on top of the world... until the resources really do start to get thin, and then what? WAR. And if you are very very lucky, China will be on your side. If you aren't, your country might survive long enough to become a third world hell hole. By which point it will be too late to get into space, because morons without any foresight decided that it was a waste of money when there were more pressing humanitarian needs. FFS. They aren't mutually exclusive. In fact, large portions are inclusive. But I don't figure the people here complaining about space funding are likely to grasp that.

Re:Maybe it's just me... (1)

halo_2_rocks (805685) | more than 2 years ago | (#37788374)

It is mutually exclusive. Going to mars is a trillion dollar + nightmare and HUGE waste of money. If china wants to go to the moon and mars, let them. There is nothing out there that we need. We can invent plenty of technology without going and who cares if china succeeds (I promise you they won't - even living on the moon for an extended period of time is a death sentence due to radiation exposure and low gravity). We don't need to waste our money and stupid adventures like this any more. We have more pressing matters here on earth.

Re:Maybe it's just me... (1)

jwilso91 (1920940) | more than 2 years ago | (#37790418)

It is mutually exclusive. Going to mars is a trillion dollar + nightmare and HUGE waste of money. If china wants to go to the moon and mars, let them. There is nothing out there that we need...

I would submit that humanity is in serious need of new frontiers.

tl;dw (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#37779214)

Too long; didn't watch. Can someone with more free time please summarise, since TFS didn't bother to?

Re:tl;dw (2)

MachDelta (704883) | about 2 years ago | (#37782554)

C'mon. It's Bill Nye the muddafuggin Science Guy, Neil deFrikkinGrasse Tyson, the Slacker Astronomy chick, and the physicist who wrote "The Physics of Star Trek". Bill is awesome (as always), Tyson and Krauss spend half their time lobbing verbal jabs at each other, and Dr. Gay throws in a couple insightful points.

The fuck else do you need here to buy in? A flashing neon sign saying "Naked Ladies" ?
Trust me, It's an hour well spent. :)

Re:tl;dw (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#37784308)

True awesome can't be summarized.

oration by Neil deGrasse Tyson (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37779812)

There is a fabulous oration by Neil deGrasse Tyson during the Q&A, in response to a statement that "we can't afford" space exploration. Alone this makes the 53 minutes a worthwhile investment in time.

Re:oration by Neil deGrasse Tyson (2)

SidIncognito (953776) | about 2 years ago | (#37780200)

I love his passion.

I was in the audience at this event and this was probably the most popular session of the weekend. There were some restless murmurs in the crowd when Tyson didn't speak for several minutes at the start. He just stared straight ahead, but he soon made up for it.

I likened it to a scene from one of those kung fu movies where the master drinks quietly while a fight breaks out around him, before he suddenly jumps in and starts kicking ass.

Re:oration by Neil deGrasse Tyson (3, Interesting)

Mycroft_VIII (572950) | about 2 years ago | (#37780460)

No mod points and the ac above me is sitting at 0.
    "There is a fabulous oration by Neil deGrasse Tyson during the Q&A, in response to a statement that "we can't afford" space exploration. Alone this makes the 53 minutes a worthwhile investment in time."

and the ac is mostly right except that it was in response to no money for manned space exploration, though Tyson's response applies to the whole of science and space exploration.

Mycroft

Re:oration by Neil deGrasse Tyson (2)

Sarius64 (880298) | about 2 years ago | (#37781342)

We have no low gravity develop or test facilities for research. Robots take too damn long to develop a single research line. Ten people on a Moon/Mars base would develop more in one year than 100 years of robots researching. Business cases that take 5 to 10 years for a single research line. We have no industry developed in space to take advantage of there might be in a space use case.

Yeah, but (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#37786590)

We've got millions of unemployed people with nothing better to do with their day.

We need to refocus (1)

kelarius (947816) | about 2 years ago | (#37781948)

I think all this arguing over cost helps to illustrate my frustrations with the manned space programs thus far. While I support manned exploration if for only that fact that it is hugely inspiring to a people (and don't discount the intangible effects of morale) their prohibitive cost and single mindedness of national pride keeps us from being able to successfully pursue it. All of the detractors in here keep going on and on about how expensive it is to send people into space and all of the supporters keep going on and on about how it's worth it and we'll never go if we don't just suck it up and spend Portugal's GDP on getting there already and to both of you groups I say GROW THE FUCK UP, COMPROMISE, AND FIND A WAY TO MAKE IT WORK FOR BOTH OF YOU!

The main reason WHY its so damned expensive to send men into space and to other places in the solar system is because its stupidly expensive to get things into LEO, all this talk about escaping earth's gravity well is expensive is bullshit, once you're up there, you can choose just about any means of propulsion you want and it will move you out of orbit, just a question of what speed you want to do so at. If you want to get a permanent manned presence in space what you need to do is lower the cost of getting into orbit, plain and simple. I bet if we could lower the cost of getting into orbit by 50% or so (not inconceivable in our lifetimes) we can seriously start to build up an infrastructure from which we can make a business case for exploiting resources in other locations in our solar system.

If we're going to have a manned future in space, and I think we all realize that we need to in the long run, we need to focus on building up our ability to get there cheaply, and this just hasn't been a priority for any government agency since spaceflight's inception. I know that there are many corporations out there right now, SpaceX specifically, that are focused on doing just that but they're still using the same technologies which are more or less proven to not be mass producible in any way to provide us with truly inexpensive access to space and I dont think that they will ever be successful in getting us a useful foothold in LEO for us to expand off of. For us to be really able to expand out of LEO, we need to shift our focus away from the romantic missions to moon/mars/asteroid for a while and start focusing on developing new technologies and methods for getting into ORBIT cheaply, from there we can start to look at going other places and reaping the wealth that is present in so many ways in our own system and beyond.

The answer to the question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37781988)

"Where do we spend our dwindling monetary science funding, manned or robotic exploration?"

That's easy. Both.

Position manned spacecraft in intermediate positions between distant robotic craft and the earth to ameliorate the time lag for missions that require timely human intervention. Certainly in the case of Jupiter where the radiation and magnetic fields are very harsh robotic spacecraft will be necessary. But Jupiter is where mind-boggling amounts of energy is so that's probably where we'll want to go.

Life? Who cares about life. We already have too much life. That's all we'll need to do is bring weed-eaters and bug spray with us to outer-space.

But.. But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37786048)

What about keeping all our eggs in a single basket, and chewing the shit out of it. What chance does humanity have here? GTFO or behave like You do, like You're all dead allready.

Tyson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37787794)

Anyone else pick up from his body language that he cant stand Bill Nye. His posture and face just read "I am superior to this buffoon in a bow tie"

Excellent video (1)

slasho81 (455509) | more than 2 years ago | (#37790844)

Excellent video! This is exactly news for nerds and stuff that matters.
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  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>