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Deathmatch On Mars: an Interview With Warren Ellis

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the read-it-for-the-illustrations dept.

Mars 94

pigrabbitbear writes "Iconic comic book writer (Transmetropolitan, Planetary, Red), cult novelist (Crooked Little Vein), futurist intellectual, and beloved Internet curmudgeon Warren Ellis, known for his impassioned arguments for space travel, talks to Motherboard about Newt Gingrich's presidential plans for lunar colonies and conquering Mars." Warren Ellis does not mince words.

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All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38849437)

And actually, all politicians in general. But these assholes spewing letting the church govern the USA and lowering the tax rates for the rich to 0% (allowing them to funnel even more money to the Caymans) boggles my mind. No jobs created there, my friends!

Re:All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (0)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849549)

And actually, all politicians in general. But these assholes spewing letting the church govern the USA and lowering the tax rates for the rich to 0% (allowing them to funnel even more money to the Caymans) boggles my mind. No jobs created there, my friends!

Strawman. No current politician has suggested handing over control of the government to any church and no one is suggesting that the "rich" pay 0% in taxes.

Re:All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38849627)

You're right, no one suggests it out loud.

Re:All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850871)

Yeah, so let's just make up shit and ignore the actual terrible destructive policies that they keep setting in stone.

Re:All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38852711)

Well, I feel like an alien. I mean, the aliens won't respect our "currency", nor our "policies". I don't see why I should, either.

Re:All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (4, Informative)

dragonsomnolent (978815) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849673)

Rick Santorum: "our civil laws have to comport with a higher law: God's law." So no, technically not "handing control over the government" to the church, but....

Re:All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38849727)

I don't have a dog in this fight. My preferred candidates either didn't run or imploded on impact. Theists, or not. The Republicans are NOT Barack Hussein Obama. That is enough reason to vote G.O.P.

Re:All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38849801)

Since you provide no concrete reasons/facts for your comments, one is left to surmise that your a bigoted raciest like the rest of your GOP brethren that spew similar hate speech.

Re:All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (3, Insightful)

thrich81 (1357561) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849909)

I agree with you 100% but Slashdot is at its worst (and that is saying a lot) when it devolves into a USA Republican vs Democrat debate except in the very rare occasions where there is a clear policy difference between the two which concerns a technical subject (maybe climate change, too). I'd suggest to ignore the partisan trolls and maybe they will go away and infest some other sites.

Re:All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (2)

Muros (1167213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849945)

I thought the theist versus atheist debates were usually worse, although they seem to be the same groups of people. After all, from an outside perspective, religion appears to be the defining difference between the two parties. I know there must be more, since polls say most Americans are theists, but that is the only difference I see.

Re:All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (4, Insightful)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850341)

I think Republicans would like religion to be the defining difference between the two parties. They have certainly pulled out all the stops in pandering to know-nothing theocrats, but in fact the great majority of Democrats as well as independents and Republicans profess religion and for the most part the religion they profess is some form of Christianity.

The difference on religion is mainly between Republicans who see nothing wrong with the government promoting their religion and most everybody else who think the government should be restricted from involving itself with religious belief.

To me, the more defining issue is economic. Republicans want an unregulated market and don't tax the rich. Democrats want the government to make everybody play nice and use taxes to help poor people get a leg up.

Independents apparently can't decide or worse can't distinguish between those approaches.

Re:All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38851115)

No, not partisan at all.

Anyway, you have a huge assumption that seems to be the root of your political beliefs. Democrats may want the government to make everyone play nice, but no body seems able to make the government play nice. A funny thing happens when you build giant institutions that wield great power--people show up to use it for their own purposes.

Re:All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849927)

your a bigoted raciest like the rest of your GOP brethren

Good thing you don't overgeneralize either. I might be tempted to call you a hypocrite.

Re:All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851393)

If I go back 20 years, I can find a lot of Republicans who weren't bigots and also weren't racists. Today, I don't know anyone who is both a Republican, and isn't either bigoted or racist. If you have a Republican candidate in mind who isn't either bigoted, or racist, perhaps you would tell me who this is, so I could examine him. (Yesterday, or perhaps the day before, someone claimed that Ron Paul was a racist, and gave things that I could check to determine whether or not it was correct. I haven't yet done so, as I've been busy, and it hasn't seemed important. If you have a candidate in mind, perhaps you could be equally specific.)

OTOH, I will agree that there are some people I know who aren't *both* bigoted and racist. (There can be rational reasons for being racist. And one can be a bigot in some areas without being racist.) So I'd also be interested if you favor a candidate that is only one of the two.

Re:All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851525)

The only person who said anything about candidates is you. GP said party, as in GOP, so I assumed he meant all Republicans which would be millions of people. I'm not thrilled with anyone currently running, Obama included. I voted for Nader in 2008 and have no idea whom I'd support this time.

Re:All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 2 years ago | (#38855317)

I said candidates, because as they are public figures they are relatively easy to check on. The other comment was based on my personal acquaintences, and they can't be checked by anyone besides me. Public figures is the real criterion, but I must admit that if I don't have a chance to vote either for or against them, I'll be less interested in them. If I happen to know that the chief executive of a corporation is a bigot (in a way that irritates me) or a racist (for reasons that I don't accept) then about all I can do is boycott the corporation. If it's a politician then I can have a smidgeon more effect. (And for corporations, I'm more interested in what the corporation does than in the character of the CEO, though admittedly there's a large correlation.)

If no suggestion of a checkable Republican who's neither bigoted nor racist is given, then I'll continue to presume that those who support them support the characteristics that they exhibit. I suppose that just supporting a bigot or a racist doesn't mean they you are one, but it certainly means that you are supportive of those actions.

Re:All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857023)

Painting the entire party based on what public figures do is overgeneralizing. Should I say all Democrats are lieing, opportunistic, slimy used car salesmen just because Obama, Kerry, and Edwards are? I spent over 7 years in the Marine Corps, where Marines vote oeverwhelmingly republican, and they are the least bigoted people you'll ever meet. We say LIght Green and Dark Green instean of black and white, because there is only green in the Corps and skin color only matters when you're talking about Sgt Smith (was that the light green Sgt Smith or the dark green Sgt Smith?). I've personally known hundreds of Marines, and have met thousads, and they are finest, noblest, kindest people I've met in this country, and I don't appreciate your attempts at painting all party members in the same way.

Re:All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858981)

If you want to paint the people who support those Democrats as that, I wouldn't object. Did you think I supported the Democrats (i.e., the public figures and those who support them) because I consider the Republicans (i.e., the public figures and those who support them) as either bigots or racists, and often crazy to boot?

I consider Obama to be a lieing abusive ... perhaps I'd better not go on. But this doesn't mean I want to support a real loon. When I look at the choices, I'm probably going to vote third party. If I *must* waste my vote, I at least don't want to vote in favor of someone who intends to injure me.

And *YOU* may consider the marines to be the "finest, noblest, kindest people", but there are very many who would disagree with you. And if they support a loon, then they support a loon. Actually, I suspect that marines, when not in the line of duty, are very supportive of their in-group. This doesn't mean that they are supportive of those who *aren't* in their in-group. (It also doesn't mean they aren't, of course.) However I have observed marines, "in the line of duty", being quite abusive to innocuous people. So I suspect that the people who dislike them may have good reasons. When decent people will do what autocrats dictate without allowing their own ethical judgement, they stop being decent people.

Re:All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (3, Insightful)

turgid (580780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38859483)

As a token non-American reading this thread, I'd just like to say, that of all the candidates running, the rest of the world would much prefer Obama to get in for a second term.

There's a reason Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize: it was to say thank you to America for at last no electing a foaming-at-the-mouth isolationist war-monger.

Re:All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38862693)

I saw that link about Ron Paul being racist, turns out it linked to Ron Paul's website where there is a video and a black man tells a story how Paul provided his services to him and his wife for free, (they had a stillbirth) Maybe there's something else which talks about him being racist, but that's what I saw. It was a strange setup, a strangely unsettling story and it was a bit like when people say "I'm not racist, hey I've got black friends" or something along those lines, but a bit unsettling and genuine but that does seem to be the modus operandi of Ron Paul.

Re:All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850879)

Actually, they are, just like BO is Bush III. Same policies, different spin. Same means, same ends.

Re:All the Republicans are Loony Tunes (1)

Paracelcus (151056) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851345)

The definition of a true villain is someone who cannot make a statement without using either the flag or the cross to make a point!
Santorum is a mealy mouthed, phony hypocrite!
Gingrich is a slimy, bulbous, crooked toad!
Romney is a lying, crooked, rich, opportunistic predator!
Paul is just too damn old.

And Obama? HAH!

Find a "third" party (there are many) that represent your viewpoints and vote for them!

The farther and more unattainable the dream... (4, Insightful)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849443)

...the easier it is to promise

Re:The farther and more unattainable the dream... (4, Funny)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850263)

And it's time for that to stop. That's why I promise that if I receive the nomination of my party and am elected, then by 2016, I will put a stop to politicians promising things that they cannot possibly deliver!

Re:The farther and more unattainable the dream... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850671)

The moon only seems far away because Obama killed our space program. That doesn't mean it HAS to be like that! We just need a president with a better vision, and Obama just isn't it. It's time to move on so we can progress, the less roadblocks the better.

Re:The farther and more unattainable the dream... (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851431)

Our space program was essentially dead long before Obama was elected. That's one thing you can't fairly blame him for. You could blame many different people, back as far as President Johnson, who ensured it's death by not turning it into something more useful than a race. And each of his successors made things worse. Obama just finally killed something that was already long moribund (i.e., death bound).

Wasted money for decades (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38849497)

Every new President has a space dream. And Congress has a different dream. In the end they make a compromise that does nothing but keeps jobs in Utah, California, and Florida.

I wonder how many times we could have gone to Mars and back with the money wasted in these compromises (like the ISS and the Space Shuttle)?

Re:Wasted money for decades (2)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849743)

It just took not wanting Russia to beat us before, maybe it will just take not wanting China to beat us now.

Re:Wasted money for decades (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38849965)

Russia had no money before. This time, China has all your money.

Re:Wasted money for decades (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850993)

Not our money, anymore than we had Russia's money. We have adopted a system where we don't produce anything, and take what amounts to charity from our rivals in order to keep up appearances, and in so doing, become dependent on them. Once their support is withdrawn, well, tear down this wall.

Space travel is next big step (2)

thesuperbigfrog (715362) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849539)

Space travel, real space travel not jaunts into earth orbit, is the most-challenging problem of our lifetimes.

If you like sci-fi, the Manifold series by Stephen Baxter [amazon.com] (not a referrer link) makes a great argument about space travel and how "big dumb" technology from the past can be harnessed smartly to lower the costs.

We certainly will need more than reuse of old technology, but it is a start.

Re:Space travel is next big step (3, Informative)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849695)

I call BS. Artificial intelligence is more difficult, and gets us more benefits in the end. We get any practical space travel as a side effect of solving AI.

Re:Space travel is next big step (2)

HiThere (15173) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851543)

AI has greater benefits, but is also likely to have greater dangers.

OTOH, there are several people who believe that with proper funding, they could build an AI using just what they've already developed. They may, of course, be wrong, but it's difficult to be certain of that, because computation is still so expensive. To build a computer as powerful as the human brain is something that not even IBM has yet attempted. Watson ran on something that might have a powerful a brain as a terrapin. (That's a wild guess. Don't take it seriously. It's a double order of magnitude approximation.)

Still, one needs to remember that a lot of our brain's computation power is used to control our body. But it's also true that a lot of our thinking is done based on models of the world that we derive from sensations received by our body, and those sensors (well, something equivalent) would be needed by any strong AI that was intended to solve problems in the world and communicate the solutions to people. So it's not clear how much can be saved.

For that matter, *I* have a theory of "How to build a stong AI", but my problem isn't just funding, I have theoretical problems that I can't solve. But the basic essence is "People aren't of one mind. They have lots and lots of rather simple special purpose processes that do things like signal processing in ways that we already know how to handle more efficiently than the body has handled them. (Because we don't need to solve every problem with a specialized connectionist network.) That which we think of as our conscious mind evolved from a serialization mechanism which was needed to store memories in a retrievable manner. Language started from sounds that got attached to the serialization mechanism, so that a sound would recall a specific memory. This evolved into something more complex when the brain became larger as the body became larger. Who we *really* are is the parallel processing computer that doesn't use language at all, but the part of us that uses words, logic, etc. is evolved from this rudimentary memory manager. Of course, as it bacame more useful, it evolved to become more powerful, but it's still a quite minor part of the whole. And it's basic function limits it to (essentially) serial operation.

Unfortunately, it's mainly the serialization that I more or less understand how to build. The scheduler isn't a solved problem. It may not be soluble. (I.e., I suspect that like much of the rest of our body, it's a sub-optimal solution. One that just "works good enough". And that the real problem is NP-hard, and a propsed answer can't even be checked in polynomial time.) But we are currently working on schedulers for multi-processor systems, and we may some have a better solution than is implemented by our brain. (My language choice is "implemented by our brain" or "used by our mind",) That this is the case is hinted at by the number of specialized areas in the brain that essentially cut themselves off from the global scheduler. This reduction of the number of connections that need to be scheduled wouldn't be as important if the algorithm were less sensitive to the number of processes that it needed to schedule. (OTOH, do note that the structure of the brain is significantly different from that of a multi-core CPU. It's slower to move signals, so there's a greater gain in localizing the processing. This is an alternative explanation, so perhaps the problem isn't NP-hard except in special cases. We do lots of things by heuristics which work "most of the time". If the situations where they fail are rare enough, we won't evolve away from that choice.)

But please note, using genetic programming to select actions of a strong AI could be a very bad decision. This will inherently evolve in the direction of choices benefiting the AI, and ignoring whether or not they benefit humans.

Re:Space travel is next big step (1)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851733)

(unmodding)

Re:Space travel is next big step (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849741)

No. Artificial intelligence is more challenging and almost certainly more beneficial. We get space travel as a side effect of solving AI.

Re:Space travel is next big step (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850141)

Actually, its a tossup between clean water and population control.

ISRU... (2)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849621)

FTFA: "There’s bugger all worth mining on the moon."

Well, yes, there's nothing there worth bringing back to earth, but that doesn't mean there's nothing of value. Regolith contains several useful elements [moonminer.com] , such as oxygen, iron, aluminum, titanium. These are all fairly plentiful on earth, but in space they're worth a small fortune.

Re:ISRU... (2)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849705)

Tell me again why you wouldn't mine this stuff in the asteroid belt where it isn't at the bottom of a gravity well and then use it to manufacture stuff in space?

Re:ISRU... (5, Interesting)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849819)

Well, I never said I wouldn't mine the asteroid belt, but the moon has the advantage of proximity. You can get to the moon in a few days, the asteroid belt is farther away than Mars. Also, the moon's gravity well is conveniently shallow enough to escape with a rail-gun (see: The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress), and most of the stuff you need to build and power your rail-gun is available in the regolith.

So, first you go to the moon, and start mining the resources: oxygen for propellant and life support; iron, aluminum, magnesium, and titanium for building things. Once you can deliver these goods to lunar orbit, you start building the habitats and cargo ships you'll need in order to mine the asteroids. In the meantime, you can do a more close-up assay of the moon's resources. Given the number of asteroids that have impacted on the moon over billions of years, there's a good chance you could find some major sources of platinum, palladium, nickel, etc..

In this scenario, the main things you'll need to import to the moon will be carbon and ammonia. Carbon is essential to life, and useful for making high-grade steel; ammonia gives you nitrogen and hydrogen, both of which are scarce on the moon, but necessary for human settlement.

Re:ISRU... (1)

Muros (1167213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850007)

We should be doing all this already, with robots. No need to send people in the first decade, at least not for the work involved. The moon is easy communication range. We should at least be developing robost on earth capable of operating in space and building the things we want built.

Re:ISRU... (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850175)

Yes, any sensible moon-mining scheme would be highly automated, but there will be a human presence on the moon, for various reasons from research to tourism, so it only makes sense to accommodate that market too. If SpaceX can achieve its "holy grail" of a completely reusable rocket, the price of a ticket will come down by a couple orders of magnitude. That will be a real game changer, and ought to bring a much greater presence on the moon in all categories.

Re:ISRU... (2)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851053)

The math suggests we're a long way off. According to Wikipedia, the Spirit and Opportunity rovers together cost about 1 billion to build, launch and operate. According to a quick Google search, gold currently costs 56,000 dollars per kilo. Imagine we had somehow managed to include the ability to mine and return metals into the mission at no additional cost, and that Spirit and Opportunity ran into some rich gold deposits. They would together have to send back 16,800 kilograms worth of pure gold, or roughly 100 times the weight of a rover in gold, for the mission to start turning a profit.

Let's imagine we set them to mining some less valuable stuff. Even valuable rare earths cost in the hundreds of dollars per kilo, not thousands, so if you're mining coltan or whatever, you'd need to bring thousands of times more of the stuff back to turn a profit. Now, if you're mining nickel, at 23$ a kilo, Spirit and Opportunity would have to mine 40,000,000 kilos of the stuff to run a profit. 40,000 metric tons, or the equivalent of 200,000 rovers worth of metal. Keep in mind that this is all wildly speculative and hypothetical, since neither robot has the ability to mine or return anything.

For mining in space to be profitable, you'd have to see dramatic improvements of our ability to work in space, and at the same time, cut costs by literally orders of magnitude. It would require that our ability to build and launch would improve in a Moore's Law like fashion. That is, we would have to get to the point where we could bring the cost of putting a robot or human in space down by 50% every 18 months, for two, three, four decades. Companies like SpaceX are making progress in bringing down launch costs, but it's not happening at a Moore's Law like rate. Unless we see some fundamental changes in space technology- not just better rockets, but a truly transformative technology (like a space elevator or some exotic new Star-Trek technology that makes 20th century rocket science look like paleolithic hand axes) mining and colonization in space are going to remain generations away.

Re:ISRU... (2)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851391)

Where to start... I guess the most crucial factor is launch costs, both from Earth and from Luna.

Earth: Our gravity well is so steep that you really need a chemical rocket to escape. There are some promising experiments with lasers and such, but that's a good 10 years in the future. (Sky-hooks and space elevators are probably more like 30~50yrs away, at least.) The real trick with chemical rockets is to make one that's reusable. You wanna launch your satellite on a Delta rocket? No problem... that'll be $100M for the rocket and $150K for the fuel. SpaceX has already cut that price in half, but their goal is a rocket that's as reusable as a Boeing 747. That alone would bring launch cost to LEO down below $1000/lb..

Moon: The energy needed to escape Luna's gravity is a tiny fraction of that for Earth. It can be done with electric power (no chemical rockets needed) for less than $1/lb. That may not be profitable for iron or nickel, but what about platinum or palladium? More to the point, what's the cost of iron or oxygen in orbit around the earth or moon? Even if SpaceX succeeds with their reusable-rocket plans, such things will cost hundreds of dollars per pound if launched from the earth, so there's a huge incentive to loft those resources from the moon instead.

As for the Mars rovers... not sure how that got into the discussion. We're talking about the moon here, which is closer than Mars by at least a couple orders of magnitude.

It all comes down to that reusable rocket. If SpaceX can crack that nut, it will be a game-changer on the scale of discovering the new world. If it cost less than $1M for a ticket to the moon, how long do you think the waiting list would be?

 

Re:ISRU... (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38853607)

They would together have to send back 16,800 kilograms worth of pure gold, or roughly 100 times the weight of a rover in gold, for the mission to start turning a profit..

Wouldn't it have to be even more than that? Adding an extra 16,800 kg of gold to the world supply will surely lower the price...

Re:ISRU... (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851569)

For that matter, the moon's gravity well is shallow enough that you could build a space elevator using Kevlar for the cable. This would make lunar based material cheaper in earth orbit that stuff from the asteroids. (But asteroids or comets are a batter source of volatiles, even so.)

Once there's an industrial base in space, then space will pay for itself. That first step is a big one though.

For a starter, to me it seems like the most important problem to solve is how to run a closed ecosystem. And it's better to solve that on the surface of the Earth than anywhere else.

Re:ISRU... (1)

hackertourist (2202674) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850247)

It might be easier to develop a mine and its associated processing plant on the moon than on an asteroid. The moon's gravity makes for an easier working environment than weightlessness. It's also not that big an impediment: the LM ascent stage is not much of a rocket; despite that, it can get you to orbital velocity from the lunar surface.

Re:ISRU... (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850383)

Because the gravity well on the Moon is inconsequential. Escape velocity on the Moon is less than a quarter that on Earth, but more importantly, there is no significant atmosphere. That means you can build launch rails to accelerate spacecraft magnetically. Since the Moon is tidally locked, and the Earth always faces the same direction, your launch rail could be statically built and launch craft into Lunar transfer orbit with no fuel consumption. With current "first world" utility rates, you would be looking at around $1/kg for electrical costs, and maybe another $10/kg when you factor in fuel for Earth orbital insertion, and the vehicle to perform that. Compare that to the current launch vehicles which run $5000-$10000/kg for LEO from Earth.

On the other hand, if you go out and start mining the asteroid belt, those things are out in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of thousands of miles apart. With solar intensity out that far less than a quarter that on Earth, you're likely going to need to bring your own power source if you intend to do that.

Celebrity journalism redux (2, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849631)

I almost gave up on the second question - because it by then it was already clear he was pretty much clueless. (Though most people won't realize it, because they've grown up on the same fairy tales about the Shuttle.) The third cinched it, and I did give up with his nonsense about the Saturn V. He's just another fanboy pining for the glory days.

This is a prime example of celebrity journalism - his words are only considered as being valuable because he's famous (at least in a narrow circle). What's next Slashdot? Interviewing Clint Eastwood for his opinions because he's played an astronaut?

Re:Celebrity journalism redux (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38849677)

Why don't you enlighten the rest of us and explain what's wrong with his answers, you arrogant elitist?

Re:Celebrity journalism redux (3, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849765)

Yes, you could probably get better answers on the technology side from just about any engineering student a few months into their course or anyone that bothered to read the news clippings from Apollo onwards, but it does give us a different perspective.
It's no less irrelevant than Newt running at all. I'm not from the USA but aren't you guys worried about the FBI arms deal sting and the possibility that the guy was willing to turn traitor? Surely any other possible candidate is a better choice.

Re:Celebrity journalism redux (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850025)

Yes, you could probably get better answers on the technology side from just about any engineering student a few months into their course or anyone that bothered to read the news clippings from Apollo onwards, but it does give us a different perspective.

Well, that's my problem with the article up to the point where I gave up... It doesn't give us a different perspective. It's just the same old space fanboy echo chamber/urban legend. It has nothing whatsoever to do with technology, but rather with basic ignorance of the facts, or less charitably a version of the facts heavily self edited to match a predefined viewpoint.

Re:Celebrity journalism redux (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849983)

I gave up when someone who looks like RMS's little brother called someone else "wiggy" (paranoid)

Re:Celebrity journalism redux (4, Interesting)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850095)

He's just another fanboy pining for the glory days.

That's not how I read him. Now Zubrin, who he mentioned, is unreasonably anxious to get out there. Why should we visit Mars? To show the world it's possible? To research the place? And if the latter, why send people instead of more robots? Only reason to send people is as a prelude to the ultimate goal of colonization, which we're a long ways from being able to do. If we can't colonize Antarctica, which at least has breathable air, we sure can't colonize Mars. We have plenty of deserts we are currently unable to utilize much. At this point, we really cannot even just visit Mars, as we did the moon. It's a nice dream, but it is just a dream. And I see that he realizes all this.

I've spoken with Zubrin, and I asked him why the rush, why not wait 50 years or a century for technological improvements to make a Mars visit easier? He didn't want to wait, he felt our current capabilities were enough that we could do it now. And therefore we should. We should go "while we are young" is what he said. How romantic. But romance won't get us to Mars, and sure isn't a justification for trying.

Re:Celebrity journalism redux (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850487)

We don't even have space stations with decent radiation shielding and artificial gravity. To me those are one of the first requirements for practical long distance space travel. Once you have those, getting anywhere within the solar system is no longer a suicide trip.

Meanwhile the best use for moon/mars trips is for sending people we don't want (even if it's only figuratively): http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1282675&cid=28478857 [slashdot.org]

Re:Celebrity journalism redux (1)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#38853617)

But we've shown that people can live in space longer than a trip to Mars would take without devastating permanent effects. Plus they're now having some luck with medications to prevent bone loss. We also have radiation shielding sufficient for a trip to Mars. It's not good enough to prevent raised risk of cancer, but there's enough people who don't care about the raised cancer risk willing to go that it doesn't matter.

Re:Celebrity journalism redux (2)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#38853593)

Why is it that people always think that Antarctica is more hospitable than Mars? You can get stuff to Antarctica more easily, but, as far as habitability of enclosed structures, it's not as clear cut as you think. For starters, the sunlight on Mars is pretty much guaranteed. At is distance from the sun, only 44% of the amount of sunlight that hits Earth's atmosphere hits the atmosphere of Mars. However, since Mars has such a thin atmosphere, more of it gets through, especially at glancing angles. Also, the only weather that Mars gets that blocks sunlight is dust storms, and our Mars probes have shown that they diffuse the light, but barely block it at all. Also, at the equator on Mars, you don't get 3 months of darkness like you do in Antarctica.

Air temperatures on Mars can get colder than Antarctica, but, since the atmosphere is virtually a vacuum, that's essentially meaningless. Less insulation is actually needed on Mars than Antarctica. The wind speeds on Mars can get higher than those in Antarctica, but, once again,it's a virtual vacuum, so high wind speeds don't mean as much, because there's correspondingly less energy involved.

There certainly are challenges in colonizing Mars. The lack of free oxygen certainly is a problem that needs to be solved. Perchlorates have been found in Martian soil and could serve as a ready source of oxygen or, with sufficient electrical power, electrolysis of water could work too. It's pretty clear now that there's plenty of Water on Mars, so that's pretty viable. With the inexhaustible supply of CO2, and readily available water, Zubrin's plan of making methane and oxygen from the atmosphere and a small amount of hydrogen as both rocket fuel and as the power source for vehicles and other equipment using pretty standard internal combustion engines and 4 parts oxygen to 1 part methane as fuel seems even more workable.

You say: "At this point, we really cannot even just visit Mars, as we did the moon". Guys like Zubrin and Ellis, even if they don't agree on everything, agree for certain on this. I agree with them too. We could just visit Mars like we did the moon. Energy wise it's actually easier to get there since you can aerobrake at the other end. The atmosphere means you can also use a parachute to slow descent, although you still need rockets to slow down enough to land. The long trip is an issue, but the radiation fears are overblown and, as a million experiments in space and isolation chambers on earth, in submarines and remote weather stations, etc. have shown, so are the fears of isolation induced space madness. The visit has to be a long visit, but the same technology from the sixties that got humans to the moon and back could be used for a Mars mission as well. If it really has become impossible for us to recreate that technology today... well, then we're pretty much doomed. If we're actually becoming less capable moving into the future, how long until we lose mastery over fire?

Personally, I think romance all by itself is justification for going to mars and, in fact, for all sorts of endeavours. Anyway, if not now, then when? Your attitude that we can try in 50 years, why not now is the same reason that my kitchen still needs repainting. I could have done it by now. I could be working on it right now instead of reading Slashdot, but I'm not, because I can always do it later. I know from experience that this attitude could lead to it being years before I do it. Chances are, in fact, pretty high that I'll never do it because I'll move first. It's called procrastination.

I kind of agree... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38849655)

I want an obrital death ray too.

dubiously photogenic fetal-alcohol-syndrome cases (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38849675)

... from New Jersey

This quote made my day.

Look, space travel has to *do* something... (3, Interesting)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849737)

Something practical, like provide electricity to earth, or a ubiquitous free satellite internet, or something besides, "It's really cool!" That's not going to go any further than revolutionary fervor did in sustaining communism. In the near to medium term, if you talk space, you'd better talk money. Mars and the moon have no profit possibilities. Near earth orbit, which is affordable, more easily achievable and potentially profitable needs to be our next focus. I'm sure this is what the Chinese will do, and what we in the USA no longer have the common sense to see.

Re:Look, space travel has to *do* something... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38851013)

Why is "It's really cool!" not an acceptable reason for doing it? Far more money is wasted in the world on far sillier things. Pretty much all science started its life at the "because it's really cool" stage.

Re:Look, space travel has to *do* something... (1)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#38853675)

I'm curious what you think about government money being spent on sports? Where do you stand on the amount of money England and the City of London are spending on the 2012 Olympics? You literally could fund a Mars mission for the amount that's being spent. Of course, governments always claim that they'll recoup the investment on new sports stadiums, etc. through increased business. Pretty much every final accounting ever done on any such project, however, has shown that just doesn't happen. As far as I can tell, they spend the money because sports are "really cool!" Well, ok, maybe they spend the money because sports are really corrupt and they get kickbacks of some kind, but they justify it to the public because sports are "really cool".

Why can't landing people on other planets get some of that "really cool" action?

Re:Look, space travel has to *do* something... (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857819)

I think the amount of money spent on sports by governments AND private enterprise is ridiculous, frankly. By extension, I think the amount of effort, time and money spent on entertainment worldwide is pathetic and absurd, when we're looking at overpopulation and energy depletion converging in a most unpleasant manner by the end of the century.

Re:Look, space travel has to *do* something... (1)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858779)

Well, fair enough then. I think there are still benefits to the effort, but they're mostly intangibles, speculation, and things that won't pan out for centuries. We might be able to bring launch costs down enough that mining gold/rhodium/platinum would be profitable... Aside from that, Mars resources would mostly be useful to the Martians. But its hard to get people to care about things that benefit foreigners while having no bearing on themselves. Especially when those foreigners don't exist yet. You've made me think about replacing other forms of entertainment. If it would get a real Mars mission up there, I'd gladly donate my entertainment budget for the next four years and watch reality TV from Mars instead.

Re:Look, space travel has to *do* something... (1)

qwak23 (1862090) | more than 2 years ago | (#38856147)

Space is no different than things like high energy particle physics, the money sunk into them is essentially a long term investment. Business, I would imagine, tends to shy away from really long term investments, probably because people involved would like to be alive when they pay off. Yet in each field, there are many short term pay offs, though these are unpredictable again making them bad investments from a business perspective. That's the thing with science, since we're exploring the unknown, we just don't know what to expect. Some businesses will put money into science with the expectation that they will directly benefit from it, though that is usually a bit more focused, though unexpected things still pop up.

Government is in a good position to push for space, government is not built on short term profits. Unfortunately, government (at least the US government) is built on short term leaders/legislators, so it can be tough to get anywhere with longterm projects unless you've convinced your population that it's necessary, so that they continue to elect representatives who wont muck up those long term plans.

I'd be willing to bet that a push for manned space exploration/permanent mars/lunar bases, etc would have numerous short term benefits from the R&D. I, just like everyone else, just don't know what those are. But that R&D is just as valuable, if not more valuable than just getting more resources. Resources are great and all, we certainly need them. Space is full of them, and one day we will probably need to go get them. I'd rather we work on that problem now before we are in dire circumstances.

Sorry, the above could be fleshed out a bit more, but it's almost my bed time, and I have to work tomorrow =(

Re:Look, space travel has to *do* something... (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857879)

You need both profitable capitalistic endeavors and government research R&D to exploit space and to get the synergistic effect of both entities working on technologies of different types for different ends.

Where would the internet be without DARPA? Where would it be today without online commerce?

Manned space exploration did produce a lot of technology and can still do so, but if you want a continued presence in space, show the voters and entrepreneurs the money.

All your space bars are belong to Chinese ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38849771)

... who are shorter, smaller, weigh less.

Planetary MP. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38849835)

Deathmatch On Mars: an Interview With Warren Ellis

I know I'm not the only one thinking of the title in gaming terms.

I disagree (0)

BrianErvin (2552524) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849887)

my best friend's mom makes $77 an hour on the computer. She has been out of job for 9 months but last month her check was $7487 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read about it here http://cashsharp.com/ [cashsharp.com]

Fuck Gingrich (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38849889)

As a Republican and a Floridian, coming here and promising us a moon base is about the most cynical, callous thing a presidential candidate can do. I already didn't like him that much (as a person), and now he just lost my primary vote (as a candidate). As insane as it may sound, my only viable option left is Ron Paul.

Summary (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849955)

So, what do you think of Gingrich, who you describe as King, criminal, mental patient, and "historian", and his plan to return to the Moon and go to mars?

FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUU.......!!!!

 

Re:Summary (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850525)

So, what do you think of Gingrich, who you describe as King, criminal, mental patient, and "historian", and his plan to return to the Moon and go to mars?

FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUU.......!!!!

Why the angst? He was only being polite.

If LENR (cold fusion) works, we'll get it soon... (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849973)

http://www.opednews.com/articles/What-if-Low-Energy-Nuclear-by-Christopher-Calder-120103-869.html [opednews.com]
"If LENR is real, then aircraft capable of flying at full speed for months on end without refueling will be possible. Vertical takeoff and landing aircraft could become commonplace, and flying wingless cars as seen in Star Wars movies will be buildable for those brave or reckless souls who don't worry about the potential for engine failure. LENR jet engines should be relatively quiet, resulting in nearly silent aircraft sailing through the skies.
          [NASA scientist] Zawodny claims that reusable single stage LENR powered space planes will be able to take off from any commercial airport, fly to orbit to deliver satellites, and then land like an ordinary jetliner. This would not only lower the cost of satellite launches, but would allow the cost effective construction of very large space stations. Trips to the moon would become relatively cheap and commonplace, and trips to Mars with active radiation shielding would be possible with a 3 month travel time each way. Space travel could be pursued by private corporations for commercial, industrial reasons, not just by governments. We won't be able to fly to the stars with LENR, but our solar system would become easily navigable at a price we can afford."

They're both delusional (2, Interesting)

Wannabe Code Monkey (638617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850161)

I'm sorry, I've had enough of this crap from science fiction writers about space flight. I don't want them, (or crony politicians promising money for votes) to be guiding our government's decisions. Just because space flight is romantic and awe-inspiring doesn't mean we should do it. There's only one good reason for the kind of space travel they're advocating and it's the old don't-put-all-your-eggs-in-one-basket idea. But if the Earth were destroyed I don't have a lot of hope for people making it on the Moon or Mars. They'd still be completely dependent on resources from back home. Just try running a self sufficient society in the middle of the Sahara and see how long it lasts. At lest in the desert you still have oxygen to breathe and the temperatures are in the realm of habitable. Neither of which are true for the Moon or Mars.

They're also completely ignoring the fact that technology has become completely unpredictable for anything over 20 years from now. They have no idea what new things we'll discover in the next 100 years that could have profound impacts on space travel. Impacts that would make their current proposals completely meaningless. They sound like a salesman in the late 70s telling his company that they need to make their mainframes bigger and add more tape drives.

Our space-tech is either going to advance at a humdrum, linear pace, in which case we're never getting out of this solar system. Or it'll advance by leaps and bounds in which case just going back to the Moon, or building a rocket capable of going to Mars is pointless in the long run.

There's also no reason to have people on these flights other than to have a good old fashion feel-good PR story. You can have robots do anything you'd want a human to do and more. And you don't have to waste any money on food, oxygen, extra fuel, extra space, waste expulsion, and a return trip.

But what I love most about the interview is this quote:

I tentatively suspect that if President Obama gets his second term, and loosens up some cash...

You know, we must have already perfected space travel because I have no clue what planet Warren Ellis currently inhabits, but it's certainly not ours. Yeah, Obama has a whole bunch of cash lying around that he can just 'loosen up' at any given moment. It's not like we're running a huge deficit with programs and funding being cut left and right.

Re:They're both delusional (2)

lacaprup (1652025) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850275)

Some good points, but you're forgetting the beneficially technological offshoots of the space program. If Kennedy hadn't pushed us to the Moon in the 1960s, we wouldn't have gotten the offshoot technologies that we did as soon as we did, Further, don't just pass off the PR benefits like they are nothing. Astronauts were childhood heroes to many people in the US, and the space program was a dream. That sort of national sentiment is important... if not quantifiable.

Re:They're both delusional (1)

Wannabe Code Monkey (638617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851557)

Some good points, but you're forgetting the beneficially technological offshoots of the space program. If Kennedy hadn't pushed us to the Moon in the 1960s, we wouldn't have gotten the offshoot technologies that we did as soon as we did

I totally agree, but the moon is way different than what they're talking about. I think striving for human space travel to Mars and back is possibly in the same realm. But permanent self-sufficient colonies on multiple planets that could survive after the destruction of the Earth is simply a delusion. They're talking like going to Mars will lead us onto the path of interstellar travel. That's beyond delusional. It's like saying, "Let's work really hard on our steam technology and maybe it'll turn into atomic energy."

Re:They're both delusional (1)

Rennt (582550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38854487)

It's like saying, "Let's work really hard on our steam technology and maybe it'll turn into atomic energy."

That is more or less how technology is developed, in a macro sense. We sure couldn't have skipped the industrial revolution and gone straight to atomic.

You can't expect technology for interstellar colonisation* just to exist in the future without resources spent on research and development at some intermediate future point. Not having the tech now is the reason to start working on it. Now. Perhaps we could start with a manned mission to Mars!

* It's a bit of an absurd success threshold to set (We'll be seeing ROI long before we hit that point), but I'll allow it.

Re:They're both delusional (2)

joe_frisch (1366229) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850589)

The decision to go into space depends entirely on your goals. It is easy to imagine a stable, sustainable, happy human population on earth. We are no where close to that yet, but it is a goal that we can reach for, and I think achieve.

I can also imagine a goal of human expansion into space. The solar system is with reach of easily foreseeable technology. It might take centuries to ready fully self-sufficient colonies, but again they don't require impossible technology. Interstellar is more difficult, but speeds of a reasonable fraction of C are imaginable with nuclear propulsion or laser driven sails. This is too slow, but not a lot too slow, and maybe practical if we can extend human lifetimes.

There is no question that an expanding human race is a much more difficult goal, and a much more dangerous one: It will involve the development of technologies that could wipe out humanity, and even if we succeed we might meet something dangerous out there.

Technology only develops if it is needed: if we want improved space technology we need to work on space travel, just waiting for something to develop isn't likely to succeed. Compare the progress from 1950-1970 when we were actively developing space to the almost complete lack of progress from 1990 to 2010.

We have a choice: stay here where it is safe and comfortable, or see what wonders and horrors are waiting on a billion billion worlds throughout the universe.

Re:They're both delusional (1)

jamvger (2526832) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850899)

Except that, in the long run, the planet is not sustainable. In less than a billion years, all the water will be gone. While it is easy to imagine that future generations will develope amazing launching technologies, it's also easy to imagine Mad Max and the fall of the oil-users. If we don't use it, now, we might lose it.

Re:They're both delusional (1, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851429)

It is easy to imagine a stable, sustainable, happy human population on earth.

If you're a dumb hippy listening to old John Lennon records, yes. In the real world, 'sustainable' is impossible in the long term and in the short term means an authoritarian state that would make 1984 look like utopia with an end to all innovation.

Either we get off this planet soon or we die. 'Sustainable' is just more hippy BS.

Re:They're both delusional (1)

bidule (173941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851507)

Our space-tech is either going to advance at a humdrum, linear pace, in which case we're never getting out of this solar system. Or it'll advance by leaps and bounds in which case just going back to the Moon, or building a rocket capable of going to Mars is pointless in the long run.

Maybe the "leaps and bounds" are due to discrete events. Did we master the oceans because everyone tried to replicate Columbus bonanza?

Someone, sometime, is going to try and succeed. Then everyone else will try to follow. Maybe trying today will fail, but maybe not trying today or tomorrow will mean we will still fail in 50 years. You cannot succeed without effort.

He mentions the Outer Space Treaty... (1)

lacaprup (1652025) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850231)

...as if the United States (or any other nation to first successfully colonize the moon) would pay one bit of attention to it. Now, if a successful colonization mission took the form of a joint venture, or even a corporate venture, issues of sovereignty will doubtlessly come to the fore. Frankly, I can't see one good reason that a nation that made it to the moon 40+ years ago cannot colonize it today.

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850257)

I hate it here, and I want to go to Mars!

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38852207)

Don't forget the Space Nutter dog whistles "This rock", "this mud ball" and "the species".

Nobody's ever gonna stand on Mars (1, Interesting)

IcyHando'Death (239387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850413)

John Michael Greer's post on the end of the space age [blogspot.com] confirmed for me what I'd concluded myself: the stars are not for us. Nor the planets. Not even the moon. If you are a person of unwavering faith in the myth of infinite progress then you won't accept what he says. It may even seem ridiculous. Yet for those who've had nagging doubts, it can hit like a punch in the gut to finally hear it stated this firmly and this eloquently.

I was 8 years old when the Eagle landed on the moon. If there's ever a time to make a lasting impression on a boy, it's when he's 8. From that point on, humanity's expansion into space was a given: the bedrock of my vision of the future. In fact, it's hard to believe in infinite progress without taking space travel as a corollary. But I see the world declining now on so many fronts. The myth of progress seems not only false but absurd. Civilizations have their ups and downs. This last one has reached higher than any other, boosted by an enormous non-renewable energy supply, but that supply is now in decline and so are we, like all the others. We reached the moon at our apex, but did not grasp it, and now it is too late. Nobody's ever gonna stand on Mars. And I mean never.

Re:Nobody's ever gonna stand on Mars (1)

Scholasticus (567646) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850633)

Never is a really long time. And who said anything about "infinite progress?" That your dreams haven't been fulfilled, and probably won't be in your lifetime, doesn't mean anything about what will or won't happen in the future. Maybe we'll destroy ourselves. Maybe we'll build nuclear pulse propulsion ships (probably not a good idea, but ...), maybe a lot of things. You don't actually know, and so you say "never."

Re:Nobody's ever gonna stand on Mars (2)

Roderic9 (2454194) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851097)

I sort of understand where IcyHando'Death is coming from - I was 10 when I woke up to the real world and realised that the flying cars and spaceships I had been reading about in comics didn't actually exist. But I got over it and I am not as depressed about the lack of progress since 1969 as he is.
However, I do agree with his last few sentences, including "This last one has reached higher than any other, boosted by an enormous non-renewable energy supply, but that supply is now in decline and so are we, like all the others." Our global civilisation is using up all of the resources that were needed to start the industrial and technological revolutions. If we miss this chance and civilisation declines too far, the possibility is that we may never be able to rise to this level again.
For that reason I don't give a damn who promotes expansion into space, or the politics of it all. As long as someone does it.

Re:Nobody's ever gonna stand on Mars (2)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851067)

John Michael Greer's post on the end of the space age confirmed for me what I'd concluded myself: the stars are not for us.

His post is fine, but it doesn't show that we won't make it to the stars.

The question of the stars revolves around one point: is it technologically feasible to reach the stars?

If there are discoveries waiting for us, like hyperspace, wormholes, FTL or some other unfathomable principle of physics, then we will make it to the stars. Maybe not in this generation, or as the United States, maybe it will be by whomever succeeds the US. Technology moves forward beyond generations and empires, it doesn't need to be the US. If some future enlightened society discovers how to make fusion work, then the world will be a better place.

Newton thought that it would be impossible to escape the earth's gravity well, because of the large acceleration necessary. Newton didn't realize that chemical propellants were waiting to be discovered. Is there another thing out there, waiting to be discovered? Maybe.

Re:Nobody's ever gonna stand on Mars (1)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#38853785)

Chemical rockets existed well before Newton was born and would have been familiar to him during his lifetime in the form of fireworks. There are actually records of him making fireworks as a boy.

Re:Nobody's ever gonna stand on Mars (1)

dasunt (249686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858563)

Considering it took hundreds of years between the first European visit to the "New World", and successful, permanent colonization, I wouldn't write off the moon and Mars just yet.

What Is Over the Next Hill? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850639)

When the first humans walked out of the Rift Valley and began the process of colonizing the world they were demonstrating good old monkey curiosity. What is over the next hill? And it has carried us in good stead all this time. Now we have run out of new frontiers to conquer and are doing a fairly poor job of conquering ourselves. Space is the logical next step. It will be hard, dangerous and expensive. But this drive to explore is part of who we are and we should not forget it.

so, what? (1)

eyenot (102141) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851365)

What if a president's non-public (hidden) agenda involved successfully destroying a space station, ruining a nation's space agency, and belittling a nation's populace into lowering their brows and focusing on supporting his regime in stupider matters like killing populations and stealing their resources, or controlling the world's economies with extortion?

Ah yes, the daydreams of a novelist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38851489)

are exactly the same as sound, practical engineering reality.... Space Nutter Supreme Command!!!

FTFA: (1)

I Read Good (2348294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851589)

"Absolutely nothing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun sideshow, but I don’t believe it says anything about the country other than that working democracy is like making haggis, in that you really don’t want to see what goes into that shit. It does say a lot about the state of the GOP, and I can’t help but wonder if the party moderates are just letting this parade of mental patients and unelectable criminals simply happen, so that they can detoxify the party after the inevitable firestorm of failure."

Most insightful shit concerning American politics that I've read in a while. And from a Brit!

He speaks truth (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851819)

Shuttle was such a crocked piece of shit that it couldn’t reliably go more than two hundred miles up. And sometimes exploded trying even that.

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