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Voyager and the Coming Great Hiatus In Deep Space

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the great-non-disturbance-in-the-force dept.

NASA 238

MatthewVD writes "Some time in the next decade, the Voyager probes will run out of juice and finally go silent after almost a half century of exploration. John Rennie writes that the lack of any meaningful effort to follow up with a mission to interstellar space shows the "fragile, inconsistent state of space exploration." It's particularly frustrating since the Voyagers have tantalized astronomers with a glimpse into about how the sun's magnetic field protects us from (or exposes us to) cosmic rays. Have we gone as far as we're willing to go in space?"

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VEEEE GERRRRRR! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39682575)

VEEEE GERRRRRR!

We sure don't make stuffs like they used to (2, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682945)

How many years already the Voyager spacecraft kept sending us valuable data?

And it does all that without any of the super-gigaherz chips nor gigabytes of RAM nor terabits/s connection devices

On the other hand, do you think your iPad will last 5 years?

Re:We sure don't make stuffs like they used to (5, Insightful)

davydagger (2566757) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682973)

consumer products != space grade industrial products.

before you start talking about modern consumer electronics which are the best they've ever been, think about consumer grade hardware in the 1990s.

boot times where 5+ min. never worked right. plug and play didn't work, no standards on HW.Drivers sucked.

sheet, we got it easy today.

Re:We sure don't make stuffs like they used to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39682977)

Word

Re:We sure don't make stuffs like they used to (0, Troll)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683623)

Fragile, inconsistent state of Politicians who seek to reinstate God as Creator and consider any Science as heresy is the REAL cause of lack of space exploration. Someone should pull a Valerie Plame on every fundamentalist politician who seeks to replace Science with Religion. His sex tapes should be published on the internet and would be better if it were Gay.

Re:We sure don't make stuffs like they used to (5, Interesting)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683709)

The Voyager spacecraft computers are some of the last active computers in the Solar System still using hand-wrapped core memory. I think that says more about the space probe than almost anything else. There might be a couple museums which fire up a computer every now and again with such a memory module, but this is certainly the last one in a production environment. It shows how rugged that kind of design really can be.

Then again, saying it is the last one in the Solar System may not even be accurate, so it might just simply be said it is the last one currently running in the Milky Way Galaxy... unless we meet some alien races to dispute that fact.

No (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39682581)

$ wget -O- http://havewegoneasfaraswerewillingtogoinspace.com/ [havewegone...nspace.com]
<html><body><p>No.</p></body></html>

Indeed (4, Insightful)

Creedo (548980) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682585)

In regards to funding such efforts, Neil deGrasse Tyson recently said:

“Without it, we might as well slide back to the cave, because that’s where we’re headed right now — broke.”

It's rather pathetic that we are willing to waste untold amounts of resources on mindless violence, and yet let programs which could further our knowledge of the universe sit unused on the drawing board.

Re:Indeed (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682655)

Yes, in a perfect world we would all get along and use resources with infinite wisdom. It's worth working to try and get closer to that utopia, but until we reach it there are other considerations. Cave men were probably pissed when they invented the perfect technique for hunting deer, only to be eaten by a lion as they dragged it back to the cave.

Re:Indeed (4, Insightful)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682849)

In an almost perfect world people wouldn't give up on a perfect world. Luckily as a whole we don't. While history has its ups and downs the overall trend seems to [edge.org] be [wikipedia.org] up [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Indeed (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39682723)

I'm 35 years old and the most exciting events in space exploration to happen in my life time have been two space shuttles exploding and killing the astronauts, sticking a station in space (that is at the end of its life already), and sticking a little RC car on mars. My parents and grandparents? They had the space race. First man in space. First space walk. First moon landing. In their life times, the world stopped to watch for news of events as they unfolded in space. In our life time, nobody knows the name of any astronauts and the only time there is coverage is when something explodes.

We will have no glorious moments like our parents and grandparents. There will be no amazing massive exploration event in our life time. People are more worried about potholes and "banning" gay sex than they are about furthering the progress of all mankind. So stop getting your hopes up that anything amazing is going to happen. For all intents and purposes, space exploration is dead.

Re:Indeed (3, Interesting)

sprior (249994) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682785)

I'm 46 and I grew up with Star Trek, the World Trade Center, the Concorde, and the space shuttle. How's that working out...

Re:Indeed (5, Interesting)

qu33ksilver (2567983) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683221)

Good one. But I'd say that voyager has to be one of the most ambitious projects ever made. I mean a space probe that would keep going deeper and deeper into space for years to come. Thats something to be excited about. Carl Sagan said "If the space is a big ocean lying out there, we have just started to dip our knees in the water". Well, I would want to swim as far as possible into it. Probably there are more important matters back here on Earth, but I would still go for another slice of space.

Blame the b*tards in Congress... (4, Interesting)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683529)

I'm 46 and I grew up with Star Trek, the World Trade Center, the Concorde, and the space shuttle. How's that working out...

Your comment sums up quite a lot. The fuck-ups started with defunding of Apollo in the early 1970s, and manned spaceflight has barely progressed since then. The shuttle made for a lot of nice launches and a couple of spectacular failures, but it only went to low Earth orbit. Programs like Hubble and Voyager and so on greatly expanded our knowledge of the universe, but damned little progress was made in manned spaceflight, despite pouring fortunes into a succession of boondoggles (Shuttle, Skylab, ISS, 'nuff said). Recall that even Voyager was just a scaled-back cheaper substitute for the Grand Tour [wikipedia.org] .

I'm only a few years older than you, but vividly remember the Apollo missions. As a kid in Europe, I stayed up weird hours to catch live transmissions from Apollo 8 to Apollo 17. I saw almost every single one of them, and if there had been consumer-level recording technology like today's, I and many others would have copies of those transmissions. I don't recall the Apollo 1 disaster (too young, I guess), but was riveted by the Apollo 13 near-disaster. The decision to cancel Apollo 18 to Apollo 20 was baffling to me then, and remains so today, 40 years later.

Commitment was lost or lacking at a high enough level in U.S. political circles after Apollo reached its stated objective. After that, it was just a question of how soon the money could be diverted to political pork. And that's how NASA's budgets have been allocated ever since. Pork as the real objective, more pork as the means of attaining that objective, even more pork as the main spin-off, and a bit of science or space exploration as an unavoidable but incidental side effect. The objectives (pork) were always achieved successfully, even if the cover stories (science, space) ended in failure.

Re:Blame the b*tards in Congress... (3, Interesting)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683589)

Apollo was a gigantic PR stunt. The entire nation of the united states turning their collective backsides to the Soviet Union and dropping their pants. Without a political motivation, not many politicians can see the value in pure science. The only possibility I see for the US getting back into manned space exploration would be if China started making a really big deal about getting to Mars first, thus compelling a rapid defence of the American national penis size once again.

Re:Indeed (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39683239)

I don't mean to minimize any urgency to continue space exploration--it's important to lobby and press for pushing the envelope however we can.

However, space exploration isn't dead.

For many years I've been waiting, and continue to wait, for New Horizons to reach Pluto (http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/). Assuming this goes on as planned, it will be amazing to finally see Pluto and Charon -- something that, if I'm alive at that time, I can say I'm glad I lived to see. The fact they plan to continue the mission into the Kuiper belt is even more impressive. If anything's carrying the torch of Voyager and Pioneer at the moment, it's New Horizons. The way I feel about it now is similar to how I felt about Voyager meeting Uranus and Neptune in the 80s when I was a child.

Another thing that's fascinating to me to see unfold is private spaceflight. The fact that there is a realistically burgeoning private spaceflight industry in the US is pretty damn amazing if you ask me, and I'm excited to see it continue.

I'm all for large federally funded space exploration research (and research of all kinds) but I sometimes feel like there's a sky-is-falling narrative that's not quite right. Give credit where credit is due.

Re:Indeed (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39683679)

Define amazing.

To say that "sticking a little RC car on Mars" isn't an achievement is frankly incredibly insulting to the people that designed it. You want bigger? Look at the Mars Science Laboratory which is being dropped via rocket crane because it's so heavy. Quite honestly, sending things to the Moon is easy. Sending stuff to Mars is incredibly difficult and the staggering cost of developing human support systems to do it outweighs the enormous amount of robotic science you could do with the same amount of money.

Oh and let's not forget that Voyager was never meant to end up in outer space. Initially it was meant to explore Jupiter and Saturn, but the mission was extended, extended and extended a bit more. And why not? The hardware was still functioning perfectly. Look at Spirit and Opportunity, they have massively outstayed their welcome on Mars thanks to the engineering that went into them.

So what's out there now? Well, New Horizons is on its way to Pluto as I type with a presumed extension to visit the Kuiper belt afterwards. If they don't send that out of the solar system afterwards, I'd be very surprised. The mission is supposed to end in 2026, but who knows. The way you do something like this is have a mission in the solar system and then find a way to use the satellite after it's done doing your science.

Oh and we're not slouching on launches either

http://claudelafleur.qc.ca/Scfam-science.html#2011
http://claudelafleur.qc.ca/Scfam-planetary.html#2011

We're actually launching a lot more than we used to. The difference is we've got other things we're interested in rather than finding out what's in interstellar space - cool prospect as it is.

There will always be new innovation in science and there will always be nostalgic people. What actually happens is somewhere in-between, science marches on, but the visible effects diminish. When we look at space science, you're comparing things that happened over a period of around 30-50 years ago. Think about life 50 years in the future. We will be recalling the days when we went from 2D graphics to 3D graphics, a time when the world wasn't connected via the internet, when a cellphone went from being bigger than a brick to smaller than a deck of cards. In 30 years what will have changed? Probably lots, but will anything in these fields ever rival these first steps?

Re:Indeed (1)

fishicist (777318) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683701)

Don't forget about Cassini--Huygens [wikipedia.org] . We landed a probe [wikipedia.org] on Titan!

Re:Indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39682855)

Except that its not really mindless violence. It is to secure resources that are now, and going to be ever more scarce. The energy needs of the western world need to be met one way or another, and the energy cartels right now want that oil. At whatever cost, funded by you the tax payer. Space exploration doesn't make rich people richer, unfortunately.

Re:Indeed (5, Insightful)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682983)

Space exploration doesn't make rich people richer **TODAY**. Wealthy people used to think in terms of dynasties, founding colonies and funding explorations that they knew would never pay off until the time of their grandchildren. Today if it doesn't pay off in under a decade it isn't seen as worth investing in. Funding solar power satellites for example with a financial break-even point of 20 years are essentially unthinkable, even if the payoff were enormous.

Re:Indeed (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39683119)

"Space exploration doesn't make rich people richer **TODAY**"

It won't make anyone richer today, tomorrow, or ever. Unless you can sell vacuum, space is EMPTY. There's NOTHING there. And the few things that ARE there, are so ridiculously small and far away, it's not worth it. By the time you build big enough steam locomotives... the 20th century happens. Understand? If you had the resources to do anything in space, you don't need to!

The Victorians thought the future was bigger and better steam engines. Then internal combustion and oil happened. Space Nutters thought the future was going to be bigger and faster rockets. Then the Information Age happened. What amazes me is that some people still cling desperately to a decades-dead fantasy world of spaceships and Moon miners.

Re:Indeed (1, Insightful)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683315)

Hi, unemployed, indebted computer geek. Just met the girl you lusted about for years (and who had a restraining order filed against you) and her wealthy aerospace engineer husband. She says the sex is amazing, thank you for asking. Seriously, shouldn't you move on instead of projecting your rage and (justified) feelings of impotence on others?

Re:Indeed (5, Interesting)

afgam28 (48611) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683235)

I think wealthy people still do think in terms of dynasties and legacy. You've got people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet doing a lot of work to leave their legacy on the world. And people like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson have set up companies with ambitious plans to get into space.

I hope that what we're seeing is just a low point in history, where we're making the transition from government-funded space exploration to private funding.

This may be a good thing. While I think it's great that China is investing in space, we've seen with the United States that governments can quickly lose interest in space and stop funding exploration. Having private companies might be the only sustainable way to fund space exploration.

Re:Indeed (0)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683517)

Space exploration doesn't make poor people richer **TODAY** either.

Why should anybody take a long term outlook today if the government is ever more willing to destroy savings and investment by keeping interest rates on long term bonds as low as interest rates on 6 month short term debt?

By the way, which one of poor people is willing to spend his own money on this?

Lastly, there are in fact some rich people, who are weirdly enough thinking about a very very long term space exploration. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Indeed (1)

manoweb (1993306) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683041)

Tyson has a "big government spending" ideal of doing space exploration. While that could be one way to do it, it is simply too dependent on politics and public opinion, and it won't work.

Re:Indeed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39683133)

So what's the alternative? Private enterprise will "explore" space? That's simply too dependent on profit and risk-vs-reward, and it won't work.

Re:Indeed (4, Insightful)

neonv (803374) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683211)

Mindless violence has unfortunately been the fuel for space exploration. The Germans in World War II developed the rockets that gave rise to putting satellites into orbit. The Cold War drove spending on space exploration out of fear of being destroyed from space. Men walked on the moon only from fear that the other super power would get there first. Now that there is no threat of war between super powers, there's no more fear that drives spending on space exploration. Though Space X and Virgin Galactic give some hope that things will change, it won't be at the same rate of development in the forseable future.

Re:Indeed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39683287)

Mindless violence? It's apparent that you don't understand the system. The violence that we've been spending resources on is planned. It's a critical part of how some nations operate. The most notable examples, of course, being the US and China. Coincidentally, those are the two most important nations on the planet. Take a few economic history courses and social psychology courses.
The sad truth is that humanity isn't going to be creating the happy, techno-kumbaya, interstellar civilization of "Star Trek". We'll have to made some truly fundamental changes to our biology to do that.

yes (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39682587)

we have

Time for the toooobe1! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39682589)

Is she illin in the panicillin? Is she chillin in the panicillin? Is she stealin in the panicillin? Is she feelin in the panicillin? Panka panka Is she liable no suitifiable pliable style is so suitifiable Is she liable no suitifiable im not on trial but its suitifiable Is she reliable no suitifiable not just viable but real suitifiable Is she try-able no suitifiable lying in the aisle im real suitifiable Is she spillin in the panicillin? Is she squealin in the panicillin? Is she feelin in the panicillin? Is she trillin in the panicillin? Panka panka Is it libel? no suitifiable pliable style is so suitifiable Is it a style? no suitifiable im not on trial but its suitifiable Is it a mile? no suitifiable not just viable but real suitifiable Is it wild? no suitifiable lying in the aisle im real suitifiable

Queue the SyFy Channel Original Movie About... (2, Funny)

iPaul (559200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682591)

The voyager spacecraft popping a plasma bubble and sending it to Earth, requiring a heard drinking high school physics teacher (played by Stephen Baldwin) and a heart-of-gold exotic dancer, but former Navy Seal (played by an anonymous starlet), to save the day.

We've probably gone farther (5, Funny)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682595)

There is virtually no interest in space among the many people I interact with, my customers, my suppliers, the other parents at school, or my neighbors. My interest in astronomy and space is regarded in the same manner as my telescopes, as a curiosity or mild eccentricity.

I can't imagine that people like these will be willing to commit money, either as tax or investment, in furthering space research, not until they see something that affects them personally and requires return to space.

On the positive side, this something can be anything, even a surprise threat from North Korean FTL probe leaving for Alpha Centauri.

Re:We've probably gone farther (4, Insightful)

PsychoSlashDot (207849) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682709)

There virtually no interest in anything that isn't personally and obviously of benefit to Joe Average these days. If it isn't a new iPhone app or a new GPS option in their car, or a simpler way to get bigger breasts, or an indisputable cure for baldness, crow's feet, or liver-cancer, Joe Average doesn't want to hear about it and CERTAINLY won't want to pay for it.

Ignorance is bliss, and as long as the digital TV signal carrying Jersey Shores is nice and strong, that's all the technology most people care for.

It's the specials, the freaks, the weirdos who insist on dreaming and asking "what if". We read science fiction and speculative fiction, and we play games that model hypothetical situations and we desperately want to know MORE about many things. Even if human teleportation devices can't be invented in our lifetime, we want to see the steps as the precursor technology is built. But we're not normal.

Re:We've probably gone farther (2)

Tynin (634655) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682819)

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

- Arthur O'Shaughnessy, Ode, 1874

That all seems strangely apropos.

New Horizons on the way (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39682745)

Quite true. We are existing the Age of Reason into the Age of Dark Ages 2. From the proponents of ignorance (ie. intelligent design) to people's tendency to bashing science as "unscientific" because it does not paint rosy pictures for them (eg. AGW) to simple fear of unknown (eg. nuclear). It has been rather sad last 20 years in terms of people's perception of science.

On another note, there is another probe racing for Pluto. It will then go on exploring the Kuiper belt.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Horizons [wikipedia.org]
http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/ [jhuapl.edu]

Voyager 1 is moving a bit faster though so it will remain furthest measurement platform out there until it stops working, but still, new tech is on the way out there too.

After New Horizons, well, don't expect much for at least the next 20 years..

I dissent (1)

Gimbal (2474818) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682835)

In my dissenting argument, I cite the work, NewSpace Nation, by Jeff Krukin (Kindle editiion). Krukin cites a significant number of companies becoming involved in the emergent phenomenon of NewSpace development - two more notable names of which include Virgin Galactic and Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SPACEX), both of which were involved in the relatively recent competition for the Ansari X Prize. Certainly, those companies are interested in continuing space exploration. It's a part of their corproate bottom lines, after all - not even to comment to the scientific and more philosophically interpretive qualities of the work.

There's business in space, occurring already. (It's not just about epic moonshots any more)

My 2 cents on the turnip....

Re:We've probably gone farther (3, Funny)

jo42 (227475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682843)

I can't imagine that people like these will be willing to commit money, either as tax or investment, in furthering space research, not until they see something that affects them personally and requires return to space.

Yes. It's far more important to be rich and famous in America. It's far more important to kill brown people in the middle east so that they have oil and gas to driving their fat, lazy, stupid, ignorant asses around in gas guzzling SUVs, Mercedes and BMW douche-mobiles. It's far more important to piss away untold billions of dollars bailing out the greedy fucktards on Wall Street.

Of course, let's not mention all the scientific advances that these people benefit from that came from the space program. After all, God created the cell phone, the car, the air conditioner and all the other bits of technology this ignorant retards take for granted every single day of their useless, uncreative, unproductive lives.

The best part is, these people get to vote for who runs the government, in turn the country and who bullies the rest of the world around. Long live America, land of the free, home of the brave.

Re:We've probably gone farther (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39682927)

This bad behaviour is tied to religion. People are happy to say that "God did it and we don't need to ask questions." The only purpose in their lives is to both hinder and remove the rights of persons that do not believe in the supernatural. It's a cancer on this earth that must be eradicated through education.

Re:We've probably gone farther (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683297)

In no way. Pride and selfishness cause ignorance and most of the problems we have today. Whether it be nationalism, racism (see Nazi Germany/Hutu vs Tutsi atheistic conflicts), classism, or other isms, they all play a part in our issues and are all caused by the same thing.

People that believe their god is best and all others will burn, people that believe their race/ethnicity is best and all others should die, people that believe their class is best and all others should be abused (see wallstreet), and people that believe their ideology is best and all others should be exterminated/reeducated (you).

Sou simply chose religion to be your scape goat because you feel you are somehow "enlightened" and are therefor better than others because you believe you are more rational.

Everyone is in the same boat, regardless of popular opinion or your image of yoursself.

Re:We've probably gone farther (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39683769)

Hitler was atheist, but you can't say that of most of Nazi High Command, let alone regular soldiers.

Just remember one Nazi slogan: "Got mit uns", or in English "God with us".

Re:We've probably gone farther (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39683331)

Agreed. However, we should take it up a few notches. Ridicule, insult, mock religion at every turn. Take away technology from the "true believers" and deny them medical care (let their God work miracles and cure them). Burn the temples. Kill the priests.

Re:We've probably gone farther (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683779)

By all means try it. Let's see how far you go. Come on, I dare you. I double dare you, internet masturbatory tough guy. Leave your dreams of self-aggrandizement and try reality. What are you afraid of? Hunh. Oh, I see, all talk and no walk. What a shame.

Re:We've probably gone farther (2)

Skylax (1129403) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683703)

But then strictly speaking the money spent on wars is not really wasted. It is used to pay wages, buy weapons, invest in military research. Military personal then put the money back into the economy when spending the money on houses, cars, laptops, smartphones etc. Engineers, mechanics and so on are payed to design and build the weapons who in turn get payed for it.
Even the fuel wasted by the military is bought from the oil companies who in turn buy new oil drilling platforms which have to be designed and manufactured by engineers and technicians.

The idea that a lot of the technology comes from the space programming is mostly a myth. Take Teflon for example,discovered in 1938, used as corrosion protection in the Manhattan project in 1943 then in 1954 first applied to kitchen products long before sputnik.

The problem is that you can't expect people to be excited or involved in something that ultimately influences them only very little. People are concerned with their own survival (which in todays world becomes more and more expensive) and not everybody can be a spacecraft engineer or scientist.
The main interest of humans has always been to have work and be able to support themselves and their families and if the military-industrial complex provides that you can't blame them for trying to defend it.

We space enthusiasts were lucky for a while that space exploration was fueled by the cold war, when defense interests overlapped with space exploration interests. Without the "need" for ICBMs we would never have built any orbit capable rockets at all.

I mean how do you justify sending a space probe to the heliopause to the common taxpayer? "Please give us your money so that a couple of scientists and graduate students will be able to publish some papers and advance their careers in about 25 years?"
Even among the scientific community the (real) interest for heliopause research is probably very small. The timescales of such projects are just too long. A heliopause probe would take maybe 5 years to develop and another 20 years to reach its destination. That's almost the duration of a typical research career, nobody working in science can afford to wait that long for any results.

The way I see it is, that it is not yet the time for such research. Just like 16th century physicists would not have been able to learn something of subnuclear particles as the technology was not available at the time, we today have to wait for a significant amount of space exploration before we can properly investigate the outer regions of our solar system.
Once we have research outposts on Titan or Pluto that can send their own probes to the oort cloud this sort of research will be much more affordable and simpler.
Alternatively we have to wait for better space propulsion technology so that we can sent those probes faster to their destination.

In the meantime I'm not particulary worried that we will descent into savagery again (at least technology wise). The average citizen has grown too fond of their little tech gadgets and other helpers for everyday lives to just throw it all away. We are at a stage where we will defend with all our strength the right to access the internet and so on and so forth.
The time for proper space exploration will come just maybe not in our lifetimes...

     

Re:We've probably gone farther (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683417)

I can't imagine that people like these will be willing to commit money, either as tax or investment, in furthering space research, not until they see something that affects them personally and requires return to space.

We should regard such people as you would an ant. They're only concerned with following a pheromone trail, until someone walks by and accidentally destroys their entire Universe with one (highly unlikely) foot-fall.

Protip: The dinosaurs didn't have a space program. There is a 100% chance that such an event will happen again, it's only a question of when.
Right now our prime directive should be making at least one other basket to keep a few of our eggs in...
The media loves fearmongering, I say us scientists should band together and "discover" a huge space rock that will hit Earth by the year 20XX.

If there's any hope for Life in this corner of the cosmos, it's got to get its lazy ass off this rock.
Not wanting to spend taxes on space exploration is like sticking your head in the sand, and ignoring the fossil record therein.

The entertainment industry rakes in how much money every year alone? These dumb ants will spend time and resources to watch yet another horrible Hollywood remake, or shell out hundreds -- even thousands -- of dollars EVERY YEAR just for some made up Winter Merchandising Holiday, but they don't want to fund space exploration?

WTF is WRONG with these ANTS!?
Even "God fearing" folk should be shitting bricks. If I were a cosmic consciousness peering into our fish tank, I'd be in the market for some new seamonkeys.

Re:We've probably gone farther (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39683495)

We should regard such people as you would an ant.

Rightly or wrongly, our election laws regard them as your complete equals. Any ideas how to sidestep them while funneling their tax dollars into space research?

Fund the space program in Pyongyang?

NASA should sell naming rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39682667)

Not to corporations, who probably wouldn't be interested, but to individuals.

The Paul Allen Mars Explorer...
The Mark Zuckerberg Space Shuttle...
The Bill and Melinda Gates Asteroid Lander...

choices (-1, Flamebait)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682707)

There is a finite amount of money You can either spend it on space exploration or on welfare for octomoms and other people who don't want to work.

Re:choices (1)

I_am_Jack (1116205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682815)

There is a finite amount of money You can either spend it on space exploration or on welfare for octomoms and other people who don't want to work.

Really? Only those two choices?

Re:choices (1)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682919)

There is a finite amount of money You can either spend it on space exploration or on welfare for octomoms and other people who don't want to work.

Really? Only those two choices?

What he should have written is that there is a finite amount of human effort and resources. Money helps us allocate effort and resources.

But there certainly is some kind of trade off. Effort and resources directed towards ocotmoms and the idle must come from somewhere.

Re:choices (5, Insightful)

I_am_Jack (1116205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683101)

But there certainly is some kind of trade off. Effort and resources directed towards ocotmoms and the idle must come from somewhere.

Again, only two choices? Sensationalizing the most extreme of social contract obligations as the only reason we're not funding more deep space research? Puh-leeze. The reason more deep space probes are not being launched is because people don't give a crap. And CISPA will be passed because (IMHO) the Internet blew its collective social activism wad fighting SOPA and everyone has gone back to Minecraft, WoW and Berk memes because they think their effort as 1's and 0's superheroes for a day crushed the special interests (and at least at this point, no one is telling otherwise). The only reason Apollo made it as far as it did is because NASA hired the best and brightest on Madison Avenue to make it an all-consuming interest for Americans. Not a day would go by without something reminding you we were in a race with the Russians and we had to win. As soon as we got there, everyone lost interest. Why? Because NASA sold the first men on the moon as the goal (Kennedy was a tad short-sighted, apparently), not the continued exploration of the moon. As soon as people give a crap and fight for what they want (or what they're told what they want), and if deep space exploration is what they're told they want, then we'll have more Voyager-like probes than you can shake a stick at.

Re:choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39683385)

The Space Race was military dick waving between the US and the Soviet Union. It was also the source of a lot of useful spin offs, like Tang, delicious Tang.
The Internet was also at military program (ARPANET). It was also really useful for other things, like pr0n, delicious, pr0n.
As soon as we got to the moon, everyone lost interest. Why? Because there's really nothing there and it's too far away for a vacation.
Oh, and what are you fighting for? Probably that Epic Staff of Self-Emasculation in some MMORPG. Have you ever served in the military or even been in a real fight, with real pain and blood? Don't use words you don't fully understand.
And yes, I know that Tang wasn't created for the Space Race.

Re:choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39682869)

Man. I totally didn't know there were only those two choices. Good thing guys like you have their ear to the ground, looking out for the acceptable people.

Re:choices (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39683415)

and other people who don't want to work.

I don't want to work, I have better things to do with my time. Unfortunately they don't pay the bills.

Do you really, truly, rise each morning and want to go to work?

Voyager wasn't an interestellar mission (5, Informative)

Gimbal (2474818) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682719)

I respect Mr. Rennie's effort in encouraging further efforts in deep space exploration, but I think his argument may go a little away from principle. The Voyager probes were not designed to be deep space probes. As I recall having learned, the Voyager probes were designed to photograph the planets and record relevant non-visual data, during the recent "grand conjunction" phase in the solar system.

I'm afraid I must apologize for my evident lack of citations, here. As my own specator knowledge of it holds, and anyone may wish to correct me: It's been a pleasant suprrise that the Voyager probes have continued functioningm, for so many years since after they completed their assigned missions.

Personally, I think it also may serve in making a constructive comment towards the niceties of reliable manufacturing practice in the construction of space exploration systems. "But maybe that's just me" ;}

Re:Voyager wasn't an interestellar mission (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39682749)

Yes, the Voyager probes going into deep space was a by-product of their fly-by missions to the outer planets. Since all of the new probes (except for New Horizons) are intended for long-term orbital missions rather than fly-by missions, there aren't likely to be more interstellar missions for quite some time. There is so little opportunity for publicity from interstellar missions that there just aren't likely to be any in the near future.

Re:Voyager wasn't an interestellar mission (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39682857)

Their original mission may not have been interstellar, but their current mission, including subsequent work done planning and managing it certainly is.

I can't give citation either, but I'm sure a lot more money went into paying the people who work for this, subsequent mission than into the spacecraft.

Re:Voyager wasn't an interestellar mission (0)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683513)

the Voyager probes were designed to photograph the planets and record relevant non-visual data, during the recent "grand conjunction" phase [...]
I'm afraid I must apologize for my evident lack of citations, here.

Indeed. You're close, but it's the not the "Grand Conjunction" it's the Great Conjunction. [citatation provided] [youtube.com]

We need an ongoing Voyager program. (4, Interesting)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682727)

Given the long duration to get a probe to the edge of the solar system, and the rapid advances in instrumentation, I think we should be launching a Voyager type probe every 5-10 years. They needn’t follow a single path, in fact, heading off to different parts of the heliosphere makes more sense.

Launch windows will of course determine the schedule and affect the trajectory, but I think learning about the heliopause, interstellar environment, and eventually, the Oort Cloud is vital. Given current propulsion technologies, it will take many years to reach those areas. The best way I see to deal with that is “launch early, launch often”.

And, since each probe will need monitoring for decades, it would make sense to put them into a single, ongoing program, where much of the monitoring and development could be consolidated.

Re:We need an ongoing Voyager program. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39682895)

Interesting. And how do you propose one funds the launches... given there aren't any funds currently to necessarily keep "Nasa" afloat. You can't launch if you can't pay your bills.

Re:We need an ongoing Voyager program. (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682947)

How do large open source software projects get 'funding'? Surely there are a lot of man hours in something like Firefox or Linux. Where did the money come from to pay for all that work?

Re:We need an ongoing Voyager program. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39683069)

Open source projects, since they mostly exist as virtual rather than physical products, get the benefit of riding on inefficiencies in the system for most of their early lives. Many open source projects basically start out on the free, unused engineering and coding time that's leftover by some coder who's gainfully employed full time doing something else. The company is paying him for full-time output, but he gets to do some open source work on the side without anyone noticing much. The "startup" costs for open source are tiny enough that it's easy to build a project from peoples' snippets of time input like that.

Once an open source project becomes "large", it's already successful, so it isn't hard to attract corporate donors who want their name associated with the project.

With any space mission the startup costs are relatively large before you can even determine the odds of eventual success, and much of the cost is in hard dollars for specialty equipment. It's not easy to squeeze that out of inefficiencies somewhere and start on a shoestring.

Re:We need an ongoing Voyager program. (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683149)

Your points are well taken. Nevertheless I think it might be possible for even a relatively small group of people with different skills to build a launchable spacecraft for free. Not an interstellar craft of course. The only current tech that may be able to do that involves nuclear weapons. Probably in addition to a lunar smelter and manufacturing facility. So that's government only.

Nevertheless I have to wonder about the potential for some kind of space project that people work on in their spare time. Weekends, vacations, sabbaticals. Retired engineers and scientists. University students. If money is the only thing stopping our species from further space exploration it seems like a large organization of highly motivated people could achieve something with very little money.

Re:We need an ongoing Voyager program. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683551)

If money is the only thing stopping our species from further space exploration it seems like a large organization of highly motivated people could achieve something with very little money.

Uh no. Logicfail. If money is the only thing stopping us then we still need money. It takes a lot of energy to go into space. You don't just go dig up some ore and pound it with a hammer.

Re:We need an ongoing Voyager program. (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683605)

Are you suggesting a donations-based space programme? Kickstarter, maybe?

I like your style, but it's serious amounts of money we're talking about. Even if you accept some volunteer experts instead of money, you'd still need cash for the material fundamentals. New Horizons (which is the closest thing to Voyager in recent years) costs something like $650 million. Kickstarter hasn't managed any projects more than about $3.5 million yet. So you'd be talking about raising 200x as much money.

If an ambitious donations-led space mission were set up, I'd definitely pledge some money. But I don't have much optimism that we would raise anything like enough.

Re:We need an ongoing Voyager program. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39683085)

And how do you propose one funds the launches...

Kickstarter?

Re:We need an ongoing Voyager program. (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683293)

Mars Pathfinder [wikipedia.org] demonstrated a model that works well. If you're going with the "Launch Early, Launch Often" model I suggested, then you don't have to try to cram the most advanced (and most expensive) technologies into each mission, you go with lower cost and simpler instruments. One difference from Pathfinder, these instruments have to be designed for longevity, but they don't have to survive the heat and g-forces of a landing, so you have different engineering tradeoffs.

Again, the frequent launch strategy also reduces the scientific loss from any failure, whether it's a launch failure, or an early instrument failure, etc. As long as we can communicate with it and at least one instrument is working, we're getting potentially useful info. It also means that the complete loss of a probe doesn't create a multi-decade gap in information gathering (with a corresponding loss of the people skilled in building the craft, operating them, and analyzing the data.

I suspect you can operate such a program for well under $500M/yr, maybe under $250M/yr. Those are "wild guesses" based upon the fact that we were able design, build, launch, and operate Mars Pathfinder for $280M total over several years. Allowing more for operations, more for build costs, and launching 1-2 probes ~ every 5 years, I suspect $250M/yr is on the high side, but since I have no other hard data, I've allowed for twice that on the high end.

What I really like is a pink probe (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39682731)

called a tongue up my ass. Just some college girl that'll go into my deep space and I'll return the favor with more gusto than Steve Ballmer at a family reunion in a zoo with a pile of bananas.

We'll hear from them again (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39682783)

It's ok. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39682795)

We're in good company judging by how busy the galaxy seems to be.
Yet another minor footnote of a species in the grand scheme of things that did not use their small window between having the technology to try leaving their home planet. And the next global disaster that wipes life off the planet.

Gamma ray burst, comet, meteor, supervolcano, germ, pole shift, nuclear/chemical/bio war, toxic air/earth/water/food, solar flare, global warming, ecosystem collapse, rogue black hole, particle accelerator mishap, nanotech accident, and many other things we can't even predict.

We backup our computer data. But not our species.

Unlikely? Nah. We know at least most of those WILL happen again at some point in the future.
But it would be hard, and expensive, and take a while to even attempt to create a new human location..
So lets just not do it. Lets continue keeping all our stuff in one place. Screw space! Planning ahead is for suckers.

Lets go watch tv. I've got popcorn.

Re:It's ok. (3, Interesting)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682929)

I wouldn't read too much into The Great Silence. It is surprising that there are no bright beacons, unless you consider pulsars to be beacons, but neither the radio silence nor the lack of probes in every star system really prove very much. SETI is a needle in a haystack search. A large number of improbable events would have to occur for us to receive a signal that way. For all we know there could be loud transmissions from Epsilon Indi or Gliese 581, but on a frequency that more or less requires a radio telescope that isn't at the bottom of a vast oxygen-nitrogen ocean. Our atmosphere is virtually opaque to many frequencies and the idea of the 'water hole' meaning anything special to other species is a huge stretch.

Re:It's ok. (3, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683097)

"So lets just not do it. Lets continue keeping all our stuff in one place. Screw space! Planning ahead is for suckers."

It's more like the fact that the vast majority of the population isn't intelligent enough to want it and most of them are struggling (financially) so exactly why would they want to spend something that smarter future generations could do much quicker and efficiently then old human being v1.0?

I think people who rail against events in our time forget how inefficient and slow human beings are. IMHO we should focus in making better human beings and/or robots/AI tools that augment human intelligence. Our main problem isn't that we're not curious, it's that we don't have enough intelligent, responsible and secure human beings on planet earth.

Re:It's ok. (2)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683199)

It's ok, don't despair, God's got your back.

Re:It's ok. (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683483)

All those things are much easier to survive with a "backup" bunker on earth than one anywhere else in the solar system.

Re:It's ok. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39683669)

You're absolutely right. And it's pathetic and lazy.

But then I'm honestly embarrassed to be a member of the human race 99% of the time. We indulge our basest instincts to such a degree that one would think we could never overcome it. Violence against each other. Hate against those who are different. Greed for everything cause 'gots to get mines, yo'. And a good portion treat their own bodies like shit as well. So it's no surprise most truly don't give a shit about their fellow man. It seems the only time one can count on others is after a major disaster. Mostly. And that's probably what it will take to get people interested in anything outside their own limited little world. But by then it may be too late to do anything about it.

So fuck it. Gimme some popcorn, move over and let's watch our shitty species burn.

Voyager Will Yet Be Reborn... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39682809)

One fateful day Voyager will return as Veejur.

May God watch over you James Tiberious Kirk.

Why not mass produce probes? (4, Interesting)

a_hanso (1891616) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682851)

Say,

1. Mass produce the science instruments. At least have common designs so that they can be quickly fabricated.

2. Common OS, instrument bus and communications sub system.

3. A common power plant and chassis design.

4. A common Earth orbit departure stage.

I know that the instrument specs for each mission is unique and the propulsion and communication requirements all depend on the probe's trajectory, but I'm thinking that they can do a lot more prefab-and-assembly than they are doing now.

Re:Why not mass produce probes? (5, Informative)

manoweb (1993306) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683027)

Very unfortunately, that's impossible. There isn't enough Plutonium left for all those probes, and the politics are not in favour of investing in nuclear power plants that can produce it.

Re:Why not mass produce probes? (1)

a_hanso (1891616) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683171)

Damn nucleophobes. Can't other isotopes do the job?

Re:Why not mass produce probes? (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683033)

Maybe not quite accurate, but I think NASA tried this approach about 10-15 years ago with their "faster, better, cheaper" approach. Just ended up digging a lot of holes with multimillion dollar equipment.

Re:Why not mass produce probes? (1)

a_hanso (1891616) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683185)

It's a fundamentally sound idea. Perhaps they executed it all wrong. This type of assembly works for almost every other type of device or vehicle known to man. I can't think of any reasons why it wouldn't fundamentally work for space probes.

benefiting the world (4, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 2 years ago | (#39682949)

The Voyager program, like most of the US space efforts, is creating data that benefits the world. With Voyager in particular, the world has gotten a great value because we not only got data on the outer planets, but also an extended mission that is going to define boundaries that we are able to define in no other way. It is interesting to note that the Voyager program not only was not funded to map the edges of the solar system, but was not even fully funded for it's original mission, to visit most of the planets.

In spite of this limited funding, like so many other NASA project, it met and exceeding objectives. As such it is strange that we are complaining that we have no deep space program when we really never had a deep space program. What we have had are basic program that have been extended as able. We have, for the first time, a defined boundary of the solar system. Now that we know, a formal intersteller mission can be planned. But, as mentioned this is world project, so it should be funded by others in addition to the US.

The problem with the space program is US funding. Increasingly citizens in the US want their entitlements without any strings attached. The progress we have made has been costly, and I thank past generations for shouldering the cost that has made the US a great place to live. It is sad that the current generation is so self absorbed that they cannot think of anything beyond the dollars they have to spend to keep the US great.

Re:benefiting the world (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683057)

It is sad that the current generation is so self absorbed that they cannot think of anything beyond the dollars they have to spend to keep the US great.

Sorry to say, but they ain't got lots of spare dollars anymore. China is the biggest manufacturing country now - maybe they should take a turn.

There's no real reason NASA has to do all the work for humanity. OK, so the ESA has a few nice contributions, but not in relation to their GDP. And they don't even waste all their money on an absurd military.

Re:benefiting the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39683117)

Maybe they wouldn't feel that they needed entitlements if the American companies they gave money to didn't send that cash out of country as fast as humanly possible. When you talk about China's burgeoning economy, who's paying for that?

Re:benefiting the world (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683241)

It is sad that the current generation is so self absorbed that they cannot think of anything beyond the dollars they have to spend to keep the US great.

Sorry to say, but they ain't got lots of spare dollars anymore. China is the biggest manufacturing country now - maybe they should take a turn.

There's no real reason NASA has to do all the work for humanity. OK, so the ESA has a few nice contributions, but not in relation to their GDP. And they don't even waste all their money on an absurd military.

I wouldn't count on China to share much of any advances they make with their space program with the rest of the world. Anything truly worthwhile that gives China an advantage will be kept by China and not freely shared like NASA or the ESA does with the knowledge and data they gather from space exploration.

If you think the US is a world bully, wait until China becomes the main and/or sole remaining superpower. As the saying goes, "you ain't seen nothin' yet!". Judging from what they have shown themselves willing to do to their own people with hardly a second thought, I don't see good things coming for the planet with China being the only or most-powerful superpower.

The US has borrowed itself nearly into collapse, as politicians use borrowed money to finance their bread and circuses to assure election/re-election and make the population dependent on government largesse, thus bringing them under ever-increasing levels of government control.

The US government has, since the cold war has ended, slowly reduced space exploration's priority for government spending in favor of domestic entitlement programs to further government dependence and to finance increases in the size of government to manage all the entitlement programs and to further regulate, imprison, and intrusively monitor the population into eventual total subservience to the government.

In order for the US space program to receive the kind of priority and levels of funding seen in the '60s, either there needs to be another "cold war" and space-race, or a successful US domestic rebellion and the current government overthrown for one that doesn't view the US Constitution as so much toilet paper and actually represents the people that elect them.

I fear we may soon find we're living out that ancient Chinese curse; "May you live in interesting times".

Strat

Re:benefiting the world (5, Interesting)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683337)

The problem with the space program is US funding. Increasingly citizens in the US want their entitlements without any strings attached.

Despite all the debates and rhetoric about it, entitlements aren't the problem. Social Security and Medicare the two big entitlements are in fact paid for from separate taxes that exceed the amount spent on those programs. Look at the federal budget. Military spending, is the biggest portion, bigger than all entitlements combined. NASA's budget is less than 1% of the federal budget. What's killing us are all the "wars", the overseas wars, the "war on drugs", the "war on terror", etc.

Don't misunderstand me, we need a military, we need defense. But the "war on drugs" is a complete waste, the "war or terror" is out of control, and the other wars are just a way for people supplying the military to get rich while bankrupting the country.

Re:benefiting the world (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683567)

I thank past generations for shouldering the cost that has made the US a great place to live. It is sad that the current generation is so self absorbed that they cannot think of anything beyond the dollars they have to spend to keep the US great.

You're either blind or just ignorant. We pay our dues, we give the government VAST amounts of money, with which they squander on needless wars to keep the arms and military-industrial business going.
NASA's funding is a drop in the bucket comparatively, I can see NO REASON AT ALL not to 100% fund EVERY program that comes out of NASA, considering we spend more than their whole budget just to air-condition the troops. [gizmodo.com]

Don't get me wrong, I support the troops and all that bullshit, but I'm not behind the reasoning of their CO, and our congress critters.

Priorites People! Let's throw out all those gas-bags, and keep doing it until they get them straight.

Priorities. (2)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683023)

The government needs that money to kill a few more brown people and to create more enemies to keep us distracted so our leaders stay in power.

New Horizons (2)

manoweb (1993306) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683053)

Keep in mind that New Horizons will arrive close to Pluto in 2015 and it's he fastest probe ever, it will likely reach much further distances than Voyager while still operative, so I am optimistic after all.

Re:New Horizons (4, Informative)

DirePickle (796986) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683103)

Unfortunately, while New Horizons left at the fastest speed ever, it's currently moving at 15km/s (and slowing) and Voyager 1 is cruising at a bit over 17km/s. Per Wikipedia, when NH is at the distance that V1 is now, it'll only be moving at 13km/s.

Re:New Horizons (2)

manoweb (1993306) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683159)

Always the pessimistic side!!! ;)

The era of cheap energy is over (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39683087)

We simply don't have the resources anymore. And since our silly economic system that is based on constant growth is collapsing what little we have is allocated elsewhere.

Barring a revolution in solar or fusion power or a discovery of another very powerful source of energy, our space exploring days are firmly behind us.

Opinion Question on Engines (1)

Spinalcold (955025) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683163)

Most people here want a follow up probe, but this took 40 years to reach there. The initial goal was the outer planets, this was an afterthought. We need to reach the heliosphere earlier. What engine do you think would be the best? Personally the VASMIR engine seems best to me but there are many other options.

Re:Opinion Question on Engines (3, Informative)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683407)

You want the greatest specific impulse [wikipedia.org] possible, so an ion engine is the best option.

Contact (1)

louzer (1006689) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683217)

Small moves, Ellie. Small moves.

Whatcha gonna do? (3, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683277)

Seriously, what are you gonna do to persuade the average human of the critical importance of space exploration and colonization? They can neither see nor reason past the ends of their noses. They would rather argue about abortion and gay rights and whether so-and-so 'had work done' and what sort of debauchery they have planned for Friday night. That's on the 99-percent end of the scale; on the other end you have people who can't see nor reason past their own bloated bank accounts and genitalia.

yawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39683353)

Yet another over sensationalist bullshit editorial from the shitbags at trashdot.

New Horizons? (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683395)

New Horizins [wikipedia.org] is on it's way there now. The article seems to contradict the summary and the headline.

Passing the torch...unwillingly (2)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683613)

The US and Russia have funded almost every foray past Low Earth Orbit. Russia might keep going in a very small way, but the US is far too dominated by bean counters and corporate whores.

In 10 or 15 years, the "language of space" will probably be Chinese.

Safety first. (1)

Jukeman (1522147) | more than 2 years ago | (#39683653)

As long as NASA keeps safety first, nothing neat is ever going to happen there, astronauts will still die but by old age, boring. Nothing safer then sitting on the ground. The current director tied to change the goal to "teaching the Arabs how important their culture was"; no matter how successful that was, it didn't make a rocket go up.
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