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Former Director of the ISS Division At NASA Talks About Science Behind 'Elysium'

Unknown Lamer posted about 9 months ago | from the hardware-part-two dept.

Space 366

Nerval's Lobster writes "In the new movie 'Elysium,' Earth a century and a half from now is an overtaxed slum, low on niceties like clean water and riddled with crime and sickness. The ultra-rich have abandoned terra firma in favor of Elysium, an orbital space station where the champagne flows freely and the medical care is the best possible. Mark Uhran, former director of the International Space Station Division at NASA headquarters, talked with Slashdot about what it would take (and how much it would cost) to actually build a space station like that for civilians. It turns out NASA did a report way back in 1975 describing what it would take to build a Stanford torus space station like the one in the movie: rotation for artificial gravity, a separate shield for radiation and debris, the ability to mine materials from astroids or possibly the moon, and $190.8 billion in 1975 dollars (the equivalent of $828.11 billion today). Looks like the ultra-rich are stuck on Earth for the time being." And still artificial gravity experiments languish.

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366 comments

who pays for maintenance? (5, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about 9 months ago | (#44496971)

if the rich are in the station and the poor people on earth have no money, how do the rich people make more money to pay the bills?

Re:who pays for maintenance? (2)

ZarathustraDK (1291688) | about 9 months ago | (#44497079)

They just contact the crew of the bunghole-shaped spacestation where all the lawyers are sent, done deal.

Re:who pays for maintenance? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497089)

if the rich are in the station and the poor people on earth have no money, how do the rich people make more money to pay the bills?

The same way any deeply inequal society does: create the illusion among the poor that if they just work "a little harder" they too can become part of the elite ruling class.

Re:who pays for maintenance? (-1, Troll)

operagost (62405) | about 9 months ago | (#44497349)

We already have many Karl Marxs on here; your services are not needed.

Re:who pays for maintenance? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 9 months ago | (#44497409)

There are *multiple* Karl Marxs? Just exactly how many Marx brothers are there?

Re:who pays for maintenance? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497501)

Karl, Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo, Zeppo, and Dumbo.

Although you sometimes see Karl here, Dumbo is a frequent poster. Sometimes Karl and Dumbo co-author posts. They collaborate well together.

Re:who pays for maintenance? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497647)

Don't forget Richard Marx!

Hold onnn to the niiight....

Re:who pays for maintenance? (3, Insightful)

some old guy (674482) | about 9 months ago | (#44497533)

You're right. How dare anyone question the God-given right of greedy, amoral pigs to exploit and dominate their fellow humans!

Re:who pays for maintenance? (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 9 months ago | (#44497555)

The notion that hard work will not guarantee you become rich is Marxist?

You really want to go with that answer?

Re:who pays for maintenance? (4, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about 9 months ago | (#44497511)

that's ghetto lottery thinking right there. you're a failure unless you become a billionaire.

most people are content to view success as living a comfortable life. even hundreds of years ago lots of people became merchants or craftsmen because they had no chance of becoming royalty and didn't want to

Re:who pays for maintenance? (1)

Nickodeimus (1263214) | about 9 months ago | (#44497093)

They do the same as they are doing right now - they just print it. Who cares whether it really has value. its $100 because they say it is.

Re:who pays for maintenance? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 9 months ago | (#44497401)

its $100 because they say it is.

that's not quite it works. ussr had plenty of cash and fixed prices - nothing on the store shelves though in the end. everything moves to some other currency then(in the ussr, dollars & goods, you could buy anything with western pantyhose).

but even if you had a slum the size of earth, then you would have plenty of business to do there to accumulate wealth. why they would choose to live in the fucking orbit I don't quite get though since they could live richer and flow even more champagne if they lived planetside, even if they wanted to live in isolated biosphere - and if you worry about the proles invading your rich-ranch.. well fuck, they could blow up the space station and everyone in orbital station would be just as fucked so it doesn't really help there.

somehow though the synopsis reminded me of ZARDOZ, except zardoz seems to have more solid base to it.

proof Connery more of a man than Damon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497545)

somehow though the synopsis reminded me of ZARDOZ

Not enough Matt Damon in Pretty Woman hooker boots.

Re:who pays for maintenance? (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about 9 months ago | (#44497649)

somehow though the synopsis reminded me of ZARDOZ, except zardoz seems to have more solid base to it.

And a giant fucking head. Don't forget the giant fucking head. With Sean Connery in red bondage gear in its mouth. And that's just the first part of the film. I couldn't make this shit up. The 1970s were the single greatest argument against drug use I have ever come across.

Anyway... As for slums, yeah, there's still a lot of business to do there, just because it sucks and every individual is poor, it doesn't mean that the overall economy is unproductive, it's just not productive enough to provide a high standard of living for the teeming masses. In fact, the productivity of humanity could be incredibly high, but if the population explosion overtakes that, you're stuck with a ton of poor people.

About the only reason to build the orbital station would be that a biosphere could too easily be compromised. But that is not too hard to believe, as it is becoming increasingly simple to build destructive weaponry that is accessible to the masses. While the station could be blown up in space, doing anything in space actually takes a lot of effort, certainly a lot more than having a few hundred people suicide bomb your biosphere on the planet. Presumably any proles allowed to work on the station would be both incentivized by simply not having to live on Earth, and screened extremely carefully. They'd be psych tested and background checked, not to mention watched constantly and tracked via various methods while on the station.

Re:who pays for maintenance? (4, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#44497161)

Ownership of property.

The money-making businesses stay on earth, making money. The stockholders go up into orbit. They may not be on earth, but they still get their share dividends - which can then pay the cost of resupply rockets.

Re:who pays for maintenance? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 9 months ago | (#44497183)

if the rich are in the station and the poor people on earth have no money, how do the rich people make more money to pay the bills?

The same way they do now -- patents, IP lawyers, lobbying the government, and making sure we're beholden to them for absolutely everything and become modern serfs.

The corporate wet dream, and the standard dystopian future -- an oligarchy where even the food and air will be controlled by corporations.

You think when Larry Ellison is on his own private island it's all that different from being on a space station? The plebes still have to jump even when he's sitting in luxury.

Re:who pays for maintenance? (1)

alen (225700) | about 9 months ago | (#44497327)

the USA has enough free space where you can buy a cheapo house in the middle of no where and grow your own food and live a self sufficient life

Re:who pays for maintenance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497199)

the rich don't need to maintain, they sell and buy new

Re:who pays for maintenance? (5, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about 9 months ago | (#44497429)

Science Fiction is not prophecy, it is a story.

Things rarely every go the way it does in Science Fiction, sure some elements come true however they are never so extreme as the story make it.

Mid 20th century Sci-Fi was overly optimistic. Late 20th century Sci-Fi became overly pessimistic.
The what really happens in the middle, and for the most part when it happens we don't care too much.
We are no where near 1984 type of world, however there are some small elements that we need to keep an eye on.
We are no where near the Jetsons, however there are technologies in today's world we wouldn't want to give up.

Re:who pays for maintenance? (4, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | about 9 months ago | (#44497633)

"Science Fiction is not prophecy, it is a story."

Wrong!

"Idiocracy" is not only prophecy, it's a documentary sent from the future. Hell we are already in the early stages of it. I have seen the SIGNS!

Re:who pays for maintenance? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 9 months ago | (#44497445)

Exactly. Wealth is proportional and relative to the disparity between the rich and poor. A space station completely cutoff from Earth severs that that tie between the rich and poor. There for, the "rich" have no wealth.

Re:who pays for maintenance? (1)

Xeth (614132) | about 9 months ago | (#44497569)

The trailer appears to show the people on Earth forced to work for scraps in factories (presumably making things the people on the station want), with order being enforced by autonomous/remotely-controlled humanoid drones.

Re:who pays for maintenance? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 9 months ago | (#44497619)

Same way they do now. you think the rich live in the factories where they underpay the poor?

Sex in space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44496997)

They could start a brothel and come up with this kind of money in NO TIME. We know from what has gone on in the media over the past couple of decades that SEX SELLS.
 
Just sayin'!
captcha: champion

LET US CALL IT WHAT IT IS !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497005)

A good thing for all Americans !!

That seems affordable (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497017)

Maybe my memory isn't so great, but isn't that less than a couple bailouts the US had a few years ago?

Wouldn't a project of this magnitude do a lot more in job creation and technology growth than salvaging the US auto industry? I thought saving GM et al cost a trillion?

Re:That seems affordable (1)

alen (225700) | about 9 months ago | (#44497055)

and what would be the point to have people live in space on a perpetual vacation?

what would the return on investment be?

Re:That seems affordable (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about 9 months ago | (#44497083)

The ultrarich wouldn't have to put up with poor and homeless wandering onto their estates all the time. They'd know their neighbors are 'quality people' who think, act, and believe just like they do.

Re:That seems affordable (1)

alen (225700) | about 9 months ago | (#44497127)

so why does this not work in NYC?

almost every new ultra luxury building has 20% apartments set aside for low income people and rich people still buy condos there. granted they have separate elevators and entrances, but the lower income people here are spread around the city and not packed into ghettos like in the 60's with the public housing projects

Re:That seems affordable (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497335)

This is more like the ultimate gated community, with the gate being "You must be this rich to afford the shuttle trip".

Re:That seems affordable (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 9 months ago | (#44497403)

so why does this not work in NYC?

almost every new ultra luxury building has 20% apartments set aside for low income

Because they still have to deal with the pesky laws which make some attempt at equality and fairness.

But don't worry, they're slowly chipping away at them -- they've already convinced everybody that a "border stop" can be 100+ miles from a border and that we need to be scanned, fingerprinted, cataloged, and monitored for our own safety.

Do you honestly believe there aren't people who would happily pass laws which say "screw the poor, money is power"?

There's tons of people who believe government should only enforce property rights and contract law -- at which point the rest of the world can go pound sand, or eventually decide that system isn't working for them and don't want to play by those rules because there's no benefit to them.

It doesn't have to happen exactly as it does in the fiction ... but you can already see many elements of it happening now.

Re:That seems affordable (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 9 months ago | (#44497539)

There is a natural limit to this sort of thing. Once it gets too bad and people find themselves with nothing to lose they tend to murder some rich folks.

I have only seen the trailers of Elysium but it looks like he works making the robots the rich use to oppress the poor. At some point people would stop doing those jobs and start actively sabotaging things like resupply ships to the space station.

Re:That seems affordable (1)

afidel (530433) | about 9 months ago | (#44497531)

No, the auto bailouts ended up costing very little ($20.3B as of January of this year), there were guaranteed loans of close to $1T but since none of those were defaulted on they ended up making the government some money (not really, the government can't make money, their 'profit' was really a reduction in circulating dollars causing a slight amount of deflation). In the long run it makes them money since it kept manufacturing jobs in the US which drives revenue through taxes.

the idea behind the movie is dumb (3, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about 9 months ago | (#44497029)

this is off topic, but there is lots of history that shows that some of these dystopian ideas are dumb. the USA and Australia were both originally populated by criminals, slaves, and people the UK didn't want. both became greater than the mother country because people don't just give up and die.

lots of other examples from history like greece, the middle east, ancient rome where the colonies became greater than the original

Re:the idea behind the movie is dumb (3, Interesting)

jkflying (2190798) | about 9 months ago | (#44497109)

Well, the movie is about exactly why this dystopian idea is dumb: people don't give up, especially when they have little to lose. The movie just shows the 'during', not the 'after'.

Re:the idea behind the movie is dumb (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 9 months ago | (#44497125)

this is off topic, but there is lots of history that shows that some of these dystopian ideas are dumb. the USA and Australia were both originally populated by criminals, slaves, and people the UK didn't want. both became greater than the mother country because of tremendous "available" tracts of land and natural resources

I think you're missing the point. It's not about the spirit of the people, it's about the raw capital, and ability to grow through rapid economic expansion. Except for maybe Mars, space doesn't really provide that.

Re:the idea behind the movie is dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497303)

Nope. It's basically the story of how the poors are jealous of the rich and go off heroing it up to ruin everything that the rich have.

Re:the idea behind the movie is dumb (1)

Rakishi (759894) | about 9 months ago | (#44497621)

Except for maybe Mars, space doesn't really provide that.

A relatively small asteroid has more metal in it than all of Earth's mining industries produce in a year. Space is filled with resources, the issue is as always getting them to where you need them. If you live in space that's a lot easier than if you live on Earth.

As for available land. Space... is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is.

Re:the idea behind the movie is dumb (1)

OakDragon (885217) | about 9 months ago | (#44497197)

...the USA and Australia were both originally populated by criminals, slaves, and people the UK didn't want...

I was going to take exception to the "criminals" part, regarding the USA. Then I remembered that most of us were traitors.

Re:the idea behind the movie is dumb (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497517)

...the USA and Australia were both originally populated by criminals, slaves, and people the UK didn't want...

I was going to take exception to the "criminals" part, regarding the USA. Then I remembered that most of us were traitors.

The US was more in the "people the UK didn't want" category. The Pilgrims who settled Massachusetts were religious extremists who go kicked out, Georgia was initially settles by people dodging debtor's prison, most colonies included a large number of indentured servants, and eventually e started importing slaves in insane quantities.

Australia was an actual penal colony, but the US was a more generic "you don't have to go to Australia, but you can't stay here".

Re:the idea behind the movie is dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497553)

Were?

Re:the idea behind the movie is dumb (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 9 months ago | (#44497233)

Yes, but now we have multi-national corporations and the treaties they write on behalf of government.

Dystopian futures fall into "oppressive government" or "oppressive corporations" -- and we're proceeding on track for the corporations to do what governments have been unable to do for hundreds of years.

Because when Comcast is planning on giving you 'friendly' tips you're about to violate copyright, and industry groups write the text of your treaties to their own benefit -- unless you can reverse that, that's where we're heading. As governments become the policy and enforcement arm for industry, they have more and more say into how things work.

Re:the idea behind the movie is dumb (1)

alen (225700) | about 9 months ago | (#44497343)

OMG, they are going to make you pay to rent or buy movies instead of watching them for free

oppression

Re:the idea behind the movie is dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497449)

No, they have made it illegal(payment required) to sing Happy Birthday in public.

AC

Re:the idea behind the movie is dumb (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 9 months ago | (#44497451)

Or pay a license fee to sing happy birthday, or pay to buy clean water, or Mickey Mouse being granted perpetual copyright, or patenting everything so it's not possible to make anything without paying some asshat royalties for a patent so obvious anybody could tell you how to do it.

No sir, those things could never happen.

It's about way more than movies.

Re:the idea behind the movie is dumb (1, Interesting)

alen (225700) | about 9 months ago | (#44497599)

big deal
its illegal to sing happy birthday to make money off it, when someone gets sued for singing it in their backyard or chuck e cheese, call me
water is dirty in the ground, costs money to clean it. clean water always cost money
go make your own character, people do it every day
people have been paying patent royalties for decades. nothing new is made in a vacuum. get over it. part of doing business. that's why we have standards based patent pools

lots of us old people did a lot of work over the years to get computing and tech to where it is today. if you want to profit off it, pay up or write your own OS and all the software from scratch

Re:the idea behind the movie is dumb (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 9 months ago | (#44497353)

Haven't seen it but was there an undercurrent of capitlaism as the big bad guy?

This would be strange because the previews talked about lifesaving autodoc type medicine that greedy capitalists would be eager to spit out like popcorn and put a coin slot on the side.

As-is it looks more like a good old story of royalty gone amok. I wonder if Star Trek ever did such an episode.

I can't even watch my beloved PBS Lathe of Heaven anymore without knowing the shortages were the result of restrictions and rationing decades after it started.

Re:the idea behind the movie is dumb (1)

alen (225700) | about 9 months ago | (#44497475)

Wall-E from disney

earth people went to space in huge space liners controlled by robots. the robots made sure the people were always chilling and never worked. the robots became a dictatorship controlling the fat out of shape lazy humans.

same here. the security forces would quickly take control from these dumb rich people who only want to lie around tanning and resting.

Re:the idea behind the movie is dumb (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 9 months ago | (#44497603)

Yeah, if you could make such a machine they would be on street corners. People would be lined up around the block and willing to feed it any money they had.

Re:the idea behind the movie is dumb (1)

somersault (912633) | about 9 months ago | (#44497397)

What exactly is "greater" about Oz, other than the weather/beaches? I wouldn't actually want to live in Australia or the USA. Maybe Canada.

Re:the idea behind the movie is dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497611)

The movie isn't about giving up and dying, it's about being contented in doing hard labor for minimal return. And people will do that if they do if they're being constantly monitored and threatened by drones, as the movie seems to depict. Even if a space station isn't practical (which at a mere $900 billion, it probably is; compare that to, as another poster said, the bank bailouts), the ultra-rich retreating to distant islands or fortified compounds is quite plausible.

That sounds expensive but... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497033)

Think about this: for less than the cost of the war in Iraq, or for three F-35 development programs, or any number of measures, the war machine is incredibly expensive.

War on Earth seems to be holding us here.

Re:That sounds expensive but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497615)

Think about this: if we actually did stop spending money on war, we'd make life so good for everyone here, why do you need space?

Stuck?? (5, Insightful)

Omega Hacker (6676) | about 9 months ago | (#44497049)

I just totaled up the net "worth" of the top 25 people on Forbes 2013 billionaires list, and I got $839.8 billion. Not quite sure how $828.11bn is out of reach if certain people were sufficiently motivated, when it only takes the top 25. Now, if we were talking about something that cost $10 trillion or so, then I might consider it functionally out of reach, as that probably surpasses the net worth of the top several thousand.

Re:Stuck?? (1)

alen (225700) | about 9 months ago | (#44497087)

not to bring reality into this, but a lot of rich people rarely retire. they are always looking for new business opportunities.

spending their money to go live out a life of perpetual vacation is not something they would do

Re:Stuck?? (1)

Omega Hacker (6676) | about 9 months ago | (#44497115)

Agreed, I'm just pointing out that the "capital" absolutely exists on this planet, if enough of it is concentrated in just 25 people to achieve the task. Not saying they would personally, but debunking the implication that "it can't be done, it's too expensive".

Re:Stuck?? (1)

alen (225700) | about 9 months ago | (#44497405)

most of this capital is not real money

most of the net worth of the ultra rich is in stocks, bonds and lots of other paper they would have to sell for cash money. but there is almost not enough cash money to pay for all of their "net worth"

on paper Bill Gates might be worth $30 billion but its all MS stock. if he sold all of it today the value would drop to the point where he might get 1/3 of it. his worth is from the dividends MS pays. not like he has $30 billion in the bank.

same with tim cook and others who get paid hundreds of millions of $$$ on paper but its 95% restricted stock options they can't turn into cash for many years if ever

but if you were to build a space station, the people building it and supplying the materials would want to be paid TODAY. IN CASH. real money. you would have to find people to lend you the money to buy the bonds to pay for this thing at 5% or more in interest which would mean $50 billion per year in interest payments

Re:Stuck?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497155)

Damn you and your maths!

Re:Stuck?? (4, Interesting)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 9 months ago | (#44497211)

Global private wealth is about $50 trillion. The top thousand could handle $800 billion without exhausting their resources.

The problem is the economic instability it would create, as so much of the world's production capacity is devoted to a vanity project useless to 99.99999% of the population. Plus there is the fact that wealth is only as real as everyone else believing it is yours. Something like this would spawn a global class war, and rightly so.

Re:Stuck?? (1)

scarboni888 (1122993) | about 9 months ago | (#44497481)

With a sufficiently militarized police forces and scaling up of the prison industrial complex this shouldn't be a problem.

Re:Stuck?? (2)

mcmonkey (96054) | about 9 months ago | (#44497641)

The problem is the economic instability it would create, as so much of the world's production capacity is devoted to a vanity project useless to 99.99999% of the population. Plus there is the fact that wealth is only as real as everyone else believing it is yours. Something like this would spawn a global class war, and rightly so.

From where comes the economic instability? First, people don't think in terms of percentage of the world's production capacity. Second, who do you think is going to build this thing? At least at first, a large space station for the super-rich would be a huge jobs project. A lot of the people you might expect to be against such a project would be strong proponents and among the first to line up for jobs.

Of course, once the thing is built and those jobs are gone and maintenance depends on cheap labor and materials from the surface, that situation changes. But judging by the trailers, that's the plot of the movie.

Re:Stuck?? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 9 months ago | (#44497299)

And large corporations control far more money than that.

Convince a government or two that for on-going national security your leaders need to be someplace safe from terrorists and opposing views, and they'll throw money at it too.

You don't think Wall Street couldn't come up with the capital to make sure our overlords aren't whisked away? They'll just find a way to transfer more money from us to them. Fox News and the Republicans would be the first to agree with this, because it's all about corporate profits.

An actual space station might be a tad much, but it's always possible for the wealthy to find ways to insulate themselves from the rest of us.

Re:Stuck?? (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 9 months ago | (#44497309)

Not to say they'd be in the poor house, but if all the top 25 people decided to drop their entire fortune into something like this that "worth" would drop top 1% of what it is now and the companies that they are invested in would go under.

As Bill Gates put it, "I am forever tied to Microsoft."

http://money.howstuffworks.com/richest-person1.htm [howstuffworks.com]

Re:Stuck?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497457)

I just totaled up the net "worth" of the top 25 people on Forbes 2013 billionaires list, and I got $839.8 billion. Not quite sure how $828.11bn is out of reach if certain people were sufficiently motivated, when it only takes the top 25. Now, if we were talking about something that cost $10 trillion or so, then I might consider it functionally out of reach, as that probably surpasses the net worth of the top several thousand.

When you factor in the cost of maintaining their lifestyle (hookers, blow, etc) it can easily surpass that. Just because 25 people could build a space station if they wanted to, doesn't mean they want to. There are way too many hedonistic ways to spend all that loot earthside that dont involve staring at the same 24 other people for years on end, eating spacemush and counting stars. Once 0-G fuckin' becomes a "thing" we can re-evaluate the possibility.

Send inquiries to: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497053)

Tessier-Ashpool
Villa Straylight
Freeside

Almost a trillion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497067)

what is the amount of $ spent each year for military equipment, world wide?

"rich are stuck on Earth for the time being" (1)

cablepokerface (718716) | about 9 months ago | (#44497091)

How so? I would take an agreement of only the richest 40 on the planet. http://www.forbes.com/billionaires/list/ [forbes.com]

Then again, they probably couldn't agree on the champagne brand alone

Re:"rich are stuck on Earth for the time being" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497521)

How so? I would take an agreement of only the richest 40 on the planet. http://www.forbes.com/billionaires/list/ [forbes.com]

Then again, they probably couldn't agree on the champagne brand alone

Do you really think the rich will pay for it themselves? Don't you realize that in this day and age we've socialized risk (and by default the debt of those businesses "too large to fail.").

Take a look at the tactics use to convince sports rubes that a new multi-billion sports stadium needs to be build for a private business (or they'll leave). Politicians don't have any problem taxing the local economy for something like this. The rich will figure out something to get the rest of us to pay for their sanctuary. The only reason it isn't happening now is that there are still enough nice places where they can fence everyone else out.

Non sequitur (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | about 9 months ago | (#44497103)

$190.8 billion in 1975 dollars (the equivalent of $828.11 billion today). Looks like the ultra-rich are stuck on Earth for the time being

The estimated total net worth of the Forbes 400 (400 wealthiest USAians) last year was 1.7 trillion USD. And that's just the top Americans. Throw in some Russian tycoons, Middle East oil sheiks, European industrialists, assorted media tycoons from around the world, and include corporate resources they control in addition to personal assets, and that second statement (we are all stuck on Earth for the time being) has nothing to do with the first (it costs a lot of money to get in to space in any large scale).

silly premise (3, Insightful)

iggymanz (596061) | about 9 months ago | (#44497131)

the ultra-rich are risk adverse, they already have a planet with resources, nice places to live, and serfs / two-legged product

Stuck? What? (1)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about 9 months ago | (#44497149)

$190.8 billion in 1975 dollars (the equivalent of $828.11 billion today). Looks like the ultra-rich are stuck on Earth for the time being.

Last September, Forbes wrote: "The combined net worth of the 2012 class of the 400 richest Americans is $1.7 trillion."

So why exactly are the ultra-rich stuck on Earth? 400 private citizens from a single country could band together and build this thing and still not spend even HALF their money.

Re:Stuck? What? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 9 months ago | (#44497209)

What? Spend principle? Are you insane?

When it can be paid for out of earnings, they might consider it.

Re:Stuck? What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497417)

Your reply is incoherent, you might want to rephrase it.

The ultra-rich are *not* stuck on Earth since they can build this thing if they want to. The fact that they currently choose not to build it just means that life on Earth is ok.

Re:Stuck? What? (1)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about 9 months ago | (#44497307)

Actually, I looked a little closer at the Forbes 400. It seems that, due to nature of wealth distribution, it would only take 50 people.

Yes, that's right. The wealthiest 50 private citizens from the United States alone could have funded this project last year. Their net worth totals 829.9 billion USD. And that was last year, before the 20% stock market surge of 2013. They could've funded this project and still had 1.8 billion USD left over for hookers and blow.

Re:Stuck? What? (1)

alen (225700) | about 9 months ago | (#44497427)

this is not cash but stocks, bonds and other investments they can't just sell to turn into cash

chances are they have lots of their own debt they use to live financed by the interest and other payments they get from their own wealth

Re:Stuck? What? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 9 months ago | (#44497607)

Their wealth isn't cash in a mattress. It's in land and company ownership. To make it liquid, they'd have to sell it. Who's buying? Nobody. So the price collapses and they get far less out of it. It's only paper value that must be converted very slowly.

People are shocked to learn you could tax 100% of the income of the wealthy and only get an additional $500 billion a year to spend, which is not even half the annual borrowing. Next time a politician talks about us having not a spending problem, but a rich-not-paying-their-fair-share problem, spit in that fraud's face.

Space: a nice place to visit... (1)

davide marney (231845) | about 9 months ago | (#44497185)

... but you wouldn't want to live there. The cost of transporting the essentials of a rich person's life -- all the food, the drinks, the furniture, the disco balls, the fast cars, the drugs -- would surely exceed the cost of building the station itself. However, a space station that la riche can visit once a year, like a month in the Riviera only in space, now that would work. Plus, what's the point of being ostentatious if there are no peasants to impress? Better to have a least some people you can lock the gates on, just to feel like you've made it.

Is a 1975 NASA study even relevant? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497195)

I think by now SpaceX has shown that the private industry can accomplish things for MUCH cheaper then NASA can. I'd suspect that if Musk decided he wanted to live in a orbiting fortress overlooking the world could figure out a way to accomplish it.

Nine metric tons? (4, Informative)

Pikewake (217555) | about 9 months ago | (#44497225)

The article states that it would take nine metric tons of material to shield a single torus. The table in the original paper says 9.9 Mt. That's megatons, not metric tons. Slight difference...

Re:Nine metric tons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497613)

The article states that it would take nine metric tons of material to shield a single torus. The table in the original paper says 9.9 Mt. That's megatons, not metric tons.
Slight difference...

Considering ISS is almost 500 tons... yeah this is a bit of an oversight.

HOTOL? SKYLON? NERVA? (2)

Thor Ablestar (321949) | about 9 months ago | (#44497229)

The only problem of Elysium is the necessity to loft lots of cargo. May be, INITIALLY loft lots of cargo since after they begin mining Moon for titanium, hydrogen (poles) and oxygen they will not be in short supply of main expendables. And I see at least 2 methods for it that should work using our existing knowledge base: Skylon and Nerva.

Then they will have one of 2 problems for their choice: either they will have lots of everything except energy (I mean colonization of systems of gas giants) or they will have energy and nothing else (nearer to Sun than Earth). And I don't know any method to resolve this dilemma.

Re:HOTOL? SKYLON? NERVA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497637)

Don't touch the moon. Too deep a gravity well. Use asteroids for iron Saturn's rings for ice and rock and maybe iron, and solar sails to keep a steady stream of the resources coming.

Mining hydrogen is *trivial* in orbit. Solar wind is charged and easily harvested electromagnetically, once you have real space industry.

The ultra rich can do this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497265)

Sum of wealth of Forbes top 100 Billionaires: $1885.30B
Cost of space station: $828.11B
% of wealth... 44%

They can probably write it off on their taxes anyway...

 

The idea behind the movie is not new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497275)

When I first saw the trailer for Elysium, I was struck by how similar the idea was to H, G. Wells The Time Machine. You have a society stratified into the underclass whose lives are nasty, brutal and short and the elite class who live like kings of old. Morlocks and Eloi in Wells' case; groundlings and spacers in the case of this movie.

Re:The idea behind the movie is not new (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 9 months ago | (#44497459)

I thought of that Trek episode with the sky city lording over the brutish, short-lived miners. Haven't seen this big a ripoff since Disney ripped off Kiimba the White Lion for the Lion King.

Interesting that in two of these stories, the rulers were the Beautiful People in the sky, while in Wells', they were the ugly people underground, while the beautiful layabouts took it easy in the sun.

Space colony or Iraq (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497313)

So we could have had a space colony with asteroid mining, but instead we invaded Iraq? AMERRRRRICAAAA, FUCK YEAH!

Or Not... (2)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about 9 months ago | (#44497329)

Looks like the ultra-rich are stuck on Earth for the time being.

If each of the 1226 billionaires in the world [wikipedia.org] chipped in $675 million, you could build that $828 billion dollar space station, and they'd each still have at least $300 million to be super wealthy on the station.

That means they can go Galt ... in space! (3, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 9 months ago | (#44497377)

Seriously. Rich people could definitely come up with $1 trillion if they really wanted to. So if they wanted to, they could definitely hire a bunch of engineers and scientists to make them their paradise in the sky, and then say "So long, suckers!"

Why don't they? Probably because they would rather have lots of minions around to boss - otherwise, what's the point of being rich?

Re:That means they can go Galt ... in space! (1)

ComfortablyAmbiguous (1740854) | about 9 months ago | (#44497523)

Who's to say that's not what's going on right now? I don't know if you have noticed, but building the necessary infrastructure for privately managed low earth orbit access is all the rage among a certain class of rich people.

Astroid? (1)

Alicat1194 (970019) | about 9 months ago | (#44497387)

Astroid: "An astroid is a particular mathematical curve: a hypocycloid with four cusps. Astroids are also superellipses: all astroids are scaled versions of the curve specified by the equation".

How, pray tell, are we going to mine one of those? Would it really kill the editors to run things through a spell checker? Would it, really?

Better at Production and Manufacturing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497421)

I don't think that you can just adjust for inflation to get the proposed current cost of the space station. We are only 40 years on from the original report, and we already have greatly improved manufacturing and production efficiencies. Our computers are smaller, lighter, more power efficient, and have fewer moving parts. That alone means that transportation costs would be reduced overall, and reliability increased. We have new materials to work with, lighter, stronger, sometimes self healing. I'm not saying that it would be free, but maybe up to 1/3rd less than advertised.

Stimulus Money (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497589)

828 billion. Isn't that around the stimulus bill? I would rather have a space station.

How would it not be utopian? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44497639)

I having trouble grasping why the Elysium world is contrived to be dystopian.

  1. Elysium can grow food crops and would be self sustaining
  2. They have advanced androids that can do any manual labor you need (including building more androids)
  3. Health care appears to be automated by smart tanning beds
  4. Building more space stations would be nearly endlessly doable using the automated labor

So even if it was just a class thing where the rich didn't want to associate with the rif raf why would they care if they are living it up in another space station somewhere? In this scenario are the rich, every single one of them, sadists?

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