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Could Humanity Really Build 'Elysium'?

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the plenty-of-space dept.

Space 545

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Miriam Kramer writes at Space.com that in the new movie Elysium, Earth is beyond repair, and the rich and powerful have decided to leave it behind to live in a large, rotating space station stocked with mansions, grass, trees, water and gravity. 'The premise is totally believable to me. I spent 28 years working on NASA's International Space Station and retired last summer as the director of ISS at NASA Headquarters. When I took a look at the Elysium space station, I thought to myself, that's certainly achievable in this millennium,' says Mark Uhran, former director of the International Space Station Division in NASA's Office of Human Exploration and Operations. 'It's clear that the number-one challenge is chemical propulsion.' Nuclear propulsion could be a viable possibility eventually, but the idea isn't ready for prime time yet. 'We learned an incredible amount with [the International Space Station] and we demonstrated that we have the technology to assemble large structures in space.' The bottom line: 'If you threw everything you had at it, could you reach a space station of the scale of Elysium in 150 years?' says Uhran. 'That's a pretty tall order.'"

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What humanity needs is COMMUNISM! (3, Funny)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about a year ago | (#44541901)

That is our only hope. The working class has to defeat the bourgeoisie and establish its revolutionary Soviet dictatorship (Max is not going to save us!)

Re:What humanity needs is COMMUNISM! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44541925)

FaFI, the jackass from hell.

Re:What humanity needs is COMMUNISM! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542223)

I want to make a bad post but I can't really think of anything, so just pretend that I'm talking about something like gay sex, aliens, bestiality, scat, negros, MyCleanPC, or off-topic politics. Thanks, I really need a day off.

Betteridge's law of headlines (5, Insightful)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44541911)

I'm invoking Betteridge's law of headlines and saying "no."

Re:Betteridge's law of headlines (3, Insightful)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about a year ago | (#44541965)

In that case, it is the wrong question. Humanity could build such a thing, but probably won't. Technically, it was already possible during the second world war (if you can build an intercontinental ballistic missile, you can build a spacecraft).

Re:Betteridge's law of headlines (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44542151)

Unfortunately, without bold advances in genetic engineering, psycho-pharmaceuticals, or social psychology, we'll be hard-pressed to find enough humans who derive greater satisfaction from putting a spacecraft into orbit than from putting a spacecraft on a reentry trajectory toward the nearest loathsome nest of foreigners.

Re:Betteridge's law of headlines (3, Interesting)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#44542355)

You're thinking about it all wrong. All you need to do is invent a religion that makes space travel a sacred duty. For inspiration see the works of L. Ron Hubbard and the the second Riddick movie.

Re:Betteridge's law of headlines (1)

Bucc5062 (856482) | about a year ago | (#44542247)

For a headline, what would be the right question? After reading the wiki bit on Betteridge's law it seems that almost any headline question is good only for trolling. however, I'll take the high road of seeing this as a vaild starting point for a /. discussion.

150 years is a long time (5, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | about a year ago | (#44541913)

Look back at how things have changed since 1863 and you can't begin to comprehend where we could be in even 100 more years.

Re:150 years is a long time (0, Troll)

Sperbels (1008585) | about a year ago | (#44541961)

Look back at how things have changed since 1863 and you can't begin to comprehend where we could be in even 100 more years.

I wasn't alive in 1863....and neither were you.

Re:150 years is a long time (5, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44541993)

Totally fascinating insight, we also don't know if the Hospitallers used M-16s in 1066 because we weren't alive back then. Or you know, we have this study called history that tells us things about the past without us having been personally present.

Re:150 years is a long time (4, Insightful)

gsslay (807818) | about a year ago | (#44542065)

I think we're working to the mind-set of "If I can't see/feel it myself, nothing you can say will ever prove anything."

Very popular position amongst conspiracy theorists.

Re:150 years is a long time (4, Interesting)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44542197)

Honestly, I think it's more characteristic of the default mode of human thinking. A kind of weak skepticism untempered by philosophical underpinnings. People don't naturally understand and embrace the scientific method, the historical method, or ethics, and it takes education to come to terms with those concepts.

Re:150 years is a long time (2)

ethorad (840881) | about a year ago | (#44542241)

The pedant in me wants to point out that if they did use M-16s, it wouldn't have been in 1066 as they were only formed in 1099 - but given I wasn't alive in 1099 I don't have any proof of that either :/

Although I guess they could have used whatever time-travel machine they used to get a hold of M-16s to go back and fight in the Battle of Hastings.

Re:150 years is a long time (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542075)

How are you so sure Sir?

Yours truly,
Duncan McCloud

Re:150 years is a long time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542423)

How are you so sure Sir?

Yours truly,
Duncan McCloud

Connor MacLeod, you TV-watching twit.

Re:150 years is a long time (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44542135)

I wasn't alive in 1863....and neither were you.

So, therefore we have no way of knowing how things have changed since 1863? Right.

The use of electricity, indoor plumbing, cars, powered flight, computers, radio, television, plastics ... none of these we can say anything about how this changed society.

Instead, we have no idea of what has changed.

Seriously, do you have anything of value to add here?

Re:150 years is a long time (1)

Spudley (171066) | about a year ago | (#44542411)

Look back at how things have changed since 1863 and you can't begin to comprehend where we could be in even 100 more years.

I wasn't alive in 1863....and neither were you.

I know you're a troll, but really? 150 years is too much of a stretch, eh? If you're really going to be like that, lets make it a bit smaller. 100 years? 50 years? People who are alive today will tell you how much things have changed even in that time. Heck, even within my own life time things have changed. A lot.

Re:150 years is a long time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542479)

Look back at how things have changed since 1863 and you can't begin to comprehend where we could be in even 100 more years.

I wasn't alive in 1863....and neither were you.

I was; there are a few of us still around, although it's getting harder to keep a low profile with all the identification documentation your authorities are struggling to have implemented. Staying off the grid each time until the ideal falsification technique is discovered can be a daunting challenge.

Re:150 years is a long time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542119)

It really is a silly question. IBM has an artificial brain [theinquirer.net] with as many synapses as a human brain right now. Fusion energy [irishtimes.com] is on the verge of a breakthrough, 3-D printers [cubify.com] are almost cost effective on a per-household basis, solar power [treehugger.com] is dropping to the cost of coal power, Moore's law has held steady for decades... We are at the start of a second industrial revolution that will put everything in history to shame and without the exploding population from the first one. The world will be totally unrecognizable in a hundred years.

Re:150 years is a long time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542399)

Almost none of the things you mention are remotely true.

Re:150 years is a long time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542155)

Look back at how things have changed since 1863 and you can't begin to comprehend where we could be in even 100 more years.

Absolutely!,p/>We all know that ALL things progress linearly!

Re:150 years is a long time (2)

RazzleFrog (537054) | about a year ago | (#44542185)

And then we can look at how relatively little progress was made during the 1000+ years previous.

Re:150 years is a long time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542499)

And then we can look at how relatively little progress was made during the 1000+ years previous.

Hmm, interesting! Maybe we're in a progress bubble of incredible progress that will eventually burst leading to stagnation at whatever technology level we're ultimately able to achieve. Transportation and communications improvements have had a big effect on our current pace of technological progress, but how can we continue to accelerate the pace going forward? Perhaps genetic engineering, AI, or fast brain computer interfaces. Seems likely we've got at least a couple more generations worth of bubbling to do, and then who knows beyond that.

Re:150 years is a long time (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542187)

And why exactly you choose 1863-2013 over 1500-1650 or 800-950 for this comparison?

Re:150 years is a long time (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#44542389)

Well, that really depends on how you view innovation. Keep in mind that time economic growth and innovation were at a fairly steady rate of about 2% for tens of thousands of years... the first big change we had was Fire and the wheel... then we were stagnant for a very very long time. Then with the industrial age and scientific method things shot forward again. We seem to be in the middle (or perhaps near the end) of an age of great discovery. People tend to see innovation as a constant upward slope, or even a parabolic arch. It may not be so. We might get stuck, yet again, in a centuries long stalemate and not discover the next big breakthrough for a very long time. I'm not saying that's the case, but we can't just assume our understanding of the universe will increase exponentially forever.

Movie ad's disguised as science news? (5, Insightful)

malakai (136531) | about a year ago | (#44541917)

Is it just me, or is this movie being promoted through tons of tech sites/blogs?

Re:Movie ad's disguised as science news? (4, Insightful)

edawstwin (242027) | about a year ago | (#44541953)

I think the promotion is a side effect of legitimate questions being asked about its premise. Aren't you curious if this is possible in the foreseeable future? At least it's more "real" science-fiction than something like Transformers.

Re:Movie ad's disguised as science news? (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44542069)

and yet less convincing than the original Star Wars.

Re:Movie ad's disguised as science news? (4, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | about a year ago | (#44542167)

Transformers isn't science fiction, its explosion porn.

Elysium may be, at least somewhat.

Moon [imdb.com] is the pinnacle of science fiction for the last 20 years.

Science fiction isn't simply a story that takes place in the future or involving technology. It is an exploration of the human condition, societal issues or ethics within an environment plausibly different from our own.

Re:Movie ad's disguised as science news? (2)

edawstwin (242027) | about a year ago | (#44542483)

That's my point. The movie is attempting to tackle a societal issue using futuristic technology - the premise at least is not "explosion porn". Whether or not is succeeds at tackling that is irrelevant to my statement.

Re:Movie ad's disguised as science news? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44542287)

I think the promotion is a side effect of legitimate questions being asked about its premise. Aren't you curious if this is possible in the foreseeable future? At least it's more "real" science-fiction than something like Transformers.

I suspect that talking about space stations is also more popular than talking about massive inequality, squalid impoverished masses, heavily robotized security apparatuses, and other non science-fiction elements.

Re:Movie ad's disguised as science news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44541969)

It's not just you.

Re:Movie ad's disguised as science news? (3, Interesting)

Deathlizard (115856) | about a year ago | (#44542091)

I'm going for Slashvertisement at this point.

Two Posts about a movie that basically In Time [imdb.com] but in space is fishy to me.

I haven't seen this movie at all, But I can all but guarantee that the ending is going to be the Space station crashes onto earth and the rich survivors now have to live their lives just like everyone else.

Re:Movie ad's disguised as science news? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#44542387)

I liked In Time. It was stupid, but in a fun way - I spent the whole movie finding all of the many, many plot holes and manners in which the premise was ignored.

Re:Movie ad's disguised as science news? (2)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#44542105)

Science Fiction. Is Fiction. Not prophecy!

The Elysium is not much about science but an extradition of our culture. Figuring it will end up the Haves vs Have Nots will be so split that they don't even know that they exist. This idea has been expressed in many ways for a long time. The problem comes down to the fact if you live in world with all the Haves... There will still be competition for the resources so they will still be Haves and have Nots in that sub population, then the Have Nots will try hard to have while the Haves will try to keep what they got, and we come back to the same problems we had before.

Could we really build something like that... Probably.. However it doesn't seem worth it, the Ultra Rich are Ultra Rich by not throwing their money away on frivolous things all the time. They are better off living on Earth saving money and having a good work force to control.
 

Re:Movie ad's disguised as science news? (1)

trum4n (982031) | about a year ago | (#44542191)

While i was reading that, my Galaxy S3 interrupted me with a Star Trek reference from a friend via text. Scifi is only Fiction until someone watches your show and says: "Wow, that communicator thing is cool. I want one. My name is Martin Cooper."

Re:Movie ad's disguised as science news? (4, Interesting)

tysonedwards (969693) | about a year ago | (#44542415)

There would be far less complexity if the Ultra Rich decided to purchase something like Australia as well as all the drones that you could stick a shake at to attack anything that came within 500 miles, and then for sport lob a few high yield explosives into population centers that appear to be getting a little too uppity.

Think of the savings, and the security... and the general sense of self importance that could arise out being half a world away from the nearest criminal.

Plus, there would be a nice sense of irony in their newfound situation that would be lost on most.

The premise is still borked (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44541937)

Even if you could build it, it would be extremely vulnerable and that makes it infeasible if there is a planet full of people who are angry at you. The French taught us what eventually happens to the rich when they say "fuck the poor" once too often.

Re:The premise is still borked (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44542039)

The French wealthy, in 1789, depended on the poor for their military and civil protection. What happens when the most effective soldiers are robots doing exactly what they're told? Can you rebel when you have handguns and they have hellfire missiles?

Re:The premise is still borked (1)

tysonedwards (969693) | about a year ago | (#44542215)

Men, you're lucky men. Soon, you'll all be fighting for your planet. many of you will be dying for your planet. A few of you will be put through a fine mesh screen for your planet. They will be the luckiest of all.

Re:The premise is still borked (1)

JockTroll (996521) | about a year ago | (#44542331)

Can you rebel when you have handguns and they have hellfire missiles?

Of course you can, but you need to pick your targets well. You don't target the robots, you target the robots' operators, their builders, the engineers that design and maintain them. The key to successful insurgency is to choose your fights and play to your own strengths. Of course, defeatism is the first refuge of the loserboy.

Re:The premise is still borked (4, Interesting)

Somebody Is Using My (985418) | about a year ago | (#44542419)

Can you rebel when you have handguns and they have hellfire missiles?

Yes.

The people with the guns can still kill and destroy at will. They will strike at the vulnerable parts of the civilization. They will also be likely to give up their lives for the cause.

The people with the hellfire missiles, however, will be hamstrung by the sheer destructiveness of those weapons. A Hellfire missile is of no use if the target is in the very location you are striving to protect. Yes, you /could/ kill the insurgent, but the collateral damage would vastly outweigh the gains you would achieve with such a "victory".

Given the history of the last seventy years, it's surprising this is even a question anymore. Those super weapons are great for destroying (other) civilizations, but not so awesome for protecting or maintaining your own. For that you use psychology and propoganda; that way it doesn't even /occur/ to your own people to rebel. It's the old "bread and circuses", a maxim that's been known and in use for over 2000 years.

The real question (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44541941)

The bottom line: 'If you threw everything you had at it, could you reach a space station of the scale of Elysium in 150 years?' says Uhran. 'That's a pretty tall order.'"

What you really need to ask is "how bad do rich, white folks want to get away from poor brown folks?" And the answer is, pretty bad. They are already willing to inflate housing prices to 3x the cost per square foot just to have "safe" neighborhoods. It would seem that if given the choice, a lot of rich folks would gladly sign on to living in a neighborhood with a few hundred miles of vacuum between you and the "bad part of town", along with missile-based defenses in case they get uppity.

Yes, this observation is pretty racist, but isn't this whole movie? I mean, by slashdot standards Elysium would be total flamebait.

Re:The real question (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542073)

IF the people who live in the "bad" part of town actually wanted to make their part of town the nice part of town they could.

It is called beating their children to the point where they are pushed to succeed more than the previous generation.

Instead the mentality is "The 'hood was good enough for me, it is good enough for my son/daughter"

They wallow in their own failure as parents and thus their children are locking in a cycle of mediocrity. If a recent immigrant from Africa can come and within 10 years of hard work own a house and have well educated children, then what the hell is the problem with the people born here that are given every sort of assistance as a form of "birthright" , but repeatedly fail miserably?

We are no longer in an era where people of different races are discriminated against is becomming less and less each years and is almost non-existant, the only discrimination is self imposed where people in their own minds think that because they are white they are better and end up as white trash or because they are brown and the supposed "man is keepin' them down" they end up as brown trash. Trash = Trash no matter the color, it isn't genetics it is a crapped out culture(s) that is to blame for any race who fails and then uses the color of their own skin as an excuse or justification for their own failures as human beings.

Re:The real question (5, Insightful)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about a year ago | (#44542343)

The truth is the US is a country with low upwards mobility, and is totally in denial about it. When you adjust wages for inflation and stop describing healthcare as "benefits" maybe the bottom hundred million Americans will be in a better shape to "succeed".

What about air? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44541947)

I'd think the #1 issue would be air. Between leaks, meteor punctures, the necessarily less than 100% efficient airlocks (they can't get ALL the air out, so some puffs away when you open the outer door), and outgassing, you need a 'top-up' every so often. See, for instance, the book 'Fallen Angels'- the main characters are from an orbital station, on a 'scoop' mission to gather air from the upper atmosphere of Earth at the start of the book.

Re:What about air? (2, Informative)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44542077)

Hi, and welcome to Remedial Biology 101.

Today's lesson: How Plants Create Oxygen [wikipedia.org]

Study hard!

Re:What about air? (4, Insightful)

Athanasius (306480) | about a year ago | (#44542153)

The parent was discussing the unavoidable losses of atoms/molecules. Sure you can use photosynthesis, if you have the raw materials to hand, but that's not going to work if they've left the space station.

Re:What about air? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542271)

Moron.

I'm not talking about oxygen. I'm talking about AIR itself. Molecules of air are lost through various means (leaks, outgassing, etc). This means there is less air in total. If there is less air, there is less CO2 for the plants to use, and they give less O2. Eventually, there will be so little air that the pressure will not support life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partial_vacuum

Re:What about air? (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | about a year ago | (#44542323)

Thats just using energy to convert elements and molecules into different molecules, but it doesn't change the fact that you will be constantly losing molecules over time and they will eventually need to be replaced some how.

Re:What about air? (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44542509)

Thats just using energy to convert elements and molecules into different molecules, but it doesn't change the fact that you will be constantly losing molecules over time and they will eventually need to be replaced some how.

... Big ass hose dropping into the atmosphere?

Just snowballin' ideas here.

Re:What about air? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542519)

Sir, respectfully, please consider that leaking air in vacuum is not turning up back on the station.
Unless plants magically generate oxygen from empty space. But that could be in "Can't get air from vacuum 102".

Re:What about air? (1)

Bucc5062 (856482) | about a year ago | (#44542161)

who is the author? Sounds like a good read and google have too many 'fallen angel' books to pick through.

Re:What about air? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542385)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallen_Angels_(science_fiction_novel)

It has a LOT of fan references. Basically, the USA has become Ultra-'Green', and very technophobic (except 'approved' tech, of course). Even Sci-Fi is frowned upon (unofficially of course :ahem:). This has resulted in a drop in CO2 emissions, and the start of another Ice Age. Like in glaciers up to the Canada/USA border. Some orbital stations have held out, but they need a regular infusion of new air. One ship on a 'scoop' run is shot down, and it's Sci-Fi fans to the rescue!

Re:What about air? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542365)

If you can build a huge space station that doesn't fall from the sky or fall apart, surely you can devise some tube based technology to siphon atmosphere from the earth. That, or if you really dont want to be seen breathing the same air as all those plebes, you can just hop over to the moon. Lunar regolith is 40% oxygen.

why would i want to live on a space station? (3, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44541949)

when the earth has everything?

Re:why would i want to live on a space station? (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44542007)

when the earth has everything?

And even a pretty fucked-up-dystopian-hellworld version of earth still has convenient gravity, atmospheric pressure and loads of raw materials. Short, possibly, of a good, enthusiastic, all-out, nuclear war (which would also...reduce...the odds of magnificent space-constructs), there isn't much you could do to earth that would make living on a space station cheaper and easier than just throwing up some habidomes with climate control and a ring of razor wire and killbots to keep the proles away.

Re:why would i want to live on a space station? (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44542263)

..yeah that's whats stupid(among other things) about the plot.

move to friggin antarctica if you want away from people. it'll be cheaper and you can have more coke'n'hoes.

Re:why would i want to live on a space station? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44542527)

It beats the north pole; but minerals extraction in Antarctica would be nontrivial. I suppose that that's what colonies are for, though.

Re:why would i want to live on a space station? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542505)

Space has more raw materials, though. Incredibly more. Gravity and atmospheric pressure can be established with a bit of effort in space, but you'll never be able to find of iron or hydrogen on Earth.

Two words: (1)

smaddox (928261) | about a year ago | (#44542301)

The view.

Re:why would i want to live on a space station? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#44542435)

Because the earth has other people on it.

Probably more practical to just use your billions to set up a gated community somewhere so inhospitable no-one else wishes to venture close - even Siberia or Antartica can be made a bubble-domed paradise if you've enough money for construction and a nuclear reactor for heating. And if any of the commoners do venture close, that's what landmines are for.

Done (4, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | about a year ago | (#44541951)

Miriam Kramer writes at Space.com that in the new movie Elysium, Earth is beyond repair, and the rich and powerful have decided to leave it behind to live in a large, rotating space station stocked with mansions, grass, trees, water and gravity.

So, Wall-E?

Re:Done (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542003)

E-ve!

Re:Done (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542253)

V - for vendetta

Dupe (3, Insightful)

schneidafunk (795759) | about a year ago | (#44541957)

This sounds familiar [slashdot.org]

Re:Dupe (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year ago | (#44542147)

Indeed. Different links, same director, same story.

Neuromancer (0)

Gothmolly (148874) | about a year ago | (#44541997)

This whole thing has been done before. How is this a new and interesting idea to people?

Re:Neuromancer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542173)

I know! It's like when "The Matrix" came out, and suddenly everyone was speculating about "simulated reality", when loads of SF authors had covered that topic before.

It makes me feel physically sick when ordinary people show a little curiosity in something related to space or science. Those morons should go back to watching professional sport and reality TV.

Re:Neuromancer (1)

stewsters (1406737) | about a year ago | (#44542313)

Yeah, I recommended Neuromancer to a co-worker who had just read Snow Crash. Good stuff.

Re:Neuromancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542279)

It's not so much Freeside as it is Triphares, but yes, your point stands.

Re:Neuromancer (1)

timeOday (582209) | about a year ago | (#44542281)

Ideas are cheap and easy to come by. The question is whether we are getting any closer to actually doing it.

Re:Neuromancer (1)

pr0nbot (313417) | about a year ago | (#44542461)

That's how I felt when I saw the Matrix, and I'm not even really a sci-fi guy. But I bet even Neuromancer isn't the first occurrence of this idea (if that's what you were implying), someone at the time will have said, "how is this new? It's just Jules Verne / H G Wells / X all over again" or something.

For many people it'll be the first time they've considered the possibility, or perhaps they just enjoy a chance to consider it again with others.

Re:Neuromancer (1)

sunami (751539) | about a year ago | (#44542491)

Man what're you going to do in 30 years? Every story you'll read or watch is going to be something you've already seen, and you're not going to have enough time to tell everybody that it's been done before!

Could It Be Maintained (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542009)

Building it is one thing, maintaining it is another. The cost of maintenance could be very problematic.

Re:Could It Be Maintained (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#44542515)

A good closed cycle life support system could work. Power is near-limitless from solar. Minaturised manufacturering and recycling can be done. If you want minimal-maintainance, the main concern would be altitude: Something so big would eventually deorbit due to drag, so LEO isn't going to cut it. There would still be a need for occasional replacement parts and top-ups for any air escaping from pinhole leaks or accidents, but if it were designed for sustainability you could probably get by with a rocket every ten years or so.

"Possible" is not the same as "Practical" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542033)

Will it be technically possible to build something like this within this millennium? I believe it will be. Will it be practical? The answer becomes a bit murkier at that point...

The wrong question...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542041)

...'If you threw everything you had at it, could you reach a space station of the scale of Elysium in 150 years?' says Uhran. 'That's a pretty tall order.'"...

If we threw everything we had at it, we could probably cure cancer within 10 years. But we're not going to.

Humanity is comprised of a mass of people, all doing what is best for themselves. It is NOT made up of a benevolent, far-sighted leader who directs entire communities to undertake activities which improve the lot of everyone. Maybe it should be. But it ain't...

So you won't get a big space station in 150 years. Unless it suddenly becomes very attractive to a large enough number of people for a big profit to be made creating it. Upon which you'll get one in 20 years...

With unlimited funds? Yes. Otherwise? No. (1)

jandrese (485) | about a year ago | (#44542055)

There's nothing technically impossible about building a gigantic space station, but it would be unbelievably expensive. Like every single person on Earth needs to contribute a few million bucks just to cover the launch costs of all of the material. Even if you were making it out of stuff you mined (from an asteroid) and refined in orbit the costs will be astronomical.

The only scenario where it seems even halfway possible is some wartime economy scenario where the entire world puts aside ideas about equal distribution or efficient use of resources and instead focuses on one big huge project. About the only scenario I can think of that would warrant such an effort is discovery of a planet ending asteroid heading straight for Earth, but a few decades away. Something big enough where the impact will result in a global firestorm and cataclysmic earthquakes that would make the more sensible option of building underground or domed cities untenable.

Re:With unlimited funds? Yes. Otherwise? No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542199)

If they were going to expend so much resources and technology into building a space station they might as well repair the one they're already on - earth.

Re:With unlimited funds? Yes. Otherwise? No. (1)

geek (5680) | about a year ago | (#44542251)

Maybe. Remember there are finite resourced on Earth but if you mined asteroids you would be pretty well off. Not only could you build your station with those resources you could also sell those resources back to Earth. An endeavor like that would be extremely lucrative. Not only would you find the raw materials for actually building the station you would also find water ice to survive off of.

Its not outside the realm of possibility that space flight will become cheaper. Especially with a stable space outpost up there to dock too and use for mission launches. The only thing I can think of really holding this back is the lack of proper radiation shielding in space, making long term survival up there difficult at best.

Re:With unlimited funds? Yes. Otherwise? No. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542295)

Sure, if we use existing tech to do it.

I like the idea of a Meglev Launcher myself - it would be great for launching non-delicate materials:

http://www.launchpnt.com/portfolio/aerospace/satellite-launch-ring/

As part of a $500,000 Phase II contract awarded from the U.S. Department of Defense Small Business Technology Transfer Program, LaunchPoint engineers, under the direction of Jim Fiske, evaluated an innovative magnetically-levitated space launch system.

The Launch Ring, as it is called, would accelerate a small payload within a subsurface magnetic tube until it reached escape velocity. At that point, the payload capsule would exit the ring onto an elevated ramp and be launched into orbit. The results of LaunchPoint's R&D analyses suggest that a space launch system utilizing maglev technology could work very well, creating a more cost-effective means of launching small payloads into space.

The first magnetic launch systems are expected to propel payloads into orbit at a cost of roughly $750/lb, already a significant improvement over the current rocket-launched cost of around $4,000/lb. The total cost to orbit could eventually drop below $100/lb, making this technology vitally important to the future of space.

Accomplish in this millennium? (1)

redmid17 (1217076) | about a year ago | (#44542057)

Way to aim high there. We went from the first uses of gunpowder to having a satellite leaving the solar system in under 1000 years. That doesn't even touch us landing on the moon and having multiple space stations orbiting earth at the same time.

If I'm not able to do the Kessel Run in fewer than 12 parsecs by the end of this millennium, I will be *very*disappointed.

All I know is my gut says maybe (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year ago | (#44542101)

Technically, I think we'd have a good shot at it (of course I know everything about building space stations...) But socially? We'd need a pressing reason to build it first, and we'd need that reason quite soon in order to drive our resources towards that project early enough. For anything short of survival of the species, building this thing will likely not make economic sense even in 150 years. The Earth being "broken" in 150 years (environmental issues)? That might not cut it for current generation to give up their comforts or pay extra taxes. Even a 100% certainty of total destruction in 150 years may not be enough to motivate people living today, and might actually prompt some people to go on a counterproductive pre-apocalyptic spending / looting / killing spree. So even if we know that the end is coming, we'll probably have a late start in this project.

Once the project gets under way, the number one challenge may well be to keep the teeming billions in check who have no hope on being invited onto the station. Reserving the thing for the rich & powerful isn't going to be very motivating to the work force; to prevent the masses from storming the launch facilities, you'd probably have to give everyone a fair shot at winning a berth in a lottery, and only announce the winners at the last minute.

No... (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year ago | (#44542107)

While it may be technologically feasible (or close), politically it would never happen. Certainly not in the current political climate. Even if that were solved, it would be pretty damn hard financially too. With the swings in the economy, a project that would take that many years would be pretty difficult. At the first sign of a recession, it would be one of the first things to get cut. Or the funding would be cut to the point that the finish date would start sliding more and more. Additionally, over the time it would take to build it, how much of what was started would become obsolete and need to be redone? Would the country(s) that started it even be capable of finishing it, or even be around to finish it? It would be a pretty soft target too. Would we end up with Babylon 5 before people stopped blowing them up? I haven't seen Elysium, but wasn't the point to create a haven for the rich? I don't think the majority of the planet is going to go for that. So what purpose would this project be built for? The geek in me would love to see this happen. But realistically, what would be the benefit of something of this scope? And would that benefit be worth the resources required to build it?

Did I miss something? (1)

John Napkintosh (140126) | about a year ago | (#44542111)

The movie never made any attempt to explain how they maintain an atmosphere. Here on Earth, the gravitation of effect of Earth's mass does that for us. On Elysium, there is simulated gravity due to centripetal force, but that would only effect masses that are bound do it. Since the atmosphere floats above it, it would drift away and potentially escape through the open structure.

Apart from that, if they can create such a structure out in space that is a perfect habitable environment, it seems to me they should be able to create the same habitable environment on Earth for much greater cost. Not having to transport materials to space, not having to spend many dollars on researching ways around problems that don't exist here on Earth. You could certainly argue that the wealthy elite may want to simply distance themselves from the busted Earth as much as possible with the intent of making it difficult for the dregs to migrated to their utopia, but it seems like the idea of Earth being so wrecked that they HAD to go into space doesn't really line up.

Re:Did I miss something? (1)

John Napkintosh (140126) | about a year ago | (#44542285)

"for much greater cost"

Gahhh, meant to say much lesser cost.

Atlas Shrugged? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542115)

Haven't seen the movie, but I can't help but feel this is a nod towards Rand's Atlas Shrugged....

But I'm not sure the rich here are exactly the brains..... But they have "shrugged" the earth and it's people.

Seems similar. Enough to make me go watch the damn movie.

Great place for the 0.001% (1)

mspohr (589790) | about a year ago | (#44542131)

Like most schemes to move off of this planet which we are in the process of destroying, this "solution" will be incredibly expensive and only accommodate a very small proportion of our 7 billion population. Of course, the rich will claim the space (along with a few essential maintenance people such as the phone sanitizers), leaving the rest of us stranded on Earth to deal with climate change, toxins, etc.
So, yes, this could probably be done at great expense (paid for by all of us) for the benefit of the few, rich and powerful... but that's the way it usually works, isn't it?

Re:Great place for the 0.001% (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542243)

Who is John Galt?

Different bottom line (2)

worf_mo (193770) | about a year ago | (#44542165)

I love space and tech, and this is certainly a nice thought experiment, but while we are dreaming allow me to go slightly OT for a different bottom line: If we threw everything we had at fixing what's wrong here - where we live - could we make Earth a better place to live for more people in 150 years? Be that through finding safer and more sustainable energy resources, better and more accessible health care, decent living conditions, sane working hours that allow people to spend precious time with family and friends and therefore be productive members of society, solid education regardless of wealth or social status, and, why not, voting a political class that actually represents the people (a problem that is by no means limited to a single nation).

Re:Different bottom line (1)

Wain13001 (1119071) | about a year ago | (#44542357)

Throwing everything at Earth would require organization and agreement from people of all kinds of highly conflicting ideologies. Building something somewhere else can be spearheaded and handled by a single group, or consortium of a few organizations (countries, companies, senators, etc...) who want to reap the benefits, but also keep the end goal and needs clear and concise.

This is a very stupid idea (1, Interesting)

engblom (2990505) | about a year ago | (#44542249)

If we can make a clean and closed ecosystem just in order to send it up in space, we could as well make it here on earth and never send it up. The earth is having the gravity and radiation protection for free among many other things. There is no advantage in sending everything up in space. Keep the same modules assembled here on earth! Hopefully we will never destroy our planet. Rather than thinking how to sustain a whole humanity in space, we should put our resources in rescuing what we have.

Re:This is a very stupid idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542481)

Access control. It's in space to keep poor people out...

Resources (0)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about a year ago | (#44542273)

I'm sure that with all the resources it would require to build these orbiting platforms, a much more cost effective result could be obtained by building bio-domes or other contained environments here on Earth.

Ben Bova "Colony" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44542275)

Sounds a lot like Ben Bova's "Colony" [fictiondb.com] right down to the teaming masses of poor solely created by the uber-corporate moguls living on the colony. That station had a part where the fortunate "many" lived, and a secret 'second half' that was essentially an empty virgin ecosystem where the moguls had their vast mansions. Great angst was had that they didn't move a few hundred thousand of overpopulated earth's teaming billions up to that second half. All the "brown people" as a previous poster called them, rose up in revolution.

I'd love to see a station of this type, if not magnitude, full time livable, in my lifetime but I'm not expecting it to happen.

Law and Order (2)

hackus (159037) | about a year ago | (#44542289)

Which if you currently live in the USA right now, are finding that LAW applies to the average person, LAWLESSNES applies to the government and its crony bankers.

You go to jail, they do not.

Since 2007, the monied elite have stolen whole countries to continue their lifestyles unabated. The amounts of money are staggering to imagine, some 17 trillion by FOIA that was accidentally leaked, which probably is many times that amount was actually stolen from countries world wide entangled in the Western Banking System.

I have no doubt, that if we took that money back and instead of allowing the wars and the fancy mansions these bankers continue to create and build today with it we could have easily cured cancer, develop far more creative solutions to Nuclear power. (i.e. Fukishima is rapidly turning from a catastrophe to an Apocalypse.)

With that money we could hace solved very interesting issues in material sciences for example to make a space station work.

We can do anything we can imagine. The problem is there seems to be something wrong with the human spirit.

We have had so many opportunities in our history to achieve these things, but war and psychopaths which amount to a very few people, end up destroying the entire civilization others have built.

Then we go back to mud huts.

We are on that same path AGAIN, which isn't surprising. What is surprising is the almost lack of interest anyone has in stopping it.

-Hack

Fabulous Idea (5, Funny)

some old guy (674482) | about a year ago | (#44542349)

1.Build a huge, opulent space city, and populate it with the obscenely rich and the world's political leaders.
2 Blow it up.
3.Start over.

In case anyone is actually doing this (1)

HangingChad (677530) | about a year ago | (#44542371)

You can leave out the grass and mansions. Honestly, if I had a room to myself on a space station with rudimentary indoor plumbing I'd be deliriously happy.

So if you're trying to figure out consumables for grass, you can skip that one for me and put that effort into the indoor farming operations.

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