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Top 10 Reasons for a Space Program

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the whole-lot-of-nothing dept.

Space 447

Its_My_Hair writes " has an article on the top ten reasons for a space program. Most of the reasons seem to say that our space programs are here for our safety." The only necessary reason is "because it's there".

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Flippy Floppy! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6962639)

I am a wabbit!

CNN was intimidated by the Bush administration (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6962740)

Amanpour: CNN practiced self-censorship []

CNN's top war correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, says that the press muzzled itself during the Iraq war. And, she says CNN "was intimidated" by the Bush administration and Fox News, which "put a climate of fear and self-censorship."

As criticism of the war and its aftermath intensifies, Amanpour joins a chorus of journalists and pundits who charge that the media largely toed the Bush administrationline in covering the war and, by doing so, failed to aggressively question the motives behind the invasion.

On last week's Topic A With Tina Brown on CNBC, Brown, the former Talk magazine editor, asked comedian Al Franken, former Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke and Amanpour if "we in the media, as much as in the administration, drank the Kool-Aid when it came to the war."

Said Amanpour: "I think the press was muzzled, and I think the press self-muzzled. I'm sorry to say, but certainly television and, perhaps, to a certain extent, my station was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News. And it did, in fact, put a climate of fear and self-censorship, in my view, in terms of the kind of broadcast work we did."

Brown then asked Amanpour if there was any story during the war that she couldn't report.

"It's not a question of couldn't do it, it's a question of tone," Amanpour said. "It's a question of being rigorous. It's really a question of really asking the questions. All of the entire body politic in my view, whether it's the administration, the intelligence, the journalists, whoever, did not ask enough questions, for instance, about weapons of mass destruction. I mean, it looks like this was disinformation at the highest levels."

Clarke called the disinformation charge "categorically untrue" and added, "In my experience, a little over two years at the Pentagon, I never saw them (the media) holding back. I saw them reporting the good, the bad and the in between."

Fox News spokeswoman Irena Briganti said of Amanpour's comments: "Given the choice, it's better to be viewed as a foot soldier for Bush than a spokeswoman for al-Qaeda."

CNN had no comment.

Re:Flippy Floppy! (0)

Amonynous Coward (705852) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962875)

wannabit you mean

#1 reason... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6962641)

10... . ... (etc)
1. To get a FIRST POST

The only thing you get (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6962818)

is a Columbia post. (Or would that be a Challenger post ?)

my bum! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6962645)

I love you micheal ! marry me!

5th pr0st33z! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6962652)

Thank you for your support.

Love Always,
News For Turds

Space... (2, Insightful)

wirah (707347) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962660)

its there, and somebody has to explore it right? So who better than NASA. And if NASA want to do it via space programs...

Re:Space... (4, Insightful)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962707)

somebody has to explore it right? ... who better than NASA?

Private industry.

Re:Space... (5, Insightful)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962779)

I'm in total agreement. Not everyone thinks that the exploration of space is a worthwhile use of their money. Private enterprise can develop space for consumer use, as they have with the oceans and the skies. NASA has been actively prohibiting private companies from exploring or performing research in what NASA feels is its own domain. We have gone to the moon, and in thirty years, we have not even placed a semi-permanent base there. It is well past time to let individuals explore space, develop it, and commercialize it. The government has no sovereign claim on the universe, after all.

Re:Space... (5, Insightful)

thoolihan (611712) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962849)

I agree with what you're saying. However, if NASA dropped the ban on private industry, I don't think you'd see a rush from private industry. If there was real interest, a corporation would just operate and launch from a small country that could be easily convinced (read paid) to allow private space exploration.


Re:Space... (1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6962871)

We've already commercialized the Earth to the point of destroying our own habitat. We are dying from our pollution. We are poisoning ourselves.

I don't want to see humanity destroying the entire Universe, too. I wonder if perhaps special measures should be set up to protect the resources of the Universe, such as the planets around us and our Sun.

Re:Space... (5, Interesting)

arivanov (12034) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962925)

It is actually the same as with Open Source. Private enterprise has not learned how to extract money from something that is already there and is not being tightly controlled. Examples:
  • geological survey data - ever thought of selling that landslide probability data for California to the house insurance companies?
  • Water temperature and conditions data - ever thought of selling this to fishermen?
  • So on so fourth.
The problem with selling them is that there is always at least one more party to have access to these (start with your own gov and continue with russians, europeans, chinese, etc). There is no monopoly and you have to rely on value added services to make this profitable. Corps do not like this in an emerging market. No VC will invest in a concept for which they know that it will not have the market to its own for at least a few years.

Re:Space... (0)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962801)

Private industry.

Then why do you advocate a socialist in your sig?

Re:Space... (4, Insightful)

frankthechicken (607647) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962735)

Well, considering it is exploration for mankind, perhaps some conglomeration between nations, rather than a single entity might be better. I somehow feel, without the bravado of the space race and the cold war, this might be a more productive way of acheiving our lust for discovery.

Call me cynical... (0, Troll)

Channard (693317) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962823)

.. but I don't think we should be reaching to the stars until we've got ourselves sorted out here. Maybe when we've done something about our problems here on earth we can take to space. But a race as messed up as ours taking to the stars to spread to other planets doesn't strike me as something we should encourage yet.

Re:Call me cynical... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6962921)

"a race as messed up as ours"

And your bar for comparison is what?

Maybe we are the most enlightened race in the universe, who still struggle endlessly for good despite our tendencies towards violence, greed, deceit.

Maybe every other race in space has given up the ghost and socially accepted their darker tendencies. Maybe we could be the torch of hope in a morally bankrupt universe.

Scary huh?

Re:Space... (1)

simong_oz (321118) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962891)

Couldn't agree more, but let's be realistic here - it ain't gonna happen because the politicians and lawyers will get involved. I'm sure the scientists, technicians and engineers would absolutely love this kind of global cooperation, but sadly it will never happen.

Re:Space... (1, Troll)

Adm1n (699849) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962927)

The polotics surronding Nasa and any American ventures prevent them from bieng truly scientific exploration. A good example bieng the crisis that plague the shuttle program (Challenger 1988, and the recent explosion) The toilet's (The one on the space shuttle cost 20 Million, instdead of using the one from SkyLab due to Diffrences in contracting companies). The 2 Million Dollar ball point pen (Russians used pencils which are cheap and abundunt). And not to mention the problem where when they decide to come up with a program It ends up being 10x over budget due to the american commercial market gougeing Nasa because they know is a government organization. China will captiolize on the Moon and they already have mentioned that they will be the first on mars, and the Chinese are an Industrious, Economically Internalized people whom have the ability to cover-up any mistakes they make (so we never hear about thier failures). China and India will hopefully re-vitalize the Space race over the stagnant US/Russia state that it is currently in. Russia cannot afford one, and the U.S. Seems inept. Yes you've managed to kill more astronouts than any other country and you've put more people in space than anyone else but on the other side the projects that are funded by nasa have more to do with political standing than science, as a result the "Internatonal Space Station" takes 2.5 people to man (just to run) and allows for only .5 of a person to do resarch, where as the shuttle has a better standing for resarch, not to mention that it's already just a hunk of floating metal that is about 3x overbudget. Yes You can go google all the above for yourself, why Because I'm a lazy critic.

Re:Space... (1)

beyonddeath (592751) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962943)

Why cant we all just get along?

Objectives (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6962663)

The space program really does need some very visable goals. How about a manned Mars mission by 2015?

Re:Objectives (1)

wulfhound (614369) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962800)

Which, to your average dumb politician or member of the public is an entirely arbitrary goal (unlike "beat the damn commie Russkies", or "save our asses from xyz Big Asteroid", which are easy to sell). "For (y)our own long-term safety" won't work either... they tried that on cigarette smokers enough times.

Re:Objectives (1)

billimad (629204) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962826)

Goddammit no! We've got the ISS which is just sucking money and a mission to Mars would just cost to much at the present time. This is just political bullshit. We need to spend the time, money and effort making the whole thing cheaper, easier and most of all an entirely everyday thing. We must learn to walk before we run.

Re:Objectives (5, Insightful)

spektr (466069) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962831)

The space program really does need some very visable goals. How about a manned Mars mission by 2015?

Won't happen. The space race occured in the 1960ies, when America feared to be overtaken by the Soviets. At this time many things were new and unproven: can humans reach outer space, can they live there for sustained periods, can they reach another celestial body, can they live there, etc. This was exciting and perfectly suited for TV. But the most important reason to do all this was the fear that the Soviets may gain military superiority.

Going to mars will not reveal exciting new facts about space to the general public. We went to the moon, we have done that. It will not do anything for preserving military superiority. We know by now that the military needs satellites and manned space travel is not of much use for this. So it just won't happen.

In my opinion, this sucks. The 21th century ain't what it used to be anymore.

Safety? (3, Funny)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962671)

How can a space program be there for our safety?

Maybe GWB thinks it's full of Weapons of Mass Destruction? (the little pixies told him so...)

-1000 DOUBLE PLUS ANTI-FREEDOM (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6962712)

If you ain't with us, you're against us [] .

How dare you.. (4, Funny)

Channard (693317) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962732)

.. mock the leader of the greatest nation in the world. If you'd watched anything other than the lefty pink commie news station you tune into, you'd know the real facts. Our great president has irrefutable evidence that The Clangers, lead by the evil dictator The Soup Dragon, have developed weapons of mass destruction, fashioned from illegally imported felt and cardboard.

These terrorists must be stopped before they can launch their attack against the free world and I for one welcome our president's plan to nuke the moon. I sure as hell won't miss it.

Re:How dare you.. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6962780)

As a proud citizen, I blame the French for giving those bastards the scissors and glue necasary for the construction of their felt and cardboard weapons. As a protest I have stopped drinking wine, and I now instead drink port. That'll show 'em!

Re:Safety? (3, Insightful)

Arleigh2 (697770) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962819)

A space program is irrelevant to your safety if you have a religion that does not care about the fate of humans or a religion that includes a got that will either: 1) protect us from events like errant asteroids in the short run or an expanding sun in the (very) long run; 2) soon decide it's time to shut down the project and take us all to our final reward or punishment. The rest of us know enough cosmology to understand that eventually we'll need to get out there and learn enough so that we can protect ourselves from asteroids and the like. Magical thinking (you can look it up) and/or waiting for Star Trek technology to save us is highly foolish.

Why use people? (5, Interesting)

capt.Hij (318203) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962674)

None of the reasons given imply that we need a human presence in space. As long as we have to use huge, contained explosions to move things off of the planet there is little reason to put humans in space.

They also forgot the 11th reason. NASA is a government agency, and government agencies must find reasons to exist and grow their budgets.

Re:Why use people? (2, Funny)

wirah (707347) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962720)

Sending animals up is not only cruel, its a waste of a valuable and intelligent lifeform. Send bush up instead.

Re:Why use people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6962763)

I feel that your plan to send up a (very) "averagenaut" will somehow end in disaster and our subjugation by giant space ants.

FYI for Slashdotters (5, Insightful)

mdechene (607874) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962675)

This list definately appears to be tailored for people adverse to a space program. So keep that in mind before you take offense to it not including scientific / exploratory reasons and instead has things like "Protection against catastrophic planetary accidents" that aren't very likely at this point.

Re:FYI for Slashdotters (5, Insightful)

azaroth42 (458293) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962703)

Or at least created for people who will react to buzzwords. For example:

The only way to provide global education and health care services in coming decades at reasonable cost and broad coverage is via space-based communication systems.

Uhhh... Health Care Services require things like trained medical staff, medical equipment, drugs, and so forth. Broad coverage is via having more hospitals and better working conditions within them, not satellite communications. Education needs the same things -- schools, teachers and better resources.

Yes, Ethopia, you thought you needed hospitals and schools, but what you really need are satellites!

-- Azaroth

Re:FYI for Slashdotters (1)

wulfhound (614369) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962811)

Space-based communications do not require a space programme. They require a bunch of comms satellites in LEO... we've had the electronics to do that for 20+ years, and the rocketry for 40. *yawn*.

Re:FYI for Slashdotters (1)

sklib (26440) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962825)

I think that the application they were talking about is remote health care with real-time video streaming, or even better a remote surgery device -- you can manufacture those by the thousands, and have the lead surgeon do everything virtually. Of course you'd need a staff on hand in case the link broke and the person had to be stitched up...

Re:FYI for Slashdotters (5, Interesting)

fruey (563914) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962829)

While I take your point, there is a lot of development money being spent on TV broadcasts of open educational content to local schools all over the developing world. Allowing extra tailored learning materials to be distributed just country wide in a place like Morocco (a better example, because Ethiopia really is behind in most economic indicators) is not possible with terrestrial transmitters, and so they could use (and in a pilot scheme are using) satellite airtime to transmit their own content from the capital city, based on the individual nation's national curriculum.

However, the infrastructure, including TVs, classrooms, etc... is not always there, so you do have a point. Better building the schools first :) but where they do exist, you can leverage satellite technologies.

Do not forget that most development contracts go to US suppliers. So USAID give a load of money to a project, but most of it goes back to US companies for their satellite time, TVs, cameras, lighting, mixing desks... whereas building projects cannot always pass muster with the guidelines that budgets should be granted, where possible, to US based companies. Maybe that policy isn't so wrong, because just giving money to local companies often results in graft and lack of accountability.

Re:FYI for Slashdotters (0)

Toddlerbob (705732) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962836)

Uhhh... Health Care Services require things like trained medical staff, medical equipment, drugs, and so forth. Broad coverage is via having more hospitals and better working conditions within them, not satellite communications. Education needs the same things -- schools, teachers and better resources.

Yes, I think that the tenth reason given in the article, which is:

Creation of new jobs and Industries -- a new vision for the 21st century and a mandate to explore truly new frontiers

is the most important to me. I agree with Noam Chomsky's thoughts about the US economy, which is that its basis is not a free market, but a market regulated and developed through controlled government spending. Currently this market control is handled through the Pentagon. I would much rather see it regulated through NASA. Even though there are many militaristic applications for space, the non-military applications are much broader and easier to justify in terms of the overall mission than when the military is the primary reason for their existence. The only trick, I guess, is the politics - to get people to be as anxious about what we might be missing in the exploration of space as they are anxious about what weapons of mass destruction we might be missingin the deserts of Iraq. Well, that's another story.

So I think that the more NASA, the more peaceful a basis we would have for our economy, while still keeping it with the tight top-down control it currently has, thereby placating the ones who like to control it.

Re:FYI for Slashdotters (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962920)

Yes, Ethopia, you thought you needed hospitals and schools, but what you really need are satellites!

actually if the medical fields were managed by true people that are there to help the human race and people then yes, sattelites ARE damned important to an ethiopian hospital to get the latest treatement proceedures and information.

but the U$A medical companies are in it not to help mankind, stop suffering, or help people. they are there to suck every single dime out of every human being as long as possible for the greatest profits possible. And yes, this includes the doctors too.

The Medical Fields are pure profit ranges now. Kids become doctors to get 3 BMW's and a Jaguar for their $500,000.00 home not to help people, heal the sick and needy.

Make anything medical related have special patents, 2 year patent allowed only, then it's public domain. If it's a cure no patent is allowed and MUST be released publically right away. and Doctors must perform at leat 30% of their work day for FREE on patients that can't afford their overpaid butts.

It will never happen, only the rich will be allowed good health... It's been that way for centuries, and will be forever....

and dont get me started on the bastards that are dentists... there is no excuse for their gouging of the planet's population.

Information is important, but when the caregivers of the world are allowed to lock up the information for profit.....It's disgusting...

Re:FYI for Slashdotters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6962934)

"sattelites ARE damned important to an ethiopian hospital to get the latest treatement proceedures and information."

Yeah, post isn't fast enough to keep up with latest treatment. You need satellites to tell you what is new. THEN you need post, so that the new products can be delivered!

What ARE you talking about?

Re:FYI for Slashdotters (3, Insightful)

mattpalmer1086 (707360) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962738)

Why do you say catastrophic planetary accidents "aren't very likely at this point"? At what point do they become likely?

Just because we've only had the knowledge and capability to track near earth objects very recently, says nothing about the likelihood of such an event occurring.

Some might say we're overdue a big one...

Re:FYI for Slashdotters (3, Insightful)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962797)

Remember, Congress only covered its own arse during the Cold War in the event of nuclear war. Do you think they'd be any different when it comes to the end of the world?

Re:FYI for Slashdotters (2, Interesting)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962805)

We couldn't do anything anyway... it's more than likely we wouldn't even see an asteroid until it was pretty close to us, by which time it'd need a huge change in trajectory to make it miss us... we just don't have the technology to do that.

All of this isn't an argument for a space program, just more scientific research into how to deal with the threat (tractor beams would be damn cool.. I just doubt their possibility somehow).

(Anyway last I heard there were only about a dozen people paid to track asteroids... it's not as if it's being taken seriously).

Re:FYI for Slashdotters (4, Informative)

mattpalmer1086 (707360) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962882)

It's not true to say we couldn't do anything. We are actively tracking near earth objects, and estimates I've heard say we currently know about a third to a half of them fairly accurately. There are a number of proposals for dealing with objects on a collision course with earth. Mostly it depends on the nature of the object. Fast spinning objects are likely to be a solid rock and could be deflected by explosions. Slower spinning objects are far more likely to be rubble piles, and experiments show that rubble piles can't be deflected by explosion - the pile simply absorbs the blast. Proposals to deal with these include solar mirrors on a following orbit to the object focussing the suns rays on a point on the object. Over a period of several years (note: you have to know about the object and get there well in advance), the slow outgassing caused by evaporating parts of the object create sufficient trajectory change to the whole pile to miss the earth.

Chicken or Egg? (4, Insightful)

aerojad (594561) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962678)

Well if we are going to colonize anything and for all we know maybe meet other species someday far in the future, we have to become a more mature species ourselves. Currently we are still primitive - led by fear and superstition, dominated by hunger and war. Will benifits of space and hopefully increased maturity help out the human race, or does the human race have to be helped to mature first before we all set our sights on higher goals? What comes first?

Re:Chicken or Egg? (5, Insightful)

antis0c (133550) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962711)

And you, the primitive being know we are primitive and what we must overcome to not be primitive? :) Chicken or Egg indeed.

Re:Chicken or Egg? (1)

aerojad (594561) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962737)

Good point :) Of course it is one thing to realize you have faults, it is an entirely different story to come up with a fool-proof plan to correct each and every last one of them, and to have it work as well. That is far, far beyond my range of comprehension. I could take a stab, but any stab could easily be shot down.

Re:Chicken or Egg? (1)

turkeyphant (648612) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962744)

Yes, indeed. How can humanity start on such a huge endeavour as space colonisation when, back on earth, we are beset by petty rifts and fragmented by power? How relevant is a moon base to the huge proportion of the world's population entrenched in poverty?

I think that before we can seriously think about this, the species as a whole has to grow and mature. Any sort of advanced space exploration has to be undertaken in unity in the name of every Earthling. Until we can learn to live with each other, we can't hope or dare to have any meaningful dialogue with other intelligent races. Otherwise, I fear that any serious adventure into space is destined to end badly...

Re:Chicken or Egg? (2, Insightful)

frankthechicken (607647) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962803)

Was humankind ready for the discoveries of Darwin, were we prepared for the industrial revolution, do we have the ability to cope with the capabilities inherent in splitting the atom? At the time, probably not, but with each discovery we learnt, and matured, such is the way of the human.

Knowledge enables us a race to grow and mature, space exploration would be a huge learning curve, and I am reasonably(sort of) optimistic we can cope with the responsibility.

Re:Chicken or Egg? (4, Interesting)

CommandNotFound (571326) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962755)

Will benifits of space and hopefully increased maturity help out the human race

Nah, we'll just carry our bad habits out into space. A little bit of zero gravity won't take the "trailer park" out of us.

I think the makers of StarCraft had a good idea of how human spacefarers would look and act. :)

Re:Chicken or Egg? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6962769)

Wow. A truely insightful post. You sir, have restored my faith in the Slashdot community. In return for this, I will not flame/troll you.

Re:Chicken or Egg? (1)

!the!bad!fish! (704825) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962922)

What comes first?
A proto-chicken-like creature that wasn't an actual chicken laid an egg.

A mutant-proto-chicken-like creature that is an actual chicken hatches from the egg.

What was the question?

Space Station (4, Interesting)

rf0 (159958) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962690)

I've always wondered that if there were some crew memember aboard the ISS and something catastrophic happened to Earth how long could they survive? I know people on Mir survieve for over a year but I have no idea how often Mir was restocked.

However generally I agree that if we do want to survive long term (and we don't destory ourselves) then we will outgrow this planet or strip it bare forcing a move.


Re:Space Station (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962742)

how long could they survive?

And, of course, how long could they expect to wait until Little Green Men come along to rescue them?

Re:Space Station (1)

HaloZero (610207) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962919)

Generally, if they were unable to be resupplied, they would be forced to use the ERV (Earth Return Vehicle). Right now, they've got a Soviet Soyuz-class capsule up there for that very use. In case of emergency, you all get in, yank on the handle, and look out little blue marble!

I'm sure if the event was severe or catastrophic enough, there would be measures in place for either a revised pickup/splashdown/dropdown location, and ensure SOMEONE there to pick them up.

Re:Space Station (1)

johannesg (664142) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962952)

As far as I know there are 3-4 supply runs (Progress vehicles) per year, so (assuming they have some safety margin) maybe 6-9 months before supplies run out. After that it won't take very long (a couple of years maybe) before orbit degrades too severely and it reenters and burns.

... :P (5, Insightful)

rylin (688457) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962691)

So who better than NASA.
The ESA? ;)

Space is fine, but not right now (-1, Troll)

Amsterdam Vallon (639622) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962692)

What we need to focus on right now is this huge encroachment upon human rights that the RIAA and other big business groups are currently undertaking.

Pretty soon the only rights we'll have as citizens will be the right to pay taxes and the right to be sued so that John Q. Public, CEO can make $14 million a year instead of a $12 million salary.

I agree that space is important, and I'm continually captivated by the vastness of the universe, but we need to fix things right here now.

(Oh, and why not create a patent-free and license-free spaceship? It could be made by MIT students or something, run Linux, and be entirely free from corporate overlords. Now that would be sweet!)

Space program not necessarily "manned" (5, Insightful)

fruey (563914) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962694)

The article gives a number of good reasons, mostly to do with security and communications, but not one of this "top ten" gives any reason why we should send men into space, even less than having the most expensive hotel in the world, except that it's always all-expenses paid by you, the taxpayer.

I don't think many people think that near space and upper atmosphere research is a waste, nor the observation of distant stars and galaxies for their obvious scientific use in comparing our environment with others, and understanding our origins. NASA is an important precursor to a lot of the work, and defence technology often spaws useful commercial tech - satellite TV, GPS, international telecoms, weather stations...

If you made this a top ten of reasons to send men into space, you'd have a harder time justifying it, but the debate would be more interesting. Especially since current Reuters [] news asks that very question today, with mixed conclusions. An allusion in general to space left us with this interesting quote, which ties in with what I said about military tech:

O'Keefe acknowledged NASA lacks the sense of urgent mission that prevailed in its Cold War years

Top 10 Reasons for Space Program (-1)

DaddyExcellent (632540) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962696)

Creation of giant telescope for watching stars blow up

Investigating effects of Gravity on Moon

Better understanding of the effects of Cosmic-Rays on robots

Discovering where Neptune comes from

Locating regions where River Factory can be built to build new rivers for Earth

Investigating effects of dog shit on Mars

Locating extra storage for unused Linux distributions

Discovering origin of Neptune

Investigating effects of Moon's gravity on tractors

Investigating origin of planet Neptune

One more Reason (4, Insightful)

egommer (303441) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962724)

...the only necessary reason is "because it's there".

or the more correct reason... because it's not there. Space is a vacuum.

I have another reason. becuase human survival depends on it. The sun will eventually die and we gotta bust outta here

Re:One more Reason (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962785)

You're weak on logic, that's the trouble with you. You're like the guy in the story who was caught in a sudden shower and who ran to a grove of trees and got under one. He wasn't worried, you see, because he figured when one tree got wet through, he would just get under another one.

Re:One more Reason (1, Offtopic)

egommer (303441) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962897)

You're weak on logic, that's the trouble with you. You're like the guy in the story who was caught in a sudden shower and who ran to a grove of trees and got under one. He wasn't worried, you see, because he figured when one tree got wet through, he would just get under another one.

Is that the way you win an argument by insulting people? Regardlesss of what your opinion of my logic is. That does not change the fact the humans must master physics and space to esure the survival of the species. The exact path or method at which this occurs is irrelavent.

This is unless you are one of these socialist collective human haters who thinks the human species is not worthy of existance than your opinion is understanble and noted. If that's the case then just stand under one of the trees you reffered to and hold a long iron rod to save you the trouble.

Re:One more Reason (1)

aidfarh (573967) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962845)

Space is a vacuum.
Actually, there's no such thing as a perfect vacuum. That would violate Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. At the minimum, any point in space would always have some electromagnetic radiation passing through it from stars etc.. I'm not sure, but I think there's also some residual radiation floating around from the Big Bang, and the study of such radiation is supposed to give some insight to scientists on how the universe began. Or something.

an upper limit... (5, Funny)

n0mad6 (668307) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962725)

...for long-term survival of our species on Earth is ~1 billion years. This is roughly when increased thermal output of the sun (in its prepetual battle to hold itself up against its own gravitational pressure) will cause temperatures on Earth to rise to the point that the oceans start to boil away.

of course, by then, the machines will have taken over, so the issue of human survival will become moot.

Re:an upper limit... (2, Funny)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962908)

...for long-term survival of our species on Earth is ~1 billion years. This is roughly when increased thermal output of the sun (in its prepetual battle to hold itself up against its own gravitational pressure) will cause temperatures on Earth to rise to the point that the oceans start to boil away.

of course, by then, the machines will have taken over, so the issue of human survival will become moot.

"Oh well, just time for a quick bath then. Pass the soap could you someone." -Douglas Adams

Great, but why humans now, and why the Shuttle? (4, Insightful)

jjo (62046) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962734)

Most of the ten reasons make sense, but they don't really address the two most critical issues facing the space program today:
  • Why do we need a manned space program today?
  • If we have a manned program, why use the Shuttle?

Manned missions are great PR, and in the future we must have them, but I fail to see why we need them now, with the current state of space propulsion technology (i.e., large rockets to propel a small payload into orbit). Other than congressional pork-barrel spending, why should we continue to use the Shuttle, a technology that is now well past its prime? Why not start with a fresh sheet of paper and exploit what we have learned in the decades since the Shuttle was conceived?

In fact, when we retire the Shuttle, why do we need to rush into a new manned-space transportation system? Why not wait a few decades for a much more revolutionary system, such as a space elevator? What critical missions in the next few decades will really require humans in space?

Re:Great, but why humans now, and why the Shuttle? (2, Insightful)

Cheeze (12756) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962949)

1. money

it'll knock NASA out of space for about 10 years if they spend all of their money researching and developing a new space vehicle. Having a huge wasteful rocket send up a few hundred pounds of cargo is probably the way it's going to be for a while. Redesigning the most complicated machine ever conceived will take time, and will end up the new "Most complicated machine ever conceived."

Not sending man into space sounds like a good idea in theory, but the underlying point of space exploration is that we will eventually mess up earth so bad, we will HAVE to be in space. Yeah, it's good to make communication satellites and stuff, but if we miss out on living experiments in space, it will take much longer to colonize.

Also, if there are no astronauts, who are kids going to look up to? I bet NASA would have a hard time getting funding if they didn't have public figures like the elderly John Glenn keeping their cause in the limelight.

Space reports and Landsat 7 failure (1)

Lord Satri (609291) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962748)

Discussing Space programs, Jonathan's Space Report [] is a valuable source of info.

In the mean time, arguably the most important Remote Sensing satellite, NASA/USGS has announced last week [] that Landsat 7 will never get normal data anymore. After the Shuttle earlier this year... this is not good news for the space industry.

the fundamental reason (4, Funny)

Dan9999 (679463) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962750)

it is possibly a quicker way to get to India to bring back spices.

because I want aliens... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6962752)

I want to see tentacles and laser blasters and willowy arms and ear probes and time travel and leaders named Glork. I want some bang for my tax buck and I want NASA's brainiacs to go looking or die trying. That's my personal reason 11. As a matter of fact, I think NASA should just rename the entire space program "Reason 11" because if we don't discover "intelligent" life somewhere, or it doesn't find us, this really has been a poor life I've led. Screw the grandkids and their inherited debt. Bring me some critters!

Sad truth (4, Insightful)

L-s-L69 (700599) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962753)

Face it other than satelite launches and because we want to, man has no pressing reason to go into space. The cold war drove the greatest space program to date but since apollo there has been a lot less political will to go to space.

Im guessing that when the Chinese land on the moon America might take a new interest in space exploration. But until then they seem to be happier spending money on blowing things up.

Impending meteor notification (4, Interesting)

joelhayhurst (655022) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962758)

Is it likely that if an impending catastrophic meteor collision were to be discovered, the general public would even be made aware?

I've heard people say the US government would not let its people know they were going to die. But I imagine that if an astronomer discovered something like this, they would request verification from astronomers around the world who would then be in the know. And I doubt the word wouldn't leak out somehow.

Does anyone know what the government's policy towards this might be, and whether or not they could adequately silence such information?

Re:Impending meteor notification (2, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962802)

Of course they would, but in true /. fashion it would be just after the event occurs with a dupe a few weeks later.

Re:Impending meteor notification (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962827)

Well there's the one that's supposed to be going to hit us around 2700 or so... that leaked out :)

TBH in a real emergency I doubt we'd get enough warining for the news agencies to do anything about it.

Without rockets... (-1, Flamebait)

freidog (706941) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962761)

how else would we stop Saddam from building weapons of mass destruction in heaven?

Re:Without rockets... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6962865)

Pssh...that was an ice cream factory, he said so himself.

NASA/ESA are just not the right guys (3, Interesting)

adeyadey (678765) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962767)

NASA/ESA are just no longer the right guys to take manned space exploration forward. The Shuttle fiasco proves just how bad NASA is at delivering affordable spce travel. Generate incentives (X-Prize style) and let entreprenuers build the re-usable ships that could fly large numbers of people into space..

Re:NASA/ESA are just not the right guys (3, Insightful)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962912)

It always makes me laugh when I see this comment about letting the private sector take over space exploration.

How would you feel if for the sake of arguement the eventual winner of the X-Prize were to become the MS of space exploration, with almost total control over who does what in space. The private sector is not about bettering mankind, its about profit and many private sector companies are not averse to using very dubious, and in many cases downright criminal methods to achieve their aims. Suppose they discover valuable caches of materials. Do you think they are going to share them with the rest of the world or make us pay thru the nose ? What will the visa requirements be for landing on Planet Microsoft I wonder ? Suppose you are vacationing on Mars and disaster strikes, what do you reckon the odds would be the highest bidders get the first seats off the planet.

In typical fashion the private sector will not become a serious player in space travel until NASA and the other space agencies have made serious reductions in the cost of entry with lots of tax payer research dollars. The private sector will then demand access and want to cherry pick the most lucrative aspects. Remember, there was a time when Bill Gates was an entreprenuer.

We had the reason forty years ago. (4, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962768)

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard" []

Cynical old bastard though I am, my throat closes up and my eyes water every time I hear or read those words. Everything that defines us as human has come about because our reach has always exceeded our grasp. If we forget that now, then we might as well just go back to hooting, grunting and flinging our faeces at each other [] .

Don't like NASA? But it is so cool! (2, Interesting)

ljavelin (41345) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962788)

OK, I admit it - I like the coolness of NASA. I disagree with the article - most of those "top 10" are not in NASA's mission - but maybe it's just because NASA is a good service provider to those who do have strong, even noble missions.

I do believe that there is a good need to fund the science and engineering of areospace technologies - and the people at NASA are certainly the right people to do it.

And I'm certainly not totally against the manned space program. And being American, I think the US should invest heavily into the technology and trade where it still has clear leadership (because we all here see where industries like manufacturing and IT have/are going).

But alas, NASA needs to do more to both commercialize the business aspects of space, and to invest towards useful goals - too often I think that the billions in contracts could be better invested.

Re:Don't like NASA? But it is so cool! (1)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962830)

The government "investing" my money into IT and manufacturing, when parts or in the case of manufacturing, the complete process, can be done better and more cheaply is like tying a noose and jumping off the ladder. This would only hurt the consumer and other businesses for the benefit of a select few. For each job "saved" in IT or manufacturing, many more would be lost in other sectors. No amount of money thrown at a paradigm shift is going to change reality. Instead, one should try to adapt to changing situations.

Society always has a choice in these things... (5, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962804)

Move forward & grow, or stagnate & rot.

If we only did things that were "obviously" useful at the time of their discovery, we'd have dumped lasers, RADAR, the gas laws, astronomy, electricity, gunpowder and genetics.

If we only pursued zero-risk technologies, we'd have no refrigeration (the discoverer died from over-exposure to the cold), no cars (early experimentors frequently crashed, and the death toll from early racing was often double or triple digits), and no medicine (even today, the risks in trials is extremely high).

So space is risky and we can't see any obvious immediate benefit. So what? If we'd prefer to stagnate, then why not just end the world now? All life is genetically designed to move forward, and if we deny this fundamental core of biology, in the name of being cheapskates, the consequence is inevitable.

"Because it's there" is not a statement - it is a fundamental law of biology.

List UPDATED! (0)

j0nkatz (315168) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962814)

1. National defense and strategic security.

2. Protection against catastrophic planetary accidents.

3. ...

4. PROFIT!!!!

Re:List UPDATED! (1)

Cheeze (12756) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962884)

you spelled "strategic security" wrong. The new spelling is "Strategery" (stra TE' jerie).

Re:Profit! (0)

icebones (707368) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962923)

4. PROFIT!!!! Profit will be what truely expands our development of space explarationa and space tech. When companies can make a profit, it will explode. the X-Prize is an excllent example. "win $10millin to do this..." and who's the leader in that? The guy from ID Software, (IE QUAKE III). He's approching it from a prgrammers view point, saving $ and make quick progress. That's where the future of space lies. Private companies that are in it for the $. It may not be the answer everyone wants, bt it's the truth. Just look at computers, they didn't start improving on an exponetial level until the PC market hit and grew. i.e. PROFIT.

why not just stop? (0)

Althazzar (313749) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962816)

I think we have enough problems we could solve on earth with all the money that goes into space travel. Shrinking the budget by 90% and using that money to get food, medicines, clothing and housing to all people in the world in need is, IMHO, a far better idea than discussing why we need to go in space and doiing it anyways.
The other 10% should get us some interesting results in a few decades, by that time we might have more control over our own kinds well being.

Re:why not just stop? (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962867)

You wouldn't need to shrink the budgets by anything like that to feed the entire world, theoretically... there's no political (or social) will to do it, though. The fact is, once we have something (eg. a space program, food mountain, etc.) we're simply not going to let it go... altruism just isn't a part of the human condition (witness Cancun, where the key question on all sides was 'what's in it for me?' not 'how do we feed the poor').

Re:why not just stop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6962909)

That or you could first decrease military spending
Here in New Zealand we spend 4% of GDP on the defense force, including many remote peace keeping missions.

America AFIAK spends 40% of GDP and your GDP is a hell of a lot bigger than ours..

Australia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6962824)

Most of the economically advanced countries such as Japan, Canada, Australia and Europe, not to mention China, India and Russia, use their space programs....

Australia has a space programme?

Re:Australia? (2, Informative)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962861)

See No doubt they learned from the kangaroo jump.

My problem with the spin-off argument (2, Interesting)

nnnneedles (216864) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962851) that, chances are, these technologies will be developed anyway, and they will be developed to solve the problem directly at hand, thus making the research effort cheaper and the results better.

I mean, so space exploration is going to solve the education problems in the third world? Are farmer boys from africa going to sit at a videoconference lecture held by a professor from Harvard? Give me a break.

I have no problems with space exploration, but why is it that when it comes to space, there is always a lot of blind dreaming going on?

Just because space is more entertaining than say, cancer research, it doesn't make it more important.

And by the way, we have plenty of time for space exploration before the odd meteor hits or the sun explodes..

Goal are not the issue, it is money. (2, Interesting)

thbigr (514105) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962854)

I hate to say it againg but it is money, not goals. I just don't understand why the goverment doesn't spend more on space exporation. Every dollar pays off 10-20 times on economic growth.

If every branch of the goverment paid of like that, we wouldn't have any problems.


Irrelevant (4, Insightful)

BobTheLawyer (692026) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962857)

The most desperately dumb sentence in the article is "The only way to provide global education and health care services in coming decades at reasonable cost and broad coverage is via space-based communication systems". You get the feeling these guys have a deep knowledge of how to provide primary education and healthcare.

Because we have to (5, Insightful)

The Llama King (187264) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962859)

I fully understand that the list of reasons is aimed at those who insist on practical aspects for space, and if we have to convince visionless dolts who hold the purse strings, so be it.

But the real reason to go into space is because we, as a species, must. It's what we do. We find something we don't understand and we go figure it out. We find uninhabited places and we go live there. It's a major part of being human.

Revisionists may take great joy in dismantling his mythology, but John Kennedy and the generation he led understood this. Raised on the notion that we can do anything, we did the impossible and roared to the moon - and the fact that we were spurred on by fear of the Soviet boogieman was only secondary. Kennedy had a vision for what space meant to the U.S. and to man as a species.

Today, we're all practicality and logic and bottom-lines, and that sucks our soul away. We go into space because we must, because we're called there, and if we don't answer the call, we've lost something vitally important within ourselves.

Reason 11 (1, Funny)

Little Dave (196090) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962881)

So we think we know a little about space eh? Well answer me this Eisenstein... The astrologers in their ivory towers tell us that space is a vacuum, no air right? So how in the name of Mike does the Sun keep burning? How? HOW??

We need to land manned spaceships on the surface of the sun to answer this question, and maybe take that self-satisfied smirk off the faces of the astromonkeys!

Pointless Top 10 (5, Insightful)

Bendebecker (633126) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962901)

"Prevention of environmental disaster"
More like monitoring of onngoing environmental disasters. The money would be better spent on preventing them on the ground rather than just watching them from space.

"Creating a global network for modern communications, entertainment and networking"
I thought that was what M$ was trying to do. So our great space program is about being a slave to the telecoms... Why don't we just put a giant Verizon logo on all the rockets from now on?

"Global education and health services"
Give me a break. What, are we going to try to broadcast PBS to the entire world? The only people who will benefit the satalites and all the other space based comunications are the people who can afford the devices to tap into those communications. Last time I checked the poor in Africa want food, not TV's. The only people that will be able to afford these devices are the people that don't need these services.

"Cheap and environmentally friendly energy"
Let me guess: widespread use of potatoes to power clocks. They have gone a long way to create operational systems but they still need to develope them and they haven't been put into practice? In other words you have a coupel of ideas but you have done jack shit asbout them.

"Transportation safety"
This is part of the the satalite argument. As for the rest, space travel will always be inherently unsafe. The only recourse is to deal with it. When your shuttle explodes, be a man! Face the pain! I didn't hear any of the apollo astronauts whining about safety. They flew with what they had and if that wasn't good enough, tough!

"Emergency warning and recovery systems"
More satalites.

"National defense and strategic security"
And more satalite systems.

"Protection against catastrophic planetary accidents"
Not too useful since it doesn't seem we are seriously developing any of the tech necessary to prevent a strike if one was imminent(sic). And knowing NASA, the mission to save earth will eb pushed back and eventually scraped due to budget cuts. We have to put saving the world on the back burner cause our president wants to go to war with someone else to boost his poll ratings. Plus, unless the asteroid is in low earth orbit, how is NASA ever going to get to it? Satalites again...

"Creation of new jobs and Industries -- a new vision for the 21st century and a mandate to explore truly new frontiers"
This is the best and possibly the sole reason to have a space program. This alone makes it worth it. But lets face it: they haven't done anything in this theater since apollo (with the exception of a few probes). NASA and the shuttles is like an old man and his model T. He is constantly fixing the car just so he can go down to the local convience mart. Chuck the jollipe and get a hot rod.

And the number one reason... (4, Funny)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962931)

Lady Liberty is up to her neck, and you've got to find a way off this blasted rock... get yer hands offa me, you damn dirty ape!

Wait a minute (2, Funny)

glwtta (532858) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962938)

I thought the number one reason was that we have to acquire alien technology to defend ourselves against the Goa'uld, who are capable of reaching earth in their ships, even if we bury the gate?

And for those of you who missed them... (1)

psyconaut (228947) | more than 11 years ago | (#6962948)

...this Top Ten list will be on Letterman tonight ;-)

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