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Would You Move to Space?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the real-estate-in-zero-gravity dept.

Space 145

garyebickford asks: "Slashdot discussions on the SpaceShipOne flight talked about whether folks would take the flight if offered. It reminded me of a question that used to go around. If you were offered the opportunity to move permanently into space - perhaps an orbital environment, or asteroid (mining?) or another planet, etc. - and you had an 80% chance of living five years, would you take it? What if your chances were 50%?"

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145 comments

Costs:Benefits analysis (4, Insightful)

aleonard (468340) | more than 9 years ago | (#9503641)

80% chance of living for five years, and reaping the tremendous bounty of mining an asteroid? I might just take up that offer. It'd be a hell of a ride, whether or not I make it alive.

Also, just imagine the view every morning when you wake up. Every. Single. Morning. I'd risk my life for that, yes.

It'd be nice to live free for once.

Re:Costs:Benefits analysis (2, Funny)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 9 years ago | (#9503812)

Also, just imagine the view every morning when you wake up. Every. Single. Morning.

There would be no such thing as a "morning" anymore.

Re:Costs:Benefits analysis (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9504522)

There's such a thing as morning *now*?

What is this "sunlight" people keep telling me about?

morning (2, Insightful)

dpilot (134227) | more than 9 years ago | (#9505235)

Depends on the asteroid's spin. There might even be a morning every hour. Too fast a spin might make working an asteroid impractical. (Coriolis, effective surface gravity, dizziness, etc.)

Re:Costs:Benefits analysis (3, Interesting)

Des Herriott (6508) | more than 9 years ago | (#9505210)

If you're out in space mining an asteroid, then you're going to be a minor employee of some large corporation. Unless you, yourself, are capable of reaching said asteroid and claiming it.

So don't kid yourself that you'll be living free, or indeed reaping any kind of "bounty" other than the montly paycheck from your employers. Granted, the first few individuals to do this sort of work are likely to get some highly lucrative danger money; but if & when asteroid mining becomes routine, it'll be a pretty unglamorous life.

Re:Costs:Benefits analysis (2)

aleonard (468340) | more than 9 years ago | (#9507562)

If you're out in space mining an asteroid, then you're going to be a minor employee of some large corporation.

Yes, but not working for minimum wage. It's extremely risky work, using extremely expensive equipment which will require costly training. Anyone working on an asteroid will be paid well.

Re:Costs:Benefits analysis (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 9 years ago | (#9507320)

You have an incredibly beautiful sunrise out your window. Every. Single. Morning.

How often do you get up to see it?

Seeing Earth out your window would be cool... for a month. After that, it's like anything else. Been there, seen that.

This is coming from someone who lives on a hill and has an incredible view of California out my living room window -- Los Angeles to the North, all the way down the coast to San Diego to the South (on a clear day, of course) and beautiful mountains to the East. Yeah, it's pretty cool for a while, but...

I agree with the other poster who said there's more to life than having to do do some extreme thrill to know you're alive. Maybe it would be a better plan to figure out ways to feel alive in less lethal ways, so that you'll feel alive for a longer time? Seems like a better plan to me.

Re:Costs:Benefits analysis (1)

aleonard (468340) | more than 9 years ago | (#9507593)

You have an incredibly beautiful sunrise out your window. Every. Single. Morning.
How often do you get up to see it?


I can stare at an Earthrise. If I do that with a sunrise, I kinda get a burning in the retinas.

Re:Costs:Benefits analysis (2, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#9507933)

the problem with this proposal is exactly that.. every single goddamn morning - same view - same chores - doing jobs that mission control on earth schedules for you - excitement? sure it would be nice to be the first person on mars, but doing the same thing for every day-cycle for 5 years, without connection to real people, without holidays, without alcohol, without tobacco, without fresh porn, without football, without (most)hobbies.

sad thing is, it would be boring in reality. after a while it would be hard to stay even sane for most people...

and 'free'???????? free in a tin can not being able to decide where you even go? that's free? damn, I must be the most free person on earth then.

If you want freelancing free sail the seven seas type of free life you're better off staying on earth for now.

Re:Costs:Benefits analysis (1)

stanmann (602645) | more than 9 years ago | (#9509792)

So what you are saying is that it might be like living here as a married computer geek? and what is the downside.

live free (1)

QEDog (610238) | more than 9 years ago | (#9508223)

>I?It'd be nice to live free for once.

The psycological issues of living in confined quarters in space are similar to those in prison or a submarine. Living in a very small space, with the same people for prolonged periods of time is not very nice, and it is what is considered as "removing the freedom" of a convict.

Re:Costs:Benefits analysis (1)

another_henry (570767) | more than 9 years ago | (#9508757)

I agree it would be hella cool. But the view? Out where the asteroids are, you're so far from Earth that it would look similar to how Venus looks from here. A blue dot [cjb.net] , brighter than the stars probably. When you wake up every "morning" all you'd see are stars, not too different to how the night sky looks from Earth. Perhaps a few more of them. Either way I think the view would get boring quickly.

Re:Costs:Benefits analysis (2, Interesting)

aleonard (468340) | more than 9 years ago | (#9508989)

Out where the asteroids are, you're so far from Earth that it would look similar to how Venus looks from here.

Near-earth asteroids. I don't know if anyone really thinks mining the asteroid belt will be doable for a very, very long time. But there are thousands of large rocks near the Earth (like one which the BBC has said is estimated to hold, at current prices, $20 trillion in minerals), and we can be mining those for a very long time before ever touching the Mars-Jupiter belt.

Re:Costs:Benefits analysis (1)

another_henry (570767) | more than 9 years ago | (#9510712)

I'm pretty sure the NEAs are called that because they have orbits relatively close to Earth's, rather than out past Mars. This doesn't mean that the asteroid itself is near Earth for very long - it might pass within a couple of million km once a "year", but at that distance you won't have much luck at getting pretty pictures. The Earth would look the size of the moon in the sky.

Re:Costs:Benefits analysis (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 9 years ago | (#9510317)

80% chance of living for five years, and reaping the tremendous bounty of mining an asteroid?

What tremendous bounty? Has anyone really done an economic analysis of the cost versus value of asteroid ore - especially taking into account the probable future increase in non-metallic composite and nano-grown materials?

Seems to me it would be a lot cheaper to increase metals recycling here at the bottom of the gravity well.

Re:Costs:Benefits analysis (2, Interesting)

justanyone (308934) | more than 9 years ago | (#9511107)


This interests me. I've heard about mining asteroids, and speaking of the percent of them that are iron, nickel, copper, platinum, etc.

I have questions
  1. In gold mines, what percentage is ore vs. gold?
  2. Likewise platinum mines?
  3. what method is used to separate gold from the ore?
  4. what techniques could be used to separate desired metals from the ore, given constraints of lifting smelter equip. to space, and operating in zero or generated (centriptal) "gravity"?
  5. how much energy is required to heat iron to boiling, and given that, has anyone tried (in an actual college-experiment) to ionize it and run it through a high-impulse engine?
  6. would the constraints of a space-based nuclear-thermal powerplant be sufficient to run this king of engine?

In terms of which asteroid to use, more questions:
  1. has anyone made an actual list of viable cantidate asteroids?
  2. what conceivable delta-v could we impart to a hunk of rock that's medium sized, say 100 to 500 meters diameter?
  3. what is the ideal asteroid size for such a venture? Probably small so we could get it done before, oh, say, NEVER...
  4. Do we have a list of near Earth asteroids that fit the description, or is 100 meters too small to find?
  5. presuming we'd want to drill into the asteroid to set up temporary shelter (radiation protection, etc.), has anyone worked out how to do this with shaped charges, directed energy (reflected light), or other drilling techniques?
Just some musings / wonderings / ideas, here...

I had an idea for a smelter once: break off a chunk of asteroid, wrap it in silvered mylar to reflect radiant heat back in, put it at the center of a giant parabolic reflector dish, melt it using solar energy, spin it to generate gravity, and the densest materials will condense on the outside at the equator, right? Of course, if you seal it up ahead of time the outgassing may include oxygen, nitrogen, etc., which you can separate by liquid diffraction (?).

-- Kevin J. Rice (justanyone.com [justanyone.com] )

L.A.? (5, Funny)

CyberVenom (697959) | more than 9 years ago | (#9503646)

An 80% chance of living 5 years? Isn't that the same as L.A.? Between the freeways, the gangs, and the smog, it sounds about right to me...

Kum-by-ya. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9503661)

"If you were offered the opportunity to move permanently into space - perhaps an orbital environment, or asteroid (mining?) or another planet, etc. - and you had an 80% chance of living five years, would you take it? What if your chances were 50%?""

What if there was peace, love and understanding on the Earth, so we wouldn't feel the pressure to leave?

Re:Kum-by-ya. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9504270)

You greatly misunderstand the basics of human nature. Certainly pain, distrust, and conflict are responsible for much of our current technological development, but there is also the matter of insatiable curiosity. Unless you can block the sky from view, man will always look up at the twinkling stars, wondering what they are.

We want to go there. It isn't a pressure away from Earth, it's a pull to the unknown.

Re:Kum-by-ya. (1)

Frequency Domain (601421) | more than 9 years ago | (#9506779)

Unless you can block the sky from view, man will always look up at the twinkling stars, wondering what they are.
We know what they are, they're great big flaming balls of gas. Much like my cousin after a bowl of chili, and we try to stay away from him.

Re:Kum-by-ya. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 9 years ago | (#9508414)

"What if there was peace, love and understanding on the Earth, so we wouldn't feel the pressure to leave?"

Yes because it would be boring. What would be left to do? The problem with perfection is that it is so dull.

BTW there is peace, love, and understanding on Earth.

Re:Kum-by-ya. (2, Insightful)

reallocate (142797) | more than 9 years ago | (#9508785)

>>"What if there was peace, love and understanding on the Earth, so we wouldn't feel the pressure to leave?"

We are what we are; we will take our problems with us. People imagine that some magic ideology and some kind of all-knowing government will change things, but that's a fantasy.

Perhaps (2, Insightful)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 9 years ago | (#9503686)

Being a college nerd with poor social skills, I'm tempted to say yes to just about anything if there was a good chance of getting laid with a healthy member of the opposite sex. But I'm sure I'd regret it as I die in the vacuum of space. So no, I probably wouldn't even under such ideal conditions as I've only imagined but were not mentioned as perks.

Yes. (3, Insightful)

feidaykin (158035) | more than 9 years ago | (#9503732)

and you had an 80% chance of living five years, would you take it? What if your chances were 50%?

Yes and yes. Those aren't great odds but the odds of being safe inside a automobile aren't great either... I'd rather die doing something that no humans have ever done...

Kind of reminds of what someone much wiser than myself said on a similar subject here. [slashdot.org]

Re:Yes. (1)

sladelink (536962) | more than 9 years ago | (#9503914)

Yeah, but would you put your brain in a robot body?

Re:Yes. (1)

feidaykin (158035) | more than 9 years ago | (#9509117)

Yeah, but would you put your brain in a robot body?

Hmm... Depends on how much better the robot body would be than my current one I guess. Sounds like it might be fun, but then again I might miss the old ugly bag of mostly water. ;)

Re:Yes. (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#9503930)

Less than 0.01% of people who ride in autos are killed each year, I think it could be as low as 0.0001%.

Re:Yes. (1)

feidaykin (158035) | more than 9 years ago | (#9509087)

Less than 0.01% of people who ride in autos are killed each year, I think it could be as low as 0.0001%.

While that sounds great, if you're one of the 50,000 people in the US killed in an automobile accident each year, you're still 100% dead.

Yeah, of course (2, Funny)

rice_web (604109) | more than 9 years ago | (#9503842)

But it'd probably get old, just like the Spice Girls. It seems like great fun at first, but you later realize that they really didn't deserve a movie, nor a nation-wide release. But hey, get back to me with the next big thing, like Furby 2.0 and maybe I'll be interested.

Before The Wife and Kids... (3, Insightful)

Wetware (599523) | more than 9 years ago | (#9503940)

Yes and yes, in a heartbeat. Now, I don't think so. Maybe if the children were grown up. I would have to check with the boss though...

for me, before the wife... (3, Interesting)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 9 years ago | (#9508671)

before my marriage, I had a discussion with my wife about things we wanted of each other, my wife had 'demands' and I had one,

in all sincerity, I expressed the following..
should the opportunity arise where I could go into space, even on a one-way trip (generation ship, suicide mission, whatever) and she could not go, (denied for whatever reason) I wouldn't go, but if she had the same opportunity, and declined to go,(doesn't want to leave the kids, doesn't want to leave the planet,) I'd go without her. she looked at me, said "ok" and immediately started laughing.

I meant it, most truly, and remind her about it occasionally..

Re:for me, before the wife... (2, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 9 years ago | (#9510890)

I'm betting that she was thinking if that was all you'd want in a prenup, she was fine ....

She can lay claim to the house, the car, the money, the kids ....

you can lay claim to any potential space flights which may or may not arise and any start wars action figures you might have brought to the marriage.

Aim big I say. =)

the final frontier (4, Funny)

pizza_milkshake (580452) | more than 9 years ago | (#9503995)

i hear space is lovely this time of year. low pollution, few politicians, low crime rates and low taxes. as long as no one builds a black hole in my space-town.

but seriously, who wouldn't. even if it sucks, humans are hardwired to explore new places, even if it's dangerous or they're not wanted.

for further reading on human nature see the works of Smith, Agent.

Hell yes. (4, Interesting)

torpor (458) | more than 9 years ago | (#9504036)

I've been trying to find a quiet, non-NWO spot on this planet to live, but there ain't none left.

Give me a six-pack worth of O2 and enough water to recycle through myself for 10 years or so, and I'll oversee the robotics on any asteroid you want.

Of course, the issue of hydroponics - and what you can and cannot grow - would have to be worked out first.

Just sign me up for the standard "Human Sustenance Science Package" (strictly -NOT- from Ikea, please...) and I'm there. Got my boots on right now.

The possibilities for freedom on this planet have been long-since removed by the powers that be. Gimme another planet, or some other space body, and watch out. My descendants will be back in 50 years to re-claim Earth! :)

Re:Hell yes. (1)

SnoBall (778388) | more than 9 years ago | (#9510837)

Only if I had a 100% of being alive in 10 years. Plus, I'd bring a few water guns, a 10 year supply of JOLT, and lots and lots of rubber bands, if you get my drift. ;)

Hell yeah, I would. (2, Interesting)

Mmm coffee (679570) | more than 9 years ago | (#9504041)

In fact, if there was a 100% chance of me dieing within an hour of me getting into orbit, I'd still go if given the chance. I mean, every night I look up at the stars and I just wonder. The chance to experience life outside the womb of mother earth for just one minute... yeah, that's worth trading my life for. I am willing to die just to gaze upon the earth, stars and other galaxies from the outside for just one minute.

In that one minute I would see, learn, and experience more than most people see, learn, and experience in their entire lives. I would have an idea of my place in the universe that few currently have.

All of that near infinite universe and the chance to experience it outside the earth? Yeah, that's worth dieing for. An 80% chance of dieing within five years? I'd consider that a bonus - more time to experience it.

Yeah, I'm an oddball.

Re:Hell yeah, I would. (1, Insightful)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#9504113)

Or you could wait a few years till others work out the bugs, then enjoy years alive in space. Nothing that only lasts 60 seconds is worth dying for.

Re:Hell yeah, I would. (1)

drakaan (688386) | more than 9 years ago | (#9507173)

[sarcasm]Ahh...that's what I like to hear...that good old can-do pioneer spirit that makes America great[/sarcasm] (guessing you're American, based on your e-mail).

I guess it's a good thing that not everyone has that attitude, or there'd be no "others" to work out the bugs for you.

Re:Hell yeah, I would. (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#9507608)

Dying for 60 seconds worth of a view is stupid. It isn't being a pioneer, its kill yourself for a view.

Re:Hell yeah, I would. (1)

drakaan (688386) | more than 9 years ago | (#9507891)

If you think it's stupid, you think it's stupid. I heard you the first time. The fact that you keep repeating it isn't likely to make me agree with you, though.

Buzz Aldrin got more than 60 seconds worth of view, but had no realistic expectation of surviving to tell about it. Does that make him stupid?

Re:Hell yeah, I would. (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#9509597)

No, he was testing maned space flight and all the systems and processes that are needed to do that. He had a honorable reason for doing what he did.

You just want to look at the earth, big difference.

Re:Hell yeah, I would. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9504341)

This was kind of an undercurrent in a recent realistic space anime called Planetes. The main character eventually discovers that there is really no dividing line between Earth and space. Earth is a part of space, and so are we. A difference of 100 miles or so is not worth certain death; it would be ridiculous for me to accept certain death if it meant I could drive 100 miles to another city.

However, the need to explore this infinite playground is certainly worth a calculated risk. We should want to live to discover unknown things, not to die away from everything and everyone we know.

Re:Hell yeah, I would. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9504363)

At the 59th second, you would realize that you have just done the most selfish thing in your life. The last second before you died would be filled with the desire to share the knowledge you gained.

Re:Hell yeah, I would. (1)

ericspinder (146776) | more than 9 years ago | (#9506397)

At the risk of sounding trite...

We. Are. In. Space. Already.

Right now as I type, and then as you read, we are traveling through space on a large (by our standards not the Universe's) rock. Stepping outside this rock's thin layer of atmosphere to get a better look at the stars is a matter better suited for a space based telescope. Sure, I like to experience extended periods of weighlessness and look at the stars from a little more clear perspective, but I wouldn't want to travel in a manner which is less safe than the Shuttle (about a 1-in-56 chance of dying [airsafe.com] ). Your benifit/risk analysis may be more liberal, but really you'd go to a certain death for one minute in Low Earth Orbit, really. On related matter, I don't think that we'll ever see colonization of space (other than the occasional oddball), the cost of maintaining life there is too high, and will likely remain so through our lifetimes.

OT: Re:Hell yeah, I would. (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 9 years ago | (#9506543)


Right now as I type, and then as you read, we are traveling through space...

Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
That's orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it's reckoned,
A sun that is the source of all our power.
The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour,
Of the galaxy we call the 'Milky Way'.

Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
It's a hundred thousand light years side to side.
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick,
But out by us, it's just three thousand light years wide.
We're thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
We go 'round every two hundred million years,
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.

The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute, and that's the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space,
'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth.

-Eric Idle

Re:Hell yeah, I would. (1)

drakaan (688386) | more than 9 years ago | (#9507404)

On related matter, I don't think that we'll ever see colonization of space (other than the occasional oddball), the cost of maintaining life there is too high, and will likely remain so through our lifetimes.

*sigh* Right. We won't see colonization of space. Whatever you say. Why don't we just back up a bit and we caqn see how many other things there are that should have been discounted out-of-hand, shall we?

  • We'll never put a man on the moon/in space
  • We'll never be able to have computers small enough to fit in our homes
  • Men will never be able to fly
  • You can't sail around the world

Yes, I realize that you didn't say we'd never have space colonization at all, but why presume to know that it won't happen before you die? The cost of maintaining life there is to high...ahh...yes. Of course, all of the programs, vehicles, habitats, and support systems created to date to accomplish that goal have been developed by governments. Same thing happened with early aviation, but of course, commercialization changed a lot about the costs.

It's true that we. are. in. space. already. but that's not the point. We have no ability to steer this spaceship, and that makes it a bit difficult to explore anything other than the spaceship we're on. It's also getting a bit crowded in a few of the cabins, and some of the passengers are getting restless.

If your big ambition is just to *look* at the other stars, then I guess I can see your point, but if you have a shred of optimism, and an explorer's spirit (as many of us do), looking at the stars is just the thing that makes you want to *go* there...or at least to try.

You have fun with your risk-analysis and be safe, and others will have fun with their dreams and leap at a chance for something like space travel.

Re:Hell yeah, I would. (1)

ericspinder (146776) | more than 9 years ago | (#9508501)

Space travel is not space colonization. All of the equipment created yet so far cannot sustain life without continuious and expensive resupply from the spacecraft where we currently live (Earth).
Of course, all of the programs, vehicles, habitats, and support systems created to date to accomplish that goal have been developed by governments. Same thing happened with early aviation, but of course, commercialization changed a lot about the costs.
Early avaiation was explored by two brothers on winter vacations from thier bike building business, without any government money, but within twenty years of 'the first powered flight' (yes, I am aware of claims other than the Wright brothers) there was substantial commerical investments in the business. While the government was an early well-funded client, it certainly didn't provide the seed.

Just because you are not aware of it, doesn't mean that most every decsion is a "risk analysis" of some type, hell some guy decided that attaching ballons to a lawn chair was an acceptable risk for the benefit of the experience. I don't know what the odds are for a "lawn chair" launch, but I don't believe that it would be worth the experience. However I do believe that the 1 in 56 chance of DEATH with the space shuttle is both acceptable to me and quite daring. You really have to look to Russian Roulette before you find an experience with "worse odds" for the experience.

Just to quite clear ...
Just because I approach the subject with some logic and careful consideration doesn't mean that that I don't believe in the project. I am all for manned space exploration, and strongly believe that it is important for the future of humanity.

Re:Hell yeah, I would. (1)

drakaan (688386) | more than 9 years ago | (#9508877)

Space travel is not space colonization. All of the equipment created yet so far cannot sustain life without continuious and expensive resupply from the spacecraft where we currently live (Earth).

Space travel is not space colonization, but the two have a symbiotic relationship, and advancing one means advancing the other. It is true, at present, that we have to resupply all habitats to sustain life...all the more reason for active work to be done on severing that tie.

Early avaiation was explored by two brothers on winter vacations from thier bike building business, without any government money, but within twenty years of 'the first powered flight' (yes, I am aware of claims other than the Wright brothers) there was substantial commerical investments in the business. While the government was an early well-funded client, it certainly didn't provide the seed.

You seem to be saying the same thing that you quoted me as saying. Commercial investment of time and resources was what made aviation go.

Just because you are not aware of it, doesn't mean that most every decsion is a "risk analysis" of some type, hell some guy decided that attaching ballons to a lawn chair was an acceptable risk for the benefit of the experience. I don't know what the odds are for a "lawn chair" launch, but I don't believe that it would be worth the experience.

And I'd have to agree, but then again, I have no burning desire to travel by balloon, and I can't see much point in it, much unlike the subject at hand.

However I do believe that the 1 in 56 chance of DEATH with the space shuttle is both acceptable to me and quite daring. You really have to look to Russian Roulette before you find an experience with "worse odds" for the experience.

I think I understand wher we're differing. I think that space exploration is absolutely essential (not just important) to the human race, so any risks associated with advancing that goal are acceptable. I don't think that russian roulette is essential for any particular purpose, so for me, there isn't a real comparison there. The odds only matter if you're talking about comparable undertakings in terms of how desirable they are to accomplish.

Just because I approach the subject with some logic and careful consideration doesn't mean that that I don't believe in the project. I am all for manned space exploration, and strongly believe that it is important for the future of humanity.

I'm glad to hear it. A lot of people think it's not important at all.

Re:Hell yeah, I would. (1)

TFloore (27278) | more than 9 years ago | (#9510795)

Yes, I realize that you didn't say we'd never have space colonization at all, but why presume to know that it won't happen before you die? The cost of maintaining life there is to high...ahh...yes. Of course, all of the programs, vehicles, habitats, and support systems created to date to accomplish that goal have been developed by governments. Same thing happened with early aviation, but of course, commercialization changed a lot about the costs.

I keep hearing this comparison of commercialization of space travel and aviation... and I think there's a little bit missing there.

Aviation allowed for more rapidly going from where people were already to... another place where people were already. Maybe for travel, maybe for military reasons, maybe for transporting some product. But almost always from one place where people are already, to another place where people are already.

That's not the case with space travel.

I support space travel/exploration/colonization, but I think it's going to be more complicated than commercialization changing a lot of costs. It will also have to change a lot of risk assessments. Think more along the lines of early trans-atlantic sailing ship voyages. Some just didn't make it. And fleets weren't grounded when one ship was lost.

We'll have to redefine acceptable losses. Both in human and monetary terms. Which is part of what this question was about, admittedly.

Maybe, if I didn't like the Alliance... (1)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 9 years ago | (#9504050)

...I could pack up my things, move to the fringes and learn to say "aint".

More seriously, what's the pay? If asteroid mining rakes it in, maybe they'd need an IT Manager. Can't be worse than a fly-in-fly-out job in Tanzania.

No, but (3, Insightful)

bmac (51623) | more than 9 years ago | (#9504166)

it would probably make me happy if
*you* did. And take your friends, too!
I mean, really, earth would be a great
place if it wasn't for the people.

On a more serious note, though, until
we can travel at the speed-of-thought
and *then* find a suitable earth-like
planet, I'd rather we spent our time
trying to fix our damaged ecological
and societal systems.

Peace & Blessings,
bmac

Re:No, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9505518)

OK! We're making a change by reading slashdot!

For me and for others (2, Interesting)

Sierran (155611) | more than 9 years ago | (#9504197)

Yes and yes. I'd go. If NASA called and said they had a pre-Challenger O-Ring shuttle that had been sitting in freezing rain for two days and they needed a mission specialist, I'd be on the next plane. Would I live there? If it meant *either* that I could do so undamaged (zero-gee, radiation) by the day-to-day experience, barring accidents; *or* that my doing so would increase the chances others would get to do so, then yes, in a New York Minute, baby.

80% chance better than our forerathers? (5, Insightful)

warm sushi (168223) | more than 9 years ago | (#9504208)

Not that I know the actual stats, but 80% survival rate over 5 years sounds pretty good. What was the survival rate of the early European-American colonists? Accounting for disease, starvation, being stabbed by someone or eaten by something - would it be better than 80%? Probably not.

So hell yes. I'd go. Anyone with a sense of adventure and courage would go (or in Australia's case, anyone with a criminal record).

The rewards are potentially massive (better than a tiny farm plot which is all the early colonists got) and the experience?! To have your name recorded as one of the first to colonise off-earth! Immortality is yours! Go and take it!

I don't think anyone could argue that a shortage of highly motivated and suitable volunteers would be a problem. Rather, the real problem is getting us all up there. At 80% or 50% or even 10%.

I'm ready now.

Re:80% chance better than our forerathers? (1)

LazyBoy (128384) | more than 9 years ago | (#9506501)

What was the survival rate of the early European-American colonists?
The colonists were fleeing a society they didn't like.

I guess I'm getting old or something. I'd love to live in space. But I don't like those odds.

Re:80% chance better than our forerathers? (1)

PD (9577) | more than 9 years ago | (#9506865)

Quite a lot of them went for money. Eventually money will be a factor in space exploration too, but I think that capable asteroid mining robots will come along first. The first space colonists will be our machines. By the time people get out there in large numbers, the machines will have made it a lot safer. So, I'd have to say that I'd go, definitely.

Re:80% chance better than our forerathers? (1)

drakaan (688386) | more than 9 years ago | (#9507484)

I dunno...machines break. Constantly. If the machines you're sending have to be able to do soe useful work, you pretty much have to send along pairs of technicians (or technicians and adventurous "companions" for company.)

By the time people get out there in large numbers, they may have a hostile, well-equipped, robot-enabled, technically-savvy, indigenous population to deal with.

No bellboy up here? (1)

BrianRaker (633638) | more than 9 years ago | (#9504272)

Where's the signup sheet at?

80% over 5 years... that's damn good odds. Better than driving in LA traffic for a year :P Even 50% over 5 years. I'd be game for it. In a heartbeat. ScaledComposites, NASA, JSDA, John Carmack, whoever wants me, I'm available.

Utterly iInfantile religious question (3, Interesting)

MikShapi (681808) | more than 9 years ago | (#9504342)

Being someone who is currently moving his life and family from one side of the world (Israel) to the other (Australia), I can clearly point out that as nostalgically charming as moving into space may sound,

** There is more to making such a decision than the presence (or lack thereof) of vaccum around the place we call home **.

Questions such as these arise:
* What are the prospects of a quality life there? (which leads to further questions like how we measure quality of life - by the amount of green around our house? the amount of accessible online gadget stores that ship to our location?)
* What are the prospects of economic prosperity there? Taxation? Salaries?
* Can I work in my chosen field there?
* Can I practice my recreation activities there? (Think diving, snowboarding, etc.)
* What kind of mentality do the people who live there share?
* WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?

Hell, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Would I move into space? Tell me what's waiting for me there and what I'm running from here for starters, and I'll consider it.

The only people who'd answer such a question offhand are people who are either miserable with their current lives, don't have any, or are very deep into their fantasy worlds.

That kind of problem can usually be solved using much simpler methods.

Re:Utterly iInfantile religious question (1)

arikol (728226) | more than 9 years ago | (#9507846)

Third type of person who can answer this offhand, Those who have actually thought the issue through, with sacrifices and all! Not just pathetic losers MikShapi seems to think

Re:Utterly iInfantile religious question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9510694)

Didn't he explicitly state that these are people who would answer such a question offhand wherewas your "third type" is, by your own definition, people who _have_ thought the consequences through (whereas his conclusion doesn't apply to your third type?)

I was nearly an astronaut (4, Funny)

keoghp (457883) | more than 9 years ago | (#9504410)

According to my dad, I was nearly an astronaut.
He said if he'd pulled out 2 seconds earlier I would have been shot into space.

Life's Short Enough (5, Insightful)

turgid (580780) | more than 9 years ago | (#9504822)

When you're young, life is long, and quite often boring, and any excitement is welcome.

I'd love to go into space, but I don't see why it has to be risky, or why we should accept high risks in a gung-ho fasion. There is plenty of intelligent and advanced engineering that can be done to minimise risk. I realise that people do dangerous things like mountaineering for sport and for fun, but that's not my cup of tea.

As I get older, and become more aware of the limited time available for life, I realise that there's lots to do. Anyone can put their body into space, alive or dead, for short periods of time. What I'm saying is there is more to most people than a physical presence.

I can imagine getting very bored with being in space, cooped up in a tiny craft for any length of time. Many of us don't appreciate the importance to our well-being and sanity of being in the natural environment which we've evolved to be in. Could you imagine being in a tin can for years breathing recycled air, having nothing to eat but a small selection of plants and freeze-dried food? What about experiencing day and night, wind, tide, rain, hearing bird song, the fragrance of flowers and freshly cut grass or a good chicken jalfrezi? What about the company of friends and family? What about gravity? Wouldn't you get bored with floating about all the time and not being able to walk?

I'd love to go into space, for a week or two, in a safe, reliable and comfortable craft. Some people have that gung-ho spirit and would throw their lives and well-being away for a few minutes of experience that one day will be as common as walking down the street. Whatever floats your boat.

Personally, I'd prefer a more considered and rational approach, but heck, I'm rapidly becoming and old git.

Re:Life's Short Enough (1)

gnovos (447128) | more than 9 years ago | (#9505126)

What about experiencing day and night, wind, tide, rain, hearing bird song, the fragrance of flowers and freshly cut grass or a good chicken jalfrezi?

I know, what about experiencing an earth-rise, floating in zero gravity with the entire universe beneath your feet, seeing nebula with the naked eye and stars as bright as diamonds. I mean, you can't just live your life in some crappy space port and expect to see anything as mind-shatteringly cool as that. Err, oh wait...

Re:Life's Short Enough (2, Interesting)

turgid (580780) | more than 9 years ago | (#9505172)

I know, what about experiencing an earth-rise, floating in zero gravity with the entire universe beneath your feet, seeing nebula with the naked eye and stars as bright as diamonds. I mean, you can't just live your life in some crappy space port and expect to see anything as mind-shatteringly cool as that. Err, oh wait...

Like I said in my post, it would be nice for a week or two, but the novelty would soon wear off and I'd be craving my earthly paradise. For me it's not worth givin up my life to experience. Going into space might make you value what you have right here a lot more. Didn't the NASA astronauts who walked on the Moon come back with a profoundly changed attitude towards the earth?

Life goes on for a long time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9510212)

You're looking at life from a single-human point of view, which is quite flawed IMO. The length of a single human's life is irrelevant. It's the collective life of societies that matter, and the preservation of knowledge. I.e., it's important to document and share so when one dies others can pick up the work and continue, whether that work is cutting-edge research or maintaining a farm.

Big parts of our lives have been going on for about 2500 years, more or less, with some parts going back even futher. And our lives will continue for some time to come, even if individuals die young, old, or whenever.

So to me, it doesn't matter whether I have a 50% chance of survival or 80%. The important thing is to document and share the knowledge so that life can go on. This is also how the current societies living in the American continents were created, immigrants traveled there regardless of their chance of individual survival, and they concentrated on developing the society for generations to come, and not just for their own lifespan. (Note that the destructions of existing societies in those continents is a different subject altogether).

-hadohk

Too vague to answer. (4, Insightful)

AlecC (512609) | more than 9 years ago | (#9504842)

Five years is a long time. What is the quality of like like, and what am I achieving while I am there?

Five years sitting inside a small capsule just to prove it can be done - forget it.

Five years in a moderately cramped environment with good communications, building part of a real space station, participiting in the escape from Earth - you're on.

While danger is not irrelevant, the cause, the goal, is much more relevant. People have taken huge risks for a cause they believe in - and lost, not infrequently. I believe in trying to ensure that humanity is not limited by the finite resources of the Earth. I want humans to inherit the stars. I am prepared to risk quite a lot of danger, and quite a lot of discomfort, in that goal. But not infinite danger, and not infinite discomfot.

So - give me a worthwhile job to do, and I'll sign up.

Armageddon (3, Insightful)

Vincman (584156) | more than 9 years ago | (#9505207)

Incidentally, probably the only thing the movie Armageddon [imdb.com] has to contribute to society, is the answer to this question. The typical person who would most likely take on an assignment in space, like drilling into an astroid or setting up base there, would have to have little ties like family, be very well paid (at those odds) and more than slightly suicidal. This is not a scientist's (or nerd's) type of job. It involves following instructions to the letter (like: drill here) and very hard and continuous manual labour. After that part is done, people can start to think about *living* in space, at far better odds.

very hard and continuous manual labour (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 9 years ago | (#9505409)

Actually, 'very hard and continuous manual labor' is one thing very likely NOT required in any space situation. So far, we haven't been effectively able to cool the space suits. Every time I've heard of a mission that has involved significant EVA, especially active EVA, cooling and internal humidity have been the limiting factors. The astronauts have had to slow down to the cooling and dehumidification limits of the space suits.

The problem extends, and is more general. Every time I hear of electronics in space, radiation is a concern. But that's typically solved at the base technology level. The problem that really dogs the designers is temperature - cooling the electronics are when active and warming them when they're not, plus accomodating varying amounts of solar heating.

When we think of this giant sea of atmosphere around us, and then contrast it with the vacuum of space, we normally only think of breathing it. We don't think of the massive convective heat-and-humidity sink it also comprises.

Re:Armageddon (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 9 years ago | (#9506358)

"(or nerd's) type of job."

Yea, just think of the R&R time. My UT2004 pings would be through the roof!

Freedom (3, Interesting)

heikkile (111814) | more than 9 years ago | (#9505422)

Several posters here have expressed an opinion that going to space would be the only way to find "freedom", what ever they mean with it. In my humble opinion, things would not be very much different out there for a long time. We would be bringing our earthly culture with us, with even more strict rules and regulations. For a long time any possible habitat would be owned by large corporations, and/or by earthly nations. In any case, they would be sure to insist on their red tape everywhere.

Of course at some point said colonies would get their independence, and presumably could offer some "freedom" for newcomers. Of course, acquiring independence has traditionally been a bloody mess, and as often as not has lead to a very unfree dictatorship...

Once independent, the new colonies would be kindly requested to sign trade treaties etc, and as a condition to doing so, promise protection for intellectual property etc. Until and unless they'd be totally self-sufficient, the colonies would have to agree to limit music downloads and software piracy and everything else the earthlings demand...

All in all, going to space will happen, it will be exciting, dangerous, and rewarding, but it will not provide much "freedom" in any way. That's my prediction.

Without even thinking (1)

Vilim (615798) | more than 9 years ago | (#9505466)

Yes, without even thinking I would say yes. I am a science fiction junkie, what I cannot do in actuality I do in imagination. I explore the stars through fiction at least two hours a day, every day.

When most people look at the night sky, seeing the wonders of the universe layed out before them, they see many different things, signs from above, pictures etc.

When I look at the night sky, I see a billion suns that I will never visit (except in fiction), a hundred billion planets that I will never see, or walk upon. Looking up into the night sky makes me depressed that I was born in an age without interstellar travel ... then I go and read science fiction.

Yes I would. (1)

Deanasc (201050) | more than 9 years ago | (#9505803)

Even at 50/50 odds the chance to step a little closer to the stars appeals to me in profound ways. I don't know off the top of my head but what were the odds of surviving a trip to the pacific in a covered wagon? What were the odds for a British naval conscript to grow old? There have always been daredevils carrying the human race a few steps further away from the Tigris River. Had I been born 15000 years ago I would have been one of them.

Ties to Earth (1)

sab39 (10510) | more than 9 years ago | (#9505880)

If I were single the answer would absolutely be "Hell yeah!".

Since I'm married with a daughter and a son on the way, I'd have to say no - unless I could persuade them to come with me.

I'd love to emigrate to Mars. If the option becomes available within my lifetime, I *know* I'll try to persuade them. My wife won't go for it, but who knows how my kids will feel when they grow up... maybe they can persuade Mommy ;)

Stupid odds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9505976)

How do u know what the chances are of surviving? The question is just plain silly. Actually it reminds me of that lame series Codename Nikita, where everybody runs around looking very grave and doomlike and saying nillywit things like "the mission has a 5% chance of succes" or "if succesprognosis falls to 20% switch to extractionplan B". I mean come on. u cant go around tossing figures and numbers like that! Give the poster a job at the RIAA ("Piracy is costing us 222222222222 billion... umm oh make the 333333768 billion million $ a year"), or some othe lame organisation, where he can put his math skill to the test.

Ok, here a though one in the same alley. If u could fuck Kylie Minouge and only have a 5 % chance of gettin away with it with out ur wifey discovering it, would u do it? Ok, even with at 90% chance og getting gonnorea? Umm, ok, what if like she brougt her sister along. Hows that for toppling the odds...!

Twat.

Just remember.. (2)

Raven42rac (448205) | more than 9 years ago | (#9506183)

When we are discussing this, remember that the same discussions were held nearly 500 years ago. Replace the word "space" with "the new world" or "the wild west". There is probably an added element of danger with it being space and all. It probably evens out with the pioneer days, animals, weather, etc.

Um, no. (1)

jht (5006) | more than 9 years ago | (#9506474)

FIrst off, I kinda like it here.

Secondly, and more importantly, here on Earth I have a family, the ability to enjoy the outdoors unencumbered by a survival suit, weather, seasons, and all the nice things that accompany a home. The only things I have here that I don't like are bills. But when you pay them, they seem to go away for a few weeks (go figure).

Giving that up to live in space, likely performing drudge work for whoever financed the trip is not my lifestyle of choice.

However, given favorable odds of survival and assuming I could either afford the trip or do the same drudgework to earn my keep, I would absolutely sign on for a short period of a month or less. To go to space is one of the few great experiences left I could imagine wanting to do. I'd just only like to do it if I can come back.

My cow-orkers think so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9507368)

The keep making comments like "what planet are you from" and "Geesh, Bob sure is spaced out today" and "if you don't stop that annoying humming, I'm going to fscking hit you so hard your next home will be the space station" and "Ok, that's it, Smith...I'm going up to H.R. and send you to the moon on a rocket"

Or am I missing something?

TDz.

Risk of Life (1)

filmguru (710596) | more than 9 years ago | (#9507758)

An 80% chance to live 5 years may sound bad, but for me it's a reasonable trade-off. As a writer, experience is inspiration. Even if it was dangerous (micrometeor collision, radiation, not to mention catastrophic system failures), I would be happy to live in space whether on an orbital platform or on a small colony somewhere. There are three things I must have, however: 1) Other people. I can't live without some human contact. 2) Privacy. Too much human contact can drive anyone crazy. 3) An Internet connection to Earth. How could I live without checking Slashdot every day?

One word: Outland (2, Interesting)

smchris (464899) | more than 9 years ago | (#9508129)


The drugs and hookers would have to be _really_ good. But forgetting to put your helmet on during decompression can be a mind-blowing bummer.

This overlooked movie has always been my standard to judge all movies about what "fun" it would be to work in the greater solar system.

I've thought about this some... (2, Informative)

RevAaron (125240) | more than 9 years ago | (#9508179)

After reading Kim Stanly Robinson's Red Mars I thought about this a lot. I considered whether or not I'd go to Mars if I had the chance, assuming it meant it was a one-way trip, with a high likelyhood that I would die on Mars, on account of the radiation. Not sure why I had this stuck in my head, there are ways to shield the radiation. But I think I'd do it, though not at this point in my life... I'd have to be older.

With an 80% chance of survival... I think I'd do it now, as long as my S.O. could go with me, and I think she would. As for 50%... well, let's just say that I'd wait a little while longer until the odds got better. :)

If you've not read Red Mars, as well as the rest of the series (Green Mars, Blue Mars) I highly reccomend it. KSR is on comissions at NASA and elsewhere for Mars colonization. He certainly knows what he's talking about. The really great thing about Red Mars is that it is very, very realistic- there isn't a lot that we couldn't do now with the right resources. When you read a book that is *so* close to what we could achieve now, it really makes you think, and makes you wish you could be one of the First Hundren. :)

Absolutely... (1)

Ag3nt (790820) | more than 9 years ago | (#9508500)

Actually life in space could be quite pleasant. Low crime, pleasant real-estate, incredible view. Now that we have sucessfully been able to grow plants in space, I figure its only a matter of time before we manage to get animals to reproduce. Waste management would be efficient, incinerate all the trash in a controlled enviroment, then vent the smoke, gases into space. My only qualm would be if the odds for survival were below 40%...

Achilles' choice (2, Informative)

raider_red (156642) | more than 9 years ago | (#9510010)

According to myth, the fates appeared to Achilles and offered him a choice between a short but interesting life, or a long but unremarkable life. He chose the life where people would remember him after he was gone.

I'd have to take the chance if it was offered. How many people have had the chance to fly in space? Even with all of its risks, I'd have to try.

An additional question: (1)

fmaxwell (249001) | more than 9 years ago | (#9510103)

Ask Slashdot: Would You Move to Space?

What if we all said "please"? Would you do it if everybody signed a petition asking you to?
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