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Conquering the LaGrange Points?

Zonk posted about 9 years ago | from the this-space-for-rent dept.

Space 911

3laws_safe writes "For decades, people have dreamed about building colonies at the five LaGrange points, intersections in space where gravitational and centrifugal forces balance out to provide orbital stability. But now, the official magazine of the U.S. Space Command advocates seizing control of the LaGrange points before other nations do it. From the article: 'We face the need to control the chokepoints of the solar system.' Arthur C. Clarke, who depicted a LaGrange colony in his classic 1961 novel A Fall of Moondust, is not very happy about this. He argues we should not 'export national rivalries beyond the atmosphere.' Is he right? Or should we prepare for the fact that such rivalries are inevitable, even in space?"

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911 comments

I for one, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048222)

welcome our new LaGrange overlords :P

Hopefully FP

1992 Called... (1)

1992 Called (893858) | about 9 years ago | (#13048243)

They want ZZ Top back.

Re:1992 Called... (0, Offtopic)

Xenious (24845) | about 9 years ago | (#13048270)

Rumor spreadin' around...

Squid For Breakfast again? Tastes like Troll to me (2, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 9 years ago | (#13048384)

[ ] Establish "branding" with new, LaGrange salad cream.

[ ] Create confusion by referring to Intel's CPU isolation and privilege strategy as LaGrange

[ ] Suggest renaming these imaginary, 3D coordinates the "Delarge" points - in honor of Alex from "A Clockwork Orange"

[ ] Mmmmmmm! Tasty fairy-cake!

[ ] Bend over, and kiss your asteroid goodbye.

Re:I for one, (0, Redundant)

chphilli (885315) | about 9 years ago | (#13048320)

I think that is the first FP claim I've seen that actually is the First Post! Congrats!

Re:I for one, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048333)

welcome our new LaGrange overlords :P

And that would be ZZ Top, I believe.

yes (2, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 9 years ago | (#13048226)

Or should we prepare for the fact that such rivalries are inevitable, even in space?

Yes (5, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | about 9 years ago | (#13048257)

While Clark sentiments are noble, they're equivalent to saying that we shouldn't even be having these rivalries here on the ground. He is correct, but wishing does not make reality so.

Space colonization is going to be like any other form of colonization in history, only with less killing of the natives. It's going to be a chance for each country's "Way of Life" to be exported abroad and for each country to seize resources for themselves so that they can dominate their rivals close to home. The fact that it's in space instead of across the sea is irrelevant.

This is history. Prepare to repeat it.

Re:Yes (2, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 9 years ago | (#13048303)

they're equivalent to saying that we shouldn't even be having these rivalries here on the ground

Which is a point made a couple posts down in this thread. But we all know about wishes. And you are right. Rather than look at it as space vs. earth -- think about it as human beings engaged in group activities. Then you realize that conflict is not just likely, it is inevitable.

Not to mention the paper linked here is talking about space dominance to insure dominance on the ground.

Re:yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048292)

we must control the lagrange points before the terrarists do.

just sayin.

Which rivalries, commercial or military. (5, Interesting)

team99parody (880782) | about 9 years ago | (#13048305)

The commercial rivalries (should United Airlines or Disney or Virgin Galactic or WalMart own them) or the political ones (should the US military or the Chinese military occupy them).

Seems it'd be best for the US if WalMart owned one of the lagrange points, just like WalMart owns much of manufacturing in China and Exxon owns much of the oil in the mideast. If it's siezed as a military base it'll just sit there with lots of cost and little benefit to anyone; but if it's purchased as a commercial facility, it'll be a tax on everyone going into space. To rephrase the distinction in more concrete terms; China is WalMart's biggest ally, but China is also the US military's largest competitor for space domination.

I agree that the US corporations should race to control commercially the Lagrange points (as we do buying up oil in the mideast); but I think it'd be stupid if we decided to occupy them at great cost to ourselves (as we do to certain countries in the mideast).

All the above and more (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 9 years ago | (#13048340)

Though right at this moment I'd say there are few players at this level and they are all military in nature. But down the road everybody will join in.

Any group which intends to use physical force to impose its will on the surface of this planet, will need to be able to maintain assets in space. it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. (har, har, har)

Which would make the US stronger faster (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048404)

A Disney park at one Lagrange point and a WalMart at the other; or a new guantanamo out of reach of un inspectors? I'd say the former.

Re:Which rivalries, commercial or military. (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | about 9 years ago | (#13048420)

Except if there's a war. The governemnt with the base with the TIE fighters and the dreadnoughs will win, WalMart or no WalMart.

Here's another question: How large a structure could be held there? A small object (like a probe), a space station, or an small moon (except it would not be called a moon, since it would revolve around the sun, so a small planet)?

Anyhoo, looks like a great place to put a huge solar array.

Re:Which rivalries, commercial or military. (1)

Dasch (832632) | about 9 years ago | (#13048459)

Or it could be controlled by a supranational institution, such as the United Nations?

We don't *need* MacDonald's in space...

Re:yes (4, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 9 years ago | (#13048324)

Or should we prepare for the fact that such rivalries are inevitable, even in space?

Long Answer:
Look, if we keep fighting for first posts (see above) in a website, where we gain nothing but make such morons of ourselves, what moral authority do we have to stop the nations from fighting for the LaGrange points? "-1, greedy"?

Short Answer:
Yes, such rivalries are inevitable.

Re:yes (0)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 9 years ago | (#13048423)

I didn't get fp - wasn't really trying. Just didn't elaborate because tt seems so freaking obvious to me.

Some guy in Holland got killed for making a movie and the killer told the judge he would do it again given the chance and then was cruel to the victim's mother. Yeah-- but if he was in zero g it would all be love and happiness.

Another good response would have been simply - Wherever you go, there you are.

Humans in space are still humans just like the one on this blue ball.

Re:yes (1)

cashman73 (855518) | about 9 years ago | (#13048347)

We're going to see individual nationalistic rivalries on Earth and in our own solar system, once we begin exploring it, until the point where we finally have concrete proof of another intelligent civilization "out there". Once that happens, we'll begin to see ourselves not just as "Americans" or "Russians" or "British" or "Iraqis" or [insert nationality here] ad nauseum,...



Once we see that there are other civilizations on other planets, we'll begin to see ourselves as citizens of the planet Earth, Sol System. Sure, we'll probably always see "sub-nationalities" below the planet level, but we'll eventually start to work together sharing the resources of our own planet (and solar system, since there apparently is no one else on the other 8 planets either).

Re:yes (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 9 years ago | (#13048380)

Long held theory-- obviously can't be proved or disproved since nothing like it has ever happened. But I doubt it will work out that way. Humans will continue to compete with one another and will form 'teams' based on differences that help delineate who is who.

Only FIVE such points? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048358)

Why not an infinite number of LaGrange points at an equal distance from the center of the earth along the equator?

Re:yes (1, Insightful)

Biogenesis (670772) | about 9 years ago | (#13048366)

I predict that at first it will be a bit of a "first come first served" deal. Then later the US is sure to take, by force, all points not held by democratic countries.

Re:yes (1)

juicyfruit (843286) | about 9 years ago | (#13048447)

It seems completely analogous to the launch of the internet. Initially, some people talked as though it was going to be this egalitarian Nirvana where the people would have a voice and no one would be "in control," etc. etc.

To some extent this has come to pass, but more and more governments and jurisdictions and the physical location of servers have come into play, what with the desire to control spam, prevent auctioning Nazi memorabilia, mediate trademark infringement and cybersquatting, protect intellectual property, and so forth.

It's the Wild West on the internet no more. I expect the space race to follow the same pattern: first the land grab (so to speak), then the desire to impose stability through social and legal mechanisms.

DUPE (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048229)

can somebody say dupe?

Of course he's right... (1)

ThogScully (589935) | about 9 years ago | (#13048231)

Of course he's right... that's a silly question. We shouldn't even have those boundaries and rivalries in our atmosphere. Not that I'm naive enough to expect all boundaries to fall, but realistically, they are all arbitrary in the grand scheme of things.
-N

Re:Of course he's right... (2)

Eightyford (893696) | about 9 years ago | (#13048453)

Imagine there's no countries It isn't hard to do Nothing to kill or die for And no religion too...

Seize for military or commercical. (2, Interesting)

team99parody (880782) | about 9 years ago | (#13048232)

Personally I think it'd be saddest if those points got claimed to be some military base of any type; as opposed to the ideal launching point for space tourism.

I'd do more for my kids's personal futures if Virgin Galactic (and I don't even know what country they're in) owned one of them than if any particular company's military base were put there.

Chokepoints?? (0)

kyle90 (827345) | about 9 years ago | (#13048237)

Haha, the great thing about space is that there aren't any choke points. Unless they build a space elevator (which would pretty much ensure lasting dominance in space).

Re:Chokepoints?? (2, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 9 years ago | (#13048345)

Haha, the great thing about space is that there aren't any choke points.

Try studying orbital mechanics sometime, then repeat that for us.

You can't just fly around any direction you like in space. Your path is determined by the bodies of which you're orbiting. Chose one orbit and you'll get there faster, again at the cost of fuel. Chose another orbit and you'll get there slower but with more fuel. Chose the wrong orbit, and you won't get there at all.

When the predictions of "space can't be militarized" were made, powerful computers did not yet exist. No one considered that every possible orbit could be computed in real time with a gizmo that can fit in your pocket.

Zion (0)

frankmu (68782) | about 9 years ago | (#13048239)

Zion will eventually take over the la grange points, that is, until a snotty kid from earth figures out how to pilot a huge robot.

Re:Zion (1)

wpiman (739077) | about 9 years ago | (#13048283)

Oh boy- this is the post which will bring Godwin's law to bear in this thread.

Re:Zion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048342)

Ya know what!? Hitler used Godwin's Law to opress the Jews!

Not Enough Oil (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048242)

It's saddening to me, but I am worried about space programs in the face of rising fuel costs. I don't see the price of oil ever going below $50 again, and honestly the I don't believe the current upward trending is going to stop anytime soon (have you noticed how any little thing now causes oil to spike up?).

Where will the space programs be in the face of $100 oil? Probably on the ground.

Re:Not Enough Oil (1)

heauxmeaux (869966) | about 9 years ago | (#13048271)

Is that why rocket-vessels belch forth Oily black smoke and yellow fire as they roar to the heavens?
Alas it seems the A-rab is the only one destined to be closer to God, or Al'ah as our desert-dwelling friends say.

Re:Not Enough Oil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048279)

Yeah, that Shuttle sure takes a lot of gas to get it off the pad.

Idiot.

Re:Not Enough Oil (5, Funny)

jonthegm (525546) | about 9 years ago | (#13048336)

Obviously, you're not thinking either. Where are we going to get enough hydrogen if all the consumers are using it up? It's not like there's huge reservoirs of H just lying around and falling from the sky.

Re:Not Enough Oil (-1, Troll)

Macadamizer (194404) | about 9 years ago | (#13048350)

Ever hear of water?

Re:Not Enough Oil (1)

jonthegm (525546) | about 9 years ago | (#13048408)

Obviously not.

Re:Not Enough Oil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048402)

I was going to nominate the grandparent post for "Stupidest Post of All Time", but yours beat it. Congratulations.

Re:Not Enough Oil (1)

houseofzeus (836938) | about 9 years ago | (#13048446)

Have you considered flipping your sarcasm detector to on?

Seize it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048247)

In Soviet LaGrange Points, First Prosts you!

Interesting... error though (1, Informative)

shashir (828790) | about 9 years ago | (#13048253)

You will hate me for this comment but just so you know there is no such thing as a centrifugal force. There is centripetal force, but no centrifugal.

Re:Interesting... error though (1)

MindStalker (22827) | about 9 years ago | (#13048359)

But gravity in this case in the centripetal force, I guess we could say gravity balances inercia, but that is just plain confusing. So what exactly is gravity balancing against?

Re:Interesting... error though (1)

shashir (828790) | about 9 years ago | (#13048390)

Good question. Gravity balances a force at the the focus of the centripetal or gravitational forces. This force is essentially at the center... at the "gravitrons."

Re:Interesting... error though (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048367)

You will hate me for this comment but just so you know there is no such thing as a centrifugal force. There is centripetal force, but no centrifugal.

Lies. It is a d'Alembert force, like gravity. And don't try to tell me gravity doesn't exist either!

Re:Interesting... error though (1)

tgibbs (83782) | about 9 years ago | (#13048395)

You will hate me for this comment but just so you know there is no such thing as a centrifugal force. There is centripetal force, but no centrifugal.

I disagree. If one exerts a centripetal force on an object to constrain it into circular motion, then the object exerts a centrifugal force in reaction. Newton's 3rd law. Whether you choose to talk about the centrifugal or centripetal force is purely a matter of frame of reference. If you are in a rotating frame of reference, there is most definitely a centrifugal force.

Re:Interesting... error though (1)

double-oh three (688874) | about 9 years ago | (#13048445)

That's not a centifugal force though. There is no centrifugal force. That's just the perfectly normal force being exerted by the string or the constraning body. We don't call the force that keeps us on the ground centrifugal, do we?

Centrifugal force was just a bit of confusion on the parts of scientists at the time. There is only centripital force and the force from the constraing body acting on the object in UCM, there is no centrifugal force.

To reiterate, no centrifugal force exists. You're using the wrong name for the force.

Re:Interesting... error though (2, Funny)

skubeedooo (826094) | about 9 years ago | (#13048422)

I guess you will hate me for this...but so you know there is no such thing as a force.

Be prepared (3, Insightful)

nenya (557317) | about 9 years ago | (#13048254)

It's gonna be finders keepers with the LaGrange points. Those who wish to get them should get while the getting is good. I'd much rather the US take control of them than China, who seems to be the only other power with something like the capability.
Do I entirely trust the US government to be altruistic? No, not really. But I'd rather them be in control than the Chinese, Indians, or Russians. If you had to pick - and you probably do - which would you go for? That's really the question here.

Re:Be prepared (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048284)

It's actually more like who-has-more-bombs-and-economic-resources keepers.

Re:Be prepared (3, Funny)

Seumas (6865) | about 9 years ago | (#13048329)

All your lagrange points are belong to U.S.

Re:Be prepared (2, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 9 years ago | (#13048372)

What's the difference? The US will just outsource control of the LaGrange points to the Chinese, Indians, or Russians anyway!

Re:Be prepared (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048396)

But I'd rather them be in control than the Chinese, Indians, or Russians. If you had to pick - and you probably do - which would you go for?

As a European, I'm not entirely sure...

But USA would work as well Russia at least.

We aren't exactly living in a cold war these days, and it's common with Russian cooperations in space these days, together with Americans and Europeans. Don't know what the big deal is about to be honest.

Re:Be prepared (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048407)

The LaGrange points are a limited commodity and as such will be managed in as other limited space commodities are. e.g. geo-sync orbit.
No one country will posess them.

France (1, Insightful)

jaguar717 (897583) | about 9 years ago | (#13048261)

Look at it this way, it can start out as an irrelevant US military base and then flourish commercially, or France can get there first, claim it in the name of the EU, and establish a massive bureaucracy with a 60% tax on everything passing through. I'd rather have a quasi-Free Market gov't grab it first.

Re:France (4, Informative)

terrymr (316118) | about 9 years ago | (#13048311)

I don't think the french have a monopoly on bureaucracy. Take a look at the paperwork requirements to make a commercial space flight from the US and then consider that you as a US citizen are prohibited from launching from another country to dodge said paperwork requirement.

Re:France (2, Funny)

Mars2020 (864644) | about 9 years ago | (#13048393)

Damn those French!! And "Lagrange points"??? I say we call them "Freedom Points". PS: Btw, dude's name was Lagrange not LaGrange.

Re:France (1)

terrymr (316118) | about 9 years ago | (#13048419)

And French toast was invented by a Mr French (like the mustard) rather than THE French (the people)

Dream on... (4, Insightful)

14erCleaner (745600) | about 9 years ago | (#13048267)

You don't need a stable solar orbit when you can't even get to low-earth orbit reliably. Let's see how tomorrow's shuttle launch goes, then go back to dreaming about the military domination of the solar system later. Or maybe we can just the the &%$#* international space station finished, ferchrissake...

Slashdot... (3, Funny)

Null_Packet (15946) | about 9 years ago | (#13048272)

...Linking to horrible html since 1996.

3/5 aint bad (1)

softcoder (252233) | about 9 years ago | (#13048274)

Lets agree that the military can have 2 of these, and the other 3 can be demilitarized. Of course the two we give the military will be the two THAT ARE UNSTABLE so any equipment place there will tend to drift away......

Re:3/5 aint bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048382)

I believe all LG points are unstable.

Maybe (3, Funny)

ch-chuck (9622) | about 9 years ago | (#13048278)

What if we just chip in and buy the Space Command Generals a few star registry names - maybe that will keep them happy.

Competition... humanity's middle name. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048280)

*And* seizing the chokepoints will require cheap reliable spacelift, which will inevitably make civilian space travel possible. Or has everybody forgotten that the First World War also changed the airplane from a toy to a vital military resource, and *commercial* aviation followed from that.

yes (5, Funny)

igotmybfg (525391) | about 9 years ago | (#13048281)

Clearly. I would rather the US control those points than someone frankly and overtly evil.

Re:yes (1)

y2imm (700704) | about 9 years ago | (#13048335)

Obscure evil is better than overt?

Re:yes (1, Troll)

SparafucileMan (544171) | about 9 years ago | (#13048338)

because someone covertly and dishonestly evil is that much better? grow up.

Dimensions (3, Insightful)

paiute (550198) | about 9 years ago | (#13048288)

Discussions assume that the LP is a tiny patch of ground that can be taken and defended. Really, how large a volume of space does the usable portion of the LP occupy?

Re:Dimensions (1)

paskal (150433) | about 9 years ago | (#13048378)

From a small part of the article, apparently you could have more than one base at some of them:
The orbit around L5 has an average radius of about 90,000 miles, which leaves room for a very large number of space settlements even at this one location.

Re:Dimensions (1)

terrymr (316118) | about 9 years ago | (#13048391)

I was wondering the same thing, it's a bit like saying we need to occupy the geostationary orbit in order to maintain our advantage in communications.

Re:Dimensions (3, Informative)

Benm78 (646948) | about 9 years ago | (#13048462)

Strictly speaking, a LP does not occupy any space at all, that's why its called a 'point' in the first place.

If you are slightly off in any direction, you'd 'fall' further in that direction, it is more like the top of a mountain than like the bottom of a valley.

In practice, any craft or station placed on such a point would need thrusters to stay in place, unpowered it would drift (due to solar wind, particle impact, air leaks and what not) and start 'falling'.

I guess the region where you can reasonably compensate against falling would be quite large, depening on thruster output, weight and fuel reserves. Even if it were a sphere with a radius of 10 km, this would be a huge volume of space, and could hold many ISS-sized stations and or comsats.

crazy fancy (1)

SparafucileMan (544171) | about 9 years ago | (#13048289)

"But what has people excited is not what orbit might be used, but rather what could be done there. Space industries in high Earth orbits could manufacture solar power satellites (SPS) from lunar or asteroidal resources. Each SPS could deliver twice as much low cost, environmentally safe energy to Earth, via microwaves, as the Grand Coulee Dam, and forty five of them could meet the total present electrical power needs of the U.S."



Nevermind to use them for complete control of the earth by a world-wide empire.

But hey, what would nerds know about that? Just let the politicians keep cramming this nonsense about the glories of space, and keep those nerds working hard to build those empire-building lasers and missiles and....

Next Up: Bush claims Iraq could be used to develop solar cells that would save the environment! Sweet! I always needed a justification for it, too.

Re:crazy fancy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048377)

microwave power sattelite.... oops we accidently aime it at afganastan again... sorry, everyone there is medium-rare now....

oops... my bad.... sorry!

yeah, that would suck.

Peaceful use of Space just a temporary phase... (5, Insightful)

dtolman (688781) | about 9 years ago | (#13048291)

Even if the conflicts in space are just the diplomatic/political kind (ie - we built a base here first - this section of Mars/Moon/Space is ours), and not the military kind - they are inevitable. The only reason they haven't happened is because there is no reason to claim territory in space - yet. But once it starts, every nation that can will start planting flags... its not a matter of if - its when.

Re:Peaceful use of Space just a temporary phase... (1)

epaton (884617) | about 9 years ago | (#13048362)

doubtfull the cost of waging real wars is constantly going up requiring more and more expensive killing devices while the value of resources will be going down thanks to increased availability. also these days everything is so inter connected it not in anyones interest to rock the boat

this guy is absolutely right (2, Insightful)

user317 (656027) | about 9 years ago | (#13048298)

The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots. And as you go forth today remember always your duty is clear: To build and maintain those robots.

Thank you.

U.S. Space Command? (1)

Pollardito (781263) | about 9 years ago | (#13048315)

wasn't that a bad 80's cartoon? i remember eating my Cheeri-o's and watching them save the galaxy, who knew they'd grow up with the rest of us?

Radiation... (1)

Kr3m3Puff (413047) | about 9 years ago | (#13048323)

I thought we would probablly never be able to live in LeGrange points because of the radiation. Aren't they in the Van Allen [google.com] belt? My understanding Van Allen radation is almost impossible to sheild against.

Re:Radiation... (1)

jjohnson (62583) | about 9 years ago | (#13048452)

The Van Allen Belts extend to about 65,000 km from the surface of Earth; the Lagrangian Points [wikipedia.org] are located at 120 degree intervals around Earth's solar orbit, plus two that are in a straight line with the Earth and the Sun. The nearest is the one on the far side of Earth from the Sun, ~300,000 km away, well outside the Van Allen Belts.

Attention, US Americans: (3, Insightful)

FFFish (7567) | about 9 years ago | (#13048325)

It's stupid shit like this that makes other nations despise you.

I think most American citizens are fine people. It's time for you citizens to wrest control back from the evil scum who run your country.

If you do not, the inevitable outcome will be further degradation of your personal safety. You can not afford to let this happen.

Re:Attention, US Americans: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048426)

If you do not, the inevitable outcome will be further degradation of your personal safety. You can not afford to let this happen.

Fucking try us dumbass. Bring it the fuck on if you've got the balls. We'll nuke you back to the stone age and not even blink you cocksucker.

Re:Attention, US Americans: (1, Flamebait)

suitepotato (863945) | about 9 years ago | (#13048458)

It's stupid shit like this that makes other nations despise you.

Yeah, I can see that. That explains why so many people in those other nations are risking death to move here and become citizens. Confirms the theory that humans are all masochists.

I think most American citizens are fine people. It's time for you citizens to wrest control back from the evil scum who run your country.

Despite some propaganda to the contrary, insurance salesmen and lawyers do not run this country. We have benign scum running our country, thank you very much.

If you do not, the inevitable outcome will be further degradation of your personal safety. You can not afford to let this happen.

That sounded like the stereotypical veiled threat of a terrorist. Please stand by where you are and await personnel from the Department of Homeland Security and their escort by the 82nd Airborne to come and speak with you.

Okay, here's your choice Earth. The USA or North Korea getting the high ground? Well, when you put it that way...

For those of you positing the United Nations, consider they have a track record of efficiency at their chartered mission about like the USPS for perfect on-time unmangled catalog deliveries. The cost of a ticket to an orbital colony would have a 6000% surcharge on it to redistribute money to third world nations busy butchering their populations in ethnic and religious warfare but getting away with it because they somehow got weaseled onto one council or another and the secretary general happened to like their politics over the western world and...

I don't think so.

No. (1)

Phyvo (876321) | about 9 years ago | (#13048331)

This is a worse idea then sticking weapons in space (they're pretty easy to counter, even anti-missile systems, and are very expensive). Not only will it cost simply too much money, but it won't help foreign relations to say, "We're taking these points in space and they're not yours". And that's not even taking into consideration that we can't navigate freely in space yet anyways. If other countrie's sent satellites/probes to these points, what are they going to do there anyways? By the time the probes might do something actually useful, anyone who objects to their use will be able to destroy whatever early 21st century tech that is there and claim it for themselves. It's like claiming the bottom of the sea...

Not "if", but "who". (1)

Eskimore_ (842733) | about 9 years ago | (#13048332)

There's no questioning if this is going to happen. It's simply a question of who will win.

Friendliness through expensiveness (1)

moz25 (262020) | about 9 years ago | (#13048344)

Keeping such bases and supplying them with reserves is quite an expensive undertaking. Look at how difficult it is to get another shuttle up. Some level of international cooperation is necessary... not just for the expertise, but also for covering expenses.

Taking an overtly aggressive stance on this issue is counterproductive for exactly what is being advocated. Regimes with fewer requirements for safety procedures might be motivated to actually try to put a base up there themselves... while the U.S. faces both safety and budget pressure.

The best bet, in my view, is to encourage international peaceful cooperation and thus better cover both expenses and take a leadership position through valuable contributions and not imperialism. It sends wrong signals to both friends and foes to actively seek such dominance.

I know this is slightly off topic... (1)

MrFlannel (762587) | about 9 years ago | (#13048349)

but, did anyone else open up that first link and see Bill Gates in a space suit?

For the unaware (1, Informative)

JCY2K (852841) | about 9 years ago | (#13048353)

LaGrange points are the points in relation to two bodies, in this case the Earth and Sun, such that a body of neglegible mass will maintain its distance from the first two bodies. That is, relative to the Earth and Sun these stations wouldn't move. These points are here [wikipedia.org] .

Hear me now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048369)

I am an elite member of the bush administration behind this conquest. All of you suckers who oppose will be assimilated.

All your LaGrange points are belong to us, bitch.

Weaseljumper predicted this (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048375)

I could tell I was at L5 even before I fully awoke. At L5 your thoughts escape as they are born, not like every other mundane place in the old Earth-Moon neighborhood where your thinking rattles around inside your skull for hours before it can achieve escape velocity. At L5 you don't need any artificial dampers on the synapse. It's like standing in the slipstream of an open hovercar and trying to shout as your words are ripped away. You cannot finish a coherent line of thought. Ideas are just snatched away aborning. There was never any chance for setting up permanent stations at L5 as was hoped for ninety years or so, no more than my chances of winning the Nobel-Hitachi Peace Prize.
Why they wanted me to get, therefore, to L5 at all was beyond me. It was a lousy frigging place for a meeting or a powwow or a war council. Bad for negotiating, eating, listening, crapping, remembering to wipe. Everything useful and productive which humankind has done or can aspire to do wasn't worth a rat fart at L5. It was only good for floating around and drooling.
But I managed to think those thoughts as I was awakening at L5, only because I am the undisputed heavyweight champion when it comes to maintaining coherency during psychic meltdown. In that at least, I had an advantage.
So I awoke.
I stretched out and yawned, then reached up to dim the lights with one hand, rubbing my eyes with the other. I looked around. Kuim was not in sight. Probably in the hydrocloset driving the plasteel bus. The compartment was empty - I remembered - we were the only passengers. That must have cost some coin, filthy lucre I knew the speedfreak beancounters at the Department would never allow. Must be from the off-budget funds, or commandeered. I rang for the hostess. David Trump III had a gourmet's obsession with fresh fruits, as I recalled. There should be fresh grapefruit aboard. That and three fingers of black rum, the color of molasses and almost as thick, that would drive the howling demons of Morpheus finally from my medulla.
No hostess. I rang again, then I unleashed myself and kicked up to the galley. The bitch was probably on the bridge oiling the captain's joystick. I opened doors until I found the bar, and I was hunting among the canned goods when I noticed the door to the bridge. Was open, ever so slightly. With my well-honed discretion, I yanked it open, expecting to find the crew orbiting each other in a compromising formation. Nobody. I got a creepy feeling, the same one I get when my turbocycle goes bumptybump over some furry pedestrian on the Coast Road. I flung myself into the captain's seat and flipped open his mike.
"Kuim!" I barked. The sound whizzed around and came back to me unabsorbed. I clicked through all the cams on board. There was no one in any compartment.
Odd but strangely in keeping with the past, from the summons to active (put that in quotes, on second thought) weaseling to the k-man, to the Arkady model renegade. None of it made any sense yet. Perhaps it never would. In situations like this, they used to teach in Camp, sort out the clues. Rank them according to reliability, probability, past history, intelligence gathered and intelligence bought, borrowed or wrung out with a meat hook. Make a battle plan and three backups. Allow for all eventualities. Bullshit, all that. In the real arena of jumping weasels, you quickly learned that confusion
was the enemy, and the way to deal with the enemy was with firepower, to soften up the unknown with a few thousand rounds of osmium fulminate slugs followed by carbon steel hail bomblets. Unfortunately, all I had brought with me was the old Colt 9mm and two spare clips. Hardly enough to hold off a space assault. On the other hand, the technowarriors would be aghast at the havoc which a thirty-credit lead slug from a sixty-year-old pistol can wreak on its way through your average hull in space. If you remembered to file a nice little x on the nose, which I had.
I was pleading with my scabrous left brain to recall whether the shuttles were equipped with armament or not and getting a nonresponse from that traitorous tissue. See if I treat you to anymore of that darkside Crank I risked you and your brother lobe to score from those mutant gypsies....
I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I whipped my Colt out so hard that it flew out of my hand and whacked me in the forehead. Quiver in fear, you devil! I grabbed it as it rebounded off the bulkhead and sent a round through the figure in the doorway. It was Marajan, my one time partner in decadent behavior. Where had she come from? I had killed her! Oh, well, served her right. She still owed me for those three sticks of Lunar Bliss and all of my pension credits. But she wasn't falling, no blood was gushing. I noticed a line of static at her knees. Shit. It- she- was a holoform. A freaking recording.
"You filthy bitch," I said anyway, even though she was only a series of doped imperfections in some crystal. The Marajan apparition took a step forward and kicked me in the nuts.
I contracted into the fetal ball and floated back into the window, barfing up the breakfast I had yet to eat. She was an interactive holoform! Damn! I hated it when that happens. An interactive holoform could be some fun though. Perhaps if I played on her programmed innate sympathies for me, if she had been constructed in the right way, we could strap ourselves into one of the bedrestraints and.... Then my right brain rang up the piercing klaxon of warning. I covered my ears. You idiot, I told myself (I think it was me). Don't you remember what happened when T&AT tried to install holowhores on the Lunar Penitentiary? The same sonic modulation which focused and gave the holoform apparent substance was too inherently metastable to use at anything other than ambient temperature. The minute the holowhores had been been warmed, they went all the way up to air ionization, the randy inmate embracing a pillar of 2800 degree C plasma, which usually opened a seam from his crown to his inseam and let the contents therein spill out into the inferno or onto the floor, depending on how long the anomaly lasted. There were several such dissatisfied customers before the whole thing was abandoned and the Circle took up the idea creatively and tried to develop it into a very potent antipersonnel weapon. Oh shit, good work, brain, I told my brain. So she was here to kill me. Had I been that bad?
"So this is it, huh?" I wheezed. I could feel one testicle floating around in my throat, looking for the way home. "This whole charade just for that time with the donkey?"
"Shut up Birdboy," she/it said. She/it looked around like expecting to be snuck up on. "Don't ask me why I'm risking my neck to do this, but you have been set up. Get into the rescue bubble and get out now!"
"Who is it?" I said, but she had already condensed into a pinpoint of light and flickered out.
It took me about two shakes of a weasel's butt hair for me to yank down the emergency panel and dive into the bubble. Marajan had lied to me before, about half the time, as I recall, but those were suckshit odds out here. I punched the button and the bubble blasted out into the blackness.

Poor Jingoists (0, Troll)

EZR-2000 (266142) | about 9 years ago | (#13048386)

It was bad enough that they had to learn enough geography to know where Iraq is; now they have to learn enough physics to know about LaGrange points? It's tough being an über-patriot.

maybe it's best (1)

dasmonsieur (897030) | about 9 years ago | (#13048392)

if the nations conquer space rather than the corporations.

We're all exited about SpaceShip One but don't forget those folks will bring back brain-eating facehuggers to us in a couple o' years...

I for one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048403)

I for one welcome our American DNS and space hub controlling overlords.

Sputnik, 2005 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048416)

Obviously some asshole in Space Command would like to initiate a new space race in the manner of the kind Sputnik began.

Of course they have a vested interest in such a race. The question is, do the people who pay their bills do too?

Do whatever you want. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048427)

Just don't let Amazon patent them.

Actually - already satellites there... (3, Interesting)

dtolman (688781) | about 9 years ago | (#13048435)

SOHO, a (joint US/EU project) is in a halo orbit around L1 (http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/mission/page1.html [nasa.gov] ) and WMAP, a US satellite, is in a halo orbit around L2 - according to their official explanation (http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/m_mm/ob_techorbit1.html [nasa.gov] )

The WMAP page also explains that the L1 and L2 points aren't as stable as the article implies...

waste of money... (1, Offtopic)

ibn_khaldun (814417) | about 9 years ago | (#13048438)

I am just so happy that we are providing money so that these very highly-paid clowns can sit on their butts writing bad science fiction rather than, say
  • armoring vehicles in Iraq
  • providing for the future medical care of the soldiers currently being maimed in Iraq
  • providing real security against terrorist attacks (e.g. inspecting container ships)
  • providing all of the reconstruction aid we'd originally said we'd provide in Afghanistan and Iraq and that the military (the real ones, not the civilians like Cheney, Bush and Wolfowitz who pretend to be) said was absolutely essential for stabilization
So, we can't even secure the London Underground and these people are worried about the Chinese at the L5 points. Give me a break...

Awwww (1)

alexwcovington (855979) | about 9 years ago | (#13048449)

Look at the Air Force officers fantasize about conquering the universe. How naively ambitious of them... Well, let's let them get back to playing their war games.

I think we should put some comets and asteroids (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13048450)

...at L4 and L5 for oxygen, water, propellent, and building material. You could build a pretty impressive colony with them, and it wouldn't be as dangerous as a normal earth orbit.

Perhaps overcynical (1)

rscrawford (311046) | about 9 years ago | (#13048460)

I'm in favor of leaving the LaGrange points out of the control of any government body, because I would hate to see either the militarization or commercialization of space. Unfortunately, human beings are still primitive territorial animals, so such scrabbling is inevitable. So, if any of the nations must dominate the LaGrange points, I guess I'd prefer to see the US there. Sure, we'll both militarize AND overcommercialize them, probably worse than anyone else, but at least we're pretty generous in letting facilities be used for research purposes as well.

Mankind isn't ready... (1)

skelly33 (891182) | about 9 years ago | (#13048464)

to responsibly deal with itself, much less regulate the exploitation of "space." It's sickening to think of our pathetic political strggles escaping the confines of our planet. By and large, up to now, space has been the domain of unity, cooperation in the face of adversity. But I suppose the U.S. broke into space politics the minute we decided to put a man on the moon, not in the name of science, but in the name of "neener neener neener" to one-up Russia's Sputnik. As a registered American voter, I promise to watch out for those with a political agenda in space. All things considered, humans may never be ready for peaceful coexistence without genetic alteration. That, my friends, is a crying shame.

Rumor spreadin' round... (2, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | about 9 years ago | (#13048466)

Rumor spreadin' round, Colorado town,
'Bout that chokepoint at Lagrange,
(Burt knows what I'm talkin' about)

Just let me know - if you wanna go,
To that station on the range
(Branson gotta hotel fulla nice girls there)

A-hmm, how, how, ho--*CLANG*owww!

"Gawddamn, Billy, ah know our guitars look fuzzier in zero-G, an' ah know we can grow us beards longer without trippin' on 'em alla time like back on Earth, but howinnahell's we s'posed to play guitar like this?"

"Hey Dusty, get the beard outa yer guitar while I sing a verse of Home on LaGrange [wikipedia.org] !"

Home, home on Lagrange,
Where the space debris always collects,
We possess, so it seems, two of Man's greatest dreams:
Solar power and zero-gee sex.

(screeching of guitars and shifting of gears as Billy breaks into the next track and Frank figures out how to use drums in zero-G...)

Clean slate, O2
Past low-earth orbit's where I'm goin' to,
Space suit, peroxide,
Got Allen's funding and my reason why,
They're buyin' tickets just as fast as they can,
'Cause every geek's crazy 'bout an L-5 man...

Top coat, top hat,
An overfunded NASA's budget fat.
Black tiles, white knight,
Lookin' sharp, ready for flight,
They're buyin' tickets just as fast as they can,
'Cause every geek's crazy 'bout an L-5 man...

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