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summer blizzard

The Human Race!

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I have opened this thread to generate some debate in reagrds to something i have been thinking about in recent days. Essentially, i have been wondering if the human race is really living up to its potential in regards to space exploration. I am thinking this because in my opinion since the 1970's, i believe that in regards to space expolration the human race has taken a step back.

Look at the evidence, for all our technological breakthroughs, the ion drive which the Americans only recently started using was actually of Russian design in the 1970's, yet in the 30 years after we were using slower and less powerful engines to launch ourselves/sattelites into space. Also, since the 1970's, we have not even being to the moon again, after opening the gfate to the solar system, why did we again close it? And also, why are we not using the moon as a resource? We constantly bicker over minerals and pay the price because of dwindling resources, yet we have all the metal we could possibly want for millenia right above us, even if we cannot use it as a fuel, we could still use it for building materials, i know that cost is an issue but building a freighter and drilling on the moon cannot be so expensive as not to pay for itself eventually, while living in biodomes ect. may not be possible yet we certainly have the technology to get at the minerals.

My second point is in regards to space travel in general, we have the capability to travel 1/10th the speed of light, so fair enougth it would be pointless in traveling to another solar system because even Alpha Century would take around 40 years each way, but i don't see why we are not roaming the inner solar systeam at the very least, the cool side of Mercury is replete with mineral wealth, Venus while much too hot and pressurised to use for mineral wealth certasinly is interesting from a scientific point of veiw and Mars also has plenty of mineral wealth and potentially could be teraformed into a habitable planet.

I guess what annoys me slightly is that we have so much avaiable resources at our fingertips and yet we go to war over oil ect.. and also from a scientific point of veiw while our understanding has certainly increased, we are not going out there exploring even our own solar system, in an age of technological development why is the human race stagnant when it comes to possibly the most important thing. Is money the only thing holding us back, frankly i see no reason why we can't have fleets of freighters full of whatever the solar system has to offer?

Thanks for any replies/debate generated.

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I think what we're seeing is the actual decline of our present civilization which means space travel is unlikely to take of for a long time as the West Declines.

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I imagine a fair amount of it is due to funding. The US government which is probably the largest funder of space exploration has other things to spend its budget on (like wars) and the ESA has focused on unmanned exploration which is far cheaper and logistcally much simpler even if it cannot gather as much data. As for heading out into space for resources the sheer cost of getting to places like the moon probably makes creating a profit impossible as we would not be able to bring back a suitable quanitity of resources to make it worthwhile. Also, it's much easier to get most of this on Earth. The same could be said for alternative fuels; we know the oil and other fossil fuels are running out but we are incredibly slow to turn to other forms of energy like hyrdogen power and nuclear energy (which once perfected would be essentially limitless sources of energy) simply because it's easier to use oil and gas. The skeptic in me says that we will only make a mad dash for alternative energy once some sort of massive crisis forces us away from "the easy option".

The collapse of the Soviet Union has probably slowed things down as well as there is no real rush to reach new goals of space exploration before the other side does. Once the moon was reached the Soviets didn't bother going themselves as the primary goal of reaching the moon was simply to get there first. There is no real competition that would force the main players in space exploration to get back out there, there have been a lot of bold proposals on the unmanned exploration front recently but a lot of have them got brushed under the carpet as governments are unwilling to commit resources to fund them, but if it was 30 years ago, it would be a question of not bothering or letting the Soviets achieve it first (which would have been unacceptable from a politcal perspective). Now there is no risk of that happening. Perhaps with the rise of China and India as global powers a new space race will begin between them, which could produce new technologies and possibilites as a result.

We are experiencing a space renaissance of sorts at the moment, with renewed plans for reaching the moon and a replacement for the aging space shuttles. A lot of this has been put on hold however in the wake of the recession so i doubt many new plans will surface for the next few years.

In conclusion, i dont think we will really race out into the solar system until something forces us to.

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Could you elaborate the PIT, i do not think that western civilisation is declining, just rising less than the east.

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I imagine a fair amount of it is due to funding. The US government which is probably the largest funder of space exploration has other things to spend its budget on (like wars) and the ESA has focused on unmanned exploration which is far cheaper and logistcally much simpler even if it cannot gather as much data. As for heading out into space for resources the sheer cost of getting to places like the moon probably makes creating a profit impossible as we would not be able to bring back a suitable quanitity of resources to make it worthwhile. Also, it's much easier to get most of this on Earth. The same could be said for alternative fuels; we know the oil and other fossil fuels are running out but we are incredibly slow to turn to other forms of energy like hyrdogen power and nuclear energy (which once perfected would be essentially limitless sources of energy) simply because it's easier to use oil and gas. The skeptic in me says that we will only make a mad dash for alternative energy once some sort of massive crisis forces us away from "the easy option".

The collapse of the Soviet Union has probably slowed things down as well as there is no real rush to reach new goals of space exploration before the other side does. Once the moon was reached the Soviets didn't bother going themselves as the primary goal of reaching the moon was simply to get there first. There is no real competition that would force the main players in space exploration to get back out there, there have been a lot of bold proposals on the unmanned exploration front recently but a lot of have them got brushed under the carpet as governments are unwilling to commit resources to fund them, but if it was 30 years ago, it would be a question of not bothering or letting the Soviets achieve it first (which would have been unacceptable from a politcal perspective). Now there is no risk of that happening. Perhaps with the rise of China and India as global powers a new space race will begin between them, which could produce new technologies and possibilites as a result.

We are experiencing a space renaissance of sorts at the moment, with renewed plans for reaching the moon and a replacement for the aging space shuttles. A lot of this has been put on hold however in the wake of the recession so i doubt many new plans will surface for the next few years.

In conclusion, i dont think we will really race out into the solar system until something forces us to.

I think that you raise some very good points, though i also think that it is a sad reflection of the political world that we need competition and spite in order to further the biggest step forward of the human race and that the govenment would rathewr waste money on many pointless projects. Your point about alternative fuels is very apt.

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Exploration is part of what makes us human. We should have been to Mars 30 years ago. Understandable I suppose given all of the problems of the world, but a little part of us dies if we miss these opportunities.

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Exploration is part of what makes us human. We should have been to Mars 30 years ago. Understandable I suppose given all of the problems of the world, but a little part of us dies if we miss these opportunities.

Agreed. I am all for capitalism and the love of money, but there are so many riches out there to find.

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i think there might be alot of things been hidden from the general public.who knows what the worlds govenments are doing regarding space

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Very interesting thread and some really good points coming in.

I think that we could send scientists to mars, they have got small craft up their un-manned but its a bigger problem getting people up there to mars, not due to technology or science but funding the journey, of course acted out here on earth (mars journey) all would be fine, but the un-known risks are very high, and the return would be a huge risk to the space explorers.

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Very interesting thread and some really good points coming in.

I think that we could send scientists to mars, they have got small craft up their un-manned but its a bigger problem getting people up there to mars, not due to technology or science but funding the journey, of course acted out here on earth (mars journey) all would be fine, but the un-known risks are very high, and the return would be a huge risk to the space explorers.

I don't think that it would cost much more than sending a probe to Mars, because really all you need extra is a ship thats a bit bigger and food and water, i think thats its purely too risky for the politicians to risk saying they want to spend £100 billion to go to Mars. I know that Bush said he would but he was on his way out.

What was the reaction from the American public?

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There's a lot more risks to consider when sending a human crew. There's the problem of a larger spacecraft which can sustain a crew for at least a year (the time it would take to get there and back), and cosmic radiation is another major problem if we send an Earth launched ship, as building a ship with sufficient protection from radiation would probably make it far too heavy to be launched from the ground on earth (not including all the food supplies and scientific equipment a mars mission would need). A ship constructed and launced from space wouldn't have these problems but we have no such facilities to do so. Radiation wasn't too much of a problem for the moon missions because it was a short mission, but with crews out there for a year or potentially two, the risk of damage from gamma rays becomes a much more signficant problem.

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Another "man mission to mars" problem is the effect of wear and tear on muscles due to gravity. It would take well over the 80 day limit that they are allowed to stay in space for....thus, when they return, they'd be walking jello.

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Another "man mission to mars" problem is the effect of wear and tear on muscles due to gravity. It would take well over the 80 day limit that they are allowed to stay in space for....thus, when they return, they'd be walking jello.

Could the radiation problems not be sorted by insulating the hull of the ship??

As for the effects of gravity, could we not create artificial gravity, i read somewhere that this could be done by using condensates because they are extemely magnetic.

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Could the radiation problems not be sorted by insulating the hull of the ship??

As for the effects of gravity, could we not create artificial gravity, i read somewhere that this could be done by using condensates because they are extemely magnetic.

I haven't a clue SB, I only know bits and bobs from going onto the NEO (Near Earth Objects) website to see if anything interesting is in the vicinity.

An interesting idea for possible fast space travel would be to land a comet AFTER it has circled the sun, then ride on it to further outer reaches than our satellites have so far reached. Problem with that is, they do travel at some pace, it'd be like a snail trying to land on a speeding car for a lift.....*splat*

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I haven't a clue SB, I only know bits and bobs from going onto the NEO (Near Earth Objects) website to see if anything interesting is in the vicinity.

An interesting idea for possible fast space travel would be to land a comet AFTER it has circled the sun, then ride on it to further outer reaches than our satellites have so far reached. Problem with that is, they do travel at some pace, it'd be like a snail trying to land on a speeding car for a lift.....*splat*

It is certainly an interesting idea if we could find one heading near.

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You need a hell of a lot of lead to block gamma rays (block is not really the right term as it is theoretically impossible to totally block gamma rays, only to reduce them). You need very dense materials like lead or depleted uranium which are also very heavy as result. Like i said, this wouldn't be a problem if we had the facilities to construct ships in space, as we wouldn't have to send the whole weight up in one go. I think constructing ships in space is probably feasible with current technology, but as i said before there's no infrastructure for doing so. You'd have to convince the governments that fund the space agencies that their investment will give them benefits and i dont think they'll accept exploration as cutting it.

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You need a hell of a lot of lead to block gamma rays (block is not really the right term as it is theoretically impossible to totally block gamma rays, only to reduce them). You need very dense materials like lead or depleted uranium which are also very heavy as result. Like i said, this wouldn't be a problem if we had the facilities to construct ships in space, as we wouldn't have to send the whole weight up in one go. I think constructing ships in space is probably feasible with current technology, but as i said before there's no infrastructure for doing so. You'd have to convince the governments that fund the space agencies that their investment will give them benefits and i dont think they'll accept exploration as cutting it.

Possibly easier would be assembling a ship on the moon, no atmosphere means getting off the ground would not be an issue.

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Well gravity is the biggest problem of getting off the surface of the planet, but yes, building/launching ships from the moon would be considerably easier than from earth.

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Building a spaceship on the moon seems a good idea, only that it would cost more, if i was to build a craft on the moon for a journey to mars or another planets moon, then i would also build a base on the moon.

I think if cost was not a problem it would be done, as cost is a problem then we need a good and worthwhile reason to do it.

space exploration and discovery is very exciting.

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Building a spaceship on the moon seems a good idea, only that it would cost more, if i was to build a craft on the moon for a journey to mars or another planets moon, then i would also build a base on the moon.

I think if cost was not a problem it would be done, as cost is a problem then we need a good and worthwhile reason to do it.

space exploration and discovery is very exciting.

That would certainly be a good idea having a base on the moon where we could build/even mine some materials.

I agree that there needs to be a better reason for spending money than exploration, however as i have said, there are so money minerals that we need that could be mined with relative ease, indeed you could argue that with less gravity mining on the Moon/Mars would be easier.

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Looking over the posts in the thread I think Paranoid's references to cost remain the biggest barrier. Could we maximise the amount that we mine and take away without incurring extremely prohibitive costs as a result? My mind isn't shut to the idea by any means, but I think it is a tall order (and yes, while I hope it doesn't happen, I think Paranoid's pessimistic view re. use of oil and gas on Earth may also ultimately prove to be near the mark).

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Some information regarding potential power sources for the idea and potential artificial gravity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bose%E2%80%93Einstein_condensate

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superconductivity

Basically, because a condensate has almost no electrical resistance (they actually showed it on a programme flowing through glass, they become superconductive. In regards to artificial gravity, surely this could be induced by spin if such an apparatus could be created, similar to a centrafuge. It gets very interesting as a power source because if the element used is pure it has no electrical resistance at all meaning that an electrical current induced into it could exist indefinitely, potentially a clean, and infinitely renewable power source, of course generating the power requirements nessasary for space travel is the issue and also actually storing such a current if it had no electrical cohesion, you would have to use something not properly pure. The article on super conductivity explains a lot of this in the history and application section, however i believe that if this were to become mainstream, the worlds power requirements would be solved.

Looking over the posts in the thread I think Paranoid's references to cost remain the biggest barrier. Could we maximise the amount that we mine and take away without incurring extremely prohibitive costs as a result? My mind isn't shut to the idea by any means, but I think it is a tall order (and yes, while I hope it doesn't happen, I think Paranoid's pessimistic view re. use of oil and gas on Earth may also ultimately prove to be near the mark).

The costs involved primarily would obviously be the fuel required to go to and from Earth, building a base/ships would be relatively cheaper.

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Could you elaborate the PIT, i do not think that western civilisation is declining, just rising less than the east.

Well the signs are there. Steadily failing infrastructure that cannot be repaired as the costs are two high. Reduction of services because they cannot be paid for. Britain is trying to be a military power it can't afford the hardware. USA is struggling with it's own economy at one time it would be able to manufacture it's way out of trouble but it's struggling to do that.

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Money and Health and Safety.

If we had had the current levels of red tape 70,000 years ago, Home-Erectus would never have left the cave (for fear of falling over etc).

We have become over obsessed with removing risk, risk that is always there in space exploration.

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In addition, ask yourself this, why was Concorde taken out of service - Too much danger and too expensive. Same applies to Space Exploration.

The need to minimise risk applies to everything, 40 years ago this was not the case.

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