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  #21  
Old 01-29-2010, 05:19 AM
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I don't see any other profitable business but space tourism. Searching for water on Mars or a Jupiter moon is of little use. Even if we'd find large quantities of valuable elements up there, I seriously doubt that building the infrastructure on the respective planet/moon, extracting that stuff and sending it back to Earth will be worth the effort, even if it is titanium or gold.

How about we prioritize, put public research money into fusion technology and once we have made breakthroughs in areas which help all of us, we fly into space again?
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  #22  
Old 01-29-2010, 05:42 AM
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Originally Posted by horatio View Post
I don't see any other profitable business but space tourism. Searching for water on Mars or a Jupiter moon is of little use. Even if we'd find large quantities of valuable elements up there, I seriously doubt that building the infrastructure on the respective planet/moon, extracting that stuff and sending it back to Earth will be worth the effort, even if it is titanium or gold.

How about we prioritize, put public research money into fusion technology and once we have made breakthroughs in areas which help all of us, we fly into space again?
How about delivery and retrieval of satellites? Or supply runs to the space station? I don't know, I'm no expert. Space garbage collection? There will only be five more shuttle missions. Seems to me there's going to be a hole that will need to be filled. Shrug.
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  #23  
Old 01-29-2010, 07:44 AM
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Well finding significant amounts of water on the moon or other places simply makes it more affordable to colonize since you don't have to spend as much time and money to send water up with the astronauts. Furthermore the need to send food up can be reduced as well if there are large amounts of water present. Yeah, there's an initial investment that would need to be made in terms of setting up the facility and sending some kind of seed crop and other items to get the places started. The more resources you find there the less you have to send up in the long run to sustain the base. Profitability on the other hand is a whole other ball park, which I don't see happening anytime soon. Most of what's been done so far hasn't been to make colonization profitable but to reduce it's cost.

As much as I want us to continue to go to space, there does need to be some kind of material return. I don't like thinking about making a profit on things, but let's face it, we live in a world with finite resources. When we send stuff up, we don't necessarily bring back any thing material that we can use. It's like oil and other fossil fuels. They take millions of years to form but we can burn up large deposits in a matter of decades. Your output exceeds your input so it's not sustainable.

Granted, private companies will suffer a bit from cuts to the space program. NASA doesn't design and build its launch vehicles itself, those are done by private companies. To what extent private companies will suffer, I can't say. Like the larger companies such as Boeing and Lockheed would likely survive, the effect on small business that supply components to them maybe a different issue. Unfortunately that's part of the game in the aerospace industry these days regardless of if it's space military or commercial.

Doesn't mean we shouldn't explore space or even have anything in space. But for now if you have to make cuts for the time being, manned spaceflight is probably the first thing that would have to be reduced. In terms of exploration, we can cover more ground with unmanned probes. In terms of maintaining the ability to send things into space, well we kind of have to keep it anyway. Much of our infrastructure here on Earth relies on space assets. Navigation, communications, and even agriculture are very heavily dependent on orbital assets right now. Go onto a tractor on a farm these days and you'll see a GPS unit built into it with an entire computer system to allow farmers more efficient land management. Even studying things like climate and other phenomena here on Earth uses orbital assets. For those like me that would like to see us head out into space, we're just going to have to put that on the back burner for now. Rockets are indeed an old technology but we do rely on them in our everyday lives. On the other hand, the idea of non-rocket space launch methods such as mass drivers came about for specific reasons such as allowing for more frequent launches at lower cost higher reliability and safety but they're mostly theoretical at best for the time being.
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Last edited by Akula2ssn : 01-29-2010 at 09:13 AM.
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  #24  
Old 01-29-2010, 09:54 AM
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Honestly, I think space travel is something that needs to leave the hands of the government and become something more suited to corporations. (Virgin Galactic, anyone?)

I just think that in order for us to end up going to the moon in a rocket as we would to another city in an airplane, we need to take the industry into other hands.
Its true the price tag goes way up when the government does something, but if you look at something like the Apollo program, that was something only the government could do. Only the government can organize the resources needed to accomplish a goal like getting the man on the moon, when that had never been done before. Yes, government can be very wasteful, but i think government will still have a role in space for a long time to come. Basically, private companies are only interesting in doing something if its profitable, they are only interested in research, if afterward they can sell something. Government isn't like this, they will do things for humanitarian reasons. Also, government is more responsible. I think it will be a long time before private companies are willing to take the risks of going into space, governements will first have to prove it is safe.
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Old 01-29-2010, 09:56 AM
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Who needs governments to fund space exploration?
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  #26  
Old 01-29-2010, 01:19 PM
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Who needs governments to fund space exploration?
Yeah. Let's pool our cash and do it ourselves. The Star Wars fans can chip in too.
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  #27  
Old 01-29-2010, 03:30 PM
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I posted this list back in 08, it seems like a good time to revisit it. Imagine what technologies, inventions and industry we will discover during another 50 years of space exploration.

GROUND PROCESSING SCHEDULING SYSTEM

SEMICONDUCTORS
STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS
WINDOWS VISUAL NEWS READER
AIR QUALITY MONITOR
VIRTUAL REALITY

ENRICHED BABY FOOD
WATER PURIFICATION SYSTEM
SCRATCH-RESISTANT LENSES
POOL PURIFICATION
RIBBED SWIMSUIT
GOLF BALL AERODYNAMICS
PORTABLE COOLERS/WARMERS
SPORTS TRAINING
ATHLETIC SHOES

MICROSPHERES
SOLAR ENERGY
WEATHER FORECASTING
FOREST MANAGEMENT
SENSORS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL
WIND MONITOR
TELEMETRY SYSTEMS
PLANT RESEARCH
FIRE RESISTANT MATERIAL
RADIATION INSULATION

DIGITAL IMAGING BREAST BIOPSY SYSTEM
BREAST CANCER DETECTION
LASER ANGIOPLASTY
ULTRASOUND SKIN DAMAGE ASSESSMENT
HUMAN TISSUE STIMULATOR
COOL SUIT
PROGRAMMABLE PACEMAKER
OCULAR SCREENING
AUTOMATED URINALYSIS
MEDICAL GAS ANALYZER
VOICE-CONTROLLED WHEELCHAIR

MAGNETIC LIQUIDS
WELDING SENSOR SYSTEM
MICROLASERS
MAGNETIC BEARING SYSTEM
ENGINE LUBRICANT
INTERACTIVE COMPUTER TRAINING
HIGH-PRESSURE WATERSTRIPPING
ADVANCED WELDING TORCHRADIATION HAZARD DETECTOR
EMERGENCY RESPONSE ROBOT
PERSONAL ALARM SYSTEM
EMERGENCY RESCUE CUTTERS
FIREMAN'S AIR TANKS
PERSONAL STORM WARNING SYSTEM
SELF-RIGHTING LIFE RAFT

STUDLESS WINTER TIRES
BETTER BRAKES
TOLLBOOTH PURIFICATION
WEIGHT SAVING TECHNOLOGY
IMPROVED AIRCRAFT ENGINE
ADVANCED LUBRICANTS
ENERGY STORAGE SYSTEM
NEW WING DESIGN FOR CORPORATE JETS
AIDS TO SCHOOL BUS DESIGN
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  #28  
Old 01-30-2010, 01:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by horatio View Post
I don't see any other profitable business but space tourism. Searching for water on Mars or a Jupiter moon is of little use. Even if we'd find large quantities of valuable elements up there, I seriously doubt that building the infrastructure on the respective planet/moon, extracting that stuff and sending it back to Earth will be worth the effort, even if it is titanium or gold.

How about we prioritize, put public research money into fusion technology and once we have made breakthroughs in areas which help all of us, we fly into space again?
I agree. At the moment a space program doesn't make sense for any corporation.

Even space travelers like Virgin Galactic, who aren't actually travelling into space or exploring anything, are created solely because a few Scifi Fans/idealistic dreamer earned more money than they can spend in a life time. But real corporations wouldn't take these risks.


However there could be some projects that could become interesting for some corporations in future, when ressources on Earth become very scarce and expensive. In the asteroid field are some rare ressources that could be interesting for mining operations.

However these mining projects won't continue manned space travelling, too. More probably you will use robots and automated mining programs for the whole process. And there are some conditions that have been fulfilled, the AI and robot technology has to make huge progresses, anyhow initial investments in research and development and infrastructure have to be spent by anyone, the losses of robots coz of collissions, malefunctions etc. must not be too high...
A lot of very strict conditions that make it questionable if there will be big private space programs in future.
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  #29  
Old 01-30-2010, 05:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by horatio View Post
I see no reason to continue exploring space as long was we still use the same technology as in the 60s to shoot up our stuff.
But I cannot express how silly it is to reduce government expenditures right now, the crisis ain't over yet.
Obama should listen to Christine Romer and Paul Krugman, not to the Reps and the centrists in his own party. Perhaps Hillary will take over before he seriously messes up something.
Are you suggesting we reboot the space program? Really? Are you trying to make Zim's head explode?
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  #30  
Old 01-31-2010, 11:13 AM
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I think we need to ask ourselves this: will the exploration of space enable us to find and utilize the resources needed in order to eliminate the social issues like poverty, starvation, racism, xenophobia, and hate that are preventing us from coming together to pool our existing resources to make our lives better so we can focus on extraterrestrial exploration? OR- the other way around?

Gene Roddenberry had a very ideaized view of our future in which all of these were possible, but he never said what happened first. There is no doubt in my mind that space exploration is our destiny however one reason why I think we are behind in the Star Trek Chronology of spaceflight is because there are many problems existing on Earth today that nobody accounted for back in 1970. I'm not just talking about the achievement of electing a black US President- I mean the election of an individual who can pull us out of recession and re-prioritize our needs so that other things can follow. Star Trek talks about great medical advances but says nothing about tort reform. Star Trek assumes work unification but doesn't mention the resolution of the Mid-East crisis or nuclear weaponry in the hands of Kim Jong-Il or Amadinejad. My POV is that those things need to be attended to first. After that, spaceflight can accelerate at a faster pace than it ever will in today's environment.

As far as space exploration being profitable, how much would the government be willing to pay for something that already exists that they don't have? E.g., if I had a real phaser, could I make more money using it myself or selling it to The Pentagon?
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