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Thread: Space Exploration

  1. #1
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Question Space Exploration

    Should the exploration of outer space continue? Will we be able to live on another planet or the moon if 25 to 50 years from now?

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    Ensign, Principal Jeffrey Hall's Avatar
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    Well, speaking as a professional astronomer, I'm certainly in favor of space exploration, though objectively, I think I'd feel that way even if I were in some other profession.

    In fact, I might even feel more that way if I were in another profession. The double-edged sword with manned exploration (i.e., setting up some kind of base or colony on the Moon or Mars) is that it is hideously expensive...many tens to hundreds of billions of dollars per mission, maybe more if we're talking about going all the way to Mars. By contrast, unmanned missions like the Voyagers can be pulled off for several tens of millions -- really quite cheap for the scientific return you get. A full-blown push to colonize the Moon or Mars would cut into funding for a lot of basic research (probably not only in astronomy but elsewhere as well), so while I absolutely think sending humans to these strange new worlds is a very exciting thing, I am skeptical about the cost-benefit ratio.

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    I'm all in favour of space exploration - it is important that we understand exactly what is out there, and perhaps it is also important to remind people now and again that there is much more to life than just what we see around us every day.

    As for colonising another planet - I think that it is still too early. As Jeffrey pointed out, it is a hideously expensive exercise and I don't really see a need yet. Yes, it is fascinating, but from a practical point of view, there seems little to be gained for the resources it will consume.

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    Commander, Assistant Conductor Albert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krummhorn View Post
    Should the exploration of outer space continue? Will we be able to live on another planet or the moon if 25 to 50 years from now?
    1,000 years ago more or less, it was very, very expensive in time and money to get from Norway to Canada. 100 Years ago, it took a week on a luxury ship, and cost an awful lot less. 70 years ago, it was a few days on a Zeppelin. When the Concorde was flying, it was hours.

    I expect space travel to follow the same trend. As more get into it, the prices come down. You can :vacation" in orbit for a few days for a paltry 20 or 30 million dollars today. 100 years from now ....

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    I keep wondering why the US has problems with these blanket pieces falling off during space flight. Do other countries have these similar problems, or is that kind of news sequestered from the rest of the world?
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    Commander, Assistant Conductor zlya's Avatar
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    I'm against it. I don't understand why we're spending so much money on space exploration while we're killing our own planet for purely monetary reasons--i.e. rich oil companies. I know there's an idea that once we've destroyed Earth we can go live on the Moon, but frankly I think that's a lousy idea. I think we should turn our money and resources towards protecting what we have. I'm not saying it wouldn't be nice to understand for purely scientific reasons, just that there are more pressing priorities.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by zlya View Post
    I'm against it. I don't understand why we're spending so much money on space exploration while we're killing our own planet for purely monetary reasons--i.e. rich oil companies. I know there's an idea that once we've destroyed Earth we can go live on the Moon, but frankly I think that's a lousy idea. I think we should turn our money and resources towards protecting what we have. I'm not saying it wouldn't be nice to understand for purely scientific reasons, just that there are more pressing priorities.
    I agree all the money they are spending could go towards feeding the starving people of this planet and getting our act together to save this planet.
    What does a single shuttle launch cost?

    [written by Dwayne Allen Day]
    About $400-500 million. This is just the cost of the 8 or so missions per year divided into the total cost of the program per year. Adding another mission to the ones already planned costs about $100 million or so. If you work in the development costs, then the cost of each shuttle mission can be as high as $1.5 billion

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    Quote Originally Posted by zlya View Post
    I'm against it. I don't understand why we're spending so much money on space exploration while we're killing our own planet for purely monetary reasons--i.e. rich oil companies. I know there's an idea that once we've destroyed Earth we can go live on the Moon, but frankly I think that's a lousy idea. I think we should turn our money and resources towards protecting what we have. I'm not saying it wouldn't be nice to understand for purely scientific reasons, just that there are more pressing priorities.
    Quote Originally Posted by lindas View Post
    I agree all the money they are spending could go towards feeding the starving people of this planet and getting our act together to save this planet.
    What does a single shuttle launch cost?

    [written by Dwayne Allen Day]
    About $400-500 million. This is just the cost of the 8 or so missions per year divided into the total cost of the program per year. Adding another mission to the ones already planned costs about $100 million or so. If you work in the development costs, then the cost of each shuttle mission can be as high as $1.5 billion
    I couldn't disagree more. The cost of the average space mission is only a fraction of the cost of the average movie budget. Even some video game budgets have surpassed those of the average space mission. To have a problem with the money spent on exploration and not with the billions spent on frivolities like watching car chases and shooting monsters for entertainment I find a little inconsistent. Historically, exploration has resulted in unforseen economic boons. I see no reason to think exploring other worlds would be different. Who knows what discoveries await us out there. New energy sources, organisms that change our understanding of life perhaps even giving us insights that allow medical advances(among others), the knowledge that we aren't trapped here on this world our entire species reliant on this one tiny ball of rock for survival and countless other possibilities that we likely haven't even considered.

    But that all aside, it is in our nature to explore. It is one of the greatest strengths of our species. We seek out new places in order to learn, adapt, integrate the knowledge we gain into our ways of life improving them. History shows us that insularity will eventually result in the decline of a culture. Growth is necessary for the individual and also for humanity.
    Last edited by JLS; Jun-25-2007 at 22:06.

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    When we have Homeless people, People without jobs, and people without healthcare, spending billions of dollars in space exploration is rediculous. In my opinion that is.

    Having said that.. If everything was taking care of I think it is very interesting.

    I disagree JLS, I think Humans exploring is a bad idea. All humans will do to the Universe is destroy it. (Intentionally or not) Look what we have done to our own Planet. Look what we do to each other. I think it would be better if we stay on Earth and when its time for Earth to go... We go with it.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by toejamfootball View Post
    When we have Homeless people, People without jobs, and people without healthcare, spending billions of dollars in space exploration is rediculous. In my opinion that is.
    Exploration is beneficial to humans. Unless the space program is directly responsible for the financial problems we face, then it is senseless to say it should be dismantled. Why the space program and not public education? Why not defense? Why not foreign aid? To say we should stop exploring because there are homeless is nonsensical. The two have nothing to do with each other. Exploration is not causing our poverty problems. Free market capitalism and general greed are.


    I disagree JLS, I think Humans exploring is a bad idea. All humans will do to the Universe is destroy it. (Intentionally or not) Look what we have done to our own Planet. Look what we do to each other. I think it would be better if we stay on Earth and when its time for Earth to go... We go with it.
    Have we destroyed this planet? Have we destroyed each other? No. We have done some good and some bad. However, I don't think this is the point. "Good" and "bad" are human judgments. If something is bad, it is only because we say so. Without humans, there would be no such thing as good and bad. The universe doesn't care what we do to it, because the universe isn't human. It has no concept of "bad" because it has no concepts. It is not a thinking being. We can do whatever we want to the universe and it won't care. We can't harm the universe, or the planet for that matter. The only thing that matters is what impact out actions have on us. In fact, it isn't possible for anything else to matter.

  11. #11
    Commander, Assistant Conductor zlya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JLS View Post
    I couldn't disagree more. The cost of the average space mission is only a fraction of the cost of the average movie budget. Even some video game budgets have surpassed those of the average space mission. To have a problem with the money spent on exploration and not with the billions spent on frivolities like watching car chases and shooting monsters for entertainment I find a little inconsistent.
    Taxes do not pay for movies, ticket sales do. People can choose to support the movie industry or not. However, my tax money, money I have worked for and sweated for and given up to the government with very little choice in the money pays for the space program. I don't get a choice.

    Let's look at it another way, in terms of resources: How much energy does it take to get a rocket into space? Not just the thrust, I mean all the energy to build it and organize it and power the computers and the simulations and the lights in the building where all the little beurocrats and scientists work on it. How much of our planet do we destroy to create that energy? How much nuclear waste, or fossil fuels, or other pollution does it take to create that much energy? How can we possibly afford that?

    You may respond that it takes more energy and causes more pollution to drive cars, or light houses. Again, I can (and do) choose not to drive. I can minimize energy I spend in my house. I can't, as an individual, opt out of the space program.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by zlya View Post
    Taxes do not pay for movies, ticket sales do. People can choose to support the movie industry or not. However, my tax money, money I have worked for and sweated for and given up to the government with very little choice in the money pays for the space program. I don't get a choice.

    Let's look at it another way, in terms of resources: How much energy does it take to get a rocket into space? Not just the thrust, I mean all the energy to build it and organize it and power the computers and the simulations and the lights in the building where all the little beurocrats and scientists work on it. How much of our planet do we destroy to create that energy? How much nuclear waste, or fossil fuels, or other pollution does it take to create that much energy? How can we possibly afford that?

    You may respond that it takes more energy and causes more pollution to drive cars, or light houses. Again, I can (and do) choose not to drive. I can minimize energy I spend in my house. I can't, as an individual, opt out of the space program.
    I agree that our use of nonrenewable and pollutionary resources is less than ideal and that we should work towards a better solution to our energy needs. I was raised in a family of activists and am well aware of the current situation, the damage that is being done, and our options for the future. I do what I can to conserve energy on a daily basis. But what you are suggesting is that we stop pursuing things that will very likely be extraordinarily fruitful for our species just because they use energy. Of course, everything we do requires energy -- that is the nature of doing things. It isn't possible to stop using energy unless we cease existing. Obviously, simply using energy doesn't make an act wrong. What we should do is try to minimize our energy usage without ceasing the pursuits that will forward our species. Exploration has always been beneficial for cultures throughout history and, as I said earlier, may result in the discovery of new (renewable)energy sources. I disagree with many of the things we spend our resources on, but learning is certainly not one of them. Despite the animosity you apparently have for the "little scientists", they are the ones that will solve our energy problems. Limiting their opportunities for gaining new knowledge will only slow their progress towards doing so.

  13. #13
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    My point is I think Humans should worry more about what is happening wrong on our planet now, then whats out in Space. For instance, if Scientists found a renewable fuel source do you think it would be available to everyone, or exploited by Capitalist corporations?

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    Quote Originally Posted by toejamfootball View Post
    My point is I think Humans should worry more about what is happening wrong on our planet now, then whats out in Space.

    Why does it have to be one or the other?

    For instance, if Scientists found a renewable fuel source do you think it would be available to everyone, or exploited by Capitalist corporations?
    Why does it have to be one or the other?

    The posters in this thread are committing the fallacy of a false dichotomy. People here are speaking as if the only two options are to 1) explore space or 2) solve our socioeconomic problems, and that these options are mutually exclusive. These are not the only options, and it is not the case that dismantling the space program will solve our socioeconomic problems. If someone can present an economic plan that solves our problems and requires dismantling the space program, I'll listen. If someone can present evidence that the space program is the cause of our socioeconomic problems I'll listen. If all you have is pure conjecture and personal opinion, well, you can't really expect anyone to listen, can you...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by JLS View Post
    Why does it have to be one or the other?

    Why does it have to be one or the other?

    The posters in this thread are committing the fallacy of a false dichotomy. People here are speaking as if the only two options are to 1) explore space or 2) solve our socioeconomic problems, and that these options are mutually exclusive. These are not the only options, and it is not the case that dismantling the space program will solve our socioeconomic problems. If someone can present an economic plan that solves our problems and requires dismantling the space program, I'll listen. If someone can present evidence that the space program is the cause of our socioeconomic problems I'll listen. If all you have is pure conjecture and personal opinion, well, you can't really expect anyone to listen, can you...
    Of course dismantling only the Space Exploration program wont solve all socioeconomic problems, I am not saying Space Exploration is the only cause of socioeconomic problems in this Country. I am saying it is one cause of many.

    Dont you think if they put more money into Education and Medical and put less in Space Exploration, Iraq War, Drug Wars... the economic conditions of many would be better?

    :edit:

    Nevermind, I am sounding like a Reformist. After re-reading your earlier posts I agree. The Space Program isnt the problem. The Econmic System is (Imo)

    I was arguing for the sake of arguing I think... :P
    Last edited by toejamfootball; Jul-17-2007 at 07:47.

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