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Old Yesterday, 08:56 AM
 
Location: Missouri, USA
4,397 posts, read 2,987,797 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Energystream View Post
While NASA has very specific missions, the influence the knowledge gained from working toward those missions is much more widespread.

NASA collects tons of data on near planets. Learning about other environments further enriches our understanding of our own, especially on what environments can exist and how they function outside our narrow view. Out of the many agencies there are few I wish could receive more funding, and NASA is one of them.

And I am not sure why you are using Fusion as an example. That would fall under the Department of Energy who also has a research aspect to it. https://www.energy.gov/science/artic...h-practicality Look at their budget which gets stifled as well.

I think you have to remember that science doesn't necessarily exist in a bubble. Advances in one location can be used to address a problem in another area of research and move that field forward. Maybe it is possible in that figuring out how to improve a vehicle for continuous operation in the harshness of space will provide better insight into a more robust reaction chamber for fusion reaction.

My opinion is science is generally worth the cost, even in failure we learn.
Yeah...but science strictly focused on inventions we definitely need, such as fusion power and other forms of clean energy, are going to be a lot more cost-effective than just giving people a bunch of cash and hoping something useful will come out of it.

People talk about all the wonderful inventions NASA created for spaceflight.

Okay...so focus that on fusion power research instead, or some other clean energy technologies, and we can skip the costs of sending a few people to pick some rocks off an irradiated desert as what basically amounts to a publicity stunt. If fusion wouldn't be an ideal route...we could spend funding on desalinization technology, or maybe better electric car tech.

It's just...there's going to be a lot of money spent on stuff that we don't need, if we tell people to solve the problem of how to live on or go to another planet and then just admire the side discoveries that happen to help us.

Last edited by Clintone; Yesterday at 09:23 AM..
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Old Yesterday, 09:31 AM
 
32,607 posts, read 16,672,021 times
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NASA completely lost its way during the Shuttle years.

From being the cutting-edge technology laboratory it was originally conceived as, it became the Shuttle owner/operator. That program gobbled up the majority of the funding - and when it was mercifully retired, the suppliers weren't just going to give up on the streams of government cash. Thanks to their intense lobbying, we got the Constellation program with the frankenrockets Ares I and Ares V slapped together form the Shuttle parts bin. Turned out the be harder than first thought, but hey - delays mean more billable manhours, right?

Mercifully that program was slapped down, but the pork must flow! - and so now the majority of NASA's budget is spent on developing the SLS, a heavy lift rocket made by - yes, you guessed it - the Shuttle suppliers.

TL;DR - NASA has become an organization for the purpose of funneling taxpayer money into the coffers of the right companies. Space exploration may happen as a sort of positive side effect.
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Old Yesterday, 09:39 AM
 
339 posts, read 240,973 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clintone View Post
Yeah...but science strictly focused on inventions we definitely need, such as fusion power and other forms of clean energy, are going to be a lot more cost-effective than just giving people a bunch of cash and hoping something useful will come out of it.

People talk about all the wonderful inventions NASA created for spaceflight.

Okay...so focus that on fusion power research instead, or some other clean energy technologies, and we can skip the costs of sending a few people to pick some rocks off an irradiated desert as what basically amounts to a publicity stunt. If fusion wouldn't be an ideal route...we could spend funding on desalinization technology, or maybe better electric car tech.

It's just...there's going to be a lot of money spent on stuff that we don't need, if we tell people to solve the problem of how to live on or go to another planet and then just admire the side discoveries that happen to help us.
If not discoveries, another aspect of maintaining a space program is to maintain power projection levels so that we can't be shut out of an avenue that could provide significant resources through future mining.
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Old Yesterday, 09:41 AM
 
32,607 posts, read 16,672,021 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clintone View Post
Yeah...but science strictly focused on inventions we definitely need, such as fusion power and other forms of clean energy, are going to be a lot more cost-effective than just giving people a bunch of cash and hoping something useful will come out of it.
That's the thing - if you know from the outset there's a useful return on your research, private labs will happily take it on. NASA was intended to be a hotbed of cutting-edge technology, to figure out what does and does not work - to head down avenues of research that are unlikely to work out, but they just might... Once NASA stumbles onto something that does work, private enterprise can take over.

As far as I'm concerned, NASA's finest hour was the X-plane era - dozens of one-off prototypes were built and dozens exploded in dramatic manner, but the knowledge gained paved the way for better, faster, more efficient flight. NASA isn't involved on building the aircraft that came out of that research program, nor should they be.

Which is why it annoys me mightily that NASA's budget is being spent on building a heavy lifter with 70s engine technology and solid boosters. Getting stuff to orbit is a problem that has been solved.
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Old Yesterday, 09:49 AM
 
21,581 posts, read 11,635,875 times
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They are a shadow of the agency of MEN who put men on the moon in the 60ís. Now NASA is a political joke.
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Old Yesterday, 09:52 AM
 
Location: Missouri, USA
4,397 posts, read 2,987,797 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Energystream View Post
If not discoveries, another aspect of maintaining a space program is to maintain power projection levels so that we can't be shut out of an avenue that could provide significant resources through future mining.
We could mine the moon for natural resources...assuming that's cost effective to get there and, more importantly, bring the materials back to Earth. Some people say that's hard to tell, and resources would need to be spent to figure that out.

We could mine asteroids eventually...assuming we also develop the technology to live comfortably for years in space as well as developing the technology to cost-effectively bring back resources we find. That may not be possible for a century or two. It might not ever be possible. Perhaps mining asteroids will never have any value until after humanity has spread far enough into space that there's a large, permanent, community up there so we don't have to deal with the expense of leaving Earth's atmosphere and getting the materials mined back down to Earth.

On the other hand, We have immediate concerns about environmental problems that will progressively snowball the longer it takes to solve them.

Also, assuming we eventually reach the point of being capable of permanently living in space...I'm not sure colonizing planets would even be desirable compared to space stations that could be spun to have Earthlike gravity, which Mars and most celestial bodies would lack. Space stations would also lack the dangerous build up of celestial debris around them that comes from the strong gravity wells of planets, and they'd be easier to access than having to build ships to fly into and out of gravity wells that need to be capable of existing in both those environments.

Also, over the very long term...one strategy for terraforming Mars is to crash an icy moon or two into it to increase its mass for greater gravity and give it additional water. If people are living on Mars, or other celestial bodies where similar means of terraforming would be desirable, they could be more of a hindrance than a help. Learning how to live on the harsh other celestial bodies in our solar system could end up pretty useless...depending what the best way to create ideal off world habitats turns out to be.

Last edited by Clintone; Yesterday at 11:10 AM.. Reason: Edited the part about mining the moon.
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Old Yesterday, 09:52 AM
 
32,607 posts, read 16,672,021 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PullMyFinger View Post
They are a shadow of the agency of MEN who put men on the moon in the 60ís. Now NASA is a political joke.
Well, you can thank any number of people for that - senator Shelby probably takes the prize, but he did manage to get a lot of that sweet government cash directed to Alabama, didn't he?
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Old Yesterday, 10:52 AM
 
Location: Missouri, USA
4,397 posts, read 2,987,797 times
Reputation: 2040
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clintone View Post
Also, over the very long term...one strategy for terraforming Mars is to crash an icy moon or two into it to increase its mass for greater gravity and give it additional water. If people are living on Mars, or other celestial bodies where similar means of terraforming would be desirable, they could be more of a hindrance than a help. Learning how to live on the harsh other celestial bodies in our solar system could end up pretty useless...depending what the best way to create ideal off world habitats turns out to be.
I can see it now...two-hundred years in the future the descendants of the colonists who were brought to Mars through the funding of Elon Musk receive a surprising e-mail:

ATTENTION CITIZEN OF MARS. THE UNITED FEDERATION OF HUMANITY HAS DECIDED TO CRASH A MOON INTO YOUR VILLAGE. YOU WILL FIND THIS IS FULLY LEGAL VIA EMINENT DOMAIN. WE SUGGEST YOU LEAVE...SWIFTLY...SO AS NOT TO BE VAPORIZED.

You may have laid down in front of our bulldozers chanting "WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED!" last month. That ain't gonna' work this time.
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Old Yesterday, 11:02 AM
 
2,724 posts, read 913,312 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimRom View Post
Do you not realize how many contributions NASA has made to modern technology? Even the camera in your smart phone is a direct result of NASA research. In medicine alone NASA has been a game changer. There are lists available on the NASA website of products we wouldn’t have without space exploration. Out of all the alphabet agencies which our government spawns, NASA is probably the biggest net contributor to our modern lifestyle.
That's correct. Computers, monitors, communication technology, etc. that makes our everyday life is because of much of what NASA has done during projects in the 50's, 60's, 70's and up to current.

The big picture with Earth, Man and our existence is, the planet Earth and even the Sun isn't going to exist forever, even if we were the most cleanest. The Sun has a lifespan and there will come a day when the Sun no longer supports life on Earth. So the big deal with NASA is finding a way Mankind can find another home when this one reaches it's end of existence.

This is what is on Wikipedia about the sun, cut to the chase:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun#Af...gen_exhaustion
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Old Yesterday, 11:13 AM
 
2,724 posts, read 913,312 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clintone View Post
We need to get the idea of colonizing other worlds totally out of our minds. It'll be totally impossible at any point in the foreseeable future.

It's a common fantasy...and I've been caught in it too because of how tempting it is, but we really don't need to examine the idea much to discover how useless of a goal that is.

Anywhere in the solar system that isn't Earth is going to be a considerably worse place to live than Earth after any disaster in the foreseeable future. We have absolutely zero need of more space. All we need are things that can only be found on Earth: oxygen, clean water, ideal temperatures, ideal gravity and stuff like that.

Now, eventually we'll have to move into space if our species survives long enough, and we will, if our species survives long enough...but for pretty much the entire foreseeable future, any attempt to make another planet more Earthlike is going to be more expensive than just enhancing the Earth.

We will never terraform Mars anytime in the foreseeable future. That'll take centuries if not more. Before it's terraformed, it's just an irradiated desert. People talk about colonizing it...but the place has no more value than Antarctica, and any residents there will swiftly figure that out and then all the billions spent to send them there will be totally wasted, because it won't function as a backup planet when nobody wants to live there. That'll be the same case with every planet that's not Earth.

We need to focus on making Earth as habitable as possible for as long as possible, and then people will naturally move off world due to political dissent just like they've always left their old country to colonize new and dangerous lands for. That'll eventually end our being a one planet species without any government involvement...but we just need to wait a few centuries. Trying to speed things up isn't going to do any good. It'll just make it less likely that we'll survive to reach that point through allocating funds to useless sources.
Our solar system is destined to end. Granted it won't start to occur for a few billion years, but eventually our solar system will be no more.
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