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Re: The most important near-term goal of a space program:

by Ovid (Cardinal)
on May 10, 2007 at 09:40 UTC ( #614589=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to The most important near-term goal of a space program:

I definitely vote for "establish permanent human colonies." We need to keep our eggs in several baskets, particularly since the one we're in is showing signs of abuse.

And for those anti-science hippy¹ types who like to say "we shouldn't colonize the Moon, Mars, etc., until we've learned to take care of our own planet", I reply "if you really believe that, then you can't have children until you're perfect."

1. Of course, those who know me know I have "hippyish" tendencies, but not the "anti-science" part.


New address of my CGI Course.

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Re^2: The most important near-term goal of a space program:
by Petruchio (Vicar) on May 11, 2007 at 06:03 UTC

    I hear this point made often, and it always seems problematic to me, unless you're looking at a (very) long-term plan.

    If we're going to put our eggs in more than one basket, the first thing we need to do is find more baskets. While the technology to create permanent human colonies in space is near at hand, the technology to create independent space colonies isn't anywhere close. If a colony doesn't have significant travel, mining, and manufacturing facilities, plus the ability to sustain itself for at least a few hundred years, and a very respectable gene pool to boot, it's not worth counting as a basket. If the earth goes down, the big metal doughnuts out there will probably be empty shortly thereafter.

    Living in a sustainable way on another planet is a better plan, but it isn't going to be any easier. We're basically talking about terraforming Mars, or leaving the solar system. Anything like a moon base is going to have the same critical problem as space stations: they won't survive without an elaborate earth-based support system. Sure, the moon-men could potentially travel back and repopulate an empty earth... but if that's the plan, we'd probably be better off keeping some remote, self-sustaining colony here, and saving them the trip.

    I do think there's reason for optimism about space, in part because nothing gets done without at least a modicum of optimism. For the foreseeable future, though, count me as a pro-science not-very-hippyish type who thinks taking care of things down here is the only real option for survival. We're surrounded by lots and lots of nothing, very occasionally punctuated by an extraordinarily hostile something.

    By the way, I voted for "reduce the cost of putting things in space". In my opinion, the faster space technology gets out of the hands of cathedral-builders (to whom we owe a lot), and into the hands of entrepreneurs, corporations, hobbyists, hotel chains, adventurers, and crack-pots, the faster we'll start to figure out how to really get things done up there. Then (the free-market faithful say) we'll get all the other things on the list done better and more easily.

Re^2: The most important near-term goal of a space program:
by chexmix (Hermit) on May 10, 2007 at 13:48 UTC
    Hear, hear. I too have recidivist "hippy" tendencies but I have always been pro-science as well.
Re^2: The most important near-term goal of a space program:
by blue_cowdawg (Monsignor) on May 15, 2007 at 17:20 UTC
        And for those anti-science hippy¹ types who like to say "we shouldn't colonize the Moon, Mars, etc., until we've learned to take care of our own planet"

    I'm neither a hippy type nor anti-science. Yet I think it is the misuse of science that has gotten us in the mess that we are in. (Please note the word "misuse" there)

    Science has been trying to tell us for years (long before Mr Gore got on the bandwagon) that we are drowning in our own garbage. Yet the various policy makers not to mention people in general make bad decisions with regard to the issues that affect the environment we live in.

    So when I make the statement we gotta learn to keep our own environment clean I make the analogy to raising children a bit differently than you do. I teach my offspring that when you travel through "nature", for lack of better way of putting it, you leave nothing behind other than your footsteps. Likewise good ecology starts at home. My offspring have been taught that leaving garbage in their rooms is a bad idea and that garbage needs to be dealt with appropriately.

    When I was growing up and visited my cousins in Maine we used to go to springs that were all over the place in the woods to drink from when we were thirsty. In recent years I'm hearing you can't do that any more because the groundwater has become so contaminated by industrial pollutants that travel for many miles airborne and end up in Maine. That saddens me.

    My kids think I'm nuts (at 28 and 17 I'm having trouble calling them kids any more) but we have compost heaps behind our house out in the woods. The don't think I'm so nuts when I use that compost to enrich the soil of our flower beds (sometimes used to grow tomatoes and peppers instead) in the spring before I plant.

    I was horrified to see a news report a few weeks ago about the cleanup that has to be done on the Long Island Expressway constantly because folks just throw their coffee cups, McDonald's bags, etc. out their car windows as they drive to work. I thought we as a society outgrew that but I can see I was deceiving myself. Then I started noticing they do the same thing on the highways near where I live.

    I say all that to say this: At least here in the USA people tend to be slobs. I'd hate to export that to some pristine environment out in space. Instead of living on one planet where the water is fouled, the air is fouled and we don't know how to manage our waste products we'd have two or more. That thought bothers me.

    In my mind there are plenty of warning signs out there that we are screwing this planet up bad. From the fact that there are more cancers being seen to the fact that every other child I know of seems to have issues with allergies. Not to mention the fact that you can't go outside anymore without breathing in pollutants. (I sneeze uncontrollably when I first step off the train in NYC on every visit!)

    Peter L. Berghold -- Unix Professional
    Peter -at- Berghold -dot- Net; AOL IM redcowdawg Yahoo IM: blue_cowdawg
Re^2: The most important near-term goal of a space program:
by Anonymous Monk on May 10, 2007 at 10:25 UTC
    or maybe tie up large amounts of resources trying to access distant cosmic rocks instead of deploying them to tackle 'real world' (ie our world) problems!! excuse my sarcasm too ;+)
Re^2: The most important near-term goal of a space program:
by alandev (Scribe) on May 11, 2007 at 18:24 UTC
    looks like we will play the 'ALIENS' ;-)

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