The future in space

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chaseyboo

Forum Addict
Dec 3, 2017
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#1
Should we go to space because of the problems on Earth, or in spite of the problems on Earth? In other words, with so many problems on Earth, should we bother wasting resources to fund frivolous space adventures, or is living in space the solution to these problems?
I respect both opinions, but I'm of the opinion we should go to the stars. If there is a planet with a thriving ecosystem, I think we should refrain from colonizing it, but I see no problems with living on "dead" and lifeless planets like Mars, as well as space habitats.
What are your thoughts?
 

SneakyBastard

Well-Known Member
Forum Contributor
Dec 7, 2017
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#2
You'd first have to separate man made Earth problems and external problems affecting earth. The first kind, I'm afraid, we will take with us and transplant them anywhere else. Petty rivalries, fight over resources, a tendency to spoil the environment we live in, etc. No, in that case space realty will do little to solve them, you'd just go ahead and spoil something else, rinse and repeat.

But, thinking about external issues, the inescapable fact of the life cycle of G-type main sequence stars (like our own lovely superheated plasma spheroid, you know who you are, you radiating gigantic blob, you) means that Earth's days as a habitable planet were counted before it even coalesced from that accretion disk.

If I have it correct, once the blob runs low on core hydrogen it will start loosing the struggle against gravitational collapse, but then that collapse will heat it up enough so it starts fusing helium into carbon and oxygen (and nitrogen as a side product), the blob gets really bloated and goes all Rao on us. At that point it either swallows up Earth (Venus and Mercury are sure goners) or it turns it to a barren rock floating in space.

On those terms, the most viable alternative would be to seek another oblate spheroid within our solar system. Europa, some of the asteroids, maybe Titan (too thick an atmosphere blocking the sunlight tho). Since it will take what seems forever for the sun to consume the hydrogen it has in its core, there is plenty time. For that, exploration is key. Missions like Cassini are the kind I have in mind. Now, we need stepping stones. First the moon then maybe a base in Mars and so on, coupled with space stations. I think our best achievable bets are up to Jupiter.

Now, I'm certain problems for humanity will start well before that, so the sooner advances are made, the better. If you ask my personal opinion, it will be tricky, you won't be taking everybody anyway and deciding which ones send who....I see issues.

Nice as it is to look for potentially habitable exoplanets (hey, there's a list) I don't see it as an achievable goal before something really really bad happens on Earth, like a bad combo on the Milankovitch cycles and a new ice age).

I'd focus on searching ice water within the solar system and then other potentially needed stuff, then you make plants and cyanobacteria survive FIRST in this potential colony (they will be providing that oxygen ya know) and then see if something else can be done.

It will be the work oF many more generations I think.
 

tashia

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Dec 3, 2017
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#3
You'd first have to separate man made Earth problems and external problems affecting earth. The first kind, I'm afraid, we will take with us and transplant them anywhere else.
This is so true. It would be awesome if we could live in space or explore it better but no matter where humanity goes it will most likely still face the same problems that we have on Earth eventually. Human nature sucks.
 

chaseyboo

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Dec 3, 2017
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#4
I know human nature will forever corrupt things, but I think going to space will set new ways of thinking and living into motion that will make lives sort of better in space.
I’m going to have to borrow from the late Scottish author, Iain M. Banks. On his “A Few Notes on the Culture” – which is pretty much his backstory for his science fiction series “The Culture.”
The thought processes of a tribe, a clan, a country or a nation-state are essentially two-dimensional, and the nature of their power depends on the same flatness. Territory is all-important; resources, living-space, lines of communication; all are determined by the nature of the plane (that the plane is in fact a sphere is irrelevant here); that surface, and the fact the species concerned are bound to it during their evolution, determines the mind-set of a ground-living species. The mind-set of an aquatic or avian species is, of course, rather different.
Essentially, the contention is that our currently dominant power systems cannot long survive in space; beyond a certain technological level a degree of anarchy is arguably inevitable and anyway preferable.
To survive in space, ships/habitats must be self-sufficient, or very nearly so; the hold of the state (or the corporation) over them therefore becomes tenuous if the desires of the inhabitants conflict significantly with the requirements of the controlling body. On a planet, enclaves can be surrounded, besieged, attacked; the superior forces of a state or corporation - hereafter referred to as hegemonies - will tend to prevail. In space, a break-away movement will be far more difficult to control, especially if significant parts of it are based on ships or mobile habitats. The hostile nature of the vacuum and the technological complexity of life support mechanisms will make such systems vulnerable to outright attack, but that, of course, would risk the total destruction of the ship/habitat, so denying its future economic contribution to whatever entity was attempting to control it.
Outright destruction of rebellious ships or habitats - pour encouragez les autres - of course remains an option for the controlling power, but all the usual rules of uprising realpolitik still apply, especially that concerning the peculiar dialectic of dissent which - simply stated - dictates that in all but the most dedicatedly repressive hegemonies, if in a sizable population there are one hundred rebels, all of whom are then rounded up and killed, the number of rebels present at the end of the day is not zero, and not even one hundred, but two hundred or three hundred or more; an equation based on human nature which seems often to baffle the military and political mind. Rebellion, then (once space-going and space-living become commonplace), becomes easier than it might be on the surface of a planet.
Even so, this is certainly the most vulnerable point in the time-line of the Culture's existence, the point at which it is easiest to argue for things turning out quite differently, as the extent and sophistication of the hegemony's control mechanisms - and its ability and will to repress - battles against the ingenuity, skill, solidarity and bravery of the rebellious ships and habitats, and indeed the assumption here is that this point has been reached before and the hegemony has won... but it is also assumed that - for the reasons given above - that point is bound to come round again, and while the forces of repression need to win every time, the progressive elements need only triumph once.
Concomitant with this is the argument that the nature of life in space - that vulnerability, as mentioned above - would mean that while ships and habitats might more easily become independent from each other and from their legally progenitative hegemonies, their crew - or inhabitants - would always be aware of their reliance on each other, and on the technology which allowed them to live in space. The theory here is that the property and social relations of long-term space-dwelling (especially over generations) would be of a fundamentally different type compared to the norm on a planet; the mutuality of dependence involved in an environment which is inherently hostile would necessitate an internal social coherence which would contrast with the external casualness typifying the relations between such ships/habitats. Succinctly; socialism within, anarchy without. This broad result is - in the long run - independent of the initial social and economic conditions which give rise to it.
From "A Few Notes on the Culture" by Iain M Banks
http://www.vavatch.co.uk/books/banks/cultnote.htm

You see, living outside of Earth means the new settlements will have to be self-sufficient. If you’re going to start a colony on Mars, for example, it probably makes sense to build a ton of greenhouses so you don’t have to keep exporting food from Earth. Yet that's the thing - once the colony is self-sufficient, it is no longer truly a colony. That's the thing that makes me so curious about SpaceX, Elon Musk, and his little scheme to live on Mars. I always thought it was a joke, until I started looking into it. SpaceX is making bank, and the fact that it's rockets actually land and can be reused is remarkable.


I'm really conflicted with this, because I hate this planet so much, I want to leave this godforsaken planet, but Mars? For Mars, terraformed or not, it's the low gravity that would make me hesitant to move there. We don't know if our bones will suffer the same fate as they do in zero G on the ISS, or if women can even have healthy pregnancies in Martian gravity. I'd much rather live in a torus:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_torus
When it comes to Elon Musk's SpaceX and Mars, usually the contention I get from people is all it's doing is moving rich people from Earth to Mars. In other words, another white flight, only not the suburbs this time, the stars. If it comes to fruition, I think the racial makeup will be more diverse this time, although class will almost certainly be the homogeneity of the rich. But, going back to what Iain Banks wrote - living in space is way different than living on Earth. The rich migrants to space (be it to Mars, a torus, the moons of Jupiter, or wherever) will most likely only spend their money to move provided there is a system in place that would ensure their descendants will forever be taken care of. Now, on Earth, when the rich do this, it's through trust funds - which usually places the money, and ensures it'll never diminish, via trading in the stock market. On Mars though, such trust funds will most likely instead go towards whatever funds help maintain the integrity and self-sufficiency of the extra-terrestrial habitats. Which brings me to my final point.
Once a self-sufficient space habitat is in place, it may (at least in theory) by easier and cheaper to build new habitats. The microgravity of space and the low gravity of the other planets means less force will have to be used. If the theory is true that methane can easily be manufactured on Mars and used as rocket fuel, then having such factories on Mars will mean rockets will easily be able to fly to and from the Martian surface, out to the asteroid belt - a treasure trove, ready to be mined. Space habitats will gradually get cheaper, to the point where government subsidies and welfare can easily move those who cannot afford to go to space on their own.
I realize this will take many, many generations to build. None of us on this forum will probably go to space, and if we live long enough to see space colonization, we'll probably be too cautious on being the first guinea pigs. We have to start now though - the ISS isn't enough, our space program isn't enough! There are many reasons why NASA has become incredible insufficient - so why are we sitting back allowing billionaires to take us to the stars? If it's going to take generations, we need to start ASAP. Even if the first colony on Mars is a shithole, if there's a disaster on Earth, it'll be easier to evacuate people to an established colony that's shitty than having no plan B whatsoever.
 

Bowyn Aerrow

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Dec 5, 2017
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#5
Well if all we are going to do is send robots to poke around and not see anything then yeah its a waste.

However if we are serious about our future then space is the next logical step.

Mining the surface of the moon would provide minerals and metals for ten billion people for centuries, plus weird stuff like He3, a good use would be for fusion.

The Asteroid Belt contains enough minerals and materials to meet the demands of ten billion for a couple thousand years. And the rings of Saturn have more than ten times the amount of water than is contained in all of earth's oceans.

So yes space is the best, next investment. Not just for rich people to have a fun vacation and have the orbital high club (like the mile high club), but serious exploration and exploitation and colonization.

Sure we can't go to the stars - yet, but we have a huge back yard to play in that we call the solar system. We could be harvesting antimatter that is created naturally with the magnetic field lines of Jupiter being affected by the solar wind. Antimatter is a solid fuel source that could actually be used to reach the 20 nearest stars.


And no we should not focus on "escape" from our problems here on Earth. Most of the problems here are because we made them and we will only make them in space. We need to learn how to manage our issues, clean up our mistakes and take the assorted lessons of what to do and not do into the future and into space.

The US military wastes god awful amounts of money on developing weapons to do more killing. This sort of behavior does not fit into the real needs of humanity. We need to stop studying war and turn our attention and resources in the study of peace, of solutions and of course reaching toward a future where man does spread across the universe.

Of course that isn't going to happen with the old folk who take leadership of the nation(s). We need young congress people or parliament people who are still a little dreamy eyed and have dreams. Most old people forget hope, forget dreams and tend to want to keep everything the same.

That same today as yesterday attitude is why NASA doesn't get the funds it needs.

Now business people are interested in the wealth of space. Good. If they can turn a profit then they will do for humanity what our 'leaders' can't, lead us to a better tomorrow.
 

SneakyBastard

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Dec 7, 2017
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#6
You know I watched that vid and distracting stuttering aside it was very interesting. I am still a bit skeptic. I do want to see something like his proposals actually work.

"It's 2017, we should have a lunar base by now. What the hell is going on?" is one hell of a quote to make. The technology is certainly there I think. At least for this,

There are a couple things that trouble me about Mars. First, that low gravity couldn't hold on to a proper atmosphere and low atmospheric pressure means no liquid water can freely exist now if it ever did.

NASA has a neat prospect of what Mars could have been like ages ago, but it got shitty really soon.

Whether is was like that is a bit irrelevant, the problem now is any colony will have to insulate itself. Of course artificial atmosphere is achievable.

I did pick on his mention of the Sabatier reaction which is already something used in space stations (yes?).

sabatier.png

Water was needed to generate oxygen through hydrolysis and the generated hydrogen was simply discarded, that meant extra water needs beyond the usual ones, which in any mission to another planet will probably not be feasible unless you happen to find a secure and sufficient water source.

With a Sabatier reactor you can use this hydrogen and metabolic "waste" in the form of carbon dioxide to produce methane and water.

That solves the problem of wasting water on oxygen generation. In any case, you only need a small hydrogen input to balance the methane output and you have an almost closed carbon dioxide/water/oxygen cycle, something extremely relevant for any self-sustaining extraterrestrial colony. At first anyway.

Get that oxygen-generating Plantae and cyanobacteria going I tell you!

All that aside, which candidates you have in mind, beyond Mars?

Well if all we are going to do is send robots to poke around and not see anything then yeah its a waste..
Well you never send very expensive technology to just poke around. So far, and this is something I can never be too happy about, all the missions sent to space have gone miles in sending back very useful information. Merely knowing what are the main components of let's say Neptune's atmosphere can be put to good use. The next step is to develop technology to make use of that information.
 

YoungFK86

Active Member
Jan 8, 2018
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#7
Have you seen the launch of the Falcon Heavy from Cape Canaveral?
I also watched part of the live on youtube, with the starman (LOL) on the tesla car... It was exciting.
 

emiliano

Well-Known Member
Dec 23, 2017
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#8
I absolutely support going into space.

The space program is not the cause of inequality in this society. And it's budget is not the reason that we don't take care of our poor. People who think that the money is better spent on Earth should take a look at where the money that stays on Earth actually goes.