I agree except for the comparison.<br /><br />If airplanes had the crash rate of the Shuttle they wouldn't fly. The United States air industry has an absolutely phenomenal safety record in the air. At times going millions of large aircraft passenger flights without a crash. Crashes involving fatalities are very rare. Fatalities are more common in private planes but even there it must be almost statistically insignificant.<br /><br />
Perhaps the reason that people lose faith in space exploration is that it is not thought of by society in general as something that involves everyone, just a small group of scientists working on things which someday might be important. Air transportation is a part of our daily lives, interwoven into the fabric of it, something which in some way involves everyone. When the American West was being settled by wagon train, it was not thought of as part of the lives of many people. When the railroads were built, that all changed, because the West had become accesable without spending years getting there, and a lot of people were going there.<br /><br />Space exploration is being treated like a scientific research program, with no thought of growth, and without any economic impact. Air transportation is big business, and shutting it down because o plane crashed would cost billions of dollars in lost profits. Making space big business, by focusing on the rewards of the industrial uses of space, is the best way that I can think of to promote the further exploration of space. This means focusing on keeping people in space for long periods, and traveling back and forth between Low Earth Orbit and the Moon. 'Industrial materials processing' and 'resource extraction' are the phrases that need to be asscociated with 'space exploration'. 'Tourisim' and 'colonization' should be avoided, because they are exclusionary, limiting the population affected by space exploration to people who can afford to, and want to, go into space. There is a difference between saying "I want to work on the North Slope in Alsaka", and "I want to move to Alsaka".<br /><br />Oil refinery workers have been killed numerous times in industrial accidents, but shutting down all the refineries until the cause has been identified, and the repairs effected, is not even thought of. Commerce must continue, or everyone will be affected. Astronauts are not industrial workers, they are pioneers on a brave front <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
1.) People see space exploration as largely irrelevant to their lives, at least when it comes to manned missions. The average Joe probably figures that fixing a solar panel on ISS won't build a better light bulb or have any other effect that he'd care about.<br /><br />2.) There's no Cold War boogeyman to stoke their competitiveness.<br /><br />3.) The vast majority of the (good) space news stories of the past two decades have been due to robotic satellites and space probes.<br /><br />4.) The usual "We could really use that $16 billion here on Earth."<br /><br />5.) The fact that the U.S. manned space program has (seemingly) declined since Apollo due to a loss of focus, cost overruns, the loss of two orbiters, timidity on the part of both the agency and the government, and missions that favor academic over popular appeal, such as microgravity biology and chemistry experiments.<br /><br />Just my two bits...<br /><br />
i doubt people even realize a manned craft hasn`t even broken orbit since 1972. & even if this were to happen again no one would take particular notice if the weren`t going anywhere in particular. there would be some interest in a Manned Lunar Orbit, simply by the fact people can name it. i`ve been wondering this, did a Manned Russian Vehicle ever break orbit? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
Thalion wrote:<br /><br /><font color="yellow"><br />The average Joe probably figures that fixing a solar panel on ISS won't build a better light bulb or have any other effect that he'd care about. <br /></font><br /><br />I was trying to think of something that I'd care about. I almost started a new thread but it can fit here. What would you like to see NASA do in space that could help the average Joe? One thing stuck out for sure in my mind; bearings. All our cool space stuff has those gyros to keep it stable and that is a real weak link. I'm sure NASA is driving bearing research on earth but what about in space? Our zero-gee research station could be making bearings but they're not. I distinctly remember bearing manufacture was one of the things that could benefit most because surface tension would make them perfectly round. I know my life would be better if bearings lasted longer where I work. Nasa could use them, too. If they worked better there is a vast market for better bearings. I am a real space buff but even I get tired that none of the space station experiments have come close to some of the great ones on the shuttle; growing that big gallium arsenide crystal and spinning and moving the fluid drops with sound to name a few. <br /><br />I know they're doing stuff with paints and coatings. Didn't they just retrieve a long duration experiment up there? We don't hear a lot about that kind of stuff but it could be important. If they can make something last twice as long up there it will probably last 10 times as long down here. Just think of the money we could save if the lines painted on the road lasted three years instead of one. During the servicing missions to the Hubble they always talked about the paint flaking and powdering off the handrails. Do they still paint anything in space?<br /><br />Fixing the solar panel won't build a better light bulb; but building a better solar panel to start with will. I can see benefits from the space <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>5.) The fact that the U.S. manned space program has (seemingly) declined since Apollo due to a loss of focus, cost overruns, the loss of two orbiters, timidity on the part of both the agency and the government, and missions that favor academic over popular appeal, such as microgravity biology and chemistry experiments. <p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />I wish that people would realize that if we actually cared about our space program, then we might have a space program worth caring about. I mean, we're stuck in the ultimate catch-22 here. People don't care about space exploration because we don't do anything meaningful, but we don't do anything meaningful because people don't care. We have to break the vicious cycle, somehow...
Not enough people care. Space.com has what? a few 100 members? probably less than a 100 regulars.<br /><br />Go to any video game forum and there r 10,000s of members, or cars or motorbikes and you might find 100,000+ member forums. <br /><br />I think that us guys are an extreme minority.
Iam sorry iam more interested in what Russia is doing rather than what NASA is doing, sense it takes FOREVER TO GET THIER HEAD OUT OF THIER A$$, AND CANT GET ON WITH IT!!!<br /><br />NASA needs to find a direction instead of waiting to see what everyone else is doing, perhaps they should focus on the Shuttle and finishing the wasteful money pit of the ISS and build the new CEV before the Shuttle retires, instead of wasting the tax payers money!<br /><br />Iam sorry but I’ve have lost so much of what NASA is going to do, i was more excited to watch the White Knight do what it did!! What does tell you, no one cares about NASA any longer! DEAD DINOSAUR!<br /><br />Acid Frost<br />
As a nation, we currently lack an imperative to aggressively pursue our manned space program.<br /><br />The Cold War was the fuel for our efforts in the 60's and 70's.<br /><br />Kepler's dead hand isn't currently guiding any known killer asteroid towards Earth, and we've neither exhausted enough terrestrial resources nor polluted our planet sufficiently to mandate spreading out from Sol 3 on a rapid timetable at the expense of a significant monetary expenditure.<br /><br />I'd guess that it's not an issue of lacking faith so much as our manned space program being perceived as a luxury that we currently aren't willing to purchase.<br /><br />Think of it in more down to earth terms (pun intended).<br /><br />Your roof is leaking and it's going to cost you $5,000 to fix it. But you REALLY want that $5K SC telescope with all the bells and whistles.<br /><br />It hardly makes sense to proudly display your astrophotgraphy collection in your living room with the ceiling falling in every time it rains.<br /><br />I'm inclined to believe that future manned space exploration will be fueled by individuals and corporations who see some return on their investment.<br /><br />I'd LOVE to see men on Mars by 2015. I'd also like to see the national debt eliminated by 2015. I won't see both, and am afraid I'll see neither. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <em>"2012.. Year of the Dragon!! Get on the Dragon Wagon!".</em> </div>
Dragon04,<br /><br />If the United States is going pull itself out of the hole that it has dug, some kind of real ecenomic growth is going to have to happen. We must have goods that are of value to trade with other nations if we are going to buy anything from those other nations. Thi direction that the United States is going right now is self-destructive. Becuase the U.S. does not have any advantage over countries with lower standars of living on labor cost, materials costs, or energy costs, we are not going to be able to make the same products that other countries make and show a profit when we sell it.<br /><br />But there are products that no one can make here on Earth, and many more which are horribly expensive to make on Earth. Getting private industry into space is the best shot that we have of keeping exploration in space going. It also the best shot that we have to keep our economy from imploding. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
Think about this in rational terms. There's no doubt that our manned space program has been beneficial.<br /><br />But in terms of dollars vs. benefit, we are at an impasse with our space program. If we decide to use the massive resources mecessary to put a person on Mars in 15 years, what is the return on investment?<br /><br />I LOVE the idea that mankind would pursue the pioneer spirit and attempt to not only prove that Mars once held or does hold life. Thus proving that life is not unique to good old planet Earth.<br /><br />But the bigger question is that should we spend a significant amount of our GNP to verify that life is not exclusive to earth, or spend that money on the less fortunate of those who are Earthbound?<br /><br />I think that we are in the wrong timeframe of Humanity to simply go somewhere at any cost to prove what should be intuitive to our species.<br /><br />In 200 years, I think we will have colonized Mars. I think that we will be exploring the possibility of life in the Europan sea.<br /><br />But again, given the planetary government system and global rconomy. we have neither the imperative nor the resolve to boldly go where no man has gone brfore.<br /><br />We have far too many "practical" problrms to solve befroe we take the next step. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <em>"2012.. Year of the Dragon!! Get on the Dragon Wagon!".</em> </div>
<font color="yellow">Don't ever let anyone tell you that NASA is a waste of money!</font><br /><br />I'm sorry if I gave that impression. I think space exploration is way under funded and way over-micromanaged by congress. <br /><br />That's quite a list you've got there. I read it forever and the scroll bar was only 1/4 the way down <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> I saved a copy to disk and will finish it sometime. Here's the best list I had seen before. To see more detail you have to click on the little corporate logos on the right. All the other hyperlinks go to the same page! This stuff is "space certified" NASA spinoffs.<br /><br />http://www.spaceconnection.org/technologies.cfm<br /><br />I was just thinking about the distinction between stuff made on earth for space and stuff that can only be made in space. With the former stuff, everything on our lists, NASA pretty much provided money and goals. Everything was made on earth with earth technology. I'm just overdue for some stuff I can only get from out there. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p><br />I think that we are in the wrong timeframe of Humanity to simply go somewhere at any cost to prove what should be intuitive to our species.<br /><br />In 200 years, I think we will have colonized Mars. I think that we will be exploring the possibility of life in the Europan sea.<br /><br />But again, given the planetary government system and global rconomy. we have neither the imperative nor the resolve to boldly go where no man has gone brfore.<br /><br />We have far too many "practical" problrms to solve befroe we take the next step.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />There will ALWAYS be "practical problems" on Earth that need solving. What people often ignore is that exploration of space can make life better here on Earth, and help alleviate some of those problems. In the future, space colonization will even help relieve the strain of overpopulation. But we will NOT have a Mars colony in 200 years unless someone starts it. Otherwise it will ALWAYS be another 200 years away, even 200 years from now. Future generations will come up with the same excuses as our own, and before long it will be too late. If we do not do it, then who will?
"In 200 years, I think we will have colonized Mars. I think that we will be exploring the possibility of life in the Europan sea."<br /><br /><br />Not if people like you are put in charge.<br /><br />Don't you get it. Mankind has *never* in its entire history been better of than today. *Now* is the time to go to the Moon, to Mars and beyond. Not in 50, not in 100 years.<br /><br /><br />"planetary government system"<br /><br />What's that? Planetary government? What world do you live in? Besides, the establishment of a global government would be the beginning of the end of diversity, competition and thus progress on this planet. I hope it will never happen.
I see two tipping points:<br /><br />Will humanity ever become a multi-planet species? I hope so yet we should not be over-confident.<br /><br />Next, which sub-set of humnaity will lead the charge out there? The Americans have a window of opportunity. If we miss that window, someone else may seize it.<br /><br />= = =<br /><br />IMHO, the possibility of permanent settlement by "our kinfolk" is the ONLY reason that will inspire the majority of humanity to care about space exploration. <br /><br />The word "kinfolk" is intentionally vague - - it can be interpreted as broadly as "all humanity" or as narrowly as "Missouri Synoid Lutherans" or somewhere in between as in "western civilization" yet not everyone will get to colonize, unless we impose affirmative action on the colony ships.
This would be a great flame braun if I hadn't stated that I'd love to see a manned mission to Mars by 2015.<br /><br />Were I "in charge", I would be promoting manned space exploration.<br /><br />You apparently don't understand the realities and practicalities involved. And while I don't like them in the least, I at least understand them. Which is why I further stated that corporations will probably bear the torch of manned space exploration in the future. But in terms of practicality, it most likely won't be on your timetable. Or mine for that matter.<br /><br />In my initial post, I stated that there was no imperative for a Government to actively pursue manned exploration of space at an accelerated rate. Which is the truth and very unfortunate.<br /><br />Let me ask you, wvbraun.. In your opinion, what is our IMPERATIVE that is so profound that governments worldwide will immediately commit significant portions of their GNP to get to Mars in say, a decade or two?<br /><br />Yes, the United States could find the money to make it happen. But all those Congressmen and Senators with their constituents and agendas hold the purse strings.<br /><br />You don't have to convince me, you have to convince a majority of them.<br /><br />Tell us what argument we can take to Bill Gates to snag 5 or 15 or 20 billion dollars off of him to privately fund a Mars mission. What will we be giving his shareholders in return for their money? Other than some extremely exciting TV programs, that is.<br /><br />If you have something, by all means, let's see it. But don't takes shots at the messenger because you dislike the message. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <em>"2012.. Year of the Dragon!! Get on the Dragon Wagon!".</em> </div>
lunatic, I couldn't agree with you more. Note that I put the word practical in quotes.<br /><br />Manned space exploration is no less "practical" than many things our government spends money on. In fact, it's obvious that MSE pays big and sometimes unforseen dividends to the terrestrial population.<br /><br />But without some profound change, I'm afraid NASA won't be seeing the funds needed to aggressively pursue future manned Moon/Mars missions within the span of a decade or 2.<br /><br />And other than "tourism", there is no incentive currently for corporations to privately pursue manned space flight on a large scale.<br /><br />That's why I feel we're in an unfavorable point in history. No Cold War. No critical shortage on resources. No impending planetary disaster.<br /><br />I wish it was different and hope things change soon. Without the disasters and such, that is.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <em>"2012.. Year of the Dragon!! Get on the Dragon Wagon!".</em> </div>
"Let me ask you, wvbraun.. In your opinion, what is our IMPERATIVE that is so profound that governments worldwide will immediately commit significant portions of their GNP to get to Mars in say, a decade or two?" <br /><br />Judging from what you write here it is you who doesn't "understand the realities". A manned Mars program could be accomplished within the existing NASA budget (less than 1% of the federal budget) and this is the plan for the VSE. <br />We don't need to spend more money but spent the money we have more wisely and that is what NASA is planning to do, thanks to Bush's initiative.<br />Besides that, I think there will be growing competition from China and India in the coming years so that congress will be more inclined to give NASA what it needs.