Mars Direct is Dead?

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2worlds

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NoDozRequiem":2r5du6uu said:
2worlds wrote:
As far as Mars not having the mass it needs to hold an atmosphere--you might want to bring this up to a number of planetary scientists who think that terraforming mars is impossible. How embarrasing for them that they've overlooked this glaring hole. Of course, mass isn't everything. Just ask Saturn's moon, Titan, whose atmosphere is thicker than earth's. Of course, Mars had an atmosphere thick enough to sustain water on its surface for quite a while. What was it that caused Mars to lose its atmosphere? From what I read, the jury is still out on that. When it comes to retaining atmosphere, size doesn't always matter (or predominate).
Titan is actually the only other rocky body in our solar system able to maintain an atmosphere, which is because 95% of its orbit are within the magnetosphere of Saturn, effectively shielding it from thinning out. Mars, on the other hand, does not have such a protective neighbor, and we can't give him one either. That is why I accept that even while terraforming Mars is an immensely inspiring vision, Mars still is the wrong planet for it - at least as long as we cannot change its sheer composition. Before "filling up" the atmosphere, we would need to "beef up" the planet itself.

I know most people around here or elsewhere are not very eager to hear this and it certainly does not help financing campaigns, but it seems too obvious if you put facts above visions (no matter how inspiring). If you just think of what is actually necessary for this, then you would have to admit that all we actually can do to reach that goal, will not bring us an inch closer towards it in the marathon of creating a second Earth. So even if mankind may someday accomplish it, then from their perspective all of our efforts will have been bold indeed, but utterly in vain as well. They will not have been the bright first steps, but just unreasonable, as our technology still lacks all ingredients necessary to take up a task of such magnitude.

And what makes matters worse, as we are still living in a time of material and technological constraints, these efforts would just have been efficient in a different way: in drying up resources we could use for another goal, one that is actually in our reach - the Moon.
 
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NoDozRequiem

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2worlds":w8x0s9id said:
NoDozRequiem":w8x0s9id said:
2worlds wrote:
As far as Mars not having the mass it needs to hold an atmosphere--you might want to bring this up to a number of planetary scientists who think that terraforming mars is impossible. How embarrasing for them that they've overlooked this glaring hole. Of course, mass isn't everything. Just ask Saturn's moon, Titan, whose atmosphere is thicker than earth's. Of course, Mars had an atmosphere thick enough to sustain water on its surface for quite a while. What was it that caused Mars to lose its atmosphere? From what I read, the jury is still out on that. When it comes to retaining atmosphere, size doesn't always matter (or predominate).
Titan is actually the only other rocky body in our solar system able to maintain an atmosphere, which is because 95% of its orbit are within the magnetosphere of Saturn, effectively shielding it from thinning out. Mars, on the other hand, does not have such a protective neighbor, and we can't give him one either. That is why I accept that even while terraforming Mars is an immensely inspiring vision, Mars still is the wrong planet for it - at least as long as we cannot change its sheer composition. Before "filling up" the atmosphere, we would need to "beef up" the planet itself.

I know most people around here or elsewhere are not very eager to hear this and it certainly does not help financing campaigns, but it seems too obvious if you put facts above visions (no matter how inspiring). If you just think of what is actually necessary for this, then you would have to admit that all we actually can do to reach that goal, will not bring us an inch closer towards it in the marathon of creating a second Earth. So even if mankind may someday accomplish it, then from their perspective all of our efforts will have been bold indeed, but utterly in vain as well. They will not have been the bright first steps, but just unreasonable, as our technology still lacks all ingredients necessary to take up a task of such magnitude.

And what makes matters worse, as we are still living in a time of material and technological constraints, these efforts would just have been efficient in a different way: in drying up resources we could use for another goal, one that is actually in our reach - the Moon.

As I pointed out before, you should bring this to the attention of those scientists who see Mars as a viable terraforming option and thereby disabuse them of their otherwise undeducated speculations. There seems to be those who come down on both sides in the scientific community--those who think it cannot be done and the prospect is utter fantasy and those that point to the method in which we are altering our own planet's climate. I'm with others on here who are of the persuasion that given the stage at which we are actually able to alter a planet's climate, I think there will be other methods in place to retain and sustain that climate--or otherwise no such endeavor will be undertaken in the first place. As it is, I don't think Mars will require beefing up and while I might harbor some bias, I tend to side with those planetary scientists who assert the same.

As for as exploration for the here and now--in terms of sheer sustainability, Mars has the resources to make long term sustainability a possibility--much more so than the moon. A Mars mission is "actually in our reach" and will be more rewarding than returning to the moon first (in my opinion). Sure, the moon is within reach, but so was Greenland for the Europeans. By taking on the challenge of going to Mars now, we will initiate a course of human space flight that is both sustainable and will continue to produce technological benefits that will help us return to the moon while establishing a springboard into the rest of the solar system and beyond.

I don't think that line of thought is as much quixotic as it is pragmatic. That's just my opinion though.
 
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MeteorWayne

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Right now we're not even willing to commit to a single MIssion to Mars. Terraforming would cost BILLIONS of times more.

Let's see if we're even willing to fund the first single exploratory mission before we start deciding to spend the economic output of the entire earth on such terraforming, eh?
 
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NoDozRequiem

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And by the way, while extremely thin and necessitating a constant replenishing, Mercury is another rocky planet in the solar system which has an atmosphere (again, extremely thin, but there nonetheless).
 
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NoDozRequiem

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MeteorWayne":34lkbes7 said:
Right now we're not even willing to commit to a single MIssion to Mars. Terraforming would cost BILLIONS of times more.

Let's see if we're even willing to fund the first single exploratory mission before we start deciding to spend the economic output of the entire earth on such terraforming, eh?

MW--Your point is well taken and I think most, if not everyone here, would agree with you. I'm looking back over the comments to see if anyone actually suggested attempting to initiate such a program.....
 
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frodo1008

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I have gone from cautiously optimistic on these issues, to at least pessimistic on them.

As I now see it NASA is NOT going to be allowed to have a budget large enough to get anywhere. I do not however blame either Congress or president Obama specifically for this, the entire country is in a deep recession (and that is at best, I would actually call it a deep depression only second to the Great Depression of the 1930's in history), and therefore the money for even any reasonable projects in cost for NASA, such as going just back to the moon, let alone the far more expensive proposition of going so much further out as Mars, just is not going to be there!

Don't get me wrong here, anybody that knows how I feel from other posts of mine knows just how badly I feel about this. But I am enough of a realist to see where this is going, and it means that NASA isn't going to go anywhere but the ISS for a long time into the future! And that is that!

So that leaves only two alternatives for those of us that want a real future in space for mankind. Either other countries such as Russia, Chine, Europe or others will have to go further outwards, but this is equally unlikely, as the economic problems of the US are also the economic problems of the entire Earth. Or getting humanity into space is going to have to be up to the for profit private alt.space industry!

So as far as I am concerned NASA is not going to go anywhere outside of LEO period. The Constellation project is going to be canceled, and NASA is not going back to the moon, and certainly not on to Mars! And that is that! However, just perhaps there might be enough left over for NASA to continue a large robotic program for both Mars and other destinations within our solar system, and I consider that to at least be a relatively good thing in itself. Besides which, NASA may be able through COTS D to help such as spacex to develop a follow on system for the space shuttle for getting up to the ISS, and continuing the important work there on just how we will eventually be able to use the materials of space to develop the infrastructure needed to eventually go further out in a far more sustainable manner.

So that only leaves the pure private for profit capitalistic enterprises to do the job!

And that is quite probably going to take quite a bit more time, but it does have the very large advantage of creating a true demand for humanity in space that would be truly sustainable.

Nobody can actually predict the future of humanity in space, but let me take what I consider to now be the only remaining path now open for this important activity. Mind you, this is a very minimalist type of program!

Hopefully, there will be other pure private for profit enterprises also developed, but at this time there are only three truly viable companies that are actually engaged in cutting metal (or composites for that matter) at this time. They are the true leaders, and will be the true developers of Cheap Access to Space. And it has now become rather obvious that without CATS, humanity will quite probably not even be going back to the moon, let alone on to Mars and beyond!

Those three are: spacex (under the control of Elon Musk), which is making a truly major effort to develop both rocket launch systems and the COTS Dragon capsule, to eventually bring down the cost of a pound of material, human or otherwise, to the magic number of at least $1,000 per pound to LEO instead of the $10,000 pound for the oldest systems, or even the $5,000 per pound for the newer EELV systems. This is an absolute must, or humanity is not really going to go anywhere in space in a truly sustainable manner. This is why I truly hope and pray that they will be able to do this!

Then there are the equally important efforts of Burt Rutan, Scaled Composites, and Virgin Galactic to truly show that there are indeed enough wealthy people that are now more than willing to provide the funding for space tourism. Which at this particular time is the only profitable path for placing human beings into space. Oh, there are, and have been for quite sometime now very profitable commercial satellite ventures in space, but they do not require humanity in space for their operations!

From what I have read, Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic now have enough people willing to pay for just a few minutes in sub orbital space for full level (at least once a week) operations for many years to come after such operations have been safely started! And even such relatively low level efforts are going to prove to be quite profitable (with the provisions of course, that such operations are made to be very safe).

There is also another market for what I believe will be Rutan's next step after sub orbital flight itself. That is the very high speed (hypersonic) movement of both very high value cargo, and highly paid business people around the Earth's surface. This also would not yet be an orbital operation, but still going into sub orbital space, only actually going to other airports on the Earth's surface, instead of just coming back down at the same point that the sub orbital flight left from.

And strangely enough, I do think that there is now a very viable and on going effort by the government that will result in making the zone of hypersonic flight truly a viable and eventually profitable area for such as Burt Rutan. That is the highly funded Air Force project to truly develop the hypersonic zone of flight for military purposes. I believe that the Air Force is within a decade at most of accomplishing this truly significant achievement! And strangely enough, there really would be no reason why the Air Force would keep such an effort totally secret from private for profit industry. After all, the only countries that might also be able to use such a realm of velocity are generally either friends of the US, or at most neutral to us. Potential third world enemies of this country would not have the ability to make use of such an area. The technology would just be far too expensive for and technological for them.

But it would not be too expensive for such as Burt Rutan that he and Scaled Composites and such as Virgin Galactic or such companies as FED EX, or the other major shipping companies could not develop the ability to ship high value cargo to any place on the planet in less then two hours. And eventually, not only those highly valued materials but also give high paying businesspeople (women as well as men) the ability to get to anywhere on the planet in less than two hours also (while at the same time probably joining the rather still exclusive club of those that could claim to be astronauts). In fact, I would think that if either or both Boeing Aircraft and/or Airbus would also become very interested in such an effort, that would give such an effort a massive push for success!

Then what would be next? Well, most would say tourist travel to LEO would be the next goal, and I would agree with them. But without bringing in the third of the more viable new companies, this is going to take a very long time. That third company is Bigelow Aerospace with its inflatable habitat space stations.

In the beginning Bigelow's immediate goals are to just be able to launch and build these habitats in LEO for the use of researchers doing much the same as what is now (and even more in the near future) being done on the ISS. Bigelow is truly hoping that either spacex, or even ULA with the EELV's will be able to bring down the price per pound to LEO to a level where he can build small space stations from his inflatable modules for quite reasonable costs.

Then further on such small and relatively inexpensive space station would become the destinations for such as Burt Rutan to place something such as small linear aerospike rocket engines on his sub orbital hypersonic vehicles, and truly go into LEO! For without at least some kind of relatively inexpensive destinations for tourists (or certainly space researchers) to be able to stay in orbit for longer periods then just launch vehicles able to get to LEO, there would be no reason for such a tourist industry to even develop at all. I would say that such a minimum stay would probably be at least a week, and average two weeks or even more!

After that.........

Well, this has already become a very lengthy post! I would be more than happy to continue, but for now I have other things to do. However, would others here possibly not only like me to continue, but also start another entire thread on
either this forum (I would start with this post itself, and then go on) or the space business and tech forum, perhaps even in both forums?

The time line for what I have already brought up? If I were to be very conservative I would say two decades. But I would hope that as private industry has a far better history of generally moving faster than government, then it might all happen in less that a decade!

I am sure there are arguments against what I am saying here, but remember that I am being as realistically minimalist as I can be here, so anything less and there will probably be NO future for mankind in space at all, and I am of the opinion that means that within some few hundreds of years that would mean that there will be NO future for mankind whatever!!

So do think about that possibility (probability, as far as I am concerned) before you come up with any kind of total opposition! Details will quite probably change, but if we are going to go on at all, then this is the only path the current economic and governmental situation evidently still leaves us!

But I am more than open to ANY ideas for getting at least the thrust of Mankind's industry off of this Earth before we destroy it! The human space program IS the ultimate environmental program!!!

Well, in the meantime. please do Have A Very Great Day!! :D :D
 
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tanstaafl76

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So we can blow trillions paying off economic bad actors and bailing out foolish companies, but because the economy is bad we can't afford a trip to the moon within 11 years? Sorry but I just don't buy it.

What we have are self-serving politicians more interested in pushing their own personal agendas than the space program. It's sad, because the space program has played such as important role in our history as a country and our advancement as a species. And yet when it is politically inconvenient it is left for dead on a life-support budget that will never spawn the inspiring discoveries that we are capable of, leaving it with orbital projects that could be performed by the private sector.

I'm libertarian, so I'm not a big fan of government programs. But the whole point of going to space is so that we can find new discoveries for science and future business opportunities for the private sector that will follow. If we are going to have a space program, it should be one that pushes the boundaries of human knowledge so we can expand our capabilities and move outward into the solar system and beyond. There is NO POINT to having a publicly funded space program if we are just going to endlessly dink around in orbit or fire off an occasional long-range probe.

How about we cancel the ******** "stimulus" package and instead of building bridges to nowhere we use the funding for NASA to build a bridge of discovery back to the moon and Mars. It would create better jobs, it would inspire a generation of Americans to study math and science, and it would expand the boundaries of human knowledge. It's such a fantastic opportunity to start over with our space program and set off in a bold new direction. Instead, this integral part of our country's history and culture has essentially been abandoned. I find it unacceptable.
 
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frodo1008

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You will get no argument from me at all! But I am being a realist, there just is not enough general support at this time in this country to increase NASA's budget. And the sooner that we turn to the support of other means such as I pointed out the better our aspirations will be!

And I AM really sorry about that!!
 
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tanstaafl76

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There would be more support from the public for the space program than there is for bailouts, fake stimulus, and, as it is looking, overly-ambitious government health care schemes. In fact I believe it would be a way for the President to regain some of his recently lost popularity. It makes people feel inspired that our tax dollars are actually going toward something that benefits humanity instead of being lost down a government hole of bureaucracy. That's not to say NASA doesn't have its fair share of bureaucracy, but it's nothing compared to the hundreds of billions of dollars being wasted elsewhere. But that isn't the political agenda for the people in power at the moment, nor was it for the prior administration apart from some lip service.
 
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MeteorWayne

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While I would wish you are right, the statistics indicate otherwaise. Over 50% of the populus is so ignorant that they support creationism over evolution. Why would such an ignorant population support space exploration? After all, those dasterdly scientists can only discover things that support science, not creationism.

The fact is, much greater than 50% of the US doesn't give a rats behind about exploring space....and the people they elect support it even less. :(
 
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Simonj

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Hmm I wonder what would happen if one of the rovers kicked up a gold nugget?
 
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radarredux

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MeteorWayne":1367xss6 said:
Over 50% of the populus is so ignorant that they support creationism over evolution. Why would such an ignorant population support space exploration?
This is somewhat off topic but important nonetheless. Most of those same people support the recent creation of the Earth (~6000 years ago). To support this, you not only need to dismiss evolution and critical aspects of biology, but also geology (continental drift, age based on layers of rock, etc.), astronomy (distances of other stars, etc.), quantum mechanics (independence of decay probabilities used for dating techniques), archeology (sites older than 6000 years), anthropology, and other fields.

In short, to believe the literal interpretation of the Bible, including the age of the Earth, you have to dismiss the foundations of many (most?) sciences. A people with no respect for science is probably past their prime. Sadly, I serious doubt we will see an upwelling of support for Space from Americans.
 
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stormhelm

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ha i knew it and frankly who cares if any one goes anywhere! :lol: too bad america is losing on all aspects.
 
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NoDozRequiem

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Ignorance takes many forms and comes in many guises--as does bigotry.
 
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BrianH1

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Well, here are some solutions. You knew there were some, didn't you? :)

Microgravity: buzz plates, about 15-20 Hz, about 20 min/day, stimulate bone growth and reverse mineral loss. Other frequencies keep muscles functional and toned. :mrgreen:

Commercial motivation and funding: fly small solar powered ion engines and/or mass drivers onto the surface of a rocky asteroid about 1 mi diameter, and gradually nudge it into Earth orbit. Projected precious and base metal content, easily accessed and mostly pre-separated, would be worth several quadrillion current USD, or about $1 million per capita for the planet. That should do it. :cool:

Energy resources: if, as I expect and hope, the recently (2008/11) newly funded and rejuvenated proof-of-concept research (and next rapid prototyping and design licensing) program of FocusFusion.org succeeds, small pulsed dense plasma focus fusion generators, in home-garage sized housings, will be aneutronically putting out 5MW each for capital and operating costs about 1/20 of best current pricing within 6-8 years. This will be, in effect, a multiplication of human wealth unprecedented in modern, or perhaps recorded (or even unrecorded), history. :eek:

There, all fixed. See how easy it was/will be? :ugeek:
 
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EarthlingX

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BrianH1":13igqa3o said:
Commercial motivation and funding: fly small solar powered ion engines and/or mass drivers onto the surface of a rocky asteroid about 1 mi diameter, and gradually nudge it into Earth orbit. Projected precious and base metal content, easily accessed and mostly pre-separated, would be worth several quadrillion current USD, or about $1 million per capita for the planet. That should do it. :cool:
I don't argue with other, but Moon orbit is less crowded ... :|
 
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EarthlingX

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NoDozRequiem":25iqxgef said:
MeteorWayne":25iqxgef said:
Right now we're not even willing to commit to a single MIssion to Mars. Terraforming would cost BILLIONS of times more.

Let's see if we're even willing to fund the first single exploratory mission before we start deciding to spend the economic output of the entire earth on such terraforming, eh?

MW--Your point is well taken and I think most, if not everyone here, would agree with you. I'm looking back over the comments to see if anyone actually suggested attempting to initiate such a program.....
My bad. I was suggesting it's not really a time yet, but it can be done. Core restarting magnetic field, starting crustal activities, filling atmosphere, people sitting (floating) on Phobos, watching show. After we learn how to live in space and from space.
 
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RETerry

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While Mars First, Mars Direct, or Mars semi-Direct, or a few other variants surely appear unpopular with the "Auggies", it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings. The Mars Society convention recently in College Park MD was thick with useful lore and vital discussion. If you want to keep the dream alive, join us.

As to the rationale for Mars and current budgets, well that was pretty much a non-starter from the git-go. Dr Ride however simply walked away from applying her budget exercise to Mars First citing some vague defense (just read her slides). We might have expected more from this panel, but if you are a student of NASA, that notion would be quickly dispelled. NASA cooks up more lame excuses for not being serious about humans on Mars than seem humanly possible, but still they persist at it with great skill.

Look here, if you want to really approach this problem, do the following.

1. Demand that AIG pay back the damn money. All 150 B$, funding for a ten year Mars Direct architecture is then in the pipeline.

2. Start now to build and test all the prepositioned Mars Direct infrastructure in a full up and rather large Mars environmental test chamber. Fly the Mars Gravity Biosat and get some real data on fractional gravity.

3. Start now to self-select teams of crew for the human missions, stop whining about 500 extraneous psych factors, and just watch what happens when you show some motivated folks a clear if difficult set of tasks to master in order to be the best science/engineering team on the surface. Yes, of course, the "professional" astronauts are invited too.

4. Settle the question about heavy lift and exercise the hardware on a Mars ISRU based sample return mission within three to five years.

After a few years of this, the real mass budget and implied cost for the survey Mars Direct type missions will be clear and crews will be on deck. Then we can load and go.

Cheers,
Bob Terry
 
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hillkid

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Simonj":35e087h4 said:
Hmm I wonder what would happen if one of the rovers kicked up a gold nugget?
Nothing would happen. Elon Musk pointed out that at current launch costs, gold ($942/oz, $15,072/lb, $33,158/kg at this writing) isn't economical to gather if it were in Earth orbit! The costs to go get the material from Mars would be much greater. Elon may have used a different, less legal commodity in his example...
 
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vulture4

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>>1. Demand that AIG pay back the damn money. All 150 B$, funding for a ten year Mars Direct architecture is then in the pipeline.

Sorry, even if this happened most people would want tax cuts instead.
 
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tanstaafl76

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MeteorWayne":36gjbos7 said:
While I would wish you are right, the statistics indicate otherwaise. Over 50% of the populus is so ignorant that they support creationism over evolution. Why would such an ignorant population support space exploration? After all, those dasterdly scientists can only discover things that support science, not creationism.

The fact is, much greater than 50% of the US doesn't give a rats behind about exploring space....and the people they elect support it even less. :(
I think you're overstating it a bit. There are plenty of creationists who hold a view that does not contradict science. It is a much smaller portion that take a literal "6-days 6,000 years ago" view of the Bible.

Likewise, I find the people who believe our federal government can fix our economic problems through greater involvement in our lives to be just as absurd as they have to ignore the entirety of our country's history and government's track record of inefficiency and failure.

But regardless, I think a case could be made to the American people that we should be leading the world in space exploration, and compared to the dollar amounts we are wasting elsewhere, even doubling NASA's budget would be a drop in the bucket. The problem is that no one in Washington is interested in making that case.
 
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MeteorWayne

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I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. In my experience, 75% of the public isn't even smart enough to understand what space exploration is, and 98% wouldn't give up a single cent to support it.
 
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NoDozRequiem

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MeteorWayne":23r45w62 said:
I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. In my experience, 75% of the public isn't even smart enough to understand what space exploration is, and 98% wouldn't give up a single cent to support it.

What kind of polling system do you use? ;)
 
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NoDozRequiem

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The slightly reworded question that I submitted last week on NASA's website promoting the Augustine Panel has moved almost up to first place in priority. Anymore help here?

1. Go to http://hsf.nasa.gov/qa.php
2. Scroll down to "Keyword Search" and type "Mars Direct"
3. A question will appear as a result of the search; click on the "+" to bump up its priority.


I have no illusions that we're going to Mars anytime soon and based on Dr. Rides presentation and the panel's overall evaluations, we're not going to the moon anytime soon either. I would love for the the panel to have the audacity to present a bold "option" to the president, but I don't have the audacity to hope for that either. Hmmm.

What I would like to know is what the consideration the plan was given and why it was disregarded. What points of Dr. Zubrin's presentations did the panel disagree with? Norm Augustine says that at this point we don't have the technology to go to Mars. Ok. To what technology is he referring? All the technology in the Mars Direct and Design Reference Mission do exist. So what, specifically, in the eyes of the exper panel we have here, disqualifies Mars Direct or the Design Reference Mission.

Here's the thing that bugs me (ok, well one thing): From the looks of it, all the options presented had grave problems when put together with the current budgetary constraints. That is, none of them look doable....or at least pushes everything way, way back. So I would have liked the same analysis given to Mars Direct or DRM--present it like the other options. Even if it failed miserably in a cost analysis (and if it did, something has been added), how would that be different from any of the other options (with regard to budgetary constraints and sustainability)?

I simply want to know and I submitted my question to the panel in hopes to at least move in that direction. Any help in acquiring the answers from the panel is appreciated--and you can help by showing the importance of the question by voting on it.

Thanks for any help.
 
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tanstaafl76

Guest
MeteorWayne":1wcxvofd said:
I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. In my experience, 75% of the public isn't even smart enough to understand what space exploration is, and 98% wouldn't give up a single cent to support it.
No need for us to argue over anecdotes, there's data to offer some additional perspective.

In 2004, a poll was taken on space exploration and 68% of the public agrees with the statement "the quality of our daily lives has benefited from the knowledge and technology that have come from our nation's space program" while only 16% disagreed.



The vast majority contend that NASA's funding should be maintained or increased. And I'm sure the number for maintained would transfer over to "increase" if it were explained to the public that a bit more was needed to get to the moon and Mars, afterall 68% support or strongly support the goals of going to the moon and Mars.

More recently, just this year another poll was taken by CBS that indicates even in the midst of a brutal economic downturn, 51% of respondents still supported a trip to Mars, and that is without any rhetorical support from the current Presidential administration.

My point here is not to say "Wayne you're wrong" but rather just suggest that your outlook may be a bit pessimistic. More people are captivated by the larger questions of space and exploration than you give credit for; they may not reflect that when they are in the slog of daily life, but when they stop and think about it, the support is surprisingly broad.
 
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