A Conversation for Space Travel, Propulsion and Other Minutiae

Probes vs People

Post 21

The Wisest Fool

Well it may be stretching a point, but there are billions of us present in space right now. It just so happens we're stuck to the face of a blue-green planet smiley - smiley

I do agree that manned missions help to advertise space to the population and that makes it easier for NASA and others to grab a percentage of our income thru taxation, but as far as contributions to our understanding of the solar system (and beyond) go, probes are much cheaper than manned voyages and provide a hell of a lot of useful scientific feedback.

Maybe it's as simple as this -
Scientists get excited about probes and everyone gets excited by men in space.

Probes vs People

Post 22


True, there were thousands and thousands of people there to meet the first men on the moon, but by the time Apollo 17 was launched, most people had lost interest, and the Apollo program itself was tarnished both because of the incredible amounts of money being spent, the anti-government politics of the time and certain misdemeanours by some of the astronauts themselves.

If we sent people to Mars now, would we not run the risk of another repeat of transient euphoria, followed by disinterest and even adversity again, or have times changed?

Probes vs People

Post 23


Have NASA and the ESA got a strategy apart from subsidising large American and European aerospace corporations? The Russians had it right; they didn't know why they put people in space, they did it for the hell of it. Its not possible to pre-justify a space mission to a governmental fiscal oversight committee, cos you really don't know what you will find. Just go there, have a look, come back and analyse the data. Then you will find out why you went in the first place.
Anyway, NASA etc really don't have a clue anyway (feet & inches?), so let Joe Taxpayer himself do it on his own. It's not going to happen yet, but I'll bet you a plate of bangers and mash it will have by 2020.

Probes vs People

Post 24


You know, we complain about the world being overpopulated.

The thing is, if there's got to be so many of us, we don't have to take up all the space that we do. Next time you want a nice little farm on the countryside, ask yourself why? And then instead of living out in the open, hey, go camping on weekends or something that's less about ownership.

There is one statistic that has really floored me. We think there's a lot of people on this planet, and that if we continue to improve healthcare and decrease famine that we'll just have more and more people and that the world will not be able to sustain us. Physically we do not constitute much of the biosphere. Here's the statistic. If we gave each person 2000 square feet of living space, spread the people out with their living space over the surface of the planet, the resulting area of land usage would be about the size of Texas.

That's it.

We're doing something wrong.

Probes vs People

Post 25


It is being reported fairly widely at the moment that various private groups are seriously trying to raise the money for their own "personned" space shots.

Arthur C Clarke, Tom Clancy, Mick Jagger (I think) have all put money into the pot at some time or other and Hilton Hotels are talking about building a hotel in space using old shuttle fuel tanks, which currently are discarded and burn up on re-entry.

NASA apparently talked about the same idea some years ago but it was discarded for one good reason and possibly several bad ones:

NASA (like ESA and the Russians) is supposedly a research body, they've researched the idea of putting people into space and now it's time for those who want to do it again to pay their own way. Fair enough. Why shouldn't I cherish the idea of my space shot if it's bot going to cost the taxpayer anything?

The old "making best use of stuff we were going to throw away" idea is just too simple, too easy, and too cheap to justify all the money that NASA wants to maintain itself. There are enormous, taxpayer funded, empires at stake here and if you start doing things the easy way then an awful lot of people are going to find theirselves having to go out into the real world and look for jobs with the private consortia. (Private consortia that will then have to compete with a government subsidised program)

For research purposes probes offer the best value for money and will continue to do so as the technology improves. Sure it's not as exciting as throwing people into space but somebody needs to explain to the general public that "exciting" does not equate to a wise use of their money.

If people want exciting then they should talk to Rupert Murdoch and get him to shell out more for the media rights.

Probes vs People

Post 26


Goodness gracious - a small robotic probe has just now landed right outside my house! Holy cow, its starting to dig up my front lawn, and it's pointing its little antenna skyward, as if it were looking for something!

It's nameplate is a bits scratched - it's hard to make out. It says something like "More Paler Lunder" (must be Swedish in origin), and wait a second, there's a little note here right beside it -

"Sorry, wrong address - return to sender"

Should I report this one to the authorities?

Probes vs People

Post 27

The Wisest Fool

Take it to your leader smiley - smiley

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