Space Missions

» 09 January 2004 » In Opinion »

From an Associated Press article:

President Bush will announce plans next week to send Americans to Mars and establish a permanent human presence on the moon.

The Mars and the Moon? Why doesn’t he concentrate on the budget deficit and other things plaguing the country? Because this is nothing but a sweeping promise in an election year, so don’t count on much happening. It just frustrates me to no end that the space exploration is still within the government’s purview. The NASA is continually underfunded and even with the funds in hand they have a high rate of failures and flops and no clear goals for the future. The rate of space development could have been so migh higher had it been more open to private companies. This is 21st century after all, it’s time to stop monopolizing the industry! That’s an election promise that could work.

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  1. andrei
    Jeremy Zawodny
    09/01/2004 at 5:24 pm Permalink

    The US highway system was built by the government, not private industry. The same is true of the national air traffic control system. Once we get the basics of space travel down, I’m sure big business will be all over it.

  2. andrei
    09/01/2004 at 5:58 pm Permalink

    We’ve had the basics of space travel down for a couple of decades now. Besides, it is not quite similar to the highway infrastructure which required a massive organized effort across the board. Space travel can be done by a single company that can build or acquire a launcher and a launching pad.

  3. andrei
    10/01/2004 at 6:40 pm Permalink

    it’s easier for private companies to feed off the pork barrel that is NASA contracts. hence the lack of private enterprise when it comes to space endeavours. However, i’m sure someone will, one day, come up with an extremely cheap way to get into orbit. once that happens, as Jeremy infers, big business will be all over it.

  4. andrei
    12/01/2004 at 3:34 am Permalink

    There is definitely room for improvement in the “basics of space travel”. Are Saturn rockets really the best and most efficient method?

    As for manned flights to Mars, there’s no way anybody with any intelligence can claim that we have the “basics” of that down, when it’s NEVER BEEN DONE! The single biggest hurdle to overcome is shielding the crew from the interplanetary radiation. The Moon is well within the Earth’s magnetic field, thus shielding astronauts. Sending people to Mars will be a magnitude more challenging than going to the Moon.

    I guess most liberals are getting torn-up inside, because they’d love the science fantasy of these missions, but would have to vote for GWB. Wow, what an awesome get-things-done President!

  5. andrei
    12/01/2004 at 12:53 pm Permalink

    Tony, perhaps I should have qualified my statement. “Basics of space travel” – reliably launching payloads into space (including humans) and returning them back to Earth. You cannot deny that this has been accomplished, despite the rare accidents. As for the Saturn rockets, of course there is room for improvement.

    Liberals may be getting torn up inside, but the smart(er) ones will recognize his announcement for what it is – a ploy to sway the voters in the next election.

  6. andrei
    12/01/2004 at 3:12 pm Permalink

    i’m no physics expert , but might it possible to generate an artificial magnetic field around the Mars ship – which would thus protect the crew from solar radiation?

    could maybe a tesla coil , or something like it, do that, powered by the nuclear engine??

    i kind of agree with andrei, in that yes – there is some electioneering going on. but i also think that dubya really doesn’t want the Chinese to beat the U.S. to Mars.

    there’s a military/neocon aspect to all of this – in terms of the technology development which could quite easily be put to military use.

  7. andrei
    13/01/2004 at 12:54 am Permalink

    No way – vote GWB in 2004 and we’re going to Mars!

    I don’t think we have the technology to generate a magnetic field of the strength required. It’d also add a lot of weight to the ship, and draw tons of power.

    I think we should continually expand our space frontiers.

  8. andrei
    14/01/2004 at 10:48 am Permalink

    See? GWB is all about ACTION, not mere WORDS. $1B increase in NASA’s budget over five years. It really is paltry compared to other Gov’t expenses. Hell, Bill Gates should be funding his own X-Prize project.
    (I would’ve linked it, but this blog strips HTML tags)

  9. andrei
    14/01/2004 at 1:09 pm Permalink

    It really IS paltry. I honestly was expecting something a bit more grandiose and concrete, rather than this load of political hot air and waffle. There was a heck of build up to this announcement in the media for the past week – and it turns out that it just amounts to $1 billion over 5 years. Chump change really.
    Who wants to bet that it will be either the Chinese or ESA (google “Aurora” ) who make it to Mars?

  10. andrei
    14/01/2004 at 1:25 pm Permalink

    What I don’t understand is GWB wants to withdraw the US from the Int’l Space Station. Why?

  11. andrei
    14/01/2004 at 2:46 pm Permalink

    yeah , that’s a bit weird, especially since its the Americans who contribute the lion’s share of the costs of it. but, i’m kind of glad about it – ISS is nothing but a huge white elephant with extremely poor mindshare with the general public.

    for the amount of money they spent on ISS you could have several hundred Spirit rovers…

  12. andrei
    14/01/2004 at 3:14 pm Permalink

    Yeah, but I still think it’s pretty cool ISS was built, it’s up there, and with people living on it for extended periods even.

    The experiments conducted on it have probably had some benefit, plus any advancements made in materials, construction, living, etc. It may even come in use some day as a building platform, way-station, …

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