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> Is Space Travel Worth It?, Headed for a New Industrial Revolution..
Is Space Travel Worth It?
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Piper Plexed
post Feb 17 2004, 01:46 AM
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In light of NASA's present research in Nano Technology, I say Yes!
QUOTE
-    Advanced miniaturization is a key thrust area to enable new science and exploration missions
-    Ultrasmall sensors, power sources, communication, navigation, and propulsion systems with very low mass, volume and power consumption are needed
-    Revolutions in electronics and computing will allow reconfigurable, autonomous, "thinking" spacecraft
-    Nanotechnology presents a whole new spectrum of opportunities to build device components and systems for entirely new space architectures
-    Networks of ultrasmall probes on planetary surfaces
-    Micro-rovers that drive, hop, fly, and burrow
-    Collection of microspacecraft making a variety of measurements
http://www.ipt.arc.nasa.gov/nanotechnology.html


The way I understand it Nano Technology will impact life as we know it in ways we are only beginning to fathom.
Some Examples:
QUOTE
The first products made from nanomachines will be stronger fibers. Eventually, we will be able to replicate anything, including diamonds, water and food. Famine could be eradicated by machines that fabricate foods to feed the hungry.

*    In the computer industry, the ability to shrink the size of transistors on silicon microprocessors will soon reach its limits. Nanotechnology will be needed to create a new generation of computer components. Molecular computers could contain storage devices capable of storing trillions of bytes of information in a structure the size of a sugar cube.

*    Nanotechnology may have its biggest impact on the medical industry. Patients will drink fluids containing nanorobots programmed to attack and reconstruct the molecular structure of cancer cells and viruses to make them harmless. There's even speculation that nanorobots could slow or reverse the aging process, and life expectancy could increase significantly.

*    Nanotechnology has the potential to have a positive effect on the environment. For instance, airborne nanorobots could be programmed to rebuild the thinning ozone layer. Contaminants could be automatically removed from water sources, and oil spills could be cleaned up instantly. Many resources could be constructed by nanomachines. Cutting down trees, mining coal or drilling for oil may no longer be necessary. Resources could simply be constructed by nanomachines.
http://science.howstuffworks.com/nanotechnology2.htm


Another interesting .gov link.
http://www.nano.gov/

Questions for Debate:

In light of this, Do you support Americas present focus on Space travel?


If not, How will we as a nation be able to retain our technological status in the world?
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Vermillion
post Feb 17 2004, 02:52 PM
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I suspect this topic will shortly be closed as it is the same as two other threads right below it, however, might I recommend you consult the thread on the ISS for my most recent diatribe:

Space exploration certainly has value, but I have yet to hear a moderatly convincing argument as to why manned space exploration has any point at this stage.
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Piper Plexed
post Feb 17 2004, 10:13 PM
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Quite Frankly, I did not wish to force other threads off topic with a discussion of this specific area of research within our space program. I believed at that point it was the appropriate step to assign nano technology it's own thread. Now if I was incorrect which is quite possible, I am sure the thread will be shut down.

Since I was directed to your most recent "diatribe" maybe a quote from it that pertains to the subject at hand may motivate reading of the question for debate.

QUOTE
I am all for space exploration, Mars and the rest of the solar system: to me Mars is dull, the Jovian moons are exciting. I am simply against the fantastic cost, great danger, and very limited return of manned space exploration. The Apollo program was a Cold war relic when competition in space was tied to national prestige, this is no longer anywhere near as much the case. The ISS has generated almost no excitemet at all. The Mars probes have to be sure, but that just goes further towards showing that an unmanned probe can generate excitement with far less cost in funds, resources and potentially lives.


Nano technology is at it's beginnings of development. It's technology will affect manned as well as unmanned spacecraft. NASA is one of many avenues the government has assigned to pursue it's technological application. The effects of this technology are far reaching and very exciting. Might you have any thoughts on this?
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santasdad
post Feb 19 2004, 06:15 AM
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Robotic telescopes are probably going to be answering the most important questions without any need for astronauts.

If NASAs TPF telescope launches on schedule we'll have images of earth sized worlds out to 40 ly within a decade. They will then be able to get a pretty good read on their atmospheric compositions and the odds that these imaged planets supports life as we know it. The Europeans have one on the drawing board as well.

Larger arrays of such telescopes will probably be giving us quality images of life bearing worlds ----long---- before any astronaut would be able to do anything about it.
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musicman55
post Feb 20 2004, 04:36 AM
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If they continue to develope the space program then we will gain new technology. With this new technology they can start to solve problems like how to dispose of nuclear waste. Simply send it into the sun in an unmaned space ship. The cost of making space shuttles will go drastically down as we continue to develope ways to make them cheeper and easier.
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Fox
post Feb 20 2004, 08:12 PM
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I have never bought the argument that the space program is worth the investment simply because technologies are created by our drive to go to space. If nanotechnology is the wave of the future, then there will be research on it with or without NASA. Let's use nanotech. to solve the problems here on earth rather than the problems of getting into and surviving in space. I am not a huge free market guru, but I think in this case the American free market will ensure our continued prominence in the world technology scene.
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Piper Plexed
post Feb 20 2004, 10:22 PM
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Fox Posted on Feb 20 2004, 03:12 PM
QUOTE
I am not a huge free market guru, but I think in this case the American free market will ensure our continued prominence in the world technology scene.


You know, I have always tended to feel that way also, though while I have researched Nano Tech, I have come to the conclusion that we really need Government involvement.
QUOTE
Why fund Nano technology?
Nano technology has the potential to profoundly change our economy and to improve our standard of living, in a manner not unlike the impact made by advances over the past two decades by information technology. While commercial products are starting to come to market, some of the major applications for Nano technology are five to ten years out. Private investors look for shorter-term returns on investment, more in the range of one to three years. Consequently, government support for basic research and development in its early stages is required in order to realize nano technology’s full potential and to maintain a competitive position in the worldwide Nano technology marketplace.


The other concern I have had is that we as a nation as well as our economy may be left in the dust if we are not on the cutting edge of the development of Nano Tech.
QUOTE
How does this spending compare to other countries?
The United States is not the only country to recognize the tremendous economic potential of Nano technology. While difficult to measure accurately, some have estimated that worldwide government funding has increased to about five times what it was in 1997, exceeding $2 billion in 2002. Asian countries, including Japan, China and Korea, as well as several European countries, have made leadership in nanotechnology national priorities.
http://www.nano.gov/html/res/faqs.html


Where will we be economically if we aren't there for the big Score? What if we don't own the right patents? Where will all of the jobs end up?
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Fox
post Feb 20 2004, 11:18 PM
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QUOTE
While commercial products are starting to come to market, some of the major applications for Nano technology are five to ten years out. Private investors look for shorter-term returns on investment, more in the range of one to three years.

Corporations are large enough now that they can afford to look beyond that one to three year research-to-market time frame.

QUOTE(Piper Plexed @ Feb 20 2004, 10:22 PM)
The other concern I have had is that we as a nation as well as our economy may be left in the dust if we are not on the cutting edge of the development of Nano Tech.

Where will we be economically if we aren't there for the big Score? What if we don't own the right patents? Where will all of the jobs end up?

I would be interested in hearing from a business or economics major about the real impact of technology investment by the federal government on a nation's economy. It seems that we're pretty good at stealing technology from Asian countries, changing it enough that we don't violate patent laws, improving upon it through private industry, and selling it back to them and the rest of the world.

I lean left socially, but I'm more moderate fiscally. I want to see that national debt paid down. Show me the money! Even if it is the legitimate role of government to finance nanotech research, why do they have to do it in the guise of a space program? Just fund the research through universities and tech companies.
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Piper Plexed
post Feb 21 2004, 12:27 AM
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OK here is the NNS Budget: http://www.nano.gov/html/about/nnibudget.html
Budget, was $792 million.
A list of budget beneficiares
DHS— Department of Homeland Security
DOC —Department of Commerce
DOD— Department of Defense
DOE— Department of Energy
DOJ— Department of Justice
DOT— Department of Transportation
EPA— Environmental Protection Agency
HHS— Health and Human Services
NASA—National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NIH— National Institutes of Health
NIST— National Institute of Standards and Technology
NSF— National Science Foundation
TSA— Transportation Security Administration
USDA— U.S. Department of Agriculture

Actually NASA is a Mid to low level beneficiary see link. NSF is the greatest (Universities and Research) Now how I stumbled onto all of this; I was researching any Nano Tech companies publicly traded, I wanted to invest, Hubby and I wanted to get in on the ground floor. Aside of a few major Corps. where Nano Tech is a subsidiary to normal course of business

QUOTE
Nano is receiving enthusiastic scrutiny from some big companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index. Led by IBM (IBM ), Lucent Technologies (LU ), and Hewlett-Packard (HWP ), along with Samsung (SSNLF ) and Siemens (SI )
http://www.businessweek.com/bw50/content/m...02/a3776078.htm

There really wasn't much going on except for our Government. Now my feeling on the matter is any course of research forwards the cause. The unique requirements of space travel and exploration could yield results beyond what we could ever fathom today. I really don't know if I would want to impede any progress in the research.

This post has been edited by Piper Plexed: Feb 21 2004, 12:28 AM
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Izdaari
post Feb 21 2004, 01:56 PM
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There's very little that human beings do that will matter more than space exploration in the long run. Ultimately that may be what saves the human race from extinction; diversification to other planets and stars will preserve the species in case of, for example, a massive meteorite strike or (God forbid) a nuclear war.

But I must disagree with the apparent premise of the poll, that government must always be the only actor in exploring space. Burt Rutan's current privately funded space project appears to me to show mure promise than anything NASA is doing. But then Rutan is an aerospace engineering genius and NASA has become a hidebound bureaucracy, run by the CYA career bureaucrats instead of by the astronauts. Maybe NASA can still be saved, but not without a massive management shakeup and a complete reform of its organizational culture.

This post has been edited by Izdaari: Feb 21 2004, 01:58 PM
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Frediano
post Feb 23 2004, 08:55 PM
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Absolutely.

In this Universe, gradients drive everything, and stasis is death. Couldn't be clearer.

regards,
Frediano
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Fox
post Feb 23 2004, 10:22 PM
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QUOTE(Frediano @ Feb 23 2004, 08:55 PM)
In this Universe, gradients drive everything, and stasis is death.   Couldn't be clearer.

Gradients?
Merriam Webster
1 a : the rate of regular or graded ascent or descent : INCLINATION b : a part sloping upward or downward
2 : change in the value of a quantity (as temperature, pressure, or concentration) with change in a given variable and especially per unit distance in a specified direction
3 : the vector sum of the partial derivatives with respect to the three coordinate variables x, y, and z of a scalar quantity whose value varies from point to point
4 : a graded difference in physiological activity along an axis (as of the body or an embryonic field)
5 : change in response with distance from the stimulus

It isn't very clear to me at all. Gradients drive everything? Stasis is death?? These are Universal laws???

Yours perplexedly,
Fox
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Jaime
post Feb 23 2004, 10:27 PM
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QUOTE(Frediano @ Feb 23 2004, 03:55 PM)
Absolutely.

In this Universe, gradients drive everything, and stasis is death.   Couldn't be clearer.

regards,
Frediano

Please avoid posting one-liners. They are not constructive and are hard to debate.
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Hobbes
post Feb 23 2004, 10:32 PM
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QUOTE
Robotic telescopes are probably going to be answering the most important questions without any need for astronauts.


Not necessarily. You have to remember that one of the main questions being asked is "Can Man exist there?" Tough to definitely answer that one unless you actually send Man there.

Also, you need to consider that many of the side benefits derived from space technology are due solely to the fact that they were necessary to put and keep Man in that environment.

Does this mean that the pros and cons of sending humans on specific missions shouldn't be considered? Absolutely not. I do believe that many missions can and should be accomplished without astronauts. But that can only get you so far--at some point, sending humans IS the mission.
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Vermillion
post Feb 24 2004, 08:05 PM
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QUOTE(Hobbes @ Feb 23 2004, 10:32 PM)
But that can only get you so far--at some point, sending humans IS the mission.

I am not entirely willing to accept that. Why have we not sent a human to the bottom of the deepest parts of the ocean? We know less about it then we do about Mars, we KNOW it contains life and discoveries which will expand our understanding of biology and life on earth. I have read estimates that literally hundreds of thousands of completely unknown species likely live down there.

Sending someone down there would be very difficult, but I am willing to be it could be done for the cost of a single shuttle launch ($500 million dollars) or, in a pinch, two shuttle launches (1 billion dollars)

My point is, Mars and the moon are uninhabitable. With the cold war over, the propaganda value of saying 'we did it' is lessened. I am not against this kind of exploration and discovery, clearly there still is SOME propaganda/ PR value of walking on Mars... but I am against it when the cost for an attempt is measured in the tens of billions, and the risk to life is high, while the returnes are essentially zero.

You can build a modern Hospital for about 30 million. You can equip it with the absolute latest in high tech gadgets in all fields for about 50 million. You can pay a hospital staff of 100 to work there for their entire lives for about 20 million.

Thats 100 million dollars, to build equip and staff in perpetuity a damned impressive hospital. How many times does 75 million go into 10 billion? 100 I believe?

Can you tell me ONE trip to mars and back is worth more to the US then 100 fully staffed and equipped Johns Hopkins Universities around the country?


Look, space travel is cool, I watched Star trek too. And it should be continued, automated probes and the like should continue to expand our knowledge of the solar system and the universe. Eventually, once the technology allows it and the price has gone down, I think we should send people to mars. But right now it is a lot of risk and a LOT of money for a one-shot something which has a balance sheet return of zero.

This post has been edited by Vermillion: Feb 24 2004, 08:08 PM
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smorpheus
post Feb 25 2004, 11:23 AM
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Although I do support NASA and space exploration, I don't understand why Republicans do... I mean shouldn't it (from a republican "slim government" perspective) be left to the private sector?

However, I would like to point out that space programs fit in nicely with a socialist-style government. Yes, we did eventually win the space war with USSR, but they led us every step of the way up to the moon.

So what's the REAL reason Repubs are always all for it? It's patriotic? I dunno.
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Hobbes
post Feb 26 2004, 06:00 AM
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Vermillion,

I think we are arriving at the same place, simply from opposite directions smile.gif. As I also stated, I do think the pros and cons (ie--risks and returns) need to be considered when deciding whether a space mission should be manned or not. Currently, the pendulum is probably too far in favor of manned missions--but let's try to make sure it swings back to the middle, rather than too far on the other side.
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santasdad
post Feb 28 2004, 04:40 PM
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Manned will eventually give us some thrills but in my lifetime the most important finds will most likely come from probes.

Not saying that manned isnt fun but it shouldnt be the primary focus when our propulsion technology is so limited.
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santasdad
post Mar 2 2004, 12:24 AM
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Speaking of important finds by probes, NASA is giving a press conference at 2pm tomorrow in Washington DC. Speculation is that they have found liquid water on the surface of mars in the form of salty mud that is too briny to freeze. All the news reports i've read have the scientists holding their tongues.
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nikachu
post Mar 11 2004, 12:27 PM
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Is their much to attract the private sector into space travel?

I know the Russians have taken up 'Space Tourism' and satellites have commercial uses, but unless Mars turns out to be full of resources (and no, there won't be oil) I can't see much commercial applications at the moment.

I think NASA should focus on the high concept advances that are commercially unviable to research, but would bring economic benefits once achieved.

Space exploration / travel does seem to be something that the private sector could be involved in, possibly with the government as a customer.
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