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Justanotherrandomguy
2007-Nov-28, 06:50 PM
In the twenty-first century what can we realistically hope for in terms of space exploration. Could we reach the Oort Cloud, will there be a Mars Base or even a Titan Base, could we explore the oceans of Europa, getting even more ambitious would it be possible for us to send a probe to Alpha Centauri. Considering what they thought in 1900, how impressed would they be with our progress in 2000?

Noclevername
2007-Nov-28, 08:12 PM
Well, we are talking about a whole century here. In one hundred years, we went from steam trains to Moon landing, from telegraph to high-speed internet. And now we have an even faster rate of change ramping up, so predictions will be even harder to get right.

There almost certainly will be a permanent Moon base and probably a Mars base, certaily more than one Mars visit. We might send a probe to the Kuiper belt, I'm not so sure about the Oort cloud. Considering there are already (very sketchy) plans for probes to Europa, I'm sure we'll have done something there. Titan might be visited, but probably not a permanent base. Interstellar probe, probably not.

Asteroid mining may have begun at least on a preliminary level. By century's end, the first child will probably have been born in space, and may be old enough to have a child or two. A few orbital space habitats will have been built, and at least one will have made a go of being materially independant of Earth (and knowing human nature, will possibly declare itself politically independant too).

On the downside, the first actual space-to-space combat will probably have taken place.

Justanotherrandomguy
2007-Nov-28, 08:26 PM
We might send a probe to the Kuiper belt,

Well that much I think is likely seeing as we have one hurtling towards there already, to explore two of the biggest known Kuiper Belt Objects in 2015... ;)

antoniseb
2007-Nov-28, 08:42 PM
In the twenty-first century what can we realistically hope for in terms of space exploration...
There are a lot of unknowns to be resolved before any kind of non-open-ended answer can be given.

If you are asking about manned missions, I'd expect human presence on the Moon, Mars, and numerous asteroids. I'd expect robotic presence in a big way just about everywhere else in the Solar System, including several interstellar probes (not going to other stars, just getting out toward the Oort cloud, not to see cold comets, but to measure stuff from far away).

What happens depends on the advancement of nanotechnology (including bu not limited to carbon nanotubes), electronics, and other technologies.

Noclevername
2007-Nov-28, 08:52 PM
We might send a probe to the Kuiper belt,

Well that much I think is likely seeing as we have one hurtling towards there already, to explore two of the biggest known Kuiper Belt Objects in 2015... ;)

That's the one I meant.

No, really.


:doh:

IsaacKuo
2007-Nov-28, 08:57 PM
would it be possible for us to send a probe to Alpha Centauri.

I'd say it's possible for us to send at least a flyby probe to Alpha Centauri, but that the amount of scientific return for that investment is perhaps too small to be worth it. I have some ideas for methods to accomplish this with mostly existing technology, but there's no getting around a very large amount of mass that must be launched into space (a large and heavy X-ray laser).

A much lower investment of launch mass in the form of large "eyeglass" or "loopglass" space telescopes could provide much the same scientific return, without even waiting for probes to trek across interstellar space for many years.

KaiYeves
2007-Nov-28, 08:58 PM
The only limitation is our imagination.
Edited: (And the laws of physics.)

Noclevername
2007-Nov-28, 08:59 PM
The only limitation is our imagination.

And the laws of physics. :)

EDIT: Unfortunately, we rarely seem to approach our full potential. We just seem to sort of mediocre along...

antoniseb
2007-Nov-28, 09:03 PM
The only limitation is our imagination.
And our budget, and our available resources, and (as noted above) the laws of physics.

Doodler
2007-Nov-28, 09:03 PM
By 2099? I'm hoping to celebrate my 124th birthday, truth be told.

In terms of spaceflight:

I see civilian colonies in LEO and on the Moon, with some level of preparation for full scale colonization of Ceres and Mars underway.

I expect to see the first pure spacecraft, built in orbit with no intention of ever landing on a planet, designed for regular transit duty between the Earth and Moon.

I expect to see the first skirmish level battles fought on the Lunar surface between habitats from competing corporations.

I expect to see the first violent crime in orbit.

I predict rovers will crawl across the Mercurian and Venusian surface, with airborne probes on Mars, Venus and, Titan.

I predict a significant level of militarization of orbital space by the end of the century, particularly if unmanned spaceflight capability expands significantly into other nations.

Romanus
2007-Nov-28, 10:02 PM
I've always taken a middle-of-the-road approach on space exploration by the end of this century.

One one hand, I think a visitor from today spirited forward to 2100 would be underwhelmed. Basic electronics aside, I don't think the overall technology, materials, and fuels will be much different. I don't think we'll have a space elevator, or independent off-world colonies, and I think space industry outside of power generation and material for in situ use will be only modest. I don't think we'll be much closer to even an unmanned interstellar mission than we are now.

On the other, more optimistic hand, I think the top news of the century will the democratization of space travel. I won't be surprised to see space tourism--hotels and all, even as far as the Moon--become big business in as little as a generation. I think the existence of *several* permanent Moon bases is a near-certainty, and I think the chance of at least one on Mars is better than even. Manned missions to the asteroid belt, and even maybe the outer moons Jupiter aren't out of the question.

For landlubbers, I think tools like GPS and Google Earth are just the beginning; private and public satellite technology integrated more fully into the Internet may make it possible for Joe Blow to be even more informed about what's happening in every odd corner of the globe compared to today--if he cares to look, of course.

By 2100, everything we think we know about the Solar System now will seem almost quaint, due to various unmanned and manned missions gathering ever more data and filling in more blanks. We'll probably know enough about exoplanets to put together Sagan's Encylopedia Galactica, for real, especially if we up up a possible next generation of space telescopes beyond Darwin and GAIA.

filrabat
2007-Dec-02, 07:28 AM
There are a lot of unknowns to be resolved before any kind of non-open-ended answer can be given.

If you are asking about manned missions, I'd expect human presence on the Moon, Mars, and numerous asteroids. I'd expect robotic presence in a big way just about everywhere else in the Solar System, including several interstellar probes (not going to other stars, just getting out toward the Oort cloud, not to see cold comets, but to measure stuff from far away).

What happens depends on the advancement of nanotechnology (including bu not limited to carbon nanotubes), electronics, and other technologies.

I essentially agree with antoniseb. To elaborate, the "other technologies" include matters IMO even more important than better thrusters - namely things related to our "inner space" that will help humanity go beyond this planet in the first place.

BIOLOGICAL-PHYSIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (these will ultimately be interconnected. For clarity's sake, one at a time)

DNA engineering: allow us to cure many, if not most cancers. Slow down the aging process, perhaps redesign our maturation process so that we don't begin sexually mature until our brain's fully developed and even our mating preferences (ok, the last two were WAG's - given understandable human fear at redesigning ourselves. But I'm only going by what I think is theoretically possible, not actual use of those techniques)

Neurology: all stuff about the brain applies here. I also expect that we will have gone a long way to identifying the roots of, and thereby achieving some significant control over the worst aspects of mental disorders (psychopathy, excessive narcissism, abuse, other anti-social types of personalities, perhaps even -- important when you realize how important social cohesion and cooperation). There'll still be heartaches and sadness, of course; but we will have more insight into how and why we think the way we do.

Nanotechnology: combine all this with micrometer, if not nanometer, scale programable machines and we will essentially be able to design a human being better equipped to handle space environment (if necessary to implement). Again, expect tremendously heated controversy over "foolishly changing human nature", becoming "spiritual slaves of technology" - on a similar scale not dissimilar to our heated debates about abortion and euthanasia.

Regardless, I think there a few Moon bases, perhaps even a Mars base or two (this millneium's Antarctica, so to speak, only without ecological concerns). We may even have a regular presence in the asteroid belt, given it's mining potential. Venus is a question mark, given its hostile environment it'll originally get LOTS of scary publicity/press.

LEO - Several small orbitals. Research stations, certainly. If not in the 21st century, then certainly in the next, there'll probably be a LEO prison for the most heinous offenders (certainly some private space company will come up with this one). Also, half a chance some private space company will launch a habitat to be populated with idealists, misfits, "hippies" or that era's equivalent, or other kind of eccentric group - to get away from "polluted surface culture", etc.

All in all, it's difficult to know what 2040 will be like - let alone 2099

3rdvogon
2007-Dec-04, 05:22 PM
I essentially agree with antoniseb. To elaborate, the "other technologies" include matters IMO even more important than better thrusters - namely things related to our "inner space" that will help humanity go beyond this planet in the first place.

BIOLOGICAL-PHYSIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (these will ultimately be interconnected. For clarity's sake, one at a time)



I think you are generally correct there Filrabat. It will be the combination of other technologies that are not directly tied to space exploration that will have the bigest impact on our future. As you have suggested these will change the very nature of what it means to BE Human along with our understanding of what makes Humans function the way that they do. These will have profound implications upon how individual humans grow and age (or do not age) as well as how we interface with external data sources.

New materials and tools will enable us to do things with ourselves and with robots both large and nanoscale which will seem amazing by today's standards. Each of these technologies will be of great benefit for both the robotic exploration of our solar system as well as enabling biological humans to cope better "off-world".

However unless all of our current understanding of physics has been moving up a "blind alley" then we will still be stuck with the limitations of physical laws as we understand them. This will mean sending any vehicle beyond the inner solar system is going involved flight times measured in years not weeks. Attempting to move any more quickly is going to involve collosal demands of reaction mass that we will regard it as simply not worth the effort. Likewise sending anything beyond our solar system is going to be a very slow process. That said if we ever (though highly unlikely in this century) attempt to send humans beyond the Orbit of Pluto then improved cellular regeneration and extended human lifespan will be essential precursors.

As others have said by the end of this century permanent or near permanent presences on both the Moon and Mars are likely. We will also have probably surveyed and sampled all the planets and moons within the solar system with a high level of precision - though I would hesitate to estimate how much that is done remotely or by humans visiting those places. Beyond that I would expect that we will have a number huge space based telescope arrays operating right across the electromagnetic spectrum which will all us to not only image but gather a considerable amount of information from planets orbiting nearby stars down to including Mars sized worlds. This will at least allow us to fill in a few more gaps in the drake equation. By then it will be possible to produce a reasonable estimate as to how common earth sized rocky worlds are within the Milky Way, not only that but how commonly they occur at the optimum distance from their sun for liquid water to exist. We should also be able to detect the chemical signatures of any ecosystems (if there are any), even if we have no way of determining what sort of complexity of life there might be there. This will at least allow us to put together a galaxy wide probability model for how frequently life occurs - the one question we will probably not be able to answer will be is how often does life go on to become intelligent or civilised. Though if we find a fair number of planets with the signatures of life but no signs of industry or electronic signals then we may have to assume the evolutionary leap from exo-Rat to exo-Homoerrectus is much more improbable event than some people today might expect.

RGClark
2007-Dec-06, 08:10 PM
Good question. Revolutionary developments often come faster than we expect. Remember the shock when "Dolly" the first cloned sheep was announced?
I imagine many scientifically educated people had a similar shock back in the '40's when the first atomic bomb was announced. And recently there was much discussion during the 50th anniversary of Sputnik of the impact that it had at the time on the world's consciousness.
There are two developments that I think are around the corner that I think will have a revolutionary impact. The first I think will be purely beneficial, the second will have great positive effects, but unfortunately possibly great negative effects as well. The first is applications of "negative refractive index" materials. I discuss this here:

Newsgroups: sci.astro, sci.physics, alt.sci.planetary, sci.med, sci.bio.misc
From: "Robert Clark" <rgregorycl...@yahoo.com>
Date: 1 Mar 2007 13:17:30 -0800
Local: Thurs, Mar 1 2007 4:17 pm
Subject: New 'superlens' will revolutionize astronomy, medicine, biology.
http://groups.google.com/group/sci.astro/browse_thread/thread/663154893ba5f80/

In regards to astronomy, I believe it will make possible tremendous increases in resolution that will no longer be limited by diameter size of the aperture (something previously thought impossible.)

The second development is worrisome. I believe harnessing of antimatter for energy and propulsion is coming near term. This will make conquest of the entire solar system routine. And it will also likely make possible at least unmanned sublight scout missions to the nearest star systems.
I mention a few possible ways antimatter could be stored here:

Newsgroups: sci.astro, sci.physics, sci.physics.relativity, sci.physics.fusion, sci.energy
From: Robert Clark <rgregorycl...@yahoo.com>
Date: Sat, 27 Oct 2007 14:36:36 -0700
Local: Sat, Oct 27 2007 4:36 pm
Subject: Re: Startling amounts of stored energy in fully ionized plasmas.
http://groups.google.com/group/sci.astro/msg/0dab3668e29e736f

However, the tremendous energy release possible with antimatter of course means it would be studied for use as a weapon:

Air Force pursuing antimatter weapons
Program was touted publicly, then came official gag order.
Keay Davidson, Chronicle Science Writer
Monday, October 4, 2004
"...the Air Force has been investigating the possibility of making use of a powerful positron-generating accelerator under development at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash. One goal: to see if positrons generated by the accelerator can be stored for long periods inside a new type of "antimatter trap" proposed by scientists, including Washington State physicist Kelvin Lynn, head of the school's Center for Materials Research.
"A new generation of military explosives is worth developing, and antimatter might fill the bill, Lynn told The Chronicle: "If we spend another $10 billion (using ordinary chemical techniques), we're going to get better high explosives, but the gains are incremental because we're getting near the theoretical limits of chemical energy."
"Besides, Lynn is enthusiastic about antimatter because he believes it could propel futuristic space rockets.
"I think," he said, "we need to get off this planet, because I'm afraid we're going to destroy it."
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2004/10/04/MNGM393GPK1.DTL

Lynn is a leading researcher on the storage of antimatter. That he would say this is not reassuring in the least.


Bob Clark

Noclevername
2007-Dec-06, 10:39 PM
The most we could hope for this century is a "technology singularity"-- the development of a conscious AI that thinks so much better than us that it solves all our problems for us. But we can't expect that, or replicating nanoassemblers, or mass production of carbon nanotubes, or build-a-bod human genetic engineering, or mind downloads, or anti-aging treatments, any of the other thousand and one whiz-bangs that are possible but of unknown probability.

Lord Jubjub
2007-Dec-06, 11:51 PM
All this speculation depends on the fact that Western Civilization will not have undergone some kind of catastrophic meltdown.

antoniseb
2007-Dec-07, 01:09 AM
All this speculation depends on the fact that Western Civilization will not have undergone some kind of catastrophic meltdown.
True, though the OP was about hope.

KaiYeves
2007-Dec-07, 02:17 AM
True, though the OP was about hope.
"...the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops- at all.

And sweetest in the gale is heard
And sore would be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm." - Emily Dickenson

Noclevername
2007-Dec-07, 03:22 AM
All this speculation depends on the fact that Western Civilization will not have undergone some kind of catastrophic meltdown.

Or any of the others we share a world with, most of whom are having far worse problems than us, have far more people living (on average) in far worse conditions than us, and if they go, might drag us down with them.

Zachary
2007-Dec-07, 09:36 AM
I honestly think space exploration won't make many huge leaps forward in this century. I'm basing this on one key assumption which may be a load of honk; that mankind will still have to rely on rockets to get into orbit for the majority of the century at least.

The inescapable fact about getting into orbit is that it costs a huge amount of energy, which in turn requires large rockets which cost large sums of money. Chemistry is a science which has advanced at an agonisingly slow pace compared to other fields such as nanotechnology and electronics, and I think it's a fairly safe bet to say we won't be developing some sort of wonderfuel that can liberate 100x more energy than the O2 boosters we use nowadays.

What I'm trying to get at is that to launch stuff into space ton-for-ton won't be much cheaper in 50 years than it is nowadays if we're still using rockets; not more than an order of magnitude anyways. So the state of space in 100 years depends less on technological advancement and more on how much richer civilisation is, and how much of their money and resources will people in the future want to blow on space.

That's a lot of ifs and buts, but predicting the future is notoriously tricky. Maybe if we get enough BAUTers posting what they think will happen one of us will get it right by accident ;)

IsaacKuo
2007-Dec-07, 02:30 PM
What I'm trying to get at is that to launch stuff into space ton-for-ton won't be much cheaper in 50 years than it is nowadays if we're still using rockets; not more than an order of magnitude anyways.

Sure, assuming chemical powered rockets, like you seem to be assuming. But there are other types of rockets also. In particular, laser powered rockets may offer inexpensive space launch within the next century. The key is solid state laser technology, which enjoys a fast pace of progress thanks to basic technological potential and lots of profitable terrestrial applications.

Laser thermal rockets could offer twice the specific impulse of chemical rockets, while still having sufficient thrust for surface launch. That's enough performance for practical SSTO's, which would minimize operating overhead.

publiusr
2007-Dec-07, 08:40 PM
This may seem a bit much--but I think Mankind's fate rests on Mike Griffin remaining NASA chief.

Otherwise, spaceflight will amount to weather sats and LEO-laps--before the next big war/disaster where NASA gets raided again.

Daffy
2007-Dec-07, 08:47 PM
There almost certainly will be a permanent Moon base and probably a Mars base, certaily more than one Mars visit. We might send a probe to the Kuiper belt, I'm not so sure about the Oort cloud. Considering there are already (very sketchy) plans for probes to Europa, I'm sure we'll have done something there. Titan might be visited, but probably not a permanent base. Interstellar probe, probably not.

Maybe...but I can almost guarantee it will NOT be Americans doing it (which is fine by me, as long as someone does it!). The US has lost its nerve with a population only concerned with playing with shiny objects and arguing about nonsense like ID.

Reynoldbot
2007-Dec-08, 02:20 AM
In 100 years we could do quite a bit. If granted unlimited funds, I could expect to see a colony on the moon, multiple manned missions to mars, and whole swarms of probes sent out to every nook and cranny of the solar system and further.

But, realistically I wouldn't be surprised if we hadn't accomplished any manned exploration in 100 years. The upcoming lunar mission could be cancelled at a moment's notice and there is no national drive for exploration any more. I figure in 100 years, we may go back to the moon and a bunch more probes will be sent out and that's it. We need another arms buildup or something.

loglo
2007-Dec-09, 03:43 PM
We need another arms buildup or something.

Funny, I was thinking the opposite!

Noclevername
2007-Dec-09, 08:18 PM
The upcoming lunar mission could be cancelled at a moment's notice and there is no national drive for exploration any more.

There's plenty of national drive for exploration. Unfortunately none of those nations are the U.S., but they're there. With so many trying, it's a safe bet that someone will get there.

Damburger
2007-Dec-13, 04:16 PM
If the elites of the world horde what is left of the planets rapidly depleting oil in order to guard their material privileges, there may not be enough resources left for serious space exploration. A society with declining energy reserves, and thus declining productive capacity, cannot launch any kind of serious colonisation effort unless those who benefit from that productive capacity are willing to give up a large part of that benefit.

In predicting whether or not something will happen, ask yourself if it will make the super-rich even richer. Then you have your answer.

Noclevername
2007-Dec-13, 05:48 PM
In predicting whether or not something will happen, ask yourself if it will make the super-rich even richer. Then you have your answer.

Uh, hoarding oil doesn't make you richer. Selling oil makes you richer.

KaiYeves
2007-Dec-13, 09:52 PM
Yeah, plus you're forgeting that there's more geeks in the world than elites. If they do that, we can have a geek revolution!
Liberty, equality, space!

Noclevername
2007-Dec-13, 11:03 PM
In 100 years we could do quite a bit. If granted unlimited funds, I could expect to see a colony on the moon, multiple manned missions to mars, and whole swarms of probes sent out to every nook and cranny of the solar system and further.


Given unlimited funding, we could do those things in thirty years. Given realistic funding, maybe fifty to seventy-five.

stutefish
2007-Dec-15, 12:40 AM
Personally, I look at the current rate of technological advancement, and I think the sky's the limit.

My imagination tends towards solving the main problems of human spaceflight, with the development of custom-designed artificial bodies better suited to the radiation and zero/micro-gravity space environment; and the construction of space habitats both orbital and mobile by private hobbyists' clubs.

neilzero
2007-Dec-21, 02:28 AM
The stuff we do late in this century, assumiming prosparity continues, depends on break thoughs we make the next decade or two. Will we mass produce CNT = carbon nano tubes or something even stronger? Will we mass produce room temperature super conductors? Will we have practical space elevators, fusion, SSP = space solar power? Gigawatt (average power) lasers?
If the world ecconomy is bad the last half of this century we may make little progress after 2050. Neil

Damburger
2007-Dec-21, 07:57 AM
Yeah, plus you're forgeting that there's more geeks in the world than elites. If they do that, we can have a geek revolution!
Liberty, equality, space!

Duh. Thats why they invented World of Warcraft, to keep geeks distracted.

KaiYeves
2007-Dec-21, 08:31 PM
Duh. Thats why they invented World of Warcraft, to keep geeks distracted.
But we are talking now and we know the truth! This is how the revolution begins!

Noclevername
2007-Dec-26, 11:33 PM
Personally, I look at the current rate of technological advancement, and I think the sky's the limit.

My imagination tends towards solving the main problems of human spaceflight, with the development of custom-designed artificial bodies better suited to the radiation and zero/micro-gravity space environment; and the construction of space habitats both orbital and mobile by private hobbyists' clubs.

If we could design artificial bodies, who needs habitats? We could live anywhere, including deep space. But it may not even be possible to do so, and if it is, I doubt it'll happen this century. Or next, for that matter. But the problems of zero-g and radiation are solveable using existing technology-- spinning, well-shielded spacecraft. It's not so much a matter of technology as of priority and effort; the materials just need to be put where they're needed.

JohnBStone
2007-Dec-28, 03:53 PM
In the twenty-first century what can we realistically hope for in terms of space exploration.
I guess intelligent or semi-intelligent autonomous probes will have gone most everywhere significant in-system. They could be exploring the Oort cloud by moving from asteroid to asteroid, using either ice or other common material to refuel their drives and possibly using local raw materials in nano-factories to repair themselves.

Without general purpose nano-factories (or similar) I don't see much (if any) of a human presence off-Earth. Though I guess we will learn a lot about terraforming from the geo-engineering projects we undertake to tackle global warming.

I suspect we will have a deliberately captured asteroid or three in Earth orbit by 2100 (one per major space power?). Which we use as habitat and as manufacturing platforms for space probes and orbital assets, probably including an interstellar program.

Noclevername
2007-Dec-29, 06:39 AM
Without general purpose nano-factories (or similar) I don't see much (if any) of a human presence off-Earth.

Why? What about just using the exisiting plans for space-adapted manufacturing methods and biological-based life support? These ideas have been and continue to be developed using only existing and easily reached near-term technology. Space colonization doesn't need Wondertech to become a practical reality. It's perfectly feasible using only simple engineering and application of known methods.


I suspect we will have a deliberately captured asteroid or three in Earth orbit by 2100 (one per major space power?). Which we use as habitat and as manufacturing platforms for space probes and orbital assets, probably including an interstellar program.

Why not just use them where they are? Dragging them to Earth orbit will be more difficult-- and far more dangerous-- than sending a manned manufacturing platform to a convenient NEO.

clint
2007-Dec-31, 03:39 AM
There are a lot of unknowns to be resolved before any kind of non-open-ended answer can be given.

If you are asking about manned missions, I'd expect human presence on the Moon, Mars, and numerous asteroids. I'd expect robotic presence in a big way just about everywhere else in the Solar System, including several interstellar probes (not going to other stars, just getting out toward the Oort cloud, not to see cold comets, but to measure stuff from far away).

What happens depends on the advancement of nanotechnology (including bu not limited to carbon nanotubes), electronics, and other technologies.

Another big unknown here: what exactly will a human and a robot look like at the end of this century - the difference between the two might become blurry.

clint
2007-Dec-31, 04:30 AM
There's plenty of national drive for exploration. Unfortunately none of those nations are the U.S., but they're there. With so many trying, it's a safe bet that someone will get there.

Actually, I would be surprised to find 'nations' still dominate space exploration by 2100.
Private enterprise should be the key factor by then.

Damburger
2007-Dec-31, 09:54 AM
Actually, I would be surprised to find 'nations' still dominate space exploration by 2100.
Private enterprise should be the key factor by then.

Highly unlikely. The inherent short-sighted nature of private enterprise makes it poorly suited to space exploration. The current lack of anything worthwhile from the private sector (even given all the public resources they've been handed) bears this out. The whole 'space enterprise' thing is just a silly dream of entrepreneurs and free market ideologues.

KaiYeves
2007-Dec-31, 08:26 PM
The whole 'space enterprise' thing is just a silly dream of entrepreneurs and free market ideologues.
I am rubber, you are glue...
(Common schoolyard response to insults in my primary school days)

stutefish
2007-Dec-31, 11:28 PM
Highly unlikely. The inherent short-sighted nature of private enterprise makes it poorly suited to space exploration. The current lack of anything worthwhile from the private sector (even given all the public resources they've been handed) bears this out. The whole 'space enterprise' thing is just a silly dream of entrepreneurs and free market ideologues.
Which is exactly why I'm betting on privately-funded space enthusiast clubs, many of whose members are funding their spacefaring dreams by getting rich in long-proven terrestrial private eneterprises.

clint
2008-Jan-01, 04:43 PM
The whole 'space enterprise' thing is just a silly dream of entrepreneurs and free market ideologues.

Silly or not, they look like beating all state-funded ventures to the moon this time:
http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/

Quite a bit less expensive, too ;)

KaiYeves
2008-Jan-01, 04:48 PM
And don't you like rooting for the little guy, Damburger?

Damburger
2008-Jan-01, 06:34 PM
Silly or not, they look like beating all state-funded ventures to the moon this time:
http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/

Quite a bit less expensive, too ;)

Has yet to produce on iota of, well, anything. Even if it does result in a lunar launch it doesn't necessarily follow that it will lead to anything.


And don't you like rooting for the little guy, Damburger?

I don't consider millionaires and billionaires playing astronaut to be the 'little guy'. You can't possibly believe that the massively rich sending themselves and their peers into space will somehow translate into anything that will benefit the population at large.

Daffy
2008-Jan-01, 08:32 PM
I don't consider millionaires and billionaires playing astronaut to be the 'little guy'. You can't possibly believe that the massively rich sending themselves and their peers into space will somehow translate into anything that will benefit the population at large.

Well, it'll create jobs...jobs that will pay less and less (when factoring inflation) every year.

Damburger
2008-Jan-01, 09:04 PM
Well, it'll create jobs...jobs that will pay less and less (when factoring inflation) every year.

Trickle-down economics? Are you kidding me?

KaiYeves
2008-Jan-02, 12:39 AM
I don't consider millionaires and billionaires playing astronaut to be the 'little guy'. You can't possibly believe that the massively rich sending themselves and their peers into space will somehow translate into anything that will benefit the population at large.
But certainly the governments are the 'big guys'.

Daffy
2008-Jan-02, 01:01 AM
Trickle-down economics? Are you kidding me?

Yes, having lived through the years since we were blessed with Reaganomics, I feel I have been trickled on quite enough, thank you.

Damburger
2008-Jan-02, 01:08 AM
But certainly the governments are the 'big guys'.

Yes, and what does that have to do with it? The world isn't quite as simple as you are making out.

Ilya
2008-Jan-02, 03:27 AM
You can't possibly believe that the massively rich sending themselves and their peers into space will somehow translate into anything that will benefit the population at large.

Yes, I can. If nothing else, these "rich and their peers" create an incentive for launch companies to come up with cheaper designs, which does not exist when government is the only customer.

ASEI
2008-Jan-02, 05:52 AM
In my more pessimistic moments - I hope we can keep from butchering each other, using forces that reason taught us to master, over figments of our imaginations that should have died with the dark ages.

On a more positive note - if we built some serious moon bases, and set up a catapult to get some serious mass into space, that would be a good accomplishment, IMO. If we restarted the nuclear revolution in a big way and created some good nuclear engines for interplanetary missions and bases (not to mention squishing the "energy crisis" on earth like a bug), that would also be good.

Damburger
2008-Jan-02, 12:19 PM
Yes, I can. If nothing else, these "rich and their peers" create an incentive for launch companies to come up with cheaper designs, which does not exist when government is the only customer.

Its hardly a mass market is it? The technology to do what is currently being done in space has been around for decades, and what you describe hasn't happened. I can't see any reason why the situation would change because of a few prizes being handed out.

clint
2008-Jan-02, 12:27 PM
You can't possibly believe that the massively rich sending themselves and their peers into space will somehow translate into anything that will benefit the population at large.

What's so terrible about rich pioneers?
The Wright brothers weren't exactly poor, either...

Damburger
2008-Jan-02, 12:35 PM
What's so terrible about rich pioneers?
The Wright brothers weren't exactly poor, either...

The Wright brothers didn't give birth to mass aviation through flying rich tourists about. Civil aviation got its start from military aircraft and mail carriers. I wouldn't hold your breath for space wars and rocket post, so we can't expect space travel to develop the same way air travel did.

clint
2008-Jan-02, 01:06 PM
The Wright brothers didn't give birth to mass aviation through flying rich tourists about. Civil aviation got its start from military aircraft and mail carriers. I wouldn't hold your breath for space wars and rocket post, so we can't expect space travel to develop the same way air travel did.

Good analogy: the military certainly had a role both in flight and space flight, I won't argue that.

But: a civil aircraft gets you around the globe way cheaper than a fighter plane.
That's what's holding us back right now: cheap transport into space.
Governments seem to have trouble delivering that.

ASEI
2008-Jan-02, 03:48 PM
What's so terrible about rich pioneers? It took a king and a bunch of noblemen to start up oceanic exploration too. Sometimes it takes someone rich, whose wealth isn't tied up in obligations to a company or state, to crash over a barrier to entry.

KaiYeves
2008-Jan-02, 10:16 PM
Yes, and what does that have to do with it? The world isn't quite as simple as you are making out.
I'm not anti-government. I think NASA and the other such organizations have their place. But since 2004 we have been at the point where the private sector is able to reach outer space and if they want to offer private flights to the public, you can't deny that that is a cool thing.

Noclevername
2008-Jan-03, 08:57 PM
Actually, I would be surprised to find 'nations' still dominate space exploration by 2100.
Private enterprise should be the key factor by then.

I didn't mention private companies, I was talking about other countries. But I think that private groups will have human access to orbit in much less time than 2100. There will be both national and private groups active in space during the next century, possibly even by 20-30 years from now. The ratios may change, but it's not as if there's a limit to how many spacefaring organizations there can be.