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NASA Expands Role of International Space Station 153

Posted by kdawson
from the come-play-in-our-lab dept.
coondoggie writes "NASA is looking for a few good experiments to run in space. The space agency this week said it was seeking research ideas (PDF) from private entities who want to do research on board the International Space Station. NASA said it was looking to expand the use of the ISS by providing access to the lab for the conduct of basic and applied research, technology development, and industrial processing to private entities — including commercial firms, non-profit institutions, and academic institutions. NASA said using the ISS as a national lab could help develop a number of applications in areas such as biotechnology, energy, engineering, and remote sensing."
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NASA Expands Role of International Space Station

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  • too little... (Score:-1, Insightful)

    by Adolf Hitroll (562418) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @02:10PM (#32002500) Homepage Journal

    ...too late.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @02:23PM (#32002644)

    Come on, we all want to know how sex in space works. Its probably the simplest experiment that would generate tons of interest.

  • by Revotron (1115029) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @02:23PM (#32002650)
    Okay, so let's cut all government funding of NASA because you don't want to support "intellectual curiosity". While we're at it, let's cut all government grants to US higher education institutions. After all, that's intellectual curiosity, too!~ And let's stop giving out government-awarded scholarships to promising students. Why the hell should we all pay because they want to learn more, do some research and solve our problems?~ And none of this publicly-funded disease research shit. Let the big pharma corporations handle it, we all know they're open and willing when it comes to sharing their discoveries and creations.~
  • Case in point (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Un pobre guey (593801) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @02:23PM (#32002652) Homepage
    NASA emphasizes the utter uselessness of the ISS by asking people what interesting things can be done with it. This after spending billions of dollars and over a decade of work. This money should have been spent exclusively on robotic probes. There is no compelling case here for manned exploration.

    I know, I know, the "get off this rock" crowd will now inundate us with their magical-religious space adventure cult emotional arguments.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @02:29PM (#32002736)

    I am in complete agreement. I don't want to be forced to pay for those things. I can pay voluntarily, thus if those institutions want my money, then they shall have to take part in activities that benefit me.

    'Moral good' is no justification for breaking the law, and all of such spending is in violation of the Constitution. States are free to spend as their constituents desire.

  • Re:Case in point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @02:36PM (#32002824) Homepage

    NASA emphasizes the utter uselessness of the ISS by asking people what interesting things can be done with it.

    Yes, and the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is useless as demonstrated by NASA asking people what interesting things could be photographed with it. Manned stations, robotic probes, equally useless!

    P.S. I agree, more robotic probes. But seriously, sending out a call for researchers to propose experiments is not an indication of uselessness.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @02:39PM (#32002882)
    Do you have any idea how difficult it is to clean "bodily fluids" out of the air in zero-g?

    Yes, "zero-g sex!" was my immediate reaction to this article as well.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @02:40PM (#32002890)

    Article I, Section I: "All legislative powers herein granted..."

    Nowhere after that statement is Congress granted the authority to do whatever it wishes. Congress is extremely limited in its powers. As James Madison said, "The government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government."

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @02:42PM (#32002918)
    I'll bet the use of your taxes to pay for public libraries really pisses you off too! You just sit there drinking your tang, typing on your computer and watching your satellite TV, bitching about all the money wasted on the space program...
  • Re:Case in point (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Un pobre guey (593801) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @02:46PM (#32002984) Homepage
    With all due respect, "getting off this rock" is a fantasy. Consider this: How much money, time, and resources would it cost to move 10 million people (a miniscule fraction of the earth's population) "off this rock" in a manner that they could survive for 100 years (a miniscule fraction of humanity's longevity up until now)? Put them 1) in earth orbit, 2) on the moon, or 3) on mars. Have them be 1) totally dependent on earth for their consumables and other resources, 2) dependent on earth only for half, and 3) completely self sustained. At the end of the 100 year period they should be completely self-sustained in any scenario you choose.

    Please don't make extensive use of the old "we don't know what super-advanced technology there will be" trick to pretend that at some point it will all be really cheap and easy. Historically, that has never happened. Powerful new industrial technologies have always been expensive, and this particular case will be no exception. Creating large scale habitation is also always expensive in direct proportion to the inhospitability of the environment and its distance from vital resources.
  • by Chonnawonga (1025364) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @02:50PM (#32003038)

    Wait, they want to turn the International Space Station into a national lab? What about all the other countries with a stake in this real estate?

  • by Dishevel (1105119) * on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @02:55PM (#32003098)
    I am so fine with that. Can we stop paying for the poor too? I just want the Government to give me 3 things. A standing military, infrastructure (Power, Water, Sewage, Transportation and Data), and to protect my ability to Pursue happiness.

    I do not need my government to give me stuff. By the pursuit of happiness, I mean of course things like keeping monopolies from abusing their positions and encouraging real competition in the market place. So I can get rich if I really work at it.

  • Re:Case in point (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Un pobre guey (593801) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @02:55PM (#32003100) Homepage
    No, not equally useless, one is practical and the other is not. You are creating one of the usual straw men. Assuming for the sake of argument that they can do the same things, manned space flight does it far more slowly (much longer project lead times), far more expensively (need to support delicate human life), and far less ambitiously (anything beyond low earth orbit is beyond prohibitively expensive). Let's see, which one would be a better way to express our penchant for exploration, curiosity, and scientific investigation? It is a no-brainer, pure and simple.
  • by Dishevel (1105119) * on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @02:57PM (#32003128)
    Well it was before the Supreme Court fucked the citizens of the US out of their freedom with a truly horrible interpretation of the commerce clause.
  • Re:Case in point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @03:11PM (#32003344) Homepage

    Sorry, you said that asking for suggestions on research to be done just emphasizes its uselessness. That's not a strawman, that's what you said. It's not my fault that same logic applies equally to things you like such as MRO or Hubble.

    Let's not assume that manned and unmanned missions can do the same thing, because they can't. Manned missions can't visit Saturn or Mars yet for that matter. And there are plenty of experiments that are much more easily performed with human supervision than without, and with pre-existing infrastructure than without. ISS is already up there, and contains space-shuttle-payload size bays designed exclusively for research. It isn't useless, the space agencies involved are already performing experiments on it. Expanding the number of experiments done is expanding its usefulness, not admitting it isn't useful at all as you claimed.

    Again, we're in agreement that robotic probes are cheaper and better for exploring the solar system and beyond. I disagree with your stance that the ISS is useless. And your statement that asking for research to be conducted on it demonstrates this uselessness is factually and logically wrong.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @03:18PM (#32003440) Homepage

    Does pursuit of happiness include an education? Millions of extremely hard working but uneducated people would suggest that this is the path to being tired and poor, not rich.

  • by sznupi (719324) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @03:21PM (#32003486) Homepage

    If only the world would be so simple...

    "Paying for the poor" helps to keep the place nicer all around, meaning you have more chance at all of "pursuing happiness". BTW, inancing first two things inevitably gives more opportunities for that pursuit to quite small group of people. And as to your ability to pursue happiness...people have shown time and time again that they generally have a hard time at moderation, a hard time not living on the credit of future generations (this graph [wikipedia.org] is especially "inconvenient")

    No, I'm afraid it's not so simple.

  • Re:Case in point (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tophermeyer (1573841) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @03:22PM (#32003502)

    Creating large scale habitation is also always expensive in direct proportion to the inhospitability of the environment and its distance from vital resources.

    Right. So if we never spend the time and money to learn how to make it work right here in LEO with a small population we will never learn how to make it work on a larger scale. New industrial technologies are expensive. For example: Can you imagine how costly the first functional farm tractors were to small time farmers that hoed their few acres with animal power? But do you see how the development and refinement of those technologies have led to wonderful advances in how farms are managed?

  • Re:Case in point (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FSWKU (551325) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @03:28PM (#32003570)

    With all due respect, "colonizing the New World" is a fantasy. Consider this: How much money, time, and resources would it cost to move 10,000 people (a miniscule fraction of England's population) "to the New World" in a manner that they could survive for 10 years (a miniscule fraction of human life). Put them 1) on a ship, 2) on an island, or 3) on the mainland. Have them 1) be totally dependent on England for equipment, resources and tools, 2) dependent on England for only half, and 3) completely self-sustained. At the end of the 10 year period, they should be completely self-sustained in any scenario you choose.

    Please don't make extensive use of the old "we don't know what advances there will be" trick to pretend that at some point it will all be really cheap and easy. Historically, that has never happened. Larger, more advanced sailing ships have always been expensive, and this particular case will be no exception. Creating large-scale colonies is also always expensive in direct proportion to the inhospitability of the environment and its distance from the resource support of the crown.

    Nobody is saying that it will be cheap or even easy in the remotely near future. But is that really a valid reason to not even make the attempt? You have to start somewhere, and it will NEVER be cheap/routine if we as a society don't start working toward that goal. Along the way, we can use the technological advances derived from such exploration to (hopefully) better life for those here on Earth. Even something unrelated to ship construction or propulsion systems (such as a self-sustaining food/oxygen supply) could be scaled up to benefit people in the more remote regions of the world.

  • by CraftyJack (1031736) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @03:30PM (#32003596)

    I should not be forced to pay for the intellectual curiosity of others.

    Actually, it's intellectual incuriosity that I'm tired of paying for.

  • Re:Case in point (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nadaka (224565) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @04:58PM (#32004658)

    This is actually quite false.

    Building an air tight pressure vessel capable of supporting an internal pressure 1 atmosphere higher than the outside pressure is a solved problem. Hell, we can even make it inflatable and almost but not quite arbitrary size and shape.

    Building an water tight pressure vessel capable of supporting an internal pressure over a thousand atmospheres less than the outside pressure is a ridiculously hard problem that is almost but not quite solved for a 6ft wide sphere with a skin taking up more than 10% of its diameter. Without revolutionary new materials, that proportion of the thickness of the wall increases dramatically as the size of the space increases and in most cases is not even approaching practical for shapes other than a nearly perfect sphere.

    The big cost in dealing with space colonization is getting raw material from the bottom of our relatively deep gravity well. And that is a problem that can be mitigated by bringing material from the much shallower gravity wells of the moon and asteroids once there is some infrastructure out there.

    However the big costs of colonizing the deep sea will always be the engineering and material required to keep 7 miles of water from finding even the tiniest path to the inside of the vessel.

  • Re:Case in point (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nadaka (224565) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @06:02PM (#32005310)

    I did read the parent post. Did you?

    Tell me how you can put 10 million people at the bottom of 7 miles of ocean for a hundred years (and have them not be dead in a fraction of a second).

    That is a much harder problem to solve that building a space station capable of supporting the same population in orbit for a hundred years.

  • by waimate (147056) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @07:15PM (#32005990) Homepage

    Libraries? Schools? A police force to catch your mugger?

  • Re:Case in point (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @10:07PM (#32007854)

    according to that logic, we should have never gone to the new world, or even left africa for that matter.
    if people like you ran things, we would still be running after antelope with spears and the number one cause of death being mauled by predator

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