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ISS NASA Science

Video Tour of the International Space Station 71

Posted by timothy
from the look-for-the-new-kitchen-tiles dept.
SternisheFan writes with an excerpt from Bad Astronomer Phil Plait, writing at Slate: "Before she came back to Earth in a ball of fire surrounding her Russian re-entry capsule, astronaut Sunita Williams took time out of her packing for the trip home to give a nickel tour of the International Space Station. ... I know the video's long, but if you have the time I do suggest watching the whole thing. I have very mixed feelings about the space station; it cost a lot of money, and in my opinion it hasn't lived up to the scientific potential NASA promised when it was being designed. But watching this video reminded me of the good that's come out of it: There is science being done there; we're learning how to design and build hardware for long-term space travel; we're learning just how to live in space (and NASA just announced it will be sending humans into space for an entire year, an unprecedented experiment); and we're finding new ways for nations and individuals to cooperate in space."
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Video Tour of the International Space Station

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  • Research (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday December 15, 2012 @07:37PM (#42304269)

    Research is rarely profitable. Most of our knowledge of how to do it right comes from testing out all possible ways of doing it wrong. So when you point and say "Well, this particular project didn't pan out" as a reason not to undertake any future projects, you're misrepresenting the facts. It's true, most research fails. But the research that succeeds more than makes up for the costs of all that other research before it. Every technology within your range of vision right now was developed through a iterative process of failure.

    And yet, here we are, and I am thankful that, unlike the editor and submitter, I can see the big picture. The space program has contributed way more in commercial developments than it has cost us. Way, way, massively way more. And that's in spite of its bureaucratic failures (of which many have written small books on -- see Appendix D of the Challenger Disaster report for one such example). Research is essential. If you want to argue about the cost of the space program, pick something else -- there are juicier targets than that.

  • Priorities (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 15, 2012 @07:58PM (#42304375)

    Hopefully, the Russians will help us. I don't think we'd be able to do this without their help anyway.

    Just take all that money we spend catching, prosecuting, and imprisoning nonviolent drug users. Then stop doing that because it's total bullshit. Then use the money instead to explore space. Then the Russians will be begging US for support.

    Unless of course telling adults what to do with their own bodies and minds is more important than exploring the greatest frontier imaginable... but the point is, there are lots of great things we could do if we had the will to do it, if we stopped wasting so much time and effort on stupid efforts to control people that never really worked in the first place.

  • by u64 (1450711) on Saturday December 15, 2012 @08:39PM (#42304605) Homepage

    What about adding a module that spins - to simulate gravity.

    But i guess it has to be carefully balanced to avoid wobbling. Maybe this can be compensated somehow with liquids?

  • by ausoleil (322752) on Saturday December 15, 2012 @10:44PM (#42305119) Homepage

    I really like Phil Plait but he consistently misses one of the major points of ISS was building and operating a working spacecraft in space. That knowledge in and of itself will prove invaluable for longer term missions where resupply and spare parts will be impossible to provide.

    That attitude seems to be all too common among scientists: the constantly overlook engineering and take it for granted.

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