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Space Science

The Next Fifty Years In Space 273

MarkWhittington writes "2007 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Space Age, agreed by most to have begun with the launch of the first artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik, on October 4th, 1957. While some are taking stock of the last fifty years of space exploration, noting what has been accomplished and, more importantly, what has not been accomplished, others are wondering what the next fifty years might bring."
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The Next Fifty Years In Space

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  • by mhannibal ( 1121487 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @09:40AM (#20463447)
    A lying car - like when it says the tank is full even though it's empty? Already got one of those...
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @09:47AM (#20463521)
    What makes you think that a national policy of running huge deficits and growing our national debt at an almost exponential rate will lead to insolvency for the U.S.? Surely the good times can never come crashing down, right? Right?
  • by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @09:49AM (#20463541)
    Yay, Disneyland IN SPACE!
  • by confused one ( 671304 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @10:17AM (#20463781)
    "lying cars" already exist. Plenty of people have run into trouble when the navigation system in the car tells them a lie...

    "Turn left now"

    But there is no left.
  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @10:30AM (#20463929) Homepage Journal
    Obligatory Fight Club:

    ...when deep-space exploitation ramps up, it will probably be the megatonic corporations that discover all the new planets and map them. The IBM Stellar Sphere. The Philip Morris Galaxy. Planet Denny's. Every planet will take on the corporate identity of whoever rapes it first. Budweiser World
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @10:40AM (#20464051) Homepage Journal

    ... had been hit by a small asteroid instead of planes. We'd be halfway to Mars by now.

    Right after we rounded up all astronomers and astrophysicists and put them Gitmo for withholding information, never mind we didn't listen to one word while they were shouting "look out for that asteroid!" And then once we liberated the Moon we'd welcomed as liberators!

  • by sqldr ( 838964 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @10:46AM (#20464099)
    Ok, fact of the week:

    The atmosphere on titan is so thick, and the gravity so weak, that humans could fly about by flapping wings attached to their arms.

    I want to go to titan NOW!
  • by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @10:50AM (#20464137) Journal

    Private space start ups will successfully sell and launch tourists then branch out into exploration projects intended to lead to colonization, or

    Governments will allow them to develop to the point where it can let them think they're competing with Big Aerospace, offer them 10% of what it pays its corporate welfare favorite children, then have them merged and absorbed into those corporations to provide the equivalent of generic brand launch systems for resale to customers who couldn't otherwise afford it.


    On the first weekend in October 2057 the last three living members of the National Association of Rocketry will meet up at the annual Homer Hickam And The Rocket Boys book signing and barbeque in Coalwood, West Virginia to fly some model rockets and brag about their massive knowledge of widely known (though incorrect) tricks for optimizing drag reduction and nostalgically misremembered trivia from space history, as all 200 citizens of Coalwood try to sell hamburgers and snow cones to the 15 tourists who've shown up to listen to the old farts and gawk at the Homer-shaped robot purchased with funds from the West Virginia Tourism Council, autographing paperback books and DVDs of "October Sky", while the Chinese Ministry of Smiling and Showing Off Our Glorious Technology for Public Relations Purposes launches a Soviet R-7 shaped Long March IX to orbit a Sputnik replica carrying a sample of Burt Rutan's ashes purchased on eBay from one of the 17 of trillionaire His Honorary Majesty Lord Sir Richard Branson's clones.

    I intend to be one of those three.

  • by JSchoeck ( 969798 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @11:10AM (#20464395)
    I can grasp the concept of "there is no spoon" alright.

    But "there is no left" either? Oh my god!

  • by Riktov ( 632 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @11:16AM (#20464477) Journal
    Star Trek was guessing about computers a couple of hundred years in the future, but our current computers are already pretty close to their mark.

    Naah. The flashing checkerboard lights and MO-NO-TONE COM-PYU-TER VOICE alone will require another fifty years at least.
  • by imgod2u ( 812837 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @11:41AM (#20464857) Homepage
    And yet...my computer can't realistically generate 3D images of people with flawless likeness. /I want my f'ing holodeck //Would never come out ///Guess what I'll be doing in there.
  • by xENoLocO ( 773565 ) * on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @12:23PM (#20465497) Homepage
    *blue steel*
  • by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Wednesday September 05, 2007 @12:42AM (#20474807) Journal
    The reality behind it is our economic system. What financial incentive is there for capital investment in space? If there is a return it will happen - it's that simple. Of course for private investment that would mean multi-decade waits for a return, beyond even what mining companies wait. Such high risk on substantial investments for a return implies a stability of government that can underwrite success. The last time any real progress in manned space exploration happened was a nation vs nation race. That may happen again, perhaps a three or four way race, but the last forty years has been a pork barreling extravaganza.

    The most unlikely event to happen is nations actually co-operating to build a space faring race, but this is also the most likely to succeed where resources and expertise can be combined. Of course that could imply a World government, beyond our federal systems of government. I think people might be afraid of that for the same reason we are afraid of the multi national corporation's capability to behave as a law unto itself.

    The irony is with the resources of space our wasteful economic systems, that do not consider the externalities that have been trashing our planet so far, may even start to make sense. More likely though our economic systems will have evolve to deal with, as simple as it seems, waste to resource processing here on earth. I mean can you imagine any large scale space station, or long term space flight, that cannot reprocess resources? Isn't this what "Life Support Systems" would be?

    Of course there is one other incentive - survival - a true galvanising force. If the survival instinct soaks into our mass consciousness it may happen, because the human race deserves to survive, deserves a space faring future.

    I don't know how the future of space exploration, well any future, will be like in 50 years, I only know how it will start...

    By seeking to avoid annihilation, ten years of frenetic activity turned human beings into a space faring culture...

    Get of this rock or die!

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!