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Space Mars Moon

Space Is Not a Void (slate.com) 285

An anonymous reader shares an article: When President Kennedy announced the Apollo Program, he famously argued that we should go to the moon because it is hard. Solving the technical challenges of space travel is a kind of civilizational achievement on its own, like resolving an interplanetary Rubik's Cube. The argument worked, perhaps all too well. As soon as we landed on the moon, humanity's expansion into the cosmos slowed and then stopped (not counting robots). If you were to draw a graph charting the farthest distance a human being has ever been from the surface of Earth, the peak was in 1970 with Apollo 13. With the successful moon landings, we solved all of the fundamental challenges involved in launching humans into orbit and bringing them back safely. The people watching those early feats of exploration imagined we would soon be sending astronauts to Mars and beyond, but something has held us back. Not know-how, or even money, but a certain lack of imagination. Getting to space isn't the hard part -- the hard part is figuring out why we're there. Sure, we can celebrate the human spirit and the first person to do this or that, but that kind of achievement never moves beyond the symbolic. It doesn't build industries, establish settlements and scientific research stations, or scale up solutions from expensive one-offs to mass production. Furthermore, as five decades of failing to go farther than our own moon have demonstrated, that kind of symbolism can't even sustain itself, much less energize new activity.
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Space Is Not a Void

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  • by barakn ( 641218 ) on Thursday December 14, 2017 @01:44PM (#55740073)

    Or is it that it's very expensive and extremely dangerous?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by rogoshen1 ( 2922505 )

      I don't know, the fact that there is not a single sci-fi franchise based on space exploration absolutely implies a complete lack of imagination.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 14, 2017 @01:56PM (#55740197)

      Eye problems, muscle tissue problems, bone marrow problems, radiation, the list goes on. There are many reasons why long distance space travel is not possible at this time. Sound like some Millennial at Slate decided to write a blog post out of complete ignorance for any of the science involved. Humans already figured out that long distance travel is not worth the cost to the health of the travelers at this time and therefore have focused on robots and satellites to do the exploration. A far better investment of tax payer money if you ask me. Leave suicidal trips to private adventurers.

      • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Thursday December 14, 2017 @02:12PM (#55740429)

        These are all problems we have found in zero-G, which is what the ISS was designed to test. Now we can try simulating gravity to characterize how much gravitation is required to offset what medical effects.

        • Now we can try simulating gravity to characterize how much gravitation is required to offset what medical effects.

          Not without space based manufacturing or a much larger heavy lift vehicle, we can't. Rotating habitats need to be rather large in order to avoid various nasty side effects.

          • Not for testing. You could accomplish it with two small habitats connected by a long cable. The amount of gravity we find we need will have a major impact on teh design of a large habitat, so we need to find out the optimum amount before we design anything big.

        • The radiation problem is not related to zero-G. No amount of gravity, simulated or otherwise, is going to solve that.
          • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

            The radiation problem is not related to zero-G. No amount of gravity, simulated or otherwise, is going to solve that.

            Are you sure about that? Gravity from a black hole will eat any radiation. So, problem solved! Just carry a black hole with the ship...

      • This, as bad as it is for our sci-fi boners, it's pointless to send people at this time, sending robots just works better.

      • definitely a millennial. look at their benchmark of "the farthest a human's made it was set in 1970". that's looking squarely at the issue from the perspective of "this record wasn't set in my lifetime".

        From the perspective of human history though, we were just on the moon a fraction of a second ago. We've barely stepped off the moon!
      • Sound like some Millennial at Slate decided to write a blog post out of complete ignorance for any of the science involved.

        If we ruled that out there wouldn't be much left of Slate. Slate exists only to make HuffPost look good by comparison.

    • That hasn't stopped people from doing dangerous and expensive things before. It really comes down to lack of real leadership. Ever since Nixon, the connection between the trust of the people and its leadership has eroded. Such grand initiatives to go to Mars, or further will bring up naysayers who are now concerned about the motivation. Bringing up problems that should take more focus.

      • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Thursday December 14, 2017 @03:04PM (#55741005) Homepage
        It does not come from a lack of leadership. It really comes down to a big Why we should?

        When people went to the Moon, we thought we would need people to set up experiments on other moons and planets. But since the mid-1970ies, automated space probes proved us wrong. They could get to Venus, Mercury and Mars at a fraction of the cost than having space ships going there. They could be smaller as they didn't need to house humans. They didn't need any life sustaining technology. They didn't need to come back. They could sustain accelerations in swing-by maneuvers no human would survive. And they had patience. They can fly three decades without going nuts. They could deliver the same measurements again and again with constant quality. And we could have them fly risky maneuvers because when they got lost, it was just damage to a machine.

        There is not much scientific value in having humans flying to other space objects. And there is no business case yet. Thus we don't.

        • They could sustain accelerations in swing-by maneuvers no human would survive.
          The human inside of the space ship is accelerated with the exact same rate like the space ship around him: ergo he is in free fall and does not experience any acceleration at all, a no brainer.
          And then again, a swing buy maneuver does not have such great effects anyway.

          • by dryeo ( 100693 )

            There will be tidal affects, probably negligible in any swing by maneuvers that we're likely to do in the fore-see-able future but tidal affects are real

            • Lets assume a sphere of 100m diameter.
              How many milligrams of "force" would there be on a human somewhere inside?

              We are not talking about a swingby at a black hole ... but about a body in the solar system.

              I doubt we have instruments fine enough and cheap enouh and small enough to put them into a 100m diameter ship to measure the slight tidal effect on a human inisde ...

              • by dryeo ( 100693 )

                As I said, negligible but I'd think we have small sensitive scales that would measure the difference in weight between both ends of a 100 metre ship or just observe a 100 metre cigar shaped ship rotate so one end points at the planet it is swinging by.
                The calculations are basically the difference in 2 orbits a 100 metres apart.

        • They could sustain accelerations in swing-by maneuvers no human would survive.

          Others point out that swing-by maneuvers are free-fall, but there is another reason there is a limitation for this with humans. The radiation field of Jupiter. The probes that used sling-shot maneuvers with Jupiter experienced many times lethal levels of radiation exposure. And long-term radiation exposure in space is a problem anyway.

    • Or is it that it's very expensive and extremely dangerous?

      Which is why human space missions have had to wait until private entrepreneurs got involved. Because of the high political costs of failures involving human life, governments can be adventurous in space only if some military imperative is involved. This was precisely how JFK pitched the Apollo missions.

    • by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Thursday December 14, 2017 @02:18PM (#55740521) Journal
      Yes, it's about the most expensive thing that our species has ever done. Even putting satellites into orbit is supremely expensive, not even counting the payload itself. If it's not cost-effective, if there's no profit to be made from putting humans on, say, Mars, then you're not going to get funding to do it, or private industry interested in doing it. The only way that happens is if there's actual profit to be made (literally, above and beyond the costs associated). So far, no dice. That, plus it'll take generations to even build a viable colony and industry on even our own Moon; I defy you to try to get the general public to stay interested in something like that for that long.
      • I think your post was a perfect example of lack of imagination.

        1) You don't imagine any reason other than profit for going into space.
        2) You don't imagine anyone wanting to spend the generations (you claim it will take) to set up a colony on Mars.
        3) You don't imagine the general public can be interested in space travel for long enough to matter.

        This isn't meant as a personal attack, I'm just pointing out that the desire for short-term profit is an unimaginative reason to do anything.

        According to the Wikiped

        • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Thursday December 14, 2017 @03:32PM (#55741305) Homepage Journal

          1) You don't imagine any reason other than profit for going into space.

          Well, yes.

          Today, we work 40 hours per week. We get paid, and what do we do with the money? We buy things. We go into debt to buy, and then inflation makes our dollar-wages higher while not making our dollar-debt higher: it shrinks our debt back down. Corporations profit, banks profit, and we sort of fold some of the buying power back into worker hands.

          When we improve technology, we make more for the hours we work. We still swap dollars at the exchange rate--I take home $20/hr, you cost payroll $10/hr, I work one hour to induce you to work two--and we get more for that time we put in getting those dollars.

          Now imagine humans do a bunch of work and then burn the things they made.

          We still work 40 hours, but a quarter of what we make gets tossed in the trash and incinerated for no purpose. Essentially, we work 40 hours and get paid for 30 hours. We're poorer.

          That's what sending a bunch of crap into space for no reason does. That's what going to war does. That's what anything not really profitable does. Oh, sure, we can take a loss on paper doing drug research, and that might even be a loss for the world if the drug is useful for like 10 people a year but costs $3 billion to come up with; but we can also expend $100 million to, say, import a low-cost generic, research it, and FDA approve it, with no capacity to make a business profit. In both case, we as a society bear the cost; yet in the latter case, we get access to a low-cost drug like Bromantane, and can now treat depression (and maybe ADHD?) more-effectively with a $10/month prescription.

          Profit isn't just a matter of a business surviving; it's a matter of society as a whole getting out more than it put in. Neither of these outcomes guarantees the other is also happening, and the latter one is the important one in long terms (thus why we have welfare).

          • I can't agree with your premise, that profit is why we live or do anything.

            Even a business that doesn't make any profit for itself, is still a good endeavor if people can feed themselves and be happy. When I say happy, I mean that they feel good about themselves and what they are doing, and enrich their souls.

            Sometimes as a species we must give a little bit to grow, and that is called investing, whether it be time, or energy. Not every investment returns an immediate profit. Some may never return a pro

          • So if you agree that pure research and long-shot investments can be worthwhile, despite no immediate prospect of profits, why do you feel that "sending a bunch of crap into space" is done for no reason?

            Apart from the many ancillary benefits of space research (spinoff technologies, entertainment prospects etc), the science we learn in space and on other worlds is often clearly applicable to our own world, or at least could well be in the future.

            And for human space travel, there's no denying the enormous insp

          • And what was the profit for Faraday to do research into electromagnets in the 1840s, a time when the largest market for electrical gadgets was magicians doing parlor tricks? A far more profitable endeavor would have been better horse breeding techniques or faster looms.

            Fast forward 150 years, and 90+% of our entire economy is based on the electrical foundations discovered by Faraday, distilled into equations by Maxwell (also without profit) and turned into countless products, most of which resulted in faile

        • by sconeu ( 64226 )

          3) You don't imagine the general public can be interested in space travel for long enough to matter.

          Well, I believe that history has proved this out. Even by Apollo 13, interest was down. 13 only got interest because of the accident.

        • Pointing out essential hard facts is not "lack of imagination". Imagination is grand, but it needs to be coupled to what is feasible.

          It is common in SF to make a parallel with the Age of Exploration (by Europeans), or possibly prehistoric oceanic colonization of lands, and space exploration. But in neither case were the 'costs' to the parent society consistently negative. Exploration voyages and settlement were expected to turn a profit, and did fairly quickly. Prehistoric colonization cost parent societies

        • You're confusing my evaluation of what most people think about the subject with what my personal opinion of space exploration, is -- and I haven't expressed my personal opinion in the least, therefore I haven't bothered reading your comment past the first line (all the "Yous" in it).

          I think, and have said in the past, that we should develop a permanent colony on the Moon, build industry there, especially space industry, and use it as a 'jumping off' point for the rest of our solar system -- and perhaps t
        • I'll add on to what you said, cuz I agree. It does come down to a basic lack of imagination.

          When everyone is constrained by the thought's of a shorter life, uncomfortable, there is no profit, it seems to me like we will hardly do anything. It still boils down to the "save the children" argument, or "we must keep the heart moving as long as its physically possible for a machine to do", or pick one of those.

          When it comes to exploration, its going to take us a while as humans to move on. Until we ship a pr

    • by swb ( 14022 ) on Thursday December 14, 2017 @02:35PM (#55740747)

      Until not that long ago it was extremely dangerous and expensive to travel more than 100 miles from home and in many places it still is. With that kind of logic, humans would never have left their village let alone their continent.

      Yet to this very day there are people who take incredibly perilous journeys willingly even though they know that where they are going life will (at least initially) be very hard and the environment will be hostile, perhaps even fatal.

      I think the biggest value of the manned space program isn't the space travel, really, but the sense of inspiration it provides, the notion that humanity is actually going somewhere and somehow progressing in the process.

      • by higuita ( 129722 )

        yep, at the Age of Discovery, many Portuguese sail boats departed, but only a few returned usually... Later Spanish navy had a high rate of death and the Magellan travel is a good example, only one boat returned with very few people from all boats.
        Travel required took a few months to near locations to 3 years.

        Exploring was always a risky business, in the past, human lives might have been less important, but it was always a lost

      • by dryeo ( 100693 )

        The natives around here (Pacific NW) used to travel the few hundred miles into the interior by foot to trade and go to Hawaii to get laid. Somewhat dangerous but not expensive when living off the land (sea). Really the big dangers was other people and getting lost.

    • Or is it that it's very expensive and extremely dangerous?

      Especially the "expensive" part.

      It is notable that the article mentions "money" only once, to brush it away as irrelevant ('Not know-how, or even money').

      The cost of space travel, in other words the relative share of Earth productive resources, required is staggering for many reasons. Slashing launch costs still leaves those costs at "staggering" (though a smaller stagger), and does not touch the other costs - the extremely high cost of space hardware, the ground support required, etc.

      Couple that with the p

  • What is that hard? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday December 14, 2017 @01:47PM (#55740101)

    the hard part is figuring out why we're there.

    Good grief, why is that even a hard question? The answer is because it's not well explored, we as a civilization have always explored, and in the end have always ended up benefitting by doing so.

    Untold riches await the explorer - either of the mind, or literal material riches.

    The hard question is not figuring out why we are there, it's figuring out what the hell the delay is!

    • Businesses today are controlled by psychotic CEOs whose goal is solely to secure the golden parachute for the next victim, oops, next company. You need long-term CEOs for very long-term projects such as mining asteroids with billions and billions of dollars in metals and useful compounds (if you come up with a practical method of doing so).
    • The answer is because it's not well explored

      To be fair, there's not much to explore in a cold, dark vacuum.

    • chance of profit. So far there isn't one for space. Stuff like space needs to be paid for by our civilization's wealthiest. It's simply too expensive otherwise. You can't get that kind of money from the working class. They don't have it. You'd have to take their food from them, and they'll revolt. Now, we got away with that during the cold war because the aristocracy in America was afraid of the Russians coming and taking their stuff. Most of the good from the 50s through the 90s came from that. That threat
  • We all have opinions on space exploration, we hardly need an article that's nothing but opinions.

  • by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <skennedy@NoSpaM.tpno-co.org> on Thursday December 14, 2017 @01:53PM (#55740155) Homepage

    The argument worked, perhaps all too well. As soon as we landed on the moon, humanity's expansion into the cosmos slowed and then stopped (not counting robots)

    Why do our achievements with sending robots not count? We're still producing remarkable feats of science and engineering, aren't we? What's so important with sending flesh and blood?

    Yes, other-world colonization is a very real goal, but it's not the only one. Scientific exploration is more efficient ( ie: get more done for less ) when you don't have to worry about maintaining a fragile human being as well.

    • nothing of utility is being produced. Yeah, a lot of tech got made, but it just as easily could have gotten made without spending billions launching stuff into space. You're confusing the goal (launch stuff) with the result (the stuff we invented to launch stuff). But when you think about it, it's kind of silly. Instead of spending billions on sending a probe how about some money spent on developing a safe and effective form of Male Birth control? How about money spent solving the rapidly approaching water
  • by coldandcalculating ( 1311907 ) on Thursday December 14, 2017 @01:56PM (#55740191)
    I agree with the sentiment that we can't talk seriously about colonizing other worlds until we learn how to sustainably inhabit our own, but we need to develop the technology to move humans en masse alongside the capability to not ruin whatever place we land on. Not ruining planets is something we should be practicing on earth immediately, but as TFA points out, many people fail to recognize the economic benefits. Some day this world will be come uninhabitable (asteroid? zombies?) and it would be nice for the sake of our species to be able to move at least some of us to a new place and stay alive there. Why not work on this technology and prepare now? I think our descendants would thank us if they didn't have to attempt the long term survival of the human race in a hastily improvised tin can.

    One of my favorite stories is Aesop's tale of the boar and the fox:

    One day as he moved through the forest the fox came upon his friend the wild boar who was engaged vigorously sharpening his tusks against a large stone.

    "My friend," started the fox, "Why do you exert yourself so, seeing there is no hunter about and no other danger from which to defend yourself on this day in the forest?"

    To which the boar frankly replied, "The day will come when I have need of sharp tusks. I shall have no time to sharpen them then."
    • Some day this world will be come uninhabitable (asteroid? zombies?) and it would be nice for the sake of our species to be able to move at least some of us to a new place and stay alive there. Why not work on this technology and prepare now?

      Because quite honestly, the task of moving at least some people to Mars to stay alive there is a such a huge task that a little extra hurry now really won't make a difference. It would take 30 years and the largest engineering project done by mankind to get people there to plant a flag and get them back. The effort to establish any sort of sustainable colony there will be orders of magnitude higher. Never mind daydreams like terraforming Mars. Last time I ran the numbers, just getting Mars an atmosphere wit

  • We cannot justify the return on the investment for sending people to Mars and returning them safely. How is that not a lack of money?

  • by cmaurand ( 768570 ) on Thursday December 14, 2017 @01:59PM (#55740233)
    Not imagination. The moon program brought us solid state, microprocessors and miniaturization the went orders of magnitude better than anything previously produced, velcro, microwave ovens, fuel cells, ground reading radar, methods of inter-body navigation, Tang, Space docking procedures, standardized hatches on spacecraft, better alloys for building air and space craft, Meals Ready to Eat, air scrubbers, and more than anything else, confirmation of the math and physics involved. The space program generated all sorts of industries. In n1961, the technology for putting a person on the moon and returning them safely to the earth didn't exist. by 1969 it did. That took leadership. I haven't seen that kind of leadership since Kennedy. Lots of private contractors got very wealthy off the space program. However, NASA doesn't have the kind of lobbying money available to it that Goldman-Sachs has. What NASA does isn't sexy.
    • The moon program brought us solid state, microprocessors and miniaturization the went orders of magnitude better than anything previously produced,

      Those things would have been made without the moon program too. And if we'd do it for a second time, the benefits would be less, because we already have most of the tech we need.

  • It’s a canvas for human imagination.

    So... it's a void*? ;)

  • by AlanObject ( 3603453 ) on Thursday December 14, 2017 @02:08PM (#55740373)

    The only reason that the U.S.A. went to the moon is because the reactionary/conservative votes in Congress and their constituency tolerated it. The reason: they were afraid that the USSR would get there first and establish military dominance from space.

    Even so, if JFK had not been assassinated I have read that many historians agree that most of the NASA programs and particularly Apollo would have been de-funded. It was only through sentimental appeal to preserving the JFK legacy that they managed to preserve the 1-2% of the federal budget used for that purpose.

    Today, the political dynamic is far different. As long as the right-wing has control of government it will never fund NASA space exploration again. The most you can get is big sub-contracts for private enterprise like SpaceX. But you will have to notice that Elon Musk is no longer hanging out with Trump. What do you think that is?

    To the GOP, government scientists are the enemy, as are scientists employed by anyone that they do not have direct control over.

    The issue is not motivation or imagination. It is the very peculiar politics of the U.S for the past several decades.

    • Perhaps the issue is lack of competition. Would US have ever gone to the moon if there were no USSR?

  • What what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi@evc i r c u its.com> on Thursday December 14, 2017 @02:10PM (#55740411) Homepage

    It doesn't build industries, establish settlements and scientific research stations, or scale up solutions from expensive one-offs to mass production.
    NASA paid back at least 5:1 every investment ever made in it. Sure not so much today, but we wouldn't have the computer era without the space race, or memory foam mattresses or velcro or insulin pumps or LCD displays or photovoltaic cells.

    Even if going to space is completely pointless (Beyond the information we get from doing basic research) it has encouraged the building of many industries. And even if it was just the information we gathered, it has helped endless amount of lives go from superstition based beliefs to actual scientific inquiry.

    • ^THIS EXACTLY

      Wish I had mod pts for this...

      What kind of idiot is totally ignorant of the ginormous boost to tech that resulted from the space race???

      Going to space does VERY MUCH "build industries" - hell it even *creates* whole new ones!!!

      • What kind of idiot is totally ignorant of the ginormous boost to tech that resulted from the space race???

        To be fair, you'd have to compare it with the things you could do by allocating the same budget on something else. We could fund quantum computers, fusion reactors, batteries, solar panels, or a bunch of other things.

    • how about we pay people to invent those things without also paying them to shoot missiles into space to watch stars. You know that's an option, right? The two aren't mutually exclusive. The big reason we did NASA was it was the only way to get funding for that stuff. The cold war drove the space race and let us tax people (especially the rich) enough to pay for those advancements. Cold Wars over, and it's not starting up again. So if we want money to make the world a better place we're gonna have to find an
    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Actually, weather satellites alone probably pay for the entire space program many times over. They are probably the single best investment we've ever made in anything, on a dollars returned (or at least saved) per dollar invested basis, to say nothing of lives.

      When the hurricane of 38 made landfall at Long Island New York at 2PM, people were out and about their business because they didn't know it was coming. In contrast people knew Hurricane Sandy was coming some five days in advance. Imagine what it wou

    • This argument always bothered me. It's a post hoc ergo propter hoc argument, which is latin and thus means I am very smart and you should listen to me; also that a thing happened after another thing, therefor the first thing caused the second.

      Fasteners evolved before space. The zipper was invented in 1901. Buttons are vastly-different from snaps. Velcro is similar to the hooks on various types of plants which attach to animal fur to carry seeds far away, but somehow is an invention only possible by NA

      • by guruevi ( 827432 )

        It's not impossible, but some things (like radial tires) are things nobody ever thinks of doing until they get the "silly government request" and then find out that it's a pretty good idea.

        Some things, obviously existed but space travel brought them back in the front and allowed them to be commercialized. There are plenty of good ideas in labs, but until someone invests a TON of money into developing it out, it won't ever get to us. The government has unlimited money to spend on such things which business v

    • That's a good argument for the believers. I like it. But it's not going to sway non-believers because it's taking too many liberties with history.

      They're going to scoff at "NASA paid back at least 5:1 every investment ever made in it." and ask how that could possibly be true given NASA's ~$580 billion since it's inception. When you try and give NASA credit for:

      computer era: They'll say that it would have happened with or without NASA, and I have to agree.

      memory foam mattresses and velcro: Ok, but those are

    • we wouldn't have the computer era without the space race, or memory foam mattresses or velcro or insulin pumps or LCD displays or photovoltaic cells.

      This is a fallacy, you are assuming these things would not have been invented otherwise. A dubious conclusion, the work done leading up to these was already done without the space race.

  • by Parker Lewis ( 999165 ) on Thursday December 14, 2017 @02:14PM (#55740463)
    The reason why USA planned a moon travel was not because "it's hard", it was because Russia sent a man to the space first. After the competition is over, all stopped. Maybe China sending man to the space/moon/Mars will make USA react again. Need or competition is the fuel for mankind.
    • We sent a moon mission because it was expensive and our economy was stronger than the USSR's economy. They called our bluff while holding a pair of jacks--which can't quite beat a pair of aces.

    • it was about fear. Sure, competition got the working class fired up, but you needed to get the aristocracy to buy into spending that much of their money (keeping in mind that they think of every dollar as 'theirs'). The threat of space based weaponry did that. Even the pyramids had a purpose. They were built to show other nations that Egypt was not to be trifled with.

      Anyway, that threat is gone, and with it any interest by the aristocracy to pay for space exploration. Unless you can put some money on th
  • Getting to space isn't the hard part -- the hard part is figuring out why we're there.

    To hit golf balls.

  • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Thursday December 14, 2017 @02:19PM (#55740549)

    . Not know-how, or even money, but a certain lack of imagination.

    Getting to space isn't the hard part -- the hard part is figuring out why we're there. [...] It doesn't build industries, establish settlements and scientific research stations, or scale up solutions from expensive one-offs to mass production...[...]

    You answered your own question. Despite your declaration to the contrary it is about the money. Nobody has figured out how to make money at being there. Industries go where the money is. Mass production happens when it is profitable.

  • Johnson simultaneously going all-in to Vietnam and creating the Great Society welfare and Medicare programs didn't leave much money for the Space Program. When we went to the moon NASA got as much as 5% of the national budget. That could not be sustained.
    • I can free up a lot of that money. My Universal Dividend [johnmoserforcongress.com] is an enormous tax cut, stimulus, and aid package all in one. It's fundamentally new economic policy, and causes a reduction in welfare costs by making the poor less-poor. It grows with GDP-per-capita, so it lifts the bottom out of poverty more over time, thus reducing the need for welfare and the associated percentage of our GDP spent toward that. It even takes some of Social Security's burden, guaranteeing solvency and slowly cutting back the pa

  • The article merely repeats what is known for a very long time now and offers no ideas on how to change it. IMHO, there is likely much less benefit of sending a manned mission to Mars for instance compared to what we achieved sending a man to the moon. Keep in mind that the Apollo missions developed rocket technology which was then used for both peaceful and military purposes here on earth (along with much other technology also used here on earth). But it's not obvious to me what new technologies would be
  • TFS says nothing about space not being a void, just that we avoid space.
  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Thursday December 14, 2017 @02:54PM (#55740919)

    When President Kennedy announced the Apollo Program, he famously argued that we should go to the moon because it is hard.

    This is very close to the pick-up line JFK used on Marilyn Monroe.

  • by DanielRavenNest ( 107550 ) on Thursday December 14, 2017 @03:17PM (#55741151)

    In 1972, there were less than 200 active satellites in space ( https://media.tumblr.com/tumbl... [tumblr.com] ). Today that number is about 1500, and those satellites are larger and more capable. But communications, weather, navigation, and definitely military satellites don't make headlines. Missions with people, and "firsts", like flying past Pluto, do. That gives the public a skewed idea about space. All the people getting satellite TV and radio, GPS, and weather reports are benefiting from space, even if they don't realize it.

    Even human missions don't make the news once they are routine. Three astronauts just came back from the Space Station. Did that make the news? Probably not.

  • humanity's expansion into the cosmos slowed and then stopped (not counting robots)

    Why wouldn't we count robots?

    Hey, it's a great photo op to get a human on a different rock and plant a flag. There's potential political points being gained there. But there is no space-race. If we go up there and do it, there's no one to rub their face in it. Maaaaybe we show up Elon Musk? Is that even a fair fight? The US government, NASA, and all the taxpayers vs one rich boi? No, even if we get long-term "we were first" bragging rights when it comes to putting people far away from Earth, it doesn'

  • Can we just not post articles from Slate on Slashdot from here on out?
  • Come on - the whole right doesn't believe in basic research, because you can't make ROI on it in the next quarter or two.

    That, and even though Ike created NASA, the Rethuglicans have always viewed manned spaceflight as a Democratic thing, and so they're agin' it.

    And the fact that none of them has *any* imagination, nor hopes and dreams other than "get rich(er) quick", and nothing else matters.

  • For a compendium of the thoughts of writers of fiction.

I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman

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