Human Spaceflight: No Single Rationale Justifies it, NRC Report

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Yminale, Jun 5, 2014.

  1. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

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  2. YellowSubmarine

    YellowSubmarine Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Don't expect a pong in the next few million years. Speed of light is still the law.
     
  3. Ithekro

    Ithekro Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    You have to start somewhere, or you will never start. If the idea remains that there is no point in attempting to get permanently off this planet, then we will never get off this planet, because no one will even try.

    Yes all things die, but that doesn't mean a species has to just sit a wait for it to happen. If evolution is the way of things, and our species evolves into another species over the next several million years before the planet becomes uninhabitable due to either our doing or the sun's radiation changing the local temperature beyond the point were it can support life, would they attempt to escape their fate? If they have managed to hold on to our legacy of technology and sciences (plus whatever advances they have managed in those millions of years, assuming we don't regress). Do we leave it to them to attempt to survive the death of the planet as a habitable biosphere? Will they give up for the same reason we seem to give up? "There is no where to go".

    Wouldn't it be logical to at least try before giving up? We've already gotten to the point were we are discovering potently habitable planets in other solar systems. We cannot know if we can or cannot survive on them without going to take a closer look, right? We can assume we won't survive due to how fragile we are and other biological limitations. We can assume we can't even get there due to the problems of space travel. But then we would have not even tried to survive. And that is one thing a species is supposedly programmed to do...attempt to survive to continue its species. Not all species survive, but we are the only one we are aware of that has technology to assist our survival (or ultimately be our undoing, depending on your outlook on things).

    When we all die out, no one will care (unless there is another species out there that really enjoys our radio and television broadcasts from light years away). But, why do we want to just die out in a fatalistic way of inevitability? Do we think that badly of ourselves as a species? Are we so realistic that we completely write off even the chance of survival?

    A Native American friend of mine told me that his culture use to try to plan for how the next seven generations would be from their day. He also said that if we want to survive, we must go out to the stars. It may be too late due to our wasting of resources and political agendas that have hampered us until it actually is too late to make it before we effectively kill ourselves off by making it so we can't make it before we cross the point of no return. But the idea is that we should try to survive by starting, even if the process will not be completed for several generations. Someone has to take the first step. Even if it cannot be completed in one lifetime or even seven lifetimes. One lifetime might be too shortsighted for such a task, and if thought of that way will spell our doom via inaction.

    So, why not at least do something to put the human race on another planet full time?
     
  4. Dennis

    Dennis The Man Premium Member

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    And the problem is...?

    Seriously, there's more movement and investment right now in finding ways to economically exploit space operations than there has been in a long time - and that's what the previous period of European exploration to which so many like to inappropriately compare space exploration was about - exploitation of new resources. The best way to do that, on Earth, five centuries ago was to send people to live in the new lands. As far as space exploration goes, though, that's the least worthwhile approach.
     
  5. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The flaw in your reasoning is assuming that "getting off this planet" and "the survival of the species" are the same thing. That just isn't so.

    IMO, going to any other planet is pointless if we haven't first learned to live responsibly on this one. Anything that could be used to "terraform" other planets would logically have to be first tried here. Habitats for living on other planets would be of just as much use in reducing our ecological footprint on our own. Generally speaking, if the main benefits of space colonization research in the short term are adapting and surviving here, adapting and surviving here is likewise the necessary first step in preparing to go anywhere else. IMO they're just not separate things.

    Space is going to have plenty of uses in the near-term. But sending large populations to live there is practically speaking a very long way off, if ever.
     
  6. Ithekro

    Ithekro Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    My thinking is extreme long term. At some point, Earth will be uninhabitable due to the temperature too high making it unable to support liquid or solid water, which seems to be a requirement for life as we know it. Thus, if the population is to survive, it must find a way to either live in that sort of conditions, or move someplace that is more favorable.

    You have to start someplace and sometime. Do we wait until we are forced to leave the planet? Will it be too late then because we did not plan ahead as a species because the project would take longer than one political term in office? Will we doom ourselves by not planning head? Do we just accept that we will die out as a species and just not do anything?
     
  7. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    That is extremely long term, being on the order of hundreds of millions of years. Me thinks something else will happen long before then to make the issue moot.
     
  8. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah. I mean, at some point we should also start preparing for the heat death of the universe and our evacuation to another universe... but first things first.
     
  9. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Experimenting on our own biosphere is not logical at all. Practicing on Mars, Venus, or some other suitable body—depending on the technology being tried—makes more sense. If you practice on Earth and mess up, "oops" just won't cut it. We're a long way from understanding the interactions of our planet's ecology.
     
  10. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Unless you're talking about an impact that pulverizes the planet, the best place to survive it is still here. An impact like the one that took out the dinosaurs could be survived in a bunker (as long as it's not too close to the impact site). The world into which you emerge, no matter how badly fucked up by the impact, will still be far more hospitable than Mars.
     
  11. Dennis

    Dennis The Man Premium Member

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    It's as close to certain as anything can be that human beings will not exist in one hundred million years.
     
  12. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    Which would be one of those moot making happenings.
     
  13. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    We're approaching the end of the current interglacial (probably within 3,000 years, based on the length of prior ones), so Canadians, US Northerners, northern Europeans, and a whole lot of Russians are going to need to find someplace else to live. I've already agreed to let several Danish, Swedish, or Estonian girls move in with me, but a lot of other people in the glaciated areas going to have trouble finding new homes.

    So we launch them into space. They're already well adapted to cold, darkness, and spending long periods indoors, and already have good space-habits like never leaving doors and windows open and never going outside without bundling up.
     
  14. Ithekro

    Ithekro Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Might as well look far ahead, since it seems that the idea gets written off as impractical or impossible most of the time. Anything that takes more than a lifetime (or even one or two political administrations) gets written off as someone else's problem. The short term goals are already happening. Its the long term goals that get ignored as "impractical", be they space exploration or world hunger. They get lip service and charity, but are generally thought as impractical goals by those in power unless it can get their people into more power.

    If the trend continues without maybe someone in the private sector coming up with something just because they can and got the money to burn (like Virgin Galactic or Bigelow Aerospace), than the governments and people will tend towards not starting anything. Why? "Because there is no where to go."

    How can we be certain of that? We already are getting theories of faster than light travel and indications of planets in habitable zones in other star systems. Combine that and you have to at least look to be certain that there truly is "no where to go".

    Besides, wasn't there a worry about the human population getting to be too large for the ecosystem to handle in a hundred years or so? I may not be that quick or perhaps the population will become more stable in time, but the threat is still there. Do we have to solve that one on just Earth, or can we spread it around like a species that needs more living space?
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2014
  15. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Supporting a colony on the moon or Mars will consume more resources than one on Earth. If the goal is to minimize stress on the ecosystem, colonizing the heavens isn't the way to do it.

    Not in the foreseeable future, anyway. After the technological singularity, all bets are off.
     
  16. Ithekro

    Ithekro Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I did hear someone once say that if we waited to start, we'd get to the point were we can't afford to make colonies in space or other worlds because we would have gone past the point where our ecosystem can support the process. A process long enough to make those colonies able to support themselves and then later possibly support Earth. Such a thing would take a very long time and resources.

    The tipping point in our resource I think was his argument. That if we wait too long, we will never be able to achieve success because we would have wasted too much time and resources, thus making it truly impossible.
     
  17. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

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    There are an awful lot of resources on Earth. It would take thousands of years of concerted effort to use them all up. Hydrocarbons may well dwindle to become insignificant but most other resources rarely get burned up, or they regenerate, so most of them are going to stick around.
     
  18. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Colonies would never be able to support themselves independently, anymore than the Space Station would. That tether would always have to be there, because there's no realistic, practical, affordable way to "terraform" on a planetary scale. Even Mars, for as small as it is, is just too big for that. And even with an atmosphere, Mars continues losing it to Space and Time. It's also incapable of providing any kind of protection from space radiation. Any Space Colony, even in the long term, is always going to depend very heavily on resources from Earth, no matter what local materials they can use.
     
  19. Dryson

    Dryson Captain Captain

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    Probably the biggest reason that is given for not exploring space and colonizing space is because of religions who believe in the return of a prophet that will take them into the after life where they will enjoy all of the luxuries that they did not enjoy on Earth.

    Such religions do not want humans to leave the planet because in their mind they wont be able to obtain a better reward for keeping and collecting humans close together to make it easier for their prophet to gather up the herd and take it away.

    Procrastination and stagnation based on sheep herding tactics of old where it took the sheep herder a longer amount of time to gather the distant herd members when it came time to get them to the market which would cause the sheep herder to lose money at the market for not being the first on at the market.

    So why hasn't space exploration and colonization not taken off like it should because of the ability of the industrialized sector being able to? Its because of a sheep herder who a rather small and insignificant component in space exploration of which religions of the world are built from.

    Only the basics is what is needed to keep the sheep herders lively hood prosperous. After all you cant graze sheep on the Moon so why even goto the Moon?

    Simple logic then takes over. Sheep might not be able to graze on the Moon without developed facilities that would spark ingenuity but sheep meat can be taken to the Moon and eaten.
     
  20. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    Yep, I get tired of the Pope constantly making speeches about the evils of space exploration. :rolleyes:


    Or you know, we could go with the more realistic reason given for not exploring space: it's expensive.