Any space/science lovers out there?

As a kid, I always wanted to know everything there was to know about space, the universe, astronomy, space research, and all the sci fi stuff that comes along with it (read: star trek) … as an adult, I realize I’m not exactly smart enough to be an astrophysicist. But I am smart enough to be a good investor. So here goes: We with our space program, NASA and other organizations similar to NASA; we tend to see space exploration as an end unto itself. … If you will, to seek out new frontiers, … to boldly go where no one has gone before. ^This is short sighted. We’re not seeing the bigger picture: investment. We dump billions into NASA for space exploration without a clear cut goal that would ultimately help world economies. On the otherhand, if there was a greater level of privatization of the space program and NASA could work with corporations, there is much profit to be had and the investment is more than worthwhile. And when I say corporations, I specifically refer to natural resources, mining, prospecting corporations… We need to invest much much more to find ways to get people to space faster, cheaper and have them reasonably travel greater distances: There is an entire solar system enriched with natural resources for our taking. Mars’s mineral deposits rival our own as do the hundreds of thousands of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter. Titan has oceans of methane. Europa’s waters are greater than all of Earth’s. Jupiter’s atmosphere can literally produce enough static electricity that could be stored as energy to power some of Earth’s major cities for decades and decades. And let’s not forget that our solar system, though harsh, is not without its prime pieces of cosmic real estate. Mars once supported water and possibly life… with enough technology, it can again. This is an investment opportunity years and years in the making. We as a society have to decide how much longer we’re willing to wait to reap the benefits of our own back yard.

Erm. Not sure where to start here. Basically, commercialization of space travel is starting to happen, just not in mining. It’s more of space tourism and commercial rockets to launch satellites. Mining Mars or Jupiter for natural resources is not going to happen in our life times… And that’s sort of the point of government-funded research like NASA. Inidividuals have short lifespans, so they will not invest in fundamental science that will only pay off in 100 years. So the government, which is supposed to last for perpetuity, needs to fund such research. This is why the engineering department at your university probably had industry partnerships, but the physics department relied on government grants.

And beating the Russians to the moon was politically important in the 1960s. People actually thought studying math and science was something worth doing for the country. And there were some important commercial spin-offs, like Tang instant breakfast drink. :wink:

I’m surprised and dismayed by our culture’s (America, Canada, UK) indifference here. Not so much indifference, as much as an acceptance of a perception that this is insurmountably (sp?) difficult. ohai, we HAVE the technology now, there’s no reason not to believe that this won’t happen in our lifetimes if we direct our resources to it. And while I acknowledge space tourism as the new thing, the natural resource industry would have a field day in space like a kid in a candy store and far eclipse the space tourism industry. We’ve already got the plans and practical designs for a space elevator. We’ve already got better, faster, longer lasting space propulsion technology. We CAN do this. I’m not talking 100 years, I mean within the next two decades.

admittedly i was pretty indifferent but your enthusiasm is highly contagious… LETS GO SPACE!!

Er… so you think mining minerals from Mars will be commercially viable in two decades? Dude.

Forgetting the fact that we’re in a recession for a moment, how is any of this remotely economical?

ohai’s experience and deep exposure to the financial industry has made him a cynical ba$tard… GO SPACE EXPLOARTION!

I think you’ve underestimated how much energy is required to move material from Jupiter or Europa to the inner solar system. Even if you’re willing to wait decades for it to glide towards us on an orbital path, you still have to get it out of Jupiter’s gravity well (about 1000x deeper than Earths’, BTW), AND you have to slow it down (having accelerated for years) enough to drop it into Earth’s well. And if you’re talking mining or water, you’re talking about moving tons and tons of this stuff. Those resources might be usable locally, i.e. around Jupiter, but not here. I do like space exploration, because we all benefit from the idea that humanity is passing historical milestones and achieving impressive things, but the idea that “just open up the free market, and we’ll be drinking bottled Europa water in no time” just seems wacky.

I punched a puppy in the face today.

Well… this thread failed. =[

Now we know why tj2001 wasn’t admitted to any Astrophysics school.

maybe it could work, if we develop new ways of propulsion to allow us to move around faster and cheaper.

Inner Evil Voice Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > Now we know why tj2001 wasn’t admitted to any > Astrophysics school. They told me I was too ambitious. =[ It didn’t help that I was dating the daughter of the Dean of Physics but broke up shortly before my application was reviewed.

A space elevator would make it possible to move a lot of material to and from space. Someone should get on that.

No one ever explained to me how a space elevator would handle the 100-150 mi/hour winds that are common in the stratosphere. Seems to me that we’re talking about significant torque (100 mi/hour spread over perhaps a mile of elevator shaft with a lever arm of >20 miles). Sure, you could make the band flexible, but then the satellite end of the elevator is going to be thrown around like a bullwhip, which doesn’t exactly make it an ideal launch pad for earth orbit.

From what I’ve read, in order for it to work it would have to go up at least 25,000 miles, or about 1/10 of the way to the moon. Shredding from space debris is also a problem. Oh, and we don’t have 25,000 miles of anything strong enough to do it with. Other than that, I see no issues.

Sweep the Leg Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > A space elevator would make it possible to move a lot of material to and from space. Someone should get on that. …they built a ladder to heaven in South Park, this seems like the natural progression.

i think it has something to do with the privatization of that market -> commercialization of space travel, satellites, lazer-beam cannons, etc. don’t get me wrong, i still thinks space is cool and all, but lazers are the future.

bchadwick Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- AND you have to slow it down > (having accelerated for years) enough to drop it > into Earth’s well. can you explain why it would be accelerating during the entire trip? i’ve never taken a physics class, and it seems a bit counter-intuitive to me. i would have assumed you would be able to balance (1) the propulsion needed to get back here and (2) the natural loss of momentum due to friction/drag/whatever and maintain a generally constant speed.