The end of the Space Age

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by SuperWatto, Jul 3, 2011.

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  1. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    The Economist features an article this week about space after the space shuttle.

    The end of the Space Age

    Inner space is useful. Outer space is history
    [image=http://media.economist.com/images/images-magazine/2011/07/02/ld/20110702_ldp001.jpg]

    [...]
    The future, then, looks bounded by that new outer limit of planet Earth, the geostationary orbit. Within it, the buzz of activity will continue to grow and fill the vacuum. This part of space will be tamed by humanity, as the species has tamed so many wildernesses in the past. Outside it, though, the vacuum will remain empty. There may be occasional forays, just as men sometimes leave their huddled research bases in Antarctica to scuttle briefly across the ice cap before returning, for warmth, food and company, to base. But humanity?s dreams of a future beyond that final frontier have, largely, faded.


    The article doesn't mention the vast riches in our solar system as a reason to still want to explore it further. Would that be because it might be unfeasible? What do people here think?
  2. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    The end of the manned space age, sure. But manned space flight is pretty limited in what it can honestly accomplish right now; unmanned exploration is where it's at and while it's nowhere near as interesting to the general public we've had a lot of success in unmanned exploration over the last few decades. In terms of exploration there is not much a human can do that a robotic probe cannot.

    If human life spans keep lengthening the way they are and we make some serious technological progress over the next century or so, manned space flight may make a return. As it is there simply isn't much practical reason to continue with manned space flight. I'd say these are the three primary things that need to be accomplished to make manned, long-range space exploration a reality:

    -Lengthened human life spans.

    -An engine capable of moving a spacecraft at least 50% of the speed of light.

    -Artificial gravity.

  3. MasterDillon Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 28, 2010
    star 2
    Just wait we'll be back into the stars before you know it, and we won't have to hitchhike with the Russians anymore.
  4. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    If NASA plays its cards right then the NASA replacement would be a cheaper launch vehicle which would mean the end of the Shuttle means the end of such high prices. It matters not though. NASA will not be getting me and you into space. They do pave the way but have not been capable of doing such being stretch by so much corruption.

  5. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Corruption?
    I know nothing of that.

    I thought the reasons NASA is throttling down were:
    - crisis
    - disasters
    - lack of public interest

    Boba, I disagree. There could be a future for manned spaceflight in our own solar system, and your three requirements wouldn't be a necessity. Think astronaut-miners. Those who now repair Hubble would then repair the gas mining facility around Titan.
  6. LtNOWIS Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 4
    Well, I wouldn't be at all surprised if this comic is proven wrong by the Chinese. Flying the Red Flag on the moon would be a pretty useful propaganda boost for them. But I don't see humans going to Mars in my lifetime.
  7. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    Corruption. DC-X had successful flight tests until one landing accident brought on a cancellation and replacement by a launch vehicle that only existed on paper. That vehicle was the Venturestar. Venturestar was cancelled because an aerospace advisor told our government that because the composite fuel tanks could not be made to work the whole system had to be cancelled even though every engineer actually working on the project said the aluminum tanks would work. The shuttle was a cash cow that the aerospace community that built its parts wanted to keep flying. make no mistake that the shuttles were VERY useful, but they should A) never have been built in the first place B) were a cash cow.

    Space-X. They had to sue to get to use launch facilities because the major players tried to block them. Why? Space-X is going to become the cheapest game in town, it's called competition, and the rest of the big boys don't want that.

    Aerospace is riddled with corruption.
  8. Darth-Lando Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2002
    star 6
    I love the hidden quote for that comic:
    "The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there's no good reason to go into space--each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision."
  9. DarthArsenal6 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 16, 2001
    star 5
    Just because the Space Shuttle is to be decommitioned - its the end of the space age ?

    What an arrogant, self-centered way of putting it !

    remember the US is paying russians to send thier astrnauts up there.


    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=13134958

    ....and don't forget China, Japan, India Pakistan, Israel and perhaps Iran are in the race too.

    sea launch:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Launch

    http://www.aerospace-technology.com/projects/sealaunch/

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQXE9ar0S3Y

    who could say that other countries are looking in to this.

    and US new rocket:

    http://www.sprocketeers.org/2011/07/01/new-u-s-space-and-rocket-center-commercial-makes-debut/


    Far from over
  10. firesaber Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2006
    star 3
    The end of the space age is kind of a misnomer. From the US persepective I think it has more to do with our lead in that race. Almost all of the major leaps and bounds and accomplishments have been on the back of the US Space program. Now, we've gone backwards a couple of years to single state rocket technology instead of any type of forward movement.
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