Friday, January 29, 2010

Humanity in Space: Looking at the Big Picture

"So thats more humans in space"
Forum, (discussion thread started January 27, 2010)


"NASA's plans to return astronauts to the moon are dead. So are the rockets being designed to take them there — that is, if President Barack Obama gets his way.

"When the White House releases his budget proposal Monday, there will be no money for the Constellation program that was supposed to return humans to the moon by 2020. The troubled and expensive Ares I rocket that was to replace the space shuttle to ferry humans to space will be gone, along with money for its bigger brother, the Ares V cargo rocket that was to launch the fuel and supplies needed to take humans back to the moon.

"There will be no lunar landers, no moon bases, no Constellation program at all."


"There will be Russian and Chinese manned ships flying no matter what... And now Indians are joining the game as well:

" ... ic=19740.0

"So if NASA is left out of money and USA is no longer able to launch astronauts, others will. And eventually commercial launch providers will gain ability for manned launches, like SpaceX with its Falcon 9 / Dragon."

There's quite a bit more in the thread: but the thread's first post and reply give two major points of view which were discussed as the thread grew.

It didn't take long, by the way, for someone to directly address an implication in the first post:


"Yes the title does show a bit of bias towards our way of thinking. For sure there will be humans in space. The Russians are very able to get to space without any help from anybody else, and China will keep working on their slow but steady military program of human space flight...."

My own take on this isn't all that far from Gravity_Ray's.

I'm a bit disappointed at the prospect of the new NASA approach. A portion of my taxes were paying for NASA's projects, and I enjoyed having a small stake in the American space program. My hope is that the American government, if its leaders decide to drop human spaceflight efforts, will stay out of the way and continue to let American entrepreneurs design and built spaceships.

With due respect to massive government agencies, though, I think that outfits like Bigelow Aerospace and Virgin Galactic are quite capable of competing against the national space programs of other countries. While making a profit, instead of running a deficit.

Interestingly, the Indian space program wasn't mentioned in later comments. And Japan's wasn't mentioned at all. Well, the topic was America's government space program: so maybe it's not that big an omission.

When it's Time to Build Spaceships, People Will Build Spaceships

I've written about this before. It doesn't take a massive federal bureaucracy to build spaceships. Smallish companies around the world are getting the job done right now. (check out "Background" links, below)

And there's more on the way. A lot more, as I see it.

These are exciting times.

That can be good or bad news, depending on your point of view. I think it's great: but then, I'm not all that nostalgic about the "good old days," and like the idea of people developing new technologies and exploring new frontiers.

In the Future - People will be People

I won't be around to see it, but I think something like this will be happening in, say, 2190. Give or take a few centuries:

A fact-finding task force from the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, or whatever we've got by then, will be recuperating from a strenuous tour of a local shopping district.

Being serious-minded people, they'll discuss how dreadful all this runaway commercialism is. While sipping apéritifs in the Earthlight Room of a Bigelow-Hilton: high atop the Rook Mountains, overlooking beautiful, exotic Mare Orientale. Or maybe it'll be the Hotel Nikko Orientale.

Related posts:Background:"International Space Station Tour (Part I)"

NASAtelevision, YouTube (January 21, 2009)
video, 9:44

"Astronaut Mike Fincke takes you on a tour of the International Space Station."

More, on YouTube:

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