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Slideshow: Robotic Renovation at International Space Station

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Ann R. Thryft
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Re: ROBOTIC RENOVATION
Ann R. Thryft   6/4/2014 5:59:15 PM
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Thanks for your enthusiasm, bobjengr. I love space! I just wish we could figure out how to spend money on going there as well as on solving the numerous problems we have down here on planet Earth.

bobjengr
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ROBOTIC RENOVATION
bobjengr   6/4/2014 5:47:29 PM
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Ann--Great post.  I believe we all thought that it was only a matter of time that robotic systems would find their way to aiding manned efforts in space.  You slide presentation is a great indication of what can be accomplished when the need arises.  I do agree with in that it will be a long time, if ever, when these systems can replace men and women when instant judgment is required.  They certainly can do the dirty and dangerous jobs.  Excellent post.

bobjengr
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Re: I'm just glad we're in space
bobjengr   6/4/2014 5:43:18 PM
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lou, I agree completely with you on this one.  I worked on the Titan II missile during the Gemini "shots" and the level of excitement prior to, during, and after each launch was better than your team winning the Super Bowl.  Got to meet all of the Original Seven and that was definitely a "hoot".  I think man belongs in space and I'm hoping the powers that be can find the bucks and willpower to get us back in position so that manned flight can once again become a reality.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Space and STEM
Ann R. Thryft   5/28/2014 1:12:51 PM
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bronorb, I think you are more idealistic and optimistic than I am. I think the economic and social differences, much larger and more diverse population, as well as hugely changed attitudes and focus on consumer products (I agree with you there), mean we will not and cannot be united in those ways again, regardless of the carrot/stick.

bronorb
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Re: Space and STEM
bronorb   5/9/2014 2:47:30 PM
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Ann,

True, we are not as united as we once were (I was there too, BTW). That would change with goals that inspire.

As far as the space race was concerned, it was a very expensive, fast-track undertaking. Arthur C. Clarke pointed out that the way we went to the moon was exactly the wrong way to do it. Launching that massive Saturn V rocket (the biggest ever) and returning three astronauts in a volkswagen-sized capsule with a duffel bag full of moon rocks was extremely wasteful. Millions of dollars of resources gone. It would have been better to start with a space station and eventually build crafts at the space station to travel to the moon and back.

Similar steps could be used to get to Mars and beyond. We may start with setting up a base on the moon, then traveling to nearby asteroids, mining them for resources, etc. Robots and AI would be used (and improved) every step along the way.

I don't know about you, but the next smart phone or tablet means absolutely nothing to me. The scientists, engineers and inventors of the past thought bigger than we do know.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Space and STEM
Ann R. Thryft   5/9/2014 12:30:03 PM
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bronorb, thanks for your clear and thoughtful comments. I completely agree with your description of what happened during the Kennedy-era space program (I was there). But that occurred in a very different context from what exists now: that was the space race, inspired by our competition with the Soviets (as well as post-WWII-era technology that had to be used somewhere). It affected so many different parts of our culture: industry, technology, manufacturing standards, emphasis on sports, fitness programs for schoolkids, the idea of pursuing excellence... And as many have noted in comments on this site, none of those conditions prevail now, including the budget. And we're not united as a nation in the ways we were then.
Then, it was like a sports team pulling together to reach the goal. Now, I think it would be like trying to roll a big rock uphill, similar to Sisyphus in Greek mythology. I suspect NASA is aware of this, as well as aware of the n

bronorb
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Re: Space and STEM
bronorb   5/8/2014 12:41:33 PM
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Ann,

You are absolutely correct. Those are huge problems to overcome. When Kennedy declared that we were going to send a man to the moon and bring him back safely, the obstacles to overcome were maybe even greater. Completely new technologies had to be created and implemented. And they were successful.

In the quest for the answers to those problems, new technologies, procedures, and materials were released to the rest of the world, benefitting everyone.

Cosmic radiation is a big problem but the quest for the answer to that problem will open up new avenues of science and research.

The question is are we going to travel to Mars or are we going to send another tin can there with fancier gadgets inside? And, which option inspires "non-engineers" to get behind it?

Ann R. Thryft
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Rob ots and humans in space
Ann R. Thryft   5/8/2014 12:21:00 PM
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I don't agree with Battar about what can be done by robots on the ISS. It's certainly true that robots are being used more there, as we point out in this blog, but they're doing simple repetitive tasks. They're nowhere near sophisticated enough yet to take over the analytical and supervisory tasks astronauts perform there, which are many.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Space and STEM
Ann R. Thryft   5/8/2014 12:19:31 PM
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bronorb, I agree with you about humans in space and what we can do vs what robots can do there, at least in the poetic & public relations senses you mention. But as we've discussed in other comments boards, the practical barriers are very high for sending us much farther than the Moon. Aside from the huge cost of fuel and adequate supplies and equipment for astronauts, there's also the problem of protecting them from the dangers of cosmic radiation, which we still haven't solved. That's a biggie.

Elizabeth M
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Re: I'm just glad we're in space
Elizabeth M   5/8/2014 5:43:26 AM
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I didn't see it until now, Ann, i will check it out. But I think I have seen info before on all the contributions of NASA, so I will not be surprised if the list is long.

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