Slideshow: Robots in Space

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Re: Robots in Space- Just when you weren't afraid to go back!
Battar   12/8/2012 10:57:31 AM
Sparky, seriously, would you be willing to leave earth and go live on the moon, in a life-support bubble? Think of the shipping rates from Amazon to your new address.

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Re: Robots in Space- Just when you weren't afraid to go back!
warren@fourward.com   3/29/2013 4:15:21 PM
There has been a robot in space for decades.  Who can forget "Warning, Warning Will Rogers."

I am not happy for robots in space.  I want humans!  It is our destiny.  Robots can suppliment but not replace.  It is our nature.  We just lack a government and space agency without vision.

But I repeat myself...


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attention spans: the Achilles heel of the space program
RogueMoon   5/23/2013 9:40:13 AM
good post, SparkyWatt.  Your multi-point response made a lot of good points particularly this one point you made at the last...


Most of the people who object to this stuff do so because of money.  They scream about 100 billion dollar - 10 year programs as huge wastes of money.  100 billion dollars over 10 years in the US is less than $10 per family per month.  I would gladly pay that to put a colony on the moon.  People who beef about that simply have no sense of proportion.


I agree with you 100% SparkyWatt.  It's the attention span of the American public that kills any program scope beyond a YouTube video made in a simulation lab.   It's not about the money.  There's plenty of money to bail out failing multi-national banks but not even a fraction of that for space exploration. JPL is the sweetheart becuase they get regular funding and use only the oldest vehicles to launch their tiny payloads.  Nice pictures, good streaming video, but what else?

Larger investments in space launch technology are only a waste of money until another 20-30 years from now you reap the benefits.  We are soon to get another post-Apollo generation to look back at NASA's lack of progress for the meager yet supposedly wise expenditure of money.  The human organism hasn't been back to the moon's surface for over 40 years.  Ever notice NASA doesn't run a comprehensive timeline history of its successful programs from start to present?  It starts with Yuri Gagarin, moves up to Apollo, fast forward to the early 80's shuttle highlights... then? the 90's, X-33, nope.  Space Station history from 1984 to present? nope they only fast-forward to highlight reel stuff post-launch 17 years later.  That's right, 17 years of reviews and billions of USD outsourced to Russia later.

We had the most practical yet ambitious program minted post-Columbia called Constellation.  Just as you said, the program got politicized, criticized for its cost (to be made in smaller multi-year payments, not the supposed lump sum figure that kept being posted in the news) then dumped right after the shuttle retired.  What we have today is the most ambition our government chooses to muster.

 I wanted to extend one important thing here that seems to not be widely understood.  This applies to space robotics too.  Whether it's lifting water, aluminum, silicon, or just the human meat bags flying the vehicle, its price per mass to orbit that is nearly the only the determinant.  It's not a manned vs. unmanned issue.  More payload to orbit for less money benefits EVERYONE.

All ambititous space exploration (beyond the ho-hum of today) comes down to having regular and far cheaper access to orbit from the Earth's gravity well.  This means the vehicle technology needs a quantum leap forward to make any real difference beyond either the "economy of scale" approach which fails to get taxpayer buy-in for the lump sum $100B+ price tag or the pseudo-open-source "dumping" approach currently practiced by today's space agency which builds old tech vehicles to yield results as high-tech as what was seen in the 1960's.

Like education of our children, the space program of today is an explicit function of the investment choices or lack of investment choices made in years and decades past.  It starts by having a plan and sticking to it.  The American public needs a longer attention span to make sure we get what we paid for.


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