Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The high frontier

A lot has been said about spaceflight over the past few days. That's understandable, but there's much else that isn't. For example, why we are still here. For anyone interested in our potential, and how we squander it through short-termism and little in the way of informed discussion, I point to a timely post at Beyond Apollo.

I found the link in the exchange at this article, which is a good look at the detail of the present moment; be sure to read the comments too.

If you didn't read this text via the Star Maker post, you might well be in the mood now.

9 comments:

Bartender said...

I was watching the news recently and discovered that NASA has outsourced space travel to private firms.


Robocop wasn't far off the mark in its portrayal of the near future:private firms acting as a bulwark for the beleaguered public sector.

Jedediah said...

One of the things I'm hoping to see in my lifetime is the space elevator. It's such a cool concept and it would make things so much easier.

Martin said...

Well, NASA has started taking steps towards outsourcing and I'm glad it's finally happened.

NASA should be on the very edge, doing the kind of stuff only they can do. Leave the LEO operations to the private firms. SpaceX has made great strides in a very short time and if things go as planned they'll both be resupplying and sending astronauts to the ISS in the near future.

Space elevators would be very cool, but I think it'll still be a while. In the meantime I think vehicles like the Skylon space plane is the way to go.

The Angry Lurker said...

I think our dreams of space are doomed to nothing more than a bit of tourism.

Porky said...

@ Bartender - It's still an odd thought, that's true. Let's hope we've learnt something from the excesses of fiction, if not our own.

@ Jedediah - As with any technology, a space elevator would be great if it brought meaningful improvements to life, and that depends on the investors. I worry only that the bigger the flagship project, the more easily neglect of the basics is overlooked.

@ Martin - The dream has been cooling, we know that, and outsourcing might be the only way to reheat it, or at least keep it lukewarm. I do think it's broadly a good thing, though we should remember the market will still be heavily influenced by NASA, and politics, and these companies could be in for a rocky ride.

@ The Angry Lurker - Now you sound like The Gloomy Lurker. We forget too easily the incredible wealth sitting up there in local space. For a smart operator the tourism would be a way of developing the infrastructure and proving the technology, ready to get licences for mining the moon and asteroids. And then the sky really is the limit.

The Happy Whisk said...

To boldly go ....

Porky said...

... where no man has gone before - in the original at least - later it was altered to 'no one'. The evolution feels right for the ideals the show had, the awareness it gave.

The Angry Lurker said...

Not being gloomy but I do not think we will get it together in time to explore the cosmos without more countries and people getting together, there are too many problems on this planet as it is for us to work together and the technologiy is not ready for the big exploration of space, not in many lifetimes to come I believe.

Porky said...

Good point. Realistically the discord here and now will not be removed simply by going into space. The argument for getting our house in order before going forward is a strong one. While it is possible that going forward will help in doing this, it's arguably more likely that the problems will be intensified with the stakes higher.