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Humanity as a space species

Posted by: ruperty - Sun May 10, 2015 7:26 pm
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Humanity as a space species 
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Post Humanity as a space species   Posted on: Sun May 10, 2015 7:26 pm
I look forward to the day when humanity becomes a fully-fledged space-faring species where everybody can participate.

I'd be interested the know what others think about what would be needed to get to that point from where we are now?

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Rupert


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Post Re: Humanity as a space species   Posted on: Sat May 16, 2015 11:38 am
ruperty wrote:
I look forward to the day when humanity becomes a fully-fledged space-faring species where everybody can participate.

I'd be interested the know what others think about what would be needed to get to that point from where we are now?

Regards,
Rupert


Either bring down the price per Kg of launching mass into space considerably if we want to do so in the near to medium future or get to the advanced level of NanoTech when we can send small self replicating remote control machines out into the rest of the solar system that can bring back and build the resources like space elevators etc which will make it easier to get into space but looking at the Moores law on that kind of NanoTech I don't think that will be available for about 35-50 years

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Post Re: Humanity as a space species   Posted on: Sat May 16, 2015 7:17 pm
Unfortunately, the nanoites will have other ideas and will build an invasion fleet instead. :shock:

At the current rate of our dithering in space, everyone alive at the moment will be long dead before "we" qualify as a space-fairing species. Still a very open question if we will at all, or will we extinct ourselves or have evolved into another species (naturally or otherwise) by then.


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Post Re: Humanity as a space species   Posted on: Sun May 17, 2015 5:30 pm
JamesG wrote:
Unfortunately, the nanoites will have other ideas and will build an invasion fleet instead. :shock:

At the current rate of our dithering in space, everyone alive at the moment will be long dead before "we" qualify as a space-fairing species. Still a very open question if we will at all, or will we extinct ourselves or have evolved into another species (naturally or otherwise) by then.


I'm not so sure. Spacex is on the way to bringing down the cost to orbit drastically. The main problem, I see, is that there is no economic benefit to going to space (yet). Without that, there will be no big boom. Be that as it may, once the price to orbit gets down, someone may figure out a way to make money from space . . . then things will really take off.

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Post Re: Humanity as a space species   Posted on: Sun May 17, 2015 7:18 pm
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At the current rate of our dithering in space, everyone alive at the moment will be long dead before "we" qualify as a space-fairing species.


So true, so true! Without the government spending to grease the wheels, development of new technology is very slow. And it is not even really 'new' technology, as we have built rockets and capsules before. But everything has to be absolutely perfect when you are launching straight up with humans aboard. Which is why I advocate for the development of a horizontal take-off, two-stage to-orbit, horizontal landing shuttle system.

We are not going to see widespread participation in space flight if a launch can only take 5 or 6 people. We need a 'space bus', something that can take at least 12 passengers to low-Earth orbit, and then transfer them to another vehicle for the rest of the trip. By keeping orbital altitude to a minimum, we can keep the weight of the orbiter down. See my thread 'A New Way To Orbit' for more details.

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Post Re: Humanity as a space species   Posted on: Mon May 18, 2015 7:28 pm
As others have mentioned there are technical challenges to overcome, and currently development is slow and in the hands of a small minority, largely government, though some movement to (rich) private organisations.

Do you think there are things that can be done, or you would like to see be done, in wider society on a global basis to progress space development and interest? What would need to be changed from the way things are now, throughout the world, with this goal in mind?


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Post Re: Humanity as a space species   Posted on: Tue May 19, 2015 2:04 am
Motivation. The "world" has no current motivation to expand beyond this one planet. Right now there are cheap and plentiful resources to exploit, population pressures are not acute, and even social pressures are low (of the people with the power/money anyway). "Everyone" is fat and happy, content with the status quo. This is why the next vaguely useful dot com or app that will return maybe 100% on an investment, safely, is favored over a space startup that *might* return thousands of times over, but is risky and unproven.

Almost all current space science is government sponsored, and ALL of that is politically driven. The spending for the rockets, the spacecraft, and scientific results are all excuses for exercises in wealth redistribution and paying off constituents.

You can't get there from here. Sorry.


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Post Re: Humanity as a space species   Posted on: Tue May 19, 2015 7:28 am
Given the way that capitalism works, we are likely to exceed the limits of some factor of the environment fairly soon. Whether it be carbon dioxide, species eradication, or fresh water, the planet is getting further and further out of balance. The demand for energy has led us to destroy water, turning it into something which will never be drinkable again, in order to fracture rock containing fossil fuels. Disposing of this waste is causing earthquakes in the American Mid-west, while at the same time potentially threatening aquifers which provide drinking water.

Growth is essential to the capitalistic economy, as growth allows the taking of profits. But the profit taking is becoming out of control, and safety standards and sustainability have become of lesser importance than making a substantial profit. The very growth that is so important is threatening our survival. In order for the less-developed nations to improve their standards of living, they must gain access to more resources, resources which are already under pressure from the relatively small population of the industrialized nations.

The United States used to account for the consumption of three-quarters of all crude oil extracted. Now, China is superseding the U.S. as the largest consumer of oil. Daily production has grown somewhat, in order to meet demand, but only through measures such as drilling in 5,000 feet of water, or hydraulic fracturing. Thirty years ago, the North Sea was being developed as the newest large production area. Today, the rigs are being salvaged, as the field is seeing steady declines in production. The oil that came from the North Sea would have lasted for well over 100 years if the consumption rates were the same now as when the field was first identified.

To my mind, the only long-term solution is to expand the sphere of human activity beyond the Earth, to incorporate the bulk of the Solar System. Everything our industries need in terms of raw materials and energy are available out there in quantities many times those of Earth. And waste energy can not be dumped into the environment out there in some form of pollution. There will be no outfalls from space factories, no smokestacks.

Perhaps the fastest way to raise awareness of the limited nature of the Earth is to put a small installation on the Moon. Knowing that there are people living and working on that globe in the sky would force people to acknowledge that the Earth is not boundless, going on and on forever, impossible to use up or damage.

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Post Re: Humanity as a space species   Posted on: Tue May 19, 2015 12:20 pm
Unfortunately, its all not as simple as you make it sound.

halman wrote:
Given the way that capitalism works, we are likely to exceed the limits of some factor of the environment fairly soon.


Doesn't matter. Our society, governance, and definitely our capital markets exist in the moment, or from election to election and reporting quarters. Despite environmentalists and scientists beating their drums about what will/might/could happen, you are not going to see real movement until there are sharp impact to stimulate change. Sadly...

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The demand for energy has led us to destroy water, turning it into something which will never be drinkable again,


Actually, and as an anecdote about how much harder space resource extraction will be, the "water" in space is likely to be just as polluted or hard to extricate. Either contaminated with metals or bound up in other minerals that will require energy and chemical processes to extract.

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To my mind, the only long-term solution is to expand the sphere of human activity beyond the Earth, to incorporate the bulk of the Solar System.


Sure, but because you want to. Looked at objectively. Space resources are actually extremely expensive compared to terrestrial sources, even if they have to be found at the bottom of deep seas. This and the inherent hazardous nature of space is why you did not see all the ideals from the '60s and '70s realized. The gap between the dreams of space advocates and the reality of the accountants and engineers is very difficult to get over.

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Everything our industries need in terms of raw materials and energy are available out there in quantities many times those of Earth. And waste energy can not be dumped into the environment out there in some form of pollution. There will be no outfalls from space factories, no smokestacks.


Not precisely true. Look at LEO. It is already "polluted" by dead and abandoned satellites and debris from space activity that threaten the orbits. Also if you start trying to move industrially relevant quantities of materials up and down to Earth, you are going to dump a lot of propellants and churn the high atmosphere. Likewise if we start strip mining the Moon, it's likely that we will kick up a haze of dust that will be visible from Earth. There's no free lunch.

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Perhaps the fastest way to raise awareness of the limited nature of the Earth is to put a small installation on the Moon. Knowing that there are people living and working on that globe in the sky would force people to acknowledge that the Earth is not boundless, going on and on forever, impossible to use up or damage.


Not really, no more so than the ISS does. It will give space enthusiasts a warm fuzzy feeling, but most people don't and won't care as they go about their own little lives.


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Post Re: Humanity as a space species   Posted on: Sun May 24, 2015 11:00 am
JamesG wrote:
Motivation. The "world" has no current motivation to expand beyond this one planet. Right now there are cheap and plentiful resources to exploit, population pressures are not acute, and even social pressures are low (of the people with the power/money anyway). "Everyone" is fat and happy, content with the status quo. This is why the next vaguely useful dot com or app that will return maybe 100% on an investment, safely, is favored over a space startup that *might* return thousands of times over, but is risky and unproven.

Almost all current space science is government sponsored, and ALL of that is politically driven. The spending for the rockets, the spacecraft, and scientific results are all excuses for exercises in wealth redistribution and paying off constituents.

You can't get there from here. Sorry.



Well, people on this site are motivated I guess, though you are probably right that there isn't much motivation within the "establishment".

Also there is a lack of motivation within a lot of the general public who have other things to worry about. I'm glad you put "Everyone" in quotes as there are many people who are not fat and happy; millions of refugees in the middle east, millions living in poverty in Africa and millions mired by superstition and bigotry in India and millions even without access to clean water.

To many of these people space is far, far away both physically and within their thoughts.

Is not the lack of motivation due to lack of awareness? If people did have the awareness, and personal and social security, would not that motivation arise?

The question then is what needs to change so that the disenfranchised get from where they are now to a point where they are aware and motivated, and able to make a contribution to humanity as a space species?


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Post Re: Humanity as a space species   Posted on: Wed May 27, 2015 10:09 am
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Sure, but because you want to. Looked at objectively. Space resources are actually extremely expensive compared to terrestrial sources, even if they have to be found at the bottom of deep seas. This and the inherent hazardous nature of space is why you did not see all the ideals from the '60s and '70s realized. The gap between the dreams of space advocates and the reality of the accountants and engineers is very difficult to get over.


The resources of planet Earth are finite. We may never run out of something, but the cost of extracting it may be unacceptable. Destruction of the environment is a reality, and we are approaching the point where our survival may be threatened by our actions. When faced with the choice of destroying a vital link in the food chain, or going off-planet for the resource, I believe that we will go off-planet.

I also believe that the cost of space flight is going to come down drastically, as the mass production of launch vehicles lowers unit costs. New technologies will emerge, replacing the rocket launched straight up, making launches more routine. And once we get to orbit, things get so much easier, in terms of the energy needed to go somewhere. The change in velocity between 0 and 7 kilometers per second is far greater than the change in velocity needed to go just about anywhere in the Solar System.

Quote:

Not precisely true. Look at LEO. It is already "polluted" by dead and abandoned satellites and debris from space activity that threaten the orbits. Also if you start trying to move industrially relevant quantities of materials up and down to Earth, you are going to dump a lot of propellants and churn the high atmosphere. Likewise if we start strip mining the Moon, it's likely that we will kick up a haze of dust that will be visible from Earth. There's no free lunch.


Yes, Low Earth Orbit is getting dangerously crowded with junk, but that is typical of our greed and short-sightedness. But a factory in space is not going to dump slag over the side, because it would just stay with the factory. And the Moon will never have a 'haze of dust', because there is no atmosphere for the dust particles to be suspended in. If we do things right, very little material will be launched into space, because we will be able to find the raw materials out there, use energy from out there to process those materials into parts ready for assembly, and send them to Earth via aerobraking. And a good portion of what we make out there will stay out there, rather than being sent to Earth.

In 1950, aviation had made huge strides from the years before World War Two. Yet hardly anyone foresaw the role that aviation would have beginning in the 1960's, because the advancements were just really beginning. The development of jet engines changed aviation drastically, making flying faster and more economical, safer and more reliable. The evolution of the fan jet completely changed the dynamics of flight, allowing aircraft much larger than any imagined previously to be built. We are so early in the evolution of space travel that it is impossible to forecast what will become commonplace, but history indicates that even our wildest dreams may be too tame.

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Post Re: Humanity as a space species   Posted on: Fri May 29, 2015 3:59 am
I am 100% with you,

but the problem is getting there...

we need a drastic change in our society
No more wars.
No more competition.
Halt overpopulation.

Focus on education and innovation as a currency.
with a universal min wage.

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Post Re: Humanity as a space species   Posted on: Mon Jun 01, 2015 9:38 pm
Sigma wrote:
No more wars.
No more competition.
Halt overpopulation.


Those things are what got us to this point. And (arguably) are more likely to drive us beyond Earth than the opposite.

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Focus on education and innovation as a currency.
with a universal min wage.


That has been tried. It doesn't work. Hungry people work harder.


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Post Re: Humanity as a space species   Posted on: Tue Jun 09, 2015 5:15 am
Sigma wrote:
I am 100% with you,

but the problem is getting there...

Exactly. No matter where you are, Space is only about 100 kilometers (62 miles) above your head. What makes it so hard to get there is not the distance, it is velocity. We have to think in terms of 'miles per second' to deal with orbital speeds. It was not all that long ago that 'miles per minute' was the big thing, as in going one mile per minute, or 60 miles per hour. But the barriers fall, the speeds ramp up, and before you know it, we are looking at accelerating our bodies to 17,500 miles per hour. Maybe 18,000 mph if we are in a very low earth orbit, say 100 miles.

Yes, you can orbit the Earth at 100 miles altitude, but not for very long, because the air resistance will slow you down pretty quickly. So, after about 4 days, you would have to re-boost to stay in orbit. But, if we look at a low orbit like that as the end of the leg coming up from Earth, our launch vehicles will be able to carry more to space. The higher the orbit we want, the more energy it will take to put a given quantity of mass there. We have to look at space travel as a sequence of steps, instead of a single journey.

The vehicle which crosses that boundary, between miles per minute and miles per second, must be highly specialized. It must have enough power to overcome air resistance, as well as gravity, and still accelerate. It must be capable of withstanding the heat and stress of re-entry, and it must be able to land back on Earth, preferably with the minimum difficulty. For humans to become a space species, this kind of vehicle will be flown on a frequent basis, transferring people from Earth to space and back.

Perhaps someday we will have ships which can do the whole thing themselves, like the Millennium Falcon, but we can not wait around for them, nor can we wait around for a space elevator to be built, because space must be profitable if we are going to see investment on that scale. Travel to space must become reliable, routine, and downright boring if we are to become a space species, and none of those words describe a vertical launch.

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