About
Content
Store
Forum

Rebirth of Reason
War
People
Archives
Objectivism

Post to this threadMark all messages in this thread as readMark all messages in this thread as unread


Sanction: 11, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 11, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 11, No Sanction: 0
Post 0

Sunday, July 23 - 7:54pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

It is 2017. I remember as a child in the 1980's imagining a futuristic world in the "year 2000" and beyond. Surely, Concorde type supersonic aircraft would be standard across the airline industry. Average cars would fly. And of course, space travel would start to be relatively easy to access for private citizens.

 

One might have speculated that larger space stations would be orbiting the earth, a combination of resorts, research facilities and residences. Sure, maybe you would have to have a higher income to be a part of it, but it would be a feasible dream for many. There might be bases on the moon, perhaps to the level we are currently in Antarctica.

 

Surely, people in 1969 would have imagined a human would be on Mars by 2017. But alas, some difficult realities of space travel have to be accepted at present:

 

1. Space travel is (and may always remain) extremely expensive and dangerous.

 

2. Space travel is an extremely risky investment, and it may be better served by governments who can amass the capital and not be worried about profits. This isn't to say the private sector shouldn't try (not much is stopping them), but so far their results are slow going. The X Prize was won in 2004, and yet Virgin Galactic is not even up and running 13 years later. And that is just for sub-orbital space travel for a few minutes!

 

3. The only opportunity for a regular citizen to travel to orbital space is limited to those who have tens of millions of dollars of disposable income, and the right connections.

 

4. Mining for minerals on asteroids, the moon or other planets does not seem to be a viable market with current technologies.

 

5. The sci-fi wing of Libertarians who imagined minarchist and/or anarchist space settlements...they will not see anything like that in their lifetimes.

 

6. The challenges of sending humans up into deeper space (radiation, long durations, fuel for return, etc) suggests that robots might be the best way to exploit space resources...advances in robotics and AI seem more likely than any major breakthroughs in manned spaceflight.

 

7. While there are some neat theoretical concepts thrown around, there is no propulsion system on the horizon that will open up interstellar travel for the foreseeable future.

 

Of course, any of these assumptions can be tossed out the window with the advancement of technologies and understanding of science. I would love to be proven wrong, but I am coming to terms with the idea that I may never get to go to orbital space. But I will settle for sub-orbital. Hurry up, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin! :)



Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Post 1

Monday, July 24 - 4:19amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Some of us having been waiting even longer...

http://necessaryfacts.blogspot.com/2016/11/still-riding-gray-planet.html

 

I got an application for the "Journalist in Space" competition, but the loss of the Challenger ended that program. Even after that, I learned to fly and began writing about flying for regional and local aviation periodicals.  As soon as I had a few publications, it was easy to goto local airports displaying the "Learn to Fly Here" sign and offer to write up them up. I got in a lot of extra time that way and tried several planes more interesting than the usual Cessna 165.  Most people do not realize how many airports there are. Every county has at least one public strip -- or had... sometimes prosperity closes them as developers buy the land around them or the even airport itself for subdivisions. 

 

Pete cites several serious impediments to the extension of space travel. I suggest a conspiracy theory that no private firm would be allowed to do this because the coterie of governments would pressure them. Instead, we have the current situation of private launch vehicles serving government efforts, or approved private efforts, such as communications, geographic monitoring, etc.

 

Aside from that, the mechanical barriers alone are significant. There is no easy way to lift off. Anti-gravity would be better, of course, but we don't have that.  Also, in the great age of colonization, losses of ships at sea were not immediately experienced by everyone else around the world. If a ship was late, it might be lost, or just late...  Just for one example, Alexander Hamilton's daughter was on a ship that was lost. It was a coastal runner, from Charleston to New York.  They never found any wreckage. It just never made port. That is not the same thing as the losses recorded and televised by the USA and USSR.

 

Then, there is the sad possibility that our civilization is just running out of energy. I don't mean oil. Rise and fall, birth and death, they happen to people and to peoples. We do recover, of course. But it is cold comfort to think that in 2417, this will all be behind us as we argue new problems involving colonists in the Oort Cloud competing for resources and creating new technologies and discovering new sciences.

 

I recommend Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312, Alan Steele's Orbital Decay, and Bruce Sterling's Schizmatrix as glimpses of likely future moments.  But, of course, the point is that we should have been there now.

 

Collectivism costs. There is no way to deny that. As much as I dislike Murray N. Rothbard, he was cogent about Power and Market. Every decision made for power rather than for market carries a costs, a deadweight loss. And that's for benevolent things like roads.  We spent 100 years at war. Every bullet made took some part of the future away from us.  Wars, of course, do not just happen, but are caused by deeper errors in epistemology and metaphysics. The counter-examples are telling.  It is claimed that fascism leads to war.  Yet Portugal and Spain coexisted as neighbors for 50 years without firing a shot. Of course, they both were (and are) dirt poor. Peaceful. But poor. No space programs...

 

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 7/24, 4:21am)



Post 2

Monday, July 24 - 2:36pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

 

Radiation



Post 3

Monday, July 24 - 6:01pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Radiation seems to be a real hurdle, a major unknown. 



Sanction: 5, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 5, No Sanction: 0
Post 4

Tuesday, July 25 - 3:49amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

"Major unknown" is all I found in the article linked by Stephen. It reminded me of the press release from the State Science Institute about Rearden Metal:  a future danger as yet unknown may exist.  

 

What does it mean to say that galactic radiation "rips through you like you were cellophane"?  Does that mean that you don't exist as far as it is concerned, the way nutrinos are not stopped because to them, we are a lot like a vacuum?  Or does it mean that passing through you, the galactic wavicle hits like six atoms, causing ionization and peroxidation that lead to cancer?  And does it keep going to hit the next guy, or is it stopped by you?  Because if you can stop it, then so can rocks.  

 

Colonies in Space by Gerard K. O'Neill suggested, among other solutions, using asteroids as space homes with their rocky masses as shelters against radiation.  Just sayin'...  And as radiation is charged, would not a magnetic field protect you, as does Earth's own?  

 

And, as noted in the article, we might have to accept shorter life spans for the advantages.  Get over it. Do you want 100 years here to die in a nursing home after 30 years of playing golf and shuffleboard, or do you want to colonize Mars... and Ganymede... and Titan... and Triton...  

 

And the same life-extending technologies we pursue here - nanobots; stem cells; whatever else - would work there as well.  You would just need to be repaired more often. 

 

And radiation is energy. Any gardner will tell you that shade plants are killed by the sunlight that other plants need. Imagine trying to explain your life to the humanoid descended from cave fish... Maybe we need to be engineered or evolved to make use of that "killing" radiation the way sunlight makes Vitamin D.  Imagine being in the seas half a billion years ago trying to tell everyone about the great future to be had on land.

 

There is only one question: Are you afraid of the unknown? 



Sanction: 5, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 5, No Sanction: 0
Post 5

Tuesday, July 25 - 5:16amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

The galactic background radiation (GBR) is a huge problem on Mars along with the toxic chemicals coating the surface.  I have seen the idea bandied to send astronauts to the upper atmosphere of Venus in a balloon where the pressure is comparable to Earth at sea level, and the solar wind provides protection against the GBR.  Few people realize just how harsh outer space truly is.  There literally is nothing like it on Earth.

 

The Tyranny of the Rocket Equation

 

The hurdles are technological and currently insurmountable.

 

The Mills theory I have mentioned on this site elsewhere includes an antigravity implication:

 

"But Mills imagined a tractricoid–like distribution of angular velocity of electron current superimposed on a spinning spherical shell. Currents at the equator move very slowly, but the currents at the top and bottom would almost reach the speed of light. Mills conjectured that if the electron could be put in such a state (what he calls a pseudo–electron), it would repel gravitational fields. It would do so with an intensity much more powerful than the force of gravity itself." -- Brett Holverstott. Randell Mills and the Search for Hydrino Energy (Kindle Locations 5432-5436). KRPHistory. Kindle Edition.

 

Until a cheap and powerful alternative to the tyranny of the rocket equation arrives on the scene, we are stuck with the current situation.



Post 6

Tuesday, July 25 - 8:05pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

I have often noticed the poignant yearning among many libertarians and Objectivists for space travel.  I can see the emotional appeal of potentially breaking free from all of the irrational, collectivist, totalitarian nonsense that forms so much of today's cultures. (And this is just in our Western civilization, not the more primitive and hostile cultures we find scattered around the globe.)  And doing so in one clean shot.  And it is like an ultimate expression of man's mind conquering reality with science and courage.


But like Luke says, "Few people realize just how harsh outer space truly is.  There literally is nothing like it on Earth."  (I really liked that observation.)  Yet, the yearning sometimes goes so far as imagine that it is morally acceptable to force other people to pay for it - or to ignore that ugly fact.  That is the first point I wanted to make.  We have to stand by our morality - and the political system based upon it - and not make any exceptions.


The second point I'd make is that the magnitude of the explosion in technology that would result from practicing unfettered capitalism is also something that few people can imagine.  We don't know how long it would take for an unfettered capitalism to find profitable ways to get to Mars.... not any more than we knew three or four decades ago that we would have smart phones and nearly ubiquitous Internet connections. 

 

(This is one of those posts that makes me feel like a wet blanket).



Post 7

Wednesday, August 30 - 11:21amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Pete says: "The progress of space travel is slightly disappointing." Ever since America's communist Apollo moon program ended in December 1972 I've been immensely disappointed. But a return to communism in space is morally wrong and practically unworkable. Indeed, I think Big Brother "soft" tyranny about space all along -- starting in the 1950s -- has severely hurt capitalist space exploration thru a thousand tiny virtually-invisible coercive impediments. Ayn Rand was deeply wrong not to note this in her space essays around 1969.  



Post to this thread
User ID Password reminder or create a free account.