It's time to get beyond low earth orbit

Originally published at:


I would clarify that the “red/blue dichotomy” has never been so pronounced as it has been in the past 15-20 years, thanks in a large part to the explosion of right wing news media – talk radio and Fox News – which has been riffing on the same old culture war / wedge issue rhetoric which emerged in the 70s (rhetoric which, of course, includes the “big government” dog whistle which continually places NASA under a lot of pressure).


a surge of gossip in the space exploration community


Sigh. There is no place in the solar system where human beings can survive without constant supplies from earth. That is not going to change, no matter how much money you pout into trying to create a self sustaining mars colony. A moonbase or a marsbase will do nothing whatsoever to ensure human survival if we continue to screw things up down here on Earth.

I really hate to break it to you, but if you want to ensure humanity’s survival, you’re going to have to buckle down and work hard at ensuring that we don’t ruin the only habitable planet within 4 light years (at a bare minimum). I know, it’s not nearly as romantic or as exciting as building a mars colony, and it makes right wing space enthusiasts upset because they hate facing the idea that they can’t have their contempt for environmentalism and still get a gold star for making sure their grandchildren will live long and healthy lives. But it’s the truth.


The thought of re-kindling nationalist rivalry for the sake of manned space exploration feels kinda like burning the furniture to keep warm, when the windows are still open. You don’t really want nuclear brinkmanship to be an incentive for placing airmen in harms way. Sure, someday it’ll make sense to send human explorers out there to do legitimate science jobs robots can’t do, but we haven’t really run out of jobs for the robots yet!


It’s time to get beyond low earth orbit

To what end? Robots can do anything humans can do better and cheaper. No science of note has come from the ISS. In fact, they spend 90% of their time maintaining the systems that keep them alive, not doing science. Meanwhile, robotic probes have been extraordinarily productive – Voyager, Opportunity, Cassini, New Horizons in total probably cost less than a single ISS mission.

If China wants to waste their money on useless stunts to prove how big their dick is, praise the size of their dick, encourage them to continue on, and spend our money on sensible scientific missions.


Yeah, that was its main problem.


Thanks for pointing this out. You are absolutely correct that our only near-term survival chance as a species is to safeguard our current home. It’s probably our only long-term chance at survival, too, but we should still try to expand to other systems. Maybe it’s not possible, but then again, maybe it is. We have little to lose in the pursuit of that goal, and much to gain. Even if we never establish self sustaining off-world colonies, the advances in science and technology that will be realized along the way make the effort very worthwhile.

And hey, maybe our descendants will finally create worm holes or figure out how to access alternate universes. The dream, as they say, is real. :smiley:


As human beings, we want to ensure the long-term survival of our race, and the only way to do that is to grow the human presence in space, in colonies across the solar system.

Isn’t it the height of hubris for us, less than a century from the birth of the modern rocket, to be the generation responsible for humanity millions of years hence? They would certainly laugh at the idea.


“If not us, who? If not now, when?”


Always going to be the response of people who have nothing else to reach for


… he said instead of actually arguing against anything put forward or, indeed, ever having bothered to look past the MSM version. I’ve never read Briebart and haven’t the slightest clue what those hyphenated buzzwords you’re chucking about mean. How’s about tackling the issue instead of trying to insult me?

We try to live up to higher standards.

There are a couple of items in the community guidelines that might apply here

  1. Don’t hijack threads
  2. Don’t post generic talking points

But they are not usually enforced unless the derail is both stupid and also boring.

Try to keep it light and amusing if you want to continue with this.


Pushing out into the solar system certainly doesn’t automatically put us into the two baskets category. Right now we would need another habitable planet for that. However, the advancements in technology necessary for habitation of the solar system would benefit the one basket we do have. Exploiting resources in space isn’t going to harm the Earth environment the way exploiting terrestial resources does. Feasible transportation will likely require fusion power since we have an understandable reticence towards using fission. Solar Power Sats could transmit energy to Earth or space based collectors. So there are plenty of possible positive knock on effects that local space colonization efforts could have on the Earth environment even if it doesn’t give us a second habitable planet.


Are you forfeiting your right to be insulted?


Because the issue is that you’re arguing isn’t based on facts but one of an almost religious fervor where all the evidence, literally, all the evidence in the world isn’t enough for you.

So there’s no issue other than, well, you.


… and the specific evidence I mentioned?


Because I doubt I could convince you that you were once a single-celled organism. You might ask how I know this about your past. I’ll let you in on the secret…

It’s a scientific conspiracy to spread knowledge about how the world really works. Tell all your friends!


I like how “we don’t have the technology to go to the moon!” is perfectly acceptable without acknowledging "we didn’t have the technology to fake going to the moon!"