This is the Space Age


#1

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#2

Excellent. Happiest, most uplifting thing I've read all day. Naysayers, begone! smile


#3

not really. we pretty much went at full steam. A hand full of satellites to prove that those work, a hand full of dogs and straight to humans.

Once humans got to space we started hitting one breakthrough after another. First to sleep in space, first to eat, first to poop.

The first space walk was done in this:

a fabric curtain sticking out of a metal ball barely big enough to fit two people.

After Soviets stopped bothering to go to space, the race turned in to a slow crawl with barely any advancement. We still have to hitch rides on rockets that are practically identical to the one that got the above ball in to orbit.
Would you even think of using any vehicle from the 1960s?

That's how stagnant the progress has become and the sad thing is, there's no reason why it should be. For a tiny percentage of national funding NASA can get to mars, mine asteroids and build a moon base and it will create new industries, give jobs to Americans... but then America was never big on logic.

But there's still hope! If China ever even hints at going to Mars we'll be rushing to get there and will have the first reality TV show orbiting Mars in three years tops.


#4

Real World: Mars... bleah.


#5

How many man-made objects are actively working in space right now?

We all want our space elevator, and we all want to get some of our existential eggs out of this one basket, and it's ridiculous that we spend more on Honey Boo Boo than on earth-crossing asteroid tracking... but man alive, my phone communicates with satellites every moment, and I was born weeks before there were human footprints on the moon. It sure feels like the space age to me.


#7

I wont dispute that we are pretty much living in the golden age of robotic exploration in space but my question is what comes next? Yes, we have Curiosity, New Horizon, Opportunity, and others but most of these were approved before the recession and since then Congress/The President have slashed NASA's planetary budget twice. Next year NASA will have the smallest budget in purchasing power since 1986. So I don't know what comes after these brilliant missions like Curiosity/etc. So far all we've approved after the recession is Curiosity 2.0 and Phoenix 2.0. Which isn't a bad thing necessarily, but what is the next great mission for NASA past the 2020's?

You might say Orion/SLS but you must be joking. The manned program is even worse off. They are most certainly going to have delays. Lori Garver, leaving NASA after four years as deputy administrator admitted as much today. Which is fail when you think about it, because Orion/SLS have been around in some form since 2005. Yet even the 2021 time table is too generous.

That is 16 plus years of development. Compared to the 9 years it took to develop both Apollo & shuttle. Of course it isn't like we haven't seen this before. ISS didn't exist until 12 years after Reagan's goal to build it in 10 years and then it took about 13 years to complete. Fail.

The only hope as I see it is Space X, if they pull off reusable Falcon 9 boosters like they're moving to do that'll be a game changer. Which would change things for the better for not only manned spaceflight, but unmanned spaceflight.


#8

Well, that's a nice celebration of the unmanned space program and some reconciliation with harsh reality (even though it's written like something on Jezebel) but still there's no question that as far as manned exploration goes we completely shot our wad on Apollo then clung to the shuttle program long, long after we should have moved on, then nothing. We've got the ISS, which is great, but it's not really even in space. We blew it there.

Of course we didn't completely blow it. The unmanned space program has been a triumph, and that's in a golden age. But don't use that to gloss over our manned failures. A 'smart species' would be doing both in parallel, because individual humans are expendable. We're not in a Space Age till we are comfortably in space.


#9

If your phone was relatively as advanced as the satellite it communicates with it would look like this:

The fact that we littered orbit with these things isn't a feat one should be proud of, and it's a blessing that other fields of science aren't as complaisant, otherwise we'd be posting on BBS forums running on a 25 MHz server talking about how we shouldn't be complaining about this awesome computer age we're all living in.


#10

Lots of good points, and I'd like to show it to fellow rocketry hobbyists who loudly and endlessly grieve over the fact that we can't build Saturn Vs.

But I don't think we're quite in a space age yet . . . or we are, if we set the bar low enough.

We're in a period of active unmanned exploration, for sure. I'd love to see even more of that, and I'd like to see more research on long-game projects, like a GPS and communication system around Mars, "fuel depots" at strategic points in the Earth - Moon system (which might eventually be topped off by H2 and Lox from the Moon's polar deposits), and nuclear power systems.

An actual "space age," to me, would start once space travel and space resources are an integral part of our economy. Not just using space to park satellites or to part billionaires from some of their excess cash; an actual source of wealth.


#11

The robots are doing a fine job. That is so much smarter than sending people at this stage. People are big and evolved to live at the bottom of this gravity well. Information doesn't need to be big. It can be really tiny and still be amazing and useful. Getting little tiny bits of information from one planet to another is such a deal that we should be doing more.

The real problem is that our politics are a fucking mess. That is where we need the rocket-scientists and astronauts now.


#12

Her premise is wrong. Lots of good arguments against it are made in the soon to be published book Safe Is Not An Option: Overcoming The Futile Obsession With Getting Everyone Back Alive That Is Killing Our Expansion Into Space.


#13

dont forget the money and talent wasted on wars. Had that been rederected to space exploration every solid rock in our solar system could have humans on it.


#14

So what you're saying is my cellphone communicates with a satellite?

Just checking, because I had this idea of cells around a tower, and these towers are all over, and it's all terrestrial.

Though, to be fair, sat phones are still big. I don't have one, but the ones I support are big and don't even play snake.

and to be fair, satphones aren't that big.


#15

Arguably, some of the dissatisfaction may have more to do with what 'space age' would mean for virtually everyone.

Even in ultra-soft sci-fi and space opera, what percentage of the population gets to leave their native gravity well, and how often?

Best case scenarios seem to hover around the level of 'about the same percentages that traveled between continents before air travel was cheap' and go downhill from there.

The people who are Very Upset that we aren't cheering on our brave explorers on Mars by now at least have a point that could be reached by (nontrivial) reallocation of resources. Anybody who thinks that the 'space age' starts when they get to go... well, I hope they are either extraordinary, filthy stinking rich, or used to disappointment...


#16

It is not so much that the Space Age is dead as the enthusiasm of the public for space is mostly dead. I blame light pollution. The human race lived for centuries with this huge swath of sky right above their heads every single night that was splashed with countless points of light that twinkled and beckoned and fired our imagination. We made stories about these points of light and dreamed of reaching them one day. Now? Walk outside at night and most people will be lucky to see a couple dozen stars. Hard to keep your eyes on the prize in a situation like that. Most people encounter the beauty of the night sky via their computer and while I am grateful there are so many resources online, it doesn't get you fired up in the same way as seeing the actual stars every single night.


#17

They may have been referring to GPS positioning.


#18

Should be re-titled "This is the Space Age ... For Robots".


#19

Golly, we went to the moon and it turned out to be in Black and White. And just as TV was going color.

Bad marketing if you ask me.


#20

Yup. Exclusively, if I could, but I'm weird about old cars.


#21

Aye, but we'd have no rockets.