The Orion's Arm Universe Project Forums

Full Version: NASA, ISS partners quietly completing design of possible Moon-orbiting space station
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Pages: 1 2

Gee. How many ways can this go wrong?

Hopefully all of the horrors my pessimism can conceive are being planned for.
(03-10-2017, 04:50 AM)selden Wrote: [ -> ]

Gee. How many ways can this go wrong?

Hopefully all of the horrors my pessimism can conceive are being planned for.
I have always felt that returning to Luna first was perhaps the best way to indefinitely postpone a human presence on Mars, in that a lunar program can suck up all of the resources and talent needed to go to Mars. On the other hand, I remain far from convinced that sending astronauts to either Mars or Luna has, aside from the entertainment value, the ROI of competently designed, funded, and managed automated missions

If they truly intend to put a crewed habitat in Lunar orbit, NASA could do worse than to dust off the (vintage 1970) proposal to place a Skylab in lunar orbit. Might even save some time and effort. Like they did by recycling a bigger Apollo Command/Service Module study (also from 1970) into the Orion Crew Module.

Its better than having no manned deep space program at all.
The moon is like Hawaii. You don't have to stop there on the way to Asia (Mars), but its a good idea.

Also, deep space will start paying for itself once we start mining the asteriods.
Teleoperation on the Moon is the way forward. By the time humans go there in earnest, they should expect a fully-functioning habitat (built by teleoperated robots) to be waiting for them. I don't really see how a circum-lunar station will help with that.
I'd prefer to focus on the moon over Mars. Frankly, I'm getting concerned that the obsession with Mars is blinding us to its benefits (not much more than Luna) and the drawbacks of long trip times. 3 days to the moon makes everything easier - delivering replacement hardware, fixing problems, sending new personnel, saving personnel, etc. - compared to 3 to 9 months to Mars.

Getting a foothold in deep space (even if "deep space" means "on our doorstep") is about getting to resources that help a space based civilization get moving. Mars doesn't offer much more than Luna.
(03-10-2017, 09:38 PM)QwertyYerty Wrote: [ -> ]Its better than having no manned deep space program at all.

At issue is the proper role of humans in space. The only MacGuffinite in space atm is knowledge; science is best done by robotic probes, more so now than in the past simply due to the increase in their technological capabilities over the past six decades. There is little that requires a human presence in space that cannot be done at far less expense and far more efficiency by automation. Space medicine is an area that requires a human presence in space, but only because the effects of being in space upon the human body is the subject under investigation. Space tourism is another, though the need for humans in space (other than the tourists themselves) is questionable at best, since automated systems are much better suited to the task. Even if you were to extend the definition of space tourism to include human excursions to other celestial bodies (a' la the Apollo Program of the 1960s), the primary drivers would be entertainment for non-tourists (which might, in itself, be useful for the task of garnering additional resources for "real" space exploration) and for discovering what the medical effects of traveling to and walking about on the surface of those "unearthly" places might be.

But what about other, non-scientific activities, such as asteroid mining and extracting other resources from beyond the home world? Again, automation is the less expensive, more efficient, and less risky means to accomplishing those ends. Automated miners do not require life support, sleep, or communications with loved ones back home, nor do they require rotation back to Earth in order to rest and be able to spend their back pay (assuming, of course, that human miners would not be slave labor, and/or that the Powers-That-Be were not following the Auschwitz model of industrial management).

Extended to the OA future of Y11k, humans and other bionts become, in essence, cosmic consumers, ordering such resources and information as they may need/desire, and having it delivered to them via some far-future automated descendant of Amazon or some other online shopping service. If a visit to System X is what is desired, an OA biont can simply order up the appropriate virch and save emself the time and trouble of having to physically travel there (non-corporeal sophonts, which constitute the vast majority of the population, can simply change their data input channels to achieve the same result). The only entities that actually need to go to System X are automated probes collecting data for the expanding library of virtual environments.

In short, unless it is determined that there is some real need to have a human presence in space, one that cannot be fulfilled at least as well by an appropriately-equipped automated system, there is no logical rationale (IMO) for a human presence in space, excepting those mentioned above.

You're describing one side of the dichotomy between two major philosophies of space exploration.

The opposing viewpoint is that the presence of humans in space does not require a technical, scientific or even financial justification. Most attempts to make those kinds of justifications for having humans in space are just forms of rationalization, trying to make it seem sensible to "bean counters".

The major reasons are emotional and political. For example, some people are willing to spend millions of dollars just to go there, whether they get to go to the ISS, on a trajectory that takes them around the Moon, or to Mars. People already have spent tens of millions each to go to the ISS, quite a few have made down payments for suborbital flights, and others have (supposedly) contracted with SpaceX to fly around the Moon. Hundreds have even volunteered to go to Mars without a promise of being able to get back. Supposedly getting himself to Mars is one of the reasons Musk has invested so heavily in SpaceX.
If Musk could put a hotel in LEO that would be a triumph, never mind Mars. A hotel in circumlunar space would be even more challenging, but that might also be an option.

The two opposing strategies for space exploration are a choice between a human presence in space and none at all. If AI research progresses as fast as I think it will (and I'm fairly pessimistic in that regard) then there could be fully competent AI all over the Solar System in a couple of hundred years. If humans do not accompany them then it will be unfortunate, but only from a human point of view. From the AI point of view the Solar System will be open for business, whether we are there or not.
I note that the Indian lunar satellite Chandrayaan-1 is still in orbit, despite being out-of-control for nearly a decade
This has an orbit of 500km to 7500km, a little closer than I expected. It seems that lunar satellites can remain in orbit, at least temporarily, even if you forget about them.
Pages: 1 2