The Future of Humanity in Space

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posted on Aug, 19 2003 @ 01:36 AM
For a board about frontier (often pseudo-) science and thinking about the future, there is a remarkable abscence of discussion, here, about manned space programs.... And all while several private groups are about to launch the first non government owned spacecraft... and China prepares to send its first crew into orbit with its Shenzou program.

So, consider this a catch-all thread about manned spaceflight. When the details about my debate tourny prize are forwarded to me, I hope to set-up a webpage that will include info on proposals for the future exploration of the solar system... Until then, however, I'd like to start a little conversation here..

So, how do you think space exploration will go for the next century... and how do you WISH it would develop? Or, dare I ask, do you think manned space exploration should occur at all?

What type of missions should be planned? Should the goal be colonization of the Moon/Mars/Europa, etc, or should we not bother to plant anything larger than science camps up there? What philosophy should missions and designs follow? Should we go for multi-use craft, basic turnaround frames that can be modularly reconfigured, or should we use an entirely expendable design mantra? Should we stay with traditional chemical rockets or use the nuclear option (under which, for the sake of discussion, we should include Ion-Electric rockets ((Not to be confused with the electro-kinetic drives of ATS lore)) )?

And, finally, should our long term goal be to make humanity a multi-world species... that is, should the mission be to have substantial populations, one day, on other planets.. a terraformed Mars, for instance?

..And, I know a lot of you will use the ATS lifeline and just say, "the aliens gave us anti-gravity" or "tesla invented anti-gravity" or whatever, but (and I hate to rope you off), please answer with only KNOWN or THEORETICALLY POSSIBLE concepts in mind. Yes, I know many of you believe the USAF has electrokinetic craft... But, personally, I doubt that those things can make it into space, as they require tremendous energy to work... which, in turn, requires lifting an atomic reactor up with the frame... and, when you do the cost-benefit analysis, I can't see how a fleet of Electrokinetic lifters would be more cost-effective, and strategically valuable, than the Titan 4Bs the USAF openly uses to lift assets into space. Remember, a spacecraft needs to achieve a certain velocity to reach orbit, and a greater velocity to break orbit and explore the solar system... It flies, essentially, by changing orbital orientation in regards to a specific object (a ship en route to Mars is orbitting the Sun in such a way that its orbit intersects with Earth at one end and mars at the other -- no straight path is involved)... So, no really great 'flying' technology can help a craft out if that tech cannot provide the raw velocity needed (never d any 'hover' capability). ..So, to get back to my point, try to reply to this thread with the laws of physics, and celestial navigation, in mind.

posted on Aug, 19 2003 @ 01:53 AM

Originally posted by onlyinmydreams
Remember, a spacecraft needs to achieve a certain velocity to reach orbit, and a greater velocity to break orbit and explore the solar system... It flies, essentially, by changing orbital orientation in regards to a specific object (a ship en route to Mars is orbitting the Sun in such a way that its orbit intersects with Earth at one end and mars at the other -- no straight path is involved)... So, no really great 'flying' technology can help a craft out if that tech cannot provide the raw velocity needed (never d any 'hover' capability). ..So, to get back to my point, try to reply to this thread with the laws of physics, and celestial navigation, in mind.

I like this thread very much and don't want to get off topic, but just wanted to point out that if electrokinetic craft do exist, they may not need to meet any escape velocity requirements, as they supposedly reshape the actual gravitational field around it thus negating that condition be met.

I sincerely wish that all the damn money we're putting into attacking other countries could be put to use in something constructive and internationally uniting like the space program

posted on Aug, 19 2003 @ 03:15 AM
From what I've read, E-K drives do not alter gravity, per se, but instead ride on polarized cushions of air..

However, it's unclear how they actually DO work, but it should be noted that some people believe they can only work in an atmosphere.

A discussion about E-K belongs elsewhere, though. Personally, I suspect (without evidence) that they will only be able to ever work near a planet, or just above one... So, perhaps, a crew on another planet could use an E-K Lifter to move about the surface. Until energy becomes cheap, light, and portable, however, I will assume that spacefarers will use standard chemical boosters to get into space... once there, for long flights, Ion engines would be my choice. However, I could, like Goddard's critics 100 years ago, be very wrong.

[Edited on 19-8-2003 by onlyinmydreams]

posted on Aug, 20 2003 @ 08:57 AM
To me (especially on this board) it will be hard not to use the ATS lifeline... There are so many different reported inventions and we still can't find out for sure if they work or not, because there seems to a lack of interest by the scientific community and especially the media (which would be able to fuel the scientific interest).

Sorry, I was going to give an example, but now I can't even remember the name of the inventor or his craft. But I'm sure it's in the archives here...

But in the mean time.. It's gonna be rocketfuel... And we should get back to the moon with manned flights first before going any further... Build a base there, and because of the weaker gravity launches off of the moon (to for example Mars) will require less energy and less fuel...

posted on Aug, 20 2003 @ 02:13 PM
i hope we colonize to other planets, mainly because if anything were to happen to earth, and we had no othe humans on say mars or further away in another solar system. i would not like to see the end of mankind, also, we may trade places with other alien races and find out more about their lifestyles as such

Regards Jonathan

posted on Aug, 20 2003 @ 02:17 PM

Originally posted by Jonathan
i would not like to see the end of mankind, also, we may trade places with other alien races and find out more about their lifestyles as such

heh Trading Spaces Spinoff: Trading Planets

"I love what you did with the did this all with sheet rocks, toilet paper, and macaroni? Wow....amazing"

posted on Aug, 20 2003 @ 02:32 PM
Just found this:
"Moon Colony 'Within 20 years."


posted on Aug, 21 2003 @ 05:12 PM
YES! big DEFINITE yes humanity will travel the stars within this century.

we can do it right now with the technology we have now. we havent done so because space travel is frowned upon by the institutional, state, and corporate communities. they're just starting to have privatised space travel companies, but even those are consumed by governments and their tentacles (such as NASA) faster than you can say "conspiracy"

but it cant last forever. humanity is at a stage of technological development that it is fasible and will be done. to those naysayers and biblethumpers and other shadow-fearing clouds of despair, you can all stay behind and hide under the box you call your world, but you'll be missing all of the fun!!

but really, it's easy. all you need is power and propulsion. the rest just comes along as needed. the speed of light CAN and IS always surpassed by objects. it is not the limit of travel by no means whatsoever. you can defend yourself with a nice particle beam accelerator which also helps power your systems. you can use an engine that could ride neutrino particles like a sailboat uses wind, for instance. there is an infinite amount of potential in regards to ideas to get a craft out in space.

the problem is the limitations imposed by the few. there is nothing to fear and everything to gain in space travel and it will be something humanity will be a part of by this century.

posted on Aug, 21 2003 @ 05:47 PM
Well really if the time and money were put in I think that the moon should already be colonized, and Mars should already be well underway to getting there.
Unfortunately Candidates saying that they're going to pump billions into the space program does not win them elections, so the programs get a raw deal.

I feel ashamed sometimes watching 2001: A Space Odyssey knowing that we should already be well ahead of what we are and up to this stage.

I believe that it is very possible that we could be well into exploring the solar system by the end of this century.

posted on Aug, 22 2003 @ 07:21 PM
The space station should be completed first. I believe the next logical and practical step is to build a facility on the moon. The reason being, construction of larger scale vehicles, use of alternative propulsion (i.e. nuclear) and such then become feasible and launchable.

This was the original intent anyway (with variations of course - some of the ideals were to construct at the station. I personally don't see this being feasible, but maybe I'll be surprised.)

I believe ion propulsion systems will eventually be introduced, but probably not until flights to Mars that are frequent enough to build a good business case are on the horizon.

There are various proposals for the colonization of Mars. They include terraforming stations, or bubbles; solar-energy reflecting mirrors in orbit about Mars; and thermonuclear explosions in the atmosphere of Mars. The last two being intended to raise the temperature such that if basic life forms (algaes, etc.) are introduced onto the Mars surface, they have a snowball's chance in hell of surviving.

To summarize, my personal opinion is that the most logical, and beneficial sequence would be as follows:

1. finish station
2. build a lunar outpost for constructing and launching
3. start one of the proposed terraforming efforts of Mars.

And, yes, I believe it will be with the intention of permanent colonies so that we would ultiimately be an interplanetary being.

posted on Aug, 22 2003 @ 10:27 PM
The Ion-Electric engine may indeed be the key to unlocking deep space... Fortunately, it is already near the point where it can be considered a 'mature' technology.

An Ion-Electric engine was tested on the NASA probe Deep Space 1... Despite some minor problems at first, the motor worked as intended for most of the trip.

Ion-Electric drives will also be used on NASA's Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter:

Recently, the Bush administration has announced that it will pursue something called "Project Prometheus". Prometheus will pursue advanced ion-electric and plasma engine concepts.

I believe that, first and foremost, a reliable 'spacefaring' industry must be set-up before anything else can be doen in space. that is, before we embark on long-term commitments like colony building, we must have mature engine and life-support technologies. We must also have an 'infrastructure' in space that involves reliable, common surface to orbit craft and a station far more capable than the one being built now.

So far as terraforming goes, though... Such a project would be extremely expensive, if not impossible. Remember, terraforming involves modifying a planet and thwarting natural forces. It will not be as easy as scifi novels make it look. Such projects, if possible, will take upwards of a thousand years (I read this in Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot").

Also, one has to consider 'conservationism' when talking about Terraforming. IF life still exists on Mars, it may be unethical to destroy it/alter its evolution via terraforming. Even if life does not exist, people may become very upset to see the natural features of Mars -- perhaps the greatest in the solar system -- destroyed by human actions.

My opinion:
In the next two decades- Build a reliable STS infrastructure and conduct robotic missions that test advanced technologies. Also, lay the groundwork for a 'shipbuilding' industry in space.
Decades 3+4- Conduct manned missions to Mars, Europa, and, perhaps, Titan. Establish a scientific base camp on Mars.
Dec. 5+6- Establish outposts around Jupiter and Saturn. Settle larger colonies on Mars and, perhaps, Europa.

Also, Venus should not be forgotten. It is aprbably a much better candidate for terraformation than Mars.

posted on Aug, 23 2003 @ 12:36 AM
The concepts discussed in my post were not, in any way, attached to a "sci-fi" source. They were from the Ride-driven path developed after the the Challenger accident, along with a combination of common sense.

Europa and such are out of the question until we make the step-wise improvements that will be accomplished by (IMO) the lunar base, and then most definitely Mars.

We have not even begun to conceive how we could handle Venus. It seems, so far, that lack of atmosphere seems to be easier to deal with than excessive atmosphere. And Venus is most definitely excessive atmosphere. The landers that have touched Venutian surface to date have lasted only minutes to maybe hours before succumbing to the pressures. (Not to mention the most hostile environment for metal, let alone human life.)

posted on Aug, 23 2003 @ 12:59 AM
Yes, I am aware of the fact that the probes that have landed on venus have only lasted for a short time....

Which goes to the point:

A planet's atmosphere is decided, in part, by its gravity. You CANNOT simply add an atmosphere to mars. Martian gravity is not strong enough to hold many elements we need to have a human-friendly atmosphere. To be frank, you can add as much 'stuff' as you want to mars.... a lot of it will simply boil away (which begs the question "How are you going to get all of the thinsg we need to mars in the first place?").

To that extent, Venus is a better target for terraforming because it can actually hold an atmosphere. That is... you have SOMETHING to work with. It also has a near earth level of gravity... which, in the long run, means a lot.

I am, not saying that Venus can be terraformed overnite, but that it serves as a better starting point than Mars. I am also not saying that it can be landed upon in the near term.

I, also, was not saying that terraforming was science fiction... but that, instead, it is, at best, an extremely long term project... One that must take into effect conservation and adaptability issues. the idea that we can terraform a planet in the near-term is... Not realistic.

I do not, also, see why a martian base is needed to explore Europa... Such a base could not contribute to a mission, save for occassional alignments that would be no greater than shots launched from near earth orbit. Remember, conservation of energy dictates that the total amount of energy required to get from earth to europa cannot be greater than to get from earth to mars to europa. All things being even, you are using just as much energy to move raw material 'upwards' among orbital paths in the solar system.

'bases' also, cannot be supported until 'shipping' technology has reached a ceratin level.

posted on Aug, 23 2003 @ 01:12 AM
Stepping from sci-fi to reality, how do you propose that the atmospheric issues (pressure as well as corrosive) of Venus be done away with?

Furthermore, what tabloid have you read that leads you to believe that once an adequate atmosphere is established (via the means laid out in the Ride document) on Mars, that it cannot be maintained?

Europa is out of the question for now.

Think step-wise progressions.

posted on Aug, 23 2003 @ 05:03 PM
OIMD was saying that 'terraforming' is much harder than you have made it seem, and that there are various issues that need to be taken into account when undertaking it. His statements were not what you have made them appear to be... and I doubt, if he could still post, that he would enjoy seeing his words twisted into a form you could badger him on.

Now, that having been said, i read a book once by carl sagan (sorry i can't remember the title) wherein he argued that, over the course of a thousand years, bacteria seeded into Venus' upper atmosphere could change the atmosphere itself.

So far as mars goes, OIMD's point was that low pressure+low gravity=equals a lower boiling point and the inability to hold a dense atmosphere. That's how I took it, at least. Sure, things CAN be done to change mars, but they would involve macro-alterations that would be expensive.

And, OIMD also brought up the 'conservation' issue -- which hasn't been responded to. If there is bacterial life on mars, I doubt terraforming will ever occur there.

Now-- as to my own ideas: I don't see whay a flight to Europa would be any harder than one to mars... once the engineering capabilities in question are developed. OIMD posted a link to JIMO, which will utilize ion-electric engines. Once this and other technologies are mature, it would be cheaper, I believe, to just build craft that can fly to the mons of Jupiter than to build a base on mars and use that to fly out to Jupiter. Remember, you have to truck all of that stuff to mars, first, and a base will be hard to keep going. In the end, developing a system of bases before reliable intra-system flights are a possibility might be a quagmire.

The 'staged' base concept is, I'm saying, somewhat outdated and is reliant upon a chemical rocket mentality.

Now, I have to admit, my friend Karen, who is an aviator, helped me with this post.

posted on Aug, 24 2003 @ 10:44 AM
See?!!! I come to another thread and here's Valhall bullying and insulting people without bad language, so she can not be warned. GROW UP BULLY! GET BACK TO THE SCHOOL YARD. OIMD is trying to discuss a subject with you and you keep on insulting and belittling him by referring to everything he says as SCI-FI, when infact what he says makes more sense. Quit being so aloof bully.

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