40 Years

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40 Years

Postby loperspest on Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:48 pm

In a couple of hours from now, it will be the 40th anniversary of one of man greatest achievements, landing on the moon. We may not have flying cars, we may not live in bubble domes. I don't eat a food pill for breakfast. But on this day, we landed on the moon. For thousands of years, as long as we looked up into the sky,and seen that white orb, so far, yet so near, we have longed to stride upon those steppes, to survey those alien plains. And on July 20th, 1969, we did. Today, we remember that achievement, that "giant leap for mankind". It was an expensive, expansive project, involving over 400,000 men and woman, all to push those, eventually 12, astronauts toward that lonely shore, "for all mankind".
Thank you, Neil Armstrong, and Buzz Aldrin for taking that small step towards infinity
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Re: 40 Years

Postby towr on Tue Jul 21, 2009 5:53 am

A darn shame we stopped walking after that and instead crawled back into the hole we came from, though.
And now we don't even have the technological skill ready to repeat it, we have to learn it again.
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Re: 40 Years

Postby Gav on Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:53 pm

loperspest wrote:Thank you, Neil Armstrong, and Buzz Aldrin for taking that small step towards infinity


Don't ever forget my hero: Michael Collins.
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Re: 40 Years

Postby loperspest on Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:07 am

Gav wrote:Don't ever forget my hero: Michael Collins.

Amen. No less honour to the lonliest man in history, when on the lunar farside least-ways. I often wonder what would have happened if the Soviet Union had also been able to land, what heights of achievement would they have spurred each other to go for? Let's just make sure this time we go back for good, expanding the human sphere.
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Re: 40 Years

Postby CodeGuy on Thu Jul 23, 2009 9:48 pm

We'll go back for good when we find a way to make a profit. Until then, it'll just be short bursts of interest.
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Re: 40 Years

Postby Wafath on Fri Jul 24, 2009 7:07 am

CodeGuy wrote:We'll go back for good when we find a way to make a profit. Until then, it'll just be short bursts of interest.


And... I'm OK with that. But then I may have been influenced too much by Bob Park.

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Re: 40 Years

Postby bloodeye on Fri Jul 24, 2009 7:16 am

Plenty of people willing to try and make a profit at it.... low gravity industry in a hard vacume promises to make some intresting products. Problem is all the regulations and such of getting there. Well, getting there at all is difficult, but doing so in regulation makes it harder.
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Re: 40 Years

Postby CodeGuy on Fri Jul 24, 2009 7:38 am

Plenty of individuals make a profit, but only because the government funds it. The entire enterprise doesn't actually generate any money. The shipbuilders who built Christopher Columbus' boats got paid, but the entire operation of mounting an expedition to the New World didn't become profitable for another 30 years. There's no gold on the moon, no natives to exploit, no timber to make boats with, none of the things that made the Americas a worthwhile destination for European investors. There are no modern equivalents, either.

I'm not down on the idea of space travel. I went to Space Camp as a kid. Twice. I love NASA. It's just that the enormous expensive of it will always be the major detractor. We have fairly permanent bases on Earth that don't make profits, like in Antarctica, but the cost is more manageable. Just a single trip to the moon is such a gigantic operation and so incredibly expensive than any kind of permanent presence is beyond us for the foreseeable future. It has to get cheaper and it has to start generating money. Probably from tourism at first.
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Re: 40 Years

Postby bloodeye on Sat Jul 25, 2009 9:11 am

As mentioned, way too expensive for tourism to play a major factor anytime soon. A few excentic millionares maight make a trip, but the average person will find it far too expensive. Plus, what will they tour? The inside of the same cramped ship they climbed into on Earth? set up a moon base, give them someplace to go, and tourism becomes more of an option.
And yes, no profit for quite a while, but plenty of corporations who spend billions on research labs, how much would they invest in putting one of those labs on the moon?
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Re: 40 Years

Postby CodeGuy on Sat Jul 25, 2009 10:10 pm

bloodeye wrote: but plenty of corporations who spend billions on research labs, how much would they invest in putting one of those labs on the moon?


What kind of corporations are looking to do research on the moon? The gravity is lower, but it isn't negligible, like in orbit. Astronomy research is good on the moon, but that's generally not the kind of things that corporations do. Last I checked, we *still* have soil samples from our last trip that we haven't bothered to test in any way yet. I'm not sure there's much research for a corporation to do there.
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Re: 40 Years

Postby towr on Sun Jul 26, 2009 7:05 am

CodeGuy wrote: There's no gold on the moon
There isn't? I thought the major composition of the moon was roughly the same as the mantle of the earth.
Admittedly, that doesn't automatically make it a good place to dig for gold, but surely there is some.

no natives to exploit
There weren't in the Americas either. Sure there were natives, but those were terrible at being exploited. That's why they had to import black slaves to exploit instead.

no timber to make boats with, none of the things that made the Americas a worthwhile destination for European investors. There are no modern equivalents, either.
Isn't there suppose to be tritium, which may one day be useful as a fuel for nuclear fusion?
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Re: 40 Years

Postby CodeGuy on Sun Jul 26, 2009 11:48 pm

towr wrote:
no natives to exploit
There weren't in the Americas either. Sure there were natives, but those were terrible at being exploited. That's why they had to import black slaves to exploit instead.


There was quite a bit of exploiting the natives. Since modern Mexicans are a mix of the natives and Spaniards, we're still exploiting them today.

My favorite trick of the Spaniards was that they would not only knock down the local temples, they would build churches right on top of where the native temples had been. So the natives would come to the same place they had always come to worship. Then the reverend would pretty much become the advocate for the people whenever they needed something from the government, which made them associate the church with whatever decent things happened to them. Those things are a large part of how the natives became fervent Catholics in just a few generations.

Heck, most of the reason Cortez was able to conquer the Azteks was because he was able to convince so many of the other tribes to join him. It wasn't *that* hard, since everyone hated the Azteks, but still.

As for gold, it may be on the moon, but it would be so spread out that getting it would be incredibly hard. Geological forces, including magma and water, gather gold together into deposits on Earth, usually within quartz. None of that stuff happens on the moon, so any attempt to get it would have to harvest gigantic amounts of soil and separate the gold out a molecule at a time. That's unlikely to be profitable in the foreseeable future. Maybe after self-replicating nanobots are invented, but then it's only a 5 year window to make the profit before the robots enslave and/or annihilate us.
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Re: 40 Years

Postby Gav on Mon Jul 27, 2009 12:02 am

towr wrote:Isn't there suppose to be tritium, which may one day be useful as a fuel for nuclear fusion?


It's not tritium (which has a half-life of only 12 years), it's He-3. Comes from the solar wind. It's a potential fusion fuel (with deuterium), but quite a bit harder to fuse than tritium and deuterium--which we don't have working yet either.
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Re: 40 Years

Postby CodeGuy on Mon Jul 27, 2009 12:33 pm

Even if we figure out the kinks in that fusion system, it would have to produce a damn lot of energy to outweigh the energy cost of going to the moon to get the fuel.

That's the problem with any endeavor involving the moon. The energy cost, construction cost, and manpower cost to get there is so enormous that there's nothing we could possibly do there that outweighs it. That will be true as long as we're relying on rockets for space travel. It's just a clumsy technology.

It's like crossing the Atlantic in a plane that uses propellers. It can be done, but more as a stunt than anything. If you want to move vast numbers of people efficiently, you need the improved technology of jet engines.

We need a completely different, and vastly more efficient, way of getting into space than rockets. I hear something about space elevator development every so often and people seem to think we're getting closer to pulling it off. That's interesting, but weird enough that I'll put it in the "I'll be believe it when I see it" pile. Hopefully we'll develop something in my life time.
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Re: 40 Years

Postby loperspest on Mon Jul 27, 2009 1:16 pm

While I agree the jet airliner really opened up intercontinental airtravel to the masses, there were plenty of prop driven airliners before. Ever heard of flying boats? As for opening up human space travel, maybe we should get over our fear of nuclear power.
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Re: 40 Years

Postby CodeGuy on Mon Jul 27, 2009 1:33 pm

Nuclear power for the initial thrust to escape velocity? That sounds a little odd. I'd like to see what kind of designs people have in mind for that.
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Re: 40 Years

Postby CodeGuy on Mon Jul 27, 2009 2:46 pm

Actually, the more I think about using nuclear power to get into space, the more confused I am. Nuclear power plants are basically big steam turbines, which is not more applicable to getting into space than coal power. Nuclear blasts generate a lot of power quickly, but I don't quite get how that could be used in a controlled way to get a space craft off the ground and into orbit.

What exactly are you talking about, loperspest? Are people really proposing using nuclear power for ships designed to take people back and forth to the moon?
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Re: 40 Years

Postby towr on Tue Jul 28, 2009 7:06 am

CodeGuy wrote:Even if we figure out the kinks in that fusion system, it would have to produce a damn lot of energy to outweigh the energy cost of going to the moon to get the fuel.
The trick is going there once (or a limited number of times) and build a base. And then you don't need to go there to get something, but you can have it send to you. Launching a cargopod from the moon to earth is a lot simpler and cheaper (after the initial investment) than launching a shuttle from earth to the moon, load up, and return.
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Re: 40 Years

Postby bloodeye on Tue Jul 28, 2009 7:16 am

I've heard suggested, but know little about, the idea to build a massive Electro-Magnetic Slingshot. Series of magnetic rings to accelerate pods up to escape velocity. Not healthy for live passengers or fragile gear, but seem stable enough for transport of raw materials.
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Re: 40 Years

Postby Gav on Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:37 pm

CodeGuy wrote:Actually, the more I think about using nuclear power to get into space, the more confused I am.


Actually, the U.S. (and probably also Russia) developed this technology some 50 years ago in the form of a nuclear ramjet (like the Giant Robot Ant!). They even tested a nuclear rocket in the desert at the Nevada Test Site. It's basically a compact power plant that sucks in air on one side and heats it up to thousands of degrees and spits it out on the other side. It could fly like a plane to get to the upper atmosphere, then switch to fuel tanks (something light, like liquid hydrogen, for maximum momentum transfer per unit energy) when it ran out of air for "fuel." In theory, once it was in space, it could collect the solar wind with magnetic fields and use that, too.

They also wanted the technology to build an airplane that would never have to land. However, they abandoned it all because they knew people would never go for spewing the primary coolant of a power plane straight into the atmosphere.

At least that's how I remember it when I did a senior project on nuclear space technology some (gasp!) 16 years ago. Maybe I've warped some of the details over the years.
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Re: 40 Years

Postby CodeGuy on Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:58 pm

Thanks for the summary. That sounds like a really interesting project.
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