• Hi Guest! Forum rules have been updated. All users please read here.

Opinion: Why America Needs A Space Corps

Triton

Donald McKelvy
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
9,723
Reaction score
198
Website
deeptowild.blogspot.com
I thought that this article was interesting for discussion purposes.


"Opinion: Why America Needs A Space Corps"
M. V. Smith | Aviation Week & Space Technology
April 5, 2017

Source:
http://aviationweek.com/space/opinion-why-america-needs-space-corps

American space power stagnated under the stewardship of the U.S. Air Force a long time ago. Congress noted this over 25 years ago, but nothing has been done to fix it. The situation has only gotten worse: The U.S. is increasingly dependent on satellites for economic and military purposes, but those satellites lie undefended and highly vulnerable to attack. Meanwhile, foreign threats grow. The Air Force has done nothing substantive to deter attacks or to defend against them because the service’s interests lie elsewhere. Congress should create an autonomous U.S. Space Corps in the department of the Air Force (as the Marine Corps is to the Navy) as an initial step to set American space power on a path to reach its full potential.

In 2001, the so-called Rumsfeld Space Commission was cited as a last chance for the Air Force to get it right in space before Congress would act to reorganize the national security space community, possibly by creating a separate space force. The Rumsfeld Commission made several recommendations to advance space power, most of which were implemented begrudgingly by the Air Force. The service’s airpower culture has always struggled to accommodate “space geeks” as equals. However, the Air Force took advantage of the distraction caused by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to reverse course.

Satellites have become America’s golden goose and Achilles’ heel. Space is often treated like the “red-headed stepchild,” noted Mike Rogers last December, when he was chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee. “What we have got to recognize is that our adversaries know that we cannot fight and win a war without using space, and they have developed offensive capabilities that we have not done a good enough job of being prepared to respond to,” Rogers added.

In January, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, pointed to the rapidly advancing threats. “Russia and China are developing military capabilities explicitly to deny U.S. forces the use of space, including by targeting our satellites,” he said. It seems the U.S.’s dependence on space systems grows, but the threats grow faster.

American space power stalled under the Air Force for easily understood organizational and bureaucratic reasons. Every year the service faces unexpected bills. There are always new conflicts, crises, contingencies or cost overruns in aircraft programs that require a reshuffling of the budget. Airpower is the top priority, so space dollars pay the bills.

Space power simply cannot receive the priority it deserves inside the Air Force budgeting process. It is a cultural issue. Rand analyst Carl Builder pointed out in The Icarus Syndrome: The Role of Air Power Theory and the Evolution of the Air Force that space power is a competing faction airpower advocates must hold at bay. No matter how vital space power becomes to the nation, if it is relegated to a supporting role inside the Air Force, or any other service or agency, it will always receive short shrift.

The problem is more complicated than competition between airpower and space power. The Air Force has figured out a clever way to rob from the space budget in order to pay bills on the aviation side and then get more money from Congress. As Air Force Maj. Gen (ret.) James B. Armor, Jr., described it in 2008, “Every year there’s a process game where the Air Force cuts the space budget and the [Office of the Secretary of Defense] and Congress, with the loud support of the services and agencies that depend on Air Force space systems, restore it. Cynics point out that this is a Machiavellian way to increase the total Air Force budget—which works.”

The principal interest of the Air Force in space has less to do with securing America’s vital national interests there and more to do with using the space budget for other purposes.

Congress created the U.S. Army Air Corps and later the U.S. Army Air Force to give airmen autonomy within the Army and the ability to grow American airpower to its fullest potential. They succeeded. Now Congress must create the U.S. Space Corps to give space professionals similar budgetary and personnel autonomy within the Air Force, along with a mandate to grow U.S. space power to its fullest potential.

This is the century wherein humans will settle the Moon and Mars, harvest mineral resources from asteroids, and broadcast space solar power safely and cleanly wherever human and machine activity ensues. These transformative actions will take human interests far beyond Earth. Soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen will remain Earthcentric thinkers and warfighters. Only an autonomous U.S. Space Corps—and eventually an independent U.S. Space Force—can develop beyond-Earth thinkers.

U.S. Air Force Col. (ret.) M.V. Smith is a professor of strategic studies at the School of Professional Military Education at Air University. The opinions expressed are his own, not those of the U.S. Air Force, Air University or Aviation Week.
 

fightingirish

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2006
Messages
2,139
Reaction score
115
IMHO the next new branch of US military will be the U.S. Cyber Force than a U.S. Space Corps.
 

Triton

Donald McKelvy
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
9,723
Reaction score
198
Website
deeptowild.blogspot.com
U.S. Air Force Col. (ret.) M.V. Smith doesn't address the implications of what the creation of a United States Space Corps, or a United States Space Force, and the growth of United States space power would mean for the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. Does he advocate that the United States abrogate the treaty? Would this kick off an international arms race into space?
 

sferrin

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2011
Messages
12,067
Reaction score
342
Triton said:
U.S. Air Force Col. (ret.) M.V. Smith doesn't address the implications of what the creation of a United States Space Corps, or a United States Space Force, and the growth of United States space power would mean for the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. Does he advocate that the United States abrogate the treaty? Would this kick off an international arms race into space?
You mean one isn't already happening? At least three countries already have, or are working on, ways to take out satellites.
 

marauder2048

"I should really just relax"
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
2,330
Reaction score
75
Triton said:
U.S. Air Force Col. (ret.) M.V. Smith doesn't address the implications of what the creation of a United States Space Corps, or a United States Space Force, and the growth of United States space power would mean for the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. Does he advocate that the United States abrogate the treaty? Would this kick off an international arms race into space?
Totally irrelevant given that the Outer Space Treaty only prohibits WMDs.
 

Orionblamblam

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
7,402
Reaction score
263
Website
www.aerospaceprojectsreview.com
Triton said:
Would this kick off an international arms race into space?
We can only hope. Arms races are great for technological innovation, and a space-weapons arms race would result in just the sort of technologies needed to aid in the exploration, exploitation and colonization of the asteroids and planets.
 

Avimimus

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Dec 16, 2007
Messages
1,915
Reaction score
14
When I read 'full potential' I couldn't help seeing the bridge view of the Death Star... :)
That is what we're talking about right? Ultimately? Space weapons have to be offense not defensive because there is no way to hide in space.

Orionblamblam said:
Triton said:
Would this kick off an international arms race into space?
We can only hope. Arms races are great for technological innovation, and a space-weapons arms race would result in just the sort of technologies needed to aid in the exploration, exploitation and colonization of the asteroids and planets.
Arms races tend to martial lots of public funding and apply to all stages (from pure research, to actually applied production and utilisation) - it is a shame how hard it is to get the big public investments without the threat of massive destruction. It almost makes triggering an unnecessary arms race look attractive.
 

jeffb

CLEARANCE: Confidential
Joined
Oct 7, 2012
Messages
104
Reaction score
8
Orionblamblam said:
Triton said:
Would this kick off an international arms race into space?
We can only hope. Arms races are great for technological innovation, and a space-weapons arms race would result in just the sort of technologies needed to aid in the exploration, exploitation and colonization of the asteroids and planets.
Yeah but so much effort gets side-tracked into new and interesting ways of killing folk that only about 10% winds up being used for designs which actually benefit the push for colonization/expansion. The advances become a by-product of the process, so it's a hugely (Yuuuugely) inefficient way of getting the necessary advances to make colonization of the solar system anything more than a dream. Besides, who the hell wants a bunch of militaristic dicks running the exploration and expansion into the solar system by humanity?

Musk is on the right track, now if we can just convince him that Mars is a waste of time and building raw material and fuel harvesting and processing facilities on the Moon is the real way forward.

Orionblamblam said:
Plus, i want me a plasma rifle in the 40-watt range. Ain't no BATF laws or regulations against those as yet.
Hey, just what you see, pal.
 

marauder2048

"I should really just relax"
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
2,330
Reaction score
75
Triton said:
marauder2048 said:
Triton said:
U.S. Air Force Col. (ret.) M.V. Smith doesn't address the implications of what the creation of a United States Space Corps, or a United States Space Force, and the growth of United States space power would mean for the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. Does he advocate that the United States abrogate the treaty? Would this kick off an international arms race into space?
Totally irrelevant given that the Outer Space Treaty only prohibits WMDs.
Project Thor anyone?
Science fiction doesn't violate the treaty either.
 

Orionblamblam

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
7,402
Reaction score
263
Website
www.aerospaceprojectsreview.com
JeffB said:
Yeah but so much effort gets side-tracked into new and interesting ways of killing folk that only about 10% winds up being used for designs which actually benefit the push for colonization/expansion.
And that 10% is still waaaaaaaay more than was being done otherwise.

Besides, who the hell wants a bunch of militaristic dicks running the exploration and expansion into the solar system by humanity?
Ummmm.... hello? How about everybody who wants to see it actually get done?

Musk is on the right track, now if we can just convince him that Mars is a waste of time and building raw material and fuel harvesting and processing facilities on the Moon is the real way forward.
Nope. ERRRRRR. Wrong.

There is value in lunar mining and industrialization. There is value in colonizing Mars. And what I've found in a quarter century in trying and failing and finding myself way, way on the outside is: if somebody has a goal in space and is making progress towards that goal... leave 'em the hell alone. Even if you don't agree with their goal, let them do it. Because you know what happens when you meddle? It all falls apart. If they change course halfway through, everything they've done gets torn asunder. Their staff falls apart... the True Believers they've accumulated give up in disgust. The expertise they've generated is now worthless. All the money spent has been for nothing. Whole careers are blown to bits.

If you want lunar industrialization.... then *support* Musks' Mars goals. The fact he's going somewhere other than where you want to doesn't hurt you. It's not a zero sum game. The booster he'll develop to shoot colonists at Mars? It'll shoot whole factories to the Moon.
 

jeffb

CLEARANCE: Confidential
Joined
Oct 7, 2012
Messages
104
Reaction score
8
Orionblamblam said:
JeffB said:
Yeah but so much effort gets side-tracked into new and interesting ways of killing folk that only about 10% winds up being used for designs which actually benefit the push for colonization/expansion.
And that 10% is still waaaaaaaay more than was being done otherwise.

Besides, who the hell wants a bunch of militaristic dicks running the exploration and expansion into the solar system by humanity?
Ummmm.... hello? How about everybody who wants to see it actually get done?
Which is as much as an admission that the only way to get the USG to properly fund the development of the technology necessary to expand into and colonize the solar system is by coming up with some cock-and-bull story about securing space from the commies and tapping into the obscene amounts of money reserved for the military industrial complex. The US Government's blank cheque policy toward military spending being the main reasons why things "actually get done" under the military's watch rather than any claim that the military is inherently better at running projects, which we most certainly know it is not!

Orionblamblam said:
Musk is on the right track, now if we can just convince him that Mars is a waste of time and building raw material and fuel harvesting and processing facilities on the Moon is the real way forward.
Nope. ERRRRRR. Wrong.

There is value in lunar mining and industrialization. There is value in colonizing Mars. And what I've found in a quarter century in trying and failing and finding myself way, way on the outside is: if somebody has a goal in space and is making progress towards that goal... leave 'em the hell alone. Even if you don't agree with their goal, let them do it. Because you know what happens when you meddle? It all falls apart. If they change course halfway through, everything they've done gets torn asunder. Their staff falls apart... the True Believers they've accumulated give up in disgust. The expertise they've generated is now worthless. All the money spent has been for nothing. Whole careers are blown to bits.

If you want lunar industrialization.... then *support* Musks' Mars goals. The fact he's going somewhere other than where you want to doesn't hurt you. It's not a zero sum game. The booster he'll develop to shoot colonists at Mars? It'll shoot whole factories to the Moon.
Nope, sorry, gotta disagree with you there. There is far greater value in developing the resources on the Moon than attempting to colonize Mars. For one it's much closer - teleoperating distance closer, more importantly though, it's far cheaper - meaning there's less of a barrier to other companies that might be looking to invest in/test equipment/set up facilities useful to the resource exploitation effort which will be vital for colonizing the rest of the solar system. It would be aided by the development of bigger boosters but not reliant on them as the Mars effort would be. It will be easier, safer and quicker to stand up a permanent and possibly multiple independent colonies there than on Mars and once you've built a staging/manufacturing base there on the wading pool that is the Moon, doing it elsewhere in the *deep* solar system is far easier and vitally, no longer reliant on input or resources shipped up the well from the old nations of the Earth.

I *do* support Musk's Martian goals, it's his money after all. But while attempting to colonize Mars is certainly an inspirational goal, one that captures the imagination, the effort is going to cost at least two to three times as much as going back to the Moon and setting up a permanent colony there. Importantly, Musk won't be with us forever, those that follow him at SpaceX may not share his goals or his drive and so it may turn out to be a zero sum game after all. His talent, drive and money are unlikely to achieve more than one of these goals and the Moon is closer, a colony there more achievable and the benefits in regards to opening up the rest of the solar system, are vastly superior.

Assuming of course that that is his aim.
 

Orionblamblam

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
7,402
Reaction score
263
Website
www.aerospaceprojectsreview.com
JeffB said:
Which is as much as an admission that the only way to get the USG to properly fund the development of the technology necessary to expand into and colonize the solar system is by coming up with some cock-and-bull story about securing space from the commies and tapping into the obscene amounts of money reserved for the military industrial complex.
National defense is the *only* constitutional excuse for the USG to spend money on space colonization.


There is far greater value in developing the resources on the Moon than attempting to colonize Mars.
The Moon is a factory. Mars is a home. One of those places has everything you need for a *self* *sufficient* colony. And it's not the Moon.


..., no longer reliant on input or resources shipped up the well from the old nations of the Earth.
The Moon will need vast quantities of hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon, none of which is has. Mars does.

You can set up a *base* on the Moon, but a *colony* on Mars.
 

sferrin

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2011
Messages
12,067
Reaction score
342
JeffB said:
Besides, who the hell wants a bunch of militaristic dicks running the exploration and expansion into the solar system by humanity?
Wow.
 

jeffb

CLEARANCE: Confidential
Joined
Oct 7, 2012
Messages
104
Reaction score
8
Orionblamblam said:
JeffB said:
Which is as much as an admission that the only way to get the USG to properly fund the development of the technology necessary to expand into and colonize the solar system is by coming up with some cock-and-bull story about securing space from the commies and tapping into the obscene amounts of money reserved for the military industrial complex.
National defense is the *only* constitutional excuse for the USG to spend money on space colonization.
Are you being serious? I may be mistaken but the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs weren't national defence programs and NASA is a civilian rather than military organisation.

There is far greater value in developing the resources on the Moon than attempting to colonize Mars.
The Moon is a factory. Mars is a home. One of those places has everything you need for a *self* *sufficient* colony. And it's not the Moon.
Nope. Too far from support, to much damage endured by crews and colonists in crossing, no magnetic field and insufficient atmosphere to protect colonists from radiation once they arrive. Too deep a gravity well means difficult and expensive in terms of propellant to deliver cargo to the surface and bring personel and other cargo back up, unless of course they source their fuel from a supply base on, say the Moon. The atmosphere, what there is of it, is 96% carbon dioxide, Argon and Nitrogen in small percentages. Frankly, it's a crap home.

Basically, to do what you want to do on Mars, you're going to *need* a factory on the Moon. That or wear the cost of pulling all the heavy equipment necessary for a colony up from the surface of the Earth.

The Moon is a staging base, you're absolutely right, some people will call it home, but most will be passing through, probably to Mars but I think a lot more towards the belt and beyond. Either way we'll need a fuel supply/depot and space-rated manufacturing facility before we can seriously attempt it.
 

sferrin

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2011
Messages
12,067
Reaction score
342
JeffB said:
The Moon is a staging base, you're absolutely right, some people will call it home, but most will be passing through, probably to Mars but I think a lot more towards the belt and beyond. Either way we'll need a fuel supply/depot and space-rated manufacturing facility before we can seriously attempt it.
What are your thoughts on the "mass driver" to fling raw material from the surface of the moon to L5, as outlined in SP-413?
 

jeffb

CLEARANCE: Confidential
Joined
Oct 7, 2012
Messages
104
Reaction score
8
sferrin said:
JeffB said:
The Moon is a staging base, you're absolutely right, some people will call it home, but most will be passing through, probably to Mars but I think a lot more towards the belt and beyond. Either way we'll need a fuel supply/depot and space-rated manufacturing facility before we can seriously attempt it.
What are your thoughts on the "mass driver" to fling raw material from the surface of the moon to L5, as outlined in SP-413?
That it sounds great in theory but building it would be a herculean task. I'm not sure what SP-413 is? The mass driver idea was, I think, originally one of Gerard O'Neill's ideas for getting sufficient material off the surface of the Moon to build his colonies and SPS's. Idea dates from the 70's I think. Last time I saw it mentioned anywhere though I think it got a pretty serious debunking.

What's your take on using a Lunar rotovator to throw payloads instead?

Sorry, this is getting further and further off topic. I'll leave you guys to it.
 

Orionblamblam

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
7,402
Reaction score
263
Website
www.aerospaceprojectsreview.com
JeffB said:
I may be mistaken but the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs weren't national defence programs
You are mistaken.

Frankly, it's a crap home.
Compared to the moon? It's a ready-made paradise.

Basically, to do what you want to do on Mars, you're going to *need* a factory on the Moon.
Nope. No math has ever suggested that.
 

Triton

Donald McKelvy
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
9,723
Reaction score
198
Website
deeptowild.blogspot.com
marauder2048 said:
Triton said:
U.S. Air Force Col. (ret.) M.V. Smith doesn't address the implications of what the creation of a United States Space Corps, or a United States Space Force, and the growth of United States space power would mean for the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. Does he advocate that the United States abrogate the treaty? Would this kick off an international arms race into space?
Totally irrelevant given that the Outer Space Treaty only prohibits WMDs.
I disagree, the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 is relevant to United States power projection into space and the formation of a United States Space Corps or United States Space Force. One would presume that such a force would move beyond anti-satellite warfare and satellite defense and into space warfare capability. One would presume that a United States Space Force would develop some sort of strike from orbit capability. While kinetic orbital strike weapons or orbital rail guns (mass drivers) may not be expressly forbidden by the treaty as a nuclear, biological, or chemical weapon (collectively WMDs), such weapons violate the spirit of the treaty. If the United States were to establish bases and colonies on celestial bodies, it would seem reasonable that a United States Space Corps or United States Space Force would develop a self-defense capability that at the very least would violate the spirit of the treaty.

The Outer Space Treaty represents the basic legal framework of international space law. Among its principles, it bars states party to the treaty from placing weapons of mass destruction in orbit of Earth, installing them on the Moon or any other celestial body, or otherwise stationing them in outer space. It exclusively limits the use of the Moon and other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes and expressly prohibits their use for testing weapons of any kind, conducting military maneuvers, or establishing military bases, installations, and fortifications (Article IV). However, the Treaty does not prohibit the placement of conventional weapons in orbit and thus some highly destructive attack strategies such as kinetic bombardment are still potentially allowable. The treaty also states that the exploration of outer space shall be done to benefit all countries and that space shall be free for exploration and use by all the States.

The treaty explicitly forbids any government from claiming a celestial resource such as the Moon or a planet.[3] Article II of the Treaty states that "outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means". However, the State that launches a space object retains jurisdiction and control over that object.[4] The State is also liable for damages caused by their space object
Source:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outer_Space_Treaty
 

Triton

Donald McKelvy
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
9,723
Reaction score
198
Website
deeptowild.blogspot.com
Has anyone considered the defense implications of privately-owned space-based resource extraction operations per Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (SPACE) Act of 2015? Hypothetically, could the United States Space Corps, or Force, be called upon to defend the property rights of a United States-based corporation engaged in for-profit Helium-3 mining operations on the lunar surface, or similar enterprise?
 

marauder2048

"I should really just relax"
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
2,330
Reaction score
75
marauder2048 said:
Triton said:
U.S. Air Force Col. (ret.) M.V. Smith doesn't address the implications of what the creation of a United States Space Corps, or a United States Space Force, and the growth of United States space power would mean for the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. Does he advocate that the United States abrogate the treaty? Would this kick off an international arms race into space?
Totally irrelevant given that the Outer Space Treaty only prohibits WMDs.
Triton said:
One would presume that such a force would move beyond anti-satellite warfare and satellite defense and into space warfare capability.
One would presume that a United States Space Force would develop some sort of strike from orbit capability.
These presumptions are founded on what exactly? Exoctica like EMRGs aside, practically every detailed study of orbital bombardment from the
Eisenhower administration to the present has concluded the same thing: bombardment from a terrestrially based launch vehicle is cheaper,
more responsive and more survivable.

Space basing of ABM and defenses against direct ascent ASAT weapons are a different story.
Consider that the last time the US conducted a publicly acknowledged ASAT test, MDA was the lead agency.
That's what the author of the original article is concerned about; Congress gave MDA the role of defense
against hypersonics and may do the same for defense of US space assets.



Triton said:
While kinetic orbital strike weapons or orbital rail guns (mass drivers) may not be expressly forbidden by the treaty as a nuclear, biological, or chemical weapon (collectively WMDs), such weapons violate the spirit of the treaty
No. Neither the US nor the Russians regarded Russian testing of the conventional variant of the Fractional Orbital Bombardment System
as a violation of the spirit or the letter of the Outer Space Treaty.
 

bobbymike

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Joined
Apr 21, 2009
Messages
8,885
Reaction score
173
Making Space Faster

—Wilson Brissett4/10/2017

​Colorado Springs, Colo.—Air Force Space Command is seeking to establish partnerships with “organizations that may have the ability to go faster” in acquiring new capabilities, AFSPC boss Gen. Jay Raymond said at a briefing Thursday at the 33rd Space Symposium here. In developing a warfighting approach to space, “I really see a need to go fast,” Raymond said, so he’s leveraging a number of existing strategies to achieve that. The Space and Missile Systems Center already has rapid acquisition authority through its Operationally Responsive Space office, Raymond said, and he plans to “use those authorities more broadly than we have in the past.” Also, Raymond said he is looking for ways to “partner with [the Rapid Capabilities Office] where it makes sense to do so.” While RCO has not been used for space acquisition previously, “we’re working that as we speak,” he said. Raymond pointed to AFSPC’s ongoing partnership with the National Reconnaissance Office as an example of what a faster process can accomplish. He noticed the NRO was already doing space situational awareness better than AFSPC, so instead of building his own new program from the ground up, Raymond decided “we’ll just buy more of those capabilities” from NRO.

In a separate briefing, Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, boss of Air Force Materiel Command, said today’s space challenges are exactly the sort of problem rapid acquisition authorities were designed to solve. “The sweet spot,” for those authorities, she said, comes “when you’re trying to build that pathfinder, that first-of-a-kind that’s trying to leverage innovative and creative approaches.” She clarified that she was speaking not only of “new technologies,” but also “new concepts of operation” for the space domain. Pawlikowski added that using “other transaction authority” to “rapidly do contracts” would also be crucial for making space acquisition faster. A large part of the speed advantage is achieved through shortening the chain of command. “Under the RCO authorities,” she said, “the decision process actually can stop at essentially the commander of SMC instead of going all the way up.”
 

edwest

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2007
Messages
579
Reaction score
53
This whole idea of a Space Force has a 1950s feel to it, like Space Patrol. There are existing anti-satellite weapons. The other issue is 'blinding' satellites with a laser, which would require an automatic solution integrated into the optics. NASA needed military technology. Those ICBMs launched men and non-military payloads into orbit and beyond. If Elon Musk wants to make a dollar then he should collect the best and brightest, go over some old plans for the moon, update them and take it from there. NASA should be doing R&D. And who knows what secret programs are in place or in operation. Finally, Mars. Radiation, low gravity and cold. If Mr, Musk surrounds himself with technically able, creative minds, he might get there. Or rather, someone might get there.
 

uk 75

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
1,417
Reaction score
71
One thing puzzles me. Why do we want to send fragile people to the Moon or Mars when we have a perfectly good home here ( ok until we screw it up or it gets dinoed)?
The future of space is in AI and nanotechnology.
We will not go to Mars or then to the moons of Jupiter but our intelligence and creativity will on board funny little machines. Silent Running without the humans
 

bobbymike

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Joined
Apr 21, 2009
Messages
8,885
Reaction score
173
One thing puzzles me. Why do we want to send fragile people to the Moon or Mars when we have a perfectly good home here ( ok until we screw it up or it gets dinoed)?
The future of space is in AI and nanotechnology.
We will not go to Mars or then to the moons of Jupiter but our intelligence and creativity will on board funny little machines. Silent Running without the humans
Because for one major reason as you pointed out we are in only one place therefore incredibly vulnerable.

I would say the most important long term “human” policy should be inhabiting other planets, etc. and as soon as possible
 

martinbayer

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 6, 2009
Messages
594
Reaction score
83
Humans are still *vastly* more flexible, versatile, intelligent, and creative than *any* robot created to date, so they don't necessarily have to slavishly wait for each and every minuscule action to be approved by mission control. Especially with Mars as the next likely target of human exploration, that means that with the probable elimination of a two way communication gap of anywhere between 8 and 48 minutes by ceding control to the engineers and scientists on location, humans can explore much more efficiently and effectively than *any* AI created to date. I still vividly remember one particularly pathetic episode of one of those dinky uncrewed NASA Mars rovers discovering some weird white substance being uncovered in its own tracks and so sadly not being able to identify it. In a crewed landing scenario, one of the astronauts would simply have scooped up a sample of the ground layer disturbed by her/his boots and swiftly bagged, tagged, and forwarded it to the crewed in situ surface lab for analysis, with results promptly forthcoming within a few days at most. According to https://mars.nasa.gov/mer/mission/rover/wheels-and-legs/, due to communication delays and other such encumbrances, the effective average absolutely mind boggling surface speed of a Mars rover is about one centimeter per second (for all you still non metric people out there, that's less than a typical garden snail). According to https://www.sciencefocus.com/space/how-long-would-it-take-an-astronaut-to-walk-around-the-moon/, Apollo astronauts managed a walking speed of about 2.2 km/h, which is around half of the typical ambling speed on Earth, but still clocks in at over 61 centimeters per second - a factor of more that sixty over a Mars rover. For the sake of the argument though, let's more than half that again to 30 cm per second to account for stopping, sampling, ruminating, pondering etc.. And if you then linearly scale astronaut walking surface speed down with the higher gravity on Mars, humans on foot still come out with an average speed of over 13 centimeters per second for covering ground on that alien new world, as opposed to a rover slaved to Earth, meaning that, even factoring in an effective human astronaut exploration period of about six hours a day, including one day of rest per week, as opposed to remotely controlled robot rovers in full 24/365 operation mode, per EVA astronaut they still can cover about 36 times the area that an earth controlled rover could in the same time frame, and that doesn't even factor in having scientifically trained humans in situ. Meanwhile, the crewed Lunar Roving Vehicle of Nineteen Seventies vintage clocked in at a maximum speed of 5 meters (or 500 centimeters - get with the times already!) per second. Using a crewed rover, even constraining it at the performance level of half a century ago and again scaling the top speed *down* due to it being on Mars vs. the Moon, the theoretical (but probably unrealistically low - due to increased traction, higher gravity might actually allow you to go faster, both in boots and on wheels) traveling speed without any interruptions would be around 8 kilometers (or 5 miles, whatever) per hour. With the same workload constrictions and assumptions, as a first approximation that would mean a crewed rover could cover about 2400 times the area of one of the current uncrewed rovers in the same time period. My money is therefore quite literally on human exploration as opposed to one trick pony automaton designs for the foreseeable future.
 
Last edited:

bobbymike

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Joined
Apr 21, 2009
Messages
8,885
Reaction score
173
How many people will watch the next advanced robotic lander touchdown on Mars, how many will watch the first human.

An engineer or robotic’s scientist could probably, from a technical, efficiency, safety, cost, etc. standpoint, give me a hundred reasons why a robotic mission is better but the first paragraph means it can never compare to us going.
 

uk 75

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
1,417
Reaction score
71
The arguments above are very persuasive but for one thing: Radiation
The Apollo missions had to be as short as possible so as not to expose crews for too long.
There is no evidence to suggest that we can protect astronauts exposed to radiation.
 

Orionblamblam

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
7,402
Reaction score
263
Website
www.aerospaceprojectsreview.com
One thing puzzles me. Why do we want to send fragile people to the Moon or Mars when we have a perfectly good home here ( ok until we screw it up or it gets dinoed)?
Because robots can't have babies.

In the final analysis, a dead world is just a rock. A *living* world is something special. Send all the robots you want to Mars or Alpha Centauri; if you don't follow those up with humans and oak trees and cats and grass and carp and ants and all the rest... really, what's the friggen' point? Might as well pull the trigger *now* on a full nuclear exchange and get the failed experiment of humanity over with.
 

edwest

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2007
Messages
579
Reaction score
53
One thing puzzles me. Why do we want to send fragile people to the Moon or Mars when we have a perfectly good home here ( ok until we screw it up or it gets dinoed)?
Because robots can't have babies.

In the final analysis, a dead world is just a rock. A *living* world is something special. Send all the robots you want to Mars or Alpha Centauri; if you don't follow those up with humans and oak trees and cats and grass and carp and ants and all the rest... really, what's the friggen' point? Might as well pull the trigger *now* on a full nuclear exchange and get the failed experiment of humanity over with.

You sir, are pathetic. Just an observation. A change of worldview would do you good.
 

edwest

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2007
Messages
579
Reaction score
53
Mars is out of the question - supposedly. Radiation on the way, radiation there and radiation back. Supposedly, boron was going to be the shielding of choice. I seriously doubt engineers have not forgotten to study the existing technical literature. I have seen a youtube video critique of Elon Musk's plans and the spaceship he plans to use, made by an engineer. It turns out his plan passes muster but it appears the astronauts will only be there long enough to drill for water, split it and extract some CO2 from the atmosphere, which will provide the fuel they need for the return trip. I guess they'll have time to pick up some interesting rocks. Don't give up on earth. Mars is very cold and has lower gravity. They need to bring along a hothouse, with the power to heat it, and use local water to see if they can get a few plants to grow. If that works, maybe a return trip.

I strongly suggest they bring along a fully fueled orbiter as backup. And perhaps a second lander just in case they have problems on the ground. Mission Control will be too far away to send help.
 

bobbymike

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Joined
Apr 21, 2009
Messages
8,885
Reaction score
173
I look from 1919 to 2019 and wonder why people even make the “its too technically challenging” argument.

Any proponent of space exploration with the hope of spreading humanity among the stars understands we are at best on centuries to millennia timescales (decades for the pioneers)

Listing challenges we face “right at this moment” is actually pointless to the argument.
 

Orionblamblam

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
7,402
Reaction score
263
Website
www.aerospaceprojectsreview.com
Listing challenges we face “right at this moment” is actually pointless to the argument.
Indeed. The only arguments worth making on a topic such as this are those based on the limitations of known physics, and even there the possibility of workarounds based on conceivable as-yet unknown physics should not be discounted, though they cannot be baselined.
 
Last edited:

martinbayer

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jan 6, 2009
Messages
594
Reaction score
83
Mars is out of the question - supposedly. Radiation on the way, radiation there and radiation back. Supposedly, boron was going to be the shielding of choice. I seriously doubt engineers have not forgotten to study the existing technical literature. I have seen a youtube video critique of Elon Musk's plans and the spaceship he plans to use, made by an engineer. It turns out his plan passes muster but it appears the astronauts will only be there long enough to drill for water, split it and extract some CO2 from the atmosphere, which will provide the fuel they need for the return trip. I guess they'll have time to pick up some interesting rocks. Don't give up on earth. Mars is very cold and has lower gravity. They need to bring along a hothouse, with the power to heat it, and use local water to see if they can get a few plants to grow. If that works, maybe a return trip.

I strongly suggest they bring along a fully fueled orbiter as backup. And perhaps a second lander just in case they have problems on the ground. Mission Control will be too far away to send help.
There are already various perfectly workable radiation shielding options available, such as water tanks or electromagnetic systems - it's just a matter of mass penalty. I have to admit this reminds me of the early and very public criticism of Goddard's work that "rockets could never work in a vacuum". That was utter BS back then, and in my view the radiation pseudo argument is utter BS right now.
 
Top