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Opinion: Why America Needs A Space Corps

uk 75

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Thank you all for giving me a lot to think about

Orionblamblam I sort of agree with your Jim Kirk style answer to my question.

Robots cant have babies.... I have a worrying feeling that the whole point of AI is to ensure that the Rich, Powerful and super clever live for ever as electronic entities, finally getting away from the rest of us. In which case Mars or the Moon wont matter, they will be off to the Stars in a tin can of chips..
 

edwest

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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.

I'm not the one making the radiation argument, NASA is. https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddar...otect-astronauts-from-space-radiation-on-mars
 

edwest

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Transferred consciousness has already been covered in fiction. I really doubt the rich and powerful will go off into space as just chips. They'll still want a body, likely a fully robotic but life-like body with which to move about. It will have full human sensory capabilities and resistance to everything the peasants can come down with.
 

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As ever the original Star Trek was there before us... Ah Andrea.. Sorry nurse, I am getting back into bed
 

Orionblamblam

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I have a worrying feeling that the whole point of AI is to ensure that the Rich, Powerful and super clever live for ever as electronic entities, finally getting away from the rest of us. In which case Mars or the Moon wont matter, they will be off to the Stars in a tin can of chips..
Let them. If people are happy being uploaded into simulations, let them. They are effectively off in their own little universes. What does it matter if Bill Gates or Bernie Sanders or whatever other 1%er you think of is off in some dusty server somewhere pretending to live the high life, if the real world is still there?

Assume that uploading becomes as simple a matter as sitting in a chair for an hour while a machine unobtrusively reads your mind and records your memories and brain structure, effectively capable of fully simulating you down to the last detail. The resulting digital copy of you can now go off and spend the next subjective million years role-playing as each and every character in the Lord of the Rings... but *real* you is still here, stepping away from the chair, figuring out what you're going to do for supper tonight.
 

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Note that the title of this four year old piece is "Real Martians: How to Protect Astronauts from Space Radiation on Mars" and that the very last paragraph reads “Ultimately, the solution to radiation will have to be a combination of things,” said Pellish. “Some of the solutions are technology we have already, like hydrogen-rich materials, but some of it will necessarily be cutting edge concepts that we haven’t even thought of yet.” Where there's a will, there's a way.
 

edwest

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Well, as far as I can tell, the American space program has been on hold and will likely remain so. My money is still on China to do things that will catch the public interest. It is my guess that recent talk about new Moon missions from the US was spurred on by recent Chinese work.
 

Archibald

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Mars like the Moon has plenty of caves. Inflate a Bigelow module, and radiation is no longer a problem.
 

edwest

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Who writes this stuff? Star Wars fans? Counterspace? Does that mean empty space should be attacked? Anyway. The US has been sitting on its hands, and always citing "the budget." Meanwhile, China wants to go to the moon? "Our moon?" That does pose a threat to US space dominance and lunar dominance. The moon, where the US had once contemplated placing nuclear-tipped rockets. Had contemplated a lunar base under Project Horizon... in 1960. Once declassified, perhaps the Chinese got a copy and decided to go ahead.

Perhaps an updated version of the Fractional Orbital Bombardment System should be sent up. And the X-37B is no doubt conducting experiments in anticipation of further Chinese, and a few Russian, developments. Sigh. It's almost like watching the 'shock' over Sputnik all over again.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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I have a worrying feeling that the whole point of AI is to ensure that the Rich, Powerful and super clever live for ever as electronic entities, finally getting away from the rest of us. In which case Mars or the Moon wont matter, they will be off to the Stars in a tin can of chips..
Let them. If people are happy being uploaded into simulations, let them. They are effectively off in their own little universes. What does it matter if Bill Gates or Bernie Sanders or whatever other 1%er you think of is off in some dusty server somewhere pretending to live the high life, if the real world is still there?

Assume that uploading becomes as simple a matter as sitting in a chair for an hour while a machine unobtrusively reads your mind and records your memories and brain structure, effectively capable of fully simulating you down to the last detail. The resulting digital copy of you can now go off and spend the next subjective million years role-playing as each and every character in the Lord of the Rings... but *real* you is still here, stepping away from the chair, figuring out what you're going to do for supper tonight.
Tad Williams covered this in his sci-fi series Otherland. In order to make sure there's no confusion about which "Bill Gates" is the real "Bill Gates", the last step of the upload process has to be the death of the physical copy.
 

Foo Fighter

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It seems to be a bit early to be talking about a space corps. Nothing has been developed to equip them with so apart from floating around and talking about it, what would they do? About the only consequence at the moment would be cost and expenditure of resources.
 

sferrin

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Tad Williams covered this in his sci-fi series Otherland. In order to make sure there's no confusion about which "Bill Gates" is the real "Bill Gates", the last step of the upload process has to be the death of the physical copy.
Heh, I thought I was the only person who'd read that series. Loved it though I was a bit disappointed in the ending. Conceptually anyway, I can think of a way they could have plausibly pulled off what they were aiming for. (Basically immortality but without having to kill themselves.)
 

edwest

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"advanced capabilities"? Like what? We've got a 'sensor layer' and beam weapons, what more do they want? And at least one person needs a professional writer to help her structure more effective sentences: “There isn’t a constituency for space even though almost everyone uses space before their first cup of coffee in the morning.”
 
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fredymac

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"advanced capabilities"? Like what? We've got a 'sensor layer' and beam weapons, what more do they want? And at least one person needs a professional writer to help her structure more effective sentences: “There isn’t a constituency for space even though almost everyone uses space before their first cup of coffee in the morning.”

Like what? How about finally getting serious about achieving a capability for tactically responsive, low cost space access. Up to now, the Air Force has let others (mainly DARPA) put money into this.

What sensor layer? The lack thereof is why the Missile Defense Agency has made this a high priority objective.

What beam weapons? No HEL or DE weapon of any kind has ever been placed into orbit or even made it to operational deployment on the ground other than the handful of low power quadcopter killers they finally stationed in Afghanistan.

The creation of a Space Force finally creates an advocacy center for advancing and funding these activities. It remains to be seen whether a subordinate command within the Air Force will have the weight to win and defend its program funding but its better than nothing.
 

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With regards as to Capella:

Capella is developing a commercial constellation of small, low-cost Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites. These will be capable of sensing the Earth's surface in all weathers, day or night.

It's an activity that has traditionally been dominated by Big Government - the national space agencies and the military - because of the expense and complexity of doing radar from orbit.

But the technologies being exploited now by so-called "New Space" companies are challenging the old ways of doing things.

Capella put up one 48kg "demonstrator" spacecraft called Denali in late 2018 and was expecting to follow that with two more operational platforms in 2019 and a further 12 in 2020.

With this gradual roll-out would have come steadily improving performance.

But then, as CEO Payam Banazadeh told me, a few hands started to go up from prospective customers who said they'd rather skip straight to the better quality images of the later satellites.

And so the company took the difficult decision to halt its roll-out and bring forward future upgrades. Hence the period of quiet in 2019 as Capella sought to rebuild its next batch of satellites.
Last week, at the Global Geospatial Intelligence Conference in London, Capella revealed details of its new spacecraft. They're bigger (although still under 100kg) and with greater performance. They should now deliver narrow strip scenes of Earth up to 4,000km in length at a ground resolution of 50cm - and better, down to 30cm for US government-approved customers.

The first satellite in this new batch, Sequoia (named after another US National Park), is booked onto a SpaceX rocket for a March lift-off. The hope then is to get another six up before the year's end. However, this will depend strongly on launcher availability.

I've written quite a bit recently about the European "competitor" to Capella - the Finnish company Iceye. Both are trying to break the mould by opening a market for persistent radar imaging where the same spot on the Earth's surface is imaged every hour or so. It's achieved by having multiple spacecraft flying overhead - 36 in the case of Capella; 18 in the case of Iceye.

I say "competitor", but in truth these companies seem to be focussing in different areas at the moment. If Capella is going to major on defence and intelligence, Iceye is building a reputation in the maritime sector. Evidence of this is the new service Iceye is offering to find ships that try to hide illegal activity, such as unregulated fishing.

But such is the newness of what both companies are doing, they probably need their combined efforts right now to build better awareness of what SAR is all about.
 

fredymac

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Ad doesn't say anything but hopefully inspires an institutional culture where members are biased towards anything that gets them personally into space.
 

fredymac

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Who could have predicted. More like Space Farce. For Hollywood to get access to military bases and hardware for background, they need prior review and approval from them. I predict this show will be using props for however long it lasts.
 

sferrin

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I have a worrying feeling that the whole point of AI is to ensure that the Rich, Powerful and super clever live for ever as electronic entities, finally getting away from the rest of us. In which case Mars or the Moon wont matter, they will be off to the Stars in a tin can of chips..
Let them. If people are happy being uploaded into simulations, let them. They are effectively off in their own little universes. What does it matter if Bill Gates or Bernie Sanders or whatever other 1%er you think of is off in some dusty server somewhere pretending to live the high life, if the real world is still there?

Assume that uploading becomes as simple a matter as sitting in a chair for an hour while a machine unobtrusively reads your mind and records your memories and brain structure, effectively capable of fully simulating you down to the last detail. The resulting digital copy of you can now go off and spend the next subjective million years role-playing as each and every character in the Lord of the Rings... but *real* you is still here, stepping away from the chair, figuring out what you're going to do for supper tonight.
Tad Williams covered this in his sci-fi series Otherland. In order to make sure there's no confusion about which "Bill Gates" is the real "Bill Gates", the last step of the upload process has to be the death of the physical copy.
Heh. Love that series but the people who wanted immortality still ended up dead (even if t worked) and the copies lived on. (Well, one did anyway. ;-) ) In order for the "real" you to make it I think you'd have to come up with a way that gradually replaced biological neurons with engineered ones over a period of months or years so they get incorporated. Once the brain is fully mechanical you could move it to a new body. But any copy wouldn't be "you" anymore. (Same thing with transporters but that's another discussion.)
 

Orionblamblam

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Who could have predicted. More like Space Farce. For Hollywood to get access to military bases and hardware for background, they need prior review and approval from them. I predict this show will be using props for however long it lasts.
The shows take on the Falcon 9 heavy is certainly... interesting. Looks like they had access to a large-ish Titan III/IV mockup and redressed it.
 

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