Poll Reveals Americans Don't Believe US Leads in Space Exploration

Moose

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Strangely worded/constructed poll, to. which Sputnik added an inflammatory headline For example, the question from which the headline comes is:
SP2. Which of these statements best describes your opinion about the United States today?

The U.S. is the leading nation in space exploration 17
The U.S. is one of several leading nations in space exploration 64
The U.S. is not a leading nation in space exploration 17
DON’T KNOW 1
SKIP/REFUSED 1
That's hardly a "the US sucks in space!" result. It's not even a "the US is not leading in Space" result because 81% gave answers that have the US as sole the leader or one leader among "several" others.
 

Levsha

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If you have to rely on your former #1 enemy to get your own astronauts into orbit, you're definitely *not* leading in space exploration.
That situation is surely going to change soon, Dragon 2, CST 100, Orion, etc?
 

Hobbes

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If you have to rely on your former #1 enemy to get your own astronauts into orbit, you're definitely *not* leading in space exploration.
Human launches are only a small part of space exploration. If you launch more scientific missions than the rest of the world combined, you most definitely are a leader in space exploration.
 

sferrin

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If you have to rely on your former #1 enemy to get your own astronauts into orbit, you're definitely *not* leading in space exploration.
Human launches are only a small part of space exploration. If you launch more scientific missions than the rest of the world combined, you most definitely are a leader in space exploration.
If you're talking historically, it's not even close by any measure. Apollo, Space Shuttle, Viking, Pioneer, Voyager, Galileo, Hubble, Cassini, New Horizons, 4 rovers on Mars (a 5th getting ready), LRO, MRO, Juno, X-37 and coming up we have SLS, Blue Origin, SpaceX, (in addition to Northrop Grumman and ULA). Two manned space capsules, another space plane (Sierra Nevada), SpaceX Starship, Bigelow's space station modules. And on, and on. Right NOW though it looks bad having to bum rides off former enemy (who isn't a friend by any stretch), and use their rocket engines.
 

Foo Fighter

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Speaking personally, the loss of the shuttle program and much of its hardware was a low point. They are only as good as their last mission and the Chinese have landed on the dark side of the moon. Where have NASA landed lately?
 

Foo Fighter

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Considering how far NASA went, they have definitely been on the quiet side. Mars has been done how many times now? Even the Indians apparently have a moon lander project as have others with the Chinese actually getting there. With all the kudos and achievements of NASA they have yet to replace their high vis projects with reliance on the Russian launch facilities, something that should not have been allowed to happen.
 

Hobbes

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Astronomy flagships: Hubble still operational, JWST nearing completion, WFIRST next.
Outer planet missions: Juno, New Horizons. Dragonfly lander for Titan in the works. Lucy and Psyche. Europa Clipper. InSight, Mars 2020. Nobody else has gone beyond Mars.

Plenty of missions in the works.
 

sferrin

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Speaking personally, the loss of the shuttle program and much of its hardware was a low point. They are only as good as their last mission and the Chinese have landed on the dark side of the moon. Where have NASA landed lately?
They're driving a 2,000lb nuclear powered car on Mars. Does that count?
 

martinbayer

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If you have to rely on your former #1 enemy to get your own astronauts into orbit, you're definitely *not* leading in space exploration.
That situation is surely going to change soon, Dragon 2, CST 100, Orion, etc?
It very well may (and I honestly, truly yearn it will) indeed change in the very near future, but I understand that the poll concerned the situation as it stands *right now* (i.e. current reality, not hopeful expectation or wishful thinking). And one thing I learned very soon early on in engineering studies (as opposed to business studies, which perhaps not too coincientally are abbreviated as BS) is that you can *never* rely that *anything* at all "is surely going to change soon" the way you want or hope it to do...
 
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martinbayer

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If you have to rely on your former #1 enemy to get your own astronauts into orbit, you're definitely *not* leading in space exploration.
Human launches are only a small part of space exploration. If you launch more scientific missions than the rest of the world combined, you most definitely are a leader in space exploration.
This is probably one of those fundamentally intractable differences of opinion, but to me personally *human* space exploration (i.e. physically "being there" as a sentient being) is the absolute crown jewel of space exploration. I am completely convinced that one single astronaut is able to do more valuable scientific work in one single eight hour working day on the Earth's Moon than a lunar rover could do in at least two weeks of around the clock activities, and taking communication delays and the resulting snail's pace of current Mars rovers into account, I would extremely conservatively estimate the ratio to be less than one astronaut working day versus one 24/7 month of rover utilization (and that's probably a very low ball estimate, looking at the utterly unimpressive accumulated surface speeds of all Mars rovers so far). In time scales, it's probably like evaluating a planetray surface panorama in one fell swoop versus trying to view it almost pixel by pixel though a borescope.
 
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martinbayer

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If you have to rely on your former #1 enemy to get your own astronauts into orbit, you're definitely *not* leading in space exploration.
Human launches are only a small part of space exploration. If you launch more scientific missions than the rest of the world combined, you most definitely are a leader in space exploration.
If you're talking historically, it's not even close by any measure. Apollo, Space Shuttle, Viking, Pioneer, Voyager, Galileo, Hubble, Cassini, New Horizons, 4 rovers on Mars (a 5th getting ready), LRO, MRO, Juno, X-37 and coming up we have SLS, Blue Origin, SpaceX, (in addition to Northrop Grumman and ULA). Two manned space capsules, another space plane (Sierra Nevada), SpaceX Starship, Bigelow's space station modules. And on, and on. Right NOW though it looks bad having to bum rides off former enemy (who isn't a friend by any stretch), and use their rocket engines.
Historically speaking yes, but in the present (which those polls were targeting) you're always only as good as your last success or failure vs. those of your competitors, especially if you're currently riding on their coattails in terms of having to hitch rides for your astronauts. Imagine a Soviet Lend/Lease program for the USA in WWII.
 
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martinbayer

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If you have to rely on your former #1 enemy to get your own astronauts into orbit, you're definitely *not* leading in space exploration.
Human launches are only a small part of space exploration. If you launch more scientific missions than the rest of the world combined, you most definitely are a leader in space exploration.
You have to take the scientific return of results per mission into account. I contend that human missions are *immensely* more fruitful per launch and duration than robotic ones, because of the presence of human intelligence and associated real time analysis, adaptation, and agility in situ.
 
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sferrin

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If you have to rely on your former #1 enemy to get your own astronauts into orbit, you're definitely *not* leading in space exploration.
Human launches are only a small part of space exploration. If you launch more scientific missions than the rest of the world combined, you most definitely are a leader in space exploration.
If you're talking historically, it's not even close by any measure. Apollo, Space Shuttle, Viking, Pioneer, Voyager, Galileo, Hubble, Cassini, New Horizons, 4 rovers on Mars (a 5th getting ready), LRO, MRO, Juno, X-37 and coming up we have SLS, Blue Origin, SpaceX, (in addition to Northrop Grumman and ULA). Two manned space capsules, another space plane (Sierra Nevada), SpaceX Starship, Bigelow's space station modules. And on, and on. Right NOW though it looks bad having to bum rides off former enemy (who isn't a friend by any stretch), and use their rocket engines.
Historically speaking yes, but in the present (which those polls were targeting) you're always only as good as your last success or failure vs. those of your competitors, especially if you're currently riding on their coattails.

Well CURRENTLY the US is landing boosters on ships at see and reusing them, driving two rovers on Mars (one of them as big as a car and nuclear powered), operating a probe around Jupiter, another headed to an encounter outside Pluto's orbit, orbiters around both the Moon and Mars, AND on the verge of flying THREE manned capsules. And China is doing what? Russia is doing what?
 

martinbayer

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If you have to rely on your former #1 enemy to get your own astronauts into orbit, you're definitely *not* leading in space exploration.
Human launches are only a small part of space exploration. If you launch more scientific missions than the rest of the world combined, you most definitely are a leader in space exploration.
If you're talking historically, it's not even close by any measure. Apollo, Space Shuttle, Viking, Pioneer, Voyager, Galileo, Hubble, Cassini, New Horizons, 4 rovers on Mars (a 5th getting ready), LRO, MRO, Juno, X-37 and coming up we have SLS, Blue Origin, SpaceX, (in addition to Northrop Grumman and ULA). Two manned space capsules, another space plane (Sierra Nevada), SpaceX Starship, Bigelow's space station modules. And on, and on. Right NOW though it looks bad having to bum rides off former enemy (who isn't a friend by any stretch), and use their rocket engines.
Historically speaking yes, but in the present (which those polls were targeting) you're always only as good as your last success or failure vs. those of your competitors, especially if you're currently riding on their coattails.

Well CURRENTLY the US is landing boosters on ships at see and reusing them, driving two rovers on Mars (one of them as big as a car and nuclear powered), operating a probe around Jupiter, another headed to an encounter outside Pluto's orbit, orbiters around both the Moon and Mars, AND on the verge of flying THREE manned capsules. And China is doing what? Russia is doing what?
Landing reusable boosters (although it's a definite advance for space *transportation*, an absolutely worthy goal) does not have any direct correlation to space exploration, and neither does being "*on the verge of* flying THREE manned capsules" as opposed to actually have flown them safely to orbit and back with crew on board. Rovers'n orbiters'n probes fer sure're nice, but *China* landed on the far side of the Moon, and frankly I don't really care even minimally to anally compile a list of all the other uncrewed exploration missions anybody else around this little globe of ours is busy trying to accomplish these days. Once again, to me *human* space exploration is what really counts and dominates for the reasons outlined above. That's what *true* leadership means. Step up, USA.
 
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Hobbes

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This is probably one of those fundamentally intractable differences of opinion, but to me personally *human* space exploration (i.e. physically "being there" as a sentient being) is the absolute crown jewel of space exploration.
OK then, let's look at human space exploration. The US still runs the largest human spaceflight program in the world. And they've decided to replace government-owned launch services with commercial ones, funding the next big leap in capability. A gap in human launch capability is not a big deal.

Projects take years to yield results, and a "we only care about this quarter's results" mindset is as detrimental here as it is in business.

Even if you were to judge the US space program by "its last success or failure" you have a string of successes going back to the Columbia disaster, more than 10 years ago.
 

sferrin

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Rovers'n orbiters'n probes fer sure're nice, but *China* landed on the far side of the Moon,
Wait, so you think China putting a little toy on the far side of the moon is more of an accomplishment than a 2000lb, nuclear powered, rover on Mars? Or do you think China landed PEOPLE on the moon?
 

martinbayer

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This is probably one of those fundamentally intractable differences of opinion, but to me personally *human* space exploration (i.e. physically "being there" as a sentient being) is the absolute crown jewel of space exploration.
OK then, let's look at human space exploration. The US still runs the largest human spaceflight program in the world. And they've decided to replace government-owned launch services with commercial ones, funding the next big leap in capability. A gap in human launch capability is not a big deal.

Projects take years to yield results, and a "we only care about this quarter's results" mindset is as detrimental here as it is in business.

Even if you were to judge the US space program by "its last success or failure" you have a string of successes going back to the Columbia disaster, more than 10 years ago.
Once again, even if the US "still runs the largest human spaceflight program in the world", it currently does so having to rely on someone else's crew space transportation capabilities. In my view, in the bigger picture though there has actually been an absolutely breathtaking amount of stagnation. I'm a pessimist by nature, but after Apollo even I expected for the longest time that humans would have landed on Mars a few years ago at worst. Yet here we are, half a century later, still just endlessly going around the Earth in circles. At its very core, exploration is about pushing outwards and expanding the envelope, and that hasn't happened in human space exploration for decades. It's not just a gap in human launch capability, it's *where* those humans are going.
 
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martinbayer

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Rovers'n orbiters'n probes fer sure're nice, but *China* landed on the far side of the Moon,
Wait, so you think China putting a little toy on the far side of the moon is more of an accomplishment than a 2000lb, nuclear powered, rover on Mars? Or do you think China landed PEOPLE on the moon?
I merely recognize that China accomplished a specific *first* in uncrewed space exploration in terms of a particular destination that adds some communication challenges, but as I already said above, I'm certainly not going to quibble about how comparatively "awesome" operating lifeless things that at best go about 0.1 mph at any given destination is. For explicit clarification, in comparison to the human exploration systems of the Apollo era, to me *all* uncrewed rovers are "little toys", to use your characterization, even if they weigh a ton and use a radioisotope power system. Note by the way that the Viking Mars landers already used those in the mid-Seventies as well, so that's not really a first either...
 
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sferrin

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Rovers'n orbiters'n probes fer sure're nice, but *China* landed on the far side of the Moon,
Wait, so you think China putting a little toy on the far side of the moon is more of an accomplishment than a 2000lb, nuclear powered, rover on Mars? Or do you think China landed PEOPLE on the moon?
I merely recognize that China accomplished a specific *first* in uncrewed space exploration in terms of a particular destination that adds some communication challenges, but as I already said above, I'm certainly not going to quibble about how comparatively "awesome" operating lifeless things that at best go about 0.1 mph at any given destination is. For explicit clarification, in comparison to the human exploration systems of the Apollo era, to me *all* uncrewed rovers are "little toys", to use your characterization, even if they weigh a ton and use a radioisotope power system. Note by the way that the Viking Mars landers already used those in the mid-Seventies as well, so that's not really a first either...

Okay, so what is your point here?
 

martinbayer

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My point is that in my view human space exploration, i.e. not just putting humans in the loop, but on location, represents a quantum leap in capability vs. any robotic/automated system, advances in AI to date not withstanding, and that as a consequence I concur with the majority of Americans who don't believe the US leads in space exploration because they haven't seen any of their fellow country(wo)men break any spectacular new ground in space over the last several decades (you know, the topic that started this whole discussion).
 

sferrin

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AI to date not withstanding, and that as a consequence I concur with the majority of Americans who don't believe the US leads in space exploration because they haven't seen any of their fellow country(wo)men break any spectacular new ground in space over the last several decades (you know, the topic that started this whole discussion).
Who has done more? You hold up China landing a tiny rover on the dark side of the moon as a major breakthrough but we had actual people DRIVING A CAR ON THE MOON almost half a century ago. A pause in the ability to put a man in space hardly negates the US accomplishments there. Joe Six pack could be forgiven for not being able to see beyond what CNN tells them. You, on the other hand, really ought to know better.

My God, China is burying us.

616550
 

DrRansom

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The survey reflects perceived momentum about the Space Programs. The US has no momentum for space in the future (a natural response by an aging society), so the public reflects that with pessimism about the current standing. By any objective measure, the US is by far and away the leading space program in the world. But the energy just isn't there.

The public only cares about boots on the ground and NASA isn't producing any.
 

bobbymike

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AI to date not withstanding, and that as a consequence I concur with the majority of Americans who don't believe the US leads in space exploration because they haven't seen any of their fellow country(wo)men break any spectacular new ground in space over the last several decades (you know, the topic that started this whole discussion).
Who has done more? You hold up China landing a tiny rover on the dark side of the moon as a major breakthrough but we had actual people DRIVING A CAR ON THE MOON almost half a century ago. A pause in the ability to put a man in space hardly negates the US accomplishments there. Joe Six pack could be forgiven for not being able to see beyond what CNN tells them. You, on the other hand, really ought to know better.

My God, China is burying us.

View attachment 616550
And we are completely limiting ourselves. The restrictions are internal. Given the political will (and cash of course) the US would have been to Mars and beyond by now. The political class gave up due to their shortsighted next election vote buying.

We also could have global anti missile orbital laser battle stations but I digress ;)
 

martinbayer

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AI to date not withstanding, and that as a consequence I concur with the majority of Americans who don't believe the US leads in space exploration because they haven't seen any of their fellow country(wo)men break any spectacular new ground in space over the last several decades (you know, the topic that started this whole discussion).
Who has done more? You hold up China landing a tiny rover on the dark side of the moon as a major breakthrough but we had actual people DRIVING A CAR ON THE MOON almost half a century ago. A pause in the ability to put a man in space hardly negates the US accomplishments there. Joe Six pack could be forgiven for not being able to see beyond what CNN tells them. You, on the other hand, really ought to know better.

My God, China is burying us.

View attachment 616550
You are harking back to accomplishments way back from half a century ago, which I *completely* agree on as a monumental historical achievement. Yes, back then, the USA was indubitably the unquestioned winner of the space race as officially declared by JFK. But the present poll was about how US citizens feel *right now*, i.e. a snapshot of the current level and degree of advancement. In other words, to the general public, the USA apparently seems to be stagnating, while other nations are perceived (rightly or wrongly) to be much more aggressive in their pursuit of outer space accomplishments (remember, you're not arguing with me, but with an opinion poll). Musk may (and hopefully will) well change that in the not too distant future, but until then a remote controlled rover, however dinky, on the far side of the moon is worth more than any amount of flashy PowerPoint slides on some glitzy futuristic outpost concept. Being perceived as a leader is far less about the level of previous accomplishment as it is about the amount of advancement you can accomplish over a given period of time in any field. If you want to stay ahead of the pack, you can't rest on your laurels. To put it in engineering terms, the *rate* of change is the real measure of progress.
 
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sferrin

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The US has no momentum for space in the future (a natural response by an aging society), . But the energy just isn't there.

The public only cares about boots on the ground and NASA isn't producing any.
NASA isn't the only game in town. You need to also factor in SpaceX, Blue Origin, Bigelo, etc.
 

sferrin

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To put it in engineering terms, the *rate* of change is the real measure of progress.
I think right now the US (not just NASA) is right here:

616571

To the unaided eye (or those who don't follow very closely) not moving very fast, but definitely on the verge of changing things.
 
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DrRansom

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NASA isn't the only game in town. You need to also factor in SpaceX, Blue Origin, Bigelo, etc.
I hate to be a Debbie downer on space but .. I really don't think there is any economic reason to go beyond LEO satellite constellations. Sure space has a ton of resources, but the cost of securing them will be much higher than the cost of manufacturing better and with different materials. Elon Musk wants to make humans an multi-planetary species, his wealth is several orders of magnitude too small to do that.

I honestly giggle every time someone mentions a "Cis-Lunar" economy. We can't bring appreciable mass down to earth, so what is the value of some He3 mined on the far side of the moon?

Back to the main point, the public doesn't want to go to space to make an investor rich (the "cis-lunar economy" route). The public wants NASA to plant the flag on some astronomical body, to "climb it because it's there." The fact that space exploration discussions now speak of a fantastical economy motivation only reinforces the feeling of decline.
 

sferrin

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And if you'd told somebody in the 1400s it would be cheaper to ship grain across oceans than to grow it at home I'm sure they'd have laughed just the same.
 

Orionblamblam

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I really don't think there is any economic reason to go beyond LEO satellite constellations.
You think too small. No economic reason to go beyond LEO? Bah. Witness the splendor of my conception:

Go beyond LEO. Grab a nickel-iron asteroid 40 or so meters in diameter. Redirect it to an impact in, say, Mumbai. Someplace where the devastation and horror will shake the world, but not immediately damage the planetary economy. Then announce your responsibility, point out that you stand ready to do it again (and again and again, and again...), and offer to provide planetary "protection" against further occurrences for, say, one trillion dollars per impactor. Nations that pay up buy immunity from the next impactor, or perhaps outright buy the right to exploit the impactor which is instead either directed into a target of their choice or parked in orbit.

It may be advisable to simultaneously drop smaller impactors on Cape Canaveral and Baikonur first to prevent foolish meddling with your plan.

There. A simple plan, achievable by even the most pedestrian of tech billionaires willing to set aside outdated notions of morality, in the pursuit of attaining true wealth. Even in simple posts my munificence is boundless.
 

Foo Fighter

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No idea where this is going at all. Having said that, if the species is to grow significantly, it has to move to other planets imho. We have taken a wrecking ball to this planet already. After all, how else can our coffee franchises get to sell raktajino to the masses, let alone the Bolians?
 

Grey Havoc

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There. A simple plan, achievable by even the most pedestrian of tech billionaires willing to set aside outdated notions of morality, in the pursuit of attaining true wealth. Even in simple posts my munificence is boundless.
Just for the record, have you acquired a white Persian recently?

:D
 

Orionblamblam

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Just for the record, have you acquired a white Persian recently?
My most recent acquisition, Banshee, is neither white nor Persian:



"Banshee! You obey ME!!" has so far not proven to be an effective means of getting her to expel my enemies from the nearest airlock.
 

RanulfC

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I really don't think there is any economic reason to go beyond LEO satellite constellations.
You think too small. No economic reason to go beyond LEO? Bah. Witness the splendor of my conception:

Go beyond LEO. Grab a nickel-iron asteroid 40 or so meters in diameter. Redirect it to an impact in, say, Mumbai. Someplace where the devastation and horror will shake the world, but not immediately damage the planetary economy. Then announce your responsibility, point out that you stand ready to do it again (and again and again, and again...), and offer to provide planetary "protection" against further occurrences for, say, one trillion dollars per impactor. Nations that pay up buy immunity from the next impactor, or perhaps outright buy the right to exploit the impactor which is instead either directed into a target of their choice or parked in orbit.

It may be advisable to simultaneously drop smaller impactors on Cape Canaveral and Baikonur first to prevent foolish meddling with your plan.

There. A simple plan, achievable by even the most pedestrian of tech billionaires willing to set aside outdated notions of morality, in the pursuit of attaining true wealth. Even in simple posts my munificence is boundless.
Hmmm, Scott I need to ask if you've ever considered that the reason you're not filthy rich is someone/something actually is listening when you say this stuff and going "Ok, we'll just move that windfall of record profits to someone like Elon Musk. Not that I'm not amused mind you but JUST in case..." :D

Just for the record, have you acquired a white Persian recently?
My most recent acquisition, Banshee, is neither white nor Persian:



"Banshee! You obey ME!!" has so far not proven to be an effective means of getting her to expel my enemies from the nearest airlock.
Awwww... Though I'll point out the expresion is kind of obviously saying "I believe you are mistaken on the how this relationship is supposed to work..."

Randy
 

Orionblamblam

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Hmmm, Scott I need to ask if you've ever considered that the reason you're not filthy rich is someone/something actually is listening when you say this stuff and going "Ok, we'll just move that windfall of record profits to someone like Elon Musk. Not that I'm not amused mind you but JUST in case..." :D
Perhaps I *am* filthy rich. Perhaps I'm sitting in my orbiting volcano lair and simply *pretending* to be poverty stricken in order to catalog all the people who don't buy the latest issues of USBP and USLP in order to drop small asteroids on 'em.
 

martinbayer

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I really don't think there is any economic reason to go beyond LEO satellite constellations.
You think too small. No economic reason to go beyond LEO? Bah. Witness the splendor of my conception:

Go beyond LEO. Grab a nickel-iron asteroid 40 or so meters in diameter. Redirect it to an impact in, say, Mumbai. Someplace where the devastation and horror will shake the world, but not immediately damage the planetary economy. Then announce your responsibility, point out that you stand ready to do it again (and again and again, and again...), and offer to provide planetary "protection" against further occurrences for, say, one trillion dollars per impactor. Nations that pay up buy immunity from the next impactor, or perhaps outright buy the right to exploit the impactor which is instead either directed into a target of their choice or parked in orbit.

It may be advisable to simultaneously drop smaller impactors on Cape Canaveral and Baikonur first to prevent foolish meddling with your plan.

There. A simple plan, achievable by even the most pedestrian of tech billionaires willing to set aside outdated notions of morality, in the pursuit of attaining true wealth. Even in simple posts my munificence is boundless.
Hmmm, Scott I need to ask if you've ever considered that the reason you're not filthy rich is someone/something actually is listening when you say this stuff and going "Ok, we'll just move that windfall of record profits to someone like Elon Musk. Not that I'm not amused mind you but JUST in case..." :D

Just for the record, have you acquired a white Persian recently?
My most recent acquisition, Banshee, is neither white nor Persian:



"Banshee! You obey ME!!" has so far not proven to be an effective means of getting her to expel my enemies from the nearest airlock.
Awwww... Though I'll point out the expresion is kind of obviously saying "I believe you are mistaken on the how this relationship is supposed to work..."

Randy
Well, that collar (and who puts collars on cats anyway???) does look a tad tight...
 
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