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  • Space Exploration and Technology thread

    We had a thread on this last time covering the various goings on; Mars/perseverance, SpaceX launches (and landings, explosive or otherwise!) and other goings on. Thought it would be interesting to start one up again for any other space enthusiasts on the forum?

    Just as a starter I see China successfully launched three Taikonauts (I love that term :) ) to being construction on the planned space station.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-57504052

    Hot on the heels of their rover landing successfully on Mars and returning moon samples, China definitely on a roll with it's steps forward (assuming there are other failures that we haven't heard about!) and you have to wonder at this point how long it will be before they pencil in a moon landing (at least in public, I am sure there are plans).

  • #2
    I'm a little bummed out about the lack of news on the Skylon project.

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    • #3
      I must confess I hadn't heard of that Valkyrie. Certainly interesting reading, I see there have been some updates about testing commencing this year so at least there has been some movement.

      It sounds as though it has run into barriers with a lack of funding. Sadly a common issue and it would follow a fine tradition of British engineering ideas which haven't been developed into full utility because the money wasn't there - in fact it is more of a likelihood if a non-UK conglomerate or the engineering being sold overseas if they keep on banging their heads against walls.

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      • #4
        I all about whatever Elon Musk wants to do lol. I feel like nations are going to bungle it... he's been absurdly successful in such a short amount of time in developing launch capabilities.

        Granted, I'm not signing up for one of his one-way tickets, but I'm sure lots of folks will...

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        • #5
          My problem with people like Musk/Bezos is that they're basically self obsessed narcissists who treat their workers like they're some sort of indentured servants who are lazy if they don't want to work as hard as the men earning literally billions.

          People that are desperate to sign up to be permanently stuck in some weird offworld corpo-government run by that kind of person are kind of questionable.

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          • Disciple of Fate
            Disciple of Fate commented
            Editing a comment
            Musk wants to improve the world in his image. That won't necessarily be a better one for all of us. I'm not even sure what he has done for the 'common good' so to speak, except if they possibly overlap with one of his pet projects. What about the harm he does to his workers? Corona specifically showed what kind of man he truly is. Who would want to volunteer as an expendable cog in that man's space program?

            Lets be real as well, he gets a lot of government funding for his programs. It is unlikely that he will do this without at least a decent chunk of taxpayer money.

          • RiTides
            RiTides commented
            Editing a comment
            He's been successful in projects way before government funding helping him out (PayPal, for instance). I think moving the world toward electric cars and affordable space launches is absolutely a net good.
            Last edited by RiTides; 06-18-2021, 12:50 AM.

          • Disciple of Fate
            Disciple of Fate commented
            Editing a comment
            Of course, but Paypal wasn't for the common good. Tesla isn't the only manufacturer on the market and affordable space launches is questionable. The question being, affordable to do what exactly?

            But with government funding I was only referring to his rocket program.

        • #6
          On a related note, if you haven't read Andy Weir's new novel "Project Hail Mary" I highly recommend it! (He is the author of "The Martian")

          Avoid reading any reviews or comments about the book though - don't even look at the diagrams inside it, as they also contain spoilers! Maybe we can start a separate thread to discuss if anyone wants to (I don't think spoilered text is a feature on this platform)

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          • Pacific
            Pacific commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for the recommendation! I was listening to an interview with Andy Weir on the Planetary Society podcast and had to stop as I didn't want to ruin the story. Loved the Martian so will have to check that one out too!

          • RiTides
            RiTides commented
            Editing a comment
            You won't regret it, Pacific !

        • #7
          For anyone interested in space, the cool world's channel on YouTube does awesome videos going into everything from the history and formation of the universe to theoretical journeys across the universe.

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          • #8
            Originally posted by RiTides View Post
            I feel like nations are going to bungle it... he's been absurdly successful in such a short amount of time in developing launch capabilities.
            Why? Why do you think that a for profit corporation will be better at establishing man on other worlds or in space than international co-operation amongst nations? Corporations haven't exactly got a great record at improving the world we are currently on. If we look at Musk in particular, his Starlink constellation is going to be a pretty major disruption to our ability to carry out Earth-based Astronomy.

            As for how successful he has been in such a short time, it has been 15 years since SpaceX first developed Falcon 1. In that same timeframe in the 1950s and 1960s the US government went from experimental rocket aircraft to landing men on the moon using what is still the most powerful rocket ever built.
            Last edited by Too Hot To Trot; 06-18-2021, 10:00 AM.

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            • Pacific
              Pacific commented
              Editing a comment
              OK to clarify - pushing forward the manned exploration of space, which had fallen flat at NASA over recent years. Since the withdrawal of the Space Shuttle, the US had been relying on Russia and Soyuz for manned launches. You could have not have dreamt of that scenario at any point through the cold war, and it must surely have been regarded with shame in some government circles.

              I agree those other projects absolutely are important to NASA. But, I think it's a testament of where the funding levels were previously that NASA had something like 8 years without the capability to put men into orbit, and with SLS seemingly being excused delay after delay as money just got poured into a Boeing sinkhole.

              Personally, after a lot of years of not seeing any progress whatsoever on the manned space travel front, I'm glad SpaceX has come along. If nothing else, at least now they have a possibility of beating China back to the moon and then potentially on to Mars, which I don't believe would have happened otherwise. I really don't care who wins that particular battle, as in my view it will be humanity that wins, but I think having some competition on that front will help push things forward on both sides.

            • RiTides
              RiTides commented
              Editing a comment
              Too Hot To Trot, I'm glad they're not duplicating NASA's work, but launching giant reusable rockets is a lot more impressive to me than a rover atm lol. We need this capacity, and I'm really happy they're pushing it forward after we've lagged at it for so long. Super excited about the James Webb telescope, etc obviously... but again those keep being delayed years and years, we've got to pick up the pace!

            • Too Hot To Trot
              Too Hot To Trot commented
              Editing a comment
              When dealing with delicate machinery that must work first time, such as space observatories, you do not want speed. You take as long as it needs to make sure it is right and that it will work first time.

              If you want an example of what happens when you do not do that, look at what happened with Hubble's primary mirror or the Japanese Hitomi observatory.

          • #9
            Originally posted by Disciple of Fate View Post
            My problem with people like Musk/Bezos is that they're basically self obsessed narcissists who treat their workers like they're some sort of indentured servants who are lazy if they don't want to work as hard as the men earning literally billions.

            People that are desperate to sign up to be permanently stuck in some weird offworld corpo-government run by that kind of person are kind of questionable.
            I agree with you, but what Musk, Bezos and the like are doing is no different to the 'robber barons' and industrialists of the 19th century in Europe and the US. Absolutely enormous, obscene wealth built on recent technological and social change. Horrendous working conditions in the creation of the railroads and the factories (and other infrastructure) and you sure as hell didn't want to be poor through that period, but the subsequent generations reaped the benefits.
            I wouldn't be at all surprised if we are looking something very similar now with this push to the moon and mars, it's one of the paradoxes of societal development I feel.

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            • #10
              I think that it is important to note that subsequent generations reaped the benefits because the government stepped in to curb a lot of the excesses. Preferably we would not need to have the excesses step in between, but that seems to be the MO of capitalism.

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