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Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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28 Responses

  1. Avatar Patrick Cahalan
    Ignored
    says:

    I owe you a drink, Mr. L.Report

  2. Avatar Scott
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    says:

    It would be nice if this country could put a man in space today but our fine president has outsourced that job to Russia.Report

  3. Avatar Rod
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    says:

    I’ll never forget watching the moon landing on TV. I was nine years old at the time and a total little space and science geek. I had model rockets and those plastic Revell models of a Gemini Spacewalker and a Lunar landing module.

    If you had asked me when I was 12 years old where I thought the space program would be by now, forty years later in the year 2012, I would have unhesitatingly said Mars… and beyond! And the hell of it is, it wouldn’t have been… shouldn’t have been a silly, naive, answer. These anniversaries just sort of make me sad.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Rod
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      says:

      I was too young to see it. But don’t be so hard on Nasa. One thing that is easy to miss is that space is just incredibly unbelievably huge. Even Mars or Venus, our closest neighbors, are exponentially further away than the moon.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        The fundamental problem remains: putting large masses into low-earth orbit is prohibitively expensive. Solve that problem and much of the rest follows (eg, Mars). Remember the original descriptions for the space shuttle? It was going to be a “space pick-up truck” that could routinely put large masses in orbit cheaply. Didn’t turn out that way. The planetary probes and the space telescope are nice and all, but NASA has been a dismal failure at the one research problem that really mattered.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Michael Cain
          Ignored
          says:

          I personally think we already have the solution; a space elevator. We’re just waiting for the economics, the engineering and advanced composites to align to build the puppy.Report

          • Avatar James K in reply to North
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            says:

            A space elevator would be a real game changer.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to North
            Ignored
            says:

            When I was a teenager, and men walked on the moon for the first time, and there were only half as many people in the world as there are today, I was optimistic that the US would develop the technology to make access to space routine. Forty-odd years later, after a career doing technology analysis and forecasting, I have convinced myself that the US faces difficult choices and very large capital investments over the next 25 years just to manage its energy problems so that it can maintain a relatively modern technology base, with little room for spending on space. I know I’ve become something of a nut on the subject. But my bet is that in 25 years, we’ll be worrying a lot more about keeping the basic services (including keeping the lights on reliably) on the East Coast than on any sort of space program, manned or otherwise.Report

            • Avatar Lyle in reply to Michael Cain
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              says:

              I agree and lets look at China as a candidate, it will soon have a demographic crisis like Japan, and not have surplus also. With the entire world aging its not clear where the surplus to build the machines needed will come from. The first sign in the US was the end of the SST in the 1970s and then the Superconducting Super Collider.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Lyle
                Ignored
                says:

                The first sign in the US was the end of the SST in the 1970s and then the Superconducting Super Collider.

                The super collider, maybe, but the SST was supposed to be privately profitable, not affordable through the public budget. Ultimately there was no market demand for what was fundamentally a private good. Basic scientific research, that’s very different.Report

  4. Avatar Lyle
    Ignored
    says:

    Given the increase in computer power, and the high cost of keeping people alive in space beyond low earth orbit should be the domain of computer controlled systems with no humans.
    For humans you have to provide air food and water, while for a computer based exploration device you need only electricity and some cooling or heating. Given the design of driverless cars on earth, and the fact that the current rovers even the one about to land are based on 5-8 year old technology. If you think about it a human on mars will explore the planet in a can using less sensitive senors than the machines can have. Of course in addition you don;t have to bring the machines back to earth.Report

  5. Avatar mike shupp
    Ignored
    says:

    Lyle, I’m singing a song whose melody you will never hear, but the ultimate goal of space flight isn’t “computer controlled systems with nohumans.” The whole point is to send out people — countless thousands of them ultimately, who will actually live out there on the Moon, on Mars, in the asteroid belt, eventually perhaps on planets ofother stars. By “live” I mean be born, be schooled, wed and bear children, read and watch movies and surf the internet in one’s spare time, hold down a job, be productive, retire and at long last die — the sort of thing in other words that people do today in Delaware and Ontario and Quito and other godforsaken locations, which would have seemed utterly inconcievable in Europe before the Sixteenth Century. The human race will be richer in time, our stock of scientific knowledge and technological skill will continue to grow, and at some point, even as we now attempt to build societies where legal justice does not depend on skin color and health care is not predetermined by wealth, our richer and brighter descendents may spread beyond Earth. It will be A Good Thing.Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to mike shupp
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      says:

      It will be, dare I say it, Space Awesome.Report

    • Avatar Lyle in reply to mike shupp
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      says:

      The question is will it make any money? Recall that Columbus was sent out to find a route to the orient for trade for Spain after Portugal found the way around africa. The Spanish explorations of north america were looking for the 7 cities of gold. Va was founded as a commerical venture as was NY. Sometimes it takes a government push, but the government doing it failed misearably in the internal improvements crash of the late 1830s 1840s.

      Dreams are all well and good, but unless they lead to making money they will never fly. Now if you find an asteroid of pure rare earths or gold, you might mine it but I doubt you would mount a full colony there.
      Anyway according to the head of NASA we do not yet know how to safely get folks to mars and back. IMHO the large lift rocket will likely never fly, and as I pointed out China won’t be in a position to do it as its aging population raises its internal costs.Report

      • Avatar mike shupp in reply to Lyle
        Ignored
        says:

        Uh Lyle … I assume you missed the news. Some deranged guy in Colorado shot about 70 people attending a showing of the latest Batman film, killing a dozen. The police have made an arrest, there’ll be an investigation, and at some point a murder trial. This is going to cost quite a lot of money. Taxpayer’s dollars, with no return.

        By your reasoning, our society shouldn’t be doing this.Report

  6. Avatar A Teacher
    Ignored
    says:

    People say “Who’s your favorite astronaut” and without hesitation I say “Buzz Aldrin”.

    “Buzz?” They say. “Why not Armstrong?”

    “Because Buzz was the smart one. He let Neil go first to make sure it was safe.”Report

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