Future of Space Flight – Interplanetary Civilization

The final question is “Why are we doing this at all?”

  1. The Exploration Gene?
  2. Use of Resources on Earth is Limited?
  3. Protection of the Human Race?
  4. Growth.

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  1. There will always be arguments of “Because it is there,” forever and ever. Humans are like that. But honestly, seeing Earth from orbit would be awesome, but the space between Earth and Mars is full up of NOTHING. Almost as bad as space between Earth and Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto, the next star. 99.99999 % of space is nothing. The other 0.000001% is amazing views…which, since we can’t see them with the naked eye, might as well be seen with a camera.
  2. We can extract resources in space without digging up the Earth. Yeah, not so much. There are good reasons to dig up resources in space, but we can cleanly extract resources from Earth for thousands of years before we NEED anything from an asteroid. Especially considering the cost of delivering it to the Earth.
  3. Sure, I would feel “safer” with mankind an interstellar species…but if we can’t make it on Earth, we won’t survive long in space. Filtering Earth water is EASY compared to water rationing on a colony.

Colony: “What is our acceptable Cyanide level again, honey? I think we have a pressure leak in one of the grey water tubes. Well, don’t drink anything till I check for bubbles in the piss tank.” When THAT sentence is comparable to

Earth: “Gosh, I think we’ll need to start a billion dollar desalination plant again or our almond harvest may fail.”

So, 4. Growth.

Science is easy, but its really easy when no one is checking your answers. I can define a specific spectrum as a “Magnetostar, magnetic-spinning neutron star” and have people nod wisely, but … its just a model. Heck, almost everything in Astronomy is just a model. (Really, really good models, don’t get me wrong, this is science, but we can’t really check the answer, can we?)

Engineering isn’t like that. When we build something, you can kick the tires, or whatever it has, and determine if it is better than the previous model. But if you want something good in the future, start building in the present.

In time, humanity will move into space as a natural progress. We will find ways to survive in the big dark, we will extract resources – sunlight is the easy one – and build habitats. In time, we will have an Interplanetary Civilization. Each build is hard, each round of improvements will take decades. People will die. Habitats may fail. But, this is growth.

The development of one project for the International Space Station improved water reclamation from waste by over an order of magnitude. ECLSS.

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https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/104840main_eclss.pdf

Before, we only reclaimed less than 50% of water, now we reclaim 95%. A person used over a cubic foot of water a day, now that is down to cubic inches. Improvements will continue to be made, but they don’t happen automatically.

And those way-out science models drive some of these concepts. When we see a light curve that indicates something passing in front of a star, we get an idea of size. It blocks 20% of the sun’s light… wow, that’s big. It has weird gaps in it… it is cloud-like? It might be a meteor swarm, or it might be a habitat cloud.

Unfortunately, at over 1000 light years, it is unlikely that we’ll ever get answers of engineering questions from these aliens, if they exist. But, if the engineering is possible, we will do it and I’d prefer sooner to later.

4 thoughts on “Future of Space Flight – Interplanetary Civilization”

  1. Hawk,
    True, there are many disadvantages to living in a space habitat, but on the upside, there are no terrorists, toxic waste or Donald Trump! (In space, no one can hear you blather on about how great your hair is!) we still have 378 days in this year’s election cycle! Please tell me; Where do I sign up to go?
    Yours in desperately seeking to this year’s election cycle science,
    Dr. DNA

    1. Yeah, space, the final frontier – for Hair. Sign up to our new hair club for men and you get one voyage absolutely free, (shipping and handling, Russian duty ports, international flights, and 3 million dollar bribe not included.) and your hair will look fabulous. Our cosmic ray technique, patent pending, guarantees you the greenest radiation source known to man.

      Ok, so I clearly need a vacation. You going to be in TN over Thanksgiving? The boys want me to take them out to Blackstone’s again.

      1. Hawk,
        Sorry, not Thanksgiving, however I am hoping to make it up to Nashville on the 2nd and third weekends in December. I can be available on the weekend of December 12/13 or try to meet next weekend December 19/20. The job search continues with some promising leads, and that is part of the reason for the trip. I could be up for a brew by then.
        Sincerely,
        Yours in brewpub science,
        Dr. DNA

        1. Not sure what is up in December yet. Probably wishing I had more money. Just remember, if you see anything on TASC or Engility, I’d be happy to recommend you for it. (or Northrop Grumman, NASA, or Jacobs. I have a little pull with them as well.) Just nothing with universities.
          Good luck,

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