DailyDirt: Space Race 2.0

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Space exploration is starting a new era. With more and more commercial ventures taking over low earth orbit missions, government space programs can focus on more long-term missions to increasingly distant places in our solar system. Unfortunately, there don't seem to be many collaborative international efforts for missions to other planets, so it's looking like a new nationalistic space race is emerging. Here are just a few space projects aimed beyond our planet. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post.


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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2012 @ 5:16pm

    always send robots first!

    manned missions are far too costly, and what do we get out of them that couldn't have been done by robots? Sure, it's nice to have astronauts who can talk about what it's like in space, but risking some robots vs risking some humans...?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2012 @ 5:40pm

    @1

    What we get is the beginning of the ability to get off this damn rock and ensure the future of the species....

    nothing is more important to mankind.YEs robots at first but then we need ot really get out there and really get other places and a moon base is essential cause then you cna use that as a platform to launch more manned missions.

    Private orgs are on track as well to land on mars inside 10-15 years so its gonna happen ....

    OH and its far to costly to die off as a species no? That's pretty expensive....

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2012 @ 5:42pm

    Lagrangian point? Woo-hoo! Space hookers!

     

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    Wally (profile), Nov 12th, 2012 @ 5:59pm

    To be fair about Russia on their landings on Venus, they did as much as they could to gather data about the corrosive upper atmosphere and thick surface atmospheric data. And hey, we have surface pictures of Venus too. Although because of the Magelin spacecraft, we do have a lot more data gathered than Russia :-)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2012 @ 6:05pm

    yep, voyages of columbus were far too costly

    so let's all return to our roots in spain

     

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    Gerard O'Neill Jr, Nov 12th, 2012 @ 7:21pm

    Occupy Lagrange Points

    "so if NASA gets to the better ones first, the US will occupy some of the best space real estate."

    You don't sit at the Lagrange points, you orbit them. There is LOTS of space available for doing that, so getting there first does not prevent others from using the same Lagrange point. There have already been several spacecraft at the Earth-Moon L1 and L2 points, and many more are planned.
    See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_objects_at_Lagrangian_points

     

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    Violated (profile), Nov 12th, 2012 @ 7:27pm

    Landings

    Lets not forget that the Hygens probe landed on Titan and many craft landed on our Moon. While not technically planets there are only 4 planets in our system that we can land on and half of those are already done.

    The next one that they should drop a probe on is Europa.

     

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    Violated (profile), Nov 12th, 2012 @ 7:36pm

    Re: always send robots first!

    Humans can travel where robots can't.

    Also once you have a base established your degree educated experts can do vastly more on-site work in a much faster time. They can also adjust quickly to the unexpected.

    A 3D printer could be much use there printing out new tools and parts on site instead of NASA having to ship them all the way from Earth.

    One example of how humans are better is travel time when one human driver in charge of a vehicle on Mars can cover more ground in just one day than all these rovers have done combined over the past decade.

     

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    Watchit (profile), Nov 12th, 2012 @ 9:12pm

    Re: Occupy Lagrange Points

    They're called Lagrange points for a reason. While some have more space than others, they're points in between to bodies so that the gravitational pull is equal. Which means you will have to orbit in order to stay in that point in between the two bodies. For example point one, the point between the Earth and the Moon, orbits all the way around the Earth, but you'll still need to stay at that point between the Earth and the Moon. Some points do have more room, but they're not a full orbit.

     

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    Watchit (profile), Nov 12th, 2012 @ 9:14pm

    Re: Re: Occupy Lagrange Points

    Actually Point One is the point between the Sun and the Earth, my bad :)

     

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    Watchit (profile), Nov 12th, 2012 @ 9:15pm

    I've heard of speculation of using the Lagrange Points, but to actually annonce plans. Now that is exciting. There will be problem getting funding probably, just like always :D

     

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    Wally (profile), Nov 12th, 2012 @ 9:28pm

    One Up

    Russia still has the record for the longest functioning rover. The Lunkhad 1 was launched in 1962, ran for a few months, then they shut it down. In 2010, they booted it back up again :-)

     

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    Pixelation, Nov 12th, 2012 @ 9:49pm

    Re: One Up

    Man, that Lunkhead1 sure looks an awful lot like a transformer...

     

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    Rekrul, Nov 13th, 2012 @ 1:12am

    Re: Re: always send robots first!

    A 3D printer could be much use there printing out new tools and parts on site instead of NASA having to ship them all the way from Earth.

    Unless they send some kind of facility that can process raw materials collected from the planet/moon, they'd still have to send the raw materials for the tools and parts, so the weight would be the same. Actually, it would weigh more, since they can't know ahead of time exactly how much they'll need.

     

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    Violated (profile), Nov 13th, 2012 @ 2:57am

    Re: Re: Re: always send robots first!

    Making use of local raw materials would certainly help.

    The aspect you overlook is that NASA always needs to create entire backup systems in case the main systems fail and just like on the ISS they also need to keep a whole array of spare parts to hand in case anything breaks.

    So being able to print out any one of thousands a parts in under an hour would certainly save mass from being shipped and they may even be able to remove some non-vital backup systems.

    I know the military are already working on 3D printers but NASA would need to do some large charges to their materials for 3D printers to show their true worth.

     

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    Violated (profile), Nov 13th, 2012 @ 3:13am

    Re:

    NASA has always desired the Lagrange Points when this allows a more deep space mission without the need for them to land on anything.

    In Space terms it is quite boring... visiting empty space... but this allows them to get the know the hardware well and they would set a new record of how far humans have travelled away from Earth.

    One other mission they should do is to control a rover on the Moon while in orbit around the Moon. Doing this removes the insanity lag of doing it from Earth. It also prepares them to do this same rover control around other planets and moons.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 13th, 2012 @ 5:21am

    Re: One Up

    No, they did not boot it back up.

    They just found where it was. With that knowledge, they could shine a laser at its mirror, which they could not do before because they did not know with enough precision where it was. But the mirror is completely passive, the rover does not have to be working for it to be usable.

     

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    bshock, Nov 13th, 2012 @ 10:31am

    Re: Re: always send robots first!

    "Humans can travel where robots can't."

    While I am very, very sympathetic to the idea of manned spaceflight, I wanted to point out that this statement about human vs. robot travel capabilities may be somewhat misleading.

    Assuming that humans have sufficient food, water, atmosphere, the correct temperature range, and protection from ionizing radiation, they currently are more flexible and intelligent in their exploratory abilities than robots.

    However, delivering human necessities across the Solar System is prohibitively expensive and technically difficult. Delivering one small robot across the Solar System is a vastly simpler problem.

    So, in practical terms, the flexibility/cost ratio for human space exploration is still far too low, as compared with that same ratio for robots. I'm not saying that human space exploration is a bad idea -- I'm just saying that I'd like to see more of the Solar System explored while I'm still alive.

     

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