Cunjo Carl

What are NASA's odds for landing on the Moon in 5 years?

What are NASA's odds for landing on the Moon in 5 years?  

89 members have voted

This poll is closed to new votes
  1. 1. Your oppinion on NASA's odds for landing astronauts on the lunar south pole in 5 years

    • 0 - 10% (Very Poor)
      43
    • 10-33% (Worse than 2:1 against)
      25
    • 33-66% (About 50-50)
      17
    • 66-90% (Better than 2:1 for)
      4
    • 90-100% (Very Good)
      0

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  • Poll closed on 07/14/2019 at 09:18 AM

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Launch a SLS in 2020, launch a crewed SLS in 2022, launch a block 1B in 2028?  I have to wonder what the SLS Senators think of this.  Is the embarrassment of failure and delays worth adding even more pork to their pet project?  I'm guessing that's part of the job description for senator, so yes.

There is little indication that the CLV* (cargo launch vehicle) is going to be a Falcon Heavy (presumably for political reasons).  Are they still developing this along with the SLS?  Or do they just put it out for bid for the usual NASA shenanigans.

* The only acronym I could find for CLV was "crew launch vehicle", originally Ares I, and a "CaLV" (cargo launch vehicle) as Ares V.  This was later canceled and reborn as SLS.

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It's pretty much all down to politics at this point. I have no doubt that NASA can design and build an operational lander within that time; but they will not be able to do so on their current budget. If congress is willing to get NASA the money, the chances are quite good, but the last few years have taught me not to get my hopes up in that regard.

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7 minutes ago, RocketSquid said:

It's pretty much all down to politics at this point. I have no doubt that NASA can design and build an operational lander within that time; but they will not be able to do so on their current budget. If congress is willing to get NASA the money, the chances are quite good, but the last few years have taught me not to get my hopes up in that regard.

I have huge doubts that NASA could build such a lander in 5 years, unless they just let someone like Blue Origin build it.

The benefit of Blue Origin, is that they are building Blue Moon with or without the government.

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Just now, tater said:

I have huge doubts that NASA could build such a lander in 5 years, unless they just let someone like Blue Origin build it.

The benefit of Blue Origin, is that they are building Blue Moon with or without the government.

What do you think they normally do, as opposed to "just let someone like Blue Origin build it"? Every NASA spacecraft is subcontracted out to one or more companies, and it's been that way for as long as NASA has existed.

And the fact that Blue Origin is building Blue Moon either way isn't a benefit, really. Without government involvement, spaceflight will be the domain of the very rich, and the rise of private spaceflight will only cement that.

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32 minutes ago, RocketSquid said:

What do you think they normally do, as opposed to "just let someone like Blue Origin build it"? Every NASA spacecraft is subcontracted out to one or more companies, and it's been that way for as long as NASA has existed.

Because BO is building it with or without NASA. If they select Boeing or LockMart, it will be the usual cost plus contract, and the contractors are incentivized to go over schedule and over budget. If they got 10 billion in 5 years for a lander, why not go for 12 B in 6 years? SLS was supposed to cost 9 B$, all in. LOL.

34 minutes ago, RocketSquid said:

And the fact that Blue Origin is building Blue Moon either way isn't a benefit, really. Without government involvement, spaceflight will be the domain of the very rich, and the rise of private spaceflight will only cement that. 

This is nonsense. The domain of the very rich? What exactly do you think that means? Magic space homes for the rich to look down on Earth? Earth is better than any space habitat, they'd have to be the very dumb, super rich.

The only way we will ever see any meaningful expansion of humanity off the Earth will be if there is a business case that closes, and private spaceflight does it for profit. If your model is government space, nothing interesting will ever happen (aside from cool space probes).

Which do you want?

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1 minute ago, tater said:

Because BO is building it with or without NASA. If they select Boeing or LockMart, it will be the usual cost plus contract, and the contractors are incentivized to go over schedule and over budget. If they got 10 billion in 5 years for a lander, why not go for 12 B in 6 years? SLS was supposed to cost 9 B$, all in. LOL.

This is nonsense. The domain of the very rich? What exactly do you think that means? Magic space homes for the rich to look down on Earth? Earth is better than any space habitat, they'd have to be the very dumb, super rich.

The only way we will ever see any meaningful expansion of humanity off the Earth will be if there is a business case that closes, and private spaceflight does it for profit. If your model is government space, nothing interesting will ever happen (aside from cool space probes).

Which do you want?

There is no logical economic reason to put humans in space. Period. The only real way to make a profit off of it is to sell the experience, the novelty, to someone with a lot of money. Government involvement got us to the moon, got us samples and science from the moon. Corporate spaceflight would've gotten us, at best, lunar vacations for the very rich, a few moonrocks that would be turned into jewelry and some pictures they could sell for postcards.

So, why are Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos trying to expand into space? Because they've looked on their domains and seen that there's nothing left to conquer but the sky. They want to go to space as vanity projects. And yeah, Jeff Bezos does indeed want magic space homes, he's proposed soulless, O'Neill-cylinder based replicas of terrestrial locations. Who do you think would be able to afford to live in those? Certainly not his own workers, who make only a bit over minimum wage and can be fired for taking bathroom breaks. And even that's not as ludicrous as his claim that the earth is going to run out of sunlight because energy consumption will grow too high, which, in addition to relying on incorrect assumptions about power usage (the trend is actually pretty steady over the last few years, since efficiency is being prioritized) could be solved without sending enormous numbers of people into space.

I'd much rather wait for governments and the public to act than have space travel and space colonization burned to the ground forever when these private endeavors die with their creators.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, RocketSquid said:

There is no logical economic reason to put humans in space. Period. The only real way to make a profit off of it is to sell the experience, the novelty, to someone with a lot of money. Government involvement got us to the moon, got us samples and science from the moon. Corporate spaceflight would've gotten us, at best, lunar vacations for the very rich, a few moonrocks that would be turned into jewelry and some pictures they could sell for postcards.

I don't disagree that the killer app for humans in space is tourism.

Good. I want as many super rich people to fly to space for fun as possible.

When I was in college, you know who had a mobile phone (a phone in their car in this case, the unit was about the 2/3 volume of the box our MacBookPro 15" came in)? The ultra rich. A few hundred people in the country, perhaps. By the time I was done, my dad (still an affluent business executive, but not "very rich") had one, which was about the time my father in law (a neurosurgeon, again, quite well off, not "very rich") got a brick sized cell phone for call. Super rich, then rich, then upper middle class.

My kids have better phones now---in their pockets.

That's how this works, it's expensive, then eventually it's less expensive. International air travel is still too expensive for some people, but it's at an all time low in price (in constant dollars) now. Rich people going to space is a good thing, should that happen.

Regardless, cheaper access to space allows for the possibility of robotic attempts to start exploiting resources.

 

Quote

So, why are Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos trying to expand into space? Because they've looked on their domains and seen that there's nothing left to conquer but the sky. They want to go to space as vanity projects.

They've said why they want to go. Not vanity, or not only vanity, but because they think it's cool, and they think that's what needs to happen for humanity in the very long run. Why do you play KSP? If you had billions, would you play KSP with real rockets? I would.

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And yeah, Jeff Bezos does indeed want magic space homes, he's proposed soulless, O'Neill-cylinder based replicas of terrestrial locations. Who do you think would be able to afford to live in those?

No one rich would rather live in a tube than on Earth, sorry, this argument is an abject failure once you go here. Presumably the people living in such places would be working in space (if there was ever a need for that, which I'm dubious of). Maybe they'll be the hotel staff for the orbital tourists.

 

Quote

Certainly not his own workers, who make only a bit over minimum wage and can be fired for taking bathroom breaks. And even that's not as ludicrous as his claim that the earth is going to run out of sunlight because energy consumption will grow too high, which, in addition to relying on incorrect assumptions about power usage (the trend is actually pretty steady over the last few years, since efficiency is being prioritized) could be solved without sending enormous numbers of people into space.

He's talking about endless growth of humans, which is not a thing on Earth. That said, more humans is not a bad thing if we can build the real estate for them. I don't have a beef with Bezos, his workers can seek other employment if they don't like it.

Quote

I'd much rather wait for governments and the public to act than have space travel and space colonization burned to the ground forever when these private endeavors die with their creators.

You'll basically see neither, then. A handful of people in LEO (ISS), or a handful once every year or two around the Moon for a couple weeks. If the driver of space exploration (with humans) is the government, you'll grow old and see nothing better. I was in High School when Shuttle first flew. I had two kids in school when it finished 30 years later, with little different than when it started.

Artemis is very likely the last space program that looks anything like Apollo or Shuttle.

I'm not confident about much that might happen with human spaceflight, but I'm confident that literally anything that is interesting that happens in my lifetime will be from commercial space at this point.

Edited by tater

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16 hours ago, tater said:

I don't disagree that the killer app for humans in space is tourism.

Good. I want as many super rich people to fly to space for fun as possible.

When I was in college, you know who had a mobile phone (a phone in their car in this case, the unit was about the 2/3 volume of the box our MacBookPro 15" came in)? The ultra rich. A few hundred people in the country, perhaps. By the time I was done, my dad (still an affluent business executive, but not "very rich") had one, which was about the time my father in law (a neurosurgeon, again, quite well off, not "very rich") got a brick sized cell phone for call. Super rich, then rich, then upper middle class.

My kids have better phones now---in their pockets.

That's how this works, it's expensive, then eventually it's less expensive. International air travel is still too expensive for some people, but it's at an all time low in price (in constant dollars) now. Rich people going to space is a good thing, should that happen.

Regardless, cheaper access to space allows for the possibility of robotic attempts to start exploiting resources.

 

They've said why they want to go. Not vanity, or not only vanity, but because they think it's cool, and they think that's what needs to happen for humanity in the very long run. Why do you play KSP? If you had billions, would you play KSP with real rockets? I would.

No one rich would rather live in a tube than on Earth, sorry, this argument is an abject failure once you go here. Presumably the people living in such places would be working in space (if there was ever a need for that, which I'm dubious of). Maybe they'll be the hotel staff for the orbital tourists.

 

He's talking about endless growth of humans, which is not a thing on Earth. That said, more humans is not a bad thing if we can build the real estate for them. I don't have a beef with Bezos, his workers can seek other employment if they don't like it.

You'll basically see neither, then. A handful of people in LEO (ISS), or a handful once every year or two around the Moon for a couple weeks. If the driver of space exploration (with humans) is the government, you'll grow old and see nothing better. I was in High School when Shuttle first flew. I had two kids in school when it finished 30 years later, with little different than when it started.

Artemis is very likely the last space program that looks anything like Apollo or Shuttle.

I'm not confident about much that might happen with human spaceflight, but I'm confident that literally anything that is interesting that happens in my lifetime will be from commercial space at this point.

Space tourism will never be a big enough industry to prompt easier access, especially considering the novelty is a major portion of the appeal. And that doesn’t change the fact that a large portion of the population will never be able to pay for space travel.

If I had the opportunity in real life, I would focus on increasing access for everyone, not just people who can pay.

If not rich people, who do you think will live in space? It’s unrealistically expensive to ship workers into space, and if you legitimately believe workers can choose to work wherever, why would they choose to work in a place where their oxygen privileges can be revoked?

Human population levels out over time, naturally. This is observed in most developed nations—give people a choice, and access to contraception, and population growth will level out or even become negative. And in order to significantly reduce population by spaceflight you would need to send hundreds of thousands of people into space every day.

Also, workers aren’t as mobile as you seem to think. If workers could choose not to work at Amazon, they overwhelmingly would, but that’s neither here nor there. Suffice to say, one does not get as obscenely rich as Bezos without stepping on a few people to do so.

Without people living and working in space, humanity has no real presence in space. There are tourist flights that end the second liability insurance costs surpass profits, and that’s it. And Bezos and musk both express interest in having people living in space. Musk wants to colonize Mars. Bezos wants people living in orbital colonies. So your argument seems to be that we don’t need to worry about them having a lasting negative impact because they’re doomed to fail, to have no impact past a tourism business.

I don’t think the driver should be government either. Hell, I think the idea of nations and governments is antithetical to any wide push into space. I’d just rather have a slow, unproductive government-led space effort than a soulless and exploitative private one. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, RocketSquid said:

Space tourism will never be a big enough industry to prompt easier access, especially considering the novelty is a major portion of the appeal. And that doesn’t change the fact that a large portion of the population will never be able to pay for space travel.

This was true of air travel. Space is different, unless we see P2P suborbital travel at some point (note that VTVL and HTHL are both possibilities here, so it is likely to occur eventually, IMO).

At the point that intercontinental "air" travel includes suborbital flight, the numbers will of course skyrocket since that business case literally only closes if they are competitive with airline travel as we know it.

This is obviously a big "if" but it's a possible case where travel to space becomes accessible to everyone (even if only for a handful of minutes on the way across the Pacific).

Quote

If I had the opportunity in real life, I would focus on increasing access for everyone, not just people who can pay.

This is flatly absurd. Without people paying, the tech never happens.

You are using a computer because people made them for rich people, and eventually the price came down. Ditto smart phones. You're against electric cars, I assume, since right now only rich people can afford them?

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If not rich people, who do you think will live in space? It’s unrealistically expensive to ship workers into space, and if you legitimately believe workers can choose to work wherever, why would they choose to work in a place where their oxygen privileges can be revoked?

Sigh.

One, I am unsure what the case would be in the foreseeable future for human workers in space, if they are needed, then some place to live is part of the calculus. If you actually think people will be enslaved to the point where their bosses can threaten them with murder... actually, I can see some government programs on this planet doing that, actually. One with an extant space program killed some 10s of millions of its own citizens in the past.

(EDIT, forgot the "two" part)

Two, if there is a business case for workers in space, then then will need to be housed (unless travel is so cheap they can commute from Earth). Business case must close, so if it is required, it has to happen. If few people would want to live in the provided housing, they will be able to demand higher salaries. If the housing is more attractive, then they can attract more workers (which will reduce the amount they need to pay them (though the housing is a cost here), supply and demand).

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Human population levels out over time, naturally. This is observed in most developed nations—give people a choice, and access to contraception, and population growth will level out or even become negative. And in order to significantly reduce population by spaceflight you would need to send hundreds of thousands of people into space every day.

The point of moving people into space would never be to reduce pop on Earth, it would be to raise the human population in the universe.

 

Quote

Also, workers aren’t as mobile as you seem to think. If workers could choose not to work at Amazon, they overwhelmingly would, but that’s neither here nor there. Suffice to say, one does not get as obscenely rich as Bezos without stepping on a few people to do so.

Wealth is not zero-sum.

Employment is a contract between two parties. They are not forced to work for Amazon.

 

Quote

Without people living and working in space, humanity has no real presence in space. There are tourist flights that end the second liability insurance costs surpass profits, and that’s it. And Bezos and musk both express interest in having people living in space. Musk wants to colonize Mars. Bezos wants people living in orbital colonies. So your argument seems to be that we don’t need to worry about them having a lasting negative impact because they’re doomed to fail, to have no impact past a tourism business.

I see no business case for colonizing space at all.

That I cannot see one doesn't mean it's impossible, it just means I cannot see it. The only way to get many humans into space regularly (IMHO) is tourism.

Tourism to space is predicated on reduced cost to space for people, and large increases in safety. Both have to happen for it to become commonplace, so any assumption it is a thing includes those assumptions (safe and cheap).

Quote

I don’t think the driver should be government either. Hell, I think the idea of nations and governments is antithetical to any wide push into space. I’d just rather have a slow, unproductive government-led space effort than a soulless and exploitative private one. 

If it's up to government it never happens.

Edited by tater

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12 minutes ago, tater said:

This was true of air travel. Space is different, unless we see P2P suborbital travel at some point (note that VTVL and HTHL are both possibilities here, so it is likely to occur eventually, IMO).

At the point that intercontinental "air" travel includes suborbital flight, the numbers will of course skyrocket since that business case literally only closes if they are competitive with airline travel as we know it.

This is obviously a big "if" but it's a possible case where travel to space becomes accessible to everyone (even if only for a handful of minutes on the way across the Pacific).

This is flatly absurd. Without people paying, the tech never happens.

You are using a computer because people made them for rich people, and eventually the price came down. Ditto smart phones. You're against electric cars, I assume, since right now only rich people can afford them?

Sigh.

One, I am unsure what the case would be in the foreseeable future for human workers in space, if they are needed, then some place to live is part of the calculus. If you actually think people will be enslaved to the point where their bosses can threaten them with murder... actually, I can see some government programs on this planet doing that, actually. One with an extant space program killed some 10s of millions of its own citizens in the past.

 

The point of moving people into space would never be to reduce pop on Earth, it would be to raise the human population in the universe.

 

Wealth is not zero-sum.

Employment is a contract between two parties. They are not forced to work for Amazon.

 

I see no business case for colonizing space at all.

That I cannot see one doesn't mean it's impossible, it just means I cannot see it. The only way to get many humans into space regularly (IMHO) is tourism.

Tourism to space is predicated on reduced cost to space for people, and large increases in safety. Both have to happen for it to become commonplace, so any assumption it is a thing includes those assumptions (safe and cheap).

If it's up to government it never happens.

Computers weren’t created for rich people. They were created for governments.

A privately owned and operated space colony would be a company town to a greater extent than anywhere on earth could manage. They could easily pay their workers in scrip and charge them for air, and it would not be without precedent—such a thing was very common before the rise of organized labor. And once people get to such a place, they can’t leave. Sure, a government is equally capable of such oppression, but I’m not advocating for a dictatorship. 

Wealth isn’t zero sum, but under extant hierarchical structures someone is always going to get the worse end of the deal. 

There is no business case for the colonization of space, but space tourism will very likely lead to space colonization because the infrastructure is similar. Propellant depots are a necessity, and so are long-term space habitats, and so’s more efficient life support. And since it’s a passion project for many of the CEOs, colonization efforts are a next step for them. It’s only the first step, getting the people there, that’s difficult and unprofitable. The colony can sustain itself. But space colonies as company towns is not a future I want. 

On the other hand, who knows? Maybe a revolution or a labor movement will actually be easier in a space colony. One way or another, eventually all our current systems will fall away, whether that’s capitalism, socialism, governments, or money itself. No hierarchy can persist forever, even if it seems to have all the advantages in its favor.

The bigger concern I have with the shift is the scientific value. The corporations will be focused on the purely practical aspect. There would be no Apollo, no new horizons. There’s a very real chance that corporate spaceflight will be the nail in the coffin for space exploration. Already people complain about the cost (which is a tiny portion of the budget) and ask why we don’t just leave it to corporations. When corporations actually can do routine launches for cheaper consistently, I have to wonder how long the existing space agencies will last, how long before any team that wants to send a probe out into our solar system is trying to find corporate sponsors, before the Pepsi logo is painted on the side of every rover.

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Just now, RocketSquid said:

Computers weren’t created for rich people. They were created for governments.

Nope. Some computers were, certainly, others were created for businesses, then people.

Early personal computers were incredibly expensive. They'd be expensive NOW, and in constant dollars, far, far more expensive, and weighted for capability... not even close.

 

Just now, RocketSquid said:

A privately owned and operated space colony would be a company town to a greater extent than anywhere on earth could manage. They could easily pay their workers in scrip and charge them for air, and it would not be without precedent—such a thing was very common before the rise of organized labor. And once people get to such a place, they can’t leave. Sure, a government is equally capable of such oppression, but I’m not advocating for a dictatorship. 

Not a thing, save it for dystopian fiction.

 

Just now, RocketSquid said:

Wealth isn’t zero sum, but under extant hierarchical structures someone is always going to get the worse end of the deal. 

Nope. All human progress (we live in the best time to be a human in history) is the result of the increase in wealth on Earth. A rising tide lifts all boats. Yeah, some people are far more poor, but they are fewer as a %, and even the poor have things that the rich did not have even 50 years ago, much less 100, or 1000 years ago.

The industrial exploitation of space is the most likely path to a post-scarcity future for humanity. I think human workers are not really much of this equation, to be honest, I see machines as the driver here.

 

Just now, RocketSquid said:

There is no business case for the colonization of space, but space tourism will very likely lead to space colonization because the infrastructure is similar. Propellant depots are a necessity, and so are long-term space habitats, and so’s more efficient life support. And since it’s a passion project for many of the CEOs, colonization efforts are a next step for them. It’s only the first step, getting the people there, that’s difficult and unprofitable. The colony can sustain itself. But space colonies as company towns is not a future I want. 

I don't care. If people want to sign up to live and work in space, that's their business. I assume humans have agency, and can make intelligent choices. I'll not presume to make their choices for them. People elect worse futures for themselves already (going into huge debt to achieve a degree in "Whatever"-Studies, for example).

Just now, RocketSquid said:

On the other hand, who knows? Maybe a revolution or a labor movement will actually be easier in a space colony. One way or another, eventually all our current systems will fall away, whether that’s capitalism, socialism, governments, or money itself. No hierarchy can persist forever, even if it seems to have all the advantages in its favor.

Everything we care about in terms of modern human flourishing has been the result of the economics of the Industrial Revolution and what has followed. Even in places like the PRC, their recent gains have been entirely because of markets, not because of top-down direction. The commercial model will continue to improve human flourishing until the point that we achieve tech that allows for universal post-scarcity, at which point all bets are off, IMO.

 

Just now, RocketSquid said:

The bigger concern I have with the shift is the scientific value. The corporations will be focused on the purely practical aspect. There would be no Apollo, no new horizons. There’s a very real chance that corporate spaceflight will be the nail in the coffin for space exploration.

This is ridiculous.

So you're saying we have no scientists in Antarctica because they can get to Antarctica in aircraft that the government didn't have to build themselves, from scratch, and they can live in structures that the government didn't have to design and manufacture themselves from scratch? Oh, wait, the existence of aircraft, and construction materials, and pre-packaged food, etc, has in fact enabled such scientific exploration.

Space is no different. If you can get 10 tonnes to LEO for the same price you could FedEx it across the country, then a university science team could launch its own space probe. If you can buy a ticket to the Moon for the cost of an airline ticket, then planetary geology students will do research on the Moon (I know many biologists who did trips as undergrads to other countries as part of their training).

Just now, RocketSquid said:

Already people complain about the cost (which is a tiny portion of the budget) and ask why we don’t just leave it to corporations. When corporations actually can do routine launches for cheaper consistently, I have to wonder how long the existing space agencies will last, how long before any team that wants to send a probe out into our solar system is trying to find corporate sponsors, before the Pepsi logo is painted on the side of every rover.

Good.

We don't need a government agency to do things that universities should ideally do. We needed it only because it was beyond the capability at the Us. We have agencies related to other sciences, but they don't have the same budgets as NASA. You don't need a 20 billion dollar agency to study domestic ants, for example, because every biology department in the country can easily and cheaply send their entomologists into the field (literally) to study domestic ants.

vintage-tech-ads.jpg

(that HD is like 12k$ in 2019 dollars)

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19 hours ago, RocketSquid said:

So, why are Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos trying to expand into space? Because they've looked on their domains and seen that there's nothing left to conquer but the sky. They want to go to space as vanity projects.

Note that while SpaceX might be Musk's vanity project, without it and Telsa he likely wouldn't crack the Forbes 500 richest Americans.  Hardly "nothing left to conquer but the sky".

25 minutes ago, RocketSquid said:

Computers weren’t created for rich people. They were created for governments.

Nitpick: the first real operational "computer" was likely the Z3.  This computer was built more as an "art project" and had to be kept secret from the [censored German] government, or they'd take all the components as a "misuse of war materials".  Shortly later the ABC computer was built, presumably as an academic research project (note, the ABC was neither programmable nor Turing complete).  The ABC lead directly to the famous ENIAC (Mauchly had a good look at the ABC computer before building ENIAC).  ENIAC (and most computers to follow) was most certainly built for governments (as was Colossus, a British computer built to crack codes a little after the Z3).

After Eniac/Univac decided they could sell 3 computer to the government to fill the nations [electronic] computing needs, IBM (and the seven dwarfs) starting building computers for large companies.  Eventually one "dwarf", Digital, decided to build computers for smaller companies and launched the minicomputer.  One of these (the PDP-9) was so cheap to make Steve Wozniak wonder if he could buy one (could have happened any time between 1965-1975).  He was quite disappointed when his father told him it cost as much as his house (Silicon Vally housing prices hadn't taken off yet).  Steve wouldn't be able to make computers for people until he saw MOS technologies selling 6502s for $25 a pop (1975?).

Finally, as much as SpaceX has managed to drop the price of entry into space (and don't think for a minute NASA has been trying since 1969, although Orbital did make some progress), it is still staggering.  And even if you look at only the fuel costs (a tiny portion of the cost to go into space), it is still sky-high.  It will be decades before all the low hanging fruit will be plucked before things air-augmented boosters and ramjets will be suggested to lower the cost into space (assuming those who make such decisions still care about such things), and possibly make space available to the general public (assumes that the wealth distribution will maintain constant, any discussion of the probability or desirability of such should be scrubbed).

To get back on topic: NASA really doesn't build anything, they give specifications to contractors and let the contractors subcontract things out and provide something to that specification.  Thus it has been since at least Apollo and I'm sure NASA/NACA didn't have the massive infrastructure when it was new to build Mercury, so it did the same thing the DoD does: put out a spec and let contractors bid on it.  What has changed drastically is that things like "commercial crew" has a spec like "get three astronauts to orbit with a high (specified) margin of safety" instead of their usual "block diagram level + plenty of physical envelope dimensions" that micromanage the contractors.

I've mentioned that Falcon Heavy looks ideal for "cargo launch vehicle", Delta-IV heavy also exists, but can get only half the mass to GTO (and thus presumably LTO).  Starship and New Glenn are still paper, so can't be considered.  No idea if the Falcon Heavy or Delta-IV can deliver Blue Moon to the Moon (Falcon Heavy has nasty envelope issues, Delta-IV has mass issues), but it is almost certainly paper and could presumably be made to fit whichever restriction needed.  I'm not sure why, but for Apollo the Command module was the "glory contract" of the Apollo program, although the lander seems the coolest part.  I imagine that Bezos would do what it takes to get Blue Moon to the Moon.

 

Atkins Rule of space design: 39. Any exploration program which "just happens" to include a new launch vehicle is, de facto, a launch vehicle program.  Artemis is fundamentally a job program for SLS, so it already is a single launch vehicle program, it doesn't need to design another.

1 hour ago, RocketSquid said:

The bigger concern I have with the shift is the scientific value. The corporations will be focused on the purely practical aspect. There would be no Apollo, no new horizons. There’s a very real chance that corporate spaceflight will be the nail in the coffin for space exploration. Already people complain about the cost (which is a tiny portion of the budget) and ask why we don’t just leave it to corporations. When corporations actually can do routine launches for cheaper consistently, I have to wonder how long the existing space agencies will last, how long before any team that wants to send a probe out into our solar system is trying to find corporate sponsors, before the Pepsi logo is painted on the side of every rover.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouRbkBAOGEw

Link goes to JFK's speech at Rice University "we choose to go to the Moon".  The money was never there for Apollo for science.  The money was always there "to beat the ruskies", it was just that science happened to be a good way to beat them.  The US government can hardly be convinced that it needs to go to space for science (how many elected officials will publicly agree that "evolution is an obviously proven scientific fact that the entire field of biology depends on" and then imagine the same crew spending billions "just for science".)

Note that corporate support for science hasn't always been negative.  Bell Labs was legendary in their scientific output (being a regulated monopoly had a lot to do with that.  Do we have any of those anymore?).  While Claude Shannon did invent information theory (and everything Bell Labs needed to go digital in 40 years or so, and thanks to their replacement schedule needed that timeframe), plenty of general science was done.  With Bill Gates showing himself to be the ultimate philanthropist in terms of lives saved and general well being improved, I have to wonder if the next multi-billionaire might want to try to personally fund science (Warren Buffet's wife pretty much single handedly funds reproductive science R&D).  On the other hand, the Tobacco Institute showed corporations just how profitable and effective anti-science could be.

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59 minutes ago, tater said:

Nope. Some computers were, certainly, others were created for businesses, then people.

Early personal computers were incredibly expensive. They'd be expensive NOW, and in constant dollars, far, far more expensive, and weighted for capability... not even close.

 

Not a thing, save it for dystopian fiction.

 

Nope. All human progress (we live in the best time to be a human in history) is the result of the increase in wealth on Earth. A rising tide lifts all boats. Yeah, some people are far more poor, but they are fewer as a %, and even the poor have things that the rich did not have even 50 years ago, much less 100, or 1000 years ago.

The industrial exploitation of space is the most likely path to a post-scarcity future for humanity. I think human workers are not really much of this equation, to be honest, I see machines as the driver here.

 

I don't care. If people want to sign up to live and work in space, that's their business. I assume humans have agency, and can make intelligent choices. I'll not presume to make their choices for them. People elect worse futures for themselves already (going into huge debt to achieve a degree in "Whatever"-Studies, for example).

Everything we care about in terms of modern human flourishing has been the result of the economics of the Industrial Revolution and what has followed. Even in places like the PRC, their recent gains have been entirely because of markets, not because of top-down direction. The commercial model will continue to improve human flourishing until the point that we achieve tech that allows for universal post-scarcity, at which point all bets are off, IMO.

 

This is ridiculous.

So you're saying we have no scientists in Antarctica because they can get to Antarctica in aircraft that the government didn't have to build themselves, from scratch, and they can live in structures that the government didn't have to design and manufacture themselves from scratch? Oh, wait, the existence of aircraft, and construction materials, and pre-packaged food, etc, has in fact enabled such scientific exploration.

Space is no different. If you can get 10 tonnes to LEO for the same price you could FedEx it across the country, then a university science team could launch its own space probe. If you can buy a ticket to the Moon for the cost of an airline ticket, then planetary geology students will do research on the Moon (I know many biologists who did trips as undergrads to other countries as part of their training).

Good.

We don't need a government agency to do things that universities should ideally do. We needed it only because it was beyond the capability at the Us. We have agencies related to other sciences, but they don't have the same budgets as NASA. You don't need a 20 billion dollar agency to study domestic ants, for example, because every biology department in the country can easily and cheaply send their entomologists into the field (literally) to study domestic ants.

vintage-tech-ads.jpg

(that HD is like 12k$ in 2019 dollars)

Company towns are a real thing, and only increased regulation put an end to them. They’re not limited to dystopian fiction. And a space colony is an ideal site for a company town—people can’t even leave without paying. And neither can their children, or grandchildren. These people aren’t making a choice that hurts them, they’re making a choice that hurts all of their descendants. And the degree in “whatever-studies” only creates debt because the colleges have become bloated and increased pay for administrators while reducing pay for teachers. These systems aren’t natural law, they’re created by humans.

A rising tide may lift all boats, but a lot of people don’t have boats. The portion of the world’s wealth and resources owned by the wealthiest people continues to increase. We grow enough food to feed everyone on the planet, and have to pay farmers to produce less, and people still starve. Why? Because the distribution of food is flawed. 

The “commercial system” cannot produce a post-scarcity society because it relies on scarcity and creates more when scarcity begins to disappear. Look at all the fear over technological unemployment—the reduction or abolition of scarcity through technology is instead recast as a creation of scarcity because the benefits of this reduction in scarcity will be concentrated in the already powerful. As a post-scarcity society draws near the commercial system will destroy itself because the now-unemployed people will not be able to afford goods, even if production costs are zero, because they cannot pay for the company’s cut of the take. Either a violent uprising or government-enforced regulation results, and both of those are bad results. Change needs to be made before then, or the power of the state will be entrenched and oppression will follow.

And for the last time, NASA DOES NOT BUILD ITS OWN SPACECRAFT. IT CURRENTLY CONTRACTS OUT TO VARIOUS COMPANIES, INCLUDING SPACEX. EVERY CRAFT SINCE GEMINI HAS BEEN CONSTRUCTED BY PRIVATE ENTITIES AT THE BEHEST OF NASA. 

Plus, you toss around $20 Billion as if it’s a lot, as opposed to being less than a fifth of Bezos’s net worth, or less than half of one percent of the federal budget.

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1 hour ago, RocketSquid said:

Plus, you toss around $20 Billion as if it’s a lot, as opposed to being less than a fifth of Bezos’s net worth, or less than half of one percent of the federal budget.

$20G is one fifth before or after the divorce?  I think he's been spending about $1G/year on space, but with a single rocket to show for it.  But if Bezos wants to spend his money, I'd expect him to spend it on his own schedule and rockets, not spend most of it on SLS and not to try to meet NASA's crash schedule.  And there is no way $20 Billion will cover the Artemis project (as seen on the slide) through the 2024 landing, let alone the rest.  NASA expects to pay at least $8.9G on SLS (block 1) through 2021 (assuming they launch on schedule), *then* they  have to go through the same procedure for block 1b.  This ignores all the other issues building all the spacecraft needed to actually orbit and land on the Moon.  It is entirely possible that in the exceedingly unlikely event that Jeff Bezos attempted to fund NASA's vision of Artemis, he would manage to bankrupt himself.

Back in the 1980s or so I learned that Congress deals with budgets in billions to one decimal place (i.e. in amounts no less than $100,000,000.00) and as far as I know, that hasn't changed (while costs have changed dramatically).  So funding $20G isn't that hard for Congress, it is mostly an issue of explaining to constituents why they are spending such money (and more importantly, making sure "their side" is getting it's share of the pork.  A Senate seat costs about a billion dollars (spent by both sides to only elect one), so you need lobbyists to believe that you are a good investment).  And the other issue is that NASA's $1.6G/yr budget request is so much obviously a lowball that it makes Congress have to reopen the question every time NASA blows the budget and has to ask for more (if setting aside $20G is hard now, how will it look later.  This works well for things like the Shuttle, where the costs explode *after* the thing flies (and also wars, which *always* cost more in lives and money than even the most pessimistic would believe), but not for things where the costs keep creeping before the rocket is even completed.

There's always money to throw good money after bad, but there isn't always money to invest in our future.

https://oig.nasa.gov/docs/IG-19-001.pdf

(source for the $8.9 billion)

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2 hours ago, RocketSquid said:

Company towns are a real thing, and only increased regulation put an end to them. They’re not limited to dystopian fiction. And a space colony is an ideal site for a company town—people can’t even leave without paying. And neither can their children, or grandchildren. These people aren’t making a choice that hurts them, they’re making a choice that hurts all of their descendants.

The same could be said of people who left Europe to colonize certain parts of the world where they are no longer welcome. Again, so what?

 

2 hours ago, RocketSquid said:

And the degree in “whatever-studies” only creates debt because the colleges have become bloated and increased pay for administrators while reducing pay for teachers. These systems aren’t natural law, they’re created by humans.

No, "whatever-studies" are a group of useless, non-rigorous fields that have no attachment to reality. Teaching degrees in the US are a set of students with low admissions scores, who none the less have the highest GPAs at university. Least capable students, highest average... easiest major. Teaching used to be the only job women could get, so teachers were among the most skilled women. Once (happily) women were given a choice, then entered the fields they preferred, and teaching has suffered ever since (broadly, on average, there are many exceptions). Admin costs at universities is certainly increasing, and a problem---and many of those new admin people are "whaterver-studies" people there to make sure their unrigorous line is toed.

 

2 hours ago, RocketSquid said:

A rising tide may lift all boats, but a lot of people don’t have boats. The portion of the world’s wealth and resources owned by the wealthiest people continues to increase. We grow enough food to feed everyone on the planet, and have to pay farmers to produce less, and people still starve. Why? Because the distribution of food is flawed. 

Doesn't matter what % of the wealth is owned by how many people at all. When I was a kid you'd have to be one of the richest people on Earth to have a car phone, poor people have that now. The poor in other countries often carry around computing power (a smart phone) that exceeds all computers in the US combined during the entirety of the Apollo program. Inequality is a psychological problem, it's not a rational one. If you have vastly more (including health, lifespan, etc) than a rich person had in 1800, you're rich in every way that matters.

most-peaceful-and-prosperous-period-of-h

 

2 hours ago, RocketSquid said:

The “commercial system” cannot produce a post-scarcity society because it relies on scarcity and creates more when scarcity begins to disappear. Look at all the fear over technological unemployment—the reduction or abolition of scarcity through technology is instead recast as a creation of scarcity because the benefits of this reduction in scarcity will be concentrated in the already powerful. As a post-scarcity society draws near the commercial system will destroy itself because the now-unemployed people will not be able to afford goods, even if production costs are zero, because they cannot pay for the company’s cut of the take. Either a violent uprising or government-enforced regulation results, and both of those are bad results. Change needs to be made before then, or the power of the state will be entrenched and oppression will follow.

Only the commercial side of things can ever get us to post scarcity. Let the government take care of that, and welcome to the future, nothing will ever change.

2 hours ago, RocketSquid said:

And for the last time, NASA DOES NOT BUILD ITS OWN SPACECRAFT. IT CURRENTLY CONTRACTS OUT TO VARIOUS COMPANIES, INCLUDING SPACEX. EVERY CRAFT SINCE GEMINI HAS BEEN CONSTRUCTED BY PRIVATE ENTITIES AT THE BEHEST OF NASA. 

We all know this. The contract process is not the same, however. SLS is being (mis)managed by Boeing, for example. NASA is the hyper-involved customer who constantly puts in change orders, etc, and Boeing happily obliges, and sends a bill. When a national lab buys a computer, they don't enter in a contract for Dell to make them a new, bespoke computer, with slightly different specs than any toher computer, and pay millions for it, they simply put out a PO and buy a computer.

That is how NASA should buy rockets. "We need this capability, and can pay X dollars for it." Then the companies interested sell the thing (or make it, if they think X dollars is worth it). The Apollo/Shuttle/SLS model is guaranteed to produce things at vast cost.

 

2 hours ago, RocketSquid said:

Plus, you toss around $20 Billion as if it’s a lot, as opposed to being less than a fifth of Bezos’s net worth, or less than half of one percent of the federal budget.

When did I ever imply it was a lot? It's not. Its considerably less than NYC spends on their public school system. It's none the less not going to get any bigger. The trouble with NASA expense is opportunity costs. That budget is what it is, and is not ever likely to grow (short of having to deflect an asteroid or something to kick it in the pants). As a result, if we spend 3 billion dollars to launch SLS once, that's a waste compared to the 20 expendable, or 33 reusable FH launches that would buy (NG would be a better comparison with the 7m fairing, so you can assume it buys maybe 30-40 NG flights, instead, a handful of which could entirely replace ISS).

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12 minutes ago, tater said:

Only the commercial side of things can ever get us to post scarcity. Let the government take care of that, and welcome to the future, nothing will ever change.

That would only be the case if it were some kind of big "we're going post-scarcity" project. It is not. Capitalism relies on scarcity, and the laws of economics will tend to maintain it. If production becomes cheaper, corporations' cut will go up. It it requires less people, employment will go down. The forces of market would not allow supply to exceed demand in a way that is needed for such a society. Post scarcity is, by definition, a largely non-commercial future.

Government, on the other hand, tends to progressively give to its taxpayers more and more things that are considered "basic essentials". Jobs is one of those things, and a big deal even now. Some day, with growing populations and advancements in technology reducing the need for workers, it might happen that governments will have to start building factories for the sole purpose of creating jobs, even if it otherwise makes no economic sense to produce whatever the factory is making. We're not talking state subsidies, we're talking having to build entirely new facilities to make something already in ample supply, just to avoid skyrocketing unemployment.

Note that US is hardly likely to be the world leader in this, European "social democratic" governments are more likely to enact measures of this sort. These governments already provide many services to their citizens for the simple reason that they are their citizens. Now, this doesn't always work best, and the services aren't always the best quality, but it works. Public schools, health care, housing, water... it's not a huge stretch to imagine them extending this to providing jobs, if corporations fail to do so. And there's only so many people you can stuff into positions in the bureaucracy.

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24 minutes ago, Dragon01 said:

That would only be the case if it were some kind of big "we're going post-scarcity" project. It is not. Capitalism relies on scarcity, and the laws of economics will tend to maintain it. If production becomes cheaper, corporations' cut will go up. It it requires less people, employment will go down. The forces of market would not allow supply to exceed demand in a way that is needed for such a society. Post scarcity is, by definition, a largely non-commercial future.

The thing is that IMO post-scarcity on Earth requires:

1. Resources off Earth. (and the cost-effective infrastructure to get things back and forth)

2. Technology that doesn't yet exist (at least more narrowly intelligent autonomous systems, possibly something closer to AGI).

So while you are right regarding economics, the two technological paths require commercial entities to occur. So for post-scarcity we need a critical mass of off the shelf tech. I suppose the tech companies can sandbag themselves to keep that just out of reach, but the first to hit some of these goals (before it becomes universal) will get very, very rich, so there is an incentive to make money in these areas, at which point they might put themselves out of a job.

I think commercial is driving, and government will have to follow and clean up the mess.

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30 minutes ago, Dragon01 said:

That would only be the case if it were some kind of big "we're going post-scarcity" project. It is not. Capitalism relies on scarcity, and the laws of economics will tend to maintain it. If production becomes cheaper, corporations' cut will go up. It it requires less people, employment will go down. The forces of market would not allow supply to exceed demand in a way that is needed for such a society. Post scarcity is, by definition, a largely non-commercial future.

I'd go so far as to claim that Capitalism requires IP law (and local branding monopolies) to maintain scarcity.  IP, by definition, has no scarcity.  Any physical products might have IP in their designs, and it is often clear that an identical copy can be produced for an order of magnitude less by those unconcerned with IP law.

34 minutes ago, Dragon01 said:

Note that US is hardly likely to be the world leader in this, European "social democratic" governments are more likely to enact measures of this sort. These governments already provide many services to their citizens for the simple reason that they are their citizens. Now, this doesn't always work best, and the services aren't always the best quality, but it works. Public schools, health care, housing, water... it's not a huge stretch to imagine them extending this to providing jobs, if corporations fail to do so. And there's only so many people you can stuff into positions in the bureaucracy.

I'd suspect that China or India could manage such a trick by ignoring IP law for quite some time (note that the US rise to power coincided with a period of ignoring UK IP*).  The biggest difficulty would be to somehow produce their own IP once they ran out of stuff to help themselves to.  Using Socialism would be a start, but I'd guess that the feedback mechanisms of the free market would work much better than some commissar deciding who should work on what IP.  How that feedback mechanism would work (raw downloads?  Cycle counts of software (by library call)?  Likes?) is beyond me.

Finally, this isn't quite "zero scarcity".  Just "zero artificial scarcity" and wildly higher effective wealth.  And there still is the issue about everybody wanting the same bit of land**.

* you can similarly trace Western technology all the way back to Egypt and Mesopotamia copying off each other.

** perhaps that IP production is the only way to get the best land?

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Posted (edited)

Land ceases to be scarce when you can make it (orbital habitats, built by robots). This thread has gone, way, way off topic, but let me say that I see post-scarcity as a thing when for little money (still likely a lot for "regular" people) a robot can be sent that can mine resources, and then make more robots as needed to do whatever the task is---say building a space colony. Turn the bots loose, then occupy the structure when done, the entire cost literally being getting the first self-replicating miner-robot to the target resource. Nothing short of that likely meets the definition, frankly, so it's a LONG way out.

On topic, again, I find the current NASA timeline unlikely, but the only part that doesn't make it impossible is the uncertainty about what capabilities might exist soon due to Blue Origin and SpaceX both building stuff with or without NASA.

Edited by tater

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Posted (edited)

The plausibility of the current plan depends on how the work on SLS goes along. That depends on whether they can prod Boeing into meeting its deadlines. A schedule slip is likely, but then, SpaceX isn't exactly stranger to that, either.

1 hour ago, tater said:

The thing is that IMO post-scarcity on Earth requires:

1. Resources off Earth. (and the cost-effective infrastructure to get things back and forth)

2. Technology that doesn't yet exist (at least more narrowly intelligent autonomous systems, possibly something closer to AGI).

So while you are right regarding economics, the two technological paths require commercial entities to occur. So for post-scarcity we need a critical mass of off the shelf tech. I suppose the tech companies can sandbag themselves to keep that just out of reach, but the first to hit some of these goals (before it becomes universal) will get very, very rich, so there is an incentive to make money in these areas, at which point they might put themselves out of a job.

I think commercial is driving, and government will have to follow and clean up the mess.

The prerequisite developments can be made by commercial ventures. Indeed, the eternal drive of the corporations to do more with less money (and hence people, because people cost money) is also what may eventually force the governments to act, ushering the transition. A "corporate conspiracy" to keep transition to post-scarcity from occurring is unlikely - they simply don't think that far ahead. Aside from easily predictable traps like market saturation, they tend to see a catastrophe coming after the cat's already out of the bag.

1 hour ago, wumpus said:

I'd suspect that China or India could manage such a trick by ignoring IP law for quite some time (note that the US rise to power coincided with a period of ignoring UK IP*).  The biggest difficulty would be to somehow produce their own IP once they ran out of stuff to help themselves to.  Using Socialism would be a start, but I'd guess that the feedback mechanisms of the free market would work much better than some commissar deciding who should work on what IP.  How that feedback mechanism would work (raw downloads?  Cycle counts of software (by library call)?  Likes?) is beyond me.

I think that it would start with physical objects, actually. Software IP might, in fact, hang on until money in general loses most of its meaning. I'd imagine it starting with something relatively common and physical, which could be made out of easily available resources (like carbon, which you can scavenge out of the air) by the group hit hardest by unemployment (like unskilled labor, which tends to be the first to get shafted). So probably something like plastic toothbrushes. Indeed, artificial scarcity might be the last one to fall, especially since creative work, which is where the "I" in "IP" comes from, is unlikely to ever be automated, and even most humans are incapable of doing a good job at it.

Many European countries are already socialist by some definitions. Not quite the Warsaw Pact-style "red socialism", but they check many boxes. Indeed, socialism will likely be a transitional phase - state ownership of means of production, not because it took over them, but because it drove the corporations out of business trying to provide universal employment. Indeed, the whole problem with communism was that USSR attempted it a few centuries too early, expecting meeting the technological requirements to be a matter of years. They were trying, creating quite a progress cult in the process, but they missed their mark by at least a century.

Raw land area has ceased to matter since quite some time and its importance will decline as miniaturization progresses. Nevertheless, scarcity will probably continue for a long time in resource-limited areas. Anything that can be made out of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen is fair game, but if you want, say, a ton of metallic rhenium there might be complications. Not that an average person would need a ton of metallic rhenium, of course. :) 

Edited by Dragon01

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33 minutes ago, Dragon01 said:

The plausibility of the current plan depends on how the work on SLS goes along. That depends on whether they can prod Boeing into meeting its deadlines. A schedule slip is likely, but then, SpaceX isn't exactly stranger to that, either.

Absolutely. Not to mention they might be betting the farm on Starlink. The difference is that:

1. It's not MY money (unlike SLS/Orion).

2. They don't get paid more the more they fail to deliver.

 

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Posted (edited)

Actually, I'd expect SpaceX will spend whatever it needs to make their plans happen, no matter how many delays they have. SLS is exactly the same. The initial budget was underestimated, sure, but the frequency with which this happens suggests that either nobody can predict how much things will really cost, or that a realistic estimate was discarded in favor of one that would be easier to swallow for politicians. Those things take a certain amount of time and money, which has to be spent no matter who is doing the development. It would be better if the estimates were honest, but honesty isn't exactly a trait valued by most management types. 

Perhaps they could be some savings, or a performance boost, made by not sticking to the old technologies. But I'm not entirely sure about that. Either way, it's a completely new SHLV. Those things don't come cheap. For its performance, Saturn V was actually far too expensive. It did its job, but it was actually far ahead of its time. This is why the 60s predictions about the 90s were so hilariously off. They were based on extrapolating from a period of unsustainable technological expansion. Both the US and Soviets realized they couldn't keep up economically with the escalating races, and they ended up settling on space stations. Going to Mars with 70s tech was physically possible, but would have bankrupted the nation that tried. Given everything, I feel that we are still ahead of the curve for lunar bases and the like. Not as much, but still.

Edited by Dragon01

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Dragon01 said:

For its performance, Saturn V was actually far too expensive. It did its job, but it was actually far ahead of its time. This is why the 60s predictions about the 90s were so hilariously off. They were based on extrapolating from a period of unsustainable technological expansion.

Gordon Moore's eponymous law was 1965.  It held strong until the last few years (and you can argue that NAND flash is still obeying it).  Hard drive storage might have been growing at an increased exponential rate compared to transistors for most of that period.

Other predictions:

Anything on air travel that ignores the sound barrier (both increased fuel consumption and sonic booms).
Anything that assumes that fuel will get cheaper and cheaper (also auto predictions).

Auto predictions:
Anything that completely misses that the price of oil could be effectively controlled by Saudi Arabia (and to a lesser extent the rest of OPEC)
Anything that ignored Ralph Nader's "Unsafe at any Speed" (reading it you remember that "just because you are crazy, doesn't mean they aren't out to get you".  Ralph Nader saw passenger killing conspiracies everywhere, but that didn't mean that the car industry fundamentally didn't want safer cars (not ignoring car buyers not wanting to think about crashing and dying in their new cars).
From decades later, it seemed like the only technological expansion in 1960s automobiles was in displacement (probably a non-trivial tech) and sheetmetal.  It seemed like nearly all automotive innovation was lead by Japan until the 1990s.
 

Automation predictions:
Robots are hard.  Robots are even harder if all you have are 1960s computers.  Wait around for 20th century GPUs to smooth out the inputs (and do some AI stuff with them) and you might have something.

Social predictions: Using a dartboard was likely to have better results.  Robert Heinlein might have managed the "death of traditional marriage" prediction, but he seemed to think that the size of a marriage would increase.  Instead, it seems limited to two, only with fewer and fewer restrictions on who those two are.  Most of what impressed me about RAH's predictions were that most of them were for 2000 (from 1950) and a few were true by 1960.  Of the few not true by 1980, one was "proof of life after death" (although at least one researcher has done tremendous work on kids with memories "from reincarnation" that show high accuracy and little tampering) and another one was the fall of communism (which RAH decided to stand with, although there was little hope in 1980).

Re: the Saturn V.  Looks like you could get two shuttle launches for the price of a Sat V launch.  So as long as you had Sat I available for small (just crew?) missions and the Sat V for the big jobs (toss half the ISS up at once) you could probably do better than the shuttle program.  Just don't count on getting ~200 launches.

Edited by wumpus
hit ctrl-rtn when I wanted shift-return. edit 2, cost of SatV

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Posted (edited)

Moore's law was computing, not spaceflight. This "overteching" that the space race caused did not include computers. Spaceflight is, mathematically speaking, a rather simple problem, so this wasn't really a big concern.

The thing with sonic booms is a humbug, BTW. This was deliberately started in the US to kill off Concorde, because they realized Boeing's own SST was going nowhere. They're nowhere near as bad as people think. If it wasn't for that, SSTs might have found a niche, though Concorde and Tu-144 were both ahead of their time, as well (the latter quite literally, not to mention it suffered from being too much of a political project).

Edited by Dragon01

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39 minutes ago, Dragon01 said:

Moore's law was computing, not spaceflight. This "overteching" that the space race caused did not include computers. Spaceflight is, mathematically speaking, a rather simple problem, so this wasn't really a big concern.

Except that the first chips were developed for ICBMs.  While you get to space on limited computers, it always helped to make what little you needed lighter and lighter.  The other point was just how accurate Moore's law has been, and that it dates from 1965.

Anything that assumes Congress will keep increasing NASA's budget while the Viet Nam war continued, not to mention new Great Society costs as well as the up and coming stagflation was simply absurd.  But SST didn't appear to depend so much on NASA's budget (although I'm sure some money seeped through).  A better way would be to spec a supersonic bomber that could also be reworked into a bomber and see that Boeing got the contract.  In the end, Boeing picked plan B: the 747 and laughed all the way to the bank.

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