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Space Travel: Where will we be by 2070?


SunJumper
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I will be 81yrs old if and when the year comes. I can only hope that we will have advanced our Species enough to set aside our Difference's "Both Tribal and Ethical". In an effort to explore our vast solar system and galaxy.

I guess if I had a wishlist, it would be:

Man Mission Mars

Moon Mining Research Facility (Manned or Robotic)

Quantum Computing or Personal Super Computers

If many more things happen I wouldn't be surprised.

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Land people on Mars by 2016? It takes 9 months or so to travel there, plus building and designing the mission would take much longer, not to mention some of the problems with keeping them alive.

I know NASA is going to try to land people on the moon by 2018-2020, but I heard that a while ago so I don't know if that is still true. China and maybe Russia are trying the same for around 2020.

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I know that China, Japan, India, and Russia all plan moon landings in the 2020s, whilst the US plans a mars mission in the 2030s. It's reasonable that humanity will have some sort of mining bases on the Moon, but production of moon rock would probably be for scientific purposes until heavy lift rockets can be constructed on the moon (theoretically possible, but may need pole to equator transport mechanisms to transport ice). With the 2030s mars mission, Humanity will likely to have visited Mars and its moons, but I can't imagine a long term base this century.

What about the odds of landings in the Jupiter/Saturn systems, or a mission to Venus?

Keep in mind that one could theoretically build bases on the gas planets to extract Hydrogen, Helium, and Duterium. Neptune has more helium and deuterium, but Uranus is closer... Saturn has a lot less helium, but amounts of Deuterium there fall between Uranus and Neptune, including the fact that Saturn is significantly closer to us...

Edited by SunJumper
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Indeed, I've read it... But I was wondering the opinions of others...

For those who haven't read it, Kaku envisions human settlement on the moon, and maybe the NEOs.

Edit, there will be someone who'll visit Pluto in 2015, in a round-about way...

Edited by SunJumper
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Hmm, I think I agree with the idea that humans will have visited several asteroids and established some sort of Moon base. I'm 50/50 on whether we'll have visited Mars in person yet, but we'll definitely have many more cool robotic probes whizzing around the solar system visiting planets and moons and even returning samples from them to Earth. Hopefully Planetary Resources and other companies with similar goals will have begun mining NEO's! There will be several large permanently manned space stations (operated by different governments and private companies) orbiting Earth at different altitudes and the cost of visiting one for several months as a tourist will, at most, equal the cost of a suborbital Virgin Galactic ticket today (~1/100th of what it currently costs to visit the ISS as a tourist). There may be at least one large space based solar power station collecting huge amounts of solar energy and beaming it to a receiver on the ground, powering an entire city, 24 hours a day, all year round. There will be remote controlled robotic satellites that can repair and move other satellites in orbit, greatly reducing the need to build and launch replacement satellites. There will probably be small cheap craft whose job it is to de-orbit hazardous space junk (sorry, no need for anime characters to do it :)). I hope that there will be some sort of orbital cable system implemented at this point, perhaps a lunar space elevator or spinning rotavator cables in Earth orbit. I don't think we'll have a full scale terrestrial space elevator yet, but it could be in the early stages of construction. I don't think there will ever be space fountains or launch loops, they're too crazy :rolleyes:. There could also be exciting scientific stuff going on in space, such as the harvesting of antimatter captured by the Earth's magnetic field for research, or to fuel the antimatter rockets of interplanetary craft! :D

The superpowers that exist at that time (China and the US are probably a safe bet, but perhaps some other country will become powerful by then as well) will likely be jostling for control of geosynchronous orbit, and other useful orbits, wanting to place their satellites in the best spots to bounce signals around the globe and monitor their enemies. They may have unmanned spacecraft covertly shooting down each others satellites from time to time. With the space based solar power plants of major cities in range of the same weapons built to shoot down spy satellites, there is the frightening possibility of a full on space war, one which would have dire consequences for us on Earth, but hopefully that won't happen.

All in all I think it will be pretty cool, hopefully I haven't over-estimated what we're capable of achieving in a little over half a century :cool:

Edited by SpaceSphere
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2023 hell. I'm hoping that by then NASA will have cracked warp-drive. (Hint: They're working on seeing if it's possible right now.)

Realistically, I hope that SpaceX and Planetary Resources tag-team the business world and get the money spewing in the direction of space. Where the money goes, genius follows (usually.)

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Haha... It takes 10 to 15 years to design a spacecraft, and I don't see anyone seriously planning the budget to go there, si I don't think we will have visited Mars by 2030 or 2040, although we might have a Mars sample return mission and maybe some robotic landers on a couple of Saturn's moons by then.

At the current budget levels, we are not going anywhere. NASA's Orion/SLS will cost $1billion/year for one launch, and there is no budget planned for mission modules (landers or exploration modules), so there will be no Moon landings before 2025-2030 at least. The chances for Orion/SLS of being cancelled by then are actually rather high because of the high cost/per flight, the low launch rate, and the lack of budget for actually doing anything once the infrastructure is in place. There is simply no budget for a lander or a Lagrange space station and there is no real justification for the public to send humans into space when robots can do most of the work. If we're lucky, we might have a couple of Orion asteroid missions, and maybe a small space station at Earth-Moon-L1. That's probably as far as we can get.

Now, moving out to 2060, either we have given up on manned spaceflight altogether, or there might be some huge event that will change public opinion: maybe a new cold war, the discovery of life on Mars or Europa, or a giant asteroid. Those are pretty much the only things that will motivate the public opinion enough to put space exploration in the spotlight once again. If this happens, then yes, we might finally get our Moon base and maybe a Mars landing, but I really wouldn't count on it.

You shouldn't forget that space is a hostile environment and it's hard to get to, and it always will be. The laws of physics are not going to change and it will always take a huge amount of energy and technology to put a human into orbit. Whatever technological breakthroughs come around in the future, there is no such thing as free energy, and you will always need to accelerate stuff to 28000km/h to get into LEO. Even if we do crack nuclear fusion power, it will still take 20 to 30 years to design and build power plants and for the technology to go mainstream.

People (especially Americans, because of their history) often compare Space to the colonizing the Western Frontier. This is a flawed comparison for many reasons. First, in space, there is nowhere to go. You need technology to survive and nobody is going to voluntarily emigrate to Mars or the Moon and spend the rest of their life living in a sealed hab module with recycled air and water. Colonies started with people willing to live off the land and trade with the old continent. In space, there is no land to live off of and nothing to trade. It will always be cheaper, safer, and easier to colonize the ocean beds or Antarctica than to colonize the Moon.

Edited by Nibb31
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Well, yes, you can't live off the land in orbit, but there are some things you can get in space that you can't on Earth. Helium 3, from the Moon. More sunlight per square metre on the Moon or Venus. Helium and Deuterium from the outer gas giants. With the price per kilo being extravagantly high, you will want to refine the goods you produce. This means that you can't just send back raw Uranusian air, you must purify the Helium/Deuterium. To do that, you will need at least a few men (or women).

This is sort of off-topic, but is one of the reasons for the topic's genesis: Would manned space exploration boom after an extraterrestrial conflict?

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Helium 3, from the Moon. More sunlight per square metre on the Moon or Venus. Helium and Deuterium from the outer gas giants.

He3 is a myth. We can do fusion with Hydrogen for much cheaper. It's also easier to build 30 percent larger solar panels on Earth than to send smaller solar panels into space... and the costs of helium or deuterium aren't worth spending humans to Jupiter.

Even if we do get to that stage, of we have advanced enough to develop fusion and deep space travel, then we will also have advanced robotics capable of doing the dangerous work for us.

And although I do believe that there is life on other planets, I really don't think they would be stupid enough to waste the energy required for interstellar travel just to kick our ass. That stuff belongs in sci-fi, not in a serious discussion.

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He-3 as an actual efficient source is pretty much a myth, at least as far as mining it goes; sure, there's much more of it on the moon than on the earth, but that 'much more' is still in the parts per billion range; in even the richest areas of it, you'd need to process roughly 150,000 tons for every kg of He3.

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in the apst 50 years our technology has been increased by like 5times the speed of what it was

That really depends on the area of technology.

The last 50 years has seen advances in computer science, materials, and biology. However, that is not necessarily true for spaceflight, energy, or propulsion, where we are still fighting against the same laws of physics.

You can't extrapolate technological advances on an exponential curve just because the last 50 years have seen advances. Technology can slow down and hit barriers. Social and economical changes can shift our focus from scientific research to other priorities. This has happened many times in the past, where we have alternated between dark ages that have lasted centuries and periods of enlightenment. We might actually be ending one of those periods and reentering an age of recession.

Our society is also vastly more complex and risk averse than 50 years ago, which also causes a certain degree of paralysis: it used to take a couple of months to design engineering projects such as aircraft or nuclear plants or motorways. Now any serious project takes at least 10 or 15 years for inception to finish, even with off-the-shelf technology.

You should say that to a real lunar geologist. I think he would laugh pretty hard.

I believe SpaceX will get us to Mars but 2024. They're on track.

SpaceX hasn't even launched a single human yet. 10 years to design and implement a manned Mars mission is totally unrealistic. It takes more than that just to design the toilet. They don't have any of the technology or hardware needed to get to Mars.

Edited by Nibb31
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SpaceX hasn't even launched a single human yet. 10 years to design and implement a manned Mars mission is totally unrealistic. It takes more than that just to design the toilet. They don't have any of the technology or hardware needed to get to Mars.

While it's far too easy to be blinded by lofty promises made in talks and by cool ideas that exist only on paper or in powerpoint presentations, the Dragon was built ground up to be human rated. The first human rated Dragon flight (though unmanned) is perhaps only 2 years away. The Falcon Heavy could launch as early as next year, and it will be able to carry 12~ tonnes to GTO, more than enough to get a Dragon to Mars. While I am a bit of a SpaceX fanboy, you can't outright dismiss the notion of SpaceX getting to Mars before NASA does, or at least not getting there without SpaceX's involvement, before the 2030s.

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SpaceX aren't some kind of exploration group, they stay where the money is; currently geostationary launches. They aren't going to go to Mars unless somebody pays them a heck of a lot of money to do so; and the chance of NASA doing it, having spent millions of dollars already on their own systems to do so, is minimal.

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SpaceX aren't some kind of exploration group, they stay where the money is; currently geostationary launches. They aren't going to go to Mars unless somebody pays them a heck of a lot of money to do so; and the chance of NASA doing it, having spent millions of dollars already on their own systems to do so, is minimal.

Wrong wrongington. The clue is in the title; Spacex is short for Space Exploration Technologies Corporation. NASA already contracts companies to build most of the systems and rockets and things that eventually get them to space. NASA operates the machinery, runs the programs and all the rest. There's no reason why SpaceX can't be the Grumman (company that built Apollo LEM) of Mars.

And as for going to Mars on their own, well, Elon Musk has repeatedly said that going to Mars is a driver for him and ultimately the company. His first idea for a space company was to send a little biodome to Mars, a completely philanthropic endeavour. SpaceX has been cash flow positive for a number of years thanks to LEO and geostationary contracts, and will no doubt continue to be successful in that area - but that's not all Elon Musk hopes to achieve.

During one talk he said "I would like to die on Mars, just not at the point of impact". I sincerely believe him.

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There's one little issue there; we already know which companies are going to be building Mars hardware; and they aren't SpaceX; because they're already building it, or at least developing it. There's absolutely no reason to hire SpaceX for beyond-LEO missions, because there are already companies that have been contracted to build the hardware, and which have experience in doing so. The switch in LEO to companies like SpaceX is because it's routine enough, and becoming cheap enough, that companies can actually expect to make a profit after NASA's contracts are finished. What are SpaceX supposed to do with a Mars rocket after NASA don't want it anymore? Try and recruit billionaires for weekend trips to Phobos?

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