Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 24th Apr 2012 08:51 UTC
In the News "A newly unveiled company with some high-profile backers - including filmmaker James Cameron and Google co-founder Larry Page - is set to announce plans to mine near-Earth asteroids for resources such as precious metals and water." Amazingly cool. Even if it never makes a dime of money, at least these people are contributing to space exploration now that the US has pretty much cut NASA to death. Come to think of it, it's pretty sad we've been relying on a single government for much of our space exploration.
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zima
Member since:
2005-07-06

Mining the moon might be just barely feasible if we ever get fusion to work

If we get fusion to work, mining everything we need from Earth's crust (the extraction no longer constrained by available energy) would still probably win out...
(though of course the fusion itself might possibly need something from the Moon, like Helium-3)

Anyway, with rising sophistication of manufacturing, I'm sure we will be able to do in-situ manufacturing at some point - and then Moon mining will be sensible, for its own needs. But that's probably at least few centuries away.

watching too many Star Wars movies

"Scifi cargo cults" of sorts are frequent, it seems - people don't seem to realize why some things are made in films.
Those things are not tools of space travel, but of cinematography and storytelling ...otherwise any sensible depictions of actually existing and much more wild than fiction universe would be either way too boring, or quite incomprehensible to audiences. And/or much more difficult to write.

So most depictions of "space" actually constrain imagination, try to not be too alien, too dissimilar from our comfy earthly experiences.
Even worse: typical scifi warfare seems to consist of ancient infantry tactics, large vessel tactics from the age of galleons, and small vessel tactics of WW1 airplanes ...all far from even present state of the art.


I suspect similar dynamics even might had some influence on the trainwreck of a project that was the Shuttle...
Consider those airplanes http://goo.gl/9TLhg (Wiki Unicode URL, tends to work weird) from "our" times, as imagined in times of rapid advances in marine tech (and we can even build them! Take a Harrier, remove wings and canopy - still a horrible idea vs. "boring" reality http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Ryanair_Boeing_737-800_appr... ). Consider how the scifi of ~1940s and 50s was dominated by "spaceplanes" ...in the times of rapid advances in airplane tech (I can see a pattern...) - many designers and decision-makers of the Shuttle were undoubtedly raised on those works of fiction. And they gave us an analogue of Catalina, at best (Spruce Goose, at worst) - a project which didn't deliver on any of its points as advertised, was basically obsolete before seriously getting on the drawing boards (with automated docking done already in the 60s), but sucked out the funds. A spacecraft wasting most of its LEO mass on airframe.
Oh, but it looked awesome... kinda like Concorde, but in space!
(not like those "boring" capsules - but nobody seems to remember that they were a relatively late innovation and a surprise: everybody was working on more aerodynamic shapes at first, ~spaceplanes essentially, which proved quite unworkable; capsules appear like the "oldest" approach because, in the days of severe mass constraints in early launchers, the optimal approach was needed to just barely work at all)

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