Author Topic: Space yays  (Read 48841 times)

dubsartur

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Re: Space yays
« Reply #135 on: August 27, 2023, 05:44:20 PM »
I literally linked to his essay above.  Its journalistic but nobody seems to have taken up his challenge and unpicked the hyperbole from the serious arguments.

Edit: His major achievement is a series of talks explaining the long-term doom of venture-capitalist funded websites and the surveillance-advertising complex and the dubiousness of the AI cult in the California vernacular https://idlewords.com/talks/  He seems to have become depressed after several short-term ventures into American politics and labour organizing and has been neglecting the business that pays his rent (but that stuff takes decades!  giving up after a year or two is premature)

Edit: examples of responses to "Why Not Mars?": a classic bad forum thread https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=58511.0 and blog post with an actual argument https://www.jwkash.com/questioning-my-religion-why-not-mars Note the manned spaceflight advocate's term"existential risk" and see TESCREAL ("what if some disaster ends life on earth?" has been a favourite gambit by American advocates of manned spaceflight for my whole lifetime).  Most of what I can find is short responses by randos saying "I agree completely!" or "I disagree completely"

Edit: the Oceangate submarine disaster let us empirically test the space-advocate argument "NASA is too cautious, we need to take a few risks to get things moving again."  Everyone who has close contact with NASA seems to agree that they are very bureaucratic but these are hard problems and when you try and fail people die (see also Theranos, Inc.).
« Last Edit: August 27, 2023, 07:19:26 PM by dubsartur »

Jubal

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Re: Space yays
« Reply #136 on: August 27, 2023, 09:02:08 PM »
Oh right! Yes, that post was back in January in my defence so it's a few months since I'd read it.

And yes, I think the "should we send humans to space" question is definitely in that box for me of "I am excited when exciting space things happen, but I do not think I have within a million miles of the expertise needed to weigh in on what exciting space things should be attempted". I don't think Knych's argument feels a good one to me for the same reasons you give re existential risk, but I'm also not enormously concerned about contaminating Mars. But overall I'd quite like this problem to be someone else's to solve (although I also think the world in which I did have to think about it seriously because that was the sort of discussion that might e.g. factor into my voting considerations would be an incredibly good one because that would in turn imply that a lot of other much scarier and bigger problems that I think about more were somehow no longer on my worry list).
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dubsartur

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Re: Space yays
« Reply #137 on: August 27, 2023, 09:35:39 PM »
Yeah, that is why I would like a more detailed analysis by someone not pushing a predetermined agenda.  I noticed that Ceglowski's essay did not address the geopolitical context of the ISS which the recent Guardian piece emphasized (keeping Russian rocket scientists gainfully employed and supervised in the 1990s).  And in general critics of manned spaceflight feel like losers ("how dare someone else devote their lives to this dangerous, amazing thing"), but relatively small investments on projects like the JWST or the Indian moon mission can have very cool results.

Meanwhile SpaceX had a successful test firing
https://arstechnica.com/space/2023/08/starships-next-test-flight-might-be-closer-than-you-think/

Edit: since a lot of space news is tediously nationalistic lets not forget that China has a space station too https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiangong_space_station

Jubal

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Re: Space yays
« Reply #138 on: August 27, 2023, 09:54:14 PM »
TIL from that Wiki piece that the Chinese space station's name is "The Heavenly Palace", which honestly makes the nomenclature of the ISS feel excessively mundane. Couldn't we have called it the "Bastion of the Star Explorers" or something?
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dubsartur

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Re: Space yays
« Reply #139 on: September 10, 2023, 04:48:24 AM »
Another Guardian piece reminded me that while it turns out that keeping primates alive and healthy in space is hard, in the 1940s and 1950s there were spoil-sports who thought it might be impossible.  They just were not writing for Astounding.  And closed-circuit life support may become more feasible if we can get the cost of a kilo in orbit down from $20k to $2k (ie. closer to the cost of the energy).
« Last Edit: September 10, 2023, 06:40:13 AM by dubsartur »

Jubal

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Re: Space yays
« Reply #140 on: September 14, 2023, 05:34:30 PM »
Mm. I think it's common to discuss things people assumed we'd have in the past that never worked out (the "where's my hovercar" line of argument) but much less common to discuss the things people actively assumed were impossible that we've achieved.
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dubsartur

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Re: Space yays
« Reply #141 on: September 19, 2023, 04:15:47 AM »
Mm. I think it's common to discuss things people assumed we'd have in the past that never worked out (the "where's my hovercar" line of argument) but much less common to discuss the things people actively assumed were impossible that we've achieved.
I think that people often do discuss the things people actively assumed were impossible that we've achieved, but they are telling urban legends ("a physicist said that a bumblebee can't fly!" "first they ignore you then they mock you then you win!") not history.

The only one that comes to mind is the discovery that there was not an impassable hot belt near the equator which confined the known world to the northern hemisphere.  I don't know how long there was a question whether it was possible to run a mile in four minutes, and whether it was a scientific consensus or just an old runners' tale.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2023, 05:48:06 AM by dubsartur »

dubsartur

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Re: Space yays
« Reply #142 on: October 08, 2023, 03:32:19 AM »

dubsartur

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Re: Space yays
« Reply #143 on: January 20, 2024, 07:17:50 PM »
Japan landed its first spacecraft on the moon but it may have flipped over or fallen on its side https://www.theguardian.com/science/live/2024/jan/19/japan-moon-landing-mission-space-latest-live-news-updates

dubsartur

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Re: Space yays
« Reply #144 on: March 12, 2024, 08:51:02 PM »
One of the hard problems in human spacetravel is shielding crew from radiation outside the Earth's magnetic field whenever there is a solar storm (although a lot depends on the level of safety you expect).  One proposal is electromagnetic shielding but implementation is the problem.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2024/03/shields-up-new-ideas-might-make-active-shielding-viable/

NASA's safety culture after Apollo 11 is a weird mix of safety-conscious (carefully calculating incremental increases in cancer risk to International Space Station crew) and reckless (all those deaths in the Shuttle program)

Jubal

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Re: Space yays
« Reply #145 on: March 13, 2024, 01:40:34 PM »
NASA's safety culture after Apollo 11 is a weird mix of safety-conscious (carefully calculating incremental increases in cancer risk to International Space Station crew) and reckless (all those deaths in the Shuttle program)
Is this something that's actually traceable as a single block change, or is it more that it's gone through several phases since? We're quite a few careers down the line from Apollo 11 now!

I had some interesting online discussion recently about building on the moon using sintering to make stuff from lunar dust, like in Markus Kayser's work: https://kayserworks.com/
And I remembered and dug up some interesting notes from 2022 on how one might actually be able to use microwaves for the purpose, superheating lunar dust that's been magnetically sifted to increase the metal content:
https://www.ucf.edu/news/methods-for-building-lunar-landing-pads-may-involve-microwaving-moon-soil/
https://www.universetoday.com/159427/want-to-build-structures-on-the-moon-just-blast-the-regolith-with-microwaves/
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Glaurung

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Re: Space yays
« Reply #146 on: March 13, 2024, 02:39:08 PM »
I think the balance has swung back and forth several times, dependent on competing pressures (not least from the US Congress) to:
- complete programmes as quickly and cheaply as possible
- avoid killing people and consequent bad publicity

dubsartur

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Re: Space yays
« Reply #147 on: March 13, 2024, 04:41:35 PM »
NASA's safety culture after Apollo 11 is a weird mix of safety-conscious (carefully calculating incremental increases in cancer risk to International Space Station crew) and reckless (all those deaths in the Shuttle program)
Is this something that's actually traceable as a single block change, or is it more that it's gone through several phases since? We're quite a few careers down the line from Apollo 11 now!
Simultaneous in different parts of the organization!  They lost the Columbia while teams were carefully trying to calculate obscure long-term health risks to highly-paid idealistic volunteers.

Maybe because of its origins, NASA is always centred around a prestige project (Apollo, Space Shuttle, ISS, Artemis) and when that project gets into trouble management makes choices which are bad for science and space capabilities but good for covering their butts.  Currently they are cancelling a $20m science project (Chandra X-ray telescope) to have MAWR BUDGET for the Moon/Mars plan.

More budget would probably help, but giant prestige projects are prone to delays, budget shortfalls, and deadly engineering failures.

Edit: fediverse thread on moon dust and its effects on breathing and equipment https://mastodon.green/@AnarchoCatgirlism@transfem.social/112057068231111010
« Last Edit: March 14, 2024, 04:47:14 AM by dubsartur »