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End of the U.S. at the top of space exploration?

Unity

Living in Ikoria
Staff member
While browsing AT&T/Yahoo's news page, a couple of the science headlines on space travel had grabbed my attention.

This article is about a Shuttle that is set to launch on Friday for its last use...the U.S. isn't ending space programs, but this is apparently the end of the use of these types of shuttles for manned travel.

Shuttle Atlantis prepares to rocket into history - Yahoo! News

A few pertinent quotes out of the article:

The shuttle Atlantis is poised to launch Friday on the final flight of the 30-year American program, a journey that marks the end of an era of US dominance in human space exploration.
"We are not ending human spaceflight. We are recommitting ourselves to it and taking necessary and difficult steps today to ensure America's preeminence in human space exploration for years to come," Bolden said.
Once the shuttle program ends, the world's astronauts will have to hitch a ride aboard Russia's three-seat space capsules at a cost of $51 million each.
The 2nd article is kind of a follow-up, speaking about how the U.S. will need to rely on Russia for some parts of space travel and about how China is Russia's main competitor in that area, from Russia's P.O.V.

Russia gains edge in space race as US shuttle bows out - Yahoo! News

--Thoughts on these articles? How relevant is the "space race" at this point in time?

--Also, in general terms of the costs of space exploration, is it important to you (U.S. or not) that space programs get budget allocations and attention? What are some of the benefits of this scientific exploration? Drawbacks?
 

ExpectantlyIronic

e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑
Sending men into space is more spectacle than science at this particular moment in time. We can send probes farther, cheaper, and collect just as much information with them, while putting nobody at risk. Also, the shuttle program was horribly in need of a replacement, from what I heard, and will be replaced with something else aiming to send people into space. So well I think we can certainly say that other nations are taking a much more prominent role in space exploration than they have in the past, the United States is hardly quitting.
 

Unity

Living in Ikoria
Staff member
Sending men into space is more spectacle than science at this particular moment in time. We can send probes farther, cheaper, and collect just as much information with them, while putting nobody at risk. Also, the shuttle program was horribly in need of a replacement, from what I heard, and will be replaced with something else aiming to send people into space. So well I think we can certainly say that other nations are taking a much more prominent role in space exploration than they have in the past, the United States is hardly quitting.

I think that the two bolded statements are great points, EI. At this point in time the technology really does take care of the exploration need, and it's not like the U.S. is stopping with that. Sending people into space may become more of a priority again in the future, but other than the fact that some people would like to see a man/woman setting foot on Mars I don't think that it's needed at this time. Safety is really important. The scientific experiments on space stations may be important as well, but I'm honestly not sure if they're continuing.
 

SuiGeneris

blue 3
I think ultimately the space race will be the defining scientific matter of our existance. I think we'll find a means to inhabit another planet before we truly find a means not to destroy our own.

That being said, I agree with E.I. Our mindset of sending humans to space was outdated 20 years ago. It was definatly time to start changing. The unfortunate part about space exploration is it is so expensive to start over or go another route that it hampers develope.

Drones are much more effective at this point anyway. They can calculate a lot more information safer and faster than any human can.
 

Millz

Better Call Saul
Staff member
V.I.P.
I don't really think there's much purpose to send humans into outer space anymore. I mean, where else are we going to go?

I definitely agree that sending drones is the way to go because of the information they can bring back. They can be in space for years and then come back with tons of new material. A human being in space for that long? Not as likely.
 

Unity

Living in Ikoria
Staff member
I don't really think there's much purpose to send humans into outer space anymore. I mean, where else are we going to go?

I definitely agree that sending drones is the way to go because of the information they can bring back. They can be in space for years and then come back with tons of new material. A human being in space for that long? Not as likely.
While going to Mars would be really cool, it would really be an expensive project to "prove that we can." While it may not inspire people on the same level, I tend to agree that sending drones is much smarter...if there's something only a human can do, or if the drones have given us reason to go somewhere, then it seems to make a lot more sense.
 

Millz

Better Call Saul
Staff member
V.I.P.
While going to Mars would be really cool, it would really be an expensive project to "prove that we can." While it may not inspire people on the same level, I tend to agree that sending drones is much smarter...if there's something only a human can do, or if the drones have given us reason to go somewhere, then it seems to make a lot more sense.
I always hoped that sometime in our lifetimes a human being would walk on Mars but I'm just not that optimistic anymore that it will happen. How long would it take to get someone to Mars? Is our technology good enough? How much would it cost? We've already got a sizeable debt to deal with at home.
 

Wade8813

Registered Member
Other than colonization, I'm not really sure what the point of the "space race" is. And colonization seems horribly impractical right now (even if we weren't in a stupid amount of debt).
 

Dekzper

Registered Member
Space race?? :lol:

The Russians built the 1st successful manned space station and most of the manned trips to the ISS (International Space Station) have been made with Russian Soyuz rockets. I have a list of each Expedition flight, crews, times, and rockets used.

The shuttle program was cancelled about 3 years ago but one launch site was kept intact till the new program was ready to take over. The other launch site was re-built for the new rockets.
The Ares I rockets will be used for short-range missions. Deep space missions will be made using the Ares V. They have made a lot of really exciting tests of the different parts of the new rocket systems and everything is doing great!
Btw, I watched the last shuttle lift-off live! It was a perfect launch!

The U.S. space program:
NASA - Human Exploration

NASA has been doing endurance tests with people in isolation chambers for a planned trip to mars:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/11/29/nasa_mars/

The U.S. space program isn't finished just cause the shuttles were abandoned. It's just making adjustments for the future. :D
 
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Unity

Living in Ikoria
Staff member
This is a pretty interesting followup article:

Private space race heats up as US shuttle retires - Yahoo! News

NASA and private companies ("Boeing, SpaceX, Sierra Nevada and Blue Origin" according to the article) are basically working together, and the companies are beginning a sort of race to develop a new vessel for manned space exploration.

Should be interesting to see what they come up with! It also kind of shows that the U.S. government isn't slowing on manned travel as much as it had seemed:

Earlier this year, the US space agency distributed nearly $270 million in seed money to four companies -- Boeing, SpaceX, Sierra Nevada and Blue Origin -- to boost their bids to be first in the new space era.
President Barack Obama's budget request for fiscal year 2012 includes $850 million for such efforts and would mark the third round of funding so far.
 
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