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  • Can we make space cool again?

    My contribution to the Arnold Challenge:

    So I've noticed something as of late. It seems that among young people space has gotten considerably more pedestrian. When I was a kid space travel was still incredibly awesome. There were all sorts of books, shows, and movies about it geared toward kids and I can remember how just about every kid game show from Where in the World is Carmen San Diego to Legends of the Hidden Temple featured a trip to Space Camp as the ultimate prize.

    For most of the latter 20th century, space travel had huge inspirational appeal. Baby Boomers grew up watching NASA go from space walk to moon walk in a decade, Generation Xers watched Skylab create a home in microgravity, and Millennials got to be inspired by the Space Shuttle and the ISS.

    But I've noticed that space isn't as jaw dropping for kids today as it used to be. The kids I've taught are considerably less wowed by it. And there are a few legitimate reasons for it. You aren't as wowed by tech you grow up with. Baby boomers got to experience space exploration at the true pioneer level and its no surprise a lot of their space shows resembled westerns. But for kids these days, space for them is like computers for millennials. It's always been there so it's not mindblowing.

    Another reason is the fact that we're kind of at an in between stage of awesomeness. In the 1960's there was a steady stream of impressiveness to be achieved because everything was being done for the first time. First man in space, first spacewalk, first lunar orbit, first moonwalk, first moon dune buggy ride. In the '80s, the Space Shuttle was essentially the first space plane.

    But now we're at a stage where we will eventually do something awesome, but it will be years or decades before that achievement. It's a big leap from putting on the moon to living on Mars. And it's much more exciting when you can say "We've orbited the moon. Next we're gonna land on it." than it is to say "We'll land on Mars....sometime. Maybe in a few decades." The days of the Apollo program moved too fast for the excitement to die down but now we've gone from seat of the pants awesomeness, to a more methodical pace. Which is necessary. Mars missions allow for no error. But it doesn't give you the adrenaline rush that NASA in the 60s could do. We have breakthroughs, but landing probes on Mars and spotting new planets, while definitely enough to get a science geek excited, don't really enthrall like a guy in a space suit being there.

    So my discussion question is: how can space be made exciting again? I want kids these days to be able to have the same level of inspiration and excitement that I grew up with, and for the public to remain enthusiastic enough to keep cheering the engineers on, verbally and financially. So is there some way we can make space cool again? Can we turn it into something Americans will tune into, science geek or not, and rally around and be amazed by it?

    I would have gone with building a Death Star, but Obama wasn't on board.

    http://www.scpr.org/blogs/news/2013/...-star-request/
    A new life awaits you in the off world colonies; the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

  • #2
    If you want space 'cool' post a link of the last flight of the Space X bottom stage returning from 80 miles up in space and landing fins down about 10 meters from the big "X" target. I can watch that all day. Fascinating.
    “The time has come,” the Walrus said,
    “To talk of many things:
    Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
    Of cabbages—and kings—
    And why the sea is boiling hot—
    And whether pigs have wings.”
    ― Lewis Carroll

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    • #3
      Not with NASA in the picture and an incredible national debt.
      Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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      • #4
        Privatizing space travel will make it cool. The thought that anyone could travel into space will get people excited, or anyone lucky enough anyway. Outside of that, they're going to have to discover life outside of earth for anyone to really become enamored with space again.

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        • #5
          If you accept less than a 99.9% safety factor for everything involved in getting into space, it would get a lot more cool very quickly. Right now, the cost of ensuring things go perfectly right with virtually every launch, every new operation, or whatever is driving the cost of getting into space through the rafters.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
            If you accept less than a 99.9% safety factor for everything involved in getting into space, it would get a lot more cool very quickly. Right now, the cost of ensuring things go perfectly right with virtually every launch, every new operation, or whatever is driving the cost of getting into space through the rafters.
            That's true. Imagine if Pilgrims wouldn't accept anything less than a 99% chance of surviving the voyage across the ocean and a severe winter, then they might as well never leave their homes in England or Netherlands. Likewise, imagine the pioneers refusing to leave the safety of Eastern USA to travel on a perilous journey to Oregon unless it was 99% safe, I think we can safely assume that there'd be no Western USA to speak of today.

            If we waited for everything to have a 99% safety rating, there'd be no chance for advancements in technology. Our society would become stagnant and very little gets done out of irrational fear for safety.

            Nothing is truly safe ever.
            Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

            "Aim small, miss small."

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Cheetah772 View Post
              That's true. Imagine if Pilgrims wouldn't accept anything less than a 99% chance of surviving the voyage across the ocean and a severe winter, then they might as well never leave their homes in England or Netherlands. Likewise, imagine the pioneers refusing to leave the safety of Eastern USA to travel on a perilous journey to Oregon unless it was 99% safe, I think we can safely assume that there'd be no Western USA to speak of today.

              If we waited for everything to have a 99% safety rating, there'd be no chance for advancements in technology. Our society would become stagnant and very little gets done out of irrational fear for safety.

              Nothing is truly safe ever.
              Thanks to government agencies like OSHA and lawyers, now things are truly safe because they are never attempted at all due to the regulations and threat of lawsuits.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                Not with NASA in the picture and an incredible national debt.
                I agree!
                Especially since NASA seems to be more interested in climate change studies than space travel lately, there is no need to be throwing money at them when it is needed elsewhere, just my opinion here.
                Last edited by Trung Si; 07 Mar 17, 20:33.
                Trying hard to be the Man, that my Dog believes I am!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Combat Engineer View Post
                  If you want space 'cool' post a link of the last flight of the Space X bottom stage returning from 80 miles up in space and landing fins down about 10 meters from the big "X" target. I can watch that all day. Fascinating.
                  Meh it would of been more impressive if SpaceX had bothered to turn off their stealth field surrounding the launch and landing pads...


                  It was a very cloudy day so it went into the clouds rather quickly from where I'm at and vanished from sight. Rather disappointing as I know the guy who runs the the SpaceX landing ship over here, and he was saying that it's rather cool seeing it land in the day...

                  Originally posted by Trung Si View Post
                  I agree!
                  Especially since NASA seems to be more interested in climate change studies than space travel lately, there is no need to be throwing money at them when it is needed elsewhere, just my opinion here.
                  I think that's in part to who's in control of the NASA chiefs, with the new administration NASA IIRC seems to be shying away from climate change a bit...

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                  • #10
                    Aliens.

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                    • #11
                      Credo quia absurdum.


                      Quantum mechanics describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And yet it fully agrees with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as She is - absurd! - Richard Feynman

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                      • #12
                        Good points raised, but I think the above posters are over-thinking the situation.

                        First, as noted, it was always been around. It is hard to be cool when old guys are the only ones who walked on the moon.

                        The other thing is that it pales by comparison. Let's face it: Hollywood shows us things like The Expanse, Star Wars, and like movies. Yet the reality of space today is that a tiny handful of extremely educated people plus the odd 'regular person' will lofted up in a primitive rocket to an uninteresting space station.

                        In the 60s we had a team attitude going on: the USA versus the USSR. That is gone. It doesn't take a child prodigy for a high school kid to realize that a lifetime of study and work would still not get them into outer space.

                        If it is completely unattainable,. and not very interestingly presented, then it is not cool.

                        Look at the early days of flight: young men risked life and limb to fly. It was high-risk, but attainable.

                        Now, NASA is dying on the vine. Unmanned probes are the only programs left. A few dozen academics will visit the ISS until it fails.

                        You want to make space cool, you need to market it, and you need to make it accessible to more people.
                        Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Nebfer View Post
                          Meh it would of been more impressive if SpaceX had bothered to turn off their stealth field surrounding the launch and landing pads...


                          It was a very cloudy day so it went into the clouds rather quickly from where I'm at and vanished from sight. Rather disappointing as I know the guy who runs the the SpaceX landing ship over here, and he was saying that it's rather cool seeing it land in the day...


                          I think that's in part to who's in control of the NASA chiefs, with the new administration NASA IIRC seems to be shying away from climate change a bit...

                          I’ve heard that SpaceX is planning to instigate tourist flights around the moon in 2018. just fly yes but think of circling the surface at 2,000 mph 500 feet above the surface.
                          Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedy. -- Ernest Benn

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                          • #14
                            I think Turnaround time might have something to do with it, it just takes so damn long to get a mission off the ground. In the 60's there was a spray and pray attitude* that resulted in lots of failures but plenty of success as well. The Psyche mission sounds magnificent but 7 years development time? I understand a 5 year flight time to catch their target but 7 years just to build a non lander?

                            What really bugs me is why NASA can't seem to re-use proven designs. Instead of spending time and $$, (especially time) developing bigger and better Mars Rovers that only fly once a decade, why can't we build a fleet of solar powered Mars Exploration rovers like Spirit and Opportunity, and explore more often, in grander and more dangerous places.

                            Less Development $$ and more Flight $$.

                            *JPL was described in almost these exact way in an official report after one of the Ranger failures
                            One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions - Admiral Grace Hopper

                            "The eunuch should not take pride in his chastity."
                            Wu Cheng'en Monkey

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Arnold J Rimmer View Post
                              Good points raised, but I think the above posters are over-thinking the situation.

                              First, as noted, it was always been around. It is hard to be cool when old guys are the only ones who walked on the moon.

                              The other thing is that it pales by comparison. Let's face it: Hollywood shows us things like The Expanse, Star Wars, and like movies. Yet the reality of space today is that a tiny handful of extremely educated people plus the odd 'regular person' will lofted up in a primitive rocket to an uninteresting space station.

                              In the 60s we had a team attitude going on: the USA versus the USSR. That is gone. It doesn't take a child prodigy for a high school kid to realize that a lifetime of study and work would still not get them into outer space.

                              If it is completely unattainable,. and not very interestingly presented, then it is not cool.

                              Look at the early days of flight: young men risked life and limb to fly. It was high-risk, but attainable.

                              Now, NASA is dying on the vine. Unmanned probes are the only programs left. A few dozen academics will visit the ISS until it fails.

                              You want to make space cool, you need to market it, and you need to make it accessible to more people.
                              On the topic of Space Tourism, I am VERY, VERY VERY dubious about the characters at Worldview, who are developing (edge of) Space tourist Balloon flights. The do however have a few runs on the board, and have made a few scale Model test flights. The View would be amazing and unlike Virgin Galactic or Lynx there would be plenty of time to enjoy it. I'd go if I had the cash.

                              If (Huge if) they get up and running their effect on the space tourism market will be interesting.

                              They are producing a nice but dead end technology. At $75K per seat it will soak up a lot of the money that might have otherwise have gone into sustaining Rocket powered space tourist providers that will go father and higher, and actually take us somewhere.

                              If hundreds of folks are going on these space balloons, will that be good or bad for the rocket based providers?





                              Love the use of the fish-eye lens to make the pics look more impressive. No way the earth is that curved at 120K feet.





                              Last edited by Chukka; 08 Mar 17, 03:40.
                              One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions - Admiral Grace Hopper

                              "The eunuch should not take pride in his chastity."
                              Wu Cheng'en Monkey

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