Why don't we launch our garbage into space?

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I estimate that there are 2 kilograms of garbage in the bag underneath my sink in my kitchen. It would cost $40,000 US dollars to launch that into space.

Cause we're not futurama.

Because general refuse isn't that great a problem and might never become a major problem. No matter how wasteful we become, in reality we don't produce enough garbage to matter. Most of it decomposes too, meaning it goes away just as fast as we produce it. Landfills are not having the impact people seem to think they are, thanks to sensationalised environmental movements.

Toxic or radioactive waste, a real problem, would be dangerous to put into space with our current technology. Not only do we not have the means to move that much refuse into space, let alone cheap enough to not bankrupt a country, but doing so would be dangerous. Given that any malfunction in the rocket means it will rain all that waste back down onto earth in a wide dispursion pattern.

It is far better to safely store such waste in a place where it won't become a problem for the few centuries needed to neutralise it, such as the bottom of a mine shaft in the desert. Sadly those same environmental groups cry to the heavens if you put forth anything other then undoing the industrial revolution completely. Not going to happen so why not find a good, possible, solution and use it?

Because putting trash in a landfill is more profitable. Only when landfills becomes scarce and/or space travel becomes cheap enough will this have any possibility of happening.

Which is to say, no less than 100 years from now.

I think it's because we do not have any efficient way to do so. Or at least, no cost-effective way. Each shuttle or anything we send up is hundreds of millions of dollars, and we can't afford that all the time.

Julianking93:
Someone's been watching too much Futurama.

GRR, i got ninja'd even before i clicked on the thread!!

EDIT: O.O Woah, did not look at the post count... if 100 people replied, there was without a doubt that futurama reference, sorry!

I'd like to stay on E.T.'s good side...

To say what has most likely been said before, shooting stuff into space costs a lot of money. Like millions of $ for one families monthly trash. Also if the rocket with the trash goes of course it would end badly .

Do you know how much money it takes to get a ship into space? Nobody wants to put the money in to shot a huge amount of garbage into space.

it would take up a ridiculous amount of earth's resources for that to happen, many hundreds of times more than what it would cost to just bury your junk. Also, launching it into space would be much more polluting to the environment.

HSIAMetalKing:

(unrelated note to the OP: I think I recognize your name from a certain Star Wars themed message board I used to frequent. Hi!)

The Gungan Council, right? Yep I'm the same guy, I use this name everywhere :D With your name being MetalKing, there's alot of people you could be from there. I don't really frequent the place that much anymore, what was your name there?

OT: Ok so I can see how shooting into space using rockets would be bad, but couldn't we make a really powerful slingshot or a railgun or something? Also perhaps we could send it somewhere, like to the moon or another planet, so that later on if we do find out how to mine something from the stuff that we can't do anything with, we could send a probe or something to go and retrieve what we need.

1) Trash isn't as much a problem as people claim. Most is bio-degradable now days, metal (which oxidizes into forms identical to or resembling minerals), or glass. With the exception of a few key things (lead-acid batteries) trash today is of no environmental concern, and those few things that are a concern are recycled.

2):

lockefox:
Hate to introduce real points to an argument like this on a forum, but here we go:

1) cost: it currently costs $20,000 USD per Kg to launch a payload into space. Go check your trash bag. Probably 1kg-2kg alone.
http://www.futron.com/pdf/resource_center/white_papers/FutronLaunchCostWP.pdf

2) Retrieval. Despite making an enormous mess when burying, it leaves the possibility of retrieving resources from it in the future. Once you launch something off the planet, that matter cannot be used again.

He has it correct. It is FUCKING EXPENSIVE to launch anything into space, and you pay by the pound. Oh, and the reason it's so expensive? you have to burn a shitload of fuel to get it into orbit (or beyond), and most of that burnt fuel stays on earth. So to launch one kg of trash into space, you would pollute earth with about 100 kg worth of fuel exhaust.

Vohn_exel:
OT: Ok so I can see how shooting into space using rockets would be bad, but couldn't we make a really powerful slingshot or a railgun or something? Also perhaps we could send it somewhere, like to the moon or another planet, so that later on if we do find out how to mine something from the stuff that we can't do anything with, we could send a probe or something to go and retrieve what we need.

The energy expenditure is the same, regardless of the method used. A rail gun that launched payload into space would pollute earth just as much as a rocket; perhaps even more since it involves additional layers of inefficiency; the rocket uses direct propelling power while the rail gun would require burning of fossil fuels at a power plant to produce electricity, which then must be wired to the rail gun.

Too costly and only sidesteps the issue. The pollution will go somewhere until we actually get rid of it by way of efficient recycling and cleaner production.

And the lifeforms out there won't be happy if our trash enters their orbit.

1. Its too expensive, as said before.

2. Contrary to popular belief Universe wasn't made exclusively for humans, there are other life forms, other planets that could be fucked up for a long time if our junk happens to hit them.

3. Also, nothing can guarantee you that the garbage won't be pulled back and eventually return and hit Earth, causing even more problems.

1. It would cost millions just to put one garbage can worth of garbage in orbit
2. Sending garbage into space would be getting rid of future resources. Just let Mother Nature recycle the garbage back into natural resources.

Vohn_exel:

OT: Ok so I can see how shooting into space using rockets would be bad, but couldn't we make a really powerful slingshot or a railgun or something? Also perhaps we could send it somewhere, like to the moon or another planet, so that later on if we do find out how to mine something from the stuff that we can't do anything with, we could send a probe or something to go and retrieve what we need.

What the hell have you been smoking?

Wiezzen:

Vohn_exel:

OT: Ok so I can see how shooting into space using rockets would be bad, but couldn't we make a really powerful slingshot or a railgun or something? Also perhaps we could send it somewhere, like to the moon or another planet, so that later on if we do find out how to mine something from the stuff that we can't do anything with, we could send a probe or something to go and retrieve what we need.

What the hell have you been smoking?

I don't smoke. You think we couldn't create a giant rail gun? The only thing missing are the funds. Someone would come up with a way, if they really wanted to, or were getting paid enough.

starfox444:
You haven't heard the speech from the Officer outside C-Sec in Mass Effect 2 have you?

I was just thinking that. One day it's going to hit one of our outer space colonies.

Also wouldn't launching a few billion metric tonnes of garbage be a hassle?

Vohn_exel:

Wiezzen:

Vohn_exel:

OT: Ok so I can see how shooting into space using rockets would be bad, but couldn't we make a really powerful slingshot or a railgun or something? Also perhaps we could send it somewhere, like to the moon or another planet, so that later on if we do find out how to mine something from the stuff that we can't do anything with, we could send a probe or something to go and retrieve what we need.

What the hell have you been smoking?

I don't smoke. You think we couldn't create a giant rail gun? The only thing missing are the funds. Someone would come up with a way, if they really wanted to, or were getting paid enough.

If we had the technology to make a proper rail gun, we'd use it on each other first.

Remember the military always calls dibs on new technology.

DoW Lowen:

Vohn_exel:

Wiezzen:

Vohn_exel:

OT: Ok so I can see how shooting into space using rockets would be bad, but couldn't we make a really powerful slingshot or a railgun or something? Also perhaps we could send it somewhere, like to the moon or another planet, so that later on if we do find out how to mine something from the stuff that we can't do anything with, we could send a probe or something to go and retrieve what we need.

What the hell have you been smoking?

I don't smoke. You think we couldn't create a giant rail gun? The only thing missing are the funds. Someone would come up with a way, if they really wanted to, or were getting paid enough.

If we had the technology to make a proper rail gun, we'd use it on each other first.

Remember the military always calls dibs on new technology.

We do have that technology http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2007/01/us_navy_invents/

However, as I stated above, a rail gun is no more efficient for getting things into orbit than a rocket. Turns out, both require a very large amount of energy, and the rail gun usually gets it from burning fossil fuels (from a power plant), which produces about the same amount of pollution as a rocket does. This would be slightly different if nuclear plants were more common in this country (or the rest of the 'civilized' world), but since that won't change until Fusion is practical, no sense considering it.

Because it's too expensive...at the moment.
But that is NOT because its impossible, our failure has way more to do with bureaucratic space agencies and a Congress full of dumb-asses than the difficulty in making it happen.

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/X-Press/aerovations/future_concepts.html

Your idea is actually exactly where optimistic & smart people think we should end up, although our way of living now generates far too much waste to launch. Good, hard working, capitalist entrepreneurs are working on solutions now; with guiding assistance from the government stooges (sorry, I couldn't help my political exposition).

Once we're recycling 80%-90% of our crap, the unrecoverable leftovers will be very launch-able.
Including waste from nuclear power plants (which are a major factor American entrepreneurs are considering when investing in these ideas).

EDIT: I wrote on almost this exact topic in an Aerospace Engineering Concepts course, before I left the program for business.

Actually off topic here, it'd be really good if we could find a way to harness nuclear waste for energy...but what would that produce? Nuclear waste waste?

But anyway, I see now why we couldn't just launch it out into space. I didn't actually know that we were actually getting anything from all the non biodegradable stuff. Still, if we could find a cheap way to launch it, I'm sure we could eventually find a way to store it on the moon until we find a way to use or breakdown the stuff we can't recycle. But there seriously has to be something better we can do with stuff then let it all float into the ocean. I'm all for recycling and stuff but just saying "you people are bad for not throwing stuff away properly" isn't gonna help any. Educating people about this stuff shouldn't be the same as incriminating them.

Vohn_exel:
Everyone's wanting a greener earth, right? We're all concerned about landfills and I was recently reading about the great plastic ocean. I've always wondered why we don't just take our garbage and blast it into space?

I know that some of it is biodegradable, but alot of it isn't. So why don't we just take the stuff that isn't and launch it somewhere far away. Pioneer has been travelling since like the sixties, right? And it only "recently" left our solar system. So, chunking a huge bunch of garbage out there wouldn't be bad for the space environment. As for the cost, it could create jobs as well as probably be done with joint ventures of sending up satelites or something.

(ITT: Bad spelling)

what goes up, must come down.

plus that would be expensive, and landfills aren't the ecological disasters most would have you believe.

It would start orbiting the Earth until we have rings of trash circling the Earth.

Because of the ridiculously amount of energy required for a small, ineffective amount of garbage to be launched into space is astronomical.

Guys...I meant farther out into space then galactic stone throwing distance. Hence why I mentioned Pioneer.

But anyway, as in my post above, I see now why it'd be a bad idea. Because, obviously, the trash would eventually get sucked into a black hole and then come return like a couple hundred years later, sentient, and possibly responsible for an alien race that wasn't thought up yet. And we all know that the guy from Rescue 911 is too old to save us all now.

um.../nerd reference.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plasma_arc_waste_disposal

They got a better idea... burn it and make fuel and stuff.

Sending it to space doesn't give you anything back while this method helps us out. Especially with that plastic junk.

Shane Wegner:
The cost of lifting something into orbit with current chemical rockets is ~$10,000 a pound. That means it costs $1.5 million bucks just to launch a 150 pound human into orbit. It takes pennies per pound to put it in a hole on the surface.

If you have a bag of trash that weighs 20 pounds, it costs $200,000 to lift it to orbit. That's JUST to orbit, not breaking earth's orbit for the sun or whatever. So if you want to drop 200 grand to take out your 20 pound bag of old pizza and paper, which will biodegrade within a few decades, go nuts. It's POSSIBLE that really really bad garbage like radioactives could justify the price, but then there's the risk that rocket launches aren't 100%. No one wants 200 pounds of intensely radioctive waste coming down in their country, or worse, exploding in midair and generally irradiating everyone.

EVEN IF we had a space elevator that could pinprick the gravity well a little, it would still costs probably hundreds of dollars a pound to lift.

So that's why. Physics and money.

The cost has a base starting point. It doesn't cost an extra $10000 to get 101lb. vs 100lb, it costs millions just getting ANYTHING into space. Sticking an extra pound on board won't increase the space shuttle mission cost by $10000.
It's like an 18 wheeler. You can pay $1000 for it to carry 1 ping pong ball and say it costs 1000 per .5 ounce, or make it carry 10000 ping pong balls for the same price. Then its $.10 per .5 ounce. If I wanted NASA to send up an orange by itself they'd laugh me out the building. If I wanted to send 10,000 we might be on to something, then they'd be getting $100000000. It costs more than $10000 to send an orange up by itself. Because if the shuttle is unloaded it doesn't get to space for $0, right?
Also, just like any niche market, once it opens up it will get cheaper. Cars were expensive until Ford made the production line, Computers were expensive until they became widespread, now they're in your birthday cards. Space travel will go down in costs once the market demand goes up.

OT: it's better for everyone to recycle like japan than chucking everything into the solar system.

This is freakin' hilarious! I read this book that a friend gave me and it talked about this very thing. It was pretty funny, kinda like a Futurama spoof. I have to see if I can find it...but I think its called Planet Sitiety.

i actually think throwing things into the sun is a good idea

now youve got me thinking

Maybe we could build rockets out of garbage and use garbage as fuel, that'd solve all our problems!

I always wondered why we don't launch all of the garbage into the sun. Or everything for that matter. Garbage, nuclear waste, scrap, prisoners, etc. could all be easily gotten rid of and we'd never have to worry about it coming back.

It *is* stupid.
We should have learned from our mistakes in Wall-E dammit!

That book I was telling you about was actually Planet Satiety (not sitity)..never was a good speller. I guess its written from one of the guys from Wendy's Where's the Beef? guys...and had an ABC movie too.

It's a good book...funny characters. This is what happens if you fling all our waste into space...Rings of Glutton.

We would likely upset the aliens that live there. Thats all realy.

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