The Big Picture: Once Upon a Time in The Future

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No competitor? The Japanese deployed an ion-sail and retrieved physical samples of an asteroid THIS PAST YEAR. The US doesn't even present competition.

The problem isn't merely the space program. We dropped out of all large science projects. The ITER in France (which I think may be jumping the gun, but -- fuck it -- let's push the envelope), the LHC (we were supposed to build this one or the next one here). Sure, we 'support' these projects -- maybe we let a million trickle over. NASA's budget is only about 26 million. That's chump change in the realm of government spending. The American people are, by and large, ignorant about science. It doesn't interest them and they don't know about it. Europe is a little better. Most of this I read in Unscientific America. The space news above I got from

Maybe I'm a little bitter.

the US dont see them as treath. there,s no nation that they fear, that they want to beat on everything at all cost. that's what i meant by competitor.


Rawle Lucas:

There's one very important reason to keep funding space research. If a couple of decades from now, we find a Near Earth Object in real danger of impacting with the Earth, wouldn't you rather have something in place to address it? Or would you rather put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye?

Near-earth objects...I'm surprised it took so long for anyone to mention them! See, there's an incentive right there.

Nothing to fear from that one. Trust me, I know how the story ends. Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton and Ben Affleck get blasted out into space, land on the object, and blow it to smithereens long before it can ever collide with Earth. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along, please.

It is true that deflection would not require anything like space colonies -- just really versatile rockets.

Don't stop looking up. I still dream too.

And, for the record, now black on white in 1's and 0's, I, too, would pick cities on Mars.

Thanks Bob!

Humanity as whole has this preposterous idea that the world's problems can be solved. Hunger, sickness, war, poverty these things have always existed and they will continue till the Apocalypse of mankind. Man is too different and diverse for any of these problems to actually disappear. What we need to do is just make sure that our own people are safe and continue to advance as civilization. In America, can anyone tell me a major scientific breakthrough that actually advanced our society forward? Yeah sure we got a black prez. Whoopee not caring but I guess that is the problem with America these days is that we are so ignorant of other things and have ended up creating a vacuuum u pour arses that our heads are so deep in the rest of the world continues to either hate or laugh at us for stupidity. When I was younger I read that we got man on the moon I was like wow i the span of about 20 years we went from sub-orbit to the moon. I was thinking well by that logic we should be able to have people living on the moon by the time I start drinking. Sadly we know this is not to be true. I is things like this that makes me lose my faith in this once great country and want to move out of country.
Im gonna go cry in a corner now I cant take this anymore.

I have to disagree with you there; in most of Europe, North America and Oceania those problems you mentioned have disappeared. I know its a long shot but there's no reason why the rest of the world can't catch up, even if it does take a couple of centuries.

Example: Can you guess this country: A nation where there's no social security, healthcare must be paid for always, vaccines and medicine are crude and rare, people are still starving to death, only rich men can vote, homosexuality is illegal...

Wasn't there word that a one-way trip to mars was being planned some time ago?

Also Space experience curacao (SXC) a space tourism/micro-nano satellite delivery/space training/space research company intends to start commercial space flights in the 3rd quarter of 2013. The company was founded by the former Commander of the Royal Netherlands Air Force and a test pilot. Air France-KLM already has plans to give away free tickets for absurdly frequent flyers.

Good video Bob, if im totally honest the first two "Big Pictures" didn't seem to stimulate anything thought provoking for me. But this episode was great.

I remember reading quite a few months back now what was going to be the next stage in the space program after the Shuttle's. But seeing the space program pretty much ended for the fore seeable future to go back to the moon / go to mars. As you said makes me really sad :( as well and sort of anouyed. Given the depressing (in my opinion others may not agree) world we live in, there are some things we as a species do that are awinspiring, space exploration was one of them.

*Sigh* :(

Big problems with the space program are:

A - Lack of motivation to keep it going and keep it robust. There are too many problems for the government to deal with on Earth. You think they'll be worried about planning for the future. These are the same jackasses who thought giving money to failing businesses and banks was a smart idea because it always sounds good to give money to people who obvious don't know how to manage well.

B - Lack of Media coverage is another big deal. If no one knows about it or hears about it, it isn't going to get the respect and attention it truly deserves. This is partially the media's fault and partially NASA's fault. Let's be honest... launching a space shuttle isn't nearly as exciting as the Super Bowl to most people. NASA could have spent more time improving the technology all these years to look flashier and get more attention, but I doubt that would ammount to much. As for the media... well... I blame them for a lot of problems. Let's just leave it at that.

C - Expense was probably the biggest factor of all. While the end goal would more than pay off all the expenses to get to Mars or the Moon, the problem is that what do these investors do in the mean time? People are impatient and want results faster than "within the next decade or so." Plus, look how long it took us to even bother with Mars. We sent rovers to check out rocks. Surely, after thirty years of having a space program (or is it 40?) we would have made some kind of technological advancement to get a PERSON on the planet to collect rocks. I would have settled for that, but we couldn't make it that far even.

I think that if private companies take over the space exploration game, they might function almost like PMCs. They'd be highly skilled and efficient because they don't have the buerocratic red tape to slow them down and they aren't going to be at risk of losing funding from the government because they're privately funded. Plus, if a company is trying to get into space, they'd logically get the best people on the job for creating the spacecrafts, piloting, etc. They want to get the job done as best as possible, they'd probably go all out if they could..

Though... that might be a tad optimistic on my part.

Fuck the space program and fuck the government. Space has nothing to offer aside from the novelty of going there.

Virgin is closer to civilian space travel than we ever could be if NASA was running ship. The private sector and the hope of profit is what driving the competition to get their quicker and more efficiently.

BTW Firefly isn't smart; it's incredibly lame

Really, I'd say it's important that we do pause space exploration and focus on the current issues still here on earth. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the idea of development in space, building more space stations and advancing space industry (space elevators, factories, hydroponics, solar collectors,) and going to the moon, venus, mars, the asteroids and beyond, and hopefully in the long run terraforming the latter 3. And I think there's a bunch of worth in it by just extending human society (which has the potential to be beautiful,) and nature (which is beautiful.)

But it'd be far better and even far easier if we did that with a properly functioning planetary society. Have green infrastructure all in place so we can build spaceships and such with better efficiency. Having the entire earth developed so we can work towards these things better, and having it developed in a way that humans can live comfortably in space, within a good society that's pleasing to live in to all.

Of course, there's not that much of an argument for what's going on because we're still doing very little to actually build a good society on Earth.

Don't worry, you are definitely not alone here. I'd take cities on Mars over pretty much anything else.

You know why the space program is getting cut? Because we're four fucking trillion dollars in debt, that's why. Sure, space travel is important, but it doesn't do us any good if we're owned by fucking China.

Honestly I respect your bare honesty about the whole cities on mars vs peace on earth. At least you're sticking up for yourself.

*sniff* *sniff*

Smells like pretentious to me.

Getting to space takes money, if we're broke we can't get to space. So fix the economy then get to Mars. Look at the big leaps in American advancements into space.
-1960: Right after a period of economic stability and general social dullness when everything was in black and white. At this point, we send our first pieces into space. Yes, it's a reaction to the Soviets, but it got us moving.
-1980's: After the shit-hole that was the '70's, we develop the space shuttle which gives us the opportunity to have more prolonged journeys into space. This was at the time when we got our economic footing and national confidence back. Look, not everyone likes Reagan, I get it. But he did a fair amount for the national space movement than most other presidents of our time.
-2000's: While our government was doing everything it could to get involved with every other country in the world, the private sector grew. This was when millionaires decided to go into space. I am glad Bob mentioned this, however it's also interesting how he takes a typically naive view of private business. I'm pretty sure if we send up people from Boeing and Lockheed Martin into space, we won't really need to worry about the first contact being the Vulcans meeting the Jersey Shore.

All in all, there were things that I agree with Bob on. But brushing aside private advancements into space travel and pointing the finger at the American public because we're a bit more concerned with 10% of our country being out of work than sending people to collect space rocks seems incredibly pretentious to me.

You said everything I could have ever wanted to say about the video, only better.

This is the first of these clips I've actually like. Make no mistake the others ones were alright, but as I am not American and I refute (though acknowledge) the claims on Halo this is the first really good one for me.

Ok on topic. Atta boy, Bob. First having the balls to say that is commendable. Second, I agree with you completely. Perhaps if we can go further into space we can inspire more people to undertake scientific fields.

Bob, I defended you through The Expendables and Combat Evolved? but we've gotta respectfully part ways here. I won't say anything grandiose like 'I'm never gonna watch your reviews again' or 'your bias!!!!'. Your argument about what you would pick if a genie with a magic lamp approached you reminded me of a rather thick acquaintance trying to convince me Transformers was a better movie than Citizen Kane because he wasn't bored by Michael Bay's masterpiece. That sounds like a caricature, but I swear it actually happened. I'll admit that space travel is cool, and that a society that truly has its shit in order should make it a priority, but we don't have our shit in order. If a country that does wants to make it to the stars, good for them.

I disagree with the pessimism expressed. Barring some very crazy twists/billions of dollars, I'll never be in space in my lifetime, and that's fine with me... . Most of it isn't all that incredible right now. But I think it will happen eventually. Honestly I've been seeing articles like this pop up all over the place recently, obviously having to do with the "reallocation of resources" that NASA and the space program is dealing with in general.


is a great article.

I think all the anger and frustration that we ("we" being people who have a place in our hearts for the space program, and consider it both important in a long-term, species-survival sense as well as an important part of the dream and romance of humanity), ahem...all the frustration we experience when we see these cuts and closings is actually not a bad thing. The space program, and the possibilities of space are more in peoples' minds now than they have been for decades. I mean, we've been shooting shuttles into space, people have been living and dying and building space stations in space for decades, and it never makes the news. Ever. People seem to be paying attention now. It will come back. And I think this is just a momentary calm before it comes back much more forcefully than before.

I'm not worried about the future of space travel. I do worry about the future of the health and biodiversity of the planet we're on now. As Marshall T. Savage ( would say, it would really behoove us to figure out how to not destroy the planet we've got before we go out and try to inhabit others.


my existence feels a lot more insignificant now. This is why the real world sucks.

An added note. When the space program began, we didn't fully understand how empty, difficult and dangerous space was. It was only after we had gotten up there that we figured out things like radiation poisoning, micrometeorites, bone and muscle loss, etc. We also were really hoping that there were alien plants and animals everywhere; it turned out that it's really mostly poisonous gas and gray rocks (not to mention empty space), and it's hard to be as enthusiastic about gray rocks as it is to be about...VENUSIAN DINOSAURS!!!

This is coming from someone who loves rocketry and the history of the space race, but honestly I'd rather the space program be taken down now. It's just not feasible! People are losing their houses, medication prices are through the roof, and the job market is terrible! You want to spend tax payer money on space travel rather than new jobs so people can feed their families? I hate to see NASA go too but it would be irresponsible to keep spending money on something that we don't need right now. In fact I disagree when you say it reflects on Americans negatively to dismantle the space program. To sacrifice our greatest national achievement so that others may live is not only noble, but speaks strongly of our national character. North Korea or any other 3rd world nation wouldn't show that kind of compassion for its people, so why criticize our government for simply doing what it thinks is best for us?

I hope we get the space program up and running within our lifetime but right now I'm more concerned about my financial future.

And this is what happens as a country goes broke. How sad it is.
I would love to fly a space ship. But i'll have to be content with the fact that I probably never will. Hell I'd be happy if they let me fly airplanes :).

Lets see what china does. Or hopefully the esa will pick it up along the way. Maybe push the french a little bit and let them have a go at a french colony at the moon or mars. Chauvinistic as they are it could work. Right ?

The reason we should develop our space program is because we have so many problems on earth. What we learn in space can be applied on earth.



NASA canceled what!? Why was no one told? Why isn't this the major news story?!
Why would we limit the evolution of our race in the name of earthly problems?!

If these problems are so powerful as to effect our evolution, than why aren't we getting off our a*ses and fixing them?!

And now in my eyes Bob is a bigger, more selfish ass than before.
Your pissed that they are cutting the funding for a Space Program that has been in decline for a while now and has directly cost the lives of several of of your fellow human beings, so they can use the money where it will be needed in the future.
I wonder if you will have the same viewpoint if the economy of the US goes right in the shitter, causing various companies, say for example The Escapist, to fire their employees and then suddenly your out of a job because Obama put more money into sending someone into space than into fixing the economy. I doubt it.
Keeping a failing space program running is not the responsible thing to do in a global recession.

The most annoying thing about this is that your being stupidly short sighted. Your a child in his high chair looking at the candy and saying "I WANT IT NOW!" when your parents are struggling to put the potatoes on the table to keep you healthy because they can't afford it. They didn't say, "No thats it forever, no more space travel."
They simply said "We don't want to burn the cash right now, others can pick it up later if the time is right."
Getting through the boring potatoes will make the sweet candy all the tastier and it's why grown ups order the main course of the meal first. Hopefully some day you'll be able to sit at the grown up table, but with each hate speech you post I realise we wil be waiting a while longer for you to pull up a chair, which is a shame, because when you open your mind to a serious discussion, your a great champion of logic and reason.

So how about growing up Bob?
Grow up and get over your childhood, like other healthy adults, no one has a perfect childhood but we get over it as we grow up, its part of being an adult. Granted, some have have more to get over than others, but the ones that do get over it have a better life because of it.
Grow up and get over your idea of walking on Mars because you saw it in a movie as a kid and it was your only escape from your childhood.

Even if your going to claim that your childhood was darker and more traumatic than anyone can possibly imagine, do you really think you should be in the public eye giving out your opinion which has obviously been warped by your childhood?

Your fellow humans are dying of disease and famine all across the planet you share with them. Surely a narcissist like you would want to be the better man, rise above those that made your childhood your personal hell and make the planet a better place. But no, you just have your selfish dream and you are less of a person because of it. And you think you can just blow it off because people were a dick to you as a kid and now you think its your turn to get even?

Part of me hopes this video is a joke.

Well, he DID just admit that if you think he's the bad guy because of what he said then fine, he's the bad guy, and at least he gave his reasons for saying what he did. Selfish, yeah, but really, deep down, we're all a little selfish. I'm willing to bet that more than half the people here on this forum will completely ignore world peace in favor of accomplishing their own dreams and goals first.

Sure, and every WHITE president has had a bunch of mouth-breathers asking whether he was born in Sweden, Scotland, or Croatia.

When did the discussion bring in white Presidents? Why have you automatically begun to think about Presidents who are not dark skinned as your response? That does sort of label you racist in a way.

Anyone asking for his birth certificate is stupid, since anyone going for President is obviously checked out, so Obama is fine, same with anyone else taking the office. People can become blind with ignorance it appears, both the people asking for the certificate and those who want to shout "Why? Because he's BLACK?! HUH?!" too. People should just take a step back and ACCEPT it, he's President now, if you don't like him, don't let him get re-elected, or vice-versa if you like him. Simple.

As for the thread, disappointing that the space program is done for, but I'm still applying for an officer position in the United States Air Force, and if lucky, possibly going into a space career. Military space programs are always fun, like StarGate SG1 ;-)

I knew the programme was being stopped but I woud have thought they would have waited for the ISS to be completed first.

You are not alone... if not more well informed then I. sad thing is that America ... shows all the signs of a dieing nation ... its only a mater of time before we destroy our self's (if we have not yet done that) and some other nation takes on the crown of "representatives of humanity" some one like china I would assume will take it from us.

Dear TheEscapist Magazine,

You guys usually do a pretty good job of bringing me all manor of nerdy, sciency, or just plain interesting news. The mass media didn't cover the cancellation of the Space Shuttle Program because they are idiots. You, TheEscapist, are neither mass media nor idiots. SO WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME ABOUT THIS UNTIL NOW?!


Yeah, I'm not sure what's worse; the fact that we, as a country, are no longer going into space, or that this fact has so completely fallen through the cracks.

I haven't agreed with you on some other things in the past Bob, but I agree 100% with what you said here. I'd rather choose space travel too given the choice.

We shot a giant eyeball into space, it saw there was nothing useful in pratical distance, so we're putting it off until the limits of what makes practical distance practical changes.


Anyone else want it to happen?

wow, yeah i dont care about space travel, im sure that there is tons of important information up there that can help us understand how the universe came to be, if there was life on nearby planets (nearby being relative) and how/why they died out or even better, survived (my grasp of all of it is loose if im being generous, but hey im still struggling with 2nd year college math) and all of that i want to support.

but getting a man up there?, starting colonies? that is pretty low on my ideal to do list of humanity, above a way to bring back disco but below a sled that works uphill and during summer.

Taking Cities on Mars over World Peace wouldn't make you evil, but unreasonable and unlogical.
With World Peace we would have so much more time, money and volunteers to focus on such projects as exploration of space.

You are not alone... if not more well informed then I. sad thing is that America shows all the signs of a dieing nation, its only a mater of time before we destroy our self's (if we have not yet done that) and some other nation takes on the crown of "representatives of humanity" some one like china I would assume will take it from us.

yeah, i hope not, cause the whole "leaders of the freeworld" and the other titles some representatives award America when giving speeches may be why the US got some PR issues, it kinda rubs the rest of the democratic countries the wrong way.

but, i doubt that America will die out, with the most patriotic citizens in the world (i think its because the flag looks so nice, i mean i love Denmark but our flag is pretty boring, even if it is a gift from god) and more nukes than any other country, America will go out with a bang, not a whimper (screw T. S. Eliot ^^).

You are FAR from the only one. I am absolutely obsessed with space, and the entire idea of interplanetary colonization fills me with wonder, hope, and AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW YEAH!!!!!!!!!

Fuck the poor. No, I don't mean that. But let's face it, since when did the poor get in the way with making cool shit? Since when do people actually do something about the problems Earth is facing instead of just complaining about them? The answer: very little for both.

So why not expand? We're doing it with technology already; why not do it to technology that matters. Like it or not, space exploration will be MANDATORY for future survival. Hell, what about those mineral rich asteroids circling around the sun? I think we could solve a few problems with diminishing resources if we started sticking buildings on the bigger ones.

The entire concept of building a structure on the moon or Mars gets me giddy. When they announced Constellation was to be disbanded, I was devastated. If I ever become the US president (I won't), I'm taking money out of education and all that boring shit and putting it into space travel. I'm also going to act really liberal until the Republicans start getting pissed. Then I'm going to act really conservative. Don't ever elect me president.

Screw China and India. America got to the moon first, and we should get to Mars first. We own the moon already (there's a flag on it; I think that constitutes ownership), so we should probably start building stuff on it before someone else does.

Wow and here I thought Bob as the only misanthrope on here. Reading your comments alone dropped my support of space funding even more.

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