The Big Picture: Once Upon a Time in The Future

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I don't understand how asking for proof of where Obama was born is racist. You have to be born in the US to be president, no matter what color your skin is.

You could argue that isn't been asked and answered, or is no longer in question. That's fine. Argue that the burden of proof has been met. No problem. But racist for asking? That's just plain lazy. "I don't like that you ask those questions, so I'm going to just call you a racist, and hope that you go away."

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

Oh, wait, that didn't happen.

But the first time a black man takes office, it JUST SO HAPPENS... Sure, buddy. Lemme guess, you start every other sentence with "I'm not a racist, but..."

Give this man a medal.

your 100% right

Sorry no one has missed the last shuttle launch yet. the last one is on Feb 27ish 2011 depending on launch conditions

I share your lament Bob. It does feel like America's drive for acheivement has been limited to how much more we can fit on an ipod or through the internet. If there's no profit in it, it doesn't get done anymore. Check that. If there's no immediate profit in it it doesn't get done anymore. I think we've acknowledged that the benfits of space exploration aren't happening in our lifetimes, and as such, there aren't large numbers of people willing to give up large sums of cash for their grandkids' potential benefits. It sounds dumb, but then this is a culture that won't buy a hybrid car because the gas savings don't match the cost of the car for years. Screw conservation and go for the cheapest option in the now and worry about $5 gas later.

I'm not sure when the dreamers in America died. I'll agree with others, the colapse of the soviet union led to a period of no competetion to keep Amertic on its toes to the point where we got so lazy we don't care if China beats us to whatever's out there. In addition, things such as the demise of big innovator companies like Enron, and the destruction of several established business models by the internet has scared off all but the most entrepenurial spirits, as has a surgence in Ayn Randiism convincing people to put energies into villifying their "opressors" (I say with a certain level of sacrasm), instead of trying to succeed in spite of said "opressors". Complaints of elitism, and backlaash against scientists for global warming and evolution theories hasn't helped either.

And again, I can't rule out impaitence. There were centuries between Columbus, the Pilgirms, confederation and even the 50 states we have today. We can't expect mars colonies overnight, especially if we don't work toward it.

MovieBob, you silly, silly man. If we had peace on earth, we could spend the world's military budget on space and be on mars within the century!

Interestingly, it's probably for the same reason we haven't made it beyond the moon that we don't have peace on earth. The greed of the rich, and the hatred of the poor. Until we realize that what we've managed to accomplish so far as a species is crap compared to what we could have accomplished had we not spent the entirety of our history wailing on each other, nothing's going to change, or if it does, it will change very slowly. And I think, barring outside intervention, we're never going to realize that.

Love humans. Hate humanity.

Bob, I agree with you 100%. As my friend and I always say, anything that makes the world more like Star Trek is a good thing. However, I have to disagree with your complete lack of optimism. As you yourself pointed out, the corporations will pick up the slack. I also suggest that humans will get to colonize the Moon and Mars, but it will be the Indians and Chinese who get there first. What you are mourning isn't the death of the future, but the death of an American future.

Bob can I say thank you for saying on a public stage what I have been saying for years. More and more I feel that the idiots out there are slowly guiding us into a new dark age in the U.S. All because they can't understand how things like space exploration, sustainable energy and genetic engineering will happen and if we as a people don't explore these fields in the public eye they will be done behind closed doors by people who may not have humanities's best interests at heart.

I am also dumbfounded at the short sighted people who call them selves our leader.
If it is an economical issue then they need only look at what going to the moon brought use. Starting with Laptop I am writing this on.
the Moon landings lead the way to American domince at the beging of the information age. It directly lead to most and helped with all of the modern tech that America has. And then there are the numerus industries that would benifit from space. An example is perfectly spherical ball bearing that alone would make a huge impact in reducing environmental harm from waist and would allow for a major revolution in almost every physical industry.
Its just ARRRRrr so mad I just wanted to let Bob know That he is not alone in his feelings about the Space Program.

I feel for you Bob, I really do. Though I've found a greater connection with humanity's past, I still dream about our future. I live in Florida, NASA was one of the few things we had going for us. It's hard to imagine that I won't be able to walk outside and watch the shuttle launch anymore. I was saddened by the end of the shuttle program, but I prayed that we had a suitable replacement at the ready. Upon learning that we didn't, I found my resolve only hardened. America may have abandoned exploration of the final frontier, but humanity will not. Since man first gazed at the stars, we have dreamed of not only visiting it, but of conquering it. And I am steadfast in my belief that we will. It may not be as I have dreamed, but it will be so. Man is the explorer, the inventor, and above all else, the conqueror. Eventually man will rise again and proclaim to the heavens,"Space, you will be my bitch!"

Although I can't say that I particularly care much about the space program, I do indeed share your outrage at the apathy and stupidity of the human race as it stands right now. Hopefully the ignorance will hit a plateau soon and peter out. Or it could just keep getting worse.

...I wish space still mattered to people...

(clutches collected works of Arthur C. Clarke to chest)

Humanity takes a step back ... come on Humans whered your BALLS go??? (please let the mods understand why I had to say "balls")

America... takes a step to the side.

Note to self: If aliens crash land near me any time in the future, and wish to remain inconspicuous, just agree to on the condition they let me travel the universe with them once their fleet picks them up...

On the topic of the space program being canceled though: Someone bring me a phaser, preferably not set on stun.


I'm gonna give you a 1/3 Mr. Chipps.

This one was actually pretty good.

Ah gods, my skin crawls at the thought of corporate space exploration, but that is more than likely how things will end up, how can the mega-corps not resist all that prime real-estate and un-tapped resources out there in the big black beyond?

Although i think we are getting ahead of ourselves here, hoverboards first THEN we can go to other planets.

I find it interesting to read this sentence out loud:

In a few months, America will not have the capability to put a person in orbit.

Really sad when you think of it. The country that put a man on the moon can't even get someone into low earth orbit more than 40 years later.

It's not all doom and gloom though. It's got to count for something that since October 21 of the year 2000 there hasn't been a single moment where space was unoccupied. The international Space Station (the biggest space station ever made) has been in orbit and continually staffed for that entire time.

In unmanned space exploration there have been all sorts of major milestones reached, like the Mars rovers. We've been treated to increasingly high-resolution close-ups of places in our solar system. And we've discovered hundreds of extrasolar planets, getting closer and closer to locating an Earthlike planet in another solar system.

Private industry is starting to get in on the space flight game in a big way. Some companies are starting to offer sub-orbital spaceflight (yeah, not real space flight but it's a step) and there's SpaceX which has actually launched rockets into orbit and is developing the Falcon 9 to eventually send astronauts to the space station.

Some companies have put real investment and development into orbital hotels, though those will likely be a few years off and Bigelow Aerospace seems to be the only one with the actual skills and money to do it successfully.

China is serious about having their own space station in the near future. In the next 5-10 years there may be three or four continually occupied space stations simultaneously in orbit (the ISS, the Chinese Space station, and one or two tiny orbital hotels) with daily suborbital flights taking off from a couple dozen different companies with ships similar in design to Burt Rutan's SpaceShipTwo. Space has been continuously occupied by humans since the end of the year 2000 and it's very possible that space will NEVER be empty of a human presence again.

The future is coming, and I think we're on the verge of it. The end of the space shuttle program is just the final hump we need to get over before becoming a truly space-faring species.

How about the fact that obama increased the NASA budget has a plan set that is in the early stages to get humans to mars by 2030ish. Or the fact that the private companies are able to fly cheaper to outer space and we need every opportunity to get them interested in space. They won't go unless they see a profit and right now we're making it so they have a profit and later on with new discoveries there will be more money to be made and more companies will get into it.

I think your drastically underplaying obama's role in NASA's refocus on mars instead of the moon. I get the fact that everybody is talking about colonization but right now its to expensive to have astronauts live in shifts on the moon along with the inherent dangers. America was the first to the moon and i would like to see us first to mars and right now this plan has a full focus on the moon and gets us there quicker the constellation would.

I have to agree completely with you. But what I really want to know is why no one has tried nuclear propulsion! Why not revisit Project Orion? Or something similar? We have been sitting on something that is speculated to move at a tenth of light speed..

Oh well, maybe now that we can contain Anti-matter, and create miniature big bangs and are going to start trying to make miniature stars we will be able to create a new form of space travel.

(Hih hih hih) U.S.S. Mountain Dew with a reality show crew. I was giggling at this funny bit until realisation that this is a completely believable and horribly likely scenario sat like a wet and furry Barbapapa on my good mood.
"Sad" does not quite describe well enough.

Thanks for at least cheering me up by reminding all of us a little bit of Dr. Carl Sagan's beautiful dreams.

At the rate we are going, going into outer space won't just be a hobby, it will be nothing short of a necessity. We are slowly(or quickly depending on how you look it) but surely outgrowing Earth. And there are greater problems than our immediate ones.

I figure I've got a good idea what it is.

America's focus: HERE and NOW

Space Program: Investing in the future.

It's REALLY difficult for a capitalist nation to invest in the future, since it's an investment that doesn't have immediate monetary return. The space program was just another victim of The Black Hand (if you thought that was a racist comment at Obama, you're probably part of the problem)

Bob, you're not the only one thinking and wanting to go to space.

You are not special. You're certainly not the first to bring this up even in random internet conversations.

You refused to point out the numerous private citizens working on space travel - there's a good number of them. Or even China working steadfast on it.

Again, like last week, the big picture seems an awful lot like a small napkin doodle of a serious subject that deserves attention.

In all fairness, We have much better ways to spend our money. Like you admitted.

But then again, its kind of the "Well... you did all you could but its still not enough" sort of situation. A lot like the opposition to Obama, for example.

Problems on Earth blow. Yet, we still have the obligation as decent human beings.

Ensuring that we have a future does not constitute as being decent?

if i am not mistaking didn't Obama INCREASE the NASA budget? despite the end of the shuttle program?

anyway yeah its a real shame. the government should probably lie to us and say that Osama Bin Laden is threatening to commit terrorist attacks on the moon. THAN Americans will be 100% excited and supportive about space travel technology again. =p

in all seriousness, the MAJOR expense about space travel is simply getting out of Earth's gravity. Escape Velocity can be a real bitch on logistics and the wallet when it comes to progressing technology. the good news is 2 things.

1. Once the Escape velocity can be achieved cheaply and efficiently to get supplies/ships up into space, it should be relatively smooth sailing from there because of the lack of gravity. this means the current system of MASSIVE rockets with billions of dollars in technology and however many million of gallons of fuel will NOT be necessary and become a thing of the past. (reducing cost greatly)

2. from what i know the space-elevator scientists keep talking about seems to be the realistic solution to the problem. there should be a lot more funding in researching the carbon-rods(?carbon micro fibers? tubes? something carbon), the material that is light as hell and stronger then steel. right now they can only make about a hairs width/length of it at a time if not way WAY less.

I get where he's coming from but it sounds a bit like an old man waiving his cain and screaming "WHERE'S MY DAMN FLYING CAR!"

That's an odd thing for people to want anyway isn't it? A flying car, really? My Grandma just plowed into one of the trees next to my Dad's driveway (Not exactly a good example, but it did just happen). You think the world would be a better place where Joe Everyman could send a one ton piece of metal and jet fuel down to a random patch of earth almost as if it was the hand of God doing some smiting.

I'm not sure what the point of that tangent was but, yeah, I kind of agree with Bob.

If it helps I agree with you 100%, Bob. I grew up seeing the space program as the end all and be all of scientific achievement...sigh.

Actually,I'm all for individual countries cutting their space programs if it means everyone groups up for one super massive space program with a mind-blowing budget.

No more:"oh we can't finish this space station by 20xx,it costs too much" bullcrap.
Jesus,we have in our grasp the power to explore what Man once thought to be the domain of the gods and we can't even really unite to do so,opting instead for one or two goodwill "cooperation" projects and sending more and more communication satellites in the sky.

My biggest dream is for us to get off this rock and make some true discoveries.

FINALLY someone agrees with me!
I don't know what the hell happened to space, but it pisses me off that nobody seems to give a shit about it anymore. Maybe I'm just weird like that, I don't know, all I know is I seem to be one of a small handful of people who still daydream about being part of the first Mars colony.

The universe is fucking gigantic, and there's so much stuff out there that we still don't understand. I don't see how anyone could possibly just not care about that.

Steve the Pocket:

I'm with Bob here but not just for the ohh wow where finally here reason (Though it is a frikkin large part of it). The choice isan't really feed the starving or go to Mars; its go to Mars and the technology that will be necessary to create a viable colony will also be the technology that improves the lot for the poor people of Earth.

I'm not so sure anymore. It seems to me that all the technology we'd need in order to go to Mars already exists, because technology has been improving on its own since it was created for the original space program. Feel free to prove me wrong though.

You could get to Mars easy enougth, but your going to have to comeback unless you want to spend trillions launching supplies to your colonists. For a start your going to need to engineer some pretty robust extremiophiles able to deal with intense cold and heres the kicker aridity. If we could create a staple food for the martians it would be a doddle to create a far less extremophile for those areas of the planet effected by drought. Getting to Mars isan't the problem, staying there is.

Thank you, Bob.

You are not alone. Free Mars, and free Earth too.

Daystar Clarion:
Bad move America, looks like it's up to Britian and the space S.A.S. to discover Prothean technology on mars. Don't worry, we'll share the discovery... for a price.

PAH! The closest one of us Brits has ever gotten to space was a Fathers 4 Justice member dressed as batman on top of Buckingham Palace.

Daystar Clarion:
Bad move America, looks like it's up to Britian and the space S.A.S. to discover Prothean technology on mars. Don't worry, we'll share the discovery... for a price.

Oh please, Cydonia is on mars and these guys will find it first.


A little perplexed at seeing a mention of India and China, but not Russia, which is launching the most rockets, supplying engines to the American space program, getting people to the space station, and building a brand new space centre. All without Mountain Dew ads or reality show actors.

I never gave space travel and extraterrestrial colonization any thought because I never had a reason to care, and I still don't have one even to this day. Not everyone is more concerned about improving the quality of nanotechnology over funding NASA's space programs with tax payer money. Some of us just never cared at all.

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