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Old 05-14-2004, 07:33 PM   #1
Dagobahn Eagle
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Awareness of American Space Program's costs

I can't help but wonder if the enthusiasm in the US for the Mars mission is due to ignorance as to how much the Space program is really costing us.

Take the I. S. S.: One hundred billion dollars! If divided equally among every person on Earth (pop. rounded off to 6 billion), it'd leave everyone on the planet with more than 16 Billion dollars! Now, with cost compared to efficiency (forgot how to spell that) and overall results, I'd say it's the least productive research project in history.

A base on the Moon?! A ship with astronauts to Mars? Let me ask this question: How does it benefit us? We tax payers pay millions of dollars for someone to launch rockets into space, while people live on junk yards and others suffer without education or health care whatsoever. Together, the mission to Mars will cost trillions of dollars.

My school is running low on paper. Seriously low on paper. School buses are cramped up because the state has to save money by reducing the number of routes.

I think this coldness is a good indicator of how much Bush really cares about us. Terrorists? Bah. What about debt, unemployment rates, rape, violence, pollution, poverty, hate, police discrimination, divorce, and all the other bad things that actually do damage in the States?

Drop the prosecution of gays. Drop the ghost hunts in nations abroad. Start saving the country. Oh, and for the Common Joe: Look outside of the NASA-sensored movies like "Armaggedon" (yes, NASA has to approve of the contents before the movie being released) and look at the cold facts. Or tell me how the ISS gives us more than $100,000,000,000 could give us if spent on health care, police, education, foreign aid, and so on and so fourth?

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Old 05-14-2004, 10:52 PM   #2
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You are only seeing the imediate costs, not the benifits that this will lead us too in the future. Our future is out in space, you know. We waisted enough time getting there already...
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Old 05-15-2004, 08:35 AM   #3
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on the one hand i agree... i'd quite like 16bn dollars

But the space programme happens to be one "waste of money" i tend to support. Not everything can have immediate benefits.

You can argue that governments shouldn't support such things, along with things like art and music, but I think you have to take a wider view and see tat these things benefit humanity as a whole and will do so even more in the future. Humans simply don't like to stand still, we need to expand and push the boundaries in everything.

I'd give the US 50 years before they make the planet uninhabitable anyway, so they can spend my 16bn on finding me a new place to live.

If you want to see real wastes of money you should see the US defence budget, or the huge amounts of money they lend to foreign dictators to allow them to buy US weapons (the dictators then of-course default on the loans).
I don't have the figures, but i'd bet the US defence budget is more than 100bn.

The war on terror is another waste of money. It is actually encouraging terrorism, and feeding a cycle of fear that is making things worse for everyone. THe best way to deal with terrorists is to ignore them, and as a risk, terrorism is less of a risk than toasters. The money spent on the war on terror could have bought everyone in the US a smoke detector and probably saved 1000 times as many lives.

THe space budget seems like a lot, but it also just seems like something we should do...



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Old 05-15-2004, 04:44 PM   #4
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Our future is out in space, you know. We waisted enough time getting there already...
No, I don't know. Explain how future is out in space.

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on the one hand i agree... i'd quite like 16bn dollars

But the space programme happens to be one "waste of money" i tend to support. Not everything can have immediate benefits.

You can argue that governments shouldn't support such things, along with things like art and music, but I think you have to take a wider view and see tat these things benefit humanity as a whole and will do so even more in the future.
Again, I'd like to see an example of how it would. I know culture benefits us, but I find it a crude analogy in this context. Culture is a lot more giving at the time than space travel.

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Humans simply don't like to stand still, we need to expand and push the boundaries in everything.
Irrelevant. There are a lot of instincts in humans, and not all of them need to be satisfied. And there are lots of secrets left on Earth (like the deep seas).

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I'd give the US 50 years before they make the planet uninhabitable anyway, so they can spend my 16bn on finding me a new place to live.
A new place for humanity to live? You know just as well as me that there are no inhabitable planets that astronomers know of. And they know of a lot of planets. And Mars is certainly not hospitable.

Exactly how far into the future do you consider the results to start showing up anyway? Hundreds of years? Thousands of years?

[quote]If you want to see real wastes of money you should see the US defence budget, or the huge amounts of money they lend to foreign dictators to allow them to buy US weapons (the dictators then of-course default on the loans).
I don't have the figures, but i'd bet the US defence budget is more than 100bn.[quote]
Agreed. But the government is reducing the military budget and the military is at least protecting us. We can shut down ISS completely and live on, but we can't shut down the military and stay safe...

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Old 05-15-2004, 06:12 PM   #5
Datheus
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First of all, 100bn divided by 6bn is not 16bn. It's 16.

Secondly, when do you deem a proper time for us to spread? Earth will not be habital forever.
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Old 05-15-2004, 08:34 PM   #6
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Originally posted by Datheus
First of all, 100bn divided by 6bn is not 16bn. It's 16.
Glad someone pointed out that rather crucial error. Besides, giving every person on this planet 16 billion dollars would make the world stop; who'd wanna work? As humans we're better off as a community to have financial differences between us. We're not an insect hive where each individual by nature work for the common good. But this is besides the point.

Space exploration may not seem relevant in short sight from where we stand right now, but think of the population growth. How long can this planet support us? We're already moving quite fast towards the brink where the supply of this planet can no longer meet the demand of its human inhabitants. Sure, we can invent more sufficient ways to exploit our resources and we can build a healthier social and cultural structure allowing for less over-indulgence, but all that really does is postponing the inevitable, because the human population will continue to grow.

Exploring space and travelling to our fellow planets in our star system will first allow us a vast, vast, vast amount of new resources to harvest and further down the line it will allow us additional living space. Finally, spreading out into the universe will greatly increase the chances for the ultimate long term survival of human kind as we won't be keeping our eggs in one basket anymore, in a cosmic understanding.

So you're right, Dagobahn Eagle; there are no obvious and immediate benefits to the vast amounts of cash spent on space exploration. It's a multi-generation long project that will benefit us immensely in mankind's common future.

A final word: Just because there doesn't seem anything worth discovering and understanding out there does not necessarily mean there isn't something out there worth discovering and understanding.


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Old 05-15-2004, 09:49 PM   #7
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We Americans spend more money on "defense" than anything. Ie: lots of big bombs and fancy jets and nukes that we'll never need (and the ones we use will blow up more civilians than it will their intended targets anyway).

So, if we just managed our budgets better and stopped wasting so much on weapons and were smarter with money, I think we could easily afford a space program that was put to good use.


I forget who said it, but for the survival of our species, we need to establish ourselves off-world.

Else we're simply at the mercy of the next big rock that comes along (like what happened to the Dinosaurs).

And the capacity to live elsewhere can have all sorts of benefits, more jobs, more room, scientific curiosity, industry, etc.

If we say "well focus on solving the problems at home" we'll never make it. Why? Because those problems will never be "solved." Each new breakthrough or discovery creates its own problems almost as much as it solves. But that doesn't mean we should stop innovating and expanding our realm of understanding and push forward.

It won't be like Star Trek where aliens will come and save us. We have to do the work ourselves if we want it to happen...

Our problem isn't unique. Plenty of other countries, even ones that can barely afford to feed their people are throwing huge amounts of money at weapons to scare their neighbors with. Not good...

PS: Check out badastronomy.com. I don't know about your story that NASA sponsored "Armaggeddon" but that site shows just how bad and poorly researched the science in that flick is.

Our chances of stopping an asteroid or comet about to hit the earth are next to none right now. Our best bet is to develop a technology to redirect incoming objects, detect them early (the second thing we are doing now) and spread ourselves out, so we can't all be wiped out by 1 big rock.

Just think about it. It's theorized that the asteroid that killed off the Dinosaurs had more destructive power than all the nukes we've got today. And that almost wiped out all life on earth. It's possible something worse could hit that would finish it for good. And even if it didn't, we'd probably be history.


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Old 05-16-2004, 06:23 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kurgan

It won't be like Star Trek where aliens will come and save us.
Well you never know, they might! according to some (mental) people they are already in legue with the US govenment and doing their experiments in exchange for weapons teck, yeah right.

The space program does seem a waist of money though, just glad people in the UK are not paying for it. Its not like I think there shoudn't be a space program, just that they shouldn't waist so much money on it. I'm sure the could do it cheaper if they tried, they just have no idea about cost cutting because they have always had a huge budget.






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Old 05-17-2004, 09:53 AM   #9
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Wink Do I really have a point? You decide...

See that's the thing, we waste more money on military (don't tell me the military budget of the US is efficient, and I doubt other countries are that much better, but you never know) than on space.

In the US the space budget has been consistently cut and cut and cut over the years, due to lack of public enthusiasm and to fork the money onto other pet projects of politicians and their big business interests.

That's one reason why we had the Columbia diaster, we're still using those old clunky shuttles from circa 1980. (!)

I agree, we should be more efficient spenders. During the Cold War, we had a big incentive because we thought the USSR was going to establish missile bases in space and rule the world, plus our (USA's) ego was at stake on the world stage.

Now, what's the point? One might ask. Again, I point to the environmental factors and the survival of our species, plus future opportunities in space.

If "the Armaggedon comes" we can't just suddenly develop this stuff out of thin air and escape disaster, we have to have it all set right now.

But, again, I agree, it's hard to convince people of that when the Politicians are only looking ahead 4 years to their re-election campaigns and most people will be happy if they have low taxes, cheap gas and cheap food.


PS: The "we need a big military to stay safe" has a certain logic to it, but that opens a whole 'nother can of worms.

Sept 11th happened even though we had the world's biggest military (even nukes!). Terrorists don't care what weapons you have because they can just hide all over the world. What are you going to do, invade everyone? Nuke everyone? You kill a couple of people but that's just one cell, and there are plenty of such groups.

So having a huge military doesn't really protect you that way. And there hasn't been an invasion attempt of the US soil since when.... 1812? The Japanese weren't trying to capture America in 1941 were they? Just attacking a coastal base right?

Iraq was absolutely no threat to us (as it turns out, no WMD were found). Besides, even if Saddam had had nukes, he wouldn't have had ICBM capability with the range to threaten the US all the way over there. The reason we attacked him year after year was because the threatened our ALLIES, Saudi Arabia and Israel. SA because of the oil factor and Israel because of the Israel-lobby (and the fact that they're our only non-Muslim ally in the Middle East and the only country that consistently votes with us in the UN).

Afgahnistan, what was that? Basically revenge for not handing over Bin Ladin. By the time we attacked we was long gone, and they're still not rebuilt are they? Afgahnistan was content to stay within their borders growing opium and oppressing their own people to care about invading US Soil.

Apart from terrorism, which having a big military doesn't stop anyway, what does having a huge military actually accomplish (other than big arms contracts and lots of government jobs)?

We haven't really used our military to stop an invasion in a long time, mainly just to fight other people's little wars for them or to occupy countries forever that clearly pose no invasive capability to us (we still have plenty of troops stationed in Europe and Japan after all). The Soviet Union isn't around threatening to nuke us anymore, so what's the deal?

That's my argument. Everytime there's a war the rhetoric always gets thrown out "Give thanks to your soldiers because they're keeping you safe and defending your rights."

But what rights are they really defending? The right to bully other nations to give us fair prices? I'm not saying they're dying and getting maimed for nothing, but to people really believe that if we cut our military down and brought the troops home that suddenly we'd have Russians, Germans, Japanese, Afgahnis, Iraqis, etc marching into Alaska, New York, Maine and California and saying "I claim this land for (insert country name here)"?

Instead, all this time right under our noses, without a single shot fired, we've been taken over by Mexico!
; )

(ending on a semi-humorous note there, sorry for getting off track. Bottom line: we can have a good space program and we NEED a good space program, we just need to be smarter with our money)


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Old 05-18-2004, 12:03 AM   #10
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First of all, 100bn divided by 6bn is not 16bn. It's 16.
Of course. Stupid me.

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That's one reason why we had the Columbia diaster, we're still using those old clunky shuttles from circa 1980. (!)
And how old are the 747s? 35 years old. And far more of those have crashed than the shuttles. Do you want to replace them too?

Boeing info.

Look, the shuttles are younger than a lot of other things that fly or drive or dive (rhyme not intended) on the planet today. If an age of 20 was a major issue, millions of cars, too, would have to be scrapped (so many of their designs are from the eighties).

The reason why Colombia went to the hot place (litteraly) was the same as the reason why Challenger blew up on the launch pad: groupthink. NASA ignored warnings from within and ordered the launch. In both cases, the tragedies would have been avoided if only those responsible for the shuttles did their job.

Quote:
Now, what's the point? One might ask. Again, I point to the environmental factors and the survival of our species, plus future opportunities in space.
The sun won't blow for another couple of million years.
No pollution, etc., while bad, on Earth today threatens to "exterminate" all life on Earth all-together. As for this happening after a "long time", well, you can't know that. What I do know, however,

Quote:
If we say "well focus on solving the problems at home" we'll never make it. Why? Because those problems will never be "solved." Each new breakthrough or discovery creates its own problems almost as much as it solves. But that doesn't mean we should stop innovating and expanding our realm of understanding and push forward.
Population issues will never be solved either. There will possibly always be home-less people. Yet you advocate a fortune on a program that you "think eventually might bear fruit in the forms of a colony mission".

More spending needs to be given to internal threats, like rape, depression, ignorance, violence, crime, apathy, narcotics, and so on and so fourth. Right now 10,000 people get murdered in the States each year; 1/6 boys and 1/4 girls get raped; there are thousands of nation-wide gangs...

Let's say you prioritize expansion into space over everything else. What then? The problems will still exist on Earth, only unattended to. And if the philosophy is carried over to the "New World", the same problems will arise there, and on the way there.

I'd rather have a colony away from a good planet in the far future than away from a bad planet in the near future.

As for asteroids, there are virtually none within this solar system that are in a threatening orbit. Again, astronomers have charted vast amounts of space and untold numbers of asteroids and calculated that an asteroid might hit us in a hundred years. So no, it's not like an asteroid can suddenly come out of nowhere and kill us before we can do anything.

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Besides, giving every person on this planet 16 billion dollars would make the world stop; who'd wanna work? As humans we're better off as a community to have financial differences between us. We're not an insect hive where each individual by nature work for the common good. But this is besides the point.
I was making that point to show just how much a hundred billions are. I never said I wanted everyone to have 16 billion bucks. If spent on charity, police, foreign aid, medical care, parks, streets, fire departments, schools and so on, things would get so much better in the world today. Yes, the government is apathetic, but in

Bottom line in my opinion: Internal threats can never be solved. No country can be Utopia. But the USA has outstanding, serious threats that do vast amounts of damage (do you know how much the 50% divorce rate costs us in terms of treatment of depression alone?). And if schools are illiteracy rates keep declining, who's going to build the rocket that's going to take us to this new paradise of yours? High school drop-outs with experience from McDonalds only?

As for the military: Interesting points (a lot of which I confidently feel I can refute), but a different topic. Sorry.

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Old 05-18-2004, 09:23 AM   #11
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that whole 16bn thing has been nagging at me for days....

I still think we should do the odd thing "to see if we can" and not just do everything on a cost basis. (time to start a money=evil thread?)

If you really want to look ofter the poor and sick you need to increase taxes to about 70% and increase public spending... but of course, that reduces incentives, freedom and fun... somethings have to be about dreams, hopes etc.... not just cold hard cash. Otherwise there wouldn't be much of a point to existance and we might as well all just put ourselves in some sort of matrix and dream out life away.



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Old 05-20-2004, 01:56 AM   #12
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Originally posted by Dagobahn Eagle
I was making that point to show just how much a hundred billions are. I never said I wanted everyone to have 16 billion bucks. If spent on charity, police, foreign aid, medical care, parks, streets, fire departments, schools and so on, things would get so much better in the world today.
I know you were; I just got a little sidetracked in my line of thought, hence the finishing "But this is besides the point"-remark of that paragraph.

That being said, you seem to ignore or misunderstand a couple of my real points of my former post. By overpopulation I do not mean the issue of homeless people, I'm talking about the rather explosive rate of increase in the total human population on this planet. And as said in my former post, Earth will not continue to support our growing number forever, nomatter how effective we become at exploiting its resources to their fullest. At one point the scale will tip against our favour.

The other point was the opportunity for new sources of mindbogglingly huge amounts of resources for all kinds of industries, an amount that would make the cost of interplanetary travel and the research that went before it seem like petty cash.

Hope that clears things up a bit.


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Old 05-22-2004, 01:18 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dagobahn Eagle
Look, the shuttles are younger than a lot of other things that fly or drive or dive (rhyme not intended) on the planet today. If an age of 20 was a major issue, millions of cars, too, would have to be scrapped (so many of their designs are from the eighties).
How many cars do you know that do orbital re-entries on a regular basis?

Quote:
The reason why Colombia went to the hot place (litteraly) was the same as the reason why Challenger blew up on the launch pad: groupthink. NASA ignored warnings from within and ordered the launch. In both cases, the tragedies would have been avoided if only those responsible for the shuttles did their job.
Improper maintainance and faulty emergency protocols and lack of contingency planning didn't help either.

Quote:
The sun won't blow for another couple of million years.
No pollution, etc., while bad, on Earth today threatens to "exterminate" all life on Earth all-together.
But overpopulation threatens to exterminate Western Civilisation. That's bad enough for me. And I'm not nearly cynical enough to simply accept war as a means for population control.

Quote:
Population issues will never be solved either. There will possibly always be home-less people. Yet you advocate a fortune on a program that you "think eventually might bear fruit in the forms of a colony mission".
If you look at human history you'll notice a pattern: Humans breed. Humans outbreed local resources. Then the humans move to claim new lands. But since every square metre of the planet is already populated, claiming land is a process that will involve exterminating the native population of the land concerned. We will either have to accept war as a means to control population or find a new frontier to exploit.

Quote:
More spending needs to be given to internal threats, like rape, depression, ignorance, violence, crime, apathy, narcotics, and so on and so fourth. Right now 10,000 people get murdered in the States each year; 1/6 boys and 1/4 girls get raped; there are thousands of nation-wide gangs...
Three words: 60% income tax. That would give you a f*ckload of money to battle these issues. And some neo-con is gonna cut my head off now...

Quote:
I'd rather have a colony away from a good planet in the far future than away from a bad planet in the near future.
There is no 'far future'. The US has at most 50yrs left as a major player in international politics, Europe even less, if we don't get our arses together and make an effective federation. China and possibly Russia will rule the world in less than a century. Now that's a freaking frightening prospect.

Quote:
Bottom line in my opinion: Internal threats can never be solved. No country can be Utopia. But the USA has outstanding, serious threats that do vast amounts of damage
Nobody's doubting that. But that can be solved in three easy steps: Fire dubya and elect a president with an IQ above 80. Cut down on defence. Spend the excess on welfare.

g2g. cu.

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Old 05-25-2004, 08:41 PM   #14
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Originally posted by ShadowTemplar
China and possibly Russia will rule the world in less than a century. Now that's a freaking frightening prospect.
I'm not so sure of that. While China have the manpower, their one-child policy is going to put a dampener on that in the long run. They currently have a clash with capitalism meeting brutal communist regime - if they can get that sorted out in favour of capitalism, I'd say yes. Otherwise they're gonna end up looking like pre '89-Russia.

As for Russia, they're not exactly economically strong ATM, and unless they get some good oil deals etc taken care, I can't see that changing.

Actually, I'd say the future of the US depends a lot on what they're fiddling about with in the Middle East right now.


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