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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Suicide Mission to Mars (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Suicide Mission to Mars
ZachC
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This is interesting.
While browsing through the Fox News website, this piqued my curiosity because just recently there was a thread based on the value of an astronaut's life.
Now it seems, a Dutch company, is planning to recruit astronauts for a one way mission to Mars.
They will journey to Mars but will never return home.
Kind of eerie?
Suicide Mission

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Shigosei
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*rolls eyes at headline* One-way is not the same thing as suicide.
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ZachC
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Well there's always the possibility of a pick up later on. But they would leave without no plans to return.
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Stone_Wolf_
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So, if I took a one way flight to New York, it would be a "suicide mission"?

Yes, Mars is not New York, but the point is they plan on living there, not dying there.

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ZachC
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Whatever, I thought it was weird...
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C3PO the Dragon Slayer
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The idea has merit. Obviously, there have to be long-term plans to get two-way spacecraft developed eventually, but if you send people to Mars to colonize it, rather than merely explore it, you don't have to worry about the logistical headache of getting a lander onto the planet that is capable of launching back into orbit and docking with the main vessel, which in turn has to carry enough fuel for a two-way trip.

It is true, that the people who embark on this mission will not likely ever be able to see their friends on Earth in person again. Their internet connections will have a 4-20 minute lag.

But if you assume that the logistical challenges of bringing a self-sustaining, reliable (and redundant, in case something goes wrong) biosphere and a large enough community of colonists to maintain it are smaller than the challenges of making a two-way spaceship, then this could just be the new New World, where people looking to make history and start a new life on an alien world have the option to emigrate to the Red Planet.

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Rakeesh
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It seems strange to modern sensibilities, but a big part of that is because travel time measured in anything over a week is pretty unusual now, at least when getting there is the primary goal, rather than tourism and such.

But for most of human history, that's definitely not been the way things are. Even in the 19th century, when so much of the world had been mapped out, getting to the other side of our wet rock would take weeks and months, and one could never rely really thoroughly on everyone getting there at the same time, alive and whole. Sometimes and in some places you simply couldn't travel where you wished to go, or at least in the way you did. Don't make it to the coast quite in time? You're landbound for weeks or seasons, because the wind is against you or there's simply no ship going where you are. Arrived at the edge of the mountains a bit late, or even sometimes early if the weather is bad? You're stuck until the spring, because crossing them in winter might be impossible or suicidally dangerous.

The headline is appropriately hysterical (as in, hysteria) given its source, but in the history of exploration, this sort of thing is much less strange.

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Teshi
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I have met a few people who state that they would willingly join a one-way trip to Mars, regardless of the danger, just to be part of something they regard as a landmark in history.
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Itsame
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Assuming that I'm confident immortality will not be achieved (and made accessible to me!) during my lifetime, I might be willing to join.
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Xavier
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If I had a high degree of confidence in the plan for keeping me alive, I'd probably sign up. Or at least I would have before I had kids.

For instance, if their plan for keeping us fed and breathing long term has a lot of question marks, that might change my mind.

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Stone_Wolf_
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quote:
Or at least I would have before I had kids.
+1
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AchillesHeel
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quote:
Originally posted by JonHecht:
Assuming that I'm confident immortality will not be achieved (and made accessible to me!) during my lifetime, I might be willing to join.

No one likes a pessimist.

I would definitely go, roughly with the same reaction as this fellow.

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Geraine
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Apparently the lottery is supposed to start next year. I will be one of those people pressing the F5 key minutes before the lottery starts to sign up in hopes of being chosen. My wife will be doing the same.
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Samprimary
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Serious question here for anyone who would seriously want to sign up on this trip:

could you in all honesty be described as someone who has a penchant for poor life choices

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Stone_Wolf_
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That doesn't seem like a serious question. That seems like a snarky comment.
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Samprimary
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I don't care if it seems otherwise. It is a serious question. It is something I want to know with absolutely analytical intent. It's something I want people who legitimately would want to sign up for Mars One to ask themselves.
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Stone_Wolf_
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Good luck with that.
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Samprimary
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Don't need it, never have.
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Xavier
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quote:
could you in all honesty be described as someone who has a penchant for poor life choices
I don't think anyone could look at my life (or at least the last 5+ years of it) and come to that conclusion.

Taking a personal risk in exchange for being part of a significant advancement of the human race does not seem like a poor choice to me. Assuming a careful analysis of just what those risks are and having deemed them personally acceptable. I have not done such analysis, and don't intend to. (Since fatherhood trumps other considerations.)

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Samprimary
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Hmm. Noted; i don't think you count as the category of someone who would seriously want to sign up on this trip — you've already even specifically voided it due to fatherhood.
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Szymon
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This proposition is old as hell.

I'd go. Now. Right now. Just give me a ticket.

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Rakeesh
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What is the purpose of the question, Samprimary? 'Analysis' isn't actually an answer, you know.
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advice for robots
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What are considered poor life choices, exactly?
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AchillesHeel
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Consuming caffeine.
Disagreeing with superior discussion board members.
Purchasing anything that may be described as a 'chotchky.'
Tipping wait staff less than twenty percent.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Disagreeing with superior discussion board members.
What are considered superior discussion board members, exactly?

Are we basing it on post count? Join date? General superior intellect and argumentation skill?

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
What is the purpose of the question, Samprimary? 'Analysis' isn't actually an answer, you know.

Mars One is such a terrible business and exploratory plan, to the extent that even a little bit of research into their proposal should leave one recognizing that on the off (very off) chance that it actually results in a one-way colonization shuttle departing for mars, being aboard it is essentially signing your death warrant for a fiasco of a business/scientific venture. One which even they cannot and have not explained how it will work, because they do not even really know. The proposers cannot survive scrutiny; they haven't even survived a Reddit IAMA.

Even assuming it was not a terrible proposal, it represents people believing they can do something that they absolutely will not be able to handle. The psychological stresses and demands inherent to the task at hand means that 99.999999% of people saying that they love to go would ... absolutely not love it and would be an almost guaranteed psychological liability.

It is a bad idea wrapped in a bad idea.

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Bella Bee
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It sounds great at first, but the idea of spending my life with a handful of other people I didn't choose on a dead planet confined to a small living area sounds too much like something out of Sartre to appeal.

The idea of never seeing another river or sunny field or city block or wild animal or ocean, never being able to just decide to go for a walk outside in the fresh air, never feeling rain, never really deciding anything about my own life again... no. I'd give up the glory or any amount of advancement, to keep that stuff.

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Blayne Bradley
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Mars Direct, vastly cheaper, and the pilots can come back.

Go go go go.

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Szymon
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Blayne, yes, I remember, I loved this idea.

Actually Mars colonization is so in our reach (I mean, your, as USA) that it pains me you don't go... Instead of giving close to a trillion dollars to save a company or two, you could go and easily send 4-5 manned missions. Maybe robots are cheaper, maybe colonization is not a necessity, but c'mon! Mars!

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BandoCommando
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Apparently, the passengers of the Mayflower were on a suicide mission to the Americas...
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Rakeesh
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That's not quite the same thing. In practice, what with ships often sinking or simply becoming too damaged to sail, or being taken-in some way being unable to be used for a return voyage-in practice it was quite similar in many trans-oceanic voyages.

Except the difference being, while you accepted the possibility your ship might sink, when you embarked that first time, you were in a boat that-if all went well-could be used to sail you right back, too.

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Hobbes
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Well to the best of my knowledge, they did all die.

Hobbes [Smile]

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Szymon
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Well, if I aren't much mistaken this "one way trip" to mars is more like "one way trip, for the time being". That is, they can't promise the astronauts a return, but they will do everything they can to make them come back home. Until then, for 10 years, they will stay there.
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TheGrimace
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A couple quick comments:

1) I think Samprimary has something of a point at least in asking the question (though it's dubious if people would respond honestly with a "yes" to it). Look as Astronaut and Space Station crews and note the rigorous physical and psychological screening and training they have to go through before being accepted (and that's after they've proven, by some criteria or another, that they're very dedicated and driven individuals, i.e. multiple doctorates, proven in their field of expertise, etc...). Now compare that to ship crews and early colonists in the age of sail. There were a few successes, but also a lot of failures (lost colonies, horrific mortality rates, mutinies, piracy etc) in part because there was a relatively small percentage of skilled/dedicated individuals compared to folks like indentured servants and such. This isn't to say that everyone interested in signing up is crazy or a screwup but it would be interesting to see how many are interested, while knowing full-well the trials and tribulations involved, and how many are just saying they're interested because the grass is always greener on Mars...

2) Just a word of warning to people who get all excited about Mars Direct. While there's a lot of good ideas there, and in the long run it could work swimmingly, there's also a lot of somewhat crazy optimism in the plan. Zubrin has a tendancy to make a lot of super agressive assumptions, such as assuming that certain technologies which have remained largely static for 60+ years would suddenly increase in efficiency by a factor of magnitude. Mars is achievable, and possibly even a return trip, but it would be a lot more costly and risky than he tends to make it out to be.

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Samprimary
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It is not a question which I guess I expect forthrightness with too. It just all goes back to people's overestimation of their abilities, our pathological underestimating of our limitations for compensating for various psychological stresses. people would like to tell themselves they could just man up and go through living the rest of their life cramped in a dusty habitation tube on a lifeless planet, eating nutrient paste and spending most days confronting the mounting potential for cascading equipment breakdown and supply shortage, and be ready for an operational commitment so ghastly and confining and ceaseless and so extremely likely to end in a terminal equipment failure that nobody can rescue them from that we don't even really know how to psychologically prep people for it. And they want to make it the world's most morbid reality show, or something.

I know people in real life who are just amazingly, wholly, completely INTO the idea. They would sign up in all seriousness. So far as of yet they are limited to a demographic with expectable traits and a history that belies it.

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Kwea
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
Don't need it, never have.

That's open for debate.

[Wink]

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Blayne Bradley
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quote:
Originally posted by TheGrimace:
A couple quick comments:

1) I think Samprimary has something of a point at least in asking the question (though it's dubious if people would respond honestly with a "yes" to it). Look as Astronaut and Space Station crews and note the rigorous physical and psychological screening and training they have to go through before being accepted (and that's after they've proven, by some criteria or another, that they're very dedicated and driven individuals, i.e. multiple doctorates, proven in their field of expertise, etc...). Now compare that to ship crews and early colonists in the age of sail. There were a few successes, but also a lot of failures (lost colonies, horrific mortality rates, mutinies, piracy etc) in part because there was a relatively small percentage of skilled/dedicated individuals compared to folks like indentured servants and such. This isn't to say that everyone interested in signing up is crazy or a screwup but it would be interesting to see how many are interested, while knowing full-well the trials and tribulations involved, and how many are just saying they're interested because the grass is always greener on Mars...

2) Just a word of warning to people who get all excited about Mars Direct. While there's a lot of good ideas there, and in the long run it could work swimmingly, there's also a lot of somewhat crazy optimism in the plan. Zubrin has a tendancy to make a lot of super agressive assumptions, such as assuming that certain technologies which have remained largely static for 60+ years would suddenly increase in efficiency by a factor of magnitude. Mars is achievable, and possibly even a return trip, but it would be a lot more costly and risky than he tends to make it out to be.

I've recently reread the book and I don't really see this. I see him making +/- 10% assumption never "magnitudes", there are some things he presumes could be made better, but stuff we certainly well understand but lacked the imperative to mess with before, like a Mars spec'ed electrolysis device.

At worst we what? Double the price and risk from a 24bln$ project to 48bln? Still a drop in the bucket in comparisson to the "Von Braun" 450bln to 680bln BSG plans out there.

The only thing I never saw addressed was how we keep Mars from relosing the atmosphere in 10,000 years time since it lacks a magnetosphere, but 10k years is a long time so I'm not concerned.

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Samprimary
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http://travel.yahoo.com/blogs/compass/want-visit-mars-applications-being-taken-205216264.html

quote:
now many applicants who have ponied up the application fee
yeah, just gonna stress the point: people are suckers
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Mucus
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Tangential annoyance:

quote:
At least 20,000 really adventurous people have applied for a crack at a permanent trip to the red planet.
After only one week, submissions to the Mars One project are pouring in -- 600 from China alone.

Percent of humans that are from China: 19.27%
Percent of Mars One applicants that are from China: 3%

It shouldn't really be "pouring in -- 600 from China alone" as if that was a big number. It should be something like "pouring in -- only 600 from China though."

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
Tangential annoyance:

quote:
At least 20,000 really adventurous people have applied for a crack at a permanent trip to the red planet.
After only one week, submissions to the Mars One project are pouring in -- 600 from China alone.

Percent of humans that are from China: 19.27%
Percent of Mars One applicants that are from China: 3%

It shouldn't really be "pouring in -- 600 from China alone" as if that was a big number. It should be something like "pouring in -- only 600 from China though."

What percent of people able to apply to something online and make a video and stuff are from China?

I'm betting it's still substantially above 3%. But I'd also bet it's a lot less than 19.27%, right? I'd think a significant number of those people aren't living in the industrialized technologically advanced conditions required to actually fill out this application.

Still, I'm not gonna pretend that's what the article writer was thinking of. When people think about China in contexts like these they often don't really consider the sheer size of its population.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
Still, I'm not gonna pretend that's what the article writer was thinking of. When people think about China in contexts like these they often don't really consider the sheer size of its population.

Yep, my main criticism is about the attitude that the article writer had. There's a fair discussion that could be had about how many applications one would expect from China, but that's not where the author was going by singling that out.

quote:
I'm betting it's still substantially above 3%. But I'd also bet it's a lot less than 19.27%, right?
I'm not sure, poking around, it might not be much less, might even be more. Poking around the rather outdated information here, it seems that China already has 7.7% of the population with access to broadband while the world as a whole is doing 7.0%. Or putting it another way, China has 22% of the world's broadband Internet users.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
quote:
I'm betting it's still substantially above 3%. But I'd also bet it's a lot less than 19.27%, right?
I'm not sure, poking around, it might not be much less, might even be more. Poking around the rather outdated information here, it seems that China already has 7.7% of the population with access to broadband while the world as a whole is doing 7.0%. Or putting it another way, China has 22% of the world's broadband Internet users.
Hah, nice.
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Stephan
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No known resources, other than potentially usable ice.

This isn't exactly the colonization of the Americas. Without resources on Mars, or at least something they can trade for resources with Earth, this is going to be a disaster either financially or physically or both.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Stephan:
No known resources, other than potentially usable ice.

This isn't exactly the colonization of the Americas. Without resources on Mars, or at least something they can trade for resources with Earth, this is going to be a disaster either financially or physically or both.

The "resource" they're trading for this project is having their life be a reality tv show, essentially, that provides the funding for continuous supply drops.
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Stephan
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by Stephan:
No known resources, other than potentially usable ice.

This isn't exactly the colonization of the Americas. Without resources on Mars, or at least something they can trade for resources with Earth, this is going to be a disaster either financially or physically or both.

The "resource" they're trading for this project is having their life be a reality tv show, essentially, that provides the funding for continuous supply drops.
As long as ratings are up. If ratings drop, I guess they could start calling it Survivor: Mars.
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Stephan
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I am predicting the first example of cannibalism on Mars by 2030 at the latest.
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TomDavidson
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For my part, I predict that man will not have stepped foot on Mars by 2030.
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Elison R. Salazar
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We need the Chinese to start making serious headway in going there to respark the "Sputnik scare".
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Lyrhawn
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I'm not even sure taikonauts floating around in space and heading to the moon and Mars would be enough to really pump new life, or more importantly new dollars, into NASA. Sputnik wasn't just scary because of a prestige issue, it was scary because of the perceived importance and relation to nuclear weapons. We're just not afraid of China in that sense. If there is a rush for resources, like they want to set up moon mining operations, then maybe, but otherwise I don't expect much of a blip on the radar over it.
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Stephan
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We need private industry to find space profitable. If that doesn't happen, we are not going anywhere.
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