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Do we still have the patience and stamina for deep-space missions?

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David Ashton
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re: Do we still have the patience and stamina for deep-space missions?
David Ashton   10/26/2010 5:21:19 AM
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Apart from the engineers, can you imagine any politician committing funds to a project that will not give any meaningful results before his current term of office runs out? Engineering has advanced in leaps and bounds - can you imagine how much more powerful Voyager 3 would be if it had been developed now? - but in social terms I think the human race has gone backwards.

Duane Benson
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re: Do we still have the patience and stamina for deep-space missions?
Duane Benson   9/13/2010 4:27:46 PM
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This problem isn't just just in space exploration. The same need for instant gratification is pervasive in our society and in the engineering world. I worry about the new generation of engineers. When I started building hardware and writing software - yes, we did already have both one's and zeros back then - just the act of getting a computer to display the words "hello world" was an accomplishment and was enough to inspire a budding engineer-in-training to press on. Now, prospective designers want to expend the same amount of work, but rather that just seeing those two words, they want that minimal effort to result in Zerg running around the screen causing trouble. I can't count the number of kids I've heard saying they want to be video game designers, but they change directions as soon as they realize the amount of work it takes to get anything close to that on screen. Add that to the knowledge that the jobs they'll be applying for after four or five years of college have already been outsourced to someplace else and it's easy to see why engineering is a discipline in with a very questionable future. Duane Benson Screaming Circuits

IqbalSingh.Josan
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re: Do we still have the patience and stamina for deep-space missions?
IqbalSingh.Josan   8/6/2010 8:46:43 PM
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I support initiatives like deep space mission because of the simple fact that these multi generational initiatives challenge the capabilities of human mind. History is witness that whenever we took on the challenges with faith in ourselves, we have achieved much more than if we had done otherwise. The benefits that accrue from such undertakings, as mentioned by some commenters, far outweigh the costs. Our future generations will be thankful to us for taking on these challenges. Regards My Blog: www.uspurtek.com

Silicon_Smith
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re: Do we still have the patience and stamina for deep-space missions?
Silicon_Smith   8/5/2010 6:07:02 PM
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A few thoughts on the views above: 1. We all favor Basic research. Science is what has helped the society in real sense, and above all other instruments. The doubts are regarding projects which do not have any implicit benefit for the humankind. One is tempted to bring the fact to attention of the readers, that majority of the research dollars, globally, are still being invested in technologies which have a destructive nature as against the constructive projects that masquerade them. Call them strategic? 2. As pointed out, spending on space missions is a fraction of the total budget governments operate with. This is a non-argument. If all the organs fail, that does not imply or warrant everyone to demand equivalent resources to squander!! There would, then, be no difference between the fair and the corrupt. 3. Finally, I think the onus is upon the scientific community itself to prioritize what needs to be done. The feeling I get from reading some of the comments is that we feel defensive. At least, within the community, we should have the courage to say no to research which insists upon itself. Space happens to be one of the areas, where enough exaggeration exists!

Tunrayo
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re: Do we still have the patience and stamina for deep-space missions?
Tunrayo   8/4/2010 4:38:47 PM
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I agree that space exploration has immeasurable benefits compared to what is expended in research and exploration. There have been many many benefits in communications - cellular communications and satellite communications. I don't think we can place any value on being able to pick up a phone almost anywhere in the world and communicate with people. Space exploration has also improved weather forecasts and metorology. The Asian Tsunami of 2004 could have been predicted with proper deployment of technology we already have. Our media world, which has vastly improved over the past 50 years, owes a lot to space exploration. Space research and space exploration has also facilitated the understanding of matter and very small particles because it affords us interaction with matter at a macro level. Furthermore, a lot of chemicals and materials have been discovered or engineered, sometimes inadvertently in the course of space research. Thus space exploration has a huge impact on everyday life and the condition of mankind has greatly improved over time because of work dine in this field.

frose926
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re: Do we still have the patience and stamina for deep-space missions?
frose926   8/4/2010 1:22:33 PM
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One reader asks what the payback, or ROI is for space exploration. That seems a little short sighted. As we all know, there is a huge payback on basic research that appears years after the initial investment is made. For example, from research done in the 60's and 70's, we have cell phones, GPS, micro-electronics that enables a fantastic array of hand held products, and amazing medical technology that has saved lives and relieved human suffering. During the Apollo program the 60's, some people asked pretty much the same question: "Why waste money on space exploration when there are so many problems here on earth to solve. We need to feed the poor instead". So, in response, congress cut back on basic R&D funding (including NASAs space program) and set about solving these problems. From this effort, we got "the great society" and "the war on poverty". After spending more than 6 trillion dollars on poverty programs, the ROI seems to be a government that is bigger, more intrusive and more expensive then ever, the welfare state, a higher crime rate than the 60's, and the poor don't seem to be much better off. One can't help but wonder what would have happened if the gov't had put all those trillions into basic research instead. What amazing medical advances would be coming online today? Yes, we should help the poor, but for every tax dollar you give the gov't, only about 3 cents goes to NASA. You could completely eliminate NASA, and it would make NO difference in the state of the poor. But the payback from the basic research NASA and others do has a positive effect for all of us years down the road. So to say why bother with space exploration seems rather short sighted.

aquitaine
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re: Do we still have the patience and stamina for deep-space missions?
aquitaine   8/3/2010 11:59:07 PM
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Why don't we just admit that we the people dont care about space exploration anymore?

Silicon_Smith
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re: Do we still have the patience and stamina for deep-space missions?
Silicon_Smith   8/3/2010 6:29:48 PM
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I agree that advanced communications technology found motivation through the space initiatives and the labs working for space missions provide breakthroughs in technology, but that should not justify it. Especially, the endeavors for manned missions. As Feynman said, hardly any breakthroughs are expected through such investment. Relatively, yes you could justify it as just another research investment and NASA has been 'educating' the public about the profitability and economic returns, but taking a step back and viewing it from a geo-political standpoint, it still appears that the inspiration and agenda for space programs of the nations is strategic/military advantage. The mandating people, mostly unaware of the cost-benefit analysis, like the idea of space as it appeals to their imagination!!

Neo10
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re: Do we still have the patience and stamina for deep-space missions?
Neo10   8/3/2010 2:24:01 AM
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All apart it's inherent in our being that quest for the unknown and if we are human we should respect that.

pixies
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re: Do we still have the patience and stamina for deep-space missions?
pixies   8/2/2010 9:28:11 PM
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On the other hand, a decades long project provides job security that can not be matched by the treacherous ups-and-downs of the corporate world. Many engineers may be attracted to that. Also, there were moments I have taken pride in achieving cool results only using primitive tools.

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