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View Diary: Tito 2018 Mars Mission Update: Good News & Bad News (116 comments)

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  •  The voyages of Marco Polo were a stunt. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pistolSO, groversald, Wino

    Magellan - stunt.
    Columbus - stunt.
    Lindbergh - stunt.
    Yeager - stunt.
    Gagarin - stunt.
    Armstrong - stunt.

    Most of the things that weren't stunts aren't remembered, because most of them were irrelevant and broke no new ground.  Hell, you can take it into any domain you want: The first personal computer was a virtually useless stunt prop that was attractive mainly for the novelty of having a computer sitting in your house even if it didn't do anything.  The first automobiles were impractical, dirty, dangerous, useless contraptions that no one in their right minds would choose over a trusty horse.  

    Institutional-minded people don't break new ground.  It takes radicals who scheme and push before the bean counters will allow anything new to happen, or else private citizens with resources who care more about what their money can buy than in just making more of it.

    How can it be a "free" market if you're forced to work for it?

    by Troubadour on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 02:37:56 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Most of the things you mention were not merely (0+ / 0-)

      stunts. They had some pretty clear concept of underlying value behind them. Columbus was actually trying to find a shorter, better trade route. Magellan finally nailed down a practical route for circumnavigation. The technologies these and most of the other explorers you mention were using were also at a level of maturity where the tests they did could lead to some pretty clear and almost immediate further development and those, in turn, could lead to some pretty wide-spread benefit. That may or may not be the case here.

      But, please understand this. The trade off I am talking about here is not to never do stunts and never innovate on the one hand and only do slow, methodically scientific research and have no excitement on the other hand. But, setting the world record for sitting on top of a flag pole for the longest time is not the same as setting world records the they are doing at the International Space Station right now. They may have just collected some data that will lead to an understanding of dark matter. They can point to many accomplishments and development on that project. So, I'm just saying we need to take a thoughtful approach to some of our exploration goals to make sure they are more than just stunts.

      Of all the things you list above, I think the moon landing is becoming a misused model for exploration. Such an approach may get things going, but landing a person there in and of itself and then not knowing what to do next is not the best approach. Unfortunately, some people seem to think we should repeat the same kind of pattern over and over and call that progress. We need to think about WHY we are doing these, HOW we are doing them, and sometimes even IF we should do them. If I see people asking these questions, I will support their efforts. If I see people not thinking deeply, I will criticize them. If that makes me sound like a killjoy, then so be it.  

      Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

      by tekno2600 on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 03:12:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The ultimate personal goal may simply be ... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tekno2600, Roger Fox, Troubadour

        to get names in history books.

        "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

        by Neuroptimalian on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 04:43:06 PM PST

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        •  Yes. I suspect that may be the main reason: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Neuroptimalian

          Performing a stunt; getting in the record books. However, I would also bet that some better modeling of radiation exposure would show there are some considerable risks and that some significant new technologies might be required to mitigate this. I am all for testing those technologies in a responsible way. But, I worry that corners may be cut and some people may be put at unnecessary risk if they rush to meet quick deadlines and avoid new technologies in the name of speed.

          Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

          by tekno2600 on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 06:19:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  So? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Troubadour, Roger Fox

            Do you sit at home worrying that "corners may be cut and some people may be put at unnecessary risk" in the wide variety of human endeavors which routinely do cut corners and put people at unnecessary risk, such as auto racing, air shows, etc?

            Many people die every year during such "stunts" and I don't see you grandstanding on blogs with your heart aflutter.  And despite what you think, those types of high risk activities that you might label "stunts" often do push forward technology in useful ways.

            Any mission this complex will necessarily improve our engineering knowledge about long duration spaceflight.  The systems will either work or they will not, and either way we will learn lessons.  

            It's all well and good to wish for more testing and development, but who is ever going to fund a multi year trip to nowhere?  Companies don't invest tens of millions of sponsorship dollars in NASCAR teams because they are working on riskless demonstrations of automotive safety technology.

            •  We are not necessarily disagreeing as much as you (0+ / 0-)

              seem to think. I said it would be great to test technologies like this. Part of what seems strange to me about the mission, however, is that it doesn't seem to be focusing on technology development, or specific research. It seems to be saying that it will not use any new technology that might slow it down. It is primarily focused on performing a specific stunt.

              Testing some of these technologies would probably be much more effective and affordable to do on Earth first. There could be many applications for this. I don't think that doing risky stunts is our only chance to test these technologies.

              I think there is a good reason why most companies do not spend millions or billions funding "multi-year trips to nowhere," as you put it. I am surprised sometimes that eccentric rich people get praised for doing exactly this, without necessarily thinking through the process very well.

              Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

              by tekno2600 on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 09:12:39 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Except those were largely rationalizations (0+ / 0-)

        rather than actual, rigorous plans.  Magellan didn't develop a practical anything - he half-blindly groped his way around the world, and his main contribution was simply to prove that it could be done.  The same went for Columbus with respect to crossing the Atlantic, even though he thought he was arriving in Asia.  Sure, they brought stuff back, but their missions were hardly the most efficient way of doing that.

        Part of this is just Dennis Tito singing himself a swan song because he's now in his 70s and wants to see something dramatic occur in human spaceflight.  And the world will benefit one way or another, there is no question of that.  It's a much bigger bang for the buck for the human species than endowing a research grant or a hospital, even if the mission never happens.  

        The biggest barrier to space is not technical or even financial - it's psychological: We build $2 billion football stadiums on a routine basis without asking a single question, but would endlessly question and belittle half of that for efforts that expand humanity's future.  No matter what paper studies and unmanned probes say, no one will actually understand that we can actually do things like this (let alone more ambitious efforts) until we actually do them.  And, unfortunately for Apollo, the psychological benefits of such daring have an expiration date if they're not followed-up.  The current generations need a similar event.

        How can it be a "free" market if you're forced to work for it?

        by Troubadour on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 11:33:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Columbus got seriously lucky (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour, terrypinder

      He was trying to circumnavigate the globe and make his way to India via the back door.

      Great idea, but he miscalculated the size of the earth by roughly half.

      If there hadn't been another continent in his way he'd have been known as "the guy who sailed west, ran out of food and starved to death".

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 06:45:37 PM PST

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      •  And if he'd never tried (0+ / 0-)

        but instead focused on a more practical expedition, we might not have learned about these two huge, lush continents until the freaking 18th century.  There would now just be a handful of cities here and there, with totally different cultural makeup and political status.

        How can it be a "free" market if you're forced to work for it?

        by Troubadour on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 11:37:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Tito is drawing a line in the sand (0+ / 0-)

          It establishes the Mars fly by (assuming it is successful) as the benchmark. And it may well get people watching spaceflight on TV again, which is key.

          SO the next batter up, has to do better than a fly by.

          ...... Social Security blogathon March 25th thru March 29th. #HandsOffmySS FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 03:30:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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