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posted by cmn32480 on Sunday January 24 2016, @12:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the time-to-invent-the-Botany-Bay dept.

The recent demonstrations of successful rocket recovery by Blue Origin and SpaceX herald a new era of space exploration and development. We can expect, as rocket stages routinely return for reuse from the fringes of space, that the cost of space travel will fall dramatically.

Some in the astronautics community would like to settle the Moon; others have their eyes set on Mars. Many would rather commit to the construction of solar power satellites, efforts to mine and/or divert Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs), or construct enormous cities in space such as the O'Neill Lagrange Point colonies.

But before we can begin any or all of these endeavors, we need to answer some fundamental questions regarding human life beyond the confines of our home planet. Will humans thrive under lunar or martian gravity? Can children be conceived in extraterrestrial environments? What is the safe threshold for human exposure to high-Z galactic cosmic rays (GCRs)?

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Sunday January 24 2016, @05:51PM

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 24 2016, @05:51PM (#294012) Journal

    That is pretty silly, really. The shuttles completed quite a number of missions before suffering a loss, and a number more missions after. Now, I'm not going to waste time defending the space shuttle program, because I disapproved of it from the minute I heard of it. The whole idea of a space jeep replacing deeper space missions was repulsive to me. The shuttles were overhyped, overly expensive, and ultimately proven to be not as reliable as hoped. Despite all of that, they added value to the space program.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 25 2016, @02:49AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 25 2016, @02:49AM (#294189)

    OK, I'll rephrase: The space shuttle was not usable without unacceptable loss of life. Therefore it was retired. Reusability doesn't factor into that statement.

    Call me flamebait, but it's true.

  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday January 25 2016, @02:49PM

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday January 25 2016, @02:49PM (#294345)

    The only thing I "hate" the shuttle for is sucking up the entire US manned space program for 30 years. It was a good ship, yes with problems - and perhaps the Russians have done it (space taxi) better with the Souyz, though I remember more than one "hard landing" for those - at least the crews survived those mishaps.

    Being the single manned program, every time people got into panic mode it put major shocks through the East Coast Florida economy. I'm glad we're moving on, but wish we could have seen fit to develop and deploy the "next big thing" before retiring the shuttle.

    Precision powered landing recovery is a nice step forward, something the 1950s sci-fi flicks all assumed we would be doing, it's a good path to pursue, but I'm not sure it will be the single best path for lowest cost of operations. For that, we really should be looking toward the space elevator, but again, not abandoning all other programs in the meantime while we work out the presently impossible aspects of that scheme.

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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 26 2016, @08:04AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 26 2016, @08:04AM (#294835)

      Buran didn't need a crew. Still, the soviets only saw fit to fly it once.