Saturday, January 20, 2007

Repost: Apollo 13 & Space Colonization

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Mike and I watched Apollo 13 on TV last night. The main plot is gripping and they didn't even go into 1/10th of the crises that had to be solved to keep these guys alive. For example, the computer in the landing module didn't know about stellar navigation. It only knew about landing on the moon. So it wasn't the easy transfer that they showed in the movie. They had to do the equivalent of programming one of today's digital cameras to get them home.

What really hit me watching it through this time is just how badly NASA blew it. In the 16th century, explorers who came to the new world journeyed longer, had a higher percentage of deaths and had a more unpredictable environment (i.e. native people, bears, ...) than will ever be on the moon. Oh, and a trip to the moon costs less.

There are plenty of people that would colonize the moon given a chance. If we could get a craft to the moon and back seven years after being asked what we could do for our country, then we can certainly get a thriving moon colony is less time.

I guess nobody could really articulate WHY we should do this. For the new world, it was really furs that made it economically feasible. For space we have minerals and perfect ball bearings. Actually, these are better than furs.

So if there is a profit motive, why did it take business so long to reach for the stars? I think some of that is because NASA so "owned" going to space. That space belonged to the US after we won the space race. It wasn't until lots of other countries got there that it began to dawn on people that anybody could go! If one of NASA's missions had been to empower business then we would live in a very different world, and I'm not just talking about Tang.

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