SPACE/IDEA FUTURES: Is the Pluto Mission a silly idea?

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sun Dec 02 2001 - 17:42:19 MST

NASA has selected a proposal for the design study phase
of the Pluto-Kuiper Belt Mission.

Slashdot discussion:
CNN background:

Now here is the rub. It isn't supposed to get there until 2020.

Now, *if*, and I realize its a big if, we get lucky and get real
diamondoid nanoassembly sometime between 2005 and 2010 it seems
likely that all the stops will get get pulled out on nanomachinery
and nanorobot development (we are probably talking $50-$100 billion
a year in VC money). If that develops relatively rapidly then
you might actually begin to see space-based nanorobots that
can disassemble Mercury in short order and make a significant
fraction of the Sun's power available to launch probes to (or even
dismantle Pluto). So two interesting idea futures
( would be:

a) Pluto will no longer exist as a "planet" when the Pluto-Kuiper belt
   probe launched around 2006 reaches there in 2020.
b) A probe, based on nanotechnology and/or using nanotechnology based
   launch facilities, launched sometime after 2010, will reach Pluto
   before the Pluto-Kuiper belt probe in 2020.

>From where I sit right now I don't think its likely that
these will occur. But if the singularity is ramping faster
than it feels to me right now (which by definition is probably
true) then I could be wrong.

Someone should start a contract on Human-Animal chimera by 2005
since that seems to have been off the radar too...


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