SPACE: Economic Role for Manned Space Stations (fwd)

Robert J. Bradbury (
Wed, 28 Jul 1999 08:08:46 -0700 (PDT)

> Chris Fedeli <> wrote:

> I think part of this comes from the increased
> knowledge we have about our universe today. 30 years ago
> many people still thought there might be intelligent life on
> mars.

I'm sorry, but in 1969, it was generally accepted that life *did not* exist on Mars. It is *more* accepted today, by microbiologists, etc. that life (as bacteria) might still exist on Mars.

> Now we've used our telescopes to explore the deep reaches of
> space and have found it to be incredibly vast and . . . boring.

Vast yes, Boring NOT!
- 90% of the mass is missing...
- An estimated 400 billion objects with masses 0.3-0.5 Msun orbit our galaxy -- and we can't see them.
- The halo from our galaxy emits a gamma-ray glow -- from what? - Examinations of nearby galaxies show them to giving off lots of infrared radiation and suffer form a shortage of visible stars. - The expansion rate of the universe appears to be changing requiring changes in the fundamental equations on which the universe is based (or astroengineering by emerging civilizations).

> The final frontier for the post-October Sky generation is
> the mind, not space. Neuroscience, psychology, AI and the
> like are the fields that capture the imaginations of the
> adventurors who want to explore unknown territory. The
> computer and psychaitry industries are already worth
> billions of dollars with tremendous growth prospects.

The semiconductor industry (a partial subset of the computer industry) is ~$200 billion/yr and can't be touched by the psychiatry industry.

The "frontiers" are always those areas that you can expand into until there are diminishing returns. So we expanded across the planet until gravity made "space" very expensive. We now are move to the smaller scale until we hit the limits of atomic scale engineering (atoms -> electrons -> photons; nuclei or smaller are very iffy). Once this is done we will combine it with megascale engineering until we reach the point of diminishing returns imposed by speed-of-light restrictions.

> From a social welfare perspective, nano and biotech should probably
> be a higher priority than space exploration.

Even if you leave social welfare out of the equation, if people *really* wanted space exploration, the would realize that rapid nanotech development is the cheapest way to get there.