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Commercialisation of Space


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#1    Saru

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Posted 08 May 2003 - 10:34 AM

                                                  The commercialisation of space - a good thing, or a bad thing ?

Lets say in 10-20 years from now, a commercially viable 'factory' could produce certain goods in space, where the weightless environment would benefit the manufacturing process. Companies would invest in new space related technologies, competing to improve their systems and decrease the cost of producing such goods in orbit.

Such commericialisation of space, along with possible 'Space tourism', could hugely advance the space program in the future. If it was commercially viable for companies to build and invest in new launch vehicles for example, the process of advancement in that area would increase tenfold.

But could it eventually become a bad thing ? Lets say 50 years down the line there are hundreds of space 'factories'. There could be pollution related issues to contend with, masses of space debris, fears of companies using Nuclear energy for example to power their systems. Would we end up surrounded by a junkyard of obselete vehicles and stations ?

Would such commercialisation of space be the best and quickest way forward, or would we better with government funded bodies such as NASA, slowly but surely progressing over a much greater stretch of time ?
                                                  


#2    CASTOR

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Posted 08 May 2003 - 02:15 PM

                                                  i would like to think i 50 years when i am 70 i could still look up into the sky and see the stars. does anyone else enjoy just laying on a blanket in an open field and looking up. i am to guess the people that want to do these "space factories" dont. I think my favorite memory is of this summer, on the beach. the sun had gone down, and the moon was huge. it had the rings around it, and i could see all the stars.  biggrin.gif  there were no lights from a city to dull the sky. it was soooo clear. in that moment, i changed the way i think and feel. the way i talk to people, the way i act.... had there been a big smoking factory in the sky at that time, i wouldnt have got that wonderful memory. but, its not my call. they are not going to ask me about it. in 50 years, the gov. will do what they want by tricking americans into thinking that it is the right, and only way to do things. if you would all raise your glasses... i would like to make a toast. "This drink is for looking into the future and wishing for the past."

CASTOR                                                  

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#3    Homer

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Posted 08 May 2003 - 03:49 PM

                                                  I like the way you think CASTOR smile.gif

I love to look at the stars. Lying on your back on a cool clear night, it’s quite beautiful. And to watch the stars with my darlin’ laying next to me, is simply amazing wub.gif  wub.gif

Since “progress” has destroyed the beauty of many forests and lakes and many other beautiful things this world has, why should it stop for space? If/when space becomes commercialized, it would have to be strictly regulated. Like aircraft, these various space equipment would have to be assigned it’s own ‘altitude’ or 'orbit' to prevent too much congestion.

Quality teams and random audits would have to ensure regulations are being adhered to, and violators should be shut down without a second chance.

As far as the build up of space junk, it should be a requirement that all incoming and outgoing materials should be accounted for, and that each company is required to dispose of their own junk, whether it be recycling or contracting the disposal to another company. Proof of disposal should be presented to the regulators on an annual or semi-annual basis. Any unaccounted material would result in the company’s space project being shut down, with no second chance.

Whether or not I think it’s a good thing depends on where we are in space exploration. As permanently manned stations moves further into space, space factories might be a necessity. However, I think it would be more realistic to have these factories on the moon or something, and not just floating in space.

My two cents




                                                  

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#4    CASTOR

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Posted 08 May 2003 - 05:26 PM

                                                  i think we are on the same plane Homer. and think about this, what if one of these factories or whatever they are going to put up there starts to fall out of the sky. it would kill millions if it falls in a city. i dont know. it just seems a little more like a risk than a help. i like Homer's idea of the factories on the moon. that would do it. anyway, thats just me. like i said before, they are not going to ask me.

CASTOR                                                  

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#5    Bizarro

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Posted 08 May 2003 - 05:28 PM

                                                  i agree with you guys about enjoying looking at the stars.  we've screwed the Earth up enough already, can't we leave space alone?  we don't know what type of irreparable harm we could do to the atmosphere or even the immediate Earth orbit area.  think of all the space debris up there already, it makes for a very dangerous situation when you are in a spacecraft, and i don't think factories would help.  i also don't believe we've found the ideal technology for getting to space yet, either.  rockets are environmentally unfriendly and very dangerous, surely with some research we could come up with a better way.  

here is a good example why i think factories would suck:  every year ive gone on vacation to a place called Ft. Morgan on the Gulf coast.  its at the tip of a peninsula just near where Mobile Bay meets the Gulf.   the beauty of it is that there is no hotels, no stores, not much of anything other than beach houses and the purest white sand you've ever seen.  i love the seclusion of it and you can still see all the stars at night there because its so far from anyplace.  

only one thing that ruins that beautiful place.... oil rigs offshore in the distance.  ive learned to look around them and pretend not to notice them but why on God's green Earth would someone put an oil rig right off the coast of a purely natural place like this?  i know that there was debate recently about Florida getting oil rigs (which they declined) and i have to say i wish Alabama would have declined them as well.  sure, oil is a necessary resource, but why deny hotels the right to ruin the natural setting if you are going to let an oil rig be an eyesore?   that would pretty much sum up why i think factories in space would be a bad idea as well.                                                    

if there was a meteor,
adrift amongst space,
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#6    Saru

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Posted 08 May 2003 - 05:47 PM

                                                  I agree, I think it would be terrible if excess amounts of space debris actually obscured our view of the stars.

I think Homer's idea of registering rubbish disposal would go a long way to stopping that ever happening, if indeed we do ever do end up with a field of factories in orbit around us.

Unfortunately though, I doubt it would ever be possible to account for every piece of rubbish in orbit. It would still build up over time, and to all intents and purposes that has already begun.                                                  


#7    albaqwerty

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Posted 08 May 2003 - 06:26 PM

                                                  i think you guys have hit the nail on the head, so to speak.  If humankind has learnt anything from the damage that has been done to the Earth, I think it is time to leave Space alone until such times as any debris can be safely disposed of. We can't do that on Earth yet!

Recently Italy's satellite (?) crashing to Earth putting 39 countries on alert.. and so on... what would it be like with a lot of factories up there?
albeit , that is the now and not 20-50 years down the line.

Castor, I too like your thinking!
                                                  

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#8    Space Moose

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Posted 08 May 2003 - 08:07 PM

                                                  I don't think that there is much chance of cluttering up the space around earth to a point where stars become invisible.  Since we have covered no where near the total surface of the earth, it would be incorrect to think that in a number of years as few as 50 we could manage to fill up the entire sky.

To start, there would not be enough raw materials on earth to come anywhere close to accomplishing this.  Secondly, the costs associated with such a project would be unfathomably high.  Third, the total market for space industry is probably not all that large to begin with to ever pose a problem.

As it is, industry is more or less free to head on into space whenever they feel like it, but they don't since it is so expensive.  Unless profit margins would be better in space than they would on earth, there is not going to be a large exodus into space.

As for safety concerns, those are certianly real.  Sure there could be the problem of factories or whatnot returning to earth in a tragic incident, but it is not like companies would strive to have this happen.  Facroties need people in them and thus would be monitored in some way.  There is probably a small chance of an object like this going astray and slamming into the planet.
                                                  


#9    CASTOR

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Posted 09 May 2003 - 01:55 AM

                                                  Space Moose, do you really want to look up in the sky and see something like that. crossing in the suns path every once in a while. i dont think we could ever cover the sky, but just one would suck. as for it falling to earth, i think the chances are very good. think about all the plane crashes and rockets exploding and stuff like that. human error is the cause of almost every accident and humans will be running these things. im not saying that we dont do things really well, but there are a lot of mishaps that shouldnt happen.

CASTOR                                                  

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#10    Space Moose

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Posted 09 May 2003 - 03:29 AM

                                                  Castor, the thing is that factories are big, but they are really, really, really small when compared to the sun.  Consider SkyLab or Mir or the Internaltional Space Station - while certianly smaller than an entire factory, there is no blotting out of the sun when one passes overhead.  Can you find them with a telescope, sure... but not unless you happen to know where to look.

The difference with things falling to earth is these things would be unexpliciabally expensive to build and with a group of incestors taking a huge risk putting a factory into space, all attempts will be made to keep these things up there.  One accident is surely financial ruin for anyone it happens to.  Your assertation that it is a "very good" chance seems to indicate that you think very lowly of the engineers that the universities of the world produce.  I have far more confidence in them being able to keep an object in orbit.  

Furthermore, such a thing would have several layers of redundance and ultimately would need some sort of self-destruct mechanism.  The liability issues would be so large in an accident that the costs of installing a system like this is sure to save money in the long run.

Just to touch back to the first issue and your specific question of would I like to see that.  Yes, I would.  Something like a space installation shows progress, and that is what we are all about.  200 years ago the people of the world would have thought it a terrible thing to have large scyscraper and industrial parks scattered about, but those things have brought us where we are today.  I think turning our back on progress is one of the worst things that we, as a species, could ever do.                                                    


#11    Homer

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Posted 09 May 2003 - 03:51 AM

                                                  SM,
Nobody is suggesting that these space debris will block out the sun and stars, but that they would be an unpleasant site. Like DS's analogy, the oil rigs off the gulf coast didn't prevent him from enjoying the view, but it would have been a much better view had the rigs not been there.

Many of these factories would be viewable with the unaided eye, as the ISS is also visible with the unaided eye. Granted, the ISS wouldn't prevent someone from enjoying the stars, but imagine if there were 100's of them. Factories would also be much larger, as you yourself have mentioned, and in my opinion, seeing these objects in space would make a night of star gazing never be the same as it used to be.                                                  

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