Below is a commentary from the New York Times. I thought this would be a good way to start this discussion off!



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Here Here!! I second that statement. In fact I have made the same statement here and there on the Nexus. However I think we can still make large leaps forward without a unified world. There are now many nations who participate.
If you think about the race to the moon...that's exactly what it was...a race! A very tight race that began with the Soviets being the very first country to launch a satellite into orbit in 1957. Four months later, we (US) got a satellite up there too. The Soviets were also the first to get an animal and a human into space. Since the US was in the Cold War with Russia, it was important for us to top their accomplishments before they could remain being the head of the space exploration frontier.

If it weren't for the Cold War, the outright competition, we wouldn't have put anyone on the moon in such little time. It unnerves me to think that this huge accomplishment was politically inspired, and that's why is was done so quickly. I know for the scientists, it was discovery...but imagine those scientists pushing for discovery today. The time line of NASA's space-faring projects is too long and not funded enough.

What will it take to light a fire under people's asses?! NASA just doesn't have the support that it used to have.

In summary, we wouldn't have gotten to the moon if it weren't for outright competition.
In addition, I wonder if anyone on this site thinks that the US moon landing was a hoax. I know they're out there...
O please lets not go there! i havent come across any of those nut jobs in the Nexus. And I dont want to.
Yes it is unnerving that it took the cold war to get us to the moon. Even then there were opponents (see Walter Mondale). And once it was done it was DONE! Money dried up, every thing became "probes" and low earth orbit. Mean while billions were spent in Vietnam and fifty-six thousand lives were wasted.
The lack of money is why we must skip the moon, we dont need NASAs bloated plan. We dont have funding for it. What technology do we require that we havent had for sometime?? I ask that question not rhetorically but seriously? I want to know.
The biggest issue that comes to mind is how do we equip the astronauts with ample protection from cosmic rays and ion beams on any trip into space, not only going to Mars? Mars is a curious thing however because it is lacking a magnetosphere, which would be very useful for any type of Mars colonization.

The astronauts on the ISS spend roughly about 6 months during their tours into space. They would be the best candidates to see how cosmic rays impact the human physiology. Especially because we cannot recreate cosmic rays here on Earth and see how they impact/effect living tissues. But such radiation will mutate the cells, and depending on the dose of radiation, this could take minutes, hours, or years.

Since cosmic rays penetrate from every direction, not just in a straight path from the sun, any Mars-bound spaceship carrying humans would need it's own magnetic field. I'm not sure technology wise how effective we are in achieving this. Also, once on Mars, you are still not safe, because the lack of magnetic field will not deflect the cosmic rays and ion beams. So leaving your little Mars hut for a little Mars dig would prove dangerous as well. The radiation issue is a comprehensive one that remains problematic in all stages of a Mars mission.
Yes - an efficient, portable magnetic field generator would be mandatory, even once on Mars. Luckily, solar power is more accessible in space and, in some ways (since it is based on light - not heat) on the surface of Mars as well.

Another issue that must be addressed is the loss of bone density and muscle mass of the astronauts. Medications (based on those used for osteoporosis?) and diet along with rigorous exercise in a centrifugal chamber may help mitigate this.
I think if we are going to make progress as a species we have to collaborate ... period. Space exploration/exploitation offers an avenue for that.

But effective collaboration does not exclude competition - it incorporates it by putting it in a more productive perspective. The trick is to maintain some level of intellectual property rights while avoiding duplication of effort. Medical research efforts have made some advances in this arena. John Nash's game theory work (A Beautiful Mind) is about this.

I have a friend who does cancer research. The company that develops a cure needs to profit from their product - or why spend so much frikkin' money? Partly, because that money is invested from a non-profit source/motive. But, in the end, competition remains a strong motivator for rapid advancement. On the other hand, my friend's research is tedious and repetitive and there are about 25 people looking at the same small piece of the puzzle. If they can share info and, thereby, effort, valid data is verified and collated much more rapidly.

It is in the innovative approaches to applicable solutions based on the data that the competition remains steep. This is cool. So, say Virgin Galactic does a better job of getting people into orbit but Galactic Suite does a better job of getting habitat built in orbit. And yet, some other company creates better training systems, etc. Meanwhile, there are so many secondary and tertiary technologies and production companies involved - you see my point.

In the end, I think space needs to be a commercial venture as much or more than some grandiose collective vision of humanity that we should do space for space's sake.
It is indeed a sad world where corporations are much more powerful than the government. There is little distinction anymore. Both the government and businesses are willing to jeopardize civilian lives to save a buck, or for political gain. Reminds me of the US citizens tortured and killed by the CIA, who were trying to discover methods of mind control or interrogation. The cold war may have been what got us to the moon, but don't forget how many were injured or killed in the process. Also keep in mind that corporate control over space may have you agreeing to a EULA for space travel. I don't think I'd like having to sign a disclaimer to get into space. It's very unfortunate that it will come down to a "lesser of two evils" choice.
Most Governments ARE corporations - and to some extent, all large, economically powerful organizations (especially those with police and military capabilities - public or private) resemble protection rackets.

It is the degree of transparency the operate under, the culture disposition of their clients, and the amount of actual competition involved that keeps these organizations both 'honest' and 'productive' under the scrutiny of educated populations - whether they are governments or corporations.
I'm not so sure about competition leading to honesty and productivity. In fact, it people might be so eager to out-compete each other, they could make un-called-for gambles with people's lives. My insurance company is competing with others, but they still have a bad habit of refusing to pay for my medications and making excuses.
Competition doesn't lead to honesty - that's why I used quotes. However, transparency in a commercial environment leads to PR initiatives that can often lead to an increase in safety - such as the Tylenol safety seal and many safety innovations in the automotive industry.

I guarantee that the Toyota problems are a result of complexity that likely plagues the entire industry and Ford, Honda, Chevy, etc. are all looking real hard at their own electronic systems tight now.

There's a saying in Switzerland - the safest chairlift will be found at the ski resort that dropped one last season.
"I definitely think if we are going to make progress as a spacefaring species we have to collaborate and stop trying to compete with each other."

I would like to say that I wholeheartedly agree part of me realizes that we owe many of our technological advances, throughout history, to conflict and competition. The military industrial complex is self-serving but we are not without debt to it. One might argue that it is simply a matter of speed of progress but another could counter-argue that completely peaceful societies are difficult to prod into supporting big expensive projects when they would rather spend their resources on luxury.


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