Ted Barnes

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What's the next step in space exploration?

We now have a vague idea of the vastness of the universe. Space exploration seems to not be a hot topic anymore and as we continue to fight each other and grovel over how broke we all are, we forget just how tiny we really are. So let's pretend countries weren't toppling left and right and people didn't give a rat's ass about money. Let's assume we all realized we are humans cut from the same cloth and our main goal was to seek out new life. Star Trek but without first contact being the catalyst. As our technology stands today, what is the next step?

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    Apr 12 2011: First and foremost, promote commercial space! aside from the public exposure, economic, scientific and plain old fun reasons to commercialize space, it can help remove the onus of human spaceflight from NASA's shoulders.

    Not to say that NASA should give up all human flight. It seems that there are three main areas of NASA: Scientific research (including atmospheric), robotic exploration, and human exploration. The second thing I think should happen is a refocusing of NASA's direction. Center the research on the ISS, and fold robot and human into one exploration venture. If you need some metallurgy done, head to the ISS. Wanna explore Mars? Send 'bots first, then humans. If NASA doesn't feel that it has to be the one to maintain a Human presence in space then it can focus on the best way to pursue it's goals, regardless of whether or not any astronauts are actually in space. Once we have done that it will be a lot easier to decide - Moon, Mars, asteroid.

    Third, invigorate the citizen-scientist movement.

    As for technology, focus on plasma rockets (or tech with similar capabilities) and closed loop systems. Knowing how to create a self-sustaining system would help both Humans and machines do long term exploration, and we'll need the engines to get them there.
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      Apr 12 2011: good answer!
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        Apr 16 2011: Thank you! What do you think is our next step, and did you ever see that show way back in the day on Discovery called 'The Next Step"? Sorry, that last bit isn't really related, but I liked the show.
  • Apr 11 2011: I think that we should realize that the moon is the orbital equivalent of a deep water port and that the commercial exploitation of space, asteroid mining, and energy production begins there. If there is a buck a yen or a ruble in it they will come. You have to walk before you can run so I think we need to master travelling in our own solar system before we think about moving on to the next.