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Answers #4 [Apr. 15th, 2006|09:20 pm]

This is a response from my open questions post.

What do you think about the prospct that China wants to get to Mars first?

I think it's great. Space exploration is a good thing in principle (for scientific discovery, economic side effects, and bolstering the collective human spirit). The fact that China is making such bold strides also has the possibility of propeling our own semi-stalled space program forwards.

There's been a lot of talk about expanding the U.S. space effort (i.e. Dubya's space initiative a few years ago) but very little action (this year's federal budget CUT funding for space ventures). The threat of real competition, where another nation would publicly surpass us, is a powerful motivator. Americans, as a populace, are self-important and proud.* We don't want to see someone else do something better than we can!

I think that this may ultimately help to secure the funding necessary for us to build a next-generation space vehicle in order to prove that we still play a viable role in human spaceflight. And, most importantly, kudos to China for dedicating themselves to extending our species beyond this planet; I wish them well.

* Not you, though. I meant other people. You know, just generally.

[User Picture]From: bosn
2006-04-16 01:56 pm (UTC)
It costs around $10,000 bucks per pound to get our junk into space. Both America and China is better off spending there money on fixing the rock were on now. Educating our youth should be the great adventure we invest in. Mars will still be there.
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2006-04-18 06:23 pm (UTC)
True. And if we do nothing but place satelites in orbit, which is a well-worn path, we are limiting the return on investment.

But if we push farther, we may gain considerably more than our $10K/lb. There's science (general knowledge, offshoot product development) as well as potential resources (He3 for power, mineral resources, metal ores, etc.). Space expenditure also helps the private sector, since a large slice of that money is going to construction contractors and research labs here on the ground.

Besides, the portion of the national budget currently devoted to space is miniscule compared to what's being spent in other areas. I agree that we should spend more on education and social welfare; but I also think there are better places to pull that money from.
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