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New method for protecting astronauts would make trip to Mars much safer

Man has been to the moon and so far the relatively short jaunt to our satellite has been as far as man has ventured from our own planet. Since the 60's when U.S. astronauts landed on the moon, many have dreamed of sending manned missions to Mars.

Aside from the not inconsequential need for a spaceship capable of making the 18-month journey and being able to supply the astronauts with food and water, other major obstacles to going to Mars are standing in the way of exploration.

team of British researchers believes that they have defeated one of the major obstacles to the journey: solar storms. The Earth is protected from deadly solar storms by its magnetosphere, which deflects the radioactive particles produced in the storm.

When a spacecraft travels beyond the protective magnetosphere, it is subject to the destructive power of these storms that scientists claim can pop-up quickly and pose severe risk to instruments on the spacecraft and the lives of the astronauts in the spacecraft.

Professor Bob Bingham from the University of Strathclyde told the U.K. newspaper Telegraph, "Solar storms or winds are one of the greatest dangers of deep space travel. If you got hit by one not only would it take out the electronics of a ship but the astronauts would soon take on the appearance of an overcooked pizza. It would be a bit like being near the Hiroshima blast. Your skin would blister, hair and teeth fall out and before long your internal organs would fail. It is not a very nice way to go."

The system Bingham and other researchers developed creates a mini magnetosphere around the spacecraft. The team says that the theory has been tested in the lab on a scale model and provides almost total protection to the ship and occupants inside the vessel.

Designing a mini magnetosphere had previously been dismissed as impossible due to the large amount of equipment and power deemed necessary to create the protective bubble. The researchers were able to develop a prototype system that in its final form would be about the size of a merry-go-round on a playground and require as much energy to operate as a kettle.

Scientists see the system being comprised of two mini magnetosphere-generating satellites housed in outriders in front of the spacecraft. The artificial magnetosphere would not run at all times and would only be fired up when a solar storm was detected.

Another researcher on the project, Dr. Ruth Bamford said, "These initial experiments have shown promise and that it may be possible to shield astronauts from deadly space weather."

Apollo astronauts didn’t have to contend with solar storms during the moon missions. However, some scientists say that on the 18-month trek to Mars astronauts would definitely be exposed to a solar storm. Both the ESA and NASA are planning manned Mars missions by 2050 and say that space weather is the greatest obstacle to deep space travel.

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Less Than 18 Months
By SpaceJumper on 11/5/2008 7:29:39 AM , Rating: 1
Using the VASIMR rocket, manned mission to Mars will be around 39 days and will be protected by the magnetic fields generated by the rocket.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 11/5/2008 8:07:31 AM , Rating: 1
Yea, the 18 month figure is based on the slow and steady pace we sometimes use for probes. I believe most current probes and rovers actually take around 9-10 months though.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By randomly on 11/5/2008 9:16:50 AM , Rating: 5
It's referring to the minimum energy Hohmann transfer orbit from earth to mars which takes about 9 months. There and back is what makes up the 18 month travel time.

Using a Hohmann transfer orbit maximizes the amount of mass that can reach mars with a given size rocket.

The 39 day number with a VASIMR engine requires 200 Megawatts of electric power, which means a reactor with roughly 1 Billion watts of thermal output. That's about 1/5 of what a typical Nuclear power generating plant puts out. You're talking a very big spacecraft.

A more plausible number is a 4 month transit time (8 months roundtrip) with a 12 Megawatt reactor which might be within the capability to assemble with the ARES V lift vehicle (188 mT to LEO).

A high power space capable reactor would still need to be developed to make VASIMIR useful outside of LEO.

There is little chance I'll see a manned mars mission in my lifetime. Not before 2050 and probably considerably after that.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By FITCamaro on 11/5/08, Rating: -1
RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Gzus666 on 11/5/2008 9:38:14 AM , Rating: 1
Yea, but weight is a factor when trying to leave Earth's atmosphere. Extra weight means more fuel and stronger rockets to try to leave the atmosphere. Granted I'm sure they will find a way around this, they are NASA and all.

I think the moon base would be nice though. Who knows though, maybe in a few years we will get it. They have been talking about it forever.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By FITCamaro on 11/5/08, Rating: -1
RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Chernobyl68 on 11/5/2008 5:13:43 PM , Rating: 2
even if you build it in space, you have to get the parts TO space to build it. heavier compnents have to be broken down into booster sized assemblies, which means more launches to bring the parts of the ship to the construction site. That makes it more expensive.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By PrinceGaz on 11/5/2008 6:42:02 PM , Rating: 1
Two words- Space Elevator.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By grath on 11/5/2008 11:26:34 PM , Rating: 2
A space elevator will be an excellent capability but has payload restrictions comparable to those of a rocket and does not quite address the issue in question here.

What we are talking about here is ships. When you build a seaworthy vessel, the sea dictates the design. You build her as large, strong, and heavy as she needs to be to achieve the desired capability and survive the operating environment while sustaining and protecting the crew. That has been the basic forumla for successful designs throughout seafaring history.

The reality of launching spacecraft from Earth compromises that formula. Its the metaphorical equivalent of building a ship in a bottle. The launch system is the neck of the bottle, to the point of literally having a diameter restriction, and we put the ship through piece by piece doing some tinkering each time to connect them (spacewalks). This is not a formula conducive to building a truly spaceworthy interplanetary vessel.

So rather than building in space on an modular assembly level as we do with the space station, we need to build from a manufacturing level. That means using raw or semi-processed materials with limited use of prefabricated products. Achieving that capability using only terrestrial resources and support means hundreds or thousands or rocket launches, maybe building a space elevator, probably a couple trillion dollars, an Apollo Program or Manhattan Project level effort.

The point is that if we intend to do the thing properly, and put forth that level of effort, the better choice is to use lunar resources to provide the material we need. The infrastructure will be more capable, sustainable, and cheap. It becomes the foundation we then work forward from. Things like robust interplanetary spacecraft, moon colonies, rotating space stations with simulated gravity, and space elevators will all be much easier to achieve.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By grath on 11/5/2008 10:18:41 PM , Rating: 3
What we need is a moon base to harvest resources from the moon to use to build it in space. Instead of trying to haul materials into orbit from Earth.

The whole point of his argument, which should NOT be rated down, is that we need to establish the capability to not only assemble, but manufacture the components closer to the top of Earths gravity well using lunar material. It really is the only forseeable way to expand beyond the limitations currently imposed upon spacecraft design by the size and weight parameters of a launch vehicle.

That means a moon base to harvest the regolith, solar ovens to melt it down, magma electrolysis to break the metal oxides, spin it a bit in a centrifuge to differentiate the mixture, and you get a nice crucible full of iron, aluminum, titanium, magnesium, and other material that can be poured into ingots. An electromagnetic catapult can launch the material using nice clean solar power, to the manufacturing facility at a Lagrange point in high Earth orbit where we are free to build as large as we like in the microgravity.

Obviously thats an oversimplification of the matter, but the technical aspects are all reasonably achievable, if not the financial and bureaucratic. People like to talk about the hydrogen we might get from ice in the polar craters, so we can burn it as rocket fuel, or helium-3 for fusion reactors, that is unlikely to be present in sufficient quantity. The real resource is the metals. Thats what we use to build our shelter in the inhospitable environment.

If its made of metal and we can build it on Earth, we can build it on the Moon or in space bigger, better, and cheaper. Its just a matter of seeing past the initial investment to actually get it done. Once in place the return on the investment will be immeasurable, and the winner takes all, because it will be cheaper to just buy from them rather than do it yourself.

Some products will still have to come from Earth of course. Complex components such as computers, reactors, and engines will still be more economical to produce on Earth at first, but production will be shifted to space as capability expands. Some things might always have to come from Earth, such as petrochemical products and various bulk elemental material such as helium and nitrogen that are essential to our technology or biology but not present or sufficiently extractable on the Moon.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By randomly on 11/6/2008 5:45:27 AM , Rating: 2
You're talking fantasy in the far distant future but it's not a reality in the near term.
You have no evidence that developing ISRU and manufacturing capability on the moon to construct a ship would be cheaper than building it in pieces on earth and lofting them with a heavy lift vehicle.

ISRU and manufacturing capability would extremely expensive to develop and require huge masses of equipment to lofted to the moon. Supporting and running that capability would be massively expensive and would take many decades to achieve. It may never be cost effective compared to developing a cheaper heavy launch system from earth.

Sure you can conceptualize it, but that doesn't mean that it's a cost effective approach. I'm certain that you actually have no idea how long it would take or how much it would cost to implement. Nobody does. All these things need to be explored and developed.

The Space shuttle was originally supposed to cost less than $40 million a flight, but the reality turned out to be more like $500 million a flight. It's not a cost effective approach.

The technical capability to do something is useless if the cost is so high that it can't be used in the real world.

There is a huge gap between dreaming stuff up and actually achieving it.

My original commentary was directed at the problems of first missions to mars and what we are ACTUALLY capable of accomplishing, not some distant future.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Pavelyoung on 11/7/2008 10:58:57 AM , Rating: 2
They already did the cost analysis and estimated that it would cost some $1.5 trillion to build a habitat on the lunar surface capable of supporting 250 scientists, technicians and construction workers additionally it would have the first space based construction facility.

Most of the cost for the project was the initial development and first phase construction. Housing, entertainment, cafateria, power plant, refinery and storage would all be underground. The hangers and "park" areas would be above ground.

I forget where I saw the design plans originally, but it looked pretty slick.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By randomly on 11/5/2008 10:00:03 AM , Rating: 3
You DO care how big it is because you don't have an infinite amount of money or time.

You are constrained by real world budgets and the available lift vehicle capacity (180mT to LEO for Ares V if it ever gets built).

Developing and using ISRU from the moon to build it would push the project completion date out many decades, maybe into the next century. It will be cheaper to build it on earth and lift it to orbit than building it from raw materials in space for the foreseeable future.

You definitely care how big it is.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By randomly on 11/5/2008 10:08:01 AM , Rating: 3
and no, it wouldn't store more materials. The transit time of 39 days is for the same cargo mass, but with higher power on the engines. If you increase the cargo mass, you again increase the transit time.

Besides ignoring real world realities you have some misconceptions about space travel. Mass is very much a factor in space.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Hare on 11/5/2008 12:53:02 PM , Rating: 2
Weight isn't a factor in space. What we need is a moon base to harvest resources from the moon to use to build it in space. Instead of trying to haul materials into orbit from Earth.

It is when accelerating and deaccelerating. You do realise that when going to Mars you first have to accelerate to travel speed and at some point start slowing down unless you just want to create a big crater.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By JediJeb on 11/5/2008 6:00:14 PM , Rating: 2
" Weight " may not be a factor in space, but " Mass " is. The more mass you have the more energy it takes to accelerate it to a given velocity. Even in space, the lighter your ship, the less engergy it takes to move it, and to stop it when you reach your destination.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Chipper Smoltz DT on 11/5/2008 2:49:22 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry to divert this thread but we share the same anxiety. I have mixed feelings regarding a manned mission and I'm not much of a spring chicken myself... That's why am praying so hard for them to finally come up with the anti-aging "resveratrol" pill soon.

I want so much to witness what other technological marvels we could come up with... in just a short span of time from 1900 to 2000, there have been some that have changed our lives in a very nice and profound way. And we're just a few years in the start of the 21st century and so much technological improvements.

Let's keep our fingers crossed that those pills would hit the market soon and it proves to be effective. Think positive man (^_^)

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Regs on 11/5/2008 5:38:59 PM , Rating: 2
But in the mean time, you can cook a Tombstone pizza in the oven with peace of mind.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By FITCamaro on 11/5/08, Rating: -1
RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Amiga500 on 11/5/2008 8:30:02 AM , Rating: 2
You know this... how? The usual politics of fear by the tired old right. As I recall, the last President to instigate sending men to another celestial body was a democrat.

You might be interested to know he (Kennedy) was looking to forge an alliance with the USSR for space exploration. An alliance that may have dramatically reduced tensions throughout the the rest of the 'cold war'.

For a nation that is at the forefront of many technologies, it is amazing how backwards many of its citizens are politically.

Socialist tendencies =/= bronze age ideas.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By FITCamaro on 11/5/2008 8:48:48 AM , Rating: 2
Show me a Democratic president since Kennedy who has actively supported expanding the space program. An active space program is expensive. That takes money away from things like Welfare and Social Security. Things Obama cares far more about. Their goal for the next 4 years will be to get as many people not paying taxes as possible so they have an impenetrable voting base. Since what person on welfare or other social programs is going to vote for getting rid of them?

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Amiga500 on 11/5/2008 9:17:04 AM , Rating: 5
Show me a Democratic president since Kennedy who has actively supported expanding the space program.

How about the next one, LBJ, who was the real driver behind both the Mercury and Apollo programs.

Eventually Johnson had to cut NASA funding due to Vietnam, but needs must.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By FITCamaro on 11/5/08, Rating: -1
RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Amiga500 on 11/5/2008 11:23:49 AM , Rating: 5
I answered your question and you move the goalposts...

There have only been 2 democrat presidents since LBJ, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. 2 data points is not much of a trend.

Lets look at the first republican president after Kennedy and LBJ... Nixon, who nixed NASA's original post-Apollo missions of large space stations, more moon trips and even mars.

Nixon cut the NASA budget by 3/4 (relative to GDP).

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Lord 666 on 11/5/2008 9:20:46 AM , Rating: 1
Your right about people not paying taxes, but for the wrong reason. Most taxes are collected via income tax along with unemployment insurance. As unemployment rates rise, the unemployment revenue decreases.

Currently there are ten states that are on dangerous reserve levels. One state (Michigan) is already borrowing money from the Federal government to protect its own reserves.

Only if McCain didn't select Palin then things would be different this morning :(

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Gzus666 on 11/5/2008 9:30:24 AM , Rating: 5
Well, that and if McCain didn't completely change his beliefs to fit some silly party. Parties and special interest groups will be the death of this country. Ron Paul 2012?

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By FITCamaro on 11/5/2008 9:40:57 AM , Rating: 1
Ron Paul 2012?

I'll take that.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By AssBall on 11/5/2008 10:12:02 AM , Rating: 4
Me too, or Robert Barr even better.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Gzus666 on 11/5/2008 10:16:04 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know about Bob Barr, he doesn't seem as gung ho as Ron Paul. But I could be wrong to be perfectly honest, I don't know much about the guy.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By AssBall on 11/5/2008 10:30:21 AM , Rating: 2
You'd be right, Gxuss. He isn't as gung-ho. But he does have strong conviction and takes things one step at a time, and knows personally how the federal government functions very well.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Gzus666 on 11/5/2008 10:38:07 AM , Rating: 2
Well, I would have to check into him and see his stances, but if he is as you say he is, I would be more than happy to support the man. Hell, I am at the point where I will support anyone who just sticks with the damn constitution.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Lord 666 on 11/5/2008 12:56:35 PM , Rating: 2
Michael Bloomberg (regardless of party affiliation) in 2012.

Its the whole reason why Bloomberg extended his stay for a third term; have some one-term newbee take the heat for the REAL issues to come.

Wait until Obama gets his first top-secret intelligence briefing on Thursday for him to crap in his pants and start chain smoking again. Maybe he might change his mind and submit a letter of resignation.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 11/5/2008 1:13:17 PM , Rating: 2
Yea, Bloomberg is definately a solid contender in 2012. If he makes it to the general, he will likely get my vote.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By joeindian1551 on 11/5/2008 2:21:57 PM , Rating: 2
Bloomberg = Perot ca.1992 ver2.0?

Political & business experience & the money to run a successful Independent party campaign?
Sounds like a solid contender for my vote.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Spuke on 11/5/2008 2:48:06 PM , Rating: 2
Any info on Bloomberg? I've never heard of him although that doesn't mean much.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Lord 666 on 11/5/2008 2:58:55 PM , Rating: 2
What about Arnold for pres? That could be the 28th admendment or maybe even the 61st ;)

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Gzus666 on 11/5/2008 2:35:00 PM , Rating: 2

He looks like the usual Democrat to me. I think you are a dumbass to vote for the same stupid crap over and over again. He states guns kill people? Really? Gun control is working just as well as drug control, they need to stop wasting money on it. You want gun control? First violent crime you commit with a weapon, life in prison or death. Make no way around it. He is for anti-drug laws and wants to continue with them? Prohibition ring a bell? Doesn't work, stop wasting my money on it.

He is against the death penalty, but wants to push more of jailing non-violent drug offenders along with the laws that cause violence over high prices of drugs caused by prohibition?

He actually thinks abortions and marriage are things that government should even be involved in? That is retarded. It shouldn't be the government in any social issues. That isn't what they are there for. Bloomburg is a dickhole just like the rest of these jackoffs. The "I know what is best for everyone by controlling their lives" folks.

Follow the constitution and stop trying to run our lives, that is the secret formula. Ron Paul is the man because he wants to actually reduce government, make everything privately owned and let capitalism be capitalism. Government runs security, justice and I would be OK with small stuff like NASA and schools. Beyond that, get out.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Lord 666 on 11/5/2008 2:57:12 PM , Rating: 2
Let me guess... you don't live or work in NYC?

Admittedly, his regional draw is drowned out by just looking at how he stands on several issues on paper. Curiously, you left out on how he stands on the economy or is America's eight richest individual. Ron Paul might make a great Surgeon General or be an expert in repairing his Chevette, but he doesn't have business acumen.

The constitution is meant to be AMENDED, please go check on Wikipedia for the 13th, 15th, 18th, and 21st admendments. My point of specifically mentioning them is our forefathers had no particular interest in abolishing slavery. Only after many years did lawmakers change course. Same thing for prohibition. The designers of the constitution factored in that it could be adjusted to meet the requirements of the times.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Gzus666 on 11/5/2008 4:53:34 PM , Rating: 1
You didn't really acknowledge anything I said. If you seriously think Ron Paul isn't good at what he does, then you don't pay attention to him. He called out Bernake on his joke of just printing more money and not acknowledging that taking us off the gold standard was killing us. The man knows what he is doing and this country doesn't need to be run like a business. I have no problem with amendments, but don't wipe your ass with the ones that exist.

Just cause you have a successful business and are rich, doesn't make you good at something. For all we know, he got lucky, like so many other millionaires. The economy doesn't need to be run by the government, it will run fine on it's own. If we want to be fully government run, become a communism, but don't half ass it, do it right. This is a capitalism, run it that way.

Holding slaves has been around well before our country came to be, you can't hold that against them since it was the norm still. Slavery was never legal by the constitution anyway, they just changed what "men" means in all men are created equal.

I don't live in NYC, but don't pull that regional bull, I was born and raised in Rochester, NY and all my family is from the north on both sides.

He is a jackass, he is a Democrat through and through and if he ran, he would run on their platform and pander like the others do on both sides. Same way McCain pandered to the Republicans by completely changing his views to run for president.

I have a feeling you love all the worthless gun laws and drug laws, cause you fell for them working. More laws is not the answer, less government is. If you have some jackass like Bloomburg in office, he will just make the government bigger and bigger like both sides have been doing. I'm sick of settling for some dick who is kinda OK, Ron Paul fits the bill on all fronts.

I see that he wants to keep health care and welfare programs around, what a joke. The guy is a Democrat with slight Republican tendencies, both of which are worthless. Ax all those dumbass programs, no one owes someone else money just cause they were born.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Lord 666 on 11/5/2008 10:41:49 PM , Rating: 2
There really wasn't that much to acknowledge as your new found knowledge was just talking points from Wikipedia pages of both Ron Paul and Michael Bloomberg.

However, to be fair, below are my responses;

1. Gun Control

This is actually from my post I did in response to mdogs on 9/22 and should clearly explain my position on gun control. But if you can't read between the lines, basically your plan is flawed because you are assuming the perps are getting caught. How many times do you hear on the news of someone getting fatally shot and the killer is never found? That perp sure didn't use a zip or pellet gun. Bloomberg has gone after gun shops in the south that allow shell sales of firearms to people who in turn then just sell them in NYC.

Adding more guns to the environment will not help the situation. Not to get too personal, but putting guns in the hands of yourself and FIT is the last thing this country needs.

You say that you work for that not-for-profit in a *tough* area of ohio? what is your corporate policy for carrying that gun inside your workplace? going to just leave it in the trunk of your accord coupe? chances are that by the time you draw your your piece; either 1. someone drops you and turns your gun on yourself or 2. someone else that you didn't see shoots you. firearm owners typically face 33% more chance of dying of a gunshot wound than non-owners.

ps - i'm definitely not a pacifist anti-gun tree hugger. i've had a gun put to my head twice. one time i talked my way out of the situation and the other time was my own brother. neither of those times did i have a weapon of my own other than courage.

2. Business/Economy/Capitilism

Here you completely contradict yourself. First you say
this country doesn't need to be run like a business
, but then say
This is a capitalism, run it that way.

Capitalism and business are symbiotic; one of the key requirements of keeping a business is keeping it solvent and profitable. In past White House Administrations, the US has generated profits on many transactions. If this country is run like a business again, it will be profitable.

In my opinion, one of the greatest assets the US has is technology/engineering/science talent. When this thinktank was used for space exploration, entire new lines of businesses were formed.

Mike Bloomberg was an engineer by trade, but achieved only through business smarts and superior management style. Millionaires might earn it by luck, but billionaires (and the eighth richest American) do it through hard work and talent. If he were to win the presidency, he would most definitely take his successes in NYC (many profitable projects as well) and expand them nationally. His record in healthcare is tremendous.

3. Anti-drug laws

This is where you appear to be off base with Ron Paul. Re-read your wikipedia article as it only mentions marijuana to be loosened and for medicinal purposes. But again, you contradict yourself by saying first
I have a feeling you love all the worthless gun laws and drug laws, cause you fell for them working. More laws is not the answer, less government is
but then to say in a different post
Government runs security, justice and I would be OK with small stuff like NASA and schools. Beyond that, get out.
Do you realize that most violent crimes include an active history of drug use? Do you also not realize the government makes a tremendous amount of money prosecuting and housing criminals? For the record, I strongly oppose legalization of any CDS. However, I do support the unrestriction of ephedra and pseudoephedrine as there are more deaths with Tylenol overdoses per year (over 100) than ever with ephedra.

If it makes you feel better, Bloomberg admitted to smoking weed. You should love Obama with his previous coke use.

4. Healthcare/Social Programs

Hope you realize that without Healthcare and Social Programs, issues like HIV, TB, whooping cough, mumps, measles, rubella, and other STI's would be much more prevalent and rampant.

Other than specialists, insurance companies (those capitalistic entities) pay pennies on the dollar for healthcare to primary care providers. How can those providers use capitalism to ensure their solvency when they are receiving less and less payouts each year? With the economy lagging and heading in a negative direction, who pays for family of three healthcare needs after Adam the Network Admin got laid off and his wife Darcy the Daycare helper doesn't have insurance? COBRA at over $1000 a month?

In my opinion, healthcare will become the largest social issue for the US within the next four years.

In closing, I prefer real executive experience on both the for profit (business) and not-for-profit (government service) roles. Make my candidate for 2012 Mike Bloomberg. Until then, I wish Obama the best of luck for all of our sakes.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Lord 666 on 11/6/2008 3:37:40 PM , Rating: 2
Have to give a nod to Obama for this very strong pick for a combination of profit/not-for-profit

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Amiga500 on 11/6/2008 10:08:20 AM , Rating: 1
The economy doesn't need to be run by the government, it will run fine on it's own.

Look around you!

Where has no regulations and total greed led the world's economy?

Unfortunately, the only check on human greed is laws. The greedy cannot be relied on to regulate themselves to limit their profits, hence why the government have to do it.

Unfortunate, yes, but it is a necessary intervention in the system.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 11/5/2008 4:44:40 PM , Rating: 2
"Bloomburg is a dickhole"

Well, I'm no left wing liberal for sure... However, dickholes have there usefulness. Without one I'd get no relief at all. :P

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By jimbojimbo on 11/5/2008 1:06:11 PM , Rating: 2
Ron Paul. Now there's true change! Death to the two party system!

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Tsuwamono on 11/5/2008 2:43:10 PM , Rating: 2
Why dont you guys just start a 3rd party? lol I dont understand the system enough but it seems like it would be against your constitution to not allow a 3rd party... There are 4 major parties in Canada. Conservatives(current government run by Stephan Harper), Liberals(almost always frenchies), NDP(Alittle too socialist for most peoples liking which is why they havent been in power as long as i can remember... or ever i think? not sure though) and the Green party who are socialist aswell but more worried about the planet then about industry although they did do very well in the last debate on the economy.. i was surprised.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Gzus666 on 11/5/2008 2:49:59 PM , Rating: 2
Other parties exist, the problem is the parties. They only pay attention to the 2 because they get the most funding and the majority in house, senate, congress, etc. It is a joke, even most of the founding fathers didn't want parties because they knew it would become a problem. Go figure, it did.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Tsuwamono on 11/5/2008 3:31:01 PM , Rating: 2
Ya i also thought it seemed dumb. I always thought it was weird that the country that preaches themselves as the most democratic in the world would only have two parties.

The trick i guess is just keep voting for the others and get their names out there guys. Thats the only way i could think of.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Gzus666 on 11/5/2008 4:57:12 PM , Rating: 3
They have an answer for that too, the outdated electoral college. I currently live in Texas, doesn't matter who I vote for, a Republican will win. It could be a serial killer, these morons would vote him.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Spuke on 11/5/2008 2:53:13 PM , Rating: 2
We have a few other parties as well (Green, Libertarian, couple others), it's just that most Americans are sheep and simply go with the flow. I find it amazing that we even have two parties. Baaaaaahhhh! Baaaaaahhhhh!

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By FITCamaro on 11/7/2008 8:28:54 AM , Rating: 2
One of the problems is that since the media is in the tank for the left, they don't even cover other parties. Granted most of the time their tickets are extremely poor. If Ron Paul could have run as an independent and actually still gotten media attention, he would have. But the media just largely ignored him even as a republican candidate. They fear a guy like him and the best way they can silence him is to not report on him.

I'll admit I don't agree with Ron Paul on how isolationist he wants to be. But if it meant getting rid of all this government, putting America first, sealing our borders, allowing industry to thrive, etc. I'd vote for him.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By tallcool1 on 11/5/08, Rating: 0
RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 11/5/2008 8:47:00 AM , Rating: 5
Damn dude. Get over it and get on with your life.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By FITCamaro on 11/5/08, Rating: -1
RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 11/5/2008 9:04:38 AM , Rating: 3
Well, I know my taxes will be going up. I am not happy about this, but well, thats just how it goes. The USA is moving closer to Europe in terms of taxes, socialistic programs, and less of a capitalistic nature.

Back on topic though, FIT has a point, Democrats historically have not voted to expand the space program, quite the opposite in fact. I can only hope that an arms race in space forces them to expand it regardless.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By FITCamaro on 11/5/08, Rating: 0
RE: Less Than 18 Months
By ikkeman2 on 11/5/2008 10:01:17 AM , Rating: 3
You mean you might actually have to pay up the $700B your rep president just signed away?
You mean there's no stupid rich people (as in - nations) that'll bankroll your deficit.

That's just totally unfair!

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By FITCamaro on 11/5/2008 10:05:51 AM , Rating: 1
Why are you talking like I was for the bailout?

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 11/5/2008 11:32:49 AM , Rating: 2
Aye, our president was pretty damn liberal in his actions this term. A real republican would have let them fall flat on their faces, capitalism at work.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By eyebeeemmpawn on 11/5/2008 11:58:59 AM , Rating: 3
that's just it, the Republican party isn't conservative. They call the Dem "Tax and Spend" all the while "Borrowing and Spending" from our future generations.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 11/5/2008 1:11:42 PM , Rating: 2
True, both parties are getting pretty bad when you stop and look at it.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Gzus666 on 11/5/2008 2:40:39 PM , Rating: 2
Getting? They have both been terrible for decades. Stop supporting them and maybe America will actually be a country worth being proud over again.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Spuke on 11/5/2008 2:56:58 PM , Rating: 2
Getting? They have both been terrible for decades.
Hear! Hear! Unfortunately, unless you have some super rich bastard run for office, like Perot, we'll continue to go down this path.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Ringold on 11/5/2008 5:06:40 PM , Rating: 2
The USA is moving closer to Europe in terms of taxes, socialistic programs, and less of a capitalistic nature.

That depends on how you look at it. In a general sense, Europe is still in the process of running away from socialism; we're running towards it. On more specific issues, like trade, the EU is actively working on free trade deals with Canada, and I think just finished one with the Bahamas. Meanwhile, we've killed several FTA's in recent months by virtue of ignoring them. On corporate taxes, we already have the 2nd highest rates in the developed world, so if we were moving towards Europe on corporate taxation we'd actually need to be talking about substantial tax cuts.

Only on income taxes are we moving towards Europe. In all other ways, Europe learned their lesson decades ago and are moving in the opposite direction.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By eyebeeemmpawn on 11/5/2008 12:00:34 PM , Rating: 2
will you?

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By ceefka on 11/5/2008 9:06:54 AM , Rating: 2
That will prove to be difficult, yes. Who spent all that money that Obama doesn't have right now anyways?

Further, I think it is about time this was a joint effort by all space explorers like India, China, Russia and the ESA and NASA. I believe together they can pull it off.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By fri2219 on 11/5/08, Rating: 0
RE: Less Than 18 Months
By FITCamaro on 11/5/08, Rating: 0
RE: Less Than 18 Months
By tallcool1 on 11/5/2008 12:58:27 PM , Rating: 2
It's ok, with hope and change, tax breaks for all, and welfare checks to the others. The mars space ship will mystically appear costing nothing at all...

The messiah could sell that to the suck up media and the clueless and they wouldn't even consider questioning him on it.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By eyebeeemmpawn on 11/5/2008 12:04:03 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, bummer, no killer spaceship dude. Turns our we may actually have to be conservative with our spending while not totally looting the programs are essential to the basic needs of less fortunate individuals. We've got to pay of the credit card bill that George and Dick ran up for us.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By FITCamaro on 11/5/2008 12:36:34 PM , Rating: 2
while not totally looting the programs are essential to the basic needs of less fortunate individuals.

How about those individuals fend for themselves as the middle class has to do? Stop encouraging people to be less fortunate. What reason is there to work when you can get your needs met for free?

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By Gzus666 on 11/5/2008 1:01:20 PM , Rating: 2
In this response, you say we should help the less fortunate. Then you damn the Pres and VP for the bailout? I hate Bush and Cheney, but this is retarded. I don't think I should be responsible for helping the stupid, crippled or lazy. I would kick in the teeth of a mother that squirts out brats to get welfare to give money to NASA.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By PWNettle on 11/5/2008 6:00:31 PM , Rating: 2
Works for me (if the government isn't pissing away tax dollars on kid's dreams).

There's little to be gained via space exploration that won't result in yet more corporate profits so let corporations fund it, not the governement. It's not like any research or discovery will help anyone unless they're willing to pay whichever corporation is using the knowledge to make a buck.

Republicans lately seem to be an odd mix of corporate champions and relious nutjobs. What a mix.

RE: Less Than 18 Months
By ilikepop on 11/10/2008 6:05:51 AM , Rating: 2
Invisible force-field anyone?

Manned Mission - Purpose?!
By Chipper Smoltz DT on 11/5/2008 8:34:15 AM , Rating: 2
I fail to see the purpose of the manned mission to Mars unless it's just demonstrating that humans will have travelled to Mars... and then they're coming back right?

Coz afaik, we have already sent some rovers to Mars to find out some "things" that have been confirmed thus far.. which is there's frozen water a few feet from the ground.

What would we hope to accomplish thru a manned mission there? If this is to form some sort of a "biosphere" or "terraforming colony" then I believe that the goal would best be done by semi-intelligent robots. As it is, the length of the trip there plus other equipments, logistical supplies would be really alot thus requiring a huge ship or many ships. Plus, alot of things could go wrong there from malfunctions of the equipment being the least concern to potential loss of human life being the primary concern.

Is this just some sort of a "voyage" just so that we could claim that we have sent humans to Mars? Then what's next, go back to Earth... then what? The fact of the matter is, we have proved that we could send rovers there and other stuff to study the planet... so it has been proven that we could go there EVEN with human people if we wanted to. Just that there's so may problems that we're gonna encounter if we do so.

I hope that we plan to do so much more if we intend to send humans there than just taking some "strolls" in the Martian landscape...coz if that's what we're gonna basically do then it seems a waste of resources and ... hopefully not... human lives, if something goes wrong in such an expedition.

Anwyays, a big congratulations to those who invented the "gadget" that mimics Earth's magnetosphere and would servie as the "shield" of the ship. Maybe it has other potential applications other than space travel. Some idea that some people (including me) have failed to grasp...

RE: Manned Mission - Purpose?!
By jabber on 11/5/2008 9:05:21 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah we've launched several missions over the years that have proven -

Mission 1 - Its dead.
Mission 2 - Its dead.
Mission 3 - Its dead.
Mission 4 - Its dead.
Mission 5 - Its sorry its dead.

To send people there to once again prove its dead is rather too pricey for me. Lets just leave it be for a few decades and sort out a few things that need to be sorted back home first. Plenty to learn here.

RE: Manned Mission - Purpose?!
By Gzus666 on 11/5/2008 9:35:06 AM , Rating: 2
If there is a group of people I trust, it is NASA. They bring plenty of innovations here that everyone takes for granted. Space program is a must and should never be scoffed at. I have a feeling they know what they are doing, they are some of the best and the brightest in the world.

RE: Manned Mission - Purpose?!
By FITCamaro on 11/5/2008 10:07:25 AM , Rating: 3
The majority of people don't even have a clue what things the space program has netted us. Plastics, synthetic fibers, vacuum packaging, the list goes on.

RE: Manned Mission - Purpose?!
By Gzus666 on 11/5/2008 10:20:31 AM , Rating: 2
Sad but true, NASA is the reason we have so many great things now. You get enough great thinkers in the same room with similar goals, you get some badass innovations. This country has become rather anti-science while being gadget lovers at the same time. Seems so hypocritical. Come on better education for this country, daddy needs a new pair of space shoes.

RE: Manned Mission - Purpose?!
By jabber on 11/5/2008 10:42:06 AM , Rating: 3
I agree that NASA has done some incredible work. I have stacks of books and DVDs on Apollo and would shake the hand of anyone involved however small.

I also appreciate the advances and improvements they have made to my day to day life.

I just dont think there is much benefit in sending fragile human cargo to Mars. The moon is far enough for pretty much all the R&D we could want for initial manned space exploration. Un-manned probes are cheaper, less risk and will pretty much tell us all we need to know about Mars for now. Ok we wont get the poetic rhetoric that such a mission generates but thats not that important.

I find it ironic that a device has been developed to protect humans that uses the same principle that Mars as a planet lacks and is devoid of life as a result.

RE: Manned Mission - Purpose?!
By Gzus666 on 11/5/2008 10:48:19 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with some skepticism, but I'm sure you have seen the stuff you would have never thought come from the missions they have done. Just the attempt to put someone safely on Mars could progress some technology we didn't think about or know.

If the money wasn't going to NASA, it would probably end up in some silly social program anyway. I say let NASA have it, they have proved their worth hundreds of times before.

RE: Manned Mission - Purpose?!
By AssBall on 11/5/2008 10:20:05 AM , Rating: 2
Is this just some sort of a "voyage" just so that we could claim that we have sent humans to Mars?

Sign me up.

RE: Manned Mission - Purpose?!
By InsaneGain on 11/5/2008 1:15:08 PM , Rating: 2
I fail to see the purpose of the manned mission to Mars

A very important purpose of a manned mission to Mars would be to gather evidence about about whether or not microbial life ever existed on that planet. Remotely controlled machines have many limitations on what they can reveal. If prior evidence of life on Mars is discovered, then this would be a hugely profound discovery. It would confirm that life will spontaneously form wherever conditions are even barely suitable, and would mean the universe is teeming with life. Many scientists believe this is the case given that life formed on Earth almost immediately after it cooled enough to allow liquid water to exist on the surface. The assumption could be made that once established, life will continue to evolve as long as conditions continue to be favorable, and therefore, the universe is full of intelligent life forms, some much more advanced than us. We could then direct far more resources into listening for extra-terrestrial communciations and attempt contact. Even if a 2-way communication took many decades to complete, the information gained could transform our world in ways we can't imagine, making the original cost of space exploration seem incredibly trivial.

RE: Manned Mission - Purpose?!
By Chipper Smoltz DT on 11/5/2008 2:43:29 PM , Rating: 2
But we could do that by sending another more sophisticated rover... or can't we? Besides it would be more cheaper that way in terms of resources used. Surely we would not want to risk harm to a human being just to search if microbial life existed? Ok, granted that there is? Would that be the manned mission's purpose only?

First off, it would take a long time, use up much resources in building the ship and other equipments. Whereas we could just send a small ship with a few more sophisticated rovers that can gather the scientific data that you said.

I don't want to dampen everyone's spirit on this but I also believe in space exploration but there are just so many complications and other variables that might complicate things up for this especially where human lives are at stake . Not to mention the cost involved in such an undertaking.

Alright, we could prove to ourselves that we have reached Mars... but for what? Please tell me that the answer is not "just so..." There should be a good purpose to it... something that would make it worth it to spend so much resources and risk human lives...

By Master Kenobi (blog) on 11/5/2008 2:56:07 PM , Rating: 2
Colonization and industrialization?

RE: Manned Mission - Purpose?!
By JediJeb on 11/5/2008 6:21:22 PM , Rating: 2
I guess the same could be said for Columbus sailing West to go East, what was the use in that?

RE: Manned Mission - Purpose?!
By Yossarian22 on 11/5/2008 7:01:35 PM , Rating: 3
Other than the massive economic boost that comes from faster, safer trading?

RE: Manned Mission - Purpose?!
By haukionkannel on 11/6/2008 2:28:08 PM , Rating: 2
Well the biggest reason in long term is that our sun in gonna blow up one day, in far far away future. So we should develop some usefull way of transportation before that if we want to save some tiny things about humanity.
Yaeh, a very long term goal, and most propably we will blow up ourself much before that, but if we are optimistic, we have to have a backup plan when our sun finally loses it's outer core and turn to brown dwarf...

RE: Manned Mission - Purpose?!
By jabber on 11/7/2008 8:42:45 AM , Rating: 2
Excellent but I'm sorry but you are making the same very wrong assumption that a lot of folks make with regards to the long term future of the planet earth.

The simple fact whether we blow ourselves up or not we (humans - Homo Sapiens) will NOT be around in any shape or form when our sun goes nova.

Where will we be? We'll be about 5 steps down on that evolutionary diagram showing man evoloving from apes.

A mere distant fossil record.

RE: Manned Mission - Purpose?!
By InsaneGain on 11/7/2008 3:24:34 PM , Rating: 2
in long term is that our sun in gonna blow up one day, in far far away future.

Life in Earth will end as we know it long before the Sun turns into a red giant in 5 billion years. Currently, the Sun is slowly increasing its energy ouput as the helium content in the core increases. There are solar models that predict the sun will gradually heat up to the point where life on Earth is unsustainable within a few million years. I imagine it would get very uncomfortable long before that,

Also important implications for...
By Amiga500 on 11/5/2008 8:12:05 AM , Rating: 2
A permanent lunar base and heavier duty lunar rovers.

Both can now enjoy magnetic shielding at little increase in weight.

RE: Also important implications for...
By FITCamaro on 11/5/2008 8:50:56 AM , Rating: 2
I believe the moon is within our magnetosphere. Hence why the Apollo astronauts survived.

RE: Also important implications for...
By Amiga500 on 11/5/2008 8:59:10 AM , Rating: 2
There is evidence that some of the moon is protected some of the time within the earth's magnetic field.

However most of the time most of the moon is totally unprotected.

The Apollo astronauts also had to pass through the Van Allen belts (well, at least the inner belt), and having a mini-magnetosphere will do wonders for long term exposure to this region of space.

The Apollo crews survived due to their short trip times and the lack of any abnormal solar activity during any missions.

RE: Also important implications for...
By FITCamaro on 11/5/2008 9:23:05 AM , Rating: 2
I'm just saying. There's no plans I've seen to put anything like this on Orion. So that leads me to believe travel to the moon is relatively safe.

By randomly on 11/5/2008 10:32:04 AM , Rating: 2
No, travel to the moon is not relatively safe. The radiation exposure during the Apollo missions was workable because it was relatively short and fortunately no major solar-particle events took place during an Apollo mission.

The Van Allen belts are also high radiation environments, but transit times for Apollo were relatively short. This is however much more of a problem for Ion or Plasma drives where exposure times would be much greater because of the slow transit time.

If a large solar-particle event had taken place during an Apollo mission the astronauts could have been exposed to a skin dose as much as 2.7 Greys if in the heavily shielded command module. That's a potentially fatal dose. If they had been in the Lunar Module or doing an EVA, the dose would have been much higher.

Radiation is a major concern for space travel.

What exactly is meant by "kettle"
By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/5/2008 8:05:31 AM , Rating: 2
I'm sorry- I just don't understand, it's a rather colloquial term.

By FITCamaro on 11/5/2008 8:07:27 AM , Rating: 3
You know those pot like things people use to heat water for tea or hot chocolate?

By psychobriggsy on 11/5/2008 8:31:58 AM , Rating: 2
In the sense used, it's a ~three kilowatt electric device that turns cold water into boiling water. Pretty much every household in the UK has one. They're important for tea making.

By JonnyDough on 11/6/2008 11:16:32 AM , Rating: 2
Colloquial is a colloquial term. I haven't heard that word much since I stopped sleeping with my head on a wooden block.

You can discover more about the Quakers in Ephrata by starting here:
(excerpt: "Their six hours of nightly rest was broken by a midnight worship service, and their time for sleep was spent on a wooden bench with a block of wood for a pillow")

By Digimonkey on 11/5/2008 8:18:56 AM , Rating: 2
but can it take a direct hit from a photon torpedo?

RE: Good...
By FaceMaster on 11/5/2008 11:20:11 AM , Rating: 2
I want them to take energy from the solar storms. We'll soon begging for more. Just as your Mum was last night.

RE: Good...
By elessar1 on 11/5/2008 1:09:53 PM , Rating: 2
no, and it cant play crysis either.. :S

But it can make a good cup of tea!!!,

Greetings young fellow!!!

Moon fake mission.
By finetsky on 11/5/2008 4:22:56 PM , Rating: 2
Ain't it strange? They say that radiation could kill you in an instant. But moon trip took 8days. Thats plenty of time to be exposed to lot of radiation. Even moon surface is exposed to radiation thousands of years, therefore is higly radioactive. But apollo mission did not have any protection. They didn't even felt sick at all. Some parts of moon module were thin as foil. Insn't that strange? All true about this fake come out when first people really step on the moon with all the necessary hardware. But thats gonna take some time. And why NASA is running Moon Challenge these days to obtain Lunar Module. They supposed to have this technology 40 years already! After 40years it takes 14years or so to prepare moon mission? It took only 7 years to get there starting from scratch in the sixties. So whats wrong with this story guys? Any explanations?

RE: Moon fake mission.
By Regs on 11/5/2008 5:52:01 PM , Rating: 2
Because in deep space, you don't have earth or the moon itself to block or deflect the rays. The moon is not sponge but acts as a mirror. Plus, the longer time in space means a longer time to be subjected to particles that emit radioactive properties. Mixed particle rays are the most dangerous for obvious reasons (can penetrate through numerous selected surfaces) and are likely more substantial in deep space.

RE: Moon fake mission.
By finetsky on 11/6/2008 4:05:30 AM , Rating: 2
I don't agree. Earth has a magnetic field which protects people on earth and close to Earth just like astronauts on ISS space station. Moon has NO magnetic field at all and therefore does not protect astronauts. Earth magnetic field does not reach to the moon. Not even close. When you go to hospital you get very small doses of radiation but personel is well protected. In space you get massive doses even when there is no solar storm as moon basicly collects radioactive Helium from solar wind for thousands of years already if not millions....

By toyotabedzrock on 11/7/2008 2:40:24 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure solar storms are as destructive as they claim. Obviously many probes have been sent out into deep space since the 70s, and some continue to work. It seems like an overeaction of fear since they don't know what effect it will have on humans.

RE: SolarWind
By William Gaatjes on 11/7/2008 7:06:47 AM , Rating: 2
Those probes are shielded.

If we did not need a low radation enviroment, air, a certain atmospheric pressure surrounding our bodies, movement, food and toilets we could also be easily shielded. There is a reason why space travel is expensive as does this article show because every thing has to be designed to withstand the harsh enviroments. Mother earth protects us from all mean evil.

And life may always spawn when the enviroment is suitable, when the enviroment becomes unsuitable before the chance to adapt it's over with life. And radiation is a killer for complex life as we are. It's all about that the radation damages our dna, rna and proteins. Simple life like bacteria seem to survive almost everything.

Do a google for the processors used in probes. If i remember correctly the choices for those processors are pretty conservative because these processors must be able to withstand some radation without flipping bits. That means for example no 45nm processors are used like the intel penryn core. I doubt you will find much information but some basic stuff could be found.

Some stuff about apollo hardware.

Some fun information about "space" failures:

Howabout woodpeckers pecking into insulation foam of the external tank of the space shuttle. :)

RE: SolarWind
By William Gaatjes on 11/7/2008 7:37:02 AM , Rating: 2
Found something :

This site has some great information about what materials are used to counter or illiminate radiation.

The captain would say...
By kontorotsui on 11/5/2008 8:02:42 AM , Rating: 2
Shields up!

RE: The captain would say...
By wingless on 11/5/2008 11:14:46 AM , Rating: 3
EXACTLY what I was thinking. This is truly the first step to energy shields. They've already been developing plasma shields for military use so these two technologies together may yield interesting results.

One step
By FITCamaro on 11/5/08, Rating: 0
RE: One step
By JonnyDough on 11/6/2008 11:03:41 AM , Rating: 2
You're a bit behind the times, buddy.

By freeagle on 11/5/2008 8:13:26 AM , Rating: 2
Mars, the closest to Earth of the planets in our solar system.

That's not true. Venus is the closest to us:

Venus Aphelion: 0.728 AU ~> 0.272 AU from earth
Mars Perihelion: 1.381 AU ~> 0.381 AU from earth

The reason for Mars being the targeted destination is it's relative hospitality compared to the acidic atmosphere of Venus.

Take me with you!
By JonnyDough on 11/6/2008 11:01:19 AM , Rating: 2
"These initial experiments have shown promise and that it may be possible to shield astronauts from deadly space weather."

Good enough for me. Where do I sign up?

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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