AuthorTopic: 🚀 The ISS was never supposed to end like this  (Read 1150 times)

Offline RE

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🚀 The ISS was never supposed to end like this
« on: February 23, 2018, 02:19:54 AM »
Elon Musk will ride to the rescue!  ::)

RE

https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/iss-was-never-supposed-end-ncna848771

The ISS was never supposed to end like this
New plan to defund space station opens up some surprising possibilities.
by Corey S. Powell / Feb.22.2018 / 7:09 AM ET


The International Space Station orbits around Earth in 2010. NASA via AP file

It wasn’t supposed to end like this.

When the Trump administration released its latest budget proposal on Feb. 11, fans of human space exploration were dismayed to learn that it included plans to end America’s involvement in the International Space Station.

The proposal calls for the U.S. to sell its share of the ISS by 2025, treating the orbiting lab like some distressed piece of real estate in need of a buyer. Yet for much of the public — as well as to ardent space proponents, including former astronaut Mark Kelly — humanity’s only permanent outpost in space is an institution that needs to be protected.

“Cutting funding for the station,” Kelly said in an impassioned editorial, “would be a step backward for the space agency and certainly not in the best interest of the country.”

Kelly’s lament echoed loud across the internet. But a look back at the station’s long, messy history offers a different perspective. In the original plan, the ISS wasn’t supposed to end like this — because it was supposed to be a charred heap lying on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean by now.
Reagan and Russian roots

Since the launch of the station’s first component on Nov. 20, 1998, the ISS has logged 110,000 laps around Earth, covering more than 2.5 billion miles while hosting more than half of the 553 astronauts who have ever left our planet.

But the origins of the ISS date back to 1984, when President Reagan announced plans to build Space Station Freedom in a Kennedy-esque state of the union speech. “Tonight I am directing NASA to develop a permanently manned space station and to do it within a decade,” he said.
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 This artist's concept created in 1991 depicts the Space Station Freedom as it would look orbiting the Earth. Tom Buzbee / Marshall Space Center / NASA

Reagan promised that the station would bring “quantum leaps in our research in science, communications, and in metals and lifesaving medicines.” It was also supposed to foster collaboration with Europe, Canada, and Japan while preserving America’s preeminence in space.

Then came the harsh realities of translating Reagan’s vision into hardware. Freedom’s cost was initially estimated at $8 billion. That number quickly doubled, leading to a series of painful design compromises that still failed to stop the budget bloat.

The station might not have been built at all were it not for the fall of the Soviet Union.

In 1993 the U.S. and Russia signed an agreement to work together on a new International Space Station. The merger gained broad U.S. support as a way to keep Russian scientists gainfully employed (rather than, say, building bombs for the Taliban) while rescuing both nations from space station projects that had become embarrassingly unaffordable.

Yet even with the Russian assist, the “$8 billion” space station has wound up costing the U.S. roughly $90 billion in construction and transportation over the 19 years it’s been operating. On top of that, we pay $3 billion to $4 billion a year to operate the station.
 The Zarya Control Module off the ISS after it was mated with the Unity Node, right, in 1998. NASA

Those expenditures have put NASA in a bind: The ISS was designed to be a gateway to new deep-space missions, but the agency cannot afford such missions as long as it continues to fund the ISS. As a result, for nearly two decades, American astronauts and their international partners have had nowhere to go except a canned outpost circling just 240 miles above the ground.

That left the station with a lot of critics in the scientific community. “One unexpected side benefit of the ISS was in producing make-work projects for private industry like SpaceX to develop their rockets, and that would be useful down the road,” says Arizona State University physicist Lawrence Krauss. “But they probably don’t need that now, so no tears here if the project is terminated.”
A space station born to die

Even as the ISS was still under construction in 2009, the Obama administration announced a six-year plan to defund the station and bring about its demise. “In the first quarter of 2016, we'll prep and de-orbit the spacecraft,” ISS program manager Michael Suffredini said — “de-orbit” being a bureaucratic euphemism for “sending the thing to a flaming death.”
Related
A space station is falling to Earth. Here's where it could land.

Under this plan, NASA would end the regular rocket boosts that keep the station’s orbit from shrinking as a result of atmospheric drag. As the ISS drifted lower, crew members would be evacuated and then powerful strapped-on rockets would execute a series of firings, steering the ISS deeper into Earth’s upper atmosphere.

Ultimately, the station was to have been steered into the Pacific Ocean, where there was little chance that debris would rain down on someone’s head.

Except that NASA and its congressional overlords kept giving the ISS reprieves. By 2014, the official line was that the U.S. would move out of the ISS but that the station itself would survive at least until 2024. The Trump administration’s decision is hardly a new move against the ISS. It’s just one more in a long list of death notices.
Anybody want a lightly used space station?

What happens to the ISS after 2025 is a complete unknown. “There are lots of potential uses,” says former astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman, now a professor at MIT. “Other partners could continue scientific investigations. Private enterprise could turn it into a space hotel. However, I don’t know how any of these schemes would provide the resources to keep the station going.”

The space-hotel concept appeals to the Russian space contractor RKK Energia, which recently proposed building an orbiting luxury resort (priced at $40 million per visit) using ISS-related hardware. But the resort would be housed in a new module that need not be part of the station itself.

In the U.S., Robert Bigelow, CEO of Bigelow Aerospace, has proposed building space hotels, but his plans also do not revolve around the ISS. This week he announced a new company, Bigelow Space Operations, to build separate, private space stations, culminating in a supersized model with “over 2.4 times the pressurized volume of the entire International Space Station” late in the 2020s.
A different kind of race

If the future of the ISS remains murky, so is NASA’s post-ISS strategy. At the unveiling of the 2019 budget proposal, acting administrator Robert Lightfoot declared that freed-up ISS funds would pay for “the return of humans to the moon for long-term exploration.”

That’s a new priority, but not exactly a new plan. Even before Trump came into office, NASA was pushing the Deep Space Gateway (since renamed the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway), a space station to be situated near the moon.
 Lockheed Martin's concept for a deep space habitat. Stephen C Hartman / Lockheed Martin

Krauss is more optimistic about this project. “There is, at least in principle, something to do on the moon that would be useful, from learning how to do remote construction projects to science projects on the far side of the moon,” he says.

The problem is money. NASA’s current five-year budget map shows zero growth, and in 2019 there is only a trickle of money for new space infrastructure.

Private companies may yet come to the rescue. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos have both expressed interest in sending astronauts to the moon. Meanwhile, Bigelow Aerospace is seeking NASA support for another, more ambitious space station: an inflatable outpost, part hotel and part office park, located near the moon. Bigelow claims he can build it for $2.3 billion.

China is the wild card. Since the launch of its first astronaut, Yang Liwei, in 2003, the China National Space Administration has followed a slow but methodical strategy, sending up a pair of space stations with a third, larger station set to begin operations in 2023. In a recent interview with Chinese state media, Yang Liwei confirmed that the country is also making tentative “preparations for a manned lunar landing mission” in 2036.

In the long run, the end of NASA’s decades-long ISS project may mark the beginning of a new kind of space race: capitalist entrepreneurs versus the last communist superpower.
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Offline Palloy2

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Re: 🚀 The ISS was never supposed to end like this
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2018, 06:29:52 AM »
Whatever did happen to the  “quantum leaps in our research in science, communications, and in metals and lifesaving medicines.” ?  It seems the best thing about it is it's views of Earth.

Since everything was launched with the expenditure of massive amounts of rocket fuel, it would be ridiculous to let it fall down into the sea for the lack of a top up and a boost to a higher orbit. The Mars project will turn out to be equally silly.  Meanwhile people are dying on Earth for want of clean water.
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Offline RE

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Re: 🚀 The ISS was never supposed to end like this
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2018, 08:47:40 AM »
Whatever did happen to the  “quantum leaps in our research in science, communications, and in metals and lifesaving medicines.” ?  It seems the best thing about it is it's views of Earth.

Since everything was launched with the expenditure of massive amounts of rocket fuel, it would be ridiculous to let it fall down into the sea for the lack of a top up and a boost to a higher orbit. The Mars project will turn out to be equally silly.  Meanwhile people are dying on Earth for want of clean water.

It is of course a fabulous waste of resources.  It does however provide a lot of high paying jobs for rocket scientists and IT engineers who got laid off from NASA.

On the conspiracy theory side, effectively what they did was Privatize NASA, because they could get more money for building rockets (necessary for ICBMs and putting up spy satellites) through debt issuance by the TBTF Banks.  They also picked Elon Musk as the "face" of SpaceX so people would focus on him as their techno-leader.  I don't think the folks in the shadow Goobermint are so stupid they are financing this to go to Mars.  It's a means to keep the War Machine here on Earth going.

Far as quantum leaps in technology, we did get Tang and Space Blankets out of it.  ::)

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Offline Palloy2

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Re: 🚀 The ISS was never supposed to end like this
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2018, 02:38:55 PM »
Quote
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_blanket
First developed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in 1964 for the US space program ... was used e.g. on the Apollo Lunar Module.

And it stops beer warming up !

Quote
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tang_(drink)
Tang is a fruit-flavored drink. It was formulated by General Foods Corporation food scientist William A. Mitchell[1] in 1957, and first marketed in powdered form in 1959.

Sales of Tang were poor until NASA used it on John Glenn's Mercury flight in February 1962,[4] and subsequent Gemini missions.[5] Since then, it has been closely associated with the U.S. manned spaceflight program, leading to the misconception that Tang was invented for the space program.
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Offline RE

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Re: 🚀 The ISS was never supposed to end like this
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2018, 02:49:27 PM »
Quote
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_blanket
First developed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in 1964 for the US space program ... was used e.g. on the Apollo Lunar Module.

And it stops beer warming up !

Quote
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tang_(drink)
Tang is a fruit-flavored drink. It was formulated by General Foods Corporation food scientist William A. Mitchell[1] in 1957, and first marketed in powdered form in 1959.

Sales of Tang were poor until NASA used it on John Glenn's Mercury flight in February 1962,[4] and subsequent Gemini missions.[5] Since then, it has been closely associated with the U.S. manned spaceflight program, leading to the misconception that Tang was invented for the space program.

OK, nix Tang off their list of Technical Achievements.

They did give us Satellites though, which improved communications  Also made GPS possible.  Those were legitimate technical achievements.

RE
« Last Edit: February 23, 2018, 02:51:23 PM by RE »
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Offline Palloy2

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Re: 🚀 The ISS was never supposed to end like this
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2018, 03:58:41 PM »
Quote
They did give us Satellites though, which improved communications

 Not the ISS, that gave us nothing apart from long-term monitoring of astronaut physiology.
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Offline RE

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Re: 🚀 The ISS was never supposed to end like this
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2018, 04:06:24 PM »
Quote
They did give us Satellites though, which improved communications

 Not the ISS, that gave us nothing apart from long-term monitoring of astronaut physiology.

That is true, but the ISS was a necessary part of NASA keeping the dream of Space Travel alive and keep the funding rolling in.  They were piggy-backing on a Sci-Fi movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey.  However, putting a bunch of RV size Tin Cans up in Space didn't sufficiently capture the imagination of the Techno Ethusiast population, and funding for the whole organization began to dry up.  But the Military still needed Rockets and Space development, so they Privatized it and set Elon Musk up as the Front Man for SpaceX.

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🚀 There's Only One Way For Humanity to Survive. Go To Mars
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2018, 03:53:49 AM »
Can someone give Michio Kaku a Reality Check PUHLEEEEZ?  ::)

RE

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/02/there-s-only-one-way-for-humanity-to-survive--go-to-mars-/

There's Only One Way For Humanity to Survive. Go To Mars.
Futurist Michio Kaku sees humans doing ballet on Mars and projecting their brains into the cosmos. And aliens? Oh, they're coming.


1 / 5
Picture of Mars made by the Hubble Telescope.
Picture of Mars Rover
View Images

The only way for humans to survive is to colonize at least one other planet, possibly Mars, says futurist Michio Kaku.
Photograph by NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Bell (ASU), and M. Wolff (Space Science Institute)

This self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle exploring the red planet.
Photograph by NASA, JPL-Caltech, MSSS

The Apollo 14 mission in 1971, with U.S. astronauts Alan Shepard (L, first row) and Edgar Mitchell (R), was the third mission to land on the moon.
Photograph by STF, AFP, Getty Images

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 10 communications satellites illuminates the Southern California sky above the Pacific Ocean.
Photograph by Mark Johnson, Ironstring Credit: Ironstring, Alamy Live News

In the War of the Worlds, aliens invaded Earth to colonize it.
Photograph by BFA, Alamy Stock Photo
By Simon Worrall

PUBLISHED March 3, 2018

As a child in Palo Alto, California, he built an atom smasher in the garage. He later became one of the founders of string theory. Today, with his flowing mane of silver locks, Michio Kaku is one of the most recognizable faces of science, with several bestselling books and numerous television appearances, including on the Discovery Channel and the BBC.

In his new book, The Future Of Humanity, he argues passionately that our future lies not on Earth, but in the stars.

When National Geographic caught up with him by phone at his office at City College, in New York City, he explained how billionaires like Elon Musk are transforming space travel; why laser porting may be the best way to reach other galaxies; and how one day there may be ballet dancers on Mars.
Picture of cover art from The Future of Humanity by Michio Kaku
View Images
Photograph courtesy of Doubleday

Right at the beginning of the book, you make the shocking prediction: “Either we must leave the Earth or we will perish.” Are humanity’s prospects really that dire? And doesn’t this play into the nihilistic feeling that there is nothing we can do to save this planet?

If you take a look at evolution on Earth, 99.9 percent of all life forms have gone extinct. When things change, either you adapt or die. That’s the law of Mother Nature. We face various hazards. First of all, we have self-inflicted problems like global warming, nuclear proliferation and bio-engineered germ warfare. Plus, Mother Nature has hurled at the Earth a number of extinction cycles. The dinosaurs, for example, didn’t have a space program. And that’s why the dinosaurs are not here today.

On the other hand, we shouldn’t use this as an excuse to pollute the Earth, or let global warming run amok. We should cure these problems without having to leave for Mars or another planet, because it’s impossible to remove the entire population of Earth to Mars. We’re talking about an insurance policy—a backup plan in case something does happen to the Earth. I once talked to Carl Sagan about this, who said, “We live in the middle of a shooting gallery with thousands of asteroids in our path that we haven’t even discovered yet. So, let’s be at least a two-planet species, as a backup plan.”

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One of the beautiful images you conjure is of ballet dancing on Mars. Explain why this may one day be less fanciful than it seems.

We have the Olympics, where we have athletes that understand the laws of gravity on Earth, but once we’re on the moon and Mars, we have a totally different set of physical constraints. Here, ice skaters can’t do anything more than a quad; four rotations in the air and that’s it! No one has ever done a quint. However, on Mars the gravity is only 30 percent of Earth, so one day we may have an Olympics on Mars where people could do four, five, six, seven rotations in the air, and ballet, or acrobatics, and gymnastics. A whole new set of athletes could be formed because they are adapted to a new environment where the gravity and air pressure is lower. The astronaut Alan Shepard was the first one to golf—golf—on the moon! He snuck on a pair of golf irons. NASA was horrified, yet in the Smithsonian Museum now, you can see a replica of the golf clubs he used, to prove that interstellar sports could become a real possibility.

You use the phrase “the fourth wave of science.” Explain what this means and how it could one day make it possible to terraform Mars.

We’ve had three waves of scientific innovation. The first wave, the Industrial Revolution, gave us the steam engine, the locomotive, and factories. The second wave was electricity and magnetism, whereby we had TV, internal combustion cars, a beginning of the space program. The third revolution is high tech: computers, lasers, the Internet.

Now we have the fourth wave of innovation: artificial intelligence, biotech, and nanotech. That’s going to change the way we view Mars. Many people say Mars is cold and desolate, and there’s nothing to grow there. We can genetically modify plants and algae to thrive in the Martian atmosphere. But who’s going to do the heavy lifting? We all would like to see futuristic cities on Mars, but robots are going to become much more adapted to working in these harsh environments by the end of this century, so we expect to see robotic construction workers building the fantastic domed cities you see in science fiction novels.

Elon Musk recently launched his old Tesla sports car into space. Tell us about the “battle of the billionaires” and how they are shaping the future.

Space was very expensive back in the 1960s. That’s why, after we went to the moon, we lost interest. Now we’re talking about a new golden age of space exploration, in part because a whole fleet of Silicon Valley billionaires are fulfilling their childhood dreams, building spaceports on their own. The Falcon Heavy moon rocket launched by Space X was funded by Elon Musk’s own pocket money. It was the most powerful rocket ever and taxpayers didn’t pay one dime.

Both Musk and NASA are focused on Mars as the next challenge. Talk us through the problems we will face, and what solutions we might find.

We’re going to have to be very careful sending our astronauts to Mars. Going to the moon took only three days. You could go to the moon on Monday and come back on Friday. Going to Mars is a whole other picture. It takes nine months just to get to Mars, then you have to wait a few months for the planets to realign and then another nine months to come back. So, it’s a two-year journey where weightlessness, cosmic radiation, and micrometeorites will all be problems. Mars is also frozen, so we’re going to have to heat up the surface, which is called terraforming.

Early settlers who came to the U.S. almost 400 years ago had game to shoot, plants to raise and topsoil on which to grow crops. But we will have to bring everything to Mars ourselves. That’s why cost is so important and why we want robots to build things, genetically engineered crops to thrive in that environment, and nanotechnology to create lightweight, super-strong building materials that are pre-fabricated to create dome cities.
 
How to Terraform Mars Have you ever dreamed of living on another planet? Well it might not be as sci-fi as it sounds. In this episode of Today I Learned, astrobiologist and National Geographic Explorer Brendan Mullan lays out the blueprints for how we might terraform Mars.

Travelling to distant stars will require new forms of transportation. Tell us about the Breakthrough Starshot project and other fantastical ideas being advanced.

Once again, Silicon Valley billionaires are opening up their checkbooks to the tune of $100 million to build the first starship to go to the nearest star, Proxima Centauri. We’ve been brainwashed by Hollywood to think that you have to have a gigantic starship, like The Enterprise, with heroic captains, like Captain Kirk. But the first starship that goes to Proxima Centauri could be the size of a postage stamp—a computer chock full of sensors and cameras, with a parachute on it. You inflate the parachute by shooting a laser beam at it from Earth, maybe 800 megawatts of energy, which would shoot these tiny parachutes up to 20 percent the speed of light. That is doable, believe it or not. So in just 20 years some of them may reach the nearest star, using off-the-shelf technology. Looking further into the future, physicists are already dreaming about the post-chemical rocket era when we might use antimatter, fusion power, or ramjet reactors in order to travel at 50 percent the speed of light, which could take us to the stars.

Another problem with deep-space travel is that it may take hundreds of light-years to reach your destination. You suggest deep freezing astronauts, then thawing them out at the other end. To quote John McEnroe: You can’t be serious, can you?

The stars are extremely far away, but one day we hope to use advanced physics to go faster than the speed of light—warp drive. Until we get warp drive, we’re stuck with rockets that are below the speed of light and the planets we have discovered that are Earth-like would take hundreds of years to reach. This means we have to find the secret of extending the human lifespan or learn how to freeze ourselves. Some companies already offer to freeze your body so that when you are thawed out, there’ll be cures for cancer and other diseases. Don’t believe it. These companies, I think, are bogus. However, it’s a possibility that has to be looked at.

We’ve discovered about 60 genes that seem to influence the lifespan of human beings and we know that certain genes allow animals to live for centuries. The Greenland shark, for example, lives to be over 400 years of age. So genetics may make it possible to slow down the aging process.

Your own preferred solution is what you call laser porting. Explain what this is—and how the Human Connectome Project may be laying the foundations.

The first big scientific project was the Manhattan Project, which gave us the atomic bomb. The second was the Human Genome Project, which gave us the human genome. The third could be the Connectome Project. Many nations, including the U.S., have said that the brain is the key to understanding mental health, depression, and suicide. All that could perhaps be unraveled if we understand the connectome, which is a map of the entire brain.

We expect to have this perhaps by the end of this century. But once we have it, what do we do with it? We could look at mental illness, but we could also put it on a laser beam and shoot it into outer space. In one second, you’d be on the moon; in 20 minutes you’re on Mars; and in years you’re on the nearest star. So laser porting is perhaps the most efficient way to explore the galaxy without booster rockets, radiation dangers, or problems from asteroid impacts. You just laser port yourself!

Let’s end with the million-dollar question: Will we one day make contact with another civilization in outer space? If so, when? And do you agree with Stephen Hawking, who warned of the dangers of contact?

I definitely think we have to take his warning to heart because we will one day encounter other terrestrial life forms. They’re probably going to be thousands of years more advanced than us. They’re not going to want to plunder us for resources because there are a lot of uninhabited planets out there, like Mars, that they can plunder without having to deal with restive natives like us. The main threat is that we might be in the way. In the novel The War of The Worlds, the Martians wanted to take over the Earth not because they were evil or because they didn’t like Homo sapiens. They had to remove us so Martians could thrive on Earth and terraform it so it looked like Mars.

We have discovered 4,000 planets so far in the galaxy, and we now know that on average every star in the galaxy has a planet of some kind. So I think it’s inevitable that we’re going to bump into one of these advanced civilizations and it will change world history. Not like Cortez meeting Montezuma and shattering Aztec civilization in a matter of months. The conquistadors had a hidden agenda. They wanted to plunder the gold of the Aztecs. I don’t think the aliens will want that. And, hopefully, there’ll be a mentor to show us the way to the future without having to go to war and resort to savagery and barbarism.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Simon Worrall curates Book Talk. Follow him on Twitter or at simonworrallauthor.com.
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Offline Golden Oxen

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Re: 🚀 There's Only One Way For Humanity to Survive. Go To Mars
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2018, 04:37:48 AM »
Can someone give Michio Kaku a Reality Check PUHLEEEEZ?  ::)

RE

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/02/there-s-only-one-way-for-humanity-to-survive--go-to-mars-/

There's Only One Way For Humanity to Survive. Go To Mars.
Futurist Michio Kaku sees humans doing ballet on Mars and projecting their brains into the cosmos. And aliens? Oh, they're coming.


1 / 5
Picture of Mars made by the Hubble Telescope.
Picture of Mars Rover
View Images

The only way for humans to survive is to colonize at least one other planet, possibly Mars, says futurist Michio Kaku.
Photograph by NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Bell (ASU), and M. Wolff (Space Science Institute)

This self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle exploring the red planet.
Photograph by NASA, JPL-Caltech, MSSS

The Apollo 14 mission in 1971, with U.S. astronauts Alan Shepard (L, first row) and Edgar Mitchell (R), was the third mission to land on the moon.
Photograph by STF, AFP, Getty Images

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 10 communications satellites illuminates the Southern California sky above the Pacific Ocean.
Photograph by Mark Johnson, Ironstring Credit: Ironstring, Alamy Live News

In the War of the Worlds, aliens invaded Earth to colonize it.
Photograph by BFA, Alamy Stock Photo
By Simon Worrall

PUBLISHED March 3, 2018

As a child in Palo Alto, California, he built an atom smasher in the garage. He later became one of the founders of string theory. Today, with his flowing mane of silver locks, Michio Kaku is one of the most recognizable faces of science, with several bestselling books and numerous television appearances, including on the Discovery Channel and the BBC.

In his new book, The Future Of Humanity, he argues passionately that our future lies not on Earth, but in the stars.

When National Geographic caught up with him by phone at his office at City College, in New York City, he explained how billionaires like Elon Musk are transforming space travel; why laser porting may be the best way to reach other galaxies; and how one day there may be ballet dancers on Mars.
Picture of cover art from The Future of Humanity by Michio Kaku
View Images
Photograph courtesy of Doubleday

Right at the beginning of the book, you make the shocking prediction: “Either we must leave the Earth or we will perish.” Are humanity’s prospects really that dire? And doesn’t this play into the nihilistic feeling that there is nothing we can do to save this planet?

If you take a look at evolution on Earth, 99.9 percent of all life forms have gone extinct. When things change, either you adapt or die. That’s the law of Mother Nature. We face various hazards. First of all, we have self-inflicted problems like global warming, nuclear proliferation and bio-engineered germ warfare. Plus, Mother Nature has hurled at the Earth a number of extinction cycles. The dinosaurs, for example, didn’t have a space program. And that’s why the dinosaurs are not here today.

On the other hand, we shouldn’t use this as an excuse to pollute the Earth, or let global warming run amok. We should cure these problems without having to leave for Mars or another planet, because it’s impossible to remove the entire population of Earth to Mars. We’re talking about an insurance policy—a backup plan in case something does happen to the Earth. I once talked to Carl Sagan about this, who said, “We live in the middle of a shooting gallery with thousands of asteroids in our path that we haven’t even discovered yet. So, let’s be at least a two-planet species, as a backup plan.”

You Might Also Like

    Weird Life Found in Earth's Driest Soil
    Partial Solar Eclipse and 6 More Can't-Miss Sky Events in February
    Huge Water Reserves Found All Over Mars

One of the beautiful images you conjure is of ballet dancing on Mars. Explain why this may one day be less fanciful than it seems.

We have the Olympics, where we have athletes that understand the laws of gravity on Earth, but once we’re on the moon and Mars, we have a totally different set of physical constraints. Here, ice skaters can’t do anything more than a quad; four rotations in the air and that’s it! No one has ever done a quint. However, on Mars the gravity is only 30 percent of Earth, so one day we may have an Olympics on Mars where people could do four, five, six, seven rotations in the air, and ballet, or acrobatics, and gymnastics. A whole new set of athletes could be formed because they are adapted to a new environment where the gravity and air pressure is lower. The astronaut Alan Shepard was the first one to golf—golf—on the moon! He snuck on a pair of golf irons. NASA was horrified, yet in the Smithsonian Museum now, you can see a replica of the golf clubs he used, to prove that interstellar sports could become a real possibility.

You use the phrase “the fourth wave of science.” Explain what this means and how it could one day make it possible to terraform Mars.

We’ve had three waves of scientific innovation. The first wave, the Industrial Revolution, gave us the steam engine, the locomotive, and factories. The second wave was electricity and magnetism, whereby we had TV, internal combustion cars, a beginning of the space program. The third revolution is high tech: computers, lasers, the Internet.

Now we have the fourth wave of innovation: artificial intelligence, biotech, and nanotech. That’s going to change the way we view Mars. Many people say Mars is cold and desolate, and there’s nothing to grow there. We can genetically modify plants and algae to thrive in the Martian atmosphere. But who’s going to do the heavy lifting? We all would like to see futuristic cities on Mars, but robots are going to become much more adapted to working in these harsh environments by the end of this century, so we expect to see robotic construction workers building the fantastic domed cities you see in science fiction novels.

Elon Musk recently launched his old Tesla sports car into space. Tell us about the “battle of the billionaires” and how they are shaping the future.

Space was very expensive back in the 1960s. That’s why, after we went to the moon, we lost interest. Now we’re talking about a new golden age of space exploration, in part because a whole fleet of Silicon Valley billionaires are fulfilling their childhood dreams, building spaceports on their own. The Falcon Heavy moon rocket launched by Space X was funded by Elon Musk’s own pocket money. It was the most powerful rocket ever and taxpayers didn’t pay one dime.

Both Musk and NASA are focused on Mars as the next challenge. Talk us through the problems we will face, and what solutions we might find.

We’re going to have to be very careful sending our astronauts to Mars. Going to the moon took only three days. You could go to the moon on Monday and come back on Friday. Going to Mars is a whole other picture. It takes nine months just to get to Mars, then you have to wait a few months for the planets to realign and then another nine months to come back. So, it’s a two-year journey where weightlessness, cosmic radiation, and micrometeorites will all be problems. Mars is also frozen, so we’re going to have to heat up the surface, which is called terraforming.

Early settlers who came to the U.S. almost 400 years ago had game to shoot, plants to raise and topsoil on which to grow crops. But we will have to bring everything to Mars ourselves. That’s why cost is so important and why we want robots to build things, genetically engineered crops to thrive in that environment, and nanotechnology to create lightweight, super-strong building materials that are pre-fabricated to create dome cities.
 
How to Terraform Mars Have you ever dreamed of living on another planet? Well it might not be as sci-fi as it sounds. In this episode of Today I Learned, astrobiologist and National Geographic Explorer Brendan Mullan lays out the blueprints for how we might terraform Mars.

Travelling to distant stars will require new forms of transportation. Tell us about the Breakthrough Starshot project and other fantastical ideas being advanced.

Once again, Silicon Valley billionaires are opening up their checkbooks to the tune of $100 million to build the first starship to go to the nearest star, Proxima Centauri. We’ve been brainwashed by Hollywood to think that you have to have a gigantic starship, like The Enterprise, with heroic captains, like Captain Kirk. But the first starship that goes to Proxima Centauri could be the size of a postage stamp—a computer chock full of sensors and cameras, with a parachute on it. You inflate the parachute by shooting a laser beam at it from Earth, maybe 800 megawatts of energy, which would shoot these tiny parachutes up to 20 percent the speed of light. That is doable, believe it or not. So in just 20 years some of them may reach the nearest star, using off-the-shelf technology. Looking further into the future, physicists are already dreaming about the post-chemical rocket era when we might use antimatter, fusion power, or ramjet reactors in order to travel at 50 percent the speed of light, which could take us to the stars.

Another problem with deep-space travel is that it may take hundreds of light-years to reach your destination. You suggest deep freezing astronauts, then thawing them out at the other end. To quote John McEnroe: You can’t be serious, can you?

The stars are extremely far away, but one day we hope to use advanced physics to go faster than the speed of light—warp drive. Until we get warp drive, we’re stuck with rockets that are below the speed of light and the planets we have discovered that are Earth-like would take hundreds of years to reach. This means we have to find the secret of extending the human lifespan or learn how to freeze ourselves. Some companies already offer to freeze your body so that when you are thawed out, there’ll be cures for cancer and other diseases. Don’t believe it. These companies, I think, are bogus. However, it’s a possibility that has to be looked at.

We’ve discovered about 60 genes that seem to influence the lifespan of human beings and we know that certain genes allow animals to live for centuries. The Greenland shark, for example, lives to be over 400 years of age. So genetics may make it possible to slow down the aging process.

Your own preferred solution is what you call laser porting. Explain what this is—and how the Human Connectome Project may be laying the foundations.

The first big scientific project was the Manhattan Project, which gave us the atomic bomb. The second was the Human Genome Project, which gave us the human genome. The third could be the Connectome Project. Many nations, including the U.S., have said that the brain is the key to understanding mental health, depression, and suicide. All that could perhaps be unraveled if we understand the connectome, which is a map of the entire brain.

We expect to have this perhaps by the end of this century. But once we have it, what do we do with it? We could look at mental illness, but we could also put it on a laser beam and shoot it into outer space. In one second, you’d be on the moon; in 20 minutes you’re on Mars; and in years you’re on the nearest star. So laser porting is perhaps the most efficient way to explore the galaxy without booster rockets, radiation dangers, or problems from asteroid impacts. You just laser port yourself!

Let’s end with the million-dollar question: Will we one day make contact with another civilization in outer space? If so, when? And do you agree with Stephen Hawking, who warned of the dangers of contact?

I definitely think we have to take his warning to heart because we will one day encounter other terrestrial life forms. They’re probably going to be thousands of years more advanced than us. They’re not going to want to plunder us for resources because there are a lot of uninhabited planets out there, like Mars, that they can plunder without having to deal with restive natives like us. The main threat is that we might be in the way. In the novel The War of The Worlds, the Martians wanted to take over the Earth not because they were evil or because they didn’t like Homo sapiens. They had to remove us so Martians could thrive on Earth and terraform it so it looked like Mars.

We have discovered 4,000 planets so far in the galaxy, and we now know that on average every star in the galaxy has a planet of some kind. So I think it’s inevitable that we’re going to bump into one of these advanced civilizations and it will change world history. Not like Cortez meeting Montezuma and shattering Aztec civilization in a matter of months. The conquistadors had a hidden agenda. They wanted to plunder the gold of the Aztecs. I don’t think the aliens will want that. And, hopefully, there’ll be a mentor to show us the way to the future without having to go to war and resort to savagery and barbarism.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Simon Worrall curates Book Talk. Follow him on Twitter or at simonworrallauthor.com.

You seem to have a propensity to assume the recognized geniuses of our planet are fools.

Some folks, quite possibly are much smarter than we Diners. A very distinct possibility.

While I know zero about space travel, you may well be correct this time for all I know.  :dontknow:

My instincts tell me with much certainty that you would have ridiculed the Wright Brothers, and my imagination runs wild thinking what you would have called a futurist who claimed the skies would soon be littered with planes the size of football fields carrying cargo and jumbo Concord and Boeing aircraft carrying thousands of people from continent to continent while enjoying a martini and filet mignon in an elaborate comfortable  setting.

The gentleman putting forth this idea about Mars is no dunce RE. Perhaps you should consider going through a brief reality check, and start by considering the backgrounds and accomplishments of people before dismissing them as spaced out whackos.   

                                 


                                 


                                 


                                 


                               

Offline RE

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Re: 🚀 There's Only One Way For Humanity to Survive. Go To Mars
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2018, 04:46:28 AM »
You seem to have a propensity to assume the recognized geniuses of our planet are fools.

And you have a propensity for brown nosing anyone who is a "recognized genius".  ::)  We're even.

RE
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Offline Surly1

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Re: 🚀 There's Only One Way For Humanity to Survive. Go To Mars
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2018, 05:31:52 AM »
You seem to have a propensity to assume the recognized geniuses of our planet are fools.

And you have a propensity for brown nosing anyone who is a "recognized genius".  ::)  We're even.

RE

Not quite. GO brought the house. He wins this round.


"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline RE

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Re: 🚀 There's Only One Way For Humanity to Survive. Go To Mars
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2018, 05:43:20 AM »
You seem to have a propensity to assume the recognized geniuses of our planet are fools.

And you have a propensity for brown nosing anyone who is a "recognized genius".  ::)  We're even.

RE

Not quite. GO brought the house. He wins this round.

"Brought the House?"  WTF does that mean? ???  :icon_scratch:  Michio Kaku is just like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking.  They are all Idiot Savants.  Smart in their area of expertiese, complete imbeciles everywhere else.  It's following the plans and directions of people like this that got us into this mess to begin with.  ::)

RE
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Offline Surly1

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Re: 🚀 There's Only One Way For Humanity to Survive. Go To Mars
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2018, 07:02:40 AM »
You seem to have a propensity to assume the recognized geniuses of our planet are fools.

And you have a propensity for brown nosing anyone who is a "recognized genius".  ::)  We're even.

RE

Not quite. GO brought the house. He wins this round.

"Brought the House?"  WTF does that mean? ???  :icon_scratch:  Michio Kaku is just like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking.  They are all Idiot Savants.  Smart in their area of expertiese, complete imbeciles everywhere else.  It's following the plans and directions of people like this that got us into this mess to begin with.  ::)

RE

He asked a number of good questions you failed to engage, and made a salient point you ignored.
You remind me of the quote attributed to Charles H. Duell, the Commissioner of US patent office in 1899. Mr. Duell's most famous attributed utterance is that "everything that can be invented has been invented." It may be that the quote is apocryphal, but per usual on the Diner Forum, let's not let the facts stand in the way of a good story, shall we?

If you're scoring at home...

Kaku                                                                                      RE
High school
assembled a particle accelerator in his                               was smart
parents' garage for a science fair project.

Education
Graduated summa from Harvard, 1968,                            attended Columbia
first in his physics class.
Ph.D. UC Berkeley Radiation Lab, 1972

Publications                                                         Book of the Diner
Nine books
Several textbooks on string theory
and quantum field theory.

Radio
Host of weekly one-hour radio program Exploration,         Occasional podcast
produced by the Pacifica Foundation

Enough.

Kaku may be a popularizer, but don't we need those, since Carl Sagan is not returning phone calls? He remains on the side of the angels:

Quote
Policy advocacy and activism[edit]
Kaku has publicly stated his concerns over matters including people denying the anthropogenic cause of global warming, nuclear armament, nuclear power and what he believes to be the general misuse of science.[16] He was critical of the Cassini–Huygens space probe because of the 72 pounds (33 kg) of plutonium contained in the craft for use by its radioisotope thermoelectric generator. Conscious of the possibility of casualties if the probe's fuel were dispersed into the environment during a malfunction and crash as the probe was making a 'sling-shot' maneuver around Earth, Kaku publicly criticized NASA's risk assessment.[17]

GO's point was that it really easy to tear down seekers and dreamers from the cheap seats. I think he successfully made it.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline RE

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Re: 🚀 There's Only One Way For Humanity to Survive. Go To Mars
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2018, 07:14:58 AM »
GO's point was that it really easy to tear down seekers and dreamers from the cheap seats. I think he successfully made it.

Your Opinion has been Duly Noted & Filed.  :icon_mrgreen:



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Offline Surly1

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Re: 🚀 There's Only One Way For Humanity to Survive. Go To Mars
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2018, 07:41:43 AM »
GO's point was that it really easy to tear down seekers and dreamers from the cheap seats. I think he successfully made it.

Your Opinion has been Duly Noted & Filed.  :icon_mrgreen:



RE

You are many things; a gracious loser ain't one of them.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

 

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