White House to Hubble..So long..it's been nice.

Our vision for space died in the early 70s. It is the great shame of our nation that we do not have a functioning base on the moon today.

For the love of hamsters. If we decided to spend a shitload of money repairing it, there would be a bunch of people complaining that it’s a waste of money with so many problems here on Earth.

Why is it a waste to spend money on missle defense technology, but OK to spend it getting pretty pictures of far-off stars? It couldn’t be because radiographs aren’t quite as sexy, could it? Right or wrong, I can see this being broken down to two camps. If you beleive in Creationism, God made it all and there’s little reason to examine what doesn’t affect you. Evolution? It’s the natural order of things, yet, there’s little to learn that we can use for mankind. (This sounds better in my head, but with the flu it doesn’t look right on the screen. Take it easy on me for one day)

Personally, I’d rather the money go to manned exploration. Unless someone can tell me the benefit of studying a galaxy 100 million light years away. (There may be, but I don’t know what it is. Legit question.)

I think gobear nailed it. Add to that the fact that in the wake of the Columbia disaster repairs to the Hubble would be anything but guaranteed and would again involve putting astronauts lives at risk.

Does anyone know if Webb will be delivered by shuttle or rocket?

In order to be able to explain the universe and everything in it, including the origin of these incredible biological computers called humans (some of whom, amazingly, aren’t even curious how they came to exist as a sentient three dimensional organism!)

The quest for this explanation requires that the money be spent on other things than Hubble: the European Space Agency gave one such example last week. The quest requires that the money is most definitely not spent on putting one of those fragile organisms in an arbitrary position in the solar system and bringing them back again.

It’s going up on an Ariane 5 - since it’s going to the L2 Lagrangian point, there’s no way a shuttle mission could get it where it needs to be.

Because any missile defense technology which isn’t perfect is counterproductive (that is, it encourages your opponent to built more weapons to overwhelm your system, or resort to other methods for weapon delivery), and frankly, was always more of a bargining chip on the negotiating table than a technical feasibility. “Pretty pictures of far-off stars?” is a snarky way of dismissing original research and the expansion of human knowledge.

I’m not clear on the direct link you are trying to make between astronomy and religion/biology, but the notion that there is no value in curiousity of the natural world (either from religious or scientific viewpoints) is belied by the fact that all of our technology, from fire on up, is a result of somebody getting curious and “wasting” a lot of time to figure it out. Evolution is a good example; once the concept of evolution and the theory of natural selection came into public discourse, natural philosophers started looking at biology in an entirely different light, of being the result of ongoing chemical processes rather than some kind of divinely motivated manifestation, and leading to the scientific method, modern pharmacology, and the concept of viral/bacterial infection as a causative agent for disease. Without that, we’d still be interpreting illness in terms of the four bodily humours or similar nonsense.

As for religious inquiry, while I don’t feel I’m qualified speak definitely on the subject, it seems to me that if you believe the world to be the result of supernatural creation then examining the laws and artifacts of the natural world would bring you to a closer understanding of your creator, which was the goal of the Enlightenment-era natural philosophers. If the point of your religion is to ignore the outside world and engage in naval-gazing then you might was well go whole hog and become a Solipsist.

You’d be hard-pressed to come up with any immediate, genuine benefits from manned exploration. The primary justification for the ISS is to study the effects of long-term space habitation…so we can put men in orbit, which is rather a tautology in terms of overall benefit.

The value of studying objects far away is that it is a way to see into the past, to have a better understanding of the underlying principles of physics, and to observe how stars and galaxies develop. Will it benefit us (us being the general, not interested in icky science population) in the next five years? Nope. The next fifty? Probably not. The next five hundred? Hmmm…

And it’s a heck of a lot more fun, or at least less repugnant, than filling up mass graves.


That goes without saying.
I’m high as a kite on NyQuil right now, so maybe I can clarify later what I said. It made sense when I thought of it, but kind of, well, lost it while typing.

(Should be no surprise to veteren Dopers) :smiley:

Well for one, studying a galaxy 100 million light years away might help us figure out this whole dark energy/dark matter conundrum. When 90% of the mass of the whole friggin universe is invisible to us, and is being accelerated away from us by an unknown force, it’s not unreasonable to suspect that figuring out where the mass is, and what the force is that’s acting on it, might have practical implications right down here on this planet.

Yes, I understand the desire to find these answers, and I’d like to know them as well. What I’m saying is that spending vast amounts of money right now to discover them is beneficial how? Most of us would like to unlock the secrets of the cosmos. What hasn’t been made clear to me is to what end is the knowledge being gained?

Is it just our natural curiosity? Hubris? Ennui? I’m not staunchly against space exploration, I guess it just hasn’t been made clear to me what we, theoretically, could do with the info gained.

I’m not trying to piss in anyones pool party and maybe I should just start my own thread. It just hasn’t been explained to me.
Yet. :confused:

It was dead by then. Nixon was cancelling future Apollo missions even as they were flying.

But did we have a vision, besides landing on the moon? I think a Mars mission would be the same mistake as Apollo - a short term mission, with no long term presence in space. It’s depressing to read all those books from the '50s by Willy Ley and von Braun. Though we made it to the moon faster than they predicted, they had a far better long term strategy. Today we have our rickety transportation capability, and our International Space Slum.

Does anyone seriously think the Mars mission will happen? It has no support, and will be real easy to cut when other administrations come in, Republican or Democrat. The worst case would be to keep it and cancel the moon base and the new launch vehicle.

Does the White House appropriate money now?

No offense, but that’s batty. While most scientists are a little loathe to admit it, there’s a common understanding that sending PEOPLE into space these days is pretty fricking useless. About the only interesting thing you can do with them that you couldn’t do with a machine for much cheaper is… study what humans are like in space. Wow! We might as well study what humans are like immersed in giant vats of jello: it’s about as useful and cost effective. There will be plenty of time to study humans in space when it actually becomes cost effective to send significant numbers of them there for some other useful purpose. Right now, it’s a complete waste of time.

I think others here have pointed out some key ideas here. Instead of sending a oozing fleshbag somwhere to plant flags, we can actually just look and study things from afar for much less money and hassle, and also maybe discover, like, the rest of the mysteries of the entire universe. Man.

I don’t see letting Hubble go as necessarily a bad decision: I could go either way. It was great while it lasted, and it did as much if not more than it set out to do (well, maybe less, given it’s flawed design). On to other projects for now.

I’m not sure who you’re referring to as “we”, but that was a European mission, not NASA.

And I don’t have a cite, but I do believe I’ve heard that there are now land-based telescopes that can outperform the Hubble, which would kind of help justify not spending any more money on it, no?

As a joint British-US citizen I feel quite happy describing all sorts of people as “we”; plus, I believe it was a joint mission in the best tradition of international cooperation. wipes misty eyes :slight_smile:

Yup; the only complete loss AIUI is that we’ll no longer have any UV observation capabilities, since the atmosphere is opaque at those wavelengths, and the James Webb will not be equipped with such an instrument. I don’t know enough about astronomy to know if a lack of UV capabilities in the short term is a particularly bad thing or not.

Because the telescope works. Star Wars doesn’t.

Star Wars worked tremendously. Have you not seen the worldwide take on the franchise?

SDI, on the other hand, could work if the research money was afforded it. However, spendings the billions and billions on research to make it viable isn’t very, well, viable. With the brainpower and ingenuity of the world’s scientists, engineers, physicists and programmers, I have little doubt that time and money are the only things holding it back. But building it just for the sake of building it doesn’t make sense.

It wasn’t a really fair comparison between the two, though. So I’ll retract linking the two.

I am not feeling any lovce for the “billions for Iraq, but not billions for space” argument. Certainly Iraq is a waste of money, although this is these least pornographic element of the war. But that has precious little to do with whether tons of government money should be spent on space telescopes and the such.

I was looking forward to us all having antigravity belts and dark matter based cassette decks that you can throw at the walls without damage to either the wall, or the deck.
Seriously though, the missing mass and dark energy are holes in our understanding of how the universe works perhaps as large as the hole that existed before Newton discovered the Calculus. New knowledge of that magnitude has a way of opening new opportunities for exploitation. With Hubble gone, it may take a lot longer for us to arrive at those new possibilities.

quote = duffer :smack:

Following on other posters, you can read Mining the Sky by John S. Lewis to learn about how many asteroids they are, how easy many of them are to reach, and what sorts of goodies can be found therein. Lewis’s economics suck (he seems to think that dropping a trillion dollars of pure nickel into the world’s metals markets will make everybody enormously rich, rather than substantially devaluing the nickel), but the science is solid. There’s a tremendous resource there, just waiting for (intelligent) exploitation.