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French plans for reform of ESA
imipak
post Jul 1 2008, 06:58 PM
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Report on the BBC News site (which I've not heard mentioned on any other BBC news output today):

QUOTE
Ambitious plans for European missions to the Moon and Mars are being considered by the French government. It wants to kick-start a revolution in space by letting EU politicians not bureaucrats decide on priorities for the European Space Agency (Esa).

[ ...snip a lot of woolly stuff about manned missions to Mars and the need for politically defined objectives... ]

According to the French, the UK is their model partner in this endeavour.

*choke* well that's, uh, interesting...

Fairly long and interesting article - a little bit off-topic for UMSF perhaps, but some might be interested.


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djellison
post Jul 1 2008, 09:30 PM
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Doing a little dance along the 'no politics' rule..a few people slipped one foot over. Posts deleted.

Doug
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Juramike
post Jul 1 2008, 09:57 PM
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It all sounds good.

Another space race would be a good thing. I hope they also look to push their current unmanned objectives beyond Mars orbit as well. More grandiose plans by the ESA to explore the Outer Solar System might push to bigger funding for missions (note plural).


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TheChemist
post Jul 2 2008, 12:09 AM
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Yep, it sounds good. However, under the current financial strains in many EU countries, I wonder whether the timing is good.
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dvandorn
post Jul 2 2008, 04:34 AM
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The current financial strains are only going to get worse, I fear. The world is facing a near-future resource crisis, which is going to create a *lot* of financial strains.

I'm firmly convinced that both msf and umsf can be powerful tools in overcoming this resource crisis, but we need to have the infrastructure for both a little more established before the crisis really starts to hit, or else these powerful tools may be lopped out of human endeavour as being "too wasteful" by those who just can't make themselves think longer-term than right now.

Now, while we can still make a good case for developing these tools, is when we should push for as much to be put into them as we can possibly manage.

IMHO.

So, I'm happy to see this move by France. And in the end, I think they have a point -- any costly human endeavour that requires planning and execution over years and decades becomes, ipso facto, a political decision. Put another way, when something very much needs to be done but will never generate a profit, that thing has to be done by a government. And anything a government does is, almost by definition, a political decision.

-the other Doug


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imipak
post Jul 2 2008, 06:12 AM
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QUOTE (dvandorn @ Jul 2 2008, 05:34 AM) *
I'm firmly convinced that both msf and umsf can be powerful tools in overcoming this resource crisis,..


Could you expand on this a little oDoug? I share your concern over resource contention, especially over oil, water and cereal-based foodstuffs, but I'm struggling to think of a realistic way any sort of spaceflight can have any effect on the situation.


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dvandorn
post Jul 2 2008, 06:49 AM
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Well... I see the greatest resource challenge upcoming the challenge in energy resources. Everything else is based on energy -- with enough cheap energy, you can overcome any and all of the remaining resource issues.

And the ridiculous thing about that is that we're awash in a great ocean of energy. There is energy everywhere around us -- it is one of the most common things in the Universe.

The problem is, we don't have enough ways of converting that energy into the useful *work* that our technological society requires. At least, not in economical ways.

I see umsf as a means to a greater understanding of the Universe, and thereby a greater understanding of how mass and energy interact at grand scales. Just as important is the particle physics research being conducted around the world, which grants us a greater understanding of the same interaction at tiny scales. We need to continue to improve our understandings of mass/energy interactions in order to reach new quantum improvements in our energy technology.

I see msf as a driver to find applications that allow human exploration of the Solar System. I mean, what are the challenges of human exploration at present?

- First, it's incredibly expensive to climb out of a gravity well (particularly our own), due to the speeds at which energy must be added to, or subtracted from, your vehicles. After all, there is enough total energy in a 747 at take-off to launch its entire mass into orbit. It simply lacks the ability to apply that energy fast enough to increase its speed to that required for orbit. It's not the amount of energy so much as the speed with which you can add it. And, of course, when landing or going into orbit around other planets, it's how fast you can shed it.

- Second, we'll need a way of manipulating energetic cosmic particles to keep them from penetrating our spacecraft and crews, if we want them to survive long interplanetary flights (an application of managing the mass/energy interface that has truly abundant implications for terrestrial technologies).

- Third, we'll soon want a way to travel from planet to planet in days and weeks, not months and years. Advanced propulsion technologies may well drive breakthroughs in energy production, conversion and management.

So, I see these "unprofitable" activities of umsf and msf as technology drivers that can lead a path to a truly Utopian world. But I fear that we may hit the energy wall before we've put enough resources into the sf infrastructures to allow those drivers to generate the breakthroughs we need.

There -- I don't think I was political in that whole explanation! rolleyes.gif

-the other Doug


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Bernard
post Jul 2 2008, 08:10 AM
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Please do not rejoyce too early...

This is only ''communication ''
from our super president. mad.gif
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jmknapp
post Jul 2 2008, 11:54 AM
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QUOTE (imipak @ Jul 1 2008, 01:58 PM) *
Report on the BBC News site (which I've not heard mentioned on any other BBC news output today):


*choke* well that's, uh, interesting...

Fairly long and interesting article - a little bit off-topic for UMSF perhaps, but some might be interested.


Hard to deny the power of political will in making things happen, in the manned spaceflight area at least. One quote from the article:

QUOTE
"The French impetus would be to say that a European contribution to a human flight mission to Mars is something we should set as an objective.


Lately it seems that many scientists badmouth such efforts, thus the appeal to politicians?


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djellison
post Jul 2 2008, 01:32 PM
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ahem...

political
politicians
president
m v um
oil


1.2 of http://www.unmannedspaceflight.com/index.php?act=boardrules
- 1.2 Politics - the discussion of politics is strictly forbidden. The distribution of money between projects within a space agency is a valid discussion, but outside that scope is not. Discussion of politicians, politics, political parties, various topics of the moment (Iraq, Terrorism) are all very much off topic and posts that include them will be removed.

Please don't 'test' or 'push' the rules. It's hard to draw a line, but one HAS been drawn, and you all seem hell bent of dancing along it.
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ngunn
post Jul 2 2008, 02:10 PM
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I agree, and I didn't mind at all that one of my posts went along with some others. With hindsight it really isn't possible to respond to that news item completely apolitically, other than in the blandest terms. Even trying to be careful (or funny) still looks like pushing the rules. There are presumably plenty of other places where that discussion could be had.
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imipak
post Jul 2 2008, 08:02 PM
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In retrospect I regret starting the topic and creating work for the admins sad.gif Apologies to you all, and to Doug. I just thought it'd be of interest.

My only comment on the story is that I'd much rather politicians supported xxSF than kept quiet, or worse, attacked it, and that if anything comes of this, it might make it a bit easier to shake the data out of ESA mission instrument teams... and I'm sure it's not controversial to call those Good Things.


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ngunn
post Jul 2 2008, 09:47 PM
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QUOTE (imipak @ Jul 2 2008, 09:02 PM) *
In retrospect I regret starting the topic


Well I can't speak for Doug, but I was glad you posted it. Undoubtedly it is a matter of great interest to many of us here, especially in Europe. There are important issues that do need to be discussed somewhere, for sure. The admin hassle was caused not by you flagging up this story but by those of us who dived in afterwards.
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djellison
post Jul 2 2008, 10:13 PM
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What was very funny at the little dinner we had in NYC a few weeks ago, was two of the people began to debate politics. It got slightly heated, but not too bad - but another person just turned to me and said 'Now I see why you don't allow politics on the forum'.

It's hard to set the lines - but this is one that I'll defend to the ends of the earth. It ends up splitting a forum apart, rendering members who would happily discuss things all day every day - sworn enemies. In some respects, I've been a little too lenient in not drawing the line further away from political debate.

I've seen it destroy forums, first hand. I'm not a big fan of thehabitablezone.com - but that's probably the only place a political space discussion could occur.


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TheChemist
post Jul 2 2008, 11:14 PM
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Perhaps we can show character and discuss this without breaking any rules. We are big boys after all :-)

My personal concern is that in its rush, the new EU presidency will do more harm than good and scare people off.
As an EU citizen, I want to see a slow but steady increase in ESA backup, outlined by a clear and concise plan.

I hope I was not off-topic. and political. If yes, feel free to push the button.
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