Thursday, September 6, 2007

Is the Space Program Worth It? 727 Patricia's Chapter 10 The City and 728 Rockets and Space Travel in the Deustches Museum, Munich

Message no. 727[Branch from no. 682] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 6:43pm Subject: Re: Patricia's Chapter 10 The City Relational Summary

Yes, the challenges grow and grow, but of course, rome wasn't built in a day, as they say! It is good that you are taking this so seriously, as we will need people like you to help plan the real colony that will be created. Only in this way will we have democratic participation, which is necessary! I was pleased to see you confront the issue of equity and whether to include the homeless and those with psychological difficulties and substance abuse histories. I am trained as a radical "advocacy planner" who believes in giving voice to the voiceless, so I think we need to consider the issues you are tackling! Good job!

Message no. 728[Branch from no. 711] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 6:58pm Subject: Re: Patricia Friedrichs Chapter 10 The City Relational Summary

I wanted to comment here on something you guys raised in some earlier discussions about whether all that money spent on putting astronauts on Mars is "worth it". We often hear ourselves say "wouldn't it be better if all that money were instead spent on making things better here on earth?"

To answer that question, I went to an exhibit today at the Deutsche Museum for technology on space travel. It had the history of the space program represented by rockets and satellites and films and videos and talked about the costs. One of the points made was that the money, of course, never left the earth. Think about it!

The space program is said to be expensive, but where is the money spent? How is it spent? It is spent in the states and countries where the technologies are being researched and developed. It is spent on the salaries of thousands of workers who build and assemble the rockets and satellites and who sew and connect the space suits and develop the computers and do the programming. It is given to universities and professors and students who do the research. It is spent on industries who develop new products. Thus, the money IS spent here on earth, to do better things here on earth.

When a rocket is launched, if the rocket cost 100 million dollars, who much is the actually rocket worth? In terms of parts perhaps 3 or 4 million. In terms of labor and expertise and the construction of special factories and machines, which all stay here on earth, perhaps 96 million. So even when a rocket is lost in space, it isn't as if we lost so much.

In fact, the original rockets used in the space program were built to deliver nuclear weapons here on earth. They were intercontinental ballistic missiles. If we hadn't shot them into space for the peaceful purpose of exploring the solar system, and had decided to "instead spend the money doing things here on earth", the only conceivable use for these rockets (built at the end of world war II and throughout the cold war) would have been to blow something up.

In a war, of course, such as we see in Iraq and Afghanistan, we shoot rockets every other day. When these rockets, which also cost millions of dollars, explode, they are gone for ever.

I think we can safely say that if we are going to redirect funds to improving social and environmental conditions on earth, they should be military funds. I believe that every dollar spent employing people and factories to create new products that solve problems of life support in the hostile environments of outer space is a dollar spent creating not only a healthy economy at home, but on creating new products that can solve the problems of life support in the increasingly hostile environments here on earth.

As a good example -- the small and efficient computer you are typing on and reading from right now was developed principally for the space program, because NASA had to meet the challenge of bringing computers on small rockets into space and computers back in the day were much too big. So they developed personal sized computers for the space program which were then adopted by the computer industry and commercialized. The same is true of solar panels, water purifiers, fuel cells, and even teflon!

The bottom line is that in developing technologies to help us survive on Mars we ARE solving problems here on earth!

Does that make sense?

Your thoughts?

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