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The grooviest frontier.
July 16, 2011 11:39 PM   Subscribe

Space: 1975!
posted by loquacious (43 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Beautiful dreamers.
posted by Sailormom at 11:51 PM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Such optimism! - We already have the technology. The design is done. We've even picked out the perfect neighborhood. - Seems they were ready to begin recruiting the 10,000 hearty colonists... I miss our utopian future.
posted by booksarelame at 11:57 PM on July 16, 2011


Something terrible happened with the first oil embargo. I'm starting to think it was really important. It scared this sort of optimism right out of us. Ditto with all the great society stuff. I wonder if historians will view it that way.
posted by Trochanter at 12:21 AM on July 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


The farming model seems flawed. Each tier is partly shaded by the one above (assuming the lighting replicates sunlight). If so, how can yields be consistent across the plots?

I suppose that, like all problems in space, this could be solved by duct tape and mylar.
posted by troll at 12:25 AM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]



Something terrible happened with the first oil embargo. I'm starting to think it was really important. It scared this sort of optimism right out of us.


I think there's a lot of truth to this. However, this NASA video exhibits a good deal more than optimism, I think.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:27 AM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


It was a NASA promo. They were hardly going to say 'we'll spend the next 40 years diddling about in low earth orbit achieving fuck all' even if that's been the reality.
posted by joannemullen at 12:40 AM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


'we'll spend the next 40 years diddling about in low earth orbit achieving fuck all'

I kinda want to see that video.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 12:47 AM on July 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


This was funky. It's interesting to consider whether it was genuine or manufactured optimism behind those ambitious timeframes.

On an aside, using Youtube's "Transcribe Audio" caption action was pretty funny at the end.

"The space beyond parrot".
posted by Silverdragonanon at 1:27 AM on July 17, 2011


I think a lot of people, including (especially?) scientists and engineers, get so caught up in the cool factor that they fail to consider that the costs and dangers of such a plan far, far outweigh the benefits. The cost of creating an environment in space in which our bodies are safe is enormous. How much of the volume of that station shown in the video was devoted to sustaining life and making life comfortable? Almost all of it, I'll bet.

NASA's use of robots over the past few decades has been both extremely cheap, safe, and scientifically much more fruitful than even the most optimistic engineers imagined. Why send people into space when you can send robots? We can do much more science if we don't have to worry about the logistics of sending people into space. We don't need to build a space colony. After all, we've already got a perfectly good one, with everything we need: it's the third giant rock from Sol.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 1:35 AM on July 17, 2011


How much of the volume of that station shown in the video was devoted to sustaining life and making life comfortable? Almost all of it, I'll bet.

But surely that's because the whole point is getting people into space. I mean, the robot stuff is super great and getting great results and all, and robots have always been and will always be the avant gard , but it's putting ourselves out there that is the entire goal.
posted by Trochanter at 1:46 AM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


*garde
posted by Trochanter at 1:47 AM on July 17, 2011


It was a NASA promo.

It's not so much a promo as it was a demonstration and overview of what were then some pretty wild ideas about possible large scale space habitats.

They were hardly going to say 'we'll spend the next 40 years diddling about in low earth orbit achieving fuck all' even if that's been the reality.

That hasn't actually been the reality, though. We send a lot of stuff past low earth orbit. It's just not manned.

And daily you use technology that came either directly or was driven by space or physics research programs around the world whether you realize it or not. Medical research, MRIs, superconductors, telecommunications, the tiny chips still transforming our lives 40 years later, weather satellites, communication satellites, solar panels, high efficiency batteries, fuel cells, optics and digital cameras, supercomputing initiatives...

These things form a complex web that directly influence your quality of life right here and now. Everything from GPS navigation and LANDSAT imagery on farms for efficient production to the solar panels and batteries that power tsunami warning buoys to Doppler radar tornado warnings or even airbags in cars.

The very real, direct dividends to both the private and public sector has been enormous. The computer and network you're using right now is one of the side effects of those dividends.
posted by loquacious at 1:48 AM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not so much a promo as it was a demonstration and overview of what were then some pretty wild ideas about possible large scale space habitats.

and richard, the narrator is a wild man i.e. why is richard wearing sunglasses inside?

capitalist futurism.
posted by ennui.bz at 2:01 AM on July 17, 2011


...but it's putting ourselves out there that is the entire goal.

"The" goal? Whose goal? I know it is some peoples' goal, and I'm saying that goal should be reexamined, because it is not a very good goal beyond the oh-awesome-people-in-space-iness of it. It doesn't solve any problems (in spite of the silly arguments that it will help overpopulation, or other similar arguments). It doesn't help in the acquisition of knowledge (actually it impedes it through soaking up money that could be used for more effective research). There's no real argument for it aside from "we just want to," and lots of good arguments against it.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 2:08 AM on July 17, 2011


I'm sorry, but I want every video about space to be voiced-over by Carl Sagan.
posted by bwg at 2:19 AM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Something terrible happened with the first oil embargo. I'm starting to think it was really important. It scared this sort of optimism right out of us.

It has nothing to do with the oil embargo. Reagan changed the optimistic future dream from one of science and advancement to "someday we'll have kings, control women and believe in a flat earth again".
posted by DU at 2:31 AM on July 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yes, Philosopher Dirtbike, those are the arguments against it.

Arguments for:

We're the only life we know about in the universe. The only conciousness we know about. As far as we know, we are the only way the universe has of perceiving itself. An asteroid could take us out. A nearby star could nova. If all that's left is a bunch of non-sentient robots we've managed to throw out of the solar system, the universe, for all we know, will once again be dead. It took half the universe's lifespan to produce us.

If we find life elsewhere, that will change my opinion. If we develop concious robots, that will (might) change my opinion. Until then, we've got to keep trying to get off this rock.

Plus it will be magnificent.
posted by Trochanter at 2:31 AM on July 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


It has nothing to do with the oil embargo. Reagan changed the optimistic future dream from one of science and advancement to "someday we'll have kings, control women and believe in a flat earth again".

But I think it was fear born of the embargo that made Reagan. He was so bloody reassuring. He was telling us we could get back to something.
posted by Trochanter at 2:37 AM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


We're the only life we know about in the universe. The only conciousness we know about. As far as we know, we are the only way the universe has of perceiving itself. An asteroid could take us out. A nearby star could nova. If all that's left is a bunch of non-sentient robots we've managed to throw out of the solar system, the universe, for all we know, will once again be dead. It took half the universe's lifespan to produce us.

I think your argument is, "We could all die, so we have to leave." Here's a question for you. Which do you think is more hostile to human life: Earth after getting hit by a meteor, or space? Take your spaceship designed to save us from the meteor, and stick it underground or under deep water on Earth. You've got water, metals, oxygen, plus, you can build it in the comfort of Earth and not have to propel it anywhere! In space, there's next to nothing. All resources are very, very spread out, and you have to carry them with you. Which means you need lots and lots of fuel.

Also, since you bring up a nova, how will the ship get out of the area fast enough to survive a nova that would destroy the Earth? Life on ships in space would be even more vulnerable than life on Earth. We can't travel at anywhere near fast enough yet for this to even be an issue. So, fund research on making unmanned space probes faster, and maybe, in the future, you might be able to use your argument. But for funding manned space exploration/living now, the argument fails.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 3:26 AM on July 17, 2011


Plus it will be magnificent.

Yeah, I already mentioned the oh-awesome-people-in-space non-argument...
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 3:28 AM on July 17, 2011


...and hand waved it away.

1492

Columbus: I propose to sail to India!
Dirtbikus: Why bother? Spend what you would have spent on the boat here, on blackjack, and hookers. You're just holding up progress, you know!
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:34 AM on July 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


They were hardly going to say 'we'll spend the next 40 years diddling about in low earth orbit achieving fuck all' even if that's been the reality.

You do understand that the "diddling about in low earth orbit achieving fuck all" was the result of unimaginative bean-counters in Congress, and not something NASA wanted to do, right?
posted by Thorzdad at 3:37 AM on July 17, 2011


Dirtbikus: Why bother? Spend what you would have spent on the boat here, on blackjack, and hookers. You're just holding up progress, you know!

Imagine if they could have sent robot ships to find out what was on the other side of the Atlantic, for a tiny fraction of the cost.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 4:47 AM on July 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Something terrible happened with the first oil embargo. I'm starting to think it was really important. It scared this sort of optimism right out of us.

In 1978, Cosmos 954, a Soviet spy satellite, fell from orbit. An exhaustive search was conducted in the Canadian wilds to recover the radioactive debris. The incident made the concerns of the Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects seem less like an improbability.

Skylab's descent a year later made it clear that space habitats depreciate over time. Acquiring the funds, resources and support necessary to retrofit them and safely dispose of and unusable components are not always simple, and the public's reaction to both incidents dealt a humiliating blow to the notion of a brighter, cleaner future beyond our own flawed, imperfect world.
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:48 AM on July 17, 2011


Oh yes. There was a NOVA (US PBS science show) episode about this, featuring Gerry O'Neill and the whole groovy awesomeness.

I was at an impressionable age at the time, and the whole optimism of taking on the world caught my attention in a huge way. And now, looking back, it makes me think of the part in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", where he talks about how with the right eyes "you can almost see the high water mark - that place where the wave broke and rolled back"
posted by rmd1023 at 5:28 AM on July 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


and richard, the narrator is a wild man i.e. why is richard wearing sunglasses inside?

His future was so bright he had to wear shades.
posted by KingEdRa at 6:33 AM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


1492

What, there's a whole, fertile, human-friendly planet only a few weeks' journey away? With a human-breathable atmosphere? No toxic radiation? Surface water? An existing ecosystem that we can eat? Yeah! We'll all be going.

Oh, there isn't? There are instead only balls of rock floating in the void months away by the very best technology we have? And when we get there they will be less hospitable than the top of Mount Everest, or the centre of the Sahara desert, or the bottom of the ocean? Well, that's a completely different thing, now, isn't it?

Humans will always live on Earth. To our robot and AI children we will give the rest of the Universe. We should spend our money, more of our money, on space exploration and, yes, colonization, but not with weak fleshy humans, but with our hard, strong metal children.
posted by alasdair at 6:56 AM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Let's put it this way, if all the resources spent in the last 5 decades on human space exploration went into robotic exploration, we'd right now have a full set of high res photos of surface of Mars, we'd know if there was life there, we'd have a few balloon stations on Venus and a swarm of tiny exploratory probes all over the solar system, including a few landed on Io and Titan and we'd know if there is or ever was life there as well. Instead we have a few dudes peeing in a beaker in low earth orbit. But the important thing is that Columbus something-something, so it's all good.
posted by rainy at 7:05 AM on July 17, 2011


More optimism: A NASA report about self-replicating factories on the moon commissioned in the Carter era.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:42 AM on July 17, 2011


if all the resources spent in the last 5 decades on human space exploration went into robotic exploration... we'd likely have some mighty useful robots working for us here on Earth right now.
posted by SPrintF at 7:55 AM on July 17, 2011


1492

I appreciate the idea, but people really need to stop using Columbus' voyages in that way. His voyage was based on bad science and poorly planned. The only thing that prevented Columbus from leading his crew into certain death was blind luck.
posted by cx at 8:22 AM on July 17, 2011


Someday, Little Children. As a tot in the mid-late '70s, I remember the optimism about space being very tangible.
posted by scelerat at 8:45 AM on July 17, 2011


Reminded me of EPCOT. Feels a little silly, now, thinking about how seriously we took it all back then. But silly in a good way.
posted by penduluum at 8:49 AM on July 17, 2011


this made my day!
posted by tarantula at 11:10 AM on July 17, 2011


It's still a nice dream.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:25 AM on July 17, 2011


From the YT comments: actually the 60's was the real deal....the 70's were a tail ....60's had sears roebuck...great service...they could have gotten to Mars...the 70's were rust, the 80's neon...the 90's flanel...2000's candles...the 60's were TNT...with a little bit of purple kung fu...mixed in...

It's true. The 60s did have Sears, Roebuck.
posted by katillathehun at 12:24 PM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


there is something sad, and quaint, about this video, and the dreams of the past. I don't think they're dead, nor are they moribund. SpaceX is spending several hundred million dollars to upgrade a launch area at Vandenberg for the Falcon Heavy, and Branson's Virgin Galactic spaceport is being built in New Mexico. governments have yielded the visionary stance, exchanged it for survival amidst the new and destructive scorched-earth approach to politics, which prohibits the soaring rhetoric of the 60's from finding anything other than deaf ears on which to fall. we've spent awhile squandering decades of opportunities to advance the cause of exploration. the space shuttle was over-designed, and pieces of the production and management of the shuttle were scattered across various Congressional districts in order to secure continued funding. space exploration is broken at the massive long-range expensive vision level because the government is broken. we can't even figure out an effective way to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. when bridges in Minnesota fall down it's nearly useless to expect an effective space program to be able to land people on Mars or explore Titan in person. and while robots rule in terms of cost efficiency, nothing compares with a living, breathing human being setting foot on the moon.
posted by TMezz at 1:05 PM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yikes. Reading some of these comments is like watching the Howard Beale Show after his meeting with Mr. Jensen.
posted by evilcolonel at 1:05 PM on July 17, 2011


I love stuff like this. How much cooler would our lives be right now if we let dreamers design the future? Instead we get dick heads running everything, and Nasa gets it's funding cut. Poop.
posted by nola at 4:59 PM on July 17, 2011


EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY! Everything is uncool! Send the Mothership!
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:18 PM on July 17, 2011


I like the Boards of Canada music.
posted by pashdown at 9:17 PM on July 17, 2011


Something terrible happened with the first oil embargo. I'm starting to think it was really important.

At the same time NASA was forced to cancel the last three Apollo missions to the moon. Instead, we were to become excited about Skylab. I now recognize that point in time as Peak USA.
posted by Rash at 10:04 AM on July 18, 2011


At the same time NASA was forced to cancel the last three Apollo missions to the moon.

It wasn't just forced. Bob Gilruth, head of the Manned Spacecraft Center which ran the Apollo program, wasn't keen on repeating Apollo 11 over and over. Remember the goal the was to get a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade. There was nothing about repeatedly going back and Apollo 13 scared the crap out of him. The only reason so many missions were originally planned was because then NASA administrater, James Webb (yeah, the Webb telescope is named after him)k convinced Congress that the agency had no idea how many missions it would take, so they planned long. Apollo 11, only the 5th Apollo mission, was a bit of a surprise.

Deke Slayton, the head of the Astronaut Office, wrote that the Apollo program was great for getting men to the moon and returning them, but terrible for long duration stays and colonization. And when the missions were canceled the administrators figured we'd be back on the moon in a short while, with a better plan. So it made sense to save money, since we'd be going back soon, right?

Legendary Flight Director Chris Kraft wrote, in his autobiography, that if he and another administrators knew Apollo wouldn't be followed up, they would have actually fought like hell for those last three missions.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:32 PM on July 20, 2011


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