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NASA's Orion Spacecraft: 9 Facts
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Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
7/21/2014 | 2:16:44 AM
Visiting asteroids
How interesting. I recently read about a mission to an asteroid that is supposed to hit the Earth at some point in the future. 

By 2025 maybe robotics and autonomous AI have developed enough to be sent in the missions instead of humans.

-Susan
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/21/2014 | 7:54:56 AM
Re: Visiting asteroids
You have to look at this timeline and wonder how they decide a technology will be ready.  We all hear about the miniscule computing power that the Apollo and even the shuttle missions had on board. NASA seems to be pretty good at hitting objects in space with a minimal amount of technology doing the driving so I don't know that we'll see an advanced AI doing the piloting.  I do think that would be an incredible project though, instead of shooting probes out into space and relaying directions that take days to arrive a fleet of AI driven probes that can turn away from danger or toward things that catch it's attention would be very exciting to watch.
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
7/21/2014 | 11:04:46 AM
Re: Visiting asteroids
@SaneIT yes, it is, and there are extensive plans for a space supply chain -- the topic of a blog I wrote that should be pubished soon. One of the things that could prove helpful is 3D printing space, and plans are now set to launch a 3D printer into space in August -- the subject of another upcoming blog of mine.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/22/2014 | 7:22:04 AM
Re: Visiting asteroids
I guess I'll have to keep an eye out for that blog post.  

 

One of the things about 3D printing in space that I've wondered about is when there will be a printer that can collect printing media from space to build parts or even a new probe via plans sent from Earth.  The benefits of launching a spool of plastic media for printing small parts is obvious when you consider that the option is sending dozens if not hundreds of spare parts.  I can also see the usefulness when things go a bit wrong and a specialized tool would save hours of frustration.  Of course the end goal is Star Trek replicators but I think we've got a bit of a wait for those.
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
7/22/2014 | 9:15:30 AM
Re: Visiting asteroids
@SaneIT exactly!  The piece I wrote on supply chains for extended space voyages both opens and closes with references to the replicator. I think we'll have to make do withoutr the perfect cup of Early Grey (which makes me think of the failure of the machine to make tea in the Hitchhiker series). But we should be able to produce some necessary supplies and equipment on demand in space as the technology advances.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/24/2014 | 7:10:17 AM
Re: Visiting asteroids
In the name of supply chains for space did you address using planets/moons for collecting raw materials?  Watching the rover on Mars that just keeps on going one day, I stopped and wondered to myself what if it could have assembled a little mining camp before it went out to collect rocks.  Could future space travel be supported by autonomous mining operations where ships could stock up on materials needed to run their replicators or 3D printers?
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
7/24/2014 | 8:05:03 AM
Re: Visiting asteroids
@SaneIT that is not part of the plan for the immediate future. It would be problematic for a few reasons. 1. they would have to first analyze what's out there are be sure it is safe and usabel.

2. mining space bodies in that way may be seen as a kind of cosmic vanadalism, depending on one's perspective. 

I believe the supplies would all be coming from earth, though it would be simpler and easier for a space station to stock the materials and then make what it needs on demand without having to wait for a delivery from earth. Also for the plan of having some midway sites, again, just having to have materials available rather than finished products -- which entails predicting exactly what is needed in all cirumstances -- would make the supply chain more viable. 
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/25/2014 | 7:28:24 AM
Re: Visiting asteroids
1. they would have to first analyze what's out there are be sure it is safe and usabel.

That seems to be something that is already being done.  I've seen several reports about planets of diamonds and we know planets in our solar system are either solid or gaseous. Using them as a sort of rest stop makes sense even if we just stay in our own solar system exploring things.



2. mining space bodies in that way may be seen as a kind of cosmic vanadalism, depending on one's perspective. 

 

I never thought of it that way.  I guess I see it as using the resources at hand.  We have flags and a car on the moon and have crashed ships into Mars, if the space industry has been OK with doing that I have to wonder why mining would be seen as vandalism. 

 
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
7/25/2014 | 5:32:00 PM
Re: Visiting asteroids
@SaneIT I've heard of those planets, but they are even further than Mars, so it'll be quite a while until we can actually draw on their raw materails. As for mining, well, even on earth is not without controversy.  The space supply chain piece is not up here.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
7/23/2014 | 8:20:36 AM
Re: Visiting asteroids
SaneIT, 

My thought was because according to recent research AI and robotics have made great advancements engineering ethics and emotions into autonomous robots. It would make sense to have at least a combined crew rather to rely on only humans. 

-Susan
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
7/21/2014 | 10:57:38 AM
Re: Visiting asteroids
The problem there, is that these things take such a long time to develop and test. There's reasons that the Curiosity Rover (launched in 2011) was only mounted with a 2MP camera, despite something as simple as commercial phones running 12MP without a hitch at that point.

The technolgoy needs to be tried and tested over years. Bear in mind too the cost involed. It seems unlikely that an AI system could replace a human in just over 10 years from now, but even if one could, it wouldn't be worth risking the 10s of billions of dollars in planning money on a what-if?


Banacek
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Banacek,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/21/2014 | 11:53:05 AM
Re: Visiting asteroids
Whoopty, it isn't about the time to develop and test. There's also the concern over solar radiation.

The chips used in space have to be hardened against radiation manipulation, and also use good enough check-bits and the like to make sure computations and data are not corrupted. The smaller the chips get, the harder it is to prevent such things.

Thus, I think the thought of having an AI working in space is pretty far down the road.
tka2013
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tka2013,
User Rank: Strategist
7/21/2014 | 12:26:26 PM
Re: Humans in space
I for one would be disappointed should we seriously consider stopping sending human astronauts into space.  Jointly or following advanced scouting missions by AI is acceptable, but it is something more grand that speaks to our imagination and enthusiasm when it is a human doing the exploring.
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
7/21/2014 | 2:48:33 PM
Re: Visiting asteroids
I doubt it. As powerful and as flexible as robotic systems are now, never mind by then, I still feel that machines can't do what people do best, and that's innovate and react to unanticipated situations. Asteroids are far enough out into space that speed-of-light delays will significant, so I'm confident that humans on-site will be a necessity.
Harold_the_Wolf
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Harold_the_Wolf,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/21/2014 | 3:37:15 PM
No advanced propulsion?
So no Plasma or Ion engines or even a solar sail? This just looks like an oversized Appolo craft with 2005 electronic technology and 1960's propulsion.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
7/30/2014 | 2:38:02 AM
Re: No advanced propulsion?
No warp reactor either, Well, jokes aside, the article mentions "solar electric propulsion for capturing and redirecting an asteroid." Perhaps NASA can adapt that to the Orion.
ibuda301
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ibuda301,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/21/2014 | 3:53:01 PM
NASA's Orion Spacecraft 9 Facts
I think tha it is in fact important to develope a asteriod deflection system. Better be careful that they do not accidently mis-calculate.

To use it to put humans into outer space is great (and then onto Mars). However I think it could be better used to establish a moon colony and to setup training for outer space there.

 
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
7/21/2014 | 7:12:54 PM
Ticket to mars? Check return flight date
When they issue you your ticket to Mars, carefully check the return flight date. It will take 6-8 months to get there, depending on where in the Hohmann Transfer Orbit that you launched. More calculations needed to determine length of the return flight.


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