Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Wednesday, June 29, 2005

  Space Impacts as Sport

Deep Impact is my favorite space mission of this decade.

Three reasons:

1) It's cheap, as such things go - only 333m/dollars - and much of that was spent on hardware that could be mass manufactured and used as a standard technique to figure out the true composition of the 1200+ near earth asteroids, dropping the cost per asteroid explored down below 20m/per.

The cost of today's space missions can be divided, nearly equally, into three parts - the cost of the hardware development, the cost of the launch itself, and the costs of creating and later maintaining the mission. Due to inexorable political factors, these costs tend to be roughly equal in modern probe design - and in (in the case of the jupiter/pluto lobby), oftentimes the hardware development and maintaining the mission far outweigh the launch costs.

Many proposed space missions seem to be nothing more than jobs programs for the people that design (and redesign) them - and I can't even bear to publish the costs of running Dawn for example, or the ludicrously misnamed 17 year+ (30 years, if you included the design stage) "pluto express" mission...

The mission duration of Deep Impact is only 6 months.

I favor a pull-back from the edges of the solar system in order to focus on finding and then utilizing resources that could give us a better springboard to further exploration. More launches would lower launch costs. A shorter mission duration maximizes the gain of information and minimizes the cost of operation. Using impacts, rather than passive sensing, results in fast in-depth spectrographic results from a variety of sources (the big scopes - Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra will be watching) that we'd otherwise spend months teasing out of the system... and standardized hardware equals lower production costs.

Mining asteroids and comets to provide materials for future exploration should be a no brainer - it's not as if greenpeace was floating around the solar system in little rubber spaceships, or as if spending 100k/lb to haul things up from earth made any sense...

2) The results of Deep Impact promise to be spectacular. I'm far more an engineer than a scientist - blowing things up to learn about them is direct, and almost 2nd nature to me.

3) I like to think that a more frequent pace of exploration would get us a better story about these objects than the interminable - "Asteroid XXYY to not destroy earth" articles. Heck I'd like to see more betting pools spring up... see space news covered on the sporting pages... and, hey, why couldn't they hire a sportswriter or two to add some friggen excitement to the event?

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Comments:
Just surfing around late night and came upon your blog...I liked it.
My site about Home Voip is hard to have a blog for VOIP stuff and boring too
 
Help me Dude, I don't think I'm meant to be in this blog..

I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up here. You know I'm sure I saw Elvis in my local sports bar yesterday, which is really strange because usually I see him in the supermarket.

Honest really, last time buying a few groceries there he was right in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender".

He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a shiny, new plasma tv to go with that blue suede sofa of yours.

But Elvis said I, In the Ghetto nobody has a plasma tv .

Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger then I'm gonna go home and ask ma good ol buddy Michael Jackson to come round and we're gonna watch that waaaay cool surfing scene in Apocalypse Now on my new plasma tv .

And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . .

"You give me love and consolation,
You give me strength to carry on "

Strange day or what? :-)
 
Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a Horse Racing and Sports site. It pretty much covers very related stuff to you.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)
 
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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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