1. Exclusive
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    Exclusive Member

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    Incentives for Space Travel Research? Anyone?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Exclusive, Jun 15, 2012.

    I need some help, guys. I'm currently writing a story that revolves around a more modern "space race". For those who don't know, "space race" is a term that was coined during the Cold War. During this time, the US and the USSR were involved in a highly publicized "race" to see whom can send a manned spacecraft to the moon first.

    My trouble is, what's the incentive in participating in such a race? Hypothetically speaking, of course. What does the winner get?

    So far, the incentives of winning such a "space race", that I've made note of, are:

    Bragging rights, or increased fame (or notoriety) for the nation that wins.
    Early access to resources on other heavenly bodies.

    ...And that's about all I've thought of. The thing is, I strongly feel as though there are a WEALTH of benefits in regards to space travel research. I'm just in a brain fart. Thank you, in advance.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Currently, there are several corporations getting together to develop a plan and vehicles to mine asteroids for natural resources.

    These are some of the richest entrepreneurs in the world, and they believe that even with the immense costs involved, they'll be able to turn a fat profit.
     
  3. Exclusive
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    Asteroids? I really like that idea (for a plot). I wonder what resources they expect to find. Thanks, Cogito. I'm going to Google this.
     
  4. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    dont forget tecnologies created and gaind in the space race. those alone have created a lot of value
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    During the Cold War, many Americans were very worried that if the Soviets beat us into space, whether low Earth orbit or all the way to the moon, they'd use their space platform to drop nuclear weapons on us and there would be no way for us to fight back, because we wouldn't have the technology to follow them into space. Lots of Pentagon people therefore wanted the USA to win the space race for military reasons.
     
  6. Exclusive
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    Very nice. So, you're talking about the technologies that are developed with the intentions of aiding the space race process. A lot of these technologies would also have real world applications to them as well; not just limited to aeronautics. "Technological growth" is a great incentive. I absolutely agree. Thanks, James!

    Another great response. A military vantage point that will, undoubtedly, force other nations to play along with the demands of whatever country that owns it. Thank you, minstrel. What you say is true and I hadn't even considered that option. A very important incentive.
     
  7. Furyvore
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    I don't know what your limits are in terms of fiction, but you can make it so an alien culture is discovered on another planet, and a space race begins as an attempt to make contact.
     
  8. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Space has many spin offs. The techs gained from the space race thus far include everything from the thermos to computer chips and of course rocketry. Currently on the international space station they're carrying out research into zero gravity manufacturing - there may be some materials that can be manufactured in space and not on Earth. Space medicine may also be an exciting prospect as its likely that people will be able to live far longer in low gravity environments.

    Space of course also gives us satellites, and that's communications and of course the ability to globally see the planet. Think weather prediction, GPS, satellite tv and phones. And the more satellites we have up there the more data that can be carried.

    The other speculative application is power, with sunlight able to be collected and beamed down to the Earth by mirrored satellite arrays.

    Add to that the huge prestige factor, the potential for mining the moon and maybe asteroids, protection from rogue asteroids on collision courses, and the fact that space is the one environment where you could carry out potentially lethal experiments in complete safety.

    Read some of the NASA promo stuff.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  9. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    You could also play with this idea in terms of a defensive posture -- in terms of monitoring alien civilizations or wanting to prevent some sort of attack. More plausible, however, if you want to stick with something that could happen today is the issue of near-earth asteroids or other objects. These have hit earth before and one will hit earth again. There has been discussion of the need to develop the technology to monitor these objects and to change their trajectories/orbits so that they miss us. The cost to develop this technology is actually relatively low. The problem, however, is that most governments won't allocate money for this because it's not an immediate problem and they have budget issues now.

    Others have outlined the tangible benefits as well. But my philosophy w/r/t space exploration is that it shouldn't need to have quantifiable economic benefits (although I realize this is an economic reality.) The quest for knowledge and understanding should be sufficient. You could have some wealthy philanthropists and educational institutions involved in pushing space exploration, as well.

    There is a certain intangible benefit to the inspiration that scientific achievement can bring -- the sixties and early seventies were in some ways kind of a golden age of science. Kids were eager to learn about science. There was a true belief that anything was possible. Intelligent scientists really thought that we were only a few years away from curing cancer and ALL communicable disease. People truly thought that we were only a few decades away from incredibly quick travel and the ability to visit other planets or travel in space on a vast scale. There was a strain of optimism in all of this (of course it was also balanced by the cold war and the fear that we'd be completely obliterated any day now) with the idea that mind-boggling developments were just around the corner, waiting to be discovered through more thought and research. The idea that we could do anything was a huge inspiration for kids for great things. I am quite sad that we've lost that, partially due to the vilification of and distrust of science that has developed.

    Sorry for my soapbox, but I think that there are others who share this view, and you could have some wealthy contributors to whatever project you have in mind for your plot, who are motivated by ideals other than pure economic enrichment.
     
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  10. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Another benefit for space travel research would be colonization rights for a planet/moon/asteroid. Even if several organizations were able to colonize a planet or moon, whoever got there first would have the prime choice of area where they could set up their base (i.e. closest to valuable resources such as water).
     
  11. Complex
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    Complex Senior Member

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    Space ages the body, it does not 'slow the aging process' according to physical tests performed on the astronauts after their return to earth. The body weakens physically from the environment as well, muscles decaying without use... etc.

    Though another space race could be to colonize another world and claim it as their own. Would probably occur after a breakdown of world government or entry into a world war in which they claim a new planet under their nationality. The first one to make it there having the potential to set up a base and prevent their enemies from taking up residence, obtaining minerals or simply using a moon base to pound the earth from high above.

    A business space race would probably be mineral rights and the opening of routes and facilities for processing said minerals.
     
  12. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Complex,

    Actually the picture is mixed. Low gravity does create muscle weakness and the lack of hard physical exercise allows calcium to leach from the bones making them progressively weaker / more brittle. But it also reduces the strain on the heart and cardiovascular system. However, without an exercise regime a person will become progressively more unfit the longer he remains in zero g.

    However for elderly people, low or zero g provides one benefit that can't be matched. Injuries from falls are drastically reduced. All in all a retirement home on the moon would be a great option.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  13. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    My dad once told me that you can alloy certain metals in zero g that you can't on earth.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    This is true, but you don't need anything more than a a metallurgical platform in earh orbit for that (strictly speaking, it's free fall, not zero gravity). That's not really space exploration, although most of the work of space exploration is climbing out of Earth's gravity well.
     
  15. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    It seems to me that most human exploration in history is motivated by matters of nationalism and relative national power. Both military- and resource-driven storylines would find many historical reference-points to guide you. The alien-contact scenario is pretty rich with possibility as well, I think.
     
  16. Danbershan
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    It very much depends on what kind of entities are involved. Nations, corporations, not-for-profit organisations? For countries, political reasons are behind everything: they need to establish a foothold in space so that they aren't blindsided by the other nations in the space race, or to prop up their self esteem, or prove their technology's worth, or for other strategic reasons. For corporations, it's all in the profits. They'll mine resources, probably from asteroids, to sell (platinum-group metals etc) and obtain samples from different celestial bodies, to be sold to the highest bidder. They might construct habitats in space, or on other bodies, to sell to other groups (countries, colonist societies, the Catholic Church, the Emir of Ras al-Khaimah etc), or they might use the resources to construct commercial space stations, spacecraft, fuel depots, communications satellites, solar power satellites, or other pieces of equipment in Earth orbit, or around other worlds or habitats. Perhaps they might construct a space elevator and charge passengers to use it. Also, they could get a lot of money from advertising (how much would McDonalds pay to have their sign put up on Mars, or Nike for a photo of a footprint with their logo in asteroidal regolith?). Finally, not-for-profit groups are most likely to be citing ideological reasons. They will be funded largely by donations, as well as money made to 'make ends meet' while they carry out their projects. They would probably be creating colonies, either on other bodies or free-floating, for colonists to inhabit. These might be people of a certain culture, ethnicity, mindset, ideology etc, who wish to create their own state (Orbital Zion, anyone?). Hope this helps.
     
  17. daydreams
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    I am very excited about this. I believe that asteroid mining will prove to be an even bigger change for our civilisation than the agricultural revolution.
     
  18. astrostu
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  19. Morkonan
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    Morkonan Senior Member

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    Actually, the Cold War Space Race was about who's culture was superior.

    Want a motive? I give you "The Cold War." Make it a cultural competition. Actually, the reader's comparison of your novel to The Cold War might add some very interesting imagery to it that you could capitalize on. Pun intended...
     
  20. Donniek427
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    Donniek427 New Member

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    All of these are great ideas rife with possibility. Another idea for humans to have a space race is to get off of the planet as it will eventually be unfit to harbor human life. Perhaps global warming comes with a vengeance, turning the planet into a wasteland. Survival brings on much conflict, and unlikely alliances.
     
  21. Donniek427
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    Donniek427 New Member

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    call it a climate shift if global warming is too, well, not real.
     
  22. Murkie
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    Depending on how far you're taking your fiction. What about time travel? What if, in your world time travel is being actively experimented on, but the only way to conduct the 1st 'live test' is outside of Earth atmosphere? Whoever wins that race is going to be pretty powerful.
     
  23. JacobThePoet
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    JacobThePoet New Member

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    Hi Exclusive,

    It should be noted though, that there are no technology incentives. Advances in technology only come later after a goal has been attained.

    The incentives to BEGIN a space race are driven by primarily two concerns:

    1) Military.
    Militarizing space is a huge deal. People worry about, say, one country's controlling a microwave weapon that's orbitting the planet.

    2) Resources utilization.
    When you get there first, you get to claim it. That's just the way human societies work. If you want first crack at the shiny unobtanium, you need to be the first one with troops on Pandora.

    Good luck!

    Best,
    JacobThePoet
     

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