User Input

User Input: It’s Getting Colder


Most of the readers here I feel are probably fairly up on current events, so you have probably seen where there is a country that rhymes with Prussia that has (finger quotes) invaded (finger quotes) a country that rhymes with Brukraine. This particular event has gotten more than a few folks considering the possibility of a return to the Cold War that we knew and loved, and I don’t use the word love entirely with sarcasm–there does seem to be a certain excitement about for a nostalgic return to the heady days of living free and hating on Commies. I came across this question on Motherboard the other day, and they were coming at the situation from an angle that I hadn’t thought of, but I found quite interesting. Does a new Cold War mean a new Space Race?
This question seems quite pertinent, especially in light of the current status of NASA’s new ride, the Orion. The ISS of late is very much a joint US/NASA-Russian venture, with NASA’s money funding Russian rocket rides up into orbit. So do we accelerate the development process of Orion, paralleling even further not just the technology, but the events of the 1960s? Do we throw some money towards SpaceX or other private ventures? And when I say ‘we’, I am including NASA’s international partners that have and continue to invest in the ISS. One argument is that NASA already won the Space Race when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and so these days things don’t really matter, space is for everybody. Do you agree, or think that this will all fizzle out, or are we indeed facing the re-emergence of another Space Race?


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  • SSurfer321

    Give the money to SpaceX. Musk could fast-track the crew carrying version of their Dragon.

    SpaceX's unmanned Dragon has already successfully docked with the ISS on multiple occasions. Let's put the money towards proven technology if we are in a race.

  • jeepjeff

    I'm going to bet that Cold War II: Foreign Policy Boogaloo would not create a new Space Race.

    We needed rocket technology for missiles and satellites at the time, and there was that whole ideological twist. Both of those things are missing: the USSR collapsed, and Russia is no longer a communist country (and really, neither is China any more, no matter what they claim). The space race technology that has clear, near-term economic value, we have.

    NASA may get its own launch system sorted out again, but I don't expect them to spec anything that will go beyond earth orbit. Mars is a long way away, and a big challenge. For precious little payoff (not to belittle the science that could be done by having a person there, but monetary returns will be non-existent). And that wasn't the case for the first space race. The satellite networks have been immensely valuable.

    So, I'm with SSurfer321. I'm pretty sure private ventures are the future of manned space exploration. Get Elon more funding. (EDIT: My logic being: personal prestige paired with personal fortune is going to be easier for pushing the bounds. It's my money, I can flush it down the toilet if I want to is an easier thing to work with than trying to convince Congress that the size of the Defense budget is a bigger problem than the size of NASA's budget.)

  • Space was a frontier battlefield in the good ol' days. Much like the open ocean was a new way of engaging in trade and warfare centuries ago, enabling tiny nations to become world powers and driving technological advancements in shipbuilding and navigation (hello, pocket watch!)

    So another space race would race towards what? Technological superiority? Strategic advantage? China's moon rover has done more to jump start another space race than any terrestrial border squabbles. I think proving technological prowess, in a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses kind of way will drive space exploration, but it's not the ideological battlefield it once was. The stakes aren't high enough, there's no purse money to inspire a good race.

  • Felis_Concolor

    Well, the US could frack Russia up big time without spending lots of money on things that go boom, so as a responsible O'Neillan-Saganite, I'd like to see all that money being blown up in the desert turned into rockets and space probes and privatizing access to the stars. There's asteroids to be captured and mined, damn it!