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poisonedantidote's avatar

You are put in charge of space exploration: What do you do?

Asked by poisonedantidote (21539 points ) January 27th, 2013

As part of a new lottery-vote election system, you have been put in charge of the entire world’s space exploration programs. From the USA, to Europe, China, and everywhere else, it is all under your control.

You have inherited all the facilities, staff and equipment, as well as the sum of all their budgets. On top of this, you have been granted an additional budget of 500 billion a year.

What do you do?

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25 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

Resign. I’m not going to be spending other people’s money.

Pachy's avatar

Rent “Alien” to remind me why mucking around in space may not be such a hot idea, sell all the equipment and use that money, plus the 500 billion, to feed as many hungry people around the globe as possible.

flutherother's avatar

Build a bigger and better International Space Station and construct a permanent base on the moon. I’d put money into developing super telescopes to replace the Hubble and the James Webb.

ragingloli's avatar

A massive expansion of research into advanced propulsion systems and the basic physics research required, with the goal of creating faster than light propulsion systems and energy sources required for that. In parallel, I would put a new space station in orbit, with artificial gravity and a construction yard for deep space manned starships, as preparation for a long term manned mission to mars, complete with another space station in mars orbit with regular traffic to mars to ship materials to build a station on the surface of mars.

ucme's avatar

Thrust all the racist homophobes on a one way ticket to uranus, the dark side no less.

YARNLADY's avatar

First, figure out a way to dispose of all the trash in the world by sending it to the sun.
Second offer grants to schools, businesses and individuals that come up with the best solutions for making the space program self sustaining.

Unbroken's avatar

@YARNLADY I am with you! We could charge the wealthy money to take pot shots at the sun with bundles of our trash.

That might be a start.

wundayatta's avatar

The moons of Jupiter. That’s where we’re going next.

DancingMind's avatar

Totally combine and connect the various country’s space programs—it should be a global effort to tackle the entire rest of the universe; no more races. All countries permitted to take part and suggest/request/inquire etc. (Decisions on the technical aspects would be weighted by expertise, though, which will no doubt favor those countries already engaged in space-related activities, but, you want people who know what they’re talking about for the technical stuff.) It’d be a UN for space, then, I suppose. Ideally this would bring a better sense of kinship across the world. In my mind this also somehow initiates a gifting of better technology and resources to the more struggling nations.

Continue exploring our solar system—people on Mars, rovers on the other planets and their moons (that we chemically know how to land rovers on)

SETI—this would be the part of everything I’d watch the most. I know it’s also the part the least likely to achieve anything… but I was raised on Contact. And I think it’s more likely for a culture fueled by compassion and curiosity to succeed in contacting than one by greed—which is too short-lived and seeks short-cuts. I believe that the enormity of our universe is a greed-buffer. Maybe too far for even curiosity, but curiosity has a better shot.

Fund research looking into better ways of space travel, into if there are better ways, etc. If exploring the galaxy, the universe, is any real possibility, then there has to be a way to jump through space (wormhole or other such scifi/theoretical phenomenon). We can’t possibly go fast enough. So, see if there is a way.

Work for astronomy to be (more) present in the schooling systems across the world. Also allow this push/fund for astronomy-education to help get easier accessed education where it still isn’t in the world.

Ban throwing trash into the sun. Sorry, but all of our trash is biomass and other earthly mass; I don’t think we really want to start removing it, particularly if you consider how much of trash is rare metals, petroleum products, etc, that have very real limits of quantity. Especially if we have any plans to remove mass in journeys to colonize other planets.

Decide if it’s ethical to colonize other planets (I am conflicted), and if it is, what does that ethical migration look like. Probably something like not drastically changing the local environment, not colonizing planets with any sort of other life or potential life, not bringing more there than needed to seed sustainable living, not mining it or bringing too much of its mass back to earth, etc…

Hmm I’d probably bankrupt the world unless I was really crafty with my budget…. in my mind, I’m crafty. In my mind, this all works. Hooray to imagination!—But then, imagination is what got us into space at all.

zenvelo's avatar

One project to kick off would be cleanup of all the space debris that is getting to the point of jeopardizing current and future missions.

Beyond that, my short term would be on development of the basis and structure of long term missions:

1. Expansion of the ISS.
2. Lunar base a la 2001.
3. Mission to Mars

Kropotkin's avatar

I’d spend it on space weapons so that the War on Terror can be conducted from space.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

Specifically, I would start with advanced rail gun technology, to get the cost of shooting bulk materials, parts, and fuel into earth orbit and towards a moon-base cost effective. Then an independent people mover/shuttle, as humans probably couldn’t take the G forces involved in being launched by rail gun.

Then we build out a moon base, and we invest in water extraction tech. Then we build rail guns/launchers there, and start mining the moon and asteroids.

burntbonez's avatar

I’m amazed that people would want to space trash. It would take so much energy to do it, creating more trash than it disposes of. But it would also throw away precious resources that we can’t afford to get rid of. Trash is treasure, and yet some people seem to have incredible hatred for it. Why?

filmfann's avatar

Try to get Pluto requalified as a planet.
A moon base to mine Hydrogen 3.
Mars.

RocketGuy's avatar

I would want to go ” ‘round the moons of Nibia and ‘round the Antares Maelstrom and ‘round Perdition’s flames”.

OK, maybe just build a starship:
http://www.buildtheenterprise.org/

Shippy's avatar

I use that money to put earth right first.

Pachy's avatar

Actually, contrary to my previous comment, I’m very much in favor of space exploration. I am. Besides, I mean, once we’re through with running Earth into the ground (as it were), we need somewhere else to go.

mattbrowne's avatar

1) Find a nearby habitable exoplanet
2) Freeze human embryos
3) Develop artificial womb devices
4) Build androids capable of raising children
5) Build a starship able to function several 10000 years
6) Reach the exoplanet
7) Found a human colony

elbanditoroso's avatar

Create two independent and competitive manned space exploration efforts. I think that competition is good.

Place a goal: Return to the moon by 2020. Mars by 2028. And then let them work without political interference.

burntbonez's avatar

@YARNLADY I’m weeping; I’m weeping. Spacing all that trash would destroy not only our planet, but all of humanity in the effort. Are you still into spacing trash? That article you pointed to suggests we recycle it, which I agree with.

YARNLADY's avatar

If there was some way to get people to recycle it, that would be better. However, I don’t advocate spacing it, I am for sending it into the sun.

burntbonez's avatar

It has to get into space before it can get to the sun. “Spacing it” means lifting it off earth into orbit or going outside the earth’s gravity well. So you are talking about spacing the trash. Which is a very expensive and wasteful idea. Not something that anyone who cares about the earth would do.

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