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(Popular Science)   Sixty years ago today, the U.S. detonated the first hydrogen bomb. So where are our atomic-powered spaceships? We were promised atomic-powered spaceships, dammit   ( divider line
    More: Interesting, hydrogen bombs, United States, Van Allen Radiation Belt, nuclear tests, nuclear fissions, government scientists, Oppenheimer, Los Alamos  
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1283 clicks; posted to Geek » on 02 Nov 2012 at 9:42 AM (5 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2012-11-02 10:21:53 AM  
1 vote:
Had one, but they wimped out. NERVA
2012-11-02 10:10:08 AM  
1 vote:
If you read science fiction published between about 1940-1970, you'll see a lot (a lot a lot) of speculative fiction about the impending explosion of space travel, which made sense, given what was happening at the time. Many authors saw a turn-of-the-century Earth as one that had already discovered fast spaceflight, and had bases on the moon, Mars, Venus, and with civilian populated space stations- this was an ideal embraced by pop culture as well, clearly signaling an interest in the development in that direction.

What happened?

Following beating the pesky Commies to the moon, there wasn't anything left to win. Corporations quickly realized that given the expense, commercial spaceflight wouldn't be viable for a couple decades until costs came down- and as such, left it to the government. The government, having won the space race (and shortly thereafter, the Cold War), and having extracted most of the useful military research from the space program (see Rainbow Bombs: Nukes in Space for more info), didn't have much of an interest in a quasi-military program that cost billions of dollars (among other resources)- after they got their ICBMs and satellites in orbit, they stopped caring. Most of the real research could be carried out by unmanned probes, which we could boost just fine with existing rockets. As such, interest and funding began to dry up, and shift to other areas, such as: in the event of a nuclear attack, how could we maintain communications between our sites when radio is useless due to the atmospheric noise from the bombs, and all the phone lines are down. Maybe, if we created a network between our computers, so they could all talk to each other...

Once the corporations realized the profit potential of a consumer culture depending on electronic gadgetry (as well as a new way to advertise and deliver these products), that sealed the deal.

We could have been moving upward and outward. We instead moved inward, to the point where you can't have a face to face conversation with someone without them looking at their phone at least once. Not saying that's a bad thing, but the degradation of humanity's spaceflight efforts can be at least partially attributed to "winning" the space race, and the diversion of that focus to other endeavors afterwards. Had the US (and to follow, the rest of the world) maintained that degree of focus, we may well have had our moonbase already.
2012-11-02 06:56:43 AM  
1 vote:
They're here. You just can't see them as they are out in space - doing space stuff
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