Corporations... in space!

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So today the SpaceX CRS-1 mission is set to launch (9:30 EDT) so this brings into question whether or not private industries should be the leaders in space exploration. For those of you who don’t know, SpaceX is a corporation that is attempting to make sending satellites and extra terrestrial missions cheaper (though this mission is just sending in supplies to the ISS). If successful, the Falcon 9, the rocket that they are using for this launch, could potentially make launches cheaper by up to 30 million USD.

 
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private companies are going to weigh their risk for the purpose of profit maximisation. if something goes catastrophically wrong, they are not going to be fully accountable, because they simply can’t repay the societal losses they created. but the profits are all theirs.

which means they will take disproportionally large risks, because as part of the risk is not theirs, but all the benifit is, the ideal zone of risk-tolerance is skewed out of balance in favor of increased risk.

which is why the entire economy needs to be publically regulated, but anyway, free-market capitalism for the space race is going to inevitably end up in desaster.

 
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Omega are you trolling right now?

Seriously, they still have to pay for a rocket exploding, and a rocket isn’t cheap. If a crew member dies/is injured, they still have to pay their contracts and probably even some compensation, without getting as much work out of them. At worst you’d get something along the lines with what happened in the game series “Red Faction” but even that wouldn’t be likely as you seem to think.

 
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It’s the logical next step, and it’s already happening. Arianespace, working with the European Space Agency, has been putting other nations satellites into orbit since the eighties. The Russians will be happy to do the same for you if you can meet their price. A mere $200,000 will book you a sightseeing space flight with Virgin Galactic.

If we ever get round to mining the asteroids, or if there is a gold strike on Mars, it will almost certainly be private enterprise leading the way. Commercial organisations will sniff out money making opportunities, and will pay for any research needed to capitalise on them. While governments will still be doing the hard core scientific projects like Hubble, I rather feel it will be private enterprise that will be researching bigger, faster and more efficient rockets, life support systems and so on.

Take no notice of Omega, he hates the way the world is run (and me too, for that matter). But he does have a point in that we should be careful not to let space exploration become a commercial free for all. Some kind of international body to regulate activities would be desirable, but other than putting it in the hands of the almost entirely useless UN, I offer no solutions as to how that might work.

 
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Onlineidiot, I have to shamefacedly admit I did not know CRS-1 was launching today. That’s inexcusable on my part, since I followed the original adventures of White Knight and SpaceShipOne so faithfully.

I do approve of private industry spearheading space exploration, which is unusual for me. NASA had its chance and blew it – wasn’t their fault, continual government cutbacks have reduced what they can do whilst beaurocratic bloat has burned the candle from the other end.

However, we need a leaner, meaner approach to really get things moving again, and a profit-minded approach will do that.

There is still plenty for government-sponsored exploration to do, in areas where pure scientific research is required, and exploring the boundaries. But right now, we need that corporate money-orientated push to bring space exploration and development back into the limelight again – and start building the infrastructure we will need to be up there, further down the line.

 
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Originally posted by onlineidiot1994:

Omega are you trolling right now?

Seriously, they still have to pay for a rocket exploding, and a rocket isn’t cheap. If a crew member dies/is injured, they still have to pay their contracts and probably even some compensation, without getting as much work out of them. At worst you’d get something along the lines with what happened in the game series “Red Faction” but even that wouldn’t be likely as you seem to think.

not if they file for bankrupcy.

Take no notice of Omega […] But he does have a point

lolcontradiction.

anyway, i can be quite cantankerous, but i’m not a grudgeful type like that. i mean everything i say, but not in full vigour, or maybe just in the moment or context.

 
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Look at this whole thing this way: the CEO of SpaceX is an extremely wealthy person. Would you rather this person make money through the exploitation of others, the only benefit of which is personal wealthy, or through space exploration, the benefit of which is to the advantage of humanity as a whole. If SpaceX discovers something or does something crucial in space exploration, it will not only be to the advantage of this private investor, but to everyone as we as a species explore outside our own planet.

 
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Originally posted by beauval:

If we ever get round to mining the asteroids, or if there is a gold strike on Mars, it will almost certainly be private enterprise leading the way. Commercial organisations will sniff out money making opportunities, and will pay for any research needed to capitalise on them. While governments will still be doing the hard core scientific projects like Hubble, I rather feel it will be private enterprise that will be researching bigger, faster and more efficient rockets, life support systems and so on.

The problem with this is… who owns the asteroids/other planets? Would it be the first country that lands on the planet or asteroid (though having to land on every asteroid would be very inefficient). Does that mean that America owns the moon? Does this mean that they could do whatever they want with it? As you can see this leads to problem. Especially if America lands on Mars and decides we all have to pay them if we want to mine the metals there. There may be a big problem there.

 
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Hence the unquoted third paragraph of my last post. Got any suggestions as to how we could approach this? No good looking at me, I’ll be dead and gone by the time this becomes a serious issue. It’s your generation that’s going to have to sort it out.

 
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Originally posted by basicbasic:

The problem with this is… who owns the asteroids/other planets?

The treatises for that have been in existence for a while. Unsurprisingly, the US has yet to sign.

 
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a clear prohibition on private ownership of extraterrestrial real estate, or of resources “in place,” and a designation of extraterrestrial resources as the Common Heritage of Mankind;

this proposed space administration not simply issue licenses without discrimination (perhaps for a nominal fee or small net profit percentage), but also deny or control uses of outer space, levy stiff taxes, and/or oversee equipment use and retrieval in free space.

If they did sign, I think we would hear jhco’s screams of “communism” on this side of the Atlantic. And to be fair, I think he might have a point. If businesses can’t be sure of big profits for big risks, they won’t get involved, and space exploration could grind to a vitual standstill.

When it was drafted in 1979, I doubt that anyone had really comprehended the contribution that private enterprise could make. Times have changed, and I think we are going to need something a bit more realistic than this piece of idealism.

 
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not if they file for bankrupcy.

Because THAT’s a good business model…

Would you rather this person make money through the exploitation of others, the only benefit of which is personal wealthy, or through space exploration, the benefit of which is to the advantage of humanity as a whole.

When he makes money off his company, so do his investors. He also creates an excuse for other investors to put money into a space exploration firm. There’s only so much grant money one can get from everybody.

If SpaceX discovers something or does something crucial in space exploration, it will not only be to the advantage of this private investor, but to everyone as we as a species explore outside our own planet.

That’s the general idea. They’ll make an effort to produce industrial complexes off our planet, and still have an excuse to do so.

It’s the logical next step, and it’s already happening. Arianespace, working with the European Space Agency, has been putting other nations satellites into orbit since the eighties. The Russians will be happy to do the same for you if you can meet their price. A mere $200,000 will book you a sightseeing space flight with Virgin Galactic.

Hadn’t heard of Arianespace, but I’m not surprised a company like that has existed. The CRS-1 mission was (I think) the first private venture to supply the ISS, though. It’s also going to be bringing back some frozen experiments from the ISS.

If we ever get round to mining the asteroids, or if there is a gold strike on Mars, it will almost certainly be private enterprise leading the way. Commercial organisations will sniff out money making opportunities, and will pay for any research needed to capitalise on them.

That’s the hope for our space program. We’d be able to justify spending the money to leave earth.

I do approve of private industry spearheading space exploration, which is unusual for me. NASA had its chance and blew it – wasn’t their fault, continual government cutbacks have reduced what they can do whilst beaurocratic bloat has burned the candle from the other end.

Yeah, sad how NASA’s research was treated as (essentially) defense spending. I guess that’s just how it goes, now that we understand ballistics that much better, the interest has gone down. I guess that’s just how it goes.

But right now, we need that corporate money-orientated push to bring space exploration and development back into the limelight again – and start building the infrastructure we will need to be up there, further down the line.

Yup, corporatism is the necessary evil in order to make exploration worthwhile.

 
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Because THAT’s a good business model…

yes it is. lets say you play roulette, you bet 1000 on red. either you lose 1000, or you win 1000. what they do, is they bet, say, $100 000 000, and if they win, they win $100 000 000, but if they lose, they only lose $10 000 000, and the rest of the losses are covered by the tax-payer.

but then the numbers are even bigger, and gains cumulative and exponentional. but the theft remains the same. especially since you can start all over after filing for bankruptcy, so you do this several rounds until you get lucky. not to mention most of the risks are not monetary, but public health/environment etc, plus the fact that only the official business head would file for bankruptcy, not a whole lot more people in the background that cover their losses that way, but collect the profits.

 
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yes it is. lets say you play roulette, you bet 1000 on red. either you lose 1000, or you win 1000. what they do, is they bet, say, $100 000 000, and if they win, they win $100 000 000, but if they lose, they only lose $10 000 000, and the rest of the losses are covered by the tax-payer.

No, that’s implying it’s all up to chance. There’s a reason they make a conscious effort to NOT fail. It’s actually profitable that way.

Also, do you understand what bankruptcy is? It doesn’t shove all debt into the public, it goes to the investors.

especially since you can start all over after filing for bankruptcy, so you do this several rounds until you get lucky.

OR (and this is a CRAZY idea) you could make an effort to be successful the first time, see HUGE gains without having to lose money, file for bankruptcy, find investors, schmooze for contracts, and hire personnel multiple times.

Try to troll less in the future.

 
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Hm. I wonder really who are these companies? Both now, and potentially in the future. I think we can all agree that a given company is a character like any other, and will have certain traits aims and behaviours. Given the expensive nature of the field, it will likely be dominated by those few with the capital to actually participate. Who exactly these companies are could have a very large impact on what end results we see.

 
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At the moment, the expense is a problem. I would however be looking to proivate enterprise to reduce the costs by coming up with cheaper ways to do things. Such as the inflatable space stations currently in development, or the possibility of a space tether in the mid to long-term future. You reduce the cost of getting up there, even if you charge for the use of your tether, you open the field to a lot more players.

 
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Originally posted by beauval:

Hence the unquoted third paragraph of my last post. Got any suggestions as to how we could approach this? No good looking at me, I’ll be dead and gone by the time this becomes a serious issue. It’s your generation that’s going to have to sort it out.

Sorry about that, got excited when I read the 2nd one and only skimmed through the 3rd.

Originally posted by vikaTae:

At the moment, the expense is a problem. I would however be looking to proivate enterprise to reduce the costs by coming up with cheaper ways to do things. Such as the inflatable space stations currently in development, or the possibility of a space tether in the mid to long-term future. You reduce the cost of getting up there, even if you charge for the use of your tether, you open the field to a lot more players.

The simplest answer to this is when the profits become more then the cost, which we can see with Virgin Galactic, from here it will only really get cheaper corporation wise. How to do this is beyond me though.

Mining/other wise if what happens in the movie Avatar happens irl (We find a precious metal worth millions on a distant planet)….. then the profits will easily make up for the cost and once its started, it won’t stop as easily as the older space programs did.

 
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Virgin Galactic’s only an edge-of-space enterprise though. It uses SpaceShipOne’s technology which is only good for a hundred miles up, not true orbit. To do that you have to leave atmosphere entirely, so you eliminate drag.

We will need something that goes just that little bit further, plus orbiting hotels (that can double as manufacturing plants). That’s where the inflatable space station becomes interesting. Transport the whole thing and several high-pressure gas cannisters up on a single shuttle. Assemble in orbit.

 
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Well the US Government currently has its head up its ass, so yes, I think private enterprises should probably take the reigns. The drive to maximize profits will more than likely surpass any drive the government could muster from subsidization.

 
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Originally posted by vikaTae:

Virgin Galactic’s only an edge-of-space enterprise though. It uses SpaceShipOne’s technology which is only good for a hundred miles up, not true orbit. To do that you have to leave atmosphere entirely, so you eliminate drag.

We will need something that goes just that little bit further, plus orbiting hotels (that can double as manufacturing plants). That’s where the inflatable space station becomes interesting. Transport the whole thing and several high-pressure gas cannisters up on a single shuttle. Assemble in orbit.

You do know that there are hundreds of thousands (a lot more really…) of rocks and other materials flying around in space, an inflatable space station would just get popped. Even the ones currently in space are heavily protected by kevlar and other defensives.

 
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Every item down to the smallest screw has it’s orbit tracked by the ground. Has to, in order to minimalise high-speed collisions.

As I understand it the inflatables use a honeycomb structure so if a wall is hit, only a small area is destroyed, and repair patches have been standard equipment for decades.

 
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The problem with this is… who owns the asteroids/other planets? Would it be the first country that lands on the planet or asteroid (though having to land on every asteroid would be very inefficient). Does that mean that America owns the moon? Does this mean that they could do whatever they want with it? As you can see this leads to problem. Especially if America lands on Mars and decides we all have to pay them if we want to mine the metals there. There may be a big problem there.

We can learn to see things in a larger context than our nationalistic worldview. Allowing others to have freedom to do what is right and tolerate as much as possible, what they do that we would not prefer.

 
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I think its okay for corporations, to operate edge of space enterprises and space transportation, but the people who actually go down on new , astroods and the such should be all gerernment to prevent these huge coperations from going to war over minral rights.
If coperation X finds a minerl rich planet at te same time as corperation Y, and they actually have the funds and tech to make mine-ing it profitable, I doubt they would be beyond killing each other over it. I read a awesome sci-fi book about this very senairio, but I froget the name.

it’l be like the wild west sept instead of cattlre ranchers and gold prospeters, well have massive corperations armed to the teeth.
plus, since this is space, itll be alot harder for gouvernment to interveen.

(my auto cerréct is in french and I suck at spelling. Sry.)