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Thread: My issue with Musk sending a Tesla into space

  1. #1 My issue with Musk sending a Tesla into space 
    Forum Freshman Coveny's Avatar
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    Iíve always been a big fan of magnetic levitation trains in vacuum tubes like the Virgin hyperloop. This project is inspiring. It could bring the globe together and better the lives of everyone on the planet. The concept is from Musk and itís awesome on many different levels, but heís not backing that horse. He wants to go to space, but rather than working with the maglev technology of a Startram heís trying to re-invent the wheel with fossil fuel based rockets. To add insult to injury for his first package into space he sent a Tesla as a publicity stunt. I share the sadness for the waste of an opportunity for research and advancement that this represents.
    Not Everyone Is Happy About Elon Musk Sending His Car Into Space | IFLScience

    And itís not like Musk isnít renewable energy conscious. His solar collecting shingles are very nice, and pretty cool. Even if Iím his Powerwall is un-inspiring itís at least an attempt to move away from fossil fuels.

    Now I tried to think positively about this. I tried to convince myself that this is just advertising, and itís working. I should admit that a lot of people are talking about it. Iíll also admit that as this was the maiden voyage so as Musk said, ďthere is a good chance this monster rocket blows upĒ, but the whole thing just seems like such a waste to me. He could have easily sent up expendable experiments, or Iím sure he could have gotten some investors to take a risk with a contingency that if the rocket blew up they wouldnít have to pay for the trip, but if it was successful they had to pay him and he could have recouped some much-needed capital on his passion project.

    I get the infatuation with space, but it just seems like to me that heís throwing reason out the window in pursue of his dreams.


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  3. #2  
    Your Mama! GiantEvil's Avatar
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    Haters gonna’ hate. Go Musk!


    I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
    Lucky me. Lucky mud.
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  4. #3  
    Samurai of Logic Falconer360's Avatar
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    I don't think it as a publicity stunt so much as an attempt to get the public interested in space and science as a whole again. If he had sent up some sort of scientific payload, the public as a whole wouldn't have given it the time of day. Sure people like us would have watched and been excited, but the average Joe wouldn't have gave a fuck. But by announcing he was launching a Tesla Roadster into space, it got everyone's attention. Now we have people that otherwise wouldn't have discussed a launch, discussing the launch and about space missions in general. Hell just this conversation of whether or not the launch was a waste of time is a positive improvement.
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  5. #4  
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    Musk is as close as we have in real life to Tony Stark.
    He's a rock star, making space cool again.

    The kind of guy that does that doesn't do it by being a pragmatist.
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  6. #5  
    Forum Freshman Coveny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Falconer360 View Post
    I don't think it as a publicity stunt so much as an attempt to get the public interested in space and science as a whole again. If he had sent up some sort of scientific payload, the public as a whole wouldn't have given it the time of day. Sure people like us would have watched and been excited, but the average Joe wouldn't have gave a fuck. But by announcing he was launching a Tesla Roadster into space, it got everyone's attention. Now we have people that otherwise wouldn't have discussed a launch, discussing the launch and about space missions in general. Hell just this conversation of whether or not the launch was a waste of time is a positive improvement.
    That's the best response I've had on this, and I can't totally disagree with you on it, but don't you think 100s of high quality camera live feed probes sent in different directions around the universe would have accomplished the same thing, AND captured peoples attention longer? Even if it was an attempt to get people stoked about Mars/space I think even that could have been done better. I do concede that I enjoy more people being interested in space though, and it has gotten people talking about it who wouldn't have normally talked about it.
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coveny View Post
    but don't you think 100s of high quality camera live feed probes sent in different directions around the universe would have accomplished the same thing, AND captured peoples attention longer?
    That's well beyond the scope of Musk's launch. Even a single scope, or a bunch of simple experiments would have defeated this test. He would have had to add in all sorts of vibration stabilizing systems, and had to consider the desires of scientists for location, ioslation and deployment and a thousand other things. The car requires zero care and feeding.




    Quote Originally Posted by Coveny View Post
    Even if it was an attempt to get people stoked about Mars/space I think even that could have been done better.
    Remember, the people who want scopes and experiments are the people who are already science fans. It would be "science news".

    This was a (very successful) attempt at capturing the attention of a very wide range of otherwise uninterested laypeople. This was general news.
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  8. #7  
    Samurai of Logic Falconer360's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coveny View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Falconer360 View Post
    I don't think it as a publicity stunt so much as an attempt to get the public interested in space and science as a whole again. If he had sent up some sort of scientific payload, the public as a whole wouldn't have given it the time of day. Sure people like us would have watched and been excited, but the average Joe wouldn't have gave a fuck. But by announcing he was launching a Tesla Roadster into space, it got everyone's attention. Now we have people that otherwise wouldn't have discussed a launch, discussing the launch and about space missions in general. Hell just this conversation of whether or not the launch was a waste of time is a positive improvement.
    That's the best response I've had on this, and I can't totally disagree with you on it, but don't you think 100s of high quality camera live feed probes sent in different directions around the universe would have accomplished the same thing, AND captured peoples attention longer? Even if it was an attempt to get people stoked about Mars/space I think even that could have been done better. I do concede that I enjoy more people being interested in space though, and it has gotten people talking about it who wouldn't have normally talked about it.
    As Dave has already mentioned above, live feed probes would have been beyond the scope of this launch. Set up for that would have likely delayed this launch even farther back. The car was simple and effective. I also wouldn't be surprised if SpaceX had put some sensors on the suit of starman. This was a great chance for them to test their spacesuit after all, which was admitted to be part of the logic behind including starman. Also as Dave pointed out, the average layperson wouldn't be as interested in a bunch of probes.

    The whole image of starman in the roadster just seems to make even the most uninterested layperson think about space exploration, it evokes that feeling of the days of the Apollo missions.
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  9. #8  
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    BTW, Musk didn't think of this idea himself.

    He was obviously a fan of Heavy Metal - the film. He's exactly the right age.



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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coveny View Post
    He wants to go to space, but rather than working with the maglev technology of a Startram he’s trying to re-invent the wheel with fossil fuel based rockets.
    That's what we need.

    If you had gone back to 1936 with a fleet of Concordes to bring air travel to humanity it would have been a useless effort. The runways to handle it didn't exist. The fuel it needed didn't exist. People wouldn't have been able to afford tickets even if those problems could be overcome. And if all THOSE problems could be overcome, the technology/equipment/skills needed to inspect, maintain, service, fly and direct the aircraft didn't exist yet.

    Instead what we got - and what really DID start the age of air travel - was the DC-3. It wasn't fast by our standards, but was faster than all other forms of travel at the time. It was inefficient, but efficient _enough._ It could operate out of unimproved airfields. It was rugged, and after some early mishaps, became a very reliable aircraft. It was simple to maintain and fly. It ran on standard gasoline. It carried 21 passengers. It was cheap to operate.

    The success of the DC-3 launched the commercial passenger aircraft market; it was the first aircraft capable of making money flying passengers alone.

    That's what we need today - a DC-3, not a Concorde.

    To add insult to injury for his first package into space he sent a Tesla as a publicity stunt. I share the sadness for the waste of an opportunity for research and advancement that this represents.
    It was a dummy payload - a used car. It's probably the cheapest thing he could have launched. And it served its purpose; it provided mass for the launch and got him some free publicity.
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  11. #10  
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    The contributions to rocketry look good. The stuntery of sending something as useless as a car into space didn't do anything for me - but it will be good for the Tesla brand; the EV's and batteries look likely to be a much larger and less fickle market than rocketry.

    The reduced costs for launch will be good for near Earth space activities - the sort that is done by people on Earth for purposes of people on Earth and making financial returns for investors on Earth. It will also reduce costs for astronomical instruments and sending out robotic probes. Colonies on Mars remain just as extremely difficult and dangerous as ever as well as pointless.

    My own view is that Mars or Moon colonies are more stuntery - built on a century of fiction that glosses over the costs and difficulties and rarely questions the fundamentally unsound economics. The dream - which I suspect taps more into primitive urges than logic and reason - is attractive. The reality of these new worlds is not.

    I think colonies in space won't arise through wanting to colonise space but can only arise as an emergent consequence of an enduring history of economically viable exploitation of space based resources. Tourism or pay-for-ticket colonists or income from spin offs won't be sufficient - there needs to be a sound economic basis for the fundamental activities and that means healthy trade with a healthy and wealthy Earth economy. These kinds of rockets are inadequate for freight transport of commodities back from Mars or Moon to Earth and can't deliver at lower cost than Earth based suppliers.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    The stuntery of sending something as useless as a car into space didn't do anything for me
    Right. It wasn't aimed at you. You're one of the converted.

    What we want is to convert non-space-geeks into space-geeks.

    Because...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    I think colonies in space won't arise through wanting to colonise space but can only arise as an emergent consequence of an enduring history of economically viable exploitation of space based resources. Tourism or pay-for-ticket colonists or income from spin offs won't be sufficient - there needs to be a sound economic basis for the fundamental activities and that means healthy trade with a healthy and wealthy Earth economy. These kinds of rockets are inadequate for freight transport of commodities back from Mars or Moon to Earth and can't deliver at lower cost than Earth based suppliers.
    While tourism won't be sufficient on its own, it will leverage the huge sums of money of the other 80% of the population who are yet interested in space (and/or don't currently see a path for them, personally, to take part).
    This space for rent
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  13. #12  
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    I don't think lack of popular support for stunts like trips to Mars is the impediment, it's the lack of expected returns on investment on such space based enterprises ie the lack of a compelling business plan. I suppose crowd funding or tourism or Reality TV rights could help a specific project but it's the professional financiers that have to be won over. I still think the fundamental activities - mining, refining, processing, manufacturing for trade - have to be economically viable in their own right to get that kind of backing.

    I don't see what activities a Mars colony can do that pays back Earth's investors - although going by popular SF themes, they will just raise their fingers to those Earth investors and go independent at the earliest opportunity. But the likelihood the colonists can be truly self reliant without an enduring lifeline from Earth seems remote.

    When it's a relatively small gap between what we can do now and economic viability of space based enterprises then popularising it in order to encourage interest and investment may tip the scales - but I think the gap is still very large for anything beyond near Earth orbit and encouraging popularity, especially if it is misleadingly downplaying the difficulties and exaggerating the possibilities, will not be enough tip the scales. It isn't a case of just throwing enough money at it; any colony will be dependent for a very long time on Earth's technology - likely better technology than the current best - but will have no way to pay for it. To be fully self reliant need a population, society and economy of sufficient size and capability to make everything they need from local resources. Equivalent to a sizeable, industrialised nation?

    Colonies that can't pay their own way face extinction - and will face it much sooner and more certainly than Earth does.
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