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How to Declare Your Financial Independence – Next Avenue

Posted: July 23, 2016 at 4:24 am

(Next Avenue is republishing this 2014 blog post, timed to July 4th.)

As the 4th of July nears, what better time to talk about a few ways that could help people in their 50s or 60s declare their financial independence within the next few years?

You may have noticed that the goal of financial independence and its close cousin financial freedom seem to be replacing the traditional goal of retirement.

Freedom and freedom money really resonate a lot more than retirement when we do focus groups, said Chris Brown, a partner at the Hearts & Wallets financial services market research firm.

Its not just about investing. Its about your life priorities and connecting your life to your finances to help enable those things.

David Tyrie, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

MorePlan for Financial Independence, Not Retirement

The financial advisory industry is onto this, too. Merrill Lynch, for example, has announced a holistic approach for clients, known as Clear. Its not just about investing. Its about your life priorities and connecting your life to your finances to help enable those things, David Tyrie, head of Retirement and Personal Wealth Solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told me.

Some smaller financial advisory firms say theyve been doing this kind of client counseling for years. We believe its the right way to manage money, said Dave Richmond, a founding partner at Richmond Brothers in Jackson, Mich.

A guy who knows a lot about financial independence and just began living it is financial writer and editor Jonathan Chevreau. I relayed his advice last year when Chevreau was the editor of Canadas MoneySense magazine (the northern version of our Money) and had just published the U.S. edition of Findependence Day, a fictional finance novel.

But on May 20, 2014, a month after his 61st birthday, Chevreau left his magazine job and declared his own financial independence.

MorePlotting Your Next Move for Unretirement

Although hes now blogging twice a week for MoneySense (contracting back 40 percent of what I was paid as a salaried employee), Chevreau is otherwise taking the summer off to watch the World Cup, travel to Turkey and read books on semi-retirement. After that, he intends to work when he wants and only as much as he wants, writing fiction and nonfiction and taking on speaking engagements.

Its experimental, Chevreau said. Im learning as I go.

In truth, he noted, his financial independence timing wasnt particularly mine. But it was pretty close. I wouldve preferred to go another year, he said.

Now that hes living the goal he novelized, I asked Chevreau whether hed amend any of the five rules his book laid out on achieving financial independence:

1. Pay off your home in full.

2. Find multiple sources of income for retirement.

3. Develop guerilla frugality habits.

4. Save 20 percent of your gross income.

5. Invest with a Lazy ETF portfolio selecting, say, three Exchange Traded Funds (a U.S. stock fund, an international stock fund and a U.S. bond fund) and holding onto them, rebalancing as needed.

Chevreau said he is not only sticking by them, hes been living them, with a strong debt aversion and an allergy to excessive spending. He just sold his old Volvo and bought for cash a two-year old Camry Hybrid. Its gas mileage is three times better than the Volvos, said Chevreau.

Now that hes not employed full-time, Chevreau said hes an even bigger fan of the Easy ETF portfolio.

When I was working full-time, I was constantly checking financial websites and listening to stock-oriented podcasts from The Motley Fool or Jim Cramer, he noted. Now, Id prefer to have the Easy ETF portfolio in this phase of my life and not have the anxiety of individual stocks going up and down.

If youd like free electronic help to achieve financial independence, I have two suggestions:

Freedom$. This is a nifty iPhone app from the Hearts & Wallets folks. (You can find it in the iTunes store or at GoFreedommoney.com.)

Freedom$ lets you see how youre doing compared to others your age. More important, it quickly shows you how much sooner youll achieve financial freedom by adopting any, or all, of the 10 financial behaviors of the most successful people in the annual survey of households the firm has conducted (20,000 have been surveyed over four years).

You start by just entering your age, your total assets and your total consumer debt (other than your mortgage). Then, Freedom$ calculates your Assets to Income Ratio. The goal: to become what Freedom$ calls a 10-timer, where your assets equal 10 times your income.

Next, you get a Freedom Score: an estimate of how many years until youll achieve financial freedom. This number that will shrink if you take on the good behaviors and get extra points for doing so. For example, Freedom$ says, try to save in a burst by turbocharging the amount youre putting away, something that could be easier once youre no longer paying for your kids college education.

Burst saving is three times more common among 10-Timers 64 percent of them did it making it one of the most important differences between 10-Timers and others, said Brown.

The whole process should take about 30 minutes, longer if you want to give yourself electronic reminders to take actions thatll help you find financial freedom sooner.

FlexScore is an excellent, free site to help you with day-to-day money management. I wrote about it last fall.

Like Freedom$, FlexScore also calculates a score for you and shows you how to raise the number. Since I first talked about FlexScore, the company has now also created FlexScore Pro, a version financial advisers can use with their clients.

Have a safe and happy 4th and heres hoping you achieve financial independence when you want.

Twin Cities Public Television – 2016. All rights reserved.

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Home – Oceania

Posted: at 4:22 am

Welcome to Oceania Cruises

Your World. Your Way.

Filled with a spectacular array of diverse and exotic destinations, your world awaits your discovery. There is simply no better way to explore it than aboard the elegant ships of Oceania Cruises. Our unique itineraries are handcrafted, featuring the most fascinating destinations throughout the world. As Regatta, Insignia, Nautica, Sirena, Marina and Riviera are all comfortably mid-size, each ship calls on the worlds most desirable ports, from historic cities and modern meccas to charming seaside villages and faraway islands. On a voyage with Oceania Cruises, each day offers the rewarding opportunity to experience the history, culture and cuisine of a wondrous new destination.

Relax on board our luxurious ships and savor exquisite cuisine that not only is renowned as the finest at sea, but also rivals the best restaurants ashore. Inspired by Master Chef Jacques Ppin, these culinary delights have always been a hallmark that distinguishes the Oceania Cruises experience from any other. Considering the uncompromising quality, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of an Oceania Cruises voyage is its incredible value. Lavish complimentary amenities abound, and there are never supplemental charges in any of the onboard restaurants. Value packages ensure that sipping a glass of vintage wine, surfing the Internet or enjoying a shore excursion is both convenient and affordable.

As the leader in destination cruising, Oceania Cruises sails to more than 330 ports around the globe. Itineraries are unique in that they call on the perfect mix of must-see marquee and boutique, off-the-beaten-path ports. Multiple overnight calls afford an in-depth, enriching destination experience and allow travelers to immerse themselves in the cuisine, culture and history of the ports we visit.

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Oceania Cruises, Oceania Cruise Lines, Deals and Discounts at …

Posted: at 4:22 am

Brochure price $6,416 Save up to 72%

Departing from: Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy

Ports of Call: Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy Sorrento/Capri, Italy Taormina (Naxos), Sicily, Italy Corfu (Kerkyra), Greece Kotor, Montenegro Zadar, Croatia Koper, Slovenia Venice, Italy

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Departing from: Lisbon, Portugal

Ports of Call: Lisbon, Portugal Oporto, Portugal La Coruna, Spain Bilbao, Spain SaintJeanDeLuz (Biarritz), France Bordeaux, France Le VerdonSurMer (Bordeaux), France Cruise Bay Of Biscay Southampton (London), England

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Departing from: Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy

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Departing from: Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy

Ports of Call: Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy Livorno (Florence & Pisa), Italy Monte Carlo, Monaco Toulon, France Palamos, Spain Barcelona, Spain Valencia, Spain Cartagena, Spain Gibraltar (U.K.) Lisbon, Portugal

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Departing from: Monte Carlo, Monaco

Ports of Call: Monte Carlo, Monaco Antibes, France Toulon, France Tarragona (Barcelona), Spain Palma De Mallorca, Balearic Islands Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy Amalfi/Positano, Italy Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy

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Departing from: Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy

Ports of Call: Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy Naples, Italy Catania, Sicily, Italy Argostoli, Kefalonia, Greece Kotor, Montenegro Zadar, Croatia Koper, Slovenia Venice, Italy

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Departing from: Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy

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Departing from: New York, New York

Ports of Call: New York, New York Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts Boston, Massachusetts Bar Harbor, Maine Halifax, Nova Scotia St. George’s, Bermuda New York, New York

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Nassau Paradise Island, Bahamas Where to Stay

Posted: at 4:21 am

Nassau Hotels & Resorts

Stay at one of our renowned Nassau hotels and resorts, where you’ll love the fabulous beaches, historic charm and vibrant pulse of The Bahamas-all while having the attractions of paradise right at your fingertips.

Browse Nassau Hotels & Resorts

Paradise Island Hotels & Resorts

From quaint, private beachfront properties to some of the most exclusive and famed destinations in the Caribbean, the hotels and resorts on Paradise Island are as incredibly varied and unique, as they are spectacular.

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Beachfront Hotels & Resorts in The Bahamas

Choose one of our Nassau Paradise Island beachfront locations, and wake up to stunning views of white sandy beaches, turquoise waters and beautiful blue skiesthen fall asleep to the sound of waves gently caressing the shore.

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AllInclusive Hotels & Resorts

Experience the ultimate carefree Nassau Paradise Island vacation and book your vacation at an all-inclusive resort. From the moment you arrive at a Bahamas all-inclusive resort, to the minute you depart, everything will be taken care of – including you.

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Small Hotels

Our Nassau Paradise Island small hotels are delightfully different yet joined by an impeccable set of standards. Because when it comes to wonderful accommodations and exceptional personal service, size doesn’t matter in The Bahamas.

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Meetings in Paradise

Hosting your next great meeting or event in Nassau Paradise Island has never been easier. We are a short 3-hour flight from the Northeast and are served by several nonstop flights from most major U.S. cities.

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Campaign for the Abolition of Terrier Work – About Us

Posted: at 4:12 am

The Campaign for the Abolition of Terrier Work(CATW) exposes the cruelty of digging out foxes and the injuries also inflicted on terriers. We are seeking legislation in the UK and Ireland outlawing the use of terriers to attack animals underground. Terrierwork is one of the cruellest so called ‘sports’ and should be illegal, just like dog fighting, fox hunting and badger baiting have become.

Trapped in darkness, being suffocated while attacked from the rear and dug out from above makes this activity one of the cruellest sports in the world as the pictures on our website clearly show! Terrier work is considered by the Countryside Alliance to be a “legitimate field sport in its own right.”

Under pressure from the bloodsport industry the Government allowed terrier work to continue under exemptions for gamekeepers and other wildlife killers.

Every fox hunt have terriermen ready to dig out foxes out, whilst many terrier men are independent, and will travel hundreds of miles for “the crack” (cowardly pleasure) of setting their terriers on a fox.

Some of the photos and videos within our website graphically illustrate the horror of foxhunting and terriermen cause to foxes, badgers and terriers. These may cause distress.

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Posthumanism: A Critical Analysis: Stefan Herbrechter …

Posted: at 4:11 am

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YOcoin A new open-source cryptocurrency distributed by you!

Posted: at 4:07 am

Cryptocurrencyis conquering the world of currencies and finance in a way wecould not even imaginefive years ago

In this next video, Wences Casares, the founder and CEO of Xapo, a Swiss-based Bitcoin wallet and vault company takes us through a short but compelling history of money. In less than 15 minutes you will hear what is so special and monumental about Bitcoin and real cryptocurrency like YOcoin.

Take notes on the videos belowthey couldhave a big impact on your financial future!

Click this linkfor information on how toset up your Ethereum Wallet!

Once you have your wallet set up, you will want toregister in anexchange. Watch the video below for more information on this!

A step-by-step guideinto setting up your new Ethereum wallet

Check it out

Digital bank WB21 announced that it has added Bitcoin as a method for its customers to transfer and deposit funds to their checking accounts.

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YO Clubs first promotion just might send you on a trip to Dubai!

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The Bitcoin is skyrocketing but at the expense of gold.

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The Bitcoins market capitalization surpassed the $9 billion mark.

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We want to hear from you! Send us a message in the contact box below.

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Space Exploration: Crazy Far – Pictures, More From …

Posted: July 21, 2016 at 2:17 am

On the edge of a parking lot at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, stands a relic from a time when our future as a spacefaring species looked all but inevitable, as clear and grand as a rocket ascending over Cape Canaveral.

This is not a model, NASA physicist Les Johnson says as we gaze at the 35-foot-tall assemblage of pipes, nozzles, and shielding. This is an honest-to-goodness nuclear rocket engine. Once upon a time, NASA proposed to send a dozen astronauts to Mars in two spaceships, each powered by three of these engines. Marshall director Wernher von Braun presented that plan in August 1969, just two weeks after his Saturn V rocket delivered the first astronauts to the moon. He suggested November 12, 1981, as a departure date for Mars. The nuclear engines had already passed every test on the ground. They were ready to fly.

Thirty years after the Mars landing that never was, on a humid June morning, Johnson looks wistfully at the 40,000-pound engine in front of us. He heads a small team that assesses the feasibility of advanced concepts in space technologyand NERVA, the old nuclear engine, just might qualify. If were going to send people to Mars, this should be considered again, Johnson says. You would only need half the propellant of a conventional rocket. NASA is now designing a conventional rocket to replace the Saturn V, which was retired in 1973, not long after the last manned moon landing. It hasnt decided where the new rocket will go. The NERVA project ended in 1973 too, without a flight test. Since then, during the space shuttle era, humans havent ventured more than 400 miles from Earth.

All of which might seem to make the question Johnson and I have spent the morning discussingwill humans ever travel to the stars?sound a little out of touch.

Why did it seem more reasonable half a century ago? Of course we were crazy in a way, says physicist Freeman Dyson of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. In the late 1950s Dyson worked on Project Orion, which aimed to build a manned spacecraft that could go to Mars and the moons of Saturn. Instead of using nuclear reactors to spew superheated hydrogen, as NERVA did, the Orion spacecraft would have dropped small nuclear bombs out the back every quarter of a second or so and surfed on the fireballs. It would have been enormously risky, says Dyson, who planned to go to Saturn himself. We were prepared for that. The mood then was totally different. The idea of a risk-free adventure just didnt make sense. A few years after Orion ended, Dyson outlined in Physics Today how a bomb-powered spacecraft might travel to a star.

These days its easier to outline why well never go. Stars are too far away; we dont have the money. The reasons why we might go anyway are less obviousbut theyre getting stronger. Astronomers have detected planets around many nearby stars; soon theyre bound to find one thats Earthlike and in the sweet spot for life, and in that instant theyll create a compelling destination. Our technology too is far more capable than it was in the 1960s; atom bombs arent cutting-edge anymore. In his office that morning, Les Johnson handed me what looked like a woven swatch of cobwebs. It was actually a carbon-fiber fabric sample for a giant spaceship sailone that might carry a probe beyond Pluto on rays of sunlight or laser beams. Be very careful with it, Johnson said. This is a material that might help us get there.

To get to the stars, well need many new materials and engines but also a few of the old intangibles. They havent vanished. In fact, they almost seem to be bursting forth again in the imaginative space vacated by the space shuttle, which in 2011 joined the Saturn V as a museum exhibit. In the conversation of certain dreamer-nerds, especially outside NASA, you can now hear echoes of the old aspiration and adventurousnessof the old craziness for space.

Last spring, three weeks before I met with Johnson, SpaceX, a private company based near Los Angeles, used one of its own rockets to launch an unmanned capsule that docked with the International Space Station. SpaceX leads several other companies in the race to replace the shuttle as the space stations supply ship. A month before that, a company called Planetary Resources, backed by billionaire investors such as Googles Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, announced plans to use robotic spacecraft to mine asteroids for precious metals. Working with Virgin Galactic, a company whose main business is space tourism, Planetary Resources expects within the next year or two to launch a lightweight telescope into low Earth orbit. We hope by the end of the decade that we will have identified our initial targets and begun prospecting, says Peter Diamandis, the firms co-founder.

Were going to look back at this decade as the dawn of the commercial space age, says Mason Peck, NASAs chief technologist. Its about companies large and small finding ways to make a market out of space. The energy we see nowthe economic motivation to go into spacewe havent seen that before.

Economics has long spurred exploration on Earth. Medieval merchants risked the hazards of the Silk Road to reach the markets of China; Portuguese caravels in the 15th century sailed beyond the bounds of the known world, searching less for knowledge than for gold and spices. Historically, the driver for opening frontiers has always been the search for resources, says Diamandis. Science and curiosity are weak drivers compared with wealth generation. The only way to really open up space is to create an economic engine, and that engine is resource extraction.

One resource he and co-founder Eric Anderson have their eyes on is platinum, so rare on Earth that it currently fetches $1,600 an ounce. Sending robots a million miles or more to extract and refine ore on asteroids in near-zero gravity, or to tow an asteroid closer to Earth, will require technology that doesnt yet exist. Theres a significant probability that we may fail, Anderson said at the press conference in April. But we believe that attempting this and moving the needle for space is important. Of course we hope to make a lot of money.

Elon Musk, the 41-year-old founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX, has already made a lot of money, and he is devoting a sizable portion of that fortune to his own space program. The new rocket SpaceX is developing, the Falcon Heavy, will be capable of carrying twice the payload of the space shuttle, he says, for about one-fifth the price. His goal is to reduce launch costs by a further factor of 50 or 100, to $10 to $20 a pound, by developing the first fully reusable rockets. This is extremely difficult, and most people think its impossible, but I do not, Musk says. If airplanes had to be thrown away after every flight, no one would fly.

For Musk, its all part of a much grander plan: establishing a permanent human colony on Mars. NASA has had enormous success on Mars with unmanned rovers, most recently Curiosity, but has repeatedly pushed back a manned mission. Musk thinks SpaceX could land astronauts on Mars within 20 yearsand then keep landing them for decades after that.

The real thing thats needed is not to send one little mission to Mars, he says. Its ultimately to take millions of people and millions of tons of equipment to Mars to make it a self-sustaining civilization. It will be the hardest thing humanity has ever done, and its far from certain that it will occur.

I should emphasize this is not about escaping Earth. Its about making life multiplanetary. Its about getting out there and exploring the stars.

The fastest spacecraft ever builtthe Helios 2 probe, launched in 1976 to monitor the sunattained a top speed of 157,000 miles an hour. At that rate, a spacecraft headed to Proxima Centauri, the nearest star, would take more than 17,000 years to make the 24-trillion-mile journey, a temporal span equal to the one that separates us from Cro-Magnon cave painters. Those inescapable facts lead even some of the staunchest advocates of human spaceflight to conclude that interstellar travel, aside from robotic probes, will remain forever in the realm of science fiction. Its Mars or nowhere, says Louis Friedman, an astronautics engineer and one of the founders of the Planetary Society, a space-exploration advocacy group.

Some scientists, however, find the prospect of eternal confinement to two small planets in a vast galaxy just too depressing to contemplate. If we start now, and we have started, I believe we can achieve some form of interstellar exploration within a hundred years, says Andreas Tziolas. A physicist and former NASA researcher, Tziolas is a leader of Icarus Interstellar, a nonprofit organization that aims, as its mission statement says, to realize interstellar flight before the year 2100. It is now collaborating with former shuttle astronaut Mae Jemison. In early 2012 the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded her $500,000 for something called the 100 Year Starship project. Our task is not to launch a starship but to make sure the technologies and abilities exist within the next hundred years to do that, Jemison says.

Tziolas thinks we could develop a starship engine that harnesses nuclear fusion, the energy source of stars and hydrogen bombs. When the nuclei of small atoms such as hydrogen fuse, they release enormous energymuch more than is released by the nuclear fission of large atoms such as uranium, the energy source of nuclear power plants and of the old NERVA. While physicists have built fusion reactors, they havent yet found a way to make one that yields more energy than it consumes. I have faith in our ingenuity, Tziolas says. Only seven decades elapsed between the discovery of subatomic particles and NERVA, he points out; by 2100, he thinks, we should be able to create a fusion engine that could propel a starship to a top speed of 15 to 20 percent of the speed of light.

That would allow it to reach the nearest star in another few decadesif its machinery could last that long. Twenty years is getting near the upper limit for how long you can design a spacecraft to reliably operate, says Les Johnson. NASA asked Johnson to look into a 20-year mission, not to a star but to the edge of interstellar spaceto the region known as the heliopause, several times as far as Pluto, where the suns influence is balanced by that of other stars. The thought was, you dont want to immediately start talking about going to the nearest star, says Johnson. Its over four light-years away. Its just … daunting, unfathomable. Johnsons task was to plan a realistic mission with a technology thats at least close to existinga first small step toward the stars.

Right now, fusion engines arent close to existing; a nuclear engine like NERVA would be too expensive; chemical rockets might reach the heliopause but could never carry enough fuel to reach a star in a reasonable amount of time. (The Voyager spacecraft, were it headed the right way, would drift by Proxima Centauri in 74,000 years.) In the end Johnsons team settled on the most evocative technology: a solar sail. Sunlight, like all light, consists of particles called photons, which exert pressure on everything they touch. At Earths distance from the sun, the pressure is only about a tenth of an ounce spread over a football field. But a large, thin sheet of reflective fabric, unfurled in the vacuum of space, will feel this gentle force and will slowly accelerate.

NASA launched a 110-square-foot light sail in 2010 that survived for several months in low Earth orbit. It hopes to launch a sail in 2014 that measures a bit under a third of an acre and weighs just 70 pounds. Movable vanes on the corners will allow ground control to maneuver the Sunjammer, which on its yearlong mission will tack some two million miles upwind toward the sun. A 16-billion-mile mission to the heliopause would require a disk-shaped sail 1,500 feet in diameter. After a year or two of sailing, the spacecraft would exceed 100,000 miles an hour.

Proxima Centauri lies 1,500 times farther still. To sail to another star, Johnson says, well need a sail the size of Alabama and Mississippi combined. We dont know how to build that yet. Whats more, sunlight alone couldnt push the sail to the star within a human lifetime, or even many lifetimes; youd need powerful space-based lasers. If you take the total energy output of humanity and put it in a laser on a satellite, says Johnson, then you could get trip times of a few decades to Proxima Centauri. And thats to send a robot the size of Johnsons desk.

What about humans, with their need for 24/7 life support? Johnson throws up his hands. When you start thinking about what it takes to supply people, he says, and how big the spacecraft would have to be and how much energy it would have to have, you enter the realm of science fiction.

To build a starship, you first have to build a future that converts fiction into fact, and that takes a lot more than rocket science. The task isnt figuring out right now how to design a starship; its continuing to build the civilization that will one day build a starship. Framed like that, more expansively, it begins to seem less impossible. But its a 100-year project or maybe a 500-year project, depending on your craziness level. Johnsons level is lowish.

I dont know what the world will be like in 500 years, he says. If we have fusion power plants, and space-based solar panels beaming energy down, and were mining the moon and have an industrial base in low Earth orbitmaybe a civilization like that could do it. Well have to be a civilization that spans the solar system before we can think about taking an interstellar voyage.

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A Brief History of Space Exploration | The Aerospace …

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Into Orbit

Humans have dreamed about spaceflight since antiquity. The Chinese used rockets for ceremonial and military purposes centuries ago, but only in the latter half of the 20th century were rockets developed that were powerful enough to overcome the force of gravity to reach orbital velocities that could open space to human exploration.

As often happens in science, the earliest practical work on rocket engines designed for spaceflight occurred simultaneously during the early 20th century in three countries by three key scientists: in Russia, by Konstantin Tsiolkovski; in the United States, by Robert Goddard; and in Germany, by Hermann Oberth.

In the 1930s and 1940s Nazi Germany saw the possibilities of using long-distance rockets as weapons. Late in World War II, London was attacked by 200-mile-range V-2 missiles, which arched 60 miles high over the English Channel at more than 3,500 miles per hour.

After World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union created their own missile programs. On October 4, 1957, the Soviets launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, into space. Four years later on April 12, 1961, Russian Lt. Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit Earth in Vostok 1. His flight lasted 108 minutes, and Gagarin reached an altitude of 327 kilometers (about 202 miles).

The first U.S. satellite, Explorer 1, went into orbit on January 31, 1958. In 1961 Alan Shepard became the first American to fly into space. On February 20, 1962, John Glenns historic flight made him the first American to orbit Earth.

Landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth within a decade was a national goal set by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. On July 20, 1969, Astronaut Neil Armstrong took a giant step for mankind as he stepped onto the moon. Six Apollo missions were made to explore the moon between 1969 and 1972.

During the 1960s unmanned spacecraft photographed and probed the moon before astronauts ever landed. By the early 1970s orbiting communications and navigation satellites were in everyday use, and the Mariner spacecraft was orbiting and mapping the surface of Mars. By the end of the decade, the Voyager spacecraft had sent back detailed images of Jupiter and Saturn, their rings, and their moons.

Skylab, Americas first space station, was a human-spaceflight highlight of the 1970s, as was the Apollo Soyuz Test Project, the worlds first internationally crewed (American and Russian) space mission.

In the 1980s satellite communications expanded to carry television programs, and people were able to pick up the satellite signals on their home dish antennas. Satellites discovered an ozone hole over Antarctica, pinpointed forest fires, and gave us photographs of the nuclear power-plant disaster at Chernobyl in 1986. Astronomical satellites found new stars and gave us a new view of the center of our galaxy.

Space Shuttle

In April 1981 the launch of the space shuttle Columbia ushered in a period of reliance on the reusable shuttle for most civilian and military space missions. Twenty-four successful shuttle launches fulfilled many scientific and military requirements until January 1986, when the shuttle Challenger exploded after launch, killing its crew of seven.

The Challenger tragedy led to a reevaluation of Americas space program. The new goal was to make certain a suitable launch system was available when satellites were scheduled to fly. Today this is accomplished by having more than one launch method and launch facility available and by designing satellite systems to be compatible with more than one launch system.

The Gulf War proved the value of satellites in modern conflicts. During this war allied forces were able to use their control of the high ground of space to achieve a decisive advantage. Satellites were used to provide information on enemy troop formations and movements, early warning of enemy missile attacks, and precise navigation in the featureless desert terrain. The advantages of satellites allowed the coalition forces to quickly bring the war to a conclusion, saving many lives.

Space systems will continue to become more and more integral to homeland defense, weather surveillance, communication, navigation, imaging, and remote sensing for chemicals, fires and other disasters.

International Space Station

The International Space Station is a research laboratory in low Earth orbit. With many different partners contributing to its design and construction, this high-flying laboratory has become a symbol of cooperation in space exploration, with former competitors now working together.

And while the space shuttle will likely continue to carry out important space missions, particularly supporting the International Space Station, the Columbia disaster in 2003 signaled the need to step up the development of its replacement. Future space launch systems will be designed to reduce costs and improve dependability, safety, and reliability. In the meantime most U.S. military and scientific satellites will be launched into orbit by a family of expendable launch vehicles designed for a variety of missions. Other nations have their own launch systems, and there is strong competition in the commercial launch market to develop the next generation of launch systems

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Space exploration New World Encyclopedia

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Space exploration is the physical exploration of outer space, by both human spaceflights and robotic spacecraft. Although the observation of objects in space (that is, astronomy) predates reliable recorded history, space exploration became a practical possibility only after the development of large, liquid-fueled rocket engines during the early twentieth century. Common rationales for exploring space include advancing scientific research, uniting different nations, and ensuring the future survival of humanity.

Space exploration has often been used as a proxy competition for geopolitical rivalries, particularly the Cold War. The early era of space exploration was driven by a space race between the Soviet Union and the United States. The launch of the first human-made object to orbit the Earth, the USSR’s Sputnik 1, on October 4, 1957, and the first Moon landing by the American Apollo 11 craft on July 20, 1969, are often taken as the boundaries for this initial period. After the first 20 years of exploration, focus shifted from one-off flights to renewable hardware, such as the Space Shuttle program, and from competition to cooperation, as with the International Space Station. From the 1990s onward, private interests began promoting space tourism. Larger government programs have advocated manned missions to the Moon and possibly Mars sometime after 2010.

Space exploration programs have received various criticisms, on cost or safety grounds, but there are many advocates as well, and public opinion in many countries is usually supportive of these programs. In any case, space missions have resulted in a variety of important discoveries, including the effects of low gravity on humans, the presence of Van Allen belts around the Earth, images of the far side of the Moon, and the absence of intelligent life on Mars. Current discussions revolve around the possibility of space colonizationthat is, the establishment of human settlements on extraterrestrial objects.

The first successful orbital launch was of the Soviet unmanned Sputnik 1 (Satellite I) mission on October 4, 1957. The satellite weighed about 83 kg (184 pounds), and is believed to have orbited Earth at a height of about 250 km (150 miles). It had two radio transmitters (20 and 40 MHz), which emitted “beeps” that could be heard by any radio around the globe. Analysis of the radio signals was used to gather information about the electron density of the ionosphere, while temperature and pressure data was encoded in the duration of radio beeps. The results indicated that the satellite was not punctured by a meteoroid. Sputnik 1 was launched by an R-7 rocket. It incinerated upon re-entry on January 3, 1958.

This success led to an escalation of the American space program, which unsuccessfully attempted to launch Vanguard 1 into orbit two months later. On January 31, 1958, the U.S. successfully orbited Explorer 1 on a Juno rocket. In the meantime, the Soviet dog Laika became the first animal in orbit on November 3, 1957.

The first human spaceflight was Vostok 1 (Sunrise 1) , carrying 27 year old cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961. The spacecraft completed one orbit around the globe, lasting about 1 hour and 48 minutes. Gagarin’s flight was a demonstration of the advanced Soviet space program, and it opened an entirely new era in space exploration: Manned space flights.

The U.S. launched its first man into space within a month of Gagarin’s flight, with the first Mercury flight by Alan Shepard. Orbital flight was achieved by the United States when John Glenn’s Mercury-Atlas 6 orbited the Earth on February 20, 1962.

Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, orbited the Earth 48 times aboard Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963.

China launched its first taikonaut into space 42 years later, with the flight of Colonel Yang Liwei aboard the Shenzhou 5 (Spaceboat 5) spacecraft.

The dream of stepping into the outer reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere was driven by rocket technology. The German V2 was the first rocket to travel into space, overcoming the problems of thrust and material failure. During the final days of World War II, this technology was obtained by both the Americans and Soviets as were its designers. The initial driving force for further development of the technology was a weapons race for inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) to be used as long-range carriers for fast nuclear weapon delivery. In 1961, when the USSR launched the first man into space, the U.S. declared itself to be in a “Space Race” with Russia.

Other key people included:

The earliest discoveries included the fact that humans could survive in zero gravity. Once the Russians had progressed to flights that were longer than a few hours, space adaptation syndrome appeared; where the sickness and disorientation due to the removal of gravity caused physical symptoms.

In space stations, the effects of zero gravity on bones and skeletal muscles has become more evident, where the human body becomes progressively more optimized for zero-gravity to the extent that return to the Earth becomes problematic and humans become progressively more adapted to the weightless environment.

Americans were the first to discover the existence of the Van Allen belts around the Earth. These belts contain radiation trapped by the Earth’s magnetic fields, which currently prevent habitable space stations from being placed above 1,000 km.

Russians were the first to take pictures of the far side of the moon, which had never been visible to humans. It was discovered that the far side was somewhat different, more heavily cratered.

U.S. Apollo missions returned rocks from the Moon, supporting the theory that the Moon was once part of the Earth.

Contrary to fanciful early reports from astronomers viewing Mars, no canals, and certainly no advanced lifeforms are present on the surface of that planet, but the presence of microscopic organisms has not been ruled out.

Space colonization, also called space settlement or space humanization, implies the permanent, autonomous (self-sufficient) human habitation of locations beyond Earth, especially on natural satellites such as the Moon or planets such as Mars. It would rely on significant amounts of In-Situ Resource Utilization.

Many past and current concepts for the continued exploration and colonization of space focus on a return to the Moon as a “stepping stone” to the other planets, especially Mars. Traditional concepts also called for the construction of orbital shipyards for the construction of inter-planetary vessels. Unfortunately, such concepts were prohibitively expensive, with estimated costs of $450 billion or more.

During the 1990s, however, aerospace engineer Robert Zubrin developed the “Mars Direct” plan, emphasizing the utilization of Martian resources. In his widely acclaimed book Mars Direct, Zubrin explained how human beings could be sent to Mars within 10 years, using existing or foreseeable technologies, at a cost of between 20-30 billion dollars.

Other efforts have included the Ansari X Prize, which offered a 10 million dollar prize to any private, non-government organization that could develop a spacecraft capable of launching three human beings into space, returning them safely to Earth, and repeating the feat within 2 weeks. The X-prize was a resounding success with the launch of Space Ship One, which was developed from scratch for only 25 million dollars, a tiny fraction of the cost of a single space shuttle launch. This development was accompanied by other prize incentives, and plans for routine space tourist flights.

Although only the United States, Soviet Union/Russian, and Chinese space programs have launched humans into orbit, a number of other countries have space agencies that design and launch satellites, conduct space research and coordinate national astronaut programs.

Did you know?

Critics of space exploration usually point out the costs, limitations, and risks of human spaceflight. It is more expensive to perform certain tasks in space by humans rather than by robots or other machines. People need large spacecraft that contain provisions such as a hermetic and temperature-controlled cabin, production of breathable air, food and drink storage, waste disposal, communications systems, and safety features such as crew escape systems and medical facilities. There is also the question of the security of the spacecraft as whole; losing a robot is nowhere near as tragic as human loss, so overall safety of non-human missions is not as much of an issue.

All the extra costs have to be weighed against the benefits of having humans aboard. Some critics argue that those few instances where human intervention is essential do not justify the enormous extra costs of having humans aboard. However, others argue that many tasks can be more effectively accomplished by human beings.

Some, including the late physicist and Nobel prize winner Richard Feynman, have contended that space missions have not achieved any major scientific breakthroughs. However, others have argued that, besides the large (and otherwise unavailable) amount of planetary data returned by spacecraft, there have been many indirect scientific achievements, including development of the modern computer, lasers, and so forth.

The results of research carried out by space exploration agencies, such as NASA, is one of the reasons supporters justify government expenses. Some even claim that space exploration is a necessity to humankind and that staying in its home planet will lead humanity to oblivion. Some of the reasons are lack of natural resources, comets, nuclear war, and worldwide epidemic. Stephen Hawking, renowned British theoretical physicist, said that “I don’t think the human race will survive the next thousand years, unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I’m an optimist. We will reach out to the stars.”[1]

Some critics contend that in light of the huge distances in space, human space travel will involve no more than visiting earth’s closest neighbors in the Solar System, barring any actualization of the theoretical concept of faster-than-light travel. Even such limited travel would consume large amounts of money and require complex spacecraft accommodating only a handful of people. Supporters of human space travel state that this is irrelevant, because its real value lies in providing a focal point for national prestige, patriotism, and international cooperation. They suggest the Clinton administration’s close cooperation with Russia on the International Space Station (ISS) gave Russia something to take pride in, becoming a stabilizing factor in post-communist Russia. From this point of view, the ISS was a justifiable cash outlay.

Some people also have moral objections to the huge costs of space travel, and say that even a fraction of the space travel budget would make a huge difference in fighting disease and hunger in the world. However, compared to much more costly endeavors, like military actions, space exploration itself receives a very small percentage of total government spending (nearly always under 0.5 percent), and space-exploration advocates frequently point out that long-term benefits could outweigh short-term costs. In addition, the successful launches of Space Ship One, a privately constructed, reusable space plane developed for only $25 million, has diminished the impact of cost-based criticisms.

Overall, the public remains largely supportive of both manned and unmanned space exploration. According to an Associated Press Poll conducted in July 2003, 71 percent of U.S. citizens agreed with the statement that the space program is “a good investment,” compared to 21 percent who did not.[2] NASA has produced a series of Public Service Announcement videos supporting the concept of space exploration.[3]

This is not to say that space exploration advocates do not criticize existing programs. Some supporters of space explorations, such as Robert Zubrin, have criticized on-orbit assembly of spacecraft as unnecessary and expensive, and argue for a direct approach for human exploration, such as Mars Direct.

Twenty-first century space advocates continue to work towards more advanced spacecraft, rotating space stations, lunar bases, and colonies on Mars. Some of these visions may come true, though significant obstacles remain.

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Space exploration New World Encyclopedia

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