Discussion in 'science, nature and environment' started by editor, Jun 19, 2014.
I like the cut of this man's jib.
He'll find it a major challenge getting those boots back alive. Lots of problems to solve. I mean you may think building an extension is complicated but that's peanuts to....
That's a very very aggressive timeline. I have no doubt that he plans to do it, and I reckon he can, but not that quickly.
I didn't notice him talking about getting them back...
I wonder how long the proposed space-flight would be - another 9 months? And if they're coming back, another 9 months back, after... A few days seeing Mars? Elon Musk is a great guy with huge vision and resources, I wonder what the actual goal of such a trip would be. As he says, the longer-term goal is sustainable cities there, but that's a muuuuuuuuuuuuuch longer term obstacle. Unless they find a stash of Mars bars there.
I wonder if its a PR stunt, Mr Musk is not stupid he must know the time scale is far too short. If any has one read the mars article in last weeks flight international, the chances humans will get to mars in the next 50 years is remote. (it can be done, just costs too much money).
Quotes from flight international
"The international space station has been in orbit for 15 years and so far cost around $150 billion, roughly $10 per year for every man, woman and child in the USA"
or a couple with 2 children paying $40
"now ask them if they'd like to pay, $400 every year for the rest of their working lives" to fund a 2035 mars mission.
The European space agency spends about $545 million per year on all its exploration programmes - sending spacecraft to study Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and even the broader Milky Way and Universe. That equates to about the cost of a cup coffee for each citizen, which sounds like rather good value"
I think the Apollo programme was excellent, but for some time I think robots will explore space
much much cheaper
better suited for the harsh conditions
The hubris, the hubris...
I like this bit :
Good luck to him ...
Has anyone ever made a lord of the flies style film where the enthusiastic settlers are sent of and then fight to the death over the dwindling resources from Earth, which is now in recession and has no further interest in the whole shit situation other then maybe reality TV?
In fact maybe the ad revenues could pay for the survivors flight home?
I seem to remember there were volunteers to go to Mars who did not need the return ticket!
That's before it all goes dystopian and crazed scientists start setting traps for each other to reduce the demand on dwindling air and food supplies...I imagine a closed system would have inefficiencies that would multiply over time and become really shit over time if not properly supported.
I didn't know so much about Elon Musk so I just read up on him. He is some kind of one man success machine! and still so young, pretty amazing story so far..
Just to point out, this doesn't maths: $150 billion / (15 years x $10 per year) = 1 billion people. US population is more like 320 million. $30 per year would work.
He thinks he can do it much much cheaper than NASA ever could
Maybe he's got an idea for, or knows of, some technological gizmo that will make it easier. Or maybe it's just PR bollocks.
Their rockets are already hlaf the price of the government's
When they get reusability sorted out, that will bring the cost down to a 1/10th
He's ambitious, but he's not crazy
Musk is a genius, and in the next few years, I expect he will reduce the cost of putting payload into orbit by a factor of 10 or more, with a mostly-reusable Falcon Heavy. But the idea of setting up an actual "colony" on Mars in 10-15 years is absurd. For these reasons (forgive me for quoting myself from www.quora.com/Mars-planet/How-feasible-is-Elon-Musks-idea-to-establish-a-colony-on-Mars-in-the-2020s ):
1) Power. The Martian environment doesn't provide much of a natural life support subsidy. Every breath of air and drop of water must be manufactured by brute force chemical engineering processes from the chilly, dim, sterile and dessicated surroundings. Megawatt supplies of utterly reliable and uninterrupted thermal and electrical power are mandatory, which can only be supplied by hefty fission reactors; at least two independent units, and probably more, for adequate redundancy.
There are several (relatively) lightweight reactor designs on the drawing board, but it's going to take a long time to develop and win regulatory approval for them. Also, the idea of a private company owning and launching nuclear reactors into space is problematic. Why would any government allow such a launch to take place from its territory ?
2) Food. Nobody has yet demonstrated the stable, small, closed agricultural system (particularly bearing in mind the effects of pests, diseases and the accumulation of salts) required for Martian greenhouses.
3) Gravity. We do not know the long term physiological effects of living at 0.38g. Only two data points exist: 1g and 0g. Between these two points must lie a threshold at which debilitating medical effects will occur. Is it more or less than 0.38g ? If colonisation means living permanently on Mars, this necessarily entails having children. Surely it would be a good idea to investigate the effects of 0.38g on fetal development first ?
4) Refuge. Lunar or orbital facilities are only a few hours away from Earth. In an emergency Antarctic explorers can be airlifted out, and submariners can surface. If the furnaces fail in a Siberian town, the population can evacuate en masse to another city. But on Mars, there is nowhere to run to. Thus massive redundancy is required in designing a completely reliable and entirely artificial living environment. A colony is effectively a big, engineless spaceship stranded on the surface of Mars. And it will necessitate a huge mass budget to achieve the required levels of reliability.
5) Analogies. The analogies many people make between the settlement of the 13 colonies and that of Mars are bogus. The colonies offered a cornucopia of fish and fowl, timber and virgin soil, not to mention the occasional help of the locals.The experience of a life actually lived in Boston Mass compared to Boston Lincolnshire was not so different in the 1700s, as the contemporary simple and robust technological and cultural toolkit was easily transferred to the colonies. But it's impossible to copy and paste the stupendous complexity and diversity of today's culture to Mars. Early US settlers hoped for, and often enjoyed, a better material life. Mars settlers will be accepting a worse one.
And if they didn't like the local government, American settlers could always up sticks and move on to pastures new. There is no equivalent freedom on Mars. See Prof. Charles Cockell's work on the Oxygen Monopoly, for a polisci analysis of the likely emergence of such tyrannies (ISBN: 1905565224)
So, Martian colonists would live on a vegetarian diet, under institutional discipline, in a submarine, until they die. To be blunt: people nowadays are accustomed to a high level of autonomy, luxury, convenience and variety in their lives. Some of them might be prepared to give all that up, but they are going to be pretty quirky folk.
But: there is nothing to preclude a sequence of thrilling and historically momentous flags-and-footprints expeditions to Mars in the 2020s. However, before actual colonisation, it would be a really good idea to operate a Mars-simulator in Earth orbit. Better to found a new Boston in the 2050s than a new Roanoke in the 2020s.
Its all about the price to orbit. If you can dump hardware up there cheaply then a mission to Mars isn't that hard, you can just overengineer to hell and back.
If the cost to put stuff up is high then you have to spend far more time and effort making the optimum design, which also takes longer.
A Mars Colony by 2030 would probably be a big ask but a manned mission for a few months, leaving behind some hardware that might go on to be used for a Colony later? Yeah, a stretch goal but technically possible.
Yep. Part of the reason the ISS cost so much is because it had to be lifted piecemeal by (mostly) Shuttle, the most expensive $/kg launch system ever built, and then assembled by hand over decades. With a big reusable rocket (ie. the methane powered "BFR" that SpaceX are planning), you could lift the whole thing in one or two launches and save yourself a lot of time and money.
Heck, if they could design some
There are a few things in your post that i disagree with and this is probably the most apt. A Mars simulation would, obviously, be quite handy but a Mars simulator in orbit isn't really a practical concept. You'd finally have to build a rotating station to provide gravity, which would be awesome, but we haven't done yet. Nor would it be a good simulation as you'd have so many other factors that aren't anywhere similar such as the dust issues, mining, farming and so on. You could dual-purpose an ISS2 to help test for Mars conditions but that's another topic entirely and Musk doesn't want to do that.
A much more probable situation is an extended visit to Mars with a few test cases and enough bottled food, air and water to survive if the greenhouse packs up, then a return trip to home to see how the trip has effected them. The best scale for a model is 1:1, the best tests are when you make the situation as realistic as possible (the best experiment is different).
Also point 4 is wrong, or at least wrong with today and the near future's hardware. Launch windows aren't infinite nor do we have ready-to-go stuff that could reach the ISS, let alone the moon. When you're in space no one can really help you when you scream.
I'm addressing the idea of one-way trip colonisation, which also entails having kids. There is no data at all about the effects of living at Martian gravity levels (0.38g). It's a shame that the cancelled but completed ISS centrifuge was never flown.
On point 4: you evacuate from the ISS, using Soyuz lifeboats. Future lunar outposts would also evacuate to the Earth, using whatever future lunar transport infrastructure exists. No need to send up a lifeboat.
Nasa's Ellen Stofan interview: 'Our plan is to colonise Mars'
Your assumptions are all geared towards a one-way only trip with no return options and all seem to ignore the scale of the topic.
Any colony will have to be at least 200 strong to provide a sufficiently deep gene pool. A sensible plan (Hi NASA!) will involve a pathfinder option where you drop some people off, get the basic infrastructure bedded in and tested and only then launch the other 195. We're not going to do that in a week or probably even in a year. Also given that Space X is heavily pushing the re-usable and printed aspects of space flight do you really think it's plausible that after dropping of the equivalent of around 30 Dragon 2 loads (which that are designed to be re-used) they won't have the hardware to put people back up again?
With that sort of numbers it'll become more efficient to have dedicated launch/landing hardware at either end and a shuttle in the middle than lug the landers the entire way. Then if you've got a shuttle then you can return people.
That shuttle is the "MCT" that Musk has alluded to. Lands and takes off from Mars and swings by Earth every time the planets align. Fuelled with LOX and Methane synthesised in situ on Mars
Apparently this fruitcake bunch thinks there's already secret bases on Mars - and for some reason the Mirror ran the story.
Forgive the detour:
"Either mankind would slip the surly bonds of Earth and become an interplanetary species..."
This exquisite line comes from the sonnet High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, a WWII pilot:
"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
- Put out my hand, and touched the face of God."
If you recognise the first and last lines, they were used by Ronald Reagan in his address after the Challenger disaster.
OK, poetry over. Bring back the science!
It would also be worth having a Lunar Base to produce the fuel required and launch it into a lagrange fuel depot. It would save having to lug it all of the way from the earths surface. There's a whole stack of other issues taht need addressing to - dealing with regolith dust, growing food, generating sufficient power, massive improvement on biome sealing and recycling. We are just starting to get to the point where the technology is starting to make the dreams feasible, but I think 10 years is grossly optimistic. I think Musk's drive for such an aggressive timeline is that he wants to one of the colonists before he gets too old to make the journey.
Elon Musk has joined u75!
True, assuming that the cost of keeping the lunar station active is less than the cost of launching the fuel from Mars. Oh and that the regolith can be converted easily.
You would need pretty industrial scale machines to do much with moon regolith, depending on what you wanted to extract from it.
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