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posted by martyb on Saturday June 17 2017, @04:22PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the vision-and-a-plan dept.

Elon Musk has published a plan to colonize Mars using as many as 1,000 Interplanetary Transport System spaceships to transport a million settlers at a cost of $200,000 per person:

Elon Musk has put his Mars-colonization vision to paper, and you can read it for free.

SpaceX's billionaire founder and CEO just published the plan, which he unveiled at a conference in Mexico in September 2016, in the journal New Space. Musk's commentary, titled "Making Humanity a Multi-Planetary Species," is available for free [DOI: 10.1089/space.2017.29009.emu] [DX] on New Space's website through July 5.

"In my view, publishing this paper provides not only an opportunity for the spacefaring community to read the SpaceX vision in print with all the charts in context, but also serves as a valuable archival reference for future studies and planning," New Space editor-in-chief (and former NASA "Mars czar") Scott Hubbard wrote in a statement.

[...] ITS rockets will launch the spaceships to Earth orbit, then come back down for a pinpoint landing about 20 minutes later. And "pinpoint" is not hyperbole: "With the addition of maneuvering thrusters, we think we can actually put the booster right back on the launch stand," Musk wrote in his New Space paper, citing SpaceX's increasingly precise Falcon 9 first-stage landings.

Also at The Guardian.


Original Submission

Related Stories

Stephen Hawking Urges Nations to Pursue Lunar Base and Mars Landing 37 comments

Stephen Hawking wants humanity to pursue a Mars mission in the mid-2020s rather than the mid-2030s:

Prof Stephen Hawking has called for leading nations to send astronauts to the Moon by 2020. They should also aim to build a lunar base in 30 years' time and send people to Mars by 2025. Prof Hawking said that the goal would re-ignite the space programme, forge new alliances and give humanity a sense of purpose.

He was speaking at the Starmus Festival celebrating science and the arts, which is being held in Trondheim, Norway. "Spreading out into space will completely change the future of humanity," he said. "I hope it would unite competitive nations in a single goal, to face the common challenge for us all. "A new and ambitious space programme would excite (young people), and stimulate interest in other areas, such as astrophysics and cosmology".

Prof. Hawking also talked about interstellar travel:

[We'll] never know how hospitable Proxima b is unless we can get there. At current speeds, using chemical propulsion, it would take 3 million years to reach the exoplanet, Hawking said. Thus, space colonization requires a radical departure in our travel technology. "To go faster would require a much higher exhaust speed than chemical rockets can provide — that of light itself," Hawking said. "A powerful beam of light from the rear could drive the spaceship forward. Nuclear fusion could provide 1 percent of the spaceship's mass energy, which would accelerate it to a tenth of the speed of light."

NASA usually talks about planning for "Mars 2035". Who is trying to get there by 2025?

A Mars mission architecture SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk will unveil in September will call for a series of missions starting in 2018 leading up to the first crewed mission to the planet in 2024, Musk said June 1.

Related: Elon Musk's Plans for Mars and Beyond Revealed
Elon Musk Publishes Mars Colonization Plan


Original Submission

Boeing CEO Says His Company Will Carry Humans to Mars Before SpaceX 43 comments

Who will make it to Mars first?

It was about a year ago that Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg first began saying his company would beat SpaceX to Mars. "I'm convinced that the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding on a Boeing rocket," he said during a Boeing-sponsored tech summit in Chicago in October 2016.

On Thursday, Muilenburg repeated that claim on CNBC. Moreover, he added this tidbit about the Space Launch System rocket—for which Boeing is the prime contractor of the core stage—"We're going to take a first test flight in 2019 and we're going to do a slingshot mission around the Moon."

Unlike last year, Muilenburg drew a response from SpaceX this time. The company's founder, Elon Musk, offered a pithy response on Twitter: "Do it."

The truth is that Boeing's rocket isn't going anywhere particularly fast. Although Muilenburg says it will launch in 2019, NASA has all but admitted that will not happen. The rocket's maiden launch has already slipped from late 2017 into "no earlier than" December 2019. However, NASA officials have said a 2019 launch is a "best case" scenario, and a slip to June 2020 is more likely.

#SLS2020

Also, the next SpaceX flight is an ISS resupply mission and is scheduled for this coming Tuesday (December 12, 2017) at 1646 GMT (11:46 a.m. EST) from SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The plan is for the booster to return to landing at Landing Zone-1, also at Cape Canaveral.

Previously: Maiden Flight of the Space Launch System Delayed to 2019
Elon Musk Publishes Mars Colonization Plan
SpaceX Appears to Have Pulled the Plug on its Red Dragon Plans
SpaceX Putting Red Dragon on the Back Burner
SpaceX: Making Human Life Multiplanetary

Related: VP of Engineering at United Launch Alliance Resigns over Comments About the Space Launch Industry
ULA Exec: SpaceX could be Grounded for 9-12 Months
Commercial Space Companies Want More Money From NASA
Bigelow and ULA to Put Inflatable Module in Orbit Around the Moon by 2022
SpaceX Unlocks "Steamroller" Achievement as Company Eyes 19 Launches in 2017
Trump Space Adviser: Mars "Too Ambitious" and SLS is a Strategic National Asset
SpaceX's Reusable Rockets Could End EU's Arianespace, and Other News


Original Submission

SpaceX Putting Red Dragon on the Back Burner 14 comments

SpaceX informed NASA of slowdown in its commercial Mars program

Confirming rumors and suspicions that SpaceX is adjusting its plans to begin dispatching robotic landers to Mars, NASA officials said the commercial space company has informed the agency that it has put its Red Dragon program on the back burner.

Under the terms of a Space Act Agreement between NASA and SpaceX, the government agreed to provide navigation and communications services for the Red Dragon mission, which originally aimed to deliver an unpiloted lander to Mars in 2018. SpaceX confirmed earlier this year the launch of the experimental lander on a Falcon Heavy rocket had slipped to 2020. But Elon Musk, SpaceX's founder and chief executive, said last month that the company is redesigning its next-generation Dragon capsule, a craft designed to carry astronauts to the International Space Station, to do away with the capability for propulsive, precision helicopter-like landings as originally envisioned. Returning space crews will instead splash down in the ocean under parachutes.

[...] Musk wrote in a tweet that SpaceX has not abandoned supersonic retro-propulsion at Mars. "Plan is to do powered landings on Mars for sure, but with a vastly bigger ship," he tweeted last month after the announcement that SpaceX is omitting the propulsive landing capability on the Crew Dragon.

Musk said his team at SpaceX is refining how the company could send people to Mars, eventually to settle there. He revealed a Mars transportation architecture in a speech at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, last year, but the outline has since changed. A vision for gigantic interplanetary transporters Musk presented last year has been downsized, he said. Musk said he will unveil the changes during a presentation in September at this year's International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia.

Previously: NASA to Take a Supportive Role in SpaceX's Red Dragon Mars Mission
Elon Musk Publishes Mars Colonization Plan
SpaceX Appears to Have Pulled the Plug on its Red Dragon Plans


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 17 2017, @04:42PM (11 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 17 2017, @04:42PM (#527042)

    Sure it'll cost $200,000. Musk is also going to construct the worlds largest vacuum chamber, by an order of magnitude, stretching from Los Angeles to San Francisco and carry passengers at comparable throughput and price to an ordinary rail system like the type that's been constructed all over the world for the last N decades.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 17 2017, @05:55PM (10 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 17 2017, @05:55PM (#527067)

      It would be fast if he can actually build it. But, he won't be able to build it with the plans he's using. To do it correctly would require something like 4 concentric tubes with decreasing amounts of pressure just to keep the thing from imploding. On top of that, the interior tube would have to be larger than any vacuum chamber ever built and by several orders of magnitude.

      The whole thing is expensive, dangerous and impossible with today's technology. It would make far, far more sense to put more money into space travel and just use space as the vacuum chamber. You could easily get half way around the world in an hour or two like that.

      • (Score: 2) by Unixnut on Saturday June 17 2017, @06:29PM (5 children)

        by Unixnut (5779) on Saturday June 17 2017, @06:29PM (#527083)

        Yeah, but if you got an infinite money source courtesy of the taxpayers, you can afford to indulge in wild ideas that may just end up as expensive bondoogles.

        And if something eventually takes off, profit!

        A text book case of "socialise the losses, and privatise the profits" if I ever saw one.

        • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Saturday June 17 2017, @06:45PM (2 children)

          by kaszz (4211) on Saturday June 17 2017, @06:45PM (#527091) Journal

          In the case of space. There's the possibility of "socializing advantages of a space technology".

          • (Score: 2) by Unixnut on Saturday June 17 2017, @09:47PM (1 child)

            by Unixnut (5779) on Saturday June 17 2017, @09:47PM (#527157)

            Very true, if it happens. Call me a pessimist, but i suspect space tech will be privatised, and only the elite few will have the ability to access space (as anything other than a joyride).

            Excluding certain core scientific and military reasons that governments access it for, which while technically "socialised" in practice the taxpayer rarely gets a say or a go with the tech, at least for a few decades until declassified for public use.

            • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Sunday June 18 2017, @05:58AM

              by kaszz (4211) on Sunday June 18 2017, @05:58AM (#527366) Journal

              I'll suspect a development path similar to that of integrated chips.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 17 2017, @09:58PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 17 2017, @09:58PM (#527160)

          Yeah, but if you got an infinite money source courtesy of the taxpayers, you can afford to indulge in wild ideas that may just end up as expensive bondoogles.

          Musk spent some of his own money on a Hyperloop test track, baka.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18 2017, @12:39AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18 2017, @12:39AM (#527224)

            Is baka officially a loanword now?

      • (Score: 1) by YeaWhatevs on Saturday June 17 2017, @07:11PM

        by YeaWhatevs (5623) on Saturday June 17 2017, @07:11PM (#527107)

        Right, it's always been a pipe dream ;)

      • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Saturday June 17 2017, @07:32PM (2 children)

        by PiMuNu (3823) Subscriber Badge on Saturday June 17 2017, @07:32PM (#527118)

        I think the vacuum is extremely rough. You dont need 10^-6 bar or anything, more like 0.1 bar. Its not so hard to pull that sort of vacuum, even on a large volume. More like a bunch of vacuum cleaners sucking on a train tunnel than turbo pumps etc.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18 2017, @01:45AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18 2017, @01:45AM (#527261)

          Interesting that it is 0.1 bar since that is also approximate tropopause pressure throughout the solar system. Why there in this case?

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday June 18 2017, @03:16AM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday June 18 2017, @03:16AM (#527297) Journal

            Interesting that it is 0.1 bar since that is also approximate tropopause pressure throughout the solar system. Why there in this case?

            Coincidence. Both require low pressure for different reasons. The Hyperloop requires low pressure because that means less air to push around the vehicle and hence, less drag. The tropopause is an abrupt change in thermal gradient from cooling to warming that comes about because the atmosphere absorbs UV from sunlight, heating it up as one goes up in the atmosphere where there is more UV to absorb. The tropopause is the layer with the highest energy balance radiated to space. Both above and below have a lower energy balance radiated to space and hence a higher temperature.

  • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Saturday June 17 2017, @05:00PM (5 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Saturday June 17 2017, @05:00PM (#527048) Homepage Journal

    By the time Musk has transported a million settlers, there will be a million and a quarter of them.

    As for the expected lifetime of the rockets and spaceships - we'll have to wait and see how that pans out. The space ship is going to make 12 to 15 round trips? Possibly. But, stuff happens, too. Build one, make the round trip, then analyze the hell out of it, to see how you can improve the next generation. Fly that next generation a few times, take one out of service, and analyze it to hell and back. It's time for the NEXT GEN!!

    Surely, not even Musk expects that he's going to get everything "right" with the first plans, and the first builds.

    --
    There is a supply side shortage of pronouns. You will take whatever you are offered.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 17 2017, @05:57PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 17 2017, @05:57PM (#527068)

      The first settlers are probably going to be retirees. People who just retired, but aren't yet old and infirm. It's likely to be a one way suicide mission, so sending people young enough to reproduce before everything is set up and stable wouldn't make any sense. On top of that, there's ethical problems about raising children in that environment that hasn't got any analog on the Earth.

      They can use robots and send supplies ahead of time, but it's still going to be incredibly dangerous and I doubt that they'll send young people at first.

      • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Saturday June 17 2017, @06:26PM

        by kaszz (4211) on Saturday June 17 2017, @06:26PM (#527082) Journal

        Young people can get shit done. That is likely to defined the selection.

        The problem with children is that pregnancy and development until teens may be incompatible with the wrong amount of gravity. Tests on mice has not been encouraging.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 17 2017, @07:10PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 17 2017, @07:10PM (#527105)

      Surely, not even Musk expects that he's going to get everything "right" with the first plans, and the first builds.

      It may be easier when they redefine the kilogram:

      In the "New SI" four of the SI base units – namely the kilogram, the ampere, the kelvin and the mole – will be redefined in terms of constants; the new definitions will be based on fixed numerical values of the Planck constant (h), the elementary charge (e), the Boltzmann constant (kB), and the Avogadro constant (NA), respectively. Further, the definitions of all seven base units of the SI will also be uniformly expressed using the explicit-constant formulation, and specific mises en pratique will be drawn up to explain the realization of the definitions of each of the base units in a practical way.

      http://www.bipm.org/en/measurement-units/rev-si/ [bipm.org]

      If the second or speed of light (or meter) were also redefined he could get there even quicker.

    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday June 17 2017, @10:07PM (1 child)

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday June 17 2017, @10:07PM (#527163) Journal

      The space ship is going to make 12 to 15 round trips? Possibly. But, stuff happens,

      To me that doesn't seem that hard, because its no worse than the shuttle orbiting around for decades. Yes there is a thrust phase at both ends, but that need not be all that stressful or abrupt. Most freighter ships would not even need to be manned. The passenger ships need never land.

      As for his heavy lift rockets:

      [they will] come back down for a pinpoint landing about 20 minutes later. And "pinpoint" is not hyperbole: "With the addition of maneuvering thrusters, we think we can actually put the booster right back on the launch stand," Musk wrote

      How is this even a worth while goal?

      Click the Falcon 9 link in TFS, and click through the pictures. Compare the nice white rocket at launch to that crispy cinder that came down and landed safely. Do you REALLY think you want that hulk coming down and occupying your launch pad for the 6 months it takes to refurb it?

      There simply aren't enough people who want to spend their short remaining life in a pressure suit where you can't even scratch your nose, or take a crap, only to freeze solid three weeks later. Once the "first person on mars" award is handed out, and the miserable death documented, everybody who thought they wanted to go to mars will pretty much wake up to the fact that the planet is uninhabitable by humans in its present state.

      A civilization that can't stop global warming isn't going to be teraforming another planet even with the help of asteroid mining and all the other nonsense the dreamers hand wave into existence.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday June 18 2017, @03:25AM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday June 18 2017, @03:25AM (#527303) Journal

        There simply aren't enough people who want to spend their short remaining life in a pressure suit where you can't even scratch your nose, or take a crap, only to freeze solid three weeks later. Once the "first person on mars" award is handed out, and the miserable death documented, everybody who thought they wanted to go to mars will pretty much wake up to the fact that the planet is uninhabitable by humans in its present state.

        That's why they would have habitats. So that Mars would be habitable without having to wear a pressure suit all the time or taking a crap in near vacuum.

        A civilization that can't stop global warming isn't going to be teraforming another planet even with the help of asteroid mining and all the other nonsense the dreamers hand wave into existence.

        We can stop global warming, we just choose not to. Let us keep in mind that just because there is a global warming problem doesn't mean that stopping it is the best solution.

  • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 17 2017, @05:25PM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 17 2017, @05:25PM (#527054)

    Two things. First is to send robots to build the necessary infrastructure (which will include a shopping mall with a 20 screen cineplex and food court, and local Facebook servers). Then build the base camp on the moon using a string of space stations orbiting between there and earth to ship laborers and materials.

    And then, to make ethanol-fueled happy, exile all the chinks, niggers and spics (and maybe the Irish, definitely the French) up there (to Mars). Then we'll have peace on this planet. Right, buddy?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 17 2017, @06:06PM (6 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 17 2017, @06:06PM (#527070)

      Before sending all the B-ark crap, I suggest sending NASA's big magnetic field generator to Mars first,
          https://www.sciencealert.com/nasa-wants-to-launch-a-giant-magnetic-shield-to-make-mars-habitable [sciencealert.com]

      Then you can send the phone sanitizers (etc) to make sure the planet is ready for the rest of us.

      • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Saturday June 17 2017, @06:38PM (5 children)

        by kaszz (4211) on Saturday June 17 2017, @06:38PM (#527086) Journal

        They don't mention [usra.edu] how much power it will need, how to get that power and how to stay still in that heliocentric orbit.

        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday June 17 2017, @10:12PM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday June 17 2017, @10:12PM (#527164) Journal

          But hey, we can hand waive that into existence simply by mining the asteroids to build it in place.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Sunday June 18 2017, @01:35AM (3 children)

          by fustakrakich (6150) on Sunday June 18 2017, @01:35AM (#527257) Journal

          how to stay still in that heliocentric orbit.

          That part is easy [wikipedia.org], but deflecting the wind from there at the same time will be a neat trick.

          --
          Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
          • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Sunday June 18 2017, @05:22AM (2 children)

            by kaszz (4211) on Sunday June 18 2017, @05:22AM (#527350) Journal

            Staying still as a dead rock is not the point. So it means there will be some specific force in newtons. And there has to be a way to counteract it. One possibility is solar panels that drives a ion-thruster or similar (EMdrive?). But will it work out resource economy wise?

            • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Sunday June 18 2017, @03:05PM (1 child)

              by fustakrakich (6150) on Sunday June 18 2017, @03:05PM (#527478) Journal

              The economics is totally absurd, unless lunar robots build the entire thing. But if you really want a reliable magnetic field on Mars you have to re-melt the core to get it flowing again, which means putting your phasers on overload and burying them really deep :-/

              --
              Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
              • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Sunday June 18 2017, @04:04PM

                by kaszz (4211) on Sunday June 18 2017, @04:04PM (#527500) Journal

                Another method may be to simply fill the core with a on purpose nuclear reactor meltdown products. No need to drill all the way as the products will melt the planet core by themselves. But then it will rely on the mass flow caused by the heat gradients to experience imperfections when hotter material flows outwards, cools and flows back. But where the flow will have different friction depending on position.
                The catch is that it would need a lot of nuclear material. And it may give of radioactive gases. It may be simpler to protect per habitat.

                A simpler approach is a plain string of wire across the planet which is driven by solar power. But the amount of current and thus power needed would be great.

  • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Saturday June 17 2017, @06:42PM

    by kaszz (4211) on Saturday June 17 2017, @06:42PM (#527089) Journal

    Space tip, watch the launch of the space capsule Red Dragon [wikipedia.org] to Mars in 2020. SpaceX also says it will send something to Mars every time the planet is close to Earth. But there seems to be nothing planned for 2018. But from 2020, it's on!

    Btw, this magnetic deflector [stfc.ac.uk] technique seems interesting for crew protection in the future.

  • (Score: 2) by jmorris on Saturday June 17 2017, @07:14PM (26 children)

    by jmorris (4844) on Saturday June 17 2017, @07:14PM (#527109)

    Do the math people. 200K per head transport cost for a million people gets $200B I seriously doubt he is going to find a million paying passengers so where does the money come from? His only source of revenue is skimming excess market cap and green government subsidies from Tesla. Yea that is funding the early stages of a space program but does anyone think he can launder $200B from Tesla to SpaceX?

    And those numbers are just to dump warm bodies on the ground on Mars. For the first few decades they will need deliveries of pretty much any manufactured good. That is a LOT of tonnage of computers, industrial tools, flatscreen TVs, smartphones, etc. A side effect of the high transport cost will be a need to design a whole line of consumer products with 10-20+ year expected service life. If that happens I hope we Earthers are allowed to buy it.

    Then add in the fact few think we are going to get away with direct from Earth to Mars with no extensive infrastructure in LEO, the Moon, Lunar orbit, etc. Mars is an Apollo style attempt to get ahead of the tech for a splashy demo, it isn't ready for a regular passenger service mission profile.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 17 2017, @07:28PM (8 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 17 2017, @07:28PM (#527113)

      A modest proposal -- why not colonize Mars like England colonized Australia? Divert the cost of long term incarceration and send the miscreants to Mars.

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday June 17 2017, @10:22PM (7 children)

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday June 17 2017, @10:22PM (#527167) Journal

        Australia wasn't a death sentence. Neither was North America (Not even Roanoke).

        Mars is. There's no hope of achieving self sufficiency.

        "Transportation" as it was called wasn't always something the prisoners objected to. Free land in a warm continent had a lot of appeal to someone in a stone cold british prison or living on the streets.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 17 2017, @11:49PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 17 2017, @11:49PM (#527206)

          Not necessarily, but to not be a death trap they'll need to set up a big nuclear reactor with a lot of fuel, and a massive amount of equipment. They also must have successful artificial hydroponics working flawlessly.

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday June 18 2017, @11:13AM (5 children)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday June 18 2017, @11:13AM (#527424) Journal

          Mars is. There's no hope of achieving self sufficiency.

          You do realize that Mars has all the elements in sufficient abundance, including trace elements that life on Earth needs to survive and manufacturing needs to succeed? That's the only physical restriction to achieving self sufficiency.

          • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Sunday June 18 2017, @04:10PM (4 children)

            by kaszz (4211) on Sunday June 18 2017, @04:10PM (#527504) Journal

            You need to bootstrap that industrial base. That's where it becomes hard.

            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday June 19 2017, @01:47AM (3 children)

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday June 19 2017, @01:47AM (#527680) Journal
              Hard isn't impossible. I think we should avoid conflating the merely hard with the truly impossible. Since there is nothing physically impossible about living on Mars - we've already figured out ways to do so with pressurized habitats and underground structures made of normal materials used on Earth today, for example. At that point, it becomes a hard problem rather than an impossible death sentence, and a matter of sufficient ingenuity, effort, and resources.
              • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Monday June 19 2017, @04:06AM (2 children)

                by kaszz (4211) on Monday June 19 2017, @04:06AM (#527718) Journal

                I did not say impossible. Just hard. Sure it can be done. But it will require a lot of initial funding. It may be extremely profitable once it gets going on its own. But until then it will require a sustained pipeline of money converted into fuel, research and equipment. I also think the priority has to be on facilities that can regenerate what the colony needs to subsist.

                The possibility to mine, process and build things in space using solar power also built with in situ materials will likely let loose another industrial boom. It would enable building big space objects like a Stanford torus, high purity materials, special crystals, deep space astronomy, physics research, ability to process toxic substances because there will be no water transporting it around etc.

                Some data that are missing is:
                  * How does low gravity affect humans?
                  * What substances are present in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter? (fissile material would be a boon for power)
                  * What is present beneath the surface, on say Mars? or the Moon? Asteroids?

                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday June 19 2017, @12:10PM (1 child)

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday June 19 2017, @12:10PM (#527864) Journal

                  I did not say impossible.

                  frojack did.

                  Other data that is missing is what sort of treatment will be needed to remove toxins from Martian soil. There was some indications from the Mars Exploration Rovers, for example, that some soils may have high concentrations of chromium in them. That would need to be removed, if the soil were to be used for agriculture. And how harmful, long term exposure to much higher background radiation is.

                  • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Monday June 19 2017, @05:30PM

                    by kaszz (4211) on Monday June 19 2017, @05:30PM (#528040) Journal

                    I think I read or saw some technique to reliable clean the Martian soil from perchĺorates. For chromium, I have no idea. But I'll suspect it's a lot harder.

    • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Saturday June 17 2017, @07:29PM (2 children)

      by PiMuNu (3823) Subscriber Badge on Saturday June 17 2017, @07:29PM (#527115)

      $200k can buy (i) a tiny house in Western Europe (ii) accommodation on Mars. Folks are presumably planning to give up their worldly possessions anyway, so it isnt out of the question to spend the money on the ticket.

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday June 17 2017, @10:24PM (1 child)

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday June 17 2017, @10:24PM (#527169) Journal

        Seriously, I don't believe you've thought this through.
        What "tiny house" do they live in on mars? Where to they plant their garden? What do they breath?

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday June 18 2017, @03:31AM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday June 18 2017, @03:31AM (#527306) Journal

          What "tiny house" do they live in on mars? Where to they plant their garden? What do they breath?

          Sounds like you're channeling Quantum Apostrophe, a notorious troll of this stuff on Slashdot. First, Mars has a land area similar to the entire Earth's non-water surface. So there's plenty of space for "tiny houses", which would, of course, be built by the people living there. Similarly, there's plenty of places for a garden to be grown and greenhouses could again be built by the people growing the food. As to what they would breathe, it'd be the same chemicals we breath on Earth. It's not hard to extract, oxygen, nitrogen, and even argon from the Martian atmosphere. One would then pressurize the habitats so that the resulting atmosphere would be at pressures that people could live at.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday June 17 2017, @08:04PM (1 child)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday June 17 2017, @08:04PM (#527124)

      $200K is pretty cheap to get rid of recidivist prisoners, the US should consider sponsoring their trips, and we have well over a million in jail - in Texas alone.

      --
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      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 17 2017, @10:53PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 17 2017, @10:53PM (#527182)

        Mars... The black planet

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday June 17 2017, @08:07PM (4 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday June 17 2017, @08:07PM (#527125)

      >That is a LOT of tonnage of computers, industrial tools, flatscreen TVs, smartphones, etc.

      Sorry, computers, flatscreens, smartphones - these are not my first concern when I go on a camping trip. Food, shelter, oh and breathable air and potable water - those are up near the top of the list.

      >a need to design a whole line of consumer products with 10-20+ year expected service life. If that happens I hope we Earthers are allowed to buy it.

      I wouldn't call it a "need" - but it would make more sense for Mars and Earth. My 70 year old mother and I were lamenting how you used to be able to buy towels that last 20+ years (as evidenced by the old towels we have still in service) while anything new from the stores is in shreds within 2 years or less.

      --
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      • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Saturday June 17 2017, @08:16PM (3 children)

        by PiMuNu (3823) Subscriber Badge on Saturday June 17 2017, @08:16PM (#527126)

        What is she doing to her towels??

        • (Score: 2) by leftover on Sunday June 18 2017, @12:56AM (2 children)

          by leftover (2448) on Sunday June 18 2017, @12:56AM (#527234)

          Ordinary laundering will do it. Today's towels, like today's nearly everything, are complete shit compared to the products 50 and more years ago. This from personal observation, not hearsay.

          --
          Bent, folded, spindled, and mutilated.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18 2017, @04:06PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18 2017, @04:06PM (#527501)

            Socks, underwear and plastics too. Maybe it's a result of those "degradable" campaigns that actually means more crap ends up in the ocean (because it falls apart into tiny pieces that eventually get washed into the ocean).

            The plastic toys from the 1970s seem to last quite long: http://www.ebay.com/itm/1972-Vintage-Fisher-Price-966-Little-People-Airport-Helicopter-Trams-Cars-/272713134464 [ebay.com]

            I've one of those and it might last longer than me :).

            Whereas many plastic toys from more recent era seem to get "powdery" and eventually disintegrate...

            • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday June 18 2017, @05:00PM

              by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday June 18 2017, @05:00PM (#527523)

              The powdering effect lets the lead out where it can be ingested by the children. You know that these toys are all imported from China now, right?

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    • (Score: 2) by legont on Saturday June 17 2017, @08:50PM (3 children)

      by legont (4179) on Saturday June 17 2017, @08:50PM (#527143)

      It currently takes $1.25 millions to execute a prisoner in the US. Why can't we send them all to Mars? After all, the Australian experiment turned out rather well.

      --
      "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18 2017, @12:53AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18 2017, @12:53AM (#527230)

        Because authoritarian assclowns will demand that degenerate criminal scum produce profit for Earth and it will turn into a Heinlein novel

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18 2017, @12:55AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18 2017, @12:55AM (#527233)

          Also the ACLU will sue the shit out of them

      • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Sunday June 18 2017, @05:55AM

        by kaszz (4211) on Sunday June 18 2017, @05:55AM (#527365) Journal

        Do you think other Mars travelers will put up with them?

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Saturday June 17 2017, @10:05PM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Saturday June 17 2017, @10:05PM (#527162) Journal

      Considering this:

      http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/04/140422-mars-mission-manned-cost-science-space/ [nationalgeographic.com]

      $80-100 billion for a few people vs. $200 billion for a million.

      $20 billion per head is affordable for governments. $200,000 is accessible to dentists and defense contractors.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Sunday June 18 2017, @06:17AM

        by kaszz (4211) on Sunday June 18 2017, @06:17AM (#527372) Journal

        Defense contractors, yummy. Just what Mars needs ;)

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday June 18 2017, @05:06PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday June 18 2017, @05:06PM (#527525)

      Try this math on for size: Say the program costs $350B, because nobody ever hits their cost targets. It's also going to run for 20+ years, at least 10 launch cycles, probably more, but let's stop at 20. $350B is $1000 from every citizen of the USA, and it's also spread over 20 years, so that's around-about $1 per week from every US citizen in "Mars tax."

      The current US defense budget is around $600B PER YEAR, or closer to $1700 per citizen, or $33 per week.

      Me, personally, if there were a reasonable 20 year plan to get 1 million people to Mars (alive, and self-sustaining), I'd certainly approve a 3% rollback in US defense spending for that. If we can get the EU, Japan, South Korea and a few others in on the game, it can probably be more like a 2% rollback, if not - then we've got a 100% US based colony on Mars, doing who knows what for weapons development, within 50 years they can probably be precision-dropping asteroids on "trouble spots" around Earth.

      --
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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18 2017, @03:58PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18 2017, @03:58PM (#527497)

    The huge elephant in the room: there is little scientific evidence on whether the gravity on Mars is enough (or not enough) for humans and our preferred animals and plants. We know Earth gravity is enough. We know "zero gravity" is not enough. We have very little data in between.

    This module and associated experiments were cancelled: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centrifuge_Accommodations_Module [wikipedia.org]
    We should do such experiments first before even considering sending humans to Mars especially for long term stays. If it turns out Mars gravity is insufficient then it is better to consider human colonies in various orbits than on the surface of Mars.

    With our current tech levels it is easier to fake suitable gravity in orbit/"space" than on the surface of Mars. In this scenario there wouldn't be much point orbiting Mars. You might as well orbit a suitable asteroid or the Earth. The 5km/sec escape velocity of Mars and near zero atmosphere also will make it more expensive for trade and supplies.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18 2017, @04:18PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18 2017, @04:18PM (#527508)

    the "first" factory that needs to open on mars is one that sells "boring" machines.
    then all the housing and storage and what-not can be dug horizontally into the first best mountain ...
    of course this "first" factory will need smaller feeder factories to make all the tools to make the tool etc ...
    dig, mine, abandon then live in it?

    oh noes .. found an alien artifact :)

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