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First Mars-Goers Should Prepare For a One-Way Trip

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the buy-round-trip-tickets-to-slip-past-tsa-though dept.

Mars 528

Luminary Crush writes with this excerpt from PhysOrg about the permanance of leaving Earth for Mars, at least for early travelers: "The first astronauts sent to Mars should be prepared to spend the rest of their lives there, in the same way that European pioneers headed to America knowing they would not return home, says moonwalker Buzz Aldrin. '[the distance and difficulty is why you should] send people there permanently,' Aldrin said. 'If we are not willing to do that, then I don't think we should just go once and have the expense of doing that and then stop.'" On the other hand, maybe they'll catch a ride back with Carrie-Anne Moss.

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Who Chooses? (5, Funny)

s7uar7 (746699) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485627)

Do we get to nominate people to go?

Re:Who Chooses? (0, Troll)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485671)

Only if we start with Bush.

Re:Who Chooses? (0, Offtopic)

FatherOfONe (515801) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485953)

I would think it would be great to send up the current Congress. How about just those that voted for this ridiculous bailout. That of course would doom Mars to be a liberal mecca though, and I wouldn't wish that on any planet or country. McCain can be included with this mess.

This is a similar discussion that people have about the "What if the top 20 cities in the world were gone the next day". The world would go into a financial mess for a short time but the average quality of the people remaining would be go up significantly :-)

I guess if I had to pick I would pick some real scary people to send up to Mars first like say Randy Ayres or Reverend Write. Just hanging around those types of people will definitely influence your life. Not that any sane person would hang around them, but you get my point.

Re:Who Chooses? (3, Funny)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486167)

Mars to be a liberal mecca though, and I wouldn't wish that on any planet or country.

Yeah. Especially those liberals Lamar Alexander, Pete Domenici, Lindsay Graham, Orrin Hatch, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner. Send them all to Mars.

guess if I had to pick I would pick some real scary people to send up to Mars first like say Randy Ayres or Reverend Write.

I'd include those liberals Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin. Talk about scary!

Not that any sane person would hang around them, but you get my point.

Yes, we get your point. No sane person should hang around Rush, Ann and Michelle. Sadly, there are those among us who lack the mental fortitude to do otherwise.

Re:Who Chooses? (2, Insightful)

Sun.Jedi (1280674) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486375)

(bye bye karma)

I guess if I had to pick I would pick some real scary people to send up to Mars first like say Randy Ayres or Reverend Write.

Wrong direction. These two should be shot into the Sun.

Re:Who Chooses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25486045)

Do you really want Bush to be in a position to convince all the alien life who is visiting mars as a resort to watch Earth the reality show, that he should be in charge of them?

I don't care what anyone wants to say about how stupid he is or how evil he is, he convinced enough people to elect him to government office not once, but multiple times and on multiple levels.

Re:Who Chooses? (3, Funny)

AioKits (1235070) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485697)

I would go. Nominate me. Just let me play Last Resort by the Eagles on my trip there. Is all I ask.

Re:Who Chooses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25486259)

I'd get my ass to Mars.

Re:Who Chooses? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25486003)

I'd go. I probably have a friend who would come to.

Re:Who Chooses? (4, Interesting)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486317)

Count me in too. Hell, I'd rather go on a one way trip to Mars than one where I have to come back.

Re:Who Chooses? (5, Insightful)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486087)

The first astronauts sent to Mars should be prepared to spend the rest of their lives there, in the same way that European pioneers headed to America knowing they would not return home

I call BS! Columbus was backed by a government and made several trips back and forth. It was only after he went that settlers followed.

The settlers were people who were so fed up with the way their government was run that they would risk everything they had to escape it. Although I'm sure getting the ship and supplies was expensive for the day, it's no where near as expensive as it will be to get to Mars. Therefore Mars settlers will have to be unhappy with the government and require a great deal of money.

[sarcasm]Perhaps future Mars colonists will be republicans escaping the Obama administration.[/sarcasm]

Re:Who Chooses? (5, Insightful)

Goblez (928516) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486341)

The settlers were people who were so fed up with the way their government was run that they would risk everything they had to escape it.

Where do I sign up? Get to go to another planet (boyhood dream) AND get away from the three centuries of built up corruption? Deal.

Side note: Why do you think people in the past have chosen to leave over fixing what is wrong with their governments? Is it due to the vast number of entrenched bureaucrats that are satisfied to maintain the system that they think benefits them? Or that people in power have a habit of maintaining that power? Is it that the only other good alternative is Revolution?

Re:Who Chooses? (3, Informative)

Gospodin (547743) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486389)

Columbus was backed by a government and made several trips back and forth. It was only after he went that settlers followed.

Not only that - plenty of American settlers went back home. Check out the history of the first Roanoke colony. (The first one, not the one mysteriously wiped out that left only the word Croatoan carved into a tree. The first one was taken home by Walter Raleigh when they realized they were in over their heads.)

Re:Who Chooses? (1)

Sabz5150 (1230938) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486391)

The settlers were people who were so fed up with the way their government was run that they would risk everything they had to escape it.

Well, that's one thing to put on my "If McCain wins" list.

Re:Who Chooses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25486417)

Therefore Mars settlers will have to be unhappy with the government and require a great deal of money.

No need for money on Mars. Just people willing to work and trade some fungible unit of exchange such as energy or water.

Who is John Galt?

I don't know, but you gotta admit this qualifies as a pretty sweet gulch [nasa.gov] .

Re:Who Chooses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25486293)

Let's make that the next /. poll.

And CowboyNeal... hope for the best!

How would one go about it? (5, Interesting)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485657)

Would it be by lottery?
Perhaps, you buy your way?
Convict Volunteers?

Re:How would one go about it? (1)

psychicninja (1150351) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485853)

Convict Volunteers?

I dunno if that's a good idea, we tried that with Australia and remember what a punishment that was? If we did, there would probably turn out to be hot alien babes who produce beer instead of milk or something, and we'd all have no idea back here on Earth.

Re:How would one go about it? (5, Funny)

An. (Coward) (258552) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486051)

It'd be a terrible idea. I've read my Heinlein; I know what happens when you put convicts higher up the gravity well than you are. They drop rocks on your head.

Re:How would one go about it? (1)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486193)

Free Luna!

Re:How would one go about it? (3, Insightful)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486213)

Last time I checked Mars wasn't orbiting Terra.

Re:How would one go about it? (1)

32771 (906153) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485879)

It could be a lottery for the large crowd which wants to go to Mars no matter how.

Check this out:

http://www.universetoday.com/2008/03/04/a-one-way-one-person-mission-to-mars/ [universetoday.com]

Re:How would one go about it? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486357)

I'd go ... even if it was only with a few weeks of supplies and a suicide pill for when they run out.

People climb Everest even though there's a good chance of dying. How much greater a trip to mars?

Re:How would one go about it? (1)

WillSDCA (1296737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486251)

Sending convicts or even lay persons of a non scientific background would make no sense. Until the day when there is a thriving system able to provide food, water and oxygen for large masses of people, not to mention structures to house them; the only people who should be sent to Mars should and will be those who have beneficial scientific, medical or technical knowledge. Preferably individuals versed in multiple disciplines as with a limited number of individuals, millions of miles from "backup" you wouldn't want to be without a doctor or an engineer if someone were to be injured or killed. Don't get me wrong, sign me up the day true colonization is possible and lay people are needed there. For now that simply wouldn't be the case, what would we do other than use resources we wouldn't be helping to generate.

Re:How would one go about it? (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486263)

No need for convicts. There are plenty of *highly* qualified people who want to go badly enough they'd volunteer even for a one way trip -- and even if they didn't expect to survive all that long. These are smart, sane people who really do mean it. There may not be lots and lots of them, but there are certainly dozens and maybe hundreds to choose from.

Re:How would one go about it? (1)

Haoie (1277294) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486267)

No, you still need incredibly skilled, intelligent, physically fit people, if you want any chance of success.

Re:How would one go about it? (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486279)

Convict Volunteers?

It worked [wikipedia.org] for the United Earth Directorate.

Not that hard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25485679)

Considering that a lot of slashdotters never leave their parents' basement, I say we have a huge pool of potential candidates.

Unfortunately, the lag would be too huge for them.

I'll volunteer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25485693)

The world's only becoming greedier and more polluted on top of the ever-creeping 1984-ism. I'd love to be on Mars as long as I had a high-speed internet connection to supply me with a life's worth of entertainment on top of being able to watch the rest of the human scum kill each other and blow their earth mother to bits.

Oh, shit....but who would I play WOW with?

Re:I'll volunteer (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486297)

I'll volunteer you as well. If you care that little about the rest of us, we'll even get blizzard to throw in a WOW server in for the "lucky" exiles.

pioneers are preceded by explorers (4, Insightful)

delong (125205) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485699)

The American pioneers were preceded by explorers that not only did not intend to stay permanently, but (mostly) returned home safely to tell the tales. Otherwise, there wouldn't be any maps to guide the pioneers later.

The first explorers on Mars should use modular equipment that can be used to build up a permanent infrastructure for use by a later permanent outpost staff. Zubrin's approach makes use of modular hab units that can be connected to create a permanent outpost from individual (temporary) missions. That makes sense. Sending astronauts to Mars to stay permanently, without any experience of the efficacy of the technology, is inviting disaster. Jamestown over and over and over again.

Re:pioneers are preceded by explorers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25485835)

yeah, but in this case the explorers can be robots.

Which kind of puts us at the pioneer stage.

In terms of who to choose, I nominate prisoners. Let's turn it into austrailia 2.

Re:pioneers are preceded by explorers (4, Insightful)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485901)

It's a very different situation. We can do reconaissance of Mars without sending people, and have already done so. We also would have two-way communications with people we send.

Some explorers from Europe to North America might have been willing to go on a one-way trip if they'd had the equivalent.

Re:pioneers are preceded by explorers (5, Interesting)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485907)

And if this were 1606, I'd agree.

However, we already have maps of Mars. We have reasonably fast communication capability and data uplinks. People "on the ground" can relay useful information without sailing two months back to the motherland (not to mention the incredibly wasteful notions of either carrying return fuel, or carrying a fuel refinery, both of which occupy space and weight that could be better used to equip the first visitors properly for their trip.

Sending astronauts to Mars to stay permanently, without any experience of the efficacy of the technology, is inviting disaster.

Sending astronauts to Mars to stay temporarily, without any experience of the efficacy of the return vehicle, is inviting disaster.

Overcomplication in mission profiles and equipment is a greater problem. The first mission there should be a simple, straight-shot delivery vehicle, loaded up with habitats, tools, and backup equipment for a one-year camp on Mars.

The second mission, which should be launched two or three months, not years, later, could include a return vehicle with additional supplies and food. The problem at Jamestown was that they brought along insufficient resources of every kind. Dedicating half of the first mission to coming home again is the repeat you fear.

Re:pioneers are preceded by explorers (5, Informative)

notaspy (457709) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485941)

The American pioneers were preceded by explorers ....

The first human pioneers to Mars have already been preceded by explorers. Most, if not all, of the work to be done in preparation for colonization has and will be done remotely via robots, satellites and the like, an option unavailable in the 1500's and 1600's.

Well, yes...and no. (3, Informative)

mbessey (304651) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485979)

Have you seen the maps that the settlers of the US western territories used? Not what you're probably thinking of when you make a mental image of "map", I assure you.

Most navigation of the West in the early days was done landmark-to-landmark. Between and around the known landmarks was just wide open empty spaces. A lot of settlement parties tried various promising shortcuts through places like the Great Salt Desert and Death Valley, which worked out well for some, less well for others.

Re:pioneers are preceded by explorers (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485981)

The American pioneers were preceded by explorers that not only did not intend to stay permanently, but (mostly) returned home safely to tell the tales. Otherwise, there wouldn't be any maps to guide the pioneers later.

Uh, we have maps and very good ones indeed, we can spot planets around other stars and you don't think we can see Mars? We've got plenty data on the athmosphere, climate, radiation levels and most everything else you'd need an explorer for, and they haven't run into any wild beasts or natives yet. In fact, they didn't have to return to tell us that since between then and now we've invented magic like radio. There's no reason to send an explorer, though it might be a very good idea to provide the pioneer with an escape option in case things don't work out. But I don't see any reason why we should plan for that to happen regardless.

Re:pioneers are preceded by explorers (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486205)

We've got plenty data on the athmosphere, climate, radiation levels and most everything else you'd need an explorer for

I wish. We only recently confirmed that there's ice under the dust [wired.com] . We still don't even know if their are native lifeforms.

We may find it easier to substitute robot explorers for human ones before human colonists; but the amount of data we have right now is nothing compared to what would be gathered by a human team in a one month stay.

Re:pioneers are preceded by explorers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25485983)

Of course you never heard about the really early explorers who never made it back... Since they didn't make it back... Kindof like the anthropic principle.

Re:pioneers are preceded by explorers (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486093)

I question the efficacy of hab units being connectable.

I just don't think, in practice, that we can accurately land them within a tenable proximity.

practically everything we've landed on another planetary body, dating back to and including the moon landing, has been thousands of yards off the intended mark.

Do you consider it feasible to carry, install, and maintain connecting corridors which are kilometers long?

Re:pioneers are preceded by explorers (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486245)

Did you not see that article about the walking house?

It's a few articles further down...

Re:pioneers are preceded by explorers (1)

Karrde45 (772180) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486257)

Apollo 11 was miles off target. That was corrected by the time Apollo 12 landed. They successfully landed within walking distance of the earlier Surveyor lander. In a powered lander with a bit of cross range capability (like the LM) you can get pretty accurate landings.

Re:pioneers are preceded by explorers (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486289)

Amazingly enough just because something lands in one place doesn't mean it has to stay in that place. That applies a lot more to any supplies you get later on since those generally aren't useful if left a km from those who need them. Also practically speaking, connected or not, you will probably want your modules close to each other (and away from any future things that may be dropped).

Re:pioneers are preceded by explorers (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486235)

The first explorers on Mars should use modular equipment that can be used to build up a permanent infrastructure

You mean like this [slashdot.org] ?

Re:pioneers are preceded by explorers (1)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486353)

The American pioneers were preceded by explorers that not only did not intend to stay permanently, but (mostly) returned home safely to tell the tales. Otherwise, there wouldn't be any maps to guide the pioneers later.

The explorers were preceded by eskimoes and first nations, who would have crossed over from Asia while there was a polar ice cap connecting Alaska to Siberia. I'm betting any that made that trip did not go back.

But the first people Europeans didn't plan to stay (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485709)

I am pretty sure that even the Norse came, looked around a bit, and went home.
I know that the early Spanish explorers sure did.
That is the difference between explorers and settlers.

Re:But the first people Europeans didn't plan to s (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25486351)

That and explorers can move over any terrain without a penalty.

Like the First Hundred (5, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485717)

In his novel Red Mars [amazon.com] Kim Stanley Robinson tells of Mars being colonized by the First Hundred, a wave sent out after the first manned expedition, who would have to remain there forever. There are some interesting asides into the fact that, to want to leave behind your loved ones and all you know for a barren rock, you're probably not what the government bureaucrats who vet you would consider psychologically stable.

Re:Like the First Hundred (1)

residieu (577863) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485887)

He also pointed out that you should make sure you send at lest 2 psychiatrists. So they can keep each other from going crazy as well as the rest of the crew.

Re:Like the First Hundred (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485893)

But that barren rock keeps the tigers and bears away.
I want that rock!

Re:Like the First Hundred (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486067)

True, but members of the First Hundred (and one) did return to Earth, well in the future, but still they did.

Re:Like the First Hundred (3, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486151)

The internet would be accessible there with a 3 minute lag.

This means FPS and MMOs would be out of the question, but flash games, forums, and various other turn based options are still quite viable, as would downloading music and movies. Let the MAFIAA reach you there!

Re:Like the First Hundred (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25486241)

TCP/IP timeout is only about 1.5min for SYN packets.

Re:Like the First Hundred (3, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486327)

TCP/IP timeout is only about 1.5min for SYN packets.

then we'll have to implement interplanetary nodes which bridge between TCP/IP and algorithms optimized for longer distances wont they?

Re:Like the First Hundred (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25486275)

3 minutes when Earth and Mars are close. More like 20 minutes when you're on opposite sides of the Sun. And when you're really on opposite sides of the Sun, good luck getting a signal through. We'd probably need something to orbit the Sun to help beam communications around it.

Re:Like the First Hundred (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25486197)

Who said anything about loved ones? Christ. Not everyone has a happy home, you moron.

There are a lot of brave, bright young folks who grew up in foster homes and orphanages who would jump at the chance to fuck like rabbits in space on their way to another planet, leaving the masses of heartless bastards behind.

We should take this one step further than just saying it's a one-way ticket. The spacecraft should be dismantled upon arrival, and it's parts / systems used to provide starter materials for building civilization.

Much as the early pioneers stripped their boats of timber, iron and nails then used it to build their settlements.

Re:Like the First Hundred (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486413)

Orphans. Lots & lots of orphans.

terminal illness (2, Interesting)

jolyonr (560227) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485729)

Ok, if it were to be a one-way mission, and there wasn't even a major plan for long-term survivability when getting there, why not consider the possibility of offering a once-in-a-short-lifetime trip to people who have a terminal illness. Obviously it'd have to be something they could survive the trip out with. But what a better way to spend your last years/months alive?

Re:terminal illness (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485841)

if it were to be a one-way mission, and there wasn't even a major plan for long-term survivability

I don't think that's what he has in mind. I believe the intention is certainly for the astronauts to survive; but, they would be on their own. The astronauts would have to become at least partially self-sufficient. Needed supplies / equipment could be dropped in advance and continuing needs could be supplied with occasional drops.

correction (2, Funny)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485737)

"The first astronauts sent to Mars should be prepared to spend the rest of their long, luxurious, comfortable lives there, free from the risk of attack from unfriendly Indians and wild animals."

Re:correction (1)

LMacG (118321) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485935)

Indeed, it will be a chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

Re:correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25486195)

That sounds like the making of the United States of Mars to me. :)

Re:correction (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486361)

Especially by bears, who we all know are giant, marauding, Godless killing machines.

Kind of Sci-Fi (1)

boredandatwork (1339259) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485757)

Reminds me altogether too well of the old 70s scifi novel Birth of Fire http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birth_of_Fire [wikipedia.org] . The way the government acted throughout the story was also quite visionary.

My vote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25485783)

My vote is for staying permanently - with Carrie-Anne Moss. :-)

Re:My vote (1)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485797)

She'd take a named user before an AC any day, so get in line mate! (Though that chick SERIOUSLY needs to eat a sandwich.)

minimum energy cycler (5, Insightful)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485821)

Seems crazy to me. Why not build a spacecraft that does a minimum-energy cycle between Earth and Mars orbits continuously, for shuttling crew back and forth? It would be slow, but it wouldn't be maroon anyone.

Then you use the Constellation/Orion/CEV stuff to get from Earth to the cycler, and LEM-like craft between the cycler and Mars.

The resources for the Mars base, including lots of emergency provisions and an escape vehicle or two (extra LEM-like craft to return from Mars surface to Mars orbit and dock with the cycler) can be sent to Mars in advance. It doesn't make sense to send people until the provisions etc. are in place.

For redundancy, you'd probably build and launch two cyclers.

The drawback of all this is that it takes longer to build and deploy than a one-shot Apollo-style mission, but it's worthwhile because it provides an infrastructure for maintaining a permanent base and rotating crews.

The crews would still be committing to spending quite a few years to a mission, but not the rest of their lives.

Re:minimum energy cycler (2, Interesting)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485855)

See Mars cycler [wikipedia.org] for more details.

It seems rather ironic that Aldrin himself was involved in analysis of the cycler approach, but is now advocating a one-way trip.

Re:minimum energy cycler (5, Interesting)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486215)

It seems rather ironic that Aldrin himself was involved in analysis of the cycler approach, but is now advocating a one-way trip.

I feel like that adds more wight to his current opinion...

Not being able to return is not the only problem (3, Interesting)

CptnHarlock (136449) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485827)

As they mention the damage from cosmic rays/radiation will probably shorten the travelers life considerably. Still, I'd go even if it takes a yer to get there and I get 2 full years of decent life there (and then 6 months till cancer takes me). I'm so there... There should be a poll connected to this article. :)

Going to mars?
* I'm game!
* No way!
* Send the Cowboy

Re:Not being able to return is not the only proble (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486211)

I remember hearing that proposed lunar bases would shield themselves from cosmic rays by burying the modules in a thick coating of lunar soil.

The same could be done with anything sent to mars.

We could, but we shouldn't. (4, Insightful)

TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485831)

Since I was a kid, space travel has been the single most fascinating thing in the universe to me.

It has only been recently that I've come to realize that manned space flight is perhaps not the right direction. This was an extremely difficult decision for me to make, but I've made it.

The money spent on a a manned mars trip would be better invested in robotics research.

We need to get off this planet. Human beings do need to go to mars, but more robots need to go first, and will need to go with humans on their trips as well.

My (perhaps weak) analogy is that while it is possible for a human to swim the english channel unaided, it is wiser to use technology to allow the feat to be easier, safer and better in general.

Re:We could, but we shouldn't. (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486283)

I'd look at it slightly differently. A manned mission to Mars is inevitable. Eventually. But to be useful, those who go need to have adequate resources. So, some percentage of robot missions should carry significant extra cargo to support the eventual manned mission. This covers the need for more robots and brings a manned mission into the realms of something that could do useful work, stay active for an adequate length of time, and be safe against the known hazards on Mars. If it's done well enough, the manned mission could be scheduled as indefinite in duration, with additional supplies shipped up as needed. The "ideal" would be to have some of the robotic missions NOT be exploratory but construction. If you can get a Biosphere II up and running on Mars, bearing in mind you need it 2-3 times the size of the Biosphere II built on Earth to be stable, you could sensibly talk about people staying on Mars indefinitely/permanently. Given the difficulty of that level of construction, this sort of scheme would require decades of preparatory work before a manned mission and wouldn't be cheap or easy. However, it meets the needs of robotic missions and it meets the resource requirements for a manned mission to be genuinely successful and not just a there-and-back-again stunt for showing off.

Re:We could, but we shouldn't. (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486309)

My (perhaps weak) analogy is that while it is possible for a human to swim the english channel unaided, it is wiser to use technology to allow the feat to be easier, safer and better in general.

Right.

Like flippers and a rudimentary floatation device?
A rubber dinghy?
Rowboat?
Cruise ship?
Chunnel?
or do we wait until we perfect Teleportation?

Of course we should use technology; the question is how much. We should go to mars as soon as we have enough technology to have a high liklihood of pulling it off successfully.

Who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25485859)

Who is Buzz Aldrin?

Why? (1, Interesting)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485877)

Now before I speak I didn't RTFA....

But why can't the ship return home? I don't think it's an issue of weather or not someone can come home, but how long the trip will take.

Once you reach outer space and are going a certain speed, am I right when I say you don't have to continue propelling yourself through the air? Just glide out towards Mars until you arrive. Much like the moon landing, once you finish your business, can't you just lift off and go home? Sure there is more gravity on Mars so the amount of force to put you in space will require more fuel, but again though...It's the same concept right? It just travel time.

Re:Why? (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486097)

Once you reach outer space and are going a certain speed, am I right when I say you don't have to continue propelling yourself through the air?

I'm by no means a physicist, but it seems to me you you couldn't simply just glide across space to Mars...you'd still have to fight the gravitational pull from other objects, not to mention the occasional instance when you'd be in a collision course with other objects (asteroids, meteorites, space junk, etc). You'd also need to burn through some sort of fuel to provide the ship with electricity to support the crew members...maybe that could be accomplished via solar power though.

Re:Why? (4, Informative)

SilverJets (131916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486111)

Yeah, you probably should have just read the article.

Re:Why? (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486273)

Once you reach outer space and are going a certain speed, am I right when I say you don't have to continue propelling yourself through the air?

Uhh, what air? :P

smart remarks aside, Mars is *really* far away and even when you're going really fast it takes quite a while to get there. You'd basically need the same amount of fuel to return as you did to go in the first place... if you're lucky and you happen to leave at the optimal time when Mars is closest to the Earth. I have no idea how often we're at our closest to Mars so I don't know how long that interval would be. (Too lazy to get real numbers.)

Of course you'll also need other supplies to make the trip home as well, you'll need food, water, oxygen, etc. Although you'll be growing your own food on Mars I don't think you'll have the space to do that on a small spaceship returning home.

I'm not saying it's impossible, you just end up having to worry about twice as many supplies as well as creating a vehicle that has the ability to both land and take off from Mars.

Sign me up (3, Insightful)

einer (459199) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485909)

No Democrats/Republicans, no stock market, no poverty, no orwellian wars on drugs.... Sounds like paradise

What Rot (4, Interesting)

turgid (580780) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485959)

What a lot of rot. If we rely on chemical rockets, then yes, Mars will be a one-way trip.

On-orbit assembly of nuclear powered reusable spacecraft would completely change the game.

We need to stop thinking small and start asking, "How big can we build a Mars ship?" Heck, we know how to build a substantial space station in earth orbit.

Re:What Rot (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486319)

I'm no nuclear physicist... but I know that one of the reasons anything nuclear is usually shied away from in space is because if the rocket carrying it up there blows up on the pad / on its way up... you've basically just detonated a dirty bomb.

When they first got to the new world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25485987)

When they first got to the new world, people were already living there. Imagine the surprise if that happens this time around.

Mars ain't America! (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485991)

The American Pioneers are not a similar example to the first explorers on Mars. The ships that brought the pioneers to America returned to Europe (to perhaps bring more people to the new world.) And many of the first colonists did travel back and forth to the old country as part of trade and political exchanges. The biggest difference was that the Pioneers knew survival was possible in America. There would be food and water (and air!), though they would have to build their own shelter and hunt or grow their food. Unless the future Mars pioneers have the same assurances the option of a return trip is needed.

Re:Mars ain't America! (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486265)

Recent experiments in relation to a lunar base managed to produce water and oxygen from lunar soil using some heat.

A nuclear reactor would be sufficient.

Mars has direct and indirect evidence of considerable water reserves.

Water can be separated through electrolysis into oxygen and hydrogen, or purified and consumed.

He didn't promote that idea when he had to go (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#25485995)

In the early days of the U.S. space program, there was some talk of sending someone on a one-way trip to the moon, there to wait until larger rockets could deliver a vehicle able to make the return trip. One-way supply rockets would keep the poor guy alive while work progressed on the big boosters. It was a desperate plan to beat the USSR.

Aldrin, in his astronaut days, was not one of the proponents of that scheme.

Re:He didn't promote that idea when he had to go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25486203)

It just like how everyone is all for national service once they are too old to have to do it.

Huh (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486015)

"...in the same way that European pioneers headed to America knowing they would not return home."

Huh, well there were quite a few European pioneers who went to the Americas and went back to their home countries. Mostly the military and leadership positions, but still it wasn't universally a one way trip.

What is not being said (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486059)

is that the majority of the first population WILL be women. And they will send a large number of 100s or thousands of fertilized zygotes or just eggs and sperms. The reason is for diversity IN CASE separated.

Re:What is not being said (1)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486415)

is that the majority of the first population WILL be women. And they will send a large number of 100s or thousands of fertilized zygotes or just eggs and sperms. The reason is for diversity IN CASE separated.

Although that speculation does lend itself to various interesting book and movie plots, I'm hopeful that we're able to find some way for us guys to have a chance. Perhaps the women should be sent to the north polar region, and the men to the south. If nothing else, that would provide a strong incentive to keep the rovers working.

As far as procreation, in vitro or otherwise, I don't think that would be such a good idea at first. Send up some guinea pigs as both a (don't slap me) protein source [alpharubicon.com] and a test to see the results of reproduction in a low-gravity environment, with reduced sunlight but increased solar radiation. Let the guinea pigs be, er, guinea pigs for reproduction before we chance it with ourselves.

I think the first one-way colonists will likely be older, and wouldn't mind not being the Adam and/or Eve of a new planet. Though they'd likely need surgical assurance of that, because as long as Adam and Eve are within rover distance, there won't be any lack of trying...

fuck you jon katz (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25486069)

Jon katz now writes books about dogs.

No HAB.... (1)

TheNecromancer (179644) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486153)

But HAB has been destroyed!!! What?? Who??? How??? When???

Hey, I'll go if I can spend 6 months alone on a spaceship with Carrie-Ann Moss!!

Order of Operations (4, Interesting)

viridari (1138635) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486173)

Just some bar room style conjecture. Pull up a beer and jump in.

We should have a functional space elevator in place here on Earth first, used regularly to haul heavy cargo into orbit.

An interplanetary vessel should be assembled in orbit from components manufactured on Earth. Once the ship is built, cargo to support the first expedition can be sent up, followed by consumables for the trip, followed by the explorers themselves.

If the whole space elevator thing works as we hope here on Earth, a similar system should be constructed on Mars to support long-term missions. Additionally we ought to have GPS and communications satellites in orbit around Mars before sending permanent colonists.

With space elevators in place on both ends, it becomes far less daunting to send the heavy cargo needed to build rugged and roomy shelters, greenhouses, etc.

Sending astronauts there for short term scientific visits is indeed a waste of time, money, and other resources. If the idea is to have a more permanent presence on the red planet at some point, we should be building out the infrastructure now that is needed to ensure the first colonists have what they need to succeed.

why fly? (1)

bilbo909 (974603) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486239)

When we can swim [youtube.com] there and back?

Pointless and too expensive (3, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486247)

There's no reason for anyone to live on Mars. The only reason to visit Mars is because it's there. They need to plant a flag, take some pictures and then bug out, just like the moon, Mount Everest or the Mariana Trench.

Supporting a settlement on Mars would take continual resupply missions from earth costing hundreds of millions each. (There is no way that they locally could manufacturer all of the nutrition needs, drugs, advanced equipment spare parts, etc. they would need to maintain a colony.) This money would be better spent on other space missions, and the population on earth would quickly get bored of supporting a bunch of people sitting around twiddling their thumbs in an airless desert. It would undoubtedly be cheaper just to pay for one return trip for a Mars expedition.

What's more, life there would just suck. They would have to live below ground like rats in holes to try to shield themselves from deadly cosmic rays, occasionally darting into the sunlight before their max radiation doses were exceeded. They would never see a body of water, a natural plant, a cloud, or breath non-artificial air again. At any time whole groups of them could be killed by a single mistake with the life support systems. (Not to mention one of their team flipping out and intentionally pulling the plug.) Their resupply missions could get threatened by political turmoil on earth. It would be like a life sentence in prison, but much more lonely and powerless.

Donner Party on the Mars. (4, Insightful)

yogibaer (757010) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486255)

Highest regards for Buzz Aldrin, but that seems to me to be another classic case of pionieering gone wrong. Underestimate the terrain (Well, Houston, that surely LOOKED like ice from back home) Loose your crops get lost yourself and basta! Robinson Crusoe comes to mind. Read the classic and consider for a moment the hardships Rob had to endure without having to care about water, air and heating. (Or if you need something more visual, watch Tom Hanks in "Cast Away"). That should give you a pretty good perspective on how many things we take for granted in our daily lives and that we depend on for our (better than 50 % chance of ) survival (with a life expctancy of more than 45). Things that are produced, manufactured and maintained by hundreds of people. Ok, maybe no man eating savages on Mars (maybe not right away "Lord of the Flies" anyone?) Even with a monthly supply train, a bad tooth would kill you faster than a bullet, never mind taking the appendix out of your fellow astronaut. How many waves would Buzz be willing to sacrifice before establishing a viable foothold? There is absolutely no escape, when the next starbucks is one year away. That could be my limited perspective at the beginning of the century. On the other hand: Maybe they'll call it: "The Aldrin Barbecue".

So What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25486281)

Why on earth should this be a problem. Certainly there are people who would balk at leaving earth behind forever but I'm sure you could easily find enough people to fill space craft who this wouldn't worry in the slightest. This is also hardly news worthy, its completely obvious to anyone who's actually considered travelling to Mars and would certainly to reduce your number of willing volunteers below the number needed for a sucessfull mission.

Maybe the idea of Aldrin is another (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486337)

I believe the problem Aldrin says is another one: Is the possibility of things gone wrong and the explorers will stay trapped on Mars, like one Mars film where one of crew stay for a year on planet because malfunction of return capsule. The first crew for Mars may need to assume this risk, and if possible having a "plan B" to long or permanent settling on Mars if something gome wrong when they try to return.

European settlers didnt have to take their own air (5, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486397)

The question is, is it cheaper to organize a return trip, or is it cheaper to have them settle there permanently which means sending more equipment and making them pretty much self sufficient or supplying them with what they need including oxygen. These are your only 2 options (unless you're willing to abandon astronauts to die on Mars).

Queue "Gilligan's Planet" (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#25486421)

"Hey Skipper! How will we ever get home now?!"

"Ask the professor..!"

"Hey Professor, how will we ever get home now?!"

"Do you see any damned coconut shells here Gilligan?!!"

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