Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

NASA Reveals Hundred Year Starship Program

CmdrTaco posted about 4 years ago | from the lost-in-space dept.

Government 351

cmansley writes "NASA Ames Director Simon Worden revealed that NASA Ames has 'just started a project with DARPA called the Hundred Year Starship,' with $1 million funding from DARPA and $100K from NASA. Worden said 'Larry [Page] asked me a couple weeks ago how much it would cost to send people one way to Mars and I told him $10 billion, and his response was, "Can you get it down to 1 or 2 billion?"'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

creators re-reveal newclear powered life on earth (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33959690)

you have the right to remain silent. we (US) are the world champs at that now.

the corepirate nazi freemason holycost (life, liberty etc...) is increasing by the minute. you call this 'weather'?

continue to add immeasurable amounts of MISinformation, rhetoric & fluff, & there you have IT? that's US? thou shalt not... oh forget it. fake weather (censored?), fake money, fake god(s), what's next? fake ?aliens? ahhaha. seeing as we (have been told that) came from monkeys, the only possible clue we would have to anything being out of order, we would get from the weather. that, & all the other monkeys tipping over/exploding around US.

the search continues; on any search engine



meanwhile (as it may take a while longer to finish wrecking this place); the corepirate nazi illuminati (remember, (we have been told) we came from monkeys, & 'they' believe they DIDN'T), continues to demand that we learn to live on less/nothing while they continue to consume/waste/destroy immeasurable amounts of stuff/life, & feast on nubile virgins while worshipping themselves (& evile in general (baal to be exact)). they're always hunting that patch of red on almost everyones' neck. if they cannot find yours (greed, fear ego etc...) then you can go starve. that's their (slippery/slimy) 'platform' now. see also:

never a better time to consult with/trust in our creators. the lights are coming up rapidly all over now. see you there?

greed, fear & ego (in any order) are unprecedented evile's primary weapons. those, along with deception & coercion, helps most of us remain (unwittingly?) dependent on its' life0cidal hired goons' agenda. most of our dwindling resources are being squandered on the 'wars', & continuation of the billionerrors stock markup FraUD/pyramid schemes. nobody ever mentions the real long term costs of those debacles in both life & any notion of prosperity for us, or our children. not to mention the abuse of the consciences of those of us who still have one, & the terminal damage to our atmosphere/planet (see also: manufactured 'weather', hot etc...). see you on the other side of it? the lights are coming up all over now. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be your guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. we now have some choices. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on your brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

"The current rate of extinction is around 10 to 100 times the usual background level, and has been elevated above the background level since the Pleistocene. The current extinction rate is more rapid than in any other extinction event in earth history, and 50% of species could be extinct by the end of this century. While the role of humans is unclear in the longer-term extinction pattern, it is clear that factors such as deforestation, habitat destruction, hunting, the introduction of non-native species, pollution and climate change have reduced biodiversity profoundly.' (wiki)

"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview. "How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."--

"The wealth of the universe is for me. Every thing is explicable and practical for me .... I am defeated all the time; yet to victory I am born." --emerson

no need to confuse 'religion' with being a spiritual being. our soul purpose here is to care for one another. failing that, we're simply passing through (excess baggage) being distracted/consumed by the guaranteed to fail illusionary trappings of man'kind'. & recently (about 10,000 years ago) it was determined that hoarding & excess by a few, resulted in negative consequences for all.

consult with/trust in your creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

all the manuals say we're not to kill each other, & we're mandated to care for/about one another, before any other notion will succeed. one does not need to agree whois 'in charge' to grasp the possibility that there may be some assistance available to us, including from each other. there's also the question of frequent extreme 'distractions' preventing us from following the simple 'directions' we were given, along with everything we needed to accomplish our task. see you there?
boeing, boeing, gone.

Re:creators re-reveal newclear powered life on ear (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33960070)

I would like to subscribe to your newsletter, but I'm afraid the corepirates would come after me. What do you suggest?

breath more, look around you, in the sky etc... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33960320)

consider failing to discount/reject/criticize, everything that doesn't match what you ?understand?, or the popular party LIEn, from time to time. you're already in the race, as an observer/noisy baggage? there's never a cover charge. that's something man'kind' made up, like greed, fear, & ego.

Someone please RTFA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33959692)

What has going to mars got to do with a starship? Shirley, a starship would be about going to another star.

Re:Someone please RTFA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33959802)

Anita little more info to Ann sir that.

Re:Someone please RTFA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33959824)

I'm not Ames, I'm Jennifer!

Re:Someone please RTFA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33959866)

It was supposed to be a secret. The trip to Mars was just a cover for the gravitational slingshot they will use to escape the Solar System. Unfortunately, their calculations are off. They need at least a 400,000 year starship, not a 100 year starship.

yikes (2, Insightful)

lojoho (1905040) | about 4 years ago | (#33959710)

So we're just 999 million dollars short?

Re:yikes (5, Interesting)

Splab (574204) | about 4 years ago | (#33959762)

A billion here and a billion there, who's counting?

What one really should notice about this is they can get someone on Mars for $10 billion; why the fuck haven't they started yet? 20 billion dollars poured into the US economy, into research and development and finally into production would probably have done a heck of a lot more than the trillions wasted on trying to save a few fat cats.

Re:yikes (5, Interesting)

shrykk (747039) | about 4 years ago | (#33959962)

In 1996 Robert Zubrin and others proposed a $55 billion programme for a series of Mars missions, Mars Direct [] . You can read about it in a very interesting book called 'The Case for Mars'.

The key points of the mission were

  • staying on Mars for 6 months between launch windows rather than a few days (digging in for radiation protection).
  • taking a seed stock of 12 tonnes of hydrogen and using a series of chemical reactions with various elements found on Mars to produce rocket fuel for the way back.
  • sending repeat missions including an initial unmanned mission, so that each mission makes the return fuel for the next one, giving a margin of safety. There would be multiple missions and a colony established.

This still seems to me to be the most sensible and effective way to put people on Mars. Preliminary back-and-forth trips to the moon not needed. Establishes a genuine human presence instead of just planting a flag. And at a cost which in the light of numbers being thrown around during the financial crisis which looks like a bargain.

Re: "The case for Mars" (1)

rootednoob (1032944) | about 4 years ago | (#33960240)

I think the Song [] was better...

Re:yikes (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#33960290)

Hydrogen isn't the type of fuel that lends itself well to long storage and bringing it down on some planetary surface. In fact, it's probably close to most problematic in those regards.

Re:yikes (1)

Nitage (1010087) | about 4 years ago | (#33960504)

Transportation and long term storage of hydrogen is problematic *on Earth* because of the presence of oxygen in our atmosphere - that's not a problem in space or on Mars.

Re:yikes (2, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#33960768)

Flammability is the least of problems. Bigger issue is how it is "very" cryogenic and of low density (necessitating large structures, especially problematic when trying to perform an atmospheric entry) - there are good practical reason why no booster needing to remain viable in space for more than a few days (or even hours?) used LH2.

Re:yikes (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | about 4 years ago | (#33960792)

Actually hydrogen gas will blow up in almost any athmosphere (additionally you will find large amounts of either O2 or CO2 in just about all planetary athmospheres). Unless mars' athmosphere consists of 90% argon or helium at least, it's still gonna blow up. Ah [] , so it's mostly CO2.

H2 would blow up in a CO2 athmosphere at 350 degrees and up (Sabatier reaction). Additionally above 500 degrees it would blow up, for a different reason. Believe it or not, this will make H2 even more volatile on mars than it is on earth (on earth a spark of 500 degrees is required to ignite a mixture of > 4% H2 and > 30% O2).

So even on mars you're just one spark removed from becoming a big crater. You certainly cannot set off a rocket engine anywhere near a hydrogen gas cloud. H2 gas also doesn't naturally occur on mars, despite being produced in the upper athmosphere, meaning, like on earth, something is likely making those clouds blow up without any help from a spark.

But hey, since the hindenburg there haven't really been any spectacular hydrogen blowups. Since the contemporary political reaction to any insufficiently large disaster is to create the conditions for truly massive failures (aka. the "stimulus), the big hydrogen clouds on mars must look pretty attractive to Obama ...

Re:yikes (5, Insightful)

eln (21727) | about 4 years ago | (#33960302)

Let's be honest here: Put in the context of the bailout, or even of the military budget or social programs like Social Security or Medicare, everything we could possible do in space looks like a bargain. The issue has always been political will.

Absent an imminent threat, real or perceived, the average voter doesn't want to fund anything, especially in today's political climate. It's easy to campaign for increasing military spending because of the evil terrorists. It's easy to campaign for keeping Social Security because nobody wants to see grandmothers starving on the streets. In contrast, it's very difficult to win elections running on platform of increasing our efforts in space. Most voters don't understand why we're even up there and wouldn't care if they did because it doesn't impact their day to day lives or their perceived sense of security.

So, when we decide we want to cut money from the budget, NASA and other programs like it are the first on the chopping block. We cut a billion here and a billion there from various programs, but won't touch the programs that take the largest bite out of the federal budget: the military, social security, and medicare. We could fully fund a mission to Mars right now just by cutting out a small portion of the money the military wastes on various projects it doesn't need or even particularly want, but that's never going to happen because to the average voter failing to fund whatever Congress thinks the military wants is anti-American and will cause the terrorists to win.

Our government has consistently shown that the way to win elections is to increase military spending and cut education and science research, including space exploration. This should tell you where our priorities are as a society, and why we're unlikely to make it to Mars or anywhere else in our lifetime.

Re:yikes (2, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | about 4 years ago | (#33960602)

The issue really seems to be the lack of a space race. So how do why drive the Russian and Chinese to compete in space and forget this competing militarily crap. Perhaps the meme driven over and over again, he who dominates in space dominates the world, driven over and over again might work.

You know, the first country with a manned expedition to Mars get to keep it along with the idea that Terra forming Mars would not be all that difficult.

Re:yikes (1)

flappinbooger (574405) | about 4 years ago | (#33960704)

Absent an imminent threat, real or perceived, the average voter doesn't want to fund anything, especially in today's political climate. It's easy to campaign for increasing military spending because of the evil terrorists. It's easy to campaign for keeping Social Security because nobody wants to see grandmothers starving on the streets. In contrast, it's very difficult to win elections running on platform of increasing our efforts in space. Most voters don't understand why we're even up there and wouldn't care if they did because it doesn't impact their day to day lives or their perceived sense of security.

Get some convincing shots of a "global killer" that's "20 years out" and lots of geeks saying it's a "99% guarantee to hit the planet" and you'd get your funding real quick. Then, when it "misses" (because it wasn't there) and the geeks say "oh, this was an imperial unit asteroid, we were doing the calcs in metric. Our bad. But look, we got cool space ships!"

Sounds like a plan to me. Call Spielberg, we need a consultant.

Tell me this - how different is this hoax scenario than "Too big to fail" as far as accuracy and believability goes?

A Trillion US Dollars would get a lot of people off the planet.

Re:yikes (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 years ago | (#33960316)

It's still not unreasonable to establish a permanent base on the moon, on the other side where the planet will shield a potential observatory to be built there from various types of signal pollution from Earth. We could learn about building and maintaining bases for low-G, low-pressure environments before we go to Mars and deal with entire additional categories of problem like windblown fines. On the other hand, sightseeing trips to the moon are totally worthless at this point.

Re:yikes (1)

zaax (637433) | about 4 years ago | (#33960396)

I don't think we need buildings as there seems to be caves. It makes getting there a lot easier as there is no need to take building with them. All that is needed is something for the front door. and we will soon have No.1,. First Ave., Mars.

Re:yikes (1)

Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) | about 4 years ago | (#33960528)

Before heading all the way to Mars like this, let's use this idea to return to the Moon. Escape velocity for the Moon is a lot lower than it is for the Earth (2.4 km/s versus 11.2 km/s according to Wikipedia [] ) so it would require less fuel to launch the longer mission from there. While there doesn't appear to be a whole lot of hydrogen in moon rocks, there is plenty of oxygen.

Re:yikes (-1, Offtopic)

saider (177166) | about 4 years ago | (#33959764)

No, We'll be able to do it with the (finger to lip) One Million Dollars*

*Contract to be negotiated will be a Cost-Plus with no penalty for overruns.

Re:yikes (1)

ebinrock (1877258) | about 4 years ago | (#33959886)

No, We'll be able to do it with the (finger to lip) One Million Dollars*

*Contract to be negotiated will be a Cost-Plus with no penalty for overruns.

"Uh, Dr. Evil, a million dollars is not a lot of money these days..." Sorry, I just had to. I love Austin Powers. Hey, you started it!

Re:yikes (1)

angiasaa (758006) | about 4 years ago | (#33960380)

More like 9,999,000,000 short. :P It's currently ten billion.

Sooo.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33959748)

How is an interplanetary transport a "starship"?

Re:Sooo.... (3, Funny)

hey (83763) | about 4 years ago | (#33959934)

How is Jefferson Starship a "starship"?

Re:Sooo.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33960050)

probably because the winds of change have them knee deep in the hoopla causing them to go to deep space/virgin sky whilst leaving Earth []

Re:Sooo.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33960220)

Let the Space Nutters have their jollies. In a hundred years, we'll still be on Earth. There will be no spaceships of any kind, ever. There will be lots of movies, bad sci-fi books, posters, paintings and general ranting and raving about colonizing the universe, but it's about as pertinent as saying we should colonize the core of Jupiter.
In the meantime, biotech will be the electronics and software of the 21st and 22nd centuries. We'll be curing diseases and living longer than ever. Maybe when we actually can reverse the effects of free fall, we might have something to do in space, but even then, we're limited to the propulsion we have now. Space is absolutely enormous, we don't live long enough. End of story.

And this is just another example of the Space Nutter circle jerk on tech sites... Where are the life extension stories?

Re:Sooo.... (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 4 years ago | (#33960342)

"In a hundred years, we'll still be on Earth"

Yes, you will, and be dead on top. Then you won't bore us with that defeatist whining shit anymore.

Re:Sooo.... (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#33960440)

How are explorers of small area of cosmos relatively far from the nearest star (distance two orders of magnitude greater than the diameter of said star), generally aiming away from it (but AFAIK without the goal of finding oneself even on the "surface" of another one), an "astronauts"?

I like it (0, Offtopic)

us7892 (655683) | about 4 years ago | (#33959768)

The article has some interesting tidbits about electric planes. A quick read. Take a look.

I would cut and paste a couple sentences here, but chrome+slashdot don't let me do that...

Re:I like it (1)

nu1x (992092) | about 4 years ago | (#33960292)

> but chrome+slashdot don't let me do that...

Then why the fuck do you use chrome ? And or the edition of /. that does not allow that ?

Re:I like it (1)

NevarMore (248971) | about 4 years ago | (#33960616)

OT, but its good to know I'm not the only one that affects. I'd ask for links to the issue or bug reports but well, you know...

"send people one way to Mars" (4, Funny)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | about 4 years ago | (#33959788)

In other news: Google To Expand Outsourcing

Re:"send people one way to Mars" (1)

Jade_Wayfarer (1741180) | about 4 years ago | (#33960340)

No, I think they'll just claim Mars for themselves on the right of "first foot set on land". New datacenters, [war]drones factories, headquarters on Phobos and Deimos, portals to other dimensions, mutant rebels and other interesting stuff... It's good to live in future, dammit!

Haven't they already tried this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33959790) ;-)

Cutting Corners (5, Funny)

PmanAce (1679902) | about 4 years ago | (#33959806)

$10 billion to $1-2 billion? What corners are they going to cut I wonder...

"Ok astronauts, we had some budget cuts so you will have to hold your breath once you get out of our atmosphere..."

Re:Cutting Corners (2, Insightful)

Combatso (1793216) | about 4 years ago | (#33959860)

they can start with the 8-billion slated to hire a consulting firm to lower costs in the NASA cafeteria

Re:Cutting Corners (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33959928)

They're not going to cut any corners. As we figure out how to make things, we also figure out how to make them cheaper and more reliable. This lowers the gross cost (as we make them more reliably, there is a higher yield - look at the yields of ICs on silicon since the 1970s) to produce something.

Re:Cutting Corners (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33960344)

Only if there's a market to sell them to. You're comparing ICs that basically power our civilization, to Space Nuttery that has no hope in hell of going anywhere? Where's the equivalent market?

You're also comparing things that get smaller and smaller to do the same work (basically flipping a bit), to something that CANNOT get smaller? We still weigh the same, gravity is still the same. Yes, we can improve materials to make rocket parts, etc, but not because there's a huge market for them, but because there's overlap with the aerospace industry and the military guys have deep pockets.

So, you're comparing swapping out a bad page of RAM for a spare one on a die to rocket engines that still need to deliver hundred of tons of thrust? You're insane. Are you a Space Nutter?

Yes, I can send someone for 2 billion (5, Funny)

Dark Stranger (547626) | about 4 years ago | (#33959820)

.. oh, you mean ALIVE?

20.10 20/10/2010 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33959834)

Ten days ago we had 10.10 10/10/10, now we have 20.10 20/10/2010 at 8.10pm tonight... completely offtopic I know.

racist, ignorant or corrupt, pick only 3 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33960262)

Can we all finally agree that " teabaggers " is the correct term for these kind of people from the beginning?
It's not like they're dressing up as indians or anythiing.

one-way trip (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33959846)

one-way..... he and Sergey Brin not getting along these days? Or do they have someone else in mind?

Tiny Flaw In the Plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33959864)

The kind of people who will volunteer for a one-way trip to Mars aren't the ones you want representing your country on a one-way trip to Mars.

Re:Tiny Flaw In the Plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33959890)

Representing my whom?

Re:Tiny Flaw In the Plan (5, Insightful)

Conchobair (1648793) | about 4 years ago | (#33959974)

The proposal of a one-way tripe has been around for a long time. From what I have read, most, if not all people in the field that are qualified, would be willing to volunteer to go. And why not? You would be one of the first people to set foot on an alien world. You would be history. Movies would be made of your life. Ego aside, the experience would be amazing. You'd see things no other human ever has and discover things that could possible change the way humanity looks at itself. This would be one of the most epic journeys mankind has undertaken. Many qualified sane people would willingly volunteer to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Re:Tiny Flaw In the Plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33960038)

My problem with living on Mars would be the latency.

Re:Tiny Flaw In the Plan (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#33960206)

On the plus side: interplanetary that-what-we-don't-talk-about should live again.

Re:Tiny Flaw In the Plan (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | about 4 years ago | (#33960718)

Inter-species erotica?

Honestly, by this point, I wouldn't care where the funding or direction would be coming from for interplanetary exploration, as long as it's done.

Re:Tiny Flaw In the Plan (1)

TheoMurpse (729043) | about 4 years ago | (#33960668)

I dunno, man, I think my problem would be the 1973 fashion [] .

Re:Tiny Flaw In the Plan (2, Interesting)

mdm-adph (1030332) | about 4 years ago | (#33960224)

You know what I've been thinking? I'm thinking that if the US doesn't go ahead eventually with the idea of a one-way trip to claim the title of First Country on Mars, that China, with their, how do we say, somewhat greater "willingness to sacrifice the individual citizen for the greatness of national prestige" (so to speak), is going to get to it first, and a lot sooner than we all think.

And seriously, since it involves space travel, I'm willing to say good for them.

Re:Tiny Flaw In the Plan (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 4 years ago | (#33960536)

Well, I think his point was, given history, the people who are willing to volunteer are using the ones you want to get rid of anyway. Just look at America -- the majority of the people willing to come here were the people that Europe was trying to get rid of, like Puritans and criminals (before there was Australia, there was Georgia).

Re:Tiny Flaw In the Plan (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#33960168)

How do you think most of serious colonization on this planet looked like? People generally weren't coming back.

It won't take direct journeys to other stars to form semi-detached human societies; most asteroids, moon systems around gas giants of our system (maybe except Jupiter), scattered disk or Oort cloud objects will be more than enough. Among the last group, some should eventually make the jump to Oort clouds of passing stars - but by then they could be at least a light year away already, not much point in big farewells.

Wow, a whole $1 million? (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#33959878)

Well, that should pay for the catering for a year.

But seriously, I know DARPA and NASA are just fulfilling their primary missions here (i.e., dazzling the press with PR), but is there anyone out there still gullible enough to think that ANYTHING will ever come of this, that this is anything more than pissing $1.1 million down a hole? With changing administrations, there is no way that DARPA or NASA could ever mount even a 10-year campaign for anything anymore, much less a 100-year.

Re:Wow, a whole $1 million? (1)

Lord Byron II (671689) | about 4 years ago | (#33960186)

It's not the trip itself, but the science that's important. Learning how to send a small group of people to a distant location with limited supplies and not having them all starve/kill each other/go crazy is important, not just for traveling to Mars, but for life on the ISS, or in the Antarctic, or at the bottom of the oceans.

Re:Wow, a whole $1 million? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33960278)

Oh, is NASA also going to do a Mars 500 [] -type experiment, just like the Russians, Europeans and Chinese are doing right now?

Re:Wow, a whole $1 million? (1)

aug24 (38229) | about 4 years ago | (#33960574)

This is, unless I misunderstand, 1.1 mill to establish if there is a feasible way to get the costs down.

Not to actually build it, or ACTUALLY make the tech cheaper - just to see if it is feasible.

Re:Wow, a whole $1 million? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 4 years ago | (#33960620)

I know DARPA and NASA are just fulfilling their primary missions here (i.e., dazzling the press with PR)

NASA maybe but DARPA? For every gee wiz DARPA project that you hear about there's 5 boring ones that no one cares about, the media doesn't exactly care about things like a smaller form factor for a military radio or a system for improved telemetry during test flights, regardless of how much they advance the state of the art.

You're going to find that rather difficult. (0, Flamebait)

quibbler (175041) | about 4 years ago | (#33959888)

...without your manned launch ability.

I think it's funny how much touting of past success and distant future goals the present administration seems to do after dismantling the US manned space program by executive order. (Rushed out days before congress could vote on emergency funding.)

Re:You're going to find that rather difficult. (3, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | about 4 years ago | (#33959964)

You should just go ahead and blame the last 25 years of administrations and congresses, not having a program to replace the shuttle isn't just a failure of the last 3 years.

Re:You're going to find that rather difficult. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33960190)

It is if you're a Republican. The economy is Obama's fault too, and now the same people that broke it want us to hire them to fix it.

Re:You're going to find that rather difficult. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 years ago | (#33960094)

...if you use the subject line as part of your comment.

Er, anyway:

...without your manned launch ability.

That's a silly thing to say. You [probably] don't have the ability to build a car, but you can go out and buy one.

NASA and the rest of the industry unable to do it (1)

vlm (69642) | about 4 years ago | (#33959906)

NASA and the rest of the industry would be unable to do it. The entire industry is oriented around project based operations with a defined start and end. Where is the "end" of a one way colonization ship? If an accident wipes them all out? Its incompatible with the whole corporate structure and mindset. Example, after the project ends, you get evaluated and perhaps promoted, on a project that never ends, that means you never get promoted, I'm sure they'll love that.

That's also why the cost concept is pointless. They mean $1B per bi-annual colonization shuttle sending more and more people, supplies, and capital goods? Or is it just a one time stunt?

I would not mind a one-way trip at all, IF I knew there was a continuous line of people behind me lining up for their one way trip. But if I/we were being abandoned to die there, when vital material X finally runs out, not so cool, I'm staying home. Its also psychologically safer if you imagine your friends and family could theoretically join you on the next ship, rather than you'll never see them again.

Re:NASA and the rest of the industry unable to do (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33960066)

Interesting take.. But, the "project" would be set up with the endpoint being "got to mars", just like we do with other space activities. Your project might end with "delivered spacecraft to the pad, ready for launch".

But $100k from NASA means basically 3-4 months work for one person. This is clearly a "study" type activity. With the total of about a million, you can get some people together in a room periodically, run some simulations, and write a decent report. For instance, just setting up an experiment to test their 140GHz propulsion scheme might burn the whole million. Sending significant power at 140 GHz through the atmosphere is going to be a challenge. Absorption is moderate (about 2-3 dB total, if clear, dry sky), but propagation uncertainties will make "forming the beam" as shown in the picture a challenge.

Re:NASA and the rest of the industry unable to do (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 4 years ago | (#33960304)

The AC responder makes a good point, but also missed something. You're confusing a "project" with a "program". Programs have lots of projects and milestones which you could be working on and get promoted for accomplishing. A project is a component task, assisting goal, or tangible feature.

An example of the difference: Military recruiting is a program that never ends (just like the one way colonization ship) but there are many projects that people work on that do end like this year's USMC recruitment TV commercial (or as the AC said, delivering the spaceship to the launch pad and prep it for launch).

The only people responsible for the success of a program are program directors and upper management, who are already at the top of their game and are gauged based on quarterly/yearly performance rather than end-of-program success.

Re:NASA and the rest of the industry unable to do (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#33960682)

Average members of our specie had lots of practice in abandoning friends and family; we can cope with that. And in this case even a decent communication would be possible, if a bit far from realtime.

Too bad the financing in the style of New World colonists probably can't work, there'll be probably nothing which could repay the debt in a reasonable amount of time. At least there's always place for "spiritual" reasons, I guess - which faith is willing to claim the Mars for itself with a first temple/etc.? ;p

Why don't they just light a fuse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33959916)

That's how Bugs Bunny did it like 50 years ago and It only took 20-30 seconds to get there. 2-3 Billion seems like a waste.

Reference Material: "Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century"

You want to put someone on Mars for $2 billion? (4, Interesting)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 4 years ago | (#33959926)

Then offer $2 billion to put someone on Mars. The Chinese probably won't take your money for political reasons, but I'm damn sure India will, probably buying Chinese rocket parts off the shelf.

Oh, wait - you meant, how can we give $2 billion to Americans to do it? Well, forget it - you need to spend that much just on the Oversight Steering Committee Review Board's annual team building retreat to Aspen.

One way? (1)

savvysteve (1915898) | about 4 years ago | (#33959938)

$10 billion does seems pretty cheap, look at the price tag for the shuttle program. The scary part is the "one-way" aspect. So what they take the astronaut scrubs and put them on that mission? They would have to put that person in a holding chamber until it reached Mars or they might hit the eject button.

mars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33960044)

it's the new austrailia

Find someone dying (2, Insightful)

voss (52565) | about 4 years ago | (#33960150)

It sounds heartless right? However the person whos dying and is told "You can be the first person on mars and we will provide enough supplies and medication for the rest of your life and big chunk of money for your family and let you have the biggest blowout party in history but your not coming home". It aint such a bad deal.

Re:Find someone dying (1)

stjobe (78285) | about 4 years ago | (#33960228)

the person whos dying

We're all dying.

nothing on starships (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | about 4 years ago | (#33959960)

I was expecting to read some radical plan for getting to the Gliese 581 star system with some kind of Orion nuclear pulse starship built from a moonbase. Instead I read about interplanetary travel and even airships. Interstellar travel is exactly what we should be planning. We've already mostly explored our own system with robotic probes. Time to move on. I picture large scale uranium [] mining on the moon similar to the mining operations in the film Moon, and a huge spaceship manufacturing base. Something like that is what we really need to get the the next phase of space exploration. In addition to building solar system sized interferometer telescope arrays to see which systems are worth visiting. Although Gliese 581 is an obvious choice. Nasa should be focusing on a permanent lunar settlement as its next immediate goal.

Re:nothing on starships (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | about 4 years ago | (#33960054)

With current technology (and current technology discovery rates), anything we send past the outer planets will, almost certainly, be overtaken by something else that we send later way before it ever makes any new discoveries. The speeds and distances involved mean that waiting 100 years (twice as long as the entire history of spaceflight) is more sensible because then we'd be able to build something that would overtake ANYTHING that we could send today. And, to be honest, it's quite probably that even THAT would be overtaken LONG before it got anywhere interesting (e.g. nearest star).

If we tried to catch the Voyager's NOW, it would take probably 15-20 years if we could use all the best technology (and assuming everything just worked as we expect it to). By that time, they'd be another 15-20 years in front. And the point at which we overtake them will be a point at which we could probably launch something from Earth that would get to the same point in much less time (and probably, again, overtake both!).

Interstellar travel is nonsense at the moment. It's a waste of money to put even one remote probe out that far because by the time it gets to anything interesting from an interstellar point of view (Voyager took nearly 25 years to get out of the solar system), we could build something that would launch, travel and pass it and have better sensors too. Any notion of sending these 20-generation, half-the-speed-of-light fanciful starships to other stars is a waste - unless you WANT your great-grandaughter to watch someone overtake them, waving as they go, and realise you are several generations away from your destination, several generations away from the home planet, AND you never got to any real interstellar science while you were travelling.

When something is possible in a generation (or possibly two) then it's worth doing. But it's really embarrassing to spend billions in order to be overtaken by a faster, better, cheaper probe that will get to your destination years before you ever do anything useful and was sent by people who've not had to do with food shortages, oxygen problems, radiation, muscle-weakening, etc.

Re:nothing on starships (5, Insightful)

TheoMurpse (729043) | about 4 years ago | (#33960710)

First, the obvious conclusion of your argument is that we should never send anything into space because we will always be able to overtake it 20 years later.

Second, you ignore the benefits of the first 20 years of using the thing (i.e., knowing things 20 years earlier than we otherwise would have).

Third, building the initial improves our ability to build a successor. Without building one now, the one we build 20 years from now might be ten years behind where it otherwise could have been. We might as well not build anything we can send into space until we've got FTL travel down cold.

Re:nothing on starships (1)

vlpronj (1345627) | about 4 years ago | (#33960110)

Once we've tested the first "generation ships", then we can work on the interstellar ships. Would you really want to be on the first interstellar vessel? Why not learn from mistakes made from travelling to relatively accesible destinations, and benefitting from the technically minded masses who will be ecstatic about even this development as we go? If we skip interplanetary, and go to interstellar, even with faster (read: unavailable) propulsion, the first vessel to go interstellar might not be the first, or even the fifth, intended to be interstellar. And if we fail, this will be a handful of astronauts who die, it will be - by its very nature - families.

Serious question here ... (5, Interesting)

SengirV (203400) | about 4 years ago | (#33959968)

Why have we not started a project based on a scaled up(more fuel) ion-propulsion engine to send something out of the solar system? We have our ears craning to the sky to hear a 1/2 watt voyager signal, but we could be sending something else deeper, faster, more powerful and with a lot more scientific instruments on it.

Re:Serious question here ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33960480)

Please define that better than "send something out of the solar system".
Voyager won't see anything more for 300,000 years, even at 100x speed a new craft won't see anything for 3000 years.
There are a lot more interesting things to study than the heliosphere right now, than to send a craft out there just for that.

nuclear accelerator (3, Interesting)

aashenfe (558026) | about 4 years ago | (#33959970)

So how about a nuclear accelerator ring as a propulsion device. Instead of the two proton beams colliding, they would be projected from each edge of the accelerator ring. The ring should be lighter than an earth based one because a vacuum is already present. A nuclear power plant would be required to power the ring, and a tank of hydrogen would be required as a proton source (Unless hydrogen or protons can be harvested from the solar wind).

The perfect engine would generate 1G of acceleration over a multiple year period.

With this engine, a trip to Mars should be a rather shorter endeavour.

Anybody have any idea what it would take to build such a thing, Or how fast such a thing could get to Mars at it's closest approach assuming 1G of acceleration?

Re:nuclear accelerator (1)

ChromaticDragon (1034458) | about 4 years ago | (#33960142)

Ya mean an Ion thruster [] ?
Of course NASA has pondered using Ion propulsion [] to get to Mars.
It seems how long it would take to get to Mars using ion propulsion depends on a number of considerations. But a figure bandied about last years was 39 days [] .

Re:nuclear accelerator (1)

aashenfe (558026) | about 4 years ago | (#33960376)

Yes, Like an ION thruster, but an accelerator ring would allow the protons to ejected closer to the speed of light, creating more thrust with less material..

One way? (1)

r7lemieux (1574641) | about 4 years ago | (#33960010)

This is a great idea. Send someone who has a short life span but is still healthy enough to do the job. There will be thousand of volunteers. What a glorious exit ! What a great commitment example for the people !

I can do it for 1 billion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33960020)

No problem 1 billion dollars please. As long as they do not read the fine print about the return ticket costing 9 billion.

When they call you (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | about 4 years ago | (#33960026)

Find out if you are going to be on the "A" ship, the "B" ship, or the "C" ship.

Beaming energy (1)

bytesex (112972) | about 4 years ago | (#33960060)

To beam energy to a vessel, you have to cross the atmosphere. Methinks you're not just going to only heat up the vessel.

Re:Beaming energy (1)

RecycledElectrons (695206) | about 4 years ago | (#33960172)

> To beam energy to a vessel, you have to cross the atmosphere. Methinks
> you're not just going to only heat up the vessel.

The current shuttle burns propellant and thereby heats the atmosphere.

All rocket propellants come out at high temperatures, and heat the atmosphere.

Even just sitting somewhere heats the atmosphere by your body heat!

So of course anything we do will heat the atmosphere a little, but even if the system is 5% efficient, it's going to (1) be cheaper (2) prove more useful, and (3) cause less atmospheric heating than anything we have at the moment.

How much? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 4 years ago | (#33960096)

$1,100,000 is hardly enough money to get the stationery and logos printed up. It hardly constitutes the "funding" of a program.

I think it's sad how the US government can print up trillions of dollars to reward select banks and companies like GM by taking away the consequences of screwing up, and yet they keep NASA worse than starving by giving them these paltry amounts. Either shut it down, or fund it properly. These halfway measures are just an utter waste of money.

people one way to Mars and I told him $10 billion (0, Troll)

oliverthered (187439) | about 4 years ago | (#33960122)

Cost of sending people 1 way to Afghanistan or Iraq.


Mars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33960134)

We're spending more than 10 bil to send all sorts of people on a one way trip to Afghanistan to "negotiate" mineral rights. The terrain there is very similar to Mars.

Ray (1)

callmebill (1917294) | about 4 years ago | (#33960154)

My enthusiasm for the contents of the article waned when I read "Kurzweil" in the URL. More often than not, claims made when he or his name are within glancing distance always seem more ridiculous than they would be otherwise.

You have 100 years? (3, Informative)

rcastro0 (241450) | about 4 years ago | (#33960272)

Turning US$ 2 Billion into US$ 100 Billion in 100 years is no big deal. One just needs a 4% return above inflation. That is trivial for a good asset manager with a long term outlook.

In fact, make it into the "120 year starship program" and we will have US$ 220 Billion to play (don't you love compound interest rates?).

Wooooooo (0)

eyenot (102141) | about 4 years ago | (#33960326)

Wow, yeah, hell let's just get stoned, come up with crazy halfbaked dreams and get grant monies! One million dollars, this guy's so fucking delusional he probably thinks he just got elected Shadow President by the Secret Chiefs of the Universe. Fucking MORON.

Star Trek is now the model for our space program? (1)

digitaldc (879047) | about 4 years ago | (#33960394)

“Anybody that watches the [Star Trek] Enterprise, you know you don’t see huge plumes of fire. Within a few years we will see the first true prototype of a spaceship that will take us between worlds.”

So we are to assume that Gene Roddenberry had more insight on space travel and engineering than actual NASA engineers? :)

Re:Star Trek is now the model for our space progra (2, Insightful)

rakuen (1230808) | about 4 years ago | (#33960676)

Well, he came up with concepts, and not really the science behind it. What's happened is the scientific community sees these kinds of things, and thinks, "Hey, we can make that!" Then they try to develop the science, and they're succeeding at a reasonible pace. I'd actually argue that starting with the design in mind makes the process easier, because then you already know the end result you're trying to reach.

So, tell me again... (3, Insightful)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about 4 years ago | (#33960426)

...what the point of getting humans to Mars is? It's not science. We have robots and will soon have better robots. It's not resources. There's nothing *there* worth bringing back from a distant gravity well. If we're going that far out, why not just do a mining survey of the asteroid belts and find out which ones might be heading our way at the same time.

Sounds like NASA doing what it does best. Avoiding practical real world missions at all costs. Guess why people want to cut their budgets?

Waste of Time? (2, Insightful)

Plekto (1018050) | about 4 years ago | (#33960486)

Isn't this just a wish-list by NASA considering the current lack of any way to actually implement it given how Congress seems to mess things up and change their mind every term?

Until we fix this problem, we're going nowhere. We need to lock in funding and missions for a few decades instead of a a couple of years at a time. Having a bunch of idiots in Congress who know nothing about science and engineering changing the game plan more often than we change Presidents is just crazy.

The Scotty Method (1)

rakuen (1230808) | about 4 years ago | (#33960694)

No no no, NASA, you've got it all wrong! You're supposed to ask for less funds than you need! Then when you do pull off your mission to Mars, you look like miracle workers!

There is no way anyone would volunteer (3, Funny)

dmomo (256005) | about 4 years ago | (#33960702)

If the maximum distance from the Earth to Mars is 401.3 million km, then the statuses that they read on Facebook or Twitter will be no newer than 22 minutes. This does not include the initial HTTP request.

With the time and money that NASA puts into researching issues as minor as "how are astronauts supposed to poop in space without gravity", I'm sure that this "gotcha" has not been overlooked.

If they are still considering investing in sending someone to Mars knowing full well about this hang-up, It is reasonable to conclude that somewhere, someone, has successfully developed an ansible, and that they are keeping this technology from us.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?