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NASA Wants Spacecraft For Mars Return Trip

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the oh-a-mockup's-fine-actually dept.

Mars 193

coondoggie writes "If we ever do get to Mars, getting home might prove to be as difficult. NASA today selected three companies — Alliant Techsystems, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman — to being the task of defining the spacecraft that will leave Mars, presumably at first loaded with red planet rock samples, then later possibly humans — for a safe trip back to Earth. The engineering challenges those three companies face are immense."

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We better not get double billed (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35325252)

We don't pay for any bids that specify the same ship design be used for the return as was used during the departure.

Re:We better not get double billed (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#35327036)

It can't be. For one thing, you've used up almost all of your mass as fuel by the time you land at Mars.
Then there's the pesky little detail that most people ignore, that Mars isn't a sister planet to Earth, but a tiny little ball that has more in common with Mercury and large moons than with Earth and Venus. You only need a tiny fraction of the boost to lift of from Mars compared to Earth.

If I were to design it (2, Insightful)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325268)

I'd design it so it had just enough thrust to get back in Mars Orbit. Then I'd send a 2nd craft from Earth to ferry it back. I figure there is a lot of problems that could be solved by reducing that added fuel weight from it.

Re:If I were to design it (2)

BisexualPuppy (914772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325422)

I'd design it so it had just enough thrust to get back in Mars Orbit. Then I'd send a 2nd craft from Earth to ferry it back. I figure there is a lot of problems that could be solved by reducing that added fuel weight from it. So, roughtly counting : 1.1/ Get spacecraft1 outside Earth gravity field 1.2/ Go to Mars. 1.3/ Descend. 1.4/ Go back to mars orbit. 2.1/ Get spacecraft2 oustide Earth gravity field 2.2/ Go to Mars and Get payload of spacecraft1 2.3/ Go to Earth 2.4/ Descend Not counting the fact you are doubling the technical staff needed, you'll need to escape Earth attraction 2 times, Mars's 1 time, you'll have to make the trip 2 times, and descend to earth or mars 2 times. This seems a bit overenginnered to me. What about : 1.1/ Get spacecraft1 outside Earth gravity field 1.2/ Get to Mars 1.3/ Descent 1.4/ Get outside Mars gravity field 1.5/ Get to Earth 1.6 Descent That's 2 escapes, 2 trips, 2 descents, 1 spacecraft, 1 staff. The spacecraft will certainly be bigger, heavier, more complicated, but that's nothing side by side with your proposition, to me.

Re:If I were to design it (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325578)

The <br> tag inserts a line break. You're welcome.

Re:If I were to design it (1)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325722)

Why bother making the trip twice? The same ship that carries everything to mars can be used as a fueling depot in mars orbit for the lander to return to earth.

Re:If I were to design it (1)

skywatcher2501 (1608209) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325814)

It may be cheaper to send the first part, see if it successfully gets back into Mars orbit after its surface mission. In case something goes wrong, they don't have to send the return stage. But yeah I don't really have numbers to back that up.

Re:If I were to design it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35326612)

So it would just wait in orbit of Mars for the several months or so it would take the return vehicle to get to Mars (if, as you suggest, we wait until the lander makes it back to orbit OK)?

Re:If I were to design it (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325958)

Essentially it may end up being a six stage rocket we are talking about.

For a human transport I think that the following concept is what's needed.

Stage 1 & 2 are to leave Earth.
Stage 3 is for the transit phase to Mars.
Stage 4 is for the return trip.
Stage 5 is for landing.
Stage 6 is for departure from Mars to Mars orbit.

At arrival at Mars Stage 3 is discarded, Stage 4 left in orbit and Stage 5&6 are landed, at launch Stage 5 will be used as launch pad for Stage 6. However Stage 3 could still be useful by being placed in an orbital position that's 180 degrees from the Stage 4, in which case it may be an extra relay satellite for communications.

If Stage 5 is correctly designed the fuel tanks may be emptied from remaining fuel and changed to be used as extra space for living and other activities. Stage 5 may also be carrying extra oxygen and water that can be left behind when the return trip is initiated.

A sub-variant is to actually build the mars craft in orbit. This will allow for lighter versions of the Stages 3 and 4 because they won't need to take the load of the upper stages during launch and can be launched to orbit fully fueled. It will also make the event less risky. In this case stages 3 and 4 can be built of multiple smaller components assembled in space. And the weight will also be lower since 3 & 4 won't need to be aerodynamic.

And assembling the craft in space will make it easier to find carrying capacity to earth orbit. A vessel that is to be launched fully assembled from Earth would dwarf the Saturn V rocket.

For a robotic excursion with a return trip there won't be any need for life support, but the return vessel will in that case carry a load of rocks and sand samples.

At arrival at earth Stage 4 needs to take care of braking the return vessel. If done right some acceleration and braking could be done using the Moon.

Re:If I were to design it (1)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326196)

Yeah this is very similar to what I was picturing.

No matter how you slice it, I think, a round trip to mars would be the largest/longest/most expensive/most complicated/quintessentially fantastic trip in human history.
Yet i'm 27 and afraid I may not live to see it.

Re:If I were to design it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35326558)

Congratulations, you just re-invented Apollo!

Re:If I were to design it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35326590)

Apart from using the fuel tank for living or storage which wouldn't work since it would still be a toxic environment even after the fuel is emptied... Cool story bro

Re:If I were to design it (1)

ckeo (220727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326782)

Toxic ? hydrogen and oxygen ? Toxic ?
put oxy in the hydrogen and hydrogen in the oxy and create water :\
no moar Toxic.

Re:If I were to design it (1)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326122)

The problem is (if I understand the orbital mechanics right; IANARS) that the launch window for getting to mars, or back, is rather small and occurs but rarely. If you send a rocket TO mars, it won't immediately come back, because the window to START travelling is shorter than the time it takes to get there.

Additionally, the fuel needed in transit is actually much less than the fuel needed to get into and out of those kind of orbits--because space has no force opposing inertia. Getting a load from the surface of mars up to the speed of an incoming orbital rocket (in order to match orbits and dock) is pretty much the same fuel it would take to send it home on its own, and if you decelerate the incoming rocket, you not only have to accelerate the load from the surface, but now the rest of the rocket again too.

Now, if you were talking about sending people back and forth, getting a few people up to orbital speed is different from getting those people plus food, water, and living quarters, but again, that rocket would have to sit in orbit until the next window anyway, so it'd be better to send both rockets at the same time rather than have it arrive and sit uselessly in orbit, or possibly to just make one large rocket, which is the primary model as-is.

Re:If I were to design it (1)

TamCaP (900777) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326350)

I think the launch window depends directly on the amount of fuel (or if you prefer, m/s) you are willing to spend. I would think (yet, also, IANARS) that the more m/s you are willing to spend (thus the more fuel you are willing to move to orbit from Earth) the larger your launch windows would be.
And yes. Despite much smaller gravity well that Mars has, I guess it makes more sense to leave fuel for return trip in orbit than to take it to Mars surface. This way, if something goes wrong with the lander, you have a relatively "free" fuel depot in orbit for the next mission. In general, our space projects should be done as modular and with as much reuse of components as possible.

Re:If I were to design it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35326342)

That is exactly what's planned. Shoot the sample into orbit. Pick it up and bring it home

WTF (1, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325272)

planning is fine but we have no realistic way to even get there let alone getting bulk material there

this is like buying tires for a car you may not even buy sometime in the future, way to pork out some contractors licenses NASA

Re:WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35325404)

planning is fine but we have no realistic way to even get there let alone getting bulk material there

this is like buying tires for a car you may not even buy sometime in the future, way to pork out some contractors licenses NASA

I'd guess someone would have posted the same on Slashdot if it existed when they started building the Apollo LM.

Re:WTF (2)

inventorM (1872970) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325498)

Haven't you heard of what SpaceX has been doing? They already have contracts to send probes to the Moon, as well as launching satellites into Earth orbit.

Re:WTF (3, Interesting)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325552)

Huh?

We have ways to get to Mars just fine. An Atlas V 541 is enough to get the massive MSL Curiosity Rover there, and a measly Atlas V 401 is plenty for the Maven orbiter coming after that.

The hard part is getting back. I imagine grabbing resources from the surface and air to create rocket fuel while performing its mission will be the right way to go.

A Mars Sample Return is where the Mars program is headed, and we have a roadmap to get there. And it will force the development of In-Situ Resource Development (ISRU), while will be of huge benefit to all future manned and unmanned programs.

Re:WTF (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325708)

No the hard part is setting up the equipment to make an easier return trip.

You use one really heavy lift vehicle to send the return rocket to orbit. if you send humans you need to send two or three so you have spares.

Re:WTF (1)

dwywit (1109409) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326428)

What about sending a robot fuel tanker a little earlier? Even a previous launch window - send tanker, it lands on Mars, then send the manned mission. It refuels on Mars for the journey home - or am I being to simplistic?

Re:WTF (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325998)

Getting back is easy - Just grab the bungee cord and hang on!

Re:WTF (0)

Frangible (881728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326208)

It's not terribly different than going to the moon, which we've already done, and which the Russians have already done with a robotic probe returning lunar samples. Once you get going in space, it's not like there's a lot of friction, now is it?

Mars' gravity will require more fuel than a moon trip for deceleration / liftoff, and the vectors involved will require more still, but it's hardly impossible.

Your post makes Sergei Korolev and Wernher von Braun cry.

Re:WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35326388)

Yes it is different. Mars has more gravity, so it requires more fuel - but that fuel weighs a lot, so that requires even more fuel to lift that extra fuel - so the launch problem snowballs as gravity increases. Think about how difficult it is to launch into orbit from Earth - it requires muttistage rockets. Fortunately Mars isn't as big as the Earth, but it is much bigger than the moon.

You mean the astronauts are returning? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35325280)

I thought we sent those Jersey Shore kids one-way tickets...

One Way (3, Interesting)

Monty845 (739787) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325302)

Who needs to come back. We should send a one way craft, there would be countless volunteers even if it was clear that they are never coming home. Once there, you could start working to establish a sustainable off planet colony... Would also make getting there a lot cheaper.

Re:One Way (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35325528)

Who even has the money to pay for a Mars boondoggle, one-way or not?

Where's the payback for the billions of dollars this will require? A new flavor of Tang? Another cool pen that writes upside down? Seriously, where is the cost-benefit analysis, who can possibly show that the price is justifiable to the taxpayer?

We, along with Russia, simply do not have the money for such a frivolous project, even if the technical hurdles were surmountable. This is just another NASA pipe dream, stoked by science fiction and movie lore. Every dollar spent pursuing this project is a dollar flushed straight down the toilet (or, as some would say, graft for the contractors like Lockheed and Grumman who get the $ and don't have to produce anything tangible)

Re:One Way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35325588)

Well said, sir. I wish I had some mod points.

So.... (2)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325738)

...all the tens of thousands of people that would be employed to make this happen... I guess none of they money spent by them would go back into the country? They would spend it all offshore right? Riiiiiight...

Re:One Way (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35325774)

The potential payoff is acquiring an entire planets worth of resources. Calculate that into your risk analysis.

It actually goes farther than that. If we developed the technology for a mars trip it makes exploiting NEO's and the asteroid belt trivial.

Every single generation will be able to say the same thing as you. Technology does not magically invent itself. There is no time like now to start working towards the ultimate goal of our species.

Re:One Way (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325826)

The potential payoff is acquiring an entire planets worth of resources.

What resources exist on Mars that would justify the cost of bringing them back to Earth?

So long as a trip between Mars and Earth costs millions of dollars a kilo, we're extremely unlikely to find anything that has enough value to justify the cost.

Re:One Way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35325948)

There is no need to ship anything -- the resources will have value for people who are on Mars. You need to think of the two places as being equal, not as one serving the interests of the other.

Re:One Way (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326018)

There is no need to ship anything -- the resources will have value for people who are on Mars.

What 'people who are on Mars'?

Re:One Way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35326412)

The one-way volunteers, or people from the sustainable off planet colony. See the first post of the thread.

Re:One Way (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326716)

The one-way volunteers, or people from the sustainable off planet colony. See the first post of the thread.

The post I was replying to was talking about 'acquiring another planet's resources'. What value do those resources have to the people on Earth who are apparently going to pay for these 'volunteers' to go there?

You can't use Mars resources to justify the cost of going to Mars if the only use for those resources is to sustain those people who are going to Mars.

Re:One Way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35326904)

Alright, if you really need an economic reason for everything... The resources will be used to sustain the people on Mars. Mars will have universities and research centers. Those research centers could make important discoveries like a cure to cancer or a way to do cold fusion. That knowledge can be transmitted back to Earth and its value can exceed the original cost of going to Mars.

Re:One Way (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325788)

True, we don't have the money.
We should leave Mars exploration and colonization to China.

Re:One Way (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326012)

Actually, every dollar spent is cycled back into the economy, very effectively in fact during a high unemployment period. Moreover, we get to go to Mars in the end!

Re:One Way (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326178)

Who even has the money to pay for a Mars boondoggle, one-way or not?

Where's the payback for the billions of dollars this will require? A new flavor of Tang? Another cool pen that writes upside down? Seriously, where is the cost-benefit analysis, who can possibly show that the price is justifiable to the taxpayer?

We, along with Russia, simply do not have the money for such a frivolous project, even if the technical hurdles were surmountable. This is just another NASA pipe dream, stoked by science fiction and movie lore. Every dollar spent pursuing this project is a dollar flushed straight down the toilet (or, as some would say, graft for the contractors like Lockheed and Grumman who get the $ and don't have to produce anything tangible)

Too many people have forgotten that landing a man on the moon was not driven by science, it was driven by politics -- specifically the fear of the Soviet Union. The Russians put the first man in space and the US was afraid that if the Soviet Union got to the moon it would somehow give them some sort of military advantage. With that (stupid) fear out of the way, we can now see that sending people to the moon or Mars is a pointless waste of money.

Re:One Way (1)

bazorg (911295) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326224)

We, along with Russia, simply do not have the money for such a frivolous project,

well print some more then.

Re:One Way (1)

Frangible (881728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326278)

Yeah, you teabaggers really need to take a fucking macroeconomics course. Bunch of ignorant, cheap, un-American, social-security sucking parasites. Keynesian economics... look into it.

Keynesian economics dictate that direct government spending is the most efficient economic stimulus, followed closely by tax cuts. Even if you think such a project is a waste of money, it isn't -- the hiring of American engineers, American workers, American astronauts etc ultimately returns *more* tax dollars to the government than the program costs. Period. That's basic macroeconomics 101, if you don't understand that, there's the door, GTFO.

The Space Shuttle program alone employs 25,000 people *directly*. That's government workers, in addition to the thousands of other contractors and businesses it benefits. And these are skilled labor positions -- engineering and science, that improve America's technological leadership and education.

If you think the government spending $0 on everything is great idea, go build your undersea city with Andrew Ryan already. Because the only thing that's actually going to do is create further deficit by decreasing tax revenues more than the expense of the programs.

Re:One Way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35326458)

There are much better uses of the money, on projects that are much more likely to succeed and to have wildly better payback...like alternative energy research, medical research, etc. If you're going to spend a trillion dollars, it's not out of line for taxpayers to demand it be spent on something that's more than just a sci-fi geek's ejaculatory wish list.

Re:One Way (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326712)

Keynesian economics dictate that direct government spending is the most efficient economic stimulus, followed closely by tax cuts.

What does reality "dictate"? That's what counts. For example, Japan has been pursuing hardcore Keynesian stimulus plans for the last twenty years. Hasn't helped them.

The Space Shuttle program alone employs 25,000 people *directly*.

That's a variation of the broken window fallacy. If we didn't have those people working on the Shuttle, they'd be working on something productive instead. End result is that US society misses out on the value of their labor.

Re:One Way (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325790)

Personally, I would be much more interested in a sample return mission than a Mars colony.

The amount of materials you need to send over to establish a viable colony are also staggering. A small sample return mission is probably simpler.

Re:One Way (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35326066)

Why are you interested in a sample return mission? If it's to do scientific analysis on the rock, then it's cheaper to send robotic equipment to Mars and do the analysis there.

Re:One Way (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326758)

If it's to do scientific analysis on the rock, then it's cheaper to send robotic equipment to Mars and do the analysis there.

In the real world, scientific analysis isn't done by a few instruments like a tricorder. You don't wave the box and science comes out. Real scientific instruments often have some flexibility, but in the end, they are all limited in what they can do. A space probe to another world can only do a few things.

But OTOH, if you bring those samples to Earth, then you can bring to bear the entire power of human science, the massive infrastructure that can do more with a sample from Mars than a lifetime of probes could do to that sample on Mars.

Re:One Way (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35327258)

To send an instrument to mars you have to make your instruments tough enough to survive going to mars and have a VERY high chance of working. That means they will likely be a long way from state of the art at the time the mission is planned and even further behind by the time they actually make it to mars. Then a few years later when you want readings from newer better equipment you have to start from scratch.

With a sample return mission you can analyse with the latest equipment and provided you bring back a sufficiant quantity you can keep analysing for many years with new equipment.

Re:One Way (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325960)

Agreed. There are a lot of volunteers. I don't believe anyone on the Mayflower expected to return to England.

Re:One Way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35326182)

How the hell will they eat, live, over even breathe? Seriously, this isn't like riding the Mayflower. Instead we'll just watch them asphyxiate when their O2 runs out. Yeah, a real milestone for humankind. Killing people on a different planet.

Oh, Im sure you have quite a list of improbable yet to be invented yet alone be economically feasible technology that will somehow terraform Mars enough for them to get by.

Re:One Way (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326800)

Instead we'll just watch them asphyxiate when their O2 runs out.

Why would their O2 run out? The Martian atmosphere has a lot of carbon dioxide in it. You can pull oxygen from that. And the tools that can do that, often produce human-edible food in the process. You know what terraforming they need to do? Build some stuff such as airtight living quarters, greenhouse, etc.

Re:One Way (1)

Frangible (881728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326230)

Valentina Tereshkova (first woman in space) said recently she'd be happy to volunteer for a one-way trip to Mars. I'm sure you could find other veteran astronauts and cosmonauts who feel the same. I think it's a bit ghoulish, personally... the Russian scientists who sent Laika up on a one-way trip (first animal / dog in space) regretted it. I think we'd owe it to the astronauts and/or cosmonauts to at least *attempt* to bring them home safely.

Re:One Way (1)

Laser Lou (230648) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326542)

Well, we can better analyze the samples they collect back on earth. Also, travelling the Mars will be hard on the astronauts, and the experience they gain would be invaluable for future missions.

and... (1)

Starteck81 (917280) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325322)

... and a pony. It's not going to happen until the economy picks up considerably or we get into a space race with China to see who can get there(and back) first.

Pale red dot (3, Interesting)

Palmsie (1550787) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325348)

"There does not seem to be sufficient short-term profit to motivate private industry. If we humans ever go to these worlds, then, it will be because a nation or a consortium of them believes it to be to its advantage" -Sagan

Re:Pale red dot (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325640)

"There does not seem to be sufficient short-term profit to motivate private industry. If we humans ever go to these worlds, then, it will be because a nation or a consortium of them believes it to be to its advantage" -Sagan

No, it will be because the cost of getting there has dropped into a range that rich tourists can afford. Otherwise there's no particularly good reason to go to Mars when all the resources we need to live in space are floating around waiting for us in asteroids and comets.

Re:Pale red dot (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325838)

Well, part of the cost is the *time* involved. It's doubtful a Mars tourist trip would be feasible in even a dozen generation's time.
A spinning roulette wheel orbital casino a la Cowboy Bebob would be the best bet. It'd be faster and easier to get to as well as generate artificial gravity, making it easier to keep hold of your cards and chips, and having sex with space hookers... sex in zero-g is not sexy at all.

Re:Pale red dot (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326094)

Well, part of the cost is the *time* involved. It's doubtful a Mars tourist trip would be feasible in even a dozen generation's time.

Bill Gates could probably afford it today if he was willing to take significant risks; NASA might need a trillion dollars to fly to Mars and back, but a private company could do it for much less. Falcon-9 is supposed to cost about $100,000,000 to put 32 tons into LEO, so you could launch a thousand ton spacecraft (most of which would be fuel) for about $3 billion... even if that ship costs $10 billion itself, that totals less than a quarter of what Gates is reportedly worth. And while 'the richest few people on the planet' is a small market for a tour company, over time that technology is only going to get cheaper.

I agree it would be more popular in a ship full of space hookers though.

P.S. The new slashdot with its random line breaks really sucks.

Re:Pale red dot (1)

Frangible (881728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326354)

Yeah, but is that technology going to get cheaper? The fundamentals of rocket science haven't changed since the days of Sergei Korolev and Wernher von Braun. There's no Moore's law in effect here.

Sure, they can buy seats on the Soyuz, which has been around forever and always been very economically efficient... or SpaceShipOne/Two which are X-15 / X-20 ripoffs (which are Me-263 and some German rocket bomber ripoffs...) anyway, the X-15 / X-20 were always relatively cheap, it's just that the rocket plane B52-launched design isn't capable of enough altitude to do anything practical except serve as a vomit comet. None of the cost structures of these things has significantly changed over time.

There's some economy of scale, but it's mostly in R&D expense, not anything that any volume of space tourists is going to effect.

Barring some major technological advancement, I don't see how space exploration can do anything but remain the purview of nation-states and alliances.

Re:Pale red dot (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326664)

Yeah, but is that technology going to get cheaper? The fundamentals of rocket science haven't changed since the days of Sergei Korolev and Wernher von Braun. There's no Moore's law in effect here.

The fundamentals of flight haven't changed since the Wright Brothers and the cost of the aircraft has increased, but the cost of travel is much lower.

To give an obvious example of where improvements will come from, the Falcon rockets are designed to be reusable; there's little point doing that if you fly twice a year, but there's a lot of point if you fly a thousand per year. Few people would be able to afford to fly across the Atlantic if the airliner could only make one trip.

Similarly, having to launch a thousand ton spacecraft for every trip to Mars is extremely inefficient compared to launching something small that docks with an Earth/Mars cycler full of space hookers. But again only makes sense if you're using it a lot.

Fundamentally the reason why space travel is so expensive is that we don't do it much, and the reason why we don't do it much is because it's so expensive. Somehow we need to break out of that trap.

Re:Pale red dot (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326892)

Yeah, but is that technology going to get cheaper?

Sure, launch frequency is the great, big, unexploited economy of scale. Any currently operating space vehicle would be much cheaper per launch, if you doubled the number of launches.

Cost of manufacture has dropped significantly over the decades too.

Get your ass to Mars, the series (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35325398)

NASA launches a new reality series where three rednecks try to build a ship to go to Mars out of an old cement mixer and a surplus Russian boaster rocket. In the final episode we find out why mixing a 1,000 gallons of peroxide, liquid oxygen and AMPHO together is a bad idea.

Re:Get your ass to Mars, the series (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35325724)

Great. Now I can't get Andy Griffith out of my head. Thanks.

What challenge? (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325408)

Just put some rockets on the space station and fly it out there with some probes that can lift off

Re:What challenge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35325472)

oh hell, why didn't anyone think of that?
LOL
It's not that easy, bro... that only works on video games.

Challenges (5, Insightful)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325414)

"The engineering challenges those three companies face are immense"

The bureaucratic challenges will be even more so.

Big companies will design an expensive approach (4, Insightful)

cjonslashdot (904508) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325424)

These big contractors will never come up with an efficient solution. It is against their interests. They will design some very capital intensive approach. Then they will bid on the contracts to build it.

It will take a startup company to come up with a innovative and viable approach.

Re:Big companies will design an expensive approach (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325508)

They will design some very capital intensive approach.

So their calculations was done by HARLIE [wikipedia.org]

(You will probably only get the reference if you read the book)

Re:Big companies will design an expensive approach (2)

cjonslashdot (904508) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325628)

I am curious. Can you explain? Thanks!!

Re:Big companies will design an expensive approach (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325940)

Serious spoiler:

  If you intend to read the book, do not read on.

Serious. Don't read on.

HARLIE is a computer which must prove his own reason to exist. In doing so he creates an even bigger computer (Called the G.O.D. computer) that will answer all questions. However this computer will be so big and complex, it will need HARLIE to build it AND to operate it. So just as the companies that will invent a reason to justify their existence, so does HARLIE.

Re:Big companies will design an expensive approach (1)

Late Adopter (1492849) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326150)

It's in their interest to come up with a solution that could feasibly be purchased. Too cheap and not enough profit, but too expensive and Congress doesn't pay for it.

Re:Big companies will design an expensive approach (1)

cjonslashdot (904508) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326204)

Yes. The sweet spot is the most that Congress will possibly fund.

Re:Big companies will design an expensive approach (1)

Frangible (881728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326422)

A small start-up company hardly changes the fact that rocketry is very expensive, and going to other planets and returning is crazy complex. There's no cheap way to do it. The "big contractors" actually have skilled scientists, engineers, and experience... and bid against each other to win the contract. No one is stopping little venture capital dot-com start-ups from trying to compete in this process. It's just that rocket science is... well, rocket science. It's a lot different from programming a hit website and making an IPO.

Immense?! (1)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325456)

To paraphrase - "I think you underestimate their chances".

From an engineering standpoint, the challenges are similar to the Apollo moon missions.

What's new is size and weight for the extra storage capacity needed for fuel, food, oxygen, etc; and space for the extra living quarters.

In fact, I'd say you could do it with 3 launches from Earth to put up a propulsion module, living quarters module (the "RV" section and the mars lander module.

Assemble them in orbit like the Apollo missions did, go to Mars, drop the lander, return to Earth, jettison the RV and the propulsion module and splash down for landing.

Granted there are other, new challenges, but we've got probably 3/4 of the challenges already solved.

Well... except for the fact that we don't HAVE the heavy lift tech anymore...

Re:Immense?! (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325626)

Well... except for the fact that we don't HAVE the heavy lift tech anymore...

Heavy lift is a crazy boondoggle; there's very little market for it and as a consequence it ends up far more expensive than using multiple smaller launchers.

The way to reduce costs is to increase flight rates so that reusability becomes worthwhile and viable, not to stick everything on top of a huge rocket that flies twice a year, costs billions of dollars every time, and destroys your entire multi-billion dollar spacecraft if it fails. That's particularly true for fuel, where you don't much care whether you're launching a hundred tons in one go or ten tons a time in ten flights.

Re:Immense?! (1)

Frangible (881728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326400)

Heavy lift is a crazy boondoggle

Yeah, that Wernher von Braun... always concerned with profits and personally designing boondoggle after boondoggle.

The way to reduce costs is to increase flight rates so that reusability becomes worthwhile and viable, not to stick everything on top of a huge rocket that flies twice a year, costs billions of dollars every time, and destroys your entire multi-billion dollar spacecraft if it fails.

We had something like that, and it's going to cease to exist in June. It could carry quite a bit of cargo, but not enough for a lunar or martian mission. You're also going to leave stuff behind that's not reusable on any type of super-long distance space trip; "reusable" only really applies to stuff within Earth's atmosphere. You need big freaking rockets to get to Mars and back, and that's all there really is to it... throwing away your escape velocity is very inefficient, and you have to keep momentum going to slingshot.

Re:Immense?! (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326692)

Yeah, that Wernher von Braun... always concerned with profits and personally designing boondoggle after boondoggle.

Indeed. A large part of the problem with manned spaceflight is that people continue to follow von Braun's dreams even though experience has shown that he was wrong.

We had something like that, and it's going to cease to exist in June. It could carry quite a bit of cargo, but not enough for a lunar or martian mission.

The shuttle was at best refurbishable and required huge amounts of labour and lots of new hardware for each flight. Falcon 9 Heavy should cost about a tenth of the price of a shuttle launch while carrying the same payload, and that's even before they start recovering the stages for refurbishment.

Re:Immense?! (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325734)

Mars also has a thin atmosphere, which creates some unique challenges. A rocket assisted landing is fairly easy in a vacuum, but a lot harder while flying supersonic through the atmosphere. On the other hand, the atmosphere is too thin for aerobraking with a heat shield or parachutes.

What makes it even harder is that Mars is the only place to practice.

Re:Immense?! (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325806)

On the other hand, the atmosphere is too thin for aerobraking with a heat shield or parachutes.

That'll be news to the probes that have landed there using aerobraking and parachutes.

Ok, they needed either rockets or inflatable balloons for the final touchdown, but most of the braking was performed by the atmosphere. Similarly, you can use the atmosphere to perform much of the braking required to get into orbit, which further reduces fuel requirements.

Re:Immense?! (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325852)

That'll be news to the probes that have landed there using aerobraking and parachutes

Those were all very small and light, and able to withstand the considerable forces of surface impact. This method does not scale up to the size and mass required for a return rocket.

Please see the Case for Mars... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35325462)

...Robert Zubrin 1996 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Case_for_Mars for a decent affordable, credible, realistic and possible plan.
Then, if anyone reading this knows Elon Musk, please send him a copy.

Re:Please see the Case for Mars... (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325682)

I'm pretty sure Elon knows Zubrin. Its really a quite small community, and I've been to conferences where they are both there. And I'm pretty sure they agree on a lot of things, including the desire to extend a human presence to that planet.

I'm not sure what you're getting at.

betting that there's a planet left to return to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35325474)

& whether or not the population will be surviving/thriving, or gone extinct due to excessive weaponization, selfishness etc...? believe it or not, a lot rests on our current decisions regarding our regard towards our fellow humans, as opposed to our worship of failed systems/fairytails. everything made by man fails. do the math. there remains a deal shattering component to the equation as yet not presented. our notion is that it has something to do with how we're either neglecting, or murdering many of the creators' innocents, which throws the whole recipe into a tailspin. see you on the other side of it? we'll walk there, thanks. we'd rather run out of time than witness what could happen if we fail each other now.

we need a way to make fuel on mars better to plan (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325510)

we need a way to make fuel on mars better to plan for a one way or very long term trip to Mars and maybe just a shouter term cargo only return.

Re:we need a way to make fuel on mars better to pl (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325764)

Send some unmanned cargo & fuel-only runs out to Mars orbit to refuel the manned mission for the return trip. The problem is not the technology, it's the political will to fund it. When politicians are in charge of your budget, you wind up with decisions made by cowards.

I know how do do it! (1)

Wingsy (761354) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325856)

Why do we need a super heavy-lift vehicle to get there? Can't we put the pieces one-by-one into low earth orbit, then bolt em together and head off to Mars? And why are they thinking about landing a heavy ascent vehicle on the surface, all loaded with fuel? (80% of the ascent vehicle will need to be fuel) Why not land a few cans of gas on Mars so the astronauts can fuel up the ascent vehicle prior to liftoff? Would drastically cut the weight of the descent vehicle. And since I'm designing this Mars mission, I've got a solution to the long duration weightless problem. The transport vehicle is designed to come apart in the middle. After the main engine burn to get em on their way, they snap it apart, and tie a rope around the 2 pieces. Then start them orbiting each other. Presto, there's your gravity. Maintaining antenna alignment back to earth would be a bitch, so they have another small spacecraft with the radio dish that flies along nearby that's used as a repeater.

Re:I know how do do it! (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#35327008)

Why even send the fuel? Build it from the environment once you get there. A phased array antenna could avoid the need for a de-spun bus on the vehicle as well.

Of course, the really hard technical part (not to diminish the political and psychological challenges) is the landing on the surface. There is no 'best practice' for Mars EDL (Entry/Descent/Landing), and landing something big enough to hold people is very much an open problem.

slingshot effect. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35325972)

they ll probably end up using Mars orbital rotation start the ship and thrusters to break free as well as directionality.

Getting ahead of themselves (4, Interesting)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326146)

Before they start working on how to get OFF of Mars they need to figure out how to get ON Mars. A couple of years ago I found this article (sorry, lost the original link).

Getting Large Payloads to the Surface of Mars
by Nancy Atkinson
July 17th, 2007

Some proponents of human missions to Mars say we have the technology today to send people to the Red Planet. But do we? Rob Manning of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory discusses the intricacies of entry, descent and landing and what needs to be done to make humans on Mars a reality.

There’s no comfort in the statistics for missions to Mars. To date over 60% of the missions have failed. Even among those who have devoted their careers to the task, mention sending a human mission to land on the Red Planet, with payloads several factors larger than an unmanned spacecraft, and the trepidation grows even larger.

Why? Nobody knows how to do it.

Surprised? Most people are, says Rob Manning the Chief Engineer for the Mars Exploration Directorate and presently the only person who has led teams to land three robotic spacecraft successfully on the surface of Mars. "It turns out that most people aren’t aware of this problem and very few have worried about the details of how you get something very heavy safely to the surface of Mars," said Manning.

He believes many people immediately come to the conclusion that landing humans on Mars should be easy. After all, humans have landed successfully on the Moon and we can land our human-carrying vehicles from space to Earth. And since Mars falls between the Earth and the Moon in size and atmosphere, it should be easy. "There’s the mindset that we should just be able to connect the dots in between," said Manning.

The real problem is the combination of Mars’ atmosphere and the size of spacecraft needed for human missions. While the Apollo lunar lander weighed approximately 10 metric tons, a human mission to Mars will require three to six times that mass, given the restraints of staying on the planet for a year. Landing a payload that heavy on Mars is currently impossible, using our existing capabilities. "It’s this ugly, grey zone", said Manning, "There’s too much atmosphere on Mars to land heavy vehicles like we do on the moon, using propulsive technology and there’s too little atmosphere to land like we do on Earth. Until we come up with a whole new system, landing humans on Mars will be an ugly and scary proposition."

In 2004 NASA organized a Road Mapping session to discuss the current capabilities and future problems of landing humans on Mars. Manning co-chaired this event and the major conclusion that came from the session was that no one has yet figured out how to safely get large masses from speeds of entry and orbit down to the surface of Mars.

"We call it the Supersonic Transition Problem," said Manning. With our current capabilities, a large, heavy vehicle, streaking through Mars’ thin atmosphere only has about ninety seconds to slow from Mach 5 to under Mach 1, re-orient itself from a being a spacecraft to a lander, deploy parachutes to slow down further, then use thrusters to translate to the landing site and finally, gently touch down.

When this problem is first presented to people, the most offered solution, Manning says, is to use airbags, since they have been so successful for the missions that he has been involved with; the Pathfinder rover, Sojourner and the two Mars Exploration Rovers (MER), Spirit and Opportunity.

But engineers feel they have reached the capacity of airbags with MER. "It's not just the mass or the volume of the airbags, or the size of the airbags themselves, but it's the mass of the beast inside the airbags," Manning said. "This is about as big as we can take that particular design."

In addition, an airbag landing subjects the payload to forces between 10-20 G’s. While robots can withstand such force, humans can’t. This doesn’t mean airbags will never be used again, only that airbag landings can’t be used for something human or heavy.

"The great thing about Earth," said Manning "is the atmosphere." Returning to Earth and entering the atmosphere at speeds of 7-10 kilometers per second, vehicles will all decelerate to less than Mach 1 at about twenty kilometers above the ground just from the resistance of Earth’s atmosphere. To reach slower speeds needed for landing, either a parachute is deployed, or in the case of the space shuttle, drag and lift allow the remainder of the speed to bleed away.

But Mars’ atmosphere is only one per cent as dense as Earth’s. The air is so thin that a heavy vehicle will basically plummet to the surface; there’s not enough air resistance to slow it down sufficiently. Parachutes can only be opened at speeds less than Mach 2, and a heavy spacecraft on Mars would never go that slow just from the atmopheric resutance. "And there are no parachutes that you could use to slow this vehicle down," said Manning. "You can't land a heavy vehicle on Mars unless you don't mind it being a crater on the surface."

That’s not good news for the Vision for Space Exploration. Would a higher lift vehicle like the space shuttle save the day? "Well, on Mars, in order to get good deceleration and use the lift properly, you’d need to cut low into the atmosphere. You’d still be going at Mach 2 or 3 fairly close to the ground. You’d eventually slow down to under Mach 2 to open a parachute, but you’d be too close to the ground and even an ultra large supersonic parachute would not save you."

Supersonic parachute experts have concluded that to sufficiently slow a large shuttle-type vehicle on Mars and reach the ground at reasonable speeds would require a parachute one hundred meters in diameter. "That's huge," said Manning. "We believe there's no way to make a 100-meter parachute that can be opened safely supersonically, not to mention the time it takes to inflate something that large. You'd be on the ground before it was fully inflated. It would not be a good outcome."

Manning explained that with robotic spacecraft, 99% of the kinetic energy of an incoming vehicle is taken away using a heat shield in the atmosphere. "It’s not inconceivable that we can design larger, lighter heat shields," he said, "but the problem is that right now the heat shield diameter for a human-capable spacecraft overwhelms any possibility of launching that vehicle from Earth." Manning added that it would almost be better if Mars were like the moon, with no atmosphere at all.

If that were the case, an Apollo-type lunar lander with thrusters could be used. "But that would cause another problem," said Manning, "for every kilogram of stuff in orbit, it takes twice as much fuel to get to the surface of Mars as the moon. Everything is twice as bad since Mars is about twice as big as the moon." That would entail a large amount of fuel, perhaps over 6 times the payload mass in fuel, to get human-sized payloads to the surface, all of which would have to be brought along from Earth.

But using current thruster technology in Mars’ atmosphere poses aerodynamic problems. "Rocket plumes are notoriously unstable, dynamic, chaotic systems," said Manning. "Basically flying into the plume at supersonics speeds, the rocket plume is acting like a nose cone; a nose cone that's moving around in front of you against very high dynamic pressure. Even though the atmospheric density is very low, the forces are really huge because the velocity is so high."

Manning likened theses forces to a Category Five hurricane. This would cause extreme stress, with shaking and twisting that would likely destroy the vehicle. Therefore using propulsive technology alone is not an option.

Using thrusters in combination with a heat shield and parachute also poses challenges. Assuming the vehicle has used some technique to slow to under Mach 1, using propulsion just in last stages of descent to gradually adjust the lander’s trajectory would enable the vehicle to arrive very precisely at the desired landing site. "We’re looking at firing thrusters less than 1 kilometer above the ground. Your parachute has been discarded, and you see that you are perhaps 5 kilometers south of where you want to land," said Manning. "So now you need the ability to turn the vehicle over sideways to try to get to your landing spot. But this may be an expensive option, adding a large tax in fuel to get to the desired landing rendezvous point."

Additionally, on the moon, with no atmosphere or weather, there is nothing pushing against the vehicle, taking it off target, and the pilot can "fly out the uncertainties" as Manning called it, to reach a suitable or desired landing site. On Mars, however, the large variations in the density of the atmosphere coupled with high and unpredictable winds conspire to push vehicles off course. "We need to have ways to fight those forces or ways to make up for any mis-targeting using the propulsion system," said Manning. "Right now, we don’t have that ability and we’re a long way from making it happen."

The best hope on the horizon for making the human enterprise on Mars possible is a new type of supersonic decelerator that’s only on the drawing board. A few companies are developing a new inflatable supersonic decelerator called a Hypercone. Imagine a huge donut with a skin across its surface that girdles the vehicle and inflates very quickly with gas rockets (like air bags) to create a conical shape. This would inflate about 10 kilometers above the ground while the vehicle is traveling at Mach 4 or 5, after peak heating. The Hypercone would act as an aerodynamic anchor to slow the vehicle to Mach 1.

The structure would need to be about thirty to forty meters in diameter. The problem here is that large, flexible structures are notoriously difficult to control. At this point in time there are also several other unknowns of developing and using a Hypercone.

One train of thought is that if the Hypercone can get the vehicle under Mach 1, then subsonic parachutes could be used, much like the ones employed by Apollo. However, it takes time for the parachutes to inflate, and sbsequently there would only be a matter of seconds of use, allowing time to shed the parachutes before converting to a propulsive system.

"You’d also need to use thrusters," said Manning. "You’re falling 10 times faster because the density of Mars’ atmosphere is 100 times less than Earth’s. That means that you can’t just land with parachutes and touch the ground. You’d break people’s bones, and probably the hardware. So you need to transition from a parachute system to an Apollo-like lunar legged lander sometime before you get to the ground."

Manning believes that those who are immersed in these matters, like himself, see the various problems fighting each other. "It’s hard to get your brain around all these problems because all the pieces connect in complex ways," he said.

"The honest truth of the matter," said Manning, "is that we don’t have a standard canonical form, a standard configuration of systems that allows us to get to the ground, with the right size that balances the forces, the loads, the people, and allows us to do all the transformation that needs to be done in the very small amount of time that we have to land."

Despite these known obstacles, there are few at NASA currently spending any quality time working on any of the issues of landing humans on Mars.

Manning explained, "NASA does not yet have the resources to solve this problem and also develop the CEV, complete the International Space Station and do the lunar landing systems development at the same time. But NASA knows that this is on its plate of things to do in the future and is just beginning to get a handle on the needed technology developments. I try to go out of my way to tell this story because I'm encouraging young aeronautical engineering students, particularly graduate students, to start working on this problem on their own. There is no doubt in my mind that with their help, we can figure out how to make reliable human-scale landing systems work on Mars."

Re:Getting ahead of themselves (1)

ckeo (220727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326874)

Land on Phobos and repel down on ropes !! :D

Re:Getting ahead of themselves (1)

skywatcher2501 (1608209) | more than 3 years ago | (#35327530)

Space elevators, why not? Maybe it is easier to use an approach with tethers..

Re:Getting ahead of themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35326966)

Just in case you want it in future:

http://www.universetoday.com/7024/the-mars-landing-approach-getting-large-payloads-to-the-surface-of-the-red-planet/

Re:Getting ahead of themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35327352)

http://www.universetoday.com/7024/the-mars-landing-approach-getting-large-payloads-to-the-surface-of-the-red-planet/

nutshell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35326254)

so basically the problem is: shooting something from florida into LEO, that can land back on earth and then get back into LEO (without refueling on earth).
should be easy, if there's a ferry from earth to mars ...

Being (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35326460)

*begin

wormhole (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35326668)

1. Launch craft to Mars
2. Land on Mars
3. Assemble pre-fab transfer gate
4. Activate transfer gates on Earth and Mars
5. Walk back to Earth
6. Start selling access to gateway

NASA could single handedly pay off the US debt this way

Might want to budget a bit extra for the whole "develop gateway technology" portion of the schedule prior to launch

nuclear ion engines (2)

Dog's_Breakfast (771023) | more than 3 years ago | (#35327002)

I'm surprised that nobody has yet mentioned nuclear-powered spacecraft, which propels itself with an ion thruster: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ion_thruster [wikipedia.org] Such a spacecraft would not have a problem carrying enough fuel to make the return trip. I do need to point out that that space vehicle would not lift off from earth using its nuclear-ion thruster, nor would it land on Mars. It would have to first be propelled into earth orbit with conventional hydrogen-oxygen rockets. The nuke engine would then "go live" propelling it to Mars, where it would stay in orbit. It would drop a module down to Mars (which uses parachutes and the "beachball" technique to land safely). After collecting samples, it would lift off Mars using a conventional rocket and rendezvous with the nuclear-powered craft in orbit, which would return to earth (but stay in orbit). Conventional rockets would be used to recover the payload and take it back to earth. Think of this nuclear-powered rocket like a kind of miniaturized Starship Enterprise, though unmanned. It doesn't land or take off from a planet, it just ferries payloads between planets, never getting any closer than an orbit.

TerraForm First ? (1)

ckeo (220727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35327020)

Toss a small comet at mars to thicken atmosphere.

Re:TerraForm First ? (1)

Baron_Yam (643147) | more than 3 years ago | (#35327566)

Err... how many comets?

What's it going to do to Mars' climate - ie will it be a net improvement?

If you're tossing mass at Mars, I'd start by partially emptying the asteroid belt to up it to Earth mass before I started on the Oort cloud for ice, though it might be easier to strip ice from elsewhere.

Anyway, that kind of engineering requires so much more energy than setting up a some large tin cans with self-contained habitats it's not worth it outside a daydream.

It's a long term, multi-stage plan... (1)

Baron_Yam (643147) | more than 3 years ago | (#35327546)

1) Drop a reactor on Mars
2) Drop a robot tractor on Mars
3) Drop a fuel generator on Mars, use the tractor to pull it to the reactor
4) Drop a greenhouse on Mars, use the tractor to pull it to the reactor
5) Drop a crew habitat on Mars, use the tractor to pull it to the reactor
6) Deliver humans to Mars once steps 1-5 have been done successfully

Hopefully, we'll have some form of nuclear propulsion by the time we're ready for step 6, which would kind of ruin the need for step 3.

For extra coin, you could get sponsors - the Duracell reactor, Apple iTractor, DuPont Fuel Generator, Monsanto Greenhouse, Hilton Habitat, and put a Nike swoosh on the crew rocket - "Just Do It".

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