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Math (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780274)

If it is impossible in the real world, why not solve it with math?

We can get to Mars and back. (1)

pecosdave (536896) | about 3 years ago | (#35780276)

We've been able to do that since at least the early 80's.

The question is can we make it worth the trip and comfortable?
Probably not, but we need to make the trip, at least once, just so we can say we did and we can better prepare for the later real trip.

Beyond that? We don't have the tech. Not yet.

Re:We can get to Mars and back. (1)

pecosdave (536896) | about 3 years ago | (#35780356)

Not tested and proven with human on-board anyways. Ion propulsion, solar sails and nuke ships are all possibilities of course.

The big argument against the nuke ship is the radiation left behind when it launches. I'm more of a fan of building the thing in space with chemical rocket or projectile launch methods and then assembling it in orbit, escaping earth with chemicals rockets, THEN dropping nukes to go forward.

Re:We can get to Mars and back. (3, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | about 3 years ago | (#35780638)

There are fully contained nuclear rockets [nuclearspace.com]. They are called gas core nuclear rockets, or nuclear light bulbs. The reaction uses uranium hexafluoride gas, spun into a vortex. This vortex is contained within a sealed, quartz walled chamber. The reaction produces a lot of UV radiation. Quartz is transparent to the UV radiation, so it escapes the container. Propellant is run past the quartz wall and absorbs the UV radiation, and heats up, expanding in the process. Voila, a nuclear rocket with no radioactive exhaust.

How about (4, Interesting)

rossdee (243626) | about 3 years ago | (#35780278)

a space elevator aka beanstalk aka orbital tower.

Once you get out of earths atmosphere and gravity well, you're halfway to anywhere (in the solar system)

Re:How about (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | about 3 years ago | (#35780366)

Or even up to 90% of the way, depending on how big a detour you're willing to make to use the Interplanetary Superhighway, since it's all zero-energy trajectories.

You're forgetting about radiation (0, Troll)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about 3 years ago | (#35780570)

The article talked about the laws of physics and chemistry, but failed to mention biology. And the truth is that the amount of radiation an astronaut absorbs each day in interplanetary space probably far exceeds the amount of radiation that anyone has received from the "catastrophic" Fukushima reactor leak. When your DNA is getting fried like that, you don't want to hear about year-long detours. Outside of the Earth magnetic field, the radiation dose is in the tens of Sieverts per hour. With shielding you can get that dose down to a fraction of a Sievert, but that's still not good. (source [hps.org])

Think about it this way: Fukushima emergency workers are required to stay away from reactors for the rest of the year if they absorb a quarter of a Sievert. In outer space, you get that every hour. In the US, the annual limit for radiation workers in non-emergency situations is a tenth of a Sievert.

Re:You're forgetting about radiation (2)

dragonhunter21 (1815102) | about 3 years ago | (#35780622)

I might be missing something here, but wouldn't that be lethal? 1 Sv results in mild radiation poisoning, and 8 is death no matter what. You'd be sick in 4 hours and dead in 32.

Re:You're forgetting about radiation (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | about 3 years ago | (#35780690)

With an elevator, you can slap on some more solid-state shielding without worrying about weight issues. Slap on enough to stop neutral particles, and deflect the rest by generating your own little magnetosphere. Problem solved (provided you have the power generation capacity to sustain the shield).

Re:You're forgetting about radiation (2)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | about 3 years ago | (#35780712)

Your figures are wrong. If any of it were true no astronaut would live through a mission. Your own source even notes "Actual radiation dose measurements of Apollo crews measured by onboard dosimetry were, on average, 12 mSv." That's 0.12 Sv... relatively high vs. average everyday life but far from 'tens of Sv/hr' which would kill people.

Re:How about (3, Informative)

ceeam (39911) | about 3 years ago | (#35780448)

The problem (for biological things, like human beings) is going out of Earth magnetic shield.

Re:How about (3, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 3 years ago | (#35780532)

Could you put a big magnet on the ship to channel the cosmic beams from the sun and use them to fuel the ship some how? I'm not joking. I'm not that knowledgeable in this area of expertise. But it seems like we have two problems, too much cosmic radiation, and a need for more fuel while in space. Could we harness the cosmic radiation and use it as fuel?

Re:How about (2)

gilleain (1310105) | about 3 years ago | (#35780536)

The problem (for biological things, like human beings) is going out of Earth magnetic shield.

For example, from ion irons. Er, iron ions. el reg article [theregister.co.uk].

Re:How about (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 3 years ago | (#35780546)

While you're at it, why not just a star trek-like transporter. Surface to station transporting would solve 90% of the problem!

The space elevator is a gimmick whose sole purpose is to generate budgets. The engineering challenges alone puts this as a pipe dream for at least the next 100 years. Or, to put it another way, we'll have flying cars before we get a space elevator.

Re:How about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780628)

While you're at it, why not just a star trek-like transporter. [...] The space elevator is a gimmick whose sole purpose is to generate budgets

Pot... Kettle... Black

Re:How about (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 years ago | (#35780648)

The 'space elevator' is in a funny position. On the one hand, it is much further away, technologically, than just about any other space related project within our solar system. On the other hand, the development of high performance structural materials is something with immediate commercial applications in all sorts of fields, so there is plenty of incentive to make incremental advances in that direction, whether or not that project will ever be feasible. Most other projects are easier; but have fewer short-term payoffs distributed along the path to completion.

A sense of scale (5, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#35780286)

Most people have no real appreciation of the scale involved in psace travel. As daunting as our own solar system is, even that pales in comparison to the scales involved in traveling to other solar systems. Currently it takes us about 9 years for a probe to reach Pluto. When I ask people to guess how long it would take that same probe to reach the nearest solar system (a mere 4.2 light years away), people's estimates are usually comically far off.

120,000 years is the correct answer. Most people guess between 100-1000. That's why people think it is plausible for mankind to colonize space. They don't appreciate the scale we're talking about.

Re:A sense of scale (5, Informative)

avgjoe62 (558860) | about 3 years ago | (#35780420)

TFA isn't talking about interstellar flight. It's talking about a human flight to Mars. And it ignores so much that I have to believe this was posted to /. just to generate page hits on the article.

The article takes the idea that a human flight to Mars has to follow some model that hasn't seriously been considered for nearly a decade. The all-in-one, carry-our-own-fuel model that got us to the moon cannot be applied to Mars. The author is right in that. But nowhere does the article mention the possibility of sending unmanned flights out first [google.com] to land and prepare a site for later human exploration. If we can send our smart robots [marstoday.com] there to create a habitat and refine fuel on the surface of Mars, most of the problems mentioned in the article disappear.

I find it ironic that the article mentions Moore's Law and the growth of human knowledge, then does not think to apply any creative thinking to the problem, just a tired old story about how difficult and expensive it would be to launch the all-in-one type of craft that got us to the Moon. Did the author not think we could use some of that processing power and knowledge to come up with new solutions using tried and tested technologies?

Re:A sense of scale (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780424)

120,000 years is the correct answer. No. No it is not the correct answer. There is no correct answer. yet. If our goal was to shoot a projectile at a target 4.2ly away we would be able to do it in less than 120ky. Even if we were limited by acceleration due to meat bag passengers. So uhh, tell me where this "correct" answer comes from.

Re:A sense of scale (3, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#35780524)

It's based on the speed of the New Horizons [wikipedia.org] probe. And yes, you could build a vehicle that was faster. But it would still take a VERY long time to travel 4.2 light years, and likely wouldn't be able to stop once it got there (assuming that you had kind of precision you would need in navigational calculations to even get there).

Re:A sense of scale (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | about 3 years ago | (#35780534)

So uhh, tell me where this "correct" answer comes from.

Probably the assumption that the probe is being propelled by today's technology rather than tomorrow's.

Re:A sense of scale (2)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#35780578)

Well, that's rather the point. Until you have better propulsion technology (MUCH better), it's really just a dream. Da Vinci could dream of an airplane, but until the internal combustion engine came along it wasn't going to happen.

Re:A sense of scale (1)

ShadyG (197269) | about 3 years ago | (#35780436)

What's the point of a scale, when there's no gravity?

Re:A sense of scale (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780720)

What's the point of a scale, when there's no gravity?

To give fatties a shred of self-esteem back.

Re:A sense of scale (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780438)

There are no other solar systems as there is only one Sun. There are however other systems; planetary, solar, or what have you.

Re:A sense of scale (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 3 years ago | (#35780462)

Just a hint. "Star travel" and "space colonization" aren't synonymous. We could, with some determination, build a colony on the moon, with existing technology. Or, if not a real colony, then at least a research station. As time passed, our technology could grow to better support that colony, and at the same time, the colony could grow more self sufficient.

Now, star travel is a whole different ballgame. Compare colonizing our solar system, to a baby learning how to crawl, then to walk. The baby is NOT going to mysteriously appear in another city around the world just because he has begun to walk.

I say, let's start crawling, and build that moon colony.

Re:A sense of scale (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780468)

That's why people think it is plausible for mankind to colonize space.

But speaking from a completely non-technical point of view; the naysayers have a history of eating crow.

Re:A sense of scale (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780602)

I've always known it would take a vast amount of resources to reach a nearby star. Looking at an illustration of the Daedalus next to the Empire State Building which it dwarfs showed it better than I could even explain. Just to reach another star within a lifetime would take more resources than have been spent on all space exploration in the last 100 years combined and I'm including all satellites and military projects of every country in the world. Just feeding and providing for the current population of the world for the next hundred years is an impossible task, we've been exceeding our resources since the early 80s. We simply don't have the resources to send a single probe let alone get one or more live humans to another star. We had a narrow window I think to establish ourselves in space but that window has probably closed. To strike out into space we need self sustaining colonies. To do this would take many hundreds of times what was invested on the space station and that will never happen. It's easy to say technology can solve the problem but that's like saying we'll solve fusion power. My favorite laughable technology is the beloved warp drive. To cause that kind of distortion of space would take more power than a star generates. We have trouble powering electric cars. At our current rate of development we aren't talking hundreds of years but millions of years off and we don't have a million years of resources. A decade of cell phones and the like have made a major dent in the supply of rare earth metals. What are the odds of our current industrial technologies lasting a 100 years, a 1,000 years, a million years? It takes the will as a people and resources. We have neither.

Re:A sense of scale (1)

khallow (566160) | about 3 years ago | (#35780748)

120,000 years is the correct answer.

If our goal is to send a probe to another solar system (without stopping) using current technology, we can do that in much less than 120k years. Ion propulsion with a large number of RTGs and a huge mass fraction, can probably reach 0.01. And if we launch a lot of vehicles, all but one which carry propellant and transfer propellant between vehicles, we probably can improve that number to several percent of the speed of light (fly out till half of everyone's propellant is used, then half transfer their remaining propellant to another half and we repeat the process, till there is only one vehicle with the payload left).

I think it reasonable that we can get a vehicle to fly by Alpha Centauri inside of a couple of centuries using current technology.

Um, ok... (5, Insightful)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 3 years ago | (#35780290)

...But that's the thing about current technologies: They inevitably insist on becoming obsolete technologies.

Re:Um, ok... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 years ago | (#35780746)

But that doesn't get around the laws of physics.

We will NEVER travel faster than the speed of light.
We will NEVER create a wormhole a human can pass through.
We will NEVER create teleportation that works on a human.
Traveling at a very signifigant fraction of the speed of light, say 90%, would be very difficult but maybe not impossible. That's yet to be seen.

Does this mean space travel is impossible? No... it will just take a very very long time.
The laws of physics as we understand them do not prevent the invention of a technology that would be like the classic SciFi Hypersleep. We could also colonize an asteroid and let the crews great grandchildren be the ones to visit the new solar system. It's all possible, we just wont be zipping around like StarTrek.

duh.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780292)

Who here thought we could build a starship "with current technologies"?

Re:duh.. (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | about 3 years ago | (#35780392)

I did.

How about a generation ship, there are perfectly workable designs for that. Granted, it's not the most comfortable way to travel, knowing that by the time you get to your destination, only your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren will be alive, and even the tech you use will belong in a museum.

But it's ONE way to do it...

Re:duh.. (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 3 years ago | (#35780652)

Building the ship might be possible. That same ship running for tens of thousands of years? Not yet. It's hard these days to keep anything running more than 30-40 years, and that's with an infinite supply of replacement parts. Having a ship run for thousands of years, even with a crew constantly repairing it, is unlikely to work with the durability of current technology. Maybe in the future, but not now. Realistically we should be looking at the close by stuff: Mars, asteroids, and the moons of the gas giants. The technology we develop getting there will greatly help any future endeavors.

Re:duh.. (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | about 3 years ago | (#35780742)

That's not nearly enough generations. It'd be more like 6,000 greats. How are you going to bring enough food for all those people? How are you going to provide capacity for sufficient genetic diversity to prevent them from becoming as inbred as the royal family?

I say we don't send anything to another solar system until we have a high level of confidence that ships leaving after it won't get there first.

Re:duh.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780398)

If you mean starship as in the Star Trek thing and not just a large rocket, then me, actually.

Things are too limited by budgets instead of having people doing it for free, and receiving everything they need to build it, for free. Yeah, I said "free", outrageous, isn't it?. If the engineers working on space travel had this luxury then I bet you they'd be able to plan a massive self-sustainable space ship for intergalactic exploration within years.

Re:duh.. (4, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 3 years ago | (#35780598)


Robert A. Heinlein

Everything costs. Even if you do away with all of the world's currency, things will still cost. You will merely be stating the costs in another manner, ie, "manhours", or "credits", or - whatever.

Space Travel is a silly idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780296)

Most probably, space travel is not worth the energy required for propulsion. What would we need to find out there? Why would anyone want to be there? For all the answers you might have come up with, I think virtual realities are a solution that is much cheaper to deploy and maintain.

Re:Space Travel is a silly idea (3)

wjousts (1529427) | about 3 years ago | (#35780362)

What would we need to find out there? Why would anyone want to be there?

Because at some point the sun will turn into a red giant and swallow the earth whole. This will obliterate humanity and every single thing we've ever done. We will be completely and irreversibility erased from the universe.

A lot of people find that thought rather uncomfortable.

Re:Space Travel is a silly idea (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 3 years ago | (#35780506)

I can't argue with you, wjousts, because you are right. But, I'm more concerned with that huge rock that the scientists haven't discovered yet, which is on a collision course with the earth. That sucker is HUGE - nearly the same size as the rock they say caused the moon.

Life on earth will probably survive that impact, but I don't think it will be "life as we know it".

Re:Space Travel is a silly idea (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 3 years ago | (#35780688)

People might find that idea uncomfortable now. Five billion years from now humanity's attitude might be a lot different.

Re:Space Travel is a silly idea (1)

cyn1c77 (928549) | about 3 years ago | (#35780442)

Most probably, space travel is not worth the energy required for propulsion. What would we need to find out there? Why would anyone want to be there? For all the answers you might have come up with, I think virtual realities are a solution that is much cheaper to deploy and maintain.

Using the same logic, I would argue that most humans are not worth the resources required to sustain them. And if we spent less resources supporting those humans, we would have more resources for space travel.

Re:Space Travel is a silly idea (1)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | about 3 years ago | (#35780554)

Christopher, why, oh why, do you want to sail west? Everybody knows, it's just water and more water. And then you fall off the edge of the world. What a waste! Look, can't you even read a map?

Re:Space Travel is a silly idea (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 3 years ago | (#35780664)

It was understood in 1492 that the Earth is round. Please don't perpetuate the myth that people thought Columbus was going to fall off some edge of the world.

"at least with current technologies" (5, Insightful)

webrunner (108849) | about 3 years ago | (#35780298)

So basically something we haven't invented the technology for is impossible until the technology is invented.

I'm so shocked.

at least with current technologies.. (3, Insightful)

js3 (319268) | about 3 years ago | (#35780300)

wow really? Even a monkey could have figured that out.

Re:at least with current technologies.. (1)

williamhb (758070) | about 3 years ago | (#35780584)

wow really? Even a monkey could have figured that out.

Doh! So that's why I haven't seen any monkeys trying to build space rockets! I knew there had to be an explanation in there somewhere.

Forget air travel. (4, Insightful)

Issarlk (1429361) | about 3 years ago | (#35780314)

There is only so much power you can get out of a locomotive, and it's never gonna make one fly in the sky due to the considerable weight of a steam engine.

Re:Forget air travel. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780336)

You, sir, win this round. Eloquently put!

Re:Forget air travel. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780616)

Doc Brown begs to differ:

RTFA (3)

wjousts (1529427) | about 3 years ago | (#35780318)

Great summary. All of one sentence that tells us nothing, not even what the source is. I really don't understand what Slashdot wants for a submission so I've mostly stopped bothering.

Re:RTFA (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780560)

I pretty much agree, This place has really gone down the shitter. I've started reading Ars a bit now, it generally has articles on most of the actual important subjects (before slashdot) but they actually seem to generally be researched and written properly. Sooner or later I'll get round to removing slashdot from my news feeds.

I'm surprised the april fools day thing didn't make me do this. One or two articles can be amusing, but when every story is full of comments saying how awful the day is and other sites are pumping out real information, one really has to question if they have any professionalism.

Defenestration (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | about 3 years ago | (#35780320)

Get these kids off hire – they're negative. Hire someone smart and while you're can you get me some Twinkies?

Errr... Chemistry? (5, Insightful)

Warwick Allison (209388) | about 3 years ago | (#35780326)

Plenty of interstellar ship concepts propose nuclear power and are therefore outside the "titanic" power of mere chemistry.

Re:Errr... Chemistry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780374)

Project Prometheus! Oops, Bush killed that.

Re:Errr... Chemistry? (1)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | about 3 years ago | (#35780644)

This. My personal belief upon looking at human history is that if something is not prohibited by the laws of physics and a large enough number of people want to do it, then we eventually figure out how to do it. Case in point -- just imagine telling someone in 1950 that we would put a man on the moon. Or go back to 1990 with a modern smartphone. Just because something is difficult and not possible with current technology only means that we need to get our asses in gear and find the technology to do it.

Silly cosmos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780330)

They assumed people are going to use chemical rockets for any sort of meaningful space exploration.

An article on "physics vs ill-informed scare mungers and the politicians who listen to them" would have been far more appropriate.

Von Braun does not agree (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780332)

An Orion engine could get you to the stars in 40 years, Mars in a few weeks. A solar sail can accelerate you almost up to the speed of light and travel to the ends of the universe. It's politics and economics that are major barriers to space travel, not physics and chemistry.

Re:Von Braun does not agree (2)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about 3 years ago | (#35780376)

But you see project Orion dates back to the 1960s and was never implemented so it doesn't count as "current technology". Space travel is only practical with past technology. Why does this situation remind me of the decline of the empire in the Foundation series?

Re:Von Braun does not agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780516)

Because for aerospace that's the case?

If I had the money, I could have flown supersonic part of the way when I (Italian) got accepted into an American university. However, even if I had the money, I could not have flown supersonic on the return trip.

Forget it? I don't think so! (4, Interesting)

Scholasticus (567646) | about 3 years ago | (#35780334)

Remember, any kind of space travel was thought impossible at one time ... until the multi-stage rocket was invented. We need more creative thinking and less of this overly pessimistic nay-saying.

... at least with current technologies (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780340)

Of course chemical rockets are very limited, in fact they barely work at all to get to other planets (gravitational assists are needed, etc.). But with ion drives, nuclear rockets and other technologies (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spacecraft_propulsion#Table_of_methods), some of which have already been tested and used, other technologies still under development, and others in the further future, such missions will become far easier and more routine. These are not limited by the energy you can get from chemical reactions

NERVA anyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780344)

or fusion...

Forget Rockets. Stargate (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780358)

Forget rockets, we'll discover how to use Stargate like technology way before cracking warp drive and long term space dwelling.

You suck. (1)

The Bringer (653232) | about 3 years ago | (#35780360)

This is the most depressing submission of the day. I could rant and rave about how humanity will overcome the barriers put before us, or perhaps about the evolution of technology. I could go out on a limb and say that all of the world's physicists are wrong, and that faster than light travel is indeed a possibility. But, I think I will take one from the page of the submitter and keep this concise: You suck.

Flawed Logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780368)

It assume you have to start on the ground and make it to the ground on Mars. It does not account for orbital manufacturing and assembly. Could we not build the ship in high orbit, and ship people/supplies up piecemeal over an extended period of time, then fly to Mars and build an orbital station to receive future travelers. And so on. Set up way points. It would take a lot longer I realize, but we put robots in orbit and on mars on a somewhat regular basis. So we should be able to put robots there to build the infrastructure to receive humans. That could include fuel production and other manufacturing and mining sites.

1850 has send you a telegram (5, Insightful)

kikito (971480) | about 3 years ago | (#35780378)

According to Physics and Chemistry self-propelled chariots are impossible STOP self-propelled flying vehicles are a fool's errand STOP Internet is that little net inside some pieces of underwear STOP.

Huh? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780382)

Premise: You cannot go into deep space because chemical rockets have insufficient energy to get you there.

Recommendation: Therefore you should only send people into space one way.

Real purpose of article: For the Author to brag that he is wealthy enough to book a flight on Virgin Galactic.

Dumb article. Does not mention carbon freeze. (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 3 years ago | (#35780388)

Folks, save yourself some time and skip reading the article. It does not mention carbon freeze, or mini black hole based ionic propulsion, jumping into hyperspace, worm holes, tachyon particles, not even those ray blasting cannons that curiously recoil like a second world was naval gun, phasors that could be set to stun, or transporters.

OK, OK I concede that stuff like flue powder, aparating and portals seem improbable, just to show that I am not unreasonable, and am considering only proven viable technologies.

Re:Dumb article. Does not mention carbon freeze. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780600)

Very droll.

Pretty bad article (2)

Clsid (564627) | about 3 years ago | (#35780390)

That article is a joke. It doesn't even take into consideration very public recent development like http://www.fastcompany.com/1744745/russia-us-plan-a-nuclear-powered-space-rocket-should-we-worry [fastcompany.com]

Plus Russia announced it created a nuclear reactor that was capable of being transported and used in a rocket some months ago. Plus the sun is an infinite source of energy when you are in space, which should make whatever fuel you are going to use last longer.

Its hard to tell - but (2)

Chrisq (894406) | about 3 years ago | (#35780394)

Its hard to tell because the article contains no facts or assumptions, but I think it is working on the assumption that the Mars space craft and all fuel will have to be lifted from the earth in one go. If we assemble the craft in earth orbit then fuel it in multiple trips the energy requirements to get it to Mars orbit will be much lower. At that point it can again use a "lander" vehicle to take the astronauts and equipment to the surface, a lot of which can be left behind for the return trip (as was done with the moonshots).

of course its imposible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780408)

with current technologies, if it weren't we would be doing it right now.

Wow, uh, I never thought of that! (3, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | about 3 years ago | (#35780412)

I mean, really, in 1969 we magically had all the tech to get to the Moon and back, it's not like we had to invent anything. /sarcasm

People get paid to write this crap?


CmdrFail (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780428)

fuck you CmdrTaco. Forget space travel? Forget stepping out of bed! its lots of work involved.
when are we going to get real editors?

**CRACK*** *POP* *CRUNCH* (4, Interesting)

tropgeek (1945298) | about 3 years ago | (#35780466)

NOM NOM, Nothing wakes you up in the morning, like crushing the hope of science dreamers everywhere.
To quote Einstein: "Whoever undertakes to set himself up as judge in the field of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods."

Auguste Comte Fallacy (2)

Epeeist (2682) | about 3 years ago | (#35780478)

Of all objects, the planets are those which appear to us under the least varied aspect. We see how we may determine their forms, their distances, their bulk, and their motions, but we can never known anything of their chemical or mineralogical structure; and, much less, that of organized beings living on their surface

Said by Comte in 1842. There is a difference between unknown and unknowable.

Impossible... (1)

kubernet3s (1954672) | about 3 years ago | (#35780484)

at least with current technologogies? Duh. If we could do it, we would have. No one seriously believes the main obstacle to a Mars mission is the liberal agenda or the freemasons or anything, right?

Well, duh... (2)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 3 years ago | (#35780498)

Forget Space Travel, It's Just a Dream ... at least with current technologies

Isn't that what dreams are about? Inventing new technologies to do in the future what is not possible now?

Actually it's physics and BIOLOGY (5, Interesting)

wisebabo (638845) | about 3 years ago | (#35780518)

The quick answer (which I'm sure many posters have already said) is don't involve chemistry; use nuclear engines, or ion engines or solar sails or magnetic balloons. There is a lot more energy (million fold) in nuclear bonds that you can get from fission reactors or by using the fusion furnace at the center of our solar system.

That said, I haven't really heard of good answers to long time LIVING (not just survival) outside of the earth's magnetic field/shield and without one-gee acceleration keeping our bodies reasonably fit. Want to COLONIZE Mars and not just go there for a flags and footprints mission? Well we have no idea if the 1/3 G gravity will keep the astronaut's bones from becoming brittle. Who knows if women can give birth to healthy infants in such an environment or even if we can grow crops there! (I really thought they shouldn't have cancelled the centrifuge that was to be a part of the ISS. Hopefully, if the Falcon 9 works out, it'll be cheap enough to add it later).

I'm actually a little more optimistic about the long term ability of humanity to spread throughout the cosmos. In just a few decades, hopefully we'll know enough about our biology to really tinker with it. Getting rid of susceptibility to low gravity is a given of course but how about a little radiation hardening? (Some organisms can tolerate millions of times as much radiation as we can). Perhaps later we could learn to deal with decompression sicknesses (like marine mammals) so spacesuit design could become a lot simpler. Maybe we could learn the tricks of hibernation from bears and squirrels so long space flights wouldn't consume so many resources (and be so boring!).

We might end up not quite the same as homo sapiens. Call it man plus. (For INTERSTELLAR travel, we'll need some pretty spectacular physics or some pretty radical reengineering of ourselves. How 'bout brains in boxes? Or better yet, just software running on commodity hardware?).

But it might take awhile.

"Science of everything"? Don't make me laugh! (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | about 3 years ago | (#35780550)

Despite calling itself a magazine on the "Science of everything", this Cosmos is pretty outdated. Last I remember, nobody bothered about chemical rockets for interplanetary or longer travel: they pack a lot of punch, but they're heavy and can't be used for continuous burns, just short corrections. For which they work fine.

Then there's the ion engine: low specific impulse, but can be used for long periods on end, perfect for shaving time off the free coast phase. Already operated on several spacecrafts.

Fusion rockets: medium specific impulse, though still nowhere near a hypergolic rocket, but still can be fired for months on end as long as you have fuel, and it also takes care of power generation. Requires a leap or two in LASER tech for ignition, otherwise possible (in 10-25 years, at most).

Project Orion: riding on the shockwaves of NUKES. Can you guess at the impulse? Also advances nuclear disarmament, but kinda risky (the astronauts ride in essentially a box over a dampened shield behind thousands of nukes. You really don't want one warhead to have a bad day...). Possible, requires international cooperation and massive balls of steel to try, so let's discount it for now.

Light sails and ion sails: low specific impulse, but carry no propellant, and can accelerate all the way to the edge of Sol, making for some significant velocity when it hits the heliopause. Technically possible with today's technology, but unneccesary.

So there, we could pretty much achieve sustainable interplanetary travel today if we put our mind to it. And if we really wanted it, we could have STL generation ships on the way in 50-100 years, at most.

More plausable reason (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780608)

I think the real reason we won't be back in space is politics and lack of interest. Most people don't care, and there are more pressing needs here on earth. Now, there's always the possibility (and high probability) that the answers to many of our needs down here will come from technologies invented for or made possible by space travel, but most people don't care. They see only the immediate near-term, and can't see the big picture... Thusly, we will never really go back on any scale, and the science and research needed will never really be financed... at least not to any significant degree.

Haha... Not even to Mars? (1)

Jugalator (259273) | about 3 years ago | (#35780678)

The author makes it sounds like there's air resistance in space that makes it possible to go to the Moon but not to Mars... :p

"See, it's the air drag that makes the journey to Mars simply consume too much rocket fuel!"

Whoever says "no" is always wrong (2)

tekrat (242117) | about 3 years ago | (#35780698)

I'd like to remind people that scientists as recently as the 1940's said that flight faster than the speed of sound was impossible. That flight beyond the atmosphere was impossible.

Before that, they said that flight was impossible, and anyone travelling faster than 35mph would kill the occupant.

Just ask any top-fuel dragster jockey about what's impossible. Engineers were swearing up and down that they had reached the limit of what internal combustion engines could do in the 60's, but the guys building the dragsters kept proving them wrong.

I'm sure as far back as cavemen, there was a 'scientist' that was positive that man-made fire was impossible.

The point is: Sooner or later, anyone that says that anything is impossible is proven wrong. Don't be a naysayer, be that someone that changes the world. Find the way to achieve the impossible.

obat herbal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35780752)

nice info thanks for information,,,

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