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NASA Boss Says Mars Colonization Will Be Corporate Only

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the this-asteroid-brought-to-you-by dept.

NASA 299

99luftballon writes "The head of NASA Ames Research Center has said that he expects any colonization of Mars, the Moon or asteroids to be done by private companies rather than by NASA. There's some interesting parallels with the East India Company, although that was hardly a triumph of capitalism. From the article: 'Dr. Simon Worden, director at NASA Ames Research Center, told The Register that the agency was firmly enmeshing itself with the private sector, citing cooperation on the Dragon capsule being developed by Elon Musk's SpaceX team as a good example. NASA developed a heat shield material called PICA (Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator), capable of withstanding 1850 degrees Celsius (3360 degrees Fahrenheit), and gave it to SpaceX, who manufactured it.' The article also mentions Google's head of space projects, who has 'Intergalactic Federation King Almighty and Commander of the Universe' on her business cards."

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299 comments

Kim Stanley Robinson (4, Insightful)

a_ghostwheel (699776) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297759)

Well - we already even have a business plan [amazon.com] .

China (5, Interesting)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297761)

Colonization of Mars will be done by China. What's it got to do with NASA?

Re:China (2, Insightful)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297893)

You mean China will take all its billion people and move over to Mars?

Re:China (4, Insightful)

99luftballon (838486) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297909)

We'll never solve population pressure with space travel, it costs too much to get into orbit. But I'd bet the Chinese are considering mining operations off planet.

Space Mining (2, Informative)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297949)

But I'd bet the Chinese are considering mining operations off planet

I find the above quote a little bit too ironic

The first one who talk about space mining wasn't the Chinese, it was the Americans

Re:Space Mining (2)

99luftballon (838486) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297967)

Sure, but in 20 years who is going to have more funds to throw at space travel - the US or China?

Re:Space Mining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39298115)

Are you sure? French had "He wants to grab Moon in his teeth" proverb when your USA did not exist at all.

Re:Space Mining (4, Funny)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298259)

But I'd bet the Chinese are considering mining operations off planet

I find the above quote a little bit too ironic

Speaking of mining and ores, I find yours a bit... (how to put it?)... pun-ic?

Re:China (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298277)

We're working on that.

Re:China (4, Funny)

Dutchmaan (442553) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297919)

Well it's not called the Red Planet for nothing...

Re:China (0)

hoboroadie (1726896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298067)

{chuckle} I have been so telling everyone since the '70s that the Chinese were the ones 'going to eat our lunch.

Re:China (5, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297925)

That is not certain. If NASA is allowed to get private space going, then it is a certainty that by 2020, that NASA via private space will be on the moon. And likewise, within 5 years later, private space will go to Mars. Why? Profits. By building multiple private space stations in orbit, multiple nations will want to use them. From there, if companies like SpaceX, ULA, Bigelow will want to get to the moon. Why again? Profits. They KNOW that nations will pay much more to go to the moon and explore. So will other companies. The ability to mine for water and send it back to the ISS and private space stations much cheaper than from earth would be a big deal. Likewise, the ability to mine Uranium, breed it, and then fuel rocket engines with it to go to Mars will be a strong demand.

America DOES have a problem. We have to get past politicians like Hatch, Coffman, Hutchinson, Shelby, Wolfe, Nelson, etc., but I know that even Coffman is already being called on his destructive actions against NASA. The others will be looked at as well.

Re:China (4, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298087)

I wouldn't bet on that. They have their own problems to solve with the money. Colonization takes a lot of money. By the time this starts being a real issue they will have a shrinking or flat population and that has a whole wack of social problems.

And it's not like a statement like this from NASA means anything. By 2016/2017 there will definitely be a new policy for NASA, with new governments with new priorities, and they could completely change their minds in any number of directions. They could decide it will be the US colonizing mars, it could be the Europeans deciding this is how they'll get the greeks out of the Euro once and for all, who knows. At best this is a cue to the private companies that for the moment NASA isn't going to stand in the way. But times change.

Re:China (1)

an unsound mind (1419599) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298361)

Frankly, given the current situation, growing population also has it's problems. Implying shrinking or flat population is worse than the current widespread starvation sounds a bit weird.

Re:China (1)

asm2750 (1124425) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298333)

By the time they are able to even get a person on Mars their eventual social and environmental issues will catch up with them.

Indentured Servants (4, Interesting)

andymadigan (792996) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297769)

I wonder how many people will end up as indentured servants unable to purchase transport back to earth, working in dangerous working conditions on a world run by corporations. They'll be lured by false promises, or maybe even sent by countries with overpopulated prisons.

Re:Indentured Servants (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39297829)

You mean like the US and Australia? ... I am not an ozzie so I wonder about indentured servents. But this is how people came ot the new world and how slavery started in the south.

Re:Indentured Servants (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39297851)

"Between Planets" might not have been so far off.

Re:Indentured Servants (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298185)

You mean "Logic of Empire"

Re:Indentured Servants (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39297871)

I wonder how many people will end up as indentured servants unable to purchase transport back to earth, working in dangerous working conditions on a world run by corporations. They'll be lured by false promises, or maybe even sent by countries with overpopulated prisons.

Well.. Worked for australia

Unreal Tournament: Real Life? (5, Funny)

Anubis350 (772791) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297929)

"In 2291, in an attempt to control violence among deep space miners, the New Earth Government legalized no-holds-bared fighting. Liandri Mining Corporation, working with the NEG, established a series of leagues and bloody public exhibitions. The fights' popularity grew with their brutality. Soon, Liandri discovered that the public matches were their most profitable enterprise. The professional league was formed; a cabal of the most violent and skilled warriors in known space, selected to fight in a Grand Tournament. Now it is 2341. 50 years have passed since founding of DeathMatch. Profits from the Tournament number in the hundreds of billions. You have been selected to fight in the professional league by the Liandri Rules Board. Your strength and brutality are legendary. The time has come to prove you are the best. To crush your enemies; to win the Tournament." (video here [youtube.com] )

Criminals are unlikely. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297931)

Unless there is a MAJOR breakthrough with getting mass into orbit.

It is unlikely that a criminal will have any skills you'd need that would be worth the expense of lifting him into orbit and keeping him fed and watered and breathing.

Re:Criminals are unlikely. (-1, Flamebait)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298029)

Hah! There are so many people in western prisons that should been execute already it's not even funny. Mass murderers, rapists, child abusers...etc. But we're civilized. Or so I'm told. No, we'll just keep them locked up and well fed all at the expense of the tax payer.

A moon base acting as Alcatraz II? Count on it. Give it 50 years or less, but that route will be preferred over the death penalty.

Re:Criminals are unlikely. (4, Insightful)

an unsound mind (1419599) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298389)

Because some people deserve only death for what they've done, and the justice system never makes any mistakes, right?

Worse yet, the kind of people you hate aren't the kind of people the prisons are full of - true monsters are very rare, and keeping them locked up isn't a major expense. Unlike locking up potheads, who are a large part of the current prison population.

Re:Criminals are unlikely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39298055)

Make life depend on it - and it will give MAJOR boost in skills. And in space, it's not that difficult ;)

Re:Criminals are unlikely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39298213)

Yeah, I'm sure that some corp will fly some drudge many months outo space to find out if he can stand the stress without resorting to violence.

Re:Indentured Servants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39298057)

Don't worry, this video will happen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcUBI-YVRY8

Re:Indentured Servants (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39298083)

Downbelow, the brown sector dwellers

Re:Indentured Servants (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298251)

Correction:

"Downbelow" is the unofficial name for Brown Sector.

The dwellers are called "Lurkers"

Re:Indentured Servants (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298175)

Been there, done that [wikipedia.org]

Re:Indentured Servants (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298253)

But at least we'll be able to race hovercars. [youtube.com]

Re:Indentured Servants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39298229)

Yes, but do not worry, I, Quaid, will start the reactor.

Re:Indentured Servants (2)

hodma727 (915852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298257)

Mars, a prison for the modern age, just like Australia was in its time. This time around it can be for copy write infringements.

Re:Indentured Servants (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298305)

Perhaps. But in a few centuries, the parties which sniffed their noses at the chance of advance colonization of this or that planet will hate themselves.

A few words here and there, and someone else could have ended up with Australia. That's an entire continent. Mind you, an entire continent filled with some of the most deadly animals on earth, but it's still a continent that people thrive on.

Re:Indentured Servants (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298269)

Uhh, 0? Just because you call them "corporations" doesn't change anything, it's human colonization. You could ponder the same thing in 17th century America. "Oh noes, will those poor pilgrims be indentured servants unable to purchase transport back to England?!"

Re:Indentured Servants (3, Insightful)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298339)

Fear of the unknown. Some people will argue that when it came time to colonize the Americas, we knew they had fresh water / food / etc., but reality speaks otherwise -> most of the people involved did not comprehend what they were getting into, and entire colonies died out.

With Mars, an argument could be made of the same. There will be people scared to death of life on another planet (let alone a trip through space), and there will be people who will die on Mars during colonization. Sometimes through the hostile environment, more likely through human artifice. But if you want a new beginning, or are just a rugged survivalist who wants to put their skills to the test, you will be a part of something great. Death can get a human being on Earth as easily as on Mars. And yes, space colonization does solve the human population problem, at least temporarily. I believe it to be of a much better design than some of the human population control schemes various parties are cooking up.

   

Re:Indentured Servants (1)

happyhamster (134378) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298289)

>> I wonder how many people will end up as indentured servants

A lot. They will all die after working themselves to death. In a hundred years, some wide-eyed university researcher might write a paper about the "human cost" of colonizing the space, that will be read by a few and understood by fewer. That is how humanity expands its frontiers. It's not moral, but it's practical... and sad .

Re:Indentured Servants (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298381)

The Longest Journey comes to mind.

True, relying on a company to care for you is a...well...not so great idea.

BIG corporations only (4, Funny)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297775)

And, of course. the government and NASA will help make sure the big corporations will lock out small business and startups from even getting going.

Re:BIG corporations only (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39297853)

By the time colonization of Mars will occur, we'll already have targeted ads on our ballots, a president who wears corporate badges on his suit and cap, and five year naming rights for our country sold to the highest bidder*. It'd be a little silly to allow small businesses to come along, innovate, and threaten our sponsor-leaders, wouldn't it?

*At least there'll be a little amusing political humor if we end up being called the Citi States of America or similar.

Re:BIG corporations only (2)

hoboroadie (1726896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297899)

That's why they buy the laws, it keeps things profitable.
We can't expect anyone ambitious to help out unless they can win and everyone else loses now, can we?

Re:BIG corporations only (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298347)

Launch near the equator, you won't suffer from this problem.

There goes the Solar System! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39297789)

Next, the Missionaries....

Re:There goes the Solar System! (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298369)

Indeed. It would be a quiet source of entertainment (perhaps some irony?) to see another alien race converted by human preachers.

There is also the not so mirthful possibility that they will be a first contact for another race, declare them to be demons, fire on them, and doom the rest of the human race (as this race seeks revenge by removing the human scum).

hunmn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39297795)

"...who has 'Intergalactic Federation King Almighty and Commander of the Universe' on her business cards."

i am the king of the world (self-proclaimed).

kiss my *

Re:hunmn (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298377)

Entertaining, but owing to the maxim outlined in Good Omens -> the more impressive the title, the less power they have. ;-)

Two words .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39297813)

Weyland-Yutani.

Re:Two words .. (2)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297905)

Nope, more like UAC.

I really hope they don't start working on teleportation technology. If they do, they had better stock up on plasma rifles and miniguns first.

Re:Two words .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39298013)

Nope, more like UAC.

So, you're saying all the starships will run Windows Vista? No wonder space exploration isn't going anywhere.

Re:Two words .. (1)

bbecker23 (1917560) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298325)

Don't worry. Next year is the "Year of Linux on the Starship."
Now if this damned driver would just compile.

Only if it turns out there's something valuable... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297821)

.... on mars will there ever be any significant corporate interest in going there.

From what we know so far, it's primarily just a gigantic rusted ball.

If it turns out that there are more precious materials further below the surface than the tiny rovers that we have sent so far have scraped off, or, even better, albeit probably much more of a stretch, if there are compounds that have never been discovered here on earth and exist naturally there which have sufficiently desirable properties, it might very well end up being worth their while to start sending manned expeditions there regularly..

Re:Only if it turns out there's something valuable (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297939)

Nope. Nations will back this just to be part of it. My guess is that the first team will include about 6 ppl on a one-way mission with 3 to 6 nations being represented.

scary land property... (1)

altagir (259584) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297831)

to escape Earth dying athmosphere, enlist yourself for an endless life of slavery for the Mars Minig Corporation to pay for your oxygen and food.

Re:scary land property... (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297895)

So much like Total Recall [imdb.com] P. K. Dick really did have a direct line on the future.

Re:scary land property... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39298001)

We are only out temporarily, on our own recognizance, therefore we owe the man for our oxygen et cetera now.
Bow down/bend over... nothing to see here...

Re:scary land property... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39298173)

Maybe solve the problems of overpopulation on earth - send the billion Chinese to Mars, the 2 billion Muslims to Venus, and a billion Indians to say one of Jupiter's moons, and the world's population will be down to 3 billion, and that too a bulk of who are not reproducing @ replacement levels e.g. the Russians.

Re:scary land property... (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298387)

*shrugs*

Human beings are expensive to transport, not too expensive to grow. Wait, this isn't the Mars Mining Corporation shareholders meeting? *Waves hand* forget I said anything.

Native Martians (1)

zzzy (913235) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297855)

I wonder if we will end up calling Martians Indians too. Then centuries later the politically correct Martian Indians or Native Martians shall emerge. Hmm...

Re:Native Martians (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298291)

No, we will call them "Old ones".

Just What We Need (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39297881)

*bingbong* "It looks like you're low on oxygen. Please insert another oxygen canister to continue.......... Oh I'm sorry, that doesn't seem to be a MarsCo(r) Brand Oxygen Experience Unit(tm). Aftermarket canisters such as yours are not supported. Suffocation in 5...4... this death is brought to you by..."

Re:Just What We Need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39298073)

Apple :-P

Re:Just What We Need (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298395)

More like "*bingbong* It looks like you're low on oxygen. Please insert another coin to continue..."

Re:Just What We Need (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298411)

Horrors of capitalism aside, for as long as oxygen / water / food is an issue on remote planets, various interested parties will have to deal with the local powers, which are always in need of a good distraction from the various schemes they are engaging in. As such, unless they want to face unprofitable sanctions, or face angry shareholders, they will do well to never run into those particular problems.

Gots ta hand it to Google (1)

javascriptjunkie (2591449) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297887)

At least they give out cool job titles. I would work for Google if they let me have "Diabolical Overlord, Master of Men's Minds." Pretty much in a heartbeat.

Re:Gots ta hand it to Google (-1, Offtopic)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298003)

You know, I want the Roman Empire back, or the Incas or whatever. Ruthless slavery and fascism, anything, really. But the idea to that the future will be ruled by total jackoffs like the business and nerd elite, is just too much. Bring the gorillas back ffs, at least those shut their fucking mouth while they kill people, instead the RPG stuff kings, priests and now puter monkeys seem to be playing. Excuse me while I puke. Humanity truly will go out with a whimper, I doubt that less and less.

Re:Gots ta hand it to Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39298061)

I relish your flaccid frustration. Here, have some more hard liquor and a pre-recorded laugh-track.
-un/clenching hands maniacally-
Things go well. They go very, VERY well. Now tell where his sister is...

Re:Gots ta hand it to Google (0)

javascriptjunkie (2591449) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298139)

I honestly don't think the code monkeys have a whole lot of power here. We're just the guys that sit around, and let people who aren't as intelligent as we are make all the stupid decisions. It's consent by omission, but it pays the bills.

Re:Gots ta hand it to Google (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298415)

I'd go for 'the Buddha's Nipples.'

I'm not investigating any distress calls (2, Interesting)

99luftballon (838486) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297889)

Facehugger anyone? Seriously though, how many of us would sign up for a one-way trip? I'd do it in a heartbeat, but the wife would kill me.

Re:I'm not investigating any distress calls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39297981)

but the wife would kill me.

Which is why 'Hey honey guess what I signed up for?' is the wrong way to break it and 'Hey honey guess where i just left for?' is the right way.

Re:I'm not investigating any distress calls (1)

99luftballon (838486) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297999)

"My sweet, you know how you said you wanted to travel..."

Seriously, my better half would find me in the darkest Arsia Mons caves, and there'd be bloody murder.

Re:I'm not investigating any distress calls (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298053)

Wife: Honey, if you're in Mars, then what would be a good time to call you i.e. when will you be awake? The differences between Earth days & Mars days will be enough to throw me off! Also, where on Mars will you be?

And he is dead on (2, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297897)

The fact is, that NASA can not afford to do prolonged bases. We have already seen the damage that CONgress can do to us over and over and over. Back in the mid 90's, the republicans destroyed NASA's ability to go BEO. Then they gutted them again in 2001. Likewise, they are doing everything possible to gut private space now, to push their SLS. Sadly, CONgress members like Hatch, Coffman, Wolfe, Shelby, Hutchinson, Nelson, etc. are fighting to destroy private space while continuing the funding of SLS until 2020, along with having Russia do our launches for another 10 years.

What is needed is for Bolden/Obama to get funding for private space for the next 3 years. That should include enough to fund 3 human launchers along with getting bigelow aerospace going. Once this has happened for the next 3 years, then it will be impossible for those people to stop private space.

What is so odd about this, is that America is within several years of turning space from a cost center into being not just taxable, but the next internet boom. Yet, certain members of CONgress wants NASA to be a jobs programs, rather than developed of America's space and aeronautics systems.

Venus colonization by oil magnates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39297921)

Next move - the OIC - led by the Saudis, the Gulf sheikhs, Iran and all the other oil rich sultans like Brunei - can arrange for colonization of Venus, and take all their 1.8 billion Muslims there. They won't have to worry about the evil Zionists, or other Western neo-colonialists trying to own them or their lands - they can have that entire planet all to themselves.

Re:Venus colonization by oil magnates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39297959)

"...led by the Saudis, the Gulf sheikhs, Iran and all the other oil rich sultans like Brunei - can arrange for colonization of Venus..."
The planet of females? You're kidding, right?

Re:Venus colonization by Muslim oil magnates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39298037)

Hey, they'll get all their 72 or whatever virgins that they fantasize over, and can enjoy a completely Islamic paradise. Who's to begrudge them any of that? ;-)

Nasa ain't doing shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39297947)

until the banksters and their enablers are cleaned up.

Who the fuck want's to live on Mars? Send the banksters there.

Re:Nasa ain't doing shit (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298297)

Send the banksters there.

Excuse me... that's quite an expensive way to lose a load of night soil. Think again, please.

Americans Cannot Own Moonrocks - Remove this law (2)

InnerInsight (2514816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297977)

Before any corporation would attempt Mars, the logical stepping stone is the Moon. Any products returned to earth derived from the moon would fall under this law. Helium 3 would fall under this. Moon Bases would complicate ownership. Who is going to verify land ownership for these Corporations if we cant even own a simple Moon Rock?

Re:Americans Cannot Own Moonrocks - Remove this la (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39298015)

In Australia we only own the top foot of the land we're on so we're used to non ownership.

Re:Americans Cannot Own Moonrocks - Remove this la (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298103)

Laws can be changed? Doesn't seem that complicated a concept. If they have value beyond novelty as moon rocks then they'll have to allow them to be owned.

Right now moon rocks are valuable because going to the moon is novel, rocks are rare, and they have intrinsic value because they are rare (and worth studying), and even have value as display items because they are from the moon, even if they are, in all other ways, identical to, or more boring than earth rocks. That necessarily requires rules to deal with scams, and ideas of ownership that might normally apply to rocks from other places.

All that changes very quickly if they have a commercial value to be mined or the like. They could go a number of ways with it, who mines it owns it, some organization or government could own it and you buy a licence etc. etc. etc. Right now there is a state monopoly on moon rocks. But there's no reason it will have to stay that way if circumstances change.

Re:Americans Cannot Own Moonrocks - Remove this la (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39298105)

It's only a US problem and right now it looks like China or India could be there first anyway.

So "Not a problem"

Re:Americans Cannot Own Moonrocks - Remove this la (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298203)

"...the logical stepping stone is the Moon."

why? I can think of a lot of research that can be done on the moon, but it doesn't have to be a step.

When Columbus stumbled upon the Americas, the Spain owned every rock and item. That falls to the side with colonization

For the rest, see the "Mars" trilogy by Robinson (2)

MacroRodent (1478749) | more than 2 years ago | (#39297995)

The "Red Mars", "Green Mars", "Blue Mars" trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson is a great future history that lays out a credible way the Mars colonisation could play out, including the inevitable revolt against the megacorporations. Enjoyed it last summer. The books were written in the early 1990's, evidenly with the best knowledge about Mars available then. At times it feels like the author had visited the place in person... There is no technobable, no miracle technology, this is hard sci-fi at its hardest. But much of the story is really about social effects, the tensions between early Mars settlers, newcomers, people who want to terraform Mars and those that desire to preserve it, and the corporations that just want to extract maximum profits from Mars. Earth future history is also explored with the unexpected discovery of a life-prolonging treatment (who gets it?), and an environmental crisis caused by volcanism in the Antarctic (a huge flood, but not fashionably by global warming).

Private vs. Public (0)

hierophanta (1345511) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298017)

The shift form pubic to private is
1. the difference between China and the west
2. A real shift in the west that is being driven by recession (& this makes me sad :(
3, ???
4. Profit!

Re:Private vs. Public (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298337)

The shift form pubic to private is

Never other than private my form pubic was, my young padwan, shift it back not needed is.

Nice Try (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298049)

Neither NASA nor any other Earth space agency has the right to determine who can/can't travel to Mars. On my space airline, corporate passengers will be prohibited.

Re:Nice Try (2)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298219)

But... won't your space airline _be_ a corporation?

Re:Nice Try (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298317)

And, more importantly, will it actually fly to Mars at all?

Lemme guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39298075)

The UAC?

Please don't let them try to create tele-portation... just, no.

Re:Lemme guess... (1)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298231)

What could go wrong? Ok, they might discover that the ancient Martians developed genetic engineering that turns evil people (such as professional wrestlers turned actor) into monsters but... Wait, that sounds wrong somehow.

It will be a bonanza... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39298151)

... for charismatic leaders and their religious communities.

Hmm... (1)

BurningFeetMan (991589) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298179)

I wonder what the first man on Mars will drink... Coke, Pepsi, or recycled & filtered urine?

Fire him (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298187)

Exactly what NASA doesn't need. Yes, start offering LEO to corporate entities. There is not enough guarantee or immediate return for Mars, asteroids, etc.

However, private companies are involved whenever NASA does do things, because Private companies generally build the stuff NASA specifies.

It doesn't seem like he gets that. It took government money for the Christopher Columbus mission; which was needed to lay the path..as it were.

What's up with the summary? (4, Interesting)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298209)

The summary somewhat misrepresents what Worden said. From the article, here's Worden's actual statement, which seems quite sensible to me: "Governments can develop new technology and do some of the exciting early exploration but in the long run it's the private sector that finds ways to make profit, finds ways to expand humanity. ... Most of private individuals I've talked to about interest in settling on Mars, including Elon Musk, talk about in the next few decades they think the private sector will fund settlement missions - whether to the Moon, Mars, or asteroids. As a government laboratory our job is to develop to enable those kinds of things by developing technology and early exploration, and we hope the private sector will find a way to do something like that."

In my dreams... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39298235)

"I hereby claim this Planet Hollywood!"

Expect a quick change of mind (4, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298285)

Expect a quick change of mind after the first Chinese lunar colony is established.

Funny (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298349)

I still remember several good novels on that topic (privately funded Mars missions).

Well... (0)

greentshirt (1308037) | more than 2 years ago | (#39298353)

I for one think this is a great idea. I mean, what could possible go wrong? Sure, corporations will be given access to an entire planet, but corporations are people too my friend. For example, don't think Ford, think Fred. GM? No, that's Jim. Sure, these people will work within the free market towards their own selfish gains, however, through the benevolent guidance of the Invisible Hand (which is an alpha version of the Invisible Man) they will reach a state of equilibrium which represents the best interests of all.
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