Beta
×

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

Thank you!

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

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

Richard Branson 'Determined To Start a Population On Mars'

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the did-not-specify-which-species dept.

Mars 266

RocketAcademy writes "British billionaire Richard Branson, whose Virgin Galactic company is backing the development of SpaceShip Two, has told CBS News he is 'determined to start a population on Mars.' He said, 'I think over the next 20 years, we will take literally hundreds of thousands of people to space and that will give us the financial resources to do even bigger things. That will give us the resources then to put satellites into space at a fraction of the price, which can be incredibly useful for thousands of different reasons.' Branson isn't the only billionaire interested in the Red Planet. Elon Musk, founder of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), wants to put humans on Mars in the next 12 to 15 years."

cancel ×

266 comments

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

Must he be the father? (4, Funny)

Garridan (597129) | more than 2 years ago | (#41392731)

Familiar with Branson's previous shenanigans, I must wonder: does he intend to impregnate all the women before they leave for / on the way to Mars?

Re:Must he be the father? (1)

fridaynightsmoke (1589903) | more than 2 years ago | (#41392745)

Familiar with Branson's previous shenanigans, I must wonder: does he intend to impregnate all the women before they leave for / on the way to Mars?

A trait that is a must for any real spacefarer!

Women?! TFA says only Branson and Musk volunteered (1)

D4C5CE (578304) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393101)

...so far (the latter even "to die on Mars, just not on impact [businessweek.com] "), and how two guys are going to start a population together shall remain the greatest mystery of Mars. ;-)

Re:Must he be the father? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393161)

So that makes me wonder: Is Richard Branson really Zapp Brannigan's great grandfather?

Re:Must he be the father? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393177)

I'd be a little nervous about the teratogenic potential of the radiation you'd run into on the way; but (all joking aside) a plan like 'colonize mars' is really starting to get into the territory where somewhat... unconventional choices in order to save space/life support/etc. might start to be come eminently sensible.

Barring truly impressive recycling/life support systems, for instance, you could ship a hell of a lot of sperm specimens in cryo for the same payload cost that a single man and supplies to last the trip would occupy, with the additional advantage of far more genetic diversity than any single father could provide. Sooner or later, because of the finite shelf life of cryopreserved sperm cells, you'd need to re introduce males into your population; but it would seem somewhat inefficient to have any for the first generation, possibly even the first several generations...

Re:Must he be the father? (-1, Troll)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393455)

I'd be a little nervous about the teratogenic potential of the radiation you'd run into on the way; but (all joking aside) a plan like 'colonize mars' is really starting to get into the territory where somewhat... unconventional choices in order to save space/life support/etc. might start to be come eminently sensible.

Barring truly impressive recycling/life support systems, for instance, you could ship a hell of a lot of sperm specimens in cryo for the same payload cost that a single man and supplies to last the trip would occupy, with the additional advantage of far more genetic diversity than any single father could provide. Sooner or later, because of the finite shelf life of cryopreserved sperm cells, you'd need to re introduce males into your population; but it would seem somewhat inefficient to have any for the first generation, possibly even the first several generations...

Except you wouldn't get any work done without men. Especially not any work that involves manual labor or operating machinery, such as building a colony.

Furthermore, if your goal is to repopulate (why else are you sending sperm?) then you must already have a dome or whatever with sufficient infrastructure to support the increased population. Might as well send people with those supplies to continue development. The trip would cost mote, but those people are ready to work the instant they arrive. Sperm will put a woman out of colony building work for several months at least, and will in the best case scenario yield a child which is a net loss on the output of the colony as a whole, as well as the output per capita.

You don't breed on an unterraformed planet until you can do it, and sustain it, locally.

Re:Must he be the father? (4, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393425)

The guy is relatively attractive for his age, is a Billionaire, is famous, has an accent, has a Jet, has a car that turns into a plane, has a car that turns into a boat, owns an island, and owns a spacecraft... I'm not going to fault him for screwing everything in sight. That's the kind of DNA you want in the Gene pool anyway.

Re:Must he be the father? (5, Funny)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393715)

Which reminds me...

  CBS News: Doctor, you mentioned the ratio of ten women to each man. Now, wouldn't that necessitate the abandonment of the so-called monogamous sexual relationship, I mean, as far as men were concerned?

Branson: Regrettably, yes. But it is, you know, a sacrifice required for the future of the human race. I hasten to add that since each man will be required to do prodigious...service along these lines, the women will have to be selected for their sexual characteristics which will have to be of a...highly stimulating nature.

Re:Must he be the father? (2)

countach (534280) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393781)

I can picture some guy being stupid enough to go to mars just for all the shagging, but I'm not picturing any women being prepared to sign up.

Will they remember to bring everyone they need? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41392761)

Or will they forget the robots [angryflower.com] ?

Send Ship 'B' Now (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41392773)

Please. We beg you.

dibs (1, Insightful)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | more than 2 years ago | (#41392779)

I call dibs on first job interview for lead IT tech on the mars settlement.

Re:dibs (4, Funny)

CommieLib (468883) | more than 2 years ago | (#41392919)

Get ready for endless bitching about network latency.

Re:dibs (4, Funny)

Hillgiant (916436) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393391)

Don't worry. Once they solve the "there isn't any air" problem, the "there isn't any magnetosphere" problem, the "there isn't any water problem", and the "there isn't any soil" problem they will easily be able to whip up some FTL communications tech.

Re:dibs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41392937)

I call dibs on eating the first IT guy when he starves to death

Re:dibs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393201)

Your contract will probably be the equivalent of: "You work for us for 30 years for crappy pay in order to pay us back for transportation to Mars.

Re:dibs (4, Interesting)

mmmmbeer (107215) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393257)

And my answer will be, "Where do I sign!?"

Re:dibs (3, Interesting)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393625)

Exactly, I would be more than willing to work to pay my way to space at little to no pay, and if I were ever return to earth I would have on hell of a resume entry; though I would be more than willing to stay. Who gives fuck about pay and shitty hours and conditions, it's SPACE! My parents are friends with one of the engineers of the Canada arm [wikipedia.org] the robotic arm used (formerly) on the space shuttle and space station he had the chance to go to space but his wife threatened to leave him if he went up so he stayed. I would still be kicking myself if I were him.

Re:dibs (2)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393449)

What exactly are you going to need money for? I'm guessing that beer and hookers will not be available until the Wongs arrive, and there won't be much else in the way of luxuries. Even food variety will probably be about zero.

Re:dibs (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393485)

Your contract will probably be the equivalent of: "You work for us for 30 years for crappy pay in order to pay us back for transportation to Mars.

The pay is actually excellent. Buying oxygen at the company store, though...

How much dough does this man have!? (3, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#41392783)

I like (no, love!) the idea of colonists living in space.

On the other hand, has this man taken even a cursory glance at the spreadsheets before making such pronouncements?

For that many people, we're talking more money than he, Gates, and four other random billionaires combined have.

Re:How much dough does this man have!? (2, Funny)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#41392831)

Don't be silly!

It all depends on how you define "person"!

If you take the pro-life stance, you could send millions of people in a single trip, at lower levels of life support than you need to keep a container of mice alive!

(Course, turning them into productive colonists when they arrive is a problematic 18 year process, minimum...)

He might also decide to send midgets instead of full sized people, or any number of other shennanigans to cut the price.

Stop thinking inside the box over there!

Re:How much dough does this man have!? (1)

Denogh (2024280) | more than 2 years ago | (#41392969)

For that many people, we're talking more money than he, Gates, and four other random billionaires combined have.

If you're referring to the "hundreds of thousands" here, I think you misread the summary. As far as I could tell, TFA didn't say how many people he was planning to put on Mars. He's saying he'll finance the Mars colony with the fares he gets from his space tourism business. He's expects hundreds of thousands will pay Virgin Galactic.

Re:How much dough does this man have!? (2)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#41392979)

Elon Musk, as spectacularly successful at everything as he is, only originally planned to put a greenhouse on Mars. And he intended to take a total loss doing it, just to provide the world with the images of Earth greenery surviving there.

A cool idea, but I'm glad he built a viable space company instead.

Re:How much dough does this man have!? (2, Insightful)

DJ Jones (997846) | more than 2 years ago | (#41392991)

This is why we need to tax the rich more more than 10%.

Re:How much dough does this man have!? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393189)

To stop Martian colonization?

Re:How much dough does this man have!? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393253)

Well, that explains why the rich want to go to Mars . . . it's a tax dodge. Like having an official residence in Monaco, because they have no income tax there. I guess private Cayman Island style asset hiding banks like Julius Baer will be some of the first folks to set up business on tax-free Mars.

It would be good for Amazon, too:

"Pay state sales taxes? No way, dude, we're incorporated on Mars!"

Re:How much dough does this man have!? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393139)

Yes, I'm sure that he, as a billionaire, has no sense of how much things cost, or the ability to get things done. Certainly not more than you, a random hater on the internet.

Re:How much dough does this man have!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393273)

Yes, because we couldn't possibly bring down the cost per person as we scale upwards (pun intended).

Where All The Green Bitches At? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41392791)

Freaky deaky Richard Branson. He wants some green strange.

I'm trying not to judge.

Food? (1, Interesting)

A Friendly Troll (1017492) | more than 2 years ago | (#41392879)

How exactly do you feed people on the journey to Mars, what do they eat when they finally get there, and what type of food will even survive that long?

I haven't given this much thought, but it seems that food might be the hardest obstacle for longer travels. Screw muscle atrophy and bone density issues - how do you FEED travellers to Mars?

Re:Food? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41392931)

Freezedry it. The freezedry the passengers. They will technically be on mars, just frozen. They should last as long as the power does.

Re:Food? (2)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#41392935)

Algae?

Waterbears grown in a vat exposed to raw solar radiation in transit, collected and baked into a protein paste?

As long as you get rid of the notion of bigmacs and fries, and are willing to settle for "nutritious", things aren't so bad.

Re:Food? (1)

A Friendly Troll (1017492) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393021)

Can you even eat "nutritious" for two+ years on the journey? What does a protein paste do to your digestive system? What would the influences of radiation be on food; would the algae undergo mutation?

And once you get there, how do you grow more food and what kind?

Re:Food? (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393493)

Waterbears can survive extended periods in hard vacuum, and direct solar irradiation. (As in, no atmosphere. Raw, direct cosmic rays.)

They are little microscopic soft bodied animal organisms with 6 legs. Keep them moist, with plently of algae to eat, and they will flourish. Grow enough of them, and cook them into paste, and you have a very hardy food supply.

They can withstand 1,000 times the radiation you can. The ALGAE would probably die before they would.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tardigrade#section_2 [wikipedia.org]

Re:Food? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393885)

Or you could eat the algae.
Is it actually known that tardigrades provide essential amino acids lacking in algae, or is this an assumption?

Re:Food? (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393141)

Algae?

Waterbears grown in a vat exposed to raw solar radiation in transit, collected and baked into a protein paste?

As long as you get rid of the notion of bigmacs and fries, and are willing to settle for "nutritious", things aren't so bad.

Cool, I already eat vegan so it's not even a stretch to subsist on a goopy nigh-inedible paste.

Branson, I'm in.

Re:Food? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393501)

Cool, I already eat vegan so it's not even a stretch to subsist on a goopy nigh-inedible paste.

Murtogg: This dock is off-limits to civilians.
Jack Sparrow: I'm terribly sorry, I didn't know. If I see one, I shall inform you immediately.
[Jack makes to continue but is blocked by Murtogg and Mullroy]
Jack Sparrow: Apparently there's some sort of high-toned and fancy to-do up at the fort, eh? How could it be that two upstanding gentlemen, such as yourselves, did not merit an invitation?
Murtogg: Someone's got to make sure that this dock stays off-limits to civilians.
Jack Sparrow: It's a fine goal, to be sure. But it seems to me... that a ship like that one, makes this one here seem a bit superfluous, really.
Murtogg: Oh, the Dauntless is the power in these waters, true enough. But there's no ship as can match the Interceptor for speed.
Jack Sparrow: I've heard of one, supposed to be very fast, nigh uncatchable: The Black Pearl.
Mullroy: Well, there's no real ship as can match the Interceptor.
Murtogg: The Black Pearl is a real ship.
Mullroy: No, it's not.
Murtogg: Yes it is, I've seen it.
Mullroy: You've seen it?
Murtogg: Yes.
Mullroy: You haven't seen it.
Murtogg: Yes, I have.
Mullroy: You've seen a ship with black sails that's crewed by the damned, and captained by a man so evil that Hell itself spat him back out?
Murtogg: No.
Mullroy: No.
Murtogg: But I have seen a ship with black sails.
[Jack quietly slips passed them unnoticed]
Mullroy: Oh, and no ship that's not crewed by the damned and captained by a man so evil that Hell itself spat him back out could possibly have black sails, therefore couldn't possibly be any other ship than the Black Pearl. Is that what you're telling me?
Murtogg: [nods] No.
Mullroy: Like I said, there's no real ship as can match the Interceptor.

Re:Food? (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393785)

Either that's the wrong window or I don't get the reference.

Re:Food? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41392951)

You grow it, by recycling the biomass and using readily available sunlight. This has been understood for decades already. The problem now is getting it to work reliably in a microgravity environment.

Re:Food? (4, Informative)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | more than 2 years ago | (#41392997)

feed them things that are easy to grow and genetically modify,
yeast cheap easy and fast growing
algae is another great option and can be used to make clean air
fungus is another posibility
some plants would be easy to grow in a hydroponics system - lots of sprouts, and roots/ tubers(potatos, ginger, carrots, ect) and bamboo shoots can be grown repetitively quickly

Re:Food? (2)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393015)

You create a biodome. Which we haven't done successfully on Earth, let alone in space.

Re:Food? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393665)

You create a biodome. Which we haven't done successfully on Earth, let alone in space.

The concept of a biodome assumes that it is even possible to make a closed indefinitely sustainable ecosystem. Eventually the soil here on earth will be all "used up" for life as we know it now. With an ecosystem the size of earth it will take a very long time, in a small glass-bulb, not so much. The hope for Mars is to find something that likes to grow in rust and replace the soil and atmosphere with whatever you can find outside the biodome to avoid having to try the whole building an ecosystem that works better than earth.

Re:Food? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393103)

How exactly do you feed people on the journey to Mars, what do they eat when they finally get there, and what type of food will even survive that long?

Dude, canned food was invented over 200 years ago. Many military field reserve rations have a 20+ year shelf life. For a Mars colony you probably have to grow food but for a field mission you can bring freeze dried food and reuse filtered water. I see our current day rations are 3-400 grams freeze dried, 100-150 kg and you're good for a year.

Re:Food? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393119)

It takes something like 6-9 months to get to Mars. There are plenty of ordinary, shelf-staple foods that last many times that long. Freeze drying things would reduce weight substantially (and preserve foods), and water could be extracted from regolith, the air, or the northern polar cap, depending on the location and technologies determined to be most viable.

Sustaining crops for permanent settlement is more problematic, as there is no soil on Mars. Hydroponics might be doable. You could also set up regular deliveries from Earth - unmanned vehicles are cheaper, after all.

Re:Food? (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393631)

....no...SOIL on mars?

Really? What is the ground made of? You realize that "soil" is predominantly just ground up and weathered silicate mineral, right?

A useful soil for container gardening could be derived from martian soil, and human excrement. The excrement provides both the organic sponge, and the microbiotic floriculture.

True, you couldn't just poke seeds in the ground and expect magic to happen, since the martian surface is nonbiotic, and microbes are needed for plants to grow, but humans carry the required micrbes in copious supply inside their bowels.

I would think you could have container gardens running using washed martian soil and human dookie in just 2 weeks after building the greenhouse structures.

(You have to wash the mineral powder soils before use, because they contain high levels of perchlorate salts. Those would be useful fo atmosphere generation anyway, so removing them would be worthwhile regardless.)

One of the interesting things that the curiosity rover recently reported was the presence of clays on mars. If there are clays, and sand, then all you need is organic sponge. Eg- sewerage.

Re:Food? (1)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393877)

Really? What is the ground made of? You realize that "soil" is predominantly just ground up and weathered silicate mineral, right?

I agree with you that you can certainly make soil with appropriate fertilizer. I'm pretty sure that the poster you replied to was using a definition of soil that requires it to contain humus material.

a modest proposal (1)

aled (228417) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393153)

easy, just send them more people.

Re:Food? (1)

archetypeone (599370) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393175)

Soylent Green?

To what end? (1, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 2 years ago | (#41392887)

What are those people going to be doing on mars that will justify the enormous expense of keeping them alive? Ultimately this is the problem with most Mars or Moonbase plans: there needs to be a compelling reason to be there. Something you can't do on Earth or in Earth orbit. It's going to be hard to be productive when most of your energy is going to just keeping people alive.

If we had some magical way of getting the people there without spending millions of dollars on fuel alone it could be useful as a lark and to learn about survival in extreme environments, but the costs are just too high for someone (anyone) to fund a project like this out of their own pocket. For the price of setting up a Mars colony you could convert a sizable percentage of the worlds power requirements over to renewables for instance.

Re:To what end? (5, Interesting)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393047)

Compelling reasons: well, for starters, that colony would be insurance against an extinction-level asteroid impact here on Earth. So there's that.

I think wanting Mars-tronauts to be "productive" and whinging about the cost and the "enormous expense of keeping them alive" somewhat disqualifies you from this conversation. Humans moving beyond the confines of Earth is Manifest Destiny. It's inevitable. Man must always have frontiers, else, he is not Man.

Also, Richard Branson isn't requiring you to bless his spreadsheet, because his effort is privately funded. No one asked you if you thought it would be profitable.

(I'm all for renewables, but you can't demand that private individuals pay for solar panels for all of us. Realistically, it's probably a reasonable thing for an obscenely rich guy to do with his own money. He could be blowing it influencing elections or any number of worse things. Use your imagination.)

Re:To what end? (0)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393243)

Compelling reasons: well, for starters, that colony would be insurance against an extinction-level asteroid impact here on Earth. So there's that.

A Mars colony would be dependent on Earth for supplies for decades if not centuries. And a civilization that was capable of e.g. terraforming Mars would probably be capable of deflecting an asteroid anyway.

Humans moving beyond the confines of Earth is Manifest Destiny. It's inevitable. Man must always have frontiers, else, he is not Man.

Those frontiers might be virtual. One of the most interesting ideas in Vernor Vinge's novel Marooned in Realtime [amazon.com] (which I recommend to all Slashdotters -- he was thinking about the Singularity years before anyone else) is that instead of expanding into space, a sentient race might instead choose to move into a virtual reality, with all the infrastructure located so deep underground that it wouldn't have anything to worry about for millions of years. Yes, expansion might occur someday, but it doesn't have to occur so early in a race's history as you think.

Also, Richard Branson isn't requiring you to bless his spreadsheet, because his effort is privately funded

I would argue that a billionaire wanting to sink money into this when the technology isn't there yet, should be taxed higher so that the money can be directed towards more urgent things (I'm not talking necessary about feeding the poor or whatever, but at least some great investment in basic research).

Re:To what end? (4, Insightful)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393727)

So you want to tax the guy more because he want to pay to build and research the technology and build the space craft to advance us as a species? this guy is wanting to do more for humanity than the government would do. They (the government) would simply put it in the general fund or squander it on a war or pork barrel funds for campaign contributers.

Re:To what end? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393791)

I would argue that a billionaire wanting to sink money into this when the technology isn't there yet, should be taxed higher so that the money can be directed towards more urgent things (I'm not talking necessary about feeding the poor or whatever, but at least some great investment in basic research).

Where exactly do you think the money spent on space travel goes? Do you think they use it as fuel?
Every penny he spends on space travel creates new taxable job opportunities here on earth. The thing that should be taxed is sitting on a huge wealth without using it. This is pretty much one of the best things he can do to distribute his wealth to poorer people, just giving money away tends to not help anyone in the long run.

Re:To what end? (2)

erice (13380) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393451)

Compelling reasons: well, for starters, that colony would be insurance against an extinction-level asteroid impact here on Earth.

Aside from the small area that gets turned in a crater, everywhere on Earth post-impact will be more habitable than anywhere on Mars.

Even given a hypothetical event that somehow sterilizes the Earth, a Mars colony will only save you if they can be completely self sufficient. That means they need to be able to produce every piece of technology needed to keep the colony going from raw materials. Chips from sand. Metals would need to be extracted from mines on Mars. Chemicals produced from, perhaps, biological sources. (On Earth, most start from oil, and sometimes coal and natural gas. None of these exist on Mars)

The required population to do all that is probably in the millions.

Re:To what end? (1)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393901)

(On Earth, most start from oil, and sometimes coal and natural gas. None of these exist on Mars)

But you can make them. Especially "natural gas", which is pretty much just methane.

Re:To what end? (2)

Bo'Bob'O (95398) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393539)

Compelling reasons: well, for starters, that colony would be insurance against an extinction-level asteroid impact here on Earth. So there's that.

I think wanting Mars-tronauts to be "productive" and whinging about the cost and the "enormous expense of keeping them alive" somewhat disqualifies you from this conversation.

I believe that we absolutely should and must continue exploring the universe, continue with probes, satellites and occasionally maned space flight. However the idea of manifest destiny is purely ego. The universe doesn't need us. It won't miss us when we are gone whether we populated one planet or a trillion.

Our advancement and betterment is for our benefit alone. I can't really see how throwing ourselves off the planet on chemical rockets to live in tin cans leads to the betterment of anybody. It takes time, resources and energy from sciences that could have vastly greater long term benefits. Yes, it might help us get a head start on future engineering hurdles, and helps improve public interest, but frankly, the really interesting stuff is going to be happening down here on earth for a good while longer. If we bite it as a race, so what? If we don't, then we have only the benefits of our long-term investments to reap.

Re:To what end? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393903)

The universe doesn't need us. It won't miss us when we are gone whether we populated one planet or a trillion.

Our advancement and betterment is for our benefit alone. I can't really see how throwing ourselves off the planet on chemical rockets to live in tin cans leads to the betterment of anybody.

Who's "our"? I can't really see how restricting myself to carbon-neutral energy leads to the betterment of anybody. I'm going to be dead before the oceans rise enough to affect me.

It takes time, resources and energy from sciences that could have vastly greater long term benefits.

Define "long term". Because from where I sit, you're contradicting yourself.

If we bite it as a race, so what? If we don't, then we have only the benefits of our long-term investments to reap.

The ROI of extinction is -100%, and remaining on this rock guarentees it'll happen within a billion years or so when Earth becomes uninhabitable, or 4 billion years when the Sun fades out. The ROI of "a trillion" humans (implicitly a civilization that can migrate from star system to star system) may still end up being -100%, but it'll take until the heat death of the Universe before that happens.

If you're arguing that a Mars colony won't be self-sustaining for 100 (or 500, or 1000) years, you're probably correct. It took thousands of years for humans to migrate from Asia and colonize North and South America. (And, 10000 years later, it took another 500 years between the Vikings and the Renaissance before European colonists to finally get enough of a foothold take over.)

If that's too long a term for your long-term investing horizon, I refer you to my first remark: if we're going to go extinct, why should I be interested in the long-term consequences of my actions in any timeframe beyond my own lifespan?

Re:To what end? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393067)

Nobody said anything about keeping them alive.

Think of it as a human human Ponzi scheme - so long as you as shipping the punters up there faster than the previous ones are dying off then you'll have a (apparently) thriving population.

A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies!

Re:To what end? (2)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393143)

"The Marching Morons [wikipedia.org] " is a science fiction story written by Cyril M. Kornbluth, originally published in Galaxy in April 1951. It was included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two after being voted one of the best novellas up to 1965.
The story is set hundreds of years in the future: the date is 7-B-936. John Barlow, a man from the past put into suspended animation by a freak accident involving a dental drill and anesthesia, is revived in this future. The world seems mad to Barlow until Tinny-Peete explains the Problem of Population: Due to a combination of intelligent people not having children and excessive breeding by less intelligent people, the world is full of morons, with the exception of an elite few who work slavishly to keep order. Barlow, who was a shrewd real estate con man in his day, has a solution to sell to the elite, in exchange for being made World Dictator.

...

Barlow derives a solution based on his experience in scamming people into buying worthless land and knowledge of lemmings' mass migration into (and subsequent drowning in) the sea: convince the morons to travel to Venus in spaceships that will kill their passengers once they fly out of view of land (possibly, the story implies, because they are built by morons, though obtaining consistent destruction in the proper flight phase might be beyond their competence). (The story predates the Moon landing, and the safety of future space travel is summed up in a description of a rocket that crashed on the moon.) Propaganda depicts Venus as a tropical paradise, with "blanket trees," "ham bushes," and "soap roots." In a nationalistic frenzy, every country tries to send as many of their people to Venus as possible to stake their claim.
Barlow's help includes using his knowledge of Nazi propaganda tactics. Fake postcards are sent from the supposedly happy new residents of Venus to relatives left behind, describing the wonderful, easy life — in the same way as fraudulent postcards were sent to relatives of those imprisoned in the Nazi work-camps.

Re:To what end? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393207)

Cool - I'll have a read just a soon as I can get it onto my kindle. Thanks :-)
--
Anonymous Coward GP

Re:To what end? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393123)

For the price of setting up a Mars colony you could convert a sizable percentage of the worlds power requirements over to renewables for instance.

Do we have to send the money to Mars for that??!! If not, then you would be paying lots of people on Earth to produce what you need to setup a Mars colony and then the money could be used to convert power requirements to renewables for instace, no?! Money doesn't disappear after it's used, it's just in different hands... And it's money moving hands that keeps the world evolving. The more it moves, the more people it changes hands, the better... Some people will buy a new TV (that spends less energy), some will buy renewable power sources...

Re:To what end? (1)

antek9 (305362) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393157)

Ultimately this is the problem with most Mars or Moonbase plans: there needs to be a compelling reason to be there. Something you can't do on Earth or in Earth orbit.

Surviving an impact that kills all sentient life on earth is all the reason I need. Earth orbit or a sprawling Moon base might serve that purpose just as well, but the existing ISS is far too small and way to fragile to ensure our species' survival. And while it's unthinkable right now, Mars shows at least some promise of eventually enjoying some degree of terraforming. Until then, set up domes and indoor greenhouses to nurture the colonists, don't forget to send all the heavy machinery needed for exploring and mining the natural resources of the planet so that they can survive and thrive on their own, and, most important of all, ban all (Terran) religion. Let them have a fresh start.

Re:To what end? (1)

countach (534280) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393811)

I think the point is there needs to be a compelling reason THAT BENEFITS THOSE PAYING FOR IT. And that cost would be astronomical. Some abstract idea about preserving the human race doesn't actually motivate me to spend my tax dollars on it.

Re:To what end? (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393873)

no don't ban religion in space, religion is great for colonies religious groups through out time have been more than willing to go to colonize new land knowing that they could not return which would be true for most astronauts on a mars colony. And their being no indigenous life on mars there would be no moral complications of destroying the native culture because there is none. Puls religion provides hope to people hope would be something people far away from all other life in a inhospitable enviroment with no chance of return would need. nihilist in space is a very bad idea.

just be clear about what religion (no scientologist would not be a good one unless they are on the B ship) and weed out the crazies, nut jobs, go for the tolerant forgiving, middle of the road type, not the hardline evangelical, or the birth control is evil crowd (no birth control in space with limited life support systems would be a very bad combo) or the kill the infidel/heritic/heathen/"doesn't look sound act like me" type

Re:To what end? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393199)

I can see a Moonbase being practical in the sense you could have a giant radio antenna without any Earth signal interference on the far side of the Moon. It is easier to get to and fewer dust storms would be good.

Building a space elevator on the Moon would be pretty cool too.

There should be enough money to do that and switch over to renewables though. I've made the switch.

Re:To what end? (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393513)

Spending money on something nobody else is spending money on. This is harder than it seems to be for us mere-mortals, once you're flirting with your n-th billion of dollars. (n>1)

Re:To what end? (1)

stevenfuzz (2510476) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393681)

Well at first it will be purely scientific, as they study the giant ancient pyramid believed to be capable of creating oxygen. But, as the population increases, it will become both a vacation destination for the adventurous and a distant life for the down and out. Obviously, from here a class system will evolve between the mutants and the 1%. Luckily, The Terminator will finally show up, in a dream, and rip shit up.

Re:To what end? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393845)

Compelling reasons are nice, but should not be required to justify exploration. And as useful as probes can be, a manned exploration mission would accomplish so much more. A manned exploration mission that does not need to return to Earth is imperative to keep the costs down as well as allow the manned explorers to be able to focus on other things than getting the fuel together to go home.

Not knowing what will be discovered is not a reason to not attempt discovery. Is it a priority? No. But without going there who knows if we will ever have a compelling reason. If nothing else, a colony on mars is closer to the rest of the solar system. A mission there would also be a good trial for missions to other planets in the future.

Re:To what end? (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393893)

If we had some magical way of getting the people there without spending millions of dollars on fuel alone

We do : Nuclear Thermal Rockets [wikipedia.org] also the proposed Project Orion [wikipedia.org] .

Unfortunately both these obvious solutions require the use of the emotionally-charged "nuclear" word, which means the FUD-mongers will NEVER let it happen.

Seriously (1)

p0p0 (1841106) | more than 2 years ago | (#41392905)

How can you not love this guy?

Re:Seriously (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 2 years ago | (#41392953)

He's a 1%er.

Re:Seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393007)

He's a 1%er.

You mean, he actually built something?

Good for him.

Because without guys like him, you'd be sitting in a cave starving wondering when the real men were going to get home with your dinner.

Re:Seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393219)

Wow, you are a monster.

Re:Seriously (3, Insightful)

isorox (205688) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393061)

How can you not love this guy?

He's great at publicity. Let's talk Mars when he's got people doing regular low-orbit flights.

Great! (2)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393011)

Everything else about this man, his wealth, or his goals aside - this is a good thing. A great thing. Having people with the resources to make progress pushing us to get off our dumpy human butts and really settle space beyond our own planet is going to be a net win for our species. It will lead to more jobs, advances in technology, advances in art (I can't wait to read the first poems written by native Martians!). We'll up our chances of surviving a number of extinction level events, and edge ourselves ever closer to exploring beyond our tiny little solar system. To get us started, it just takes an insane impulse, strong will, and the resources to burn. Full speed ahead!

Dubious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393029)

The last time a human left Eartth's orbit was 40 years ago (Apollo 17 mission in 1972), not sure why it's suddenly going to happen again now.

Determined (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393091)

and insane are not mutually exclusive.

Just saying ...

Tired of the red plannet, me too! (1)

mikeiver1 (1630021) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393105)

So tired of hearing about sending doomed people to the red planet. This is an engineering task so vast in scope and financial cost that it is going to have to be multiple countries working together in such a way that they never have, and likely never will, to get and stay there, alive. It is laudable that the likes of Branson and Musk are willing to spend vast sums of investors wealth to try and get there but to what end? To say that they did it? So what! Start on the moon, likely Heinlein was rather accurate about how things could unfold in getting there and possible ways of exchanging materials. It would also be a far more accessible local if something were to go wrong with at least a slim chance of rescue or escape. Energy harvesting the whole solar cycle could also be easier since the cold on the dark side is in the area where super conductors start to work. Communication is far simpler as well and does not require a dish the size of a small city. The delay is shorter too.

Just make a reality TV show! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393147)

These guys want to do it by 2023 - one way trip with a reality show...I'd sign up if it wasn't for the TV aspect. A bunch of stinky meat bags crammed into a tin can with no make up artists...I'm sure it'll be great.

http://mars-one.com/en/

Alternative Headline (1)

19061969 (939279) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393183)

Alternative headline: "Branson wants to fuck off to Mars." Can't wait.

Overly optimistic (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393215)

Populating Mars. Hundreds of thousands of people in space. It's a nice dream, but there's some serious limitations that he's going to have to overcome.
Simply put, space is expensive. Unless we developed some sort of space elevator, we'd have to burn a hell of a lot of fuel to get people into space, not to mention all the supplies they'd need to sustain themselves for any length of time. And you would have to have some reason for them to go. Some way to make money up there. Like mining the moon for fuel. Or gathering rare-earth materials from asteroids. The old-hat idea in sci-fi books was that manufacturing in zero-G would have some sort of miraculous benefit which would justify the cost.

There are loads of other benefits if we can develop the sort of material that would be needed for a space elevator. Long lasting ribbons of carbon-nanotubes giga-pascals strong. I'm just saying there are a few other applications other than a space elevator. And once you have something to climb, it's not like you can simply ride the thing to the top. At 90 miles an hour, it would still be a week before you reached GEO. You have to power it somehow. Wireless energy transmission, like with lasers or something is looking like the best bet at the moment, and there are still serious issues and limitations to be overcome.

And sadly, some of these limitations may never be overcome. Alternatives may never be found. It might simply be impossible.

But it'd be a really good thing to try and overcome those problems. Good as in the advancement of the human species sort of good.

Of course, this guy is probably a little out of touch. Did he really use the term "ordinary" next to a price tag of $200,000?

This is great news (1)

No2Gates (239823) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393217)

I can think of a LOT of people that I would love to see on Mars. That way we could clean up our planet by creating another Botany Bay and sending some politicians and criminals to Mars.
Hey, it worked for Australia...

Re:This is great news (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393911)

ah the B ship approach, according to Douglas Adams it worked for to populate earth didn't it?

You are missing the point (1)

tatman (1076111) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393221)

Branson and the others are assuming the costs of transporting and maintaining life on Mars drops exponentially in the next 10 to 15 yrs to make it plausible. I really doubt they are basing this projection on current costs and efforts required.

Cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393331)

What's the cost of putting someone in space, vs grown in orbit?

There's a more sinister aspect to this... (1)

satanclause (2626589) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393333)

In another 2,000 years, in one of the Martian churches of The Blessed Richard, children will be taught how the creator looked out over the land and saw it was arid and lifeless.

On the first day, The Blessed Richard said, "let there be light", and there was light. On the second day, The Blessed Richard said, "let there be water", and the canals of Mars were over-flowing with water... You get the picture?

Oh, and the first book of Martian scripture can't be called Genesis because Phil Collins has it copyrighted!

Management Skills (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393347)

I sure hope he's better at running a space colony than he is at running a cell phone company.

Musk makes remarkable allusion to the Great Filter (4, Insightful)

D4C5CE (578304) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393349)

that would explain the Fermi Paradox of "where are they (intelligent species in space) ?" [wikipedia.org] :

now for the first time in almost four billion years, it's been possible - very difficult, but possible - for life to extend to another planet. [...] who knows how long that window will be open?

'Determined To Start a Population On Mars' (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393393)

... 'Determined To Start a Population On Mars'

Worker drones.

Am I the only one against terraforming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393445)

The human race fucked this planet up; so I don't understand why they believe they have some right to go fuck up other celestial bodies. (Moon, etc.)

Leave Mars alone.

What do these guys know that we don't? (1)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393471)

What do these guys know that we don't?

Seriously, this sounds way out there. But then again, heavyer than air flight did sound so too, just a few years before the wright brothers finally found a solution to all the problems Lilienthal and others had been battling with. As did portable mass market Cray 2 supercomputers you can hold in your hand and make phonecalls with. ... And are mostly used to make fart noises and play Angrybirds.

Another question would be: For these guys to be right, which three things would be the most important to get developed within the next 10 years to make mass space travel and exploration viable?

From the top of my head, I get this:

- Massive cheap manotechnology or some sort comes to mind, for building a space elevator or some kind of super-cheap super-fuel, or both. Also supercheap super sturdy space ship hulls and stuff.

- Some serious biotech, maybe mixed with nanotech, to provide for pratically endless food, recycling of waste of all kinds and huge, i.e. magical advancements in medicine.

- What else? Don't know ... any ideas what we still need? ... Oh, yes, a completly new energy source. Something like Mr. Fusion in "Back to the Future". Nothing short of that will get us into space in a way Branson envisions it.

I'd says the following is given: Nobody is flying to mars using conventional recycling techniques like chemical air refreshment and nobodys ever doing large scale space travel with todays conventional launching techniques. If there will be mass space travel, some sort of space elevator or sänger flying machines will have to be involved. That's what I would guess anyway.

I'm sorry, I don't see Bransons or Musks Vision come true anytime soon, not in my lifetime I expect. ... But please, go ahead and do prove me wrong.

My 2 cents.

Cavity search anyone? (1)

ski9826 (2541112) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393481)

Imagine how bad TSA is going to be on your pre-flight screening to go into space!

Re:Cavity search anyone? (1)

stevenfuzz (2510476) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393697)

Just get a giant fat women suit and you will be fine.

Mars One (1)

eWarz (610883) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393559)

Clearly he hasn't heard of Mars One [mars-one.com]

Richard Branson Determind... (3, Funny)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393641)

Mrs Branson not so keen.

ywah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393719)

. Or maybe an astronaut. Yeah. Like, be the first motherfucker to see a new galaxy, or find a new alien lifeform... and fuck it. And people'd be like, "There he goes. Homeboy fucked a Martian once.

union jackoff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41393745)

better a brit then some crazed Yankee

Branson vs Gingrich (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 2 years ago | (#41393767)

So we now have Richard "Martian" Branson vs Newton "Moonbase" Gingrich? FIGHT!!

Of course the way things are going it's likely that either India or China will win both those races.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?