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Millionaire Plans Mission To Mars In 2018

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the mars-needs-millionaires dept.

Mars 97

littlesparkvt writes in with news about the possibility of a privately funded Mars mission. "Millionaire Dennis Tito became the first paying customer to make a trip to the International Space Station and now he wants to launch a privately funded mission to Mars in 2018. Dennis paid a reported 20 Million to ride aboard a Russian rocket to the International Space Station and has since stayed out of the spotlight, until now. There’s no word whether the trip will include humans, there will be more information on that fact next week. Considering there is little time to train a crew for the mission the flight in 2018 will most likely be an unmanned probe. There’s also a possibility that the first mission to Mars from this private investor will harbor supplies for future astronauts. Plants and food are a possibility as they would take much less space than a full human crew."

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Tito presenting paper on *crewed* flight in March (5, Informative)

Saint Aardvark (159009) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973953)

From http://www.newspacejournal.com/2013/02/21/new-insights-on-that-private-crewed-mars-mission/ [newspacejournal.com] :

This publication obtained a copy of the paper Tito et al. plan to present at the conference, discussing a crewed free-return Mars mission that would fly by Mars, but not go into orbit around the planet or land on it. This 501-day mission would launch in January 2018, using a modified SpaceX Dragon spacecraft launched on a Falcon Heavy rocket. According to the paper, existing environmental control and life support system (ECLSS) technologies would allow such a spacecraft to support two people for the mission, although in Spartan condition. âoeCrew comfort is limited to survival needs only. For example, sponge baths are acceptable, with no need for showers,â the paper states.

The IEEE Aerospace Conference is in March [aeroconf.org] -- next month. That's pretty interesting timing.

Re:Tito presenting paper on *crewed* flight in Mar (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42973989)

Not as evil as Ubuntu £inux. Shuttleworth probably wants to go to Mars to setup black ops NSA listening devices to spy on Mongolians and Gypsies (the two groups who refuse to convert) like that enterprise episode with the vulcans and andorians. It's not enough that ubuntu is evil on earth it has to spread its evil across the stars. Judgement is at hand.

Re:Tito presenting paper on *crewed* flight in Mar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42974037)

It makes perfect sense when you consider the fact that Ubuntu's dev team won't make Ubuntu compatible with the best selling hit new release Aliens: Colonial Marines.

Re:Tito presenting paper on *crewed* flight in Mar (2)

Alex Vulpes (2836855) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976317)

Interesting... this actually sounds possible. Although, Elon Musk himself said you wouldn't want to go to Mars in a Dragon. The astronauts would have to spend over a year in a small capsule, and Musk figured if someone did that they'd likely come back insane, if at all.

Re:Tito presenting paper on *crewed* flight in Mar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42976701)

Besides, can a dragon carry the kind of shielding necessary to hold off the charged particle radiation for such a long deep-space trip?

Re:Tito presenting paper on *crewed* flight in Mar (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year and a half ago | (#42978895)

Have we gotten the results from Curiosity's measurements during it's trip? I haven't seen anything come up but I thought that was one of the big things we were looking for - actual data on what to expect.

Re:Tito presenting paper on *crewed* flight in Mar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42986379)

This may be stupid but how about strapping feeding tubes to the two people and putting them to sleep for the 500 day trip to mars then waking them up when they reach the destination? Or perhaps a cycle of them being awake every fortnight for a few hours then putting them back to sleep.

Not exactly cryo-chambers but heck it would work I think.

Re:Tito presenting paper on *crewed* flight in Mar (4, Funny)

CanEHdian (1098955) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976645)

From http://www.newspacejournal.com/2013/02/21/new-insights-on-that-private-crewed-mars-mission/ [newspacejournal.com] :

Mars mission that would fly by Mars, but not go into orbit around the planet or land on it.

Right. Tell your kids: "let's go to McDonalds!" Load them up in the car. Drive to McD's, just drive past it, return home. Let's see how well that goes does for "going to McDonalds".

Re:Tito presenting paper on *crewed* flight in Mar (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977643)

What happens when you decide to visit the Great Lakes? You break out the SCUBA gear?

Re:Tito presenting paper on *crewed* flight in Mar (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year and a half ago | (#42978199)

What happens when you decide to visit the Great Lakes? You break out the SCUBA gear?

Absolutely! http://www.greatlakesdivecenter.com/ [greatlakesdivecenter.com]

Re:Tito presenting paper on *crewed* flight in Mar (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977633)

If that's accurate then either he's putting it forward as an "earliest possible" estimate to build hype, or he sorely overestimates people's ability to put up with bare minimum living conditions.

I do not think that the crew would be psychologically capable of performing mission-critical functions outside of the first month. Spam in a can.

He better be a billionaire... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42973961)

with a 'b' if he intends to go to and return from Mars.

Re:He better be a billionaire... (2)

cstdenis (1118589) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976095)

Who said anything about return?

Re:He better be a billionaire... (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976555)

with a 'b' if he intends to go to and return from Mars.

You are off by a factor of a thousand. He would need to be a trillionaire, with a 't', and no individual human has ever come close to that. The Curiosity Rover Mission [wikipedia.org] cost about $2.5 billion, and that was for a go-and-stay robot. A go-and-return human mission is projected to cost over a trillion. A go-and-stay human mission might be done for $100 billion, but would require follow-on missions to be viable.

 

Re:He better be a billionaire... (3, Insightful)

DeBaas (470886) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976699)

I believe that NASA needs to be a 'trillionaire'. No offence to NASA, but I believe that with the right idea and a smaller organisation it might actually be possible for much less money.

Re:He better be a billionaire... (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year and a half ago | (#42978029)

I have a hypothesis that NASA's at a disadvantage because the components of any manned mission have to be reusable parts of a larger-scale human space exploration strategy. They could go to the moon relatively easily back in the '60s because there was no "after Apollo". If the objective at the time had been to establish a permanent station orbiting Earth, then go to the moon, then establish a moon base etc. etc. then I dare say it would've taken longer to achieve any one step.

Put another way, it's easier to climb a mountain than establish a home there.

Fortunately it's not a race and I'd happily see NASA work on the longer-term stuff and let other people get the "firsts".

Re:He better be a billionaire... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42976785)

The Curiosity Rover Mission [wikipedia.org] cost about $2.5 billion, and that was for a go-and-stay robot. A go-and-return human mission is projected to cost over a trillion.

If handled the same way the Curiosity project was done.
The materials and workforce to get the shit done is unlikely to be more that 200 million, the high cost in the space projects you reefer to is probably because of extreme safety precautions (Where a lot of them could have been skipped without actually reducing safety.), testing and mainly administration.
In comparison the Curiosity Rover Mission cost more than the entire annual Russian space budget and within that budget they still move people back and forth to the space station.

Just because something costs way too much in your experience doesn't mean that it can't be done cheaper.

Re:He better be a billionaire... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year and a half ago | (#42978091)

the high cost in the space projects you reefer to is probably because of extreme safety precautions (Where a lot of them could have been skipped without actually reducing safety.)

The problem is knowing which ones you can safely skip.

Re:He better be a billionaire... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42979921)

There are standards for machinery relevant to human safety.
The only reason to spend more on safety for space-travel than on the rides in an amusement park is because of the high profile but there is no moral reason to do so.

Re:He better be a billionaire... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42977119)

Nah, he is just probably from Europe: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_and_short_scales

Umm.. Why duplicate effort??? (4, Interesting)

LVSlushdat (854194) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973963)

If Dennis is got the $$$ to float this kind of a plan, why the hell doesn't he get onboard with the Mars-One group? They actually have a pretty fleshed-out plan to put human colonists on Mars starting in 2023. They could really use a large influx of $$$ to get their plan going.. From what I've read, they have it pretty well planned out to send the first 4 colonists to Mars in 2023, but still need a lot more sponsors/funding...

Re:Umm.. Why duplicate effort??? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42974005)

Because this is about launching investments not spaceships.

Either that or it's the old standby of crazy doesn't mix with crazy

Re:Umm.. Why duplicate effort??? (4, Interesting)

Sir or Madman (2818071) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974067)

The two ideas are perfectly compatible. Tito's mission could be a proof-of-concept for actually getting people out that far and back. The Mars-One people could learn from his mistakes.

Correction: the The Mars-One people -must- learn from Tito's mistakes because there will be many and Mars-One has pretty lofty goals. Even going to our moon required baby steps, unmanned satellites, first dog in space, first person in orbit, etc.

Re:Umm.. Why duplicate effort??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42978211)

The first dog on mars will be one sad dog...

Because he wants to come home again (4, Informative)

IdahoEv (195056) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974129)

The Mars One people have no intention to bring anyone home. Presumably Tito wants his ass back on the Earth someday.

This is a farce anyway. Tito's net worth is more than a full order of magnitude too small for even the cheapest conceviable Mars mission.

Re:Because he wants to come home again (4, Insightful)

norpy (1277318) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974383)

You forget how deep the gravity well of mars is, It's not like the moon where you can pretty much just jump to put yourself into orbit around it.
Mars is more like taking off from earth, and the weight of all that fuel would never make it out of *our* gravity well let alone landing it safely and taking off again at the other end.
Until we have the ability to synthesize or mine more fuel at the other end of the trip and land a reusable launch module the trip to mars is one-way.

This is either a plan for one-way mission or it's a scam (or both?)

Re:Because he wants to come home again (4, Informative)

TrevorB (57780) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974763)

Apparently 2018 has an opportunity for a 501 day free-return trajectory. It could just be a flyby.

Re:Because he wants to come home again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42975655)

You don't have to send it all at once, you know. And you don't have to land all the fuel on the planet. Landing the fuel on the planet only to use it for liftoff is just plainly fucking dumb.
 
And the gravity of Mars is less than 40% of the Earth. Less than 3 times that of the moon. Saying "Mars is more like taking off from earth" is a bit of hyperbole.

Re:Because he wants to come home again (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976215)

It is a FLY-BY. As such, it is MUCH cheaper to do.

Re:Because he wants to come home again (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976219)

Zubrin of the Mars Society already addressed this issue. You don't take the fuel with you, you make it on Mars. His plan is to send a "fuel factory" to Mars many months in advance. This machinery would extract fuel from the CO2 atmosphere. I don't recall the exact details, but might be as simple as separating the carbon and oxygen. He suggests powering it with nuclear reactors, but I wonder if solar would be better, if slower.

As to Tito's plans, it's hard to say. There seems ample reason for cynicism. Scam? Sincere but pie in the sky wishful thinking? What reason do we have to take this guy seriously? What is he trying to prove? I wonder if this is as much propaganda as anything, trying to demonstrate that billionaires are the people best suited to advance humanity, that The Man with vision is the source of progress, and scientists need firm guidance to harness their creativity. If that's what this is all about, he won't get far. Mars is much too difficult for some arrogant billionaire to simply buy with a big enough payment. Mars is also something of a will-o-wisp. It's just the sort of flashy thing that a rich publicity hound would go for, when there are so many other, better and more profound if less spectacular things that could be done with the money.

Re:Because he wants to come home again (1)

tragedy (27079) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976879)

Zubrin of the Mars Society already addressed this issue. You don't take the fuel with you, you make it on Mars. His plan is to send a "fuel factory" to Mars many months in advance. This machinery would extract fuel from the CO2 atmosphere. I don't recall the exact details, but might be as simple as separating the carbon and oxygen. He suggests powering it with nuclear reactors, but I wonder if solar would be better, if slower.

The plan is to send an advance robot mission to make methane and oxygen for rocket fuel from the Martian atmosphere for the return trip. It could be made with Martian water, broken down with electrolysis, but Zubrin doesn't rely on being able to take advantage of in situ water. Instead, he suggests sending liquid hydrogen and a nuclear reactor. The hydrogen is reacted with CO2 extracted from the atmosphere to make methane and water through the Sabatier process, then the water is subjected to electrolysis to produce O2 and to recover some of the hydrogen to go back through the process. The end result would be a multiplication of, for example, one ton of hydrogen to 4 tons of methane and 8 tons of oxygen, which would be used as return fuel. He also suggests producing more oxygen for a better fuel mix by directly cracking CO2, although exactly how that's to be done optimally is a bit less well understood. Landing somewhere with in situ water to operate with would eliminate the need to crack CO2 and even the need to bring along hydrogen. On the other hand, extracting frozen groundwater with remote units might be a challenge, although some interesting ideas have been floated for microwaving frozen groundwater. The big problem would be surveying for it. Zubrin's idea is to keep it simple by extracting in situ resources from the atmosphere, which comes directly to your compressor and doesn't present a lot of surprises.

Zubrin is very enthusiastic about the nuclear reactor as power source. Once again, I think it's the idea of keeping it simple. Not that a nuclear reactor is necessarily simple, but, once it's designed and built, a properly automated nuclear reactor could sit on a rover and operate without having to do anything complicated. Zubrin calls for a 100 kilowatt reactor (apparently 100 kilowatts electric) with a mass of about 3500 kilograms. It's worth noting that, if you could actually get the pu-238, an RTG using 500 kg of Stirling engines at around 23% efficiency could produce about 372 kilowatts of electrical power. Of course, although shielding wouldn't be too much of a problem, dealing with the 1.6 megawatts of heat during transit might be a challenge. Some lightweight solar panels can also provide similar power levels for the mass, but you have the problem of trying to have robots lay out a solar array. So, the nuclear reactor seems to be the best choice for a simple, self-contained advance mission. The actual reactor doesn't seem to exist yet, however various similar reactors have been made in the past. Examples are the Topaz and Topaz II reactors. I can't find actual output figures for the Topaz II, but they were apparently shooting for 40 kilowatts (electric) from a reactor with about a 1000 kg mass, so if it was practical, the 3500 kg reactor producing 100 kilowatts would be. The Topaz I managed 5 kilowatts (electric) from a 320 kg reactor. Scaling that up (or just strapping a bunch together) would give about 54.7 kilowatts. Of course, it used some sort of thermocouple to produce power at very poor efficiency. A Stirling engine based design would quadruple the electrical output.

Overall, Zubrin's plan seems pretty good. It still needs a lot of pieces built that aren't presently in existence as off the shelf products, but none of the technologies are wildly speculative. It looks like it' still going to be a good long while before anyone pulls all the pieces together, however.

Re:Because he wants to come home again (4, Informative)

tragedy (27079) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976667)

You don't seem to have actually read the post you're replying to. IdahoEV doesn't seem to have any illusions for you to correct.

You seem to have some illusions about the relative difficulties of launching from various celestial bodies, however. First of all, you can't even get remotely close to orbiting the Moon by jumping there. Perhaps you were confusing our Moon with Deimos, where you really could pull that off with a good leap. On the moon, the minimum you need for orbit is about 1.5 km/s, which is a bit hard to achieve. You wouldn't be able to manage it even if you could jump tall buildings in a single bound back on Earth.

The escape velocity of the Moon is about 2.4 km/s. The escape velocity of Mars is about 5 km/s. For Earth, it's about 11.2 km/s. So Mars has just over twice the escape velocity of the Moon and Earth has a bit more than twice the escape velocity of Mars. That makes taking off from Mars more like taking off from the Moon than it is like taking off from the Earth, especially so when you consider the near-vacuum of the atmosphere. The Apollo ascender was about 56% fuel by mass, but only had to achieve about 1.7 km/s to meet up with the command module. A Mars mission would similarly only need to achieve about 3.36 km/s (Mars Odyssey orbit, for reference). Using the ideal rocket equation, that means that a Mars ascender with comparable specific impulse to the Apollo ascender would need about a 3 to 1 propellant to payload ratio. That's idealized, of course. It might actually be something like 5 to 1. It's more than the Moon, but it's not some ridiculously unattainable ratio. We can also certainly get it out of our gravity well, even if we need to launch the lander dry and fill it in orbit. As far as landing goes, the thin atmosphere of Mars, while fairly launch friendly, still offers significant aerobraking potential. Enough that the amount of fuel you need for landing your lander + ascender + fuel for ascension shouldn't need to be more than the amount of fuel you need for ascension.

Anyway, in the end, fuel is cheap in space travel. It's going to be something like 1% of the budget for even a big, dumb rocket. There clearly will be a lot needed for a Mars mission, but it's not one of those cases where the requirements rapidly grow ridiculously out of bounds and you need a mountain worth of fuel to send an apple there and back.

Re:Because he wants to come home again (0)

Reservoir Penguin (611789) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977851)

If executed by a wasteful government agency, sure. With clever outsourcing easily done.

Re:Because he wants to come home again (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year and a half ago | (#42978111)

Isn't it a slight flaw that you would require volunteers who were insane?

When they got to Mars they'd probably decide to go naked sunbathing or something.

Re:Because he wants to come home again (1)

Sigg3.net (886486) | about a year and a half ago | (#42988683)

The Mars One people have no intention to bring anyone home.

I can probably arrange this for 40% of the cost. Give me a call!
???
Profit!!

Re:Umm.. Why duplicate effort??? (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976123)

2018 is a good year. Mars will be at about 57 M miles. One has to wait until 2035 to do better and that's only a million miles closer. 2023 isn't a particularly good year.

Because Mars-one will fail. (2)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976205)

Mars-one really is not that well thought out or fleshed out. In fact, I doubt that it will ever get off the ground. The fact that they want to use dragons to live in indicates that they will NEVER be taken seriously. Any plan that has ppl living on the surface will NEVER work. Not only do you have meteorites, BUT, you have large amounts of radiation. As such, unless you live underground, you will have a short life. In addition, they want the trans-habitat unit to be from thales. IOW, they want a unit from the ISS and europe. OK, except that once out of earth's orbit, you will have LARGE amounts of scatter radiation due to the metal. When Boeing/NASA built the first units, it was KNOWN that this was in LEO and therefore under earth protection. Once you get past our magnashere, that is gone. Unless you have small magnetic shielding, OR, you use something that does not produce scatter, then you doom the crew to short lives. Bigelow has the best approach on this and yet, Mars-one appears to be more interested in using local companies over what is safest.

What Tito wants is to show that we can send a crew to mars and back. We did that with Apollo, which makes sense. However, I would rather go to an asteroid that is say 1-2 months away and then come back after a week stay. That would prove the equipment, while giving us an opportunity to deal with light G work. This would actually make it possible to put a BA-330 on Phobos. That could then be used as an emergency base, but also as a launch point from/to the the martian surface.

Re:Because Mars-one will fail. (2)

tftp (111690) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976345)

However, I would rather go to an asteroid that is say 1-2 months away and then come back after a week stay.

The asteroid belt is farther than Mars. I guess you could do a flyby of one that is coming closer to Earth, but that is difficult because of wildly different speeds of your vehicle and the rock.

However in every other aspect your plan is much better. Once you are in the Belt you can get by with minimum amount of fuel because gravity there is microscopic. The volume of the Belt is tremendous, and you can find everything there. It could be the new New World. Our technology is already capable of reaching the Belt and supporting self-sustaining colonies there. In the Belt you would fly your spaceship between asteroids just as easily as you drive your car to the store on Earth. The same technology is not going to work on Mars; it would require billions of dollars - essentially, support of the whole planet - to send an expedition to Mars and to return them, just because Mars is so inconvenient for landing and so massive for takeoff. We won't even be able to fly over Mars, unless on jet propulsion.

Mars might be a better site for a space elevator, though, with not too much atmosphere to cause oscillations of the cables, with no flying vehicles that can be taken by terrorists, and with an obvious need for easy access to the surface.

Re:Because Mars-one will fail. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976575)

Actually, we have LOADS of asteroids close to earth. BUT, as you say, we do not know all of them, their speeds, etc. However, NASA is now studying just that.
BUT, Mars will never be that close to us. It will remain 6 months out, until we get nuke engines. So, I like the idea of putting a small base such as BA-330 on phobos for a short term stay, but more importantly, as a rescue ship. It might be possible to put one of these inside of a cavern there, and ideally seal the cavern. With a small nuke genarator, it would help warm it up. Regardless, it would also protect humans from radiation.

Re:Because Mars-one will fail. (1)

Reservoir Penguin (611789) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977873)

The whole radiation exposure is suspect to begin with. One can surely die from a huge doze from acute radiation sickness, but chronic exposure not so much. There are hundreds of people who never left the mandatory exclusion zone around Chrenobyl who are doing just fine almost 30 years later.

Re:Because Mars-one will fail. (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979365)

There are hundreds of people who never left the mandatory exclusion zone around Chrenobyl who are doing just fine almost 30 years later.

That's only because they can use their tentacle to harvest fish from the river

Re:Because Mars-one will fail. (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year and a half ago | (#42978193)

This would actually make it possible to put a BA-330 on Phobos.

Geez, while you're there, why not just start teleportation experiments to Deimos?

Re:Because Mars-one will fail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42980919)

I see what you did there. Doom FTW.

Millionaire to Mars (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973991)

Reality calling the world:

Millionaire: green eggs and ham.
Mars: the sky has a dome.

Result? You are all going to hell.

http://mapfortu.wikidot.com/ [wikidot.com]

No humans (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974007)

He doesn't have the money.

Re:No humans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42974139)

What's his net worth? I found something quoting $200 million, which would be well short of the cost of even an unmanned Mars mission. He'll have to get other investors.

Re:No humans (3, Insightful)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974233)

What's his net worth? I found something quoting $200 million, which would be well short of the cost of even an unmanned Mars mission. He'll have to get other investors.

Lots of other investors.

And why would you invest billions for an unmanned mission, which has already been done several times? This sounds an awful lot like someone with a big ego and some money to waste.

He really needs to read this [universetoday.com] before spending any money.

Re:No humans (4, Interesting)

tlambert (566799) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974965)

What's his net worth? I found something quoting $200 million, which would be well short of the cost of even an unmanned Mars mission. He'll have to get other investors.

I'm pretty sure that really depends on who he's going to have build the equipment, and whether he's willing to do it in a country which will happily ignore patent licensing.

The DC-X was completed in 21 months by a team of 100 people, at a cost of around 60 million in 1991 dollars. That'd be ~$100M today, assuming we learned exactly zilch from the first one. If he's willing to build SSTO vehicles, and he's willing to cut some corners based on what was already learned in previous research, and he's willing to go to a non-US friendly country who won't cooperate on preventing it, the costs go down.

Venezuela could be a candidate, and so could a couple of the former Soviet Republics. A DC-X with a patent-ignoring linear aerospike engine would likely be a pretty sweet vehicle. If he's willing to sell launch services on the things for a while, he could probably raise any additional funding rather quickly. If he's willing to sell completed spacecraft to anyone who wanted to buy one at a hefty markup, he could probably do it even faster.

It's not that far outside the realm of possibility for someone with 1/5th of a billion dollars to consider. Especially if you consider that launch costs have been pretty intentionally inflated up to this point.

Re:No humans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42976809)

I'm pretty sure that really depends on who he's going to have build the equipment, and whether he's willing to do it in a country which will happily ignore patent licensing.

The U.S. pretty much ignores patent licensing for every non-U.S. patent. I suspect that most nations do the same.
What he need to find is a nation that is willing to let any patent infringement slide as long as he works on a space project for them.

Nations like China and the former Soviet Republics actually enforce IP-rights reasonably well, but just like the U.S. they only protect their local businesses, not overseas ones.

Re:No humans (1)

DMiax (915735) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976987)

The DC-X was completed in 21 months by a team of 100 people, at a cost of around 60 million in 1991 dollars.

And it only flew for some test flights never actually reaching orbit. The design may be great, but it is not complete. So we have 100M as an estimated cost for a prototype, how much do you think the full project would be?

Microsoft Plans Mission To Mars (2)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974073)

Did anyone else do a double take reading the headline?

Re:Microsoft Plans Mission To Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42974465)

No.

Re:Microsoft Plans Mission To Mars (5, Funny)

SteveFoerster (136027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974863)

Just tell people you put the "sexy" in "dyslexia".

Re:Microsoft Plans Mission To Mars (1)

rwise2112 (648849) | about a year and a half ago | (#42979853)

Just tell people you put the "sexy" in "dyslexia".

Maybe he has Sexlexia [wikia.com]

Re:Microsoft Plans Mission To Mars (1)

fbobraga (1612783) | about a year and a half ago | (#42981041)

How you missreaded "Millionaire" by "Microsoft"? It must be hilarious! (if only was "Apple"...)

Re:Microsoft Plans Mission To Mars (1)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about a year and a half ago | (#42981653)

The two stories under this in the feed started with Microsoft

Re:Microsoft Plans Mission To Mars (1)

fbobraga (1612783) | about a year and a half ago | (#42983355)

it's true, got it ;)

A billionaire is planning a trip to Uranus (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42974083)

The odds of success really stink.

Re:A billionaire is planning a trip to Uranus (3, Funny)

tralfaz2001 (652552) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974179)

Please change this planets name to Urectum to avoid all the stupid jokes like this one.

Re:A billionaire is planning a trip to Uranus (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42974987)

Urectum? Damn near Killed 'Em!

(Ducks and runs)

Double Take (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42974169)

Anyone else read 'Titor' at first instead of Tito? Ya know, as in the alleged time traveler?

No time to train?! (2)

multiben (1916126) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974241)

We took 8 years to go from never having launched a man in a rocket to landing them on the moon and bringing them back safely. Although the scope of this mission is a lot bigger, we are also clued up on many aspects of space travel we had no idea about back then. 5 years is *ample* time to train a crew.

Re:No time to train?! (4, Insightful)

careysub (976506) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974591)

You are right to point out the quibble of "no time to train the crew" is straining at a gnat.

But you are having some trouble in trying to swallow the camel. Project Apollo cost $200 billion in current dollars to solve a much easier problem (an 8 day trip) compared to a year-and-a-half trip with an enormously larger delta-vee requirement (if you come back). Perhaps, in a similar national level high priority crash project, like the U.S. undertook in the "space race" it could be done in not much longer than 8 years. But you are looking at something exceeding the cost of Apollo.

Yes, I know Mars One claims they have a plan for a one-way trip that will only cost 6 billion: "The six billion figure is the cost of all the hardware combined, plus the operational expenditures, plus margins." (Emphasis added.)

But they also claim "This plan is built upon existing technologies available from proven suppliers." apparently blissfully unaware of the fact that (as rudy_wayne posted above) that no one knows how to build a workable re-entry system http://www.universetoday.com/7024/the-mars-landing-approach-getting-large-payloads-to-the-surface-of-the-red-planet/ [universetoday.com] . I guess if you wave away all of the really hard problems its all quite easy.

They also don't address the costs of maintaining the colony in perpetuity - it saves on the really hard problem of return but creates a permanent multi-billion dollar annual obligation to the Earth to keep their colony of four people alive.

Re:No time to train?! (4, Interesting)

multiben (1916126) | about a year and a half ago | (#42975497)

That "much easier problem" in the terms of the 1960s was just as big, if not bigger than a mars mission with today's understanding of space travel. We have already sent men into space for considerably longer than 8 days - in fact we'd already done that before we went to the moon. Granted, this is everything on a bigger scale, but the unknowns facing us are nothing compared to what we faced when we first put a man in a rocket.

Re:No time to train?! (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976079)

Not really. An 8 day trip is almost as difficult as a trip to Mars. The only issue is one of supplies. Back then it was 100% consumable. Now, we can recycle a lot of it, esp. water and CO2/O2. But the life support issues are the same. The living space is the same issue. The protection from solar radiation is the same.

Re:No time to train?! (3, Informative)

PerMolestiasEruditio (1118269) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976659)

They are planning a Mars fly-by so apart from the problem of providing life support for 500 days there is actually less deltaV required than for the Apollo moon missions because they don't need an extra 4.5km/s to land and takeoff from the moon's surface.

Almost all the fuel will be used at earth escape, and only minimal maneuvering thrust from there on so a modified dragon capsule is probably capable of doing the job. Launched on a Falcon Heavy rocket that might cost less than $200 million in total (costs $140 million for a Falcon 9 Dragon launch to LEO).

The dragon capsule can carry 6.6 tonnes of payload and is designed to survive in space for up to 2 years, so has more than enough capacity to support 2 people. And while some may claim that 2 people cannot survive in a capsule that big for a year and a half for psychological reasons, that is just bollocks - but it will be easier if they pick people with the right sort of temperament.

Re:No time to train?! (1)

tragedy (27079) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976901)

with an enormously larger delta-vee requirement (if you come back)

It's really only marginally larger. The majority of either a Mars mission or a Moon mission is getting off Earth in the first place. Mars does have twice the escape velocity of the moon, but you can save a lot of energy by aerobraking on Mars.

Re:No time to train?! (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year and a half ago | (#42975893)

We took 8 years to go from never having launched a man in a rocket to landing them on the moon and bringing them back safely.

Um... no. The development of the booster started a couple of years before the decision to go to the moon. The development of the engines for the booster started a couple of years before *that*. The capsule (but not the lander) was also well underway in study and development before the decision was made to go to the moon.
 
Reality isn't like the neat progression you see in popular history books and Discovery channel specials. NASA didn't start with a clean sheet of paper after Kennedy's announcement - Kennedy made the choice of a moon landing rather than other options *because* all the preparatory work already in progress made it possible.
 

Although the scope of this mission is a lot bigger, we are also clued up on many aspects of space travel we had no idea about back then. 5 years is *ample* time to train a crew.

True, but the problem isn't training a crew - it's qualifying the Dragon for a mission many times it's currently contemplated duration, and creating and qualifying all the other hardware that will be required... hardware that development hasn't event started on yet.

Re:No time to train?! (1)

tragedy (27079) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976983)

We took 8 years to go from never having launched a man in a rocket to landing them on the moon and bringing them back safely.

Um... no. The development of the booster started a couple of years before the decision to go to the moon. The development of the engines for the booster started a couple of years before *that*. The capsule (but not the lander) was also well underway in study and development before the decision was made to go to the moon.

Um... yes. At least, if you're talking about just the US and not the human race in general. May 5th, 1961, Alan Sheppard goes on a suborbital flight. July 20th, 1969, Armstrong and Aldwin walk on the moon. 8 years and 2 months. If you go back to Yuri Gagarin, you add another month. If you go all the way back to Sputnik 1, it's something like 11 and a half years from the first space launch to walking on the moon. Currently, it's 43 and a half years since that first moon walk. So, in 2 and a half years, it will have been 4 times as long since we set foot on the moon than the time between the first space launch and setting foot on the moon.

In other words, 5 years should be ample time. All of that preparatory work for the Moon that you're talking about is also in place for Mars as well. You may not have noticed, but we've been sending things there on a regular basis.

Re:No time to train?! (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year and a half ago | (#42978661)

In other words, 5 years should be ample time.

In other words - you completely miss my point. Worse yet, such ignorance seems to be willing... faced with facts that don't accord with your world view, you simply ignore them and fall back on stupid semantic arguments.

Re:No time to train?! (1)

tragedy (27079) | about a year and a half ago | (#42986305)

faced with facts that don't accord with your world view, you simply ignore them and fall back on stupid semantic arguments.

Ok, sure. Because I am, after all, the one who responded to a simple statement of how long it took for the US to go from putting a man in space to putting some on the moon by disagreeing and bringing up almost unrelated points about other, previous, rocket development. No, actually that was you. I also wasn't arguing over semantics, I was arguing over facts. The simple fact is that the original poster you replied to was correct about how rapid the development of the Apollo program was. Now we have 4+ decades of additional experience, more advanced technology, and powerful CAD tools. There's no good technical reason that we couldn't develop something like the Apollo program in a similar time-frame today. There are all sorts of political, economic and cultural reasons. It's also worryingly possible that we don't have the available human talent any more, or at least that the politics and culture restrain that talent more today than in the past.

Re:No time to train?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43006349)

True, but making a return trip to the moon and making a return trip to Mars are two very different things.

The difference is similar to paddling a canoe to an island you can see from the shore, and sailing a ship from Europe to North America. The two concepts sound similar, but in reality are quite dissimilar.

Summary contains a lot of speculation (2)

wronkiew (529338) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974297)

While they have restricted access to the paper that describes how they are going to do this, what Tito is going to do has already been revealed. Most of the sentences in the summary are wrong. Yes the mission will include humans. No it will not be bringing anything beyond what is required to keep the astronaut(s) alive. Astronaut training? You could fly this mission yourself tomorrow if you had the dedication and the planets were aligned. Which they aren't, and won't be until 2018. Word is that this will be a single launch of a Falcon Heavy with a Dragon capsule. Hardware cost could be less than $200 million.

The mission will fly by Mars but not orbit or land on it. Round trip will be roughly 500 days. Crew activities will involve posting photos of themselves with Mars in the background to Facebook, eating space food, and playing lots and lots of Angry Birds. It is possible that a flyby of Venus could be in the mission plan as well. If and when they return to Earth they will not be able to walk again without significant physical therapy and they will be known as the biggest bad-asses in the Solar System.

Re:Summary contains a lot of speculation (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976055)

It is poorly thought out. Instead, it should be one FH to take up a fueled booster and a Bigelow Sundancer. Then the second one brings up supplies and the crew. Once they have hooked up the dragon with the Sundancer, THEN they launch for mars.

Re:Summary contains a lot of speculation (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976223)

Sign me up. 500 days in a tiny tin can bathed in interplanetary radiation sounds wonderful.

Re:Summary contains a lot of speculation (1)

tragedy (27079) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977047)

If and when they return to Earth they will not be able to walk again without significant physical therapy and they will be known as the biggest bad-asses in the Solar System.

Polyakov was walking on his own within a matter of hours after 437 days in microgravity. He surely received extensive physical therapy and large amounts of medical testing, but he didn't need any of it to walk again. Is there something magical about the microgravity when you're off around other planets that makes it worse than the microgravity in low Earth orbit?

Huh? (2)

Type44Q (1233630) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974307)

...will harbor supplies

I'm wondering who they'd have to harbor these [presumably innocent] fugitive supplies from...

Only a couple of million? (1)

Skiboy941 (2692201) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974357)

Hold on, let me pause for a moment to laugh. (pause) Ahh, that was funny. Seriously, try scraping together a couple of BILLION dollars before you start planning a mission to Mars, Mr. Moneybags.

Re:Only a couple of million? (1)

tftp (111690) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976403)

A couple of million dollars will buy you one (1) space-rated instrument, like a navigational aid, or a simple engine, or something else of that scale. It often takes about a million dollars to design a product here, on Earth, that is not even certified for aviation use. One engineer over one year will cost you about $250K, so four engineers over one year will eat your million just in salary - without having any money left for materials, tools, services, licenses, or just for rent of the building where they work.

I, For One (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974409)

Welcome our new billionaire overlords... oh8!

Re:I, For One (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42974523)

Just now? You must be new here.

Contaminate Science on Mars (4, Interesting)

darth_borehd (644166) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974507)

With this millionaire and the Mars One group planning a trip in 2023, has anybody thought of the contamination this might cause.

NASA and space agencies around the world have been trying to find life, or evidence life once existed, on Mars for years. If we have several independent groups landing their own spacecraft, is there a chance they might careless contaminate Mars with Earth microbes, thus throwing any future findings into question?

Re:Contaminate Science on Mars (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42975705)

Are you insane?

Re:Contaminate Science on Mars (2)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976035)

Screw worrying about contaminating mars. I would be MUCH more worried about a 2-way trip that brings back bugs to earth. Any mission to mars should be a one-way, or at least a 2-way with at least 10 years stay on mars.

Re:Contaminate Science on Mars (3, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976141)

Yes and it would take hundreds to thousands of years to explore all of Mars as a sterile experiment. We shouldn't wait that long to go there.

Re:Contaminate Science on Mars (4, Interesting)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977339)

I advocate the reverse: Introduce some radiation-hardened plants that can survive in a low-oxygen atmosphere on purpose. Let them spread and prepare the planet for future colonization. We have checked for life, there isn't any.
Creating an oxygen rich atmosphere on Mars will probably take centuries, so we should start now.

Re:Contaminate Science on Mars (1)

Graydyn Young (2835695) | about a year and a half ago | (#42982217)

radiation-hardened plants that can survive in a low-oxygen atmosphere

The plants also need to be able to grow in 8.3ph soil. And need (almost?) no water, and less than half the sunlight. That's getting to be a pretty tall order.

Re:Contaminate Science on Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42988745)

Yeah, cuts it down to couple million species.

A bit jealous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42974801)

As much as I want to complain about this guy going to Mars, I have to admit I'm jealous. Heck, if I had that much money I'd try to go too! Well, until then I guess I'll just turn slightly green with envy.

-----
Avloppstankar [bia.se]

The title should be "manned flyby of Mars planned" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42974939)

Landing on Mars and returning to Earth is much harder than a mere flyby. The MPCV is to only go by a mere asteroid, and it has cost several billion so far. Still, NASA has been screwing up, with the significantly overweight Orion and service module. Considering that the Apollo equivalent weighed 30 tons, and only ~22 tons are permitted, the intelligence of NASA leadership is questionable.

I think the Senators don't care if the manned program is successful, they merely want NASA money to keep flowing into their states. The Senators fudge the numbers to make it look like there will be success to fool other high ranking officials. Americans don't care, so this waste of money will continue. America could do much better, but the Senate doesn't want to lose its pork.

Reality check (1)

Nostromo21 (1947840) | about a year and a half ago | (#42975139)

FFS, do we even have anywhere near the reliable tech to send humans on a 6mth+ journey through space, with any hope in hell of getting there alive, much less landing in 1 piece, much less get back to earth (if that's even on the cards)...?

Live in a dragon? Nope. That is a horrible idea. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976015)

OTOH, add a dragon to a bigelow sundancer, than maybe. But you want the life support system to be duplicates of each other.
Still this idea of sending to mars AND BACK bugs me. It should be a one-way mission. The reaon is that the return trip will normally be very slow.

You mean... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976313)

somebody told Mitt that Mars is really Kolob?

re Train? (1)

jelizondo (183861) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976383)

What!? 4 + years is not enough to train someone to go to Mars?

Come on, I've been to many places in Mexico and most Caribbean islands, I'm ready to go to Mars tomorrow!

I mean, if one can survive those trips, going to Mars is walk in the park...

Return? Who the hell wants to get back to this shithole?

Mars or bust!

Communal effort from all countries needed (1)

Iamsuperhero (2847867) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976419)

Could someone please create a website where we petition all governments to join this effort and turn this into a human mission to Mars in 5 years time.

Just a fly-by (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42976487)

He's proposing a fly-by. 500 days of pure boredom with a few hours where you have the best seat in the solar system--as a manned probe. Like Apollo 8 for Mars. BTW, Apollo 8 had the coolest patch ever--an 8 with the Moon and Earth symbolizing exactly what the mission accomplished.

Anyway, I don't think we need an Apollo 8 for Mars. Too much risk for too little reward. IMHO, any sane Mars program involves:

1. International agreement that Mars is OK to visit. Contamination is almost certain, so we'd have to all agree that the science on native Martian life forms will be full of doubt from this point forward. Human scientists on Mars will do a good job of finding things; but we'll have to rely on DNA studies to tell if it's native life, and there will always be some question that it's a transported life form that mutated.

2. An automated habitat waiting for us. That means a good number of these "Falcon Heavy" craft carrying un-manned modules that will remotely set themselves up and be waiting for us.

3. Ideally, industry on Mars sufficient to build launch vehicles for return. Ideally, fully automated, self-replacating with a kill-switch. That way, the Humans can be busy being human, doing things that only humans can do.

4. As a first step for 3, keep on working on automated factories.

I think a Mars mission is a fine example where it would be well worth it to wait for better technology being developed right now on Earth. That technology will make the Mars mission easier; but we need to wait for it. That includes propulsion tech. It sure would suck to learn during your 500 day mission that they just came up with practical 100 day propulsion, although it wouldn't suck nearly as bad as being passed by a 100 day ship during your 10 year trip to the outer planets.

Well (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about a year and a half ago | (#42985177)

There will be one less millionaire on planet Earth then cause he won't survive the trip or will come back as a massive tumor.

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