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Dennis Tito's 2018 Mars Mission To Be Manned

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the i-nominate-shatner-and-nimoy dept.

Mars 233

Last Thursday, we discussed news that millionaire Dennis Tito was planning a private mission to Mars in 2018, but details were sparse. Now, reader RocketAcademy writes that Tito has provided more information about the tip, and that he intends the mission to be manned: "Dennis Tito, the first citizen space explorer to visit the International Space Station, has created the Inspiration Mars Foundation to raise funds for an even more dramatic mission: a human flyby of the planet Mars. Tito, a former JPL rocket scientist who later founded the investment firm Wilshire Associates, proposes to send two Americans — a man and a woman — on a 501-day roundtrip mission which would launch on January 5, 2018. Technical details of the mission can be found in a feasibility analysis (PDF), which Tito is scheduled to present at the IEEE Aerospace Conference in March. Former NASA flight surgeon Dr. Jonathon Clark, who is developing innovative ways of dealing with radiation exposure during the mission, called the flight 'an Apollo 8 moment for the next generation.'"

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There will be problems... (-1, Troll)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030739)

The sleeping quarters are going to look like a Jackson Pollock under the blue lights! Seriously, how do you cum on someone's face in zero G? If I'm doing it "doggy" and pull out right before I fire my huge load like a rocket, will the force blow me into the wall and hurt my back? And I mean, seriously, unless there is some kind of environment vacuum system to suck all the cum and sweat and other liquids out of the room space, by a few months into this thing, the whole place will be filled with free-floating globs of cum and pussy juice. On second thought, I'M IN!

Re:There will be problems... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43030819)

sorry to burst your cum-bubble, but jizz and vag spoo and sweat dries very quickly. The answer to your bukkake question is that it will be possible at a somewhat greater distance than on earth. the only thing left for you to fantasize about it how the place will *smell* after the mission is done. I find it ridiculous that they talk of sending a middle aged couple because of radiation concerns regarding sperm and egg, plenty of young couple opt to be made sterile by one means or another, tubal ligation or vasectomy or whatever. deep space porn rights could help offset cost of mission.....

Re:There will be problems... (2)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030921)

sorry to burst your cum-bubble, but jizz and vag spoo and sweat dries very quickly.

Well, perhaps, but it will still be floating around unless it connects with a surface before it dries.

And if it does dry and continue to float about, will that be a respiratory issue?

Re:There will be problems... (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030991)

sorry to burst your cum-bubble, but jizz and vag spoo and sweat dries very quickly. The answer to your bukkake question is that it will be possible at a somewhat greater distance than on earth. the only thing left for you to fantasize about it how the place will *smell* after the mission is done. I find it ridiculous that they talk of sending a middle aged couple because of radiation concerns regarding sperm and egg, plenty of young couple opt to be made sterile by one means or another, tubal ligation or vasectomy or whatever. deep space porn rights could help offset cost of mission.....

Control of biological...undesireables... is actually a bit tricky in space. Lots of problems that just solve themselves when you have an entire planetary atmosphere to work with just don't when you have a few thousands or tens of thousands of liters of atmosphere along with whatever climate control you packed with it.

Both Mir and the ISS developed moderately nasty mold problems, and Mir even had a number of horrid water globules [nasa.gov] hiding behind rarely used access panels growing various vile slime.

It isn't obvious that sexual fluids would be worse than mere sweat(might actually be less troublesome, since there is a strong evolutionary imperative in favor of mechanisms that keep other microorganisms from hijacking our gene transfer mechanism for their own ends); but we know that mere sweat and exhaled water vapor are enough to really gross up the place.

Re:There will be problems... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43031417)

Very informative, "fuzzyfuzzyfungus." Are spores etc your line of work?

Re:There will be problems... (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031107)

The sleeping quarters are going to look like a Jackson Pollock under the blue lights! Seriously, how do you cum on someone's face in zero G? If I'm doing it "doggy" and pull out right before I fire my huge load like a rocket, will the force blow me into the wall and hurt my back? And I mean, seriously, unless there is some kind of environment vacuum system to suck all the cum and sweat and other liquids out of the room space, by a few months into this thing, the whole place will be filled with free-floating globs of cum and pussy juice. On second thought, I'M IN!

I don't know if you've spent much time with a girl, but after a few weeks of constant contact with no breaks and no showers, there's not going to be a whole lot of sex going on.

Re:There will be problems... (2)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031147)

I don't know if you've spent much time with a girl, but after a few weeks of constant contact with no breaks and no showers, there's not going to be a whole lot of sex going on.

On the contrary, it will me like rutting animals. There will be nothing else to do. In fact they should take the Kama Sutra and a video camera, and sell the rights to Vivid Entertainment... And of course they will have to sign up a couple who are HOT looking and so forth...

Re:There will be problems... (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031155)

I have to say that the sex drive doesn't give a shit. It's like ugly girls in the absence of pretty girls. Suddenly they start to look damn good. If you don't get any pussy for a long time they look fucking fabulous. After a few weeks you just want to get laid and your mind adjusts to anything it has to in order for it to work out.

Very VERY stupid idea... (4, Insightful)

nweaver (113078) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030783)

Whats the point? You're shoving many extra tons (between person and life support), and you have to put it on an orbit that brings it back home, and for a payload that can do little more than look out the window and go "ohh, pretty" while being irradiated for years outside of the protection of the Earth's magnetic field.

Even if the mission goes 100% to plan, the cancer risk alone is probably a death sentence for the two passengers.

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43030799)

Fucking TROLL!

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43031433)

He has spoken the truth and he has to be marked as "Flame bait" and "Fucking troll".
So much for intelligent discussion here.
What is this mission trying to achieve ? We know already that:
1) We can send large payloads to Mars (having sent countless smaller ones)
2) We can keep humans alive in confined space for almost the required time (already done in LEO)
3) Some people can survive the ordeal of being locked up for 18 months in a small space (numerous experiments)

This can only demonstrate the bleeding obvious that, if we can do 1), 2) or 3), we can probably do it at the same time.
Other than that, nothing.

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (4, Insightful)

fufufang (2603203) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030879)

Whats the point? You're shoving many extra tons (between person and life support), and you have to put it on an orbit that brings it back home, and for a payload that can do little more than look out the window and go "ohh, pretty" while being irradiated for years outside of the protection of the Earth's magnetic field.

Even if the mission goes 100% to plan, the cancer risk alone is probably a death sentence for the two passengers.

Q: "Why climb Mount Everest?"
A: "Because it is there."

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031001)

Q: "Why climb Mount Everest?"
A: "Because it is there."

That was a reason to climb the mountain, not walk around it. Landing people on Mars would enable them to do a lot of scientific exploration. A fly-by is pointless. We would learn nothing about Mars that couldn't be done with an unmanned orbiter. We would learn nothing about humans in space that we couldn't learn in Earth orbit.

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43031261)

The whole point is to show if it is possible for a manned exploration crew to even handle the trip. You don't go all in the first time with space travel. That's a good way to get a bunch of people killed.

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031407)

The moon was a 3 day voyage though, not a 500 day one. Spending 500 days and however much money just to circle mars and come back is a dangerous waste, especially if you're going to send people - who, while on a spaceship - can't do anything more then a probe could.

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (4, Insightful)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031489)

and however much money

Around a billion.

About the same as the average cost of a Shuttle mission. 1/18th NASA's annual budget. 1/3rd of what they spend on ISS every year. Slightly more than 1/3rd of what they spend each year developing SLS in the hope that they will, perhaps, be able to fly a crew of 4 around the moon and back in 2021 after 15+ years of development.

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (1)

Smallpond (221300) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031391)

Consider it the Apollo 10 of Mars exploration.

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (5, Interesting)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031467)

We would learn nothing about Mars that couldn't be done with an unmanned orbiter. We would learn nothing about humans in space that we couldn't learn in Earth orbit.

We will learn that in 2018 you can buy, privately, enough hardware to fly to Mars.

Around the same time, there will be a company selling private space stations for less than some people spend on second homes. (Or on racing yachts. Or unstable private artificial islands.) Some billionaires gamble (ie, lose) more each year (for fun) than it will cost to orbit the moon, in a couple of years.

Tito will spend less than one third of one year's worth of the ISS budget. Or 1/70th of the estimated development cost of the SLS. Or about the same cost as a Shuttle mission (depending on what you count.)

To fly past Mars. Just because he feels like it.

Double the cost of this Mars flyby and you could put human boots on Phobos. That's well within the spending power of any modest developing nation. From hardware purchased privately and available to anyone. A basic lunar base for a couple of billion. A flyby of Jupiter for $3-5b.

The world changed, and the world's national space agencies are still playing with dead rats in the gutter pretending they have a space program.

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (4, Insightful)

fufufang (2603203) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031485)

Q: "Why climb Mount Everest?"
A: "Because it is there."

That was a reason to climb the mountain, not walk around it. Landing people on Mars would enable them to do a lot of scientific exploration. A fly-by is pointless. We would learn nothing about Mars that couldn't be done with an unmanned orbiter. We would learn nothing about humans in space that we couldn't learn in Earth orbit.

Well, people don't live on top of Mount Everest. They come back home. Dismissing the significance of this mission is like dismissing the significance of Apollo 8.

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43031383)

To the ordinary person this will be exciting at first but then, when they find out that it's just two people locked in a small space for 501 days only to see Mars from far away, the reaction will be a resounding "Meh!"
In fact none remembers the names of the people that first circled the moon nor that this happened at all before Armstrong's landing.

At least is private money. The only scientific result will be the study of the two people irradiated with galactic protons for 501 days.
Engineering : interesting
Wow factor : low/mediocre
Science : almost nil for the cost/fail

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43030899)

Whats the point?

Picture, if you will, photos of the lucky couple kicking back with a Coca Cola and packet of Wise dehydrated beef stroganoff, while prominently wearing their North Face jackets with the Hillary 2016 poster behind them. You get the idea.

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (2)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030953)

Lol nice one, this thing probably just funded itself in the future right there. Talk about buying celebrities.

Fuckin ex-JPL goon in first "civilian" in the employ of top secret god knows what Eisenhower alien fiasco lizard person bullshit.

Just an Illuminati stooge I bet. Sorry big man with the bucks to make a publicity stunt out of human achievement, f your not a goon. I hope you succeed in bringing people to mars.

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (2)

LongearedBat (1665481) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030915)

Sure, except most people don't seem to care much for the Mars missions that curently do take place. However, sending a human there might well be enough of an "Apollo 8" moment to reignite peoples interest in going to Mars - possibly even enough to fire up another space race.

Also, if we're ever to colonise Mars, we must start sometime to work out those logistics problems that you mentioned. So why not now?

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031009)

Also, if we're ever to colonise Mars, we must start sometime to work out those logistics problems that you mentioned. So why not now?

Efficiency, mostly. All medical research must eventually have human(or sometimes veterinary) application to count as useful; but humans are lousy enough research subjects(ethical whining, long lifespans, tendency to wander off and introduce uncontrolled variables, etc.) so we generally start with something simpler and cheaper, that can be run on a much vaster scale with the same money.

In the same vein, if we were serious about confronting the challenges of building self-sustaining colony type environments, we could probably run 100 sealed-building experiments in parallel on earth(where lift costs nothing, parts can be purchased at the hardware store, and the entire team doesn't have to suffocate if the experiment fails, rather than just modifying some parameters and starting over) for the price of a single one offworld.

Just as medicine goes to clinical trials eventually, there will be questions that can only be answered by actually putting actual people under actual conditions; but so much of the prep work is easier to do in ground experiments.

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031143)

we could probably run 100 sealed-building experiments in parallel on earth

There's been quite a few of those done, including a Russian one where Xeon was used as a filler gas instead of Nitrogen with the Mars atmosphere in mind. It would be very difficult to make a perfect copy of Earth air from the gas available on Mars so that's why they were looking into the long term effects of something that would be a bit easier to put together.

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (2)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031035)

If we're ever to colonize mars, we're going to need to find a way to restart its magnetic field. Whole process is moot without it, the magnetic field is what keeps solar wind/radiation from stripping the atmosphere off of earth, and the lack thereof is why mars atmosphere is so thin and useless.

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (1)

Granular (244934) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031097)

Which is the same reason that Venus has no atmosphere...

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43031231)

That's a process that takes millions of years.

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (2)

Jeremi (14640) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031455)

However, sending a human there might well be enough of an "Apollo 8" moment to reignite peoples interest in going to Mars - possibly even enough to fire up another space race.

Contrariwise, it might well end up as more of a "Challenger disaster" moment, with all hands lost and a corresponding loss of public confidence in the feasibility of manned space exploration. But I guess that's the risk you gotta take...

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (4, Insightful)

SpeedBump0619 (324581) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030929)

Yeah, you know we should have saved all the money on the whole Gemini program and Apollos 1-10 and just gone straight to the moon. This iterative approach to new discovery is for the birds.

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (4, Insightful)

sconeu (64226) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030941)

A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?

-- Robert Browning

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43030947)

So... we should just straight-up give up on manned spaceflight? Because aside from Earth sciences and materials research, that's pretty much ALL we've done so far.

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (0)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030955)

You are whats wrong with modern society. Go watch TV, let the grownups do something worthwhile for once.

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031033)

Agreed. It's wasteful to try to develop all this tech for biological organisms to survive in space, when in a few decades the human race will reach the Singularity and then will be able explore space considerably more easily in machine bodies.

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (4, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031047)

Even if the mission goes 100% to plan, the cancer risk alone is probably a death sentence for the two passengers.

It's right there in the article:

The expected total radiation exposure is below NASA’s accepted lifetime limit for a middle-aged crew, Dr. Clark said. Clark expects that radiation exposure would result in a 3% excess cancer risk over the crew’s lifetime.

You may dispute the numbers (but I don't see how you could, given that the details of the spacecraft aren't known), but I think many people would be willing to take that risk - smokers probably face worse cancer odds than that.

Re:Very VERY stupid idea... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43031463)

They're in very risky territory. Outside the earth's magnetosphere, things are much much worse than LEO.(where pretty much every astronaut except the Apollo ones spend all their time.)

There is a good paper on it here:
http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20070010704_2007005310.pdf

They estimate a dose of 1.03 Sv for a 600 d mars flyby, which would be just over the lifetime limit for most space agencies.

Also:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_threat_from_cosmic_rays

5% brain death seems like a pretty serious problem....

I'd add that these are conservative estimates for dose. An unlucky event like a solar flare could make things much worse. A solar flare is sometimes predictable, so astronauts might be able to hide behind extra shielding(like their water supply). This would prevent acute radiation poisoning, but still substantially increase lifetime dose.

Radiation shielding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43030797)

What kind of radiation shielding is the mission going to have? If they get hit by a solar flare event they'll probably be dead.

Pissed (3, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030803)

Stories like this sort of pisses me off. There are a lot cool things we could be doing if, as a nation, America used it's wealth for good instead of evil. But we'd rather spend trillions enriching the very few via wars/police state crap to prevent fewer deaths than dog bites cause (*), or on bailouts for the very rich and unscrupulous. What a fucking waste.

* http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/08/25/304113/chart-only-15-americans-died-from-terrorism-last-year-less-than-from-dog-bites-or-lightning-strikes/?mobile=nc [thinkprogress.org]

Re:Pissed (-1, Flamebait)

Tough Love (215404) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030851)

Listen, you're an idiot. Right now, humanity has one planet. If we turn it into a sea of radioactive slag, a clear and present danger, that's the end of humanity. We need to branch out, end of story. You concentrate on dog bites ok? And let others with the foresight and means concentrate on saving ourselves.

Re: Pissed (4, Insightful)

Radres (776901) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030873)

I think if you re-read his post you'll find he's actually on your side, numbskull.

Re:Pissed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43031355)

Fuck you.

Re:Pissed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43031609)

learn to read, k?

Re:Pissed (2)

Jeremi (14640) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031377)

But we'd rather spend trillions enriching the very few via wars/police state crap to prevent fewer deaths than dog bites cause (*)

If only 15 Americans died from terrorism last year, doesn't that mean the prevention is working? ;^)

Re:Pissed (1)

anagama (611277) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031421)

I know your comment is tongue in cheek, but it won't be seen that way by many. The fact is, there is no amount of money that can be spent to prevent all terrorism. There is certainly some amount that it is wise to spend, but the edge cases will always make it through. I'm thinking of Breivik or McVeigh/Nichols -- Lone Wolf types. We should just accept that within reason, like how we wear seat belts and have airbags in cars. The utility of vehicles causes to accept some rational risk despite the fact that deaths in car accidents are some multiple of 9/11. If we addressed terrorism like we did driving, we'd actually be able to go somewhere as civilization. Instead, we take all the utility inherent in massive amounts of money, and squander on evil at home and abroad. If cars were terrorism, we'd be driving around in million dollar, mile wide marshmallows that went 3 mph and got 10gal/mile.

Re:Pissed (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031465)

Going to Mars is evil? Sign me up.

I think I must have missed something (1)

MOSFET Explosion (2849381) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030813)

Unless I'm misunderstanding what was in the article, they seem to be sending two people almost 2 years in space to just fly around Mars and their not even going to land there.

Re:I think I must have missed something (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030881)

Unless I'm misunderstanding what was in the article, they seem to be sending two people almost 2 years in space to just fly around Mars and their not even going to land there.

Isn't it obvious? Humans have such well demonstrated qualifications for 'floating around in irradiated hard vacuum doing not much of any particular interest'. Robots aren't nearly as good at that...

Re:I think I must have missed something (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031431)

Isn't it obvious? Humans have such well demonstrated qualifications for 'floating around in irradiated hard vacuum doing not much of any particular interest'. Robots aren't nearly as good at that...

Sarcasm aside, I think that's the point -- to demonstrate that humans can survive the trip. (Of course, it might just as easily show that it can't be done, or at least that it shouldn't be done, depending on how the astronauts fare health-wise)

Re:I think I must have missed something (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43030885)

Why would you be misunderstanding? Even the summary says the flight will be 'an Apollo 8 moment for the next generation'.

Oh right, here's the extra information for products of the American education system: Apollo 8 only orbited the moon. It didn't land. Landing didn't happen until Apollo 11. :-)

Re:I think I must have missed something (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030891)

No, that's about the sum of it.

Sort of cool from one aspect - first folks to go somewhere outside the earth's orbit, but sort of a letdown from the other angle - as it is nothing more than a sight-seeing trip. It might almost be argued that it makes more sense to send the same folks out to one of the larger asteroids - at least they could land there...

Re:I think I must have missed something (1)

MOSFET Explosion (2849381) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030957)

I wonder if theres any asteroids out there with the right velocity and direction they could rendezvous with, and do some actual science.

Re:I think I must have missed something (2)

Tim the Gecko (745081) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031059)

"Sort of cool, but..." sums it up. A moon landing mission launched 440 days after Apollo 8 splashed down, and there was hardly a great deal of media interest in Apollo 13 until the explosion. So a trip of 501 days could be a bit longer than our collective attention span.

Also Apollo 8 was part of a series of missions culminating in a moon landing less than a year later. And it wasn't competing with awesome robots wandering around and sending color pictures from the surface as the tourists whizzed past.

Re:I think I must have missed something (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43030997)

This is just a publicity stunt. How many rockets has Tito launched? How many manned orbits around the Earth have been completed by his "team"? If you try to fly with this clown, you will just get blowed up on the launch pad, or if it makes it out of the atmosphere it will loose navigation and you will drift until you die. What fun. If this was so easy to do, someone else would have done it by now.

Re:I think I must have missed something (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031063)

This is just a publicity stunt. How many rockets has Tito launched? How many manned orbits around the Earth have been completed by his "team"? If you try to fly with this clown, you will just get blowed up on the launch pad, or if it makes it out of the atmosphere it will loose navigation and you will drift until you die. What fun. If this was so easy to do, someone else would have done it by now.

I think that he'll have test fired some rockets (or buy them from someone who has). And it's not like navigation relies on a GPS sitting on the dashboard of the space craft - I'm sure NASA would even be happy to give some course correction help, they've got lots of real rocket scientists that will be watching the project closely if it ever takes off (pun intented).

Re:I think I must have missed something (1)

petsounds (593538) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031181)

Yeah, he's not developing his own rocket and capsule system; he'll be contracting that out. Probably to SpaceX for the rocket. His team will probably act more like a design feasibility and mission control team.

Re:I think I must have missed something (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43031397)

How many manned orbits have SpaceX completed? How many trips to the moon?

Re:I think I must have missed something (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031423)

I do actually wonder if there's a built in assumption there that if you do something sufficiently grandiose you'll get a lot of extra help for free. You have to imagine that if it looked like people were actually going to be launched that we'd see a few other projects aimed at increasing their survival (i.e. launching supplies ahead of time etc.) and/or contingency planning.

Re:I think I must have missed something (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031647)

(i.e. launching supplies ahead of time etc.)

There's no orbit where supplies launched ahead of this flight can be reached by it. It's not the sort of mission you are thinking of.

How will they get a craft ready by 2018? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43031151)

Orion's life support is too heavy for the Delta IV heavy, and it is only good for several people for a few months. NASA has spent over a few billion dollars on Orion, and it is still not ready. How will they build and test a capsule to support two people for 1 1/3 years in 5 years? Not to mention a bigger rocket will be needed, and no, the Falcon Heavy will not have the power to push an Orion massed craft past Mars. Heck, only early studies of galactic cosmic on the brain have been preformed, and they show that high energy iron is not good for the brain.

Re:How will they get a craft ready by 2018? (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031373)

What makes you think that the craft has to be assembled first and then lifted into orbit? Building it in space from pre-fab modules is much more practical.

Re:I think I must have missed something (2)

dbIII (701233) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031157)

I think the idea is to do only one incredibly hard thing at a time until you get it right. I hope I dumbed it down enough.

What would be great (5, Funny)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030817)

The ship comes back with an extra passenger or two..

Re:What would be great (1)

Tough Love (215404) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030863)

It will probably come back with a few micrometerites embedded in its hull.

Re:What would be great (1)

serbanp (139486) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030875)

giving birth in space? they better stock up on baby formula too when planning the life support cargo...

Re:What would be great (2)

0dugo0 (735093) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031017)

Don't let the breastapo hear this. The breast milk mafia has enough political clout to ban spaceflight with an insufficient stock of breasts.

Re:What would be great (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030935)

The ship comes back with an extra passenger or two..

It's a good thing that flippers might actually work in low-density fluids at zero G; because fetuses are total wimps about radiation...

Re:What would be great (1)

BumpyCarrot (775949) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030961)

I did read the summary and wonder whether the guy is an Arthur C. Clark fan.

The follow-up mission carries a monkey. He's the pilot.

Re:What would be great (1)

crunchy666 (1315081) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030989)

I wouldn't rate this funny... Think of the scientific research possible? A human born in zero gravity?

Re:What would be great (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031087)

The ship comes back with an extra passenger or two..

I don't think any responsible parent would attempt to conceive a child in high-radiation conditions. They'll probably use implantable birth control to prevent any unwanted "accidents".

Crash and colonise (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030859)

Landing and living on Mars might actually be safer than a cruise back to Earth and a 10g landing, after two years of microgravity. A better idea would be to send older people, land them on Mars and schedule resupply missions.

Re:Crash and colonise (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030919)

Given the cost of sending somebody, sending an old person seems like a very unwise investment in terms of expected mission years per dollar...

You'd pretty much want the youngest you could get, subject to the restriction that they be old enough to exhibit basic human competence and keep the ethicists off your back... The communications delay is short enough that subject matter experts can be consulted from earth, and RF is much cheaper than meat when it comes to shipping 'wisdom and experience' across interplanetary space.

Re:Crash and colonise (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year and a half ago | (#43030969)

You'd pretty much want the youngest you could get

Yeah but then you have to commit to keeping them alive for longer, in this scenario.

Re:Crash and colonise (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031069)

Or just make sure that they don't find the 'tragic accident circuit' or die in some particularly low-PR way before you have need to trigger said circuit.

It wouldn't do at all to have hours of increasingly labored gasping, crying, and inchoate begging broadcast across the globe; but some young explorers with stars in their eyes becoming the first humans to (as aseptically and off-stage as possible) lay down their lives in the noble cause of Space Exploration? Bring on the hagiographic documentaries...

Re:Crash and colonise (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031073)

old people are harder to keep alive. Ever try to do tech support for your grandmother over the phone? now imagine trying to walk her through a medical procedure like a heart stint with a 20 minute communication delay. The elderly (age 65 and over) made up around 13 percent of the U.S. population in 2002, but they consumed 36 percent of total U.S. personal health care expenses. That number has only gone up in the last 11 years, thanks to an aging baby boomer generation. And you want to send them to mars?

Re:Crash and colonise (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031189)

old people are harder to keep alive

But they will have less time for the long term consequences of radiation exposure to be an issue. I agree with your arguments about health though. The right people would need to be sent.

Re:Crash and colonise (2)

Panoramix (31263) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031255)

I think the point is, if you're going to put people on a rocket and shoot them to Mars, in the understanding that, no matter what happens, they're going to die there, won't ever see Earth again, it might just be easier to find takers, and generally to sell this idea to the public, if you aim for 60+ aged who already lived their lives here.

I know people that age who are still in great shape, and maybe some would be willing to set off for one last adventure. Who knows. Tough one, that.

Re:Crash and colonise (1)

tftp (111690) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031317)

if you're going to put people on a rocket and shoot them to Mars, in the understanding that, no matter what happens, they're going to die there, won't ever see Earth again

Then your best choice would be dead people. They don't need any life support, and they won't die again in the middle of the mission. They will do just as good as anyone else, after being confined to a small tin can for a year. A flyby? They are ideal for that, considering how much work they need to do on the way there and back.

Re:Crash and colonise (1)

Panoramix (31263) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031353)

Yes, but if the whole point is to learn how to keep people alive up there, the dead are rather limited use. Not very photogenic either, for the obligatory shot of some guy planting a flag.

Re:Crash and colonise (2)

tftp (111690) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031521)

Yes, but if the whole point is to learn how to keep people alive up there

There is very little to learn. We already had ground simulations of the flight, and they were generally unsatisfactory. Humans cannot sit in a tin can for two years and retain sanity. That alone overwhelms all the other issues, of which there are many. The best solution for keeping humans alive during the flight to Mars is to make the flight short - say, a day, or two. Until that happens nobody in his right mind should spend years of his life being a lab rat.

A robot can do planting of the flag just fine, if that's the only reason to send a meatbag up there. There will be no public interest in this event anyway, even if your spacefarers survive the year of confinement and recycled water/food and don't kill each other. Man and a woman - strong emotions swing both ways; as they say, "Heaven has no rage, like love to hatred turned." But OK, let's say those travellers warily emerged from the lander and made a few shaky steps (even in the lower gravity of Mars.) What next? Do they just hammer a flag into the ground and leave? Do they, in the great numbers of two, start to study the whole planet? No, of course not. They aren't even going to land, per Tito's scenario, and there will be nothing to show, nothing to celebrate. The spam in the can may just as well never leave Earth.

I'm far from being against spaceflight. But you need to be always reasonable and sane. It just doesn't make any sense to send people for that long and that far. They are likely to die, and there is nothing to be gained from this flight. The money should be instead invested into making more efficient vehicles that can, as matter of fact, traverse the distance much faster and thus make access to Mars far more realistic. Nuclear power? Perhaps, if that works. New physics? Always welcome. But sending people on this voyage is just as practical as crossing the Atlantic on a reed raft. Is it possible? Yes, if the stars are in a favorable position (literally, in case of Mars.) But is a reed raft, or a torora boat like Ra II, a viable transport between the Old and the New worlds? Not in a thousand years. You need something that gives you a half-decent chance of getting there alive, and doesn't take forever. Trips of Thor Heyerdahl took about 3 months each, sometimes with stops at various ports. Those trips were done on Earth, where the air is free and the ocean full of fish is a foot away.

So, Mr. Tito, if your money burns through your pocket, take it and build a space elevator. That would be a worthy endeavor. Once that is in place we can start thinking about building larger ships, nuclear-powered, that take water as reaction mass and can travel to the Moon, to Mars, or to the Belt within reasonable time. That's the way to go.

Re:Crash and colonise (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43031051)

I like the idea but putting enough infrastructure on the ground on Mars for them to continue to live even with resupply (an ongoing cost) probably bumps the cost up an order of magnitude.

Re:Crash and colonise (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031113)

I envisage landing at the Hallas low point, for the highest temperatures and highest atmospheric pressure. The crew would dig or drill for water and use photovoltic power to extract oxygen from the water. They may also use oxygen and hydrogen in fuel cells for energy storage. They would land with two years of food, but they would have an inflatible habitat which could be used to grow some food as well.

One concern is the life of their pressure suits. Lunar fines are very abrasive and Apollo surface suits had a short working life. Martian fines may cause similar problems.

Re:Crash and colonise (4, Informative)

catchblue22 (1004569) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031399)

One concern is the life of their pressure suits. Lunar fines are very abrasive and Apollo surface suits had a short working life. Martian fines may cause similar problems.

I don't think the fine particles on Mars will for the most part resemble those on the Moon. Mars has had wind blowing the particles around for a very long time, smoothing out the rough corners on the particles. The Moon clearly has no wind. The particles on the Moon likely formed via meteorite impact ejecta, either from shattered rock or by condensation from vaporized rock. After formation, there would likely be less corner erosion of fine particles due to the lack of wind. Thus the Moon's fine particles are quite abrasive.

Re:Crash and colonise (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031437)

We haven't really had that much trouble with the rovers though, and they get covered in dust. They've all well outlived their operational lifespan.

Re:Crash and colonise (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031483)

Yeah but its all metal bearings, etc. With the pressure suits on apollo it was grasping tools and rocks. The gripping surfaces of the pressure suit goves eroded badly.

Build an automated city first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43030861)

Build an automated city on Mars first. A habitat is needed so that people can land there and have something waiting. It would be even better if the automated city were busy harvesting water and splitting it into H2 and O2 for the return trip.

Before you do any of that, get international agreement that contamination of Mars is acceptable. Once humans land there, it's inevitable.

An "Apollo 8" for Mars just seems like a really bad idea.

IMHO, the tech for exploring Mars has to come from the mining industry. Yes. Mining. Start with ultra-automated mines on Earth. Then, Mars-adapt that technology and send it there. Ditto for construction. Come on miner/builder-bots guys, build us some Mars bots and get 'em on the job.

Re:Build an automated city first (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031171)

Build an automated city on Mars first. A habitat is needed so that people can land there and have something waiting. It would be even better if the automated city were busy harvesting water and splitting it into H2 and O2 for the return trip.

Before you do any of that, get international agreement that contamination of Mars is acceptable. Once humans land there, it's inevitable.

An "Apollo 8" for Mars just seems like a really bad idea.

Who's willing to pay for it? This guy is willing to fund a non-stop trip to mars and back, sounds like he just wants to see some man (and woman) reach mars before he dies.

If you want to fund an automated city on Mars, go for it - build a compelling case and shop the idea around to some billionaires and see if you can get it funded. That's probably easier than getting politicians to give NASA enough funds to do it.... or worse, trying to build an international coalition of national space agencies to do it.

IMHO, the tech for exploring Mars has to come from the mining industry. Yes. Mining. Start with ultra-automated mines on Earth. Then, Mars-adapt that technology and send it there. Ditto for construction. Come on miner/builder-bots guys, build us some Mars bots and get 'em on the job.

I don't know if you've seen earthbound ultra-automated mining but it's typically built of very heavy steel, not something you can easily get to Mars until asteroid mining is available (and this research is in-progress). Mines on earth of more interested in replacing human labor with machines so use big machines to process large quantities of materials.

Re:Build an automated city first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43031565)

Who's willing to pay for it?

Apparently not this guy, and that's a shame. He'd rather put on a freak show than make some actual progress.

I don't know if you've seen earthbound ultra-automated mining but it's typically built of very heavy steel, not something you can easily get to Mars

That would be part of the "Mars-adapt" aspect I mentioned. It's built of heavy steel on Earth because that's cheap and durable. Moving it around on Earth is cheap. Mars-adapting that technology means using materials of comparable strength, but lighter. Titanium? Not sure. Not my job; but you get the idea.

Actually, NASA is on the right track here. Their robot actually drilled into the surface recently. Now we just need to get a lot more drills up there. Yeah, drill baby drill... on Mars!

Bah, Robomakerbots instead. (1)

Malenx (1453851) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031003)

How about instead of people, we send a few robots and some self-contained factories with which to build more. Once things are up and running, we can start constructing a base via remote control.

Re:Bah, Robomakerbots instead. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43031269)

Why don't we just build one robot smart enough to manufacture other robots and look out for itself without human intervention. It could be like a neural network in the sky. We could call it Skynet.

Re:Bah, Robomakerbots instead. (2)

tftp (111690) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031339)

How about instead of people, we send a few robots and some self-contained factories with which to build more.

Do that here, on Earth, first. It would be even easier, given that we know a lot about this planet. Make a robot that, once dropped off in, say, Himalayas, will do whatever is necessary to assemble another one. When that happens we will discuss flying such a robot to Mars.

IMO, it would be a challenge to even find one human - or one group of humans - who'd be able to pull that off. Many alternative history books were written where such scenarios are proposed, studied - and rejected as improbable. The threshold of building a factory that makes semiconductors is absurdly high. One robot, or one human, will not be able to do it. You have to bring up the whole technological civilization to just produce all the chemicals that go into manufacturing of semiconductors. A robot will need a few thousand years to spiral it up, starting with stone tools and likely having to invent unique technologies on the spot as it discovers new minerals and new environmental conditions.

101kPa? (1)

Machupo (59568) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031005)

Wonder why they are assuming sea-level atmosphere inside the pressure vessel... long term human habitation has been recorded near 6000m (less than 50kPa).

Re:101kPa? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031179)

You still need all that gas, even though you could run at a lower pressure, so it might as well be stored where it gives you some extra radiation shielding and thermal inertia.

Apollo 8 Moment (2)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031039)

The problem is that Earthrise [wikipedia.org] is going to be kinda lame [blogspot.com] .

Re:Apollo 8 Moment (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031053)

Plenty more great views to share though. The crew of this vehicle will be the first to see the solar system from a totally different perspective.

Re:Apollo 8 Moment (1)

feedayeen (1322473) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031135)

The problem is that Earthrise [wikipedia.org] is going to be kinda lame [blogspot.com] .

At least you get an 'Earthrise' on Mars, you can't do that s*** on the Moon.

Re:Apollo 8 Moment (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031411)

At least you get an 'Earthrise' on Mars, you can't do that s*** on the Moon.

Sure you can. Start on the "dark side" of the moon and start walking in a straight line. Eventually you will see the Earth rise. (As an added bonus, you can make the Earth sink back down again simply by retracing your steps -- what power!)

Radiation! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43031163)

The ISS LEO experience tells us very little about the radiation environment that they will spend the large majority of their time on during a mars mission. Even at solar minimum and ignoring the possibility of a solar flare, these people are going to be subjected to an extraordinary amount of radiation. It is much much nastier outside of the protection of the earth's magnetosphere. Odds of death by radiation poisoning or just serious damage due to long term exposure to medium levels of ionizing radiation are very high. In the event of a solar flare or errant impact from a cosmic ray, death would occur in a number of days.

The technical paper largely ignores this critical issue. Which means they're unlikely to be successful. On the plus side, the equivalent of sitting next to a reactor core with a few millimeters of aluminum shielding is an excellent contraceptive.

sending canned humans to mars and back ... (1)

giampy (592646) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031245)

I hope this gets actually done soon, so we can call it a day and get back to more interesting concepts like building a base in the south pole of the moon (using robot), or trying to build space elevators, or placing shades in the L1 point to regulate global warming, or, you know, maybe funding actual science (e.g. gravitational wave detectors, and plenty of other very cool missions).

Why a mixed crew (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43031303)

Why send a man AND a woman? Does he think people cant go 501 days without sex? I got that beat in spades. Sign me up. ....posting anonymously in shame.... :)

Where does... (1)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | about a year and a half ago | (#43031385)

Where does one sign up?

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