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SpaceX Wants To Go To Mars — and Has a Plan To Get There

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the it's-not-earth-musk's-after dept.

Mars 236

mknewman writes with an article at NASA SpaceFlight which lays out the details of a plan from SpaceX to send a craft to Mars, using an in-development engine ("Raptor") along with the company's Super Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle. "Additionally, Mr. Musk also introduced the mysterious MCT project, which he later revealed to be an acronym for Mars Colonial Transport. This system would be capable of transporting 100 colonists at a time to Mars, and would be fully reusable. Article is technically dense but he does seem to follow through on his promises!" This is an endeavor that's been on Elon Musk's mind for a while.

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I want to take a dump in your grandmother's mouth (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46437551)

and I have a plan to get there, too.

Perhaps Mars One and Space X are tighter than we t (4, Interesting)

ModernGeek (601932) | about 8 months ago | (#46437585)

I'm wondering if the Mars One project hasn't had a more complex working relationship than previously thought. For all we know, Mars One could just be a separatist marketing arm of Elon Musk.

Make no small dreams. (5, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 8 months ago | (#46437617)

Elon Musk = D.D. Harriman, only with bigger dreams.

And not a fictional character.

Re:Make no small dreams. (1)

westlake (615356) | about 8 months ago | (#46437791)

Elon Musk = D.D. Harriman, only with bigger dreams.

and fewer resources.

Re:Make no small dreams. (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 8 months ago | (#46437831)

"And not a fictional character."

Wait - huh - WUT?! Are you implying that Robert wrote FICTION!?!?! I'm not believing it for one second!

Good (2, Funny)

The Cat (19816) | about 8 months ago | (#46437631)

It's about time America started acting like America again.

Re:Good (2)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 8 months ago | (#46437657)

It's about time America started acting like America again.

I dunno, making grand plans and all that is great, but after the *actual* work gets outsourced to China, how do we know they'll be *really* wearing USA T-shirts when they step on Mars on our behalf?

Re:Good (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 8 months ago | (#46437983)

They will be wearing USA t-shirts. Made in China.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46437673)

Providing faster than dial-up Internet access in most cities would be a more worthy goal. Considering we're stuck with dial-up in Seattle, there is definitely room for improvement.

Re: Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46437711)

I am also in Seattle, and I just downloaded 2 games from steam at 1mbps... There are problems here though with regards to the market and associated politics

Re: Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46437747)

that's the one thing that scares me off from moving to the west coast, slow internets. I heard the bay area doesn't even fiber everywhere and people are still using DSL? what the fuck...Verizon just bumped me up to 7MB a sec for an extra ten bucks a month...giving that up would fuckin' blow, can't decide what's worse, snow or slow ass internet.

Re: Good (1, Informative)

cbhacking (979169) | about 8 months ago | (#46438165)

Seattle has Centurylink DSL (12Mbps where I live, better or worse depending on your distance from the infrastructure), cable (I don't know what they'll tell you speed-wise, I hate Comcast, but faster than the DSL), Clear WiMax (~10Mbps, last I checked), CondoInternet (specific buildings only, but it's at least 100Mbps), and a few other various options (including LTE from all of the Big 4). The eastside (and possibly other suburbs) can get FiOS from Frontier (I think they have 40+Mbps), and down south there are some other fiber options as well, or so I've heard.

Now, out in the boonies, yeah it's going to suck. Sticking near the major metropolitan areas though, you can definitely get good service.

Re: Good (1)

buybuydandavis (644487) | about 8 months ago | (#46438391)

Some of the Eastside can get FIOS. Verizon sold off their properties to Frontier, who will milk them for years to come, but will never expand.

Meanwhile, Gigabit Seattle folded up shop before ever connecting a single user.

There's no real competition to Comcast in the Seattle area.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46437827)

Providing faster than dial-up Internet access in most cities would be a more worthy goal. Considering we're stuck with dial-up in Seattle, there is definitely room for improvement.

Right, because we can only do one thing at a time! I private company *must not* spend their own money on exploring space or going to Mars until we've fixed problems A, B, and C!

Re:Good (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 months ago | (#46437901)

Right, because we can only do one thing at a time! I private company *must not* spend their own money on exploring space or going to Mars until we've fixed problems A, B, and C!

Nobody said that, and broadband penetration in the USA is pathetic, and frankly we cannot claim to be a modern nation while it's so poor. At best, we can claim to have some forward thinkers.

Re:Good (2)

michael021689 (791941) | about 8 months ago | (#46437923)

There is little I enjoy more than the timeless argument and ceaseless complaints about the USA being deficient compared to higher population density countries in services (such as mass transit and broadband) that are dependent on high population density.

Re:Good (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 months ago | (#46438011)

There is little I enjoy more than the timeless argument and ceaseless complaints about the USA being deficient compared to higher population density countries in services (such as mass transit and broadband) that are dependent on high population density.

What a coincidence! There's nothing I enjoy more about excuses about the nation which invented the internet not managing decent penetration with its massive budget.

Re:Good (1)

ThatAblaze (1723456) | about 8 months ago | (#46438061)

This just in: The economy of the US now has mass, and lots of it!

Re:Good (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 8 months ago | (#46438327)

This just in: The economy of the US now has mass, and lots of it!

You didn't think that just because it is fiat currency that all those coins and bills were weightless, did you?

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46437897)

That's the most trivial goal imaginable. People go to cities to cooperate because they aren't capable of any quality thoughts themselves. There's no reason to have that cost of living if you are capable of more and in such an event it's more important those people speak more.

Re:Good (1)

Issarlk (1429361) | about 8 months ago | (#46438807)

While you are at it, provinding food and means to grow more to all the humans would be a more worthy goal, and I am sure you agree 100% and will endure having dial up in the meantime.

Re:Good (1, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 8 months ago | (#46437845)

I don't think that this is "America", per se. This is more like "A small group of Americans", that small group consisting of Musk, his partners in crime, and his employees, with a few fanbois (like myself) thrown in for good measure. "America" is more concerned with petty nonsense, like appeasing the Muslims, gay marriage, and so-called "reality shows". And, that little freak who escaped protective custody in Canada - what's his name? Beiber?

Petty nonsense (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46438583)

While I think your comments are leaning towards sarcastic, I'll try to be nice, so you have no problem wasting money and time, to fly to a dead planet for what? Is it going to cure disease? Is it going to cause the entire human race to stop with foolish wars over religion, patriotism, or ego?

Those are A FEW problems, out of many I have with it!

When I was younger I was all into this stuff, I have at least need to admit to that. In some ways I still am with astronomy. But it is a tremendous waste of time and money that could be put to better use. Like a planet called earth, and if you think you could escape the flaws of mankind on earth by living on Mars without your mates going insane and it turning to complete chaos, you should remember humans are animals, even with are 'advanced brain' there are things you will not control.

Acting American? (1)

pablo_max (626328) | about 8 months ago | (#46438995)

I thought he was South African?

uh (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 8 months ago | (#46437643)

Article is technically dense but

But?? No but, that's actually what we want here on Slashdot!

he does seem to follow through on his promises!

I wouldn't go that far.

Orbital Sciences and SpaceX are the real players. (4, Informative)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 8 months ago | (#46437697)

SpaceX, more than any other of the "private" space companies, has shown a compentencey for building rockets.

My Ass Is Blue, or whatever the pipe dream that Jeff Bezos is dumping money into, is not a player, not just for Mars, but for any real space flight.

Orbital Sciences and SpaceX are the real players.

Re: Orbital Sciences and SpaceX are the real playe (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46437933)

SpaceX, more than any other of the "private" space companies, has shown a competency for building rockets.

Call me when their engines stop exploding [youtube.com] .

Re: Orbital Sciences and SpaceX are the real playe (5, Insightful)

cbhacking (979169) | about 8 months ago | (#46438203)

You know, if you're going to talk about the explosion of 1 (out of 9) rockets on one launch, you really should also mention the fact that they were able to complete the primary mission anyhow... they lost one nozzle, it shut down automatically, the fuel was diverted to the other nozzles, and they burned a little longer. They successfully rendezvoused with the ISS anyhow, despite a moderately explosive engine failure during launch. Let that sink in for a moment. Many rockets wouldn't even have been able to reach orbit in the case of a nozzle simply shutting down, much less blowing up.

In fairness to your complaint, though, the secondary goal of the mission was not attempted. SpaceX said they could give 95% assurance that the satellite would reach its safe orbit (not putting the ISS at risk), but NASA required over 99% assurance. Due to the extra fuel they'd had to burn, this could not be guaranteed. Still, it was highly likely they could have pulled it off, and likely would have tried under different circumstances.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org]

Re: Orbital Sciences and SpaceX are the real playe (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 8 months ago | (#46438413)

Call me when their engines stop exploding [youtube.com] .

Ring! Ring! The engine didn't explode. Let me quote directly from the youtube link you posted:

Approximately one minute and 19 seconds into last night's launch, the Falcon 9 rocket detected an anomaly on one first stage engine. Initial data suggests that one of the rocket's nine Merlin engines, Engine 1, lost pressure suddenly and an engine shutdown command was issued. We know the engine did not explode, because we continued to receive data from it. Panels designed to relieve pressure within the engine bay were ejected to protect the stage and other engines. Our review of flight data indicates that neither the rocket stage nor any of the other eight engines were negatively affected by this event.

Boldly going to the 1960s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46437703)

Is it me or is space just nostalgia at this point?

Re: Boldly going to the 1960s (2)

mknewman (557587) | about 8 months ago | (#46437865)

It's just you.

Re:Boldly going to the 1960s (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46437945)

No space x isn't doing anything Nasa wasn't already doing in the 60's. You are mistaking that sense of nostalgia for deja vi.

Groovy ... (1, Informative)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 8 months ago | (#46437705)

Groovy ... but before I care, SpaceX needs to first have humans in space.

Then I'll give a quid about their plans for space travel.

I mean, if they haven't done a manned space flight to outside the atmosphere, it is far-fetched to be running before you can walk or even stand.

The end.

Re:Groovy ... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46437843)

Why is putting humans into a forbidding, empty, hostile radiation-blasted hell so important?

Re:Groovy ... (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 8 months ago | (#46437877)

Why is putting humans into a forbidding, empty, hostile radiation-blasted hell so important?

Because it's there.

Re:Groovy ... (2)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about 8 months ago | (#46437979)

Because while this pretty blue marble we live on is mostly always habitable, there are points in its history when mass extinction events wipe out the majority of the occupants and cause everyone to start over. Sometimes inhabitants (like us) cause our own mass extinction events (interesting fact, we're killing off enough species and messing the planet up enough that we are in a period of mass extinction).

So, for survivability of our species, we really should start expanding beyond our planet (and our solar system).

And, since we don't actually know when the next mass extinction will happen, the sooner we get off this rock the better.

Re:Groovy ... (4, Interesting)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 8 months ago | (#46438169)

Err. No. If we are responsible for the extinction of other species, it's time for us to stop doing that. Escapism isn't the way to tackle life's problems, and we won't escape our propensity for stupidity by shifting locations.

And if external events are of concern to you, note that even at the height of those events, the Earth was more habitable than anywhere else. Even as the asteroids rained down, even as dust plumed into the stratosphere and temperatures first rose, then plunged, the earth remain more habitable than any place that is "not-earth". If you are concerned for the survival of the species, you should be urging us to stay.

Re:Groovy ... (5, Insightful)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about 8 months ago | (#46438677)

Settling space doesn't imply abandoning Earth. It just increases the chance that at least some humans will survive in case something takes out Earth.

Re:Groovy ... (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 8 months ago | (#46438953)

It also implies expanding the box of our thinking about survivability.

You don't just take humans to other worlds - you take fauna and flora of all shapes and sizes as well.

It also implies a lot of other very useful advancements in our industrial base - for one thing, anything which encourages a stable off-world resource and industrial operation is a huge advancement for the biosphere here on Earth, since it means we can think about permanently moving polluting or risky processes off the planet entirely (not to mention, potentially bootstrap through to a resource environment much richer then the one we're currently in).

Re:Groovy ... (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 8 months ago | (#46438137)

Mod parent up.

George Mallory knew it. Hell, Robert Burns knew it back in the 1700s. "A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"

Re:Groovy ... (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 8 months ago | (#46438599)

The same argument can be used for sending cows into space, or muffins, or lighthouses. Why would you send a lighthouse into space? Because it's there.

Re:Groovy ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46437961)

Because there's not enough room here.

Re:Groovy ... (2, Interesting)

Chas (5144) | about 8 months ago | (#46438033)

Because there's not enough room here.

Bullshit. If it weren't for human greed, this planet could easily support a population TWICE what it is today.

There's plenty of physical space on the planet to house everyone with plenty of space so that people aren't stacked like sardines.

Also, shipping people off to another planet to build dinky little concrete bunkers as "outposts" is no solution either.
We need the technology to actually turn Mars into a truly habitable, usable world. Even if the surface is a wasteland.

The big bullet points are this.

1: Sending people to Mars isn't a huge deal. We could do it today if we wanted.
2: Sending the equipment and supplies necessary to set up a sustainable colony is, at this point, VASTLY prohibitive.
3: In addition you have the same problems for transporting the fuel and supplies necessary for a full RETURN TRIP as well in case of disaster. Whatever the bright eyed suicide wannabes think, we shouldn't be sending people to Mars with "death" being the only way off the planet.

In short, it might be better to build a colony satellite in Mars orbit first. This way you can shuttle people to and from the planet, as well as set up as a resupply depot without the massive physical hurdles of precision landing fragile gear and supplies on-planet. So, a couple of closely spaced (pun unintentional) two-way missions with the hulls for the beginnings of a space station. And more modules can be brought in with future missions.

Continue this way until it's we have a safety net to build a sizeable facility on-planet.
Once the on-planet facility is built and vetted, move a portion of the supplies on-planet.

Slower, but much safer in the long run than just shooting people out to the planet to die.

Re:Groovy ... (1)

michael021689 (791941) | about 8 months ago | (#46438095)

I think that you are looking at this in an overly negative way. Going to live another place isn't the same as going somewhere to die despite the similar actions taken. Someone going to a small colony on Mars would be no different from Polynesians crossing oceans or people packing up and moving across the continent in 1800s. Leaving behind an old life is not the same as throwing away your life.

Re:Groovy ... (5, Insightful)

cbhacking (979169) | about 8 months ago | (#46438231)

TWICE, eh? Look up the doubling time on world population. Hell, I'll do it for you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W... [wikipedia.org]
The short version is, given enough resources, the human population can now double more than once just in a single lifetime. We expect to hit a peak at around 2025 - that's barely over a decade away, now - but if we instead did away with that "human greed" you claim would allow supporting twice as many people, that would give a reprieve of somewhere between 20 years (assuming the historical trend of "each doubling takes half the time of the one before" holds) to possibly as much as 50 years (the estimate for the time to get from half the predicted 2025 pop to 2025). Then we're full up, again.

Aside from your 3rd point, which is frankly stupid (we've been sending people into space without an escape option for half a century now even though recovery from low earth orbit isn't nearly as hard, and yeah, sometimes they died...) the rest of what you say is probably true enough, or at least worth considering. But the argument that we could double the Earth's carrying capacity, as though that would grant more than a few decades reprieve, is bogus. We need a better option.

Re:Groovy ... (4, Interesting)

TuringCheck (1989202) | about 8 months ago | (#46438299)

Isn't "death" the only way off this planet too?

Besides, colonisation of planets requires people reproducing there, as a result their descendanta being unable to live on Earrh. Sending people by rocket is too expensive to be used for population export.

Re:Groovy ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46438047)

Why is putting humans into a forbidding, empty, hostile radiation-blasted hell so important?

The same thing that always causes white flight. Hey, Musk is from South Africa, he knows what the score is!

Re:Groovy ... (5, Insightful)

blueturffan (867705) | about 8 months ago | (#46437971)

Groovy ... but before I care, SpaceX needs to first have humans in space.

Then I'll give a quid about their plans for space travel.

I mean, if they haven't done a manned space flight to outside the atmosphere, it is far-fetched to be running before you can walk or even stand.

The end.

When Kennedy made his famous "We choose to go to the moon" speech, the USA had exactly 1 successful manned spaceflight - that being Alan Shepard's 15-minute suborbital hop. SpaceX has multiple successful launches, and are working on a manned version of their Dragon spacecraft.

What Musk is doing is pointing to a finish line that will take many years to accomplish. There will likely be setbacks along the way, but like Kennedy he's setting a grand vision -- hopefully I'll see that vision realized in my lifetime.

Re:Groovy ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46438423)

When Kennedy made his famous "We choose to go to the moon" speech, the USA had exactly 1 successful manned spaceflight

Still one more than Space X. That and the power to print money without breaking the law.

Re:Groovy ... (5, Informative)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 8 months ago | (#46438509)

working on a manned version of their Dragon spacecraft.

As you probably know, the current Dragon is already capable of carrying humans, it's just not "man-rated" yet because it lacks a launch-abort escape system. They will probably begin manned test flights by the end of 2015.

In the meantime, SpaceX continues to push the envelope on other fronts. Next weekend's CRS-3 launch will have landing legs, and attempt a "soft splashdown" in the ocean. By next year they could be regularly recovering and reusing the F9 first stage, which would dramatically reduce the cost of spaceflight. That alone would be a game changer, but that's just one of many innovations they're working on.

I'm just old enough to remember the Apollo program, and to me, the last couple of years have been the most exciting period of space exploration since the early 80s. The Shuttle was supposed to usher in the era of reusable spacecraft, but it turned out to be far more difficult than expected. Instead of 50 flights per year, we were lucky to get even a 10th of that volume. We've been stuck in LEO ever since. Right now, SpaceX is well positioned to be the first to give us the ability to get beyond that again.

I can hardly wait!

Re:Groovy ... (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 7 months ago | (#46439095)

As you probably know, the current Dragon is already capable of carrying humans, it's just not "man-rated" yet because it lacks a launch-abort escape system. They will probably begin manned test flights by the end of 2015.

The first two tests required for man-rating Dragon are scheduled for this year.

Note that the are unmanned missions, testing the launch-escape system.

I'm just old enough to remember the Apollo program, and to me, the last couple of years have been the most exciting period of space exploration since the early 80s.

Ditto. Ten when Armstrong took his "small step".

Wants to go to Mars... (1)

koan (80826) | about 8 months ago | (#46437725)

Why?

Re:Wants to go to Mars... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46437779)

Why not?

But really, I think the chance to found a new world is enough of a reason in itself. The opportunity to create a utopia [youtube.com] there in your own image, unfettered by the inertia of millennia-old society here -- where else could you imagine Manna [marshallbrain.com] happening?

Re:Wants to go to Mars... (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 8 months ago | (#46438917)

A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure... ;-)

Re:Wants to go to Mars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46437921)

Because it is there.

Because having all of humanity on a single ball of rock is "putting all your eggs in a single basket". Dinosaurs tried that and it didn't go so well.

Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (0, Troll)

Nutria (679911) | about 8 months ago | (#46437739)

even very smart, very successful, technologically savvy people have impossible delusions (in this case that humans can live for long periods beyond everything that we take for granted on Earth).

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46437759)

But he is not delusional for realizing the only way to survive long term is to get off this rock.

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46437995)

Long term? There were no humans a million years ago, and there won't be any a million years from now. Evolution is still happening, and our population is increasing by 20000 people a day. Given that only 24 people in history ever went further than Low Earth Orbit, and even then it was for a high-tech camping weekend that took 10% of the GDP of the USA, it is utterly delusional to talk about long term anything for people in space.

And talking about "this rock" is just so off-your-rocker completely bonkers it's sad.

"Delusion" doesn't even begin to touch the surface of the mental illnesses that Space Nutters have.

Musk can be like Howard Hughes, you know. Hughes also did many things but ended up a 90 pound filthy wreck surrounded by bottles of his own urine. If Musk keeps clinging to the delusions of the space propaganda of his youth, he might end up like that as well.

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46438019)

Well, we know Musk has started a successful car company, a successful solar power company and a successful rocket company.

Now tell us what you've done and we'll compare credentials and decide who's delusional.

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (1)

Nutria (679911) | about 8 months ago | (#46438037)

Howard Hughes had plenty of successful aeronautical and electronics companies, but still went mad.

(Not saying that EM will...)

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46438209)

Wow, what logic! Amazing! You've shown that Elon Musk can't possibly be delusional because I didn't get lucky a decade ago to have smart partners in Paypal! Therefore, it also follows the universe is actually quite small and physics and engineering are mere annoyances to someone who has a successful business!

How can you type? Doesn't corporate cock get in the way? And what if Musk is delusional? Does the psychiatrist making the diagnosis also need to have three companies? What about his cardiologist? Does he have to have three businesses to make accurate diagnoses? Oh the logic of a six year old!

And I was wrong about one thing, the population is increasing by 200000 people a day. That means you'd need SIXTY SIX THOUSAND Saturn V launches EVERY. DAY. just to keep population growth at ZERO. Never mind getting the entire species "off this rock".

And even if you invoke the magical 3D printer to 3D print sixty six thousand (fully fueled!) Saturn Vs a day, where would these people go? The Moon? For a weekend?

The big question you space cowards never answer is: who picks who gets to go? Elon Musk will then generously bring everyone into space because he's so generous?

Space. Nuttery.

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46439055)

Still waiting to hear why I should trust your opinion over Musk's.

Or are you just someone who spends their time tearing down people who actually go out and accomplish something.

Silly me, this is Slashdot. Carry on.

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (1)

michael021689 (791941) | about 8 months ago | (#46438105)

So your argument is that because we are evolving and won't be the same in millions of years we should just give up on progress and the preservation of the species? It must suck to live with that bleak outlook.

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46438481)

Uh, what? No one seriously has an outlook much beyond next month. I mean the Sun will expand into a red giant, are you going to build an asbestos roof? Come on, your comic-book sci-fi goth romantic visions are fine for an angsty teenager, but as an adult? Grow up.

Who said we have to "give up progress" because we are still evolving? Are you somehow conflating one man's pet project to put his dickprint on Mars with "progress"? There's so much wrong with your post it would take months just to get the basics right first.

And you've got idiots like l0n3s0m3phr34k who can't even tell its from it's, but have mapped out the imaginary future of hypothetical beings living on a hostile dead rock with nothing on it except for deadly radiation and an atmosphere unable to support life. Fantastic. He talks about the evolution of a new species and how interesting it would be to see. Um, wouldn't you need to radically increase your lifespan first to see that? Geez. The mental power in here could theoretically light a 1970s LED for about a millisecond.

And just to make it clear: my argument is that your arguments about "the species" are complete horseshit in the light of actual reality. You know, little things like evolution still happening and the fact that the sheer amount of technology and resources required for your fantasy are self-negating. That's right. If we had the technology to live on Mars, we damn well have the technology to live right here. What's so special about Mars? Isn't it just a "rock" too?

Or is a cold, distant, lifeless, radiation-blasted dead hell your salvation in the sky because you don't like life on Earth?

What do we call people like that? Religious fuckwits? Suicide bombers? Depressed misanthropes? Friendless virgins with halitosis and poor taste in fiction?

Oh, and *what* preservation of the species? Who are you to talk about the whole species? We don't even give a fuck about people right now, but you think there's some sort of "preservation of the species" in the far future that's supposed to motivate us?

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (5, Interesting)

l0n3s0m3phr34k (2613107) | about 8 months ago | (#46438191)

We will see a spike in human evolution once we have children on Mars too. Should prove interesting, less gravity, different radiation levels, different food, even different bacteria. Taller, skinner, different skin color...each new generation will be further from the "Baseline" until eventually it becomes it's own species, unable to reproduce with Earthers.

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46439005)

especially since Elon Musk plans on only sending redheads to mars...

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 8 months ago | (#46437773)

(in this case that humans can live for long periods beyond everything that we take for granted on Earth).

Are you sure that's delusional? Incredibly difficult, sure I'll grant you that. Not going to happen this decade, certainly. We'd need at least two successful Biosphere2 experiments before that will happen, and that's going to take a long time to test.

But completely delusional, would you really go that far? Because to me it seems like something possible, at least. Especially if you can get regular shipments from earth for a while.

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (1)

Nutria (679911) | about 8 months ago | (#46438133)

Are you sure that's delusional?

Yes, because I've researched:
(a) how difficult it is for humans to work in space suits, and
(b) how much the human body does not like ionizing radiation, and
(c) how fucking cold it is on Mars.

We'd need at least two successful Biosphere2 experiments before that will happen,

Hah.

Who builds those biospheres? Lots of people with lots of trucks and cranes. Trucks and cranes... just don't run on Mars. No oxygen.

Where do they build them? In Arizona. Nice, warm, sunny, near-to-civilization Arizona.

Not only build it in deep, frozen Antarctica, but have it succeed in deep, frozen Antarctica and then I'll be relatively impressed.

But still it won't protect people from radiation.

What, you say? Live in caves?

Digging caves is hard. It takes lots and lots of heavy machinery. Which must be transported to Mars, along with fuel and spare parts, and machine shops, etc, etc, ad nauseum.

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 8 months ago | (#46438197)

Well, that without a doubt is a better comment than your previous one.

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (1)

l0n3s0m3phr34k (2613107) | about 8 months ago | (#46438205)

I see 3d printers and pre-built assembly pods building what we need before we actually send the colonists. I really think though our best bet for colonizing is inside the Trench...we could seal off part of it, one of the branches, and start terraforming..

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (1)

Nutria (679911) | about 8 months ago | (#46438395)

Maybe, but why? There's nothing on Mars but... dust and rock. Who the hell wants to live in Antarctica-meets-Atacama-meets-115,000_foot_mountain (not that puny 35,000 foot Everest)?

Really, that's the bottom line.

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (1)

Issarlk (1429361) | about 7 months ago | (#46439107)

To advance rocket know how with a nice ambitious goal so we can go more interesting but less glamorous places more easilly after.

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (1)

Nutria (679911) | about 7 months ago | (#46439153)

To just advance rocket tech, why send people? Why not bigger (or multiple) robots?

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (2)

tragedy (27079) | about 8 months ago | (#46438477)

Yes, because I've researched:
(a) how difficult it is for humans to work in space suits, and

It's certanly more difficult than working in regular clothes without a breathing apparatus. You won't find anyone arguing that it isn't. That's not the same as impossible. Also, remember that working in a spacesuit in freefall isn't going to be the same thing as working in a spacesuit on a planet with gravity that's on the same order of magnitude as Earth gravity. Restrictive yes, but better spacesuit designs and better tools for compensating for the limited mobility can help with that.

(b) how much the human body does not like ionizing radiation, and

It doesn't, but it's not much worse on the surface of Mars than on the ISS. Unlike on the ISS, there's the option of being covered by large amounts of shielding most of the time, whether you're indoors in a shelter or driving around in a vehicle.

(c) how fucking cold it is on Mars.

That's just silly. It can get very cold on Mars at the poles and in winter. Most of the time, at moderate latitudes, temperatures on Mars are within typical Earth ranges. Since no-one will be outside without an insulated spacesuit, that shouldn't be a problem. Not to mention the fact that we're talking about an atmosphere 1% as thick as the atmosphere of Earth. So, even if the temperature is -150 degrees celcius, the actual amount of heat that the air can absorb is far, far less than -150 degrees celcius air on Earth. There's a reason that a vacuum flask can keep hot liquids hot or cold liquids cold for extended periods of time. There are still convection currents of course, but, once again, you would be in an insulated space suit.

Who builds those biospheres? Lots of people with lots of trucks and cranes. Trucks and cranes... just don't run on Mars. No oxygen.

Uhhh... Yeah. Because Mars colonists would totatally just buy regular trucks and cranes from some local vendor, fly them to Mars, then scratch their heads when the motors won't start. Or, maybe instead of something that idiotic, they could actually use something that works on Mars? There's electrically powered equipment powered via umbilicals to a power plant, batteries, maybe even RTGs. Alternately, they actually could use construction equipment off the lot powered by locally generated methane and oxygen (generated using the sabatier reaction and electrolysis, respectively). The oxygen tank would need to be four times as big as the fuel tank and fed through a regulator into a modified air intake. It might need a modified radiator, modified logic on the engine computer, maybe a regulator on the exhaust itself, but otherwise wouldn't need much modification.

Where do they build them? In Arizona. Nice, warm, sunny, near-to-civilization Arizona.
Not only build it in deep, frozen Antarctica, but have it succeed in deep, frozen Antarctica and then I'll be relatively impressed.

Mars is always sunny and, in any location we might colonize early, there's never any precipitation. Antarctica, not so much. Frankly, Arizona seems closer to the environment of Mars than Antarctica. Maybe the Atacama desert would be better?

But still it won't protect people from radiation.

What, you say? Live in caves?

Digging caves is hard. It takes lots and lots of heavy machinery. Which must be transported to Mars, along with fuel and spare parts, and machine shops, etc, etc, ad nauseum.

You don't dig caves. Caves are, technically speaking, Karst formations. Caves are pre-existing geological features that you locate and move in to. Ditto for lava tubes.

The things you mention are challenges, certainly, but not exactly surprises. Also not impossible obstacles.

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (2)

Nutria (679911) | about 8 months ago | (#46438619)

maybe even RTGs

I wouldn't get my hopes up...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator#Efficiency [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator#Terrestrial [wikipedia.org]

Maybe the Atacama desert would be better?

If the construction crews wore the kind of suits that someone would wear at 115,000 ft altitude.

generated using the sabatier reaction and electrolysis, respectively

Where will all of the feed stock come from?

I've got the sneaking suspicion that lots and lots of people don't realize what a really, really deep chain of industry is required to build something as simple as a one-speed bicycle.

You don't dig caves.

My fault. Should have said "tunnels", because maybe there aren't Martian caves where we think it's best (or even "ok") to live.

And even if there are, what if they have to be extended, enlarged, strengthened, etc?

Bottom line: why would anyone live in a place that's drier and colder than the Atacama, has much less atmosphere, and is a minimum of 34M miles from everyone else? (Because of the distance and gravity, "Because it's there" is a Very Nonsensical Reason.)

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46438889)

I recommend checking out Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars (and the rest of his Mars Trilogy). He clearly put a lot of thought into what would be necessary to colonize (and terraform) Mars. Of course, it would be really, really expensive (and the fact that colonizing Mars is super-expensive is significant to the plot), but people have thought through things like how to run construction machines without oxygen. Red Mars was published in 1993, so the science/technology is relatively up to date. It's set in 2026 and the technology is more advanced than today's but still looks perfectly reasonable for 2026. That doesn't mean it's going to happen, just that technology does not seem to be an issue given a reasonable amount of funding---the larger issue is that a "reasonable amount of funding" for getting to Mars is a lot of money. I wish SpaceX luck, but I'm not sure they'll make it.

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 8 months ago | (#46438999)

Bottom line: why would anyone live in a place that's drier and colder than the Atacama, has much less atmosphere, and is a minimum of 34M miles from everyone else? (Because of the distance and gravity, "Because it's there" is a Very Nonsensical Reason.)

Well for one thing, there's a heck of a lot of geologists and biologists who would love to be able to detailed analysis of as much of Mars as they want, whenever they want.

A long term habitation mission which was focused on answering whether there was previously life on mars, and is life today, would be a huge scientific boon.

There are other questions we can tackle too: for one thing, where all the alien civilizations? Exploring the solar system's body's is one way to try and answer that - we've lived on Earth long enough to possibly have wiped out incidental probes or debris that landed, but relatively stable geological surfaces elsewhere could have preserved things.

Not to mention, determining what the requirements and experiences of off-world human habitation are is pretty important - depending on your perspective. Strictly speaking there's no reason for us to figure out how to live underwater, but we've conducted a number of scientific missions involving long term pressurization doing exactly that (the important lesson learned: don't give the scientists carte blanche to demand whatever tests they want, whenever they want. Biopsy's aren't fun at the best of times).

There's also biosphere questions that are worth answering: missions that demand we improve our ability to manage artificial environments mean we can improve the way we do it on Earth well ahead of any immediate need, and hopefully with enough lead time to bring the costs down. At the end of the day though, fundamental science is well - fundamental. Technology is not a straight line, nor is the path even obvious and the only way you make progress is by advancing as many fields as you can all at the same time.

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (1)

Nutria (679911) | about 7 months ago | (#46439067)

What you describe are science missions, which is kinda reasonable, since humans are much more flexible than robots.

But why not spend the money and mass required to keep humans alive on even larger and more complicated robots?

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46437949)

This is not proof he delusional. He thinks everyone want to drive a piece of shit electric car. That's a sign of his delusion.

Re:Sadly, Elon Musk is proof that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46438027)

I didn't want to drive an electric car until my friend dragged me to test drive a Tesla. It's the best car I've ever driven. I just wish that I could afford one.

I wrote the article! (5, Interesting)

baldusi (139651) | about 8 months ago | (#46437891)

Glad that yoy liked it. That engine is an enabler. Methane/oxygen works incredibly well in gas-gas cycle. It's unbeatable for that.
What I can tell is that Elon is serious in his desires. But you have to understand that the reason for that is that he has the vision and he's actually doing an ambitious but realistic plan. Next week flight will have legs on the first stage. And they'll try to pin point land it on the sea. If they do, the guys at the Cape with the big red button might let them try to land it in US soild next. But if not, that's still the cheapest rocket in its category in the world. Their modus operandi is realistic and bold. We'd better follow him because we might be watching history in the making.

Re:I wrote the article! (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 8 months ago | (#46437999)

Good job writing the article, nice and detailed.

That engine is an enabler. Methane/oxygen works incredibly well in gas-gas cycle. It's unbeatable for that.

One thing I didn't understand from the article, and maybe I just missed it; why haven't other people tried the methane/oxygen yet, if it's so good?

Re:I wrote the article! (1)

tragedy (27079) | about 8 months ago | (#46438537)

The advantages for methane that are mentioned in the article are that it's cleaner burning than kerosene, which means more re-usability for engines. Also for Mars missions it can be made in situ using electrolysis and the sabatier process.

Re:I wrote the article! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46438945)

Because LH2/LOX is more efficient as a fuel/oxidiser mix. But being a fully cryogenic mix, it's a real bitch to work with (particularly LH2), which means it's expensive. So far, 'be cheap' hasn't been a major factor in government funded rockets so the more efficient LH2/LOX mix has been used. For SpaceX, 'a bit less efficient but a lot cheaper' makes Methane/LOX a more attractive mix than going for the optimum mix, and has enough advantages over RP1/LOX to be worth the development costs.

Re:I wrote the article! (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 8 months ago | (#46439003)

Good job writing the article, nice and detailed.

That engine is an enabler. Methane/oxygen works incredibly well in gas-gas cycle. It's unbeatable for that.

One thing I didn't understand from the article, and maybe I just missed it; why haven't other people tried the methane/oxygen yet, if it's so good?

Possibly cost? Kerosene is mostly longer chain elements which are the major component of what you get out of an oil refinery. Methane is much more special order, and harder to transport since you have to keep it liquid (so you're back to needing dual cryostat tanks).

Of course all this changes if you're going somewhere where a planet spanning oil infrastructure is not, but lightweight hydrocarbons are easy to get.

Warp Drive? (1)

NetNinja (469346) | about 8 months ago | (#46437927)

If he invents warp drive the Vulcans will take us there.

Re:Warp Drive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46438261)

You want us to hitch a ride to Mars once we invent warp drive? Perhaps we could ask the Vulcans to take up bus driving on earth while we're at it?

The point of Star Trek is to inspire people to advance humanity. Interpreting warp drive as something that is the final goal for human improvement is contraproductive. You should realize that there will always be new goals, and that is something good.

An Airforce General once said... (4, Insightful)

wisebabo (638845) | about 8 months ago | (#46437953)

A new plane doesn't make a new engine possible. A new engine makes a new plane possible.

It's great that there Elon Musk is pushing out gains in performance, reusability and most importantly cost in chemical engine design! Kudos to him (and his company).

Of course for the real exploration of the solar system to begin, we'll need nuclear (fusion!) or other such unrealized technologies. Still it's a good start!

Re:An Airforce General once said... (2)

jamstar7 (694492) | about 8 months ago | (#46438127)

A new plane doesn't make a new engine possible. A new engine makes a new plane possible.

It's great that there Elon Musk is pushing out gains in performance, reusability and most importantly cost in chemical engine design! Kudos to him (and his company).

Of course for the real exploration of the solar system to begin, we'll need nuclear (fusion!) or other such unrealized technologies. Still it's a good start!

It's an excellent start for high lift capacity. You really really REALLY don't want to use nuclear engines in a biosphere, you want to use them in space.

Re:An Airforce General once said... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46438253)

Well, if you can build a nuclear engine which burns 100% of it's neutron flux, then it could possibly be used in the atmosphere.

Er, wait, there is still the concern over what happens if the engine goes 'non-nominal' and spews tonnes of radioactive material across the landscape.

Re:An Airforce General once said... (0)

dkf (304284) | about 8 months ago | (#46438439)

if you can build a nuclear engine which burns 100% of it's neutron flux

True 100%? In something that can fly under its own power? Then you can use in an atmosphere and you're powering it all by fairy tears and unicorn farts, because you're using magic and not technology.

Re:An Airforce General once said... (1)

cbhacking (979169) | about 8 months ago | (#46438731)

Eh. Better yet, build a nuclear rocket that doesn't release any radioactive material at all. After all, you only need the heat. Use a propellant that absorbs UV and flow it around a nuclear lightbulb [wikipedia.org] , and you have a rocket many times as efficient as anything we can build today, even at the low end of its theoretical range. Anyhow, it should be usable in atmosphere...

Re:An Airforce General once said... (3, Interesting)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 8 months ago | (#46438417)

Of course for the real exploration of the solar system to begin, we'll need nuclear (fusion!) or other such unrealized technologies.

I'm not sure I'd call nuclear "unrealized." [wikipedia.org] From the sounds of it, they had something ready to be assembled.

Terrible writing. (2, Insightful)

labradore (26729) | about 8 months ago | (#46437955)

Is anyone making sense of this? I know what all the terms are but the facts are more or less jumbled up together in ways that don't lend themselves to meaningful comparison.

Point Rocket (1)

Luthair (847766) | about 8 months ago | (#46437981)

Light match. Its the same plan we all have.

Send him to Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46438123)

An interesting experiment would be for him to go with 99 other libertarian fellow to see how they could survive without big govt

Profitable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46438351)

We did away with NASA for the most part to privatize it. ; (
So I wonder how profitable it is for a corporation to go to mars on a science mission? Paid for no doubt by our taxes, so what's the diffrence, other than corporate profits?

From low earth orbit directly to Mars? (1)

steve.cri (2593117) | about 8 months ago | (#46438609)

That seems bold. Everybody else so far has practiced their aim on the moon first.

reusable (2)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about 8 months ago | (#46438767)

This system would be capable of transporting 100 colonists at a time to Mars, and would be fully reusable.

I initially misread that as saying that the 100 colonists would be reusable.

Well, they need something to eat!

He just needs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46438771)

to grow buy a good mafia suit and a cat he's attached to and slick his hair back..nah Elon Musk can't do the evil genius.

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