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Visiting Our Red Space Neighbor

Zonk posted about 9 years ago | from the just-next-door dept.

Mars 209

Enthusiasm for visiting our red space neighbor seems to be growing. m4dm4n writes "A study carried out by MIT's Aeronautics and Astronautics department has concluded that getting men to Mars in the 2020 timeframe is possible. The intelligent re-use of crew habitat modules, propulsion stages, and engines in various missions will enable NASA to significantly reduce their initial timeline which was well past 2030." Relatedly, ErikPeterson wrote to mention a Space.com article where Neil Armstrong says getting to Mars may be easier than getting to the Moon was back in the day, because of the hurdles they had to overcome. From the article: "It will be expensive, it will take a lot of energy and a complex spacecraft. But I suspect that even though the various questions are difficult and many, they are not as difficult and many as those we faced when we started the Apollo (space program) in 1961." We're starting to understand more about the red planet as well, as madstork2000 writes "The BBC is reporting on the possibility of active volcanoes on Mars. So now there is water, heat, and soon big business when 4Frontiers gets there. Hopefully we'll get a Google Mars soon to check it out up close."

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Business on Mars (2, Insightful)

geomon (78680) | about 9 years ago | (#13523552)

So now there is water, heat, and soon big business when 4Frontiers gets there.

What will they make and who are they going to sell it too? I'm open for making money on Mars, but I haven't read one proposal that looks like it would make money.

I can see why a country would want to go to Mars. There is always the national honor, staking territorial claims, etc. for a Mars landing. I just can't see spending billions of dollars for no financial return at all.

How much money has a business made from the US landing on the Moon?

Re:Business on Mars (1)

techrolla (902384) | about 9 years ago | (#13523579)

What about the UAC?

You know this was coming..... (2, Interesting)

CDMA_Demo (841347) | about 9 years ago | (#13524138)


Inhibition of Mars will change the 2048 electoral map?

Re:Business on Mars (1)

ReVeL75 (913761) | about 9 years ago | (#13523580)

Didn't they invent Velcro when landing on the moon?

Re:Business on Mars (1)

oogoliegoogolie (635356) | about 9 years ago | (#13523595)

I think that was teflon. Imagine a world without it.

Re:Business on Mars (3, Informative)

flyingsquid (813711) | about 9 years ago | (#13523749)

I think that was teflon. Imagine a world without it.

According to Wikipedia, "Teflon is the brand name of a polymer compound discovered by Roy J. Plunkett (1910-1994) of DuPont in 1938 and introduced as a commercial product in 1946." As for Velcro, "The hook and loop fastener was invented in 1948 by Georges de Mestral, a Swiss engineer. The idea came to him after he took a close look at the seed pod burrs which kept sticking to his dog on their daily walk in the Alps."

Re:Business on Mars (2, Informative)

jackbird (721605) | about 9 years ago | (#13523770)

Yes, Teflon came out of the Manhattan Project, specifically the gas uranium enrichment work at Oak Ridge, TN. Uranium Hexafluoride is nasty, nasty stuff, and Teflon was the only material they found they could make workable valve seals from.

Re:Business on Mars (4, Funny)

IWorkForMorons (679120) | about 9 years ago | (#13523909)

As for Velcro, "The hook and loop fastener was invented in 1948 by Georges de Mestral, a Swiss engineer. The idea came to him after he took a close look at the seed pod burrs which kept sticking to his dog on their daily walk in the Alps."

No it wasn't. It was sold to a businessman in a big city near Carbon Creek, Pennsylvania, by a strange woman with pointy ears [startrek.com] in the late 50's.

Yup, I know I'm going to get modded down for referencing that, but I've got karma to burn...

Re:Business on Mars (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13523593)

What will they make and who are they going to sell it too

Wasn't Pizza Hut interested in advertising on the moon at some point? If they also do it on mars, they have the pepperoni-cheese combo.

The all new Houston pizza with galactic cheese and deep space pepperoni*.


* There may be a small supplement for drinkable water.

Re:Business on Mars (1, Insightful)

arbitraryaardvark (845916) | about 9 years ago | (#13523841)

How much money has a business made from the US landing on the Moon?

About 16 billion? The company is known as Halliburton, aka Brown and Root.
See also Mohole, Vietnam, TVA nukes, Iraq...

Tourism (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13523858)

Mars is where you'll go for the legal three-breasted prostitutes and monkey knife fights.

What happens on Mars stays on Mars.

Re:Business on Mars (0)

TinyManCan (580322) | about 9 years ago | (#13523914)

How much money has a business made from the US landing on the Moon?

_A_ business? Try entire industries. For example, how many companies fortunes have been made with digital computers?

Apollo brought a massive boost to the technological knowhow and capabilities of the entire world.

Re:Business on Mars (1)

geomon (78680) | about 9 years ago | (#13524073)

For example, how many companies fortunes have been made with digital computers?

So you are claiming that, without the Moon landing, digital computers woudln't have been invented? [blinkenlights.com]

Re:Business on Mars (1, Flamebait)

Inspector Lopez (466767) | about 9 years ago | (#13524111)

For example, how many companies fortunes have been made with digital computers?

Many. But what evidence is there that digital computers would not exist in their current form without the Space Program? Roughly speaking, the "robustness" needs of spacecraft lead to the use of ancient, low performance, extraordinarily well understood, mature, technologies.

As prior comments have indicated, "teflon" and "velcro" were invented long before the Apollo program, and were invented to address very terrestrial applications.

Just what technologies do we now depend upon that were developed to support manned space flight? Certainly there are many technologies associated with unmanned spacecraft that we rely upon, such as GPS, satellite phones, NOAA solar wind measurements, etc. The horrifying ground truth here is that "science" and "technology" have been far more rapidly and inexpensively advanced by unmanned spacecraft than by manned spacecraft.

I'm in the space science business myself, and I see red whenever I read "space science" and "manned spacecraft" in the same sentence, because a hardnosed accounting simply cannot justify "manned space flight" for science reasons.

On the other hand, I'm very much in favor of manned spaceflight, and I'm in favor of going to Mars. But not because of a Science mission --- but rather, because this is the kind of challenge that humans should set for themselves.

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

  --- notorious Massachusetts liberal John F. Kennedy, Address at Rice University on the Space Effort, September 12, 1962 http://www.rice.edu/fondren/woodson/speech.html [rice.edu]

-----

Can anyone imagine W speaking such words (thank god that "nuclear" doesn't appear within)? W's idea of space flight seems to have more to do with Rapture than Noble Endeavor. Perhaps we should attempt to persuade W that Osama bin Laden, and huge oil deposits are on Mars. It is not inconceivable that he'd believe it --- this is, after all, the same president who thinks that Intelligent Design is a reasonable alternative to the modern theory of evolution; the same president who remarked that no one expected the levees to break.

Okay, that was a karma damaging late hit: sorry.

Re:Business on Mars (5, Insightful)

nunchux (869574) | about 9 years ago | (#13523925)

I can see why a country would want to go to Mars. There is always the national honor, staking territorial claims, etc. for a Mars landing. I just can't see spending billions of dollars for no financial return at all.

The most obvious is all of the tech that will be discovered along the way, which would be valuable both to private industry and the military. And that company would hold the patents. This would also establish that organization as the premier space exploration/transport company... Think what it would mean to their earth-based enterprises.

The second answer is marketing. This company would be in the news every day for years, and they would certainly be in every schoolchild's history books for centuries to come. Doesn't Coke have a roughly $1.5 billion advertising budget? Not saying they'd be the one to do it (though Virgin does have a cola, too...) Putting this kind of money into the greatest technological accomplishment in history may be worth it...
   

Re:Business on Mars (4, Insightful)

flyingsquid (813711) | about 9 years ago | (#13524044)

The most obvious is all of the tech that will be discovered along the way, which would be valuable both to private industry and the military.

You could do the same thing far more efficiently by directly funding research through the National Science Foundation. Unfortunately, the NSF has seen its budget cut while funding for NASA has been increased.

I think that NASA's unmanned programs do some valuable research and they should continue, or even be expanded, but the manned program is just a publicity stunt. I mean what did the Shuttle program ever discover, other than a bunch of science-fair projects along the lines of "does classical music make plants grow better... in SPACE?" Their biggest single contribution to research has been repairing a robot- the Hubble Space Telescope. I think that says something about where space exploration is going. The sooner we get humans out of space exploration entirely, the more progress we'll make. Likewise, if there really is any way to make money from going to Mars, it will doubtless be cheaper to send robots to do it, instead of sending humans.

Re:Business on Mars (0, Troll)

Ingolfke (515826) | about 9 years ago | (#13524064)

How much money has a business made from the US landing on the Moon?

I can't quote you the exact figure, but the sound studio where the Moon Landing was staged surely made a hefty sum for use of their facilities and an agreement to keep quite.

Re:Business on Mars (1)

king-manic (409855) | about 9 years ago | (#13524145)

I can see why a country would want to go to Mars. There is always the national honor, staking territorial claims, etc. for a Mars landing. I just can't see spending billions of dollars for no financial return at all.

How much money has a business made from the US landing on the Moon?

If you count the techonology the US had to invent to get ther,e billions upon billions.

Getting men to Mars by 2020 ? (1, Troll)

Feminist-Mom (816033) | about 9 years ago | (#13523555)

What about getting women there ?

Re:Getting men to Mars by 2020 ? (4, Funny)

geomon (78680) | about 9 years ago | (#13523574)

What about getting women there ?

Geeks can't get women here, so isn't that a rhetorical question?

Re:Getting men to Mars by 2020 ? (2, Funny)

Eric604 (798298) | about 9 years ago | (#13523677)

>> What about getting women there ?
> Geeks can't get women here, so isn't that a rhetorical question?
You shouldn't reply if you think it's a rhetorical question.

Re:Getting men to Mars by 2020 ? (1)

geomon (78680) | about 9 years ago | (#13523684)

You shouldn't reply if you think it's a rhetorical question.

I wasn't sure it was rhetorical, but you are correct.

Re:Getting men to Mars by 2020 ? (1)

Eric604 (798298) | about 9 years ago | (#13523724)

I wasn't sure it was rhetorical,

I know what you're doing, you are trying to de-funnify my post.

Re:Getting men to Mars by 2020 ? (1)

geomon (78680) | about 9 years ago | (#13523778)

I know what you're doing, you are trying to de-funnify my post.

Shit! I'm sorry. I didn't mean to step on your line.

CRAP!!! I think I just did it again!

Re:Getting men to Mars by 2020 ? (1)

Dire Bonobo (812883) | about 9 years ago | (#13523614)

> What about getting women there ?

Because, as we learned early in the space program, Mars Needs Women [bmoviecentral.com] ...

.sig (1)

Morosoph (693565) | about 9 years ago | (#13523659)

(Of course on /. I get modded down for pointing out sexism.)
Unfortunately, there are a few who will mod down anything that doesn't fit their world view. I expect that you username is a 'red flag' for many such people, as is anything that is clearly 'left-wing', or, for that matter, 'right-wing' (different people).

To get modded up, you're competing with everyone. To get modded down, consider the mind-set of those who mod posts down: "I disapprove" in some form. Such a mentality isn't so likely to be strongly correlated with open-mindedness.

Re:Getting men to Mars by 2020 ? (1)

HTTP Error 403 403.9 (628865) | about 9 years ago | (#13523717)

What about getting women there ?No Tang jokes!

Re:Getting men to Mars by 2020 ? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13523748)

Good point - they will need someone to cook and clean during the trip and while the men do the science. Not to mention sex servants.

a question of priorities (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13523560)

come on people get a grip. where are your priorities?

Re:a question of priorities (2, Interesting)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 9 years ago | (#13523589)

My priorities include being as happy as possible, and learning about the universe (via space exploration) makes me happy. Got a problem with that?

Re:a question of priorities (0, Troll)

CynicalGuy (866115) | about 9 years ago | (#13523642)

If you want to be as happy as possible, I suggest you experiment with drugs. Start off with weed or ecstacy, and then work your way up to more potent substances.

It's much cheaper than actual space exploration.

Way to go slashdot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13523561)

How much did http://eriksonlinestore.com/ [eriksonlinestore.com] pay you?

Disaster Relief (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13523570)

GNAA pledges aid to Katrina victims
Associated Press, September 11 2005

In an early-morning press conference, reclusive GNAA president timecop declared that the Gay Nigger Association of America will contribute to hurricane Katrina disaster relief efforts. He issued a statement describing the efforts being undertaken to rush relief to New Orleans' former residents, many of whom are black, gay, or both. My heart tears at the sight of so many flooded niggers", timecop said.

The GNAA is contributing a currently-unknown quantity of sperm, intended to prevent starvation and malnutrition. The sperm is to be delivered this Monday to shelters across the nation. "We are having a non-stop wankathon. I believe we can do this, I believe in my niggas. We will not fail to feed NOLA's hungry refugees." Many have reporters present at the conference questioned the nutritional value of the semen being collected, eliciting angry stares from their host. Timecop did not directly answer the questions, saying "Who the hell are you? I don't see you vigorously beating off to save the niggers!"
The next item on the list was free wireless internet spanning the Southern Louisiana region, allowing access to GNAA's Lastmeasure [nimp.org] online service. Lastmeasure is provided free of charge. It is widely touted as "better than FEMA" in the charitable relief field. Lastmeasure surpasses FEMA's disaster aid service by being accessible to any graphical browser on any operating system [slashdot.org] . Lastmeasure will be the only website available, as all other http requests will be redirected. This measure is intended to minimize use of GNAA.net wireless for other than disaster-relief LM. He followed with an emotional outburst, crying out, "so many dead, rotting black shits".

Re:Disaster Relief (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13523647)

It's a sad day in river city when the Gay Niggers provide are providing more aid than FEMA..

CowboyNeil (0, Offtopic)

cnettel (836611) | about 9 years ago | (#13523572)

Repeat after me: Neil Armstrong, but CowboyNeal. They are, repeat, they are NOT, one and the same.

Re:CowboyNeil (1)

cnettel (836611) | about 9 years ago | (#13523829)

This may just seem offtopic when zonk corrects his spelling mistake without noting it in the summary. It originally said "Neal Armstrong", which was the basis for my crude joke about confusing the two.

Kuato (2, Funny)

jeffvoigt (866600) | about 9 years ago | (#13523601)

Does this mean that soon, I too could wake up next to Sharon Stone and lead a martian revolution [imdb.com] ?

Re:Kuato (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13523839)

I doubt it, your frail geek body would snap after the first kick in the face.

Sure, if they get the budget (5, Insightful)

Cerdic (904049) | about 9 years ago | (#13523636)

Considering that the government has severely increased spending (Iraq, Katrina) while decreasing money input (less taxes taken in), something is going to suffer.

Education is almost always at the front, and I'd say that NASA is second in line for the big axe.

Re:Sure, if they get the budget (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13523942)

>
>Considering that the government has severely increased spending (Iraq,
>Katrina) while decreasing money input (less taxes taken in), something
>is going to suffer.
>
>Education is almost always at the front, and I'd say that NASA is second
>in line for the big axe.

    This /., so I don't expect much rational thought, but:

Tax revenues have significantly increased since tax cuts were instituted. And, after shoveling increasingly large amounts of money at public schools for 50+ years, Johnny still can't read - in fact, education is worse than ever. One might be tempted to reach the conclusion that your underying concept of taxing people to get more money to improve education is simply wrong.

     

Re:Sure, if they get the budget (2, Informative)

daemonenwind (178848) | about 9 years ago | (#13524140)

Total income at the federal level is up.

The tax cuts enabled economic growth, which put people to work which allowed.....more incomes to be taxed!

Tax cuts are actually, at certain taxation levels, a way to INCREASE net income. It has been made clear that the Bush tax cuts were made at this level.

Red Space Neigbor? (5, Funny)

AaronStJ (182845) | about 9 years ago | (#13523639)

"Visiting our Red Space Neighbor?" What the hell? That's a terribly headline. What's wrong with saying "Mars?"

"Excuse me honey. I have to go to the big toilet room neighbor."

Re:Red Space Neigbor? (1)

agraupe (769778) | about 9 years ago | (#13523665)

If only I had mod points for this....

Re:Red Space Neigbor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13523757)

I thought it was going to be about communism

Re:Red Space Neigbor? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13523814)

"A terribly headline"? A terribly what headline? A terribly good headline? A terribly bad headline?

Your writing skills are terrible.

Re:Red Space Neigbor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13523961)

People like you are the reason the internet sucks.

Re:Red Space Neigbor? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13523981)

"Visiting our Red Space Neighbor?" What the hell? That's a terribly headline. What's wrong with saying "Mars?"

Indeed. I thought they meant the Russians.

(And you have terribly grammar.)

Re:Red Space Neigbor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13524076)

First of all I thought that was some old time cold war news...

Internet on mars (1)

ReVeL75 (913761) | about 9 years ago | (#13523643)

What would be the ping time to some server on earth?

Re:Internet on mars (1)

CriminalNerd (882826) | about 9 years ago | (#13523667)

I don't know. Because all pings will time out. XD Just play CS with bots or something. XD Too bad there's no Internet on Mars yet. If there IS access to the Internet on Earth, you can download all the music you want and the RIAA can't come after you for it. XD

Re:Internet on mars (5, Informative)

CynicalGuy (866115) | about 9 years ago | (#13523690)

Depends on where the Earth and Mars are in their orbits. Also depends on where Earth and Mars are in their daily rotations, as for a lot of the day your servers would be on the wrong side of the planets. You would need to set up a satellite relaying system, and a global radio network in order to be able to have constant communication. And even with that, there may even be times when the Sun is in the way, and communication doesn't really work. That is why some people propose using the Lagrange points as good places to put communications relays.

This is all actually important for if we ever want to actually send astronauts there.

Re:Internet on mars (2, Informative)

Chocolate Teapot (639869) | about 9 years ago | (#13523794)

Well, based on this [factmonster.com]

"...Depending on Mars's distance from Earth, which can vary by as much as 200 million mi. (322 km), radio signals from the planet can take anywhere from 4 minutes to 21 minutes to reach Earth...."

YMMV I guess.

Mars, shmars (2, Interesting)

pauljlucas (529435) | about 9 years ago | (#13523644)

I'd like to see this [nasa.gov] happen sooner. Even if there is life on Mars, it's probably only at the microbial level. However, on Europa, there could be bigger things swimming around in the ocean under the ice.

Re:Mars, shmars (1)

varmittang (849469) | about 9 years ago | (#13524092)

They might be micro, but even microbes can still kill if the immune system that can stop them. Do you want to go first, be my guess.

Excuse me for being skeptic... (1)

JetFox (868640) | about 9 years ago | (#13523646)

But I'll have to believe it when I see it. It was also said there would be colonies on the moon before I was even born...but that never happened. I'd like to see it happen, I really would...but as far as I have seen no one can back this up.

Re:Excuse me for being skeptic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13523679)

It was also said there would be colonies on the moon before I was even born
Well get your lazy ass in a flying car and freaking start a colony yourself, sheesh.

Re:Excuse me for being skeptic... (1)

Rei (128717) | about 9 years ago | (#13523817)

Colonies? The level of required infrastructure is staggering. Visits during our lifetime, yes. Bases? Perhaps. But colonies? Real, honest to god colonies (i.e., some degree of self sufficience? I doubt it. Follow, say, the entire process for producing aluminum from bauxite, and then trace back each of the chemicals that you need, all the way to ores, and you'll get the picture of just how extensive of a manufacturing base we have here on earth for producing the things we need.

Why is the return trip always ignored? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13523648)

It's funny this is hardly ever addressed, but AFAIK no spacecraft ever returned from Mars. This is not surprising as the gravity of Mars is much stronger than that of the Moon. I would reckon that the deal of escaping gravity that's about 40% that of Earth would be a non-trivial problem when all you have at your disposal is the spacecraft itself minus the fuel spent on the away trip and whatever you can make use of on Mars.

Re:Why is the return trip always ignored? (1)

CynicalGuy (866115) | about 9 years ago | (#13523715)

You could send extra fuel and supplies there before the humans and hope they aren't destroyed. Or it would be easy enough to send an extra rover with cameras to make sure the supplies aren't broken by the landing.

It would suck to get there and realize there's a hole in the tank that was supposed to store your return fuel.

Re:Why is the return trip always ignored? (4, Informative)

Chocolate Teapot (639869) | about 9 years ago | (#13523759)

That's a very interesting question, and you are right, it does often seem to b conveniently ignored. I did find a couple of rather woolly links here [iastate.edu] and here [factmonster.com] . There are of course many other links [google.co.uk] , but they seem largely preoccupied with managing food, oxygen and human waste rather than actually getting the astronauts back off the Martian surface.

Re:Why is the return trip always ignored? (2, Insightful)

A non-mouse Cow Herd (67426) | about 9 years ago | (#13524030)

Huh ? Your claim that "the return trip always ignored" is completely bogus. Any serious mission study deals with ascent and return (well, a few people have proposed 1 way missions, but they tend to not be taken very seriously). If you haven't seen it discussed, it is because you are reading fluff pieces in the popular press, rather than the actual studies.

Getting off mars is harder than getting off the moon, but it's a lot easier than getting off earth. Like any other part of a mars mission, it presents technical challenges...

Re:Why is the return trip always ignored? (1)

Ingolfke (515826) | about 9 years ago | (#13524085)

I would reckon that the deal of escaping gravity that's about 40% that of Earth would be a non-trivial

Um, can you say portable space elevator?

MOD PARENT DOWN -- PARENT IS A TROLL!!! (1)

GET THE FACTS! (850779) | about 9 years ago | (#13523654)

|>/\r3N7 (0|\|741nZ a 604753 L1nK

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN -- PARENT IS A TROLL!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13523721)


What parent? I think YOU'RE the troll.

--
Trolling all trolls since 2001.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN -- PARENT IS A TROLL!!! (1)

GET THE FACTS! (850779) | about 9 years ago | (#13523913)

No, you're the troll!

Efficiency (5, Interesting)

TopSpin (753) | about 9 years ago | (#13523655)

the study suggests that the most efficient scheme for lunar exploration would involve sending a spacecraft non-stop to the Moon's surface, and then back again

This conclusion is probably 100% accurate. Direct shots are, in general, probably more efficient. Efficiency, however, is not the only criteria.

Griffin's plans involve launching large interplanetary payloads into LEO to which a manned CEVs are docked prior to interplanetary injection. The very large benefit of this design is crew safety. The mass goes up using immense, dripping wet, snarling 100t+ boosters. People go up in small, simple, reliable systems.

Rockets fail frequently. Dramatic detonations on the pad, missed orbits due to failed stages, etc. Why are most people oblivious to this? Because there are no people on board when it happens.

NASA has got to stop killing astronauts. Griffin intends to launch people using the simplest, safest system he can come up with. That intention will probably lead to something other than enormous non-stop direct flight vehicles.

would actually increase mission safety, by decreasing the number of critical maneuvers required, such as orbital rendezvous and docking

There have been a lot of rendezvous and docking maneuvers in space and no one has yet been killed as a result. Mir was almost lost due to a fender bender with a Soyuz, but that's as close as it has gotten. I question the risk value assigned to these events in this analysis.

Armstrongs comments sounded familiar (-1, Redundant)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 9 years ago | (#13523669)

Oh wait. That's right. That's because they're from the story that was rejected 3 DAYS AGO and is sitting in my Journal.

At least things are getting better. The last time a story was posted was 10 days after I had it rejected (the one about the students from Kutztown. See my Journal for the original story)

Re:Armstrongs comments sounded familiar (2, Insightful)

CynicalGuy (866115) | about 9 years ago | (#13523741)

Do you think you might be taking all of this a bit too seriously?

Re:Armstrongs comments sounded familiar (1)

pokka (557695) | about 9 years ago | (#13523795)

Yeah, Fark had this 3 days before slashdot (as usual), and the headline was funnier too:

Neil Armstrong says a manned mission to Mars will be easier than his mission to the moon, which in his day was uphill both ways, through six feet of snow, barefoot.

Re:Armstrongs comments sounded familiar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13524031)

Well more like uphill both ways, in a vacume, sitting in a tin can.

Fossils (1)

Buster Chan (755016) | about 9 years ago | (#13523671)

I'm more inclined to trust the exploration instincts of a human, to search for fossils on Mars, than to trust a robot probe that's being remote-controlled by someone at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. No offence to JPL if they don't deserve it, but if humans get back from Mars and say they -- not under civilian monitored lie-detectors -- that they couldn't find any fossils, I'd be more inclined to believe the conspiracy theorists of the world, but that's just me.

Re:Fossils (3, Insightful)

Rakishi (759894) | about 9 years ago | (#13523888)

I like human space travel however humans are inferior to robots in one important area: cleanliness. You simply can't sterilize a human you send onto another planet like you can a robot, unless they never leave their habitat/lander (if nothing else then because dragging such sterilization equipment to mars isn't feasible).

The only "fossils" we're likely to find on Mars are microbes, and even those are probably rare which means w need every advantage in finding them. Humans simply increase the risk of contamination orders of magnitude which makes finding such microbe remains a much greater challenge.

let me be the first... (-1, Flamebait)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | about 9 years ago | (#13523699)

Due to the scope of this mission, there is no doubt that we might need too imagine several beowulf clusters...

Armstrong is wrong (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13523701)

It won't be easier to get to Mars than to the Moon because the US manned space program is no longer run by engineers, but by greedy defense contractors, paper-pushers, and ass-covering PHBs. In short: NASA no longer has the Right Stuff.

And this talk of "the" CEV is disturbing. Sounds like the same "let's-make-one-spaceship-that-can-do-it-all" approach that gave us the Shuttle.

PS - Am I the only person in this country who thinks putting a manned spacecraft (the new CEV) atop a solid rocket (Thiokol SRB; as used by Shuttle) is a really bad idea?

Re:Armstrong is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13523840)

PS - Am I the only person in this country who thinks putting a manned spacecraft (the new CEV) atop a solid rocket (Thiokol SRB; as used by Shuttle) is a really bad idea?

I guess so. Solid-fuel rockets are usually very reliable. The only failure of the Thiokol SRB that I know of is the Challenger disaster, and even then the Thiokol engineers told NASA the rocket wasn't safe to fly under those weather conditions.

I don't know how reliable the proposed CEV is going to be, but assuming it's reasonably safe and reliable, I suspect a CEV on top of a Thiokol booster is about as safe a ride to orbit as you're going to get.

Re:Armstrong is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13524082)

Actually, this whole "the CEV can do it all" thing is really dumb. The CEV is designed for low earth orbit missions. You would need to seriously upgrade the radiation protection and recycling capabilities to be able to survive several months of space travel. In short you would need to have some sort of extra attachment on to it. Thats not to mention how the astronauts feel about sitting in something so small for so long. The CEV is by no means large enough to carry the amount of supplies needed, the technology and tools needed and to ensure the mental health of the astronauts.

I believe that the current CEV designs would need to be seriously rethought and redone. None of the current candidates have the capabilites to do such a thing as a trip to mars. I hope they are seriously talking about a heavily modified and enlarged CEV. But thats just my opinion, I didn't actually see the conference and that artcile was really short on details.

duh (1)

HBI (604924) | about 9 years ago | (#13524129)

What makes you think that it wasn't back then, too?

They made it work in spite of all of the above, not because they weren't there.

Look, a blimp! (2, Interesting)

N8F8 (4562) | about 9 years ago | (#13523718)

Ever wonder is this fantastical stuff is an attempt to distract from their current manned mission problems?

Re:Look, a blimp! (2, Funny)

flyingsquid (813711) | about 9 years ago | (#13523793)

Ever wonder is this fantastical stuff is an attempt to distract from their current manned mission problems?

You raise an interesting point, but- Hey, look! Bigfoot riding a unicorn!

Spacecraft (2, Interesting)

ajwitte (849122) | about 9 years ago | (#13523801)

I suggest building one of these [wikipedia.org] and sending an entire city to Mars. Why visit when you can colonize?

NEAL Armstrong?! (1)

lampiaio (848018) | about 9 years ago | (#13523821)

Well, come to think of it... at least it's not "Neo Armstrong".

Re:NEAL Armstrong?! (1)

lampiaio (848018) | about 9 years ago | (#13523846)

looks like they corrected it. Maybe it was a subliminal reference to CowboyNeal?

How soon until this happens? (1)

GWBasic (900357) | about 9 years ago | (#13523851)

How soon until someone proposes that we not worry about the return trip and leave the astronauts there permenently?

Re:How soon until this happens? (5, Interesting)

Quinn_Inuit (760445) | about 9 years ago | (#13523918)

Heck, if I weren't married, I might take that trip. I don't know. Dying doesn't exactly appeal to me, but I could do a lot of really useful research, set up stuff so future expeditions don't have to be one-way...and see Mars. I'm no astronaut or scientist or millionaire, so I doubt I'll see it any other way in my lifetime.

I know it sounds crazy. But to walk just once under an alien sky...darnit, our children deserve the stars, and someone needs to claim that inheritance for them. IMO, if you've never looked up at the sky and wondered why we're stuck here, well, call God and see if you can get a refund or warranty repair job on your soul.

Re:How soon until this happens? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13523994)

Heck, if I weren't married, I might take that trip.
Well look on the bright side, you can always go after you're dead. [memorialspaceflights.com]

Re:How soon until this happens? (1)

Ingolfke (515826) | about 9 years ago | (#13524152)

How soon until someone proposes that we not worry about the return trip and leave the astronauts there permenently?

Once they're on their way.

But will my treo work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13523857)

Will I still be able to SSH into my box back on earth during the journey? Forget mining Mars, first someone going to have to wire it. (what happens to CAT5 at those extreme tempoerature variations/radiation)

Google Mars is Now! (3, Informative)

IanDanforth (753892) | about 9 years ago | (#13523882)

Google Earth Hacks [googleearthhacks.com] has overlays of all the planets! So if you have Google Earth [google.com] , you can have Google Mars! [googleearthhacks.com]

space elevator (1)

s0rbix (629316) | about 9 years ago | (#13523887)

I wonder what role (if any) the sapce elevator will play in getting supplies/people to Mars...

we need a spaceship (4, Interesting)

GrmpyOldPgmr (824319) | about 9 years ago | (#13523893)

It'll never happen by 2020 to 2030. Why? Because first humans have to design a real spaceship, not some skinny ass 1960's style rocket or some slightly modified space shuttle with the heat shielding falling off every third takeoff. I'm talking at least on a level with something like the ships in the original Alien movie or something on that level. It's a lot farther to Mars than to our moon. Sure we've come a long when since then but I don't think people realize there's a hell of a long way to go before we're zipping around our solar system much less our galaxy in a real spaceship. A whole new type of propulsion system needs to be designed at the very least. Also, I don't recall hearing about anyone solving the problem of astronauts being bombarded with cosmic radiation both on the way to Mars as well as once they're on the surface of Mars. I'd love to watch people strolling around on the surface of Mars as much or more than anyone else but let's face it. It's a long ways off and thinking we'll be there in 2020 or 2030 is kind of ridiculous. Just because this is the 21st century doesn't mean we're living like the fscking Jetsons yet.

Re:we need a spaceship (1)

A non-mouse Cow Herd (67426) | about 9 years ago | (#13524091)

Actually, any near future mars 'spaceship' will look a lot like ISS or Mir. Most of the technology is there. New propulsion technology isn't required. Chemical rockets, or scaled up versions of existing electric propulsion systems can do the job just fine.

As long as you have a shelter for solar flares (which you can make with water and fuel that you are going to need anyway) radiation isn't a show stopper. Yes, your crew will take an above average lifetime dose, and expose themselves to increased risk of cancer in the long term. Compared to the risk of riding on existing launch vehicles, that's a minor point.

Huge waste of money. (1)

zymano (581466) | about 9 years ago | (#13523952)

Robots do a better job. And they can stay and work there longer than humans.

I would only agree with it if it were permanent . That's right . Build a station with robots first and then send people to live there for 5 or 10 years.

That would make sense. A short term trip is stupid and just flag waving , index finger pointing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jingoism [wikipedia.org] .

Real science please.

Re:Huge waste of money. (1)

TopSpin (753) | about 9 years ago | (#13524008)

I would only agree with it if it were permanent.

Perhaps we'll be able to count you onboard then. Look here [cleveland.com] :

"The NASA brass is considering reworking the Prometheus program to develop a nuclear reactor to serve those purposes."

That "NASA brass" bit is Griffin. The existing Prometheus program is an attempt to design a nuclear propulsion system. Griffin is, right now, redirecting funds for Prometheus to the US Navy. Why the Navy? Because they are really good at building and operating small nuclear power plants and Griffin wants to put one on the moon! Permanent habitation of the moon.

Re:Huge waste of money. (1)

Ingolfke (515826) | about 9 years ago | (#13524133)

Robots do a better job... Build a station with robots

Robots do a better job driving around on the terrain collecting samples, but I haven't seen any examples of robots doing a better job constructing or repairing any type of physical structure. The latency alone would be a serious challenge to overcome for anything other than a mostly autonomous building robot(s).

I frankly think the whole thing is a big waste of money, unless we're tapping into the innovations that these big relatively useless challenges provide us. They're big goals that produce a bunch of auxillary benefits, but honestly walking on the moon, close up pictures of Mars from rovers, even scientists testing soil there for 5-10 years is of no real benefit to anyone. It's the technology produced as a derivative of these attempts that of value.

Google Mars? I laugh at thou! (0, Offtopic)

Man in Spandex (775950) | about 9 years ago | (#13523957)

Google will probably claim that Mars is made of Cheese like The Moon [google.com]

Only half the problem (3, Insightful)

MontyApollo (849862) | about 9 years ago | (#13524028)

The other part of the problem is maintaining public interest. The mission would last a minimum of a year, and the general public would get their fill of Mars coverage. Trying to fund the *2nd mission* to Mars would be just about impossible.

I can imagine the public response: "It costs a billion dollars, and we've had people already spend a year there. Why spend any more?"

I personally don't think it is worth the effort to go to Mars unless we already have the technology and infrastructure in place to maintain a permament settlement. Otherwise it will be the Moon program all over again: Plant the flag, hit some golf balls, come home, cancel the follow-up missions.

Frist 5toP (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13524134)

you doXwn. It was and I probably GNAA and support these chaalenges Raadt's stubborn = 1400 NetBSD

Why we need China to get to Mars (1)

popo (107611) | about 9 years ago | (#13524144)


It wasn't just American ingenuity and willpower that got us to the moon. It was the threat of the Soviet Union beating us to the punch. The Soviets had already beaten us into orbit with Sputnik (a secret development project) and to put a human in space.

All that is necessary for our mission to Mars to happen in record time is the threat of China getting there first.

Hell... since I'd love to see us get to Mars in my lifetime... I suggest we all start the rumour that China is working on a secret Mars project....
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