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First Details of Manned Mars Mission From NASA

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the martian-rocketship-looking-for-cone-shaped-head dept.

NASA 329

OriginalArlen writes "The BBC has a first look at NASA's initial concepts for a manned Mars mission, currently penciled in for 2031. The main vehicle would be assembled on orbit over three or four launches of the planned Ares V heavy lift rocket. New abilities to repair, replace, and even produce replacement parts will be needed to provide enough self-sufficiency for a 30 months mission, including 16 months on the surface. The presentation was apparently delivered at a meeting of the Lunar Exploration Management Group, although there's nothing on their site yet."

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329 comments

2031?! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21510383)

Just think, when Kim Stanley Robinson released Red Mars [amazon.com] he settled the first Mars mission in the late teens and colonization in 2024, intending to be on the safe side in his future chronology compared to much science-fiction. And now our lack of vision as a nation and bureaucratical hassles have pushed the date even beyond that. It's a sad time to be an American. If only we had the drive of the Apollo era.

Re:2031?! (3, Insightful)

smashin234 (555465) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510463)

NASA does not have the funding it had during the apollo era, so they are doing the best they can on low budgets.

On the other hand, I am just glad to see that instead of sending teachers and other non-astronauts into space they are actually trying to go forward and do something productive. The mission more resembles what was seen in the movie Red Planet where everything was made to be self-sustainable and there was really not much room for problems.

Of course, the plot to that is much different then this is going to be, but whatever.

Re:2031?! (1, Offtopic)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510847)

Imagine what giving them just 0.5% more of the US budget would do in comparison to how little the last few additions of 0.5% did to improving the situation in Iraq. :-/

That's really depressing to think about, IMHO...

(the total NASA budget is about 0.6%... err, that is, not 24% [thespacereview.com] as estimated by an all too large share of the US population)

Re:2031?! (1, Offtopic)

gb506 (738638) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511259)

Imagine what giving them just 0.5% more of the US budget would do in comparison to how little the last few additions of 0.5% did to improving the situation in Iraq. :-/

Last time I checked the situation in Iraq has improved substantially. It appears that it's time for you to bark up some other tree.

Anyway, I think a better thing to imagine would be taking the 14-odd percent of every American's paycheck (including the employer's contribution) that is currently being pissed away into the ponzi scheme we call Social Security and instead allow the worker to invest it into private retirement accounts. That way, instead of getting a measly $900 or $1,000 per month to buy beans and raman noodles, even the lowest paid workers would be able to live better than they did while they were working. More money to spend means more economic activity, which means more tax revenue, which means more money for things like sending some folks to Mars.

Re:2031?! (4, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510539)

If only we had the drive of the Apollo era.

We were kinda missing a fully-committed competitor for prestige and bragging rights, like we had when we were pushing to the Moon in competition w/ Russia.

Also, nothing (aside from a metric assload of money to go with the initiative) is stopping private interests from giving space a shot. Although there is a lot of work being done in that direction (Scaled Composites, Armadillo Aerospace, etc), I fear that most will stop cold or die off before they really get things going full-time, and some appear to be stopping short just on what they've done - e.g. Scaled Composites may become just a neat-o space tourista thingy to get into sub-orbit, but otherwise won't bother any further.

But then, I'm prepared to be pleasantly surprised and proven wrong when it comes to this ideal.

(Hell, the only reason NASA appears to be getting back into the manned-mission-to-space thing again is because the Chinese got one of their own into space, and Russia+India want to put folks on the Moon... kinda sad that it takes ego just to get people working towards what should be a solid ideal in the first place).

All that said - someone call me when an average guy can get into space without spending a shitload of cash or his whole career kissing bureaucratic arse.

/P

Re:2031?! (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510685)

The funny thing is that the Russians never intended to have a manned mission to the moon - they only started trying after they found out the Americans wanted to go to the moon. Yet the reason why the Americans went to the moon is because they thought the Russians would go there next. Hence someone needs to start spreading rumours about every space faring nation having a super advanced manned mission to mars and before you know it the plan will be pushed forward to next thursday.

Re:2031?! (2, Insightful)

kaiser423 (828989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510959)

No, we did not go there because we thought that the Russians would go there first.

We were getting our asses handed to us with regards to the space race. They put satellites orders of magnitude larger than we could into orbit. They were hitting the moon with objects and sending objects around the moon. We could do none of those things.

So, when the brass came down and said "Let's beat the Russians!" We had to pick something that was an order of magnitude harder than what the Russians were currently doing. Anything less, and they would have had too much of a head start. But if we chose a goal that required much more advanced technology than was available at the time, then we might be able to catch up. That's where the moon landing came into play. And catch up we did.

Re:2031?! (-1, Troll)

trybywrench (584843) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510649)

And now our lack of vision as a nation and bureaucratical hassles have pushed the date even beyond that. It's a sad time to be an American. If only we had the drive of the Apollo era.

can you be any more emo?

Re:2031?! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21510811)

What I find telling is that I am reading about the proposed mission on a British news site, not an American one. The American people really don't care.

Now, what makes more sense to me than sending a manned mission to Mars is one [space.com] to an NEO [space.com]. There's some neat science to be had from a manned mission to Mars, but there's not a whole lot of practical benefit.

A near-Earth object is a different story. There's a real chance of a large object hitting Earth in the near future; we need to get our hands dirty studying the composition of these objects if we want to be able to deflect them if they come near. Not only that, but these things have some serious economic potential; a large asteroid can contain many millions of dollars' worth of metals--and they are within reach of commercial mining within the next few decades. They have the added bonus of not being trapped in a gravity well, so you don't have to pay to launch your new satellite into space after you finish building it.

Re:2031?! (1)

MetaPhyzx (212830) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510865)

Oh, we can shave that time in half. All we have to do is come up with "The Case for WMD's on Mars". Call up Mr. Zubrin.

Then again, maybe that interplanetary ship sailed.

Re:2031?! (2, Insightful)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511295)

And now our lack of vision as a nation and bureaucratical hassles have pushed the date even beyond that. It's a sad time to be an American
Yeah, because my sense of self-worth is inextricably bound up with whether my country goes to Mars in this decade or that decade. Look how the US is being left behind by all those other manned Mars missions being run by the Russians, the Europeans, the Japanese, Chinese and Indians. oh wait -

Re:2031?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21511421)

Personally, I think we ought to focus on solving our problems at home first instead of just taking them out to other planets.

Ares V? (5, Funny)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510403)

Those of us who are into classic rockets prefer the old muscle rockets - Saturn V, baby! The new rockets just have too much electronic junk.

That's right! Put some mag chrome nozzles at those old babies and nothing beats the classics!

Re:Ares V? (0)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510491)

Why would you want to use technology from 30 years ago?

All of that "electronic junk" has the potential to make newer rockets much safer than classic ones.

Besides the Ares V has a larger lift capacity than the Saturn V anyway.

The Saturn V was a great lifter for its time but almost every component it was made of has much better versions available today.

Re:Ares V? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510587)

I think the previous poster was kidding.

As for electronics, aside from some electronic controls, I doubt rocket technology has changed very much since the Saturn V era. It's not like we're using ion engines or nuclear engines for lifting loads to space; it's the same old rocket technology, except they usually use liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen instead of kerosene and liquid oxygen.

what's in a name? (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510405)

The main vehicle would be assembled on orbit over three or four launches of the planned Ares V heavy lift rocket.

One would think a craft of that form factor, named after Ares, would be referred to as a "missile"

Weight of food to carry decreased by FAT astronaut (0)

spineboy (22918) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511039)

Significant weight of food to be carried on the mission could be solved by having FAT astronauts. Then by placing them on a low cal diet, they would burn off their own fat stores (much more efficient than eating), and lose weight. Keep them supplied with water, small amounts of real food for mental health, and you've now seriously reduced the weight needed for a mission. A hundred pounds of fat could supply the totl caloric needs for a regular sedentary person for around 200 days.

Just an idea

Re:Weight of food to carry decreased by FAT astron (4, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511195)

If you thought that female astronaut who drove across country in a diaper was crazy, just wait untill you see what happens when you send a fat man into space with no food.

Robots Vs. Humans (again) (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510409)

The common robot-versus-human debate is bound to pop up here, so I thought I should link to the last instance of such rather than reinvent the wheel:

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=370701&cid=21480395 [slashdot.org]

Gentlemen, start your mod engines...
     

Re:Robots Vs. Humans (again) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21511427)

I tried to mod this +/-1 Redundant, Insightful, but alas, it didn't work.

Uh... (0)

CaptDeuce (84529) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510411)

The presentation was apparently delivered at a meeting of the Lunar Exploration Management Group, although there's nothing on their site yet.

Nothing to see here; move along.

Cool... they missed something tho' (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510417)

'course, the TFA is right - self-sufficiency is going to be a primary skill. OTOH, I didn't see any mention of Zubric(sp?) and the Mars Society -- and more importantly, the work they did (along w/ NASA) in helping to establish some of the techniques and simulations, let alone the concepts and work put into helping establish a lot of that self-sufficiency.

But hey - as long as someone makes it there and back sometime before I die, cool.

/P

Obligatory Futurama! (5, Funny)

Chris Tucker (302549) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510419)

Fry: Back in the 20th century we had no idea there was a university on Mars.
Professor Farnsworth: Well, in those days Mars was a dreary uninhabitable wasteland much like Utah; but unlike Utah, Mars was eventually made livable.

So... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21510941)

They never had Mormons migrate to Mars?

*ducks*

The sad thing is... (4, Insightful)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510423)

We could have been going in 5 years instead of 25 if we as a species/world community had better priorities.

(example: 500 billion in Iraq, more than enough to fund the complete development and production of everything that would be needed)

WTF? (0, Offtopic)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510611)

Why was I modded troll? Is any comment that says anything about a subject in a political context always assumed to be a troll? I fail to see why that is deserved.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21510653)

I agree with you : that modding was crap

Re:WTF? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21510691)

It wasn't deserved. It just means that one of our resident neocons got mod points today.

Re:The sad thing is... (1)

ACS Solver (1068112) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511083)

*sigh*

Yeah, I often think something like that when reading about manned spaceflight. Or when reading sci-fi. It's sad, we really haven't moved forward much in terms of space exploration. We've had space flight for 50 years. Compare the advances in information technology over the last 50 years to space advances. Heck, much of the sci-fi written 50 years ago seems to have very primitive information technology by modern standards.

I know that space is extremely expensive, but it's a new frontier for mankind. If NASA had the budget of the Pentagon, we'd probably be much further down the road by now. But governments aren't going to do that. There's not much value for them in space exploration, ultimately. Sending man to Mars won't increase your military power. Even if the planet had mountains of gold, colonization to gather it would eat up all the profits. It's not that profitable, economically or militarily, and that's what governments care about, sadly.

The future probably lies with private spaceflight and not organizations like NASA or the Russian Space Agency. Private spaceflight is a recent area, and the first Virgin Galactic flights are planned for 2009. With help from enthusiastic billionaires and various organizations, private space flight has a good chance at developing more rapidly than government spaceflight has.

Re:The sad thing is... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21511147)

And if 3,000 people hadn't died on September 11th, we might be there. GW certainly wouldn't have been able to drum up support for massive military action. Heck, if everybody had shaken hands and gotten along in 1918...or 1945, we'd be in great shape. Even better shape if they'd done it thousands of years ago.

I don't see what relevance singling out spending on the Iraq fiasco has.

Re:The sad thing is... (4, Insightful)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511229)

If we as a species/world community had better priorities.

It is an unfortunate reality that not everyone has the same priorities. The priorities of a person living in the first world for example are very different from those of a person living in the third world. For example, 98%+ Americans do not spend much time worrying about where their next meal is going to come from, but in large parts of Africa this a serious and growing concern. That is why it is so important to bring sustained economic growth to those areas because sustained economic growth is the difference between a modern first world existence where things like a mission to mars are within our reach and living in a mud hut and trying to scrape together enough food to feed your family. As long as these economic problems remain unsolved we will continue to have lots of wars, lots of violence, and plenty of terrorism to act as a sink for our time, money, and resources.

Re:The sad thing is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21511341)

Yeah, it's so obvious; just spend war funds on Mars development so when the atavist islamofascist theocracies take over here on Earth a select few will have somewhere to hide. Safe too; Mohammad won't get beyond LEO this millennium.

omg yer so smart!

First Details of First Astronaut To Mars (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21510431)


with a one-way ticket is this war criminal [whitehouse.org].

Why would you do that? (3, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510561)

There are MANY ppl on this planet that would be willing to take a 1 way ticket to Mars. Seriously, I would, but I also know that I am too old for that. My belief is that the first mission will be a 1 way ticket (in spite of what NASA wants now). The reason is that it takes a LOT of work to get the ppl back. OTH, if we send supplies/equipment ahead of time, and build a small base, then a small group of ppl can go there and build out. I am also guessing that before 2025, the private world will already be heading there, with just the set-up I described.

Make sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21510433)

Just in case, make sure they bring sharks with friggin' lasers mounted on their heads. You never know, eh?

Slow boat (1)

xirad (1057804) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510435)

Wow, talk about taking the slow & expensive boat to China. Almost seems as if NASA has been given the charge of ensuring we NEVER set foot on Mars.

Re:Slow boat (2, Interesting)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510483)

Wow, talk about taking the slow & expensive boat to China.

From on of the links:Estimates of the cost of mounting a manned Mars mission vary enormously, from $20bn to $450bn.

You know that really going to be over a trillion dollars for the project by 2031. And, the way things are going with the World economy and the US' specifically, I'm not so sure we're going to have the money. On the other hand, China will.

This is your cue (0, Troll)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510437)

to start posting irrationally about your hatred for George Bush as if this really has much of anything to do with him.

Dear Clueless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21511159)


Your are sadly mistaken. This is your cue to express your love for the thugs who are spending OUR federal tax dollars for personal profit.

Besides, you are a little late. See above post.

Protestingly forever yours,
Kilgore Trout

P.S. Doesn't the F.B.I. have better things to do ( ie. investigate a corrupt U.S. Congress)?

Hmm (4, Funny)

bwintx (813768) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510447)

From TFA:

Plants would be grown onboard to feed the crew and contribute to the "psychological health" of the astronauts.
Well, looks like the NASA PR machine no longer is worried about whether its crews appear to be "flying high," so to speak.

Which plants are those? (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511391)

contribute to the "psychological health" of the astronauts

I suppose smoking will not be allowed on board, but fortunately there are many [puffmama.ca] different [purethc.com] alternatives [wikipedia.org]

Way cool - so here's my plan (1)

caywen (942955) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510467)

My plan is to have a kid next year. I will then force him into the Air Force and make him be a pilot and eventually an astronaut that will go on that mission. I'll have him bring me back some Mars rocks and I will sell them on eBay. Seriously, they should make sure that half their staff won't die of old age midway through the project.

Re:Way cool - so here's my plan (1)

fredan (54788) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510875)

I've heard that you need a girlfriend or a wife or something similar to achive that.

Re:Way cool - so here's my plan (1)

caywen (942955) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511073)

You mean a human host? And where do I find this girl-host, fellow human?

Re:Way cool - so here's my plan (1)

achilles777033 (1090811) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511297)

I've heard that many of them like to 'go clubbing'
I don't know what it is, but I think it involves a Louisville Slugger. I recommend the head, it will incapacite the host quickly, and you're better off, if they don't have it anyway :P

That'll be a blast (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21510485)

They would need to be well-versed in the maintenance and repair of equipment and perhaps even able to manufacture new parts.
That will be interesting to see how they take a CNC machine [wikipedia.org] into orbit.

Question answered! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21510489)

With Bush leaving office soon, and the distinct possibility of one of our many undeclared wars ending (or at least being scaled back), I was wondering how we were going to squander the federal budget. A 24-year $450-billion project will fill the void nicely. Plus space is the democrat's playground, so we'll be all set for a democrat to step into the White House and pretend to be Kennedy.

Re:Question answered! (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510911)

dude you mean we get to asiante hillary too. space and a Hillary assinated by a CIA cover up. too cool.

Re:Question answered! (3, Insightful)

dick johnson (660154) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510937)

I'm a huge space proponent...

But it is not like the U.S. Government won't have all sorts of other debts to pay when the Afghan/Iraq wars end.

Let's try Social Security and Medicare to start.

These two programs are all slated to start running in the red decades before any Mars mission.

Re:Question answered! (1, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511381)

Don't be an idiot. If this thing only costs $450 billion over a quarter century, that's cheap. The Iraq War has cost $1 TRILLION over just a few years, and hasn't produced anything of value, whereas the space program has produced all kinds of spin-off technologies and economic benefits. NASA's budget has always been a tiny fraction of the DoD's budget.

Competition (1)

FoolsGold (1139759) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510531)

I will literally ROFL if a private company finds a way to get a person on Mars (alive) before NASA does.

Given the work being performed by non-Government corporations into space travel, this isn't an entirely unlikely idea.

Re:Competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21510687)

I don't think the trick is so much getting them there, the trick is bringing them home. Alive.

Re:Competition (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21511027)

You worship the free market. Guess what: private industry isn't God.

2031? (2, Insightful)

mmcuh (1088773) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510573)

If NASA aren't planning to get there until 2031 I can almost guarantee that they wont get there first.

Re:2031? (1)

smaddox (928261) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510837)

I fail to see how a private company could ever fund such an endeavor. The reason commercial spacecraft are becoming more viable is because companies need to put satellites into orbit, and they are willing to pay a lot to do it.

Robots (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21510575)

The funny thing is, the longer they wait to launch a human mission to Mars, the smaller will be the advantage compared to a robotic one. Spirit and Opportunity can already do a lot of exploration on their own but, currently, humans, could do a lot better, faster, etc. I'm not so sure that this will still be true in the 2030-2035 time frame. Regardless of the state of AI then, robots will be a lot more autonomous, capable of fairly advanced decisions and exploration capabilities. And they will be immensely cheaper to deliver to Mars (and anywhere else for that matter). So, the longer they put a human mission off, the least sense it makes.

Re:Robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21511389)

The only mission for a human mission to Mars that late in the game would be to build a self-sustaining habitat in case we blow ourselves up. You make a good point about the state of robotics - and the way the X-Prize series is encouraging the necessary innovation right now its going to be very different certainly by 2030-2035. If we go to Mars it needs to be for the right reason - and that should be either exploration and scientific advancement - which only would require robots. Or Human Redundancy, which is not what they have planned currently.

Stop waging silly wars everyone, we have better shit to do with our time than stand around shooting each other in deserts - we could be standing around shooting each other on Martian deserts! Vastly more hardcore!

Can someone please expain (5, Interesting)

$lingBlade (249591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510617)

Can someone please explain to me (and this is NOT meant to be a troll-post) why someone can't volunteer for a manned mission to Mars, raise funding from private companies/organizations and just go to Mars? Yes it would be a suicide mission, known up front and with the intent of it being for pure research and in the name of science, why the hell couldn't someone hit up a few big businesses and/or private investors for the cash to make a ship, buy or make the equipment for data analysis and the necessary supplies to get there and transmit back pictures and data? And more than just the Mars Rover, being able to survey the planet much faster and with more detail.

Is NASA a governing body in the sense that they can mandate who can go into space and moreover, where in space? It is my understanding that when Columbus wanted to find a route to the far East, he submitted his plans to various people and it took two or three tries before they finally granted him the money and ships he needed and I read that some of the terms of the agreement were such that they (King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella) didn't expect him back... why not something similar for Mars? Setting aside things like training, time to build a ship, and most importantly cost, can it be done? Privately? And no, not the Astronaut Farmer-type thing. I'm talking about a legitimate, scientific exploration, in the name of pure science and discovery, privately funded, privately built and controlled, government and nationally independent.

Re:Can someone please expain (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510695)

Yes it would be a suicide mission, known up front and with the intent of it being for pure research and in the name of science

You'd have to find someone suicidal enough to do it, but not so suicidal they kill themselves before they get around to doing any science.

Re:Can someone please expain (1)

KenAndCorey (581410) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510799)

This sounds most excellent. Where do I sign up? All-expense-paid trip to Mars? And do I get to bounce-land on the planet like the rovers? Now THAT would be fun. Just make sure you leave me a couple cyanide pills for when the food or oxygen run out.

Re:Can someone please expain (1)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510771)

Can someone please explain to me (and this is NOT meant to be a troll-post) why someone can't volunteer for a manned mission to Mars, raise funding from private companies/organizations and just go to Mars? Yes it would be a suicide mission, known up front and with the intent of it being for pure research and in the name of science, why the hell couldn't someone hit up a few big businesses and/or private investors for the cash to make a ship, buy or make the equipment for data analysis and the necessary supplies to get there and transmit back pictures and data? And more than just the Mars Rover, being able to survey the planet much faster and with more detail.


Well, for the sake of argument let us assume that NASA makes doing so illegal for some reason. Now, given that you suggest a suicide mission, the danger of jail apon return is likely to be a very minor concern in the decision to go forward with such an endeavor. So, even if there is a reason why someone can't volunteer for a manned mission to Mars, raise funding from private companies/organizations and just go to Mars, the reason they can't in unlikely to be the reason that nobody ever has.

Seriously, the only thing stopping such a scenario as you suggest is sanity. Most private corporations just aren't that interested in donating money to kill a man a Mars. But, feel free to volunteer and see if anybody will foot the bill for you.

Re:Can someone please expain (1)

$lingBlade (249591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510939)

Well in today's business climate, I'd be tempted to say that some company or investor would be interested in "sponsoring" such a project and overlooking the obvious suicidal overtones for the sake of technology, patents, discoveries being kept in their name or kept in their control. Imagine if some biological discovery is made there, or by some miracle, some technological discovery or method is discovered... it could mean big things for any company or individual involved. So, I'm taking up your suggestion. I'm going to put myself on eBay and see if someone or some company is interested in sponsoring a trip there. It's not about intentionally going there to die, or to escape this planet, it's about science, it's about discovery, it's about furthering human knowledge and the chance to be a part of that, is what it's all about.

Re:Can someone please expain (1)

Lurker2288 (995635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510899)

I seem to remember that an early plan proposed to get to the moon this way was refered to as the 'poor bastard' plan.

How much science is your poor bastard really going to be able to accomplish by himself up there? A few days worth? A few weeks? Is the knowledge we'd gain so absolutely vital that we can't wait until we have the means to go get it and come back alive? If not, then why would any company invest billions to get it? Not to mention that it's hardly the kind of endorsement most companies look for: "Microsoft: we got him there, let's see you bring him home!"

Re:Can someone please expain (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510935)

It's pretty easy to speculate that you could "hit up a few big businesses and/or private investors for the cash", but what exactly would be their return on investment? About the only way this could happen is if Bill Gates got an interest in space all of a sudden and gave away his entire fortune.

Re:Can someone please expain (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510981)

To answer your question, simply ask yourself why YOU haven't started gathering funds for a mission - odds are, that same reason is why no one else has.

Can someone please explain to me [...] why someone can't [...] raise funding from private companies/organizations and just go to Mars?


Go ahead. Try.

Unless you're able to put one or more billion of your own dollars on the line, few other people will have any confidence in the investment Just think back to the original European colonization of America, and what it took for everyone to get there. It's essentially the same undertaking, except with no natives (hopefully) and even less of a guarantee of foddering ability at the destination.

Re:Can someone please expain (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511007)

And NASA could ask him to fix the darn wheel on that rover and clean off the solar panels for them while he's there. :)

Re:Can someone please expain (1)

pragma_x (644215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511097)

I'll bite: I think the reason is purely psychological. Moreover, its tied to our cultural values here in the USA.

Take a look at any documentary that features the hard working folks that actually make shuttle parts - like the guys that tackled the foam shedding problem on the external tank. These people have a boatload of pride in what they do, even if its spraying foam insulation on a massive gas tank. In their own way, they're putting stuff, and people, into space.

I'd like to belive that this kind of enthusiasm exists on every level of the STS program. From the astronauts, to mission control, right down to the guy who drives the crawler out to the launch platform.

Now add to that the "suicide mission" nature of what you suggest and you can see the problem. Nobody is going to be able to put their heart into something that *absolutely will* kill someone, no matter how noble or humane their demise. Especially after they've put together so many successful missions of sending people to orbit and back. At that point, you're more or less asking for a mission failure of some kind, since depressed people make mistakes they wouldn't make otherwise. That in turn, represents and unacceptable mission risk in it's own right, so you're just better off making sure that they have a way home.

Also, there's the part where success is always defined as going there and back if there's people involved. I've never seen or read anything to the contrary ever being suggested; I think it's an assumed, cultural bias.

Now, in a country with a proud heritage of sending heroes off to certain doom, the science yielded from the mission would be worth the loss of a few well-trained astronauts. Interestingly enough, rescuing said crew would probably motivate the USA moreso than any other objective since we seem to have such an intense distaste for such things (e.g. leave no man behind)- but I digress.

As for privitizing space exporation - there's just no money in it, so you'll never see the investment money needed to pull it off. Besides, no company has enough in the margins to pull it off alone, and I'm sure that those with big piles of cash on hand (like MSFT and GOOG) have other things in mind. If you look back, every advancement in exploration or transportaion was paid for by someone looking forward to a whopping return on their investment, or looking to flaunt their wealth. Given the expense and scale of leaving Earth's gravity well, neither of those two are really possible.

So basically, it's not gonna happen unless we discover an obscene amount of platinum off-world, or we discover some radical form of propulsion that can out-perform and/or out-price chemical rockets.

Re:Can someone please expain (2, Insightful)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511265)

Can someone please explain to me (and this is NOT meant to be a troll-post) why someone can't volunteer for a manned mission to Mars, raise funding from private companies/organizations and just go to Mars?
Because no private organisations have $250-400 billion in spare cash lying around to fritter on a quixotic dream for no better reason than neo-imperialist flag waving?

hey, don't shoot the messenger. You did ask.

Re:Can someone please expain (3, Insightful)

Joebert (946227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511375)

I think allowing someone to go on a suicide mission to Mars defeats the entire purpose of going to Mars in the first place.
Mars isn't a war to be won, it's a quest for humanity.

Spacex/Bigelow (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511415)

Are looking forward to doing just this. But it is not intended to be a suicide mission. But the idea IS to send ppl on 1 way missions. In addition, I believe that they are looking at this before 2025. Bigelow's first goal is to get to the moon before 2020 and he has talked about 2015. Likewise, Musk has said over and over, that he wants to provide the cheap launch to get there.

Re:Can someone please expain (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511429)

why the hell couldn't someone hit up a few big businesses and/or private investors for the cash to make a ship, buy or make the equipment for data analysis and the necessary supplies to get there and transmit back pictures and data?

The same reason why most single individuals, with the possible exception of a few of the worlds richest (who probably don't want to give you 90% or more of their fortunes for a one way trip to mars), cannot do other similarly large projects with their own limited means. The Apollo Program, a modern operating system (i.e. Linux), and other large scale projects require millions of man hours of labor drawing from a wide range of disciplines and expertise with massive inputs of capital goods and equipment which means, practically speaking, that you will have to employ many other people (who will not be able to join you on the trip because there are a limited number of seats available in the space ship) to assist you in your project and pay for all of the capital equipment required to put all of the pieces together.

As for your Columbus example, remember that he went to the government of his day (i.e. the King) and got money from them to complete his project and lets be honest here, putting together a long distance sailing trip is not nearly as complex as flying to mars. However, even today similar mechanisms are at work with NASA and their mars mission. Do you think that NASA is going to design and build every last piece of the project themselves with no outside contractors? Of course not. In fact, the work needed to actually put the spaceship together, build/upgrade the launch facilities, and any other myriad of tasks will be provided by private companies and subcontractors of those companies with NASA merely coordinating the efforts and footing the bill.

So, in essence the mission to mars will be a private venture except that the money to fund it is coming from the government because for time being, there is no profit (at least in the short run) for a completely privately funded and built mission to mars.

lets ask the chinese to have pizza ready (2, Insightful)

wardk (3037) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510631)

those astronauts will be hungry when they arrive on the "red" planet

Nothing like 1930's technology...! (1)

thermowax (179226) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510669)


Well, I see in 2030 NASA is planning on using basically the same lift technology that Von Braun developed in the 1930s. Shouldn't they be working on hybrid aircraft/spacecraft platform technology? Good grief, even if it takes them 20 times as many missions to get the parts into orbit, it would have to be cheaper. Not to mention the fact that there would likely be some technology benefits more applicable to mass transportation into space.

I guess that's why the private sector finally had to get involved to develop something that might lead to affordable space flight. Nobody can burn money like NASA. (I used to work at Goddard- you _wouldn't_believe_it.)

Digging for dreams in the red sand... (1)

Cathoderoytube (1088737) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510681)

If I've done my math right.. NASA would have to have exactly 71 507 bake sales in order to pay for this mission. I can see why they put the launch date so far off.

Time enough.... (and an historical anecdote) (3, Insightful)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510683)

I read in a book about curious annecdotes (supposed to be true) that, in the Middle Age, an astronomer told the Pope that the Antichrist was born in Sicilia. The Pope asked what age he might have at that moment, and was told that about three or four years. Then the Pope thougt about it, and said: "Then it will be my successor's trouble!" and it was the last time it was heard about that problem

A program that completes in 25 years gives all of the top staff at NASA time enough to retire and leave the details to the people to come (who will blame his predecessors :-) )
It would be more credible if there was a middle step (what about a long -3, 4 months- to the Moon, to check that the technology is improving and see what is still lacking?)

I doubt there will be manned spaceflight at all (4, Interesting)

gelfling (6534) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510739)

I think we have to face facts that once the Shuttle program shuts down and the Russians lose interest in losing money and the ISS reaches the end of its service life that apart from the Chinese and Indians sending a few Nauts into orbit that manned spaceflight is going to take a VERY long break. Perhaps a century or more. Countries and societies seem to have almost no interest in it. Coupled with the enormous ignorance and misinformation about it e.g. a quarter of all Americans think NASA's budget is greater than the Pentagon, coupled with the increasing weaponization of space there just doesn't seem to be any future in it.

Re:I doubt there will be manned spaceflight at all (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511149)

Yeah, it's worrying. When Griffin talks about the time between the shuttle retiring and the replacement craft he never mentions what is supposed to fill the gap. Which is kinda bad, because it is his idea: COTS. Space-X and their Dragon capsule will most likely fill the gap.. but Griffin doesn't want to be seen getting behind them.

what a lie (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21510779)

fact is we've had advanced propulsion systems for years, we don't require chemical rocketry, this whole thing is a sham.

anyone notice that contemporary physics is basically a bunch of hare brained wackos tooling around academic departments, shitting on students, and coming up with one theory after the next that neither does anything useful or even simplifies our understanding of the physical world? The latest theory proposes that the world is actually constructed according to the most complex geometrical structure possible that has 248 dimensions! WTF!

I actually have my own Theory Of Everything: we're being lied to in a very serious way. Just look up things like electrogravity, its swarming with all sorts of disinformation. There are things on the record at NASA that show we have developed electrogravity propulsion systems. Anything to deter the layman from figuring anything out, even the results of supposed failed experiments.

Re:what a lie (1)

smaddox (928261) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510987)

Are you refering to EHD thrusters? These operate by accelerating ions away from the vehicle. Yes, such thrusters have been used, but they are only useful for very small acceleration.

In other words, it's useless for getting out of the atmosphere.

On the topic of contemporary physics, just because we don't understand it doesn't mean its not correct or useful. There's a lot of mathematics out there that I don't even begin to understand that has made huge impacts on the current state of science.

15 years ? (1)

dynomitejj (1113319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510951)

"In January 2004, President George W Bush launched a programme for returning humans to the Moon by 2020 and - at an undetermined date - to Mars." It only took us 10 years the first time we went to the moon. What the hell ? The U.S. was the leader in space exploration and space technology. This makes me sad as an American. Am I the only one that thinks that NASA is one of the most wasteful government agencies that we have ?

yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21511047)

NASA? You mean the guys that have been putting a flying bathtub into space for 20 years? I don't expect much out of that tired old outdated organization. If anyone will do it, it'll be private industry.

Let's go back to the Moon first ! (1)

dynomitejj (1113319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511053)

How about let's concentrate on going back to the MOON first. It's a lot closer, and there might actually be some natural resources there for energy.... you know.. that stuff that we use so much of here on Earth ?

Chemical Rockets? (4, Interesting)

turgid (580780) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511067)

As long as they piddle about with chemical rockets, they won't be doing much more than a very expensive, long and dangerous flag-planting exercise.

Von Braun et. al. were working on a nuclear rocket back in the day for such a mission. Just look up NERVA.

And before anyone jumps on the "danger radiation" bandwagon, I'm not advocating a nuclear rocket for getting from the earth's surface into earth orbit. It would be quite safe to build a reactor, launch it into orbit and to install it on the spacecraft there. It would be quite harmless having never have been taken critical for the first time.

The crew could easily be shielded. Think nuclear submarine. The craft could be much bigger than one chemically-powered. There could be additional shielding for protecting the crew from solar radiation. There would be extra living space, more scientific payload and it would be easier to insert into Mars orbit at the other end.

Fission reactors have been about for 60 years now. We know how to make them safe and efficient. It would be absolutely stupid not to use a nuclear reactor to go to Mars. They could have one designed, built and tested in under 5 years if they put their minds to it.

But they won't. They'll leave that to our grandchildren...

Re:Chemical Rockets? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511281)

Indeed. And that's the primitive technology that we understand today. The potential of fusion rockets, antimatter rockets, and propulsion methods we can't even imagine are the stuff of dreams.

Re:Chemical Rockets? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21511379)

this is the same guy from the 'what a lie' comment. WE HAVE VERY ADVANCED PROPULSION TECHNOLOGY THAT DOES NOT REQUIRE CHEMICAL ROCKETRY. I am not referring to Ion thrusters. This kind of thing is happening in many fields, for instance, the combustion engine for civilian transportation has not changed in 50 years, and perhaps it is the most important technology we have in use today. I suspect that at the most simple level they are trying to keep advanced weaponry secret, perhaps it gets a bit more complicated than that, but that would require some (relatively) outlandish speculation.

do not believe all the 'pop science' concerning physics. Most of what the average joe recognizes as physics is a very elaborate game designed to keep the general populace OUT OF THE PHYSICS FIELD. Just look at the numbers. In America, Physicists make a pittance. Meanwhile sports stars and actors make millions. People take notice of this and they put up sham programs designed to get people 'interested' in science. Meanwhile any candidates for research in this country are typically foreigners. There is clearly an 'insider' physics group and an outsider group.

Any attempt to relate the bulk of known physics to gravity is instant anathema. Many scientists who want to publish papers on this topic are met with derision and their careers are instantly destroyed. It would appear that only the most abstruse and ridiculously complicated postulates are accepted as possible candidates for relating physical forces and gravity. For instance the recent buzz about Garret Lisi's theory, its so ridiculously complicated its almost a joke. It requires the most complicated geometric shape known to man, whose shape was JUST RECENTLY COMPUTED and involves gigs of data. Anyone who knows anything about physics wonders how the hell this paper was ever taken seriously.

believe me when I say, the story you are given with regards to physics research in this country is an elaborate theatrical performance. They have advanced knowledge of physics that is not accessible to the average person.

Re:Chemical Rockets? (1)

Auraiken (862386) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511417)

How would you cool something like that?

I haven't had much experience in this area but from my understanding heat doesn't travel very well in space since there isn't much to take away heat. Anyone care to explain?

further details: creators planet/population rescue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21511095)

it's foolproof & completely newclear powered. the bug free kode is freely available. it will be manned, & womaned as well.

unprecedented evile has been having its way with us for far too long now. time to get real. the lights are coming up all over now. get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain. take the chance of making eye contact with the folks you pass by during the day. look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the morning, to see what's going on up there. consult with/trust in your creators, who provide more than enough of everything for everyone since/until forever. see you there?

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21511361)

Does anyone remember Biosphere and how difficult it was to keep an ecosystem that can generate all those essential vitamins and amino acids that fragile humans need? Does anyone realize how much shielding will be needed to prevent death via radiation?

Back in the sixties when robots were ever so limited, fragile and primitive, a compelling argument for the much greater abilities of a human could be made. 40 years later, we have robots to vacuum our floors, police departments have robots (UAVs) to help chase criminals, and kids use computing power undreamed of for the Apollo program for playing Solitaire.

Then again, we have the and the worst president in about 80 years.

Give me a break... (4, Insightful)

RichardtheSmith (157470) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511365)

It would have been an interesting article if it had gotten into how this "cryogenic" propulsion system will actually work. The biggest problems are (1) fuel for the outbound and return trip (2) how to land the craft that has humans in it and (3) how to get off the planet again. Mars' atmosphere is too thin for parachutes, and the gravity is too heavy to use conventional chemical thrusters to brake the landing all the way down (which isn't possible anyways due to the mass of the fuel you would have to haul all the way from Earth with those "cryogenic" thrusters).

No one has an answer to this question yet. There may not be one. It's not just engineering, there are basic scientific barriers. This is why SF always invents Warp Drive or some other back door - the constraints imposed by Newton's Third Law and the limitations of chemical propulsion make this whole thing a big pain in the ass. Funny how all these articles never bother to review the basics before launching into all the speculation.

Size of spacecraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21511411)

According to TFA the proposed mission craft will weigh 400,000kg ... which sounds like a lot until you realize it's about the same as a 747 jumbo, and less than 80% of the weight of an A380 superjumbo.

I guess that gives a pretty good idea what the maximum possible pressurized volume will be.
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