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QuarkFly
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Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Sun Sep 04, 2016 6:24 am

Many, like myself are impressed with Elon Musk's accomplishments, Tesla cars, Solar City, SpaceX and its booster-stage landings...Soon, Elon will fill us in on his "Mars Colonial Transporter" and maybe the "Red Dragon" -- he says people will be walking on Mars in about a decade. Does anyone else have doubts? Has Elon seen too many bad Sci-Fi movies?

I am surprised at the lack of critical commentary and minimal skepticism about Musk's plans for planetary ventures. The aerospace press, who should know better -- instead eat up his musings about Mars and space colonization without any serious questions. So I want to see if there are other thoughts on this or if anyone disagrees? Here are my doubts...

1. We evolved for life on our 1-G planet with Oxygen/Nitrogen atmosphere alongside flora and fauna that can support us...Elon would have us on Mars with life support, trying to extract water and oxygen and doing agriculture? Please, even with major technological advances, all of this is dreaming.

2. A human flag planting exercise on Mars like the US lunar program is barely practical...imagine this week's SpaceX rocket explosion, but on Mars. Simply reducing the cost of rockets and building bigger launchers is not enough...How do we get spare parts to other planets, provide fuel for return trips, deal with human error?

3, Traveling in space and residing on other planets requires significant shielding for nasty solar and cosmic radiation. Will eventually have lots of sick people in space.

4. Human physiology and psychology may not cooperate -- moderate size human groups in isolation may resort to "Lord of the Flies" behavior.

...Numerous other reasons exist why humans are unlikely to colonize planets, even Mars, anytime in the next few centuries, if ever. Unmanned probes are ideal for planetary exploration. So Elon, hold off until we have Star Trek teleportation technology.

That is my view -- what does everybody else think about Elon Musk and his colonization plans?
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Sun Sep 04, 2016 7:16 am

Earth is a single point failure and so if humans are going to "go on" for a long time then moving off world is the only option.

It will take many years, hundreds and hundreds and maybe thousands but I am confident it will happen if we are to survive as a species.

Hundreds of thousands were lost during explorations of the earth and colonizing the various continents (even if they already had inhabitants), so I have no doubt that it will be acceptable for similar losses to be incurred colonizing others regions.

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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Sun Sep 04, 2016 7:25 am

Assuming we'd have reasonable transport and some scale, the rest of it is IMHO reasonably doable. Mars has plenty of materials, all you need (nuclear?) power sources and you'll have fuel, air, heat... and then consequently food, ability to move, and build.
 
VSMUT
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Sun Sep 04, 2016 7:28 am

I fail to see why you are so negative about this. He is willing to throw billions of his own $£€ at the world to make it happen, creating tons of jobs in the process. In my view, that alone is justification enough for me. And if he succeeds, then yay! Hopefully that might benefit us ;) If not, then thanks for helping the economy and advancing technology :)

QuarkFly wrote:
We evolved for life on our 1-G planet with Oxygen/Nitrogen atmosphere alongside flora and fauna that can support us...Elon would have us on Mars with life support, trying to extract water and oxygen and doing agriculture? Please, even with major technological advances, all of this is dreaming.


Gravity may turn out to be the biggest problem, but the oxygen/nitrogen/flora/fauna would not. People would be living in habitats, and only leave the safe confines wearing a spacesuit.
Trying to extract water, oxygen and doing agriculture? Thats the smallest problem. We know there is water, and extracting it is not going to be an issue. They can also reuse the water they bring along. If you have water, you can create oxygen, submarines have been doing this for over 50 years. Agriculture doesn't require anything that we can't already do artificially, although local dirt would probably be required for large scale production.

QuarkFly wrote:
How do we get spare parts to other planets, provide fuel for return trips, deal with human error?


Simple, 3d printing. If the habitats (and all other equipment) are designed with simplicity in mind, then a 3d printer may be all they need. Fuel for a return? I thought this was a one-way ordeal? He isn't planning on returning.


QuarkFly wrote:
Traveling in space and residing on other planets requires significant shielding for nasty solar and cosmic radiation. Will eventually have lots of sick people in space.


Not a problem, this has already been dealt with.

QuarkFly wrote:
Human physiology and psychology may not cooperate -- moderate size human groups in isolation may resort to "Lord of the Flies" behavior.


The flight to Mars can be done in 6 months. During the colonization of the Americas and Australia, people spent that long on a cramped sailing vessel, followed by the rest of their lives in a decrepit small colony in a very hostile environment. Some submarines go for much longer without surfacing, HMS Trenchant managed 11 months in 2013. How is this any different? For obvious reasons, they wouldn't just take the average joe, but carefully screened and selected candidates.

:)
 
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QuarkFly
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Sun Sep 04, 2016 8:30 am

Thanks for your comments -- but I am still skeptical...remember, Elon Musk wants to do this soon with today's technology -- what is the rush? The earth has problems but is not in immediate danger.

VSMUT wrote:
I fail to see why you are so negative about this. He is willing to throw billions of his own $£€ at the world to make it happen, creating tons of jobs in the process. In my view, that alone is justification enough for me. And if he succeeds, then yay! Hopefully that might benefit us ;) If not, then thanks for helping the economy and advancing technology :)


Yes, I am negative, and disappointed others are not asking serious questions of Elon Musk as well...and I would think that spending billions on a venture without an expected return, does not have economic value. If it did, cities should be demolished just to spend $ billions to rebuild and create jobs.

VSMUT wrote:
to extract water, oxygen and doing agriculture? Thats the smallest problem. We know there is water, and extracting it is not going to be an issue. They can also reuse the water they bring along. If you have water, you can create oxygen, submarines have been doing this for over 50 years.


Hmmm...Nobody has tried agriculture more cheaply in Antarctica, the bottom of the ocean or the middle of the Sahara dessert, but it will work out just fine on Mars with its atmosphere, minimal water, and human farmers in radiation shielded habitats or space suits using plants and seed that evolved on a different planet. I get it ;)

VSMUT wrote:
Simple, 3d printing. If the habitats (and all other equipment) are designed with simplicity in mind, then a 3d printer may be all they need. Fuel for a return? I thought this was a one-way ordeal? He isn't planning on returning.


Can't 3D print semiconductors, sensitive instrumentation, power supplies, batteries, rocket fuel -- could go on and on... Mechanical, power or life-support failures would be catastrophic.

VSMUT wrote:
The flight to Mars can be done in 6 months. During the colonization of the Americas and Australia, people spent that long on a cramped sailing vessel, followed by the rest of their lives in a decrepit small colony in a very hostile environment.


Living on Mars would be a grim experience, dangerous, isolated, requiring life support, and likely with high mortality. Very different than the European mariners faced going to the Americas or Australia a few hundred years ago -- these places had resources and were actually populated with people who could provide help (and unfortunately, forced or slave labor). And I still have not discussed energy overcoming gravity for interplanetary travel.

So yes, I don't understand the motivation -- I think some of this is extreme egotism and desire for grandeur by Elon Musk.
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Sun Sep 04, 2016 9:20 am

QuarkFly wrote:
Elon Musk wants to do this soon with today's technology -- what is the rush? The earth has problems but is not in immediate danger.


Thats a pretty conservative way of looking at it. Try looking at it from another perspective, why not? Why wait another 50 years before doing the inevitable? Plus, Elon Musk is 45 years old, he can't delay it any longer, lest he be unfit for spaceflight.


QuarkFly wrote:
and I would think that spending billions on a venture without an expected return, does not have economic value. If it did, cities should be demolished just to spend $ billions to rebuild and create jobs.


Why must it have an economic value, or an expected return? It's his money. He can spend it as he wants. If I want to buy a tank, because I like tanks and want to run one around in my backyard, then I will do that regardless of expected return or economic value.

And it does create a lot of jobs. Rockets are complicated pieces of equipment, building one takes a lot of skilled workers. The development process requires a few thousand skilled aerospace engineers. All the equipment they are bringing along needs to be developed and manufactured.

Alternatively he could have done like every other billionaire in this world - invested his fortune in a bunch of buildings, creating exactly 0 jobs and no/very little trickle down in the process.

QuarkFly wrote:
Hmmm...Nobody has tried agriculture more cheaply in Antarctica, the bottom of the ocean or the middle of the Sahara dessert, but it will work out just fine on Mars with its atmosphere, minimal water, and human farmers in radiation shielded habitats or space suits using plants and seed that evolved on a different planet. I get it ;)


Nobody said this was going to be cheap. The reason why nobody does it in Antarctica is because nobody lives there (and supplies can be flown in with relative ease).
At the bottom of the ocean? Again, nobody lives there, but it has been done.
In the middle of the Sahara desert? I have actually seen it myself.

And it will work out just fine. I live in a place where the sun barely rises in the winter, and where the temperature is typically stuck around -10 degrees for half a year. We employ something called a "Greenhouse" ;) Artificial lighting and measured amounts of water will do the trick. You could do it in a cave/underground. The seeds won't care if they are on a different planet any more than a seed on two different continents.


QuarkFly wrote:
Can't 3D print semiconductors, sensitive instrumentation, power supplies, batteries, rocket fuel -- could go on and on... Mechanical, power or life-support failures would be catastrophic.


True, but the trick is to reduce the amount of equipment that can't be 3d printed, and increase the durability of all the equipment that needs to be replaced by delivery from earth. And again, he isn't planning on returning, so rocket fuel is not going to be needed. Even if they do, they can get hydrogen without any problems.
Furthermore, he isn't planning to depart for Mars until 2025 at earliest, so we must take technological advancement into mind. 5 years ago hardly anybody knew what a 3d printer was. In 10 years a 3d printer may even be able to manufacture a semiconductor.

QuarkFly wrote:
Living on Mars would be a grim experience, dangerous, isolated, requiring life support, and likely with high mortality. Very different than the European mariners faced going to the Americas or Australia a few hundred years ago -- these places had resources and were actually populated with people who could provide help (and unfortunately, forced or slave labor). And I still have not discussed energy overcoming gravity for interplanetary travel.


Of course it is going to be a grim experience. Elon Musk has admitted this. All the people prepared to go to Mars are prepared for the risks, premature death included.
And I respectfully disagree with the mariners of the past not taking as great a risk. They went off, not knowing anything about the continent they were headed for (or even if it was there). The local tribes were hostile, weather and disease almost killed them off and growing anything was difficult. By comparison, we actually know quite a bit about Mars, thanks to the plethora of unmanned missions.

:)
 
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Sun Sep 04, 2016 1:20 pm

If there is water available then oxygen (oxidizer) and hydrogen (rocket fuel) aren't a problem given sufficient electricity. Agriculture and other life support problems can be resolved with current technology.

Earth -> Mars transit times are a problem needing resolution. Mars entry, descent, and landing are a problem Dragon's propulsive landing tech may be helpful with.

Big problems I see are the will to go and resources needed to do so. Musk has the will and has demonstrated the ability to come up with the resources.

I say let the guy dream big, what's the worst that could happen? After the Falcon 1 failures nobody thought he'd get Falcon 9 or Dragon to the pad, let alone fly.
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Sun Sep 04, 2016 3:52 pm

QuarkFly wrote:
what does everybody else think about Elon Musk and his colonization plans?


Colonizing other planets is just the next logical step in human evolution. It will happen sooner or later, be it over 20, 50 or 100 years.

As for the issues in space, mankind is good in resolving problems. It's how we have evolved all the way to the present day.
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Sun Sep 04, 2016 9:34 pm

I don't necessarily buy the premise it can't be done within the next 10 years. We went from 0-100 from the late 50's to early 70s and have been cruising at 25 ever since. I think we are a lot further along in our ability to go Mars than we think, it has been governments holding us back.

Is it easy? Absolutely not. But I think a fresh form of thinking and a government body not holding the project back is the best thing that has happened in space exploration in a very very long time.
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Sun Sep 04, 2016 10:53 pm

I'm glad Elon Musk has his supporters, and as I said, I like what he has done with SpaceX, etc. But rockets are only a small fraction of the problem. Note that unmanned satellites are far more useful so far, than humans in space -- people with their life support, oxygen, food and water requirements just get in the way. Elon is not suggesting we send robots to Mars -- that would be a more realistic idea.

KarelXWB wrote:
Colonizing other planets is just the next logical step in human evolution. It will happen sooner or later, be it over 20, 50 or 100 years.


I guess that is where I really beg to differ...this is not human evolution -- Elon Musk is going to try to build a "Mars Colonial Transporter", an engineering problem...humans have not evolved to live on another planet, just the opposite. So I think there is a lot of hand-waving about not just the technical difficulties -- but whether this would be a long-term survivable plan for our species. The few tentative steps we have taken -- putting humans in orbit -- pales in comparison to permanently colonizing planets.

Also, economics really matter, I don't see this as a self-funding initiative...billionaires on earth, even governments would not indefinitely pay the massive investment. Spacefarers would unlikely send back useful things we would want to pay for, maybe a little science...but less than what could be done by robotic exploration. So the money would eventually dry up.
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Mon Sep 05, 2016 12:06 am

QuarkFly wrote:
Yes, I am negative, and disappointed others are not asking serious questions of Elon Musk as well...and I would think that spending billions on a venture without an expected return, does not have economic value. If it did, cities should be demolished just to spend $ billions to rebuild and create jobs.


Yup, and what exactly have YOU done to move mankind further ahead? It's easy to sit on the sidelines with a pea shooter and whine about a visionary / dreamer, after all Galileo, Copernicus, Ignaz Semmelweis, Einstein, James Webb (Space Administrator Extraordinaire), et al... were all laughed at and criticized during their careers.

And you're wrong. "Failures" most certainly have an economic value in the sense of what you take away from them. Try to deny that the NTSBs dozens of investigations into every airliner crash in the past 20 years has no "economic value" for today's flyers and taxpayers. Tell me that the failures of "Thin Man" didn't help the USA with finishing "Fat Man" for the Manhattan Project.

Post-It Notes were discovered essentially by accident. Along with Viagra. Ask any older man who has ED or prostate problems if the new generation of erection drugs are not a huge value, vs. having to get a syringe out, and inject your penis with a needle to make love to your spouse / lover. Penicillin was discovered from a discarded set of petri dishes....you know a mistake. Something with no value...until it was a value. Same goes for the microwave oven.
 
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:18 am

Sorry Pac Beach, but your examples are simple compared to the mechanical/logistical issues in colonizing a planet.. the no value until some mistake creates value isn't going to work here. Musk is selling his "vision" for investors but I don't believe he will be in the forefront when maybe a scientific station is set up many years from now. I would expect to see a Moon station first.. however who is going to pay??? we no longer have rich sponsors that paved the way for earlier discoveries.

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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Mon Sep 05, 2016 10:48 am

kanban wrote:
Musk is selling his "vision" for investors


Without claiming any insider's info, I think you got the main reason right: for all the considerable personal resources Musk has invested into his visionary ventures, he still needs the bulk of the money to come from investors. He is (very shrewdly, in my opinion) selecting "sexy" goals that will make the news: he pried open the electric-car market with a sports model that people bought because it was cool, not because the planet needed a break from fossil-fuel powered personal transport (which it does). He is making inroads in the space business by "selling" a Mars-colonizing one-way trip that sparks much more public support than anything that's been done before. In my opinion, a Moon-base and robotic exploration would yield better short-term scientific and technical returns, but I never was worth a hoot as a salesman, so who am I to tell Mr. Musk how to spend his money? Besides, he is lofting satellites, resupplying the ISS and returning stuff to the ground in the meanwhile (and showing a profit, too): not bad in my book.
 
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:19 pm

PacificBeach88 wrote:
Yup, and what exactly have YOU done to move mankind further ahead?


Well, ME -- like many here on A.Net -- I am in the aerospace industry...I do satellite ground system command-control and telemetry processing software. I'm no Elon Musk, but I try to make contributions from my little corner of the industry. After many years of experience however, I have learned to sniff out BS in the space industry when I see it :)

PacificBeach88 wrote:
...It's easy to sit on the sidelines with a pea shooter and whine about a visionary / dreamer, after all Galileo, Copernicus, Ignaz Semmelweis, Einstein, James Webb (Space Administrator Extraordinaire), et al... were all laughed at and criticized during their careers.


Yes, they laughed at these pioneers...but they also laughed at cold-fusion, nuclear powered aircraft, and Bozo the Clown too.

...Moving on --

Some further points about supporting agriculture for humans on Mars that I thought this kind of thread could discuss...unlike some points above, I do not believe the problems of sustaining humans on Mars, let alone other planets, are solved...

1. Mars receives about half the light from the Sun than earth does, for farming, this will be lessened by necessary radiation filters and greenhouses, maybe requiring artificial lighting,

2. Surface temperature on Mars average -63 C and atmospheric pressure is less than 1-percent of earth sea level pressure...requiring strong pressurized and temperature controlled enclosed farm habitats and large associated energy inputs.

3. Agronomists are not convinced that Mars gravity -- 0.38 G will have benign consequences for the kinds plant fiber growth needed by humans...from an economic standpoint, it may be cheaper to ship food to Mars from earth for small human settlements, although that risks starving the Mars residents if space-travel failures occur.

Good luck Elon !!
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Mon Sep 05, 2016 6:57 pm

QuarkFly wrote:
Some further points about supporting agriculture for humans on Mars that I thought this kind of thread could discuss...unlike some points above, I do not believe the problems of sustaining humans on Mars, let alone other planets, are solved...

1. Mars receives about half the light from the Sun than earth does, this will be lessened by necessary radiation filters and greenhouses, maybe requiring artificial lighting,

2. Surface temperature on Mars average -63 C and atmospheric pressure lis less than 1-percent of earth sea level pressure...requiring strong pressurized and temperature controlled enclosed farming habitats and large associated energy inputs.

3. Agronomists are not convinced that Mars gravity -- 0.38 G will have benign consequences for the kinds plant fiber growth needed by humans...from an economic standpoint, it may be cheaper to ship food to Mars from earth for small human settlements, although that risks starving the Mars residents if space-travel failures occur.



Sorry, but plants grow just fine indoors with artificial lighting, even on a large scale. This is done all across northern europe in the winter. You could even do it underground in an artificially dug cave below the habitat. On top of that, plants have been grown on the International Space Station for years under very similar circumstances. Below you will find one of NASAs concepts for how they are looking at doing it:

Image
 
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Mon Sep 05, 2016 8:54 pm

QuarkFly wrote:
Can't 3D print semiconductors, sensitive instrumentation, power supplies, batteries, rocket fuel -- could go on and on... Mechanical, power or life-support failures would be catastrophic.


Batteries and power supplies (solar panels) can be 3D printed today and semiconductors have also been overcome, according to Argonne National Labs. No doubt expensive but who knows in 10 years?
 
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Mon Sep 05, 2016 11:08 pm

Thank-you VSMUT -- for your optimistic and positive feedback on this issue :) I expected more negativity...maybe just my jaded self who has doubts !!

VSMUT wrote:
Sorry, but plants grow just fine indoors with artificial lighting, even on a large scale. This is done all across northern europe in the winter. You could even do it underground in an artificially dug cave below the habitat. On top of that, plants have been grown on the International Space Station for years under very similar circumstances. Below you will find one of NASAs concepts for how they are looking at doing it:


Interesting NASA image, but I think NASA needs to show this kind of thing occasionally to justify its budget. Even northern europe at 1-G gravity and atmospheric pressure is very different than the Mars environment. I would also hope the International Space Station is on its way to food self sufficiency sometime soon, so tax dollars don't have to be spent re-supplying this white elephant (...in my opinion of course, regrets). Our money sent to Elon Musk and his rocket company to resupply the ISS, instead of robotic probes doing real science on Mars and beyond...but pretty good deal for Elon Musk, isn't it?

...Alas, sorry, I have to be true to form and point to a more likely fate for our intrepid Mars colonizers... http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/1918 ... ing-to-mit

In science -- the word "infeasible" used in the following MIT study -- is usually a understatement...

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ar ... 6515004294

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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Tue Sep 06, 2016 9:49 am

QuarkFly wrote:
Thank-you VSMUT -- for your optimistic and positive feedback on this issue :)


Thanks :)

QuarkFly wrote:
Even northern europe at 1-G gravity and atmospheric pressure is very different than the Mars environment.


But thats the thing, if you grow your crops in a pressurized container/compartment/cave that is equally well suited for human habitation, then the only difference between growing things on Mars compared to Northern Europe will be the reduced gravity ;) Actually, as the Martian atmosphere consists of 96% carbon dioxide, letting in a little martian air will actually significantly increase the growth rate, size and quality of the plants. That also has the benefit of providing oxygen for the human inhabitants.

I do however agree that it is very likely that the fate will be as described in your link. The biggest issue I can see (apart from funding) is the constraints of the habitats we can bring along. Realistically, for a colony to become self sufficient they will need a lot more space (To bring along enough people to avoid inbreeding, and therefore grow enough food, provide oxygen, redundancy etc). The only realistic way of doing that is by digging underground (provides an easy protection from radiation and can be built using local resources), and that will require a lot of heavy duty equipment and anything from several months to several years of construction.

:)
 
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Tue Sep 06, 2016 1:25 pm

QuarkFly wrote:
Good luck Elon !!


Thing is, if Elon fails to colonize Mars, it's just a matter of time before someone stands up and tries. If you look at history of mankind, someone else will always try harder till they get it work.

My personal view is that the early 2020's will be too soon, but I can see it happening in 40-50 years from now. The research done by SpaceX will become very useful in the future.
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Tue Sep 06, 2016 1:41 pm

Elon will not colonize planets by himself. That is true. To truly colonize a planet you need enough infrastructure on earth to support a highway to the other planets. The Spanish and English explorers and colonists could not have existed if there was not already a robust ship building industry in Spain and England.

That is where Elon and Jeff comes in. We need massive,reliable and cheap infrastructures to get tonnage in to orbit. Once that is achieved, then we can look at reducing flight time to Mars.

Remember, back in the days those sailing ship takes how long to get from Europe to the new world? And they have to carry their supplies with them. Now, we can send the supplies independently via autonomous space craft.

Reducing the flight time for humans would be critical. That is where the laser propulsion could be useful. That is also why it may be advantageous to have solar powered laser stations closer to the Sun (like Venus) to drive the laser spacecrafts.

While it is true that humans evolved in the Earth environment. It is also true human have not learned how to live in harmony with the Earth environment. So, unless we can take that destructive/creative nature to others worlds, we will be doomed to end our specie here on Earth, or wait for some alien savior. I choose neither . . .

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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Tue Sep 06, 2016 2:17 pm

QuarkFly wrote:
Living on Mars would be a grim experience, dangerous, isolated, requiring life support, and likely with high mortality. Very different than the European mariners faced going to the Americas or Australia a few hundred years ago -- these places had resources and were actually populated with people who could provide help (and unfortunately, forced or slave labor). And I still have not discussed energy overcoming gravity for interplanetary travel.


Being dangerous never stopped humans from trying.

As for European people traveling to the Americas 500 years ago, they did not know what to expect. They were sailing into the unknown. At least we know what to expect on Mars, and what the challenges are going to be.

As for interplanetary travel, that's a one way ticket. Once the body and muscles adapt to the lower gravity, you will never be able to walk on earth anymore.
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Tue Sep 06, 2016 5:52 pm

KarelXWB wrote:
As for interplanetary travel, that's a one way ticket. Once the body and muscles adapt to the lower gravity, you will never be able to walk on earth anymore.


I believe that, letting some time pass, the body can not only adapt to lower, but also higher gravity. Think of it like some sort of jetlag. It is, though, quite impractical for frequent trips. After all, those astronauts spending several months in space are able to walk freely again today.


The much larger problem while colonizing mars is ... the lower gravity! Not because of its effects on the human body, but because any atmosphere will inevitably remain thin. It may suffice for some sorts of plants and perhaps even enable temperatures and humidity to rise, letting it rain (through terraforming). For Humans however to spend a considerable amount of time without breathing equipment will yet be a dangerous task.
 
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Tue Sep 06, 2016 8:23 pm

Thanks everybody for your insights...but I still have such difficulty with the concept of "Why?" ...

bikerthai wrote:
While it is true that humans evolved in the Earth environment. It is also true human have not learned how to live in harmony with the Earth environment. So, unless we can take that destructive/creative nature to others worlds, we will be doomed to end our specie here on Earth, or wait for some alien savior. I choose neither . .


Amazing dichotomy! "...we have not learned how to live in harmony with the Earth's environment" -- But it is so much worse on Mars!! -- There is no real advantage to colonizing planets with such hostile environments. It would be different if a earth-like twin was the next planet out from the sun...instead we have Mars, a rather uninteresting dead planet whose atmosphere and water have already - or are now - diffusing into space, the magnetic field is gone -- no protection from the extreme cold, vacuum, or radiation...So everybody, Yeah, lets all go there! ... It is incredulous, it makes no sense!! ....which is why I ask what's Elon Musk really up to here?

KarelXWB wrote:
Being dangerous never stopped humans from trying.

As for European people traveling to the Americas 500 years ago, they did not know what to expect. They were sailing into the unknown. At least we know what to expect on Mars, and what the challenges are going to be.


Actually, there is a lot of mythology about the explorers coming to N. America about 500 years ago -- they were not just wandering out to see what they could find in the unknown...They had economic, nationalistic, royal and religious reasons for their ventures. They were mostly in it to get rich, find gold, etc.-- and claim land and wealth for their royal sponsors.

The early maritime explorers actually knew more than we give them credit for -- they did not know the exact geography, but they knew the climate and flora/fauna would be decent resources at the equator and similar latitudes -- they knew how to fish in the oceans they traveled in -- they did not go out of the way to settle in hostile environments... Arctic, deserts or any places they would have to protect themselves from the elements.

Actually, what planetary settlement looks more like, is the abandoned Norse Greenland colony -- first settled about 1200 by Scandinavians...then eventually forgotten by Europeans and abandoned by 1350 -- in apparently a pretty gruesome ending for the European Greenlanders...read "Collapse" by Jared Diamond -- this is the realistic possibility for any space colonists.
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Francoflier
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Wed Sep 07, 2016 2:03 am

Musk's goal is mostly to provide accessible mass transportation to Mars.

He knows that any settlement effort on Mars will be very dependent on sending lots of cargo and replenishment up there, and single spaceship missions as envisioned so far (due to the prohibitive cost of the trip) are ill suited for the task.
He basically wants to set up a scheduled service to Mars with cheap rockets. Low cost, but for space...

This would not only offer the possibility of relatively cheap and easy access to Mars, but also to the asteroids, which may eventually offer a financially sustainable space endeavor.

Of course, this is all far fetched stuff. I follow all space-related projects with fascination, but I also agree in part with the OP in that colonizing Mars, for now at least, is mostly a dreamer's project, when we haven't even settled the least hospitable areas of our very own planet yet.

Still, we have to start somewhere... And a cheap ladder out of Earth gravity well may well give birth to opportunities not even Musk has imagined yet.
That's why we need visionaries like him. Even if he fails, the technological legacy he will have created for mankind is invaluable.
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Wed Sep 07, 2016 7:22 am

VSMUT wrote:
But thats the thing, if you grow your crops in a pressurized container/compartment/cave that is equally well suited for human habitation, then the only difference between growing things on Mars compared to Northern Europe will be the reduced gravity ;) Actually, as the Martian atmosphere consists of 96% carbon dioxide, letting in a little martian air will actually significantly increase the growth rate, size and quality of the plants. That also has the benefit of providing oxygen for the human inhabitants.


Correct.

VSMUT wrote:
I do however agree that it is very likely that the fate will be as described in your link. The biggest issue I can see (apart from funding) is the constraints of the habitats we can bring along. Realistically, for a colony to become self sufficient they will need a lot more space (To bring along enough people to avoid inbreeding, and therefore grow enough food, provide oxygen, redundancy etc). The only realistic way of doing that is by digging underground (provides an easy protection from radiation and can be built using local resources), and that will require a lot of heavy duty equipment and anything from several months to several years of construction.


There are better designs for that. Plastic "bubbles" have a relatively low weight structure, and only require anchoring the circumference in the ground. You can also make bricks out of martian materials, given an energy source.
 
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Wed Sep 07, 2016 10:30 am

QuarkFly wrote:
There is no real advantage to colonizing planets with such hostile environments.


Yes there is. Planet earth will die sooner or later. Being a natural survivor, mankind will try finding a new home.
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VSMUT
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Wed Sep 07, 2016 1:21 pm

AirlineCritic wrote:
There are better designs for that. Plastic "bubbles" have a relatively low weight structure, and only require anchoring the circumference in the ground. You can also make bricks out of martian materials, given an energy source.


Truth, but how long would a plastic bubble last in the face of Martian weather? I agree on the bricks, but that also requires heavy duty equipment and a long time to construct.

:)
 
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bikerthai
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Wed Sep 07, 2016 1:44 pm

QuarkFly wrote:
There is no real advantage to colonizing planets with such hostile environments.


The harsh environment would not be the defining factor. Whether or not there is something there worth exploiting, would determine the planets or moons that will be colonized.

Consider the Sahara desert here on earth. How long would a village last in the Sahara desert without support from the surrounding, more fertile lands. And why would someone put a fort in the middle of that desert considering the enormous amount of energy required to support it. Because there was value in the fort to protect a trade route through which greater value commodities are being transported. (Or for that matter, that Island the Chinese are building?)

So realistically, what is the value of having a settlement on Mars? Until they find some valuable resources there, I can only surmise that Mars would be a way station on which supplies and material can be stock piled to support mining operations in the asteroid belt (assuming they find stuff of value in asteroids). If there is water, then Mars could realistically provide land to which crops can be grown to provide food for the miners. It would be cheaper to grow food there as opposed to sending it from Earth.

Personally I believe there is more to be exploited around the Jupiter area. But you have to take baby steps first.

bt
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kanban
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Wed Sep 07, 2016 4:03 pm

Looking at the "easy" solutions noted in comments above, one wonders how many staging drops would be required for all that tonnage. Some of the solutions appear to forget that heavy equipment will have to be launched and landed without damage and then assembled.. materials will have to be refined, water located and drilled for.. Dust is going to wear everything out quickly, so tons of spare parts must go. 3D printers will not be the first choice because of the cleanliness requirements.

I think we have been wowed by then simplicity of sci-fi movies and books.
 
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Thu Sep 08, 2016 2:51 am

Agreed...

kanban wrote:
Looking at the "easy" solutions noted in comments above, one wonders how many staging drops would be required for all that tonnage. Some of the solutions appear to forget that heavy equipment will have to be launched and landed without damage and then assembled.. materials will have to be refined, water located and drilled for.. Dust is going to wear everything out quickly, so tons of spare parts must go. 3D printers will not be the first choice because of the cleanliness requirements.


It would be great to solve all problems with 3D printers...Sure, just print out a LOX pump...made of expensive inconel alloy that hardens and is brittle when machined -- all with our handy 3D printer...Don't think it works that way!

And the easy to obtain water is at the Martian poles -- inclination is greater than Earth, the poles are dark for half the year and the Martian Arctic circle is at a lower latitude, so solar power is problematic.

Sounds like I'm a Debbie downer here...and agree, this would have start sometime and somehow -- but Musk wants to start now...and I believe this is just not the time. But...

kanban wrote:
think we have been wowed by then simplicity of sci-fi movies and books.


Yes, I have the impression that Elon loves his Sci-Fi movies and books, explains things... I like my Asimov too -- robot colonizers would be so much easier :) But this kind of effort has to be dispassionate...or it would unnecessarily risk lives -- which would turn off the money and shut things down fast. Or, could it be this is just the way Musk gets others to subsidize his rocket fetish...Hmmm ??
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Planeflyer
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Thu Sep 08, 2016 4:37 am

Let's hope solar city doesn't sink his plans.

Columbus had no idea where he was going and yet he discovered more than 99% of humanity.
 
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KarelXWB
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Thu Sep 08, 2016 12:01 pm

QuarkFly wrote:
Yes, I have the impression that Elon loves his Sci-Fi movies and books, explains things... I like my Asimov too -- robot colonizers would be so much easier :) But this kind of effort has to be dispassionate...or it would unnecessarily risk lives -- which would turn off the money and shut things down fast. Or, could it be this is just the way Musk gets others to subsidize his rocket fetish...Hmmm ??


You are focusing too much on Elon Musk. Looking at the bigger picture, I'm convinced mankind will leave planet earth sooner or later.

It doesn't matter whether Musk fails or not, someone has to take the first baby steps. Then someone else will try harder.
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Seabear
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Thu Sep 08, 2016 2:48 pm

"Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact, it's cold as Hell
And there's no one there to raise them if you did" - Elton John

Unfortunately the US lacks the political and ideological will to go to Mars, or for that matter anywhere in space.

And I think it's gonna be a long, long time....
 
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ADent
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Fri Sep 09, 2016 7:19 am

It is 20x more expensive to get stuff to Mars than low earth orbit.

So if it took NASA 28 launches to build the ISS, you would need over 500 with the same launchers to build the ISS on the surface of Mars.

Good luck to Elon. He will need a BIG rocket to do much with Mars, though he is planning on building one.
 
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bikerthai
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Fri Sep 09, 2016 1:03 pm

ADent wrote:
It is 20x more expensive to get stuff to Mars than low earth orbit.


If this can be worked out, getting stuff to Mars would be cheaper:

http://www.space.com/32026-photon-propu ... -days.html

Still, there will still be a need for capabilities to put large quantities in to orbit.

bt
Intelligent seeks knowledge. Enlightened seeks wisdom.
 
iamlucky13
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:05 pm

QuarkFly wrote:
.Soon, Elon will fill us in on his "Mars Colonial Transporter" and maybe the "Red Dragon" -- he says people will be walking on Mars in about a decade. Does anyone else have doubts? Has Elon seen too many bad Sci-Fi movies?


Having payed attention to SpaceX since shortly after it was foudned, one thing I've learned to trust Elon Musk to always accomplish is to blow his schedule. Twice as long as he forecasts is usually a pretty good estimate.

That said, he's doing fairly well on eventually accomplishing the basic form of what he sets out to do, despite encountering more challenges than he originally expected. He has a high performance electric car on the market that is well-liked by most of its owners, even though it took longer to deliver and was more expensive than promised. His team has almost reached maturity of a commercial launch system that despite being consistently behind schedule, actually has significantly higher performance than the original plans, and may even prove to be re-usable. It's also crashed about as much as he suggested they would early on in the history of the company - willingness to accept technical and financial risks was one of his claimed strengths. They're part way through qualification of a man-rated spacecraft, etc.

I'm fairly certain he will eventually fly a Red Dragon mission, although I expect the cost will be at least partially covered by carrying a NASA payload. Landing people on Mars is far more ambitious, but a goal I'm not going to bet against, again, in partnership with NASA. Actually establishing a permanent Mars colony, on the hand, I'm tempted to bet against in Musk's lifetime. It's not inconceivable, but he doesn't have the money himself to do so, and the people who do have the money don't have enough risk tolerance to let Musk risk their employee's lives (nor do they have the money to do it their own way, at lower risk).

ADent wrote:
It is 20x more expensive to get stuff to Mars than low earth orbit.

So if it took NASA 28 launches to build the ISS, you would need over 500 with the same launchers to build the ISS on the surface of Mars.

Good luck to Elon. He will need a BIG rocket to do much with Mars, though he is planning on building one.


You don't need to build the ISS on Mars. A temporary Mars outpost does not need to maintain orbit, manage thermal control without an atmosphere to dump heat into, support its power source on a truss structure half the size of a football field that has to self-deploy with little to no manual assistance, or provide a large amount of microgravity laboratory space - the surface of Mars is the main laboratory, not the inside of the landers. The Mars Design Reference Architecture studies by NASA will you give you a more realistic idea of what a manned Mars mission would take - the engineers involved in those studies have concluded 6 shuttle-derived heavy launch vehicles would be about right, each launching about 4 times as much payload as the Shuttle carried (but without the weight of the reusable orbiter, each launch would be all payload).

https://www.wired.com/2014/01/nasas-mar ... lear-2001/

Cost estimates through the end of the first mission seem to generally run in the $100-200 billion range - the same general ballpark or perhaps slightly higher than the Apollo program, the Shuttle program as a whole, or the ISS. Some of the non-baseline concepts have been suggested as being possible for less than $100 billion. Keep in mind each of these programs has involved significant technology development that a Mars mission would draw upon - even the nuclear thermal rocket concept used in some of the studies was partially tested in the 60's. Recurring costs would probably be in the very rough ballpark of $10-20 billion per additional mission, with no more than one mission per launch window, and possibly just one every other launch window - the resulting per year cost at that point would be slightly higher than the shuttle, which ranged from $3-5 billion. The launch pace would be lower, but there would be more specialized hardware involved. The per year cost would be higher during the development, prior to the first mission.

Musk, of course, wants to do it cheaper. His ideal when he's not daydreaming about doing it all himself is no doubt to build the rockets that NASA buys to get their hardware and people there. If his progress with SpaceX continues, I think he could save some us money relative to the current plans, but the cost of the launch vehicles is only a fraction of the overall costs of a manned Mars program.
 
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Channex757
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Sat Sep 10, 2016 11:09 am

Let's just look at this from a different angle.

So $100 billion has been suggested. How much has been given to the banks in recent years? That money isn't really doing much as it's sat in reserve accounts as buffers against failure and runs. If the USA and other global partners (I'm looking at you, ESA) were to get behind Musk and SpaceX as a project integrator with that kind of budget then that money gets released into the economy of the nations concerned. Using a current multiplier of 2 (it's higher in certain economies) that generates $200 billion worth of economic activity.

Bringing other private sector partners aboard such as Bigelow Aerospace and then a Presidential order to do a limited raid on SkunkWorks technology for anything suitable but in the grey area could result in a significant economic return and that's before a single engine fires up.
 
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QuarkFly
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Sun Sep 11, 2016 1:38 am

More info at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) at the end of September where Elon Musk will submit his plans for Mars -- https://www.iac2016.org

But in the meantime, some SpaceX Mars rumors -- first Mars flight as early as 2022 ...

Carbon fiber for the Mars Colonial Transporter (MCT)? -- http://www.geekwire.com/2016/carbon-fib ... pacex-mars

Raptor engine for MCT ready for testing -- http://theusbport.com/spacex-announces- ... site/13027

Maybe colonizers on the way to Mars will be put in "Stasis"...just like "Planet of the Apes"-- http://www.inquisitr.com/3482225/puttin ... red-planet

....Everybody line up for tickets, but still a potential suicide mission...Quote, Elon Musk: "It’s dangerous and probably people will die, and they’ll know that. And then they’ll pave the way, and ultimately it will be very safe to go to Mars, and it will very comfortable. But that will be many years in the future.”

So Bon Voyage :) ...Can't wait for IAC in a few weeks !!
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QuarkFly
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:55 am

Apparently the Falcon-9 explosion isn't holding up space colonization plans...

http://www.salon.com/2016/09/19/space-o ... s-by-2018/

And since Elon wants to colonize beyond the red planet, the MCT (Mars Colonial Transporter) needs a different name -- "Turns out MCT can go well beyond Mars, so will need a new name…" https://twitter.com/elonmusk?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Buckle up -- Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto? Here we come !!
Always take the Red Eye if possible
 
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neutrino
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Wed Sep 21, 2016 4:04 pm

QuarkFly wrote:
And since Elon wants to colonize beyond the red planet, the MCT (Mars Colonial Transporter) needs a different name -- "Turns out MCT can go well beyond Mars, so will need a new name…" https://twitter.com/elonmusk?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Simple. Just rename it the Mass Colonial Transporter. A single letter substitution in the first word resulting in a homophone that retains the same acronym.
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DIRECTFLT
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Wed Sep 21, 2016 6:06 pm

So who'd want to colonize that dead rusted planet, Mars??

The same reasons there aren't pushes to "colonize" Antarctica, or The Sahara.

As for exploration / scientific outposts, then that will need to happen first successfully on the Moon.

"Mars" is a sexier pull for Governmental funds and grants. They'll then use "that" money to actually build an outpost on the Moon, as a "first step". But, I don't think manned missions to Mars will ever happen in any of our lifetimes. Maybe a trillionaire's one-shot one way trip... maybe. But, I say again... Why ???

We'd be better off managing food production here on earth.

This "going to the stars" is PURE Science-Fiction.

We're more likely to send the planet into nuclear darkness, before the leap to wrap drive is ever accomplished.

Maybe, just maybe, that's the way of the Universe.... why we never have visitors that can be actually verified in real time....
All civilizations go to nuclear winter before they can go to warp drive. And thus, the cycle begins all over again...

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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Mon Sep 26, 2016 4:08 pm

Rocket engine tested to launch Mars Colonial Transport (scratch that)...the newly named "Interplanetary Transport System" ITS, Mars is only a pit stop...

http://www.space.com/34192-spacex-rapto ... hotos.html

More coming at the end of the month. https://twitter.com/elonmusk
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SCAT15F
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Mon Sep 26, 2016 8:54 pm

That's 12 feet in diameter? No way. If those railings and stairs are human scale, it more like 6 feet. This must be the scaled down test version of the raptor they were talking about.
 
iamlucky13
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:17 pm

So... he gave his big Mars speech today:
https://www.engadget.com/2016/09/27/spa ... n-details/

Truly a fun concept, but this definitely goes in the category of "I'll believe it when I see it. I'll with hold further commentary for the moment.
 
maxter
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Wed Sep 28, 2016 1:40 am

maxter
 
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QuarkFly
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Wed Sep 28, 2016 2:28 am

Well, as it stands now, I'm not changing the name of this thread topic. Megalomania at its finest !!
http://www.space.com/34210-elon-musk-un ... -ship.html

- ITS looks like giant boosters with 40 or more raptor engines -- two launches per Mars trip, one for human spaceship and another tanker for earth orbit refueling -- then off to Mars.

- Quote: "SpaceX also plans to build a solar-powered factory on Mars that will use the carbon dioxide and water ice in the planet's air and soil, respectively, to generate methane and oxygen — the propellant used by the Raptor engine. "

- "He [Musk] said he hopes to complete the first development of the spaceship within four years, then start suborbital testing shortly thereafter. If everything goes really well, Musk said, the ITS could be launching on its first Mars mission "within the 10-year time frame."

- And: "self-sustaining colony on the Red Planet within the next 50 to 100 years"

- "The architecture allows for a cost per ticket of less than $200,000," Musk said. "We think that the cost of moving to Mars ultimately could drop below $100,000."

- Funding is 'Kickstarter" and some nebulous "private-public partnership" ??

To say the least -- believe it when I see it !! -- But great video graphics to impress the gullible...Lets digest some more of the details...although so far this looks like a lot of hand-waving. I didn't see some of the key issues discussed earlier in this thread like, agriculture, radiation, human issues, etc. Some of the contributors here provided more solid info than our spacefaring friend Elon has given us.

Some more details...
http://www.space.com/34213-spacex-inter ... mages.html
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Francoflier
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Wed Sep 28, 2016 2:12 pm

QuarkFly wrote:
Megalomania at its finest !!


I wouldn't call it megalomania. He's not doing this to sustain his ego. (unlike that other guy who keeps making the news...)
He just has a vision that Mars is within reach of mankind but that we'll never get there if no one dares making the first step.

He's a dreamer, I'll give you that, and he dreams BIG.

Even if this is extremely far fetched, you can't help by being impressed by someone who gets us to dream about space exploration again.

And even if he only achieves 10% of his vision, he'll have gotten farther than anyone or any government has in the last 50 years in that field.

At best, he manages to bring space closer to mankind than it ever was before. At worst, a few rich investors lose money.
From my own cynical and hypocritical standpoint (I love his dream but I probably wouldn't bet any money on it), it sounds pretty good.

I must admit though. If it was anyone other than Musk coming up with those plans, it would have 'Investor Scam' written all over it, like the famous Baltia Airlines or Rekkof ventures we often talk about here on A.net.
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Channex757
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Wed Sep 28, 2016 4:08 pm

Elon Musk has form.

He had a dream and with partners worked at building a secure payment system for the internet, and look where PayPal is now.

His dream of reusable space rockets that take down the cost of launches by orders of magnitude? It's happening, and NASA is supporting SpaceX too.

Some years back he was building expensive roadsters using Lotus bodies and all-electric powertrains. people laughed at the $100k cost and called it a dead end. Then came the Model S. The laughing went quieter but he was still not profitable. Along came the Model X and the Tesla offshoot Powerwall is now getting going. Next year the Model 3 arrives with huge advance sales already. Mercedes and others are doing quiet deals with Tesla to share their drivetrain and battery technologies. The company's plan to become profitable is on course as sales will start to exceed production and investment costs. Look where Tesla stock is nowadays.

i'd put my money on the dreamer. he dreams big, he dreams fast and turns those dreams into reality.
 
epten
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Thu Sep 29, 2016 8:47 am

VSMUT wrote:
QuarkFly wrote:
Traveling in space and residing on other planets requires significant shielding for nasty solar and cosmic radiation. Will eventually have lots of sick people in space.


Not a problem, this has already been dealt with.


Really? How?
 
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KarelXWB
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Re: Sorry Elon, You're Not Going to Colonize Planets

Thu Sep 29, 2016 9:20 am

Channex757 wrote:
His dream of reusable space rockets that take down the cost of launches by orders of magnitude? It's happening, and NASA is supporting SpaceX too.


Yep.

Reusable technology is the reason why Virgin Galactic can offer $250,000 tickets, and the price will come further down.

The following article sums it up quite nicely:

Imagine if the way planes worked was that they took off, flew to their destination, but then instead of landing, all the passengers parachuted down to the ground and then the plane landed by smashing into the ocean and blowing up. So every plane flew exactly once, and to have a new flight happen, you’d have to build another plane.

A plane ticket would cost $1.5 million.


Full read
http://waitbutwhy.com/2016/09/spacexs-b ... story.html
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