Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by The Godly Delight, Sep 29, 2017.
Nope, needs to return.
Paparazzi snapped a photo of open-air capsule to Mars on the launch pad. I didn't know paparazzi were good people until now.
I will respectfully disagree with you there, though in some ways it's a matter of semantics. Falcon Heavy is assembled and will most likely launch in a month or two. Even without the BFR, that would be a large enough launch vehicles to, combined with fuel depots, begin to create the necessary infrastructure (fuel/supply depots send ahead of time) for a skeleton crew to begin colony operations. That takes a tremendous effort of will and a lot of money, but it's certainly possible.
With nuclear-thermal or VASIMIR drive, times to Mars transit depending on the path taken could be months. If Woodward MEGAdrive ever works, then weeks.
I don't really understand the appeal of Mars, however. I certainly think people will visit in a decade or two, but if we want to visit another world, we already have one on our doorstep, the Moon. Unlike Mars it even has an economic justification for colonizing (glass, metals, Helium 3, giant lava tubes that are more easy to turn into habitats). If living in Mars is so appealing why aren't hundreds of thousands of people selling off all they own and moving north to make a go of living on Baffin Island or Spitzbergen. There's a couple of Antarctic villages run by Argentina, and I don't see anyone beating down the door to move there, either.
It's also difficult to run a Earth based business from Mars due to time delays, whereas if a certain inventor with a hint of megalomania wants to still be in charge of his assets but avoid paying taxes, the moon might just be the thing. Long term, I think the real colony effort is still out of the O'Neil book, and it's becoming more clear that Bezos is pretty O'neillian in his views. Ultimately it may come down to Bezos and Musk at least in part to decide humanity's future.
Let's forget current launch capability for a second. Technology of all stripes has advanced enormously in the time since we've started landing spacecraft on Mars. Going to Mars has become drastically easier just to leaps in technology, should they be taken advantage of.
Even if you forget about launching, robotics and automation have advanced to a point where if I told you a Martian base can build itself within 5 years, you'd probably think I was serious. Now, it's not exactly true, since building is one thing, finding and processing all the raw materials is another – and we don't have such construction robots here on Earth yet, even though we do have the raw materials. But launching inflatable fleet of modules and have them assembled for a future landing party is orders of magnitude easier than it would have been 10 years ago. It's doable, and it will get less and less expensive to pull off as the time goes.
I do believe SpaceX are taking advantage of those leaps for advancing launch capacity, so the BFR is possible, and the Heavy could be enough for that inflatable fleet – especially if re-usability of the three bottom stages is achieved.
I could be overselling it, but at least we've got that Heavy on the pad, and if it doesn't blow up it will be big. The heaviest launch vehicle in service, a milestone in commercial launch. First commercial Mars-capable spacecraft. First commercial launch beyond Mars, second (?) to deep space, first fully commercial launch to deep space. First joke payload to deep space – a lunatic is launching their car to a heliocentric orbit in deep space, let that sink in for a second.
Although what I'm most excited about is that it will be first attempt to recover three boosters at once. That will be fun. I'm annoyed that Elon cancelled the recovery of the fourth booster, because he thinks the BFR will fly. I find the confidence he puts in that disturbing. I hope SpaceX doesn't go bankrupt by betting everything on being able to pull it off with the BFR.
(Oh, and I'm still excited by the fact there might be a car – VOY: The 37s style – sharing a close orbit with Mars. That's downright insane... “If I were to suggest that sharing, close to Mars, there is an ancient red automobile revolving around the sun in a circular orbit... Well, my students, history books say that there actually is such a thing. But nobody has found it yet.”)
Even if we're careful not to get our hopes up (I find that last part hard), that's still inspiring and hopeful, and does not support us thinking of >100 year time frames. I mean, a 100 years – NASA think they can get to Alpha Centauri in 96.
There's no way to survive that. I know a lot of people claim Terra-Forming is possible, but if so, we should use that tech to correct the damage happening to the planet we live on. Also, I know this is a Star Trek board and for some reason many people believe we could find another 'pristine/identical to Earth' planet we could just up and move to to escape our Sun's demise; but most planets would have their own ecosystem/life cycle, and there's no guarantee that any corporeal or plant life would be life sustaining to our bodies; OR if an alien intelligent and technological society already evolved there, that they would be willing/able to 'share' their world assuming it could sustain humans.
I'm ALL FOR developing and expanding on Human space-faring capability to better utilize all the resources in the Solar System to help our society grow and thrive; but given the situation, I don't think interstellar travel will be anything like what's depicted in Star Trek (or even some of the more 'Hard' Science Fiction entries on the subject); and that the odds of finding a pristine world that would support and nourish Humans that evolved here in the Earth's exosphere; or that we could somehow bring our own planets and animals and modify us and them to survive in an alien exosphere is a pipe dream.
What if another country beats the USA to the Moon and puts up a base?
Can we jump on their bandwagon instead?
Learn to speak Chinese perhaps? The PRC has a goal to establish a manned lunar base I believe. However, they don't seem to do cooperation, having no involvement with the ISS, for example.
I thought they did have a module docked there at one time.
Not that I'm aware of - their space program is quite involved with the military and they don't trust the US. Perhaps you were thinking of the Japanese module?
That could be...
Yeah China being buddies in space, yeah that ain't gonna happen.
Never been part of ISS project. They have their own station.
The Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) aka Kibo (Hope) is still attached BTW.
ETA: Seems it's more the US distrusts the PRC as they think they will steal technology for their military - haha, they have four times the population at least, a huge technologically literate class, and a phenomenally better attitude to science and tech that doesn't allow religion to get in the way. China has cooperated with Russia and Germany on several space projects. Slow but steady wins the race perhaps. The US's best hope are Musk and Bezos' privately financed initiatives. Let's see how the NASA SLS trials go though...
But is that module Kawaii?
Cuteness is in the eye of the beholder I guess. About as relevant as asking whether the module has any aspects of wabi-sabi or wu-wei.
ETA: There is probably a Japanese aesthetic term for the relationship "form ever follows function" but I couldn't locate a near match. The phrase does appear to be pretty much dismissed in modern architecture, which has come a long way since Bauhaus days. In any case, most ISS modules are pretty much constrained to be cans with standard docking interfaces and maybe some combination of solar panels, robotic arm and experimental pallet attached.
Long ago, in my county, we had a strong community of people educated and trained in STEM. These individuals pioneered many of the technologies we have come to rely on. We sent humans to the Moon. Since that time, there has been a steady erosion in support for training and education. I no longer believe my country will be able of leading a effort at colonizing Mars. Right now, there is no real leader - we are stuck at LEO.
I do not know if corporations will have the resiliency for such a mission. In the past, overseas ventures were backed by the Crown.
And, personally, I am finding it harder, and more improbable with each growing year, to believe that a representative democracry such as ours which lobs wildly from one extreme to another with the sucession of each new administration, as a result of the vastly differing ideologies and priorities, can actually give any stablity to a long-term project like the manned colonization of space.
I expect a nationalist like Trump will pull out the stops to beat China back to the Moon. Also the work being done by billionaires such as Musk and Bezos now seems likely to provide the required infrastructure.
I do wonder though, and this is purely thinking of the USA as this was spoken of in the USA, if another country made milestones and beat them to these things would it spark anyone to action?
But by the time China is on the Moon Trump will be out of office. It will be the next guy or gal's job then to deal with that.
Hm, I just realised the obvious – MTO after a TMI is unsurprisingly similar to GTO and is basically an elliptical orbit between Earth and Mars.
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