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Q. Can We, Should We, Go To Mars?

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posted on Jul, 11 2007 @ 06:16 PM
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A round trip to Mars? We are told it would be 2 years at a minimum. Because of the necessity of launching when the Earth and Mars come closest in their respective orbits around the Sun the window for launching occurs once every 2 years. The trip would take 6 to 8 months to transit the 35 million miles to Mars. The astronauts would have to wait on Mars until the next near conjunction with Earth before starting the 6 to 8 months journey back to Earth. That leaves about 8 to 12 months for a walk around on Mars by the 4 to 6 astronauts.

However much it is estimated to cost for that one time trip, I have come to my own conclusion, around $600,000,000,000.00 in 2007 dollars. Six hundred billion dollars. This is $2,000 per person alive today in the US. Spread over the 20 years needed to accomplish, that comes to 2 bucks a week each. Advocates will consistently understate the cost. Our only past experience was the 1962 to 1969 Man on the Moon project. It cost us $25 b. to put 12 men on the Moon and 6 more in orbit around the Moon. I’m not including the unlucky Apollo 13 mission that nearly did not make it back alive.

Any trip to Mars is fraught with dangers of lethal proportions. The Solar Wind, made up of charged particles emitted from sun spot sites, travel at large fractions of the speed of light, but fortunately, as in any EMF emission, it diminishes according to the inverse square of the distance. It is entirely possible the 2 years journey to Mars and back would not encounter any of the Solar Wind even though the Sun is emitting particles all the time. But not in every direction. The problem is, do we ‘buckle up’ or ‘run bare?’ I expect there will be a compromise, adding a little shielding, but not enough to realistically withstand a ‘direct hit.’ If all of or any of the astronauts received an LD - lethal dose - of radiation, then certain death would follow.

Ethical question. Suppose half the astronauts - 3 - received a lethal dose. It could be reliably predicted how long they would survive based on the dosage level. Should the three uninjured astronauts immediately “launch” their soon-to-be-dead fellow astronauts into space to save air, food and water, without waiting for their uncomely end?

Moral question. Should the Mars astronaut team be open to females? To be down and dirty, not unless all the astronauts, male and female, have been spayed and neutered. We don’t need a Virginia Dare on Mars. I really don’t know the answer to this question. I think it is mainly a psychological question. If we open the trip to females, should it automatically be a 3 to 3 ratio? Or 4 to 2? Or Heaven forbid, 5 to 1? Say hello Queen of Sheba! Which may or may not raise a religious issue. Suppose one or more of the women are Muslims? Do they wear the burqa? (Also spelled Burka). See www.islamicboutique.com/islamic-dress-code.asp

But have you been to Dubai lately? There are more navels showing there than you will find in Annapolis. What if the men or one of them is a Mormon or a Christian philanderer like Jimmy Swaggart or James Bakker and believes in or practices polygamy and wants a “sample” of all the women onboard? OK, you can see it is not as simple as it might look.

I think a trip to Mars ought to be Number TWO in our near space human exploration plans. Number ONE? For about $50 to $100 billion we can put a manned observatory on the Moon. Outfitted with a second Keck telescope - one is now in Hawaii - we might get to see so much of our Universe it would take so long to digest that we could develop a nuclear powered photon engine to take us to Mars. Fast. We would make periodic trips to the Moon to rotate the crew and renew supplies as we do now with the ISS. International Space Station.

As a bonus, we could carry the materials needed to assemble a Mars spaceship on the Moon, piece by piece. To launch such a vehicle from the Moon requires only 1/7th of the energy needed to lift the same weight off the earth. Another plus, a Moon launch avoids the risks of passing through our lower atmosphere which is the cause of continued flaking off of the insulation on the shuttle’s main fuel tank. An apparently unstoppable side effect in earth based launches.

[edit on 7/11/2007 by donwhite]




posted on Jul, 12 2007 @ 08:27 AM
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Yeah, thats what they're doin. Heard about the manned moon base by 2018 - 2020? Mars is for 2030-40. And yeah, they're using the Moon as a platform for further exploration. As for the other stuff, I'll take 5 females, no burqas.



posted on Jul, 12 2007 @ 09:56 AM
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Should the three uninjured astronauts immediately “launch” their soon-to-be-dead fellow astronauts into space to save air, food and water, without waiting for their uncomely end?



They would probally come up with a contract that they will submit to be euthanized understanding they would die soon anyways perhaps.




Should the Mars astronaut team be open to females? To be down and dirty, not unless all the astronauts, male and female, have been spayed and neutered.


I don't think this would be necessary, you could just give them a buttload of contraceptives and train them to use them

About your comments about religion, they may screen their astronauts to be non religious ones perhaps?



posted on Jul, 12 2007 @ 10:31 AM
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Can we?.......Probably


Should we?....... well on the basis that sooner or later this earth is going to be uninhabitable then yes, we have to.
Its one of the first steps to find somewhere to colonise. Whilst Mars itself would be useless when our sun becomes a Red Dwarf it will help us develop more techonolgies, to enoable us to reach out to other galaxies



posted on Jul, 12 2007 @ 11:29 AM
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The Mars Direct proposal is estimated to cost between 30 - 35 billion. I'm curious as to what qualifies your "own conclusion" of 600 billion as a more accurate figure.



posted on Jul, 12 2007 @ 01:27 PM
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DonWhite I am just trying to absorb you thread, while is many around here with dreams of been able to visit mars, it actually will not happen in any of us life time.

I guess that the problem with males and females aboard for an extended year or years visit to mars will be taken care off, by then science will have come with some devices to make sure the astronauts would be happy and satisfied with not necessity of human contact.



posted on Jul, 12 2007 @ 01:54 PM
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Personally, I would much rather see the placement of a nice, big radio telescope on the lunar farside, nestled in a big crater and built mostly by smart robots. And an optical telescope there would also be a very nice thing to have, along with a science outpost either on the surface or in orbit. Heck, even something simple like a good, permanent lunar orbiting satellite would be nice. How is it that we have good Mars orbiters, but none for our own Moon? (Except the CIA's "Clementine," which I'm not sure may or may not still be lurking out there.)

We generally get a lot more bang for our exploratory buck when we do it unmanned. Moving people around in space is so very difficult because of the physiological and psychological factors. As for the moral implications of astronaut death and sex, I suppose we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Curiously enough, nobody I know gets to vote on any of this stuff, other than indirectly through general elections. So it's really out of our hands. But then again, I didn't vote for any wars, recently, either. Too bad we can't take the $12 billion a month we're pissing away in Iraq and Afghanistan to build a nice lunar telescope. Oh, well.

[edit on 12-7-2007 by SuicideVirus]



posted on Jul, 12 2007 @ 02:05 PM
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We do have the technology yes.

Should we go? I don't think so. Not at our current rate of evolution.

I don't see the average human being able to take care of themselves on Earth. Do we really need to go and start polluting another planet?

While I think we deserve to continue our species, that does not mean we have the right to inhabit another planet.

First we need to fix our problems here on Earth. Then we can move onto other planets.

This reminds me of the Doctor Seuss book (I can't remember the name) where there were two kinds of creatures. One was quiet and in harmony with nature, the other drove around noisy boats that polluted and left trash everywhere.

Well, we humans have become for the most part the second group of beings.

We can change and be more in harmony with nature.

Until that time comes, no I do not think we deserve to leave this planet.



posted on Jul, 12 2007 @ 02:25 PM
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Sure, let's go to Mars! But maybe we should get a new and different space agency because NASA is only good at one thing: spending taxpayer monies on stupid projects that do damn little in the exploration of space.

Shouldn't we have a moon base by now to launch further exploration?

Even the Mars probes don't have that good of a record of sending back data.

Maybe we should think about fixing the infrastructure of the USA before we start spending on pie in the sky boondoggles.



posted on Jul, 12 2007 @ 02:56 PM
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Lets remember that this is all assuming that we have not already been to Mars and / or are not there at this very minute.

There are people who believe we've been going there since the 60's.



posted on Jul, 12 2007 @ 07:11 PM
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Originally posted by donwhite
However much it is estimated to cost for that one time trip, I have come to my own conclusion, around $600,000,000,000.00 in 2007 dollars. Six hundred billion dollars. This is $2,000 per person alive today in the US. Spread over the 20 years needed to accomplish, that comes to 2 bucks a week each. Advocates will consistently understate the cost. Our only past experience was the 1962 to 1969 Man on the Moon project. It cost us $25 b. to put 12 men on the Moon and 6 more in orbit around the Moon. I’m not including the unlucky Apollo 13 mission that nearly did not make it back alive.


Where did that $600,000,000,000.00 figure come from? I'm not saying it's an incorrect figure (since I don't know what you're including in it, I can't say much about its accuracy), but it does seem way out of line (by several orders of magnitude) with most estimates of the project cost.

As an aside, isn't the number you typed 600 trillion, or am I miscounting zeros?



Any trip to Mars is fraught with dangers of lethal proportions. The Solar Wind, made up of charged particles emitted from sun spot sites, travel at large fractions of the speed of light, but fortunately, as in any EMF emission, it diminishes according to the inverse square of the distance. It is entirely possible the 2 years journey to Mars and back would not encounter any of the Solar Wind even though the Sun is emitting particles all the time. But not in every direction. The problem is, do we ‘buckle up’ or ‘run bare?’ I expect there will be a compromise, adding a little shielding, but not enough to realistically withstand a ‘direct hit.’ If all of or any of the astronauts received an LD - lethal dose - of radiation, then certain death would follow.


Any trip across town to my job is fraught with dangers of lethal proportions, too...I've cleaned up enough fatal car wrecks to know. That doesn't stop me from going to work. It simply means that I take what precautions I can, and do what needs to be done. The crews of our Mars missions will probably have much the same mindset. It's dangerous, but that doesn't mean that it can't, or shouldn't, be done.

As for the Solar wind, there's no way that there won't be some exposure to radiation out there...the answer is, indeed, a compromise, but not of the sort you're mentioning. The usual scenario is to provide 'storm shelters' for the crew...letting the vehicle hull provide sufficient shielding for 'normal' levels of radiation, and installing heavily shielded 'safe spots' where the crew can take refuge during peak exposure periods.



Ethical question. Suppose half the astronauts - 3 - received a lethal dose. It could be reliably predicted how long they would survive based on the dosage level. Should the three uninjured astronauts immediately “launch” t
heir soon-to-be-dead fellow astronauts into space to save air, food and water, without waiting for their uncomely end?


Why would they have to be ejected 'to save food, air, and water'? Presumably, you're already carrying enough of those items for the entire crew to survive the entire mission....therefore, there's no need to throw the sick and / or dying overboard to conserve resources.



Moral question. Should the Mars astronaut team be open to females? To be down and dirty, not unless all the astronauts, male and female, have been spayed and neutered. We don’t need a Virginia Dare on Mars. I really don’t know the answer to this question. I think it is mainly a psychological question. If we open the trip to females, should it automatically be a 3 to 3 ratio? Or 4 to 2? Or Heaven forbid, 5 to 1? Say hello Queen of Sheba! Which may or may not raise a religious issue. Suppose one or more of the women are Muslims? Do they wear the burqa? (Also spelled Burka). See www.islamicboutique.com/islamic-dress-code.asp

But have you been to Dubai lately? There are more navels showing there than you will find in Annapolis. What if the men or one of them is a Mormon or a Christian philanderer like Jimmy Swaggart or James Bakker and believes in or practices polygamy and wants a “sample” of all the women onboard? OK, you can see it is not as simple as it might look.


Wow...generalize much? While you're conjuring up scenarios of sexual debauchery in space, what if one of the astronaughties is a homosexual serial rapist? What if one of them is a mass-murderer? I would expect that professionals can, indeed, act in a professional manner. Long-term birth control isn't exactly pushing the technological envelope, for that matter, so if the crew wants to have sexual relations, why is this a problem? I really hate to break it to you, but it *is* possible for adult human beings to behave in a responsible fashion...even if that person is *gasp* a Mormon, or a Christian, or even, Allah'u Akbar, a Muslim. The crew slots should be open to the best qualified people we can get. Period.



posted on Jul, 12 2007 @ 08:40 PM
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Originally posted by Brother Stormhammer

Originally posted by donwhite
However much it is estimated to cost for that one time trip, I have come to my own conclusion, around $600,000,000,000.00 in 2007 dollars. Six hundred billion dollars. This is $2,000 per person alive today in the US. Spread over the 20 years needed to accomplish, that comes to 2 bucks a week each. Advocates will consistently understate the cost. Our only past experience was the 1962 to 1969 Man on the Moon project. It cost us $25 b. to put 12 men on the Moon and 6 more in orbit around the Moon. I’m not including the unlucky Apollo 13 mission that nearly did not make it back alive.
Where did that $600,000,000,000.00 figure come from? I'm not saying it's an incorrect figure (since I don't know what you're including in it, I can't say much about its accuracy), but it does seem way out of line (by several orders of magnitude) with most estimates of the project cost. As an aside, isn't the number you typed 600 trillion, or am I miscounting zeros?


No, on the trillion question, I believe 3 zeros is thousands, 6 zeros is million, 9 zeros is billion and 12 zeros is trillion, unless you are in England.

Everything the public buys nowadays begins with estimate of cost then the over-runs begin. When the Pentagon was finished in 1941, it came in ahead of schedule and under cost. I think that was the last time that happened.

Iraq is now up to $12 b. a month. Iraq has 166,000 square miles. California has 163,000 square miles. How can anyone spend $12 b. a month in California, month in and month out? Iraq has 27 million people, Texas has 23 million and California has 36 million. Can you imagine how hard it would be for a stranger to spend $12 b. a month in California or Texas, month in and month out? What would you be buying with all that money?

I saw where a quarter billion in US cash was stolen yesterday by bank guards from where they worked. I guess they will go to the Cayman Islands now? No extradition treaty.



As for the Solar wind, there's no way that there won't be some exposure to radiation out there...the answer is, indeed, a compromise, but not of the sort you're mentioning. The usual scenario is to provide 'storm shelters' for the crew...letting the vehicle hull provide sufficient shielding for 'normal' levels of radiation, and installing heavily shielded 'safe spots' where the crew can take refuge during peak exposure periods.


I agree on adding a little shielding, sort of pro forma, but OTOH, if it takes 15 pound of fuel per pound of load round tripping, then it is a serious issue how much protection can you afford? Food for 2 years for certain is more important that a maybe on the solar wind. Some solar flares are so intense that no amount of shielding would prevent injury or death. So even if you agree to build safe spots into the ship, how SAFE to you want to make the safe spots?



Why would they have to be ejected 'to save food, air, and water'? Presumably, you're already carrying enough of those items for the entire crew to survive the entire mission....therefore, there's no need to throw the sick and/or dying overboard to conserve resources.


You never want to play it so close when the outcome is deadly, so any extra supply of any life support necessity is to be welcomed. Anyone who has a great excess of a lethal dose of radiations is a “goner” so let’s not spend valuable assets on a lost cause. Give him/her last rites, bid them a found adieu and push them overboard. Mission Accomplished.



Wow...generalize much? While you're conjuring up scenarios of sexual debauchery in space, what if one of the astronaughties is a homosexual serial rapist? What if one of them is a mass-murderer? I would expect that professionals can, indeed, act in a professional manner. Long-term birth control isn't exactly pushing the technological envelope, for that matter, so if the crew wants to have sexual relations, why is this a problem? I really hate to break it to you, but it *is* possible for adult human beings to behave in a responsible fashion...even if that person is *gasp* a Mormon, or a Christian, or even, Allah'u Akbar, a Muslim. The crew slots should be open to the best qualified people we can get. Period.


Have you watched many episodes of Survivor? Have you read about the internal problems associated with the failed experiment out west where people were to live in an entirely artificial environment for 1 year?

The closest experience we have had is the Apollo missions but those were for only a few days out and a few days back. Confinement in close quarters for long periods is not conducive to good relations between the sexes. 3 and 3 would end up with 5 dead. Before they got to Mars. As for the commission of a serious crime - any crime that jeopardized the mission - the penalty would be a shot of morphine and ejection into space. There is no room for malefactors. And sexual rivalry is a no-no in any long term ultra close association of people. Homo or hero I care not, but for the trip to Mars, we need ‘A-sexuals’ for the duration of the trip. Perhaps those medicines they give sex offenders would slow the libido. Chemical castration they call it. IMO

[edit on 7/12/2007 by donwhite]



posted on Jul, 13 2007 @ 10:49 AM
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Regarding the "Billion / Trillion" thing, you're right...I miscounted the zeros. That's what I get for posting after working a 14 hour shift!
You still haven't provided any real basis for the number though. The cost of the war in Iraq vs the cost of some unidentified activity in California isn't relevant to the discussion of a mission to Mars, so we might want to take that to another thread. If you're using it as some sort of proof that government programs have cost overruns, it's a bad example. There's a major difference between cost analysis for something open-ended and variable (like a war), and a relatively fixed goal-seeking project (like a Mars mission).

Also, the Pentagon wasn't the last government program to come in ahead of schedule and under cost. The Polaris missile and its associated SSBNs came in ahead of schedule and under budget. Something to consider, though...how many big projects went over-budget because of contractor dishonesty, and how many went over because of 'mission creep'? (The F-16 is a lovely example of this...the 'lightweight, simple fighter' became a multi-role fighter / strike platform).

I guess my question is, in simple form, as follows: Do you have any real justification for your 'estimate' of the cost of a Mars mission, or is that simply a WAG based on your belief that any and all government projects will cost at least a few hundred billion?


Moving on to the radiation shielding...there isn't any real way to make the crew absolutely safe. As with everything else, you do the best that you can with the available technology. How safe is safe enough? Good question. Until we know what sort of energy budget we have to work with, there aren't any good answers though.

And yes, I have watched a few episodes of "Survivor". Very few. Please don't cite a reality TV show that makes a point of collecting 'colorful' personalities as a model for a space mission. As far as I know, we haven't had any rapes or sexual assaults on shuttle missions, or aboard the ISS, nor have any fatal lovers' quarrels broken out. We already have a good model for a mixed society that spends long periods in near-total isolation...McMurdo Bay, in the Antarctic. They seem to be functional in spite of conditions that, in ways, are as bad as what you'll find in deep space.

I'm not saying that going to Mars is going to be easy...going to the Moon wasn't easy...going to the New World wasn't easy...but it's human nature (if I might borrow a phrase) "to boldly go where no man has gone before".



posted on Jul, 13 2007 @ 12:31 PM
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Can we go? Technology is available. So too is the knowledge.

Should we go? Hell yes. Without horizons to explore, mankind becomes stagnant, decadent, and soon on a downward slide to extinction. Horizons are for the exploring, and, yes, exploiting. Of course, if intelligent life is found, we'll have to rethink that exploiting thing. Anyhow, yes we go, and the sooner the better.



posted on Jul, 13 2007 @ 12:46 PM
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Originally posted by Brother Stormhammer
Regarding the "Billion / Trillion" thing, you're right...I miscounted the zeros. That's what I get for posting after working a 14 hour shift! You still haven't provided any real basis for the number though. The cost of the war in Iraq vs the cost of some unidentified activity in California isn't relevant to the discussion of a mission to Mars, so we might want to take that to another thread. If you're using it as some sort of proof that government programs have cost overruns, it's a bad example. There's a major difference between cost analysis for something open-ended and variable (like a war), and a relatively fixed goal-seeking project (like a Mars mission). Also, the Pentagon wasn't the last government program to come in ahead of schedule and under cost. The Polaris missile and its associated SSBNs came in ahead of schedule and under budget. Something to consider, though...how many big projects went over-budget because of contractor dishonesty, and how many went over because of 'mission creep'? (The F-16 is a lovely example of this...the 'lightweight, simple fighter' became a multi-role fighter / strike platform). I guess my question is, in simple form, as follows: Do you have any real justification for your 'estimate' of the cost of a Mars mission, or is that simply a WAG based on your belief that any and all government projects will cost at least a few hundred billion?


And my 'simple form' answer is NO. But if the Apollo cost $25 b. in the 1960s, and the round trip to the Moon was 14 days or less, then why would it not cost 25 times as much to be gone 2 years over 2 weeks, and to travel closer to 150 million miles as compared to 600,000 miles? I feel real comfortable with my empirical estimate of $600 b. And I don’t admit to having made a 'WAG' either.



Moving on to the radiation shielding...there isn't any real way to make the crew absolutely safe. As with everything else, you do the best that you can with the available technology. How safe is safe enough? Good question. Until we know what sort of energy budget we have to work with, there aren't any good answers though.


I’m in no better position than you, but we do know there will not be any energy source of sufficient efficiency that we can ignore the issue of weight. I think we can safely conjecture it is impossible to make the craft impregnable to the strongest solar winds. Once that is conceded, then the next level is, how much shielding IF ANY, do we want to provide? Because we are not culturally acclimated to kamikaze missions, we may want to provide some shielding, de minimus, to make us all feel good.



And yes, I have watched a few episodes of "Survivor". Very few. Please don't cite a reality TV show that makes a point of collecting 'colorful' personalities as a model for a space mission. As far as I know, we haven't had any rapes or sexual assaults on shuttle missions, or aboard the ISS, nor have any fatal lovers' quarrels broken out. We already have a good model for a mixed society that spends long periods in near-total isolation...McMurdo Bay, in the Antarctic. They seem to be functional in spite of conditions that, in ways, are as bad as what you'll find in deep space. I'm not saying that going to Mars is going to be easy...going to the Moon wasn't easy...going to the New World wasn't easy...but it's human nature (if I might borrow a phrase) "to boldly go where no man has gone before".


Your reference to McMurdo Bay is well taken. As regards the ISS, pictures from there seem to point to a lot more space per person than is likely to be available on a Mars craft. On it being human nature to explore, I concur. Otherwise we’d all be living on the Serengeti and stripping a dead antelope for supper. That said, I still prefer to see an established base on the Moon before we begin any serious undertaking of a manned Mars mission. Just recall the completely unexpected failure that jeopardized the Apollo 13 mission. Any man-made contraption with as many parts and as complicated design as a Mars craft will be as difficult as the Star Wars computer codes, so many lines we cannot test it before we use it. Hmm?

And now Br S/H, a personal question. What are you doing that puts you on a 14 hours shift?

[edit on 7/13/2007 by donwhite]



posted on Jul, 13 2007 @ 01:29 PM
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A moonbase first is a practical first step, IMHO. Or a better orbiting station. As long as neither become the be all end all of the program...which given our short attention spans is all too likely an event.

To do this, we need to damn all the cost (to a point of course), not only in treasure, but in blood as well. We need to realize right now, that this is not going to be a bloodless exercise, men and women, possibly later children, will die. Mourn the losses, and move on...otherwise don't bother going. Exploration, and exploitation, later colonization are not safe occupations. Make it as safe as possible, of course, but it's not going to be bloodless, the sooner we realize this the better...



posted on Jul, 13 2007 @ 01:31 PM
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Hi Don yes I think we should return home, space exploration is the only way forward. Just lets hope it will be achieved and not a hoax like the moon landings.



posted on Jul, 13 2007 @ 02:17 PM
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Originally posted by magicmushroom
Hi Don yes I think we should return home, space exploration is the only way forward. Just lets hope it will be achieved and not a hoax like the moon landings.


OK, Mr M/M, but please don't burst my bubble before I get it launched.


[edit on 7/13/2007 by donwhite]



posted on Jul, 13 2007 @ 02:27 PM
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Don I'm sure you are aware of all the Mars anomolies, dont you find it starnge that they are not explored more or are they but we dont get the details.

Just think if we could all stop fighting the money we spend on arms could be spent on space exploration. It would be fantastic if we could terra form Mars dont you think.



posted on Jul, 13 2007 @ 06:08 PM
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I'm not convinced that cost would scale directly with mission duration. A lot of the Apollo project's cost was the development of suitable boosters, and the infrastructure to support them. Unless we're aiming for the same sort of 'monolithic launch' approach that we used in the Moon missions, that's not going to be quite as big an issue for the Mars mission. I happen to agree with you regarding the need for a base, either in Earth orbit (perhaps the ISS could be used?) or on the Moon, for exactly that reason...it would add to the 'front end' cost, but it would remove the need to develop, fabricate, and test a massive new booster...and an established base could be doing other things when it wasn't acting as a support for Mars missions. I'd favor using the ISS, if possible, simply because doing so would save at least some time and money (since the structure is already there), and would allow parts and people to be brought up from ground-side more easily than the Lunar option.

Once we've established some form of (probably orbital) fabrication point, we can get down to the 'brass tacks' of building actual space craft...we can make reasonably spacious crew quarters (Perhaps using something like this ?). The increased habitat volume should help with a lot of possible 'social issues'.

As for what I do that gets me a 14 hour shift? I get underpaid

Serious answer: I'm a computer operator at a government installation, with a nominal 12-hour shift...unfortunately for me, my relief was two hours late thanks to car trouble, and there was no supervisor on-site to cover...so I had to "hold my post until relieved", as it were. Folgers is your friend!



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