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Humans Will Never Colonize Mars

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#51 Jeff B1

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 12:42 PM

Well, it seems to me all those "more attainable" solutions on Earth are being postponed or ignored altogether despite the fact that we're not wasting any money or effort on rotating ringed space stations.  So they can hardly be blamed for the unattainability of those more attainable solutions.

 

Somehow, I suspect that whatever time and energy we spend, or do not spend, attaining these goals in space will matter not one whit to the problems on Earth.  So far, space has enriched our lives on Earth, it has a history contributing to solutions here, not delaying or preventing them.  I doubt that pursuing more sophisticated space stations, or even Mars transport ships with spin-induced artificial gravity, are going to change that.

Let's hope that enrichments do not include Facebook or the other worshiping of modern popular technology.  I still love the Space Shuttle thingie.



#52 llanitedave

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 10:06 PM

Let's hope that enrichments do not include Facebook or the other worshiping of modern popular technology.  I still love the Space Shuttle thingie.

I love wooden sailing ships, but I hardly want to be stuck on one eating hardtack and drinking grog for months at a time.



#53 Mr Astro

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Posted 08 August 2019 - 05:57 PM

Well..

The word "Never" is not a scientific word ..

History has told that..

Never fly !! ---> we flew

Never talk to a man in the other side of the earth --> we talked ..and more..

As long as we live and think .. its not reasonable to say "never"..

how fast ? .. its another issue.. 

 



#54 DarkAntimatter

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Posted 08 August 2019 - 10:19 PM

I love wooden sailing ships, but I hardly want to be stuck on one eating hardtack and drinking grog for months at a time.

Well I don't know about the hardtack but the grog might start to seem appealing after a while.

 

Interesting discussion all.

 

To add a few of ideas to the discussion:

 

I haven't read more than the headlines on the long exposure to low-dose radiation problem, but is it of a type that better shielding can stop?  Ie. is it a cost issue in that it can be stopped by more massive, more expensive metal in the shell of the ship?

 

Regarding cost, if the efforts to reduce ground-to-orbit prices are successful, I wonder if that will have an effect on spurring on manned exploration.  It would enable better shielded ships, faster journeys (can carry more fuel), and more possible coming and going between earth and any possible colony.  I think Musk's company has said they think they can reduce the payload cost to about 1/4 - 1/5 of present prices when they get the booster reuse working smoothly and they have a longer term goal of reducing it to 1/10 of present prices.  But to do the things I mentioned, 1/10 is probably not quite enough.

 

The general consensus now is that fusion (stay with me) will not stay perpetually 30 years away, but will actually happen by mid-century and probably a little sooner.  Not that the investment is expected to increase much but technology is finally catching up to requirements. This would enable much faster and cheaper travel between earth and other points in the solar system and will likely make such travel by humans much more common despite the questions about what we stand to gain.  If one can travel to Mars in 4 weeks it's not too hard to imagine a large well equipped station or stations there with rotating staff, rather like Antarctica.  The main downside to long term stays would be reduced gravity.  But for some people, perhaps older travelers the advantages of less wear and tear on old joints might entice some of them to stay permanently.  If you don't have to worry about coming back, the changes due to 1/3 gravity would possibly not be a problem.  Then "station" is starting to morph into "colony".



#55 llanitedave

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 03:07 AM

Well I don't know about the hardtack but the grog might start to seem appealing after a while.

 

Interesting discussion all.

 

To add a few of ideas to the discussion:

 

I haven't read more than the headlines on the long exposure to low-dose radiation problem, but is it of a type that better shielding can stop?  Ie. is it a cost issue in that it can be stopped by more massive, more expensive metal in the shell of the ship?

 

Regarding cost, if the efforts to reduce ground-to-orbit prices are successful, I wonder if that will have an effect on spurring on manned exploration.  It would enable better shielded ships, faster journeys (can carry more fuel), and more possible coming and going between earth and any possible colony.  I think Musk's company has said they think they can reduce the payload cost to about 1/4 - 1/5 of present prices when they get the booster reuse working smoothly and they have a longer term goal of reducing it to 1/10 of present prices.  But to do the things I mentioned, 1/10 is probably not quite enough.

 

The general consensus now is that fusion (stay with me) will not stay perpetually 30 years away, but will actually happen by mid-century and probably a little sooner.  Not that the investment is expected to increase much but technology is finally catching up to requirements. This would enable much faster and cheaper travel between earth and other points in the solar system and will likely make such travel by humans much more common despite the questions about what we stand to gain.  If one can travel to Mars in 4 weeks it's not too hard to imagine a large well equipped station or stations there with rotating staff, rather like Antarctica.  The main downside to long term stays would be reduced gravity.  But for some people, perhaps older travelers the advantages of less wear and tear on old joints might entice some of them to stay permanently.  If you don't have to worry about coming back, the changes due to 1/3 gravity would possibly not be a problem.  Then "station" is starting to morph into "colony".

The best shielding in a spaceship, besides getting through the radiation as quickly as possible, is the propellant itself.  Methane, LOX, and water are actually better shielding material than the steel hull.  The trick is to arrange it so that it actually s placed between the passengers and the radiation source.  I don't know enpugh about the design of Starship to say if that would effectively happen.

 

Compact fission will probably precede fusion into space, and it shows promise of making things much easier.  If the price of solar keeps going down, and of batteries, then I don't think that energy availability will be an insurmountable obstacle, even though it will always be a limiting factor.

 

It will be a long time, I fear, before Mars is merely 4 weeks away.



#56 ColoHank

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 01:50 PM

Well I don't know about the hardtack but the grog might start to seem appealing after a while.

 

Interesting discussion all.

 

To add a few of ideas to the discussion:

 

I haven't read more than the headlines on the long exposure to low-dose radiation problem, but is it of a type that better shielding can stop?  Ie. is it a cost issue in that it can be stopped by more massive, more expensive metal in the shell of the ship?

 

Regarding cost, if the efforts to reduce ground-to-orbit prices are successful, I wonder if that will have an effect on spurring on manned exploration.  It would enable better shielded ships, faster journeys (can carry more fuel), and more possible coming and going between earth and any possible colony.  I think Musk's company has said they think they can reduce the payload cost to about 1/4 - 1/5 of present prices when they get the booster reuse working smoothly and they have a longer term goal of reducing it to 1/10 of present prices.  But to do the things I mentioned, 1/10 is probably not quite enough.

 

The general consensus now is that fusion (stay with me) will not stay perpetually 30 years away, but will actually happen by mid-century and probably a little sooner.  Not that the investment is expected to increase much but technology is finally catching up to requirements. This would enable much faster and cheaper travel between earth and other points in the solar system and will likely make such travel by humans much more common despite the questions about what we stand to gain.  If one can travel to Mars in 4 weeks it's not too hard to imagine a large well equipped station or stations there with rotating staff, rather like Antarctica.  The main downside to long term stays would be reduced gravity.  But for some people, perhaps older travelers the advantages of less wear and tear on old joints might entice some of them to stay permanently.  If you don't have to worry about coming back, the changes due to 1/3 gravity would possibly not be a problem.  Then "station" is starting to morph into "colony".

Getting there is only part of the problem.  The greater the velocity of the conveyance, the longer it takes to decelerate upon arrival.  For the Rovers, it took a number of orbits, each lightly brushing Mars' thin upper atmosphere to slow the lander, and each tighter than the last.  Only when finally slow enough, often months after initial arrival, would the retro rockets fire and actual landing sequence begin.   



#57 DarkAntimatter

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 04:31 PM

Getting there is only part of the problem.  The greater the velocity of the conveyance, the longer it takes to decelerate upon arrival.  For the Rovers, it took a number of orbits, each lightly brushing Mars' thin upper atmosphere to slow the lander, and each tighter than the last.  Only when finally slow enough, often months after initial arrival, would the retro rockets fire and actual landing sequence begin.   

I agree.  In order to make a faster trip, you'd need more fuel to accelerate for faster travel and almost that much more again for deceleration at the end, to undo all that acceleration.  If we are using chemical fuels, the weight will make the price go up really quickly.  Doing much speeding up will likely require a wait for something which weighs a lot less for equal thrust, ie. probably fusion, but maybe fission.  



#58 FirstSight

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Posted 11 August 2019 - 08:33 AM

I don't see Mars as an end destination, I see it as a waypoint to colonization of the solar system at large.  Eventually, the asteroids will be the more economical resources, and beyond that, maybe much later, the Oort Cloud.  It won't be easy...

You have a long-running obsession with the notion that the Oort cloud is a long-term exploitable resource for the human race, but you never include any articulate proposal for how this might potentially be done, even in very broad-brush terms that don't attempt to drill down to the "devil in the details" level.  Sure, in principle there are abundant potential resources in the comet-like bodies that comprise the Oort cloud - there are in principle trillions of such bodies in the Oort cloud region >= 1k in diameter.   Nevertheless, even the "densest" region of the Oort cloud is almost vanishingly diffuse, with extremely vast distances between one exploitable-sized body and the next, even aside from the problem of actually finding one of them.  And there are countlessly abundant "devils in the details" involved with any broad conceptual scheme to exploit or colonize the Oort cloud.



#59 llanitedave

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Posted 11 August 2019 - 11:02 AM

You have a long-running obsession with the notion that the Oort cloud is a long-term exploitable resource for the human race, but you never include any articulate proposal for how this might potentially be done, even in very broad-brush terms that don't attempt to drill down to the "devil in the details" level.  Sure, in principle there are abundant potential resources in the comet-like bodies that comprise the Oort cloud - there are in principle trillions of such bodies in the Oort cloud region >= 1k in diameter.   Nevertheless, even the "densest" region of the Oort cloud is almost vanishingly diffuse, with extremely vast distances between one exploitable-sized body and the next, even aside from the problem of actually finding one of them.  And there are countlessly abundant "devils in the details" involved with any broad conceptual scheme to exploit or colonize the Oort cloud.

Understood, and I don't want to minimize the difficulties involved.  This is not a near-term goal, and the context is usually as a response to conversations involving moving to other star systems, and ideas such as the Fermi Paradox.  For us, several things have to happen first:  the development of portable, practical fusion power is first.  Then we have to learn how to live and work and exploit resources long-term in microgravity.  This means, ultimately, conquering the asteroid belt, and establishing a sustainable economy  based there.

 

I'm not proposing some big, all-up mission to the Oort Cloud.  What I'm saying is that once the above technology is developed, and there already exists a working population distributed throughout the inner solar system, that the evolution outward is inevitable, and while Oort Clouds do have their challenges, as you point out, colonizing them will be far easier and more productive than searching for the small number of Earthlike planets in the inner orbits of other star systems.

 

The details that bedevil us do include the ability to locate and track distant small bodies, navigating between them on reasonable timescales, energy generation that doesn't ultimately depend on the sun, radiation protection, and the actual techniques of processing the materials of these bodies into usable resources.

 

Most of these requirements, though, will already have been mastered in the asteroid belt, or the Trojan asteroids, or the Centaurs, or the Kuiper belt.  There's no hard and fast boundary that says once one particular environment has been successfully mastered that the next one is forever closed off to us.  What I am saying is that once the outer edges of the Solar System have been reached and conquered, that going back inwards towards the inner planets of other stars provides diminishing returns, and that it's between the cometary clouds of the stars in the galaxy that the expansion of life will be conducted.



#60 DarkAntimatter

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Posted 11 August 2019 - 10:47 PM

I would think since the article linked in the OP said we will _never_ colonize Mars, it is perfectly fair here to mention things that are decades away.  Never is a really long time. wink.gif


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