Archive for the ‘Mars’ Category

Large areas of Mars were covered by water postulates Professor Wei Luo.

Well.  Where did the water go?

Oh, right.  Planetary warming/cooling/change made it go away.

Is it more cynical or more honest to think of these headlines as a push from those who would rely on public funding for their efforts?  Like the warmers?


D’oh!  Make that Venus, Mars, and Saturn. And make it this week, not just tonight.

Humble Pie sang of 30 days in the hole.  Six ‘terrastronauts’ (I made that up in case you like it) are looking at 500 days of lock-up in a Moscow-based simulated spacecraft. The purpose is to serve as a sort of pathfinder-effort culminating in a manned mission to Mars.  It’s all sponsored by the European Space Agency.

The simulation is needed to examine the human needs for what would be a 520 day mission to Mars–250 there, explore for a month, and 230 for the trip home.  Coming back, we’re looking at space tail-winds, eh?

When might such a Mars mission actually occur?  I’m not really sure, but if you’re reading this, you’ll almost certainly be dead.  Does that sound harsh? Sorry.

The six will remain in lockup until November 2011 unless some sort of sci-fi type event occurs.

My basic knock on manned spaceflight regards the return on investment versus conventional (unmanned) space.  When a rational business model for manned space emerges, it will have a reasonable chance of success.  Until then, it won’t.  Space tourism is the current best chance for manned space and it will take some time before that capability evolves to interplanetary travel, if it ever does.

Some people think that going to the space station’s low-earth orbit is beneficial.  Beyond sustaining the space industrial base, it isn’t clear just how.  The space station and manned space itself looks a lot like a jobs program existing on its previous momentum, or alternatively, a program designed to placate space fans.

If you’re China and are desirous of the prestige associated with manned space flight that’s one thing.  After all, what are you going to spend all that cash on otherwise, human rights initiatives?  But if you are the U.S. with previous manned spaceflight success, low return on that success, and an onerous debt problem, manned spaceflight clearly falls into the ‘would like to do’ bin and not the ‘must do.’

This link closes with the estimate that a mission to Mars would cost $500 billion (likely w-a-y low) and NASA was recently plussed-up by…$6B.  Since there is no known compelling reason to have a manned mission to Mars, it will have to wait until conditions here on Earth have changed.

To those who are unimpressed with the fact the U.S. first performed a lunar-landing over 40 years ago, consider the following analogy: even if you could run a marathon in the era of free-love, can you run one today?

There may be a few out there who can, but I’m willing to bet there are very few.

While I’m not a big fan of manned space flight, it does serve one important purpose: to inspire.

Space exploration is rocket science and while there have been massive breakthroughs in bandwidth and computational power, there have been none in propulsion.  The way ahead will be for commercial providers like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic to carefully practice and refine their craft and perhaps to evolve to more capable methods of leaving the planet.