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So what is holding us?

After going through all those answers and comments, based on actual technological capabilities and the will to do it, what, putting politics to the side, is holding us to go forwards?


Submitted by 2 years ago

Comments (19)

  1. Two things (one linked to politics) hold us at this point: end-use-ready equipment and money.

    In order to get to Mars on a manned mission, at minimum you need multiple launches with heavy-lift vehicles- whether you decide on on-orbit or surface rendezvous. There's a lot of variability as far as what the actual launch necessities are, but the problems come up when you look at heavy launch capabilities worldwide: we simply don't have the launch systems active that can do it. So you've got to build a heavy lift booster that's man-flight rated (there are incredibly reliable, long-lived systems that aren't man-rated, look at the Atlas V), which costs a ton of money. Then you have the equipment that will actually go to Mars: we've never built anything like that before, although the Mars Society has made a mock-up of one idea and done feasibility testing for people actually living in the mock-up. Then there's site selection, crew selection... All of these take years, and until the hardware's in place, even if you've got the landing location and crew pinned down, the crew can't begin training until the hardware's ready for many parts of the mission. Remember the way Mercury-Gemini-Apollo worked: many of the commanders for the Apollo moon missions had started in Mercury or early Gemini for training on spacecraft systems, and had been to space multiple times. Similar ramp-up will be needed for the astronauts, but NEO isn't a great place for training them so the 1:1 applicibaility of the training won't happen.

    Second is the financial problem: best-case, you're talking about billions of dollars, and some estimates are in the hundreds of billions. People often overlook that this money is paying the workers on Earth, and the money stays here, helping the economy. Unfortunately, the people that don't pay attention to that are the ones that are in charge of the money these days. It comes down to politics, but it's more of a proto-political issue: the issue generates the politics.

    2 years ago
  2. rui.rosenthal Idea Submitter

    I have to agree with you that there are a lot of "martianics" building up ideas that are not grounded!! also that the amount of money evolved with such a program is huge. I know how the lunar process went on and all the steps given to get to it. Look to the progress we got by getting there!! And I have the impression something in your comment is missing. For example you mention Atlas V... I know it still not ready, but beginning next year the Heavy Falcon will be tested and I am absolutely sure, based on Falcon itself that it will be a success and much stronger than Atlas V. I also understand that we are still brainstorming how to live there and what to eat!! But we are giving big steps in this direction. So if we get a little bit more "commercial looking" and getting private companies that want to do mineral exploration in Mars... I think they would be interested.. and they have money!! and so on... is only to look to a brighter horizon!! Yes.. my english is not so good and I made a mess up there, but I am always looking to the future and I have the impression we are much near to get there than we think!!

    2 years ago
    1. The Atlas V is a great vehicle, but it's still not going to be big enough (most likely). We need something along the lines of Saturn V/Energia-B to be able to have a solid mission: more experiments, more exploration, more weight. Unfortunately, Saturn's been retired for so long we'd have to reverse-engineer it (we don't even have the dies anymore), and Energia had... issues. That's why it never left flight test. Heavy Falcon is in the same class (if I'm remembering correctly) as Atlas: good for most things we need, and we may be able to make it work, but the other pieces (Crew Dragon, the Mars hab Dragon variant, etc.) are all in the early stages. All of these have to go through flight test and manned flight checkout before launch, and that takes time and money- and lots and lots of both.

      Honestly, your English doesn't bother me. Neither do the objections you point out. As you said... the "martianics" are multiplying. (BTW, you come up with that, your English is as good as it needs to be).

      2 years ago
  3. I think whats holding Nasa to go forward is everything they put into it thus far. The space program was started with space explortion as it's forefront. We chose to do these things because their not easy, which is part of the Industrial revoluation which pushes us forward an onward to Mars-Juptiter- and beyond the Kuiperbelt :) thanks (spacefriend)

    2 years ago
  4. rui.rosenthal Idea Submitter

    All that work that is in front of us, bring to one conclusion... we have to bring more private companies to work on it.. incentive and good ideas normally come when you need to pick up a piece o gold in the horizon!!

    >>Good Jewish thinking!!

    2 years ago
    1. One of the huge things that NASA, ESA, and Roscosmos have to deal with is that even if they're completely clear that they're just giving a helping hand to private companies with research facilities and startup costs, their name is on the label as well, so the failures of these companies could easily get the space agencies smeared with the same brush. Considering how little support they're able to drum up as it is, it makes sense why NASA is so cautious about things like CCDEV.

      On the other hand, you're completely right that we need more companies working on the problems that confront us, hence why NASA and ESA are both being aggressive about bringing in private companies for new roles.

      2 years ago
    2. I never thought of it in that sense, Seems like there's a comment here that Nasa should get aggresive with public relation and Support.

      Having More people commited to the mission should get you more support. Taking one project from one University will get you that ONE Universities Support, Taking 1 from every state will get you 50!

      Same as the one Comment here having a contest with students involvement and putting something on Mars from their School, You'll get the support of that ONE school, but choose 1 school from each state will get you 50. Having Spaceone making every peice that goes to Mars gets you the support of that ONE company, makes sense to get other companies ivolved also. thanks (spacefriend)

      2 years ago
  5. rui.rosenthal Idea Submitter

    Hey guys... one thing: is somebody, some decision maker or some top from Nasa or any space company reading what we are writing here or are we just throwing ideas to the wind? I am only using a bit of logic here but I don't really understand of all this space travelling or so... but it would be nice to know that the correct people are looking a bit into this, cause I see that a lot of good (i think so )ideas are coming out here!!

    I see for example that hiddenfootsteps has a good vision of the stuff and the other guys have a much better idea then me!!!

    So go on... lets put fire here, but also take care that the correct people is seeing the fire going up!!

    2 years ago
    1. I doubt that it's someone high up in the food chain on the technical side. I'm guessing it's someone in PR that's got this project. At the same time, I know that NASA generally does try to do things like this for two reasons: first, it's a good brainstorming technique for them, and second, it gives them an idea about what people are interested in and the average education level of the people that are interested (unfortunately, some of the posts on here are massively counterproductive that way, but that's the way the Internet goes).

      Honestly, other than the out-there, sci-fi based craziness (antigravity generators, space elevators, etc.) I haven't seen anything that NASA itself hasn't looked at yet. So I'm guessing it's more of a "what can we find support for when we try and get to Mars" kind of thing.

      2 years ago
  6. Falcon Heavy will be twice more powerful than Atlas V.

    2 years ago
    1. Yes, and this is a step in the right direction. However, you're still looking at a huge difference in payload capacity.

      Depending on the variant of the Falcon Heavy you're talking about (remember, this is a modular design... you can add or subtract engines, you just have to work out the engineering practicalities to do so) you're talking anywhere from 80-140 tons of payload. The higher the payload, though, the more engines and the more complexity. So, the initial ones are going to have to be on the low end, which falls short of the Saturn V's 130 tons. In addition, the more complex, the harder it is to get the vehicle certified to Human Ratings Standards, which is a very costly endeavor. So, they'll start small and ramp up to the point that it's no longer practical. How long that will last noone knows. We'll see when they're flying.

      The Saturn V was good enough to get us to the Moon for three days. I'm not saying that our technology isn't much better and lighter than the Apollo astronauts had available, but this is also a much longer trip, and none of the hardware's been built yet. Ask anyone that's done aerospace design and they'll tell you the mass ALWAYS is more than originally planned (just like the budget), so you need wiggle room.

      I'm looking forward to the Heavy, but I'm not going to treat it like a silver bullet. There's no such thing in spaceflight.

      2 years ago
  7. One more thing to look into is your workforce. Those in the office now maynot be there in 2030. We'll have to look at college grads today that will still be around come then. As has been said before, need schools involved in this. thanks (spacefriend)

    2 years ago
  8. rui.rosenthal Idea Submitter

    That should something to introduce in the curriculum of Junior High on... If you don't get in touch with this material soon enough, you will not be prepared with the basis on Phiscs and Maths for put this forward!!

    2 years ago
  9. rui.rosenthal Idea Submitter

    About the comparisson between heavy rockets beeing searched on I thingt we could get some feed back from the envolved companies, also referring to the equipment to get to Mars, cause I already heard about SpaceX developing a "bigger" Dragon!! And I thing Biggellow is alo working in satelites that could be a something before entering Mars Atmosphere, a pre arrival or some kind of station after the long trip and before getting to Mars surface.

    2 years ago
  10. MDT

    What holds us back is also the motivation and incentives to go to Mars. For now is mostly science, pride and curiosity. Financially not so much.

    Yes. There are new private space company that are developing new rockets and spaceships only hoping that someone will pay for them eventually, get some partnership grants with NASA, etc. In other words ROI. The people that own or works for those companies are visionaries no doubt and ideally will spend any amount to have those dreams come trough hopefully in their lifetime but does it worth the money at the end of the day?

    Investors will rather spend 1 billion to build a new casino than a new rocket, why? You already know the answer - ROI.

    Possible ways of and increasing incentive:

    1. Find some high demand resources on Mars that could practically be mined for a profit;

    2, Exotic vacations;

    3. Extreme global worming, ice age, overpopulation, depletion of resources or any combination of other similar extreme crises threatening humanity;

    4. Imminent Earth destruction in near future that could not be avoided;

    5. Reach the point in our global conscience as a sentient species that the only way to survive in the future is to start spreading outside our solar system and that is our main goal and purpose so human life can go on.

    May not be the best ideas and I'm totally open to critics. I know how number 5 sounds but right now very few people think about that, if ever in they life, to make a difference.

    From a technological perspective we are not quite ready from many aspects regardless of the many improvements done in the past 50 years. Some say if you cant get there fast enough stay home until you get a car or at least a bicycle with a decent size basket for enough sandwiches and water - figurative speaking of course. We are still in the early stages by far. Compared with our imagination (read Sci-Fi) we will be crawling to Mars wearing lead boots.

    Me? I'll start walking right now.

    2 years ago
    1. rui.rosenthal Idea Submitter

      Hi MDT, I like your comment, but I think that 2,3 and 4 could be possible but, in my knowledge and way of viewing things, are far from the point.

      1 and 5 are the real motivation that we should focus, because of the fact that, although we don't know (perhaps the NASA guys do) what is really waiting for us there. I know that the US will never reveal 100% of what they are finding in Mars, through the rovers, because this is strategic stuff, but I can put my right hand on fire that it is valuable!!

      And this makes number 1 the principal reason to get there as soon as possible and start to work on it.

      I don't believe in ET live, but I believe that all this stuff outside there is to be explored and to us to get the results of doing it.

      I love Sci-Fi and don't forget that less then 100 years before the first A-sub came out Jules Verne already wrote about it!!

      Have a nice week!!

      2 years ago
  11. I think those are most of the incentives that are being debated now to help with budjeting. Not sure if those will get you the 100 billion+ needed for the right stuff. Thats a lot of GOLD to match that, Asteroids are figured to be worth trillions if mined but haven't seen any figures for MARS, that and some Asteroids get close to Earth so wont have to travel far to mine them. But Nasa has more recent studies on Mars with the rovers and orbitors does make Mars an option. Letting private companies go to the MOON could help cut the cost for NASA to get to Mars, that would be a plus. Im not sure about ET but with Sci-Fi, It makes me wonder. One thing we might do is Look at where we've been, have in sight of where it is we're going and have a plan. Thanks (Spacefriend)

    2 years ago
    1. MDT

      The asteroids are a much attractive source for resources for private companies. Also easier to safely bring them closer to earth by attaching an engine to them and slowly alter the orbit. That should lower the cost on transportation.

      In the long run it will be better cost effective and easier (imho) building on a stable surface with low gravity than in space. The Moon or Mars has also resources and gravity that is important for almost every aspect of row material processing and manufacturing. Without some decent gravity we have to invent new ways for most of those processes. Mars has better gravity that the Moon but it is farther away. I'll leave the choice to the private companies to pick the better place to expand. Either way is progress and a win for human race.

      2 years ago
  12. MDT

    Hi Rui,

    I hope 3 and 4 will never comes to pass. Especially 4.

    Now 3 will be hard to avoid with the current trend regardless of the progress made in the last few decades. Lots of talking and not much done. The inertia is too big and with all the anti global warming campaigns ... you get the point.

    I agree with you, 1 should be the main reason and I hope will be. The way I see it Earth should be left alone to remain a paradise for life where humans live in balance with nature. Use the asteroids, the Moon and Mars for resources and industry with all the pollution and left over.

    With Mars I will be more cautious with pollution for two reasons. Future generations will call it home for sure and we may find life soon. I do believe we will for the simple fact that we did found life so far in every hostile environment we look. Life is very resilient and we only begin to understand how it works and most importantly why. And that is only the carbon based life. Even if we find some life on Mars will most probably be underground micro organisms. I also don't see human race taking over every inch of the planet really fast. It will probably be small outposts with cramped quarters for scientists and industrial workers. Over time those will grow to bigger communities for families and other infrastructures needs but will be as small as possible due to the main problem - hostile environment for live as we know it on Earth. We have to keep everything inside walls and will be expensive and prohibitive to waste space.

    For the last motivation point I mentioned before, though I would like very much to happen, I have some reservations. It will take many future generations and steps in human civilization to achieve it peacefully but looking into our past only a really major event may be able trigger it. The size of the ones that started new religions and new beginnings.

    2 years ago

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