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Category: Newsroom

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7 Responses to Linkluster 1^3 + 2^3 + 3^3 + 4^3 + 5^3

  1. mike shupp says:

    Promising to send people to Mars is a scam or at best a prank. You’ll notice there aren’t thousands of accepted future astronauts as yet, or even thousands of official applications (complete with processing fee) — there are instead thousands of people saying “Tell me more.”

    Which is fine, and I gotta admit I was really touched when Valentina Tereshkova, 50 years after her flight into space, popped up as one of the potential applicants. I suspect a lot of those people expressing interest in Mars flights aren’t seeing themselves as serious contenders, but are doing something to establish rhat spaceflight matters to them, or that they aren’t as dead and useless as the people in the next apartment, etc. So far this strikes me as people with GOOD mental health, rather than bad, I’m trying to say.

    That said, there have been simulations of Mars flights and Mars expeditions over the years. The Russians just finished off a 500-day isolation experiment involving half a dozen ersatz cosmonauts this past year. And there are annual, or almost annual, Planetary Society “expeditions” to a Martian colony simulator in northern Canada. and counterpart Mars Society activities in California, much of which is aimed at studying (or provoking) human behavior in isolation.

    So we know a bit about what Martian colony life would be like. What we don’t know is how to get any sizable number of people there alive for any reasonable cost in any reasonable time period, how to extract breathable air from the Martian atmosphere routinely and cheaply and dependably, how to feed people and process their wastes and give them a healthy diet, how to process the soils and rocks to extract metals and chemicals materials for plastics and clothes and building materials and fuel for vehicles and so on. And a batch of related stuff.

    You’ll probably be greatly relieved as a taxpayer to know that NASA basically doesn’t study this kind of thing, that ESA and the Russians and the Chinese and the Japanese and on down the line also don’t study this stuff, and that the people who do talk about colonies and “in situ resource utilization” generally do so only after quitting NASA, ESA, etc. Be reassured — your government does not want another Apollo program!

    Which no one at all would have predicted 50 years ago. The 21st Century really is different.

    • trumwill says:

      Honestly, at least a part of me is saddened that NASA isn’t studying this. This is an area where I guess I am less conservative/libertarian than many others. Not that I don’t think NASA was due for an overhaul and not that I am not excited about what the private sector might have up its sleeve, but studying feasibility of such thing strikes me as comparatively little money potentially going along way. (I feel that way about science research more generally.)

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