View Poll Results: Manned mission to Mars before 2020? Yes, with Gas Core Nuclear Reactor rockets (mission time: 8...9 months) 7 25.93% Yes, with chemical rockets (mission time: ~1000 days = ~2.7 years) 1 3.70% Yes, with some other rocket technology 3 11.11% No, impossible; missions to Moon were also faked 3 11.11% No, too dangerous and expensive 13 48.15% Voters: 27. You may not vote on this poll

# Manned Mars mission to Mars before 2020?

by Urvabara
Tags: mars manned mission
Mentor
P: 16,292
 Quote by redargon Like when NASA developed the space pen for astronauts to write in zero gravity conditions, costing time and money (I think the reported figure by most is $1mil, but this is such a convenient number, my guess it was a little less than this, but still) and everyone else just used a pencil. Right, because the space pen is the only technology that came out of the space program to civilian use.  Quote by redargon I love space and science and technology, but let's be reasonable. Let's use the cash to fix the problems here, on earth, first, before we start taking our problems elsewhere. I do think that advancements that we would make in performing such a mission could benfit mankind and earth, but would it really be in a reasonable ratio of time and money spent to benefit gained? I think 2020 is a little far fetched. I agree that 2020 is a silly timeframe, but do you honestly believe that the problems here on earth can be solved with cash? The "solve our problems first" idea is a concept that leads to complete paralysis, we will always have problems, so why do anything? I disagree fundamentally with that attitude. In large measure the progress made in the last couple of centuries has been driven by innovation. This would be a great source of innovation and would contribute more towards really fixing our problems than the same amount of money spent in redistribution of wealth programs.  Quote by redargon We know, from history, that people can colonise places (even harsh environments like deserts and the tundra). We also know that people can live in space for extended periods. What more is to be acheived by sending a man to mars? Again, I would vote for developing a self-sustaining moon colony, or even a self-sustaining space-station, over a simple visit to Mars. No environment on earth, even Antarctica, is nearly as harsh as space, and we don't even have self sustaining colonies on Antarctica. There is plenty to learn, and if we don't learn it then, sooner or later, the human race is dead. P: 348  Quote by DaleSpam Right, because the space pen is the only technology that came out of the space program to civilian use. I agree that 2020 is a silly timeframe, but do you honestly believe that the problems here on earth can be solved with cash? The "solve our problems first" idea is a concept that leads to complete paralysis, we will always have problems, so why do anything? I disagree fundamentally with that attitude. In large measure the progress made in the last couple of centuries has been driven by innovation. This would be a great source of innovation and would contribute more towards really fixing our problems than the same amount of money spent in redistribution of wealth programs. Again, I would vote for developing a self-sustaining moon colony, or even a self-sustaining space-station, over a simple visit to Mars. No environment on earth, even Antarctica, is nearly as harsh as space, and we don't even have self sustaining colonies on Antarctica. There is plenty to learn, and if we don't learn it then, sooner or later, the human race is dead. I'm not saying the space pen is the only technology to come from space research, I was mentioning one example. Sure it's a biased example, just thought it said something about the cost to benefit ratio of any project. I would be interested to find out what kind of cost to benifit ratio could be acheived by people living off-earth. Do you think the main benefits would further our ability to continue to live off-earth and/or also provide benefits for the people that are living here on earth at the moment? Of course, I mean major benefits, unlike my pen comment earlier I wonder if trying to make a self sustaining colony in the antarctic (seeing that we can't even do that yet, according to DaleSpam) or something similar (ok, like maybe a moon colony being it between antartica and mars in difficulty level) would be a more tentative first step than rushing straight of to mars. The lessons learned from this would also, assumably be beneficial. If we could perfect something like that I'm sure that would boost the populations confidence in more difficult and risky projects. Any reasons for mars in particular? Why not one of Jupiter's moons? (maybe too far?)  P: 100 Well, at least no one has voted for chemical rockets. Good, very good! Mentor P: 14,243  Quote by DaleSpam I would be much more interested in establishing a permanent self-sustaining colony on the moon than a simple manned visit to mars and return. Once we can do that reliably then we could make a one-way Mars trip. If that had been an option I would have voted for that -- except for the one-way trip part. We will need to return from Mars for quite some time before we are ready to colonize it. Quote by DaleSpam  Quote by D H Fred Brooks said it best: Just because it takes one woman nine months to have a baby does not mean that throwing eight more women onto the task reduces the time to create a baby down to one month. Oh, that's funny! The Mythical Man-Month by Fred Brooks is one of those must-read books for anyone involved in managing or planning a technology project. Another one-liner from the book is Brook's Law: "Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later." The artificial 2020 deadline in the poll makes this book very relevant to this thread.  Quote by redargon Like when NASA developed the space pen for astronauts to write in zero gravity conditions, costing time and money (I think the reported figure by most is$1mil, but this is such a convenient number, my guess it was a little less than this, but still) and everyone else just used a pencil.
The oft-quoted number is 1000 times that. Whatever the figure, the billion dollar space pen is used to denigrate NASA. But ooops, the billion dollar space pen is a false urban legend.

 Quote by redargon I love space and science and technology, but let's be reasonable. Let's use the cash to fix the problems here, on earth, first, before we start taking our problems elsewhere.
This is an oft-used argument against spending money on space. It is a recipe for paralysis.

This is a naive argument. Working on the long pole at the expense of all other tasks might work on a very small project. This strategy won't work on projects of any significant size because there are too many long poles. Projects of significant size must be partitioned into smaller projects and worked in parallel. The government as a whole is a project of gargantuan size. The government has to work on many things at once or nothing will get done.

It is curious that those who use this argument often preface it with "I love space and science and technology". Claiming to love something in the same sentence where the claimant advocating killing that something just doesn't jibe.

 Quote by Urvabara Then we have to wait forever. There will always be problems here on Earth. Why should we wait?
Yes, there will always be problems on Earth. I addressed that above. However, you have posed a false dilemma.

Just as the government as a whole is a gargantuan problem, so is sending humans to Mars. This too is a project that needs to be broken down into multiple pieces that are worked in parallel. One of the reasons for sending robotic probes to Mars is to serve as a precursor to a human visit. One of the reasons for returning to the Moon and staying there is to learn how to solve the logistics and radiation protection problems. Trying to do it all in one swell foop is a recipe for failure.

 Quote by redargon I think 2020 is a little far fetched.
That is true. This is not just a matter of political will. If that were the case we could solve the problem by throwing money at it. The 2020 deadline is technologically unachievable. There are many known unknowns that must be solved, and 12 years is too short Some of the known unknowns are getting there safely (we have a paltry 50% success rate or so with unmanned missions to Mars), logistics (a Mars mission will require many vehicles launching and docking at multiple places, often autonomously), radiation (15 months of transit time will expose the crew to deadly doses of radiation), staying on Mars (is Mars dust deadly?), leaving Mars (we have never made a vehicle return from Mars), .... These known unknowns are bad enough. With all of these known unknowns, there certainly are quite a few unknown unknowns lurking out there.

 Quote by Urvabara The journey to the Mars and back to the Earth could cost well under 50 billion US dollars and it would be spend in 10 years and among the whole world (NASA, ESA, RSA, JAXA, CNSA, etc).
That figure is off by a factor of two, and possibly ten, and the timeframe is off by a factor of two as well.

 Quote by Urvabara And how do we know when a supervolcano blows or huge meteor hits the Earth? It could well happen in our lifetime.
In that case we are f***ed because we will not be colonizing Mars for a long, long time.
 P: 151 Why bother with spending all the effort to get out of a gravity well to go down another. To heck with mars. Are there no asteroids worth mining? With remotes.
 P: 348 @ D H I think my approach to learning was a little wrong here. I've tried to clear it up, but people read what they want to and I will be labelled a naive, tree hugging hippy for the rest of this thread because I said that we should maybe fix some problems here first before we rush into another space mission. Some people even thought I was referring to the war in Iraq for some reason (there are other problems btw, energy crisis, hunger and disease, etc). Anyway, for those who read and contemplate entire posts... I do love science, technology and space (that's why I'm an aeronautical engineer and working for a company that supplies the ESA). If all I cared about was world peace I would have followed a different path. I know this would be a typical argument so I am suggesting it. Just because I love technology doe not mean that I will be ignorant enough to believe that technology is the only solution to everything. I am only posing questions from the "other side" to help me to understand the problem better. As I said before, I have not voted in the pole and have not taken a side in the debate. I am open to all the opinions and will use those to make a final decision for myself. I was unaware that the space pen was an urban legend (I knew it was embellished, but to what degree, I was not aware), but your link to that article cleared things up a little, are there more references like that? It just goes to show what you can learn by showing a little ignorance as long as you are willing to learn from your mistakes (I am) I actually used one of the space pens (it did write upside down and underwater if I remember correctly. I couldn't test it at 0g ) that was given to someone I know as a gift for a project he did with NASA. The article you sent didn't state the development costs of the pen, only a price per piece, maybe this could be clarified. As I also specified, I believed the $1mil price tag to have been embellished. I'm not a complete sucker for urban myths, but where there is muck there is brass (I recently read that in one of the PF member's signatures, I like it ) Instead of arguing who is right, maybe you can help my and other's understanding more if you explain some of the benefits that could possibly come from manned space missions, especially in terms of creating self sustaining colonies. Here are some that I can think of: - Developments in reducing energy requirements for generating motion, lighting, environmental control and appliances (such as computers, food preservers, cooking apparatus) during the design of a self sustainable colony/complex could easily be manipulated to cater for the same problems on earth. This could help the energy saving capabilities of everyday people doing everyday things on earth and for future space expeditions. - Possible medical (physical and psycological) discoveries from the interaction of people and how they would survive the tasks at hand during such a difficult project could be applied to people on earth in some situations. - Mining of minerals that maybe useful if transported back to earth. - Other experimentation that can only take place in low g conditions, vacuum conditions, outside of the earth's atmosphere or magnetic field etc. I think this is a constructive take on why or why not people should consider manned space missions. Sci Advisor PF Gold P: 2,234 I didn't choose an answer in the poll because the answers are all too biased. While a manned mission to Mars will happen some time in the future, it ceratinly won't happen by 2020, and most definitely will cost more than$50 billion. That's not to say it would be "too much," just commenting that it will be a very expensive edeavor.

Take for example, the costs adjusted for inflation of the Apollo program:
 Quote by Wikipedia.com According to Steve Garber, the NASA History website curator, the final cost of project Apollo was between $20 and$25.4 Billion in 1969 Dollars (or approximately $135 Billion in 2005 Dollars). [emphasis added] Considering the duration and required development for a manned mission to Mars, it doesn't seem too far fetched to guess that it could cost at very least triple that of the Apollo missions, approaching or surpassing$500 billion (in 2008 dollars, imagine what it will cost in 20 years. A couple trillion maybe...).
 Mentor P: 14,243 First off, I have not voted in the poll either. I rarely do so because this poll, like most other forum polls, is deeply flawed. I'm short on time. For now, try this article.
 P: 184 2020 seems to be way too optimistic. I spoke to guy in DC last weekend, and Ares I is set to go to the moon in 2009. If things go well, Ares V is scheduled for 2012. Things would have to go *really* well, to get a manned mission to mars by 2020, in my opinion.
Mentor
P: 14,243
 Quote by seycyrus I spoke to guy in DC last weekend, and Ares I is set to go to the moon in 2009. If things go well, Ares V is scheduled for 2012.
2009 to the moon? Not a chance.

Orion is planned to go with pad abort tests beginning later this year. Next year (2009) the project will start making ascent abort tests with the Ares I / Orion stack. The vehicle will not even get into orbit in 2009, let alone to the moon. The first Orion/ISS docking won't occur until 2014 or 2015. The first Ares V / Altair + Ares I / Orion lunar mission won't occur until 2020. Getting to Mars by 2020 is reminiscent of this simple math problem:
Points A and B are 30 miles apart. If I drive from A to B at an average speed of 30 mph, how fast must I drive from B back to A to make my average speed for the round trip 60 mph?
P: 184
 Quote by D H 2009 to the moon? Not a chance. Orion is planned to go with pad abort tests beginning later this year. Next year (2009) the project will start making ascent abort tests with the Ares I / Orion stack. The vehicle will not even get into orbit in 2009, let alone to the moon. ...
Hrmm, you seem to be pretty specific regarding the timeline, So I defer.

Incidently, the guy I spoke to was a Nasa rep. at the Nasa part of the folklore exhibition for the 4th of July expo.

Perhaps I misunderstood what he was saying.
 P: 100 Ok, ok. Let's try to do some research and calculations to solve (??) at least some of the problems. Here are the problems that I know of: 1. Radiation from the Sun 2. No gravity 3. Landing is extremly difficult 4. Micrometeros flying through the ship and killing the crew 5. Crew member(s) could need a surgery 6. Crew member(s) could get insane 7. Too long a mission Ok. Now I try to find at least something to solve these problems: 1. Let's put a 25 cm layer of water around the place where the crew will be most of the mission time. Let's also reduce the whole mission time to 270 days. According to this page the radiation dose should be as low as 0.22 Sv. Without the 25 cm water shield the dose could be 2.04 Sv, if the mission lasts 900 days. Polyethylene should also be a good radiation shield. Maybe astronauts' sleeping tubes/beds could be made of polyethylene. How about producing a magnetic field around the ship? It should also reduce the radiation. 2. Then we have to make some gravity. Rotating a centrifuge of radius of 10 meters with rotating speed of 6 RPM should produce an acceleration of 0.38 g. That's the surface gravity on Mars. The crew would get used to 0.38 g right from the beginning of the mission. I do not know if 0.38 g is enough to keep bones in a good shape, but at least it is better than 0 g! 6 RPM is pretty high, but according to this page even 7.5 RPM...10 RPM could be possible without major side effects. I just don't know how to get the centrifuge on LEO with Ares V. Can you help me with this? Centrifuge data: diameter: ~20 meters, width: ~4.5 meters, volume: ~1414 m$$^3$$. (That should be enough for a crew of eight.) 3. Landing with a parachute is dangerous. Maybe the crew could land with an automatic propulsion landing system. Yes, it would need more fuel than the parachute landing system, but it would be much safer. The landing vehicle could have wheels to that the crew could drive to the supplies! 4. Here is the neat part. The radiation shield also shields against micro meteors! If a micro meteor makes a hole to the wall then the radiation shield (the water!) will start to leak out of the wall and it would freeze instantly covering the hole and stopping the leak. Neat, very very neat! 5. Yes, they could need a surgery, but reducing the mission time from 3 years to <1 year will reduce the possibilty of surgery. Crew of 8 could include one or maybe even two surgeons. 6. In the centrifuge there should be own room for everybody. Of course, there will be thousands of books, magazines and movies in the ship. Showers and toilets could be far better than they are in ISS or Space Shuttle. Crew members could send videos to their families and backwards. Again, reducing the mission time will also reduce the possibility that someone goes insane. 7. Reducing the mission time from years to months would solve most of the problems. We MUST forget the chemical rockets! They are only good when getting the stuff from the Earth to LEO. We MUST consider using Nuclear Thermal Rockets and/or Ion Engines! Why aren't they now developing NTRs?! If the whole mission could be made in just 8 months that would solve almost all the problems! ESA is considering 1000 days mission to Mars. That's just ridiculous! 240 days should be enough. What is the problem with Gaseous Core Nuclear Reactors? Are people just too afraid of using nuclei!? Is it too expensive or what? We MUST start developing NTRs and Ion engines if we want to go Mars someday. BTW, is it possible/sensible to use two different engines at once? Maybe some kind of a combination of GCNR and Ion engine? The point is that we must go to Mars using a fast ship. We do not want to stay there 1.5 years waiting the planets to go to the right position. Just my two eurocents.
Mentor
P: 14,243
 Quote by Urvabara Here are the problems that I know of: 1. Radiation from the Sun 2. No gravity 3. Landing is extremly difficult 4. Micrometeros flying through the ship and killing the crew 5. Crew member(s) could need a surgery 6. Crew member(s) could get insane 7. Too long a mission
That's a start, but just a start. Add living on Mars, toxicity of Mars dust, toxicity of Martian life, toxicity of Earth life toxic (to Martian life), launching from Mars, coming back to Earth, landing on Earth (we've never done aerobraking/aerocapture with the Earth), and how to coordinate all of the flights needed (logistics) and you'll get a few more, and not a complete list at that. This does not include the unknown unknowns, and those are a bear to find. Oh, and don't forget the environmental movement.

I will only explicitly address one item. For the rest, all of your solutions require more power, more mass, and more volume. These are the three big no-nos in spaceflight.

 7. Reducing the mission time from years to months would solve most of the problems. We MUST forget the chemical rockets! They are only good when getting the stuff from the Earth to LEO. We MUST consider using Nuclear Thermal Rockets and/or Ion Engines! Why aren't they now developing NTRs?!
Because of the environmental movement, at least in part. Every single launch of a vehicle with RTGs (a mere 7.5 kg of non-weapons grade plutonium) is met with lawsuits and protests. Launching massive amounts of HEU will not only bring on the wrath of every environment movement worldwide, it will also attract some disreputable types who would like to get their hands on that material. Launching weapons-grade material into space might well be in violation of several space treaties. Just getting the material safely up to LEO is a huge problem. Then there is on orbit assembly of a nuclear rocket (no way it will be assembled on the ground). The logistics problem is huge. Need I go on?

Even if these problems could be overcome, it is not going to happen in the 12 years from now until 2020 (your deadline). The engines you want are at what NASA and the military call Technology Readiness Level 1. In short, they are paper concepts at the basic science level only. Getting to TRL 9 will not happen overnight. It will not happen within a decade. If you are very young, this technology might be ready before you die.
 P: 100 Electromagnetic shielding: http://www.islandone.org/Settlements/MagShield.html
 P: 100 Gas Core Nuclear Rockets: http://altairvi.blogspot.com/2008/03...e-nuclear.html "Ragsdale ended his article by calling for more gas-core engine research and development. He predicted that "Gas-core work will likely continue along its present line for the next year or two." By the time his article saw print, however, NASA had, at the insistence of the Nixon Administration, largely turned its back on nuclear propulsion. On January 24, 1972, while Ragsdale's article was still current, the Nixon White House unveiled its Fiscal Year 1973 NASA budget. It contained no funds for the NERVA solid-core nuclear-thermal rocket engine, which for 12 years had been the main focus of the U.S. nuclear rocket program. In 1974, NASA terminated all remaining U.S. nuclear rocket research."
 P: 100 Artificial Gravity: http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/rocket3u.html I just love the centrifuge of Discovery spacecraft in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The problem is that its radius is only 5.5 meters. How about 10 meters (diameter: 20 meters) centrifuge? Is it too big to get on LEO?
PF Gold
P: 2,234
I will try addressing a few of your ideas, but there's a lot to process here...

 Quote by Urvabara 1. Let's put a 25 cm layer of water around the place where the crew will be most of the mission time.
From what I understand, water is only good at shielding from neutrons and some other high-energy particles (due to its high Hydrogen content, same with polyethylene), but gamma rays and other high energy ionizing radiations pass right through. Basically, you've only adressed one small part of the shielding dilemma.

There is no technology available to produce a powerful magnetic field that can envelop an entire space ship, so "magnetic shielding" is not an option.

 Quote by Urvabara 2. Then we have to make some gravity. Rotating a centrifuge of radius of 10 meters with rotating speed of 6 RPM should produce an acceleration of 0.38 g. That's the surface gravity on Mars.
Sounds like a very uncomfortable ride. At a radius of 10m and 6rpm, the coriolis accelerations would be very obvious to the crew members when they were in it, causing pretty bad nausea and disorientation. Wikipedia has a good article on artificial gravity where rotating spacecraft are discussed. The article states that rotational speeds of less that 2rpm need to be used to minimize the coriolis forces present. Sounds like you'll need a much large radius of rotation to still achieve Martian-G, let alone Earth-G.

 Quote by Urvabara 3. Landing with a parachute is dangerous. Maybe the crew could land with an automatic propulsion landing system. Yes, it would need more fuel than the parachute landing system, but it would be much safer.
Actually, from what I understand parachute landings are safer and less prone to failure than powered decelerations/landings. Carrying fuel for deceleration and landing is a huge waste when you have an atmosphere at your disposal.

 Quote by Urvabara 4. Here is the neat part. The radiation shield also shields against micro meteors! If a micro meteor makes a hole to the wall then the radiation shield (the water!) will start to leak out of the wall and it would freeze instantly covering the hole and stopping the leak. Neat, very very neat!
I dont' think 25cm of water will provide much resistance to micrometeroites travelleing at several km/s. Also, as soon as the water is exposed to the vacuum it will sublime away, not form an ice "plug." If the water radiation shield is breached, all of the water will eventually sublime/boil off and vent into space.
 P: 100 http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/rocket3u.html "However, the data on artificial gravity is a bit out of date. The original research into it had subjects sick at 3 RPM and incapacitated at 6 RPM+. However, more recent research suggests that, by using incremental increases in rotation and making a few limb movements, adaptation can occur with almost no feelings of nausea. The old research (done on about 30 subjects) simply went from zero to full rotation. Moreover, the adaptation can be simultaneous with non- rotational adaptation. So, moving in and out of the rotating habitat for maintenance or whatever is no problem. It's thought that rotation rates of up 7.5 to 10 RPM are possible. This makes Discovery's 5.5m radius centrifuge a real possibility. In fact, with 10 RPM, you could crank it up to a handsome 0.61 G, or 0.34G if you want to play it safe at 7.5RPM."

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