# Aerospace Manned Mars mission to Mars before 2020?

## Manned mission to Mars before 2020?

26.9%

3.8%

11.5%

11.5%

46.2%
1. Jul 6, 2008

### Urvabara

Should there be a world wide joint manned mission to Mars (including landing to the planet) before 2020?

If Yes, then also sign the Petition.

2. Jul 6, 2008

### Staff: Mentor

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.

However, neither is going to happen by 2020, there is no political will to do either.

3. Jul 6, 2008

### Integral

Staff Emeritus
I voted no, not because it is to dangerous, but because it is to expensive for no real returns. The sole puropose of any manned mission is simply to keep the man alive. Science takes a backseat.

4. Jul 6, 2008

### Urvabara

I think the key issue is the rocket technology. Chemical rockets are too slow and they need too much fuel. Gas Core Nuclear Reactor is the answer. Nuclear thermal rockets were studied in the NERVA program in the 1960s.

Shortening the mission time makes everything easier. GCNR also permits better radiation shields without the need to reduce science payload.

5. Jul 6, 2008

### brewnog

Too expensive, and not much point sending a man (and all the accompanying life support systems) when machines (pound for pound) do a much better job anyway.

6. Jul 6, 2008

### Staff: Mentor

Why does one conclude GCNR is the answer? No one has perfected a GCNR! It would take about 10-15 years of development and testing - and that can't be done on earth. I believe the shielding requirements for GCNR are somewhat greater in volume than for NTR, since the mass density (power density) of the GCNR is much less than NTR and therefore requires more volume and has less self-shielding for a given power level.

NTR is tested, but not perfected.

It might be feasible to send support infrastructure (an orbital station like Skylab (but larger) or ISS) to Mars by 2020.

It is certainly very expensive, but the priorities on Earth seems to be making 'stuff', entertainment, treating preventable illnesses and waging war. Planetary missions require a more advanced civilization.

7. Jul 6, 2008

### Urvabara

http://internet.cybermesa.com/~mrpbar/rocket.html
"The GCNR is a concept which was also experimentally investigated in the 1960s during the Rover program. The idea is to use a gaseous nuclear fuel instead of the solid graphite core used in NERVA. A gaseous fuel could attain tempertures of several tens of thousands of degrees which would allow specific impulses of 3000 to 5000 seconds to be considered. Such an engine would allow manned missions to Mars to be accomplished in a few months each way. Currently, research into the GCNR concept is underway at the Los Alamos National Laboratory under a program from the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center."

8. Jul 6, 2008

### Urvabara

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_thermal_rocket
"The NERVA/Rover project was eventually cancelled in 1972 with the general wind-down of NASA in the post-Apollo era. Without a manned mission to Mars, the need for a nuclear thermal rocket was unclear. To a lesser extent it was becoming clear that there could be intense public outcry against any attempt to use a nuclear engine."

9. Jul 6, 2008

### Urvabara

10. Jul 6, 2008

### Staff: Mentor

Sadly, this outlook is all too prevalent. The truth is that the technology spawned from such an endeavor would have wide-ranging benefits in many fields far beyond the narrow confines of accomplishing the mission. For example, look at the technology derived from the Apollo program.

This unfortunate misconception is the primary reason why there is no political will to do it.

11. Jul 6, 2008

### Redbelly98

Staff Emeritus
My objections to such a mission, even if the technical obstacles can be overcome, are (1) the existance of a cheaper alternative (robots/rovers) and (2) just what is the payback for doing this with live people?

12. Jul 7, 2008

### Staff: Mentor

I know Howe, who is now at the Center for Space Nuclear Research, Idaho Falls, ID, and others at NASA. The pages cited go back to 1988 and 1998, and to my knowledge, there is no active development program for GNCR at NASA or LANL, but I'll check. AFAIK, it's all on paper. Howe has been way out there with regard to advanced propulsion concepts.

FYI, http://www.csnr.usra.edu/CSNR_Director.html

http://www.csnr.usra.edu/CSNR_Homepage.html

http://anst.ans.org/ (comments on the site would be greatly appreciated, particularly recommendations for improvement)

13. Jul 7, 2008

### D H

Staff Emeritus
Notwithstanding an order of magnitude increase in the combined space budgets of all space-faring nations, the technical obstacles to a human mission to Mars by 2020 are insurmountable. Attempting to accomplish a task in too little time costs a lot of money, a lot more than doing the same job at a more appropriate pace. Attempting to accomplish a task in far too little time increases the chance of failure and costs an immense amount of money. Simply put, twelve years is not enough time. 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.

==========================================================

Regarding item (1): This is a favorite objection of the anti-human spaceflight crowd. The rationale for robotic space exploration becomes vastly weakened without the added incentive that humans will someday go "out there". Only a small handful of nations have a space science budget that could be deemed "significant", and all of these nations are involved with human spaceflight in some form.

Two decades ago, the pro space science / anti-human spaceflight crowd in Great Britain managed to convince the British government to explicitly ban any support for human spaceflight from that nation's budget. Things didn't work out as the pro space science crowd expended. The monies that Great Britain's had expended on human spaceflight did not go to space science. Those monies went elsewhere, and so did a good chunk of that nation's space science budget. The space scientists had a lot less money after they succeeded in getting the government to zero-out support for human spaceflight.

Regarding item (2): Good point. The expenditure for such a venture will be very high, even if done on a more appropriate time scale. A dang good rationale needs to exist. The Space Review has addressed the rationale issue more than once, and did so just last week in this article.

14. Jul 7, 2008

### Staff: Mentor

:rofl: Oh, that's funny!

15. Jul 8, 2008

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. 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. 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? 16. Jul 8, 2008 ### Urvabara Then we have to wait forever. There will always be problems here on Earth. Why should we wait? What is acheived by making wars and killing people? Nothing. The war of Iraq has cost almost 535 billion ($534,964,835,651) US dollars by now. And the results? Tens of thousands of people has lost their lives.

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's not too much.

And how do we know when a supervolcano blows or huge meteor hits the Earth? It could well happen in our lifetime. If we wait 30 years before we even visit the Mars and then some 30 more years before we have the technology to transfer thousands of people to Mars, it could be too long. The Earth may have been already destroyed and all the humans with it...

17. Jul 8, 2008

### Staff: Mentor

I'm not sure where you get that figure. It is probably an order of magnitude low, and the timeframe is also way too low:

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/119/1

18. Jul 8, 2008

### redargon

I'm not sure how you got from my argument to the war in Iraq? By colonisation I meant finding, cultivating and colonising uninhabited land (like mars, hopefully ) If there is a link, then how does a manned mars mission make any difference to the war in Iraq? Perhaps a mars mission will use up some of the US budget so that their money will be used for advancement and not war, but other than that I still don't see your connection.

I agree that a catastrophic disaster could make our entire species extinct, but that borders on the realm of a philosophical nature. A catastrophe has the same chance happening tomorrow as it does happening in 10 years or in the next 100. There hasn't been a cataclysm that has destroyed an entire species in millions of years, why should we be counting in decades now? Do you think the human race should live forever? Could this be acheived by sending thousands of people to Mars instead of letting them die here? What stops a meteor from hitting and destroying any future life on mars? Why not build a travelling metropolis in space and send it hurtling through the cosmos with thousands of people on board?

Answering your first question, we don't have to wait to explore the options, but why rush into something that could result in failure just because somebody says: "2020, that sounds like a good date, yeah, let's go for 2020" Why not 2025 or 2050 or 2300?

I think I posed too many questions to be helpful, sorry. It is a great concept to think about though and that always generates questions. Also note that I did not vote in the poll, because I am unsure and am looking forward to basing my decision on what I learn here from other people's opinions.

Last edited: Jul 8, 2008
19. Jul 8, 2008

### Staff: Mentor

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.

20. Jul 8, 2008

### redargon

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 :tongue:

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?)