Monday, May 18, 2009

Moon vs. Mars - Destination First?

As per a few recent discussions I've been involved in, I have decided to chime in on this very important subject. As far as where we should go first, there are those who are 100% Moon and there are those who are 100% Mars.

Time will tell which is the better idea, Moon first or Mars. I for one prefer the Moon first, Mars second approach. By establishing a solid foothold on the Moon we will learn so much more about what would be necessary for going to Mars. I would rather KNOW than ASSUME when it comes to a trip of that magnitude.

Also, Mars requires WAY too much money right now to accomplish. We can't even afford LEO with the way Congress shoves money in all manner of stupid directions. You can have your ideology all you want, and I can have mine, but right now it all boils down to cash and international cooperation, neither of which are at the pinnacle of stability right now.

The current U.S. Administration is obviously more fixed on social construction and governmental power grabbing than space. The international world is more concerned with keeping their heads above water (financially) than space. Specific sectors of the world are more concerned with using their resources for destructive purposes than space.

I am on a mission to change as much of that as possible, but only through baby steps can that happen. Going to Mars is a "pie in the sky" aspiration right now, period. Good luck selling that snake oil to anyone in today's climate. At least the Moon, as inferior as some may consider it for a destination, is more local and directly attainable financially.

As far as how we can get there and STAY there, I do love the Nuclear Rocket angle. I have said many times before that if it wasn't for the eco-fascist hippie green bastards, we'd have already been to Mars and had a strong presence on the Moon. Nuclear technology, rockets and power plants, would have made it possible, and until a more exotic and efficient power/propulsion system is developed, I say GO NUKE!


Shanksow said...

I agree. The moon is the perfect proving ground to test things out and if they fail, help is only 3 days away instead of 6 months. Ditto too for the nuclear rockets.

To open up the rest of the solar system, we will need nuclear propulsion for our manned spacecraft.

yossariansmith said...

Damn those eco-nazis, with their not wanting to have hundreds and hundreds of people die of cancer unnecessarily! Actually, i'm in favour of nuclear space propulsion, if it works and is better than the chemical kind, but it should probably be launched from Antarctica, where the fallout won't do anything.

Also, please note that there are two kinds of environmentalists: the hippie luddite kind, and the ones worried that we're shitting in our own bed and jeopardising our future welfare. Only the first kind would be opposed to eg. strip-mining the Moon, and do not deserve our patience. The second kind, on the other hand, tends to be right.

Marcel F. Williams said...

We need a base on the Moon. A lunar facility will tells us if the human body can adjust to a 1/6 hypogravity environment without the deleterious effects that we've seen in the microgravity environments on board Skylab and the ISS.

NASA needs to abandon the Constellation sortie program and instead utilize the Ares V or Shuttle C for moon base program.

And before we even think about going to Mars, we should target the moons of Mars first in order to exploit the potential volatiles there that could potentially make the a lunar base or lunar colony completely independent of the Earth's resources.

And the best way to get to Mars, IMO, is through extraterrestrially manufactured Drexler type lightsails that can hall hundreds or even thousands of tonnes relatively rapidly through interplanetary space.

Rebekah Lou Taylor said...

I believe going to the Moon first and then reaching out farther into our solar system is the wisest move. We need to take small steps not leaps. In time they will come.

Douglas Mallette said...

Thanks for the comments my friends.

yossariansmith - Orbital Mechanics 101, if you want more bang for your buck, let the Earth help by throwing you in the right direction with the most speed. The reason why we launch east and as close to the equator as possible is because we're already going that direction and at between 700 and 1,000 mph due to the Earth's spin, based on Latitude.

We don't launch from Antarctica because that's stupid. You lose all that natural momentum and therefore you have to burn more fuel to reach the same orbital velocity. This is also why retrograde orbital insertions are so infrequent and why most orbits go in the same direction as the Earth.

As far as "destroying the planet" is concerned. The planet is fine. It is we who are bitching because the things we've done adversely affect US, not the planet. Such selfish creatures are we.

Mother Earth has withstood asteroid bombardment, noxious gases in the atmosphere, volcanoes erupting throughout her surface, violent solar cycles, magnetic field shifting (leaving her ultimately vulnerable to radiation), and more. Yet she's still here, spinning as elegantly as a ballet dancer on a galactic stage.

The Earth is not sick, she's pregnant, and needs to birth us to the stars.

데이빛 / Mithridates said...

I've been thinking recently that our problem may not be the destination, but rather simply the fact that we don't have enough people in space at the same time to create an interesting enough dynamic for the average person to want to follow. If you think about successful science fiction shows, the thing they all have in common is that human interaction and character development are the most interesting, and all the tech and exploration and the rest comes after that. I'm starting to think that the only thing we need are 1) a few dozen people up in space at the same time, and 2) these people should be colourful enough that it's interesting to follow what they do every day. One person needs to be egotistical, another one kind of isolated, there should be a bit of romantic tension between some others, and so on. Once this community forms and even the average person has an interest in following it as it develops (regardless of what their actual mission is) it will turn into something that just can't be duplicated elsewhere, and thus worth keeping around no matter what the scientific return is.

Here's a longer writeup of mine on the same point:

So I'm wondering if the solution isn't just to give Bigelow Aerospace a ton of money.

Douglas Mallette said...

Mithridates - So basically you're advocating "Realty TV" for the space station, or any space platform. I'm game for that, as long as it's completely unrated and shows everything. Not to be "dirty" about it, but if you aren't exposed to all aspects of space, then you don't get the full picture, or really appreciate what one has to do to make it in space.

Popcorn said...

Mars is a dead end, it would just be a publicity stunt to entertain the masses, then after one mission theyd get bored go back to watching American Idol and the space program would get hacked to death. After that wed be lucky to get stuck in LEO for 40 years......lets go to the moon, for good this time!

Douglas Mallette said...

Popcorn - I'll buy that. There is no immediate return for Mars, yet. Unless we develop propulsion systems to make the one way trip a month, instead of 6 to 8 months, then there isn't much "quick profit return" for it. Space needs to become a viable market for the private industry to take a hold of it, and governments are too screwed up to really get us further than we are now.

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Anonymous said...

You can develop and test nuclear rockets and the other hardware for going to Mars on an actual Mars trip without having a human presence on board - so no risk. A robotically controlled mission is the logical way to test out all this high risk new hardware on a long trip without exposing any human being to risk.