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Mars in 2018? 
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post Mars in 2018?
Dennis Tito plans a manned Mars mission within 5 years.

Can he do it?


Sat Feb 23, 2013 4:49 pm
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PITA Bred
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Post Re: Mars in 2018?
Yeah, and maybe monkeys will fly outta my butt.

Five years isn't enough time to get a working craft together and into orbital tests, let alone ready for a 4-year journey.


Sat Feb 23, 2013 5:26 pm
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Post Re: Mars in 2018?
You're the space expert. You tell us.

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Sun Feb 24, 2013 10:34 pm
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post Re: Mars in 2018?
I'm no expert. My Monday morning quarterbacking says No Way, which is a pity, since I think Tito is a stand-up guy. But the main issue here is that the funding does not exist. If there was a couple of billion available - if Google wanted to carve their next doodle on Mars - then it might become more interesting. I don't believe that the technological issues have to take decades and trillions of dollars to solve just because that's the NASA way. The DC-X and Space-X have shown a different model.

I think the main problem here is that there's just nothing appealing about Mars. No indigenous life to exploit/chat with, no homesteading of any reasonable quality, no fields of diamonds to be plucked. It's a cold dry rock that sucks the life out of you and gets you no closer to anything better. If it was Earth-like we'd have had condos there forty years ago.


Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:50 pm
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Post Re: Mars in 2018?
I've discussed this topic dozens of times with my colleagues at NASA. As you state, there are existing engineering technologies that would enable a manned mission to Mars in fairly short order, if funding and political will were not obstacles. There remains, however, one technological barrier that has yet to be solved - how to adequately shield the astronauts from radiation, which is higher in interplanetary space than in Earth orbit, for the months required to transit from Earth to Mars. The problem is that conventional shielding methods add too much weight to the spacecraft. If astronauts were to attempt the transit without adequate radiation shielding, there's a good chance they'll arrive dead on delivery.

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Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:38 am
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Post Re: Mars in 2018?
JackKelly wrote:
There remains, however, one technological barrier that has yet to be solved - how to adequately shield the astronauts from radiation, which is higher in interplanetary space than in Earth orbit, for the months required to transit from Earth to Mars.

Mary Roach's book, Packing for Mars, has a good discussion of creative solutions to that problem, including carrying the water for the mission in the walls of the spacecraft. Not much help for the return, granted, but pretty effective for the trip out, or so she claims.

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Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:35 am
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Post Re: Mars in 2018?
Found more details. He doesn't plan to land, only swing by Mars, taking advantage of a rare alignment that allows an 18 month round trip, half the usual.

That not landing bit is certainly helpful. Still no word on the radiation solution.


Sat Mar 02, 2013 3:09 am
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Post Re: Mars in 2018?
Isn't the weight problem about boosting from earth. What about building the shielding in free fall like our friend Mr. Heinlein suggested? Materials sent in sections with other supplies maybe. Why is the shielding so heavy, because it's lead?

Probably a good reason, and I feel confident I will soon hear it.

Charlene


Wed Mar 06, 2013 2:04 pm
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Post Re: Mars in 2018?
Yes I know mass is mass.


Wed Mar 06, 2013 7:16 pm
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Post Re: Mars in 2018?
briarpatch39272 wrote:
Isn't the weight problem about boosting from earth. What about building the shielding in free fall like our friend Mr. Heinlein suggested? Materials sent in sections with other supplies maybe. Why is the shielding so heavy, because it's lead?

Probably a good reason, and I feel confident I will soon hear it.

Charlene


That solution has been discussed. The problem, obviously, is that it adds a whole new level of complexity and expense to an already incredibly expensive venture. The difference in mass once in (high earth) orbit is not difficult to overcome with a sufficiently robust booster. However, since a manned Mars mission is not anticipated in the near future, the space medicine experts are looking for a more elegant and less costly solution.

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Tue Mar 12, 2013 7:10 am
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