Elon Musk Clears up Misunderstanding about Mars Proposal

November 28, 2012

Founder of SpaceX, Elon Musk, recently proposed a Martian colony which eventually would contain 80,000 people brought there from Earth on the reusable rockets he intends to develop.  Musk cleared up misunderstandings about his proposal by stating on Twitter that he meant to send 80,000 people a year to the red planet once colonization begins.  His goal is for a total of millions of settlers to make permanent residence on our second nearest neighbor.

Reusable rockets would create “massive reductions in cost”, he says, using his Falcon 9 as an example.  If it could be reused 1000 times then the cost of sending a human to Mars would plummet from $60 million a flight to just $60,000.  He envisions spacecraft much bigger than the Falcon 9 for the job and it would need to be even bigger than his Falcon Heavy (two Falcon 9’s combined) now being developed.  With bigger rockets, the cost would approach $500.000 per person.

Massive amounts of cargo, along with the people, would be needed to establish permanent colonies.  For anybody interested in a realistic view of what living on Mars might be like, I recommend reading any or all of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars series novels:  Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars.

Do We Live in a Purposeful Universe?

November 28, 2012
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Neil deGrasse Tyson’s thoughts on whether the universe has a purpose are worth your time.  Watch the short video addressed below:

Human Future Needs to be In Space

November 23, 2012
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Humans have always been a species not satisfied with the way things are.  At least certain members of the species want to move on, move up, make a name for themselves doing things that nobody else has done.  But we have reached the point where individuals can no longer conquer the greatest challenges we face.  Now it takes groups–whole governments in fact.

The question is up in the air whether the United States will continue its intellectual spiritual, and financial domination of the world.  We seem at this point to be a country too self-satisfied and comfortable with our two car garages, and extreme shopping trips on Black Friday.  We worry more about whether our kids will have the latest power ranger than about where we are headed as a nation.  In order to avoid laziness and stagnation as a people, we need new fields to conquer.  Space exploration provides that field, and it is the ultimate field, offering a literally infinite series of new worlds to conquer (literally).

But it is an area that will take more ongoing systematic, carefully planned effort than anything man has ever attempted.  It will take the combined resources of both government and private industry, perhaps of several nations to get very far with this undertaking.  It would be foolish to devote so many resources to this effort than other areas of need–military, health care, education, welfare were seriously neglected.  Yet, a reasonable part of our GNP could be devoted to space without endangering any of these programs.  We did it in the 1960’s to put men on the moon and nobody starved as a result.

What has seemed to be lacking in the last 25 years or so is the will.  There is a mistaken notion that putting people in space is really expensive, yet NASA is run on only one-half of one per cent of the government’s total budget.  Increasing that to one penny as Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson and others are advocating would allow NASA to begin an effective manned program with goals that could be reached in a reasonable future.  NASA should be out in front, doing the hard research and development in space exploration with private enterprise following up taking over projects that stand a reasonable chance of eventually producing a profit–like mining asteroids for the precious metals that are used more and more in our electronic devices or taking tourists to the moon.

Columbus had no idea of the eventual riches that would come from exploring and colonizing North and South America, and neither do we have much of an inkling of what riches will be made available for this world through the exploration of the solar system, and eventually, the stars.  Just the industry and skills needed to carry out the job would put thousands of people to work in all kinds of industries.  And the new items that would  be invented would further enhance our lives.