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Mars NASA Space Science

Mars Journal Issue Inspires Hundreds of One-Way Trip Volunteers 475

Posted by Soulskill
from the easier-said-than-done dept.
Velcroman1 writes "An interplanetary trip to Mars could take as little as 10 months, but returning would be virtually impossible — making the voyage a form of self-imposed exile from Earth unlike anything else in human history. What would inspire someone to volunteer? A special edition of the Journal of Cosmology detailed exactly how a privately-funded, one-way mission to Mars could depart as soon as 20 years from now — and it prompted more than 400 readers to volunteer as colonists. 'I've had a deep desire to explore the universe ever since I was a child and understood what a rocket was,' said Peter Greaves, the father of three, and a jack-of-all-trades who started his own motorcycle dispatch company and fixes computers and engines on the side. 'I envision life on Mars to be stunning, frightening, lonely, quite cramped and busy,' he said. Given the difficulties of the mission, Lana Tao, the editor of the Journal, said she was surprised by the response. 'At first we thought the e-mails were a joke... then we realized they were completely serious.'" Of course, they'd have to compete with the thousands of you who said you'd go.
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Mars Journal Issue Inspires Hundreds of One-Way Trip Volunteers

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  • People (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10, 2011 @02:50PM (#34826008)

    People don't stop to think. It would be psychological suicide. People say yeah no problem, but in reality 99.9999% of people would not be able to do this.

  • by badran (973386) on Monday January 10, 2011 @02:58PM (#34826136)

    Look at Australia.

  • by wierd_w (1375923) on Monday January 10, 2011 @03:01PM (#34826180)

    Or, perhaps, his kids are grown?

    Perhaps his kids rarely come visit anyway?

    Who knows. Simply because one has sired offspring does not imply that they are or should be dependent upon one forever.

    Which would be more selfish-- the middle aged to retired man who wants to use the autumn years of his life to accomplish something great, or the children who insist that "pops" stick around so they can dump their kids on him, and otherwise mooch?

    That particular sword cuts both ways, you see.

  • by morari (1080535) on Monday January 10, 2011 @03:04PM (#34826246) Journal

    [...] he must be the most selfish, self serving person that exists.

    Of course he is! He's a father, after all. Who else but the selfish can bring themselves to thrust children into this world of ours? You don't have children for their sake, you have them for your own. Immortality, appreciation, social status, tax credits. Children bring a wealth of benefits to the parents, even without counting less tangible things like pride and love. No one has children for any other reason than for themselves. That attitude may change later one, when care and comfort of the children itself becomes the driving force of importance, but it never starts out being about the kids.

  • Most selfless (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday January 10, 2011 @03:17PM (#34826498)

    In giving his life to explore new frontiers, he sets an example for his children, and for children everywhere, that people can think beyond just their own family and do something for the greater good of humanity.

    Seems to me you are pretty self-serving, thinking only about your own family and not the future of mankind.

  • Purely Stupid (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <sherwin@amiran . u s> on Monday January 10, 2011 @05:34PM (#34828510) Homepage Journal

    This is dumb, dumb, dumb.

    There is only one reason this is described as a "one-way" mission; Mankind's incredibly stupid reliance on chemical rockets. Chemical rockets *will not* allow us to explore any of outer space in a meaningful way, with the possible (and expensive) exception of near earth orbit.

    We already have the technology to jet where-ever we want around the solar system. Project Orion [wikipedia.org].

    There was a BBC show [bbc.co.uk] on it.

    The short story: It was a design to use small nuclear explosives to push up against an abalative impact plate with shock absorbs. One pulse every 120 seconds. Significant levels of acceleration, and a mass to energy ratio that would make any rocket scientist blush. We could *easily* send a million ton spacecraft to Mars, with more than sufficient fuel to return several massive (10s of thousands of tons) spacecraft back to earth.

    We could do round trips every 6 months without blinking an eye, with the added side effect of using much of the world's weapons grade nuclear fuel. Enhancements to the design switched from Fission to Fusion; at which point Orion spacecraft would be able to start to move around interstellar space. Early designs using current materials could achieve 0.05-0.1c . Designs using future materials (or possible relying upon non-solid ablative surfaces (this includes a plate that is sprayed with an oil solution before each blast)) could theoretically achieve .8c . This would make round-trips to Alpha Centauri possible.

    How do you get around the nuclear radiation issues? Simple. First, there's no serious issue with radiation in space; build it in orbit, and there's not much to worry about. Second, the fallout/radiation from direct planetary launches would be dwarfed by weapons tests that occurred in the past, and probably by fossil fuel plant emissions, as well. The total fallout released from a planetary launch of a 6,000 ton vehicle would be equal to a 10-megaton nuclear blast (roughly one worldwide instance of cancer per launch), even using thermonuclear blasts. Further refinements to the technology could significantly reduce that; and mankind has pursued far less interesting pursuits that have caused a great deal more fallout (and heighted rates of cancer) than a real, "nuclear" space program.

    In an ideal world, we'd build a few *huge* orion stations, and launch them into orbit. I'm talk multi-million ton hulks. The fallout from these launches would be significant, but would still be smaller in magnitude than the fallout from the various nuclear weapons tests that occurred during the cold war. These stations would contain the industrial complex needed to build additional ships, and smaller vessels capable of mining the needed materials from the moon. Hopefully, there are sufficient levels of fissionable and fusible materials on the moon. At that point, man kind could return to using chemical rockets as ferries to get into space; to deliver small cargos and personnel to the constructions stations.

    How would you pay for this venture? That begs the question: Whats the best way to profit of a massive nuclear pulse drive in space? To move asteroids! Mining of the asteroid belt would be a serious proposition, and the low gravity (and lack of atmosphere) makes the usage of our Orion drives even more palpable. It would be necessary to figure out a cheap way to return these metals to earth; however, initial studies have suggested that even very small asteroids (1 mile diameter) can contain tens of trillions of dollars of metals.

    The loss rate would be terrific, but one could imagine breaking asteroids into 500 m chunks, surrounding them with layers of ceramic heat shield, and them aiming them for the middle of the ocean, Siberia, or other wasteland type area. I have a feeling we can devise a more elegant solution over time.

    This could happen in our life

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