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Mars Space Science

SpaceX Aims To Put Man On Mars In 10-20 Years 271

Posted by samzenpus
from the mars-needs-astronauts dept.
An anonymous reader writes "SpaceX hopes to put an astronaut on Mars within 10 to 20 years. From the article: '"We'll probably put a first man in space in about three years," Elon Musk told the Wall Street Journal Saturday. "We're going all the way to Mars, I think... best case 10 years, worst case 15 to 20 years."'"
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SpaceX Aims To Put Man On Mars In 10-20 Years

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  • by LaissezFaire (582924) on Monday April 25, 2011 @07:48AM (#35928274) Journal
    SpaceX is building rockets, so they are doing things in line with going to Mars.

    Space programs take a quite a long time to develop. The average government satellite takes around 12-16 years from development to operation. They have to think 10-20 years out.

  • by benjfowler (239527) on Monday April 25, 2011 @08:23AM (#35928544)

    Forget Helium-3 as an energy source. We can't even build a working D-T fusion reactor yet, let alone something that can burn He3. Talk to me in fifty years, when we have DEMO built, and can demonstrate a working fusion power plant, before we even consider the idea.

    The He3 argument has been used by a lot of people as a (silly) argument for a human presence on the Moon for quite a while, and it's not a very good one. We can't burn He3 yet, it's not economical to ship (it's an isotope of helium, it takes up lots of space and is not dense at all, or would have to be expensively cryogenically cooled). It's an economic non-starter.

    There are better fuel sources on the Moon anyway. If we were to build science bases or observatories on the Moon, we would need a reliable power source to last through the two-week lunar nights. There's quite a bit of extractable thorium on the Moon, and compact molten-salt reactors like LFTR would likely do the job nicely, with far less technical risk. Not sure if studies have been done, on whether or not we can mine, refine and use thorium without it leaving the Moon, but it seems more practical than assembling a 10000 ton fusion reactor + associated plant from parts shipped from Earth.

    There ARE loads of things we could do on the Moon. Mining helium-3 isn't one of them.

The difficult we do today; the impossible takes a little longer.

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