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Mars Space Science

Forget Space Travel, It's Just a Dream 542

An anonymous reader writes "The clash of two titans — physics and chemistry — are major barriers to human space travel to Mars and beyond, and may well make it impossible ... at least with current technologies."
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Forget Space Travel, It's Just a Dream

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  • Um, ok... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Monday April 11, 2011 @09:02AM (#35780290)

    ...But that's the thing about current technologies: They inevitably insist on becoming obsolete technologies.

  • by webrunner ( 108849 ) on Monday April 11, 2011 @09:02AM (#35780298) Homepage Journal

    So basically something we haven't invented the technology for is impossible until the technology is invented.

    I'm so shocked.

  • by js3 ( 319268 ) on Monday April 11, 2011 @09:03AM (#35780300)

    wow really? Even a monkey could have figured that out.

  • Forget air travel. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Issarlk ( 1429361 ) on Monday April 11, 2011 @09:04AM (#35780314)
    There is only so much power you can get out of a locomotive, and it's never gonna make one fly in the sky due to the considerable weight of a steam engine.
  • Errr... Chemistry? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Warwick Allison ( 209388 ) on Monday April 11, 2011 @09:05AM (#35780326) Homepage

    Plenty of interstellar ship concepts propose nuclear power and are therefore outside the "titanic" power of mere chemistry.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 11, 2011 @09:07AM (#35780332)

    An Orion engine could get you to the stars in 40 years, Mars in a few weeks. A solar sail can accelerate you almost up to the speed of light and travel to the ends of the universe. It's politics and economics that are major barriers to space travel, not physics and chemistry.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 11, 2011 @09:08AM (#35780340)

    Of course chemical rockets are very limited, in fact they barely work at all to get to other planets (gravitational assists are needed, etc.). But with ion drives, nuclear rockets and other technologies (see, some of which have already been tested and used, other technologies still under development, and others in the further future, such missions will become far easier and more routine. These are not limited by the energy you can get from chemical reactions

  • by kikito ( 971480 ) on Monday April 11, 2011 @09:11AM (#35780378) Homepage

    According to Physics and Chemistry self-propelled chariots are impossible STOP self-propelled flying vehicles are a fool's errand STOP Internet is that little net inside some pieces of underwear STOP.

  • Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 11, 2011 @09:12AM (#35780382)

    Premise: You cannot go into deep space because chemical rockets have insufficient energy to get you there.

    Recommendation: Therefore you should only send people into space one way.

    Real purpose of article: For the Author to brag that he is wealthy enough to book a flight on Virgin Galactic.

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Monday April 11, 2011 @09:16AM (#35780412)

    I mean, really, in 1969 we magically had all the tech to get to the Moon and back, it's not like we had to invent anything. /sarcasm

    People get paid to write this crap?


  • Re:duh.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Monday April 11, 2011 @09:33AM (#35780598) Homepage Journal


    Robert A. Heinlein

    Everything costs. Even if you do away with all of the world's currency, things will still cost. You will merely be stating the costs in another manner, ie, "manhours", or "credits", or - whatever.

  • by JasterBobaMereel ( 1102861 ) on Monday April 11, 2011 @09:48AM (#35780764)

    Got to space in Early 60's

    Got to the moon in the late 60's

    Both of these were single hop's, a trip to Mars is likely to be a staged journey, build the craft in orbit, or on the Moon, and use fuel from Space, the article assumes that the only possible way is a single hop from the earth to Mars (or further) taking everything, fuel, supplies with you.... This is impractical, but not impossible

    Making predictions about future technology is foolish at best .... go and speak to anyone in the 1950's about a compter with 6,000 logic gates, contained within 40 square mm they would say that was against the laws of physics and chemistry ... but the Intel 8800 had this in 1974

  • Physics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mangu ( 126918 ) on Monday April 11, 2011 @10:00AM (#35780956)

    We have known since the 1930s that the energy bounding atoms together is nothing compared to the energy bounding the atom nucleus together. In the 1940s we started learning how to use that energy.

    We have been stalling ever since. It's like we stopped developing automobiles because some people became afraid of them.

  • by cobrausn ( 1915176 ) on Monday April 11, 2011 @10:25AM (#35781240)
    The Navy owns the reactors. They bring in civilian contractors for the critical repair jobs and overhauls, supplemented by military workers. Navy Nuclear Power techs (of which I was one) receive a lot of training in two years, but a Bachelors / Masters / PhD it is not.
  • Re:How about (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mangu ( 126918 ) on Monday April 11, 2011 @10:34AM (#35781342)

    I always think it is worth pointing out that the US made an important decision between the time Apollo was announced and when it placed men on the moon: millions of poor and elderly would receive health care paid for by the government.

    Careful, comrade, you are not being politically correct. Everybody knows that the solution to end the $1.6 trillion deficit is to cut the $700 billion military spending, while leaving the $800 billion health care and $700 billion social security spending intact.

    If only the military spending didn't exist, I'm sure some hand waving could take care of the remaining $900 billion deficit. That is, if you forget that nearly half of those $700 billion military spending is manpower cost, which would become unemployment benefits, but let's not consider that detail, just think of a $1.2 trillion deficit if there existed no military spending at all.

    Fuck hard data and numbers, dreaming of a socialist utopia is much easier...

  • building the thing in space with chemical rocket or projectile launch methods and then assembling it in orbit

    Do you have any idea of the time and complexity needed to do even minor operations in space ? (i.e. doing some structural work on a space station)

    This would take ages. Really, several generations. And cost trillions of dollars.
    it sound cool, but it just isn't realistic.

  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Monday April 11, 2011 @11:00AM (#35781608) Homepage Journal

    Because at some point the sun will turn into a red giant and swallow the earth whole.

    Just as interstellar distances are unimaginable to most of us and our human-environment-size-and-time-scaled brains, so is time. We are about halfway through the lifetime of our sun, which means we still have a comfortable one to two billion years before any noticeable change.

    We could wipe out all life - down to the bacteria and one-celled, I mean absolutely freaking everything - on the planet and there would be enough time for another sentient species to evolve. They'd have a lot less time, we don't. I really don't think we should worry now. Two billion years is plenty of time to come up with interstellar travel, even without trying.

    We will be completely and irreversibility erased from the universe.

    A lot of people find that thought rather uncomfortable.

    If you worry about the sun going out, why not worry about whether or not K > 0? If there's going to be a "Big Crunch", then we'll be wiped out whether or not we go to the stars.

    I honestly think there's something else to the whole space exploration meme. It is a symbol of freedom, because it is so huge that for alle we care it's unlimited in size and time. On a planet where we are just about to map the last few remaining white spots, that means a lot.

  • by radtea ( 464814 ) on Monday April 11, 2011 @11:00AM (#35781622)

    Also, compared to some other "adventures", [] the whole thing would be rather cheap

    The challenge for space travel is to get buy-in from the broader population, and to do that it has to have the same visceral, senseless emotional response that warfare has. War is mate competition carried out by other means, and as such engages our deepest emotional responses.

    While exploration is daring and dangerous, the vast majority of people can't participate in it in an active way. We sent 12 people to the Moon, compared to hundreds of thousands rotated through Iraq.

    So from my point of view the problem with exploring other worlds is that we aren't doing enough of it to engage a large enough segment of the population. If some country were to commit to militarizing the Moon, say, we'd see a vast increase in resources flung at space travel, and at this point I'm not sure that wouldn't be a bad thing. Even done by an organization as stupid and inefficient as any standing army, it would be cheaper and vastly less destructive than even a fairly tiny war.

  • Re:Math (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GooberToo ( 74388 ) on Monday April 11, 2011 @11:18AM (#35781836)

    and may well make it impossible ... at least with current technologies.

    When you make a prediction about the future and balance your entire argument based on current technology, you basically confirmed you're an idiot. The same absolute fucking idiots all said we can't fly, you'll suffocate in a car when it moves, reaching orbit is impossible, small electronic radio devices are nothing but scifi.

    The summary could have simply said, "today's technology has limits."

    So please, can we stop posting articles by fucktards, for fucktards?

  • Re:How about (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Monday April 11, 2011 @12:43PM (#35782906) Homepage

    Everybody knows that the solution to end the $1.6 trillion deficit is to cut the $700 billion military spending, while leaving the $800 billion health care and $700 billion social security spending intact.

    The current extremes of our deficit are due to the fact that we're in the greatest recession since the Great Depression. In case you didn't notice. Our average deficits are a fraction as much. And our deficits are as much if not more a problem of continued tax cuts then they are of spending.

    That is, if you forget that nearly half of those $700 billion military spending is manpower cost, which would become unemployment benefits

    So military spending causes stimulus but other kinds of spending don't? Really? So old people don't buy stuff when they get their social security checks? Doctors and nurses live in caves and burn their cash for warmth?

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10