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Mars NASA

How Close Are We To a Mars Mission? (thenewstack.io) 173

destinyland writes: NASA is developing the capabilities needed to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars in the 2030s," reads the official NASA web site. But National Geographic points out that "the details haven't been announced, in large part because such a massive, long-term spending project would require the unlikely support of several successive U.S. presidents." And yet on November 4th, NASA put out a call for astronaut applications "in anticipation of returning human spaceflight launches to American soil, and in preparation for the agency's journey to Mars," and they're currently experimenting with growing food in space. And this week they not only ordered the first commercial mission to the International Space Station, but also quietly announced that they've now partnered with 22 private space companies.
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How Close Are We To a Mars Mission?

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  • The Answer: (Score:5, Funny)

    by Pikoro ( 844299 ) <init@i[ ].sh ['nit' in gap]> on Monday November 23, 2015 @03:16AM (#50983693) Homepage Journal

    I'm going to guess about 225 Million km. (on average)

  • by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @03:30AM (#50983715)

    We should not be in such a hurry that we are sending people in fragile tin cans reliant on chemical rockets. Instead we should be working on building an actual Ship in orbit.

    What is a "Ship"? First, it is a vessel with ample power: some kind of reactor that can run all the ship's systems, plus a magnetic shield. [physicsworld.com] The other systems a reactor would power is the engines...Ion or those EM drives (should they pan out. I expect the truth should be sorted out by the time they get around to building something like this). Sure...they are low thrust, but you can have a lot of them. And they have some pretty powerful ones in development. [newscientist.com]

    Another thing it would have to be is big. Room for rotating sections for artificial gravity, hydroponics, a workshop (because AAA doesn't serve Space yet). Storage for fuel, water, a lander of some sort, etc.

    Sure, it sounds all futuristic, but we have the essential technologies or they are on the drawing boards, or can be with just a bit of political will. It's time we took the next step in Space Travel...the step where it's actual travel and not just joy rides to lower orbit. We can put off Mars for a decade or and instead focus on building something that is safe, reliable and not a one and done soda pop can.

    • Along the same lines, we should establish a permanent Moon base first. The Moon is much, much, much closer to Earth than Mars, but having a permanent base there presents many of the same challenges:

      Temperature extremes, radiation, micro-meteorites (common to any space mission, I suppose). Needing to lift gear much further up than a 300~400 km low orbit. Actually succeeding in landing that gear undamaged. Gravity - but lower than on Earth. Redundant and/or extremely reliable life support systems, since Ea

      • by dotancohen ( 1015143 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @08:30AM (#50984331) Homepage

        ...many of the same challenges:

        Temperature extremes, radiation, micro-meteorites (common to any space mission, I suppose). Needing to lift gear much further up than a 300~400 km low orbit. Actually succeeding in landing that gear undamaged. Gravity - but lower than on Earth. Redundant and/or extremely reliable life support systems, since Earth will be 'close' but still too far away for actual emergencies.

        Not at all the same. Due to having an atmosphere, almost all those parameters are vastly different. The temperature extremes are not nearly as extreme on Mars, there is (slightly) less radiation, and almost no micro-meteorites. There is no 'landing' on Mars like with the moon, but rather EDL (Entry, Descent, Landing) as on Earth. That is actually much more difficult than landing on the moon: the atmosphere really isn't thick enough for parachuting a large mass, but too thick to light a retro rocket at high speed. I suspect that this is one of the reasons that SpaceX ignite a retrorocket on landing the Falcon 9 first stage: to practice doing so for a Mars mission. Also, Mars has twice the gravity of the moon, which will bear in ways that we don't know yet on astronaut's physiology.

        Other than the "getting there" stage, Mars will be much easier to colonize than the moon. And the "getting there" challenges are surmountable with current technology, the "living there" challenges are much, much more difficult.

        • the atmosphere really is .... too thick to light a retro rocket at high speed.

          SpaceX claims that their SuperDraco thrusters are capable of igniting during Mars EDL, at supersonic speeds. Of course, we won't know for sure until they actually do it, but given their accomplishments to date, I see no reason to doubt them.

          • SpaceX claims that their SuperDraco thrusters are capable of igniting during Mars EDL, at supersonic speeds. Of course, we won't know for sure until they actually do it, but given their accomplishments to date, I see no reason to doubt them.

            Yes, SpaceX seems to be the only one researching how to do this. They've always said that their ultimate goal is Mars, and their engineering shows it.

            As much as I try not to be a Linux fanboy, pro-Israel, or any other bias, I find it very difficult to not be a SpaceX fanboy!

        • Other than the "getting there" stage, Mars will be much easier to colonize than the moon.

          Taking what you claim as a given (the Moon being more challenging) then wouldn't that be a good argument for colonizing the Moon first? If it is actually more challenging in most ways but easier to reach then we can test bed all the technology 3 travel days away and get much of it figured out before taking the long trip to Mars. Not so much from a safety standpoint but from a logistics and cost standpoint. Testbed as much as possible in harsh conditions close to home and then you "only" have to figure ou

          • By that logic it would have made more sense to try to get supersonic flight working before lighter-than air craft. The challenges are about as different. Consider, the moon has:
            - Much more extreme temperature swings
            - Razor-sharp abrasive dust that will quickly destroy seals, gaskets, and other soft materials (no weather to wear it smooth like on Earth and Mars)
            - 2-week nights that make solar power nonviable without massive battery banks
            - much lower gravity, making adapting Earth-based nuclear reactor desig

            • By that logic it would have made more sense to try to get supersonic flight working before lighter-than air craft.

              Nice reductio ad absurdem. Seriously, analogies like this almost never are relevant. And this is slashdot so please use a car analogy if you must. :-) Anyway some things about a Moon base will be harder but others will be easier, not the least of which are the logistics involved.

              Much more extreme temperature swings

              Which if you can handle those, the ones on Mars should be a piece of cake. Don't forget about the effects of the moon passing through the Earth's magneto-tail either. Huge charge buildups will be challenging to say the least.

              - Razor-sharp abrasive dust that will quickly destroy seals, gaskets, and other soft materials (no weather to wear it smooth like on Earth and Mars)

              La

              • Sorry, couldn't think of a good car analogy - cars have been pretty much unchanged in terms of basic technology since early models switched from electric-drive to the internal combustion engine. But I think a reducto ad absurdem is entirely relevant to calling out apparently absurd claims.

                Temperature: yes, if we can handle the Moon Mars will be a cakewalk. But we can *already* handle Mars, as demonstrated by the multi-year lifespans of our rovers.

                Dust: nope. Mars dust has been weathered smooth, just like

          • Taking what you claim as a given (the Moon being more challenging) then wouldn't that be a good argument for colonizing the Moon first?

            Not at all. Not only are the challenges harder, but they simply don't apply to Mars.

      • Actually the moon is much more challenging in many respects:
        - A others have noted, the temperature swings are far more extreme.
        - Moon dust is razor-sharp, and will wreak havoc on air seals and other soft materials in fairly short order (Mars dust has been worn smooth by winds)
        - You have to deal with that two-week night which means you need huge batteries for solar power to be viable
        - Much lower gravity, which could make adapting Earth-based nuclear reactors considerably more challenging. RTGs work okay for

    • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @05:34AM (#50983893) Homepage

      All of that is vastly more impractical than the current minimalist Mars mission concepts. We can't scrounge up the funding for one of them, and you want to build something vastly larger?

      Magnetic shields are good for preventing solar radiation but do little against GCR. You still need physical shielding sufficient to block GCR - which is harder to block anyway, aka, you still need significant shielding.

      You - and TFA - mentioning growing crops is naive. The reason that all serious baseline approaches only call for small, experimental-level (rather than sustinance-level) crop growing is because A) that's way too much risk (starvation due to crop failure, which is tough enough to prevent here on Earth from thousands of different causes, yet alone in a radically different environment) to impose on an early mission, and B) shipping in the food to last for a typical mission duration is actually lighter than the cost of shipping in a facility large enough to grow that much food and the associated power and environmental systems required to operate it. The ability to grow crops would be important for long-term habitations (which is why NASA is researching it - although the plant growth experiment designed for the Mars 2020 lander got cut), but the first missions to Mars absolutely will not be relying on it for any relevant portion of their calories.

      VASIMR is not new. One however does need to remember the downside: any high ISP /moderate to high thrust system is inherently going to be consuming vast amounts of power. And producing vast amounts of power means vast amounts of cooling area. So while it's "possible" to power a ship like this, it also means a very large ship... which partially eliminates the reason why one would want such a craft in the first place. It's more important for space "tugs"/"ferries" which take many trips, and for outer-planets missions. And note that there are many alternatives to VASIMR.

      And please, you do a discredit to yourself by adding "or those EM drives".

      • Galactic Cosmic Rays, for everyone else who had no clue why we needed to shield our Global Credit Rating.

      • Bub Zubrin's Mars Direct plan [wikipedia.org] is the most likely scenario, at least in the next few decades. Eventually someone will build large-scale cyclers [wikipedia.org] as you describe, but not until mining of asteroids and the moon gets underway, making materials available in space. Judging by his past statements, Elon intends to land people on Mars before that is likely to happen, which most likely means he intends to do it with the Falcon Heavy, at least for those first few 'flags & footprints' missions. If that is so, then t

      • by sycodon ( 149926 )

        I imagine Rei standing next to the Wright brothers and claiming that not only will their idea not work, but that it's stupid because we have trains and ships. And besides, no engines exist that can power a plane big enough to carry more than one or two people and who would want to sit exposed to the wind, and jet engines? Fantasy, and, and.

        We should do something like this because we should/would want to DO something in space, not just take pretty pictures and heat up a few handfuls of dirt. Exploiting the a

        • by Rei ( 128717 )

          I imagine Rei standing next to the Wright brothers and claiming that not only will their idea not work...

          Huh? Your analogy maps to me saying that rockets don't work. Is that what you actually think I was writing?

          And EM Drives? When you stand in the same room as the several PhDs that are investigating and tell them to their face...

          You can also find Ph.Ds investigating psychic abilities, ghosts, and so on down the line. The fact that there exist people on the planet who managed to write a doctoral thesis ab

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Because... why? Mars is the furthest where it makes sense to send humans and we know from the ISS that artificial gravity and growing food is overkill for trips of that length. The next viable target would be an Earth-like exoplanet somewhere 4+ light years away that your "real ship" would take many thousands of years to reach.

      • Ceres is further than Mars and might be an even better target. It has the added bonus of being a smaller gravity well.
        • What would make Ceres a better target? From what I see it would offer the worst challenges of both planetary and asteroid colonizations, and the only real advantage would be that it's easier to land on than Mars.

          It's certainly an appealing long-term target for mining, but we'll probably need micro-gravity friendly nuclear reactors first - at 2.77AU solar power is essentially unviable for supporting human habitats. Mars is already getting only 43% of the insolation as Earth, Ceres is getting a paltry 13%.

      • While you don't need to grow vegetables on the trip to or from Mars it would be good for morale to be able to get some fresh food during the trip. On the ISS they get the chance to have some when the resupply ships arrive.

    • Maybe the first step would be to build solar energy collectors at different points in orbit around the sun. Future spacecraft could then dock at these "space fuel stations" to refuel. The same should be done with communication arrays, to slowly but surely expand communication capabilities across the solar system.

      Once you have the energy, and the communications then you can start thinking about interplanetary spaceships. These should probably be "manned" by remote controlled robots instead of humans though.

      • First we'd need efficient batteries - specific impulse is king in space, and current batteries make rocket fuel look positively energy-dense. And unless EM drives or something similar pan out you'd still need reaction mass - photon drives get terrible thrust-per-joule. Ion drives are viable primarily because on-craft solar panels provide plenty of power for current-generation drives. Future high-power drives will probably need a nuclear reactor on board, and not just some anemic RTG.

    • I totally agree with you, except for one point: wouldn't it make much more sense to build it on the Moon? Along with a permanent colony and industry/infrastructure to support such things? Seems like a better ROI than mucking about in LEO trying to bolt things together. Also, we could be testing out environmental systems for any Mars habitats or long-range ships in the process.
  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @03:32AM (#50983727) Journal

    How do we guarantee we don't contaminate Mars and vice versa? The risk of bringing back a deadly disease is not zero. Suppose Mars has prions or something we have no immunity for?

    I agree it's a small chance, but also a potential civilization-killing chance.

    • Probes and rovers have found no visible signs of organic substances. Anyway, I say: let's contaminate it! If we are afraid of altering even a little bit of another planet we'll never go anywhere. Let's start a massive terraforming program and make Mars habitable to a minimum, I think it's the only hope to find possible signs of past life or other important discoveries, much more than leaving it as it is.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        While we're undertaking the timely and expensive process of terraforming a dead planet I hope we divert a little effort into protecting the one we're currently inhabiting ;)

        • most of the types of tech required for this would have just as many benefits on earth, technology wise it is a win win. The time, money and commitment costs with a uncertain return make it a difficult thing for any government to commit too though. It is a bit like war, they are horrible and expensive but when challenged sufficiently humans are capable of coming up with some pretty amazing shit, for all the pain of the 2 world wars they brought about a shit ton of innovation.
        • No, we can't do that. Too many people on this planet are hell-bent on ruining it, so that's why we need to go try to terraform a dead world. It's either that or have a giant war to exterminate all the people hell-bent on ruining this planet, but that war would ruin the planet too so it's hopeless. We need to get off-world, and just make sure the crazies don't come with us.

      • Anyway, I say: let's contaminate it! If we are afraid of altering even a little bit of another planet we'll never go anywhere. Let's start a massive terraforming program and make Mars habitable to a minimum

        Very long term project. No reason not to delay it for one or two hundred years so we can study Mars first.

      • Anyway, I say: let's contaminate it!

        I'm not afraid to modify Mars, but if we have the possibility to have a germ-free world, let's figure out how to do that.

        • Just keep in mind that 90% of the cells in your body are "germs", and you'd die almost immediately without them.

          • Well, yeah, not total bacterium free. But why bring influenza, various poxes, HIV, etc.

            • The same reason there's rats in the Americas - good luck keeping them out, they're opportunists that piggy-back on human exploration despite our best efforts. So many nasty diseases are capable of surviving in isolated pockets within the human body. Plus, there's no telling how well we or our symbiotic microbial ecosystem will fare without those attackers. In fact there's already increasing evidence that our modern relatively protected lifestyles cause all manner of long-term health problems.

              Besides whic

              • In fact there's already increasing evidence that our modern relatively protected lifestyles cause all manner of long-term health problems.

                For auto-immune disorders, we can bring something less than wild (can enough vaccines to it? Can something easy to fight like engineered weak cold germs do it?) For the other issues, if we lose our hard-won restiance to X, but live on Mars so X never arrives, that's fine as long as quarantees are in place.

                From a scientific perspective, it's true that good for us stuff

    • How do we guarantee we don't contaminate Mars and vice versa? The risk of bringing back a deadly disease is not zero. Suppose Mars has prions or something we have no immunity for?

      I agree it's a small chance, but also a potential civilization-killing chance.

      Ironyite - the story of an entire civilization looking to escape it's own destruction by trying to use the intergalactic fuel mineral Ironyite.

      Why do I get the feeling someone on Betelgeuse leaned over and said, "watch, here comes the funny part."

    • by cfalcon ( 779563 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @06:15AM (#50983971)

      I wish you were modded up because you are interesting, but you are oh so wrong.

      Prions are scary because they don't seem to have a solution- like Ice-9 in Cat's Cradle, they convert everything that is like them, into them, until nothing is left. But, they require full biological access- you pretty much have to eat them in order for them to be permitted access to the things that are "mostly" like themselves. In many other places, the immune system would be able to stop them (for instance, cell membranes), because they would recognizably change the surface You couldn't ruin yourself by just inhaling a prion, like you could a virus.

      A virus is probably more likely as a threat, and we (maybe) understand how unlikely it would be that a virus capable of infecting humans would be on Mars.

      Your post also has an interesting implication- it implies that the "Great Filter" is that a terrible anti-life thing evolves faster than defenses for it can, in most situations. It hypothesizes (whether you did or not) that life on Mars both existed, and met its end at the end of some molecular grim reaper, that we risk contaminating Earth with. I would argue that such a Grim Reaper (molecule or construct) would have reached Earth at some point already- and if not, that we would likely find such a Grim Reaper on pretty much ANY planet we looked, and were just spared for no reason. This seems unlikely (but interesting).

      Finally on the "Mars contaminates us" point, it is MUCH more likely that we find something inimical to human life here on Earth- for instance, very deep in an ocean, or near the top of a mountain, or buried in ice. Do you raise your FUD Flag against such a threat? Or is it only confined to space travel? Reminder: Our species will ultimately go extinct without space travel- this is a fact!

      On your other point- "we contaminate Mars"- fucking fine. There's nothing amazing on Mars right now, life-wise, and if there is, we can keep it in a tiny Mars zoo. It's totally worthless to dedicate a whole planet to whatever random bacteria Mars happens to host right now, if indeed it hosts anything. A few score petri dishes will do nicely.

      • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
        Yes. Space is big, there is loads of it, it's all dead apart from Earth as far as we know, who gives a fuck if we 'contaminate' things with life? Not that we will, because we have pointless wars to fight and we like dedicating the lions' share of our resources to those, but still. Mars is not some pristine paradise environment. It's a dead rock.
        • Space is big, there is loads of it, it's all dead apart from Earth as far as we know, who gives a fuck if we 'contaminate' things with life?

          Because we have no idea if it is "all dead". The only thing we know for certain is that we haven't found life elsewhere yet. It doesn't follow that because we haven't found it yet that it cannot exist.

          As for whether we should "give a fuck" I guess that's a matter of perspective but it seems rather foolish to contaminate places we have no intention of going ourselves in person. You lose the ability to study what is there if you screw it up carelessly. If we go ourselves then we WILL contaminate wherever

      • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

        I would argue that such a Grim Reaper (molecule or construct) would have reached Earth at some point already...

        I would also, but that's not a 100% certainty. Should we still gamble if it's a say 99.99% certainty?

        Maybe the deadly stuff doesn't travel in space debris well. Mammals* don't, for example. Just because SOME microbes can survive in blasted rocks doesn't mean all do.

        it is MUCH more likely that we find something inimical to human life here on Earth- for instance, very deep in an ocean

        Not sure about

    • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
      Any martian bug would be greedily gobbled up on Earth.
    • How do we guarantee we don't contaminate Mars and vice versa?

      We don't. If we are going there ourselves we are going to contaminate Mars. There is a non-zero chance we already have with some of the equipment we have sent there. If Mars already supports some form of life then you may as well assume it will happen the other way around unless we do nothing but one way trips. The only way to not contaminate Mars is to not go to Mars.

  • by EzInKy ( 115248 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @04:44AM (#50983827)

    Sad to say, that has become the U.S.'s battle cry. Unless an immediate short term profit can be had the funding should be put elsewhere. Let the next guy worry about investing in the future, I need my profits now!China, on the other hand, has a history of investing for long term gains. They are a much more patient people,

    • Oh yeah, in corporate America, profits are too important, no corporation would think ahead to landing on Mars. Oh wait, except this one. [extremetech.com] Seems there's a flaw in your understanding of America.
      • Is SpaceX actually incorporated? I can't find anything about it one way or the other. At any rate it's a privately owned company, so it's certainly not a publicly traded corporation and thus not subjected to many of the economic forces that have contributed to the short-sightedness of the modern mega-corps.

  • Why is there an article as well, when the question has already been answered?

  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @05:44AM (#50983907)
    It's not how close we are. It's how much money we're willing to spend to get there.

    My guess is that absent any major change on this planet, no group or combination of groups that has enough money is willing to spend it on the trip.

    So the answer is far away.

    • It's also how much risk management and the politicians are willing to take. In the current environment (and for the past couple of decades) NASA has been very risk averse when it comes to human lives so I think that the US is quite far away from going to Mars. Not that they were ever willing to throw away lives but during the Cold War they were more open to taking risks to achieve goals.

      The Russians seem to be more focused on the Moon for their manned program. I don't know about the Chinese program but w

  • Humans are still more concerned with blow each other than exploring other planets.
    • by Maritz ( 1829006 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @07:07AM (#50984133)

      Humans are still more concerned with blow each other than exploring other planets.

      Too bad your typo isn't true. But yes. Humanity is not the space-faring species we are looking for.

      • I wanted to say "exploding", "destroy". Google translator is a piece of shit, I will have to learn this barbaric language (English) so that everyone may understand me on the .\
  • Compared to going to the Moon, and how much budget does NASA have for this compared to the early '60s, and mow much more complex is a Mars trip compared to the Moon trip? There's your answer: Never going to happen with the current amount of commitment.

  • Profit and robotics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DThorne ( 21879 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @08:20AM (#50984287)

    I'm a guy who stared up, glassy eyed (mostly because I was a kid in the middle of a serious sunstroke) as Armstrong stepped down that ladder, I had my plastic model of the Saturn V and scrapbook after scrapbook of the Apollo missions,so I guess you could call me a fan of exploration, science, engineering - all the things that had to come together for that moment to happen, but I honestly think those days are gone or at least disappearing. Two things end up driving exploration - a romantic ideal of the need to know, and the chance for someone to make a whack of cash. I think like after the "discovery" of North America, it's the investors that will drive the future of space. Nobody with any control over the sort of money this is going to cost believes that we are genuinely on the edge of destroying Earth - no "Interstellar scenario" is forthcoming - so what it will end up being is profit. Mining, most likely. As robotics advances the arguments are fewer and fewer for putting humans in harm's way. Maybe Mars will end up being on the list, my bet is the asteroid belt, though.

  • Attempting anything at scale in space with chemical rocketry is utterly foolish. Also, even if we put people on Mars, they need a dense, compact, and reliable source of power. Nothing but nuclear engines and reactors even remotely fit the demanding requirements for long-term space activites. A molten salt reactor can be made compact enough to power an airplane [wikipedia.org], and would be suitable for use in a Mars colony, providing electricity, heat, and production of chemical fuels. The endeavor was scrapped because

    • Attempting anything at scale in space with chemical rocketry is utterly foolish.

      While I generally agree, we don't have anything else at present nor does there appear to be any promising replacements in the near future outside of a few corner cases. We have NOTHING else to get us out of Earth's atmosphere. Until we come up with an alternative for getting into space that is economical and has a similar safety record we're going to be using chemical rockets. While I'm hopeful we can develop something clever one day, I'm realistic that it is going to be a while. Probably longer than my

      • Of course, getting *into* space, and getting *through* space are two very different challenges. I'll agree though that at the moment chemical rocketry seems the only viable option, though ion drives (or even EM drives if space enthusiasts are very lucky) could change that fairly rapidly, especially if we developed micro-gravity nuclear reactors to power them. Kind of chicken and egg issue there though, we're going to need a much more vibrant space industry before micro-g reactors are worth developing. St

  • by SkunkPussy ( 85271 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @08:53AM (#50984405) Journal

    Sending people to Mars is aspirational, but ridiculous. We need to find a commercial basis for a self-sustaining colony on the moon first. Once we have a self-sustaining colony on the moon, that is somehow able to support itself commercially, sending people to Mars will be more achievable.

    • Sending people to Mars is aspirational, but ridiculous.

      Why is it ridiculous? The idea is fine though some of the notions for how to get there are a little absurd and/or optimistic.

      We need to find a commercial basis for a self-sustaining colony on the moon first.

      Any colony on the moon will be funded at first by governments and tax dollars. You cannot make a credible business case for going there until it has already been explored and the resources and risks have been quantified. The costs are huge, the returns unknown, and the risks are mostly unquantifiable. That is the the basis for the worst business plan ever. No profit seeking insti

    • The moon is a radically more difficult challenge to colonize: extreme temperature swings, long sunless nights, razor-sharp dust to destroy seals and gaskets, and few ecosystem-relevant resources.

      Mars by contrast has relatively mild conditions, bountiful water and CO2 to supply ecosystem growth, and relatively Earthlike gravity and diurnal cycle. Plus friendly blue skies (probably)

  • The military will soon need some new toy and all the government's money (and then some) will go to it instead. This will be the pattern for many decades to come.
  • I'm pretty sure this is the Year of Mars on the Desktop.

  • We're still in the science fiction stage of a Mars mission. Nothing that I've seen indicates a serious effort is being made to go to Mars. I'm not sure humans should so so anyway as we're already using robotics to analyze the surface and scan from orbit.
  • It's a light in the sky, not a real place we can visit. Search YouTube for "Flat Earth Clues".
  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @01:16PM (#50986181) Journal
    We need to go back to the Moon first, set up a colony there, and build infrastructure there to support further exploration of the solar system! Why? Number One, because we can make all our inevitable mistakes a few days from Earth, where we'll have an opportunity to handle them without everyone dying, and Number Two, if there are launch facilities on the Moon, it'll be that much easier in the long run to get to places like Mars and the asteroid belt, than having to use up all the delta-v necessary to boost out of Earth's gravity well, that's why.

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