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Mars Space Science

Elon Musk: First Humans Who Journey To Mars Must 'Be Prepared To Die' (theverge.com) 474

At a conference yesterday, Elon Musk outlined his company SpaceX's plan to send humans to Mars. The vehicle is called the Interplanetary Transport System and it is capable of carrying 100 tons of cargo (people and supplies). Musk added that this rocket ship could take people to Mars in just 80 days. But he also reminded that the first batch of people who are brave enough to go to Mars should be well aware that they are almost certainly going to die. The Verge adds:During the Q&A session that followed, the question inevitably came up: what sort of person does Musk think will volunteer to get strapped to that big rocket and fired toward the Red Planet? "Who should these people be, carrying the light of humanity to Mars for all of us?" an audience member asked. "I think the first journeys to Mars will be really very dangerous," answered Musk. "The risk of fatality will be high. There's just no way around it." The journey itself would take around 80 days, according to the plan and ideas that Musk put forward. "Are you prepared to die? If that's okay, then you're a candidate for going," he added. But Musk didn't want to get stuck talking about the risks and immense danger. "This is less about who goes there first... the thing that really matters is making a self-sustaining civilization on Mars as fast as possible. This is different than Apollo. This is really about minimizing existential risk and having a tremendous sense of adventure," he said.
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Elon Musk: First Humans Who Journey To Mars Must 'Be Prepared To Die'

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  • News Flash! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2016 @12:48PM (#52977291)

    We're all going to die.

    • Re:News Flash! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2016 @12:57PM (#52977397) Journal

      We're all going to die.

      We're all going to die. The difference is the legacy you leave behind. For most people, it's their children. Others try to make a lasting impressions in other ways. Dying while colonizing Mars is one of those ways.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2016 @01:01PM (#52977437) Journal

      We're all going to die.

      Nope! I'm gonna have my brain cryogenically frozen, and be scanned into a brain emulator 200 or so years from now when tech advances.

      Thus, I'll still be trolling Slashdot for thousands and thousands of years! Bwwaaaaa ha ha ha

    • Yes, but I'd rather die later than sooner. And I'm willing to be that people at the end of their life won't be fit enough to go.

  • meh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Thud457 ( 234763 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2016 @12:48PM (#52977293) Homepage Journal
    Basement on Earth, basement on Mars, the view's all the same...
  • by ravenshrike ( 808508 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2016 @12:49PM (#52977301)

    The fact of the matter is he's right. And even if they do make the trip back, the probability that they will have crippling health issues is high. Exploring any frontier was dangerous throughout human history.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 28, 2016 @12:49PM (#52977303)

    Out of several tens of billions of humans, only a fraction have not yet died, and of those who died, only a small percent of disputed cases indicate recovery.

  • Nomination (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 28, 2016 @12:51PM (#52977323)

    I nominate Congress to go on the first voyage. This would be the best use of taxpayer money ever.

  • how meany people on death row will take this?

    • how meany people on death row will take this?

      Doesn't matter. First, they don't just need warm bodies, but trained people who can actually do the job. Probably not too many highly trained people with the skills needed on death row. Second, just because they must be prepared to die, doesn't mean they should be expecting to die. Psychologically, it will be hard enough with morale and other issues without sending people on what is expected to be a death sentence. They will be sent on a dangerous mission that will have every bit of aid needed to succeed. T

    • by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2016 @01:49PM (#52977907)

      Australia should send all their prisoners to Mars just to be ironic.

  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2016 @01:02PM (#52977443) Homepage Journal

    At least I'd get away from all the Elon Musk stories.

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2016 @01:03PM (#52977459) Journal

    Humans have precedent for sending out vessels filled with people who have a good chance of dying on their journey.

  • by physicsphairy ( 720718 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2016 @01:04PM (#52977471) Homepage

    What is the difference if you are not prepared? Will you fail at it?

    • by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2016 @01:40PM (#52977809) Homepage Journal

      If you're not prepared to die, you're likelier to panic, do something stupid, and then die.

    • What is the difference if you are not prepared? Will you fail at it?

      Quite possibly. Risk aversion in a situation where risk is needed to survive could spell doom for everybody.

    • by eth1 ( 94901 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2016 @02:19PM (#52978161)

      What is the difference if you are not prepared? Will you fail at it?

      Quite possibly...

      Imagine this scenario: You're halfway there, and part of the life support system break down, and can't be fixed en route. The vessel can now only support half of the people on board. If the passengers aren't prepared to calmly figure out who stays and who goes, and half the people aren't prepared to go quietly, the resulting riot will probably doom the entire mission.

      Unpleasant contingency plans for that sort of thing have to be made, and the passengers must be prepared to follow them. There won't be any lifeboats.

    • What is the difference if you are not prepared? Will you fail at it?

      I tried to kill myself by jumping off of a building, but I can't even do that right. I ended up doing a double back flip and landing on my feet. On the street next to me were two kittens. One turned to the other and said, "See, that's how it's done."

      Slight spin on an old Steven Wright joke.

  • by Ukab the Great ( 87152 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2016 @01:05PM (#52977487)

    How about we first master having a self-sustaining civilization on Earth?

    • by ytene ( 4376651 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2016 @01:16PM (#52977615)
      Agree that this is a good idea - and something we need to try for regardless. However, because we are a planet of many discrete nations and governments, we cannot simply issue global edicts such as "one child per family" or "no more fossil fuels" in isolation. That takes global agreement. We only need to look around to realise that we're pretty rubbish at that...

      I don't know, but I got the impression that Elon has factored this into his planning. He is working on the basis that mankind is incapable of "doing the sensible stuff first", as you suggest. Instead, he is working on the premise that by the time that we realise that the Earth has been harmed beyond the point of recovery, then it will be too late to start a colonisation program. He's basically saying that we need those colonies to exist and be stable for the day that mankind wakes up and realises that the planet is doomed.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Pfhorrest ( 545131 )

        The same technology it would take to build self-sustaining colonies on Mars could much more easily build self-sustaining colonies on Earth. Mars is already a desolate wasteland; if we could work out how to survive there, then we could, much more easily, work out how to survive Earth becoming a desolate wasteland, even if we couldn't stop other people from making that happen.

        Until we can have self-sustaining cities at the poles, in the middle of the world's deserts, on the seafloor, etc -- all much more hosp

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        That takes global agreement. We only need to look around to realise that we're pretty rubbish at that...

        The only way we'll get good at that IMO is to colonize another planet. Humans are pretty good about pulling together in rivalry with an other. Earth vs Mars in the Sol Cup? You'd get some global unity.

    • The fact that we have not mastered it is reason enough to go. The basic idea is to increase our chances of surviving as a species when the next asteroid strikes or some idiot pushes the button. That's why sustainability is the key and why no one's talking about mining Martian gold to ship back home.

      And after that we need to build an Ark before the sun blows up. Yes, a whole different order of magnitude, but that's the ultimate goal here. And no problem if you don't like the idea and can find a million reaso

  • by Jason1729 ( 561790 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2016 @01:05PM (#52977489)
    The first Mars colony is always wiped out. It's the second one that thrives -- after 90% of the colonists are wiped out.
    • The first Mars colony is always wiped out. It's the second one that thrives -- after 90% of the colonists are wiped out.

      So what you're saying is that Mars is a VC firm and the colonies are startups?

  • Seems like a decent purchase to choose with the only 1-UP we get. Unless you put great stock into 50 years of making profits for someone more connected ("corps are people") then hopefully getting to wither in some retirement crate. Then, sure, spend it on that.

    That said, I have doubts that the heroic efforts I just compared to are actually available. Obviously Musk is going to make Mars work (and funding) seem as plausible as he can.
  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2016 @01:09PM (#52977525) Journal

    Isn't that also in the Microsoft License Agreement?

  • Liability insurance will be a bitch if the company has to guarantee bringing someone back alive.
  • by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2016 @01:11PM (#52977545)

    If your goal is a self-sufficient colony on mars and your serious about it your opening move will not involve sending people there initially because this would be a pointless waste of resources.

    It isn't enough to just preposition supplies you need to develop and transport a highly automated industrial base using technology that does not yet exist to create the things people will need to survive.

    The solution today is basic research and development not building space buses and telling riders they are probably going to die.

    You can't just ignore reality and subscribe to new age planning doesn't matter we don't need to learn how to walk first nonsense because if you do that you will fail.

    • It isn't enough to just preposition supplies you need to develop and transport a highly automated industrial base using technology that does not yet exist to create the things people will need to survive.

      Is that how the Americas were colonized by the Europeans?

    • by Necron69 ( 35644 ) <jscott.farrow@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday September 28, 2016 @02:01PM (#52978007)

      There is nothing whatsoever in Musk's plans that prohibit them from sending 10 (or 100) ships up first that are loaded with cargo for the first colonists. In fact, doing otherwise would be ridiculous. Don't take the video quite so literally.

      Musk himself said he is focused on building the transportation infrastucture, not the colony itself. He is leaving that to others and basically inviting people with resources and ideas to join in.

      - Necron69

  • by xanthos ( 73578 ) <xanthos.toke@com> on Wednesday September 28, 2016 @01:12PM (#52977557)
    Putting the practical aspects of getting there aside, this is no different than what many of our ancestors did at one time. Saying goodbye to everyone and everything that is familiar for the adventure of the unknown. Yes you will die. Quickly or slowly, in anticipated or unexpected ways.

    Many people cannot envision a one way journey but others can. My great grandfather came to the US to join his sons. My great grandmother did not.
  • I like the part in the SpaceX video where the rocket lands, and the door opens on magnificent desolation. This is artistic license. Obviously the material for a habitat would precede the arrival of people.

    But yes, a first-try planetary colony won't necessarily work. Getting there is dangerous, and once you're there being able to continue to provide the population with air, water, food, shelter, and energy is going to have significant risks of lethal failures.

  • by Jodka ( 520060 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2016 @01:16PM (#52977617)

    So I have this friend with a father who is a Vietnam war hero. When the base was under attack, he would grab the nearest weapon he could get his hands on and run toward the enemy. He won a medal for demonstrating that after the enemy shoots the tail off your helicopter, it is indeed still flyable if you go just go fast enough. Funny thing was, his very successful military career was something of an accident. Before joining the army, when there was nothing at stake and nothing to be gained by it, he would get in trouble by doing some damn fool wild thing. After the umpteenth time the judge finally told him, it's the jail or the military, you choose.

    It took a long time for me to understand because I am not like that myself, but some people need high-risk, crazy adventure to thrive. If that is denied to them, they will seize it anyway, however they can. So those people might as well expend that impulse on something socially redeeming, like establishing off-world human colonies, while the rest of us cower here on earth until interplanetary transport is proven safe.

  • Why not the moon?

    Oh sure, we've been there before... but seriously, if the goal is to build a self-sustaining permanent habitat as soon as possible, then why not build one on the moon first?

    I'm not saying that we shouldn't go to Mars eventually, but I think talking about it before we've even started to seriously talk about colonizing the lunar surface, let alone doing it, is really putting the cart before the horse.

    At the very least, the moon is less than a hundredth as far. Why do the people who p

    • Why not the moon?

      Off the top of my head because there's no atmosphere which is a convenient way to mine rocket fuel and other needed components without having to transport or actually dig and also means the lack of weathering has left the surface of the moon covered in razor sharp dust that plays hell with everything.

      However, Mars is covered in poison.

  • Astronauts have to be prepared to die. People who sailed to America had to be prepared to die. Explorers in general have to be prepared to die. So what? It would be newsworthy if he said such people would be 100% safe (because that would mean either he had amazing technology, or he turned into a lying jerk).

  • There be gold in them there craters.

BLISS is ignorance.

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