No doubt they'll have to supply all the astronauts with suicide capsules, seeing as it's a one way trip and they'll have limited medical facilities. I don't believe the project has a chance for a minute.
Now if they could do the stages up to 2018 cheaply, they might get NASA to pay for it, a la SpaceX.
A return exploration mission to the moon might be more credible and useful.
4th June, 2012 @ 11:05 p.m. (California Time)
This is a great idea! Big Brother Mars crossed with Survivor Mars.
When a contestant gets kicked out of the house, they really get kicked out of the house plus as an extra bonus, the freaks selected never come back.
It will also increase the average IQ on both planets (just slightly but every bit counts). TV ratings gold!
4th June, 2012 @ 11:30 p.m. (California Time)
Great funding idea, having Fox or NBC foot the bill for a mission to Mars.
4th June, 2012 @ 11:34 p.m. (California Time)
Finally a reality TV show worth watching.
5th June, 2012 @ 1:42 a.m. (California Time)
I think that the idea is plausible. What I'm wondering is that they say astronauts but do not specify the gender distribution. It seams to me that sending 4 men only to the Mars is not very sustainable.
5th June, 2012 @ 2:45 a.m. (California Time)
This looks like an INSANE project!
Ok, the rockets and the habitats will be no problem, but the people will be.
Astronauts from a "reality show", selected by the public? You have got to be kidding!
This is doomed to fail. The so-called "astronauts" will never be able to put up with the training. Even if they miraculously get through that, they would go insane and kill each other on the way to Mars.
I see that among Mars One's backers is the co-creator of a "reality TV" show. That says it all. Never mind what happens to these people - it's all about "ratings".
5th June, 2012 @ 3:06 a.m. (California Time)
@mooseman I understand your concerns. Mine are quite the same. But you do not have to leave the desition to the viewers - you can always make a preselection so that all the participants are physically and mentaly capable.
I actually find that this idea is quite clever way to put the stupid money into good use.
5th June, 2012 @ 6:37 a.m. (California Time)
Can we PLEASE send the entire cast of "Jersey Shore" first?
5th June, 2012 @ 6:41 a.m. (California Time)
That's a lot of money to spend on a show that may be cancelled after two episodes.
5th June, 2012 @ 7:28 a.m. (California Time)
10 years of training, plus another 10 years, is a lot to ask of the people not to have relations, specifically children, unless they have accounted for that lol.
5th June, 2012 @ 1:17 p.m. (California Time)
@Kris, " It seams to me that sending 4 men only to the Mars is not very sustainable."
Wouldn't that be Big Brother, Survivor Mars, and Queer eye for the Straight guy, mixed?
Topped off with Darwin Awards for the entire cast when the ratings drop in the second season. They are depending on the landed folks to produce their own rocket if they want to return? Are they nuts? Try to make a hammer without tools in the first place! I dare you to even try. To even produce a blacksmith's forge from a natural mountainside and an idea of what you want it to be? You will spend the first year just trying to produce tools, good enough to make better tools! Why not spend that money on a contest to design and build the best farming equipment, and seeing what team can feed the most people with the least cost, and the best return? Maybe even "Flip This Farm" Take farmers who are barely making ends meet, and renovate their farms and techniques for the best efficiency, without them losing their family lands to another shopping mall, or development.
5th June, 2012 @ 2:06 p.m. (California Time)
@kellory As far I understand they send the first crew there and to just hang around there. They can fabricate some bricks and foil (with some machinery sent there) and use that to create some additional buildings (I actually do not have any idea how they plan to roof those buildings).
Then they send more people in and then maybe even more. All with one way ticket. When you think about it then it would be not that different from living on Earth in the small village in medieval times.
When technology does advance then some of them can even be able to travel back to Earth when they want to. They do not have to build a hammer from the Mars rock for that.
Instead prefabricated modules can be transported there plus the machinery to make the fuel from the Mars material.
5th June, 2012 @ 3:56 p.m. (California Time)
It sounds like most people believe this is a CRAZY idea...that, therefore, increases the odds for success.
5th June, 2012 @ 5:01 p.m. (California Time)
I suspect this is yet another scheme to separate the Taxpayer from his/her everdwindling money. First, the funding, if available could be better spent taking care of seniors, ifrastructure, paying down the national debt, ect. If anyone wants to pay for this, it should be volintary.
5th June, 2012 @ 5:22 p.m. (California Time)
It all looks that it will be a big success until 2016, when they will shut down the project for lack of funding.
So they got a great reality show for the next 4 years, spending only on one house in a desert environment. I will not bother with this until they start actually launching missions to mars. Sorry.
5th June, 2012 @ 6:24 p.m. (California Time)
Why not spend that money on a contest to design and build the best farming equipment, and seeing what team can feed the most people with the least cost, and the best return? Maybe even "Flip This Farm" Take farmers who are barely making ends meet, and renovate their farms and techniques for the best efficiency, without them losing their family lands to another shopping mall, or development.
That is genius. Seriously.
As far as Mars realiTV, I'd watch it!
5th June, 2012 @ 6:38 p.m. (California Time)
While I think the basic idea is somewhat flawed, the concept is at least one way to start getting people to Mars.
Try reading Robert Zubrin’s book “A Case for Mars”. It details how to “Live off the land” on Mars and how to be able to return the people to earth. Yes, they are able to make their own rocket fuel. If you send the correct equipment in the first place, it’ll be there to help the people there.
As for where to place the test area on earth. Check out the “Mars Underground”, I understand that they have set up a simulated living module somewhere in Northern Canada in, or very close to, the arctic circle. They should have some very useful suggestions on how to do this.
5th June, 2012 @ 7:02 p.m. (California Time)
@kris following mooseman's comment. I believe you are right. From what I gather, Mars One will choose a large group of suitable candidates and for a certain period of time have them just mix. From there, they will be able to make teams and start the public picking. As was mentioned in the article, the contestants must be able to tough through every challenge. Besides, what would be the point of sending uneducated, unable people in a hostile environment; they must be able to perform research.
Also, many have commented, saying that the astronauts would be lacking materials and tools. Sure, in the first year or so they might, but there are scheduled supply missions, so as the astronauts gather data on the materials available, the earth based team will be able to send tools needed to process these and further advance the developments. Furthermore, if all goes well, space industry companies around the world will see the results and in the light of massive visibility and assured positive results, may invest more into the project, making more tools available to the astronauts.
I am of course still a little sceptical, for lack of detailed project plans, yet the basic idea seems excellent. If we are to expand in space as a species, we must take risks and the way most people react to these kind of projects, you'd think we have to wait for complete world peace, perfect economy and thorough knowledge of the entire galaxy..
The best thing about this though, I believe, is the fact that it is fully private funded, but I do sort of agree that maybe we should start by the moon.
5th June, 2012 @ 7:50 p.m. (California Time)
The solar flar radiation is not a problem on Mars. The atmosphere while not thick is deep enough to block it. The cosmic ray dose should be about 3 x tibetan doses; much less than the luna doses. Many high altitude cities have relativily high levels of cosmic ray fluxes. There seem to be no long term medical effects that we can't fix. Half a meter of dirt on the roof will reduce it to denver colarado levels which is deemed to be safe. Contraceptives will therefore be needed and they will need a lab on a chip to make pharmacutials.
I don't think it will be a one way trip or take months to get there. By the end of phase one, crew selection and training, either Vasimer or Hiiper will be available to take them there in a month. An unmanned cycler station and on Mars fuel plant would get them home.
6th June, 2012 @ 3:49 a.m. (California Time)
This is an interesting approach. It would be very similar to the colonization of the Americas. Personally I still prefer the idea espoused by the spaceislandgroup even if they haven't really gotten off the ground. The concept calls for big and slow instead of small and fast. They proposed a ring habitat based on the SSMT which the death of the shuttle program has rendered infeasible but using SpaceX launchers and Bigelow Aerospace habitat modules a similar vehicle could be constructed. By sending a fully functional habitat with one hundred people that takes three years to reach Mars the likelihood of permanent settlement becomes more likely. This orbiting base station would serve as an Ellis Island for Mars. Then using fast supply vehicles that do not have the unneeded weight of reentry engines and shielding for round trip resupply and transfer of mined minerals would improve conditions and speed development.
6th June, 2012 @ 4:55 a.m. (California Time)
Why Mars? What is the point? What is on Mars that I'm unaware of? This is a publicity stunt for sure. You'd have to be insane to actually want to go.
6th June, 2012 @ 5:26 a.m. (California Time)
Certain death & living indoors for the rest of your life. Any volunteers?
p.s. - they forgot the rover that autonomously brings back ice blocks from the poles for use in the settlement. Got to be cheaper than sending water to them.
Maybe some 70+ ex scientists who have no family left would like to go. As a place to live Mars would totally suck.
6th June, 2012 @ 10:44 a.m. (California Time)
The people who brave the frontier are not understood by most the people they leave behind. Crazy there the ones who keep planting their faces at the sight of the nobility.
6th June, 2012 @ 11:13 a.m. (California Time)
2023: that's only 11 years away. That's NOTHING and there's NO WAY,in that short space of time they would have enough time or resources to even BEGIN to build the mission. It's a HUGE undertaking. What protection is offered these "astronauts" from the elements? A little metal space capsule that will be crushed by the first meteor that hits it?
Don't forget- they don't burn up in the atmosphere like earth meteors. Then there's the ever-present dust storms that are more massive and wild than ANYTHING we have ever experienced on this planet. Oh. Not to mention the tornadoes etc.etc.etc. You can't prepare people on earth for a mission to Mars. Those people will need to have had stringent military training and be prepared to die. This is a suicide mission.
6th June, 2012 @ 10:13 p.m. (California Time)
re: Anthony Collett
I'm afraid "Crazy there the ones who keep planting their faces at the sight of the nobility. " has been lost in translation!
Regardless, there is nothing on the rock. I'm not against space exploration, I wish I could go, just think this is a naff idea.
7th June, 2012 @ 2:07 a.m. (California Time)
re; Anthony Collett
I have ancestors that left the estate, snuck across borders, took a tiny leaky boat across the big angry ocean, trekked across desolate wastelands and mountains and braved hostile natives for a chance of freedom rather than stay safely a slave... I mean serf.
How much equipment do you think it is necessary to bring? A dozen Falcon heavy launches (or the equivalent) could be enough assuming you are going to live off the land rather than have every breath of air, every drop of water, every bite of food, and bit of habitat brought from earth.
Martian dust storms pale in significance when compared to sand storms. Martian winds might be fast but they are awfully thin.
7th June, 2012 @ 2:12 p.m. (California Time)
I guess I would question the roadmap from a logistical standpoint. The first supply of food will land on the planet on 2016? And then the recon rover will arrive to determine where to set the camp up? Wouldn't it make more sense to find a location first, and then start bringing in supplies? This seems like a planning error, which makes me wonder about the other thought that has\has not gone into this venture.
7th June, 2012 @ 4:25 p.m. (California Time)
more re; paulgo
There is a difference between a suicide mission and a mission that lasts a lifetime. This is the latter. The hope is to die of old age.
7th June, 2012 @ 6:25 p.m. (California Time)
Some parts of this plan remind me of the crazier ideas for getting to the Moon back in the 60s. There was even a plan to just drop a big nuke on the near side, so it would be visible from Earth, just to prove they could. Then they swapped out the nuke for three astronauts, and the rest is history.
My point is that a lot of this is going to make more sense in hindsight.
8th June, 2012 @ 6:59 a.m. (California Time)
@Kris Lee, "Every two years, a group of four more astronauts is scheduled to land near the base and expand the settlement, bringing new supplies and progressively making the community more autonomous from Earth. Mars One says it will continue to send at least four new members every two years, until the population becomes 40 strong.
Then, Mars One speculates, if everything is going according to plan, a new village might be created at a different location on Mars. Eventually, in the distant future, the local population might reach the numbers necessary to build its own rocket and allow some of the astronauts to come back to Earth, if they so wished."
Even if we spent the extra money in fuel to send component pieces and a full tool kit, complete with exploded diagrams and explicit directions, over a series of years, Hell will freeze over before Big Brother Mars contestants could build it, fuel it, and fly it home, land it, and survive it. So Yes, they might as well be making a hammer from sand.
As for roofing the brick building, that is simple. Simply set bricks as blocks of ice are used in an igloo. The walls ARE the roof.
8th June, 2012 @ 9:34 p.m. (California Time)
I am seeing WAAAAAY to many negative responses to this suggestion. While it may need a lot more thought put into it, the basic concept is good.
To paraphrase something I read a long time ago; “Pioneering is finding new ways to die.” Now on the surface that statement is a bit negative. If you look at history you will see that large population groups picked up stakes and left where they were to find new homes. This started when mankind started to leave Africa and not just the movement from Europe to the Americas. These people would be true pioneers. They braved hostile environments, animals, and other human tribes that didn’t want them there or passing through their territory. Moving from their home planet to another to begin a new life there. You would have way more freedom to expand your knowledge and abilities than you do here on Earth.
Mars is covered with Iron Oxide, which makes the planet appear red. Iron Oxide is basically unrefined steel. There are ways to start somewhat small and make bigger and bigger tools. Some of the machines can also be used to make fuel for the rovers and Oxygen to breath. And I am talking about very simple machines with few, if any moving parts. If you look at my earlier comment you will find a book listed. Read it and discover a way to “live off the land.”
As for growing their own food.
Take seeds along with to be grown in either hydroponic trays of directly in the Martian soil. If you take fertilized frozen fish eggs, then you could set up a set of tanks to raise the fish in and use the water from the tanks to irrigate your vegetables. And before anyone wants to complain about the idea, it is being done here on Earth at this time.
If I was young enough to go I’d leap at the chance. As for the negative people, If everyone listened to you and your negative attitude we would still be living in caves and hunting meat with clubs.
9th June, 2012 @ 6:05 p.m. (California Time)
JMOdom, every one of you pioneers could breath if they made a mistake, or just gave up. In this case, failure does not mean death is possible. It means death is assured. Why not try this project on the ocean floor first, before we complicate it even further. At least on the sea floor, oxygen and hydrogen could be split from seawater, food is available if the shuttle is late, and help is not out of the question if the need arises. Maybe iron out a few bugs before taking the concept to another world.
11th June, 2012 @ 5:30 p.m. (California Time)
First Point: You can extract Oxygen from carbon dioxide.
Second Point: Depending on your depth will depend on the pressure that you have to try and move around in. The farther down the more pressure.
On Mars you can limit the eternal pressure in your suit to about 5 P.S.I., which was used on the earlier space missions. If you get a rip in your suit you can slap a sticky patch on it to temporarily seal it until you can get back into your pressurized rover or help from your partner. Yes a buddy system is best for working outside the habitats
A rip in a diving suit, especially on the deeper diving suits, means that you are going to get a jet of water hitting you. If you haven’t ever seen what a high pressure water jet can do in cutting something then you have missed a lot. ;High pressure water jets have been used from cleaning crud off of other things to cutting metal blocks. A high pressure water jet hitting you, say in the leg, means that you more than likely lose a leg let alone the prospect of drowning.
Third Point: You take along seeds for growing your own food. You can maybe also take along fertilized, frozen fish eggs to grow fish in tanks for a meat source. As for getting your food from the ocean, well after all the junk that has been dumped into it over the years, I’d be very leery of what I’d catch and eat from there.
Fourth (and final) Point: we both see things differently and just have to agree to disagree. I’d love to be able to live on a planet that has only .38 percent of Earth’s gravity.
12th June, 2012 @ 5 p.m. (California Time)
JMOdom, I am not suggesting this be run in the Trench. You could run the trial in a navy drydock. It does not need to be deep to be isolated. 10 feet would do it. And yes, I am familiar with the physics of water pressure and cutting techniques.
I am aware of the fact you can extract oxygen from Carbon Dioxide, You can also extract gold from seawater, it's just not cost effective to do so.
As for fish eggs and seeds, of course you would take whatever you can to grow more food, or did you expect to dig it from the mars surface? Gravity is just one factor, but it could cause a problem with the development of the food as it grows, That is still an unproven factor. The radiation could cause a problem as well.
Unexpected problems are a fact of life. A few years ago there was a problem with the deployment of a solar panel or solar sail in space, because no one thought to put a single nut on the other side of a flange so it's motion could be reversed when it stuck partly open, and it was way too far away to be corrected after the fact.
Or perhaps you are familiar with the problems with the Hubble Telescope? Or Skylab?
Or listen to the tapes from Nasa, when they refer the the atmosphere getting a little thick? They are talking about problems with the floating bits of feces and urine.
If reduced gravity is your only concern, then take a ride on the Vomit Comet, it is used to teach people about freefall.
And as for the ocean being a food source, are you kidding me? It is the largest source of food on this planet.
12th June, 2012 @ 11:11 p.m. (California Time)
Try reading a book be Robert Zubrin called “The Case For Mars” It describes ways and means to not only get to Mars and live off the land, but also how to be able to return. It was copyrighted in 1996. The book also looks into some of your arguments, especially the radiation ones.
The tech from that is now 16 years old. If it could have been done then, it can be done now.
Yes I understand all of your points. From my point of view, you seem to be one of the people that don’t want any extraterrestrial exploration. If we were to be living on Mars, with a self sustaining colony, there wouldn’t be as much chance of losing the whole human race if the Earth was hit by an asteroid. (Like what killed the dinosaurs.)
Two other points I missed the other day; 1) there were indications of water in the soil samples taken in to be analyzed. So there is a fairly good possibility that wells could be drilled to find sub-surface water. 2) Mars atmosphere will protect from some of the radiation, while making the Mars bases below ground will help delete the rest. As a side note, You are still getting a dose of radiation everyday you are alive here on Earth. And some radiation is needed for a human to survive.
I don’t think we will ever agree on the outcome of this discussion. You have your views and I have mine.
13th June, 2012 @ 3:45 p.m. (California Time)
What a brilliant idea!!!
And for all those individuals writing negative comments, just think back 500 years. Anyone who has even the slightest interest in history will be aware of the challenges faced during the early stages of globalization (often refereed to colonization). Throughout this period ships of men and women set out and spread civilization throughout the world in the most appalling conditions and facing considerably poor odds of success.
It could be very easily argued that these potential astronauts are still leagues ahead in terms of safety and well being.
Maybe we are all just too brain washed these days to think that there is more to life than a house in the burbs and children. Whoever wins this competition and participates in this project would become legend. Just think Christopher Columbus, Neil Armstrong etc. Fundamentally life is just one big adventure, it just depends on how you want to live it!
I salute the guys behind this project for the ambition and imagination. Just like the inspiration of 500 years ago, again it is time for humanity to take that next step forward and spread life throughout the stars!!!
13th June, 2012 @ 7:46 p.m. (California Time)
"Try reading a book be Robert Zubrin called “The Case For Mars” It describes ways and means to not only get to Mars and live off the land, but also how to be able to return. It was copyrighted in 1996. The book also looks into some of your arguments, especially the radiation ones." I will look into it, when I have time.
From my point of view, you seem to be one of the people that don’t want any extraterrestrial exploration." Assumption not based in fact.
" If we were to be living on Mars, with a self sustaining colony, there wouldn’t be as much chance of losing the whole human race if the Earth was hit by an asteroid. (Like what killed the dinosaurs.)" It will be a hell of a long time before there will be a sufficient genepool to offset that risk. And the money could be better spent fixing what is broken here at home. I am not adverse to expansion, but I don't want stupid mistakes killing people, even Gameshow contestants. Find the flaws here, under controlled conditions, before launching this Ark. Or it will be some simple, unforeseen glitch, that kills them all.
"Mars atmosphere will protect from some of the radiation, while making the Mars bases below ground will help delete the rest. As a side note, You are still getting a dose of radiation everyday you are alive here on Earth. And some radiation is needed for a human to survive." You can not DELETE radiation, but you can shield against it. And radiation is needed for humans to mutate, and absorb nutrients properly, I am aware of the health risks and benefits.
The risk of an asteroid has been with us for a long time, and while it's a real threat, It is not something that weighs on my mind like paying the overdue medical bills, or short hours on paychecks. It is a remote threat that pales when compared to the threat of a paycheck to paycheck existence.
I was raised, you take care of your own first, then take care of the rest.
13th June, 2012 @ 9:28 p.m. (California Time)
Thank you for some positive input on the subject.
“I was raised, you take care of your own first, then take care of the rest.” A lot of the early pioneers as “BanjirCepat” has stated faced appalling conditions. A whole lot of them died. The ones that were pioneers mostly moved to the new world to get a better life for themselves and their families. And if they could afford it in a few years, they sent for the rest of their families to come live with them.
“From my point of view, you seem to be one of the people that don’t want any extraterrestrial exploration." Assumption not based in fact.” Actually assumption based on what has been said in the comments section.
You also raised the point of using an underwater testing facility. No matter what depth you use (be it deep or shallow) the water will provide way more resistance to movement than an atmospheric environment.
“It will be a hell of a long time before there will be a sufficient gene pool to offset that risk. And the money could be better spent fixing what is broken here at home. I am not adverse to expansion, but I don't want stupid mistakes killing people, even Game show contestants.” The more people that are sent increases the gene pool. Last time I looked at the figures it would take about 10,000 people to have a big enough gene pool to be self sufficient and not get inbred.
“Find the flaws here, under controlled conditions, before launching this Ark. Or it will be some simple, unforeseen glitch that kills them all.” There will always be some sort of glitch in anything mechanical. It is the simplest things that go wrong, even here on Earth, that cause accidents that can and do kill people. You simply cannot prevent all accidents or mechanical failures.
In Robert Zubrin’s book “The Case For Mars” he addresses some of the following items: Radiation Hazards, Zero Gravity, Human Factors, Dust Storms, Back Contamination.
While I think that the exploration of Mars should be carried out in a fairly controlled manner, I do have my reservations about a TV company and “TV show contestants”.
I still believe we will never see eye-to-eye on this subject, but you are always going to find people that are willing to risk everything on the chance for a new and better life.
14th June, 2012 @ 1:56 p.m. (California Time)
JMOdom, "the early pioneers as “BanjirCepat” has stated faced appalling conditions. A whole lot of them died." All the more reason to do a mock up or trial run here under controlled conditions.
"“From my point of view, you seem to be one of the people that don’t want any extraterrestrial exploration." Assumption not based in fact.” Actually assumption based on what has been said in the comments section." Well, you know what they say about assumptions.
"You also raised the point of using an underwater testing facility. No matter what depth you use (be it deep or shallow) the water will provide way more resistance to movement than an atmospheric environment." I said nothing about resistance. My point was isolation.
"10,000 people to have a big enough gene pool to be self sufficient and not get inbred." At a rate of 4 new astronauts every two years, plus new children. Care to figure the cost of that many flights, materials wasted, years needed to complete the project to the point it could survive on it's own?
"There will always be some sort of glitch in anything mechanical. It is the simplest things that go wrong, even here on Earth, that cause accidents that can and do kill people. You simply cannot prevent all accidents or mechanical failures." BINGO! GIVE THAT MAN A CIGAR! There will be. So do your best to weed out the most obvious ones while you can. Perhaps you remember a movie (starred Tom Hanks) about the real life problem of even getting parts from OUR NASA program to work together? Air scrubbers and hoses and tanks where nothing fit together enough for our people to breathe? parts from the lander were the wrong shape, and fittings were different? The brightest minds looking at a pile of junk trying to figure out a solution before they all die? And even after a solution is found, THEY STILL HAVE TO GET THE ASTRONAUTS TO DUPLICATE IT on their end before they die? Figure out the problems here first. Standardize the equipment. Make sure components can be combined, altered, reconfigured at need, with the tools provided. That is what dry runs are for. Treat it as a scientific experiment, and test/prove each stage before it is out of reach.
"I still believe we will never see eye-to-eye on this subject, but you are always going to find people that are willing to risk everything on the chance for a new and better life." We have those fools here too, that is what Casinos are for.
I am a student of History, a lover of SciFi, and a fan of technology. And yet Murphy ('s Law) was an optimist.
14th June, 2012 @ 4:52 p.m. (California Time)
i think viewers will need a very strong stomach to watch their favourite characters slowly starve to death or die from some other means, pleading for a rescue which can never come...
17th June, 2012 @ 6:54 p.m. (California Time)
Quite an interesting proposal, it might have a few flaws but nothing that looks terminal. I like the idea of a proper explorer type base being created on Mars - though the 6 billion price tag looks ridiculously small. The basic idea of a one way trip makes the whole thing far more doable. A fairly similar idea has been suggested for NASA missions - the astronauts go to Mars with only enough fuel for one way, they spend a year on Mars and manufacture the fuel their for their return to Earth. -
The biggest problem with the idea though is sticking with the current space technology, a six months of transfer in a tiny pod, bathed in radiation, with a lack of redundancy, space, or safety margins. One of the biggest problems for a mission like this is the severe lack of cargo capacity - just a few tons per trip means real bare margins on everything. I have looked at this problem for years and years and believe there are three-four main tenable options - nuclear pulse engines, high energy nuclear fission engines, nuclear fusion, the fourth outsider is using large scale chemical staging in orbit. In terms of radiation exposure - the best would be fusion, then pulse nuclear, then fission, then large scale chemical - though all are much better than could be achieved with current tech.
Nuclear pulse propulsion is the one everyone laughs at but is actually probably the best and most realistic option. It offers a fast transit of about 40 days plus the grunt to carry hundreds of tons of cargo and heavy radiation shielding plus large and spacious living quarters. - Because of its simplicity it actually has a pretty good safety margin, much better than chemical rockets for instance.
Fission rockets are more complex and with lower mass yields than pulse nuclear but can still achieve a good transit time of 40 days or less. - For gas core reactors (called 'nuclear light bulbs') the safety margins increace, efficiency almost doubles, and the journey time drops to 20 or 30 days.
With fusion of course the problem is making a working engine - especially one with enough power to lift itself into orbit - and such a machine would have to be very large and probably weigh some 50,000 tons. Anyway fusion rockets are probably still 20 or 30 years away, or maybe 10 - 15 years with Apollo type funding - but that's the real problem we're talking about $50 to $100 billion instead of $6. With a working machine though we could be talking about transits of 10 to 20 days and cargo limits of several thousand tons - or hundreds of passengers per mission, plus near total reusability. Fusion rockets would be enablers for manned missions to most of the planets and objects in the solar system - not just Mars...
That forth option large scale chemical staging still has long transit times to Mars, but gives a far larger craft that can weigh several hundred tons with maybe 500 tons of water as radiation shielding - with a total on orbit launch mass of maybe 2000 tons. All that translates into lower radiation and higher safety. The key to the whole thing is a rocket capable of lifting 500 or 1000 tins into orbit - and the idea has been around since the early 1960's. My back of envelope calculation was that it would cost about $50 billion to get this kind of technology up and running for a manned trips to Mars.
Robert Lucien Howe
18th June, 2012 @ 6:02 p.m. (California Time)
How to raise 6 billion dollars? I dunno, tap the top 100 wealthiest people in the world on the shoulder and ask for a few pennies?
8th May, 2013 @ 11:57 a.m. (California Time)
Great article,great concept.
Big risks ,yes but still calculated.
Hope they make it all.
13th May, 2013 @ 7:31 a.m. (California Time)