Mars Direct is Dead?

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darkmatter4brains

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So there was an article on yahoo the other day that said the panel looking into NASA right now for the Obama administration announced that Mars Direct is no longer an option. But, they also said the current funding for NASA is too low to actually reach the Moon by 2020. And, that's it.

So, what does that mean? Are they suggesting that NASA get more funding from Obama and get to the Moon by 2020, or what?

Anybody hear anything beyond this? They must have said more than this ....
 
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JonClarke

Guest
Mars Direct was never really "live" in that sense. It was never a NASA project, let alone a program. Mars Direct was an independent mission proposal that has been extensively reviewed inside and outside. Like all proposals MD has good and bad points, more good than bad on the whole.

Mars Direct was revamped into Mars Semi-Direct, which was the basis of all the mainstream NASA Mars Design reference Missions since then (currently at DRM 5.0). It (or its derivative MSD) has also been the basis of a great many other non NASA studies. Even those that take a very different approach and reject all of MD's conclusions still take it into account. Thus MD is arguably the most influential Mars mission proposal ever.

Jon
 
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radarredux

Guest
darkmatter4brains":umvx95y4 said:
Anybody hear anything beyond this? They must have said more than this ....
See Dr. Sally Ride's slides (in PowerPoint) at
http://www.nasa.gov/offices/hsf/meeting ... eting.html

In a nutshell:

When President Bush announced the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE) in 2004 he and NASA made an assumption for a given budget, and NASA developed the exploration plan it is currently implementing (Constellation -- Ares I, Orion capsule, Ares V, Altair Lunar Lander, manned landing on the moon by 2020, ...) with the assumption of that budget.

But under Bush, NASA's budget never came close to what was expected, which led to funding shortfalls, delays, etc.

Now President Obama asked NASA to explore human spaceflight options for an even lower budget, and put together the Augustine Panel to explore and come up with options for the White House.

Dr. Sally Ride's presentation given this last Wednesday basically concluded no meaningful exploration can be done with Obama's proposed budget. The group then explored options for an enhanced budget (although still low). These options are being finalized and will shortly be presented to the White House.

The members of the Augustine Panel did seem much more interested in going to Mars than the Moon, but in general, even with the enhanced budget I don't think any of the options seriously consider landing on the Moon or Mars (i.e., don't go down the gravity well) for at least 20 years.

The video for the last meeting will probably be up in about a week (see link above). I would encourage everyone to watch at least Dr. Sally Ride's presentation. Expect a report around the end of the month.
 
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radarredux

Guest
JonClarke":1qnrp6zy said:
Thus MD is arguably the most influential Mars mission proposal ever.
I think Mars Direct popularized In-Situ Resource Utilization, has really done a good job at popularizing Mars as an important and reachable destination, and and has demonstrated inexpensive testing of a lot of the techniques on the cheap here on Earth. Zubrin may be provocative individual, but his tireless campaigning for MD has made some progress.

I seem to recall before the Columbia accident there was virtually no serious plans to go beyond Low Earth Orbit. Then with the VSE there was the plan to go to Mars (Moon, Mars, and Beyond) but with a long stay on the Moon of at least several years (e.g., building up an outpost/colony on the South Pole, extracting fuel for Mars trips (which as Zubrin points out, is stupid), etc.). Now there seems to be much less emphasis on investing large amounts of time and money on the Moon, and it may be bypassed entirely in favor of Mars.

If more money does materialize down the road, at this point in time I suspect it would be directed to Mars and not an extended Lunar program.

So while "Mars Direct" may be off the table, I think it has shaped the debate and influenced the destination considerably.
 
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mr_mark

Guest
Hi, i think there is reason to hope, not for Mars Direct but for missions to Mars in gerneral. Commercial Space is about to speed things way up when it comes to access and the more access there is, the more probability there is of a Mars mission. Keep on dreaming and hoping, it will happen.
 
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JonClarke

Guest
radarredux":pe98nnhw said:
Thus MD is arguably the most influential Mars mission proposal ever.
I think Mars Direct popularized In-Situ Resource Utilization, has really done a good job at popularizing Mars as an important and reachable destination, and and has demonstrated inexpensive testing of a lot of the techniques on the cheap here on Earth. Zubrin may be provocative individual, but his tireless campaigning for MD has made some progress.
I think you are right about the popularising of ISRU. The brilliance of MD was not the individual ideas, all the key ones (ISRU, aeroassist, conjunction class missions, chemical only propulsion, spin gravity) having been thought of before, but in combining them to produce a extremely low mass mission with high return and consderable flexibility.

I seem to recall before the Columbia accident there was virtually no serious plans to go beyond Low Earth Orbit. Then with the VSE there was the plan to go to Mars (Moon, Mars, and Beyond) but with a long stay on the Moon of at least several years (e.g., building up an outpost/colony on the South Pole, extracting fuel for Mars trips (which as Zubrin points out, is stupid), etc.). Now there seems to be much less emphasis on investing large amounts of time and money on the Moon, and it may be bypassed entirely in favor of Mars.
VSE never proposed using lunar fuel for Mars, which is not a good idea IMHO. I was about using lunar experience as a platform for Mars, which is. Since the Moon is a worthwhiole and interesting place in its own right I doubt it will ever be bypassed in favour of Mars.

So while "Mars Direct" may be off the table, I think it has shaped the debate and influenced the destination considerably.
I agree

Jon
 
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darkmatter4brains

Guest
radarredux,
thanks, that was the additional info I was looking for.
d4b
 
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MartianSam1

Guest
Mars Direct is only "dead" for one presidential term, at most. That's the nature of NASA being an administration rather than a department or agency. It's goals are often changed at the whims of the administration in charge.

Unfortunately, NASA's overriding goals are not so clear as many other government agencies. NASA is still NASA regardless as to its destination, or lack thereof, or its efficiency in getting there. It should not in the long term be a destination-driven agency because it has floundered once that destination is reached (see Apollo). The moon was pretty ambitious in 1959, but once it was reached, it became a bloated make-work program. NASA should have an overall thrust of solar system exploration and spacefairing that is then broken down into destination-driven programs that last between four and twenty years, with the next destination in full view while those programs go forward, and with side-trips possible in that technology envelope (Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz). Destination-driven programs lead to efficiency since technologies that are nice-to-have or someone's pet project can be rejected if they do not build on a given goal.

One scalding fact about this commission is that they are grading programs in part on how many jobs are kept, which basically means that if the future program is less bloated than the Shuttle program it won't be selected. That pretty much means that 20 years from now, we'll have a workforce doing the equivalent of gluing tiles on shuttles rather than touching new worlds.
 
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deagleninja

Guest
Mars Direct was never alive truth be told.

Going to the Moon or Mars only makes sense if you send permanent colonists. Crew rotations and constant resupply missions are what make such ventures costly, and ultimately impossible for a government run organization such as NASA to maintain on its unreliable budget.

Since NASA has never been in the business of colonizing worlds (and never will be) anyone holding their breaths in hopes for a manned mission to Mars is in for a long wait indeed.

Only two scenarios have the possibility of getting people on Mars:
1) Another nationalistic pride race similar to the Cold War, but such motivation evaporates after the first successful mission.
or
2) Profit motive.

And as far as I can see with my limited 2009 perspective, the only possible profit motive for Mars would have to be tourism. In fifty years I believe we will see the first manned missions to Mars, not any sooner.
 
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mikecrane

Guest
I know your all going to hate me for saying this, but, I agree with expanding the space station before taking on the moon or mars. It just seems logical to me to spend some money modifying the station so that it's capable of supporting private industry.

Not to discredit Virgin Galactic, but, if the best we've done so far is shoot two men in a plastic airplane into space and watch them fall back to earth, private industry has a long way to go before it's ready for the moon.

I feel that the space program and manned space flight will be accelerated by easily reachable destinations, like the space station and NEO's. Not only that, but, once space becomes reachable to private industry and the money starts flowing the industry is going develop rapidly.

Yeah I feel it's a great achievement setting foot on exotic places, but, with the way things are going now, I never will. I would like to go too, as I'm sure most of you would. Wouldn't you rather see your tax dollars going to increase your chances as an individual to be able to go into space?
 
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NoDozRequiem

Guest
It's good to come to sites like this and see like-minded space enthusiasts. "Mars Direct" as discussed by the Augustine Panel, was really a misnomer since the plan as proposed by the Panel as an option did not include setting down on the martian ground. While the so-called "Mars Direct" option supposedly "skips the moon and focuses on the sending astronauts directly to Mars," the option really only gets us to the moon, just with different mission objectives as Space.com reported: "the plan would only send humans to the moon or near-Earth asteroids in order to test hardware for the Mars mission" (http://www.space.com/news/090805-human- ... tions.html).

Bitter sweet though it was, I was able to attend the last panel meeting here in DC, and I noted that Dr. Ed Crawley and Dr. Sally Ride had revised the option name, including on the power point presentations, to "Mars First" rather than "Mars Direct", which is good since it neither reflects getting there directly nor Zubrin's design.

As I sat through that meeting and got the feeling that some of the committee certainly wanted to go to Mars first, despite budgetary constraints, I could not help but wonder why NASA's Design Reference Mission or Zubrin's MD was not listed as an option. There was no mention and it appeared in their desparation that this panel did not even know of Mars Direct. Of course, that could not be the case since Norman Augustine's company initially embraced Mars Direct as its own creation. It simply made (and makes) no sense to me. There are options available that do fit within the current 10 budget.

Of course, doing a little research on the Panel's website left me even more confused and frustrated when I learned that Robert Zubrin had, in fact, presented testimony regarding Mars Direct and a vision for the future of human space flight to the committee in a public hearing on August 5th in DC at the Carnegie Institute of Science (and I'm kicking myself for not attending this one).

Anyway, perhaps someone on here has had better luck or is simply more knowledable regarding the reasoning behind the comittees apparent complete dismissal of Zubrin's presentations 7 days prior to their own the 12th. I submitted a question to the Panel's Q&A section about a week ago regarding Mars Direct and NASA's Design Reference Plan as I was unable to find anything in that section about it. A day later a question was posted, though rephrased and narrowed in scope, to the "Old Mars Direct approach." In with the new and out with the old I suppose. I detected a bit of bias in how they chose to post the question. I would have rather the question posted addressed NASA's Design Reference Mission which were, obviously, more acceptable to the NASA establishment than the original Mars Direct architecture. I wanted to hear from the committee why this architecture will not work as it is currently articulated--or at least why they think it won't work. I've yet to get an answer.

Anyway, if you're interested, go to http://hsf.nasa.gov/qa.php and to "Keyword Search". Type in "Mars Direct" and vote up this question to increase its chances of getting answered.
 
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NoDozRequiem

Guest
deagleninja":22ga5vpb said:
Mars Direct was never alive truth be told.

Going to the Moon or Mars only makes sense if you send permanent colonists. Crew rotations and constant resupply missions are what make such ventures costly, and ultimately impossible for a government run organization such as NASA to maintain on its unreliable budget.

Since NASA has never been in the business of colonizing worlds (and never will be) anyone holding their breaths in hopes for a manned mission to Mars is in for a long wait indeed.

Only two scenarios have the possibility of getting people on Mars:
1) Another nationalistic pride race similar to the Cold War, but such motivation evaporates after the first successful mission.
or
2) Profit motive.

And as far as I can see with my limited 2009 perspective, the only possible profit motive for Mars would have to be tourism. In fifty years I believe we will see the first manned missions to Mars, not any sooner.
--------------------------
1) I don't think we'll have to worry about nationalist pride race. I think most Americans are too apathetic to let a silly thing like pride motivate them to accomplish great things. Besides, you are correct--such superficial motivations evaporate quickly after success. If we go, we should go to stay--colonize? Maybe. Eventually. But definitely to stay--as in continued exploration and scientific investigation.

2) Profit motive: Tourism? I don't think we'll see space tourism boom any time soon. My hope is for VG and other startups but I'm not holding my breath. Save a break through in breaking free of the bonds of gravity, I think such tourism will remain the destination for only millionaires.

Of course, there is deuterium on Mars and more abundantly so than on earth. That could possibly provide profit--but I'm not sure if there is a lot of profit to be made so long as our propulsion technologies don't advance sufficiently. Of course, if we never go anywhere there will never be any incentive to invest the large sums of money required to advance such technologies. Necessity is the mother of invention. Mars is a mother something then.
 
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Quasar99

Guest
Well, Mars Direct is a great idea. The Vision for Space Exploration even includes the notion of rockets that could use fuel made from materials on the Martian surface.

As we have seen lately, however, there are very few resources on the lunar surface for fuel. We may be able to harvest oxygen from the rocks, but there definitely doesn't seem to be any water for the astronauts while they are working. Perhaps something will "turn up" when the LCROSS spacecraft now orbiting the Moon drops its lower stage onto the lunar surface to excavate a trench while the orbiter images the aftermath. The recent Japanese and Indian satellites, however, indicate that there probably is no water near the lunar surface, even in the permanently shadowed craters. the Moon is a great place for science, especially the far side radio astronomy (that's a long service call for a repairman - and they DO charge by the hour!). The L5 society's notion of harvesting lunar materials to fabricate solar power satellite for Earth orbit does seem a bit far-fetched. This implies an incredibly pristine "clean room" environment that is hard to maintain on Earth, let alone in a space environment. Also, we have learned that the lunar dust is extremely sharp-edged and that some of the Apollo astronaut's moon suits came close to having an air leak from the abrasive dust Yikes!
 
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Quasar99

Guest
Mars: A One-Way Trip

As for Mars, I kind of like the scenarios presented in the Red Mars/Green Mars/ Blue mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson - sci-fi author who really did his homework. In that book, after the US launch a single man to the surface of Mars (around 2019 I think), the next trip was a massive one-way trip made by 100 people (50/50 men women) to permanently settle on Mars based on huge amounts of living supplies and habitats sent to Mars in advance. I calculated from the book that the youngest person in that original 100 was born around 1986. The idea was that for economic reasons a round trip was just not feasible so the group trained together in Antarctica for a few years to see if they would be compatible (which they sort of weren't as it plays out).

It's also good to reflect on the experiences of the Biosphere II experiment in the 1980's in which several men and women agreed to live in a totally sealed environment for almost two years. It was billed, unfortunately, as a science experiment when it really was more of an engineering demonstration. By an amazing stroke of good luck, I was an engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (I still am) who through a mutual friend managed to tag along on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Biosphere only six weeks before it was sealed up with the first crew. Our tour guide was a "back-up" team member who got to join at the last moment when a prime crew member got ill (bummer!). On that same trip we also had Buzz Aldrin along as a fellow "observer" – a very smart and interesting guy. As it turned out, Biosphere II had to crack its seals and replenish the oxygen levels after several months because the CO2 levels were rising faster than the plants could re-circulate it. The oxygen levels actually dropped to levels of about an 8000-ft altitude - not bad but not too healthy. Actually someone did a great study some years later - in which he proved that the CO2 levels really should have been many times higher. The Case of the missing CO2? - it got absorbed into the hundreds of tons of concrete walls and floors in the complex, actually making it quite brittle and susceptible to cracking.


Not to say that we would build a Mars base out of concrete (takes too much water), just that Mother Nature can throw you some real surprises. Remember it was only about six months ago that the International Space Station officially switched on its equipment to re-circulate the occupants’ urine back into drinking water. My approach for a Mars mission would be to throw a lot of extra equipment there along with and ahead of the astronauts (who at the point probably will be Chinese) and let them use some innovation to survive within the environment, as one of the Red Mars settler splinter groups did. This January JPL celebrated the fifth anniversary on Mars for the rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Their Chief Scientist noted that for all the great things we have accomplished there remotely from Earth, what the rovers have accomplished in 5-1/2 years could probably be done by a reasonably capable person in a week or so. That’s the leverage of sending people, just as moonwalker and scientist Harrison Schmidt made some remarkable discoveries by noticing orange dust near a crater at their landing site.

Bottom Line: Save up your pennies and send a bunch people for a very long (perhaps permanent) stay to Mars (not just one 26-month cycle of launch opportunities). I don’t think there would be any shortage of volunteers.
 
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PA_Newbie

Guest
Until someone can find a financially profitable reason to go to the Moon, Mars, or any other spot in the solar system, the manned space program is going to live on life support, at best. While we are interested parties who may feel differently, the majority of the general public (and thus, politicians) simply will not support space exploration simply for the sake of science.

Profit can be in the form of raw materials which can be obtained, or in the form of land that can be colonized. Right now, scientists cannot find a raw material on any world that cannot be far more cheaply obtained on the earth, and the technology simply doesn't exist to colonize these extremely hostile worlds in a reasonable timeframe, in any sort of financially advantageous manner.

Until this situation changes, the space program will move ahead at a snail's pace, if at all. We're not likely to see manned Mars exploration for another 50 years at this pace.
 
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Geoduck2

Guest
The question boils down to money. A couple of years ago I was listening to a BBC program where they were talking to a british author who had written a book on the Apollo program and the astronauts that took part. He said something I found very profound. It was <to paraphrase> Every administration since Kennedy has wanted to be the leader in space. To do great things. But then they look at the summs and the idea is quietly dropped.

Nixon let Apollo die when they had at least three more rockets built. Reagan talked about several initiatives but they never happened. Bush I talked about moving ahead in space as did Clinton. Nothing came of it. Bush II had his bold Moon/Mars speech that announced the Ares/Constellation program. Like the rest he found that it would cost was more than he wanted to spend. Now Obama is looking at the space program, and guess what, they are realizing that it would cost more than they are willing to to spend.

Is Mars direct dead? Yes along with the NASA moon mission. Unless the money is at least tripled, and I don't see Obama using his political capitol to push that through, it just isn't going to happen. They don't have the resources to build and fly the equipment they would need to do it. You can't do manned space exploration on the cheep.
 
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Geoduck2

Guest
Re: Mars: A One-Way Trip

Quasar99":2bhuwyd2 said:
...In that book, after the US launch a single man to the surface of Mars (around 2019 I think), the next trip was a massive one-way trip made by 100 people (50/50 men women) to permanently settle on Mars based on huge amounts of living supplies and habitats sent to Mars in advance. ...Bottom Line: Save up your pennies and send a bunch people for a very long (perhaps permanent) stay to Mars (not just one 26-month cycle of launch opportunities). I don’t think there would be any shortage of volunteers.
Count me in. I'd love to try something like that. And if I never got back to Earth, no problem
 
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naldr456

Guest
Just my apathetic TCW. We will never do anything really great with space exploration until there is war involved. Our war machine is so huge and hungry that it requires constant feeding by our war mongers at the expense of our social and intelligectual needs. Defense of our country is one thing, tranny is another.

Sign me up for the one way Mars trip. I'm done here.
 
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NoDozRequiem

Guest
Geoduck2":pt7ep922 said:
The question boils down to money. A couple of years ago I was listening to a BBC program where they were talking to a british author who had written a book on the Apollo program and the astronauts that took part. He said something I found very profound. It was <to paraphrase> Every administration since Kennedy has wanted to be the leader in space. To do great things. But then they look at the summs and the idea is quietly dropped.

Nixon let Apollo die when they had at least three more rockets built. Reagan talked about several initiatives but they never happened. Bush I talked about moving ahead in space as did Clinton. Nothing came of it. Bush II had his bold Moon/Mars speech that announced the Ares/Constellation program. Like the rest he found that it would cost was more than he wanted to spend. Now Obama is looking at the space program, and guess what, they are realizing that it would cost more than they are willing to to spend.

Is Mars direct dead? Yes along with the NASA moon mission. Unless the money is at least tripled, and I don't see Obama using his political capitol to push that through, it just isn't going to happen. They don't have the resources to build and fly the equipment they would need to do it. You can't do manned space exploration on the cheep.
I would love to see NASA have more funding. When I had the opportunity to attend the panel discussion last Wednesday, Bohdan Bejmuk made an important point--given the dismal outlook provided by all the committee's options due to a lack of funding, then it seems like the Panel should be addressing a completely different problem: funding. I agree, if none of the options look viable from a budgetary standpoint, perhaps the charter should have been such that the primary goal of this panel was to explore "options" to generate the funding that would make it possible to sustain human space flight--the kind of human space flight that is worthy of the risks of space exploration.


Of course, that's only part of the problem. The other part of the problem is how the money is spent and the bureaucracy mentality which creates its own problems and monetary contraints. On Aug. 5th, Robert Zubrin's presentation in front of the Panel at the Carnegie Institute of Science in DC pointed up the fact that NASA's budget from 1961-1973 and its budget from 1997 through today, adjusted to reflect today's monetary values, is, on average, about the same. The Design Reference Mission, NASA's modified version of R. Zubrin's Mars Direct, was subjected to the same cost analsysis that doomed the earlier $450 billion 90 Day Report--only the DRM came in at $55 billion and could be accomplished over a 10 year period. That requires no new funding. It can be accomplished within NASA's current budget. What it does require is that everyone's pet technology not be mission critical to ensure inclusiveness.

I realize I'm asking for too much. When has decision making in DC ever made sense?
 
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crazyeddie

Guest
Re: Mars: A One-Way Trip

Quasar99":l807eb77 said:
Bottom Line: Save up your pennies and send a bunch people for a very long (perhaps permanent) stay to Mars (not just one 26-month cycle of launch opportunities). I don’t think there would be any shortage of volunteers.
And if it turns out that living in a reduced gravitational field for long periods of time causes irreparable health consequences, what then? Those people would be doomed, or at least severely handicapped. (Of course, if I was offered a berth, I'd still jump at the chance!)

I'd like to see an orbiting space station/colony that studies the long-term effects of low gravity on the human body. If we can't stay healthy in low-gravity environments, it sort of makes the whole idea of colonizing Mars moot.
 
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NoDozRequiem

Guest
Re: Mars: A One-Way Trip

crazyeddie":26wboam6 said:
Quasar99":26wboam6 said:
Bottom Line: Save up your pennies and send a bunch people for a very long (perhaps permanent) stay to Mars (not just one 26-month cycle of launch opportunities). I don’t think there would be any shortage of volunteers.
And if it turns out that living in a reduced gravitational field for long periods of time causes irreparable health consequences, what then? Those people would be doomed, or at least severely handicapped. (Of course, if I was offered a berth, I'd still jump at the chance!)

I'd like to see an orbiting space station/colony that studies the long-term effects of low gravity on the human body. If we can't stay healthy in low-gravity environments, it sort of makes the whole idea of colonizing Mars moot.
Currently we already have a $100 billion orbiting space station where such effects can, have, and are being studied. The result: microgravity is bad. It's bad for bones, muscle, our immune systems. We've observed ill health effects of astronauts continuously now for years on the ISS (for about 6 month stays--or about the transit time to Mars) as well as longer stays on MIR (up to a year).

Continuing to subject human beings to what we already know are deleterious effects of microgravity in order to "study the deleterious effects of microgravity" becomes ethically questionable at some point. We can continue to study this problem while also actually accomplishing something--like exploration. It seems almost unethical to subject astronauts to these ill effects, have them travel millions of miles, and never actually go any further than a couple hundred miles from earth. Let's send them somewhere worthy of the risks of human space flight.

One of the advantages of the Mars Direct/Design Reference Mission is that both architectures incorporated artificial gravity induced by rotating the crew Hab about the burnt out upper stage, attached by a tether of approximately 1000-1500 feet at about 1-2rpm, inducing about 1/3 gravity. This is convenient since this is the equivalent of Mars' gravity. Thus, these astronauts would already have an advantage over their ISS counterparts who are subjected to virtually "zero" gravity for 6 months at a time. Further mitigated by the same rigorous exercise routines and dietary supplements as their ISS counterparts, this crew would be in relatively good condition upon landing on Mars. After returning to earth, there would be recovery time required, but nothing too extreme.

Of course, your question about colonizing is a pertinent one. Perhaps such an endeavor is not possible. Perhaps we will always be restricted to years long sorties rather than permanent habitation of worlds with less gravity than our own. I think this question will best be answered as we explore new worlds and gain valuable scientific knowledge in other areas at the same time.
 
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Quasar99

Guest
Gravity is a problem for Mars dwellers. It's at 40% of Earth weight, so if you are 200 lbs on earth, live several years on Mars getting used to weighig only 80 lbs, it would be very hard to go back to 1.0 gravity.

In fact, that situation came up in the Red Mars/Green Mars/Blue Mars trilogy. One person didn't go down to Mars at all but helped staff a base on Phobos. After awhile he couldn't even go down to Mars. Then there were people who spent 25+ years on Mars and when they did go back to Earth for awhile, they had to be practically suspended in stretchers!
 
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JonClarke

Guest
MartianSam1":7vzwmhlv said:
Mars Direct is only "dead" for one presidential term, at most. That's the nature of NASA being an administration rather than a department or agency. It's goals are often changed at the whims of the administration in charge.
MD was never a NASA goal. MD was a single paper done 18 years ago. It had good and bad points, and has been superceded by more recent work.

Unfortunately, NASA's overriding goals are not so clear as many other government agencies. NASA is still NASA regardless as to its destination, or lack thereof, or its efficiency in getting there. It should not in the long term be a destination-driven agency because it has floundered once that destination is reached (see Apollo).
NASA did not flounder once the Moon was reached.

The moon was pretty ambitious in 1959, but once it was reached, it became a bloated make-work program.
The Moon was not a goal in 1959. NASA is not a make work program.

NASA should have an overall thrust of solar system exploration and spacefairing that is then broken down into destination-driven programs that last between four and twenty years, with the next destination in full view while those programs go forward, and with side-trips possible in that technology envelope (Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz). Destination-driven programs lead to efficiency since technologies that are nice-to-have or someone's pet project can be rejected if they do not build on a given goal.
I suggest you lobby your representatives to change the NASA mandate then.

One scalding fact about this commission is that they are grading programs in part on how many jobs are kept, which basically means that if the future program is less bloated than the Shuttle program it won't be selected. That pretty much means that 20 years from now, we'll have a workforce doing the equivalent of gluing tiles on shuttles rather than touching new worlds.
You have no evidence to support this assertion.

Jon
 
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JonClarke

Guest
deagleninja":1mgpumxq said:
Mars Direct was never alive truth be told.
Of course not, it is a concept, not a program.

Going to the Moon or Mars only makes sense if you send permanent colonists. Crew rotations and constant resupply missions are what make such ventures costly, and ultimately impossible for a government run organization such as NASA to maintain on its unreliable budget.
There are plenty to good reasons to go to the Moon and Mars without settlement. We have been exploring Antarctica and the ocean floors for more than a century without colonisation.

Colonisation won't happen until we know whether it is possible. That won't happen until we have had a long history of exploration and surface stations.

Only two scenarios have the possibility of getting people on Mars:
1) Another nationalistic pride race similar to the Cold War, but such motivation evaporates after the first successful mission.
or
2) Profit motive.
Most deep ocean and polar exploration has been motivated by science and technology development. Sometimes there are nationalistic overtones, sometimes means of commerical gain are discovered. But you don't need purely nationalistic motivations or the profit motive. Why should the Moon and Mars be different?

Jon
 
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JonClarke

Guest
Re: Mars: A One-Way Trip

Currently we already have a $100 billion orbiting space station where such effects can, have, and are being studied. The result: microgravity is bad. It's bad for bones, muscle, our immune systems. We've observed ill health effects of astronauts continuously now for years on the ISS (for about 6 month stays--or about the transit time to Mars) as well as longer stays on MIR (up to a year).
The record is 14 months. Twenty four people have flown multiple long duration missions with cumulative mission times of a year or more. The longest cumulative time is almost 27 months There are no long term ill effects.

Continuing to subject human beings to what we already know are deleterious effects of microgravity in order to "study the deleterious effects of microgravity" becomes ethically questionable at some point. We can continue to study this problem while also actually accomplishing something--like exploration. It seems almost unethical to subject astronauts to these ill effects, have them travel millions of miles, and never actually go any further than a couple hundred miles from earth. Let's send them somewhere worthy of the risks of human space flight.
There is always need for more research. We still research decompression even though we have known about safe decompression methods for about a century.

Since people have have flown multiple flights without long term ill effects it is not unethical.

One of the advantages of the Mars Direct/Design Reference Mission is that both architectures incorporated artificial gravity induced by rotating the crew Hab about the burnt out upper stage, attached by a tether of approximately 1000-1500 feet at about 1-2rpm, inducing about 1/3 gravity. This is convenient since this is the equivalent of Mars' gravity. Thus, these astronauts would already have an advantage over their ISS counterparts who are subjected to virtually "zero" gravity for 6 months at a time. Further mitigated by the same rigorous exercise routines and dietary supplements as their ISS counterparts, this crew would be in relatively good condition upon landing on Mars. After returning to earth, there would be recovery time required, but nothing too extreme.
There are also disadvantages. It is another technology to be developed, requires a more complex spacecraft, has a mass penality, the physiological effects of spin gravity are unknown and need research, and opertaional experience indcates it is unneccessary. remember when MD was published in 1991 no American had flown for more than 84 days and cold war chauvanism meant that Russian experience (routine flights of 6-12 months) was ignored or belittled.

Of course, your question about colonizing is a pertinent one. Perhaps such an endeavor is not possible. Perhaps we will always be restricted to years long sorties rather than permanent habitation of worlds with less gravity than our own. I think this question will best be answered as we explore new worlds and gain valuable scientific knowledge in other areas at the same time.
Indeed! There is a lot to be learned before we set up a permanant station. Whether it is possible for starters.

Jon
 
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