When SpaceX's Starship is ready to settle Mars, will we be? (op-ed)

Apr 17, 2023
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I can imagine a similar topic being discussed in Europe about the New World before it was settled by Europeans (there were plenty of humans already in the NW). The Roanoke Colony, was a similar cautionary tale about a group that died.

I believe the 1st explorers are going there to try to strike it rich. It is too strong of a human emotion not to be the primary reason.
 
I can understand the want to go. But we are not ready. Not even close. First we need gravity crafts and shielding. Both are needed just for fundamental health. Health has to be a priority for this mission. This is much different than going to a foreign continent. And for whatever number is sent, much more supplies and redundancy will be needed.

Escaping earth will not save mankind. And the knowledge gained is not worth it. Not yet. We can learn so much more now, with far-side moon-base installations. We need to be scanning for space rocks. A direct and present threat to our existence. We have all seen what rocks can do to Jupiter. But we ignore it. And want to go to Mars. What good does our knowledge do us? I see no wisdom in this. Even if we spot one, we have no way to stop it. All we have is supposition. This real danger needs serous attention. This is not something that can be taken care of, when the need arises.

Detection and deflection should be the primary purpose for NASA right now. And years ago.
 
Sep 18, 2023
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Relying on Elon Musk to take us to Mars is utterly ridiculous. He's totally incompetent.

As for Starship, let's see if it can actually reach orbit. I think NASA is starting to realize it's a poor design for a lunar lander, let alone a Mars lander. It's far too tall. NASA scrapped a similar lander concept back in the Apollo development stages for the same reason. It's too dangerous.
 
May 12, 2021
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Think about the engineering challenges of building on Mars. The first consideration for any structure is what? Making a foundation that can support the weight of the structure. Even in Mars’ low gravity this will be paramount. Bad foundation? Your structure sinks into the soil. Think: parking a car on a sandy beach. You don’t want to do that for long periods. To avoid this you need to know the strength of the soil, to a depth of many meters. We won’t be successful in building permanent habitats on Mars until we have deep soil cores and we have measured the soil’s strength.

The first things we need to land on Mars, ahead of a human habitat, are a bulldozer, excavator, earth mover, (earth?), and mobile crane. Multiple landers will target one spot to land. But they will likely be tens of meters, or hundreds of meters distant from the other landers. Especially SpaceX with the powerful retro rockets that will push dirt away as they land. Dirt, mind you. Unless we mix concrete and pave a landing pad ahead of time? But then, we don’t know how to mix Martian concrete. Does anyone want to ship concrete from Earth to Mars? Would it work?

So multiple habitats will need to be relocated after they land on Mars. That will require a mobile crane and good road surfaces. Habitats will need to be buried under soil to protect the occupants from radiation. Earth movers and excavators will be necessary.

Then, what happens when the habitat develops a leak outside? Hydraulic leak, or waste water leak, or worse, a leak of breathing air? A buried habitat will be difficult to access the exterior to make repairs. You’ll have to dig down and find the problems.

What would leaking liquids do to the strength of Martian soil? After desiccating for billions of years, I suspect that small drops into the Martian soil would seriously change its physical properties of the soil. The density and strength would likely change a lot. How deep would it affect the soil? How would that affect the foundation of the habitat? What would happen if the structure differentially tilts? Are habitats connected by airtight passages? Would those bend?

We’ll need to work out all these little details, and many more. Before anyone can permanently live on Mars.
 
Feb 12, 2020
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There is nothing on Mars for humans except grim death. The same is true for all other locations in the Universe other than Earth. The Universe was created and configured to produce a single place, i.e. Earth, to be habitable for life. There is no other habitable location in the Universe. The astrophysical evidence for this fact has become overwhelming. Life was seeded on Earth, culminating in advanced human life. The purpose of human lives is to serve as search engines here on Earth. Humans search for Truth, Beauty, Life, Love, Peace, Justice, and other good things. The results of these searches will be used by the Creator to create and configure other improved universes and advanced life forms, where the cycle of searching and improving will continue. We should continue to provide resources for advanced research here on Earth, and abandon the wastefulness of human space travel.
 
Reading the article about Crispr changes to human genetics and artificial wombs, etc. makes me wonder how many experimental human "mistakes" will end-up in tragic circumstances. We are playing with tools that can make changes that we still do not really understand. It is just recently that scientists have realized that what they used to call "junk DNA" is actually serving various purposes related to how the other DNA (not considered "junk") is expressed in the development and functions of humans. And "the majority" of our DNA is what they considered to be "junk".

My expectation is that people who are unaltered, but selected for physical and mental abilities, will be the crews of scientific missions to Mars as the first step. Whether that leads to a desire for others to try to develop a self-sustaining colony there will depend a lot on what the first scientists actually find.
 
Sep 18, 2023
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Think about the engineering challenges of building on Mars. The first consideration for any structure is what? Making a foundation that can support the weight of the structure. Even in Mars’ low gravity this will be paramount. Bad foundation? Your structure sinks into the soil. Think: parking a car on a sandy beach. You don’t want to do that for long periods. To avoid this you need to know the strength of the soil, to a depth of many meters. We won’t be successful in building permanent habitats on Mars until we have deep soil cores and we have measured the soil’s strength.

The first things we need to land on Mars, ahead of a human habitat, are a bulldozer, excavator, earth mover, (earth?), and mobile crane. Multiple landers will target one spot to land. But they will likely be tens of meters, or hundreds of meters distant from the other landers. Especially SpaceX with the powerful retro rockets that will push dirt away as they land. Dirt, mind you. Unless we mix concrete and pave a landing pad ahead of time? But then, we don’t know how to mix Martian concrete. Does anyone want to ship concrete from Earth to Mars? Would it work?

So multiple habitats will need to be relocated after they land on Mars. That will require a mobile crane and good road surfaces. Habitats will need to be buried under soil to protect the occupants from radiation. Earth movers and excavators will be necessary.

Then, what happens when the habitat develops a leak outside? Hydraulic leak, or waste water leak, or worse, a leak of breathing air? A buried habitat will be difficult to access the exterior to make repairs. You’ll have to dig down and find the problems.

What would leaking liquids do to the strength of Martian soil? After desiccating for billions of years, I suspect that small drops into the Martian soil would seriously change its physical properties of the soil.
Reading the article about Crispr changes to human genetics and artificial wombs, etc. makes me wonder how many experimental human "mistakes" will end-up in tragic circumstances. We are playing with tools that can make changes that we still do not really understand. It is just recently that scientists have realized that what they used to call "junk DNA" is actually serving various purposes related to how the other DNA (not considered "junk") is expressed in the development and functions of humans. And "the majority" of our DNA is what they considered to be "junk".

My expectation is that people who are unaltered, but selected for physical and mental abilities, will be the crews of scientific missions to Mars as the first step. Whether that leads to a desire for others to try to develop a self-sustaining colony there will depend a lot on what the first scientists actually find.

The density and strength would likely change a lot. How deep would it affect the soil? How would that affect the foundation of the habitat? What would happen if the structure differentially tilts? Are habitats connected by airtight passages? Would those bend?

We’ll need to work out all these little details, and many more. Before anyone can permanently live on Mars.

The biggest challenge of space "colonization" will be the acquiescence that its achievement will require site specific, re-engineering of the "colonists". It is unlikely that these creatures will even remotely resemble Captain Kirk and his crew. Technology will prove the least of our concerns.
 
The biggest challenge of space "colonization" will be the acquiescence that its achievement will require site specific, re-engineering of the "colonists". It is unlikely that these creatures will even remotely resemble Captain Kirk and his crew. Technology will prove the least of our concerns.
The Earth billions of years ago did not design life to suit its environment of the time. Life reworked and designed the environment to suit life. In [in-space] colonization we will be designing environments to suit life and facilitate our needs and wants, not the other way around. Life will continue to be inventive and creative with masses, energies, spaces, and time, not trying to fit life to fit into the severe limitations of what is there.
 
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Oct 21, 2019
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The article says "Among the challenges we face on Mars is the scarcity of CO2".
The atmosphere of Mars is 96% CO2 whereas Earth's is only 0.039%. Admittedly the Martian atmosphere is about a hundredth the density of Earth's , but even taking that into account there's still more CO2 in a given volume of Martian atmosphere than the same volume of Earth atmosphere. Perhaps the author meant a scarcity of Oxygen (O2)?
 

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