When will SpaceX put a colony on Mars?  

146 members have voted

  1. 1. When will SpaceX begin putting a colony on Mars?

    • 2026
      12
    • 2028
      9
    • 2030
      21
    • 2032
      10
    • 2034
      6
    • 2036
      12
    • Beyond- i.e. 2038-50
      41
    • It won't happen, and Elon will be really sad
      35


Recommended Posts

5 minutes ago, fredinno said:

I assumed that would only be what NASA pays- things like CCDev had companies paying partially out-of-pocket.

Actually, Mars Direct was 4 people. MCT is many orders of magnitude larger (and probably more expensive)

I remember from a few of my books it was 12, hm, bad memory.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, fredinno said:

Actually, Mars Direct was 4 people. MCT is many orders of magnitude larger (and probably more expensive)

Indeed. If we extrapolate the 5 billion for 4 people rule to the full size of the MCT, that gives us an MCT cost of $125 billion, or about $1.25 billion per person. Not the $500,000 per person Elon estimates. Then again, that method of calculation assumes the MCT is just a scaled-up Mars Direct, which it is not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Spaceception said:

Maybe people all over the world will beg their governments to provide funding for this mission after the first colonists are on Mars, maybe space agency's all over the world will help out with funding. Maybe people will give money to the project, not to go to Mars themselves, but to aid the most exciting mission in the history of mankind. Who knows?

A quote from the wait but why article:

"And then, something will start to happen.

The hardest part will be over, and more people will want to go.

The first return ships will come back with people, and it’ll remind everyone on Earth that it doesn’t have to be a one-way ticket—and more people will want to go.

The people who come back to Earth will be commended for their courage, some of the people on Mars will write best-selling books about their experience, and others will film a little TV show about the early settlement and become household names on Earth—and more people will want to go.

People on Earth will see gorgeous photos of Martians hiking around on Olympus Mons and in Valles Marinaris, a mountain and canyon far bigger than any on Earth—and more people will want to go.

People will hear about being able to jump off a 20-foot cliff without hurting yourself and watch viral YouTube clips of new kinds of extreme sports that can only be played with Mars’ 38% gravity situation—and more people will want to go

 

And in case you were wondering if this is going to be a vacation jaunt, Musk explains, “It’s not going to be a vacation jaunt. It’s going to be saving up all your money and selling all your stuff, like when people moved to the early American colonies.” But he also points to the excitement and novelty of getting to found a new land—an experience that stopped being possible on Earth centuries ago: “There will be lots of interesting opportunities for anyone who wants to create anything new—from the first pizza joint to the first iron ore refinery to the first of everything. This is going to be a real exciting thing for people who want to be part of creating a civilization.”

End quote.

Note how much of that wait but why article is based on wishful thinking. I could easily rewrite that quote and paint a much bleaker picture:

"And then, something will start to happen.

The base realizes just how hard it is to bootstrap a complete industry, and funding starts to wane.

The first return ships will come back with people complaining about miserable conditions, and it’ll remind everyone on Earth that Mars is an arid and boring desert. And less people will want to go.

The people who come back to Earth will be bashed for their ignorance, some of the people on Mars will die, and others will film a little TV show about the early settlement and show the cramped and resource starved base. And less people will want to go.

People on Earth will see boring photos of Martians doing backbreaking work in a endless cold desert—and less people will want to go.

People will hear about spacesuit failures that make a simple stroll outside a deadly endeavour and watch viral YouTube clips on the effects of bone loss in Mars’ 38% gravity situation—and less people will want to go"

Be careful in assuming that a Mars base will grow over time. Once the romance wears off I doubt many people want to go. Same reason that we aren't seeing mass migrations to the antarctic, even though that's doable for a much lower cost.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cats. In space.

 

More specifically, they will populate Mars with cats. We will have a space colony of Cats on Mars.

 

Why? Well, it's dangerous to send people. So as with the early space exploration we will send animals. And we all know cats are the best candidate...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Ralathon said:

Note how much of that wait but why article is based on wishful thinking. I could easily rewrite that quote and paint a much bleaker picture:

"And then, something will start to happen.

The base realizes just how hard it is to bootstrap a complete industry, and funding starts to wane.

The first return ships will come back with people complaining about miserable conditions, and it’ll remind everyone on Earth that Mars is an arid and boring desert. And less people will want to go.

The people who come back to Earth will be bashed for their ignorance, some of the people on Mars will die, and others will film a little TV show about the early settlement and show the cramped and resource starved base. And less people will want to go.

People on Earth will see boring photos of Martians doing backbreaking work in a endless cold desert—and less people will want to go.

People will hear about spacesuit failures that make a simple stroll outside a deadly endeavour and watch viral YouTube clips on the effects of bone loss in Mars’ 38% gravity situation—and less people will want to go"

Be careful in assuming that a Mars base will grow over time. Once the romance wears off I doubt many people want to go. Same reason that we aren't seeing mass migrations to the antarctic, even though that's doable for a much lower cost.

You know you're being pessimistic when Nibb31 likes your post...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, fredinno said:

You know you're being pessimistic when Nibb31 likes your post...

I'm not being pessimistic. I'd love to see martian bases and I'm a big supporter of making humanity multi planetary. But these things don't magically happen. There needs to be a reasonable financial roadmap without giant gaping holes plastered with "And here wishful thinking happens!". Arguments that appeal to our emotions are almost useless here, which is what that waitbutwhy article was using. The whims of the masses could easily flip as I showed and ruin our chances for martian bases for centuries.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, Ralathon said:

I'm not being pessimistic. I'd love to see martian bases and I'm a big supporter of making humanity multi planetary. But these things don't magically happen. There needs to be a reasonable financial roadmap without giant gaping holes plastered with "And here wishful thinking happens!". Arguments that appeal to our emotions are almost useless here, which is what that waitbutwhy article was using. The whims of the masses could easily flip as I showed and ruin our chances for martian bases for centuries.

I know, but still.:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, fredinno said:

I know, but still.:D

I agree with both of your guys' points.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Elon Musk says he plans to reveal the mars colony architecture some time around the International Astronautic Congress this September! :D

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIRqB5iqWA8&index=109&list=WL) He says it around the 30 min 15 sec mark, although, I recommend watching the whole thing, because.. Elon Musk.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

spaceX was founded because Elon wanted to spend -his own money- on a publicity stunt (no buisness plan at all) to put a greenhouse on Mars. And NASA quoted him a price that someone tied for 100th richest person in the world couldnt afford.

Once he can afford it, (by making getting to mars cheaper) putting a greenhouse on mars will be the LEAST of what he does.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Spaceception said:

Elon Musk says he plans to reveal the mars colony architecture some time around the International Astronautic Congress this September! :D

So now we have to wait until ----ing September?!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, ChrisSpace said:

So now we have to wait until ----ing September?!

At least you know when they're announcing it :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I seriously don't understand all this optimism*....

*about SpaceX being our saviours....

Edited by Bill Phil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/16/2016 at 10:56 PM, fredinno said:

Actually, Mars Direct was 4 people. MCT is many orders of magnitude larger (and probably more expensive)

Here, a user by the name of Robotbeat claims that MCT would be cheaper than Mars Direct with a reusable launch vehicle (I know, there is some skepticism about that here, especially from Nibb31) and a single vehicle design (for less development costs) that refuels in Earth orbit and on Mars with pre-deployed ISRU equipment.

Quote

The big thing comes down to the ascent vehicle:

You could travel using some Bigelow or Cygnus-derived hab. You could land in a Red Dragon, in principle, and somehow stick them together ala Mars One. But you'd be stuck on the surface, just like Mars One.

You need an ascent vehicle. And building an ascent vehicle along with the ability to land it on the surface of Mars is no simple task! It could cost nearly as much as a BFS itself!

Mars Direct assumed a two-stage Earth Return Vehicle and a surface hab or two (which are landed separately and each need a landing system), along with a NTR in-space stage and an expendable HLV (several launches) and several heat shields that are expended along the way.

MCT assumes a fully reusable HLV that is refueled in orbit by another reusable HLV of the same type (though operating as a tanker). The upper stage of that RHLV carries the crew, and is big enough to operate as the hab throughout the whole trip. It also operates as the in-space stage (so no NTR stage needed), the EDL and lander vehicle (somewhat redundant, but this means you keep your heatshield and landing legs and can use them on the way back to Earth), plus the ascent/Earth return vehicle.

...that one rocket stage does the work of like 4-6 separate rocket stages in the Mars Direct architecture (depending on how you count), and the crew portion takes care of the rest. This is what reuse, extensive refueling, and ISRU buys you. A huge reduction in how many pieces of hardware need to be designed, qualified, built, and launched.


...what the two architectures have in common is the need for surface power (nuclear or solar), some ISRU equipment. For ISRU, the original Mars Direct assumed bringing hydrogen all the way from Earth, which is pretty tough engineering-wise due to boil-off and large volume, but MCT assumes you're mining/collecting it on the surface in the form of water. So MCT needs to land a significant robotic water-collection system, able to mine hundreds of tons of water per year at a minimum, to give a rough figure of merit. But that's actually not too bad: one or two tons per day. This would've been laughed off the stage in the early 1990s, but now even NASA's architecture planning conferences take this large amount of available water as a given and is used for site-selection.

So what MCT needs is HUNDREDS of kilowatts (at a minimum) and a robotic rover or two to process a bunch of regolith to extract the (apparently fairly abundant) water (though Mars Direct also assumed rovers, but for manned use... so this isn't a big difference either). That's like a few SP-100s (or perhaps an SP-100 at the top end of considered designs) instead of just one SP-100 (or equivalent in solar+batteries) in Mars Direct, but that's a pretty good trade, in my opinion, to greatly simplify the rest of the architecture and make it fully reusable (thus much cheaper to do each mission once you build it out) and much more capable.

So I actually think that Mars Direct might've actually cost more money than MCT will!

 

Quote

The tech risk is a little higher, but not much so, if you retire the risk with early tests, as SpaceX does. The modular, many different stages approach is good for splitting up the work among multiple centers and contractors, but I doubt it's more cost-effective or reliable over the long-run.

And let's be clear, here: This isn't just a "jack of all trades" type capability like the Shuttle which relied on engineering prowess to enable a bunch of different capabilities, this is a case of hugely overlapping requirements. Refueling and ISRU are the things which make all this possible and to beat the iron triangle of trade-offs. This is a genuine improvement over previous concepts.

If you have refueling and plan on reuse anyway, then there's no reason to take the typical multiple stage approach that you're forced to do without refueling.

You're not going to save money by developing 5 different rocket stages and a couple different EDL schemes at large scale over one BFS which can refuel multiple times.

Things look very different when IMLEO is no longer the primary constraint!

 

Edited by Pipcard

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Rakaydos said:

 

spaceX was founded because Elon wanted to spend -his own money- on a publicity stunt (no buisness plan at all) to put a greenhouse on Mars. And NASA quoted him a price that someone tied for 100th richest person in the world couldnt afford.

Once he can afford it, (by making getting to mars cheaper) putting a greenhouse on mars will be the LEAST of what he does.

I hope he can. Hopefully he gets a $5-10 Billion dollar fortune to build MCT and do a Mars Direct. I'm not holding my breath.

1 hour ago, Pipcard said:

Here, a user by the name of Robotbeat claims that MCT would be cheaper than Mars Direct with a reusable launch vehicle (I know, there is some skepticism about that here, especially from Nibb31) and a single vehicle design (for less development costs) that refuels in Earth orbit and on Mars with pre-deployed ISRU equipment.

 

 

That's from a forum. I'm not buying anything until it comes from Elon, or an official news source.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, fredinno said:

 

That's from a forum. I'm not buying anything until it comes from Elon, or an official news source.

Can you follow his line of reasoning, at least?

Mars Direct had a launcher, mars injecter, habitat, lander, ascent vehical, return vehical, and reentry vehical, all separately designed and integrated. MCT has a RTLS lowerstage, a giant supercapsule upperstage, and a supercapsule varient modified as a tanker, to refuel the supercapsule in orbit, and that's it. By using the same design to do multiple things, spaceX saves money.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎14‎/‎01‎/‎2016 at 7:04 PM, Nibb31 said:

Not gonna happen. There are simply no reasons for society to spend billions on a Mars colony. The MCT is a bridge to nowhere. I think the business case won't close and Elon will be sad.

there is lots and lots of reasons. there is even some people who have enough money  to buy multiple mars colonies. tax some billionaires and then a mars colony will be easy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just saw this. Poor Elon will be sad. If you had a gazillionaire wanting to blow it all just because, then some other answer might be possible for even just sending people at all (not a colony, just a private, manned mission). Musk doesn't have that kind of money, so SpaceX needs to actually make money. There is no possible business reason for Mars, and as backup for humanity, deep space is likely easier (the people will be living in cans, regardless, it doesn't matter if the can are at the bottom of a gravity well or not).

1 hour ago, Ackoli said:

there is lots and lots of reasons. there is even some people who have enough money  to buy multiple mars colonies. tax some billionaires and then a mars colony will be easy.

There are no economic reasons at all. The only other reason is not a bad reason, but there is no reason to assume Mars is the right place for it. Billionaires already pay stunningly high taxes, and the large bulk of the US federal budget is already social programs, and that won't be changing. Tax dollars will not pay for colonization.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SpaceX is not going to make even Moon orbit without money from government... that means without money from American citizens wallets.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 16.1.2016 at 11:42 AM, Ralathon said:

...

Be careful in assuming that a Mars base will grow over time. Once the romance wears off I doubt many people want to go. Same reason that we aren't seeing mass migrations to the antarctic, even though that's doable for a much lower cost.

I think it is cheaper to go to Antarctica than to Mars, but it is easier to survive on Mars than on Antarctica. Whatever you build on Antarctica must be temperature isolated against a thick cold atmosphere, while the atmosphere on Mars is very cold but much thinner, hence you loose much less heat there. On most locations you have the problem that you have to dig yourself out once in a while, that simply does not happen on Mars. On Mars you have sunlight every day, but in the huge sandstorms. But then you have wind. So a combination of solar and wind will always give you power. Solar will go down up to 20% if you let sit the solar cells around and do not care, but at least you get the 20% year round. Then collecting resources from the ground is simpler on Mars, unless for water, but that is still not difficult on Mars.

On the other hand I agree with you that some Mars colonization plans are far too optimistic. A Mars colony has to be well prepared and there will be problems and not everyone on Earth will want to go there. Mass migration is also something I do not expect to happen soon, even if a colony on Mars would be a flawless success.

While I am unsure whether we manage to construct a Mars colony I belief it is possible: Starting with a big amount of Spirit sized rovers to search for resources on various locations on Mars (some 20 per launch of a Delta IV Heavy or 40 per Falcon Heavy) we should send about 100 of them. Then one should construct the settlement more like a base than like a colony: Fix an amount of people you can safely supply from earth and bring back in case of problems. 3 will suffice in my opinion and is doable within 20% of current NASA budget. The base will set up stuff (witch itself is at first imported from earth) to supply more colonists on Mars. If you can get all your water locally you will reduce your mass requirement per crew member by 90%. Together with food and oxygen even by 95%. So the first couple of years your growth will be mainly restricted by the constraint to have enough return capabilities there. Over some years you can build up a base of 30-60 people with that technique. From there you can start bootstrapping industry. I have also some idea about the order which might be useful, but that would be quite lengthy and contribute only very little to the topic, so I skip that for the moment.

Of course this plan is vulnerable to vanishing funding in the meantime, hence I am unsure whether we manage while I am sure it is possible. And of course not everybody will like to live in that kind of base/colony. But I am sure we will at least find some 1000 who do. Compared to worlds population that is by far not many, but still enough.

This plan has a sure supply at every time and a return plan in case of emergencies. In case of some fancy cheaper transport possibilities for Mars to appear (rockets just tanked and reflown, high thrust high Isp propulsion systems, teleportation, ...) I would stick to essentially the same plan, just a little bit upscaled.

For the discussion itself: I prefer not thinking of you being pessimistic but to point out possible problems and warn in case of too optimistic plans. A role I consider to be very important in every discussion and which is in my opinion often not honored enough. So if you or someone else see any shortcomings in my plan I would really like you to point them out, so I can go into more detail, fix it or realize that the plan is flawed. As we all do not know "the truth" I try to be open to all that possibilities.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, Kaos said:

I think it is cheaper to go to Antarctica than to Mars, but it is easier to survive on Mars than on Antarctica. Whatever you build on Antarctica must be temperature isolated against a thick cold atmosphere, while the atmosphere on Mars is very cold but much thinner, hence you loose much less heat there. On most locations you have the problem that you have to dig yourself out once in a while, that simply does not happen on Mars. On Mars you have sunlight every day, but in the huge sandstorms. But then you have wind. So a combination of solar and wind will always give you power. Solar will go down up to 20% if you let sit the solar cells around and do not care, but at least you get the 20% year round. Then collecting resources from the ground is simpler on Mars, unless for water, but that is still not difficult on Mars.

On the other hand I agree with you that some Mars colonization plans are far too optimistic. A Mars colony has to be well prepared and there will be problems and not everyone on Earth will want to go there. Mass migration is also something I do not expect to happen soon, even if a colony on Mars would be a flawless success.

While I am unsure whether we manage to construct a Mars colony I belief it is possible: Starting with a big amount of Spirit sized rovers to search for resources on various locations on Mars (some 20 per launch of a Delta IV Heavy or 40 per Falcon Heavy) we should send about 100 of them. Then one should construct the settlement more like a base than like a colony: Fix an amount of people you can safely supply from earth and bring back in case of problems. 3 will suffice in my opinion and is doable within 20% of current NASA budget. The base will set up stuff (witch itself is at first imported from earth) to supply more colonists on Mars. If you can get all your water locally you will reduce your mass requirement per crew member by 90%. Together with food and oxygen even by 95%. So the first couple of years your growth will be mainly restricted by the constraint to have enough return capabilities there. Over some years you can build up a base of 30-60 people with that technique. From there you can start bootstrapping industry. I have also some idea about the order which might be useful, but that would be quite lengthy and contribute only very little to the topic, so I skip that for the moment.

Of course this plan is vulnerable to vanishing funding in the meantime, hence I am unsure whether we manage while I am sure it is possible. And of course not everybody will like to live in that kind of base/colony. But I am sure we will at least find some 1000 who do. Compared to worlds population that is by far not many, but still enough.

This plan has a sure supply at every time and a return plan in case of emergencies. In case of some fancy cheaper transport possibilities for Mars to appear (rockets just tanked and reflown, high thrust high Isp propulsion systems, teleportation, ...) I would stick to essentially the same plan, just a little bit upscaled.

For the discussion itself: I prefer not thinking of you being pessimistic but to point out possible problems and warn in case of too optimistic plans. A role I consider to be very important in every discussion and which is in my opinion often not honored enough. So if you or someone else see any shortcomings in my plan I would really like you to point them out, so I can go into more detail, fix it or realize that the plan is flawed. As we all do not know "the truth" I try to be open to all that possibilities.

Do you have any idea how much 100 spirit rovers would cost? 40 Billion, each rover is 400 million. Granted, mass production reduces that, but still. Good luck with the funding.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Spaceception said:

At least you know when they're announcing it :D

If you take Musk's timelines for granted that is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now