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


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26 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.

Rubbish. Heat is the least of your worries. On Mars, the air isn't breathable. The soil is toxic. There is cosmic radiation and low gravity. You rely on technology just to be able to breath and get drinking water. And you 6 months away from any supplies. It's orders of magnitude harder than surviving in Antarctica.

26 minutes ago, Kaos said:

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.

We don't know how difficult getting water from Mars is. Then you have to purify it to remove all the perchlorates and then you have to add the minerals that we actually rely upon to live. Those minerals have to come from somewhere, so do the consumables, chemicals, and other supplies. And if any of that water supply chain breaks down, you're dead.

You said yourself that the atmosphere is extremely thin. That actually means that sandstorms are not that huge and that you can't rely on wind for power. It's going to have to be solar or nuclear.

 

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23 minutes ago, fredinno said:

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.

I did not write 100 spirit rovers, I wrote Spirit sized rovers. The costs of Spirit were that high because of dense analyzing components, development and extra high quality control, because a single rover may simply not fail. I belief that with restricting to base functionality (driving and scanning for resources) the costs per rover can be lowered to 10 million per rover with 500 million development cost for the program. And 50 of the 400 million for the launch convert to 4 million per rover in the Delta IV Heavy case or to 3 million per rover in the Falcon Heavy case.

And if 10 rovers fail because of reduced quality control it will be still more rovers for less money, hence worth it.

Edited by Kaos
Forgot quality control

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10 minutes ago, Nibb31 said:

Rubbish. Heat is the least of your worries. On Mars, the air isn't breathable. The soil is toxic. There is cosmic radiation and low gravity. You rely on technology just to be able to breath and get drinking water. And you 6 months away from any supplies. It's orders of magnitude harder than surviving in Antarctica.

We don't know how difficult getting water from Mars is. Then you have to purify it to remove all the perchlorates and then you have to add the minerals that we actually rely upon to live. Those minerals have to come from somewhere, so do the consumables, chemicals, and other supplies. And if any of that water supply chain breaks down, you're dead.

You said yourself that the atmosphere is extremely thin. That actually means that sandstorms are not that huge and that you can't rely on wind for power. It's going to have to be solar or nuclear.

 

Indeed I was not precise: By surviving I meant surviving and producing most of your supplies at the location. Of course surviving in Antarctica is easier as long as you plan to import nearly all of your supplies.

Water can be found on Mars and the water recycling system of the ISS should be able to purify it (splits the water to hydrogen and oxygen, recombines it to pure water). The minerals can be imported in the first years from earth, later produced locally on Mars.

As the water supply chain is one of the most crucial parts, every thing of it should be there multiple times and a large storage should be in the base, too. I would consider water for 10 earth years (= 100 t per crew member, based on 27 l consumption per astronaut from a NASA measurement) a reasonable amount, which can also double as 5 m radiation shield over an area of 20 m^2 per astronaut and as algae tank for food production.

The main problem with the sand storms is the reduction of sunlight. But on the other hand the wind speed in sand storms is at least 20 m/s (otherwise the particles would fall down). Wind energy scales cubed with the speed, hence 20 m/s of the 0,4% Mars atmosphere deliver the same as 5 m/s in earth atmosphere. 5 m/s is not a great speed for wind power on earth, but still ok. So for backup power it would help. Of course a bigger variety of power sources would be better (power storage, geothermal (or how this is called on Mars), nuclear, ...) and in times with no dust storm solar is the dominant supply or at least it dwarfs wind energy then.

Allow me an additional question: Do you consider it doable (in current NASA budget or another "reasonable"* budget) to supply 3 people on Mars only with supplies from Earth? Because this plan would fail completely if that is not possible, as it is build on reducing supplies slowly instead of magically putting a self-sustaining colony on Mars.

* I have put the "reasonable" in quotes, as it is of course only reasonable if such kind of Mars base is a goal. I would for example prefer a fleet of rovers for pure scientific reasons before. And some autonomous infrastructure to test some of the resource gathering. Afterwards I think a Mars base and ultimately a Mars colony should be a goal but regardless whether it should be a goal we can discuss whether it is feasible.

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1 hour ago, Kaos said:

Indeed I was not precise: By surviving I meant surviving and producing most of your supplies at the location. Of course surviving in Antarctica is easier as long as you plan to import nearly all of your supplies.

Still rubbish. Even if you'd want to mine most resources on Antarctica it would still be cheaper and easier than mining on mars. There is enough oil there to simulate the cheap way of living we are used to. (just need to lift the drilling ban).

1 hour ago, Kaos said:

Allow me an additional question: Do you consider it doable (in current NASA budget or another "reasonable"* budget) to supply 3 people on Mars only with supplies from Earth? Because this plan would fail completely if that is not possible, as it is build on reducing supplies slowly instead of magically putting a self-sustaining colony on Mars.

That's the thing. Nasa could do it, the EU could do it, Japan could do it, If one of these parties would dedicate enough funds. (Hell, even Bill Gates could do it, if he stops using his funds to save the world.). Elon Musk is trying to reduce costs, so investors with less funds can do this as well (like him).

Would it become reasonable to do it? That is subjective. I'd say no, in our current economic system that seems to need a profit as incentive. That incentive would change when the Earth faces certain destruction or when exploration becomes more important than profit. Some people think this is already the case and for them, yes, it is reasonable ^

I am sort of worried how capitalism deals with global problems, but I have to admit that people like Elon Musk and Bill Gate do make me believe that it could actually work in some situations.

 

peace

Edited by Knaapie

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29 minutes ago, Knaapie said:

Still rubbish. Even if you'd want to mine most resources on Antarctica it would still be cheaper and easier than mining on mars. There is enough oil there to simulate the cheap way of living we are used to. (just need to lift the drilling ban).

...

If you drill oil and trade it for your supplies, I would not count if self sustainable. It might be economical lucrative, yes, but it does not supply itself with the required ressources. And every equippment you bring to antarctica has to be unburried once in a while and capable to survive the long arctic nights. Unless you count the very most northern parts of antarctica, these are much simpler anyway.

The point of cheap trade is precisely why these kind of colonies do not happen on earth: Trade is cheaper. Even where selfsufficient colonies were possible, we go there for drilling or digging and bring the ressources back and supply from the home base. Trying to build a self-sustained colony on earth first would be a useful preparation step. We could reuse Biosphere 2 for example. But this time we should try to live self-sustained there and not try to cultivate 6 different biozones there with 8 people ;)

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58 minutes ago, Kaos said:

Trying to build a self-sustained colony on earth first would be a useful preparation step. We could reuse Biosphere 2 for example. But this time we should try to live self-sustained there and not try to cultivate 6 different biozones there with 8 people ;)

I can totally see how these experiments can improve global durability and support them when i can. These experiment are actually already taking place in different parts of the world (or are already completed). I believe mars direct followers have a mostly self sustainable "mars pod" in the desert. 100% water reusability has been reached in closed environments during long term experiments. The technology is already there or in very close reach.

Fundamentally one would need to ask why to send humans at all ? Robots can build the colonies, get the needed resources and even set a stage for human visitors way later. It doesn't make sense to send people even then though. They can only craw upon a barren landscape live in danger and use up scarce resources. 

Humans on a Mars mission would only be there for sake of propaganda.. Which I might be ok with, it is always beneficial to boost our technology.

/e ow right i forgot to reply to the sustainability:  well, oil can be used to create the infrastructure of a more sustainable way of living on the arctic. They need a lot of energy to get through the ice first. and since mineral resources are pretty scarce below the ice it is indeed pretty difficult to find building materials. I'm no scientist, but I still can't imagine it being harder than on Mars.

Edited by Knaapie

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5 hours ago, Nibb31 said:

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

Roughly anyway, besides, this isn't a working rocket they're trying to launch, it's a bunch of documents.

5 hours ago, Nibb31 said:

The soil is toxic.

We don't know how difficult getting water from Mars is. Then you have to purify it to remove all the perchlorates and then you have to add the minerals that we actually rely upon to live. Those minerals have to come from somewhere, so do the consumables, chemicals, and other supplies. And if any of that water supply chain breaks down, you're dead.

 

Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s9UXXAmlTg

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Anyone who thinks Antarctica is more harsh than Mars for humans is demonstrating that they have pretty much no idea what they are talking about. The most inhospitable surface environment on Earth is orders superior to Mars by orders of magnitude. Heck, anyplace on Earth is not just quantitatively better (it is), but qualitatively better.

Predicating arguments on self-sufficiency is even odder, since Mars would be entirely dependent on Earth for most supplies for as long into the future as most of us could imagine.

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10 hours ago, Kaos said:

I did not write 100 spirit rovers, I wrote Spirit sized rovers. The costs of Spirit were that high because of dense analyzing components, development and extra high quality control, because a single rover may simply not fail. I belief that with restricting to base functionality (driving and scanning for resources) the costs per rover can be lowered to 10 million per rover with 500 million development cost for the program. And 50 of the 400 million for the launch convert to 4 million per rover in the Delta IV Heavy case or to 3 million per rover in the Falcon Heavy case.

And if 10 rovers fail because of reduced quality control it will be still more rovers for less money, hence worth it.

Still, the main cost is spacecraft when making a planetary mission, not launcher. And NASA's Better Faster Cheaper is pretty much dead, so you would need to do that high quality control. And even if you didn't, it'd be cheaper just to build a few expensive 1billion Mars "hoppers" with Falcon Heavies, to many different locations, than a hundred rovers, to many different locations. 

 

And why do you need those in the first place? We didn't land on the moon by first lnpanding hundreds of rovers on the moon. Orbiters are good enough, and give you a glimpse on what each Mars site is like.

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I think that it is not going to happen because this kind of colony costs some seriously big money and is not profitable *at all*. Do you happen to spend hundreds of dollars for something that sounds cool but doesn't profit you nor make your life better in any way (smoking excepted) ? Then why would anyone else spend billions and billions on something equally useless ? 

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2 hours ago, fredinno said:

Still, the main cost is spacecraft when making a planetary mission, not launcher. And NASA's Better Faster Cheaper is pretty much dead, so you would need to do that high quality control. And even if you didn't, it'd be cheaper just to build a few expensive 1billion Mars "hoppers" with Falcon Heavies, to many different locations, than a hundred rovers, to many different locations. 

 

And why do you need those in the first place? We didn't land on the moon by first lnpanding hundreds of rovers on the moon. Orbiters are good enough, and give you a glimpse on what each Mars site is like.

Orbiters cannot drill to see what is beneath the surface. A series of few hoppers would also work, but need more time. Regardless of which, they would help to see where are better locations for resource gathering, hence where could the base reduce the necessary material input as easy as possible.

I do not see where the cheaper approach is dead, considering the growing numbers of cubesats.

And indeed: For a landing the preceding rovers are not necessary. But they would increase the chance to stay, at least if it is possible to stay, which is admittedly disputed.

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1 hour ago, Kaos said:

Orbiters cannot drill to see what is beneath the surface. A series of few hoppers would also work, but need more time. Regardless of which, they would help to see where are better locations for resource gathering, hence where could the base reduce the necessary material input as easy as possible.

I do not see where the cheaper approach is dead, considering the growing numbers of cubesats.

And indeed: For a landing the preceding rovers are not necessary. But they would increase the chance to stay, at least if it is possible to stay, which is admittedly disputed.

The problem is the distance from the sun. If you have a serious platform in space, you can beam specific RF frequencies at mars and see what frequencies of RF are emitted on the cool down. Obviously you cannot do this every were but you could start by looking at 1, 8, 64, and so on places until you have a map. There is also a depth limit, and mars dust mucks the whole thing up.

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4 hours ago, Kaos said:

Orbiters cannot drill to see what is beneath the surface. A series of few hoppers would also work, but need more time. Regardless of which, they would help to see where are better locations for resource gathering, hence where could the base reduce the necessary material input as easy as possible.

I do not see where the cheaper approach is dead, considering the growing numbers of cubesats.

And indeed: For a landing the preceding rovers are not necessary. But they would increase the chance to stay, at least if it is possible to stay, which is admittedly disputed.

Then you'd launch several smaller pathfinder-sized rovers, with a specially small deployment mechanism. Of course, how good that would be for human exploration is a good question- rather than a stationary phonic-derived lander to the most promising areas of Mars- meaning a hopper, which would allow for those to be reused. Or, perhaps a robotic helicopter, like the cubesat sized Mars Helicopter Scout https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_2020_(rover)#Reactions on Mars 2020, but scaled up by over 500%, as to cover large distances over a single Martian Year (being able to go from landing site to landing site.)

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I do not see a Mars colony in this century.

However, Elon is a smart guy and for me it seems he's really believing in the things he says.

I think he will do everything to see his dream come true. If this helps getting some humans to Mars in my lifetime, im completely fine with it, even if there's no colony.

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I don't like that the poll options were changed. I voted for "it won't happen and elon will be very sad", not for " will be done in a distant future". I don't think it will ever happen. My vote should not be there... Just sayin

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21 minutes ago, Hcube said:

I don't like that the poll options were changed. I voted for "it won't happen and elon will be very sad", not for " will be done in a distant future". I don't think it will ever happen. My vote should not be there... Just sayin

My vote and opinion are the same.

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Same here. It's rather unethical to change the question after people have answered.

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It's back to the original wording. Thanks!

(more importantly, the original version is FUNNY)

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39 minutes ago, tater said:

It's back to the original wording. Thanks!

(more importantly, the original version is FUNNY)

:) Sorry, I don't remember why I decided to change it, but yes, it's back now.

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Even though I actually agree with the last choice, I might have voted that even if I didn't, because I found it pretty funny. :D

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20 minutes ago, tater said:

Even though I actually agree with the last choice, I might have voted that even if I didn't, because I found it pretty funny. :D

:)

 

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Whenever it happens I hope it happens in my lifetime.

I feel kinda sad we haven't gone anywhere, not even the moon (manned) since my birth, let alone since I was old enough to remember stuff.
Unmanned is pretty cool don't get me wrong, so is discovering exo-planets.  But it's about time humanity does something and I don't care if it's Chinese, US,UK, whomever.
 

I'm going to say in the fourthies (~2040 or so).

Edited by Francois424

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On 1/14/2016 at 9:51 AM, Frozen_Heart said:

$500,000 x 100 people is 50 million. So you're expecting the largest rocket ever built to be one of the cheapest? Even the Falcon 9 costs $60 million to launch. You would need 10x as many ppl to make it work.

After reading through these again, I thought of something: The 100 people won't pay for the entire rocket/supplies, it'll be a significant chunk, but not all of it. The rest will come from, well, I mentioned this already, satellite revenue, but ( @Nibb31 ) Also, (Here's a possible business plan) The technologies that would be developed fro the mission would improve life here on Earth (And make tens of billions) So you could imagine that profits from these technologies could also help pay for it (And what would these technologies be? Well, better solar panels, batteries, medical technologies, agricultural technologies, water purification technologies, better communication networks, etc, etc), it's not crazy, look at the MRI, Robotics, cameras, computers, etc, those made tens of billions, and they were intended from space exploration until we altered them for use on Earth, the same would be done for a Mars colony.

Edited by Spaceception

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21 hours ago, Spaceception said:

After reading through these again, I thought of something: The 100 people won't pay for the entire rocket/supplies, it'll be a significant chunk, but not all of it. The rest will come from, well, I mentioned this already, satellite revenue, but ( @Nibb31 ) Also, (Here's a possible business plan) The technologies that would be developed fro the mission would improve life here on Earth (And make tens of billions) So you could imagine that profits from these technologies could also help pay for it (And what would these technologies be? Well, better solar panels, batteries, medical technologies, agricultural technologies, water purification technologies, better communication networks, etc, etc), it's not crazy, look at the MRI, Robotics, cameras, computers, etc, those made tens of billions, and they were intended from space exploration until we altered them for use on Earth, the same would be done for a Mars colony.

Yeah, but you know what can do that easier? Doing research in space, and NOT going to mars- contracting out your work and research to NASA.

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