SpaceX continues to drive down the barriers like the aggressive but rationale organization they are and the world needs to move us to the next level of Earth to orbit operations. And having a dream and stretch goals are required elements.
From NASA Spaceflight: Dragon Roadmap: From domestic crew independence to humans on Mars
July 5, 2013 by Chris Bergin
Grasshopper reaches a thousand feet in new nav test. Read more at: SpaceX shows off new nav gear with latest Grasshopper rocket launch-and-landing (video)
By Timothy J. Seppala posted Jul 6th, 2013 at 3:47 PM
This image shows one of many fresh impact craters spotted by the UA-led HiRISE camera, orbiting the Red Planet on board NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter since 2006. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/UA
Scientists using images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, or MRO, have estimated that the planet is bombarded by more than 200 small asteroids or bits of comets per year forming craters at least 12.8 feet (3.9 meters) across.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-05-hirise-mars-camera-reveals-hundreds.html#jCp
phys.org : Reports from “Humans 2 Mars Summit” suggest dust may prevent human settlement of Mars by Bob Yirka
…. perchlorates appear to be widespread on the planet’s surface. The fine dust material produced by perchloric acid has been known to cause thyroid problems in people here on Earth.
Just as problematic, … is gypsum…. been known to cause a condition similar to black lung in coal miners in people exposed to it for long periods of time.
… known presence of silicates on the Martian surface—if breathed-in they can cause reactions with water in the lungs and result in the creation of harmful chemicals.
Martian dust could pose health hazards because of the difficulty of removing it from space suits and boots. … fear the dust would build up in air filters and living quarters, adding yet another life threatening element to the list of other known hazards (traveling and landing safely, exposure to radiation and cosmic rays, etc.) for the people who seek to colonize the planet.
You can always find some pretext for why not to do something.
This sort of narrow thinking is why it the Mars colonization effort by somewhat older unworried warriors is a great idea, they will lead the way, they may die earlier…will almost certainly die earlier than they would on Earth but in the big picture they will be immortal.
I think that a commercial fly by of Mars possibly convoying with early colony equipment makes a lot of sense. Drop off a 3D printer to start fabbing buildings or building parts. The fly by would work on the tech of getting there and of living in space for long periods. Multiple (4 in a Bigelow Cross?) inflatable Bigelow modules would make a light weight but spacious habitat that one or two couples could live in for the time needed. I would boost and decelerate the complex with an earth orbital tug and have minimal onboard propulsion since its pointless mass to take with you. With the right kit of science and DIY they would keep busy doing various types of investigation the whole time.
Asteroid capture and exploitation
Refueling / reuse of space side craft
Asteroid mining for space side resources and drop side assets
L point science platforms with robo and human servicing
Low earth orbit hotel/spa/ops-center
4 person large scale spacecraft flyby of Mars
Mars colony robot precursor landings
Mars colony crew of 6 to 8 no return, first Martians
Follow up resource flights to Mars, gradual build up of Mars colony
All possible in the next twenty years, tenish if we really pushed, and I think we could commercial/ kick start/survivor fund the whole bloody thing…
Artist’s conception of a terraformed Mars. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Awesome picture from this article. Wether we should TerraForm Mars. For you non geeks Terra = Earth TerraForm means to ‘adjust’ a worlds Environment to fit humans and life forms from Earth. Now on a world with existing viable ecology (life) this would be unconscionable but on a dead or dead ended environment I’d vote ASAP. … Arguments can be had on both sides, I just hope we get to have those arguments.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover lifts off from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011. The rocket will deliver a science laboratory to Mars to study potential habitable environments on the planet. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)
Graphic of the Mars Science Laboratory, an elite six-wheeled vehicle powered by nuclear fuel, is scheduled to launch at 10:02 am (1502 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida atop an Atlas V rocket
The size of a compact car, nuclear powered, autonomous guidance, what’s not to geek love? Of course it’s a full press design very low fault tolerant landing system, albeit really cool, and probably warranted to work for years…exact opposite of the last two plucky cheap little explorers we sent. So I have to hope all goes well. This is not likely to be repeated for a decade if it goes thump.
Good luck Curiosity, let’s just hope you’re no cat.