View Full Version : Ep. 94: Humans to Mars, Part 1 - The Scientists

2008-Jun-24, 02:30 AM
We're learned about the failed missions to Mars in the past, and the current spacecraft, rovers and landers currently exploring the Red Planet. But the real prize will come when the first human sets foot on Mars. Robots are cheaper, but nothing beats having a real human being on the scene, to search for evidence of water and life.http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/astronomycast/~4/318529814

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2008-Jun-24, 02:02 PM
In this episode, Pamela described how she would prefer that commercial space interests take up the banner of manned space travel from governments.

However, someone has to take that first step. Someone needs to face the fact that there is a very high risk of them not coming back, and people will rarely face such daunting odds for a corporation.

Look at the breaking of the sound barrier. Bell Aircraft test pilot "Slick" Goodlin threatened to walk off the X-1 program if the government didn't give him US$150,000 ($1.5mil in 2008 dollars), and that's not counting the hazard pay he wanted for every minute over 0.85 Mach. Yeager went and did it and demanded no extra pay, because he was doing it for his country and for the glory (his own and that of his country.) Will a commercial pilot do it for the glory? Certainly not the glory of his (or her) corporation. Perhaps for his own, but only when accompanied by lots of money.

How much do you think a commercial pilot would charge to go to Mars, knowing he may not return? It seems like a sure-thing now, but how much would commercial pilots have charged for what Armstrong and Aldrin did? Do you think many would have done it at all? Government service is full of people who are perfectly willing to take the risk. Would a commercial entity have made that initial step with poor ROI?

That's not to say that it shouldn't be passed on to commercial interests after the initial development, but someone has to make the giant leap.

Northrop Grumman's Scaled Composites division managed to commercialize suborbital spaceflight after the way had been paved by government. I do agree that it took too long to reach that point, and perhaps with the existence of X-Prize and Bigelow's prize, we will now see increased efforts to commercialize space.

2008-Jun-27, 09:55 PM
Back in the 70's John Carpenter made a movie called "Dark Star" which took a humorous but rather insightful look at the dynamics of a small crew on a long space mission. Check it out if you can find it.

Keep up the great work!