Re: Mars: Go now, or wait?

Michael S. Lorrey (
Tue, 13 Apr 1999 08:44:51 -0400

Can Forrest, Brian, and others please stop CCing the other list addresses? Getting a box full of duplicate mail is a waste of time and resources.


Forrest Bishop wrote:

> <<From:
> Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1999 12:14:57 EDT
> Subject: Re: Mars: Go now, or wait?
> In a message dated 99-04-01 01:56:39 EST, (Spike Jones)
> wrote:
> > 1. Who believes we should wait for nanotech to start a Mars colony?>>
> Not I.
> > 2. Who believes we should wait for bio-suspension?
> Negative- it is not at all necessary.
> > 3. Who believes the point is to *have* an exocolony before these
> > other things come online?
> It would be a smart thing.
> > 4. Who believes we have the technology now and should start now,
> > even if it requires great discomfort and sacrifice on the part of
> > the first colonist(s)?
> We have the tech but not the working knowledge nor a viable business
> plan, nor
> economic launch capabilities. Fortunately, these things are all being
> addressed
> now, after a thirty-year hiatus.
> For an example of a ludicrous plan, see the MIT student proposal titled
> "Think Mars"
> It appears to be more of an indoctrination into the ways of the
> areospace culture than
> an actual, serious study.
> As part of my proposal, tentativly titled "Venture Mars", I have been
> asking people
> "Would you be willing to risk dying on Mars in exchange for the
> opportunity?", or
> "Would you die for Mars?"
> I am receiving very roughly a 50% positive response.
> <<As a long-time space enthusiast
> <>, my
> thinking about "Big Projects" in space development has undergone
> significant
> evolution over the years. Thirty years ago I certainly would have
> pushed for
> an early Apollo-style project for a manned Mars mission, and a
> government-funded Mars base as soon thereafter as possible. Now I'm
> very,
> very opposed to such an idea, because I'm sure it would do more harm
> than
> good, in the long run.>>
> I concur- just as the Space Shuttle has set us back a quarter century,
> so too
> would yet another government-sponsored, corporate welfare program.
> Indeed,
> the space station (ISS, Alpha, Freedom, or whatever it's being called
> today),
> by sucking up crucial resourses for ill-defined goals, is repeating the
> ongoing shuttle
> disaster. Just the cash blown on studies over the last 20 years could
> have purchased
> and launched a fleet of heavy-lift vehicles, large enough and cheap
> enough to
> put up several stations with relaxed design constraints.
> <<The transhumanist vision has been key in transforming my feelings
> about space
> development in one way more than any other: I now feel that patience is
> a
> PERSONAL virtue in my desire to reach the stars. Every year the
> technology
> for space development gets better and better and the cost for achieving
> any
> particular goal off-earth drops more and more. If I have a realistic
> expectation of a significantly lengthened life span, then it makes sense
> to
> be patient. Now, does this mean that I've postponed my expectations
> until
> after some magical nanotechnology breakthrough? No. Instead, I see a
> positive feedback with technologies that don't require such a complete
> breakthrough that puts the solar system into humanity's grasp in a
> realistic
> time-frame. >>
> Again, it's not a question of the technology, but of the economics. If a
> resourse
> were discovered on Mars that would fetch $10^9/kg (dilithium crystals or
> whatever),
> how long do you think it would take to establish a mining colony?
> <<"Early nanotech", meaning the kinds of material science we can expect
> without
> a full-blown Drextech assembler within the next 20-30 years, coupled
> with a
> maturing MEMs technology, should lower the strength-to-weight ratio of
> spacecraft >>
> Although strength-to-weight is a crucial parameter in some aerospace
> applications,
> I prefer to think in terms of "synergistic-capability-per-dollar" for
> most hardware.
> Also, a diamondoid ("Drextech") assembler is totally unnecessary for
> full-blown,
> strong nanotech.
> <<so significantly before 2030 that we can realistically expect
> major advances in near-earth economic development in that time frame.
> Establishing a large base on Luna and a largely self-sufficient small
> Mars
> colony by 2040 or so >>
> I think it will be much sooner than this, perhaps even within 15 years.
> --
> Forrest Bishop
> Manager,
> Interworld Productions, LLC
> Chairman,
> Institute of Atomic-Scale Engineering