the case for Mars (was the case for the eradication of unmanned Mars missions)

Brian D Williams (
Wed, 8 Dec 1999 11:26:24 -0800 (PST)

FROM "Robert J. Bradbury" <>

>I question that, watching the recent PBS series on space, I
>became pretty convinced that the entire effort was due to the
>fact that the Russians were kicking our pappoochka in space.

>It was a fight to justify the good 'ole democratic system.

>I'm also not sure that Nixon could be viewed as non-visionary.
>Though, perhaps Johnson started it, I think Nixon gave a big
>boost to the "War on Cancer". He also gets credited with
>normalizing relations with China. It wasn't that he didn't
>see things its just that his priorities were different.

I agree that there was alot of the ole cold war mentality involved, I'm actually interested in using China's recent interest in Mars to light a new fire.

I don't find nixon's actions with China particularly visionary.

>Though I haven't read "Entering Space", I would strongly question
>his analysis. You also aren't discussing the same point
>here, Eugene's comment is on self-rep lunar factory (now the
>devil is in the details because the critical factor is the
>doubling time). The benefit here is *not* in power but in
>the fact that you have self-replication. Self-replication
>(if its fast enough) makes everything "relatively" free.

>I strongly doubt that Zubrin understands either self-replication
>or nanotechnology sufficiently to *discredit* "Cheap Power from
>Space". All he can possibly do is point out that using current
>technologies it isn't going to be "cheap". I mean really now,
>quoting Zubrin as a source on this list? For heaven's sake
>this man wants to *colonize* something at the bottom of a
>gravity well. That means you are going to have to pay
>through the nose every time you want to go someplace else
>or ship something. Give me exclusivity on the Mars to Earth
>FedEx route and I'll show you a rich man.

We don't have self replicating factories or Nanotechnology, and neither "The Case For Mars" nor "Entering Space" discusses them, whether or not Dr Zubrin understands them (my bet is he does) since neither exists yet they were not included in the discussion.

It would of course be more accurate to say that using current technology the idea of cheap power from space is ludicrous.

And yes anything you ship from earth will be expensive, and I wouldn't mind having the concession either, it probably will be FedX or UPS. ;)

>The idea of "colonizing" a planet has been discredited since
>O'Neill showed it was entirely unnecessary. I think Greg
>is right, that the Mars folks are a bunch of romantic
>idealists in love with their pipe dreams.


Whats the price tag on an O'Neill colony? (I'm a former L-5 supporter)

Lets not forget that Mars's gravity well is 1/3 of earth.

Call me a romantic idealist, I don't mind....

>Since you have to have a completely sealed environment anyway
>(otherwise your atmosphere leaks out) you are never going to
>lose any H2O. So you can get buy with a lot less than you
>need in an Earth based environment. With colonization you
>are going to need power, lots of it, and for that the moon
>is better.

No such thing, everything leaks, even the earth itself, the shuttle leaks like a sieve.

By power on the moon you mean solar obviously, which Mars gets less of. probably nuclear, hopefully fusion. Mars has some heat, maybe geothermal.

>Eugene, I don't think thats accurate. If you've got calculations
>I'd like to see them. NASA is studying mass drivers to assist
>launching on Earth, so I would think they have to work on Mars.
>The question comes down to whether the friction limits launch
>speed to sub-orbital rates, in which case you need rocket assists.

Correct, and Mars has 2/3 the gravity.

>>Mars should be a second step. If you have the Moon, Mars is easy.
>>Not vice versa. And you can't do both, it's too expensive.

>If you did self-replication here on Earth first, you could do them
>both very quickly and very cheaply...

Actually you can settle the moon after Mars, and of course IF we had self rep, both would be easy.

>So is space itself. In fact sometime in the next couple of years
>we will have people doing just that.

Your refering to that overpriced boondogle/work project for the shuttle, the ISS? Isn't it smaller than skylab?

>Its worth noting that most of the arguments for Mars *or* the
>Moon work for Near Earth Asteroids as well (they have lots of raw
>materials, etc.) and don't have the disadvantage of a deap
>gravity well.

As I've pointed out, Mars doesn't have a deep gravity well (compared to earth) more like a wading pool.


Member, Extropy Institute, Life Extension Foundation,
National Rifle Association,, 1.800.672.3888 Mars Society,
Ameritech Data Center Chicago, IL, Local 134 I.B.E.W