Re: Exploring Mars
Sat, 11 Dec 1999 18:07:08 EST

In a message dated 12/8/99 1:46:34 PM Central Standard Time, writes:

> In the Mars direct plan, after a voyage of 6 months, the team would

> spent a year and a half on the surface.
> Anybody think that is a bad idea?

For someone who grew up with the Apollo program as a sort of secular religion, it's hard not to support the Mars Direct mission or others of its kind. But I'm deeply skeptical of the possibility that such a mission will be mounted in the current political and economic milieu. As others have pointed out, the time-frame when missions of this kind could first be realistically attempted (the 2010s) is when we ought to begin to see dramatic impact from technologies that will create a new political and economic environment, one in which much more ambitious projects can be attempted within a relatively short time (by, say, 2025 or so), with less cost and risk and more benefit. Accordingly, I think these plans are being made for a very narrow window of time. I think working on such plans does no harm and serves to keep people interested and enthusiastic about space exploration and development. I just think they have a decreasing likelihood of ever happening because they will be overtaken by developments outside the narrow confines of space technology.

      Greg Burch     <>----<>
      Attorney  :::  Vice President, Extropy Institute  :::  Wilderness Guide   -or-
        "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know 
        enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another    
       question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
                                           -- Desmond Morris