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Mars X-Prize

Posted by: DLoney - Mon May 30, 2005 9:52 pm
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Mars X-Prize 
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Post Mars X-Prize   Posted on: Mon May 30, 2005 9:52 pm
Hello, I am a new member here, but have been visiting frequently for the past year…
The reason I registered, was because I wanted to ask yall a question that I have been thinking of for a while;
When do you think we will see an X-Prize Challenge for landing, living on for a short period of time, and returning from Mars?

I personally don’t think it is far off, and with today’s technology, it should not be hard…
:?:


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Post    Posted on: Mon May 30, 2005 10:29 pm
Trouble is, I for one, am not going to Mars on some pokey old chemical rocket. In interplanetary space, you have to deal with cosmic radiation, solar radiation, and bone and muscle loss from low gravity. That's why you want one of these.

And I bring this up because x-prize type competitions imply completely private funding. Unfortunately, It's not only really expensive to do anything nuclear period, the regulatory and public perception part of putting a nuclear reactor in space is going to be more than any private company is going to want to go through by itself.

Basically, it's still going to cost billions to put people on Mars. You're right that we have the technology today, but it's still a bit cutting-edge. And that cutting-edge stuff, in my opinion, is what we want NASA to ultimately focus on.


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Post    Posted on: Mon May 30, 2005 10:33 pm
Oh, welcome to the forum by the way.


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Post    Posted on: Tue May 31, 2005 12:02 am
DLoney,

Welcome on the forum.

Good question, I think "IF" the current industry keeps developing at it's current rate, it will be about 50 years from now, before the first private space ship will land on Mars.

The steps in between are:
1) Orbital
2) Leaving orbital
3) Landing and returning from the moon
4) A colony build on the moon
5) Landing and returning from mars

I think 4 and 5 can be very close to each other.

Of course.. we never know what technology there will be available in 20 years.. maybe Burt Rutan (or someone else) finds an easy way to go to Orbit.. making things a lot less expensive.
I don't expect anti gravity or some other ground breaking invention soon.. but who knows.. if we're lucky we'll be on mars in our life time :)

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Post    Posted on: Tue May 31, 2005 6:36 am
A lunar colony created by privates and privately funded could search for nuclear ressources at the moon. There would be no regulations of the use of such ressources unless they are carried to Earth.

A X-PRIZE for this would make sense as a step to private travels to Mars - but still we had to wait for privates settling at the moon and create industreis there...



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Post    Posted on: Tue May 31, 2005 1:35 pm
hey welcome aboard!

firstly i think as marshall so nicely put it " for one, am not going to Mars on some pokey old chemical rocket." lol
this may be a good alternative http://www.spacedaily.com/news/rocketscience-05ze.html at spacedaily.

i think it will be furthur off than people imagine! i realy do, but one step at a time hey!
i think the next 5 years will be crucial

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Post    Posted on: Tue May 31, 2005 5:03 pm
Let me start off by thanking everyone, for welcoming me to the form. It is much appreciated.

Marshall wrote:
Trouble is, I for one, am not going to Mars on some pokey old chemical rocket. In interplanetary space, you have to deal with cosmic radiation, solar radiation, and bone and muscle loss from low gravity…

Basically, it's still going to cost billions to put people on Mars. You're right that we have the technology today, but it's still a bit cutting-edge. And that cutting-edge stuff, in my opinion, is what we want NASA to ultimately focus on.


I agree with you that IF any attempt was made for landing on mars, it would not exclusively be propelled by the chemical process. It’s not probable! As the cost for lifting such a large substance of chemicals into space would be more than most people can imagine. But, (hear me out) a ship can be propelled by more than one source. There are many options, the most obvious being Nuclear powered, but as you already said, government sanctions (especially after 9/11) would most likely prevent any use of Nuclear power. But Nuclear powered is only one option; the second, most favorite (of mine) is solar wings. This would not only get the ship to mars, but in a less dangerous manor… A ship could even theoretically use a center of mass, such as the moon, or earth to give the ship an sling-shot like boost, using only a small quality of fuel, then relying on the solar wings to get it the rest of the way to mars (and repeat the process on the way back).

As far as cost, I have no doubt that it would cost untold amounts to send a ship to mars, but having multiple sponsors, plus a large prize (much, much larger) would be more than enough for companies to finance teams. Think of it this way, there are millions of companies out there hoping that one day, they can send people into space for vacation, but going to mars would even top that! As far as sitting back and letting NASA get to Mars fist, I feel that, doing that, is the wrong course of action. Look at NASA at its current state, they are under funded, and they also have to worry about political issues. At this rate, I bet that the private sector will land on the moon before NASA lands again.

Sigurd wrote:
Good question, I think "IF" the current industry keeps developing at it's current rate, it will be about 50 years from now, before the first private space ship will land on Mars.

The steps in between are:
1) Orbital
2) Leaving orbital
3) Landing and returning from the moon
4) A colony build on the moon
5) Landing and returning from mars


I agree that we are about 40-50 years away from landing on mars in the world’s current state. But an X-Prize competition would easily take 10-20 years off that time…

As far as the steps that we have to accomplish before a ship can be sent to mars, I don’t see why we cant skip a few of those steps. The first step will of course be leaving orbit, but this can be done now. There is no challenge in it. The only reason ships like SpaceShipOne does not go into orbit, is because it was not built to, if the challenge was to enter, and leave orbit, instead of just entering sub-orbital, the outcome of the challenge would have ended that way. What I am trying to say is that the ships that are built to enter sub-orbit will enter sub-orbit, and the ships that will be built to leave earth orbit will leave earth orbit, ect…

As far as landing on, and building a base on the moon, I don’t see the point. If our main goal is to reach mars, lets go for mars, and cut out the middle.

Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
A lunar colony created by privates and privately funded could search for nuclear resources at the moon. There would be no regulations of the use of such resources unless they are carried to Earth.

A X-PRIZE for this would make sense as a step to private travels to Mars - but still we had to wait for privates settling at the moon and create industries there...


I see your reasoning in your statement about landing on the moon, then finding and using the materials necessary to go to mars, but what’s the point of spending the time and resources of doing so, if you can get everything you need for a fight to mars here on earth? And as far as waiting for private industries to settle on the moon and create industries, ect. frist… Again, why wait, plus, there is no telling that by that time regulations have not been passed restricting such activities…

Rob Goldsmith wrote:
firstly i think as marshall so nicely put it " for one, am not going to Mars on some pokey old chemical rocket." lol
this may be a good alternative http://www.spacedaily.com/news/rocketscience-05ze.html at spacedaily.

i think it will be furthur off than people imagine! i realy do, but one step at a time hey!
i think the next 5 years will be crucial


Hey, thanks for the link!
I think that while we are a few dozen years away from landing on Mars, It is still in our lifetime, especially if we are pushed by something like an X-Prize. And I agree that the next 5 years will be crucial…

Thanks for everyone’s time, I tried not to ramble on too much.
-Daren Loney


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Post    Posted on: Tue May 31, 2005 6:13 pm
Uhm.... Why exactly are we 40-50 years from landing on Mars? We're not lacking the technology to send research expeditions: we already know how to make use of very inexpensive trajectories (that paper deals specifically with an Earth-to-Mars trajectory), even though they'll take you a while. We've had the technology to launch a human mission to Mars for thirty years. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise, because there's no difference in the thrust required to go to the Moon and the thrust required to go to Mars -- just in the amount of food, air, and water required to keep the astronauts alive.

Once the first privately funded vehicle makes it to orbit with people inside, it will probably be only a few years (say 5 or 10 at the most) before a privately funded vehicle breaks orbit and head for Mars with people inside.

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Post    Posted on: Tue May 31, 2005 8:10 pm
Yes true, the industry will have many seperated projects, so the moon will be "explored" while others will try to reach mars.

Of course, I think the first goal of many will be the moon, I think it will be atleast +- 10 years after the first private "manned" vehicle lands on the moon.
Since the first private manned vehicle will be a technology "test" vehicle anyway, and I think they will use the moon to "advance" the technology, until they are more self assured it's safe to go to Mars.
Also going to Mars needs a lot of planning... but of course work can start "before" the first private manned space ship lands on the moon (many people are already working to explore mars) http://www.marssociety.org/

I think Mars will not be a that large "goal" in the beginning (of course, I think when we reach the moon, relative compared to now, more people will be waiting to go to mars, than the moon now, cause more people than ever will be interested in space..).
For space tourism, the moon is a lot easier to acces, compared to mars, and the moon also provides a lot easier mining capabilities, so the moon is a better "business" in the beginning.

Quote:
The first step will of course be leaving orbit, but this can be done now. There is no challenge in it. The only reason ships like SpaceShipOne does not go into orbit, is because it was not built to, if the challenge was to enter, and leave orbit, instead of just entering sub-orbital, the outcome of the challenge would have ended that way. What I am trying to say is that the ships that are built to enter sub-orbit will enter sub-orbit, and the ships that will be built to leave earth orbit will leave earth orbit, ect…


I know you may have not ment to make it sound this way.. but just to avoid confusion.. for other people.. or if you did think this way..
While, of course a spaceship to go to orbit will go to orbit.. and will be build for this capabilities, an orbital space ship is 100 times more difficult and expensive compared to a sub orbital space ship.
So if the X PRIZE was orbital in the beginning, no one would have won in time.
The American Space Prize for Orbital exists already, X PRIZE will announce soon also an orbital prize...
So there is "really" a challange in it.. to make it cost less (compared to current government payed vehicles) so the "private" industry can build it.. currently there has never been a manned private space vehicle that stayed 24 hours in space, or even reached orbit for a few seconds.
Currently only 1 team (manned), reached 3 times sub orbital space for a very short moment, so don't make it sound too easy ;)

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Post    Posted on: Tue May 31, 2005 11:32 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
A lunar colony created by privates and privately funded could search for nuclear ressources at the moon. There would be no regulations of the use of such ressources unless they are carried to Earth.


Unfortunately the Moon isn't terribly rich in heavy, radioactive metals. If you could figure out a way to get controlled nuclear fusion to work such a colony would be a perfect place to set up shop considering the Moon's abundance of helium-3, but you'd have a tough time supporting a fission reactor with lunar resources alone. On second thought, maybe this is a good thing. If there was plenty of unregulated uranium there ripe for the picking anyone could show up and start selling the stuff to the world's terrorist organizations.

I don't see anything wrong with using chemical rockets to go to Mars. Their speed and payload capacity, while by no means great, should be sufficient for at least the first exploratory missions to the red planet. If the private industry ever wants to go to Mars with today's technology as a baseline they'll have to use chemical rockets; anything else would be far too expensive. Even using chemical propulsion, $5 billion is probably the lower limit for a manned Mars expedition, something that would be very difficult to attract investors to.

Mars will probably not be very useful as a tourist destination, at least until vastly more advanced propulsion systems are developed that make interplanetary travel quick, safe, and cheap. With chemical or nuclear thermal rockets it would take at least two years round-trip to make a Mars mission work. Using solar sails or plasma propulsion can improve that to nine months to a year round-trip time, but require the stay on Mars's surface to be greatly curtailed. By contrast the Moon is a quick three day flight from Earth that doesn't require one to wait for a launch window to open.

In terms of value for colonization, though, Mars is a much more enticing target. Unlike the Moon, Mars already has the resources ready to go to support a colony, including carbon, organic materials, radiation sheilding from its atmosphere, and a gentile 24 hours and 38 minutes day/night cycle. Lunar colonies will be intrinsically limited in size because of the massive amounts of artificial infrastructure required to support them. You just can't make a colony very big when you have to grow your plants using artificial lighting. On Mars the only limit to colony size is the number of people who will be willing to live the rest of their lives on an alien planet. Only Mars has the resources to truly allow a spacefaring civilization to take root.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Jun 01, 2005 4:27 pm
Of course people could pay to have plants brought in.

That is how it is going to work at first.

People never wait until they are a hundred percent ready to expand a frontier ;)

I think the gold rush mentality will take hold once its cheap enough to get to orbit.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Jun 01, 2005 5:10 pm
Just this moment I rmember that all might be closer to private Mars trips that we recognize - I explicitely say "private" because I don't know if "personal", "passenger" or "tourist" is within the boundaries of capacity: When asked John Powell answered in the General JP Aerospace Forum that he and his team have been thinking about landing the ATO on Mars because the atmospherical conditions at the sruface levek are similar to the earthian atmospherical conditions at the altotude of the Dark Sky Station - JP Aerospace's floating port from which the ATO will go to orbit.

He then terminated that detail because he doesn't wnat to talk too much about something he hasn't ready.

And as far as I remeber nothing has been said about the flight to Mars - I only could imagine that the idea of landing on the Mars includes the flight there by the ATO.

But a XPRIZE for Mars would make sense only if there were other teams too who could be able to fly and land there - which isn't the case.



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Post    Posted on: Sat Jun 18, 2005 12:20 am
spacecowboy wrote:
there's no difference in the thrust required to go to the Moon and the thrust required to go to Mars -- just in the amount of food, air, and water required to keep the astronauts alive.
The amount of consumables is not the problem, it is systems reliability and medical factors related to microgravity and radiation. I would want to see astronauts spend two years in GEO or above without any assistance from the ground before attempting a flight to Mars, just like they did a 2 week Gemini mission before Apollo. So far no vehicle or space station has been able to support a crew without resupply for that long. If problems are discovered, the crew could quickly return to Earth. If all goes well, just add a lander and go!


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Post MARS-NOW (at least very soon)   Posted on: Mon Aug 22, 2005 8:34 pm
Personally, I expect the timetable and cost for the first MARS trip to involve surprising low numbers. My estimated cost is $100 Million. (Not Billion!). Time depends on when adventurers wake up to this possibility, rather than depending on development of new technology.

It is easier to get to MARS than to the MOON, and much easier to land there! Getting back is moderately more difficult. Life support systems can be demonstrated in a trailer – on Earth – any time someone wants to start testing them. I am prototyping usable hardware at the moment, and have already demonstrated that the “Fuel Cell” based Oxygen regeneration is a cinch and COMPLETE water reprocessing is straightforward.

It will be practical to fund a MARS mission as “DocuTainment” video and movies. Sales of surface samples could produce a large actual profit for the trip.

The trip may not be more dangerous than climbing Mount Everest and probably will have no greater “guaranteed” health consequences than a Pro Sports career. I am of course talking about a “minimalist”, “ultralight” expedition, similar to early polar expeditions (except for involving only one or two people – with excellent audio and video communication). No “Tourist” frills will be included. Certainly, this is a SLOW, chemical propulsion trip.

http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2004 ... iation.htm
NASA 2004 wrote:
NASA weighs radiation danger in units of cancer risk. A healthy 40-year-old non-smoking American male stands a (whopping) 20% chance of eventually dying from cancer. That's if he stays on Earth. If he travels to Mars, the risk goes up.

The question is, how much?

"We're not sure," says Cucinotta. According to a 2001 study of people exposed to large doses of radiation--e.g., Hiroshima atomic bomb survivors and, ironically, cancer patients who have undergone radiation therapy--the added risk of a 1000-day Mars mission lies somewhere between 1% and 19%. "The most likely answer is 3.4%," says Cucinotta, "but the error bars are wide."

Compare this to the approximately 50% risk SMOKERS accept (of an early death from the various effects of tobacco) for “enjoying that habit”.
My estimates assume that Elon Musk is serious about “Man Rating” the Falcon 5, and holding down costs. The Falcon 1 has over three times the payload capacity of the MOOSE reentry design, so that this smaller rocket can not only achieve manned orbital flight, but may itself be able to propel a manned circumlunar trip. (With $ 6 Million launch cost).

You may be unwilling to pay this price to be the first to walk on MARS, but plenty of others will consider it a bargain.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Aug 22, 2005 10:22 pm
rpspeck: We need the psychology studies done. Two people might not last more than a few weeks locked up together in a cramped tin can, especially when they know they're gonna be there for a couple of years. Quite frankly, I think you're asking for magic (I might be wrong, of course), on the part of both the machinery and the people involved.

Peter: you've definitely got a point, and thank you for correcting me. Naturally, I have an inclination to believe that private groups could build more reliable systems than NASA, but that doesn't mean we want to repeat the insane risks of the first Shuttle flight (fully crewed but never man-rated).

hbrika: We'd greatly appreciate it if, in the future, you'd include an actual argument with your opinion: remember the mnemnonic ACE: Assertion, Commentary, Evidence: "This is what I think, this is why I think so, and here's my proof." And I contest your point of a "gold rush mentality". Personally, I'd absolutely love to see it happen, and I am continually trying to find a way to make it so. However, I just don't see that coming about without something really drastic. Mars is just too tough a place to make livable.

von Braun: The EEC is currently planning on building a sustainable large-scale fusion reactor in France in 2016. No word on how exactly they plan to build this, but it was noted in the last issue of Discover.

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