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Martian Futures, Will man really colonize the planets?
J.J.
post Nov 11 2006, 11:13 PM
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Great post, DonPMitchell.

<<Consider the famous scenes in 2001, where a NASA official flies to a beautiful space station operated by Pan Am airlines and then on to a Lunar colony. You're looking at a simulated trillion dollar infrastructure, but why was it built? Who is using it? Who is paying for it? How does it make money? What are people doing on the Moon that is worth all this? These are issues that science fiction simply overlooks.>>

Excellent point. As a budding sci-fi writer, one of the rules I'm learning from the greats is that one must make their world internally consistent. In short, don't put things in the story just because they look cool--make them not only fit into the setting, but do so in a sensible fashion, so that their very existence makes sense. For instance, one shouldn't write about flying cars if they're not willing to consider the very real questions of cost, where these things will travel, how dangerous they are (how could a car without wheels come to a sudden stop?), how many people use them, and the like.

<< Human activity is the true definition of wealth, and human presence is what makes a destination interesting.>>

Again, ditto.

For my part, I think economics are only part of the obstacles in the way of colonization. A major roadblock is sustainability--more specifically, keeping a colony going.

Time and again, I've read that we should colonize space to keep all our eggs outside of one basket, to borrow a line from Carl Sagan; it's a big, scary universe out there, and one never knows what plague or asteroid could do us in. This requires self-sufficient colonies, and for the forseeable future I think any such settlement will stay over the horizon. As far as I know, we don't even have self-sufficient colonies in Antarctica; doing the same for the Moon, let alone Mars, will be exceedingly difficult. There is much more we don't know about living in space than we do. I'll list just a few of the problems and unknowns:

--There seems to be great reluctance to invest heavily in novel forms of propulsion that, IMO, will be absolutely necessary for serious off-world transport. There is a similar lag in research in cheap access to space; to my knowledge, only private companies are seriously pursuing this, and shakily at that. I feel that both will be vital for any offworld colonization.

--Gravity. The problems of living in zero-G are well known. What we *are* in the dark about is how the human body responds to prolonged low-G conditions. We have no idea how the body will adapt to Lunar or Martian gravity over a lifetime--especially for creatures conceived and raised in such an environment. Which brings me to...

--Procreation. Any self-sufficient colony must be able to reproduce itself, and that will be a thorny issue. Barring constantly making new suits for them, they would probably have to stay indoors constantly. While in their minority, they would probably contribute almost nothing to the community.

--Psychology. We don't know how people will respond over long periods of time to bizarre diurnal cycles. I've heard it said that even the slight offset in the Martian sol WRT Earth could wreak havoc with the human circadian rhythm over a long time period. Nor do we know how people will adapt to living either indoors or in a suit for the rest of their lives.

--Purpose. Imagine a community of 1,000 people on Earth. Ideally, this community is made up of people of all ages, and everyone has something to do. Some teach, some learn, most work for various capitalist ventures. In a small Martian colony, this model might not work; there will be nothing to buy, sell, or make beyond the bare essentials, save for the development of currency, which would entail a whole series of other problems that we're intimately aware of on Earth. In short, unless they were scientists, these people wouldn't be doing much.

I can imagine a future in which scientists and miners regularly commute to and from space, whether their destination is the Moon, a NEO, or Mars. However, I cannot see any self-sustaining offworld colonies as being probable. Ironically, I think the best chance for humans to colonize another planet would be to find another Earthlike planet with a breathable atmosphere within a few parsecs, rather than wholesale colonization of the Solar System. Of course, maybe terraforming can change everything, but I think the time and effort involved in turning say, Mars into a Earthlike planet would certainly be no worse spent building an interstellar colonizing vessel to go to some Earthlike planet fairly close-by.


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Guest_PhilCo126_*
post Nov 12 2006, 05:07 PM
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This is nice !
http://manconquersspace.com/
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Stu
post Nov 12 2006, 05:57 PM
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QUOTE (PhilCo126 @ Nov 12 2006, 05:07 PM) *


Oh wow, I can't WAIT to see that! Bonestellian spaceships flying to Mars! That will be beautiful...!! cool.gif


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djellison
post Nov 12 2006, 06:10 PM
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I've followed MCS for a few years - the lenths the guy has gone to and the trouble he has had....and the results he's got from his work all defy belief.

Doug
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nprev
post Nov 12 2006, 06:32 PM
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Oh, man...I'm drooling!!! THIS will be a must-have DVD.

EDIT: I just watched the clips...wow. Wow. That "Saturn Shuttle" launch is straight out of my dreams!

Ironically, of course, one of the reasons this never came to pass was the advent of UMSF itself as a cost-effective means to accomplish MSF missions. I'm sure Von Braun assumed that the average space station would require about a dozen electronics techs to change tubes & do maintenance (which was one of the reasons that I became an electronics tech, but I digress...)biggrin.gif


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nprev
post Nov 14 2006, 02:08 AM
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QUOTE (Stu @ Nov 12 2006, 09:57 AM) *
Oh wow, I can't WAIT to see that! Bonestellian spaceships flying to Mars! That will be beautiful...!! cool.gif


Attached Image


Love it as well, Stu- nice combo pic! Just out of curiosity, do you suppose that smoking is permitted on the ships?... laugh.gif


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lyford
post Nov 14 2006, 03:40 AM
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QUOTE (PhilCo126 @ Nov 12 2006, 09:07 AM) *

OMG! More Crew Cuts and pressure suits, please!


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"Zis is not nuts, zis is super-nuts!" Mathematician Richard Courant on viewing an Orion test
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nprev
post Nov 14 2006, 04:08 AM
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Yeah...but what a great idea! This is EXACTLY the future that all us spacefans 40 or older envisioned as kids...I want it, I want it, I want it! biggrin.gif biggrin.gif biggrin.gif


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Stu
post Nov 14 2006, 06:33 AM
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QUOTE (nprev @ Nov 14 2006, 02:08 AM) *
Love it as well, Stu- nice combo pic! Just out of curiosity, do you suppose that smoking is permitted on the ships?... laugh.gif


In certain areas, probably. Plus, spacefaring law will surely dictate that 1) the captain has to be a gravel-voiced, rugged, square-jawed type with a buzz haircut, 2) there's a baby-faced, hyper-keen junior officer who's always unbearably chirpy and gets into all kinds of scrapes, 3) everyone says things like "Holy moley!" and "jimminy!" at times of stress, and 4) the token mega-intellectual but beautiful female crew members wear tight-fitting silver jumpsuits and regularly twist their ankles and fall to the ground with a piercing scream when running away from duststorms or clunking robot monsters, requiring them to be scooped off the ground just in the nick of time by the aforementioned captain.

Oh, and a sub-clause will require all female crew members to have glittery purple hair, like on UFO... tongue.gif


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lyford
post Nov 14 2006, 07:13 AM
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Don't forget the cast member-plot device that somehow made it into the crew but still needs all the basics of spaceflight explained to him/her.


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Lyford Rome
"Zis is not nuts, zis is super-nuts!" Mathematician Richard Courant on viewing an Orion test
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Guest_PhilCo126_*
post Nov 14 2006, 06:00 PM
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Two more Martian future weblinks:

http://www.exploremarsnow.org/imagineMars.html

http://spot.colorado.edu/~marscase/cfm/cfm84/cfm84plan.html


mars.gif
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nprev
post Nov 15 2006, 02:39 AM
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At the risk of sounding overly optimistic, this film may provide the exact sort of stimulus needed to make it really happen. I've said it before & I'll say it again...marketing ideas is critical, esp. when national expenditures of such magnitude are required. Seeing what might have been may well raise the question/imperative "Well, why didn't it happen by now, and let's do it already?!" in many minds...how I wish that NASA had been so much more proficient at this task for lo these many years.


Stu, don't forget that at least one of the most reliable, solid crewmen must utter the words "Careful...it might be radioactive!!!" with Theramin music in the background during a critical event... biggrin.gif

EDIT: I forwarded the teaser clip from the site to a bunch of my friends at Los Angeles AFB...time to start some buzz, these people will definitely dig it... smile.gif


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A few will take this knowledge and use this power of a dream realized as a force for change, an impetus for further discovery to make less ancient dreams real.
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Guest_PhilCo126_*
post Dec 8 2006, 08:06 PM
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Just sharing another great website with superb computer graphics...
ohmy.gif

http://www.flickr.com/photos/flyingsinger/page3/


and:

http://www.aovi93.dsl.pipex.com/mars_for_less.htm


mars.gif
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Guest_PhilCo126_*
post Dec 24 2006, 03:15 PM
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And:
http://www.marsproject.com/tour.htm
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Bob Shaw
post Dec 24 2006, 11:02 PM
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QUOTE (Stu @ Nov 12 2006, 05:57 PM) *
Oh wow, I can't WAIT to see that! Bonestellian spaceships flying to Mars! That will be beautiful...!! cool.gif


Stu:

That A4b-esque vehicle is a bit out of place, in all honesty. And generally speaking, those guys would *not* have aimed for the interior of Victoria! But Meridiani is *exactly* the sort of landing site which Von Braun considered for his big delta glider landers... ...some fertile ground for image manipulation there, I think!

Bob Shaw


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