European Mars Mission

Just caught this article on BBC’s website. I’m glad other countries are getting more and more involved in space exploration. I half-expected to see a Nike swoosh or Pepsi logo on the craft, though.

Japan already has an orbiter on the way to Mars for an early 2004 arrival. NASA has two Mars rovers scheduled for launch this year, along with the SIRTF launch in the fall.

Go Humans!

I’m still waiting for Buster machines :/

I think expecting an FTL Earth fleet by 2015 is a bit much. The Silver Star space station is in progress.

Hey, if there’s a will there’s a way! Aim for the Top!
I think what went wrong was that Soviet fell. I mean, where are we going to get our Jung-Freud now? The antagonists of these days aren’t romantic enough to cooperate with in the event of giant space bugs trying to wipe us out.

I’m hoping China’s manned space program results in some sort of impetus for getting the USA’s manned program together.

Alas, they seem to be getting ready to launch a late-60s-level craft, so any thought of China trying to colonize the moon or Mars is a bit… optimisitic. (But on the bright side, they do need the room…)

Can the Moon’s soil be used for growing, by the way? Does it have the minerals and so on for it to work, and just lacks the other conditions for plant life, or is it similar to a lot of the Earth’s soil, which is impossible to grow anything on (which seems likelier, unfortunately)?
If so, I don’t think anyone would dream of trying to transport all the crap you’d need for some ego project like colonizing the moon.

Yeah, I think any kind of pressure is good. The more organizations working in the field, the better.

I just read John Varley’s new novel, Red Thunder, basically, a bunch of kids fly to Mars because they can.

It’s actually only so-so as Varley’s stuff goes, and the development of the aqueezer bubble thing is just too implausible, even if you consider it as a basic assumption of the nove, since it so grossly violates so many basic natural laws.

But nevertheless, the reason I mention it here is that the book has some good analysis of why our space program is so stupid and why it has been that way for such a long time. Basically the idea is we only invest in space either because other competing nations force us to, or because there is an immediate cash return.

There are a couple of things I wonder about in the book though:

  1. Why, if the novel was written before the most recent shuttle disaster didn’t Varley revise just a page or two to mention it when discussing the history of the space program? It seems strange to omit it.

  2. The book seems to be set in the very near future, yet Varley really seems to think that we will be launching “VentureStar” shuttle-replacement flights regularly quite soon. Personally I doubt we will see a viable NASA shuttle replacement for 20 years, and so far as I recall, the last shuttle replacement prototype program was cancelled for want of a couple of million dollars to keep it alive.

I doubt the dusty stuff on the moon’s crust would support growing food even with organic nutrients added (but I’m no farmer), but that doesn’t matter. All you gotta find is ice – hydroponics, baby!

Ice gets you just about everything. Water for drinking. Hydroponics for growing plants. Oxygen for breathing. And by separating the hydrogen, fuel for your fuel cells.

Find some ice on the moon or Mars and you can create a fairly self-sustaining colony.

We’re going to need some serious robotics advances before a mars or moon colony gives a positive rate of return.

Had to read a page about hydroponics, but now that I have, I wonder: does it reproduce the greatest positive about growing things in soil, namely the fact that dead plants transfer its energy to the soil which in turn transfers it to growing plants, in effect ever supplying the bio-system with energy?

If by energy you mean organic matter then no, not in a fast enough manner. It would take too long to get the soil up to scratch with enough imported organic matter. And then there is the whole no atmosphere thing. In theory the advantage of hydroponics is that you can have a closed system, and recycle waste or unused products. Plants also grow quicker, as you can pump light and nutrients into them continuously. Not that I know anything about these things. At all.

That was sort of what I was asking, are you able to recycle the dead plants and so on, so that if you look at it long term, you will come to a point where you’re not dependent on Earth products?
If you use hydroponics that is.

If the system was large enough, yes. The problem is the build up of toxic by-products. You want to save space and downtime of materials and what occurs is that the nasties that would normally breakdown over a long period of time, say happily rotting somewhere, get forced back into the system quickly where they can be absorbed and build up.

If you want to know what a total loon, sorry believer thinks about these sort of things, borrow “The Millennial Project: colonizing the Galaxy in eight easy steps” by Marshall T. Savage, or search the web for “First Millennial Foundation”