Author Topic: Neil deGrasse Tyson doubts humans will ever walk on Mars  (Read 9895 times)

Offline Star One

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These are the relevant parts of the interview.

Bit surprised to hear him say this as I thought he was more visionary than this.

Quote
What do you see as the most important venture in space exploration right now?

I like that there's a desire to want to send people to Mars. I have my scepticism about how and when that will happen, but I will not stand in their way because somebody's got to dream like that. You can live in a country where everything is stable, but if it's a place where no-one dreams about a different future, then I don't know that it's where I would want to live. I admire the people who have the tenacity to send others to Mars.

What makes you sceptical?


The money. To go to Mars because you want to, my reading of history says that doesn't work. We didn't go to the Moon because we wanted to. We may remember it that way, because it serves a certain self-image we're Americans, we're explorers, it's in our DNA, so we went to the Moon. That's just assuming it's a thing you do, without asking what's driving this, what's allocating the money for this? When you do that, you find that war and economics are the big drivers of major expenditures. I think there are many drivers for sending people into space touristic, militaristic; these are very potent drivers of human conduct and the expenditure of financial capital. I imagine tourism, mining of asteroids as a frontier space activity. I'm sure the world's first trillionaire is the person who learns how to mine asteroids.

http://www.wired.co.uk/article/neil-degrasse-tyson-welcome-to-the-universe

Offline MattMason

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Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson doubts humans will ever walk on Mars
« Reply #1 on: 05/02/2017 01:23 PM »
My God.

I find myself actually agreeing with NDT for, like, the first time ever.

He's right. Unless the government has a pressing cause (such as wartime), why would they put a lot of money into a Mars adventure at this stage? That's not to say it can't happen, but there'd have to be a very strong justification to compel most of Congress to do so.

Now if the CNSA announced a formal manned mission to Mars, we might get fired up.
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Offline su27k

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Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson doubts humans will ever walk on Mars
« Reply #2 on: 05/02/2017 01:49 PM »
My God.

I find myself actually agreeing with NDT for, like, the first time ever.

He's right. Unless the government has a pressing cause (such as wartime), why would they put a lot of money into a Mars adventure at this stage? That's not to say it can't happen, but there'd have to be a very strong justification to compel most of Congress to do so.

His argument is predicated on the assumption that a manned Mars mission would exceed the current NASA HSF budget by a wide margin, the argument fails if you assume the mission is doable under the current HSF budget.

In fact didn't Mike Griffin argue that if you average NASA budget by 10 to 15 years, Apollo era doesn't have any extraordinary budget hike? The current NASA budget is huge, what is needed is not more money but how to use what they have wisely.

Offline Lar

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Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson doubts humans will ever walk on Mars
« Reply #3 on: 05/02/2017 02:04 PM »
His main issue is that he has "only government can do this" blinders on.  NdGT doesn't see why there's money in it because he has a "research is the only reason" mindset. I find him less and less credible about anything to do with NASA, or  anything to do with government, really.

Musk's response: Hold my beer, watch this.

(not really, Musk is working with NASA and will leverage assets, share data, etc... but if NASA wasn't there any more and it was only commercial from here on out? I think he'd still be trying to find ways to do it)

NdGT is right about a Mars mission if it's purely government/SLS ... never happen.
« Last Edit: 05/02/2017 02:05 PM by Lar »
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline yg1968

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Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson doubts humans will ever walk on Mars
« Reply #4 on: 05/02/2017 02:07 PM »
I am sceptical too. There doesn't seem to be any funding for a lander.

That is one of the reasons that I support a deep space habitat. It ensures that we are not left with nothing if the Mars plans stall. 

This must also be the first time that I agree with Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Offline Star One

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Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson doubts humans will ever walk on Mars
« Reply #5 on: 05/02/2017 02:23 PM »
His main issue is that he has "only government can do this" blinders on.  NdGT doesn't see why there's money in it because he has a "research is the only reason" mindset. I find him less and less credible about anything to do with NASA, or  anything to do with government, really.

Musk's response: Hold my beer, watch this.

(not really, Musk is working with NASA and will leverage assets, share data, etc... but if NASA wasn't there any more and it was only commercial from here on out? I think he'd still be trying to find ways to do it)

NdGT is right about a Mars mission if it's purely government/SLS ... never happen.

By heck I actually agree with you as he seems to be speaking as if there aren't people like Mr Musk, who yes will take government help in the way you describe, but the actual money will come from private industry. In this case I think it's going to be the private sector that makes this happen not the government and that's what he seems to completely miss.

Online meberbs

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Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson doubts humans will ever walk on Mars
« Reply #6 on: 05/02/2017 02:40 PM »
Title of this thread is misleading. "scepticism about how and when that will happen" is very different from "doubts humans will ever walk on Mars." While the second one represents a terrible attitude that something can't and won't be done, even 100 or 500 years from now, the first is much more reasonable. His skepticism is based on money, and NASA's current plans are too expensive to ever be effective. Musk is lowering the price, and while I think ITS will work out, it is a crazy plan and Musk realizes that too. Since the main way there will be enough funding for it is if their satellite constellation is a great success, people who doubt if on funding have a good point today, just look at the funding slide from the ITS announcement.

When he talks about expanding into space, he mentions tourism and economic motivating factors. I think his forward vision is more similar to Bezos' which doesn't involve Mars in the near term at all.

Offline Lar

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Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson doubts humans will ever walk on Mars
« Reply #7 on: 05/02/2017 02:58 PM »
By heck I actually agree with you
IKR !!! ??? !!!

Quote
as he seems to be speaking as if there aren't people like Mr Musk, who yes will take government help in the way you describe, but the actual money will come from private industry. In this case I think it's going to be the private sector that makes this happen not the government and that's what he seems to completely miss.

This is a persistent and consistent blind spot with him, not just about Mars but about commercial space in general. I otherwise like him, think he's doing good things for STEM and raising science awareness in general but this? It's enough that I semi-automatically discount anything he says about what's possible in space.  ... I think my fanboyism is tempered by reality, it could all fail, but there's some hope.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline mme

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Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson doubts humans will ever walk on Mars
« Reply #8 on: 05/02/2017 03:00 PM »
Title of this thread is misleading. "scepticism about how and when that will happen" is very different from "doubts humans will ever walk on Mars." While the second one represents a terrible attitude that something can't and won't be done, even 100 or 500 years from now, the first is much more reasonable. His skepticism is based on money, and NASA's current plans are too expensive to ever be effective. Musk is lowering the price, and while I think ITS will work out, it is a crazy plan and Musk realizes that too. Since the main way there will be enough funding for it is if their satellite constellation is a great success, people who doubt if on funding have a good point today, just look at the funding slide from the ITS announcement.

When he talks about expanding into space, he mentions tourism and economic motivating factors. I think his forward vision is more similar to Bezos' which doesn't involve Mars in the near term at all.
Fair points. He's actually softened his tone, mentioning the "dreamers" is new compared to what I recall him saying in the past.  But at times I think he is unaware of Blue Origin, SpaceX, and the ever growing list of slightly eccentric billionaires in the world that see money as a means and not an end.

Personally, I'd like to have a transparent, well functioning government with a populace that supports exploration and basic research. But until slightly eccentric billionaires take on that cause, I'll settle for slightly eccentric billionaires dragging us back into space.
Space is not Highlander.  There can, and will, be more than one.

Offline Lee Jay

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Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson doubts humans will ever walk on Mars
« Reply #9 on: 05/02/2017 03:02 PM »
My God.

I find myself actually agreeing with NDT for, like, the first time ever.

That's odd.  He says a lot of things that are scientific fact.

His main issue is that he has "only government can do this" blinders on.

He didn't say that at all.
His argument is predicated on the assumption that a manned Mars mission would exceed the current NASA HSF budget by a wide margin,

Where did he say that?

Offline Graham

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Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson doubts humans will ever walk on Mars
« Reply #10 on: 05/02/2017 03:03 PM »
Maybe as a college undergrad I'm young and naive because I want a job, and because I haven't watched cancellations and budget cuts for forty years- but I see no reason to believe SpaceX or another similarly motivated company won't take is to Mars eventually. It may not immediately be the grandiose 100+ people colonization ships that Musk likes to talk about, and it may not be as soon as he likes to say (see Falcon Heavy)- but he has given us no reason to doubt the Mars plans yet.
« Last Edit: 05/02/2017 08:57 PM by Graham »
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Offline Star One

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Neil deGrasse Tyson doubts humans will ever walk on Mars
« Reply #11 on: 05/02/2017 03:06 PM »
By heck I actually agree with you
IKR !!! ??? !!!

Quote
as he seems to be speaking as if there aren't people like Mr Musk, who yes will take government help in the way you describe, but the actual money will come from private industry. In this case I think it's going to be the private sector that makes this happen not the government and that's what he seems to completely miss.

This is a persistent and consistent blind spot with him, not just about Mars but about commercial space in general. I otherwise like him, think he's doing good things for STEM and raising science awareness in general but this? It's enough that I semi-automatically discount anything he says about what's possible in space.  ... I think my fanboyism is tempered by reality, it could all fail, but there's some hope.

I posted the article to a great extent because I was disappointed in what he said in it. I don't expect him to suddenly throw realism out the window and become completely unrealistic about the prospects of humans on Mars but I would have hoped he'd at least acknowledge the aspirations of those like Elon Musk not just speak as if they didn't exist. Also he could have least acknowledged the fact that such missions may well occur outside the government sphere.

Even an old cynic like me would still want to see something like the ITS built before he goes to his grave.
« Last Edit: 05/02/2017 03:08 PM by Star One »

Offline RonM

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Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson doubts humans will ever walk on Mars
« Reply #12 on: 05/02/2017 03:18 PM »
Of course, the big issue is money. Neil is probably right about government. What he doesn't understand is the space enthusiast billionaire. If SpaceX can generate enough income, Elon is sending ships to Mars. If SpaceX cannot generate enough income, Elon needs to sweet talk his buddy Jeff Bezos. As the fifth richest man in the world, Mr. Bezos has enough wealth to send ships to Mars as a hobby.

Offline muomega0

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Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson doubts humans will ever walk on Mars
« Reply #13 on: 05/02/2017 03:41 PM »
Quote
What do you see as the most important venture in space exploration right now?

I like that there's a desire to want to send people to Mars. I have my scepticism about how and when that will happen, but I will not stand in their way because somebody's got to dream like that. You can live in a country where everything is stable, but if it's a place where no-one dreams about a different future, then I don't know that it's where I would want to live. I admire the people who have the tenacity to send others to Mars.

What makes you sceptical?

I think there are many drivers for sending people into space touristic, militaristic;  I imagine tourism, mining of asteroids as a frontier space activity. I'm sure the world's first trillionaire is the person who learns how to mine asteroids.
http://www.wired.co.uk/article/neil-degrasse-tyson-welcome-to-the-universe

This gateway for human space exploration requires three things:
1-  a thorough asteroid survey to find thousands of nearby bodies suitable for astronauts to visit;
 2- extending flight duration and distance capability to ever-increasing ranges out to Mars;
 3- developing better robotic vehicles and tools to enable astronauts to explore an asteroid regardless of its size, shape or spin.


Inspace refueling reduces LV size, enables reuse, expands NASA and DOD missions sets (BEO, space junk, and tech maturation) lower launch costs to create/expand new markets in faster global coverage communications, SMART Electric Grid, Transportation, Drone Delivery and the IPs can also help reduce costs by providing 70% of the mission mass: dirt cheap, class D propellant.

Yes, Find Asteriods to get to Mars  8)

NASA can develop a deep space transportation architecture to lower the cost of science and HSF missions, and perhaps create a new trillionaire along the way.  Quite the exciting future indeed.

Offline Kansan52

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Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson doubts humans will ever walk on Mars
« Reply #14 on: 05/02/2017 03:46 PM »
Maybe as a college undergrad I'm young and naive because I want a job, and because I haven't watched cancellations and budget cuts for forty- but I see no reason to believe SpaceX or another similarly motivated company won't take is to Mars eventually. It may not immediately be the grandiose 100+ people colonization ships that Musk likes to talk about, and it may not be as soon as he likes to say (see Falcon Heavy)- but he has given us no reason to doubt the Mars plans yet.

Having lived through Sputnik to now, keep the faith and keep going. These are exciting times!

Online meberbs

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Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson doubts humans will ever walk on Mars
« Reply #15 on: 05/02/2017 03:58 PM »
Of course, the big issue is money. Neil is probably right about government. What he doesn't understand is the space enthusiast billionaire. If SpaceX can generate enough income, Elon is sending ships to Mars. If SpaceX cannot generate enough income, Elon needs to sweet talk his buddy Jeff Bezos. As the fifth richest man in the world, Mr. Bezos has enough wealth to send ships to Mars as a hobby.
I think it was second richest at last count, Amazon has apparently been having a good year.

Offline Star One

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Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson doubts humans will ever walk on Mars
« Reply #16 on: 05/02/2017 04:35 PM »
Of course, the big issue is money. Neil is probably right about government. What he doesn't understand is the space enthusiast billionaire. If SpaceX can generate enough income, Elon is sending ships to Mars. If SpaceX cannot generate enough income, Elon needs to sweet talk his buddy Jeff Bezos. As the fifth richest man in the world, Mr. Bezos has enough wealth to send ships to Mars as a hobby.
I think it was second richest at last count, Amazon has apparently been having a good year.

Not to go too far OT but so has Tesla according to all the press reports.

Offline RonM

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Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson doubts humans will ever walk on Mars
« Reply #17 on: 05/02/2017 05:16 PM »
Of course, the big issue is money. Neil is probably right about government. What he doesn't understand is the space enthusiast billionaire. If SpaceX can generate enough income, Elon is sending ships to Mars. If SpaceX cannot generate enough income, Elon needs to sweet talk his buddy Jeff Bezos. As the fifth richest man in the world, Mr. Bezos has enough wealth to send ships to Mars as a hobby.
I think it was second richest at last count, Amazon has apparently been having a good year.

Not to go too far OT but so has Tesla according to all the press reports.

Yes, I think Elon stands a pretty good chance of funding ITS. We'll just have to wait and see.

Offline Hauerg

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Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson doubts humans will ever walk on Mars
« Reply #18 on: 05/02/2017 05:41 PM »
I am sceptical too. There doesn't seem to be any funding for a lander.
...
That's why the "the second stage IS the transfer module IS the lander IS the return module" of ITS is the only thing that makes sense.
You will never get a half dozen elements funded "the NASA way". Or if it is funded it will take eternity plus 30 years.

Offline sevenperforce

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Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson doubts humans will ever walk on Mars
« Reply #19 on: 05/02/2017 06:17 PM »
I am sceptical too. There doesn't seem to be any funding for a lander.
...
That's why the "the second stage IS the transfer module IS the lander IS the return module" of ITS is the only thing that makes sense.
You will never get a half dozen elements funded "the NASA way". Or if it is funded it will take eternity plus 30 years.
There are other mission architectures, but propellant transfer and aerobraking for Mars insertion are both ridiculously important. There's really no way to pull it off without using those two things.

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