Author Topic: Some ideas on mars mission and possible route for interplanetary travels #v.long  (Read 967 times)

Offline mlmwowd

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Hello NASA,

Here are some ideas about going to Mars other than just send 100,000 rockets. I think there are better ways to travel to Mars and other future planets. This article includes some seeming impossible technology such as the space elevator. It's really long and I hope you guys can enjoy a different perspective. Please feel free to discuss and comment.

Mission to Mars is hard and expensive. While there are many plans to get us out there, the outcomes of these plans seemed minimal. It is likely that those Mars mission will not bring many benefits and the costs are extremely high. Ultimately, Mars Mission may end up like Apollo Missionís where weíll never go back there due to the cost involved.

Elon Musk proposed a plan which could bring down the cost of a trip to Mars to half million per person. It will be an incredible feat to bring the cost of interplanetary travel to only half million dollars, but there isnít much detail on how exactly we can start a colony there. I doubt that thereís going to be a million people to spend half a million to sign up for, pretty much death as far as we know. Let alone the cost of making 100,000 ships to carry those passengers.

Technically, this can be achieved, but the cost is very high and with little incentives. We still have no idea how to establish a self-sustaining system in our orbit let alone on Mars. What if there is an another way, that not only open the doors of Mars but potentially all the planets in the Solar System and perhaps, be on our paths to a Type II civilization.

Many of us are familiar with the types of civilization based on advancement in their technology. Basically, Type I civilization is able to harness the power of their entire planet, Type II can harness the power of their sun and Type III is able to do that with an entire galaxy. Humans, weíre not even on that chart. We are type 0 monkeys pretty much, but we are getting close to Type I.

Once we reach Type I, we would be using 100 percent of Earthís energy, right now we are at about 78%. The energy here on earth will no longer be enough for us and we have to look for harnessing energies from other planets, that makes interplanetary travel a crucial factor in evolving our civilization. So how can we get to Mars while setting ourselves up for a path to Type II civilization.

Iíll admit, there are technologies here that currently, we are not capable of making, but with enough funding, it is not impossible to achieve. Technologies such as a space elevator, interplanetary travel hub will be key players in outer space travel.

As of right now, the only manned spacecraft we have is the International Space Station and it was set to retire by 2020 but a 4-year extension was made. NASA donít have any solid plans for after the ISS, so by 2024, weíll have almost nothing in space. However, a private company Bigelow is planning to launch itís own commercial space station after and that will be a key in uniting the globe for space exploration. Space exploration does not spark as much influence anymore and NASAís budget is shrinking by the year, commercializing space may be the way to go.

Before we begin, I want you to know that collaboration and partnering with others are the most important factors here.

First steps,
Bigelow is sending their BEAMS (extended module for space) into orbit one by one,  we can facilitate this process with co-ownership funding. Instead of renting the BEAMS, Bigelow will have to share it with other countries who are interested in zero-g science. There will be a lot more funding to speed up this process of a new space station.

Bigelow station can be resupplied by SpaceX Falcon Heavy rockets.

Bigelow can expand its commercial purposes of adding more expansions and allowing smaller countries and companies interested in space research.

Bigelow can further expand itself by start operating space hotels and resort
(Itís possible, not the average person, though) Guests will be transferred by SpaceX Falcon 9 Heavy rocket

All of Bigelowís resupply missions are still ran by SpaceX.

So far, we have achieved in making another space station and somewhat commercialized our lower orbit. Can be easily achieved using our current technology.

Next, weíre headed for the moon.

The moon is an important factor here not only it contain some precious H3 materials but also can serve as an experimental colony for future Mars mission.

H3 is an important part of nuclear fusion technology that could achieve 0 radiation and no nuclear waste. Obtaining H3 is very important due to the importance of nuclear fusion. There are also some other elements on the moon that are also very valuable to mine.

Hereís the tricky part,
our propulsion technology is lagging so behind and we use an almost primitive way to get us into orbit. The cost is extremely high and obviously, we need a better and cheaper way. The best solution, a space elevator.

A space elevator sounds like itís out of science fiction, but itís achievable. Government agencies like NASA and companies like Google X both expressed there genuine interest in a space elevator. A space elevator is crucial for expanding the human horizon in space. We can send and receive large quantities of supplies through the space elevator. With large countries like China and India both expressing their intent to mine on the moon, funding for a co-owned space elevator is possible.

Space Elevator likely made of carbon nanotube line drifted down from a satellite with a rear counter mass to hold it in place.

Research immediately begins with how to lower the cost of carbon nanotubes, due to some recent breakthroughs, right now itís about $25 a gram.

Research also begins for initial blueprints of space elevator

Build the elevator

Once we have the elevator, we have finally made our first leap at space travel.
The elevator can be to build an Elysium like city, mainly for research purposes.
We would also begin making our first space hub for the moon.

Space X can develop a hub to moon rocket which takes off from the hub and land on the moon then return to the hub. Traveling to the moon will be much cheaper without the need to take off and land on earth.

The best way to travel in space is when you donít have to land, ever.

Projects for cities like Elysium

We can further our knowledge of space and attempt to build an ecosystem in orbit.
The knowledge about space we can gain from a place like this is enormous. We can experiment with how to achieve interplanetary travel here, journeyís that will take months or even years in space.


Colonizing the moon
 
We can establish a colony on the moon with the miners along with researchers.
Perfect place to experiment on how to properly establish a colony in outer space.

We can further commercialize the moon of its other rich mineral deposits. Colony can be powered by solar energy

Obtaining H-3 can be a breakthrough for our technology with nuclear fusion and effectively reduce the cost of energy around the globe.

Attempt to make a self-sustaining system on the moon. We can also open the colony up for residents to live there and work there and create a community on the colonized moon.
   
Establishing a self-sustaining system is important for the Mars mission because colonizing Mars will also likely to need a modified self-sustaining system on Mars. Carefully observe the colony grow so we can get an idea of what Mars Colony will be like.

So far we have created,
a research city in lower orbit to observe any effect we may have on space travel,
a space elevator capable of transferring highly valuable material at a low cost,
nuclear fusion technology achieved through mining of h-3
a moon colony

Next step,
Build a space hub for Mars missions

we can try to develop and launch a nuclear fusion powered rocket to Mars, though conventional engines may work in short-term space travel, but ultimately we will have to use nuclear fusion for longer distance space travels.

With the results from the observatory city and the colony, carefully prepare a plan for Mars.

In order to colonize Mars for good, we need to improve our travel system.

We can begin by sending a smaller team and rocket there to construct a space elevator and an orbital hub on Mars, therefore enabling us to use the hub to hub interplanetary travel. We can build a huge spaceship with the space elevator on the Earth hub. Spaces can be fully optimized since the ship will not touch the ground on Mars and can travel between hubs of the planet.

Really, the only best way to travel in space is when you donít have to ever land.

With an enormous ship, we can quickly begin colonizing the planet and start the terraforming process. While doing so, we can begin the similar process to harness energy and materials from other planets using our combination of elevator+hub technology.

Lastly,
With the exploration of space, a new era of scientific and technological development will come. New knowledge, new materials, new ideas will spark everywhere. With that in mind, we can begin to solve more problems in our journey to conquer the Solar System and path to a Type II civilization. Interplanetary travel the most important factor in getting humans and our technologies around in the Solar System.

To conclude,
As we set foot on more planets, our knowledge will grow so does our sciences and resources. Earth will no longer be our only option but still our home. With an abundance of energy and technological improvements, we can make robots that replace the workers, ultimately freeing humans from work. We can enjoy our leisure and free times and only do what we want to do. We can further use our combination to set up bases on Mercury and build a ďnot so long ago just a dreamĒ Dyson Sphere on the Sun. A true Utopia.

Ultimately, I feel that our purpose as human beings is to explore the vast space. We used to thought that Earth was the entire world, now we know that Earth is nothing but a tiny piece of sand in the vast ocean of the universe. It is destined for us to explore the ocean of the universe. There are many factors that are not considered in this plan, such as politics, solar radiation, space radiation etc. There are far greater challenges ahead of us, I hope we wonít concede to the challenges stopping us from exploring the space.

Offline Rei

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Hi mlmwowd - welcome to the forum.

Hello NASA

You should be aware that this forum is not "NASA", although you will find a lot of knowledgeable people, including some people who have worked/do work for NASA/its contractors/other space-related jobs.

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Elon Musk proposed a plan which could bring down the cost of a trip to Mars to half million per person.

$140k - cheaper than a typical house (aka, people could sell their house and move to Mars). But at this point that's pretty speculative.

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but there isnít much detail on how exactly we can start a colony there.

There are huge numbers of papers about the colonization of Mars.  I recommend going to scholar.google.com and typing in some random Mars-related keywords and looking at what's actually been studied.

You are however right that the problem is always money.  Allocate 1% of the US federal budget to NASA and the beginnings of a colony will happen in a decade or so.  More money = sooner and in a more sustainable fashion.

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I doubt that thereís going to be a million people to spend half a million to sign up for

What do you need a million people for?  Humans reproduce.  It's all about ISRU (In-Situ Resource Utilization).  So long as locals can build more with minimal (and decreasing) reliance on imports from Earth, they can continue to expand.

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Let alone the cost of making 100,000 ships to carry those passengers.

I don't think you've actually read very much about what SpaceX is proposing with the ITS, so I recommend doing so:

http://www.spacex.com/sites/spacex/files/mars_presentation.pdf

ITS is not disposable.  The boosters in particular are designed to be highly reusable, with a lifespan of ~1000 launches.  Also, it would take nothing like 100,000 ships to carry a million people. Just ignoring that they're reusable, each can carry several hundred people and cargo.  On each leg of the trip.  Think jet liner.

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Once we reach Type I, we would be using 100 percent of Earthís energy, right now we are at about 78%.

We're nowhere even close to 78% of what constantly arrives at Earth. And it's a misleading metric because "what arrives" isn't proportional to what can be created with "stored" energy sources (particularly fusion).

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However, a private company Bigelow is planning to launch itís own commercial space station after and that will be a key in uniting the globe for space exploration.

Bigelow is one of a large and ever-growing number of players involved in space, but yes, they exist.  If you're interested in upcoming space stations:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_large_modular_space_station
http://www.planetary.org/blogs/guest-blogs/2017/20170309-nasa-iss-partners-cislunar-station.html

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Space exploration does not spark as much influence anymore and NASAís budget is shrinking by the year, commercializing space may be the way to go.

The space industry has long been migrating in that direction already. And the COTS program payed big dividends in this regard.

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Instead of renting the BEAMS, Bigelow will have to share it with other countries who are interested in zero-g science. There will be a lot more funding to speed up this process of a new space station.

Bigelow doesn't "have to do" anything. And other countries have their own projects of interest, they're not subservient to taking part in whatever some random private entity wants to do. NASA has been targeting Mars. Russia the moon (although they're even more budget-deprived than NASA). China has a lot of plans (including a space station and moon mission) but is usually cagey about the exact details until shortly before they launch things.

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The moon is an important factor here not only it contain some precious H3 materials

One, I think you mean He3.
Two, it's not actually common on the moon.
Three, there's not actually a serious market for it on Earth. It's only needed in tiny lab quantities.
Four, we can make it on Earth.

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H3 is an important part of nuclear fusion technology that could achieve 0 radiation and no nuclear waste.

He3 is vastly harder to fuse than D-T, and we still suck at D-T fusion; the aneutronicity is also of questionable benefit (you can ensure that fusion waste is only short lived by proper material selection - plus, we need neutron sources for many important applications). And if you're going to go all the way to He3 fusion for aneutronicity, you might as well go all the way to p-B fusion and skip right over it.

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There are also some other elements on the moon that are also very valuable to mine.

Not really. I mean, anorthosite is pretty, so might be able to serve the decorative stone market, but you can get that almost anywhere in the solar system. Water ice is probably available in polar craters, but again, lots of places have water ice, and not in as deep of a gravity well.  Ilmenite, bauxite, ferrous oxide... all of these sorts of things are bloody everwhere.  What resources exactly are you thinking of?

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The best solution, a space elevator.

A solution that requires unobtanium (1 1/2 orders of magnitude outside of our existing materials technology, and quite possibly material strengths that aren't even possible at bulk scales) and provides terrible energy efficiency and throughput per unit mass, not to mention faces countless serious problems with oscillation, impacts, induced current discharge, atomic oxygen attack, lightning, etc.

It's great in sci-fi, but in the real world it's a nonstarter.

If you like space elevators but want to get closer to real-world tech, look up active-suspended structures like space fountains and launch loops.

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Government agencies like NASA and companies like Google X both expressed there genuine interest in a space elevator.

They run little student competitions and the like which mainly serve as PR exercises. NASA's last tether competition wasn't even paid by them, it was paid by the Spaceward Foundation, "a 501(c)(3) public-funds non-profit organization dedicated to furthering space science and technology in education and in the public mindshare."

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We can send and receive large quantities of supplies through the space elevator.

The reality is that only a few small climbers can exist on a space elevator at a given point in time, each weighing a miniscule fraction of the elevator's mass, and taking long periods of time to traverse it.  Power transmission to and from climbers is also terribly inefficient, because microwaves require huge receiving antennas to get even remotely decent efficiency, lasers and solar panels are inefficient to begin with and beams diverge over those distances, and the cable fundamentally must be far too light to support any sort of power cabling.

By contrast, launch loops move mass incredibly quickly to space with an efficiency of ~50%, reaching any orbit, and using existing modern materials.

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Research immediately begins with how to lower the cost of carbon nanotubes, due to some recent breakthroughs, right now itís about $25 a gram.

It's not about cost, it's about strength. The best nanotube composite fibres are just a few GPa tensile strength; non-nanotube fibres like Zylon (PBO) are much stronger. Even the strongest individual SWNTs usually measure in at around 60 or so GPa (bulk fibres are much weaker than their individual elements). By contrast, the Edwards proposal (which you keep referencing) calls for, if I recall correctly something like 100-120 GPa.

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Traveling to the moon will be much cheaper without the need to take off and land on earth.

Interestingly enough, if you look at SpaceX's ITS budget, the boosters are not the most part of their budgeting; it's the amortized capital costs on the space ship.

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The best way to travel in space is when you donít have to land, ever.

We certainly hope to have the TRL for things like that in the future, but that's not today's TRL. Large rockets need to be refurbished.

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We can further our knowledge of space and attempt to build an ecosystem in orbit.
The knowledge about space we can gain from a place like this is enormous. We can experiment with how to achieve interplanetary travel here, journeyís that will take months or even years in space.

Again I recommend scholar.google.com and searching for what's already being researched. It's a lot more than you seem to realize.

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We can begin by sending a smaller team and rocket there to construct a space elevator and an orbital hub on Mars,

The TRL for even mining water offworld is minimal, and you want to build materials 1 1/2 orders of magnitude stronger than what we can make on Earth, in-situ?  And with what chemical industry?  Earth's industrial base is built upon tens of thousands of industrial processes spawning huge dependency trees from a staggeringly broad range of feedstocks produced all over the planet (some of which don't exist on Mars).

ISRU is a serious and important topic, but you can't just teleport to the endpoint.  It's a step-by-step process.

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and start the terraforming process

A concept which in and of itself is anything but a "you just go there and do it" thing. For example: where is Mars supposed to get its nitrogen?  The vast majority of its nitrogen is lost; check the isotopic ratio, it's been stripped. What's your proposal for importing a planet's worth of nitrogen, one of the most important elements for all life?

Lastly, I'm not sure what the point of your post was. You just cited a bunch of sci-fi tropes and called it a plan.
« Last Edit: 03/25/2017 10:51 AM by Rei »

Offline Rei

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I hope this doesn't come across too harsh, by the way.  I imagine you're young, and you're clearly excited, which is a good thing  :)  But the first step is to start learning.  There's a staggeringly vast amount of research out there, and I strongly encourage you to start reading it, rather than just "pop science reporting".