Author Topic: Zubrin's Falcon Heavy Mars Mission  (Read 201794 times)

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Zubrin's Falcon Heavy Mars Mission
« Reply #80 on: 05/16/2011 12:01 am »
There is an outward journey, stay on Mars and a return journey.  Is there any sort of habitat for the return journey?

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Zubrin's Falcon Heavy Mars Mission
« Reply #81 on: 05/16/2011 12:30 am »
Hey Bob, great to hear from you again.

So it seems the flight surgeons are starting to come to a consensus that Mars gravity will be no better than zero-g for bone/muscle loss.  I think they are premature (they have about one data point) but they're begging for some artificial gravity experiments now, be they with rats or humans.

Would you support a capsule-tether-counterweight test program with the goal of evaluating the gravity prescription?
« Last Edit: 05/16/2011 02:15 am by QuantumG »
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline scienceguy

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Re: Zubrin's Falcon Heavy Mars Mission
« Reply #82 on: 05/16/2011 01:53 am »
Hi Robert Zubrin,

I just wanted to say that I'm a big fan. Your book "The Case for Mars" really inspired me. I have also read "Mars on Earth".

I work in an academic library so I have access to all kinds of scientific monographs and journals. I have been researching aspects of space travel in hopes that I may one day be able to help out somehow.
e^(pi*i) = -1

Offline Comga

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Re: Zubrin's Falcon Heavy Mars Mission
« Reply #83 on: 05/16/2011 03:33 am »
... After Trans Mars injection, the Dragon would pull away from the cargo section and turn around, then return to mate its docking hatch with one in the inflatable. It would then pull the inflatable out of the cargo hold, much as the Apollo command module pulled out the LEM. ...

An issue with that method is that the cargo section would need an independent ACS, like the third stage of the Saturn V, so that both are controlled for docking.  An alternative has been proposed by the Japanese, where the two remain attached.  Their scheme has two arms from the Service/ Propulsion Module behind the Descent Module capsule to the Orbital Module.  The arms lengthen, swing around to put the OM in front of the DM, and then contract and berth them, which is much simpler than docking.  The arms provide no support during launch, and so do not need substantial strength.  They could be light and simple.

It is discussed and illustrated here.
« Last Edit: 05/16/2011 03:34 am by Comga »
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: Zubrin's Falcon Heavy Mars Mission
« Reply #84 on: 05/16/2011 07:08 am »
Friends;
Here are further answers relating to concerns that have been advanced.

1. Habitable volume.
As noted, if the Dragon capsule alone is used, this provides 5 m3 living volume per crew member, which compares to 2 m3 per crew on an Apollo capsule, 9 m3 per crew member on the Space Shuttle, or 8 m3 per crew member on a German U-Boat (Type VII, the fleet workhorse) during WWII. This would be uncomfortable, but ultimately, workable by a truly dedicated crew. However these limits can be transcended. The Dragon has a 14m3 cargo area hold below the aeroshield. Into this we could pack an inflatable hab module, in deflated form, but which if inflated, could be as much as 8 m in diameter and perhaps 10 m long, thereby providing 3 decks, with added volume of 502 m3 and a total floor space equal to 1.5 times as much as that in the Mars Society's MDRS or FMARS stations, which have proved adequate in size for crews of 6. After Trans Mars injection, the Dragon would pull away from the cargo section and turn around, then return to mate its docking hatch with one in the inflatable. It would then pull the inflatable out of the cargo hold, much as the Apollo command module pulled out the LEM. The inflatable could then be inflated. The other end of the inflatable would be attached to the tether, which is connected to the TMI stage, for use in creating artificial gravity.
Upon reaching Mars the inflatable could either be expended, along with the tether system and TMI stage, prior to aerocapture. Alternatively, and optimally, the tether and TMI stage alone would be expended, but the inflatable deflated and retained for redeployment as a ground hab after landing.

2. EDL
Using just its aeroshield for deceleration, the Dragon would have a terminal velocity of around 340 m/s on Mars at low altitude (air density 16 gm/m3). So we could either give it a rocket delta-V capability of 600 m/s (a 20% mass hit assuming storable or RP/O2 propulsion, Isp~330 s) to land all propulsive, or we could use a drogue to slow it down (a 20 m diameter chute would slow it to ~70 m/s) and then employ a much smaller rocket delta-V for landing.

Robert

Hello Dr Zubrin! Thanks for slaying some of the 'Dragons of doubt', er so to speak.

As I mentioned in an early post in this thread - we seem to be in agreement about the Dragon doing a 'Transposition & Docking' manuever to join with the Trans-Mars Habitation module. Although I first touted an Aluminium/Lithium or composite structure for the Trans-Hab, I concede that an inflatable Kevlar module would certainly be superior, mass-wise. Line it with lots of polyethylene - good enough for nuclear subs - and then radiation be damned!! I still think a minimum crew of 3 or 4 would be more suitable for an actual landing mission and 2x crew for a Demos/Phobos survey. However, it seems that for the Descent and Ascent vehicles and Earth re-entry, the size of the Dragon for a crew of 2,3 or 4 is quite adequate for these tasks. So let's not worry about their size for most tasks from now on, I say.

Devil being in the details: Hypergolics for the final, propulsive descent after aero-heatshield and parachute? I'd like folk's thoughts on that: because the Descent vehicle would be in space for quite awhile and Hypergolics have proven long-term storage abilities. Of course, the Dragon-based Ascent vehicle's propulsion should be LOX/CH4. I've always thought that Martian ISRU is the 'magic bullet' that will make this darn thing work: not to mention for fueling the Pressurized Rover. And a derivative of the Trans-Hab inflatable for the surface living quarters -- inflate with pure O2 at 5 psi for a long term stay? Or carry some nitrogen all the way to Mars and do a 5psi, 60% nitrogen, 40% O2 combination?

And finally -- just harking back to a 2x man mission for a moment: what are people's thoughts about doing a short-stay 14-to-20 day 'sprint' for the initial 'test' mission? Enough of a big workload for a mere 2 Astronauts to accomplish? Apollo 11 stayed on the Moon for 21 hours compared to Apollo 17's 75 hour stay. And 15,16 & 17's lunar Rovers made the longer stay very much worth it.

I know it would be partly a symbolic mission compared to a full, 18 month stay. But a mass of scientific data would still be collected and a daring, complex mission architecture would be demonstrated at a risk/duration perceived to be, if not actually much less than an 18-month stay.

'Baby steps' to be followed by larger crews with longer stays later? And even if each launch window to Mars needed 5 or 6 Falcon Heavy launchers to get each mission underway, this would still be much cheaper than a 6x Ares V 'Battlestar Galactica' 6x person Mars mission.

Yes, I feel Dr Zubrin is essentially on the right path. Though if he is graciously open to (sensible) suggestions, I wonder if some of us can help him 'tweak' this thing into existence. I'd love virtually more than anything else the chance to see this mission happen at a pragmatic, non-lunatic price tag in 10-to-12 years that can be paid for with a careful alliance of Private Space Investors, Entrepreneurs, Altruists and maybe a dash of dear old NASA money as well.

"The future doesn't belong to the faint-hearted; it belongs to the brave."  Ronald Reagan.

Guys; we need some of that! :)
« Last Edit: 05/16/2011 10:46 am by MATTBLAK »
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Offline Michael Bloxham

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Re: Zubrin's Falcon Heavy Mars Mission
« Reply #85 on: 05/16/2011 09:54 am »
Interesting plan, albeit pretty limited capability-wise.

IMO adding a few more Falcon launches to add further redundancy/capability (for example by pre-positioning assets in Mars orbit and on the surface) or the addition of a high-energy upper stage to the Falcon Heavy to increase its trans-Mars throw mass will probably be necessary to make the plan "fly" politically (reducing risk), or if you want more than just a flags/footprints mission with two astronauts and a Dragon on Mars.

You could also send two of these minimalistic missions together - side-by-side.

If precision-landed, this could allow for a full crew of four on the surface per mission, and also provide dual-redundancy (two of everything in case one fails).

If the Dragon descent capsule is replace by a more conventional dedicated Mars lander capable of delivering a small mobile habitat (perhaps in the same manner as MSL), then precision landing is not needed - and a great deal more exploration and science can be achieved.

Over at MarsDrive, we spent a few years exploring just such a concept. See http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=17360.msg676398#msg676398 and http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=17360.msg685877#msg685877 and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/marsdrivemission/attachments/folder/0/list

The 53-tonne to LEO capability of the Falcon Heavy didn't exist then, so we went with an arbitrary 60-tonne launcher. So if you shrink everything down just a bit, you could probably squeeze this architecture onto 6 launches of the Falcon Heavy.

- Mike

Edit: Of course, this is just a concept. Critical discussion is welcome - but is probably best directed to its dedicated thread - so as to not derail this one.
« Last Edit: 05/16/2011 10:33 am by Michael Bloxham »

Offline Michael Bloxham

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Re: Zubrin's Falcon Heavy Mars Mission
« Reply #86 on: 05/16/2011 11:45 am »
2. EDL
Using just its aeroshield for deceleration, the Dragon would have a terminal velocity of around 340 m/s on Mars at low altitude (air density 16 gm/m3). So we could either give it a rocket delta-V capability of 600 m/s (a 20% mass hit assuming storable or RP/O2 propulsion, Isp~330 s) to land all propulsive, or we could use a drogue to slow it down (a 20 m diameter chute would slow it to ~70 m/s) and then employ a much smaller rocket delta-V for landing.

Robert

Hi Robert. Good to see you on the forums!

I have a question and a suggestion.

While I am sure that using a Dragon capsule as a Mars lander is possible, I wonder whether the development expenditure required - for the mechanical aids such a feat would require (retro-propulsive stage, aerodynamic decelerators, etc.) and re-engineering and qualification effort - would better be spent on the development of a more logical evolution of heritage Viking/MER/MSL EDL technologies to achieve the same performance?

I imagine it would not be too difficult to scale up MSL-derived EDL tech to the point where its useable surface payload capacity is much better than that of a modified Dragon spacecraft such as the type that you propose?

Such a purpose-built Mars lander might also serve the future needs of an initial Mars base much better and more cheaply than Dragon.

- Mike
« Last Edit: 05/16/2011 12:37 pm by Michael Bloxham »

Offline Ralph Buttigieg

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Re: Zubrin's Falcon Heavy Mars Mission
« Reply #87 on: 05/16/2011 01:28 pm »


I think the private exploration element needs more discussion. What would the cost of a Amundsen/Scott type of exploration program to Mars. Is our technology baseline high enough to make the risk comparable to those Antarctic missions from the last century? Are there similar explorers today to risk life and fortune to expand the human frontier. NASA will likely require another 40 years to get to Mars with their collective risk aversion (Congressional and media oversight, changing priorities, changing presidents...). This could change if China challenges us and we choose to respond, but based on our current funding and support culture at NASA, it is difficult to see a human mission before the 2030's at best.
The only way for us to get to Mars in my lifetime is for a President to commit to it, and be willing to spend about 10 times the real mission cost, or private exploration. Would Paul Allen or someone be willing to spend $500 million to sponsor a mission? Branson has his money tied up in Virgin Space, or he would be a logical rich guy willing to risk his life guy. Could it be done for less than a billion? I see a lot of engineering math, but less financial math, and the more difficult to quantify math about personal risk. I know Musk wants to do this, but can he afford this without some big third party funding?
How little could a private mission be done with? Keep in mind, once an initial private mission is completed, more missions will follow and risks once defined empirically, can be better understood by politicians and our larger society.
[/quote]

Dave, the only serious project for an actual beyond low Earth orbit human mission today is from the private sector. Space Adventures moonshot. They already have one person signed up and hope for the second soon.

But lets look at polar exploration. Explorers like Amundsen would borrow money and pay off their debts by giving lectures, writing books etc.  If fact Amundsen had to go to the South Pole because he was beaten to the North by Peary and Amundsen had to pay off his creditors. In todays world we would act things like TV rights, internet subscriptions etc.

I would think the cash flow from the first Mars expedition would be substantial.

Offline majormajor42

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Re: Zubrin's Falcon Heavy Mars Mission
« Reply #88 on: 05/16/2011 02:21 pm »
"Zubrin's" Falcon Heavy Mars Mission  ???

Musk risks his personal fortune and millions of NASA/taxpayer $$$
We triumphantly land on Mars.
Zubrin: "You're welcome"

In comparison to the 11.1 Billion we wasted on Constellation or the 10 billion more we waste on the Senate Launch System, we are getting new capability and it is an acceptable risk.  Even if Musk was 10 years late it would still be better than the poppycock we are getting from NASA and congress.

VR
TPIS
RE327

my point is what is Zubrin adding to the FH Mars concept that wasn't already discussed in other threads or (more than likely) Musk and team have already run some numbers on and might be perusing.

The title of this thread should be "Zubrin endorses Musk/SpaceX Falcon Heavy Mars Mission/Ambitions"

In the end, to steal a line from Social Network, if Zubrin built a Mars rocket, he would have built a Mars rocket.



btw, I bought A Case for Mars hardcover way back when.  Great ideas. Read First Landing, very inspirational.  And had a ball reading Holy Land too.
...water is life and it is out there, where we intend to go. I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man or machine on a body such as the Moon and harvest a cup of water for a human to drink or process into fuel for their craft.

Offline MikeAtkinson

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Re: Zubrin's Falcon Heavy Mars Mission
« Reply #89 on: 05/16/2011 03:37 pm »

2. EDL
Using just its aeroshield for deceleration, the Dragon would have a terminal velocity of around 340 m/s on Mars at low altitude (air density 16 gm/m3). So we could either give it a rocket delta-V capability of 600 m/s (a 20% mass hit assuming storable or RP/O2 propulsion, Isp~330 s) to land all propulsive, or we could use a drogue to slow it down (a 20 m diameter chute would slow it to ~70 m/s) and then employ a much smaller rocket delta-V for landing.

Robert

My understanding of Mars EDL is limited, but from what I've read Dragon would not reach terminal velocity before hitting the ground. It would seem to require 500-1000 m/s of rocket delta-V.

Offline mrmandias

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Re: Zubrin's Falcon Heavy Mars Mission
« Reply #90 on: 05/16/2011 09:07 pm »
my point is what is Zubrin adding to the FH Mars concept that wasn't already discussed in other threads or (more than likely) Musk and team have already run some numbers on and might be perusing.


Zubrin/Mars Society and "Musk and team" aren't as unrelated entities as you might think.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Zubrin's Falcon Heavy Mars Mission
« Reply #91 on: 05/16/2011 10:09 pm »

2. EDL
Using just its aeroshield for deceleration, the Dragon would have a terminal velocity of around 340 m/s on Mars at low altitude (air density 16 gm/m3). So we could either give it a rocket delta-V capability of 600 m/s (a 20% mass hit assuming storable or RP/O2 propulsion, Isp~330 s) to land all propulsive, or we could use a drogue to slow it down (a 20 m diameter chute would slow it to ~70 m/s) and then employ a much smaller rocket delta-V for landing.

Robert

My understanding of Mars EDL is limited, but from what I've read Dragon would not reach terminal velocity before hitting the ground. It would seem to require 500-1000 m/s of rocket delta-V.
Has anyone ever actually simulated that? (I actually probably could, but it'd take a lot of time...) I've just heard speculation to that effect.

Also, EDL performance depend pretty strongly on where you plan on landing. Try to land on Mount Olympus (~21km above "sea level", standard topographic datum), and you may well just be adding another crater. But landing at Hellas Basin (7km below "sea level" and with almost twice the air pressure as "sea level" on Mars) is may be quite a different story.

Also, it depends strongly on the incoming velocity and how much lift can be produced. And ~500m/s isn't necessarily out of the question for Dragon.
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Offline sanman

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Re: Zubrin's Falcon Heavy Mars Mission
« Reply #92 on: 05/16/2011 11:55 pm »
I'd like to ask Dr Zubrin why such a Mars mission would need to be done in such a minimalist fashion at such an absolutely shoestring cost? Isn't there such a thing as going too cheap?

Given the momentous importance of a manned Mars mission, why wouldn't it be worth it to spend a few more billion$ to increase the safety margins, the redundancies, and to improve the knowledge returned from the mission?

Or, alternatively, if the F9H business model is sustainable, why not let it succeed and evolve into even better cost/lb to allow even more mission for the buck? What timeclock are we racing against, that a mission has to be done within this decade? How about 2025?


Offline QuantumG

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Re: Zubrin's Falcon Heavy Mars Mission
« Reply #93 on: 05/17/2011 12:05 am »
What timeclock are we racing against, that a mission has to be done within this decade? How about 2025?

The existential question being asked every year...
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline Jim

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Re: Zubrin's Falcon Heavy Mars Mission
« Reply #94 on: 05/17/2011 12:58 am »
my point is what is Zubrin adding to the FH Mars concept that wasn't already discussed in other threads or (more than likely) Musk and team have already run some numbers on and might be perusing.


Zubrin/Mars Society and "Musk and team" aren't as unrelated entities as you might think.

Huh?  Yes they are

Offline sanman

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Re: Zubrin's Falcon Heavy Mars Mission
« Reply #95 on: 05/17/2011 02:09 am »
The existential question being asked every year...

Well, why can't Musk send Man back to the Moon first, during this decade? Then we can do Mars the next decade.

The Moon is a lot closer, and can be a nice dry run for all the man-rated life-support stuff. Do a bunch of manned missions there first, during this decade. Improve the return vehicles, improve the spacesuits, improve the nuclear reactors, improve the solar arrays, improve the dune buggies, improve the portable gardens, make the lavatory systems more reliable, etc.

If F9H is as cheap as Musk says it's going to be, then going back to the Moon first won't really sap away funds from a Mars mission. If anything, it would revitalize the public interest and enthusiasm so that more funding would be unleashed for the Mars mission.

Musk has moved pretty rapidly to F9H, and if he moves at a similar pace towards a F-XX/superheavy, then what better use for such a rocket than Mars?

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Zubrin's Falcon Heavy Mars Mission
« Reply #96 on: 05/17/2011 02:21 am »
Well, why can't Musk send Man back to the Moon first, during this decade? Then we can do Mars the next decade.

Musk has no intention of sending people to Mars or the Moon.. and he won't until someone who wants to pay for it says they do.  I really wish people would listen to what Elon says rather than what they want him to say. 

Quote
If F9H is as cheap as Musk says it's going to be, then going back to the Moon first won't really sap away funds from a Mars mission. If anything, it would revitalize the public interest and enthusiasm so that more funding would be unleashed for the Mars mission.

It's Falcon Heavy now, they dropped the 9.. I'll tolerate it from Zubrin but not you :)   If you want to go to the Moon, convince someone to pay for a Moon mission.  If that's NASA they'll want to do it with their own rockets because it supports what they care about.  If you want to do it privately, go raise the money.  You can't pin all your hopes and dreams to Elon Musk.. the guy has already done miracles  (as has Mr Bigelow), it's time for someone else to step up.

Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline Sen

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Re: Zubrin's Falcon Heavy Mars Mission
« Reply #97 on: 05/17/2011 03:17 am »
I'd like to ask Dr Zubrin why such a Mars mission would need to be done in such a minimalist fashion at such an absolutely shoestring cost? Isn't there such a thing as going too cheap?

Given the momentous importance of a manned Mars mission, why wouldn't it be worth it to spend a few more billion$ to increase the safety margins, the redundancies, and to improve the knowledge returned from the mission?

Or, alternatively, if the F9H business model is sustainable, why not let it succeed and evolve into even better cost/lb to allow even more mission for the buck? What timeclock are we racing against, that a mission has to be done within this decade? How about 2025?



It needs to be as bare bones as possible IF the goal is to take said plan not to the government, but insted the private sector/patrons for funding. That can then snowball with sponsors, etc to evolve the program into something thats more then a one off event. Something REALLY bare bones, less then a billion like this plan (that assumes dev work by spacex and others as a part of the program.) Id rather start farther up the food chain with a larger mission, but getting a 20 billion dollar pledge is harder then getting a one billion dollar one.
« Last Edit: 05/17/2011 03:20 am by Sen »

Offline DaveH62

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Re: Zubrin's Falcon Heavy Mars Mission
« Reply #98 on: 05/17/2011 03:18 am »
Well, why can't Musk send Man back to the Moon first, during this decade? Then we can do Mars the next decade.

Musk has no intention of sending people to Mars or the Moon.. and he won't until someone who wants to pay for it says they do.  I really wish people would listen to what Elon says rather than what they want him to say. 

Quote
If F9H is as cheap as Musk says it's going to be, then going back to the Moon first won't really sap away funds from a Mars mission. If anything, it would revitalize the public interest and enthusiasm so that more funding would be unleashed for the Mars mission.

It's Falcon Heavy now, they dropped the 9.. I'll tolerate it from Zubrin but not you :)   If you want to go to the Moon, convince someone to pay for a Moon mission.  If that's NASA they'll want to do it with their own rockets because it supports what they care about.  If you want to do it privately, go raise the money.  You can't pin all your hopes and dreams to Elon Musk.. the guy has already done miracles  (as has Mr Bigelow), it's time for someone else to step up.



So to run with the slightly (way) off topic trip to the moon first and who's to pay. Could a James Cameron type of person fund or lead a moon mission and pay for it as an HBO series? If he can make 2 billion on Avatar, could he recoup $250 million for a moon mission? Could a single Falcon Heavy deliver a full exploration payload. A Dragon capsule, a small Bigelow habitation container, a vehicle and a satellite with a 3d camera and maybe some small video probes to drop in interesting craters or lava tubes. To do a proper video shoot, I would guess you would need at least 5 people. To capture enough video to create an HBO series, the team would need to stay at least 6 weeks. With naming rights and other marketing options, you should be able to raise at least $100 million prelaunch, another $100 million from HBO or another network/cable sponsor and then your iMax and other add-ons should get at least a break even commercial opportunity.
This might detract from some cool mythological naming options, to the Lunar Dew, the Oreo lander, or the Bigelow Mac, but it could provide a sustainable private path to exploration while longer term mining and science issues get worked out.
Apologies if I've jumped from propeller head to tin foil hat, but I think the only near term way to speed things up is for non government operations. Grid lock seems too great to compromise even with some of the great options we have right now.

Offline go4mars

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Re: Zubrin's Falcon Heavy Mars Mission
« Reply #99 on: 05/17/2011 03:23 am »
Robert,
You turned me into a space nerd.  Thankyou!  I was on a road trip from Calgary, and found myself in the KSC gift-shop book section, wondering when and how NASA was going to Mars.  I found "The Case for Mars", and hundreds of other space books and articles since.  This might not be the right place, but I have 2 questions:   Where did the Mars Society forum go?  There was tons of great stuff in there, but the link seems to have disappeared when the website went from black to white.  Also, what happened with Tom Hill's tether demonstrator TEMPO-3?  I couldn't find anything on the new website related to that either. 

Cheers.  MARS OR BUST!   ON TO MARS!!    ET CETERA!!!

Elasmotherium; hurlyburly Doggerlandic Jentilak steeds insouciantly gallop in viridescent taiga, eluding deluginal Burckle's abyssal excavation.

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