Author Topic: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip  (Read 38890 times)

Offline sanman

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4332
  • Liked: 647
  • Likes Given: 8
$500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« on: 11/26/2012 01:34 AM »
How serious or legitimate is Elon Musk's quote about charging people $500,000 to get to Mars? It seems that he came up with that price by estimating what people will be willing or able to pay, based on their willingness to sell their home to pay for a ticket.

So in saying that, is he then implying that he will work to get the price of space travel down to that level of affordability?

Right now, what would a ticket on Dragon cost, based on SpaceX's current expenditures? And even if it's apples and oranges, how far away is that from the $500,000 price target for a Mars trip? How much more does Musk have to improve costs in order to get to the $500,000 target, and is this feasible? Would his investors and backers find this idea acceptable?

Offline go4mars

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3747
  • Earth
  • Liked: 147
  • Likes Given: 3073
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #1 on: 11/26/2012 01:54 AM »
It's future stuff that can't compare to current systems.  It depends on very large reusable systems and very high flight rates.  Yes, it is serious.  It's legitimacy is challengeable, as there is no historic precedent for such cheap launches.  I'm a believer in principle.  Might not get exactly that cheap, but even at a million bucks, I think a lot of tickets would sell if Elon builds the needed hardware successfully.
Elasmotherium; hurlyburly Doggerlandic Jentilak steeds insouciantly gallop in viridescent taiga, eluding deluginal Burckle's abyssal excavation.

Offline Hyperion5

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1624
  • Liked: 1193
  • Likes Given: 238
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #2 on: 11/26/2012 04:50 AM »
How serious or legitimate is Elon Musk's quote about charging people $500,000 to get to Mars? It seems that he came up with that price by estimating what people will be willing or able to pay, based on their willingness to sell their home to pay for a ticket.

So in saying that, is he then implying that he will work to get the price of space travel down to that level of affordability?

Right now, what would a ticket on Dragon cost, based on SpaceX's current expenditures? And even if it's apples and oranges, how far away is that from the $500,000 price target for a Mars trip? How much more does Musk have to improve costs in order to get to the $500,000 target, and is this feasible? Would his investors and backers find this idea acceptable?


I think he simply set it as a goal that would see Mars more easily colonized.  It sounds aspirational to me, and at least one NASA astronaut has gotten rather ticked off at Musk talking about this figure or his grand claims about Mars.  The only way a price like that is remotely plausible is if Musk manages to get rocket launch costs down by at least an order of magnitude.  At least with a methane rocket engine he'll at least be able to produce a family of rockets without significant coking issues.  That just leaves the excruciating difficulty of making both stages VTVL and reusable. 


Offline mrmandias

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 507
  • US
  • Liked: 29
  • Likes Given: 34
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #3 on: 11/26/2012 02:42 PM »
Its aspirational, though Musk feels he has a conceptual route to get there if the markets and the technology break right.  But since he hasn't made that conceptual route public, no one can tell you if it even hangs together as a concept, let alone as a potential reality.

Heck, if SpaceX can manage to bring down the price to LEO to $500k per person, that would revolutionize space flight right there.

Something Jon Goff said on his old blog is applicable here.  He said that the Japanese auto industry seized the lead back in the day by setting themselves ridiculous goals that required them to completely rethink the old way of doing things and generate new processes that didn't just lead to incremental improvements in build times, but orders of magnitude improvements.  If I recall, one of his criticisms of SpaceX is that they weren't aiming low enough on launch costs at the time.

Offline go4mars

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3747
  • Earth
  • Liked: 147
  • Likes Given: 3073
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #4 on: 11/26/2012 02:55 PM »
He said that the Japanese auto industry seized the lead back in the day by setting themselves ridiculous goals that required them to completely rethink the old way of doing things and generate new processes that didn't just lead to incremental improvements in build times, but orders of magnitude improvements. 
Like Tesla perhaps.

one of his criticisms of SpaceX is that they weren't aiming low enough on launch costs at the time.
I'd be surprised if that was still a criticism of his.  Elon's talked about how a large methane rocket could be $60 thousand in propellant, add in a bit of overhead, assume 1000 flights, and he's implying amazingly inexpensive price tag.  My suspicion is that if there is no competition at their price point, they would be inclined to keep charging $60 million even with a reusable first stage, and channelling any extra funds into the powered clamshell system (operational improvements), upper stage reuse, next gen rocket, etc.  I'd be surprised to see a big orbital launch for less than $5 million in the next decade.  Steady-state operation (required for really really cheap) will take significant tinkering and improvement to get to.  Except for dramatic technological breakthrough, it can't happen as fast with rockets as it happens with cars.
Elasmotherium; hurlyburly Doggerlandic Jentilak steeds insouciantly gallop in viridescent taiga, eluding deluginal Burckle's abyssal excavation.

Offline aero

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2974
  • 92129
  • Liked: 793
  • Likes Given: 281
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #5 on: 11/26/2012 04:25 PM »
How serious or legitimate is Elon Musk's quote about charging people $500,000 to get to Mars? It seems that he came up with that price by estimating what people will be willing or able to pay, based on their willingness to sell their home to pay for a ticket.

So in saying that, is he then implying that he will work to get the price of space travel down to that level of affordability?

Right now, what would a ticket on Dragon cost, based on SpaceX's current expenditures? And even if it's apples and oranges, how far away is that from the $500,000 price target for a Mars trip? How much more does Musk have to improve costs in order to get to the $500,000 target, and is this feasible? Would his investors and backers find this idea acceptable?


I've asked this question before, but I'll ask again. That is, "How big does this system need to be in order to reach this price point?" That is, at $500,000 per person plus supplies, at what number of passengers does the ticket sales reach transport costs?

If transport costs equal $5 million, then ticket sales equal 10 passengers, but if transport costs equal $50 million, then ticket sales equal 100 passengers and we must start imagining some rather large rockets. Are we speculating about $500k/200kg ($2500/kg) end-to-end transport cost per kg?
Retired, working interesting problems

Offline IRobot

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1280
  • Portugal & Germany
  • Liked: 277
  • Likes Given: 248
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #6 on: 11/26/2012 04:33 PM »
I think the $500.000 price is for an 80.000 people colony. Can't recall where I read that... So definitely not for the first hundreds of customers.

Offline aero

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2974
  • 92129
  • Liked: 793
  • Likes Given: 281
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #7 on: 11/26/2012 05:17 PM »
I think the $500.000 price is for an 80.000 people colony. Can't recall where I read that... So definitely not for the first hundreds of customers.

Ok, so that is $40 B transportation price and 80,000 times X kg/ticket. I can't guess kg/ticket, but 200 kg seems very low because the passengers will need consumables in route. Try 500 kg/ticket, 80,000 tickets times 500 kg/ticket gives 40 Mkg (40 k tonnes) then end to end transport costs are $1000 per kg. This will be spent in 3? parts, ie. LEO, LEO to low Mars Orbit, and EDL. I'm still trying to determine the size of the Earth to LEO rocket, so how much does that cost, and what % goes to the other two phases?
Retired, working interesting problems

Offline mlindner

  • Software Engineer
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2010
  • Space Capitalist
  • Silicon Valley, CA -- previously in Ann Arbor, MI
  • Liked: 649
  • Likes Given: 239
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #8 on: 11/26/2012 06:00 PM »
I think the $500.000 price is for an 80.000 people colony. Can't recall where I read that... So definitely not for the first hundreds of customers.

Ok, so that is $40 B transportation price and 80,000 times X kg/ticket. I can't guess kg/ticket, but 200 kg seems very low because the passengers will need consumables in route. Try 500 kg/ticket, 80,000 tickets times 500 kg/ticket gives 40 Mkg (40 k tonnes) then end to end transport costs are $1000 per kg. This will be spent in 3? parts, ie. LEO, LEO to low Mars Orbit, and EDL. I'm still trying to determine the size of the Earth to LEO rocket, so how much does that cost, and what % goes to the other two phases?

80,000 person colony not 80,000 per rocket trip, thats pure madness. We're not shipping the entire population of Earth to Mars. Think small airliners as max size, with increasing rates of travel driving larger craft as needed.
« Last Edit: 11/26/2012 06:01 PM by mlindner »
Internal combustion engine in space. It's just a Bad Idea.TM - Robotbeat

Offline BobCarver

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 274
  • Liked: 10
  • Likes Given: 12
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #9 on: 11/26/2012 06:44 PM »
I think the $500.000 price is for an 80.000 people colony. Can't recall where I read that... So definitely not for the first hundreds of customers.

Ok, so that is $40 B transportation price and 80,000 times X kg/ticket. I can't guess kg/ticket, but 200 kg seems very low because the passengers will need consumables in route. Try 500 kg/ticket, 80,000 tickets times 500 kg/ticket gives 40 Mkg (40 k tonnes) then end to end transport costs are $1000 per kg. This will be spent in 3? parts, ie. LEO, LEO to low Mars Orbit, and EDL. I'm still trying to determine the size of the Earth to LEO rocket, so how much does that cost, and what % goes to the other two phases?

And, that's just one-way. It's a round-trip ticket price!

Offline Nathan

  • Member
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 701
  • Sydney
  • Liked: 14
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #10 on: 11/26/2012 06:59 PM »
I don't think it includes the price of a home and car on mars! It is likely just the launcher capability and an estimate of the mass needed. Eg: $500 per kilogram and one tonne of person,spacesuit and supplies.
Given finite cash, if we want to go to Mars then we should go to Mars.

Offline BobCarver

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 274
  • Liked: 10
  • Likes Given: 12
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #11 on: 11/26/2012 07:07 PM »
I don't think it includes the price of a home and car on mars! It is likely just the launcher capability and an estimate of the mass needed. Eg: $500 per kilogram and one tonne of person,spacesuit and supplies.


Good point. Elon can sell them a Tesla when they get there. Maybe that's whree the profit comes from.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3458
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1863
  • Likes Given: 223
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #12 on: 11/26/2012 07:26 PM »
I did some estimates and a very courious item poped up. And that was the cost of propelant on orbit. For in-space elements a price for propelant of $10/kg of LH2/LOX enabled getting to a surface to surface price per person of $600,000. All parts were 99% reusable or better. This was using a 150 person Earth surface to LEO system using methane/LOX at propelant cost on Earth of $1/kg. A 150 person LEO to EML2 transport. A 300 person Mars Liner. A 150 person Demos to Phobos transport and a 150 person Phobos to Mars surface lander.

The other curious thing was that if you used a SEP the price of the SEP prop needed to be $50/kg. The only possible source for a gass useable in the quantities needed and with a possibility to get to this price would be LH2. But it would need to be cheaper than what was needed for just a chemical rocket. LH2 part of the $10/kg of the LH2/LOX would be $60/kg.

At $1/kg for the Methane/LOX on Earth and the $10/kg LH2/LOX on orbit the total cost for propelant per person would be $100,000. With all the other costs of crew service personnel, hardware usage charges, supplies etc of less than a total of ~$350,000/person with a final item of profit of $100,000/person (about 20-25%).

Note an increase in on-orbit propelant of just $1/kg results in an increase in propelant costs of $5,000-10,000/person.

Offline aero

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2974
  • 92129
  • Liked: 793
  • Likes Given: 281
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #13 on: 11/26/2012 07:46 PM »
I think the $500.000 price is for an 80.000 people colony. Can't recall where I read that... So definitely not for the first hundreds of customers.

Ok, so that is $40 B transportation price and 80,000 times X kg/ticket. I can't guess kg/ticket, but 200 kg seems very low because the passengers will need consumables in route. Try 500 kg/ticket, 80,000 tickets times 500 kg/ticket gives 40 Mkg (40 k tonnes) then end to end transport costs are $1000 per kg. This will be spent in 3? parts, ie. LEO, LEO to low Mars Orbit, and EDL. I'm still trying to determine the size of the Earth to LEO rocket, so how much does that cost, and what % goes to the other two phases?

80,000 person colony not 80,000 per rocket trip, thats pure madness. We're not shipping the entire population of Earth to Mars. Think small airliners as max size, with increasing rates of travel driving larger craft as needed.

You still don't get it, do you.

Of course it is multiple trips with a reusable transportation system. So you can understand that each trip will transport more than 1 person and less than 80,000 people. If each transit to Mars cost a total of $250 million (Just a number as a talking point) then 160 trips can be paid for. In that case, each trip must transport 500 people. If a trip can be made for only $125 million, then the transportation need accomodate only 250 people. Nathan guesses one tonne per person, so that is 250 tonnes per trip and 320 trips. On the MCT speculation thread, Modemeagle has speculated on launchers above 500 tonnes to LEO, so that part is covered for mass to LEO, I don't know about cost to LEO, though.

Now for the hard part. The Mars transport will provide for 250 people. That is not as many as an ocean liner, but a lot more than a cabin cruiser. How crowded will the mars transport be, so how massive must it be, and how much thrust must the engines provide? Or do you think the trip from LEO to low Mars orbit can be made for less than $125 million? If so, then the transport can be smaller.

But don't forget, that $125M needs to pay for launch to LEO and transport to Mars, as well as EDL on Mars. I suspect that the passenger capacity will need to be larger than 250 people in order to pay for the trip at $500,000 per ticket.

@oldAtlas_Eguy - That is getting to the point. Fuel is the one thing that can not be reusable.
« Last Edit: 11/26/2012 07:49 PM by aero »
Retired, working interesting problems

Offline Nathan

  • Member
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 701
  • Sydney
  • Liked: 14
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #14 on: 11/26/2012 07:47 PM »
The reusable upper stage must be refuel able on orbit then. Perhaps it will even be the lander. Possibly speculation for a different thread.
Given finite cash, if we want to go to Mars then we should go to Mars.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3458
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1863
  • Likes Given: 223
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #15 on: 11/26/2012 08:11 PM »
In my estimate the reusable Earth to LEO one way cargo payload had a price of $100/kg. For payload using a reusable personnel carrier the persons and their bagage of 500kg was at about $500/kg. This is 20 times less than the best possible that a FH will be able to do in the next 3 years. It is possible but will take a couple of decades to get to that price. The price of $230,000/person for this single part shows how much significance just this segment of the trip plays. and this is with a 210mt LV that can put into orbit 150 passengers for a total per flight price of $69M. This includes all costs including amoritized development as well as profit. Meaning being able to launch more than 25x more people for 1/3 the price than what is expected of DragonRider after 2015. A factor of 75-100 price improvement per person over DragonRider.

Edit: Oops wrong number for the Surface to LEO, it should be $164,000/person. The Mars Liner (EML2-Demos) was the $230,000/person. The trip from LEO to EML2 was $100,000/person and once at Mars to get to the surface it was also $100,000/person. 40% of the price is just getting to EML2.
« Last Edit: 11/26/2012 08:33 PM by oldAtlas_Eguy »

Online meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8484
  • N. California
  • Liked: 4682
  • Likes Given: 884
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #16 on: 11/26/2012 08:44 PM »
I really don't like this quote of Elon.

First of all, the only thing that's even remotely possible to estimate is transport cost, not price.  Any large scale movement of people to Mars will happen within a larger context of an economic food chain...

The price of transportation will be intimately tied to everything else that goes with such an endeavor - housing and other infrastructure, working terms, etc.  If you're going for a few years, the cost of sustaining you there might rival the cost of getting you there.

For example, the price might be exactly zero if you only get a one way trip and only get room and board on Mars.  Who knows what kind of structure will grow around such an endeavor.

If we're speaking of cost of transport only, then 500,000 for the ~500 kg that represent you and your immediate "luggage"  is indeed extremely cheap, and not in any way related to the current generation of hardware.
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #17 on: 11/26/2012 08:49 PM »
...

If we're speaking of cost of transport only, then 500,000 for the ~500 kg that represent you and your immediate "luggage"  is indeed extremely cheap, and not in any way related to the current generation of hardware.
No luggage. I'm sure all your consumables would be taken care of by whoever is bringing you. Luggage would be really, really expensive... expect it to be made on site or shipped at great cost.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline GalacticIntruder

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 453
  • PPPPPPP
  • Huntsville, AL
  • Liked: 175
  • Likes Given: 59
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #18 on: 11/26/2012 09:58 PM »
Elon loves 747 comparisons.

If a 2013 Boeing 787-8 is 360 million USD for 300mT capacity, then a 2060 SpaceX MCT is, say 5 billion USDe, for 300mT capacity. If the demand to move large numbers of humans and things is there, then services will be there. The key question is what is the demand for high volume, traffic and goods?

It is an aspiration. It will not happen on the first mission around 2030, but maybe 2060. So whatever 500k USD is in the equivalent buying power of a 2060 future currency is, might work. It has to be reusable. Still, that won't cut it in my opinion for large numbers of settlers. It has to be much cheaper for Mars to become more than just some equivalent of a new Antarctic Research Base.

I do have an a philosophical problem with Elon's rationale. Musk wants people, middle aged, near retirement, to liquidate their Earth stuff and move to Mars, to do what? Just hang out and die, assuming current lifespan is 80. Does Musk think Mars will be an Arizona like golf course retirement community anytime this century?

Humans with money, travel, and tour, and many move to nicer places to retire, the easy living. Mars will not be a cake walk.  Easy living is a long, long, long term Mars goal. Blood, sweat, tears, misery, sacrifice, and death is more likely the first five decades.

Assuming the stereotypical future Earth Apocalypses will not happen, then the only people going to Mars in this century, are explorers, daredevils, scientists, entrepreneurs, ideological Libertarians; and mainly the economically desperate humans, mostly under age 35, whom are  looking for a better life, a new beginning, or the hopes of riches. Casual Mars tourism or Mars retirement will not be possible this century.
Watch out for those pesky corners, they have teeth.

Offline go4mars

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3747
  • Earth
  • Liked: 147
  • Likes Given: 3073
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #19 on: 11/26/2012 10:51 PM »
Casual Mars tourism or Mars retirement will not be possible this century.
88 years is a long time.  The first trans-Atlantic flight was less than 88 years ago.  I suspect some people in the 1920's held similar opinions for the chances of commonplace intercontinental aircraft tourism. 
Elasmotherium; hurlyburly Doggerlandic Jentilak steeds insouciantly gallop in viridescent taiga, eluding deluginal Burckle's abyssal excavation.

Online meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8484
  • N. California
  • Liked: 4682
  • Likes Given: 884
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #20 on: 11/26/2012 11:35 PM »
The physics are different here.  As "friendly" as Mars is, it is still going to be a colony trying to survive against the nature of the planet.

My guess is what they'll need is Martian born working hands.  And they'll get them anyway. Since the goal is to populate Mars (and not de-populate Earth) it's better to ISRU the new folk.  They might take to ISRU so much that there might never be enough resources to bring in significant amounts of people.

But this is such far-fetched talk our ability to guess the future is really limited.

We're probably in "advanced topic" land here.
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #21 on: 11/26/2012 11:36 PM »
Orbital mechanics makes casual Mars tourism essentially impossible without pretty extensive investments in infrastructure. You're committing to months, it isn't casual. To get a round-trip down to a week would take enormous amounts of energy, you don't even want to know.

(Okay, it would mean about 200-500km/s delta-v for each leg of the trip when the Earth and Mars are closest... And then remember that the rocket equation is exponential...)
« Last Edit: 11/26/2012 11:45 PM by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline IRobot

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1280
  • Portugal & Germany
  • Liked: 277
  • Likes Given: 248
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #22 on: 11/26/2012 11:52 PM »
I do have an a philosophical problem with Elon's rationale. Musk wants people, middle aged, near retirement, to liquidate their Earth stuff and move to Mars, to do what? Just hang out and die, assuming current lifespan is 80. Does Musk think Mars will be an Arizona like golf course retirement community anytime this century?

Humans with money, travel, and tour, and many move to nicer places to retire, the easy living. Mars will not be a cake walk.  Easy living is a long, long, long term Mars goal. Blood, sweat, tears, misery, sacrifice, and death is more likely the first five decades.

Assuming the stereotypical future Earth Apocalypses will not happen, then the only people going to Mars in this century, are explorers, daredevils, scientists, entrepreneurs, ideological Libertarians; and mainly the economically desperate humans, mostly under age 35, whom are  looking for a better life, a new beginning, or the hopes of riches. Casual Mars tourism or Mars retirement will not be possible this century.
I know so many wacky people that desire absolute isolation! Also, if it costs $500k, why not pay for a 1 year stay, with visits to Mars moons? People do go to the south pole and stay there for months! If you are having difficulties in finding loonies, don't worry, they're out there!

Offline go4mars

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3747
  • Earth
  • Liked: 147
  • Likes Given: 3073
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #23 on: 11/27/2012 12:58 AM »
Orbital mechanics makes casual Mars tourism essentially impossible without pretty extensive investments in infrastructure. You're committing to months, it isn't casual. To get a round-trip down to a week would take enormous amounts of energy, you don't even want to know.
I'd be very very surprised if Elon has quick jaunts in mind.  Hohmann transfer, with options for return at each opportunity seems more likely to me.  http://clowder.net/hop/railroad/EMa.htm 

I'd expect that a lot of people would opt to return at some point, and a lot would opt to stay on Mars.  The "tourists" would be from a wide cross-section.  I assume they would generally be people who have worked for 15 or 20 years (or more), are done with their relatively lucrative career, and I suspect that at first, most would be empty-nesters.  There would also be the occassional rich kid who's "travelling for a while after high-school" or taking grad studies remotely.  If there's a ritzy med school in Grenada, maybe there will be on Mars too.  A lot of people earn incomes remotely, whether through writing books, computer code, designing things, etc.  Going to space for a few years doesn't necessarily mean ending your earthly career.  I know several people who have spent more than a year back-packing through Europe and/or South America.  Usually they worked while they were doing it.  If a home-line of credit is still easy to get, a lot of working folks might go for it mid-career.  Personally, I would feel uncomfortable bringing my young kids on a risky adventure like that, subjecting them to radiation and hazards unknown.  But it'd probably be safer for them than smoking with them in my car or putting them in hockey and SCUBA lessons.

Anyway, I guess this is all just to say that I think the potential market is highly underestimated by just about everybody.  At a price-point of $500k, there would be a pretty frickin huge waiting list imo.  Even for a lot more $.  If Elon can get a kilotonne-range easy-reuse rocket factory set up, he'll be rollin' trillionaire style a few years later.  He probably needs a decade of these subscale tech demonstrator programs (including near-earth tourism), and a really big cash infusion a few years from now to make it all happen.  Jim and most others may still completely disagree with me, but I think success is plausible, and I am saving for tickets. 

Because I wanna ... go4mars!  Incidentally, I'd probably be one of those people who stays there for at least a decade.  I'm a geologist, and could find lots of interesting things to do (beyond low-gravity sports, gardening, 3D printing, prospecting, solar sintering, etc.).  Mars is a great place for a geologist!  But I'd expect to still be on this forum too for example (yes there would be some time lag and that's okay).  Oh, and if transporting me and my food is only $500k, then I'd pay an extra $10 or $20k to bring along a travel guitar and an electric dirt-bike for field work. 
« Last Edit: 11/27/2012 01:13 AM by go4mars »
Elasmotherium; hurlyburly Doggerlandic Jentilak steeds insouciantly gallop in viridescent taiga, eluding deluginal Burckle's abyssal excavation.

Offline Elmar Moelzer

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3152
  • Liked: 581
  • Likes Given: 839
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #24 on: 11/27/2012 02:32 AM »
Quote
Orbital mechanics makes casual Mars tourism essentially impossible without pretty extensive investments in infrastructure. You're committing to months, it isn't casual. To get a round-trip down to a week would take enormous amounts of energy, you don't even want to know.
John Slough from the university of Washington just got a NIAC phase 2 award for his fusion driven rocket. He claims that it could do mars in 30 days. That would make the trip a lot more doable. Plus the ship would be essentially reusable.
Here is some more info on that:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=30437.0
Hope that is not too off topic...

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8459
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 338
  • Likes Given: 146
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #25 on: 11/27/2012 03:32 AM »
...

If we're speaking of cost of transport only, then 500,000 for the ~500 kg that represent you and your immediate "luggage"  is indeed extremely cheap, and not in any way related to the current generation of hardware.
No luggage. I'm sure all your consumables would be taken care of by whoever is bringing you. Luggage would be really, really expensive... expect it to be made on site or shipped at great cost.

Sailing ships across the Atlantic used to have problems with food on the voyage let alone in the following year.  Mars trips could have similar problems.

A colony able to produce its own food, water, clothing, transport, energy, furniture and buildings is going to be very sophisticated.  I suspect that level of self reliance will not be available until towards the end.

Online docmordrid

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4919
  • Michigan
  • Liked: 2029
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #26 on: 11/27/2012 05:52 AM »
>
A colony able to produce its own food, water, clothing, transport, energy, furniture and buildings is going to be very sophisticated.  I suspect that level of self reliance will not be available until towards the end.

ISRU doesn't just mean using what's thrre, but finding multiple uses for what you bring with you. Look to the past, as in our ancestors handcrafts.

Water: subsurface & recyclng
Food: grow your own, see greenhouse
Clothing: growing your own food & other plants are a great source of cellulose fibers. See spinning wheel & looms. Worked for great-granny.
Furniture: thicker plant stems are easily made into wicker. Wicker makes very durable furniture.
Buildings: look to the opal miners of Australia who dig their shelters underground as they mine. Lots of other ways to do it as well.

DM

Offline MikeAtkinson

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1779
  • Bracknell, England
  • Liked: 542
  • Likes Given: 70
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #27 on: 11/27/2012 06:27 AM »
If a L2 to Mars transfer hab cost $350m (about the same as a 747) and transferred 150 people every 2 years then paying for the hab with standard 7% bonds would make the interest be ~ $350,000 / person.

Few ships or aircraft last much longer than 30 years, so again for a 2 year round trip ~ $150,000 / person would be needed to pay off the capital.

This indicates that the transfer hab would have to be very cheap or be used much more frequently than once every 2 years (implying high energy transfers).

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3458
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1863
  • Likes Given: 223
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #28 on: 11/27/2012 03:54 PM »
If a L2 to Mars transfer hab cost $350m (about the same as a 747) and transferred 150 people every 2 years then paying for the hab with standard 7% bonds would make the interest be ~ $350,000 / person.

Few ships or aircraft last much longer than 30 years, so again for a 2 year round trip ~ $150,000 / person would be needed to pay off the capital.

This indicates that the transfer hab would have to be very cheap or be used much more frequently than once every 2 years (implying high energy transfers).

Or manufactured in greater quantities so that its price is much lower. In order to keep pace with a launch rate of 1 a week launching 150 people into orbit that half head on to Mars then you would need not 1 but 50 such Mars Liners.

Offline mrmandias

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 507
  • US
  • Liked: 29
  • Likes Given: 34
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #29 on: 11/27/2012 04:32 PM »
If a L2 to Mars transfer hab cost $350m (about the same as a 747) and transferred 150 people every 2 years then paying for the hab with standard 7% bonds would make the interest be ~ $350,000 / person.

Few ships or aircraft last much longer than 30 years, so again for a 2 year round trip ~ $150,000 / person would be needed to pay off the capital.

This indicates that the transfer hab would have to be very cheap or be used much more frequently than once every 2 years (implying high energy transfers).

Or manufactured in greater quantities so that its price is much lower. In order to keep pace with a launch rate of 1 a week launching 150 people into orbit that half head on to Mars then you would need not 1 but 50 such Mars Liners.

Boeing 747 are already manufactured in much greater quantities.

Online meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8484
  • N. California
  • Liked: 4682
  • Likes Given: 884
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #30 on: 11/27/2012 05:40 PM »
If a L2 to Mars transfer hab cost $350m (about the same as a 747) and transferred 150 people every 2 years then paying for the hab with standard 7% bonds would make the interest be ~ $350,000 / person.

Few ships or aircraft last much longer than 30 years, so again for a 2 year round trip ~ $150,000 / person would be needed to pay off the capital.

This indicates that the transfer hab would have to be very cheap or be used much more frequently than once every 2 years (implying high energy transfers).

I am not an expert, but my impression was that "practical" high energy transfers are faster, but still only occur once every 2 years - can someone comment?

(If true, this only strengthens the argument)
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #31 on: 11/27/2012 06:27 PM »
If a L2 to Mars transfer hab cost $350m (about the same as a 747) and transferred 150 people every 2 years then paying for the hab with standard 7% bonds would make the interest be ~ $350,000 / person.

Few ships or aircraft last much longer than 30 years, so again for a 2 year round trip ~ $150,000 / person would be needed to pay off the capital.

This indicates that the transfer hab would have to be very cheap or be used much more frequently than once every 2 years (implying high energy transfers).

I am not an expert, but my impression was that "practical" high energy transfers are faster, but still only occur once every 2 years - can someone comment?

(If true, this only strengthens the argument)
Indeed!  The argument is strong. You have to make them as cheaply as cars and such are made, and on a similar scale.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline mrmandias

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 507
  • US
  • Liked: 29
  • Likes Given: 34
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #32 on: 11/27/2012 07:19 PM »

If a L2 to Mars transfer hab cost $350m (about the same as a 747) and transferred 150 people every 2 years then paying for the hab with standard 7% bonds would make the interest be ~ $350,000 / person.

Few ships or aircraft last much longer than 30 years, so again for a 2 year round trip ~ $150,000 / person would be needed to pay off the capital.

This indicates that the transfer hab would have to be very cheap or be used much more frequently than once every 2 years (implying high energy transfers).


What this suggests is that Musk has to be considering continuous acceleration options, Advanced Concept stuff like ion drives or solar sails, so that trips can be made more frequently than once per two years.
« Last Edit: 11/27/2012 07:20 PM by mrmandias »

Offline Elmar Moelzer

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3152
  • Liked: 581
  • Likes Given: 839
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #33 on: 11/27/2012 07:21 PM »
Quote
What this suggests is that Musk has to be considering continuous acceleration options, Advanced Concept stuff like ion drives or solar sails, so that trips can be made more frequently than once per two years
The fusion driven rocket could do a trip in 30 days (if Slough gets it to work as advertised). You would still have a two year cycle, but the usable timeframe within that cycle would be longer and you could go back and forth more often.

Offline Prober

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10313
  • Save the spin....I'm keeping you honest!
  • Nevada
  • Liked: 701
  • Likes Given: 728
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #34 on: 11/27/2012 07:22 PM »
If a L2 to Mars transfer hab cost $350m (about the same as a 747) and transferred 150 people every 2 years then paying for the hab with standard 7% bonds would make the interest be ~ $350,000 / person.

Few ships or aircraft last much longer than 30 years, so again for a 2 year round trip ~ $150,000 / person would be needed to pay off the capital.

This indicates that the transfer hab would have to be very cheap or be used much more frequently than once every 2 years (implying high energy transfers).

Or manufactured in greater quantities so that its price is much lower. In order to keep pace with a launch rate of 1 a week launching 150 people into orbit that half head on to Mars then you would need not 1 but 50 such Mars Liners.

Boeing 747 are already manufactured in much greater quantities.

maybe we can have a coupon day for the lucky few :)-
« Last Edit: 11/27/2012 07:23 PM by Prober »
2017 - Everything Old is New Again.
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. ~ by Thomas Alva Edison

Offline aero

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2974
  • 92129
  • Liked: 793
  • Likes Given: 281
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #35 on: 11/27/2012 07:46 PM »
Its been quoted that Elon Musk wants 80,000 people on Mars. Is there any timeline for this? That is, the first launch marks year 0,day 1, is there an expectation that the 80,000 people will be transported over any particular time span? One decade, two decades, ... . 8 decades?

Because I don't think 80,000 people can be transported to Mars in any reasonable number of 150 passenger transports in a reasonable number of years. And I'll add that 1 to 2 decades would seem reasonable to me.
Retired, working interesting problems

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #36 on: 11/27/2012 07:50 PM »
Its been quoted that Elon Musk wants 80,000 people on Mars. Is there any timeline for this? That is, the first launch marks year 0,day 1, is there an expectation that the 80,000 people will be transported over any particular time span? One decade, two decades, ... . 8 decades?

Because I don't think 80,000 people can be transported to Mars in any reasonable number of 150 passenger transports in a reasonable number of years. And I'll add that 1 to 2 decades would seem reasonable to me.
It almost has to be that great, since you'd have to mass-produce the reusable transfer vehicles like you manufacture cars. It'd never get down to anywhere close to such a small cost for going to Mars /unless/ you had tens or even hundreds of thousands of colonists.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline mrmandias

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 507
  • US
  • Liked: 29
  • Likes Given: 34
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #37 on: 11/27/2012 10:20 PM »
Musk keeps mentioning public-private partnerships to settle Mars.  I wonder if his $500,000 figure assumes that development costs are paid by government customers so that the passenger is only having to pay manufacturing and operation costs.  How much would a 747 cost if Boeing had developed it for 'free'?


Offline QuantumG

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8638
  • Australia
  • Liked: 3548
  • Likes Given: 840
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #38 on: 11/27/2012 10:58 PM »
I agree.
I hear those things are awfully loud. It glides as softly as a cloud. What's it called? Monowhale!

Offline mlindner

  • Software Engineer
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2010
  • Space Capitalist
  • Silicon Valley, CA -- previously in Ann Arbor, MI
  • Liked: 649
  • Likes Given: 239
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #39 on: 11/28/2012 01:22 AM »
Musk keeps mentioning public-private partnerships to settle Mars.  I wonder if his $500,000 figure assumes that development costs are paid by government customers so that the passenger is only having to pay manufacturing and operation costs.  How much would a 747 cost if Boeing had developed it for 'free'?

Based on other information he's said I doubt it. He talks about $500,000 being the price at which someone could sell everything they have and move (ala the english colonists). Those wouldn't be government passengers.
Internal combustion engine in space. It's just a Bad Idea.TM - Robotbeat

Offline QuantumG

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8638
  • Australia
  • Liked: 3548
  • Likes Given: 840
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #40 on: 11/28/2012 01:37 AM »
Musk keeps mentioning public-private partnerships to settle Mars.  I wonder if his $500,000 figure assumes that development costs are paid by government customers so that the passenger is only having to pay manufacturing and operation costs.  How much would a 747 cost if Boeing had developed it for 'free'?

Based on other information he's said I doubt it. He talks about $500,000 being the price at which someone could sell everything they have and move (ala the english colonists). Those wouldn't be government passengers.

Yes, mrmandias was talking about the development cost of such a system that would enable that.
I hear those things are awfully loud. It glides as softly as a cloud. What's it called? Monowhale!

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8459
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 338
  • Likes Given: 146
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #41 on: 11/28/2012 03:35 AM »
>
A colony able to produce its own food, water, clothing, transport, energy, furniture and buildings is going to be very sophisticated.  I suspect that level of self reliance will not be available until towards the end.

ISRU doesn't just mean using what's thrre, but finding multiple uses for what you bring with you. Look to the past, as in our ancestors handcrafts.

Water: subsurface & recyclng
Food: grow your own, see greenhouse
Clothing: growing your own food & other plants are a great source of cellulose fibers. See spinning wheel & looms. Worked for great-granny.
Furniture: thicker plant stems are easily made into wicker. Wicker makes very durable furniture.
Buildings: look to the opal miners of Australia who dig their shelters underground as they mine. Lots of other ways to do it as well.



Look at the number of people in Australia.

Offline MikeAtkinson

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1779
  • Bracknell, England
  • Liked: 542
  • Likes Given: 70
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #42 on: 11/28/2012 06:05 AM »
If we assume that the average stay on Mars is 10 years (some will stay permanently, others only a couple of years), then using 150 person transfer habs in low energy trajectories about 1000 are needed. If it takes 20 years to build up, then the production rate is 50/year or 1/week. This is about twice that of the 747-8. Although a high rate for large aerospace structures it is nowhere near car production levels.

If using high energy (say 2 weeks one way on average) only about 40 transfer habs are needed. I know of no current technology which could give such high speed trajectories and even if such a technology is developed the cost of the energy for the trip would be high.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #43 on: 11/28/2012 04:57 PM »
If we assume that the average stay on Mars is 10 years (some will stay permanently, others only a couple of years), then using 150 person transfer habs in low energy trajectories about 1000 are needed. If it takes 20 years to build up, then the production rate is 50/year or 1/week. This is about twice that of the 747-8. Although a high rate for large aerospace structures it is nowhere near car production levels.

If using high energy (say 2 weeks one way on average) only about 40 transfer habs are needed. I know of no current technology which could give such high speed trajectories and even if such a technology is developed the cost of the energy for the trip would be high.
One per week is a lot. But what if instead of 150 people per transfer hab, it's more like 4 or 5? And what if the build-up is much faster, like ten years? That's 60 per week, much closer to car production numbers.

This whole plan is crazy, we must not lose sight of that. But is it possible to make an RV-sized pressure vessel with simple RCS (perhaps cold/warm gas), simple ECLSS (not recycling, just scrubbing CO2 from a reusable scurbber and adding O2 from a liquid oxygen tank, possibly recycling water or using electrolysis to get oxygen from water for simpler storage), some body-mounted solar panels, docking port, etc? Can it be done on that sort of scale, equivalent almost to luxury car production runs? For maybe $5-10 million or less a piece?

It doesn't seem /physically/ impossible, and conceivably if done with enough automation and with the development/engineering costs spread over thousands of these units, maybe it could be done economically, if the demand were there.

Remember, all a transfer vehicle has to do is keep the passengers alive from when they leave Earth orbit until arrival at Mars orbit. Delta-v for trans-Mars-insertion and for Mars orbit insertion can be done by reusable rocket stages (used for multiple transfer vehicles for each synod) on each end of the trip. Landing would be handled by a reusable lander of some sort, but landing can occur over a broader time scale, once everyone has arrived safely at Mars orbit.
« Last Edit: 11/28/2012 05:18 PM by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline MikeAtkinson

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1779
  • Bracknell, England
  • Liked: 542
  • Likes Given: 70
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #44 on: 11/28/2012 06:00 PM »
If we assume that the average stay on Mars is 10 years (some will stay permanently, others only a couple of years), then using 150 person transfer habs in low energy trajectories about 1000 are needed. If it takes 20 years to build up, then the production rate is 50/year or 1/week. This is about twice that of the 747-8. Although a high rate for large aerospace structures it is nowhere near car production levels.

If using high energy (say 2 weeks one way on average) only about 40 transfer habs are needed. I know of no current technology which could give such high speed trajectories and even if such a technology is developed the cost of the energy for the trip would be high.
One per week is a lot. But what if instead of 150 people per transfer hab, it's more like 4 or 5? And what if the build-up is much faster, like ten years?

I'm assuming a professional crew of 8 will be needed and that no more than 20 passengers per crew are practical.

Major systems will include, power, heat removal, air replenishment and distribution, water recycling and distribution, lighting, comms, data networks, secondary propulsion, exercise and entertainment, safety, emergency response, airlocks, docking ports and many others. Then there are the more domestic side (cooking, cleaning, washing, etc.).

In general I think it likely that larger sizes will be more efficient.  Production rates for a 150 person hab would be large enough that there will be few extra gains from going to 30x the rate for 5 person habs.

I agree that reusable rocket stages that do not travel with the hab might be a possible way forward. An alternative might be some form of beamed power for propulsion with power stations at Earth and Mars.

Offline Elmar Moelzer

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3152
  • Liked: 581
  • Likes Given: 839
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #45 on: 11/28/2012 06:07 PM »
I think that the key to making this work is reducing the transfer times. If transfer times are a month or less, you dont have to bring as many consumables with you on that passenger flight. Things needed for the stay on mars can then be sent ahead of time with a slower and cheaper cargo transport and can focus on production of things on mars instead of consumables for the trip.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #46 on: 11/28/2012 06:12 PM »
If we assume that the average stay on Mars is 10 years (some will stay permanently, others only a couple of years), then using 150 person transfer habs in low energy trajectories about 1000 are needed. If it takes 20 years to build up, then the production rate is 50/year or 1/week. This is about twice that of the 747-8. Although a high rate for large aerospace structures it is nowhere near car production levels.

If using high energy (say 2 weeks one way on average) only about 40 transfer habs are needed. I know of no current technology which could give such high speed trajectories and even if such a technology is developed the cost of the energy for the trip would be high.
One per week is a lot. But what if instead of 150 people per transfer hab, it's more like 4 or 5? And what if the build-up is much faster, like ten years?

I'm assuming a professional crew of 8 will be needed and that no more than 20 passengers per crew are practical.

Major systems will include, power, heat removal, air replenishment and distribution, water recycling and distribution, lighting, comms, data networks, secondary propulsion, exercise and entertainment, safety, emergency response, airlocks, docking ports and many others. Then there are the more domestic side (cooking, cleaning, washing, etc.).

In general I think it likely that larger sizes will be more efficient.  Production rates for a 150 person hab would be large enough that there will be few extra gains from going to 30x the rate for 5 person habs.

I agree that reusable rocket stages that do not travel with the hab might be a possible way forward. An alternative might be some form of beamed power for propulsion with power stations at Earth and Mars.
Beamed propulsion makes no sense. Just go with solar. Seriously, people who advocate beamed power for use when solar power is available constantly (unlike the Earth's surface) are severely under-estimating how good solar power is.

You may indeed be right WRT economy of scale. I was assuming no paid personnel, and just eating pre-prepared rations for the duration.

60 craft per week would, after a decade, would be as high of a total production as just about any aircraft and much greater than any pressurized aircraft.

But I'm thinking of what sort of production rate you'd want with extreme automation and economies of scale. Cars are a lot cheaper than airplanes, partially because cars are produced with high levels of automation (and because the margins are higher in cars), and have been for most of the century:
« Last Edit: 11/28/2012 06:20 PM by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline go4mars

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3747
  • Earth
  • Liked: 147
  • Likes Given: 3073
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #47 on: 11/29/2012 01:57 AM »
what if instead of 150 people per transfer hab...And what if the build-up is much faster, like ten years? That's 60 per week, much closer to car production numbers.  ...possible to make an RV-sized pressure vessel with simple RCS (perhaps cold/warm gas), simple ECLSS (not recycling, just scrubbing CO2 from a reusable scurbber and adding O2 from a liquid oxygen tank, possibly recycling water or using electrolysis to get oxygen from water for simpler storage), some body-mounted solar panels, docking port, etc? Can it be done on that sort of scale, equivalent almost to luxury car production runs? For maybe $5-10 million or less a piece?

It doesn't seem /physically/ impossible, and conceivably if done with enough automation and with the development/engineering costs spread over thousands of these units, maybe it could be done economically, if the demand were there.

Exactly.  Though I expect the pressure vessels to be bigger than any RV's I've ever seen. 

In the future, the CEO of SpaceX might go talk to the CEO of Tesla (I know), and say "I notice you have expertise with mass-producing tens of thousands of relatively complex aluminum vehicles per year.  Care to collaborate on a project of joint benefit?  It would be a little different, but I believe it will be good value for your shareholders."  To which the CEO of Tesla, while leaning in close to the SpaceX CEO (to dislodge some popcorn from his teeth) might reply, "I trust the look in your eyes, and believe in your market projections.  Let's collaborate." 
Elasmotherium; hurlyburly Doggerlandic Jentilak steeds insouciantly gallop in viridescent taiga, eluding deluginal Burckle's abyssal excavation.

Offline joek

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2931
  • Liked: 691
  • Likes Given: 368
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #48 on: 11/29/2012 02:55 AM »
But this is such far-fetched talk our ability to guess the future is really limited.

We're probably in "advanced topic" land here.

Agree.  Maybe better to consider what a (sustainable over X years, Y years into the future) Mars colonization effort might look like, and the ground rules & assumptions, or the technology advances required to achieve a price point if $Z/person/Mars-yr.

Notably missing from many such discussions are potential advancements in bio-sciences which could have a significant impact on the compexion of such an endeavor including, but not limited to, significant increase in working life expectancy, human hibernation, "synthetic meat", etc.

In short, way too many variables and contributing factors which are extremely difficult or near-impossible to predict or extrapolate with much confidence--and of which "rocket science" is only one part.

Offline go4mars

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3747
  • Earth
  • Liked: 147
  • Likes Given: 3073
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #49 on: 11/29/2012 03:16 AM »
Agree.  Maybe better to consider what a (sustainable over X years, Y years into the future) Mars colonization effort might look like, and the ground rules & assumptions, or the technology advances required to achieve a price point if $Z/person/Mars-yr.
The funny thing about a colony on Mars:  There are no half-steps imo.  To make it big enough to be successful, you need to do it on a huge scale.  Otherwise you're talking about unbearably expensive per person prices.  The only way to possibly realize the thread title's claim, is to go big.  Giant reusable BFR's that are mass produced and use the cheapest fuel(s) possible. 

Though I might be missing what you are getting at.  Feel free to elaborate on your post with some specifics or claims.  Then there's something more concrete to discuss.   
Elasmotherium; hurlyburly Doggerlandic Jentilak steeds insouciantly gallop in viridescent taiga, eluding deluginal Burckle's abyssal excavation.

Offline joek

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2931
  • Liked: 691
  • Likes Given: 368
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #50 on: 11/29/2012 03:45 AM »
Agree.  Maybe better to consider what a (sustainable over X years, Y years into the future) Mars colonization effort might look like, and the ground rules & assumptions, or the technology advances required to achieve a price point if $Z/person/Mars-yr.
The funny thing about a colony on Mars:  There are no half-steps imo.  To make it big enough to be successful, you need to do it on a huge scale.  Otherwise you're talking about unbearably expensive per person prices.  The only way to possibly realize the thread title's claim, is to go big.  Giant reusable BFR's that are mass produced and use the cheapest fuel(s) possible. 

Though I might be missing what you are getting at.  Feel free to elaborate on your post with some specifics or claims.  Then there's something more concrete to discuss.   

At the risk of wandering into what probably belongs in advanced topics, consider...
- What if your working life expectancy was 100+ years?
- What if you could ship people between Earth and Mars for little more than the price of cargo?
- What if sustaining human presence on Mars (above bare sustenance levels) was nil?
How would those answers change the equation?  Moreover, are the answers likely to found in advances in bigger-cheaper-rockets-transports-whatever, or in other disciplines?

Offline MikeAtkinson

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1779
  • Bracknell, England
  • Liked: 542
  • Likes Given: 70
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #51 on: 11/29/2012 05:43 AM »
Beamed propulsion makes no sense. Just go with solar. Seriously, people who advocate beamed power for use when solar power is available constantly (unlike the Earth's surface) are severely under-estimating how good solar power is.

For high energy trajectories (2 weeks transit) the power required is in the GW. The several km2 needed for solar becomes unwieldy at those power levels (imagine several manoeuvering [British spelling] around a spaceport). Beamed power is a possibility for solving that.

Offline MikeAtkinson

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1779
  • Bracknell, England
  • Liked: 542
  • Likes Given: 70
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #52 on: 11/29/2012 06:07 AM »
Mars is likely to be high wage, high cost of living.

High wage because of the high skill levels needed and the fact that low added value activities are better done on Earth.

High cost of living use to the cost of imports and the low population level leading to inefficiency in manufacturing, distribution, services, etc.

If say the average wage was $400,000/year and cost of living $200,000/year then the $500,000 cost of the trip is minor.

A point of reference is recruitment of high-flyers. It is not unusual for them to be given golden hellos of the order of $500,000. Neither is it unusual for rent to be paid on luxury flats (appartments) in London to be paid when recruiting from overseas, luxury flats can go for $50,000 / week although $5000 - $10000 / week is more usual.

Offline Dave G

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2175
  • Liked: 875
  • Likes Given: 1156
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #53 on: 11/29/2012 09:25 AM »
Quote from Musk:

[How many people on a flight?] "In the beginning you'd go with a smaller number of people and you'd have a higher proportion of cargo and emergency equipment and that kind of thing. Once you really got rolling, you'd increase the number of people on the flight because you'd have supplies there. So you wouldn't need to worry about carrying with you all the supplies for the journey there, the stay on the surface and coming back. So initially you start off with maybe a handful of people, less than 10, just trying to give orders of magnitude here, but then you'd go to 100 or more in steady state, down the road."

I believe the $500,000 price tag corresponds to that "down the road" number of passengers. 

To be clear, Musk wants to get people on Mars within 10-20 years, but that's nowhere near the $500K ticket price. 

Musk also mentioned there would be a lot of investment required to build a Mars base large enough to support normal passengers at $500K each.  I believe this would require many years to come to fruition.

So we're talking probably 25 to 50 years from now before this $500K price has a chance of becoming real.
« Last Edit: 11/29/2012 02:12 PM by Dave G »

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #54 on: 11/29/2012 06:23 PM »
Beamed propulsion makes no sense. Just go with solar. Seriously, people who advocate beamed power for use when solar power is available constantly (unlike the Earth's surface) are severely under-estimating how good solar power is.

For high energy trajectories (2 weeks transit) the power required is in the GW. The several km2 needed for solar becomes unwieldy at those power levels (imagine several manoeuvering [British spelling] around a spaceport). Beamed power is a possibility for solving that.
You're talking as if power is independent of mass. You can also use a much smaller array if you have a much smaller mass. Also, the mass of the solar array itself is important, and can be driven quite small. 1kW/kg is possible... even beyond, 5kW/kg, if you use a solar power sail. At 5kW/kg, 1GW takes 200mT. Sure, it may take a couple km^2, but that is not a show-stopper in space, where there is ample room for large structures.

But have you even CONSIDERED the size of antenna or optics needed to transmit power efficiently from Earth to Mars? Calculate it and let us know, starting with microwaves. Even just from GSO to the surface is quite a feat. Going from Earth orbit to Mars would be ridiculous. A large solar power sail looks pretty appealing compared to that.

Also, remember that that is just a small portion of the mass needed... you also need the thrusters themselves, which are very heavy as well. Supposing a miracle happens and you could get them to 10kW/kg, including power conversion... That'd be 100mT for 1GW. Suppose you also have 100mT of cargo, 4mT of tanks. That'd give you 400mT dry mass for 1GW, giving you a dry mass specific power of ~2.5kW/kg.

But suppose instead you had only 10mT of cargo? That'd mean "only" 100MW is needed, for a much smaller solar array. Giving power requirements without mass is meaningless.
« Last Edit: 11/29/2012 06:46 PM by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline MikeAtkinson

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1779
  • Bracknell, England
  • Liked: 542
  • Likes Given: 70
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #55 on: 11/29/2012 06:52 PM »
But suppose instead you had only 10mT of cargo? That'd mean "only" 100MW is needed, for a much smaller solar array. Giving power requirements without mass is meaningless.

10 tonnes for 150 people? No way!

I assumed a slightly smaller volume and reduced supplies when I came up with the several GW estimate.

Put it another way the 39 days to Mars using VISIMR was widely rejected when Ad Astra mooted the idea, because of the insanely optimistic specific power. Reducing down from 39 days to 14 days takes ~(39/14)^2 (=7.76) as great a specific power.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #56 on: 11/29/2012 07:24 PM »
But suppose instead you had only 10mT of cargo? That'd mean "only" 100MW is needed, for a much smaller solar array. Giving power requirements without mass is meaningless.

10 tonnes for 150 people? No way!

I assumed a slightly smaller volume and reduced supplies when I came up with the several GW estimate.

Put it another way the 39 days to Mars using VISIMR was widely rejected when Ad Astra mooted the idea, because of the insanely optimistic specific power. Reducing down from 39 days to 14 days takes ~(39/14)^2 (=7.76) as great a specific power.
That's about right.

But that's a very high number for beamed power propulsion as well! And higher than any fission (or fusion) process other than maybe ol' bang-bang (which isn't exactly flawless, either).

Solar power may actually be high enough performance for it (you can make solar cells as thin as a solar sail), but the rest of the components aren't, and they become really important. There are ways around this, but usually they are inefficient.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline MikeAtkinson

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1779
  • Bracknell, England
  • Liked: 542
  • Likes Given: 70
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #57 on: 11/29/2012 08:13 PM »
That's about right.

But that's a very high number for beamed power propulsion as well!

True, but if you look back at what I originally wrote:

Quote
I agree that reusable rocket stages that do not travel with the hab might be a possible way forward. An alternative might be some form of beamed power for propulsion with power stations at Earth and Mars.

Quote
For high energy trajectories (2 weeks transit) the power required is in the GW. The several km2 needed for solar becomes unwieldy at those power levels (imagine several manoeuvering [British spelling] around a spaceport). Beamed power is a possibility for solving that.

you can see I was never advocating beamed power in the first place. For a system that is several decades in the future things that cannot be ruled out, are at least possible. I agree that beamed power is probably not the solution that is going to be picked. But there are many possibilities, e.g. neutral particle beam propulsion - a beam of neutral particles at almost the speed of light is fired at the spacecraft, it ionizes them and then uses magnetic fields to deflect them producing a very high Isp drive. The technology to do that is formidable! There are dozens of variants of beamed power propulsion and probably many that have not been thought of yet.


Offline DLR

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 497
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #58 on: 11/29/2012 08:31 PM »
As suggested before, I think the $500,000 per passenger price could be achieved with high-performance light sails acclerated and decelerated by orbital lasers. These "lightcraft" could make the trip in a matter of days / weeks regardless of launch windows.

The laser stations would have to be huge though, in the multi-GW range at least. The advantage is that these lasers could be used at all times. Chemical or solar electric rockets would be much slower and launch window constrained and thus not suitable for a reusable transportation system, which requires a high number of trips to recoup capital costs.
« Last Edit: 11/29/2012 08:40 PM by DLR »

Offline MikeAtkinson

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1779
  • Bracknell, England
  • Liked: 542
  • Likes Given: 70
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #59 on: 11/29/2012 08:47 PM »
I've one last thing to say on this topic. Even if you had extremely high energy trajectories (2 weeks one way) only about 10 trips per year would be possible, over a 20 year lifespan of the hab it can only be reused 200 times.

This is miniscule compared to the reuse we expect out of cars, trains and planes. If bonds are issued at a rate of 7% then about 0.7% of the purchase cost needs to be used to pay back the interest on the bond and another 0.5% is needed to pay back the capital. On top of that are running costs (fuel, maintenance, crew, etc.) and profit.

If the capital costs of the hab were 10% of the total ticket price, that gives a cost/person for the hab of 15,000 / 0.012 = $1.25M. This does not seem impossible, but is in m opinion extremely difficult to reach, as in this high energy short trip time scenario there will be few habs produced so the benefits of mass production will not kick in.

We've discussed the likelihood of these high energy transfers. It seems that they will require massive improvements in technology.

[edit: high energy trajectories by definition have high energy demands, the cost of energy is likely to be the dominant factor.

Only 10 or so habs would be required, at a production rate of one every other year, hab capital cost is likely to be dominated by development and engineering team sustainment costs.]

----

I've also discussed 2 year transfers. The low number of reuses (10 in twenty years) and large size due to their transit times mean that the capital costs are likely prohibitive, using the above assumptions about 25% of the capital cost needs to be paid each trip, so the cost per capita is only 15,000 / 0.25 = $60,000

It seems to me impossible to produce a hab so cheaply. The comparison is not so much with a car, but a trailer home (passengers are going to be living in it for 6 months or more), with all the additional systems needed for space on top.

[edit: perhaps 16,000 people would transfer every window, even with 150 person habs, this is many a day. It is inefficient to have such bursts in demand, and this is bound to add to costs.

Beamed power would be overwhelmed, beamed power is not likely to be efficient for slow trajectories anyway]

----

What is left are medium energy trajectories, perhaps 3-6 months round trip. So in 20 years about 60 trips may be made. About 3.5% is needed to pay of capital, so that comes out to 15,000 / 0.035 = $430,000/person.

In my opinion these medium energy trajectories are most likely what Elon has in mind. The technology is still difficult, but not impossible, perhaps what VISIMR can realistically be expected to produce after several iterations. Costs of in-space hardware would need to come down by 3 orders of magnitude (when manufactured in lots of 100s).

« Last Edit: 11/29/2012 09:06 PM by MikeAtkinson »

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #60 on: 11/29/2012 08:50 PM »
...But there are many possibilities, e.g. neutral particle beam propulsion - a beam of neutral particles at almost the speed of light is fired at the spacecraft, it ionizes them and then uses magnetic fields to deflect them producing a very high Isp drive. The technology to do that is formidable!...
Yes, my favorite version of beamed propulsion. If you go for only a small fraction of the speed of light, it's a lot more efficient (power-wise). The ideal relative velocity (relative velocity of the neutral particle and craft at impact) for the particles (power-wise) is probably something like twice the velocity of the craft (in the emitter's reference frame). This would be a far more efficient (orders of magnitude more efficient than just pure light) and effective (due to lack of large optics) version of beamed propulsion, IMHO, for interstellar travel.
« Last Edit: 11/29/2012 09:17 PM by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #61 on: 11/29/2012 08:54 PM »
As suggested before, I think the $500,000 per passenger price could be achieved with high-performance light sails acclerated and decelerated by orbital lasers. These "lightcraft" could make the trip in a matter of days / weeks regardless of launch windows.

The laser stations would have to be huge though, in the multi-GW range at least. The advantage is that these lasers could be used at all times. Chemical or solar electric rockets would be much slower and launch window constrained and thus not suitable for a reusable transportation system, which requires a high number of trips to recoup capital costs.
GW? Need much more than a Gigawatt, at least for the kind of payloads and timescales we're talking about. Terawatt, maybe?
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Joel

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 533
  • Wisconsin
  • Liked: 42
  • Likes Given: 42
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #62 on: 11/29/2012 09:00 PM »
But there are many possibilities, e.g. neutral particle beam propulsion

Another possibility is teleportation. Russians perfected this technology long before they perfected oxygen-rich rocket engines. Using ethanol fuel, you get from point A to point B without remembering anything in between. Works great when travelling in Russia.

Offline QuantumG

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8638
  • Australia
  • Liked: 3548
  • Likes Given: 840
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #63 on: 11/29/2012 09:02 PM »
But there are many possibilities, e.g. neutral particle beam propulsion

Another possibility is teleportation. Russians perfected this technology long before they perfected oxygen-rich rocket engines. Using ethanol fuel, you get from point A to point B without remembering anything in between. Works great when travelling in Russia.

lol
I hear those things are awfully loud. It glides as softly as a cloud. What's it called? Monowhale!

Offline MikeAtkinson

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1779
  • Bracknell, England
  • Liked: 542
  • Likes Given: 70
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #64 on: 11/29/2012 09:11 PM »
The ideal velocity for the particles (power-wise) is probably something like twice the relative velocity of the neutral particle and craft at impact.

Yes that is the most efficient, but it may not be the best. Very high particle velocities mean that far fewer of them need to be produced, and it might be easier to collimate them as well.

I first came across this concept in JBIS about 20 years ago, but have seen nothing since. Is there a forum topic on it?

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #65 on: 11/29/2012 09:15 PM »
QuantumG: It is true that some sort of medically induced coma or hibernation would make sending people to Mars far more efficient.

Topic:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=28109.0

If a Mars colony actually does take off, you'll see this topic discussed quite a bit. Prison colony... Australia II!  ;D
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline DLR

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 497
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #66 on: 11/29/2012 09:25 PM »
As suggested before, I think the $500,000 per passenger price could be achieved with high-performance light sails acclerated and decelerated by orbital lasers. These "lightcraft" could make the trip in a matter of days / weeks regardless of launch windows.

The laser stations would have to be huge though, in the multi-GW range at least. The advantage is that these lasers could be used at all times. Chemical or solar electric rockets would be much slower and launch window constrained and thus not suitable for a reusable transportation system, which requires a high number of trips to recoup capital costs.
GW? Need much more than a Gigawatt, at least for the kind of payloads and timescales we're talking about. Terawatt, maybe?

Multi-GW! ;)

Of course it depends on the speed and size of the craft ... and the technology used. If your optics are good enough you can utilise one photon several times by bouncing it back and forth between sail and emitter.

http://www.rametzger.com/nonfic-mblbs.htm

I believe that some form of beamed propulsion is our only option to really open up the solar system to rapid human travel (days to weeks instead of months to decades now). Maybe fusion too, but IMO that's less of a given. Sails and lasers merely require advances in engineering. Think 22nd century engineering. Space resources would have to be mined to construct the huge power sats required to produce the beams in orbit.

« Last Edit: 11/29/2012 09:32 PM by DLR »

Offline QuantumG

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8638
  • Australia
  • Liked: 3548
  • Likes Given: 840
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #67 on: 11/29/2012 09:40 PM »
If a Mars colony actually does take off, you'll see this topic discussed quite a bit. Prison colony... Australia II!  ;D

Slave colony... America II!  ;D
I hear those things are awfully loud. It glides as softly as a cloud. What's it called? Monowhale!

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #68 on: 11/29/2012 09:55 PM »
If a Mars colony actually does take off, you'll see this topic discussed quite a bit. Prison colony... Australia II!  ;D

Slave colony... America II!  ;D

Low blow! Low blow! (But touche nonetheless)
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #69 on: 11/29/2012 09:56 PM »
As suggested before, I think the $500,000 per passenger price could be achieved with high-performance light sails acclerated and decelerated by orbital lasers. These "lightcraft" could make the trip in a matter of days / weeks regardless of launch windows.

The laser stations would have to be huge though, in the multi-GW range at least. The advantage is that these lasers could be used at all times. Chemical or solar electric rockets would be much slower and launch window constrained and thus not suitable for a reusable transportation system, which requires a high number of trips to recoup capital costs.
GW? Need much more than a Gigawatt, at least for the kind of payloads and timescales we're talking about. Terawatt, maybe?

Multi-GW! ;)

Of course it depends on the speed and size of the craft ... and the technology used. If your optics are good enough you can utilise one photon several times by bouncing it back and forth between sail and emitter. ...

Not feasible, or your sail would get really, really heavy really fast.

Again, light for propulsion is very, very power inefficient. Neutral particle (or slightly charged dust) propulsion is much more efficient.
« Last Edit: 11/29/2012 09:57 PM by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline LegendCJS

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 575
  • Boston, MA
  • Liked: 7
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #70 on: 11/30/2012 12:51 AM »
When Elon finally divulges the details of his Mars plan you will find that the propulsion technology will involve only chemical rockets burning methane fuel, plus whatever they chose for RCS systems.  This discussion of NIAC-land concepts is off topic.

Elon said in an interview that the $500k price is predicated on methane because it is the cheapest fuel.

I add that the ticket price is one way, based on a line from a SpaceX employee giving a presentation (during questions afterward) that the $500k ticket price is "one way."

When asked if people could return from Mars he said that he felt that answering that question was Elon's job, not his, but he did add that the feasibility of the system architecture was dependent on every element being reusable... and left it at that.
Also given as an answer to a question was a line that hardware elements of the plan "could" be refuel on Mars, but that it wasn't in the baseline.  My impression was that it was a nice to have but not needed for the $500k price calculation.
« Last Edit: 11/30/2012 01:05 AM by LegendCJS »
Remember: if we want this whole space thing to work out we have to optimize for cost!

Offline mlindner

  • Software Engineer
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2010
  • Space Capitalist
  • Silicon Valley, CA -- previously in Ann Arbor, MI
  • Liked: 649
  • Likes Given: 239
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #71 on: 11/30/2012 01:21 AM »
As suggested before, I think the $500,000 per passenger price could be achieved with high-performance light sails acclerated and decelerated by orbital lasers. These "lightcraft" could make the trip in a matter of days / weeks regardless of launch windows.

The laser stations would have to be huge though, in the multi-GW range at least. The advantage is that these lasers could be used at all times. Chemical or solar electric rockets would be much slower and launch window constrained and thus not suitable for a reusable transportation system, which requires a high number of trips to recoup capital costs.
GW? Need much more than a Gigawatt, at least for the kind of payloads and timescales we're talking about. Terawatt, maybe?
Of course it depends on the speed and size of the craft ... and the technology used. If your optics are good enough you can utilise one photon several times by bouncing it back and forth between sail and emitter.
Whoa hold on. My alarms for perpetual energy claims are going off. How does bouncing it multiple times solve anything? One bounce won't get you anything less than 1000 bounces.
Internal combustion engine in space. It's just a Bad Idea.TM - Robotbeat

Offline LegendCJS

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 575
  • Boston, MA
  • Liked: 7
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #72 on: 11/30/2012 01:57 AM »
As suggested before, I think the $500,000 per passenger price could be achieved with high-performance light sails acclerated and decelerated by orbital lasers. These "lightcraft" could make the trip in a matter of days / weeks regardless of launch windows.

The laser stations would have to be huge though, in the multi-GW range at least. The advantage is that these lasers could be used at all times. Chemical or solar electric rockets would be much slower and launch window constrained and thus not suitable for a reusable transportation system, which requires a high number of trips to recoup capital costs.
GW? Need much more than a Gigawatt, at least for the kind of payloads and timescales we're talking about. Terawatt, maybe?
Of course it depends on the speed and size of the craft ... and the technology used. If your optics are good enough you can utilise one photon several times by bouncing it back and forth between sail and emitter.
Whoa hold on. My alarms for perpetual energy claims are going off. How does bouncing it multiple times solve anything? One bounce won't get you anything less than 1000 bounces.
I'd assume that the frequency of the photon drops on each bounce, so that is where the energy is coming from, but I admit this is not my strong suite.
Remember: if we want this whole space thing to work out we have to optimize for cost!

Offline mlindner

  • Software Engineer
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2010
  • Space Capitalist
  • Silicon Valley, CA -- previously in Ann Arbor, MI
  • Liked: 649
  • Likes Given: 239
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #73 on: 11/30/2012 02:31 AM »
As suggested before, I think the $500,000 per passenger price could be achieved with high-performance light sails acclerated and decelerated by orbital lasers. These "lightcraft" could make the trip in a matter of days / weeks regardless of launch windows.

The laser stations would have to be huge though, in the multi-GW range at least. The advantage is that these lasers could be used at all times. Chemical or solar electric rockets would be much slower and launch window constrained and thus not suitable for a reusable transportation system, which requires a high number of trips to recoup capital costs.
GW? Need much more than a Gigawatt, at least for the kind of payloads and timescales we're talking about. Terawatt, maybe?
Of course it depends on the speed and size of the craft ... and the technology used. If your optics are good enough you can utilise one photon several times by bouncing it back and forth between sail and emitter.
Whoa hold on. My alarms for perpetual energy claims are going off. How does bouncing it multiple times solve anything? One bounce won't get you anything less than 1000 bounces.
I'd assume that the frequency of the photon drops on each bounce, so that is where the energy is coming from, but I admit this is not my strong suite.
Except that applies on the bounce to get it back to the sail too... which pushes you backward.
Internal combustion engine in space. It's just a Bad Idea.TM - Robotbeat

Offline QuantumG

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8638
  • Australia
  • Liked: 3548
  • Likes Given: 840
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #74 on: 11/30/2012 03:03 AM »
I add that the ticket price is one way, based on a line from a SpaceX employee giving a presentation (during questions afterward) that the $500k ticket price is "one way."

Nope.

Quote
The key I was trying to figure out was, with volume, is it possible to get the cost of moving to Mars down to under half a million dollars, which is I think is - no-one can argue about the exact threshold, but I think that is about the threshold which enough people would save up money and move to Mars. I mean, that's how America got created, basically. They can come back if they like, if they don't like it, of course. You get a free return ticket. There's sometimes a debate about going to Mars one-way and whether that makes things easier, and I think for the initial flights perhaps, but long term, to get the cost down, you need the spacecraft back. Whether the people come back is irrelevant, but you must have the ship back because those things are expensive. So anyone who wants to return can just jump on.

http://shitelonsays.com/index.php/transcript/elon-musk-the-future-of-energy-and-transport-2012-11-14
« Last Edit: 11/30/2012 03:04 AM by QuantumG »
I hear those things are awfully loud. It glides as softly as a cloud. What's it called? Monowhale!

Offline LegendCJS

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 575
  • Boston, MA
  • Liked: 7
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #75 on: 11/30/2012 04:46 AM »
I add that the ticket price is one way, based on a line from a SpaceX employee giving a presentation (during questions afterward) that the $500k ticket price is "one way."

Nope.

Quote
The key I was trying to figure out was, with volume, is it possible to get the cost of moving to Mars down to under half a million dollars, which is I think is - no-one can argue about the exact threshold, but I think that is about the threshold which enough people would save up money and move to Mars. I mean, that's how America got created, basically. They can come back if they like, if they don't like it, of course. You get a free return ticket. There's sometimes a debate about going to Mars one-way and whether that makes things easier, and I think for the initial flights perhaps, but long term, to get the cost down, you need the spacecraft back. Whether the people come back is irrelevant, but you must have the ship back because those things are expensive. So anyone who wants to return can just jump on.

http://shitelonsays.com/index.php/transcript/elon-musk-the-future-of-energy-and-transport-2012-11-14
We are both right.  The cost to get there: $500k.  That is the ticket price.  Nothing above says any differently.  The fully reusable bit we both mention is the explanation of why the returning trip happens anyway, so the marginal cost of a passenger on the return trip is essentially just food and water.
Remember: if we want this whole space thing to work out we have to optimize for cost!

Offline CuddlyRocket

Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #76 on: 11/30/2012 07:48 AM »
Elon is talking about establishing a colony, not a holiday resort, so the people he's thinking of transporting are colonists, not tourists. Colonist will intend to stay for life, so the aim will be to get them there as cheaply as possible, which means a six-month journey. A few months extra for the trip is irrelevant compared with the decades you expect to be living there.

Yes, it won't work out for some people who will want to come back. The free return ticket comes from the fact that they'll want the spacecraft back from Mars to reuse it, and the odd passenger is not significant (if a high proportion of people want to come back, then this would become problematic). I suspect that you may get a free return ticket, but that you won't be able to use it until you've stayed on Mars for, say, five years (with possible exceptions for medical and other emergencies).

As for the transport, I suspect that the booster and braking rockets won't make the journey! They'll detach and return to Earth (initially, later including Mars) orbit, ready to be refuelled and used for the next craft to leave or arrive. If you time it right, the booster for one flight can meet a returning craft to brake it into LEO.

Offline Elmar Moelzer

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3152
  • Liked: 581
  • Likes Given: 839
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #77 on: 11/30/2012 12:16 PM »
I think that the most important part would be to first raise the temperature and the pressure on mars. That could be done within 100 years, given enough investment (about 200 nuclear factories would be needed).

Offline DLR

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 497
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #78 on: 11/30/2012 12:45 PM »
$500,000 per trip with chemical propulsion, sounds impossible. To the Moon perhaps, but not to Mars. The problem is launch windows. If we assume a twenty-year service life for the reusable transfer vehicle, the number of round trips it could make would still be only 7 or 8 (unless it launches at conjunction AND opposition).

Imagine throwing away a Boeing 747 after eight flights!

A spacecraft which is coasting between Earth and Mars and has to loiter at Mars for more than a year doesn't make any money at that time.
« Last Edit: 11/30/2012 12:50 PM by DLR »

Offline Elmar Moelzer

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3152
  • Liked: 581
  • Likes Given: 839
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #79 on: 11/30/2012 12:48 PM »
Personally, I would be happy to see a ticket to orbit for 500k within my lifetime...
I think for actual mars colonization on a grand scale we still need a technical breakthrough. My biggest hopes for that are in nuclear fusion.

Offline mrmandias

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 507
  • US
  • Liked: 29
  • Likes Given: 34
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #80 on: 11/30/2012 01:12 PM »
$500,000 per trip with chemical propulsion, sounds impossible. To the Moon perhaps, but not to Mars. The problem is launch windows. If we assume a twenty-year service life for the reusable transfer vehicle, the number of round trips it could make would still be only 7 or 8 (unless it launches at conjunction AND opposition).

Imagine throwing away a Boeing 747 after eight flights!

A spacecraft which is coasting between Earth and Mars and has to loiter at Mars for more than a year doesn't make any money at that time.

Yes, I agree.  You're talking either extremely significant government subsidies, advanced propulsion for the HEO to HMO stage of the journey, or both.

Your idea about doing both conjunction and opposition class missions with the same vehicle is interesting, but how would it work.  Just running through it in my mind, it seems not very feasible.

Offline DLR

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 497
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #81 on: 11/30/2012 01:42 PM »
Yes, I agree.  You're talking either extremely significant government subsidies, advanced propulsion for the HEO to HMO stage of the journey, or both.

Either that, or you use Lunar transfer stages reaching the end of their engine's service lives ... a "disposal trip" to Mars. ;)



Your idea about doing both conjunction and opposition class missions with the same vehicle is interesting, but how would it work.  Just running through it in my mind, it seems not very feasible.

I couldn't find any comparison of conjunction and opposition class launch windows on the internet. Could a spacecraft on an outbound opposition-class trajectory return earlier using a conjunction-class return trajectory?

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #82 on: 11/30/2012 02:47 PM »
As suggested before, I think the $500,000 per passenger price could be achieved with high-performance light sails acclerated and decelerated by orbital lasers. These "lightcraft" could make the trip in a matter of days / weeks regardless of launch windows.

The laser stations would have to be huge though, in the multi-GW range at least. The advantage is that these lasers could be used at all times. Chemical or solar electric rockets would be much slower and launch window constrained and thus not suitable for a reusable transportation system, which requires a high number of trips to recoup capital costs.
GW? Need much more than a Gigawatt, at least for the kind of payloads and timescales we're talking about. Terawatt, maybe?
Of course it depends on the speed and size of the craft ... and the technology used. If your optics are good enough you can utilise one photon several times by bouncing it back and forth between sail and emitter.
Whoa hold on. My alarms for perpetual energy claims are going off. How does bouncing it multiple times solve anything? One bounce won't get you anything less than 1000 bounces.
Bouncing 1000 times between emitter (around Earth) and receiver (the craft). It's absolutely impractical and unworkable.

But it's not perpetual energy.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #83 on: 11/30/2012 02:48 PM »
When Elon finally divulges the details of his Mars plan you will find that the propulsion technology will involve only chemical rockets burning methane fuel, plus whatever they chose for RCS systems.  This discussion of NIAC-land concepts is off topic....
Agreed.

The Musk Mars architecture is going to be entirely chemical (with ISRU on Mars).
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #84 on: 11/30/2012 02:57 PM »
$500,000 per trip with chemical propulsion, sounds impossible. To the Moon perhaps, but not to Mars. The problem is launch windows. If we assume a twenty-year service life for the reusable transfer vehicle, the number of round trips it could make would still be only 7 or 8 (unless it launches at conjunction AND opposition).

Imagine throwing away a Boeing 747 after eight flights!

A spacecraft which is coasting between Earth and Mars and has to loiter at Mars for more than a year doesn't make any money at that time.
True, which is why I think it would make the most sense to have the transfer hab itself be very inexpensive, since it's the only part that can only be reused about a dozen times before retirement.

But you actually COULD use the same departure stage (with a very good mass fraction) multiple times per departure window, doing a quick burn to come back to Earth orbit for refueling before sending the next transfer hab to Mars.

Likewise, the habs could be braked into Mars orbit using a reusable braking stage, the same stage catching multiple habs per window, refueling in Mars orbit between each one. Then, once the habs are in Mars orbit, a refuelable lander could bring each one to the surface one at a time, allowing the lander to be reused countless times. (Lander could also do propellant-delivery duty to Mars orbit from the Martian surface in between windows).

The high-performance Earth RLVs, high mass fraction departure stages, high mass fraction braking stages, and the high-performance reusable Mars landers could all be reused hundreds of times. But the transfer habs would have to be mass-produced and at low costs.

It's also possible the transfer habs would do double duty as Mars surface habs, allowing the Mars colony to grow with each arrival of new colonists.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Online Garrett

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1108
  • France
  • Liked: 111
  • Likes Given: 77
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #85 on: 11/30/2012 04:49 PM »
$500,000 per trip with chemical propulsion, sounds impossible. To the Moon perhaps, but not to Mars. The problem is launch windows. If we assume a twenty-year service life for the reusable transfer vehicle, the number of round trips it could make would still be only 7 or 8 (unless it launches at conjunction AND opposition).

Imagine throwing away a Boeing 747 after eight flights!

A Boeing 747 carries passengers for a fraction of the cost, say $1000 on average, so about 500 times less than Musk's $500,000 figure. So a first hand-waving approximation, assuming equal passenger numbers, would be to say that 8 trips by the reusable transfer vehicle equates to 8 x 500 = 4000 trips by a Boeing 747, revenue-wise.
- "Nothing shocks me. I'm a scientist." - Indiana Jones

Offline mrmandias

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 507
  • US
  • Liked: 29
  • Likes Given: 34
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #86 on: 11/30/2012 06:55 PM »

A Boeing 747 carries passengers for a fraction of the cost, say $1000 on average, so about 500 times less than Musk's $500,000 figure. So a first hand-waving approximation, assuming equal passenger numbers, would be to say that 8 trips by the reusable transfer vehicle equates to 8 x 500 = 4000 trips by a Boeing 747, revenue-wise.
[/quote]

A bog-standard 747 is designed for about 25,000 flights in its 20 year life.  Probably most do much less than that.  Say 10,000 flights.  So unless your Mars transfer vehicle costs much less to design, build, and operate than a 747, its going to cost well north of $500k.  Remember, this is for a spacecraft that carries 500 people.

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8459
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 338
  • Likes Given: 146
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #87 on: 11/30/2012 07:19 PM »
As suggested before, I think the $500,000 per passenger price could be achieved with high-performance light sails acclerated and decelerated by orbital lasers. These "lightcraft" could make the trip in a matter of days / weeks regardless of launch windows.

The laser stations would have to be huge though, in the multi-GW range at least. The advantage is that these lasers could be used at all times. Chemical or solar electric rockets would be much slower and launch window constrained and thus not suitable for a reusable transportation system, which requires a high number of trips to recoup capital costs.
GW? Need much more than a Gigawatt, at least for the kind of payloads and timescales we're talking about. Terawatt, maybe?
Of course it depends on the speed and size of the craft ... and the technology used. If your optics are good enough you can utilise one photon several times by bouncing it back and forth between sail and emitter.
Whoa hold on. My alarms for perpetual energy claims are going off. How does bouncing it multiple times solve anything? One bounce won't get you anything less than 1000 bounces.
Bouncing 1000 times between emitter (around Earth) and receiver (the craft). It's absolutely impractical and unworkable.

But it's not perpetual energy.

What is hard about it?
Just allow for the number of dB of light energy extracted each bounce.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #88 on: 11/30/2012 07:36 PM »
As suggested before, I think the $500,000 per passenger price could be achieved with high-performance light sails acclerated and decelerated by orbital lasers. These "lightcraft" could make the trip in a matter of days / weeks regardless of launch windows.

The laser stations would have to be huge though, in the multi-GW range at least. The advantage is that these lasers could be used at all times. Chemical or solar electric rockets would be much slower and launch window constrained and thus not suitable for a reusable transportation system, which requires a high number of trips to recoup capital costs.
GW? Need much more than a Gigawatt, at least for the kind of payloads and timescales we're talking about. Terawatt, maybe?
Of course it depends on the speed and size of the craft ... and the technology used. If your optics are good enough you can utilise one photon several times by bouncing it back and forth between sail and emitter.
Whoa hold on. My alarms for perpetual energy claims are going off. How does bouncing it multiple times solve anything? One bounce won't get you anything less than 1000 bounces.
Bouncing 1000 times between emitter (around Earth) and receiver (the craft). It's absolutely impractical and unworkable.

But it's not perpetual energy.

What is hard about it?
Just allow for the number of dB of light energy extracted each bounce.
No.

This is simply a ridiculous proposal. Just because something is physically possible doesn't mean it makes any sense. Case in point, anything from this blog:

http://what-if.xkcd.com/1/
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline cordor

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 167
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #89 on: 11/30/2012 08:51 PM »
Launch cost doesn't seems to be a problem compare to 26 months earth-mars alignment and 12 months round trip. Doesn't matter how many times you can reuse 747, if you can only fly it once a year, it's still a bad business.
« Last Edit: 11/30/2012 08:56 PM by cordor »

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #90 on: 11/30/2012 10:23 PM »
Launch cost doesn't seems to be a problem compare to 26 months earth-mars alignment and 12 months round trip. Doesn't matter how many times you can reuse 747, if you can only fly it once a year, it's still a bad business.
Have to produce the transfer vehicles in bulk, like cars. The rest can be reused dozens or even hundreds of times per year.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline DLR

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 497
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #91 on: 12/01/2012 08:10 AM »

This is simply a ridiculous proposal. Just because something is physically possible doesn't mean it makes any sense.


Care to elaborate? I understand why it isn't possible when the sail is moving at relativistic velocities, but interplanetary? According to the source, the materials (dielectric films) seem to exist.

Offline CuddlyRocket

Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #92 on: 12/01/2012 08:50 AM »
Have to produce the transfer vehicles in bulk, like cars. The rest can be reused dozens or even hundreds of times per year.

When Elon was talking about this recently, he stated that he wanted the spacecraft back - this is why you could get a free return ticket!

He's very into reusability in order to reduce the cost; it seems unlikely he wouldn't aim to make the transfer vehicle reusable.

Offline DLR

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 497
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #93 on: 12/01/2012 11:18 AM »
I doubt that Musk would gain much from reusing the Mars hardware. Mars missions are going to be long. An example using Hohmann orbits:

Earth Departure: November 2026
Mars Arrival: July 2027
Mars Departure: October 2028
Earth Arrival: July 2029

Earth Departure: February 2031

... and so on ...

Loiter times between launch windows would be one and a half years at each end.  Presumably, Elon's Mars transportation system would not be making money during those periods of time.

That's why I think a Mars-only transportation system won't cut it. Mars will only be cheap using chemical rockets if there's a high traffic volume, cheap, reusable cislunar transportation system already in operation. Old cislunar "ferries" could then be dispatched to Mars once they reach the end of their service lives.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3458
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1863
  • Likes Given: 223
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #94 on: 12/01/2012 02:27 PM »
I doubt that Musk would gain much from reusing the Mars hardware. Mars missions are going to be long. An example using Hohmann orbits:

Earth Departure: November 2026
Mars Arrival: July 2027
Mars Departure: October 2028
Earth Arrival: July 2029

Earth Departure: February 2031

... and so on ...

Loiter times between launch windows would be one and a half years at each end.  Presumably, Elon's Mars transportation system would not be making money during those periods of time.

That's why I think a Mars-only transportation system won't cut it. Mars will only be cheap using chemical rockets if there's a high traffic volume, cheap, reusable cislunar transportation system already in operation. Old cislunar "ferries" could then be dispatched to Mars once they reach the end of their service lives.


If you increase your delta V budget by 1km/s beyound the minimal to do a Mars to from transfer what are the departures / arrivals assuming multiple vehicles of about 50 total vehicles?

Basiclly not limitied to 1 vehicle. Vehicle lifetimes would be closer to 30/50 years with planned upgrades and hardware replacements/ maintenance.

Offline rjholling

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 225
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #95 on: 12/01/2012 03:00 PM »
I don't think its that unfeasable.  Consider the shuttle.  How many people could you fit inside a MPLM?  Lets say you could fit 20, which I think is lowballing.  With those numbers even the space shuttle becomes more competitive in terms of launching humans into orbit than Soyuz or Dragon.  Once you really do some solid engineering on those numbers they may come out a little less, but it may absolutely be possible that a company who is daring, who is willing to accept risk, cannot make good on those numbers.  Even with present technology.

Offline cordor

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 167
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #96 on: 12/01/2012 07:31 PM »
Have to produce the transfer vehicles in bulk, like cars. The rest can be reused dozens or even hundreds of times per year.

When Elon was talking about this recently, he stated that he wanted the spacecraft back - this is why you could get a free return ticket!

He's very into reusability in order to reduce the cost; it seems unlikely he wouldn't aim to make the transfer vehicle reusable.

That's what im talking about, longer the trip, less likely 500,000 per seat cover annually interest of the investment of the spacecraft.

Lets assume Elon operates falcon rocket and mars lander like 747, the cost wil be very low. The problem is from LEO to low mars orbit. You have a 200M EDS, it needs to have a life support system for 6 months, and propulsion system, and most of the time it just drifting in space. It takes at least one year for a round trip.  500,000 per seat x 8(?) how many years it takes to cover operation cost, interest, initial investment just for that EDS?

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #97 on: 12/01/2012 11:45 PM »
Have to produce the transfer vehicles in bulk, like cars. The rest can be reused dozens or even hundreds of times per year.

When Elon was talking about this recently, he stated that he wanted the spacecraft back - this is why you could get a free return ticket!

He's very into reusability in order to reduce the cost; it seems unlikely he wouldn't aim to make the transfer vehicle reusable.

That's what im talking about, longer the trip, less likely 500,000 per seat cover annually interest of the investment of the spacecraft.

Lets assume Elon operates falcon rocket and mars lander like 747, the cost wil be very low. The problem is from LEO to low mars orbit. You have a 200M EDS, it needs to have a life support system for 6 months, and propulsion system, and most of the time it just drifting in space. It takes at least one year for a round trip.  500,000 per seat x 8(?) how many years it takes to cover operation cost, interest, initial investment just for that EDS?
No reason the EDS has to go to Mars. It can be used multiple times per window, do the eds burn, release payload, and you're still very close to the Earth so do a quick retro burn and go back to refuel and pick another payload up. Same thing can be done for braking in Mars orbit but in reverse with stages stationed at Mars. Only the transfer vehicle can't be reused multiple times per window, but it only needs rudimentary ACS and almost open loop ECLSS.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline cordor

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 167
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #98 on: 12/02/2012 03:42 AM »
Have to produce the transfer vehicles in bulk, like cars. The rest can be reused dozens or even hundreds of times per year.

When Elon was talking about this recently, he stated that he wanted the spacecraft back - this is why you could get a free return ticket!

He's very into reusability in order to reduce the cost; it seems unlikely he wouldn't aim to make the transfer vehicle reusable.

That's what im talking about, longer the trip, less likely 500,000 per seat cover annually interest of the investment of the spacecraft.

Lets assume Elon operates falcon rocket and mars lander like 747, the cost wil be very low. The problem is from LEO to low mars orbit. You have a 200M EDS, it needs to have a life support system for 6 months, and propulsion system, and most of the time it just drifting in space. It takes at least one year for a round trip.  500,000 per seat x 8(?) how many years it takes to cover operation cost, interest, initial investment just for that EDS?
No reason the EDS has to go to Mars. It can be used multiple times per window, do the eds burn, release payload, and you're still very close to the Earth so do a quick retro burn and go back to refuel and pick another payload up. Same thing can be done for braking in Mars orbit but in reverse with stages stationed at Mars. Only the transfer vehicle can't be reused multiple times per window, but it only needs rudimentary ACS and almost open loop ECLSS.

I was thinking railgun on moons and direct insertion with super sized inflatable heat shield.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #99 on: 12/02/2012 07:02 AM »
That is exotic and requires a lot of infrastructure. What I outlined is current tech and just requires a minimum level of infrastructure.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Elmar Moelzer

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3152
  • Liked: 581
  • Likes Given: 839
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #100 on: 12/02/2012 02:15 PM »
Quote
No reason the EDS has to go to Mars. It can be used multiple times per window, do the eds burn, release payload, and you're still very close to the Earth so do a quick retro burn and go back to refuel and pick another payload up. Same thing can be done for braking in Mars orbit but in reverse with stages stationed at Mars.
I was pondering the same possibility. I think it could work if you have a high thrust engine on the EDS.

Offline joek

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2931
  • Liked: 691
  • Likes Given: 368
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #101 on: 12/02/2012 08:10 PM »
Sounds like you might be getting close to wanting a cyler for the MTV?  Some tantalizing possibilities described in Analysis of a Broad Class of Earth-Mars Cycler Trajectories, McConaghy et. al., 2002;  Other related papers available on Troy McConaghy's site.

I haven't seen a trade study or dV rendezvous requirements for such cyclers.  If anyone has some insight into those areas or knows of more recent work, pointers would be appreciated.  Thanks.

Offline DLR

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 497
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #102 on: 12/04/2012 08:35 AM »
I'm not going to hold my breath for Musk to come up with a viable Mars transportation system. In a recent interview he claimed that nuclear thermal rockets could reach 1/10th the speed of light!

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21628930.300-elon-musk-mars-base-will-open-the-way-to-other-stars.html

Online LucR

  • Member
  • Posts: 54
  • Liked: 15
  • Likes Given: 42
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #103 on: 12/04/2012 09:31 AM »
Quote from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstellar_travel
Fusion rocket starships, powered by nuclear fusion reactions, should conceivably be able to reach speeds of the order of 10% of that of light, based on energy considerations alone.

Of course, it's wikipedia...


Offline DLR

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 497
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #104 on: 12/04/2012 10:48 AM »
Maybe they misquoted him, but it does say nuclear thermal rocket. A solid-core nuclear thermal rocket has a maximum ISP of 1000s, a gas-core NTR could conceivably reach 2000s-4000s.

Offline go4mars

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3747
  • Earth
  • Liked: 147
  • Likes Given: 3073
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #105 on: 12/04/2012 12:27 PM »
Project Orion was exothermic and nuclear.  Maybe that's what he was referring to.  Not really relevant to this thread IMO.
« Last Edit: 12/04/2012 12:28 PM by go4mars »
Elasmotherium; hurlyburly Doggerlandic Jentilak steeds insouciantly gallop in viridescent taiga, eluding deluginal Burckle's abyssal excavation.

Offline ClaytonBirchenough

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 777
  • ~ 1 AU
    • LinkedIn
  • Liked: 34
  • Likes Given: 348
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #106 on: 04/08/2013 02:23 AM »
Seen many people quote Elon on this, just found the thread. I love Elon, but $500,000 to move to Mars? No. Maybe a company will let you go if you give them $500,000 to move to Mars and then work the rest of your life for the company it may "cost" $500,000. Besides that, there are no reasonable explanations for such a statement. Elon said he believed $500 to LEO was possible, so that comes to 1000 pounds in LEO for a human to move to Mars, with most of that 1000 pounds being fuel. $500,000 to move to Mars = impossible for probably 200 years IMO.
Clayton Birchenough
Astro. Engineer and Computational Mathematics @ ERAU

Online meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8484
  • N. California
  • Liked: 4682
  • Likes Given: 884
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #107 on: 04/08/2013 02:30 AM »
That number was indeed a bit of a surprise, I don't know what the logic behind it is.

Also, I don't believe there will ever be a "great Earth exodus".  The more people are on Mars, the faster natural population growth becomes...  And since total population growth will be resource limited, at some point it will be "don't send us any more people thank you very much".
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #108 on: 04/08/2013 02:53 AM »
I don't think he sees $500/lb IMLEO as a minimum possible figure. Remember, he already thinks that the current expendable SpaceX launch vehicles can do ~$1000-2000 per pound to LEO for /cost/ (not price...). He thinks reusable can reduce that by an order of magnitude for ~$100-200/pound to LEO.

And SpaceX supposedly has plans for a bigger, methane/LOx reusable launch vehicle (or system? called MCT?) which would presumably be a further improvement (larger scale, simpler operations, better reuse, cheaper fuel).

This is all pie in the sky, but I'm pretty sure he's assuming he can get the cost to LEO down to around $100/kg ($50/lb) to LEO in the very long-term (perhaps with further improvements).

Personally, I think even if transport to LEO was FREE, you'd have to have an incredibly clever system to get the cost down to just $500,000 per person, but remember also he's talking about tens of thousands of people /per year/ traveling to Mars, so over a million people over the course of a couple decades. His $500,000 per person figure is a minimum figure, definitely not a maximum. And in my opinion, the biggest over-optimism isn't the idea he can get launch costs at very high volume down to $50/kg using very large scale and high reuse, but that there's a million Mars colonists waiting in the wings with cash to spend on it...
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline QuantumG

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8638
  • Australia
  • Liked: 3548
  • Likes Given: 840
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #109 on: 04/08/2013 03:06 AM »
Methane.
I hear those things are awfully loud. It glides as softly as a cloud. What's it called? Monowhale!

Offline HMXHMX

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1462
  • Liked: 1121
  • Likes Given: 319
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #110 on: 04/08/2013 03:31 AM »
I don't think he sees $500/lb IMLEO as a minimum possible figure. Remember, he already thinks that the current expendable SpaceX launch vehicles can do ~$1000-2000 per pound to LEO for /cost/ (not price...). He thinks reusable can reduce that by an order of magnitude for ~$100-200/pound to LEO.

I doubt Musk thinks $100/lb to LEO is possible. He's previously been quoted (several years ago) as pointing out that the propellant cost alone of the Falcon is $50/lb of payload delivered to LEO, and that the mature airline industry operates at around three times the propellant cost. So he saw $150/lb as an eventual lower limit for chemical propulsion (and more than that now, since the cost of fuel has risen considerably in the last few years).

http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/09/tech/innovation/elon-musk-sxsw

During a question-and-answer session with "3D Robotics" editor-in-chief Chris Anderson, Musk said that affordable commercial space travel will never be possible with the current model, which relies on single-use booster rockets.

"Every mode of transportation we're used to ... they're all reusable, but not rockets," Musk said. "If we can't make rockets reusable, the cost is just prohibitive."

He said a reusable rocket could make space launches 100 times cheaper. The price of fuel, oxygen and the like for a launch currently amounts to just a fraction of 1% of its overall cost, he said.


100x cheaper than a $50-60M F9 is well below $100/lb. So he said it, but it is not clear if he can deliver it.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #111 on: 04/08/2013 03:36 AM »
I don't think he sees $500/lb IMLEO as a minimum possible figure. Remember, he already thinks that the current expendable SpaceX launch vehicles can do ~$1000-2000 per pound to LEO for /cost/ (not price...). He thinks reusable can reduce that by an order of magnitude for ~$100-200/pound to LEO.

I doubt Musk thinks $100/lb to LEO is possible. He's previously been quoted (several years ago) as pointing out that the propellant cost alone of the Falcon is $50/lb of payload delivered to LEO, and that the mature airline industry operates at around three times the propellant cost. So he saw $150/lb as an eventual lower limit for chemical propulsion (and more than that now, since the cost of fuel has risen considerably in the last few years).
Exactly why I referred to "Methane."

In lieu of comparing RP-1 to methane, I'll compare Oil to natural gas. Oil is currently about 4 times more expensive than natural gas per unit energy (i.e. per btu, per Joule, etc).

And yes, I do think Musk is counting on a reduction in cost due to using methane.

He's trained in physics. He is bounding the solution space, no one should take that as a realistic estimate of the actual cost but the minimum cost he thinks is possible.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline R7

  • Propulsophile
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2738
    • Don't worry.. we can still be fans of OSC and SNC
  • Liked: 950
  • Likes Given: 662
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #112 on: 04/08/2013 08:17 AM »
Personally, I think even if transport to LEO was FREE, you'd have to have an incredibly clever system to get the cost down to just $500,000 per person

And even if you somehow manage that, then what? The colony infrastructure appears from thin Martian atmosphere, for free?
AD·ASTRA·ASTRORVM·GRATIA

Offline IRobot

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1280
  • Portugal & Germany
  • Liked: 277
  • Likes Given: 248
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #113 on: 04/08/2013 09:39 AM »
Personally, I think even if transport to LEO was FREE, you'd have to have an incredibly clever system to get the cost down to just $500,000 per person, but remember also he's talking about tens of thousands of people /per year/ traveling to Mars, so over a million people over the course of a couple decades. His $500,000 per person figure is a minimum figure, definitely not a maximum. And in my opinion, the biggest over-optimism isn't the idea he can get launch costs at very high volume down to $50/kg using very large scale and high reuse, but that there's a million Mars colonists waiting in the wings with cash to spend on it...
Maybe his $500.000 ticket is a LEO-Mars ticket... If you think of a two layer transport system, Earth-LEO + LEO-Mars) with two different vehicles, the price could just be to the second vehicle...

Offline CuddlyRocket

Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #114 on: 04/08/2013 12:00 PM »
And even if you somehow manage that, then what? The colony infrastructure appears from thin Martian atmosphere, for free?

$500,000 is just for the transportation to Mars. Presumably you'll also need to consider how much you'll need to pay for immediate necessities etc once you get there!
« Last Edit: 04/08/2013 12:00 PM by CuddlyRocket »

Online Garrett

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1108
  • France
  • Liked: 111
  • Likes Given: 77
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #115 on: 04/08/2013 12:01 PM »
He's previously been quoted (several years ago) as pointing out that the propellant cost alone of the Falcon is $50/lb of payload delivered to LEO
Where did you get that?
He is also quoted as saying that "the cost of reloading propellant on Falcon 9 is about $200,000".
(http://shitelonsays.com/transcript/elon-musk-the-future-of-energy-and-transport-2012-11-14)
Falcon 9 v1.1 can put 29,000 pounds to LEO. That works out as a propellant fuel cost of $7/lb of payload to LEO.
For GTO, the cost is about $19/lb.
- "Nothing shocks me. I'm a scientist." - Indiana Jones

Offline go4mars

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3747
  • Earth
  • Liked: 147
  • Likes Given: 3073
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #116 on: 04/08/2013 01:43 PM »
And even if you somehow manage that, then what? The colony infrastructure appears from thin Martian atmosphere, for free?
You may be closer than you think.  Yes, 3D printing from large atmosphere derived plastics is one possible solution that someone will do.  Though I suspect solar sintering, and smelting will be more common. 
No need to limit the future. 
Elasmotherium; hurlyburly Doggerlandic Jentilak steeds insouciantly gallop in viridescent taiga, eluding deluginal Burckle's abyssal excavation.

Offline deltaV

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1538
  • Change in velocity
  • Liked: 165
  • Likes Given: 480
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #117 on: 04/08/2013 04:40 PM »
He's trained in physics. He is bounding the solution space, no one should take that as a realistic estimate of the actual cost but the minimum cost he thinks is possible.

Once the cost of space launch drops to a small multiple of the cost of fuel it will make sense to try optimizing designs for minimum fuel consumption. Little tweaks like operating less fuel-rich than usual and increasing nozzle area ratio should help a bit. An airbreathing first stage can presumably cut fuel consumption more dramatically (say by half). Improvements in fuel efficiency over rockets is limited to a small multiple because the energy initially in the fuel cannot be less than the desired kinetic energy of the payload. To improve fuel efficiency beyond this conservation of energy limit one would need to change the rules, e.g. by recovering the energy of reentering payloads, e.g. using rotating momentum exchange tethers.

These issues are unimportant to the present discussion however as Musk's Mars travel cost goal is likely achievable using LOX/RP1 rockets without any propellant cost optimization. Let's suppose the deep space habs are left in cycler orbits with capsules taking passengers from Earth to the cycler hab and from the cycler hab to Mars. If 15,000 lbs of capsule and supplies (e.g. food) is required per passenger the propellant required to launch that costs only $100k.
« Last Edit: 04/08/2013 04:42 PM by deltaV »

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3458
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1863
  • Likes Given: 223
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #118 on: 04/08/2013 05:04 PM »
I created these two graphs to give a visual representation of what SpaceX seems to be trying to do when it comes to costs/prices.

The first graph shows the new vehicle vs the previous vehicle relative improvement and also the total improvement of the new vehicle vs their first F9 v.10 vehicle.

The second graph shows what this improvement is in LEO rates of $/kg or $/lb.

Note that the vehicle to vehicle improvement is at most about a factor of 2 which is significant but mostly less than factor of 2. After a large number of vehicles this becomes quite a lot of price improvement.


Edit: Error in the first graph  on the vehicle to vehicle point for the MCTR single core
« Last Edit: 04/08/2013 05:28 PM by oldAtlas_Eguy »

Offline mrmandias

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 507
  • US
  • Liked: 29
  • Likes Given: 34
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #119 on: 04/08/2013 09:23 PM »
I see three ways this could just barely work using an all-chemical architecture.

1.  My suggestion that you assume that the development costs are already paid for using government subsidies and other customers.  Maybe capital costs too (through subsidized loans?)  So the $500k per person figure represents the marginal costs only, which in this case would be the cost of manufacture and the cost of operation.

2.  DLR's idea that the transfer habs are old lunar cycler vehicles being sent to Mars as their retirement trip, so that at least this leg of the trip is "free."  What this means is that for this leg of the trip, the $500k would only have to finance the operational costs of the trip.  Even the manufacturing costs would already be paid for.  DLR's idea doesn't have to be limited to lunar cycler habs either.  A vehicle that consisted of an upper-stage combined with a crew area, like some speculate the MCV will be, could also fit the bill.  The key would be that the vehicle has an 'ordinary' use that pays for its construction, but is capable of long-term life support, or of very cheaply being retrofitted to provide long-term life-support.  In a world where you had a number of LEO space stations (Bigelow habs, for example), you could even imagine that the transfer hab was an old Bigelow hab ready to be retired from the space hotel business or whatever.

3.  Robotbeat's suggestion that the transfer hab itself be extremely minimalist with separate craft supplying the TMI burn and the Mars orbital insertion burn.  The idea is that since the transfer hab isn't very reusable, if at all, make it as cheap as possible and offload as many functions as possible to vehicles that can be reused much more frequently.

You could probably combine some of these three suggestions.  And they all assume a healthy and very active cislunar space economy.

----
One aside.  I've been thinking about what would attract people to pay even $500k for a one-way trip to Mars.  If I had the money I'd go, but I don't have that kind of money laying around and probably won't until close to retirement.  Plus I'm a nutty space enthusiast, which makes me rare.  And a population of retiree space enthusiasts doesn't seem like the right demographic profile for a settlement to become self-sustaining.

What does a Mars settlement have to offer that would appeal to a wider audience, especially of upper class or upper-middle class people (i.e., the kind of people who could shell out $500k if needed, or at least finance it)?  Well, there is one thing.  Mars would be the ultimate gated community or elite institution.

There is considerable evidence that parents are already willing to pay lots of money to move into 'nice' neighborhoods.  There is overwhelming evidence that there is a big 'nice school' premium for suburban housing that causes a significant percentage mark-up in housing prices.  There is overwhelming evidence that there is a substantial market of parents willing to pay tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to get their kids into elite private schools.  There is also overwhelming evidence that parents are willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get their kids into and through Ivy league schools.  But what are parents paying for when they pay for 'nice schools' and Ivy leagues--are they paying for quality of education?  Probably not.  The evidence is that these institutions don't make a huge difference in education quality.  They churn out very good graduates mostly because they get very good incoming students.  And parents don't actually seem to bother too much about the actual educational content of the institutions.  The Ivies, for example, are generally credited with trying not to be too hard on their students.  So what parents are paying for is a nice, exclusive environment for their kids where they'll make friends who are serious and intelligent and healthy and eventually settle down and marry one of them too.

Mars is the ultimate way of doing this.   Mars settlement will be a high-status elite occupation for a long, long time.  It is the ultimate way of protecting your kids from 'undesirables' where economics and physics raise massive barriers to entry that no gated community and no college can hope to rival.

I could easily see my wife and I sacrificing, working extra hours, taking out the loans, to send one of our girls to Mars, much more so than to send ourselves.

If (monumental if) Musk's Mars plans ever actualize, I would expect a lot of advertising that hinted at this motive, talking about a community of wonderful, like-minded people, a safe environment, etc.

Offline go4mars

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3747
  • Earth
  • Liked: 147
  • Likes Given: 3073
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #120 on: 04/08/2013 11:50 PM »
Interesting motive.  And strengthened by the fact that each ticket comes with a return option.  I'll be an old crusty by the time I'll be able to go, and I'm a geologist, and I seem to accept risk and discomfort in my life more than most.  I'd likely stay.  But if I liked it, maybe I'd give my grand kids the option of doing university over on my planet.  Interesting thought you bring up.
Elasmotherium; hurlyburly Doggerlandic Jentilak steeds insouciantly gallop in viridescent taiga, eluding deluginal Burckle's abyssal excavation.

Offline ClaytonBirchenough

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 777
  • ~ 1 AU
    • LinkedIn
  • Liked: 34
  • Likes Given: 348
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #121 on: 04/09/2013 12:23 AM »
So the consensus is $500,000 to go to Mars in near future (AT LEAST 50 years) is a ridiculous statement?
Clayton Birchenough
Astro. Engineer and Computational Mathematics @ ERAU

Offline ClaytonBirchenough

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 777
  • ~ 1 AU
    • LinkedIn
  • Liked: 34
  • Likes Given: 348
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #122 on: 04/09/2013 01:34 AM »
So the consensus is $500,000 to go to Mars in near future (AT LEAST 50 years) is a ridiculous statement?

I'd happily join such a consensus.

I think Musk will be doing quite well if he manages to get the pricetag of a Mars trip within the means of someone with his *own* level of wealth in his lifetime.

If he can get a man on Mars, that would be an incredible feat on its own.

Now, I pose another question; What makes us believe other statements about costs to orbit, MCT, etc., if he makes such a ridiculous statement that $500,000 could be the price tag for a human to go to Mars? I admit, I believe a lot that Musk says, and he's an extremely smart man and has achieved huge accomplishments in space, but does a statement like this make his other claims/statements null and void? Where they just numbers/ideas that were thrown out there with no basis/truth?
Clayton Birchenough
Astro. Engineer and Computational Mathematics @ ERAU

Offline Elmar Moelzer

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3152
  • Liked: 581
  • Likes Given: 839
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #123 on: 04/09/2013 01:45 AM »
I think (and I might remember it wrongly, or he said something different another time), but I think that he meant that the cost for a ticket to mars has to be in the order of 500,000 USD, for a mars colonization project to work. Otherwise not enough people would go. This is why he thinks that he has to get the cost down that far. That does not mean that the knows for sure he can do it.

Offline ClaytonBirchenough

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 777
  • ~ 1 AU
    • LinkedIn
  • Liked: 34
  • Likes Given: 348
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #124 on: 04/09/2013 02:28 AM »
So we're looking at what? +100 years easily until Mars colonization is feasible? Hmmm... I'd like to think Mars colonization would be feasible long before a ticket to Mars costs $500,000.
Clayton Birchenough
Astro. Engineer and Computational Mathematics @ ERAU

Offline mrmandias

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 507
  • US
  • Liked: 29
  • Likes Given: 34
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #125 on: 04/09/2013 02:37 AM »
So the consensus is $500,000 to go to Mars in near future (AT LEAST 50 years) is a ridiculous statement?

No.  I think the consensus is that $500k may be a theoretical possibility given a bunch of assumptions that all have to fall into place and probably won't (e.g., significant demand for cislunar access, very low costs to LEO, high demand for Mars tickets, government subsidies,, etc.).  If Musk were repeatedly going around guaranteeing $500k as a surefire ticket price, that would be one thing, but I don't think that's the case.

That said, Musk is an optimist and a booster and he talks a lot (which is good), so while SpaceX kremlinology is fun, I don't think anybody needs to take his every utterance as the Word.

Offline go4mars

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3747
  • Earth
  • Liked: 147
  • Likes Given: 3073
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #126 on: 04/09/2013 02:43 AM »
does a statement like this make his other claims/statements null and void?
Of course not.  That's not logical.  Halcyon didn't turn into a multi-billion dollar business.  Doesn't mean Tesla and SpaceX are intractably infeasible.  (Also doesn't mean he'll get ticket prices to an inflation adjusted 500k, but then again, he might)

So we're looking at what? +100 years easily until Mars colonization is feasible?
What did your great grandad think about today's tech 100 years ago?         

Grab a copy of this: http://www.diamandis.com/abundance/
If you're still feeling outrageously pessimistic after that, I'll be happy to re-engage on this topic. 
« Last Edit: 04/09/2013 02:45 AM by go4mars »
Elasmotherium; hurlyburly Doggerlandic Jentilak steeds insouciantly gallop in viridescent taiga, eluding deluginal Burckle's abyssal excavation.

Offline R7

  • Propulsophile
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2738
    • Don't worry.. we can still be fans of OSC and SNC
  • Liked: 950
  • Likes Given: 662
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #127 on: 04/09/2013 07:04 AM »
So the consensus is $500,000 to go to Mars in near future (AT LEAST 50 years) is a ridiculous statement?

Merely Cerebral Toot
AD·ASTRA·ASTRORVM·GRATIA

Online Garrett

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1108
  • France
  • Liked: 111
  • Likes Given: 77
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #128 on: 04/09/2013 08:38 AM »
I think (and I might remember it wrongly, or he said something different another time), but I think that he meant that the cost for a ticket to mars has to be in the order of 500,000 USD, for a mars colonization project to work. Otherwise not enough people would go. This is why he thinks that he has to get the cost down that far. That does not mean that the knows for sure he can do it.

I do recall that as well.
That's exactly how he put it.
Glad that some people here actually remember what the $500,000 figure is all about.
- "Nothing shocks me. I'm a scientist." - Indiana Jones

Online Garrett

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1108
  • France
  • Liked: 111
  • Likes Given: 77
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #129 on: 04/09/2013 09:02 AM »
Plus I'm a nutty space enthusiast, which makes me rare.  And a population of retiree space enthusiasts doesn't seem like the right demographic profile for a settlement to become self-sustaining.
Rare, but not 1 in 100,000 rare.
That's the figure Musk used to calculate the number of possible settlers: world population (8 billion) divided by 100,000 = 80,000 people.
(that's 80,000 people per year by the way)

Personally, I think the better calculation would be:
(world population with net worth above $500,000) / (some number) = 80,000

I'd probably plug in the following figures: (8 billion / 100) / 1000 = 80,000
So with my magical numbers, Musk's plan would require 1 in 1000 people to consider moving to Mars if he hopes to maintain his figure of 80,000 settlers per year.
- "Nothing shocks me. I'm a scientist." - Indiana Jones

Offline R7

  • Propulsophile
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2738
    • Don't worry.. we can still be fans of OSC and SNC
  • Liked: 950
  • Likes Given: 662
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #130 on: 04/09/2013 12:25 PM »
Personally, I think the better calculation would be:
(world population with net worth above $500,000) / (some number) = 80,000

Way above $500,000. One has to buy accommodations on Mars too, probably wanting to have some net worth left even after that. About ten million high-net-worth individuals in the world ($1M or more). Ultra-high-net-worth individuals ($50M or more) number in ~80,000.

The conundrum is that high net-worth denotes good life. I reckon people with mansions,sports cars and stuff are less inclined to leave it all behind for a dangerous adventure in a cramped tin can on a sand planet than people with much less to loose.
AD·ASTRA·ASTRORVM·GRATIA

Offline mrmandias

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 507
  • US
  • Liked: 29
  • Likes Given: 34
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #131 on: 04/09/2013 03:09 PM »
Personally, I think the better calculation would be:
(world population with net worth above $500,000) / (some number) = 80,000

Way above $500,000. One has to buy accommodations on Mars too, probably wanting to have some net worth left even after that. About ten million high-net-worth individuals in the world ($1M or more). Ultra-high-net-worth individuals ($50M or more) number in ~80,000.

The conundrum is that high net-worth denotes good life. I reckon people with mansions,sports cars and stuff are less inclined to leave it all behind for a dangerous adventure in a cramped tin can on a sand planet than people with much less to loose.

At least at first, you'd think that most people on Mars would be there because they belonged to an institution that paid their way there.  Private net worth is an insufficent metric.  Additionally, there are quite a few upper-middle class families that could probably afford a million-dollar loan without necessarily having a net worth of $1 million.  They'd either have to be capable of making a high salary on Mars, though, or else be sending someone other than themselves, perhaps their kids like I speculated above.

Online Garrett

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1108
  • France
  • Liked: 111
  • Likes Given: 77
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #132 on: 04/09/2013 03:58 PM »
Personally, I think the better calculation would be:
(world population with net worth above $500,000) / (some number) = 80,000
Way above $500,000. One has to buy accommodations on Mars too, probably wanting to have some net worth left even after that. About ten million high-net-worth individuals in the world ($1M or more). Ultra-high-net-worth individuals ($50M or more) number in ~80,000.
I don't think you've quite understood the $500k figure. That's the entire cost (transport + initial installation) Elon thinks would encourage 1 in 100,000 of the world population to choose Mars. I think one can find a quote where he says that it should be possible to aim for that figure 10 years after the initial private/government funded colonies. Say, in the 2040-2050 timeframe if colonies could start by 2030.
By the way, once on Mars, the settlers should have the possibility of working to earn their way. It's not meant to be fun and games. In fact, you'd want to be quite tough skinned to get through the early teething problems (power outages, food shortages, land quarrels, building of a democracy, etc.)
Quote
The conundrum is that high net-worth denotes good life. I reckon people with mansions,sports cars and stuff are less inclined to leave it all behind for a dangerous adventure in a cramped tin can on a sand planet than people with much less to loose.
Yes, but you don't need to attract all of them. About 0.1 % would be sufficient. Similar to the way a small percentage of high-net-worth individuals are prepared to endure harsh conditions to climb Mt. Everest, sail around the world, etc.
- "Nothing shocks me. I'm a scientist." - Indiana Jones

Offline QuantumG

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8638
  • Australia
  • Liked: 3548
  • Likes Given: 840
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #133 on: 04/09/2013 10:39 PM »
If there's thousands of people going to Mars every year, the biggest industry on Mars will be real estate development. A lot of people are going to need somewhere to live, and while plenty will be coming with the idea of the Mars equivalent of living in a tent, some will want to start with a water well already built or the electricity already connected.
I hear those things are awfully loud. It glides as softly as a cloud. What's it called? Monowhale!

Offline llanitedave

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2153
  • Nevada Desert
  • Liked: 1331
  • Likes Given: 1561
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #134 on: 04/10/2013 03:36 AM »
Water well?  It'll be permafrost all the way down, or at the very least a saturated brine.
"I've just abducted an alien -- now what?"

Offline QuantumG

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8638
  • Australia
  • Liked: 3548
  • Likes Given: 840
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #135 on: 04/10/2013 04:24 AM »
Water well?  It'll be permafrost all the way down, or at the very least a saturated brine.

and? I was assuming it'd be useful for oxygen production. A ready source of salt too? Great.


I hear those things are awfully loud. It glides as softly as a cloud. What's it called? Monowhale!

Offline llanitedave

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2153
  • Nevada Desert
  • Liked: 1331
  • Likes Given: 1561
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #136 on: 04/10/2013 04:34 AM »
Water well?  It'll be permafrost all the way down, or at the very least a saturated brine.

and? I was assuming it'd be useful for oxygen production. A ready source of salt too? Great.




If it's solid ice, there won't be a well.  More likely a mine or a quarry.  And from what we've seen from the MERs, there 'll be plenty of salts at the surface.
"I've just abducted an alien -- now what?"

Offline QuantumG

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8638
  • Australia
  • Liked: 3548
  • Likes Given: 840
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #137 on: 04/10/2013 04:45 AM »
If it's solid ice, there won't be a well.  More likely a mine or a quarry.

Whatever you want to call it. I don't really care. Presumably you'll want to melt the ice to use it, so pumping the resulting water from where the ice is makes more sense to me than trucking ice out to homesteads.

Whether or not piping water from a centralized "water utility" makes more sense than local production is also entirely irrelevant to the idea that maybe  developing land is primarily what settlers will be doing and that their customers will mostly be other settlers fresh off the boat from Earth.

I wasn't attempting to pre-plan the lives of people who probably haven't even been born yet (despite what Elon seems to think), I just see a likely business there.
I hear those things are awfully loud. It glides as softly as a cloud. What's it called? Monowhale!

Offline llanitedave

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2153
  • Nevada Desert
  • Liked: 1331
  • Likes Given: 1561
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #138 on: 04/10/2013 07:07 AM »
Much as I admire Musk, and I do, and much as I wish for him and Space X a smashing success, I think he's simply wrong about any commercial potential for Mars.  The asteroid and comet guys are going to eat his lunch, because that's where the money is in the long run.

I think he's wrong about Mars as the second home for a multi-planet species as well, because human survival isn't going to be enhanced that much simply by adding one more vulnerable gravity well to the list of places that need protecting.

It's fine with me, though, because the infrastructure that Space X is developing will work just as well for the asteroid mining ventures that have a better chance of success.
"I've just abducted an alien -- now what?"

Offline mlindner

  • Software Engineer
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2010
  • Space Capitalist
  • Silicon Valley, CA -- previously in Ann Arbor, MI
  • Liked: 649
  • Likes Given: 239
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #139 on: 04/10/2013 07:32 AM »
Much as I admire Musk, and I do, and much as I wish for him and Space X a smashing success, I think he's simply wrong about any commercial potential for Mars.  The asteroid and comet guys are going to eat his lunch, because that's where the money is in the long run.

I think he's wrong about Mars as the second home for a multi-planet species as well, because human survival isn't going to be enhanced that much simply by adding one more vulnerable gravity well to the list of places that need protecting.

It's fine with me, though, because the infrastructure that Space X is developing will work just as well for the asteroid mining ventures that have a better chance of success.

I'd hop at the chance of $500,000 to go to Mars, especially if I could have any kind of reason to believe I'd survive doing it. It's only a couple years of saving for someone who's single with a six figure salary (not that I have one).
Internal combustion engine in space. It's just a Bad Idea.TM - Robotbeat

Online Garrett

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1108
  • France
  • Liked: 111
  • Likes Given: 77
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #140 on: 04/10/2013 10:04 AM »
Much as I admire Musk, and I do, and much as I wish for him and Space X a smashing success, I think he's simply wrong about any commercial potential for Mars.  The asteroid and comet guys are going to eat his lunch, because that's where the money is in the long run.
Asteroids/Comets and Mars = Apples and Oranges.
And Musk isn't doing this for the money.

Quote
I think he's wrong about Mars as the second home for a multi-planet species as well, because human survival isn't going to be enhanced that much simply by adding one more vulnerable gravity well to the list of places that need protecting.
He would agree with you. But you got to start somewhere.

Quote
It's fine with me, though, because the infrastructure that Space X is developing will work just as well for the asteroid mining ventures that have a better chance of success.
There's some overlap, but they're still two very different ballgames.
The notion of "success" is extremely different in both cases. One is about raw material exploitation, the other is planetary colonization. I think both have a chance of success (and a chance of failure), but am incapable of suggesting which is better positioned.
In any case, I wish both ventures every chance of success.
- "Nothing shocks me. I'm a scientist." - Indiana Jones

Online FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6437
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 6090
  • Likes Given: 1788
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #141 on: 04/10/2013 10:08 AM »
Just re-read the BBC report from 20 Mar 2012 on Elon's $500,000 claim: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17439490. A couple of interesting quotes:

Quote
Rocket entrepreneur Elon Musk believes he can get the cost of a round trip to Mars down to about half a million dollars.

The SpaceX CEO says he has finally worked out how to do it, and told the BBC he would reveal further details later this year or early in 2013. [...]

Quote
He conceded the figure was unlikely to be the opening price - rather, the cost of a ticket on a mature system that had been operating for about a decade. Nonetheless, Musk thought such an offering could be introduced in 10 years at best, and 15 at worst.

Apparently Elon said this on the following radio programme http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01dhrmj (but I haven't listened to it yet!)

EDIT: SpaceX segment starts at about 16:50 mins into the programme; Elon at 18:22.
« Last Edit: 04/10/2013 10:19 AM by FutureSpaceTourist »

Online meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8484
  • N. California
  • Liked: 4682
  • Likes Given: 884
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #142 on: 04/10/2013 02:44 PM »
I think he's wrong about Mars as the second home for a multi-planet species as well, because human survival isn't going to be enhanced that much simply by adding one more vulnerable gravity well to the list of places that need protecting.
In the very very long run, yes.  But we should start with "Earth like" places.

A good second target, btw, is Ceres.  Some very interesting properties, nothing like a "regular" asteroid.
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Offline Borklund

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 560
  • Sweden
  • Liked: 395
  • Likes Given: 140
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #143 on: 04/10/2013 02:54 PM »
I think he's wrong about Mars as the second home for a multi-planet species as well, because human survival isn't going to be enhanced that much simply by adding one more vulnerable gravity well to the list of places that need protecting.
In the very very long run, yes.  But we should start with "Earth like" places.

A good second target, btw, is Ceres.  Some very interesting properties, nothing like a "regular" asteroid.
Would you care to elaborate on why Ceres would be a good second target? It seems counter-intuitive for the same reasons as choosing Mars over the Moon and we don't know a lot about Ceres compared to other bodies.
« Last Edit: 04/10/2013 02:55 PM by Borklund »

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #144 on: 04/10/2013 02:56 PM »
I think he's wrong about Mars as the second home for a multi-planet species as well, because human survival isn't going to be enhanced that much simply by adding one more vulnerable gravity well to the list of places that need protecting.
In the very very long run, yes.  But we should start with "Earth like" places.

A good second target, btw, is Ceres.  Some very interesting properties, nothing like a "regular" asteroid.
Would you care to elaborate on why Ceres would be a good second target? It seems counter-intuitive for the same reasons as choosing Mars over the Moon and we don't know a lot about Ceres compared to other bodies.
Possible liquid ocean ranks near the top.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Online meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8484
  • N. California
  • Liked: 4682
  • Likes Given: 884
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #145 on: 04/10/2013 02:57 PM »
Borklund:
a) We should take this somewhere else, and
b) I think we have to work on the Mars-moon issue first...
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Offline sheltonjr

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 148
  • Liked: 63
  • Likes Given: 37
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #146 on: 04/10/2013 03:59 PM »
I also think Ceres could be very exciting. Maybe easy access to water but a LONG way away.

When the Dawn spacecraft arrives in February 2015, It will get very interesting.

Quote
The Cererian surface is probably a mixture of water ice and various hydrated minerals such as carbonates and clays. It appears to be differentiated into a rocky core and icy mantle, and may harbour an ocean of liquid water under its surface. From Earth, the apparent magnitude of Ceres ranges from 6.7 to 9.3, and hence even at its brightest it is still too dim to be seen with the naked eye except under extremely dark skies.

If it has the water we think it does, It will be the Fuel/Propellent/Oxygen depot for all stops in the solar system.

It maybe cheaper to get water from Ceres to Moon orbit than from the earth but it will take a long time to get a return on you investment. Investors looking for quarterly profits should stay away.

Online meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8484
  • N. California
  • Liked: 4682
  • Likes Given: 884
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #147 on: 04/10/2013 04:09 PM »
I also imagine it has a large concentration of asteroid debris on its surface, so concentrated/differentiated resources.

Plus, if you have facilities (e.g. power plant) on it, you can always drop small asteroids onto the surface for processing.

Oh, and you can jump REALLY high.
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Offline llanitedave

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2153
  • Nevada Desert
  • Liked: 1331
  • Likes Given: 1561
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #148 on: 04/11/2013 04:50 AM »
Much as I admire Musk, and I do, and much as I wish for him and Space X a smashing success, I think he's simply wrong about any commercial potential for Mars.  The asteroid and comet guys are going to eat his lunch, because that's where the money is in the long run.
Asteroids/Comets and Mars = Apples and Oranges.
And Musk isn't doing this for the money.
My "that's where the money is" quip wan't really about Musk in competition with anybody else.  It's referring to the driver of future space exploration and colonization.  I think mobile habitats that can be redirected between various small bodies and extract materials from each one in turn are what the future of space colonization will be.  I suspect that a Mars colony will languish for lack of easily accessible and transportable resources.

This is, of course, very long term.  Far beyond the lifetimes of any of us here, including Musk.  And that's why I think what he's doing now will help bring us to the asteroids and comets as well.

So,  I'm not going to tell him to stop.   ;D
"I've just abducted an alien -- now what?"

Offline llanitedave

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2153
  • Nevada Desert
  • Liked: 1331
  • Likes Given: 1561
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #149 on: 04/11/2013 04:56 AM »
I think he's wrong about Mars as the second home for a multi-planet species as well, because human survival isn't going to be enhanced that much simply by adding one more vulnerable gravity well to the list of places that need protecting.
In the very very long run, yes.  But we should start with "Earth like" places.

A good second target, btw, is Ceres.  Some very interesting properties, nothing like a "regular" asteroid.

I'm all for Mars exploration.  I just think colonization is premature, if ever.

As for Ceres, I see the attraction, but again, that's more near term.  Ultimately it will be the small icy bodies that give us the best resource concentration.

But for that, we're going to have to be able to do fusion, and that doesn't seem around the corner yet.
"I've just abducted an alien -- now what?"

Online meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8484
  • N. California
  • Liked: 4682
  • Likes Given: 884
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #150 on: 04/11/2013 07:18 AM »
In the case of Mars, colonization is actually the only logical thing to do.

It's not that it will cost less than exploration, it's just that the mindset and what you have at the end are so different, they are hardly even comparable.

I mean, the trip is so long, and you need to build all this infrastructure, and the planet is so large and diverse...  So what are you going to do - eat consumables for a few months and then turn around and leave?
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Offline R7

  • Propulsophile
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2738
    • Don't worry.. we can still be fans of OSC and SNC
  • Liked: 950
  • Likes Given: 662
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #151 on: 04/11/2013 09:55 AM »
I don't think you've quite understood the $500k figure. That's the entire cost (transport + initial installation)

Well then it's even more in the silly regime, but just out of curiosity what would this "initial installation" package contain. Would I get say a pressure suit too, to get out of the habitat?
AD·ASTRA·ASTRORVM·GRATIA

Online Garrett

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1108
  • France
  • Liked: 111
  • Likes Given: 77
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #152 on: 04/11/2013 12:06 PM »
I don't think you've quite understood the $500k figure. That's the entire cost (transport + initial installation)
Well then it's even more in the silly regime, but just out of curiosity what would this "initial installation" package contain. Would I get say a pressure suit too, to get out of the habitat?
No idea.
Maybe Elon has some idea, but probably nothing definitive. I think Elon has the 2040's as a possible time period for "cheap" colonization, but I've no quote to back that up. If that's the case, then details on where you stay and what you do on arrival probably won't be worked out for at least another 20 years.
In the meantime, Elon's goal is to develop fully reusable rockets that could eventually make moving to Mars for $500k a real possibility.

Re the pressure suit to get out of the habitat:
Remember, $500k is the possible price only if tens of thousands of people are going to Mars every year. There will be hundreds, if not thousands of job profiles for the new inhabitants: hairdressers, barmen, doctors, miners, etc. Only those who need to leave the (presumable very, very large) habitats on a regular basis will need personal pressure suits. My guess is that most people will just rent one, kinda like renting skis :P
- "Nothing shocks me. I'm a scientist." - Indiana Jones

Online FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6437
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 6090
  • Likes Given: 1788
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #153 on: 04/11/2013 01:03 PM »
I think Elon has the 2040's as a possible time period for "cheap" colonization, but I've no quote to back that up.

His BBC interview from a year ago (see my previous post on this thread) roughly matches this. He predicted flights to Mars in 10 to 15 years time, with $0.5M price tag after a further decade of maturation. So that's mid to late 2030s.

Offline llanitedave

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2153
  • Nevada Desert
  • Liked: 1331
  • Likes Given: 1561
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #154 on: 04/11/2013 06:22 PM »
In the case of Mars, colonization is actually the only logical thing to do.

It's not that it will cost less than exploration, it's just that the mindset and what you have at the end are so different, they are hardly even comparable.

I mean, the trip is so long, and you need to build all this infrastructure, and the planet is so large and diverse...  So what are you going to do - eat consumables for a few months and then turn around and leave?

Well for that, you've got to figure out a way to regenerate those consumables, either through trade or en situ manufacturing.  Which means you're going to need some sort of industry, and an economic base.

That's where I think Mars will have trouble competing with the asteroids, because I don't see any indications that it has ever hosted the kind of geologic processes that provide concentrated ores or any other mineral (other than salts) that can be used in efficient manufacturing economies.

I'd love to be wrong, and that's why we need to explore the place as thoroughly as possible, but until I AM proven wrong I'm not going to be a colonization enthusiast for it.
"I've just abducted an alien -- now what?"

Offline go4mars

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3747
  • Earth
  • Liked: 147
  • Likes Given: 3073
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #155 on: 04/11/2013 11:51 PM »
Dave, who are you assuming to be the launch provider for these asteroid mining operations?
Elasmotherium; hurlyburly Doggerlandic Jentilak steeds insouciantly gallop in viridescent taiga, eluding deluginal Burckle's abyssal excavation.

Online meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8484
  • N. California
  • Liked: 4682
  • Likes Given: 884
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #156 on: 04/12/2013 12:12 AM »
In the case of Mars, colonization is actually the only logical thing to do.

It's not that it will cost less than exploration, it's just that the mindset and what you have at the end are so different, they are hardly even comparable.

I mean, the trip is so long, and you need to build all this infrastructure, and the planet is so large and diverse...  So what are you going to do - eat consumables for a few months and then turn around and leave?

Well for that, you've got to figure out a way to regenerate those consumables, either through trade or en situ manufacturing.  Which means you're going to need some sort of industry, and an economic base.

That's where I think Mars will have trouble competing with the asteroids, because I don't see any indications that it has ever hosted the kind of geologic processes that provide concentrated ores or any other mineral (other than salts) that can be used in efficient manufacturing economies.

I'd love to be wrong, and that's why we need to explore the place as thoroughly as possible, but until I AM proven wrong I'm not going to be a colonization enthusiast for it.

Well at a minimum we have asteroid hits, and volcanic activity, right?

Then we have water flows that bring out stuff from underground and deposit it along creek beds.

ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #157 on: 04/12/2013 03:35 PM »
Mars, at one point, had most of the same geological processes that Earth does. Extensive water, volcanic activity, weathering. Just none life-related (that we know of).

Mars has quite an active water and carbon dioxide cycle, freezing and subliming every year in very large quantities, and that could definitely end up concentrating some materials.

Mars actually DOES have a lot of industrial materials. We know it has gypsum. It also has more very-high-quality nickel/iron ore on its surface than Earth does, by a very large margin. There are also clays.

We've only dug around a few places on Mars so far and we've found quite a diversity.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline llanitedave

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2153
  • Nevada Desert
  • Liked: 1331
  • Likes Given: 1561
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #158 on: 04/12/2013 05:00 PM »
Dave, who are you assuming to be the launch provider for these asteroid mining operations?

I'm not sure how that relates to the point I was making.  Space X could very easily be the launch provider of choice for this kind of project, and more power to them if they are.  I'm not talking about Space X's launch business, I'm talking about Musk's ultimate dream of colonizing Mars.  As a motivator to develop what is turning out to be a very progressive launch business and a service that may indeed make space travel easier for all, I think it's great.  But I think, just as ultimately, it's a misplaced goal.  In the short run it won't matter.  In the long run, I hope I'm wrong.
"I've just abducted an alien -- now what?"

Offline llanitedave

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2153
  • Nevada Desert
  • Liked: 1331
  • Likes Given: 1561
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #159 on: 04/12/2013 05:12 PM »
Mars, at one point, had most of the same geological processes that Earth does. Extensive water, volcanic activity, weathering. Just none life-related (that we know of).

Mars has quite an active water and carbon dioxide cycle, freezing and subliming every year in very large quantities, and that could definitely end up concentrating some materials.

Mars actually DOES have a lot of industrial materials. We know it has gypsum. It also has more very-high-quality nickel/iron ore on its surface than Earth does, by a very large margin. There are also clays.

We've only dug around a few places on Mars so far and we've found quite a diversity.

It does have all those things, but the nickel/iron you can get from small asteroids directly, without having to worry about the gravity well of Mars.  Clays also seem to exist on at least some of the wetter asteroids.  Gypsum, if you need it, might end up being easier to manufacture than to mine, and the raw materials should be easily found on asteroids and comets.

Some of the lighter salts might be easier to find on Mars, perhaps some of the rare earths, although I'm not speaking from specific knowledge here.  Other metals, such as gold/silver/copper/molybdenum/chromium and a few others might end up being very hard to find on Mars.  Most of its volcanism seems to be of the basaltic kind, with a touch of andesite, apparently.  The kind of plutonic activity that emplaces large subsurface magmatic bodies which tend to act as hosts for valuable minerals doesn't seem to have occurred there.  (Although there's a chance that it's had the equivalent of "black smokers" in some of its past eruptive history).

I think its worth exploring to find out, but at the same time, a lot of these materials should be more accessible in the less differentiated bodies which haven't sequestered the heavier metals away from view.
"I've just abducted an alien -- now what?"

Offline Tass

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 361
  • Liked: 76
  • Likes Given: 153
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #160 on: 04/12/2013 05:14 PM »
In the long run, I hope I'm wrong.

That or that Elon reconsiders his goal.

Online meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8484
  • N. California
  • Liked: 4682
  • Likes Given: 884
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #161 on: 04/12/2013 05:32 PM »
Mars, at one point, had most of the same geological processes that Earth does. Extensive water, volcanic activity, weathering. Just none life-related (that we know of).

Mars has quite an active water and carbon dioxide cycle, freezing and subliming every year in very large quantities, and that could definitely end up concentrating some materials.

Mars actually DOES have a lot of industrial materials. We know it has gypsum. It also has more very-high-quality nickel/iron ore on its surface than Earth does, by a very large margin. There are also clays.

We've only dug around a few places on Mars so far and we've found quite a diversity.

It does have all those things, but the nickel/iron you can get from small asteroids directly, without having to worry about the gravity well of Mars.  Clays also seem to exist on at least some of the wetter asteroids.  Gypsum, if you need it, might end up being easier to manufacture than to mine, and the raw materials should be easily found on asteroids and comets.

Some of the lighter salts might be easier to find on Mars, perhaps some of the rare earths, although I'm not speaking from specific knowledge here.  Other metals, such as gold/silver/copper/molybdenum/chromium and a few others might end up being very hard to find on Mars.  Most of its volcanism seems to be of the basaltic kind, with a touch of andesite, apparently.  The kind of plutonic activity that emplaces large subsurface magmatic bodies which tend to act as hosts for valuable minerals doesn't seem to have occurred there.  (Although there's a chance that it's had the equivalent of "black smokers" in some of its past eruptive history).

I think its worth exploring to find out, but at the same time, a lot of these materials should be more accessible in the less differentiated bodies which haven't sequestered the heavier metals away from view.

You're 100% right that asteroid have more resources than either Earth or Mars. 

When it's time to build a death star or an o'Neill cylinder, that's where you'll source the metal.

But the point is that even for Earth-scale engineering (not to mention colony-scale) Mars has more than you need...
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3458
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1863
  • Likes Given: 223
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #162 on: 04/12/2013 07:33 PM »
Based on history and near future vehicle price/performance improvements the timeframe to get to a $100K per seat to LEO price is 15-47 years. Which is needed to get to the $500K to Mars per seat trip price.

15 years – assumptions each vehicle improvement is a average factor of 2 price/performance improvement plus this improvement average occurrence is every 2 years. While the occurrence may be substantiated the factor is not. The factor seems to be closer to the 1.4 average values.

31 years – assumptions each vehicle is an average 1.4 price/performance improvements plus this improvement average occurrence is every 2 years. This is the value that seems to be supported by history and near future.

47 years - assumptions each vehicle is an average 1.4 price/performance improvements plus this improvement average occurrence is every 3 years. This is the value that seems to be supported by history and near future plus is the outside limit of worst case.

What I mean by vehicle price/performance improvement is F9v1.0 to F9v1.1 to FH to …

Offline llanitedave

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2153
  • Nevada Desert
  • Liked: 1331
  • Likes Given: 1561
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #163 on: 04/13/2013 02:58 AM »
Mars, at one point, had most of the same geological processes that Earth does. Extensive water, volcanic activity, weathering. Just none life-related (that we know of).

Mars has quite an active water and carbon dioxide cycle, freezing and subliming every year in very large quantities, and that could definitely end up concentrating some materials.

Mars actually DOES have a lot of industrial materials. We know it has gypsum. It also has more very-high-quality nickel/iron ore on its surface than Earth does, by a very large margin. There are also clays.

We've only dug around a few places on Mars so far and we've found quite a diversity.

It does have all those things, but the nickel/iron you can get from small asteroids directly, without having to worry about the gravity well of Mars.  Clays also seem to exist on at least some of the wetter asteroids.  Gypsum, if you need it, might end up being easier to manufacture than to mine, and the raw materials should be easily found on asteroids and comets.

Some of the lighter salts might be easier to find on Mars, perhaps some of the rare earths, although I'm not speaking from specific knowledge here.  Other metals, such as gold/silver/copper/molybdenum/chromium and a few others might end up being very hard to find on Mars.  Most of its volcanism seems to be of the basaltic kind, with a touch of andesite, apparently.  The kind of plutonic activity that emplaces large subsurface magmatic bodies which tend to act as hosts for valuable minerals doesn't seem to have occurred there.  (Although there's a chance that it's had the equivalent of "black smokers" in some of its past eruptive history).

I think its worth exploring to find out, but at the same time, a lot of these materials should be more accessible in the less differentiated bodies which haven't sequestered the heavier metals away from view.

You're 100% right that asteroid have more resources than either Earth or Mars. 

When it's time to build a death star or an o'Neill cylinder, that's where you'll source the metal.

But the point is that even for Earth-scale engineering (not to mention colony-scale) Mars has more than you need...

I'm not so confident in that.  It would be fun to bet you a dinner on the outcome, but I doubt that the answer will be known during either of our lifetimes.
"I've just abducted an alien -- now what?"

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #164 on: 04/13/2013 03:14 AM »
Mars has all necessary elements. You can get everything else with technology and energy.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline llanitedave

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2153
  • Nevada Desert
  • Liked: 1331
  • Likes Given: 1561
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #165 on: 04/13/2013 03:22 AM »
Mars has all necessary elements. You can get everything else with technology and energy.

Earth has all necessary elements as well.  That doesn't mean they're all practically accessible in any economic sense.  The crustal distribution of elements on Mars is bound to be different than that of Earth.  It's a differentiated body, like Earth, but probably without comparable redistribution process that Earth has in its plate tectonics.

And again, it's not just a matter of collecting all the right material, but in being able to do stuff with it that can sustain a population.  If other solar system bodies can give up their raw materials more easily and support economic production, I doubt a Mars colony would be able to compete with that.  The gravity well alone makes access to Mars more expensive.
"I've just abducted an alien -- now what?"

Offline Orbiter

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2213
  • Florida
  • Liked: 411
  • Likes Given: 924
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #166 on: 04/13/2013 03:24 AM »
How serious or legitimate is Elon Musk's quote about charging people $500,000 to get to Mars? It seems that he came up with that price by estimating what people will be willing or able to pay, based on their willingness to sell their home to pay for a ticket.

So in saying that, is he then implying that he will work to get the price of space travel down to that level of affordability?

Right now, what would a ticket on Dragon cost, based on SpaceX's current expenditures? And even if it's apples and oranges, how far away is that from the $500,000 price target for a Mars trip? How much more does Musk have to improve costs in order to get to the $500,000 target, and is this feasible? Would his investors and backers find this idea acceptable?


$500,000 dollars is incredible optimism and is nothing compared to what the Russians charge per seat to go to the ISS.
Attended space missions: STS-114, STS-124, STS-128, STS-135, Atlas V "Curiosity", Delta IV Heavy NROL-15, Atlas V MUOS-2, Delta IV Heavy NROL-37, Falcon 9 CRS-9, Falcon 9 JCSAT-16, Atlas V GOES-R, Falcon 9 SES-11, Falcon Heavy Demo.

Offline Jim Davis

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 552
  • Liked: 107
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #167 on: 04/13/2013 03:51 AM »
Mars has all necessary elements.

You might as well say it has all the necessary subatomic particles.

Offline dcporter

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 868
  • Liked: 244
  • Likes Given: 398
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #168 on: 04/13/2013 03:56 AM »
Mars has all necessary elements.

You might as well say it has all the necessary subatomic particles.

True as soon as smelting is the same as fusion. Git movin science!

Offline QuantumG

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8638
  • Australia
  • Liked: 3548
  • Likes Given: 840
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #169 on: 04/13/2013 04:27 AM »
$500,000 dollars is incredible optimism and is nothing compared to what the Russians charge per seat to go to the ISS.

.. and? That's what technology does.. over time it changes what is possible.

Also, I'm not sure what "optimism" means when describing a requirement. We just went through this.. $500k per family is about what the price needs to be to make self-funded colonization happen. Elon has said that he thinks there might be a way to do that. What's optimism got to do with it?

When he gets around to explaining what his architecture is, we can all have a giggle at how unreasonable his assumptions are. I expect there will be things like reusable engines that never need refurbishment and completely closed loop life support systems that can support thousands of people and never need maintenance. Then in ten years time Elon will point out how SpaceX has achieved all those things we thought were impossible and they've found someone to pay the up front development costs :)

I hear those things are awfully loud. It glides as softly as a cloud. What's it called? Monowhale!

Online meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8484
  • N. California
  • Liked: 4682
  • Likes Given: 884
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #170 on: 04/13/2013 03:21 PM »
Mars, at one point, had most of the same geological processes that Earth does. Extensive water, volcanic activity, weathering. Just none life-related (that we know of).

Mars has quite an active water and carbon dioxide cycle, freezing and subliming every year in very large quantities, and that could definitely end up concentrating some materials.

Mars actually DOES have a lot of industrial materials. We know it has gypsum. It also has more very-high-quality nickel/iron ore on its surface than Earth does, by a very large margin. There are also clays.

We've only dug around a few places on Mars so far and we've found quite a diversity.

It does have all those things, but the nickel/iron you can get from small asteroids directly, without having to worry about the gravity well of Mars.  Clays also seem to exist on at least some of the wetter asteroids.  Gypsum, if you need it, might end up being easier to manufacture than to mine, and the raw materials should be easily found on asteroids and comets.

Some of the lighter salts might be easier to find on Mars, perhaps some of the rare earths, although I'm not speaking from specific knowledge here.  Other metals, such as gold/silver/copper/molybdenum/chromium and a few others might end up being very hard to find on Mars.  Most of its volcanism seems to be of the basaltic kind, with a touch of andesite, apparently.  The kind of plutonic activity that emplaces large subsurface magmatic bodies which tend to act as hosts for valuable minerals doesn't seem to have occurred there.  (Although there's a chance that it's had the equivalent of "black smokers" in some of its past eruptive history).

I think its worth exploring to find out, but at the same time, a lot of these materials should be more accessible in the less differentiated bodies which haven't sequestered the heavier metals away from view.

You're 100% right that asteroid have more resources than either Earth or Mars. 

When it's time to build a death star or an o'Neill cylinder, that's where you'll source the metal.

But the point is that even for Earth-scale engineering (not to mention colony-scale) Mars has more than you need...

I'm not so confident in that.  It would be fun to bet you a dinner on the outcome, but I doubt that the answer will be known during either of our lifetimes.

Well, as confident as one can be when forecasting tens of years ahead.

The bet is self-fulfilling - burgers on Mars, or beer on an asteroid...

My prediction:
Asteroid economy will look much different than Mars economy.

Mars won't be exporting significant amounts of stuff back to Earth.   Its value will be simply itself - just like Earth's.  It will be a self-sustaining closed system.  In a few hundred years.

Asteroids will be mined, and their economies will resemble that of mining communities.  They won't self-sustain.

Ceres will be an industrial hub for asteroid mining.
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Offline krytek

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 536
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #171 on: 04/13/2013 09:36 PM »
Even $500k for LEO is incredible.
Can you imagine how many people will go to space at that price point?

Offline renclod

  • Extreme Veteran
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1663
  • EU.Ro
  • Liked: 8
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #172 on: 04/13/2013 09:45 PM »
I see three ways this could just barely work using an all-chemical architecture.

1.  [...]

2.  DLR's idea that the transfer habs are old lunar cycler vehicles [...]

3.  [...]

You could probably combine some of these three suggestions.  And they all assume a healthy and very active cislunar space economy.
[...]

So: by the time a Mars trip sells for $500,000 the Moon would be well settled.




Offline Mader Levap

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 963
  • Liked: 430
  • Likes Given: 472
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #173 on: 04/13/2013 11:43 PM »
So: by the time a Mars trip sells for $500,000 the Moon would be well settled.
In this context, "Mars first" (instead of "Moon first") make even less sense.
Be successful.  Then tell the haters to (BLEEP) off. - deruch
...and if you have failure, tell it anyway.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #174 on: 04/14/2013 12:29 AM »
So: by the time a Mars trip sells for $500,000 the Moon would be well settled.
In this context, "Mars first" (instead of "Moon first") make even less sense.
Hasn't been established, anyway.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Patchouli

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4388
  • Liked: 176
  • Likes Given: 326
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #175 on: 04/14/2013 01:37 AM »
Mars has all necessary elements. You can get everything else with technology and energy.

Oddly enough after LRO's findings so does the Moon.


Online meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8484
  • N. California
  • Liked: 4682
  • Likes Given: 884
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #176 on: 04/14/2013 02:43 AM »
It's an old argument.
In theory, yes.
In practice, the moon's environment is a whole different scale of difficulty, and actually getting to the point you can use them is IMO just impractical.

My prediction is that even long after Mars is settled, all you'll have on the moon are occasional expeditions.

ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #177 on: 04/14/2013 03:11 AM »
BTW, XCOR is building their fully reusable launch vehicle to a target price of $1 million per person to orbit. That's at least in the right order of magnitude. I think that goal is probably possible, especially if the Lynx ends up being profitable.

Mars is.. a whole 'nother world. ;)


Anyway, in the universe where Mars tickets cost $500,000, Moon tickets will be less. Any Moon huggers would probably be able to go to the Moon for about the price of a private college education.

...sorry, future children, you're going to have to either get scholarships or go to community college! ;)
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline go4mars

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3747
  • Earth
  • Liked: 147
  • Likes Given: 3073
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #178 on: 04/14/2013 03:23 AM »
So: by the time a Mars trip sells for $500,000 the Moon would be well settled.
In this context, "Mars first" (instead of "Moon first") make even less sense.
I disagree.  If there is launch capacity that makes meaningful colonization of Mars possible, then the moon and other places are interesting targets (for many), which fall within the launch capacity of the Mars launcher.   The opposite is not true.  If you build it for the lowest common denominator, there's no guarantee that there will be an expansion in capability that allows Mars and other stuff.  Plus, my personal opinion is that the demand for Mars trips by would-be colonists will be far greater than demand for would-be moon colonists.  I'm not trying to spark an idealogical debate here so I'll preface it as my opinion: A big part of that is Mars's better temperatures allow more "outside time", the atmosphere and ice make ISRU options easier, and that gravity and light contrast are more comfortable. Plus it's a frickin' planet.  More easily self-sustaining beyond a certain point of industrialization, which is easier than the moon.  And for those in doubt of my generalist space enthusiasm, yes, I believe and hope that the moon, and cis-lunar space get there too, but that's easier than Mars.  If you aim for Mars, you'll likely get the moon too.  If you aim for the moon, it will be harder financially to make ends meet (lower demand for colonization).   Again, all my bald opinion, and I believe, on topic.
« Last Edit: 04/14/2013 03:26 AM by go4mars »
Elasmotherium; hurlyburly Doggerlandic Jentilak steeds insouciantly gallop in viridescent taiga, eluding deluginal Burckle's abyssal excavation.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #179 on: 04/14/2013 03:26 AM »
I have a feeling that in scifi half a million to Mars land, there may be more Mars colonists than Moon colonists, but far more Moon visitors than Mars visitors. The Moon is close enough that you wouldn't need to set up shop permanently.

Again, this is sort of scifi world, not reality.

But the whole point is to get there, isn't it?
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline go4mars

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3747
  • Earth
  • Liked: 147
  • Likes Given: 3073
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #180 on: 04/14/2013 03:32 AM »
there may be more Mars colonists than Moon colonists, but far more Moon visitors than Mars visitors.
Totally agree.

But the whole point is to get there, isn't it?
Totally agree.  In my case, "there" being Mars.  But I'd think it's cool to hop around the moon some day too. 

There's a grey line between trying to predict the future based on current info, and sci-fi.  I think this is in the realm of reasonably possible.  YMMV.
Elasmotherium; hurlyburly Doggerlandic Jentilak steeds insouciantly gallop in viridescent taiga, eluding deluginal Burckle's abyssal excavation.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28374
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 8232
  • Likes Given: 5443
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #181 on: 04/14/2013 04:20 AM »
I definitely don't think it (scifi, Mars colony) is the mostly likely outcome in my lifetime. But it isn't quite impossible, and it is worth pushing for. Every step makes it more likely. In a year, regular flights to the Karman line is a start. In ten or fifteen years, this million dollar per passenger RLV that XCOR is working on (and whatever Spacex and Blue Origin have cooked up) is another. At each of those steps, we'll need to recalculate the odds.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Oli

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2202
  • Liked: 408
  • Likes Given: 57
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #182 on: 04/14/2013 07:54 AM »

500k? And who pays for the 1m rehab after spending years in low gravity?  ;D

No seriously, we should be happy if 500k pays for LEO by mid-century.

Offline Mader Levap

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 963
  • Liked: 430
  • Likes Given: 472
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #183 on: 04/14/2013 03:15 PM »
My prediction is that even long after Mars is settled, all you'll have on the moon are occasional expeditions.
Considering fact that Moon is orders of magnitude easier to reach, I find it extremely improbable.

demand for Mars trips by would-be colonists will be far greater than demand for would-be moon colonists.
Completely irrevelant, if we are talking about what celestial globe should be tackled first. By tackled I mean maintaining permament personal presence of homo sapiens. In other words, permament manned scientific outpost on Moon will happen long, long before any serious Mars colonisation effort.

If you build it for the lowest common denominator, there's no guarantee that there will be an expansion in capability that allows Mars and other stuff. ... If you aim for Mars, you'll likely get the moon too. If you aim for the moon, it will be harder financially to make ends meet
Nonsense. Opposite is true. Technology for deep space and Moon will make directly and indirectly R&D of technology needed for Mars and other destinations easier, faster and cheaper. Standing on shoulder of giants and all of that.

Summary: Crawl before walk, walk before run. Moon will be first. Any other way is doing things backward and does not make any sense.

On-topic: 500k$ for one-way ticket to Mars will not happen in our lifetime (in fact, it is very possible I will die before first footprint pressed on sands of Red Planet happen). Musk can make many steps in this direction, but he will retire on Earth.
Be successful.  Then tell the haters to (BLEEP) off. - deruch
...and if you have failure, tell it anyway.

Online meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8484
  • N. California
  • Liked: 4682
  • Likes Given: 884
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #184 on: 04/14/2013 04:33 PM »

Summary: Crawl before walk, walk before run. Moon will be first. Any other way is doing things backward and does not make any sense.

On-topic: 500k$ for one-way ticket to Mars will not happen in our lifetime (in fact, it is very possible I will die before first footprint pressed on sands of Red Planet happen). Musk can make many steps in this direction, but he will retire on Earth.

Basejump before you parachute, right?
Fly low and slow because it's safer, yes?

You really seem to confuse the distance to the moon with the ease of setting up a colony there.

As long as you keep thinking in terms of "first footprint", then sure, the moon can come first.  But a colony is a different thing entirely, and the duration of flight is not at all the #1 factor in determining where to set it up.
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Offline go4mars

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3747
  • Earth
  • Liked: 147
  • Likes Given: 3073
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #185 on: 04/14/2013 04:39 PM »
Standing on shoulder of giants and all of that.

Summary: Crawl before walk, walk before run. Moon will be first.
If you're trying to reach the ceiling, it might make more sense to just be a giant, rather than standing on a baby.  In this comparison, colonizing Mars is the giant undertaking. 

My first kid ran before he walked.  Made for a lot of facial bruises and scrapes, but it's possible to do it that way.

Musk can make many steps in this direction, but he will retire on Earth.
I find your lack of faith disturbing.    :-*
« Last Edit: 04/14/2013 05:27 PM by go4mars »
Elasmotherium; hurlyburly Doggerlandic Jentilak steeds insouciantly gallop in viridescent taiga, eluding deluginal Burckle's abyssal excavation.

Offline sheltonjr

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 148
  • Liked: 63
  • Likes Given: 37
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #186 on: 04/15/2013 04:16 PM »
LEO is halfway to anywhere in the solar system. so I have heard.

Once in orbit, If SpaceX can create a reusable and RELIABLE MCT. (Mars Colony Transport) The majority of cost is just the fuel/propellant & food. A fuel depot will be required.

A reusable Mars Accent/Decent rocket should also be easier than on earth. Getting into orbit is easier, Landing a lot of mass is more difficult, but with reliable engines it should be possible. Mars ISRU Fuel will be required.

The above is a tall order, But I believe this is what Musk is counting on. Time will tell.

Offline Mader Levap

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 963
  • Liked: 430
  • Likes Given: 472
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #187 on: 04/16/2013 11:57 PM »
You really seem to confuse the distance to the moon with the ease of setting up a colony there.
And you seem to think only two things are possible to do on either celestial body: footprints and full-fledged colony. Tsk, tsk.
Let's repeat my claim in more general terms: any serious work on Moon will happen long before any serious work on Mars, if only by virtue of ease of access. "Serious work" is defined as "anything beyond footpints and flags, involving permament presence of human on given celestial body".

My first kid ran before he walked. Made for a lot of facial bruises and scrapes
You wanted to say "tried running before he could and in consequence fell over and over". This is how running ends up when you barely can walk.

but it's possible to do it that way.
In case of Mars, it would mean first dozen missions ending in LOC. I doubt that even advocates of more risky approach to space had this kind of thing in mind.

LEO is halfway to anywhere in the solar system. so I have heard.
Only in delta-v terms. I don't talk about delta-v.
Be successful.  Then tell the haters to (BLEEP) off. - deruch
...and if you have failure, tell it anyway.

Offline mlindner

  • Software Engineer
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2010
  • Space Capitalist
  • Silicon Valley, CA -- previously in Ann Arbor, MI
  • Liked: 649
  • Likes Given: 239
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #188 on: 04/17/2013 12:34 AM »
You really seem to confuse the distance to the moon with the ease of setting up a colony there.
And you seem to think only two things are possible to do on either celestial body: footprints and full-fledged colony. Tsk, tsk.
Let's repeat my claim in more general terms: any serious work on Moon will happen long before any serious work on Mars, if only by virtue of ease of access. "Serious work" is defined as "anything beyond footpints and flags, involving permament presence of human on given celestial body".

My first kid ran before he walked. Made for a lot of facial bruises and scrapes
You wanted to say "tried running before he could and in consequence fell over and over". This is how running ends up when you barely can walk.

but it's possible to do it that way.
In case of Mars, it would mean first dozen missions ending in LOC. I doubt that even advocates of more risky approach to space had this kind of thing in mind.

LEO is halfway to anywhere in the solar system. so I have heard.
Only in delta-v terms. I don't talk about delta-v.

Differences between going to the moon and going to Mars: (someone correct me on any point I get wrong, I'm no expert)

DeltaV: Mars is easier to get to than the Moon because of the ability to aerobrake.

Duration: Getting to Mars takes half a year while the Moon only takes a couple days. This means more radiation when going to Mars and additional supplies needed thus increasing mass. The time required to stay on Mars is also greatly increased. Could be offset if food could be grown in-situ.

Radiation: Related to time of travel. The moon has similar issues with radiation as basically staying in deep space permamently. I would argue between equivalent length trips to the Moon and Mars, Mars astronauts would experience less radiation in the average case.

Gravity: Mars has more gravity than the Moon meaning less bone/muscle loss from low gravity.

From what I see besides the issue of duration, the Moon has every difficulty Mars has except that you can pull out in an emergency, whereas on Mars you're stuck there.

If you're advocating that first dozen crews going to Mars would be lost, then you're also advocating that within the timespan of a Mars mission we would lose a mission or two going to the Moon (either because of death or crew having to abort and come home). You seem to have a very pessimistic view of the difficulty of space travel.
« Last Edit: 04/17/2013 12:35 AM by mlindner »
Internal combustion engine in space. It's just a Bad Idea.TM - Robotbeat

Online meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8484
  • N. California
  • Liked: 4682
  • Likes Given: 884
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #189 on: 04/17/2013 01:16 AM »
You really seem to confuse the distance to the moon with the ease of setting up a colony there.
And you seem to think only two things are possible to do on either celestial body: footprints and full-fledged colony. Tsk, tsk.
Let's repeat my claim in more general terms: any serious work on Moon will happen long before any serious work on Mars, if only by virtue of ease of access. "Serious work" is defined as "anything beyond footpints and flags, involving permament presence of human on given celestial body".

I'll take you up on that prediction.

Work on the moon will not progress beyond the equivalent of a "beached ISS" - basically a base that does not use ISRU.

At best, there will be continuous human presence, with occasional EVAs (I don't want to say moon walks :)  )

Meanwhile...

Work on Mars will proceed along a different route, with initial emphasis on ISRU, and then a base that relies on it.  EVAs will be all they do.
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Offline QuantumG

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8638
  • Australia
  • Liked: 3548
  • Likes Given: 840
Re: $500,000 Pricetag for Mars Trip
« Reply #190 on: 04/17/2013 01:26 AM »
All this Moon talk is off-topic.. which is becoming typical of "Moon First" advocates. Please take your Moon talk to an appropriate thread, there's enough of them.
I hear those things are awfully loud. It glides as softly as a cloud. What's it called? Monowhale!

Tags: