Author Topic: Speculation and Discussion: Crew for first SpaceX Mars mission  (Read 40643 times)

Offline ppb

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SpaceX need not follow the 'professional astronaut' model.  Individuals on Mars will need to be creative and innovative problem solvers and techies, since for much of the time, they won't have an army of Earth-based personnel choreographing their every move.  They have 7,000 employees who are proving quite adept at getting hardware built and launched... this is the pool from which they should select* their technical experts, 'crew' if you will.  There will be room for scientists like field geologists, analytical chemists, biologists (and for medical professionals) that they may lack in the workforce, so there will be some outside selection.

If they vertically integrate all the way up to the astros being sent, then they are training that cadre already.

* Another perk

That is a way of looking at it that I hadn’t considered.  It makes perfect sense that employees designing and building the physical systems are by default in training.  I like it.  Not being addressed today is training for the space environment in LEO and BEO.
Exactly. While I like the general idea of sending people, who developed the systems, I also argue for having e.g. 2 crew members with the 'professional astronaut' background. For instance, 'EVA prep.' is a human situation much more complex, than handling the suit hardware. You are supposed to control your nervousness caused by the danger, and work carefully and methodically, exactly because of the danger. I think I could learn the technical side easily - but would fail on the emotional side. The latter issue requires the huge training. Sure, they will not pilot the landing.
Disagree. The latter requires "the right stuff". You either have it or you don't. It's less of a training process and more of a screening one.
Quam celerrime ad astra

Offline EnigmaSCADA

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Am I the only one that sees two competing problems with crew personnel? On the one hand you need people with calm, collaborative, problem solving, and highly technical skills. Basically, the type of person who is likely highly successful here on Earth and unlikely to consider the high risk of death acceptable as a replacement to their current life.

On the other hand, there are plenty of unstable Looney tunes who would lineup for the first mission and that voyage would be like an asylum.

I dunno, I for one would need to see every technical challenge accomplished in some form before seriously considering going to Mars. Maybe it's the distance & time that's too much of a leap for me. Maybe some would say it's cowardly (to which I disagree, but will accept the label vs going). I don't feel this way about any other current/past HSF.

Offline jpo234

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Am I the only one that sees two competing problems with crew personnel? On the one hand you need people with calm, collaborative, problem solving, and highly technical skills. Basically, the type of person who is likely highly successful here on Earth and unlikely to consider the high risk of death acceptable as a replacement to their current life.

On the other hand, there are plenty of unstable Looney tunes who would lineup for the first mission and that voyage would be like an asylum.

I dunno, I for one would need to see every technical challenge accomplished in some form before seriously considering going to Mars. Maybe it's the distance & time that's too much of a leap for me. Maybe some would say it's cowardly (to which I disagree, but will accept the label vs going). I don't feel this way about any other current/past HSF.
NASA astronaut applications are always way oversubscribed with a lot of highly qualified people. I don't think finding appropriate candidates will be a problem.
You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great. That's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It's about believing in the future and believing the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars.

Offline Slarty1080

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Para phrasing Robert Zubrin - I hope the Mars crew is going to be all Scotty's and Spock's with no Kirk's or Mc Coy's (or at least not in a primary role)
The first words spoken on Mars: "Humans have been wondering if there was any life on the planet Mars for many decades … well ... there is now!"

Am I the only one that sees two competing problems with crew personnel? On the one hand you need people with calm, collaborative, problem solving, and highly technical skills. Basically, the type of person who is likely highly successful here on Earth and unlikely to consider the high risk of death acceptable as a replacement to their current life.

On the other hand, there are plenty of unstable Looney tunes who would lineup for the first mission and that voyage would be like an asylum.

I dunno, I for one would need to see every technical challenge accomplished in some form before seriously considering going to Mars. Maybe it's the distance & time that's too much of a leap for me. Maybe some would say it's cowardly (to which I disagree, but will accept the label vs going). I don't feel this way about any other current/past HSF.

Apollo era astronauts have accepted far bigger risks than even the first BFR crew to Mars will. Unlike Apollo, Mars EDL will have been tested robotically at least 4 times before the first crewed landing, not to mention the rocket itself, orbital maneuvers, reentry on Earth etc: all of this will be tested multiple times, without the need for test pilots. A flight surgeon (possibly more than one) will be flying with the rest of the crew, landing sites will be scrutinized and selected with far better technology, 60 years of experience in spaceflight and 20 years of continued human presence in LEO will also be a big advantage.

Even without all of this, Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts choose to fly.
Were they 'unstable Looney tunes'?

Also the most successful people are not the ones that play it safe.
« Last Edit: 04/01/2018 11:51 pm by AbuSimbel »
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Offline Nomadd

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 They should include an old guy who can build mnemonic memory circuits with stone knives and bearskins without constant handholding from a platoon of earthbound engineers a 40 minute timelag away. Using one who's a potential issue for their Mars launches because he lives in the middle of their new spaceport would solve two problems at once. Experience living at sea, in primitive conditions on four continents and surviving Korean wilderness with 70s army gear should be a definite plus. The ability to function after consuming large amounts of alcohol would also be desirable.
« Last Edit: 04/03/2018 08:56 am by Nomadd »
Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who couldn't hear the music.

Offline philw1776

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Large amounts of alcohol?  Sign me up.  I've spent days at sea too & I Are An Engineer.
"It'll bang right out!"

Offline Slarty1080

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I think Rapper BoB from this thread is a must for the crew:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=43830.0
If he could be tranquilized for the flight and brought round on Mars I wonder what he would say? >:(
The first words spoken on Mars: "Humans have been wondering if there was any life on the planet Mars for many decades … well ... there is now!"

Online DistantTemple

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I hear he does a good line in terraforming plants as well. They shoot up to 14 ft in days even in a rarefied atmosphere. Take Nomadd and they'll have a Green Mars.... in a century! The Agave americana is a really tough dessert plant ideally suited to the job. As is its human.

Edit (14/04/18): Plants used for terraforming. I've no idea if Agave (Centuary plant) or GM variants could be any use in greening Mars, but its an incredibly tough dessert plant... 
https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/agave-americana.html
Quote from: herbal-supplement-resource.com
Agave is also a food source. The flower stalks and the base leaves of agave americana can be roasted and consumed. A sweet juice which is tapped from the flower stalks, can be drunk or used to make an alcoholic beverage such as pulque.

Other agave species are also used to make traditional alcoholic drinks such as mescal and tequila, which is made from Agave angustifolia and Agave salmiana.

The leaves from both Agave americana and the sisal agave (Agave sisalana) are used to make woven mats and also to make paper. The sharp thorns at the tip of the leaves of Agave Americana also serve as needles and nails.
So I propose the Centuary plant as the first flora crew for Mars. Even in a pressurised greenhouse it has a miryad of benefits, and a good chance of success. And of course its travelling Gardener... where is he?
« Last Edit: 04/14/2018 07:27 pm by DistantTemple »
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Offline Slarty1080

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I hear he does a good line in terraforming plants as well. They shoot up to 14 ft in days even in a rarefied atmosphere. Take Nomadd and they'll have a Green Mars.... in a century! The Agave americana is a really tough dessert plant ideally suited to the job. As is its human.

Steady - terraforming planets is my speciality - I got an award for all the fiddley bits around Norway don't you know...
« Last Edit: 04/02/2018 12:27 am by Slarty1080 »
The first words spoken on Mars: "Humans have been wondering if there was any life on the planet Mars for many decades … well ... there is now!"

Offline Bob Shaw

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On a more serious note, there will certainly be a botanist (probably not Matt Damon) who will be tasked with the job of growing Elon Musk's flower on Mars. When Heart of Gold lands, he will have made his dream come true, and part of that dream will be reflected in his original ambition to bring a flower to life on Mars - and it will happen!

Offline jpo234

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Moved to a more appropriate thread.

Sadly I suspect an astrogator would be even more redundant than a pilot. Perhaps some ritual checking of star positions and some hand calulations just to "prove" the spaceship knows which way to go. Residual responsibilities go to the Captain

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-00478-8
You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great. That's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It's about believing in the future and believing the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars.

Offline Slarty1080

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I suspect the first Mars crew will be just 4 to keep the weight down and will consist of:

A Doctor
A Mars sciences specialist (geology and biology)
Two engineers (ECLSS/mechanical and computer systems/electrical)
One of them is also the Commander and each will have a reasonable working knowledge of one other crew persons speciality. On top of all that they will have to have specialist knowledge in things like the rover, drilling rigs and ISRU

The first words spoken on Mars: "Humans have been wondering if there was any life on the planet Mars for many decades … well ... there is now!"

Offline Lar

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I think there would be more cross training. All 4 would know at least the rudiments of everything. otherwise, yeah
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Online DistantTemple

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I think EM's too impatient with results to go with 4. 12 would be more like it.

4 risks mission "failure" through slowness and minor issues. 12 risks more lives and a bigger fallout if the whole mission is lost, but then a loss of 4 would be a massive impediment, so why not go for 12.

As for risks to life, the SS will have been tested manned, in orbit, and around the moon with many landings on Earth, and at least 2 unmanned landings on Mars. At least minimal ISRU methane production on Mars would have been completed, and excessive rations and equipment pre-placed.

A bigger team will be better for morale, better for coping with individual accidents, a better range of technical skills to cope with a wider range of tasks and deviations from expectations, and will lead to more space and comfort more quickly for all.  Obviously it will cost more, but not 3x more than for 4. Or if 3x more was spent, it would add a lot of redundancy and flexibility.

And in terms of financial time it will make the project advance more quickly, drawing in more investment earlier. In the next synod, quite likely an ESA, a NASA, and ISRO, and a Russion team may all be willing to pay to be on board. SX's progress will not be swamped. But after a Synod with 4, SX will not be ready for that.

In the first manned synod, 2 NASA, and 10 SX would make a good balance, but 1 NASA and 3 SX might not!

These are just opinions. However I just don't see EM sitting on his hands for two years whilst 4 ppl get a couple of things working. Its not how he works. In fact its more likely he has 12 in one ship, and another 12 in a ship one month behind. If there is a disaster with the first the second team could at a pinch not land, but if things are going well it'll be like the model 3 ramp should have been!
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Offline AC in NC

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Yes.  4 seems too few.  Even with autonomous equipment, I have a hard time imagining there isn't physical work for a lot of hands, notwithstanding the number of systems that will need significant technical expertise.

Offline Slarty1080

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I think EM's too impatient with results to go with 4. 12 would be more like it.

4 risks mission "failure" through slowness and minor issues. 12 risks more lives and a bigger fallout if the whole mission is lost, but then a loss of 4 would be a massive impediment, so why not go for 12.

As for risks to life, the SS will have been tested manned, in orbit, and around the moon with many landings on Earth, and at least 2 unmanned landings on Mars. At least minimal ISRU methane production on Mars would have been completed, and excessive rations and equipment pre-placed.

A bigger team will be better for morale, better for coping with individual accidents, a better range of technical skills to cope with a wider range of tasks and deviations from expectations, and will lead to more space and comfort more quickly for all.  Obviously it will cost more, but not 3x more than for 4. Or if 3x more was spent, it would add a lot of redundancy and flexibility.

And in terms of financial time it will make the project advance more quickly, drawing in more investment earlier. In the next synod, quite likely an ESA, a NASA, and ISRO, and a Russion team may all be willing to pay to be on board. SX's progress will not be swamped. But after a Synod with 4, SX will not be ready for that.

In the first manned synod, 2 NASA, and 10 SX would make a good balance, but 1 NASA and 3 SX might not!

These are just opinions. However I just don't see EM sitting on his hands for two years whilst 4 ppl get a couple of things working. Its not how he works. In fact its more likely he has 12 in one ship, and another 12 in a ship one month behind. If there is a disaster with the first the second team could at a pinch not land, but if things are going well it'll be like the model 3 ramp should have been!

There is no doubt there are a lot of advantages in having extra people on board, but there are also drawbacks. The key one being mass. The first Mars mission will have a very tight mass budget with many different priorities, there will be a huge amount of kit of all sorts to carry and I calculate that each crew person will require ~3 tons of payload, so those 12 people will consume a significant part of the total available payload leaving less room for everything from medical supplies to rovers. And also leaving less redundancy options. For instance how many spacesuits will be required per person? And what state will they be in after a 1,2,3,6 or 9 months’ worth of EVA’s on the Martian surface?
The first words spoken on Mars: "Humans have been wondering if there was any life on the planet Mars for many decades … well ... there is now!"

Offline Lar

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Yes.  4 seems too few.  Even with autonomous equipment, I have a hard time imagining there isn't physical work for a lot of hands, notwithstanding the number of systems that will need significant technical expertise.
There is a number of crew somewhere that will swamp the cargo capacity (their food and supplies for two years[1]means almost nothing else can be brought) and a larger number where the cargo capacity is too small.  I think another thread did these calcs but I don't remember the numbers. Pretty sure 12 is under the first threshold, but not 100% sure. 4 definitely is.

1 - until next synod, if none of the ISRU can be gotten to work, an resupply vessel needs to be sent
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline RonM

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Remember, earlier versions of BFS were suppose to carry 100 people. Maybe that's down to a lower number, say 70. A crew of 12 will still leave room for cargo. There's also 2 cargo Starships landing the previous synod, 2 more cargo Starships, and the two crew Starships. There will be plenty of cargo for 12 to 24 crew to work with.

Online DistantTemple

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Any Idea which thread? I'll have a look. I was thinking as RonM says. However I have done no calculations.
The calculations are very important, but all of these issues have to be balanced. I did do some calculations in the past about food consumption, and basic rations for 4 years (assuming there is a delay with return or resupply) is not a problem. I'm feeling like thinking through this whole topic of the best team size, their projects, and the needed equipment and supplies.. probably because I have a lot of preparation to do for work in the next coupe of days!!! Space hobby will have to wait!
We can always grow new new dendrites. Reach out and make connections and your world will burst with new insights. Then repose in consciousness.

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