Author Topic: Chris Hadfield says the rockets from NASA, SpaceX, and Blue Origin won't take people to Mars  (Read 5386 times)

Offline Star One

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As a person disappointed in NERVA's cancellation in the 70's, it is always the balance of risk and reward.

My opinion is we can and should go with the best available because waiting on better always leaves you waiting.

Wise words IMO.

Better is the enemy of good enough.

Even if it costs some people their lives?

To name just a few examples: aircraft, trains, automobiles. Despite continuous improvements in safety features people still get killed in those human transportation vehicles. That however had not led to them not being used any more.
 
Why should space transportation be any different?

The only form of sustained human spaceflight that results in NO deaths is NO human spaceflight.

If the USA wishes to fly people in space it will have to accept that ultimately, inevitably, people will die.
If the USA is not willing to accept that than the USA might just as well stop flying people in space altogether.

To quote Gus Grissom: "The conquest of space is worth the risk of life".

But is that something the public at large will accept these days. To me the attitude seemed different back in the sixties compared to now, that there was a greater toleration for risk in the public mood.
« Last Edit: 06/20/2018 11:42 AM by Star One »

Offline A12

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.. snip..

But is that something the public at large will accept these days. To me the attitude seemed different back in the sixties compared to now, that there was a greater toleration for risk in the public mood.

More than "public mood" I would say NASA/ESA mood, and, above all, in their managers, more concerned about careers than space exploration.

For what concerns Hadfield: he is right about current rockets, just forgot to mention Nerva.
I believe we need nuclear power to go and, above all, stay on Mars.
« Last Edit: 06/20/2018 12:06 PM by A12 »

Offline spacenut

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Mars can be obtained with current rockets with in space assembly and fuel depots.  Nautilus-X is one example.  In space assembly can also give us Mars Cyclers.   Therefore no need for SLS.  Design spaceships that can be assembled and fueled in space and launched using existing rockets.  Big rockets are nice but not absolutely necessary. 

Offline Star One

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.. snip..

But is that something the public at large will accept these days. To me the attitude seemed different back in the sixties compared to now, that there was a greater toleration for risk in the public mood.

More than "public mood" I would say NASA/ESA mood, and, above all, in their managers, more concerned about careers than space exploration.

For what concerns Hadfield: he is right about current rockets, just forgot to mention Nerva.
I believe we need nuclear power to go and, above all, stay on Mars.

Id think youd only need one mishap that cost lives on the journey to Mars for the whole endeavour to be brought to a grinding hold probably for a very extended period. No matter who was doing the transporting.

Offline Dean47

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If people fly into space, at some point people will die in space.  Period.  How we feel about that depends on our perception of risk versus reward.  Now we are in the realm of fundamental human behavior.
 
I was a test engineer for many years.  Some of our tests were inherently risky.  That could not be prevented.  All we could do was try to quantify and mitigate the risk.  The usual criteria was to limit the known risk to one in a million.  It was impossible to get the known risk to zero, and it was impossible to quantify the unknown risks (since we didn't know what they were).  Then someone had to decide  --  is this test worth it?

We do the same thing unconsciously every day.  In 2016 37,461 people died in traffic accidents in the U.S.  Obviously, the risk that you will die the next time you are in a motor vehicle is not zero.  As a matter of fact in 2016 about 12 people died per 100,000 population.  Engineers have done everything they can to minimize the risk (within the design constraints) but about 10-15 people still die per 100,000 each year.  We as a people have decided that the reward associated with driving is worth the risk. (The numbers came from wikipedia.)

The only question is:  Is expanding into space worth the risk?

Offline Rocket Science

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If people fly into space, at some point people will die in space.  Period.  How we feel about that depends on our perception of risk versus reward.  Now we are in the realm of fundamental human behavior.
 
I was a test engineer for many years.  Some of our tests were inherently risky.  That could not be prevented.  All we could do was try to quantify and mitigate the risk.  The usual criteria was to limit the known risk to one in a million.  It was impossible to get the known risk to zero, and it was impossible to quantify the unknown risks (since we didn't know what they were).  Then someone had to decide  --  is this test worth it?

We do the same thing unconsciously every day.  In 2016 37,461 people died in traffic accidents in the U.S.  Obviously, the risk that you will die the next time you are in a motor vehicle is not zero.  As a matter of fact in 2016 about 12 people died per 100,000 population.  Engineers have done everything they can to minimize the risk (within the design constraints) but about 10-15 people still die per 100,000 each year.  We as a people have decided that the reward associated with driving is worth the risk. (The numbers came from wikipedia.)

The only question is:  Is expanding into space worth the risk?
Yes...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob: Physics instructor, Aviator, Vintage auto racer

Offline Star One

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If people fly into space, at some point people will die in space.  Period.  How we feel about that depends on our perception of risk versus reward.  Now we are in the realm of fundamental human behavior.
 
I was a test engineer for many years.  Some of our tests were inherently risky.  That could not be prevented.  All we could do was try to quantify and mitigate the risk.  The usual criteria was to limit the known risk to one in a million.  It was impossible to get the known risk to zero, and it was impossible to quantify the unknown risks (since we didn't know what they were).  Then someone had to decide  --  is this test worth it?

We do the same thing unconsciously every day.  In 2016 37,461 people died in traffic accidents in the U.S.  Obviously, the risk that you will die the next time you are in a motor vehicle is not zero.  As a matter of fact in 2016 about 12 people died per 100,000 population.  Engineers have done everything they can to minimize the risk (within the design constraints) but about 10-15 people still die per 100,000 each year.  We as a people have decided that the reward associated with driving is worth the risk. (The numbers came from wikipedia.)

The only question is:  Is expanding into space worth the risk?

I think a lot of it boils down to a matter of perception. Look at the amount of attention there has been in the press when an automated car has caused a death. Yet how much coverage is there of the 45,000 deaths a year from cars driven by humans? We seem to accept the latter as the cost of having cars yet the former causes all kinds of questions to be raised, and worry about even the idea of automation of transport. Yet they are both deaths caused by cars just that in one they are driven by a person and the other by a machine.

The media in recent times always seem to play up the risk of space flight and I think that has transferred into a perception that its inherently risky activity and has caused a low toleration of risk. Would it be unfair to suggest that this has made space flight companies risk averse when it comes to transporting humans?
« Last Edit: 06/20/2018 03:41 PM by Star One »

Offline ulm_atms

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Good thing we are not putting people into space that don't want to be there.

The people going into space know the risks and decide they are worth it.  It is their life and they get to decide what to do with it.  Nobody has any right to tell them otherwise....period.

If Chris doesn't think it is safe enough....well...good thing he is not being forced to go or he would then have a argument then.  But the argument of "It's not safe enough so we should not do it" is not up to ANYONE but the person who put themselves in the vehicle to decide....and apparently there are quite a few people in the world that think it IS worth the risk and believe that the companies are not just out to kill them with avoidable/known risks for safety.

But as for "public" support....this is why Elon refuses to make SpaceX public until they are on Mars.  It would cripple them in my opinion.

 

Offline WindnWar

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I think the risk exists but there is a large appetite to explore, no matter the risk involved. People die climbing Everest every year yet there are no attempts to prevent people from climbing it. The people know the risk involved, so long as people don't die from something stupid/easily avoided, there is little chance it will stop people from going. The main thing will be keeping government out of it as they are the most risk averse groups these days.

People will die, it's simply a matter of when, as long as there are more willing to line up to keep exploring, we will keep on going.

Offline Kyra's kosmos

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If NASA, SpaceX, and Blue Origin don't send a crew to Mars on "primitive" rockets, then someone else will. (Hello, China and Russia.) Worldwide for the last 40 plus years there has been planning, re-planning, scrapping, and rethinking and overthinking this issue, which seems to propagate more overthinking, re-planning, and worrying. The Mars ship can be built modularly in Earth Orbit even if that takes a dozen expendable run-of-the-mill rocket launches. Think of a mini-ISS with propulsion stages and return capsule.

The first entity that is willing to see this through will do it, and hopefully the crew will come back intact. If not, lesson learned. Simple and reliable with brute force and risk is going to win the Mars race.

The bottleneck I see here is that everyone is afraid of finger pointing when an issue arises. In an automobile accident, it's pretty easy and inconsequential to blame one of the two, or three parties involved. But when something arises like a self driving car getting into an accident, there is more factors and parties who could potentially take the blame. Was this hardware? If it was a hardware fault, which engineers built the part? Did they know about the possibility of this happening? If they didn't, why didn't they? etc. It's like the scandal that happened with Toyota nearly a decade ago where the gas pedals were getting stuck down. Still cars being controlled by humans, but because it was a fault with the cars themselves, it blew up into a big news story.

The only way I see us ever getting to Mars, even with future technology that would get us there much faster, is if every little subset that had their hands on the vehicle, from the engineers and programmers, down to the dude who drove the truck that delivered the vehicle to the launch pad, accepts the risk that something could go wrong, and finger pointing isn't necessary.

Offline chrisking0997

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The only way I see us ever getting to Mars, even with future technology that would get us there much faster, is if every little subset that had their hands on the vehicle, from the engineers and programmers, down to the dude who drove the truck that delivered the vehicle to the launch pad, accepts the risk that something could go wrong, and finger pointing isn't necessary.

I think that group has already accepted the risk.  The problem lies with the media (who love a good tragedy, and pulling people down), politicians (who are blame-adverse), bureaucrats (who live to regulate), and armchair quarterbacks (who have created America's latest pastime: playing debbie downer so they can be there to say "I told you so").
Tried to tell you, we did.  Listen, you did not.  Now, screwed we all are.

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