Another demonstration of how fundamentally unserious we are about it, and what a fraud NASA’s #JourneyToMars is:

“Right now we are unconsciously setting ourselves up for a very difficult Mars program in the 2020s, because of all these immediate needs,” Casey Dreier, director of space policy at the Planetary Society, tells The Verge. “We don’t want to have a problem where we’ve prepared these samples and then they just rot on the ground because we’re unable to commit to bringing them back.”

Dreier argues that, above all, the most immediate need is the development of a new Mars telecommunications orbiter. Any future spacecraft we send to the Red Planet is going to need a way to communicate with mission teams on Earth. Right now, NASA has three operational satellites orbiting Mars, but only two — the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey — are primarily used for telecommunications. And these vehicles are getting old. Both orbiters have been at Mars for more than a decade and have lasted much longer than the span of their primary missions. By the time spacecraft are sent to retrieve samples from Mars, these satellites may have broken down and have stopped functioning. There are other orbiters circling Mars, operated by NASA and other space agencies, but these satellites are primarily aimed at doing science, and their orbits make them ill-suited for telecommunications, according to the Planetary Society.

But we have a giant rocket and a capsule in development that we don’t need to get to Mars, so we have that going for us.

18 thoughts on “Mars”

  1. Show me one person that can see past their nose?

    Sure, you’re the only one who gets it, Ken.

    1. That may be true Jim. Especially if you find it difficult to find people supporting my position. It’s the same fallacy as the ‘scientific consensus.’ Consensus has nothing to do with it. A thing is either right or it’s wrong. Science advances one scientist at a time.

      I’m not afraid of being wrong because I have experience being right when all others were wrong; then learning who later had the character to apologize. Like the ninjas love being turtles, I love being INTJ.

      If I’m wrong, don’t be a coward, point it out. That benefits both of us.

      I believe mars is going to be a source of great wealth and we will be kicking ourselves for foot dragging so long. Take the con, captain!

      1. I’m not afraid of being wrong because I have experience being right when all others were wrong; then learning who later had the character to apologize

        You’ve made it clear that you believe yourself to be an exceptional person.

        If I’m wrong, don’t be a coward, point it out. That benefits both of us.

        It’s not a question of being wrong, it’s a question of being charitable. Calling people short sighted because they have different views is not charitable. Is is just possible these people are facing up to political, economic, and medical realities that you can handwave away because few people listen to you anyway?

        I believe mars is going to be a source of great wealth and we will be kicking ourselves for foot dragging so long.

        You’ve made that clear as well. Unfortunately, that belief is little more than personal conviction and carries no weight with those that don’t share them. This is why I’ve encouraged you over the years to present your ideas at a Mars Society conference, call the Space Show, e-publish on Amazon, etc. It would force you to put some meat on the bones of bare belief.

        1. Thanks Jim, those are fair remarks. Generally I’m very charitable; surely you pick up on my frustration. A person can be both exceptional and lack competence. I’ve been tested. I’m objectively both. They didn’t give full scholarships to Harvey Mudd to just anybody in the late 70s. Being as unusual as I am, which I am (or was… there’s nothing much left of that guy these days) makes a person less believable. When I was an ATCS most of the kids were 10 years younger than I and found my life to that point unbelievable. I didn’t have a stable childhood. I was student of the month at a school I only attended one month (I went to six different jr. highs that year) got my picture in the paper even. When my stepdad, running from the FBI for years, beat my mother unconscience, that didn’t make the paper. I went to school with the mentally gifted, but they ridiculed me for using too precise a vocabulary (obvious lost that attribute, didn’t I?)

          Is is just possible these people are facing up to political, economic, and medical realities…

          Absolutely, my frustration is they aren’t willing to discuss it which suggests the reasoning supporting those positions may be rather fragile. They may be surprised how much I agree, but I believe the solution is to shake people out of rigid thinking. Including myself. Argument, done right, should benefit everyone involved. I live for those benefits.

          You’ve made that clear as well.

          Thanks for confirmation of at least one success.

          …put some meat on the bones of bare belief.

          Obviously this is my failure. Not that there has been no meat, but that you would suggest my beliefs are bare. Equally obvious, it would be beneficial to collect my thoughts into a coherent whole. I remember when you suggested it. I have worked on it (for years now… in the hospital a few years ago, while I could barely move the nurses asked me daily how my book was coming… but writing (especially with me being my worst critic) is not easy. I have tremendous respect for those, like Rand, that can put their thoughts down so well. BTW, I’m not idolizing Rand (anymore than Trump, Rand) just acknowledging what I see.

  2. I like Ken’s dreams of Mars settlement but prior to doing so, it is likely that several things will be done. As the link says, we need a beefy communications system. Along with that, we need a crewed station or ship orbiting Mars that controls robots sent to many different prospective sites for settlement, development, and scientific interest.

    Our current method of roboting on Mars takes too long and is too limited in scale. A concerted effort withing the cognitive horizon to control many different robots would yield results at a much much faster pace.

    I think the same approach should be taken with the Moon and much of the space based infrastructure could be very similar because many of the space based environmental challenges will be similar. And why not build something that is more than just a one off, perhaps a small fleet?

  3. I agree with the stated need for better comms. I also take the fact the issue is being ignored to be a sign we are in no way serious.

    However, regarding #JourneyToMars being a fraud, it wouldn’t be if they simply admit what it is; a twitter hashtag that’s costing, and will cost in the future, tens of billions of dollars a year. And that twitter hashtag is all we get for all those billions. If they admitted that was the case, it wouldn’t be a fraud. It’d still be incredibly stupid though.

      1. “They made posters too…”

        And that… that, right there, is why I condemn SpaceX! NASA made posters for #JourneyToMars, while SpaceX doesn’t even have a hashtag for their Mars program, let alone posters of the hashtag. At SpaceX’s abysmal rate of progress on that issue, they’ll be landing Red Dragons on Mars in 2020, yet still lack a hashtag – let alone posters!

        Hrmmm, I wonder… any way to find out how many posters NASA made for #JourneyToMars? I’m betting that the cost factor (If the SLS/Orion budget is divided equally between the two sole products of the endeavor, the hashtag and the posters) of each poster could be as low as 20 million each. What’s not to like?


        1. SpaceX is smart. They release their plan. The public picks it apart for flaws. SpaceX makes changes to their plan.

          NASA though… Release plan and ignore flaws.

          1. That’s very true, but only if the goal is actually going to Mars. If, however, the goal is fancy hashtags and pork, then NASA’s far better than spaceX.

  4. Wodun & CJ, thanks for being generous listeners (because I make it so easy for those not so generous,,, Trump knows what I’m talking about. BTW, this says something pretty awesome about our president.)

    You also give me so much good stuff to think about. Which is a real pleasure in this life of unending doctors and hospitals.

    Ungenerous souls might assume I’m against telerobotics simply because (this time) I didn’t mention it, but in fact I think it would be idiotic not to take advantage for just the reasons you mentioned.

    People will often make an objection as if that ends an argument… that only works for real show stoppers which they hardly ever are.

    It really doesn’t take that much imagination to see what already exists, but I’m constantly amazed that a person knowing they can’t do something therefore believes it can’t be done when the evidence otherwise is abundant.

    1. Ken, I think we are in agreement. My own view is that the comms abilities are essential for both unmanned and manned missions.

      All I meant to take potshots at was the SLS architecture. 🙂

      1. The problem with demonstrating a potential ROI is that it’s a big investment (but not what some claim.)

        I believe we can assume 2000 kg safely to the surface of mars for much less than $300M using FH/Dragon. That puts a cap on costs. Costs that could easily come down with other architectures.

        Interestingly that didn’t require a new vehicle from the time Elon was joking about making new mars craters. All it took was imagining a new flight profile that allowed existing hardware to bleed velocity in horizontal flight before retro-propulsion. Thought can be powerful stuff.

        It’ll be quite the E ticket ride, but the tech is done. Just the testing remains (some of which happens/has for lower cost in the earth’s upper atmosphere.)

        1. No, the tech is not done. They’ve started, and made up some designs, but it isn’t done until it’s been actually tested in the environment in which it will be used.

          I have some serious reservations about the ability of SpaceX’s interplanetary vehicle being able to make that turnround maneuver. The CoL/CoM balance is going to be very tricky.

          1. Done doesn’t mean they won’t do more. Flight software isn’t done until it’s proven in trials, but the capsule could go now without any hardware changes. The FH is a recombination of proven equipment. It’s as good as done, even though it hasn’t flown yet. Those two components by themselves give you a mars architecture. Payload is the only thing missing.

            Yes, I’m predicting the future. I’d wager my life on this one. I call that done.

            Elon’s transport is far from done. It’s not required. It’s purpose is to reduce costs (per delivered mass) and I believe it could slow down progress.

    2. The economics are tricky because we can’t predict what will happen on Mars. There is no frame of reference to colonizing another planet. There are analogies but none of them fit perfectly. The future is always uncertain but this is even more uncertain. This lack of control is scary to humans on a evolutionary level.

      It is similar to why people want the government to control the healthcare industry rather than let the free market innovate our way to good health, longevity, and lower costs for care. They can’t predict what creative entrepreneurs and researchers will come up with.

      Settling Mars, or any where else, presents a lot of unique challenges and some people want all the answers before we engage in that activity but many of the answers we wont get until we are there. It will require in situ observations and problem solving.

      I think the biggest hurdle isn’t technology but scale. In order for a settlement to take root, there needs to be a lot of people. I could see a private enterprise setting up something but it is more realistic if our government decided to make it a strategy and exported not only our people but our system of governance.

      1. Good stuff Wodun.

        The economics are tricky — because we can’t predict what will happen on Mars.

        Yes and no. We can apply both economic principles and human motivations to make an educated guess as to the outcome. There are many ways we could sabotage colonists success and many of them are very likely to happen due to attitudes. That’s a separate issue from the colonists themselves who we can assume will pursue their own self interests if they have the freedom to do so.

        This is one of the reasons I push so hard on the principle of over supplying the colonists especially in abundant energy resources which would allow the colonists to overcome many levels of sabotage (which I don’t assume to be intentional but still very likely.)

        …people want the government to control…

        Which is THE recipe for disaster. Freedom and liberty works when resources are available as they are on mars.

        Scale is an issue. Trust is the solution. Colonist will know that not having enough stores equals death. One solution is central management where one mistake kills everybody. The real solution is for everyone to be personally responsible for keeping enough stores on hand to work with colony production rates which economic signals will manages without any central control.

        Martians will be adults that understand their own personal responsibilities. Those that don’t may not survive. The result is a better community.

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