The Moon, Mars and Beyond: The Tech Behind the New Space Race

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
Great article with a lot of good insight. The one remaining question is how politics will affect space. In early days there were mutual agreements not to militarize space but that appears to have slipped by, even if unnoticed. Will we suffer from multiple claims on the moon and other planets/satellites and those disagreements erupt, will we see something more aligned to military campaigns to reclaim "property" and planets?
It might not seem to be a big thing now, but imagine a major conflict that not only includes battles on earth but reaching to the moon and beyond. We are already stressing this planet and it's ability to sustain life, the future could be incredible or disastrous depending upon the choices made. We are rapidly approaching a time when the world needs to think as one planet and end all the bickering or we will all certainly be doomed.
 

p51d007

TS Evangelist
If there is money to be made, let PRIVATE industry do the "space race 2.0". The government will screw it up, cost 2-3 times (at least) more and take 2-3 times as long to achieve it. Otherwise, let unmanned missions do the exploring.
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
We are already stressing this planet and it's ability to sustain life, the future could be incredible or disastrous depending upon the choices made. We are rapidly approaching a time when the world needs to think as one planet and end all the bickering or we will all certainly be doomed.
IMO, we are already there. Now if we can only overcome the "it's mine, all mine" attitudes that stand in the way.
 
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TomSEA

TechSpot Chancellor
I dabble in amateur astronomy (have a 5.1" reflector scope), and follow space flight progress very closely.

This was an excellent article hitting all the high points of past and present space flight. A very enjoyable - and accurate - read.
 
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Markoni35

TS Addict
Each mission to the Moon costed around 1.5 billion 2019 dollars. Well... that doesn't sound so much. Wasn't WhatsApp bought for 19 billion dollars? That means they could have financed all 11 missions to the Moon (preceding and including Apollo 11) and still save a few billions of change. For a crappy app that a team of engineers could make in 6 months. Compared to those huge Saturn V rockets and everything that comes with them.

Nowadays it would be a lot cheaper. I wonder whether Elon Musk will be able to put the man on the Moon (for the first time, or again, depending who you ask). Using his reusable rockets.
 
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Gezzer

TS Enthusiast
I appreciate your inclusion of asteroids in this article. IMHO it's a often overlooked incentive and resource for catapulting man into space on a permanent basis.

One aspect I see very little talk of is not just the fact that they can be mined for resources but they could also be utilized as a spaceship to take us to Mars. When you talk of spaceships most people visualize sleek almost bullet like vehicles. But for travel in the vacuum of space any shape will work. The Borg cube is just as valid a shape as the more streamline Enterprise.

So IMHO we simply need to pick out a suitable asteroid and send propulsion drones to it. Calculate the needed trajectory for it to end up in a close lunar orbit and fire the propulsion engines, making any course correction when it drew closer as needed. We could then go to work mining it resources but in the process also creating a habitat for sending it to Mars.

Once suitably prepared you simply strap a fission engine on to one side and send it towards Mars. The asteroid would supply shielding, habitat, resources, ect for not only the voyage to Mars but once there and in a stable orbit become a station to base exploration and eventual colonization from.

While I admire the many plans to do it sooner using a more conventional system I also think they're quite fool hardy. Musk will get his wish of dying on Mars if he chooses to utilize conventional means of getting there. Mars is simply too far away to utilize those means and we need to be smart about how we pursue this goal IMHO.
 
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treetops

TS Evangelist
I appreciate your inclusion of asteroids in this article. IMHO it's a often overlooked incentive and resource for catapulting man into space on a permanent basis.

One aspect I see very little talk of is not just the fact that they can be mined for resources but they could also be utilized as a spaceship to take us to Mars. When you talk of spaceships most people visualize sleek almost bullet like vehicles. But for travel in the vacuum of space any shape will work. The Borg cube is just as valid a shape as the more streamline Enterprise.

So IMHO we simply need to pick out a suitable asteroid and send propulsion drones to it. Calculate the needed trajectory for it to end up in a close lunar orbit and fire the propulsion engines, making any course correction when it drew closer as needed. We could then go to work mining it resources but in the process also creating a habitat for sending it to Mars.

Once suitably prepared you simply strap a fission engine on to one side and send it towards Mars. The asteroid would supply shielding, habitat, resources, ect for not only the voyage to Mars but once there and in a stable orbit become a station to base exploration and eventual colonization from.

While I admire the many plans to do it sooner using a more conventional system I also think they're quite fool hardy. Musk will get his wish of dying on Mars if he chooses to utilize conventional means of getting there. Mars is simply too far away to utilize those means and we need to be smart about how we pursue this goal IMHO.
Wouldn't the force it would take to land you on a moving asteroid also be all you need to get to mars?
 

Lounds

TS Maniac
Great article with a lot of good insight. The one remaining question is how politics will affect space. In early days there were mutual agreements not to militarize space but that appears to have slipped by, even if unnoticed. Will we suffer from multiple claims on the moon and other planets/satellites and those disagreements erupt, will we see something more aligned to military campaigns to reclaim "property" and planets?
It might not seem to be a big thing now, but imagine a major conflict that not only includes battles on earth but reaching to the moon and beyond. We are already stressing this planet and it's ability to sustain life, the future could be incredible or disastrous depending upon the choices made. We are rapidly approaching a time when the world needs to think as one planet and end all the bickering or we will all certainly be doomed.
The moon should be exempt from private property, if we **** the moon up, the effects on earth would be devastating.
 

ChrisH1

TS Addict
Good article, interesting. One little correction: 20+ minutes is the *maximum* time for a radio signal to reach mars from earth or vice-versa, not the minimum. The minimum is under 4 minutes (sanity check: minimum separation, about 55 million kilometers, speed of light around 300,000 km/sec, a/b = 183 seconds. Average works out to be about 13 minutes. Maximum separation about 400 million, a/b= ~1340 seconds.
 

neeyik

TS Guru
Staff member
Good catch! Thanks for the feedback - I'll update the article later today to reflect this and more to clarify what I was meaning by the '20 mins' (I.e. on average it will take 20 mins to receive an answer to a question, compare to the couple of seconds for the Moon missions).
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
I appreciate your inclusion of asteroids in this article. IMHO it's a often overlooked incentive and resource for catapulting man into space on a permanent basis.

One aspect I see very little talk of is not just the fact that they can be mined for resources but they could also be utilized as a spaceship to take us to Mars. When you talk of spaceships most people visualize sleek almost bullet like vehicles. But for travel in the vacuum of space any shape will work. The Borg cube is just as valid a shape as the more streamline Enterprise.

So IMHO we simply need to pick out a suitable asteroid and send propulsion drones to it. Calculate the needed trajectory for it to end up in a close lunar orbit and fire the propulsion engines, making any course correction when it drew closer as needed. We could then go to work mining it resources but in the process also creating a habitat for sending it to Mars.

Once suitably prepared you simply strap a fission engine on to one side and send it towards Mars. The asteroid would supply shielding, habitat, resources, ect for not only the voyage to Mars but once there and in a stable orbit become a station to base exploration and eventual colonization from.

While I admire the many plans to do it sooner using a more conventional system I also think they're quite fool hardy. Musk will get his wish of dying on Mars if he chooses to utilize conventional means of getting there. Mars is simply too far away to utilize those means and we need to be smart about how we pursue this goal IMHO.
One aspect of using an asteroid for a spaceship would be sealing it against vacuum. Speaking from experience in constructing a vacuum system that achieved pressures of 10^-6 Torr, that could be a challenge. Holes that are so small you cannot see them existed in my system even though I thought I had soldered/brazed all the joints. Depending on the nature of the asteroid, it could literally be full of holes. Even an iron rich asteroid might not be solid and vacuum impervious. Creating a human-suitable habitat on an asteroid would be a challenge, IMO.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Each mission to the Moon costed around 1.5 billion 2019 dollars. Well... that doesn't sound so much. Wasn't WhatsApp bought for 19 billion dollars? That means they could have financed all 11 missions to the Moon (preceding and including Apollo 11) and still save a few billions of change. For a crappy app that a team of engineers could make in 6 months. Compared to those huge Saturn V rockets and everything that comes with them.

Nowadays it would be a lot cheaper. I wonder whether Elon Musk will be able to put the man on the Moon (for the first time, or again, depending who you ask). Using his reusable rockets.
For an exceptionally well-done and interesting, IMO, look at the Apollo missions and all that it took to make them happen, there is a superb, six-part series out there - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1203167 Apparently, its on Amazon Prime; however, your local library might have a copy of it, too.

While watching this series, I often found myself saying that it was a total miracle that the missions went as well as they did. Truly an amazing series and a great example of what humans can do when they work together. There were something like 500,000 people that worked on the project.
 

Gus Fring

TS Member
From what I have read .. SpaceX are using steel (custom) rather than carbon fiber because it can withstand re-entry heat better. Carbon fiber is on the cusp of turning to jelly at re-entry heat. Its also much much cheaper (100-1 ratio). And its easier to fabricate in large quantitys. Its starting to look like Virgin galactic will never fulfil its promises. Also musk can use his cheap launch capability to loft his thousands of Spacelink internet sats.
It truly is due to the agility of private run companys that advances are racing ahead. Now we just need nuclear motors for Beyond earth missions. Good article.
 
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ShagnWagn

TS Guru
Love the article! Read every bit of it.

What's the difference of then and now? Back then it was not sustainable. The current methods are much more financially stable. We should not see another "cold" length in the space race. I foresee a slow but steady push forward.
 
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