From time to time we choose a topic that I think is more a litmus test of your personal outlook that some insightful dribble coming from the Porcelain High Priest. As horrid as the world is right now I still believe in the basic decency of man. I really do believe we can achieve almost anything we strive too. Except noticing when she changes her hair: simply a bridge too far.
So yeah, I think SpaceX will do this. Perhaps not on Elon time, Musk says maybe five years, but this is a goal we can achieve. I’ll go one step further, mankind has two shots at Mars in less than twenty years: SpaceX & China.
The Chinese say they will have boots on the ground by 2033. The people who do this for a living say that’s too optimistic. Yesterday, on YouTube the word propaganda was used to describe that timeline. No matter, they can be several years late and still land in less than twenty.
There is a decent chance China will beat SpaceX to the ground. And it has nothing to do with rockets or Mars. Jeff Bezos has already been successful in delaying Artemis by not less than six months. Sue Origin and the other legacy aerospace multinationals are throwing money at the problem. Not by building better moon landers but by building better campaign contributions and lobbyist.
When SpaceX won the contract to get 2.9 billion to build the moon lander, Bezos sued to force NASA to give Sue Origin (not a typo) second place in the awards with a contract well over 10 billion. So, yeah, first place gets 2.9 and second receives over 10.
Of course Bezos is not even the worst, Boeing needs nationalizing. To simply cancel all contracts is not really a thing. But these guys have gone total Wall Street. Their jets dive into the ground, their Starliner sucks so bad it should be scrapped, the Gawd-awful SLS booster uses Shuttle tech over 50 years old (to save money) and they even wrote some special software to screw that up. How many people have to die, how many years wasted, how many billions flushed away before the old white people in the C-Suite at Boeing are told to go home. Of course, the answer is never because they have already made the proper campaign contributions.
So, back to our story: Can SpaceX do this? I say yes, easily. But there is a real chance they will not be allowed to. China may be the first to Mars… we will know in maybe two years. If China is first, it will be because that’s how the US Government wants it. Example: the FAA has only approved five test flights of the Star Ship for all of next year. SpaceX can use that in 90 days. Now why do you suppose the FAA would do that?
Mars in 20?
No way will man set foot upon Mars in the next 20 years.
At least that is what I hope for. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved the idea that we, us humans, always try to do what seems to be impossible. I agree that is how is always was.
I was born 7 years after WW2 ended – within 17 years, the Americans had already set foot upon the Moon. One of the great achievements of humankind. Of course, it came with a caveat. It was unbelievably expensive, but it had little to do with science – it was mostly about sticking two fingers up at Russia.
I still wonder at the expertise that made it work – you could almost understand how some people thought it was impossible and started the outrageous conspiracy theories.
But Mars is such a different concept. So much further away than our moon, a journey that would take months, not days, with astronauts having to give up years of their lives using current technology. Some estimates say it will cost an equivalent of 500 billion dollars to come even close.
I honestly think we need to look after, or rather save, our planet from extinction before we find a place in which to hibernate.
Climate change reduction is what we need to get right, and soon, so that’s what we should be spending those billions on, before we even contemplate an alternative. There is no point getting one or two humans safely to Mars, if we cannot continue to live on our own planet.
I have little faith in our politicians, but saving our planet has to come first. And I think it will, at the expense of inter-planetary exploitation.
20 years? No chance.
Mars in 20 years?
I’ve always been fascinated by Mars and human efforts to reach it. Thus, the first thing that comes to my mind is: why is it in 20 years? If you visit the NASA website and check out their mission content, you will find out that the first human landing on Mars is planned to take place somewhere after 2030. This makes it less than two decades for humans to reach the Red Planet.
Sceptics might argue that these are just paper plans but this is simply not true. This is some serious stuff. Since the mid-90s, when the modern age of Mars exploration had begun, NASA has been carefully implementing its chain of mission with the ultimate goal to land humans on Mars. There’s already been an array of orbiters, landers and rovers to explore the planet from every possible angle, from the Mars Global Surveyor and Spirit/Opportunity to Curiosity and Perseverance, the newest rover.
Its goal is to look for the traces of life on Mars, past or present. Currently – and I’m following the mission – it is collecting the samples of Martian soil. Then, at the second stage of the mission, another probe would land, take those samples and return them back to Earth for further research. This is a very complicated mission. Moreover, technologically it is very promising for further missions – having the ultimate goal to send humans to Mars – and, even more importantly, return them to Earth safely.
Recently NASA has already started recruiting people for astronauts/ engineers / researchers positions for Mars landing missions planned to happen after 2030. Partly it is a good PR campaign, but its core purpose is to actually begin selecting Mars mission landing personnel.
Plus, let’s not forget about Elon Musk’s and other private Mars exploration efforts. These guys might create some competition though they lack the experience/practices NASA has. Time will tell how serious is it.
So, as Mars exploration enthusiasts put it: Mars is waiting!