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The Sahara desert is infinitely more hospitable than Mars. It's easier to get to. There's air to breath. There's water.

The main reason to terraform Mars (other than making humanity a multi-planet species) is that no one cares about Mars. If we want more water on Mars, we just throw a few hundred icebergs into it. And ignore the sonic booms, devastation, craters, etc. They can be fixed later.

But living on Mars is another prospect entirely. It's expensive to get there. Once there, you're damned closed to dying every minute of every day. If you forgot something on Earth, it will be 2 years before you can retrieve it.

It's sexy in science fiction, but the practicalities are pretty bad.




It's so easy to call out all the problems.

Let them die.

I'd go die on Mars. It's Mars.

I think there are just different kinds of people in the world. Some of us hear "It's Mars," and that's all the justification needed. Nothing else matters. Not the cost, not the danger, not the practicalities.

Your opinion is equally valid. But it's important to recognize the flipside.

On Mars, the frontier exists. I've wished for it all my life.


Man, n-gate is going to have so much fun with this thread.

"A rich Internet wants to kill people by sending them to Mars. A hackernews says this is his true life's calling. Hackernews then debates the meaning of love, rationality, and backups."


"The Rust Evangelism Strikeforce lingers in the distance, not sure how to leverage the color of Martian dust to their advantage but convinced of the feasibility of the endeavor."


> Some of us hear "It's Mars," and that's all the justification needed. Nothing else matters. Not the cost, not the danger, not the practicalities.

You sound like you know this is irrational, but you don't care.


Certainly. Our irrationality is why we're here. Launching a ship toward America was irrational. The scientists of the time could tell you with absolute certainty you'd die if your goal was to get to Asia by sailing west.

We won't be discovering any new land, nor will we be surprised by anything. But that energy -- the fact that people want to go there, and want to colonize it -- that's rare. That's why the Sahara isn't the frontier.

Love, in many ways, is completely irrational. There are countless advantages to spending your life alone. You'd conserve resources, you'd avoid heartbreak. If you want children, you can adopt. You could probably find someone to live with you, if you just want companionship.

But the irrationality makes the experience.


> Love, in many ways, is completely irrational

At least I know what love is. So when someone does something foolish for love, I understand.

But when someone tells me he wants to spend billions to live in a small box on a cold, airless desert planet constantly bombarded by lethal radiations, and when he justifies that by "that's mars, and that's the only justification I need", I tend to think that's quite an other level of irrationality.


Most of us already live in a small box in a cold desert. It's just cold in a different way.

I'm not sure Mars will turn out differently. But in the early days, the people will be unique. And that's worth experiencing, even if it's for a short while.

When you're in a situation where you could die tomorrow, and you're with other people who signed up knowing those risks, it's different than almost any other experience available to humans.

Yes, it's a form of craziness. But a dose of crazy can sometimes work out in rather interesting ways.

Or it won't. But there are worse ways to light billions on fire.

People have been writing stories about Mars for a long time. Isn't it worth a few billion dollars and a few million lives to bring those stories to life?


> Isn't it worth a few billion dollars and a few million lives to bring those stories to life?..

Do you really mean this, I mean, I don't even....


You bet. What are our lives worth? I think spawning a new world is a fine use.

Also, that "lives" figure is counting the descendants of the people that eventually make a life for themselves on Mars. Those descendants won't get a choice, and one could argue it's unethical to put them in that position. So any analysis of how many lives Mars is worth must take this into account. And if it's anywhere near successful, a few million lives is at the low end.


Yeah, I'm still pissed that my ancestors left England for the Americas in the 1600s. I didn't get any say in the matter and it was totally unethical of them to put me in this position. So selfish. Sad.


Did you also count the amount of lives that could be saved here on earth for the same amount of money.

What about their descendants? (by the way, who has a much better chance of surviving here on earth than in the fragile conditions in what ever planet)...


If you're going for raw cost/benefit, there's a good argument to be made for the cost/benefit ratio of being a multi-planet species safe from planet-killing asteroids etc.


Then don't. But look at human history and you'll find endless examples of people risking everything for causes they believed in. How much is making a real dent in the universe, and being on a list of names that will be revered as long as human records survive worth?


> people risking everything for causes they believed in..

And often have been taken advantage of....Just saying...


Everyone is going to die, but few will be remembered. Those who first go to Mars will be remembered long after their deaths. Whether they are remembered as being crazy or colonizers, they will be remembered. For many that is enough.


Most people have trouble naming more than 3 Apollo astronauts, I wouldn't hold out much hope for living in people's memories.


I'm thinking more of history books or Wikipedia type of remembering.


Again, we're not talking about going to mars for the sake of it, like someone climbing the Everest because nobody has ever done it.

There's even a saying : "nobody remembers the second person who climbed the Everest".

We're talking about colonization, not Everest-like conquest. Most colonizers will be anonymous. Whatever goals they'll have, fame will not be one of them.


I'm not even sure who the first person was, but I bet Wikipedia can tell me their names. That's the kind of remembering I'm thinking of.


> Launching a ship toward America was irrational.

uhh.. no it wasn't?


It was.

Nobody educated thought the Earth was flat. But Christopher Columbus miscalculated the size of the Earth, and everyone else correctly calculated it.

There was no way that Columbus's ships could cover a distance equal to the width of the Atlantic + the width of the Pacific + the width of North America. They would've all starved to death before they reached their actual goal: the islands east of Asia (or Asia proper).

It wasn't a calculated risk to find new land, they were trying to go to existing land and Columbus was just convinced that it was much, much, much closer than it actually was. Despite the fact that pretty close estimates of the size of the world had been calculated for a long time before him.


> But Christopher Columbus miscalculated the size of the Earth, and everyone else correctly calculated it.

There's a difference between being wrong and being irrational.


Yeah. He was both.


The earth was flat according to many people.


This isn't true. It was well-understood from antiquity that Earth was round--had to be, otherwise stuff like Eratosthenes's measuring of Earth wouldn't...well...work. It's a trivial thing to observe, too: if you're high enough over the ground, you can see horizon curvature. That knowledge was not, contrary to popular thought, widely lost during the Middle Ages even in Europe and definitely not in the Eastern Roman Empire or places east.

Serious flat-Earth thought was ideologically motivated in the late 19th and early 20th century and bears some interesting parallels to climate change denialism.


>This isn't true. It was well-understood from antiquity that Earth was round...

Among educated people able to afford and read a copy of Eratosthenes yes, but there were probably a lot of ordinary people that were not literate and were never exposed to any actual evidence to the contrary,who believed it was flat.

Flat earthers in the modern world really do have no excuse, education in the basic geometry and simple tools they need to prove it themselves is near universal in the Western world, but back then it was perhaps more understandable


>Among educated people able to afford and read a copy of Eratosthenes

who were the ones capable of funding the project in the first place


Education in basic sciences and simple tools are all people need to prove that the creation myths in <religious text> are not true, but that doesn't stop the vast bulk of humanity from subscribing to those stories.


It still exists among right-wing conspiranoids determined to believe that absolutely everything is a lie.


Not really, certainly not those who sailed ships.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_the_flat_Earth


It still is!


> Launching a ship toward America was irrational. The scientists of the time could tell you with absolute certainty you'd die if your goal was to get to Asia by sailing west.

At least they had a goal, even the trip was risky. I was replying to a comment from someone who wrote "It's mars. That's all the justification I need".


Ah. In that case: the goal is to colonize Mars. But you knew that.

I think what you're looking for is a justification. Like love, sometimes there isn't one.

Maybe it's a waste of resources. But it's theirs to waste.

It's awesome, in the original sense of the word. That's the justification.


> But it's theirs to waste.

Not quite, since as Musk admits in this paper, he expects this madness to be "a huge public–private partnership".

So yeah, he expects tax-payer money to contribute.


> So yeah, he expects tax-payer money to contribute.

Why wouldn't he? NASA has spent billions on Mars exploration. I suspect they'd jump at the chance to fund a few Geologist-in-Residence positions on Mars.


We already spend significant amounts of taxpayer money sending random probes to other planets. What makes you think it'd be a bad idea to divert some of that money to sending humans instead? Especially if there are people who want to go and SpaceX manages to make it cheap enough for that to be viable.


> We already spend significant amounts of taxpayer money sending random probes to other planets.

I tend to think scientific research deserves public funding. What musk advocates is not for scientific research, it's basically an extremely weird and expensive real estate project. And I don't think real estate deserves public funding, no matter how exotic it is.

And even if I did not think scientific research deserves public funding, that would not matter, for a wrong should not justify an other wrong.


If you believe that sending probes to Mars has scientific value, by what argument are you claiming that sending humans does not? I would think that humans could accomplish far more on Mars than a rover like Curiosity ever could.


We're talking about colonization, not manned exploration.


You don't think a colony would have scientists?

I'd expect NASA to buy enough slots to found an Institute of Martian Studies pretty quickly.


> You don't think a colony would have scientists?

Not a million of them. And if its purpose was scientific it wouldn't have to be "self-sufficient". Science is not Musk's goal. He wants to put people there for the sake of it.


But the government wouldn't need to pay to send a million of them. Just enough to send the people they want to send, along with associated equipment, plus the costs of feeding and housing them.

Remember, we're only talking about the portion of the mission funded by tax dollars here. Not all of the funding is going to come from that source.


A self-sufficient society will rapidly need universities, and I'd expect them to initially be fairly heavy on things like geology majors given the location.


" And if its purpose was scientific it wouldn't have to be 'self-sufficient'."

It would if the experiment is to test whether or not a self-sufficient human settlement beyond Earth is possible.

There's always scientific value in everything we do. It's just a matter of cashing in on that value.


Reminds me of this post I saw last week or so..

https://dissention.wordpress.com/2017/06/06/the-business-mod...


A worldwide disaster happens and all of humanity on Earth dies. Wouldn't it be nice if humans, as a species, could continue living on Mars?


What might plausibly happen to Earth that'd make it less appealing than Mars, even temporarily? You've gotta practically melt the whole planet's surface or strip a bunch of its atmosphere or something wild like that to even maybe reach that point. Hell, all the oceans could simply vanish tomorrow and this place'd still be less awful than Mars (though obviously very, very bad—which just emphasizes how truly terrible a habitat Mars is, that we can go to such extremes and still not have made Earth as bad).


People and unpredictability.

In any worldwide disaster on earth, there are going to be a lot of people competing to survive. Building large fragile structures to, e.g., keep the now poisonous atmosphere out because people outside of those structures will have a tendency to destroy them. On mars, you don't have that, you have a relatively stable society where everyone is in one boat together.

If your on mars you also know exactly what you're going to face. The temperature, lack of significant atmosphere, and dust storms. That's pretty much it. You can prepare. On earth you don't know what's going to happen next. Significant die off of oxygen generating plants creating an unbreathable atmosphere? Lack of water? Too much water (flooding)? Hurricane? Nuclear war (or super volcano/asteroid, but those are less likely) throwing up dust and blocking out sun? Unmaintained dam breaking upstream? Unmaintained pipeline poisoning water supply? Earthquake? You can prepare for any one event, even in a post apocalyptic world, better on earth than on mars. But you can't necessarily prepare for them all as well. And even if you could, you won't be motivated to because you can cut corners.


>If your on mars you also know exactly what you're going to face. The temperature, lack of significant atmosphere, and dust storms. That's pretty much it. You can prepare. On earth you don't know what's going to happen next...

Is Mars somehow immune to volcanos and asteroids?

Man some people really want to get off this planet! Earth has given birth and sustained life for so long, and now earth is "unpredictable"!

No comments about your other "arguments".


Volcanoes, yes. There is no molten core.

Asteroids, no, but it is likely more immune to long term dust clouds in the atmosphere as a result (since the atmosphere is so thin). On the other hand dust storms are similar.


> Volcanoes, yes. There is no molten core.

Seems like we are not really sure about that...

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11962-lab-study-indic...


That's interesting. Still no volcanoes (or other seismic activity) has been observed on mars, so it's pretty safe to say it's not something to worry about.


> That's interesting. Still no volcanoes (or other seismic activity) has been observed on mars, so it's pretty safe to say it's not something to worry about.

I am not sure. Can you say how we have been looking for seismic/volcanic activity on mars.


Actually, there's at least one. There are essentially cosmic death rays that travel at the speed of light, undetectable until they reach us. I wish I could remember what they're called, but they're generated by black holes consuming stars, and they have far more energy than the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs.

It's implausible that one will hit us, but if you're looking for a scientific and logical motivation, it's a possibility.

Also, colonizing mars is a necessary step toward avoiding what happens when our star reaches the end of its life. May as well start while we have the opportunity.


Is it plausible that a cosmic death ray from afar could be so tightly focused that it didn't irradiate the entire inner solar system but only Earth?


I'm no astrophysicist, but I think I can answer this one.

No, it is not plausible.

Most bodies in the solar system easily fit into a hundred astronomical unit radius sphere. The nearest star is four light-years away, and a light year is eighty-six thousand astronomical units. The ratio between those distances is 2530[1]. It'd be like hitting a meter size target from more than two and a half kilometer. Pretty good shot, and we're talking about Proxima centaury (which, last time I checked, won't go supernova anytime soon) and the distance between say Sedna and the Sun. If we were talking about an accuracy more of an astronomical unit, more like the distance between Earth and mars, then we're talking about a centimeter sized target.

Thus a gamma-ray burst would have to be insanely narrow to hit Earth and not mars. Not to mention how ridiculously unlucky we would have to be then in order for it to be precisely aimed at us.

1. https://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=four+light-year+divide...


Mother Jupiter misses a catch and an asteroid hits the Earth, wiping out all life as we know it. Think world-ending events - as rare/far-fetched as they may be.

Some people don't want all of our eggs in one basket. The chances a planet gets destroyed is a bit higher than a solar system or multiple planets.

Also one counter-argument to this is "But then why not the Moon?" I don't have as strong of a counterargument for that other than without the Earth's gravitational pull keeping the Moon in orbit, maybe it will get knocked into the sun or something when Earth is destroyed. Also I'm pretty sure international treaties and such prevent colonization of the moon.


I'd think even a dinosaur-killer-stricken earth with all kinds of climate and other problems would still be a lot more pleasant to live on than Mars. I mean, if you imagine an Earth that's been totally ruined in every imaginable way you're basically describing Mars, but still better because at least there's 1G of gravity and a really good built-in radiation shield.


The actual answer to "why not the Moon?" is - AFAICT - because it's less likely to be able to sustain a human population. Notably, there's a significant shortage of water compared to even Mars (though recent discoveries seem to indicate that there might be more water than previously thought).


I think this is a case where Black Swans apply. You can't assume you know what the all the risks actually are, and in that case diversification is a good thing.


If we are capable to live on mars, we can live on Earth no matter what could plausibly happen to it.

Mars as a contingency plan is a weird idea. Whatever you plan on doing on mars to save mankind, you can do it much easier and for less money on Earth.


This sounds like an argument against backup plans in principal.

The idea of backups is to have another, "just in case". You can't always know, so have as many backups as you can afford.

But here are some concrete examples of threats that make earth a bad deal while leaving mars workable:

A nuclear war would like leave mars untouched and destroy civilization here. Even if earth is still "inhabitable" is doesn't matter if all the human on it are dead. Human Martians coming back a generation later and start anew or integrate with any meagre survivors.

A religious inspired genocide that works. If some group somehow got it in their heads that "technology is bad except for the purpose of destroying other technology" this would be bad. If this group goes to war with western democracy and wins it would be worse. This does sound a lot like one specific group that is currently not able to reach mars, and likely never will be able to no many how many western democracies the attack.

Any disaster that destroys then is done. Imagine a super-ebola that kills all humans. Because germs don't have a reliable space program mars is save and can wait 50 before sending scientists to check it out and trying to repopulate.


> You can't always know, so have as many backups as you can afford.

A backup on mars is basically the most ludicrously expensive backup you can imagine. It's as if when I make a backup for my hard-drive in Europe, I rent a safe in Japan to put it in. That would not make sense unless I think the whole European continent could be wiped out somehow. That's the thing : I don't think anything, not even the possibilities you mention, could make Earth worse a place to live than mars, not even a nuclear war. And I don't see a scenario that would wipe out all humans. Again, not even a nuclear war.

And even if one of these scenarios could indeed wipe out humans, chances are that in a world where interplanetary travel is cheap, mars would not be spared.


I think whatever is on your disk is less valuable than humanity as a species. I think the amount of backup you can "afford" should be relative to the value of the thing being backed up.

Backing up is also not the strongest reason to go to Mars. "Because its there" is easily the strongest, but its not understood by those who don't understand it... That seems tautological, but it is hard to label this thing, it is like a sense of adventure but less childish. It is the same thing started every other exploration into the unknown and left everyone who stayed behind alive and poorer for it. When it pays it pays off in vast sums, literal new worlds are the payoff.


"Because its there" is the argument of mountain-climbers[1]. That can be an argument for an Apollo-style mission, not for a colonization project.

1. Mallory is famously quoted as having replied to the question "Why did you want to climb Mount Everest?" with the retort "Because it's there", which has been called "the most famous three words in mountaineering". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Mallory


I am well aware of the quote and its use in stopping analysis for a further reason, because it is the reason.

I don't see why there is a threshold between moonshot and mars colonization, it seems arbitrary to me. Could you explain to me the method for determining the threshold of validity in the reasoning behind "Because it's there"?


> You sound like you know this is irrational, but you don't care.

It sounds to me like this person simply cares more about the prospect of living on Mars than about being wealthy, or being safe. There's no rule that says that a rational person must care about their own health, wealth, and safety above all else.


No, that's missing the point. People have differing values and goals, and as a result will have different assessments of whether this project is worthwhile. Given their different values, goals, and priorities, it's a rational decision.


If rationality was the only thing that mattered in life, we'd all be dead.


"Rational" is overrated, I think a better goal is something like "avoid stupidity".

There are plenty of things that seem irrational because people don't calibrate their risk/reward calculations correctly. Anything can be made irrational with the wrong set of presumptions. History is strewn with wrong "rational" arguments, like phlogiston which started with things we all knew were true and reached the only rational answer. People make mistake in deciding what to include their "rational" calculations.

I am not saying rational logic is a bad tool, but it certainly shouldn't be the only tool. Clearly we need some way to filter out seemingly irrational but beneficial activities like exploration from actually irrational and detrimental activities, like sub-prime lending without losing all control. For rational logic to work you need to be able to fill in all (or at least most) of the blanks, and it you can't always do that.


There's no "rational" or "irrational" in wanting things, only in how you go about getting what you want.


You sound like you know this is irrational, but you don't care.

I have often wondered if rationality isn't in the eye of the beholder.


Most of what we do is irrational. Entertainment is irrational. Music is irrational. Sex for pleasure is irrational. Climbing Mt. Everest is doubly irrational, since lots of people have already done it so it's nothing all that special.

So just call manned space exploration and settlement an extreme sport. We spend far more money on existing sports and sport-related media than we do on space.


> Most of what we do is irrational. Entertainment is irrational. Music is irrational. Sex for pleasure is irrational.

None of those things are inherently irrational; they produce utility (subjective enjoyment is the definition of utility), and insofar as they are chosen against other alternatives to maximize realized utility, it's exactly rational.

Now, the absence of perfect knowledge and the fact that even with knowledge people don't always optimize total expected utility does mean that people are irrational, but the particular activities you point to are not inherently examples of irrationality any more than, say, investing in the stock market or wage labor are.


Humans tend to have an irrational desire to explore and wander beyond the safety and comfort of home.


Most of the important things in life worth doing are irrational.


More like arational. Rationality is a tool to efficiently accomplish goals, what ultimate goals you choose to pursue is not a question that rationality is designed to answer.


Most of the important things in life worth doing are rational.


The real problem is the intersection of people who can afford it and people who want to go. Mars will need more people than that intersection to be successful.

The human race needs a loss-leader.


As Musk's plans describe, the problem is that today that intersection is nonexistent. It's perhaps on the order of $10 billion dollars per person, with a minimum flight of 10-20 people all paying that.

But it doesn't need to be a loss leader. If that cost was reduced by some 5 orders of magnitude, more people could afford it, and that intersection could grow enough to be viable.


I'd go for a one way trip. I'd be a guinea pig. I've had a good life and contributed to society here. I don't care if I die at this point, and dying on a trip to Mars would be a worthwhile way to go


Why should we spend resources so that you can die on mars? Do you realize how much fuel that costs? What is the ROI of you dying on mars?


Who's "we"? AFAIK Elon's current plan involves passengers paying for tickets out of their own pockets. That doesn't cover other overhead costs (like the creation of the necessary structures on Mars to sustain a colony) but it's certainly a significant step towards bringing costs down enough for people who want to go to do so.


Are you sure you'd still feel that once you're actually there? What if many people might believe what you say, but then quickly change their minds as soon as they find out how difficult and uncomfortable it is to live on Mars?


If this is actually a problem, it's easy to fix: have a required 6-month stay in a Mars simulation on Earth, complete with inedible food and unending labor.

I doubt that it would be, though. If someone not only claims that they want to toil and die on Mars, but actually gets a ticket to leave all their friends and family behind on Earth to do so... that's not the sort of thing that people do lightly.


Scientific and engineering ethics kind of stand in the way of letting people throw away their lives just because it's cool.


If that were the case, we'd have never got to the moon.


Apparently not. :)

Also, I'm not entirely convinced it will be a waste. Even a 0.2% chance of success is worth taking if the payoff is high enough. And we're talking about forces with both social and economic consequences.


We'd all still be in Africa with that kind of attitude.


No offense, but you sound like a person who hasn't been outdoors a lot, not even on an overnight hike.

I assure you, there are places on Earth that are effectively as remote and frontier-like as Mars, where you can comfortably die, knowing that no assistance was coming or possible.

If your goal is to make Mars hospitable, I suggest you do some back of the envelope math to see how much energy it would take to divert some water comets onto Mars and then to terraform it to create some sort of rudimentary atmosphere.

That should hopefully rid you of the naivete and hubris about space frontierism.


That's a really condescending post.

I camp, I hike in the woods daily, and I've been to some pretty remote places. I still feel the pull of Mars. It's not just the remoteness of it for me - it's the idea of influencing a new society from the ground up, of doing something unprecedented.


As opposed to sheer arrogance that was OP's post?

Escaping all the problems of Earth to try and rebuild a society from first principles?

You can pretend I was condescending and downvote all you like, but it doesn't change the facts that I stated. It's extremely naive and arrogant to spend the resources to colonize Mars than try and make more places habitable on Earth.

It's even more arrogant to believe that a Mars society will be any different or better than the society on Earth.


> As opposed to sheer arrogance that was OP's post?

What was arrogant in OP's post? They said they personally yearn for a new frontier, and that Mars satisfies it for them.

> It's even more arrogant to believe that a Mars society will be any different or better than the society on Earth.

It'd be an entire planet built with modern understanding of city planning, environmentalism, governance, etc. Whether a Martian society winds up better is hard to say, but different seems pretty certain.


>with modern understanding of city planning, environmentalism, governance, etc...

Do you know what is the root cause of everything that is messy with todays life on earth?

I would say it is human nature.

So if you are sending human to mars...I say it is only a matter of time......


"Human nature" encompasses the range from Somali warlords to Swiss efficiency. Some of what's messy with today's life on Earth is that we didn't know better - we clear-cut forests, we built Boston's streets to fit horses and not cars, we built houses before public transit, etc.

A city built from scratch in 2017 is going to look a lot different than a city that grew organically since the 1600s. Part of the appeal of Mars for me is the ability to build a planet knowing what we know now about city planning.


> we clear-cut forests

Have we stopped doing this since we have know better for a long time now?

> we built Boston's streets to fit horses and not cars, we built houses before public transit, etc.

You want to leave earth because streets are too crammed for cars? Seriously?


> Have we stopped doing this since we have know better for a long time now?

We're not perfect, but we've come a long ways from the excesses of the early Industrial Revolution in how we treat our environment. The developed world generally practices sustainable logging these days. A Martian colony would use clean energy, etc.

> You want to leave earth because streets are too crammed for cars? Seriously?

Congratulations on slaying the strawman. No, that's simply an minor example of how starting a planetary civilization with a fresh slate and modern knowledge could have benefits, despite "human nature".


OK. I will spell it out for you.

I think greed, insecurity and shortsighted thinking are the root causes of most evils on earth. Does going to mars fix that?


I think Mars offers us a chance to short-circuit some of that.

Fights over land? We'd be opening up an entire Earth's worth of surface area.

Fights over resources? See above.

Fights over oil? None.

Fights over arbitrarily-drawn national boundaries drawn by collapsing colonialist empires? None.

It's remarkably pessimistic to argue that colonizing a new planet after two centuries of experience with industrialization, democracy, environmentalism, ex-colonialism, etc. under our belt wouldn't be at least slightly better than the situations we find ourselves in on Earth.


> It's remarkably pessimistic to argue that colonizing a new planet after two centuries of experience with industrialization, democracy, environmentalism, ex-colonialism, etc. under our belt wouldn't be at least slightly better than the situations we find ourselves in on Earth.

Do you know who will be still calling shots?

Politicians/Businessmen.

I am not even addressing the rest of your comment because that is quite frankly, very naive wishful thinking...You say that is pessimistic. But tell me, look around, do you see anything that make you feel even remotly optimistic?


> I think greed, insecurity and shortsighted thinking are the root causes of most evils on earth. Does going to mars fix that?

Are you saying that the only worthwhile thing to do is come up with something that completely fixes one or more of those things?

If not then what are you trying to argue there?

Looking at your other comments in this thread, for someone who thinks short-sighted thinking is a big problem you seem to have strange issue with solutions that aren't directly addressing the here and now.


>Are you saying that the only worthwhile thing to do is come up with something that completely fixes one or more of those things?

Not really

>what are you trying to argue there?

only how this mars thing won't solve anything in long term...

> who thinks short-sighted thinking is a big problem you seem to have strange issue with solutions that aren't directly addressing the here and now...

Of course. That you can see a mile ahead does not mean that you can ignore the pothole right in front of you.


What was condescending about my post?

> It'd be an entire planet built with modern understanding of city planning, environmentalism, governance, etc. Whether a Martian society winds up better is hard to say, but different seems pretty certain.

There's nothing stopping you from doing that in the inhospitable areas on Earth. If you bring the money and the plan, most governments will let you make a planned city.

This is precisely the arrogance I was talking about. Thinking it would be any different because of the extremely inhospitable conditions. If you don't see the arrogance here - I'm afraid there's nothing I can do to convince you of it. It's simply a difference of viewpoints.


The condescending things about your post were your implicit assumptions that the other poster was incapable of basic math, the presumption that as soon as he saw the basic the math he would turn to your way of thinking, the presumption that your way of thinking was clearly superior and finally calling him naive.

He desires to be part of something grand and huge at the beginning of an era, then you insult and deride his grand dream by belittling it and telling him to make a planned city. It seems to me that he would rather be the lowliest janitor on Mars than a Mayor of planned city here and you cannot fathom how that could be, so you presume he is wrong or confused

He wants something that is impossible now. This is a common human goal. You fail to understand human nature then claim to have all the answers. Your points may all have been correct, but they were not the points that were needed.

I am not saying either of you are wrong or right, but you clearly brought plenty of arrogance and condescension.


> What was condescending about my post?

Gee, probably the "If you'd just go camping you'd see your lifelong dream is bullshit" and "You're naïve and hubristic" bits.


Clearly, you're fine putting words in other people's mouths and making subjective claims about the nature of one's post.

You're fine rejecting my arguments for why his post is arrogant, but somehow yours about why my post is condescending are valid.

That's a toxic and arrogant way of arguing, so I'm not surprised you're projecting something I didn't say. Honestly I would have expected better from an HN audience, but techies are still people...

Also quite indicative of what would happen on Mars.


I'm not putting words in your mouth. Direct quotes: "No offense, but you sound like a person who hasn't been outdoors a lot, not even on an overnight hike." and "That should hopefully rid you of the naivete and hubris about space frontierism."


> It's extremely naive and arrogant to spend the resources to colonize Mars than try and make more places habitable on Earth.

Why?

And I'll note that insults and ad hominems don't make a rational argument.

> It's even more arrogant to believe that a Mars society will be any different or better than the society on Earth.

No one said that.

If your best arguments are insults and straw men... well, it's best to avoid a technical forum like HN where there are people trained in rationality, math, and rocket science.


>It's extremely naive and arrogant to spend the resources to colonize Mars than try and make more places habitable on Earth.

>It's even more arrogant to believe that a Mars society will be any different or better than the society on Earth.

100% agree on both points.

Spacex is just selling dreams. Sadly, people today are so enamored with technology that they easily buy into such dreams sold by these companies....


Dreams are how major progress is made, which is important when people realize incremental progress just won't cut it.

"I have a dream." -Martin Luther King Jr.


Sure sure..But those are ones own dreams. Not the ones sold to you in exchange for investment....

Big difference pal.


If I dream to be a writer, it's not a bad thing if someone's out there selling pens and paper.

I've dreamt about Mars colonization long before SpaceX existed.


> No offense, but you sound like a person who hasn't been outdoors a lot, not even on an overnight hike.

Was the article about taking an overnight hike on Mars?

Was my response about taking an overnight hike in the Sahara?

No. So why do you feel the need to lie about it?

> I assure you, there are places on Earth that are effectively as remote and frontier-like as Mars, where you can comfortably die, knowing that no assistance was coming or possible.

You're arguing against a point I didn't make.

Why?

> If your goal is to make Mars hospitable, I suggest you do some back of the envelope math to see how much energy it would take to divert some water comets onto Mars and then to terraform it to create some sort of rudimentary atmosphere.

Which is a suggestion, not a rational argument.

> That should hopefully rid you of the naivete and hubris about space frontierism.

Is it really that necessary to engage in ad hominems?

Apparently it's now OK on HN...


What a pessimistic outlook. People climb Everest for the challenge, not because its most convenient mountain. People sky dive, ski, mountain bike, and rock climb for the thrill of it. The men that crossed the Atlantic into the unknown in the face of near certain death are evangelized and their names taught to children in history books (there’s even a holiday for it!).

I think it’s a good thing that not all humans optimize for the most practical routes in life. It makes us more diverse and greater as a species, and pushes us to accomplish amazing feats that seem impractical on the surface. If everyone was optimizing for the lowest hanging fruits, who would invest in constructing the really tall ladders that future generations could build off of?

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

Embrace your inner childhood sense of adventure and wonder!


> People climb Everest for the challenge, not because its most convenient mountain.

Notice that once they reach the summit, they don't stay very long. They don't plan on building a home there and plant potatoes.

Musk is not just talking about exploring mars in this paper. He's not talking about a Everest-like challenge. He's talking about colonization, which in the eyes of many, is extremely premature at best, completely delusional at worst.


I’m not sure I follow. Should we not be impressed and respect someone capable of living off potatoes off the top of Everest? That would be incredible!

At the risk of using stale analogies: In the eyes of many, crossing the Atlantic was premature at best. In the eyes of many, summiting Everest is a waste of tens of thousands of dollars. In the eyes of many, free climbing is border-line delusional.

And that’s the point. This diversity of prioritization is what makes our species so great. Let the dreamers dream. I can see how you might want to make an argument that we shouldn’t publicly fund every naïve dreamer, but it seems difficult to argue that both NASA and Musk are idiots with how much they’ve already accomplished.

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”


NASA doesn't have the same objectives than Musk regarding mars. And I did not call Musk an idiot.

Look, I understand people can have dreams that I neither understand nor approve. As you correctly pointed out, as long as they don't divert tax payer money to fund them, I'm more or less fine with it.

Yet, when I see someone doing something that I consider silly, or even suicidal (for mars the term is almost appropriate), I feel compelled to at least say it loud. Like if I saw Franz Reichelt just before he jumped from the Eiffel tower[1]. I would say "don't do that, you'll kill yourself" and nobody should blame me for saying that. Well, in the case of the colonization of mars, to me that sounds like a terribly wasteful and dangerous idea, and I feel compelled to say it whenever the subject comes up.

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gsnVntGoxM


Sorry, didn't mean to put words in your mouth. I think you made a fair point. I was just responding with the other side of the coin to bring a little yang to the yin :)


What about the second order effects of pushing humanity closer to becoming a full fledged space faring civilization? You don't find any value in that?


>Notice that once they reach the summit, they don't stay very long. They don't plan on building a home there and plant potatoes.

If it was allowed, someone would have tried.


There are plenty of places on Earth that people explored, tried to colonize, and failed.

Australia for instance, is mostly empty for this very reason[1]. Why would mars be easier to colonize than Australia?

1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3320021/Maps-just-Au...


This is such a frail argument in my opinion. Have a look at Dubai for an example of what humanity is capable of when we put our effort into something. If we truly wanted to, we could colonize any area of the planet. We just have no real motive to do so. Colonizing Mars is just the next step for our species. It's going to force us to tackle some really, really big engineering and civil problems, but we're going to eventually get there because that's what we do. We explore and we create new civilizations. Always have, always will.


> Colonizing Mars is just the next step for our species.

Not quite. The next step is colonizing Earth. I agree we can do it if we really want to, and Dubai is a valid example. We may colonize mars in the future, but to me it doesn't make sense to try to do it now.


Why does it being "easier" matter?


"They don't plan on building a home there and plant potatoes."

Maybe they don't. I totally would.


Agreed. I would add that "living on mars" would be kind of a matter of speech. I mean, it would be more accurate to say you would live in a box that happens to be located on the surface of mars.

Mars is such an hostile environment that you'd have to live in a highly controlled, mostly closed artificial habitat. Basically, a human-grade terrarium. Saying that men in such terrariums live on mars would be just as much as a stretch as saying that fishes in aquariums live on the ground.

Honestly, if people enjoy living in a closed box, they can do it on Earth, they don't have to go to mars.


> Honestly, if people enjoy living in a closed box, they can do it on Earth, they don't have to go to mars.

Or perhaps some people care about things other than their immediate surroundings?


> Honestly, if people enjoy living in a closed box, they can do it on Earth, they don't have to go to mars.

This is a disingenuous strawman argument, and you know it.


I'm sorry, but I really don't see the point. Most of the things you would do on mars, you could do them on Earth for much less effort.

Exceptions are studying mars of course, and enjoying low-gravity. I don't see either one as a life-goal thing and anyway they are not the motivations that transpire from what I read from mars enthusiasts.

Call it a strawman argument if you want, but it's not disingenuous in the sense that it's my genuine, honest opinion.


It's disingenuous because you are implying that's why people want to go to mars, but that's obviously not the reason.

No one wants to simply live in a small box. It's a ridiculous assertion that waters down the discussion.


This is wrong on a fundamental level.

Humanity has always looked to colonize places seemingly on the margin of livability. Northern Europe, the arctic, the Eurasian steppes, etc. Our ability to live and thrive in different environments has come concomitant with our development of the technology to do so. We push to new environments because we can, we develop technology to better live in new environments because we're there, it goes hand in hand.

Living in the Sahara (aside from all the other problems) is not living on Mars, it won't depend on and push the development of technology for living off-Earth. Living on Mars will be hard. Harder than many people appreciate today. But the more we do it the easier it will get, and the faster our technology will advance for living off-Earth. By living on Mars we'll unlock our ability to live not just there but in space and on other planets. Colonizing Mars won't just give us Mars, it'll give us the stars. It'll kickstart the development of technologies that will enable self-reliant space habitats, which will give us, eventually, generation ships, and will also feedback to improving life on Earth (better recycling systems, better power systems, things we can't even envision today). That doesn't happen if you just try to spread out on Earth more.


> Humanity has always looked to colonize places seemingly on the margin of livability.

I think you're missing my point. It's just dreaming to call Mars "on the margin of livability". There's insufficient air to breath. No plants will grow there. There's no industry, etc. Every single thing outside of rocks and solar power will have to be brought from Earth.

> Northern Europe, the arctic, the Eurasian steppes, etc.

Comparing those places to Mars is again dreaming.

People have been living in those places for thousands of years, and subsisting on what they can grow / gather / kill locally.

No such local lifestyle is possible on Mars.

> By living on Mars we'll unlock our ability to live not just there but in space and on other planets.

How does that work?

Maybe some technology helps, but you can't get past the sheer volume of air / water required to terraform Mars. And once you've done that, it's all on Mars. You can't use it to do anything else.

I like science fiction as much as the next person, but your response is a fantastical vision of hope. It requires a hard-nosed engineering approach to turn that hope into reality.


"There's insufficient air to breath."

Only if we don't make the air ourselves, which is totally doable because...

"No plants will grow there."

They'll grow in greenhouses, and they'll even grow with Martian soil, probably even with the carbon dioxide that makes up the majority of the Martian atmosphere. Some clever genetic engineering might allow plants to grow outside of greenhouses. Mars is cold, but not that cold compared to other worlds in our solar system.

"There's no industry"

We're talking about a colony of a million people or more. With that kind of workforce available, bootstrapping an industrial complex is not insurmountable.

"water required"

Mars has actual ice caps. It might even have liquid water.

The water's not nearly as abundant as, say, Ceres (which is a giant sphere of water ice and rock), but it's not scarce, either. Just gotta land in the right spot.


Hand-waving is nice, but...

Plants don't make air. Plants turn CO2 into O2. If there's no CO2, plants can't make O2.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmosphere_of_Mars

There's 0.6% of the air of Earth. For all intents and purposes (i.e. human / plants), it's a vacuum.

And the surface temperature isn't much better.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of_Mars

-55C is common. An extreme heatwave at the equator is 20C. With lows of -153C.

So no, plants don't grow in a vacuum, and they don't grow in -55C.

Any greenhouse will have to be pressurized and sealed. This means that the main purpose of plants will be food, not O2 regeneration. Algae do O2 generation better and more efficiently than plants.

There is likely enough water for a small colony, if you can get to it, melt it, and it's in the right place.

> We're talking about a colony of a million people or more. With that kind of workforce available, bootstrapping an industrial complex is not insurmountable.

I suspect you severely underestimate the complexity of our industrial system.

It's very hard to create life-support on Mars for a million people. And a million people are nowhere near enough to create a modern industrial base, even with support from Earth.


Mars has abundant CO2, Water (ice), Nitrogen, and even phosphorous. Those are the big things you need to grow food.

What is this silliness of "for all intents and purposes it's a vacuum" and "plants don't grow in a vacuum"? Humans can build structures that hold pressure, we can build greenhouses on Mars. That's where we'll grow crops and feed the population of Mars. Please don't pollute the comments here if you're not even going to bother with the bare minimum of intellectual seriousness. Yes we can concentrate the atmosphere of Mars to higher pressures, this isn't even hard. Yes we can build structures to grow crops in. Yes we can keep structures insulated and heated to maintain higher temperatures than ambient outside conditions, as is done routinely across the globe every second of the day on Earth. Is that the limit of your straw-man argument here or do you have anything of substance to say?


> Please don't pollute the comments here if you're not even going to bother with the bare minimum of intellectual seriousness.

Ah, yes. The new HN. Everyone else is stupid and lazy.

> Yes we can keep structures insulated and heated to maintain higher temperatures than ambient outside conditions, as is done routinely across the globe every second of the day on Earth.

Please show me on-Earth greenhouses which are pressurized to 14PSI over external.

Constructing a greenhouse isn't hard. Constructing a pressurized greenhouse on Mars is rather a lot harder.

> Is that the limit of your straw-man argument here or do you have anything of substance to say?

Yes... everyone else is stupid and lazy. And has bad intentions. And isn't honest.

Welcome to the new HN. You could take my words at face value. But it's easier (and more intellectually dishonest) to assume the stupidest possible interpretation, and then attack them for your own inadequacies.


I vaguely recall reading that a population of apx 200mil is required to maintain a modern industrial society with all bells and whistles (e.g. semiconductor fabs, rockets, etc).


It's too cold to survive in the winter: Winnipeg, Anchorage, Oslo, even Chicago (solution: clothes, weatherproof shelters, heating during winter)

Nothing grows there, it's too dry: Saudi Arabia, San Joaquin valley, etc. (solution: irrigation or importation of food)

There's no industry: anywhere on Earth before humans lived there (solution: build industry there)

In comparison to the leaps that humans have historically achieved, the leap of 21st century man to colonize Mars is practically easy. Polynesians ranged across the Pacific Ocean, not even knowing what they would find until they got there.

Yes it will be hard. Uniquely difficult in the history of mankind? No. Impossibly hard? Also no.

Worthwhile? Almost certainly.

You don't need to terraform Mars to make it habitable anymore than you need to terraform Oslo or Anchorage. You build your own habitats, you make your own air just as today we make our own food and sometimes make our own potable water (using desalination). The difference is merely one of degree. As the 21st century advances our technology will advance as well. People will come to rely on technology producing air and water and food just as today we rely on technology to provide electricity, shelter, heating, and water, and food.

The key fallacy here is taking our present state of living as somehow "natural" or non-technological. Humans in the developed world live at the apex of a pyramid of innovation and technological invention that in some cases is only a few years old, and built on a web of industry that spans the globe. It's easy to take such things for granted and imagine that we could live simply without being so dependent on modern technology and industry but that's only a pleasing falsehood, we're quite dependent on modern technology and industry. Without it millions would die, and many settlements would not be feasible. Indeed, the current population levels of California are not sustainable without substantial modern technology. The same will be true for people living on Mars, the only difference is that they won't have the illusory fantasy of believing otherwise available to them.


> The key fallacy here is taking our present state of living as somehow "natural" or non-technological.

The key fallacy in your argument is taking each solution in isolation.

Winnipeg, etc. have summers. They're not always winter. And they have breathable air. And cheap resupply from Mexico via tractor-trailer.

Saudia Arabia, etc. has breathable air.

And it's just laughable to suggest that because parts of Earth didn't have industry before people, it should be simple to do the same on Mars. Earth has air, water, resources, readily available local food, and cheap re-supply.

Mars has none of that.

Mars is Winnipeg in the winter (i.e. all the time), with the water of Saudi Arabia (i.e. none), with the resources of a polynesian volcanic island (i.e. rock), and the breathable air worse than the top of Everest, the food availability of Saudia Arabia, and is at the end of a 1-2 year resupply line. All at the same time.

I like dreaming as much as the next person. But colonizing Mars won't be done on dreams. It will require hard-nosed engineering.


I'm certain this will be downvoted to hell, but it's absolutely correct. Even Antarctica is more appealing. There has to be a money making, gold rush, get rich reason why anyone would settle Mars. My pet theory is that Mars, a much more shallow gravity well than Earth could serve as an industrial base for processing material from the rest of the Solar System.


A couple of reasons I'm in favour of colonising Mars, the Moon, etc. are:

- No life or ecosystems to disrupt; Mars would be ours to build on, dig up, pollute, irradiate, etc. without wiping out any native species. The only thing to spoil would be the views and landscapes, but we'd be the only ones able to appreciate them anyway.

- Not being stuck on this rock. Mars and the Moon are first steps. In a few centuries, maybe the clouds of Venus, tunnels on Mercury, etc. would be viable. Such colonies aren't "backups" in case of disaster on Earth, any more than people live in Europe as a backup in case of disaster in Africa.

Antarctica doesn't fulfil any of my reasons to live on Mars. In fact, Antarctica is the only place on Earth we've agreed to avoid exploiting! If anything, colonising Antarctica would be a backwards move.


To expand on that first reason, being able to live on Mars (and/or other worlds; I'd personally prefer Ceres or Enceladus, or maybe Pluto when we actually have the technology to perform an orbital insertion there) gives us an opportunity to evacuate Earth and let it recover from the injuries it's sustained during the Industrial Age.


In the Kim Stanley Robinson series on Mars (best Sci-Fi series ever, you should read it), they first 100 colonists train in Antarctica, because it's the closest conditions on Earth to Mars (and even then, still quite far off)


MAny astronauts, on their path to being selected as a trainee for NASA will spend a year in Antarctica maintaining telescopes etc


If reduced gravity is the goal, then what would be the advantage of doing things on Mars versus in orbit, or just on the Moon?


The reason that reduced gravity helps is that after processing, you can loft it back into orbit.

You can't manufacture fuel in orbit (it's a vacuum), and you can't manufacture fuel on the Moon (oxygen can be extracted with a lot of heat, but we can't make rockets without a fuel).

But you can manufacture fuel with Martian atmospheric CO2 and frozen water.


Those are all reasons for not manufacturing fuel in orbit, but the person I was replying to was talking about processing materials from other planets. I get the desire of Mars-as-a-gas-station/space-oil-field, but don't see a benefit to manufacturing other things there specifically because of gravity. If we have the ability to ship materials from planet to planet for processing, then I don't see how you get much benefit flying them down to Mars's surface for processing versus just staying in orbit and shipping fuel/whatever you get from Mars up to you, just like with the other planets.


Not planets, asteroids. Will Belters be able to refine and create high tech alloys in zero g? Will they be able to manufacture parts and equipment in zero g, at scale. It may be that all those activities require gravity, or are exceedingly difficult in zero g, we don't know. In the case that those things are hard in zero g, my proposition is that Mars will be desirable place for those activities due to its low gravity and atm making it easy to send back up.


Here's some rational reasons for why colonising Mars is a good idea (copy and pasted from an old comment of mine):

* It would be a challenge, and (as there is lots of historical evidence for) innovation comes from people working on hard problems. So it would lead to innovations

* It would inspire a generation to be more interested in areas like science and technology

* The fresh start of a new planet would provide the opportunity for people to try out new forms of social structure. The founding of the USA is a historical example of this. Broken systems and structures is a big problem on earth right now.

* Ultimately if humanity only exist on a single planet, then it's at great risk of being wiped out by some catastrophe. Getting off earth is important for our future existence.

(A long time ago, I read Robert Zubrin's "The Case for Mars" and I think a lot of these ideas came from that. https://www.amazon.com/Case-Mars-Plan-Settle-Planet/dp/14516...)


Plus, to get an equivalent level of radiation shielding as earth's atmoshere you need 5 meters of soil above you. If you want to live in a self-sufficient cave complex, you might as well do that on earth.

I still think we should go, it's just that it seems getting there is the easy part, and even that is almost impossible.


Although thinking about that, it does explain why Elon is suddenly so interested in tunnel boring machines, and why the boring company's machine is designed to be small and easy to build in large numbers.


And then you have to hope for soil that is not itself radioactive. Lots of soil on earth contains radon, but I don't know about soil on mars.


Musk is worried about extinction-level events according to paragraph one. Supervolcanoes, whatever killed the dinosaurs.. That perspective does seem reasonable in the grandest scheme of things. Earth has managed to kill a whole bunch of it's inhabitants in the past.

That said, we may well have 70 million years to plan for that one.


> Earth has managed to kill a whole bunch of it's inhabitants in the past.

Yet all our ancestors have survived. I don't see why we, who are considerably more intelligent, who can predict celestial events, who can store food and water for years, who can build nuclear-bomb-proof bunkers, can generate energy from urianium dust, would do worse a job at surviving than tiny mouse-like animals 65 million years ago.

https://www.amazon.com/Scatter-Adapt-Remember-Survive-Extinc...


We can build nuclear-bomb-proof bunkers, but that doesn't mean a survivable fraction of the population lives in them. If we had just days or hours of warning for an incoming dark asteroid, all our tech still might not save the species.

Having a Martian society existing concurrently is like the difference between saying "yeah, we could back up our server to tape" and actually running concurrent instances. Or like the difference between legislation to require eco-friendly behavior and technology that makes eco-friendly behavior more economical than the old way.

It exists not as a resource drain but as an improvement. Useful things that happen to also solve problems are often superior to perhaps less expensive things that solve the problem but might be seen as a cost center.

Also, I don't disagree that post-apocalypse, 99% of those Martian manufacturers of orbital solar collectors should hop on the next shuttle back to Earth.


A revealing thought experiment is trying to come up with how much awful crap would have to happen to Earth to make living here less desirable than even a somewhat-terraformed Mars.


> Yet all our ancestors have survived.

I wonder what you would have posted if they hadn't.


I don't doubt we'd have hope, but it would definitely kill off plenty of us. :)

Also not saying going to Mars is necessary, just pointing out that it seems that's Musk's thoughts on the matter.


This only has 3.5/5 on goodreads, is it worth it?


One resource Mars has that no land on Earth has is Low Mars Orbit. It is much easier to launch mass into the solar system from Mars because LMO is closer to the surface in terms of velocity than LEO. Space craft don't need booster stages on Mars.


It would be even easier from Earth's moon though.


It is easier to reach a stable orbit from the moon.

The question is how much harder is it to build a self-sustaining civilization on the moon than Mars, and is that difference worth the easier orbit?

I don't know the answer. I suspect what matters is the number of stages to orbit for a large mass vehicle. We can just about build a single stage craft from earth, but it can't carry anything. On Mars, a SSTO can carry many tons. You could carry even more from the moon, but I suspect a viable SSTO to orbit is key, and a few extra tons doesn't add much. So at that point, you may as well go with the warmer site with more-comfortable gravity, Mars.


https://xkcd.com/681_large/

This was the most approachable explanation of gravity wells I've seen.


> It's expensive to get there.

For now, because mass-produced starships are not a thing yet. SpaceX is on the best way to change this.

> If you forgot something on Earth, it will be 2 years before you can retrieve it.

Assuming regular (monthly) spaceship travel it's anything from 150 (you noticed the same day the ship is launched and Earth is at optimum position) to 330 days (ship just launched a second after you noticed and Earth is at longest distance), but not a full year.

> Once there, you're damned closed to dying every minute of every day.

I'd guess if you put in a proper emergency hospital kit on a pre-manned-flight-mission and two ER doctors on the first manned flight you're pretty much set.

Lots of dangers that kill in short time on Earth are simply not present on Mars - you won't have deadly new pathogens, no cars, no dangerous animals and cancer can be kept at bay until a flight back to Earth can be arranged.

The immediate dangers however will be decompression/Mars atmosphere exposure, structural failure in the buildings that will be used for housing, fire and critical breakage of oxygen generation.


> For now, because mass-produced starships are not a thing yet. SpaceX is on the best way to change this.

Ignoring the cost of the rockets, the biggest expense in space travel is delta-V, followed by life support. That's basic physics, and no amount of cheap rockets will help.

> I'd guess if you put in a proper emergency hospital kit on a pre-manned-flight-mission and two ER doctors on the first manned flight you're pretty much set.

Your ER doctors won't help if the habitat springs a leak.

What I meant was:

* ripped space-suit? Die.

* leak in habitat? Die

* run out of water? Die

* plants get disease? Die.

* air recyclers break? Die.

Plus, there's all the Earthly ways of dying! Fall down a hole, have a rock fall on you, etc.

> Lots of dangers that kill in short time on Earth are simply not present on Mars - you won't have deadly new pathogens, no cars, no dangerous animals and cancer can be kept at bay until a flight back to Earth can be arranged.

The same can be said for the space station... no diseases, wild animals, etc.

Why not build LEO habitats instead? Lots cheaper than going to Mars, and re-supplies are just a few hours away.


People don't need any valid reason to go. All they need is the means, the money, and the desire and then they can go for whatever reason, good or bad, they have.

This is all presented as a project where people who want in are paying for themselves. People who want out can just as well continue their life and stop telling others what is meaningful, what they're allowed to dream about.


Musk says he anticipates this being a public-private partnership.


Moving to the Sahara desert is not going to save mankind from an extinction event on Earth.


Sailing across the ocean used to be about as bad here on earth. But it got better.


\tangent Antartica is a bit more similar.




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