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Copying and pasting from a comment of mine from another thread:

There's some good reasons try colonizing Mars:

* It would be a significant challenge (like going to the Moon was), 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 (also like with going to the Moon)

* 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 exists 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...)




> innovation comes from people working on hard problems...

You are saying we don't have enough hard problems here on earth?

> The fresh start of a new planet would provide the opportunity for people to try out new forms of social structure.

Is there any social structure that is proposed to solve our current problems, that we can adopt if we were to start from scratch? I ask, because I am not aware of any such social/economic systems. Even if there is something like that, Why not build a big island and try run this experiments there?

> Ultimately if humanity only exists 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....

So be it. This is our home. It has given birth to life and sustained it till now (and it will if we hadn't messed up so badly). So you want to save yourself by getting out while the earth is still getting fucked?

That is like the most ungrateful thing you can do as a species. And if we are doing that, what worth are we really, as a species? We are nothing more that complete imbeciles if we do that.

I am ashamed of being a human from what people are saying in these threads!


> So be it. This is our home. It has given birth to life and sustained it till now (and it will if we hadn't messed up so badly).

Do you still live at home with your parents? Some people grow up and move out. So will humanity if it will be responsible.

> So you want to save yourself by getting out while the earth is still getting fucked?

> That is like the most ungrateful thing you can do as a species. And if we are doing that, what worth are we really, as a species? We are nothing more that complete imbeciles if we do that.

Let me draw a historical parallel. Should the colonists have stayed in Europe and tried to solve their social problems first before moving over the ocean to the Americas?

I agree that we have enough problems on Earth that we wouldn't need to tackle other problems on other celestial bodies. But that's not how our society works. Not everybody has the same influence on the progression of things.

Potential Mars colonists would be able to change things on Mars but unlikely to have any impact on Earth.

And if we really fuck over the ecosphere on Earth, if we have no other place where humans are living in a self-sustaining way then it's game over.

But if we have an autarkic colony outside Earth there is at least a chance that they might come back to Earth to repopulate it with at least some of the life that was lost. With likely exactly that technology that they had to use on Mars first.


>Do you still live at home with your parents? Some people grow up and move out. So will humanity if it will be responsible.

Sure. But imagine you have destroyed your home by your own carelessness. Do you think it is proper to abandon your old home, for a new one. What guarantee is there that you will not mess this new home just as you did with the old one? The idea is that only if you can fix the mess you have caused in the first place, you can be expected to maintain a new home...

>Should the colonists have stayed in Europe and tried to solve their social problems first before moving over the ocean to the Americas?

What did it cost moving over the ocean to Americas? It did took resources that could be used to fix problems in Europe and used it for their journey?

You see, here what being advocated is that massive amounts of money, be spent for a cause that extremely improbably, using a solution that is extremely unlikely to work.

Now this massive amounts of money, could be allocated to implement real solution to real problems we are having right now..


> Sure. But imagine you have destroyed your home by your own carelessness. Do you think it is proper to abandon your old home, for a new one. What guarantee is there that you will not mess this new home just as you did with the old one? The idea is that only if you can fix the mess you have caused in the first place, you can be expected to maintain a new home...

But the problem here is that we are not the only ones that could wreck our home. The next dinosaur asteroid that hits or supervolcano that erupts will take out us and lots of the other higher lifeforms on Earth.

> Now this massive amounts of money, could be allocated to implement real solution to real problems we are having right now..

I agree that this money might be better allocated for project with a shorter time horizon and do also good. Long term, I'm not so sure though.

But I also believe that it probably wouldn't be applied to other projects. Too much money is wasted on senseless stuff, at least in this case, it's going to something that inspires people and has a valuable goal.


> we are not the only ones that could wreck our home. The next dinosaur asteroid that hits or supervolcano that erupts will take out us and lots of the other higher lifeforms on Earth.

Sure, there are all kinds of apocalyptic events. But we don't have to luxury to address them right now. See the following from https://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/sl9/back2.html

>An individual's chance of being killed by a meteorite is small, but the risk increases with the size of the impacting comet or asteroid, with the greatest risk associated with global catastrophes resulting from impacts of objects larger than 1 kilometer. NASA knows of no asteroid or comet currently on a collision course with Earth, so the probability of a major collision is quite small. In fact, as best as we can tell, no large object is likely to strike the Earth any time in the next several hundred years. To be able to better calculate the statistics, astronomers need to detect as many of the near-Earth objects as possible. It's likely that we could identify a threatening near-Earth object large enough to potentially cause catastrophic changes in the Earth's environment, and most astronomers believe that a systematic approach to studying asteroids and comets that pass close to the Earth makes good sense. It's too late for the dinosaurs, but today astonomers are conducting ever-increasing searches to identify all of the larger objects which pose an impact danger to Earth.

So instead of going to mars, isn't it much cheaper and easier to detect and destroy that kinds of asteroids as early as possible?

Look. I like the idea of a backup home. But I don't really think this Elon Musk character is genuine. That his intentions are really taking human beings to mars. Think about what happened with Hyperloop. I would have understood if he had attempted, ie invested in it, attempt to build a prototype, and failed. But no. He just threw some ideas and disappeared from the picture. What do you think about it? Isn't that relavant at all?


You've mentioned the hyper loop thing a few times now, what exactly are you upset about?

He wrote, and had some engineers from his company help write, a proposal for a high speed transit system.

Some companies have been started to try and develop the technology, which to my knowledge Musk is not involved in.

Additionally, SpaceX has already hosted a student competition for hyperloop pods and built a test track for it. By all appearances they seem intent on continuing that.

So what exactly happened to hyperloop, and why does that relevant to a discussion on plans to go to mars?


>what exactly are you upset about?

Upset? I am not upset about anything. If anyone is upset, it seems to be the fanboys who come across people like me ( I mean, My account has gone from 170 to 140 points by participating in these threads. That is a whopping 30 downvotes for being skeptical!)

>So what exactly happened to hyperloop, and why does that relevant to a discussion on plans to go to mars?

I don't know what happened to hyperloop.

My question is simple.

If Elon Musk thought the idea could work, why would not he pursue it himself, or if he is too busy, why not at least fund a prototype (you don't seriously consider the "student competition" to be in the same league, right?) Do you have a straight answer to this question?

> why does that relevant to a discussion on plans to go to mars?

It is not relevant to the idea of going to mars. But it is relevant when considering the credibility of the person who is proposing this idea.


>> why does that relevant to a discussion on plans to go to mars?

>It is not relevant to the idea of going to mars. But it is relevant when considering the credibility of the person who is proposing this idea.

The idea either holds weight or does not.

If there were evidence of Musk, for example, raising money for a hyperloop and then stealing all of it I would say - "don't give this man money, for he will steal it all!" - but I still would not have discussed plans of going to mars.

> I am not upset about anything.

Upset was perhaps a poor choice; what I mean is, what is it about the hyperloop that brings you to raise it as a point so many times. It seems as though you feel something shady or untoward has been done, and I am wondering what that is.

> If Elon Musk thought the idea could work, why would not he pursue it himself, or if he is too busy, why not at least fund a prototype (you don't seriously consider the "student competition" to be in the same league, right?) Do you have a straight answer to this question?

First, why would you even think I should have an answer to this question?

I can think of a few reasons why Musk hasn't done what you think he should have, even though I am unsure what exactly you think he should have done, but in any case I don't know his mind and as such cannot explain his (in)actions.

In any case let's list a couple of arguments

- People can have ideas, even really good ones, and simply tell them to the world and do no more. It would be a poorer world were this not the case.

- Musk might not have the ability to fund it himself, and that is fine.

- He may believe the best way to get the hyperloop into existence is through other companies pursuing it (which is already happening)

- He may believe that the main thing holding back the industry is technical workers, in which case a student competition is well placed to produce more of them.

- He may believe that the main thing holding back the hyperloop is building above ground tunnels with the logistical issues that holds. He is attempting to reduce the cost of building below ground tunnels.

So honestly, what are you trying to argue here? Is it that you can't judge an idea without also judging the actions of anyone associated with that idea? Is it that you can't tell people about an idea without also acting on that idea yourself? Is it that you don't like Musk and you don't want anyone else to like hime either, or perhaps that you don't like the fanboys and wish they would shut up? Maybe it's something else, but in any case I still don't see the relevance to mars.


> what are you trying to argue here?

If you are not clear about my argument even now, I give up. Have a nice day!


Sorry I wasn't clear; I was hoping you had more to add in support of your position.

I believe your argument, to use your words, has been that "this Elon Musk character is [not] genuine" and that "his intentions are [not] really taking human beings to mars". Your reasoning to come to this outcome is "what happened with Hyperloop". After he "threw some ideas" he apparently "disappeared from the picture" and didn't even bother to invest in it by "[attempting] to build a prototype"!!

That is, you have no argument against going to mars, only that you think Musk is not genuine in his intent. Even if Musk dropped the ball on hyperloop (and I am not judging if he has) that doesn't imply that hyperloop is a bad idea.

Furthermore, your argument for why we should mistrust him is because, apparently, having ideas is a bad thing (unless you also spend an appropriate amount of your time and money on all of your ideas).

I think these are deeply flawed arguments, and so I expanded on them further up the chain, in the hope that you might have something more substantial behind them.


>having ideas is a bad thing..

No. Having "ideas" that are solely meant for generating publicity and attract investors money is a bad thing.

>you have no argument against going to mars, only that you think Musk is not genuine in his intent.

I have argument against spending huge amount of money in the name of Mars colonization. I also think Musk is not genuine in his intent, and this "idea" is solely meant to rise his and his companies good will among the technically inclined but gullible crowd (which transforms into more investments) ...

Is it clear now?


Thanks for coming back.

I agree that overselling ideas, with the intent of duping people, is a bad thing. Be it snake oil or a piece of technology that can't actually change the world, there are a lot of ways to mislead people into parting with their cash.

I also think that Musk et al do tend to be overly optimistic about what they can deliver. Falcon Heavy has been 6 months away for a few years now.

I will even agree that not a lot has yet come from hyperloop despite the large amount of playtime the idea got, especially here on HN (unlike all the other ideas that are popular here).

The hyperloop and a mission to mars are both big dreams (of quite different scales though) and they do seem to raise "his and his companies good will among the technically inclined".

The thing is no matter how great those dreams are, when you're chasing the minds of the technically inclined there's nothing more convincing than success. Plenty of people have planned to go to mars, but not many of them have launched a rocket and landed it on a barge. You can go out today and by a fully electric car, and charge it with a solar roof built to look like roof tiles.

Perhaps these successes are just part of a long con though. It's possible that Musk had planned this all out in 2001 when he was first talking about "Mars Oasis", but that seems incredibly unlikely. Whenever Gwynne Shotwell (President/COO SpaceX) has spoken of their mission, mars is there. Every iteration of the rockets has been talked about as the next step to mars. Their plans may be flawed or their funding inadequate, but the actions and words of SpaceX show that they truly are trying to get to mars. Your "gullible crowd" wouldn't be half as excited otherwise.

Put that aside for a second.

Spending a large amount of money just to colonise mars may be a bad idea. From what I can tell so far SpaceX is managing to raise funds to cover R&D costs fairly well, by providing a useful launch service. There is meant to be an announcement about how mars will be funded soon, so I'm waiting to see that. Ideally the bulk of the costs will be born in infrastructure that has commercial uses outside of just going to mars and will be able to pay for themselves, just as the current rockets are funding re-usability research.

Lastly, I'd like to ask what you think Musk's real intent is? Say that he wasn't genuine, that all of this is a ruse, what do you think the end game is? My only real guess here is that by building good will or fervour among clients and potential employees you can sustain higher employee/customer churn rates. The thing is, it seems like customers are genuinely happy with the products they are receiving, be it orbital launches or electric cars etc. and the employees I've heard speak are genuinely excited to be working on the problems they work on.

Musk is doing a great job of aiming for mars, and even if he misses he sure looks like he'll get close.


>not many of them have launched a rocket and landed it on a barge...

Are you saying this was something thought to be impossible before?

>I'd like to ask what you think Musk's real intent is?

Spacex is a space transportation company. Its business is getting things into space. The more it's reach, the better. Right? So ultimately they might get to mars.

It is a business target. But the problem is that it is now being painted as a mission to save humanity. As a business, spacex wants to reach there as soon as possible, but for humanity, there is no urgent need to go to mars or anywhere. And what Musk is doing is creating a boogeyman of a "catastrophe" and generate fear and proclaim himself as a savior that could save us all.

And this generates a lot of good will, which translate to a lot of funding. Imagine asking for funds by saying you want to run a business mining asteroids. It will get a lot less funding than a project to "save humanity. So basically, these funding is based on generated fear, funds that could have put to a better use right here and now....

>Musk is doing a great job of aiming for mars, and even if he misses he sure looks like he'll get close.

Note that aiming for a business of asteroid mining or aiming to get things further into space generally will look a lot like aiming for mars. I mean, they can milk this cow as long as possible, because they are not really promising the investors that they will colonize Mars, right. It is just good will based on their "ambitions". They can discard the colonization idea, just like they did with Hyperloop, and the people will forget it just as easily....


We also don't have the luxury to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. Elon Musk is not the only person who could improve the likelihood of us surviving on this planet.

The clue about having a self-sustaining colony on Mars would be that it protects humanity from almost any danger that happens to humanity on Earth.

Even if an asteroid protection system were cheaper, it would only protect from one low probability danger.

But it is likely not to be cheaper, as you would have to install lots of surveillance satellites over the solar system to detect all those small asteroids we can't yet detect from Earth or detecting much too late for anthing to do.

Also, you would need to reach those asteroids quickly enough to do countermeasure (nuking an asteroid a few thousands kilometers from Earth like in the movies either wouldn't work at all or be a stupid thing to do).

Which is technology in the same ballpark as lifting one million people to Mars. Synergistic effects would apply with a thriving private space travel industry.


Are you religious by any chance?


Of course, everyone that does not buy into the myth of the Star Trek future that surely awaits mankind has to be a religious fool.

Perhaps some of us have realised that, like many (now disappeared) past civilizations, our technological civilization is entering a state of decline caused by resource overuse and population overshoot, among other things. It is barely maintained by burning through hundreds of millions of years of solar energy stored as fossil fuels in the span of 200 - 300 years, a behavior that is also wrecking the climate that allowed us to prospere in the first place.

In the face of the severe ecological, energy, food and population crises that await us (and indeed are already here in many places around the world), the Mars fantasy sounds foolish to me. Even a seriously damaged earth biosphere will remain infinitely more hospitable to human life than Mars. Damaged biosphere ≫ no biosphere (aka. Mars, and all other planets of our solar system).


Maybe, not everyone need a religion to tell them what is proper..




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