Yes, I know about the HI-SEAS project. That was not isolated nor self-sustaining, and it only lasted 8 months.
That's actually not even the sort of thing I'm talking about. Forget simulating Mars. I want to see someone just colonize an uninhabited part of Earth without relying on help from the outside without any other constraints. Until we can do that, Mars is hopeless.
If you and everyone else has bought into the hype machine, well that sucks, but real scientists are still focused on robotics on Mars.
I do get that colonizing Nevada is nowhere near as glamorous and sexy as colonizing Mars. But if we can't do it in Nevada (and it is far from clear that we actually can) then Mars is just hopeless. You could do that experiment for a tiny fraction of the money being invested in launch vehicle development. If the results were negative, you could save an awful lot of money.
I think the principal problem here is that those places aren't on Mars.
He believes that the biggest risk to humanity is that we're currently all on one planet. This means global warming, nuclear war, pandemics, zombies, etc, could basically wipe out humanity.
If he can get humans living on Mars, that means that destroying life on a planet no longer destroys humanity, and that is a very significant levelling up to human survival. Getting people to Mars, to learn how to settle permanently there is a first step. Getting re-usable rockets is a first step even before that. Most things related to SpaceX that Musk does are essentially steps on the path to making this happen.
He may or may not be on the right track, and even if it's a good idea he might be doing it the wrong way, but everything is consistently focused around making this happen. For this, further developing the mid-west, terraforming Arizona, or colonising the bottom of the sea are all insufficient to achieve the goal.
Nuclear war might wipe us out, but that is looking less likely than in the past. And if it does happen I think it's arguable that the universe might be better off without us.
Yes, of course. I even think it's worth while putting some of that effort into looking into colonizing Mars (though I think there is a lot more low-lying fruit that is being neglected in terms of improving our overall odds of survival). All I'm saying is that we're nowhere near ready to talk about actually doing it yet.
Can you elaborate? You talking politically?
Beyond that, I just don't see any credible existential threats.
Of course not. In fact, our eventual extinction is inevitable. But it seems to me exceedingly unlikely to happen any time soon.
GRB or Asteroid are also ELE that the GP did not mention.
That is, if we assume a GRB intersects Earth, what is the probability that it won't also hit Mars?
Very Big Asteroids are definitely one event it would serve us well for though.
No, Earth won't be _as_ hostile as Mars.
Biological warfare, a large asteroid strike, etc.
Simply surviving on Earth, however isolated, is hardly helpful though. You need to simulate things like the lack of an atmosphere to teach you anything useful.
Yes, and not a single one of them has ever sustained a mission for more than a few months (AFAIK). If we're going to colonize Mars we need to be able to sustain these kinds of efforts for years.
We're trying to run a marathon before we've even learned how to crawl.
Maybe we could better spend our time working on the things we haven't figured out.
Without a connection to existing civilization, and without a source of easily accessible water provided by nature? No, we have never done that.
You aren't going to be sending only one ship at a time. You will be staggering shipments, with 3-4 ships in transit at a time. You could make the time between resupplies as short as you want.
I assume you're talking about the Hohmann transfer , which is the most efficient path a ship could take. We're not optimizing for efficiency here, we're optimizing for delivery. You should also realize that while there is a specific moment of peak efficiency in launch times, you have a window on the order of months before a Hohmann transfer becomes less efficient than other methods. Once every 2 years sounds less drastic when it's 6 months out of those 2 years.
All that being said, the Hohmann transfer is a lot sketchier in practice than one would think. Neither Mars nor Earth has a perfectly circular orbit. It's often easier just to take the old-fashioned route.
Take a look at this chart  for an idea of the spread of trip length vs launch time.
Then you don't understand the economics. Or maybe it's something else you don't understand, but you are clearly missing something. The orbital mechanics of getting to any target in the solar system are unique to that target. Designing orbital trajectories is a profession unto itself.
Yes, it is theoretically possible to have staggered deliveries so that spacecraft arrive at Mars on a schedule other than every two years. But think about it: how would this help? The schedule on which the supply craft arrive doesn't matter. What matters is the latency between when a need manifests itself and when it can be fulfilled. Fundamental physics lets you get to Mars in a matter of days if you could accelerate and decelerate the entire time at 1-G. But you can't, not because orbital mechanics forbids it, but because technology and economics and the rocket equation forbids it.
The one thing you're going to need to optimize for more than anything else is kilogram delivered per dollar spent. That means being as efficient as you possibly can because launch costs are ridiculously high even with reusable boosters. That means using Hohmann orbits, and that means eight month transfer times with launch windows every two years. Yes, those windows are fairly broad, but that doesn't matter. You're still going to have to wait for periods of time measured in months and years for your Amazon order to be fulfilled on Mars.
> But think about it: how would this help? The schedule on which the supply craft arrive doesn't matter. What matters is the latency between when a need manifests itself and when it can be fulfilled.
Think about this: You're no longer disagreeing with my premise, and are now moving goalposts. My premise remains true, so your accusation that I don't understand the orbital mechanics involved here is unfounded and unwarranted. A little deconstructive to meaningful conversation, which you seem keen on having with people.
> Fundamental physics lets you get to Mars in a matter of days if you could accelerate and decelerate the entire time at 1-G
It's also a bit deconstructive to talk about extremities. Keeping the discussion within rational limits helps us tackle this realistically and collaboratively.
Now this discussion has shifted to latency vs regularity and yeah, it will take some planning ahead to smooth things out, and everything must come in triplicate in case the replacement breaks while you'r installing it. But that's entirely feasible and the only barrier is money. So what we need to focus on with regards to the great Nevada desert is things like terraforming. Sustainability is no problem if you have a water source and a climate something can grow in.
That depends on what you consider "the math." In principle, it's all F=ma. In practice it's a good deal more complicated than that. There's a reason people make careers out of designing orbital trajectories.
> the only barrier is money
Well, yeah, the only barrier was only ever money. But that's a pretty big barrier right now.
> what we need to focus on with regards to the great Nevada desert is things like terraforming
Yes, terraforming is one way to solve the problem of sustainability. But I don't think we're any closer to being able to have a serious discussion of terraforming than we are about having a self-sustaining settlement without terraforming first.
You can most definitely stagger supply ships and launch them at any time, it's just that some will take a bit longer than others to arrive and their various transit times can be taken into account to have them arrive in a staggered fashion.
It enables a continuous supply, without having to try to plan everything to happen all at once during a short launch window/timeframe
> You can launch as many ships as you like during those windows, but you can't stagger them.
Well, you don't have to only launch "during those windows". I'm no logistic genius, but it seems like it would be easier/more cost effective to loft resources towards Mars at intervals that don't depend on a relatively short event that occurs every ~18 months. Try collecting all of the things you need to go camping 30 minutes beforehand, vs over the period of a week/month before you go. Yea, not very effective.. ?
Your comment I replied to above seems to be overly aggressive (that doesn't belong here):
> You don't understand the orbital mechanics of getting to Mars.
I'm quite sure there are lots of things you (or I) don't understand. Try being more constructive next time.
Civilization had to start somewhere. At some point humans started a civilization without any connection to an existing civilization. In all likelihood, several times in different places on Earth. And on Mars that would not be "without a connection to an existing civilization" They would absolutely be bringing equipment and supplies from Earth and have a communication link.
Easily accessible water is a different story, but that's just a technological problem.
If you go to mars, you're going to be living in a bubble and it hardly even matters whether you're on Mars at that point (aside from being close enough to study it.) You could just as well colonize the bottom of the ocean or Antarctica, and there's plenty of value in doing those things because the rewards from the efforts could easily be transported back to normal society. And if you get sick or injured, you can still survive rather than casting your valuable experience into the void.
If the advances you speak of can't help you survive in Earth's mildly hostile uninhabited environments, then you can't expect them to work on Mars.
1. Those that postdate farming. Because we obviously can't cream off the local wildlife in Mars as there is none.
2. Those that can survive the loss of their motherland. If the goal is to survive the complete loss of Earth, the Martian colony needs to be completely self-sustaining and cannot have any reliance on the Earth-bound umbilical cord.
The list of lands uninhabited as of about 2000 BC essentially amounts to remote islands in the oceans. Polynesian colonization definitely relied on the sustained contact between these remote islands. A lot of the remote Arctic/Antarctic islands were settled largely to facilitate hunting of sea mammals (seals, whales) and wouldn't exist if that trade ceased. Hell, the Norse colony in Greenland collapsed after it was dropped from Viking trading routes... despite lasting for over 400 years before then.
The closest thing I can think to of an example that meets this criteria is the Pitcairn Islands. But while they did clearly last for a decade without outside contact, much less support, they became dependent on outside support within about 50 years. The carrying capacity of Pitcairn Islands is probably smaller than the minimum self-sustaining band size of human beings.
It makes zero sense to go to Mars if we have enough uninhabited land available.
Why? It's a way to reduce risk of extinction. Put our eggs in more than one basket.
It’s got both up and downsides. For example, you actually get more solar energy in the Astroid belt becase you can always face the sun and don’t need to worry about Mars’s dust storms. But, if we can colonize the Kepler belt the rest of the galaxy is open ‘for free’.
Gravity might be a larger issue on Mars than outer space as it’s harder to keep something spinning at 1g in a weak atmosphere. It really depends on how well humans adapt to 38% earths gravity. That might be fine over a lifetime, or low enough to be a significant issue.
If it's feasible or makes sense is of course an entirely different question.
Playing it safe can net small incremental improvements, but it won't capture people's imagination and it won't energize the human spirit to reach to the very bottom of our abilities. Playing it safe won't unite a large group of fundamentally egoistic beings for a common cause.
I believe the biggest evolutionary leap that propelled humans to the top of the food chain is the enterprising human spirit, the pioneering drive, the irresistible urge to stick our fingers into the wallsockets of the universe. Sometimes we get shocked, and sometimes it hurts badly, but we strive becase we do not give up. We reach for the stars, and when we find ourselves in dire need because the cold, merciless and deadly vastness of space threatens our survival, we are pushed to find solutions that were deemed unthinkable otherwise. Perhaps the first shot only gets us to the moon, but we'd never reach it just plinking arrows. Early explorers set out into the unknown oceans knowing that they will likely not return. Many faced extreme hardship and regrettably died. But some survived and they wrote history as we know it. They were all ill-prepared, because they didn't even know what to prepare for. But it is their sacrifice that allowed us to discover new continents, to circumnavigate the world and connect pockets of humanity into an ever denser network of modern society.
There was a time when scientists were convinced that humans will not be able to breathe if travelling faster than 40 mph. There was a time when human flight was thought impossible. It took a bunch of people jumping off cliffs and plunging to their death to figure out the details. Those jumps were necessary. Not just for lessons learned ("this is not the way to do it" is a valuable lesson!) but each of those jumps pushed the envelope a bit further. Each pioneer got a bit closer to the light at the end of the tunnel. The light in some tunnels ends up beign a train, but some tunnels end up leading to the bright spark of revolution.
As much as logic dictates otherwise, we need dreamers who are irrational and fearless enough to go into the unkown. Without these dreamers, nobody will push the envelope. Most of them will be considered foolish, stupid and reckless in their time, but our history is built on the shoulders of those who succeeded against all odds.
That is a lovely turn of phrase!
But the argument that guys like Bezos and Musk are clinging to is that Mars presents an opportunity to continue the human race in an event of cataclysmic proportions (like another massive asteroid strike, the Yellowstone caldera erupting at a scale we hadn't anticipated, or global warming making Earth generally uninhabitable).
Being farther away from the Sun, Mars gets much much colder than Earth, but it never gets as warm (max temps are something like 60 - 70 degrees Fahrenheit). So it's substantially different than a place like the Nevada desert.
I don't argue that we shouldn't be trying to terraform Earth first and reduce our reliance on positive feedback loop functions like air conditioning, quite the contrary. And I do believe all the rocket launches involved getting people to Mars would likely accelerate warming here on Earth. But Earth and Mars are vastly different places that are very far apart, and I think that's the argument for colonizing Mars.
Also, you should look into Earthships.
Even in a worst-case scenario we're better off here. We have a pretty good idea where all the dinosaur-killer-sized asteroids are and none of them are on a collision course with earth. There is the possibility of a medium-size rock causing some very serious damage to infrastructure, but it's not going to make us go extinct. Likewise for volcanic activity. Even a dinosaur-killer-sized rock is survivable (for the species, not for civilization) by moving underground for a while until the dust settles.
Global warming is an existential threat to civilization, but not to homo sapiens as a species. We may have to go back to being hunter-gatherers in northern latitudes, but again, it's not going to make us go extinct.
Homo sapiens are just damned tough to exterminate.
Interesting phrase ... isn't Earth "terraformed" already, by definition?
> Do you think our society does not have sufficiently advances technology to start a self sustaining colony in the desert?
I think the jury is very much out on that question.
> I think it would be absolutely trivial
I think you underestimate how much humans depend on their connections to civilization.
Even surviving in benign environments (i.e. ones where water is available for free) for long periods of time is non-trivial.
You know what they say! If you can't make absolutely minimal changes to the political outcomes of your planet, you're absolutely ready to dart off into space onto planets with no breathable atmosphere or water that could have unknown effects on the human body and mind.
22 Apr 2013: Life on Mars to become a reality in 2023, Dutch firm claims
19 Jan 2014: Why we want to spend the rest of our lives on Mars
9 Feb 2015: Mars One mission: a one-way trip to the red planet in 2024
17 Feb 2015: Mars One shortlist: the top 10 hopefuls
19 Feb 2015: Why I want to be a passenger on Mars One
30 May 2015: Can Mars One colonise the red planet?
It was always complete bullshit, anyone with a smidge of technical or scientific background said so repeatedly, so why they did write about it so many times? Yes, I know the proximate reasons – Mars One had a good PR agency, The Guardian wants clicks, etc. But The Guardian is meant to be a good, trustworthy news source, and here they were giving credibility to what I can only describe as a scam artist, or at best, a completely deluded entrepreneur.
It should never have gotten as far as it did, and I blame the media for this.
"how can you not be suspicious of a bloke who has no rockets or spacesuits but says he’s off to Mars soon"
and it's quite an interesting story.
Here's a technical assessment of the viability of their plan: https://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2014/01/18/ask-etha...
Not to mention, even if the initial mission were one-way, it's entirely possible that return trips could be possible within the lifetimes of the initial colonists. And besides, everyone dies; I can see why someone might choose a life of adventure (and pain, toil, monotony, etc.) on Mars over a life of relative comfort on Earth, even if I wouldn't make the same choice.
I'd expect it to get boring quick, just like watching rocket launches. New exciting images can only happen every so often. You probably want some drama or tension for better ratings. That's a pretty big mismatch of incentives combined with tricky power dynamic. I'd stay away from that unless that reality show is just a small side venture. And no way it could ever significantly finance a mars base in the first place.
Edit: Was my sibling that made the comparison to ISS, not the parent. Either way, apt.
Actually, it pretty much is. There are vast tracts of uninhabited land on earth, notably in the American West. Colonizing those would be vastly easier than colonizing Mars, and yet we don't do it because even that is borderline insane (at the very least, economically irrational). No rational person should take Mars colonization seriously until, at the very minimum, someone puts a colony in the middle of the Nevada desert that manages to sustain itself for a few years with no outside help. No one is doing that because it's both unsexy and stupid. But being sexy doesn't make colonizing Mars any less stupid.
(OK, you can have a low-bandwidth, high-latency internet connection and one small shipping container every two years.)
They'd have to spend hours each day working out to counter those effects. Their day would primarily consist of sleep and working out, with a few hours of time for everything else. That doesn't make for a good televised program.
On top of that, a minimum-energy launch window appears every two years and two months (or 780 days), making it way more realistic to send people on two year long missions.
If we are able to successfully lower the $ per kg cost for cargo to LEO, and from LEO to mars transfer orbit, it will be a moot point. We're going to need something like the most wildly optimistic scenarios for full re-use of the SpaceX BFR, and huge numbers of BFRs or BFR-equivalents flying many missions to make a Mars colony a reality. Doesn't matter whether one-way or not.
Presuming that we have done so, and the spacecraft are fully reusable and the $ to orbit cost is low, what technical problem or economic problem would prevent a few launches from Mars on a return trajectory to Earth? For whoever was part of the initial colony that decided they wanted to return.
i'm not a rocket engineer, but at least some reasons are pretty obvious.
1. you need less than half of the fuel. Yes, you will need less fuel to take off of mars, but its still a massive amount of fuel you need to safely transport to mars, as its an exponential curve of fuel consumed per kg of fuel transported
2. you don't have takeoff infrastructure on mars. your space vehicle would have to be able to safely lift off without any external help.
interestingly, while it takes something like 9800m/s delta V to get from earth sea level, at the equator, to LEO, it's more like 3800m/s delta-V required from surface to achieve low orbit of mars.
I think most mars return missions presume the ability to produce fuel locally through something like the sabatier process, and not haul it from earth -> LEO -> mars transfer orbit -> mars surface.
Is that your own? If so, what software did you use to paint it?
Until a few years ago, medias were always very negative and described space exploration as a waste of money. But, it is getting a bit better. This may be thanks to Space X, the new race to the Moon (China), the landings on a comet (Europe) and an asteroid (Japan), the Indian mission on Mars, and so on.
Now, the project of replacing the ISS (end scheduled in 2020) with a permanent base on the Moon sounds more plausible (Moon Village).
The first several waves will need to be the absolute best of us to have a chance of establishing a permanent settlement.
Sort of like the old joke that "I'd never want to join a club that would have me as a member".
A toxic environment, surrounded by a toxic environment.
Maybe we should focus on building in orbit, and extracting resources from asteroids and moons. It could be profitable. And probably more fun to be messing about in low gravity than living in a tent on a wasteland.
> By the time Lord De La Warr showed up with supplies in June 1610, the settlers, reduced in number from several hundred to 60, were trying to flee.
It was just for a single group of people and only during a specific moment:
“the settlers, who first arrived on the island in May 1607, feasted on deer, turtles and sturgeon during their first year in the New World” “confined to their fort, the colonists could no longer hunt, fish or seek fresh water”
Siege conditions happened everywhere, not only in the New World.
All cynicism aside, today’s developed democracies offer vastly improved lives. You may feel bored and adventurous, but I am unsure if those feelings can naively account for the motivation of the settlers.
There is also something to be said for the difference the actual experience would bring. It’s one thing to be alone on a vast green continent, ready to be molded in the shape of your dreams by your bare hands (ignoring here, as always, the existing, native, population).
Something tells me these settlers would have fared less well in a tiny aluminum sphere that requires you to solve differential equations to grow some salad.
It actually looks to be closer to 2030: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Space_Station#En...
2030 would give us more time to prepare an ambitious next step.
Knew it was a scam and did it anyway?
These are the people that need to have conversations with economists.
They claim to have had over 200K applications though I'm sure many of those people would have backed out if they were actually selected and thought through the ramifications of a one-way trip to another planet.
I think I'd be more likely to apply for a Mars One mission than a trip around the moon. After the moon trip you're back home again without much to show for the trip but the pictures... it seems a little like taking a bus tour where you're not allowed out of the bus and it takes 3 days to get there... and you didn't even have a unique experience since hundreds or even thousands of people did the same trip. But since space travel is still in its infancy, there's still a significant chance that you won't survive the trip.
The Mars trip had a much higher chance of failure (and no chance of return), but at least then you're part of a small group of people who are actually colonizing another planet. I think it's unfair to call it a "glorified suicide mission", since the goal was to survive, even if there was no way to come back again.
I believe the key is economics: by the time the price of fuel is low enough to put Mars at the reach of private tourists, imagine how far mining, industry and even tourism would be in the Moon.
And... a rocket factory in the Moon would offer a different perspective for Mars travel.
Literally every astronaut who's been in to space says it profoundly changed them as a person.
But when space travel is more commercialized and commonplace and anyone that can come up with $100K can buy a ticket for a trip around the moon and your instagram feed is full of people's snapshots from their moon trip, will it still have that mystique?
My grandmother was very proud of her first (and only) trip to Hawaii back in the late 1940's, she literally saved pennies over years to afford it, and said it felt like going to another world and she was a celebrity when she returned home to her small town. And even decades later she tells the stories from that trip (her only significant travel). But I've been to Hawaii about a dozen times, and while I enjoy it, it's not a profound experience that I'd save up for years and few people even care to hear about my trip when I come home, they just want to know if I brought them Macadamia nuts (the same ones I can buy at Costco!)
Edgar Mitchell (Apollo 14) said "From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty." I imagine that change in perspective is what going in to space would give you.
To me your argument sounds like "Nobody space-tourists to the moon any more, it's too crowded" ?
I mean, if they send so many space tourists to the moon that going there isn't noteworthy any more, their sales would have to be really, really high.
You just described 99% of all vacations taken by humans on the planet. People still go on vacations, and even go on the same trip multiple times.
I got my son a telescope last year and we have been watching the moon whenever we get a chance. It is another world.
The Moon is much easier, it's just a rock and some delta-V.
Earth-moon surface = 2.66km/s
Earth-mars surface, with aerobraking = 1.06km/s +0.1 to .5 for final hover/touchdown depending on payload.
It is not really sufficient for capture braking / parachute landings with any efficiency or safety.
Also, mars takes more delta v than the moon.
Mars is not Deimos of course. My point is merely that from a delta-V perspective, the solar system suddenly looks very different.
I'm personally quite fascinated by Deimos. It's far away and yet relatively easy to reach. Some people believe there might be quite a bit of water on Deimos. Put together, that might make it an interesting option for a base, for refuelling, if nothing else. Especially once Mars gets a colony and we start mining asteroids, I wouldn't be surprised if Deimos turns out to be a nice central point between the three.
Or not. I'm not a rocket scientist, but I find this a fascinating subject.
There's still a lot of orbital energy left at 450km orbit around mars that you need to get rid of some how, and a parachute probably isn't going to do it.
Some probes used no rockets. Parachutes and airbags can land a small probe on mars. That isnt an option on the moon.
Even Gerard 't Hooft, famous physics nobel prize winner and one of the ambassadors of Mars One said the schedule and budget were off by a factor of 10. 
I think they could have got quite a bit of funding from crowd sourcing with lower ambitions, such as having a crowd-sourced satellite to go to Mars to conduct research. They could pay some external company to do a lot of the engineering and just act as a middle-man.
Like the cube sats, offer to take other people's research/commercial projects all the way to Mars and you have yourself a semi-viable investment project. For the backers, allow them time on the satellite, name stuff, something on the satellite that stores something personal to them (perhaps digitally and transmitting it back to earth with a massive time delay) - I think people would be interested.
I think the whole Mars One story will make it into a Hollywood script, because there's been more drama than most good movies I've watched in recent times.
There are thoughts about the project that I'd rather not share publicly, especially since I also know one of the main authors of the MIT study that became the focus of a lot of the critique about the feasibility/viability of the entire project.
Safe to say, Mars exploration is hyper-complex because of complexity in a whole host of dimensions, not just technical/scientific. Mars One exemplifies that.
I'm involved in Mars analog simulations missions through the Austrian Space Forum , so I've got a pretty good reading of the complexity that goes into planning & operational excellence.
If I had to sum up the whole Mars One journey in one word, it would be: underestimation.
The Mars One idea of turning the colonists life into a reality TV show would be the first reality TV show I'd ever want to watch and would make a fantastic documentary.
So, while Mars One was severely flawed, I think the Mars to Stay philosophy makes a lot of sense if we want to colonize Mars.
(Since you are not replying to any specific such posts, I assume you are referring to those who point out that this was expected because Mars One was clearly not viable.)
Adventure and romance are good, and can be communicated through fiction, sky castle thinktanks, forums for interested people, etc. Pretending to actually do it is not necessary.
Lying to people and siphoning money out of crowdfunding can not be excused by "at least they made it sound fun". That's what all fraudsters do - they sell a dream and remove your money.
That said, I think the idea of a one-way Mars colonization mission has a lot of merit, as long as there is some chance of survival. "Mars to Stay" as a one-way trip is something that has many proponents, most famously Buzz Aldrin. The one good thing about Mars One is that they got people talking about this proposition and doing a deeper analysis of how it could be achieved.
I have plenty of both, but I just don't find these kinds of crass marketing scams enticing.
That said, I did feel like this project was overly ambitious. Even with my previous points, rockets are expensive, and space R&D is pricey.
This seems contrary to experience. In constant dollars, a jetliner today is 5-10X the price of a jetliner of the 1960s. Mass transit rail miles are >10X. The solutions may be better, but they don't seem to be cheaper.
Launch costs do seem to have fallen quite a bit in very recent history though. So maybe?
Rail and other ground works have got much more expensive as labour costs (in the developed world) have risen. I expect that rail costs in China are not 10x? I would be interested to know !
In term of moonshots I think that safety and risk would mean that a modern mission would be much more expensive than Apollo.
It's not that I don't believe 5-10x, it's that I'm pretty sure the net savings are on the backend, which is where a huge amount of airplane engineering has gone--better fuel efficiency, faster servicing, etc. I'm not an expert in this area, so I'm genuinely curious.
out: "SPACEX DESIGNS, MANUFACTURES AND LAUNCHES ADVANCED ROCKETS AND SPACECRAFT"
in: "SpaceX: We put things in space so you won't have to"
The fuel itself is cheap, it's throwing away a rocket per launch that makes it infeasible.
Getting back is a different kettle of fish though.
Or maybe up to $200B in today's dollars: "In 2009, NASA looked back at the cost of the Apollo program in its entirety, and arrived at a figure of $170 billion in 2005 dollars (or around $200 billion in today’s money)"
But each Saturn V launch cost a few billion dollars in today's dollars, so you could deduct ~40B if you only care about making a few launches.
Though still well out of reach of a privately funding company that has no real return on investment (it's not like an asteroid mining mission that could bring back a trillion dollars of minerals).
To my untutored eye, your $200bn+ doesn’t sound out of the range of likelihood, plus or minus — you’re basically looking at an ISS with a number of novel capabilities, plenty of redundancies, and assurance that the crew won’t end up dead from hard radiation along or after the trip, so assume at least $150bn in engineering+build and another $10-15bn to get 500 tons or so of spaceship into orbit. Add in Martian lander and rover costs, new personal equipment, any novel work on propulsion, power, radiation, and life support ... what were these guys thinking, anyway?
For example is a proposal that would send men to Mars for about 55 billion dollars over ten years. That even includes a return trip.
I fucking would. It's the ultimate adventure and I have nothing here on earth.
A week was enough of that for me. I'd still like to visit Mars, but I can't imagine I'd enjoy living in those conditions for the rest of my life.
But the polar vortex we just went through was other-worldly cold. It was warmer on Mars much of the time that week. Stores and schools were shut down. The man in that video would have experienced frostbite if not death from exposure.
Large parts of adventures are basically boredom in poor conditions.
Edit: It also needs humor.
Mars One didn't have that credibility, though. (I've seen very little to indicate that they were anything but a complete scam.)