"What is essential is invisible to the eye," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.
"It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important."
"It is the time I have wasted for my rose--" said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.
"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose . . ."
I'm content with my lot (as far as humans go I'm doing OK), but it doesn't mean I'm not inspired to do more.
You're half right. Being inspired and challenged by the works of others is a great thing. But you should avoid comparing yourself to others since you'll frame it in such a way that you are either completely superior or completely inferior to the other person.
Plus, you don't have to frame yourself as "completely" anything, when comparing to others. You can focus on being a better mathematician, or a better business person, or simply a better human being, without automatically implying the other is "completely inferior"
Musk just dreams big.
Normally I don't snark on HN except a bit against Apple but I couldn't resist here because the contrast between tech business outside the web bubble and those inside it is so massive.
I have to go now, changing the world trough e-commerce.
Falcon Heavy's payload exceeds those carried within the Space Shuttle (or Buran) payload bays, but if you include the orbiter vehicle itself in the payload either shuttle had a bigger payload into LEO. And Energiya in launch vehicle configuration (as when it was used to launch Polyus) carried nearly the same payload as the Saturn V.
(I hate these overblown claims. Why not just stick at saying "Falcon Heavy has the biggest payload of any commercial launch vehicle, ever" and leave it at that?)
I think you're being a little nit-picky. "Largest" is not exactly a precise term but would generally apply to length and width; not exactly the best way to classify launch vehicles.
Payload capability is the important attribute of a launch vehicle and is generally how vehicles are ranked. Using the word "large" for payload capability may not be precise but it is not factually incorrect.
Ares V: 160 metric tons (cancelled)
SLS (Smaller Ares V): 130 metric tons (in development)
Saturn V: 125 metric tons (retired)
Energia: 100 metric tons (retired - one successful flight)
Falcon Heavy: 54 metric tons (in development)
Space Shuttle: 24 metric tons (retired)
Delta IV Heavy: 22 metric tons (in operation)
Proton Rocket: 21 metric tons (in operation)
The Falcon Heavy may end up being the most capable launch vehicle in operations if the re-incarnated Ares V vehicle (SLS) NASA is developing gets canceled again.
Energya: 100 metric tons (retired)
Ares V and SLS have never flown, yet.
So if Falcon Heavy works and flies before SLS, it will be the third most capable (in terms of mass to LEO) launch vehicle ever flown, not second, and the most capable of those availbale at the time, since the two vehicles which have succesfully lifted more mass are both retired.
Being third and the only one currently availbale should be good enough. There is no need to lie and claim you are second.
Energiya: 100 metric tons (retired)
Ariane V ES: 21 metric tons (in operation)
Ariane V EAP: 27 metric tons (in development)
... And I'm not sure what the Chinese have got, but it's certainly man-rated and they're planning a manned space station mission early next year, so it's unlikely to be less than 10 metric tons to LEO and could well be a lot more.
12 tons demonstrated and 25 tons in development.
The Polyus mission failed because after it separated from the Energia stack it rotated through 360 degrees rather than the intended 180 degrees and instead of inserting itself into orbit it executed a de-orbit burn. Very expensive software error!
The Buran flight -- the Buran shuttle was carried as a payload slung on the side of the Energia launcher, without engines of its own -- was a complete success.
Alas, Energia cost a ton to fly and when the USSR ran out of money it was the first program to be cancelled. However, part of it (the strap-on boosters) remain in service as the Zenit launcher.
There were plans for an extended Energia ("Vulkan") with a 200 ton payload to LEO, presumably for lunar and translunar manned exploration missions. I suspect it would have worked, if the USSR had the money and the motive to build it, given that it was a modular design based on an existing flying stack. More here:
Mr. Musk, thank you for being brave enough to give the world a vision of a brighter future.
There are many ways I can read what you wrote.
That same statistic for Aubrey de Grey? 0.
Based solely on this information, I vote for Aubrey to take us to Mars. If he can't or won't, then I vote for UP Aerospace, the people who previously lost, and recovered, Scotty's ashes.
On a serious note, I find it disturbing that Musk doesn't show any real sense of responsibility. From the second article: "We certainly felt a huge responsibility for getting this [the ashes] back to the customers. She [Wende Doohan] trusted us to fly it into space, which we did successfully, and she trusted us to find it." No such effort or statement was made by SpaceX.
This lack of responsibility goes further, in a more general manner. I can't trust SpaceX to put millions of people on Mars when they can't even be bothered to do a small test on the moon. I understand that the environments are different, so the techniques and technologies used for a moon settlement may not easily transfer to Mars, but there is no real reason not to make an effort, even if it's just a year-long experiment to see if ten people could survive. Even if the moon isn't an important strategic goal, and I'm not sure that it isn't, at least it makes for a good testing ground. Bypassing the moon for Mars smacks more of unbridled grandiosity than it does of responsible reality.
> Are there really millions of people who would sign up for the world's most expensive method of committing suicide?
I don't understand this. Are you committing suicide right now, by living out your life on Earth? You're here on Earth and you're going to die here. Does that mean you've committed suicide? How is that any different from people living indoors on Mars? Sure, they may die there. But people die here too. It's not suicide, it's a way of life that people will choose.
Also, you are incorrect in your silly assumption that life will be harsh for the millions that arrive - it seems much more likely that we could send robots to build the infrastructure while the first few land, making small cities, etc, and otherwise preparing for the mass arrival.
Yes, there are millions that would want to go. I've been thinking about this for more than a decade and I am desperate to go live on Mars when it becomes possible.
> Also, you are incorrect in your silly assumption that life will be harsh for the millions that arrive - it seems much more likely that we could send robots to build the infrastructure while the first few land, making small cities, etc, and otherwise preparing for the mass arrival.
AFAIK, this is not literally impossible, but is way beyond our technological ability right now. If you mean a couple of centuries from now, yeah, maybe. But do we even have any proof-of-concept cities built entirely by robots on earth? (And keep in mind that to really reflect Martian conditions, they'd have to be thermally insulated cities that produce their own energy without any geothermal or hydraulic input and very little solar input and which have independent air supplies — but any cities built by robots would surprise me.)
Nuclear war? Mars is a desolate wasteland that's bombarded with ionizing radiation from space (because it lacks both a sufficient atmosphere and a magnetic field to protect it).
Asteroid impact? Unless it eliminates all of our atmospheric oxygen, ozone, hydrogen and nitrogen and drops the average surface temperature to -55°C, we're still better off here.
Pandemic? If we can protect a colony from the environment of Mars, we should be able to keep at least that many people safe from a pandemic. (Just stick your Mars-bubble in Antarctica if nothing else. It's a lot like Mars except it has better temperatures, an atmosphere that you can breathe if you need to and the water is more readily available.)
I have to say that motivating with fear puts red flags up in my mind as I'm sure it does with the rest of the crowd here. If I were a politician, I'd see the mission to colonize space as an effective way to unite the world behind a single goal. Since I'm not, I have a different view which is that AI has the greatest potential to solve humanity's problems. But that's another discussion.
Unfortunately, on top of that what makes the atmosphere truly deadly is a lack of Nitrogen one of the primary building blocks for organic chemistry.
Why would anybody live on Antarctica and thaw ice when we have freshwater lakes in other parts of the world?
I believe the premise of his statement was "if we have to, we could do it". As a Canadian, I support this statement.
I think a lot of stuff can be send to mars in the beginning. It should not be to hard to build a big house in a couple of parts and stick them together on mars.
I for one am not jet sure if I would go to mars.
I saw a talk given by a NASA program manager in DC. She said that whenever this topic comes up, there's always somebody who starts seriously considering one-way missions to Mars. The next thing that gets considered is who would volunteer for such a mission, which is immediately followed by who the NASA program managers would volunteer to send.
Those guys have such fun at their jobs.
Are there really millions of people who would sign up for the world's most expensive method of committing suicide?
The same could have been said about crossing oceans or strapping into a seat to travel thousands of miles at 30k feet in the air over mountains and open water. Safety is naturally an issue. One can never know what the future will be like, but I'd be fairly confident in saying that the world a hundred years from now will not be the world of present. I think it's that you're ignoring history, not that he's ignoring what's easy and what's not.
By the time millions are willing to sign up, it's likely that it won't be the expensive way to commit suicide anymore. I mean who knows, maybe we'll be shipping our criminals to mars.
But anyway, if Musk is talking about the year 2500, yeah, I'll admit I have no idea what anything will be like then. And neither does Musk. Tautologically, nobody can really predict much outside of the foreseeable future. We could have perfected cold fusion by then, or a major cataclysm could have decimated the human race and left us in a new ice age. I don't feel any more qualified to say what that year will be like than somebody in 1511 was to predict what we'd be doing nowadays.
Earth is actually quite an inhospitable planet as well. We survive on it because of our technology - Mars may be no different.
I think there are thousands on this planet who would be willing to give it a shot if they thought there was even just a slim possibility of success.
> Earth is actually quite an inhospitable planet as well.
Technically speaking, the carrying capacity of the Earth under such conditions is low. Prior to the advent of agriculture and modern sanitation the human population was naturally limited. First by the availability of food, then by the problems of disease inherent in city living. The technology to live the way humans do today is only about a century old. Our food and water typically are the products of industry and technology. Mars would up the ante a bit but in essence would be little different. The norm on Earth is not free roaming foragers living naked out of doors.
Most of Mars' water is at its south pole, which is so cold that much of the water ice is actually buried under a layer of "dry ice" — frozen carbon dioxide.
Basically, anywhere you are on Earth, you're closer to nutrition and fuel than you would be anywhere on Mars. And the reason why can have diets that don't involve foraging is because we've grown so numerous. That's also something that isn't true on Mars.
As far as water, the largest deposits of H2O on Mars are near the poles but it exists in enormous quantities at nearly every location on Mars a few meters below the surface.
I understand that it's extremely unfriendly to Earth's life forms, but life could be based on different chemical elements?
How do we even know that Venus does not have life?
Venus could even have civilization at the technical level Earth had it until couple of hundred years ago and we still wouldn't know about it.
Since we don't know the limits of what might be considered "life," I suppose we can't 100% say it's impossible, but that's why I said "life as we know it."
I couldn't be carbon-based life though.
BTW, Venus civilization would have similar reasons of not going to Earth as our reasons are of not going to Mars: way too cold and not sufficient atmospheric pressure.
Tell it to anaerobic bacteria )))
Seriously? That's not entirely accurate. It's true the humans is able to defend against predators and poor environments with our tools, but that's not something unique to our species. Mars is not capable of sustaining life as we know it, and that's the basic problem. The amount of tools needed to convert Mars to such a place may be prohibitive.
[citation (or math) needed]
The minimum cost for sending cargo to Mars even with only current levels of technology is far, far lower than tens of thousands of dollars per kilogram. A reusable Falcon Heavy (which is being researched currently) could potentially launch payload to Mars for circa $100/kg. To put it another way, that's 10,000 tonnes per $1 bil.
Crunching those together gives $8346/kg to Mars, though even then I'm sure that's an optimistically low calculation.
These are pretty decent conceivable practical minimums for cost of shipping cargo to Mars within the next 20 years, though any estimate (minimum or otherwise) beyond that time frame would be entirely speculative due to the potential for technological advances.
You claim that the figures for Falcon Heavy cost of launching to Mars are "optimistically low", but that is not the case. Firstly, Mars launch is a well understood problem on the scale of launch to GEO. Second, the figures SpaceX are quoting are launch prices which include a substantial profit margin. The actual costs (especially after development costs have been amortized) are lower. And as I pointed out this doesn't represent a proper reasonable estimate of the floor for launch costs to Mars even over the next 20 years, let alone over the next, say, 50.
But if you dropped a colony of one of these natural survivors on Mars, it would simply die. Even what we consider to be harsh environments on Earth (e.g. Antarctica, the bottom of the sea, the top of Mt. Everest) are quite hospitable relative to the average on Mars.
And it will not be easy. The big challenge seems to be shielding the astronauts from space radiation.
For those in the future finding this comment, here is an article arguing why even for the nations who signed it it was bad law that has hobbled the exploration of space and expansion of the human species onto other worlds.
Fortunately, now that private corporations run by visionaries are able to colonize space, the treaty no longer can hobble progress and damage mankind's future.
To be fair, it doesn't say anything about signing up. Maybe he'll just grab the first millon people who annoy him and send them to Mars.
The easiest way to get there is to bring a few thousand or even a few hundred people there and let nature do the rest (isn't there a short story from Asimov about this, where a lottery decides the composition of a 500-person star ship?)
Done that way, most of those millions would not be volunteering.
The problem is, there is no way you could possibly get my contraptions to Mars. They'd be huge and extremely heavy.
The easier it is to get stuff to Mars, the bigger and heavier it can be, and the easier it is to keep people alive.
Not exactly. It takes 9 months to get to Mars. Aside from all the logistical problems of keeping humans alive in a tiny capsule for 9 months, who would in their right mind want to do this to themselves? You would probably go insane.
There will be no shortage of qualified volunteers for the first Mars mission, and the idea that people will go insane simply by being in a capsule for 9 months has been pretty much disproven by the recent Mars500 project.
Dying of other random space hazards is still something to think about.
It's a great future history of how we might end up there and what it would take for us to ferry millions over (essentially, that we find enough minerals for it to be in bigcos interest to do so).
More importantly it makes a compelling argument that we must do this, because civilization requires a frontier.
It's not (yet) possible to shield astronauts from enough space radiation to keep them alive during the 9-month trip to Mars.
I'm sorry, but this is not true. See for example http://www.spacedaily.com/news/mars-general-03w.html.
Look, you won't find many bigger proponents of space colonization than me, but it has to make sense. By all means, colonize the moon and use its helium for fusion energy. Build foundries in space and start melting down asteroids. But don't try and stick a million people in a place that very explicitly does not want people just because we can.
So I can see people spending some years in Mars, similar to those who work in oil rigs. Hell, I would have done it myself! But a full-blown colony? Rising a child on half the gravity with unpredictable effects is a different animal.
There's a first time for everything. We should be able to answer a lot of questions by raising small mammals on the ISS.
I'm very curious on why this has not been done yet (or has it?)
Type in newscientist.com and find "email@example.com", password "bugmenot". 4 days left to read the article!
So, you can generate as much atmosphere on Mars as you care to imagine, but gradually it will all dissipate away into space, unless you construct networks of structures to contain it.
The most common theory I've read on this is that a massive impact on the Martian planet a few billion years ago not only ejected a lot of its material but also changed the magnetizing dynamo effect of its core (or halted it altogether, not sure). The sun then gradually blew the atmosphere off of the planet.
I'm a huge fan of efforts to colonize Mars; this is just one of the challenges of doing it that I know of. Terraforming in the sense that most people imagine is unfortunately not possible.
On a serious note I have heard just how unbelievably driven this guy is. He picks absolutely enormous challenges and just goes for it.
A truly great hacker.
Whould be immensely cool.
It pains me to say that Elon Musk will not be able to put Millions of people on Mars in his lifetime.
Barring some game changing discovery, Millions o human beings (unmodifed Genetically identical to humans in 2011) will not get "put" on Mars by the millions in the next 30-40 years.
Well, we've got lots of people, but a significant shortage of Von Neumann machines.