×

Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Sending Astronauts On a One-Way Trip To Mars

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the and-don't-come-back dept.

NASA 917

The Narrative Fallacy writes "Cosmologist Lawrence M. Krauss, director of the Origins Initiative at Arizona State University, writes in the NY Times that with the investment needed to return to the moon likely to run in excess of $150 billion and the cost of a round trip to Mars easily two to four times that, there is a way to reduce the cost and technical requirements of a manned mission to Mars: send the astronauts on a one way trip. 'While the idea of sending astronauts aloft never to return is jarring upon first hearing, the rationale for one-way trips into space has both historical and practical roots,' writes Krauss. 'Colonists and pilgrims seldom set off for the New World with the expectation of a return trip.' There are more immediate and pragmatic reasons to consider one-way human space exploration missions including money. 'If the fuel for the return is carried on the ship, this greatly increases the mass of the ship, which in turn requires even more fuel.' But would anyone volunteer to go on such a trip? Krauss says that informal surveys show that many scientists would be willing to go on a one-way mission into space and that we might want to restrict the voyage to older astronauts, whose longevity is limited in any case. "

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

I'm all for it... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29292627)

Just make sure my wife's on board.

I'm all for it too... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29292687)

Just make sure my wife isn't on board.

Re:I'm all for it... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29292721)

I second that. I want your wife onboard.

Re:I'm all for it... (4, Funny)

spazdor (902907) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292733)

Hey, we can volunteer other people for this? See, I know his guy, he's a telephone sanitizer...

Do any of you know someone?

Re:I'm all for it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29292795)

Hey, I know someone who professes to be the world's foremost expert on moodily lit tubes of toothpaste!
So how are we gonna make this happen?

Re:I'm all for it... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292947)

Hey, I know someone who professes to be the world's foremost expert on moodily lit tubes of toothpaste!
So how are we gonna make this happen?

Well there is this big space goat you see....

Re:I'm all for it... (2, Funny)

El Torico (732160) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293035)

I know of a Cosmologist at Arizona State University.

Re:I'm all for it... (1)

C18H27NO3 (1282172) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293151)

I know of Jessica Alba and Kate Beckinsale and I think I could manage a one-way trip with them along.
The way I see it everyone has to live somewhere and as long as you have the right amenities to keep you happy/productive then the where shouldn't really matter.
eg., Babes, beer, net access, et al. Come to think of it I'd like to barbecue a steak on Mars.

Re:I'm all for it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29292789)

I'll do it too. Just make sure his wife's on board. :D

Re:I'm all for it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29292975)

Reiser, is that you?

Please sense Barack Obama (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29293089)

I beg of you....to save humanity he must go....

Added Bonus with old astronauts (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29292637)

The added bonus is that they don't have broadband at home, so they'll accept an 8 minute ping from Mars.

That Analogy Falls Apart (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292651)

'Colonists and pilgrims seldom set off for the New World with the expectation of a return trip.'

Colonists heading to the new world were heading from a place of high resource (to live) contention to a place of low resource contention. A smart move if you wish to succeed--the resources were there for the taking. The astronauts, however, are not just heading to a place of higher resource contention they are heading to a place of no resources. None for living anyway. You might find platinum ore on Mars but you aren't going to find fur trapping, fishing and logging. This isn't little house on the prairie, this is the cold deadness of space.

You're sending them there on a one trip for one reason and one reason only: saving money. You're not sending them to a new world with more people there and more people coming and food everywhere ripe for the picking. They will eke out a miserable existence and remember earth fondly and try to be live off of what they are doing for humanity.

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (3, Insightful)

Abreu (173023) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292695)

Exactly.

How the heck are those astro/cosmo/taikonauts going to find food and drinking water to subsist, let alone colonize?

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29292911)

in all seriousness, they'd probably end up picking straws and eating each other. hopefully there won't be video.

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293031)

Its easier and safer to resupply them for life than to try to bring them back. But I wonder what would happen when they get very old.

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29293145)

But I wonder what would happen when they get very old.

This is just a guess mind you, but I'm pretty sure they would die.

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (4, Funny)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292697)

The first set of explorers are to seed the planet with their corpses so that the next wave will have something to eat.

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (4, Interesting)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292753)

The first set of explorers are to seed the planet with their corpses so that the next wave will have something to eat.

Well, they certainly aren't going to decompose.

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (3, Insightful)

rhook (943951) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292903)

Sure they will, there's already bacteria in their bodies.

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (2, Insightful)

spazdor (902907) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292987)

What temperature and atmospheric conditions are they comfortable in?

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (3, Insightful)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293117)

Which will be eventually killed by the temperatures, vacuum and intense radiation

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (5, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292761)

They will eke out a miserable existence and remember earth fondly and try to be live off of what they are doing for humanity.

There's no delusions of extended survival mentioned. That doesn't take away what they would be doing for humanity though.

If we can figure out the kinks we have in our biodomes, I don't see why trying to start a colony there, even if it takes 3 or 4 seperate space missions of people willing to die for it - it would be as revolutionary as the moon landing.

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293003)

There's no delusions of extended survival mentioned. That doesn't take away what they would be doing for humanity though.

If there is any nation willing to do this, it certainly won't be the US. We can't even let terminal patients die without wasting vast sums to slightly prolong their misery.

So if it happens, some other country will do it. But I guess that's good for us - we don't have to be jealous of their success if we can spin the whole thing as an inhumane travesty.

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (4, Insightful)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293133)

We can't even let terminal patients die without wasting vast sums to slightly prolong their misery.

We're all terminal, son.

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293141)

What would dying in a dead planet do for humanity?

I understand you may give them the means to return (start sending return vehicles, habitats and supplies years before humans arrive) and the _option_ to schedule their return to Earth when their missions end or extend them for as long as their environment sustains them, but sending humans in a one-way trip to a dead place is remarkably stupid.

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292791)

The astronauts, however, are not just heading to a place of higher resource contention they are heading to a place of no resources. None for living anyway. You might find platinum ore on Mars but you aren't going to find fur trapping, fishing and logging.

Living resources might not matter as much if you can find other resources that make the enterprise economically viable. Every single British attempt at colonizing the New World failed (in spite of the ability to trap, fish, log, etc) until they find a profitable product [wikipedia.org] . Once they found that the settlements took off and the rest is history as the saying goes. There are lots of potential profitable products out in the solar system right now -- there will be even more if we are indeed running out of resources [slashdot.org] here at home.

I doubt we'll see anything resembling colonization in our lifetimes (it took generations to carry that out right here on Earth in a much more friendly environment) but I do think it will happen eventually. We should be laying the groundwork for it and soaking up as much knowledge as we possibly can.

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (2, Insightful)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293015)

Great, so now the astronaut gets there and discovers a vast wealth of economic resources. That's wonderful. Now he can use them to.....trade for things that the other astronauts on his ship brought with them? Oh wait, they've found the vast resources on Mars, too.

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (4, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292793)

Extremely well put. There's little on Mars to bootstrap a civilization with. Back in the pioneer days, you could show up with nothing more than the clothes on your back, a hatchet, a musket, a small chunk of lead, and a shot mold (plus a little food and water to keep you going until you got settled). Earlier human settlers didn't even bring such modern weaponry with them and did just fine, knapping knives and spearpoints and arrowheads.

That sort of thing doesn't work on Mars. Colonists will be entirely dependent on modern technology to merely keep the things that keep them alive running. Try tracing back random pieces of modern technology to all of their component parts/materials, and all of those's component parts/materials, and so forth, with the components needed for manufacturing/refining along the way, and if any of those are consumable, trace those back. The challenge of building a colony is ridiculously daunting. This wouldn't be a colony; it's going to be a base. A cramped life support shelter with more and more things breaking every year. They'll be living largely off what they brought from Earth and what gets sent as resupply until the day they die (with the possible exception of local ice and a few other things).

But you know people would volunteer nonetheless.

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293065)

All they need is a fabrication shop which is built entirely from parts which the shop itself is capable of manufacturing. (or maybe certain manufacuring-intensive sundries, like diamond drillbits, which could be launched over periodically from Earth)

Assuming that same fab shop can be used to make mining, smelting and life-support gear, and that some viable energy source exists, that's all the bootstrap gear you need.

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (1)

Ithaca_nz (661774) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293073)

Try tracing back random pieces of modern technology to all of their component parts/materials, and all of those's component parts/materials, and so forth, with the components needed for manufacturing/refining along the way, and if any of those are consumable, trace those back.

Little bit off-topic but directly related to this, find the book The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance. [amazon.com] It covers all the technology and industries that had to spring up in order to make and mass produce a simple pencil. Fascinating read.

its a dated suggestion (5, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292801)

The cost savings of a one-way trip are minuscule now as everyone has accepted that ISRU of propellant on Mars is an essential part of any mission plan. You don't take with you all the fuel you need to get back.. you make it there.. and most of the plans call for a fully fueled return-to-earth vehicle to be sitting ready on the surface before you send astronauts from Earth to it.

The real problem is radiation exposure. 6 months there, 500 days on the surface, 6 months back. Any astronauts you send will never fly in space again and may have trouble getting x-rays for medical problems in the future. The only known solution to this is to make the habitat module more massive.. which of course requires more fuel...

Re:its a dated suggestion (5, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292885)

The real problem is radiation exposure. 6 months there, 500 days on the surface, 6 months back.

So just transfer some auxiliary power to the deflector shields. Geez, do I have to figure everything out for you?

Re:its a dated suggestion (2, Informative)

rhoder (690061) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292969)

The Israelis have discovered a drug which combats radiation sickness. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3748014,00.html [ynetnews.com]

Re:its a dated suggestion (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29293019)

They'll need it after the appeaser-in-chief allows Iran to get the bomb......

Re:its a dated suggestion (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293067)

The medication works by suppressing the "suicide mechanism" of cells hit by radiation, while enabling them to recover from the radiation-induced damages that prompted them to activate the suicide mechanism in the first place.

That's pretty interesting. So our cells have the ability to repair radiation damage but don't normally bother to try? Any molecular biologists around who would care to explain this in more detail than the aforementioned link? I always thought that ionizing radiation damaged the body on a molecular level beyond any healing ability that it may have.

Re:its a dated suggestion (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293101)

Not to reply to my own post, but here's an interesting [nytimes.com] article about the cellular "suicide mechanism". Fascinating.....

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292807)

> They will eke out a miserable existence and remember earth fondly and try to be
> live off of what they are doing for humanity.

No, if it were possible to eke out an existence there wouldn't be a problem getting people to volunteer, hell if I were single I'd go. But unless regular supply drops came you wouldn't be surviving long until you had a pretty good base built out.

But get a self sustaining population out there and I'm confident that they wouldn't just survive they would find a way to thrive. And who wouldn't want the opportunity to carve out a nice place on a new world?

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292835)

Like Roanoke was a picnic? Food? What food?

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (2, Interesting)

realmolo (574068) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292897)

I agree. And what exactly would they be "doing for humanity" that remotely-controller/pre-programmed machines couldn't do?

There isn't much on Mars. Maybe there is some stuff to mine, but you don't need people for that. I suppose it could be terraformed, too, but again, you don't need people for that. As a test of our ability to send people to other planets, it isn't that great, either. We KNOW how to keep them alive. It's not hard, it's just expensive and time-consuming.

Send robots.

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (1)

Cadallin (863437) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292901)

In order for it to work, it requires a concerted effort. It would be perfectly acceptable, if for example, several years of supplies had been stockpiled at the landing site in advance, in addition the plan would be for the first arrivals to work on creating the infrastructure to support successive waves of people making the one way trip. Once you get enough gear, and enough people (labor) there, its possible to the colony to start being not only self sustaining, but self expanding.

I think you're also overstating how "rich" the "New World" was for the first waves of colonists. Due to a lack of knowledge, plenty of them starved to death. We have the advantage of enormously greater technology. We can be extremely confidant that starvation won't be a risk.

Granted, there's a big "What if?" there, that IMO is fairly critical to start exploring. We know that people don't handle effective zero-gravity very well for prolonged periods, but we have no data at all on the effects of prolonged exposure to gravity much greater than 0G but noticeably less than 1G. How about reproduction in that environment? Again, we have no idea. That's another task the first colonist(s) should be tasked with: animal studies of reproduction in reduced gravity. If mice and rats can handle it just fine, then full speed ahead! We could have native born martian-humans within a few decades.

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (1, Interesting)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292917)

You're sending them there on a one trip for one reason and one reason only: saving money. You're not sending them to a new world with more people there and more people coming and food everywhere ripe for the picking. They will eke out a miserable existence and remember earth fondly and try to be live off of what they are doing for humanity.

You're right - we can't have that.

I propose that we give the difference to the Astronaut's family, if s/he so chooses to go on a one-way voyage. ;)

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292933)

I was thinking it was a good idea, not for saving money, but to simply get there NOW, instead of 20-30 years from now. That would seem to have some advantages. And anyone who went would have volunteered. No one is holding a gun to your head to go.

The first astronauts to go to the moon knew very well it might be a one way trip. Apollo 13 almost didn't get the one way.

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293103)

The first astronauts to go to the moon knew very well it might be a one way trip.

There is a vast difference, at least in perception, between high risk and certain death. You can't win the Medal of Honor without doing something that was likely to kill you, yet we scorn kamikaze tactics entirely. Not sure how rational that is, but there you go.

Re:That Analogy Falls Apart (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292935)

A smart move if you wish to succeed--the resources [in the Americas] were there for the taking.

Umm, no they weren't. The resources were controlled by a bunch of societies with millions of people. The attempts at colonization 1607 and 1620 were successful, but the resources in the Americas weren't just lying around free for the taking.

Consider also that at least 2 previous colonization attempts (Vinland and Roanoke) were wiped out, and the Massachusetts colony only barely survived its first winter in Plymouth.

GNAA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29292661)

GNAA FTW!

send me with lots of females (0)

u4ya (1248548) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292663)

populate the planet, etc etc.

There's a difference between Mars and the Americas (5, Insightful)

BlackusDiamondus (945259) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292673)

'Colonists and pilgrims seldom set off for the New World with the expectation of a return trip.' Indeed, they often did back in the old days, however, I am fairly confident that at the very least, they expected a breatheable atmosphere at their destination.

Re:There's a difference between Mars and the Ameri (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292815)

not only that but what exactly is the point of sending astronauts to another planet knowing the whole time they're doomed? Are we planning on not returning to Mars again? If that is the case why bother sending anyone at all. Mars is important as a potential second outpost in the solar system not just because of the pretty rocks there. Mars is important enough to return and thus sending people to their deaths to get there a few years earlier for a few dollars less sounds nigh despicable.

Re:There's a difference between Mars and the Ameri (0, Troll)

jdigriz (676802) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292855)

Are they any less doomed here on Earth? Or do you have some immortality serum you've been keeping hushed up? People die anywhere and everywhere. At least on Mars it'd be a historic first as opposed to on Earth among millions every day.

Re:There's a difference between Mars and the Ameri (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293135)

it's a suicide mission doesn't that mean anything to you? why sacrifice good people for this when it will be largely in vain? eventually people will go to Mars and return *alive* it's merely a matter of time and money and their trip will be just as historic if not more so due to the fact that we didn't sacrifice them over a pentagram just to say someone has set foot on Mars.

Re:There's a difference between Mars and the Ameri (2, Insightful)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293157)

Well, you are here on Earth, you are one among millions, and you are going to die eventually. Why don't you just get the inevitable over and kill yourself right now. What's that? You value the experience of living too much? Oh, ok. Well, how do you think the guy that goes to mars is going to feel after doing very little day after day? Nowhere to go and nothing to do except sit in whatever tiny vessel he arrived in. The novelty is going to wear off pretty quick. He can't even do all that much exploring because he need to carry enough oxygen and food for a round trip. That kind of limits the range he can travel. And there isn't even much to see there. All and all, it's kind of like all of the downsides that Antarctica has, combined with all the downsides it doesn't have. At least the scientists down there can 1) go home, 2) breath air, 3) see animals.

Re:There's a difference between Mars and the Ameri (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292949)

I am fairly confident that at the very least, they expected a breatheable atmosphere at their destination.

I knew a 16th century sailor once. He often engaged in long metaphysical discussions about exasolar planets and the physical and socialogical equations governing long term terraforming processes. Alas, that was his hobby. Times were hard back then so oftentimes sailors such as him, preferred to keep themselves occupied with such trivial and mundane thoughts.

Re:There's a difference between Mars and the Ameri (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29293169)

'Colonists and pilgrims seldom set off for the New World with the expectation of a return trip.' Indeed, they often did back in the old days, however, I am fairly confident that at the very least, they expected a breatheable atmosphere at their destination.

That depends - were they planning to settle in New Jersey?

Last Post!! (1)

nomorecwrd (1193329) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292683)

I'm departing to mars tomorrow

You get my bills.... (1)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292689)

...I get to pick my co-pilot. I'm partial to Megan Fox.

cost? (0)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292691)

How, again, is the cost of going to mars gonna be 4 times the cost of going to the moon, assuming it's a one-way trip on each? I'd imagine the act of getting to Mars isn't much different than the moon, as once you're in space, you've got all the momentum you need. It would take more calculation, and maybe a bit more course correction, but not anything much more in terms of equipment. As for food and water, that would be a limiting factor, but you can send unmanned rockets there with those supplies and others (new equipment for tests, etc.) once/as astronauts land.

Re:cost? (1)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292737)

I think you misunderstood.

1 way trip = just getting there. (That means the spacecraft arrives at Mars on empty, with no rocket to blast off with.)
2 way trip = getting everything for a later blastoff from Mars there. (That means the spacecraft arrives with a full-tank in the return craft. That means the return craft is along for the ride the entire way there.)

One way trip, or suicide mission? (1)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292701)

I'm guessing the amount of food/resources to support someone for the rest of their natural life would greatly exceed the fuel needed for a return trip. Colonists were heading to potentially fertile land, whereas these folk would be heading straight for a nickel rich dust bowel. Unless they plan terraforming, this is a "one way trip" in more ways than one.

I agree (1)

cats-paw (34890) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292709)

I've often thought that older people would make terrific astronauts.

The low G environment is good for them.

Their personalities are pretty much fully developed so there's less chance of any surprises.

The have a lifetime of experience.

Last, but not least, many would want to do something spectacular with their last years.

I think their would be plenty of volunteers

I'll go. Really.

Re:I agree (0)

tftp (111690) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292939)

I think their would be plenty of volunteers

Only until they realize that their lifespan on Mars will be measured in hours. Humans need a lot of specific items to support life. In case of Mars air, heat and shelter come first, then water and food, then something to justify their continuing existence (life in spacesuits is tough on morale.)

100% of remaining volunteers should be referred to a head doctor.

Re:I agree (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293131)

Then I must be crazy, as I'd go even if they told me the lowest-bid contract didn't include air past landing.

I'm not entirely crazy, I'd expect to at least land successfully. So no joint US/EU missions for me, unless I checked their measurement standards first:)

Hidden costs of a one way trip (1)

Franklin Brauner (1034220) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292719)

A one-way trip would presume the need to send along the materials required for subsisting on Mars and maintaining a foot hold. Anything less would be a denial of the spirit of exploration that has come to define the better virtues of humanity.

Death Missions (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29292723)

You know what this is? Obama's alternative to death panels.

why old astronauts? (1)

Overunderrated (1518503) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292743)

Younger astronauts mean a greater ROI. I'm sure there's plenty of well-qualified people willing to be known as a pioneer for the rest of history.

Get your ass to mars! (1)

atramentum (1438455) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292745)

I would do this in a heartbeat.

Re:Get your ass to mars! (1)

Radtastic (671622) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292827)

Dude, turn in your ./ card. You meant: "Get Uranus to mars!"

Re:Get your ass to mars! (1)

atramentum (1438455) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293085)

I read "one way trip" and assumed it must have something to do with Arnold Schwarzeneggar's eyes popping out.

Astronauts != scientists (1)

101010_or_0x2A (1001372) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292749)

and vice versa. I think it would be pretty difficult to find a scientist who has the specialized knowledge required to pilot a space exploratory vehicle, and unless thïey plan on zero human intervention to guide this thing, then there would have to be at least one person who is a proper astronaut to accompany them. If they do find one whose willing to never come back, then excellent! I love the fact that just because some ancient scientists are willing to leave here forever to further the cause of space exploration, we actually think that this is a feasible option.

Re:Astronauts != scientists (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293093)

I think you check should check the credentials of a few of the astronauts. Many of these guys (and gals) have more PhD's in hard sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, biochem, engineering, etc) than you can shake a stick at.

I don't get it. (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292779)

Why does it cost so much to rent out a Hollywood studio to fake intrasteller travel?

Re:I don't get it. (1)

seanbruckman (637280) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293153)

It doesn't cost much to invent a secret, but it can cost a lot to keep it.

This is the only way to do mars (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292781)

I have never understood why would go to such a remote location for only a year or two. I have suggested many times here that ppl should be sent on one-way missions. If we establish a forward base, THEN we can bring them back, if they desire. My guess is that anybody who goes there will want to stay. In the end, the hardest part will be to get them to be self sufficient in terms of O2, water, energy, food, and of course, some light weight manufacturing (esp. on robotics). That is not as hard as it sounds. In fact, I suspect that it will be easier to do that, than to build 2 way traffic.

"But would anyone volunteer to go on such a trip?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29292829)

I would. In a heartbeat.

Re:"But would anyone volunteer to go on such a tri (2, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292913)

I would. In a heartbeat.

If that's true, why were you afraid to sign your name?

Re:"But would anyone volunteer to go on such a tri (1)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293049)

I usually post anonymously. Anyway, "93 Escort Wagon", here is a logged in post. It's still not my name.

Or we could make nanorobotics and AI for much less (1)

vistapwns (1103935) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292841)

We could invest probably one tenth that amount in nanorobotics and AI, and probably do ten times as much, and visiting mars and the moon would then be trivial. But no one wants to hear about this, they talk of investing 150 billion in a one time trip to mars and nothing about something that could fix just about every material need humans have forever for much less (nanorobotics and AI.)

Here's an idea (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292843)

Why not just, you know, send robots instead? They're smaller, weigh less, don't require all that bulky food, water, and oxygen, and there aren't any ethical issues with just leaving them there when the mission is done.

Once the robots have set up a nice Mars base, complete with locally produced rocket fuel supply, then we can talk about landing humans on Mars. Until then, I don't see the point in asking anybody to go kamikaze just so we can say humans have stepped onto Mars.

Re:Here's an idea (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293091)

Simple: our robotics technology is centuries away from being advanced enough to do all that reliably. What do you do when one of the robots breaks? Right now, we just keep running it with a broken wheel and hope for the best.

Re:Here's an idea (1)

atramentum (1438455) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293127)

Actually we're only 2 years away. Robots are supposed to take over sometime in 2013, according to the Mayan calendar.

Given the state of our world.... (1)

Pechkin000 (1304249) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292863)

... I would actually consider something like that if indeed my wife was on board!

Count me in! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29292867)

I'd definitely sign up. Then again, I'm neither an astronaut nor a scientist; I doubt they're looking for unemployed MSAEs to sign up. :(

But I'm not at all sure it is cheaper to send one-way trips, because at present, and for at least the first decade (probably several) of Mars life, life can only be sustained by continued shipment of supplies from Earth. This means you're making a commitment to long-term, non-interrupted, freight service. Yes, the freight service can be relatively cheap, by routing through Lagrangian points and using high-efficiency thrust (ion engines of whatever sort), but the reliability requirement cost serious money.

Incidentally, I expect (presumably reversible) sterilization would be required. Even if adequate medical facilities to handle childbirth would be present from day one, any population expansion not only substantially decreases productivity, it also increases support costs, and more critically, extends the length of the implicit freight contract by decades. And until you have several hundred people in a mainly-self-supporting, there's no real benefit to population growth for eventual survival -- with no support from Earth, anything less means certain, absolute doom, and adding even fully productive young adults doesn't change that. As I said, I'd sign up anyway; I'm willing to gamble my chances of progeny on our eventual self-sustaining success, and consequent desterilization, but many won't.

Send me! (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292869)

I wanna be the first Martian. The Sun is too harsh on this rock, I need a few more million miles between it and me. Also, I'll be able to plant the first GeoCaches *8^)

The way to do it is to fix Earth first (1)

wickerprints (1094741) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292905)

By the time we can set up a self-sufficient ecosystem hospitable to human life on Mars, you can bet that we would also have the resources to do a 2-way trip. A lot of unmanned flights would be necessary to set up a colony. One two-way trip is going to cost far less than colonization in the short run, but in the long run, of course colonization wins.

The bottom line, however, is that human exploration of other planets in our system is going to be severely limited until we are better able to capture and utilize the energy coming to OUR planet. We have a much more complex and important task at hand, which is to find ways of harnessing Earth-bound energy in a way that is sustainable and economically efficient. If we can do this, we won't need to ask people to go on one-way trips. Cheap, abundant energy is what enables technological and social progress.

Just find some radical Muslim astronauts (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29292923)

Tell them that there are 72 unspoiled virgins waiting for them.

It doesn't have to be a "suicide mission" (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29292943)

Just because there is no provision for returning to the Earth doesn't mean we cannot send as much help for survival as we can. Equipment and supplies to build structures, process waste water and grow food, generate power (nuclear, fusion, etc). Plus, if they could survive for a year or two, unmanned resupply missions could be sent out at regular periods until self-sustainability of the population on mars is established.

Really people, if you want to have a human colony on mars, these are the kinds of tough choices that MUST be made. If they asked, I'd go in an instant.

Yes! (1)

X10 (186866) | more than 5 years ago | (#29292971)

Can I bring my WII?

Land Boom (1)

AlHunt (982887) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293005)

As a real estate agent, I'd be the perfect candidate. I'll set up the first interplanetary real estate brokerage. Now, where was that gold jacket ...?

Healthcare Reform (1)

lawnboy5-O (772026) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293027)

"Krauss says that informal surveys show that many scientists would be willing to go on a one-way mission into space and that we might want to restrict the voyage to older astronauts, whose longevity is limited in any case. "

Brilliant - send seniors to Mars on a regular basis! Perfect way to compliment cutting costs in healthcare reform circles. Everyone over 72, your flight is in 6 months.

"Missionary to Mars" could pay for itself. (1)

HouseOfMisterE (659953) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293037)

Hire some uninhibited, terminally ill but still attractive 20-somethings, give them the minimum training required to run a camera and the space ship's onboard computers, and send them off to film the first real-time space porno, "Missionary to Mars". DVD sales and online streaming revenue will pay for this, with plenty of money left over to fund a proper Mars mission.

NASA Death Panel (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293083)

Take people out of hospitals and send them to die on Mars.

At this point in US history (4, Insightful)

al0ha (1262684) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293111)

spending any more tax payer money to send humans into space, to the moon or mars, is a ridiculous waste considering the catastrophic infrastructure breakdowns we are now facing in real time.

In the short term, meaning next 20 years, this money would be much better spent repairing antiquated and unsafe bridges, damns, levies and sewage systems than it would be sending anyone to the moon or mars.

Significantly more people will benefit through lives saved and catastrophes averted by wisely spending money instead of wasting it in a time when what we have to gain from space exploration by humans is very little in comparison

Let's fix the continental infrastructure!

Too valuable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29293113)

A person who would be willing to give up their own life so that the knowledge of other people might be increased is probably someone we're better off keeping around.

What if they change their minds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29293115)

What happens 3.9 years into a trip for which they only have 4 years worth of food, and we begin to hear their agonized cries on the radio for help and food? "We're dying! Help us!" Yeah, that would gain public support for the space program...

They are willing to go, while they're still here. (1)

cicho (45472) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293125)

"informal surveys show that many scientists would be willing to go on a one-way mission into space"

A one-way mission to Mars.
Space geeks.
Makeshift weapons.

Welcome to...

DOOM 4!

Sending modules to Mars (5, Interesting)

Baron_Yam (643147) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293143)

I don't see why we don't shoot a couple of modules to Mars right now...

1 that makes propellant from Martian atmosphere
1 habitat module with some plants inside, some cameras, and an airlock.

If we get good at landing the modules closely enough together, we could send a robot tractor to try and drag the first two together, and if that works send a power plant that could use the fuel from the first one.

Not one person needs to be sent, and we could check if we're capable of putting down the basics of a Martian base for future use. We'd learn if we can really generate the fuel we think we could, if we can keep a habitat module in good shape for a few years at a time, etc. The power plant could just burn off the fuel just to show it works... or we could send some more power-hungry rovers and have them return to the power plant for refueling once in a while.

After learning what we can, you repeat with the next generation of modules, and eventually you have a ready-made camp waiting for the first human arrivals...

Scientists first? (1)

NCG_Mike (905098) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293149)

No, they'll be on the third ship. We'll send the phone sanitisers first.

It's stupid. (1)

Anne Honime (828246) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293161)

Most settlers and pilgrims went away after an initial explorer returned to tell how beautiful the trip was and how nice the people there were. Or in another scenario, people moved because they would be in harm way should they stay (invasions, wars, etc.) No one in his right mind just went away without the slightest hope of coming back, even if many knew the journey was dangerous.

Sign me up! (1)

mmaniaci (1200061) | more than 5 years ago | (#29293163)

I'm absolutely sure there are enough people on this planet that would love to go to Mars, never to see Earth again but for a small blue glimmer hanging in the night sky of a red planet. Besides, it greatens humanity's chance for survival, or rather lengthens our species lifespan, if we spread ourselves out in the Universe. We are putting all our eggs in one basket by staying on Earth.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?