Making the long trip to Mars? Let NASA put you in a deep sleep

Oct 14, 2014

Image: Fox

By Anthony Domanico

As many Doctors from the BBC science fiction series “Doctor Who” have so eloquently put it, humanity has an inherent desire to look up toward the sky with dreams of exploring to the ends of the universe. And while our space programs are in many ways in their infancy when it comes to intergalactic exploration, NASA scientists are looking at ways to send manned aircraft farther than we’ve ever gone before: to Mars.

Getting there, however, will prove more than a bit tricky, and scientists are looking to take a page straight of the annals of science fiction by possibly putting astronauts in a prolonged deep sleep, or stasis.

The form of stasis they’re looking at, called torpor, is commonly used in critical-care hospital units, but has so far only been used to keep people in deep sleep for far less time than the 180-plus days it’ll take to get astronauts to Mars. To push the boundaries beyond the current timeframe, NASA has partnered with SpaceWorks Enterprises, an aerospace engineering firm, to study how a stasis-reliant flight might work.”

We haven’t had the need to keep someone in (therapeutic torpor) for longer than seven days,” Mark Schaffer, aerospace engineer for SpaceWorks Enterprises said at the International Astronomical Congress in Toronto last week. “For human Mars missions, we need to push that to 90 days, 180 days. Those are the types of mission flight times we’re talking about.”


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25 comments on “Making the long trip to Mars? Let NASA put you in a deep sleep

  • @OP- And while our space programs are in many ways in their infancy when it comes to intergalactic exploration, NASA scientists are looking at ways to send manned aircraft farther than we’ve ever gone before: to Mars.

    This author shows no understanding of the scale of the universe or of space technologies!

    Talk of “intergalactic exploration”, is comical in the consideration of NASA and early attempts at interplanetary travel with only concept designs for short-range interstellar probes!

    We discussed some of the serious issues here:-
    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2014/10/nasa-is-getting-serious-about-space-hibernation/

    @OP link – Crave freelancer Anthony Domanico is passionate about all kinds of gadgets and apps. When not making words for the Internet, he can be found watching “Star Wars” or “Doctor Who” for like the zillionth time.

    I thought that looked like the source of his understanding of space sciences.



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  • 3
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    I thought that looked like the source of his understanding of space sciences.

    Well put. When I caught sight of the word intergalactic, the very same thought occurred to me. Looks like Mr. Domanico could benefit from putting off watching “The Revenge of The Sith” for the “zillionth + 1” time and allot a few evenings’ worth of time to watch Carl Sagan’s original series “Cosmos”. Once or twice should do.



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  • NearlyNakedApe Oct 15, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Well put. When I caught sight of the word intergalactic, the very same thought occurred to me.

    It is classic “no idea” journalism, latching on to a NASA science article.

    @OP – NASA scientists are looking at ways to send manned aircraft farther than we’ve ever gone before: to Mars.

    There is zero possibility of “manned aircraft” going beyond Earth orbit, even if this one is upgraded to carry people!

    SKYLON is an unpiloted, reusable spaceplane intended to provide reliable, responsive and cost effective access to space. Currently in early development phase, the vehicle will be capable of transporting 15 tonnes of cargo into space. It is the use of SABRE’s combined air-breathing and rocket cycles that enables a vehicle that can take off from a runway, fly direct to earth orbit and return for a runway landing, just like an aircraft. http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/space_skylon.html

    The requirements of launch vehicles and interplanetary craft are very different.



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  • A good read on this topic. For anyone into SciFi the first book of the Mars Trilogy, Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars deals with getting the settlers to Mars. The series is considered good enough to make the curriculum of NASA astronauts. (Or so goes the internet fuzz) Robinson provides credible engineering solutions to the problems likely to be encountered and later during the colonization of Mars.

    I particularly liked the radiation defense against a solar outburst. They get notice from solar observatories of a solar flare heading their way. They descend to the centre of the space craft where the water supply tanks are donut cylinders which can accommodate the crew in the hollow centre, to sit out the solar flux in weightlessness, surrounded by a think insulating layer of water. The rest of the engineering solutions are of this level. I commend the books.



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  • There was an similar article recently, and I misunderstood it. It was about getting astronauts on Mars, and I was wandering why would NASA send people there, hahahaha. But now David R Allen reminded me again how this (and one before) article looks like something from SciFi novel. It is like someone from Nasa is let to play like a child in a send with its bucket and spade, and if it build a castle good, but if it doesn’t it is okay enyway, hahaha. The playing is important. But I haven’t still learned why is important to send humans on Mars, why is imperative to have a human missions on Mars.



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  • I think it is mainly because it is sciences version of the fear of death. The fact that resources will eventually run out. That a catastrophe will wipe out life on earth. That scientist might be able to build a new world and leave religion behind. That is why world leaders invest in it and to give scientist something to do :-). Why train people in science if you are not expecting science?



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  • Dear Olgun I am affraid that I was thinkinkg about that also, but then, does America expect to destroy the Earth? Is this a goal for america? They are planning to colonize the Mars because they intent to destroy life on Earth? It would not suprise me, hahaha.

    “…catastrophe will wipe out life on earth. That scientist might be able to build a new world and leave religion behind”. – It would be nice to avoid a catastrophe 😉 , but religion is a tough one,… people woud probably invent some idol to refer to because they would be scared of new and unnatural (artificial) environment. They would go: generator for oxigen may stop working, oh it is better I invent an generator idol and start praying that it doesn’t malfunction, hahaha. We need a bit of humor, no?



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  • Humour is good. I like humour. Just makes it difficult to understand if you are taking the fact seriously on the Net.

    I suppose, in the American mind it is about those pesky Russians or Irainians destroying them. At the heart of it, it is the mistrust of what man might do as a whole.

    The idea is that the colonisation will start with scientist. There is no room for religion. Converting invention is another thing ;-))))



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  • But I haven’t still learned why is important to send humans on Mars, why is imperative to have a human missions on Mars.

    Quite simply, it isn’t. There are considerably more pressing issues than whether or not the US will be the first to plant a flag on Mars. It is playing, first and foremost, which is borderline obscene when there are more serious issues on the international plate.

    I think part of it is a confusion between progress in the sense of getting morally better and healthier, and progress in the sense of increasing the sophistication and capability of technology. That’s how one can feel “proud” about money spent on flying manned spacecraft further and faster; by blurring that distinction. It’s perfectly possible for the two to be at odds. Heck, global warming wouldn’t have been possible without the advance of technology incorporating highly advanced polluting technologies into the global infrastructure, with the sad consequence that the richer nations are pushing the poorer ones to disaster because we built transport that pours out greenhouse gases in massive quantities. And when the effects start hitting hard, the poorer nations will be hit first and hardest.

    Human progress isn’t synonymous with technological progress or exploration, and the sooner the technology race stops mixing the two, the better. The “greatness” of a group of people (national, independent org, etc.) should be measured by humanitarian yardsticks, not by how impressive its technology is. A dysfunctional planet isn’t improved by moving everybody onto another one, and when most of the CO2 emissions come from fat cat countries – and especially the activities of the rich and super-rich – I don’t think proposing new forms of burning massive quantities of fuel are really what we need.

    Consider how much inequality, famine, environmental destruction, war, mass murder, and media and government and business distortion still occurs. With that in mind, I’m sympathetic to the notion of freezing the space program if it means, say, getting the G8 actually reshaping the energy economy to kerb climate change or levelling the playing field for developing nations internationally.

    Then again, I’m sympathetic to the notion of cutting the defence budget too, which must be considerably larger than the one for the space program.



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  • We could have stayed in the stone age and have been happy because that’s all we would have known. We can feed the world and watch a population explosion and then have to fix that. Go the Jahova way and let nature take its course. There are no quick fixes. Only necessity through time. We should give the need for survival a little bit more respect.



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  • We could have stayed in the stone age and have been happy because that’s all we would have known. We can feed the world and watch a population explosion and then have to fix that. Go the Jahova way and let nature take its course. There are no quick fixes. Only necessity through time. We should give the need for survival a little bit more respect.

    Well, if we’re going to play that straw man game, I may as well pre-empt further “misunderstandings”.

    I do not assume that all technological advance is at odds with human progress. I specifically said that it is “perfectly possible for the two to be at odds”, not that they always must be. A lot of humanitarian progress came out of leaving the stone age behind, and it came with the help of technological progress. I have nothing in principle against the comforts technology brings us: heck, I’m using a laptop right now.

    Neither do I dispute that a lot of advances were made possible by investigations that initially had no obvious practical application. I certainly do not advocate enforced ignorance, which is antithetical to intellectual scruple. Step one of figuring out how to improve our lot must involve knowing what the relevant options are. And in a well-adjusted society, there’s no problem with luxury or intellectual inquiry.

    Two things bother me, though:

    Firstly, at what point does the first world’s technological race come at the expense of people’s welfare? It’s not just that some technological marvels are brought to us by companies who damage the environment and pay third world workers a cheap pittance. It’s not even the possibility that the technological and economic race might cause more psychological harm for its participants than good. It’s the implied message that a society is good because of its technological track record, sometimes in spite of a patchy moral history (the US being the crowning example of this). It’s also how that technological race is deployed: the millions spent on the current fossil fuels industry dwarfs the money spent on renewable resources, for instance, and the governments have been slow to respond to climate change in general. While the solution involves changing the technology rather than scrapping technology, it also involves changing our mindset that opposing technological progress is necessarily a “backwards” or “hippie” thing only greens advocate.

    Secondly, the hype and money surrounding the space program, while not the worst offender by far, is an example of this unquestioned assumption that progress is automatically a good thing. All else being favourable, I would fully back it. I’d love to be able to visit Mars, but there’s such a thing as prioritizing, and talking vaguely about “necessity through time” is missing the point at best. There is no necessity in getting people onto Mars. There’s a necessity in switching our economics down a sustainable path, and not just because fossil fuels come with an expiration date. There would be no shame in freezing a superfluous space program, even temporarily, and redirecting money and time towards other more pressing issues.

    Going to Mars would be great, and I salute the technological and historical feats. I just don’t consider them important like other, more humanitarian feats are.



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  • David R Allen Oct 16, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Robinson provides credible engineering solutions to the problems likely to be encountered and later during the colonization of Mars.

    If you want to look at a serious study of how to set up an extreme science base on Mars, The British Interplanetary set up “Project Boreas”. (I have, and have read, a full copy of the 192 page peer-reviewed report.)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-n343rNQdo

    Future space planning has always had science fiction writers who were also serious scientists involved. BIS has been producing studies in it’s publications and peer-reviewed journal for 80 years. Some of its leaders are well known.
    Arthur C Clarke played a fundamental role in the early days of the BIS and served as chairman on two separate occasions between 1946-1947 and again between 1951-1953. Arguably, the BIS gave him an important platform to share his ideas with like-minded people, not afraid to speculate outside of conventional thinking, but in a rigorous and scientific way.

    David R Allen – I particularly liked the radiation defense against a solar outburst. They get notice from solar observatories of a solar flare heading their way. They descend to the centre of the space craft where the water supply tanks are donut cylinders which can accommodate the crew in the hollow centre, to sit out the solar flux in weightlessness, surrounded by a think insulating layer of water. The rest of the engineering solutions are of this level. I commend the books.

    In Project Boreas, the station is constructed, with the habitation modules made by inflating them with water from melted ice, and allowing it to freeze as a radiation shield and structural support. They are landed separately and are motorised to move them to dock together during assembly.



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  • My apologies, I shouldn’t, have put those thoughts in note form.

    Maybe its my turn to become a bit of a killjoy here but it seems to me that no matter what we do there are adverse effects. I can’t think of a single way of producing power that does not do something detrimental in degrees. In total, be it environmentally destructive, a blight on the landscape or whatever senses it effects, it ends up with the same negative effect on us humans. Robbing Peter to pay Paul. That is what I meant by necessity through time. There was a time when windmills were everywhere in the countryside, and a period where nostalgia made them beautiful but now a wind turbine is frowned upon. They don’t have the same sexy appeal as the time when people were dying in slums across europe. We need to get our heads around the now and not see the past and the future as sexy if we are to make any real progress. I know that I will be eaten alive for saying that there is no real answer, by some on this forum, and I am not saying that we should not change somethings but a complete reboot is not possible with so many levels around the world. IMO. So everything has to be given its equal status as far as progress is involved, including space travel.

    I do question the amount of money scientists command though and how much such treatments for cancer can cost, but that too can, I suppose, be accepted within my argument that nothing is easy.

    The necessity for getting to Mars goes back to fear of being wiped out in an instant. We can ignore it or make it one of the important factors.



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  • I like Your comments Zeuglodon. There are far important issues and priority on Earth. When I was child it was very strange to hear that USA and Russia sends their rockets into Space, I was angry actually, because I thought that anything that goes out to Universe from the planet Earth has to be a decision of all Earhling, and not just some countiries. I have just remembered this. It was a childish idea but perhaps …

    But perhaps money is greater obstacle,… capital decides and not so much humanity.

    Dawkins wrote in his God delusion (I think) how he would never give himself into the hands of a doctor who belives in god (a person who has place in its mind for science and believes in supernatural). I just thought that it is similar for some scientists,… they can love and respect science, but also a great heaps of money.



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  • Zeuglodon Oct 17, 2014 at 4:23 am

    Consider how much inequality, famine, environmental destruction, war, mass murder, and media and government and business distortion still occurs.

    … And think of all the space technologies that are monitoring and informing us of these, and helping to co-ordinate efforts to resolve the problems – often in the face of short sighted opposition and selfish commercial interests.

    With that in mind, I’m sympathetic to the notion of freezing the space program if it means, say, getting the G8 actually reshaping the energy economy to kerb climate change or levelling the playing field for developing nations internationally.

    If people had decided to “freeze the space program” 40 years ago, we would have no reliable data on climate change and no details of where effects will cause most problems. We we would also have no forecast weather warnings in time to take actions to mitigate disasters!

    Then again, I’m sympathetic to the notion of cutting the defence budget too, which must be considerably larger than the one for the space program.

    That is the real issue, but even there, “defence budgets” have been the motivating force for macho-posing politicians to allocate research funds which have developed the space program. For a long time the space programs were a combination of **”Our bombs are bigger than your bombs, and our rockets have a longer range and quicker launch-time than your rockets”*! (That is why there is a flap about North Korea and Iran having nuclear power stations and space programmes!)

    At lot of the most effective climate monitoring technologies, were developed as secret surveillance tools for spies using military budgets.

    There problem is really about the rubbish-grade politicians who end up in government in cahoots with the garbage media, who con. the citizens.



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  • Zeuglodon Oct 17, 2014 at 5:12 am

    There is no necessity in getting people onto Mars. There’s a necessity in switching our economics down a sustainable path, and not just because fossil fuels come with an expiration date. There would be no shame in freezing a superfluous space program, even temporarily, and redirecting money and time towards other more pressing issues.

    I think a priority of landing humans on Mars, is hype from the sort of media writer @ the OP, who “study” science in sci-fi comics! (Not to be confused with scientific sci-fi authors who are in a different class.) They are then pressuring politicians to make poor decisions which have popular appeal as gimmicks.

    Going to Mars would be great, and I salute the technological and historical feats. I just don’t consider them important like other, more humanitarian feats are.

    I think many of the serious space scientists recognise that evaluating space resources on asteroids and developing orbital industries, is a higher priority, while exploring planets with robots continues.

    That does not mean that planetary bases will not become feasible when a space transport infrastructure is in place based on self-financing space industries.

    It would make sense to build a base on Mars’ moon Phobos, before any Mars landings of humans.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phobos_Surveyor

    Phobos Surveyor is a mission architecture currently under preliminary study by Marco Pavone of Stanford University, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL),[1][2] and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology[3] as a part of NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program.[4] It consists of an orbiter around Mars’s moon Phobos, designed to take measurements of the surface such as chemical composition[1] and deploy small, sea-urchin-shaped rovers[2] to the surface. These rovers would perform more detailed analysis of the moon’s microscopic geological features and other properties, beaming their information back to the orbiter, which in turn would send the information to Earth.[1]

    The mission would be beneficial to the future manned space program by investigating the low-gravity Phobos’s suitability for a manned base before the construction of one on Mars itself [5] and where on the moon landing sites for manned missions should be.[4] Although designed with “Phobos in mind” according to Pavone, this technology could be applied to missions to other small Solar System bodies.



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  • @ Olgun

    Maybe its my turn to become a bit of a killjoy here but it seems to me that no matter what we do there are adverse effects. I can’t think of a single way of producing power that does not do something detrimental in degrees.

    Well yes, but the degrees are important. However difficult it would be to replace fossil fuels, we can at least agree that it’s not as bad as staying with them.

    I do question the amount of money scientists command though and how much such treatments for cancer can cost, but that too can, I suppose, be accepted within my argument that nothing is easy.

    It depends. Pharmaceutical companies have an incentive to focus on expensive diseases and ignore more common but easier to heal ones, so any scientific body being funded by a commercial interest for commercial interest is worth keeping a cautious eye on.

    The necessity for getting to Mars goes back to fear of being wiped out in an instant. We can ignore it or make it one of the important factors.

    But that’s not traditionally why people would call it a “necessity”. They call it a necessity simply because they’ve gotten to a point where they unquestioningly assume technological progress somehow reflects human progress.

    @ Alan4discussion

    I think a priority of landing humans on Mars, is hype from the sort of media writer @ the OP, who “study” science in sci-fi comics! (Not to be confused with scientific sci-fi authors who are in a different class.) They are then pressuring politicians to make poor decisions which have popular appeal as gimmicks.

    Agreed.

    I think many of the serious space scientists recognise that evaluating space resources on asteroids and developing orbital industries, is a higher priority, while exploring planets with robots continues.

    I don’t find this particularly convincing because it is, primarily, an optional economic issue. It’s simply an extension of the mining mindset that lays down the foundations for metal and fossil fuel extraction. If anything, the better space programs are, as you describe, the ones focused on gaining information about Earth systems, even if only in comparison with other planets. Moreover, I think the priority still goes towards shifting the global economy away from mining and extraction industries, and towards sustainable resources. Proposing to mine asteroids and so on feels to me like a way for polluting industries to get around the issue.



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  • Zeuglodon Oct 22, 2014 at 5:04 am

    I think many of the serious space scientists recognise that evaluating space resources on asteroids and developing orbital industries, is a higher priority, while exploring planets with robots continues.

    I don’t find this particularly convincing because it is, primarily, an optional economic issue. It’s simply an extension of the mining mindset that lays down the foundations for metal and fossil fuel extraction.

    Not really! We will still need metals, and need metals and other materials in space. There is no need for fossil fuels in orbit as there is ample solar energy to power industries.

    Furthermore, access to metals should be easier on asteroids, as on Earth heavy elements tend to sink into the Earth’s core.

    If anything, the better space programs are, as you describe, the ones focused on gaining information about Earth systems, even if only in comparison with other planets. Moreover, I think the priority still goes towards shifting the global economy away from mining and extraction industries, and towards sustainable resources.

    Indeed! … and resourcing space technologies in space, without drawing on Earth resources (after initial start-ups), does that very effectively.

    Proposing to mine asteroids and so on feels to me like a way for polluting industries to get around the issue.

    It gets the (reduced) pollution off the planet while using sustainable solar energy.

    There is already a profitable space industry of supplying and refurbishing artificial satellites, with further development of robot servicing systems planned.

    With asteroid mining and 3D printing in space, it has massive potential for expansion.



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  • … And think of all the space technologies that are monitoring and informing us of these, and helping to co-ordinate efforts to resolve the problems – often in the face of short sighted opposition and selfish commercial interests.

    That is a good point. When the space program enables ways to further humanitarian interests like this, I have no complaint.

    If people had decided to “freeze the space program” 40 years ago, we would have no reliable data on climate change and no details of where effects will cause most problems. We we would also have no forecast weather warnings in time to take actions to mitigate disasters!

    That is also fair enough. I’m not against disinterested scientific research for its own sake, especially since benefits might come from unexpected quarters. I suppose, though, that there has to be some sort of evaluation beforehand for how likely the information is going to impact human welfare. Gaining more information about climate systems is clearly a part of that larger goal.

    That is the real issue, but even there, “defence budgets” have been the motivating force for macho-posing politicians to allocate research funds which have developed the space program.

    That might have been the case in the Cold War, but putting all that money in the military’s pockets comes with problems, not least of all that the tech has to contribute towards mass killings. I don’t think I have to remind you about the American military campaigns of the last century or so, not to mention the drones disasters in the Middle East. Military technology led the technological revolutions simply because that was where the money and resources were. I think it’s more a reflection of the times than a reflection on how technological advance works. If we redirected the resources towards less aggressive and less nationalistic science quarters, I’d like to think progress wouldn’t slow, and might actually increase, since scientists would be better placed to know what needed to be done to propel future research.

    There problem is really about the rubbish-grade politicians who end up in government in cahoots with the garbage media, who con. the citizens.

    True in part, but I think the bigger problem is the impact of the super-rich, who lobby, infiltrate, and subvert the government and own the garbage media. Since many of the super-rich own questionable industries like the fossil fuel, pharmaceutical, and mining industries, they have both the motivation and the resources to delay the actions needed to address such issues as global warming and third world diseases. Lack of state regulation and neutrality, reduced taxation on the rich and increased taxation on the poor, lack of limits to financial contributions, invoking company confidentiality, all of these are both the products and enablers of rich interests keeping their fingers in the pie at the expense of everyone else. They have the American government and the media dancing to their tune, and for the last couple of decades, they’ve been trying to do the same in the European Union. It’s almost like covert plutocracy.

    That’s part of the reason why I’m skeptical about the necessity of space travel: because it seems to me to be part of these larger misinformation campaigns, designed to distract us from more pressing issues.

    See this, for instance:

    http://www.monbiot.com/1999/11/13/lost-in-space/

    It’s pretty old, but it’s what I suspect is still going on to a degree.

    As the earth staggers under its load, the world’s richest nations have spent tens of billions of dollars and deployed some of the finest scientific minds in discovering not how to save it, but how to get off it. This extraordinary planet, this place in which, perhaps uniquely, the freak conditions required to sustain life are all present, is seen by the pioneers of space travel merely as a stepping stone to other worlds. As the rich and powerful fantasise about escaping, their incentive to invest in protecting our own planet dwindles.

    The warped dreams of the armchair astronauts may now be a little more attainable. The Artemis Project, which describes itself as “a private venture to establish a permanent, self-supporting community on the Moon” promises that, within the foreseeable future, it will be shuttling tourists between the Earth and its satellite.

    This scheme’s backers may be living on another planet, but less ambitious space tourism ventures are beginning to look feasible. The notion of orbiting the earth for fun, once the domain of sad techno-fantasists, is now the province of sad techno-realists. A consortium of millionaires called the X Prize Foundation has offered a $10 million reward to the first company to build a passenger craft capable of flying in orbit 100 kilometres from the earth, using only private money. It won’t be long before someone claims it.



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  • But perhaps money is greater obstacle,… capital decides and not so much humanity.

    Perhaps, though I think the word “capital” should be replaced with “the super-rich”. As I said to Alan above, the super-rich combine powerful resources and control with an interest in maintaining the status quo, even at everyone else’s expense. They have unearned power over government decisions, partly because they fund politicians’ campaigns and partly because some politicians are also among their ranks, and distort the media, education, and welfare systems accordingly. Is it any secret, for instance, that the biggest impediments to action on climate change come from parties involved in the oil and coal industries?



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  • Alan4discussion Oct 22, 2014 at 5:27 am

    @Zeuglodon Oct 22, 2014 at 5:04 am

    There is already a profitable space industry of supplying and refurbishing artificial satellites, with further development of robot servicing systems planned.

    With asteroid mining and 3D printing in space, it has massive potential for expansion.

    Further to this earlier comment:-

    Robot will beam live Moon pictures to Oculus usershttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-29704953

    Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a robot which they plan to land on the Moon to act as eyes for Earth-bound space enthusiasts.

    The project is part of a $30m prize from Google offered to a team that can send video back from the moon.

    The robot has already been shown to potential investors, including Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart.

    It works in tandem with an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

    The scientists from Carnegie Mellon have teamed up with space firm Astrobotic to compete for the Google Lunar XPrize, which requires a team to land a robot on the Moon, move it 500m and send back video to Earth.

    Astrobotic Technology, which is a spin-off from Carnegie Mellon, has signed a deal with SpaceX – the private space company set up by Elon Musk – to use its Falcon 9 rocket to launch the robot. It is due to take off in 2016.
    Non-stop hackathon

    “The vision was simple – let anyone on Earth experience the Moon live through the eyes of a robot,” explained team leader Daniel Shafrir.

    As the Mars Curiosity Rover has shown, it is a relatively small step to move from observational robots to industrial robots.



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  • Alan4discussion Oct 22, 2014 at 5:27 am

    @Zeuglodon Oct 22, 2014 at 5:04 am

    There is already a profitable space industry of supplying and refurbishing artificial satellites, with further development of robot servicing systems planned.

    With asteroid mining and 3D printing in space, it has massive potential for expansion.

    Further to this earlier comment:-

    Robot will beam live Moon pictures to Oculus usershttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-29704953

    Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a robot which they plan to land on the Moon to act as eyes for Earth-bound space enthusiasts.

    The project is part of a $30m prize from Google offered to a team that can send video back from the moon.

    The robot has already been shown to potential investors, including Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart.

    It works in tandem with an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

    The scientists from Carnegie Mellon have teamed up with space firm Astrobotic to compete for the Google Lunar XPrize, which requires a team to land a robot on the Moon, move it 500m and send back video to Earth.

    Astrobotic Technology, which is a spin-off from Carnegie Mellon, has signed a deal with SpaceX – the private space company set up by Elon Musk – to use its Falcon 9 rocket to launch the robot. It is due to take off in 2016.

    “The vision was simple – let anyone on Earth experience the Moon live through the eyes of a robot,” explained team leader Daniel Shafrir.

    As the Mars Curiosity Rover has shown, it is a relatively small step to move from observational robots to industrial robots.



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  • Zeuglodon Oct 22, 2014 at 5:28 am

    The notion of orbiting the earth for fun, once the domain of sad techno-fantasists, is now the province of sad techno-realists. A consortium of millionaires called the X Prize Foundation has offered a $10 million reward to the first company to build a passenger craft capable of flying in orbit 100 kilometres from the earth, using only private money. It won’t be long before someone claims it.

    Orbital space tourism in my opinion is a passing whim which is dependent on a supply of millionaires with money to burn. There is nothing special about flying in a metal box for a few hours.

    The better ones from these craft will become ferries to space stations or satellite launchers.
    Some could develop into super-fast aircraft.

    Ones like Skylon which use hydrogen fuel, do not need carbon fuels, and do not produce harmful exhausts.



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