A New Era - Extending Humans to Mars
Hey you all! You know that we've been doing a bunch of videos about space policy. There's a ton of preamble in the prior videos. It's worth watching. If this is your first video with us, definitely take a look at the preamble videos.
I'm going to jump straight into this we have some pretty cool stuff coming up next week. Definitely check it out. We're going to do some history and there's a big update about lunar missions coming. Stick with us! All right!
The third part of this five-set section of The New Era policy that came out from Washington D.C. a couple of weeks ago is really focused on Mars. I know that's you know the big idea that drives a lot of people is Mars. That it's in this document as a necessary step. They're doing it very specifically low Earth orbit (LEO) establish that, go to the Moon establish that, go to Mars establish that. I like their processes in here the thinking behind it.
Mars is definitely a destination that is powerfully romantic. We're going to use the demonstrations that we develop off the lunar surface to take us long-term to the Martian surface. This idea that this long-term human presence both on the Moon and Mars that is astounding. We've had 20 years of the international space station. We've learned so much from that. It's hard for me to even imagine what we're going to learn by having a long-term human presence on the Moon and Mars. So, it’s a pretty exciting day to look forward to.
I’m a little puzzled by this section. I’m not going to disguise that. The main argument for going to the Moon is to figure out how to live off the land on the Moon turn ice into water and life support and fuel and everything else. If the main argument for going to the Moon is to dig into the lunar surface and extract resources and then you tell me well you can get a lot of those resources from the atmosphere of Mars. It does beg the question of whether or not going to the Moon is a necessary pit stop or if it is a distraction. I definitely believe going to the Moon is a necessary pit stop but this argument here about extracting resources from the atmosphere does call into question why we're going to the Moon in the first place. I just want to acknowledge that there are some know different perspectives on this. Certainly, Robert Zubrin has been saying for a long time just to go straight to Mars. I believe recently he's been looking at the Lagrange point as a refueling station as a way of expanding going to Mars. but I think that's a recent change. I just think that this language is interesting because it acknowledges that there are other perspectives but the federal government's main task is LEO, Moon, Mars.
There are going to be breakthroughs that we learn by going to the Moon long term. We're going to understand how to do extensive crew missions better. If it's going to take two or three years without nuclear rockets or to take two or three years to do a Martian mission, we better spend two or three years doing a lunar mission. We know how to do those long-duration missions. One of my classmates at International Space University, Diego Urbana he spent 500 days with I think five or six other guys in a box. It's called the Mars 500 program. It's definitely worth looking up but they simulated what it would be like to do a 500-day mission to and from Mars. Pretty impressive stuff. Definitely, worth looking into the Mars 500 program was conducted obviously down here on earth but I have a strong suspicion that they're going to conduct a similar 500-day mission on the Moon before they go to Mars. I think that that's going to teach us In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU), in-space manufacturing, and assembly. Always one of the new ideas that's near and dear to my heart is this concept of nuclear propulsion. I’m excited. I’m going to be talking to one of the leaders Dr. Adams later this afternoon. As I learn more, I’ll share that with you. But nuclear propulsion Mars in the month that's a pretty exciting idea. That changes everything.
We are going to focus on how to reduce drastically the cost and complexity of human missions. I think that's the strongest argument for why we go to the Moon in the first place. We're looking for success. We're looking for safety and we're looking for sustainability. A guy who wrote a really fascinating book Rand Simberg, wrote a book called Safe Is Not An Option. In Rand's book, he makes the argument which I think is really interesting. It’s kind of compelling. He makes the argument that we put too much emphasis on safety and security. He doesn't talk about success and he doesn't talk about sustainability. He really focuses on safety that the amount of effort that we put into making systems safe where failure is not an option. He says safe is not an option that the cost-benefit ratio of this much time, expertise, and cash versus the life of an astronaut that equation doesn't balance. We put up too much emphasis on safety now. I’ve come to understand that if my lunar elevator is successful. We're probably going to kill some people and that's a horrible thing to carry. It's one thing to write an academic book about ratios of how you analyze costs versus human lives but to carry the burden of human life is a very different situation. I like their language here about increasing the likelihood of successful safety and sustainability. I think the metrics for safety, success, and sustainability need to be really well understood and we don't understand that just yet. But this counter-argument about how much is too safe and how much of investment is too much of an investment. I think it's an interesting conversation that needs to be explored further.
What are the consequences of going to Mars? Some of the stuff that we do on Mars is going to mirror what we did on the Moon. I think the concept of robotic missions which we've gotten quite good at we've had a lot of time on Mars with robots. But they've only literally and figuratively. They've only scratched the surface. They've only dug a little bit of a dip into the Martian surface. We've not gone very far on Mars in miles traveled kilometer traveled perspective. By just spending time on the Moon, we will get better at being on Mars at building out robotic missions and especially pre-positioning resources. That's going to be the make or break solution to success on Mars. I’m being mildly sarcastic here but if anybody saw the movie the Martian, Matt Damon got pretty dang lucky that we had pre-positioned assets on Mars. I don't think that's entirely far-fetched that we should have emergency supply services and rations around where we're going to put people out there. Pre-positioning I think so far has not really been looked at the depth that probably is necessary. That's an area I really want to see. I’m glad to see this document highlights that. I would like to see a greater emphasis on that because I think that's going to be the key to both lunar and Martian missions is having stuff that is already there and you can get to and access. Fingers crossed on that. I’m actually kind of excited about that. I think that's one of the magic bullets to make this whole program work.
Even though the Moon and Martian atmospheres are vastly different. The experience of building a pressurized rover on the Moon helps us make pressurized rovers on Mars better. The same thing with habitation modules and ascent vehicles but it has different circumstances, gravities, and atmospheres. In the end, what we learn from one we can apply to the other and always power generation. How do we generate the energy to make all of us systems work? We are not going to Mars and we are not going to the Moon long term without absolutely perfectly reliable power generation systems. But if you thought it was cool that we're going back to the Moon to stay, this presents this line about the long-term presence on Mars wow that's something straight out of science fiction and it's amazing that we as humanity are enacting those science fiction visions of the future. I don't know what long-term presence on Mars means. That is a normal mission that takes two years eight months to get there eight months to come back and then you've got some time on the surface. Does that constitute a long-term presence on Mars? To me, it doesn't. To me, a long-term presence on Mars is hundreds if not thousands of people living to work, and playing on Mars. I think that that's the goal that we're aiming for. I would have liked this pivotal document. This national policy to spell out what long-term presence on Mars means as a target, as a goal, I think as an aspirational target. That would be something really powerful. That would drive a really powerful and important conversation. So, I would have liked some more language on that but it does make me really happy when they talk about the long-term presence on Mars.
This one every bit of this matters, every bit of this sentence. The United States can establish a long-term human presence on the Martian surface. It will have demonstrated the technology and expertise to begin to explore other destinations safely. I got to tell you. This line surprised me. I don't really understand what this line means but it might mean exploring asteroids. It might mean developing a human presence on Venus. In the atmosphere not on the surface. I don't really know what this line means. But I think what it says is if we get good at Mars and if we are obviously good at the Moon because we had to be there first, what other options are available. I think this is a visionary statement. I would love to have some more clarity. I’m curious to see what kind of policies are derived from this core document.
We're going to go out into the solar system. We're going to use Luna and Mars as bases to move beyond that. They're going to be staging points to move beyond. We're going to use resources that we find and we're going to go with our like-minded countries, our partners to peaceful peacefully explore and develop the solar system. Peacefully explore and develop the solar system! This is not about the Moon and Mars anymore. It's about going out further and permanently securing American interests and values. That's pretty powerful. Is this saber-rattling? Is this a challenge to our near pure adversary nations? I don't know. Once again, I’m continually curious about who the authors of this document are and what messages they were trying to send out to other nations. Of course, this document references are for and is about The United States. But it also sends a message out to the rest of the nations of the world so this line I think is particularly interesting. Permanently secure American interests and values in space, peacefully explore and develop the solar system that is evocatively powerful and I’m curious how it resonates with other people.
All right. This is our third video for the day. We're going to wrap this up. We've got two more sections for this ambitious strategy portion of The New Era document. We're almost done. Hang in there. Really glad that you're sticking with us on these.
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