Tag Archives: mars

The Mars Plan

spacex-mars-interplanetary-transporter-launchTo say that I was excited about SpaceX’s mars plan announcements last month would be an understatement.  Their plan is ambitious and exciting and my first thought was: “where do I sign up?”

For those of you who haven’t heard at this point, they want to transport people, 100-200 at a time, to Mars to found a colony and they want to begin doing it in 2024.  SpaceX’s goal is to do this in eight years.  Eight years.  After they get the tech ironed out, they want to have a real colony, planning on a million residents.

To say this is a big effort would be a massive understatement.  Can they really do it in this period of time?  I have no idea. There’s so many regulatory and technological hurdles, that I wouldn’t be surprised if they run into delays.

But all the same, I’m hopeful.  Over the past twenty years, it seems all that governments have done with space is to say “we can’t.” I’m excited because SpaceX is trying.  It’s going to cost them ten billion dollars… but if they pull it off it will be incredible.

Still, that leaves me with some comments on their plan.  They’re going to use liquid oxygen and methane for their ITR.  It makes sense, they can probably produce both on Mars once they have a colony up and running.   I can’t help but feel nuclear propulsion, that is, using fission processes to heat water or gas and then ejecting it out a rocket nozzle,  would be a more viable alternative.  It’s far more fuel efficient and when you’re going to be reusing a rocket anyway, it seems like a better alternative.

Granted, that might limit the rocket’s use to space due to the general public’s terror of all things nuclear and radiation.  Still, build it on Earth, get it into space, and then use it as a space-taxi to service all your needs.  Maybe in a few years, huh, guys?

My other thoughts: assuming this does get off the ground, it’s going to be huge.  We’re not talking a visit and that’s it, we’re talking a million people living on another world.  Our technology now makes that a long voyage under the best of times.  This will be our generations’ Plymouth Rock (Hopefully not Roanoak).  This is the start of something new, something amazing… and we need to do our best to make sure it succeeds.

I tip my hat to Elon Musk… and I’m glad he continues to dream big, especially when so many other people are looking at the ground.  I’ll finish this with the first question I asked: Where do I sign up?

 

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Rental Movie Review: John Carter of Mars

I just watched John Carter of Mars on BluRay. This is the second time I’ve seen it, the first being when I was deployed to Afghanistan. It was something of a shock to me, because I heard it did terribly, yet when I watched it I thought it was pretty epic. The casting was great, the relutant hero and conniving villain were entertaining, and the characters were well defined. Yes, the main character jumps around like a grasshopper on PCP. The movie isn’t spot on science… but it’s fun, exciting, and epic, something you don’t see a lot of anymore… so why did it flop?

I did a bit of research, after watching it again. There were a number of problems, I think. Bad marketing, for one. I watched a few trailers, and it looked like they just didn’t know how to market it… was it action? Was it comedy? Or was it science fiction? The next issue was that they made some changes to the original books. It looks like a lot of the Edgar Rice Burroughs fans are die-hard fanatical types… which isn’t bad, but Disney didn’t try to win them over, they just made the movie and assumed people would love it. It looks like there’s a lot of backlash in the reviews from long-time fans of the John Carter series. It also received some rather harsh reviews from critics, mostly, it seems, because it was too whimsical and fantastical. Then again, who really listens to the critics any more about a fun movie?

Anyway, back to the movie. John Carter, disillusioned from the war (Civil War) goes searching for gold and finds more than he bargained for… and ends up on Mars, smack in the middle of a war. It has combat, adventure, some hand-waves at science, and an underlying message and theme about fighting for your beliefs. What’s not to like? John Carter is some of the original space opera, the inspiration for later franchises like Buck Rogers, Star Wars, and a host of others.  For a good popcorn flick and an introduction to the John Carter universe (I highly recommend the books), pick it up and give it a shot.