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Starship Congress 2017

I had thought at the end of last year that 2017 would be a year of few conferences held by the various interstellar organizations. In fact, the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop was the only one I was sure would occur, a meeting I knew about because it was being held in partnership with the Tau Zero Foundation as well as Starship Century. Since then, we’ve had news of the Foundations of Interstellar Studies Workshop sponsored by the Initiative for Interstellar Studies. Background on these two, including details on registration and submitting papers, can be found in Interstellar Conference News.

Now the details of a late summer meeting to be held by Icarus Interstellar have emerged. Based on the group’s online description, this is to be the third in the Starship Congress meetings, the first of which I attended in Dallas in 2013. A second was held at Drexel University in Philadelphia in 2015.

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Image: The 2013 Starship Congress in Dallas was a great meeting. In front at the far right, I am easy to spot because I am one of the few in the group shot wearing a light-colored jacket. It’s hard to make out the faces here, but I think that’s Pat Galea to my right, and my son Miles next to Pat. Rachel Armstrong is in front at the left, and although it’s too tricky to identify everyone, I do see Al Jackson, Jim Benford, Eric Davis, Phil Lubin and many other friends. Credit: Icarus Interstellar.

The focus of Starship Congress 2017 is to be the Moon, an unusual choice for a deep space organization, but Icarus asks a good question: “How can we hope to gain experience living, building and working off planet without systematically capitalizing on our nearest, most accessible celestial body?”

It’s a question with both near- and far-term resonances, for we’re also talking about more or less bypassing lunar resources and going straight for Mars, an idea that pulls me up short given our lack of knowledge about human physiology beyond low Earth orbit. We can study human factors in space-based laboratories, and I know that Robert Hampson (Wake Forest School of Medicine) continues to push for a dedicated facility to study biomedical matters outside Earth’s magnetosphere. But dedicated facilities on the Moon should be a part of this.

But let me give you the Icarus Interstellar view, in the form of the call for papers for Starship Congress 2017, reproduced here verbatim.

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Screenshot from 2017-05-04 08-18-25

Call for Papers

If we want to see interstellar accomplishments in our lifetime we need a staging area in space and we need to be able to get our people and our machines up there.

We dedicate each day of our meeting to addressing actions towards making Space a Place for Everybody and welcome the community to submit papers/presentations for each of the following:

Day 1: The Moon as a Stepping Stone to the Stars (MOON):

  • Living on the Moon: Lunar city planning, lunar resources, construction, power, water, radiation shielding, living and working, economy, sociology.
  • Planetary, Deep Space and Interstellar exploration centered around the Moon: Spacecraft Shipyards, Lunar Space elevators, Planetary and Deep Space remote sensing Telescopes.

Day 2: Massive Space Access Project (MSAP) aka “Children in Space”:

  • Earth to Moon and back: transport vehicles and systems, global logistics, tourism, legal and safety considerations, military presence.
  • Children in Space: Space education, youth space education program, people with disabilities in space, when will we send the first child to space? (when children can go to the moon, everyone will want to go!)

Day 3: Massive Space Based Infrastructure (MSBI):

  • Space and Lunar Industry: Space stations, mining stations, space services, telecommunications, zero gravity and lunar gravity manufacturing technology development.
  • Space arts, sports, community and culture: everything not traditionally considered infrastructure, but which is necessary for humans to live, love and learn on the Moon and in space.

Submit abstracts to starshipcongress@icarusinterstellar.org by Monday, July 3rd, 2017. Papers will be approved on a rolling basis with the final agenda shared on Monday, July 10th, 2017.

Conference Registration

Register for Starship Congress 2017 here.

Hotel Registration

Starship Congress will be held at:

HYATT REGENCY MONTEREY HOTEL & SPA
One Old Golf Course Rd, Monterey, CA 93940, USA
T +1.831.657.6541 Email: megan.whetton@hyatt.com
monterey.hyatt.com

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If you’re interested in presenting at the conference, abstracts can be submitted to starshipcongress@icarusinterstellar.org by Monday, July 3rd, 2017. Papers will be approved on a rolling basis with the final agenda shared on Monday, July 10th, 2017.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Alexander Tolley May 4, 2017, 13:03

    What I would hope is for solid ideas that show how business economics would work for lunar resources, physical or otherwise. Without the profit motive, I don’t see anything significant happening. Past proposals for exploiting the lunar resources have all tended to be eclipsed by new technology making those ideas obsolete. Perhaps the last was mining the Moon for platinum to be used in fuel cells for the “hydrogen economy”. It was all predicated on existing fuel cell technology and the assumption that the hydrogen economy was the logical path forward. Fuel cell technology improved and the hydrogen economy never got off the drawing board.

    One problem I see with people traveling to the Moon is that much industrial work can probably be mostly completed by robots. Humans may be needed to make some repairs, but it may turn out that it is cheaper to just discard the broken machines and make/ship new ones. While physically “being there” makes for possible tourism, robotic proxies might be a better way to go, with just a 2.5 second comm delay. Instead of committing to days of travel top the Moon, just pay for a few hours of telepresence and explore the Moon in comfort. Just piggybacking on the view might be the lowest cost (even free) solution.

    So there meeds to be a compelling business reason to go, coupled with a compelling need for human presence. I’ve yet to see that, but I hope ideas are jelling to make it happen.

    • David Herne May 4, 2017, 23:08

      Imagine that I could see fifty years into the future and everyone alive knew that what I saw would happen, no question and I saw a 10 km wide asteroid colliding with the Earth. Or what if in my vision I saw no human beings anywhere but only machines exhibiting some level of self-awareness? Or what if I saw the coastal zones of all continents inundated and utter misery everywhere? What would the business imperative or human imperative for travelling to the Moon or stars have achieved for us? You were speaking in practical terms but the business imperative is as irrelevant now in human terms as it would be in any of my visions. In fifty years time, the human condition will be unimaginably different but will it be better? Those who go to space to live and adapt will be the ones who are relevant, regardless of any business imperative. We should be out there (the Moon would be a good start) NOW. The water is probably heating up as we frogs bath.

      • Alexander Tolley May 5, 2017, 12:23

        This sounds a bit like a dystopian version of “The Toynbee Convector” by Ray Bradbury. In all the cases you mention, the best uses of resources would be those that mitigate the foreseen events, not to allow a few people to escape. We saw this scenario in “When Worlds Collide”. If you are going to use resources, work out how to destroy the asteroid, how to prevent “Terminators” attacking humanity and how to transition quickly to carbon-free energy plus building to mitigate sea level inundation of coastal cities.

        All these approaches would also ensure the survival of earth’s biosphere, something that might be irretrievably damaged by the events you suggest. To me, that would be a much more noble cause than trying to save a miniscule fraction of humanity living in environmentally impoverished colonies.

    • Mauldred May 5, 2017, 4:32

      Of course, a sudden and massive exodus to the Moon will not occur without a compelling reason, but it can start with a small group of scientists who want to do specific things on the Moon for a short period of time, then repeatedly for longer and longer periods, with more people joining in, and grow incrementally to become a true long-term human presence. We already have an almost constant human presence in orbit thanks to the ISS but we can’t increase the population of the ISS because expanding it means launching more modules from the Earth and that’s terribly expensive, but with additive manufacturing using in-situ resources we can expand a Moon base effortlessly and with very little additional cost, plus the 0.16 g gravity will be more comfortable than zero-g in orbit.

      If the cost to go to the Moon drops drastically thanks to reusable rockets and progress in technology, some scientists might want to build a laboratory on the Moon and live in it to study the lunar environment and geology directly in the field, benefit from the lack of atmosphere to do better astronomy and maybe test technologies that will assist future astronauts on other moons and planets, with space tech standardisation in mind. Some rich tourists will want to join them. If we succeed to grow vegetables on the Moon as we are already beginning to do in micro-gravity in the ISS, then space farmers and space cooks can help to provide fresh food for the scientists and tourists. If the base becomes comfy enough, the scientists and space farmers might want to bring in their families. Other professions like medical doctors, teachers and psychologists will eventually follow them because robots can’t do everything, especially when it’s related to dealing with humans.

      To solve the problem of the low gravity on the Moon, if it’s too low to ensure that the bone and muscle loss remain acceptable for long duration stays, there are solutions like building the living quarters in the shape of a torus with a slanted floor inside and make it spin.

      • Alexander Tolley May 5, 2017, 12:13

        Your approach requires the truth of your statement:

        If the cost to go to the Moon drops drastically thanks to reusable rockets and progress in technology

        At this point, SpaceX’ reusable rockets are expected to reduce launch costs by about 30%. That is not nearly enough to make a difference.
        The cost of sending a few scientists to the Moon and setting up a base is extremely high, which is one reason we keep dithering. (If we could magically persuade Congress to shift the military budget to this project, this might not be an issue.)
        Therefore while it sounds reasonable, I think your argument fails on a cost basis.

        Columbus was lucky to have had a major power fund his trip of exploration. In the “age of exploration”, Britain’s navy did the exploring, most notably with Cook’s voyages, with the ultimate result of colonization for resources, whether gold or more useful products. The US funded a trip to the Moon, but the cost proved too high, with the returns too low, to be sustainable. At this point, there is no economic gain from colonizing the Moon. As the global economy transitions to services and manufacturing becomes ever more weightless, especially with information products, the prospects for economic exploitation of the Moon and other Solar System bodies diminishes. The only reason to colonize is for expansion’s sake. This brings benefits simply from the sheer size of the population’s cognitive capabilities and it is one I advocate. But I accept this is not a common view of humanity today, and the fact is that most people would prefer to stay on Earth which we are adapted to, rather than live off-world in a hostile environment. Again, that can change, but it probably won’t happen in the lifetimes of anyone reading this blog.

        My conclusion is that with foreseeable technology, there must be an economic attractiveness that will allow an organization to commit to exploitation which can become self-sustaining. This then requires no public consensus to pay for the operation, just the will of an organization to use its own considerable resources. If the cost of access to space drastically falls, say to a few percent of current costs, then this opens up opportunities for small organizations to go for non-economic reasons, rather like the Pilgrims. While I am rooting for costs to fall dramatically, at this point it would be a “build it and they will come” aspiration, rather than a solid business model.

        • Joe May 8, 2017, 16:11

          “Columbus was lucky…” I am reminded of something the writer John Updike once pointed out. Columbus had no idea where he was going and yet he found something amazing. The Apollo program knew exactly where they were going and found little worth the cost of the trip.

          • Alexander Tolley May 8, 2017, 21:12

            The Apollo program knew exactly where they were going and found little worth the cost of the trip.

            Au contraire. The USA got something very important – global technology leadership that stymied the USSR’s claim to superiority and ensured the US’s place as leader of the global economy. That was Kennedy’s goal. He had no desire to explore space and wanted the best space race that the US could beat the Russians with. The Moon became the target, the US won convincingly despite the Soviet’s claim of not being in te same race. The rest is history.

            Had the earlier ideas of holding “the high ground” been true, the US would have established a military base on the Moon with nukes. That proved false and so nothing happened in that direction.

            During Britain’s empire, the navy’s task was more about establishing strategic bases around the globe so that the RN could “rule the seas”. Britain still maintains it base at Gibraltar, a rock of no value other than that it guards the entrance to, and exit of, the Meditteranean Sea.

            But suppose Columbus was unlucky, or that the Americas didn’t exist and the Atlantic stretched all the way to China. Would that have stopped exploration, and traders looking to exploit sea roots or perhaps oceanic resources like whales? I seriously doubt it. And maybe today Britain would have floating strategic bases scattered across that vast ocean, being used as military, scientific and fishing and trading stations as part of her global empire.

          • ljk May 9, 2017, 10:19

            My view of John Updike just went down several notches. But then again, that’s what happens when you live in a society dominated by C. P. Snow’s Two Cultures…

            http://s-f-walker.org.uk/pubsebooks/2cultures/Rede-lecture-2-cultures.pdf

    • spaceman May 5, 2017, 11:49

      Alex,

      Nice exposition. I hear what you are saying: the profit motive is what propels new ventures and perhaps the role of economics is not getting enough attention. On the other hand, it is equally frustrating when we emphasize the short-term profit motive, but leave out the survival of the human species as a motive. The biggest justification for establishing off world colonies is to ensure the long-term survival of our species. This will surely require risk, setback, and loss, but what is the alternative if we do not embark on a robust space colonization effort? One of the biggest obstacles is that many of us are still only thinking about space in purely business-oriented terms. Not that business should be left out of the equation, as the discussions of science and technology without the economics are frustrating too, but if we go extinct on Earth because people aren’t willing to take necessary risks, think of all of the business enterprise, art, science, philosophy, etc that will simply never happen? Hawking and Bostrom are right, existential risk and human extinction are under-
      appreciated and under-studied, we need to start prioritizing before it is too late. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

      • Alexander Tolley May 5, 2017, 15:57

        I would suggest that the best way to ensure our species survival is using the resources he on Earth. To live off-world will require taking a piece of the biosphere with us, a far larger piece than the small domes in “Silent Running”. Inevitably, that means making choices as to species to take, from viruses and bacteria to whales. At this point, we have no idea how to do this. Even O’Neill recognized the issue when he suggested cauterizing crop modules in the case of disease. What happens in a surface dome or terraformed planet?
        If we do create off-world colonies, who will be selected? Will genetic diversity be a feature or just the wealth/importance of individuals? In “When Worlds Collide” it was the wealthy Stanton who wanted a place.
        The pictures of O’Neill’s showed mostly European stock Americans, well educated, of course.
        When one talks about economic resource allocation, resources dedicated to creating such off-world human egg baskets take resources from other endeavors, like protecting the Earth and the existing human population. If there was a choice, I know where I would demand public monies to be spent.
        Ultimately, if preserving humans is the most important thing, then we need interstellar, possibly intergalactic colonies. And all this has to happen within the lifetime of the human species. I suspect that humans will evolve so fast due to directed evolution through genetic engineering that what you would preserve would be a species rather different from humans living on Earth today.
        As I think I have suggested in the past, I don’t think biological humans are as suited to colonizing the galaxy as machines. In many ways, I would be just as happy ensuring intelligent machines that think like us (mostly) and preserve our culture[s] do the colonizing. R. Daneel Olivaws, if you like. While we obviously want to preserve our species, in the long term humans will evolve to new species anyway, and our robot creations may prove far more suited and adept at colonizing, first the Solar System, then the galaxy.

        • spaceman May 5, 2017, 20:11

          Very interesting topic, why might we need intergalactic colonies? Are there risks associated with remaining in just one galaxy even though there are clearly a lot of planetary systems in the Milky Way? I think I remember reading somewhere that there is a limit to how far we can travel and how many galaxies we could reach even if we started today and traveled close to the speed of light…I think the limit exists due to the accelerating expansion of the Universe? Does this ring a bell?

  • LocalFluff May 4, 2017, 13:17

    Great idea to anchor interstellar to near term goals like the Moon. That might actually happen, which is why it gets my attention. I hate all science fiction. One has to be drugged to like that stuff.

    What about a series of fast flyby probes that pass Jupiter (for gravity assist but also for science) and then a Kuiper belt object and then continue out to interstellar medium. Half a dozen of them would not only teach us about the boundaries of the Sun, and the ice bergs orbiting out there, but it would also update Jupiter system with new flyby instruments every year.

    • Al Jackson May 7, 2017, 8:02

      Just the opposite with me, Robert Heinlein’s Solar System science fiction novels had to be pried from my 1950’s clutching teenage hands before I would eat!

  • Antonio May 5, 2017, 4:11

    ““How can we hope to gain experience living, building and working off planet without systematically capitalizing on our nearest, most accessible celestial body?”

    Huh?? The Moon is the nearest but it’s very far from being the easiest. Mars is much much much easier:

    – A day of 24 h + some minutes instead of one month.
    – 2.3 times more surface gravity.
    – Much less extreme temperatures.
    – Abundance of water everywhere, with regions the size of continents where the soil is 40 % water by weight instead of only having a very few craters with ice in the pole.
    – Abundance of carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen in the soil for plant grow, while they are very rare in the Moon.
    – Existence of an atmosphere that protects from radiation and can be used for plants to breathe and to sustain greenhouses and domes with atmospheric pressure.
    – Existence of mineral ores in the soil, concentrated by vulcanism, rivers, geisers, etc.
    – Possibility of easily making propellant from the atmosphere and the permafrost (or only from the atmosphere in the first missions, if you transport the hydrogen from Earth, that is only 5% of the total propellant mass).
    – Abundant geothermal power.
    – Easiest terraformation in the Solar System.
    – Less delta-V for the outbound trip, using aerocapture and aerobraking, and free delta-V for the inbound trip, thanks to propellant made on Mars.

    And, of course, from the point of view of astrobiology, Mars is much much much much more interesting.

    I thought the Icarus guys were smarter…

    • Michael May 5, 2017, 9:25

      Antonio May 5, 2017 at 4:11

      ‘Huh?? The Moon is the nearest but it’s very far from being the easiest. Mars is much much much easier:

      – A day of 24 h + some minutes instead of one month.

      We can simulate this, not ideal but doable.

      – 2.3 times more surface gravity.

      We can simulate earth gravity in large torus’s on the surface or underground.

      – Much less extreme temperatures.

      On Mars it is very cold day and night, at least on the moon you can insulate yourself better.

      – Abundance of water everywhere, with regions the size of continents where the soil is 40 % water by weight instead of only having a very few craters with ice in the pole.

      There is plenty of water at the Luna poles, we could also make it via hydrogen from the solar wind.

      – Abundance of carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen in the soil for plant grow, while they are very rare in the Moon.

      At the Luna poles there are large quantities of volatiles including nitrogen and carbon compounds.

      – Existence of an atmosphere that protects from radiation and can be used for plants to breathe and to sustain greenhouses and domes with atmospheric pressure.

      On the moon we could use magnetic fields and regoilith shielding.

      – Existence of mineral ores in the soil, concentrated by vulcanism, rivers, geisers, etc.

      There are lots of volcanoes, extinct, on the moon.

      – Possibility of easily making propellant from the atmosphere and the permafrost (or only from the atmosphere in the first missions, if you transport the hydrogen from Earth, that is only 5% of the total propellant mass).

      This is a strong bonus, but on the moon we could use an electromagnetic rail launcher with ample power available.

      – Abundant geothermal power.

      I am not so sure about this, Mars is cold to a fair depth.

      – Easiest terraformation in the Solar System.

      Maybe, but this is very long term.

      – Less delta-V for the outbound trip, using aerocapture and aerobraking, and free delta-V for the inbound trip, thanks to propellant made on Mars.

      -The delta v to the moon is much less, there is also the possibility of using lasers to power ion drives to high efficiency from the moon or Earth.

      -And, of course, from the point of view of astrobiology, Mars is much much much much more interesting.

      This is undeniable and great driving force.

      -I thought the Icarus guys were smarter…

      They may be wiser…

      • Antonio May 5, 2017, 19:27

        Michael:

        Firs of all, since you seem to have misunderstood the point in most of your replies, the question is not whether the Moon is DOABLE, but whether it’s the EASIEST place to start. And the answer is a clear NO, not at all, not by a large amount.

        “We can simulate this, not ideal but doable.”

        No, not doable at all, at least if you want to grow crops. A single square kilometer of cropland on Earth is illuminated with about 1 GW of sunlight at noon, a power load equal to an American city of one million people.

        “We can simulate earth gravity in large torus’s on the surface or underground.”

        Again huge amounts of energy are needed, apart from great amounts of machinery, expensive to transport and maintain.

        “On Mars it is very cold day and night, at least on the moon you can insulate yourself better.”

        The Moon is colder, and during half a month the temperature is around 100ºC. The biggest problem will not be insulation but heat dissipation. You would need HUGE radiators. Mars, apart from not being so hot, has an atmosphere and thus convection can be used. In the Moon you have to use the much slower dissipation of heat by radiation.

        “There is plenty of water at the Luna poles, we could also make it via hydrogen from the solar wind.”

        No, it’s not plenty at all, and it’s located only at the poles. Remember that what we are discussing about is creating a new branch of human civilization, not a small scientific base. The water trapped in Mars polar caps and the first few hundred meters of soil elsewhere could cover the planet with a global ocean 50 meters deep. And it is available everywhere, you don’t need to travel half the planet to collect it. Water in Moon rocks is present in parts per billion, while on Mars large areas of the planet’s soil are 40-60% water by weight.

        “At the Luna poles there are large quantities of volatiles including nitrogen and carbon compounds.”

        Again, for a civilization, it’s not large at all. See the Wikipedia page for the Moon composition. And again, it’s only available at the poles. At Mars, 95% of the atmosphere is carbon dioxide (wreathable by plants), 2.7% nitrogen, and there is plenty of hydrogen and oxygen in the soil in the form of water.

        “On the moon we could use magnetic fields and regoilith shielding.”

        There is no practical artifical magnetic field that can shield you from galactic cosmic rays in the Moon. In Mars there are greately stopped by the atmosphere. You will need some regolith shielding on Mars, but not big, some decimeters only.

        “There are lots of volcanoes, extinct, on the moon.”

        Huh?? Are you kidding me??

        “This is a strong bonus, but on the moon we could use an electromagnetic rail launcher with ample power available.”

        Huh? What power? Solar power? It isn’t available during two consecutive weeks per month. And you don’t have any carbon in the Moon to purify the silicon need to make solar panels. And you would need huge amounts of solar panels. You don’t have carbon nor hydrogen to make plastics either, so you can’t insulate the wires from the solar panels. And you don’t have metal ores either to build the wires or the frames of the panels. That rail launcher is a pipe dream.

        “I am not so sure about this, Mars is cold to a fair depth.”

        No, it’s not. Mars Express discovered evidence of lava flows only 2 million years old. That’s yesterday, geologically speaking. Olympus Mons is thought to be only 200 million years old. With such a recent volcanic history, there must be plenty of geothermal power near the surface of Mars at selected places.

        “Maybe, but this is very long term.”

        Not so long. Probably not more than a few centuries for being able to walk on Mars only with a oxygen mask and no space suit.

        “The delta v to the moon is much less”

        Why do you lie when anybody can easily check the numbers on the Internet? The delta-V required to go from LEO to the lunar surface is 6 km/s (3.2 km/s for trans-lunar injection, 0.9 km/s to capture into low Lunar orbit, and 1.9 km/s to land on the airless Moon.). The delta-V required to go from LEO to the Martian surface is only about 4.5 km/s (4 km/s for trans-Mars injection, 0.1 km/s for post-aerocapture orbit adjustment, and 0.4 km/s to land after using the aeroshield for aerodynamic deceleration). And you can easily make the propellant for the return trip.

        “there is also the possibility of using lasers to power ion drives to high efficiency from the moon or Earth.”

        Huh??? Are you seriously saying that astronauts can leave Earth or Moon surface with an ion drive???

        • Michael May 6, 2017, 6:35

          Antonio:

          “We can simulate this, not ideal but doable.”

          -No, not doable at all, at least if you want to grow crops…

          Not all of the sunlight that falls on an area is required by plants and animals, they only need certain amounts and frequencies which can be generated by LED’s for instance. The long night can be countered by energy storage, lower light conditions or super conducting cables to transmit power for the lighting over distances.

          “We can simulate earth gravity in large torus’s on the surface or underground.”

          -Again huge amounts of energy are needed, apart from great amounts of machinery, expensive to transport and maintain.

          All of the materials are on the moon from aluminium to zirconium and there is plenty of energy.

          “On Mars it is very cold day and night, at least on the moon you can insulate yourself better.”

          -The Moon is colder, and during half a month the temperature is around 100ºC. The biggest problem will not be insulation but heat dissipation. You would need HUGE radiators…

          Underground on the moon it is nice and warm Mars however is not and there is plenty of metals to make radiators.

          http://biocycle.atmos.colostate.edu/shiny/Moon/
          http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/geomars2001/pdf/7044.pdf

          “There is plenty of water at the Luna poles, we could also make it via hydrogen from the solar wind.”

          -No, it’s not plenty at all, and it’s located only at the poles…

          Over 6 billion tons of water, granted at the poles, that is serious amount of water even for a very large civilisation.

          “At the Luna poles there are large quantities of volatiles including nitrogen and carbon compounds.”

          -Again, for a civilization, it’s not large at all. See the Wikipedia page for the Moon composition…

          A few percent of that 6 billion tons is carbon/nitrogen bearing compounds, that is a lot !

          “On the moon we could use magnetic fields and regoilith shielding.”

          -There is no practical artifical magnetic field that can shield you from galactic cosmic rays in the Moon…

          Very powerful magnetic fields can be created to deflect cosmic radiation, far larger than the Earths field. We can also funnel hydrogen in to make water which is a very good radiation barrier.

          “There are lots of volcanoes, extinct, on the moon.”

          -Huh?? Are you kidding me??

          The moon has extensive lava formations, remember they are covered to a large extent by regoilith from countless collisions and there are the Mares.

          http://volcano.oregonstate.edu/oldroot/volcanoes/planet_volcano/lunar/Overview.html

          “This is a strong bonus, but on the moon we could use an electromagnetic rail launcher with ample power available.”

          -Huh? What power? Solar power?… You don’t have carbon nor hydrogen to make plastics either, so you can’t insulate the wires from the solar panels. And you don’t have metal ores either to build the wires or the frames of the panels. That rail launcher is a pipe dream.

          At the poles there is plenty of carbon and hydrogen to manufacture silicon. And calcium can be used as a conductor which is abundant on the moon, electrical insulation is provided by vacuum properties, there is also plenty of free iron on the surface.

          “I am not so sure about this, Mars is cold to a fair depth.”

          -No, it’s not. Mars Express discovered evidence of lava flows only 2 million years old… there must be plenty of geothermal power near the surface of Mars at selected places.

          At selected places…, there is even more over the moons surface.

          “Maybe, but this is very long term.”

          -Not so long. Probably not more than a few centuries for being able to walk on Mars only with a oxygen mask and no space suit.

          Where is all the energy going to come from to melt the ice, as you implied there is vast amount of it. And when we are done terraforming it in a century or two we will have a cold wet wind swept dust bowl to live in…wow can’t wait.

          “The delta v to the moon is much less”

          -Why do you lie…

          I will put this down to a language translation error…on your part!

          -The delta-V required to go from LEO to the lunar surface is 6 km/s… to the Martian surface is only about 4.5 km/s… using the aeroshield for aerodynamic deceleration).

          I did not take the positive effect of the atmosphere into account to reduce the normally higher delta v…if the aerobrake is effective, Mars is known to surprise visiting spacecraft. But you have to go further so carry more stores for the trip plus the heat shield, so in real terms it will cost a more. On the moon we could also make a laser braking system, when a craft is coming in to land a laser is fired and reflected off the bottom of the craft back down to a reflective area on the moon. The laser beam is reflected back and forth getting stronger as the craft gets closer, the braking energy (laser energy) is bleed off to a energy storage area for reuse.

          “there is also the possibility of using lasers to power ion drives to high efficiency from the moon or Earth.”

          -Huh??? Are you seriously saying that astronauts can leave Earth or Moon surface with an ion drive???

          I should have said from orbits and not implied the surface, they are not powerful enough. Alex and Brian put forwards an idea to use ion drives that consume water. The ion drives could be used to move habitats that move from the moons orbit to the earths orbit continuously giving protection on the trips.

    • Mauldred May 5, 2017, 10:00

      Mars is in fact much harder:
      – ten times more expensive to go there because the travel is much much longer and you can’t just cram the astronauts in a tiny capsule with no living space, no shower, no exercise machines and no entertainment.
      – it is much harder to land on due to the deeper gravity well and the atmosphere too thin to slow down with parachutes but dense enough to require a heat shield, hereby increasing the weight of the craft
      – failure is not an option (no Apollo 13-style retrieval in case of emergency mid-way)
      – radiations during the trip (once arrived on the the Moon as on Mars the radiations can be mitigated by using regolite-bricks and water ice shielding, assuming a base has been built by robotic missions before we send the humans, but the trip to the Moon is 3 days long, the trip to Mars is 6 months long).
      – In case of emergency on the surface of Mars, it’s impossible to send a rescue mission which can arrive in time.

      For these reasons it is more sensible to build a base on the Moon first and make sure the technology is mature before trying to do so on Mars.
      If the Moon base is built close to the lunar South Pole where there are ice deposits, fuel can also be made on the Moon by splitting water ice into hydrogen and oxygen.

      • Antonio May 5, 2017, 19:53

        Mauldred:

        “ten times more expensive to go there because the travel is much much longer and you can’t just cram the astronauts in a tiny capsule with no living space, no shower, no exercise machines and no entertainment.”

        Wow! Can you show me your calculations that demonstrate that it would be ten times more expensive?

        Anyway, for the Moon “you can’t just cram the astronauts in a tiny capsule with no living space, no shower, no exercise machines and no entertainment” either. Yeah, the trip is 3 days only, but they need to live somewhere when they reach the Moon, and the only sensible option is to reuse the ship as their surface habitat after landing, just the same than for Mars.

        “it is much harder to land on due to the deeper gravity well and the atmosphere too thin to slow down with parachutes but dense enough to require a heat shield, hereby increasing the weight of the craft”

        There is no need for parachutes, only an aeroshield and around 0.4 km/s of rocket delta-V in the last moments. On the Moon you need 1.9 km/s delta-V for landing and 0.9 km/s for orbit insertion (0.1 km/s for Mars).

        “failure is not an option (no Apollo 13-style retrieval in case of emergency mid-way)”

        Huh?? Of course there is a free-return trayectory for Mars too!

        “radiations during the trip (once arrived on the the Moon as on Mars the radiations can be mitigated by using regolite-bricks and water ice shielding, assuming a base has been built by robotic missions before we send the humans, but the trip to the Moon is 3 days long, the trip to Mars is 6 months long)”

        That’s a very common mistake, repeated ad nauseam. As I explained to Michael, there is much more radiation on the Moon surface. As for the Mars trip, it’s around 0,6 Sv for a 1-year roundtrip without shielding (measured by Curiosity’s RAD instrument). That’s about the same amount of radiation than in an (unshielded) ISS for 2 years. Thus, launching a Mars mission at every launch window (every 2 years) amounts for around the same level of radiation for the astronauts than if they spent the mission time in the ISS.

        “In case of emergency on the surface of Mars, it’s impossible to send a rescue mission which can arrive in time.”

        The same for the Moon. And you have much more resources on the surface of Mars than you can have on the Moon: as much fuel as you wish, hundreds of tons of water and oxygen, etc.

        “For these reasons it is more sensible to build a base on the Moon first and make sure the technology is mature before trying to do so on Mars.”

        The technology for colonizing the Moon has barely nothing in common with the technology for colonizing Mars.

        • Mauldred May 8, 2017, 5:13

          The free-return trajectory from Mars will not allow for a rescue. I could survive 3 days with a bad cough, no heating or no food in space before being rescued, but 6 months that’s very unlikely.

          For the calculations you need to think not only in terms of delta-v, but in terms of spaceship weight with the additional heatshield, the food, the clothes, the living space, the batteries, etc. Achieving the same speed with a much heavier spaceship requires more fuel, and more fuel means heavier, you know, the rocket equation. You can keep it light for a Moon trip, but you can’t for a Mars trip.

          As for the living space once the destination is reached, for both the Moon trip and the Mars trip I assume that the lunar or planetary base would have been already built using in-situ resources by automated machines sent ahead of the human crew and that the manned mission doesn’t need to bring the base along. Anyway that’s how all serious agencies are foreseeing it.

          “The technology for colonizing the Moon has barely nothing in common with the technology for colonizing Mars.”
          Wrong. There are differences, but also many things in common: astronauts need a pressurised habitation whether they are on the Moon or on Mars, they need food whether they are on the Moon or on Mars, they need GCR inslation whether they are on the Moon or on Mars, they need to extract in-situ water, etc

    • Alexander Tolley May 5, 2017, 11:41

      – Existence of an atmosphere that protects from radiation

      No. The thin atmosphere provides no effective radiation protection on the surface.

      The problem of Mars as a site to test ideas is logistics. Mars is months away for any needed supplies. While some might call that a feature, at our current state of technology, that is a problem.

      • Antonio May 5, 2017, 20:11

        Alexander Tolley:

        “No. The thin atmosphere provides no effective radiation protection on the surface.”

        What’s the matter with some people here that they need to lie about data that can be quickly checked with a search engine?

        https://www.universetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/Mars_radiation.jpg

        North Martian hemisphere receives around 12-14 rem/year, or 120-140 mSv/year, without shielding.

        Curiosity received around 330 mSv in half a year when traveling to Mars, with no shielding apart from the rocket (very thin) faring, or 660 mSv/year:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFHQlobJbwY

        For comparison, the maximum yearly dose permitted for US radiation workers is 50 mSv (with shielding): https://xkcd.com/radiation/

    • Joe May 8, 2017, 16:29

      Antonio, Your sales pitch for Mars reminds me of a Frederik Pohl novel I once read where colonists on Mars sold bonds on Earth to finance their colony. The sales presentations all featured beautiful pictures of a terraformed Mars. As the novel progressed, the colony had a lot of problems and the bonds lost their value.

    • Hop David June 6, 2017, 15:51

      MOON VS MARS:
      Launch Windows
      Constantly open vs each 2.14 years
      Trip Time:
      4 days vs 8.5 months
      Volatiles:
      Frozen H20, NH3, N2, CO2 at the lunar cold traps vs a near vacuum CO2 atmosphere and some water ice.
      Sunlight:
      Nearly constant at some lunar plateaus near the poles vs 12 hours of day & 12 hours of night at Mars.
      Temperature swings:
      -40 to -60º C at said plateaus vs -153ºC to 20º C at Mars
      Light lag latency:
      3 seconds vs tens of minutes.
      Delta V for return trip:
      3 km/s vs 6 km/s.
      Bandwidth:
      Around a hundred thousand times better given a comparable power source.
      Establishing a base on the moon is much, much less difficult.

  • ljk May 5, 2017, 10:00

    You know who is going to settle the Moon? The Super Rich (aka Superich) wanting to get away from Earth and all its dangers, especially from the mobs of angry peasants they are anticipating.

    Think I am kidding? See here:

    http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/01/survivalism-for-rich-and-famous.html

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4332818/Inside-billionaire-bunkers-bought-super-rich.html

    I predict that the first manned interstellar vessel will be a hollowed-out planetoid or comet designed as a multigenerational starship for a Superich and his or her followers and other minions. Just look at the real history of Biosphere 2 to see that this is not an impossible idea.

    You think $24 billion in contemporary dollars was spent on Apollo so that we could study some Moon rocks? Same goes for colonizing the Sol system or a mission to another star system. The only reason we even have something like a serious discussion of interstellar exploration (Breakthrough Starshot) is due to the financial generosity and foresight of a Russian billionaire. Before this it was a lot of talk, white papers, and starship designs that did not have a ghost of a chance of being built any time soon, if ever (except Orion).

    No one is going to do any serious space utilization unless they are going to make a profit from it, either financial or political, or ideally both. Our space programs would be a whisper of what they are even now if it had not been for the Cold War and not science. That was just the cover. Go read the history of the launches of the first satellites. Both the USSR and US had the nerve to claim they were doing this as part of the International Geophysical Year (IGY). It was not a lie, technically, but you are politically naïve if you think these superpowers were launching satellites just to learn more about space.

  • ljk May 9, 2017, 10:43

    Can humans survive the trip to Mars and then live and work on the Red Planet?

    https://omni.media/the-physiological-and-psychological-aspects-of-sending-humans-to-mars