Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Going to Mars

Every once in a while, I happen across a bit of information that indicates The Future Is On Its Way! It doesn’t seem to be arriving in a way that’s logical or methodical (to me), but I’m not in charge of these things.
I would have thought it logical to build the space station into an actual way station, possibly even a place to build things like space ships. They could be ‘launched’ without having to battle their way out of the Earth’s gravity.
They could be built with resources mined from the moon, which has much less gravity, so getting those materials into space would take less fuel. That would mean there would need to be some kind of working colony on the moon, to provide workers for the mine, and possibly for refining the materials, or even making the pieces for the space ship. And, of course, to care for the support systems for the workers; the food (garden), air and water supplies.
Eventually, some of that mining could be moved to the asteroid belt. More stations could be built out there, as way stations/refineries/colonies. From there, it seems it would be relatively easy to move on to Mars.
I know, I’m talking old school science fiction stories. Well, a lot of the science fiction authors I read as a young person were also scientists, so they tended to think these things out logically.
Instead, I find articles about thousands of people being whittled down to a handful of colonists for Mars. (How are they getting there? Where will they live? How many supplies will they need to take with them? I haven’t heard anything about any of that.)The space station humans worked so hard to create is all but forgotten. Same with the moon. A warp-speed ship is being designed, even though no one knows how to create warp speed.
The latest article I saw is about NASA’s plan to create one component of rocket fuel on Mars. No humans required. Although, once those humans did arrive, they could breath the component, since the robots NASA plans to send will be converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. The other component needed for rocket fuel - hydrogen - was mentioned in the article, but as an after-thought. As if all the colonists would need to do is run down to the local grocery store and get some.
I’m excited by the prospect of humans going to Mars and that someone is thinking far enough ahead to spend time designing a warp-speed ship. BUT I really think these things need a support system behind them. Otherwise, we are just asking for failure. One tiny little failure could doom a colony that had to rely on Earth for help. It would still take time for help to arrive from an asteroid colony, but not as much time.

Okay. We’ve taken a couple baby steps into space. Now we’re reaching for the big shiny toy in the next room, completely ignoring all the not-as-shiny toys between us and there.

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