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30 September 2016


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Dear Colonel, I do not see it happening without a space elevator, and thus its telling that Elon is not strongly investing in that direction - which to me means that it is not in the near future. I think it could be in my lifetime if it received serious investment.

Babak Makkinejad

Not biologically feasible.

Human life, indeed all life on Earth, is intimately influenced by the gravitational and electromagnetic fields at Earth's surface. Mars has no magnetic field and its surface gravity is 1/3 of Earth's. It is not just that human fetuses would be unviable or born defective, it is likely that the long-term health of adults is also in jeopardy (bone density loss, in analogous manner to the effects suffered by long-endurance space flight astronauts).

But Musk can talk a good talk and get money out of people... Just look at his unviable Tesla Motors...

michael brenner

How about getting us from Rockland County to Hoboken safely for $12.50? My nephew who takes that train daily has contained his enthusiasm about a Cook's tour of the solar system.


"Tickets for the journey will cost an estimated $200,000."
Dehydrated food, water and oxygen are extra of course. And what's the surcharge for extra carry on bags?

Will the settlers be considered employees of SpaceX? Will they still be citizens of the nations they came from? I wonder what kind of political system will be put in place.

Sam Peralta


Why Mars? It would mean living in some kind of controlled environment. So, why not just a space city?

Also, what is this fascination with living in cramped quarters, zero gravity, etc? Why not just send robots to extract something useful for us on earth? And find distant planets that have a similar atmosphere.


It will be both very risky, very expensive, with no obvious prospect for sustainable gains. If someone pulls off a fairly minimal Mars landing (and recovery of the astronauts), it will be a huge one time boon to his/her/their prestige, for the short term, but I don't see how any sane person would consider shipping 100 people or hundreds of tons of cargo to Mars as anything halfway realistic. The technology may or may not be there (to pull it off reasonably safely--the technology to pull it off at big risk is already there). But how will pay for it?

For now, SpaceX is indulging in publicity stunts because near-earth space tourism may well be a reasonably cost-effective venture soon enough and there is good money to be made subcontracting for NASA (ironically because gov't is still spending a lot of money on manned space programs, even if it's not building its own rockets. If SpaceX or whoever tries to get to Mars, it will be because NASA has a Mars program with a big budget, except it'll bring in pvt contractors instead of running its own program.


Glad to see a big name like Musk bringing attention to travel to Mars.

The Mars Society has been working on this since 1998. They have many smart engineers and scientists contributing to research and planning. They run 'living on Mars' simulations annually in the arctic and in the Utah desert and much more. http://www.marssociety.org/

We have been donating to the Mars Society for many years. Since the US Gov has gotten out of the space travel business, the dream goes on elsewhere.

mike allen

I believe it is theoretically possible, the old Saturn launch vehicle had a payload of over 150 tons and that was designed and built back in the 1960s. But there are massive engineering challenges ahead to make a 450 ton payload vehicle happen. Could they do it by 2024 only eight years away. I agree with Musk that 2024 would be optimistic. Extremely so!

Musk's 'Falcon Heavy' launch vehicle, which is still under development, would only be capable of boosting a 54 ton payload to low earth orbit. His 2024 planetary ship payload of 450 tons is an order of magnitude above that.

But I wish him luck.

RE Silc

Will this be before or after they invent smellivision?

Allen Thomson

It's not just the reusable booster which is, as others note, mind-boggling ambitious. But Musk has something of a track record for doing that kind of thing, so I'll cede him getting there in the 2020s. But after that, there's the whole long-duration life support question, which will require systems considerably beyond any we have today. (Same's true for NASA's Journey to Mars.) Those systems will have to be developed and, hopefully, tested and demonstrated on something like full scale. Doable, but it won't be cheap and it won't be fast.

The other thing I wonder about is the money. 100 $200k tickets bring in $20 million, which is considerably less than the cost of a Falcon 9 launch today. How's Musk going to finance this venture?


the following article explains the economy of scale on Musk's big fxking rocket idea. Lots of illustrations and videos
the interesting thing about mars to me is 1/3 of the gravity. Will there be taller people with weaker bones? The rocket ticket price depends on massive reusable rockets, some space assembly, and fuel production on Mars for the return trips. The timeline is the year 2025 for the first trip.



Also, Jeff Bezos has his own Mars expedition plans. Good, competition speeds development.


No, the "best" disability is a nearly total lack of atmosphere, about %1 of the one on earth, thus pressurized space suits and oxygen bottles all day long.
I am dumbfounded that such a raving mad idiocy as "colonizing Mars" gets any credit.
But morons are everywhere, did you know that a prankster suggested to drill holes in the iPhone 7 for the missing jack and that some tried?


There are "massive engineering challenges" just to replicate the Saturn V, same for the Concorde BTW.
Is this seems strange to some recall that highly technical products critically depend on a very specific, rich and large substrate of special purpose tools, this is called "Fabricatory Depth":


Why doesn't he try to assemble the spacecraft in orbit, instead of boosting the whole thing to orbit in one lift?

John Minnerath

It's disappointing to read so many negative comments about such an endeavor.
Will Space-X do it?, in the time frame they propose? The odds are against them, but it will happen.
These same doubts and fears, of the new and unknown plague humanity.
Every new development, probably from the use of fire to space travel and deep sea habitats has been ridiculed and condemned.
I'm glad to see there are still some who look to go to new frontiers.


Sounds very off to me. I also have a hunch that Musk is a great salesman but not so much a man who could ever run a steady business.

The 200,000 per travel is probably for the millionth passenger flight. For the earlier ones one will have to append a few zeros.
The upfront costs and first trial risks are huge. The risk to the later passengers is also big. The Space Shuttle was build with with a calculated 1-total-failure-per-100-flights risk. It pretty well hit that target. What is the risk factor of Mars flights? 1 in 5?

But maybe Musk can scam the U.S. gov and NASA into financing the thing.

A Pols

Techno-Triumphalist fantasy to "La Sixieme Puissance"....


And Solar City - I suspect few investors read the footnotes in SC's 10Q!


I agree completely. It's one thing to create an environment for a few people to survive in a deadly environment at great cost but it's a totally different task for a few people, let alone a self sustaining population to thrive in a deadly environment.

Daniel Nicolas

I watched his presentation. The elephant in the room was addressed: to do what he all of what he proposes would require funding upwards of ~$10B for their part of this alone. He pitched the project as a very likely to be a Public-Private partnership, but left it open as far as where the funds would come to aggressively pursue this goal. Their existing Falcon 9 and soon to be Falcon Heavy rocket systems, along with their Dragon 2 and Red Dragon capsule systems appear to be the baseline plausable effort without outside funding options.

The key part of the presentation is that they picture themselves as a small part of a much larger Space / Mars business ecosystem. They want to be the transportation part of things. Many others will need to catch the vision and spend billions on building a colony on Mars.

I think they can do much of what they propose, and if he is as dedicated to this goal as it sounds, Musk might even sell Tesla to GM/Ford to close the gap if it appears that the federal government isn't willing to go with him on this. Even still, you can have regular missions every 2 years going to Mars, but if he cannot get other people and countries to buy into the idea of building a peaceful business community in space the idea of having a huge colony on Mars is dead on arrival.

You could build a train to the North Pole, but will people want to move there?

Ishmael Zechariah

You all might remember that, one cannot even repair or duplicate the 16"/50 caliber Mark 7 guns of Iowa class battleships in this FaceBook age.

These are truly amazing devices: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16%22/50_caliber_Mark_7_gun

Once the production capability is gone, it is very, very, very hard to get it back. One day our lords and masters and their followers will learn this the hard way.
Ishmael Zechariah

The Twisted Genius


Good to hear about the Mars Society. I remember my friends and I designing spaceships and space stations back in the glorious days of the space race in the 60s. We built models of all the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules and engaged in model rocketry. I miss the enthusiasm and optimism of those days. It's in our nature to explore the unknown As the Vikings said, "Bundìn er bàtlaus mađur." (Bound is boatless man.)

I applaud Musk's vision. In addition to some of the unique technical aspects of the project, I find the concept of a larger group of explorers/colonizers to be a real plus. This is quite a departure from the usual handful of astronauts in most plans. I think this larger group would solve a host of possible social/psychological problems associated with such a long and dangerous endeavor.


I'm sure a bg part of this is to sell sizzle to the public while he gets Uncle Sam to fund his commercial rocket program. That's been his MO at least with Tesla and Solar City. Maybe all he'll have to do is give a few million to the Clinton Foundation.

The Twisted Genius

John Minnerath,

I share your disappointment. What's life without overcoming technical and physical challenges, facing danger square in the eye and exploring the unknown. I'm sure you remember this old jody:

He knew the world was round-o,
He knew it could be found-o,
That calculatin', navigatin', son-of-a-bitch, Colombo.

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