End of the Earth and new Life on Mars

Data’s good at the dawn of the 21st
century space agencies in Europe and
America began making plans to land the
first humans on Mars
but manned missions to the red planet
have been proposed before
for some Mars holds the answers to
mankind’s future in space others say
Mars is too far too dangerous and too
expensive for humans to explore
and in a world torn by troubles some say
there is no need or will for mankind to
reach into space anymore more than 30
years after the last Apollo astronaut
walked on the moon the American manned
space program seems to have lost its way
unable to reach beyond even low-earth
orbit we’ve got a problem
NASA has been literally going around in
circles with its space program for the
past 30 years astronautical engineer dr.
Robert Zubrin has been arguing for years
that sending humans to Mars is the
mission the space program needs it’s
time that we set goals for NASA that
were worthy of the risks of human
spaceflight Mars is the next logical
step in our space program it’s the
challenge that’s been staring us in the
face for the past 30 years it’s the
planet that’s most likely earth it’s the
planet that has honored the resources
needed to support life and therefore
someday technological civilization it’s
the planet that will provide us with the
answer as to whether life is prevalent
in the universe or exclusive to the
earth and it’s the planet that will give
us the critical tests to whether
humanity can break out of the planet of
our birth and become a spacefaring
in the early 1990s Zubrin was the head
of the Mars direct program at Martin
Marietta astronautics his team developed
a mission to Mars that could be done at
a fraction of NASA’s projected costs
using only existing technology Zubrin
argues that the first steps on Martian
soil could be made within 10 years there
is absolutely nothing in the status
beyond our technology we are not ready
to send humans to Mars right now we
don’t know how to keep them alive there
are people out there who say we can go
to Mars tomorrow one of my requirements
one of NASA’s requirements is that if we
send humans to Mars we bring them back
alive for the past 15 years
Zubrin and his colleagues have waged a
campaign to convince society and the
political class that humans on Mars
should be the goal for NASA now
this is the story of a cold neighboring
planet and the debate over whether man’s
fate is tied to the red world it’s the
story of an engineer’s journey and the
battle of ideas of which direction in
space will truly benefit mankind we’re
at a crossroads today we either muster
the courage to go or we risk the
possibility of stagnation indicate the
victor in this debate could determine
the fate of mankind will we become a
spacefaring species will we live on more
than one planet
in the winter of 2003 the Chinese put
their first title in space
the Chinese space administration plans
to begin a manned program of moon
exploration by 2017
the european space agency has outlined a
plan for humans to the moon by 2024 and
to mars by 2033
and the Russians building on years of
experience are conducting tests for
long-duration Mars missions
in America with the impending retirement
of the shuttle fleet in the completion
of the International Space Station the
Bush administration announced in 2004
the constellation program on the moon a
plan that would return Americans to the
moon by 2020
but the program was never fully funded
was eventually canceled
in 2010 the Obama administration
announced its vision for NASA and human
Mars exploration by the mid 2030s I
believe we can send humans to orbit Mars
and return them safely to earth and
landing on Mars will follow and I expect
to be around to see it
with a new timeline for humans to Mars
sometime after 2035 and with
administration’s changing every four or
eight years
it is far from certain that such a plan
will be realized 20 years earlier
the first President Bush also proposed a
long internal human exploration program
and the great fanfare the program
quietly died in Congress few years later
if you want to go to Mars you cannot do
it in 30 years you can’t do in 20s you
got to do it in 10 years or some
programs start or you’re more or less
guaranteeing political failure to date
only the Apollo moon program which was
announced in 1961 and had men on the
moon eight years later has succeeded in
getting astronauts beyond low Earth
I was 5 when Sputnik flew and while to
the adults Sputnik was a terrifying
event to me as a child who was already
reading science fiction it was
exhilarating because it meant that this
possibility of a spacefaring future was
going to be real and I was 9 when can he
gave his speech committing us to the
moon do the other things not because
they are easy but because they are hard
I grew up during the 60s when news
mercury was Gemini Apollo every month
NASA was doing something more impressive
than in a month before we were going to
be on the moon by 1970 Mars by 1980
Saturn by 1990 Alpha Centauri by the
year 2000 we were moving out and I
wanted to be part of that and so I got
myself a scientific education but then
in the early 70s it’s all collapsed we
achieved the first part of that program
moon by 1970 but the Nixon
administration shut down the rest and we
did not move out into space and for a
while I accepted that grudgingly became
a science teacher but then in the early
80s something hit me and I said I’m not
going to accept myself doing less than
what I had dreamed of doing when I was a
Zubrin went back to graduate school
getting advanced degrees in engineering
into aerospace he then went on to work
at Martin Marietta which later became
Lockheed Martin designing interplanetary
it was here that zubrin’s obsession with
the red planet began to take hold
while at Martin in the 1990s Zubrin and
his colleagues developed a plan for
sending humans to Mars that changed
NASA’s thinking on the issue
but the plan has languished on the
drawing boards ever since now as
president of the Mars Society Zubrin is
at center stage in the debate over the
future of manned spaceflight known as a
smart visionary scientist he’s authored
several books on exploring space and is
the self-appointed spokesman for the
possibility of colonizing Mars Mars is
where the futurist Mars is the closest
planet to the earth that has honored all
the resources needed to support life and
therefore technological civilization it
has water it has carbon it has nitrogens
it has a 24-hour day it has a complex
geological history that has created
mineral org it has sources of geothermal
energy Mars is a place we can settle
one reason for such optimism over a
frozen world like Mars is evidence that
two billion years ago Mars was a much
warmer and wetter place we think that at
one time in the ancient past Mars was
very similar to the condition of early
this Martian war mage lasted for over a
billion years and could have been a
suitable environment for the development
of life if we go to Mars and find
evidence of a second Genesis on Mars I
think we can conclude that the universe
is full of life we can probably conclude
that on some planets that life evolves
to more complex forms and I think we’d
be reasonable to conclude that
intelligence could also merge on some
planets as well it really does answer
the question are we alone Matt to me is
a question that transcends science it’s
a philosophical societal as well as
scientific question to me that’s the big
that’s what why Mars is interesting
that’s why human exploration makes sense
space programs are often criticized for
the huge sums of money they require
although the American space program is
less than 1% of the federal budget human
mission to Mars
may have to wait for better times there
are those who say that we have many
problems to deal with here on earth and
we need to postpone ventures such as the
human exploration on Mars until these
problems are solved well there are many
problems in Spain in 1492 and there
still are there are problems that need
to be dealt with here on earth and
should be dealt with but we also have to
think of the future you also have to
think about opening up new volumes in
I believe that it’s essential for a
positive human future that a manatee
expand into space
the greatest value that we got out of a
poem was the creation of intellectual
capital through the inspiring of
millions to go into science and
engineering to be part of the great
adventure of human expansion to space
there’s a phrase that happened with the
Apollo program which was if we can go to
the moon we can and everybody’s filled
in whatever they were interested in
build mass transit your cancer through
this to that the point is it did give us
a sense that we could accomplish great
things it did bring out the best of us
we excited a generation of engineers and
scientists the generation have built the
computers and cell phones and all the
technology everybody uses today and
takes for granted if we set humans to
Mars our goal will get millions of new
scientists that will create new
inventions new industries this is the
enormous payback and we can get it if we
set the kind of challenge that will
inspire these
to Zubrin civilizations like people
thrive on challenge decay without it we
have everything we have today because of
our predecessors who had the courage to
leave the world of the known and go out
into the wilderness and build new cities
and if we stop being people like that
then we will hand down much less to our
posterity that our ancestors handed down
to us so there’s the choice in life one
either grows or one decays grow or die I
think we should grow history proves that
we have never lost by pressing the
limits of our frontier
in the summer of 1989 the first
President Bush announced the space
exploration initiative directing NASA to
draw up long-term plans to get humans
back to the moon and begin developing a
program of manned Mars exploration at
Martin Marietta Zubrin and his
colleagues looked forward to moving
NASA’s Space Program outwards after two
decades in low-earth orbit of course we
were very excited when Bush made his
call saying that he was making a
national commitment to implement such a
program NASA assembled a large team to
take on the space initiative in 90 days
the team developed a 30-year plan that
required an enormous buildup of space
infrastructure what the NASA bureaucracy
decided to do was basically design the
most complex mission they possibly could
in order to make sure that everyone’s
pet technology would remain
mission-critical which is the exact
opposite of the correct way to do
engineering first NASA would triple the
size of the planned space station and
add enormous hangars as well as
free-floating fuel depots checkout docks
and cruise stations then on the moon
they would construct more shipbuilding
facilities bases and depots next the
moon crew would construct the Mars ship
a huge craft dubbed by his detractors as
Battlestar Gallactica this ship would
carry everything to Mars over an
18-month flight
once in Mars orbit a small group would
descend to the surface spend a few days
then plant a flag in the ground and go
home the plan became known as the 90-day
report to those of us at Martin who had
been engaged in designing Mars missions
when they saw the monstrosity of
complexity of the 90-day report we were
dismayed and it was readily apparent to
anyone with any insight that that
program would fail politically the plan
was submitted to Congress
the estimated cost 450 billion the
legislators went into sticker shock this
would have been the single most
expensive program for the United States
since World War two by the end of 1990
Congress had refused all requests for
sei funding when the realization came
the sei was doomed Zubrin wrote a memo
to his colleagues at Martin Marietta
outlining his problems with the NASA
plan and arguing for a more direct
Zubrin favored launching a Mars mission
directly from the surface of Earth using
only existing rocket technology this
negated the need for a lunar base and
avoided the complexity and cost of
building ships in space he also objected
to NASA’s plan for a short surface stay
on Mars a mission that would amount to
little more than a flag and footprints
to Zubrin we were going to Mars to
explore and develop a new world to
maximize surface time
Zubrin proposed using a faster flight
path known as a conjunction class
mission this would mean a crew could
arrive on Mars
after only a six-month journey they
would then remain on the Martian surface
for a year and a half this would give
the team time to explore a wide area and
conduct detailed research about the
planet then as the earth returned window
opens crew would launch from Mars
six-month trip home
Zubrin was convinced that our simplified
more robust and cost-effective mission
could be designed using these principles
along with several like-minded
colleagues Zubrin decided to ask
management that martin to allow them to
design alternative Mars missions
the management approved it and we formed
a team was known as the scenario
development team of just 12 people from
the whole very large Martin company one
team member whose thinking was closely
aligned with zubrin’s was David Baker I
went off to my office and said alright
how would I do a Mars mission if I had
to pay for it and I had to go on the
ride and I said well it’s going to be
simple it’s gonna be no on-orbit
assembly I really tried to take
everything out of the mission that
didn’t absolutely need to be there while
the rest of the team focused on
longer-term more traditional mission
plans that required on-orbit assembly
Zubrin and Baker decided to collaborate
on a mission that could be done
near-term we decided to do Mars the way
Lewis and Clark did America okay use
local resources travel light
live off the land Zubrin and Baker
convinced that a Mars mission could be
launched directly from the ground
team members felt this was impossible
but the weight of the rocket fuel
required for a round trip to Mars was so
enormous it would render the launch ship
possibly heavy to solve this problem
Zubrin was exploring a radical idea that
had been kicked around the aerospace
industry since the 1970s the idea was to
produce a methane-oxygen rocket fuel
directly from the Martian atmosphere it
was a relatively simple and robust
Chemical Engineering procedure that was
done commonly in the 1800’s the era of
the gas light if the idea worked
astronauts could land a relatively light
ship with empty tanks they wouldn’t have
to ship all the fuel with them for their
return trip this would radically lower
their size and weight
the only problem was methane-oxygen fuel
requires a hydrogen component hydrogen
exists on Mars in the form of h2o but
water may be difficult or impossible to
extract from the Martian environment
really the hydrogen was only 5% of the
total weight of the methane-oxygen
propellant being manufactured so if you
just say ok we won’t be pure we all get
all of the propellant from Mars we’ll
just get 95% of the propellant from Mars
the other 5% the hydrogen will just
bring from Earth another fundamental
resource that could be extracted from
the Martian environment is oxygen second
processing unit could separate oxygen
molecules from the thin carbon dioxide
atmosphere providing breathable air for
a Mars crew if used intelligently the
same resources that make Mars
interesting are precisely what could
make it attainable Baker and Zubrin had
greatly reduced their mission mass but
they still found their ship was too
heavy and would require two launches and
assembly in space then Zubrin hit on an
idea one of the key events of the Mars
directive element was one morning Bob
burst in my office and said I’ve got it
the idea that I finally hit on in 1989
was that we had split the mission up
into two parts and we’d send the return
vehicle out first with its own return
propellant plant so the propellant would
be made on Mars before the first
astronauts ever left her
with two separate direct Mars launches a
human crew would have a fully fueled
ship waiting for them on the surface of
Mars before they ever left Earth
so Zubrin and Baker had come up with a
plan that seemed to accomplish all of
their goals it was relatively
inexpensive development time was short
they could use existing technology and
it allowed for a long stay on the
Martian surface
they dubbed their idea Mars direct on
board and Ares rocket is the earth
return vehicle or ERV
no one has aboard this ship it will pave
the way for the astronauts who are years
later or is the ERV to return to Earth
on its second day the ERV deploys a
small nuclear power reactor
the reactor powers a chemical plant
inside the ERV the plant will produce
the methane-oxygen rocket fuel for the
launch home
nearby a second robotic rover is guided
to a pre-picked landing site for the
human crew it places a radar transponder
to help guide the astronauts in
the long journey to land a human being
on Mars beginners
three two one engine stop
carrying the most skillfully assembled
flight team in history four astronauts
begin their two and a half year mission
to the Red Planet this will be the first
time a human has gone beyond the
earth-moon system 250 million miles
farther than any person has ever been
to counter the health problems of zero
gravity to fully a Clemente the
astronauts to Mars ship will deploy a
weight in tether attached to the last
stage of the spent rocket booster by
thrusting the ship into a rotational
spin counterweight of the rocket will
create centrifugal force and thus
artificial gravity the crew will be able
to live with their feet planted firmly
on the floor during their six-month
transit but the hab is not entirely
alone on its journey just ahead of it is
a second ERV identical to the first
launched just a few weeks prior to the
hab it will prepare the way for a second
human crew that will follow two years
later it can also function as a backup
for the first mission if anything should
go wrong
on six-month of the flight the crew gaze
upon an alien world this is the new
oh yes exactly
after days in orbit unsatisfied with the
landing conditions the crew will receive
final word from Mission Control on earth
all systems are go for entry descent
landing three two one
it will be a tense 40 minutes before
people back on earth get the signal from
Mars and know if everything has gone
well I got
exactly okay engine stop with the Yelp
for more than 500 days the astronauts
will live on Mars and embark on one of
the greatest journeys of discovery in
the history of science
will they find life or the fossilized
remains of past life
such a discovery could tell us whether
our solar system has seen more than one
and answer the ultimate question are we
in any case these explorers will be
learning how feasible the colonization
of Mars really is and whether or not
mankind as a future among the stars
then when the time comes the window for
Earth return opens cruel climb into
their earth return vehicle and head Oh
they will arrive home heroes the first
to stretch the limit of mounds expanse
from one planet to another
their names added to the list of great
explorers of new worlds
in their footsteps others follow
what began as a trickle is free to rise
into a deluge of humankind sweeping over
a once barren land and transforming it
into a viable new world
when Baker and Zubrin presented Mars
direct their bosses at Martin they
expected the worst to their surprise
management was excited about it they
liked the fact that everything needed
was relatively simple and near-term
as time went on Martin Marietta embraced
Mars direct as their creation and put
Bob and I on an airplane to several NASA
centers to present Mars direct and try
to build some momentum for Baker and
Zubrin flew to the Marshall Space Flight
Center in Huntsville Alabama
this had been one of the original design
hubs for the Apollo moon landings but
recently many of the engineers had
become demoralized by the failure of
NASA’s sei program tag-team style Baker
and Zubrin presented their alternative
mission architecture the response was
thrilling the old-school Apollo crowd
embraced it this was a plan that
actually made sense and was within reach
Baker and I gave a number of briefings
the first was at the Marshall Space
Flight Center next was a chance these
people were incredibly excited over the
next few weeks
Zubrin and Baker were flown around the
country pitching to all branches of NASA
and everywhere they went the response
was electric the plan was standing up to
scrutiny and groups all over NASA were
converting to Mars direct their tour
culminated in a public presentation to
the National Space Society the crowd
gave the two aerospace engineers
standing ovations
a week later story was in newspapers
around the country
a counter-attack was beginning to form
within NASA the space station teams and
many in the advanced propulsion groups
were against the idea since Mars direct
didn’t need their programs they fell
under threat as quickly as doors opened
for Zubrin and Baker they began to close
NASA didn’t want to pursue a Mars
mission at that time they didn’t want to
be derailed by a bunch of Mars fanatics
that thought that their idea of what
NASA should do should overwhelm what
NASA thought NASA should do what we did
in Mars direct was literally come up
with the leanest solution the one that
involved the least spending on an
assortment of technologies and
infrastructural elements including for
example we made no use whatsoever of the
International Space Station and so
people involved in all those programs
were very upset because we were showing
that you can go to Mars without their
program being required they felt that we
were justified the Nasser administration
rejected Mars direct
the two engineers were Outsiders again
but Zubrin remained determined Bob had
grabbed hold of it and I could see that
it was his and no matter what I did he
was going to do what he was going to do
and he was going to be a proponent for
it and push it and I really saw my role
sort of evaporate it’s a little bit like
being a dim planet next to a bright star
around him in terms of his enthusiasm
and you really can’t compete with that
all you can do is decide how you’re
going to deal with it by February 1991
Baker quit Martin to start his own firm
Zubrin battled on for the next year and
a half
Zubrin tried to get NASA to pay
attention giving speeches writing papers
but Mars directs time seemed to have
but then in 1992 a new administration
came into power at NASA and Zubrin saw a
second chance I was invited to brief
Mike Griffin who was the associate
administrator for space exploration in
charge of the whole space exploration
initiative he immediately became a very
strong supporter Mars direct but before
the engineers at NASA would take another
look at Mars direct they wanted Zubrin
to prove the producing rocket fuel on
Mars could work
they gave Martin Marietta a small budget
to do an experiment Zubrin and his team
built a machine called the in-situ
propellant plan it could take carbon
dioxide the dominant gas in the Martian
atmosphere combine it with a little
hydrogen and produce a methane-oxygen
fuel we did it in three months with a
very small team we built a plant that
was 94% efficient and no one who
actually participated in that effort was
actually a real chemical engineer they
were all aerospace engineers like me who
were simply dabbling in chemistry in
order to prove to NASA that 19th century
chemical engineering really worked with
the experiment success the
administration had Zubrin give detailed
briefings of the mission plan to the
engineers of the Johnson Space Center
they liked it but had some problems Dave
Weaver was the lead mission architect
there were a number of things that we
were concerned about with bob zubrin’s
mission first of all we thought his
estimates of mass were probably too
optimistic didn’t have sufficient
margins for a variety of things not the
least of which would be things like
provisions for the crew the amount of
water that would be required we thought
as a sent vehicle was very large which
meant his power requirements his
propellant requirements were much larger
than needed to be his trip times out
were too long and that for a very little
effort you could get him shorter the
other problem was the size of his crew
he had a four-person crew I think
virtually every study that’s been done
says that a four-person crew for a
three-year type of mission is probably
not realistic
Weaver took Zubrin into his office and
the two men worked out compromised
mission architecture first Weaver wanted
three launches for every mission instead
of two the first year three ships would
launch a MAV Mars ascent vehicle an
unoccupied hab and an ERV earth return
vehicle the harb and MAV would land on
the surface and begin producing fuel for
the return flight and air for the crew
these crafts would spend to solitary
years on Mars allowing NASA to test all
of the system’s before sending a human
crew then in the third year three more
ships would launch this time with the
hab occupied by astronauts the other two
ships are for a future mission unless
needed as a backup for this crew once on
Mars the team could also utilize the
first half
then after a year and a half stay the
crew would climb aboard their small
capsule and rendezvous with the return
ship this ship would carry them back
home in a roomier environment than
zubrin’s ERV Zubrin called the plan Mars
semi direct NASA called it the design
reference mission they had a larger crew
than we had they had bigger ships they
had more equipment they had heavier
equipment so they had to do the mission
in three launches instead of two but it
was done with the same principles of
Mars direct the plan was subjected to
the same cost analysis that tagged the
90-day report with a four hundred and
fifty billion dollar price tag the
design reference mission came back at a
fraction of the cost fifty five billion
spread out over ten years could be done
within NASA’s existing budget the plan
made the cover of Newsweek
here was a mission architecture that was
affordable and could be done today with
existing technology but NASA’s
astronauts have not left low-earth orbit
with the completion of the International
Space Station and the retiring of the
space shuttle program a debate rages
over the future of space exploration
should NASA continue to focus on
low-earth orbit developing technologies
for the future or shouldn’t a sir have a
goal like it did in the 1960s with
Apollo the way we got to the moon was by
a presidential imperative that demanded
that NASA get to the moon within a
so NASA was forced to sit down design a
plan for how to do that and then fly the
mission since that time without the
presence of the driving imperative we
engage in basically a random set of
constituency driven programs which are
justified ad hoc afterwards by the
argument that they could prove useful at
some time in the future when you
actually have a plan to go somewhere
I think nASA has focused on a steady
process where the government can’t just
pull the plug on their funding
I think the Apollo cancellation was very
traumatic for NASA and it really
transformed NASA from what it was in the
60s to more of what it is now if you
have a singular program like going to
Mars then it is very vulnerable to
having its funding pull
NASA must be destination-driven it is
the only thing that allows the agency to
be productive NASA was a hundred times
more productive when it was destination
driven than in the period that has not
been and we have stagnated in NASA since
1973 thirty years more than a generation
has been wasted
the American space programs been
stagnant for thirty years there is a
once-in-a-generation shot right now to
get it moving again by giving it a goal
that will take it somewhere the stakes
today are high and if you ask me if I am
nervous right now
I and
dr. Zuber why is NASA stuck in low-earth
the problem with NASA’s lack of current
achievement is not money the problem is
lack of focus its lack of a goal it
shouldn’t be humans to Mars in 50 years
it should be humans to Mars in 10 we can
do this we do not need gigantic
nuclear-electric spaceships to send
people to Mars that that is pork it’s
nonsense the primary question I get from
American people is why aren’t we doing
this there’s a big sense of
disappointment almost verging on a sense
of betrayal the purpose of spaceships is
to actually travel across space and go
to new worlds not to hang out in space
and observe the health effects from
doing so dr. Zubrin in your testimony
you were very passionate but you also
were mad you’re mad we haven’t done this
or that this vision has been stolen from
a generation I guess you could say that
it’s like Columbus coming back from the
New World and Ferdinand and Isabella
saying ask so what forget it burned the
ships okay you know that’s what has
happened in this country
we’ve won our point that there needs to
be a destination what we need the point
we need to win on now is the destination
needs to be Mars and it needs to be suit
the movement to send humans to Mars in
the near term began at the University of
Colorado in 1978 a graduate student in
Astro geophysics named Chris McKay gave
a small seminar on the possibility of
introducing life to Mars I got
interested in Mars in graduate school I
enter graduate school the same year that
Viking landed on Mars and sent back
these images that sent back data that
showed all the elements needed for life
are here on this planet and yet there’s
no life here well that’s odd sort of the
lights are on and nobody’s home and I
thought well that’s curious so some of
my other grad students and I we sort of
got together to talk about well if
there’s no life on Mars now could we put
life there and that evolved also into
the question was maybe there was life in
the past and we could find fossils
evidence of it well how would you do
that while you do that by sending people
there together with fellow graduate
students the group decided to put
together a small conference to discuss
the matter of human Mars exploration
we basically just started a forum we
invited everybody from all the NASA
centers and from all the universities
were involved in it and they all came
and it was it really was in retrospect I
realized a very important step toward
building a consensus for human
exploration of Mars in 1996 I published
my first book the case for Mars and the
response was phenomenal I got 4,000
letters from all of the world
I had paracin bankers and
twelve-year-old kids in Poland and
firemen from Saskatoon
and astronauts and they’re all writing
me and saying how do we make this happen
Bob Zubrin came to the third Mars
conference and got very much involved he
was willing and interested in forming a
society forming a group and organizing
said look if we could pull these people
together we can get them to work
together we could have a force that
could actually make humans to Mars had
the group formed the Mars Society Robert
Zubrin became the president they held
their first convention in 1998 that
convention was just magic we had no idea
how many people were coming they were
there not just from the United States
Canada Europe they were there for Israel
they were there from Mozambique we were
there from New Zealand
it was astonished
since its inception the Mars Society has
attracted members worldwide
Derek Shannon is the head of the
Southern California Chapter he’s met
with political leaders from all over the
country if you make them look at the
whole Mars vision in historical terms it
becomes a much easier so how will the
remember our century they’re probably
not going to remember our deficit our
Wars our healthcare those will be
footnotes what they’ll remember is it
out of all of human history there came a
generation that decided to take this
amazing step out into space and if you
tell politicians that they’re the ones
whose names actually get to be
remembered that’s when hopefully the
space program starts going somewhere
in order to further the knowledge
necessary for a manned mission to the
red planet the Mars Society has been
building research stations around the
globe all of them based on the design of
zubrin’s hab module
most recently the society set up a
desert Research Station in Utah here
international researchers and aerospace
student come to do experiments under the
harsh desert conditions and learn what’s
necessary to keep a Mars crew alive and
productive basically what we’re doing
here is undergoing analog studies crews
of up to six people at a time come
together to live in a full simulation
environment for up to 14 days so what
that means is every time we go outside
the hab people have to Don spacesuits
after depressurize when we go outside
they called extra vehicular activities
they can only view a certain duration to
the air supply we have to recycle and
water basically have our own food as
it’s great to fantasize but it’s another
thing when you have to put it together
when the nuts have to fit the bolts
like the Apollo missions to the moon
sending human beings to Mars will mean
putting people in harm’s way
there are many dangers in outer space
and many things could go wrong a serious
equipment breakdown could doom the crew
to their deaths some argue that the risk
of failure is simply too high you know
back in the days when medieval man was
looking out from Europe thinking about
exploring in the world the world was
unknown and mapmakers populated their
maps with dragons we’ve got the same
thing today there are people who are
afraid to go out into space and they’ve
populated their maps of the solar system
we’ve got cosmic radiation we’ve got
zero gravity we’ve got that
contamination but these are dragons that
we can take on
there are two kinds of radiation
astronauts must contend with in outer
space solar flares and cosmic rays solar
flares are floods of protons that burst
from the Sun at irregular intervals and
would be dangerous to an unshielded
human crew we are not ready to send
humans to Mars right now
we’ve got to know a lot more about
radiation and radiation mitigation one
of the Apollo flights barely missed like
by a week a major solar event if it had
gone off when the Apollo astronauts are
on the way back and forth to the moon
they would have gotten their entire
lifetime radiation dose in that one
mission that’s just one solar flare so
that’s why we worry about this in the
Mars direct plan Zubrin envisions a
central insulated core where a crew can
retreat to while the radiation passes by
the core would be surrounded by all the
provisions of the mission this should
stop any harmful dose of radiation from
reaching the astronauts basically you
use your pantry as your storm shelter so
a solar flare happens the alarm bell
rings the crew goes into the storm
shelter they stay in there cramped up
pretty tight for a few hours until the
all-clear rings and they come out this
is gonna happen once it might happen
twice in the course of the mission the
second type of radiation is cosmic rays
this constant rain of charged particles
comes from interstellar space and cannot
be avoided without many metres of
shielding we can experience some of this
type of radiation on earth at high
altitudes airline pilots who spend their
career is flying high in the atmosphere
and receive almost as much of this
radiation throughout their life as a
Mars astronaut would on a two-and-a-half
year mission it’s a long trip it’s a
six-month trip there a six-month trip
back is probably a year on the surface
that’s a lot of radiation the best
estimates are that the magnitude of that
dose is not that great perhaps 60 REM of
radiation scattered over two and a half
now 60 REM of radiation delivered over a
long period of time like that would not
create any noticeable effects at all
it would though it is believed increase
your statistical risk of getting cancer
at some point later in your life by
about 1% right now if you’re an average
American and you do not smoke you have a
20% chance you’re gonna die of cancer
this would make it 21 if you’re an
average American smoker it’s 40 in fact
if you recruited the Morris crew out of
smokers and sent them to Mars without
their tobacco you would be reducing
their chance of getting cancer
with the immense distance from Earth
never before experienced by a human
being with the constant dangers of outer
space surrounding their small
life-sustaining craft and with nowhere
else to go the psychological impact on a
crew could be severe fear is real I mean
it would be to me abnormal for a person
to not feel the fear of getting on a
rocket and launching into space and
going to Mars so I think fear is a very
normal thing that all astronauts in fact
are supposed to have and I would be
afraid to fly with someone who does not
have fear some psychologists worry the
cabin fever could set in and the crew
might literally go crazy
the human Mars mission is a more
rigorous and difficult condition than
most of us experienced in jail life but
it is hardly more difficult situation
than many people have endured throughout
human history we can compare the Mars
crew to the crew of 19th century or
prior sailing vessels many of whom were
away from home for three years or more
than three years under conditions in
which they’re eating extremely bad food
without any medical knowledge to support
their health commanded by brutal
officers in every respect the crew of
the human Mars mission with the full
support of Mission Support in the whole
world cheering for them and great
rewards awaiting for them in life upon
their return is in a vastly superior
condition the Mars direct crew spend
most of their time inside the two-story
hab carefully designed to promote
psychological well-being despite the
confinement the space where I think
everybody would spend the most time you
know just like a lot of homes on Earth
it would be the galley wardroom area
there would be chairs a table with some
kind of large screen for entertainment
you would have individual staterooms
about four or five feet wide the ability
for them to communicate with loved ones
with colleagues on earth I think will be
almost unlimited a Mars crew will need
to be carefully chosen and thoroughly
tested to ensure their ability to handle
the extreme isolation John Young went to
the moon used to say that he could cover
the earth by just lifting his thumb up
to up to it and he says that when you go
to Mars you are going to redefine the
concept of loneliness and so it is very
important that
be well-balanced and well-chosen so that
they can support each other whoever gets
picked to go they will have to learn to
live together for two-and-a-half years
if you put out a call for volunteers for
first crew Tamar’s
they’d be lined up coast to coast most
people recognize what’s left after you
go is the good new Left Behind and to
take part in adventure this character
such a historic character of extending
the reach of the new and species this is
something of immortal significance
one of the most bogus threats associated
with Mars mission is the so called back
contamination issue which is this notion
that you go to Mars and discover these
virulent disease organisms they bring
back earth and destroy all life on Earth
if we discover life on Mars one fear is
that our earth biology will have no
defense against possible Martian
some argue that missions to Mars cannot
be risked until we can prove Mars is
free from harmful contaminants this is
completely nonsensical there’s natural
transfer of material from Mars to earth
all the time we get around 500 kilograms
of unsterilized Martian rocks landing on
earth every year and they have been
doing so for the past three four billion
years and so if there were Martian
organisms that could contaminate the
earth they’ve already done so
although the prospect of Martian
diseases seems remote lawmakers have
required that NASA create elaborate
protocol to ensure that any
extraterrestrial material stays
contained and like the Apollo astronauts
who spent 17 days in quarantine after
they returned from a sterile moon a Mars
crew will have to be thoroughly tested
for any harmful Martian pathogens the
probability is infinitesimally tiny but
nevertheless this is our home planet and
it’s extremely important and we have to
protect it
the idea of a pathogen on Mars is is
clearly ridiculous because there is no
or mega flora on Mars for pathogens to
infect so it is impossible to propose a
credible lifecycle for a martian
pathogen the diseases that afflict us
have been Co evolving with us and our
ancestors and near relatives for the
past 3 billion years and they are
specifically designed to live inside the
habitat of the human body and to
overcome its defenses and they’ve been
engaged in an arms race with the human
defenses for those 3 billion years this
is why humans do not get diseases from
distantly related species for example I
don’t know of any person who has ever
contracted Dutch elm disease you know in
trees don’t get colds
when the first Mars Lander touches down
the crew will be staring out at a new
world place that in four billion years
no eyes have ever seen the crew won’t be
alone millions of television viewers
back home will be watching as the first
man or woman places their footprint into
the rust-colored soil the crew will
savor these moments for here someday a
new branch of civilization might begin
and future Martians will remember and
celebrate this day
there is much for the crew to do and
explore one of their main mission
objectives will be to search for signs
of microscopic life to do this they will
follow the ancient water flows for on
earth where there is water there is life
to help the crew in their search they
will have a pressurized Rover it allows
them to explore in a comfortable
shirtsleeve environment
this means the crew can examine a vast
area around the landing site during
their 18-month stay and there is much to
explore Mars has 58 different kinds of
topography and a surface area equivalent
to all the continents of Earth combined
if these explorers can uncover the
fossilized remnants of indigenous
Martian life they will redefine
mankind’s understanding of its place in
the universe but if life arose
separately on a planet so close to our
own it strongly suggests that the
universe is a biologically rich place
and full of life
for some the ultimate question of Mars
though is will there be human
settlements on the planet will Mars
become a new branch of human
as each subsequent Mars mission explores
a wider and wider area of the planet
over several years an ideal site for a
base will be found
probably one with the thermal vent that
can supply water and power at that point
several Habs will be landed in this one
spot with crews that plan to stay for
eight or even twelve years
perhaps we’ll be interconnected the
permanent human presence on Mars will be
established this scientific community
will have to learn to become
self-sufficient to be able to survive on
Mars without supplies constantly being
sent from Earth but unlike any other
planet in the solar system besides Earth
Mars has all of the fundamentals needed
to make this possible it’s 24 hour and
37 minute day is critical for growing
plants it has all of the elements
necessary for creating building
materials like plastics metals and glass
and it has oceans of water frozen into
the soil
if we can belt this craft of living on
Mars then Mars becomes inhabitable not
immediately physically but
intellectually I mean look what
determines whether an environment is
habitable or not is Colorado habitable
we’re not naturally adapted to live in
Colorado where tropical animals no one
could survive the single winter night
here without technology such as clothing
efficient use of fire we invented our
way into becoming people that could
colonize such hostile environments
eventually with a lot of ingenuity and
invention the scientists will learn to
live off the land
it will grow crops in the iron-rich but
potassium poor soil and they will
produce oxygen and energy from the water
sooner or later children will be born
the first true Martians they will grow
up to see Mars as their home with time
more and more people will arrive these
won’t only be scientists but settlers
people who plan to stay
they may come for all kinds of reasons
but to them Mars will be a chance to
start over to build a new life for
the well of human social thought is not
exhausted by the present age and I don’t
think we’ll ever be exhausted there will
always be people with new ideas on how
humans should live together with Mars so
far away the hold of earth governments
on their colonies will be tenuous the
Martians will need to govern themselves
Mars is not going to be utopia Mars is
going to be a lab it’s an open frontier
it’s a place where things are going to
be tried out I think we’ll see a lot of
noble experiments on Mars perhaps some
of these Martian colonies with their
novel ideas based on the best thought
the 21st century has to offer maybe
they’ll find ways in which humans create
society that are more humane and offer
more opportunity for human potential
the ultimate dream of the Martians will
be to terraform their planet to make
Mars as hospitable as Earth this may not
be as big a fantasy as it seems here we
are on earth a world that’s very
sophisticated and developed and complete
and anything we do is just a subtraction
because we live in such a biologically
rich planet when we go to Mars we have
an opportunity that we don’t have on
earth here’s a planet that’s died here’s
a world that’s not full of biology
probably doesn’t have any at all well
there we can actually do something to
once there are large you settlements on
Mars that we have significant dust
really keep it building we could
actually start addressing ourselves to
the question of transforming the Martian
environment itself terraforming Mars
yes it’s called because Mars was once a
warm and wet planet and it could be made
so again through human engineering
efforts with daytime temperatures in the
Martian tropical zone averaging around
zero degrees centigrade and with an
atmosphere only 1% as thick as Earth’s
exposure to these elements by human
without a space suit would be instantly
fatal the first step to terraforming
Mars and bringing it back to life will
be for the Martian colonists to warm up
their planet well we know how to warm up
planets we’re doing it on earth by
putting gases in the atmosphere on earth
it’s not a good idea to warm up the
planet the temperature was just fine
thank you we don’t need it any warmer
here but in principle if you could trap
the sunlight reaching Mars today every
single photon that’s hitting Mars Mars
would warm up in about 10 years well
obviously you can’t trap every single
photon that’s hitting Mars but you can
trap about 10 percent of them with the
greenhouse effect so that would imply
that Mars could warm up in about 100
years 100 years is a long time but it’s
not astronomically long one idea is to
build small automated factories that
produce super greenhouse gases with no
ozone depleting side effects
although these gases would be unwelcome
on earth for the Martians there would be
an efficient way to trap heat then
within a few decades we would raise Mars
by more than 10 degrees centigrade and
if you did that that would cause massive
amounts of carbon dioxide that is
currently adsorbed into the Martian soil
to start to out gas carbon dioxide is
also a natural greenhouse gas as it
builds up in the atmosphere more and
more heat will be trapped which will in
turn cause more co2 to out gas the
process will become automatic and as the
atmosphere thickens Mars will eventually
reach a state of equilibrium and stay
warm naturally
the rise in air pressure would mean that
the human colonists could discard their
pressure suits and walk around the
surface of Mars carrying only a supply
of oxygen
and as the temperatures rise on Mars
water frozen into the soil will begin to
melt out and for the second time in its
history Mars would have liquid water on
its surface
drei Martian rivers will start to flow
Seas will rise
and there will be rain clouds in the
the return of Mars to its warm and wet
stage will make it a fertile environment
for life any indigenous Martian
organisms lying dormant will begin to
grow and Mars will be full of Martians
if no native life emerges or that life
is all dead
then humans could begin addressing the
idea of bringing life from Earth
at first it would be simple organisms
perhaps genetically engineered that
would thrive in the Martian environment
then more complex plants could be
introduced the plants would be right at
home in the carbon dioxide atmosphere
and with no competition and a whole
planet to cover they could transform
Mars into a green world
warming Mars so that it sustains life is
rapid but then the slow process of
making the atmosphere breathable for
humans and animals starts and that’s
done by plants although the process will
happen naturally if the colonists can’t
find a quicker way will take tens of
thousands of years
this is a philosophical debate many
people think the universe has a big sign
on it that says do not touch leave it
was made this way it is not in our
purview as human beings to change any I
can respect that view although I
disagree with it I think the universe
has a big sign on it that says go forth
and spread life because when I look
around the universe I think life is the
most amazing thing we see it is just
incredible and we human beings are
uniquely positioned to help spread light
from this little tiny planet which it
seems to get started on beyond and
that’s our gift Earth’s gift to the
universe I think is the gift of life
this scheme for terraforming Mars is
based on 20th century notions of
engineering I don’t think it is how Mars
will actually be terraformed what you
have here is a 20th century mind trying
to address a 22nd century problem and so
I think Mars will be terraformed by the
23rd century not by the 33rd 23rd things
that would seem utterly fantastical to
us is how it will actually be done but
it’ll be done
we’re at a crossroads today we either
muster the courage to go or we risk the
possibility of stagnation in the key the
exploration of the solar system and
expanding of life through the rest of
our solar system and someday beyond is
the kind of thing that will keep our
civilization going we’re explorers by
eventually, we will go to the Stars the
question is when will we start I think a
manned Mars mission could happen within
15 years
some days I’m very optimistic I think we
can do it in 10 maybe 15 years other
days I see all the political things
that go into the space program I look
back on 230 years, we’ve been bogged down
and I I get more negative about it I say
it’s going to be another three decades
for decades yeah we’d be surprised if we
got to Mars prior to 2025 or 2030 in May
of 2018 understanding the various
political obstacles that exist in what
we need to fight through to get the
program started I believe that we will
be on Mars by 2020
you have to believe in hope you have to
believe in the future there are more and
more people coming around to the point
of view that a positive future for
Humanity requires human expansion to
space we will eventually break through
the forces of inertia that have been
holding this thing back

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