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Elon Musk and the BFR - Printable Version

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Elon Musk and the BFR - AmrlKJaneway - 10-02-2017

Elon Musk wants to send a million of us to Mars. Overambitious? Or do we think he can do it?

RE: Elon Musk and the BFR - stevebowers - 10-02-2017

So long as he doesn't specify a timeframe, this is an achievable ambition. Not in his lifespan, however.

RE: Elon Musk and the BFR - four - 10-29-2017

Technically, I think it's doable. I'm sure he could land a million people on Mars by the 2040s if there were enough interest in it. 

But the big problem is the market. I think he'll struggle to find a million people who want to emigrate to Mars and who can afford to.

The analogy he has used is the colonization of the Americas, but it's not really comparable. The Americas had a very similar climate to Europe, but were just a long way away. Mars, on the other hand, has scarce resources and requires habitation in indoor, probably underground, technologically complex structures. Fixing this problem requires terraforming, which I can't imagine being attempted at any time in the near future. 

So, are a million people really going to want to and be able to afford to travel there? Will anyone with the money want to construct a base on Mars for purposes other than scientific research? I don't think so.

The optimistic scenario, where there is a lot of interest in Mars colonization, could have a similar timescale to that described in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy. It's possible that that will happen– but I'm not convinced there will be enough interest in it.

The only way I could imagine large-scale colonization of Mars in the near future occurring is if:
1) There's some sort of strong artifical incentive to emigrate (e.g. a tax haven).
or 2) Space Race 2.0, where for nationalistic reasons the U.S. and China compete with each other in the development of Mars.
or 3) Terraforming proves to be much easier than we expect (e.g. by attaching engines to water-rich asteroids to subtly change their orbits to point towards Mars). I can't really imagine this happening, though.

RE: Elon Musk and the BFR - Rynn - 10-29-2017

Forget about terraforming, creating a small closed ecosystem is what you’d need but even that would be very expensive. Especially as no one, not even space x, is seriously trying to make and study one. Then there’s the need for a self sufficient high tech economy which we don’t have experience creating from scratch, especially in such a hostile environment so far away. Creating a colony on mars would require decades of major investment for an incredibly poor ROI.

A very rich nation not beholden to an electorate might be able to do it if enough people in the government had been bitten by the space cadet bug. Other than that I don’t see such a thing as being feasible unless a swathe of technologies were invented that lowered both the cost and risk. Things like robotic mining/construction, habitat maintenance infrastructure (I.e things we’ll need to keep failing ecosystems going on earth) etc.

Rather than being some billionaires retreat it wouldn’t surprise me if the first major colony off world was a one-party state with heavy nationalisation of services and market regulation.

RE: Elon Musk and the BFR - JohnnyYesterday - 10-30-2017

I wish Musk would fund molecular manufacturing development rather than his Mars fetish. If he wants to live in an extreme, lifeless desert, the Atacama is way easier than Mars.

RE: Elon Musk and the BFR - Rynn - 10-30-2017

(10-30-2017, 05:01 AM)JohnnyYesterday Wrote: I wish Musk would fund molecular manufacturing development rather than his Mars fetish. If he wants to live in an extreme, lifeless desert, the Atacama is way easier than Mars.

To be fair that's very much not in keeping with Musk's business strategy. Pretty much every company he has started has followed the principle of taking a previously established technology/service and working to make it cheaper via whatever means possible. Whether that be electric cars made cheaper through super-mass produced batteries or rockets made cheaper by reusability. Molecular manufacturing is a very disparate field, not an distinct technology, with far more speculative/lab based prototypes than proven products.