Wired interview Paul Davies, science author and physicist, and Paul thinks our best best to get costs down to put people on Mars is to kill the return trip. That’s right, a one way ticket to Mars for the adventurers that sign up for this journey.
Wired: What would life on Mars be like?
Davies: The living conditions would be horrendous. But people on Mars won’t be stranded. They’ll be connected by the Internet. They’ll do lab work, write papers, do TV programs. The food will be horrible, as it always is for astronauts. But over decades, that will improve as they learn to grow food under protective domes.
Since he makes it sound so glamorous, I think I’ll sign up right now.
Blame the Russians. Had the Soviet Union continued to apply pressure on the United States by maintaining it’s lead in space endeavors, we could have been riding nuclear powered space craft to travel back and forth to one of our moon-bases or perhaps sign up for one of the pilgrimages to Mars in order to join the colony’s efforts in that dusty red world. Alas, the competition was fierce, they over-extended themselves. Their devastating and catastrophic launch accidents forced them out of the game, giving the American space program time to… languish.
In all seriousness (let’s lay off the Russians; they are still sending up huge payloads for us), current deep space missions still rely on chemical and electric ion propulsion. We went to the moon using chemical propulsion and electric ion propulsion is used for small, light probes. We’re only starting to play with solar sails on inner planet missions. But for truly interplanetary and interstellar missions, missions that need to transverse great distances in a reasonable amount of time, something new needs to get on the drawing board. Clearly, we need a new way of getting about space.