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October 15, 2018 - 8:06am

Today's Poll: Do you think Elon Musk will successfully launch a manned mission to Mars?

posted by Howard B. Owens in polls.
tom hunt
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Elon Musk is a dreamer who read too many Tom Sawyer books as a teenager. You are right I meant Tom Swift.

Gary Spencer
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And they said the Wright Brothers were dreamers! They said man would never walk on the moon! Dreamers make things happen, nay sayers, nay!!

Brian Heick
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I thought the earth was flat and that the moon missions were all done in a studio.

Howard B. Owens
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Yes, the Wright brothers were dreamers but they also had some science on their side.

There are some significant challenges for Musk to overcome.

The trip would take nine months. That means nine-months of fuel there and nine-months of fuel back and 18 months of rations and water. That doesn't include, of course, the time the humans would spend on Mars. The launch window for an optimal trip between the two planets only occurs every 26 months, so in reality you would need 35 months of rations and water (26 for the next launch window and nine-month return trip). Even if the round-trip time can be reduced to a year, that would be daunting.

For whatever length of time in space and on Mars, the astronauts would be exposed to deadly levels of radiation and right now we don't have effective technology for protecting them from that radiation.

Astronauts would also have to overcome the effect of prolonged weightlessness in space and then dealing with the weaker gravity of Mars. In a these environments, bones become weaker and more fragile.

For the period of travel, there would be no place to stop for repairs or receive emergency medical treatment, making the window for success very tiny.

It can be argued all of these challenges can be overcome but the probability based on current knowledge and technology seems slight.

C. M. Barons
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Tom Hunt- did you mean to suggest Tom Sawyer or Tom Swift? Mark Twain did place Sawyer in a hot air balloon in one of the four, finished books that included the character, but the destinations were Earth-bound. You must be thinking of Tom Swift, the latter series known as Tom Swift, Jr. books. None of the earlier series, published between 1910 and 1930, included space travel in the plots- although there were plenty of airships, planes, sky trains and dirigibles to go around. Unlike Tom Swift, Jr., most all of the inventions credited to Swift in the original series, written under the pseudonym, Victor Appleton, were either in existence or came to be soon thereafter in some form or another. The only invention that I can think of that never panned out in reality was the Sky Train, multiple airplanes connected like cars on a train. It was one of the concepts introduced in the waning years of the original series. The longest wait for realization, the Photo-Telephone. The most far-fetched notion introduced was the Electric Rifle which is essentially a modern-day taser.

Ed Hartgrove
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C.M. Barons: Perhaps Mr. Hunt meant neither Tom Sawyer nor Tom Swift.
It's possible that Elon Musk is an avid fan of Tom Foolery.
A rich fan, nonetheless.

Irene Will
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You'd have to be suicidal to volunteer (or better yet PAY) to go on this mission.

Eric Dunn
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Howard the question did not say anything about coming back ;)

Howard B. Owens
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I guess I assumed that if Musk had a plan for launching, he had a plan for returning. Silly me. Maybe he'll go himself. And stay.

Jeff Allen
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In addition to Howard's point about long term affects on humans making the voyage and back is the next biggest obstacle of propulsion. Currently we can't power/fuel a manned vehicle there and back in any reasonably timely fashion with known technology (outside of sending refueling vessels ahead of the manned flight to refuel along the way). With these two huge unknowns, it will never occur in Musk's lifetime but I do hope the model he has started of private space travel and exploration will continue. First because it stretches the bounds of human achievement and innovation. Second, government can't and shouldn't be funding it anymore

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