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#1 2018-06-05 02:21:08

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,939

The phenomenon of FOM - being First On Mars...

I am going to claim credit here for being the first to recognise the vital future importance of FOM - the idea of being first on Mars to undertake an activity, to the future development of Mars.

I think this is going to play a vital role in the early economy of Mars. By early I mean the first 50 years, at the end of which the population might reach something like 100,000.

FOM is going to have elements of the dot.com boom of the 1980's/90s, the railway boom of the 19th century, and the "green" pro-environment policies that businesses subscribe to.  These aren't so much profitable enterprises as activity based on that other similar  acronym FOMO (fear of missing out).  Investors, isolated towns and businesses do not want to miss out. With dot.com it was investors, with railways it was isolated towns determined to connect up, and with "greenwash", businesses know it's bad business not to be seen to be green.

Something similar is going to happen with FOM on Mars.

When the first hotel chain decides to open a little hotel at the Valles Mariensis, it might not be a straightforwardly profitable enterprise but it is going to lodge the hotel chain's name in the public imagination and garner huge amounts of publicity. One chain having opened up for business, can another afford not to?

The top universities around the world compete keenly with each other. Will Harvard really be happy to see Oxford or Bologna or Paris or Beijing establish the first university faculty on Mars? Or will they be desperate to win that prize, and with it all the publicity.

If life on Mars is found there will of course be an absolute gold rush of scientists trying to be first on Mars to find new species.

You are a top artist on Earth. But wouldn't you like to be recognised for all time to be the first artist to produce paintings or sculpture on Mars (albeit perhaps remotely using robot technology)?

You are a renowned and adventurous travel writer working with a big publishing company.  Wouldn't the want to be the first to establish a travel series on Mars?

Is it going to be a specially adapted Ford SUV or a Toyota or a Tesla or some other brand that is seen roaming the foothills of a mountain on Mars?  Ford spend $2.3 billion on advertising and marketing in 2016.  They don't have to increase their budget, but might they not be tempted to divert some of their budget to Mars. Might they not be tempted to spend say $500millon over 5 years to  get those pics of the Ford SUV on Mars which will then be shown in countless TV news programmes, magazines and newspapers and which they can replicate in their own advertising? Or would they prefer to see Toyota win that prize?

FOM will extend to just about all areas of human activity.  A bank setting up an ATM machine on Mars will get a huge amount of publicity.
A beer company brewing a beer on Mars will get loads of free advertising back on Earth. Worldwide, beer marketing and advertising spend is in the billions of dollars. Some company is going to decide it's worth spending that much money. What about the Olympics? Does the IOC want to see some sort of rival event emerge on Mars or is it going to invest in being first on Mars with a four yearly sports event?

Whoever produces the first luxury men's watch business on Mars will establish an enduring and  highly profitable brand. Will it be Rolex or will a rival be prepared to put in the necessary investment? Being first on Mars is important.

Of course religions will be clamouring to set up shop on Mars as well, to build places of worship - to get their religion there and be "first on Mars". Whether that would be a welcome development, well I am not sure, but there is no doubt there will many who want to win the FOM prize. The interest of the UAE and KSA in Mars is I think indicative of something there which most people ignore.

You're a famous film director on Earth long associated with sci fi films...wouldn't you be tempted to make the first feature film on Mars? To be known for all time as the person who produced that first film on a new home for humans? Especially if you have hundreds of millions in the bank and can support a lot of the funding for the film?

I think FOM is going to be huge but even more important, it's difficult to imagine just how huge. Nearly everyone is going to want a finger in the big Mars pie, just so they show they haven't been outdone by rivals in whatever field of enterprise we are talking about.

It will be vitally important to ensuring that the early Mars colony is flooded with investment.  A small colony of 1000 might well be receiving billions in investment every year once FOM gets going. That in itself will stimulate the Mars economy and ensure that there are numerous spin-off enterprises created in retail, catering. life support, construction and further settlement. I would also add that a lot could be done to create a kind of virtual Mars economy, really based on Earth, that will use Space X's (or a Mars Consortium's) access to Mars to, as it were, sell rights to Mars imaging ie. we'll get your company logo on Mars.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#2 2018-06-05 12:54:46

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
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Re: The phenomenon of FOM - being First On Mars...

I would point out that the booms you point to were bubbles, but... when has that ever stopped investors from parting with their cash? Indeed, I've seen it suggested - I think on Rocketpunk Manifesto - that an economic bubble could provide the reason why space get's colonised. There's no MacGuffinite, but people think there might be.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#3 2018-06-05 13:40:54

JoshNH4H
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From: Pullman, WA
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Re: The phenomenon of FOM - being First On Mars...

Of course in general it's rather hard to know when something is a bubble in advance.  Bubbles usually happen when some amount of real underlying value becomes overhyped.  The dot com bubble is a great example, and the housing bubble is another great example.  But for there to be a bubble you need to convince people that there are viable business models in a given space, and not just that they exist but that they will be immensely popular and that the best use of your money is to invest right now to try to get as much market share as possible while things are still starting up.

It's hard to imagine such a thing happening on Mars without the development of some totally novel business model (and probably various technologies associated with it).


-Josh

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#4 2018-06-05 14:15:29

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,939

Re: The phenomenon of FOM - being First On Mars...

I would say they weren't strictly bubbles.  Bubbles are really where you've got a product of little intrinsic value eg tulip bulbs or South Sea Company shares. The early dot.com phase helped developed the e commerce market and web marketing,with many companies going on to have very profitable futures. Many individual  railways might not have been profitable but they provided an incredibly strong economic stimulus by faciliting movement and trade. Green policies, it can also be argued, have been of overall benefit to the economy and health of the nation, and have facilitated the development of recycling and alternative energy industries.

So I think the FOM boom would be in a similar category - a lot of activity that is not obviously profitable but which is building up an economic base.

Terraformer wrote:

I would point out that the booms you point to were bubbles, but... when has that ever stopped investors from parting with their cash? Indeed, I've seen it suggested - I think on Rocketpunk Manifesto - that an economic bubble could provide the reason why space get's colonised. There's no MacGuffinite, but people think there might be.

Last edited by louis (2018-06-06 18:03:45)


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#5 2018-06-05 14:18:02

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,939

Re: The phenomenon of FOM - being First On Mars...

I guess we are in the area of semantics. I tend to reserve bubble for things of little intrinsic value. 

JoshNH4H wrote:

Of course in general it's rather hard to know when something is a bubble in advance.  Bubbles usually happen when some amount of real underlying value becomes overhyped.  The dot com bubble is a great example, and the housing bubble is another great example.  But for there to be a bubble you need to convince people that there are viable business models in a given space, and not just that they exist but that they will be immensely popular and that the best use of your money is to invest right now to try to get as much market share as possible while things are still starting up.

It's hard to imagine such a thing happening on Mars without the development of some totally novel business model (and probably various technologies associated with it).


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#6 2018-06-05 15:56:48

kbd512
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Re: The phenomenon of FOM - being First On Mars...

Louis,

We can worry about "FOM" right after "AOM" ("Anyone On Mars") happens.  After 4 decades of talking about it, nobody has been to Mars.  That right thar be the problem.

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#7 2018-06-05 17:00:50

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,939

Re: The phenomenon of FOM - being First On Mars...

The problem will be resolved soon enough. 2026 at the latest. smile The technologies are all there. They've been there for several decades but everything is now aligned in my view*...of course we might now see attempted (bureaucratic) sabotage by those vested interests who don't want to see the settlement of Mars.

*It's analogous to the personal computer boom. IBM produced a perfectly good PC in the 1970s but for a range of reasons it never took off...marketing, price, printers, internet connection etc were all not quite right. 15 years later there was no stopping the PC revolution.

kbd512 wrote:

Louis,

We can worry about "FOM" right after "AOM" ("Anyone On Mars") happens.  After 4 decades of talking about it, nobody has been to Mars.  That right thar be the problem.

Last edited by louis (2018-06-05 17:01:32)


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#8 2018-06-05 19:55:52

kbd512
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Re: The phenomenon of FOM - being First On Mars...

Louis,

2026 might happen in a mid-summer night's dream.  The technologies clearly aren't "all there", or we'd all be "oooh'ing" and "ahhh'ing" to BFR launches.  Again, you can't talk something into existence.  First it was 2019, then 2021, and now it's 2026 at the earliest.  Maybe building a reliable reusable super heavy lift launch vehicle is a hard thing to do.

I honestly don't see anyone "sabotaging" a Mars settlement or colony since nothing of the sort exists.  The US federal government doesn't care about space exploration one way or the other.  It's a curiosity to them that can provide jobs and nothing more.  I honestly hope you're right, but Gwynne-time, which is much closer to real-time, has stated a realistic date for a first flight is ten years out.

SpaceX has received US Air Force funding for BFR.  Investors potentially have moderately deep pockets.  NASA has deep pockets still.  The US Air Force's pockets may as well be a bottomless pit.  The Air Force has some new mandate that all launch vehicles be certified for national security mission, reason unbeknownst to me, so they're paying for major portions of critical development tasks like engines, avionics, and communications.

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#9 2018-06-06 01:55:02

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,939

Re: The phenomenon of FOM - being First On Mars...

Fortunately this is one argument that can be settle by future events.  We shall see.

Regarding a super heavy lift vehicle, maybe it is a lot, lot easier to accomplish now than it was when they were developed just under 60 years ago? Sixty years is a long time for people to accumulate a lot of knowledge about what needs to be done. Add to that we now have CAD, 3D printing, improved materials and sophisticated modelling which all help to ensure the design meets the requirements.

I don't know why you are propagating that misinformation about what Gwynne Shotwell said. She said that a regular Earth-to-Earth BFR air service could be in place within a decade. Nowhere did she say it would be ten years before the BFR flies.  If you have a quote showing otherwise, please put it up here.

There is a significant lobby that wants to preserve Mars in pristine condition for scientific observation. There is a UN Committee which is promoting that approach.  We know that it's scientists who basically control the NASA programme. It's naive to imagine there aren't significant power struggles going on behind the scenes. I think Musk's Trump-friendly comments are indicative of that as well. Space X need the backing of the President.

kbd512 wrote:

Louis,

2026 might happen in a mid-summer night's dream.  The technologies clearly aren't "all there", or we'd all be "oooh'ing" and "ahhh'ing" to BFR launches.  Again, you can't talk something into existence.  First it was 2019, then 2021, and now it's 2026 at the earliest.  Maybe building a reliable reusable super heavy lift launch vehicle is a hard thing to do.

I honestly don't see anyone "sabotaging" a Mars settlement or colony since nothing of the sort exists.  The US federal government doesn't care about space exploration one way or the other.  It's a curiosity to them that can provide jobs and nothing more.  I honestly hope you're right, but Gwynne-time, which is much closer to real-time, has stated a realistic date for a first flight is ten years out.

SpaceX has received US Air Force funding for BFR.  Investors potentially have moderately deep pockets.  NASA has deep pockets still.  The US Air Force's pockets may as well be a bottomless pit.  The Air Force has some new mandate that all launch vehicles be certified for national security mission, reason unbeknownst to me, so they're paying for major portions of critical development tasks like engines, avionics, and communications.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#10 2018-06-06 03:46:10

kbd512
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Re: The phenomenon of FOM - being First On Mars...

Louis,

CAD hasn't actually sped up the design process.  Now people go through hundreds or even thousands of permutations of a design before they decide what to build.  That has good points and bad points.  The good is that lots of designs that would never even get modeled are simulated, so the best, or at least a better design, can be selected.  The bad is that all that work requires lots of additional design time.

If it takes a decade to simply fly paying customers around Earth a little faster than normal, then how long do you suppose it'll be before FAA allows paying customers to fly to other planets?  Further, since Gwynne stated that the first Mars missions will happen around the same time as the suborbital flights, as a function of the technology being ready, what sort of time frame do you think we're looking at?  At the 2017 Ted Talk, Elon Musk himself said that a realistic timeframe is 8 to 10 years for a Mars mission.  It's now mid 2018 and we're still about 10 years away from that first flight to Mars.  There's no magic in first flight, either.  We're still a decade from sending anyone to Mars, at the earliest.

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#11 2018-06-06 05:51:07

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,939

Re: The phenomenon of FOM - being First On Mars...

You changed the terms of your claim. I've never argued "ordinary" people would be able to fly to Mars, as a matter of personal choice,  and settle there easily. In fact I have made it clear I am sceptical about the feasibility of Musk's colonisation plan as set out initially by him. But you were referring to flights of the BFR - an entirely different matter.

My view of the initial development of the Mars settlement is that it will be a cross between an Antarctic base, an American university campus and Google HQ for the first two or three decades. 

I remain optimistic that the BFR is going to be a less challenging project than most people think because I think all the elements are there. They made a bit of a mistake going after the FH9 which clearly they are looking to junk as soon as possible. It was their Space Shuttle (though not such a catastrophic diversion).  They should have stuck with the big rocket idea, which is what they are now developing. Space X will have accumulated a huge store of wisdom and data over the last 16 years.  As long as the cash is there, they can do this, subject to them not being stopped by spurious bureaucratic intervention.

kbd512 wrote:

Louis,

CAD hasn't actually sped up the design process.  Now people go through hundreds or even thousands of permutations of a design before they decide what to build.  That has good points and bad points.  The good is that lots of designs that would never even get modeled are simulated, so the best, or at least a better design, can be selected.  The bad is that all that work requires lots of additional design time.

If it takes a decade to simply fly paying customers around Earth a little faster than normal, then how long do you suppose it'll be before FAA allows paying customers to fly to other planets?  Further, since Gwynne stated that the first Mars missions will happen around the same time as the suborbital flights, as a function of the technology being ready, what sort of time frame do you think we're looking at?  At the 2017 Ted Talk, Elon Musk himself said that a realistic timeframe is 8 to 10 years for a Mars mission.  It's now mid 2018 and we're still about 10 years away from that first flight to Mars.  There's no magic in first flight, either.  We're still a decade from sending anyone to Mars, at the earliest.


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#12 2018-06-06 06:28:30

kbd512
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Re: The phenomenon of FOM - being First On Mars...

Louis,

I never said you did, but Elon Musk did say that that's what his intention was.  I'll be happy when we send anyone on Mars.  I don't care who does it or how they do it as long as the people they send there remain alive and in reasonably good health.  If Lockheed-Martin or Boeing decides they're simply going to get the job done and not worry about government contract specifications, I could care less.  If SpaceX gets there first, then great.  If anyone does it, I'll consider that day to be a great day.  We can worry about pickup trucks and modern art after that happens.  We're a ways away from that goal, at present.

There simply aren't a million exceptional people for SpaceX to train to the level required.  Lots of things need to be "dummy proofed" before we start sending John and Jane Q. Public to Mars.  We find these rare gems of humanity, mature men and women with stunning physical and mental capabilities, and then polish their knowledge and skill to a level that can only be described as a masterpiece.  There isn't a formula for it.  If there was, then we'd apply it.  We didn't make them who they are.

SpaceX would not have had their mega rocket epiphany without Falcon Heavy.  They discovered just how hard it actually is to do what they thought would be easy.  In reality, as Elon Musk noted, they had to completely redesign the center core of the rocket.  SpaceX had their big rocket idea and quickly realized it was so big that it was impractical.  There may be a way to do what they want to do, but I wonder how many $150M+ prototypes are going to make the blooper reel before they perfect rough field landings or investment funding evaporates.

Anyway, I'm sure everything will be just fine.  What could possibly go wrong?

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#13 2018-06-06 07:47:36

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,939

Re: The phenomenon of FOM - being First On Mars...

Having read some of the Mars planning papers on the other thread from NASA, it appears there are plenty of places with hard rock fairly flat dust free surfaces that are essentially boulder-free.  It seems likely that Space X Mission One is going to land on one of those natural landing pads.


kbd512 wrote:

There may be a way to do what they want to do, but I wonder how many $150M+ prototypes are going to make the blooper reel before they perfect rough field landings or investment funding evaporates.

Anyway, I'm sure everything will be just fine.  What could possibly go wrong?


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#14 2018-06-06 10:11:27

kbd512
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Re: The phenomenon of FOM - being First On Mars...

Louis,

They'll need the best landing areas available because they're landing a 150t weight on top of a sixteen story building.  This is something that can be tested on Earth before the first BFR is ever constructed.  Put a mass inside the fuel tank to simulate the BFR's mass distribution at a smaller scale, take the rocket out to a test range, and see if you can perform a rough field landing.  It's a lot cheaper to do, but I've never seen or heard of SpaceX doing it.  It seems like such a no-brainer.

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#15 2018-06-06 11:34:26

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,939

Re: The phenomenon of FOM - being First On Mars...

Why look for a rock field if - as the Mars papers make clear - there are rock-free, minimal dust areas available for landing? 

kbd512 wrote:

Louis,

They'll need the best landing areas available because they're landing a 150t weight on top of a sixteen story building.  This is something that can be tested on Earth before the first BFR is ever constructed.  Put a mass inside the fuel tank to simulate the BFR's mass distribution at a smaller scale, take the rocket out to a test range, and see if you can perform a rough field landing.  It's a lot cheaper to do, but I've never seen or heard of SpaceX doing it.  It seems like such a no-brainer.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#16 2018-06-06 12:53:07

kbd512
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Re: The phenomenon of FOM - being First On Mars...

Louis,

If everything does not go perfectly, then you need options.  That's like asking why the Space Shuttle needed the crew escape capsule it was supposed to have.  If the 14 dead astronauts weren't enough to explain why, then you'll never understand.  All fighter jets have ejection seats because sometimes things go wrong and in high performance machines they tend to go wrong really fast.  You don't test things in absolutely benign conditions.  That only tells you what generally happens when everything is nominal.  We already know what happens during a nominal Falcon booster core landing.

Take a Falcon core, forget about the payload mass demonstrator for the first test, and just try to land it on rough ground.  I don't mean a debris field or the side of a mountain or some other impossible location, I just mean land the damn thing somewhere other than a concrete or steel plate.  For example, land it in some sand.  See what happens, take notes, make improvements if necessary.  If not, then continue testing until you determine what the limits are.  It's a cheaper way to improve both products.

Maybe the rock-free and dust-free areas don't have much water available.  You know, the stuff needed to leave or get BFR back, irrespective of what fuel is used.  Maybe there's no such thing as rock-free and dust-free on Mars.  Maybe you just need a durable machine with good handling characteristics and some margin for off-nominal landings.

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#17 2018-06-06 18:08:48

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,939

Re: The phenomenon of FOM - being First On Mars...

http://newmars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?id=8247

You should read some of the papers linked to in the above thread.

The landing areas proposed don't have sand on them. The landing zones being proposed are known to be flat to five degrees, pretty much dust and sand free and solid, with no boulders.  There has been a lot of surveying that allows the NASA scientists/contractors to be confident in making these claims.   

Until I read the papers, I must admit I was pretty much in "rock field" think-mode.

Anyway, this thread is more about post landing FOM possibilities than landing.



kbd512 wrote:

Louis,

If everything does not go perfectly, then you need options.  That's like asking why the Space Shuttle needed the crew escape capsule it was supposed to have.  If the 14 dead astronauts weren't enough to explain why, then you'll never understand.  All fighter jets have ejection seats because sometimes things go wrong and in high performance machines they tend to go wrong really fast.  You don't test things in absolutely benign conditions.  That only tells you what generally happens when everything is nominal.  We already know what happens during a nominal Falcon booster core landing.

Take a Falcon core, forget about the payload mass demonstrator for the first test, and just try to land it on rough ground.  I don't mean a debris field or the side of a mountain or some other impossible location, I just mean land the damn thing somewhere other than a concrete or steel plate.  For example, land it in some sand.  See what happens, take notes, make improvements if necessary.  If not, then continue testing until you determine what the limits are.  It's a cheaper way to improve both products.

Maybe the rock-free and dust-free areas don't have much water available.  You know, the stuff needed to leave or get BFR back, irrespective of what fuel is used.  Maybe there's no such thing as rock-free and dust-free on Mars.  Maybe you just need a durable machine with good handling characteristics and some margin for off-nominal landings.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#18 2018-06-06 21:02:18

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
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Posts: 13,056

Re: The phenomenon of FOM - being First On Mars...

Until we start building ships with materials for space flight and stop building them with paper we will not be going anywhere. This include building them with unobtainium and 10's of billions of dollars.
Space X and others since beginning cargo deliveries to the iss have shown that we can do more with less when it comes to funding and that we can do it with what we have today. Sure we still need to focus on some key areas on knowledge for safety but we can get that in ciralunar mission and quite possibly one to Venus as well. Will post on that in one of the venus topics...

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