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#1 2002-01-25 18:24:23

nebula
Member
Registered: 2002-01-07
Posts: 6

Re: Is this a great time to go to Mars? - With the economy bad,will an expensive..

Human Mars Exploration be the key to bailing us out of this recession? Think about it.... In the Apollo days, different aerospace companies worked on the Saturn V rocket. Something expensive (well it doesn't have to be too expensive) like a human Mars Mission would surely help the economy and science. Any thoughts on this?

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#2 2002-01-28 00:17:41

Shaun Barrett
Member
From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Is this a great time to go to Mars? - With the economy bad,will an expensive..

Hi nebula!  Yes I do have thoughts about this and I think you are right about the economic stimulus of a major humans-to-Mars program.
   But it seems to me that at present money is already being channeled into the aerospace industry, in America at least, in the form of military spending. I read somewhere that this year the U.S. military will get US$370,000,000,000 to help keep the world safe for democracy!
   That sounds like a lot of safety, doesn't it?! Maybe it really is necessary, I don't know. The world is a dangerous place and, despite the venomous way some people like to attack America, I am much happier to have her as the only remaining world superpower than, say, the Soviet Union! And I certainly wouldn't want the People's Republic of China calling the shots either.
   Without wishing to bore everybody to tears, it is edifying to look at history before judging current affairs. Humans are aggressive and avaricious creatures, by and large. History is full of war and grasping empires. However hard people today try to imagine that we are more moral and enlightened than our predecessors, I don't honestly think we are. The best chance we have for peace and prosperity is to be under the rule of a powerful empire; look up "Pax Romana" and "Pax Britannica" to see what I mean. Today the empire is American and we have a "Pax Americana". The empire is more of an economic one than an imperial one, but an empire just the same.
   No empire is ideal and there will always be people who see themselves as fighting against "the imperialists" in a bid for autonomy. But empires are the lesser evil because, under the umbrella of military protection, commerce can thrive and individual wealth can increase in an atmosphere of relative security. And when wealth increases, major public works become possible: The Romans built magnificent roads and aqueducts; the United States sent astronauts to the moon!
   The point of all this is to say that I think America is a bit financially stretched at the moment with her commitment to military dominance. I'm not sure how these things work, but it seems to me there probably just isn't enough cash to go around.
   I'm torn here between my belief that a strong United States is our best hope for prosperity, and my passionate desire to put humans on Mars in order to explore it and, ultimately, to settle it.
   The military spending, as such, may be largely dead-end spending, whereas a vigorous manned Mars program would, I think, spawn innumerable technological, intellectual, and economic benefits. (The long-term benefits may indeed be so colossal as to beggar the imagination!) But then too, a world safe for democracy and for commerce is vital to achieving these ends.
   So, what's the answer to this problem? My view is that US$370 billion is probably more than is really necessary to guarantee our safety. Two percent of that amount, siphoned off annually into a well-structured Mars program, would give us ample cash to establish pemanent colonies on Mars in less than fifteen years. Plus we would get all those benefits we spoke of.
   Well, nebula .... "Any thoughts on this?", you asked. I bet you're wishing you'd kept quiet after all this stuff I've thrown back at you!! But I'm glad you have broached this subject because it is an important one, and I hope we'll get lots of interesting points of view on it.
   Who's first ... ?!                        smile


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#3 2002-01-29 18:21:37

Phobos
Member
Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Is this a great time to go to Mars? - With the economy bad,will an expensive..

I'd be willing to bet the military budget could be cut by a third, probably two-thirds, and we'd still have the biggest, most powerful killing machine on the planet.  I hate to see the military given such a bloated budget at the expense of good research projects like that super collider they were going to build in Texas, etc.  Of course, being the semi-pacifist that I am, I'd much rather see money being funneled into pure research and "civilian" technology than to build some stupid bomber.


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#4 2002-01-30 01:39:04

Shaun Barrett
Member
From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Is this a great time to go to Mars? - With the economy bad,will an expensive..

Wow!! Just imagine channeling two thirds of US$370 billion into research and space exploration! That is one utopian thought, Phobos!
   Unfortunately, you know as well as I do that that ain't gonna happen. I understand your pacifist ideals and sympathise with them very much. If only we could get people to stop all the greed, aggression, and lusting after power, the world would be so much better as to be unrecognisable.
   But having said all that, let's return to history. The longest periods of stability and relative prosperity have, as I've said, occurred under the rule of empires. (I know .... empires come a very poor second to utopias!) But the most effective empires were those with crushing military superiority. It's not good enough to be invincible; you have to LOOK invincible! Otherwise you get people constantly testing to see how tough you really are; which leads to endless minor wars and the slow haemorrhaging of resources that eventually brings down most empires. Sorry! Too much history .... boring!
   Anyway, what I mean is I think America should look as strong as possible; for all our sakes. But then, like you Phobos, I do ask how much is TOO much.
                                                              ???


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#5 2002-01-30 19:09:18

Phobos
Member
Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Is this a great time to go to Mars? - With the economy bad,will an expensive..

I have to concede to your points that we do need some military to protect ourselves, but I just have this feeling we've gone way overboard with our military spending and development.  I'd have to say your right that we look pretty #### invincible when our military budget alone is probably about 20 times the GNP of half the countries on Earth combined.  But it's just such a shame to use up all that money like that.  Even if they just reduced the budget by say, 20 billion, and funneled that money into other areas we could probably make a lot of progress in science and space exploration.


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#6 2002-05-01 00:58:55

Joe Spencer
Member
From: San Diego, CA
Registered: 2002-04-28
Posts: 6
Website

Re: Is this a great time to go to Mars? - With the economy bad,will an expensive..

Hey guys,

Interesting thread.  *throws his two cents in*

Remember one thing about military spending:

It's not all for hardware.

We may have the most technologically advanced military in the world (anyone who can nuke a 3rd world country while watching Family Feud 10,000 miles away is pretty advanced, IMHO), it takes alot of money to train the personnel to run said equipment.

I remember seeing figures when I was in Submarine School in Groton, Connecticut, concerning how much per capita it cost to train each of us.  I gasped at the thought of the government spending a half a mil on my 13 months of training!  In my mind, at the time, there was nothing they could teach us that cost that much!

I do agree, however, that some of that cashito should be funneled to more scientific research projects (albeit space related, medical, whatever). 

Anyway, there's my input.  Keep this thread up it is interesting!
*edited out a spelling mistake*


Looking Forward (and upward!),

Joe Spencer
Member, The Mars Society
San Diego, CA

jpspencer79@sbcglobal.net

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#7 2002-05-01 06:40:08

Shaun Barrett
Member
From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Is this a great time to go to Mars? - With the economy bad,will an expensive..

Hi Joe!
             You must be one formidable dude!! Where did you get that face?! (I don't seem to be able to find that particular icon anywhere on this site.)
             Are you as aggressive as that icon looks? Or is it just your military training? (Just kidding! )
             You know, a lot of people tend to underestimate the cost of things. Think of running a car. People tend to say the fuel costs them, say, 50 dollars a week and so they fondly imagine that represents the running cost of their vehicle. They often seem to forget the registration, cost of finance (or the opportunity cost of owning a vehicle outright ), depreciation, servicing costs, tyres, insurance, etc.
             I remember a story about a guy who lived in London, England. His work colleagues found out one day that he didn't own a car. Naturally, they asked him how he managed to get around. "By taxi", he answered. And how did he get to the beach on holidays, or get to his parents' place in the country? "I hire a car", he replied. Of course, they all thought he was crazy because they knew how expensive taxis and car-hire can be.
             That man challenged his colleagues to sit down with him while he added up the real costs each of them faced in running a car. By the time he'd finished, he had proved it was significantly cheaper to live as he did, without a vehicle. And he had the advantage of tending to walk more, not needing a car-parking space, and never having to wash a car on the weekend!!
             All I'm trying to say is that half a million dollars to train a submariner may not be as excessive as it sounds. Accountants who calculate these things are very thorough in the way they include EVERY cost in the final figure; even down to apportioning the ongoing costs of the grounds the training facility sits on! If the Navy didn't use that land (or dock) for cadet training, they could hire it out to private enterprise, or sell it, for seaside condominiums with jetties! The fact that they don't do that is an opportunity cost (i.e. money they have missed out on) and an accountant factors that into the cost equation; a little piece of which is entered into the account next to your name! If you ever got to go to sea, even briefly, aboard a sub, a proportion of the fuel cost and wear and tear cost, and ultimate vessel replacement cost, would have been apportioned to you! I haven't even got to the uniforms, food, accommodation, and wages for you and your teachers, yet. Then there's the electricity bill, gas bill, local taxes bill, building maintenance costs ... etc. etc.
               The cost of being a superpower is colossal; if you want to be the military top dog, it's going to involve big money. At this point in history, that dubious honour falls to America and the American taxpayer; and they represent probably the least repressive imperial power the world has ever experienced. So, to that extent, I am loathe to criticize too harshly the occasional excesses America does sink to; she is still a young nation and it is difficult to have overwhelming power and yet restrain yourself from using it.
               So, again, I walk the old tightrope between wanting America to remain strong for the sake of world stability, and wanting (with a passion) an energetic human exploration of Mars .... NOW!!! There has to be a way, somehow, and the most obvious way seems to be a compromise involving just a slight reduction in the U.S. military budget, with the money being channeled into space research. I believe that in the long term, the economic spin-offs of a vigorous manned Mars program will be of enormous value to America; helping to keep her the world's pre-eminent nation well into the future. Without that Mars program, I honestly believe America will falter and, in common with every powerful nation in history, face an inevitable decline into mediocrity. The time is ripe .... and, while history is graciously forgiving of great and noble efforts which fail, it is dismissively scathing of squandered opportunities.
             We, as Mars Society members, really need to convince as many people as possible of the importance of Mars exploration. Nobody gives much thought to the $24 billion
America spent on Apollo, but there's hardly a soul on Earth who doesn't see July 20th 1969 as America's crowning and most memorable achievement. Let's see to it that it's only the beginning!
                                        tongue


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#8 2002-05-02 18:06:56

Joe Spencer
Member
From: San Diego, CA
Registered: 2002-04-28
Posts: 6
Website

Re: Is this a great time to go to Mars? - With the economy bad,will an expensive..

Shaun,

Great post!  I agree with you.  I think my inflection came off a bit off-base of what I was thinking, however.  I should have added the line '..and the cost of my training was well worth it!' hehe

I do agree that the money must come from somewhere, and military funding is the most viable place to funnel it from....but you are right about 'walking that tightrope' when it comes to security...it is a debate that has lasted many years, and will surely continue...maybe one day we'll have an accountant for a president instead of a baseball team owner (nothing against G.W.  I think he's doing a bang-up job)....and they can start straightening things out!


Looking Forward (and upward!),

Joe Spencer
Member, The Mars Society
San Diego, CA

jpspencer79@sbcglobal.net

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#9 2002-05-30 11:46:36

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Is this a great time to go to Mars? - With the economy bad,will an expensive..

I don't know if it would bail us out of a recession, but considering that Pakistan and India are on the verge of what may possibly be the first nuclear exchange -- I hope we can get a mission to Mars *soon.*  I don't expect to ever be able to go; however, considering we are in what I consider to be World War III and the hostilities seem to only continue escalating -- at this point, going to Mars isn't an option for the human race.  It's a necessity.

As Voltaire said, referring to America, "only in a new town can real progress commence."  Mars may be humanity's last hope...for survival of the species and otherwise.

Sorry if I sound dramatic, but these are my thoughts.

--Cindy

Mars Society member since 6/01


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#10 2002-05-30 18:20:11

Phobos
Member
Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Is this a great time to go to Mars? - With the economy bad,will an expensive..

This whole thing between Pakistan and India is almost surreal.  I never thought I'd live to see a day in which nuclear weapons could actually be used to slaughter millions of people and totally destroy a huge portion of Earth's environment.  And I think this could easily escalate into WWIII considering that Israel and India are "loose knit" allies that virtually the entire Middle East would love to destroy.   If they do launch nukes at each other no telling how many other countries in addition might take that as a sign that launching nuclear weapons is suddenly an acceptable thing to do in war.


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#11 2002-06-02 09:42:47

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Is this a great time to go to Mars? - With the economy bad,will an expensive..

Phobos wrote:  "And I think this could easily escalate into WWIII considering that Israel and India are "loose knit" allies that virtually the entire Middle East would love to destroy.   If they do launch nukes at each other no telling how many other countries in addition might take that as a sign that launching nuclear weapons is suddenly an acceptable thing to do in war."

*I didn't know India and Israel are allies of sorts.  Obviously, either side of the Pakistani-Indian conflict would be crazy to initiate a nuclear exchange...but India would be even more foolish to drop the first nuke, considering that every other Islamic State-controlled nation would automatically construe it as a "war on Islam" (while deliberately and conveniently ignoring the real issues) and it'd most likely erupt into a real "free for all."  Well, Kashmir will sustain damage too.  I wonder what good it'll do, after the smoke has cleared and the dust settled, to find themselves having nothing left to fight over but humongous craters and radioactive soil.

Frankly, I think we're already embroiled in World War III.  I just hope the stakes don't get "upped" by mushroom clouds.  After the collapse of the Soviet Union, and later discovering that these Middle Eastern terrorist nations were purchasing former Soviet weapons and "how-to" manuals, I figured I'll live to see the day when a nuclear exchange takes place between nations.  The US-USSR cold war and arms race was bad enough...this is far worse.  The USSR was our enemy based on political ideology; I'd rather have an enemy based on that, than on religious differences (which tends toward greater levels of irrationality).

This is why I believe it is imperative -- and not an option -- that colonization efforts into the solar system (Mars first and foremost) be aggressively planned and made.

Just my 2 cents' worth.

--Cindy

MS member since 6/01.


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#12 2002-06-02 15:11:11

Phobos
Member
Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Is this a great time to go to Mars? - With the economy bad,will an expensive..

I agree wholeheartedly that a conflict based on religious fanaticism is far more irrational and dangerous than one based on mere political ideology.  And I think that's what scares me most about the Pakistani/Indian conflict, people will be a lot more willing to blow things up if they think they're fighting for God instead of just some president or prime minister.  No doubt the two countries, if they go to war, will try to fan the flames of religious zealotry in their populations to bring the war to an even more irrational and emotional level than it already is.  On the other hand, political ideology isn't always so far behind in the irrationality department.  Sometimes I get the thought that politics and political systems are based more on voodoo than any act of reason.


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#13 2002-06-03 02:42:33

Shaun Barrett
Member
From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Is this a great time to go to Mars? - With the economy bad,will an expensive..

I sympathise with Cindy's point of view but, a viable colony on Mars or anywhere else is at least decades away ... probably 50 years at best.
   Half a century is plenty of time for the religious lunatics in the world to put paid to civilisation in the name of their god. So it's too late to shift enough people off-Earth to save what's best of our world-culture. And besides, even if you somehow managed it, it's cold comfort for those of us left behind!
   The whole concept of pursuing space exploration as some kind of remedy for our self-destructive tendencies is, at least in the near term, a forlorn hope. As a long term insurance against natural disasters it's a more practicable idea.
   On a more optimistic note, my 2 cents worth is that I don't believe either India or Pakistan is stupid enough to use nuclear weapons. For all their blustering and ridiculous posturing (we're so much like apes sometimes it makes me squirm), somewhere in their leaders' cerebral cortexes is the nagging realisation that nobody wins in a nuclear exchange!
   Somebody tried to tell me that the present acrimony between India and Pakistan has been fomented by Bin Laden's  organisation in an attempt to destabilise the world. Does anybody know which way the prevailing winds blow in Kashmir? If they blow west, radioactive fallout could well fall on the land of the Prophet, Saudi Arabia ... Bin Laden's own home ground. Even Al Q'Aida can't win a nuclear war! Radioactive fission products don't care if you're christian, muslim, or jewish .... they'll kill you just the same.
   Let's put all this nonsense to the back of our minds and go to Mars for the right reasons: Because we're curious and because we need to explore. Those are the best reasons!
                                    smile


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#14 2002-06-03 15:27:26

Phobos
Member
Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Is this a great time to go to Mars? - With the economy bad,will an expensive..

Well said Shaun!  I still think there's a possibility though that if one of the countries gets clobbered bad by the other they might choose to just let lose and insure the enemy's victory comes with a high price.  Humanity is unpredictable, especially when your dealing with dictators and lunatics.  But your probably right, I think it's likely that even lunatics will think first before sending us down the road of nuclear holocaust.  Well dictators at least, I'm not sure about lunatics.  If they're willing to blow themselves up in the name of God they'd prolly have no issues with pressing the button.


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#15 2002-06-04 12:06:45

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Is this a great time to go to Mars? - With the economy bad,will an expensive..

Shaun wrote:  "I sympathise with Cindy's point of view but, a viable colony on Mars or anywhere else is at least decades away ... probably 50 years at best."

*I'm hoping to see a landing on Mars within my lifetime.  But, yes, colonization itself is still a ways off.

"Let's put all this nonsense to the back of our minds and go to Mars for the right reasons: Because we're curious and because we need to explore. Those are the best reasons!"

*True  smile  Agreed!

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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