Posted by toadstar on 3:53 PM

Million Mile Mission:

As a science fiction writer/reader, I love space. I love it's limitless possibilities. I love it's infinite reach and beauty. So it goes that I'm real excited about all the renewed talk of space exploration. I am disappointed that we do not already have a colony on the moon, I am saddened to think that the last time we landed on the moon was 1976. It was like we said, been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

Today I found this article that both excites me and in a way depresses me. The exciting part is obviously a freakin mission to a freakin asteroid! I'm even more jazzed about landing on an asteroid, because I'm in the middle of reading 'River of Gods' by Ian McDonald (which I'm totally enjoying, I love watching all these puzzle pieces fall into place) which has people landing on asteroids (I don't want to give any of the book away, lets just say that if you have read it you'll be like oh, yea that is cool....).

But the part that depresses me is this:

Jones is part of an unofficial group of NASA actives and alums who have
been studying, mostly on their own time, the particulars—engineering
requirements, mission trajectories, scientific payoffs, and costs—of a human
trip to an asteroid. Like the Mars Underground, a larger group of enthusiasts
who for the past 20-plus years have been pushing for a voyage to Mars, the
asteroid agitators are trying to build support for a mission.

Shouldn't this be the job? Not the freetime hobby, but the job?

Charles Stross had an interesting blog post a little while ago, in which he put forth other ways that we could have spent the billions of dollars wasted in Iraq. One of his suggestions was to set up a colony on Mars:
Either way, the direct costs of the Iraq war exceed the maximum cost
estimate for a manned Mars expedition, infrastructure and all, by 20%. If we
take $20Bn as the cost per mission and $450Bn as the cost to develop the
technology to go there, the direct cost of the Iraq war would be sufficient to
develop a gold-plated Mars expeditionary capability and send six crews of
astronauts to Mars (and bring them back afterwards).
Going by Stiglitz's
indirect estimates, the picture is even more ludicrous; for $3Tn, assuming a
crew of four per expedition, $20Bn per flight, and a basic $450 start-up price,
you could send 510 astronauts to Mars. That's not a Mars exploration program,
that's a battalion! It's a small colony! Regular readers will be familiar with
my opinion of plans to colonize Mars ...

And finally, MarsPhoenix has posted that it has discovered ice on Mars. I would love to get a peek of that under a microscope.


Jackson Pollock by Miltos Manetas