Well the moron mods are out in force.
Yep, I can see that. What the hell happened to you, Slashdot? I leave for a couple years, 'cause I've been busy, and now you're giving this opportunist a Q&A? Not only that, but throwing her softball questions so she can push her professional victim schtick, and downvoting people who point this out?
This is just sad.
Personally, the only reason I watched sometimes was Kari Byron. I'll keep an eye on what she does next.
I do wish Hyneman and Savage luck. I like them, really, just not enough to actively follow what they do. If they come up with something interesting and get people talking, I'll check it out. But I feel the Mythbusters are about to bust the myth that people will watch a programme that lets go of their young and winsome cast members.
Oh yes, mineshafts, I love that one, let's do that as well, sign me up. What's the required men to women ratio, again, doc?
So what you're saying is, it would be (1) more boring than ISS, and (2) quite a bit more dangerous. I'm sure both are true - discovery and exploration have always been very risky, and this would be unprecedented so I'm sure it won't be a walk in the park. I'm not sure, but I don't think it would be boring and dangerous enough to be impossible. I am sure, though, that that hasn't stopped us before.
A colony on Mars won't be self-sufficient for a very long time, even if they get their water from the planet, and produce their own oxygen and grow their vegetables and stuff. It may take a century or more, if we ever manage to have factories there, to produce parts and things they'll need. But to use your own words: "It would take infinitely long if you never start."
What I don't get is why you seem to assume that it's one thing or the other. It seems to me that you're implying that, if we send a manned mission to Mars, we won't develop better technology here. We can do both. It could be that we will solve the transport issue before we solve self-sufficiency away from Earth, or it can happen the other way around, I don't think you, me, or anyone else can predict now how it'll play out. So predicating the solution of a hard problem on solving another first, that may be less or maybe much more difficult, does seem a tad self-defeating. Especially when I don't see a hard dependency, both problems can be tackled at the same time, without waiting.
Anyroad, gotta get to work. Some quick notes I thought of while reading your post, that I have no time now to edit into a proper reply:
* You get used to email, really, and you don't need low latency to stay in touch with friends, and get movies and videogames. Or, radical notion here, books.
* It could be that very earthly jobs, like in the military or law enforcement or what you have, are riskier anyway, it's not as if we don't take risks every day (we as a species, I mean.. felt embarrassed and a bit ashamed about that "we", from the comfort of my safe living room).
* It's not about repopulating Earth, it's about survival of the species by any means necessary, even if it means evolving to live elsewhere and that we can't go back. Mars is certainly harder than Earth, it probably won't be viable, but we'll want to try other places eventually. Out there, away from the solar system. And hey, we have to start somewhere, and Mars seems easy enough. Considering.
* Good luck with PETA letting you send a couple monkeys. Mark me words, it'll be easier to send humans anyway. Heh.
* To the AC asking why should we care... that doesn't even deserve an answer. We'll get extinct one day, guaranteed, but we're going to go down fighting, because that's who we are. Humanity ftw.
Um. Alright. I wasn't really commenting on Tito's plan, but rather on MichaelSmith's notion of a one-way trip, at the start of this thread (which, btw, has been proposed, seriously). But sure, let's get serious if you want.
I do see a point in sending meatbags to Mars. Not for the sake of a flyby, or that joke about the flag, but ultimately to attempt to live in Mars for extended periods of time. Staying in Mars, in some sort of habitat, establish a permanent presence in another planet. I think achieving this should be considered a more pressing issue than it actually seems to be. I'll come back to this in a minute. But a flyby may be useful, to assess what exactly it takes to get there.
First though, I'm not sure you've got your numbers right. Valeri Polyakov stayed 14 months aboard that tin can, Mir. Sergei Krikalev (who's spent 800+ days in space) stayed 10 months while the USSR dissolved. Aleksandr Kaleri has spent almost as long - he was in the ISS couple years ago (and the man is 56 btw). And so on. Now of course there have been side effects, both physiological and psychological, but, to my knowledge none incapacitating, and none permanente in the long-term. So I'm not quite sure, when you say "Humans cannot sit in a tin can for two years and retain sanity", what are you basing this opinion on? I'm not an expert, but given these numbers, well. To me, it sounds very hard alright, but not impossible, or even unrealistic.
You also said, "We already had ground simulations of the flight, and they were generally unsatisfactory". Could you elaborate? I only know of Mars-500, an experiment conducted by a few years ago where they isolated a crew to simulate a trip to Mars. I recall they all completed the experiment, no one went bonkers aboard and started killing the others, really. I seem to recall there were issues concerning lack of sleep, which of course is serious and needs addressing. It may be part of the reason why ISS astronauts take sleeping pills now. In any case, experiments like Mars-500, valuable as they are, can't simulate microgravity or what I think will be the worst issue, radiation. So I do see a point in those lab rats in a tin can, harsh as the whole notion is.
I hear you on that part about research, that's always a necessity. But I don't think there's a reason why it must be one or the other, we could have a manned mission *and* research into new technologies. Thing is, and again I may be misinformed, but I don't think we're even close to develop technology that could cut the flight time substantially. I mean, we don't even have the science, the theoretical groundwork, on which to base such a technology. Travel to Mars in a day or two, you say? Come on, man, get real. That's going to take a very, very long time to achieve, and I don't think we should wait that long.
The reason why I see this is a pressing matter is: I think it's paramount for us, as a species, to hedge our bets, as it were. To make living in another planet, if not economical or practical, at least feasible. Because we don't know when the next Chixculub rock is going to hit, we don't know when we'll face a pandemic that wipes life on Earth, it can happen any time. And I think it would be immensely valuable to know that such a scenario wouldn't necessarily mean the extinction of the species.
Yes, but if the whole point is to learn how to keep people alive up there, the dead are rather limited use. Not very photogenic either, for the obligatory shot of some guy planting a flag.
I think the point is, if you're going to put people on a rocket and shoot them to Mars, in the understanding that, no matter what happens, they're going to die there, won't ever see Earth again, it might just be easier to find takers, and generally to sell this idea to the public, if you aim for 60+ aged who already lived their lives here.
I know people that age who are still in great shape, and maybe some would be willing to set off for one last adventure. Who knows. Tough one, that.
Federal grants are offered for... research into the recreation potential of interplanetary space travel for the culturally disadvantaged.