Factual corrections to points made by Paul Spudis: eight week round-trip missions to NEAs have been proposed (see earlier posts on this blog); most asteroids rotate at very, very low speeds; most do not have “co-orbiting clouds of debris;” resources will be collected at asteroids and processed in artificial ‘gravitational’ environments at LEO. These are exciting, solvable engineering challenges. Solvable.
“From a technical point of view, we’re much closer today to sending humans to Mars than we were to sending men to the Moon in 1961. […] While there are resources on the moon there are vastly more on Mars. There’re continent sized regions on Mars that are 60% water in the soil. There’s complex geological history which has created mineral ore. There’s carbon, which is necessary for life and for plastics. There’s nitrogen. There’s a twenty four hour day. […] The reason why it is important to do something as hard as exploring and ultimately settling Mars, is because of what it would do for opening up and creating the prospect of a human future with an open frontier rather than a limited frontier of a world of limited resources, in which choices are becoming ever closer and smaller and freedom is ever more limited.“
“As far as robots versus humans despite the fact that I am a robot guy, you can’t send humans out to explore the solar system soon enough — for me. As an example, what our magnificent robots have accomplished for six years on Mars — Paul is a geologist — Paul and I could’ve done it in about a week. Okay? So robots fall far short of what you can do with humans. […] I firmly believe the best exploration and the most inspiring exploration can only be done by humans. […] Asteroids have very low gravity so you don’t have to go down into a gravity well and come back out again. There are asteroids that are incredibly rich in carbon, there are asteroids that are incredibly rich in metalic minerals: iron, nickel, and all sorts of trace elements. So everything Paul Spudis is talking about on the moon, you can get it better on an asteroid. Asteroids are an incredibly rich source of raw materials. […] There’s a lot more to mine on asteroids than there is on the moon.”
If Lunar advocates were at a bar they’d drink alone. Soda. After having attended several space-related conferences each year for over a decade, one characteristic of moon-first advocates which has been unfailingly predictable: they are boring as hell.
The full debate may be viewed here, thanks to Landmark Pictures:
Congratulations Mike Neal! Easily the coolest design for any space-related event
in the last 10 years; exceptional artists by nature want to see humans on Mars.
Mike Neal is a design and architectural writer currently completing his MFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York City as part of the inaugural class of its graduate design criticism program. He was born and raised in Southern California, where he worked for many years, first as a graphic designer, then as an art director for the Los Angeles office of the worldwide branding and advertising agency, Ogilvy and Mather.
As part of his critical studies, Mike has focused on examining the fields of space architecture. His graduate thesis deals specifically with the historical links to Modernist design theory in relation to current planning and design that would accompany the first human explorers to Mars. For first hand research Mike served as the journalist and executive officer for the Mars Society’s 84th crew at MDRS.
The concept for Mike’s design for the Society’s upcoming convention was initially inspired by a quote by architect and designer, Buckminster Fuller, who decades ago had tried to pioneer a design/science revolution. Always a challenger of the status quo, Fuller was particularly scrutinizing of the language we use to describe our universe; he once noted, “If you still use the terms up and down, you’re still thinking in terms from the dark ages.” Fuller argued instead there was only “in”, towards the Earth’s gravitational center, and “out,” towards space.
This idea is translated in the convention poster in the constantly shifting perception of orientation of both space and time. Up and down—in and out—are in a state of flux between the gravitational centers of blue Earth and vermillion Mars, as ground and sky interchange. The conventions theme also changes though maintaining its intent; “Reaching Higher,” as the Wright brother’s did in their first flight, and continuing on that trajectory to the “Higher Reaching” goal of Mars.