Category Archives: Transcripts

The Space Show: One of the Most Important Questions Asked


Jan 4, 2017 40:20 […this is a ‘factual fiction spoken transcript’…with “ums” and “ahs”]

David: So I have a question from my earlier life, scuba diving, ‘cause, um, I used to go on, ah, weekend dive boat trips out ah in the Santa Barbara Channel. But I also did, uh, longer, two week boat trips — things like that — to the Grand, ah, um, to the Great Barrier Reef and other dive centers, Fiji Islands, and places like that. I was writing underwater photography, uh, in tourists’ magazines. And, uh, so — and Micronesia was a big spot too — so here’s what would always happen. There would be some people that would go husband and wife, and there would be a couple of single women that would attend, and there would be a lot of guys that would attend. So, people — the dynamics were, that people would pair off — that wives would want to pair off with someone else secretly — I mean you know the personal dynamics was all over the place on the boats. And they would find ways…when the husband’s diving, the wife would not be diving, so she could go play around with someone else. I mean — I did this for ten years — and I don’t think there was ever a trip, where, there weren’t personal conflicts, jealousies, people wanting to be with the same person. And I can’t imagine that even if you had a really well trained crew and they’re going to stick people in a can — that you’re not going to have the same kind of monkey business going on with people in space. You can maybe screen it, you can maybe, you know, try to find people that are not as subject to you know what you might be doing on a dive trip in your twenties or thirties, but, I don’t know, how ‘bout the personal relations with the crew and, and, getting jealous with one another and pairing off and all of this kind of stuff, is — how do you overcome that or how do you control it?

Nick Kanas: Well I’m not sure you can over come it, completely…you can deal with it, but, people are going to be…people. My sense is that in space so far, maybe there’s been a few differences, ah, here and there — for example, there’s absolutely no evidence, ah…I knew this was going to come up, in fact I deal with it in this issue in my book and I also wrote a science fiction novel I dealt with this sex in space issue. There’s no evidence that that anyone has done the deed in space. I have looked all over the place, I have talked to people over coffee, over drinks, who are flight surgeons — I’ve read reports from the Russians, reports from Americans, and at least no one is talking to this issue. Now there’re reasons for that. First of all, in microgravity, ah, although men can get erections — that’s been found — and women are all on birth-control pills, primarily for bone control and menopause, ah — birth control pills are good for dealing with that. Nevertheless you don’t feel too good…you’re kinda bloated, you’re ah, everything’s — water fluids have been shifted around, ah, there’s evidence in males that testosterone levels drop in microgravity, and, tremendous social pressure to not have sex in space from the agencies. If you want to get grounded, uh, pretty quick, and ah, not fly again, you have a sexual scandal in space. So I think for physiological reasons and, perhaps political reasons, it works against sexual issues. Plus a lot of the crew members have gotten a bit older and, ah, in the male and female crews, and, I think it’s just ah — they have other interests, you know, they can usually sublimate some of this stuff.

Now we’re going to Mars. Two and a half years. I think some of your experience…you’re gonna have, you’re gonna have people over the long haul, ah, especially if there’s artificial gravity, doing what people always do — boys and girls together — uh, and I think you have to learn to deal with it and find ways of coping. Um, I think crews, um, my guess is that the first crew going to Mars…is going to be males and females, uh, you don’t want to ever have one of any significant demographic group because that’s when we see people feeling isolated. What was hard — some of the simulations done in Europe, ah, where they’ve done simulated space, where they had one woman and three men, it’s awful hard on the woman. Because she’s the star. She’s the pressure — we found that in early Antarctic expeditions as well, when you have very few females, what happens is that captain gets the girl. I mean the highest ranking male usually ends up with you know, with the woman, if there’s one. So you want to have two or three women, two or three men — you want to have ah gender pals. Plus you want to have, um, kind of a sense of multinational differences as well, where you have maybe three or four English speakers who are native…


Machmer: This was inadequately answered. We need straightforward, honest, blunt discussion of sexuality in space. Humans will have a lot of sex in space and they should. We need to encourage sex in space, not pretend it doesn’t happen or that for some reason it shouldn’t. “Bloating”, “low testosterone”, “zero gravity”, “social pressure”, “crews getting older”, “a lot of other interests”…this is ridiculous nonsense. Unrealistic wishy-washy hedging like that makes permanent ‘explore to stay’ missions with married couples difficult to promote. We ought to speak of selecting married crews — specifically so they have sex. Married sexually active crews ought to be the norm. Sex ought to be expected, encouraged, scheduled, part of the normal healthy routine of daily research-settlement life.

Strangely, just an anecdotal personal observation: academics, sci-fi writers, and engineers are some of the least sexually mature folks I know (myself included). Perhaps this is just my own personal experience but after several decades of associating with such communities, it seems there might be some truth to such a casual observation…from Asimov to Clarke to KSR and on and on, sexuality in sci-fi tends to be odd, adolescent, and very unorthodox. Odd and unorthodox is fine, but we need a broad open discussion of basic human sexuality in the space community. Apparently nuclear engineers and opthamologists have divorce rates in the single digits — the lowest divorce rates among professionals in the United States — but most of the top engineers in space exploration I know of have been divorced multiple times. They’d hardly make socially stable crew members — although I don’t know how much fun it would be to live in a permanent settlement with those who would.

It’s unproductive and dangerous to pretend engineers we send on hopefully permanent missions to Mars will be sexually mature, responsible, polite professionals. What we need to avoid is a Pitcairn Island scenario in which men kill each other fighting over women (accounts vary, this is a tame version:…(Also, in 2004 nearly a third of the Island’s male population was arrested for sexual abuse:… These articles make a worthwhile, bracing, chilling read…the UK government does not even allow its Foreign Service Office staff to visit the island with their children.)

We need to speak about these issues. I would recommend anyone in doubt about the chaos of human sexual behavior attend a comedy open mic at a nearby university town. These topics come up over and over. Masturbation, homosexuality, cheating girlfriends — basically Standup Comedy 101. And they are spoken of in the most direct, honest, down-to-earth EFFECTIVE manner. For instance, has anyone reading this gone a few months without masturbating? A week? If you’ve abstained more than the duration of a Mars return mission — seek medical attention. Immmmmmediately. That is a serious problem. It is not an ideal. Abstinence is not something professionals should strive for. To be blunt: we ought to know how often astronauts have sex and masturbate on the International Space Station right now.

Kind of joking but, really…attend an open mic. Microgravity would obviously be fun.

(Quick serious note: Mary Roach was David’s guest a while ago for an interview in which she explicitly mentioned married couples having served on ISS simultaneously, during which it was supposed that of course they’d had sex. She didn’t mention names but did intentionally leave the impression that sex has most definitely occurred in space. We ought to make sure it is expected. The absence of sex is unhealthy.)

Cholmer: Agree that this is a really important question to answer. Not only from a physical health stand point but a psychological standpoint.

The best examination that we have on this is the 2 year closure with Biosphere 2 where 4 men and 4 women were closed in for 2 years. Half (2 couples) were had bonded and paired prior to the closure, 2 were unattached and 2 left spouses on the outside. This experiment is famous and infamous for many things, chief among them was some of the reported dynamics that happens. Unfortunately since this was a private company and the public implosion of Space Biosphere Ventures (SBV) during the 2nd closure test, much of this data is not available.

Recently in 2006 Jayne Poynter, one of the published in her book (… ) about some of the dynamics and specifics that went on both inside the enclosure and the conflicts that happened between the crew and mission control.

For a shorter summary, you can read The paper ‘Group dynamics challenges: Insights from Biosphere 2 experiment’ by Mark Nelson, Kathelin Graya, John P. Allen. (… Mark Was also a member of the original Crew 1 and John Allen was a VP at SBV and managed the mission control side of things. There is some discussion of what they did for selection and training on this prior picking the crew for the first enclosure. What I find most intriguing about this is that even with this, they still had very serious issues with this

So big question here for Dr. Kanas and other is – is group dynamic training part of the mission training planning and is something like the Bion approach / reviews (or some other method) being considered as part of the mission plan it self as an activity by the crew to objectively examine and identify unhealthy behaviors during the mission?

As for the married couple on the ISS, they were married, based on experience, of course they didn’t have sex.

Peter’s Abundance Espresso Shots

“You see doing anything big and significant in the world requires passion. At the end of the day it’s your passion and how you convey that is going to have someone invest your time money and resources in you. Also, doing anything bold in the world is going to take time. And at two o’clock in the morning, literally, if you’re doing it for somebody else: for your parents, for your business partner – not for you and your heart, you’re going to give up, before it is done.

Literally for success you have to figure out what you would do whether someone pays you or not. So the question is how do you find that? What is it that’s going to allow you to find and drive your passion.

So I’ve come up with two ideas I’m going to share with you. Number one: what did you want to do as a kid, what did you love to do as a child, because literally you can make a career out of anything.

The second idea is: you have a billion dollars. You don’t have to work again, you have to spend this billion dollars to make the most important valuable impact on the planet. Where would you spend it? What would you do with that money? What kind of change in the world would you want to create? And its that area and passion that will help you discover what you should be doing on this planet.

Comprehensive & Concise: David Gump "Deep Space Industries Sets Sights On Asteroids"

“…basically helping everyone to live off the land in space rather than hauling everything we need to up from the ground…therefore our first markets are in space markets. Asteroids contain a good deal of volatiles – water, methane, hydrocarbons – and there’s a big demand for hydrocarbons, propellants, in space. Communication satellites up in GEO orbit – it costs them ten thousand dollars a pound to bring up the propellant they need for station keeping. When that runs out they are no longer worth anything to the owners. With propellant that can be provided cheaply by our services – each extra month they can squeeze out of those satellites is five to eight million dollars per satellite. So that’s one of the first markets we intend to serve.
And as we serve a commercial growing market for propellant that’s a great benefit to NASA and their exploration programs. NASA when its planning Mars missions, ninety percent of what it has to launch from the ground is propellant – if they can just launch the hardware and tank up in orbit, they can do Mars missions sooner, and they can repeat Mars missions so they’re not just flags and footprints once and we stop going. 
We can start getting our energy from space, its clean, no pollution, no carbon build up…I’m sure everyone in Beijing would love to get their power from solar powered satellites instead of a ring of coal fired plants around a city. So that is in the longer-view: the market to bring clean abundant electricity to Earth. And so that is a trillion dollar a year enterprise to serve electrical power on Earth. 
…as we move into the larger things that actually bring back a hundred to two hundred tons of material, the market activity that will pay for that kind of thing is going to be communications satellites. I think that is the early market for asteroid material. Once you get cranking on producing propellant you can then look to doing other things: creating photovoltaic cells to increase power available in space – then, in the fullness of time, after you’re already processing the satellite for other things you’ll be able to get platinum and gold and silver in sufficient quantities to merit export back down to Earth. But our analysis is you really can’t just start up to mine asteroids for platinum group metals – the economics just do not add up.
Turning that rock into something you want to buy.”

Blue Origin: Fireside Chat with Jeff Bezos & Werner Vogels

Literal Factual Fiction transcription (there are lots of “ums” and “ahs” in these scripts…they are meant to encourage realistic dialogue in narrative writing, not to be insulting : )

“I very frequently get the question: what’s gonna change in the next ten years. That is an interesting question – it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: what’s not going to change in the next ten years. And I, submit to you, that that second question, is actually the more important of the two. Because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. And so as you pointed out, in our retail business, we know that customers want low prices – and I know that’s going to be true ten years from now. They want fast delivery. They want vast selection. It’s impossible for me to imagine a future ten years from where a customer comes to me and says, “Jeff, I love Amazon but I just wish the prices were a little higher.” You know how, you could – “I love Amazon, I just wish you’d deliver more slowly.” And so the effort that we put into those things, spinning those things up – we know, the energy we put into it today, will still be paying dividends from our customers ten years from now. And so those – when you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.


Innovation is a point of view. You have to actually select people that are part of the company who want to innovate and explore. Um…being a pioneering…company – an “explorer” company – isn’t for everybody. Some people wake up in the morning and they get their, uh – energy, the thing they think about in the shower as they start their annual planning process, or however you want to think about it – “who are the three companies that we’re going to kill this year”. That’s the conqueror mentality. And, it’s competitor focused mentality instead of a customer focused mentality. And it’s not being – that mentality can succeed by the way…so I’m not claiming that the pioneering explorer approach is the only effective one, um, but when you’ve – when you attract people who have the DNA of pioneers, and the DNA of explorers – you build a company of like minded people who want to invent. And that’s what they think about when they wake up in the morning “how are we going to work backwards from customers and build a great service or a great product” – you, you, you – that’s ah, that’s ah, key element to invention. That part is fun by the way. So if you’re the right kind of person, and you like to invent, and you like change – and everything you see as you move about the world you think about how it could be improved. That’s just fun. At Amazon, over the last eighteen plus years, we’ve attracted a bunch of people like that, and we have a ton of fun doing it. Now there are a couple of other things that are essential to invention and innovation – that are not as fun. One of them is you have to have a willingness to fail. You have to have a willingness to be misunderstood for long periods of time. If you do something in a new way – now I don’t care what it is…people are initially going to misunderstand it relative to the traditional way. And they will – there will be well meaning critics, who will, you know will genuinely want the best outcome but they’re worried about this new way. And there’ll also be of course, self-interested critics…who have a vested interest in the traditional – they have some profit stream tied to the traditional way. Um, but, doing things – doing things – if you never want to be criticized for goodness sake don’t do anything new. So…it’s, it’s okay, though, if you have a willingness to be misunderstood for long periods of time. If you have a willingness to fail. Then what you can do is you can ramp up your rate of experimentation. So successful invention – successful invention is inventions that customers care about. It’s actually relatively easy to invent new things that customers don’t care about. Um, but successful invention, ah,if you want to do a lot of that, you basically have to increase your rate of experimentation. And that – you can think of as a process, how you go about organizing your systems, your, people…ah, all of our assets, your own daily life and how you spend time, how you organize those things to increase your rate of experimentation. Because not all of your experiments are going to work.


You see it, you know, on the blogosphere – on Facebook – you see anywhere customers can talk, discussion boards, about products and services…let’s put it this way, if, in the old days, you might be best advised to put thirty percent of your energy and effort into building a great product or service – and then seventy percent of your effort and energy into shouting about that service…that has flipped around. And basically the balance of power is shifting from, the, you know, the providers of services, providers of offerings, to: the consumers of offerings – and, I believe that’s a great thing for society, I even believe that’s a great thing for the companies that provide the services as long as they acknowledge it and embrace it.

[…]  Whenever you empower people with new tools you see beautiful results.

If we think long-term, we can accomplish things that we couldn’t otherwise accomplish. If I said to you, “I want you to solve world hunger in 5 years”, you would rightly decline the challenge. But if I said to you, “I want to you to solve world hunger in 100 years” now that’s more interesting. Because you start to create the conditions under which such change could occur. And all we’ve done there is change the time horizon. We didn’t change the challenge, we changed the time horizon. So time horizons matter, they matter a lot.”


Blue Origin is a, ah, um, ah, a space – a company that’s developing a vertical take-off, vertical landing, space vehicle. Ah, and ah, so it takes off on its tail like a normal rocket and lands on its tail like a Buck Rogers rocket. It’s designed to be reusable. We’ve built our first development vehicle, we’ve build our second development vehicle, we’re right now working on our third development vehicle. Great team of engineers, located in Seattle. Another team of people ‘test and operations’ in West Texas where we do our flights. And, uh, it’s proceeding along very nicely, ahhh – I’m hopeful that this third development vehicle, will be our last. But we can’t know for sure. And then, we will, ah, build our operational vehicle and start taking people to suborbital missions – we’ll sell tickets…the long term goal of Blue Origin is to – not only do suborbital but also orbital and to democratize…space travel so that anybody who wants to go into space can afford to do so.

Vogels : Are there particular challenges to vertical take off and landing that, that, other approaches don’t have?

Yeah, um, every approach has its…plusses and minuses. The thing that I like about – well, first of all: you need reusability. So, when you go look at any approach that doesn’t have reusability, it’s never going to be low cost. There’re only two problems of space travel today: it’s too expensive and it’s too dangerous, other than that it’s fine. [laughter] So we hope to solve those two problems. And if you want to solve those problems, and have a spacefaring species, you need to – um – you need to practice, and you can’t practice this with expendable vehicles. It’s like, you know, it’s like flying your – you know, you get on a 747 with a bunch of passengers, fly to Hawaii – and then: throw the whole plane away. It’s just a bad – it’s a bad cost structure. And, um, so we need reusability. So we have to get the vehicle back. And, ah, one of the ways to get it back is to put wings on it, um, and then you can land it on a runway. Another way to get the vehicle back is to land it vertically under, under rocket power. And both techniques have advantages and disadvantages – one of the things I like about vertical landing is, if you get it to work, it’s very scalable. It scales to very, very large size. Whereas wings sort of – you know – they top out a bit.

Vogels: Ok, so, it cannot only be experimentation. I assume you do a lot of computation and, um, you know, simulation as well.

Absolutely. Blue Origin is a huge – as you know – he’s leading me here – but it’s, it’s true, Blue Origin is a huge, user of AWS [Amazon Web Services]. And it’s because – we used to have a Beowulf cluster, and it was a total pain in the butt, and ’cause we’re always upgrading – we do a lot of computational fluid dynamics calculations. And now – the Blue Origin team – can spin up, you know, multi-thousand node clusters – and what used to take a weekend of elapsed time can now be done in minutes. And it keeps getting better. It keeps getting better. So yeah, the, you know, the – I think it’s safe to say the, uh, the heavy duty compute users of Blue Origin are very, ah, you know, ah – they basically wet themselves they’re so happy….


Never chase the hot thing – whatever it is. That’s like trying to catch the wave, you’ll never catch it. You need to position yourself and wait for the wave. And the way you do that is, you pick something you’re passionate about. So, that’s the one piece of advice I give someone who wants to start a new company – or, start a new endeavor inside of a bigger company. Make sure it’s something you’re interested in, something you’re passionate about. Missionaries build better products. And so I would take a missionary over a mercenary any day. Mercenaries want to – you know, flip the company in a day and get rich. Missionaries want to build a great product or service – you know, it’s one of those great paradoxes – its usually the missionaries who end up making more money anyway. But, so that’s one. Pick something you’re passionate about. And…the second is…start with the customer and work backwards. That’s…those two things…passion and customer-centricity, will take you an awful long way.

Larry Page: A Heartfelt and "a Healthy Disregard for the Impossible"

“It’s often easier to make progress when you’re really ambitious, and, the reason is, you actually don’t have any competition – no one else is willing to try those things – and you also get the best people, because, the best people want to work on the most ambitious things. […] There’s tremendous things that are possible in the world through technology, and we have relatively few people in the world working on those things. We’re not developing a lot of new scientists and engineers. It’s probably well under one percent of the population in most developed countries… “

Zubrin Advancing ‘Humans to Mars’ as Questioner at Mars Concepts 2012

Zubrin (as questioner in audience at about 1:22): “The purpose of the human, exploration program, inasmuch as it is cooperating with the robotics, exploration program, should be to prepare for human exploration not to prevent human exploration…and so…you really don’t want to get into this thing of “you can’t do your program, until we do my program”. And so that, for example, while the Mars Sample Return has a great deal of scientific merit – I’m not going to argue against the mission – ah…to say you cannot do a human mission, until you’ve done a sample return mission, to certify that the target site is lifeless, ah…doesn’t make any sense. In fact, if you did do a sample return mission and you found biological material at that site, that’s exactly where you’d want to send human explorations. You want to send human explorers to the most interesting sites, not to the least interesting sites. And, other things here…we clearly don’t need to do a Phobos mission before we do humans missions. You might want to do a Phobos mission, but to claim you have to do a Phobos mission before you do humans missions, its not relevant. To say you have to do a humans to Mars orbit before you do human mission to the Mars surface, makes no sense, because actually, a human mission to Mars orbit, unless you have very advanced propulsion systems which can take on very large delta Vs, will involve over twice the radiation dose of a human mission to the Mars surface, because you’re left in Mars orbit for a year taking in-space radiation doses. So, I think what you want to do, is – for instance: Mars missions that provide reconnaissance for the most interesting sites to target human exploration to? Great! Okay…the, the Mars missions which do reconnaissance to assure us of no landing hazards, great. Mars missions that find resources that would be useful to human missions, great. Okay, and we should do the maximum number of them – but, the idea of doing, of, of, of setting an infinite series of precursors and saying “you can’t do that until you do all these things” – many of which are clearly irrelevant and are just being stuck in there because somebody’s interested in them, that’s not the way to go.”

NASA Becoming a Barrier to Space Exploration, Again

“Mars the Hard Way”
By Robert Zubrin | Dec. 3, 2012In recent weeks, NASA has put forth two remarkable new plans for its proposed next major initiatives. Both bear careful examination.

As the centerpiece for its future human spaceflight program, NASA proposes to build another space station, this one located not in low Earth orbit but at the L2 Lagrange point just above the far side of the Moon. This plan is indeed remarkable in as much as an L2 space station would serve no useful purpose whatsoever. We don’t need an L2 space station to go back to the Moon. We don’t need an L2 space station to go to near-Earth asteroids. We don’t need an L2 space station to go to Mars. We don’t need an L2 space station for anything.

The other initiative is a new plan for Mars sample return, which is now held to be the primary mission of the robotic Mars exploration program. This plan is remarkable for its unprecedented and utterly unnecessary complexity.

It may well be asked whether a sample return is the best way to pursue the robotic scientific exploration of Mars, within the budget of the Mars exploration program run by NASA’s planetary exploration directorate. That is an issue over which reasonable people may, and do, differ. It is certainly possible to propose alternative robotic mission sets consisting of assortments of orbiters, rovers, aircraft, surface networks, etc., that might produce a greater science return than the Mars sample return mission, much sooner, especially in view of the fact that human explorers could return hundreds of times the amount of samples, selected far more wisely, from thousands of times the candidate rocks, than a sample return mission. However, that said, if members of the scientific community really believe that a robotic Mars sample return is so valuable that it is worth sacrificing all the other kinds of science they could do with their cash, then it is imperative that NASA develop the most efficient Mars sample return plan, to allow the sample to be obtained as quickly as possible and with the least possible expenditure of funds that could be used for other types of Mars exploration missions.

Unfortunately, however, rather than propose the most cost-effective plan for a Mars sample return mission, NASA has now set forth the most convoluted, riskiest, costliest approach ever conceived. The Curiosity mission just demonstrated a system that can soft land 900 kilograms on the martian surface. With a 900-kilogram payload, it is possible to land a complete two-stage Mars ascent vehicle capable of flying a capsule with a 1-kilogram sample directly back to Earth, as well as a Mars Exploration Rover class vehicle to gather the samples for it. But instead of proposing such a straightforward plan, NASA has now baselined a mission conducted in eight parts: a) land a large rover to collect and cache samples; b) dispatch a Mars ascent vehicle to Mars and perform a surface rendezvous with the rover or its cache; c) fly the Mars ascent vehicle to Mars orbit to rendezvous with a solar electric propulsion spacecraft; d) fly the solar electric propulsion spacecraft back to near-Earth interplanetary space; e) build a LaGrange point space station; f) fly astronauts to the LaGrange point space station; g) dispatch astronauts from a LaGrange point space station to take the sample from the solar electric propulsion spacecraft and return to the LaGrange point space station; h) conduct extended studies of the sample in the LaGrange point space station.

The kindest thing that can be said about this quintuple rendezvous plan is that it is probably the unplanned product of the pathology of bureaucracy, rather than the willful madness of any individual. For a fifth of its cost, NASA could fly five simple direct sample return missions, each of which would have (at least) five times its chance of mission success. So it’s hard to imagine any sane person inventing it on purpose.

Clearly, though, the group that drifted into it was attempting to make the Mars sample return mission provide an apparent excuse for the existence for an assortment of other NASA hobbyhorses. For example, we note that it makes use of the LaGrange point space station. But this does not help the Mars sample return mission, which could much more simply just return the samples to Earth, where far better lab facilities are available than could ever be installed at L2. Rather, by invoking the L2 station as a critical element of the mission plan, NASA is inserting a toll both blocking the way to the accomplishment of the sample return, while radically increasing mission and program cost, schedule and risk and decreasing science return. The same can be said for requiring the use of electric propulsion, a technology program that was inserted into the human Mars mission critical path based on an unsupportable claim by a well-placed advocate that it could speed up interplanetary transits, and that now needs some alternative rationale.

This planning methodology is equivalent to that of a shopaholic couple who ask an architect to design their dream house but insist that he include in his design as critical components every whimsical piece of random junk they have ever bought in the past and piled up in their back yard, in order to make those purchases appear rational after the fact. By capitulating to this kind of thinking, the NASA leadership has transformed Mars sample return from a mission into a “vision.”

NASA is facing an oncoming fiscal tsunami. There could never be a worse time for the agency to seek to inflate the cost, stretch the schedule and minimize the return of its missions. If the space program is to survive, it needs to really deliver the goods. Now, more than ever, if we actually want to get a sample from Mars, we need to employ a plan that does that in the simplest, cheapest, fastest and most direct fashion possible. Under no circumstances should the mission be made into a Christmas tree on which to hang all the ornaments in the bureaucracy’s narcissistic wish box of useless and costly multidecade delays. And the same can be said of the human Mars exploration mission as well. If we want to go to Mars, we need to go to Mars, not to L2.

The Cultural Importance of Off-Earth Settlement

“The idea of seeing the Earth from the moon created a planetary level consciousness that didn’t exist before. The simple fact is that, when you live and work on another world – when you have people who live and work on another world – it is going to create changes whose real effect we cannot predict right now. No one would have predicted by going to the moon we would have a whole new appreciation for the fragility of the Earth – simply because of its appearance over a stark barren landscape in the blackness of space. Now that was one picture. Now think of how our societal consciousness will change, when you actually have a whole community of people living on another world. And I think it will change, it will have an effect – it will probably have an effects that we can’t fully predict right now. But there’s no doubt that it will have a profound effect on the consciousness of humanity on this planet.”

Paul Spudis

Image: On August 23, 1966, just as Lunar Orbiter I was about to pass behind the moon, mission controllers executed an unplanned maneuver to point the camera away from the lunar surface and toward Earth. The result was the world’s first view of Earth from space. The photograph was called “the picture of the century.”

A Genuine Intellectual with Integrity, John Lewis on Asteroid Mining and Mars Settlement

“Our first goal is not to settle space, but to make space so economically attractive that it will settle itself.”


“Pass carbon dioxide in the atmosphere through electrolysis with what is essentially a ceramic membrane and split it into carbon monoxide and oxygen. Liquify the carbon monoxide and oxygen and you have rocket fuel and rocket oxidizer. The performance of a carbon monoxide/oxygen engine is inferior to that of cryogenic propellants because you’re already using carbon that’s half burned. But – it’s sufficient to get off of Mars. With a single stage.”