I just have a few questions about Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to colonize Mars by 2024

When I posted this a year ago I said Elon Musk’s plan to colonize Mars by 2024 is batshit crazy. There is some new evidence of that. In fact, it’s a scheme that’s even crazier than I thought.

The shocking ways space travel wrecks the human body. The inhospitable environment — with its zero gravity and lack of a protective atmosphere — can wreak havoc on the human body. Here a list of what it does: Your sleep gets out of whack; your muscles waste away; after a trip to Mars and back you would not have the strength to walk; your eyesight gets wonky; the get fried with radiation; your gut bacteria changes; and you might go crazy, even more than you were when you signed up for the trip. That list comes from the article in the New York Post I linked to above.

That’s just the list we know about now. It’s based on astronauts spending almost one year aboard the International Space Station. If there ever is a rocket ship to Mars holding people the makes it there and back who knows what more we’ll learn about how space wrecks the human body.

It’s still true that Elon Musk’s plan to colonize Mars by 2024 is batshit crazy. In fact, it’s even crazier than I thought.

An enjoyable Mars walk, until you tire of wearing that suit (click to enlarge)

Here is the original post from a year ago, with corrections to some minor mistakes I made:

Elon Musk says his SpaceX project will colonize Mars by 2024, he just needs $10 Billion of your tax dollars to do it.  Taxpayers have so far given Musk almost $5 Billion for his Tesla electric luxury car project. Several Tesla’s have caught fire and burned to a crisp and a few of the Falcon9 space rockets used by SpaceX have blown up on the launch pad. OK, I guess he’ll get that worked out, and he won’t be hitting taxpayers up for more than say, three times his initial estimate of $10 Billion?

There are just a few other niggling little matters that will have to be taken care of and some of them seem to be a bit more difficult than shaking down the U.S. government for handouts.

It takes at least 115 days [I got that wrong, it’s more like 9 months] one-way to travel to Mars by rocket ship so once anyone gets there I imagine they’re going to want to run to the nearest sandy beach with a lounge chair and a beach umbrella. Oh wait, there are no sandy beaches on Mars. There is water, but it’s all frozen beneath the North and South polar icecaps where the temperature is a near  constant minus 175 degrees. So scratch that idea, maybe a warm igloo will have to do.

Actually, away from the poles the temperature during the Martian day can reach a balmy 70 degrees above. It’s the nights that are going to be a challenge since they are a pretty consistent minus 100. Every night.  Must take a while to warm up in the mornings.

Then also there is the little nit picky thing about the Martian atmosphere which is only 0.1% oxygen. Earth’s atmosphere is pretty ideal for humans with an average [another thing I got wrong, it ‘s a constant] of 21% oxygen, more than one-fifth of every breath we take.  The rest of Mars atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide, at around 96%. So I have to ask, how are earthlings who say they are scared to death over the fact carbon dioxide on earth has increased in the last 250 years from 0.03% to 0.04% of earth’s atmosphere, ever going to want to go were the level of CO2 is 2,500 times as much as on earth?

[Isn’t it curious that even though we are told that less than 1% of CO2 in earth’s atmosphere is a powerful greenhouse gas that is going to roast us in a fiery grave within a few years, but an atomosphere full of it can’t warm Mars up to anything better than 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the middle of the day? Mars is half again farther away from the Sun, but still. With all that CO2?]

Perhaps enough people will be willing to ignore all those little things, though. I say this because there will be on huge benefit to a lot of Americans. Mars is roughly one-half the mass of the earth, meaning that a human on Mars will weigh about one-half as much as on earth. Just think, if you’re 300 pounds here, you will be a svelte 150 pounds on Mars. That will surely put a spring in your step.

Well, you wouldn’t exactly be svelte. You’ll still look like a stuffed elephant you’ll just weigh less.

Now, if you could just breath and stay warm. Does Elon Musk plan to take all the oxygen, water, food, and warm air on each Mars trip of 100 people that will last a minimum of 230 days? And that’s what he’ll need even if everyone heads back to earth right after landing on Mars.

One of the problems with diesel submarines in the Pacific theater of WW II was that on a typical 75-day patrol at least one of the 55-man crew was likely to need medical care involving surgery, and there were no surgery facilities on a submarine.  This problem was addressed by the presence of sub tenders just outside the war zone that could be reached within 2-3 days to off load a sick sailor. You also have to consider that all the men on a submarine were in their 20s and tip-top healthy at the start of the patrol.

100 people on a Mars mission in space for 115 days [9 months!] on each leg is going to present some intense medical situations. They will not for the most part be healthy young men. The enormous cost of the trip will only be affordable by older, more wealthy people who will be more susceptile to illness in their strange new environment.

There is nothing wrong with dreaming. There is nothing wrong with chasing a dream. You just have to understand the risks you’re taking. You have to consider if the risk you’re taking is reasonable and manageble, or if it’s batshit crazy and catastrophic.

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