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The John Batchelor Show Hotel Mars, Wednesday, 10-15-14 October 16, 2014

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The John Batchelor Show Hotel Mars, Wednesday, 10-15-14

Featuring Dr. Oliver de Weck, Sydney Do, Koki Ho,  Andrew Owens 


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John Batchelor and I welcome Dr. Oliver de Weck, Sydney Do, Koki Ho, & Andrew Owens to Hotel Mars for our regarding their paper and analysis, “An Independent Assessment Of The Technical Feasibility Of The Mars One Mission Plan.” You can download their 35 page report at  http://web.mit.edu/sydneydo/Public/Mars%20One%20Feasibility%20Analysis%20IAC14.pdf.  We welcomed the MIT authors of the paper “An Independent Assessment Of The Technical Feasibility Of The Mars One Mission Plan.”  John recorded four segments for an hour broadcast on The John Batchelor Show which is why you will hear the archived version divided into four segment with their own introduction.  In addition, we used a conference calling system to bring all but one of the authors on the program so you will hear a tone difference in this show and perhaps a soft echo type sound.  We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause you.


We started our 40 minute program by John asking Dr. de Weck for the origin of this paper.  Dr. de Weck took us back to beginning in 2004 providing us with an interesting leading up to the present time.  Given the number of guests on the program, John and I directed our questions to each person by name.  Some of the issues we talked about were life support for being on Mars and other issues referenced in their report & analysis “An Independent Assessment Of The Technical Feasibility Of The Mars One Mission Plan.” We also discussed the Mars One plan to grow food and the possible O2 poisoning resulting from that effort.  Since Mars One said that all the technologies were here now and on the ISS, the authors used the ISS as a source.  They discovered that many of the needed life support technologies are not available or tested for space let alone the Martian environment even if used here on Earth.  Our guests took us through many of the assumptions of the Mars One Mission as taken from their own statements and website.  The authors concluded that most if not all the technologies needed for humans to survive on Mars per their mission plan were today at a very low TRL or Technology Readiness Level.  Other issues that we talked about focused on the need for spare parts with this need rapidly growing to a point beyond Mars One capabilities.  3D printing was discussed as a replacement for spare parts  as was ISRU, the possible need for a rescue mission, Martian gravity & artificial gravity, Falcon Heavy launches and Dragon’s lined up on the Martian surface for the habitat plus other parts of the Mission Plan.


Please post any comments/questions you might have on The Space Show blog. You can contact any of  us through me.


1. J Fincannon - October 18, 2014

Interesting show and I will highly recommend to my colleagues. I will need to read the paper, but one thing that occurred to me while listening to the show was the somewhat bleak approach to fixing the excess oxygen problem. If you are growing plants anyway, then perhaps it is required to use combustion to burn a certain amount of excess debris to “use up” some excess oxygen (and restore some CO2). Sure, it is not a current “standard”, but they do have combustion experiments on ISS, so perhaps its not so threatening.

Kirk - October 19, 2014

Exactly! What an embarrassing epitaph, “Died of asphyxia due to excessive oxygen.” If you found yourself on Mars in a habitat which was not designed to deal with the excess oxygen (something which, in hindsight, was very predictable), you wouldn’t sit around for two months watching the Pressure Control Assembly slowly vent your atmosphere until you depleted your N2 tank. You’d shut that down and take a wrench to the Oxygen Generating Assembly, disconnect the hydrogen line to the Sabatier reactor, and burn some H2.

2. The Space Show - October 16, 2014


Sorry for your headache. Take two aspirins in the morning and call your doctor if it persists. Or read the archive summary for the explanation of the echo issue as it is explained there. Finally, if it could have been removed in editing, don’t you think it would have been removed given that when I archived this segment, I alerted listeners to this issue. The recording was done in The John Batchelor Radio Studio. I suspect it was caused by the number of people on the show forcing us to go to freeconference.com for a conference line given we did not have enough individual phone lines for everyone. I further suspect that most of the guests used a cell phone for their connection to freeconference.com. I took the Batchelor mp3 recording off their website to archive on The Space Show. Sometimes there are audio issues but gee, had I known you would have such a severe headache, I would have told you to avoid listening to the segment to protect your health. By the way, most of the time I take feed live from one of his streaming stations as a .wav and then process it myself. This was a pre-record session in the afternoon so I waited for the final show in broadcast form to put it on TSS site. Like Space Show recordings, I suspect John uses single track recording so once there are audio issues with it, most of the time the issues cannot be resolved although sometimes the problems can be moderately mitigated. Not so with this problem as I believe it resulted from our conference phone bank. I have used many freeconference.com lines for Space Show programs and have not had this problem but again, it was not my recording. In any event Kirk, I do hope you got some of the content of the discussion. I thought the authors had much to say and it was a good discussion. I have asked them if they want to do a full Space Show program and interact with the listeners. I am waiting for a reply.


Kirk - October 16, 2014

Thanks for pointing me to the echo explanation in the summary; I had missed that. (I suppose I’ve gotten into the habit of skipping past the boilerplate.) Wow! I honestly thought that it was a “spacey” sound effect that Batchelor had intentionally added. Had I realized that it was a technical problem I would have left the snark outside the airlock.

Yes, the show was a good one — BZ to you for putting it together — and I have a lot to comment about it, but I am still working my way through their paper.

Actually, I’m trying to chase down the rationale for their 30% O2 (actual percentage, not partial pressure) high fire risk failure limit (pg 5). They reference a 178 pg 2006 NASA document “Recommendations for Exploration Spacecraft Internal Atmospheres”, which is itself very interesting, but it gets its 30% figure from the 54 page 2005 NASA document “Bounding the Spacecraft Atmosphere Design Space for Future Exploration Missions”.

This third document mentions that 30% O2 is the “current NASA maximum testing limit for general material use inside spacecraft habitable (cabin) areas.”

More surprisingly, it states, “By contrast with human respiration that depends primarily on oxygen partial pressure in the atmosphere, materials flammability depends strongly on oxygen concentration (volume percent) and to a lesser extent on total pressure” (pg 11) which is contrary to my naive understanding. For instance, I always thought that the 100% O2 design for early Apollo wasn’t an issue at its reduced pressure in space, but was only a problem at one atmosphere (or slightly more during pad tests) on the ground.

I’ll follow up here when I learn more on the subject, and then get back to the comments on this particular show.

And yes, I would enjoy hearing more from these guests. I’d love to call in and ask them a couple of questions.

And as far as the echo induced headache goes, as Simberg says, “Safe is Not and Option”. The risk it worth the potential reward.

3. Kirk - October 16, 2014

[30:56] John Batchelor: “This is Hotel Mars, the real thing. We are on the surface or Mars.”

From the echo it sounds as if it was recorded in a bathroom on the surface of Mars. The resulting podcast was much harder to listen to than the worst cell phone connection of any caller into any episode of The Space Show I’ve listened to so far. I had a headache ten minutes in, and had to grit my teeth to stick out the full forty minutes.

Is there some way to remove the echo in post-processing?

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